Archive for January, 2012

An Introduction

January 31, 2012

By: Brittani Sahm
Sports Information Assistant

With this being my first official blog entry at W&L, I should probably start by letting you know a little bit about me. My name is Brittani. Yes, that sounds like Brittany, only with an “I” at the end. I have heard so many versions of my name by now you probably won’t surprise me anyway.

Now that you know my name, I can move on to how I ended up in Lexington.

I grew up in a little town about 25 miles north of Syracuse, NY, which is technically located in central NY, absolutely not upstate. I forgive people for this common misconception because, for some reason, that has become the norm. My town, Phoenix, isn’t so different from Lexington, but it happens to be next to a river rather than in the middle of the mountains.

Although my town was small, bigger towns in all directions surrounded me. I was lucky enough to have everything I needed (mall, strip mall, chain restaurants, grocery stores, etc.) be a five-minute drive away. I honestly never realized how secluded most other places were until I went away to college, and even further realized it when I interned for a semester at Williams College. I now know how spoiled the retail industry has been to my area and me.

My high school was pretty tiny. I guess for Virginia it wouldn’t be, but the area I’m from the normal graduating class is about 300. John C. Birdlebough High School in Phoenix, NY walked 179 kids in the year 2008, my graduation. To describe me in one word, I was a NERD. I did all my homework, sucked up to teachers and actually got upset if my grade was below a 90 in any class.

After high school was done, I moved on to SUNY Cortland, a state school that has not only helped significantly lower my debt, but has helped me figure out what I want in this crazy life. I have a bachelor’s degree in sport management, with a minor in computer applications. Our sport management program is one of the best in the country, so I was fortunate to have plenty of great professors and resources on campus.

I guess the nerd inside me never left because I was able to graduate in 3½ years while being on the track and field team. I don’t really know why I planned on graduating early, but it worked out great; I was a member of the staff here at W&L before I even received my diploma. I still don’t know if home has gotten that beautiful piece of paper in the mail yet.

By the way, if you haven’t already figured it out, I am 21 years old. I turn 22 in two weeks (woo!), and I am one of the youngest staff members in athletics, probably in all of the school.

Anyway, how did I end up at W&L? Pretty simple actually. As I said before, I interned at Williams up in Massachusetts this last fall semester. I was searching for jobs and stumbled upon a sports information assistant listing. It sounded perfect for someone like me who is new to the field but at least can manage on a daily basis. I had never heard of the school, but I was called about an interview, was offered the job, and now am almost two months into it.

I can’t imagine being anywhere else at this point in my life. I love my job, my bosses are awesome, and I have made some great friends already. I will admit that it has been difficult at times. I miss home a lot. My family was my life, but I have come to realize that they will always be there. The work is definitely not easy. The adjustment from college work to real-life work has been hard, but I don’t give up.

Lexington is my new home, and the Generals are my new favorite team. I’m ready for even more experiences. Oh, and anytime you see me, whether it be at a game or running around town or at Kroger’s, feel free to say hello. I always love meeting new people!

The Giant Run

January 27, 2012

By: Brandon Uhl
Head Men’s Track & Field Coach

Hopefully I'll be seeing this again soon.

As a lifelong New York Football Giants fan, I’m very happy to see them back in the Super Bowl. It’s crazy to think that after the way they were playing mid-season that they would be in position to win another Super Bowl.

On the Men’s track and field team here at W&L, we all have our favorite football teams. During the fall, Monday’s often become a time for joking around about how each of our teams faired that Sunday. I personally took some shots when the Giants were on a long losing streak and their coaching staff was on the hot seat.

Now that the Giants have obviously righted the ship and the coaching staff has saved their jobs for another year, I could tell everyone how great the Giants are and be that overzealous fan. That’s not my style; I like to remain quietly confident in the Giants.

That’s exactly what they’ve done as a team and coaching staff.  When it seemed like they were down and out, they started getting healthy and playing with confidence. They became a team on a roll (eerily similar to 2007 postseason run).

