Archive for February, 2010

Tourney Time

February 26, 2010

By: Rachel Buck
Sports Information Assistant

As one season of sports begins its schedule of competition, it seems as though another sport, which has already put in a season of play, is starting a second season with a fresh start. And when it comes down to it, is there anything more exciting than tournament time? Regular season records are put on the back burner, becoming nearly irrelevant as game winners are decided more by the team that plays with more tenacity and heart than the numbers posted over the previous four months.

Maybe that’s what makes any post-season tournament exciting. Take the Olympic men’s hockey tourney for example. Now I know there aren’t a lot of fans in the Lex area that share the passion for hockey like I do, but you have to admit that thus far the play in the tourney has been outstanding. Facing elimination, teams that weren’t expected to compete have played their hardest, leaving it all on the ice because they know it’s do-or-die, opening the matches for anyone to grab. And it’s that tenacity, passion and drive for the game that makes this time of year special.

When you think about it, isn’t the Cinderella story the one everyone cheers for in post-season play (unless your favorite team is also playing)? That one team that has a low seed, isn’t expected to do anything but comes out of nowhere to post some big wins suddenly becomes the darling of the media and wins the hearts of fans. You want to see them do well, you want to see them advance, and when they don’t you feel just a little bit of disappointment that they didn’t go as far as you had hoped, even though they did better than everyone (except themselves and their fans) expected them to. It just oozes human-interest story and captures the hearts and imaginations of thousands.

The success of the W&L men’s basketball team last season is a great example of the Cinderella story. The team entered the ODAC tournament as the number eight seed, knocked off the number one seed in the quarterfinals and eventually advanced to the championship game…the lowest seed to ever play in the championship match. It helped to solidify W&L men’s basketball as a legitimate contender in the conference; no longer just a bottom-feeder that teams expected to beat on a regular basis.

Of course with the thrill of victory comes the agony of defeat, and severe disappointment when you have to realize that your season is over. Everything that you accomplished over the season seems irrelevant over one loss and the feeling that you didn’t go as far and play as well as you should have. It always amazes me how one game can completely change the mood of a team, sending them into the off season with a sense of disappointment and an unsettled feeling of “what could I have done” to make the difference. Also painful to watch are the seniors, knowing they have taken to the field/court/ice for one last time, and having the end of their career coming on a loss. All is forgotten about the excitement of just making it to the tournament, just being a contender, all because the last memory in their minds is a bitter one of a loss.

Amazing how both sides of the story can capture not only those who are a member of the competing school’s community, but also capture the interest of a nation. Hours are spent tracking teams, watching stats, scores and video to make sure not a moment of the action is missed (not to mention to make sure your tournament bracket stays intact). It’s hard to not get caught-up in all of the action and excitement when everyone around you is also interested/partaking. Suddenly the conversation around the water cooler becomes heated as individuals campaign for their favorite teams while finding themselves chatting with people they may not have talked to before, all because one unifying event of a post-season tournament brings a commonality of discussion to the table.

So be sure to tune-in to your favorite collegiate post-season play, whether it is basketball, hockey or any of the other sports that start their second season in March.

And if I may make one more campaign for hockey, I highly recommend tuning into the NCAA tournament this post-season. A great Cinderella story came out of last season’s tourney, with come-out-of-nowhere Bemidji State (for those of you wondering, Bemidji is in Minnesota) advancing to the Frozen Four in Washington, D.C. before falling to Miami of Ohio, who was a Cinderella in their own right. Of course the old standards of Denver University, Boston College, North Dakota and University of Wisconsin-Madison (GO BADGERS!!) are currently predicted be at the Frozen Four in Detroit this year, but the Cinderella’s from last year (Bemidji and Miami-Ohio) and a few new ones this year (a resurging Yale University and Cornell University re-building their programs in addition to the surprise of the season University of Maine) look to mix it up and make their presence known. It should be another exciting tourney!

And of course, good luck to all the W&L teams in their second seasons!

Yoga – What’s the Fuss About

February 25, 2010

By: Wendy Orrison
Head Field Hockey Coach

What’s all the fuss about?  At this point, surely you know someone who is into Yoga and probably wants you to go to a Yoga class with them.  Do it, go.  Yoga is awesome.  I have been dabbling in Yoga for about 10 years I guess.  I became a group fitness Instructor about 20 years ago in order to teach aerobics.  In order to maintain my certification I must get continuing education hours.  At these fitness conferences Yoga started showing up.  Initially it was a master class we could take for fun but was not considered training for our certification.  Slowly that is changing.  Yoga is seeing a ground swell of interest and participation.  Why?  I think it is because anyone can do Yoga.  I am now going through a rather long and lengthy process of getting 200 hours of training so that I can say I’m Yoga certified.

