Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Soccer's Senior Sarah Neatherton Reflects on her Final Games

By Sarah Neatherton

The games this weekend were both a great team effort and nothing short of amazing. Two must win games ignited an extra spark within all of us and everyone played with great intensity. There is something exciting about playing with our backs against the wall. Sure, it may have produced additional anxiety in our coaches, but as a team, we relish opportunities to succeed…and succeeding was our only option.

Our first success came Friday afternoon, a nail-biting game against Montana, one of our most despised rivals in the Big Sky conference. As forwards, it’s our job to score goals. We needed them quick and we needed two. Our coach wouldn’t accept anything less. Jenna Samora, with great intensity as always, put one away to tie up the match. With three minutes remaining in the first overtime, I saw an opening in the top right corner and fired a shot. Prayers raced through my mind faster than the ball was moving and in the back of the net it went. Sure, Andre would probably prefer our goals to be scored earlier, but hey, added angst and excitement is fun for everyone. It was a relentless performance by our defense, executed brilliantly by our midfields, and our offense was lethal when it counted.

Sunday’s game was Senior Day. Five of us, my self included, were recognized before the game for our contributions during the four years of playing soccer at NAU. It was a bittersweet afternoon to say the least. We started out with a class of eight and stood on the field with five. There is a special bond between the five of us, an understanding of dedication and mutual support, even when at times we didn’t think we could make it. But we did, and we all made it through the years together. The underclassman knew the importance of the game, a must win for our season and a must win for the seniors. This was evident in the performance of every single player who stepped on the field that day to give us a 4-2 win over Eastern Washington. Each person on the field that day played fearless soccer and did so with their hearts on their sleeve. And in case I didn’t mention it, I speak on behalf of all the seniors. Thank you- to the juniors, sophomores and freshman for playing with and for your seniors, and for never letting us forget that we can, in fact, win the Big Sky…again.

Even if we aren’t yet, our championship mentality will be carried over to the Northern Colorado game on Friday. Our team has worked too hard, for too long to let something so close slip out of our grasp. Our team was given a second chance, and we’re holding onto it tight. We’re a group of fighters, and the fights far from over. Go Jacks!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Maria Hechanova: Rising Star Begins Career in Yuma

YUMA, Ariz. -- My name is Maria Hechanova and was a member of the NAU Swimming and Diving team from 2005-2009. I spent 10 weeks this summer in New York interning with NBC Universal's "Today" Show and was immediately hired in September as a producer/reporter for KYMA-TV NBC News 11 in Yuma, AZ. I've had a crazy couple of months, but I credit the skills I learned as Division I student-athlete to help me achieve in the real world. Here is my story.
KPHO-TV CBS 5 News - Phoenix
After making some contacts at my internship at KPHO-TV CBS 5 News in Phoenix, I scheduled a meeting with the KYMA-TV News 11 news director in Yuma and said, "Here's my resume and my demo reel. I graduate in a year and want to work for you. What do I need to do to prepare?" He gave me advice, two books to read, and said stay in touch.
The "Today" Show - New York
I was one of 500 students selected to intern at NBC Universal in New York. They receive about 7,000 applications a semester. Within the internship program, I was one out of six students selected to be a fellow (paid intern). I lived right in the middle of Manhattan and was only a 15 minute walk from 30 Rockefeller. I had the opportunity to help with breaking news coverage of Michael Jackson's death and observe what goes on in the control room. You can read more about my experiences here.
Asian American Journalists Association - Boston
From New York, I flew straight to Boston for the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) Convention. This is the organization that helped me get the internship with NBC Universal's "Today" Show. At the convention, I was one out of 12 students selected to report for AAJA Voices, the convention newsletter. You can read my column about swimming an open water race in the Hudson River and making the transition from student-athlete to journalist here.
KYMA-TV NBC News 11-Yuma
Three days after my plane landed in Phoenix from Boston, I received a call from the KYMA-TV NBC News 11 News director offering me a position. It proves the power of staying in touch! I had two weeks to buy a car, re-pack all my things, find a place to live, move to Yuma, and start work. It was an exciting adventure! Right now I produce the 6:00 pm and 10:00 pm newscasts during the week and report on the weekends. I have a lot of responsibilities from stacking the show (putting stories in order) to tweeting teases (yes, we use social media) to shooting, editing, reporting, and being on air. My primary responsibilities are producing which means I'm behind the scenes selecting stories to air. I got the chance to fill-in anchor one morning and interviewed Nick Lachey live via satellite. It was very exciting! I absolutely love my job! It's fun, challenging, and I'm learning a lot. So far I've done stories on the U.S. Border Patrol, the winter produce season, and more. It's tough at times, but I always think back to those really hard swim practices and say to myself, "If I can survive four years as a Division I athlete, I can survive anything!" During my time on the NAU swimming and diving team, Andy brought in our team psychologist Bert Gershater. He reminded us to breathe, practice gratitude, and think positive - all the skills that have helped me in the real world. Yuma is such a unique market. We cover news from Southern California to Mexico to Arizona. I'm so lucky to have a job and I count my blessings every day. I know there are plenty of college graduates struggling to start their careers in this tough economy. To read my bio and see my stories, visit my station's website at http://www.kyma.com and click on my bio under the "News Team" tab. Outside of work, I have a blog documenting my experiences in Yuma. Click here
I'm a Lumberjack for life! If you have any story ideas, shoot me an email at mhechanova@kyma.com, be my facebook friend or follow me on twitter, username MariaHechanova.
Photo Credit: www.kyma.com
Maria Hechanova Reporting: My first breaking news live shot. A man wanted for questioning suspected to be armed barricaded himself inside a Yuma motel room. Police close streets and ask people to stay inside.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Volleyball's Lexi Sullivan: What Happened to the Injured?

