Courtesy: Tim Fitzgerald/CMU Athletics
"Karly's Korner" by Karly Hansen

Karly’s Korner #7: Spring Break wrap-up

T. S. Eliot wrote that April is the cruelest month, but with the Michigan winter (and all the recent bracket-busting madness) I’d like to make an argument for March. Not to mention the horror of your professors deciding to pop midterm exams on you AFTER you’ve returned from Spring Break (I’m lookin at you, Education Program cohorts).

But, fear not! Your Chips have been hard at work trying to ensure that Margo Jonker Stadium will be clear by game time next week. Along with the tireless grounds crew, we’ve been viciously attacking the remaining piles of ice and snow. 

Frozen superfans Lauren Bowman and Raechel Zahrn confirm it was like a scene out of the Disney movie.

But allow me to use the power of language to take you back a week in time. Over Spring Break the Chippewas were in sunny Clearwater, Florida, enjoying sun, sand, and softball games in which you can feel your fingers. The team came out strong in the opening weekend, going 5-0 with wins over Providence, Fordham, Chattanooga, Seton Hall, and Villanova. Our final record for Spring Break was 9-3 despite some new and nagging injuries. As always, check out our official website for full results and stats.

As you’d imagine, Spring Break as a student-athlete doesn’t look quite like that of a typical college student. We stay in apartment-style hotel rooms with our teammates, and spend the majority of the trip at the ballfields. Our program is lucky to have lots of parents and friends that travel down to watch us play, and there is some off time for visiting and relaxing. This year various Chippewas went to Spring Training games, rented boats, visited the zoo, went parasailing, shopped, toured Walt Disney World, ate their weight in seafood, and Junior CarolAnn Sexauer finally fulfilled her dream of seeing an alligator in the wild!

Reminder: Home games are right around the corner; don’t let our ice chipping be in vain! Come out and support your Chips this season!

This week’s quote: “You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.” - Pablo Neruda

P.S. Our athletic trainer Hayley has asked for a shout-out in my blog. I try not to take requests, but Hayley truly does deserve recognition for managing all the injuries on our team this season. She and I also both went swimming with manatees, and if she had not yelled at me (repeatedly) from the boat I fear I would still be in the water with the sea cows. So thanks, Hayley!


Karly’s Korner #6: Games On!

Originally, my plan was to write this issue of Karly’s Korner on the bus. I thought it would be fitting, since we started traveling this past weekend, to have a blog post published from the bus. However (like most of my plans for bus rides) my to-do list got pushed aside, so I could watch movies, play cards, read books, laugh with Kristen Kuhlman, take naps, send obnoxious pictures of Benedict Cumberbatch to the freshmen and try to beat Chelsea DeLamielleure’s Flappy Bird score.

What’s that quote about best laid plans?

Anyway, for our sport, this is one of the most exciting times of the year. Season is finally here! We got back from winter break and had to hit the ground running. Our first weekend back we held our annual winter pitching and skills clinics (with a brand new format!), which were lots of fun. The second weekend back, we held our indoor team camp. For that camp, we, the current Chippewas, get to see how tough coaching actually is when we take over coaching a team for the day. Interacting with the campers is always worth it, though. They make the weekend great! Also, big heartfelt thanks to all the parents and volunteers we had help with those two weekends. It takes a lot of people to make things run smoothly, so THANK YOU!

Over this last weekend, your Chips were in Chicago for the indoor Rosemont Rumble tournament. Our trip began with a Team USA apparel contest to see who could show the most support for America’s Olympic athletes. I think it’s safe to say Coach Jonker won, hands down, and her victory parade through Arby’s was well deserved. All the bus silliness aside (and, seriously, Coach Bracamonte’s snack bag was bigger than my suitcase), we opened the season 3-1. Not too shabby! For our complete schedule and more details, check out the official website. I counted the other day, and we are only in the state of Michigan for 16 days in the month of February, so there is lots more softball action to come! Next week we are in Arlington, Texas, for the UTA Maverick Invitational, and then we head to Louisville, Kentucky for the Cardinal Classic.

Reminder: next Friday is Valentine’s Day! For those of you who aren’t cynical or jaded about the holiday, I hope you have a good one! Mrs. Knapp was kind enough to bring us delicious cupcakes over the weekend, so everyone take her example and spread some love. I’ve got my locker room surprises ready (yes, I still hand out valentines!) and the CMU softball team, as is tradition, will deliver Valentine’s Day care packages to residents through the Isabella County Commission on Aging. And I have to say happy anniversary to my parents, who decided to be a living cliché and get married on February 14th (good one, guys!)

That’s about all for me this time - get ready for more Chippewas softball soon! And don’t forget our home opener on Friday, March 28th. We only have two home weekends this season, so we need to see everyone at the games!

