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    Armstrong Reflects on Brilliant Career

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    Watch a video feature on Chelsea Armstrong

    As she prepares to lead ninth-ranked Northwestern into the 2012 Big Ten Field Hockey Tournament, senior Chelesa Armstrong sat down with NUsports.com Special Contributor Skip Myslenski to look back on her stellar four-year run with the Wildcats while looking ahead at a potential NCAA tournament berth.

    You are Chelsea Armstrong, the centerpiece of the 'Cats nationally-ranked field hockey team. You are an All-American, your school's career scoring leader, just the ninth player in NCAA history to score over 100 goals, and you are something else as well. You are one of those who comprised the first recruiting class collected by Tracey Fuchs when she took over a program that had fallen on hard times, and so you and she are often acclaimed as the catalysts behind its refurbishment and resurrection. But you demur when this point is raised...

    "I've said it before. It makes me a little uncomfortable.

    "Well, not uncomfortable. But the recognition I get is based on a system that is all about statistics, right? It's all about shots and goals and things like that. There's never any credit given the people behind you who are setting you up for those shots and those goals.

    "Exactly. They miss out on all the credit. But they're the ones in there blocking and opening those lanes up for the running backs or keeping the quarterback out of trouble. So I guess you could call me the quarterback. But don't forget about the offensive line.

    "They have to do a bunch of work to get the ball down the field to you to get a shot.

    "There's no way of measuring that, I guess you could say. So I really don't like taking that kind of credit for it when it's come from a group of 25 girls every year working hard together and getting that chemistry we've needed to be successful.

    "I think if anything maybe I was a spark, perhaps, someone who could be up there and finish the goals. They might have been doing that the years before I got here, but didn't have that person back there who could finish for them.

    "So I really don't think you can lay it down to the work of two people. It's been the work of 25 girls, all the coaching staff working toward the goal of being Big Ten champions every year.

    "It can't be something that comes down to two people. If it was just me and Tracey, it wouldn't work too well.

    "Obviously it's a huge honor. It's something I'm proud of and I'm glad I'm going to leave here and leave them behind for people to chase after. But they were never something I focused on. It was never a goal of mine to break those records.

    "The goal was to be successful as a team and to get to be Big Ten Champions, things like that. It was a result of those goals, I guess, that those records fell, and obviously I'm proud of them. But it's not something I focused on as a personal goal."

    ******

    You are Chelsea Armstrong and you hail from the Western Australian city of Geraldton, which overlooks the Indian Ocean. It was settled in 1850 and named after Sir Charles Fitzgerald, who was then the governor of the area, and now it is known for its pristine beaches and its alluring climate and its abundance of Rock Lobster. Some folk simply refer to it as Sun City and others, as the Lobster Capital of Australia. But, no matter what it is called, this is where it all began for you. . .

    "My mom played field hockey in Australia.

    "It's a bit different in Australia. It's a club system and my mom was playing club field hockey. So I would go down there and watch the games and be around it.

    "I think I first started, I always forget, I think around seven. It's called Minkey field hockey. They play with a slightly bigger ball. It's just to get you started. (Ed. note: The name is derived from MINi-hocKEY and is also played on a smaller field.)

    "That's where it all started. From there you play for your primary school and then it's in to the club system.

    "As I said, it's different in Australia. There's less of an emphasis on high school sports and collegiate athletics. It's all club-based sports.

    "I played with my mom when I got old enough. I think I was 14. Then we moved to Perth basically to play field hockey.

    "I went to boarding school in Perth and was playing field hockey in Perth.

    "There's no collegiate sports. In Australia, it's really different. So I was at (the) University (of Western Australia) going to school, but I was playing field hockey for the club that was near my house. It's a different system. You don't go into a university to play sports. You go there to get your education.

    "I was going to school and playing club. Nothing crazy or exciting or anything like that.Then I got the phone call to come over here."

