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. 24, Hannah Melick: "Hannah has the ability to be a strong contributor in the middle of our line-up. She is a right handed hitter who has tremendous power to all fields. We are looking for Hannah to elevate her offensive game this spring."
My journey to the University of Minnesota is one quite unconventional compared to others. Coach Allister first recruited me in my sophomore and junior years of high school while she coached at the University of Oregon. When she left there, I was disappointed that I would never get to play under her. While I was in the transferring process after my sophomore year, I immediately got in contact with Coach Allister. I believed this was my second chance to play under another great coach and for a program on the rise.

I came on a quick, two-day visit one weekend that summer. The campus was beautiful and a lot bigger than what I had been used to. The few girls that were still on campus were incredibly nice and welcoming. Plus, Erika Smyth, a Washington native who I had formerly played travel ball with, said that there was no better place to be.

I was in Florida with my sister the week before my visit and being from Washington, the normal summer temperature is around 70 degrees. That day, it was around 70 there and the girls that came with me on my tour were dying from the heat.

I thought they were crazy and over exaggerating, but I didn't really understand why until I spent last winter here. When the temperature finally got up into 40s people started running around campus in shorts like it was summertime and I couldn't believe it. I would send pictures to my mom all bundled up in layers to the point where you could barely see my face walking to class in negative temperatures. She bought me a heater blanket that year for Christmas.

The moment I stepped foot on campus at the start of my junior year sort of felt like freshman year all over again. It was a brand new campus with a whole new team and a new apartment with three teammates whom I had never met before, but Coach Allister said not to worry, that they are awesome and that I shouldn't be absolutely terrified of them like I was.

We started practice that week and I knew these girls would be my new family. They immediately took me in like I had been on the team forever. Practicing at first base with Smitty at second at first felt just like travel ball, so the transition to practice was incredibly easy and fun. The whole team does a lot together throughout the fall semester. We hang out just about every weekend, going to football games, shopping, studying and volunteering. Anything I have ever done on campus I have done with another teammate.

Last year's season was a special one, no doubt about it. Winning the Big Ten Championship was just icing on the cake for an already-special year. I had never been so genuinely happy to win a game in my entire life. That moment right there was the reason I have played softball for my entire life. Even if we hadn't won that game, it still would have been the best team I have ever played on. This is a group of girls I will keep in touch with for the rest of my life. The hard work we put in together builds bonds that are unbreakable.

This year's team is one to look out for. We have so much talent, but the thing that is the most exciting is the work we put in. Every day so far, we have shown up to practice to get better, not just show up. There are so many of us that there is competition all over the field, which is exciting and fun all at the same time. As a team, we read The Energy Bus over winter break and when the team gets back and puts its main points into action there is no goal this team can't attain.

Season can't come soon enough! Twenty-four days and we will hit the ground running and never look back. Stay tuned--the 2015 season will be an unforgettable ride.

Unlimited Dance Marathon Set for Another Year

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As the spring semester is ready to begin, the Unlimited Dance Marathon fundraising efforts have ramped up as well. This year's event, held March 28 from 12 p.m.-12 a.m., in the Sports Pavilion, will look to make just as big of an impact as it did in 2014. All donations and proceeds go directly towards the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital.

Last year, Gopher Athletics assisted with the Unlimited Dance Marathon and raised nearly $29,000 in cash donations. Prior to Gopher Athletics involvement, Unlimited raised $13,800 in 2012-13 combined. With gift-in-kinds and cash donations, Unlimited and Gopher Athletics raised nearly $84,000 in 2014.

Haven't heard of the Unlimited Dance Marathon? It's a year-long fundraising effort culminating in a 12-hour Dance Marathon. No sleeping, no sitting, just dancing. We also raise emotional, financial support and awareness for children and their families treated at the Masonic Children's Hospital.

As Gopher fans, you can help the cause. Click here to make an online donation or visit some of our upcoming events to for monetary donations as our student-athletes will continue the fundraising efforts.

Unlimited Fundraising Events (all donations go towards U of M Masonic Children's Hospital)
Jan. 24, Men's Gymnastics vs. Air Force, 5 p.m., Sports Pavilion
Jan. 30, Wrestling vs. Iowa, 6 p.m., Williams Arena
Jan. 30, Women's Hockey vs. Ohio State, 7 p.m., Ridder Arena
Feb. 7, Men's Basketball vs. Purdue, 2 p.m., Williams Arena
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NHL: Kessel, Johnson Earn ASG Invites

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MINNEAPOLIS (GopherSports.com) - Gopher Hockey alums Phil Kessel and Erik Johnson have been named to the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game, the league announced over the weekend.  The 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game is set for Sunday, Jan. 25 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio (4 p.m. CT, NBC Sports). 

