Joyce finds perfect college fit

Record Sports Writer
November 21, 2013

1472932_565782140162035_1702155815_nThe search for where she’ll continue her swimming career is over for Stroudsburg senior Emily Joyce.

Joyce signed a letter of intent Tuesday to attend Drexel University and compete for the swimming and diving team next year.

“It’s a huge relief,” Joyce said. “I’m so lucky and excited to be attending such a great school, and to be part of the Drexel swim team.”

One visit to Drexel’s campus and Joyce immediately knew it was the school for her.

“It was the ‘ah ha moment’ that everyone looking at colleges hopes for,” Joyce said. “The campus is beautiful, the coaches were amazing and the team is very academically motivated, along with the university itself.”

Joyce is thankful to her parents, Christopher and Jennifer, for getting her to this point.

“They’ve always supported me, all the late nights and long drives and tournaments,” Joyce said. “It’s cliche, but I really couldn’t have done this without them.”

At Stroudsburg, Joyce takes advanced placement classes, is the secretary of the National Honor Society and has a 4.0 grade point average. She plans to be major in pre-med.

“Drexel had all the opportunities I wanted as a pre-med student,” Joyce said. “The co-op program will allow me to gain experience in a hospital and help me figure out what I want to specialize in.”

At an early age, Joyce’s love of the water was obvious to her YMCA coach Mike Wolbert.

“Emily joined our team when she was eight years old,” Wolbert said. “She was very athletic, very determined. She always wanted to be the best and race everybody.”

Last year was the first time Joyce qualified for the YMCA Nationals in Greensboro, N.C. — not an easy feat by any means.

“There about 1,600 athletes that qualify out of the 250,000 that swim for the YMCA,” Wolbert said. “She’s already qualified for a few events this year as well.”

Joyce is the first athlete to compete collegiately for second-year Stroudsburg coach Michele Saffer.

“I am very excited for Emily, she’s a fantastic swimmer and great all-around leader,” Saffer said. “She has tremendous drive and will swim until she drops.”

Joyce is the two-time Mountain Valley Conference champion in the 500 freestyle and is three-time champion in the 200 freestyle.

As a junior, Joyce qualified for the PIAA championships after her school-record time of 5:08.94 in the 500 free at the District 11 Class AAA Championships. She took fourth in both the 200 and 500 free at the district meet, setting the school record in the 200 as well with a time of 1:55.42.

Last year, Joyce shared MVC Swimmer of the Year honors with Stroudsburg’s Alex Burns and has been part of the Mounties’ two-time MVC champion 400 free relay team.

Drexel’s swimming and diving team posted a record of 2-8 last season. Joyce feels she can help coach Shawn Markey and the Dragons turn things around.

“The coaches are working to build a program of very academically oriented athletes,” Joyce said. “They want a disciplined team, a team that works hard in the classroom and uses that same work ethic in their training.”

Markey can already see Joyce’s potential and expects her to do great things her senior year at Stroudsburg.

“Emily has an unlimited amount of potential at the next level,” Markey said. “She will be an integral part in our distance free events next year. We are excited to see what Emily can accomplish this year and are looking forward to working with her in September.”

Lady Buck Swimmer Commits to Rider University

By Kevin Edwards
Posted Nov. 21, 2013 @ 6:47 pm


1456612_655454907810466_296884559_nBaileigh Vanderhoof has been battling the odds since the very moment she arrived on the scene.

One of triplets born nearly three months premature to Lynne & Ray Vanderhoof, Baileigh couldn’t even breathe on her own during the first days of her life.

However, the fighting spirit she’s displayed from birth served Baileigh well in every aspect of her life … emotionally, academically and athletically.

“When Baileigh was a little girl, she looked up at me and said ‘Oh, Mommy, I’m definitely going to get a swimming scholarship someday,'” Lynne recalled, a shimmer in her eye and a catch in her throat. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think way back then that this day would ever come.”

Dream Realized
As the years passed, though, Baileigh grew stronger and more confident. Suddenly those aspirations seemed increasingly realistic.

Finally, that fateful day did arrive … the day Baileigh officially signed her Letter of Intent to swim collegiately at Rider University.

Wallenpaupack Area school officials, coaches and faculty members gathered in the high school conference room Friday afternoon to witness Vanderhoof sealing the deal on her NCAA Division I swimming scholarship. “As her Mom and her coach, I couldn’t possibly be any prouder,” Lynne said.  “Baileigh has always been so determined and focused. She’s worked incredibly hard and I’m so happy for her.” For her part, Baileigh is equal parts happy and relieved. The process of choosing a college has been long and arduous. However, now that it’s over, Baileigh can’t wait to begin this next exciting chapter in her life.

“I love my school and my team and my teammates,” Baileigh said. “Part of me would like to stay here forever. But, part of me wants to leave and get started today. I’m really excited about everything.”

Michael Wolbert, Baileigh’s YMCA coach since age 12, was also on hand and thrilled to see the culmination of so much hard work. “The first thing I noticed about Baileigh was how hard she worked and how much she liked to compete,” Coach Wolbert said. “She’s always been a really spunky kid and I loved working with her.”

By the Numbers
Four years ago, when Baileigh arrived at Wallenpaupack Area High School, there was no district-sponsored varsity swim team.  That didn’t stop the Vanderhoof Family from building a highly successful program, though, one that just this year was finally embraced fully by Paupack.  As a freshman, Baileigh made her presence felt at both the Lackawanna League and District Two levels.  She swam her way to D-2 and Regional gold medals in the 100M butterfly, which resulted in a first-ever trip to the PIAA State Championships.  “That was pretty amazing,” Baileigh said. “It was an awesome experience. It made me work even harder.”  That blue collar work ethic served Vanderhoof well over the next three years.  As a sophomore, Baileigh took silver in the 100M butterfly and the 100M breastroke at the league championships. She also qualified and competed at the YMCA Nationals and was a USA Junior Olympic champion.
Last winter, Vanderhoof took her game to the next level. Baileigh captured gold medals in the 200M individual medley at districts and regionals, which resulted in another berth at the state meet.  Additionally, her time of 2:13.10 set a brand new District Two record, breaking a mark that had stood since 2005. She is the defending Lackawanna League champ in the 200 IM and placed second in the 100M breaststroke.

“Baileigh is a great kid and it’s been a joy coaching her,” Wolbert said. “I can’t wait to see what she can accomplish at the next level.

Vanderhoof had more than 30 schools competing for her services. She visited perennial powers like Georgetown, Lafayette and Lehigh before heading to Rider.  “I just liked everything about Rider,” Baileigh said.  “The coach was great, I loved the school and the team made me feel so welcome and comfortable.” Last season, under the direction of Coach Steve Fletcher, the Broncs’ men’s squad captured another MAAC title and the women finished second. Vanderhoof is setting her sights high academically as well. Baileigh will major in biology at Rider with an eye toward going pre-med. She is a member of the National Honor Society.