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March 31, 2016

The Lookout Sisters

The Lookout Sisters

THROWBACK THURSDAY – Before I pack up my computer and podcast equipment, I am going to give a shout out to two former teammates and now college coaches who looked out for me as upper classmen during my freshman year at Northwestern University. Many team environments and cultures by design say you are to extend a hand and keep a regular eye on the rookie. Yet you can tell when the effort is genuine and instinctive by how much your big sisters mean to you at the time, and by how much you enjoy seeing each other over the years. Then you pay it forward.

Jeanine Wasielewski (aka Waz), now an assistant coach at Loyola University, was a strong shooting guard who simply loved the game. Waz and Maya Whitmore let me stay with them during Christmas break when we had to stay on campus and freshmen had nowhere to go. One of the most empathetic moments I had as a freshman was when Waz tore her patella tendon and had to have surgery. I had torn my ACL to end my high school career, and I felt so badly for her. I visited her in the hospital post-op, and we listened to our team play in the second-round of the NCAA tournament against Arkansas. Waz did her best to keep that Indiana smile on her face, but it was a tough way to end her college career.

Jennifer Kroll, head coach at Wellesley, was also a go-to teammate who would not ever quit. The greatest part of my being a redshirt freshman was that you could be a total bad ass out there on the scout team. They should have let us wear a bandana and holster. You were told to be All-American Machelle Joseph or Robin Threat. You were told to just chuck and dominate in the pre-game practices within the rough sets of the opposing team’s offense. Even though I could do neither with any coordination, poise or success, I always had a total supporter and believer in Jenn Kroll. Only five players could play, so Jenn and I would kick up as much dirt as possible. Jenn, who always sported a wily grin when she played, was one of the most cut-throat competitive players not just in-season, but also in the off-season during what were supposed to be recreational pick-up games. It was always just as thrilling to have her on my team as it was to having her hand-check and bump me on every possession.

I stayed in touch with Jenn over the years as she wore several coaching hats. I visited with Waz while I was on a book tour out west, and stayed in her home for a few days. At the time she was crushing the science of computer programming. I think she was writing crazy algorithms for big companies. She mentioned back then how much she missed the game, and it was her goal to circle back.

Mission accomplished. It will be great to catch up with Waz, Jenn and several others this weekend. We can celebrate all that we’ve accomplished and start playing back the memories.