Sept. 28, 2006
Submitted by Chris Masters, Assistant Sports Information Director
They say you should always avoid stereotyping others. Then again, "they" probably never rode in a car with me. If they did, chances are the concept of the "typical male driver" would probably be reinforced.
Let me preface this by saying that I think I'm a pretty good driver (at least that's what Allstate says when I get my monthly bill in the mail). And when our intrepid director of basketball operations, Stephanie Menio, recently asked me to help drive some of our players to a clinic we gave at the LaPorte YMCA, I didn't think twice. Heck, it's a 45-minute drive west of South Bend, it's pretty much a straight shot on the Indiana Toll Road ... what could go wrong? Oh plenty.
The clinic itself went off without a hitch. We had about 100 young girls (grades K-8) turn out for 90 minutes' worth of specialized instruction from six members of the 2006-07 Notre Dame women's basketball team. Our players thoroughly enjoy working with young people in the community, and with this being our first-ever trip to LaPorte, the turnout was great. A few of the youngsters in attendance even managed to pick up a few floor burns, courtesy of senior guard Breona Gray, who put them an aggressive set of defensive drills.
Late in the session, I was asked to drive our three freshmen in attendance - Ashley Barlow, Danielle Ben-Tsvulun and Melissa Lechlitner - back to campus in order to make it in time for their regular study hall session. No problem ... or at least I thought so. As it turned out, I had simply followed Stephanie's car on the way down to LaPorte, so I didn't pay too much attention to the direction we were going. Of course, I found out soon enough, when one wrong turn on the way out of town left the four of us on the road to Valparaiso. Luckily, I was able to get turned around and stop at a gas station to get directions back to the Toll Road.
(Quick aside: why is it that people always stop at gas stations when they need to get directions? Wouldn't a police station, fire station or even a fast food joint work just as well, if not better? Just a thought ... okay, back to our story.)
Our little side excursion takes a few precious minutes that are really going to put the girls behind the eight-ball to get back in time for study hall (and consequently, put me in hot water with our academic counselor, Adam Sargent, not to mention our coaching staff if the players are late). But now that we're headed in the right direction, it's just a matter of getting on the Toll Road and rolling back to South Bend. Then again, it can be a problem if you choose the wrong on-ramp to the Toll Road.
That's right, friends ... yours truly, a proud college graduate, managed to mess up a 50-50 decision between the (correct) Eastbound on-ramp and the (wrong) Westbound on-ramp. It was about the time I'm merging with traffic headed toward Chicago that Ashley Barlow pipes up from the passenger seat - "I think we're going the wrong way ... again." That astute observation was promptly followed by peals of laughter from all three freshmen in the car, mixed with several choice phrases from me that wouldn't exactly qualify as "the King's English." And as most of you probably know, driving on a toll road means it's not exactly a quick turnaround at the next exit. Fifteen miles later (and 90 cents lighter - consider it my contribution to Governor Daniels' "Major Moves" plan), we finally get turned around and headed back to South Bend. In the meantime, all three ladies have called and left messages for Adam and Stephanie, and begun text-messaging the details of our journey to their other teammates who are riding back with Stephanie (and presumably now going to arrive back before us even though we left 20 minutes earlier).
In the end, we made it home, the girls were excused for study hall for that night, and I managed to hold on to my job for a little while longer (although Stephanie swears I'll never get asked to drive the players to any more events). I like to think it was just a good opportunity to get to know our freshmen a little better ... but those three are more likely to use it as ammunition against me for the next four years.
Now one player who certainly wouldn't hold something like this over my head is the latest BasketBlog tag-team partner, junior guard Amanda Tsipis. Amanda has been a tremendous addition to our program for the past three years, from her hard work and dedication on the court to her outstanding effort in the classroom. Sit back, relax and enjoy as Amanda steps in for her own thoughts, and we'll talk to you next time ... GO IRISH!!
Hi everyone -
This is Amanda Tsipis with the latest players' perspective in the BasketBlog. Lots of people have asked me how I arrived with the Notre Dame women's basketball team from my home in Perry, Ohio, so I figured this would be a good chance to tell that story.
I guess you could say my path to Notre Dame started when I was no more than a few years old. My grandpa was a passionate Notre Dame football fan, and since I was the first grandchild (and not a small baby to say the least), he would claim that I would be their first female linebacker someday, as he would make me watch every game on his lap. While things did not go exactly according to my grandpa's plan, I know that he is still smiling proud as he watches over me from Heaven.
My path was revisited many years later when I decided to attend the Notre Dame women's basketball High Intensity summer camp before my senior year of high school. It was an intense, exciting three days, packed with basketball that allowed me to work on my skills, meet some of the players, including (future All-Americans) Jackie Batteast and Megan Duffy, as well as talk to Coach McGraw about my interest to try to walk-on the team. After camp, I was extremely motivated, both academically and athletically, to put myself in the best position to apply for my dream school. After taking the SATs and ACTs many times, I applied to many schools all over the country, hoping that I would achieve one of my dreams - to continue playing basketball in college.
Initially, I decided I was going to play for Coach Kris Huffman at DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind. I was very excited about my decision, but I received a call in May 2004 that would ultimately change my decision and life. This call was from Notre Dame Admissions, informing me of my acceptance; and I was left at a loss for words. Overflowing with enthusiasm, I immediately called my parents, who were extremely proud and happy for me. It did not take me long to decide that the University of Notre Dame would be where I would be spending my next four years. The news just got better when I called Coach McGraw, and she offered me a spot on the team.
It seems like just yesterday that I hung up the phone with Coach. I cannot believe that I am already a junior and have only two seasons left. My time here at Notre Dame is going extremely fast, and I know I must not take for granted one day. I am amazed at the incredible amount of support and respect I have received from my teammates, the staff, my family, my peers, and the community, and I could not be more grateful. I have already had some unbelievable experiences as a part of the Irish women's basketball program. I will never forget running out of the tunnel for my first home game, hitting my first shot in a game, beating Marquette at the buzzer last year, winning the Preseason WNIT and at UConn during my freshman year, and traveling all over the country to play. I have also learned a tremendous amount about life and myself. I have come to understand the importance of discipline, hard work, perseverance, teamwork, and leadership. I also have realized what how hard I must work to be successful both academically and athletically, which will help me overcome any adversity in the future. Lastly, I am aware as to how incredibly lucky I am to be part of such a prestigious school, team, and community. Every day, I get to play the game I love with the best players in the country, not to mention some of the best people I know. I have an immense amount of respect for my teammates, who constantly push me to be a better person.
Over the past two years, my experiences at Notre Dame have allowed me grow academically, athletically, and spiritually. I would not trade this opportunity for anything, and I look forward to everything the next two years have to offer. Thank you to all of the Irish fans who come out and support us each and every night and we look forward to giving you lots more to cheer about this season!
Amanda Tsipis #11