It’s Tournament Time!!

March 19, 2013 by

By: Brittani Sahm
Sports Information Assistant

Just so everyone is witness to this, and I can’t get in trouble by Chip, I would like to start off with a big birthday shout-out to Lydia Whipple! She has been nothing but super nice to me since she and Chip have gotten to Lexington and she deserves an awesome day of celebrating.

It is March. It may seem like I’m stating the obvious (and I am), but with this month comes March Madness. One of my most favorite and also least favorite times of the year. There is so much excitement around your team making the NCAA Tournament that we almost forget this means the end of the season. I wouldn’t want it to end any other way, but it is such a bittersweet time, especially because I have been through plenty of disappointing tournaments as a Syracuse fan.

Brandon Triche and the Syracuse Orange tip off their tournament on Thursday at 9:57 pm!

Brandon Triche and the Syracuse Orange tip off their tournament on Thursday at 9:57 pm!

Could this be the year Syracuse takes it all? It has been exactly 10 years since the Orange last won the Championship so who knows. The region brackets are unbalanced this year and I think SU is on the better side of this. The Orange looked much better at the Big East Tournament than they had in the last month of the season with better looks at the basket, more efficient passing and more confidence overall. It also doesn’t hurt that James Southerland decided to break the one-and-only Gerry McNamara’s made three-pointers in the tournament record (19). I don’t project Syracuse to make it further than the Elite Eight, but I am a believer that crazier things have happened and anyone could pull off the win with the right balance of talent and luck.

With all that being said, I’ll list my Final Four predictions. I’m nowhere near an expert and I absolutely do not encourage people to agree with me. As Chip told me yesterday, I will be the only person with this outcome if it happens. All the more bragging rights for me. 🙂

Midwest Region:

No. 1 Louisville – I am most confident about this pick because the Cardinals are looking unstoppable at this point. The way they tore apart Syracuse’s zone and in the process destroyed all my hopes and dreams in the Big East Tournament was insane. I give them credit, they are really good. I’m not bitter about losing to a team that clearly outplayed the Orange. This was Louisville’s theme throughout the entire tournament though. Our Sports Information Director, Brian, is a big Villanova fan. After the second round game, he came into the office and told us there was no way a team could beat Louisville when it plays well. I figured a team couldn’t hold that up in three-straight games, but I definitely was wrong. About midway through the regular season, they looked a little sloppy and lost three-straight at one point (starting with the memorable Syracuse upset), but the Cards have found their way back and will be the team to beat in this year’s tournament.

South Region:

No. 1 Kansas – I have no basis for this pick. I just think Kansas has the best advantage in its matchups which will lead it to make it this far. The Jayhawks may have a tough second round, where they’ll face either Villanova or North Carolina. Both teams have had an up-and-down season, but they can perform in the tournament. Once that round is over, the next big challenge is Florida, who should make it to the Elite Eight. I know that’s not guaranteed, but the Gators had some nice wins in the SEC Tournament before falling to a surprisingly put-together Ole Miss team. Because of the inconsistencies of the teams in the South Region, I think Kansas has the best chance to make it through.

East Region:

No. 2 Miami – I don’t really trust Miami to make it this far, but like I said before, this bracket is probably the weakest of the four. The teams are obviously talented, the seeds just aren’t as strong when compared to the other regions, in my opinion. The Hurricanes have a pretty smooth road to the Final Four, facing 15th-seeded Pacific in the first round and then either No. 10 Colorado or No. 7 Illinois in the second. I see an upset waiting to happen in that first-round match, with Colorado taking the win. Its’ luck will end there because as iffy as Miami can be, it is ending the year well with an ACC Championship. I’m thinking (or maybe I’m hoping) it will meet Syracuse in the Elite Eight. SU’s zone is tough on those who aren’t used to it and the Hurricanes aren’t a great team from distance, but with the hectic end of the year the Orange has had, they may just be tired and fold under pressure. Miami takes it and advances to the Championship game.

