Sunday, September 30, 2012

Blugolds Enter the Fall with "The Program"

UW-Eau Claire students are about one month into a new semester, and our Blugold Softball team has re-united and built this year's team! Try-outs have come and gone, "gassers" and all. There's 19 that survived (and our lovely teammate Emma "Wish" Wishau off studying in France to make 20). We are all incredibly excited for another year to work hard, work even harder, and grow together as teammates, leaders, and now...warriors.



We have learned what it means to be warriors after experiencing a little something called "Judgment Day," put on by a sports physical and mental training company called The Program. For two days this past week, our team was led by former members of the military and collegiate athletes who now dedicate their time to help build CHAMPIONSHIP teams. We went through challenging tasks like hoisting 8-foot logs up and down with our teammates, running 50-pound. sandbags up and down the soccer field, completing military command exercises, and tredding water in the deep end in full sweats.

I thought instead of giving you full details about the event, I'd give you a couple player testimonies to hear about the experience.

Here's some perspective from sophomore Amanda Fischer:

"Twelve of the most challenging hours of my life. Twelve of the most impactful hours of my life. It's amazing how just twelve hours can impact an individual and a team so much. The gratitude I have for the opportunity we had those two days is impossible to bring up in words. Throughout those twelve hours my teammates and I struggled. We struggled physically and even more importantly we struggle mentally. But we didn't just GET THROUGH Judgment Day, we ATTACKED Judgment Day. We learned key lessons that are going to take this team to the National Championship on Gelein Field in May. I learned throughout those twelve hours that every single person on this team has so much to offer, and so much more that we didn't see. The pool morning was one of the most challenging things I have ever done, and the first time we started treading water and taking our sweatshirts on and off I was honestly scared for my life. But once I realized that others were struggling more than I was, and I started focusing on making sure they got through it and stopped worrying about my own pain, my pain virtually went away. Yeah, it was still challenging and I continued to struggle, but when worrying about my fellow Warriors was my main focus, it was a lot easier to get through that struggle. There were times when I had to be carried by my teammates as well. I am so thankful for the group of players that we have this year, and I am so thankful that I got to experience Judgment Day with them. If we can take the structure, precision, and attack attitude to the off-season and into the ACTUAL season. We will be, UNSTOPPABLE.

"We are ONE team with ONE heartbeat."

Another testimonial from senior Karen Hansen:

"I’m not going to lie…I had some nerves. I didn’t know what to expect out of the staff or out of myself. All I knew is that I wanted to give it as much as I could, remain disciplined, and help my team in it as well. The Program’s results exceeded my expectations.

"I grew so much in learning what was in myself. As Judgment Day went on, I began to realize that people don’t really care if I’ve been trying hard. I’m supposed to be doing that. It’s more to give it our ALL. And as much as I’d like to say I gave it 100% every day, every drill, all the time, I know I can still tap into more. It can be extremely frustrating to see all my teammates out ahead of me where I think I could be – where I want to be after fighting back from surgery. So many times, I had to come into check, give myself some grace, and then remember though that this time is NOT about me. It’s about them. Us. And MAN, am I so proud of how hard my teammates work. Blown away.

"I LOVED that Mack shared with us that leadership is taking care of the mission ourselves, and then helping our teammates in reaching that mission. I know that I want to lead in a way that I’m giving it my all, and then pushing, encouraging, and rejoicing in my teammates successes. I stopped looking at myself or how I was measuring up to those to my left and right. Instead, I learned to celebrate when my teammates finished ahead of me, when they overcame something really challenging, when they showed their passion for the team in some incredible act of leadership, and from some all out hustle.

"But all this really, REALLY set in during our pool workout, treading water in the deep end of the pool. I was lucky to be partners with Zana. We worked really well together, and completed our task relatively quickly over time. After her and I both had our sweats on, we figured out to help out our teammates. Right next to me was Miss Laura Raflik. I could tell she didn’t want to show it, but she was frightened as she struggled in the water. She was cold, shaking, and panicky. She was breathing heavily in her struggle. I assured her that I would help hold her up, affirmed her in her struggle, and tried to keep her calm. It was one of the most beautiful things to be partners with Laura when Courtney narrowed down our mission to just 9 people in the deep end. I was SO proud of our entire team to continue to cut down the time and keep each other up in that water, and then to just drastically cut down that time, despite the fear in Laura’s eyes and the shake in her body, we all did it together. And I could only help her because I stopped caring about what the people outside of the pool were thinking. I stopped worrying about what my performance looked like. I just got my sweatshirt off and up as fast as I could so that I could help Laura. I will never forget the exchange we had immediately after that 1:15, the relief, exhaustion, and thankfulness in her eyes and smile. And I saw her later on that afternoon and had one of the best hugs I’ve ever had from a teammate. While she told me that I inspired her, I think she did way more for me.