Every sport always has an injury, and once they are done for the season, many wonder what happened and how long their recovery is. Where did the athlete go? My injury happened in our first conference game of the season against Idaho State. We had lost the first game and were doing well in the second until the worst injury I could ever think of getting happened. I went up for an approach and landed funny. My ankle twisted causing my knee to give out. Pop! Instant pain and I knew I was in a load of trouble. It was dead silent and I just wanted to get out of the eyes of every person looking at me in wonder. I crutched out in throbbing pain to Dr. Hersey (our team doctor). He knew with just on shift of my knee that it was my ACL and that there was probably more. I never thought this injury would ever happen to me. No way could this be happening. Went to the doctor the next day to hear I had completely torn my ACL and partially torn my MCL, meniscus and patellar femoral ligament. I am getting the hamstring graft, which has been proven to be the most effective. The only downside is that means double trouble for recovery. I was not allowed to get surgery until I had full range of motion back and my MCL had to be healed.

Crutches became my best friend for about a week and a half before I could start walking on it again. I did rehab everyday and sometimes twice a day too. Getting my knee to try to bend again was the hardest and most painful part of the process. After about two and a half weeks the swelling had finally gone down and my MCL healed quickly. The only thing left was to get that 120-degree angle in my knee again and I would be cleared for surgery. I usually do my exercises at practice and watch the team play, which got harder and harder as the weeks went on. The worst part of being injured is seeing your team leave for an away game and not be there with them. I watch their games on the Internet, but it is just not the same when I know they can’t hear me cheering them on. Turning this sadness into motivation has been one of my biggest goals for this injury. The sooner I can get surgery done, the sooner I can start recovery and making myself better for next year.

My goal came into effect in that third week because I did not care how bad it hurt; my knee was going to bend at a 120-degree angle at the end of the week. Guess who got their full range of motion back? Dr. Lewicky checked my knee the following Monday and finally gave me the thumbs up for surgery. I am scheduled to go in Wednesday, October 21 and I am more ready than I will ever be. It was nice having a friend go in before me though. Lauren Zallis on the soccer team also tore her ACL and got the same hamstring graft that I am getting. Seeing her get it done makes me feel even more ready because she is back on her crutches and moving around after half a week. I know it will be painful, but it is going to make me so much tougher and stronger once I am back on the court and ready to take conference next season like it is nobody’s business.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

My First Trip with Lumberjack Football

Well let’s see, where do I start. My name is Sam Diaz and I am from a very small town called Clifton, Ariz., located in the Southeastern part of the state. The weather there is usually around 110-113 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer with winters being mildly cold. Prior to our departure early Friday morning to play at Montana State, I was advised to bring warm clothes for the trip. I didn’t think places could get much colder than Flagstaff so I just laughed it off. Little did I know I was in for a huge surprise?

