Katie Landgrebe is a sophomore on the Northwestern women's soccer team and the journalism major will give fans an inside look into the program with her blogs. Katie's first entry takes a look back at the Wildcats' spring soccer season that just wrapped up in early May.
The end of spring season is always a little bittersweet. We're closing the book on some fun contests with regional rivals but also stepping into our offseason preparation for our main Big Ten season in the fall. I personally love those summer months, preparing my body to tackle preseason, setting goals for what we will accomplish in the fall and anticipating the memories we will make as we take the field on Chicago Friday nights. That said, spring season is a great time to put to work all of the things we focus on in the winter offseason and is always a time of growth for our team. This spring season was no exception.
Our first weekend back from spring break we played two games against University of Wisconsin-Parkside and Valparaiso and brought home a win and a tie. It was an uncharacteristically warm Saturday in April and playing on Lakeside Field for the first time in six months was awesome. (And also reminded us why we work so hard on fitness in the fall; that 120x76 yard field can really take it out of you.) Against Loyola we played some of the best possession soccer that I've ever seen out of our team and picked up a tie. In a matchup with our Big Ten rival Wisconsin, we brought home a 1-0 win and generated many promising attacks, which has been the focus of much of our training in the past few months.
The wins and ties this spring, understandably, make up many of the highlights of the past month. Despite that, I think that we collected some of our best learning in the losses we've had, displaying one of the reasons I believe spring season is so integral to collegiate programs: that because these games don't matter for conference wins and losses, we can try new things and work on our weaknesses in a highly competitive game environment without too much pressure. Our team did just that, learning against Marquette that our team organization against a great possession team needs to be better. We collected one of our hardest lessons late in the spring season against DePaul when we were out-worked and didn't compete with a full team effort.
The DePaul loss was a hard one to stomach and is still a fresh wound for many of us, but I think it presents one of the greatest opportunities for growth that our team has ever received. After the game we talked about how disappointing it is to have great trainings and see real progress, then not have it translate in a game situation. We talked about perseverance and focus, communication and attitude. Every team, at every level, works to put together a complete performance, harmonizing all of the technical and mental aspects of the game, each time they step on the field. Our team talked about how we need to expect that out of ourselves every single time we take the field too, that anything less is not an acceptable way to represent the Northwestern name or ourselves. Again, a bittersweet way to end the spring, but one that presents hope for even more growth in the months to come and holds a quiet current of expectation for how it will all come together in the fall.
For me, a lot of things came together this spring season soccer-wise, and it ended up being one of the periods when I've most enjoyed playing at Northwestern. I learned about how important it is to identify areas of weakness in your play and then what it looks like to put in time and thought that is focused on combating those problems. I've begun to have this thought process that revolves around rejecting doing things half-heartedly and focuses on committing to things fully and doing them out of passion and love. My relationship with soccer has definitely not always been this way, and this spring was one of the first times in college that I have tackled things on the soccer field out of a genuine desire to fulfill what I've begun to see as a very worthy commitment in my life. Not that I've viewed soccer as some sort of side-job in the past year, but I've become much more aware that this is an opportunity I don't want to see pass by without knowing that I did all I could to get better at soccer, serve my teammates and have fun playing. Like most things, this way of thinking is a work in progress, imperfect and not always acted out, but it's been pretty transformative in how I approach playing soccer (and living life!).
Northwestern junior field hockey member Nikki
Parsley wraps up her experience playing for the United States at the Four
Nations Tournament in New Zealand.
Since my last game in
New Zealand, I have spent over 24 hours traveling, taken three flights, and
slept only eight hours in the last two nights combined. The good news is:
I am finally home in Evanston.
But, before I said my
final farewell to Kiwiland and since my last blog, we wrapped up the second
Four Nations tournament. During our seventh game of the trip we played
Argentina again. The match ended in a 1-1 draw, which qualified us for the
bronze medal game against Korea. Previously we had beaten them 2-1 and lost 4-1.
In my opinion, this
was the most exciting game of the tournament for us. Not only did we end up
winning 1-0, but we were finally able to execute the majority of our pregame
plan. Throughout the eight games, we spent countless hours talking about
adjustments we needed to make on and off the field in order to produce more
wins. It was amazing to see all of the time spent watching film and
studying our opponent's pay off, because hard work does not always guarantee
success. However, throughout each game we made significant improvements, and by
the end of the tour we finished better than we started.
Over the last few
days, I have had a lot of time to talk with others and privately reminisce on
my first tour with the National team. I have determined that even if I had time
to write a book, I could not properly articulate the uniqueness of my trip.
This is most likely due to the wide array of emotions I felt on a daily, and
sometimes hourly basis. I have never experienced so many highs and lows in such
a short amount of time. Additionally, having
the chance to turn one of my lifelong dreams (i.e. competing for my country)
into reality is still a bit surreal.
like other tours I have went on, it has been somewhat difficult to make the
transition back into "regular" life. Even though I am unbelievably excited to
be home and surrounded by my best friends and teammates again, I often find
myself sidetracked by thoughts of the trip. Because this tour has the
potential to greatly impact my future, it is easy to overanalyze the
experience. Consequently, my current challenge is to put my blinders on and
move full speed ahead, trusting that I left everything on the field in New
"I don't mean to say that I have
already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I
press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed
me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on
this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,
I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly
prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us." -Philippians 3:
Northwestern junior Nikki Parsley is
currently competing for Team USA at the Four Nations Tournament in New Zealand.
As her journey winds to a close, she checks in with another update.
