Wilhite's Japanese Phrase of the Day

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As the Gopher Volleyball program prepares for its March trip to Japan, members of the team are brushing up on their Japanese. This week's edition is outside hitter, Sarah Wilhite.

Kon Nichiwa!

McCutcheon On FIVB Commission

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University of Minnesota volleyball head coach Hugh McCutcheon is not only busy with the Gopher program, but continues to make his mark on the international game as well.

McCutcheon traveled to Lausanne, Switzerland, serving his third year of a four-year term on the FIVB Coaching Commission. As a part of their annual meetings, FIVB gathers together 11 groups, which was held the first week of February. (McCutcheon featured in the left back row).

As the secretary of the coaching commission, McCutcheon is the only United States coach represented on 13-person panel. Nominated by USA Volleyball and NORECA, McCutcheon represents USA Volleyball, while other individuals and zones travel yearly from Russia, Brazil, Poland, Japan and France, to name a few. The coaching commission discusses modifications and improvements to the international game.

McCutcheon came to Minnesota after an illustrious 11-year career with USA Volleyball as he earned two medals with the United States Men's and Women's Olympic teams. McCutcheon mentored the U.S. Women's National Volleyball Team to a 106-39 record in his four years after leading the U.S. Men's National Volleyball Team program to the 2008 Olympic Games gold medal. Counting his 107-33 record leading the U.S. Men's program from 2005 to 2008, McCutcheon held a combined record of 213-72 with USA Volleyball.

Gopher volleyball will report for the spring season in March as they prepare for an invited trip to Japan, March 14-22. The Gophers are set to compete against Japan's University Games roster and train in Japan's National Training Center. The Gopher program is the only United States team in any sport to train at this facility. 

Boyd's Hat Trick Makes NCAA's Top Plays

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MINNEAPOLIS (GopherSports.com) -- Travis Boyd's Tuesday just keeps getting better and better. 

The Gopher Hockey senior forward started the day by being named the Big Ten First Star of the Week and the NCAA's Third Star of the Week, and now his first career hat trick has been named the NCAA's No. 4 Play of the Week. 

The Hopkins, Minn., native leads the NCAA in shooting percentage at .325, and it's easy to see why when he scored three goals on three shots in Saturday's 6-2 win over Ohio State. 

Check out the performance here.

Gopher Volleyball Sends Nine to USA Tryouts

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USA Volleyball Tryout Homepage

The University of Minnesota will be well represented as nine student-athletes head to Colorado Springs, Colo., to compete at the USA Women's National Team Open Tryout, Feb. 20-22. Held at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (OTC), the Gopher contingent consists of Maddie Beal, Alyssa Goehner, Erica Handley, Molly Lohman, Katie Schau, Samantha Seliger Swenson, Hannah Tapp, Paige Tapp, and Sarah Wilhite.

The tryouts begin on Friday, Feb. 20 until 11 a.m., Sunday, Feb. 22. The process will be used primarily to identify prospective athletes for the U.S. Women's National Volleyball Team. Athletes not invited to participate with the National Team may be invited to attend a second tryout as part of the U.S. Collegiate National Teams program (formerly U.S. Women's Senior A2 Teams).

USA Volleyball will have one U.S. Collegiate National Team of 12 athletes and two coaches travel to the World University Games in Gwangju, South Korea, June 28-July 14,

The second option for the selected U.S. Collegiate National Team is a 12-team, two-coach group that will travel to China for a series of training sessions and matches, June 12-26. The third option is training and participation at the 2015 USA Volleyball Girls' Junior National Championships (GJNC) held in New Orleans. A projected 36 athletes will be invited to participate in the program with training beginning on June 21-30, followed by the competition portion June 26-29. U.S. Collegiate National Teams will compete against each other while serving as inspiration for junior athletes competing in the GJNC on what the next level of competition is like in college.

Good luck to all Gopher participants!


Gopher Men's Hockey Aides St. Paul Police and Sanneh Foundation

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As the Gopher men's hockey team prepared for this upcoming weekend's battle with Ohio State, two members of the program took time to help the Sanneh Foundation and a group of the St. Paul Police Officers and their Police Activity League.

Seth Ambroz and Christian Isackson, along with six members of the St. Paul police held a skating and skills clinic at the Battle Creek Recreation Center. Wednesday's Under 12 free clinic kicked off the first of four upcoming events. The purpose of the clinics: to get more kids involved in the sport and outdoor recreation.

Recently KMSP-TV caught up with the group, check out their full feature here.