West Region:

No. 5 Wisconsin – This is kind of a long shot. You gotta have some fun when the Tournament comes around. You know there’s always going to be some team that surprises people. A five seed really isn’t that big of a surprise, but I thought an upset over top-seeded Gonzaga seemed to spice things up. In all seriousness, I really have no statistical data to back up this decision. A rematch of the Big 10 Tournament could happen in the Elite Eight, where the Badgers redeem themselves with a win over Ohio State. Now that would be exciting. The choice is not completely off base, as Wisconsin just beat Michigan and Indiana in the conference tournament. Yes, its season has been up-and-down, but whose hasn’t? It’s the Badgers’ time to shine, but they unfortunately face Louisville in the next round.

Final Prediction: Louisville and Miami. No doubt Louisville continues its awesome run and wins it all, 74-68. That is the minimum Miami would lose by.

My picks may be crazy and largely unsupported with real data and evidence of what could/should happen. We’re all just having fun anyway. Until the Syracuse game is on, then I’m all business. In some aspect, I would like to be wrong because I want SU to make it all the way. Not only would it quiet the critics, I’d get to see my favorite player of all time win a Championship. That’s right, Brandon Triche, I’m looking out for you. I’ve been an avid fan of his since he set foot on the court, and the day he parts ways with Syracuse will be tough on me. You may not see me for a few days. Hopefully that’s much later in the Tournament. LET’S GO ‘CUSE!

Season Reflection

March 15, 2013 by

By: John Geissinger
Assistant Swimming Coach

The 2012-13 ODAC Champion Generals!

The 2012-13 ODAC Champion Generals!

This will be my last blog entry while we are “in season”. We started back in September and will be bringing four men to the NCAA meet in Texas next week. While we certainly have goals for this upcoming meet we already have had a wildly successful year.

The men finished with an overall meet record of 8-2, with the women posting a 10-3 mark. Highlights began almost immediately for the team and continued through the midseason invite, where we saw Rick Sykes qualify automatically for Nationals; Emma Swabb took down the 400 IM Record, and a team composed of two freshman, a sophomore, and a senior set a new school record in the 200 Medley Relay.

At the conference meets both squads swam very well. The women captured their sixth straight ODAC Championship and 23rd overall. For the awards Delaney Rolfe was ODAC Scholar-Athlete AGAIN, Caroline Hamp was Swimmer of the Year, and Emma Swabb was Rookie of the Year. They also set seven school records. For the men, the meet was just as successful. Rick Sykes captured the 50 freestyle crown against DII competition, Wayde Marsh broke the 100 backstroke record, and Tyler Gehrs broke the 200 IM record! All together the men set four new school records at the Bluegrass meet and set themselves up well for the NCAA competition.

At the NCAA meet, Rick Sykes will swim the 50 and 100 free individually, along with the 200 and 400 medley relays. We will also be putting up a 200 free relay at the meet. Wayde Marsh will swim the 100 and the 200 back at the championships, while also competing on the relays. Brennan Haley and David Ireland are the other two legs of the relays, with Haley being able to compete individually in the 200 backstroke.

Be sure to follow us as we compete next week at NCAAs! GO GENERALS!

Which Do You Prefer?

March 13, 2013 by

By: Scott Abell
Head Football Coach

I like watching the Heat.

I like watching the Heat.

Parity or dominance, which do you prefer?  This question is asked often in the world of sports and we can watch ESPN nightly to see examples of both.  Do you like to see that dominant team or athlete, like the Miami Heat, or Tiger Woods in his prime, or do you prefer the parity that NCAA basketball has turned into and some would argue the NFL also?

I for one enjoy watching that dominant team or individual, not so much because I enjoy seeing one team win everything but I enjoy watching the story that unfolds.  For example, I am not much of an NBA fan but I find myself watching, not rooting for, the Heat.  Maybe because I like seeing greatness and watching all the Jordan comparisons, which by the way is ridiculous.  There is no comparison — Jordan hands down gets the nod, or maybe its watching the great upsets that unfold at the hands of these dominant teams and figures?  Keep in mind great upsets can only happen if there are truly dominant teams or individuals.