On the 22nd
day of my trip "I Love It" by Icona Pop routinely flooded my ears. As the alarm
sounded, I half consciously rolled out of bed, and noted that my legs ached,
but only dully.This was progress,
because over the past few days my body had pleaded, on more than one occasion,
that I stop the madness.
While I have
certainly pushed myself physically throughout my field hockey career at
Northwestern, playing at the international level requires a new level of
fitness entirely. I have observed throughout the tournament that all of the top
players in the world share something special in common: they are comfortable
being uncomfortable. Even when they walk off the pitch after a 70-minute match,
they never show signs of discomfort. While I realize that these women are all
in unbelievable shape, I think that this is more of a mental skill than
physical ability. This is an attitude that I desire to possess. In fact, this
is a mentality I must possess to have success at this level. I am learning that
the internal drive to push boundaries is one of the most powerful tools I can
add to my arsenal.
As I spent a significant amount of reflecting on this
newfound understanding, I was reminded of a scene from "A League of Their Own."
As cheesy as recalling this may be, it is the best way I can convey my
Jimmy Dugan: Dottie, if you want to go back to
Oregon and make a hundred babies, great, I'm in no position to tell anyone how
to live. But sneaking out like this, quitting, you'll regret it for the rest of
your life. Baseball is what gets inside you. It's
what lights you up, you can't deny that.
supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what
makes it great.
Calling international field hockey challenging is an
understatement. But, Jimmy Dugan said it precisely: the hard is what makes it
great. The hard pushes me to get up and fight through a mistake I have made too
many times. The hard challenges me to make one more recovery sprint at the end
of game eight. The hard is what fuels my desire to relentlessly chase the
people at the top of the game.
I am convinced that I have yet to fully comprehend all that
this trip has set in motion. I know that I am on the verge of something. Is it
success or failure? This I do not know, but of something else I am certain - "I
am ready to risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is
wise, and dream more than others think is practical." This trip has reaffirmed
my desire to make the national team and eventually represent my country at the
Olympics. I am unbelievably thankful for this tour, because I now have a better
understanding of what it takes to get where I want to go.
I was going through the post-game high-fives with Tennessee this weekend in
Palm Springs, I noticed a familiar face perched on the grass hill down the
right field line. She was all decked out in her USSSA Pride gear, but I'd know
her silhouette anywhere. It wasn't too long ago that I stepped on campus as a
freshman 3,000 miles away from home, and Lauren Lappin was our volunteer
Editor's Note: Northwestern women's swimmers Jackie Powell and Megan Goss spearheaded the inaugural "Breaststroke4BreastCancer" relay to raise funds for local cancer research. In an incredible display of support and organizational prowess, the first-time event filled 17 lanes at NU's Norris Aquatics Center with more than 150 swimmers who combined to tally 70,000 yards (or 39 miles) of swimming in just one hour. NU's Beta Fraternity won a trophy with the most total yards: 5,350.In addition, special guest Joan Zielinski, a Northwestern professor and invitee of Wildcats' junior swimmer Becca Soderholm, shared her experience with breast cancer with the crowd during a fun, education and powerful evening. Read on for Kristin Scharkey's perspective on how much the event meant to her team and one softball Wildcat in particular.
October 24, dozens of Northwestern student-athletes swam in Northwestern Women's
Swimming and Diving's fundraiser "Breaststroke4BreastCancer." Our own team swam
over 4,000 yards in one hour, raising money for breast cancer research and
contributing to the university's final total in which the swimming program more
than doubled their target goal.
These were all words I had both heard and used countless times while competing for an internship with Under Armour. Over the years I had followed the company's impressive growth, witnessed the "in-your-face" advertising, and was shocked alongside the rest of the country by their fearless uniform designs. Yet despite all of this, nothing could prepare me for what I would experience first-hand when I arrived in the city of Baltimore.
"This isn't like all those other internships. You won't be getting anyone coffee here." This line has practically become a cliché in the world of internships, and every college student looking for work in the summertime has heard it before. Little did I know that when it came to Under Armour, this "line" doesn't just hold true- it is an incredible understatement.
From the moment I stepped foot on UA headquarters, I was on the go. As an intern in the digital marketing department, I was constantly reminded, "Social media never sleeps, Dayana;" quickly, I realized I wouldn't be doing much sleeping either. I was (literally) sprinting from meeting to meeting across headquarters, interviewing the brand's professional athletes, and working at sporting events around the country. Already, I was beginning to note the striking similarities between life at Under Armour and at Northwestern.
Oftentimes people say that what one learns in school is useless in the workplace. I would be lying if I said the thought hadn't crossed my mind during one of my numerous all-nighters throughout the school year. However, during this internship it became clear to me that my experiences as a Northwestern student-athlete had more than prepared me for my workplace. Considering the unforgiving quarter system, grueling schedules, and multiple cross-campus practices a day, my adjustment wasn't a drastic one.
Throughout the summer, the similarities proved endless. As I got to know the company's culture, I began to realize more and more what an incredibly cohesive relationship was being formed between Under Armour and Northwestern. Both ends live and breathe their values of teamwork, determination and excellence. Both ends are seen as the underdogs, yet continue to work relentlessly. Both Under Armour and Northwestern don't just demand respect... they are willing to fight for it.
Naturally, I was hungry for any Northwestern-related information I could find. I spent any free-time I had badgering the on-field design teams and ooh-ing and ahh-ing over new uniforms and gear. I not-so-casually invited myself to the video shoot for the uniform teaser, where I would stand in a corner attempting to exude professionalism, while I jumped up and down squealing on the inside. It continuously blew my mind the amount of authenticity and attention to detail Under Armour dedicated to anything Northwestern-related.
