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New Hope-Solebury is 9-3, but it goes beyond skill set

Lions program is building a culture


If you ask New Hope-Solebury head coach Chris Marchok what the standard is for each season, he won’t tell you that it’s to win states. He won’t tell you that it’s to go undefeated.

He’ll tell you that it’s every girl playing with love every single point, because as long as each girl is giving it their all for their teammate to their left and their teammate to their right, he believes the team can reach those aforementioned heights.

After the team lost three culture-leading seniors in Mia Chuma, Lily Kraemer and Chloe McMillen this past year, he wondered what would happen to the chemistry and performance of the team. That’s a quality that is crucial to a team’s success.

But it’s not something Marchok enforces. He doesn’t select captains and point duties to incoming seniors. He wants the girls to take it upon themselves to get together in the offseason and build their chemistry, their relationship, and buy into the program’s direction.

And while there was an initial concern, those worries are long gone as newly-founded leaders Lauren Savitsky, Aubrey Turner and Anna Leasure have coursed the way to a 9-3 record.

“What we have found this year is that these kids who have taken up the leadership in the program this year have done just a fantastic job of continuing the sort of environment, the sort of culture that we’re trying to grow here,” Marchok said.

It’s all about culture. The program thrives on it. It’s not their great skill sets that have them winning games, which, they certainly possess – it’s their relationship as a team.

“Its not skill set,” Marchok said when asked about why this team is so successful. “Its about how our older kids, our leaders, our upperclassmen have welcomed the underclassmen and buy into the fact that this is a family. We have continued to build culture.”

But in terms of play — while this may sound “cliche,” Marchok said, the team prides themselves on defense.

“We took a look at the kids we had, the strengths coming back and we simply said, it’s got to be defense first,” Marchok admitted. “And there is a special pride with how our kids play defense. It’s amazingly beautiful to just see them never quit. Our point we share with the kids is that were not about the scoreboard. It’s that every single time we do our best, we be the best we can be ever single time, and they are into it. They’re getting dirty on the ground and they are hurting themselves diving so much. We have fashioned our program to be defense first.”

For many sports you’ll hear “defense wins games” or “defense wins championships.” That’s a general statement in sports that is sometimes true and sometimes false. In this case, defense has the Lions winning points, because their mentality is one point at a time.

It’s that kind of effort and mindset that has NH-S succeeding midway through the season. The team reached great heights in Marchok’s fourth year as head coach, ultimately getting eliminated in the first round of states. But despite their swift exit and the loss of top hitters, the Lions are roaring once again. And due to his defense-first mentality and the bond these girls have, he believes this team is playing above last year’s.

“We lost three kids that were slated to go off and play college, and we are performing at a level, I believe, even above last year’s team.”

Other teams have goals of winning a certain amount of games or reaching the championship. For the Lions, it’s simple. It’s “am I playing with love?” Because for Marchok, that’s how they will continue to win.

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