A new season of Major League Baseball began this week and several Mercyhurst alumni are poised to make an impact in professional organizations this season. On Monday, we examined [add link] expectations for former Laker and Baltimore Orioles outfielder David Lough. Today, in Part Two, Mercyhurst baseball coach Joe Spano will examine alumni in the minor league system and current Lakers to keep an eye on. The Lakers next play on Friday, April 4, against the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown in a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. ET. For the full schedule, please visit HurstAthletics.com.
Hurst Happenings: On Monday, we talked about David Lough. Today, what you can tell us about other Mercyhurst alumni in the minor league system?
Spano: Jamie Walczak is a member of the Cincinnati Reds organization. He excelled in Double-A Dayton last year and was invited to the Arizona Fall League where teams send their best prospects. Jamie did very well. He began as a relief pitcher and finished up as a starter. At one point, he had 16 consecutive scoreless innings in Arizona. I believe he will continue to improve. He has a tremendous work ethic and he’s a fierce competitor. My hope is that he gets moved to Triple-A where he will be one call away from the big leagues.
Zak Blair was drafted this past year by the Chicago Cubs. He had an incredible start and at one point was the leading hitter in minor league baseball. He suffered an elbow injury and his numbers dropped. It was later discovered that he needed to undergo Tommy John Surgery. Zak will be cleared to play in games by April 15 and it is hard to say at what level they will place him. I believe he will work his way up. He is another person who will outwork anyone.
Hurst Happenings: Which current Lakers are getting attention from baseball scouts and who should we keep our eye on? What do you like best about their abilities?
Spano: Dan Altavilla is a junior right-handed pitcher and he is getting the most attention from scouts right now. He had an excellent summer in the storied Cape Cod summer league. His fastball gets as high as 96 mph and he has excellent off-speed pitches to go along with it. Dan attracts a crowd of MLB scouts every time he pitches so I am excited for him and I hope he gets a chance to play at the professional level. [Note: Altavilla became the third Laker under Coach Spano to toss a no-hitter on March 21. He struck out 12 Clarion hitters through seven innings.]
Ryan Siegel is a junior outfielder who won the batting title in the Futures Collegiate summer league. Ryan bats left-handed and his running time is much faster than the average major league outfielder. He uses a blend of speed and power and he is getting attention from MLB scouts. Both guys are near 4.0 students as well.
Thanks again to Coach Spano for his time.
Written by guest blogger Kristen Hudak ’05, alumni board member
Mercy Month 2014 was a huge success – we asked you to post or tweet about the compassionately hospitable things you did throughout the month of March – Mercy Month as we here at the ‘Hurst refer to it – and we were happy to see so many responses. We know that our alumni have been impacted by the Mercy heritage from their time here at the ‘Hurst but seeing it carried with them after they graduate and in so many different ways is something that Catherine McAuley herself would find to be pretty awesome!
We gathered together some of our favorite posts and tweets from Mercy Month, here’s some of the ways our alumni and Mercyhurst community members celebrated Mercy Month both near and far:
-Met a veteran born in 1922 today and he was a riot #MercyMonth2014
-Donated to March 4 Kids to support Mercy Home 4 Boys & Girls #MercyMonth2014 #laker4ever
-Treated the cop ahead in line of me at Chipotle to his burrito. The least I could do during #MercyMonth2014
-Gave up aisle seat with extra legroom for middle seat without so a mom could sit near her kids. Celebrating a very cramped #MercyMonth2014
-Paying the toll for the stranger behind me? Check. That’s what Mercyhurst Lakers do in March. #MercyMonth2014
-#MercyMonth2014 was great – playing bingo with veterans was a perfect way to end March – Mercy in action is so wonderful!