    ******

    You are Chelsea Armstrong and, back in 2008, you know nothing of Tracey Fuchs or Carla Tagliente or universities called Michigan and Northwestern. But 'Cat athletic director Jim Phillips certainly knows of the legendary Fuchs, a renowned named in the sport of field hockey, and that is why he is now trying to lure her to Evanston. But she has been an assistant at Michigan since 1996 and so, with its head job open, she demurs, hoping to stay put and fill that vacancy. But eventually it goes to another and that is why, in January of 2009, she is introduced as the seventh head coach in the history of the Northwestern field hockey program. Coming with her to help is Tagliente, another Wolverine assistant and already your phone pal...

    "This is the backstory I've heard. Carla called my club coach (Kate Starre) one day asking if she knew of anyone who'd be interested in coming over. She called me and briefly described what was going on and asked whether I'd be interested. Basically, on the phone, I said, "No. No. I'm pretty happy right here."

    "A couple weeks went by and I was talking to some people and talking to my mom and everybody was, "This seems like a really good opportunity. Why don't you maybe think about it a little more?" After looking into it a little more, that's when I thought, "OK. Maybe I should talk to Carla."

    "She called me.

    "We're talking Michigan here. That was to go to Michigan.

    "We're in '08. Maybe September. Maybe it was earlier than that.

    "It wasn't until early January that Tracey and Carla moved here. By that stage, I'd started submitting my application documents to Michigan and things like that. Then they moved and gave me the opportunity to come with them or stay at Michigan. That's when I first really looked into both the schools.

    "It was a pretty easy decision for me, especially because of the contact I'd had with Carla and Tracey. That was my only contact over here, so I decided to follow them here.

    "Also, obviously, for the academics and the location.

    "That's when I first looked deeply into the whole collegiate athletic thing.

    I had no idea about collegiate athletics. I had no idea about college in America. The most I knew was from watching American Pie and those movies.

    "It wasn't until then that I compared the two schools. I looked at Northwestern and saw it was very prestigious, its location was Chicago, it was still in the Big Ten, it wasn't like I was taking a slip in conference standing. Like I said, it was pretty easy for me.

    "I'd never been to the States before. So I came over here for a 24-hour official visit and flew home again and I couldn't. I could have said, "Yeah, I'll stay here for four years" and then leave after two. But as a person I didn't feel comfortable doing that. After talking to some people, I just thought, "I'll verbally commit right now to two seasons. I don't want commit to four and then have to back out after two years because I'm feeling too far from home or something like that."

    "It was just an insurance policy for me, I guess. I didn't want to commit to something I wasn't sure I was going to be able to complete, I guess, never being that far away from home and things like that.

    "But, really, it didn't take me long to realize that I was going to be here longer than two years. It was pretty early on that I decided.

    "It was just an experience I'd never, ever had the chance to experience in Australia. Being part of a team like this, you don't have that experience in Australia. You're not around this one team for this amount of hours every week. You don't have these seasons where you travel around and play different colleges around America. There's just no avenue for it in Australia.

    "It was so much fun. You're with this team, you're traveling around, you're playing games. It's pretty much, I think, as close to being a professional athlete as you can get. It was just something I really enjoyed, I enjoyed being part of a team. So it didn't take long at all."

    ******

    You are Chelsea Armstrong and, when you join the 'Cats in 2009, their field hockey program is in deep distress. It has not won a Big Ten title since 1994 and has not had a winning season since 1995. It has, in the first nine years of the current century, gone a miserable 55-111 overall and an even-worse 8-46 in conference play. A reclamation program is needed, that is clear, but you know none of this...

    "I had no background in collegiate field hockey at all. I had no idea who the powerhouses were, I had no idea which conferences were better. It wasn't really something I thought about coming over at all. I didn't really look into winning records or anything like that.

    "But even when I came over, it wasn't like I'd come over to a terrible program or anything like that. Obviously the facilities and everything are great. Tracey and Carla are amazing coaches. So it never felt to me like I played for a program that was in the (dumps), as you said. It never felt like that to me.