On the day of the football uniform reveal, fellow Wildcat and ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell first broke the news. Immediately following, my fellow digital marketing interns and I were given the responsibility of pushing the unveiled designs over social media. I watched the very collages I had put together that morning spread like wildfire over the internet- whether it was my favorite sports blog or my friend's Facebook page, the Northwestern stripe was now everywhere.
Never have I seen such incredibly positive feedback. It didn't matter what critics thought... amongst the Northwestern community, the excitement was undeniable. It became obvious to everyone that Under Armour and Northwestern would serve as a catalyst for one another, immediately catapulting this new partnership to the forefront of collegiate athletics.
That was when it really hit me. Under Armour didn't just design our uniforms; Under Armour had brought to life the grit, determination, and unbeatable quality our athletes represent everyday. The "stripe" isn't just something aesthetically pleasing, a design to wear on our chests; the stripe is something tangible to get behind, something that is only ours, and something that embodies the Northwestern spirit proudly for everyone to recognize. If there is one thing I learned from my summer experience, it's this: Under Armour and Northwestern did not simply form a new business arrangement. Under Armour and Northwestern have come together to begin a complete and total movement... and this movement begins with reclaiming the stripe.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Northwestern softball rising senior Kristin
Scharkey submitted this piece as her final project in a spring quarter Medill
School of Journalism course. We publish it here on her independent NUsports.com
blog, Schark Bytes, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Title IX.
Cassell is dressed in all black, accentuating the paleness of legs that have
been hidden under shin guards for most of her life. She works diligently on the
Northwestern University turf field with two other goalkeepers on the Wildcats'
women's soccer team; juggling and taking rep after rep of shots on goal. The
blonde-haired freshman started playing soccer when she was four-years-old, and
she hasn't stopped since.
on a scholarship here, and the fact that I can play the sport I love and pay
for my college [tuition] that way is really lucky," Cassell says.
I catch this bit of Cassell's practice before
heading over to my own on the neighboring field. Our two teams often practice
side-by-side on our respective fields like this in the spring, and I can't help
but wonder if the opportunity we have is really luck like Cassell says.
past weekend on June 23 marked the 40th anniversary of Title IX, the
legislation that paved the way for thousands of female athletes to have the
opportunity to play college sports. Today more than 190,000 female athletes
compete at the Division I level, according to data released by the NCAA in
2011. At the birth of Title IX, only one in 25 girls played sports. Now, it is
one in three. Perhaps it has not been luck but the work of generations of women
who have fought for equality in collegiate athletics.
Editor's Note: The original
version of this blog was submitted for publication in Softball Magazine. It is reprinted here today in honor of
Northwestern's Senior Weekend, which begins at 2 p.m. CT Friday, May 11, 2012, against Illinois at Sharon J. Drysdale Field. The three member senior class will be honored prior to Saturday's 1 p.m. CT series finale.
soon as Adrienne Monka was old enough to attend preschool, her mother excitedly
dressed her up with a bow in her hair and sent her off.
the end of the day, when she arrived to pick her daughter up, Elba Monka found
that her preciously placed bow was gone from Adrienne's head and instead, lay
in her cubby. When the preschooler explained that it had simply fallen off, her
mother thought nothing of it and sent her back the next day with the bow firmly
fastened atop her head. Come pick-up time, however, it was again found lying
lonely in the cubby.
Editor's Note: Northwestern
will honor Katie Crandol prior to its noon CT first pitch Sunday, April 29,
when it takes on Ohio State in a Big Ten doubleheader at Sharon J. Drysdale
first time I met Katie Crandol, it was a sunny Saturday afternoon after our
annual open practice. A 16-year-old cancer survivor and aspiring college
softball player, Katie and her family had become the newest additions to our
team through the Friends of Jaclyn program. As we shared a meal and exchanged
stories about our season and their journey, it was apparent to each and every
one of us that we were blessed with the opportunity to get know to someone with
such a unique perspective on not only softball but also life itself.
It's been a busy and exciting time for Northwestern fencing! With the Winter quarter finishing up, so is our season, and everyone can quickly feel the escalation leading up to NCAA Nationals over Spring break.
Last weekend, we traveled back to NYC for one more go at some of the best teams in the country. In my last post I promised some exciting news and hopefully some hardware, and I can happily say that I kept that promise!
The foil and saber squads secured bronze medals and the epee squad fought their way to silver, helping Northwestern finish second in overall team standings. With wins over teams such as St. John's, Columbia and Penn, it was a great morale boost heading into the three most important weekends of our season. But with such a whirlwind trip and not getting back to campus until past midnight on Sunday... it was clear that the 'Cats needed some R & R before getting back into to the gym.
Have you guys not learned by now that if you pass out, I WILL take a picture of you? Also, shout out to the nice old man who let Kendrick take a catnap on his shoulder.
We spent the week training hard, but keeping it light-hearted as well. It's easy to get caught up in the intensity of post-season action. I know I want to enjoy every moment of the rest of this amazing season, and stressing out never helps! This week we also finished up one of the best fencing clinics we've ever had. Seeing such a fun and lively group of kids get so excited about the sport of fencing really reminds us all why we're here in the first place. Thank you to all the kids for coming out and being so great- I can honestly say we learn from them just as much as they learn from us.
We're loading up the bus and heading out to Notre Dame for the Midwest Fencing Conference Championships, which is sure to be a jam-packed and high-intensity weekend. Saturday is the individual event, while Sunday our squads will duke it out with the best of the conference to hopefully bring home some titles. Follow along on twitter @NCatFencing, and check back for my recap next weekend!
