So, one time, I had an IM soccer game at the field hockey fields, or, as they're better known, "that gigantic piece of concrete with a carpet of artificial grass over it behind SPAC that varsity athletes are somehow supposed to compete on without getting violently injured." And I was trying to direct my friend to said field.
"I think we're on the field hockey field."
"Not the soccer/lacrosse field. The one behind it."
"Why is that the field hockey field?"
"I think it's where the field hockey team plays."
"We have a field hockey team?"
"I had no idea my tuition money was going towards subsidizing a women's field hockey team."
So, this is a segment I'ma call Tuition Tuesday. During football and basketball season, I'm not going to let our varsity athletes who don't participating in sports they make into video games go by the wayside. At least once a week, I will delve into the goings on of our other 17 varsity sports.
It's pretty clear why we have a football and basketball team. There's a good amount of school spirit for those sports, it allows us to be a part of the Big Ten conference, and we probably make a good deal of money.
But what about the other 17? As you saw, when my friend asked, I wasn't sure. I figure these sports are a major whirlpool of school resources, and they generally attract few spectators. And to be honest, I'm still not sure why we have them.
What I am sure about is that I'm perpetually impressed by my schoolmates who participate in these sports. Some, like our lacrosse team, are the best at what they do in the world, others are average, others are a little below average. But all of them spend their lives training year-in, year-out, to get as good as they can at their sports, while managing to maintain better GPA's then me, and considering the lack of pro prospects in these sports, with no more reward than a degree and those cool sweatpants and sweatshirts that all varsity athletes get issued. (They make up for it by wearing those sweatpants and sweatshirts literally everywhere they go. Question to athletes: do you get multiples, or do you just wash them a lot?)
And while I'm not going to make this blog about them all the time, I figure one post a week as a respite from discussing our two major sports will serve as my metaphorical slice of tuition that serves towards paying for the welfare of those athletes. Once a week, I'm going to pay my dues to these sports with these posts
As a writer for the Daily, I've learned how to take a liking to all these sports, having covered wrestling in the winter, softball in the spring, and preparing to cover soccer this upcoming fall, with a little bit of everything else sprinkled in between.
This is just an intro post - I'm not actually going to do this every week until fall, when there's actually something to write about - but I'd be remiss if I didn't cover something that happened slightly before I started the blog. About three weeks ago, Jake Herbert, Northwestern's two-time national champ wrestler, winner of the Hodge Trophy, the so-called "Heisman of Wrestling", and dude who I annoyed the hell out of all year long with my questions picked up another piece of hardware, the Jesse Owens trophy, presented to the best male athlete in the Big Ten. As you can see in the release, the only previous NU winner was Luke Donald, and the last three people to win it have been wrestlers, but Herbert is probably even more deserving.
If you never got to watch Jake wrestle, you missed out. You didn't need to know anything about wrestling. In fact, I barely did. All you needed to know is that Jake was going to win, and every participant in the room knew that, from him to the coaches to the opponents. The question was how much he was going to win by.
Jake won every match in his last three years at college with the exception of the national championship match his sophomore year. He pinned roughly half of his opponents, and if the match actually had to come down to a final score, he considered this a "hiccup" and sort of a failure on his part. He had an amazing career, pretty much made the NU wrestling program a perennial contender. It's just good to know that now he's competing against people he might actually have a chance of losing to - I got a sense he was getting a little bored of the grind of beating people week in and week out. Herbert is working to become an Olympic wrestler after just having fallen short in 2008 - here's to seeing him on your TV's in London in 2012.