    "Obviously I've seen some growth within the team since I've been here. The main thing is the winning mentality was missing when I first came. I'd come from successful clubs. I'd come, Western Australia is a very successful powerhouse I guess you'd say.

    "I'd won medals in Western Australia within the Australian national competition (on the U-15, U-18 and U-21 levels).

    "The only thing that was missing was that winning mentality. It wasn't that the program was in a bad place. It's just that the mentality was missing and that happens when you have losing seasons over and over and over.

    "You forget how to win.

    "You could see that. We'd get down in games and everyone would kind of give up. They'd be like, "We're down now. We probably can't win. Let's just not try as hard."

    "Leadership-wise, I'm not very vocal. That's still something I have to work on, being more vocal. But I'd like to think how I trained and how I played was something people noticed and tried to feed off of.

    "Maybe not consciously. But I think, looking back, people may have looked to me as a leader early on.

    "Right away we were pretty successful. The non-conference season was pretty good, we won some good games. Then there were some games people pretty much expected us to lose against some tough competition. We struggled in the Big Ten still, which is something that's taken my whole four years here to improve.

    "That's obviously something Tracey's worked really hard at, to instill that winning mentality. It's taken four years and we're still working at it.

    "But this year I've noticed we've got it. We get down in a game, no one panics, we just keep playing how we need to play and we've managed to come out of a few sticky situations, which is different from previous years. In previous years, once we were down we were pretty much out.

    "It was the big games that seemed to get to people a lot. Pressure situations weren't so good. It was that same thing. We'd get down and everyone would kind of, you know. So I think we had the tools there early on to be successful. But it was mainly that mentality thing that needed to change and has taken four years to change.

    "But it has changed. It definitely has."

    ******

    You are Chelsea Armstrong, the centerpiece of the 'Cats nationally-ranked field hockey team. You are an All-American, your school's career scoring leader, just the ninth player in NCAA history to score over 100 goals, and you are something else as well. You are preparing to lead your team, which stands an impressive 16-3, into his weekend's Big Ten tourney in Iowa, where any game could be your last. . .

    "It's like an added pressure. "This is it. It's the last time." I think it's something I need to feed on a little more as a motivational factor.

    "I kind of keep forgetting that this is my last time around and that we could be one-and-done this week and BE DONE. That's a scary thought, and I think I need to try and feed off that and try to motivate the people around me.

    "All the seniors feel the same way and I think the rest of the team really wants to send us out on a good note. So, yeah, it's just an extra pressure, I guess, to try and keep the season alive as long as possible, to keep my career going for a few more games.

    "It's going to be awful once I'm done. I don't know what I'm going to do. So I'm trying to not think about it too much. I get a little sad otherwise."

    ******

    You are Chelsea Armstrong and, though you will be sad when the end does come, you will still be well-prepared to carry on. You, after all, already have a degree in economics and are busy now in graduate school and have a solid boyfriend named Hunter Bates, who just happens to play safety for the football 'Cats...

    "I'm looking for a job right now, trying to decide. People have asked me about coaching and things like that. But I really haven't made up my mind where I want to go with my career. But as an economics major, I'm looking into some finance-y sort of stuff.

    "At this stage I'm trying to stay in the States. I like it over here.

    "Football's a scary sport. There's some scary moments. It's different. It's different. It's harder to watch knowing that you can't do anything, that everything's out of your control. It's hard in that aspect. It's a scary sport to watch especially when you care about the person out there getting hit.

    "Playing, you just go out there and play the game. You're in control. I feel in control. You lose that control watching. When you're just up there watching, you can't tell him, "Don't run this way. Someone's going to hit you."

    "We talk. I'm always pressing him for details about what's going on on the team, and what the team coming up looks like. Things like that. And he's turned into quite the field hockey fan. Field hockey's a very, I won't say an obscure sport. But not many fans watch it. So he's had a lot to learn the last couple years.

     "He tries to stream all my games.

