Chelts’ Szczepanek signs with Temple
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.
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“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.”