After finishing up the regular season with NU Duals, most of the team enjoyed a relaxing weekend off at home in Evanston. However, six of our freshmen stayed on their grind and traveled to Salt Lake City for the Junior Olympic Fencing Championships! Since my weekend consisted of an extended Always Sunny marathon and staring bewilderedly at my biogeography homework, I thought I'd hand over the blogging reigns for this post. Check out foilist Mary Spohn's recap of the freshmen's exciting weekend out West!
Salt Lake City, Utah: Home of Skiing, Mormons, and... fencing? Yes, fencing. On February 16th, Sarah Bruhl and I departed from Patten Gym at 3:30 in the morning to make the trip to JOs. Upon arrival, we persuaded our coach to allow a quick nap (translation: 3 hours), got our equipment checked, and prepared for competition the next day. The competition on Friday was exciting and proved to have many ups and downs. In the end, I finished 52nd and Sarah finished 69th, out of a field of 141 fencers.
The next day our epee 'Cats competed, and once again freshman Courtney Dumas earned some hardware with an impressive 8th-place finish! Freshman Rose Semmel followed in 22nd, and Sonali Patel in 74th, out of a strong field of 151 fencers. Claire Carson, our only representing Sabre fencer, drew a difficult first round, but fenced well and showed a good fight. Then, in perhaps what was the highlight of the trip, our epee squad proved its dominance by tearing through the competition in the epee team event. The girls fought all the way to a Bronze medal for the 'Cats!
All in all, I would say that it was a solid weekend of fencing for the freshmen 'Cats in Salt Lake City. Even better was the support all my teammates displayed, cheering each other on in between bouts. We also had the pleasure of seeing our future Wildcat teammates, all decked out in Northwestern gear already (little do they know they will soon be spending the majority of their lives in purple...). The soon-to-be 'Cats finished with strong results as well and cheered us on every step of the way. While it was a memorable weekend and we were sad to leave the sunny weather and scenic view of the mountains, we are glad to be back on campus and preparing for our final competitions of the year!
We're all extremely proud of our freshmen and future Wildcats for representing Northwestern so well this weekend! And while breaks are nice, I know I'm already itching to get back out on the strip. This Saturday, our travel squads will be heading back to New York City to compete in the National Squad Championships- a relay style tournament with the best of the best in attendance. It's sure to be an extremely intense weekend, so check back next week for what I predict to be some exciting results!
you know Michelle Batts, you know that she's one of the most outgoing,
charismatic people you'll ever meet. She's the life of the party and thrives in
social situations; and on the field, her bat talks just as loudly as her
First and foremost, I want to apologize for my lack of recent bloggage. It's been a hectic time as we've been in the process of closing out our regular season. In addition, it didn't help that my laptop had a showdown with the pavement of Sheridan Rd. (pavement won, unfortunately). But as my coaches have always taught me- "no excuses, just results" and luckily, I have plentyyyyyy of results to share with everyone as well!
Our regular season dual meets closed out with the 'Cats finally getting to stay a little closer to home. First, we traveled to the always-lovely town of South Bend, Indiana to compete in the Notre Dame Duals. The day began on a high note and stayed that way, as we worked our way through 8 straight wins over teams such as Lawrence, Florida, Iowa, and Wayne State. It was then time for the match-up of the day: Northwestern vs. the defending national champions- Notre Dame.
Due to the recent addition of NCAA fencing to ESPN broadcasting, it was decided that the match would be filmed as a promotional segment for March's NCAA National Championships. With one of the biggest crowds we've ever fenced for in attendance, we took on the Irish one squad at a time. The Sabre squad fell to the Irish with a score of 1-8, but the Foil squad brought back momentum by defeating their top-ranked foil squad with a score of 5-4. Epée fought hard next, but ultimately a 4-5 loss gave the Irish an overall 17-10 win.
Some great video footage of each squad's match can be seen on the Notre Dame Athletics website here.
The last couple of weekends we've enjoyed the luxury of back-to-back home meets- a great feeling after five consecutive weeks on the road. Being able to fence on campus and in front of our friends and family is always an awesome experience. The installments of the NU Duals didn't disappoint- a 15-2 finish for the 'Cats, Coach Laurie picking up his 1,100th win in the process, and of course our traditional Senior Recognition ceremony. So much excitement just reminded again me how truly special it is be a part of this team. Congratulations to Coach, and special thank you to everyone that came out to support us!
We've officially wrapped up the regular season, and are looking forward to two weekends of fun competition before the chaos of postseason action picks up in March. I know this team has great things in store for Conference Championships, Regionals, and NCAA Nationals- thank you for following along!
P.S.- To Juice Thompson, if you're reading this right now- our girl Tina Umanskiy wants to know if you'd like to be her Valentine this year....? Thanks!
I could've somehow frozen that moment in between fly balls, I would've. That
moment when I stood in centerfield and gazed around at the rest of my teammates
scattered throughout the field in front of me. That moment when I could turn my
head and see smiling fans to my right and smiling fans to my left, dozens
decked out in purple and wearing the same logo across their chest as was across
The team has just wrapped up one of our busiest and most important weekends of the season. On Saturday we faced six schools at the Philadelphia Invitational, and on Sunday we went up against six more at the New York University Invitational. Although this was only week three, I already feel as if we've completed a huge piece of the season, and I'm sure my teammates would agree with me.
Our trip started out early Friday afternoon. Thanks to the blizzard Chicago was hit with that morning, we were held up on the runway for quite some time. The optimistic and dedicated 'Cats decided to use the delay as a chance to put the "student" in student-athlete:
After a relatively short flight, we were finally on the east coast. Arriving in Philadelphia was a lot like arriving in Hawaii, except it was the exact opposite. After what I can only hope was not the scenic route to our hotel, we settled in at The Inn at Penn. Every year we stay at this hotel, and it has quickly become one of our favorites. The rooms are amazing, the people are super friendly, and the breakfast actually inspires me to wake up earlier than seven minutes before our scheduled departure time. This year they even added an iPad to each of our rooms, which was perfect for playing 20 games of Temple Run reviewing some film before turning in for the night.