    "It's good. He knows what to say after tough losses. We know how to treat each other after we come off a bad loss or a bad game or something like that. It's good to have someone with the experience of playing collegiate athletics and knowing what kind of pressure I'm under. So, yeah. He's been a real safety blanket for me, I guess you'd say.

    "Yeah, I definitely try to be. You know when to give him some space, know what not to say. So it's good. I'm glad we've had these similar experiences. It's real nice having somebody who knows what it's like.

    "I actually think I'm pretty normal.

    "He's much more into video games than I am. I'm kind of terrible at video games.

    "Have you ever heard of Australian football, the Australian Football League? I actually bought a TV package that let me watch some of those games this year. So he saw me watching some Australian football games and I was a little more vocal. I get a little bit more upset viewing those games than I do watching normal NFL games.

    "So he saw a different side of me that day, that's for sure.

    "My team's the Fremantle Dockers. They're purple also, which is a strange coincidence. They lost in a final game and I was not happy.

    "It was an elimination game, and they were down-and-out. It was tough, tough.

    "It took me a little while to get over it. But, no, I'm always pleasant to live with."

    BLOG: Former NU Pitcher Wins World Series Ring

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    The San Francisco Giants finished off an improbable postseason run Sunday night by beating the Detroit Tigers in extra innings to sweep the World Series. The 4-3 victory in 10 innings at Detroit's Comerica Park marked the Giants second title in the past three years.

    The Giants faced elimination six times during the playoffs. They were down two games to none in the National League Division Series against the Cincinnati Reds but won the next three contests to advance. In the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Giants were down three games to one but managed to again win three straight to claim the best-of-seven series, 4-3.

    In the World Series, the flair for the dramatic was unnecessary. After a convincing 8-3 win in Game 1, San Francisco won both games two and three by scores of 2-0. On Sunday night, the Giants waited until extra innings to pull off the clinching win.

    A key piece to the pitching success of the Giants during the postseason was former Northwestern pitcher George Kontos. Coming out of the bullpen for San Francisco, Kontos saw action in eight postseason games, including one appearance in the World Series.

    Kontos was used most often in the NLDS against the Reds. He pitched 3.2 scoreless innings throughout four games, giving up just two hits. He appeared in three games against the Cardinals in the NLCS. During the World Series, he appeared during the Giants' 8-3 Game 1 win.

    Kontos was drafted by the New York Yankees in the fifth-round of the 2006 MLB draft after his third season at Northwestern. After a successful minor league stint, Kontos was called up to the big club in 2011; he pitched in seven games for the Yankees that year.

    Shortly before the start of the 2012 season, Kontos was traded to the Giants. He began the season with the Giants' Class AAA team, the Fresno Grizzlies, and in June, was called up to the big leagues for the rest of the season.

    Kontos earned his first career win in a relief of Barry Zito on Aug. 29 against the Houston Astros. Kontos finished the 2012 regular season with a 2-1 record and a 2.47 ERA.

    Kontos' younger brother, Chris, also played baseball for head coach Paul Stevens at Northwestern. He graduated last spring.

    The last Northwestern alum to appear in the World Series was J.A. Happ. He was drafted by the Phillies in 2004 and was on both of their World Series rosters in 2008 and 2009. The Phillies won the series in 2008 against the Tampa Bay Rays, but fell to the Yankees the following year.

    Perhaps the most recognizable face in professional baseball to come from Northwestern is New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi. As a player, Girardi made his major league debut in 1989 with the Chicago Cubs and, until his retirement in 2003, played for the Cubs, Colorado Rockies, Yankees, and Cardinals.

    In 2006, Girardi won the National League Manager of the Year award while at the helm of the Florida Marlins. In 2008, Girardi was offered the Yankees' managerial job and accepted. He won the World Series title with the team in 2009.