-“Together we can solve hunger … ‘til no one is hungry.” Packing and sorting food donations for #MercyMonth2014 at Capital Area Food Bank
-Paid it forward at the drive-thru at Tim Horton’s in honor of #MercyMonth2014
A job well done to all who participated – you spread the Mercy spirit and that is something to be proud of! Our office also put together an alumni service project in which several staff members and alumni from the area joined together at the Erie VA Medical Center to play bingo with some of the residents. We were surprised how competitive it got! One interesting thing that happened while we were there was an act of Mercy by one of the residents – one individual had won several games of bingo and when all of the prizes were gone, he decided to donate all of his prizes back so that the group could continue playing! What a beautiful act of being compassionately hospitable – although he had won more games than anyone in the room, he found more value in just being together and playing the game than receiving a huge pot of prizes. While the residents enjoyed having us there, I think it was our staff and alumni who truly received the most out of the experience.
One of our alumni that joined us for the service project was Joe Tarasovitch ’85 also enjoyed the day and said “I was touched by the humility of the veterans who served out country so unselfishly. The veterans had a great sense of humor and I thoroughly enjoyed spending the morning with them”.
Our staff member Holly Penco recalls the day by stating “the service project allowed for the Mercyhurst community to share time with a great group of veterans who were living over at the Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center. Not only did it give us the opportunity to enjoy a Saturday morning together, but the company of those who shared army stories, time in the service, laughter, and warm, homemade donuts”!
A big thanks to all who participated in the service project, paid it forward, volunteered, and showed the Mercy spirit – the people that we all helped or spent time with are surely very thankful for the Mercy spirit!
Alumni Board Member Kristen Hudak ’05 presents a blog post for opening day, an interview with Coach Spano!
A new season of Major League Baseball begins today – Monday, March 31 – and several Mercyhurst alumni are poised to make an impact in professional organizations this season. In Part One of this two-part Q&A, Mercyhurst baseball coach Joe Spano, now in his 15th season with the Lakers, shares his expectations this season for former Laker David Lough, an outfielder with the Baltimore Orioles. In Part Two, Spano will examine alumni in the minor league system and current Lakers to keep an eye on. The Lakers next play on Tuesday, April 1, against Indiana University of Pennsylvania in a doubleheader beginning at 12 p.m. ET. For the full schedule, please visit HurstAthletics.com.
Hurst Happenings: What are your expectations for David Lough this season — his first with the Baltimore Orioles?
Spano: Ironically, I received a call from David while I was attending our coaches’ convention in Dallas. He called to tell me how excited he was that [Orioles manager] Buck Showalter called to personally welcome him to the team and tell him how much he wanted David to be an Oriole. He also mentioned that Buck had called him from Dallas.
About a half hour later, I saw Buck visiting a vendor. After getting up enough courage, I approached him and told him I was David Lough’s college coach. He immediately said “Mercyhurst!!! I know all about David and his background. I know all about you guys. I think he’s a hard-nosed kid and I am happy to have him on my team.” I was shocked by how much of a down-to-earth, regular guy he was and I could tell that he appreciated the type of player David is.
I expect David to start out as a fourth outfielder, to play exclusively against right-handed pitchers and to be used as the best defensive option in left field. I think they will use him to rest [Adam] Jones and [Nick] Markakis at times. I think they will realize how special he is and he will become a vital part of a winning team. David makes every team he is on better. He has won at every level and he has a championship ring at every minor league level. I find that amazing and not a coincidence.
Hurst Happenings: What are the biggest keys to his success?
Spano: It is not possible to outwork him. He will be the first person at the stadium and the last to leave. I used to have to chase him out of the recreation center at Mercyhurst. Another key is that he is all about the team and winning. He will play anywhere and do anything to help the team win. He does not care about how he looks or his personal stats as long as the team he is on is winning. Lastly, like all former Lakers (or people crazy enough to play baseball in Erie) he is so mentally tough. After you practice in a small gym for two months and then play your entire season in under-40 degree weather, you are prepared for any obstacle. Nothing prepares you for the big leagues like shoveling the snow off of an entire baseball field and then winning a home series. [Note: Lough recently mentioned this in an interview with Comcast SportsNet.] It sounds crazy, but I know he wouldn’t change his experience for anything in the world and that’s another thing that makes him so successful.