As it got closer to the end of the week, my stomach began to get queasier and I started to get really nervous because I have never flown on a plane. Friday morning came and I found myself in the Athletic Training Room at 5:45 a.m. asking another athletic training student a million questions about flying; I felt like a little kid asking so many questions. Once I got onto the plane, everything hit me and my world began to spin. I felt the breakfast burro from Los Altos turning inside my stomach rapidly. My co-pilot Sam Gordon was doing a great job keeping me informed of what was going on, but she, “somehow,” forgot the most important part. Once we got into the air, the plane turned because it had to change directions instantly so not knowing why it felt like the plane was on its side or upside down got me really scared. All I remember was Head Athletic Trainer Ryan Pinson telling me to breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth as he had a big smile on his face.

Every little bump we experienced he would turn around and look at me like something was going wrong, until about the third time when I realized he was just trying to freak me out even more. Once we got to cruise in altitude everything was all good and had no problems thank goodness.

Once we arrived in Montana and I set foot off the plane, I felt the coldest air my skin has ever felt. The snow was falling, the wind was blowing and I was wishing I hadn’t laughed at them when they said to bundle up because it was going to be cold. We did the coldest walk thru imaginable and then headed to the motel for dinner and treatments. We treated our athletes with various treatments and got them ready for the big game. Saturday morning came and before we knew it and we found ourselves taping ankles in the motel lobby and then in the Montana State visitors showers because the locker room was extremely small, which made for a challenging task. Having to tape and spat (taping over cleats) a whole team in a small shower area in a short period of time was tough but was accomplished nonetheless.

As we arrived to the stadium, their diehard fans were out tailgating in 20 degree weather; barbequing, drinking cold liquids from cans, and my favorite, booing us and flashing us hand signs at 11 o’clock a.m. made me realize that it was going to be an exciting game. Throughout the whole game their fans were constantly riding us since their benches were practically on our sideline, so when our guys sealed the deal at the end of the game, there was complete silence in the thousands of fans present who were going nuts the whole time. That was the most exciting part of the whole trip - making the crowd quiet and flying back home on the charter with a win; beating a ranked team makes everything that much more sweet.

Being in the Northern Arizona University Athletic Training Education Program is a great program to be in; but what makes everything even better is the privilege to travel with a team out of town. We all work together on and off the field in keeping our guys healthy so when they get a win, we get a win too. It’s a great feeling and the program allows me to experience this. Having to be certain places on time or taping someone in one minute in front of big crowds so they can get back out there on the next play can be nerve wrecking, but gives off an adrenal rush which is why I do what I do.

However, if it weren’t for the invention of hand and boot warmers which were in each shoe and each glove of mine in Montana, I don’t know what I would have done. The tape would have probably stuck to my hands like the lids stuck on our water coolers.

Hopefully Portland will be warmer than Montana, even though we will be putting up with rain rather than snow. And if its not, it’s still all worth it. That’s why I come here everyday because I love working with these guys and the feeling of success at this level is priceless. The only thing I’m doing different this game is taking Nyquil before the flight so Ryan doesn’t intimidate me again with facial expressions!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Earthquake World Series Remembered by Golf Coach Brad Bedortha

The 1989 World Series was played between the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants. The Series ran from October 14 through October 28, with the A's sweeping the Giants in four games. It was the first World Series sweep since 1976, but it is best remembered for the Loma Prieta earthquake, which occurred on October 17 at the beginning of Game 3 and caused a ten-day disruption in play. This Series is also known as the "Earthquake Series," "Bay Bridge Series," and "The Battle of the Bay." NAU Women’s Golf Coach Brad Bedortha was in the stands at Candlestick Park that day and recounts his experience.

I drove down from Oregon to see my brother in San Francisco and spend a few days with him. I remember it was really warm which is obviously unseasonal for that time of the year. It is 90-95 degrees and it is hot.

The day of the game we went into the city because my brother worked half a day. We had lunch and went back to place. We got the game at 2:30 p.m. and played a little catch in the parking lot with a football. I remember someone saying, ‘It is really hot. It is like earthquake weather.’ Supposedly when it is really hot they have earthquakes. We joked about it.

We then went in the stadium and took some pictures of the scoreboards and around the stadium. We went back in the parking lot to put the camera away and came back in about an hour before the game.

We are sitting in the upper deck and close to center field. We are out in the bleachers. My brother had some friends he went to see before the game so I am sitting by myself. There are people around getting ready for the game. I was just sitting there and it sounded like a plane was flying over the stadium. I did not know what was going on.

