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EDITORIAL MILWAUKEE ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS

CHRIS ZILLS

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS COMMUNICATIONS & MULTIMEDIA

CODY BOHL

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR COMMUNICATIONS

ASHLEY STELTENPOHL COORDINATOR CONTENT CREATION

GARY D’AMATO FEATURE WRITER

DEB LOGAN

CORPORATE SPONSORSHIP MILWAUKEE PANTHER SPORTS PROPERTIES

PHOTOGRAPHY

LEN CEDERHOLM, ASHLEY STELTENPOHL, AND TOM BARRETT

CREATIVE SERVICES

ASHLEY STELTENPOHL, KYRA ARENDT, TOM BARRETT, BILLY KLINGSPORN JR., BLAIR WEBER AND MICAELA LEURHING


CONTENTS

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SPORT UPDATES

Men’s Basketball, Women’s Basketball, Track & Field, Volleyball, Cross Country, Swim & Dive, Tennis, Baseball, Men’s Soccer, and Women’s Soccer

PANTHERS BEYOND BORDERS

Tennis student-athletes travel from around the world to Milwaukee to be a Panther on and off the field of competition.

TRADED FOR AN MLB ALL-STAR Baseball alumn Jake Sommers catches up with the Roar Report.

THE SLOW TREK BACK TO NORMAL ON THE DIAMOND

Baseball in 2021? Seniors Mike Ferri, Joe Vyskocil, and George Swedie recall memories of the cancelled 2020 season and their decision in coming back for 2021.

AN UNPRECEDENTED “FEET” A year to remember for women’s cross country runner Meg Swietlik.

LOOKING BACK ON THE LIFE OF JIMMY BANKS Remembering Jimmy Banks

DONOR PROFILE

Steve Schoof - a long time fan and supporter of Milwaukee Athletics

SISTERHOOD ON THE PANTHER HARDWOOD By Gary D’Amato

A family reunion on the basketball court with Bre and Angie Cera

A WELL-DESERVED THANK YOU FOR DR. SWENSON Dr. Swenson recalls his fond memories with the Milwaukee Panthers

The

Roar report


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MEN’S BASKETBALL SPORT UPDATE

The Milwaukee men’s basketball season featured a very different schedule, with the team facing each Horizon League opponent in a weekend series of back-to-back games on consecutive days. The non-conference portion was eventually also scaled back, with the team having to cancel a handful of contests after facing a COVID pause. Overall, the Panthers finished 10-12, including a thrilling ride through the postseason that included an unprecedented comeback and a spot in the semifinals of the Horizon League Championships. Three different players averaged double-figures for the winter, led by DeAndre Gholston at 16.8 points per game. Te’Jon Lucas (14.9 ppg) and Josh Thomas (12.5 ppg) were the other two, with Amir Allen leading the squad in rebounding at 5.5 per contest. Gholston enjoyed a terrific first season in an MKE uniform, adding 5.2 rebounds while shooting 44 percent from the floor, 37 percent from three-point range and 80 percent from the line. Donovan Newby impressed as a freshman, setting the school record with his 90.2 percent shooting from the free throw line while working his way into the starting lineup by season’s end. Lucas added 4.6 rebounds a night, led the team with in both assists (5.8 apg) and steals (1.2 spg), and was named Third Team All-League to mark the second straight season he earned postseason accolades (second-team as a junior). He also hit the 1,000-point milestone for his career against Oakland in February, becoming the 28th player to do so wearing a Panther uniform. 07

Milwaukee opened 2-0 in league play for the first time since 2011-12 and wound up displaying some incredible comeback capabilities, recording victories in four different games over the course of the campaign after trailing by at least 10 points in the contest. The Panthers got out of an early 13-point hole to top IUPUI in late January and also pulled off an improbable victory over Cleveland State after trailing by 14 with 2:46 to play before claiming the 8180 decision. They put an exclamation point on it and garnered some national attention in the league tournament game against Wright State. In roaring back from a 24-point deficit to win, 94-92, the team claimed some unique status: *The Panthers had a win probability of 0.03% at its lowest point, per KenPom, matching the largest comeback since KenPom began tracking it. *KenPom also ranked Milwaukee’s win against Wright State as No. 1 and its Jan. 23 victory against Cleveland State No. 2 as the top comebacks in the NCAA this past season. *It was the second-largest deficit EVER overcome in NCAA history over the final 5 minutes of a game (MKE trailed by 18 at the 5:00-mark, two other teams all-time won after being down 19 with 5 to go.).


WOMEN’S BASKETBALL SPORT UPDATE

The Milwaukee women’s basketball team had a year to remember as the Panthers claimed a share of the Horizon League regular season title and earned an at-large bid to the WNIT. Highlighted by a defense that was ranked in the top 20 of NCAA Division I all season long, Milwaukee finished the year 20-8, marking the 10th 20-win season in program history. At one point, the Panthers were receiving votes in both the USA Today and AP Polls for the first time in program history. MKE owned the state, taking down Marquette and beating Green Bay in both matchups. The Panthers also opened Horizon League play with their best start in program history at 12-0. Milwaukee finished 15-5 in league play as it was crowned co-champs. MKE also finished the year as the best free throw shooting team in NCAA Division I history, setting a new NCAA record at the charity stripe. The Panthers hit 83.8 percent of their shots from the line to knock off the previous record of 83.2 percent, which was set by Idaho State in 2008. Megan Walstad and Brandi Bisping packed a major one-two punch for the Panthers as both ranked in the Horizon League’s top 12 in scoring and rebounding. Walstad was named First Team All-League and All-Defensive Team while Bisping earned a Second Team All-League nod.

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MEN’S TRACK & FIELD SPORT UPDATE

The Panthers put together a solid showing at the Horizon League Indoor Championships, earning a runner-up finish with 180.5 total team points. Milwaukee claimed four individual titles and 17 total podium finishes. Sam Conger and Michael Gorman earned titles in the 60-meter hurdles and 60-meter dash, respectively while Austin Wallace (Heptathlon) and Jake Wendt (Weight Throw) took gold in the field. Throughout the indoor season, the Panthers continue to etch new names in the program’s top10 record list with 13 new times or marks. The Panthers have also returned to the track outdoors for the first time since 2019 and have added eight names to the top-10 list after just three weekends competing. Austin Wallace is quickly becoming a household name as he set a new outdoor school record in the long jump and now holds both the indoor and outdoor record at Milwaukee.

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WOMEN’S TRACK & FIELD SPORT UPDATE

Milwaukee put together its best indoor finish since 2017, finishing runner-up at the Horizon League Championships in late February. The Panthers reached the podium 10 times with four individual titles. Nadia Vo was named Indoor Field Freshman of the Year after winning the long jump and also reaching the podium in the high jump. Kyra Arendt won her third consecutive triple jump crown while Meg Swietlik (5,000-meter) and Annie Guerrero (High Jump) earned titles on day one. The Panthers earned four Athlete of the Week honors during the indoor season and added 14 names to the top-10 records list including a new school record by Swietlik in the 5,000-meter race at the Panther Tune Up. Ashley Melvin has already shined through three weeks of the outdoor season, setting a new outdoor record in the high jump and earning back-to-back Horizon League weekly honors. Milwaukee has put 13 new marks or times on the top-10 list already as the Panthers prepare for the outdoor championships.

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VOLLEYBALL SPORT UPDATE

After COVID put a pause on practice a week before the season began, the Milwaukee volleyball team was put on its heels early on in the condensed season. The Panthers made the most of it, however and closed the season with four straight victories. Milwaukee swept Oakland and wrapped up the year with two victories at Purdue Fort Wayne to finish the year 8-6. Ari Miller and Jess Grabowski collected postseason to lead Milwaukee. Miller earned her second straight All-League First Team honor after posting a team-high 161 kills, .324 attack percentage, and 42 blocks. Grabowski led the defense with 211 digs, averaging 5.02 per set as she was named All-League Second Team. The Panthers also got some newcomers in the mix to gain some experience moving forward. Kaley Blake played in all 49 sets as a setter and totaled 256 assists and 109 digs. Emma Loveall saw action in 10 matches and put away 56 kills while Sarah Schrader battled through an earlyseason injury to finish with 49 digs and six aces in six matches.

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CROSS COUNTRY SPORT UPDATE

The Milwaukee cross country teams made the most of what was a unique season for all cross country runners. Four days after the Horizon League Indoor Track & Field Championships, the team turned around and ran in their only cross country meet – the league championships. For the second time in three years, the women’s cross country team was crowned Horizon League Champions in what was a complete team effort at IUPUI’s Northview Church Course. MKE finished the meet with 58 points for first place, while Oakland came in second, also with 58 points, but the Black & Gold earned the top spot in the head-to-head tie breaker. Senior Meg Swietlik broke the tape in 21:33.3 – a full 25 seconds ahead of the next runner for the top spot at the podium and league Athlete of the Year. Swietlik is the first league champion for Milwaukee since Leah Holmes in 2015, and is the first MKE female in Division-I history to qualify for the NCAAs. Fellow classmate to Swietlik, senior Mikayla Fox made a successful return for her redshirt senior season and was right behind Swietlik to finish as league runner-up with a time of 21:58.6. This marks her second time in three years the Oak Creek native finished second at the league meet. On the men’s side, Milwaukee narrowly missed another team trophy and turned in a fourth-place finish at the league meet.

