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Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2010

College Sports

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It’s been said that “athletics is America’s favorite exercise—to sit and watch.” That may be true for the armchair quarterbacks and point guards comatized by ESPN, but not so for the thousands of area college students who participate in sports, from intramural kickball to D-I hoops.

For some, athletic participation may lead to a career—if not on the field or court, then to allied professions like sports medicine, management and education. For others, sports are simply a way to leave the dorm room and do something, healthful. And about that, could anyone say it better than Joseph Addison did in The Spectator, 1711? (Chris Berman, eat your heart out):

“Exercise ferments the humors, casts them into their proper channels, throws off redundancies, and helps nature in those secret distributions, without which the body cannot subsist in its vigor, nor the soul act with cheerfulness.”

Yes sir, “ferments the humors” —Sis Boom Rah! (Art Kumbalek)

Intramurals: Playing Outside the Box

MSOE Dodgeball

A dreaded sport among the unpopular in grade school, dodgeball gave mean kids a license to bully. For adults, the revival of the sport gives those who were once weak a chance to redeem themselves. Typically played in gym class during grade school, dodgeball has once again found popularity at the state-of-the-art Kern Center at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). The goal is to eliminate—not annihilate—all members of the opposing team by hitting them with a thrown ball or forcing them to move outside the court boundaries when a ball is thrown at them. Players can also oust the opposition if they catch a ball thrown by a member of the opposing team.The match is over once every member of a team has been eliminated. (Annie Vihtelic)

UWM Floor Hockey

With all the different variations of hockey—including unicycle and underwater—it’s probably best that UW-Milwaukee stuck to a more basic form in intramurals. Floor hockey is a fast-moving coed sport played at the UWM Klotsche Center.Though the venue seats up to 5,000 people, it is unlikely the center will fill to capacity for a game, even if it is to catch a glimpse of The Silver Bullets, UWM’s 2010 spring floor hockey champs. The game is generally played with a ball rather than a standard puck, and plastic hockey sticks usually take the place of the traditional wooden version. But the same basic rules of hockey apply to this iceless version, with one major exception: Body checking is not allowed. (Annie Vihtelic)

Wisconsin Lutheran College Kickball

Some believe that kickball is a game for children that should be played by children. Some can’t shake the longing for their favorite childhood game and feel the need to play into adulthood. At Wisconsin Lutheran College, those latter types are not alone. Originally dubbed “kick baseball,” the sport was created in 1917 by Nicholas Seuss, supervisor for Cincinnati Park Playgrounds. It didn’t take long for the sport to become a hit on playgrounds all over the world. Kickball is similar in technique to baseball and is used to teach the same fundamental rules to youngsters. Equipment is minimal, and, aside from the type of ball, the only main difference between baseball and kickball is that the ball is kicked rather than struck with a bat.(Annie Vihtelic)

Marquette Ultimate Frisbee

If soccer and basketball got together and had a baby, and netball and football got together and had a baby, and then those two babies got together and had a baby, that baby would be Ultimate Frisbee, or, as it’s commonly called, Ultimate. Played in tournament format at Marquette, the sport, created in the late-’60s by a group of high-school buddies (one of which was Hollywood mogul Joel Silver), is played between two teams of seven players on a large rectangular field with an end zone on each end. A goal is scored when a team completes a pass of the disc to a player in the end zone. Players cannot run with the disc, and if the disc hits the ground or is intercepted, then the opposition takes possession. Ultimate is unique in that it is refereed by the players themselves according to a code of conduct known as the “Spirit of the Game.” (Sarah Biondich)

Cardinal Stritch University Inner Tube Water Polo

As fast and fun as water polo is, the tremendous amount of stamina required to continuously tread water throughout the game eliminates most of us from ever playing the competitive water sport. In 1969, the associate athletic director of intramural sports at the University of California-Davis thought of adding inner tubes to the mix so people with no experience, or endurance for that matter, could still enjoy the game. “Tube polo,” played either in an indoor or outdoor pool, requires players (with the exception of the goalies) to sit in floating inner tubes while attempting to score points by throwing a ball in a floating net. Because players are allowed to flip other players off their inner tubes, and because propelling in a sitting position can be tricky, a good game of inner tube water polo at Cardinal Stritch creates a maelstrom of splashing and laughter. (Sarah Biondich)

Superstars

By Annie Vihtelic

Alverno College: Stef Wilmore—Softball

Stef Wilmore received All-Freshman Team honors from the Northern Athletics Conference for her efforts in the 2010 softball season. In Wilmore’s triumphant first year behind the plate as a catcher, she led the conference in putouts and runners picked off. She committed just three errors while starting all 40 of Alverno’s games. Wilmore is also a threat when she’s up to bat—she tied for second in the league in doubles. Alverno’s talented catcher is from Elkhart, Ind., and studies elementary education.

Cardinal Stritch University: Dean Mlachnik—Baseball

2010 was a standout season for junior third baseman Dean Mlachnik, as he became the first Stritch baseball player to receive the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Year Award. He led Stritch in nearly every offensive category, including a team-best 55 RBIs, and was named to the all-conference team for third base. Wolves fans look forward to Mlachnik’s patience at the plate and continued success in the upcoming year.

