By Kalyn Kahler - Northwestern Athletic Communications
For the Wildcat teams busy practicing in Evanston this weekend, Hurricane Sandy seemed miles away. It was a different story for the Wildcat women's golf team, who met Sandy firsthand this past Saturday.
When the 'Cats traveled to Wilmington, N.C last Friday to compete in the Landfall Tradition tournament at the Jack Nicklaus Course at the Country Club of Landfall, they never expected to be playing directly into the torrential rain and winds of Hurricane Sandy.
"Five days before we left the weather was 80 and sunny. Everything looked great in the forecast but the hurricane just popped out of nowhere," says assistant coach Beth Miller.
The team played in winds of about 25 mph with gusts of 40 mph on Saturday. When the decision was made to stop play, the winds had escalated to 35 mph and gusts of 50 mph. The teams were pulled off the course as it flooded from the heavy rain of Hurricane Sandy.
The Landfall Tradition marks the first time the women's golf team has ever played in hurricane conditions. The 'Cats persevered through the blistering wind, and "if the course could have taken more water we would have kept playing," says Miller.
Each of the 17 teams competing in the Landfall Tradition made it out of Wilmington safely; though some chose to drive home instead of take the chance of flight cancellations.
The 'Cats stayed calm through the hurricane weather, and Miller says it was their parents at home who were the most nervous.
On Sunday the team ate lunch at a surf club on Wrightsville Beach so they could check out the massive 15-foot waves. Who ever said cats don't like water? The 'Cats were lucky that it was only the course that flooded in Wilmington. At the time, the threat of the hurricane wasn't severe, so many locals gathered at the beach with NU to watch the immense wall of waves caused by Sandy (see picture below).
Sandy wasn't the only famous name the Wildcats encountered during their trip to N.C. On their flight from Wilmington to Atlanta, sophomore Hana Lee was the first to notice the man sitting alone directly behind her. That man was Channing Tatum, popular actor, well known for his role in movies such as She's The Man and Step Up.
"Hana spotted him first and then they were all passing notes and whispering the rest of the flight," says Miller, who happened to be reading a magazine that featured Tatum.
The team was glad that the Notre Dame team chose to take a later flight home, leaving many empty seats on the plane, allowing Tatum to sit down right behind them.
The team spent the length of the flight brainstorming different plans to talk to Tatum, but nerves got in the way and in the end it was head coach Emily Fletcher who asked Tatum if he would take a picture with the team.
"He was so gracious and nice. It made a long day of traveling worth it as the girls were ecstatic!" says Fletcher.
The 'Cats experienced a memorable weekend beginning with an unlucky meeting with Hurricane Sandy and ended with fortuitous encounter with a celebrity.
Tatum wished the 'Cats the very best of luck with the rest of their season. The 'Cats will hang on to Tatum's blessing all winter; it might be just the luck they need to complete a successful season.