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Trevor Wenzel cracked the top-10 with a sixth place finish and set a new PR at 25:45.3. His sixth-place finish earned him a nod to the Horizon League First Team. Danny Browne earned Second Team AllLeague honors, taking 12th overall with a solid time of 26:15.4, while senior Corey Thornton crossed at 26:30.5 for 16th.


SWIM& DIVE SPORT UPDATE

The 2020-21 season was certainly unconventional, as the Milwaukee men’s and women’s swimming & diving teams did not officially swim in a competitive meet until February 21 – a date in which a typical season would be winding up at the league championship meet. Both teams were only able to swim in three duals, with the MKE women going 2-1 and the men finishing up 1-2. The Horizon League Championships also took a unique route, with the league splitting the competition into two days of diving followed by a day off, followed by the three days of swimming competition. The event took place at IUPUI from April 5-10, 2021. In the diving portion, McKenzie Sanchez claimed the women’s 1-Meter diving championship with 290.30 points, topping the rest of the field by nearly 20 points, giving her the crown in back-toback seasons in the process. She topped the field in preliminaries and then followed it up with a great performance in the finals. She also placed third on the 3-M board. On the men’s side, Jared Kleczka led the MKE efforts with Second-Team All-Horizon League honors on the 1-M board and a fourth-place finish on the 3-M. Both Kleczka and Sanchez also qualified for NCAA Zone Diving Regionals over the course of the shortened season. In the pool, the team was led by: *Molly Meland: fourth in the 100 butterfly (55.85) *Cassandra Hutchins: fifth in the 100 free (51.95)

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*Molly Meland: fifth in the 50 freestyle (23.70) *Cassandra Hutchins: fifth in the 200 free (1:53.20) *Danny Larson: fifth in the 200 free (1:38.30) *Giulia Guerra-Montes: sixth in the 200 backstroke (2:02.44) *Antoni Haupt: sixth in the 1,650 free *Betsy Weil: seventh in the 100 breaststroke (1:03.98) *Jay Jensen: seventh in the 1,650 free *Antoni Haupt: eighth in the 500 free (5:05.40) *Meghan Jagdfeld: eighth in the 200 IM (2:07.40) Other highlights included Robert Petersen finishing second (1:49.41) and Zach McClellan third (1:50.35) in the 200 fly consolation heat, both touching the wall under the former MKE freshmen standard in the event set back in 2016. Lastly, the Panthers received consolation-heat winning swims from Giulia Guerra-Montes (400 IM), Sydney Dahl (200 freestyle), Mia Piljevic (100 backstroke), Betsy Weil (200 breaststroke), and Bella Passamani (200 butterfly).


TENNIS

SPORT UPDATE

The Milwaukee tennis team (14-7, 7-5) clinched a spot into the Horizon League Tournament after a thrilling series against Cleveland State the weekend of April 24-25. This marks the second time in three years that the Panthers have earned a spot in to the league tournament. The team will represent the Black & Gold as the No. 3 seed and will face Youngstown State in the Semifinals at the Schwartz Tennis Center hosted by Purdue University. Freshman Greta Carbone had one of the best seasons in Milwaukee tennis history ending the regular season 16-4, 10-2 HL for the 2021 season – 15 of those wins coming from the No. 1 singles line. She also ended the regular season with the second-most singles wins in the league. The Panthers had three additional players who reached double digit-figures in wins, senior Anna Daniel Fuentes and juniors Nikki Milner and Mayya Perova. Senior Anna Daniel Fuentes finished with a career best 13 wins, with a 13-7 record, competing primarily from the No. 4 singles line. Milner and Perova finished third and fourth on the team, respectively with 12 and nine wins each.

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BASEBALL SPORT UPDATE

Milwaukee won nine of its last 12 Horizon League contests to sit at 12-8 halfway through league play. Pitching has been solid for the Panthers as the team ranks second in earned run average through 31 total games this season. After COVID-19 forced the Panthers to cancel the remainder of the 2020 season, Milwaukee finally got the chance to play at new home Franklin Field. The Panthers opened their new digs with a bang, earning a four-game sweep of Purdue Fort Wayne. Milwaukee went 9-3 in their first 12 games in their new park this season. There’s been no shortage of excitement this year with multiple come-from-behind victories including a 10th-inning walkoff grand slam by Jack Kraus to beat Youngstown State 12-8 on April 11. Milwaukee has five victories this season when trailing after six innings. Freshman pitchers Riley Frey and AJ Blubaugh have provided solid pieces for the Panthers’ staff. Frey ranks fourth in the Horizon League in ERA (2.70) and ninth in strikeouts (43), while Blubaugh has 22 strikeouts in 14.1 innings out of the bullpen and is tied for the league lead with six saves.

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MEN’S SOCCER SPORT UPDATE

The men’s soccer team played a shortened version of the 2020 schedule that had been canceled in the fall, posting a 6-4 mark in the regular season. Following a tough 4-3 loss to Oakland in a mid-season game in which they led late, the Panthers stood at 3-4 and on the outside looking in for postseason possibilities. From there, the team rallied and never stopped, piling up three consecutive victories in contests in which a loss would have eliminated them from the Horizon League Tournament. The Panthers then came in as the No. 4 seed – but moved up to the three following a COVID change to the field – and posted back-to-back upsets to claim the Horizon league Tournament Championship. Paolo Gratton led the way, scoring the late game-winner against No. 3 UIC in the 2-1 semifinal victory and the only goal of the 1-0 win over top-seeded – and nationally-ranked – Northern Kentucky in the finals. Nick Chiappa also played a key role, posting the shutout which included a save on a penalty kick just after halftime. The team enters the NCAA Tournament on a five-game winning streak, outscoring the opposition by a count of 13-2. Gratton has been a catalyst on offense all season, currently leading the Horizon League in points (22) and goals (11) with his breakout season in which he now stands third in the country in goals scored. He is the first Panther to score 10-plus goals since Laurie Bell in 2013 and the first to find the back of the net in six consecutive contests since Antou Jallow did in in seven straight to close out the 2002 regular season. 16

Gratton was a First-Team All-Horizon League selection, joined by Jake Kelderman and Logan Farrington, who also picked up HL Freshman of the Year accolades after scoring 14 points (5G/4A), leading the conference in shots (54) and shots on goal (22). He was named to the AllFreshman squad, joined by Raul Medina.


WOMEN’S SOCCER SPORT UPDATE

The women’s soccer team played a shortened version of the 2020 schedule that had been canceled in the fall, posting a 7-1 mark in the regular season. Although the team came up just short of a sixth-straight Horizon League regular-season crown, they did gain a measure of revenge in the postseason. Up first, they topped IUPUI – the only team to defeat the Panthers in league play since 2016 – by a score of 3-0. The team then went on the road to top-seeded Northern Kentucky and claimed the Horizon League Tournament title in a thrilling penalty-kick shootout. Following a 0-0 draw in which the team outshot the Norse, 15-5, the Panthers advanced in the shootout round by a final score of 4-3, with Tournament MVP Elaina LaMacchia making saves in rounds four and five to clinch the spot for the team to make its third straight NCAA Tournament appearance. LaMacchia enters the NCAA’s with a scoreless streak of 477:47 and is on pace to set a program record with her 0.20 goals-against average, a number that ranks tops in the conference and #4 in the NCAA. She earned Second-Team AllHorizon League honors, one of six Panthers to do so. Highlighting the way was a pair of FirstTeam All-Horizon League selections in Rachel Phillpotts and Jelena Sever. Sever leads the team in points with 13, helped along by a leaguebest six goals. Earning second-team status was Mackenzie Schill

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Taylor Hattori, and LaMacchia, with newcomer Clara Broecker picking up a spot on the Horizon League All-Freshman Team. That lone loss in the regular season did end some long streaks, giving MKE new league and program records with its 36-game unbeaten streak in regular-season league play (33-0-3), as well as a 31-game home unbeaten streak (29-0-2) that also dated back to 2016.


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T

he long and vast tradition at Milwaukee has reached people in every corner of our world. Because of this, student-athletes travel from around the world to Milwaukee to be a Panther on and off the field of competition. Not only that, these international athletes have become some of the most successful in their chosen sport. Despite having to make adjustments, moving from one country to another, these athletes thrive. The Panther Way is easily understood across all languages, customs and cultures. In the grand scheme of things, Milwaukee, it’s mantras and traditions go beyond borders.