I’m doing my training through a company called Yoga Fit which comes at Yoga from the fitness industry, perfect for me and so many others like me.  The first couple of trainings are solely on poses and class flow and structure.  It is not until later in the training that Chakras and meditation and Sanskrit get introduced as that may not be the level of Yoga that the average gym rat is seeking.

At my past training there were 12 people in my class and we ranged in age from 21 to 56.  We were white, black and Asian.  We were really fit and buff and we were soft and a little overweight.  We had flexible, ballerina type bodies and we had stiff, athletic bodies that do every modification offered.  We all got something out of the training and the practice of Yoga.  We all worked hard, stretched and found new poses that were challenging yet rewarding.  I think that is why yoga is so popular because anybody can do it and there are positive benefits even if you can’t do all of the poses.

I’m teaching the first Yoga PE class here at W&L and it is well attended.  A total of 31 students plus many coaches sneaking in to take the morning class so they can get a jump on their day. There are 4 Yoga classes offered through the campus recreation classes and they are well attended as well.  So if you haven’t tried it yet, go check it out.   Rodney Yee is a one of the big names in Yoga and at one of my trainings he explained that Yoga is for everyone because it is the practice of Yoga.  If you are stiff and tight you will receive benefits and if you are loose and flexible you will gain as well.  That’s why it is called a practice so that we keep at it and we get better…more flexible, stronger, better balance and although not documented, I think happier.  Trust me the Yoga butt is good too.

If you have a minute…

February 23, 2010

By: Brian Laubscher
Sports Information Director

If you have a few minutes this morning or afternoon, check out the story that appears in today’s edition of the Roanoke Times about W&L’s White brothers, Alex and Zac.  Together, they have had a seven-year impact on the transformation of the men’s basketball program at W&L.  Randy King profiles the program’s turnaround through the eyes of the Alex and Zac.

Where we are…

February 19, 2010

By: Brian Laubscher
Sports Information Director

As I sit here at my desk thinking about what I’m going to write this week, I think about where we are.  Not only physically, but mentally and more importantly for an SID, where we are in the seasons and sports schedules.

I sit here wondering where the winter seasons went.  The swimming teams are already finished or are in the midst of their conference championships.  The wrestling team will have its conference championship meet this weekend.  The basketball teams are wrapping up regular season play tomorrow and the indoor track & field teams will have their conference championship meet next weekend.  I must admit that there was a time when I couldn’t wait for the winter seasons to end – not because I don’t like the winter sports (in fact I rather like the winter sports), but because the winter was by far our least successful season.  Feeling like you’ve got a touch of cabin fever from spending every working hour in the Warner Center doesn’t help either.  Being outside definitely makes me happier.

Now, obviously I’m at the point where I would like to see the seasonal weather change (see previous blog about snow), but for the first time ever, I’m not sure I’m ready for the winter seasons to end.  This has been the most pleasurable winter season I have experienced and I won’t lie, it’s because the men’s and women’s basketball teams are fun to watch and they are WINNING GAMES!!!! Both teams are experiencing their best seasons in a long time and both are positioning themselves quite well for the ODAC Tournament that begins next week in Salem, Va.

The W&L men are 16-8 overall and 8-7 in the conference.  One more win would give the Generals their most victories in a season since the 1988-89 season.  A win over Eastern Mennonite on Saturday combined with a Hampden-Sydney loss to Virginia Wesleyan would give W&L the No. 5 seed for the ODAC Tournament, which comes with a first round bye.  A W&L loss or a win coupled with an H-SC win would have the Generals as the No. 6 seed and they would host Emory & Henry on Tuesday at 7:00 pm in the first round of the tournament.  As evidenced by last year’s run to the ODAC title game, anything is possible and this year promises to be a tremendous men’s tournament with four ODAC teams ranked in the Top 25.

