Sports

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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Kids take Ninja Warrior to new heights

By Junie Burns and Selah Holland
Medill Reports

Most people view Ninja Warrior as an entertaining sports competition where strong, agile athletes compete. But to the kids of the Ultimate Ninjas Chicago Elite team , it’s more like life outside of school.

Across the nation, kids are taking the American Ninja Warrior world by storm. This year, Universal Kids launched American Ninja Warrior Junior, a new show where kids race each other across the obstacles made famous by NBC’s adult competition series, American Ninja Warrior.

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Red Stars fall short in franchise’s first NWSL Championship game

By Krystina Iordanou
Medill Reports

Sunday’s Championship match didn’t catalyze the win the Chicago Red Stars had hoped for, as four goals by the dynamic North Carolina Courage offense proved to be too much in the match.

The Chicago Red Stars controlled play for the first few minutes of the game but an early goal from North Carolina’s Debinha in the fourth minute slowly changed the momentum of the match.

“I thought it took us a good 15 to 20 minutes to settle in the game and by that point we were already chasing against a team you don’t want to be chasing against,” said Rory Dames, Chicago Red Stars head coach, “I think when we go back and watch we’ll be pretty disappointed with the first two goals. We had three players around Debinha. She was able to get the first shot off, find the ball and then get the second one. I think when you’re in this setting their players are obviously better in this environment.”

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Pumpkins in the Park 5k celebrates 20th Anniversary

By Junie Burns and Zachary Fishman
Medill Reports

More than 1,300 people took their Halloween costumes for a test run at the 20th annual Pumpkins in the Park 5K on Oct. 19.

Runners enjoyed unusually warm temperatures as they looped through Lincoln Park for the race. Real estate agent Joel Bendtsen was the first across the finish line in 16:51, completing the 5K nearly 20 seconds ahead of the next runner.

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Chicago Red Stars dynamic offensive duo aces team’s first NWSL championship bid

By Krystina Iordanou
Medill Reports

For four consecutive years, the Chicago Red Stars have endured the pain of losing in the National Women’s Soccer League semifinal. But today’s match brought out their best performance, a large home crowd, and the outcome they have been patiently working for.

In front of nearly 10,000 fans, the Chicago Red Stars clinched their spot in the NWSL championship next weekend in Cary, North Carolina, with a 1-0 win over Portland Thorns FC. Sunday afternoon’s win rewrote a story that many have become accustomed to during this NWSL season; that Sam Kerr and Yuki Nagasato are one of the most dynamic offensive pairings in the league.

“Good players like to play with good players. Yuki has made a huge transition from going from an old school nine to wide player. They understand each other’s movements, the way they get in and off each other, the spaces they find,” said Chicago Red Stars head coach Rory Dames. “Hopefully we’ll see it for years to come.”

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Golden Boot winner Sam Kerr, scores game-winner that sends the Chicago Red Stars to the NWSL Championship. (ISI Photography)

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Chicago Red Stars brings women’s soccer playoff back to the Windy City

By Krystina Iordanou
Medill Reports

For only the second time in franchise history, the Chicago Red Stars will host a semifinal playoff game against Portland Thorns FC Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at Seat Geek Stadium in Bridgeview.

The matchup marks the fourth meeting this season between the two clubs, with Portland having the 2-0-1 edge on the Red Stars. The Red Stars left scoreless in their last two meetings with the Thorns this season.

Many star players will be on the field Sunday afternoon, as the clubs have a combined eight players from this year’s U.S. World Cup winning squad. And that doesn’t count other well-known international players such as Sam Kerr, who is this year’s Golden Boot winner, with 18 goals on the season.

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Life inside the ‘Cat suit: Northwestern alum Peter Keller shares the furry facts

By Christopher Miller
Medill Reports

Peter Keller never imagined that he would be standing, sweaty and naked, behind a stadium concession stand. But there he was, in San Diego with friends holding towels in front of him as he changed out of his Willie the Wildcat suit after the 2018 Holiday Bowl. Being a mascot at a major university is a tiring, anonymous, often thankless and unpaid job. Yet Keller, a 2019 Northwestern graduate, describes his three years as a Willie were the best of his life. Keller, now a 22-year-old assistant producer for Travelzoo, even performed during the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and the 2018 Big Ten Football Championship. Recently he shared what it was like to be a fan-favorite feline.

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