This week’s quote: “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” - Oprah Winfrey
(yes, I just Googled “quotes about buses”)

P.S. I am so proud of all of my teammates for how well they played this weekend, but Trista Cox deserves special recognition for her mental toughness when faced with her third slice of Chicago-style deep dish pizza. I still have no idea how she did it.


Karly’s Korner #5: Winter Break

2014 Resolutions for Karly’s Korner:

- Get more input and features from my teammates (the more voices the merrier!)

- Include more clever ways to test my compliance editor Elise (just kidding!)

- Get more likes on Facebook from people who aren’t related to me

- Vary punctuation (stop using parentheses so much)

- Pictures?

- WRITE AND PUBLISH FASTER!

Happy New Year, Chippewa family!

It’s time to get back to campus and start our season! 2013 was a pretty good year for our team *flashes MAC ring* and now it’s time to focus on this year’s goals. But first: what have we been up to for the past month? Last time on Karly’s Korner, I was wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and we were all preparing to buckle down for finals. Honestly, I remember that week as a blur of caffeine and hand cramps from writing essays, but we must have survived because our team came away with a fall GPA of 3.479. Good work, Chips!

Winter Break is a time for us to unwind and relax with our families. CMU is awesome enough to give us a full four weeks off, and Coach Jonker is kind enough to host a party for the team before we all scatter back to our hometowns. It always features great snacks, Delicious Punch™ and desserts. After finals, we head home to celebrate the season with friends and family. For me, that means Christmas Eve mass, family pictures, rowdy storytelling, cousin card games, and blowing all my Christmas money on books (grand total: 12). I’m sure each of my teammates has her own special activities and traditions that take place over break as well.

However, break isn’t just about eating cookies and catching up on sleep (or, in my case, Netflix TV shows). There is also work to be done to prepare for the upcoming season. Our strength and conditioning coach, Taylor, sends us home with a full workout plan which he also modifies based on what equipment we have available. I am lucky enough to live within travel distance of the IAC (except when we get monster snowstorms that block my driveway!) so I can use CMU facilities over break. Some of my teammates work out at their high school or local gyms. Rumor has it that we are going to test our max numbers again before season, so training over break is essential. I know everyone put the work in, but I’ve got to give a special shoutout to my fellow local girls Morgan Yuncker and Brittney Horan for getting together to hit live. It was a big help! I’d also like to recognize that we had multiple girls rehabbing injuries over break, so kudos for your dedication to getting healthy!

I hope everyone has had a great time off, but I know I’m not the only one ready to get back. I can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store for our team. Be sure to check out our busy schedule as well as updates on the official website. We also have our winter indoor clinics and team camps coming up after break too, which I’m sure I’ll feature in a future post!

Stay warm!

This week’s quote: Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work.” - Booker T. Washington


Karly’s Korner #4: Becoming a Chippewa

Personally, I have no idea where this semester went! It seems like just yesterday we were buying textbooks and starting fall practice. Now Thanksgiving break is just around the corner and I have to start planning my final exam study schedule (ugh!). But while the semester is coming to an end for current students, the journey is just beginning for the newest Chippewas. On November 14th, the CMU softball team officially welcomed five new recruits for next year’s team. I’d like to give a warm welcome to Taylor Weaver, Hanna Warren, Lacy Tolfree, Maison Kalina, and Sara Hansen (no relation.)* For more information, check out their bios here.

These incoming recruits got us to thinking about what it means to become a Chippewa. As a local, I spent a long time agonizing over whether or not I actually wanted to go to the college that was in my hometown. But then I came on my official visit with the softball team and was amazed by how much of CMU’s campus I had never seen (like that abstract mosquito statue by the Engineering and Technology building?!). Even for townies like me, the campus itself has a unique atmosphere of its own. That’s when I knew that I had definitely made the right choice. But don’t just take my word for it! Here’s what some of my teammates had to say:

"My official visit was a great experience! I was able to meet the team and watch Bridesmaids for the first time. I realized the team was not only a team, but also a family that I was excited to be a part of."
- Michelle Dornan, Redshirt Freshman

"My mom dragged me on an unofficial visit here the summer before my senior year. I literally screamed and yelled that I didn’t want to go. She told me 'Shut up and give it a try.' After walking around campus with Molly Coldren and Brogan Darwin, my mom and I both got back in the car and started crying simply from the fact we loved it so much. From then on, I knew I was supposed to be a Chip. And it's all thanks to my mother. Now when I don't want to do something, I think 'shut up and give it a try!'"
- Evie Lorimer, Sophomore

"For me, becoming a Chippewa changed my life. Transferring here after my freshman year and not knowing what to expect was terrifying, but CMU easily became a second home for me because of the atmosphere here, specifically that of the softball team. The CMU athletic department is an outstanding extended family and I couldn't feel more blessed to be a part of it all."
- Trista Cox, Junior

Coming to college is different for everybody and so is transitioning to collegiate athletics. But, from my biased point of view, I’d say the extended CMU family makes that transition much easier. To next year’s new Chippewas: enjoy your senior year and we can’t wait to see you on campus in the fall! To current Chippewas: stop reading this blog and get to studying! Finals are only two weeks away!

