Sorry Wildcat of the Week is out so late. We are already halfway through this week and so it feels weird to talk about last week. Exam week makes you push things around (not for NU, though… exam week is next week for them). We will have some thoughts on the Wildcats who made football season so great later on this week and Wildcat of the Quarter will be out in a couple of weeks.
But, better late than never.
So, with the late post, I am going a little unorthodox with the Wildcat of the Week. I am going with Director of Sports and Recreation Jim Phillips.
Yes, ultimately, Phillips’ week ended in disappointment (somewhat) with Northwestern falling to the Capital One Bowl. But very realistically, the Wildcats were going to be the first pick for the Big Ten’s bowl lineup outside the BCS. Think about that for a moment. That seemed impossible at the beginning of the year certainly.
Yet, there Northwestern was Saturday night and Sunday morning following Nebraska’s loss in a golden position for a marquee bowl game against the presumptive Heisman winner. Things outside of Phillips’ control stepped in to prevent it from happening. Northwestern “settled” for the Gator Bowl, a matchup with less luster but an opponent that is perhaps a bit more beatable than Georgia.
No matter the result, Phillips was no doubt working the phones and doing everything he can to represent Northwestern and put the team in the best position. Honestly, we as fans have no idea the amount of work Phillips is probably doing at all times to sell Northwestern.
Jim Phillips was working bowl officials till 2:30 am, then woke up at 7:30 to keep pushing them. #Northwestern
— Chris Emma (@CEmmaFOX) December 2, 2012
It was a busy weekend for Phillips. I doubt he can afford to take a weekend off even though he deserves one.
Consider this award an early thank you for all the work he has done and an early celebration of a great start to the athletic season. Fall sports saw football go 9-3, field hockey gain a top-20 ranking, men’s soccer go to the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament among others. We will have a fuller recap of that in the coming weeks.
Mikela Goldstein, Fencing — Goldstein was one of three fencers to win a gold medal at the Illinois qualifier for the Junior Olympic Fencing Championships last weekend. She was one of six fencers to qualify for the Junior Olympic Fencing Championships. Goldstein was the top finisher in the women’s foil, Haley Hart won the women’s epee and Cara Frank won the sabre competition. Yes, it is quite the start to the fencing season as new fencers appear set to step up for the Cats.
Jeff Budzien, Football – Northwestern has had a shaky history with kicking in the past few years. Not that the kickers like Joel Howells, Amado Villareal or Stefan Demos were bad. There were inconsistent. I am trying to be nice. Fan frustration with special teams and kicking always seemed to be an issue every season. It does not feel that way anymore. Jeff Budzien has calmed our nerves when the team gets into field goal range. Budzien was named the co-Big Ten kicker of the year and the Big Ten’s coaches named him to the All-Big Ten first team. Budzien was 17 for 18 on field goals this year, with his only miss being a 53-yard attempt against Nebraska.
Maggie Lyon, Women’s Basketball – Lyon was named the Big Ten’s freshman of the week last week after averaging 15.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game in two games last week. That included a 16-point effort in a come-from-behind win at Boston College in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. She had four of NU’s nine 3-pointers in the game. Lyon has gotten off to a strong start to her career, scoring in double figures in all seven of the Wildcats games so far this season. She is second on the team in scoring. Pretty solid start to her freshman campaign.