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    Moment No. 15: Swimming Records Fall

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    The 2012-13 academic year was a memorable one for Northwestern. Over the next several weeks, we will celebrate the conference championships, noteworthy wins and significant milestones that the Wildcats accumulated during the past year. Be sure to follow along at NUsports.com as we revisit our top 20 moments!

    Moment No. 15
    Date Feb. 21, 2013 and March 30, 2013
    Locations Minneapolis, Minn. | Indianapolis, Ind.
    Reynolds Recap Reynolds Shatters NU 50 Free Mark, Qualifies Second Overall For Finals
    Wilimovsky Recap Wilimovsky Breaks School Record Again at NCAA Meet
    Social Media @NUSwim   |  @NUSwimDive
    Top 20 Countdown Northwestern's Top 20 Moments of 2012-13 Countdown

    Two long-standing individual Northwestern school records fell in 2013, one each on the men's and women's side, and together they form our No. 15 moment of 2012-13 for Northwestern Athletics.

    First, senior women's sprinter Taylor Reynolds exploded for a 22.14 in the 50 freestyle during the preliminary heats of the 2013 Big Ten Championships to lower the previous Northwestern mark of 22.26 set by All-American Andrea Hupman in 2008. Reynolds would be seeded second overall for the finals of the event behind eventual champion Ivy Martin of Wisconsin.

    The 22.14 time for Reynolds qualified her for the 2013 NCAA Championships field and was part of a strong Big Ten Championships that also saw her pick up an All-Big Ten honor with a second-place result in the 100 freestyle.

    On the men's side, freshman Jordan Wilimovsky entered the NCAA Championships having already broken the school's record in the mile during the Big Ten Championships. His 15:03.07 at the conference meet punched his ticket to the NCAA field and took down a school mark that had not been touched in nearly a decade.

    Wilimovsky then went out and lowered it again on the final day of the NCAA meet, becoming the first Wildcat in program history to swim a sub 15:00.00 mile when he touched the wall in 14:58.80. "Jordan had a great swim today," head coach Jarod Schroeder said at the time. "Last year it only took 15:00.00 to score at the meet so we were hoping it would have been enough. His effort was still a great step forward."

    Wilimovsky went on to qualify for the United State National Team for the 2013 FINA World Championships in the 25K open water event with fourth-place finishes in both the 5K and 10K swims at the USA Swimming national championships meet.

    The 2012-13 academic year was a memorable one for Northwestern. Over the next several weeks, we will celebrate the conference championships, noteworthy wins and significant milestones that the Wildcats accumulated during the past year. Be sure to follow along at NUsports.com as we revisit our top 20 moments!

    Moment No. 17
    Date March 29, 2013
    Location Sharon J. Drysdale Field | Evanston, Ill.
    Original Story Amy Letourneau No-Hits Minnesota in NU Home Opener
    Video Video Highlights
    Social Media @NUSBCats   |  Northwestern Softball
    Top 20 Countdown Northwestern's Top 20 Moments of 2012-13 Countdown

    Northwestern sophomore ace Amy Letourneau harnessed the nasty stuff she had been dealing all season long in Northwestern's 2013 home opener March 29 against Minnesota, throwing the 45th no-hitter in Wildcats' history in a 6-2 win over the Gophers -- the first no-no of her career and the first of two she would throw in the space of one week.

    Watch Game Highlights

    Letourneau at times struggled to control her filthy repertoire, allowing 11 total base runners in the game on nine walks and two hit batsmen. She did allow two runs (only one earned) in the third inning, but recovered to hold Minnesota at bay the remainder of the game while racking up 11 strikeouts for her ninth double-digit K game of the season.

    The no-no was the first of Letourneau's career and the 45th in school history. It was the first since current junior Sammy Albanese no-hit Saint Mary's (Calif.) on March 22, 2011, in a five-inning contest and it was NU's first full seven-inning no-hitter since Lauren Delaney performed the feat against Cal State Fullerton on Feb. 12, 2010.

    Northwestern took the early lead in the game courtesy of second-inning RBI singles from Olivia Duehr and Kristin Scharkey. Minnesota would tie the contest in the third before NU did the rest of the scoring with three runs in the third and another in the fourth to cement the victory.

    Just one week later in the Friday opening game of a home series against Illinois, Letourneau again threw a no-hitter, this time fanning eight and walking the same in an 8-0 (5) victory. Letourneau is the ninth pitcher in Northwestern history to toss multiple no-hitters in her career.

    WATCH: Gov. Quinn's Proclamation

    WATCH: Gator Bowl Celebration Highlights

    While in town this morning to announce a $1 million Gigabit Grant to the City of Evanston, Illinois governor Pat Quinn also gave Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald a special proclamation declaring Friday, Jan. 18, "Northwestern Wildcat Football Day" in the state of Illinois.

    Purple Pride Abounds in Jacksonville

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    WATCH: Postcard from Jacksonville #6 | Gator Bowl Press Conference (Free)

    On the eve of a New Year and of the 2013 TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl, Northwestern and its tremendous fan base enjoyed a busy day in Jacksonville.


    * Monday morning presented the Wildcats with their first opportunity to step inside the site of their Gator Bowl competition and the home of the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars, EverBank Field. The north end zone in the 67,164-seat stadium already was filled with Northwestern purple, complete with the distinctive 'Northwestern stripe' featured in both Ryan Field end zones.

    NU donned their home purple jerseys and filed into the stands for a team picture, an annual tradition at each bowl destination. In what might be considered a break from tradition, however, the 'Cats announced Monday that they will sport special matte black helmets when they take the field tomorrow, similar to those worn twice during the regular season but with a new twist:


    * Following the quick trip to the stadium, most Wildcats returned to the hotel while seniors Brian Mulroe, Brian Arnfelt and David Nwabuisi joined head coach Pat Fitzgerald for the final Gator Bowl press conference. The quartet fielded questions from Chicago, Mississippi State and Jacksonville media, reflecting on their season, experiences this week and the significance of a potential win on New Year's Day.


    * The last public item on the agenda for the squad was the Coaches Luncheon at Jacksonville's Prime Osborn Convention Center, a chance to bring together both teams and their supporters to celebrate their seasons and selections to the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl. Northwestern's standout left tackle and two-time first-team Capital One Academic All-American Patrick Ward was honored by the bowl as a Scholar-Athlete Award recipient, while former Gator Bowl participants and longtime contributors to the sport of football Don Orr (referee) and Corky Rogers (high school football coaching legend) were inducted into the Gator Bowl Hall of Fame.

    As he has been known to do, Coach Fitzgerald fired up the crowd with his address to the group, giving special recognition to the wives of the Northwestern coaching staff for all they do to support the success of their husbands and the program at large.


    * As temperatures climbed into the upper 60's under sunny Jacksonville skies, Northwestern fans took to the streets in droves to watch the Gator Bowl parade. The route began at EverBank Field and covered the nearly three miles to the popular Jacksonville Landing location. The Northwestern University Marching Band made its first appearance of the week and rallied the NU faithful.

    Check back later today for more photos and tweets as well as a recap of the upcoming pep rally at Jacksonville Landing! Go 'Cats!

    Wildcats Take Timeout For a Good Cause

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    Two days before its TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl showdown against Mississippi State, several members of the Northwestern football team and spirit squad made time to make a difference in the Jacksonville community.

    Following a morning practice, the Wildcats and their counterparts from Starkville paid a visit to the Wolfson Children's Hospital in downtown Jacksonville to bring some excitement and holiday cheer to young people enduring a difficult time. It was obvious by the end of the 90-minute visit that both the 'Cats and the patients at Wolfson were greatly affected by their positive interactions.

    Representing the Wildcats were: WR Drew Moulton, SB Evan Watkins, LB Roderick Goodlow, OL Shane Mertz, P/PK Matt Micucci and DL Ifeadi Odenigbo.

     

    In each room, the Wildcats and spirit squad members managed to find a connection with the youngsters, chatting with them about their favorite sports and teams they root for, video games they play, foods they like to eat and other activities that make them smile. And of course, sometimes there is little need for conversation when a young person is taking in the presence of an imposing 6-foot-8 offensive lineman for the first time.

    * New Year's Eve Day will be a busy one for the Wildcats and Northwestern fans alike, with a slew of items on the agenda from morning till night. To kick it off, the entire team will head to EverBank Field for the first time in order to snap a team photo in the venue, home of the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars. After that, Pat Fitzgerald and his team captains meet the media for the final time before kickoff and then join the rest of the team at the Coaches Luncheon and Gator Bowl Hall of Fame induction.

    The afternoon slate features a lengthy parade featuring marching bands and spirit squad members from both schools as well as a Northwestern-only pep rally at the Jacksonville Landing. While many in the city and around the world will be staying up late to ring in the New Year, the Wildcats will be enduring their usual "Friday" routine of meetings, movies and final pre-game preparations.

    BLOG: 'Cats Cut Loose at Latitude 30

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    Latitude 30 Photo Gallery

    WATCH:Postcard from Jacksonville 12/27 | D. Nwabuisi Post-practice Interview | Q. Williams Post-practice Interview

    Pat Fitzgerald's Northwestern teams have gained a reputation for putting on a good show in each of their postseason bowl game destinations and, after Thursday night in Jacksonville, that reputation may soon extend to the pre-game festivities as much as to what goes on between the white lines.

    The Wildcats took advantage of the hospitality offered by Latitude 30, an entertainment complex in Jacksonville offering bowling, arcade games, food and, as the 'Cats found out, a karaoke stage. After a quick meal, the Wildcats grabbed the mike and didn't let go for the duration of their two-hour stay at the facility, offering impressive renditions of everything from Backstreet Boys' "I Want It That Way" to Justin Timberlake's "Gone" to Boyz II Men's "End of the Road" and even some "Sexual Healing" as performed by running back Tyris Jones. After building a strong audience at Latitude 30 over the course of the 15-plus songs they performed, the 'Cats finished strong by showing off their dance moves to "Put a Ring On It" and "Gangnam Style" before leaving the stage to a standing ovation.

    Check out the accompanying video and photo gallery (yes, visual evidence!) to get a taste of what the Wildcats brought to Jacksonville Thursday night.

    Also, special shoutout to senior defensive lineman Bo Cisek, who went where no Northwestern student-athlete has gone before by live-tweeting the event from @NU_Sports, the official Twitter handle of the Northwestern Athletics department. Bo did a great job capturing the energy of the evening. If you enjoyed his witticisms, give him a follow on his personal account, @DaDoze55.

    * Friday Practice Notes

    * Northwestern staged its second practice on site at Jacksonville University Friday, going full pads for the final time before next Tuesday's TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl against Mississippi State.

    * In attendance Friday was former Northwestern men's tennis great and World No. 4-ranked, Todd Martin. A native of Hinsdale, Ill., Martin reached the finals of the 1994 Australian Open as well as the 1999 U.S. Open and now resides in Florida.

    * Following practice, the entire Northwestern squad made the short trip to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, enjoying a beach picnic, volleyball and bags competitions, and a chance to rest under the sunny Florida skies. Temperatures today crept into the upper 60's -- a welcome setting considering the Northwestern campus in Evanston received its first significant snowfall of the winter over the last few days. Can't wait for all the Wildcats faithful to join the fun in sunny Jacksonville!

    The Gator Bowl, Local Perspective

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    WATCH: Postcard from Jacksonville Dec. 27

    Coach Fitz Post-practice Interview | K. Colter Post-practice Interview


    Our football team just wrapped up its first Bowl Week practice session down in Jacksonville and we have officially been on the ground in Gator Bowl country for more than 24 hours. So far the committee and our hosts have been tremendously welcoming and we've picked up a few bits of knowledge that we'd like to pass along to you in this blog!

    If you don't follow us on Twitter (@NU_Sports), do so! Tonight, we will be turning over the handle to one of our student-athletes as the team visits Latitude 30, which features activities like bowling, billiards and arcade games. Should be a fun night for the team!

    The B1GCats Have Arrived in Jacksonville!

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    Northwestern Football's official travel party left Evanston early Wednesday morning, Dec. 26, to travel to Jacksonville, Fla., for the official start of Gator Bowl Week. In each of the days leading up to the New Year's Day Gator Bowl, we'll have blogs in this space updating you on all of the activities our team and staff are enjoying.

    In addition, check out our new Gator Bowl Facebook Tab, now available on our page at Facebook.com/NorthwesternAthletics. In this tab, we will have an updated video from each day down in Jacksonville as well as a regularly updated "Photo of the Day" and the ability to read our most recent Gator Bowl blog entry. Keep up with the #B1GCats conversation on Twitter from Facebook, as well, with an embedded #B1GCats twitter feed.

    Men's Basketball News and Notes

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    Northwestern Names Team Captains

     

    Northwestern's three seniors who are in their fourth year with the program have been named the team's captains for the 2012-13 season. Drew Crawford, Reggie Hearn and Alex Marcotullio have been named the tri-captains. It's the first time since the 1993-94 season that the Wildcats have had three captains when Patrick Baldwin, Todd Leslie and Kevin Rankin each served in the role.

     

    Crawford, Hearn and Marcotullio have combined to lead Northwestern to 62 victories to date in their careers, a total that is closing in on the school record of 76 amassed by last year's senior class.

     

    "All three of those guys have dedicated themselves to moving the program forward," Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody said. "They've demonstrated their leadership abilities throughout the summer and fall and into the first month of the season. They've set a great example to all of our younger players."

     

     

    Moore Returns to Northwestern

     

    Fans may have noticed a familiar face has returned to the Northwestern bench this season. Craig Moore, a 2009 graduate of NU and one of the most prolific 3-point shooters in Big Ten history, is serving as a volunteer special assistant for the program.

     

    Moore played professionally in Romania and Holland following his collegiate career. He notched 320 3-point field goals during his time as a Wildcat, a total that ranks fifth in Big Ten history and first in Northwestern annals.