As we approach March Madness and the NCAA tournament it is safe to say this year’s tournament will have a great deal of parity, and I will admit I’m not sure it’s a good thing.  There will be no great upsets like NC State beating Houston in 1983, because we know going into it there is no dominant team.  People always remember those years of great upsets or dominant performances by dominant teams.  This is just my opinion and I know that many will disagree.  To everyone, enjoy March Madness!

Hall of Fame 2013

March 8, 2013 by

By: Brian Laubscher
Sports Information Director

Just a few hours ago, I put out a news release announcing the 2013 Washington and Lee Athletic Hall of Fame class.  It’s always fun to release the new group of inductees, but this year is truly special to me.

I arrived at W&L in July of 1998 and helped induct my first hall of fame class that September.  The 2013 class will be the 16th that I will see inducted into the hall.  Not to trivialize those who were honored or the experiences we’ve all had at the dinners (not to mention all the alcoholic drinks consumed at the cocktail hour preceding the dinner), but the Hall of Fame weekend was always more about running a good event and checking it off the list at an always busy time of year.

This all sort of changed with the induction of the 2010 class.  There is a 10-year waiting period after receiving a degree until any athlete becomes eligible (five years after leaving their position for a coach or administrator) and 2009 was the first time that any athletes I witnessed would have been eligible.

Karin Treese Bauer ’99 was inducted as part of the 2010 class and was the first athlete from my time at W&L to be elected.  Nothing against the countless fine athletes, coaches and administrators that I had personally helped vote into the hall, but the 2010 inductions were special because I knew Karin.  I watched her play, kept her stats, and got to know her as a maturing young woman.  It was fun to see the woman she had become and meet the family she helped to create.  For me it was like coming full circle listening to Karin talk about her playing days and how they helped develop her into the amazing person she has become.

I always knew that I would be excited to see certain athletes make their way into the Hall of Fame many years later.  In truth, when I watched Karin play soccer and lacrosse during the 1998-99 school year, I had never imagined I would still be here to see what would happen more than a decade later.  But the fact that I am makes it all so much more meaningful.

Karin was joined in the Hall by Mikel Parker ’99 in 2011 and Lindsay Ruckert Mutimer ’02 in 2012.  I also saw Mikel play for one amazing season, while Lindsay was the first athlete inducted in which I witnessed her entire four-year career.  Few are more deserving than those two and I so enjoyed seeing the people they have become.

And so that brings me to the 2013 Washington and Lee Athletic Hall of Fame class.  A five-person group consisting of four athletes and one administrator, all of whom I witnessed making a tremendous impact on this University.

Christian Batcheller '00

Christian Batcheller ’00

Christian Batcheller ’00 was a terrific football and baseball player and went on to play both sports professionally.  His raw athletic ability and tremendous skills were undeniable and he was truly the first athlete I saw at W&L who I knew without a doubt should go into the Hall the first year he was eligible.  It took just a few more years than I thought, but only because waiting a little longer isn’t always a bad thing.  The truly remarkable thing about Christian?  Even after being drafted to play professional baseball and spending the summer of 1999 with the Williamsport Crosscutters (my hometown team BTW), Christian returned to W&L that fall to play quarterback for the Generals.  Russell Wilson aside, how often has that happened?

Matt Dugan ’01 is simply put the most amazing offensive lacrosse player that I have ever witnessed playing at the Division III level.  He was impossible to stop and I’ll never forget a goal he scored against Gettysburg in the quarterfinals of the 2000 NCAA Tournament in which he caught the ball by extending his stick in one hand and then proceeded to fire the ball on cage in one motion.  I only wish I had video.  The goal helped avenge the Generals’ only loss of the season to that point, before W&L fell in one of the all-time great games ever played to Salisbury the next week by a score of 10-9.  We all knew the next season would be even better, but in truth my heart still aches following a freakish loss to Hampden-Sydney during the one season that no at-large bids were available.  The Generals, led by Dugan and other greats who will surely be enshrined soon as well, were left at home for the NCAA tournament despite finishing 14-1 and spending a majority of the season as the No. 1 team in Division III.

