Q&A: Basketball Coach Rob deGrandpre

In late March The Scribe had a sit-down interview with men’s head basketball coach Rob deGrandpre, whois in his 20th year at Hilbert, and 19th season coaching. We discussed the challenges with inconsistency this season along with what he plans to improve on for next season.

TS: How would you describe your time at Hilbert?

Rob : It’s been a long run, but it’s been it’s a labor of love. You know, I remember when I got here back in 2002, I got hired in September, which is a little late for a basketball coach. When I first met the team, there were two twins that showed up to the meeting and they were both about 5 foot one. They were tiny. Obviously, there was a lot of work to do, but you know little by little we got through that first-year. Didn’t know if we would ever get a win; we didn’t have much to work with, but. You know then the following year we brought in a really big recruiting class and then it was just brick by brick, you know the foundation was put in place. Then one win turn into five wins, five wins into ten wins, ten wins into 15 wins. We really got it going probably around the 2011-12 year. I’d like to think we’ve been on the upswing ever since. The last decade has pretty good.

TS: Why do think it was hard stringing together consistent wins?

Rob: In general, we were very young. Great group of guys, you know, nobody was afraid of any work or anything like that, but it was the setbacks I guess, of the COVID year were really, probably a little more to overcome than what we had initially thought. It wasn’t so much that we had lost players to graduation, it was more of last year we just didn’t get a full season in. and in terms of growth and development, we really had to do a lot of that this year. So we were a little behind the 8 ball. You know, we had some signature wins, no question about it. Beating La Roche and Penn State Behrend on the road were a great wins. Even late in the year, winning down at Pitt, Bradford and winning at home to close the year against Mount Aloysius, those are some just some really great wins. Yeah, it’s a long season. It’s a tough season. Our league was good this year, really good and. You know, I think I think our young guys really got a lesson. You know, it was an opportunity to. play a lot of young people and and watch their growth and I think the future looks pretty good with what we have

TS: Do you think those reasons also attribute to the win loss consistency within the past couple of years a whole?

Rob: You know, we had a heck of a backcourt for four years with Messiah Phillips and Hunter Martino. Those guys were really good four-year players. When you graduate guys that are four year impact players, the next class that comes, there’s going to be a learning curve. It takes a little bit of time. You know, we’d all like to, be able to just continue on with, what you have. But sometimes you have to go through a little bit of the bumps and bruises along the way. We have talent, there’s no question we have some talent, it’s the chemistry component of putting the whole thing together and and making sure that you know it works. You know, the season starts on October 15th and. You know, you get up three weeks to really, you know, develop somebody. That’s not enough time. Once the season really gets going with, you know, this year we started, you know, our first game was on November 9th. We played a very good Alpha University team here at home and last by five had had our chances. You know, Alfred University had a great year in the in the Empire 8 Conference. So I I think it kind of goes in waves a little bit. But you know, I go back to you know. If you wanna go back six or seven years, we had a we had a really good stretch of probably 3 20 win seasons in a row and you know regular season Title 3 appearances in the championship game, this close to going to the NCA, it’s and. You know, consistency is hard when you’re on top of the mountain. Everybody wants to knock you off. You know, I thinkthe league’s gotten better you know kudos to the AMCC i mean there’s really no nights off you know you have to come to play.

TS: Those three years you mentioned you lost in the championship all three years. What went wrong in those games?

Rob: The first time around, we lost to a very good Penn State Behrend team on their homecourt. I don’t know if people were shocked that we were in that game, but we certainly deserved to be there. That was the eyeopener. That’s the moment that I think the players realize. Hey, you know we’re one step away from getting what we’ve all worked hard for. The second year believe it or not, it took a half court shot at the buzzer to send the thing into overtime where we fell to Medaille unfortunately. And then the third one we were the number one seed, we hosted and played a very good Pitt Greensburg team, a team that we had beaten twice during the regular season, significantly well. I think we felt good about it. But they had a very good game plan and we lost that game by two points. And you know, it was a tough one. That was a tough, I think. I think that moment for me was, you know, this this is hard. Winning is hard and everybody wants to win everybody likes to win but there’s so much that has to go into it you know for everything to come together and to have you know that magical season where you where you really get what you want and that’s a championship.

TS: What went wrong in the playoff game vs La Roche?

