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    The Final Byte: Why It Was So Hard To Leave The 'J'

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    With the Northwestern Softball alumni game just a day away, Kristin (Scharkey) Jensen looks back on her four years in Kate Drohan's program in the final installment of Schark Bytes.

    I remember the first time I met Kate and Caryl Drohan.

    'Cats in Korea

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    Hi everyone! For those of you that don't know me yet, my name is Jen Yamin and I'm from Allendale, New Jersey. I'm a sophomore on the women's fencing team and I've been fencing since I was 11 years old. I decided to come to Northwestern because of its strong academics, supportive athletic community, the proximity to Chicago, and of course, the people here. With all of that in mind, I proudly present the first entry to the new fencing blog, Behind the Mask:

    Hello Wildcats!

    Writing to you from my bed after a casual 17-hour power nap, I have returned from Jeju Island, South Korea where my teammates and I participated in the Korea-USA Elite Fencing Invitational (KUEFI).

    Five fencers from universities across the United States were chosen to compete in the individual competition. From Northwestern, Cara Franke, Mikela Goldstein, Courtney Dumas, and myself traveled abroad to participate in such an exciting event. Unfortunately, our teammate Dina Bazarbayeva suffered an injury before the competition and was unable to travel. There were also fencers from Princeton, Brown, Stanford, Notre Dame, Columbia, and many more schools.

    'Cats in Korea

    Overall, the 'Cats performed pretty well considering the summer is our offseason. Fencing the Koreans was a tough, yet rewarding experience. Although their clean, precise styles were difficult to fence against, we still got the opportunity to test out different strategies at the highest level. Our best finish came from Courtney, who finished third in the women's epée event. Way to go, Court!

    Jeju is a beautiful, tropical island that has been named one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. After the competition was over, the competitors took advantage of the free-time to explore downtown Jeju. The streets were filled with so many shops, cafés, and restaurants that it was impossible to make it one block without stopping. The language barrier was sometimes an issue, and at one restaurant it led to a game of charades. One thing I did learn was that ordering chicken wings with hand gestures is a lot harder than you think.

    Jeju Island

    In addition to exploring downtown, we had the opportunity to hike on "Cultural Experience Day," arranged by the Korean organizers of the invitational. The sights were beautiful and the water was a perfect blue. After hiking in the sweltering heat, we took a taxi to Hyeopjae Beach and stampeded like wildebeests ran straight into the water.

    The organizers of the competition also held an "Education Through Athletics" Seminar, where the US coaches discussed balancing sports and academics. I was shocked to hear that in Korea, it is considered impossible for athletes to be academically strong students. In Korea, you are considered either a student or an athlete, but never a "student-athlete." One goal of the KUEFI event was to promote the "student-athlete model" and show the advantages of balancing the two. I think that after this seminar, the Korean students and teachers have a clearer understanding of the American collegiate athletic life. I wish the Korea International School students the best of luck as they continue on with their studies and sports!

    Go 'Cats!

    My trip to Korea was a culturally enriching and exciting trip. However, it feels great to be back in my own bed. I can't wait to be back on campus, and as always, Go 'Cats!

    - Jen Yamin

    Blogging From Belgium - 8/16/13

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    Northwestern redshirt junior JerShon Cobb, redshirt freshman Sanjay Lumpkin and assistant coach are currently touring with a Global Sports Academy squad in Belgium. On Wednesday, the team posted a 73-67 victory over Wevelgem. The score was tied 60-60 before the GSA team finished the game on a 13-7 run. The unit of Cobb, Ronnie Johnson (Purdue), Juan Howard Jr. (Detroit), Juan Anderson (Marquette) and Ryan Sawvell (Evansville) all made finishing plays to seal the win. Cobb (12 points) and Lumpkin (6 points) continued their solid play on both ends of the court.


    Cobb filed this blog entry following the contest.


    We went to Brugge, Belgium, on Wednesday to experience some more of the culture of Belgium. The trip to Brugge was fun. It reminds me of Evanston with the clothing shops and places to eat. There were a lot of restaurants where you could eat outside. Brugge is well known for its chocolate. We were in Brugge for about three hours before we headed off to our next game.  


