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March 23, 2001 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2001-03-23

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Daily forum
Is something about Michigan's hockey team bothering you?
Are you disappointed by your favorite team's coverage?
Just plain bored?
Sp yelling from the sidelines. Speak your mind at
mnchigandaily.com/forum. We'll see you there.
nmchiganday.com/sports

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FRIDAY
MARCH 23, 2001

10

'Carpe diem!'
Lakers up for 'M'

Softball's
eyes on

0

Daily Sports Editor

Just 20 miles off the banks of Lake
Eie, a small, private school of 2,800 stu-
dents was in a whirlwind of excitement
and anticipation.
Ede city officials such as the mayor
and the county executive joined the party.
Fireworks blared as the whole town
attempted to squeeze into the 1,500-seat
hockey arena on Wednesday to bid
farewell and goodhluck to its heroes -
the Mercyhurst Lakers, this year's Cin-
derella team of the NCAA tournament.
"It reminds me of the movie
'Hoosiers,' Mercyhurst President Dr.
William Garvey said. "Some great kids,
the right coach, and when you get that,
anything can happen."
Much like the scrappy, just-got-to-
believe basketball team in
"Hoosiers," the Lakers are as
unknown as they are unlikely -
which makes them dangerous.
Even more so is their motto: "Carpe
diem - seize the day."
And Mercyhurst has its best chance to
do just that, on the biggest stage it's ever
been a part of - the Division I NCAA
Tournament against a legendary Michi-
gan program that is engulfed in tradition.
While Michigan holds the record for
consecutive NCAA Tournament appear-
ances with 11 and national titles with
nine, Mercyhurst is still an infant pro-
gram, already a tournament team in only
it's second year of Division I competition.
"If you want to become a giant, you
first have to compete with them,"Garvey
said.
But this week, Mercyhurst coach Rick
Gotkin got to know what it feels like to be,
big-time - fielding his fair share of con-
ference calls, interviews and pep rallies.
"The phone doesn't stop ringing,"

Gotkin said.
But it hasn't gotten to Gotkin, as he
knows what he's been through to get here.
"I haven't forgotten who I am or
where I came from," said Gotkin, who is
the first college hockey coach to take a
team from Divisions I, II, and III to the
NCAA Tournament.
Now, although he's a coach on the
Division I level, his role hasn't changed.
"The budgets haven't taken quantum
leaps," Gotkin said. "I mean, I did the
laundry this morning"
Not having a manager or secretary,
Gotkin and his assistants do everything
from the laundry, to picking up stray
pucks, to organizing team flights and
road trips. It's nothing new from the
growing pains the program felt when
Gotkin first started 13 years ago.
Gotkin fondly remembers holding
practice at 5 a.m. at a public rink for the
first four years of the program's existence
because Mercyhurst didn't have a home
rink. The Lakers had to make eight-plus
hour bus trips to every road game because
of their remote location compared to
other teams in their division.
It wasn't until this past year that the
school decided to pay for the Lakers to
fly to their required destinations, show-
ing Mercyhurst's commitment to both
the hockey program and the student-ath-
letes. Instead of having to miss Thursday
and Friday classes, the players can leave
later on a plane and not have to deal with
the struggles of make-up work.
This will make it easier on the Lakers
when they travel to Grand Rapids for
their NCAA regional game against the
Wolverines this weekend.
But the thought of competing with
Michigan never crossed Mercyhurst's
mind until three years ago when Garvey
had to make a decision - which sport
was he going to give Division I status?

