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Virginia head field hockey coach Michele Madison has announced the Class of 2012 after the student-athletes signed letters of intention to enroll at Virginia in the fall of 2008. Five have played internationally, bringing a wealth of experience to a roster stacked with a national team pedigree. The Virginia hockey class of 2012 is comprised of Alex Jahnle (Newtown Square, Pa./Episcopal Academy), Rachel Jennings (Macungie, Pa./Emmaus), Katie Knapp (Great Falls, Va./Langley), Adrienne Ostroff (Philadelphia, Pa./Germantown Academy), Paige Selenski (Shavertown, Pa./Dallas) and Michelle Vittese (Cherry Hill, N.J./Camden Catholic). The Cavalier staff has brought in its second consecutive top-10 class to Charlottesville and looks to continue the Cavaliers’ ascension. The Class of 2012 boasts two high school All-Americans, two State Players of the Year, two Under-21 National team players, one state champion and two state semi finalists.

Jahnle gained international experience in 2007 as she toured with the Westchester Eagles to Argentina under the direction of former Chinese National Team Coach Jun Kentwell. A 2007 co-captain at Episcopal Academy, Jahnle’s team won the Disney Tournament in 2007 and was also the gold medalist at the National Indoor Qualifier in 2006. Jahnle also took first with her team at the National Hockey Festival in 2006 before entering the National Futures program in 2007.

“We watched Alex play many times over the last two years and saw the same game every time,” said Madison. “She takes the field with a tactical, skillful and creative purpose. There are not necessarily any bells and whistles; she just brings a consistent solid field hockey game. Alex possesses good timing and off-ball movement. You may have to look hard to find her, but I can promise you she involved in some way in the great attacking and defensive plays. We are glad we looked hard!”

Gina Buggy, a US Olympian, is Jahnle’s high school coach. “Alex is a hard-working, unselfish, dedicated, athlete who provided invaluable leadership on and off the field for our Episcopal Academy field hockey team,” said Buggy. “She is a wonderful example of someone who set her sights high, put forth extra effort and in the end elevated her game to a level that will allow her to contribute to a highly respected program like UVa!”

“My first impression of UVa was that its historic campus and beautiful athletic facilities certainly live up to their celebrated reputation,” said Chris Jahnle, Alex’s father. “This first impression, however, was quickly followed by the realization that everyone we had met during our first visit, from university administrators and coaches to students who just happened to be walking by, were genuinely friendly, pleasant and welcoming. UVa is the perfect choice for Alex as it affords our daughter the opportunity to simultaneously pursue a first class education in a topnotch institution, while playing field hockey with, and against, some of the top players in the U.S.”

Jennings is a two-time All-American who was a member of the United States U19 Olympic Development Select Tour to Buenos Aires in 2007 along with new Virginia teammates Shelly Edmonds and Devon Burnley. She later won a bronze medal at the USFHA National Futures Tournament and was an AAU Junior Olympian in 2005. Jennings, who is one of a set of triplets who all signed letters of intent to play hockey in the fall of 2008, was a high school teammate of future UVa teammate Edmonds at Emmaus, where the two won a state title.

“Jennings was one of the more difficult choices of the 2012 class,” said Madison. “Early in the recruiting process the Jennings sisters declared they would not attend the same university. At the risk of losing all three, we chose Rachel. Our projected needs called for a skilled defender. Rachel’s former high school teammate and fellow defender, Shelly Edmonds, had already committed to UVa and they were a great back field tandem in high school. Sue Butz-Stavin, Rachel’s coach and the coach of the top-ranked high school team in the nation, drills fundamentals, work rate and discipline into her players. Emmaus players in general, and Rachel specifically, are disciplined and teamwork orientated. Rachel is also a fierce competitor and walks off the field with a smile on her face. She told me UVa was her top choice. My response was simple: We will have to find a way to make it possible for you to come.’ We found a way.”

“I picked Virginia because of the coaching staff, the awesome players, and of course the high-level education,” said Jennings. “At UVa I have it all.”

“We were elated that Rachel finally chose to pursue her dreams at Virginia,” said John Jennings, Rachel’s father. “Several years ago we made the detour to Charlottesville on our way back from the NIT’s. We were hoping to plant a seed that would one day bear fruit. We were all so impressed with the Lawn and Rotunda, and the historic connection that dates back to our founding fathers.

“Virginia affords her the opportunity to receive a world class education with a highly select group of peers. The quality of the students and faculty is comparable to that found at the Ivies. We know that she will be challenged both on, and off, the field in an environment that will allow her to blossom. She knows that it won’t be easy–but she’s sure that it will be fun! She says she’s known all these years that this would be the place that she always wanted to be. Who knew that her dream would finally come true?”

“Great hustle, sheer determination and striving for perfection are three attributes which describe the play of Rachel,” said Butz-Stavin. “She, along with her sisters, provided the standard of play expected from the entire team.”