     

    In his current role with the program, he'll be responsible for assisting Director of Operations Joe Kennedy and Assistant Director of Operations Mike Pepple in various administrative tasks as well as video exchange with other schools.

     

    "I'm extremely grateful to Coach Carmody and to Northwestern for the opportunity to return to my alma mater," Moore said. "This was a terrific place to be as a student-athlete and I'm thrilled to be back and help out the program in any way possible."

     

     

    Shurna to Play Professionally in France

     

    Former Wildcat Michael Thompson will have a familiar competitor in France's top professional league this winter. John Shurna, a first-team All-Big Ten selection and an honorable mention Associated Press All-American last season, has signed on to play for SIG Strasbourg. Strasbourg is located in eastern France along the border of Germany.

     

    Shurna, Northwestern's all-time leading scorer, played in the NBA Summer League with the Atlanta Hawks' squad before participating in training camp with the New York Knicks.

     

    Thompson, a 2011 Northwestern grad, is playing for ASVEL in Villeurbanne, France. His teammates include recent Notre Dame standout Tim Abromaitis. The team is off to a 5-2 start and Thompson is averaging 12.0 points and 3.6 assists per contest.

     

     

    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

    Volleyball To Host Two Skills Clinics

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    The Northwestern Wildcats are off to their best start in 25 years and the team wants to share its skills with area girls 8th-grade-and-under this fall.

     

    The first in-season clinic will be held on Monday, Oct. 1 at 4:30 p.m. inside Welsh-Ryan Arena. Various drills will be conducted in an effort to teach fundamental volleyball skills to all participants. The clinic will last 90 minutes and will be followed by an autograph session. Participants who register for this clinic will receive three vouchers for free admission to any future Northwestern volleyball match (a $21 value).

     

    The second clinic will take place on Sunday, Oct. 21 after the Wildcats battle the Iowa Hawkeyes in an exciting Big Ten match. The match begins at 2 p.m. and the clinic will begin shortly upon its conclusion. Participants who register for this clinic will receive free admission to the match and two vouchers for free admission to any future match.

     

    Participants should arrive in athletic shoes and comfortable clothing and should be prepared to have a great time learning the game from the Wildcats.

     

    Registration for each clinic is $10 and includes vouchers, instruction, a water bottle and access to autograph sessions. Space is limited to 100 participants for each clinic, so sign-up now. For more information, or to register, please contact Joe Thuente by phone at 847-467-6862 or via e-mail at j-thuente@northwestern.edu.

    Fencers Compete In Prestigious International Event

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    Five Northwestern fencers, along with head coach Laurie Schiller and associate head coach Ed Kaihatsu, traveled overseas earlier this summer for the 2012 Korea-USA Elite Fencing Invitational (KUEFI).

    The competition, staged at SUNY Korea in Songdo International City, pitted Team Korea against Team USA against Team Korea over four spirited days of action. The team of United States All-Stars featured 83 fencers form 10 of the top fencing squads around the country, including the five Wildcats.

    A pair of 2012 NCAA Championship qualifiers, including All-American Kate Cavanaugh, represented NU in the epée competition. Cavanaugh was joined in the tournament by fellow NCAA qualifier Courtney Dumas and classmate Kendrick Mooney. Dumas recorded the highest finish of the trio, placing 10th. Cavanaugh finished 15th and Mooney checked in at 21st in the talented international field.

    After battling through injury for much of her first season at Northwestern, Katherine Kim came on strong at the end of the season and carried that success into a great showing in Korea. Kim finished 10th in the foil competition at the KUEFI.

    Team captain Alicia Gurrieri represented the Wildcats in the women's sabre event. Gurrieri placed 13th in the competition.

    Special thanks to Ed Kaihatsu, who documented the trip by taking hundreds of pictures. For a small sample of the experience, visit the photo gallery below.

    KUEFI Photo Gallery

    Northwestern Launches Redesigned NUsports.com

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    Website debuts are coming fast and furious this week from Northwestern! On the heels of the groundbreaking Social Media Hub for our football program, TheWildcatWay.com, today we are launching a refreshed and redesigned NUsports.com in conjunction with our web hosts, CBS Interactive.

     

    We recently extended our relationship with the CBS College Sports Network, which provides a website redesign as part of that agreement. Northwestern has had a longstanding relationship with CBS dating to the 1990s; this will be our fifth redesign in the last 10 years. For fun, scroll down to the bottom of this post to see the way NUsports.com has looked over the years courtesy of the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. My, how we've grown up!

     


    We are excited to unveil our 2012 Twitter hashtag for Northwestern Football and all of our 19 varsity sports programs over the coming academic school year: #B1GCats.

     

    Why #B1GCats? We love the way it channels both our Chicago's Big Ten Team brand and our membership in the "B1G" Conference. While the Wildcat is one of the most popular nicknames in collegiate athletics, we truly are the only #B1GCats. It's also shorter than #Northwestern--we love what our school name stands for, but it was not made for a 140-character world.

     

    In the realm of the B1G, we also are excited about the way our hashtag complements the Big Ten's stable of Twitter accounts. The #B1GCats play @B1GFootball.

     

    #B1GCats will be our official hashtag across all sports in 2012-13, and we still will use #Northwestern as well. The #Northwestern #B1GCats open the season at Syracuse at 11 a.m. CT Saturday. Make sure you use the hashtag for the best chance of inclusion in our @Storify social media recap after the game!

     

    Help us welcome the #B1GCats hashtag into our Twitter family by using it today in a clever and creative tweet. We'll pick one of our favorites and award an @UnderArmour purple heatgear t-shirt to its author!

     

     

    In the early hours of August 6, 2012, a car-sized rover called Curiosity landed on Mars in the culmination of a 254-day, 350-million mile journey. The much-celebrated and nerve wracking landing captured the nation's fascination before Curiosity began its scheduled two year mission of studying the climate and geology of Mars. One former Northwestern student-athlete stayed up late to watch the landing live for a very good reason: he played a role in designing part of the Curiosity Rover.

    BLOG: Sunday Postcard from Camp Kenosha

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    For the 21st consecutive year, Northwestern Football has moved its training camp from the comforts and familiarity of campus life in Evanston to a football-only environment in Kenosha, Wis. The Wildcats arrived at their new home, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, late Saturday evening before enjoying their first day off the practice field since camp begin last Monday.

    Big Ten Football Media Day Afternoon Update

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    Fresh from the conclusion of the first day of Big Ten Football Media Day Thursday at the Hyatt McCormick in Chicago, here is your afternoon update.

    Pat Fitzgerald took the stage right at noon today to address the print media, covering several topics. He talked at length about the team's cumulative GPA of 3.04 from last year and about Northwestern having the best APR score in Division I FBS football. Combined with four-consecutive bowl berths, NU's combination of academics and athletics currently are unmatched at any level in the nation.

    Big Ten Football Media Day Morning Update

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    We're down here at the 2012 Big Ten Football Media Day, kicking off the season with Coach Fitz and our three player representatives: junior quarterback Kain Colter, senior offensive lineman Brian Mulroe and senior linebacker David Nwabuisi.

     

    Our rotation begins at 11:20 when the three players meet with BTN, CBS and ESPN. Coach Fitz makes his first appearance at noon CT to address the assembled print media from the main podium; that 15-minute session will be aired live on BTN and possibly ESPNU. Following those sessions, the NU contingent will begin the local TV rotation at 12:30 p.m. CT. In that room, players and coaches sit for 15 minutes at each of five different podiums where media are assembled, rotating around the room to greet all five groups.

     

    A couple of notes before we begin:

     

    * Earlier this morning, we released our new 2012 Under Armour football jerseys. We will have artwork on hand for the media and are scheduled to have a physical jersey to display, as well.


    * More media registered for this year's Big Ten Media Day than ever before, surpassing last season's record-breaking total.

     

    * Northwestern student-radio WNUR 89.3 FM is here and will be broadcasting live from 2-4 p.m. CT. Several NU players are scheduled to join them in the 2 p.m. hour.

     

    * For the first time this year, players and coaches will meet in a dedicated room with ESPN.com to film video interviews and pieces for the web. Sirius/XM also is part of the main rotation in the local TV room. Coach Fitz is scheduled tape an interview on Sirius/XM College Sports Nation (channel 91) at 1:45 p.m. CT.

     

    * The three players arrived from campus around 10 a.m., using a staff hotel room to meticulously get dressed. As Nwabuisi ironed his purple shirt, the trio proclaimed they easily would be "the best dressed players here." Lots of pride in representing Northwestern!

     

    For more updates as the day rolls along, stick to @NU_Sports on Twitter and this blog.

    Hines, Riley Set the Olympic Stage for Herbert

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    By now you are probably well aware that Northwestern graduate Jake Herbert will represent the United States at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Did you know that Jake is not the first Northwestern wrestler to become a U.S. Olympian? Two others competed at the games and won Olympic medals, but Herbert looks to become the first Wildcat to bring home gold.

    You have to go all the way back to 1924 to find the first NU wrestling Olympian, Bryan Hines. According to his Northwestern Athletic Hall of Fame bio, Hines wrestled with a sprained ankle in Paris, but still managed to win a bronze medal in the men's bantamweight freestyle division. After the Olympics, Hines returned to Evanston and coached Northwestern during the 1926 season.

    John ("Jack") Riley came the closest to a gold medal at the Los Angeles games in 1932. A heavyweight freestyle wrestler, Riley made it all the way to the finals where he faced the returning Olympic heavyweight gold medalist, Johan Richthoff of Sweden. Riley ended up taking silver as Richthoff won his second gold medal.

    Northwestern head coach Drew Pariano recently met with Riley's son, John, and he shared some historical photos of his father from around the time of the 1932 Olympics.

    Both of the photos in this blog are of Riley and the one at the top is of him standing outside the Olympic Village during the 1932 games. InterMat did a special story on the 1932 U.S. wrestling team prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympics and noted that Los Angeles was the first venue to feature an Olympic Village.

    Riley also was an All-American tackle on the Northwestern football team and did not take up wrestling until junior year. His late start did not matter, as he was a two-time NCAA Champion at heavyweight (1931, 1932) and 1931 Big Ten Champion.

    Be sure to tune into the 2012 Summer Olympics on Saturday, August 11, to see if Jake Herbert can add another medal to the Northwestern wrestling program's collection!

    What the Future Holds

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    EVANSTON -- One week ago Friday more than 100 Northwestern student-athletes bid farewell to the university armed with the tools to head out into a successful life after college.

     

    Many Wildcats will scatter to every corner of the country and the seniors from the fencing team are no exception. Kerry Bickford, Annelise Eeman, Rebecca Grohman, Chloe McGuffin, Devynn Patterson and Camille Provencal starred together on the strips for four years and the sextet also added scores of honors in the classroom. All six fencers were recently named Academic All-Big Ten honorees.

     

    Bickford, along with swimming's Shelby Johnson and Tobias Reitz from men's tennis, claimed the Northwestern Director's Award for maintaining the highest GPA among all student-athletes. Patterson, along with men's golfer Sam Chien, was a recipient of the Big Ten Outstanding Sportsmanship Award.

     

    Each of the Wildcats will move on to the "real world" soon. Here are their plans for the future in their own words:

     

    Kerry Bickford - Art History and English:

    "After graduation, I will be spending the summer interning for the Prints and Drawings Department at the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as working for the Northwestern Summer Fencing Clinics. In the fall, I hope to pursue a job in museum or gallery work, and eventually plan to apply to graduate school to study Art History. I'm very excited to learn more about my field and to start working toward my ultimate goal of becoming a curator."

     

    Annelise Eeman - History and Religious Studies:

    "This summer I'm interning at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Headquarters in Des Plaines, Ill. Come September, I'll be back in Minnesota, enrolling at Luther Seminary to work on my Master of Arts in Systematic Theology. The plan right now is to work on getting my doctorate to teach, and maybe learning how to coach some fencing locally."

     

    Rebecca Grohman - Sociology and Science in Human Culture:

    "After graduation I am interested in pursuing clinical research before applying to medical school. I am looking forward to working closely with both patients and physicians to learn about different specialties, further my clinical experience and to better prepare me for a career in medicine!"

     

    Chloe McGuffin - Mechanical Engineering:

    "After graduation I will be joining Boeing's commercial aircraft division as a Payloads Engineer. I will be working on the 747 line of aircraft in the Seattle area. I look forward to putting all the skills and knowledge I have gained at Northwestern into practice to improve the experience of air travelers worldwide."


    Devynn Patterson - Learning and Organizational Change:

    "After graduation I will be joining Teach For America as a 2012 Corps Member in the Bay Area! I have been assigned to teach either elementary school or middle school in the South Bay, which is comprised of San Jose, Mountain View and the surrounding areas. I am very excited to begin what will be an eye-opening two-year commitment to help close the nation's educational achievement gap. I look forward to continue working with kids and becoming a teacher!"

     

    Camille Provencal-Dayle - Political Science:

    "After graduation I will be joining Devynn Patterson as a Teach For America 2012 Corps Member in Greater New Orleans. I look forward to teaching secondary math, a subject youth in the United States continue to falling behind in comparison to their international peers. My experience on the Northwestern Fencing team has given me the tools to understand how to motivate and challenge others, as well as learn to be challenged. I am excited to apply skills gained both on the strip and in the classroom to my future students."

    Vote for Northwestern Wrestling!

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    Vote for Northwestern on the NWCA Facebook Page

    Northwestern wrestling needs your vote! The 'Cats have submitted three videos from the 2011-12 season to the National Wrestling Coaches Association "Best of Brand" contest and your votes count to help determine which videos move on to the next round.

