Archive for January, 2010

My January

January 29, 2010

By: Jan Hathorn
Athletic Director

Yesterday, somebody asked me if I was having a good New Year. It has been such a whirlwind month that I had to stop and think about the fact that, yep, it still is January and the start of a new year. I spent most of the month traveling so I have only been in the office about 10 days so far. And, if this month is indicative of the coming year, then I am in for very full, very exciting one – and very tiring!  Here are some of the highlights for me this January:

Joyner-Kersee

1. I attended the NCAA convention in Atlanta and was privileged to meet some very distinguished people – Jackie Joyner Kersee, Doug Flutie, Tim Tebow, and George Mitchell.  I even have pictures to prove it!  I also got to reconnect with some of the people I respect most in this profession, and whom I am proud to call my colleagues.  It was a long convention so I had plenty of time to fully believe there was not much going on in the office back home.  That’s the worst part about conventions – you really become delusional and believe that the work isn’t piling up and that you’re not going to be swamped when you return.  Alas, reality hit on Monday.

2. Right after returning from the convention, I had the privilege of attending an alumni event in Newport News, VA.  What a fun night, and what wonderful alums we have in the Peninsula Chapter.  I was made to feel so at home and I met many new friends – Channing Hall was a fantastic host – and reconnected with some old ones – “Bootsie” and Isabell Hatchet are so much fun!  It was a wonderful experience.

3. Three days later I was afforded the opportunity to attend the Apple Conference, held in Charlottesville and hosted by UVA. (I really do have an office but why be in it when I can be out of it!?) The Apple Conference is a 19-year old event that is responsible for the genesis of our SAMs program – Student Athlete Mentors.  I am so glad I attended this conference because it allowed me the chance to meet and spend time with two of our fabulous student-athletes – Dorothy Todd and Lauren Acker – as well as brain storm and discuss very important issues, alcohol use and bystander behavior, with these two students and Brooke Diamond, our women’s lacrosse coach, and Shana Levine, our Associate Director of Athletics.  During the course of the weekend, my convictions about the health and well-being of our students was re-affirmed and I am excited to help begin to re-energize our SAMs program on campus.  And, of course, I was deluded into thinking there was nothing happening in my office while I was away.

4. To top off the month, this past Wednesday evening, our men’s basketball team beat Randolph-Macon on Macon’s home court, for the first time since the 1958-59 season. It was a fantastic win for our program and one that I hope propels the team to accomplish many more firsts for the season.  Needless to say, I was very proud of the players and the coaches.

Suffice it to say, this week went really fast because I had to face reality and go back to the office. And the work was sitting there waiting for me.  But I’m glad to be back at the desk. Besides, I need to rest so I can be ready for the next time I need to be out of the office!

Pure Performance

January 28, 2010

By: Josh Williamson
Head Athletic Trainer

Mark McGwire used steroids…he finally admitted it.  I don’t think anyone was shocked at the announcement.  As a St. Louis Cardinals fan, I was torn between wanting to believe that there was a possibility that he was clean and wanting to know the truth behind his physique.  It made me think about what sport means to me and what makes it so much fun to be a part of it all.  I realized, after contemplation, that what I love about sports is the purity of it.  There is an objectivity to it…a way to measure and compare; a way to see how you have improved or how you haven’t.  Unfortunately, rule breaking in sports takes away the purity and makes people question if the objective measures were affected.  This makes me appreciate even further being able to work with Division III athletes.  There is some comfort in knowing that all the gains and achievements made come from hard work and desire; nothing more.  There is a purity that surrounds hard work and desire and those two things build character in those who embrace them.  I’m glad to be a part of something that, at the end of the day, has no mystery in how the achievements were made; there is no scandal to uncover; there is only pride in oneself for the work that was put into the win, the loss, the good practice, and even the bad practice.  I’m not just glad, but proud to be a part of it.

First Time for Everything

January 25, 2010

By: Kris Hoey
Head Women’s Cross Country Coach/Assistant Track & Field Coach

I went Skiing for the 1st time over Winter Break!  Nate (Hoey) and I went up to Wintergreen Resort, which is less than an hour away from Lexington.

