Page 1


We’ve jUSt COnClUded

One Of the mOst successful in the hiStOry OF fall seasOnsOSU athletiCS.

The men’s cross country team won its second consecutive national championship, our soccer team went to the elite eight, and the football team won its most-ever regular season victories. None of this would be possible without the support of season ticket holders and donors.

4

It’s not too early to start thinking about season tickets for the 2011 football season. Most of the starters from a team that finished the regular season 10-2 are returning. Tickets are on sale now, and prices have been reduced in 10 sections of Boone Pickens Stadium.

When you join up with the POSSE and buy season tickets to any sport, you’re helping to sustain OSU Athletics and making sure our student-athletes receive a quality education. To get your tickets, call 1-877-ALL-4OSU, or visit www.OkStAte.cOm . As AlwAys, tHAnk you for your support of osu AtHletics.

Mike Holder Director of intercollegiate athletics

December 2010

Former OSU Men’s Golf Coach OSU Class of 1973


D e c e m b e r 20 10  Vo l .   4   n o.  2

Features 24 28 34 46 60 68 74 78

  R u n n i n g   R e p e at   B y e  W e e k

  S e a S o n e n d i n g   i S  J u S t  t h e  B e g i n n i n g   e l i t e p l ay- B y- p l ay   F o R t h o S e  o F yo u  W h o d o n ’ t  yo u t u B e  …   R o o m W i t h  a V i e W

18 14 16 18 20 82

  l e t t e R F R o m   t h e  d i R e c to R

  l e aV i n g   a l e g acy   F i R S t   to  5 0   t h e   15 0   S e t t l i n g  F o R e xc e l l e n c e   W R aV ! n g S

  o R a n g e  W h e e l S   Fa m o u S F o ot W e a R

About the Cover

Center baCk Melinda “Minnie” MerCado (left) , all-big 12 goalie a.d. FranCh (center) , and 2010 Cowgirl leading sCorer krista lopez (right) . the trio led the Cowgirls to a big 12 tournaMent ChaMpionship, and the teaM’s First ever elite eight appearanCe in the 2010 nCaa ChaMpionship tournaMent. Cover Photo by Phil ShoCkley

5


10 %

and G

et

Me ntio n Th is A d

You r Ne xt O OFF rde r!

Now oPeN iN STiLLwaTer

Printing • Variable Data • Mailing Services • Wearables Award Winning Design • Advertising Specialties www.allegraSW.com

Dustin Holder - dholder@allegraSW.com 405-372-8500 • 205 West 7th , Ste 201F • Stillwater, OK 74074 918-496-3444 • 7707 East 38th St • Tulsa, OK 74145


posse magazine posse magazine sTaff

Kyle Wray

Director of Marketing eD itor- in- chief

Cory Cheney Paul V. Fleming

art Director | Designer

Director of Photogra Phy

Phil ShoCKley gary laWSon

contributing Photogra Pher contributing Writers

Clay Billman , matt elliot , Keegan DaViS , Karen hanCoCK marK Pennie , Valerie KiSling , Jenny Parnell , KaDy laWSon

contributing D esigners

aThleTics annual giving (posse) developmenT sTaff assistant athletic Director | Posse  

JeSSe martin

ellen ayreS

assistant Develo PMent Director Pre M iuM services Director

Karyl henry

Publications coor Dinator

Clay Billman mary leWiS

Progra Ms coorD inator | b enefits

e vent coor Dinator | gaM e Day Parking Manager athletic Develo PM ent a ssistant

anDy Sumrall

StePhanie BoeSe

aThleTics major gifT developmenT sTaff associate v ice Presi D ent of Develo PM ent s enior Director of Major g ifts

Director of Major gifts | club seats Project Manager

Craig ClemonS

larry reeCe matt grantham

ShaWn taylor

osu posse 102 athletics center stillWater, ok 74078-5070

p

405.744.7301 or 877.2B.PoSSe

f

405.744.9084

WWW.oKStatePoSSe.Com PoSSe@oKState.eDu a dv e r T i s i n g ediTorial

405.744.7301

405.744.7192

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/Dec.. 2010/#3288.

Special ThankS T h e O k l a hOm a S tat e U n i v e rSi 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 i T y h a s m a d e P O S S E m ag a z i n E p o s s i b l e .

7


Dear

COWBOY

FANS:

To say 2010 was a good year for Cowboy and Cowgirl sporTs would be an undersTaTemenT.

if yOu EvEr wOndErEd if yOur POSSE dOnatiOnS makE a diffErEnCE, yOu nEEd lOOk nO furthEr than thE rESultS Our StudEnt-athlEtES PrOduCE On thE fiEld and in thE ClaSSrOOm.

None of this would have happened without your support of the POSSE and OSU Athletics, and for that, we say thank you.

8

To recap the year: Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams finished successful seasons and played in the NCAA tournament. The SOftBall tEam played in the NCAA tournament, as did the mEn’S tEnniS tEam, with 2009 ita PlayEr Of thE yEar OlEkSandr nEdOvyESOv being named an All-American and an Academic All-American once again. The mEn’S gOlf tEam played for the national championship, and sophomore PEtEr uihlEin was a first-team all amEriCan as well as the winner of the u.S. amatEur. This fall was especially exciting in OSU sports. The Cowboy CrOSS COuntry tEam won its second consecutive national title in dominating fashion. natiOnal COaCh Of thE yEar davE Smith’s squad scored 73 team points, easily outpacing the second place squad by 120 points – one of the largest winning margins in NCAA history. The victory gave OSU its 50th NCAA overall team championship in the process. OSU’s trophy total is tops in the Big 12 Conference and ranks fourth nationally (behind only UCLA, Stanford and USC). COwgirl SOCCEr claimed a Big 12 title for the

third-straight season by winning the conference tournament. The team set school records for wins (20-4-2) and hosted the program’s first NCAA postseason action, advancing to the ElitE Eight. The squad finished the season ranked No. 5 nationally. The fOOtBall tEam went 10-2 in the regular season, won a share of the Big 12 South, and played Arizona in the alamO BOwl. Head Coach mikE gundy was named the Big 12 COaCh Of thE yEar, while a number of players earned individual accolades. Big 12 PlayEr Of thE yEar JuStin BlaCkmOn was a unanimous all-amEriCan and won the BilEtnikOff award recognizing him as the country’s best wide receiver. Place kicker dan BailEy was the Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year as well as the Lou Groza Award recipient. Senior tailback kEndall huntEr was named to a number of first-team All-America lists in addition to being a first-team All-Big 12 selection. BrandOn wEEdEn broke numerous school records for offense and was named the conference’s top quarterback. And those are just some of the team’s post-season accolades! (Visit okstate.com for the complete

rundown of OSU’s spectacular season.) None of this would have happened without your support of the POSSE and OSU Athletics, and for that, we say thank you. As we get into the thick of the winter sports season, the excitement heats up in Gallagher-Iba Arena with Cowboy and Cowgirl basketball and wrestling. If you don’t already have tickets, there’s still time to be a part of the action. If you know someone who would like to join the POSSE, please call us at 877-2B-POSSE or visit 877-2B-POSSE . A POSSE membership is also a great gift — get your friends and family involved today! The POSSe iS yOur Team Behind The TeamS.

JeSSe marTin December 2010

AssistAnt AD / POssE OklAhOmA stAtE AthlEtics

jesse.h.martin@okstate.edu 877-2B-POSSE (ext. 3322)


10 December 2010


11 Justin Blackmon – WR

PhotograPhy by

Phil Shockley

Biletnikoff AwArd winner (America’s Best Wide Receiver) PAul wArfield AwArd winner (Best Wide Receiver) first-teAm All-AmericAn (Walter Camp) first-teAm All-AmericAn (Associated Press) first-teAm All-AmericAn (FWAA) first-teAm All-AmericAn (AFCA) first-teAm All-AmericAn (The Sporting News) first-teAm All-AmericAn (Rivals.com, CBSSports.com) first-teAm All-AmericAn (SI.com) Big 12 offensive PlAyer of the yeAr (Coaches) Big 12 offensive PlAyer of the yeAr (Associated Press) fifth-PlAce finisher for the heismAn troPhy first-teAm All-Big 12 (Coaches and Associated Press)


12 PhotograPhy by

December 2010

Gary Lawson


Kendall Hunter – rB

First-team all-american (AFCA) First-team all-american (Walter Camp) First-team all-american (Associated Press) second-team all-american (Rivals.com, CBSSports.com) second-team all-american (SI.com) Finalist, doak Walker aWard (one of three nationally) oFFicially recognized Heisman tropHy candidate (by the Heisman Trust) First-team all-Big 12 (Coaches and Associated Press) Finalist, loWe’s senior class aWard (one of 10 nationally)

13


Leav ing a Legacy

S c h o l a r S h i p

E n d o w m E n t

c a m p a i g n

r E a c h E S

m i l E S t o n E

as of this magazine issue’s press, 75 su pport e r s h av e com mi t t e d mor e t h a n $40 mi l l ion i n gif t s, pl e dge s a n d de f e r r e d gi f t s to t h e “l e av e a l egac y” e n dow e d schol a r sh i p ca m pa ign.

Prior to the campaign, OSU stood alone in last place. According to 2006 data, Texas A&M led athletic endowment funds with $60 million. Relative to endowed dollars in the Big 12 Conference, Oklahoma State is now ranked second and gaining ground. Due to the incredible support and generosity of the Cowboy faithful, a larger number of student-athletes will receive scholarships, travel, academic support, strength and conditioning, housing, food, etc. through endowed funds and associated investments.

$115M $100M $85M $70M $55M

$35M

$40M $25M $10M 0

“This is a great way to leave an ongoing legacy at Oklahoma State in our family’s name — it is a privilege to give back in this area and we are excited about the future of Oklahoma State and OSU Athletics,” says recent campaign donors Bill and Sally Cunningham. The campaign goal is to raise $115

This is a great way to leave an on-going legacy at Oklahoma State in our family’s name. It is a privilege to give back in this area and we are excited about the future of Oklahoma State and OSU Athletics. — Jim and LaVerna Cobb

Why the success? Oklahoma State supporters find it very appealing. It’s a combination of athletic and academic philanthropic support. Scholarships directly impact a student-athlete’s life during his or her years at Oklahoma State, preparing them for athletic competition and, more importantly, post-graduation. Supporters are literally providing funding for a young woman or young man’s scholastic pursuit so that whether or not they go into professional sports after graduation, they’ll have a college education and the opportunity for success in the marketplace.

14

million, totally endowing 229 athletic scholarships in 18 sports. This actually accounts for financially assisting 467 student athletes via full and partial scholarships. There is a secondary effect of having all the athletic scholarships endowed: it has a direct bottom-line impact on the athletic department’s $53 million operating budget. Once we complete the campaign and fully endow each scholarship, the department can redirect the $4.5–5 million annual scholarship expense toward specific needs including coaching, support staff, travel, recruiting and capital improvements — all elements necessary to being more competitive in every sport.

Built within the institutional Branding Success campaign, there are three levels of endowments: the Position Scholarship Endowment ($500,000); the Team Scholarship Endowment ($250,000); and the First Quarter Scholarship Endowment ($125,000). At certain levels, donors choose which sport and even which position their endowment will fund. Donors can take up to 10 years to pay off their commitment. Beyond respective tax deductions awarded by these charitable contributions, OSU is one of the few Division I athletic departments awarding priority points for endowment commitments — both for cash or stock gifts and planned (testamentary) gifts. Donors can use points for premium seat upgrades, post-season ticket requests and so on. Roughly half of the committed funds are associated with a donor’s bequest, estate planning, life insurance or charitable trust. True to the name of the campaign, the university plans to commemorate each donor’s contribution in a significant and creative way. Recognition will be a way of expressing the department’s appreciation for a supporter making a significant impact on the school they love. On behalf of student-athletes, our coaching staff, faculty and administration, thank you to all the supporters of OSU Athletics — we are poised for great things and the future is bright orange. by Craig Clemons

December 2010


Oklahoma State is the first Big 12 school to capture 50 national team championships.

16 December 2010

That’s four more than Texas, and 26 more than Oklahoma, which rank second and third in the Big 12, respectively. No. 50 occurred Nov. 22, 2010, when the men’s cross country team captured the national title in dramatic fashion, scoring the fourth-largest margin of victory in the event’s history.

Oklahoma State Texas

50 46

Oklahoma

24

Colorado

23

Nebraska

20

Iowa State

13

Kansas

10

Texas A&M

9

Baylor

2

Missouri

2

Texas Tech

1


Boone & Madeleine Pickens  6,082,205 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23.

Malone & Amy Mitchell Sherman & Eloise Smith John A. Clerico Karsten Manufacturing W & W Steel Co. Ross & Billie McKnight Walt & Peggy Helmerich III A.J. & Susan Jacques Ed & Jana Evans Robert A. Funk ONEOK, Inc. Mike & Robbie Holder 56,172 Harold & Joyce Courson Gary & Jerri Sparks Vickie & Tucker Link Foundation Joe & Connie Mitchell Patrick & Patricia Cobb Stillwater National Bank Dennis & Cindy Reilley Bob Howard Home National Bank Richard & Barbara Bogert

18 December 2010

24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47.

Joullian & Co. Chad Clay Watson Family Foundation Kent & Margo Dunbar James & Mary Barnes Anonymous Donor OG&E OSU President’s Office Flintco, Inc. Lew & Suzanne Meibergen 28,725 Greg & Rhonda Casillas United Supermarket Blueknight Energy Partners, LP Sparks Financial Jon & Suzanne Wiese Philip & Shannon Smith Andy Johnson Jay & Connie Wiese Bryant J. Coffman Jameson Family, LLC Brad & Margie Schultz OSU Foundation Garland & Penny Cupp David Bradshaw

48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55. 56. 57. 58. 59. 60. 61. 62. 63. 64. 65. 66. 67. 68. 69. 70. 71.