Rob: I think they shot the ball really well, you know. We struggled to score at times. They zoned us a little bit. We did have a really good performance from one of our freshmen, Nevada Eldridge, who really emerged late in the year for us. You know, again, freshman doing this giving us an awful lot, but really came into his own as the season played out and we got closer to the finish line. He was a handful for a lot of opponents. He did a great job and we had a hard time getting him the ball and places where he could score. So just one of those nights where shots weren’t falling. I think we got good shots. The guys that needed to make shots got good looks. It was just a tough game. They’re really good. Yeah, they’re really good and you know, we just had a cold night shooting.  And sometimes those nights happen. We got off to a great start. You know, it was pretty tight until about 8 minutes to go in the first half and they really extended the lead. You know, a lot of long faces in the locker room at halftime that we had to wake up. Hey, we got 20 more minutes to play and we made our runs. We got it down, I think seven or eight a couple times. But we just couldn’t get over the hump at the end and you know, they were a really good team. A lot of size, a lot of athleticism, a lot of different guys that can score inside, score from the perimeter and you know kudos to them. They were good for a reason.

TS: What do you plan on doing differently next season in order to get more wins?

Rob: Were expecting a majority of are guys back. Now it’s another year of growth. The nice part about it is all of our young guys when they come back in the fall, I don’t think their heads will be spinning. They’ll know what the expectations are and what our standards are in terms of excellence. It should be a pretty seamless transition. We do have an unofficial preseason trip to Canada planned for some exhibition games. So that might give us a leg up a little bit on the 2022-23 season. So we’re looking forward to that for sure. Good to get those early tests in good to get those early practices in and should really prepare us for what I think could be a positive step forward with the next season. Recruiting is everything we do have some holes to fill. We’ve got to be a little bit better with the back court with some of our decision making and taking care of the ball and then passing the ball and and you know we have guys that can score but they got to get the ball where they can score and that really falls on you know on our point guard play so

Hilbert Softball Prepares for Season

The Hilbert College women’s softball team is getting ready to kick off their season with a week full of games.

The Lady Hawks are set to play games Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday this week. The softball team will be hosting their first home game on the FSSJ field this Tuesday against Elmira College.

The softball team has been waiting years to have the chance to have home games in their backyard. Last year Gowanda High School allowed the team to host their home games.

Sophomore Adriana Vara said playing on the new fields was exciting.

“It is exciting to be able to have more fans at our games since we are on campus and have close support,” Vara said.

The team is looking forward to performing in front of their peers and hoping for a big turnout. Make sure to check out the FSSJ field at 3 pm and 5 pm to watch the Lady Hawks take on Elmira.

Womens Basketball Looks Toward Next Season

The Hilbert College Women’s basketball team season ended in a 60-68 loss in the conference tournament to Alfred State.

Coming off an abbreviated season last year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Lady Hawks had a lot of turnover from the previous roster. With a first year head coach and a team with many freshman, the Hawks had to find their way as a team.

The Lady Hawks finished the regular season 8-18. They had 2 All conference 3rd team selections in Ashley Schroeder and Macy Kisner. Kisner also won conference defensive player of the year.  

Youth and inexperience came up as one of the biggest reasons for the Lady Hawk’s struggles early in the season, players and coaches.

“We had a new coaching staff, we had a lot of freshmen, and we had a lot of people who had never really played in an actual collegiate game, even are sophomores,” Head Coach Nicole Bullock said. “They played scrimmages, but not a game. We had a lot of challenges to overcome just off the cuff.”  

“Throughout the whole season, it was a lot of adjustments that need to be made because of a new Coach coming in, majority of the girls hadn’t actually played college basketball,” Schroeder said. “Macy and I were the only two who had played consistently out of everyone on the team. And so there was, like a lot of just like trying to figure each other out, trying to figure the game out like it was just very new for a lot of people.  And then once we started figuring things out like we started going on a couple of winning streaks and we started doing a lot better, playing a lot better together as a team.”  

Leadership came up as a reason for the second half turnaround, Bullock said, pointing to Alesia Hamm along with Kisner and Schroeder as players who took on leadership roles.

“I think we have a couple different leadership styles for kids on our team,” Bullock said. “Alesia Hamm is probably our best leader by example. Not the most outspoken person but she is consistently our hardest worker and always giving her best effort.”

Bullock said Schroeder excelled as a leader.

