Softball bonds in Kissimmee
This spring break, the softball team took our annual trip down to Kissimmee and Orlando, Fla. It’s a great tournament, which allows us to play a lot of games in a short period of time. We had 10 games in five days. We were able to see a wide variety of teams from around the country and get to play on the dirt, which is nice after months practicing in the Elmen Center.
This year we went 7-2 (one of the games was cancelled due to rain). It was a good chance to showcase our strengths and expose some of the weaknesses that we need to work on for this season. On of our pitchers, freshman Karlee Koopman, was unfortunately injured right before the trip, so we only had two pitchers for the nine games. I thought they did a fantastic job of staying strong and focused throughout the week and I was very proud of their performances.
Our team has a mixture of youth (five freshmen) and veterans, many of whom are in completely new positions this year. We have an almost entirely new infield and only one returning outfielder. This would appear to pose a great problem for some teams; however, I thought we did a great job of stepping up to the challenge and we started to show people what we could do during this Florida tournament.
Aside from softball, the team spent a lot of time together. We had seven girls each staying in two houses, with the coaches in their own house. Each house took turns cooking dinner and doing dishes for the other, so Florida really is a great bonding time every year where the team becomes a family.
Half of the girls had their parents in town and were able to spend a lot of time with them. Fortunately for our team, our parents treat each of the girls like their own and we all take care of each other, so even if a girl didn’t have parents there, they had many more to share.
The Florida trip was a blast and we have the winning record and tan lines to prove it.
Tennis teams serve up in Florida matches
The women’s tennis team trip to Florida was a very positive and team building experience. Three out of the four teams the women played were Division I and our overall record was two wins and two losses.
The teams we lost to were very good teams and the scores for both of them were 4-5. The matches were extremely close and we came very close to winning. Everyone on the team played very well and did an excellent job of handling the elements since we have been playing indoors for the past four months. It was quite a transition switching to outdoor tennis, but I don’t think that it affected anyone’s playing once the matches got started.
The men’s tennis team also did very well. They had some tough competition but their matches were close and they all worked very hard. Each of the matches took about four hours, not including travel time. Tennis took up majority of our time and energy during the days we had matches.
We did have some free time, which we spent relaxing, eating delicious food, swimming at the pool, soaking in the hot tub, enjoying the sun and taking a day-trip to the beach. We stayed in a condo with a kitchen, so we were able to cook several meals for ourselves, but we also went to some team dinners and some Subway lunches.
The trip was very beneficial for our team. Even though some of the matches did not turn out how we would have liked, they added to our experience, and I have no doubt that everyone improved. We got to relax, get a tan and, most importantly, improve through intense match play.
We were very sore most of the days, but that didn’t keep us from enjoying the sunshine while we could. Considering the sunburns we got, we may have enjoyed it a little too much. Nonetheless, I cannot complain since the weather was extremely cooperative.
Men’s golf takes on Vegas Strip
The men’s golf team set off for Las Vegas last Friday, March 8. After landing, we drove down Las Vegas Boulevard to see the Strip, which was a new experience for most of us.
The rental house we stayed in was easily big enough for all 11 golfers and coach Steve Klock with a pool, hot tub, ping-pong/pool table and a home theater system.
Saturday was a qualifying round to get into the South Dakota State University tournament the following Monday and Tuesday at Primm Valley Golf Course across the border in California, a 45-minute drive from the house.
Five members were named to the team (CJ Haukom, Luke Robison, Clay Kopplin, Ethan Metz, and Drew Trautman) along with two individual players (Matt Drake and Tyler Jensvold) for the tournament based on our first day outside all season. Sunday was another day to play the course to get a better feel for it.
On Monday, only 32 holes were played the first day because the sun fell before all 36 could be finished due to a frost delay in the morning. Tuesday morning had golfers finishing the four holes from the day before and the last round of 18.
Tuesday night we headed to the Strip for free time to explore the hotels. The Bellagio and the Venetian were highlights of my visit and others as well. The Excalibur and the MGM were also popular to the guys on the team. The astronomical size is astounding no matter how many times you see the buildings on the Strip.
On Wednesday, we had the pleasure of playing Coyote Springs Golf Course, about an hour northwest of Las Vegas. This experience was another highlight for everyone as the course was visually spectacular and exceptionally challenging. We had a friendly Ryder Cup format, having six members on each team to make the round more interesting.
That night we had a ping pong tournament as well. Thursday was a day to relax in the sun and everyone took advantage of the time to hang around the pool. In the evening, we traveled to the north side of the Strip to an outlet mall and shop at the Nike store, of course.
The temperatures of nearly 80 made the entire week immensely enjoyable. I feel as though we grew closer as a team being in close quarters for the week. The camaraderie and the weather made my spring break more than exceed my expectations.
Women’s golf grabs third at opening tournament in California
This was the week we had all been looking forward to all year: the entire women’s golf team taking a trip out to Palm Springs, Calif. for a week of preparation for our spring season.
This year was just as exciting as any other, and full of memories that will never be forgotten.
With five freshmen that have never experienced this trip before, and double the number of girls that went last year, it was a chaotic, eventful trip.
Arriving on Friday afternoon, we had almost a week of preparation for our tournament that took place on Thursday, March 14 and Friday, March 15. Knowing that we were up to a challenge as all of our competitors have been competing outside for two months now, and us being out on grass for the first time since October, we did a lot of practicing, playing and short game work in order to get as prepared as we could.
The trip was not all business though, as we had time to go shopping at the street fair, and in El Paseo we went hiking up the hills with beautiful views of the mountains, and the gorgeous golf courses we had the privilege to play, and sitting by the pool in attempt to get rid of our already developing golf tan lines.
At night, dinner in the city and time in the hot tub was a regular. We also went to the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament, and watched Andy Murray and Caroline Wozniacki play.
Finally, the time to play the Spring Fling tournament came, and Thursday was a very uncharacteristic day for us as our score was very high.
Nerves and indecision, along with a golf course that allows for little error were the main causes of these high scores, but we sat in third place after day one. We knew we could come back the second day and play better, and we did, shooting 20 shots lower as a team. Everyone shot lower individually the second day as well.
We ended in third place, but felt a lot better about our performance the second day. With two highly ranked teams in the nation beating us, we felt it was an alright start to the season, but it definitely left us wanting to work harder to perform better this next weekend in St. Joe, Missouri. None of us were ready to come back to Sioux Falls last week, but we are excited for a busy spring season that will hopefully land us back at the NCAA Championships for the seventh year in a row.