Frey scores game winner; Norse advance

My story from The Northerner, published there on 11/1/16.

The NKU women’s soccer team defeated the Wright State Raiders 1-0 in the quarterfinals of the Horizon League tournament on Monday night at the NKU Soccer Stadium.

The lone NKU goal was scored by junior Jessica Frey, who floated the ball over the keeper in the 57th minute off an assist from Macy Hamblin.

“The ball was underneath of my feet and I knew I didn’t have a good angle at it so I was just trying to shield the other player, and Jess had a perfect strike,” Hamblin said.

The goal was Frey’s eighth on the season, and Hamblin’s assist was her eighth of the year.
“It came from high pressure and working together to create a great opportunity.” Frey said.

The first half of the game was evenly matched seeing neither team find the back of the net, while possession was not controlled heavily by either team. NKU beat Wright State just six days prior to Monday night’s match-up, so Head Coach Bob Sheehan had a feeling the Raiders would change some things for this match-up.

“They changed their shape a little bit, but I think that actually played into our favor at times,” Sheehan said.

The second half was controlled primarily by the Norse, who held the ball in the Wright State territory for the majority of the half. NKU had eight shots in the second half compared to Wright State’s five. The Norse also added three corner kicks in the second period.

With the first round win under their belt, the Norse now shift their focus to Detroit Mercy in the semi-finals of the Horizon League Tournament on Thursday at 4 p.m. in Milwaukee.

“We tied them just a couple weeks ago, hopefully we can get a better result,” Sheehan said.

Hamblin, teammates earn Horizon League honors

Prior to Monday’s game, Hamblin was named the Horizon League Player of the Year and Horizon League Offensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. Hamblin was second in the Horizon League in goals (8) and lead the league in points (23).

“It’s very humbling, but if it weren’t for my teammates, I wouldn’t be here. It’s a huge honor for me.” Hamblin said.

She becomes the first woman in NKU soccer history to win back to back conference player of the year awards.

“Macy is a special player, she’s very gifted, very talented, but she continues to work and continues to get better, that’s the great thing about Macy.” Sheehan said.

Junior Jessica Frey was named to the Horizon League first team for the second consecutive year as well. Frey battled through injury and a slow start to finish the regular season with eight goals, good enough for second in the league, and 19 points.

“It all goes back to my teammates,” Frey said. “Your teammates make you want to be a better player, you want to play for them and it’s really an honor to get that award and know your hard work is paying off.”

Earlier this season, Frey, along with senior Sami Rutowski, were named to the Horizon League All-Academic Team

Senior midfielder Katelyn Newton was named to the Horizon League’s second team, while freshman forward Ally Perkins was named to the league’s All-Freshman team.
Newton had one of her best seasons as a Norse, scoring five goals, while Perkins was second on the team with six assists.

“Katelyn is a big part of our team, she has great passion to play and is committed to our team and our program, and Ally being a freshman, has stepped in and really had a fantastic freshman season.” Sheehan said. “All four of them are really deserving, and I am really proud of all of them.”


NKU women’s soccer fall to Valparaiso, clinch third seed in tournament


My story from The Northerner, published there on 10/29/16.

The NKU women’s soccer team fell to Horizon League foe Valparaiso 2-1 in the regular season finale on Friday night at the NKU Soccer Stadium. NKU’s finished the regular season with a 10-6-1 record.

A Norse win and a Milwaukee loss would have given the Norse the number one seed in the upcoming tournament, and also would have allowed NKU to host the tournament.
Instead, this loss, combined with a Detroit Mercy win, means that NKU falls to the number three seed in the Horizon League tournament.

“I thought we could have attacked the game better tactically in the first half, and the overall competitive nature of the game, we really needed to pick that up.” Coach Bob Sheehan said.

The Crusaders jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first 30 minutes of the game, with both goals coming from sophomore Cory Griffith. Prior to Friday night’s game, the Norse had outscored opponents 21-4 in the first half this season.
NKU women’s Head Coach Bob Sheehan was impressed with Valparaiso’s ability to come out strong in the first half.

“Give credit to Valparaiso, they came in and competed. That was a must-win game for them,” Sheehan said. “They were fighting to earn a tournament berth and they picked up a couple loose balls around the box, and they had quality finishing.”