    By Carsten Parmenter

    Before the Bye Week, Time to Look Back

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    The 'Cats accepted the opening kickoff and, on their first play, ran an option left that ended with Venric Mark gaining four off a pitch from Kain Colter. Now Colter dropped and rolled right and missed Rashad Lawrence on a short out and then, on third down, he dropped again, avoided an Iowa blitz and scrambled for 18. "I thought he made some really good decisions today," Pat Fitzgerald would say after his team's 11-point win over the Hawkeyes. "There were some things that were either pushed up into his face or covered. Instead of forcing the ball today, I thought he made some really good decisions and saw some green grass and was able to take advantage of it."

    Three plays later, on another third down, he did that again and picked up 20, and here the 'Cats went to work pounding at the Hawkeye 31. First Colter gained a yard and then, on a burst up the middle, Mike Trumpy gained 17. Now Mark gained six over the left side and three up the middle and finally, on third-and-one from the five, Colter stuck the ball in Mark's belly, made his zone read, withdrew it and skittered left into the end zone. "When you're able to read somebody, it allows an extra blocker," Colter would say of that final play, which the 'Cats effectively used throughout this homecoming Saturday. "We don't have to block that guy. Technically the quarterback is going to block him with his decision. That helps us out a lot."

    Whatever It Takes

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    It has been an arduous month for 'Cat quarterback Trevor Siemian. He threw for 135 yards in their loss at Penn State; completed only one pass for four yards in their victory at Minnesota; and, last Saturday at home against Nebraska, connected on 42.8 percent of his 35 attempts for 116 yards. But Wednesday, after practice, he stood outside his team's locker room and said this when asked if his considerable confidence has been shaken. "No. No. I wouldn't say that. You can't (let that happen)," he said. "Obviously I haven't been lighting it up the last couple weeks. But I'm still confident. I know what I can do, I know what our receivers can do and I'm comfortable in the system. I think that gives us a chance to be pretty successful moving forward."

    So why the lack of success in October?

    "It comes down to me, Kain (Colter) and the receivers being able to win our one-on-ones," he said simply. "Win our one-on-ones. That's the biggest thing. People are going to put pressure on us. They're going to try to put their best guys on our best guys, and we've got to win. That's all."

    In the Words of Two Fitzgeralds...

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    * It was the novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald who noted, "The rich are different from us." It was the 'Cat coach Pat Fitzgerald (they're not related) who noted, "Football players and athletes are a lot different from fans."

    This was at his weekly Monday press conference, and here the subject was just how does a team get over a loss as enervating as the one suffered by his 'Cats Saturday against Nebraska. "As a competitor, you move on, you move on quickly. You know you've got to get back to work," he now continued, explicating his observation. "We're back at it this morning. Our fans can't get back at it again until Saturday, so it lingers a little bit more with them. Then the awesomeness of the 24-hour news cycle fans the flames of negativity or positivity, if that's a word.

    Skip Myslenski's Nebraska Primer

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    ALL ABOARD: Nebraska visits Ryan Field to challenge them on Saturday and looming in front of them too are mid-terms. Seven games are behind them now, but they are not yet finished with even half of their conference schedule. Just one blemish mars their work to this point, but they are still far removed from achieving those goals they have set for themselves. That is the reality confronting the 'Cats, who are now in the very belly of their schedule, and that is the reason -- all through this week -- Pat Fitzgerald has talked of the grind and emphasized the need to embrace it.

    Here is one way they have managed that. They have jumped on the Fun Train, the creation -- as we noted Wednesday -- of the defensive tackle Will Hampton. "You've got to fool yourself sometimes," senior defensive end Quentin Williams said when we mentioned that train to him, and then he explained.

    Skip Myslenski's Wednesday Check-Up

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    Checking in with. . .

    REDSHIRT FRESHMAN CORNER NICK VANHOOSE, who three Saturdays ago had a tough afternoon even as the 'Cats defeated Indiana. Afterward, in conversation, he said that it was his worst game mentally of the season, that he would soon be talking to his position coach Jerry Brown about his performance and that he was relishing the opportunity to redeem himself. "Yeah, I definitely feel I've done that," he more recently said to the last point. We were talking here days after he was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week for his work against Minnesota (which included breaking up three potential touchdown passes) and now he continued, "I've locked it in for the past two games a lot better with getting the coverages down. Mentally, I'm just going over things in my head a lot better."