So I got all of the gear rented and put on and we were about 40 mins early for our lesson.  That is a long time with a nice white ski slope in from of you.  There was absolutely no way I could just sit there and wait for the lesson to begin.  I decided that I was going to try out my rental skis and go down the mountain.  40 mins that is enough time, right?

I got to the edge of the flat snow and started out slowly down the slope.  I figured I would just go down Potato Patch and ride the lift back up…check out the Trail Map http://www.wintergreenresort.com/pdf/TrailMap2009.pdf .     I started out going slowly but I started picking up speed and more speed and it wouldn’t let up.  Ahhhh what do I do?  I had to bail!   (I finally know what Sandra Bullock felt like when she couldn’t stop that bus in Speed) Ok so a few more times same thing, get up, pick up speed and bail.  I know there must be more out there….the ski and bail method was not what I really saw on the Winter Olympics in 2006, although some of the wipeouts I had felt very similar to some of those I remember seeing there at the sports highest level. (I must have been doing something right) Check out what it felt like to be me on my 1st day of skiing.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mozBxhvxXRA

I am finally down at the ski lift.  How hard could it be?  Stand there, chair comes and you sit down.  Sweet, I did it!  I am pumped…..there is no one around except the chair lift operator,  but I am just smiling feeling pretty accomplished riding the chair lift up Potato Patch looking around at the beautiful surroundings, and “SHINK” something is pulling on my leg.  I looked down and my ski is laying there behind me.  All these things started racing through my mind….I pictured myself having to ski down the mountain on one ski to come back to retrieve my orphaned ski (this was not an option considering how 2 skis went just a few mins before), I thought that I would have to wait in a long line for another ski, I wasn’t really sure how I would get off the lift with one ski on and one ski off, you can imagine the dilemma in my mind.  “MUST GET SKI” was my reaction, so I did what any novice skier would do.  I jumped off the ski lift to get my ski.

How did this all happen?  I am not quite sure, but I do know that it was not my fault ;-). There was a huge mound of snow extending up almost touching the ski lift so my ski got stuck in the drift and was not able to be lifted out as the chair went up.  If this didn’t happen to me, it surely would have happened to the next person.  The chair lift operator was very nice and helped me get my ski after screaming relentlessly “Don’t Jump, Don’t Jump, Stay there.”  After reattaching my ski, I was all set to ride the lift again.  Just as I was about to get on the lift, they decided that it would be a good idea to get rid of the mound (so this wouldn’t happen again with the next skier coming to ride the Potato Patch lift) so they had to stop the lift. Time was ticking, I had a much need lesson to get to.  Finally the lift was running, I was on it with 2 skiis and I was going up the mountain to my lesson.

From the top of the mountain, things looked very different. When I got back up to the top(with 5 mins to spare before the lesson), Nate, asked me if I fell off the ski lift.  My reaction was “No…..only someone who has never skied before would do that!”

I highly recommend Wintergreen Resort http://www.wintergreenresort.com/default.aspx for a 1st time skier.  We had a lesson from a great teacher, Ralph Frink was his name. (as coaches, we rarely get the opportunity to be coached anymore, so that made it even more of a treat).  I no longer have to bail and I have a new appreciation for speed.  I can’t wait to watch everything going on in Vancouver in a few weeks.  There is just nothing like the Olympics!  http://www.vancouver2010.com/ .

Thank heavens for Monday…

January 22, 2010

By: Neil Cunningham
Head Women’s Soccer Coach

January 2010. This is going to be the year that I change certain things in my life for the better and make an effort to break some bad habits and start some new ventures. Sound familiar? I know we all start the onset of the new calendar year with new energy and good intentions and I just wanted to share with you some action items on my agenda. (notice I did not call them New Year’s resolutions) We all know they are worthless and will not last five minutes.

Here are my top five action items: Rome wasn’t built in a day and its only the 20th January….right?

