When you ask “Why baseball?” and he proceeds to explain for the next 10 minutes the intricate ways that baseball has shaped both his life and society, it makes sense why Wayne Graham would have wanted to coach baseball for the past 42 years.
When you ask “Why baseball?” and he proceeds to explain for the next 10 minutes the intricate ways that baseball has shaped both his life and society, it makes sense why Wayne Graham would have wanted to coach baseball for the past 42 years.
The Rice University women's swimming team split a win and a loss in Arkansas this weekend, falling to the University of Arkansas on Saturday and defeating the University of Arkansas, Little Rock on Sunday. These meets were Rice's first events since facing Texas A&M University on Dec. 20.The team traveled 13 hours to Fayetteville, Ark., where they faced No. 23 Arkansas. Junior Casey Clark posted the team's only first place score, swimming a time of 1:49.98 in the 200-yard freestyle. A handful of Rice swimmers places second in their events, including junior Erin Flanigan in the 500 free (4:57.70), seniors Chelsea Fong and Karina Wlostowska who tied in the 50 free (24.13) and senior Michelle Gean in the 100 backstroke (57.64).Freshmen Marita Sailor and junior Rachel Moody also earned second-place finishes. Sailor finished second in the 200-yard butterfly (2:07.86) and 400-yard individual medley, and Moody placed second in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:04.31). In addition, the team placed second in the 4-x-100 yard relay and the 200-yard medley relay. The team ended up losing 207-86.Sophomore Cora McKenzie, who swam in the 200-medley relay, said the Owls' showing against the Razorbacks did not reflect the usual caliber of the team's swimming."We've been through some tough training the last few weeks, and in the past, we've been able to push past, this and really perform at meets," McKenzie said. "We did not compete at this high level against Arkansas, however, which is something to work on."However, the tables turned the following day after Rice won nine out of the 10 events against Little Rock. Clark, Flanigan and McKenzie provided great performances, along with senior Kim Steinhouse, who won the 100-yard freestyle and anchored the winning 200 free relay. Sophomores Taylor Armstrong and Shelly Patton also won individual events in the 500 freestyle and 100 breaststroke, respectively. Rice topped Little Rock, 127-56.Clark said the matchup was a good spirit booster before entering the toughest part of their season."Our meet against Little Rock was a rare opportunity for us to mix up some of our events and swim some different things," Clark said. "I think mixing up our events and having some fun was very good for team morale, especially in this stretch before conference."With about one month left to go until the conference meet Feb. 26-Mar. 1, the Rice women's swimming team is 3-3 in dual meets. This weekend, the season continues with the annual quad meet at the University of Houston against Louisiana State University, Tulane University and UH. Last year, the Owls came in second behind LSU, which hosted the meet.Until then, Head Coach Seth Huston said the team is focusing on polishing its performance to prepare for the tail end of the season."We're just trying to gauge where we're trying to fine tune and sharpen the team to be our best," Huston said. "We're in that stage of the season, and that's what we're really working on."
Junior Casey Clark seems like just another Rice student at first glance, but she actually holds three Rice women's swimming records and has represented Rice in the Olympic trials. With her easygoing, friendly demeanor, Clarke does not seem like a high-profile athlete, and yet she helped bring Rice back to the NCAA tournament for the first time in five years. Clark, who started swimming at the age of seven, has been a standout swimmer for Rice since she arrived in 2011. As a freshman, the Spring, Texas native shared the Rookie of the Year Award with fellow freshman Erin Flanigan and broke a 15-year-old Rice record in the 100-yard butterfly. She attended the Olympic trials the summer before her sophomore year after qualifying for both the 200-meter freestyle and 100-meter fly.She has continued to improve throughout her time at Rice and recently broke three Rice records this fall in the 200-yard free (1:45.69), the 100-yard fly (52.85) and the 200-yard fly (1:57.28). Head Coach Seth Huston said Clark's strengths come from both her physical skills and a strong mental game."She has a great feel, great strokes in the free and the fly, and she's really a very efficient swimmer," Huston said. "She's very level-headed. She doesn't get super jacked up or excited when something good happens, and in the same token, when she doesn't perform that well, she just doesn't let it bother her."As a junior who has been successful in the butterfly, freestyle and backstroke, Clark has led the team across the board. But as far as her role in the team dynamic, Clark said she is more of a subdued leader."I'm more of a lead-by-example type of person," Clark said. "I don't necessarily try to force my leadership on people. I'm pretty quiet, and I keep to myself about a lot of stuff, and I just kind of show up and work hard. I hope that other people respect that and do the same."Clark has also led by example outside of the pool. As a civil engineering major, Clark also dedicates a lot of time to her academic career at Rice. She has been on the Conference USA Academic Honor Roll for both of her seasons at Rice so far and balanced a summer internship with swim practice last summer. Her daily summer schedule consisted of swimming from 6-8 a.m., working from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and coming back to swim from 4-5:30 p.m. This summer, she will be working as an intern for BP.Huston said that even though Clark's list of accomplishments has made quite a mark on Rice swimming history, Clark has never let it affect her relationship with the team."She treats everyone with a lot of respect, and she doesn't act like she's better than everybody else," Huston said. "In fact, if you lined her up with the rest of the girls, you wouldn't know that she's better or at a higher level. She's just one of the girls."Another month lies ahead before the conference championships in February, which Rice won last year for the second time in school history. Clark said the team is hoping to defend its championship. After being the only Rice swimmer to qualify for the NCAA tournament last season, Clark said she looks to score at the NCAA tournament."It was really exciting to go [to the NCAAs], but I definitely feel like I would have performed better and probably enjoyed the experience more if my teammates were with me," Clark said.But before that point, Clark and the rest of the Owls will pick up their season against the University of Arkansas this Saturday after a monthlong break.
