Archive for December, 2009

Ye Olde English Christmas

December 16, 2009

By: Neil Cunningham
Head Women’s Soccer Coach

This is without doubt one of my favorite times of the year and also the one where I miss my family back in England. Having enjoyed many great Christmas it is hard not to reminisce about those times. I accepted a long time ago that you have to move on and start your own traditions with family and friends, but some things always bring a smile to my face at this time of year. Whether it is eating and drinking too much, watching bad TV re-runs, shouting in Grandmas good ear and doing a Houdini act when the Karaoke machine makes an appearance, either way, you cannot help but crack a smile. Here are a few of my favorite traditions I left behind some 15 years ago.

Traditional Foods:  You are supposed to have turkey at Christmas. I know you guys have that Thanksgiving thing a month earlier so after turkey, turkey sandwiches and the inevitable turkey soup I guess you have had enough, but I want Turkey! What is with Beef and Ham? Who promoted them to the big house? Turkey, roast potatoes, fresh vegetables and Christmas pudding for dessert (with custard of course) are my favorites.

TV: Without fail on Christmas day when I was growing up the television schedule would be full of old movies and ones that had nothing to do with the holiday season. The Wizard of Oz and the Magnificent Seven were staples. Sandwiched in between was of course the Queen’s speech where she would talk about the year passed and the year ahead. I am not a Royalist in any way but there is something very cool about knowing that the Queen broke off from eating Turkey, or maybe playing a game of Twister to talk to the nation.

Boxing Day: This is the day after Christmas and one of the biggest sporting days on the English calendar. After a whole day previous with family everyone is itching to get out and see a soccer game. Fish and chips at the game, a couple of beers to wash it down and the chance to shout at your team make for a perfect day. It is the best way to get rid of the frustration of spending the day prior with the Mother-in-law ( I do want to point out here that my Mother-in-Law is fantastic).

Mind Games: When I was a kid I remember on more than 14,000 occasions hearing the words, “Santa is watching…” “ If you don’t behave…..” Really, how many times can your mom or dad say that in the course of December? Now as a parent of two little kids I understand why.  A W&L alumna sent us an Elf on a Shelf.  Basically this Elf comes and lives with you and watches the kids to see if they are behaving. The kids are totally into this guy.  His name is Phil (the kids named him). The first thing they do every morning is get up and look for him. Every night he flies back to Santa to give a report on the kids behavior but returns by the next morning in a different place in the house. Absolutely brilliant idea! Its mind control for kids for the month of December.

Board Games: I love board games. I don’t know what it is about Christmas and games but even the more reserved aunt/uncle or neighbor goes nuts for a good game of Pictionary, Catchphrase, or Trivial Pursuit. Some say it’s the copious amounts of alcohol and egg nog. I prefer to think of it as people just letting go and getting into the spirit of togetherness. It may also have something to do with the fact that you will not see Aunt Judy for another 12 months. Whatever their reasons, who cares.

However whether I am here in the USA or back in England, it is a time to truly count your blessings. It is a time to appreciate what you have and the people that share your life, help someone less fortunate and try to be a good citizen.  It is a time to take a moment to tell the real Christmas Story, the one that did not include Rudolph. So, enjoy your family this Holiday season – even when they get on your last nerve!

Merry Christmas!!


Holidays & Family

December 10, 2009

By: Rachel Buck
Sports Information Assistant

As I prepare to leave Lexington for Christmas break this week, I started to think about how I have so much to be thankful for during my few months at W&L. What triggered the idea was last night as I was packing, I stumbled upon one of my favorite quotes that my grandmother gave me from Luther’s Small Catechism’s explanation of daily bread in The Lord’s Prayer: “food and drink, clothing and shoes, house and home, land and cattle, money and goods, and most importantly family.”

The key word for me in that quote as I look back at the last six months is “family”. And with that thought I have begun to reflect on the few months I have been here at W&L. When I’m having “one of those days”, I take a step back and break it down into just the simple things that have made Lexington great for me so far. It’s amazing how keeping it simple and remembering some of the little things can help change an attitude and ground you, even when you’re having a bad day.