*P.S. I’m just kidding, Sara is my kid sister and I can’t wait to play with her and the rest of this amazing incoming class!

This week’s quote: “The secret to a rich life is to have more beginnings than endings.” - Dave Weinbaum


Karly’s Korner #3: Community Service Week

Before I properly begin this entry, I’d like to take a moment to personally say thanks for all the positive feedback this blog has gotten! We English majors love to write, but it isn’t always easy sharing that writing with others (and, if any of my professors are reading this, I’m sorry about all the inevitable comma errors!). It means a lot to me that people seem to be enjoying Karly’s Korner, so THANK YOU!

Our softball team also said thank you to the Mount Pleasant community last week (October 21-26th) with our Community Service Week. Our players and coaches worked shifts at the Isabella County Soup Kitchen, the local Humane Animal Treatment Society (HATS) shelter and did projects with the Isabella County Commission on Aging and the Angel Wings Fund. Here’s some more details:

HATS: Throughout the week, teammates went in small groups to the animal shelter (which, as freshmen Rachael Knapp and Danielle Marlink discovered, is actually across town from campus!) to perform a small volunteer task and then either walk dogs or play with the shelter’s cats. I had to endure a Cleaning Task Which Shall Not Be Detailed but afterwards I got to joyously play with a bunch of black cats (#CrazyCatLady). I know the dog lovers on the team also had a great time playing with some new four-legged friends! And, FYI, November is the shelter’s “Back in Black” adoption special, so every Friday in November you get $10 off the adoption price of any black animal. Check it out if you’re in the market for a new pet!

Commission on Aging: Our team did two projects with the Isabella County Commission on Aging. A few girls helped decorate boxes for a Let’s Make a Deal game (check out our Facebook page for pictures!) and a few of us helped with a craft (we made adorable pumpkins out of fabric and rolls of toilet paper -- Google it!)

Isabella County Soup Kitchen: Our team worked two early Friday morning shifts (no sleeping in for student-athletes!) and had a great time helping at the Soup Kitchen. If you’re interested in donating or volunteering as well, check out http://www.icsk.org/.

Knock Cancer Out of the Park Home Run Derby: To round off our Service Week, a few of us made appearances (in my case, very brief appearances) in the home run derby to benefit the Angel Wings Fund of Mount Pleasant. Redshirt freshman Michelle Dornan blasted some bombs to help our team, and (yes, we brought in a ringer) junior baseball player Pat MacKenzie really helped us out too!

Again, be sure to check out our CMU Softball Facebook page for all the pictures from Service Week. I’d also like to give a big shoutout to senior Morgan Yuncker for organizing the events of the week and for compiling the information I needed to blog about it! Thanks, Morgan!

Thanks again to everyone for reading, and to my fellow students: stay warm and do your schoolwork! Final exams are only five weeks away! Yikes!

This week’s quote: “Service to a just cause rewards the worker with more real happiness and satisfaction than any other venture of life.” - Carrie Chapman Catt


Karly’s Korner #2: Fall Games & Team Bonding

Fun fact: Did you know softball used to be called “pumpkin ball”? (Okay, technically the sport has had many alternative names but that one seemed fitting for the beginning of October - you see what I did there?)

On an unrelated note, I was reading an article for a class the other day that has inspired the topic of this Korner. The author’s main point in the article was that the happiest families (as far as communication and cooperation go) are the ones which share a strong narrative. Basically, sharing stories and traditions allowed family members to develop clearer senses of identity and better cope with challenges. Scientific data aside, this general idea directly applies within softball teams (and, I would assume most athletic programs). Thus, today’s topic: team bonding!

For many student-athletes, the team becomes a second family when away from home. Teammates and coaches are more than just friends; they become support systems. I won’t assume that is true for everyone, but it certainly is true of the softball teams I have played with here at CMU. We have a strong sense of program tradition (check out the name of our stadium if you’re looking for the source of that legacy!) and our alumni, community members, and fans always have a direct impact on the current team with their involvement.