Candlestick was near the airport. It sounded like a rumble. I am looking around for planes and I don’t see any thing. I am thinking “What is going on?” All of a sudden my seat started moving. This is not normal. I look and see the light poles just shaking. This is an earthquake. I had never been in one so I did not know what to do.

It is going on and on and on. You can just feel like a wave going through the stadium. Everything is moving. It went on for like 30 seconds. It was loud. I do not know where my brother was at and he came back in like three minutes. He was up with his friends under the awning at the top of the stadium. He said particles were falling down.

The power was gone. The scoreboard was flashing on and off. They had no PA system. No one knew what was going on. But there were people around us who had little stereos with earplugs. The guy next to me was saying the Bay Bridge was in the water. Then you could see smoke coming from the downtown area. I don’t remember which neighborhood got hit really hard but it was on fire. So you could see the smoke billowing up.

All the people on the field were milling around with the players. We sat there for 10 or 15 minutes. We did not know what to do. All of a sudden another aftershock came, a pretty good sized aftershock. We decided to get the hell out of there. We decided we will get to the car and turn the radio and see what is going on.

We walked out and people were holding chunks of concrete and doing stuff like that. I saw the next day in the newspaper a photo of where someone was sitting you could see a hole and look straight down.

We turned the radio on and it was immediately, BEEP, BEEP. It was the emergency broadcast system. It is not like this is a test. The Bay Bridge is closed. Don’t go here. It is basically telling people where to go. At that point, I was like this is very serious. You hear the emergency broadcast system all the time and you think it is kind of a joke. It is truly in play and they are telling people where to go, what to do and directing people everywhere.

We started driving out of there and it took us an hour to an hour and half to get out of the stadium. We just took a bunch of back roads back to my brother’s house. It took us quite a while. Where he lived his half of the street had power so we could watch all the tv coverage. We watched it all evening. I made an effort to buy all the newspapers the next morning before I drove to Phoenix.

I have vivid memories of being there. It was a surreal experience. You don’t expect to be sitting at a baseball game and have an earthquake, especially in game three of the World Series.

Thrower Nicole Elliott Represents NAU at Big Sky Meetings

My name is Nicole Elliott. I am a thrower on the track and field team here at NAU. I am also the co-chair of SAAC. On the weekend of October 4th I was lucky enough to attend the Big Sky Leadership Conference. While I was there I had a wonderful experience. I attended a meeting with other SAAC representatives from our competing schools. We talked about issues among our teams and how well our SAAC groups are getting involved. We shared the plans that ours schools have for community service projects and got many great ideas of things that we do not already do and can bring back to our schools. I am proud to announce that it seems that NAU is definitely ahead of the game in this. Some of the schools have not had their first meetings yet, whereas we have had 2 full group meetings. We also went over around thirty of the new NCAA proposed legislation. Some of this will have an effect on NAU, but some of it will not because it involves sports like baseball which we do not have.

Another meeting I was able to sit in on was of the Joint Athletic Council. In this meeting I got to see all the athletic directors of all of the Big Sky Schools try to work together and figure out some new legislation. There were two big pieces of legislation discussed in this meeting. One was over the indoor track and field championship site rotation. The main thing is that they want to cut NAU completely out of this rotation, meaning NAU will not host any more indoor track and field championships. The other piece of legislation discussed was over men’s and women’s basketball, the issue being travel squads. They want to be able to take as many athletes as they want as long as there is not air travel. There were schools on both sides of these issues and it was interesting to see how the things were dealt with and to get both sides of each story.

It was a great experience. I got to see how the other Big Sky schools handled situations and I also got their point of view on different subjects. It was also really nice to get together with a group of individuals that I have never met before and talk about issues present on our campuses and what could be done about them.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Concussion Debate: Is it Really Worth it?

Why is a concussion called a concussion? Why isn’t it called what it really is: a bruised brain. Wouldn’t that be a wake up call for athletes who attempt to rush back to competition despite the very serious risks? The concussion issue has become a contentious topic in recent years with many athletes possibly returning to action prematurely. Florida quarterback Tim Tebow suffered a severe concussion against Kentucky and his desire to return only two weeks after the incident have raised questions about the injury and when an athlete can or should be expected back on the field.