1. EATING CHOCOLATE: I am a chocoholic. Just admitting that is a huge step. I need a rehab clinic to help me kick this habit. I am sure there are probably a few clinics and experts out there. I made a promise not to eat chocolate this year for as long as possible. January 20th and 65 chocolate bars later I feel I have failed. I will start Monday.

2. GETTING FITTER: This summer and fall I got myself in the best physical shape I had been in for sometime. I completed the summer workout that I give to my own athletes to complete, often with faster times I may add. I continued to workout through a busy fall period for a soccer coach, and dropping 15lbs at the same time. January 20th 2010….out of shape, gained 12lbs back and struggling to get going again. I can blame the weather, some surgery I had over the holidays, or make another excuse. Bottom line, I have failed. Come on Monday!

3. READ MORE BOOKS FOR FUN: I have read more than my fair share of Dr Seuss and Bill Peat books so its time I had some enjoyment and read some books that I really wanted to read. Remember when you read books for fun? I got four books for Christmas, excited about reading them all and I have cracked one page in one book. I am a slow reader what can I say. I guess I will continue with page two on Monday.

4. RESPOND TO E-MAILS FASTER: The sheer volume of e-mails I receive on a daily basis is quite ridiculous. I read them all, except for the one that keeps promising me that I have won the UK lottery. I guess I have read that one after all. I made a promise to try to respond to e-mails quicker so that they do not get buried in my inbox never to be seen again. How am I doing I hear you ask? So far this work week I have received 250 legitimate e-mails, and I have responded to 100. I guess I am not really doing better at all. I love Mondays.

5. TEACH MYSELF SIGN LANGUAGE: One of my new books. I have always been fascinated with the ability to communicate in this form and feel it could actually be useful in the real world. I am no nearer opening the book yet, but feel confident that the signs some motorists gave me this weekend in Philadelphia has maybe started the process earlier than anticipated.

The great thing about promising to do things or be better at something, or learn something completely new is that there will always hopefully be a Monday to make a start. I love Monday!

Office Conversation

January 20, 2010

By: Brian Laubscher
Sports Information Director

Looking back over it, I realized that it has been exactly 16 days since my last post to the sidelines blog.  I checked to see how long it had been hoping that this would give me some great epiphany of what I should write about today.  I guess I could write about how quickly time flies by or what it’s like preparing for the spring season while in the midst of the winter season, but frankly you’ve heard those tales already.  The last thing that I want to do is bore you with those thoughts.  It’s the middle of January and I figure most people who have faithfully read this blog have done so for a little break from their everyday routine at work or for some entertainment during their day.  So, how do I achieve bringing a little relief to your day today?

(10 minutes later) So I’ve finally come up with my topic for today.  Recently, Nate, Rachel and I have been having some conversations in the office about the absolute farce that is NCAA Division I.  Now like most people, I do enjoy watching college basketball and college football on TV.  In fact, this time of year my television rarely leaves ESPN or HBO or for guilty pleasures, the discovery channel on Wednesday evenings to see Man vs. Wild.

I am a Penn State football fan and a Villanova basketball fan and I must admit that currently life is good for those who follow the two programs.  It’s fun seeing them win (I did attend the Final Four last year in Detroit only to see the Cats fall to the college all stars that made up UNC’s roster), but I also know that as much as I want these programs to be clean, there’s no way they could be competitive without keeping up with the Jones’.  The numbers state that these two schools graduate their players, but I am always wondering if it is with a made up degree after funneling the players to “program friendly” professors.

Rachel provided some input on this subject after attending Marquette University and overlapping with some very good Golden Eagle basketball teams that featured the likes of Dwayne Wade, Travis Deiner, Steve Novak and Robert Jackson.  Marquette performed on the court by making a Final Four during this time, but Rachel admitted that the players in her classes sat in the back and rarely paid attention or did their work.  When it came time to have team projects, she said she prayed that the players were not assigned to her group.  The reason?  Because the player would be noticeably absent and you had to deal with their tutor, who would generally do the work for them.  Model students I suppose.