    The best part of the trip to me is hanging out with the team and coaches. Everybody likes each other and I feel it is the reason why we have been successful with our games. It is great to get to know the different personalities of the players on and off the floor. The coaches have been great with us and have allowed us to play. They have done a great job of putting us in positions to be successful.


    We arrived at our next game an hour and a half before we were supposed to play. Coach Baldwin and the staff held another clinic for some youth players. Our last game was a very competitive one which we won, 73-67. The team we played had some good players and some big guys that could score around the paint. I think we played ok as a team. We just had a hard time making shots.  


    European basketball is more physical than people realize. They all set very solid screens and they box out every time the ball is shot. The toughest thing is getting used to the extra step Europeans use to get past you. It is also tough getting use to the amount of traveling calls the referees make. It is just a different style that takes some time to adjust to.


    We have to close out this trip with a win to go undefeated. We are headed to Cologne, Germany, to do more sightseeing. Afterwards, we will play our final game.


    The GSA then completed its undefeated trip (5-0) by posting a 107-76 win over Solingen (Germany) on Thursday. The visitors wasted little time by attacking quickly in transition and sprinting pass the Solingen team. Lumpkin paced the Wildcats duo with 18 points while Cobb finished with 16 points in much more limited action. Lumpkin had his greatest offensive output of the trip, including draining multiple 3-pointers. The contingent is slated to return to the United States Friday afternoon.

    Blogging From Belgium - 8/14/13

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    Northwestern redshirt junior JerShon Cobb, redshirt freshman Sanjay Lumpkin and assistant coach Pat Baldwin are currently touring with a Global Sports Academy team in Belgium. The team had a day off from competition on Monday as they toured London (detailed below by Lumpkin).


    The squad returned to action on Tuesday and earned a 90-70 win over St. Niklaas of Belgium. All 10 players scored and five players posted double-digit scoring efforts. Cobb tallied 10 points and Lumpkin contributed 8 points in a strong effort by the Northwestern duo. In three games, Cobb and Lumpkin are averaging 10.1 and 6.0 points per game, respectively.


    Our off day was spent in the great city of London. We woke up very early Monday morning to walk to the train station in Mechelen. We boarded the train to Brussels first. Next, we had to make a transfer to the Eurostar train that we took to London. The train we took to London seemed to run about 200 mph. However, the train was so smooth that if you weren't looking out the window, you'd think you were sitting still.


    London was absolutely amazing. We began the morning by experiencing the "changing of the guards" and the Buckingham Palace where the Queen of England lives. Afterwards, we took London's train, The Tube, to Oxford Circus where we split up and did a lot of shopping. Niketown and House of Hoops were pretty popular spots with all the guys. After some shopping, a couple of the guys and I got on The Tube to see the London Bridge and Big Ben which were spectacular. Overall, I had a great experience in London and it's definitely a place that I would really enjoy visiting again.


    London has a lot of similarities to Chicago. Both are extremely busy with tourists and people in general. They both have a public transportation system that is used to pretty much everyone's advantage and life in London seemed almost the same. The people in London are approachable and relatable and there are many familiar stores and places as well.  


    I'd say the two biggest differences are driving and money. It is shocking to see cars on the other side of the road and the steering wheels in cars on the right side. It took a while to get used to looking "right" first when crossing the street instead of "left". The other main difference is the worth of the dollar. The dollar is worth extremely less than the pound used in the United Kingdom. Everything is more expensive.


    I absolutely would recommend others to visit London. It was such a great experience. I got a chance to see things I have only seen in pictures and in the movies. It was great to be around different people and experience the city for my own.


    This entire trip has been great. Hanging with players from other teams and conferences is really fun. We have had a lot of time to talk to each other in our downtime with long bus rides and train rides. I've gotten to know pretty much all of them. It's fun to just tell each other stories about how their college is and reflecting on our own experiences with them.

    Sanjay Lumpkin

    Thoughts from Katie: The 'Cats are Back!

