Women’s lacrosse seniors ‘on to greatness’ after graduating in Special Commencement Ceremony

Cheering each other on comes naturally for the seniors on the Gettysburg College women’s lacrosse team, whether they’re starting, battling back from injury, or supporting from the sideline or in the classroom.

Each member of the team’s senior class—Lauren Cole, Steph Colson, Shelby Fragetta, Emma Hill, Brooke Holechek, Katrina Niedziela, and Bailey Pilder—has embraced the true Gettysburg experience.

“I have watched you hold each other up and cheer each other on,” said management lecturer Bennett Bruce on Thursday as he delivered his speech honoring the seven Gettysburgians at the Special Commencement Ceremony in Kline Theater.

“Even if you were vying for a starting position, you cheered the starter on to greatness,” he continued. “Maybe you take this quality for granted, but I have to tell you—it amazes this old man.”

In what has become an almost annual tradition, the celebration marked the 11th time in the past 14 years that the women’s lacrosse seniors were personally honored prior to Sunday’s full-scale Commencement due to postseason play. The program has advanced to the NCAA Division III tournament 19 times since 2000, winning three championships in 2011, 2017, and 2018, and currently vying for a three-peat.

“Lacrosse players are passionate about their sport, team members, coaches, and winning, but they are also intellectually curious and passionate about their education,” Bruce said. “You just need to decide which of your championship rings you are going to wear.”

Gettysburg College President Janet Morgan Riggs ’77 joked she wouldn’t mind wearing another championship ring in honor of its women’s lacrosse team, either. In her final Special Commencement as president, Riggs spoke about the team’s successes, but also reminded them of the value of a Gettysburg education.

“More important than those wins—and I really mean this—is how you have conducted yourselves on and off the field—thank you for representing Gettysburg College so well,” Riggs said. “Your liberal arts education, your ability to manage your time and your priorities, your interest in and concern for those around you, your commitment to teamwork, your motivation to achieve excellence, all of these things will serve you well—as successful professionals and as engaged citizens and leaders of the future.”

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Provost Christopher Zappe also extended his congratulations to the first members of the Class of 2019 to graduate and enter the next chapter of their lives.

“Your hard work, your continued development as engaged citizens of our global community, your Gettysburg experience—this is what it means to be orange and blue,” Zappe said. “This is truly your uniform, and we hope that you continue to wear it with pride.”

Riggs, Zappe, and Vice President for College Life and Dean of Students Julie Ramsey oversaw the conferring of degrees to each senior. Colson and Holecheck received degrees in health sciences, while Cole, Fragetta, Hill, Niedziela and Pilder earned degrees in political science, history, sociology, mathematical economics, and organization and management studies, respectively.

Together, the remarks by Riggs, Zappe, and Bruce described these seven seniors as committed—to lacrosse, to their studies and to their community, both local and abroad. Balancing academics, athletics and social activities, they have risen to the challenge throughout their four years at Gettysburg College, and will continue to do so in their future pursuits.

The seniors will lead the top-ranked Bullets as they host the regional championship May 18-19 on Clark Field, facing Denison on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. If they continue dancing, they will turn to face the winner of Wesleyan (Conn.) and Washington & Lee on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. The NCAA Division III semifinals and championship will take place at Randolph-Macon May 25 and 26.

Special Commencement 2019

By Megan Miller
Photos by Shawna Sherrell
Posted: 05/16/19