Page 1


Just like that, the cool weather is gone and

our spring sports are preparing for participation in the postseason tournaments. Our baseball and softball teams spent the entire season ranked and competing for conference championships. We hope to see both teams represent the university in the postseason. Our men’s golf team just captured its fifth-straight conference championship, and we’re about to host the NCAA National Championship at Karsten Creek. It’s a great event and a great opportunity for our fans to see

4

MAY 2011

the best amateur golfers in the nation while giving the Cowboys a homefairway advantage. And though summer’s just getting underway, it’s not too early to think about football season tickets. We have the core of OSU’s most successful football team ever returning. ­Blackman and Weeden are again looking to light up scoreboards and opposing defenses, and I for one and looking forward to another great season. I hope to see you at OSU athletic events supporting our teams. Your

participation in OSU athletics is vital to our success.

Go Pokes! As always, thank you for your support of OSU athletics.

Mike Holder Director of Intercollegiate athletics

Former OSU Men’s Golf Coach OSU Class of 1973


M ay 20 11  Vo l . 4   N o. 3

Features 22 29 34 42 66 66 68 72 76

  Q & a : N CAA C h a m p J o r da n O l i v e r   W o m e n ’ s G o l f : C oac h Ann i e Yo u ng

  M e n ’ s b a s k e t b a l l : J P O l u k e m i   M e n ’ s g o l f : m a k i ng t h e c u t   Eq u e s t r i a n : e r i n p r u to w

8 14 18 62 82

  o s u l i c e n s i ng

  d o n o r s : B r i a n & L i n d s ay m c d o w e l l   T h e 15 0   M e n ’ s G o l f : B i g 12 c h a m p s , ag a i n   W r av ! ng s

  r e m e m b e r i ng i b a   b a s e b a l l : L u i s U r i b e

  S o f t b a l l : a ly s i a H a m i lto n

  q & a : o f f e n s i v e c o o r d i n ato r , To d d M o n k e n

About the Cover

The cover was shot on a cool evening in April on the 18th hole at Karsten Creek. Photographer Phil Shockley had about two minutes of perfect light to catch Junior Morgan Hoffmann before the sun set.

5


posse magazine POSSE M a g a z i n e St a f f A s s o c i at e V i c e P r e s i d e n t o f En r o l l m e n t M a n ag e m e n t/ M a r k e t i ng  E d i to r - In - C h i e f 

A r t D i r e c to r s | D e s i gn e r s 

Paul V. F leming, M a rk Pen nie

D i r e c to r o f P h oto g r a p h y  

Phil Shock le y

C o n t r i b u t i ng P h oto g r a p h e r  a s s i s ta n t e d i to r 

Technology is constantly making the world a smaller place. Facebook, Twitter and various other social networking web-sites make it easier than ever to reconnect with childhood friends, or even find out what your high school sweetheart is up to. Social networking is also playing a very prominent role in high school recruiting these days as well.

G a ry L awson

Cl ay Billm a n

C o n t r i b u t i ng W r i t e r s 

Hello, all

M at t Elliot

C o n t r i b u t i ng d e s i gn e r s ,

Ross M au t e , K a dy L awson, Eliz a be t h H a hn

At h l e t i c s A n n u a l G i v i n g ( POSSE ) D e v e l o p m e n t St a f f A s s i s ta n t At h l e t i c D i r e c to r | D e v e lo p m e n t  

Jesse M a rt in

Ellen Ay res

A s s i s ta n t D e v e lo p m e n t D i r e c to r  P r e m i u m S e r v i c e s D i r e c to r 

K a ry l Henry

P u b l i c at i o n s C o o r d i n ato r 

Cl ay Billm a n

P r o g r a m s C o o r d i n ato r | B e n e f i t s 

M a ry Le wis

Prospects commonly announce their college choice on Twitter /Facebook, and the news spreads like wildfire through rabid fan bases that just can’t get enough

E v e n t C o o r d i n ato r | G a m e Day Pa r k i ng M a n ag e r 

While technology does seem to make it easier important to remember that NCAA rules preclude boosters from making contact with recruits, even though social media outlets. While it may seem harmless, several schools have had to turn in NCAA violations because their boosters contacted prospects through their Facebook pages. For example, in February of 2010, one school (who shall remain nameless) had a booster who was impermissibly involved in the recruitment of several women’s basketball prospective studentathletes. Specifically, the booster contacted three PSAs via Facebook on more than one occasion, and befriended them on the social networking site. Although their conversations on Facebook were general in nature, it was still a violation. Boosters cannot be involved in the recruitment of prospective student-athletes. A prospective student-

A ndy Su mr a ll

St eph a nie Boese

At h l e t i c D e v e lo p m e n t A s s i s ta n t 

information about their favorite teams. to connect with individuals across the country, it is

K y le Wr ay

Cory Chene y

At h l e t i c s M a j o r G i f t D e v e l o p m e n t St a f f A s s o c i at e V i c e P r e s i d e n t o f D e v e lo p m e n t  S e n i o r D i r e c to r o f M a j o r G i f t s 

L a rry Reece

D i r e c to r o f M a j o r G i f t s | C l u b S e at s  P r o j e c t M a n ag e r 

Cr a ig Clemons

M at t Gr a n t h a m

Sh awn Tay lor

OSU POSSE 1 0 2 At h l e t i c s C e n t e r  S t i l lwat e r , OK 74 078 - 5 070

P

405.744.7301 or 877.2B.POS SE

F

405.744.9084

www.okstat eposse.com posse@okstat e.edu

athlete is anyone who has started classes for the ninth grade. The best rule of thumb is to refer any questions about OSU athletics to our staff and do not attempt to influence a prospect’s decision to attend

ADVER T ISING  EDI T ORIAL 

4 0 5 .74 4.73 0 1

4 0 5 .74 4.7 19 2

OSU. Remember, only members of the coaching staff may be actively involved in the recruiting process. Thanks again for all you do to assist our Athletics Department. If you have any specific questions, please feel free to contact me at ben.dyson@okstate.edu. Sincerely,

Assistant AD for Compliance

6 April2011 May 2011

Donations received may be transferred to Cowboy Athletics, Inc. in accordance with the Joint Resolution among Oklahoma State University, the Oklahoma State University Foundation, and Cowboy Athletics, Inc. POSSE magazine is published four times a year by Oklahoma State University Athletic Department and the POSSE, and is mailed to current members of the POSSE. Magazine subscriptions available by membership in the POSSE only. Membership is $150 annually. Postage paid at Stillwater, OK, and additional mailing offices. Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, disability, or status as a veteran in any of its policies, practices or procedures. This includes but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services. Title IX of the Education Amendments and Oklahoma State University policy prohibit discrimination in the provision of services or benefits offered by the University based on gender. Any person (student, faculty or staff) who believes that discriminatory practices have been engaged in based upon gender may discuss their concerns and file informal or formal complaints of possible violations of Title IX with the OSU Title IX Coordinator, Mackenzie Wilfong, J.D., Director of Affirmative Action, 408 Whitehurst, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078, (405) 744-5371 or (405) 744-5576 (fax). This publication, issued by Oklahoma State University as authorized by the Assistant Athletic Director, POSSE, was printed by Royle printing at a cost of $1.12 per issue. 10,000/May 2011/#3714.

Special Thanks T h e Ok l a h o m a S tat e U n i v e r s i t y At h l e t i c D e pa rt m e n t wo u l d l i k e to t h a n k John Clerico f o r h i s v i s i o n a n d d e d i cat i o n to o u r at h l e t i c p ro g r a m s. H i s g e n e ro s it y h a s m a d e P O S S E m ag a z i n e p o ss i b l e .


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Being l abeled a donor is as easy as buying an OSU T-shirt Look for the label.

We get a percentage of the wholesale cost of the item (which) goes to support the general scholarship fund for both athletics and academics.

8 May 2011

That’s what all the licensing ads say. Specifically, they’re telling you to look for the holographic sticker bearing the logo for the Collegiate Licensing Company. That little sticker means the manufacturer is officially approved to sell OSU-branded gear, and everything from soda cozies to T-shirts, to lawn gnomes, keychains and flags. There are even OSU branded coffins for the eternally Orange faithful. That said … “We do not lead the country in licensed casket sales,” says Kurtis Mason, OSU’s administrator of trademarks and licensing. His office is littered with t-shirts, hats and miscellaneous OSU items. There’s even a serving tray with the brand … branded … on it. Mason rides shotgun on all of OSU’s licensing activities. He’s the point man for brokering licensing agreements with anyone who wants to make something OSU-related. If they want to turn a profit by using OSU’s identity, they have to go through him. Licensing is important to OSU in many different ways. “It helps control our brand,” says Mason. “It helps us control how our image is portrayed in the public.”

For example, licensing enables OSU to make sure vendors are using the official OSU colors and the official OSU logos in ways that reflect positively on the university. Furthermore, licensing ensures that when others are profiting off the university’s brand, the university is getting its share of the revenue, which then goes toward helping students get an education. “We get a percentage of the wholesale cost of the item,” says Mason. “That percentage goes to help support the general scholarship fund for both athletics and academics.” “Apparel is the biggest contributor. Especially women’s apparel. Women make the financial decisions in the house, so adding things like the Victoria’s Secret Pink apparel line has been huge.” Mason says there have also been large increases in sales of OSU-branded boots, which are offered by four or five different companies. With literally hundreds of licensees creating and selling OSU gear, OSU would have a tough time keeping up with it if not for the partnership with the CLC. “They assist us with the application process and with royalty collections,” says Mason. “We would have to have an office of

five to 10 people to do it properly if we did it in-house.” The CLC also helps ensure everything sold bearing OSU’s logos has been produced in proper working conditions, and is in accordance with OSU’s standards. Once a licensees has the stamp of approval from OSU and the CLC, they can begin selling OSU-branded products. Mason works diligently to make sure OSU fans can get OSU gear when and where they want it, such as Target, Walmart and other retailers. OSU does pretty well in merchandising. Pistol Pete and the brand sell, especially in Oklahoma and Texas. “We’re in the top 30 of the CLC,” says Mason, “which essentially means we’re in the top 30 in the country. There’s a huge level of support for OSU by Oklahomans. Our alumni and fans are very loyal. They want to wear OSU gear on a weekly or even daily basis. The university needs that support in order to compete with Texas and OU. It’s a multi-million dollar

revenue stream.”

If you would like more information on OSU licensing or trademarks, contact Kurtis Mason at 405-744-6238 (or via email: kurtis.mason@okstate.edu).


Look for the label Help OSU by buying only licensed products.

AÂ portion of your purchase price goes to support scholarships and other university programs.

For everything a Cowboy fan needs, LIKE the Oklahoma State University: Live Orange Merchandise page on Facebook. Information on merchandising discounts, new stores and new apparel is updated regularly.


10 Photography by

May 2011

Gary Lawson


11


12 May 2011


13

Photography by

Gary Lawson


They Keep Coming Back Brian and Lindsay McDowell met at OSU. They just didn’t meet while they were attending OSU. As would be fitting for a couple who recently got a suite in Boone ­Pickens Stadium, Brian and Lindsay met after they’d both attended a football game, and then met during postgame festivities on The Strip. “It was Dad’s Day,” Lindsay says. “Brian’s brother was still in school, so Brian was in town hanging out with him. His brother knew some people I knew, and that’s how we met.” “We actually met at the Wormy Dog,” says Brian. “And then after that, I got her contact information and emailed her. How corny is that? We had our first date the next weekend.”

They could’ve met while they were both attending OSU, however. Brian graduated in 1998 with a degree in microbiology, and after attended the OSU Center for Health Sciences. Lindsay graduated in 1999 with a Bachelor’s in public relations, before going on to attend law school elsewhere in the state. Both credit their degrees for their career success. “I wanted the writing experience,” says Lindsay. “I thought that if I changed my mind and didn’t want to practice law, PR would be a good profession. Plus, there’s a lot of writing involved with Law. A lot of what you do when you are arguing your position, you do it in writing and then submit it to the court. And all of law school was writing.” Lindsay currently practices law at Rhodes Hieronymus in downtown Tulsa, specializing in litigation defense. “With litigation, there are always new cases and interesting facts,” she

14 May 2011 Photo by

Phil Shockley

says. “I get to meet a lot of interesting people, and I like being in the courtroom. It can be exciting and fun, and sometimes scary. I don’t know that it’s quite as exciting as it looks on TV, but there are moments.” Brian credits his OSU adviser for steeling his resolve to becoming a doctor. “My academic adviser told me I would never be accepted to medical school,” says Brian. “She put a fire in my belly, so maybe she told me what I needed to hear. I took it as a dare.” Brian now has a thriving pediatrics practice in Owasso, and like his wife, enjoys his work. “It’s the best job in the world,” he says. “I love kids and I was in medicine, so it was an easy decision for me. I interned with


Dr. Julie Morrow, She’s a D.O. who also went to OSU. I spent two months with her and just knew.” Both Lindsay and Brian knew early in their lives they’d attend Oklahoma State. “Both my parents went to OSU,” says Lindsay, who grew up in Sand Springs. “I was always an OSU fan. It’s the only school I applied to. I liked the campus and the small-town feel. It wasn’t too far from home.” Brian’s parents didn’t have any particular allegiance to either of the big state schools. Other elements factored into his decision. For one, he’s from Kingfisher. “You pretty much just go to OSU,” says Brian. “I was always an OSU fan.” Just to be clear, when Brian says “fan,” he means the kind who might, for instance, own multiple Orange vehicles. In his case, there’s an Orange Ford Truck and a Cadillac.

“I’ve basically gone to all the men’s basketball and football games since 1993,” says Brian. “We get happy just driving that way,” says Lindsay. “All our good friends talk about moving back to Stillwater and starting a compound.” The past few seasons, the McDowells have had club level seats in the football stadium, and have been contributing to the Athletic Department for years. Recently, they took their involvement to the next level, procuring a suite in BPS through Brian’s medical practice. “Why not a suite?” says Brian. “They are awesome. We’ve had the club seats for years, but we wanted to make a more significant donation.” “It’s a family thing for us,” says Lindsay. “With a suite, everyone can come with us, so we get to enjoy the games with the whole family. And it’s easier with Maisie. Hopefully, we’ll indoctrinate her now.”