Bob & Kay Norris Sandra M. Lee Sally Sparks KNABCO Corp Les & Cindy Dunavant Chesapeake Energy Inc Berkeley Manor Enterprises Mark & Lisa Snell 19,048 Neal & Jeanne Patterson Vicki & Jim Click American Fidelity Anonymous Donor Richard & Joan Welborn Thomas & Barbara Naugle K.D. & Leitner Greiner Calvin & Linda Anthony Jerry & Lynda Baker Harvey & Donna Yost Ed & Mary Malzahn David LeNorman John & Gail Shaw Scott & Kim Verplank Ike & Mary Beth Glass Lambert Construction


72. 73. 74. 75. 76. 77. 78. 79. 80. 81. 82. 83. 84. 85. 86. 87. 88. 89. 90. 91. 92. 93. 94. 95. 96.

BancFirst Wittwer Construction Bank of Oklahoma Johnsons of Kingfisher Larry Bump Jerry & Rae Winchester AEI Corporation – Oklahoma Dennis & Karen Wing Russ & Julie Teubner Austin & Betsy Kenyon James D. Carreker John & Jerry Marshall Ameristar Diane & Steve Tuttle Jack & Joyce Stuteville Emrick’s Van & Storage Anonymous Atlas Paving Company Norman & Suzanne Myers Larry & Shirley Albin Chandler USA, Inc Ron & Marilynn McAfee Bill & Claudean Harrison Russ Harrison & Natalie Shirley A-Cross Ranch 11,820

97. 98. 99. 100. 101. 102. 103. 104. 105. 106. 107. 108. 109. 110. 111. 112. 113. 114. 115. 116. 117. 118. 119. 120. 121. 122. 123.

Jay & Fayenelle Helm Bob & Tammie Tway Shaw’s Gulf Dennis & Bonnie Smith Southwest Filter Co. F & M Bank & Trust Tom & Sandy Wilson John & Sue Taylor Greg & Kay Massey Titleist & FootJoy Worldwide David & Marellie Littlefield Terry & Martha Barker John & Patti Brett Chris & Julie Bridges Ron Stewart Bob & Mary Haiges Z-Equipment, LLC Darton & Jamie Zink Bill & Laurie Dobbs Brent & Mary Jane Wooten OSU Center for Health Sciences The Siegenthaler Family Henry Wells Charles E. Beaver Ed & Kathy Raschen The Bank of America Drummond Investments

124. 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.

Mark & Susan Morrow Tulsa World Griff & Mindi Jones John Dunn Jr. Fred & Kellie Harlan Connie & Stephen Tatum Mark & Beth Brewer Pixley Lumber Co. Bill & Karen Anderson E.K. Gaylord Stan & Shannon Clark Jack Bowker Ford Jack Allen Jr. Thomas & Cheryl Hamilton Randy & Pati Thurman 8,782 Southern Cross Alliance, LLC Donald Coplin The Oklahoman John & Delone Hessel MidFirst Bank Steve & Judy Thurman Philip & Susan Ryan Randall & Carol White Roy & Norma Townsdin OSU Alumni Association Justin & Karla Hoose John & Terri Smith

19 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.

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 December 1St, 2010? POintS rAnk 130,975

Top 5

20,762

50

10,512

100

4,734

250

2,342

500

1,085

1,000

351

2,500

75

5,000

15

7,500

photo / Gary Lawson


.Settling for

20

To alumnus Chuck Watson, Oklahoma State was one of the first places he could put down roots.

December 2010

ExcEllEncE When he was young, the Watson family moved around a lot. His father had spent 16 years in the Navy, before going on to work for the Federal government. “Today, you’d call him a public economist,” says Watson. “Today, you’d hire him to go in and fill up your industrial park. The problem with that is that once the industrial park was full …” Before enrolling at OSU, he’d attended 22 schools in nine different states.

“I was always the new kid in school,” says Watson, “and that always comes with challenges.” In the end, he graduated in Ft. Smith, Ark., and set his sights on attending OSU. Paying in-state or out-ofstate tuition wasn’t really a consideration for him; he hadn’t been in any one state long enough to qualify. What he wanted was an opportunity to play basketball for Henry Iba. “I was attracted to OSU for two reasons. First, I thought I had an

opportunity to come over and play for Henry Iba, and I was anxious to do that. Second, I was intrigued by the business department and its bent toward economics.” As fate would have it, Watson injured his back in a car accident during his senior year of high school, and soon after arriving at OSU and trying out for the team, he re-aggravated the injury. “I was never able to pass the physical after that,” he says.


Not being able to play ball left him with a lot of time to pursue other things. He became active in the student government and with the business school. He became very involved with his fraternity, Sigma Chi. “I’ve always tried to be very active in whatever I do,” says Watson. “As a result (of being active in all those extracurricular activities), I didn’t put as much emphasis on academics as I would’ve liked. But I got by.” He “got by” decently after college, as well. His professional résumé is packed full of successes. He was the founder of The Natural Gas Clearinghouse, which later became known as Dynegy. He was named a Master Entrepreneur by Ernst and Young in 2001, and inducted into the Texas Business Hall of fame. He later founded Eagle Energy Partners. He serves on numerous boards, and is the principal of Caldwell Watson. He is a minority owner of the Houston Texans. In 2002, Watson received the Henry G. Bennett Distinguished Service Award from OSU. In his bio for the award, it was stated that Watson, “Through his many accomplishments as a dynamic leader in global business and his personal dedication to educational, social and humanitarian concerns, Mr. Chuck Watson has brought great honor and distinction to himself, his family his alma mater and his nation.” Watson was inducted into the Spears School of Business Hall of Fame in 1996, and the Alumni Association Hall of Fame in 1997. He also brought to OSU the Watson Trading Floor.

Watson has always kept his relationship with his alma mater and his fraternity prominent in his life. He’s currently Chairman of the Board of the Sigma Chi Fraternity, and has served as Chairman of the board of the OSU Foundation. “My four years at OSU clearly prepared me for the business world,” Watson says. “The combination of my education and the skill set I learned being in a fraternity gave me all the skills I needed to succeed.”

“We have endowed full scholarships both wrestling and basketball, both named after my wife’s parents. I’ve always been a supporter of the athletIc department, as

We also have several other endowed scholarships in the Business school and the College of Education,” says Watson. The Watsons also have planned insurance gifts to the university. “I think it’s very important to not only give back to my school and well as the school.

The WaTsons are e xcep Tiona l supporTers,” says cr aig clemons, associaTe aD. “The y have sTeppeD up WiTh significanT commiTmenTs in e ach campaign During my nine se asons WiTh ok l ahoma sTaTe. chuck anD k im Were a lso among The firsT supporTers To conTribuTe seeD mone y funDing The “remember The Ten” run, Which honors are fa llen osu family members anD proviDes funDing for professional, on-campus counseling services To faculT y anD sTuDenTs facing a crisis. We are prouD of The WaTsons’ accomplishmenTs anD very gr aTeful for Their loya l, significanT supporT To our a lma maTer”.

Watson met his wife, Kim, (herself a College of Education Hall of Fame member) while a freshman at OSU. They were married in 1972. They have three children — Brian, Keri and Carly — and all three are OSU graduates. “We have a lot of Cowboy in our blood,” says Watson. “I honestly didn’t think any of the three would attend OSU. We always attended OSU events, however, and they saw a lot of Orange growing up.” The Watsons still see a lot of Orange. They have floor seats for men’s basketball, and a suite on the north side of Boone Pickens Stadium for football. But they show their support in more ways than attendance and cheering.

to help my fraternity, but also the community. osu has been very good to us ,” says Watson. “We enjoyed our time there. We felt like we grew socially and professionally, and it prepared us well for life’s challenges. “I’ve never been very good at settling for average,” says Watson. “I’m particularly delighted that the university has had so many improvement campaigns, for physical aspects and scholarships, and for professorships and students. Each campaign helps make OSU better than it was the year before. “As long as I can keep saying that, I’ll be happy.”

21


22 December 2010


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Running Repeat Men’s Cross Country te aM Wins 2nd nationa l

24

ChaMpionship in t Wo ye ars

DecembeR 2010

Winning a national championship in any NCAA sport is difficult. Winning two years in a row is a monumental feat. But that’s exactly what OSU’s men’s cross country team did on Nov. 22, in Terre Haute, Ind. And they didn’t just win, they dominated, finishing with the fourth largest margin of victory in NCAA Men’s Cross Country Championship history. Three Cowboys — German

Fernandez, Girma Mecheso and Colby Lowe — finished in the top 10. Two more — Tom Farrell and Johnathan Stublaski — also earned All-American status by placing in the top 40. “It was awesome. Just really proud of the guys. They’ve worked extremely hard since last year. They didn’t just rest on winning one championship. They were focused to win this one,” says Cowboy Head Coach Dave Smith.


You have to be on, and you have to have some kind of

luck along the way. Not only did we beat teams, but we destroyed them. That really sends a message that we’re one of the top-ranked teams in the nation.”

2010 NCAA Cross CouNtry ChAmpioNships Men’s Team Results (Top 5) 1. Oklahoma State – 73 2. Florida State – 193 3. Wisconsin – 223 4. Stanford – 237 5. Oklahoma – 281 Men’s OSU Results 7. Girma Mecheso – 29:47.5 8. German Fernandez – 29:49.3 9. Colby Lowe – 29:57.6 29. Tom Farrell – 30:21.3 36. Johnathan Stublaski – 30:26.9 66. Joseph Manilafasha – 30:45.0 167. Ryan Prentice – 31:45.5

“This is very special because it’s very hard to win back-to-back championships,” says Fernandez. “You have to be on and you have to have some kind of luck along the way. Not only did we beat teams, but we destroyed them. That really sends a message that we’re one of the top-ranked teams in the nation.” “It solidifies us as a legitimate top program and one of the best programs in the country,” adds Smith. “Maybe

winning one is lucky, like catching lightning in a bottle, but to win backto-back and to cement yourself as one of the top programs in the country does wonders for our recruiting and for each individual runner on our team. Now every time that we do well, it gives them that much more confidence in themselves and in how we’re training and in what we are doing.” The win was also historic for OSU. It was the university’s 50th

national team championship, a feat not matched by any other school in the Big 12. “That’s awesome,” says Smith. “I love this university. I love the athletic department. The entire athletic department is going in the right direction. With soccer going as far as they did and football having such a great season, everybody is just rolling. We’re just thrilled to be a part of it.”

25


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C

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Bye Week story by photos by

28 December 2010

Matt Elliott

Gary Lawson


Of course, he wouldn’t have it It was a dry and hot late summer any other way. But he joked that day in Stillwater. It would’ve been his wife, Melanie, who works for a perfect were it not for the 30 mph dentist in Stillwater, is the one with a wind whipping the golf course. full-time job. Weeden, at the time holding the His mother, Shari Weeden, said nation’s second-highest passing yards baseball’s even-keel pace suited his total, stepped out from behind the personality more than football. wheel of a golf cart to stretch. His red “There’s a seriousness about him, hair was tucked under a black OSU and it probably kind of started last ball cap. His right thumb was taped and splinted, an injury suffered during the first game of the season, Throwing a ninetya 65-17 destruction of Washington mile per hour fastball State, when he bounced his hand is one thing, but locating off of a teammate’s helmet during a throw. it consistently is harder “It’s the worst pain I’ve ever than throwing a fade.” felt,” said Weeden, cracking a spring,” his mother said. “I think half-smile as he paused from practicthat’s just him trying to wrap his head ing his swing. “You’ve just got to around this whole situation. I think he play through it. I’m trying to see if has handled it well … He’s got a lot I can take the ball from the center on his mind.” differently.” No wonder he takes to golf. The This golfing trip came during the game back in September included the bye week before a much-heralded placekicker, Dan Bailey (who would tussle with Texas A&M (he would go on to have one of the best years throw for 284 yards and two touchfor a kicker in school history), holder downs in a 38-35 victory), his last Wes Harlan, and quarterback Clint break before a run at the Big 12 Chelf, who joined him outside the Championship and OSU history − one clubhouse. Receiver Josh Cooper and more shot at gridiron glory for a guy punter Quinn Sharp joined another who last year was just hoping to play. group behind them as they drove off A few days before the golf game, he for the greens. Jason Aldean played on torched the Golden Hurricane for 409 a small stereo in his golf cart. passing yards and six touchdowns Bailey jumped off to an early lead. — all before leaving the game in the Brandon was rusty, having not played third quarter. Golf is Weeden’s weekly escape story continues from football. It keeps him from tightening up too much after a game. He can walk under the trees on the green grass, under the blue sky and not worry about classes or the expectations of 50,000 fans watching his every move under the Boone Pickens Stadium lights. That week, football had been keeping him off the green.

By now, you k now how the se ason turned out for osu QB Br andon weeden. But Back in sep temBer, he was a guy with a wounded thumB enjoying his second chance to pl ay a sport he might’ve forgot ten how much he loved. his te am was winning, But under the r adar, and weeden was gener a lly just having a good time. he a llowed posse to tag a long while he and some te ammates pl ayed a round of golf.

29


Photo / Phil shockley

Clean exChange

Weeden hands the ball to All-American RB Kendall Hunter.

30 December 2010

since Washington State about three weeks before. “Feelin’ it, huh?” he said as Bailey sank a 40-foot putt. “Not bad … That was sweet, man.” At that point in his junior season at OSU, every sportswriter had written the same story about Brandon. His 6-5 frame. His rocket arm. His years with the Yankees. His age (27). But one question no one had asked him until that day was this: Which is tougher to throw, a 90 mph fastball, or a “fade route” to Justin Blackmon? The wind whipped the green. The others teed off, their shots carried away by the breeze. Locusts hummed in the trees. Brandon didn’t need a second to think about it. “It’s way harder to throw a fastball,” he said. “It’s just totally different. I

mean, just throwing a ninety-mile per hour fastball is one thing, but locating it consistently is harder than throwing a fade.” Baseball is a whole other can of worms. Staring down designated hitters. Twisting his body around his throws. Uncurling his right arm just before he fires the ball from his hand. Placing the ball precisely above home plate, and area just 17 inches wide and 60 feet six inches away from the pitcher’s mound. “On the other side of the coin, while you’re throwing a deep ball, you always have guys trying to take your head off, or put pressure on you, unlike throwing off of a pitcher’s mound, where you are by yourself. Plus me and Justin work on that play all the time.” But surely his job was tougher this year. Running a no-huddle offense. Calling out blocking assignments. Making hot reads at the line. Watching how the safeties line up. Reading blitzes. Dodging 300-pound defensive linemen as he’s attempting to throw an oddly shaped ball down the field. “They both have their difficulties,” he said. It’s a far cry from the minor leagues. Drafted out of high school by the New York Yankees in 2002, Weeden was surrounded by stars on the roster, guys with names like Jeter and Rodriguez. He remembered chatting with the team’s late owner, George Steinbrenner during spring training. Things didn’t pan out. The Yanks traded him to the Dodgers. He spent several years on farm teams and suffered a painful shoulder injury before retiring in 2006 to attend college.