    NU's three videos are submitted under the Pure Entertainment category, which is described as videos created to entertain and engage fans. Created by Northwestern student (now alum), Stephen Boyle, the three videos fans can vote on are his feature on team co-captain and two-time All-American Jason Welch, a video on two-time Northwestern NCAA champion Jake Herbert highlighting his weekend at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials which culminated with Herbert earning a spot on Team USA and a behind the scenes look at the team's trip to West Lafayette, Ind., for the 2012 Big Ten Championships.

    The fan vote is one component of determining which videos become finalists for the Pure Entertainment category. To vote, visit the NWCA Facebook page and click the "Like" button by the Northwestern videos.

    Since there were an overwhelming number of videos submitted from throughout the wrestling community, you may have to scroll down and click the "See More Recent Stories" link to view the NU videos.

    Voting ends at 5 p.m. Friday so vote now for all three Northwestern videos and tell your friends!

    Kevin Schneider














    UPDATE! Today is Sept. 19, and it is Kevin's birthday! Over the three months since we posted this blog entry, cards, letters and boxes have been rolling in nearly every day. Thanks to hundreds of our fellow universities, professional sports organizations both major and minor and contributions from individual fans and collectors, we were able to give Kevin literally thousands of cards, promotional items and memorabilia today. Check out this video below to see how it went!




















    We in Northwestern Athletics have a friend we want to introduce to you. His name is Kevin Schneider, and you can't miss him at our games.

     

    Kevin is a 35-year-old graduate of Evanston Township High School and has worked at the Dominick's grocery store on Green Bay Road just north of our athletic offices for 17 years. He's a sports fanatic, is active in the Evanston and Chicago communities and has one of the biggest hearts we've ever experienced. He also has a developmental disability, which makes him all the more -- as he would say -- "amazing."

     

    Kevin has a couple of passions in life that he shares with us, in particular his love of all 19 of our NU varsity sports teams and his schedule card collection from teams across the country. We thank our season ticket holders and boosters in a myriad of ways, and we want to extend the same thank you to Kevin in a way that's unique and special by launching "Schedule Cards for Kevin." We are asking our alumni, fans, family and fellow athletic programs to drop a schedule card in the mail to us so that we can make Kevin's collection as big as the heart he shares daily with our coaches, student-athletes and staff. Continue reading for the details and to get to know Kevin a little bit better!

    Soccer Returns to Lakeside Field Saturday

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    It's not officially Northwestern soccer season yet but there will be a match held at Lakeside Field Saturday. The Chicago Red Stars, which is a women's soccer team from the WPSL Elite League, will host two games at the home site of Chicago's Big Ten Team, beginning with this weekend's 6 p.m. match against the NE Mutiny. The Red Stars then return to Lakeside Field at 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 7 to host the Philadelphia Fever. This season, the Red Stars are foregoing one specific home venue as field turf renovations will be ongoing this summer at the at the Benedictine University soccer field.

    Sophomore midfielder Niki Sebo is part of the Red Stars roster but will not be competing at Lakeside Field Saturday. Instead, Sebo and a number of her Red Star teammates will be in Fort Wayne, Ind., playing in the US Open Cup. If the group makes it out of their regional, Sebo and her teammates would play in the national finals of the US Open Cup, which takes place July 20-22 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill.

    Northwestern soccer fans can potentially watch Sebo when the Red Stars return to Lakeside Field on July 7.

    So far this season, the Red Stars have been unstoppable and bring an undefeated 5-0-0 mark into Saturday's game. Chicago is the only undefeated team in the league, but is currently second in the WPSL Elite standings. The Boston Breakers lead the eight-team league with 18 points (15 for the Red Stars) and have a 6-1-0 record.

    For more information on the Chicago Red Stars, visit www.chicagoredstars.net

    Former Northwestern baseball players are enjoying solid starts to their respective 2012 professional seasons.

     

    Right-handed pitcher George Kontos, who competed for the Wildcats from 2004-06, got the call up from Triple-A Fresno to the San Francisco Giants over the weekend and tossed one scoreless inning with a strikeout in his National League debut against the Texas Rangers on Sunday. Kontos was a September call-up for the New York Yankees last season, making seven appearances. It appeared that Kontos might make the Yankees' Opening Day roster this season, but he was traded to the Giants on April 4. He posted stellar numbers at Triple-A prior to his promotion, notching a 2-0 record with a 1.71 ERA in 23 appearances, including allowing only one earned run over his last 20 innings for the Fresno Grizzlies.

     

    Kontos is joined in the Majors by left-handed starting pitcher J.A. Happ of the Houston Astros. After struggling last season on a last-place team, Happ has gotten back on track in 2012 as he won four of his first seven decisions. Even though he has lost his last three decisions, he has recorded 23 strikeouts in 18 innings pitched over his last three starts, including fanning 10 over 6.1 innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers May 27. In consecutive starts that resulted in wins against the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs May 17 and 22, respectively, Happ allowed only one earned run over a combined 12 innings.

     

    The Wildcat who is currently the closest to the Big Leagues is outfielder Jake Goebbert who was promoted to the Triple-A Oklahoma City RedHawks in the Astros organization. He notched a pinch-hit double and scored a run in his RedHawks' debut Saturday evening. Goebbert was batting .279 with 12 doubles, four triples, four home runs and 29 RBI for the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks at the time of his promotion. He also appeared in 31 games at Triple-A with the RedHawks a year ago.

     

    Another former 'Cat who recently jumped up a level is left-handed pitcher Eric Jokisch who is currently with the Double-A Tennessee Smokies in the Chicago Cubs' organization. The promotion hasn't slowed down the 2008 Big Ten Freshman of the Year as he is a stellar 3-0 with a 1.40 ERA in four starts with the Smokies, while limiting opposing hitters to a .116 batting average. In his lone no-decision, Jokisch allowed only one hit over 6.1 innings on June 5. In his most recent start on Sunday, Jokisch surrendered just three hits and one run over 7.1 innings in a 4-2 win. Prior to moving up to Double-A, he was 3-4 with a 3.48 ERA for the High-A Daytona Cubs.

     

    Jokisch's catcher for the Daytona Cubs was his former Northwestern backstop, Chad Noble. Noble has been catching every other day as of late and has appeared in 37 games this season. He has a .177 batting average with four doubles and 14 RBI.

     

    Also at High-A is right-handed pitcher Bo Schultz who is with the Visalia Rawhide in the Arizona Diamondbacks' organization. Schultz got his 2012 campaign off to a terrific start as the team's closer. A recent string of four tough appearances have skewed his season numbers as he currently has a 2-1 record with a 5.76 ERA and nine saves. He has recorded 28 strikeouts in 25 innings pitched while allowing only six walks.

     

    The most recent Wildcat currently in the Minors is 2011 graduate Chris Lashmet. The third baseman is batting .240 with four doubles, three triples and 10 RBI in 41 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates' Class-A affiliate West Virginia Power. Lashmet got his season off to a hot start, batting .308 in 12 games in the month of April.

     

    The group is soon to be joined by 2012 Northwestern graduate Geoff Rowan who was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays in last week's MLB First-Year Player Draft.

     

     

    Northwestern's Department of Athletics staff took a day out of the office Friday, June 8, to volunteer at five different locations around the Evanston and Skokie communities. While the Wildcat student-athletes spend many hours of their free time volunteering across the Chicagoland area, rare is the opportunity for our staff to shut down and make similar contributions. More than 100 NU staff gave their time Friday morning -- find out more about each place we went after the jump!


    There they were, side-by-side on the warning track dirt behind home plate at the Chicago White Sox' U.S. Cellular Field -- perhaps an unlikely locale but as good a spot as any to publically display all seven of Northwestern's NCAA Women's Lacrosse Championship trophies together for the first time.

    The sight was enough to catch the attention of any media member, groundskeeper or passerby at field level, even for many of the several hundred Sox fans taking a pre-game stroll on the field as part of a marketing promotion who stopped to offer their congratulations or snap a quick picture with the national champions.

    Watch: NU at the Ballpark | Watch: NU On-Campus Celebration |
    Watch: NU at Evanston City Council

    It was just one memorable moment for the NU women's lacrosse team in what was a bit of a whirlwind week, during which the Wildcats shared their 2012 national championship trophy (and in some cases all seven) with their fans in the Northwestern, Evanston and Chicago communities.

    New York State of Mind

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    Jake Herbert and the 2012 U.S. Olympic freestyle wrestling team are taking over the Big Apple this week. The group is in NYC for Thursday's Beat the Streets Gala, which features a dual meet against Russia right in the heart of the city in Times Square.

    Yes, that's right, they will be putting a mat down in the middle of Times Square. It will be hard to miss Thursday's match as it also will air on the largest single-faced LED screen in Times Square.

    Unfortunately, Jake will not be competing in Thursday's match but that doesn't mean he's left out of all of the fun. On Tuesday, Herbert and the rest of his Olympic teammates and coaches were invited to Yankee Stadium for the Yankees' game against Tampa Bay.

    The team arrived early via the subway and hung out on the field during batting practice. A greeting awaited members of Team USA on the outfield video board and they also had the chance to meet a number of Yankees. Jake tweeted a few photos Tuesday, including one with Yankee centerfielder Curtis Granderson, in the background (see below).

    Fans can watch Thursday's USA vs. Russia dual via a live webstream on Universal Sports (www.universalsports.com), beginning at 5 p.m. CT. The NBC crew of Jason Knapp and Olympic champion Jeff Blatnick will be on the call.

    Jake Herbert at Yankee Stadium Jake Herbert at Yankee Stadium

    By Michael Black, Athletic Communications


    "It was an art and act I came to perfect. It was part of my armory. I felt if my opponent didn't know what I was thinking then I was invincible."

    - Bjorn Borg

     

    At the conclusion of its inaugural year as a varsity program in 1976, Northwestern's women's tennis team held a rather humble record of three wins and four losses. It was not the most successful era in Wildcat athletics history, and head coach June Booth's squad appeared to be headed on a path of ordinariness.

     

    But that hardly lasted through the offseason.

     

    The next spring, the program's second on the map, Booth led her team to a remarkable 12-2 record, qualifying for its first postseason berth in the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women's (AIAW) 24-team tournament.

     

    Whether she knew it or not, Booth set in motion the start of a program that would be a formidable force in the Big Ten -- which began sponsoring women's tennis after the 1981 season -- and on a national scale.

     

    It all started with the right frame of mind. A winning attitude.

     

    "What bothered me when I came to Northwestern," Booth said to Sports Illustrated's Jerry Kirshenbaum in October 1978, "was that some of the men's coaches seemed to expect to lose. We women came in with a positive attitude. We've gone after intelligent, career-oriented women who don't want to drown in a big school."

     

    Booth would leave Northwestern after the 1979 season, but the women's program had only begun to perfect the finely crafted art of winning.

     

    ***

     

    "It's difficult for most people to imagine the creative process in tennis. Seemingly it's just an athletic matter of hitting the ball consistently well within the boundaries of the court. That analysis is just as specious as thinking that the difficulty in portraying King Lear on stage is learning all the lines."  - Virginia Wade

     

    Through its first 37 years of existence, the women's tennis program has had 33 winning seasons under just four head coaches -- an indicative sign of its strength, stability and endurance.

     

    Beginning in her third year at the helm, Sandy Stap Clifton, who took over for Booth in 1980, led the team to six-consecutive top-10 finishes nationally, including two years in the top-5. NU enjoyed the success under Stap Clifton that it knew it could manage from day one.

     

    But with the peaks, come the valleys; and it is a telling sign of accomplishment when a program's "valley" would include a mere three seasons under .500 in a span of 11 years.

     

    Only twice -- in 1993 and 1997 with fourth-place conference finishes -- have the 'Cats ended the year outside the top three in the Big Ten race. Following that 1993 season, under fifth-year head coach Lisa Fortman, NU would finish with a 17-3 record, ranked 13th in the nation in the inaugural Intercollegiate Tennis Association poll in 1994.

     

    The struggles -- if you can even justify using that term -- lasted only moments in the grand scheme of time.

     

    ***

     

    "I'd like to imagine that in order to beat me, a person would have to play almost perfect tennis." - Venus Williams

     

    The stage was set for Claire Pollard in 1999 when she took the reigns of a program that finished with a 24-24 record over its previous two years. It was proven that the women could win and bring home regional recognition, but the 'Cats would need a dynamic leader to be able to consistently win on the national scene and bring conference championships back to Evanston.

     

    Pollard had the credentials. The Surrey, England, native had a remarkable career at Mississippi State University where she and her doubles partner, current Wildcat associate head coach Jackie Holden, won back-to-back Southeastern Conference championships and the 1989 NCAA Doubles Championship.

     

    Pollard had the attitude. She wanted her girls to shine both on and off the court.

     

    "When I first came to Northwestern," Pollard says, "the girls were focused primarily on academics over athletics. I strove to combine them so they didn't have to choose. I wanted to provide them with the ability to excel at both."

     

    Pollard produced results. From 1999 to 2009, she fashioned together a string of 11 consecutive Big Ten Championships -- one of the top-three streaks by any women's athletic program in conference history. With Sunday's win, Pollard clinched her 12th and the program's 14th outright Big Ten Championship.

     

    The string includes a run during which she coached NU to several program-firsts including a No. 1 national ranking in three-straight years, back-to-back No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Championships and consecutive ITA National Indoor Team championships in 2009 and 2010. She was the 2008 ITA National Coach of the Year, is a four-time ITA Midwest Region Coach of the Year honoree and a five-time Big Ten Coach of the Year, winning the award consecutively in 2008 and 2009.

     

    On top of that, every year Pollard has been in Evanston, her team has brought home the Big Ten Tournament title -- this year could mark the 14th-straight. Only Stanford (21), UIC (15) and Duke (14) have posted longer conference championship streaks in women's tennis, but no single coach has a longer championship or tournament streak than does Pollard.

     

    Pollard's sequence of conference and tournament titles becomes even more impressive when compared to some of the coaching greats across all sports.