This weekend, Rice University women's tennis team, which is ranked 22nd in the nation, will kick off its 2014 season. Two years ago, the team began the season 71st in the country, and the Owls climbed to No. 30 by the beginning of last year. With the start of a new season, Head Coach Elizabeth Schmidt said the women's tennis team will continue its pursuit to success."Our main goal remains the same: to improve every day," Schmidt said.The Owls will begin their season at home against Lamar University at 1 p.m. Saturday. Last year, their opening match against Lamar resulted in a 6-1 Rice victory. The team will be led by No. 1 singles player junior Natalie Beazant, who finished last season as the 41st-ranked singles player in the nation. Beazant made it to the quarterfinals of the 2013 NCAA tournament, setting a record for the best performance by a Rice women's tennis player in the NCAA singles tournament. Beazant has also made her stamp this fall after winning the Women's Longhorn Invitational at Austin Nov. 8.Schmidt said she is excited to see the development of Beazant as the season progresses. She said Beazant's first two years have been amazing and believes Beazant will continue to excel in her final two. "Natalie has been extremely solid for our team the past two years, and I expect more of the same," Schmidt said. "She brings a great energy to the court, sets a tone with her attitude and performance, and is the consummate team player."Senior Dominique Harmath has also contributed significantly to the team, qualifying for the NCAA singles tournament last spring.Sophomore Solomiya Zinko performed well at this fall's Cougar Classic tournament at the University of Houston, where she claimed the No. 6 singles title and the No. 2 doubles title with Harmath.Other players to watch will be junior Liat Zimmerman, who played No. 3 singles last year, and freshman Alison Ho. In addition to Ho, freshman Katherine Ip will be joining the squad this year from Hong Kong.While the team only lost two seniors from last year, Rice will be facing other changes with the Conference USA adjustments. The University of North Texas and Florida International University have been added to the conference for the 2013-14 season. While more changes are in store for next year, top competitors Tulane University and the University of Tulsa will remain in the conference for another year.Schmidt said expectations are high, but the Owls are equipped with the talent to deal with the difficult schedule."We are extremely excited about the upcoming season," Schmidt said. "We have a challenging schedule, which is great, as it will push us to our limits every day and help us be the best that we can be."