"All in all, this team showed incredible growth, incredible heart, and incredible determination.  I am so excited to see where we go from here!"



Make sure to discover more about the experience on the Blugold Athletics page, from WEAU 13's Online News coverage, our Flickr photos, or YouTube video below.


A couple shout out's as well from us Blugolds!
  • Thanks to The Program for investing in our team, challenging us, sharing your hearts for intensity and teammwork, and ultimately for sharing what it means to be always looking to our left and to our right.
  • Thanks to Melissa for treating us to recovery meals! You take such good care of us!
  • Thanks to super fans Keith & Tim for showing up to support us...always...no matter what the hour of the day is.
  • Thanks to all the Blugold coaches and faculty, parents and fans, and friends who supported us by watching us experience Judgment Day!
  • Thanks to our friends and family for supporting us through the week, encouraging us even as we were tired from the experience.
  • Thanks to our coaching staff for believing in us to present us with an incredible opportunity to move forward together in this!
Look for more testimonies and stories this fall!

GO BLUGOLDS! :)

- Karen Hansen, #22



Sunday, March 11, 2012

Tot on Fork

Greetings Thy Faithful Followers,

In case you were wondering, this week's post will be MUCH shorter...why might you ask?
1. We didn't go to Chicago
2. We've put off homework long enough...tonight could potentially be the night to be productive
3. Forget about #2, the Kardashians are on TV #trashytv

Anyways...

We're excited that this will be the last time we blog before we are in the SOUTH picking up foreign accents. This week won't be like any other pre-spring break week that we've ever had BECAUSEEEEEEEE we get to go outside :)

The turf at Carson Park is completely uncovered and the forecast looks beautimous (kinda)!!!

However, we did get to go outside last week for a brief 1/2 hour. After getting done what we needed to in the gym, we went behind McPhee where the Simpson football field was mostly uncovered to get our first "real" experience of catching fly balls!

This was shortly lived by the 32 degree temps, the wind and the sporadic ice chunks that needed to be dodged. It was entertaining to say the least...especially if you got short hopped and the ice chunk screwed you over like it did the titanic and SAT YOU DOWN. It was a fun little game of "duck and cover" and "fight or flight" if the ball hit the still frozen ground before you. We learned very quickly to catch it, or get out of the way.

Besides the chaos, we actually managed to get better! Nikki Brooks got to wear her visor, we all got to test out our cleats, and we all looked DASHING in the hats that were made for 6 year olds...or those who have a head the size of Ashley Meinen...

We also had Susan Krueger come and talk to us this week. She teaches human nutrition at UWEC and she came to give us a little advice on how to be the best athletes...as far as nutrition is concerned anyway...

Things we learned...
1. Chocolate milk is a grrreat recovery drink...pop tarts are not
2. Coffee is good for you...drink up! Until you get the jitters at least (we're working on that)
3. That steak you wanted to order? DON'T...
4 We're all beautiful, inside and out..
5. Popcorn is not a meal, but it's a pretty good snack!
6. Nobody's food logs got shut down more than ours' (M and M)
7. Sweet potatoes are better for you than mashed, white potatoes but won't taste nearly as good (that's our theory...from the extensive research and taste testing that we've done through governmental organizations...ie- we only eat white potatoes and aren't planning on changing)
8. Feel free to indulge in enormous amounts of pizza if you have calories left to spare at the end of the week...go heavy on the sauce...light on the pepperoni and something about whole grains was mentioned...but we tuned that out and got little Caesars instead :) logged it!

Anyway, we look forward to blogging while we're in FLORIDA!! We'll have many more stories from the plane ride since plane tickets are purchased alphabetically, and conveniently MEINEN and MULLER are right next to each other! (thanks Dona, Monte, D and T)..

Have a fabulous week...seeeeee ya when we're tan ya'll

Fun Facts of the Week:

1. Coach's lips turn blue when it's cold
2. Norway is leading the pack in number of whales killed per year. Russia is a close second...can't wait for sea world!
3. Our picks for celebrity grandmas are Julie Andrews and Betty White
4. If you have 3 quarters, 4 dimes, and 4 pennies, you have $1.19. You also have the largest amount of money in coins without being able to make change for a dollar.
5. Karaoke means "empty orchestra" in Japanese
6. The three best-known western names in China: Jesus Christ, Richard Nixon, and Elvis Presley

That's all for today...deuces...

M and M

Monday, March 5, 2012

Hola! Bonjour! What up!

We felt like we should begin by saying hello in a couple different languages since were are esteemed world travelers now! And by world travelers, we mean we went to Illinois..close enough to around the world...