“As a point guard, that’s a natural leadership position,” she said. “She does a really good job of trying to be a positive leader. She will put people where they need to be, remind them where they need to be, but then also is the first person to give you a high five, first person to congratulate you on a good move.”

Kisner also showed a lot of spirit during games.

“Macy is probably our sassiest leader and I say that as an endearing term,” Bullock said. “She just has this real competitive edge to her and kind of allows everybody to feed off that energy. So I think leadership wise those three would probably fit where we’re trying to do.“ 

The Lady Hawks went 7-5 in the second half of the year, good enough to lock up the conference’s No. 4 seed in the conference tournament, and a showdown with Alfred State. Late into the contest the Lady Hawks trailed by 6 with less than half a minute to go in the game and opted to attack the basket instead of attempting a three pointer.

“Whether we got a three or whether we gotta two, it was still gonna be a two possession game. We had not shot well from the floor in general,” Bullock said. “We were not shooting well from the three, so I wanted to get a quick two, possible 3-point play and then get right back into our pressure defense and allow our defensive player of the year and other people do what they do, and if we couldn’t, then we were going to foul and get it back…. Could have gone either way. Could have gone for the three and then allowed to at least get a rebound or facing a rebound and get a quick put back and still would have had it. But I was really trying to get to the free throw line and get the clock stopped as quickly as possible.” 

Kisner said they are best when attacking the basket.

“We’re not a great three-point shooting team,” Kisner said. “If you look at our shooting percentages. It’s not great, and one of our strong points is going to basket and getting to the free throw line. So she was going for the ‘And one’ for that three-point play… getting fouled there is a win win situation, the clock stops, and you have a chance to get points.” 

With another year of experience under everyone’s belt and with incoming recruiting class the Lady Hawks are optimistic in building on their win total next season, Bullock said. 

Athletic Teams Push for New Uniforms and Equipment

With Hilbert Athletics getting back into full swing after having a major gap in their collegiate careers, athletes are looking to have some changes made for their teams.

Many teams, including women’s volleyball, are pushing for new, redesigned black jerseys with the Hilbert logo.

The coaches and players are pressing the need for something more professional and sleek-looking. Right now, teams have been utilizing the blue and white colors for their Home and Away games. But a majority seek a change.

Stephan Houghton on the men’s volleyball team said he is hoping the department goes forward with the change to black jerseys.

“It looks so much more intense and intimidating with the black background and our logo,” Houghton said.

Some students, including Houghton, think it’s time for new equipment, especially in the weight room. He said the equipment needs to be updated and more space would make for a better experience.

Kenny Dango, an athlete from the men’s Lacrosse team, noted the inconvenience that could arise with the new sports, including football with its large roster, in the upcoming Fall semester.

“It’s hard for us to do the workout if we’re crammed in a tight space and don’t have any room,” Dango said. “Personally, I think it needs remodeling because you want to be pumped up to go to the weight room and never leave.”

Dango said that possible issues could arise with sharing the weight room with the new sports programs that were recently announced at Hilbert, particularly adding a whole football team.

“With that many people going to the weight room, it wouldn’t really work out, especially if we’re still social distancing,” the sophomore said. “They would have to divide into groups.”

Athletes also point out the condition of Athletic facilities on the campus. The women’s locker rooms have also been mentioned among the women’s volleyball team, pushing for a more updated and larger feel. Dango also mentions the urgency to have some of these upgrades made before we add three new sports. With Division III Program expansion for Fall 2022, it is unknown how teams will adapt and operate due to the welcoming of our student athletes.

The Hilbert petition argues that since black is an accent color of the college branding, then it should be allowed as an option amongst teams for their jersey color. The petition has been signed by 100 people and has been approved by Dr. Brophy, President of Hilbert College. There is some great potential with the upcoming seasons for our student athletes. Athletes look forward to seeing the possible change in uniform, since it is now up to each individual sport. With the preceding news that we will be gaining these teams, fellow athletes look forward to sharing the program with some of the most popular sports.

 Krista Stephany, a sophomore looks forward to the student life that could be brought back with the addition of Football.

“I look forward to watching the football games the most,” Stephany said. “In high school, it was always fun meeting up with my friends and rooting for our team.”

Stephany said that the football team could help revive the Hilbert Stars Cheerleading team.