W&L has given me so much in the few months that I have been here, and I would like to thank everyone that has made me feel welcome and a part of the “family.” Out of all the things from Luther’s quote, none has been more evident here than the sense of family and community that W&L has provided me.

As we are now full swing into the holiday season, it becomes even more apparent of how fortunate we all are and everything that we should be thankful for. Although I usually do my “thankfuls” everyday (special shout-out to my roommate who has helped me be better about it this fall) the holidays seem to bring it out even more.  And even though your ears may be ringing from all the times you hear people say, “count your blessings” over the next few weeks, I think it’s important to not pass it over.

Service is a big part of my life. I believe in giving back to a community/world that has provided to me so much, especially during the holidays. Every year, even though I may be volunteering at the same food kitchen or donating to the same cause, it amazes me how the smallest things often get the biggest reactions. For some people just a smile and a hello changes their attitude from when they walked in the door.

So I challenge all of you to take a step back and write down everything that you are thankful for. You may be surprised how even the smallest thing can bring the biggest smile to your face.

Christmas Ornaments

December 9, 2009

By: Kris Hoey
Head Women’s Cross Country Coach

As I was decorating our Christmas Tree recently with my daughter, I came across a little mouse sitting on a cherry pie ornament that had been given to me when I was about her age.  It was given to me by a friend of mine that I went to elementary school with and eventually graduated high school alongside.  It brought back so many memories that we shared growing up.  Fart spray in the car on the way to a Penn State game, soccer camp, going to the guidance counselor together because we were procrastinators in the 3rd grade, bus rides to basketball games, just to name a few.   It is amazing what that little mouse brought back. What a nice time of year to be reminded of people special to your heart and the ones who make you laugh too.

I was thinking about how neat it was to pull out that old ornament and reminisce about the fun times I had with my friend that I decided to start a new tradition with our team.  Each year, we will make Christmas ornaments for each person on our team so that many years from now when they are putting up their trees with their children, they can think about W&L and our team for a small moment and that can bring a smile to their face.  I can only imagine what will be in those memories.  What will be the thing that stands out the most from their time on the team at Washington and Lee.

So 15 blue Christmas balls, some paint and 6 episodes of CSI later I had some cute ornaments, no frills just XC09 and the occasional polka dots or stripes in Christmas fashion.   If you come by the 517 suite and see something pink (and royal blue of course—the tree does Bleed Blue)…..that would be our new Christmas tree, one that will have different ornaments hanging on it every year.   If only that tree could talk, what memories will it be holding on to?

Love this time of year

December 3, 2009

By: Brian Laubscher
Sports Information Director

Many of the coaches are giving reports about where they are in their seasons or year so I figured I would do the same.  I LOVE this time of year.  In fact, I’m listening to Christmas music in the office as I write this blog entry.

I love this time of year not only because of the holidays but because of the way it relates to my job as sports information director.

I’ll lead by saying that I love my job, but like any job, it can become a grind.  The fall brings with it the excitement of another year getting underway, but often times I get lost in the fact that we generally work 6-7 days per week encompassing every weekend from the beginning of September until the week of Thanksgiving.  That schedule will wear down just about anyone I suppose – even if it is working sporting events.

But this time of year is when the schedules break and provide us with a respite.  There is plenty of time to relax and spend time with family and friends for Thanksgiving.  We also switch gears from football and soccer, etc. to basketball and wrestling, etc.  The job never becomes stale because we’re always moving on to something new – new seasons that hold nothing but promise for what the future holds.

And, after getting a taste of the winter seasons in late November and early December, there is even more opportunity to play catch-up with office work and relax with the onset of finals and the holiday break in December.  Our teams play very little during this stretch.  It allows me to put the fall season to rest by updating the website and record books.  There’s even time to begin working ahead on the spring sports roster bios and previews, along with some projects I’ve been holding off on.  I also take a little vacation time and make sure that I’m ready for the next stretch of six- and seven-day work weeks that will last from early January until the teams breaks for finals in mid-April.

