Chelts’ Szczepanek signs with Tem­ple

The Globe - - LETTERS - By Mike Prince

There were plenty of rea­sons for Gabby Szczepanek to ac­cept an ath­letic schol­ar­ship of­fer to play lacrosse at Tem­ple Univer­sity af­ter her se­nior sea­son at Chel­tenham High School.

The abil­ity to play lacrosse at a Division 1 pro­gram was the big­gest mo­ti­va­tion for Szczepanek to at­tend the North Philadel­phia univer­sity, but it cer­tainly wasn’t the only one.

“My par­ents met at Tem­ple,” Szczepanek said. “My dad works there. My sis­ter goes there. I have a lot of con­nec­tions to the school and it’s also in the city, so there are a lot of in­tern­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

In the end, Szczepanek’s main goal was to play la-

crosse at the school she’s al­ways wanted to at­tend, but as the 17-year-old Chel­tenham se­nior said, “things hap­pen for a rea­son and I think ev­ery­thing that hap­pened just hap­pened at the right time.”

On Mon­day morn­ing, in front of her par­ents and Chel­tenham girls’ lacrosse coach Dave Bur­ton, Szczepanek, who ver­bally com­mit­ted back in May of this yHDr, unRI­fiFLDOOy VLJnHG KHr Na­tional Let­ter of In­tent to play lacrosse at Tem­ple start­ing in 2012.

Choos­ing be­tween Tem­ple, Marist and Franklin and Mar­shall, Szczepanek, D PLG­fiHOGHr/GHIHnGHr, VDLG the process of choos­ing the rLJKW FROOHJH wDV GLI­fiFuOW, but when it came down to KHr finDO GHFLVLRn, VKH wDV 100 per­cent sure of where she wanted to go.

“Play­ing Division 1 lacrosse was al­ways a goal of mine and the Big East is such a com­pet­i­tive con­fer­ence, so I’m re­ally ex­cited to be play­ing at Tem­ple,” said Szczepanek, who also plays fiHOG KRFNHy Ln WKH IDOO. “,’P most look­ing for­ward to play­ing lacrosse there over ev­ery­thing.”

Szczepanek, who was re­cruited as a de­fender, plans to ma­jor in jour­nal­ism or DnRWKHr fiHOG RI FRPPunLFD­tions. In fact, ed­u­ca­tion is very im­por­tant to the fouryear Chel­tenham starter, as she earned Aca­demic Al­lAmer­i­can hon­ors this past year.

When asked about his thoughts on Szczepanek’s de­ci­sion, Bur­ton had noth­ing but pos­i­tive things to say about his star player.

“Gabby loves lacrosse as much, if not more than any player I’ve coached,” he said. “She just loves ev­ery­thing about it. And be­cause of that, she has al­ways been will­ing to put in ex­tra time study­ing the game, prac­tic­ing the game and tak­ing part in sum­mer leagues and fall ball. As a re­sult, she’s very tal­ented and very skilled.

“She doesn’t have much size, but she doesn’t let that stand in her way. She’s so tough and so strong and peo­ple say she can’t be­lieve that be­cause of how quiet and re­served she is in school DnG RII WKH fiHOG. SKH rHDOOy ded­i­cates her­self to the game and I have been so lucky to coach her and have her on my team.”

Bur­ton went on say that Szczepanek has been noth­ing but an amaz­ing team­mate and re­spected by ev­ery­one who she has ever played with, which would ex­plain what the se­nior says she is go­ing to miss most about leav­ing Chel­tenham.

“I’m go­ing to miss mostly the friend­ships I’ve made with other play­ers,” Szczepanek said. “I’m go­ing to miss a lot of the peo­ple who are on my team – girls I’ve been play­ing with since third or fourth grade. This is the last year I’ll have the op­por­tu­nity to play with them and I’m go­ing to miss that very much.”

Szczepanek also be­lieves that mak­ing the de­ci­sion now rather than later should help her to pre­pare bet­ter for the up­com­ing sea­son.

“Last year, I put so much pres­sure on my­self and I al­ways want to be the best that I can be,” she said. “I knew so many girls that were com­mit­ted and I thought I was late, but it all worked out at the right time.”

Whether it hap­pened months ago, now or in a few months, Bur­ton said there was only one thing that he be­lieves re­gard­ing Szczepanek’s de­ci­sion and her fu­ture of be­ing a lacrosse player at Tem­ple.

“I would never un­der­es­ti­mate Gabby at the next level,” he said. “Her de­ter­mi­na­tion and work ethic is so strong and I don’t know if there is any­thing she can’t do. She al­ways wanted to go to Tem­ple. That’s been her fo­cus for a long time. And now, she should be as great as an as­set there and she has been with our team.”

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