Can’t Touch This

Softball Sweeps Skidmore, Freshmen Eleni Wechsler Pitches No-Hitter

Rochester ran its softball winning streak to eight in a row as the Yellowjackets swept Skidmore College, 11-3, and 12-0, in a doubleheader at Southside Field on Sunday afternoon. Freshman Eleni Wechsler spun a five-inning no-hitter in the nitecap. It is the third no-hitter in softball’s history. Kathy Gagne did it in 2002 vs. D’Youville and Brittany Grage did it vs. RIT in 2013.

The Yellowjackets improved to 13-7 overall, 6-0 in the Liberty League.

Rochester accumulated 12 hits and seven walks in game one. The Yellowjackets jumped in front, 9-0, after four innings. Skidmore scored a pair of runs off Rochester’s Sarah Wayson in the fifth, then added one more in the top of the sixth. Rochester scored twice in the sixth to end the game on the mercy rule.

In the nitecap, the Yellowjackets took advantage of 13 hits – all singles – plus six walks. Rochester put together a seven-run rally in the bottom of the second to take command. Six players had RBIs.

Wechsler walked three and struck out four. Grage picked up the game one win. In a total of 4.2 innings pitched, Grage allowed two hits, walked two, and struck out five. In 1.1 innings pitched, Wayson gave up five hits, three runs (two earned), and walked two.

The DH was deemed Senior Day since it was the final Liberty League weekend at home for the Yellowjackets. They play at Union on Friday, at RPI on Saturday. Rochester closes its Liberty League regular season at RIT on April 26.

Rochester will host Nazareth on Tuesday afternoon in its annual PINK game to raise money for the battle against cancer. The first game of the twinbill begins at 3 pm.

Baseball’s Strandberg Fires No-Hitter In Sweep of Bard

StrandbergOn the baseball diamond, freshman David Strandberg threw the first recorded no-hitter in the University of Rochester’s baseball history on Sunday, helping the Yellowjackets to a two game sweep of Liberty League opponent Bard College on Sunday.Rochester (14-12, 10-6 Liberty League) won game one by an 11-2 score and captured game two in a rout, winning 18-0.  Bard drops to 3-14-1 overall and 0-8-1 in league play.Strandberg pitched seven innings of hitless ball, allowing two runs in the fifth off three walks and a wild pitch.  He ended the day with six free passes and four strikeouts and earns his first collegiate victory.

At the plate, jumped out to an early lead with five runs in the first inning.  Junior Brendan Garry drew a bases loaded walk and that followed by a 2-RBI double from sophomore Lance Hamilton and another 2-RBI hit from classmate Brian Munoz.

In the fourth, UR tacked on four more runs on three bases loaded walks and a Nolan Schultz sac fly.  Overall, Rochester drew eight walks in game one off the Raptor pitching staff.  In game one, every UR starter recorded a run scored and seven of the nine earned an RBI.

It was more of the same for UR in game two as the Yellowjacket offense exploded in a 18-0 victory, completing the weekend 4-game sweep at Damaschke Field.

Rochester scored one run in the first when Josh Ludwig scored on a fielding error by the Raptors.  In the second, the Yellowjackets sent 14 men to the plate in an 8-run frame.  Munoz, Garry and Tyler DeClerck all had RBI doubles in the inning and Ludwig added a two-run single as well.

On the mound, sophomore Matt Todd was outstanding, throwing seven innings of two-hit ball while only issuing two walks and striking out six batters.  Sophomore Andrew Crean allowed one hit in two innings of work to close out the game while also fanning four batters.

The score remained 9-0 until the ‘Jackets tacked on nine more runs in the seventh.  Sophomore Dan Warren had two separate RBI singles in the inning while Ludwig had another RBI base hit and freshman Will Conroy added a sacrifice fly.

The Yellowjackets next game is scheduled for Tuesday at Ithaca College at 4 pm.  The next Liberty League contest for UR is when they host Vassar in doubleheaders on Friday and Saturday.

Article and photo compliments of Scott Sabocheck, Athletic Communications Asstistant and the Rochester Athletics Department.