“It’s a hard road,” his mom said. “Some organizations have great turnout for their games. But we went to some of Brandon’s games where there were 200 people in the stadium. “In Stillwater, it’s been exciting and a little nerve-wracking. I think we feel the pressure more than he does — wanting to do well, leading the team and all that stuff. But people have been wonderful. Even here in Edmond, we’ll get notes in the mail. Our husband went to our family doctor, and he just went on and on about Brandon. It’s been overwhelming.” In the media, columnists debated if OSU was a serious contender for the Big 12 South title this year. They predicted OSU to finish 2010 close to last in the league because of lost players to exhausted eligibility and the NFL. Perhaps they confused OSU orange with burnt orange (the Longhorns went 5-7). Led by Weeden, who finished the season with the nation’s second-best per game yardage total, OSU went 10-2 for the first time in the regular season, missing the Big 12 South title game only after a hotlycontested loss to the Sooners. Before the season, sportswriters panned Weeden’s abilities, or, more understandably, pegged him as a unknown quantity for OSU. Later in the year, one columnist compared him to Forrest Gump, the dim-witted lovable star of the 1994 blockbuster of the same name. In the film, Gump, played by Tom Hanks, was a simpleton who unwittingly worked his way into historic events, “Hallmark moments” and unlikely successes. The comparison couldn’t be further off. For one, Weeden is clearly not an idiot. And his success this year was anything but effortless. He worked

tirelessly since taking over the team last spring. He didn’t go home over the summer. He worked on his timing and his footwork in the pocket. The guy’s accolades for 2010 were unbelievable. He was the first school quarterback in history to throw for more than 4,000 yards. With 32 touchdown passes, he broke Josh Fields’ 2002 record of 31. Oh, and by the way, he also set singleseason records for total offense and completions. He made the All-Big 12 first team. He was even mentioned by some as a dark-horse Heisman candidate. He developed a chemistry with sophomore receiver and 2010 Big 12 Player of the Year Justin Blackmon. Blackmon was nearly nonexistent last year but obliterated opponents in 2010, leading the nation in receiving yards at 1,665 at the end of the regular season, just eight yards shy Larry Fitzgerald’s national record. Does it bother Weeden that the media widely panned his abilities in the preseason? Who knows? He doesn’t let on. During the golf game, and any other time he was in front of the media, he rarely broke from his halfcocked smile and likeable demeanor. Even under adverse circumstances, such as that golf game, where he was losing to the kicker — the kicker, for Pete’s sake — he was patient and accommodating of silly questions, like how hard it is to throw a fastball. He even tried not to swear at his performance because he knew someone was writing down what he said — as much as he’d liked to have cursed that last shot that sliced through a tree. Weeden’s partner for the game, Chelf, wasn’t helping. He struck shots that careened off trees, cratered in

the rough and sometimes just flat-out disappeared. “We’ll have to get that one in a couple of holes,” remarked Weeden to laughs from the group, after one of Chelf’s shots flew 100 yards off course. A few seconds later, Josh Cooper hit Wes Harlan in the back while Harlan was sitting in a golf cart. Harlan, yelped in pain and surprise, but was unharmed, and resumed texting a girl he was trying to get a date with for the evening. Frustrated at their game, talk turned away from golf. “All of us, except for Clint, are into some kind of fantasy football. There’s some trash talking there,” said Weeden, with a knowing smile. Playing for bragging rights instead of bucks, Clint’s brother, Colton, was leading the league at the time. Brandon was in second place. Also in their league was former OSU QB Zac Robinson. Robinson, a Detroit Lion, led OSU’s offense for three record-breaking years. He surpassed coach Mike Gundy’s career passing record despite an injurymarred senior season in 2009. “And I’m up twenty points on him as of Monday Night Football tonight,” Weeden laughed. By the 15th hole, Bailey had a huge lead, despite at least one bogey. “Dan is kicking our butts,” Weeden lamented. “It’s all that time kickers have on their hands, man.” It was all tied up by the final hole when Bailey sank a putt for the win. Their brief bit of rest had ended. It was time to get back to work. The players packed up their stuff and split much quicker than they arrived. Everyone had a date with the training table back at OSU — and football.

31


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story by

34 December 2010

Matt Elliott


OSU iS crazy gOOd.

osU teams are NcAA postseason regulars.

the cross country team won the national championship the last two years. cowboy basketball is back. And football just completed another recordsetting season. coaches and players get the credit. But behind the scenes a core of staff keep the programs running. they tutor student-athletes, make travel arrangements and set up fan events. of no less importance are the dedicated few who keep osU’s 420 student-athletes performing at a high level. seven athletic trainers and two doctors provide free health care for osU student athletes, regardless of whether or not they are on scholarship. Well-versed in the latest developments in sports medicine, they’ll handle anything from a dislocated pinky to a blown-out knee. they come in to work early and go home late. their responsibilities are much larger than their paychecks. At times, the hopes of thousands of fans, alumni and players’ families rest on their shoulders. Photo / Phil shockley

story continues

35


Photo / Gary Lawson

a few lucky players entrust those athletic trainers with the knees, shoulders, elbows and backs that will help them make millions as professional athletes. athletes’ health also affects tickets sales. nothing fills up a stadium like winning, and no one wins without healthy players. the following are a few stories about how osU’s sports medicine professionals have helped studentathletes who suffered major injuries. stressed oUt

I

t started as a slight pain in his knee. Star freshman basketball recruit Ray Penn wasn’t having anything of it though. He was trying to make a name for himself as a tough-as-nails point guard in the unforgiving Big 12. Penn had just gotten his first taste of Bedlam, and it was a brutal one, a 62-57 overtime loss in Norman. He was second among Big 12 freshmen in assists per game. His turnovers were low, and he was learning coach Travis Ford’s upbeat offense. “One day I was playing in practice, and I felt some pain below my left knee,” Penn says, during a break before practice one October in Gallagher-Iba Arena. “It wasn’t too bad. I figured I’d keep playing and see what happens.”

36

December 2010

He played a few games. But after a while the pain became too intense, even for the kid with something to prove. He had an MRI, and Dr. Mark Pascale, the team’s orthopedic surgeon, found a “stress reaction” in his shinbone. A stress reaction occurs when tissue reacts to a repeated trauma that builds up over time. Penn’s shinbone was reacting to the constant wear and tear of practices, training and games. Below the knee, it’s common among athletes who spend a lot of time running and jumping. Penn sat out a few games and the pain subsided, so he came back. After a couple games, he had broken his leg. His wheels had given out. Making matters worse was the fact that he had just recovered from a shoulder injury that kept him from practicing with his new team before his freshman season started.

“Sometimes it just happens,” Penn says. “It was very hard because I was feeling like I was finally embracing what was in front of me ... but things happen. You can’t dwell on it.” Per Pascale’s recommendations, Jason Miller, the team’s athletic trainer, put Penn’s leg in a cast and forced him to stay off of it. “He is stubborn, so that was part of it,” Miller says. “Also, the cast took all the stress off the bone, and that allowed it to heal better and more quickly. Penn says, “If they’d put me in a boot, I’d take it off and walk on it.” Rest is the only thing that can heal a stress fracture. Miller says it took effort to convince Penn it was necessary, and he wasn’t happy about it. He missed the rest of the season. “I don’t blame him,” Miller says. “But he realized it was a chance to work on the rest of his body and mind to get more prepared for the future.” To heal, it took 45 minutes of rehab per day and months of rest. Miller says it was also important to understand what caused the stress reaction, so he could ensure the injury didn’t


A bump in the roAd

A

nnika Niemeier had all of her classes finished for her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. A native of a small skiing town in central Germany, she was hoping

to just take a few electives and play soccer. Niemeier is a star at midfielder for Colin Carmichael’s Cowgirls. In 2009, she was an All-Big 12 first teamer and led the conference with seven game-winning goals, helping her team advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Naturally, everyone expected her to go out with a bang her senior year and then split for Germany, where she’d play for a competitive team. Herself included. But those plans were put on hold last August when she tore her ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) 15 minutes into the second game of the season against the Oregon Ducks in Eugene, Ore. “It wasn’t due to contact or anything,” says Niemeier, interviewed as her teammates practiced on Cowgirl Field nearby. “I just turned and had the weight on my left knee, and it just buckled to the side. It was just a weird movement I guess.” An MRI back in Stillwater revealed the damage. No worries. She had the same injury in her other knee her freshman year and came back stronger than ever. “I wasn’t mad at all at the beginning, but I was like, ‘Oh, dang,’” Niemeier says. “I didn’t know I could come back another year. I didn’t realize I could apply for a medical hardship waiver from the NCAA and get a year added to my eligibility. I was like, well, this is it for me at OSU.” Without her, the Cowgirls won their third consecutive Big 12 Conference championship last November. They advanced to the Elite Eight of NCAA postseason play. Their strong performance made sitting out easier on her.

“Of course, it’s hard to watch every practice and every game,” she says. “But my teammates are making it easy on me, winning all those games. If they were losing, I’d want to be out there even more helping them.” Carmichael says his star player’s mature attitude is pretty much what he expects from her. After her injury, Carmichael says she decided to stay, rehab and enroll in graduate school for a master’s degree. photo / GAry LAwson

recur later. Miller worked out Penn’s hips, core and hamstrings — the parts of his body that weren’t injured — to maintain his strength. “That also helps the leg heal,” Miller says. Once the cast came off, Miller had to ease Penn’s leg back into its normal weight-bearing mode by strengthening his calf and lower leg. “Then we had to retrain him to use that leg properly — walking, running and jumping. It was a slow process, but if you go too fast, you can cause the bone to get irritated again.” Penn watched from the bench as his team advanced to the first round of the NCAA tournament, where they lost to Georgia Tech. During that run, he studied how teams played and refined his knowledge of Ford’s system so he could hit the ground running this season. Penn says he’s actually glad the injury occurred. “You learn the game a little bit better,” Penn says. “You learn different schemes. I think I got smarter as well as stronger.” Now he’s back to normal, and competing for minutes as the team’s starting point guard. “That is the other thing that can sometimes help athletes buy into the treatment plan,” Miller says. “To get them to focus on how they can be better when they return after an injury.”

Carmichael believes she’s eligible for a waiver, which grants more eligibility time to athletes who suffer significant injury. That’s because she missed her freshman year with the same injury in her other knee. “She played three years, missed this past year because of the injury — obviously she’s missed two of her possible five years due to injury,” Carmichael says. So, she spent her senior year cheering the Cowgirls from the sidelines as they made another postseason run, went to class, and rehabbed her story continues

37


38

December 2010

me through my knee injury. In a few months I’ll be good as new.”

A hAppy ending

S

ometimes recovery means just getting a studentathlete back to living a normal life. That’s what OSU did for Kye Staley. photo / gAry LAwson

knee with the team’s athletic trainer, Todd Gerlt. She also has been lifting weights with Heather Boyes, the team’s strength and conditioning coach. “I’ve been under their care pretty much every day,” Niemeier says. “At the beginning, they focused a lot on my walking so that I wouldn’t end up with a limp.” Gerlt says he spends much of his time holding her back from trying to do too much. He credits Boyes as well as other strength staff at OSU for making his job easier. He says they “pre-hab” players to prevent injuries and keep them in tip-top shape so that any recovery from an injury is more certain. Gerlt also credits Annika for her determination. “She is a great example of how most soccer players are — she’s really motivated to return to play soccer,” he says. “I’m lucky in that most of what I do with her rehab involves holding her back so she doesn’t hurt herself by overusing atrophied muscles. Rather than motivating her to do basic exercises, she’s really chomping at the bit to be able to run and build muscle tone.” She started running for the first time in November, and says she feels no pain in it. After one more year at OSU, she should have a great chance to play for a team back home. Regardless, she’ll have her master’s degree finished up, she says, so she can start her engineering career in Germany if soccer doesn’t pan out. “I really feel like OSU’s athletic trainers went the extra mile with me,” Niemeier says. “They walked me through the medical hardship waiver with the NCAA and literally walked

Staley had it all going for him. A native of Guthrie, he was considered the top Oklahoma player his senior year of high school, when he ran for 1,380 yards and 28 touchdowns, passed for 625 and caught 10 passes for 320 yards. He made the Under Armour All-American game his senior year. Various recruiting websites raved about his rare versatility. He had dreams of playing in the NFL. Recruited by OSU special teams coach Joe DeForest, he passed up an attractive opportunity at Arkansas where he would’ve seen playing time early because superstars Darren McFadden and Felix Jones had left for the NFL. He chose OSU, but arrived 30 pounds overweight. So he redshirted in 2008, and spent the next year watching his diet, working hard

in the weight room and improving his conditioning. Coaches saw the results once two-a-days began in August 2009. He could cut on a dime. He was fast. He had quickness that let him explode through the line. He also had a bright smile and a tough attitude that endeared him to fans, media and coaches alike. Chances were good he’d finally get some game time after redshirting his freshman year. All that ended on a simple run to the right. Staley was gassed after running drills with the special teams unit. He refused an offer from the running backs coach, Rob Gillespie, to sit out the play. They called his number for a goal line run, something he’d done hundreds of times before. He took the handoff and bounded forward. A linebacker rushed up to stop him. Kye made a cut to lose him, but the defender got him anyway and made a routine tackle. “If you watched it on film, you’d be like, ‘What happened? What’d he do,’” Staley says. “He had grabbed me, but my right foot was stuck in the ground. He twisted me around, and someone on the inside hit me. That’s when everything just tore.” Gillespie remembers watching the play from the sidelines. He couldn’t tell anything out of the ordinary had happened. “Initially, it didn’t look like it was as serious as it ended up being,” Gillespie says. “It ended up being an awful, severe injury, and you just hate it when that happens to a kid.” Lying on the Boone Pickens Stadium turf, Staley tried to get up, but his knee buckled. His teammates story continues


Behind the Teams

OSU’S dedicated Staff Of phySicianS and trainerS wOrkS tireleSSly tO keep OSU StUdent athleteS healthy It’s only the afternoon, and dr. Val Gene IVen, osU’s head team physIcIan In charGe of Its traInInG and sports medIcIne department, has already treated athletes for IssUes wIth nearly eVery part of the body. “Concussion. Sore throat. A knee injury. Foot sprain. Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Cyst removal. Ear drain (for

His office wall is hung with autographed photos of famous Volunteers, such as Peyton Manning and Jason Witten, with signatures scrawled next to notes of appreciation. His only regret, he says, is he has so many patients under his care, he can’t always keep up with them after they leave OSU. His department opens each day at 6 a.m. That’s when athletic trainers immediately start seeing athletes before morning workouts. Each is assigned to an OSU sport, so they often work nights and weekends, too, depending on which sport is in season. His staff keeps coaches informed on their injured players’ statuses, such as whether or not they should practice, and what exercises or drills they should be limited to, if any. They work with Strength and Conditioning Coach Rob Glass’s staff so their patients stay in shape without risking reinjury. Iven’s department also connects student athletes with dentists, optometrists, or experts in mental illness

wrestlers’ cauliflower ear) …” says Iven, reading through

if necessary, such as psychologists from OSU’s Student

his appointment list for the day.