It’s hard not to be excited about that if you’ve been a longtime follower of the programs. It feels like we’re finally almost there.” “I bleed orange and black,” he says. The McDowells, who married in 2002, have been attending OSU sporting events together since that special post-game celebration on The Strip. They’ve had season tickets for men’s basketball since Gallagher-Iba Arena was expanded. “I’ve probably become a larger sports fan since graduation than I was when I was in school,” says Lindsay. “It’s a great way to stay connected and see friends.”

“We’re telling her we’ll only pay for her school if she goes to OSU,” says Brian, chuckling. Whether that tactic bears fruit they won’t know for a few more years, but in the meantime, they’re enjoying one of the longest sustained periods of success in Cowboy football history right now. “It’s a great time to be a Cowboy,” says Brian. “I’ve been through some rough seasons. I sat through a game in the rain. It was Homecoming. We were playing Colorado. There were maybe 5,000 people left in the

stadium, and I thought, ‘Why am I sitting here watching us get our butt kicked?’” But he stayed until the end of the game, and to this day, Brian and Lindsay always stay until the game is over and the alma mater has been sung. They just savor the experience of being OSU fans. “It’s a connection with people even when you don’t really know them,” says Lindsay. “You can talk about the good times and commiserate about the bad times, but you can never really relax until the end.” “It’s so different now than it was five or 10 years ago,” says Brian. “The dedication to the facilities and the infrastructure of the programs … It’s hard not to be excited about that if you’ve been a longtime follower of the programs. It feels like we’re finally almost there.” Like many other donors these days, the McDowells credit Boone Pickens for inspiring them to give more to the university, but they also give the current athletic director a lot of credit. “You have to give Mike Holder credit for changing the mindset that the status quo is okay,” says Brian. “Success breeds success,” adds Lindsay. “Look at what’s happened. The team started doing well and the fans got excited and the gameday atmosphere got better.” “It’s a totally different gameday experience now,” says Brian. “I guess that’s what football games were missing before. The experience.”

15


1  T. Boone &    Madeleine Pickens   6,082,506 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12.

Malone & Amy Mitchell Sherman & Eloise Smith John Clerico Karsten Manufacturing W & W Steel Co. Ross & Billie McKnight Dennis & Karen Wing Walt & Peggy Helmerich III A.J. & Susan Jacques Ed & Jana Evans Robert A. Funk

13. Mike & Robbie Holder    64,674 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36.

ONEOK, Inc. Harold & Joyce Courson Gary & Jerri Sparks Dennis & Cindy Reilley Vickie & Tucker Link Foundation Watson Family Foundation Joe & Connie Mitchell Stillwater National Bank Patrick & Patricia Cobb Kent & Margo Dunbar Ken & Jimi Davidson Richard & Barbara Bogert Bob Howard RCB Bank Chad Clay Joullian & Co Anonymous Donor James & Mary Barnes OG&E Flintco, Inc. OSU President’s Office Anonymous Donor Garland & Penny Cupp

OSU Athletics Priority Point System The Priority Point System provides a fair, consistent and transparent method of providing benefits to donors in exchange for their financial investments in OSU athletics.

18 MAY 2011

37. Lew & Suzanne Meibergen    29,212 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55. 56. 57. 58. 59. 60. 61. 62.

Vicki & Jim Click Sparks Financial Greg & Rhonda Casillas Bob & Kay Norris Blueknight Energy Partners, LP Bryant J. Coffman Jon & Suzanne Wiese Philip & Shannon Smith Brad & Margie Schultz Andy Johnson Atlas Paving Company Jameson Family, LLC Jay & Connie Wiese OSU Foundation David Bradshaw Ike & Mary Beth Glass Sally Sparks KNABCO Corp Thomas & Barbara Naugle Griff & Mindi Jones Chesapeake Energy Inc. Sandra M. Lee Berkeley Manor Enterprises Les & Cindy Dunavant Calvin & Linda Anthony

THE

Donors gain points three ways:

Contributions: All current and lifetime contributions (cash or stock) are worth 3 points per $100 donation. Planned (deferred) gifts in the new Leave a Legacy Endowment Campaign will receive 1 point per $100.

Commitment: Donors will earn one point each year for purchasing season tickets (one point per sport annually), as well as one point for each year of POSSE donations.

Connection with the University: Donors (or their spouses) who are OSU Alumni receive a one-time 10 point bonus, as do OSU faculty/staff and letterwinners.

Points never diminish and will carry over to subsequent years. Donors retain all previously earned Priority Points in their giving history. For questions about the POSSE Priority Point System, email posse@okstate.edu or call us at 405.744.7301.

How Do My Points Rank as of APRIL 19, 2011? Points Rank

130,975

20,762

50

10,512

100

Top 5

4,734

250

2,342

500

1,085

1,000

351

2,500

75

5,000

15

7,500


63. Mark & Lisa Snell     19,648 64. 65. 66. 67. 68. 69. 70. 71. 72. 73. 74. 75. 76. 77. 78. 79. 80. 81. 82. 83. 84. 85. 86. 87. 88. 89.

Neal & Jeanne Patterson Richard & Joan Welborn American Fidelity Mark & Beth Brewer Anonymous Donor K.D. & Leitner Greiner Lambert Construction Harvey & Donna Yost Jerry & Lynda Baker Scott & Kim Verplank Ameristar Ed & Mary Malzahn Southwest Filter Co. David LeNorman John & Gail Shaw Wittwer Construction BancFirst Barry & Roxanne Pollard Johnsons of Kingfisher Doug & Nickie Burns The Foothills Foundation Jerry & Rae Winchester Austin & Betsy Kenyon Bank of Oklahoma Larry Bump Steve & Jennifer Grigsby

112. A-Cross Ranch    11,821

90. 91. 92. 93. 94. 95. 96. 97. 98. 99. 100. 101. 102. 103. 104. 105. 106. 107. 108. 109. 110. 111.

AEI Corporation — Oklahoma Russ & Julie Teubner John & Jerry Marshall Tom & Sandy Wilson James D. Carreker Russ Harrison & Natalie Shirley Thomas Winton Diane & Steve Tuttle Stan & Shannon Clark Brent & Mary Jane Wooten Bill & Claudean Harrison Chandler USA, Inc. Jack & Joyce Stuteville Anonymous Donor Emrick’s Van & Storage Terry & Martha Barker Norman & Suzanne Myers Larry & Shirley Albin Ron & Marilynn McAfee James H. Williams Jay & Fayenelle Helm Mike & Kristen Gundy

150

AS of APRIL 19, 2011

113. 114. 115. 116. 117. 118. 119. 120. 121. 122. 123.

SST Software Bob & Tammie Tway Shaw’s Gulf Dennis & Bonnie Smith Darton & Jamie Zink F & M Bank & Trust Jim Vallion Mike & Judy Johnson Greg & Kay Massey John & Patti Brett Seidle Foundation

124. Randy & Pati Thurman    10,275 125. 126. 127. 128. 129. 130. 131. 132. 133. 134. 135. 136. 137. 138. 139. 140. 141. 142. 143. 144. 145. 146. 147. 148. 149. 150.

David & Marellie Littlefield Titleist & FootJoy Worldwide Chris & Julie Bridges Bob & Mary Haiges John & Sue Taylor Ron Stewart Z-Equipment, LLC Bill & Laurie Dobbs Mark & Susan Morrow Randall & Carol White Ed & Kathy Raschen OSU Center for Health Sciences Bill & Karen Anderson The Siegenthaler Family Henry Wells Chip & Cindy Beaver The Bank of America Drummond Investments Cheryl & Tom Hamilton Fred & Kellie Harlan Connie & Stephen Tatum Jack Bowker Ford Jack Allen Jr. Pixley Lumber Co. Tulsa World John Dunn Jr.


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xx xx xx xx x22 x Photo by

may 2011

Phil Shockley

x x x x x

x x x x x

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Jordan Oliver caps perfect season with NCAA title

xxxxxxxx


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One Down,

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Gold to Go OSU’s latest national champion is accustomed to winning championships. Jordan Oliver, who wrestles

At the NCAA National Champion-

for OSU at 133 pounds, won three

ships, Oliver pinned his first two

state titles while in high school, and

opponents, then won a major deci-

finished his prep career with a 175-5

sion against his third.

record, which included a perfect

He won the title against Boise State’s

40-0 senior year.

Andrew Hochstrasser, who had previ-

Oliver’s been a wrecking ball in

ously lost only to Oliver on the season.

freestyle wrestling while at OSU. In

A couple weeks since the title,

the summer of 2009, he earned a

Oliver is already working on getting

bronze medal in the 60kg bracket at

better for the upcoming freestyle

the FILA Junior World Championships

season. POSSE caught up with

in Ankara, Turkey, and won the U.S.

him right before voluntary freestyle

Junior Freestyle Championship in

practice, and he took a whole fifteen

Las Vegas. The longer the freestyle

minutes off to talk with us.

season, the more victories and accolades Oliver acquired. He redshirted his first year at OSU,

P   We can all look at the stats, but what was the biggest

but then had a remarkable freshman

difference between your

season, finishing with a 32-4 record

freshman season and your

and earning All-America status.

sophomore season?

This year, he tore through the season undefeated on his way to the NCAA Championship. Out of 22 matches before the Big 12 Championships, he had five major decision victories, six technical falls and eight pins. He won a major decision against OU’s Jordan Keller in the championship match to win his second consecutive Big 12 title.

Oliver: Definitely coming into this season, I made sure my weight was under control. That was a huge factor in practice and in my matches. With my weight under control, I focused more on what I needed to do and what I needed to learn, and going in and getting better every day. Making sure every day I was grinding it out. Last season, I couldn’t really do that. Usually, I’d go into practice thinking about how much weight I needed to lose instead of what I needed to get better at. continues

23


I’m just taking one week off. I’m going to start lifting and running and getting in the room every day …. Ultimately, I just want to make the freestyle world championship team.”

24

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xxxxx xxxxxxxx


P   What was the biggest adjustment you had to make between high school and OSU?

Other guys would come out and really attack me and work the leg attacks. All in all, I definitely did not let it

O   A big part was getting my leg

xxxx

affect me. I just kept focused. It’s a

attacks off and hand fighting, and

long season. I just took it one week

cleaning up my set-ups to where I’m

at a time, and kept doing things that

shooting higher-percentage leg attacks.

would make me better.

Just picking up a lot of hand fighting and making sure I’m keeping constant pressure on people. My set-ups were

P   How would you make sure you got better every week? What did you do to improve?

a big part of what I needed to work on.

xxxxx

Mat wrestling was also a huge

O   I would always go over my

factor. You need to get riding time

film from the previous week, looking

in college. You need to be able to

for shots that were there that I didn’t

get a minute of riding time, because

take, and things that would help me be

that’s an extra point. Also, being able

more aggressive. I looked for finishes,

to come off the bottom and do one

and whether or not I was getting into

move after another after another.

my single and not finishing it … Any

P   You were described as as much more aggressive this season compared to your freshman year. Would you agree with that?

small things that I could improve for the next week.

P   How much of a typical match is a mental chess game? How much are you trying to outthink the other guy?

O   Yes, by getting my weight under control, I had a good gas tank. My body

O   When I go out there, it’s not really

wasn’t being affected. It let me go as

outthinking them. It’s knowing that I am

hard as I wanted. I never had to hold

prepared and I’ve trained hard and I’m

back or even think about being tired. I

able to go as hard as I want. It’s more of

wasn’t scared to go out and try to put

a mental perspective of knowing I can

points on the board. And I knew that I

go out there and dominate. Knowing

had practiced and trained to be able to

you can do anything you want.

go as hard as I wanted.

P   Did being ranked No. 1 in your weight class all year affect how people came after you? Did you let it bother you? Was it in your head at all?

P   In your mind, are you dictating the course of the match to your opponent?

O   I do. As soon as the whistle blows, I want a high-paced match. I’m always

O   I definitely did not let it bother me.

looking to put points on the board and to

I just stayed focused and kept wrestling

get off my leg attacks. I think that raises

and trying to get better one match at

the pace and intensity of the match. I

a time.

definitely think I dictate it.

Guys would come out and wrestle me different. I’d get some who would Photo by

Gary Lawson

just try to keep the match close, keep it to hand fighting and blocking me.

continues

25


P   Let’s talk for a minute

grabbing my own ankle and turning

P   Is that something you

about the “Jones Move,” or

my hip down and putting pressure

should be able to do against

what our Sports Information

on his shoulder, so I’m trapping his

another Division I wrestler?

guys are trying to rebrand the

single-leg arm between my leg. I have

“Oliver Twist.” It’s a takedown

so much pressure he can’t pull his

O   I’m still hitting my single-leg wrap

counter that turns into not only

arm out and is stuck in the position.

up that I used in first grade. It hasn’t

a takedown itself, but a tilt with

My free leg, I kick over the top of his

failed me yet and I believe with the Jones Move it’s the same thing. I believe that

nearfall points. Can you explain

body, and when I do that, it rotates

the origin of that move and

me and keeps the pressure on

if you work hard enough to get points

its name?

his shoulder.

on the board and make guys wrestle

With my free hand, I go over the

O   It’s called the Jones Move

and to continue to have a high pace

top of his leg and under to grab

and intensity, moves are going to be

because when I was little and used to

basically a ball-and-chain if I have the

there that you didn’t think would be

go to State, there was this kid who won

Whizzer, and with my free leg, I kick

there unless you go ahead and try them.

a state title with this move. His name

over the top. It might take three or four

was Jermaine Jones. He was from

kicks, maybe one or two, just depend-

my style of putting pressure on guys,

Westchester. I watched him do it when

ing on how they are defending it.

creating action and scoring points,

people were getting to the single-leg on him. I always called it the Jermaine Jones Tilt. The move is just a counter to a single leg where I Whizzer* down,

I’m kicking over the top to try to roll

sometimes and that’s a good move I

pressure is so tight on his single-leg

can hit.

arm, it kind of hurts, it makes him lift up. A couple kicks and over he goes.

Photo by

xxxx xxxx xxxxx

Gary Lawson

may 2011

Guys, they don’t think. They lose their train of thought. They’re getting in a scramble and they are not

I would always go over my film from the previous week, looking for shots that were there that I didn’t take, and things that would help me be more aggressive.”