We were given this past weekend off of softball and we thought it would be the PERFECT time to cross a few things off our bucket list. When scrolling through twitter one day, I (Emily) noticed that there were upcoming auditions for season 3 of The Voice. Naturally, I checked into it and found they were being held in Chicago on Saturday March 3rd. 5 minutes later, with the OK from Coach and Robin, and I was signed up. Then Ash, being the grrrrreat friend that she is, knew I would need a wing man and quickly signed up herself...even though she had never sang in front of people before, or been in a choir, or used her voice for anything you could call musical.

The original plan was for me to try out solo and for Ashley and Jenny Hess to prepare a duo act. But, Jen couldn't get off work so Ash was turned into a solo artist. Season 3 is scheduled to air in November/December of 2012 but there are 5-7 audition steps before you'd actually get to try out on the show. We signed up for step #1. This included preparing two songs acapella (without music) that you would sing in front of a judge. If you got asked for a call back, you'd have to prepare 3 songs...1 of which you'd have to accompany yourself on (guitar or piano) and the other two which you'd sing to a track.

Without giving it too much thought, we jumped in the car on Friday afternoon and headed to Chicago. There were several things that warranted worries from our parents and coach and robin...

1. We're Ashley Meinen and Emily Muller
2. We don't have the cleanest driving records
3. The weather was terrible
4. We've never driven in Chicago before
5. We've never driven through tolls
6. We had ZERO idea of where the audition was or how to get there
7. We definitely didn't read the fine print to this whole idea
8. Our creative minds have tended to get us into trouble in the past...

Naturally, we didn't see how ANYTHING could go wrong. I guess you could understand why a select few were worried...

The trip started out on a great note. We stopped at Kwik Trip to get some snacks and gasoline. And by snacks we mean anything and everything that we could see found its way to the register with us. (Our food logs are looking FABULOUS). However, before going into the store, I managed to lock my keys in my car. I KNEW there was a reason I put the spare key in my purse! Crisis avoided.

We then hit the road. Destination: Kenosha. Our plan (which was a very minimal plan) was to drive to my sister's house in Kenosha that night and then head to Chicago in the morning for our 2:00 audition. We made it to Madison without any issues and then mother nature had her way. The rest of the trip consisted of us going about 25-35mph through drifts of snow. We were passing cars in the ditch left and right, sirens were going off and you had to guess where the lanes were. PERFECT conditions for my go-kart of a car. We managed to stay on the road and minimally fishtail before making it to Kenosha 6 hours after our departure. It was supposed to take us 4.5 hours. But we were safe :)

We got to sleep in the next morning (which felt amazing after a crazy week of morning practices) and dolled ourselves up. We had to look good if we were going to become famous! We left for Chicago at 10:00 am...allowing plenty of time for us to get lost or our car to break down. Surprisingly, the trip went well...minus the whole toll booth experience when the window wouldn't roll down. You can imagine. Side Note: being polite is NOT a requirement to work at the toll booth. Anyway, we got to Chicago around 11:15 and went to my cousin's house. We had lunch with her, practiced our songs, Ash finally learned her lyrics (kinda) and we headed to the audition.

We got to McCormick Place(which is larger than the city of Eau Claire) around 1:15 for our 2:00 audition...25,000 other people did the same. We hopped in line and waited...and waited...and waited...and waited...While we waited, we met some of the most INTERESTING people we've ever met.

There were the two girls eating honey and rubbing it on their faces...new vocal regimen that we've never heard of...

Some guy attempting to play his guitar which sounded atrocious....no wonder he hadn't made his last 14 auditions for American Idol, The X Factor, America's Got Talent and the previous seasons of The Voice. We told him to find a new dream...perhaps he should try the toll booth...that looked simple enough...

Then there was the guy dressed in socks..
The 70 year old who apparently stole her 16 year old granddaughter's purple sequin dress...
The guy next to us who was more concerned with what strip club he was going to that night..
The guy who didn't eat dairy for the past month because he was afraid of how it would affect his vocal cords...
And the girl who was just upset because her mom made her come to the audition...

Need we say more?

After 3 hours we made it to the "front of the line"...or so we thought. We finally had to show our passes and our ids to the security guards who then told us that we still had to wait 4 MORE HOURS. We started to get bitter. Our UWEC basketball team made it into the NCAA regional tournament and after their win on Friday night, were playing at the University of Chicago at 7:00. We wanted very badly to see this game and this whole 4 more hour wait was interfering with that. We compromised that if we weren't anywhere near the actual audition by 6:00 pm that we would leave.