Hurst Happenings: What has David’s time in Major League Baseball meant to Mercyhurst’s baseball program?
Spano: We cherish every moment that David plays in Major League Baseball. I am sure we overdo it, but there are not enough things to paste on Facebook and Twitter to show how proud we are of him. It means so much to our program in so many ways. Our current players and alumni are constantly following him and communicating through social media. It has brought different eras together and a new level of pride to our program and to Mercyhurst.
When David played I had to beg (literally beg) Major League scouts to come to watch us. There were only three scouts that really followed him everywhere.His time in MLB has guaranteed that I will not have to beg anymore. We have had several guys drafted since and we now have an on campus “scout day” every fall organized by the MLB scouting bureau. This fall we had 25 Major League teams represented which is truly amazing.
Hurst Happenings: When did you first realize that David was a special talent?
Spano: After the fall season, the coaching staff is permitted to continue to work on baseball skill work in small groups we call “individuals.” My first individual with David was amazing and by the end of the hour I thought he was different than anyone I had ever coached. It was supposed to be a first day, half-speed learning day and this was the first time David had ever seen or done any of these hitting drills. Freshman typically struggle for a while with these drills. He was in a group with some upperclassman and they had experience with what we were working on. David immediately excelled at these drills and looked more comfortable than the upperclassmen. I remember asking him – are you sure you have never done any of these before? I was blown away and he really never stopped showing me how talented he was, but that was the first time I really thought he had a special talent.
Lough and the Orioles begin their season today at 3 p.m. against the World Series Champion Red Sox on ESPN2, WatchESPN and in the Washington and Baltimore area on MASN. Be sure to check out the Orioles’ schedule this season to see when you can cheer on fellow Laker David Lough.
Thanks to Coach Spano for his time. Look for Part Two later this week.
It’s that time of year – high school seniors are making their decisions of where they will spend the next four year – we all remember the feeling – and we know that the smart ones with make the right choice and attend Mercyhurst (wink wink).
While for many of us it was quite easy to realize that Mercyhurst was the perfect fit, some students need a bit more convincing which is why we’re lucky enough to have a wonderful admissions staff here at the ‘Hurst along with several volunteers – our Alumni Ambassadors!
This March we have had a couple alumni out there spreading the word about Mercyhurst – Alberta Jobczynski ’58, Jeffrey Best ’77 and Rosemary Durkin ’77 have all represented MU at college fairs in their areas. This is a big help for our admissions staff as they are able to have representation by those who know MU so well – our alumni – in areas that they cannot always get to!
Alumni Ambassadors are also able to make phone calls to prospective students – sometimes if a student has their decision narrowed down to two schools, a call from a Mercyhurst alum could help sway them to attend Mercyhurst as our alumni tell fun stories and memories and of how their Mercyhurst education has helped them beyond the gates. If you are interested in representing Mercyhurst and helping students learn more about Mercyhurst, please sign up online to become an Alumni Ambassador, check our site for college fairs in your area, or let us know if there’s one near by that you’d like to attend! Our admissions representative will get you hooked up with great materials and information and you’ll be all set to share your love of the ‘Hurst with others and hopefully help students decide to come to MU!
In addition to recruiting initiatives, several alumni joined in on the Lakers Helping Lakers fun by attending the Alumni and Student Career Networking Night, a Lakers Helping Lakers event this past February. Alumni were joined by over 80 students who were looking to gain networking experience and practiced their skills with alumni who were willing to share their professional stories and advice.
The Career Development Center is always looking for alumni to help other Lakers through career advice, mentoring, and networking, and internship opportunities. Check out the video below for a recap of the night!
You can sign up for Lakers Helping Laker – Career Development opportunities online as well!