26

guys are going to fall in on my leg

them through. Every time I kick, the

putting pressure on the shoulder. I’m

xxxxxxxx

With a high intensity match and

x


P   What’s your offseason

thinking about that move. It just so happens to come up and I go for it.

look like? It’s not really an

It’s always something I look for.

off-season. You’re beginning

Coach actually yelled at me. He wants

freestyle wrestling, correct?

me to sprawl and get my hips on him,

O   I’m just taking one week off.

but I’m so used to doing the tilt that when they shoot, I just give them my

I’m going to start lifting and running

leg then go for it.

and getting in the room every day and touching up on my freestyle. I’m definitely

P   How much has Coach

is an Olympic gold medalist. Eric

looking toward going to the World Team

Smith helped you improve, and

Guerrero was on the Olympic team.

Trials. Maybe next month, do Waterloo.

in what ways has he made you a

All these guys are good resources

better wrestler?

for me to help me achieve my

Ultimately, I just want to make the freestyle world championship team.

ultimate goal.

O   He’s had a huge impact on me. From the first day I got here, he just made

P   How much has freestyle

sure that when I’m drilling, I’m doing it

wrestling helped your Collegiate

right. Or when I’m moving, he’ll make a

(folkstyle) wrestling, and do you

little bit of an adjustment so that it feels

have any trouble going back and

a little better.

forth between the two?

He doesn’t try to change my style, but tries to add more to it. My style is similar to his, how he used to

O   I don’t really have trouble going back and forth. Sometimes I’ll forget in

wrestle, and that’s a huge part in why

practice where it’s not folkstyle and I’ll

I’m working so hard for Coach Smith.

try to start scrambling and I’m giving

He helps me with all the small things.

up points, but usually it’s not a hard

Anytime that I don’t see something

transition. The only hard part transition

that he does, he makes sure to help

is the top and bottom.

xxxxx

me. Everything I can get better on he knows.

Freestyle has helped me a lot in my folkstyle just on mat wrestling and being able to turn people. On bottom,

P   How did you end up at

if I do give up a wrist on a two-on-one,

OSU instead of somewhere in

I’m not getting turned because I know

Pennsylvania?

how to shift my hips. But also, it’s helped with owning the mat. Keeping

O   Ever since I was little, my goal was to be an Olympic champ. Coming

pressure on a guy. In freestyle, you can’t go out of bounds. If you go

out of high school and having all these

out of bounds, it’s a point, and that

different schools looking at me, OSU

transfers over into folkstyle. I think it

just clicked right away. Coach Smith is

helps me own the mat and dominate

a two-time Olympic medalist. He’s been

the mat.

there. He knows what it takes. He’s definitely going to do the best to take me there as long as I’m keeping up with it. He’s a huge factor in helping me achieve my goal, he and all the other coaches around me. Kenny Monday

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx The “Whizzer,” or “Wizzer,” is xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx primarily used in reference xxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx to a takedown counter. Holds, xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx moves, maneuvers have regional xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxx terminology differences. Okie xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx wrestlers sometimes call this the xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx hiplock “situation,” and only call it xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx a Whizzer when it becomes a counter xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx maneuver/move/action. Another xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx coach might actually use it as a verb xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx and say “Whizzer him off your leg.” xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Northerners might use the term xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Whizzer to describe both the match xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx situation and the move. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxx Here, J.O. kind of uses Whizzer in xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx the first situation as his position xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx (He’s “Whizzer down”) facing the xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx mat. The second time he uses it, he’s xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx kind of referencing it as he still has xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx everything trapped or locked in. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx “The Whizzer is applied when xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx someone shoots a single leg onxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx you. You sort of underhook/curl xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx the arm that’s on your leg and lift xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx your opponent up toward your waist, xx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx getting him off your leg.” xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

*The Whizzer

27


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OSU women’s golf coach, Annie Young, leads a team full of potential, but short on experience. continues

29


T

here’s

nothing else OSU women’s golf

coach Annie Young would rather be doing. Young gets to coach for her alma mater, and her

players aren’t afraid of hard work. “We’ve got a very competitive group,” says the

Utah native, fresh from working out with her

team one spring morning. “We haven’t quite had the success we would’ve liked so

far this year, but I know if we keep working at it we will peak at the right time.”

S

30 may 2011

uccess, which she has had since she began coaching in 2008, makes her dream job dreamier. Her first season, her team won its secondstraight Big 12 title and finished in the top-five at the NCAA tournament in 2009. In 2010, Caroline Hedwall won the tournament, becoming the program’s first national champion, and helped her team take eighth-place. That’s pretty good for anybody, much less someone who had never coached before taking their first head-coaching job. Unfortunately, this year has thrown plenty of adversity Young’s way. Her three top-performing players left the program by the start of 2011. Hedwall turned pro after her championship, and later, so did ­Victoria Park. Courtney McKim transferred to Alabama. It’s not out unusual among elite players and top programs. That’s the state of women’s golf these days, says Amy Weeks, Young’s former coach, and OSU’s Associate Athletic Director/Senior Woman Administrator. Fewer events are available for professional players and there’s less money available for winners, Weeks says. The

s t or y

by

  Matt  Elliott    P h i l  S h o c k l e y

P h o t o g r ap h y b y

sport’s leaders have been the same people, largely, for the last 20-years. College players looking to turn pro have few opportunities to leave and succeed. They have to take their opportunities when they come.

D

espite some adversity, Young’s team shows promise, with four freshmen, two sophomores and one junior, all of whom work hard for their coach. They were a combined 32-29-1 headed into the Entrada Classic last March at Brigham Young University. “We’ve got some freshmen who are definitely going to be good in the future,” Young says. Among those is Josephine Janson, the latest in a host of great Swedes to come to OSU, following such Cowgirl greats as Hedwall, Karin Sjodin, Maria Boden and Linda Wessberg. Like many of her OSU predecessors (and successful golfers such as Annika Sörenstam), continues


Just like with any sport, once you recruit a player, it’s a year or two-long process before you adjust to the level of play.

31


Janson is a member of the Swedish National Team. Although she hasn’t yet had a breakout day (the lowest she has scored is a 71), she has potential. Hailing from a small town on Sweden’s southwest coast, Janson was one of the top recruits in the nation last year. She has a tremendous upside, which doesn’t bode well for OSU’s opponents, considering she won the 2007 Swedish Junior Masters and placed ninth at the British Girls Open Championship that same year. “Just like with any sport, once you recruit a player, it’s a year or two-long process before you adjust to the level of play,” Young says. As they become more familiar with the nation’s courses, their scores will go down, Young says. That’s because much of golf is psychological. A lot of it involves working with what a course gives you. Experience not only brings maturity, but improves players’ ability to analyze and adapt. With some hard work, this team could still make a strong run come tournament time in May, Young says. “I believe hard work will go a long way. You don’t have to be the best player coming in. You can get a lot out of your game if you work hard. But that means work hard in everything you do, whether it’s school, golf or your personal life.”

T

o keep her players focused on that goal, the 28-yearold Young has relied on her rare juxtaposition of youth and experience earned back when she was one of OSU’s most decorated players. She won the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship in 2002 and led the United States to a 2004 Curtis Cup win.

32

may 2011

With Weeks as head coach, Young won the conference title in 2004 and made All-Big 12 three times, a time when the Cowgirls came in second at the NCAA Championships, which was the best finish in the program’s history. The next year, under Coach McGraw, she was an All-American and the Big 12 Conference Player of the Year, and helped the Cowgirls take eighth-place at the national championships. That kind of recent success makes players more apt to listen when she speaks. “We try to focus on day-by-day goals instead of ‘let’s go out and win this tournament.’ You don’t go out and shoot a sixty-eight because you think you have to. You have to focus on one shot at a time.” Young’s youth also means players identify with her more than a coach who might be years older. Additionally, she works out with her players; an OSU tradition started by former OSU

you’ve got to adjust to everybody’s learning style,” Young says. “You can’t be afraid to coach one girl one way and coach another girl another way.”

I

t certainly hasn’t been easy. OSU golf has a long tradition of alumni returning to become successful coaches. There’s a great deal of pressure on returning successful players to win as coaches. Young had to hit the ground running at OSU. There was zero room for error. “She was able to handle that as a player, and I remind her of those things today,” says Weeks, who was on the OSU committee that recommended Young’s hiring to replace former coach Laura Matthews. “The difference is, when you’re a player, you’re only responsible for yourself.” In Young, OSU’s tradition of successful alumni golf coaches has continued, and will for years to come.

There’s a great deal of pressure on returning successful players to win as coaches. Young had to hit the ground running at OSU. There was zero room for error. men’s golf coach and athletic director Mike Holder. Not one to accept praise, she credits her peers for helping her when she has needed it. Those include men’s head coach Mike McGraw, assistant coaches Alan Bratton and Josh Fosdick, Senior Associate Athletic Director Dave Martin, and, especially, her former coach, Amy Weeks, who’s invaluable to her as a player and a source of sage advice. “I think the biggest thing I’ve learned over the last three years is

She lives in Stillwater with her husband, Caleb, who sells insurance in Tulsa, and their two dogs, a Labrador retriever and a Jack Russell Terrier/ Lhasa Apso mix.


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34 May 2011

T O N L L WI K C A B N W DO


Olukemi overcomes challenging childhood to become one of the Cowboys’ building blocks for next season

It’s way colder in Stillwater than in Orange County, says Jéan-Paul Olukemi.

“I’m ready to get some hot chocolate and go to bed,” says the weary sophomore swingman from La Habra, Calif. “It’s not supposed to be like this.” Oklahoma was in the midst of a winter storm the likes of which hadn’t been seen in recent memory. Offensive linemen trudging across campus could’ve been mistaken for yetis. Temperatures at the South Pole were warmer. Really. OSU’s men’s basketball team was in the midst of an equally tough continues

story

By

  M AT T   E L L I O T T

35


season; 18-12 overall, 6-10 in the Big 12 before the start of the Big 12 Tournament in March. Olukemi, a junior college recruit playing his first season in Stillwater, has been one of several bright spots for the team, showing flashes of what his 6-foot-5-inch frame can do with a basketball. He showed a knack for getting to the basket while playing his way in and out of third-year Coach Travis Ford’s starting lineup. Olukemi scored 22 and grabbed 11 rebounds in an early upset of the then No. 17 Kansas State Wildcats, good for a Rookie of the Week nod from the Big 12. He scored 21 points during a loss to the Colorado Buffalos, 29 in an overtime victory over Iowa State and 19 during an upset of then No. 14 Missouri. In other games he was streaky. Defenders keyed on his drives and forced him into tough jumpers and layups. Hampered by a slightly slow release on his jumpshots, he was hounded during losses to Baylor, Nebraska and Texas. “I’ve been through it,” Olukemi says. “It started off well. You try to come in and get used to a playing style, how hard you have to play at this level. And it was just a constant battle for me, once I figured out how hard I had to play, how hard I had to focus and start preparing … I’m just trying to take it day by day, really.” He redshirted his freshman year in 2010 and spent that time guarding one of OSU’s all-time greats, James Anderson, during practice, and Anderson could hit any shot he took. So guarding him is a bit like getting your face repeatedly shoved in the mud before you learned to shut your mouth. “We would always talk and laugh about it after practice was over,”

36

May 2011

Olukemi says, “but when we were on the court it was pretty intense. I don’t like getting scored on, and he was always trying to score the ball.” Olukemi is used to playing hard and facing off against talented players. At Vincennes, he was coached by David Ragland, who remembers him as a hard worker and talented freshman. Olukemi was recruited from the ranks of Stoneridge Preparatory School in Simi Valley, Calif., a hotbed of future college basketball players. Former Cowboy and current Cincinnati Bearcat Ibrahima Thomas played there. Olukemi also played AAU ball with the Toronto Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan.

Olukemi credits his mother for keeping the family together and always providing for her children. Today, she works for a trucking company in La Habra. “She takes care of the whole family,” he says. “She works. She feeds us. Provides us with whatever we need.” By the time Olukemi got to Vincennes, he just wanted some calm, Ragland says. “Myself and Brian, my assistant coach, were worried this guy was going to get bored at Vincennes,” he says. “We told him all we have is school and basketball … And he said he likes that.”

“I think he has a mentality that he’s not going to back down from anybody.” Ragland says that forced Olukemi to take on an on-the-court swagger he is still trying to lose at OSU. But it also forced him early on to work harder to keep up with his peers. “I think he has a mentality that he’s not going to back down from anybody,” Ragland says. “When you play against the nation’s top players, and that’s what you’re supposed to be, you play with a little swagger about you.” Adding to that swagger is a tough childhood. An interview in The Tulsa World detailed how his mother separated from her husband when he was a kid, and Olukemi, his mother and his three siblings were left homeless.

continues


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Olukemi started 20 games at Vincennes and averaged more than 14 points per game. He shot better than 50 percent from the field. His team went 22-9 in 2009 and made the first round of the NJCAA district tournament in 2009. “He has a good basketball I.Q.,” Ragland says. “He’s got an outstanding work ethic. If you put him on the floor, he knows how to play, and he’s going to work hard.” Olukemi finished his course requirements at Vincennes in just over a year, Ragland says. That way he could play three years of Division I basketball if he was recruited. That season, coaches knew he was either sleeping or studying if he wasn’t in the gym, he says. He made all A’s and B’s and showed an aptitude for science and other tougher subjects. Understandably, Olukemi was one of the top-ranked junior college recruits in the nation, not just because of his skills, but also because of his extra year of eligibility. And Oklahoma State caught his eye for the same reasons Vincennes did. He was recruited by Assistant Coach Steve Middleton, whom Olukemi says pulled out all the stops to get him to come to OSU. For his first visit as a recruit, team captain Marshall Moses took him to the Cowboy’s inaugural home football game of the 2009 season against Georgia. The Pokes beat the Bulldogs 24-10 and made the cover of Sports Illustrated for the second time in two months. “I thought this school was perfect,” he says. Gallagher-Iba Arena was a big selling point, too. With the fans sitting so close to the court, he had never played anywhere like it before.

“He’s got an outstanding work ethic. If you put him on the floor, he knows how to play, and he’s going to work hard.” “The arena is amazing. It’s one of the best places I’ve ever played in. I enjoy every second of it … Also I knew Coach Ford was going to be right for me. I wouldn’t want to play for somebody who isn’t going to push me. That pretty much put the hook in me.” In his spare time, he enjoys reading and playing chess. But since he came to OSU, he hasn’t read as much as he would like, he says. Studying and basketball cut into his time.

