HOPE, OPTIMISM AND HARD WORK FOR THE SPRING SPORTS SQUADS
One of my favorite events to cover each year concerning Louisville Athletics is the Media Days for Fall and Spring Sports. On Wednesday afternoon, it was time for the spring sports stars to meet and greet the media and catch us up on preparations for the seasons ahead and also reveal some early results.
With JC "Julie Sullivan" alongside me, we spoke with coaches and players from five different programs in the "Little Yum" Practice facility and got some great glimpses into and thoughts about the programs. A special thanks to JC for the pictures you see here...except for Bassy the Ibus...who wasn't at the Spring Sports Day but most likely will be in Coral Gables Thursday for UofL WBB, which we'll get to later in the column.
(a note...the interviews from Wednesday are on the SOUNDCLOUD platform. It's free to download at www.soundcloud.com and we put a lot of interviews throughout the year on there. It don't cost nothing and there is a lot of great things to listen to on Soundcloud. Give it a try. )
We started with Louisville Lacrosse. Under the direction of first-year coach Scott Teeter, we asked Coach and senior players Emily Howell and Casey Madura a variety of questions about the preparations for the ACC and also threw in a few typical, off-subject Paulie questions.
Scott has fully moved to Louisville from Canisius, his previous coaching spot, to "the Ville". His family will follow after the school year. He's quite busy getting the players acclimated to his style of lacrosse.
"Baby steps at first, then we crawl, learn to walk and eventually sprint" is the mode in which Scott's preparing the squad for play. Emily and Casey are impressed with how he's built unity and togetherness. The two seniors were active in "keeping things together and creating strong bonds" in the transition of coaches and their attitudes and thoughts on the program indicate that Louisville will be a squad that will not give up, play with heart and passion...in the toughest Lacrosse conference in D1.
We also got some insights into Emily and Casey's hometowns and favorite dining spots. We actually spent more time with the LAX crew than any of the interviews we did and came away impressed with the grit and determination that we hope will equate into a successful season.
The goal here is to get better as the season progresses. We have no doubt they'll do so.
We also got confirmation that Louisville Lacrosse great Kay Morissette will be joining the staff as an assistant once visa issues are cleared...the Canadian is arguably the best Lacrosse player in the history of Louisville Lacrosse and will be a great benefit to the team. She's in town, taking classes and...hopefully still remembers her draw control skills. A great selection, Scott!
HEAR THEM HERE -- LOUISVILLE LACROSSE
Our next interview was with Louisville Rowing head coach Derek Copeland. His spring season kicks off on March 17th in Oak Ridge, TN at the Oak Ridge Cardinal Invitational. This technically serves as Louisville's "home water" and Coach Copeland is excited about the event, based on how well the Cards competed in fall rowing at the Rivanna Romp and Head of the Hooch events.
Kirsti Harrison returns as one of Louisville best rowers and also as team captain this year. Copeland is also impressed with a lot of the new oar-handlers on campus, including French freshman Violette LeGrand, who had a spectacular fall and is in line to be the quarterback of one of the boats...and a prime candidate for ACC Freshman of the year.
Copeland spent time with us explaining how athletes that might be interested in pursuing rowing in college could get into condition if their high school has no rowing program and also discussed the Cards state-of-the-art G. Garvin Brown Rowing Facility on the Ohio River.
DEREK COPELAND REVIEWS ROWING WITH US
Head Coach Sandy Pearsall and redshirt senior Nicole Pufahl were next on the interview stops and it's always a fun and informative time when I get the chance to talk with Coach P. Over the years I've found that interviews with Pufahl are also ones I enjoy quite a bit and her sparkling personality and quick wit were on display yesterday as well. Having spoke with them at the softball Saturday night, I switched it up a bit and queried a bit into Pufahl's life outside of softball. Did you know, for example, she once tried to learn guitar but broke a string and eventually sat down the six-string? She's also a fan of singing but didn't belt anything out at the showcase. I was asked about my own singing but quickly deferred the flow of the conversation to her teaming up with JC for an impromptu duet possibility. Coach Pearsall made no promise of making this a trio and I've been asked to refrain from public singing appearances in the foreseeable future.