The Norse got on the board in the 58th minute with a goal from senior midfielder Katelyn Newton, her fifth of the season. She was assisted by junior Macy Hamblin, her seventh of the season.

“I just stepped in front of the ball, it was a product of Macy’s hard work and her tireless effort in not giving up on the ball. I was just in the right spot at the right time.” Newton said.

Sheehan was pleased with the way his team played in the second half, particularly on offense.

“The quality of service was better, and how we were getting the ball in behind. Our tactics were much better in the second half.” Sheehan said.

Despite this, the Norse couldn’t find the back of the net after Newton’s goal. NKU finished the game with four shots on goal, and one corner kick. Valparaiso finished the game with five shots on goal and one corner kick. .

“It was an emotional game, especially with the senior ceremony.” Newton said.

The Norse honored eight seniors with a small ceremony in front of the home fans prior to the start of the game. Seniors Brooke Schocker, Kelly Neumann, Sam Davis, Aubrey Muench, Katelyn Newton, Sami Rutowski, Chrissy Spears and Martha Staab received framed jersey’s presented to them by coach Sheehan.

NKU’s focus now shifts to the Horizon League tournament. Newton says the Norse are ready to make a run.

“Our team has bought into being a championship team, we know we can do this, and we’ve got a championship on our mind.” Newton said.

The Norse will play at home Monday Oct. 31st at 7 p.m. in the first round of the Horizon League tournament.

It wasn’t love at first sight

In less than a week my first full year away at college will be over and I will have only a little bit of time left. There have been so many challenges, so many things I’ve learned, and so much that I have yet to learn. Before writing this, I went back and read my old posts at the beginning of this school year and took into account how much things have changed since I wrote those. I encourage you to scroll down and read them too. Things have changed, but I’d be lying if I told you they changed a lot.

Thankfully, I got away from my old roommate and into a new apartment with some much better people. That single move was the most important one for me this semester at NKU. Until I moved into this room, I didn’t realize how unhappy I was. It’s safe to say that my attitude and overall feeling towards college improved quite a bit since then. I tried to make the most of it by poking fun at it on twitter, but it didn’t help that much.

As time went on, I met a few more people and made a couple of friends. I am thankful for that. I learned a lot about myself and who I am. This is extremely important to me and something that I think everyone learns as they get to this point in their life. I see a lot of my friends on social media and they talk about falling in love with their colleges and how excited they are to be going there and how much they already love attending there. I’d be lying to you if I told you it didn’t make me a little bit jealous, because I didn’t fall in love with NKU right away. In fact, I don’t think I fell in love with it until like three days ago.

I got to experience college in a few different ways this year by staying with friends at Ohio State, Cincinnati, and Ohio Northern. Along with a fun trip to Miami. All those experiences reminded me that my friends have something that I don’t, and I desperately want it. But as time has continued to go on, I have come to realize the two biggest things that NKU has taught me this year: patience is key, and life is what you make it.

My patience was tested more this year than any year of my life, and I have learned so much about being patient and trusting in God to take care of the little things in life. I’ve also learned that calling on Him and trusting His plan takes a great deal of patience and faith as well. Long story short, I have learned that being patient is a key to life. That life goes on and everything will be okay, to be patient through the tough times because God has a plan and he’s going provide.

Life is what you make it. Forever that was just a Hannah Montana song to me. Now, it’s something I try to live by every day. It’s true. Life IS what we make it. If you make it sad and gloomy and you constantly feel sorry for yourself, you’re not going to have a good time. I’ll admit it took me awhile to get past that stage. I struggled with that because I saw all the good times other friends were having in college with these amazing people that they met and have good times with, while I sat here and played 2k for a few hours on a Friday night. I just didn’t have what they had and it bothered me. But the more I thought about it the more I realized that I didn’t necessarily have to have what they had. One thought just kept coming into my head:

Just because we don’t have what everyone else has doesn’t mean we can’t do more than everyone else does.

At the end of the day I want to be great. I want to achieve my dreams and I want the amazing people God has placed in my life to be around me when I do that. The process is long, slow, and never easy. But it is necessary and I think I have done a good job adjusting.