One of the biggest team bonding experiences we have every year is playing in an annual fall tournament in gorgeous Traverse City. We go semi-rustic at Lake Ann Camp for the weekend, staying in cabins and making s’mores at bonfires in the evenings. There are lots of stories, games, and singing. Last year there was a memorable (terrifying?) “trust fall” experience. This year there were ghost stories, tears, and, my personal favorite, freshman Dani Marlink hitting the high note in The Little Mermaid’s “Part of Your World.”

While lots of the warm fuzzy moments happen off the field, one of the best ways to bond as a team is to play as a team. We are lucky that we get to play fall games during our offseason and this year we played eight of them. In case you missed them, here’s a brief recap:
- Beat Northwood at home and senior Brittney Horan had three hits!
- Beat Grand Valley State in both games at home with multiple homeruns and two shutouts from the pitching staff!
- Traverse City Tournament: (5 inning games) Lost to Michigan, tied, beat Western Michigan, 2-0.

- Traverse City Tournament: (7 inning games) Beat Oakland, lost to Michigan.

Well, that about does it for this time! Expect more in the future about our upcoming October volunteering projects and our winter camps and clinics. To all my fellow students: best of luck on midterms!

This week’s quote: "Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success." 
- Henry Ford


Karly's Korner #1: Welcome back to campus!

Hey, Chippewas!

It’s the time of year again: packing up the car, saying goodbyes to hometown family and friends, and heading back to lovely Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. Whether CMU is states away or (in my case) just a few minutes down the road, transitioning from the freedom of summer back to a hectic academic schedule can be tricky. This semester I’ve been asked to write a few entries for our CMU Softball website about campus life and what it’s like to be a student-athlete. I thought for this first one, just to kick things off, I’d make a list of a few handy back-to-school tips. Whether you’re an energetic incoming freshman or a wizened old senior like me, this list should have some helpful reminders for everyone.

Back to School at CMU: 10 Campus Tips

1. Learn the abbreviations – Students on this campus toss around abbreviations all the time: SAC, IAC, SBX, UC, HP, EHS, etc. (and my personal favorite: ‘MP’ being short for Mt. Pleasant). It doesn’t take too long to catch on.

2. Prep for all weather – This is Mid-Michigan! Rain boots are a recognized fashion accessory here. Pack extra sweatshirts and umbrellas, because I guarantee the weather won’t stay the same throughout an entire day.

3. Invest in a good backpack – I often talk to people who assume college students don’t use backpacks. That is certainly not the case! You’ll want something sturdy to keep your books and schoolwork safe through the long winters.

4. Use the library – CMU’s Park Library is amazing (yes, I’m an English major and a little biased, but really it is amazing). Look into taking advantage of everything the library can do for you, especially with the Writing Center and the Documents on Demand program. However, the printing system in the library can be confusing sometimes so don’t be afraid to have a librarian help you set up your account.

5. Get to know your professors – Go to office hours. Go to office hours. GO TO OFFICE HOURS. Student-athletes especially need to establish good relationships with our professors because we need their help when missing classes and staying on top of homework. Professors set office hours (or schedule appointments) to meet and help their students. It would be crazy not to take advantage of this! You don’t have to pester them every week or become their new best friend, but get to know them (some of them may be surprisingly interesting people!)

6. That weird building name is Anspach. It rhymes with ‘coleslaw.’ Say it with me: “AN-SPAW.”

7. If you’re driving on campus, BEWARE LOT 22. I know some of the other commuter lots get pretty busy, but Lot 22 (it runs parallel to Anspach and Pearce, down Washington Street) is typically a nightmare between midday classes. Add an extra 15 minutes to your travel time whenever you know you’ll have to park there.

8. Know your food options on campus – If you have a meal plan and flex dollars figure out how you’ll best use those programs to your advantage (I always obsessively budgeted my flex dollars, but that was a bit ridiculous). If you’re off campus or without a meal plan, figure out if and when you’re going to eat on campus at all. Will you bring snacks or meals in your backpack or eat at a campus restaurant? Will you make coffee in the morning or grab Starbucks at the UC? They’ve added lots of new options (food carts, expanded cafeterias) on campus lately, so if you do want to buy something you have plenty of choices.

9. Get involved – You don’t necessarily have to join a student club or organization (though it’s cool if you do) to get involved on campus. Especially within the first couple weeks there will be all sorts of activities going on. Go explore before all the homework really kicks in!

10. Stop and smell the roses – The early weeks of school can be insanely stressful and busy (SO MANY MEETINGS). Remember to take time to enjoy the autumn weather and the college atmosphere. I also recommend walking through buildings you may not have classes in. It helps you get to know the school better and see what other students are doing.

I hope that list was a least somewhat helpful for everyone! I’ll be writing more of these entries over the coming weeks with more info on softball specifically.

This week’s quote: “A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad.” - Theodore Roosevelt


 

 

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