     

    Outside of the Big Ten, John Wooden, who famously guided UCLA to nine-consecutive NCAA Championships in men's basketball from 1966-75, produced a total of 21 Pacific Coast/Pacific-8 Conference championships. Bear Bryant, the face of Alabama football, directed his teams to 13 SEC titles from 1961-81.

     

    Inside the conference walls, Dan Gable, Iowa's heralded wrestling coach, holds 25 of the Hawkeyes' 30 conference wrestling titles. James "Doc" Counsilman, Indiana's men's swimming and diving head coach from 1959-90, has all 23 of the Hoosiers' Big Ten titles to his name, with 20 of them coming in consecutive years.

     

    As arguably the most prominent women's collegiate sport, basketball has two premier coaches to boast: the University of Connecticut's Geno Auriemma and the University of Tennessee's recently retired Pat Summitt. Auriemma has accumulated 19 regular season and 18 Big East Conference championships, including 11 in a row, and Summitt led her teams to 16 regular season and SEC tournament titles, with six in succession.

     

    There is no doubt that Pollard's stretch of conference dominance at Northwestern should be measured right up with the greatest in any sport.

     

    ***

     

    "Tennis is what I do and is part of who I am." - Jennifer Capriati

     

    Along the way, Pollard has mentored her players into champions on and off the court. Under her tutelage, Northwestern has had a bevy of personal accomplishments, and the numbers speak for themselves.

     

    Since 1999, 52 players have earned Academic All-Big Ten honors. Thirty-nine have garnered All-Big Ten nods. There have been six Big Ten Freshman of the Year and eight Big Ten Player of the Year award winners. Eighteen Wildcats have received All-America distinction, and there have been 13 doubles teams and 14 singles players who have qualified for the NCAA championships.

     

    ***

     

    "What is the single most important quality in a tennis champion? I would have to say desire ... " - John McEnroe

     

    From its inception as a varsity-level sport, Northwestern's women's tennis program has established itself as a contender with an air of confidence. Its four coaches provided direction and instilled a sense of desire for winning, and winning the right way.

     

    It is ingrained in all 19 of Northwestern's athletic programs to highlight a balance of family, academics and athletics, and there is no doubt that the women's tennis program exemplifies these ideals to the highest extent.

     

    Beginning with its first serve in 1976, the heralded program, led by its coaches and scores of successful student-athletes who have graced the campus courts, has been one of dignity and accomplishment built on the desire so critical to being a part of a championship contender.

    Northwestern Athletics Volunteers to Feed Thousands

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    Check out a photo gallery from the Whole Foods Parking Lot!

    By Jocelyn Vinoya Serranilla

    The parking lot of Whole Foods in Northbrook, Ill., became an unlikely source of spring workouts for fellow Northwestern Wildcats student-athletes Tim Weak and Dannielle Diamant as they gripped, grabbed and lifted 40-pound boxes of whole chicken fryers and leg quarters while volunteering for a community outreach project.

    BLOG: A Look Back at NCAA's

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    Northwestern had a successful conclusion to the 2011-12 wrestling season, placing in the top 10 and crowning two All-Americans at the 2012 NCAA Wrestling Championships. Below is a list of links to various articles, photo galleries and videos detailing NU's three days in St. Louis.

     


    On Tuesday, March 20, after Northwestern softball run-ruled Massachusetts and Hartford during its Spring Break 2012 trip to Tampa and Clearwater, Fla., the Wildcats headed to George M. Steinbrenner Stadium to catch a New York Yankees spring training game and meet Yankees manager Joe Girardi.

    Northwestern students took to the dance floor over the weekend for Dance Marathon 2012 benefiting The Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation, and NU Athletics was proud to play a bigger role than ever in helping the dancers raise more than $1 million for the second-consecutive year.

     

    Morton Schapiro Talks College Sports on WBEZ

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    Story by Kalyn Kahler

    Nebraska

    In an era of change in college athletics, Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro joined ESPN.com senior writer Lester Munson Thursday to speak about the role of college sports and the challenges Northwestern faces as a premiere academic university competing at a high level on the "Afternoon Shift" of WBEZ, Chicago's public radio station.

    Listen to the interview on WBEZ.org

    The discussion's jumping-off point was Northwestern's own investments in athletics, particularly as it relates to its ongoing large-scale marketing campaign and the recent issuing of two 10-year contracts, namely those of athletic director Jim Phillips and head football coach Pat Fitzgerald.

    Shurna Prepares to Join Elite Company

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    Over the last half-century, just three men have been able to claim the title of the leading scorer in the history of the Northwestern men's basketball program.

     

    Back in the era when freshmen weren't eligible to compete on the varsity team, Jim Burns surpassed Joe Ruklick late in his senior season of 1966-67. Burns completed his three-year varsity career with 1,368 points in 70 games played. The total out-distanced Ruklick's mark of 1,315 points which took him 66 games to amass from 1957-59.

     

    Both Burns and Ruklick were prolific scorers prior to the advent of the 3-point line. The pair scored in different ways as Ruklick was a 6-foot-9 center who did most of his work in the post, while Burns was a 6-foot-4 guard. Ruklick earned All-America honors as a junior in 1958, while Burns earned the accolade following his senior year.

     

    Each of them averaged over 17 points per game in each of their three seasons in a Northwestern uniform. To this day, Ruklick is still NU's career leader in scoring average at an impressive norm of 19.9 points per game, just ahead of Dale Kelly (1968-70) who averaged 19.8 points per contest. Burns ranks third in Wildcat history with a career average of 19.5 points per game.

     

    Ruklick's top single-game effort came in the final game of his junior year when on March 8, 1958 he posted a then-school-record 40 points, making 17 of 26 field goal attempts in an 88-72 win over Illinois. Burns notched a personal-best 38 points in the penultimate game of his junior year on March 5, 1966 in a 105-92 shootout loss at Michigan. Ironically, though, he wasn't the game's high scorer as Cazzie Russell set a Michigan record that still stands with 48 points in the contest.

     

    Nine years after Burns earned the top spot on NU's career scoring list, 6-foot guard and Zion, Ill., native Billy McKinney made the mark his own. In the final home game of his junior year during the 1975-76 season, McKinney tied Burns with 20 points against top-ranked Indiana. He would post the record-breaking points on March 6 at Michigan when he netted the first basket of the game 33 seconds in the contest, though the Wildcats would go on to drop a close 80-77 decision to the 11th-ranked Wolverines.

     

    McKinney would go on to tack on another 516 points as a senior during his four-year career to comfortably be in first place. He got his revenge on the Wolverines and his nemesis, All-American guard Rickey Green, on Jan. 29, 1977 when he scored 29 points to lead the 'Cats to a 99-87 upset win over second-ranked Michigan.

     

    The highest-scoring game of his career came during his sophomore campaign when he posted 37 points Dec. 4, 1974 at No. 13 Notre Dame, connecting on 17 of 23 field goal attempts. However, just like Burns, he wasn't even the high scorer in the contest as the Fighting Irish's Adrian Dantley posted 44 points in the game, including 32 in the first half.

     

    In the 35 years since McKinney completed his collegiate eligibility, no one seriously threatened his mark. Only Evan Eschmeyer (1996-99) came within 100 points of the record as he finished with 1,805 points with his 112 games played being 10 more than McKinney played in his prolific career.

     

    *******

     

    That brings us to the present.

     

    John Shurna stepped into the Northwestern starting lineup right away as a freshman during the 2008-09 campaign. The Glen Ellyn native averaged a modest 7.3 points per game in his first season. Though he only showed glimpses of the 3-point shooter that he would become (he hit just 26 that year), it was a shot against Ohio State on Feb. 18 that served as his highlight that season. In a tie game, Shurna took a feed from Michael Thompson and launched a deep triple from the right wing that found nothing but net with 3.3 seconds remaining to give Northwestern a 72-69 victory.

     

    The game-winner would prove to be a harbinger of things to come. It didn't take long to realize that Shurna would take his game to another level. After scoring 25 points in a semifinal win over No. 23 Notre Dame in the semifinal round of the Chicago Invitational Challenge, Shurna scored 23 the following night against previously unbeaten Iowa State to lead the Wildcats to the tournament title. Due in large part to his efforts, NU started the season 10-1 and earned its first Associated Press national ranking in 41 years.

     

    Big Ten foes had little answer for Shurna as well as he topped 20 points in a conference game eight times during the season while posting 19 on two other occasions. Shurna led the Big Ten in total points scored in conference play, though the league's scoring champion is considered the individual who boasts the top scoring average. A 31-point effort in the Big Ten finale at Indiana left him with an average of 20.111 points per game. Evan Turner of Ohio State, who appeared in two fewer games, averaged 20.125 points to be considered the conference's scoring champ, preventing Shurna from becoming the first NU player to earn the title since Ray Ragelis in 1951. With merely one more point, Shurna would have earned the accolade.

     

    Nonetheless, Shurna's 619 total points in 2009-10 bested the Northwestern single-season record of 585 by Eschmeyer in 1997-98. For his efforts, Sporting News named Shurna the nation's Most Improved Player.

     

    Through the nonconference portion of his junior year, Shurna was playing as well as anyone in the nation. He scored at least 20 points in eight of the team's first nine games, including a 31-point effort in the season-opener at Northern Illinois in which he scored 25 points in the second half. Shurna was closing in a triple-double against Mount St. Mary's in the final game before the start of Big Ten play Dec. 23 when he went down with a severe high ankle sprain. The injury limited him throughout conference play, though he came close to regaining form late in the season as three straight 20-point games late in the season helped Northwestern advance to the NIT quarterfinal round as the Wildcats recorded a school-record 20 wins for the second consecutive season.

     

    Now fully healthy as a senior, Shurna has once again fully displayed his scoring prowess. In just the second game of the year, he scored a career-high 37 points in a comeback victory over LSU. Against Eastern Illinois, Shurna tied Craig Moore's school record by knocking down nine 3-pointers en route to a 32-point game. As recently as this past week, he tallied 30 points at Purdue - including 21 over the final eight minutes of play - and followed it up with 29 at No. 18 Indiana.

     

    And so heading into this Sunday's home game against Minnesota, Shurna sits just 16 points shy of McKinney's record that has spanned six U.S. presidencies.

     

    *******

     

    In addition to knowing how to put the ball in the basket, another common thread between Ruklick, Burns and McKinney is the postgraduate success that they have each gone on to enjoy.

     

    A charter member of the Northwestern Athletics Hall of Fame in 1984, Ruklick's brief stint in the NBA was most made famous for the fact that he assisted on Wilt Chamberlain's basket that gave him 100 points when the duo were teammates on the Philadelphia Warriors. He then went on to work for the National Merit Scholarship Corp., and has worked as a freelance journalist as well as for the Chicago Defender newspaper.

     

    Burns had a brief professional basketball career, playing for the Chicago Bulls as well as the Dallas Chaparrals of the ABA. He would earn his law degree from NU and served as a U.S. Attorney and ran for both lieutenant governor of Illinois as well as governor. He is currently the Illinois Secretary of State Inspector General.

     

    As for McKinney, he has enjoyed a distinguished NBA career on a variety of levels. He played seven seasons for Kansas City, Utah, Denver, San Diego and Chicago before moving on to front office positions with Chicago, Minnesota, Detroit and Seattle. He also served as an NBA broadcaster and is currently the Director of Scouting for the Milwaukee Bucks. Every year since his graduation, Northwestern has given the Billy McKinney Award to a graduating NU male senior student-athlete in any sport based on leadership and constant effort.

     

    Not a bad lineage to follow if you're John Shurna.

    BLOG: NU Fencers Visit Dewey Elementary

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    Evanston, Ill. -- When's the last time you heard of kids learning medieval sword techniques on an average school day in Evanston?

    On Friday, January 28, Dewey Elementary third and fourth graders participated in an interactive fencing session led by the Northwestern Wildcat women's fencing team. Beyond a lively discussion about the lore and literal history of fencing, students learned about each weapon, the foil, sabre and epée, and just how real the sport of fencing is today. 

    Fencing weapons (the plastic variety) and gear were handled and basic techniques were shared and practiced. Students also learned a bit about what it takes to balance the rigors of a top university education with the training and travel of a highly competitive sport.

    "This is really cool," commented fourth graders as they practiced proper lunge techniques.

    Other students were eager to share personal stories of their exposure to the sport, and there was a ripple of enthusiasm about watching fencing in the upcoming Olympic Games.

    "I know I have grown up a lot from this sport and without it I would not be at Northwestern University," says NU fencer Alicia Gurrieri. "The individual aspect [of fencing] forces competitors to always solve problems on their own and try harder each day."

    Dewey teachers strive to regularly impart such lessons to students. Physical education teacher Julie Stevenson explained, "The involvement with NU reinforces what I am telling my students and it gives them a real life role-model that they can aspire to be like in terms of academics, character, and athletics."

    Dewey and Northwestern are planning more fencing sessions as well as a fine arts extension, where students will advance their life drawing skills in renderings of fencing poses.

    Friday's session was the latest in a diverse series of collaborations between the Dewey Wellness Committee and Northwestern University student-athletes from many of the 19 varsity sports. The fencing team first volunteered at Dewey's International Walk to School Day event last October when fencers were bombarded with questions from eager students.

    "Today was a natural extension of the October event," said Stephanie Fine, parent and co-chair of the Dewey Wellness Committee. "Students were eager to learn about fencing, the fencers were very generous with their time, and the school embraced the opportunity. We look forward to future collaborations."

    Courtesy Dewey Elementary

    BLOG: Zack Oliver Makes Special Delivery to McGaw YMCA

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    NUsports.com followed Northwestern freshman quarterback Zack Oliver to the McGaw YMCA Children's Center of Evanston Tuesday as Oliver made a selfless gesture to the organization. Check out the video below to see the exact purpose of Oliver's trip and how the children he met at the YMCA reacted.