Kessel will be making his third-straight All-Star Game appearance (2011, 2012) for the Toronto Maple Leafs - tied for second most among Gophers with Reed Larson (1978, 1980, 1981). Only Mike Ramsey has made more All-Star Game appearances among Minnesota alums with four (1982, 1983, 1985, 1986). In 42 games this season, Kessel ranks 10th in the NHL with 43 points and tied for eighth with 19 goals. The forward has 502 points (241 goals, 261 assists) in 628 career NHL regular-season games with another 21 points (13 goals, eight assists) in 22 career playoff games. 

Johnson will make his first appearance at the All-Star Game this season as a member of the Colorado Avalanche. In 41 games this year, Johnson leads all NHL defensemen with 12 goals and has another 10 assists for 22 points. The defenseman has 192 points (48 goals, 144 assists) in 450 career NHL regular-season games with another two points (one goal, one assist) in seven career playoff games. 

A total of 16 Gopher Hockey alums have seen NHL action so far this year - Keith Ballard (MIN), Nick Bjugstad (FLA), Alex Goligoski (DAL), Erik Haula (MIN), Erik Johnson (COL), Phil Kessel (TOR), Nick Leddy (NYI), Jordan Leopold (CBJ), Paul Martin (PIT), Kyle Okposo (NYI), Nate Schmidt (WAS), Thomas Vanek (MIN), Blake Wheeler (WPG), Jordan Schroeder (MIN), Stu Bickel (MIN), Seth Helgeson (NJD).

-Pride On Ice-


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. 26, Kaitlyn Richardson: "Katie's ability to hit for both a high average and power has made for a driving force in the middle of our lineup the past three years. A true leader in our program, Katie is committed to being the best student, softball player and teammate she can be."
I started my journey to becoming a Gopher at the end of the summer going into my senior year of high school. Compared to most of my friends, I had a very late start choosing the school I was going to. In fact, I was one of the last people on my team to commit to a university. I met Coach Allister in the last game of Nationals in August of my senior year. She approached me after we had been eliminated and we hit it off right away.

I remember our conversation vividly. We talked about my club team, school, subjects I was interested in, and of course softball--we got to talk about a little of everything in our short time at the softball fields. After we finished our conversation she handed me her card and mentioned that she would like me to take a visit to the University of Minnesota. As she walked away I looked at my mom and said, "Did she just say what I think she said?" Before I knew it I was having regular conversations with all three of the coaches.

What really stuck out to me was their drive to make change. From my first conversation I had with Coach Allister, I truly believed that she was going to turn Minnesota Softball around. Every conversation after that with the coaches made me believe it more and more. They even started making me think that I could help them do it. After talking to them for a little more than a month, I decided that I would take a visit to see what the University had to offer. I was fortunate in the recruiting process that my parents supported me and allowed me to make my own decisions. They guided me with questions and opportunities that I needed to consider throughout my recruiting process, but the decision was always mine.

When I finally came on my visit, I knew this was the school for me. I had an amazing trip. The campus was beautiful and the team was great. Although they had only been playing for Coach Allister for a few months, you could hear the excitement and enthusiasm in their voices. On my last day of my visit I told Coach Allister at breakfast that I wanted to be apart of building Gopher Softball into a prestigious program. She jumped across the table and gave me a huge hug; it was the best decision I have ever made.

Unfortunately, a few months after I signed my National Letter of Intent, I decided to get knee surgery. Throughout my life my left patella dislocated frequently, but my senior year it became progressively worse. The only way that I could play in college was if I could get it fixed. It was a tough decision for me. Not only did I have to tell the Minnesota staff that I wanted this surgery, but I had to go to my high school coach's office and tell her that I would not be playing my senior year. Although it was tough to sit out, I knew that it was a sacrifice that I had to make in order to be ready for college. Having that surgery taught me many different lessons. I went to physical therapy almost every single day from when I got the surgery until I left for school. My daily goals were strict because I was trying to recover in a much quicker time frame than my doctor told me I would need to take. I cut the recovery time down by about five months. Also, by not playing my senior year, I was able to see the game from a different perspective. I learned to appreciate the game and when I stepped on the field my first semester of college I told myself I would never take for granted being able to play the game I love.