Gopher Softball Opening Day Roundup

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Gopher SB.jpeg
The 2015 Minnesota softball season is close to getting underway! The Gophers take on No. 11/13 Washington at 3:30 p.m. CT today in the Sportco Kick Off Classic in Las Vegas. Here is some reading material to get you ready for the season:

All the info you need on the Sportco Kick Off Classic (GopherSports.com)

Jessica Allister's first recruiting class is entering its senior year (GopherSports.com)

The Gophers enter 2015 with high expectations (Minnesota Daily)

Taylor LeMay checks in before the season (Gopher Sports Update)

What to look for from a conference perspective (BigTen.org)

Every player has her own story (GopherSports.com)

"We know what it takes to perform at the highest level" (Minnesota Fastpitch News)

Quick Update from the Strib (Star Tribune)

Japanese Phrase of the Day-Hannah Tapp

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As the Gophers prepare for their trip to Japan, March 14-22, Gopher Volleyball is brushing up on their Japanese. In the first of an upcoming series, check out what Hannah Tapp's phrase is as well as what she's most looking forward to!   

The 2015 Minnesota Softball season is approaching. The Gophers are coming off their best season in program history, a season that included the school's first Big Ten Tournament title since 1999 and its first-ever NCAA super regional appearance. This year's team will look to build on last year's success. The 42nd Gopher softball team will feature 22 student-athletes and each one has her own story. As the team's Feb. 6 opener against Washington gets closer, each player will look back on her journey to wearing the Maroon and Gold.

Coach Allister on No. 2, Dani Wagner: "Dani is a great athlete with speed, power and a tremendous arm. Dani has the potential to be a big time infielder at this level."
The first thing everyone should know is I grew up in Hayfield, Minnesota. No, it is not a field of hay, but a small town of about 1,300 people between Rochester and Austin, Minnesota. As one would assume, exposure wasn't easy to come by in a small, never-been-heard-of town, nor was competitive travel ball, dome ball, or out-of-season ball.

Another small town teammate of mine told me about the Mankato Peppers, a notable traveling softball program, and convinced me to come to tryouts with her. At first, I doubted my ability to play on such a successful team, but decided to give it a whirl anyway. Not only was I one of the players chosen for the team, but, as a 15 year-old, I also earned the starting shortstop position and was the leadoff batter for the 18U squad.

After two years of playing with successful and exceptional teammates and being coached by two distinguished coaches, Dan Nessler and Jerry Maschka, Dan approached me wondering if I was interested in playing softball in college. Little did I know he was thinking the Division I level. When I told him I was very interested, he and Jerry contacted the University of Minnesota coaches as well as other Division I coaches out of state. But I knew I wanted to stay close to home, so my family could experience everything with me.

I talked to the University of Minnesota coaches, who convinced me to come on an unofficial visit. Being from a small town that I loved, I was very skeptical about going to college in a big city.

The atmosphere at the university was captivating to say the least. The visit made me realize great things had, were and would be happening on the field and in the classroom and it made me yearn to be a part of it. A little voice of doubt kept creeping back into my head, holding me back from going with my gut feeling to commit on the spot.

In the months after my visit, I occasionally talked to the coaches. What I was most concerned about at the time was enjoying my junior year; I didn't even want to think about choosing a college. That's where my nagging mother came in. At the time, I just wanted to ignore her constant questions about college. "Have you decided yet? Is the U out of the running? Do you want to go on another visit? Have you talked to the coaches lately? What did they say?" I didn't want to admit it, but she was right. I needed to make a decision, but when summer rolled around, I had still made no headway.

Finally, nearing the end of travel ball for the summer, I noticed Coach Merchant at one of our tournaments. By no means was this tournament close to home, so it made me realize they had a genuine interest. She may not have come specifically for me, but it meant the world to be thought of in that regard: Divison I material.

Afterwards, I was contacted more frequently by the Golden Gopher coaches. A phone call. A completely normal, everyday, common act. Head Softball Coach Jessica Allister of the Golden Gophers calling me in the middle of Hayfield's annual wiffle ball tournament! Just to chat! To me, it showed she truly cared and took precious time out of her day just for me. Again, I felt those butterflies in my stomach, yet could not say one of the simplest words: yes.

Many girls describe their mother as their best friends. Mine is my best friend and more. As a daughter, a student and a softball player, I respect my mother. Ever since seventh grade, she has been my softball coach. Before even then, she, along with my father, taught me how to swing a bat, throw a ball and run the bases the right way. We have experienced my whole softball career together; the ups, downs, the in-betweens. To say the least, I value her opinion immensely.

When I told her about the phone call from Coach Allister, she could tell it had affected me. She just had to nudge me in the right direction. She told me how proud she was of the athlete and person I had become and how much she believed in me to take it to the next level. Something any mom would say to her daughter, but she wholeheartedly believed it.

She helped build my confidence, and when Coach Allister called a few days later, I was all too anxious to get past the pleasantries and commit to becoming a Golden Gopher softball player.