    Fencing Community Mourns the Loss of Remenyik

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    Evanston, Ill. -- Charlotte Remenyik, the woman credited with revitalizing the Northwestern fencing program in the mid-1970's, passed away on December 21, 2011.

    Remenyik took the reins in 1976 and led the Wildcats to a spotless 9-0 record and a Big Ten title in her first year. The next year produced similar results with a 6-2 overall mark and a second straight Big Ten title. Following the 1977-78 campaign, Laurie Schiller took over head coaching duties and has been at the helm ever since.

    Remenyik's contributions to Northwestern fencing are recognized every October when the 'Cats host the Remenyik Open which attracts top competition from around the country for an exciting weekend.

    A memorial service for Remenyik will be held Saturday, January 14 in Cleveland, Ohio. The service will be held at 2 p.m. EST at St. Emeric Church, which is located at 1860 W. 22nd St. It will be held primarily in Hungarian.

    In lieu of flowers, the Remenyik family has asked that contributions be made to:

    The American/Hungarian Friends of Scouting
    P.O. Box 6783
    Cleveland, Ohio 44101

    Photo Gallery: Northwestern at DePelchin Children's Center

    HOUSTON, Texas -- From the moment Northwestern arrived in Texas on Monday evening, the people of the city of Houston have worked hard to provide an unforgettable bowl experience for the Wildcats. On Thursday, 10 NU players took time out of their busy bowl game preparations to return the favor.

    Northwestern Honored Again By Lapchick Study

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    For the third-consecutive year, Northwestern's football program has earned specific recognition from among its 2011 bowl-bound peers by an APR/GSR study conducted by Dr. Richard Lapchick at the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at UCF.

    In a study that looked at overall Academic Progress Rate (APR) and Graduation Success Rate (GSR) scores with regards to race, Lapchick said "Northwestern and Notre Dame would have played for the National Championship if there was a national championship game for Graduation Success Rate among bowl teams. Both teams graduated at least 94 percent of football student-athletes and at least 92 percent of African-American football student-athletes."

    In the most recent data available from the NCAA, Northwestern owns a 94 percent GSR for its overall football student-athlete population. That number is inclusive of a 92 percent GSR for African-American football student-athletes and a 96 percent GSR for white football student-athletes.

    Going further, Lapchick observed that "Northwestern and Rutgers would contend for the National Championship if there was a national championship for APR scores, with APR scores of 993 and 988, respectively."

    The Lapchick study previously pitted Northwestern and Notre Dame in its GSR title game in 2010 while NU and Navy earned the Lapchick Bowl berths in 2009.

    Northwestern SAAC Food Drive Nets Record Donations

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    Through a spirited competition among staff and varsity programs, Northwestern's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee collected a record amount of canned goods during its annual food drive to benefit the Evanston branch of Family Focus.

    In a contest that officially ended yesterday, NU's athletes and staff members collected and delivered more than 6,100 units of canned and non-perishable food items for donation to Family Focus. The total shattered the old record of 5,700 established during last year's SAAC food drive. This year's SAAC effort was spearheaded by board members Belinda Niu (women's tennis) and Levi Mele (wrestling) along with the rest of the board.

    "The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee's annual food drive provides an opportunity for the entire Northwestern athletic department and the Evanston community to band together for a great cause," said SAAC co-president Jonathan Harris of men's soccer. "We at Northwestern realize how truly fortunate we are, and collecting food for those in need enables us to give back to our Evanston community.

    NU's 19 varsity programs competed among themselves to see who could bring in the most donations while the Northwestern Department of Athletics staff also held a separate contest. The overall winner was the NU baseball team, which collected a whopping 2,470 units. The team delivered the haul in dramatic fashion, pulling up to the front doors of Anderson Hall 30 minutes before the 5 p.m. deadline with two pickup trucks and two SUVs packed to the gills with foodstuffs.

    "It was exciting to see the thought process they put into the food drive this year," head baseball coach Paul Stevens said. "Our guys are so energized about making sure those who are less fortunate than them are taken care of all year long. Putting food on someone's table who otherwise might not be able to have it is pretty awesome."

    In addition to staff and student-athletes, Northwestern fans had the opportunity to give at recent men's and women's basketball games. Some elected to bring in physical canned goods while others donated money to the cause. That money was used during a shopping trip to Sam's Club today that netted more than 100 additional food items.

    "This year's drive was an absolute success," Harris said. "The competition between the teams and within the athletic department really brought out the competitiveness in everyone, which enhanced the giving spirit!"
    Click to View a Photo Gallery of the Celebration

    Click to View a Video of the Celebration

    Just like he has been doing since the day he arrived at Northwestern, senior offensive tackle Al Netter volunteered for some community service work Wednesday afternoon. Netter traveled to Lincolnwood Elementary School in Evanston for what he thought would be a reading and Q&A session with a fourth grade class, but instead the afternoon turned into a party in his honor.

    In September, Netter was chosen as one of 11 Football Bowl Subdivision members of the Allstate American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Good Works Team® in recognition of his dedication to community service and off-the-field accomplishments. This marks the sixth consecutive year a Wildcat has been among the 11 Football Bowl Subdivision players chosen, the longest streak for any school in the program's 20-year history.

    A Northwestern captain and member of NU's Leadership Council for the last two years, Netter has started 42 consecutive games at left tackle for the Wildcats and is a two-time honorable mention All-Big Ten performer.

    Off the field, the Rohnert Park, Calif., native has gone to great lengths to help those less fortunate at home and abroad. In 2010, Netter traveled to Guatemala an alternative spring break trip during which he helped cultivate farmland for local residents as well as teach English and prepare meals at an orphanage. More recently, Netter was a founding member of the Northwestern chapter of Uplifting Athletes which raises money for individuals with Niemann-Pick Type C, a rare genetic cholesterol storage disorder that deteriorates the nervous system.

    On Wednesday, the Lincolnwood students created a life-size Al Netter drawing in anticipation of his visit. In addition, they made a banner congratulating him on his award -- a banner which remained hidden until the appropriate moment. After Netter read the book, he took questions from the students for a few minutes before Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald opened the door and walked into the room, much to the surprise of Netter and to the delight of the students.

    Television cameras and representatives from Allstate and the AFCA Good Works Team® also entered the room, and the award presentation and party was on. Students posed with Netter and Coach Fitz, displaying their banner and some football schedule posters brought along by NU Athletic Department staffers.

    Wednesday's ceremony is not the end of the celebration. As part of the honor, Netter is invited to attend the Allstate Sugar Bowl for a ceremony and associated service projects in the New Orleans area.

    Basketball is Back!

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    WATCH: Interviews with John Shurna and Davide Curletti


    No dunk contest this year.

     

    No Snoop Dogg nor Kid Cudi.

     

    Once 6:30 p.m. rolled around Friday evening, it was time to get down to business for the Northwestern men's basketball team.

     

    Though relegated to training at SPAC due the volleyball match at Welsh-Ryan Arena, the venue was inconsequential. The rims were still 10 feet high and the free throw line was still 15 feet from the hoop. Basketball was back.

     

    Though the team has technically been able to practice together with the coaching staff for the past month, the first official day of the college basketball season has a different feel to it. Instead of only being able to work together on the court for two hours a week, teams can now get down to business for approximately three hours a day.

     

    The start of a new season is similar to a television spinoff. Familiar characters who you've grown to know and enjoy are back, while other new cast members have joined the fold. Players have graduated and newcomers enter the fray looking to contribute. The returners have honed their craft in the offseason as they attempt to expand their contributions from the campaign prior. Every team has a clean slate. Everyone's record is 0-0.

     

    Earlier in the day at the annual Chicago College Basketball Luncheon, Howard Moore, the head coach at UIC, compared the first day of practice to opening a Christmas present. Coaches get to unwrap this "gift" where they're finally able to get down to work with their players.

     

    The Wildcats start their season anew on the heels of three straight postseason appearances and back-to-back school-record 20-win seasons. However, the previously unattainable goal is still out there. Everyone knows it, and the question persists for all those in and around the program: "Is this the year?" It's the elephant in the room.

     

    "We're all really focused," senior Davide Curletti said. "We all want to get that NCAA tournament bid. Everybody's talking about it. (For the seniors) this is our last year. Our freshman year, we did great. Our sophomore year we did better and our junior year we did even better. Now we're just trying to finish this off.

     

    "Right now it's time for guys to get used to each other. Now that we're starting practice tonight, it's going to be time where we're really going to have to sit down and start honing in on all aspects of our game."

     

    Here's to a season of good health and a dream realized. Only 24 days until the exhibition opener.

     

    Notes: Special guests at Friday's practice included Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau and assistant coach Ed Pinckney. Northwestern assistant Fred Hill served alongside Pinckney as an assistant coach at Villanova from 2003-05 ... The Wildcats went through their annual media training session Thursday night with The Speaking Specialists. Special thanks to Sue Castorino and Randy Minkoff for taking time out to work with both the Northwestern men's and women's teams ... The players got a first glimpse at their new uniforms Thursday evening. The new unis are tentatively planned to be unveiled to the public at the Fast Break Club Tip-off Dinner next Thursday, Oct. 20 at the Hilton Orrington in Evanston. To register or for more information, please visit NUsports.com.

     

     

    Midnight Madness with Northwestern Volleyball

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    Head coach Keylor Chan and Northwestern's volleyball team would love to invite girls in grades one through eight and their parents to come out to Welsh-Ryan Arena on Saturday, October 29 for Midnight Madness, an all-night party with the 'Cats.

    Everyone is invited to come out to Welsh-Ryan Arena for a delicious dinner beginning at 5 p.m. Then at 7 p.m. you'll be able to cheer on the Wildcats as they play against a Big Ten foe, the Wisconsin Badgers. The night does not end when the match does, however and in fact the party is just getting started.

    After the match there will be a party with the Northwestern players where fans can partake in wacky games and hang out with the 'Cats late into the night. The fun will roll on until midnight when participants will leave with a t-shirt, a water bottle and a voucher redeemable for two tickets to any future Northwestern volleyball match.

    The cost for the evening that promises to be filled with fun is just $20. You can register now or find out more information by calling 847-467-6862 or by sending an e-mail to wildcatmarketing@northwestern.edu.
    Northwestern's women's swimmers volunteered as Swim Angels at the 2011 Big Shoulders Open Water Swim Classic 5K on Saturday, Sept. 10. The race featured a two-lap course in Lake Michigan beginning at the Ohio Street Beach; NU men's swimmer Charlie Rimkus won the men's portion of the 20th anniversary edition in 2010.

    The organizers of the race instituted a "Swim Angel" program beginning this year, and Northwestern quickly agreed to participate to take advantage of being visible at a National event in a sport getting a big push ahead of an Olympic year. Swim Angels buddy up with swimmers who need encouragement to help them complete the race.



    "The Big Shoulders race was a fantastic opportunity for our team to be a part of a larger swimming community and experience a different side of the sport we love," Northwestern team captain Meghan Cavanaugh said. "It was great for team bonding and wonderful exposure for the Northwestern Women's Swimming team!"

    In addition to the current Wildcats, Ellis herself and alums such as NU 100 fly record-holder Katie Braun served as Angels. Only a few participants elected to swim with an Angel, leading many of the Wildcats to enter the water en masse behind the pack and team up with any swimmers who needed help along the way.

    One particular participant requested a buddy and senior Jenny Wilson swam alongside her. The racer had never competed in an open water 5K swim before and had set a goal time for herself of 3.5 hours -- a long time to be in waters with temperatures of 64-65 degrees. Several Wildcats teamed up during the back half of the race to help her finish, which she did in 2.75 hours -- way under her goal time. The majority of the Northwestern team was on the beach waiting for her at the finish, cheering and high-fiving her as she left the water in a very emotional and triumphant scene.

    After the race, Northwestern's Angels turned into a clean-up crew, helping to break down the set-up and clear the beach of refuse.

    Also of note:
    Northwestern graduate, world open water champion and 10-time U.S. open water champion Erica Rose finished second overall in the race for the women -- while wearing a cast. Rose previously won the race three-straight years from 2007-09 before taking second a year ago. Earlier this year, she won the 28.5 mile Manhattan Island Swim, which is a circumnavigation of Manhattan Island in New York.

    Capocci Heads to England to Play Professionally

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    Recent Northwestern graduate Mike Capocci (Lombard, Ill./Glenbard East) is joining his former Wildcat classmate Michael Thompson in heading overseas to play professionally as Capocci will compete for the Durham Wildcats of the British Basketball League in Durham, England.

    A three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, Capocci is pursing a master's degree in finance and international banking from Durham University.

    He appeared in 98 career games for the Wildcats, including making 11 starts. Capocci's finest game of his senior season came in a narrow one-point loss to top-ranked Ohio State, posting 11 points.

    For more on Capocci, including quotes, please visit:
    http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/sport/9240714.Wildcats_look_forward_to_starting_the_season/

    Kontos Earns First Major League Promotion to the Yankees

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    Former Northwestern right-hander pitcher George Kontos (Lincolnwood, Ill./Niles West) has earned his first promotion to the Major Leagues as he has been announced as a September call-up for the New York Yankees.

    A fifth-round draft pick of the Yankees in 2006 following his junior year with the Wildcats, Kontos posted a 4-4 record with a stellar 2.62 ERA in 40 appearances primarily out of the bullpen for the Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees this season. He struck out 91 batters in 89 1/3 innings pitched while limiting opposing batters to a .221 average.

    Kontos joins left-handed pitcher J.A. Happ (Houston Astros) as former Northwestern players currently at the Major League level. Kontos will be managed by another Wildcat, Joe Girardi, during his time with the Major League squad. The Yankees currently lead the American League East by 2.5 games over the second-place Boston Red Sox.

    Kontos was a Rule 5 Draft pick of the San Diego Padres following the 2010 season but he was returned to the Yankees' organization during Spring Training.

