As I was travelling to and in Canada for the latter half of the week, I'm in a bit of an International mood.
And so it is that we're going to explore the summer of a former Cardinal in international competition.
Alicja Wolny, a standout first baseman at UofL has been competing this summer with the Great Britain National Softball Team. Wolny competed with the Cardinals from 2010 through 2013, and since graduation has maintained her skills and athletic conditioning. She was also one of the principals of 502 Softball Academy in partnership with Katelyn Mann.
Wolny put some extra effort to get into peak form earlier this year to take one more trip around the basepaths with the British National Team. While she came to Louisville from California, she does hold a British passport.
The British Team, with Wolny, has had something of a whirlwind, Cinderella story, of a summer. Not known on the International stage for high level softball competition, Britain put together a good team and started down the path to Olympic Qualifications by entering into the European Women's Championships earlier this summer. The 3rd place finish at that competition qualified them to enter the Europe-Africa Olympic Qualifier event.
In the qualifying event, the Brits went undefeated through group play against Spain, South Africa ,and a quite good Netherlands team. Advancing to the Super Rounds, they met the Czech Republic, the team they beat in the 3rd/4th place game at the European Championships. With a 4-2 win over Czechia, they advanced to meet Italy in the final game. This game was for the Olympic marbles, a win here, and GB goes to Tokyo for the Olympic games.
Alas, it wasn't to be, Italy took the win 5-0, and along with it, the Olympic qualification berth.
Wolny is officially hanging up her cleats and presumably returning to Louisville. Will we find her in the dugout at Ulmer Stadium on the Cardinals coaching staff? There are no current vacancies, there, but I would be glad to see it happen someday in the future.
It has to be a wonderful feeling to compete on such a high level in a sport, and Wolny and the rest of the GB team has every reason to be proud of the run they made representing a country that traditionally has not been a softball powerhouse. They upset a few international powers along the way, and fell ever so short of their goal of qualifying for Tokyo 2020, there's nothing to be ashamed of, there.
I like to keep up with the ongoing exploits of former players at UofL, and I'm amazed at how often I find myself feeling some amount of pride at how they represent in the wider world. I acknowledge that I haven't really done anything individually to share in any of the glory except to sit on the sidelines as a cheerleader, but I am glad to see these young men and women step out into the world and be great people, and yes frequently great athletes as well, but first and foremost great people.
They represent their hometowns (El Dorado Hills, California, in the case of Wolny), the various schools from different stages of their life, and even their adopted hometowns (as Wolny has seemingly adopted Louisville as home, now) in addition to their country. We're all better off for having the presence of people like Alicja Wolny in our communities.
I look forward to seeing "The Big Wol" around Ulmer this spring, cheering on her Cardinals, some of which she has mentored, coached, and served as a role model.
Thank you, Alicja Wolny for a wonderful career in softball, and thanks to you, and all of the Cardinal sports alumni, for making the world a bit better place through your efforts.
USA gets the win
The USA FIBA U 19 USA women's basketball team, coached by Louisville head WBB coach Jeff
Walz, took the gold early this morning in Bangkok, Thailand with a overtime, 74-70 win over Australia. A tight contest throughout all four quarters and the extra session.
The Australians led 23-22 after one quarter ans still held that lead, at 40-39 at the half. The "Land Down Under" women were shooting a sizzling 57% in the first half and used threes in the final minutes of each of the first two quarters to gain those leads. Aliyah Boston and Paige Bueckers were the key components keeping USA in the game.
USA fought back to a tie to end the third at 53-53 but the Americans looked to be in trouble when Australia forged ahead to a 64-59 lead with 2:39 to play. USA got a huge three from Hailey Van Lith, though, to get within two and Van Lith's jumper tied it a 66-66 with 12 seconds to play in regulation.
USA took the lead for good at 72-70 with 2:40 left in the extra session on another Van Lith jumper. Rhyne Howard and Fran Belibi added baskets to give Walz's club a 74-70 lead late and that's how it ended.
Bueckers, who is headed to UConn, was named the tournament's MVP. She and Howard (Kentucky) were named to the All Star Five team.
Cardinal Couple Radio Hour
I wasn't able to be in studio this week, but there was a full house there, with Paulie parlaying with Jared, Daryl and Case. Colin Trask came in to handle engineering duties, and let Case shadow him on the board side of the desk. I was able to listen in, thanks to the wonders of the modern Internet, even as I was driving across southern Ontario.
The discussion included topics around Softball, Soccer, and plenty more. A CARDINAL COUPLE thanks to Colin Trask for admirably handling and teaching Case the board operations.
The Cardinal Couple Summertime Quiz was on the topic of Jeffrey Jacob Walz, I was able to best the score of the in-studio folk, but was in turn bested by my mother who was in the car with me.
EDITOR NOTE: We'd need to see an official, authorized and notarized scorecard on the above claim here at the Cardinal Couple Worldwide Corporate Headquarters before we'll acknowledge the win.
The Cardinal Couple Radio is on weekly on Saturday at 11 a.m. on WCHQ 100.9 FM here in Louisville, KY area. It can also be viewed on Facebook Live, accessed at the stations website www.wchqfm.com
and you can download the WCHQ app there, so you can take the station with you wherever you go.
You can check out yesterday's fun and see how you do on the quiz via the Facebook Live link, at: