Happy Fourth of July from all of us here at Inside NU! No Independence Day festivities are complete without the staples: a barbeque, fireworks and some national fervor. In the spirit of America’s freedom, we gave our staff writers the creative liberty to answer some fun Northwestern-related questions related to all things July 4. Read their answers below, and chime in in the comments with your own selections!
You have three Northwestern athletes and/or coaches (current/former) to invite to your Fourth of July barbecue. Who are you going with?
Bradley Locker: Pat Fitzgerald has to be one of my choices. He’ll provide a good infusion of energy and “Good Clean American Fun.” I also have a hunch he’d be a great cook and whip up some excellent food on the grill. Next, I’ll take Chase Audige, because he’s certain to bring the cookies, having racked up a Big Ten-best 81 steals last year. Finally, I know I can count on Maeve Nelson to get the party started with some charismatic dance moves.
Iggy Dowling: I’ll go with Fitz for my first slot, echoing what Bradley said above. Matt Nicholson and Boo Buie seem like good options here too. They lit the beam, now they’ll light up the fireworks.
John Olsen: Russell Payne, Michael Moynihan and 2023 MLS All-Star GK Tyler Miller. The potential dialogue between NU’s two current head soccer coaches would be can’t-miss, and if Miller brings the eccentricity he displays on the pitch, this is the Messi-Suarez-Neymar equivalent of ‘Cats’ calcio cookout trios.
Jason Boue: For my three NU athletic figures I’d want at a BBQ, I’m getting strategic. For starters, I’m going with Chris Collins manning the grill. Rumor on the streets is that he can man the charcoal like no other, so I’m trusting him with burgers and dogs at the function. Piggybacking off those hot dogs, no Fourth of July is complete without a hot dog eating contest. I want peak entertainment for my guests, so I’ll be trotting out Peter Skoronski and big Matt Nicholson to chow down. Joey Chestnut’s record of 76 dogs in 10 minutes may be in trouble with those two at the table (as an aside - Joey Chestnut must be in the conversation for greatest athlete of all time. I’m serious.).
David Gold: Every answer so far has missed the most obvious selection across all of Northwestern Athletics, offensive line coach Kurt Anderson. There is no one I trust on a grill more than an offensive lineman, and I am confident that Anderson can turn out top caliber burgers like he can offensive tackles. As for my other guests, everyone knows that Spikeball is the best barbecue/beach game available, so I want Temi-Thomas Ailara as my partner for the entire function. TTA, who finished second in kills for the entire Big Ten last season, would dominate any duo that dares to challenge her and her tomahawk-like spike. Finally, I almost selected Fitz because of his affinity for “Good Clean American Fun,” but if I am going to need a water pong partner for the day, I want Brooks Barnhizer holding down the table. Barnhizer is a knock down shooter, as shown when he connected on five triples against Penn State, so I firmly believe he will be as knock down with a ping pong ball. The pressure of a final shot would not faze him, having already played in the mecca of college basketball. He can splash from all over the court, so he can definitely splash the final cup of water. (Also as an aside — I concur with Jason that Joey Chestnut needs to be in the conversation for greatest athlete of all time.)
John Ferrara: We’re going with a no-coaches Fourth. I don’t need the grill-side lectures from the old guys about their takes on what’s new in politics, investing or Gen-Z. Let’s keep it light, keep it fun. Give me fencing legend Megumi Oishi on the grill. I trust her with my life when it comes to a spatula or anything that has prongs. I’ll put Steve Forman — the definition of a gamer and freshly graduated Northwestern tennis star — on activity patrol. He’ll have the cornhole games running in tip-top shape, and who knows, he might even strike up a badminton net. And finally, give me the cool kid on the block, Boo Buie. The name ID alone will make my barbecue the one to be at for anyone with multiple BBQ invites.
You need a cornhole partner to win you the game. Fate of the universe on the line, the Martians have the death beam pointed at Earth, you better hit it, you want _______.
BL: Boo Buie. Many would figure this is because of his scoring prowess, especially from deep, but it’s actually due to his ability to distribute the ball and pass in tight windows. A cornhole hole is just six inches wide. I feel like I’ve seen Buie fit passes between defenders in spaces smaller than that in clutch situations. Plus, we know he has a penchant for coming up big when it matters most.
ID: Danielle Williams, end of discussion. Seriously, I’m not even sure this is debatable.
JO: Jack Mitchell. Has the throwing experience with his time on the baseball team, and showed his clutch gene (that phrase makes me want to puke, FYI) as football’s starting kicker.
JB: As for my cornhole partner, there’s no better choice than Danielle Williams. We all know that she has the underhand motion down, and given her finesse around the plate, I’m sure she’d dominate bags. I’m perfectly fine getting carried by one of the best pitchers in Northwestern history, because it’ll make my fourth all the more enjoyable.
DG: Danielle Williams is the most obvious answer for this question; however she is not my selection. When I sat on North Campus Beach in early May, I watched what I thought would be the first QB competition of the summer for NU football — Jack Lausch vs. Brendan Sullivan in a game of cornhole. In what was a very intense game, I don't think Sullivan missed a single shot. The Michigan native was lights out with a bag in his hand, so I trust No. 6 for NU to carry me to the promise land of bags.
JF: Matt Nicholson. Anyone from the basketball team is a legitimate contender for this pick, given that they all spent about a week in Cancun at the beginning of last season (I like to tell myself in between practices they went to the beach and played a few games). I narrowed in on Nicholson because his daunting wingspan means the bag has to travel a shorter distance upon release, which my analytics guy is telling me yields a way higher win rate.