Time to Make A Splash: Seven Head to Indy

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Seven members of the women’s swimming and diving team at the University of Rochester – six swimmers and one diver – will compete at the NCAA Division III National Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana from March 19-22.

This is Rochester’s largest group of NCAA swimming qualifiers in 20 years – since six women competed in the 1993-94 championships. Those six women scored 125 team points and Rochester finished eighth nationally. It is the best team finish in school history.

The six NCAA swimming competitors are junior Lauren Bailey (Ossining, NY/Ossining HS), sophomore Vicky Luan (South Surrey, Canada/Semiahmoo Seminary), senior Karen Meess (Hamburg, NY/Frontier HS), freshman Emily Simon (Olean, NY/Portville HS), freshman Khamai Simpson (Cutler Bay, FL/Coral Reef HS), and freshman Alex Veech (Binghamton, NY/Binghamton). The diver is freshman Danielle Neu (Hammondsport, NY/Bath Haverling HS).

Bailey, who was the Liberty League Women’s Swimmer of the Year for the second straight year (awarded in December), will compete in the 100 yard butterfly, the 200 yard butterfly, and swim on all three relays: the 200 yard medley relay, the 200 yard freestyle relay, and the 400 yard medley relay.

Luan, who was the 2012-13 Liberty League Rookie of the Year, will swim on all three relays – the 200 yard medley, relay, the 200 yard freestyle relay, and the 400 yard medley relay.

Meess will swim the 200 yard backstroke, and compete with the 200 yard medley relay and the 400 yard medley relay.

Simon and Simpson will swim on the 200 yard freestyle relay. Veech will compete in the 100 yard breaststroke, on the 200 yard medley relay, and the 400 yard medley relay.

Neu will compete on both the one-meter and three-meter diving boards. She already has a taste of NCAA competition. She earned her berth in Indianapolis after competing at the NCAA Regional Diving Meet at Rochester Institute of Technology on February 28 and March 1. She was one of seven divers selected from the meet at RIT.

Rochester has its first NCAA swimming competitors since the 2006-07 season. The relays are reaching a bit of a benchmark. These are the first women’s relay teams to compete at nationals since the 1994-95 season.

The top eight finishers in an event – either individual events or relays – are designated as All-Americans. Those who finish 9th through 16thare designated as Honorable Mention All-Americans.

In two of the seven swimming events, Rochester has a top-eight seeding.  Bailey is seeded sixth in the 100 yard butterfly after her season’s best time of 0:55.83. The 200 yard medley relay is seeded sixth as well with a time of 1:44.46. The swimmers on that relay are (alphabetically) Bailey, Luan, Meess, and Veech.

The 200 yard freestyle relay is seeded 11th with a time of 1:35.20 (Bailey, Luan, Simon, Simpson). The 400 yard medley (Bailey, Luan, Meess, and Veech) is seeded 16th with a time of 3:50.50.

Veech is seeded 20th in the 100 yard breaststroke (1:04.91) and Meess is seeded 20th in the 200 yard backstroke (2:02.74).

Bailey and Luan will swim in the 50 yard freestyle and on the 400 freestyle relay with Simon and Simpson. Meess will also swim in the 100 yard backstroke. NCAA guidelines permit this because those swimmers were already selected for other events and they achieved a provisional qualifying time in the extra events.

The best finish by an individual Rochester women’s swimmer at nationals is third place. Irene “Patty” Rupp achieved that in the 1984-85 season (in the 100 yard backstroke) and in the 1985-86 season (in the 200 yard butterfly). She earned her bachelor’s degree in Molecular Genetics in 1987 and graduated with an M.D. from the University’s Medical School in 1991.

Rochester’s current NCAA contingent have challenging academic majors:
Bailey – Chemical Engineering
Luan – Film & Media Studies
Meess – Biomedical Engineering
Neu – Chemical Engineering
Simon – Biology
Simpson – Health, Behavior & Society
Veech – Psychology

How I Play The Game: Mike Moranz

By Julia Evans ’14
Athletic Communications Assistant

How did you become a goalie?