Counseling Center. Meanwhile, OSU’s orthopedic surgeon,

Iven and his seven athletic trainers are the team behind the teams, providing free comprehensive health care for OSU’s 420 student athletes. Their days are long. Their

Mark Pascale, visits from his practice in Oklahoma City once a week. Their responsibilities don’t end there. During recruiting

charges don’t always listen to them, and when they’re

visits, Iven and athletic trainers meet with prospective

successful, their work doesn’t get much publicity. But Iven

student athletes’ parents. He’s also in charge of recruits’

says he wouldn’t do anything else than look after a bunch

physical examinations, during which he learns their

of ultra-determined 18-22 year-olds. It’s a great job for an OSU fan, he says. “I’m blessed in that I enjoy what I do. This allows me to

medical histories and rates how their bodies will handle Division I athletics. Unfortunately, almost all of them will suffer some

enjoy OSU sports and take care of student athletes. That’s

sports-related injury, Iven says. In the odd case in which

what I love to do.”

a player suffers a major injury, his staff kicks into an even

A native of Pond Creek, Okla., he graduated from OSU in 1985 and attended medical school at the University of

higher gear, and they don’t just focus on healing the student athlete physically.

Oklahoma. Later, he made his way to the University of

“When a player is hurt, it’s a tough time for them,” Iven

Tennessee, where he spent 13 years as the Volunteers’

says. “Performing is why they came to Oklahoma State —

team physician.

to wear the orange. Depending on all the factors involved

When he joined OSU in 2006, a small training room in

and postseason play, it can be a very emotional time

a corner of Gallagher-Iba Arena served all OSU sports. In

when they’re injured. It’s important that we’re supportive in

2009, OSU opened a new sports medicine center devoted

tough times as well as good.”

to football with the completion of the $180 million West End Zone of Boone Pickens Stadium. Now he has a new digital X-ray machine, an on-site pharmacy and four hydrotherapy pools, in addition to

Much of that work goes on behind the scenes. Most people wouldn’t recognize Rob Hunt, OSU’s head athletic trainer, if they ran into him at a grocery store. Hunt jokes they might remember him if he turned

several times more space than he had for football. The

around and bent over in a pair of khakis and white

other sports are relegated to the old training room in

sneakers. That’s because most people are probably

Gallagher-Iba Arena.

story continues

39


more familiar with his back side, usually seen on national

“The more they understand what’s going on, the

TV when a player is down and Hunt is bent over them on

better they are at doing what they are supposed to do,”

the field.

Miller says.

Behind the scenes, “It takes a lot to get a kid from an injury on Saturday to be able to practice at some point mid-week and hopefully back to full-participation by the

Todd Gerlt, soccer’s athletic trainer, lauds his co-workers for building relationships with their student athletes. “Getting the athletes to follow instructions relates

following week,” Hunt says. “It starts early, and we work

directly to the relationship you develop with each kid and

very hard … but it’s something that we are passionate

the team,” Gerlt says. “If they see other injured athletes

about. We enjoy what we do.” Take a simple ankle sprain. “It’s a minor deal, but it takes a lot of work to get that skilled athlete back to the level that they’re used to,” he says. “Some people might be out two to three weeks with that … You’ve got to prepare and you’ve got to modify their

getting back to play quickly and safely, then they start thinking you know what you’re talking about. Trust is key as well as aggressively, but safely, returning them to the game.” Iven’s staff often must make tough decisions on whether or not players should return to a game after

activity as much as you can and still allow them to get work

suffering an injury. That’s tough for them because they’re

and reps in preparation for the next game.”

as aware of the team’s need to win as anybody else.

He has four kids of his own back home. Often, dealing with athletes is similar to dealing with his children. Just like kids, sometimes they don’t know what’s good

And those decisions can be more difficult when they involve injuries that don’t have obvious

for them. They can be stubborn. Hunt and his staff have

symptoms, such

to be patient and explain things, while at the same time

as concussions, or

empathizing with them.

when the players

“I care about my athletes very much,” Hunt says. “I look

are determined to

at it like I owe it to their parents. I owe it to this individual to

get back on the

treat them as if it was my kid who was hurt. There’s a lot

court. But their

of parenting that goes along with it. It’s something I think

chief concern

anyone that gets in this profession understands. You have

is their student

to have a lot of compassion, understanding and patience,

athletes’ wellbeing.

and all that parallels being a parent.” John Stemm, a physical therapist and athletic trainer,

Performing is why they came

to OSU. It’s important that

we’re supportive in tough times as well as good.”

“We can’t put a student back out there if there’s a significant chance of

recalls one injured athlete with whom he and Hunt

re-injury,” Iven says. “That decision is not easy. Sometimes,

expected to have trouble motivating. Instead of browbeat-

they’re convinced they’re fine. And they’ll make an effort to

ing the kid, Stemm says he reached him through humor.

convince the coaches they’re fine. It doesn’t make us the

The player ended up making a full recovery.

most popular guys on the sidelines.”

“After he’d recovered, he was in the training room joking around,” Stemm says. “I told him how worried we were

Despite long hours, lack of credit and glory, OSU’s training staff wouldn’t rather be anywhere else. Stemm

about getting him in the training room initially. He said he

says he enjoys the family atmosphere that surrounds OSU

always looked forward to his rehab because he knew we

athletics. He gets to travel with football team and spend

were going to make him laugh. That laughter broke down

time with players and coaches, many of whom he admires

barriers, and that humor created trust. He’d come in in a

as a fan.

40

salty mood, and we’d tell him, ‘you’re in a salty mood —

snap out of it,’ and he respected that.” Others use education to reach their charges. Jason

Miller, the athletic trainer assigned to men’s basketball,

“Knowing the team you’re covering, knowing the coaches, being a part of their lives, being a part of the players’ lives — that’s the fun part of the job,” Stemm says. With OSU sports now stronger than ever, its future

says sometimes it’s simplest to explain the problem and

success requires healthy athletes and a lot of hard work

how what they’re doing will fix it.

from this small number of professionals. That future is in

December 2010

good hands.


also damaged a major nerve that connected his foot to his brain. “The nerve complicated everything. Like, my foot, when it happened, instantly just fell. I couldn’t move my toes. I couldn’t feel it — nothing.” After they finished at the hospital, his mother says they took her son to get his medications and took him back to his room on campus. Three days later, Dr. Pascale operated on his leg. Pascale, whom OSU staff call one of the best orthopedic surgeons in the nation, rebuilt Staley’s ligaments and cleaned up the damage

assistant athletic trainers, called Kye’s mother, Patrice Staley. Another trainer went with him to Stillwater Regional Medical Center. Training staff stayed with him after his mother arrived and were there to answer questions when an MRI brought bad news. He had nearly dislocated his knee. He had torn his ACL. And his medial-collateral ligament — another major part of the knee. And his hamstring. And a cartilage pad inside his knee. And his calf muscle. He

inside. Afterward, Patrice says an OSU athletic trainer stayed with him at the hospital. The nerve was left to heal on its own. “I had to have forty-four staples running straight down my leg,” Staley says. “I had a hard cast from my knee down to my ankle — just to force my ankle to the right position because my nerve wasn’t there.” Then came the hard part. Players usually don’t come back from nerve injuries because often the nerve never recovers.

Photo / Phil shockley

made him stay down as the athletic trainers rushed to his side. “I knew it was my ACL,” he says. “That just made me mad,” he says. “That’s when I started crying. I got upset at myself even though it wasn’t my fault.” The ACL is one of several major ligaments that hold the knee joint together. For a student athlete, an ACL tear usually means “season over,” but they often are able to return at full strength the next year — largely thanks to advances in sports medicine. Erin Ambrose, one of the team’s

“They told me straight up, ‘We don’t think you’re going to come back,’” Staley says. “They told me, ‘We don’t know if you’ll ever be able to walk right. We don’t know because we don’t know if that nerve will ever come back.’” John Stemm, who’s also a physical therapist in addition to an athletic trainer, was assigned Staley’s case. Stemm is a matter-of-fact guy with an accent bred on the Minnesota prairie. He specializes in helping athletes bounce back from major surgery. He jumped at the challenge Kye’s case presented. “I don’t think a lot of people understand the rigors these kids endure,” Stemm says. “I don’t think anyone understands the punishment and pounding they absorb just to be able to play. Sometimes, your body just can’t take it.” Stemm had daily sessions with Staley, from his surgery in August through the following spring. Some days he had to force Kye’s leg to straighten out — which was agonizing. Otherwise, his leg wouldn’t heal straight, and Kye wouldn’t have full extension of his knee. He drove him to his nerve conduction appointments in Oklahoma City. He spent hours on the road with Staley, talking about life, school and recovery. Kye’s mother says, “The training staff were right on with the injury, making sure everything was done correctly, explaining what was going to happen, don’t do this, do that. They were really there in his face, letting him know what he had to do and what they were going to do. They were just there.” story continues

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42 December 2010


Stemm knew he was struggling, and Staley admits he was down in the dumps. “From my surgery in August until December when I got off my crutches, every day was the worst day of my life,” he says. “I just wanted to go home and lay in bed.” Stemm and Coach DeForest worked with Kye’s family and friends to keep tabs on him. The university switched him to online classes that fall so he could stay in school while staying off his leg. They moved him from the third-floor of his residence hall to the first. “I basically failed everything because I wasn’t focused. I didn’t care. Even people that tried to help me, I’d just go off on them. And that’s not the person I am. I’m not the person that comes in angry and takes it out on everybody. I was just mad at the world.” Nobody blamed him. Gillespie says he tried to help by being straight with him. Kye was still working to come back, but Gillespie knew he needed to hang it up for good and find other ways to contribute. “He’s one of our kids,” Gillespie says. “It ain’t just about football. The kid’s wellbeing always comes before anything else.” A ray of hope appeared a couple months into his recovery. Kye started noticing a tingling feeling in his right foot — a sign that his nerve was growing back. Pascale, the training staff and coaches were astounded. “That just typically doesn’t happen,” Stemm says. “It could’ve been several things that did it. Kye’s ability to heal. Luck. And I think probably somebody upstairs is looking out for him.”

Kye took it as a sign that perhaps he still had a chance to play again. He was back on his feet. They cut his cast off in December, ditched his crutches and fitted him with a plastic brace so he could walk. He had to wear a size15 shoe on his right foot to fit over the brace. By February he was running again — nothing fancy, just regular running to get his strength back up. Kye was rejuvenated. His grades recovered. When spring football came, he was back working out with other players as a walking, talking testament to OSU sports medicine. By summer, his knee and foot were strong enough for him to make the sudden changes of direction so crucial for his position in football. Before he knew it, two-a-days arrived in August. He felt confident. His coaches and teammates were excited for him. But he suffered a scare that rattled him. He made a move during practice one day that “tweaked” his knee. He was out for several days afterward. That’s when he quit the team the first time, fearing he’d reinjure his knee. He came back for a brief while and tried the defensive side. But he still wasn’t comfortable. DeForest called his mom one day after noticing Kye wasn’t himself, and the three talked it out over the phone. That’s when he left the team for good as a player. Head coach Mike Gundy called Patrice to tell her that, no matter what had happened, her son wouldn’t lose his scholarship. “That meant a lot to me because that meant Kye wasn’t going to lose his chance at what was most important: getting an education,” she says. Kye still feels he left prematurely. He kicks himself that he isn’t out there playing and wonders if he may have

tried to come back too soon from his injury. “I’m not a quitter,” he says. “The doctors were like, ‘If you decide to give it up, nobody’s calling you a quitter.’ But I’m not satisfied.” Ever the realist, Gillespie applauds him for having the guts to walk away, and for toughing it out through his recovery. “One thing you’ve got to remember is he’s a kid,” Gillespie says. “He doesn’t always understand what’s the best thing for him. I had to make that decision to leave the game myself, although mine came much later than his … I can’t

He’s one of our kids. The kid’s

wellbeing always comes before anything else.” imagine making a decision like that at eighteen, nineteen years old.” These days, Kye, a third-year education major, works as a student coach on the team, attends class and takes out his frustrations during kickboxing courses at the Colvin Center. He hopes to have a career in coaching and use his experience to counsel others dealing with the same situation he faced. “Ever since I was a kid, people said I was going to be a coach one day. Coaches always told me that. I’d tell them the plays to do. I want to be the coach with all the rings, help kids play, get their mind right, get their head right, and help them get into good colleges.”

