#WaybackWednesday

Coach Margraf Recognized for His Influence on New England Baseball

It’s snowing.

Thanksgiving is Thursday.

Hockey starts next week.

And Lawrence Academy is already thinking about baseball season…

This month, long time LA Baseball Head Coach Chris Margraf was selected (and lauded) as one of the six most influential people in New England baseball by the NEBJ.

After talking to Mr. Margraf, New England Baseball Journal’s Dan Guttenplan wrote of his beginnings at LA :

“When I first started here, we had an iconic hockey coach, Charlie Corey,” Margraf said. “I would get the hockey kids who could play baseball. When you look at Belmont Hill, BB&N, Roxbury Latin … they always had a good base to grab kids that could play baseball. Baseball was always good, but lacrosse was also very substantive at these schools. From the Lawrence standpoint, we went from a school where baseball was secondary and on the verge of possibly fading out because of the rise of lacrosse to now having a lot of baseball-first kids.”

And speaking of baseball-first kids, LA been consistent in collecting collegiate-level baseball talent, explained Guttenplan.

“It started with Tyler Beede; all of a sudden, we had this credibility,” Margraf said to NEBJ. “When you look inside (Interstate) 495 at the day schools, they always had strong baseball programs.

“What that did is make boarding schools more competitive.”

Margraf since has had a steady stream of Division 1 talent pass through his school. Joe Napolitano (Concord, Mass.) and Max Tishman (Wellesley, Mass.) followed Beede’s path through Lawrence Academy and went on to play at Wake Forest.

When asked about the article, Mr. Margraf shook off any praise and pointed to prep baseball as the real story.

“Just happy for independent school baseball in New England, our student-athletes and all varsity coaches who do so much more than coach – they teach, advise, dorm parent, counsel for college, etc.,” he said.

“I am proud that I can be associated with such an extraordinary group of peer coaches who have helped to build a very competitive baseball league in New England while making sure that their student-athletes do not define themselves by their baseball abilities, but, instead, by being good citizens.”

Beyond Margraf’s deflection, the proof of his influence on the young people in his charge remains “in the pudding.”

And this year, there’s plenty of tasty post-high school dessert to pass around – in the form of collegiate baseball destinations for the Spartans.

And one particular parent — with a pretty impressive baseball pedigree of his own — praised his own son’s LA experience even as he celebrated.

As such, we stand by our first tweet when we heard about Coach Margraf’s latest accolade and congratulate his being recognized beyond the borders of the elm tree-shaded hillside.

Bailey Earns 1000th “Kill” During LA’s Volleyball Championship Victory

Groton, Mass. — Being close to the court (rink, field, mat), the game-within-the-game becomes clearer, particularly regarding interactions between coaches and players.

Most of the time coaches endeavor to motivate (in many, many ways), but sometimes they simply celebrate the fantastic achievements of their charges.

As the Spartans completed their first successful set during their eventual 3-0 win over Governor’s on Sunday, some cards came into view via Head Coach Steve Engstrom; cards announcing how close Gabi Bailey ’19 was to breaking the 1000 “kill” marker for her high school career.

Casually held aloft, the cardboard ticked up to the significant milestone, alerted the partisan home crowd to impending collective memory.

997.

998.

999.

Then, at the beginning of the second set, it happened:

“Oh gosh,” said a visibly relieved Bailey, postgame. “This is so awesome.

“I couldn’t have done it without all of [my teammates] and they really, really put on a show today.

“It was awesome,” she said. “So exciting.”

Bailey’s memorable play set the tone for the Spartans taking the second and third set — after a very, very tight opening stanza against a tenacious Govs team — en route to the eventual victory and a NEPSAC Class B title for LA.

But then, Gabi setting the tone is certainly no surprise to anyone who has seen her play for Lawrence Academy.

“[Bailey] really has turned around the program,” said Head Coach Steve Engstrom. “She was able to give us the offense that we never had before.

“The fact that she got her thousandth kill here in the finals was – well, it was amazing.”

For her part — and true to form on this team — Bailey passed the praise on to others.

“I knew [what] Dasha was going to do; couldn’t have gotten it without Dosh,” said Bailey of fellow senior Dasha Zhuravleva, who has fed Gabi’s powerful right arm for two seasons. “She’s an awesome setter.

“And with everyone’s passing,” she added, “I just knew I was going to come together.”

However, her teammates were thrilled to see the future Nittany Lion (as Bailey is heading to Penn State next fall) hit the heretofore unexpected milestone.

Coach Engstrom had kept the possibility a secret…

“I did not know that was happening today,” said a laughing senior Spartan standout Nicole Winthrop. “I guess I missed the memo.

“I saw Mr. Engstrom holding up like the 999. I was like, ‘Well what the heck is that?’

“And then she comes out with a 1000 sign; it was so exciting!” she said.

It certainly was, Nicole! It certainly was… Congratulations to Gabi and the entire roster. Mr. B & Mr. G

Gabi

Lawrence Academy Girls’ Volleyball Takes the New England Class B Title

Groton, Mass. — After a 3-0 victory over Governor’s Academy on Sunday, Lawrence Academy Varsity Volleyball Head Coach Steve Engstrom smiled ear-to-ear as he recounted his club’s journey from also-rans to NEPSAC champions. 