    Chris Kontos, George's younger brother, is currently a senior outfielder on the Northwestern baseball team.

    Amy Jaeschke Makes Big Professional Move

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    All-America center Amy Jaeschke stopped by our offices this morning to say goodbye before she leaves Saturday to take the next step in her basketball career. "I have to go pack," she said. "I don't think I have enough time." Given her destination, that may not be an understatement.

    Jaeschke has signed a four-month contract with professional club Chevakata in the northwest Russian city of Vologda. She leaves this week for a training camp in Lithuania before the Russian Women's PBL schedule kicks off in October. The season runs into next spring, but Jaeschke's initial contract expires around Christmas.

    "It is pretty common to sign a four-month contract when you are an unproven rookie in their league," Jaeschke said. "After it's over, they can choose to re-sign you for the rest of the season or you have the option to negotiate for more money or sign with a different team if you want."

    Jaeschke found out she made the squad halfway through a three-week training camp in Lithuania that ended last week. She flew home to Chicago on Monday, Aug. 29, but will be wheels up again on Sept. 3 for the final preseason training camp next week. She already has met "85 percent" of her teammates -- all Russian -- and said the squad hopes to sign another American or European player in the coming weeks.

    "(The language barrier) is very difficult," Jaeschke said. "Only two of my teammates speak English and the coaches do not at all. Luckily they are really patient and will translate things for me."

    Despite the distance from home and the fact Vologda located in the northern part of a region known for its long winters ("I'm from Chicago, I'll be fine," she said), Jaeschke is excited to continue her career in one of the best professional women's leagues in the world.

    "I was kind of hesitant at first with it being Russia," she said. "But this is a great move for my career with a great team in a great league.

    "I can't believe I'm getting paid to play basketball. I've been doing this the last 20 years of my life and now I'm getting paid to do it? I went over to training camp and was thinking 'this is just like what preseason was like at Northwestern,' except I was getting paid. I know I got a free education (at NU), but getting an actual paycheck for playing basketball is so crazy!"
    Even though it's college football season that is about to kick off this week, college basketball season is not that far around the corner. In fact, preview magazines are starting to hit newsstands and Northwestern senior forward John Shurna is starting to earn accolades.

    Shurna has been tabbed a preseason second-team All-American by Sporting News as well as a first-team All-Big Ten selection. He is joined on the All-America second team by Wisconsin guard Jordan Taylor, Kentucky forward Terrence Jones, Kansas forward Thomas Robinson and North Carolina center Tyler Zeller.

    The first team consists of Connecticut guard/forward Jeremy Lamb, North Carolina forward Harrison Barnes, Kentucky forward Anthony Davis, Baylor forward Perry Jones III and Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger.

    A two-time All-Big Ten pick, Shurna was one of the nation's top scorers during the nonconference portion of the 2010-11 season as he averaged 24.4 points per game in the Wildcats' first nine contests. An ankle injury suffered in the last game prior to the start of conference play limited him the rest of the season but he finished with averages of 16.6 points and 4.9 rebounds per game while shooting 43.4 percent from three-point range. Shurna was named to the watch list for the Naismith Award last season as well as being a member of the Wooden Award Midseason Top 30 list. He enters his senior year 524 points shy of surpassing Billy McKinney as NU's all-time leading scorer.

    Sporting News selects Northwestern to finish seventh in the Big Ten this season and advance to the NCAA tournament as a No. 12 seed. The Wildcats are coming off their second-consecutive 20-win season while advancing to the quarterfinal round of the National Invitation Tournament a year ago.

    In addition to Jones being named a first-team All-American, NU will also face a third-team preseason All-America pick in nonconference play in Creighton sophomore forward Doug McDermott. Three of the Wildcats' nonconference foes are picks to win their respective leagues: Baylor (Big 12), Creighton (Missouri Valley) and Stony Brook (America East). Northwestern could face a fourth if it meets VCU (Coloniel) in the Charleston Classic.

    The Wildcats open their 2011-12 regular season Nov. 13 when they host Texas-Pan American at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

    Ruchim Earns First-Team Summer All-America Honors

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    Summertime is a chance for collegiate baseball players to get away from their university surroundings and hone their craft on a different stage. For the Northwestern baseball program, no one performed at a higher level than rising sophomore Kyle Ruchim (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Stevenson) this summer.

    The second baseman/right-handed pitcher was rewarded for his stellar play with the Glens Falls (N.Y.) Golden Eagles of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League (PGCBL) by being named a first-team summer All-American by Perfect Game USA. The recognition covers all collegiate summer baseball leagues in the nation.

    Ruchim was recognized as a utility player for his efforts as both a position player and on the mound. At the plate, Ruchim led Glen Falls with 16 doubles, 55 hits, 37 runs scored and 19 multi-hit games while ranking second on the team with a .333 batting average, nine home runs and a .552 slugging percentage. His 27 RBI ranked third on the squad. As a pitcher, he sported a 3-0 record with a 2.05 ERA and a team-record nine saves. Ruchim struck out a ridiculous 43 batters in 22 innings pitched while limiting opposing batters posted a mere .175 average.

    His efforts helped the Golden Eagles to East Division-leading record of 31-17. He was named to the PGCBL all-league first team as well as the Rising Stars team for his efforts.

    Men's Soccer Cruises Past Wheaton in Exhibition Finale

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    Northwestern men's soccer closed out its exhibition season Friday evening at Lakeside Field, downing Division III foe Wheaton College, 5-0. The teams played two 45-minute periods, followed by a 30-minute period that featured mainly reserves.

     

    The Wildcats dominated possession over the opening 45 minutes of play, holding an 8-3 edge in shots. Sophomores Reed Losee and Lepe Seetane each barely missed out on scoring opportunities before NU finally cashed with in one second shy of 10 minutes remaining in the opening stanza. Nick Gendron, who had entered the game as a substitute just one minute earlier, finished in front of the goal from five yards out off assists from Seetane and Layth Masri to give Northwestern the lead.

     

    Sophomore Tommy Tombridge got the start in goal for the Wildcats and made one terrific leaping save, punching the ball over the top off the crossbar.

     

    NU was able to pull away midway through the second half. Sophomore Scott Lakin headed home a service from Losee at the back post at the 66:28 mark to make it 2-0 in the hosts' favor. Just over three minutes later, freshman Jagger Martinez made his presence felt by putting home a feed from Peter O'Neill to extend the Wildcats' lead to three.

     

    Losee finished off the scoring with just over 17 minutes remaining when he made it 4-0. Masri was credited with his second assist of the match on the play.

     

    Northwestern out-shot Wheaton 15-4 over the opening 90 minutes of play. Jonathan Harris worked the first 41:30 of the second half in goal, while freshman Tyler Miller worked the final 3:30, as well as the final 30-minute period.

     

    Freshman Eric Weberman tallied the lone goal of the final stanza, ripping a shot inside the near post from 15 yards out with senior Lucas Swertloff earning an assist. The 'Cats held a 5-2 advantage in shots in the last period, including a pair that hit the crossbar.

     

    Northwestern opens its 2011 regular season next Friday, Aug. 26 as it hosts Eastern Illinois. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. at Lakeside Field.

     

    Camp Kenosha Update (Wednesday, Aug. 17)

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    Wednesday Morning Photo Gallery

    The first of two Wednesday practice sessions began promptly at 8:50 a.m. on the fields of UW-Parkside under sunny skies and temperatures in the high 70s to low 80s. A forecasted rain event was gobbled up by the lake, keeping the Kenosha weather perfect-as-usual for the 15 period workout. Today's observations and musings:

    Three Wildcats (Vince Browne, Jordan Mabin and Al Netter) took "veteran days" for Wednesday morning, electing to take the session off and help coach up their position groups. For every 12 starts a player makes in his career, he earns one "veteran day" off practice. So for example, three-year offensive line starter Ben Burkett (39 starts) has three such off-days accumulated for this preseason. The trio will suit up for tonight's second practice.

    Coach Fitz: "We were real physical this morning. We put the ball on the ground and got about 40 plays in. We'll focus on the kicking game more tonight." On the veterans' days: "The guy's legs are cooked and we're just grinding through camp right now. You're always going to give your veterans some time off, but the veteran's day puts the responsibility on them to communicate to their position coach when their legs need a break."

    Brian Mulroe's Purple Nurples team won this year's offseason competition known as the Wildcat Games. Their prize is significantly different than in the past when winners were excused from the conditioning test (and usually forced to sit it out after Eric Peterman's team insisted on running it anyway after the inaugural Games). The Nurples received VIP cards that get them to the front of line in the dining hall and for treatment while also getting them cart rides from the middle of the Kenosha practice fields back up to the locker room after practice. Now THAT is a valuable prize. The Nurples were exceptionally generous with their time with the Special Olympics this year, accumulating most of their winning margin through that particular community service activity.

    VIDEO: Redshirt Freshman Center Brandon Vitabile talks about his Camp Kenosha experience and some of his favorite pastimes



    In player and plays of note from Wednesday morning...

    * Dan Persa threw his vintage darts all day long, complete with the nose-down spiral that found its way to the numbers seemingly every time.

    * During interior running drills, an unseen-from-my-angle D-lineman bruised his way into the pile so ferociously that he threw an offensive lineman backward into Mike Trumpy for the tackle. Moments later, Kevin Watt bulled his way around the end for a TFL.

    * Evan Watkins was deadly on downfield throws during 7-on-7 drills. "He's having a bombs away practice" one special teams member commented from the sidelines.

    * Also during 7-on-7 play, Trevor Siemian floated a pass down the sideline that Pierre Youngblood-Ary fought threw two defenders to run under and grab for a sweet connection.

    * In TEAM full-go action, the physicality picked up even more. Mike Jensen made an ear-ringing block on the outside that sprung a teammate on a flat route, then more great blocking allowed Evan Watkins to find a seam and run un-touched 60 yards up the sideline (screaming a Ric Flair-esque "WOOOO" as he rumbled by my position beyond the chains).

    * The defensive line blew up a screen play at one point while Kain Colter was taking reps, prompting the entire defensive sideline to chant "Kain's not Abel!"

    * On an option play, linebacker Collin Ellis disrupted the pitch enough that Tyler Scott was able to leap in the backfield and intercept the ball. "Tyler is a freak. If something freakish is happening, it was probably him," said the specialists.  

    After
    some pool time this afternoon and likely a quick nap, the team will head to a local high school this evening for a turf-field practice that is completely closed to the public and the media. On Thursday, ESPN's DirecTV satellite bus will be at Northwestern's practice at UW-Parkside. NU is one of 19 schools the bus is visiting this preseason; the Wildcats will be featured on ESPNEWS and other ESPN platforms throughout the afternoon on Thursday.

    Camp Kenosha Update (Tuesday, Aug. 16)

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    Camp Kenosha Aug. 16, 2011, Photo Gallery

    After being out of town for the first two sessions of Camp Kenosha Monday, I made my way up to UW-Parkside for the first time in 2011 for Tuesday morning's single session. The walk down the gravel path leading from the main Parkside athletic building to Northwestern's very own side-by-side practice fields always strikes me as the official beginning of football season. Here are some observations from today's session:

    It was another perfect weather day in Kenosha, something the Wildcats have grown accustomed to in recent years. Temperatures were in the low 80s with virtually no clouds to be seen and a nice breeze rolling down the spectating hill and across the grass.

    VIDEO: Northwestern freshmen talk about their Camp Kenosha experience



    You want to know what makes Northwestern's practice the most high-energy workout in the nation? Picture 54-year-old offensive coordinator Mick McCall leading his QB group from one drill to the next in a dead sprint before intentionally leaping into a barrel-roll somersault to punctuate the new location, then jumping to his feet yelling "Too Much Kenosha!" That'll fire anyone up for what would be a pretty mundane passing drill at other schools.

    In actual play and player observations, a few plays stuck out. During 7-on-7 passing, Dan Persa hit Jeremy Ebert down the seam on a play that should be very familiar to Northwestern fans by now. Evan Watkins twice found Brendan Barber during the drill, once on a great touch floater over the leap of Demetrius Dugar and again in the back of the end zone. On the very first play of TEAM with full-go tackling, Jordan Mabin read a play perfectly and stopped a run deep in the backfield before several plays later stepping in front of a Kain Colter pass for a pick (Colter would run Mabin out of bounds himself).

    After practice, Coach Fitz had new starting center Brandon Vitabile break down the team huddle. He correctly pronounced his name vuh-TOB-uh-lay for those of you pronouncing at home.

    More than one support staffer commented on the "intriguing" freshman class this year, here experiencing their first Camp Kenosha. Whether or not they know where they are, some great competition is going on among the team. Stay tuned to NUsports.com for video interviews from our two-man crew here all week gathering interviews for the website and material for season two of The Pat Fitzgerald Show.

    Also, view some images from today's practice courtesy of NUsports.com. Tomorrow's action gets underway with a morning practice here at UW-Parkside before a closed-to-the-media (and everyone else) night practice.

    Men's Soccer Drops Exhibition Opener to SIUE, 1-0

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    Host SIU Edwardsville got a goal in the 70th minute to edge the Northwestern men's soccer team 1-0 in the exhibition opener for both teams Sunday night at Korte Stadium in Edwardsville, Ill. The teams played two 40-minute periods as well as one additional 20-minute period that featured mostly the reserve players.

    The Wildcats were out-shot 15-6 over the 100 minutes of action with sophomore Lepe Seetane recording four of the team's shots, including two that were on goal. SIUE held a 9-2 edge in shots over the opening stanza, but redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Tommy Tombridge wasn't forced to make a save. Both of NU's shots were on frame but were stopped by Scott Meyer.

    The decisive goal came at 69:35 when Jordan Barnes scored off 10 yards out off a feed from Jared Tejada, beating Northwestern keeper Jonathan Harris. The Wildcats were never able to tally the equalizer.