Two students revived the Rice University women's rugby team this year after its dissolution in 2011. Duncan College senior Courtney Applewhite and Sid Richardson College junior Stella Keck teamed up to get the club sport going again last spring, and the team has since grown to have 14 members and two head coaches.After having been an official club sport for 14 years, the team disbanded in 2011 due to an inability to field enough players. Two years later, though, Applewhite said she was inspired to create a new rugby team."I wanted to put the team back together mainly because I wanted to play," Applewhite said. "I had just retired from a professional BMX racing career and wanted something new and challenging to participate in, and starting up the rugby team seemed like the perfect thing to keep me occupied."Keck, who transferred to Rice last year, had played rugby since her junior year of high school and continued in her freshman year at Occidental College. Since Applewhite did not have any experience with the sport of rugby and Keck was relatively new to the university, Keck said the two teamed up to recruit a new squad and prepared the paperwork to become an official club sport. Keck said the team is still in its growing phase but is continuing to improve."I am the only player on the team who has really played rugby before besides Courtney, who played over the summer, so the team is really young and is definitely in the learning stage," Keck said. "But they're learning very quickly; our future looks good."To prepare for their games, the players practice twice a week and attend 12 Saturday games per year. However, unlike past teams that competed with 15 players, the women's rugby team is competing in matches with seven players. The team is currently a member of the Lone Star Conference, which consists of other universities such as the University of Texas, San Antonio, the University of Texas, Austin and Lamar University. After losing its first two games and winning its last two, the women's rugby team finished its fall season Nov. 23 with a 2-2 record; the team will be continuing its year-long season in January.Keck said she believes the team's record does not reflect its potential. "I think the 2-2 record doesn't really show all the work we've done," Keck said. "The learning curve for rugby is very fast, and the first couple games we lost, we were still learning all of the basics. I think if we were to play the teams we lost to now, it would be a very different score."While this redeveloping club sport is continuing to develop and recruit, the response from current members has been positive. Sid Rich freshman Skye Wang, the team's public relations representative, said having Keck as her Orientation Week advisor and talking to Applewhite convinced her to join the rugby team."At the [activities] fair, I met Courtney, and she talked a little about rugby and how there's a position for everyone," Wang said. "This sounded cool to me because I felt like in other sports you had to learn the positions and then pick one you think you're able to do well. In rugby, it's the other way around. However you like to play, there's probably a position just for you to do."While the women's rugby team is still in the rebuilding process, it has been attracting women across campus who want to try a new sport and experience the camaraderie of a team. Applewhite said she hopes the team will grow enough to play with 15 players in the future."The No. 1 thing that it will take for the team to stay alive is recruiting," Applewhite said. "Rugby is a tough sell for some people, and few are willing to come out and try it without encouragement. We were very lucky to have a lot of freshmen join the squad this year, and I hope the girls will continue that trend and [the team will grow] next year."
The Graduate Student Association and Will Rice College won their quarterfinal matchups with a single score late in the second half of their respective games. As they move onto the semifinals this weekend, GSA will take on Sid Richardson College, and Will Rice will face McMurtry College. Both Sid Rich and McMurtry had a first-round bye, but all four teams are now one win away from making it into the championship game. GSA vs. Brown (6-0) Despite only scoring one touchdown, GSA commanded the field for the majority of the game. GSA managed to reach the red zone twice in the first half, but two Brown defensive stands forced it to a turnover on downs. Towards the middle of the second half, GSA made it to the end zone and put six points on the board. Brown responded with a long drive late in the fourth quarter that carried them all the way to the 3-yard line. However, after a pass on fourth down fell incomplete with little time remaining, GSA secured the first-round victory. GSA quarterback Stacy Pesek said that despite only successfully converting once on offense, the defense gave the team the edge it needed to win. "Our defense was on target all night, and they really won the game for us," Pesek said. "Sid will be the toughest team we've played yet, so we plan to keep our defense sharp." Will Rice vs. Lovett (6-0) Will Rice defeated two-time defending powderpuff champion Lovett College in overtime on Sunday. The first-round game took place Nov. 17 at 3 p.m. and had a similar start to the GSA/Brown matchup earlier in the day. Will Rice was unable to earn a first down for its first few drives, and Lovett maintained possession of the ball for most of the first half. After a delay of game penalty, Lovett was unable to score after reaching the 5-yard line. Another scoreless half brought the game to overtime, and Will Rice was unable to score on its first possession. However, on its second offensive play in overtime, Lovett threw an interception to senior Brittany Carter, who would return the ball over 90 yards for the winning touchdown to move Will Rice to the next round.
