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Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Word of the Day at Media Day is "Excitement" -- WEDNESDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Optimistic Spring Sports Media Day

Despite the gloomy weather outside the Planet Fitness Kueber Center yesterday, everyone inside the media room was in high spirits for the Spring Sports Media Day. (No word from the WBB locker room a few doors down; the soundproofing is pretty good in the building.) As Jared mentioned yesterday, Louisville gave the microphone to men's and women's golf, softball, diving, and lacrosse. The general mood was one of anticipation. All of the coaches and most of the players talked about being excited for the spring to come. I'll let the pressers speak for themselves for the most part, and I'll pick out my highlights.

Women's Golf

Coach Whitney Young was joined by Carmen Griffiths and Hana Ryskova to kick the event off. Coach Young noted that the team was coming off of a successful fall campaign and was happy to have everyone back for the spring. She talked about having her most experienced team (from a resume perspective) in her time as coach and liked the team's chances to have more than just an individual representative at the NCAA tournament this season. She noted how difficult it is to be competitive when one of your top players is out for injury.

Griffiths was happy to have represented the team last year but would definitely like to have her teammates along with her in this year's NCAA tournament, and Ryskova was glad to be in the midst of what she hoped to be her first full season not hampered by other issues. Everyone got a kick out of Coach Young pointing out that it was all well and good to say that but that Ryskova was getting her wisdom teeth removed next week.


Like Coach Young, softball head coach Holly Aprile was excited to build on last season and try to repeat or top the NCAA regional appearance. Both players that were invited, seniors Gabby Holloway and Daisy Hess, acknowledged a feeling of unfinished business after last season. They weren't thrilled with the way the season ended in the regional, feeling that they could have done more in that event. That said, the feeling was still optimistic. The team has 11 newcomers (which I've discussed) and 11 returners. No one mentioned the departures too much, focused instead on the incoming players that will add to the team. 

Gabby Holloway talked about the team building more camaraderie and trust in the next player up to be capable of filling a gap and how that helps every player perform better. She mentioned that the team is focusing on what went well for them last season and how they can build on those things while working to rectify issues as well. Personally, she noted that she's trying not to make any moment too big and to "be where [her] feet are."

Daisy Hess talked about the experience of going to an NCAA tournament after transferring in and how the decision to exercise her fifth year was easy as she wanted to build on another full year in the Louisville program. She discussed how last season she was coming into a position that wasn't fully known at the time of her transfer: where she would fit in in the infield or on the team in general. Now that that is behind her, she's excited to build on that last season.

Coach Aprile talked about the transfers, specifically calling out Kylie Goff, Bailey Richardson, and Riley Frizzell. She confirmed that Goff will take over starting catching duties and that the team has been working hard to get familiar with her since the waiver process was resolved. Goff was unable to participate in the team's fall ball games.

As you might expect, Brooke Gray is a topic of discussion, and the team is very excited for what she brings from a talent, confidence, and local presence perspective. Their focus is making sure her transition to the collegiate level is smooth.


We noted that it wasn't clear why swimming and diving were broken up for this media day, but that was addressed right out of the gate. While diving is usually included with Arthur Albiero's press conference, the program felt there was a lot happening on the diving side that deserved an independent platform (no pun intended). Else Praasternik was a major topic of discussion, but she wasn't present as she is already at the World Championships in Doha, working to qualify for the Olympics. A fun anecdote that we learned yesterday was that Praasternik's recruitment was a total flyer for Coach Ryan Rougeux. He recruited her based on some old videos of her dives and two video calls. I'd say it has panned out so far.

Lindsay Gizzi was in attendance as well, and talked about how it was a dream for her to transfer to a Power 5 program, so making the NCAA Tournament was a cherry on top. One of the things that drives the team is that they're very "lovey" and support each other strongly. While swimming is very active, the diving competitions and practices leave a lot of time available to talk and build those deep connections. She also talked about how she loves competing against a rival (in response to the UK meet being brought up). She says everyone cracks under pressure but it takes one thing to put you over the edge in those environments and she feels she has that.

Speaking of the environment, it was interesting to hear Coach Rougeux talk about how unique it is for Louisville diving to be able to thrive in the chaotic environment of a dual meet. Most diving competitions are quiet and stuffy. You don't hear cheering until the diver is under water. For UofL, the crowd creates a raucous environment for swimming that the Cards' divers are prepared for while their competition is usually thrown for a loop.


After appearances from men's golf and a departure from the agenda that saw Ashton Gillotte and Quincy Riley discuss their decisions to stay and what they're looking for next season, Coach Scott Teeter was joined by Sara Addeche and Nicole Perroni to talk about the upcoming lacrosse season.

Like every other coach, Coach Teeter was excited about the season to come. Like I said, that was the word of the day. For a peek behind the curtain, the teams come in the room one at a time, so it's not as though they know what their counterparts said before them. Coach Teeter was encouraged by the team's performance against Denver, who went on to make the Final Four last season. He said that opening against Denver and Colorado each year is definitely a good measuring stick because the teams know each other so well. He's hoping for a better performance on the road this year as they have struggled with the weather and altitude in years past.

Another point of optimism was the large veteran presence on this year's team with the addition of some key newcomers. In the past, it has been opposing ACC teams with six or seven 5th-year players and this time it's Louisville's turn. That segued well for Nicole Perroni to talk about how she knew was going to exercise her fifth-year option pretty much as soon as it became a possibility when she was a freshman. Her goal is to help prepare the rising upperclassmen for their leadership roles when players like her depart. 

Teeter also praised the benefit of having a veteran in goal this season and how important it is for that position to be locked down. Sara Addeche talked about how one of her points of emphasis has been continuing to develop her relationships with the defenders. After the presser was over, I let her know that she wasn't the only one that became a goalie to avoid running. I was in the same boat when I played soccer. 

Thanks to Jared, I had a great question teed up about the upcoming rule changes that will be implemented this season. All three attendees will feel those rule changes differently, so I was happy to get their candid responses. The NCAA brought on these changes without much input from the coaches or players and you can tell from their answers how Louisville's team feels about them. I imagine that feeling is common across the league, but everyone will have to deal with it nonetheless. Coach Teeter talked about how the team has been working to expand the playbook and practice with unique player number situations in anticipation of the season to come.

Until next time, Go Cards!

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