The W&L women are 14-8 overall and 13-5 in conference play.  The 13 conference wins are tied for the most in program history (accomplished last season) and the Generals could finish anywhere from No. 2 to No. 5 in the ODAC Tournament seedings.  W&L currently sits in third place, one game out of second place and one game out of fourth place with two games remaining.  W&L will play Roanoke (20-2, 17-1) this evening and Bridgewater (16-7, 12-6) on Saturday.  The Generals fell to the Maroons by just three points earlier this season in Salem and defeated Bridgewater on the road by nine points.  The women’s tournament also looks to be wide open and should be an exciting event.

If you’ve got a chance, come to the Salem Civic Center to check out the action.  The women’s tournament gets underway with the quarterfinals on Thursday.  Game times are 1:00/3:00/6:00/8:00.   The men begin with the first round games for seeds 6-11 on Tuesday at 7:00 at on-campus sites.  The quarterfinals will be on Friday at 1:00/3:00/6:00/8:00.  The men’s and women’s semifinals are on Saturday at 1:00/3:00 (women) and 6:00/8:00 (men), while the championship games are on Sunday at 1:00 pm (women) and 3:30 pm (men).

For tickets, call the Salem Civic Center at 540-375-3004.  Various packages are available.

As the excitement continues to build over the winter conference championships, an SID must also keep an eye on what’s to come and the spring seasons get into full swing next week as well.  Both lacrosse teams begin play mid-week, while the baseball team hopes to open on Sunday at Oglethorpe in Atlanta – they should be weeks into the season already but the weather has not cooperated.  Tennis has already gotten underway and riding hopes to begin this weekend as well.  Golf will be the last to get started, opening March 1 at the Callaway Collegiate in Georgia.

So there you have it.  An explanation of where we are when it comes to W&L sports.  It’s a busy time that often leads to thoughts about simply surviving, but it’s also an exciting time to be a fan of W&L sports.  Go Generals!

It’s Habit Forming!

February 17, 2010

By: Jan Hathorn
Athletic Director

I don’t know about you, but watching our women’s and men’s basketball teams is my new, latest addiction.  (That’s not to say that I have all these addictions, or a past history of addictions, but I’m forming one now!)  Very simply put, this is fun!  Team work, hustle, intelligence, competitive fire… all the stuff you expect out of a well-coached group of women and men.  Very impressive student-athletes playing very solid, exciting basketball.

If you haven’t seen these teams play, you’ve missed something.  And your opportunities to see them play are quickly running out.  Come out to the last home games of the season this week and treat yourself to some great basketball.  The men play Roanoke tonight and the women play Roanoke on Friday night and Bridgewater on Saturday afternoon.  This is good stuff.  This is Division III at its best.  And this is why I love athletics!  It’s habit forming!

One man’s trash is another’s treasure

February 15, 2010

By: Josh Williamson
Head Athletic Trainer

Snow.  It seems like we have way too much of it here lately.  It has really thrown a wrench into schedules here and made me look at it as a burden.  But, as they say, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

The winter Olympics have reminded me how true this saying is…there are a lot of people out there that appreciate all the white stuff we’ve received.  Places like Massanutten and Wintergreen have benefited from not having to create artificial snow and from all the those adventurers seeking some winter recreation.  It also made me think about those people who experience the boom of their business during the summer (landscapers, farmers, etc) but have equipment to clear snow.  The extra money they are able to earn helps them through these “leaner” months.  So, while I’ve had to deal with schedules being changed frequently (as have a lot of others), I’ve tried to remind myself that it’s only temporary and that it has benefited a lot of people.  That being said, I’m still definitely ready for spring…

Del Clark’s Renewed Cancer Battle

February 15, 2010

By: Brian Laubscher
Sports Information Director

Generals’ fan may or may not remember Del Clark ’90 from his days as a member of the W&L basketball team.  His career involved just 23 games and 16 total points scored for Generals teams that went a combined 31-20 over his rookie and sophomore seasons.  However, fans and classmates may remember Del for why his career ended after just two seasons — a cancerous brain tumor.  Del won his fight with cancer in the late 1980’s and moved on to a successful legal career, but sadly he is once again battling for his life some 20 years later.  You can find out more about Del’s struggle by visiting the Washington and Lee News Blog.

Olympics are here!

February 12, 2010

By: Kris Hoey
Head Women’s Cross Country Coach

The 2010 Winter Olympic Games start today!!!! http://www.vancouver2010.com/

For the next 17 days, athletes from all across the world will come together in Vancouver to compete for their country in hopes from an Olympic Medal.

