May 02, 2014

Denver Names Marrin New Women's Basketball Assistant Coach

University of Denver women’s basketball head coach Kerry Cremeans announced the
hiring of Molly Marrin as one of her newest assistant coaches. Marrin replaces former assistant coach Abby Bartolotta, who stepped down last month.

Marrin joins the Pioneers after serving six seasons as an assistant coach under Jennifer Azzi at the University of San Francisco. Marrin served as the team’s recruiting coordinator since the 2008-09 season. Prior to joining the Dons’, Marrin served as the recruiting coordinator at North Dakota State for the 2007-08 season.

Marrin’s experience as a masterful recruiter was evident during her time with the Bison as she landed some of the top recruits in program history. The Bison's 2008-09 recruiting class included a Nebraska 'Miss Basketball', and an additional player ranked in the top-50 nationally in various publications.

My Championship Experience -- 2014 Men's Tennis Edition

My Championship Experience is a diary blog written by Summit League student-athletes detailing their experiences at each of the 19 Championships. Denver senior Alex Clinkenbeard penned the men's tennis edition. 
Thursday, April 24
This was an exciting year for the University of Denver athletic department as we transitioned from members of the WAC to The Summit League.  The tennis teams were given the opportunity to be the first DU programs to host a Summit League Championship and we were all excited to begin the postseason at home as the No. 1 seeds in both the men’s and women’s draws.  After a strong afternoon practice at the tournament site, we headed home, showered, and left for the pre-tournament awards banquet.  The dinner featured some excellent cheesecake that we enjoyed while striking it big on the league awards: we won the regular season conference title, placed six players on the All-Summit League team (including myself), freshman Diogo Rocha received Newcomer of the Year Award, and sophomore Henry Craig landed the Player of the Year.  While we were honored to receive the accolades, we knew we had to stay focused on performing well over the weekend to secure the automatic NCAA bid.
Friday, April 25
Fortunately, as the No. 1 seeds in the draw, we received a bye and didn’t have to play in the first day of the tournament.  We had another afternoon practice at the tournament site while our potential opponents were battling it out on the court behind us.  Although we had swept regular season conference play, you could already tell the level of energy in the other match was very high. Everyone was going to come out with intense focus, so we knew we had to get ourselves in the groove for tomorrow. It was pretty breezy out, which was a good indicator of how the rest of the weekend’s conditions were supposed to play out, and gave us some good practice dealing with the elements (playing in the wind isn’t particularly fun or easy).  Our practice ended well and we were all very anxious to start competing.  A large, high-spirited team dinner in the dining hall followed by watching some playoff hockey ended an early night.  I was pumped to compete in my last conference tournament as a Pioneer!

Saturday, April 26
The men’s side was fortunate to be given the later match times, so I got to sleep in before driving the team van over to Perkins for our traditional pre-match breakfast.  Finished my omelet and headed over to the site while listening to some warm up music to get me in the zone. IUPUI pulled it out against Western Illinois yesterday and would be our matchup, which gave us some confidence since we took care of business against them the week before.  Our team this year is very young with six freshman (of nine players on the roster) and with the pressure of being the top seed there was some nervousness, as is normal, and I felt some nerves too, since it was potentially my last home match.  These nerves quickly subsided though as the guys played a strong (and close) doubles point to steal a 1-0 lead.  I don’t play doubles so watching was very nerve-wracking, but finding that pivotal first point was huge in setting the tone for the rest of the day as we cruised to a 4-0 victory.  While we were excited to get through to the finals, we were on a mission to seal the deal.  It had been a long day of tennis so we went home, grabbed another team dinner, and called it a day.

Sunday, April 27
Championship Day!  Another glorious late match time allowed us to sleep in and get fully recovered from yesterday.  IPFW won a solid match the day before against SDSU and we knew they would be very excited to play. The weather was rainy and the final would be played indoors.  Excitingly, the women had also advanced to the finals, so we ate a quick team lunch and headed over to the site to watch. They didn’t waste any time and won a solid 4-0 match to secure an auto-bid!  This was great in setting the tone for our match. Like yesterday, there were some butterflies, but getting a win under our belt helped make us more confident.  Despite being held at an alternate site, the pep band and cheerleaders came out to kick off the match, which was absolutely awesome.  We had a nice crowd in attendance and they helped energize our way to winning another tight doubles point to take the 1-0 lead.  We came out strong in singles and grabbed five of six first sets.  Diogo was on an absolute mission at No. 2 singles and gave us a quick second point.  IPFW stepped up their game though, and made it very tight on several courts, including my own, as we split sets.  At No. 3 singles, Alex Gasson pulled out a tight tiebreaker to win the match and put the team up 3-0.  I didn’t know what the scores were on the other side of the facility, where No. 5 and 6 singles were playing, but you could tell they were close along with the match at No. 1.  I had the blessing of being able to clinch the team championship with a win in the third set to give us our second consecutive conference championship!  So excited that we had the opportunity to host and both programs were able to pull out the victories!  Up next, NCAA’s!!

-Alex Clinkenbeard

Don’t forget to check out the next edition of My Championship Experience as it follows the Softball Championship, May 8-10 and throughout the 2013-14 season for coverage at each of The Summit League Championships.

Former NDSU Softball Pitcher to Play Professionally in the Netherlands

North Dakota State University's former Summit League Pitcher of the Year and NFCA all-Midwest Region performer Whitney Johnson will try her hand at professional softball in the Netherlands this summer. Johnson will pitch for Centrals 1 in Utrecht, just outside of Amsterdam. Each team is allowed two American players on the roster.