For Caitlin Handerhan, a ‘13 political science alumnus currently pursuing graduate studies at Cornell, the weekend also brought a wonderful reunion. Handerhan serves as the Communications Director of the Cornell International Affairs Forum and organized an academic event to address the crisis in Ukraine. One of her first tasks was to invite her Mercyhurst mentor, assistant professor Dr. Lena Surzhko-Harned, to campus to participate in a panel discussion titled “Ukraine, Putin and the New Cold War.” Dr. Surzhko-Harned is an authoritative voice on the ongoing crisis and an expert in Russian and Ukrainian studies.
“I was honored that Dr. Surzhko-Harned accepted the invitation to speak on campus. During my time at Mercyhurst, I had a really special connection to Dr. Surzhko-Harned and she was an excellent mentor to me” said Handerhan. “From working as a research assistant, to co-authoring a conference paper, I learned so much from her, and really feel that her tutelage is the reason I was able to go to Cornell. She is and was such a formative figure in my academic career – to be able to welcome her to Cornell was a really special experience.”
A Mercer, Penn. Native, Handerhan completed numerous classes with Dr. Surzhko-Harned while studying political science and international relations at Mercyhurst and also participated in two organizations that Surzhko-Harned oversees – the Model International Organizations team and the Mercyhurst Equality of Women (MEOW) club.Following the successful panel discussion, Handerhan invited Dr. Surzhko-Harned to join a group of Cornell students and faculty to continue discussing the Ukraine situation over dinner.
“When she is presenting, whether it is a classroom lecture or in an auditorium in front of 300 people, as she did at Friday’s event, she has this gift of speaking in a way that engages the audience. Her charisma made her something of a celebrity after the panel, with many in the audience clamoring to speak with her – I was honored to be able to say that I studied under her at Mercyhurst,” Handerhan added.
Handerhan is quick to point to Mercyhurst’s liberal arts tradition and the rigors and personal attention of the political science department as key foundations of her success in Cornell’s interdisciplinary graduate program. When her studies are complete, she will earn a Masters of Public Administration with a concentration in Human Rights and Social Justice.
“A goal of any teacher is to help the students develop and learn the tools they will need to achieve their professional and intellectual goals,” said Dr. Surzhko-Harned. “To see Caitlin thrive as she pursues her Master’s degree is very rewarding.”
It’s that time of the year again – the first sign of spring in the air, the squeaky sneaker sound of March Madness on the horizon and the arrival of another Mercy Month. Each year in March, the Mercyhurst community celebrates volunteer service in our communities and alumni are always great supporters of this effort. Giving generously of your time, talent and treasure this March is an important way to honor the Mercy tradition.
If you live in the Erie community, you can join fellow alumni in a morning of service at the Erie VA Medical Center on Saturday, March 29, from 9 to 11 a.m. ET. If you’re not in Erie – like me – there are a number of ways to give back to the community. This month, I spent time narrating magazine stories for blind residents of Connecticut through a volunteer opportunity at my workplace. Also, having just completed my first half marathon, I made small donations to all of my friends training for various races on behalf of great charities like the American Liver Foundation and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I know how hard those long runs were for me and I am so proud to support my friends in honor of these great causes.
Other great Mercy Month suggestions include donating blood, creating care packages for servicemen and women overseas, cleaning up a neighborhood park, visiting a nursing home or soup kitchen or just picking up the tab for the person behind you in line at a drive-thru. It’s amazing how easy it is to make someone’s day just a little bit brighter.
Be sure to share your acts of service using #MercyMonth2014 on social media and send your stories and photos to email@example.com. We look forward to seeing all the ways that Mercyhurst alumni are giving back this Mercy Month.
Guest blogger Mary McKenna ’90 is a member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors – Mary tells of St. Patrick’s Day in Erie and invites everyone to share their St. Patrick’s Day memories from their time at Mercyhurst!