When checking in to the TV schedule for the next few weeks, I got even more excited.  Here are the top 5 things I Love about the Winter Olympics:

5.  Skeleton— It was actually named for the “sled” you ride on, not for what you will end up as if you fall off the thing traveling nearly 90 MPH.

4.  Short track speed skating—The races are very tactical and exciting to watch.

3.  The Medals Ceremony—hearing our National Anthem over and over…..in this venue, it just never gets old.

2. Downhill skiing—has an added allure for me this year with my new found hobby. I feel like I know more about what is going on. Read more about my skiing debut here:

https://wlusidelines.wordpress.com/2010/01/25/first-time-for-everything/

1. The Commercials—There is just nothing like the Olympics to make for some commercials that really touch your heart…here is one that captures mine.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWYRH5jnQBo

I truly love sports at every level but there is just something so special about the Olympics.

MY 5 STAR GENERALS

February 10, 2010

By: Neil Cunningham
Head Women’s Soccer Coach

As a head coach here at Washington and Lee, it is easy to get caught up in your own team and your own players. We spend so much time together during the season, whether it is at practice, a game or during social gatherings as a team. I applaud all the many things the women’s soccer players do on and off the field for themselves, the program and the school.  I am constantly impressed.

After spending a few years at an institution like Washington and Lee and making an effort to see other teams play, you notice that we have some pretty amazing student-athletes.

I have been fortunate to see some special athletes from a variety of sports in my nine years here.  One of the many benefits of my job is the ability to follow teams and get to know the students.

When I watch a game I look for certain qualities that I love to see in players. First and foremost is a sound foundation in the technical skills required to play the game.  A competitive spirit that exists in games and more importantly, in practice, is a requirement.   Mental toughness in key situations separates the best from the rest. Last, above all else, a passion for the game must be apparent.

There are a few student athletes that stand out in my mind this academic year.  I love to watch them play.  They inspire me and make their game fun to watch.

Rachael Phillips: Women’s Volleyball (Bio / Stats)
A fierce competitor with a great court demeanor. She crushes the ball.

Sallie Armstrong: Field Hockey (Bio / Stats)
Competitive, hates to lose and inspires everyone around her.

Meg Ingram/Becca Bolton: Women’s Basketball (Meg Bio / Becca Bio / Stats)
Watch this tandem. When the game is on the line they want the ball, so give it to them!

Ben Goetsch: Men’s Basketball (Bio / Stats)
Mr consistent for me. He just puts up numbers every game and works so hard. Love the way he also pushes the younger players.

Matt Cassilly: Football (Bio / Stats)
A relentless competitor who makes the most of his talents. Great work rate.

Midweek Thoughts

February 9, 2010

By: Nate Jervey
Assistant Sports Information Director

If only Punxsutawney Polamalu had been correct and there were indeed six more weeks of football I would be beyond thrilled. Sadly, Punxsutawney Polamalu does not even exist and the end of football season is upon us following what was one of the better Super Bowls that I can recall seeing.

I am a diehard Chicago sports fan, so I really had no rooting interest in the game. On the one hand, I like Peyton Manning and think that he has always been a class act on and off the field. He will be remembered as one of the greatest football players to ever don a uniform when it is all said and done. He also has some underrated comedic chops (see the episode of SNL that he hosted…comedic gold).

On the other hand, I can appreciate the impact that the Saints have had on the city of New Orleans and what that football team means to people in that community and beyond. Also Drew Brees went to Purdue and I remember watching him in his college days and being from Michigan I have some Big 10 allegiances to consider.

I was glad that the game became close following the Colts scoring 10 quick points. New Orleans’ Head Coach Sean Payton also has some series nerves as the decision to attempt an onside kick to open the second half was brilliant. Too bad that the game was decided on a poor play by the greatest quarterback of our generation, but Peyton should have known better. Tracy Porter was the same dude that picked off Brett “Will I, or won’t I come back” Favre to seal the Saints’ win over Minnesota in the NFC Championship game. I don’t know if I believe in destiny or anything but even I know that you don’t throw the ball at a guy that has this haircut.