There was nothing like freshman year. Our freshman class hit it off right away. I knew that they were going to be my friends for a lifetime. It seemed to be that we were inseparable. That first semester was fun and exciting, but between time management and the weather, it was quite an adjustment. I learned how to juggle school and softball, but more importantly, I learned that I wouldn't be able to wear my flip flops in December anymore. The team camaraderie and the cohesiveness of my class really helped me feel like Minnesota was where I was meant to be.

On the field, I had never worked harder than when I arrived at Minnesota. Our program is built on hard work. We believe that we are going to outwork every other team in the nation to get where we want to be. We had a very young team my freshman year and while we were successful, we also had some big lessons to learn. I think that we have grown so much as a team every year and those lessons are important in becoming a prestigious program. We left our freshman season just shy of the postseason and it made us hungry and driven to do even better in our following three years.

Winning the Big Ten Championship last year meant so much to me. It proved that all of our hard work was for a reason. We came in every day and put our heart on the line. Our freshman class was Coach Allister's first recruiting class and winning the Big Ten Championship game felt like we were truly starting to accomplish what we came here to do. Winning that tournament and going to super regionals were the next two steps for our program. Although we had a memorable season, it did not satisfy us but it motivated us for this year.

As a team, we are extremely proud of what we accomplished in the 2014 season but now we know what it takes and we are excited for this season. It is going to take everything we have done in the past and even more to continue to get better and be the last team standing in Oklahoma. We put in a lot of great work this fall. We continued to get better every single day preparing for what the spring will bring us. I am extremely excited for this season and I think we have what it takes to have another special season.<

I cannot wait for our first tournament in Vegas. It will be exciting for everyone. The freshmen get to travel for the first time and the seniors get to start their last season in a Gopher uniform. Our goals are set and we are ready to begin our journey to Oklahoma City with the 2015 Minnesota Softball team. Stay tuned!

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. 28, Danielle Parlich: "Danielle Parlich is another versatile infielder who saw a lot of time at second base this fall. Nel possesses a steady glove and a consistent left handed bat. Nel comes to Minnesota from Arizona following in the footsteps of Gopher greats, Malisa Barnes and Kaitlyn Richardson."
Sports have always been a big part on my life. Both of my parents played multiple sports growing up and they encouraged the same from my sister and I. The two sports my sister and I fell in love with were basketball and softball. My sister, who is five years older than me, was approaching high school and my dad knew that it was time for her to pick a sport that she wanted to pursue a college career in. At this time we were still living in Illinois, where basketball was a very popular sport to play. However, she enjoyed playing softball over any other sport she tried and chose that path just like I would later on.

When I was in fourth grade, my parents decided they wanted to move out to Arizona for multiple reasons; one being softball. Softball on the West Coast is highly competitive and challenging, so my parents knew that it would be best for us if we wanted to pursue a college career. It was hard to move and leave all my friends and family behind and it was hard to start at a new school where I would know absolutely no one. However, no matter where I was, I would always have softball, which would never change.

For the next four years I played in Arizona and even played on a team my dad coached for two years. After playing for a few years in Arizona, I joined a California travel ball team for the next three years. Playing in California from eighth grade until 10th grade was a little bit of a struggle for me and really made me think about if I wanted to continue to play softball. Three out of four weekends of every month, I would be traveling to California instead of staying home or hanging out with my friends once my games were done.

It was during my sophomore year that I started to think about recruiting. Seeing how much fun my teammates were having going through that process once again got me excited about playing.

I realized that I did not just spend the last 10 years of my life playing softball, which I loved, only to give up now when I was so close. I then started not to care about how much I was traveling, but instead could not wait for the weekend so I could play. For my final two years of travel ball, I played for the Arizona Hotshots, the team that helped get me recruited to the University of Minnesota.

During my junior year, I started to seriously look around for a school I wanted to go to. I wanted to go to a school in the Midwest that had an excelling softball program. I also wanted to go to a school where the academics were great and where there was a lot of opportunity for my future.

With all of that in my mind I started to look around and went on some visits, but nothing felt right. I first found out about Minnesota from my sister, Sam, who played against them twice during her college career. From there I did some research and knew I wanted to take a visit to the campus.