We made it to the check in point...which consisted of more lines. When we were standing in these lines you could hear hundreds of people behind this huge wall singing and clapping and cheering for one another. We looked at each other and thought CRAP. If that's how we have to audition, we're screwed. Fight or flight, and Ashley was flighting. We made it past check in, went behind the wall, and were relieved to find that it was just another waiting room...except they gave us chairs this time...our high heeled boots were getting heavy..and definitely not made for walking :)

We were separated into groups of 10...ash and I strategically made sure we were in the same group. It was here that we got to know our group members pretty well since we spent the next 2.5 hours shoved shoulder to shoulder with them. And boy did they keep us company...as we did to them. We were told at this time that the call backs for this audition were Monday...as in 2 days. Where other people were freaking out, Ash and I just started laughing. The guy next to us asked what was so funny and we simply said, "we can't make the call back anyway...we have school and practice...and we want to get to a basketball game tonight." He was appalled. He told us this was his dream and that he couldn't believe that we weren't taking it seriously. We shrugged our shoulders and said "we just had the weekend off and wanted to cross some things off the bucket list"...

The other guy next to us explained that trying out for these shows was more of a hobby for him now. We told him that Ashley had actually never sang in front of people before and that she was worried that she'd get to the audition, panic and then only remember the words to Salt and Peppa's SHOOP. He then asked us if we'd ever seen Ellen Degeneres' HERE AND NOW...instantly best friends...

Finally, at about 5:15, our row of 10 people got called...to another floor of the building...to wait some more. We played musical chairs as different groups got called up and FINALLY, at 6:20 pm..our group was called..but not after some rando started singing "I believe I can fly" at the top of his lungs while waiting in line for the 5:00 call...at this point, we were used to things like this...

We filed into the room and took our place in the chairs. We performed for one judge...a casting director...each person was called up and they had to stand on the X and sing one verse and a chorus from a song of their choice. Our favorite was the 50 year old biker chic who was there with her daughter and sang about loving something red neck...not really sure...I was distracted by Ashley trying to cover her laugh attack. We each took our turns...I sang "I can't make you love me" by Bonnie Rait and Ashley sang a STELLAR version of "Hell on Heels" by The Pistol Annies. What makes it worse/funnier is that Ashley was called last out of the ten. And knowing that she was the worst after hearing everyone else made her oh so confident to get up there and let her talent shine. Potential medical emergencies crossed her mind to get out of it but she sang...BEAUTIFULLY? Sadly, at this point, we were told "Thank you for coming"...but you're terrible...or something along those lines...

We got out of the room and one of our new friends was just shaking from the audition. She proceeded to tell us how nervous she was and that her fly was down the entire performance and that's all she could think of. HA

We then left the McCormick place...screamed to everyone waiting that we were going to Hollywood (they started clapping for us)...shoved some Jimmy Johns in our faces and hopped in a cab to the basketball game.

We made it to the game just in time for the national anthem...I'm not sure why they didn't ask us to sing. We met up with Robin who was there as the administrator and told her allllll about our adventure...she was just glad we were still alive and friends :) The basketball team ended up losing a heart breaker to undefeated Chicago..it was a great game and we were glad we made it there...

We then had to find a way BACK to my car..which was at my cousins...who decided she didn't want to pick us up anymore. Convenient. Cabs weren't exactly plentiful by the University of Chicago so we had BRILLIANT idea #1789...we were going to walk...approximately 70 blocks...still in our boots that aren't made for walking or wearing for over an hour.

We set out, made it about 30 minutes towards what we think was the direction we needed to go, and were saved only by a barbed-wire fence from two angry dogs. Enough was enough in this ghetto...we needed to find a cab...

Apparently jumping jacks aren't an adequate way to get cabs to pick you up...we found this out very quickly. After waiting another 10 minutes, we finally found a cab to take us to our car. We headed back to Kenosha, had dinner at about 1:00 am...and then rested our very very sore feet...and voices of course.

We headed back to Eau Claire around noon the next day. I think we enjoyed the 13 hours in the car toooo much this weekend. We jammed to about every song possible...consumed way to many cheese balls and milk shakes...and had sooooooo much fun. We provided a video for your entertainment below.

We decided that after we got home that there was actually only 1 positive to the trip. We were still alive and still friends. And that was enough for us. Hollywood will have to wait until next year when we try out as a duo act.

As far as softball is concerned (since we really haven't mentioned it yet!), we're eager to get outside and to go on spring break. Practice inside is getting old but we're trying to find new ways to use our time and get better every day...so far so good.

We hope you were entertained by our adventure. Even though we didn't make it and will not be famous (yet) we had a blast and it was a GREAT weekend away from the normal Eau Claire life.

Now for the video...which needs a little background information..