As fate would have it, there’s now the rematch of that same Super Bowl back in 2008 against those Patriots, lead by Brady and Belichick. I personally like Belichick;  back in 1986 and 1990 he was the Giants defensive coordinator, and those defenses were nasty, just like the one they have now can be.

The rematch has me a little worried. Everyone knows the Patriots haven’t forgotten about the Giants ruining their perfect season. I’m also in a little wager with an athlete on our team who is a Patriots fan from Foxborough, MA. If the Patriots win the game, I have to wear the cut off sleeved hooded sweatshirt like Belichick wears at our first outdoor meet. That could be funny to see!

However, wearing that goofy sweatshirt hopefully is not going to happen. Hopefully, Eli Manning is going to prove that he is an elite quarterback like he said at the beginning of the year and caught tons of flak for doing. The defense will hopefully cause Brady to have flashbacks to 2008 when he was flustered and out of character.

All that being said, let’s hope for football fans everywhere that it’s a good game and the commercials are funnier than ever. To all the Giants fans out there, ALL-IN!

Coaching as a career

January 20, 2012

By: Jane Beall
Assistant Field Hockey Coach

There was a time when...

When I was a young girl and people would ask, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” I never responded “a field hockey coach at a highly-academic Division III institution.” Up until about six months ago, my honest response would have been a whale and dolphin trainer at Sea World, but here I am, in my second year of coaching at W&L and very happy.  While coaching may not come up as an answer to that common question as often as teacher, doctor or astronaut, I would assert that it’s an equally satisfying and challenging choice of career.

During the summer of 2009, I worked as a summer associate for a big law firm in a big city.  Before returning to school, I started plotting my next step with my aunt.  The firm I worked for was great, and I loved D.C., but I went home every night that summer worrying that I had overlooked some critical case and that the memo I had just submitted to a partner was completely wrong.  I spent all my daylight hours inside in a nice office with a view of a beautiful of a city I could only explore a couple of hours on the weekend.  I wore suits that felt more like costumes.  Butterflies of anxiety had taken up residence in my stomach for three straight months.  I knew I couldn’t sustain the lifestyle, despite the fact that I liked the firm a lot and I really, really liked the paycheck.  So, I sat down with my aunt and made a list of things I didn’t like about that job that were dealbreakers in my next one.  This was my list:

1.    I don’t want to do the same thing all day.

2.    I don’t want to do the same thing all year.

3.    I want to be able to go outside.

4.    I don’t want anyone to lose any money if I make a mistake.

5.    I want to be able to wear an elastic waistband to work.

This look just wasn't for me

Really, #5 should be higher on the list, because it was pretty important to me.  Once in writing, it became pretty clear that coaching was the right fit.  Wendy, my former head coach and my forever-mentor, welcomed me back to W&L and the past eighteen months have been a blast.  We have a graduating student-athlete who is interested in going into coaching, and I can’t encourage her enough to pursue a career in athletics.

Wendy and I just got back from our National Field Hockey Coaches’ Association Convention, and it got me jazzed about what I do all over again.  I have learned so much about how to motivate, persuade, and unite people by coaching.  As far as I know, no one has suffered financially when I have messed up.  No day since I have started has been the same as any other, and not only am I allowed to go outside a couple hours of day, it’s a job requirement.

So, I hope that I have, at least in part, proved my thesis that coaching can be satisfying and challenging.  If anyone out there is considering coaching at any level, but feels like he or she has to yield to the expectations of others, I would say coach.  While I do sometimes think about what it would have been like to swim with Shamu, I remember about how much I hate the smell of fish and feel contented again.

Five Years and a World Away

January 17, 2012

By: Brian Laubscher
Sports Information Director

Wow!  Where has the time gone?  My last blog entry was way back on November 4 and so much has happened in that time.  Unfortunately, I did not win the lottery (see my last entry), but I’m still trying and I now have been entering to win the HGTV Dream House 2012 since it appears the numbers just aren’t aligning for me.