Eloise Priest Southard '02

Eloise Priest Southard ’02

Eloise Priest Southard ’02 was an absolute beast.  The description hardly fits to look at her – she seems more likely to be competing in pageants than athletics.  Don’t let the looks fool you, however.  Priest Southard was simply bigger, stronger and more determined than her opponents.  When then Head Coach Jan Hathorn moved her from the midfield to defense following her rookie season, a star was born.  Few players ever scored on Priest Southard and I credit her as one of the players that helped deliver the women’s lacrosse program to a higher plateau than had once existed.  In 2001, she helped lead the Generals to their first conference title in three years and W&L went on to claim six titles over the next seven years.

Erika Proko Hamilton ’03 was a fine tennis player.  In fact, she was more than fine, she was a superstar.  However, when I think of Erika, I see the perfect student-athlete more than just the athlete.  Not only was she nearly unbeatable on the court (92-20 in singles and 104-27 in doubles), but she claimed a crazy good GPA as a neuroscience major.  She also served as the chair of the NCAA Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, received an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship and was a finalist for the NCAA Woman of the Year.  In one word, Erika was driven to succeed.  She strived to become a doctor in order to help others.  I had no doubt she would succeed even then.  Today, she is Dr. Erika Hamilton and works at the Duke University Medical Center.  Pretty darn impressive.

Mike Walsh served as athletic director from 1989-2006.  Mike’s impact on the athletic department is hard to measure.  Sure, you could point to the addition of sports and upgrading of facilities and introduction of new coaching positions just as I did in the official press release.  The thing is, I’m not sure that is an accurate measuring stick.  Mike’s election to the Hall is more personal to me even than the athletes I have described above.  He was more than a co-worker and friend – he was a mentor.  Don’t get me wrong, Mike and I had our disagreements and I’m sure there are many others that share a similar story.  Mike is a classic Northeasterner – blunt and opinionated and that can certainly rub people the wrong way.  But Mike also taught me more than I could ever express and I would dare say I’m far from the only one.  If not for Mike, I would have never known the four athletes I’ve described above.  He was one of the people who hired me.  There were others on the committee and I hope that they all liked me just the same, but without Mike I’m not sure I ever sit at this desk.  In truth, my hiring may have been as arbitrary as a former intern at James Madison who knew a sports media relations work study student there named Anne Walsh.  Mike once told me that his daughter’s recommendation could never help me, but it sure could have hurt me.  I’m glad she had good things to say about an ambitious and naïve 23-year old who wanted to be an SID if only someone would give him a chance.  For that chance and so many things he has taught me, I am very thankful.

So now you know why this year’s W&L Athletic Hall of Fame class is so special to me.  The memories of this group are so strong and I can’t wait to share the special weekend with them!

National Athletic Training Month

March 5, 2013 by

By: Alison Kapuska
Assistant Athletic Trainer

NATMWhen asked to write a blog back in August my first thought was “Sure I would have no problems coming up with topics to discuss”. I had great plans to open people’s eyes to Athletic Training issues that plague me daily. Like how heavy 10 gallons really is and what that blue tape actually does. But September happened and my mind was blank. Every month since I have spent countless hours debating on a topic. I would post for suggestions on Facebook – no help. I would hold brainstorming sessions with in the athletic training room with unwilling athletes hooked up to electrical stim – obviously no help. I had even pondered discussing the Snowpocalypse that’s threatening to unleash maybe 6 inches of snow upon us.  But at last Facebook came through for me..finally!

Happy National Athletic Training Month!

One month a year athletic trainers around the United States celebrate the profession. According to The National Athletic Trainers’ Association there are around 40,000 certified athletic trainers in the U.S. This is a time that we work to change the term “trainer” to “Athletic Trainer”. It is a time that we educate the pubic about our profession. Athletic trainers are not only for high schools and colleges. But can work in doctor’s offices, military, performing arts, hospitals, and professional sports.

In order to become a Certified Athletic Trainer you need to graduate from an accredited university with a degree in athletic training and pass the Board of Certification exam.  Upon doing so, depending on the state you choose to work in, you may need to further licensure. Here in Virginia there is a required state licensure. Mine is currently on my board behind my desk just in case some one wants to see it. Seems pretty easy doesn’t it? Not so much. But if you choose to celebrate please thank your current or past athletic trainer. I’m going to take this time to thank my co-workers Josh Williamson, Matt Phillips, and Rachel Wheeler for all you do for the profession and your athletes.  Lastly I would like to thank Kyra Dodson, our intern student athletic trainer from Western Carolina, for all the hard work she did during her time here at W&L and good luck returning to class.  Until next time!