Our sophomore year we took a bus to the leadoff classic in Panama City Beach, FL. This was 23 hours on a bus...with EVERYONE. We played a little game called "Deaf Karaoke" where someone puts in headphones and plays on song on their ipod. They turn the volume up allll the way so that they can't hear themselves sing, only the song. The audience can only hear the person singing and not the music...it's hilarious and we convinced coach to give it a try. Usually you're not allowed to pick your song to sing but that was the only way she'd do it. So she picked Love Shack and Boondocks. It is potentially top five favorite memories of softball hearing her sing those songs and we even made up our own version of the song to fit her life. "Coach feels no shame, she's proud of where she came from, she was born and raised in IOWA". When this song came on the radio on our ride home, we just had to make a dedication video for her :) We've included the original of her singing on the bus (the less embarrassing of the two), and then our new one from the weekend! Enjoy!


video


video

Have a fabulous week! We'll see ya next Sunday!

M and M

Sunday, February 26, 2012

We're Back Ya'll

Sorry for the delay in Blog posting...the last two Sundays were craaaaazy!

As most of you know, we spent last weekend in ultra team bonding mode. We went about an hour north of Eau Claire and spent the weekend at Coach Huntington's Parents' cabin. All but 3 people were there crammed into one space. After watching the women's basketball team clinch a share of the WIAC regular season title, we all caravaned to the cabin just in time to pop in some Papa Murphy's pizza, play chubby bunny with cheese balls, and scarf down every last veggie straw and chip. Good thing we were exempt from food logging for the weekend :)

Dessert consisted of s'mores around the camp fire. Some of us attempted a new "style" of using Reese's Peanut Butter Cups instead of Hershey bars...we all voted it a success...We then started the endless list of campfire games to which Coach and Robin participated. Losing required the person to do a snow angel, face down. Needless to say, Coach and Robin are recovering from frostbite.

We played "5 Drive" "Mafia" "Snap" "I'm going Camping" "Squirt" and "Categories" to name a few. All highly intelligent games that require the UP-MOST of smarts and maturity. Like we said, Coach and Robin lost :)...and hopefully they don't read this until AFTER conditioning on Tuesday morning!

After fire #1, we all went inside and played a few rounds of "The game of Things." Basically the game gives you a situation such as "Things that you shouldn't say to your in-laws" or "Things that you shouldn't do while naked"...all the players then write a response and you have to try and figure out who said what. Basically, it turned out to be a mini ab workout from laughing so hard.

It was then bedtime for those above the age of 22 and those in the canine family. The rest of us stayed up, played a few more rounds, ate a few (or several) more chips, and played a some more "get to know you" games before the early risers headed off to bed.

Approximately 1:30am, Jenny Hess, De Gilane and the M & M's decided to go outside to get some fresh air...which is the nice way of saying we were basically forced out of the house since everyone else was sleeping and there was no room for us to talk...and talking quietly is just not possible. You're welcome for being considerate. We took a blow up mattress out on to the lake, along with a few blankets and planned our lives for the next 10 years. Probably the most productive thing we've ever done at 1:30 am!

Fire #2 started around 3:00am by us four, mostly because we were freezing from sitting on the lake for an hour and a half. We attempted to be silent when gathering our supplies but apparently, coach heard us every single time we left and re-entered the house. OHHHH WELL. We stayed up until about 4:00am and then went inside, woke some people up by rattling the veggie straw bag, and eventually drifted to sleep.

Alarms went off around 7:00am, just in time for team pancakes. Some people had to get back to Eau Claire for other commitments, but a few of us die hard campers got in touch with our inner Steve Irwin (RIP) and went ice fishing. Talk about doing something redneck. We used a giant drill to make holes, which about tore off our rotator cuffs, learned what a bobber was, and caught some goldfish...or trout...or sharks...I'm not really sure what they were....but by golly coach was in her ELEMENT. So we were happy to participate. Some people actually caught some fish...some slept in sleds...some pretended they were stranded on a deserted island and need to catch food to survive (ok maybe that was just us two)...while others played fetch with Bogey (the dog)...many activities for all to enjoy!

Eventually, ice fishing(which we've now decided to call an expensive nap) wasn't holding some of our interests so we went inside to get more food and play Jungle Speed. Robin's luck at games continued for the weekend and she found herself losing once again. We're glad she's wayyyyyy better at softball than pointless games :) This concluded our cabin weekend. We were exhausted and headed back to Eau Claire!

It was then a week of great practices before GAMEEEEE DAY! And boy did we start the season out right!

As the great Jim Haluska said, "You can't win em' all if you don't win the first two!"...and we did just that!