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    After a week of practice, the Northwestern women's soccer team has the first athletic event of the 2013-14 season, hosting an exhibition contest Wednesday at Lakeside Field vs. crosstown rival DePaul. Game time is set for 6:30 p.m. and admission is FREE so swing by scenic Lakeside to get your first glimpse of the 2013 NU women's soccer team!

    If you can't make it to Wednesday's match, follow along via Twitter updates from @NU_SportsLIVE or Gametracker will have live stats.

    Now a junior on the women's soccer team, Katie Landgrebe will give fans an inside look into the program with her blogs. In her first blog of the 2013 campaign, Katie gives a glimpse into what preseason training is like for the 'Cats and fills fans in on the proper "lingo".

    By Katie Landgrebe

    Preseason Update
    The 'Cats are back on campus and getting ready for the 2013 season! Wherever it was we all spent our summers, there's always a lot of excitement (and a few nerves) involved with heading back to Evanston and beginning our preparation for our fall season. After the first few days of preseason, the initial nerves have worn off and there's a ton of expectation and excitement building about playing our home-opener in less than two weeks! (Mark your calendars...Aug. 23 vs. Western Illinois at Lakeside)

    That said, preseason is a special time as our team spends an inordinate amount of time together and works extremely hard in practices and meetings to get ready for the season. I thought I would give you a crash course in preseason lingo as it is really a very unique vernacular. So hang with me here, friends...

    Common Preseason terms:
    Ice bath:
    The collective enduring of a 10 minute, 50 degree plunge into a cold tub with nine of your teammates. Most often performed after practice or games, up to twice a day during preseason. Despite how miserable it sounds, these help muscle soreness and are the origin of lots of funny stories and memories.

    Team meal: A mad dash, frenzied stampede to get to the locker room to enjoy (or more often, devour) whatever food the extremely generous and patient coaching staff has provided to help us replenish our bodies before and after training sessions. It's best to prepare yourself not to get offended when people lose their cool over the last bite of the favorite pasta or salad, as everyone is just as hungry as you.

    Post-training foam roll: The use of a foot long, hard foam roller to massage and roll out muscles after a training session. Usually led by our also extremely generous and patient trainer, D, this exercise is normally accompanied by collective groans of pain and exclamations of, "ahh, that feels good."

    Laundry loop: The ingenious device that allows all of our practice gear and sweaty clothing to be laundered by our, again, extremely generous and patient equipment manager, Liz. With laundry being done more than twice a day, laundry loops help us all to look spiffy and smell acceptable when we head out to training (afterwards is a different story.)

    GGB (green Gatorade bottle): This abbreviation for our Gatorade water bottles, issued to everyone on the team, is thrown around a lot during preseason because in all honesty, this trusty water bottle should always be by your side. Whether walking to practice, napping between training sessions, or driving in your car, your hydration success depends on the proximity of your GGB (or other water bottle of your choosing.)

    Phrases commonly heard during preseason:

    "Ahhhh!" "Too cold!" "Start the timer!" "Just get through the first two minutes and you'll be ok!" "Is it extra cold today?? It's definitely colder today."--The collective sounds of ice bath-ing.

    "I'm about to nap so hard."--Heard after morning sessions where there is a time gap large enough to take a nap before the next meeting or training.

    "Are you hungry? I'm hungry." "How long has it been since I last ate, an hour? Yeah definitely time for more food."--No explanation needed.

    We'd love for you to follow along as we continue with preseason and preparations for our first exhibition (Wednesday, against DePaul) and first regular season game (August 23, against Western Illinois). All this to say, we have a great time during preseason and always come out on the other side with more stories to share and a stronger bond as a team. Thanks for joining with us! Go 'Cats!

    Blogging From Belgium - 8/12/13

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    Northwestern redshirt junior JerShon Cobb, redshirt freshman Sanjay Lumpkin and assistant coach Pat Baldwin are currently touring with a Global Sports Academy team in Belgium. The squad improved to 2-0 on its trip with a 75-56 victory over Bent Schrenen Waregem in Waregem on Sunday afternoon.