If the game was pretty exciting and thoroughly enjoyable, I must say that the other reason that I watched was for the commercials and I gotta say that I was pretty disappointed with them. E*TRADE’s “milkaholic” commercial was decent. Betty White saying “that’s not what your girlfriend said” was classic and the baby telling his mother’s potential suitor to keep his hands off his mom and his Doritos was pretty solid. Other than that, it was a pretty weak lineup I thought. Additionally, did anybody else notice that the commercials seemed to be grouped together? There was the break with both the Dockers “no pants” commercial, which followed the casual Friday commercial. Ok I get it, they aren’t wearing any pants. Do we really need back-to-back commercials of middle-aged men running around in their superhero underoos? Talk about a wardrobe malfunction. There were also commercial breaks that featured back-to-back commercials with people getting slapped (I can’t recall the exact commercials) and consecutive commercials with little people in them, one of which was the KISS commercial. It was just something that we noticed watching the game and found a little annoying.

Now that football has officially ended, it is time for NFL fans to gear themselves up for the combine (surprisingly watchable), the draft (in prime time no less), free agency (Julius Peppers anyone?) and training camp. My least favorite thing about the offseason is undoubtedly going to be Brett Favre Retirement Watch Aught-10. This promises to be more less intriguing than last season’s watch and perhaps even more exciting pointless than the original. Its not often that a saga’s sequels live up to the billing of the first (i.e. The Fast and the Furious franchise), however America seems to get more and more wrapped up in the career choice of a 40-year old recovering alcoholic and drug addict with each passing year. Personally, I don’t see it. Favre is great, no question, but I have more important things to do than sit on pins and needles about his decision to return or retire. For those of you that can in fact sit on pins and needles (painful I would imagine), more power to you and be sure to let me know on opening day what he decided.

Football has ended, but it is not the end of the world guys. March Madness is drawing near, pretty soon we will be hearing one of the greatest phrases in sports “Pitchers and catchers report,” and I suppose if you aren’t into baseball or basketball you could (heaven forbid) follow hockey. Rachel told me in the office the other day that the Canadiens’ General Manager had stepped down. My first reaction was to ponder why Canada had a general manager. Next, I pondered how one becomes a general manager of an entire country. Lastly, I wondered where Canada’s GM would rank in comparison to the country’s Prime Minister and other political offices. It was then that I realized that she was not speaking of a country, but in fact the Montreal Canadiens’s of the National Hockey League. Apparently, there is this sport called “hockey” and in said sport one glides around on knives fastened to one’s shoes with the apparent goal (no pun intended) of putting a black piece of rubber into the net that is being defended by Jason from Friday the 13th. Apparently, Rachel is a big fan of this relatively unknown sport and I guess Canada plays a lot of it. Who knew?

College basketball is heating up, with this week being the proclaimed “Rivalry Week.” You know the drill, Duke-UNC, Texas-Kansas, Syracuse-UConn., Michigan State-Purdue. Some pretty good basketball on the rest of the week, not to mention the W&L women’s team hosting Emory & Henry tonight (Tuesday) at 7:00 pm in the Warner Center as well, so there should be some decent sporting events to catch in the absence of football.

Tough game for W&L men’s hoops on Monday night. The Generals rallied from 15 points down with 15 minutes to play and pulled within one point on two different occasions in the final minutes, but could not quite get over the hump and they ultimately fell, 56-53, to No. 18 Randolph-Macon. Sitting at 13-7 overall and 5-6 in the ODAC, the Generals still have an outside shot at cracking the Top 4 in the league and with four different teams boasting six or seven league losses, and R-MC having four league losses, it is going to be a mad dash to the finish as the ODAC prepares for its annual conference tournament at the Salem Civic Center. Highlights from last night’s game included a pretty solid ally-oop from first-year guard Jeremy Adkins to senior forward Zac White. Adkins must really like playing R-MC, as he scored 14 points in his first career start when W&L defeated the Yellow Jackets two weeks ago, then last night he tops that with a game-high 15 points. It definitely appears that Jeremy Adkins doesn’t mind seeing the Yellow Jackets on the schedule. Also, Head Coach Adam Hutchinson secured his 100th career victory not too long ago and he is currently fourth all-time at Washington and Lee with 67 victories.

Anyway, its snowing once again and if you planning on going out and about use caution. Be sure to check out the pair of W&L women’s basketball home games this week (Tuesday at 7:00 pm and Saturday at 2:00 pm) and do not miss next Monday’s men’s basketball home game as they host Guilford College. That would be the No. 1 Guilford Quakers, the best team in the country according to people that know more about such things than I. Alright, enough rambling for me. Enjoy the snow and be sure to make it out to the Warner Center this week.