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// PANTHERS BEYOND BORDERS

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QUICK HITTERS Favorite place in your hometown: City Life Best spot to visit in your country: Piazza Duomo Teach us how to say something in your language: “Sei bellissima”. “You are beautiful” (for a girl) Favorite food from home: Pasta Biggest difference between life in Milan and life in the USA: The quality of the food and how the people dress themselves. No comment. National Anthem: Fratelli d’Italia Flag colors: Green, white, red Native Language: Italian Why MKE? For different reasons: because it gave me the great opportunity to continue both studying and playing tennis. I also wanted to go in a pretty big city, and because the coach and the girls from the team made me a really good impression from the beginning. What took the longest to acclimate to when you first arrived to the US? Probably get used to the American food and to being independent in many aspect of my daily life that I wasn’t used to be. In your opinion, what are some strange/weird words/phrases that Americans use? All the abbreviations that they frequently use to send text messages. I know the most common ones (like: idk, tbh, …), but there are a lot of them that I have no idea what they mean. What do you miss most from Milan that you wish you could have here in the US? (Outside of family and friends) I would say for sure Italian food and my city because I always feel home. Also, I really miss the nice, warm weather as well. What’s one thing you wish you could bring back with you from the US to your hometown? Peanut butter and jam sandwich! What’s it like growing up to be a tennis athlete from where you’re from? The biggest difference that I noticed between playing tennis in my home town and playing tennis here in MKE, is that in Italy (and I would say in Europe or out of college tennis in general) is that you’re more focused on yourself. Whereas here in the US, when you play for a University, you act as a team in all the aspect of your daily life. Everything is about supporting each other and prioritize the team over yourself - and personally I really like the latter.

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QUICK HITTERS Favorite place in your hometown: Arrabassada beach and Plaça la Font Best spot to visit in your country: Since culture is very different in the different regions of Spain, there are lots of places in Spain that are worth visiting. For example: Menorca beaches, Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Alhambra in Granada, and the city of Toledo Teach us how to say something in your language: Estoy muy orgullosa de formar parte del equipo de tenis de Milwaukee = I am very proud to be part of the tennis team at UWM Favorite food from home: I love eating tapas where you can have a little bit of everything such as Jamon, tortilla de patatas or seafood tapas Biggest difference between life in Tarragona and life in the USA: Lifestyle National Anthem: Marcha Real Flag colors: Red and Yellow Native Language: Catalan and Spanish Why MKE? One of my tennis friends from back home was on the team when I was talking to the coach at Milwaukee. She told me how happy she was at UWM and how nice the city was. Then I did a little bit of a research about it, and I just loved it. What took the longest to acclimate to when you first arrived to the US? As you all know, I love food. Food at my hometown and in the US are very different, not just the ingredients but also the way of cooking it and the traditions involved. I was used to eating everything my family cooked without thinking whether was healthy for me or not. Once I got to college and I had to take my own decisions about what to eat every day, I realized how different the food is. I remember, I went into the ‘freshmen 15’ because I was trying everything until I learned that I couldn’t just eat everything the dorms offered since it wasn’t the same food that we used to cook at home. In your opinion, what are some strange/weird words/phrases that Americans use? “Freshmen 15” which I find very funny because it is true and “The ship has sailed” we have a similar phrase but with train. We would say “You missed the train.” What do you miss most from Tarragona that you wish you could have here in the US? (Outside of family and friends) I would say the weather conditions back at my hometown are ideal, and I wish I could bring the weather here. The weather is pretty much always sunny and even during winter it does not get below the 45 F. Since the weather is so good, people are very outdoorsy and we love being at the beach, or just having a drink at a terrace. I would say weather also has an influence on people’s lifestyle and even personality. People’s lifestyle back home is based on being around friends, family and outside. What’s one thing you wish you could bring back with you from the US to your hometown? Sandwiches at home look very different than sandwiches here. For example, we use baguette type of bread, then we spread the inside of a tomato on the bread, put some olive oil and a little bit of salt. Then you add what we call “embutido”. I wish I could bring “jamon” and “fuet” which are two of my favorite “embutidos”. What’s it like growing up to be a tennis athlete from where you’re from? Tennis is not a sport that high schools offer in Spain. So I went to the tennis club in my city which is called “Club Tennis Tarragona”. We were a group of six girls around my same age practicing together. Four of the six girls are now student athletes in the US as well. Growing up was a very positive experience. I used to practice 4 days a week and I remember having so much fun at practice. The tennis club I am part of at home is very social, so it wasn’t just going to practice. It was about spending time with my friends, while learning so many values like toughness, and integrity. There are lots of girls who play tennis around my area and the weather conditions here are great to play tennis, since it barely rains and it is warm enough all year around to play outside. I remember going with my parents and friends to tournaments around my city every weekend.

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QUICK HITTERS Favorite place in your hometown: Manchester Best spot to visit in your country: Buckingham Palace Teach us how to say something in your language: I speak English haha… but try saying Tuesday like “Chewsday” and you’ll sound a little British! Favorite food from home: Anything my Mum cooks! I also love a roast dinner on a Sunday Biggest difference between life in Bolton and life in the USA: The portion sizes at restaurants! National Anthem: God Save the Queen Flag colors: Red, white and blue Native Language: English Why MKE? I felt it would be the best fit for me academically and athletically. I also loved the idea of being in a city and by the Lake. What took the longest to acclimate to when you first arrived to the US? I would say the winter and all the snow! It also took me a while to get used to certain words Americans use. For example, I would refer to the sidewalk as the pavement. In your opinion, what are some strange/weird words/phrases that Americans use? “Y’all”, “Ope”. What do you miss most from Bolton that you wish you could have here in the US? (Outside of family and friends) I miss my dog! What’s one thing you wish you could bring back with you from the US to your hometown? If I could bring one thing back with me from the US to my hometown it would be Bradford Beach in the summer. Or Culver’s! What’s it like growing up to be a tennis athlete from where you’re from? Being a tennis player in England can give you a lot of opportunities to meet new people from all over the country. The tournaments are also very fun and competitive and there’s also some great role models such as Andy Murray.

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QUICK HITTERS Favorite place in your hometown: My bed Best spot to visit in your country: Cracow - Old Town Teach us how to say something in your language: “Dzień dobry” = “good day”. We do not say “good morning” or “good afternoon” depending on the time of the day, we just say “good day”. Favorite food from home: My grandmas’ pierogi with blueberries and Polish apple pie Biggest difference between life in Warsaw and life in the USA: We eat breakfast, dinner and supper that looks more like another breakfast instead of breakfast, lunch and dinner. National Anthem: “Mazurek Dąbrowskiego” or also known as “Pland Is Not Yet Lost” in English Flag colors: White and red Native Language: Polish Why MKE? I really liked Jason after our first conversation. He seemed very responsible. Almost every girl from the team at that time reached out to me and the fact that they were all international made the decision to join the team easier. What took the longest to acclimate to when you first arrived to the US? Definitely language. As a non-English native speaker, I wasn’t confident in my ability to speak English. That is why I barely spoke during my first semester in the US. I had to think twice what I wanted to say before actually saying it. Fortunately, it comes more naturally now. In your opinion, what are some strange/weird words/phrases that Americans use? “Spill the tea” or “Riding shotgun”. What do you miss most from Warsaw that you wish you could have here in the US? (Outside of family and friends) FOOD! I miss most not only some specific food products that do not taste the same or are extremely expensive in the US, but also the food quality. What’s one thing you wish you could bring back with you from the US to your hometown? I would bring people’s kindness back to my hometown/country What’s it like growing up to be a tennis athlete from where you’re from? Tennis in Poland seems a much more individual sports discipline. It’s hard to find other players who would be willing to practice in a group. One reason why it’s happening is that tennis players from back home are very competitive and they prefer practicing on their own with their own coaches. So, I would say that growing up to be a tennis athlete in Poland is a quite individual and competitive process.

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QUICK HITTERS Favorite place in your hometown: Glenelg, South Australia. Best spot to visit in your country: Great Barrier Reef and Queensland. Teach us how to say something in your language: “G’day mate.” Favorite food from home: Fresh fruit Biggest difference between life in Adelaid and life in the USA: Definitly the weather. National Anthem: Advance Australian Fair Flag colors: Blue, white and red Native Language: Australian Why MKE? I chose MKE because I wanted to try something different, I had never been in this type of climate before! I also loved the campus and everyone I met was super welcoming. What took the longest to acclimate to when you first arrived to the US? It took me a very long time to adjust to the weather, and I still don’t think I’m used to it. In your opinion, what are some strange/weird words/phrases that Americans use? Y’all say “Y’all” a lot. What do you miss most from your hometown that you wish you could have here in the US? (Outside of family and friends) Beaches and warm weather. What’s one thing you wish you could bring back with you from the US to your hometown? Snow! But not too much. What’s it like growing up to be a tennis athlete from where you’re from? Growing up in my hometown playing tennis, it was a very close-knit community of players, I also had my family heavily involved in the sport, so I defiantly had a lot of people close to me to support me.