“Oh Man, what a game,” said the deceivingly intense, bespectacled coach of the Spartans. “[I remember] three years ago after the first playoff loss in the quarterfinals; then the semi-finals last year. Then we made it to the finals this year.

“We’re really excited about how it turned out.”


Watch the entire championship game… 


As far as Mr. Engstrom’s understatement goes, the entire LA community — many of whom were in the gym to witness LA’s latest NEPSAC title — were pretty pleased, as well.

Far from the easy 3-0 romp belied on the scoreboard, Governor’s girls’ varsity volleyball, a tried-and-true ISL foe, gave the Spartans all they could handle early.

“It was an exciting game from start to finish,” said the coach, trying to calculate stats in his head. “We were just nervous in the first set.

“That was quite a struggle … similar to yesterday [a 3-0 win against Dana Hall]. We couldn’t quite get our offense going.


Vs. Dana Hall in the Semi-final…


“The second set, we felt a little more comfortable,” added Engstrom. “We were getting our serves in… we started getting going, and we never looked back.”

However, many Spartan fans will look back at this game as the culmination of the career of — perhaps — the best volleyball player to don the red, white, and blue, Gabi Bailey ’19.

The Penn State-bound senior, whose grandfather was a member of LA’s undefeated 1955 football team, posted her 1000th high school “kill” early in the second set.


Gabi Bailey’s 1000th…

The full Twitter thread is may be found @lawrenceacademy.


“It was awesome,” said Engstrom, who held up cards signifying Bailey’s progress toward the goal to the delight of the partisan LA crowd. “I mean, she really has turned around the program.

“She was able to give us the offense that we never had before,” he continued, speaking to Bailey’s arrival two years ago. “And, what it did, was help the other girls in the team get so much better; being able to practice against the best hitter in the ISL.

“The fact that she got her thousandth kill here with in the finals was – well, it was amazing,” he said.

And the progress of the entire team was first-and-foremost on Coach Engstrom’s postgame mind.

IMG_5746

“We’ve had some of our seniors have been here since freshman year, and we were something like 3-16 at that point, and it was a totally different team,” he explained. “But they have put in the years, and we slowly grew in our success.

“We worked a lot during preseason and during the season in practices just to keep getting as many touches and get as much experience on the court, so we feel comfortable when it comes down to the games like this.”

Despite that experience, Engstrom also spoke about the LA community and how it embraced his team down the stretch.

“It’s so much fun to be able to see is our fan section out there and just really trying to bring it,” said Engstrom. “Our girls noticed them, for sure, and we saw it yesterday, and they talked about it after the game; how exciting it is when, when the fans get on their feet and just in our new ‘newish’ gym.

“It’s been a lot of fun.”


FWIW: LA’s Most Recent New England Titles

2018 – 19 — Volleyball

2017 – 18 — Football, Boys’ Hockey

2015 – 16 — Football

2014 – 15 — Boys’ Soccer, Football

2011 – 12 — Boys’ Hockey

2008 – 09 — Field Hockey

2002 – 03 — Girls’ Soccer

Last volleyball title?

1997 A.I.S.G.A. Volleyball Tournament  – 1st Place

Lawrence Academy Celebrates Class of 2019 Collegiate Athletic Commitments

Groton, Mass. — This week, two sets of Lawrence Academy Spartan seniors announced (and in some cases signed) their commitments to continue their athletic careers in college.

Division I and II athletes from all sports (except for most Division I basketball and all D-I and II football players) may sign a National Letter of Intent.

Wednesday and Thursday in the Gray Building, tucked into the venerable MacNeil Lounge, a crowd several people deep applauded as each student from the Class of 2019 took their turn in the spotlight.

Wednesday’s Group

  • Gabi Bailey (Penn State University Volleyball)
  • Jamie Comeau (Providence College Hockey)
  • Erika Lizotte (Sacred Heart University Hockey)
  • Wyatt Blackshaw (Connecticut College Lacrosse)
  • Mia Fusco (Trinity College Hockey)

Thursday’s Group

  • Jordan Kjoniksen (West Point Baseball)
  • Nikki Arnold (Sacred Heart University Basketball)
  • Max Meier (Stanford University Baseball)
  • Tyler Gonzalez (Stetson University Baseball)
  • Maeghan Foley Rabbitt (Stonehill College Soccer)
  • Mackenzie Ryan (Bentley University Soccer)
  • Brian Underhill (St. Anselm College Soccer)

Both days’ ceremonies featured loud appreciation from the many, many classmates, friends, faculty, and family members as the twelve LA seniors donned their collegiate gear to announce their intentions, sign an NLI, or just celebrate their achievement.

“These are always the best days of the year,” said Athletic Director Kevin Potter with a big smile. “When the kids come to LA you’re simply hoping to give the students a chance to compete at the highest level possible.”

Looking over the huge, happy crowd, Potter added:

“When the kids move on and are able to continue their careers it’s incredibly gratifying for the community and all of us in the athletic department, especially.

“We wish all of our seniors the best, and hope they will come back to share their experiences at the NCAA level with the next generation of Spartans.”

Congratulations seniors!