Gophers and Beavers Join for Worthy Cause

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The Gopher Athletics department held a special ceremony at the Feb. 8 game at Ridder Arena. The Gophers welcomed back one of their former hockey players Jenelle (Philipczyk) Kelley and her husband, Ben, at the game against Bemidiji State. Jenelle and Ben's daughter, Lilah, who is two years old, is battling a rare form of nervous system cancer (neuroblastoma). Lilah's aunt, Jenessa Philipczyk, is a member of the Beaver hockey team as the two teams combined to raise awareness towards cancer. In a Gold Out celebration, funds were raised for Unlimited and the Amplatz Chilren's Hospital, where Lilah has been a recent patient.

Unlimited Update (2/4/14)

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Written by Chris Hawthorne, Student Affairs Intern and Unlimited Executive Board Member

Unlimited is in the final stages of planning and preparation as we get ready to hold the first annual Unlimited Dance Marathon, Feb. 22-23 in Mariucci Arena. As we begin putting the final touches on the schedule and events we will have this year, it's been incredible to spend a little bit of time thinking about where we were two years ago and how far we've come.

To say it's been a lot of work would truly be an understatement, but it's been something that has been so rewarding and has been something through which I, personally, have learned so much. I have been able to apply many of the things that I have learned in classes here at the U to real life scenarios and situations. It has also been really rewarding to work with so many incredible people, from all the different areas within the athletics department, to different students and student groups on campus, to different members of Greek life, to various other areas of campus that would take far too long to list, everyone that I have had the chance to work with has been great.

Looking forward to the event, I couldn't be more excited for all that's going to take place. Coming off of a logistical meeting with Craig Flor and his staff at Mariucci, I am so excited to see the incredible things that they will pull off from the venue and staging perspective. From curtains to lighting to speakers to a/v and cameras, his staff along with the communications, marketing, and various other parts of the athletic department have teamed up to put on something that I really think people will have a great time at.

We have put the final touches on the music plan, have met with the DJ's, have began the slotting process of which student groups will perform when, are finalizing which children and families will speak when, and have a couple of surprise on campus celebrities that we are hoping will make an appearance. Additionally, we are finalizing what great items we will have for our auction which will be up on the concourse during the entire 12 hours. Just as a teaser, we will have a great giveaway for Spring Break that people and especially students and families won't want to miss. 

All in all, we are in a great place right now. We have a lot of work left to do over the last few weeks, but we can't wait to see everyone at 6pm on February 22nd at Mariucci Arena. 

Gopher Coaches Featured on Live BIG

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Gophers Volunteer With Special Olympics

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The University of Minnesota women's hockey team was in full force as 14 members of the team volunteered with the Special Olympics at the state poly hockey tournament, Sunday, Jan. 26 in Golden Valley, Minn.

The Gopher contingent of Milica McMillen, Sidney Peters, Amanda Leveille, Kate Flug, Kate Schipper, Hannah Brandt, Dani Cameranesi, Paige Haley, Kelsey Cline, Shyler Sletta, Baylee Gillianders, Sarah Davis, Bethany Brausen and Kelly Terry were in attendance from 12-6. The group interacted with the participants and presented awards during the Special Olympics ceremony.

The Gopher women's hockey team has always had a long-standing tradition of community service. Earlier this month, the team held a teddy bear toss to donate to Toys for Tots, while Feb. 8 game against Bemidiji State, the team will hold a Gold Out as proceeds go towards Amplatz Children's Hospital and Unlimited Dance Marathon.

Camps Give Back to Smile Network

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The J Robinson Intensive Camps aren't just making wrestlers better as athletes, but as individuals. Along with teaching the core values of discipline, dedication, sacrifice, hard work, responsibility, accountability and service, the camps also teaches them to give back to a worthy cause.

The 37-year head coach and his youth camps donated $5,701 to the Smile Network International and presented a check towards the non-profit organization at their monthly luncheon, Thursday, Jan. 23 in Minneapolis.

The Smile Network is a Minnesota-based non-profit, humanitarian organization that provides life altering, reconstructive surgeries and related health care services to impoverished children and young adults in developing countries. For every $500 raised, the Smile Network has the ability to perform a surgery on a child or adult.