"I am excited, not only for the opportunity to continue playing, but also for the opportunity to travel overseas," said Johnson, a native of Lake Crystal, Minn., who will leave for the Netherlands on May 20 and return to the United States in mid-August. She is the second NDSU softball player to compete overseas joining former NCAA Division II All-American catcher Shelly Rhein, who played professionally in Italy.

It will be a busy summer for Johnson, who graduates with a bachelor's degree in human development and family science on May 17 in the Fargodome. After completing her diamond tour in the Netherlands, she plans to start pursuit of a master's degree in the Child Life program at the University of La Verne in Southern California in late August. Her future plans include becoming a child life specialist at a children's hospital and perhaps get into coaching.

My Championship Experience -- 2014 Women's Golf Edition

My Championship Experience is a diary blog written by Summit League student-athletes detailing their experiences at each of the 19 Championships.

I would first like to thank The Summit League and Sky Creek Ranch for hosting the Championship and all of their hard work to create on a great tournament.

We left campus for The Summit League Championship bright and early with our sights set on our 11th-straight conference title.  Our day consisted of traveling, practice, and a welcome banquet.  This was our first tournament traveling with the men’s team. I never realized how much food they ate, their stomachs are like bottomless pits!  We grabbed food when we got to the airport, then the men’s team made a stop at In-N-Out Burger before heading to Sky Creek Ranch to get a little practice in.  I think our assistant coach, Erik Billinger, was a little jealous that he missed out on the burgers since there we are without any In-N-Out franchises in Colorado.  The men’s team got lucky and got to travel in style and in first class giving them some much needed extra-leg room.  After arriving in Dallas, we traveled to the course to get a brief, productive practice session in before the nights’ festivities.  Following our practice, The Summit League started off the week with a welcoming banquet.  Everyone looked so fancy and dressed up, a change from our everyday golf clothes and hats was a nice change of pace.

The Associate Commissioner of Administrative Services for The Summit League, Angie Torain, started off with some brief welcoming’s by introducing The Summit League Committee and recognizing each team.  I would like to thank them for all of their time and hard work in putting on this tournament.  After a delicious dinner and dessert, Angie presented the first and second-team All-Leaguers.  Congratulations to all players who made these teams and to my teammates for sweeping the first team all-league honors as well as the Pioneer men’s team. 

Come Sunday we were ready to put are golf clothes back on.  We played a practice round at 1:30 p.m. giving everyone who wanted time to go to Church on Easter.  For me, the late practice round meant a chance to sleep in and catch up on homework.  When we got to the course, it was a beautiful day--80 degrees and sunny.  I know a lot of teams appreciated playing golf in warm temperatures and with sun for most of the round. The weather took a turn near the end of the round, getting cloudy and drizzling.  When the last hole came around, it was pouring! We walked the 18th hole with our umbrellas up and our feet splashing in the puddles.  There was a quick dinner set up for all the teams at the course.  After, we went back to the hotel to get some rest for the first day of competition.

The day started at 6:30 a.m. when the alarm went off.  Izzy [Southard] and I were rooming together and were the first two to tee off for the Pioneers.  We woke up and went through our normal routines. We have it down pat now after being roommates the last four tournaments!  After a breakfast at the hotel, we departed for the course to get the day started. Being in Texas, was a nice change in pace for all of the teams regarding the nice weather.  It was sunny and hot again.   After warming up, I headed to the tee to watch Izzy tee off.  Although none of our parents traveled to the tournament, we did have a few supporters come out and watch.  Beth Kuwata, the Assistant Athletic Director, came down to Keller, Texas, to watch us compete in the first round. After much anticipation, it was finally my turn to get the round started.  I had the usual first-hole butterflies in my stomach and an adrenaline rush.  It ended up being a decent round… not my best, but not my worst.    After finishing my first 18-holes, the team and I cheered on the rest of the Pioneers finishing their round.  At the end of the day, we were leading the tournament and our freshman Mariell [Bruun] finished with a solid round of even-par and was leading the tournament!  To make it a little better the men’s team was also in the lead by three strokes.  After the round, we got more practice in before it started storming again.  We went to a fancy Italian restaurant for dinner before heading back to the hotel to get another good night of rest.

 We have the same tee-times as the first day of the tournament, an even more sunny day
than yesterday, and are in the lead.  I go through the same routine, except today we switched with men’s teams and started on the back nine.  Personally for me, my round was a bit up and down but my teammates played well and we were still in the lead with a nice cushion.  Mariell had played well again and was still in the lead.  Tonje Daffinrud, the senior on our team, also had a solid first two rounds and was only two shots back of the lead.  Our men’s team struggled a little bit today and ended the day eight-strokes back of the leader.

That night, our Associate Athletic Director at DU, Ron Grahame, flew in from Denver to watch the final round.  We went with Ron and the men’s team for a nice meal at Chili’s before heading back to the hotel to catch up on some homework, shared some laughs, then went to bed. 

It was here. The final round.  We were all excited but knew we still had to go out, compete, and get the job done.   We all played well, Tonje shooting one under to take the individual lead and win back-to-back conference titles.  I came back today and ended with steady round of two-under.  Our performances were good enough to win our 11th-straight conference championship.  We broke the record with a 71-stroke margin of victory.  Following our excitement and awards ceremony, we went back out to support the men’s team.  They fought back and three of the five players birdied the 18th hole to win by five-strokes, it was indeed a very clutch performance.  We each brought home the winning trophy and had some proud coaches.  I’m so proud of my team and can’t wait to take on the teams at the NCAA Regionals to try and qualify for Nationals.

Go Pioneers!

-Elyse Smidinger 

Don’t forget to check out the next edition of My Championship Experience as it follows the Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships, April 25-27 and throughout the 2013-14 season for coverage at each of The Summit League Championships.