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QUICK HITTERS Favorite place in your hometown: Ahh it’s hard for me to choose one, bit I really like to stroll around Frunzenskaya district, it’s really pretty there. Best spot to visit in your country: Moscow or Saint-Petersburg Teach us how to say something in your language: “Thank you” in Russian would probably be one of the easiest words to pronounce, which is “spasibo”. Favorite food from home: “Sirniki”. These are like little cheesecakes, we usually eat it for breakfast or dessert. They are made of flour, eggs, sugar and cottage cheese, when everything is mixed up, we fry it on the pan. Biggest difference between life in Moscow and life in the USA: People’s mindset/mentality National Anthem: осударственный гимн Российской Федерации - The Hymn of the Russian Federation Flag colors: White, dark blue and red Native Language: Russian Why MKE? I really liked the coach during recruiting process, I had a feeling that I will like the team. And I wanted to study in an urban area, so MKE seemed like the right choice. What took the longest to acclimate to when you first arrived to the US? To everything at once to be honest. To balance studying in English, which was totally new for me, practices, all the deadlines, and meeting new people. I think it took me two months to acclimate. In your opinion, what are some strange/weird words/phrases that Americans use? Before coming to US I didn’t really know all the slang, so at first I was confused with it and thought that it is strange. What do you miss most from Moscow that you wish you could have here in the US? (Outside of family and friends) Russian food and groceries! I feel lucky that we have Russian store near campus, however there is not everything that I like to eat at home. This one may seem funny but manicure and hair salons. From my experience, back home it’s much cheaper and masters are more skilled. What’s one thing you wish you could bring back with you from the US to your hometown? Some of the clothing brands, like urban outfitters , and food chains like Chipotle/Qdoba. We don’t have anything alike. What’s it like growing up to be a tennis athlete from where you’re from? It’s about being busy all the time.We don’t have tennis courts at school, so after my classes I would drive to the tennis club, which we would take me about thirty-forty minutes, since Moscow is a big city. After first practice I would have another tennis one there or a workout at a different gym. Sometimes I would drive to another club to play on score with other girls. So, being a tennis athlete taught me to be able to balance school and sports from the beginning.

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// PANTHERS BEYOND BORDERS

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QUICK HITTERS Favorite place in your hometown: The hills behind our house. I love taking my dogs for a walk there. Best spot to visit in your country: Definitely Prague! I love going to Prague for a trip. Teach us how to say something in your language: “Ahoj, Česká republika je nejlepší!” It means “Hi, the Czech Republic is the best!” Favorite food from home: Potato dumpling with smoked meat and cabbage. It sounds weird but it’s so delicious! Biggest difference between life in your Vsetín and life in the USA: There are two main differences that I see; the food here and the way that people behave. National Anthem: Kde domov můj Flag colors: White, red and blue Native Language: Czech language Why MKE? Because I really like the whole team and also the academic side is pretty good! What took the longest to acclimate to when you first arrived to the US? I think the time change, because that was my first jet lag. I was tired all day long. In your opinion, what are some strange/weird words/phrases that Americans use? The phrase “you know”! I feel like you guys are using this in every sentence! haha What do you miss most from your hometown that you wish you could have here in the US? (Outside of family and friends) Czech food! I really miss eating my favorite Czech dishes. What’s one thing you wish you could bring back with you from the US to your hometown? The way that people in the US behave. They are nice and they want to help you! What’s it like growing up to be a tennis athlete from where you’re from? It’s [tennis] getting to be really common because tennis is popular sport in the Czech Republic. We have really good tennis players and so a lot of children are starting with tennis in last few years. Also at high school teachers (not all of them) were kinda fine with me missing classes but I had a lot of homework then.

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// PANTHERS BEYOND BORDERS

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QUICK HITTERS Favorite place in your hometown: The Parliament building downtown Best spot to visit in your country: Either Toronto or Vancouver Teach us how to say something in your language: “Tu veux aller à Culvers?” “Do you want to go to Culvers?” Favorite food from home: Poutine! Or Beavertails Biggest difference between life in your hometown and life in the USA: Everything in Ottawa is written in both English and French and the majority of the people are bilingual which isn’t as common here in the US. National Anthem: Oh Canada Flag colors: Red and white Native Language: English and French Why MKE? Initially, I attended and competed at Longwood University in Virginia for a year and although I enjoyed my experience, I did not feel like I belonged and could improve. When I first talked to Jason, my coach here at Milwaukee, I instantly felt such a great connection. I absolutely love the city and UWM is a great school for me both athletically and academically. My team here is amazing and I have made so many great friends - I really couldn’t ask to go to a better school. What took the longest to acclimate to when you first arrived to the US? Before coming to the US for school, I lived in Florida for about a year to train. Being from Canada, there are not too many differences between the two countries. In your opinion, what are some strange/weird words/phrases that Americans use? One thing I’ve realized in Wisconsin is that people call water fountains “Bubblers” which is one thing I haven’t really gotten used to. Also, I’m very used to spelling some words like “favorite” with a “U” (favourite) so it’s taken me some time to get used to the spelling. What do you miss most from Ottawa that you wish you could have here in the US? (Outside of family and friends) This sounds quite cheesy but I definitely miss the maple syrup and Tim Hortons, which in my opinion, is the best fast food coffee shop. What’s one thing you wish you could bring back with you from the US to your hometown? Culvers, especially the frozen custard! What’s it like growing up to be a tennis athlete from where you’re from? It was difficult growing up playing tennis in Ottawa because there were not many people I could train with which is why I travelled a lot and lived in different places to be able to get good competition and improve my game. Tennis has gotten a lot bigger in Canada though because we’ve had so many rising stars and I think for the next generation of players it’s definitely going to be a bit easier to find good competition and coaches.

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Traded for an mlb all-star

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Jake Sommers, who played for the Milwaukee baseball team from 2016 to 2019, was part of a blockbuster trade in Major League Baseball this offseason when he was sent from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Colorado Rockies as part of the deal for MLB All-Star Nolan Arenado. “I got a call from the Cardinals minor league coordinator and he basically just said, ‘Hey, we’ve got some news, you’ve been traded to the Colorado Rockies’. It is just part of the game and they wished me the best,” Sommers said. “I was very surprised because I had so many people telling me, ‘Wow, you were part of the Nolan Arenado trade’. It was crazy.” Sommers appeared in 73 games in his Panther career, recording 14 saves to rank fifth in program history. In all, he struck out 128 batters in 132.0 innings of work. “I am very excited to get to work with the Rockies,” Sommers said. “It seems they really care about their players and have a great culture so I feel lucky to be where I am at.” He capped his MKE career with a brilliant senior campaign in 2019, earning Horizon League Second-Team honors after going 2-2 with 10 saves and a 3.60 earned run average. He was even better in Horizon League action, posting a 1.29 ERA and five saves. Opposing batters hit just .170 against him in conference play, recording 18 K’s in 14.0 innings of work. He made a career-high 23 appearances overall, becoming just the fourth MKE reliever to notch 10-or-more saves, leading the Horizon League with his career-best total of 10. During the season, he also became the second MKE pitcher in 15 years to save two games on the same day against Jackson State Feb. 24. Following the season, he was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 10th round of the 2019 Major League Baseball Draft. Sommers started 10 contests for the Johnson City Cardinals in the Appalachian League during the 2019 season, posting a 2-2 record in 12 games, making 10 starts. He struck out 55 batters in 51.2 innings on the mound. The Roar Report staff caught up with Sommers recently for a short Q&A session:

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You were drafted by the Cardinals in 2019. Was playing baseball always the dream you had growing up as a kid? Yes, ever since I could pick up a ball I wanted to play a sport at the highest level. It didn’t matter if it was football, basketball, or baseball. As I got closer to college, I started to realize I had an opportunity in baseball. What are your top few memories of your time as a Panther? I made a lot of friendships that will last a lifetime with teammates and coaches. I’ll never forget the bus rides filled with cards and video game tournaments. We had a great year my senior year too, which was awesome because I came in with a big freshmen class and it was cool to see us develop into a dangerous team. Looking back at draft day ... what are the 2-3 things you remember most? I am embarrassed to say I missed a few phone calls the start of that day because I didn’t have my phone on me and Coach Doffek was calling/ texting me asking what the heck I was doing. It all worked out in the end and it was a surreal moment. I had a lot of family come over after and celebrate which was really special. You spent a successful 2019 season with Johnson City. What do you remember from your first appearance? I was itching to get out there and just compete. I think I was fortunate enough to pick up the win in my first appearance and I remember a lot of friends and families texting me after congratulating me. What were the most important lessons you learned from your first year of pro baseball? I learned a lot about my pitches and what works against hitters. Baseball is pretty data-driven now and it is interesting to see all your numbers like spin efficiency, vertical/horizontal break, and whiff percentage.