We got on this subject after the situation in Tennessee where football coach Lane Kiffin bolted town after one year to take the head coaching job at USC.  Nate and I had a discussion about whether Kiffin and his assistant coaches had been genuine and were doing a favor to the Tennessee recruits when they contacted them and told them not to enroll in school.  I guess this is a question that Tennessee, USC and the NCAA are trying to figure out themselves.  Our conversation advanced to talking about USC and some of their “alleged” violations (aka. paying players that probably shouldn’t have been in college to begin with) and the hypocrisy that is Division I sports.  The NCAA claims to be about “student-athletes” but let’s face it, Division I football and basketball has nothing to do with academics and everything to do with entertainment, money and free publicity.  As an SID, I understand the publicity aspect and the importance to schools (or else I wouldn’t have a job), but I don’t understand how these non-students end up passing classes they obviously don’t care about.  I’m fairly certain that University of Kentucky freshman John Wall is the best player in college basketball right now.  I also believe that Wall probably will not set foot in a classroom this entire semester.  After the fine academic advising staff at Kentucky have done their job of keeping him eligible through the first semester, Wall can live the good life for the second semester and then enter the draft in June.  I can’t say as though I blame him, but is this what college athletics was supposed to be about?  Maybe there was a time that it was about getting a free education, but the amount of money that is involved from ticketing, merchandising and television contracts has completely changed the face of Division I athletics.

As our conversations advanced, I pointed to the Tom Wolfe (W&L ’51) book I am Charlotte Simmons that dealt with a fictional university called DuPont University.  Though the book is centered around a naïve freshman named Charlotte Simmons, the current state of big-time college athletics even at a small prestigious university is at the forefront of the novel.  It clearly displays the view that Wolfe must have about NCAA Division I sports and the constant struggle between education and money that exists in that world.   I must admit that there was a time that I wanted to be a part of that world as an SID.  I’ve been at mid-major Division I schools and early in my career the dream was to work football or basketball at one of the “BCS” schools.  Fate led me to this tiny Division III school where academics mean far more than success on the playing fields and where money is spent to play, rather than gained from success on the fields.  While promoting these players and teams provides challenges where we must convince the media to cover us instead of vise versa, I now know that this is where I was always meant to be.  I know that we play for the right reasons.  I know that our athletes are real students and their accomplishments are just as important to those of us that follow their careers.  The general public may view Division III athletics as glorified high school sports, but I see it as the only pure form of college sports (at least for those Division III schools that don’t have the Division I mentality of trying to find a way to break the rules to win).

As we continued to talk, Nate brought up the life of Division I walk-ons and their roles on the teams.  Would these pseudo-players be better served being a glorified manager that may have that one shining moment in four years (Skylar McBee | McBee Video) or get a good education and actually play?  I guess it is a personal choice and if you want a glimpse into what it is like, I highly recommend that you read the blog by Ohio State senior guard Mark Titus entitled “CLUB TRILLION – Life Views From the End of the Bench”.  The kid’s got a sense of humor that will have you cracking up, but he also provides a view of what it is like to deal with some of these so-called “student-athletes” at the BCS level.

So perhaps this column ended up giving you a little respite from your day and was at least a little entertaining.  We all love sports or you wouldn’t be reading this.  However, think to yourself whether the schools have been straying further and further from their own missions as college sports continue to get bigger and bigger on the NCAA Division I level.  For me, it makes me even more proud to be a General.

All good things must come to an end

January 18, 2010

By: Wendy Orrison
Head Field Hockey Coach

In the Physical Education department all head coaches have a second, or administrative, duty.  For the past nine years my second duty has been to serve as a women’s lacrosse assistant.  For the first seven years, I was privileged to work under Jan Hathorn and I learned so much about coaching.  Jan was and is always very organized, she is very caring about her teams and her players and I learned an immense amount working with her.  Her passion for people and sports has often inspired me.  Jan was one of the first female coaches here at W&L.  She helped to pave the way for me and young coaches.  Jan also values academics and educations.  Jan always talked about how important the process was…the process of learning a sport, the process of maturing, the process of building a championship team year in and year out.  Jan and I loved to laugh and I looked forward to the long bus drives and the practices with her, except when it was below 50 degrees!