Davidson Park Sports Report

February 27, 2013 by

By: Stuart Lotz ’15
Men’s Golf

Stu Lotz

Stu Lotz

This past summer my friend and classmate Will Bartlett and I decided we should host a sports talk show on the campus radio, 91.5 WLUR.  We’re both huge sports fans and avid tweeters/bloggers so we figured this would be a good way to convey our general sports knowledge.  Will, a mass communications major, is a Tennessee fan from New Jersey (insert joke here) but has a great knowledge of the NBA, NFL, and pretty much every sports league out there.  I’m from Pittsburgh and consider myself a diehard Steelers, Penguins, Pirates and Pitt Panthers fan, but also have a great interest in the NHL, NFL, and college sports.

This fall we had a half-hour time slot on Wednesday nights to start out.  We figured out pretty quickly that 30 minutes was not enough time for us to cover what we wanted to do.  As the semester progressed, we experimented with the show.  We tried different time slots, allowed call-ins, and talked various sports.  We tried to find our niche and what topics we’re best at discussing.

Hosting a sports talk show had been a great experience thus far.  I believe it has improved my communication skills and made me a more comfortable and confident public speaker.  It has also taught me a lot about the business of radio and journalism.  Preparing for the show is a crucial aspect that I did not think was necessary in the first few shows.  I have learned that preparation is everything and to never go into something completely unprepared.  I am glad that we decided to host a sports talk show and look forward to evolving our show as time progresses.

Tune in Monday nights at 8 pm to the Davidson Park Sports Report.  You can listen in online at the following link http://www.wlu.edu/x50441.xml.

So Long Football

February 25, 2013 by

By: Chip Whipple
Assistant Sports Information Director

ImageThe month of February brings to an end the professional football season. A lot of people (myself included) get invested during the NFL season with our favorite teams and fantasy teams. Side note – All of my teams did pretty poorly this season. The Browns did what they have done best the past 14 years and that was losing a lot of games. I was also in a few fantasy football leagues and failed to secure a single Top 3 finish. Sure, you can follow NFL through the combine, and free agency and the draft are quickly approaching, but there will be no more real, honest to goodness games until September.

The NFL season didn’t exactly end how I would have hoped. As a life-long Browns’ fan, seeing the Ravens win their second Super Bowl since leaving Cleveland was a bummer. But I wasn’t as upset as I was the first time they did it in 2000. I’d like to think part of it was how I’ve matured since I was a freshman in high school. Also, I have a lot of great things going on now, so the disappointment of seeing a rival team succeed wasn’t as much of a bother. And as they say in Cleveland, there is always next year.

Part of me is a little disappointed when football comes to an end, but on the other hand, it is kind of nice to have Sunday afternoons backs. I don’t feel that need to be in front of the television for the 1:00 pm games, or make sure my fantasy roster is completely set. My wife, Lydia, surely will enjoy that I won’t be yelling at the television or my computer (when I follow the Browns online) on why my team did or did not use a time out.

Plus, we are now past the All-Star break in the NBA, which means the playoffs are right around the corner. While I won’t have a dog in the race (my Cavaliers will be in the lottery again), watching the best basketball players in the world compete every night in the playoffs is one of my favorite things to experience every year.

Who knows what I’ll do with free Sunday afternoons now (as long as I’m not covering a W&L sport). Maybe I’ll go on long walks with our new dog Max, or maybe I’ll get to take out the golf clubs a little earlier than I was expecting.

One of the things I’m most looking forward to is spring in Lexington. With this being the first one since we’ve moved, I’m excited for the warming weather coming sooner (spring in New Hampshire, and Ohio before that, didn’t really begin until mid-May). The one thing I do know is that no matter what happens this spring and summer, the NFL will start back up in September. And I’ll be right there waiting for it.