Perhaps the most difficult part for researchers, doctors, and athletic trainers dealing with concussions is the idiosyncrasy of a very perplexing injury. Concussions are judged on a case-by-case basis. They are different for every person and the lasting effects are determined by many factors including the sport in question, severity of the injury, and the athlete’s past history. If players such as Tebow return to the field of play prior to fully recovering from a concussion, they risk irreparable harm to themselves and athletic programs around the country. An athlete who plays while still recovering from a concussion may have to deal with second impact syndrome, a condition in which an athlete is hit again in the head causing the brain to swell rapidly and can result in death. The scariest part of second impact syndrome is the second hit may only be a graze of the head or maybe not a hit to the head at all but a whiplash effect if an athlete is struck with enough force. Second impact syndrome is only one of a number of disastrous outcomes facing an athlete after a concussion.

At Northern Arizona all athletes undergo baseline tests which show an individual’s normal brain activity. When an athlete suffers a possible head injury, concussion tests are administered then compared and contrasted to the baseline test. Athletes are only cleared when they are symptom free and after their test scores return to the baseline numbers.

Tebow’s situation is an appropriate example when discussing concussions because of his stature in collegiate sports. He is the face of college football and maybe the most recognizable student-athlete over the last several years. If he chooses to remain on the sidelines on Saturday against No. 4 LSU it would cause many to take notice and go a long way in educating other college athletes or really athletes in any sport at any level of the seriousness of this type of injury.
Athletes need to be aware of the severity of head injuries and should take the time to learn about concussions and what they do to people in the short term and long term. After talking with the athletic training staff at NAU, it seems clear if a situation like Tebow's happened here many precautionary steps would be taken before a student-athlete could return to competition. But ultimately, it is up to the student-athlete to decide what is more important: a game or their quality of life long after athletic participation has passed one by.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Flagstaff High School Swimming

Getting away from NAU swimming for a second, the only high school in Flagstaff with a swimming team is in trouble. Flagstaff High School has produced numerous individual state champions and even taken the 4A-II Men’s team title! This is a program that is rich with tradition.

Today I am sitting here writing this blog with the knowledge that their pool facility is once again having problems. This is an older facility; it is 25 yards long with 6 lanes. The ventilation system is shaky at best. The deck is cracked, the pool walls are cracked and the blocks look like they were built with tinker toys. When you walk into the building you just smell old pool.

Over the years the team has survived by the city and the school district taking care of the pool. Well the city has pulled out and the school district was faced with a decision to make. Do they keep their winning program, or cut it to save money. Well, they made the right choice this year. They have kept the program, but the pool has continued to see problems.

Today is their last home meet of the season. At 3pm the Eagles will be swimming and diving their way into the regional and state meets, unsure of where the meet will be held. That’s right; their last home meet might not even be in their own pool. At this time (12:45pm) NAU has been contacted to take over and host the final “home meet” for the Flag High Eagles. We are waiting to see if their pool will be fixed or if we will be hosting the meet.

NAU is more then equipped to handle the teams and run the meet, but what does it say about the City of Flagstaff that they cannot keep their only High School Swimming team’s pool working? I know that they pulled out, and I am sure they have their reasons, but swimming is an important part of this community. The high school not only plays host to the Eagles team, but also the local swimming program, Flagstaff Snow Sharks. This team has been around for over 30 years, their home has been the high school pool. It is hard for me to write about this, because I am the head coach for the other team in town, Flagstaff Peaks Aquatic Club, and we train out of NAU.

The Snow Sharks are hurting. Their pool is a mess, and we (Flagstaff Peaks) have absorbed a lot of their unhappy swimmers. This is great for us, but not great for the city and swimming.

I am just a messenger that loves the sport. I have been around swimming since the day I was born. And for the past 25 years it has only given me joy and happiness, plus a few records and championships along the way as well. Please help ensure that another generation can have the same joy that we have.

Thank you,

Dave Rollins

Assistant Swimming Coach Northern Arizona University

Head Coach Flagstaff Peaks Aquatic Club

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

NAU Swimming and Diving Junior Class

I feel like a part of this class. Entering my third year as Assistant Coach, it is only natural that the junior class and I have shared some of the same experiences. Missing practice cause an alarm did not go off, getting lost on campus and of course who could forget rooming with Andy at my first away trip and not setting the alarm so we BOTH get up late. Not the best first impression I’d say.

We have come a long way since those days, and now without further ado here are your 2009-2010 NAU Swimming and Diving juniors.