For the next two years I worked with Brooke Diamond; she was appointed head women’s lacrosse coach in the summer of 2007.  I was surprised how much I learned from Brooke as well.  I was supposed to be her mentor, as it was her first head coaching job, but Brooke served as a mentor to me many times.  Brooke is typical of the new, younger coaches; she is a workhorse.  She was in the office before me and stayed after me nearly every day.  Brooke is also passionate about sports and people and it was great to see the women’s lacrosse torch pass so ably from Jan to Brooke.  I was proud to be a part of the successful transition.  Brooke can recruit like nobody’s business so she and the program are going to do great.

This year my second duty has changed.  I will now serve as an assistant to the riding team and head coach Gordon Reistrup.   I am excited about the change and had been seeking it.  As the mother of two young children, it was becoming more and more difficult to balance work and family.  The equestrian season is shorter and more flexible.  I can bring my son with me when I muck out stalls and there are far fewer shows and overnight commitments.

Thanks Jan and Brooke and all of women’s lacrosse players for allowing me the privilege to be a part of such a high caliber program.  The field hockey team has benefitted greatly from my work with the lacrosse program.  Jan, thank you for allowing me to shift over to equestrian and begin a new chapter of my coaching career and of course more learning.

Spring, or at least the spring season, is right around the corner

January 15, 2010

By: Nate Jervey
Assistant Sports Information Director

It has been a full two weeks back in the swing of things following a much needed break and with both the basketball teams in action and the indooor track and field teams opening up next weekend it surprised me a little bit yesterday when Brian, my boss, asked me how my preparations for my spring sports was coming. Whoa, spring sports? It is still January right? Yup, the calendar does not lie and today is definitely Jan. 15. So why in the world should we be worried about spring sports already? Because as assistant baseball coach Brian Smith reminded us the other day, our first baseball game is less than a month away.

This year, baseball opens on Feb. 13 and the first home game Feb. 16. Seriously, baseball in February!!! I am pretty sure that Abner Doubleday did not have baseball in February in mind when he invented America’s pastime. However, I am sure that the reluctance that I express in seeing baseball start so early is not shared by the players, who are probably chomping at the bit to start up again following fall ball and get back on the field — that is if they go out and shovel it off. The saving grace for those of us who work out at the baseball games is that we are out of the elements in the press box and space heaters are a wonderful invention. Those people braving the elements outside in hopes of seeing a W&L victory, well you a braver man (or woman) than I.

I just checked the farmer’s almanac, which is much more reliable than most people realize and it is calling for snow, ice and cold temperatures for the first two weeks of February. I just hope that the concession stand is quick with the coffee and hot chocolate. While I may sound awfully cynical about the spring season starting so soon, I really do enjoy baseball and the start of the season is something that I look forward to. I was just a little surprised to find out that we were starting to play home games in February. Being from Michigan, we keep skiing up through March and into April and the thought of baseball and snow together makes me cringe just a little.

Before the spring season hits us however, the winter season is still in full swing. Men’s basketball begins a stretch of five straight road games tomorrow (Saturday) with a trip to Roanoke for a 7:00 pm game. You should make the trip down if you are in the area. Roanoke is always a fun place to play, the crowd is usually pretty rowdy and last season the Generals stole a 68-66 victory from the then- No. 18 Maroons. After the game (or before, your call) I recommend hitting up Mac & Bob’s for a Boston Zone. If the scheduling gods were unkind to the baseball team for making them play in February, then they definitely did the basketball team no favors in making them go down to Methodist next week for a Wednesday night game. Methodist is down in Fayetteville, N.C., and according to Mapquest we can expect to be on the bus for four hours and 44 minutes as we travel 248.87 miles. Actually, I am a little excited/nervous about making the trip to Methodist. I will be making my radio play-by-play debut. I typically go on the air with Jeremy Franklin (the WLUR head honcho) at halftime of our road games, but given the length of the trip, Jeremy did not feel as though he could take a full day off of work, so he asked if I could cover for him. I have always been told that I have a face for radio, so I have that going for me. So, if anybody who happens to read this blog entry happens to tune in to listen the game on Wednesday, bear with me, as I will be flying solo on my maiden voyage. Just call me Lindbergh or Earhart…wait, didn’t Earhart crash?

