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ROUNDTABLE: What we are thankful for this Thanksgiving

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It’s been a trying fall season, but our writers still have gratefulness to spare.

NCAA Football: Northwestern at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Turkey Day! As we do annually, we here at Inside NU thought we’d reflect on the current state of Northwestern sports and this blog as a whole, reminiscing both positively and negatively on what the past year has brought us.

Check out what our staff is thankful for, and then let us know your thoughts in the comments section below before you head off to watch the NFL and stuff yourselves to the gills with food:

Avery Zimmerman: The Inside NU community

To be quite honest, there hasn’t been much to be thankful for with the Wildcat revenue sports in 2019. From an abysmal end to the 2018-19 basketball season, to a historically bad football team, it hasn’t been pretty. Fortunately, all of you make it worthwhile to cover the programs of the school that we love.

Shoutout to Noah and Joe (as well as the rest of our staff) for being great writers, editors and people, and thank you to everyone that follows along to our coverage, whether it be a revenue sport or golf, softball or lacrosse. It wouldn’t be fun to do what we do if there wasn’t a rabid but tight-knit Northwestern community hiding out there. Thanks for hanging in there and supporting the site, even when it’s tough to support the teams that we cover.

Noah Coffman: Offseason banter

After a full season of covering loss after loss, the thought of sitting idly by and waiting for the 2020 football calendar to begin sends a chill down my spine, especially given that this season’s abject failures mean we have another month to wait out. But instead, this community allows us to talk all offseason long about the various minutiae, both unimportant and incredibly important, of this Northwestern football program.

Without discussions about Mick McCall’s future, what the ‘Cats can try to do at QB, or, most importantly, who will take over at punter next season, I would be forced to confront both the existential dread of college sports fandom and the distinct possibility that Wildcat football is in a hole that in will take a long time to climb out of.

Instead, I can debate ultimately (relatively) meaningless position battles with the fine staff and commenters of this site! Those discussions, and, of course, teams like Wildcat women’s basketball, softball, and lacrosse (don’t sleep any of them) are the only way I will be able to get through this long offseason, so, starting Sunday, let’s get into it!

Daniel Olinger: Pete Nance

It took a huge leap of faith for me to predict that a player who averaged 2.9 points per game and shot 34.7% from the field last season would suddenly emerge as the star of the basketball team. A lot of people doubted me for picking him as MVP, and I’ll admit, some of the doubt seeped into my own thoughts. But then, it actually happened. Nance made the leap.

He’s averaging 13.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game, and has been far and away the ‘Cats best player. While I’m thankful that Nance made me look very smart in my prediction (humble, I know), I’m also thankful for the quality of basketball he puts forth. It’s been tough to watch Northwestern sports this fall considering this is the worst NU football team of the 21st century, and constantly writing about their futility can get a bit stale.

The men’s basketball team has its fair share of problems, but at least with a guy like Nance we get treated to some beautiful basketball plays that get a nerd like me on the edge of my seat. I can’t tell you excited I get whenever Nance hits a three with his pogo-stick jump shot of deflects a skip pass with his active and intimidating wingspan. What I can tell you is that I am very thankful for Pete Nance this holiday. Long live the Pete Nance Hive.

Caleb Friedman: Clayton Thorson

Watching the offense plunge to unthinkably low heights has given me a newfound appreciation for Thorson, who never let the offense be terrible after his freshman season. Thorson wasn’t always the greatest, but he was steady as ever and allowed the offense to play effective complementary football with a strong defense. Clayton Thorson is one of the best to ever don a Northwestern uniform, and he should be recognized as such.

Ryley Hougland: Cupcakes

This fall was a little rough for the football ‘Cats, but they were still able to pick up two wins against far inferior opponents. While I usually complain about scheduling pay games against G5 teams, I suppose I should be thankful for the sacrifices UNLV and UMass made to keep this from being a really bad season.

Colin Kruse: Thanksgiving weekend sports

I need an excuse to procrastinate from doing my two take-home finals for reading week. Northwestern basketball and football have been shaky lately, but this week is awesome for sitting down, unwinding, and consuming sports.

Duke losing its first non-conference home game since 2000 was pretty great, especially considering the wacky way which Stephen F. Austin pulled off the upset. NFL thanksgiving games are great, but I'm getting really pumped for Friday morning’s UVA-Virginia Tech game (Go ‘Hoos). Saturday is going to be a phenomenal slate of games in college football. I'm thankful I have the opportunity to consume all of this greatness.

Lia Assimakopoulos: Non-revenue sports

While I am a die-hard basketball and football fan and will be until the day I die, sometimes things don’t go the way you hope, as we’ve all seen this year. While I have still had a great time covering both team regardless of their records, non-revenue sports have made my year what it has been.

Field hockey was a blast to cover with its standout season. Bente Baekers is one of my new favorite athletes to watch in action. And in the few games I have covered so far, I have slowly found the women’s basketball team to be my favorite team on campus and cannot wait for what this season has in store. I appreciate these teams and the access and experience I’ve had while covering them. I have developed a newfound appreciation and skill set and cannot wait to continue to watch them in the near future.

Joe Weinberg: Our readers/commenters

Avidly following the enigmatic and frustrating concept that is Northwestern revenue sports can be tiresome, but getting to do so alongside this special community of NU fans/alums/students/marching band members/weirdos makes it all worthwhile. I truly cannot emphasize enough how thankful I am to be a part of this tiny, yet immensely passionate fanbase.

Getting to travel the country and cover sports with Inside NU has been an amazing experience, but it’s the day-to-day interactions with all of our wonderful readers and commenters that make this experience worthwhile. In my opinion, this online community represents the perfect balance (for the most part) between fandom and humility in college sports. This fanbase knows what it means to rally behind and support an athletic program to some serious depths, but we do so while also refraining from taking ourselves to seriously, which is the most important part of all.

So, on behalf of the entire Inside NU staff, I’d like to say thanks to each and every one of you reading this, and wish you a happy Thanksgiving.