I’ve been a goalie since I was 12, but I played other positions when I was younger. I used to play forward and midfield. There were only two goalies on my club team, and one of them quit, so I stepped in and have been in that position ever since.

Did you know you wanted to play soccer in college?

Yes, it was the biggest part of my college search.

How does being in goal differ from playing on the field?

In every way. Laughs. Seeing the whole field, and everything that goes on makes you feel more important because you can feel the pressure of the game—that’s my favorite part. The feeling of being able to change the game is a cool aspect, whereas in other positions you have to rely on having the ball or being around the ball to have an influence.

What’s the biggest pressure you’ve felt during a game during your time at U of R so far?

Probably during our NCAA game my freshmen year, or our game at Carnegie Mellon also Fall 2010. It was a make or break game for us. I played one of the best games I’ve ever played in my life at Carnegie Mellon against the Tartans. In the first half, I made a b save on a free kick, and all my teammates told me it was a great save. Saves like that are what gives me and the team momentum boosts throughout the game to keep us going. One goal always makes a difference whether it’s us going up a point, the opposing team going up, or tying—it always impacts the game.

What’s the dynamic between you and your teammates when you’re in goal?

Communication is one of our biggest responsibilities as goalies. We have to organize, strategize, and keep everyone together. We have to make sure everyone is keeping pressure on the ball and that everyone is marked up. As for dynamic, since we’re directing the players on the field, there needs to be the mutual understanding that we respect one another as athletes and teammates so no one takes it personally.

How do you get along with your teammates off the field?

We’re really close. We had a suite last year and we’d all watch English Premier League games together on weekends.

What are practices like for you and how do they make you a more effective goalie?

We have separate practice times for specific goalie training but we also practice with everyone else to better our footwork. Even though our job as goalie is more focused on eye hand coordination we have to understand how to move our feet as well. That understanding helps us to better communicate with our teammates on the field.

How do you best improve your skills as a goalie?

Really just playing games and doing it as much as possible. You can do drills over and over but there’s nothing like being put in a situation in a game. You have to adapt to so much in a game because you never know what’s going to happen beforehand—you have to be a quick thinker.

Do you ever miss playing in positions other than goalie?

Yeah I do. I try to play midfield whenever I can. It’s good to have some variety and do something different.

What’s your relationship like with your coach?

Coach Apple’s a good coach. He knows what he’s talking about, he’s tough, asks a lot from us, but is very passionate about the sport. Since he’s a Rochester alum, his passion highlights the positive aspects of soccer, and he takes a lot of pride in coaching us to success.

What’s your major?

Political Science.

Do you have a favorite professor?

I’ve had a lot of professors I’ve liked, but haven’t had any really close relationships because I’ve only had professors one time, which makes it harder to get to know them. I have a good relationship with Professor Gamm, even though I’ve never taken a class with him, he’s my advisor and I’ve been able to talk to him a lot. He was there to help me plan my schedule during my freshmen pre-season, so I’ve known him since I arrived at U of R. He’s very smart and he keeps you on your toes.


Read more University Athletics stories here.

Rochester Undergrads Raise $20K for Rare Disease Research

University of Rochester student Sarah Gelbard is on a mission to raise awareness of Friedreich’s ataxia (FA), a debilitating neuromuscular disease. Her best friend, Laura Ferrarone, struggles daily with the effects of FA, while Laura’s sister, Sara, also suffered from the disease and passed away in November at the age of 26. The strength of the Ferrarone family, and their work raising thousands of dollars for FA research inspired Gelbard to do the same. She found a powerful ally in senior YellowJacket Galen Dole, whose younger sister Marlise was diagnosed with FA at the age of eight. Together, they set a goal of raising $10,000 for the Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA).

All proceeds from the YellowJackets’ April 5 concert were donated to FARA, as well as money raised through the sale of limited edition YellowJackets fan t-shirts. Gelbard and Dole also started a page through GoFundMe, which allows visitors to make online donations.

