The Cornwall-Lebanon School District celebrated college revelations for two senior field hockey players Thursday afternoon with a ceremony at Cedar Crest High School.
Kelsy Kauffman signed her National Letter-of-Intent to attend Division-One Bucknell University, and Rachel Youngs picked hometown Lebanon Valley College as her destination next fall.
Surrounded by friends, family and classmates, the tandem announced intentions to become the third and fourth Falcon field hockey players to advance to the collegiate level in the past three years.
"It's just been really great for the younger players in our program," said Crest coach Dana Risser. "It's something they see and want to achieve and inspire to do."
Temple sophomore Hannah Whitman (2011 grad) and Lafayette freshman Abby Stefanides (2012 grad) have also extended their playing days since Risser took over the varsity squad three seasons ago.
"It's great to see as a coach that they want to move on in the sport. It's an awesome sight," added Risser, a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic field hockey team.
Kauffman, a midfielder/forward, heads to Lewisburg-based Bucknell after leading the Falcons with 17 points this fall. She scored five goals and added seven assists on the way to earning recognition on the Lancaster-Lebanon League Section One All-Star team and All-County squad.
"I looked around at a bunch of different schools," Kauffman said, including Delaware, Lehigh and William & Mary. "I had gone to a clinic at Bucknell in the spring, and I just loved the campus and loved the coach. I kind of just knew from that clinic that it's where I wanted to go."
The Bison finished 9-10 overall in 2012 playing in the Patriot League under sixth-year head coach Jeremy Cook. Bucknell's roster consists of a near 50/50 split of Pennsylvania and New Jersey natives. The orange-and-blue open 2013 in August against Connecticut.
"I got to meet some of the girls on the team when I went on an official visit in the fall, and I really liked them," added Kauffman. "And the coaches' style really reminded me a lot of Coach Risser's style of coaching. I think it will be young, upbeat people that are really passionate about the sport."
Kauffman expects to major in biology, eventually parlaying that into a career in the medical field. On the athletic field, she plans to add another scoring threat to Bucknell's attack.
"Quickness is one of my strong suits, I would say. Plus, I just want to put the ball in the net," she said. "I love to score. I'll do anything it takes."
Kauffman also intends to improve the finer points of her own game while going head-to-head against the country's top student-athletes.
"I definitely (can improve) a lot of my skills," she explained. "My hitting and stopping - along with some of my more advanced skills, like reverse chips, that kind of thing."
Risser doesn't project Kauffman to have many problems adjusting to a Division One battleground.
"She has a little of everything," said Risser. "She's naturally athletic, but she works harder than most other kids at this level. She knows what she wants and she realizes what she needs to do to get there and is willing to do whatever it takes."
Risser aided in Kauffman's decision-making process, albeit in a minor role.
"I did a little, but she's fortunate to be a solid player," said Dana Risser.
Brandon Risser, who coaches Kauffman in track and field during the spring, attended Thursday's festivities sporting a smile and Bucknell orange-and-blue tie.
"He's very excited about it. He told me he was saving the tie just for today," laughed Kauffman. "There so many people to thank - my parents (Tracy and Tom) for always helping me and backing me up with everything.
"My Cedar Crest field hockey experience was wonderful. I loved the coaches. Coach Risser and the rest of the staff were amazing.
As for Youngs, sidetracked by an ACL injury her senior campaign, she joins a Dutchmen squad that posted a 12-9 last season in the Middle Atlantic Conference.
"I looked around a little bit, but LVC was my choice from the start. No other school compared to it," said Youngs, planning on double majoring in accounting and business administration, along with playing lacrosse and field hockey.
"Honestly, our program (at Cedar Crest) turned around when coach Risser took over as head coach," said Youngs, daughter of George and Elizabeth. "We can really notice a difference with our playing abilities and skill levels. That produces collegiate-level players."