I received a couple of emails regarding Kelly Amonte Hiller (no hyphen!) recently. It turns out, for the umpteenth time this sports calendar season, yet another entity is having a “contest” to determine a winner. Candidly, I hate these. They are usually veiled ploys by a brand to try and exploit a fan base (“Vote for your Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year” or “We want you to
buy our Nissan feel like you have a vote in the Heisman”). They seem like shallow attempts at an inauthentic social media strategy. However, this award WAS authentic. The National Association of Collegiate Women Administrators (NACWA) is the inner core of collegiate sports peers and insiders. In commemoration of the landmark Title IX decision’s 40th anniversary they have logically decided to try and honor the trailblazers of the sport. They selected 25 finalists, one of which is no-brainer selection Kelly Amonte Hiller, the Northwestern women’s lacrosse head coach, whom Northwestern obviously nominated.
Each entrant has a YouTube video describing the candidate. Our very own “KAH” has her video below. The contest essentially is as simple as she who has the most YouTube views gets $9K for the nominating school. Candidly, this seems pretty smalltime in the way of incentives. However, I was relieved they weren’t giving the entrant with the most votes the win as that would just be downright wrong (Considering $9K pays for about three weeks of a scholarship for a women’s lacrosse player, the incentive lacks quite a bit of teeth). A couple of things provoked me to use today and this contest to write this post.
First, I’ve been “lax” in supporting women’s lacrosse or as it is often abbreviated “WLAX”. The primary reason is knowledge of the sport. I don’t know the rules and intricacies and have made a commitment to not try and be a poser. Sure, I get the very basics, but other than recapping scores and regurgitating box scores on this site to make it convenient one-stop NU shopping, I’m not adding value to the conversation. Recently, PRR, elected Taylor Thornton as the LTP Wildcat Player of the Week. The comments section, which is always enlightening to me, raised some great points. The one that really stuck with me was the need for an LTP contributor who knows the sport of lacrosse and is willing to write about it on LTP. If that last sentence provoked a “hey, that’s me!” then write me a note at email@example.com and the gig is yours. Terrible pay (zero), but great benefits (you’ll be loved by the LTP readership). Indeed, it is clear this is an underserved element of NU sports content you want, so let’s fix it. Considering Memorial Day Weekend has added the knee-jerk mental image of “women’s lacrosse national championship” to your lexicon in addition to “backyard BBQ” now is the time.
Second, I’m simply fascinated by Kelly Amonte Hiller’s leadership. I want to do an entire business leadership program based on NU women’s lacrosse. The equivalent of getting a boot-strapped start-up with minimal funding and taking it to the top of both the Fortune 500 and Top 100 places to Work is the business analogy of what she’s done. And most intriguing to me maintains it year after year. I want to dig below the surface questions and easy we-know-that-answer of getting top talent equates to success. But how do you create drive and ambition to be number one year after year when it has been scientifically proven that mountain climbers die way more on the way down the peak than on the ascent. How has she been able to withstand the loss of her assistant coaching staffs which take the Book of Kelly and then implement it as head coaches at programs around the country and she STILL beats them. She fascinates me. If and when she gives me the time to ask these questions, she’s going to be sorry, because I have about 11,000 follow-up questions for her in what will be the most exhaustive interview she’s ever had! Several of you mentioned that fellow coaches like Fitz and Coach Carmody would be wise to really peel back the onion of her leadership to see if they can improve by learning from Kelly. I agree. However, I think I could learn a ton and so could you. That is what fascinates me about her.
Third, is timing. Legendary Tennessee head women’s basketball coach, Pat Summitt, formally stepped yesterday after 38 seasons and nearly 1100 wins to take on a new fight – Alzheimer’s. There are trailblazers and then there is Pat Summitt, who, I would argue is the single most impactful person since the adoption of Title IX. She helped turn women’s college basketball in to a revenue sport in certain college towns and was a major factor in the rise of television exposure for the sport. She is now hopefully going to take on a more important fight – Alzheimer’s -which I’m certain many of our readers have experienced in the connection to parents or grandparents. I’m fascinated to see what she can do for one of the more soul crushing diseases out there. I’m a huge advocate of the power of sports to impact societal change and my money is on Pat to make a big dent in this area.
Kelly Amonte Hiller’s “trailblazer” quotient is going to go down in the same team photo as Pat Summitt. It is one thing to build an unprecedented dynasty for your school like she has by owning thte lion’s share of Northwestern’s national championships, but it is a whole different stratosphere when you can point to a single program being a major part of the expansion of the sport. Kelly has helped lacrosse continue to keep its stranglehold as the nation’s fastest growing sport and the popping up of high school girls’ lacrosse programs is as common a sight as political signs on front lawns in the Chicagoland area. Six national championships in seven years will help you become that beacon of inspiration that Northwestern and Kelly have become. So, be sure to take three minutes and pay tribute to her accomplishments and show your support for women’s lacrosse. The undefeated and #1 Wildcats host #5 Florida tomorrow at 1pm at Lakeside Field. For more info simply go to www.NUSports.com and check out the sweet home page dedicated to WLAX and this weekend’s important tilt.
Man, hardly a day goes by without some stoking of the seemingly resuscitated rivalry between Illinois and Northwestern. Now that the Illini have beaten NU in back-to-back seasons in football AND a new AD and new head football coach are clearly realizing that we’ve won the Chicago media over, the arrows continue to fly. There was an extremely pathetic post on this that I won’t even give credence to by naming or linking to, but I will direct you to Off Tackle Empire’s piece written by LTP reader “Chadnudj” who had an irreverant take on “Why Illini Can’t Have Nice Things“ that conjured up elements of NU blogging legend BYCTOM. Take a look here and enjoy. At the end of the day in order for the rivalry to really get to the next level, both teams need to be either “good” at the same time, or one of them has to be really good – as in top 15 level. Relevance is key.
In Other News..
- Oregon’s Chip Kelly is questioning the validity of a report that claims half the football team smokes pot (there is an Onion headline waiting to happen here).
- Penn State’s long tail of the Sandusky scandal will continue to go on for years. Seemingly innocuous events, like the payment of $5.5 million from PSU to the Paterno estate all of a sudden start twisting your mind in weird emotions.
- Bo Ryan learned a tough lesson in media relations after getting grilled by Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic yesterday morning regarding his onerous transfer restrcitions for Jared Uthoff. This is a case study in the power of media and public sentiment combining to course correct. Wisconsin laxed its restrictions the same day and now Jared Uthoff will be sending holiday cards to Mike & Mike for years to come.
- SMU hoops is abiding by the old PR adage that “there is no such thing as bad PR” as pundits continue to slam the Mustangs for hiring 71-year-old Hall of Fame carpet bagging hoops head coach Larry Brown.
- And finally, the “how is this not a bigger headline?” tidbit – UCONN has been banned from the 2013 NCAA Tournament (hello, new slot for NU?!!!) due to not meeting the minimum APR standards – the only team to fail to do so. Now, state congress is stepping in and an interesting debate over penalizing those that are current for those that came before is taking shape. Again, the more we support this, the better NU stands to gain.
LTP Purple Ticket Challenge
We are stuck at 23 NEW season tickets on our march to get 200 by the home opener. I’m really looking to blow through that goal and am confident that you’ll continue to lobby friends to get tickets. When you do, share your story with me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll give you a shout out. Who’s got next?
I spoke with Under Armour yesterday and you’ll see a post on that on Monday. Also, Matt Alviti’s father, Jim, will be connecting with us shortly to provide a unique look at the four star QBs selection process. Fire away questions if you want me to ask.