“Like Sarah, I have watched someone I love lose her mobility and confront hardships that no one should have to confront—all with the sunniest of dispositions,” says Dole. “In honor of Sara and Laura Ferrarone and Marlise, the YellowJackets are proud to raise funds for and awareness of this rare, devastating, and life-shortening disease.”

A nonprofit organization dedicated to curing Friedreich’s ataxia, FARA grants and activities provide support for research, pharmaceutical/biotech drug development, clinical trials, and scientific conferences. FARA also serves as a catalyst, between the public and scientific community, to create worldwide exchanges of information that drive medical advances.

“I know that the curing of a tremendously complicated genetic disease is, well, tremendously complicated—but I also know that it is possible,” Gelbard says, pointing to the Ferrarone family’s work creating a worldwide patient registry for the disease as an important first step. “Sara was the first person to be entered into the worldwide patient registry in Rochester, and perhaps Laura will be the first person to see the benefits of a cure.”

In a little less than two months, Gelbard, Dole, and the YellowJackets have raised more than $20,000 through GoFundMe and concert proceeds. But, their work isn’t done yet. This week, they are making one last push to raise funds through GoFundMe before closing the page on Wednesday, May 1.

“We hope members of the Rochester community will continue to answer our call to action by giving a small amount or by passing this story along,” Gelbard says. “For these efforts to be meaningful for the 15,000 people across the globe living with FA, they have to be continued, and for that, we need your help.”

A Cappella Accolades

By Caitlin Mack ’12 (T5)
Univ. Communications

The University of Rochester’s co-ed a cappella group After Hours emerged victorious at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella Mid-Atlantic Quarterfinals at Penn State on Saturday, February 9th, beating 10 other highly competitive groups and placing first in the competition.

The ICCA competition, of which popular comedy “Pitch Perfect” is based, is the only international tournament that showcases the art of collegiate a cappella.  Each year, the tournament takes place from January through April in six regions: West, Midwest, South, Mid-Atlantic, Northeast America, and Europe. Each region holds several quarterfinal events and the top two college groups advance to semifinals. A final event is held in New York City’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, where groups compete for cash prizes and the coveted title of Grand Champion.

After Hours’ set of three songs featured the smooth solo vocals of Rei Ramos ’15 on “Too Close” by Alex Clare, which stunned the audience and the judges with its dub-step drop in the last chorus. And, according to The A Cappella Blog, “Too Close” showcased the “monster vocal percussion” skills of Ethan Lobenstine ’12 (T5). The set also included a choral take on Regina Spektor’s “Samson” featuring soloist Michaela Reichert ’16 and David Guetta’s “Titanium” featuring powerhouse soloist Rohini Rege ’14.

Video: After Hours Performs at ICCAs

In addition to winning the competition, musical director Ben McCormack ’13 and Lobenstine were given a special award for “Best Arrangement” for all three songs in the set.  After Hours, along with the 2nd place group, the Penn State Statesmen, will perform at the Mid-Atlantic semi-finals at Rutgers University in New Jersey on March 30.

United-We-SingIn other University a cappella news, Rochester all-male group, The Yellowjackets, were recently named a “Top 10 Must-Hear College A Cappella Group” by  The website praised the Jackets new album “United We Sing” and their after-school program (also called “United We Sing”) designed to cultivate a passion for a cappella in local schools.

Audio: Hear “Wavin’ Flag” from “United We Sing”

 The group also was recently nominated for a 2013 Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award (CARA) for their song “I Smile” off of “United We Sing” in the Best Religious Song category. The winners will be announced on April 5 at a live awards ceremony at BOSS, Boston Sings, and then posted to

Hoops Victory Crowns Coach as “Winningest”

By University Athletics

The University of Rochester grabbed 28 offensive rebounds and turned those into 32 second chance points to post an 80-53 victory over RIT in the quarterfinal round of the Wendy’s Classic at William Smith College.