We started the competitive weekend off on a high note, cruising through North Carolina, NJIT, Drew and Cornell. Our first challenge presented itself when we faced the host school, University of Pennsylvania. We found ourselves down 12-11 (14 bouts are needed to win a match). It had been a while since we felt that kind of pressure to pull out a win, which was evident when our infamous fencing screaming (which I think caught our new trainer, John, a little off guard) immediately filled up the room. Thankfully, a late win from the foil squad and last-round sweep by epée propelled us to a hard fought 15-12 victory.
The Dream Team: Coach Ed Kaihatsu, Manager Dan Oh and Trainer John Lee
Our next challenge presented itself in an old rival- Temple University. Each squad knew that this would be our biggest challenge of the day, as Temple is stacked in each weapon. True to prediction, we found ourselves tied at 13-13, with one last epee bout as the deciding factor. Unfortunately, a hard fought bout did not turn in our favor, and the 'we were handed our first loss of the season.
Next on the itinerary was the trip to New York City. Along the way, the Cats made a pit stop in New Jersey at foilist Becky Grohman's house. Her parents were nice enough to host us for a wonderful dinner, and I'd like to extend a special thank you to them on behalf of the whole team.
The next day was one full of highs and lows as well. The team started the day with back-to-back wins against Yale and a tough Wayne State team, but experienced déjà vu of the previous day with a close 13-14 loss to Columbia, and 12-15 loss to Ohio State. The day finished strong, however, with a dominant 21-6 win over host school NYU, and the Cats were finally on our way home from the longest weekend of the season.
"Girls focus, don't stick out your tongues."
While we may have hoped for better results from the weekend, I have to say that the volume levels during our matches rivaled most sporting events I've attended. I can't express how proud I am of the team for supporting each other with such intensity. I'm especially proud of our freshmen starters- Claire Carson, Courtney Dumas, and Sonali Patel -for being forces to be reckoned with already. Anyone can head back to practice and work out technical mistakes, but the passion I witnessed from my teammates this weekend is something that can never be taught in a gym.
I apologize for the lengthy post- I had a lot of ground to cover with back-to-back meets! After a day off, we're back at it and excited to be training for the upcoming Notre Dame duals. I hope everyone is having a wonderful week, and of course, go 'Cats!
PS- Update: Apparently freshman Tina Umanskiy changed her twitter name following my last post, but never fear- @UtheMANskiy (idk... I guess she thinks it's clever?)
I hope everyone has had a wonderful start to 2012! As I've said before, I'm so excited to keep everyone updated on the team's doings, and I truly appreciate (most) feedback I've received from the first post. I was told that I sounded like I "wanted to beat someone up" in my last post (which I must argue, comes with the job description of being a fencer), so I promise to keep this one a bit lighter. I was also told that I should start bullet-pointing my posts so that they're easier to read, to which I must say, Ian Farr... are you 8 years old? Moving on.
The beginning of the year has been extremely busy for the team, with non-stop training, traveling, and competing. We opened the season with a trip to Air Force for our first dual meet, and then this past weekend some 'Cats ventured a little farther west to Portland for a Division 1 North American Cup, which I'll recap later on.
And while the chaos has taken its toll on us all....
The hard work is paying off already!
At Air Force, the Wildcats defeated schools such as Stanford, Cal Tech and Florida to finish the day undefeated against six teams. Overall, the team won 153 of the 162 bouts of the day and went on to become the Western Invitational Champs. It was great witnessing everyone reach their individual goals, and an awesome note to start the season off on as a team!
Typically, our first meet of the season is somewhere in California, so I was a bit salty to travel to a city (Colorado Springs, CO) arguably colder than Chicago. However, witnessing the plethora of rules and super strict culture at Air Force Academy opened my eyes to how much freedom I do have fencing for Northwestern, for which I am eternally grateful. (Shout-out to the coaches for letting our multiple self-granted water breaks at practice slide, truly 'preciate ya)
This past weekend, a handful of 'Cats traveled to Portland, Oregon, for the Division 1 North American Cup. Upon arriving in the city, it was clear to me that I could throw a rock in the air and it would hit at least five disgruntled hipsters on its way down, so naturally Devynn Patterson was back in her element. I made the long trip out West with Dev and Camille Provencal, two fine ladies who have been forced to endure my company around the clock for the past two-plus years. It was nice to have some time to explore the city and we even make a stop at the Food Network famous Voodoo Doughnuts!
Seven of us 'Cats competed this weekend in Portland. Although the tournament is non-collegiate, everyone was excited to get back on the strip, though perhaps a bit disappointed in our overall results.
Post-competition, I received some great advice from a wise reader: "You can't let one thing beat you twice." Competing at such a high level provided us with great practice for the upcoming matches we have, and allowed us to get in some high-quality bouts with girls we are sure to face in the near future in collegiate play, so I'm confident that the team will only grow and learn from the experience.
This upcoming weekend, we're bracing ourselves for a marathon of fencing- Philadelphia Invitational on Saturday, then on to the New York Invitational on Sunday. Needless to say, we've become regulars at O'Hare once again and I'm beginning to feel a little like Tom Hanks' character in the Terminal, but I wouldn't have it any other way (the frequent flier miles don't hurt, either). I've seen what this team is capable of, and I know that we can't wait to prove ourselves against some of the absolute top competition in the country this weekend.