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// SOMMERS: TRADED FOR AN MLB ALL-STAR Tell us about how your situation for what was supposed to be the 2020 season ... how it evolved and changed. I went down to Florida looking forward to my first full season and ended up getting sent home about five days later. It was definitely a curveball as it was for everyone else but it is what it is. I took the time off to figure some things out with my mechanics and become a better athlete so I’m looking forward to 2021 now. What is the plan for the 2021 season? I like where I am at going into 2021. My delivery feels smooth and clean and the ball is coming out easier and harder than it ever has. The plan is to just stay healthy and go out every outing and really compete. ***

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The Slow Trek Back To Normal On The Diamond Now over a year removed from the arrival of COVID-19, the Milwaukee baseball team is back on the field for the 2021 season. A year ago, there was no sense of normalcy, with the spring seasons across the Milwaukee Athletic Department going from “suspended” to “cancelled” very quickly.

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Suddenly, it was. The NBA shut down and the NCAA Basketball Tournament followed suit and the dominos fell quickly, forcing the Panthers to cancel all spring sports. The group of seniors on the roster at the time included Joe Vyskocil, Mike Ferri, George Swedie, and Matt Vanek. When all was said and done and the semester had run its course, options for returning for another were going to be a possibility. Vanek was set to graduate and had a job all lined up, so he did choose that route. The other three went through the process and all decided to come back and play for the Panthers in 2021. “When our first series was cancelled, I thought it would only be temporary but as the situation got worse, I realized our season was over,” said Vyskocil.

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or the four seniors on the 2020 baseball roster, life moved in slow motion for a short time. At first there was so much confusion as to what was going on and what everything meant. For the large majority of us, the “coronavirus” had always just been a thing in the news and not something people living in the United States were seriously concerned about that.

The MKE events staff was preparing for the first home series against Youngstown State, starting to set up the press box and video operations for the March 20 opener when the major news broke. Suddenly, everyone was told to go home. “I originally thought that it was little strange when I found out that Ohio was going into a state of emergency right before we left to go to Wright State,” Swedie said.


// BASEBALL: BACK TO NORMAL ON THE DIAMOND

“But when I found out that the NBA canceled their season, that was when it really set in that a shutdown was going to happen.” “Looking back to last year I didn’t really start to worry until our first conference weekend got cancelled due to COVID,” Ferri said. “Once that happened, in the back of my mind, I knew that it meant the rest of the season was lost.” The momentum of the situation started picking up steam quickly. Schools were shutting down within days, with teachers having to adjust overnight to “distance learning” that would

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“The cancelled season turned out to be a blessing in disguise academically...” - Joe Vyskocil

eventually become the norm. “I did not expect things to escalate so fast and I was initially surprised that the season got shut down,” Vyskocil said. “I then was disappointed that I would no longer be able to compete with my teammates. However, the worst part of it all was preparing for a season that would be cancelled with no foreseeable future plans to

reschedule it. Back then, I was thinking that it was my final season as a baseball player, and to have that taken away in a matter of a week was the hardest to come to terms with.” “My first reaction to the situation was just anger and frustration,” Ferri said. “We put in so many hours of work getting ready to compete together and then just had it stripped away.” On March 10, the UWM campus found out it was moving online for the remainder of the semester. Green Bay’s campus made the decision the next day. UW-Madison was not


student-athletes whose seasons were canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic an extra year of eligibility. It was great news to know the option existed … but now the next difficult choice had to be made for each of the student-athletes.

far behind, announcing suspension of all in-person classes on March 23. President Trump declared a National Emergency and a national lockdown quickly followed. The “new normal” had started. “I was initially shocked and in disbelief of what was going on,” Swedie said. “I couldn’t believe that we were about to enter a shutdown and go through a pandemic. With the shutdown about to happen, I did think that my playing career was officially over and started to slowly think of the future outside of baseball.” The “old way” of life

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changed forever. For everyone. The days moved on slowly, with more important things to think about than sports. Health and safety became a top priority for all. But, after some time, thinking did return to the field. What would happen to the season? What would happen to the players? Was every senior in the same boat? Did they just have their careers end without even realizing it? The NCAA Division I Council took matters into its own hands, announcing at the end of March 2020 that it would allow D-I spring-sport

“My decision ultimately came down to academics, as I knew I wanted to play baseball but did not know if I had more to pursue at UWM academically,” Vyskocil said. “The cancelled season turned out to be a blessing in disguise academically because I was able to study for the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) and get another year to complete my Master’s in biomedical engineering. If it were not for the cancelled season and the ability for me to boost up my application, it would have been extremely difficult to get an acceptance into medical school.” “After everything had been cancelled, there had been talks about regaining eligibility and I was following the NCAA pretty carefully to see what options were out there and if I could come back for another year or not,” Ferri said. “My decision to come back was a pretty


// BASEBALL: BACK TO NORMAL ON THE DIAMOND easy one. I’m fortunate enough to keep playing the game I love and earn an MBA at the same time.” “I found out about the extra season option through the coaching staff,” Swedie said. “They were the ones who originally asked if I was willing to come back if the extra year was granted and officially telling me of the opportunity. My original thought about deciding was based off of schooling. I wanted to find a program that would help boost my resume with the extra year I was given. The baseball side of it never changed. I wanted to come back no matter and finish off my baseball career on a better note and not have it end due to COVID.” Days quickly turned into months and lives adjusted as spring inched along. The shutdown continued and, as the summer came and went, the question of fall sports soon became a question. The baseball team participates in a standard fall season. Would they be able to play that? Fall Panther sports teams returned to campus and slowly fell to the same fate of cancelled seasons of their own. However, teams were allowed to practice, but

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“My decision to come back was a pretty easy one. I’m fortunate enough to keep playing the game I love and earn an MBA at the same time.” - Mike Ferri

“I wanted to find a program that would help boost my resume with the extra year I was given. The baseball side of it never changed. I wanted to come back no matter and finish off my baseball career on a better note and not have it end due to COVID.” - Geroge Swedie had to follow strict COVID protocols. A light at the end of the tunnel. The Panthers were going to be able to get back on the field together again. “The one thing that has changed for me is the new perspective I have on the whole situation,” Swedie said. “I’m truly grateful for the opportunity to come back and play the sport I love in the midst of a pandemic. With that came all the new protocols and rules to keep us safe, while allowing us to play. So many more variables that are out of our control now, then before. So, having the new perspective of moving


Vyskocil and Swedie were quick to agree with Ferri on that point. “The main goal for 2021 is the same as any other year,” Swedie reiterated. “To win the conference tournament then win the College World Series.” The team has been through a lot, but what will always be remembered is that they did it together. Even if the 2020 season did not go the way it was planned, it leaves a memory that was built as a team.

forward and having a positive mindset and not allowing outside factors to affect me was the major change.” “I really don’t feel that returning to play in 2021 changed much for me,” Ferri said. “I feel as if it has given me a great opportunity to expand on my education and continue to play this awesome game. On the field this year, our goals remain the same as always. We want to win the conference tournament and then go find a way to keep winning more games after that.”

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“The 2020 season shed light on the fragility of my time playing baseball,” Vyskocil said. “With this newfound perspective, I cherish any and every moment I have with my teammates, coaches, and trainers.” ***


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It was a big week for Meg Swietlik of the Milwaukee women’s cross country team in early March. Not only did she help the Panthers to the Horizon League Championship March 4 by winning the individual title in a time of 21:33.3 – a full 25 seconds ahead of the next runner – but she also claimed a spot in the NCAA Championship meet.

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// SWIETLIK: AN UNPRECEDENTED FEET

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Champion

“I was so excited about the NCAA,” Swietlik said. “We got notified before the league championships that each winner was going to get an autobid, so I kind of knew beforehand. But they didn’t officially announce it until the Sunday after and you always have to wait until the official announcement to celebrate.” She officially earned her spot when the field was announced by the NCAA March 7, becoming the first Milwaukee female and just the second Panther (joining Chad Zehms in 1995) to compete at NCAA Cross Country Nationals in the program’s Division-I history. “It was a great feeling,” Swietlik said. “It wasn’t on my mind to make the national meet until last fall when I was one spot away at our regional meet and it has been both my coach and my goal to make the national meet. It was unreal.” Swietlik’s path to the moment was a bit unusual for such a high-class runner. This was happening to someone who didn’t get serious about a running career until well into high school.