Knapp, an in-state student-athlete from Langley High School, was the only sophomore on the All-District team in 2005. She earned All-District honors in both 2006 and 2007 and was a Futures participant in 2007 as well. An Academic Scholar at Langley in her first three years, Knapp was also a National Festival participant in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

“Katie was the first to commit to Virginia,” recalled Madison. “She plays with enthusiasm and passion for the game. She soaks up coaching and works on her skills until she gets it right. The first moment we saw Katie play, the UVa staff all wanted Katie to be a Cavalier. Not only does she possess loads of potential and will work to maximize it, she is relentless is her pursuits and plays with a smile on her face.”

“I am so excited to be part of the program that Virginia is building,” said Knapp. “I have always wanted to go to UVa. I can’t wait to come play for Michele and her staff.”

“Katie has wanted to attend Virginia since she was in the third grade,” said her parents, Sharon and Rob Knapp. “Where we live in northern Virginia, UVa is everyone’s dream school. She attended Absolutely the Best Field Hockey Camp at Virginia after her sophomore year and fell in love with the coaching staff and the field hockey program. We were all so impressed with the traditions, school spirit and friendly students that we found at UVa.

“Our experience with Virginia since that time has been everything we could have hoped for. The coaching staff and players have been extremely welcoming. They really treat our family like their family. Everything in the recruiting process was above board and as promised; there were no surprises. Last fall we watched the team play four times and were really impressed with the amazing job the coaching staff did to develop the whole team, as a team and as individuals.

“We are so excited to have Katie begin her career as a student-athlete at UVa. Virginia offers a stellar academic reputation, a wide diversity of academic programs and a strong and growing field hockey program. We believe that this combination is rare and offers unequaled opportunity for Katie to develop as a person, as a student and as an athlete.”

Ostroff was a member of the 2007 National Futures Championship team along with current UVa teammates Shelly Edmonds and Devon Burnley. In 2007 her Mystyx Club team tied for first at the National Festival; the Shock only allowed three goals in the six games. As a sophomore, Ostroff was named an alternate for the 2005 Maccabiah Games after competing for a spot during open trials where she was pitted against senior players. A Futures participant in 2005 and 2006, Ostroff’s team was the runner-up at National Indoors in 2006. She was also a 2006 National Hockey Festival participant.

“Adrienne is pure guts and determination,” described Madison. “She has quick eyes and can cover the angles with a plethora of skills. Adrienne brings yet another style to the current goalkeeper team. I saw Adrienne makes save after save against skilled international players. She will have the opportunity next year to get those shots in practice and take her game to the next level. Adrienne joins the goalie team of fellow Pennsylvanians Devon Burnley and Amy Desjadon.”

“All parents want their kids to follow their dreams,” said Jon Ostroff, Adrienne’s father. “Adrienne’s dream was to play field hockey at Virginia and to help her team win a national championship. Now I’m living my dream, because my daughter will be fulfilled and challenged as a student and an athlete in her college years. I am confident that the ambition that allowed Adrienne to accomplish this goal, combined with the athletic and academic experience she is about to receive at such a special and esteemed university, will give her the life experience she needs to succeed at everything she sets her heart on throughout her life.”

Selenski is a current member of the USA Under-21 National Team, continuing a four-year association with the USFHA National Teams program after first being named to the Under-16 team in 2004. A Junior Olympian in 2005, Selenski was a member of the US Futures Elite U16 Netherlands Tour in both 2005 and 2006. She helped the US place fourth in the International Easter Tournament in 2005 and 2006. In 2006, Selenski led the tournament with seven goals in the first nine games, helping the USA jump out to a 7-0-2 start. A member of the 2007 USA Under-21 China Tour, Selenski scored a goal in a win over the Shanghai Club; later that year she was named a high school All-American after helping Dallas advance to the state semifinals. Selenski was named the Pennsylvania AA and Overall State Player of the Year in 2007.

“After choosing Virginia, I couldn’t have been any happier with my decision,” said Selenski. “Virginia had everything I was looking for in a college. The balance between athletics and academics is phenomenal. I am looking forward to helping develop the Virginia field hockey program into one of the best in the country.”

“In a few months my daughter Paige will be going to college,” said Brian Selenski, Paige’s father, “and after visiting Virginia a couple of times, I know she is in good hands, and will accomplish great things there.”

“Paige is a student athlete committed to achieving excellence both in the classroom and on the hockey field,” said Robyn Jones, her high school guidance counselor. “Her tenacious work ethic, God-given talent, and explosive style of play is compatible with Michele Madison‘s coaching philosophy of getting the very best out of her players which leads to NCAA post season play and team accolades. To whom much is given, much is expected’–Paige understands that.”

“With a solid Class of 2012 already committed, the UVa staff could afford to wait while Paige finished her high school season before making her decision,” said Madison. “John Wooden once said, Reputation is what people think you are, character is what you are.’ Paige is all character. Dedicating herself to her high school team’s pursuit of a state title instead of her own college career was first and foremost in her mind. She never wavered from her commitment to her team, helping her young high school team become one of the best teams in the state of Pennsylvania. Paige wanted to be part of a young college team that was growing She is the most humble, hard-working talent among the young players today. She has goals and dreams but lives in the moment and for the moment to be the best she can be. A consummate team player with loads of potential, Paige will also tryout for the UVa track team. Her commitment made an already promising Class of 2012 worth waiting for.”