    Cobb bounced back from a foul-plagued first game to net 17 points in 23 minutes of action to lead all scorers. Two of Cobb's points came via a breakaway tomahawk dunk to put a cap on GSA's 10-3 run late in the second quarter. Lumpkin played another solid all-around game, contributing 5 points to go along with 5 rebounds and 3 steals.  


    The GSA cagers have a break from games on Monday and will trek to London to visit Buckingham Palace, see the Changing of the Guard  and partake in other sightseeing ventures.  They will hit the floor again on Tuesday evening.


    Cobb provides the following blog update.


    After breakfast this morning, we took off on a trip to Gent, Belgium. In Gent, we walked through town and they were having a big flea market. They were selling everything from clothes, shoes, jewelry and video games. We sat down and had a waffle and water at Koffie 3,14 Thee. Personally, I felt I was overcharged for it. But, that is the price you pay for being in another country. The highlight of the trip was seeing the Castle of the Counts. They started building the castle in 1168 and finished in 1191. The restoration started in 1886 and finished in 1913.  


    This afternoon, we played a team named Waregem. Waregem is about hour from our hotel in Mechelen. We played really well today. I thought we were very unselfish offensively and played great defense. We held our opponent to 26 points in the 1st half. We ended up winning, 75-56.


    I thought I played much better today than I did in the first game. I was able to stay on the floor and avoid foul trouble. I had to adjust the way I played and not be so physical. I was in a much better rhythm and it helped to see my first shot go down. Since Coach Collins has come in, I feel like I'm in better condition. It has really allowed me to play longer and make more of an impact on the game.  


    I was really impressed with Sanjay today. He was very active and played with a great amount energy. He hit the boards hard and played great defense. I know Sanjay is really excited about being on the floor after redshirting last year.


    I'm looking forward to our next game and building off of this win. Right now, we are heading back to the hotel to relax for a while. Wi spr ekenu later nog. In the Flemish language that means "We'll talk to you later!"


    JerShon Cobb

    Blogging From Belgium

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    Northwestern assistant coach Pat Baldwin as well as NU redshirt junior JerShon Cobb and redshirt freshman Sanjay Lumpkin are currently touring in Belgium with a Global Sports Academy team. The U.S. squad posted 78-72 victory over Leuven SALB Belgian in its first exhibition game Saturday in Leuven. Lumpkin was a standout on the defensive end, posting seven rebounds and a pair of steals. Cobb battled foul trouble throughout the contest but hit back-to-back jumpers in the fourth quarter to help seal the victory. The team's next game is slated for 3 p.m. local time Sunday in Gent.


    Lumpkin checks in with this blog entry on the team's experience so far.


    The flight from Chicago to Brussels was pretty long but I had an exit row which made it easier for me. After we landed, we got our passports stamped and we loaded the bus to Mechelen where our hotel was located. I tried to take as many pictures as I could to take everything in. We arrived at the hotel a few hours before practice. Coach Baldwin gave us the option to take a nap or walk around the town for a little bit.  


    The following day, Coach Baldwin and the team put on a clinic for the Belgian Federation of Coaches at the Pitzemburg Arena. We focused primarily on the defensive end, which allowed me to tune up my defensive game. After the clinic, we boarded the bus and headed to Brussels. It was great to see a lot of the monuments and the really cool architecture. We saw where the King and Queen of Belgium live. We even caught the tail end of some weddings that were held in Brussels Square.


    The highlight of our trip into Brussels Square was getting our hands on some Belgian waffles. Belgium is known for its waffles and the entire team made a beeline to one of the waffle stands. It tasted even better because it cost only 1 Euro or a little over $1. We walked around for a while and took pictures with many tourists. It was cool to have so many people want to take pictures with us. Many thought we were in the NBA.  


    Afterwards, we loaded back on the bus. I took a power nap before we stopped for some more sightseeing. We caught a glimpse of the Atomium. The Atomium is a symbol of the 1958 World Exposition which was held in Belgium. We also saw the Koekelberg which is the largest church in Belgium.  