After my unofficial visit I knew immediately that this was the school I wanted to go to. The campus was gorgeous, the academics were spectacular, there was a great volunteer program, and of course the coaches were amazing! At the end of my visit, I verbally committed and could not wait to be a Golden Gopher!

When I finally got to campus, I could not wait to start playing. During the 20 hours we were allowed to practice, we put in a lot of work and time together. With all that hard work, we won all of our fall games and I can only imagine how we can do in the spring.

With the spring coming up very shortly, my anticipation is growing! I cannot wait to travel with everyone (especially here to Arizona) for all the tournaments at the beginning and then to finally start Big Ten play. With the team winning the Big Ten tournament last year and seeing them receive their rings this fall, I really hope I too get this great opportunity to win one with these great girls.

With softball being one aspect of college life, school and living in the dorm are also apart of it. School for me went great this fall and it was relatively easy to adjust to balancing school and softball. However, being so far away from home, and being a freshman on top of that, it was hard to adjust to being away for such a long period of time. It was weird not to see my family every day, to not get a home cooked meal, and to even do my own laundry! However, my teammates made the process a lot easier. We would go out to eat, hang out on the weekends, and even went paintballing for someone's birthday!

This fall, I had a ton of fun getting to know everyone both on and off the field and cannot wait to see what this season has in store for us!

Hobey Baker Award Fan Voting Now Open

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Three Gophers are among the nominees for this year's Hobey Baker Award, and fans can help them earn college hockey's top honor by voting online through March 8. 


All-Americans Mike Reilly, Adam Wilcox and Kyle Rau represent the Gophers on the nomination form. 


Awarded annually to college hockey's top player, the Hobey Baker's highly popular fan-voting opened on Wednesday, January 7. Visit the Hobey Baker website: www.hobeybakeraward.comClick on the Vote for Hobey icon and follow the prompts to make your selection from this year's outstanding crop of college hockey players.  Please spend some additional time to check out the detailed bios on each candidate.

 

This first phase of fan balloting will run now through March 8, 2015. Phase two of fan balloting will begin on March 19 from the list of Top Ten Hobey Baker finalists. The fans' vote accounts for a full 1 percent of the total ballot in each phase in selecting this year's award recipient.

 

Award criteria include candidates emulating the exceptional character traits exhibited by the award's namesake, Hobey Baker. A legendary American hero, Baker was a World War I fighter pilot and was known as America's greatest amateur athlete in his day, excelling at hockey and football at Princeton University. Award candidates must demonstrate strength of character both on and off the ice, contribute to the integrity of his team and display outstanding skills in all phases of the game. Consideration should be given to scholastic achievement and sportsmanship. 

 

Key Hobey Baker announcement dates for 2015 include:

  • Top Ten list of candidates:  March 19
  • Hobey Hat Trick of three finalists:  April 2
  • Hobey Baker Award announcement:  April 10

 

The 2015 Hobey Baker Award winner will be announced from a field of three Hobey Hat Trick finalists on Friday, April 10, 2015 during the NCAA Frozen Four Championships in Boston, MA. For more info on the Hobey Baker Award or to access the Hobey logo, please visitwww.hobeybakeraward.com.

 

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Action-Packed Off-Season

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Happy New Year to our Gopher Golf alumni, donors, high school coaches and fans! With the New Year brings optimism as we start to prepare for a challenging slate of tournaments that will test our players. Our travels will take us from coast to coast as we start in Palm Coast, Fla., and close out our regular season at the Big Ten Championship in Evansville, Ind. Puerto Rico, Phoenix, Palo Alto and Iowa City will all be stops on the way in preparation of the defense of our 2014 Big Ten Championship.

Preparation for the spring portion of our schedule began the day after our final fall event at Royal Oaks in Dallas. Individual meetings, one-on-one TrackMan sessions, TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) assessments, strength/cardio testing, Nike fitting at the Oven in Fort Worth, Titleist fitting on campus by the Acushnet Company's College Team, winter competitive events, practice trips by many of our players to Arizona and a number of recruiting trips by my assistant coach, Justin Smith, and I are some of the highlights in our preparation for the Big Ten Match Play. Our program operates at a high level with a multitude of resources available to our players. We continually evolve golf swings while Shaun Brown, our strength and conditioning head, helps change their body types to best help each of our players swing the club most efficiently. As a coaching staff, we work closely with private instructors that many of our players come to college with, as well mix in our golf swing philosophies to get the most out of our players.