Lana Christensen aka Analytical – This girl come from a sleepy cow town known as Casper, Wyoming. A place where her mom made (and still does make) her swim suits. A place where being cool means you own a horse. Lana came in literally fresh off the farm. With the growth she has experienced over the past two years from non-scorer to an All-WAC finisher. This year poses to be the best yet for Lana on all three boards.

Megan Collier aka Little Mc – Another one of our far travelers from down in the valley, Megan came to NAU with one thing on her mind…no not boys, ok well maybe two things on her mind then, the other being winning. With the height that would scare the most elite divers (a massive 5’1”) she can tuck into such a small ball that when she spins you can barely see her. Add to that her ability to jump through the roof; this girl is going to dominate the boards this year.

Meredith Egloria aka Aloha – Mer is one half of our Jun-more class. She is more then a junior but not quite a senior. Coming to the mountains from the island of Hawaii, Mer is a backstroke and sprint free specialist. Her kick and underwater work can challenge the best in the country and her ability to come back from asthma attack after asthma attack only proves her willingness to improve. A school record holder in the 200 Free Relay and a top 8 finisher at the WAC Championships, Mer is looking to make her mark individually as well as help the relays.

Claire Ferro aka Claire Ferro – The other half of our Jun-more class, Claire came to NAU from Goodyear, Ariz. If you do not know where Goodyear is, it is a fancy term for west Phoenix. Claire is one of the most versatile freestyle swimmers on the team. Placing 9th in both the 50 free as well as the 500 free last year. Claire was also a member of our school record setting 400 Free Relay and 800 Free Relay. Not to be outdone with her ability to succeed on her stomach, she can turn it over and swim a stellar 200 backstroke when called upon as well, placing in the top 8 at the 2008 WAC Championships in the 200 back. Claire comes into this third year with a passion to beat anyone who stands up next to her, do not let her bubbly attitude and smile fool you. This is a cold hearted racer that refuses to lose.

Taryn Harris aka Bubble Wrap – A special nickname for a special girl. Taryn sometimes gets hurt. Ok, sometimes is a nice way of saying it. If we could get her to live in a bubble and only come out to dive we could. However, her ability to compete when not at 100% and her results only show that when she is healthy this girl is going to rip. Taryn almost qualified for the NCAA Championships last year with 1 foot. That’s right, her other foot required surgery, but Taryn put it off until after the Zone meet. She was jumping as high as anyone else with half the tools. This year promises to be a great year for her as she is getting back into the water at full strength. Also, I am building that bubble.

Ashley Kurtz aka Kurtz – Ashley is a sprint free and backstroke specialist out of Phoenix, Ariz. Kurtz can usually be found talking during sets and before as well as after practice. To put it simply, she likes to talk. However, even though she is a talker, this girl’s work ethic is not equaled by many. She keeps a positive attitude while working hard and improving every year. That is the kind of person that makes others around them better. This year she is on the same path. I would only expect best times for Kurtz at the end of the season.

Vivian Landeck aka Lil’ Viv – The soft-spoken debutant from Sugarland, Texas. Vivian is a distance machine. Even though coming into her freshman year I do not think she ever swam a mile in her life, she embraced it and not only dramatically improved, but it helped her 200 free come within a few hundredths of a second of a school record. Not too shabby if you ask me. A member of the schools 800 Free Relay school record team she had the teams fastest split at a 1:49.8. This year she is looking to translate that relay swim into an individual school record and maybe even a WAC Championship.

Kate Schafer aka Kate – Not knowing a nickname is not the end of the world. This girl came into her second year with a chip on her shoulder. Having been a non-scorer her freshman year, she was on a mission from day one. And that mission paid off and then some. Swimming as a member of the school record 800 Free Relay, then placing in the top 8 of the 500 Free it was only a matter of time before she had that massive break through swim. On the last night of finals, she did. In the mile Kate took it out fast and refused to back down. Finishing with a 3rd place and one of the top times in NAU School history, Kate had had her breakthrough. This year will be no different. In fact, it will be better.

Monica Veit aka Veet – Monica and I got off to a rough start. She hated swimming 200 breaststrokes in practice (in fact she had never swam one in her life!) and I made her do them anyway. Needless to say, she kind of hated me. At the end of her freshman year it paid off with massive time drops in her 100 and 200 breaststrokes. Last year was a little easier for her. She knew what was coming and knew that it worked. Along came the same result; more fast swims. It is a system that works. Once again this season she will be more accepting of her inevitable fate, and once again we will see some great swims from this lady.