Since my last entry, I took my parental leave, an extended leave that the school has been so generous to allow for.  I was off for better than six weeks and I enjoyed every minute of just me and the little guy.  In truth, I never imagined how hard and rewarding it would be (as evidenced by how I could look at the clock and realize it was 2 PM and I had yet to make the bed or shower).  There’s certainly a blog entry to be had about my time home with Parker, but I’m going to choose a different path today.  I’m going to write about another life-changing event that occurred some five years ago this week.

I had one of these in my pocket every day for 18 years

Actually, life-changing may not be the proper term, perhaps I should say life-saving when referring to giving up something I did at least 10-15 times per day for all of 18 years.  I’m amazed that now there are so many people that don’t know this, but I started smoking at the age of 15 and continued to suck down heaters all day every day until this week in 2007.  There were so many life experiences that I had during those formative years and every step of the way was that comforting friend (or so I thought at the time) that came along for the ride.  When I woke up, when I went to bed, after each meal and when I was stressed, the old Marlboro Reds found their way to my lips.  After a while, you begin to feel like smoking is as much a part of you as eating or breathing.  I got trapped into thinking I couldn’t live without them and for many years the beat went on.

Friends, family, perfect strangers, they all tried to tell me what I was doing to myself, but I hadn’t died yet and after so long, it didn’t seem like taking another hit was doing any damage at all.  It wasn’t until New Year’s Eve 2006 that I decided it was time for a change.  Let’s just say things happened, I looked in the mirror and decided that I needed to make some changes for the better.  It still took me a couple of weeks to work up to it, but I announced to friends and co-workers that the time had come.  I had tried many times before, but this time I actually did some reading and research.  I read that all the times before, I didn’t give in because I was weak, I gave in because the addiction was stronger than I was.  I realized it was okay to want a cigarette and to want to quit at the same time.  Once I had armed myself with the facts, I gave myself the support system to help make it work.  My staff of Austin Calhoun and Molly Reid were my most closest supporters and encouraged me throughout the long days.  The worst though were the nights.  Cold sweats and nightmares that I had given in to my desires were rough, but eventually one day led to two and one week led to one month, etc.  I rewarded myself with gifts by making each goal.  First was something small like buying a movie DVD and I worked up to bigger more expensive things (which was okay because I was saving the money I had spent on cigarettes).

The biggest challenge was when I headed to the bars with friends since smoking and drinking definitely went together.  I almost gave in the first time I went out for drinks, but another former assistant and then avid smoker Scott McGuinness talked me out of my urges.  Scott would also later quit and has probably two years under his belt.

The next thing I knew the following fall had begun and I was counting down the days to one year.  I’m not going to lie and say I never tried another cancer stick, but whenever I did (which was rare, I’ve maybe had three since quitting), it only reinforced why I had quit.  As one year approached, I decided to grow a beard and not trim it or my hair until I reached the magical one year mark.  I’m not sure any pictures exist of this unflattering look (they did at some point but I don’t really have the time to go looking), but I can tell you it was heaven when the barber took it all off (though she talked me into leaving a mustache and Austin laughed at me all day and told me she couldn’t take orders from someone who looked as silly as I did).  The ‘stache came off a day later.  I also bought myself a $250 present, a vintage 1980 Philadelphia Eagles Ron Jaworski jersey from Mitchell & Ness, which still gets me high fives at the local BW3’s on football Sundays.

As I look back, I can’t begin to understand why I ever started or why it took me so long to quit.  I am only comforted by the fact that despite being older and probably still a few pounds heavier, I feel so much better physically than I did.  I also know that as a smoker I would have never met my wife and my son Parker would never have been a reality without the decision that I made and the support that I received some five years ago.  To those who helped and encouraged me I say thank you.  To those who read this and have yet to quit, I say there’s still time.