43


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46 December 2010


story by

Karen Hancock Phil Shockley & Gary Lawson

photography by

Cowgirl AssistAnt CoACh reCounts the Best seAson (so fAr) in osu soCCer history Fourth.

It’s early August, and that’s the position our OSU soccer team has been picked to finish in the Big 12 Conference this year by the league coaches. Oh, and by the way, that’s also the spot that the Big 12 coaches picked us to finish last year when we won the Big 12 tournament and were one of only two teams from the Big 12 to make the NCAA tournament. It’s also the spot that we were picked in the preseason of 2008 when we went on to win the regular season conference title. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. We are the rodney dangerfield of Big 12 soccer. no respect. Maybe this year they are right. After all, we did graduate two of the most prolific scorers in our program’s history in Kasey Langdon and Siera Strawser. We also graduated a twotime captain who played in more games than any other Cowgirl in history in Bridget Miller.

With those kinds of personnel losses, maybe our fellow Big 12 coaches know what they are talking about. We know that we return some very good players to our squad. Our starting goalkeeper, AD Franch, broke OSU records for shutouts last year and was named to the All-Big 12 First Team. As a result of her success her success as a freshman, she turned heads in the U.S. National Team staff and was invited to train with the Women’s Under-20 Team. She made the U.S. roster and was one of two goalkeepers who traveled to Germany to play in the U-20 Women’s World Cup. Due to an injury she didn’t get to compete in the games, but we think surely the training experience has made her even better. We also return junior Melinda Mercado, “Minnie,” who plays as a center back. Our coaching staff thinks she’s the best in the country. We may be biased, but the U.S. story continues

47


National Team invited her to training camp twice in the spring. You don’t get invited unless you are good. Really good. Also returning is fifth-year senior Annika Niemeier who led our team in scoring with 11 goals in 2009 and is a returning All-Big 12 First Teamer along with Minnie and AD. We expect that our defensive backline, which returns four starters — Colleen Dougherty, Carson Michalowksi, Allyson Leggett and Minnie — will be tough to break down. Our feeling as a coaching staff is that we will win our share of games this year, it just may not always be pretty.

Bedlam, Round 1 And as the season begins, we are correct. Oklahoma comes to town on August 20, and we open the season with our rival on a night where the soccer is not very pretty but just gritty. We shut out OU, and junior Kyndall Treadwell comes through with the lone goal: 1–0, Cowgirls. It’s a good start. As the old saying goes, “You can’t win ’em all unless You win the first one.” But we usually win against OU. We seem to have their number. With that win we move to 13–2–1 against them all-time in the series. The next weekend we play the University of Oregon and the University of Portland. And while Oregon is a solid Pac-10 team, Portland will be the true test. Portland has won two national championships in the last decade and been in contention for others. They are ranked 3rd in the country the week we will play them. so we head west.

oRegon

48 December 2010

The Oregon game in Eugene does not go swimmingly. We play poorly at the outset, and our players don’t seem to be doing anything they have been asked to do for the last three weeks of practice. At halftime they get their butts chewed a little bit. They don’t fold and have internal pity-parties. They respond and the play gets better. However, Kyndall gets in a tussle and gets a red-card ejection for the game along with a Duck player. To make matters worse, Annika goes down with a knee injury. I’m not a doctor but the way she goes down makes me think she has just torn her ACL. I’ve seen too many girls crumple down in a heap in my time to not have it come to the forefront of my mind.

So we are plodding along in this game without two of our more dangerous scorers. The score is 0–0 and Oregon does not look formidable enough to score. The game goes into overtime. we are half-expecting to finish the night with a nil-nil draw. We don’t look any more dangerous than Oregon. Colin (Carmichael, our head coach) makes a tactical adjustment and moves one of our backs — Dougherty — up front as a forward. She has the athleticism to cause many opponents problems. She gets the ball in the 2nd overtime period with about five minutes remaining and gets fouled by a Duck just outside the penalty box — free kick awarded to us from 20 yards away from their goal. The ball sits dead center. Annika would normally take this free kick, but she is sitting next to us with ice on her knee. We really aren’t sure who will take it. A senior, Whitney Wernimont, steps up to the ball. By my recollection, Whitney has never taken a free kick within direct scoring distance in her four years at OSU. But without missing a beat, she buries the ball into the back of the net. In soccer, the overtimes are sudden-death, or sudden-victory as we like to look at our glass half full. game over. girls scream and dog pile each other. holY cow! We found a way to score again. Whitney scores her first collegiate goal. She couldn’t have picked a better time.

PoRtland We knew Portland would be tougher. It would have been hard enough without Kyndall sitting out for her red card suspension and Annika out with her bum knee. It will be a serious test.


The game is played in maybe the liveliest environment in women’s college soccer. More than 3,000 come out to watch the game. PortlanD fans are great: Drums are PounDeD, songs are sung, chants are chanteD. Portland misses a chance to score that beats AD but grazes the outside of the goalpost. Chants of “You got Luck-y! You got Luck-y!” come from the stands. The speed of play is a bit more than our group is ready for. The team battles, but Portland is getting a lot of looks at our goal. AD is up the challenge. Some games she doesn’t see the ball much. Today she sees it plenty. She dives to her right. Dives to her left. She smothers balls, handles screaming crosses, and parries point-blank shots over the crossbar. She keeps us in the game making circus-like acrobatic plays that remind me of watching Desmond Mason at OSU when he showed he was athletically capable of things that no one else on the court was. The score is 0–0 with about a minute remaining. One of our defenders commits a foul about 35 yards away from our goal. They send the free kick into the box at the far post. A Portland player darts past one of our players unmarked and heads the ball into our goal with 42 seconds remaining. total heartbreak. We won’t win them all this year. They never quit from the mental side of things. We hoPe We can learn from the loss.

MeMphiS and Murray State The next weekend, we host Memphis and Murray State. Memphis is the big one here, ranked No. 13 in the country. We are ranked No. 20.

Maybe more importantly, Memphis is ranked 2nd in our region while we are ranked 3rd. A win over Memphis will help us climb, and the game could be crucial come NCAA at-large selection in November. We learn this week that Annika has indeed torn her ACL, and she will be out for the remainder of the season. We wonder who will step up and fill her shoes. Friday night comes, and we take the field. Again, we have a great home crowd, including many of our soccer alumnae. The game starts, and we quickly see Memphis has come to make a statement. They are playing quicker than we are. They are keeping more possession of the ball, creating more scoring opportunities, and in general are in our end of the field more than we are in theirs. It’s tense. Late in the half, we get a pleasant surprise when senior forward Katie Richardson sprints down the right flank past a Memphis defender and whips in a right-footed service that finds our left back, Catherine Parish, at the back of the box to put in the goal. All of a sudden we are up 1–0 after getting mostly outplayed in the first 45 minutes. The team is commended on the goal at half, but Colin makes a point to call out Krista Lopez. Krista, a junior, has scored four goals in the previous two years, two as a freshman and two as a sophomore. Now that we’re missing Kasey Langdon and Siera Strawser, it’s emphasized that she has to take on more of a scoring role. The talent and ability seem to be there, but the results haven’t shown yet. The challenge has been laid down: Do something. Do more.

And does she ever. In the second half Memphis scores within the first three minutes to knot up the score at ones. We are back in a battle. But this is a night we get to see the first of what is to come with Lopez this season. She scores the game-winning goal (narrowly missing another), and we move on with a 2–1 win. We take care of murray state, 4–2, to close out the WeekenD anD are noW 4–1.

Stretch run The next four games are the last before conference begins, three of them on the road. We beat SMU on the road 2–1. We beat TCU 4–0 on the road after only having about 40 hours rest compared to eight days of rest for TCU. The following weekend we manhandle a previously undefeated Mississippi State team 6–0 at home. Lopez gets a hat trick — three goals! She now has seven goals in the last five games. Krista has taken the challenge issued to her at halftime of the Memphis game to heart, and we are seeing results. Our last game before conference takes us to Colorado Springs to play Colorado College. Whitney hits the crossbar off of a volley in the second overtime in an effort so close that I was already jumping off the bench celebrating. Unfortunately the bounce of the ball was down and away from the goal, and we had to take the 0–0 tie. As a coaching staff we again realize what a bunch of tough kids we have in this group. They just don’t care about adversity and refuse to use it as an excuse. For a team no one really expected much of outside of our locker room, we are heading into conference play ranked No. 2 in our region and 13th nationally. story continues

49


ConferenCe Play Begins Our record is 0–0. Actually it’s 7–1–1, but when you begin conference play it is like a brand new season. That’s how the coaching staff now looks at it. Baylor comes to town this Friday night with a 7–1 non-conference record, ranked in our region and looking to kick us off our field. Literally. Physically, they are kicking our butts, and at halftime our team gets a “do better” talk. In the second half our players rise to the occasion. Kristen Kelley, a freshman, notches her first goal of her OSU career for us. With about twoand-a-half minutes left in the game

50 December 2010

Kyndall breaks free from her defender just long enough to get a clean look at goal from about 18 yards away. She smacks a low driven shot at the near post that squeaks under the outstretched arms of the BU goalie. 2–1. Game over. The Cowgirls show Their hearT and efforT onCe again. We are 1–0 in the conference with Texas Tech up next. Against Tech we play very well. We make a good Tech team look very average on that day. Krista Lopez scores twice off of superb assists from Kyndall and freshman Taylor Mathews. Krista now has nine goals on the year and she leads

the Big 12 in game-winning goals and is in the top 10 of NCAA statistics for goals scored. We head to Missouri. We traditionally have struggled there, winning just once in eight tries, and that win was a double overtime victory in 2007. This year is different. Krista scores again, and should’ve scored more. Carson Michalowski gets her first goal of the year. Megan Marchesano scores on a brave play in which her reward beyond the goal scored was a black eye courtesy of a Missouri defender. We leave with a 3–1 road win.


We have the second game of the weekend against Iowa State back home in Stillwater. ISU comes out and plays hard. We don’t look very good. We look tired. Perhaps the energy was all used up in the Friday night game against Mizzou in Columbia? In the first half we witness about 15 seconds of brilliance; Kyndall finds Whitney, who finds Colleen, who serves a perfect ball up to Krista, who puts it in the net. It was maybe the prettiest play we saw all year. The rest of the

game was not so pretty, but the one goal is all we need. We are 4–0 in conference. The next weekend, we head to Kansas. They are struggling this season. We haven’t won in Lawrence since 1997. KU puts up a fight, but we slip two past them in the second half. Kristen and Megan notch the goals. We win 2–0. Colin and I get to leave that field happy for the first time in 13 years.

We return home with a 5–0 record in the Big 12 and a 12–1–1 overall record. The rankings come out three days later. We have achieved our highest national ranking in program history — No. 5 in the country. We return home to play our last two home games. The Big 12 Conference has done us no favors; our last three conference games are on the road against Texas, Texas A&M and OU. But first, we host Colorado and Nebraska. story continues

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52 December 2010


Colorado and nebraska A dangerous Colorado team is up first. They have beaten UCLA and Texas A&M this year and were ranked at the time No. 10 and No. 6 in the nation, respectively. We know it will be tough. The game is also being Televised naTionally on Fox soccer channel. In our sport, we are not on TV very often. This is a great chance to show the nation what the Cowgirls in Stillwater are all about. The game kicks off and we have another strong crowd. Krista Lopez puts an unbelievable move on a CU defender that nearly causes that defender to “break her own ankles” trying to keep up. Krista shoots a screamer past the CU keeper into the far post — her 12th goal on the year. But the real hero of the night would be senior Katie Richardson. We give up two goals to CU in uncharacteristic mistakes by our defense and by AD. Katie scores two goals in close succession in the second half. The game-winner scored on a play by Katie that was nothing but sheer will and effort when she ran past the entire CU backline, dribbled around a charging CU keeper, and finished the goal from an impossible angle. It’s in the running for goal of the year. We Win again by a one-goal margin, 3–2. Nebraska is our final home game of the year according to our schedule. We will give out flowers and recognize our four seniors (Allyson Leggett, Katie Richardson, Ellen Thompson and Whitney Wernimont) after the game. Nebraska is good. They have the Big 12 Conference’s leading goal scorer, Morgan Marlborough. We game plan for her and try to shut her down. She still gets a goal and an assist on another. But our team turns

out to be better than their one star. 4–2, Cowgirls over the Cornhuskers. We never trailed in the game but had to fight back each time they equalized to show them we were not going anywhere. Four different players scored with two of our seniors, Katie and Whitney, getting goals. It’s a feel-good, happy moment at the conclusion of the game as we give flowers and hugs to the seniors, realizing we are 7–0 in the conference and have a chance to win the regular season title. you can’T Win all The conFerence games iF you don’T Win The FirsT seven. The conference championship is so close we can smell it. It’s not close enough yet to taste. We know if we can just go on the road and split this weekend we will most likely earn at least a share of the conference title with A&M. We have To Worry abouT Texas FirsT.

Texas We have beaten UT and tied them in the last two trips to Austin. We feel we can get a result there. We kick off that Friday night against the Longhorns, and for the first 45 minutes of play we dictate just about everything. We have scoring chances, while they don’t muster much against us. Krista smacks a low shot at goal that’s past the UT keeper. We nearly celebrate the goal before realizing that somehow the ball must not have gone in as a UT defender clears the ball off of the Texas goal line. We can’t believe it didn’t go in. At half there really aren’t many adjustments to make. We’ve outshot them 9–1 in the half. The team is told to keep playing hard, and we might get the onion to go in the onion

bag. However, in the second half UT manages to score a header off of a cross. exTreme disappoinTmenT is FelT on our end as we can’t seem to score. Game ends, 1–0. We haven’t been shutout since the Portland game. Our girls have a look of disbelief on their faces. Our media relations coordinator, Wade McWhorter, shows us some footage from the first half on his laptop. Turns out Krista did score that goal. It was over the UT goal line, but the play happened so fast that the officials didn’t catch what the video replay caught. unForTunaTely, There is no video replay in soccer … aT any level. We won’t win all of the conference games. We just know that if that goal had been allowed the outcome is most likely different. At worst, we get a draw as opposed to a loss. In our standings a draw is worth a point. A win is worth three points. A loss is worth nothing. That night we leave the field having not earned a point for the first time all season. We now know that the game against A&M is most likely for the conference regular-season title. Winner gets the trophy. The loser will be hopeful the winner slips up the last week of the conference games in order to maybe share a co-championship.

