The first day of school always had a certain feel about it when I was growing up, so it seems weird that even today, seven years after my last first day of college, that it still has that feeling.
Maybe it's a nervous feeling as to what is to come for the year, maybe it's the excitement of knowing the goals you want to reach, but whatever the feeling is or was, I always know to embrace it.
Members of the Minnesota women's basketball team enter the 2012-13 academic year with the same feelings I've always felt, I am sure. Coming off a WBI Championship a year ago, the squad knows that expecations are high for this season, not only from its coaching staff and supporters, but for the Gophers themselves.
Though Minnesota is a young squad that boasts just two seniors on its 2012-13 roster, the Golden Gophers return nearly 68% of their point production. A large portion of that production came from 2012 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Rachel Banham. The point guard led Minnesota with 580 points, which was the third-highest total among the nation's freshmen, and the most points scored of any freshman in the six power conferences.
The Maroon and Gold also returns its top-four rebounders from 2011-12. Katie Loberg is Minnesota's top returning rebounder, averaging 5.7 rebounds per game last season, followed by Banham, Kionna Kellogg and Micaëlla Riché.
Add in the return of Kayla Hirt, who was forced to redshirt her freshman year due to a knee injury, and the addition of a trio of freshmen in Mikayla Bailey, Jackie Johnson and Shayne Mullaney and the Gophers have the supplies needed to have a successful year.
On top of making the trek to their first class this morning, Minnesota will also take part in its first day of skill instruction, so not only is it back to school for the Gophers, but it is also time to go back to work on the hardwood.
With Day One holding many happy, excited and even nervous feelings, it seems that no matter who, where or how long ago you last experienced the spirit of the first day of school, it always brings about a fresh start and the beginning of something really great.
The University of Minnesota women's basketball team headed to the "Great Minnesota Get-Together" Tuesday to make its annual appearance on the stage at the University of Minnesota Building, but that was not the only fun the Golden Gophers, Pam Borton and her staff were able to have, as they took full advantage of their time at the
Over the last week, Gopher fans were able to vote for what State Fair food they wanted Coach Borton to eat in a poll conducted on the Golden Gophers Women's Basketball (facebook.com/GophersWBB) Facebook page, and, on the final day, beef tongue tacos pulled ahead and took the win.
Not only did Coach Borton try, and enjoy, her tacos, but so did Rachel Banham, Kionna Kellogg, assistant coach Kelly Roysland, associate head coach Curtis Loyd, assistant coach Ted Riverso, Mikayla Bailey and Sari Noga!
The players and coaches were all able to stop at their favorite food stands and enjoy their favorite State Fair food, with the squad making stops for bacon on a stick, turkey legs, fried pickles, Sweet Martha's Cookies and some Minnesota sweet corn.
Borton and Banham also had media obligations throughout the day. Below you will find a list of all of the stops that the duo made:
10:15 a.m. - Coach Borton appeared live on 1500 ESPN with Judd and Phun (Listen)
11:25 a.m. - Coach Borton appeared live on KARE11 Today (Watch)
11:30 a.m. - Gophers and Coach Borton appeared on stage at the U of M Building
1:15 p.m. - Rachel Banham appeared live on 1500 ESPN with Reusse and Mackey (Listen)
5:20 p.m. - Coach Borton appeared live on WCCO TV with Mark Rosen
Sari Noga enters her junior season as one of the Golden Gophers' top three-point shooting threats, as she connected on 21 of the three-point attempts last season. Her total ranked third on the squad last season and is second-best among Minnesota's returners. Here, the guard from Parkers Prairie, Minn., shares 25 things that Gopher fans may not know about her.
I am not a fan of birds, specifically crows and pigeons
My first car was a blue Volkswagen Beetle
I can now drive a stick shift
I like to go fishing, but will not touch the fish
I am going to become a funeral director after college
I often repeat stories to people without realizing it
My favorite colors are pink and blue
I was once the second tallest in my grade during elementary school
I cry watching sad tv shows and movies
My first job was waitressing in my hometown cafe
I want to be able to travel to all 50 states before I die
I am related to a famous Opera singer, Geraldine Farrar
In my ancestry, one of my many times great grandmother's brother was an advisor to King Henry the VIII :)
I am creeped by all kinds of insects
I often repeat stories without realizing it ;)
I am gullible
My favorite Avenger is the HULK
My favorite book is "Bridge to Terabithia"
My favorite movie in the last few years is "Bridesmaids"
I am a diehard GLEEK
I actually wish I could sing like Rachel Berry (Lea Michele)
I helped rescue and bring a rare dark morphed, red tailed hawk to the Raptor Center at the U of M
Jim Burns, who has been the public address announcer for the University of Minnesota women's basketball team for the last 15 years, is one of five finalists competing for a chance to announce at Daytona International Speedway's inaugural UNOH Battle at the Beach on Feb. 18-19, and needs the help of Golden Gopher fans to help make his dream come true.
Burns, who is also the "Voice of Elko Speedway," made it to the final five and has the opportunity to earn a trip to Daytona Beach, Fla., to join the announcing team for the event. All he needs is your votes!