Meg Swietlik 2021 Horizon Leage Champion

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Meanwhile, her progress over the course of her college career has been incredible – from 23rd at the Horizon League meet as a freshman, topped with a

dominant first-place showing as a senior. “Sophomore year of high school, one of my friends got me to go on some winter runs with her in between my swim seasons,” Swietlik said of her beginnings in the sport. “And I had a lot of fun. We got a group of girls together during the winter and we would run together after school. They got me to join track and I had a lot of fun with that and made a lot of friends. Then I ended up doing cross country the fall of my junior year. I liked that better than track, so I decided to keep going with the running.” Not bad for someone who had only dabbled in the sport. “The furthest I had run prior to that was maybe a 5-K fun run with the family,” she joked. Her natural athletic ability took over. A varsity swimmer her first two years of high school, she changed course to running and good things followed. Swietlik qualified for state in cross country right away as a junior, finishing 107th overall. One year later, she again qualified for state and finished 30 seconds faster and jumped almost 25 spots in her finishing position. “I didn’t really plan on running after high school until my high school coach told me he


// SWIETLIK: AN UNPRECEDENTED FEET

And running in general, it may sound cliché, but it makes me feel alive. It makes me feel more powerful, like I complete an 8-mile workout and think, ‘wow, I did that’. It’s pretty cool.

thought I had a lot of potential to run in college,” Swietlik said. “I was looking at staying local for my undergrad and he said he knew the coach at UWM. He got me in touch with Pete Corfeld at the time and on my overnight an indoor meet was going on. I liked how the team was so close and supportive of each other. “I really liked that atmosphere and fell in love with the team at the time.” She made huge strides in her time as a Panther. Building off that 23rd-place showing as a freshman, she jumped to 18th as a sophomore to do her part in helping Milwaukee claim the team championship. A big step came next, placing third in a breakout junior campaign

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which earned her First-Team All-Horizon League honors. That led to her being named all-region – only the fourth Panther in program history to do so – with her 24th-place finish the third-best finish of any Panther at a regional meet. Not only that, but she also broke the school record with a time of 20:57.6 at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional in November. She capped her college career with the individual title in 2021, completing the trek that any student-athlete dreams about. So the big question needs to be asked … how did she do it? “We went through a coaching change when Pete

(Corfeld) retired and Jake Reilly started coaching the runners heading into my junior year,” Swietlik said.

“He really focuses on each athlete and individualizes the workouts to their strengths. His workouts really clicked with me. He figured out once of my strengths is pacing and we worked on that. I think that was a huge change for me to get better each of the past few years.” The final step was the key to the Panthers claiming the Horizon League Championship again this season. Everything went smoothly for her as she claimed top honors at the Horizon League meet that day in Carmel, Ind., at IUPUI’s Northview Church Course.


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// SWIETLIK: AN UNPRECEDENTED FEET

“It was a great feeling,” Swietlik said. “It didn’t really sink in until hours after. It was pretty cool to hold my spot through the finish. All of the work that we put in as a team and what the coaches had done, went through my mind. It all paid off.” Although an injury prevented her from finishing the race at the NCAA meet in Stillwater, Okla., the opportunity to compete will never be forgotten. “The support around it was amazing,” Swietlik said about the NCAA’s. “My parents came down to watch and even though I didn’t finish, everyone was so supportive. My team, even though they were here and I was there, I could feel their love and support.” For something that she only fell in love with around six or seven years ago, Swietlik certainly enjoys every aspect of it. “I love being part of the team,” she said. “I don’t think I would run if it wasn’t for the team. And running in general, it may sound cliché, but it makes me feel alive. It makes me feel more powerful, like I complete an 8-mile workout and think, ‘wow, I did that’. It’s pretty cool.” And what will come next for the Horizon League champ? Only time will tell, but running seems to be set to play a role. “One day in COVID quarantine, I just decided to go 16 miles because I was feeling it,” she said. “It was right after one of our races got cancelled and just wanted to burn off some steam so I went 16. So, I would love to run a marathon someday.” One of the ultimate individual running challenges of 26.2 miles. And anyone involved with the Panther program knows she will have what it takes. ***

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Looking Back on the Life of Jimmy Banks

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T

he Milwaukee soccer community lost a huge part of its family nearly two years ago, when Jimmy Banks passed away after battling cancer at the age of 54. Banks had a long history in the sport of soccer and was deeply connected to the city of Milwaukee, including his two years as a studentathlete playing for the Panthers. It all started for Banks with a storied playing career that included All-American status in 1981 at Custer High School here in town, followed by time with the Panthers in his collegiate playing days, and later on as a member of the United States National Team. Banks became the firstever Wisconsin high school player to receive All-America status and then was twotime All-WISL selection and All-Mideast selection at Milwaukee, where his career with the Panthers spanned the 1985 and 1986 seasons. Banks’ time with Milwaukee was honored at the highest level when he was inducted into the Bud K. Haidet Athletics Hall of Fame in the Class of 1999. “His legacy is a very long one,” Dan Harris said. “To watch a young kid who I first

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met when he was 14 years old go on to become one of the world’s most-known players is truly amazing. And he was one of the first African-American players to do that – I, along with others, have referred to him as the ‘Jackie Robinson of soccer’. His legacy in Milwaukee, he is one of three or four players in Wisconsin history to have played at the World-Cup level. That is an amazing legacy to think that I even know this guy is quite substantial.” Harris knew Banks quite well. Harris, also a member of the Milwaukee Hall of Fame (Class of 2006) and the Wisconsin Soccer Hall of Fame, served as the men’s soccer coach at Milwaukee from 1973 to 1983. An associate athletic director in his time at MKE, Harris compiled a record of 109-70-15 in his time leading the Panthers, making the first NCAA Tournament appearances for the school in 1979 and 1980. Harris was credited with the development of the “Milwaukee Cup” and was involved with recruiting Banks as a high-school athlete. Most people share a similar take on what Banks meant to the Milwaukee soccer community, including Rob

Harrington, the current men’s soccer coach at Milwaukee School of Engineering, who worked as an assistant under Banks from 2011 to 2018. “Jimmy was the first player from our state to play in the World Cup,” Harrington said. “He was one of the first two African Americans to play on the United States National Team. Now, imagine how many other barriers he broke as an African-American kid from the Westlawn Housing Projects on Milwaukee’s North Side to reach the highest level of soccer our country offers?” Harrington originally met Banks when both were working for the Milwaukee Kickers Soccer Club in the mid-1990’s. As Harrington says, he’d known who he was for years because he was “The Jimmy Banks” – the guy everyone wanted to see play when they were younger. They met at earlymorning pick-up games at MKSC, which grew to soccertennis games and lunches. They stayed friends from that point on. “Jimmy didn’t do drama, he just ended up doing better than the rest of us,” Harrington said. “Jimmy, to every kid in Wisconsin who played soccer growing up, is one of the greats, he’s


// LOOKING BACK ON THE LIFE OF JIMMY BANKS on the Mount Rushmore of Wisconsin Soccer. “Jimmy is a pioneer from his neighborhood, playing a sport many didn’t. Jimmy was a community leader, mentor, and teacher.” Harris can vividly recall the first time he ever met Banks. “Jimmy was about 14 the first time I met him,” Harris said. “In the offseason, UWM scrimmaged some of the club teams and Jimmy was playing for, I believe, the Milwaukee Kickers or Bavarians. And before the game, Jerry Panek, the coach comes to me and says ‘Hey, I am going to play this kid. Take a look at him and see what you think’. And out trots this 14-year old kid, Jimmy Banks, playing on the left wing and he gets the ball. And he can take on some of our DI-college players and I knew this kid had a future. From that point on, I got to know Jimmy and started to get him involved in thinking about playing in college.” Banks eventually ended up starting his collegiate career at Wisconsin-Parkside, earning National Soccer Coaches Association of America NAIA All-American honors with the Rangers in 1983.

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Harris, still the coach of the Panthers, ended up seeing Banks in action when the teams played each other.

“And he was one of the first AfricanAmerican players to do that – I, along with others, have referred to him as the ‘Jackie Robinson of soccer’.”

“I recall we played UWParkside in Madison at Camp Randall,” Harris said. “I remember talking to him before the game. He was a freshman there and I was asking him how he liked it. The guy was so polite and so sportsmanlike – he wished me and our team well. He was a standout player and we had a difficult time with him.” Banks brought his talents to Engelmann Stadium next. He started all 19 games in 1985, finishing with 25 points on nine goals and seven assists. A team captain as a senior, he added 13 points (4G/5A) his final season, appearing in 16 games.

