|Transfer Student-Athletes Thriving On and Off the Field
Eric Campbell ’15, Sam Derr ’14, and Frank Gaffney ’16 didn’t think Lebanon Valley was the right choice coming out of high school for a variety of reasons. But after enrolling at other mid-state colleges, all three found their way to LVC and have found success, both on and off the field.
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Derr, for instance, chose to attend Kutztown University after high school and play softball there. Always wanting a small school environment and opting to switch majors from education to business, she decided that transferring to LVC was the right move.
“Lebanon Valley had been a top choice for me during my college selection process and Coach Hollinger and I were communicating throughout my last two years of high school,” Derr said. “As soon as I stepped on campus, everyone was so welcoming and made me feel right at home. The softball team, coaching staff, and athletic department were a huge help in my adjustment process.”
Derr has excelled on the field, leading the team in batting average (.389), hits (58), and slugging percentage (.564) last season. She was also the team’s top starting pitcher, posting a 1.37 ERA in 210 innings pitched with an overall record of 25-6 a year ago.
“The girls on my team are my best friends now and the business department here at LVC has helped me acquire internships at both the B2B Baseball and Softball Academy in Manheim, Pa. and Clark Associates The WEBstaurant Store in Lititz, Pa., lining me up for potential full-time jobs in either marketing or customer service after I graduate in May,” Derr added.
Derr will graduate in the spring with a degree in business administration and has a number of job options that she is still deciding on.
“Transferring to Lebanon Valley has been a fantastic experience,” Derr concluded “I have met some of the greatest people here, it’s amazing to be a part of the softball team, and the business department has prepared me for careers that I never thought were possible.”
Gaffney’s story wasn’t nearly as clear cut. He always knew he wanted to play football in college, but his grades weren’t there coming out of high school. He decided to attend Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology for two years and play junior college football while working to get his grades up so that playing football at an NCAA Division II or III school would be a reality.
After two years at Stevens, he chose Millersville University as his destination of choice, but quickly realized that wasn’t the right fit.
“The coaches and faculty treated me as a number and not a student-athlete,” Gaffney said. “I chose to take a red shirt year in football so I could focus on training and school work until the following season.”
Spending just one semester at Millersville, Gaffney moved on to Penn State Schuylkill, where he took classes for two semesters, contemplating his next move.
“After looking at numerous schools and going on plenty of visits, a rival high school coach told me to take a look at LVC,” Gaffney reminisced. “All it took was one visit and I knew this was the right fit for me. The coaching staff and the entire faculty are great people. Becoming a Dutchmen was an easy transition and the best decision I could have made.”
When looking at the numbers, it doesn’t take long to realize that Gaffney found the right spot in Annville. A First-Team All-American, he led the nation in solo sacks, recording 13.0 overall, and led the Middle Atlantic Conference champion Dutchmen with 82 tackles, including 60 solo stops and 19.5 tackles for a loss in 2013. The MAC Defensive Player of the Year was a finalist for the Cliff Harris Award, and was an all-ECAC pick. A disruptive force all over the field, he also broke up five passes and blocked three PATs on special teams.
After all of his moves, Gaffney has finally found his home to finish out his collegiate career. He has one more year left of eligibility for football and two more years academically. Gaffney will graduate with a degree in criminal justice and plans to become a correctional officer and high school football coach.
The Valley had always had special place in the heart of Eric Campbell, but coming out of high school, his application was denied. A minor setback in his eyes, he knew this was the place he wanted to be and worked hard to become a member of the Class of 2015.
“I met with people from admissions at LVC to see what steps I needed to take in order to be accepted,” Campbell said. “They gave me an itinerary of what classes I needed to take and a GPA I needed to achieve before re-applying.”
Campbell attended Harrisburg Community College and buckled down, completing the classes required and earning the grades to re-apply and ultimately get accepted to LVC.
“I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders,” Campbell added. “LVC would give me the opportunity for a great education that will one day lead to a solid career and the chance to play football, the game I love.”
Campbell saw action in four games in his inaugural season, making one tackle against FDU-Florham. He plans to graduate in 2015 with a degree in digital communications and hopes to acquire a job in his field of study.
“The professors are great here, not only because they are great teachers, but also because they’re great people,” Campbell said. “They will do anything to help you be successful because they truly want that for their students.”
“I work very hard in whatever I do,” Campbell added. “When I need help in a class, I ask for it. I am a strong believer in the little things. If you do the little things right, everything else will fall into place.”
Derr, Gaffney, and Campbell have certainly done more than the little things during their journeys to LVC. They may have faced a few roadblocks along the way, but ultimately, like so many others, they’ve finally found their home at The Valley.