Vittese is a current member of the US Under-21 squad who has already represented the USA as part of the 2006 and 2007 US-Canada Challenge Cup. A 2004 and 2005 Junior Olympian, Vittese has participated in the National Futures program each year since 2002 and was invited to play with the Futures Elite program in 2006 and 2007. A member of the Olympic Development Select program in 2007, Vittese attended FDIC in 2006. In addition, Vittese was also a 2006 Women’s Inline Hockey World Team Member as well as a 2006 Women’s Inline Hockey 21 and Under World Team Member.

“It was a hot sunny day in Virginia Beach, in July 2006 and one U16 stood out from the rest,” recalled Madison. “Not only was she super-fast with the ball, but also she carried the ball with her eyes up. I asked Nancy McHale, the coach of the New Jersey Spirit of USA team, who that player was. As soon as Nancy responded with Michelle Vittese,’ the player in question passed the ball out of the defensive circle to a teammate and five seconds later, had the ball again up field and had already passed the ball to another teammate. Vittese then led into the attack circle herself off another lead for the ball faster than the blink of an eye. I told Coach McHale then that I had not seen a player that young carry the ball at speed with her eyes up in 10 years.

“McHale’s response piqued my interest. It’s because she is a roller hockey player,’ said the veteran high school coach. If her eyes go down in roller hockey, she gets slammed to the ground.’

“Roller hockey or not, Michelle has been tearing up the field hockey fields since. She will bring much-needed speed to the Cavalier field as well as a tenacious, competitive spirit and a great passing game.”

“My first impression when visiting Virginia was that my daughter would be attending a modern, progressive-thinking university with an outstanding reputation,” said Mark Vittese, Michelle’s father. “What I did not realize was the fact that the school had so much history and tradition. From the original Lawn rooms first lived in by the first students in 1825 which are still used today, to the secret societies, to the Honor Code, the vision of Thomas Jefferson still lives on over 180 years later.

“Virginia affords our daughter the opportunities to obtain a degree from one of the best universities in the US and to learn life lessons in an environment created by one of the most influential men in our country’s history. It affords my daughter the opportunity to determine her path in the future. Thomas Jefferson once said, I like the dreams of the future, better than the history of the past.’ Virginia will provide her with the chance to find her dream of the future.”

“It has been said, Build a field and they will come’.” said Madison. “We have a dream and they have come. Three recruiting classes who dare to not just dream, but want to be part of building a championship program. Maybe it is more challenging here at UVa with the highest expectations of academic and athletics excellence, but it is certainly worth it. Young people who were stars in the high school classroom and on the fields are challenged to learn and grow in every aspect of their day. The time one spends in college is the time a young person builds her identity and her character. Now is the time to dig deep and explore the opportunities and options. The Class of 2012 and their family choose Virginia for these opportunities and for that we, the Cavalier coaching staff, applaud their confidence and sense of adventure and determination to succeed.

“If I were forced to choose one word to exemplify this class’ collective athletic ability and project their immediate impact on the Virginia hockey program, I have to say speed.’ They are flat out fast and they will be even faster together. I can’t wait to get them in a race against each other. Paige holds her district’s 100m record, but Michelle, Rachel and Katie may challenge in the shorter runs. We will see. Alex sees the game quickly and Adrienne gets to the ball just as quickly. In time, our overall tempo will improve with the addition of this class.

“I would also describe the Class of 2012 with the term winner.’ This group of student-athletes knows how to win; they come from winning programs and winning coaches. Sue Butz-Stavin leads Emmaus and the nation’s top-ranked ranked high school. Nancy MacHale, a former Junior National Coach of the Year, won countless state titles at the high school level and now coaches for New Jersey Spirit and sends athletes to Division I programs year after year. Gina Buggy from Episcopal Academy is a US Olympian who won the United States’ only (thus far) medal in hockey with the bronze in 1984. Heather Whalin from the Mystyx won three national titles in college. The class itself boasts two high school All-Americans, two State Players of the Year, two Under-21 National team players, one state champion and two state semi finalists.

“Five have traveled internationally to play field hockey. This class plays and they play hard. They are competitive, team oriented and process oriented. The staff is excited again for another promising incoming class. Hayden Fry, a former colleague who was a head football coach, always said, Recruits look great on paper now, but we won’t know just how good they are until they get here.’ August cannot come too soon for the team in Charlottesville but for now Assistant Coach Alex Kyser (Virginia’s recruiting coordinator), Chris Sprice, Christina Kirkaldy and I are celebrating the inking of six promising young student athletes and their families’ support of the championship dream.”

The Cavaliers will open the 2008 season on the weekend of August 29, hosting in state rival William and Mary and Big East tournament finalist Providence.

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