Texas a&M As we play against Texas A&M, the game is tight. Not many risks being taken by either side. In the 20th minute, a close play in the box results in a penalty kick opportunity for the Aggies. They convert. Our players fight valiantly for the remaining 70 minutes. We just can’t break them down enough. We lose 1–0. We hurry off the field to avoid the Big 12 trophy presentation that story continues

53


that will commence soon in front of their fans. In the locker room, some tears are shed. They are quiet tears. They knew how close we were with what felt like our destiny in our own hands. The coaching staff remains positive. Proud. What many of these young players do not know is, despite this loss, it is the best performance ever displayed by an OSU team in College Station in 15 seasons. The overall play was good. Inspiring at times. We have nothIng to cry about.

Bedlam II We enter the last game of the season knowing that we will be the number two seed in the Big 12 Tournament no matter what the outcome of our game against OU in Norman. However, we still have the motivation of beating OU — simply because it’s Bedlam. At 13–2–1 all-time against the Sooners, all we want to do is move that 13 to a 14. In Norman a third of the crowd is in orange. It’s beautiful. Our defense is incredibly good. AD is solid as a rock. Megan and Katie score goals for us that night. We win 2–0. We have a bedlam trophy WaItIng for us. I see an OU official on the sideline waving me over. She won’t give us the Bedlam trophy unless we go into the locker room. So we go into the locker room and receive the prize. We march right back outside onto OU’s field with the trophy in-hand and begin an “orange poWer!” chant with our fans.

54

BIg 12 TournamenT

We head to San Antonio for the Big 12 Tournament. We ended up one point behind Texas A&M in the regular season standings. We Want

December 2010

the tournament tItle noW. We feel if we play well enough, it will be ours. It’s just a feeling, however. We have to play teams twice, and it’s always hard to beat a team twice in a season. We match up with the No. 7 seed, Texas Tech. We get on the board in the first 15 minutes when one of our defensive midfielders, Elizabeth DeLozier, who is better known on our team as “Flash,” hits a wonder goal with her left foot from about 30 yards out. The early goal allows us to sit back a little and cruise to a 3–1 win.

nexT up, neBraska the nebraska game Is Intense, maybe the most intense game of the year. It’s being played under the lights, and the feeling out there is electric. Nebraska gets on the board first when AD comes out flying like superman and takes out the legs of their leading scorer on a poorly-timed challenge, giving up a penalty kick that Nebraska converts. We fight back. Krista scores in the second half and knots the score at one each. Nebraska scores again. The clock is winding down, and it looks like our luck may run out. But with minutes left on the clock Kyndall takes a shot that hits the hand of a Nebraska player in the penalty box. We are awarded a penalty kick. Our cool-as-ice senior midfielder, Wernimont, steps up to take the penalty kick. It’s the equivalent of having to make a free throw for the game to continue. She strikes the ball with such confidence and force I think it’s going to rip through the back of the net. We are tIed 2–2. The game goes into overtime, and we come out firing from the start of the period. In the first two minutes we have two shots and a corner at their

goal. Justin Elkington, our assistant coach, yells for Kyndall to stand in front of a certain Nebraska player for the corner kick as it comes in. Kyndall obliges. Megan sends the ball to Kyndall, and she deftly taps it at Nebraska’s goal, catching their entire defense off guard. The ball goes in. sudden vIctory! We are going on to the championship game. OU has upset Texas A&M in the other semifinal, so we get to have Bedlam for a third time this year. As mentioned, it’s tough to beat a team twice in the same year. We did that to three teams this season — Texas Tech, Nebraska and OU. Seeing OU for the third time does not bode well for us on paper. Beating a rival three times in soccer in any league in the world is a tall order. We know OU will come out playing hard and we have to be ready for them. In the first two minutes we go down a goal to the Sooners simply because they outworked and outhustled us. But the wake-up call is received, and we begin to play. The game is a grind, though. This is our third game in five days. It’s no surprise that the play is a bit sloppy by both sides. By the second half, we are battling hard. But OU is as well. We need to find a way to score. Krista is a machine. I can’t imagine how she continually can take on the OU defense the way she does. She is wearing them down. The other players are holding their own. Our backline has tightened things down a bunch. We just need a spark. Something. hold on … Oklahoma’s goalkeeper and center back suddenly have a miscue between them at the top of the penalty box, and Kyndall swoops in to steal the ball and score! We


are tied. We now have life and hope and belief again. The game goes into overtime, where AD makes two huge saves. The clock runs out, and we go to a penalty kick shootout to declare the victor. We have a group of 10 players who have practiced penalty kicks all season long for just such an occasion. But practicing them and converting them under pressure with a championship on the line are two different things. Wernimont, Michalowski, DeLozier, Leggett and Lopez will be our first five shooters. If things go well, we won’t have to go past a fifth shooter. If AD can make a save, then we might just advance and win the trophy. All five of our shooters make their penalty kicks. AD makes one save. It’s enough. Cowgirls win again! It’s the third conference championship in three years for us. We are so proud of this team.

The NCAA TourNAmeNT we return to stillwater with another trophy and hope that wherever we travel to for the NCAA tournament won’t be far. In the women’s college soccer world it’s called “Selection Monday.” We know that despite our top 10 ranking and a top 10 RPI, we will most likely be shipped off to some far locale for the NCAA tournament. We’ve always traveled to either the east coast or west coast for our NCAA tournament games. Our destinations over the last four years have been Clemson, S.C., Los Angeles, Calif., Rutgers, N.J., and and Santa Clara, Calif. We figure we will have to travel nearly a thousand miles or maybe more to get to our next game. We gather our team, staff and some supporters in the west endzone

of Boone Pickens Stadium for a watch party. We tune in to ESPN to see the 2010 women’s soccer bracket unveiled live. Teams and seeds start coming up, with 64 to be named in all. We know we are in the group somewhere, but three regions have been shown and we’re still waiting. and then it happens. Our name pops up on the screen with three other teams for the first and second round games. we Can’t believe what we are seeing — we are hosting! Or at least we are pretty sure we are hosting. The TV screen lists the games in Oklahoma City, but it turns out that was a mistake made by some young production assistant who apparently didn’t know Oklahoma State University was in Stillwater. We forgive the mistake. We are just excited that we are getting to host. Colin and I always felt if we had been on our home field in 2006 and in 2008 we would have probably advanced to at least the Sweet Sixteen. But we weren’t, and we didn’t. So we feel like this is the chance of our program’s life thus far to advance past the second round. We make preparations to host our first ever NCAA women’s soccer event on the Stillwater campus when Michigan, Memphis and Oregon State come to town. We match up with the Wolverines in the first round. If we advance we will play the winner of Memphis and Oregon State. Any team that makes the NCAA tournament as an at-large team is going to be good. Michigan makes the field as probably one of the last at-large teams taken. We know that nothing can be taken for granted in the NCAA tournament. We will need to play well.

The night of the game we watch as the skies alternate between continual mist and outright rain. And the temperature is as cold as it’s been since last winter. The conditions are not good. In fact, between the cold and the moisture the conditions are miserable. We wonder if it favors a team from Ann Arbor. Six hundred hearty souls show up for the game and support our Cowgirls. It is a smaller crowd than we’d hoped, but a larger crowd than we thought would actually show in this weather. After some very sloppy play, we find ourselves down 1–0 at halftime. After an inspired “do better” talk by Colin at halftime, our girls really respond. The team we know and recognize shows up. Katie Richardson decides that she is not ready to stop playing in a Cowgirl uniform just yet and steps up her game. Her runs at Michigan’s defense turned the tide. She is fouled. and off of the free kick our freshman, Taylor Mathews, delivers a ball right in front of Michigan’s net. Minnie flies in bravely, risking a punch by the goalkeeper, and bangs in a header. It’s her first goal of the year. story continues

55


The equalizer creates momentum, and Lopez scores the go-ahead goal less than a minute later. The service comes in from Richardson, who again beats the Michigan defense on a run before serving the ball at the goal where Krista was awaiting for her 14th goal of the year. Our defense holds the rest of the way. We Win 2–1, and did it by coming from behind. We move on to the second round. We are happy, but we also know the next game is the big one. If we can get past Oregon State, it will be uncharted territory for us — the SWeet Sixteen. the girlS are fired up. The chance to play an NCAA second round game in front of our home crowd is pretty exciting. The weather is, thankfully, much better on Sunday. The rain is gone. The sun is out. Not a bad afternoon for a mid-November day in Oklahoma. A bigger crowd comes out, and we have over a thousand Cowgirl faithful in the stands. It’s OSU vs. OSU, both in orange and black. We knew that the Beavers were good after watching them completely dismantle Memphis, 5–0, in the first round game. We game plan. We hold their dangerous

56 December 2010

players in check in for the early part of the game. The coaching staff is literally walking toward our halftime tent when the P.A. announcer begins to count down the last ten seconds of the half. Ten, nine, eight, seven, six … OMG! Oregon State just scored with six seconds left on the clock. Talk about a momentum shift. We had just played a solid 44 minutes and 54 seconds, but switched off mentally just long enough that Oregon State capitalized. It was an emotional punch in the gut. The halftime talk is matter of fact. What just happened has to be acknowledged. It is. And it’s time to move on. The girls are told you have 45 minutes to fix this or the season is over. The girls don’t seem fazed. It’s unbelievable the coolness and calmness that is with this group. It is really special to be around them. They play hard in the second half. You can see that they have belief and refuse to accept that this could be the end of the season. With less than 20 minutes to play, Sarah Brown’s long throw-in finds Richardson who heads it down to Flash’s feet. Flash scores her second goal of the year. We have equalized. With less than 10 minutes

to go, Lopez hits a ball so hard at the goal it beats their keeper but hits a defender standing on the goal line and pops off her body back out to Michalowski. Carson puts the rebound away, and it’s 2–1 with just a handful of minutes to play. the team effort iS amazing. This game, more than any other, may embody what this group is about. They refuse to lose. Like Rocky Balboa, they get knocked to the canvas but you can’t keep them down. They just get back up and keep swinging. thiS iS one of the beSt momentS in oSu Soccer hiStory. finally, We have advanced to the SWeet Sixteen!

How Sweet it iS Thanks to Florida getting upset by Duke in Gainesville, we get to host again. We can’t believe our good fortune. We will play Duke in Stillwater for a chance to advance to the Elite Eight. The whole week we are so excited we can barely contain ourselves. The week drags. Friday night finally arrives, and we have a standing-roomonly crowd of nearly 2,000 fans. the girlS are ready to play.


The game begins, and our team plays like they have been in the Sweet Sixteen every year, when in reality its Duke that’s been there before. On this night it’s clear we are the better team. We will not be denied. Duke has one dangerous chance at our goal early in the game, but they don’t convert. After that it’s mostly a one-way affair. With 10 minutes to go in the first half, Megan takes a pass from Krista and jukes a Duke center back at speed and then hits a rocket of a shot into the top left corner of Duke’s goal. Their goalkeeper couldn’t even react to the shot, it was hit so well. We take that 1–0 lead into the half and our player’s facial expressions have never looked more confident. They are ready to get the next 45 minutes over with and bring on the next opponent. The second half we continued to play well and limit what Duke could do. Lopez scores her 15th goal of the season. We Win 2–0 and are moving on to the elite eight! The only question is whether we will fly to North Carolina to play UNC-Chapel Hill, or if Notre Dame upsets UNC, we will host them in the Elite Eight. Their game is played the day after ours. Notre Dame beats UNC by a 4–1 margin, handing UNC their worst defeat at home in 25 years. We wonder if the result is truly an upset. We will soon find out how good the Fighting Irish are. The week of Thanksgiving we host Notre Dame. I have a fondness for them because their coach is my former college coach when we were both at Tulsa 20 years ago. But I put that fondness aside as I want nothing more than to send the Irish home. We are so close to the Women’s college cup — the final four of NCAA women’s soccer. One more win will get us there.

I know in my head that Notre Dame is playing very well. They have gone on a tear in the NCAA tournament and look to be as hot as anyone left. But they will have to come through Stillwater, and I feel good about our chances. We have not lost a home game all year. Friday night comes, and as play begins we are exposed to a level of quickness, skills and speed of play we haven’t seen all year. They are even quicker and more efficient than Portland. We don’t look very good in the first half, but maybe it’s just that Notre Dame makes us look that way. We sell out a game for the first time in program history. We have more than 2,660 people at the field who want us to win, but we aren’t giving the crowd much to feed on. Despite being outshot in the first half, the score is still tied 0–0 at the break. We have an inspired halftime talk where it’s expressed that we are not really showing what we can do. Our players respond and come out with more confidence. However, Notre Dame continues to wear us down, and we let one slip by. They get an insurance goal with 20 seconds left in the game. We lose 2–0. game over. season over. the team serenades an appreciative croWd With one final “orange poWer!” chant. it has become a postgame tradition. As coaches we are disappointed, but not with our players; they gave everything they had. That’s all you can ever ask as a coach. If a player gives her best, you can’t ask for more. the disappointment is in being so close to a final four and falling short. One win away. We were three wins away from bringing home the

first national championship in any women’s sport at OSU. There is no shame in losing to Notre Dame. They played very well, and were better than we were that night. They went on to win the national championship. I suppose if you have to get knocked out of the NCAA tournament, why not have it be by the eventual national champs? We take pride in the accomplishments of this group. This team had great chemistry and showed tremendous heart time and again. It’s a group that I will forever remain honored to have been a part.