Ok, so one final thing. Given that we are Sports Information, it is not uncommon for us to receive odd questions about the pool hours or how to get to the dance studio. Well, today someone walked into the office and asked us how long the track around Doremus Gymnasium was. The answer…we did not know. So much for Sports Information, might as well call us Sports Misinformation. With the unanswered question eating at us, we made a quick call to the track office and asked Nate Hoey, the track and field coach if he knew and he in fact did not know it. Our next stop in search of an answer was John Tucker, the men’s cross country coach, but he was not available for comment. Really, Tucker was our last resort as there is probably not a stretch of road or trail in Rockbridge County that he does not know the distance to. So, if anybody happens to know what the distance around the track Doremus is that would be fantastic. Well, really its not a big deal, but I am just curious by nature.

Where to find us

January 14, 2010

The W&L sidelines blog is moving locations on the W&L athletics website.  It can still be found at this address and will have links located in the “For Fans” section of the website in the lower left corner.  It can also be found under the Athletic Dept. link at the top of the website.  We hope you continue to enjoy reading “From the Sidelines”.

Resolutions

January 11, 2010

By: Jan Hathorn
Athletic Director

It’s a new year and the winter term is upon us. W&L had three weeks of break between terms this year and it was a welcome change. I was especially happy to have more time to spend with friends and family, and still be able to get a good week of work under my belt before the pace picks up with the start of classes.

As the New Year approached and all the talk turned to new year’s resolutions, I got to wondering why I never make resolutions at the start of a new year. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I am, and probably always will be, an academic-year person in every part of my life.  To me, the New Year is in August, when a new school year begins. When January 1st rolls around, I tend to be unmoved by the holiday, (except for all the great bowl games on TV), and it comes and goes with no real excitement.  Instead, I find myself taking stock of how I’m doing with my New Year’s “resolutions” that I made at the start of the school year. After all, the holiday break is pretty much the half-way mark.

And so far, so good. Here are a few of the things I resolved to do:

1. Get to know the folks in my department better – starting with the head coaches, I have had lunch with all but one of them and am excited to meet with the other fabulous folks with whom I work.

2. Learn something new everyday – that’s not hard to do because there is just so much to learn in this job.

3. Attend as many home contests as possible – I’ve done pretty well so far. It’s really difficult to do attend all the events I want to attend but I’m finding it easier each year to learn the rhythm of the sports seasons and how to schedule around all the contests.

4. Keep a healthy balance between work and personal life – I think I’ve done a good job here but to do well in this category means I can’t get to all the home contests I want to attend, and it will take me longer to accomplish my goal of getting to know everyone better. I know this, if I do well with this resolution, I will feel as if I have done a big thing… this is the hardest one of them all.

With all that said, I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to start another term and am looking forward to all the promise it holds.  Here’s to successfully fulfilling our resolutions for a new year, as well as seeing a successful conclusion to the winter sports seasons and a successful beginning to the spring sports season.  All the best to you in 2010 and Go Generals!

Rachel’s San Diego Diary

January 8, 2010

Arrival date: Saturday, Dec. 26

Leaving O'Hare

Well, most of the team arrived on Saturday. Due to the snow and other wintry conditions that hit the US, many of the girls were delayed, with a few not arriving until the late hours of Sunday evening. Even head coach King, assistant coach Pyzik and trainer Rebecca Lowry had to trudge through the delays, making it to San Diego almost 12 hours after their anticipated arrival time. I felt fortunate in that aspect, as I had to connect at O’Hare (Chicago) from my podunk airport in Wisconsin. Now, O’Hare is notorious for delays, even on the brightest, sunniest day in the summer, and with a blizzard hitting the greater Chicagoland area, I was preparing for the worst. Fortunately I only endured a two-hour delay before I was on my way to sunny San Diego and warmer temps.