UR (3-1) won its 22nd consecutive game in the Classic and its 13th straight opening round game. The Yellowjackets will play in the semifinals at the Palestra on Thursday night against SUNY Brockport, which defeated St. John Fisher, 72-62. The first semifinal game at 6 pm pairs SUNY Geneseo (a 75-50 winner over Nazareth) against William Smith, which held off Roberts Wesleyan, 79-74.

Rochester head coach Jim Scheible earned two milestone victories with UR’s effort. The win was his 259th at UR, putting him into the career lead, one ahead of Joyce Wong who coached from 1978-1999. This is Scheible’s 14th season at UR. It was also his 400th career victory. This is his 22nd season as a head women’s basketball coach. He coached previously at Clarkson University and at Elmira College before coming to UR for the 1999-2000 season.

Forwards Danielle McNabb (eight), Loren Wagner (seven), and Emily Trapani (six) combined for 21 of the 28 offensive boards. Wagner scored 11 points, McNabb had 10 – seven in the second half when the Yellowjackets pulled away – and Trapani scored a career high 13, all in the first 20 minutes.

Ally Zywicki led UR in scoring with 17 points which equaled her career high.

Leslie Havens and Courtney Tennant paced RIT (0-1) with 11 points apiece. Kayla Wheeler had eight points. The Tigers will play in the Thursday consolation doubleheader at Geneseo against the loser of the Brockport-Fisher game.

Rochester finished with an overall 49-18 advantage on the glass, 21-6 at the RIT end of the floor and 28-12 under its own basket.

Trapani scored seven points in a 14-3 run that turned an 8-5 deficit into a 19-11 lead midway through the first half. The Tigers got within one point twice, the last time on a basket by Wheeler with 3:20 left (27-26). Rochester went on a 10-4 spree to finish the half. Zywicki drained a three from the top of the key, then added two free throws. Katie Weiner made one free throw and Breanna Madrazo sank both ends of a one-and-one. Wagner finished the first half scoring for Rochester with a layup. It was 37-30 at the break.

RIT got as close as three, 41-38, just over two minutes into the second half. The Yellowjackets held the Tigers without a field goal for the next six minutes and used a 17-2 run to take command for good. Zywicki scored seven of the 17. Woods dropped in a pair of layups. Wagner made one layup and McNabb scored three points – one field goal, then one of two from the line. That gave Rochester a 58-40 lead.

Story and photo courtesy of University Athletics.

‘Jackets Host Rowan Wed. in NCAA Playoffs

By Rochester Athletics

Rochester received its first-ever berth into the NCAA Division III field hockey playoffs and will host a first round game on Wednesday at 2 pm. The Yellowjackets will face Rowan University of the New Jersey State Athletic Conference.

The Liberty League received three bids to the 2012 championships, including two of the six available Pool C (at-large) bids. William Smith won the Pool A automatic berth by winning the Liberty League championship. The Herons defeated the Yellowjackets, 3-1, in Saturday’s title game. The other Pool C bid from the league went to Skidmore College. Rochester defeated Skidmore, 3-2, in overtime in the semifinals of the Liberty League playoffs last Thursday at Edwin Fauver Stadium.

The first round match between Rochester and Rowan will be played at Fauver Stadium at 2 pm. It is one of eight first-round matches scheduled for that day. The NCAA took 24 teams into its 2012 championship field. Seventeen teams received Pool A bids. Christopher Newport University earned the sole Pool B bid. Six squads received the Pool C invitations.

Tickets are priced at $6 for adults and $3 for students with ID. They can be purchased at Fauver Stadium beginning one hour before the game begins.

Rowan lost in the NJAC playoffs to Montclair State University. The Profs were 15-6. Rochester was 16-5 this year, setting a single-season record for victories. The winner of the Rochester-Rowan game advances to play Salisbury University in a four-team regional on Saturday at Salisbury. The other game in that regional matches second-seeded Montclair against the winner of the Christopher Newport-Gwynedd Mercy match (played Wednesday at Christopher Newport).

Winners of the four regionals will compete in the 2012 Final Four at William Smith College on November 17-18. The four regional hosts this year are Salisbury, third-seeded Mary Washington, fourth-seeded William Smith, and top-seeded Middlebury College.