Uncharted territory this team Was the best ever to suit up in coWgirl soccer jerseys. The team’s record ends up 20–4–2. The 20 wins in the season set a school record. The Elite Eight appearance is the deepest run into the NCAA tournament ever by our program. AD and Minnie end up being named All-Americans, while Krista, Kyndall and Carson are recognized as All-Region performers. the team finishes ranked as the no. 5 team in ncaa division i soccer. It’s the highest final ranking we’ve ever had. There are 322 NCAA Division I schools that fielded women’s soccer programs this year. To be told by others that we are among the top five makes us feel pretty good. Not bad for a team picked 4th in their own league by their conference coaching peers. Maybe we’ll get a bit more respect next year when the preseason poll comes out. Maybe we will be picked to finish a little higher in the standings next year.

or maybe we will again be picked 4th.

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YOU knOW natiOnal Signing daY, right? Well, OSU haS SOmething like that fOr prOSpective StUdentS. if they apply to OSU before the feb. 1 scholarship deadline, they’ll be considered for all applicable scholarships and financial aid. It’s just like National Signing Day, only without the press coverage and adoring fans. for more information, go to okstate.edu and click “apply now,” or call 1-800-233-5019.




 

 

Help OSU by buying only licensed products. A portion of your purchase price goes to support scholarships and other university programs.


For those of you who don’t YouTube ... A couple months bAck, three of the OSU men’s basketball team’s freshmen — Markel Brown, Mike Cobbins and Brian Williams — took it upon themselves to put up a video tour of the new OSU locker rooms on YouTube. As of this printing, the video had more than 99,000 views. The guys are a little … enthusiastic, but understandably proud of

PhotograPhy by

60 December 2010

Phil Shockley


of their new digs. It looks from the tour to be the kind of place players would hang out together, whether practicing or not, no doubt contributing to team chemistry. Hang together, play together. Both the Cowboys and the Cowgirls locker rooms received makeovers, however, so we thought we’d give you a peek inside the girl’s new home as well. At the end of the day, facilities are vital to the recruitment of student-athletes. These new locker rooms represent OSU’s commitment to becoming the best athletic program in the nation, and reflect the level of support OSU receives from its donors and alumni.

PHOTOS cOnTinue

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MEN woMEN

62 December 2010


MEN woMEN PHOTOS cOnTinue

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MEN woMEN

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CoaCh Works to Cre ate Char aCter, Champions

John Smith sits in his spacious fourth floor office, sporting a vintage Oklahoma State sweatshirt, jeans and boots. Several decades’ worth of wrestling mementos from Olympic, World and NCAA championships adorn the walls and credenza, along with framed photos of hunting, fishing and family. Rustic wood flooring, leather furnishings and western accents help make it the perfect digs for an iconic Cowboy coach. However, in his 20 years as head of the nation’s most decorated collegiate

sports team, Smith has never seemed quite comfortable behind a desk. Although deserving of all the trappings that come with a big-time program, one gets the feeling he could take it or leave it. “I like it,” he says of his surroundings, “but you don’t win anything with it, you know what I mean? This is for looks. You’ve still got to be in the room, sweating.” “The room” is the “Melvin and Mary Jones Cowboy Wrestling Room,” part of the 1999 Gallagher-Iba Arena expansion that brought the program out of its spartan basement facilities. The wrestling room features 7,000 sq. ft. of wall-to-wall practice mats, trimmed in orange and black.

STory by

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Portraits of OSU’s 82 individual national champions (133 titles among them) keep watch while coaches culled from their ranks teach techniques and preach practice habits to wide-eyed freshmen with similar dreams. It’s where as many as 30 student-athletes square off each afternoon to uphold the tradition that began with grappling pioneer Ed Gallagher nearly a century ago. It’s a room that both builds and reveals character. With 34 NCAA team titles in its illustrious history, the OSU Wrestling program has earned dynasty status. But after a string of four-straight titles from 2003–2006, Smith has seen his squad finish no better than

Clay Billman

phoTography by

Phil Shockley

fifth at the national tournament in recent years. “It’s not about winning every year,” Smith says. “That’s not the part that really drives me nuts. What drives me nuts is a lack of commitment, and for a couple years that’s what we had. They chose Oklahoma State, but they didn’t choose to believe in what it took to be at Oklahoma State. “With any team, you just want to get them to buy-in to your message,” he adds. “I think the struggles we’ve had the last couple seasons are due to the fact that some people just didn’t story Continues

December 2010


69


want to buy-in to being great. That fear held them back. We also had so discipline problems and a few people who had a hard time getting up in the morning to attend class on a daily basis. There is a certain lifestyle that is required to be a champion, and I don’t have much negotiation skills when it comes to what I expect in the room and lifestyle that we need to live.” Smith says there are no shortcuts to excellence. “We have been the best in the nation. There’s no substituting and no conning your way to getting back there. We’ve got to make sure we’re taking the right steps as a team and as individuals. Character is where it starts. “The landscape is changing,” he adds. “A lot of people sit around and complain about this generation of athletes and how they’ve changed, but you can either sit around and mope about it or get right in the middle of it and push hard to make changes. I’m going to work my tail off to turn it around and make it a positive environment — whatever it takes. It’s not about shooting a double-leg or a single-leg better. I’m talking about life changes.” After enduring those challenging seasons both on and off the mat, Smith is confident that the right type of character is making a comeback in the room. “The athletes and coaches have worked really hard to make changes, whether it be character-wise or wrestling-wise,” he says. “We’ve made progress, and I think we’ve got some people on this team right now buying-in to believing what we need to do to try and put our program in a position to be the best it can be — and that’s obviously trying to win

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December 2010

championships. We’re definitely in a lot better place right now, and I’m excited about where we are.” Considered a contender for the national championship, expectations were high going into the 2010–11 campaign. OSU returned three AllAmericans from a year ago, including Jordan Oliver (133 lbs.), Clayton Foster (197 lbs.) and Alan Gelogaev (heavyweight), along with a number of talented youngsters. Smith expected depth to be a strength of the team, but that depth has been tested by a rash of earlyseason injuries, including Ladd Rupp (ankle), Neil Erisman (shoulder), Chris McNeil (hamstring) and Gelogaev (pectoral muscle). “I’ve never had a beginning like this where we’ve had three or four guys get hurt this seriously. It’s just a freakish thing,” Smith says. “We had good depth as we went into this season, but that got depleted real quickly when you take those possible starters out of the lineup. The good thing is we’ve managed through it. “It doesn’t mean that we have AllAmerican depth at this point,” he adds, “but we have good people. I’m confident in their work ethic and their commitment to wrestling hard. We’ve put ourselves in a good position where still feel like we can win (duals). Normally, if you take two guys out of your starting lineup and you’re wrestling top programs, you’re not winning.” Smith believes the renewed character and unselfishness of this year’s team was revealed by the injuries. “We were forced to make some quick adjustments,” he says. “Albert White stepped up for us at 157 filling Neil’s spot. Albert is a 49-pounder who wanted to keep working to make

the team there, so that’s a very unselfish move. We’ve got Blake Rosholt and Tyson Yoder working in at heavyweight. My plan was to have Jordan Oliver not make weight so much at the beginning of the year, because we were going to use Ladd at 133, but immediately plans changed. Now Jordan’s got to make it every weekend. “We have some individuals on this team who have stepped up and recognized that ‘the team needs me, this is where I need to go.’ Those are the types of things that I’ve been looking for that we have failed to do in recent years. Now I see some people putting their team ahead of themselves right now, and that’s the start of building great chemistry.” Smith says several wrestlers have become positive role models in the room. “Some people are leaders in different ways. When you look at Clayton Foster, one of our seniors right now, he’s not very vocal, but he does a lot of good things that people follow. And if people can emulate Clayton Foster and his training and academic habits, we’re going to be great.” Redshirt freshman Chris Perry, who also happens to be Smith’s nephew (son of former Cowboy grappler Mark Perry), has also emerged as a leader. “Chris Perry loves wrestling. Loves to win. Hates to lose. He hasn’t had the perfect season thus far by any means, but I’ve sure enjoyed watching what’s occurred up to this point. He’s had to battle through a few things, but he’s got a great spirit about him. Chris trains hard, and as he maintains focus he’s going to get even better.” Smith says Perry’s training partner at 184 pounds has also been a key presence behind the scenes.


“We have some guys like Elliott Hellwege who do a lot for this program. Elliott is playing a backup role right now, yet everything is about trying to win as a team,” Smith says. “He really brings that spirit and shows a lot of leadership, because somebody has to play that role. Right now it’s not the role he came here to play, but there’s a lot of maturity in this kid, and I appreciate what he does for this team.

at a guy and sit around and talk to him, you can see why he’s a national champion or an All-American. Right now I believe we have several guys who are truly committed to being the best in the nation.” While working to build champions on the mat this season, Smith has his eyes on the bigger picture. “I’d love to see Oklahoma State Wrestling endowed,” he says. “We should put ourselves in a position

I’m going to work my tail off to turn it around and make it a positive

environment — whatever it takes. It’s not about shooting a double-leg or a single-leg better. I’m

talking about life changes.” “We’ve got a lot of people like that,” he adds. “Dallas Bailey (165 lbs.) shows a great commitment to his academics, and I think it rubs off on people. Chris McNeil (174 lbs.) is just an all-around positive influence.” Ranked No. 1 in his weight class, Oliver is also leading by example. “Jordan just trains hard,” Smith says. “He’s got a couple little habits that I’d like to see him break in the room and in his demeanor, but when you see him devastate somebody 15–1 in the first period in Gallagher, he’s doing pretty much the same thing every day in practice, dominating people. He’s really building a championship mentality in the wrestling room — and that’s where it has to start. “There’s a certain characteristic about great wrestlers. I don’t know about other sports, but when you look

where the coaches and athletes now and in the future always have a chance to be the best. That’s a great responsibility. “OSU Wrestling has won more championships than any program in the entire nation at any division or any level,” he adds. “I’m just a small part of it. It’s not because of me. It’s because of a lot of great athletes and coaches who have made a commitment to be the best, and we shouldn’t ever take it for granted.” Since 1989, a band of supporters known as the White Jacket Club for their signature satin apparel, has helped provide valuable financial resources via the POSSE to support the program’s operating budget. With a recent name change, this loyal group is looking to expand its mission and its membership.

“Calling it the Cowboy Wrestling Club just makes sense, because the name ties it to Oklahoma State a little bit more,” Smith explains. “What I see the club evolving into is something that is going to step up even more and focus on the endowment of the entire program.” The cost to endow a full scholarship through OSU’s “Leave a Legacy” campaign is $500,000. Thanks to past White Jacket Club contributions and several other significant gifts, OSU is halfway toward Smith’s short-term goal of endowing all 10 wrestling scholarships. “That would be a good start for now,” Smith says. “I have higher goals than that, and we have a higher budget than just scholarships, but I do believe we need to take our first steps.” Undefeated in dual action through the fall semester, Smith likes where his team is headed. “We struggled through a couple lean years, but we’re in a good spot right now,” he says. “That doesn’t mean that we’re going to light it on fire this year, it just means that we have an opportunity. We need to get some guys healthy to make a difference in the real strength of our team, but we have a good core group of athletes in the room.” After experiencing the lows of the past few seasons, Smith says he won’t take success for granted, despite the tradition on campus. “It could change at any time,” he cautions. “We have to keep the edge that we’ve created for ourselves and make sure we follow through. But as long as people are working hard and living the lifestyle that’s expected of them, it sure is a fun place.”

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Did You See It? 9/4/2010 –

OklahOma State vS. WaShingtOn State Br andon Weeden threW three touchdoWn pa s s e s t o J u s t i n B l a c k m o n , W h i l e k e n d a l l hunter r an for four scores and 257 ya r d s . t h e g a m e s e t p r e c e d e n c e f o r t h e e n t i r e 2 0 10 c o W B o y f o o t B a l l s e a s o n . f i n a l s c o r e : c o W B o y s , 6 5 , c o u g a r s , 17.

For tickets to osU athletics: okstate.com/tickets 877.all.4osU

72 PhotograPhy by

December 2010

Phil Shockley


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Story by

Keegan Davis Phil Shockley

PhotograPhy by

Orange FaithFul ShOw OFF OSu-themed rideS

74 December 2010


The second-annual cowboy car show was held

own personalized tag — BULLLET”

before the osU-tUlsa game on sept. 18. Fifteen Cowboy fans displayed

competition, Philip Green’s ’67

One of the cars entered in the

their orange and OSU-themed cars

Mustang Fastback, placed as a Top-5

or motorcycles at this year’s show,

Street Machine in the USA earlier this

which was held at the Hall of Fame

year. It also took home first prize in

Block Party outside of Boone Pickens

this year’s show.

Stadium.

Paul Compton’s custom 2010

The Cowboy Car Show, presented

chopper took second place. Sporting

by KICKER, gave awards for first,

a unique paint job with attention to

second and third place, plus prizes

detail, it truly was one-of-a-kind.

for the participants, all courtesy of KICKER Performance Audio. First

was all spiffed up and had his very

A 1979 Scout II International Harvester took third prize. The owner,

place received a KICKER iK501

former Cowboy football player Jerry

Digital Dock, second place received

Winchester, said he drove his Scout

a KICKER iK350 Mid-size Dock, and

to OSU 30 years ago when he was

third place received KICKER HP541

majoring in Engineering Technology –

I like to put a life-sized picture

DJ-style headphones. All

Mechanical Power, before graduating

participants received

in 1983.

EB101M premium noiseisolation in-ear monitors. “Outside of Homecoming,

of Travis Ford’s face in

the driver’s window. ”

The OSU Athletic Department would like to say thank you to everyone who participated and

I thought the car show was

special thanks to Roger Demaree

one of the coolest things

and KICKER for providing the prizes!

I have seen,” said David Powell, President of Benefit Management, Inc. Powell entered

LIsT oF parTIcIpanTs:

his orange 2008 H2 Hummer with

1929 ford phaeton

26-inch rims.