Sunday, Dec. 27

With a few of the girls lost in transit across the country, the executive decision was made to move the trip to La Jolla beach to Sunday. So we all piled in two 16-passenger vans and made the trek up I-5 toward the ocean.

As a tourist in a city, it’s usually safe to assume that when you have a tour guide/someone transporting you across the city they know where they are going. Well along the drive, the passengers in the second van (which included myself, Coach Mandy King, trainer Rebecca, play-by-play broadcaster Jeremy and the freshmen) learned that the driver in the lead van really didn’t know where he was going. Apparently if our driver hadn’t set him straight we would have ended up in L.A., which may have been a nice little detour, but not quite on the itinerary.  Looks were passed around the van, but few words were spoken after that little fact was shared.

Well, we all ended up making it to La Jolla, but not quite where we needed to be. After our fearless navigator, assistant coach Abby Pyzik, got her hand on a map we learned that the point where we were dropped off was almost two miles away from the heart of La Jolla, the tide pools and most importantly the sea lions that everyone wanted to see. So Abby and Mandy turned around to rally the girls and get them on a shuttle to La Jolla, while Rebecca, Jeremy and I continued the hike (which was up a significant slope) toward our final destination.

Sea Lions

Eventually everyone made it to La Jolla, and besides the wonderful shopping and food, the highlight for most was trekking to the ocean shores and getting to see the sea lion park. There is a small of the section saved for the sea lions to hang out, and those who visit are allowed to go down on the shore and be within feet of the animals. It’s a pretty unique experience, and even more fun watching the animals, which are so graceful in the water, try and maneuver on dry land.

After a couple hours we headed back to the hotel and eventually out for a great dinner on Fifth Street. I can’t begin to describe how great the proximity of the hotel was to the outstanding shopping and culture of the Gaslamp District in San Diego, and it was a fantastic experience to be able to take in the city just steps from where you lay your head at night.

Monday, December 28—Gameday

Monday was a huge day as the team prepared to take on Capital (OH), the 21st-ranked team in the country.

After a quick breakfast, scout and walk-through there was a little time to lounge before heading to the campus of Pt. Loma Nazarene, where the college division of the tournament was being played (there was also a D-I and Canadian men’s challenge going on at different universities in the greater San Diego area).

The views from the campus were breathtaking. PLN sits on the top of a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. When you arrived on campus you took a little service road that followed the bluff, with great views of the surf and beach dwellers below. From the athletic facilities we saw, every single one had a great vantage of the ocean. We almost lost trainer Rebecca, as she was so taken by the athletic training facilities that she was trying to find any way she could stay behind and come across a new job at the university.

I also experienced a little entertainment, as the official scorekeeper for Pt. Loma gave me a dissertation on his love of Lexington, VMI, the city’s history and his hopes that we could find him a job at W&L. I told him we could switch spots, but that didn’t seem to go over too well, I don’t think he was ready to give up San Diego and beautiful weather for the currently ice-cold Lexington.

The game started out with a little bump, as we were supposed to be the home team and Capital the visitor, but since they played the day before and didn’t have their uniforms laundered, we ended up having to switch. But that would be the only setback, as the Generals cruised to a 58-48 victory, defeating a ranked team for only the second time in program history. It was an exciting game, and a great team effort to defeat one of the top teams in the country.

The Generals at Point Loma Nazarene

Everyone was excited after the win, and after staying to watch the first half of Simpson/Pt. Loma game, we headed to the bus and back to the hotel. A little damper had to be placed on the victory celebration, as we shared a bus with Capital to the hotel (also shared one on the way there). It was a bit awkward, but I ended up having a great hockey chat with the radio guy from Capital, which made my day even better because I found someone who appreciated hockey, which I often struggle with in Virginia.

That evening we all loaded onto the ferry to Coronado, catching some beautiful views of downtown San Diego from the water. While most stuck close to the ferry landing, a few brave souls made the trek across the island to the gorgeous Hotel Coronado and grabbed some ice cream from what I was told one of “the top-rated ice cream shops in the US”. A group of us went to a great restaurant, which also overlooked the harbor and downtown San Diego, and enjoyed some fresh and scrumptious seafood before catching the end of the Bears-Vikings football game (Go Bears!) and the last ferry off the island.