Each summer, youth wrestlers who attend the J Robinson Intensive Camps have the opportunity to donate money towards the Smile Network. At the conclusion, Robinson Intensive Camps match the total youth donation, all of which goes directly towards the Smile Network. Now in its fifth year donating towards the Smile Network, the camps have raised over $7,000 in just the past two seasons.

Gophers Bowl at Lanes for Friendship

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The Gopher baseball team was well-represented at the Highland Friendship Club's Lanes for Friendship event. Pictured here with Jack Jablonski.

The Highland Friendship Club's seventh annual Lanes for Friendship event took place last weekend. Gopher baseball coaches and student-athletes attended to bowl and spend time with other participants.

Pat Leseman, the mother of former Gopher baseball player Tony Leseman, founded the HFC in 2002. From the organization's website: "The mission of the Highland Friendship Club is to serve individuals with disabilities from teens through adulthood by providing a range of opportunities to develop lifelong skills, friendships and connections within their community."

To learn more, visit

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By Andrew Doughty
Student-Athlete Development Intern

University of Minnesota student-athletes visited Countryside Elementary School in Edina on Wednesday, October 30th as part of the "Eat Smart, Play Hard" program. "Eat Smart, Play Hard" is an interactive and engaging program with a mission of educating elementary school children on the importance of eating healthy and exercising.

Student-athletes from football, women's swimming and diving, rowing, and baseball reviewed different forms of basic physical activity, healthy alternative snacks, and making smart decisions for your body.

"It's a great chance for kids to visually see the importance of proper nutrition and physical activity," said Chris Hawthorne, a senior on the football team. "It is also a tremendous opportunity to really connect with kids in promoting daily dietary habits and daily exercises."

The group of eager children from kindergarten through third grade was also treated to entertaining videos created by former Gopher student-athletes Josh Hall (Men's Swimming & Diving) and Lucy Ennis (Women's Gymnastics).

The videos further stressed the message of moderate portions of healthy snacks and exploring new ways to get adequate exercise. The program concluded as the student-athletes passed out fruit and granola bars to the inquisitive group of students prior to spending a few moments answering entertaining and mildly amusing questions.

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Wittman Highlighted In Faces of the Big Ten

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Have you watched any of the Big Ten Network broadcasts featuring your favorite team? You may have recognized Gopher Volleyball's Ashley Wittman as one of the 'Faces of the Big Ten' ads. Wittman, a senior captain with the Gophers has done countless hours of volunteering, a multiple Academic All-Big Ten selection and a member of the Gophers' Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. Take a look at this video.

MAGIC Visits Amplatz Children's Hospital

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The University of Minnesota student-athletes were again on the move as a group visited the Amplatz Children's Hospital, located here on campus. Here's a quick video of their adventure.

Gophers Hold First 2013 Student-Athlete Advisory Meeting

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Go Gophers! SAAC Meeting
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The 2013 Student Athlete Advisory Committee met for the first time in 2013.
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Photo Gallery

The Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) held its first meeting of the 2013 academic year on Monday, Sept. 23rd. The committee is comprised of 60 student-athlete representatives from each of the 25 University of Minnesota athletic teams. The mission of the committee is to serve as a liaison between the student-athlete population, athletic department, Big Ten Conference and the National Collegiate Athletic Association on issues facing the overall welfare of the collegiate student-athlete. SAAC strives to encourage the involvement of all programs within the athletic department and campus environment, through empowering and education student-athletes at the University of Minnesota.

After dinner was provided for the SAAC members in the Hall of Traditions at the Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex, the group headed out to the Bierman Track. Upon their arrival, the committee met with Captain Andrew Schroers of the United States Marine Corps. Captain Schroers introduced the members of the Marine Corps as they demonstrated a condensed version of their fitness test. It also symbolized the valued traits instilled by the USMC and the use of team building and commitment. Each member paired up with another member in similar size and weight. In order to complete the test, each person had to complete their course as well as carry their teammate to the finish line.

The SAAC meets on the first Monday of each month, however prior to these larger meetings the Executive Committee meets. These smaller meetings serve as an opportunity for dialogue regarding pertinent issues facing Gopher student-athletes, along with a time to prepare the larger agenda for SAAC. The next SAAC meeting will be held on Monday, October 7, 2013 in the M Club Room at TCF Bank Stadium, to begin at 6:30 p.m. with dinner followed by the meeting from 7 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.  Feel free to stop in for an opportunity to learn more about what your SAAC can do for you.

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2013 SAAC Meeting
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