Go Gophers! Charlie Duensing
Go Gophers!
Watch for Charlie Duensing this spring.
Go Gophers!
As I mentioned above, a few of our players are competing over the winter months. Charlie Duensing, a freshman from Sandy, Utah, recently played in the Coral Canyon Amateur and will finish his break competing in the St. George's Men's Amateur.  His ninth-place finish at the Coral Canyon Amateur last weekend is a great sign as to his improvement in the fall season as he played in only one event for our team, the Gopher Invitational.  Look for Charlie to be in the lineup at some point this spring as he is a tireless worker with an abundance of talent.  

The other player to compete in the winter months is our All-American, Jose Mendez. Jose played in a very special event honoring wounded and fallen soldiers called the Patriot All-American. The Patriot invites All-Americans from the past collegiate year from all divisions of college golf. Jose played very solid, finishing sixth in a strong field. He was even shown on ESPN after the first round as he sat T-3 on the leaderboard! The most unique part of The Patriot All-American is that every player carries a golf bag with a wounded or fallen soldier's name on it. Jose carried the bag representing Randell Voas, an Air Force major who died in Afghanistan. Click here for a link to remember Randell Voas. Jose will compete in his final tournament of the winter break in Argentina. You might want to set the Latin American Amateur Championship as a favorite on your computer the week of January 13, as the winner of the event will now receive an invitation to the 2015 Masters at Augusta National GC. Jose will be one of 110 players looking to tee it up in April in Augusta, Ga. Follow live scoring at:  http://www.laacgolf.com/ starting on January 15, 2015.

Tyler Lowenstein, Jon DuToit, Daniel Luftspring, Jose Mendez, Grady Meyer, Matt Rachey, William Leaf, Riley Johnson, Runar Arnorsson and Charlie Duensing are our 10 team members that will be vying for travel spots to our first tournament, the Big Ten Match Play, at Hammock Beach Resort on February 15-16. If you are in Florida and would like to cheer on our team wearing Maroon and Gold, you are always welcome as admission is free to the public. Please check here for our official spring schedule.

Have a great 2015 and Fairways, Fairways, Fairways!

John Carlson

Highlights of our 2015 special events:
Gopher Golf Camp     6/22-6/25  (Les Bolstad Golf Course)
Gopher Invitational   9/13-9/14  (Windsong Farm Golf Club)
Alumni Weekend      10/15-10/17

Gophers During the 2014 Holiday Season

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Check out what some of the Gophers did during the Holiday season!

Gopher Athletics held toy drives at the Dec. 18 wrestling match, the Dec. 19 Gopher men's basketball game and the Dec. 20 women's basketball game. As fans entered the arenas, Gopher Athletics raised over $2,500 and collected hundreds of new toys. The toy distribution benefited both Toys for Tots and the St. Joseph's Home for Children during this holiday season.

Happy Holidays Gopher Fans and thanks for your contribution!


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. 32, Sydney Dwyer: "Sydney Dwyer is a versatile infielder who could see time at both middle infield positions as well as third base this spring. Syd is also a powerful offensive threat who will fight for time in the middle of our lineup."
Unlike many other collegiate softball players, I never experienced travel softball. In Iowa, high school softball is played in the summer instead of the spring, eliminating the possibility of playing on a travel team. Consequently, I could not experience the same recruitment opportunities as players who participated in travel ball. High school softball was my only chance for college coach exposure and it is very rare to get recruited through a high school team. Luckily, Lori Duncan, a former assistant coach at LSU, was my high school coach. I knew that she would put me in a position to reach my goal of playing collegiate softball.

After a successful eighth grade season playing for Coach Duncan, I had high hopes for my freshman season. All of these hopes were diminished when I tore my ACL during a basketball open gym only one week before my freshman softball season started. Initially, I was unaware of the physical and mental struggles I would face in order to fully recover.

Having to sit in the dugout all summer and watch each game and practice made me reevaluate myself as an athlete. Knowing that a successful freshman year would have helped me in the recruiting process, I did not know what my future looked like. I committed myself to rehabilitation for the next nine months, returning to athletics halfway through basketball season. I knew that if I could return to the sport in which I originally hurt my knee, then I could overcome the fear of doing it again. I would also be prepared for my sophomore softball season.