“The team has been dormant for some time and I think having a football team will really bring that atmosphere back to a college like Hilbert.”

Hawks Pitcher Looks Forward to Upcoming Season

Since the Covid-19 Pandemic hit in the Spring of 2020 the way our world works has changed drastically. More specifically, College Athletes’ worlds have changed even more drastically. Between not playing games, having to go on pause and limited practices everything a college athlete does has to be one step at a time. The coming season should offer a more normal experience

Brendan Walsh, a right handed pitcher for the Hilbert Baseball team, said he has yet to experience a normal College Baseball season. Last season, the Hawks baseball team was lucky enough to have a season but it was only half the slate as a normal one. With many protocols and precautions added into the mix it was tough to get that full student-athlete experience.

“I’m mainly most excited to get back to the field and play, and see what the guys got in them.” he said. “After a covid season too, I’m excited to actually experience a full season, including our trip to Myrtle.”

Last season, the Hawks finished with an 8-26 overall and 4-14 record in conference play. Although they anticipated a better overall season, it wasn’t for lack of competition. In the end the Hawks found themselves in a one game play-in game vs their rival Medaille to reach the AMCC Playoffs but unfortunately they fell short in extra innings.

However, on Walsh’s end it was anything but disappointing. The then Freshman pitcher had the opposing Mavs held scoreless through five innings. Walsh finished the day going six innings while striking out 7 batters. His day finished with 3 earned runs to his credit.

Walsh said the prospect of a more normal season has he and his teemates more motivated than ever to compete.

“The extra drive everyone has this season that wasn’t particularly there last season,” he said. “No one wants to go out the way we did, and I think the guys really took it to heart, so this coming season I think our whole mindset is really gonna change.”

The Hawks certainly have a lot to look forward to with this coming season as they’ve gotten a multitude of transfers and incoming freshmen to come in and compete this season. Walsh was hurt this summer and had to rehab the tendonitis in his throwing shoulder. However, he said he remained focused on his goal.

“This off season was mainly just lifting and getting mentally and physically prepared for what’s to come,” he said.

 Looking forward the underclassmen seems primed and ready to build off some of his successes on the mound last season with a full schedule to look forward to, as do the Hawks as there is quite a bit of buzz for what they might look like when they take the field this spring. The Hawks will get their next opportunity to compete this fall as their month long practice/scrimmage period is currently in the thick of things.

Preview: Hilbert Baseball

The Men’s Baseball team has kicked off their fall-ball season and have high hopes for their Spring season.

Senior first baseman Brandon Job said having a home field to play on has made practices more enjoyable and beneficial to all of their players.

“Having a home field this year has made fall-ball practices more beneficial, more enjoyable, as it’s been more convenient to walk from the classroom or your dorm room to get to the field, rather than driving off campus to practice.”

The team has been holding practices three days a week, where they focus on batting, fielding, pitching, base running, and bat speed work. 

Freshman pitcher Colin Windle said the team is definitely looking good during their practices and scrimmages.

“All of the hard work we have been putting in for the last three weeks during our practices has been paying off and I think we could have some serious potential this year.”

Saturday October 2nd, the men faced Hilbert’s Baseball alumni in a scrimmage on their new field.

“­­­­­­­­­­­­­It was great showing the new field that we got to the alumni and playing against teammates and past players we haven’t seen in a while. We missed our alumni game last year, so it’s a great kick- off to the fall and we have really high expectations going forward as we move through the season,” said Job.

When they’re not practicing, the baseball team has been working the concession stands at the Buffalo Bills games to help fundraise for their Myrtle Beach Tournament, which takes place during Spring Break.

 Freshman pitcher Brendan Walsh says he’s looking forward to the spring break trip and thinks the team will do really well. “I’m really excited for the spring break trip since we didn’t get to go last year, and my junior year of high school, I went down there and it was a lot of fun. In terms of how our team will do, I think we’ll do super well because of all the improvements we’ve made and the hard work we’ve put in at practice.”

The men are scheduled to face Erie Community College on Monday October 11 at 2pm at the ECC North Campus Baseball Field.

Women’s Softball Set to Kick Off Season

The women’s softball team is set to kick off their fall-ball season.

The team has been practicing every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday and are will hold their first scrimmage this Saturday October 2.

Freshman pitcher Rebecca Marmorato said the hard work they’ve been putting in during practice is preparing the team for their upcoming season.