    JerShon Cobb and Sanjay Lumpkin


    We arrived at the arena around 7 p.m. The first thing I noticed was how confusing the court appeared. The court was littered with the lines for volleyball, handball and other sport they play there. It was great playing against international competition and the different set of rules. They use a 24-second shot clock, 8 seconds to get the ball across half court and they have a wider lane like the NBA.  


    The Leuven team we played against was very tall and had a couple of 18-year-old kids who were pretty good. I had never seen so many ballscreens in my life. It was a really good game and we had to work for everything. It was a five-point game after the first three quarters before we pulled away in the fourth quarter. I am very happy we are 1-0 and picked up the "W."


    After the game, we had dinner in the arena's club area before we headed back to our hotel in Mechelen. I thought I was going to be tired but I felt completely fine. I stayed up for a little bit before calling it a night.


    We spreken later nog af. In Flemish this phrase means "We'll speak to each other later!"

    Former Wildcat Fires No-Hitter

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    A brief seven-day stint on the disabled list did former Northwestern pitcher Eric Jokisch a world of good when he returned to the bump Tuesday night for the Tennessee Smokies, the Class AA minor league affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. Jokisch threw his first career no-hitter as he halted the lengthy 11-game winning streak of the Jacksonville Suns.

    The former NU southpaw was in command early on as he mowed down the first 10 hitters he faced before issuing the first of four walks in the game. Jokisch settled quickly and got plenty of help from his defense along the way, including a fantastic diving stab by shortstop Javier Baez to secure the second out in the bottom of the ninth. The Virginia, Ill., native then got reliever Pete Andreiczyk to ground out to Christian Villanueva at third base to end the ballgame and cement his place in baseball history.

    "This is probably the best day of my life," Jokisch told's Ashley Marshall after the game. "I will try and get [the ball] home as safely and quickly as possible. That's something I will keep forever and hopefully tell my kids and grandkids that it happened.

    "I grew up just hoping one day to throw a no-hitter in the Major Leagues," Jokisch added. "This isn't the same, but right now I don't think I could feel any happier about the way things are going."

    It was the first nine-inning no-hitter by a Tennessee pitcher since Leo Estrella accomplished the feat in 2000. Jokisch's gem was the first individual no-hitter in the Southern League since 2011 when Matt Moore of the Montgomery Biscuits did it against the Mobile BayBears. Moore is now a member of the Tampa Bay Rays big league club.

    Here is a video of the final out and ensuing celebration, courtesy of

    Jokisch threw 108 pitches and struck out eight Suns to earn his ninth victory of the season. The lefty helped his own cause at the plate with a pair of hits and his first RBI of the season in the 10-0 route.

    In April, the 2008 Big Ten Freshman of the Year was named the Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Month. He currently leads the Southern League with 114 strikeouts and ranks third with 128.2 innings pitched this season.

    Here is a video of Jokisch's postgame interview, courtesy of the Jacksonville Suns:

    Marisa Bast Attends USOC F.L.A.M.E. Conference

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    By Marisa Bast

    This summer, I attended the F.L.A.M.E. (Finding Leaders Among Minorities Everywhere) program in Colorado Springs, Colo., an educational experience catered to minority students that is put on annually by the United States Olympic Committee. I spent four inspirational days at the training center, surrounded by an overwhelming amount of excellence -- excellence that presented itself in the form of Olympians and Olympic hopefuls, Paralympians, staff leaders, executives and 27 other college students.


    Marisa Bast with National Team fencers Ivan Lee (left) and Jason Pryor (right).

    The program, in its 20th year, consisted of an itinerary that was teeming with motivational presentations, leadership seminars and other workshops led by F.L.A.M.E. alumni, current and former Olympians, USOC staff and current Paralympians. Speakers included five-time Olympic medalist and basketball legend Teresa Edwards, speedskating Olympic medalist Derek Parra and Paralympic Judo medalist Dartanyon Crockett, whose story you may have seen featured on ESPN's "Outside the Lines." In conjunction with these presentations, we were able to partake in Olympic and Paralympic sport demonstrations including fencing, sitting volleyball and team handball, in addition to venturing outside the training center and visiting the beautiful Garden of the Gods, a national natural landmark featuring a magnificent set of red rock formations.