People kept asking me why I chose NKU, and I realized that I never actually had an answer for them. I had a couple reasons, but I didn’t really know. So I would just stumble through an answer and try to make it sound good. But as time went on, I started to appreciate this place more.

I remember being at a baseball game, just watching the people around me, and there was this group of girls, athletes at the university, and they reminded me so much of my friends at home and the way they were enjoying themselves while proudly representing the Norse. It reminded me of my hometown, and how it took me awhile to realize the beauty of it and how cool of a place it was. Sidney, Ohio is awesome because we made it awesome. It was at that baseball game that I realized that Northern Kentucky University can be awesome if I make it awesome.

So it took me almost two full semesters to fall in love with this place. But I did. I am here for a reason. Everything in life happens for a reason and sometimes we don’t understand and that is okay! We don’t have to understand. God has a plan for all of us. We just have to be patient and make the most of everything.

What hurts the most

What hurts the most about the Bengals losing in the first round of the playoffs for the fifth year in a row isn’t the way they did it, or who they lost to, but instead it’s the fact that they gave me hope. After the Bengals lost to the Colts in the first round last season, I told myself I would not have any expectations for this season and that I would just enjoy them the best I could. I came into 2015 with that plan, and I didn’t expect much, I just wanted to watch my favorite team play. And then they ruined everything by starting 8-0. They did what they do so well, give you hope before shattering every ounce of hope they gave you.

When they were 8-0, Andy Dalton was playing out of his mind, and they were unquestionably the best team in football. They made you believe it. They made you think this might actually be the year they do something. Despite how good they played they still had doubters, and all along we knew they would only be judged by their January performance. Now after the playoff debacle, I am back to where I was 12 months ago; I don’t have any expectations for this team going forward. They have 15 free agents, lost their offensive coordinator and almost the entire defensive coaching staff, and will have another difficult schedule.

Now I have this sadness that comes over me when I watch these playoff games, because I know how real this possibility was. I know how these fans feel to be in a loud environment rooting your team on. I know how much this city loves this team and how embarrassing the latest playoff loss was. I miss football so much already, and it’s only the divisional round.

I think back to those August practices in the shadow of Paul Brown Stadium, and that late November chill from inside the Jungle. I think about how happy that made me, and how I have to wait eight months before I can feel that happiness again. That’s what hurts the most.

It’s time for an exorcism. It’s time for redemption.

All season long it’s been the same narrative. When the Bengals were 8-0 and seemed to be one of the best teams in the NFL, there were still those who had doubts. Deep down inside, all of us did. All of us who identify as Bengals fans had this feeling deep down telling us it was too good to be true. Whenever the national media brought up the Bengals success, they all said the same thing. What are they going to do in January? The team always said the same things, saying they had to earn their way to the playoffs, and it wasn’t until they clinched a playoff berth that they started talking about it.

Andy Dalton played out of his mind the entire season and was an MVP candidate. He had officially arrived and the Bengals were rolling. They beat division rival Pittsburgh at their place and were poised to take control of the AFC. They played the Steelers again and Dalton was hurt on the first offensive possession of the game, Tyler Eifert was injured on the same drive, and the two most important pieces to the Bengals offense were gone. The Bengals lost 33-20. The two teams combined for $150,000 worth of fines.

The Steelers offense was rolling and they were playing their best football of the season, and with a little help, snuck into the playoffs. Stumbling after Dalton went down, the Bengals finished with the third seed in the AFC setting up the rematch that nobody wanted. Nobody that’s a fan, that is. The players wanted another shot at each other. These two teams hate each other, and there’s no place more fitting for them to meet again than in the Wild Card round.

On January 8, 2006 the Bengals and Steelers met in the Wild Card round under similar circumstances. The Bengals were hosting their first playoff game since 1990, and the city was electric. Carson Palmer connected with Chris Henry for 66 yards on the second play of the game. Kimo von Oelhoffen dove at the legs of Palmer and torn two ligaments in his knee, ending his season and the Bengals Super Bowl hopes. That 2005 team was good, but this 2015 team is even better.