    For the Wildcats, No Time To Review

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    * Truth be told, there was very little review of the 'Cats win over MInnesota at Pat Fitzgerald's regular Monday press conference. The focus, instead, was already on Tuesday's practice and the coming week of preparation and Nebraska's Saturday visit to Ryan Field. "Without a doubt," he declared, "tomorrow's practice is the biggest practice of the year. That's what I told the guys this morning. I believe you play like you prepare. We've put together some good practices. We have not put together a great week in all three phases since Indiana. So that's where my focus is right now. I think if we can do that, we'll be prepared for the opportunity on Saturday."

    Skip Myslenski's Minnesota Primer

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    BEEN THERE. LET'S NOT DO THAT: The linebacker David Nwabuisi is not only a much-experienced senior. He is also a captain, a leader, a ballast of this year's 'Cats, who now find themselves heading to Minnesota off their first defeat of the season. A fall ago that first defeat sent them spinning into a five-game losing streak and so here, with his stature in mind, we asked Nwabuisi just what he was doing to make sure a similar fate did not befall this team. "It's important to realize, one, you can't go back and change the result of that game. All you can do is push on forward," he began.

    Second City Offers First-Rate Ideas This Week

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    CIW_logo















    With Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art serving as the site of Wednesday's Chicago Ideas Week "Making of a Champion" panel discussion, it was fitting to kick off the event with a poignant quote from Pablo Picasso.

    Picasso's quote, part of an introductory video screened before the panel began, stated simply, "An idea is a point of departure and no more."

    Upon Further Review: Penn State

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    * Last year, in the wake of their first loss of the year (to Army in week three), the 'Cats were enveloped by a miasma and dropped four more in a row before emerging from their funk. Now, a fall later, they have just suffered their first loss of this season (on Saturday at Penn State) and here looming in front of them is a rigorous road test at 4-1 Minnesota. So, we wondered Monday, just how do they make sure they do not reprise the struggles that beset them a year ago.

    "It's all about just refocusing," answered senior defensive tackle Brian Arnfelt, who is one of their captains. "It's on our (list of) values. Respond. How do we respond? I don't think we necessarily took the right attitude last year. But I don't think with this year's group that's going to be an issue at all. I think we have a group of character guys who are willing to answer, who are willing to put in the work during the week, the film study, the practice, the reps, the grind, in order to get the results on Saturday. So I don't think that will be an issue...

    Northwestern SAAC Hosts 15th Annual Field Day

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    Northwestern's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) held its 15th annual Field Day Friday on the Wildcats' FieldTurf practice field, welcoming more than 150 area kids to meet and interact with some of their favorite NU student-athletes.

    Children from Family Focus, the McGaw YMCA and the Youth Organization Umbrella (Y.O.U.) visited campus for the afternoon. The 70-member YMCA group remained after Field Day to attend Northwestern's women's volleyball match against No. 1 Penn State at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

    All 19 Northwestern varsity programs hosted various stations consisting of activities relevant to their respective sports. Student-athletes either instructed the young fans on some of the intricacies of their skills or created fun games for the participants to play.

    Each child had the chance to spend time with multiple Wildcat athletic teams, getting the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of sports such as fencing, lacrosse, golf and soccer.
    The swimmers held a relay race at one station while hosting a land-based version of their training game "Sharks and Minnows" at another. The fencers showed the basics of their sport via very safe plastic weapons. Several kids really got into the football station, launching their 4-foot-tall frames into several non-travel squad members who served as tackling dummies.

    Other activities included taking golf, tennis and baseball swings with tennis balls, basketball on lowered hoops and soccer drills and relays. The young girl in the picture below tried her hand at the softball "speed pitch" station, eventually launching the ball 11 miles per hour!