Fans can vote for Burns at daytonainternationalspeedway.com/announcer or by clicking here.
Voting will remain open until Sept. 30. The announcer who receives the most votes will be revealed at the NASCAR Home Tracks banquet in December. Let's send Jim to Daytona!!
I wasn't really sure what to expect this morning as I was driving down 35W toward Lakeville for the Hoops Scramble X at Crystal Lake Golf Club. I knew that the event was going to be a good time with great people, but what I wasn't expecting was how MUCH fun it was going to be.
Between the players, coaching staff, Fast Break Club members, boosters and Gopher fans, it definitely seemed like everyone was enjoying a day on the links.
As golfers made their way to Hole #2, they were greeted by Katie Loberg, Rachel Banham, Kionna Kellogg, Micaella Riche and Mikayla Bailey, who were selling raffle tickets, autographing mini basketballs and mingling with whoever came by to visit them.
Steering their carts toward the pin, those same golfers were met by Leah Cotton, Sari Noga, Amber Dvorak and assistant coach Ted Riverso, who congratulated each player that managed to keep their drive on the green.
One of the best moments of the day was when each player took a turn trying to hit the ball off of the tee. Bailey's stroke was impressive... as for the rest? They have just a tad more work to do before joining the LPGA! However, they kept everyone entertained.
As an obeserver, it is so refreshing to see how much the student-athletes appreciate the support that they receive from their fans. They truely enjoyed the time they were able to spend with them today, and I'm sure their supporters felt the same way.
Mikayla Bailey is one of the newest additions to the 2012-13 Golden Gopher roster, and though we know that she led Osseo High School to the Class 4A State Championship Game last season and was the 2012 recipient of Osseo's Athena Award, the rookie shares 25 things fans may not know about her.
My brother John is my best friend
I love spending time with family
I love to travel
I want to sky dive with my father someday
I am always laughing and joking around
I have dog named Tanner
I played soccer for five years in high school
I pole vaulted in high school
I love the ocean
I love to rollerblade
My favorite food is cereal
I enjoy boxing
My favorite TV programs are: The Ellen Show and The Bachelorette
In just her sophomore season, Kionna Kellogg was a consistent presence in the frontcourt for the Golden Gophers last season. Kellogg averaged 5.2 rebounds per game, matching the second-best average on the team, while also posting a .455 field goal percentage. Now as an upperclassman, Kellogg looks to expand her role even further in 2012-13. Here, the forward from Ames, Iowa, shares 25 things that Gopher fans may not know about her.
My middle name is Elise
I am young for my age
I was born in Marshall, Minnesota
My mom still cuts my steak
I am scared of spiders
I had to go to summer school in the second grade
I actually like playing defense
I love cheese (colby or cheddar)
I am compulsive about my finger nails
I have never been stung by a bee
I am good at math, even though I don't like it
I used to want to be a gymnast
I can do a really good cartwheel and round off
I haven't read a book for pleasure in over two years
I like to paint
I cannot sing to save my life
I have to set four alarms to wake up in the morning
Redshirt freshman Kayla Hirt did not get the opportunity to hit the hardwood in 2011-12 after tearing her ACL in an early season practice, but the Gophers' forward is anxiously awaiting her opportunity to showcase her talent in 2012-13. Hirt has been diligent in her rehabilitation since having surgery in November, and anticipates being able to have an immediate impact for Minnesota in her rookie campaign. Here, the forward from Bemidji, Minn., shares 25 things that Gopher fans may not know about her.
I was born two months early
I was three pounds, 15 ounces
I was born in Fargo, N.D.
When I was two, I had an absess infection in my hip, which forced me to quit walking and put me in the hospital for a couple of months
I have more shoes then a person could ever wear
I love piercings. I have 16
My favorite show is Law and Order: Criminal Intent
One thing i wish i could do is play the piano
I want to buy a black Chrysler 300
As I get older, I become more and more scared of being outside when it's dark
My favorite movie is Love and Basketball
My favorite tv show is One Tree Hill
I love candy. I used to be so obsessed, that I would keep candy on the bench and eat it during time outs
I love being able to express myself through the way I dress. How many people say they wear whatever they want, when they want to?
I love math class
I don't drink pop or eat fast food. This makes up for me eating candy. Ha
I cut open my head one day when i was trying to dunk, because I hit my head on the rim
I have tried just about every sport: soccer, volleyball, softball, track, hockey, football and, obviously, basketball
I used to skateboard
I love cell phones. I have had just about every type of cell phone. I love the change of having a new one
I might be considered addicted to my cellphone :/
I love photo design. If i ever get bored, I crop and customize pictures
I am addicted to Applebee's boneless buffalo wings
Something that drives me insane is when people's shoes dont match their outfits
My favorite state is Arizona. I hope to move there when I get older. BEAUTIFUL!
Katie Loberg enters her senior season with the Minnesota women's basketball team as the squad's top returning rebounder and second-leading scorer after an impressive junior campaign in which she averaged 9.1 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. Here, the forward from Princeton, Minn., shares 25 things that Gopher fans may not know about her.
I could touch the rim in 8th grade.
I was already 6 ft. tall in 7th grade (I was even skinnier then, too!)