Which is what this interview is doing. It’s cold out. He’s beat. He needs a shower and some hot chocolate. But he can’t go until he answers this question. “What’s the best thing about being a Cowboy?” he says, repeating the question. “You know, there’s a smile on my face right now. There are a lot of good things about being a Cowboy. The people here are really nice. It’s great to represent a school like this. The little kids always want autographs. I just try to enjoy this while I can.” And, one more thing. He likes to dunk. “That’s what I like to do, man. Slam the ball and get everyone hyped. This is like a privilege, you know?”

39


40 May 2011


41 Photography by

Phil Shockley


42 May 2011


Hoffmann Has What It Takes story by

Clay Billman

Photography by

continues

Phil Shockley

43


44 may 2011


organ Hoffmann arrived at Oklahoma State in the fall of 2008 as one of the nation’s top Junior golfers. His résumé boasted wins at the prestigious Polo Junior Golf Classic, Junior Players Championship and the AJGA Houston Invitational. He had advanced to match play at the British Amateur and the U.S. Amateur. Although he wasn’t flashy

(like the trend-setting Californian Rickie Fowler) or a celebrity (like the gregarious Peter Uihlein) or a household name (like OSU legacy Kevin Tway), Hoffmann’s golf game stood shoulder-to-shoulder with OSU’s other recent recruits. As the premier collegiate golf program, OSU often gets the pick of the litter, so it’s no surprise when players do well in their first season on campus. “We were fortunate enough that we had three-straight winners of the Phil Mickelson Award for the nation’s top collegiate freshman (Pablo Martin, 2006; Jonathan Moore, 2007; Rickie Fowler, 2008), so our freshmen were used to stepping up right away, says Head Coach Mike McGraw” But they still have to earn it. As is standard practice for the nation’s top-ranked team, McGraw held three intrasquad qualifying rounds for the first tournament of the year at Olympia Fields, Ill. “Unless there’s something that keeps me from it, I’m going to take my five best players to every tournament,” the coach says. Hoffmann didn’t make the cut. “My first semester of college was crazy,” Hoffmann admits. “The first day I was on campus I set off the fire alarm in my dorm. I got in a car accident. I broke up with my girlfriend. A lot of things were just not going my story continues

45


way. My head wasn’t really on straight for the first qualifying. “But sitting at home and seeing the guys leave just turned me upside down. I practiced my butt off and made it a goal to just forget about everything else and play golf.” “Morgan was so determined that it would not happen again,” McGraw adds. “The disappointment of not making it drove his practice every day. He worked his tail off. It’s a bad feeling for a kid to not make the trip, his teammates are gone, and I just think he didn’t want to have that feeling again.” With his head on straight, Hoffmann qualified for the next tournament, the Ping/Golfweek Preview at Inverness in Toledo, Ohio. Posting scores of 69, 66 and 72, Hoffmann took home a share of the individual title as the Cowboys ran away with the team trophy. “He won his first college tournament and went on to have a fantastic year.” In the 2008-09 campaign, Hoffmann would go on to win the Morris Williams Invitational along with medalist honors at the Big 12 Championships, tying Moore’s mark for most victories by an OSU freshman. He earned first-team All-America status and captured the Mickelson Award, the program’s fourth in a row. His second year in orange, Hoffmann had what could only be described as a “sophomore slump” at a program of OSU’s stature. In 13 starts, he carded 10 top-five finishes (including runner-up to Uihlein at the Preview), and earned second team All-America status.

46 May 2011

Basically, when you back Morgan up against a wall or you get him in his competitive mode, he’ll figure it out. I think his game is on an upswing right now.” — Mike McGraw

“Morgan had a little sophomore slump last year,” McGraw says. “I don’t know if ‘slump’ is the right word, but he didn’t win a golf tournament and didn’t play as well as he did the year before. Ultimately, you should get better as you go along. He didn’t play as well.” “I threw him back into qualifying this past fall. He was exempt from Olympia Fields and played poorly and then played really poorly in the Preview. I said, ‘Morgan you need to go back into qualifying and earn this spot again from your teammates.’ He said, ‘I was wondering if you were going to ask me that. I think I need to be there, too.’ In the subsequent qualifying rounds at Karsten, Hoffmann shot 71, 72, 69, earning his way back into the starting five. “Basically, when you back Morgan up against a wall or you get him in his competitive mode, he’ll figure it out. So putting him back in the qualifying is exactly what he needed. This year he’s been focused and playing really well. I think his game is on an upswing right now.” With a 10-under par performance, Hoffmann captured the individual title at the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters in April. Along with Uihlein and Tway, he helped lead the top-ranked Pokes to seven team titles in 2010-11, including the Big 12 Championship, where he won medalist honors for the second time at Prairie Dunes. The 2011 NCAA Golf Championships will be held at Karsten Creek, OSU’s home course. After near-misses and heartbreak the last two seasons, Hoffmann says the team is determined to win it all this year. “My main goal this whole year is to win the national title as a team, because it would just mean the world to me,” Hoffmann says. “I’ve just pictured in my head so many times running around on the 18th green screaming and celebrating. It would just be the greatest thing to be there embracing your teammates, thinking about how hard we worked for so long and prepared ourselves for this moment.” c o n t i n u e s p. 5 1


Match Game Cowboy Coach Focused on First Place, Not Format story by

Clay Billman

R

anked No. 1 in

In each of the past two years,

had our chance to win. We didn’t. It’s

the PING/Golfweek

OSU’s team total would have been

rankings most of

good enough to take home the title

the season, and

under the old system. The Pokes won

OSU will not always be in the driver’s

set to tee it up on

the stroke play portion handily at the

seat come tournament time.

their home course,

last two national tournaments before

our fault.” McGraw is quick to point out that

“Someday we’re going to be about

the Oklahoma State Cowboys are

falling in match play. Last year, OSU

the 7th or 8th ranked team, play

the odds-on favorite to win the 2011

was edged out by Augusta State 3-1-1

pretty good, get in there and win

NCAA Championships. From May 31

in the finals.

through June 5 at Stillwater’s Karsten

Cowboy fans were quick to decry

Creek, the tournament will feature

the new format, and weren’t shy

72 holes of stroke play, followed by

about sharing their opinions with the

match play between the remaining

head coach, but Mike McGraw won’t

top eight teams .

play that card.

three matches to win the National Championship. I’m not going to feel any less happy that we won. “The format is fine. It’s the only format we have, so I’m embracing it.” A master motivator, McGraw says

The championship format was

“I’ve heard it every day since

to blame the system would hamstring

changed in 2009 from the traditional

Georgia beat us in the first round

this year’s team coming into the 2011

stroke play format (tallying the scores

in ’09. ‘We should’ve won.’ I always

NCAA tournament.

of the lowest four golfers on each

answer the same way. We had a

team per round), and added three

better chance teeing it up that week

rounds of match play (five golfers

at the National Championships than

he says. “I’ve taught my players not

from two teams matched one-on-

any other team. We were No. 1 ranked

to look at a format. It has nothing

one for 18 holes).

coming in both years. We were the best team playing the best golf. We

“I know what people are saying. But my kids are hearing the opposite,”

continues

47


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to do with what we do. We’re going

gut-wrenching, and last year was the

The confident coach believes the

to go out there and try to win the

most inconsolable I’ve ever seen five

pressure will be on teams that don’t

national championship, regardless. If

athletes in my life. Ever. But I think that

get to call the challenging Karsten Creek course home year-round.

I perpetuate that ‘woe is me’ attitude

disappointments are probably going

and say we didn’t win because the

to be the best thing that Kevin, Peter

“We’re playing a golf course that’s

format got us, then we’ve got no

and Morgan have ever faced in their

the greatest home course advantage

chance to win this year.

golfing careers.

in the history of the NCAA’s. Our team

“If they tell us we’ve got to go out

“What they need to remember is,

in the parking lot and put on a singlet

that’s really not adversity. You think it

knows that course inside and out.

and wrestle around in the gravel, then

is, but it’s really not. Adversity is find-

tall, over-seeded rye in the roughs. It

I’ve just hired a new assistant coach.

ing out you’ve got cancer. Adversity is

will be tough. Every coach and team

The greens will be firm and fast, with

His name is John Smith. Because

losing your spouse. This is a very safe

that makes that drive into Karsten

we’re going to go figure out how to

kind of adversity. The way I look at it,

Creek, that big horseshoe around the

wrestle better than anybody at the

they needed that. In order to be great

clubhouse, the whole time all they’re

national t­ ournament. ”

someday, you’ve got to have a lot of

thinking about is the carnage that has

disappointment. It’s got to be there.”

existed out there through the years.

The pressure of being the front-

It’s legendary. A bunch of them are

Looking at the O-State roster, McGraw has an enviable group of golfers, including first-team All-

runner again doesn’t seem to faze

beat before they ever drive through

Americans Peter Uihlein (the reigning

McGraw. In fact, he embraces it.

the gates.

U.S. Amateur champion), Morgan

“I’m thankful I have that pressure.

Hoffmann and Kevin Tway. It’s no

What if I were at a school where they

something historic this year, and

secret the Cowboys will be the team

didn’t care if you ever qualified for

that’s what we’ve set out to do.”

to beat in Stillwater.

Nationals? I couldn’t coach at a place

“First of all, Peter won the U.S. Am at match play. Morgan has been

“I think we’ve got a chance to do

that didn’t want you to be great. I love it.”

a quarterfinalist three times in the U.S. Am, and won the Polo at match play. Kevin Tway won a U.S. Junior at match play and was a semifinalist the next year. So as far as I can tell, our guys have won more than their share of matches. You couldn’t find a golf team in the United States of America that’s won more individual matches in match play than our team has. So it’s a better format for us. “We’re the top-ranked team, and we’ve got the home course advantage,” McGraw adds. “All we’ve got to do is win matches. Now let’s go win them.” McGraw says the sting of defeat felt the last two seasons can be a valuable education for his players. “I don’t even look back at all, only to take what we can learn from it,” he says. “The loss in 2009 was

49


Hoffmann says playing in Stillwater is an advantage for the Cowboys. “Personally, I think there’s less pressure, because it’s at our home course. We’re going to have thousands of fans out here, our families and friends. Plus, we know the course, the ins and outs, every little inch of it. “And we have the willpower and the drive to win this one, because we’ve had heartbreak on the last two,” he adds. “We’re so ready to do well and win one for Oklahoma State. We’re going to be so prepared that we’ll know exactly what we’re doing so we can just go out there and have fun.”

F

ADVENTUROUS SPIRIT

or Hoffmann, fun comes in many forms. But sitting on the couch isn’t one of them. “I just love to practice, and when I’m not, I can’t sit still,” he says. “Most of the guys on the team play video games, but I think it’s a waste of time. I’d rather be outside doing something fun. Anything random. Playing basketball. I’ll go and play racquetball sometimes, go workout, go for a run, anything that’s active. I just can’t sit in my room all day.” “He does not like the mundane, the normal routine,” McGraw adds. “He hates a routine. If he had his choice, he’d climb a mountain one day, he’d jump out of an airplane the next day. He’s taken a flight class here at Oklahoma State. He’s a very adventurous kid.” Hoffmann is also adventurous in his golf game, although he appears more conservative on the outside. “I would never do the Puma/Rickie deal,” he says, referring to his former teammate’s colorful wardrobe. “I can’t wear pink pants.” “People see him as very stoic, conservative, Point A to Point B,” McGraw says. “You could get that impression, but he’s really a very aggressive golfer. Possibly to a fault. He’s made some unnecessary bogeys. But he’s a very aggressive kid by nature.”

Coach McGraw said it’s a benefit to come to Oklahoma State because the weather is so up and down, that it teaches you to play in anything.” — Mike McGraw “I played ice hockey growing up,” Hoffmann says. “I was in the penalty box a lot. I like to skate fast, do everything fast.” “I’m certainly not going to change the way I play, in an aggressive manner, but I’m going to try and hone it to win more, which obviously means eliminating bogeys. I need to play smarter in some situations and not go at every pin. If there’s a tucked pin, I really want to go at it, because it’s a challenge. I love adversity and I love challenges coming at me, because I want to overcome them. But it’s hard for me right now to hit for the middle of a green, but I know it’s the right thing to do. I think over time and with experience, I’ll get better at that.” As a coach, McGraw says he doesn’t like to second-guess his players’ shot selection. “It’s his game, and if he thinks the best way to play No. 12 at Karsten Creek when the wind is a little bit behind you is to knock a driver right on the green, I’m all for it. He drove the green in the Regional two years ago. If that’s the best way for you to shoot the lowest score you can, have at it. The golf club is in his hands. He’s the one that’s controlling it. “We definitely talk about things after rounds. What did you learn? What could you do better?” Hoffmann says he doesn’t let a bad start get to him. “The way I look at it, if I double (bogey) my first hole, I still have 17 holes to make birdies on, and I can still have a great round. I think most of my great rounds have been when I bogeyed the first hole, because it’s like a comeback.” continues

51


The strength of Hoffmann’s game is his driving, McGraw says. Not just distance, but accuracy. “He’s a really wonderful driver of a golf ball. He hits it long enough to be considered long, but he’s very straight. If he had a weakness it would probably be his short game, but he has worked so hard on it lately I’m not sure it’s a weakness anymore.” “Golf is a game of ups and downs, and you can’t stay on top or down low the whole time,” Hoffmann says. “You’ve got to keep working on your game and I think if you want it, your time will come. I’ve been working pretty hard. “I’m always trying to work on my weaknesses and strengths at the same time, but lately I’ve had a blessing in disguise,” he adds. “I sprained my ankle playing basketball and was on crutches for a while. All I could do was putt and chip, and that was probably the part of my game that I needed to work on at the most. I feel like I’ve gotten so much better, and it’s been a confidence boost. But Coach McGraw wasn’t too happy when he heard about it.”