Through rehabilitation, I learned to be grateful for my physical capabilities. At first, I began to appreciate the ability to walk without crutches, then drive, and eventually, the ability to run. I made small improvements every day and every day my future looked brighter and brighter. Retraining my knee to do all the movements that once came naturally was the biggest mental battle that I had to overcome. Thankfully, with a great physical therapist and supportive coaches, my knee injury was only a slight bump in the road to reaching my goals.

During my sophomore year, my softball team had a very successful season and earned a third place finish at the state tournament. After a great season and state tournament performance, I started to gain the interest of college coaches. I even visited a few colleges before junior year started, but none that I was ready to call my home after high school. A few months later, however, I visited the University of Minnesota and called Coach Allister two days later to commit.

UMN's coaching staff had a future vision for the softball program that I knew I wanted to be a part of. The University of Minnesota's beautiful campus and facilities also immediately sold me. As soon as I left campus after my unofficial visit, I knew that the University of Minnesota had everything I was looking for in a college. Growing up in Iowa, I was always surrounded by Big Ten athletics. It was important to me that my parents could come to my games. Fortunately, over half of the Big Ten universities are close to home, giving my family ample opportunity to continue to support me.

During my senior year of high school, I went on an official visit to the U and met all of my future teammates for the first time. While I was nervous to meet everyone, I was at ease once I realized how welcoming they were throughout the weekend. Even after a few days, I noticed the close relationships these girls had with one another off the field. It was comforting to know that these girls would be my family in one short year.

Completing the workouts with the team my first week on campus was a great feeling. All the years of hard work to get here had finally felt like they had paid off. The seniors did an outstanding job of preparing all of us freshman for practices, lifts, and team expectations. The upperclassmen demonstrated the necessity of a great work ethic. While making team expectations clear, they were also very approachable and I knew that I had 16 friends I could count on for anything.

During my first few weeks on campus, I was extremely thankful for Erika Smyth and her roommates. A couple nights each week, I went to their apartment for a home cooked dinner and a place to do homework. It was nice to have a homey place and their great company. On the field this fall, I was thankful for Sam Macken. She was my partner for everything on the field and she took me under her wing and made sure that I knew what to do during each drill. Great teammates on and off the field made my transition to college life an easy one.

The team's success last year made me proud to be committed to the University of Minnesota. While watching them playing online, on TV, or in person, I walked away from every game excited to one day be a part of the team. As a spectator, I noticed how passionate they were about the game by how intensely they played it. The dugout beamed of unselfishness and I could not wait to be teammates with people who cared about one another's success more than their own.

Experiencing my first fall as a Gopher was exhausting, exhilarating, and exciting. During eight-hour weeks, I learned to cherish free time. During 20-hour weeks, I learned to cherish sleep. This fall was a lot of learning and hard work, but after seeing the team receive their Big Ten Championship rings, my determination to receive one of my own is higher than ever.

I cannot wait to see what the 2015 season has in store for Gopher Softball!

Gophers Named Team of the Week by espnW

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After posting a 3-0 record this week with wins over No. 12/14 Nebraska, Purdue and Wisconsin, espnW named the University of Minnesota women's basketball team its Team of the Week. Read more about what espnW contributor Graham Hays had to say about the Gophers' impressive week. 

Go Gophers! Amanda Zahui B.Go Gophers!
From espnW (link to full article: es.pn/1xJ0ScU)
Minnesota: The timing of the holidays meant many teams played three games this past week, so Minnesota wasn't alone in piling up three wins, but it is one of just a smattering of teams already in possession of at least three conference victories. And while a 10-game winning streak overall matters, the longest such streak since the days of Lindsay Whalen, Janel McCarville and a Final Four trip, it matters less than a five-game winning streak contained within the longer streak since the Gophers lost All-American Rachel Banham for the season with an injury.

The first win was the hardest, the Gophers rallying from a 17-point deficit with 10 minutes to play against Nebraska to claim a 72-69 win. A victory at Purdue followed on New Year's Day, not bad for a team that won just four road games all of last season, and Sunday brought a rivalry win against Wisconsin. Amanda Zahui B. averaged 17.3 points, 15.3 rebounds and 4.0 blocks in the three wins to earn espnW player of the week, but moving on without Banham has been a collective effort. Along with Zahui, Shae Kelley, Shayne Mullaney and Carlie Wagner scored 81 percent of the team's points this past week but that was split almost evenly among the four of them.

It helped that Mullaney and Wagner, far from forcing the issue, combined for 33 assists and just six turnovers, compared to 62 assists and 43 turnovers previously. 

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