We played two games against Gustavus this Saturday in the Rochester Dome. Both ended in dramatic fashion and had their ups and downs for each team...typical for the first weekend of games and the first time playing with an outfield! This year we came up with a list of goals that we want to accomplish in each game. These include things such as "attempt 3 steals" "throw out a base stealer" "have key 2 out hits" "web gems" to name of few of the 15 or so that are on there. We were proud that we accomplished almost all of these goals in our double header and more importantly, that these goals lead to two big wins.

If you want to know the specifics of the weekend games, check out our Blugold athletics website...they'll explain it more detail than we will!

http://blugolds.com/sports/sball/2011-12/releases/201202252d76gz

We would like to give some shout-outs to some peeps this weekend though..

Emma Wishau, Ashley Meinen and Emily Ruegemer - STELLAR job by our pitchers in both games and doing your job to get batters out when we needed it.

Jess Freagon - continued her dominance from last year, moved to the lead-off spot, and hit amazingly...all while splitting time between basketball and softball for the past 4 weeks..

And two freshmen, Casey Arnold and Taylor Pierce, for coming up with big offensive hits in CLUTCH situations in their first collegiate games...

Everyone of course played their role this weekend and for the most part, played it well. We definitely didn't play perfectly, but we played well enough to win and that was our ultimate goal. We will continue to improve these next three weeks before we head to Florida to play on a real softball field....time cannot go by quickly enough!

As always, we will leave you with some pointless information to ponder...

1. Follow us on twitter....@meinenar and @emuller30...you won't be disappointed...
2. Follow @uwecsoftball on twitter for game updates and other information relevant to the sport we play
3. We will be trying out for The Voice this coming weekend in Chicago. No, this does not mean we will be on TV in the next week...we are trying out for season 3...updates to follow in the next blog...
4. The sound of ET walking was made by someone squishing her hands in jelly
5. 1 in 5000 North Atlantic lobsters are born bright blue

As the week continues, we'll try and put together some video footage of cabin weekend and the games to give you better insight of what goes on in our crazy lives...

And finally...a piece of literature...the shortest poem ever written...

Title: Chicken Pox
Poem: Adam, Had em.

You're Welcome...Good night...we look forward to your follow requests on Twitter...

Emily Muller #20 and Ashley Meinen #17

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Serious Fun

Hello E'ryone,

Welcome to the first edition of SUNDAY M & M's...by yours truly, Emily Muller and Ashley Meinen. This year, for our FINAL year of Blugold Softball, we've decided to entertain you every Sunday night. You're Welcome in advance. We'll provide details from the previous week, our thoughts on softball (and life), some meaningful guidance, some probably not-so-meaningful guidance and some plain old useless material. We do accept requests for topics...if you'd like to know anything about anything, do not hesitate to ask...we will help you out and get you informed! Keep it appropriate, please. We would love to answer anything and everything, but Coach Huntington reads this too...and we'd like to continue to be on the team for our senior year :)

Week 1:

Theme of the week: paralysis

After three and 1/2 years of playing college softball, you'd think we'd have it figured out how NOT to be so sore after the first week of practice....this is false...we can't move. Everyday activities such as getting into your car, going down the stairs, using the restroom, bending down to get the remote, standing and waiting for your Mac and Cheese to boil...etc...have all become EXTREMELY difficult. However, it's a testament to our week of hard work, team building, conditioning and preparing for an amazing season. We're seeing (and feeling) the results of our time and effort and it's only the first week. This is a grrrreat sign of things to come. Plus, the more we work out, the more calories we can eat! #littlecaesars #icecream

Week 1 was a little different than the past seasons we have played here. The focus has switched from making us "position players" to making us "softball players" Each player is doing the same defensive work every day to prepare us to play numerous positions and just become more athletic...which is key...especially for pitchers :) Our new set of daily defensive drills has taken a long time to learn and implement because it's new to all of us...even the coaches. We are staying patient and positive and looking forward to it becoming faster, cleaner, sharper and more efficient. We've already gotten better since Monday so things are looking up!

The weeks leading up to spring break are very demanding. We, as players, dedicate a lot of our time OUTSIDE of practice to focus on the individual aspects of our game. Pitching, catching and hitting, for the most part, are broken into small groups that come in before practice time to get individual work and further instruction. By taking care of these things outside of our "team practice time," we are able to focus on aspects of the game that apply to everyone while we are all together. We only have about 2 hours everyday where the entire team can practice together because of class conflicts so this new format is key using our time wisely, more efficiently and improving faster.

This week is also new to us veterans in that we play in just 3 WEEKS!!! Usually we have at least 4-5 weeks before our first game. This year, we have to find the balance between teaching the fundamentals but yet still preparing for our first double header of the season. It's a hard thing to do, especially with half the team being newcomers this year. With leadership from the upperclassmen, as well as the coaches, we feel like we've found that balance. We WILL be prepared come February 25th!