10 years and one day later, they meet again. In 2005, it was backup Jon Kitna who couldn’t get the job done. In 2015, it is backup AJ McCarron who steps up to the challenge with the weight of a city on his shoulders. The archrivals. At home. And finally a chance to exercise all the demons. Playoffs. Primetime. Pittsburgh. I’m so tired of losing in the first round. I’m so tired of losing to the Steelers. I’m so tired of the narrative that I have had to hear all season long. What are they going to do in January? Well, it’s January. And it’s time for an exorcism, for redemption.

Who Dey.

NKU’s Harris has unique story

“I don’t want to use my connections to get where I want to go. Granted I’m 41 years old, I still kind of want to do this on my own,” says Shanda Harris, a sports business major at Northern Kentucky University. Harris’ hard work and her supportive family have helped her get through many difficult challenges, and have helped mold her into who she is today. A student turned flight attendant and student again, she has a unique and fascinating story to tell.

Harris first moved to the greater Cincinnati area in 1997 and took a job as a flight attendant with ComAir, an airline that was headquartered out of the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport. “I thought by being a flight attendant that, not only would I be able to see the world, but I would also still be able to be home and see my family,” says Harris.

She was only 23 years old when she started at ComAir, “The plan was to fly until my daughter graduated college, then pursue something else,” Harris said. “That job was stability for her and for myself.” Little did she know, the next 15 years of her life would provide her some of the most memorable, unique, and even terrifying experiences of her life. The most notable of which was September 11, 2001. Harris was beginning a four-day trip, and the plan was for her to be in New York that Tuesday night. It was a normal morning flight from Cincinnati to Charlotte, when things got interesting. The flight she was on had around 30 passengers on board. Harris had just finished her beverage service when she received a call from the flight deck.

“There’s certain signals that they give you when they call, and you never hear the emergency signal. I turn, and I see the emergency button flashing,” Harris said. “So I pick up the phone and they say, “Shanda, we have to land immediately, terroristic threats,” and they hang up.” Prior to 9/11, Harris had only been trained to be aware of bombs. At that time, bomb threats were the most common threat to major airliners. Aside from that, the planes that Harris was on weren’t major airplanes and they didn’t go far. This meant that they were less likely to be a target for a hijacker. “Our biggest concern was getting struck by lightning or engine failure, not someone coming on and hijacking the plane,” said Harris.

On this particular day, the flight wasn’t full and Harris was working by herself. She stressed the importance of remaining calm in this situation: “I can’t panic or anything because that will cause everyone else to panic. I have to be calm during this,” Harris said. The passengers on the plane and Harris herself were not yet aware of the attacks on the World Trade Centers in New York. No one on the plane found out about the attacks until later.

Before long, the flight deck called Harris again. They said, “We need to land immediately. Our choice is Tri-Cities, Tennessee or a cornfield. If we don’t land immediately, we’re going to be shot out of the sky.” The pilot tells Harris to sit down and prepare for an emergency landing. In the background, Harris can hear the other pilot communicating rapidly with Air Traffic Control. The pilots were still unaware of why they needed to land, and now they were being told if they didn’t, they would be shot out of the sky. Harris now has to find a way to tell the passengers what’s happening. She goes on the P.A. system and tells the passengers that there’s a small mechanical issue that requires the plane to land, and be taken care of. “I had to think of something that’s not going to make everyone panic,” she said.

Luckily, the plane landed at an airport in Tri-Cities, Tennessee. Harris was given clearance to open the main door of the plane. Around this time, the ramp agent at the airport approached Harris and the pilots and told them everyone needs to get off the plane. “There’s been a hijacking and a plane has been run into the twin towers,” said the ramp agent. However, there were two men on the plane that Harris couldn’t let leave. “I notice that there are two guys that have military clothes on, like they had just completed training,” said Harris. “They need plain clothes, I don’t care what you give them, they need something. They are targets.” The men were held on the plane and their bags were retrieved, allowing them to change clothes before exiting the plane.

When Harris and the pilots were finally able to exit, they did so without any of their possessions. Everything on the planes had to be checked and searched. “We couldn’t even contact people, couldn’t contact loved ones, family members, anything,” Harris said. While the captain contacted ComAir, Harris snuck away to contact her mother. After letting her family know she was okay, the focus now shifted to what’s next. Buses began taking passengers at the airport to their destinations, as long as the destinations were south. Any passengers who had destinations north of Tennessee were stuck. It remained like this for four days before the skies were open again and they were allowed to leave Tri-Cities. The airport became so full, that it could no longer take in any planes, and they were now being diverted to other airports.

