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February 23, 1998 - Image 11

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-02-23

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

oarC
bnngs
.success
o Blue
B ma Subramanian
aiy-Sports Writer
BLOOMINGTON - When a team is
great - not just good but great - ques-
tions start getting asked. People ask,
'What is it about that team?'
The Michigan women's swimming
team can easily be called the Big Ten
m of the past decade. and a half.
elve consecutive Big Ten titles will
car that kind of respect.
While change is inevitable from year
to year, there has been one constant
behind the tradition of Michigan swim-
ming - head coach Jim Richardson.
This year is Richardson's 13th at the
helm. In his first
season, 1985-86,
Swimming the Wolverines
*mmenty finished 5th in the
. --.... --..--- Big Ten and 31st
at the NCAA
Championships. Since then, they haven't
looked back, consistently ranking among
the country's elite.
But what is it about Richardson that
makes him such an impressive coach?
His swimmers seem to know.
"I think he's a great coach," Shannon
Shakespeare said. "He likes to be able to
ild swimmers from where they're at
en they first arrive here to a higher
level."
Besides Michigan, Shakespeare was
recruited by Stanford and Florida -- two
of-the top three teams in the country.
"1 was pretty attracted to Stanford at
first, because they're awesome,"
Shakespeare said. "But when I got there
I:wasn't that impressed with the coach. I
took my recruiting trip to Michigan not
owing much about the program, but
hen I got here I really liked Jim and the
way he ran his program. I felt I fit in
right from the start."
Richardson's coaching appeal isn't
waning, either.
In recruiting freshman Kasey Harris,
Richardson brought in a nationally com-

The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - February 23, 1998 - 1

SHARAT
RAJU
Sharat in the Dark

Harry Caray was a voice

Jor an entire generation

a4

LOUIS BROWN/Daily
Michigan coach Jim Richardson has laid the foundation for the Wolverines' unprecedented success in the Big Ten and nation
over the past 12 years.

petitive swimmer who placed 15th at the
U.S. Olympic trials. For Harris, the
choice was easy.
"I looked at Cal-Berkeley, Southern
Methodist, North Carolina and Florida,"
Harris said. "But I wanted to try some-
thing new and Jim's the coach who I
thought would let me do that. He's easy to
talk to, but he assumes if you're there
then everything is fine. On my recruiting
trip, he was just talking to me and telling
me the truth about the way he ran his pro-
gram and not going out of his way to
recruit me. He was the deciding factor."
Bringing in great swimmers is half the
battle. The ability to keep them swim-
ming and creating a team atmosphere is
what keeps the tradition going.
When you observe Richardson from
the sidelines, it becomes clear that he's
not an in-your-face kind of coach. It's
even fair to say that he seems pretty mel-
low, allowing his swimmers to do the
work, awarding praise and giving sup-

port when necessary. But ultimately, the
swimmer is responsible for her own per-
formance and has the freedom to decide
what her own goals are and what the
team's goals should be. Team members
like his attitude toward the sport and
reward him by performing.
"Here, everyone's so supportive of
what you want to do," senior Talor
Bendel said. "They allow you to do that.
I think that's what makes us different
from other teams around the country."
Perhaps Harris put it best when she
said, "swimming to him is part of your
life, not your life."
Richardson places total confidence in
his athletes, and they respond to that
kind of treatment.
While recruiting, Richardson seeks out
the kind of swimmer that will fit into the
mold he created for his team members.
He searches for someone who is indepen-
dent and driven --and will continue to be
that way. Normally hesitant to talk about

his personal achievements, Richardson
willingly divulges his philosophies.
"I think it is up to us to provide the
opportunity for them to go as far as their
energies and talents will take them,"
Richardson said. "I don't think Michigan
is the place for people who aren't
achievement-oriented."
That philosophy has worked well
throughout the past 13 years. For the
senior class, the NCAA Championships
will be its final competition under
Richardson, and many seniors said the
lessons they learned from their coach are
irreplaceable. Primarily, it was his
emphasis on team unity.
"Finding the athlete that is willing to
do things for themselves and for the
team is what Jim looks for," senior Kim
Johnson said. "I think that, in itself, is
what helps us win. Every year it has been
something different for me. I'm just glad
our team has been able to come together
and win."