Tuesday, December 29

Finally, the day that we had all been waiting for arrived: our trip to the San Diego Zoo! Let me tell you, the excitement about the zoo trumped almost every other sightseeing thing we did in San Diego. It was the buzz at breakfast, and the anticipation continued to grow during a team meeting/practice afterward.

Early afternoon we all loaded on the bus and headed to the zoo. Everyone went in their separate directions after we arrived, but since there is so much to see and so little time, Mandy, Abby, Rebecca, Jeremy and I decided it was best to get on the double-decker bus that drives you around and gives the best overview/highlights of the zoo.  So we boarded the Blitzen bus (all of the buses were named after one of Santa’s reindeer for the holidays) and took in as much as we could from the roof of our bus.

After the bus tour and a little snack, we set out to enjoy the last hour. Since nobody was decisive about what they wanted to see, we ended up trekking to the far corner of the zoo to visit the polar bears, my favorite animal at the San Diego zoo! That day they were a bit lethargic, but in my previous experiences seeing them, when they go after the snacks the trainers throw in the water (we learned romaine lettuce is one of their favorites) they are amazing creatures to watch. By the time we walked in a few circles and made our way to the zoo entrance, it was the end of our time, but a good day.

That evening may have been one of the best nights we had eating out in San Diego. The W&L alumni group in San Diego hosted an event for the team at a restaurant in the Gaslamp District, so we all made our way there.

The highlight may have been the hostess/organizer of the event. She was animated to say the least, and kept most of us chuckling all night. Highlights included her strong declaration of the second floor being for “W&L only”, calling Jeremy a parent/coach/reporter and her constant flattery of the SID department and our abilities to crank out game stories quickly.  She will never be forgotten, and will bring a smile to the face of everyone in attendance with the mere mention of her name.

Another great moment was the way the team DEVOURED the food that was served. The restaurant put out appetizers first, but apparently the girls thought that was the only food they were getting and took it to the face, leaving little for everyone else in attendance. They were nice enough to put together a plate for the coaches from their remnants, but fortunately for everyone else the restaurant quickly put out a main course.

In all it was a great evening, there were plenty of smiles and laughs from everyone to provide a lifetime of memories.

Wednesday, December 30

It was the morning of the big championship game, and one of the last days to take-in the sights and sounds of San Diego.

The Holiday Bowl (Nebraska vs. Arizona) was going on that day, so Rebecca, Jeremy and I decided to head to Harbor Drive and take-in the bowl parade. As a former bandie I love a parade for the marching bands, and a few of the balloons and other entries in the parade were great to watch, another one of those great life experiences to take in because you don’t know when you’ll have an opportunity again. After that I went on my own to visit Seaport Village and grab a bite to eat with my cousin, which was great because I hadn’t seen her in years. After that I was back to the hotel for a little TV (cults and mail order brides on NatGeo…quality TV right?!) and chatting with Rebecca before heading to Pt. Loma for the game.

This was a day that many on the trip may want to put behind, with the game not quite going as hoped, but there was a positive as Becca Bolton was named to the all-tournament team for her efforts in the two games.

After the game the team headed out for one last dinner and night in the Gaslamp District and San Diego. We went to an amazing surf & turf restaurant and had one of the best meals while in the city. A few girls even went top-shelf with their dinner selections, ordering the whole lobster. Once those lobsters arrived, we learned that they were 3.5 pound monsters, and just a smidge over the dinner budget. After remorse and trying to donate money to the women’s basketball program to make up for their expensive taste, the girls took away another story that I’m sure won’t be forgotten anytime soon, and be an inside joke amongst the girls.

Then it was back to the hotel for packing and getting a little rest before the 4:30 am departure to the airport on New Year’s Eve on our trek back to Lexington.

In all, it was a wonderful trip for the girls, parents and staff that were able to make the trip. I believe that there was some persuasion going on to take part in a tournament in NYC next season…so maybe we’ll have tales from the Big Apple next year!