GSA vs. Duncan (19-0)The Graduate Student Association trumped Duncan College 19-0 to earn the North Division wild-card spot. GSA quarterback Stacy Prukop consistently drove her team downfield with precise passes, and Duncan was unable to respond. Even though GSA is 4-3 overall going into the playoffs, it is tied for second place with McMurtry College for the largest point differential. Lovett vs. Baker (6-0)Lovett College defeated Baker College last Wednesday, Nov. 6 in a cold and slow-moving South Division matchup. Lovett found the endzone with a quarterback sneak by sophomore Maddie Flores in the second quarter, but both teams failed to score beyond that point. While 2-5 Baker would not have advanced to the playoffs regardless of the game's outcome, Lovett's win put them in a position to clinch the South Division wild-card spot. Sid Rich vs. Hanszen (14-7)Sid Richardson College dashed Hanszen College's hopes for the playoffs after junior Hannah Thompson ran an interception back for a pick six in the last 30 seconds of the game. Despite a scoreless first half, Sid Rich put up the first score in the third quarter. Hanszen responded with a late fourth-quarter touchdown by senior Priyanka Duvvuru. However, the final interception by Thompson ended the game and put Sid Rich in a position to win the South Division. Sid Rich vs. Lovett (13-0)While both teams went into this game with a guaranteed playoff berth, Sid Rich earned a first-round bye with a 13-0 win. After a first drive touchdown for Sid Rich, Lovett continually drove the ball near the end zone only to result in fourth-down turnovers. Sid Rich secured the victory with a third-quarter touchdown after a breakaway run play by Thompson.Sid Rich Head Coach Drew Travis said that even though the team finished with the best record in the league, it has to be sharp heading into postseason play."[Getting the first-round bye] puts a big target on our back; everyone's going to bring their A game against us," Travis said. "But it definitely feels good to be the No. 1 seed." Playoffs PreviewBrown vs. GSABrown College will play GSA this Sunday, Nov. 17 at 11 a.m. Brown defeated GSA 12-6 in their matchup during the regular season, but GSA's starting quarterback was absent. They will need a repeat performance to advance to the second round of playoffs. The winner of this game will face the winner of the North Division, McMurtry College. Lovett vs. WRCLovett and Will Rice College, both 4-3 going into the playoffs, will battle Sunday, Nov. 17 at 3 p.m. for a bid to the semi-finals. Lovett lost to Will Rice in the regular season by one touchdown. The winner will face Sid Rich in the next round.Lovett Head Coach Sal Tijerina said his team has gained confidence throughout the season and will be ready for Will Rice this time around."Going into the playoffs, other teams need to recognize that we're not the same team that faced Will Rice a few weeks ago," Tijerina said. "We've grown. We're motivated, battle-hardened, and we're aching for the chance to reap vengeance on Will Rice."
Ever since he put on a Rice cross country jersey 25 years ago, Head Coach Jon Warren (Jones '88) has been involved in Rice Owls' track and field. After setting university records in both the mile and the 3,000-meter distances during his four-year career, Warren began volunteer coaching at age 23. The imprint Rice has had on Warren has been reciprocated throughout his many years with the men's track and field and cross country programs. According to the Rice Athletics website, under Warren's guidance, the track and field team has won three individual NCAA individual titles, 27 individual conference championships and four team conference championships, and it has finished in the top 25 as a team three times at the NCAA championships. In addition to his successes as a runner and his four Conference Coach of the Year titles, Warren has achieved much beyond the hedges. He has made the Olympic trials in both the steeplechase and the marathon. In 1996, he finished eighth in the U.S. marathon Olympic trials. According to the Rice Athletics website, he is the only American to run a mile in less than 4 minutes and finish a marathon in under 2 hours and 20 minutes in the same year.The Thresher sat down with Warren to talk about his accomplishments at Rice and his career as a coach. Rice Thresher: What are your favorite track moments from your time at Rice?Jon Warren: In 1986, I was second in the 5-kilometer in the Southwestern Conference championship that we hosted, which was huge. Also in 1986, I ran a school record in the 3,000-meter, which is still a school record, and I'm supposed to be coaching people to break that. In 1987, I qualified for the Indoor National meet in the mile. I set the pool record for that, too, but since then, I've had somebody break that, so I'm happy about that. Teamwise, in 1987, our cross country team was 19th in the nation. That was a pretty big moment. RT: How did you feel after running a sub-4:00 mile?JW: That was a lifelong dream, and it was one of those funny things - my dad had bought a bottle of wine for whenever that happened. We opened the wine, and of course the wine was vinegar, [so it] had gone bad. He'd had it for a very long time. I was 29 years old when I broke 4:00; I didn't do it at Rice, so I was a bum for a long time. RT: Why did you decide to coach at Rice?JW: The idea of coaching is an awesome profession. Rice is very different from the vast majority of universities out there in that it's not essentially just about the athletics; it's not just about how much faster can these kids run. We truly do want all students to not only grow as athletes, but also grow as people as well. The people that we get want to be students. They don't come to Rice because they want to be athletes only; they come because they want the rare opportunity to be a true student and not sacrifice anything at all academically and also be able to compete and be the best athlete they possibly can. I love being in that environment. RT: What is your coaching philosophy?JW: In a word, it's individualization. Oftentimes things will overlap with other athletes, but everyone's a little bit different, and whether I need to help them in the weight room or on the track or with their academic schedule, every individual is different. I build toward that as our primary goal. RT: Would you say you've enjoyed running or coaching more?JW: I've had friends that have done both coaching and running, and they'll say it was easier being a runner because they can control it more. My response is that's true, but it doesn't hurt to coach. Running a 10-kilometer or a steeplechase or a cross country or a mile, you're going to experience discomfort. I've experienced a lot of emotions as a coach, but I have never been in pain because of it. So they're very different. I still run now, and I compete a little bit to keep that mindset together. I've very much enjoyed my running career, but the coaching career is awesome as well. And it's one of those great ways that you choose to spend a life where you'll get up in the morning and go do it every day.This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
For many students at Rice University, powderpuff is more than just a game. Every week, women across campus strap on their flags and battle for their respective residential colleges alongside coaches, spectators, water boys, referees and cheerleaders. However in addition to the fun and competition, injuries are taking a toll on players across campus.