P.S. I’ll try to be less deep and meaningful with my February entry. 🙂

W&L to George Mason

January 13, 2012

By: Rachel Buck
Assistant SID, George Mason University
Special to the Sidelines Blog

That's me, right behind Paul Hewitt, doing the official TV stats for our game against Georgia State.

It’s been just over two months since I left Washington and Lee and headed to George Mason University and the Washington, D.C. area, one of my favorite places in the country.

The transition to Division I athletics has been pretty smooth, and I’m enjoying my new surroundings and coworkers. It helped that I arrived right as the men’s soccer season was drawing to a close and my spring sports don’t start until this weekend, so it’s been an easy couple of months adjusting to the office and department expectations. But ask me again in three weeks when three of my four sports are in action and I’m traveling with the baseball team five out of seven days of the week and my opinion may be different  🙂

A lot of the responsibilities are the same: stats, player bios, maintaining the website, media guides. Those responsibilities belong to anyone in the SID world, no matter the division.

Then there are the differences. The biggest one for me is that I no longer have to do PA at games!!!!!! (Anyone who has worked with me in the past knows why I gave that line an excessive amount of !). In fact, many of the responsibilities I had at W&L (PA, warm-up music, stat spotters, scoreboard ops) are now taken off my hands.

This new phenomenon may throw me into some sort of panic mode on Friday, my first men’s volleyball game. I can see it now: I arrive at the arena and immediately question why there isn’t music playing, or freak out because I don’t have a script prepared and wonder if I really talked to the spotter/scoreboard op to make sure they are going to be there.  I’m sure I’ll adjust over time, but for now my coworkers have to tolerate me asking a million questions about gameday responsibilities that are no longer mine.

Increased media coverage is something I’m also learning to embrace. Knowing the D.C. sports media base from my time with the Washington Capitals is a big benefit, and it always feels good to see a story I pitched in the newspaper a couple days later.

I’ve also had the opportunity to do official stats for MASN and CSN during our televised men’s basketball games, watch Marquette practice twice at the RAC (they had an unofficial scrimmage in the fall and practiced here again last week in between games at Georgetown and Syracuse) and help produce video content for our website in addition to doing a lot of feature writing showcasing our student-athletes, which I love.

One of the coolest events I was a part of was with our men’s volleyball team in December. As a part of the SportsUnited program, our men’s team hosted a group of female volleyball coaches from Iraq. I’ll spare you a lot of the details (if you want to read the article here is the link http://www.gomason.com/ViewArticle.dbml?SPSID=611148&SPID=84995&DB_LANG=C&ATCLID=205345766&DB_OEM_ID=25200), but it was absolutely amazing to sit down and talk with one of the women about living in Iraq and how sport plays an important role in her life. It really opened my eyes to sports as a cultural bridge, looking beyond the superficial placards Americans often place on their athletes and seeing that down at the grassroots level sport can be used to unify people from diverse backgrounds.

So what’s next on the docket for me? Like I mentioned earlier, this weekend will be my first foray into stating men’s volleyball and then mid-February brings baseball season…which I’m really excited for because the coaching staff is great (two of the assistant coaches played at ODAC schools), and baseball is my second-favorite sport behind hockey. During the baseball season I will also have the opportunity to do some color commentary for the team on the road, so if you want to hear Uecker-isms and me waxing poetic about my Milwaukee Brewers during a college game be sure to tune in!

Outside of the sports world, well it seems like the possibilities are endless for things to do. Just a short Metro ride away in D.C. is concert venues (I’ve become a regular at Black Cat and 9:30 in addition to Jammin’ Java in Vienna), Kennedy Center performances (already been to an opera and have tickets to the ballet next week), a plethora of museums to peruse and of course Caps, Nats and Georgetown games. Add in the fact that it’s an election year (which is awesome for a political junkie like me) and I’m sure I’ll manage to stay out of trouble.

Of course, Lexington will always hold a special place in my heart, and I’m hoping to make it back soon to see everyone. A person can only live so long without the sights of the beautiful mountains, a sandwich from Blue Sky or chocolates from Cocoa Mill.