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September 13, 2005 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-09-13

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12 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Field hockey standout's vision spans two countries

By Eileen Hengel
and David Spielman
Daily Sports Writers
"Catch a ship across the sea/Sail that ship
all alone/Never know if I make it home.
Louie, Louie, oh baby/Me gotta go/Aye-
Richard Berry's classic lyrics describe
sophomore forward Lucia Belassi's last two
years. Known as "Louie" to her teammates and
coaches, Belassi traveled close to 8,000 miles
from Uruguay to Ann Arbor to attend classes
and play for the field hockey team.

"I did not have very high expectations before
I came here because I didn't know what I was
getting myself into," Belassi said. "In Uruguay
it is difficult to both study and play sports, so I
was just happy that I would be able to compete
and study at the same time," Belassi said.
Lucia grew up in Uruguay, with Spanish as
her native language and little experience with
anything American. As a freshman, Lucia
struggled with a new language and lifestyle.
"I think last year was very challenging for
her just, as it would be for any of us that went
to a foreign country," first-year coach Nancy
Cox said.

But even though Belassi found it difficult
to translate much of the language that swirled
around her, she had little trouble reading the
game she witnessed on the field.
"How she reads the game and how she plays
the game is at a different perceptual level than
her teammates," Cox said. "She recognizes
before she gets the ball where the next pass
needs to go, and, when she gets the ball, she
recognizes what she needs to do with it based
on where she is on the field."
Instead of adapting her skills to American
field hockey, Belassi utilized her field hock-
ey experience in Uruguay to her advantage.

According to Belassi, field hockey in Uru-
guay relies heavily on the senses as opposed to
American field hockey, which puts the empha-
sis on organized play and mechanics.
"In Uruguay, the game is much more natural,
while the American game is much more tacti-
cal," Belassi said. "Also, the game is just much
faster here."
It took time for Belassi to adjust to the speed
of the game at the college level, but there was
no need for her to adjust her vision.
"She sees 360 degrees of the field," Cox
said. "Her vision is exceptional; she has the
best field vision of all kids we've ever had in

our program."
The expectations for Belassi on the field
include not only her impressive vision but
also her ability to elevate the play of those
around her.
"She has her moments in matches where she
makes a tremendous difference for us because
of her ability over the ball," Cox said. "She is
very good with individual possession skills and
watching the rhythm and flow of a match."
Belassi's coach also praised her demeanor
off the field.
"She is just one of the dearest souls you will
ever have on your team," Cox said.

After year-long learning
curve, Harrier duo excels

By Max Kardon
Daily Sports Writer
You reap what you sow.
The Bible is full of choice words that can be
applied to everyday life, and certainly this powerful
maxim translates smoothly within the Good Book of
athletic training.
Redshirt freshmen Nicole Edwards and Claire Otwell
of the women's cross country team understand the mean-
ing of that phrase.
Cross-country is a sport in which physical and mental
preparation is directly correlated with an athlete's suc-
cess. The limits of a runner's physical and mental capac-
ity are tested in every competition. These boundaries can
only be stretched to their natural limits through months
and years of grueling training.
Although cross country is a team sport, the true com-
petition is a battle within each runner. She competes
against physical and mental fatigue, as well as the clock
that records her best time in any given event. Because the
nature of the sport can be difficult to understand, many
observers may ask why high school runners don't com-
pete on the same level as college runners.
"The coaching is better, which leads to better train-
ing," Edwards explained. "Strategically, I've matured my
approach to a race. When I was in high school, I used to
run too fast from the start, burning myself out before the
race was over. Now I pace myself better and am strong
enough to compete successfully at the college level."
On Sept. 10, Edwards and Otwell reaped the fruits of
their labor at the Great Meadows Invitational, in their
first official races as Michigan cross country runners.
After a full year of collegiate training, they were fully
prepared by coach Mike McGuire when they arrived at
The Plains, Va. The duo placed second and eighth in a
race thoroughly dominated by a spectacular Michigan
squad. Edwards was barely outdone by teammate Alyson
Kohlmeier, who crossed the line 10 seconds earlier with
the best mark in the competition.
Meanwhile; only one non-Michigan runner placed
ahead of Otwell, who rounded out the top eight. The

Wolverines nearly aced the Invitational, two points short
of a perfect score.
The only other Wolverine to make her competi-
tive collegiate debut in the race was sophomore Lisa
Uible. Uible was the 14th runner to cross the tape in
the five-team event, an only slightly less impressive
achievement than that of her fellow newcomers.
According to McGuire, all is going according to plan.
"We redshirt these girls so they can perform as
they did," McGuire explained. "The redshirt year
affords them the luxury to train with extremely
talented people and build strength. This puts our
runners in the best position to perform when their
time comes."
Both Edwards and Otwell take an intense approach
to their training. Evidence of the enormous success
of their efforts can be found in the stat line - both
chopped off a full minute from their all-time best
performance in a five-kilometer event - a spectacu-
lar feat.
Edwards, who hails from Winnepeg, Manitoba, has
shown that her success in Canadian leagues translates to
the American field.
In addition to her Canadian background, Edwards pos-
sesses a heritage of American collegiate racing. Her aunt
Pamela (Klassen) Lawrence holds the Rice University
indoor track records in the mile, 3K and 5K, as well as the
outdoor record in the 5K race.
Otwell hails from south of the border and takes pride in
proving that Americans and Canadians can indeed live in
peace. A Traverse City native, Otwell shares living quarters
with Edwards, as well as a taste for Hamburger Helper.
"Yesterday we switched to Tuna Helper, which was also
delightful," Otwell said.
Despite their divergent origins, the girls have become
fast friends, discovering a shared passion for running and
instant meals.
When asked whether competition ever becomes an
issue in the household, Otwell concedes that Edwards
holds the edge.
"She's faster than me, and I've sort of accepted it,"
Otwell said, showing no hint of resentment.

Freshman Nicole Edwards has used her experience during her redshirt year to run well In the early phase of the cross country season.

Continued from page 10
and a woman from Michigan State orga-
nized and sanctioned the first women's
national collegiate swim meet. Prior/to
this, she formed the Ann Arbor Swim
Club in 1956.
She was more than "tough enough"
during her 40-year fight against her illness,
which she did not succumb to until she
reached 81 years of age. She was "tough
enough" that, in her so-called retirenit,
she continued to coach at Ak-O'Mak.
Even after she could no longer stand pool-
side, as she did at the birth of her career,
she made her best effort to pass her passiol
along to droves of young girls who made
their ways up north each summer.
After my initial encounter with the
pioneer's spunk, I became a rather dis-
tant admirer of her unpolished grace.and
unapologetic style. Rosemary inspired me
to act, not only the next morning, when
I grabbed a boy by his skinny ankle and
gave it a firm tug, but also when I stepped
onto this campus three years ago, and
every time I sit down to help etch a game
or player into the Michigan history books.
Rosemary lived her motto, and because
of her, so did legions of other women
(and men too, for that matter). So whether
you're down about the Notre Dame game,
terrified about the prospect of exam week
or your job opportunities (or lack thereof)
upon graduation, all you have to do is
answer Rosemary's question:
"How tough are you?"
- Kolodgy can be reached
at rnegkolo@umich.edu

Mac Geeks,


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