52 May 2011

I sprained my ankle playing basketball and was on crutches for a while. All I could do was putt and chip, and that was probably the part of my game that I needed to work on at the most.” — Morgan Hoffmann

M

WEATHER OR NOT

cGraw had his eye on Hoffmann since his sophomore season in high school, but wasn’t sure if he could convince the Wyckoff, N.J., native to commit to Oklahoma State. “It was kind of unusual recruitment process. When he filled out his recruiting questionnaire, Morgan said he’d lived in New Jersey his whole life and was tired of playing in cold weather, so he probably wouldn’t go anywhere that had cold winters. I didn’t really have any grand ideas that I might sign him up, just because I thought that weather was too big of a hurdle we had to jump.” “Coming from New Jersey, I wanted to get as far away as I could from it,” Hoffmann says. “That’s why I was looking at California and Florida to go to college, but Coach McGraw said it’s a benefit to come to Oklahoma State because the weather is so up and down, that it teaches you to play in anything.” Uihlein, another top target in OSU’s recruiting class, had known Hoffmann through the Junior circuit and convinced his friend to at least visit OSU before ruling it out. Hoffmann obliged, and scheduled an unofficial visit for January of 2007. “I don’t know if you are a weather historian, but in January of ’07 we had about an eight-inch ice storm,” McGraw recalls. “It came down as sleet and was on the ground for two weeks. Morgan couldn’t even get into the state. The airports were closed. They had to postpone their trip for about a week. “The way he got his first view of Karsten Creek was in my Jeep. There was still ice everywhere. You couldn’t see any grass. We just drove on the cart path. He thought it was kind of strange, but he committed to us about two weeks after Peter did.” “My thought process was really open, and my plan was to visit six different schools, because I wanted to go and see all my options,” Hoffmann says. “I came to Oklahoma State for my first visit and just fell in love with it the second I stepped


on campus. I didn’t really need to see the course. The people, the clubhouse, just walking down the hall, the history, everything that Oklahoma State is, just wowed me. I thought it was perfect. Everybody here is so nice, and the team was perfect for me. “Right after I left I told my dad I didn’t want to go anywhere else. I didn’t even visit other schools. I called all the other coaches and paid my respects to them, and said ‘I’m sorry, I fell in love with this place, and I know where I want to go.’”

C

MATCH GAME

lose friends off the course, Hoffmann and Uihlein are fierce rivals on the links. But golf is an individual sport and someone has to lose. And so it was at the 2010 U.S. Amateur. “Before it even starts, you look at the brackets to see who you’re going to be up against and who you could be playing,” Hoffmann says. “We saw each other matched up in the quarterfinals, and we both knew that the other was playing great that week and it was possible we could meet. And we knew it was going to be heartbreak on either side because it we’re both great friends, roommates, teammates … It was going to be hard either way, but we’re great friends off the course and extreme competitors and want to kill each other on the course. It was the same in that match.” “(OSU Assistant Coach) Alan Bratton said it was the best golf he’d seen in any match that he’d ever seen in his life,” McGraw says. “The guys were tied at seven under par going into the last hole. They just both played so well, it was unbelievable. It was a perfectly played match. No thrown away shots, none of that. They were just making birdies to win holes. Fabulous golf.” In the end, Uihlein came out on top, winning 1-up after 18 grueling holes. He would go on to capture the U.S. Amateur title two matches later. “It’s a win-win or a lose-lose, either way you look at it,” Hoffmann says. “It was great that one Oklahoma State guy was going to go on, and it sucked that we both had to meet. We just

Coming to college, my goal was to be on a team that could push me. And now is exactly what we have. It’s a circle of competition and friendship that is incomparable.” — Morgan Hoffmann hugged each other when it was over. Mrs. Uihlein came up to me and said ‘I’m sorry.’” “I know it was very disappointing for him to lose. He, just like Peter, is a competitor. While playing the match, he’s trying to tear his heart out, doing everything he can to just win the match, and afterward they’re still friends. Nothing’s changed in their relationship.” Hoffmann says the camaraderie and competitiveness among his teammates makes everyone better. “Coming to college, my goal was to be on a team that could push me. And now is exactly what we have. Any time we go out, if I beat Peter and Kevin, then I’m going to do pretty well. Or if he beats Kevin and me, he’s going to do pretty well. It’s a circle of competition and friendship that is incomparable.” Hoffmann says his team’s match play experience, particularly at the U.S. Am, will pay off at the NCAA’s. “It takes a little while to get used to, because in the United States you don’t play much match play in big tournaments. I think we know exactly what to do, exactly how to execute and exactly how to get our win and grasp that redemption.” “Morgan is highly motivated for this team to achieve its goals this year,” McGraw says. “He reminds his teammates of that all the time. ‘We have these goals. We’ve set them. Let’s go achieve them.’ He’s a great leader that way.”

53


Get an inside look at what it means to be a Cowboy. Bring a future college student to one of OSU’s guided campus tours.

Campus tours are held Monday through Friday, and on these upcoming Saturdays: May 14, June 18, July 16 and Aug. 20. Go to admissions.okstate.edu for more information.


56 May 2011


Reading&Riding story by

Clay Billman

photography by

Phil Shockley

Cowgirl Loves Horses, Harry Potter and Helping Others

57


Oklahoma State senior Erin Prutow is one-of-akind. Smart. Athletic. Driven. Quirky. Organized. Accomplished. Busy. Energetic. Outgoing. Weird. Each adjective, by itself, fails to fully describe her multi-faceted personality. The Cowgirl Equestrian team captain is an amalgam of all these traits (and more). The borough of Newtown, Pa., is located in a region known for producing equestrian talent. But David and Bonnie Prutow weren’t well-versed in the equine industry. “No one in my family has ever ridden before. When I was five, my best friend rode horses, and I was like, ‘I want a pony!’ So I went to the barn with her and fell in love with the riding program there.” Prutow says her parents have always been supportive, although they didn’t envision equestrian as the key to a college scholarship. “They were hoping it was the hobby I was going to quit,” she says. “They thought it was just a phase. Seven years later they realized, ‘Okay, maybe she’s not going to quit.’”

58

May 2011

Working with a thousand-pound any other freshman, so we give them a animal can be hazardous, but Prutow hard time.” began learning the hunt-seat disci“It’s not all glamorous what we pline of equitation over fences from do here,” says Cowgirl Associate the start of her training. Head Coach Suzanne Flaig. “Erin is “My trainer, Penny Silcox, is really very good at being able to see the big big into that. All she does is over fences, picture. She is a natural leader and so I started jumping really early,” she communicates well with people. She says. “I’ve had a couple pretty bad doesn’t expect somebody to do somefalls involving jumping. My parents get thing that she’s not already doing. She nervous, but they trust me.” understands how a team operates, Prutow paid for her lessons by that it’s not about any one person, doing chores at the stable. and she’s very natural in being able to “I’ve been working with the same relate to the students from different trainer, at the same barn, my whole backgrounds.” life,” she says. “She helped me work Flaig found Prutow via former off my rides, because I never owned a Cowgirl Paige Hortman, who hails horse. I would go out there extra early from the same hometown. in the morning and help with chores “She was in my sister’s class and and muck-out stalls, fill water buckets used to ride at my barn when I was and groom horses and do all that. little,” Prutow says. “Since Paige rode In exchange I got to ride and learn for Oklahoma State, Suzanne started how to train horses and break them. recruiting other riders from our area. And when I got older, I was able to I came out for my official visit and I help her sell them, and show them loved it.” at competitions.” “Her area of the country is a As owner of Hickory Run Farm, particularly competitive region, so the independent Silcox serves as a role if a student does well out there, it model for Prutow. certainly speaks well of them from “She’s not financially equipped a recruiting standpoint,” Flaig says. for the equestrian world as a horse“She was probably under the radar of a woman,” Prutow explains. “She’s lot of schools because her background single and has a farm of 36 acres was a little bit more humble, and she and almost 60 horses. She does it by might not have had quite as much on herself and has never taken a vacation. her résumé as some of the big names She’s been doing it for 40 years and in the game. But knowing that a kid loves it.” has worked their way up through the As one of two team captains for the ranks and earned what they’ve had, OSU English riders, Prutow tries to that was intriguing to me as a coach lead by example and instill that work and a quality I thought was a positive.” ethic in the newcomers on the squad. PROBLEM SOLVER “We’ve had girls come in who have Prutow’s personality is well-suited never tacked up a horse for themselves for equitation over fences, a series before,” she says. “We hand them a of three-foot obstacles requiring brush and a manure scooper and say problem-solving skills on top of clean up after yourself. They’re tranhorsemanship. sitioning into college, so it’s just like


team, OSU finished fourth nationally in the hunter seat competition. “Erin continued to get stronger throughout her career,” Flaig says. “She never plateaued. There was always a higher level she was moving toward.” Prutow says equestrian has taught her how to deal with life’s ups and downs. “If I wanted to avoid failure, I wouldn’t ride horses. That’s a huge part of equestrian. You deal with it every competition. When you’re growing up, it’s just you and your horse. But here, when you lose, you fail your team and your coaches. I’ve dealt with that a lot. I’ve been pulled from the starting lineup. I’ve ridden poorly.” Flaig says Erin is a “go-to girl” when it comes to her competitions. “Even if she doesn’t win, she’s going to have a strong performance to keep our team in it. She’s a reliable, gritty competitor who can ride any horse she draws.”

CLOCKWORK

“Erin is very analytical, which is a good quality for being able to compete the way we do,” Flaig says. “We have to do a lot of assessments of the horses we’re on in a very short amount of time. I never have to worry whether she’s thought it through. She’s already three steps ahead. Flaig says the English competitions present a “series of questions,” and how skillfully the riders answer those questions will determine who gets the higher score from the judge. “If you have a turn to approach to a jump, there’s many different ways

you can approach that turn. Different angles, different takeoff spots, different strategies you can use to not only make the jump successfully, but to set you up for the proper turn to approach the next obstacle or to keep that particular horse and his given personality in the right frame or balance and maximize his performance. It’s a very technical sport.” This past year, Prutow finished 1-2 at the Varsity Equestrian National Championships, despite posting some of her best scores as a Cowgirl. As a

A typical day for Prutow, if it can be called typical, starts early. “I wake up for team workouts at six or seven o’clock and then run or lift weights and go to the training room for treatment. Then I’ll go home, get a cup of coffee and go out to the barn for practice. I’ll talk to my teammates and hang out as we groom the horses and tack up. Then we get on and ride. After practice we take care of all the horses. Sweep the barn. Clean up all the poop. Put our stuff away. Clean up the tack. I’m done at the barn around 11:30.” From there, Prutow will head to the Colvin Center for some laps in the pool. “I swim all the time,” she says. “I love being in the water. It’s my quiet time away from everyone. I can’t be

59


texted. I can’t be called. I can’t be e-mailed. No one’s talking to me. I don’t have to be in a good mood. I can just swim. It’s cathartic.”
 The afternoon is reserved for classes and study time. “I’ll post-up at the coffee shop for hours. I think I’ve spent more money on Chai Tea than anything else in college. I try to go there for at least three hours a day just to stay on top of everything. Right now I’m only taking 12 hours a semester. I took 21 my freshman year, and had summer classes every year, so I’ve got a lot of leeway this year. It’s great.” Evenings are spent with extracurricular activities or with friends. “I usually get done with everything by seven or eight, and I’ll either have a committee meeting or intramural sport or do something fun with friends to relax.” After that, Prutow curls up with a good book. “I am an insomniac,” she says. “I think it has a lot to do with not being able to shut my brain down, so I usually don’t fall asleep before midnight.” How does she do it?

60 May 2011

“I drink a lot of coffee,” she says, only half-joking. “I take naps sometimes. I’m not super-human. I just think it’s easier to be busy than not busy. Once you’re rolling, you can get things done. When I have lazy weekends, I can’t stand it. So I want to channel that into my next community service project or my next paper. I’m notorious for getting things done way in advance.” “It is amazing what she can do with the hours in the day,” Flaig says. “She’s to be commended for all that she’s able to manage, and manage well. Some people might put a lot on their plate but might only be getting things done half-way. That’s not her. She is one on-the-ball kid. We certainly have some ambitious students in our program, that we’re grateful for, but I would say her name would top the list.” Prutow has another secret to wardoff distractions. “I don’t have cable TV,” she says. “Although, I bought the NFL Sunday Ticket just to watch the Eagles games. I’m a huge Eagles fan. I’m not kidding. I put it at a friend’s house. She gets all the movie channels, and I get to come over Sundays when the Eagles play

and watch football for three hours and then go back to my life.”

MAGIC MOMENTS A self-described “nerd,” Prutow is also an unabashed Harry Potter fan. Make that fanatic. The senior has read all seven of the wizardly tales in J.K. Rowling’s mega-popular series. Seven times! “It started in third grade and has been going on continuously since then,” she says of her infatuation. “I love everything about it. I reread the books, and I’ve never gotten sick of them. If I ever get tired of a novel I’m reading, I’ll pick Harry Potter back up.” Beyond the books, of which she claims to have a pristine souvenir set unopened at home and a dog-eared collection of hardbacks from which she is always immersed, she has an array of Harry Potter memorabilia, including magic wands and robes. Her vocabulary is rife with catch phrases and Potterisms used only by the most devout Rowling readers. “I was one of the nerds that went at midnight, dressed-up, to all the book releases and movie premiers.” To appeal to her competitive nature, Prutow also engages in “Quidditch,” a broomstick sport played by Harry and his classmates at Hogwarts Academy. College students around the country have taken up this unusual, yet highly addictive, activity and turned it into an intramural phenomenon. Prutow is a founding member of OSU’s co-ed Quidditch Club. “I’m also the club treasurer. I’ve been there since our first meeting. It’s actually a big deal. There’s a national Intercollegiate Quidditch Association. I kid you not. And they have a World Cup, just like the books.”


Since Prutow is a “Muggle” (a human in Potter lexicon) and not a wizard, the literary version of the game was adapted to be played on the ground. “It’s kind of a dodgeball/basketball combo where you ride a broomstick. Well, you run with one between your legs,” she explains. “One hand has to stay on your broomstick at all times. You have a deflated volleyball called a ‘Quaffle,’ and the object is to throw it through one of three hoops at each end of the field, and that’s a goal. You also have a goalie and two people trying to hit you with a dodgeball or ‘Bludger.’ If you get hit you have to drop your Quaffle and run back to your own goal. “We play every Wednesday,” she adds. “We practice and run drills where we have to catch the Quaffle with one hand and sprint to the goal line. We play on a full soccer field.” Prutow is quick to point out that Quidditch is actually a physicallydemanding sport. “It’s exhausting. I brought friends from the baseball and wrestling teams to play, and they’re exhausted. It’s more intense than other intramurals. The worst part is getting hit in the face with a Bludger.” Prutow says her coach didn’t know what to make of her hobby at first. “I think she thought it was a joke,” Prutow says. Flaig says she still is a little unsure about it. “I’m just very vague as to what the whole thing is. It probably wouldn’t be an activity that I would choose to do, but I’m all for it,” she says. “It’s not dangerous is it? Maybe I shouldn’t know too much about it.” As for Prutow’s other extra-curricular activities, Flaig is supportive.