Thanks so much for following us along our season, and of course, go 'Cats!
PS- Be sure to follow the team on Twitter! @NCatFencing
PPS- Follow foilist Tina Umanskiy (@tweena11) as well, if you're into the excessive ramblings of an angsty freshman (you're welcome, teenie).
Countless times I've heard this statement thrown my way, the
sender usually laughing absentmindedly and possessing no remorse for the
discouraging words they've hit me with. Growing up, I was quick to retort with a
carefully calculated comeback. I could hope to impress them with facts ("a
fencer's sword is the fastest moving
object in sports after a bullet!") or hit them with some history ("fencing is
one of only four original Olympic
sports!"), but usually it was to no avail. I learned to sit back and play it
cool as my life's passion was turned into a mockery for the sake of
Perhaps the hardest pill to swallow when basing your life
around a sport that receives little to no attention on the collegiate level is
the feeling of wasted passion. Completing your tenth practice of the week, jetting
back and forth between continents, and finishing schoolwork on the side is no
easy feat; it is also never one fencers demand credit for. However, one cannot
help but feel a certain sting when told that all this hard work is for
something silly and trivial, something that can be mocked, and something that
is not even considered a "real sport."
The overall experience of competing in an often-unrecognized
sport led me to think about sportsmanship and athleticism in general. Who gets
to decide which sport is "real" and which is "fake"? Who has the authority to
call one person an athlete, but deny that title to another? And finally, what
is truly the makeup of a real athlete? I observe my teammates day in and day
out, and am constantly inspired by their determination and work ethic. Watching
such an outstanding group of girls over the last couple years has made me truly
recognize what athleticism is at its best.
It's getting one more workout in when you're already tired
and falling apart. It's staying after practice because you know going the extra
mile will ultimately pay off in the end. It's meetings with coaches, watching
film, and taking endless amounts of notes. It's spending every waking moment
with your teammates, and knowing you can count on them just like they count on
you- both inside and outside of the gym. It's the unparalleled feeling of life
that will elevate any athlete, no matter how many people are in the stands,
when given the chance to finally compete and prove yourself.
In the end it's living and breathing your sport and devoting
yourself to something that becomes a part of you. This is an experience any
athlete can relate to, regardless of the sport that they have dedicated their
lives to. Most importantly, it is knowing that while the work may seem painful
and endless, the reward is greater than anything every imaginable.
I'm truly blessed to be surrounded by a team that is the
epitome of athleticism. It's been a busy first week back, full of workouts,
yoga, practice and a Purple and White meet. Soon, we'll be on our way to the
first meet of the regular season at Air Force [Saturday, Jan. 7]. For the past
six years, Northwestern Fencing has been unbeaten in season-opening dual meets-
a tradition we fully intend on continuing with the six teams we face this
Thank you for following us along on our journey, and I'm so
excited to keep everyone updated all season long!
Editors note: Last weekend, the B1G Mobile Tour came to Northwestern to showcase the new Stagg-Paterno Big Ten Championship Trophy and help spread the word about the conference's new Legends and Leaders division names. Kristin Scharkey served as our blogger for the Tour, finishing her experience with a final blog entry about what Honoring Legends, Building Leaders means to Northwestern student-athletes. Read the entire entry and watch a video on the B1G Mobile Tour blog featuring many of NU's most successful student-athletes as they share what competing in the B1G Conference means to them.
'Cats fans! This week I got to sit down with Assistant Director of Sports
Jorgensen, the newest addition to our sports
performance team and Northwestern Softball's personal coach! We've
already had three great weeks of work with Tyler and are looking forward to
what we will accomplish with him over the next year!
It has been a crazy past two weeks of field hockey for the 'Cats! After losing to Indiana for our first Big Ten match of the season, we beat then #7 UNH two days later--giving me family bragging rights because my sister starts for them. This past weekend, we defeated Michigan State in the pouring rain 3-0 and then drove to Penn State. After coming back from being down 2 goals at halftime, we lost in a heartbreaking overtime. We hope to see Penn State and Indiana again in the Big Ten Tournament!
years ago, I was a freshman in the dorms and field hockey sensation Chelsea
Armstrong was an Australian transfer student who just happened to live next
door. Her roommate was my best friend and teammate so I frequented their room
often, many times only catching little bits of conversation with Chelsea before
she ran off to one of her legendary late-night study sessions in the library.
Her accent garnered a slew of hall-wide fans; a number that vastly increased
when everyone figured out just how tremendous she was on the field. It became
normal for floor mates to cover Chelsea's door in newspaper clippings that
heralded her performances.
November 2009, Chun was the runner-up at the tournament's inauguration, which
earned him the right to qualify for the 2010 British Open at the International
Final Qualifying Stage. There, the senior shot rounds of 67-71 and sank a
6-foot birdie putt on the final hole to land a spot in his first Major
Championship at legendary St. Andrews.
In my first season here at Northwestern in 2008, one of our first road trips was to the University of Maryland, not far from my hometown. That year, my parents hosted our team for dinner, which consisted of a wonderful spread of food highlighted by a crab feast. Four years later, our team returned to Maryland, and also to my house, on a weekend that coincided with my birthday. It is ironic that we happened to be playing in my hometown when I turned 18 and then again when I turned 21. My 21st birthday may have been celebrated much differently than most, but I will take our wins over American University and Ball State, a crab feast and spending time with my teammates, their families and my coaches at my house any day.
In conjunction with last week's Paint Evanston Purple festivities, as well as Evanston Day at Ryan Field last Saturday, Northwestern football players took to three local elementary schools--St. Athanasius, Lincolnwood, and Kingley--to participate in the 'Cats in the Classroom initiative.