    Pat Goss' Teacher of the Year Honor is Well-Earned

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    Last night, the Illinois PGA announced that our Director of Golf and head men's golf coach Pat Goss has been named the organization's Teacher of the Year for 2012. This is a prestigious and well-deserved honor for a man who previously was named one of Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers in America in 2007.

     

    While this award was decided well ahead of the start of the 2012-13 Northwestern men's and women's golf seasons (and the Ryder Cup held locally at Medinah last week), all three of those events provided clear-cut evidence of Goss' teaching prowess.

    BLOG: Northwestern To Host Fall Skills Clinic

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    Volleyball Waiver Get Acrobat Reader

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- The Northwestern Volleyball coaching staff is hosting their annual Fall Clinic on Monday, November 12 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. inside Welsh-Ryan Arena. Head coach Keylor Chan will be on hand, along with several assistant coaches, to give instruction to campers.

    The fun-filled clinic is for high school athletes looking to learn new techniques or improve upon their talents. The two-hour camp will be an exciting learning process with drills run by Northwestern coaches.

    All athletes in grades 8-12 are invited to the clinic. The cost of the camp is $20 for each athlete in attendance. Northwestern Volleyball asks that anyone interested in attending the clinic please RSVP to volleyball@northwestern.edu with your name, grade, school, email address, phone number and a parent's name.

    Please checks payable to Keylor Chan's Volleyball Camp and mail to:

    Wildcat Volleyball Clinic
    1501 Central Street
    Evanston, IL 60208

    The clinic is open to anyone limited only by age and number of campers. The waiver at the top of this page must be completed before participating in the clinic.

    For more information or if you have questions, please contact the Director of Volleyball Operations, Emily Carle at 847-467-2134 or volleyball@northwestern.edu.


    -- Carsten Parmenter

    Skip Myslenski's Penn State Primer

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    DEAR SANTA: The shame here is you cannot see Kain Colter's face. It is aglow, borderline beatific, reminiscent of that look worn by a boy as he opens his presents on Christmas morning. This is appropriate, really, since we are now discussing the offense the 'Cats unwrapped last Saturday against Indiana, that offense that found him once again multitasking. "There's a lot of different things we can do with it," he is saying, clearly excited about its myriad possibilities.

    "Really, you just saw me in the slot (against the Hoosiers), at one position and and (with) one personnel group. We could switch up the personnel group, who we have in the game, switch up where I'm going to line up, the plays that we run. There's a lot of things the coaches can do with that. Now, I don't really know exactly where it's going to go. I leave that up to Coach (Mick) McCall (the offensive coordinator) and the other offensive coaches, let them game-plan. But we can have some fun with it and I'm excited for it."

    Competition, Through The Eyes of A Coach

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    Competition is a theme that cuts constantly through this 'Cat football season. There is competition for starting roles. There is competition in hopes of building depth. There is competition with an eye on improvement. There is competition to find, as Pat Fitzgerald often says, the best 11. "Competition makes good players great and great players special," is another point he is fond of making.

    Guys have got to make plays or it's next man up. That is one more point he is perpetually stressing, but here is where the sword can get double-edged. If a player is worried about his job, if a player is worried that he must be perfect, if a player is so worried that he operates with one eye looking over his shoulder, he is not going to produce his best work. We made this point to Fitzgerald after a recent practice and then asked how he, as coach, can make sure this does not happen while keeping the necessary competition alive.

    Upon Further Review: Indiana

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    * Nick VanHoose did no dance and minced no words early Monday afternoon. He, instead, simply owned up. "I had a lot of mental mistakes and a couple coverage mistakes," the redshirt freshman corner said here, thinking back to his performance Saturday in the 'Cats win over Indiana. "This week was probably my worst game mentally. With the coverages, it was probably my worst game. But got it fixed today in film and I'll go talk about things to (defensive backs) Coach (Jerry) Brown later."