That's it for day one. Normally, we will post earlier but The Voice premier (with Blake Shelton) kept us up past our bedtimes...and away from our homework We look forward to chatting with you each week and we promise, more stellar thoughts next time...

BUT WAIT....Each week, we will leave you with a song/poem. Sometimes, we might even add a video of us performing said artistic work. This week, we've written you a goodnight poem...

"Goodnight to all, we've had a ball.
We need to rest, to perform our best.
Our legs are sore, and tired too,
But we are done complaining to you.
Have a good week, staying at home,
we look forward to seeing you when we play at the dome!"...in Rochester

Deuces...

M(uller) and M(einen)

Fun Fact of the Week: The citrus soda 7-UP was created in 1929; "7" was selected because the original containers were 7 ounces. "UP" indicated the direction of the bubbles. ....share with your friends if you'd like...

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sharing is Caring

Hello Everyone!

It's been a very long time since I have posted but after some inspiring words sent to me today, it's time to break my blog-less streak! And since it's been a loooong time, please bear with me because it's probably going to be a long one! But, before I get too far into writing, I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and are ready to ring in the new year while counting your blessings and being thankful for everything you have in your life and the people that surround you with love each and every day.

By now, most of the team is off on Christmas break, at home with their families and friends and will be there until classes start on January 23rd. Some of us however, choose to stay in Eau Claire over break and work, or just plain relax away from our parents ;) Whichever we choose, the four weeks off will definitely be enjoyed and will definitely be necessary for us to be recharged and ready for the season to start in the spring.

A few of us got a glimpse of the spring and what it's like to practice in the gym when we hosted our annual holiday clinic on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. It was a success again this year and we were fortunate enough to be joined by Coach Walter, the head coach at St. Scholastica, Coach Wammer, Head coach at Northland, Coach Schneider, assistant coach for the Wisconsin Badgers as well as St. Scholastica's pitching coach Rilee Dawson, and former EC coaches Tim Husted and Rachael Click. Add in Coach, Robin, Amber and a few of us Blugold players, and there was PLENTY of knowledge to be shared.

This clinic is much different than the others that we run at Eau Claire. It is a much more detailed and skilled camp for high school aged athletes. There were focuses on hitting, pitching, primary and secondary position play, video analysis, the mental aspect of the game, thinking positively and even a conditioning session. We also ran stations for high school and travel ball coaches on different aspects of the game such as recruiting, building a line up, and pitch calling to name a few. It's an intense camp geared toward preparing young women for stellar high school careers and hopefully, future college careers as well.

In the past, there haven't been many Blugold players that help with the Holiday clinic but this year, we were fortunate to have 10 of us players attend. You would think that with the coaching staff already there, you wouldn't really need us players too. But the email that I received today proved otherwise.

Coach forwarded me an email today from a mother whose two daughters have been coming to our clinics for years. They've been to the holiday clinic before and I swear, they have more Blugold softball t-shirts than I do! And even with their familiarity of how we do things, this year's holiday clinic stood out to them. This is what she wrote to us (I've removed their names just in case they didn't want them public)

"This is truly the first camp [they] came out of smiling ear to ear, did not want to kill their sister, and could just not stop talking about all [they] learned . They could not stop talking about how wonderful everyone was and just what great instruction they felt they got from all of you! I don't care what anyone says, when older girls take the time to connect with younger girls on sports, techniques, and the mental game -- something wonderful happens and you definitely "turned it on" with my girls.

The mom went on to explain how their girls stood up in the middle of the restaurant and demonstrated what they learned during the hitting portion and how they related to the discussions on positive self talk and reaching your potential. Lastly, she thanked us for the priceless hours spent with them and for sharing our time and talents with her girls.

I've worked the holiday camp in the past, so I knew going into it that it's a rewarding but exhausting two days. And to be honest, waking up at 5:15am on December 27th and leaving my family Christmas to go work a softball clinic, wasn't the most ideal of situations. But it's emails and kind words like this that make everything all worth it to me once again, and even make me think about a coaching career.

Every Blugold player will tell you that once we have completed the last clinic of the year in the spring, we each do our own little happy dance (and I'd bet money that Coach and Robin do one too). But when you get kids like these two girls (and several others at the holiday camp) that truly want to learn and want to make a connection with us players, you can't help but smile and LOVE the fact that you got to opportunity to influence players who might just be in your shoes in a couple years.

And it wasn't just these two girls who enjoyed their time. I had the PRIVILEGE of running (no pun intended) the conditioning station of clinic. It was so great to see all the girls push themselves physically and more importantly, mentally, and actually having fun facing the challenges that I gave them. I also go to run the "player question and answer" session with Ashley Meinen and if I learned one thing, it was NOT hard at all for us to brag about our program and what a privilege we have here at UWEC.