Softball is faster, has more pitchers and a wealth of youth on the roster this season. Not many of them have met Pearsall's gigantic Leonburger's yet, but the possibility of working the huge dogs into a workout at practice with the freshmen was mulled over and, although no specific decision (much like the NCAA and decisions) was come to, it wouldn't shock me to see one of the canines chasing a newcomer down the first base line during sprint drills or accompanying on a squeeze play at the plate.
Starters Pufahl, Megan Hensley, Jenna Jordan (and more) return for Louisville and Pearsall reports that practices are going well and they are anxious for the season to begin. It starts in Orlando and I'm researching ways to be included as a "honorary" bat-boy or special consultee for 2-2 count, two-out situations...
When you talk with "Poof" her Dad is eventually going to surface in the conversation. He attends every game possible that she plays in and the big debate yesterday was whether he'd attend her sister's graduation from high school or be in attendance to see Nicole send opposing outfielders scurrying to track down blasts from the Moorpark, CA slugger's bat.
I'm waiting to see what he looks like in "mouse ears" when the team goes to Orlando for the opening of the season on Feb. 9th.
POOF AND P TALK WITH JULIE AND ME
WOMEN'S TRACK AND FIELD
Sophomore Alexis Gibbons is a long jumper for the University of Louisville's Track and Field squad. We were quite impressed with her easiness to talk to, her delightful attitude toward her sport and her successes in the long jump. First off, she won the 3A Kentucky title three years in a row while at Louisville Butler High School. As a freshman at UofL she set a Cardinal indoor record in the long jump (6.26 meters). She finished first at the UK Invitational and IU Relays and recently finished second at the Notre Dame Invitational...which the UofL women finished first in. What have you done for me lately, right? She's well on the track to becoming one of the premier long jumpers in the nation.
Her humbleness is the first thing you notice about her. She gives credit for her successes to her coach Joe Walker, Jr. She also praised the efforts of jumpers Jerin Allen (New Albany) and Javen Reeves...two Cardinal seniors that consistently "put points in the book" for UofL with their efforts "on the jumping strip". Martice Moore was also present -- he's qualified for the NCAA in the 110 and 400 meter hurdles...as well as gathered All-ACC First team honors in the events.
I may be in love with her. She digs ice cream bars, Strawberry Shortcake, "Brookies" (Brownie Cookies) and dining at Sapporo...all among my top favorites. You can hear her at the link below:
Alexis Gibbons Gives Us The Scoop
|I want a shirt exactly like this. I will not tire or falter|
until I have one. Oh, yes...it will be mine.
The "Baseline Cards" are 2-0 on the season with wins over Wright State and Dayton and play UTEP, MKU and WKU this weekend at the Bass-Rudd Tennis Facility just off I-65. The Friday matches are at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. and Sunday's tilt against the Hilltoppers starts at 11 a.m.
If you've never made it to a Louisville tennis match, you absolutely have to go check out the Bass-Rudd. It is one of the finest facilities in the nation.
MARK BECKHAM INTERVIEW
A great day that went all-too-quickly in our interviews. We did not get to catch up with Swimming's Arthur Albiero nor Mallory Comerford....time restraints. Rex Ecarma was another one that we didn't get to, but his men's tennis team is 3-0 already...in the indoor season.
Best of luck to all Spring Sports squads and a huge thank you to the coaches, players, sport SID's and staff that make this such a fun and informative event each late January.
HOOPS FOR BRUNCH?
Louisville WBB gets an early start on things today when they face "the U" Miami for an 11 a.m. tipoff in Coral Gables.
The ACC Network Extra will have the video. We suggest you listen to Nick Curran and Adrienne Johnson give the audio on 790 WKRD. Download the app and listen from anywhere.
"Worldwide" Jeff McAdams will provide the recap in Friday's edition of CARDINAL COUPLE.