-Dan HarrisDan Harris HOF Class of ‘06 Men’s Soccer Head Coach 1973-1983


After college, Banks played his way up and was a member of the United States National Team, making 36 appearances for the squad overall. He played in the 1987 Pan American Games as well as the 1987 World University Games. The highlight of his international career was making two starts at the 1990 World Cup as a defender, the first time the U.S. had qualified in 40 years. He started the final two games in the tournament, both one-goal defeats, after the USA had dropped the opener to Czechoslovakia. “We were always in touch with each other after Jimmy was done playing at Milwaukee,” Harris said. “I didn’t always see him all the time, but I knew what was going on with him. He played in the Pan American games and that was in Indianapolis. I went down there and watched him play and saw that he could play at that level. Then to see him in the World Cup on television. Incredible.” Professionally, Banks was the No. 1 selection in 1987 of both the Major Indoor Soccer League, by the Kansas City Comets, and the National Professional Soccer League, by the Milwaukee Wave. He chose to stay at

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BANKS’ RESUME • • • • • • • • •

Wisconsin High School All-America NSCAA NAIA All-American (‘83) 2x All-WISL Selection Milwaukee Hall of Fame - Class of 1999 Memeber of the United States National Team 1987 Pan American Games 1987 World University Games 1990 World Cup No. 1 selection in 1987 by the Kansas City Comets (Major Indoor Soccer League) • No. 1 selection in 1987 by the Milwaukee Wave (National Professional Soccer League) • 1992 All-Star (National Professional Soccer League) • Inducted to National Professional Soccer Hall of Fame - Class of 2013 home with the Wave, starring for the franchise from 1987 to 1993 before injuries brought on retirement. He was an all-star in 1992, finishing with 31 goals in 136 career games. Banks was inducted into the franchise Hall of Fame in 2013. “When he came back from the World Cup, he and I talked and came up with a deal that would involve him as a partner in our camps,” Harris said. “We changed the name to ‘Dan Harris-Jimmy Banks World Cup Soccer Camp’ and we were in that business from 1977 to 1999. And Jimmy was with us from 1991 on and we became very, very close at that time.” Harris moved on to a new role as Director of Athletics

at MSOE, taking the job in 1995. Banks was working with the Milwaukee Kickers when Harris made a decision that brought them back together, again. “I asked him if he would consider taking over the MSOE program where I was the AD,” Harris said. “We talked about it for a while and he said he would. It turned out that it would be a great position for him and for me.” That position started in 1999 and led to a near-20 year run for Banks with the Raiders, compiling over 200 victories while serving as a role model for hundreds of young student-athletes. He was named conference coach of the year four times, building


// LOOKING BACK ON THE LIFE OF JIMMY BANKS the program while reaching the NCAA Division III Tournament in 2014 and 2015.

Rob Harrington MSOE Head Men’s Soccer Coch Former Assistant Coach to Banks

“Jimmy, to every kid in Wisconsin who played soccer growing up, is one of the greats, he’s on the Mount Rushmore of Wisconsin Soccer.” - Rob Harrington -

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“Jimmy built that program,” Harrington said. “In fact, my involvement with the program was random. The team trained at 7 a.m. and my wife worked across the street from where MSOE practiced. After walking with my wife to her work, I’d stop by Jimmy’s practice. I started helping because I was there and eventually he officially hired me. I stuck around because we were friends and it was fun. It was Jimmy’s Program – he built the culture and environment, I was just along for the ride.” While he was the coach at MSOE, his neighborhood and the community he grew up in always remained closest to his heart. He did it through his work with the LaVarnway Boys & Girls Club and as a co-founder of the Simba Lions, a club which started in 1996 that has been revived in recent years by Demitrius White, a friend of Banks and former player for the club. “Jimmy started that program way back when he came back from the World Cup,” Harris said. “Jimmy thought it was a great idea to do in Milwaukee, so he applied for

for a grant and got some great support among leaders in the African-American community. He is the one who started the Simbas, a youth soccer program primarily for minorities that had a high level of play and coaching. When the kids saw the role model that was Jimmy Banks, they wanted to become soccer players.” Banks meant a lot everywhere he went in the world of soccer. The fact that he stayed close to home and did it all in Milwaukee is not lost on anyone that knew him personally. “There was no drama, Jimmy didn’t do drama,” Harrington said. “He was a compassionate and honest person and his presence was comforting for players. He didn’t say much, so when he did it carried weight. He was an observer who watched and assessed and then picked great lineups. He always knew how to get the pieces to fit together.” Jimmy Banks left a legacy that will live on for years to come, and the Milwaukee Athletic Department remains Athletic Department remains proud to have played a small role in his soccer development. ***


// DONOR PROFILE

Steve

SCHOOF

Long time fan and supporter of our Milwaukee Panthers!

How did you get involved in supporting Milwaukee Athletics? As a lifelong college basketball fan, I first recall turning an eye towards Milwaukee Athletics during the 1992-1993 men’s basketball season as UWM finished 22-4 and clearly was the best D-I men’s basketball team in Wisconsin. My interest grew even more from 1996-2000, as I attended UWM as an undergraduate and became friends with many athletes and personally witnessed the success of multiple men and women’s programs including baseball, soccer, volleyball, track and field, and even club sports, such as rugby. Why is the support and backing of Milwaukee Athletics important to you? Simply, supporting Milwaukee Athletics is important to me as I think it is critical to raise awareness of the world-class athletes that compete for UWM. Milwaukee Athletics has continued to prove year-in and year-out that in its totality, it is an athletic program that demands the respect of fans locally, regionally, and nationally. In addition, athletics creates good health habits, competitiveness, drive, discipline - and teaches teamwork, individual responsibility, determination, and how to accomplish goal-orientated tasks. These habits and learnings not only manifest themselves within studentathletes, but across university campuses through athletics. What do you hope to accomplish with your support, gifts? I hope my support and gifts provide our student-athletes the opportunity to continue chasing their dreams and ultimately to grow as an athlete - but, most importantly as a person. Secondarily, if my support can help raise awareness of UWM as an institution, that is also important to me as my experience and education at UWM has positioned me for success throughout my life thus far. Were you involved in athletics as a student in college or high school? Yes, sports have been a part my life since I was able to walk and attend school. As sports used to be so seasonal within Wisconsin, I competed in many sports throughout school including - basketball, baseball, football, tennis, swimming, and track and field. While my dream of playing college basketball did not come to fruition, I am proud to say my team won one intramural basketball championship while at UWM! What is your most memorable Milwaukee Athletics game or experience as a fan…so far? To date, my most memorable Milwaukee Athletics experience occurred in 1999. My college roommate was on the UWM baseball team and they made the NCAA tournament. In an unlucky draw, the team got the #1 ranked team in the tournament, Rice University, as their first regional game. In what could be the largest upset in Milwaukee Athletics history, UWM baseball played their best game of the season and defeated Rice 8-4 in their first tournament game. With that being said, I’m looking forward to many more memorable experiences going forward! #PantherProud

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By Gary D’Amato


// CERA SISTERS: SISTERHOOD ON THE HARDWOOD

Angie Cera Freshman

...I saw how hard she w how much orked and time she p ut into it a reflects of nd it f of me on how hard I work.

O

ff the basketball court, sisters Bre and Angie Cera spend much of their precious free time together. They enjoy excursions to the dog park with Bre’s Australian Shepherd, make sure they’re parked in front of the TV on Monday nights for “The Bachelor” and look forward to grabbing dinner and just hanging out. They’re close, if not in age, then in temperament and personality. Once they put on their Milwaukee practice

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be sketball and a b n e e tw e So, b d for m hat I wante to pursue w com e sense to d a m f o d in k

jerseys, though, all bets are off. Bre, a 5-foot-10 redshirt senior starting guard, and Angie, a 5-11 freshman guard who comes off the bench, often match up in practice. That’s when sisterly sparks fly.

“Oh, absolutely, there is trash talking,” Bre says with a laugh. “That was strongly encouraged, even when we were growing up. Sometimes, I’ll just be like, ‘No way you’re hitting that shot,’ and usually she still hits it in my face. That kind of sucks, but I’ll


Bre Cera Senior

eing able my life, it me here.

give it to her.” Says Panthers coach Kyle Rechlicz, “There’s definitely a rivalry between them, but there’s also a lot of love. It’s fun to watch. It gives the staff some giggles from time to time.”

(15-5). The Panthers lost just one nonconference game, to Bowling Green, and finished the regular season 18-6. They went into the conference tournament seeded No. 2 and finished the year at 20-8 overall following a trip to the WNIT.