I emphasized the word privilege because it's a word we use a lot on our team and we relayed that word and its relevance at the clinic. Playing softball, no matter at what age or at what level is a privilege, not a right and we all need to remember that each time we pick up the bat and ball. I hope I got that message across when I was answering questions from the girls because it is honestly such a privilege playing for my coaches and along side my teammates each and every day. And even more so, it is a privilege to be able to inspire young softball players like the two girls mentioned above and pass on the love I have for this incredible game. It warms my heart knowing that my dedication to the game influences those around me and makes them better softball players and hopefully, better people. And, it's even more special that they were willing to share their experiences with us and let us know that they appreciated our time that we spend with them.

Since it is the season of giving, hearing those words was really one of the best gifts I received this year and it's thoughtful things like this that I usually take for granted. There are so many times where I am very thankful and appreciative of people and what they have done for me, but I often don't take the time to tell them. And, after having spent part of my Christmas break at a wake and funeral, you never know how much time is left for you to say the things that you should. So thanks to the two girls, and the mother above, I have made part of my new years resolution to do a better job of telling the people in my life how much they mean to me, and doing it more often. It's such a great feeling when it happens to me and I need to continue to pass on that gift to others.

Until Next Time,

Em #20


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Finish Better

Fall semester is just blinks away from ending.  4 more days of studying. 3 more finals. 2 more trips down the hill. 1 more week until home for the Holidays.  A break that I definitely need going into the spring--softball season.

We'll all finish up our tests, give Coach and Robin our Christmas hugs and goodbyes, and spread throughout the Midwest.  Then it's officially Winter Break -- a time for us Blugolds to rest up, finish out our off-season workouts, and re-focus on the season to come.

With Winter Break comes Christmas, one of my favorite times of year.  I cannot begin to explain to you insanity at our teams' Holiday parties.  Such obnoxious Christmas sweaters.  So many tasty treats.  Both classic and abstract  Gingerbread houses.  White elephant presents ranging from band-aids to grade school portraits to books on marital advice.  So many laughs with this team. Spending time with them is always makes my day and makes the Holidays that much more enjoyable.

With each year, especially during the Holidays, I think I learn more and more.  Us Blugolds decided not to exchange nice gifts amongst teammates again this year.  We all pitched in a little cash to purchase gifts for a local family in need instead.  It reminds me how easy it is to get caught up in the chaos of Christmas.  I forget what it means to have a truly giving heart.  For most of us, it didn't take much to dish out some money to spend on this family.  I know for myself, throughout the year, I don't hesitate much to spend money on myself for new clothes or softball equipment.  I forget the privileges I have.  I question sometimes why it is that I hesitate to give those kinds of resources to others more often.  We did not get to see this family open their gifts, but I can only imagine the joy they must have felt. And man - just picturing that brings me real Christmas joy.

With each year, I think I learn more and more about what it means to lose self.  It means setting aside what I want for myself to serve a greater purpose.

What has that looked like for me in life this Christmas?  It means...
  • Returning the nice sweater I willingly bought myself that I didn't need and donating that money elsewhere.
  • Turning off my computer for a bit to make a few extra Christmas cards.
  • Writing notes and making gifts rather than spending lots on pricey items.
  • Finding ways to serve those close to me and those in the community.
With another serious knee injury for me, it also means...
  • Sitting in the duggout and cheering on my teammates this season.
  • Setting aside my original goals to help my teammates achieve theirs.
  • Committing fully and beyond to my post-surgery rehab to prepare for spring 2013.
But most importantly, it means...
  • Remembering I am 1 of 20 Blugolds, and how lucky I am to get to say that.
  • Accepting the complications and confusions in life. 
  • Knowing there's a greater plan than the one I've created for myself.
  • Realizing that I am blessed with teammates, coaches, family, and friends that care about me.
With each year, I think I learn more and more what it means to finish well.  As Blugolds, we strive to finish well each semester in school.  We strive to finish well with our off-season workouts, ready for spring to come.  We strive to reach our goals and finish each season well.  We strive to finish each day well.  We want to reflect on each year and be able to say we did our best.

As I continue to process what it means to lose self, I wonder if I'll be able to reflect this semester, this year, and this upcoming season, and not say, "I finished well," but rather say, "I finished better."

- Karen Hansen, #22

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Baby, it's cold outside.

Well, my cheeks are starting to get pink and numb as I walk across campus. Which means it's almost winter...almost Christmas...almost Winter Break...almost SOFTBALL SEASON.

We hope that all our Blugold fans had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  We are thankful for you and your contributions and support!

(109 days until Spring Break!)

- Karen Hansen, #22