March in Erie… By this time the amazement and shock of how much snow is ‘dumped’ in Erie has long past and we were anxiously awaiting spring. What I remember about March in Erie, was St. Patrick’s Day. In the 80’s I think most of our soccer team was from Ireland. There are probably more Irish students at the ‘Hurst than any other school in the area. In any event – EVERYONE IS IRISH ON ST. PATRICK’S DAY. Everyone would put on all the green gear they could find and head over to the Townhouses, Briggs, or Sesler apartments for a few green beverages before walking through the streets of Erie to Sullivan’s to carry on with the rest of Erie.
20+ years later I celebrate St. Patty’s Day the Saturday before with the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Pittsburgh. I get decked out in all the ‘HURST green gear I can find I head into town on the trolley, meet up with some friends and family on Grant street watch the parade, then head to Market Square for some more socializing. In the evening we head to Dunnings in Regent Square to hook up with some high school friends for some long standing traditions.
Share your favorite Hurst St Patty’s Day memories, or your current ones.
In honor of Student Engagement and Philanthropy Day last week, the Mercyhurst students were asked to think of all the ways that alumni and other donors have impacted their lives here at the ‘Hurst. in considering the impact that others have had on them, the students then were asked to think of all the things they are able to do to give back to Mercyhurst and their community.
They were asked to post on social media the ways that they give back and they were asked to use #HurstGives so anyone could track the hashtag through social media! Of course we tracked it, and in case you missed them, here are all of the ways our students can give!
Miranda: #HurstGives me a great group of people to be around as a support group
Caitlin: I give to Mercyhurst University because my hope is to pass on the torch of bravery to new designers #HurstGives
Thomas: I give to Mercyhurst to help support the programs and activities that drive the success of our students today and in the future #HurstGives
Jacob: I give back to MU by helping raise money for the Senior Class Gift! #HurstGives
Paige: I give to Mercyhurst Phonathon because everyone deserves a chance to experience the things I have at Mercyhurst #HurstGives
Sarah: I support Mercyhurst because they gave me the opportunity to study abroad and see the world! #HurstGives
Sam: It’s awesome to see all the people taking a part in #HurstGives Seeing all that Laker pride from current students and grads!! #Hurstsocial
Drew: Mercyhurst gave me an opportunity to complete a fulfilling internship and able to start a brand new club PUCK #hurstgives
Mark: MU gave me the money to go to school here, so I give back through Senior Gift, Res Life and Student Government #HurstGives
Kelsey: my school gives me hope and excitement for my future!
Mark: MU gave me the money to go to school here, so I give back through Senior Gift, Res Life and Student Government #HurstGives
Nick and Caleb: #HurstGives students a voice, so elect @NICKCALEB4MSG to represent that voice.
Chelsea: I was given the opportunity to travel to conferences in Boston, MA & Chicago, IL through the Hospitality program! #HurstGives
Holly: Because of the Sisters of Mercy, we learn to be leaders through Mercy values of compassion & service. #HurstGives
Caitlin: I give back to Mercyhurst as a Phonathon caller because I love Mercyhurst, and love talking to alumni who feel the same way #HurstGives
Kellie: MU gave me the chance to travel to abroad, so I always travel back home to tell high school students about the experience here #HurstGives
Lindsay: I support Mercyhurst because I loved being a Laker and want all of the MU students to love it too! #HurstGives
Rhona: I gave because I’m a @Laker4Life & want to make sure students have as wonderful a college experience as I did #HurstGives
Adrianne: I received a stipend so that I could travel to New Orleans to conduct service work and help others #HurstGives
Joe: I received an ROTC scholarship for my education so that I could give to our country for the next 4 years #HurstGives
Ryan: I support Mercyhurst so I can make it a better place than when I first arrived in 2004 #HurstGives
Last week over 60 Mercyhurst students attended our Alumni and Student Career Networking Night in the Cummings Art Gallery! The Alumni Relations Team (Tamara Walters, Lindsay Cox ’12, Debbi Tarasovitch, and Adrianne LaGruth ’13) teamed up with the Career Development Center (Dr. Kyle Foust ’89, Frank Rizzone, and Kolleen Woodcock) to put on this great event and connect alumni and students together.
