Paulie and I have just finished up approximately an hour and a half of interviews and remarks from various members of UofL fall sports programs. An event now three years strong that always makes for a pleasant day and a chance to catch up with Volleyball, Field Hockey, Women's Soccer, and an addition this year, Cross Country.
The remarks got started with the four coaches making opening remarks. Dale Cowper lead the pack with remarks about the chance to host the NCAA Championships at E.P. Tom Sawyer Park. He mentioned that they have re-arranged the course at the park this year, and expects the event to be better than ever. In perhaps a little bit of one-upmanship, Justine Sowry went next and spoke about how strong the ACC is as a Field Hockey conference (a refrain repeated numerous times, with reason, here on Cardinal Couple), and mentioned that they get to host both the ACC Championships, as well as the NCAA championships. Karen Ferguson-Dayes came next, talking up the experience of the senior class, as showing some excitement in the attackers, who were mostly freshmen last year, coming back with another year of experience under their belts. Dani Busboom Kelly spoke about the move of all of the Volleyball facilities to Cardinal Arena, and how it is now a dedicated facility. She also spoke of how much of a difference the renovation of Cardinal Arena has made and how great it is to be on-campus where they hope to get more student support, and to have a "Volleyball Compound" where they don't have to share court time and access to other facilities with other programs.
In questions from the media, we heard of the challenges that both Sowry and Ferguson-Dayes have with some number of their players not yet returning from International play over the summer. Busboom Kelly was asked about being picked "sixth or seventh" in the conference (actually eighth) and what that meant to the team, responding that they expected to finish better than anyone expects in conference, showing some confidence that it would be better than sixth as the question alluded to. Asked about her favorite part of the newly renovated Cardinal Arena, she said that it was the balcony seating in the end-zones, as that should be expected to up the energy level of the crowd. She did mention that it limits their ability, due to the closeness of all of the seating to the Volleyball court, of chasing down shanked balls, so it ups the importance of digging and passing cleanly, and overall ball control.
Asked about stand-outs that maybe aren't so well known so far in practice, Busboom Kelly mentioned Wilma Rivera, a transfer setter from Penn State who will be competing for playing time with last year's main setter, Kali Eaken. Also, freshman DS/Libero Alexis Hamilton got a shout-out for her outstanding play so far. Karen Ferguson-Dayes mentioned some names we already know, in Inger Katrine-Bjerke, and Gabbie Vincent, both Cardinal Couple favorites from interviews in past years, she named a couple of other names, that I didn't catch (listen to the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour tomorrow to hopefully hear more of them), as well as Brooklynn Rivers. Sowry mentioned Meg Schneider and Mercedes Pastor, both freshmen, as having contributed well so far in practice. She also mentioned Hollyn Barr, the backup goalkeeper, as having been playing extremely well, and that she would likely be starting in the cage for the first few games due to unavailability of Ayeisha McFerran. She also spoke of the depth of the roster, and mentioned the likelihood of going 17 deep, which is unsurprising given her penchant for rapid-fire substitutions.
After the session with the coaches broke up, the media moved into the next room to speak with representatives of the various teams. We first got the opportunity to speak with Tess Clark and Molly Sauer, of the volleyball team. They re-iterated coach Busboom Kelly's thoughts of Wilma Rivera and Alexis Hamilton being the stand-out newcomers to the team. Tess confirmed that she will be playing as a left side hitter, and does have some passing and digging duties. She mentioned that Sauer helped her out a lot by taking a lot of the passes from her.
Moving on, we spoke with Inger Katrine-Bjerke and Gabbie Vincent from the Soccer team. Paulie asked about KB's trip to China, then her further globetrotting back home to visit with family in Norway before returning to Louisville. They talked about the importance for the backs in the game of Soccer, how they were most responsible for communication on the pitch, and how they had the best vantage point to see the whole field of play and thus were in the best position to communicate what needed to be done.
Finally, visiting with Marigrace Ragsdale, Abby Grimes, and Taylor Stone on the Field Hockey team, we heard about their excitement for hosting both the ACC and NCAA Tournaments at Trager. We also learned that Marigrace and Abby, both being from St. Louis, have played field hockey together since they were twelve. We learned how the recruiting process worked to get both of them to Louisville (Abby committed first, Marigrace later asked if it was ok if she also came to play with her at Louisville, an exuberant affirmative being the answer to that.)
Paulie will have much of the audio from these interviews tomorrow on The Cardinal Couple Radio Hour, so be sure to tune in at 11am on Crescent Hill Radio, 100.9 on the FM dial in the central area of Louisville, to hear the recorded audio. On the plus side, you won't have to listen to us knuckleheads nearly as much as most weeks.