“I think she thrives on being busy, and she’s more successful the busier she is. Having a good balance in your life so it’s not all horses all the time is a good thing. Clearly she is giving 100 percent when she’s here for us, and I’m supportive of any of our student-athletes who want to do other activities if that helps them maintain a good balance.” “I’ve always been an athlete,” Prutow says. “I think I’d be a sincerely unhappy individual if I didn’t have something to channel my energy. I’m a competitive person.” Beyond Quidditch, Prutow has competed in a number of intramural sports. “I played flag football on a team called the Bedwetters. We were Co-Rec champions. I also played softball this year. I did the intramural swim meet a couple times. Inner tube water polo is probably the funniest sport you’ll ever watch in your life. It’s a bunch of kids flailing on their backs.” Her athleticism helps when she’s on the horse, Flaig says. “You don’t ride a horse successfully because you out-muscle it, you ride a horse successfully because you have the skills to communicate with it. Being a natural athlete gives Erin good balance and coordination. All of those things are key to doing well on horseback.”

MAKING THE GRADE Despite her remarkable schedule, Prutow has maintained straight A’s throughout college. She earned that perfect 4.0 GPA in her Honors double major of Political Science and Philosophy, “because one is just not enough.” Prutow has received a number of accolades for her academic and community outreach efforts,

including being named one of 12 OSU Outstanding Seniors for 2010-11, as well as recognition on the Big 12 Conference Chick-Fil-A Community of Champions team. As the president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC), she has led a number of charitable initiatives, including food drives for the Stillwater United Way, silent auctions for Special Olympics and fundraising for the March of Dimes, to name a few. “I think it’s important to give back to the community that works so hard to support you,” she says. Recently awarded a prestigious $7,500 postgraduate scholarship by the NCAA, Prutow plans to finish a Master’s in Political Science in the fall. Although she’s excited about the future, Prutow says she will miss her Cowgirl teammates. “They’re my best friends in the whole world, and it makes me really sad every time I think about it. I just love my teammates so much. All the alumni that I talk to say it’s not the riding or the coaching or the competition they miss, it’s being with your best friends in an atmosphere that’s not work-related. They’re not co-workers. I don’t think I’m going to have that ever again. It makes me sad, especially since a lot of them are from all over the country.” Prutow says she will also miss her four-legged friends. “I love horses so much. My favorite place to be is with horses. Every time I went out to practice I’d be bouncing off the walls, singing to the radio, kissing my horse, dancing with my horse. People would think I’m so weird … Skinny and strange.” And then some.

61


Champions, Again! Cowboy golf captures its fifth consecutive Big 12 championship

The Cowboys’ seventh win of the year also gave OSU its league-leading ninth Big 12 title and was the 54th conference title in the 65-year history of the program.

62 May 2011

Oklahoma State’s men’s golf team earned its fifth Big 12 Championship title in a row on April 27, posting a 13-shot victory at Prairie Dunes Country Club. Head coach Mike McGraw’s squad posted a 294 closing round in blustery conditions to finish at 19-over 1,139 at the par-70, 6,759-yard layout. Texas A&M finished second at 1,152 and Texas came in third with a 1,160 total. The Cowboys’ seventh win of the year also gave OSU its league-leading ninth Big 12 title and was the 54th conference title in the 65-year history of the program. “It is such a tough conference anymore. You can’t just roll out there and win it. It’s not very easy to do that. It is an accomplishment to win it and to win it five times is kind of mind boggling for me,” McGraw said. “It is our goal every year to win this. We start out the year and this is our first major accomplishment that


you would like to do. It is the beginning of postseason and means a lot to these guys.” Individually, OSU produced the top two individuals for the fourth time in league history as well. Junior Morgan Hoffmann took home medalist honors, while senior Kevin Tway finished as the runner-up for the second time in his career. Hoffmann, who won the Big 12 title as a freshman in 2009 at Prairie Dunes, posted a closing 73 to finish at even-par 280 and five shots clear of Tway. The Wyckoff, N.J., native stood at even par after an outward nine that featured a birdie and a bogey. On his second nine, Hoffmann bogeyed four of his first six holes before making his second birdie of the day at the par-4 18th. “The course didn’t really do much to me, I just made some really stupid mistakes coming in. I missed some short putts, but that is golf. I came out on top, which is lucky,” Hoffmann said. “I love this course and it is a nice feeling to come back here and I felt really comfortable here. Luckily, I came out on top again.” For Hoffmann, the win was his second of the spring and the fifth of his career. Tway posted a 75 during his fourth round to get in at 285 and earn his second runner-up finish at the conference championship. His second-place showing marked the third time in his career he posted a top 10 at the event. The Edmond, Okla., native also finished second in 2008 to former Cowboy Rickie Fowler before tying for seventh last year. The round of the day came from junior Peter Uihlein, who posted an even-par 70 to move up 15 spots into a tie for fourth place at 8-over 288.

The Orlando, Fla., native was the only player in the field to post a round of even par or better on Wednesday. Uihlein carded a pair of birdies on his front nine and turned at 1-over 36. After a bogey at the 11th, he moved back to level par with birdies at the 14th and 15th. Freshman Talor Gooch earned a top-20 finish in his first career Big 12 start, tying for 16th place at 293 after posting a 78 on Wednesday. Sophomore Sean Einhaus finished play with a 76, giving him a 297 total and tying him for 26th place. After the championship, the Cowboys and their coach continued to receive accolades as the NCAA championship tournament loomed. For the fifth consecutive season, coach McGraw was named the Big 12 Coach of the Year. Uihlein was tabbed as the league’s top player, marking the 10th time overall OSU has produced the Big 12’s player of the year and the fifth time in the last six years. Currently the nation’s top-ranked player, Uihlein has won twice in seven starts this season, picking up victories at the Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational as well as the Aggie Invitational. Uihlein has finished in the top five in six of those seven starts, including a pair of runner-up finishes. The reigning U.S. Amateur champion, Uihlein has been equally active away from the collegiate level. Last fall, he represented the United States at the World Amateur Team

Championship and posted victories at the Dixie Amateur and the Georgia Cup. A semifinalist for the Ben Hogan Award, Uihlein also made the cut earlier this spring at the PGA Tour’s Transitions Championship and competed at The Masters Tournament. Joining Uihlein on the All-Big 12 squad were fellow junior Morgan Hoffmann and senior Kevin Tway. Like Uihlein, Hoffmann is a semifinalist for the Ben Hogan Award and has enjoyed a successful season that has seen him win twice this year. The Wyckoff, N.J., native earned his first win of the year earlier this spring at the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters in Las Vegas. He added the Big 12individual title last week at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan., for the second time in his career. Hoffmann has seven top 10s in eleven starts this season and is currently ranked 11th nationally. Tway received all-league honors after putting together a campaign with six top-five finishes, including a victory at the Augusta State Invitational earlier this spring. The Edmond, Okla., native has earned runner-up showings in each of his past two starts, finishing second to Uihlein at the Aggie Invitational and as the runner-up to Hoffmann at the Big 12 Championship. Currently, the third-ranked player in the country, Tway is also a semifinalist for the Hogan Award.

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Remembering

Iba

Former OSU pl ayer Cecil Epperle y reminisces about pl aying for Coach Iba , and specul ates on his mentor’s throughts about modern OSU bask e tba ll.

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What would Mr. Iba say? After two consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances under Coach Travis Ford, OSU men’s basketball was 17-11 headed into Senior Night against Baylor in Stillwater, Okla. March Madness was a remote but not off limits goal and a bid to the National Invitiation Tournament was expected. Despite that winning record, and that most teams would love a trip to the NIT, fan message boards were alive with grousing. We don’t know what the Iron Duke would think. Iba, who won two national championships at Oklahoma A&M in 1945 and 1946, died in 1993. But Cecil Epperley, a Cowboy fan since he was nine years old, says Iba would support his Pokes no matter what. Epperley was a 6-foot 4-inch forward for Iba from 1959 to 1962, and he’s been a season ticketholder since Eddie Sutton took over the program in 1990. Epperley says although Iba was a taskmaster and tough disciplinarian, he was always loyal to OSU. That’s part of why fellow Naismith Hall of Fame coach John Wooden called Iba, who won 767 games before retiring in 1970, basketball’s “finest gentleman.”

May 2011 Photos /

Athletics


He was loyal to a fault,” Epperley says. “He was very, very, very loyal to OSU. He was very loyal to his players. He would not be as critical as I would be.” Iba, who still has a seat reserved for him inside Gallagher-Iba Arena, saw OSU basketball as a way for Oklahoma kids to get an education. After he retired, he blamed himself for not recruiting nationally (not en vogue at the time) and bringing on the lean years of OSU basketball that followed his retirement, times which Epperley suffered through as an assistant coach under Iba’s successor, Sam Aubrey. That humility and his dedication rubbed off on his players, Epperley says. No better example of that was fellow Hall of Fame coach Don Haskins, who died in 2008. With no recruiting budget and few resources, Haskins led Texas Western to its 1966 NCAA championship, the first ever won by a team with an all-black starting lineup. He spent 38 years at the college, today’s University of Texas at El Paso, and passed up many job offers that would’ve taken him to places where he’d have earned more money and had an easier time recruiting. Continuing Iba’s legacy of loyalty, many of Iba’s former players attend OSU games today and get together to talk Cowboy basketball. “That’s a carryover from Mr. Iba. The players support the program, and Lord knows they’ve seen some down years after he left.” OSU didn’t return to prominence until Eddie Sutton’s hiring in 1990. Sutton re-introduced Iba’s focus on the fundamentals. It was a fitting close to the era following Iba’s retirement during which the Cowboys won nearly 250 games and but lost more than 300. That success continues today

under third-year Coach Travis Ford, who produced records of 23-12, 22-11, 20-14 in his first three seasons. Some of Iba’s approaches couldn’t carry over, largely because it’s unfair to ask anyone to emulate arguably the game’s greatest coach, but also because the game has changed, Epperley says. NCAA rules prohibit his year-round practices. Today’s players practice half as much as those from Iba’s days, Epperley says, and the toll it took on them back then was immense. Haskins, who played for Iba from 1950-1953, had a favorite story of how, during one practice, the skin on the bottom of his foot came off. Some of Iba’s players went on to the military, and later would remark how much easier boot camp was in comparison, Epperley says. Epperley took his share of knocks from Iba, too. Even though he was a dominant rebounder, he made Iba’s list plenty of times. He remembers one practice his freshman year when Iba scrimmaged his freshmen against the upperclassmen inside stiflingly hot Gallagher Hall.

I got hit twice in these early season practices. One was from Lou Wade, a senior from Rogers High School in Tulsa. He elbowed me in the mouth — full on. And I had some crooked teeth as a kid. My mouth just filled up with blood. I must’ve split my lip in about four places. I was just furious. And, Mr. Iba … He yelled at me to get the devil over to the sawdust spit box because I was getting blood on the floor.” Another day he took an elbow to the throat and couldn’t breathe.

“I was laying there on the floor, and he said, ‘get up off the floor. You’re not hurt.’” But like other former Iba players in coaching, they quickly learned he set the gold standard for fundamentals, how to support your school and how to treat people. Iba was always quick to help out former players if they needed a reference for a coaching job or anything else. When he interacted with people, he was just as comfortable talking with the bigwigs as he was chatting up farmers from around Payne County. “I’ve seen politicians, university presidents, people who were smooth who could talk to people. But I’ve never seen anyone who was more genuine than Mr. Iba, who would visit with people, and would take an interest in what they were doing.” Iba was also quick to help other coaches who sought his advice. His sessions with Bob Knight, Mike Krzyzewski, and anyone else who asked have been well-publicized by sportswriters. But back to OSU today. It’s hard to say what Iba would think or do today because we can’t ask him. Thankfully, OSU hasn’t returned to those tough years such as those it saw during the ’70s, when 20-win seasons would’ve been welcome results for teams that won only four, seven, 10 or 12 games. But no matter whether OSU basketball was up or down, Iba always supported the program. Iba was loyal because he believed in being “dancing with who brung you,” but he also knew what OSU stands for, where it’s been and where it is today.

That’s something we can all take to heart.

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the

SMILING COWBOY

Baseball Bridges Barriers Clay Billman for Uribe story by

photos by

The Cowboy dugout is a happy place these days. And not just because Oklahoma State Baseball is back among the Top 25 nationally. It might have something to do with a certain Latin American influence. Luis Uribe was born in the Dominican Republic, where babies are weaned on baseball. “Growing up in the Dominican Republic, I used to go to school in the morning and go to baseball practice every afternoon at the academy.”

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may 2011

Gary Lawson

At age 15, Uribe’s father took a job in Boston, Mass., bringing Luis from his Caribbean island home to the United States for the first time. “It was pretty rough, because when I first got here I didn’t know any English,” he says. “I struggled big time with the language, culture. The food was different. Way different. Even the people were different, because I had never been here before.” The winters also took some getting used to.

“In Boston it was pretty cold,” he says. “Like minus-five degrees.” Despite not speaking English when he arrived, he found familiar ground on the Brighton High School baseball team. Uribe was a local star, earning all-state honors and an opportunity to continue his education with a baseball scholarship. Uribe played one year at Endicott College in Massachusetts before transferring to the JC baseball powerhouse Western Oklahoma State College in Altus.