“The team has been working a couple days a week to strengthen our pitching, infield, and outfield, while also trying to improve our communication on the field,” Marmorato said.

The women hope to have a better season this spring than they had the previous year and are looking forward to playing on their new field.

As of right now, the team is looking strong and there are many players looking strong ahead of the upcoming season, Lily Zimmerman, a freshman third baseman said.

“The team is looking pretty solid so far and we have a lot of new players to contribute to our upcoming season.”

When the team is not practicing, they are continuing to work the Buffalo Bills games in hopes to fundraise for their annual Myrtle Beach Spring Break trip where they will participate in a tournament with several other Division 3 softball teams.

“Hopefully all of these hours we’ve been fundraising will pay off and we will be able to experience the Myrtle Beach trip that was canceled because of Covid-19 last season,” freshman outfielder Gabrielle Jansen said.

As the softball fall-ball season comes to an end, the Men’s Baseball team is preparing for theirs to begin.

“We’re ending our fall-ball season on October 2nd with a scrimmage against Niagara County Community College. It will be exciting to see how it all unfolds,” Marmorato said.

Hilbert Women’s Basketball Plays through Restricted Season

The Hilbert Hawks Women’s Basketball team won’t be playing a complete schedule of games this season due to the safety concerns around COVID-19.

Despite these challenges, the team is ready to get back out onto the court for their four scheduled scrimmages this year. The Hawks haven’t played in a competitive game in over a year, but will soon return.

When asked about the feelings about playing in a competitive game again, head coach Amy Senefelder said she had mixed emotions.

“I’m excited and nervous at the same time for our first game,” Senefelder said. “Usually we are done with our season at this time, but we are just starting our games in March. So I’m very excited at the opportunity to get some games in, but anxious because it has been over a year since we’ve played.”

The 2021 Hawks will go into this season as a very young team, having no seniors, four sophomores and four freshmen. This opportunity has created excitement for some of the team’s sophomores.

“I guess I’m just excited that we get the opportunity to play with each other, even if it won’t really be the same,” sophomore Ashley Schroeder said. “Especially considering our team is so young. Having a scrimmage season might actually be a good thing.”

The entire team is required to get rapid COVID testing three times a week in order to continue practicing and playing in the scrimmages. Senefelder said that the team continues to abide by the COVID-19 safety guidelines on and off the court. If any player contracts the virus the entire program is forced to shut down for ten days. This has made the players extra cautious in an effort to continue to participate for the shortened season.

Macy Kisner, a sophomore player, said the butterflies are already setting in ahead of the upcoming scrimmage against the Medaille Mavericks. “Every night before a game I always get nervous,” Kisner said. “I watch game tapes of the team we are playing and how I play against them and the things I can improve on, the best ways to guard players and the best ways to score. Considering I haven’t played a game in a long time because of COVID, I am nervous to play because I have no idea how the team is going to work together. Even though we only have a four game season I am ecstatic to be able to play a sport I love even if it’s for a short period of time.”

Hilbert Baseball Takes on Wells College

Hilbert’s men’s’ baseball team dropped both games in a double header against Wells College last month.

The team made their way to Wells College early Sunday morning, with the players eager to play after winning one of two of their last games against D’Youville College. Matt Kellner led off the game. Misael Guzman started off pitching for the Hawks.

In the top of the second inning, Guzman hit a 2-run homerun out to right field, putting the Hilbert Hawks at 0-2. Wells fought back in the bottom of the second inning scoring five runs, taking a 5-2 lead. Frank McCabe started off the third inning with a single, and later, a steal to second. “I was sitting on the fastball and he threw me one, so I jumped on it,” McCabe said. Kellner followed with an RBI double, making the score 5-4.

In the bottom of the third inning, Wells came back scoring three more runs, resulting in an 8-4 game. The Hawks then brought in their bullpen pitchers, Zachary Crane, Zackory Panfil, and Michael Contini. The trio was able to throw three shutout innings as well as three strikeouts. “As a bullpen, we threw strikes and executed pitches accordingly,” Contini said.  

Wells’ pitcher threw a complete game, securing an 8-4 for Wells.

The Hawks unfortunately took the loss on game 2 but are planning to bounce back Saturday March 27th at their double header against SUNY Fredonia. The first pitch is set for 12pm.