Since then, I've become more accustomed to living in the big city and navigating campus. I am blessed with very knowledgeable, caring coaches and teammates. They have taught me the importance of being confident and working hard on and off the field. I have also learned a great deal about softball since I arrived and continue to work on skills that are new to me. There was so much excitement surrounding the fall games, so I cannot begin to imagine what the season is about to bring. I am most looking forward to traveling with the team because the journey will be unforgettable! I have also never flown on a plane, so many new adventures are still ahead!

It's about to get excitingly busy in the lives of the Golden Gopher Softball players. We are built on hard work, confidence and trust in one another. Stay tuned to see what the Golden Gophers will do!

The 2015 Minnesota Softball season is approaching. The Gophers are coming off their best season in program history, a season that included the school's first Big Ten Tournament title since 1999 and its first-ever NCAA super regional appearance. This year's team will look to build on last year's success. The 42nd Gopher softball team will feature 22 student-athletes and each one has her own story. As the team's Feb. 6 opener against Washington gets closer, each player will look back on her journey to wearing the Maroon and Gold.

Coach Allister on No. 3, Erica Meyer: Quote coming soon!
Growing up, I always said I would never end up at the University of Minnesota. I thought I was going to go to school out of state, miles away from home. But here I am, lucky it did not turn out the way I planned.

I got recruited by the coaches the summer before my senior year of high school, shortly after they got hired. When I went on my official visit that fall, I fell in love with their mission to turn the program around. However, I was so uncomfortable with a weekend away from home that I left the visit early and left the coaches unconvinced that I would commit.

When my freshman year began, I still wasn't ready for the transition. I spent almost every weekend at home, leaving Granger behind to navigate dorm life by herself. It's a running joke that the girls in my class don't have any memories of me from our freshman year, but we all know they aren't kidding.

Sometime between then and now, I decided I would like to make some memories. Now, I rarely go home and when I do, it's just for a meal and I bring Hannah with me.

Obviously, the excitement I had as I touched home plate when we won the Big Ten Championship will always be one of my favorite memories. But I will never forget the early morning lifts, 20-hour practice weeks, and long bus rides we put in to get there.

These girls are my best friends and I could not be more thankful that I get to play one more season with them. As we get closer and closer to the start, I can feel that we are ready. Ready to not only do it again, but go farther than last year.

Stay tuned...the 2015 season starts in three days.

The 2015 Minnesota Softball season is approaching. The Gophers are coming off their best season in program history, a season that included the school's first Big Ten Tournament title since 1999 and its first-ever NCAA super regional appearance. This year's team will look to build on last year's success. The 42nd Gopher softball team will feature 22 student-athletes and each one has her own story. As the team's Feb. 6 opener against Washington gets closer, each player will look back on her journey to wearing the Maroon and Gold.

Coach Allister on No. 4, Brandi McGregor: "Brandi is a right-handed hitter with the ability to hit for a lot of power. She is coming off of a medical red shirt year and is working hard to get back defensively."
Growing up, I have always been the small girl that everyone overlooked. I was told that I would never be able to play at the Division I level because of my size. I attended camp after camp being told the same thing: "You're too small." This made me work even harder to try and be better than those that were bigger than me.

As I began to lift weights and work on my skills as a player, I noticed vast improvements with my game. I became faster and started hitting the ball further, which eventually caught the attention of Coach Merchant when my team and I were playing in Chicago. I began to think that I finally caught a break after being told all my life that I would never play softball at the Division I level.

I was invited on an official visit my senior year of high school and was still not committed at the time. As I stepped foot on campus, I instantly fell in love and knew this is where I wanted to spend the next four years for my college career. It was everything I wanted in a school: gorgeous campus, great academics, and a family oriented team. I can still remember the coaches talking about their vision for the program and its future. I was immediately hooked and knew I could not wait to come in the next year as a Gopher.

Stepping foot on campus as a freshman was very nerve wracking for me. I have always been very shy and quiet, so I was nervous about how I would get along with the team. Because I am so introverted, it took me a while to open up to the team, but they definitely welcomed me with open arms. Once I saw that Smitty and I are both half Japanese, I felt as if we instantly connected and that I could rely on her.

Last year was definitely one for the books. Unfortunately, I tore my labrum and was not able to participate with the team like I would have hoped, but I couldn't be any prouder of what the team accomplished. We worked all season long and became Big Ten Champs! As we continued to build off winning the Big Ten Championship, we were able to host regionals and to go to supers to face Oregon, which was a huge success for our program!

As the 2015 season approaches, I cannot express how I excited I am for this team. We have worked extremely hard this fall and winter and I cannot wait to see all of it pay off. We already have had many successes within this past year, but we definitely want to go above and beyond what we accomplished last year!