After four days of being stuck in Tri-Cities, the crew was finally given clearance to return to Cincinnati. Unexpectedly for Harris, the plane took on passengers. “I was expecting an empty flight, but no. We took on passengers. So here we are, flying back to Cincinnati, and I don’t trust any of them.” At the time, no one was to be trusted. The country was in panic mode and no one knew what was coming next. “It’s only been four days, anything can happen. That was my thought process,” Harris said. The following months and years for the flight crew were very difficult on Harris and flight attendants all across the country. The government set forth new security standards and it made things a lot tougher on them. Such as going through security, what they could or couldn’t bring on the plane, how they had to pack, being patted down in front of passengers, and much more.

Harris flew for 11 more years with ComAir, until the company closed down in 2012. Now, the 41 year-old Harris is a student at Northern Kentucky University and living in Burlington, Kentucky. Harris is majoring in Sports Business and wants to focus on player relations. She grew up in a family of athletes, and was recruited as a high school freshman to run track at UCLA, Miami, and Tennessee, among others. “The reason why I want to do player relations is because I have had many friends that have played professional sports, so I was around it all the time,” said Harris. “I’ve gotten to see how difficult it was for them to get acclimated to their surroundings.” Being around those friends, Harris has helped them get through it, along with helping herself learn about the process. She quickly found that for a lot of athletes that were young and new to living on their own, they didn’t know how to do the simple things, because it had always been done for them. Harris says it doesn’t matter where she is or who she’s working with, she wants to be able to help athletes at all levels. “I’m not all into the fame and all that stuff. I’ve been there and done that. I’m just concerned with the well being of the athlete. That’s my biggest concern.”

A letter to my Great Grandpa

I was sitting here working on a study guide for an exam tomorrow. Writing definitions and reading pages and highlighting things. The game is on in the background. The NFL, as always, is my escape from reality and my favorite thing in the world. I received a text from my mom earlier today that my great grandpa, a man that we always called “Bear” had been taken to the hospital because he shot himself in the head. It may have been suicide, it may have been an accident. I don’t really know. Just a couple of minutes ago, I received another text from my mom. She said Bear has died. Immediately I could no longer focus on school work. It’s weird how that works. All of the sudden memories come flooding back to you. For some reason, I feel compelled to write him this letter. I don’t know why, but it just feels like the right thing to do. Maybe it’s my way of coping. I don’t know. But here goes.

Dear Grandpa,

One of my favorite quotes says, “They’ll forget what you did. They’ll forget what you said. But they will never forget how you made them feel.” You always found a way to make me feel so loved. I don’t know how to explain it. But you had such a warm presence. It was so comforting, and it made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I am thankful for that.

You were so funny. It seems like every family get together you would get your plate of food, a can of pepsi, and find your spot. Within 20 minutes you were asleep and snoring. It was the funniest thing i’ve ever seen. The thing is, you did this every time and every time, it was still funny. I remember laughing so hard I was crying. The way you snored. The way you would wake yourself up, then fall right back asleep again. You were such a funny man.

You were such a good man. Honestly, I don’t know much about your early life. I wish that I did. I wish I knew more about how you became the man you were. I wish I could hear you tell more stories. I wish I could hear your wisecracks about Grandma and how she hated to be called “Granny,” and every time we called her that you would laugh. I wish I could hear your voice at least one more time. I wish I could feel the way you made me feel at least one more time. You were so interesting. You were so funny. You were so loved.

Thank you for taking such good care of grandma. She’s stubborn, and Lord knows you both went through a lot together. I can only imagine how she’s feeling right now. She loves you more than anything, I hope you know that.

I’m sorry for not being around that much. Especially as I got older. I’m sorry I didn’t spend more time with you guys. It was hard for both of you to get around. I should have visited more. I should have done more. I regret that I didn’t. I hate that you’re gone and I hate to think how things will change for our family without you.

Thank you for everything that you taught me. Thank you for always finding a way to make me feel so loved. Thank you for being a man I could look up to. Thank you for everything. I love you so much.