Tourney Time

February 19, 2013 by

By: Christine Clancy
Head Women’s Basketball Coach

2013-02-02 17.23.01In my completely biased opinion, there is no event in sports that matches March Madness, except for, maybe, the Olympics! Post-season college basketball is a time when anything can happen and unlikely upsets become commonplace. Although it is not March yet, DIII post-season basketball is upon us!

Last night, we had the opportunity to host a first round ODAC tournament game against Emory & Henry. Going into the game, I was nervous, as I always am … What is the team going to look like tonight? How are we going to handle the pressure that comes with a win or go home tournament? How is E&H going to play? Are we going to hit shots?

Once our starting five stepped out onto the court, in front of the biggest and loudest home crowd that we have had all season, something special happened. The team was focused, determined, and my job was easy, just stay out of the way and let them play. As a coach it is so fun to see the moment when everything starts to click and in the first half last night, that’s exactly what happened. In those 20 minutes we went from five players on the floor to one team. We finished the game with a 21-point victory, shooting nearly 60% (75% in the first half) from the floor, four people scored in double figures, we had 21 assists on 25 buckets, and we held a team with very good offensive firepower to under 50 points. Did we make mistakes? Absolutely, but it didn’t matter, because we responded to those mistakes as a team, with a “next play” mentality. Sometimes post-season play brings a team to a higher level, and last night that happened for my team.

With the win, we have earned the right to play in the ODAC quarterfinals at the Salem Civic Center. We have a big challenge ahead of us with Eastern Mennonite the #1 seed in the tourney, but perhaps with a little more of that post-season magic we could pull off a big upset!

ODAC Championship

February 12, 2013 by

By: John Geissinger
Assistant Swimming Coach

The 2012-13 ODAC Champion Generals!

The 2013 ODAC Champion Generals!

We have just returned from the ODAC Championship, winning our sixth straight title and 23rd overall for the University. We end the year setting seven new school records and posting 40 All-Time Top 10 Performances in school history. Emma Swabb won Rookie of the Year, Caroline Hamp was ODAC Swimmer of the Year, and Delaney Rolfe was the Scholar-Athlete of the Year, the first three-time winner of that award for swimming in ODAC History.

The conference overall has seen a lot of recent growth and improvement in the last few seasons and all of the coaches should be commended for that. Guilford got a relay in the Top 8 of Finals, Bridgewater captured third-place, and Emory & Henry won three events. It certainly was a good sign for the ODAC as a whole. Moving forward, the women’s team continues to focus on the goal of qualifying for NCAAs. The future is bright as we return ¾ of the 200 Medley Relay that flirted with a provisional cut in that event.

A successful season does not come without struggle and I would like to thank the Senior Class for guiding our team through the trials and tribulations of the season. You are only as strong as your weakest link and everyone towed their weight. With an exciting incoming class joining our strong team next year I anticipate more fast swims to come, more records to fall.

Signing Day

February 8, 2013 by

By: Scott Abell
Head Football Coach

The first of February is an exciting time for college football fans everywhere.  February 6th is national signing day.  This is the day that Division I programs have their committed recruits sign their national letter of intent.

For us at Washington and Lee, this is also an exciting time.  Each year near the end of January we can really begin to see what our next year’s recruiting class will look like.  Early decisions have wrapped up and we typically will have two thirds of our incoming class looking forward to becoming a General.  I would like to take this opportunity to reach out and thank my staff.  Recruiting is a never-ending job and I could not ask for a better group of coaches to represent the university and the football program.

When we started this process last February for the 2013 recruiting class we began with roughly 800 names to investigate.  As we look at recruits we evaluate three areas, academics, character and football.   I am pleased to say that we feel like we have landed some great student athletes and we are excited to see this group come to campus.

For my family and I, this signing date was special as we watched our son Porter sign his national letter of intent to play football at the University of Richmond.  We are very blessed that he has this opportunity and so proud of how hard he has worked to make this day a possibility.

As it is said so often it is never too early to look ahead to next year.  Now that a good portion of our class has been admitted and decided to make Washington and Lee their home, we can look ahead with excitement and optimism.   To our 2013 class welcome, we look forward to you being a part of our family and to the staff thank you for all the hard work bringing them here.  Go Generals!