“I like Oklahoma,” he says. “But it’s weird, because some days it’s going to be really hot, and the next day it’s going to be really cold, so you just never know.” Blessed with a big-league body ­— six-foot-two, 215 pounds — Uribe showed power at the plate, hitting 15 homers and driving in 55 runs at Western. It was there he was discovered by the Cowboy coaching staff. “They’ve got one of the top junior college programs in the country, and they get kids from all over,” says Cowboy skipper Frank Anderson. “They have a pretty good Latin connection, and that’s kind of how it started. We got to see him play in the Division II Junior College World Series in Enid.” In his first season in Stillwater, Uribe’s bat stayed hot. In 47 games, he led the team with a .584 slugging percentage and was second on the squad with a .355 average. “He’s a good hitter,” Anderson says. “He’s got tremendous power. He can drive the ball in the gaps and be a pretty good offensive weapon.” As a senior, Uribe started the 2011 season as a fixture in right field, but has struggled at the plate at times. “He’s kind of a streaky hitter,” Anderson says. “Luis is not unlike a lot of Latin players. I’ve seen guys in the big leagues, like Orlando Cabrera, get on a roll where they’re really tough to get out. And then they’ll have a short period of time where they can’t buy a hit. Then they’ll come back with another long streak.”

Despite the mid-season slump, Uribe remains positive. “I’ve got to find a way to get out of it,” he says. “I’ve got to keep working. I know I’m going to get my chances and be back in the lineup. I think it’s going to go my way because I work hard.” “He works his tail off,” Anderson adds. “I think you just keep working at it and try to put them in positions where they’ll be successful in a game. He’s a better hitter against left-handed pitching, so you try to find a matchup that jumpstarts him. Once he starts hitting it doesn’t matter, right or left. We’ve tried to get him in a little more against lefthanders and give him a chance to work out of it.” Through it all, Uribe has displayed his infectious grin in the Cowboy clubhouse. “He’s got a smile on his face every time you see him,” Anderson says. “People love him. He’s a good team guy.” Last year, Uribe’s teammate Brad Propst invited him fishing for the first time. “Propst says, ‘Hey Lou, let’s go fishing,’” Uribe recalls. “I only caught one, but it was pretty fun.” “We need to try and get him to go noodling,” says Propst, who hails from Amarillo. Despite his different background, Uribe feels at home with his teammates at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium. “He’s always at the field doing something,” Propst says. “He’s a great guy. Everyone likes to be around him.” “I like to hang out with my boys down here,” Uribe says. “I also like to play video games with my roommates,

He’s got a smile on his face every time you see him. People love him. He’s a good team guy.” — Coach Frank Anderson

stuff like that. I like this team. Everybody likes everybody. We get along pretty good. This is a good club.” Uribe will graduate this spring with a degree in Education. After pursuing his Major League Baseball dream, he plans to become a teacher and coach. “He’s got a great future ahead of him,” Anderson says. “To think about what he’s done academically and how he has fit in every place he’s been, I think it’s unique. And now Luis is going to get a degree from Oklahoma State. It’s a neat story.”

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Did You See It? 4/16/2011 – Spring Game For tickets to OSU athletics: Okstate.com/tickets 877.ALL.4OSU

70 Photography by

May 2011

Gary Lawson


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72 May 2011


Cowgirl Head Coach Rich Wieligman attributes her success to hard work. “The reason she’s having such a good season, especially offensively, is because she’s worked hard to get better,” says Wieligman. “She worked hard to improve the weaknesses in her hitting, and has taken those away from pitchers. ust don’t ask her to tell you about it. She’s purposefully not “Her nickname is ‘Bulldog.’ That paying attention. tells you all you need to know If she were to look, she’d see her .403 batting average with a .590 slugright there.” ging percentage. But that’s not what’s she’s interested in. She’s interested Cowgirl assistant Tom Gray is in wins and losses, and milking her senior season for every bit of enjoymore specific on Hamilton’s improvement it can offer. ment this season. “Sometimes, especially in college, it seems like it gets so serious,” says Hamil“She’s worked extremely hard ton. “More people need to enjoy it for what it is, especially softball players. defensively,” says Gray. “Her basic There are not a lot of us who’re going to play after college. Sometimes it’s tough mechanics are almost flawless now. to remember that you’re playing for fun, that this is what you love to do. She’s getting to balls she’s never “I feel like the previous years, I’ve paid too much attention to outcomes. This gotten to before and is fielding them is my senior year. It’s going to be my last playing with everyone here. I just very quickly and cleanly. want to enjoy every single moment of it. “She realizes this is her last year, That’s all I’m doing this season. Enjoyand she’s going to be very comfortHer nickname is ing everything.” able saying she gave it everything If you press her on her performance, ‘Bulldog.’ That tells you she had. She’s one stubborn, very she’ll defer to the team as the reason aggressive young lady who wants to all you need to know for her success. win very badly. She’d make a great right there.” “We feed off each other,” she says. linebacker.” “Everyone is enjoying what they are Working hard isn’t something — Rich Wieligman doing. We are just out here playing new to Hamilton. She’s been singlewith our friends. It’s a part of everymindedly focused on being a collegiate softball player for as far back as she can thing we’re doing, even practicing remember. As a child, she’d rather practice than play. In junior high and high harder. It’s such a long season, it’s school, it was not uncommon for her to skip school dances to practice softball. easy to go through the motions and “I did go to a few,” she says, “but there were only a couple of days a week not get better every day. But we’re that I wouldn’t be hitting or fielding with my dad. I took practicing and going taking the time to love it. All of us. to tournaments really seriously because it was what I loved to do. “We’ll say something positive every “My stepdad, who is my ‘Dad,’ came into my life when I was about two day, even if we got in at midnight the years old,” says the second baseman. “He’s the one who got me into softball. It night before and we’re tired. People started with T-ball. dream about playing in college I was instantly hardcore. I wore the sweatband and the Nike sunglasses. I and would love to do what we do. was a little tomboy, and I’ve loved the sport ever since.” Sometimes, I feel like we take it When she says she “loves” softball, she means it. She can talk expansively on for granted. the subject. “Positivity goes such a long way, “I love that it’s such a team sport and an individual sport. You have your and it’s taken me four years to whole team behind you, so it’s never one or the other. There’s just something realize that.” about being on the field and playing with your friends, just having a good time.

Cowgirl second baseman Alysia Hamilton is having a really good year.

J

continues

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“That’s how I like to play every game.” Like most athletes, Hamilton has a healthy competitive streak. She and losing don’t get along much. “I hate to lose at anything I do,” she says. “With teammates, I’ll play Words with Friends, and … nevermind. I don’t have any good stories. None that are appropriate, anyway. I get kind of mean.” Hamilton grew up attending school in Moore, Okla., right in the heart of Big 12 country, and in the shadow of OSU’s southern rival. “My address is actually in Norman,” she says, but maintains she’s from Moore. In any case, Big 12 softball had her attention. “In Oklahoma, the Big 12 is it. From a competitive standpoint, that’s what I wanted,” says Hamilton. “It was the intensity I wanted. It had the coaches I wanted. That was my goal – to play in the Big 12. “I looked around at a lot of different schools,” says Hamilton. “My dad wanted me to make sure I kept my options open. He wanted me to be sure I was at the right place for me. He didn’t actually help me with any of the decisions.

Alysia’s Quick Hits:

74 Photo by

May 2011

Gary Lawson

Her Walk-out Song: Pat Benetar’s, “Hit Me with your Best Shot. I love that song. Listening to that song before I bat, it’s like, ‘Yeah, cmon.’” Favorite Music: “I listen to whatever my mood is. Before games, I listen to hard rock, like Seether. Stuff that’ll pump you up. If I’m down or sad, I listen to country. My roommate, Mariah Gearhart, she’s from California, and she hates country.” Favorite Book: “I’m big into the Twilight books. I read all four books in two or three days. I want an Edward. It just kind of draws you in. I’ve seen all the movies. Those have to be my favorite books … There’s nothing wrong with that.” Favorite Food: “Steak, medium rare. My mom likes it burnt. I’m like my dad, of course.” Best Friend: “My mom. I’m a Daddy’s Girl, for sure, but my mom is my best friend. I tell her everything.”


Alysia chose to be a Cowgirl. “I like being out there, but I don’t “This is definitely where it was at,” she says. “As soon as you get here on a want to coach. I would expect too visit, it’s like you just fit right in with the team. Everyone is so welcoming. It much, and I hate those kinds of became my home-away-from-home. coaches. Maybe when I have kids, I “I have a lot of friends who’ve gone to different colleges, and some of them can coach their team.” don’t like their team. Some of them don’t like their coaches. I feel like here, we She’ll actually graduate in Decemdon’t have that at all.” ber, so she’ll be around when fall Four years later, it would appear Hamilton did indeed make the right decipractice begins. sion. Her coach thinks so. “I’m one of those people who “When you graduate seniors, you never know what they mean to the team doesn’t like watching softball because until they leave,” says Wieligman. “Looking at Alysia and Mariah, they were it makes me so frustrated that I’m not the start of getting this program turned around. You have to wonder if our out there. It’ll be difficult.” younger players are where they were when they were freshmen and sophomores. She predicts Ari Morrison “They’ve really turned the program around and made it what it is. Alysia’s (currently a freshman patrolling fun to coach. She listens. She works hard and plays hard. She takes care of busithe outfield) will be the team’s new ness off the field. She’s going to graduate, which is what I expect of them. second baseman. “She’s what I needed when I was coming in as head coach. She was one of my “She was originally an infielder. first recruits, and she’s set the tone for She having an amazing season,” says the team. It’s going to be hard to live Hamilton. “She’s also one of the fastI hate it. I rememup to. She’s definitely made her mark est people I’ve ever seen.” ber saying, ‘What are in the offensive record books in a lot Hamilton will walk away having of categories.” been part of the rebuilding of the you guys doing? You’re As her senior season comes to a OSU Softball program and having doing it wrong!’” close, Hamilton is preparing to meet made a mark on the school record the working world head on. A busibooks. For Hamilton, it’s a more— Alysia Hamilton ness major (specializing in marketing), sweet-than-bitter ending to a great she wants to take her degree and go career, and like her dad always told her, she’s left it all on the field. into pharmaceutical sales. Her plans “I’m going to miss that feeling when you’re out there and just feeling it. When do not include softball. everything is clicking and you don’t have to worry about anything. You’re “I’m expecting to move on to my seeing the ball well. career,” she says. “Every male athlete “And just being out there with the rest of the girls. I’m going to be sad, sure. here that I ask, ‘What are you going I’m getting sad right now thinking about it. to do after college?’ They all say, If you ask her what her fondest memory of playing at OSU is, she’ll give you ‘Play pro.’ So then I ask, ‘Okay, but if an instant answer. that doesn’t work, what are you going “Playing against the Olympic team,” she says. “My freshman year, we played to do?’ the Olympic team. Lisa Fernandez, since I was little, has been my hero. I got to “I’m just going to finish this season hit against her. I was so excited. How many little girls actually get to be on the and look forward to my career.” field with their heroes? Yeah, you can get an autograph and stuff, but I already She also doesn’t see any coaching had so many autographs from going to watch her play. in her future. She had knee surgery “I got a hit off her! They had it on TV and I had the biggest smile on my face. before her senior year of high school, Even the announcer said, ‘Man, she’s happy.’ I think my helmet kind of rose and spent the first couple of weeks of up because my cheeks were so high. I couldn’t believe it. Someone else got a hit, the season helping coach. It wasn’t an and I was rounding third, heading for home … I was out by a mile, but I was experience she enjoyed. still smiling. “I hated it. I remember saying, “That was definitely a dream come true. Not a lot of people can s ‘What are you guys doing? You’re ay that.” doing it wrong!’

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interview by

Matt Elliott

photos by

Phil Shockley

Todd Monken, OSU’s new offensive coordinator, would like everyone to relax. Things are under control.

76 may 2011


OSU, Todd Monken. Monken, OSU. You two have met before.

Monken’s coaching career has

“Mike didn’t just drag me off the

included spots on the frontlines at

street,” says Monken, dryly, during

Oklahoma State, LSU, Louisiana Tech,

a nearly 45-minute long interview in

and most recently at the Jacksonville

his new Boone Pickens Stadium digs

Jaguars, and he’s had his share of

shortly after his hire.

success. Among numerous other

A native of suburban Chicago,

bowl games, his teams have been to

Monken is famous in the local media

the Sugar Bowl twice. While he was

for his blunt nature and colorful

with the Jaguars as receivers coach,

language, something they grew

the team was consistently among the

accustomed to during his two-year

top offensive units in the NFL.

stint as OSU’s receivers coach

Monken, OSU’s new offensive coordinator, took over for Dana

under then head coach Les Miles. Not everyone remembered though.

Holgorsen, who turned the Cowboys

Much to its chagrin, one local radio

into one of the nation’s most explosive

station carried his post-hire press

offenses last season. Holgorsen

conference chat with reporters live.

left OSU to be the offensive

Regardless, Monken’s track

coordinator/head coach-in-waiting at

record is as clear, matter-of-fact and

West Virginia.

frank as he is. He began his career

The records that offense amassed

in 1989 at Grand Valley State in Allen-

with just one year under Holgorsen

dale, Mich. Then came stops at Notre

were astounding. The Cowboys had

Dame, then Eastern Michigan, where

their first-ever 11-win season and an

he spent six years, two of which as

Alamo Bowl win over Arizona, and

the team’s quarterbacks coach and

piled up more than 520 yards per

offensive coordinator.

game, slathering scoreboards with a

From there he went to Louisiana

more than 44-point average – good

Tech, where he helped guide one

for third in the nation.

of the nation’s top passing games

Naturally, OSU fans have

in 2000 and 2001. He also coached

wondered whether Monken would

running backs and receivers

change the offense and how.

while there.

Monken would like everyone to please relax.

continues

77


Next up was his stint at OSU,

receiver Justin Blackmon, will be

where he met Gundy while they

back, as will a stable full of studs at

were assistants under Les Miles.

running back, includin Jeremy Smith

Monken coached receivers from

and Joseph Randle.

2002 to 2004, including two-time All-American and Cowboy legend, Rashaun Woods. When Miles left in 2005, Monken went with him to coach receivers at Louisiana State. Monken joined the Jaguars in 2006, where he worked under Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter. From 2007 to 2009, the Jaguars ranked 13th in the NFL in total offense, seventh in rushing and fifth in third-down conversions, the team’s website states. In short, Monken has been doing

P   How did you end up at OSU the first time around?

