September 24, 2018 | ° F

Junior looks to leave lasting legacy at Rutgers

Photo by Tian Li |

Junior Morgan Pfaff came to Rutgers for its proximity and coach. Pfaff holds the school record in the 200 Butterfly.

Morgan Pfaff came to Rutgers 2 1/2 years ago as an outgoing individual and has remained just that.

But while her decision to join the Rutgers swimming and diving team included many factors, two reasons trumped the rest: location and head coach Phil Spiniello.

The New Brunswick-based campus is the perfect distance from her home in Red Lion, Pennsylvania, according to Pfaff, which allows her to feel just far enough from home but also close enough to see her family. 

Being an only child in a tight-knit family made the Scarlet Knights an enticing option — that coupled with the fact that Spiniello would be Pfaff’s mentor.

“Phil is like a father figure to all of us,” junior Pfaff said. “Meeting him and seeing his passion for the program and how much he truly cares, not just about athletics but us as individuals, which is something I respected.”

Pfaff started swimming competitively as a nine-year-old, where her love for the sport was apparent as her parents struggled to get her out of the pool. 

From then on her swimming career continued to blossom, so much so that Spiniello took notice and decided to recruit her. 

“She was a very versatile swimmer — she can do a lot of different races,” Spiniello said. “She is very good at butterfly and the individual medley as well as backstroke. She can do almost every event. There is a lot of potential there. She is a very hard worker. She comes from a good club team in high school.”

That club team made the transition to the college level that much easier. Coming from a gold medal club in USA swimming, the demanding practices allowed Pfaff to be prepared to handle anything the college level would throw at her.  

It’s what allowed her to set goals and strategize to achieve them, and while she is still working on reaching those goals, she is confident that when the Big Ten Championship meet comes up on the calendar, she can achieve those goals. 

Since coming to Rutgers, Pfaff’s growth has been visible.

“Her training has really gone to the next level over the last 2 1/2 years since her time here,” Spiniello said. “She has been able to put up some really good times in practice and rehearse that for the meet. Outside the pool, she is really supportive of her teammates and wants to see the program as a whole succeed. You can see it everyday in practice when she cheers for her teammates and … gets everyone excited to swim [at the meets].”

When it comes to the team, Pfaff is a jokester, lightening up the mood at practice. She is also a motivating individual whether it’s at practice or the actual meet. She is looking to get the best out of her teammates because when she sees how well they perform, it in turn motivates her. 

“She puts the team first and is always there for everyone when they are racing,” said senior Greta Leberfinger, when speaking of Pfaff. “She is a selfless individual.”

With a year left at Rutgers and the competition in the Big Ten, Pfaff hopes to leave a lasting impression on the underclassmen and the program.

“I want to leave an imprint of not being an underdog program,” Pfaff said. “We are here to compete. I want any incomers to know Rutgers is a great school with a great athletic program. I couldn’t imagine swimming for a better coach. I want people to know the pride I feel for this team and this school. You should never regret your time here and love every second here.”

For updates on the Rutgers swimming and diving team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter. 

Ryan Moran

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