tenth wm
By David Roth
Daily Sports Writer
If by chance you know anything
about the Michigan softball tear'
opponents this weekend, you're on
step ahead of coach Carol Hutchins.
But the Wolverines' opponents in
the Boilermaker Invitational in West
Lafayette, Toledo, Butler and Loyola
shouldn't feel special. It's just that
Hutchins feels that winning comes
from within her own team, not scru-
tinizing the weaknesses of the com-
petition.
"I don't focus much on the othe
teams," Hutchins said. "I haven't
scouted them. I'm all about us. We
do what we do and try to-do it well.
'We can't control anything else. We
can't control anyone else."
It might be a good thing that the
Wolverines won't know much about
Toledo when they step on the field
tomorrow at 11 a.m. The Rockets,
who won only 11 total games last
year, are one shy of that mark thi
year with a 10-5 record. Toledo h
won six straight. Its caliber of com-
petition is nothing to brag about,
but the Rockets are light years
ahead of a team that lost 26 games
last year.
Butler, which Michigan will
match up against tomorrow for the
second billing of the doubleheader
at 3 p.m., has also been red-hot,
winning 10 of their last 12 for a 19
5 overall record.
Michigan, who started the season
No. 11 in the preseason poll, has thus
far had a solid season disguised in a 9-
9 record. Six of Michigan's losses have
come against top-15 teams.
"The last thing I want my team to
do is worry about the record,"
Hutchins said. "We played a very
difficult schedule and had some
very tough losses. I don't thin
we're going to get concerned wii
the 9-9, we're going to get con-
cerned about (win) number 10."
Plenty of luck is involved in a
game like softball, and Hutchins
feels that so far she's almost always
See SOFTBALL, Page 1I1

DANNY MOLOSHOK/Daily
The status of Michigan senior Josh Langfeld, who's been battling an injured right knee, is still up in the air for tomorrow.

"We could only supply one varsity
team at the time," Garvey said. "Erie had
a huge hockey following and there were
no college teams in the area and we're
right across the lake from Canada - 20
miles away. It was natural for us to con-
centrate on hockey. We wanted to make
a significant impact in hockey."
Little did Garvey know how quick the
impact would occur, as the program is a
few years removed from nearly being
knocked down to Division III once again
- as Division II was drying out.
That's when the MAAC conference
decided to expand into the college hock-
ey world, and it didn't take long for the
Lakers to dive in headfirst - winning
the conference crown and tournament
title in just it's second year in the league.
"It's obviously a great lift to our pro-
gram and a great bunch of kids" Gotkin
said. "They work hard on and off the ice
and they do a lot of community service."
Many players have to hold outside
jobs in order to make ends meet, as the
Lakers only hold 10.5 scholarships. And
it costs a pretty penny to attend Mercy-
hurst -$24,000 a year.
But Mercyhurst's bountiful location

just 20 miles from the Ontario border
gives the Lakers an advantage when
recruiting some of the top players from
Canada - if they make the grade.
"The first thing we look for is charac-
ter" Gotkin said. "The big thing is hav-
ing good, solid character. The second
part is academic aspect, and the third
thing is hockey ability.
"Believe it or not, it's third on the list."
The school-first attitude doesn't mean
that the Lakers don't have talent on the
ice, however, as they boast five players
who tallied over 30 points this season -
giving them reason to be optimistic.
When asked for the prediction of Mer-
cyhurst's first-round contest with Michi-

gan, Garvey merely replied, "Well I do
believe in the David and Goliath story."
LANGFELD UPDATE: Michigan senior
Josh Langfeld injured his knee twice in
the past month. He's not at 100-percent
and didn't skate yesterday. Michigan
coach Red Berenson has even consid-
ered sitting him for the first NCAA
game against Mercyhurst tomorrow to
prevent further damage that might hurt
his professional career down the road.
But Langfeld said he's going to play
regardless.
"I have to play," Langfeld said.
"There's no way I can sit in the stands
and watch my team lose. I would love to
do it all over again."

*ATTENTION JUNIOR & SENIOR
HISTORY CONCENTRATORS**
COLLOQUIUM SIGN-UP FOR FALL TERM 2001
IS MONDAY, MARCH 26, 2001-
9:00 A.M TO 1:00 P.M IN 1014 TISCH HALL.

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What: No. 24 Michigan (99) competes in the
Purdue Boilermaker Invitational.
When: 11a.m. vs Toledo, 3 p.m. vs Butler
Latest The Wolverines face several teams
they don't know much about, in Toledo, Butler
and Loyola {III.)

NCAA Championships 9

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