N ow that Harry Caray has passed away, people are trying to figure out his age.
I've heard approximately five different ages given for the former voice of the
Chicago Cubs, anywhere from 78 to 84.
But does it really matter? For me, for an entire generation, for an entire legion ;
fans, it doesn't matter. It never mattered. He seemed ageless. I could have swornti-
that as long as he had a microphone in front of him and wore oversized blue-tinted
spectacles, he would never cease to live,
And all the time I have been aware that sports exist, he was as perpetual as the
belief that the Chicago Cubs will win the World Series next year. Or the year after.
On a June day in 1985, the year after the Chicago Cubs surprised everyone and
made it to the National League Championship Series, I went to my first Cubs
game.
A scrawny eight-year old who had just started to love sports, I was giddy at the -
opportunity to watch Ryne Sandberg and the rest of them drive the Cubs to victor.
My dad planned a day off from his busy schedule at the hospital. He took my ,
five-year-old brother and me down into the city. We took a radio so we could listen
to Harry commentate during the game.
Since parking is somewhat of an adventurous experience around Wrigley Field, A
my dad left his car at work and we hopped on the "El" to the Addison Street exit.
I don't remember everything about that day, but my dad has since filled me in on
the particulars, like Guy Hoffman pitched for the Cubs and beat Houston that day,"
for example. But one of the things I do remember of that trip - and of the count-
less future trips to the Northside - was the seventh inning.
Harry came out and sang "Take Me Out To the Ballgame." He sang it poorly. We
all sang it poorly. And now when I think back on it, it was some of the most beauti-
ful singing I've ever done.
Everyone stood up - old and young, drunk and sober, Cubs fans and visiting
fans. In a simple yet miraculous gesture, Harry was able to unite 39,000 people,
day in and day out, almost as if to say, "Life is good."
One of my favorite memories of Harry is from 1989, when I was at Wrigley for
the final home game of the season. The Cubs were in first place and needed to wi)
three more games to clinch the East Division title.
And, not coincidentally, it was "Harry Caray Appreciation Day." He was induct-,
ed into the Baseball Hall of Fame's broadcasters' wing earlier that year. All the fans
received posters with Harry on them.
I remember him saying to the crowd after singing in the seventh inning, "See
you in the World Series!" Usually he says something like, "Let's get some runs!"
But that season, the Cubs had a realistic goal.
In the top of the ninth with two outs and two runners on base, all the fans were
standing, screaming, waving the white-backed Harry posters and demanding a vic-
tory. Relief pitcher Mitch Williams forced the final out and the Cubs soon were on=
their way to a postseason appearance.
Despite Harry's bold proclamation, the Cubs never made it to the World Series.
They didn't make it past the playoffs, just like every year since 1945. The Cubs
haven't been to the playoffs since that trip in 1982.
But does it really matter? Not to Harry, it didn't. It never mattered, because there
was always the next baseball game, the next day, the next year. The next decade.
He always spoke with unbridled passion. Sure, in his later years he seemed to be
losing it a little - he did suffer a stroke in 1991. But his true love of the game was
unquestioned.
He would boldly proclaim over the television airways that baseball hadn't lost
popularity, contrary to what baseball 'experts' said. Then he would point out a father
and a son or daughter in the stands, sharing a hot dog, waving a Cubs pennant.
How could baseball be dead? In front of a man who seemed ageless to an entire
generation was baseball's life, its livelihood - in one of the last strongholds of
'America's pastime.'
Harry was the voice of the common fan - one of his greatest assets. He was a
See RAJU, Page 8B

Minnesota second
to super' Michigan

By Mark Francescutti
Daily Sports Writer
BLOOMINGTON - While
Michigan totally blew the competition
ayMinnesota dominated in several
ents, leading to a second-place perfor-
mance and the Golden Gophers' highest
point total in their history.
: The Gophers also had a record num-
ber of people in the championship
Iinals.
"It's the most points we have ever
s c o r e d
Minnesota coach
Swimming Jean Freeman
y'/otebook said. "We were
thrilled how well
we did here, but
I'm just disappointed that we can't give
Michigan a better run for the money."
Freeman also thinks the Wolverines
be a better team if someone in the Big
Ten could compete with them.
"They're so far ahead, and I don't see
we're closing the gap yet," Freeman
said.
Minnesota's Gretchen Hegener, last
*ar's NCAA Division I champion and
American record holder in the 100-yard
breaststroke, dominated once again,
;winning both the 100 and 200 breast-
stroke finals - two of the few events
that Michigan didn't dominate.
",Michigan is very strong, this team,"
Hegener said. "They have a super team."
The "super team," and those players
:with times good enough to qualify, will
have the NCAA Championships in

March on their calendar.
CAN THEY EVER LOSE?: The 10 other
Big Ten teams must have asked them-
selves that question after watching the
Wolverines pummel the competition in
winning their 12th straight Big Ten
championship.
The crowd of 1000-plus at the
Counsilman Billingsley Aquatics and
Diving Center cheered loudly, but
Michigan got the fewest cheers.
Michigan had only half the fans the
other teams did. The Michigan faithful
cheered and cheered, but might have
gotten tired or lost their voices after
the Wolverines placed third or higher
in all but three of the swimming
events.
Michigan was already undefeated
with the most victories in its history and
won its 12th consecutive Big Ten cham-
pionship without too much trouble.
FRESHMAN FIGHTERS: After the
1997-98 season is over, the Wolverines
will lose 10 seniors. Who will replace
them? At least two Michigan freshmen
can stand up and say, 'We will,' after
their performances at Big Tens.
Jenny Crisman and Missy Sugar each
helped their teams win first place in
relays.
Crisman earned second place in the
100 butterfly, third place in the 50
freestyle and helped her team to a win in
the 200 medley relay.
Sugar earned seventh place in the 200
free and anchored the first-place 800
freestyle relay.

The Wolverines gulped in the air and gulped In theI
weekend at Bloomington.

LOUIS BROWN/Daily
Big Ten championship this

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