We were pleased to welcome some extremely helpful and loyal alumni to campus as a part of our Lakers Helping Lakers program - they had a great time meeting with the students, offering advice, career tips, interview strategies, and just answering the questions of our students! We also had some alumni who are current students in graduate programs here at the ‘Hurst attend the event and they offered insight for those students who are considering going to graduate school.
Each alumni who attended received special raffle tickets to give to students who displayed great networking skills. The students then had additional chances to win a jam-packed basket of Mercyhurst goodies!
The Mercyhurst alumni who attended the event include:
David Abbott ‘76
Chantelle Aubry ’02
Paige Bosnyak ‘13
Lou Cannarozzi ‘75
Kelli Carpinello ‘14
Thomas Frank ’13
Shannon Kissel ’12
Stella LaPaglia ‘95
John Leisering ‘81
Bob Merski ‘99
Emily Merski, Esq. ’04, ‘06
Arthur Oligeri III ‘74
Tom Parilla ‘88
Jeanne Phillips ‘68
Jordan Pirrone ’12
Robert Respecki ‘79
Richard Seibel ‘81
Melanie Titzel ‘80
We’re so thankful for the alumni who attended and volunteered their time to help our Laker students – this is a great example of Lakers Helping Lakers and we’re thrilled to have
Lindsey Bostwick is a graduate of 2013 and is one alumna that is making a BIG impact – serving our country as an officer in the Army. Lindsey is currently working in a Battalion S3 shop for an Airborne Brigade in Eagle River, Alaska – about ten minutes outside of Anchorage. We thought it was tough living in Erie; we should try Alaska in the winter! Lindsay works as a CBRN Officer dealing with chemical, biological, nuclear, and radiological gases and weapons. She prepares her battalion of 200 to 300 soldiers to be properly trained in the CBRN area.
Lindsey says that Mercyhurst prepared her for the real world workforce in a way that a big university would not have been able to. Bostwick graduated with the Class of 2013 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Intelligence Studies. She says “I owe much of my current skillset to the Intelligence professors at Mercyhurst. They were harsh, tough, strict, but encouraging and knowledgeable. I came in to the military with a lot of skills that I would not have had without them.”
The transition for young alumni is not always as easy as some make it seem, especially when you’re far from home. Lindsey misses Mercyhurst’s small, close-knit community and the friendships she made during her time at Mercyhurst. Although living in Eagle River is also a small community, it is made up of a lot of military members and younger couples. The ease and accessibility to different facilities, like the gym, the Laker Inn dining hall, and other places are a bit different in Alaska! Bostwick was a senior senator of Mercyhurst Student Government and participated in Phonathon calling for the Alumni Relations department. Bostwick admits that being a part of student government and activities in college is an experience you can’t really get back when you graduate. It’s a lot harder to make friends and meet new people once you’re outside of your comfort zone.
So her advice for new alumni: “I know it’s tough, job searching and house hunting, and managing your finances. Heck, you might have majored in Criminal Justice and realize you want to be a Zookeeper. Go for it! Don’t let your major hold you back or define you. There are SO MANY opportunities out there. Be willing to move and travel. Be yourself. It will all work out.” Bostwick is living out this philosophy daily as an airborne officer with her new puppy, Charlie. Mercyhurst and the Alumni Relations Department are proud to have this young alumna serving our country!
Lindsey is just one of many successful, young alumni that are making a big impact in their careers, communities, and lives. If you know of an alumni that should be recognized for their work and/or service, please submit a request to our Alumni Relations department at firstname.lastname@example.org