So there you have it – a December blueprint for the typical sports information director and my favorite time of year!

Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum

December 2, 2009

By: Wendy Orrison
Head Field Hockey Coach

I don’t come from a family of shoppers so on black Friday we decided to go to the Air and Space Museum near Dulles airport.  Apparently there were several thousand other people who had the same good idea.  A curator told me that it is there busiest day of the year; not one of the busiest days, but the busiest day.  At any rate, 16 of us piled into a 15 person van and went to the museum early Friday morning.  We stayed for several hours and it was a wonderful museum.  The building is huge and is in the design of an airplane bunker.  They have a space shuttle, a Concord, the Blackbird (fastest plane in the world) and the Enola Gay.  Not to mention hundreds of other full size planes, helicopters and hang gliders.  My children were the most excited about the gift shop and wheeled a few plastic toys out of their mom.

My father, who didn’t go, asked me what I liked best about the museum.  I named a few specific airplanes but then quickly realized and elaborated that it was the spirit of the museum.  The amount of creativity, ingenuity and perseverance that had to take place for each of those machines to operate is uplifting.  There was an exhibit on WWII planes and the people (mostly women and minorities) who built them and I was inspired by the commitment and teamwork that it took to build so many airplanes.

I went on and on about the spirit, the ingenuity, and the teamwork while talking to my dad.  After verbalizing what I like about the museum, I realized that is what I also like about coaching and sports.  I enjoy the spirit and cooperation of team sports. I love the passion and inspiration that young players bring to their sport.  I like the fact that if you have a bad game or a bad season, you can start over again.  Go back to the drawing board and try to fix it.   I also love the fact that I work with young women who expect to go out and have fulfilling and meaningful careers.  Rosy the Riveter opened doors for me and all of the young women that I coach.

Next time you are in the D.C area go check out the Udvr-Hazy Air and Space Museum.  I hope that you too will be inspired by the spirit and the energy that is captured in the museum.  I also hope that you have a job or hobby that allows you to brush up against creativity, team work, and passion the way that mine allows.

Happy Half-Way

December 1, 2009

By: Joel Shinofield
Head Men’s Swimming Coach

We have reached the midpoint of our season, hard to believe that we have already arrived at our mid-season invitational.  With two weeks left in the semester and the guys coming off some time training at home over Thanksgiving Break, we head over the mountain to Charlottesville later this week to attend UVA’s Cavalier Invitational.  We will compete against UVA, West Chester and American, but more importantly we will compete against the clock to see where we stand at the halfway mark of our season.

As a coach, I love this time of year.  I can really get a feel for the progress we have made, the areas where we still need work and I start to pencil people into our conference line-up.  Our conference rules, as well as most others, only allow 18 scoring competitors in the championship meet.  So these mid-season times at this meet, which is conducted in a similar manner to our championship meet, play an important role in the choices I make in regards to that roster.  We are lucky in that our conference permits us bring our entire team to the meet thus allowing those competitors who do not make the scoring roster to still compete with the rest of the team.  While I can take everyone, I still have to make the tough decisions about who makes that scoring team.

You would think that there would be some animosity among guys who are fighting for those roster spots and without a doubt the guys compete to the bitter end to earn one of those spots.  However, one of the things I am most proud of in regards to our team is the support they show each other even though they are competing for spots on Bluegrass Mountain Conference and NCAA relays as well as scoring spots at the conference meet, they will all be behind one another at the meet this weekend.  More importantly, at our conference meet they will show the same support for the guys who are swimming exhibition as for the guys who are swimming for points.  I have seen a great performance from an exhibition swimmer motivate our entire team to take their performances to a higher level, which would not happen if they were not focused on how every teammate was racing.  Anyway, this is a great part of the season and a huge part of our team coalescing into a whole that is greater than the individual parts.  I plan on watching great performances this week and watching our guys compete as a team

PS- Good luck to Seniors Josh Gonzalez and Winston Stagg as they take part in final interviews for Teach for America this week!