    NU returns to action at 7 p.m. Friday as it closes out its exhibition season by hosting Wheaton College at Lakeside Field.

    Behind the Scenes at Big Ten Football Media Days

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    The Big Ten Conference held its 40th annual Big Ten Football Media Days this past Thursday and Friday, July 28-29, at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place in Chicago. Here are a couple of quick behind-the-scenes thoughts following the event:

    • A record number of media attended this year (the exact figure escapes me, but it was more than 500). This was due in large part to the addition of Nebraska to the conference and their media's exuberance in taking in all things Big Ten. At Thursday's coaches session with the print media that was broadcast live on the Big Ten Network and ESPNU, the right wall of the room had to be moved out from its position last year to accommodate the extra interest.

    • As has been a long-standing tradition because of our proximity to the festivities, a member of the Northwestern Athletic Communications staff moderates that opening coaches session each year. After veteran moderator Julie Dunn handled those duties the last three years, the honor fell to me this season. The last time I served in that capacity was circa 2007 when the Big Ten Network was much more fledgling and the media hoard much smaller. Sitting on the podium, it was pretty neat to see the back of the room fill in when JoePa took the stage and to see how many in the media largely stopped taking notes and paid rapt attention to Commissioner Jim Delany's comments. It is safe to say that each coach commands his own presence and has a style that both defines and embodies his program. It will be interesting to see how those programs with new coaches shift in the image of their new leaders. We here in Evanston have gone through that transition with Coach Fitz the past five years and it's pretty obvious that this is Pat Fitzgerald's Northwestern.

    • Because of those moderating duties, I wasn't able to be around our guys at all on Thursday, but I did spend Friday morning's one-on-one session with them. At this session, all 12 Big Ten coaches and the three players from each team sit at their own individual tables while media come visit with them inside of a two-hour window. Right from the start, Coach Fitz and Dan Persa's tables were two of the most busy in the entire room. That's not to say Al Netter and Jordan Mabin didn't get their fair share of talking in; Al told a couple of great stories dealing with his ASB service trip to Guatemala two years ago and his ill-conceived Halloween costume choice last year (he quickly learned that in the country he ordered it from, extra large does mean the same thing it means here in the states. It was a...cozy costume).

    • Is Dan Persa 100 percent? That's the question I heard asked in about 100 different ways to all four NU representatives. The answers depended on the point-of-view of the source, but the gist is this: Danny is eight months in to what for a normal human being is a 12-to-14 month recovery. Being an athlete in the amazing state of shape and fitness he has achieved, Persa is right where we thought he would be in his rehab and continues to get stronger every day. The most important point being made, though, in my estimation, was about Persa's mental state. Both he and Fitz talked about how far ahead Persa is mentally this year than at this same point in 2010. While I have no doubt Persa will be a physical force on Sept. 3 at Boston College, what excites me the most is the year of starting experience he has under his belt. Mental strength is a powerful thing, especially for a quarterback in the hyper-quick environment of a Big Ten pocket.

    • At today's autograph session ahead of the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon, the line at Northwestern's table was the longest I can remember. Interest is high in the Wildcats this season, there is no doubt. Helping that interest today was the fact that Coach Fitz was one of just a handful of coaches who participated, chatting up each and every fan in that line. While everyone is a potential Big Ten champion at Media Days -- I get that -- this is going to be one of the more exciting Northwestern squads we've had lately...and that is saying a lot. If you don't have your season tickets yet, get them now. Go 'Cats!

    Through Northwestern's Athletic Development Department, NUsports.com hosts many auctions over the course of the academic year, putting autographed gear, special memorabilia, fan experiences and many other one-of-a-kind items up for bid to all Wildcat fans to benefit the Wildcat Fund. Last year, Northwestern graduate Kent Markus bid on and won at "Northwestern Football Fan Experience," earning a VIP, behind-the-scenes day at Ryan Field while NU took on then-No. 13 Iowa. Markus wrote a recap of he and his son Robbie's experience, which we share below as a way of encouraging YOU to bid on NU's auction items when they become available this upcoming season!

    I woke up late on the morning of Wednesday, Nov. 3. There was an email waiting for me from my wife, who had gotten our son off to school before heading in to work. Because of the election the day before, the work I loved as Ohio Governor Ted Strickland's Chief Legal Counsel was going to end. Ted had tried valiantly to fight the electoral tsunami and come up two points short of doing so.

    I opened the email. "Buy this - you and Robbie will have fun.  Love, Susan." I clicked on the link. There were about three hours left in an online auction at NUsports.com for the "Northwestern Football Experience." I placed my bid, won the auction and Susan sure was right, my son and I had the time of our lives!

    Ten days later, my 13-year-old son, Robbie, and I got up at 5:30 a.m. and headed to the Columbus, Ohio, airport. We flew into O'Hare, and with some time to kill, decided to take the El all the way to Ryan Field.  We passed Wrigley already decked out in purple for the game the following week. And as we got closer and closer to the Howard Street stop, we were surrounded by more and more NU (and Iowa!) fans.  After changing trains at Howard, we found ourselves standing next to a man and his 13-year-old son who were decked out in Iowa gear. We were a little bit stunned to learn that they lived in the same Columbus suburb we do and had flown in for the game on the same flight we had. The boys were eighth graders at neighboring middle schools!

    From the Central El stop, we walked over to Ryan Field to find our hostess for the day, Tammy Walker. I was a little surprised, as we entered the stadium with her, that everyone
    knew Tammy. This woman was seriously connected!

    As the first part of our Football Experience, we were escorted to the sideline to watch the pregame warm-up by the team.  We weren't there for two minutes before Stefan Demos walked over to say hi to Tammy and she introduced us to him.  My son, a loyal 'Cats fan living in hardcore Buckeye country, was in heaven.  A few minutes later, we were introduced to D'Wayne Bates, star receiver for the Northwestern 1995 Rose Bowl team, who went on to play pro ball and is now a high school teacher and coach.  Another autograph on Robbie's NU baseball cap.

    From the sidelines, Tammy escorted us to the press box, where we had front row reserved seats for the game. On the way there, when I inquired how it was that she knew so many people, she kindly explained that her late husband, Randy, had been the NU football coach. I couldn't believe I hadn't figured that one out! I have immense respect for what Randy Walker did with the Northwestern football program and was deeply appreciative of how graciously Tammy had handled my clumsy question.

    And then there was the game. And it was some game. NU beat the Iowa Hawkeyes, ranked 13th in the country! We were fascinated by all that we saw in the press box, learning the different roles performed by those around us from ESPN, the Chicago Tribune and the Big Ten. With substantial self-restraint, we followed the press box rules and didn't cheer, scream or celebrate (well, a little) when Dan Persa threw the game-winning touchdown pass.

    Former Big Ten Commissioner, Wayne Duke, and his wife were sitting to our right.  They couldn't have been more friendly. Another autograph for Robbie, "From one Big Ten fan to another." And during the game, Tammy took us up to the WGN broadcast booth where we met Dave Eanet and Ted Albrecht -- and watched Eanet being honored at the stadium and on the scoreboard for his years of loyal 'Cats play-by-play work.

    After the game, we were escorted to Coach Fitzgerald's post-game press conference. There was an audible gasp in the room when the Coach confirmed the worst for the assembled media -- Dan Persa had ruptured his Achilles' tendon and would be having surgery that evening.

    As we were leaving the press conference, Coach Fitzgerald greeted Tammy, and, yes, it was another autograph for Robbie -- and a picture with the Coach!

    We called for a cab as we headed out to Mustard's Last Stand to wait for our ride back to O'Hare. By 9:00 that evening, we were back at our own home in Ohio. Talk about a "Northwestern Football Experience"! Tammy Walker was phenomenal -- what an ambassador for the school. And Robbie? All he wants to know is if we'll be winning the auction again next year.

    Kent Markus (B.S. '81)

    John Shurna has been here before. Very few basketball players are fortunate enough during their careers to have the opportunity to represent the United States once on the hardwood, but as the NU rising senior heads to Colorado Springs, Colo., this weekend for tryouts for the World University Games it marks the third consecutive season that he'll have the chance to don the Red, White and Blue.

    Shurna is one of 20 individuals who will be competing to earn the 12 roster spots for next month's event in Shenzhen, China. Unlike many of the others making their way to the U.S. Olympic Training Center, this won't be a new experience for Shurna. Two years ago, he was a member of the USA team that captured the gold medal at the FIBA Under-19 World Championship in New Zealand. He then earned a return invite from USA Basketball during the summer of 2010, competing as a member of the USA Select Team of collegiate players who trained against the USA National Team en route to their winning the FIBA World Championship in Turkey.

    To put Shurna's experience playing for USA Basketball into perspective, Syracuse guard Scoop Jardine is the only other player at camp who was a member of the Select Team last summer. Pittsburgh guard Ashton Gibbs and Kentucky guard Darius Miller are the only other two individuals beside Shurna at camp who were members of the Under-19 squad.

    Few could debate the notion that the opportunity to play for USA Basketball has helped Shurna become the player that he is today. Following a solid freshman season during which he averaged 7.3 points per game, he took his game to another level in 2009-10, vaulting his scoring average to 18.2 points per game while earning second-team All-Big Ten honors. He began his junior year playing at an All-America level before being slowed by an ankle injury and was still able to earn third-team All-Big Ten accolades. 

    The fact that Purdue head coach Matt Painter is serving as the head coach of the World University Games team likely can't hurt Shurna's case to make the team. Painter hasn't only had the opportunity to see Shurna compete against his Boilermakers in Big Ten play, he also served as an assistant coach for the USA Under-19 team back in 2009.

    Shurna is being joined by two other Big Ten players at this weekend's tryouts as forwards Draymond Green of Michigan State and Trevor Mbakwe of Minnesota are also making the trip to Colorado. Wisconsin guard Jordan Taylor was invited to try out but was forced to withdraw due to injury.

    The squad is set to have one practice Friday evening, two sessions on Saturday and one more on Sunday morning before the finalists are selected. Those who remain will continue to practice through Aug. 7 before departing for China the following day. Competition at the 2011 World University Games is slated to run from Aug. 13-22. Of the four groups in the tournament, the United States is in Group D along with Finland, Hungary, Israel, Mexico and South Korea.

    For more information, please visit the USA Basketball website.
    A stellar performance for the second straight summer while playing for Great Britain's Under-20 Team has earned Northwestern junior Alex Marcotullio an invite to the country's National Team training camp.

    Marcotullio averaged 16.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.3 steals per game in leading the Brits to a 7-2 record at the FIBA Under-20 European Championships which concluded last weekend. He ranked third in Division B with an average of 3.2 3-point field goals per game, while his steals average ranked fifth.

    Great Britain's National Team is training in preparation for EuroBasket 2011 which runs Aug. 31 through Sept. 18 in Lithuania. Training camp gets underway July 30 with the squad slated to make cuts Aug. 10 and 22.

    Among those slated to play for Great Britain's National Team is Luol Deng of the Chicago Bulls. Ben Gordon, formerly of the Bulls and currently of the Detroit Pistons was also named to the team's preliminary 17-man roster. Great Britain will serve as the host of the Olympic Summer Games in 2012 and has earned an automatic berth in the field.
    The following WildcatsBlog entry is courtesy of the Northwestern Athletic Development office and is aimed at recruiting former student-athletes to become donors to the Wildcat Fund. Even if you are not a former Wildcat on the field, you can still give to the Fund while reaching out to your former student-athlete friends and encouraging them to take part in the challenge!

    The Northwestern Athletic Department kicked off its Student-Athlete Alumni Challenge July 21 with the goal of encouraging 100 N-Club members to make a gift to the Wildcat Fund by Aug. 31.

    This challenge is being supported by Tyke Nollman (football '66), who has pledged $10,000 to the Wildcat Fund if the goal is reached.

    Read below for Tyke's Challenge and join us in supporting Northwestern Athletics and our student-athletes!

    ____________________________________________

    Dear N Club Member,

    As a former football player and 1966 graduate of Northwestern University, I continue to wear my Wildcat pride. The lessons that I learned throughout my four years as a student-athlete are ones that have shaped me throughout my personal and professional life, and, 45 years later, still impact me daily.

    It is important that Northwestern is able to continue to provide its student-athletes with the same experiences that it gave to me and each of us. As competitors and students, each current athlete is a representation of the unique Northwestern experience. In order to carry on the legacy that we helped create, we need you! That is why I am issuing a Student-Athlete Alumni Challenge!

    The Wildcat Fund goal is to try to increase our level of participation by 100 donors by the end of the fiscal year, Aug. 31, 2011. As a group, we can create great opportunities for our athletes. If we can successfully meet this goal, I have pledged to donate $10,000 to the Wildcat Fund!

    I have pledged my pride and loyalty to Northwestern University, and hope that you will do the same.

    Gifts to the Wildcat Fun can be made by:

    Donations of any size will help to continue and better the Northwestern athletic experience. Thank you for your time and support, and as always, GO 'CATS!

    Sincerely,

    J. Tyke Nollman '66
    Football

    Former 'Cat Jason Wright Embarking on New Journey

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    If you follow former Northwestern running back Jason Wright on twitter (@whoisjwright), you've known for a while that big changes are on the horizon for the seven-year NFL veteran. On July 12 Wright tweeted that movers would be at his home soon, thanking God for his seven years in the NFL and the great people that came with it.

    By the time the Arizona Republic officially reported last night that Wright had decided to hang up his cleats, the two-time first-team Academic All-American and his family already had completed a cross-country road trip back to Chicago, where the Republic reports Wright will attend the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago.

    In many ways, Wright is the ultimate Northwestern Wildcat student-athlete. During his on-the-field career from 2000-03, he recorded a pair of 1,000-yard rushing seasons and totaled 35 total touchdowns. At the 2003 Motor City Bowl, in his final game as a 'Cat, Wright rushed for a bowl record 237 yards while also setting records for yards per carry (11.3), all-purpose yards (336) and longest kickoff return (88 yards). His NFL career began as an undrafted free agent in 2004 when he was cut by the 49ers and caught on in Atlanta. He then made stops in Cleveland and, finally, Arizona.