Dave Rollins, Assistant Swimming Coach Northern Arizona University

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My Big Greek Trip By Mike Adras

Northern Arizona men’s basketball coach Mike Adras participated in the first International Basketball Coaches Clinic hosted by ACS (American Community Schools) Athens in Halandri Athens, Greece Oct. 2-3. Adras joined former NAU women’s assistant and current UC-Riverside Head Coach John Margaritis and Cheryl Burnett (former Head coach of Southwest Missouri State and Michigan) as the guest speakers at the International Basketball Coaches Clinic at ACS Athens. Guest speakers representing Greece, included Kostas Missas, the head coach of the Greek National Women’s team and the National Junior Men’s team.

We arrived Wednesday morning after leaving Phoenix at 7 a.m. Tuesday. It took us over a day to get there. We decided that we were going to try to stay with the time zone we were in. We went at it the first day even though we were exhausted.

We immediately went to the Olympic Stadium from the first modern Olympic Games. Then we went over to Parliament. They have similar to in London the changing of the guard where they stay motionless. It was cool. From there, we went to the old downtown area called the Plaka. We had our first Greek meal and sat at an outdoor cafĂ© and watched the people go by. People were trying to sell us stuff and I almost bought a copy of the movie “The Hangover”. It was huge plaza of fun and people.

From there we walked from the Acropolis to the Parthenon. There is a hill right outside there where St. Paul converted the Greeks. It helped having Coach John Margaritis there. He was born there and was the one explaining everything. He was very good on the Greek history.

We spent an hour walking around the Parthenon and the museum built right next to it. As soon as we sat down at the video, the time change caught up to me and I dozed off and missed most of the video. I just wanted to go back to the hotel but we went to this fabulous outdoor restaurant. We did more that first day than I ever would have imagined.

The next day John decided we needed to swim in the Mediterranean. We took a cab ride 45 minutes away and there I am swimming in the Mediterranean. My assistants arranged to meet some basketball people as contacts for future recruits. I spent the afternoon with them. We then went to dinner at a neighborhood restaurant. A tourist would never find his way to this restaurant. I ate things I never even knew what I was eating half the time. There were a lot of olives, a lot of feta cheese and tomatoes. The cuisine was amazing.

Friday was the first day of the clinic. I did my first clinic at 2 p.m. and second at 6 p.m. John did his clinic in Greek so I was not going to understand his clinic so I went with a couple of people and saw a professional basketball game in the Olympic Arena with two teams playing for the right to go to the Euro Championship. I saw one of Jamie Dixon’s players Lavon Kendall was playing that night. His team won. It was very encouraging for me regarding our guys to look at potential opportunities to play over there. We ended the night at women’s professional basketball game.

Saturday was another clinic day. I went out with one of the coaches to dinner. When I came back to the hotel, I was headed to my room when I heard a lot of music coming from behind the elevator. I found two Greek wedding receptions going on. I went into both and took photos of them doing that Greek circle dance. It was fun to watch. I think it was indicative of the culture. I felt so welcome. They were so willing to share their culture.

The only thing I had a hard time with was the cabs and the cab drivers. They seemed to have the right of way. Pedestrians have no right of way in Greece. You better get out of the way. The roads are narrow and it just seems to be a go-cart race on every street. I only saw one accident the entire time I was there. But I felt like we were going to get into an accident every time. My back needs some physical therapy from the start-stop jolt of the various taxi cab drivers.

After that I tried to gather myself for the journey home. It took me about 27 hours to get back. I left at 8 p.m. Flagstaff time Sunday night which was 6 a.m. Athens time the next morning. We went to Paris and then took a 12-hour flight to Salt Lake City. I highly recommend business or first class. I was sitting with my knees in my throat.

The trip was well worth the experience. The clinics were fabulous. They put a lot of thought into the clinic. I think they were very happy with the turnout with coaches from all over Greece. Watching the Greek coaches putting on the clinics it helped me understand the European game more. It was good to hear different ways of doing things. It was a great way to exchange ideas, concepts and philosophies.

It was a little over a 100 years since my grandfather immigrated to the United States. It meant a lot to me that I was able to bring the “family” back to Greece. It was a fabulous experience.