Sophomore punter Brandon Williams took time out to detail the Wildcats' visit to St. A's which is located just one block away from Ryan Field.
told about an opportunity to share with grade school age students at St.
Athanasius, five of my teammates and I were eager to sign up. To be honest, we
expected to be sharing to a smaller group of maybe 30 or 50 students so you can
imagine our surprise when finding out that we were to be a large part of the
school's first yearly assembly. At first, no one was sure about talking to more
like 350 students, but once we arrived at St. A's, we realized we were in good
Castagna, the principal, invited us into her office when we arrived at the
school after a short walk down Ashland Avenue from Ryan Field. None of us had
been called to the principal's office in years, but after some jokes about us
being in trouble, we were introduced to what would be happening in the
Castagna shared with us the school's theme this year of, "Called to Learn, Love
and Lead," something that resounded with each one of us as members not only of
the Northwestern football team, but also as students at a prestigious academic
institution. We have understood this idea from the moment we stepped foot in
Evanston knowing that learning takes priority over our athletic careers, but
also that learning is not limited to merely academic knowledge, but also
includes our social lives. Learning to love over 100 teammates as a family and
learning to lead, not only on the field but also in the community. It's safe to
say we have learned a lot.
Budzien, Jake Gregus, Pat Hickey, Chris Gradone, Steve Flaherty and I took our
seats in the front of the gymnasium as the students poured in. Ranging from
kindergarteners to eighth graders and arranged by age, they slowly filled the
basketball court from front to back. Mrs. Castagna kicked off the assembly by
introducing the year's theme and welcomed the students. The student council
then asked us questions about aspects of being part of a team. We were able to
share with them everything from how we balance school and athletics, to how we
deal with issues within our team. The students listened attentively and, after
the student council finished with their list of questions, eagerly asked us
about our positions on the team and about how much we could bench press. Since
two of us are punters, two more kickers and a long snapper, we allowed Jake
Gregus (a defensive end) to answer and his response of 350 pounds, resulted in
the loudest applause of the day.
shared with the students, we were able to spend time autographing posters for
them and talking to some of the faculty. We were excited to learn about the
football game being played on Ryan Field directly following our game against
Eastern Illinois this upcoming Saturday between St. A's and Wilmette Catholic.
The game was all part of Evanston Day, Saturday, Sept. 10, which is all part of the larger Paint
Evanston Purple campaign
that included a pep rally on Thursday and participation from numerous Evanston
from the city of Evanston towards Northwestern Athletics is something that not
only is appreciated, but something that is needed. We are so lucky to be in a
city like Evanston where we are supported and being able to step out of the
bubble of college football to share with grade school children about something
bigger than athletics is something that we all were excited to be able to do.
We realize the importance of our being actively involved in the community and
that our participation could never come close the support we've felt from the
community towards us. The 'Cats in the Classroom program, which is in conjunction
with the Paint Evanston Purple campaign, is just one way that we are able to give back to
the community that we have been blessed to receive so much from. We appreciate
every opportunity to be a part of this amazing town and look forward to seeing
everyone at Ryan Field.
have a new group of National Pro Fastpitch Champions.
former Wildcats Robin Thompson and Tammy Williams are among the heralded.
Sunday, Aug. 21, the Chicago Bandits beat the USSSA Florida Pride 10-3 in the
second game of a best-of-three series to win their second postseason title in
franchise history. Williams went 1-for-4 at the plate and scored a run, while
Thompson also scored after being inserted into the game to pinch run. Former
Northwestern softball coach Lauren Lappin also played second base in the game
for the Pride squad.
Just 10 days away from our opening game against Kent State, the 'Cats field hockey team is starting its second week of preseason. With a young squad this year, we have had intense practices and workouts to get everyone ready for a challenging season.
My name is Kaylee Pohlmeyer, and I am No. 19 for the Wildcats. This fall will be my senior season at Northwestern, something I have been looking forward to for a long time! But it's going to be much different than I expected, for I am playing a role on the team that still hasn't sunk in quite yet. Name a position, and I have most likely played it: defense as a freshman, midfield as a sophomore, and a mix of midfield and forward as a junior. But as it turns out, I have found myself in a new position for my senior season, and that is on the sidelines.
Hello from Findlay,
Ohio! I have left the big city of Evanston for the summer for an
engineering internship with Marathon Petroleum Company LP (Marathon Oil
Corporation and Marathon Petroleum Corporation recently split...I am now in what
they call the "downstream" side of the company, Marathon Petroleum) in Findlay,
OH. I have replaced nonstop traffic and skyscrapers for peaceful
open roads and farmland this summer. It is surely an adjustment, but
I have truly enjoyed my time here thus far.
I am working in a
group within Marathon Petroleum called M&TE (Marketing and Transportation
Engineering). I have been placed in a major project called the
Woodhaven Flare Project, working on a site in Woodhaven,
Michigan. Working from the Findlay site, I get to examine the
workings of salt caverns storing propane and butane underground, large brine
tanks to supply these caverns when empty, pipeline transporting crude oil
around the country, and as implied, a large flare which releases pressure
within these above and below ground pipelines. Well, needless to
say, after 4 weeks of being on the job, I have sure learned a lot about big
oil! One of the fun things I have been able to experience is the safety
outfits required to wear when on site at one of these major facilities.I have provided you a picture of me in my
outfit for your own personal enjoyment. (See Photo Album at top)
This past week
(week 4 of my internship) has truly been the biggest test of my abilities as an
engineer. My supervisor and project manager have been on vacation
for the entire week and I have been left in charge of the project to answer
questions and any problems that might arise during construction. I
would've never expected this much responsibility so early on but this
internship has really prepared me for my entrance into the working world within
the next year.