    Needless to say, being a F.L.A.M.E. participant was an amazing, eye-opening and motivational experience. I was also able to gain an inside look at the U.S. Olympic committee, foster my own personal and professional growth, improve my leadership skills and communication strategies, expand my network and learn the values of hard work, integrity and perseverance from Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls and standouts.

    In just four days, I was able to learn about sports, the Olympic games, various business tactics and strategies as well as the values of respect, friendship and sheer determination. My biggest takeaway from this program, however, was that hard work trumps all and is vital to one's success; in other words, you are capable of anything if you set your mind to it. As cliche as this sounds, it is 100 percent true. Hard work is blind to socioeconomic status, race, age and educational background. It rewards those who remain loyal to it, and abandons those who are fearful and shy. Hard work can be your best friend or your worst enemy.


    Hearing how Olympic and Paralympic standouts like Derek Parra and Dartanyon Crockett overcame adversity, jumped over hurdles to attain success and lived like champions within and outside the boundaries of their respective sports was incredibly inspiring. They instilled a sense of passion and thirst for greatness within me simply by sharing their journeys to the Olympics, journeys laden with hardship, grit and determination.


    The 2012-13 academic year was a memorable one for Northwestern, and we hope you've enjoyed reliving many of the Wildcats' landmark victories, championships and achievements during's countdown of the Top 20 Moments of the year. Today the countdown concludes with the No. 1 moment -- a chance to put a wrap on 2012-13 and turn the page to what is sure to be an even bigger and better year in 2013-14.

    Moment No. 1
    Date Jan. 1, 2013
    Location EverBank Field | Jacksonville, Fla.
    Original Story Bowl Champions! Northwestern Wins Gator Bowl, 34-20
    Social Media @NUFBFamily   |  Northwestern Football
    Top 20 Countdown Northwestern's Top 20 Moments of 2012-13 Countdown

    "We talk to our guys all the time about - 'Act like you've been here before.' Well, we've never been here before!"

    Gator Bowl Highlights
    Those were the words of an exasperated Pat Fitzgerald, directed to a sea of purple-clad fans still celebrating in the seats of EverBank Field, as everyone associated with Northwestern Football soaked in a moment that was years in the making. After too many postseason bowl trips had ended in thrilling but disappointing fashion, the 2012 Wildcats had put the exclamation point on a 10-win season when they defeated Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl, 34-20, accounting for the No. 1 moment for Northwestern Athletics in 2012-13.

    On a beautiful New Year's Day in Jacksonville, the Wildcats put on display all the tools and intangibles that had allowed them to enjoy such a successful season to that point: a quick first-quarter start, timely third-down conversions on offense, a relentless pass rush on defense -- which contributed to four Wildcats interceptions -- and clutch kicking by place-kicker Jeff Budzien.

    From Quentin Williams' pick-six touchdown on MSU's first offensive series through Northwestern's kneel-downs in victory formation, Wildcats fans had plenty to cheer about on an afternoon that few are likely to forget. When all was said and done, Northwestern had earned the program's second 10-win season in the modern era, a No. 16 final ranking in the USA Today/Coaches Poll and the No. 17 spot in the AP rankings.

    Not to be overlooked was the fact that the 2012 seniors earned their 40th win in five years on campus -- most ever by a Wildcats recruiting class -- while Fitzgerald officially took over as the winningest head coach in program history with his 50th head coaching victory.

    And, as usual, it was Fitzgerald who said it best during his postgame address, finishing his earlier thought about Northwestern's long-awaited thrill of postseason victory:

    "We're here now, and we're here to stay."

    Northwestern is set to join the rest of the Big Ten Conference at the 42nd Annual Big Ten Football Media Day and Kickoff Luncheon tomorrow (Wednesday) and Thursday in Chicago. Visit for complete coverage of Chicago's Big Ten Team.