The Cera sisters, products of Mukwonago High School, helped Milwaukee to a share of the regular-season Horizon League title with a program-record 15 conference victories

Bre started every game, averaging 5.9 points and 3.0 rebounds and ranking third on the team in both assists and steals. She shot 35.1% from the field and 81.6% from the

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// CERA SISTERS: SISTERHOOD ON THE HARDWOOD free-throw line. Angie averaged fewer than 10 minutes off the bench and her small sample size (15for-59 from the floor, 12-for 44 on threepointers) didn’t accurately reflect her ability as an outside shooter. In fact, the sisters are markedly different types of players on the offensive end. “Bre can get to the rim and she’s got the strength of a post player to be able to finish and has this ultimate physicality to her around the basket,” Rechlicz says. “Whereas Angie has this really pure shot from the perimeter. Pull-up jump shooter, three-point shooter. So they really complement each other in that sense.” It’s on the defensive end where it’s apparent the sisters come from the same gene pool. Both are tenacious defenders, with Bre always assigned to cover the opposing team’s best guard. “They’re both unbelievable defenders,” Rechlicz says. “It’s interesting to see alldefensive teams – it always goes to players who have steals numbers or blocks numbers. But Bre is constantly challenged to guard the best guard on the other team. And her sister is very capable of doing the same thing. She just hasn’t had to do it as much this year because we’ve had Bre on the court.” The Ceras grew up in a sports-centric household, with supportive parents who’d been star athletes themselves. Their father, Tony, played football at Carroll University and later coached his daughters in basketball. Their mother, Heather, ran track at the University of Wisconsin before

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graduating from Milwaukee. “Our dad has been a really big part of Angie’s and my life with basketball,” Bre says. “I kind of started getting competitive with basketball in the fifth grade. He would take me shooting and he would have me going through extra workouts. When Angie got older, he did that with her, too. He spent almost all of his off time away from work just kind of working with us and making us better. Our mom is definitely more the cheerleader for us. They’re both great role models.” Bre was a highly decorated prep player at Mukwonago HS, where she led the Indians to three state tournament appearances and became the program’s leading scorer in February of her junior season, surpassing 1,000 career points that year. As a senior, she was a finalist for Miss Wisconsin Basketball and a McDonald’s All-American nominee. ESPN rated her the No. 11 guard in the country.

Angie, younger than Bre by four years, had a lot to live up to and managed just fine. She was a three-time team defensive player of the year at Mukwonago and was first-team all-state as a senior. She also surpassed 1,000 career points. “I definitely looked up to Bre my entire life,” Angie says. “She was a role model and I felt like she did everything right, so I’m like, ‘I’ve gotta be like Bre.’ But as far as basketball, I saw how hard she worked and how much time she put into it and it reflects off of me on how hard I work. “I just look up to her in many ways. In high school she got all those awards and 1,000 points and stuff. I always wanted to get there, so there was a little bit of pressure but it was more like motivation and goals that I wanted to strive to get. I think that really helped me get to all my accomplishments.” Bre was highly recruited and committed to

“It’s amazing. I love it. I never would have thought it could happen because we’re four years apart, but it’s great getting to play with her.” -Angie Cera

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// CERA SISTERS: SISTERHOOD ON THE HARDWOOD to the University of Iowa. She started 18 games as a true freshman and helped the Hawkeyes reach the quarterfinals of the WNIT. But she decided to transfer to Milwaukee after that one season, drawn to the university because of its outstanding nursing school, her desire to be closer to home and her comfort level with Rechlicz. “Coach ‘Rechs’ actually recruited me when I was in eighth grade, so I have known her for a while,” Bre says. “I wanted to go somewhere where I could do nursing as well as play basketball. I also wanted to be closer to home because it’s hard to go through that redshirt year and be away from your family when you can’t travel with the team. I just trusted coach ‘Rechs.’ I knew she was someone who focused on player development and that’s what I was looking for in a coach. “So, between basketball and being able to pursue what I wanted for my life, it kind of made sense to come here.” Shortly after Bre announced she was transferring to Milwaukee, Angie – who was being recruited by Rechlicz and was leaning toward UWM, anyway – decided to make it official: the Cera sisters, who had never played on the same team because of their four-year age difference, would spend one memorable season together as college teammates. Bre’s redshirt year made it possible.

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“It’s amazing. I love it,” Angie says. “I never would have thought it could happen because we’re four years apart, but it’s great getting to play with her. And seeing her every day at practice has been amazing. I’m definitely going to miss her next year, but I know she has to move on into her nursing career and everything that’s ahead of her.” Because Angie’s time on the court has been limited, the sisters haven’t often been in the game at the same time. But when it happens, usually when the Panthers have a big lead, it’s special. “There’s times when we got up in games that I purposefully made sure that those two got some time together,” Rechlicz says, “because they have a very special chemistry in how they play with each other.” In the regular-season finale, a 72-53 victory over UIC, the sisters checked into the game together. “That was fun,” Angie says. “We both hit pull-ups at the end of the game. My dad was super happy that we both scored back-toback. I think that was the first time that ever happened.” Bre’s time with the program is coming to a close and it will be Angie’s turn to step up. “I think Angie has the confidence and the ability to step in and fill those shoes very quickly,” Rechlicz says. “I wish Bre could stay more years and I could have them together for more time. They’re both unbelievable people. They’re a joy to have in the program.” ***

Gary D’Amato, a three-time National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association sportswriter of the year in Wisconsin, joined the Milwaukee Panthers as a feature writer for the Roar Report in September 2018.

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A Well-Deserved Thank You For Dr. Swenson

What was your background coming into the relationship with the Panthers? My professional background as an Orthopaedic Surgeon includes fellowship training in the subspecialty of Sports Medicine. During my surgical training and continuing throughout my career, I have been involved in the care and coverage of athletic teams at the club, high school, collegiate and professional levels. What year did you officially become involved with the Panthers?

Dr. Todd Swenson served as orthopaedic consultant for Milwaukee Athletics and team physician for the Milwaukee men’s basketball program from 2001 through the fall of 2020. He began practicing orthopaedic surgery in 1995 and specializes in sports medicine as well as arthroscopic and reconstructive surgery of the knee and shoulder. The relationship was part of a larger one between Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin (OHOW) and the Milwaukee Athletics Department, a corporate partnership that dates back to 2011. The staff of the “Roar Report” caught up with Dr. Swenson recently to allow for an opportunity honor and recognize his time with the Panthers, as well as participate in this Q&A session.

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I began my involvement with Milwaukee Athletics in the year 2001. Dr. William Smith was one of my partners at the Blount Orthopaedic Clinic at that time and he had a longstanding involvement with Panther athletics. Through his introduction and assistance, I began providing team physician game coverage for men’s basketball, in addition to evaluating injured studentathletes at the athletic training room in the Klotsche Center. How did that relationship develop? Following Dr. Smith’s retirement, I continued in my role as the head team physician for Milwaukee men’s basketball while also serving as an Orthopaedic consultant for the athletic department. This latter responsibility included injury evaluation and coordination of musculoskeletal care for our studentathletes through the assistance of the department’s athletic training staff.


Did you work with specific teams or with the student-athletes in general? When needed, I was also able to provide sporting event coverage outside of men’s basketball. During the many years of my involvement within the athletic department, my responsibilities were carried out in conjunction with Dr. Don Middleton, who remains active in his role as head team physician for women’s basketball as well as men’s and women’s soccer. I continued my involvement with Milwaukee Panther athletics until the 2020 fall semester when I chose to step aside.” Were you a fan of the Panthers prior to starting in the role? At heart, I am an avid and engaged sports fan. I grew up in Madison and completed both my undergraduate studies as well as medical school education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. That said, I am a Badger fan at heart but closely follow all athletics in our wonderful state.” That being the case, how did that area of things develop? I watched the very successful coaching career of Bo Ryan during his many years at UW-Platteville and, when he took the coaching job here at Milwaukee, I began to follow Panther basketball much more closely. When I soon thereafter became involved professionally here at the university, I was given the opportunity to meet many wonderful individuals … student-athletes, athletic trainers, coaches and administrators

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alike. That made being a fan of Panther athletics natural and allowed me to form many lasting friendships, something for which I am extremely grateful.” What are your top memories of your time with the Panthers? Without trying to sound cliché, I truly have a multitude of fond and lasting memories from my time spent working with Panther Athletics. If I had to list two of the most special, I would go back to the 2002-03 and 2004-05 basketball seasons. Both of those teams won their Horizon League Conference Tournament under the coaching of Bruce Pearl and punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament. The electricity in the gym and locker room during each of those seasons, the first at the Klotsche Center and the second at the U.S. Cellular Arena (now known as UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena) was something to behold … and something not easily forgotten. The run to the Sweet 16 by the 2004-05 squad captured the heart of many in our city, state and our nation as is often the case when ‘underdogs’ exceed expectations during the magic of March Madness. Being around those young men and the coaching staff during all of those wonderful and eventual heartbreaking moments blessed me with a multitude of awesome and lasting memories. I was able to get to know many of the players on those rosters extremely well. More than a few of them have remained in the Milwaukee area and I have had the good fortune of seeing them around our city not infrequently, whether at a game, at a restaurant or elsewhere in the community. Having those lasting friendships is special, something that makes those early years truly unique.


#UNITEDWEROAR

Profile for Milwaukee Panthers

Roar Report: Spring 2020-21  

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