After working 8 am
to 5 pm every day, I have still managed to get my Wildcat workouts in and even
participate in other activities to keep in shape this summer.I ran a 5 mile race on the Fourth of July and
have signed up to compete in a sprint triathlon at the end of August.I have one unique story which shows how
important it is to make a good impression everywhere you go.During my lunch hours, I am a frequent
visitor at the Findlay YMCA across from Marathon Petroleum to play pickup
basketball for about an hour or so.The
other day as I am leaving, I notice this man running to follow me out of the
gymnasium door.As I'm walking out he
asks, "Were you at the Chicago Autism Speaks walk this spring?"Flabbergasted, I turned and confirmed that I
had been and he went on to explain that he was at that walk in Chicago and
thought he recognized my face from walking on stage.It goes to show that wherever student
athletes go, we are always representing Northwestern and need to make sure we
present ourselves with class.
I was fortunate enough to take part in while an employee at Marathon Petroleum
was Habitat for Humanity.On July 12, I
took my carpentry skills to a plot of land down the road from the main Marathon
Petroleum building to help construct a new home for a wonderful couple.The week previous to the build, I was able to
attend an informational session during my lunch to learn more about this couple
we were working to help and about the project itself.It tugged at my heart as this woman explained
her struggles with epilepsy and the high cost of medication putting her and her
husband into unstable financial grounds.
It was awe inspiring to see these two show up the day of construction
and help me and my coworkers build the very house they would be living in.As far as the building went, it only took me
about a good 15 minutes and 3 fingers to get used to hammering nails into wood. Okay, I have to admit, I'm lying about the
3 fingers; as a basketball player, I was very precautionary in order to protect
the tools which have allowed me to dribble and shoot for all of these
years.But I was able to pound nails
into the very structural framework of the house and see a roof and garage get
built before my very eyes.I have
included some pictures from my day of work.
This experience not
only at Habitat for Humanity but while working at Marathon Petroleum has
allowed me to take a step back and realize how truly blessed I am to be a
Northwestern Wildcat.The challenges
faced everyday as a college athlete while studying at one of the top academic
programs in the country has prepared me well and allowed me to develop the
necessary skills to become a successful engineer.
do words get their meaning? How are they derived?
the word 'strong,' for example. First used by Jakob Grimm in 1841, the word
comes from the Germanic base strangaz, meaning "physically powerful," "powerful in
effect" and "severe."Over time,
it has been redefined by people and events; shaped and molded into various
'strong' in the sense of having the ability to perform physically demanding
tasks and 'strength' defined by skills and qualities that enable success.
There's strong impressions, strong currents, strong cups of coffee, etc etc.
then there's 'PersaStrong.'
1. To possess strength,
determination and/or talent like that of Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa.
(i.e. "There's strong, then there's PersaStrong.")
2. To establish yourself as
an unquestionable leader and field general, capitalizing on your innate ability
to escape the pocket and turn almost certain losses into big gains.
3. To expect the same
excellence from your teammates as you do from yourself (i.e. watching countless
hours of film with as many teammates as you can bring along), attempting to not
only elevate your own game but take the entire football program to another
4. To not be satisfied with
anything less than perfection and attend as many extra workouts as possible.
5. To go 19-for-21 with three
touchdowns in the 2010 season opener against Vanderbilt, when few believed
you'd be able to fill Mike Kafka's shoes.
6. To excel on and off the
field at one of the most prestigious universities in the country, earning 2010
All-Big Ten first team honors on top of Big Ten Distinguished Scholar honors
and two consecutive Academic All-Big Ten honors.
7. To be the first player in
Northwestern football history to be named to the program's 10-man Leadership
Council four times, a group of players elected by teammates to be liaisons and
leaders in program development.
8. To compile stats that
would compare favorably to past Heisman Trophy Winners. (i.e. If the passing
yards Dan Persa accumulated in 2010 -- prior to his season-ending injury --
were projected over a full season, he would have thrown for 3,355 yards. The
last nine Heisman-winning quarterbacks together have averaged 3,354 yards.)
9. To stand on the brink of
college football immortality as a preseason favorite to win college football's
most prestigious individual award.
there's more to the definition than what might be tangibly found in a
dictionary; more than the Big Ten record-breaking 73.5 percent completion rate
and the fact that he's has already been declared a candidate for this year's
Walter Camp Award, Manning Award, Davey O'Brien Award and Capital One Academic
the willpower I see in Dan Persa's eyes during rehab as he works diligently to
complete exercises, carrying the weight of a team that depends on him.
the resolve I notice in his stature from my place in right field bleachers at
Wrigley Field, as he watches our team battle Illinois in the chilling
temperatures of November -- braving the cold on the sidelines -- not even a
week out of surgery.
the elation that comes when he evades would-be sackers and glides into the end
zone; the excitement that follows as he marches the team down the field with
passes that fly straight into the hands of Jeremy Ebert and Demetrius Fields.
Ryan Field busting at the seams, packed in like sardines, simply because no one
wants to miss the magic he has for us next.
Persa has the talent and opportunity to send shockwaves throughout college
football this year reminiscent of those felt after the '95 season following
Northwestern's storybook run to the Rose Bowl. There has been a lot of
speculation, a lot of questions and concern about his health, but Persa has
created his own brand of strength that is rooted in the intangibles described
above; determination, willpower, resolve.
asked about the greatest lesson he's learned, Persa had just two words, "Never
quit." In regards to the 2011 season, I have five...