Rice University's reputation for unconventional wisdom ranges all the way from the classroom to its Division I athletic program. Joe Karlgaard, the future director of athletics for the Rice Owls, is prepared to utilize his diverse athletic background to not only strive for athletic success, but also integrate himself into the Rice community. President David Leebron announced Karlgaard's hiring for the position Sept. 9, and Karlgaard will assume his role in Houston Oct. 7.In 2004, Karlgaard was hired as an assistant athletic director at Oberlin College, a liberal arts college in Ohio composed of 2,900 undergraduates. A year later, he took over the position of director of athletics and led Oberlin to win the North Coast Athletic Conference All-Sports Trophy four times in six years. According to the Stanford Athletics website, Karlgaard revamped Oberlin's Division III athletics program and then went on to become the senior associate athletics director for development at Stanford University in spring 2011. Stanford won its 19th consecutive National Association of College Directors of Athletics Learfield Sports Directors' Cup last year and continues to be one of the best athletic universities in the country. Karlgaard will be leaving his current position at Stanford Oct. 6 in order to make the move to Rice.Karlgaard said one of the reasons he took the job was because Rice seemed like a good combination of Stanford and Oberlin. "Rice kind of combines many of my favorite elements of both Stanford and Oberlin," Karlgaard said. "It's a place that emphasizes the undergraduate, and it's a small and intimate environment where people know each other really well, which is a lot like Oberlin. But its aspirations are large, and it competes in Division I athletics, and that's more like Stanford."Athletic administration runs in Karlgaard's family. Karlgaard's father, Dick Karlgaard, was twice named the National High School Athletic Director of the Year for his contribution to high school athletics in Bismarck, N.D. Karlgaard ran track and field throughout high school and his undergraduate career at Stanford. Karlgaard has also been an assistant coach for the men's track and field team at Stanford and an assistant coach at the University of Minnesota, where he earned his doctorate in educational policy and development. Karlgaard said that as someone who saw Division I athletics as the most enjoyable part of his college career, he hopes to pass on that tradition. "I love to compete," Karlgaard said. "I love the camaraderie of being on a team. I love to set goals and then work toward them. I love to improve, and I love the notion of constant improvement. It's shaped my character, I think, and I want to provide the best opportunities I can for the people who come after me."Karlgaard said he has formulated a tentative plan for his first 90 days at Rice in order to best assess the opportunities he will provide. Karlgaard said he will focus on networking in his first 30 days. This will include engaging the faculty, meeting student-athletes, and attending events with alumni and Rice athletics supporters. Karlgaard said he has already attended Rice's first home football game Sept. 14 against the University of Kansas, where he conversed with many people from the Rice community and even received the game ball. Karlgaard said that while he has a vision for improving all 16 sports at Rice, most of his goals will be implemented after he integrates himself into the university. "The first 30 days will be meeting people and making those initial assessments," Karlgaard said. "The second 30 days will be sort of focused on formulating a game plan, and the last 30 days is about launching that plan. It will take me some time, and I don't want to make any big mistakes early on, so I need to do a lot more listening than acting in the first month or so." Karlgaard said he does, however, have a focus on improving financial stability. He has dealt with marketing and fundraising in his past positions, which will carry over to his position at Rice. During his time at Oberlin, Karlgaard invested $8 million, most of which was gathered through private gifts, in improvements to the athletic facilities. Karlgaard was also one of the brains behind Stanford's $90 million annual athletics budget and helped the athletic department produce its greatest single-year increase in school fundraising, according to the Stanford Athletics Department. Karlgaard said he hopes to allocate extra funds for the Rice athletic department to improve football facilities, the track and field complex, and any other facilities in need of improvement. "I think from a facility investment standpoint, there are some things we need to do with football," Karlgaard said. "We need to do something with track and soccer and that complex, but football is our largest complex, and there just hasn't been much done to it, so I hope to make an investment there." Karlgaard said he is excited to experience Texas and the culture of Rice University and that he is willing to put a lot of work into making Rice's athletic program the best it can be. "There's never a point where you can say, 'I'm good enough; I don't need to get better," Karlgaard said. "I think that's the way Rice students are motivated in the classroom, I think that's the way alumni are motivated in their professional worlds, and that's the way we want to be motivated in athletics."