SUNDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
-Rucker will vye for USA A2 Team spot
-Belmont Stakes Day: a recap
Welcome to SUNDAY WITH SONJA!
Today we look at Gwen Rucker. She'll spend the end of June training and competing with 47 other volleyball players in Columbus, Ohio in the U.S. Women's Volleyball National A2 Team Program. The middle blocker from Lexington makes her second straight trip to compete with the elite.
These athletes were selected through the U.S. Women's National Team Open Tryouts held Feb. 10-12 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO. Players in college who had college eligibility remaining for the 2012 season that were not selected for the Women's National Team were eligible for the A2 program.
For Gwen, volleyball is one of two sports she has excelled at. Louisville women's basketball fans will remember the freshman who arrived on campus with Becky Burke and Monique Reid and eventually became the starting center for Jeff Walz's National Runner-Up squad during the 2008-09 season. She and Keisha Hines manned the middle during that magical run.
She was also playing volleyball for Louisville. She continued both her sophomore year, but to compete successfully in two major sports on the collegiate level is a tough task. Gwen decided to concentrate on just one...and Louisville Volleyball is a much richer and successful program because of it. An injury last year slowed the net-menace Rucker down but opponents from the BIG EAST and nationwide knew and respected the skills of the 6'2" spike-stopper.
How will I best remember Gwen? It was a crucial game for the Cards in the BIG EAST Conference Tournament. Against Rutgers...and Gwen was assigned the task of containing the powerful and domineering Kia Vaughn. The Cards were playing their hearts out and emotions were high. Then, the ESPN cameras focused on what we like to refer to as "The Staredown".
Gwen and Kia during a stoppage in play. The picture above says it all. No fear, no backing down and a senior and a freshman taking a moment to see who would blink.
The Cards went on to win that game in double overtime 87-82. I remember where we were watching it (because of the horrible appetizer I selected and eventually sent back to the kitchen for another choice) and I remember Paul standing up and yelling at the screen something to the effect of "Don't hit her Gwen, we need you out there!"
Louisville went on to the finals of the BIG EAST Tournament that year, losing to probably the best ever UConn squad Geno ever had. Almost a month later they faced that same UConn team again in the National Championship game.
Gwen Rucker has faced challenges throughout her 16 years of education. She has stared them all down and come out on top.
Cardinal Spirit. No one can beat it.
|Sonja by the lillies in front of the paddock.|
Even though he killed the show pool by not following Paulie's advice (use Brian Hernandez, Jr. on the turf. ALWAYS!) Arch was the congenial, affable and out-going host he is every year we're fortunate enough to spend Belmont with them.
The "boys" were having a rough 'go of it' early with their handicapping skills and the most common phrase at our table was "Why didn't we have that one?" I was biding my time. The hare may sprint out there, but the tortoise always wins.
I gave you the exacta and trifecta yesterday in the article for the Belmont. If you followed my (and not Paulie's) advice...you had a good day in the wagering department. As far as Dullahan goes, we hope that the NCIS team is investigating his disappearance.
|Paul always goes to talk to Louie at Churchill|
Our day was a fun one. We always walk a lot at the track and go around and visit our "friends in different places" when Paulie and I are out there.
And we saw plenty of them.
|Cletus finally got the party|
guests to leave by hurling
his shot put and discus at them.
A big "thank you !" to Chris and Linda for having us over and putting up with "the Big Guy" and his ramblings. How he got on the topic of wet hand towels next to bathroom sinks, I'll never know...
Some days are just good from start to finish and yesterday was one. I hope your Sunday is good from start to finish and I've enjoyed my Sunday with you!
See you next Sunday and thanks for reading CARDINAL COUPLE!