    Randy Walker called Wright the most complete running back he'd ever coached. He didn't have breakaway speed, but used his quick feet, athleticism and field vision to pile up yardage. He was a gifted receiver out of the backfield and a solid, consistent blocker. His all-around ability on the field mirrors his all-around persona off it -- and that is what makes us so proud to call Jason Wright a Wildcat.

    For one thing, Wright can sing. Really, really well. He occasionally performed the National Anthem prior to NU men's basketball games, and even before a session at the 2003 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament in Chicago. He sang at Randy Walker's memorial service, and he was well known for lifting his voice in song at FCA meetings on campus.

    As evidenced by the aforementioned Academic All-America honors, Wright is super intelligent and a gifted communicator. He scored in the 92nd percentile on the MCAT exam in 2003. That same year, he delivered the player's keynote address at the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon. He recently penned a blog entry on the lockout from the player's perspective for ESPN.com, and shared his thoughts on faith in relation to the Jim Tressel situation at Ohio State at TheGospelCoalition.org.

    The theme throughout everything when talking about Wright is his faith. Follow him on Twitter or read his writings, and that becomes clear. I spoke with former NU running back Noah Herron for a football game program story in 2004, and Herron talked about the important role the FCA played in helping him and Wright through rough times and injuries, renewing their passions for the game of football. Certainly faith propels Wright in all he does.

    When Wright and his wife, Tiffany, and their young daughter set out from Phoenix last week for their drive back to Chicago, he tweeted along the way -- really giving a sense of how they made the trip into a journey. Follow along on Twitter @whoisjwright for the next step in his journey...we will be!

    Walk For Randy a Worthwhile Event

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    On Saturday, July 30, Northwestern is hosting the fourth-annual Walk for Randy to honor our former head football coach, Randy Walker, who died during the summer of 2006. The 5K Family Walk around the streets surrounding Ryan Field was started as way to remember Coach Walk through one of his favorite pastimes: walking for exercise through these very same neighborhoods.

    Sometimes on TV you'll hear disclaimers like "I am a non-attorney spokesman" or see the text "actor portrayal: not a real doctor." Though I'm a paid athletic communicator here at Northwestern, this blog entry has nothing to do with what I'm asked to write; it is a personal endorsement straight from my person.

    The Walk for Randy is a worthwhile event for you and your family!

    Why? Couple of reasons. First, this is a tremendously fitting tribute. Randy would walk to work, walk to lunch, walk for fun and walk for exercise. His wife, Tammy Walker, came to practice most days with their dog, Magic, in tow, and the three would often end the day by walking home together. The Walk for Randy is not simply a clever play on his last name; walking was a legitimate passion of his.

    The second reason is family. Nothing was more important to Coach Walker than his family. Each year, the Walk for Randy kicks off with Tammy and the family addressing the participants before leading the parade around the neighborhood as Grand Marshals.

    The best tribute to Coach Walker that we as fans and alums can make is not just the act of walking, it's in doing so with your family. Bring the kids, bring the strollers, bring the dogs and the neighbors, your pet goldfish in a bag of water, and spend a Saturday morning walking with the family. Shut off the phones, leave the iPods at home and just walk and talk. Enjoy each other!

    At the end of the day, this is a worthwhile weekend event for your family with fellow members of the Northwestern family. For all of the logistics on registering (there is a fee) and the perks you get (such as a ticket to the Nov. 12 game against Rice at Ryan Field), check out the official NUsports.com release.

    Have you participated in the Walk for Randy before? Tell us about it in the comments. We're looking forward to another great event on July 30 and we definitely want to share it with you and your family!!

    Numerous Former 'Cats Doing Well on the Diamond

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    Yesterday we updated fans on the progress of former Northwestern baseball standout Jake Goebbert who is performing well at Double-A for the Corpus Christi Hooks of the Houston Astros' organization. Goebbert isn't the only former NU player making his mark in professional ball, though, as four other Wildcats are also trying to work their way to the Big Leagues.

    We start off with George Kontos (2004-06) who is the most advanced of any former Northwestern player currently in Minor League Baseball. The right-handed pitcher is putting up impressive numbers for the New York Yankees' Triple-A affiliate, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. After being a Rule 5 Draft pick of the San Diego Padres in the off-season, Kontos was returned to the Yankees during Spring Training. He has appeared in 27 games this season and sports a 2-1 record with an impressive 2.26 ERA. Kontos is averaging more than a strikeout per inning, fanning 59 batters over 55.2 innings pitched while limiting opposing batters to a .200 average. Hopefully, Joe Girardi will have reason to call up a fellow former 'Cat to the Major League squad in the Bronx sometime in the near future.

    Another pitcher who is off to a good start this season is left-hander Eric Jokisch (2008-10). Playing just down the road from Evanston and just up the road from his hometown of Virginia, Jokisch sports a 7-2 record and a 3.24 ERA for the Chicago Cubs' Class A Midwest League affiliate the Peoria Chiefs. He was paired with another pitcher on the Chiefs' squad during the first half of the season and won each of his first seven decisions, all out of the bullpen. With the exception of one hiccup, Jokisch has performed well in his five appearances since being moved into the starting rotation. In three of the starts, he has not allowed an earned run with each of those appearances covering at least six innings.

    Joining Jokisch in the Cubs' organization is catcher Chad Noble (2007-10) who had been a bit of a nomad this season. The Rockwall, Texas, native has bounced around between the Peoria Chiefs, the Boise Hawks and currently the High A Daytona Cubs. Noble has appeared in 32 games overall between the three teams, with 20 coming for Daytona. Overall, he is batting .229 with 10 RBI while playing the most demanding position in baseball.

    Recent grad Chris Lashmet (2008-11) is the most recent Northwestern addition to the professional ranks. He recently joined the Class A State College Spikes of the Pittsburgh Pirates' organization. Lashmet has the rare opportunity to compete in a home stadium that he has already played at as the Spikes' facility is also home to the Penn State Nittany Lions in the spring. Splitting his time between first base and third base, Lashmet is batting .279 with two doubles, a home run and seven RBI in 18 games played.

    We'd be remiss if we didn't mention the one former Wildcat who is currently playing in the Majors as southpaw J.A. Happ (2002-04) is in his second season with the Houston Astros. Happ hasn't received much help from the struggling Astros squad. He has allowed two or fewer earned runs in a game seven times this season, but has just a 2-2 record in those contests. He has hit a rough patch, dropping his last seven decisions and is 3-11 overall this year with a 5.76 ERA. He tied a season high with eight strikeouts in just 5 2/3 innings pitched in his most recent outing against the Florida Marlins on July 7. Perhaps his highlight of the season came against the Arizona Diamondbacks on May 29 when he socked his first career home run.

    Former Wildcat Goebbert Shining in the Minors

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    Former Northwestern baseball standout Jake Goebbert (Hampshire, Ill./Hampshire) is climbing the charts through the Minor League Baseball ranks with the hopes of one day making it to the Big Show. Matt Rogers of the Corpus Christi Hooks provided NUsports.com with an update on Goebbert's progress.


    Let's make a distinction right off the bat.

     

    There are ball players and then there are ball players.

     

    Many ball players play ball from diapers to dentures, from neighborhood streets to slow-pitch softball diamonds with youth league-length base paths and pitching distances.

     

    A small percentage finds college ball, smaller yet pro ball and the big leagues.

     

    They are ball players because they play ball. That's it - pure and simple - from the last player jettisoned off his high school freshman team to some of the highest-paid and best-known athletes in the game.

     

    So, when Corpus Christi Caller-Times Hooks beat writer Greg Rajan muttered under his breath during a game early in the last homestand, "That Goebbert's a ball player," the weight of his statement wrapped itself around our shoulders like a humid August night on the west side of Whataburger Field.

     

    If Ted Williams' dream was to walk down the street and hear passersby say "there goes the greatest hitter who ever lived," it's no less noble for someone to be recognized as a ball player.

     

    But how do you define a ball player? What distinguishes him from ball players? Could it be as simple as attitude and hard work? Could it be that players who land on the self-made side of things are harder workers because they have grateful hearts?

     

    Yes.

     

    Jacob Goebbert grew up on a farm near Hampshire, Illinois. A Hook since May 6 - promoted from High-A Lancaster - he's not the most heralded prospect in the Houston system. Heck, he's not the most heralded prospect here. He is a good teammate, a considerate man, thoughtful in word and action.

     

    And an everyday player hitting .312.

     

    "Growing up I was never the best athlete. I never had the strongest arm and was never the fastest," Goebbert recalled. "But, I learned through life on the farm that you only get one shot. On the farm, you develop an attitude to give it your all. You learn to try to take advantage of every moment. Do your best every day; don't let yourself be taken out of the game.

     

    "I try to be a good teammate and play hard all the time."

     

    Hooks manager Tom Lawless calls Goebbert blue-collar, a grinder.

     

    Translation: ball player.

     

    Goebbert is unafraid to sacrifice his body at the convergence of wall, ball and warning track. He'll run through a stop sign if the play is in front of him, he has a decent look and the club desperately needs an extra base. He enjoys interacting with fans. He's insightful in postgame interviews, as good as any 23-year-old at breaking down wins and losses for a writer or broadcaster.

     

    And then it's over, ideally.

     

    "My wife (Heather) doesn't like the fact that I can so easily turn my emotions on and off. It's a game with a past, present and future. The only way you're going to limit your success in the future is to dwell on the past. That's something I'm still trying to get better at."

     

    Heather and Jacob met in high school, where he was a three-year varsity letterman in football, basketball and baseball. Coastal Bend football fans will appreciate his experience as a quarterback in the Wing-T, an offensive system born 60 years ago and not foreign to modern-day South Texas programs.

     

    Goebbert also played safety full-time.

     

    "My graduating class was 124, so we were pretty busy."

     

    "In high school, I loved Friday night football," he explained. "One game a week. Just one opportunity. But, baseball's always been my true love. I've always been the best at it."

     

    His parents were always Jacob's biggest supporters. He points to football coach Don Cavanaugh and baseball coach Steve Ream as strong influences along the way. Both men visit Corpus Christi this week to catch up with Jacob and Heather.


    But home - where the Goebberts operate an agritainment enterprise with a corn stalk maze, petting zoo, pumpkins and hayrides in the fall, vegetables in summer and annual and perennial flowers in the spring - is where the greatest lessons came.

     

    "There are a lot of things about farming that help in baseball," Goebbert emphasized. "The work is never over. You can stop when the sun goes down and start when it comes back up, but the work's never over.

     

    "I was in a position to see my dad and mom working side-by-side, every day. A farming family is a team. It takes a lot of teamwork to get the job done. It brings a sense of accomplishment, planting in the spring and the fall harvest.

     

    "You also learn to fail. There are the storms. What do you learn? Don't worry about the things you can't control and trust in God for His provision."

     

    That's not just the difference between a ball player and a ball player, but an indication of maturity well beyond the playing field.

     

    "It's important to realize what you have. I was not blessed with the most ability, but try to make the best of my situation. I have no regrets. I wouldn't change anything. It's important to look back and be grateful."

     

    Quite a ball player, that Jacob Goebbert.

     

     

     

     

     

    For more information on the Goebbert family business, go to pumpkinfarms.com

     

    NU Coaches Share More Than Just a Sideline

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    Congratulations are in order for two Northwestern head coaches, Kelly Amonte Hiller of women's lacrosse and Stephanie Foster of women's soccer. Foster and Amonte Hiller coach their teams from the same sideline at Lakeside Field -- with the former patrolling the field in the fall, the latter in the spring -- and are veritable next-door neighbors in their offices at Patten Gymnasium, but as of Monday there is a new bond that links the two coaches.

    Kelly and Stephanie each gave birth to baby girls on Monday, July 11, the second daughter for each of them.

    The newest addition to the Amonte Hiller family is Lew Hughes Hiller, checking in at six pounds, 11 ounces. Look for her to join big sister Harlee as a mainstay in the stands at Lakeside Field when the six-time national champion women's lacrosse program takes to the turf next spring.

    Stephanie welcomed Etta Mae Foster into the world at exactly eight pounds, adding to a family that includes children Charles and Xiah. Etta Mae was just one day late for being able to enjoy the thrilling win by the United States over Brazil in the Women's World Cup -- an exciting two days for the Foster family, to be sure!

    Congratulations once again to Kelly, Stephanie and their families and we look forward to seeing the whole crew at Lakeside Field when the seasons roll around!

    Welcome to the NUsports.com Blog!

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    Today we are announcing the start of a brand new feature here at NUsports.com: our very own blog! As we become more active in the social media landscape on both Twitter (@NU_Sports) and Facebook, we also are launching this blog to provide our friends, fans and alumni with a behind-the-scenes look at Northwestern Athletics.

    By using the category navigation on the right, you can see we began this centralized blog in the spring with the popular Schark Bytes series penned by rising junior softball student-athlete Kristin Scharkey. We've also added some of NUsports.com Special Contributor Skip Myslenski's work from spring ball (click the link for Skip's current complete archive). Both of those blogs will continue in this space, and future student-athlete efforts also will be housed here. We want to hear your voice as well, so be sure to comment on our entries and join the conversation!

    This week on NUsports.com, we are rolling out our 2011 fall schedules. Today, we released the men's soccer schedule. Volleyball will follow Tuesday, women's soccer on Wednesday, cross country on Thursday and field hockey on Friday. Schedules for men's and women's tennis along with men's and women's golf will come out next week. You can find the most up-to-date 2011 football schedule with kick off times for all September and October (a VERY rare treat at this point in the summer!) already posted at NUsports.com.

    We look forward to sharing information and insights with you through our new blog!

    Go 'CATS!