Yellow/ivory labs will forever be my favorite dog breed. They're the best family dogs.
I am moderately obsessed with Twitter--follow me @KatieLo25!
I played the trumpet from 3rd grade to 10th grade, and have also learned several other instruments. I got bored learning the same things over and over, so I taught myself!
Growing up, I spent a lot of time on the farm with my horses, and riding them in competitions. I have owned about 10 in my life, and I miss horseback riding more and more every day.
I hate seafood, but it's growing on me.
I love traveling and aspire to see the world, but my favorite destination will forever be my cabin on the North Shore of Lake Superior. There's just nothing like it!
I can appreciate a good steak--medium rare, please!
When I'm not working on school, I love to read.
I used to be deathly afraid of heights, among other things, but I enjoy facing my fears! "Life is like a stroll on the beach--as near to the edge as I can go." -Thoreau
In 8th grade, I was All Conference in varsity cross-country. I used to be a pretty good distance runner, and I'm slowly finding my love for it again.
I can cook well, but I'm usually too lazy to care--I make the most random meals.
I am not a morning person.
I can't mix the food on my plate. I eat it one section at a time.
Being organized is important, but I hate cleaning unless the mood strikes.
I love being outside--hiking, beach, watching the clouds--whatever, as long as there's sun and fresh air, I'm there!
I cry in sad movies, books--heck, sometimes even commercials (like those sad dog/cat commercials!). I get it from my Daddy. ;)
Growing up, I dreamed of becoming an equine (horse) veterinarian.
A dream trip of mine would be to go storm chasing across the Midwest--I love a good storm!
My favorite cookie is snickerdoodle, but I love chocolate chip cookie dough.
Don Pablos is my favorite restaurant because I love Mexican food.
I've always wanted to learn how to surf... someday.
I love learning new languages and about different cultures.
Someday I hope to make a garden half as good as my mother's.
Even though the women's basketball season may have ended in March, that doesn't mean the work is over for those behind-the-scenes of it all. Danye Guinn, Director of Basketball Operations for the team, has her work cut out for her at the beginning of the summer.
"Now that camps are starting to pick up in June, it's been just as busy as it is during the year."
One of her main projects during the summer is working on coordinating and organizing the camps that the team runs during the summer months. From making the brochures to calling coaches to planning all of the minute details for the camps, the beginning of summer is not an easy ride for her. The Gophers' overnight camp takes the most amount of work.
"For elite camp, the campers can stay in the Frontier residence halls, so I have to make sure that the hall is all lined up. I also have to make sure players are staying in the rooms with who they requested and I have to schedule meals for all the campers. Each player gets lunch and dinner, while breakfast is also served for the people that stay in the halls, so I have to line all those up, while also making sure parents know where to park, drop off their kids and what time registration begins. I also have to get t-shirt sizes and help in the design of the shirts that each camper receives."
Along with coordinating everything for the camps, she also has to make sure that the Gophers are there as well.
"Between their summer school classes, I have to figure out when to schedule the players that will be working camps. I have to decide what teams I'm going to put them with and what drills I want them doing, versus what I want the high school and college coaches doing."
It can clearly be quite a bit of work, though Danye isn't too nervous about it.
"I've been doing camps for several years now. I ran University of North Dakota's camps for the past few years, so I don't think it's that hard, but it is a lot of detailed work. If you overlook something, it could throw off the whole camp. It's a lot more work than people think it is."
Danye's past jobs have given her great experience to help her through this summer.
"Basketball is all I have known since about kindergarten, so after playing at the University of North Dakota for five years, I took a coaching job at Des Moines Area Community College in Boone, Iowa. I was an assistant coach there for a year and then got hired at back at the University of North Dakota as an assistant coach."
Danye also enjoys the organizational aspect of her job, making it an enjoyable experience for her as she continues into next season. She is also hoping to learn more about the administrative side of things as she continues down her career path and more into the summer.
But it isn't all about work for Danye, as she does get some free time in the offseason. She has plans to go on a family fishing trip to Canada at the beginning of August and also has a side project that she has been working on. She is building a dining room table out of old barn wood that she got from her grandparent's barn that was blown down in a storm.
Her work life does pick up again though in September, when she starts to begin her regular-season duties, which mostly include planning travel for the team.
"When camps are done in the beginning of July, I'll start getting contracts for hotels and buses and then I can begin to line up our charter flights."
One of her biggest concerns will be what to do when something goes wrong.
"If a flight goes wrong, which we had a flight canceled because of a mechanical issue this past year, I would reschedule it and try figure out a way to get to our destination safely."
Even though it may be a daunting task, she definitely will not have a difficult time with it.
"Coming in last year, everything was new and everything was a lot bigger. This year, I'll have everything more organized and I'll know who to talk to about what questions I have. I'm just looking forward to being a little less stressed than I was last year."
She is also looking forward to this season, as her first year was quite a success.
"Everybody here at the U has been great, from the coaches to the players to the fans. And I have also met a lot of great people in Bierman that I get to work with every day. I have definitely made a lot of good connections."
- by Elizabeth Babinski, Athletic Communications Assistant