M   Coaching-wise, I started off at Grand Valley State, went to Notre Dame went to Eastern Michigan, went to Louisiana Tech, so I came from Louisiana Tech to here. That’s what brought me here. Coaching will take you anywhere. It’s not like you have a choice. P   What was your impression of Oklahoma when you first came here under Les Miles? M 

Whenever you take a job in

it at every level since the first George

coaching, your first thought is “are

Bush was president. He’s coached

we good enough to win?” Everything else is secondary. At first you’re excited when you’re at places Louisiana Tech and Eastern Michigan. You always think man, if I could just get to a BCS school. How cool would that be? They pay you. You get better players. You get to a BCS bowl game. But players, facilities and coaches are really what are important. When those things are good and you’re winning, you can live anywhere. If you’re not winning games, you’re not working with good people, you’re not given the support you need, it’s a bad job. So I said it from a business standpoint, but that really is what matters to me. Some people have asked me how I like the red dirt, or the small town, or the college-type environment. Or the people. That’s all whatever someone may add as a bonus to it. And that’s awesome. But I’ve never looked at it as if I needed a big city or college-town environment.

players at all levels, and his NFL experience is a huge recruiting asset for OSU. Coach Mike Gundy put it succinctly. “The thing that I think is important in hiring coaches is that you hire smart football coaches, and guys who are willing to buy in and be loyal,” Gundy says. “He can make adjustments to whatever we need, and he’ll have input on what he thinks is best because, ultimately, he’s going to be offensive coordinator working with Coach Wickline and Robert Meachem and the other guys. They’ll be responsible for the success we have on offense. But ultimately the most important thing is to find ways to

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win the game.” OSU’s offense in 2011 is expected

to again be one of the nation’s most

explosive. It is expected the OSU will start the season with a top-10 national ranking. Star quarterback Brandon Weeden, one of the

country’s top passers, and all-world

may 2011

P   You’ve had a lot of experience coaching players at different levels of football. How do you motivate players at the college level as opposed to the NFL? M   Every guy is a little bit different. It’s hard to change your approach kid-to-kid, person-to-person. It just is. You can’t sit there and always have to be thinking, “I can rip his ass. I’ve got to make him feel good about himself.” That’s hard. With that being said, the longer you coach a certain person, the more you know what motivates them.

Obviously, no matter what, you hold them accountable. There are different ways of doing that. It’s like with your own kids. Some people put them in the corner. Some people put them in their room. Some people spank them. There have to be repercussions for what they’re not doing. Now it is different in the NFL, where money becomes a factor. Players there have a short window to make their money. They’re older. A lot of them would see themselves as adults and mature even if they’re not yet. And they’re not. I’m 45, and I’m still not mature, so I know sure as hell they’re not. Let’s put it that way. You don’t end up telling them as much “do what I say because I’m the coach and I say so.” You have to be better at convincing them that it’s best for their career. That it will get them better, and it will make them more money. In the NFL, you deal with money. At OSU, you don’t have to deal with that element because everybody’s getting the same scholarship. In the NFL, especially with receivers, sometimes the winning and the losing take a back seat to money and stats. You can find guys to whom the wins don’t equal money but stats do. In other words, their incentives are different from those of the team.


P  What did you like about coaching in the NFL? M   You want to coach the best players you can be around at the highest competition. I’d be lying if there weren’t some ego involved. It’s easy to get stroked. If I could make the same amount of money coaching at Jones Junior High, would I take that job? No. I’m not going to do that. There’s an ego boost, an excitement that comes with coaching the best in the world and being part of the best. That’s probably the No. 1 thing. Also, I think the NFL’s off-season gives you more time to spend with your family because you’re not out recruiting. If you have kids, you have more time to spend with them. Otherwise, football is football. Teaching is teaching. Coaching is coaching. There are plusses and minuses to every job. Everyone thinks, “Man if I got there, or got there, it will be so much better.” And that’s not true. It’s about making the best of where you’re at and enjoying it. Like I said the other day when I was in my press conference. They pay me to do my hobby. I coach football for a living. They pay me a lot of money. That’s a hell of a deal.

P   Your son, Travis, is nine years old. What do you do together when you have time? M   He loves every sport. He likes being active. I always like being out there with him. I enjoy that part of it. I get more nervous watching him play football than any player I’ve ever coached. It’s a little bit harder to watch your own kid than it is to watch guys you’ve coached. You want so much for him to do well hand have success. You also want him to have fun, enjoy being around other kids, you don’t want him to act like he’s not paying attention, or he’s jacking around. And that’s hard. For me.

P  What does your wife do? M   My wife has been mostly a stay-at-home mom, although right now she’s actually managing a limo company with friends of ours. She’s swamped with being in charge of drivers and getting limos different places. It’s a little overwhelming. She won’t do that obviously here. Trav is in the third grade now. She likes to work. My wife would prefer to have her own identity and work. But I would prefer she makes sure little man has his homework done and the house looks nice. Then, she can go play tennis and do whatever she wants to do. Once you work, it pulls from other areas. There are times when you’re gone and you know, one day, he’s going to be gone, and you’re going to wish you had these days back. There will come a time when he’ll be old enough where he won’t need you. He’s going to get into high school. He’ll leave for college. He’s going to be growing toward his friends and not need us there. But at this moment he needs us to be around. P  Is she excited to be coming back to Stillwater? M   Yes. To say the least. When Dana left, she wasn’t sleeping. I don’t know why. It’s not a hilarious story. It’s a funny story. She came in the bedroom. It was like five in the morning. She went, “Dana Holgorsen is leaving OSU. Do you want that job? Don’t we want to go back there?” That’s her at five in the morning. It was Colts week. I said, “Honey, we’ve got the Colts this week. We’re tying to win the division. I’m not even thinking about that.” We were still in the middle of the year. We had three games left and in her mind she was excited about coming back to OSU. She’s very good friends with Kristen Gundy, Mike’s wife. Mike and I are good friends. Now, she’s dealing with the house now and leaving friends. That’s the hard part.

79


P   Coach Holgorsen did a lot of great things for us. We had a fantastic offense and a great year, one for the record books in many, many ways. But he never moved out of his hotel room. I think the perception some of our fans had was that he wasn’t here to stay, that we were a brief stop on the way to another job. I think a lot of our fans are wondering if you and your wife are looking for a house in Stillwater.

80 may 2011

M   First and foremost, I think it’s unfair to Dana for people to assume that. Maybe the guy just liked living there. Maybe he was by himself, and it just made it easy on him. Which it is. It’s easy when someone can take care of your stuff, and each time you come back you’ve got a clean room. I know he spent a lot of time up here in this office and did a great job. I think that perception is a result of bitterness. With that being said, I’ve never taken a job thinking that I was leaving after a year. Someone asked me the other day what my goals were, or where I wanted to go from here. I’ve never, ever thought of it. Never. Sure, I’ve had it in the back of my mind, but you can’t control that. The only thing you can control is how hard you work. If you don’t work hard, the right opportunity might not come your way. If the right house comes available, and I can sell my house, I’ll buy one. I’m not opposed to that. If I have to rent one, I’ll rent one. If I have to live in a hotel room, then my family will live in a hotel. It won’t be because I’m leaving in a month or a year. It will be because it’s the best thing for my family. Everybody has their own reasons. I’ve never looked at it like “Okay, man, we’re going to have a great team coming back. We can win and I can get the hell out of there.” I just remembered I really liked it at OSU. I like Mike. This is a good place.

We can win games. It’s different than it was. It is different. Anybody who doesn’t realize that has just got their head stuck in the ground.


P   I know Brandon Weeden spent a lot of time last year working on his footwork and the timing of his throws during the off season. Have you two had the chance to meet much since you started? M   He’s been around every day. We’ve met on the offense. We’ve got to get where I’m comfortable with the system. He was as close to Dana as anybody. So we’re trying to assess what was done before without the guy who did it before. You’ve got to pick everybody’s brain on how they viewed it just like anything else. You try to pull as much as you can from what they like and what they didn’t like, not only schematically, but also how they went about their practices and how they went about their meetings. P   You’ve answered a lot of questions from the media and fans about what you’ll change of OSU’s offensive system. Any idea on how you’ll put your stamp on it? M   Mike liked the offense. His vision was for me to come in, learn it and keep it going, and see what things might need to be tweaked. It’s hard since I haven’t been in this offense to really dissect it and assess what I like. I have thoughts, but I haven’t seen it. With that being said there are certain things I think you can change subtly. Other things you’ve got to take a wait-and-see approach … I know what I like, and I know what they did, and some of it does mesh. I know what I’m coming into. I know they had a great year. They ran the ball well. They threw it well. I give unbelievable credit for what they did here. The staff and the players. It was fun to watch. I want to learn it. I want to run it the way Dana did. I want to score points. I want to win games. I want to do it exactly like he did. But I can’t do it that way. I would I like to, without question, but I can’t. I can’t teach it exactly that way. I can’t say it exactly the way he said it.

We’re going to score a lot of points. We’re going to have a hell of an offense and it’s going to be fun.

People have just got to trust that it is. But there’s a little, you know, uneasiness because of how successful we were. I get that. I get it.

P   Do you think that’s widespread, that unease? From most of the comments I’ve seen in the media, other places, the fans seem very excited to have you back. M   No, I don’t think it’s widespread. But there are the people who take the negative side on things like that. I’m just saying as a general rule, when a guy leaves after having had much success, there’s always anxiety. There always will be. Why this? Why not this? I can only tell you that it will be just fine. Everything will be OK. I’ve been running through the offense. We’ll be just fine.

P   Any way you shake it, it seems like a great time for you to come back to OSU, and a great time to be a football fan. M   Yeah, it’s very exciting. Where the program was when Mike took over after how Les left it. Mike having to build it up. The combination of the money put in to change the face of it. That gave you a chance. Now you just have a chance because other people have good facilities. You still have to make sure the players are buying in, working their rear ends off, getting better, and that you’re running a system that maximizes their ability. You’ve got to recruit your butt off. Keep getting good players and

taking the right guys. And they’ve done a great job of that. Out on the field with this team, you see guys with great attitudes and body language. The players’ lockers are looking sharp every single day. The discipline is evident. It’s apparent. All those things are exciting.

There are so many things that would be exciting no matter the position I was in on the staff. All you want is a chance. There’s nothing worse in coaching than feeling like you don’t have a chance. Because in this business no one cares how you feel. They just want you to get it done.

P   Have you been back to Vegas recently with Coach Gundy? M   We’ll go in the summer, I’m sure. There are always guys I’ve coached with and friends we’ve had who’ve gone every year. I’ve now gone every year in the summer with other coaches and their wives for almost 15 years now. We’ve invited anybody we’ve ever worked with to come with us. It’s not an exclusive club. It’s just fun for us to get away and relax. I would imagine we’re still going, that is unless I do something in the near future that pisses Mike off. I always tease him. I tell him, “You know, it used to be we could sit around and bitch about Les. I can’t sit around and bitch about you. I can’t do that.” I said, “I don’t know who I’m going to go to for that. Maybe I can go to Kristen. I can go to Kristen, and we can bitch together about you.” That’ll work out perfect.

P   That sounds fine. M   Yeah, it’ll be just fine. We can bitch about the boss.

81


That

It’s What’s Inside Counts

Have there ever been moments in your life where you came to the difficult realization you weren’t the sharpest pencil in the box ?

That despite what you wanted to believe about yourself and your brilliance, there was substantial evidence to the contrary? I’ve had my fair share of those. Probably more than I’m willing to admit. There was this one time when I was 12 … It was summer. It was hot. For some bizarre reason only other 12-year-old boys understand, I was drawn to the huge red-wasp nest in the shrubs. The buzz of activity in and around it caused me to more than inquisitive. I had never done much “research” in this area, but on this particular day I decided to do so. I would test my hypothesis about what would occur when the wasp nest was impacted by an Easton baseball bat. Surely the power and velocity of the blow would destroy the inhabitants of the nest. Wrong. And I wasn’t exactly dressed for the occasion, either. I’m reminded of the Kenny Chesney song: “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem.” Well, it was a problem. Twelve stings later, I remember thinking, “I’m not very smart.” While I’m at it, there was another incident when I was 12 (do you see a pattern here?). I was doing research on the results of centrifugal force, or the effects of how an object traveling

82

may 2011

in a circle behaves as if it is experiencing an outward force. My two study subjects were a small wagon and my sister Cathy. I thought it was entertaining to pull her in a rapid circular motion until gravity took its course and she flew across the yard. Dad was not a fan. He said stop, and I did. At least until I thought he was out of the line of sight. Translation: he went around to the back of the house and I decided to re-engage research. I thought what he couldn’t see wouldn’t hurt me. Wrong! He saw, and once again I was reminded of not being in the “smartest” category. I wasn’t dressed well for that situation either. I could have used an extra pair of pants or two. Now that I think of it, Cathy may have gotten the better end of that deal. There are a lot of people around the country right now who are not feeling very smart. All of the people who pretend to be experts in predicting which teams will have success in the NCAA Basketball Tournament (and other sports areas) are embarrassed to show their brackets. Surely this was going to be the year for the national powers to flex their muscles. The blue-bloods of the college basketball world would prevail in their quest to dominate through to the final four. Wrong! It seems someone forgot to tell Butler and Virginia Commonwealth they weren’t invited and that their weak conferences couldn’t

prepare them for the rigors of the Madness of March. Wrong again. Most of the professional prognosticators felt like Butler and VCU had a “wasp of a chance” when facing the power of the number one seeds, the fatigue and the travel. Not very smart. Of course I was right there with them, and this time I couldn’t blame it on 12-year-old intelligence. It’s hard to measure motivation — that which is inside a team or an individual and inspires them beyond what is seemingly possible. A first glance indicates a lack of talent or shortage of depth. It’s easy to overlook. What you can’t see is the drive, the hard work, blood, sweat and tears it took to get to a place others take for granted. When you think about those things, teams begin to take on a whole other hue. From blue-blood to … Orange or any other “bright color” associated with success. You begin to believe that for a few days in March and April, teams like Butler and VCU had ’em right where they wanted ’em. We like that kind of attitude around here, too, don’t we?! It kind of reminds you of Cowboy ethics, determination and toughness. Kyle Wray Associate Vice President Enrollment Management & Marketing

Go Pokes!


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Mike Holder participation in OSU athletics is vital to our success. Go Pokes! Our baseball and softball teams spent the entire season ranked...

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