Marquette University: Natalie Kulla—Soccer

Natalie Kulla’s gift for goalkeeping has taken her places. In July Kulla returned from England, where she took part in the Four Nations Tournament as a member of the U.S. U-23 Women’s National Team.In addition to the overseas excursion, Natalie has found much success on Marquette’s turf as well. She was in action for every minute of all 23 games she played during Marquette’s 2009 season, and is tied for third place on MU’s all-time shutouts list. Kulla, an engineering major, has worked hard to establish herself as one of the top young goalkeepers in the nation.

MATC: Coach Troy Schmidt—Golf

PGA Professional Troy Schmidt proves that “superstar” isn’t a term limited to players. The Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) coach is eager to work with returning players from last season as well as a group of talented first-year players. He says the combination of first- and second-year talent should mesh well together on the course. Schmidt notes that the biggest challenge the team will face is tournament experience, but believes his players will take their lessons from practice rounds and apply them to the competitive events.

MSOE: Michael Soik—Hockey

At MSOE, Michael Soik has learned a lesson that extends well beyond sports and academics: He’s learned to manage his time. Doing so is very important when it comes to maintaining honorable marks in the classroom as well as on the ice. In the 2009-10 season, Soik was named to the All-Academic Team by the Midwest Collegiate Hockey Association alongside four other Raider teammates. Soik achieved another milestone last season by scoring the most goals (14) on MSOE’s team. The senior from Stevens Point, who majors in mechanical engineering, hopes to play pro hockey in the United States or Europe.

UWM: Danielle Jorgenson—Basketball

The 2010 basketball season might have been over, but Danielle Jorgenson continued to rack up accolades—the 6-foot-3 center from La Crosse earned the title of the team’s Most Improved Player. As a sophomore, Jorgenson played in 29 games and started the final 16. As a starter, she averaged 8.4 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Given Jorgenson’s rapidly improving game, Panther fans are excited to see what she can accomplish over the next two years.

Wisconsin Lutheran College: Bri Stein—Cross-Country

Though Bri Stein was initially hesitant to join the cross-country team for her first year at Wisconsin Lutheran, it became one of her core college experiences.Stein has persevered through lengthy injuries to emerge as an accomplished distance runner—she has shaved more than two minutes off of her race times from her sophomore year. The Poynette native is majoring in sports and exercise science, and might pursue a minor in coaching. Stein says that her experience as part of Wisconsin Lutheran’s cross-country team has been memorable. If she decides to coach in the future, there’s little doubt she’ll pass on valuable lessons to a new batch of runners as well.

Old-School Rivals

By Frank Clines

The most prominent version of the Marquette-UWM athletic rivalry is the most one-sided. The schools clashed in men's basketball for the first time on Jan. 20, 1917, when MU defeated what was then called Milwaukee State Normal School 24-16. Since then Marquette has run its dominance in the series to 37-0. The last three games came after an eight-season lapse in the rivalry. The Golden Eagles scored 100 points in both 2007 and ’08, and won last year 71-51. Those games were all on Marquette's home court at the Bradley Center, but on Nov. 27 the Panthers will be the host at the U.S. Cellular Arena.

In women's basketball the Marquette-UWM rivalry began in 1976, and MU leads the series 24-19. The Golden Eagles have won 12 of the last 13 games—UWM won by a point two years ago at the Al McGuire Center.

UWM leads the series in men's soccer 25-9-3, but Marquette has won the last two contests for the Milwaukee Cup, the prize in the rivalry. The battle resumes Sept. 1 at UWM. In women's soccer UWM leads 7-6-5, but MU won last year at UWM. The teams play Sept. 8 at Marquette.

In women's volleyball Marquette beat UWM last year in the Panther Invitational. This year the battleground is the MU Invitational on Sept. 11.

For the area's smaller schools, many of the athletic rivalries are for status in a conference, too. The Division III Northern Athletics Conference includes Wisconsin Lutheran College (Warriors), Milwaukee School of Engineering (Raiders) and Concordia University Wisconsin (Falcons), and the women's sports also include Alverno College (Inferno). The schools face each other in baseball, basketball, soccer, tennis, golf, softball, volleyball, cross-country and track and field. Concordia and Wisconsin Lutheran also have football teams, and they battle on the ice through the Midwest Collegiate Hockey Association. Carroll University in Waukesha plays in the D-III Midwest Conference, and the Pioneers sometimes play the NAC schools in basketball, soccer, baseball, softball or volleyball. The same goes for the Cardinal Stritch Wolves, who are in the NAIA's Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference. Last season Stritch also took on UWM, the state's only Division I baseball team, losing 7-6. Mount Mary College plays several women's sports as part of the Association of Division III Independents, and the Blue Angels often meet NAC schools. The Stormers of Milwaukee Area Technical College are in the North Central Community College Conference but don't usually play the local D-III schools.

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