Sports

Chicago’s Kansas City Chiefs bar fans erupt during playoff win

By Leah Vann
Medill Reports

Professional and collegiate team flags hanging from sports bars decorate many streets in Chicago. Outside, it’s Bears, Cubs, Sox, Blackhawks and Bulls country. But inside, each bar shelters a haven of raucous sports fans avid to share the spirit for hometown teams that may be far away.

The AFC divisional rounds of the National Football League playoffs featured the Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Houston Texans on Jan. 12. As a football fanatic with no team in the playoffs, I decided to see what it was like inside these clandestine cocoons that weren’t my own. Would the true believers accept a stranger who was merely there to observe as a reporter?

The Chiefs kick off at 2:05 p.m., and as I approach Toons Bar & Grill on north Southport Avenue, the bouncer warns me that they’ve met capacity. But if I was on my own, I was more than welcome to come in. He says there might be more room in the back, so naturally, I weave my way through the red, yellow and white jerseys to order a Stella at the front. Continue reading

26.2% resilience, 73.8% stupidity: an essay

By Caroline Kurdej
Medill Reports

I arrived at the start line trembling — from the cold and the nerves — ready to vomit.

“Hello, marathoners! Are you ready for the 42nd Bank of America Chicago Marathon?” The announcer’s voice boomed from the speakers off LaSalle Street.

The crowd roared. Runners started stripping, tearing off their clothes and exposing themselves to the temperatures in the mid-40s. No! I panicked. I haven’t run in weeks. My doctor prescribed physical therapy and a “slow” return to weight-bearing, impact exercises. I was supposed to defer my race until 2020. I disobeyed. And I’m going to wreck myself.

“Corral E! You’re up next!” Oh, no.

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Northwestern women’s basketball fights off Purdue to lock in 14th season win 

By Jake Meister
Medill Reports

Northwestern University women’s basketball hosted Purdue Sunday evening, emerging victorious after nearly squandering an 18-point lead.

The Wildcats grabbed their first win against the Boilermakers since 2016, squeaking out in a 61-56 nail biter. It marked the second straight game where NU head coach Joe McKeown’s team won by five points or less.

“In the locker room, we were disappointed,” senior Abbie Wolf said. “It really should’ve been a 15- to 20-point game at the end. We let them back into it.”

Senior forward Abbie Wolf goes through pregame warmups prior to winning the game against Purdue Sunday night. The powerhouse player scored double-digit points. (Jake Meister/Medill Reports)

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Ten-thousand miles and two knee surgeries later, Jess Sancataldo continues to chase her dreams

By Tony Garcia
Medill Reports

Jess Sancataldo has long had lofty aspirations.
Whether it was playing four sports at a time when she was a child or joining the Australian National team for Handball in high school, Sancataldo has always pushed herself.

In eighth grade, she made the decision she wanted to play collegiate basketball in America.

That journey wasn’t easy and despite being met with her largest obstacle yet this offseason, Sancataldo continues to strive for her dreams of playing professional basketball.

Photo at top: Jess Sancataldo, a sophomore on the Northwestern women’s basketball team, won’t let two knee surgeries get in the way of chasing her dreams. (Tony Garcia/MEDILL)

Triumphs and tribulations of the Chicago Red Stars franchise reflects the evolution of the NWSL

By Krystina Iordanou
Medill Reports

Within a seven-day span, the Chicago Red Stars experienced the triumph and defeat that comes with competition.

On a beautiful autumn Sunday in Chicago, the Red Stars defeated the 2018 Thorns to reach their first National Women’s Soccer League Championship in franchise history. Just seven days later, the Red Stars suffered the largest deficit loss ever in an NWSL championship, losing 4-0 to the North Carolina Courage on the reigning team’s turf.

Despite the lopsided loss, the Red Stars showed an inspiring effort throughout the entire 90 minutes, even after going down three goals in the first half. The Red Stars journey as an organization emulates the same hurdles we have seen the league struggle through since its inaugural season in 2013. Continue reading

The Chi-Side provides opportunity for young sports journalists to stay in the game

By Yousef Nasser
Medill Reports

The Chi-Side was credentialed to cover the eighth annual Chicago Elite Classic, giving young journalists their first taste of covering high school basketball.

Developed by social media professional Evan Marshall along with sports broadcasters Brooke Weisbrod and Camron Smith, the Chi-Side identifies itself as an intersection of basketball and culture in the city of Chicago. The Chi-Side aims to give creative young kids from the ages of nine to 19 an opportunity to learn the craft of covering sports alongside experienced sportscasters like Weisbrod and Smith.

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Ninja Warrior joins obstacle course racing to set sights on Olympics

By Junie Burns
Medill Reports

Acclaimed athletes such as gymnast Simone Biles and swimmer Katie Ledecky prepare for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. But behind the scenes, Ian Adamson and Bob Clark are hard at work to introduce a new sport to the Olympics: obstacle course racing joined by Ninja Warrior athletics.

Every season of Olympic Games provides an opportunity for new sports to be showcased as demonstration sports, and each of those sports hopes to be selected as an official Olympic event. The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo will welcome back baseball and softball as Olympic sports while also debuting Rock Climbing.

Ninja Warrior became a phenomenon as a youth recreational sport following the success of the NBC hit series American Ninja Warrior, launched in 2006. The televised Ninja Warrior competition has spread to more than 18 countries, and local gyms are popping up in the Chicago area and all over the world, providing ample opportunities for local competitions.

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How athletes manage the mental toll of injury

By Krystina Iordanou
Medill Reports

The physical health of your favorite athlete can determine the season’s success of their your favorite team. Sprains, fractures, concussions and other injuries can take a player off the field for several weeks or more.

Physical injury is a recurring aspect of sports that can’t always be avoided, but its the mental hurdles that accompany recovery that can be underestimated. We took a deeper dive into this topic and talked with Joanna Boyles, a professional soccer player for the Orlando Pride, as well as, professionals in the wellness and sports psychology field.

Photo at top: Joanna Boyles has overcome two anterior cruciate ligament injuries and is a current player for the Orlando Pride in the National Women’s Soccer League.(Mark Thor/ Orlando Pride)

Keys to success: Day in the life of an NU women’s basketball player

By Krystina Iordanou
Medill Reports

Entering her final season on the Northwestern University Women’s Basketball team, senior Abi Scheid is a seasoned veteran when it comes to balancing academics, practice and nutrition among the many responsibilities that come with being a division one athlete at a top university.

Coming off her best statistical season yet in 2018-2019, Abi earned a position on the Big Ten All-Academic Team. This past week I wase able to spend a typical day with Abi. She utilizes the following strategies to stay on top of her game.

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Goalkeeper turned runner, Amanda Macuiba, strides toward Olympic Marathon Time Trials

By Caroline Kurdej
Medill Reports

Amanda Macuiba sits perched on a high chair at Chicago’s Native Foods Café. Her outfit is as lively as her personality: her tan coat is patterned with abstract floral prints, her beige sweater accentuated with chunky silver jewelry. Her hair and makeup look flawless, with not a single blonde curl out of place. You wouldn’t guess that this former college soccer star is shooting for the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials in February.

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