Feb. 10, 2010
Hey Wildcat Fans,
We swept our first Big Ten team of the season with a 64-60 win over Michigan Thursday. The most memorable part of the game occurred in the final four seconds when our 5'5" point guard, Beth Marshall, blocked a shot to ensure the victory. It was the first and only block of her career. We were all joking after the game that I should be worried because I have some stiff competition for the most blocked shots on the team with Beth's new-found swatting abilities. Throughout the game we held leads as high as 10 points, but the Wolverines were not going to go home without putting up a fight. Our lead would dwindle as soon as we got up, causing us to be in yet another one-or two-possession game when the final buzzer sounded.
Sunday we had a bye, which allowed us to enjoy a relatively "free" weekend. On Saturday, our strength and conditioning coach, Katie Austin and her fiancée, Johnny, got married. Our team and coaches attended the reception. It was fun to interact with different members of the athletic department away from our typical venue of the basketball arena. Sunday was pretty low-key as I watched our men's team beat Indiana, and then watched the Super Bowl with my family.
During my career at Northwestern, my family has been a huge support as shown by the number of games they have attended. My sister, who lives down in the city, has made it to games periodically, but had never been to a game where we have won ... until recently. It was a running joke that she was unlucky, but the victory over Michigan broke her losing streak. Another supporter who has made it to a ton of our games is a fan-favorite, Willie the Wildcat. Willie's history is a little known fact, and I am here to change that. Here's how our university website describes Willie's history:
The Northwestern mascot known as "Willie the Wildcat" developed in three stages. The nickname "Wildcats" was initiated in 1924. Following the memorable 1924 football game between Northwestern and the University of Chicago that heralded a new era in Northwestern football, Wallace Abbey wrote in the Chicago Tribune, "... Wildcats would be a name better suited to (Coach) Thistlethwaite's boys ... Stagg's boys, his pride, his 11 that had tied Illinois a week ago, were unable to score for 57 minutes. Once they had the ball on the nine-yard line and had been stopped dead by a Purple wall of wildcats." From that day on, all the Northwestern athletic teams have borne the nickname of "Wildcats."
Nine years later, in 1933, the Northwestern athletic department teamed up with an advertising firm to create the first caricature of Willie. In 1947, the first mascot was actually brought to life when four students dressed up as Willie for their Homecoming float. Willie now roams the sidelines of many sporting events (including our games!) and can be seen at University functions.
We are coming to the end of our regular-season with only six games left. We have two of our final three away games this week. On Thursday, we head to Champaign to play our first contest against Illinois. They are 4-9 in conference play. Their squad has a talented post player, Jenna Smith, and some athletic guards that will make this a challenging game. Then on Valentine's Day, we play Michigan State for the second time. Last time out we lost by four points, so we are looking to come home with a win which would even out the series record.
Until next time,