Skidmore opens at home against Mass-Dartmouth on Wednesday. The winner advances to Middlebury to play the top-seeded Panthers.

Rochester had seven players selected for the All-Liberty League team this year. Freshman forward Michelle Relin was named the Liberty League Rookie of the Year. Head coach Wendy Andreatta and assistants Ashley Smeltzer and Alexis Vangellow were named the Coaching Staff of the Year. Rochester finished in a three-way tie for second place in the league with Skidmore and RPI.

Yellowjacket goaltender Madison Wagner ranked third in the NCAA Division III statistics in save percentage and 10th in goals-against average. She has allowed 21 goals this year (1.12 GAA), made 114 saves, and has a save percentage of .844.

The top scorers are senior Shelby Hall and freshman Relin, both with 17 goals and eight assists for 42 points. Junior Katie Flaschner has 10 goals and 5 assists for 25 points.

Rowan is making its 18th appearance in the national tournament, its first since 2009. The Profs won the 2002 national championship with a perfect 21-0 record. Rowan reached the semifinals in 1998 and 2000 and made six other appearances in the quarterfinals: 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008.

Nine different players have scored gamewinning goals for Rowan. Sophomores Jenna O’Sullivan and Karlee Henderson have three apiece. Sophomore Kellie Campbell tops the scoring chart with 18 goals, three assists for 39 points. Senior Erin Bernat is second in scoring with seven goals and six assists for 20 points. Junior Amy McKeever is third in scoring (6-6-18) and Henderson is fourth (6-4-16).

In goal, senior Jen Goldberg has a 1.40 GAA with 19 goals allowed, 62 saves, and a .765 save percentage. Junior Steph Colombo has a 2.41 GAA with 18 goals allowed, 57 saves, and a .760 save percentage.

Article and photos courtesy of Rochester Athletics. Read more about the field hockey team here.

Rochester Football Wins Home Opener

Rochester Athletics – Junior quarterback Dean Kennedy threw two first-quarter touchdown passes to lead the University of Rochester to a 17-7 victory over Thiel College at Edwin Fauver Stadium.

He finished 11 for 17 for 151 yards and the two scores. He ran 15 times for a net of 72 yards which included four sacks. Rochester finished with 306 yards in offense – 155 rushing (Chris Lebano rushed 24 times for 79 yards) and 151 in the air.

Thiel produced 229 yards in offense. The Tomcats rushed for 101 yards (Taylor Fink had 60 yards on 15 carries) and passed for 128. Andrew Smith hit 17 of 31 passes. He was sacked twice and intercepted once – by Rochester’s Cole Valko on the final Thiel drive in the last minute.

Kennedy threw a screen pass to Lebano that turned into a 19-yard touchdown with 9:01 left in the first quarter. That climaxed an 11-play, 69-yard drive which started the game. After a three-and-out by Thiel, he drove the Yellowjackets 63 yards in eight plays, finishing with a 50-yard strike to Garrett Kesel who got behind the Thiel defense for the score.

Alex Antonucci kicked both PATs for Rochester. He made a 40-yard field goal with 2:34 left in the game to clinch the victory.

Down 14-0 at halftime, Thiel reorganized and cut the deficit in half midway through the third quarter. The Tomcats converted two third downs and one fourth down in a 13-play, 61-yard drive to get within 14-7. Fink plunged one yard on 4th-and-1 from the Rochester 28 to keep the drive going. Three plays later. Smith found Berend Grube inside the one-yard line for an 18-yard gain. Fink scored on the next play and Cody McClelland’s PAT made it 14-7 with 3:48 left in the quarter.

Rochester’s defense held midway through the fourth to preserve the win. The Tomcats drove from their own 25 to the Rochester 26 where Smith’s pass for Grube on 4th-and-1 fell incomplete.

Kennedy drove Rochester 51 yards in 11 plays, eating up 4:24 on the clock. Antonucci kicked his 40-yard field goal on 4th-and-7.

