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September 30, 1999 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-09-30

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 30, 1999

The Daily Grind=
Underwood

soccer prepares for an Indiana invasion-

pops bubble Camaraderie key to undefeated season for Wolverines

L . Qvy cmtly 1m1ifnham

as nation
turns Ihead
stadium shuts its doors after
88 years. A football team
shuts down one of the nation's
top rushers, staying undefeated and
keeping its national title hopes alive.
A baseball team
dashes the hopes Josh
of its fans with Kleinbaum
a late-season
collapse of
Titanic propor-
tions.
In the midst
of all this,
something has
slipped through
the sports world APoLyPSE
much too quiet- Now
ly.
Dimitrius Underwood attempted
suicide.
The former Michigan State defen-
sive end took a kitchen knife to his
throat and slashed. He now lies in a
Lansing hospital, about as far as you
can get from Miami, where he
should be practicing football with
the Dolphins.
We live in a bubble that is known
as the sports world. We watch people
win and lose, we create memories
that will last forever, we cheer and
we boo people we've never met
before. We give our hearts for a
team, a school, a city. But we do it
all within the comfort of the bubble.
Occasionally, the bubble pops. It
did on Sunday.
Underwood is 22 years old. Just
five months ago, he was a college
student. Drafted by the Minnesota
Vikings, he opted for religion over
football. The Vikings released him,
the Dolphins picked up his rights
and Jimmy Johnson convinced the
young man to give football another
shot.
He, now lies in a Lansing hospital.
His former coach at Michigan
State, Nick Saban, said he's always
been a strange one. There have
always been problems with
Underwood, Saban said.
But we didn't see it. Not in the
comfort of the bubble. Instead, we
worried about what he could do to
get to the quarterback quicker, what
he could do to stop the run, when his
ankle would get healthy again so he
could play again. But did anyone
really care about him?
There have been signs that some-
thing was wrong over the past few
months. He entered the NFL draft
after his junior year at Michigan
State, then, when drafted, said he
wasn't going to play football. Why
enter the draft at all? People laughed
at him. No one took him seriously.
He said it was for religion, and his
mother has called his church,
Immanuel's Temple Community
Church in Lansing, a cult.
He now lies in a Lansing hospital,
and no one really knows why.
He was arrested this past weekend
for refusing to pay child support. At
some point after the arrest, he went
to the house of his ex-girlfriend and
daughter. The next time he was seen,
he was wandering down the street,
seven blocks in all, blood rushing
from his throat.
Did football drive Underwood to
this? Doubtful, but it probably con-
tributed.
Football, like any sport, is a game,
and sometimes we lose sight of that.
It's supposed to be fun - for both

the fans and the players.
When athletes lose sight of this,
the bubble pops, sending a jolt
through the sports world.
Latrell Sprewell chokes his coach.
Pop!
Roberto Alomar spits on an
umpire.
Pop!
Tonya Harding, jealous of Nancy
Kerrigan, has someone take out her
rival's knee.
Pop, pop, pop!
So what can we do? How can we
prevent the bubble from popping?
Should there be a bubble at all?
The bubble is a result of hero wor-
ship. An athlete can do something
that we can't. They can run faster,
throw harder or hit farther than we
can. They can move with the grace
of a ballerina, and they can crush
with the force of a Mack truck. We,
as sports fans, live vicariously
through them. Somewhere along the
way, we start considering them role
mrol-

my Emily mitcnen.
For the Daily
Debbie Belkin's belief in com-
raderie might just be the reason
Michigan's soccer team is undefeated
in the Big Ten this season.
With Purdue and Indiana scheduled
for this weekend, their camaraderie
might help them improve their, 3-0-1
Big Ten record.
In an interview on 1310 AM's "Say
Soccer" talk show, the Michigan
coach cited comaraderie as "one of the
most important factors in a team."
"If a team supports each other, they're
going to play for each other," Belkin
said.
Her passion obviously rubs off.
"Debbie really brings out the
Michigan pride in her athletes," said
senior forward Marie Spaccarotella.
Her teammate, Kacy Beitel agrees.
"This is the best team I have ever
played for," the junior said. "We all get
along so well on and off the the soccer
field. We work for each other, we push
each other, and we encourage each
other. Debbie pushes us fitness-wise.
Her goal is to get us comfortable with
each other. She's done a great job."
Belkin played defense for
Massachusetts from 1985-87. While
playing for the U.S. national team
from 1986-1991, Belkin moved up the

field to the midfielder position as well
as forward. During grad school,
Belkin founded the first womens' soc-
cer program at New Hampshire.
With the widespread growth of
women's soccer, she soon came to
Michigan and founded its program in
1994.
In 1997, Belkin was named Great
Lakes Region coach of the year.
Michigan's record that season stood
strong at 18-4-1, 10-1-1 in the confer-
ence.
Last year, the Wolverines ended
their season fifth in the Big Ten falling
just short of tomorrow's opponent,
Indiana.
"We consider Indiana a dangerous
team and a good team," said Belkin.
The Wolverines have a optimistic
history against the Hoosiers. The
Hoosiers have only beaten Michigan
once in five tries. Despite the pressure
of two Big Ten games this weekend,
the Wolverines seem confident.
"We're looking forward to scoring a
lot of goals and coming out with two
victories," said Beitel.
Belkin said: "Early on, we had a
couple of losses, but now we are in a
groove. We are playing well and are
confident."
The Wolverines have 16 out of 26
returning players this season. Their

seniority and experience on the ficid
should give them an edge against the
recently formed Boilermakers (1-3
Big Ten, 7-4 overall). Naturally, the
Wolverines are not overlooking them.
"Soccer is a crazy game and any-
thing can happen and there's a lot of
great teams out there," Belkin said on
the talk show.
The Wolverines let their guard
down for eight minutes against
Arizona State on Sept. 10. They were
scored on twice and never recovered,
losing 3-1.
"We are not going to let that happen
again," Belkin said.
Michigan is also looking forward to
getting back two of its key players that
have been out of play due to injuries.
Senior forward Amber Berendowsky,
a 1997 All-American, is back practic-
ing in full strength and is expected to
appear this weekend. Senior defender
Stephanie MeArdle was recently
cleared to practice and is awaiting
clearance to play in Sunday's game
against Purdue.
With nine games behind them, the
Wolverines have gained excitement,
strength and experience.
"We keep on building, getting
stronger each game," Spaccarotella
said. "And we still haven't hit our
plateau yet."

MICHELLE SWELNIS/Daily
Kacy Beitel and the rest of the Michigan soccer team look to stay undefeated in
the Big Ten as they face Purdue and Indiana this weekend.

9f

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