Tedd Mitchell, Arin Mitchell

“I like to put a life-sized picture of Travis Ford’s face in the driver’s

1964 Chevy nova (pro street)

window and another of Eddie Sutton

Jarid King

in the passenger window,” Powell said. “The faces some people make

1965 ford f-100 piCkUp

when they jump as they walk by is

Gary Engelking

pretty funny.” Brad and Kendria Cost entered their 2009 Smart Car, which sports a

1967 ford mUstang fastbaCk Philip Green — 1st Place

Pistol Pete paint job and is nicknamed “Bullet.” “We had a lot of fun last year and

1972 Chevrolet Corvette stingray James & Kaye Harrod

were excited about the possibility marketing coordinator for the OSU

1979 international harvestersCoUt ii

Seretean Wellness Center. “Bullet

Jerry & Rae Winchester — 3rd Place

of participating again,” said Kendria,

L i s t c o n t i n u e s n e x t pa g e

75


2002 Pontiac Grand Prix Gt Chris Saunders

2003 Honda GoldwinG cycle Tom & Sandy Billingsley

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2006 KawasaKi Mean streaK Matt & Kristie Gore

2007 Ford sHelby Gt500

Jeff & Fadia Jenkins

December 2010


2008 H2 Hummer SuT David & Judy Powell

2009 SmarT Car Brad & Kendria Cost

2010 CuSTom CHopper Paul Compton — 2nd Place

2010 CHevy Camero SS/rS Christopher & Cindy McCann

2011 SporTCHaSSiS p4XL James Aneshansley

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Bailey Boots his way into osU RecoRdPhil Books Clay Billman Shockley story by

78 December 2010

Photo by


Dan Bailey needed a new suit. A finalist for the 2010 Lou Groza Award, presented to the nation’s top collegiate placekicker, Bailey considered his wardrobe options for ESPN’s Home Depot College Football Awards. The ceremony is Oscar Night for college football’s best players, but the Cowboy kicker’s closet was sorely lacking in fashionable semi-formal attire. “I had one suit,” Bailey says, “but I think it was from my freshman year of high school. I kind of needed to get a new one.” The Mustang, Okla., native purchased a stylish, yet modest, three-piece ensemble to go with an orange tie and conservative black footwear. “Nothing too flashy,” he says. “That’s not really my style.” OSU fanS — and the faShiOn wOrld — wOUld diSagree. Since his sophomore

season, Bailey’s gameday shoes have been the epitome of flashy. Made for soccer, the “Mercurial Vapor IV” cleats give new meaning to the term “Orange Power.” The Nike catalog calls the color “Orange Peel,” but the shiny synthetic leather resembles a more radioactive tone. “I’ve had them ever since I’ve been here, but I didn’t wear them at first,” he says. “My buddy, (Matt) Fodge, who used to punt here, was always pushing me to wear them. He would say, ‘Dude, you gotta wear them. They’re awesome!’ I was kind of reluctant, but he talked me into it.” Unless they are wearing day-glow orange cleats, kickers often go unnoticed … until they miss. Going into the 2010 season, Bailey had never missed a point-after-touchdown. And with

OSU’s prolific offenses, he had plenty of opportunities. “The guys give me a hard time about the shoes sometimes. They say I’m superstitious,” Bailey says. “There’s a little gray area there, because I like to get into a routine. I don’t know if that falls under the superstition category, but I have a certain way I warm up and a certain way I practice. If something gets changed, it throws me off a little bit.” His first (and only) missed PAT came against Texas in the 10th game of his final season … coincidentally, without his trademark orange Nikes. “During warm-ups, whenever I was planting, I was kind of inconsistent,” he recalls. “I would hit a ball off to the right and hit the next ball to the left, which I usually don’t do. I couldn’t figure it out. When I looked down, the cleat on the heel of my left shoe was basically torn from the sole. I tried to

tape it and put a little bit of super glue on it, but nothing was really holding, so I had to go to the backup pair.” Noticeable in its absence, Bailey’s familiar footwear was replaced by a new silver and orange scheme. To cap off OSU’s opening drive, Bailey made his first field goal attempt, a short 23-yarder that put the Cowboys on top 3–0. “I hardly ever wear those shoes, so it felt a little different coming off my foot.” OSU scored again in the second quarter, and Bailey lined up for an automatic extra point attempt. It was the same routine Bailey and his teammates (deep-snapper Marc Yerry and holder Wes Harlan) had practiced countless times. But for the first time in his career — in 183 straight attempts — the ball did not go through the uprights, as a Longhorn story continues

79


lineman reached up and made the block. Bailey doesn’t blame the shoes. “Maybe it was fate, maybe not, but I should’ve made it,” he says. “I don’t want to be a guy that makes excuses. It shouldn’t really matter what shoes you’re wearing, you’re supposed to make every PAT.” The streak didn’t put any added pressure on him, he says. “It gets to a point where you do it so much you don’t even really think about it. We kick every day in practice. You just go out there and do it. So

It was crazy. From that point

on, honestly I didn’t have

time to think about it.” whenever you do miss one like I did at Texas, it kind of takes you by surprise. You’re like, ‘Wait a minute. What just happened here?’ It’s one of those things. I would’ve loved to have ended my career without a miss on PAT. It’s unfortunate, but all you can do is move on to the next kick.” As the Cowboys cruised to victory, Bailey returned to form, nailing a 45-yard field goal and three more PATs. By game’s end, Bailey had surpassed Barry Sanders on the alltime scoring list at OSU. Prior to the bowl game, Bailey had amassed 351 career points, including 196 out of 197 PATs and 54 of 69 field goals. “As far as records go, that’s always a goal whenever you play any sport, you want to break everybody’s record and be the best. But coming in, I thought I was only going to get to play

80

December 2010

maybe two or three years. It just sort of worked out in my favor, and luckily I’ve had a great special teams unit around me then entire time. My holder and my snapper have always been great, so it’s just as much their doing as it is mine. Without them I couldn’t have had any success at all.” Bailey says the special teams unit benefits from a tight bond. “We’re all so close off the field that I think it translates on the field, too. We all work hard in our respective positions, and we take it pretty seriously, but we also know how to stay relaxed. At the end of the day, we’re all going to be there for each other and do our jobs the best we can. I couldn’t ask for anything better. I’m thankful for them every time I make a kick.” No kick was bigger in Bailey’s career than the game-winner versus Texas A&M in October. The drama unfolded with big plays and momentum shifts from both teams in front of an ESPN Thursdaynight audience. Tied 35-35, the wild, back-and-forth battle came down to the final minute. The Cowboys’ backs were against the wall, and as the Aggies marched toward mid-field, Bailey feared the worst. “Honestly, I thought they were going to drive down and get a chance to win the game on a long field goal,” he admits. On a dime, the tide turned once again. A game-saving interception by freshman Shaun Lewis gave OSU the ball in Aggie territory. “It was crazy,” he says. “From that point on, honestly I didn’t have time to think about it.” In two quick plays the OSU offense moved into field goal range. The coaches milked the game clock down to :02 before calling a timeout to set

up the potential game-winning kick from 40 yards out. “I was on the sideline, hit a couple balls into the net, and after that I was out there. It went by really fast. Looking back I think it was beneficial, because I didn’t have time to think about it too much.” The Aggie sideline tried to “ice” Bailey by calling a timeout, but the senior calmly stuck to his routine. “I just had to go out there and put it through.” Fans in the stands and millions watching on TV focused on the man in the orange soccer shoes. Snap. Hold. Kick. The Boone Pickens Stadium crowd erupted as the ball split the uprights. Bailey was mobbed by teammates at mid-field. “I’d never had a game winner of any kind, so that was my first-ever attempt,” he says. “It was pretty cool – definitely one of the best experiences of my life so far.” Throughout his career, Bailey had always been steady. But prior to his senior campaign, he struggled with kicks longer than 40 yards (5 of 11 from 40-49; 1 of 4 from 50-plus). “I had people asking me, ‘Hey, are you going to make any over 40 this year?’ It was kind of a joke, but at the same time I took it seriously. That was my weakness, so this summer I worked with a couple different kicking coaches.” Bailey worked to make his kicking form as simple as possible. “I tried to get my form down to a point where I could repeat it over and over and not have to think about. I started approaching every kick the same way, whether it was 50 yards or 30 yards. The more I mentally blocked all that out and just said this kick is


one. Hopefully we can keep bringing in really talented kickers and keep it going here.” In addition to capturing the coveted Groza trophy, Bailey earned first-team All-Big 12 honors and was named Special Teams Player of the Year by the league’s coaches. Bailey’s recognition coincided with the Cowboys’ special season that garnered individual and team accolades by the bushel. OSU ended the regular season with a school-record 10 wins, tarnished only by a pair of hard-fought losses to Nebraska and Oklahoma. As the Bedlam game approached, Bailey worked to repair his favorite shoes. A new pair was out of the question. “They still make the model, but they don’t make the particular color anymore.” Armed with his patchwork orange cleats, Bailey had hoped for a chance to repeat history with another gamewinning field goal. After trailing the entire first half, OSU managed to tie the OU in the third quarter, only to see the Sooners answer. In the midst of a furious fourth quarter scoring frenzy, OSU freshman Justin Gilbert returned a kickoff 89 yards to give the Pokes new life. Less than three minutes remained. Would the Big 12 South title rest on Bailey’s size-12 right foot? “It was crazy,” he recalls. “We scored and were within two. I came off the field after the extra point, and Coach Gundy told me, ‘We’re going to kick a field goal to win it.’ I was definitely thinking it was going to happen. Unfortunately it didn’t turn out that way. But there for a little bit I thought for sure we were going to get a chance to win it at the end.”

Despite the disappointments, Bailey and the Cowboys are looking back on a season that very few outside the locker room could have envisioned. “Going into the season, our goal was to make it to the Big 12 Championship, and we got pretty close — a lot closer than everybody thought we would. As a team, we didn’t think we were going to have a down year, but

photo / Gary Lawson

just the same as all the others, the more consistent I got. It was a struggle at first during two-a-days, but it was more of just a mental hurdle for me than anything. Once I got past that, I started hitting the ball really well.” The former high school state champion golfer likens it to a golf swing. “It’s one of those things where there’s not really a wrong or right way to do it. It’s just whatever works for you. If you can get to a place where you can do it every time, the more successful you’re going to be.” No matter the distance, Bailey was nearly automatic in field goals this past season. Against Louisiana-Lafayette, Bailey hit two career-best kicks from 52 yards out. Overall, he was a much-improved 8 of 10 from beyond 40 yards. Bailey ranked third nationally in field goals made (24 of 28) and second in points per game (11.42). His season culminated in a trip to Orlando, Fla., where he sat alongside fellow Cowboy nominees Justin Blackmon (Biletnikoff Award winner) and Kendall Hunter (Doak Walker Award finalist) at the ESPN awards gala. Bailey became the first OSU kicker to win the prestigious Lou Groza Award, named for the late NFL Hall of Famer known as “The Toe.” “It is a great honor to win it,” Bailey says. “Just being in the top three was an honor in itself. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end my career at Oklahoma State. “I think it’s great for the university, as well,” he adds. “We’ve had some great kickers come through here, through the ’80s and up through the ’90s and more recently with Luke Phillips, Cole Farden, Fodge and people like that. Obviously Quinn Sharp is going to be another great

81 there’s no way we could’ve predicted the success we’ve had both as a team and individually. It definitely exceeded my expectations. It’s been fun, for sure.” Indeed, it’s been a kick.


Before there were IPads, IPhones or IPods, the only thIng there was to do as you were drIvIng down the road was … drIve. Unless you were swatting at children in the back seat while threatening to “pull this car over” or trying to get the road map to fold back into its original shape, concentrating on keeping your automobile between the ditches was your sole mission. Nowadays we have apps for finding restaurants, Google maps, mobile music, Tom-Toms, Garmins and a host of other electronic gadgets that are supposed to make life easier. I thInk. Of course there is the obligatory need to tweet about the guy who just ran the stop sign in front of you while you simultaneously change your Facebook status to “Road-rage.” And many Oklahoma drivers are driving while “intexticated.” Back when the only thing to do on cell phones was talk, I remember seeing an old truck with a bumper sticker that read, “Shut up and drive.”

82

To think, kids used to entertain themselves while riding down the highway by looking for out-ofstate car tags. My how the world has changed. Speaking of a changing world, have you looked at the list of bowl games this year? While it is the ESPN proclaimed “most wonderful time of the year,” you may need a literary guide to America’s multiple sponsorship names. For those interested in the primary food groups, there are bowls from: Beef “O” Brady, Little Caesar’s Pizza, Outback and Chick-fil-A. There is a bowl for those interested in social issues of the day (Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl and Humanitarian Bowl), and some for men and women in uniform (the Military Bowl … not to be confused with the Armed Forces Bowl). If you have car problems, you can watch the Maaco or Meineke Car Care Bowls. If all of this is so confusing and you can’t find your way, there is the Compass Bowl. While this is not your dad’s bowl season, there is the GoDaddy.com Bowl. Remember when you watched a few bowl games before New Years Eve? Then New Years Day would go something like this: Wake up and watch the parade of your mother’s choice. Then the Cotton Bowl came first, because somewhere, someone knew there had to be one game with a morning kickoff. Because the Cotton Bowl had participants from our part of the country, it was interesting.

After that came the Rose Bowl. Color and pageantry — check. Exciting football between the Pac 10 and the Big 10 … not so much. While the Rose Bowl wound down and the committee was determining which float had the best ambiance, the Sugar Bowl kicked off. The night would end as you flipped back and forth between the Sugar and Orange Bowls as you rooted for (or against) whoever came from our part of the country. Seems like those were the good old days. Now, everyone and their dog gets a bowl game. We should develop a bowl game in Oklahoma. There are several oil and energy companies with much catchier names and logos than those currently used from back East. If none of them are interested, I’m sure there are some western wear stores or insurance companies that could pick up the slack. The Mock Brother’s Saddlery Bowl would be super! We could all get a new pair of boots (Justin, size 10D, please.). The Oklahoma Farm Bureau could get involved, and everyone who tweeted in the car when they should have been turning it, could get a new policy that covers collision. Regardless of your gadget of choice, while traveling to your favorite bowl game of the season (what I like to call “The Alamo Bowl”), be safe driving. And don’t forget your handy Bowl Game Guide for bowl dates, names and sponsorships. Above all, enjoy the season, the lights and colors … especially Orange. Go Pokes! kyle Wray

December 2010

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As AlwAys, tHAnk you for your support of osu AtHletics. Mike Holder When you join up with the POSSE and buy season tickets to any sport, you...

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