Defensively, Jordan Honjiyo and Zach Cicero led Rochester with 10 tackles. Brendan Pidgeon had nine stops, one sack one forced fumble, and two pass breakups. Shawn Burke had eight tackles and one sack.

Thiel’s leader was Dustin Baker with nine tackles, including 2.5 tackles behind the line. Jack Sindlinger and Terry Gensel had six tackles apiece.

Notes: It was Kennedy’s second career start. He directed Rochester to a 16-13 road win at St. Lawrence last year…. Rochester won its home opener for the first time since the 2001 season.

Article and photo courtesy of the University of Rochester Athletics Department. For more sports news, visit

YellowJackets Receive Key to Rochester

Univ. Communications – Rochester Mayor Thomas S. Richards recognized the University of Rochester YellowJackets for their contributions to the city during a ceremony at 1 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 9, in Hirst Lounge in Wilson Commons on the University’s River Campus. As part of the ceremony, Richards presented the members of the YellowJackets, the University’s oldest male a cappella group, with a key to the city of Rochester.

VIDEO: YellowJackets Recieve Key to City, Perform with World of Inquiry School

“The YellowJackets have spent countless hours working with youth here in our city and have taken their mission across the world to Kenya,” said Richards, who also is a University Trustee. “We are proud that they are making lives more fulfilling through their commitment to music and education. That’s why it is an honor to present the University of Rochester YellowJackets with a key to our city.”

For Pittsford native Aaron Sperber ’11, who has been a member of the YellowJackets for five years, receiving a key to Rochester is an unparalleled honor.

“We have had the privilege of traveling far and wide to share our music and our message, and while being on national television was an honor that we only dreamed of, nothing is quite like home,” said Sperber, an international relations major in the College and a vocal performance major at the Eastman School of Music. “As proud Rochesterians, we found that more exciting than the glamour of Hollywood is the knowledge that we are representing all the people who have supported us and made us who we are.”

Jamal Moore ’11, also a voice performance major at Eastman and a four-year member of the YellowJackets, agreed.

“Being given a key to the city is an amazing honor that few people receive,” Moore, a native of Augusta, Ga., explained. “I am so grateful that we were selected as the latest recipients of it.”

The YellowJackets, who recently competed on NBC’s hit reality television show The Sing-Off, have a history of community service in the city. Over the last decade, they have performed concerts and hosted workshops throughout the Rochester City School District.

In 2009, the group organized the Harmony for Hope concert in honor of one of its members, Alexander Hunter, who was undergoing treatment for lymphoma. Through a benefit concert, the YellowJackets raised funds for the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center.

This past summer, the group traveled to Maseno, Kenya, on a goodwill tour and musical exchange. The group spent three weeks in the African village, where they conducted workshops in the village schools, learned traditional native songs from local children, and taught students popular songs from the United States. Additionally, the group participated in community outreach, working with victims of AIDS through the nonprofit organization Joining Hearts and Hands. For the group, the trip underscored the importance of music programs in schools as a way of providing students with a fun, creative way to engage in learning, said Sperber.

This fall, the YellowJackets took that message to heart and teamed up with the Rochester City School District to create an extra-curricular a cappella group at the World of Inquiry School. Nearly 100 students at the school spend two hours every Thursday with the YellowJackets, learning a cappella arrangements and vocal performance tips. The group, called ROC-appella, will join the YellowJackets on stage at two sold-out concerts on Dec. 11. See a video about the partnership here.

Article written by Melissa Greco Lopes, editor of The Buzz and student life publicist in University Communications. Photos courtesy of University Communications.

Update: YellowJackets Advance to Top 8 on The Sing-Off

Univ. Communications – The YellowJackets are moving on! On Monday, Oct. 17, the group advanced to the top eight in NBC’s a cappella competition show with their highly entertaining performance of “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls. Watch the full episode here.

The next episode airs on Monday, Oct. 24, at 8 p.m. EST.

VOTE FOR THE ‘JACKETS: Make the YellowJackets your #1 pick this week.

For more updates, visit