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.


Northwestern has long been considered an academically challenging school. For student-athletes who compete in the Big Ten conference all year, the importance of prioritizing schoolwork is critical to  success. Abi’s typical day consists of early morning strength and conditioning, academic classes and afternoon practice with meals, homework and social time mixed in throughout the day.

Abi Scheid spends multiple hours during the week catching up on work and studying in the Walters Athletic Center. (Krystina Iordanou/Medill)

“Eventually you develop the skills that help you with time management, why not to procrastinate, and I think in turn it helps you with the rest of your life. It’s hard but you get used to it,” she said.

Student-athletes on average take a minimum of three classes during each academic quarter. At Northwestern University, they must balance the rigor of sports and academics that come with being a student at the ninth best college in the U.S., according to U.S. & World Report News. (Krystina Iordanou/Medill)
Abi considers time management as the key to success for any athlete that must balance a time restricting schedule, such as hers. (Krystina Iordanou/Medill)


What many fans, family, and friends observe are the games and competitive landscape the athlete undertakes. However, what goes unseen are the countless hours athletes spend preparing for those moments. On days that Abi does not have a game, she can spend more than six hours in the gym. The 2019 Northwestern women’s basketball season was their most successful since 2015, as the team won 21 games and reached the NIT Championship.

This postseason success, which high-level athletes hope to achieve, pushed the season through April requiring the student-athletes to balance their schoolwork, training, travel, and games for over six months. Perfecting their craft through hours of training has led Abi and her teammates to the recent athletic achievements.

“I don’t think people understand how much time goes into being a student athlete, especially the 6 a.m. morning every day. We also have to tackle a commitment to school as well as a 20-hour commitment to basketball,” said Abi, “Every college athlete understands that if you want to get better you need to go by yourself, get extra shots up with a partner, with a coach.”

By 6:30 a.m. the team was already getting in conditioning work in advance of their upcoming 2019-20 season opener Nov. 10 against Loyola Maryland. (Krystina Iordanou/Medill)
The team emphasizes bringing in referees to not only create a game like environment but to also help players become more knowledgeable on the changing rules of the game. (Krystina Iordanou/Medill)
Training started at 3:15 p.m. but Abi was already on the court by 2:45 p.m. perfecting her shot before practice began. (Krystina Iordanou)


After being diagnosed with Celiac disease in high school – an immune disease where people can’t eat gluten –  Abi has altered the way she approaches nutrition as a high-level athlete. She met with the team nutritionist and found ways to cater to her needs for optimal performance with a gluten-free diet. Training multiple hours throughout the day has players burning hundreds of calories, which makes nutrition a vital piece to their performance on the court and in the classroom.

“Coming into college I didn’t know much about getting in carbohydrates, especially before a game,” Abi said. “Coming to college definitely highlighted how important it is to eat well and fuel your body, especially with hydration.”

Each morning, breakfast offers an array of options, such as fruit, for student-athletes at the Nona Jo’s Dining Center inside the Walters Athletic Center. (Krystina Iordanou/Medill)
Though celiac disease prevents Abi from eating traditional carbohydrate choices, she fuels up each morning with a freshly made omelet and hash browns for a healthy source of fats and carbs to start her day. (Krystina Iordanou/Medill)
In each of the student athletes locker rooms, refrigerators stock healthy snacks athletes can grab on the go in order to stay hydrated and fueled throughout their busy days. (Krystina Iordanou/Medill)

In addition to all of her work on and off the court, Abi believes her college experience has been especially rewarding because of her teammates. She considers them her closest friends.

“Our team is super close, and I think it makes waking up at 6 a.m. a little bit better. Traveling away is fun because we get to spend extra time together, “ she said. “It’s definitely a blessing to be a part of such a good team.”

Photo at top: Northwestern Basketball plans to build off their National Invitations Tournament Championship appearance last season, and make a run in the NCAA Tournament. (Krystina Iordanou/ Medill Reports)

Meet Chicago’s latest teen climate leader

By Zack Fishman
Medill Reports

“The oceans are rising, and so are we!” chanted a group of more than 50 teenagers marching toward Chicago City Hall. Clad in black, the high school protesters took over sidewalks on Oct. 7, walking the half-mile from Trump Tower to Daley Plaza as they demanded the city declare a climate emergency. Many held up their palms to display written-in-marker messages, like “Our future is in your hands” and “Save us.”

At the group’s front and center was Isabella Johnson, a 17-year-old senior at Benet Academy from Naperville, Illinois. As one of three students holding the main banner — which read, “Climate change strikes hard, we strike harder” — she guided the march’s path and led chants echoed by its members. That evening, she brandished a megaphone on her waist and a pin above her heart. It read, “There is no planet B.”

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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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‘They murder our children, and we get no justice’

By Areeba Shah
Medill Reports

Ronald Johnson would have turned 30 this October.

But instead of celebrating his birthday, his mother, Dorothy Holmes, organized a communitywide discussion to commemorate those who lost their lives to “police violence.” Five years ago, a Chicago police officer fatally shot Ronald Johnson.

“Any mother who is alone in this struggle, don’t let anybody tell you that you’re going to be OK,” Holmes said. “No, you’re not. You’re going to have your good days and you’re going to have your bad days, and you let your good days outweigh your bad days because it hurts, and I don’t wish this pain on anybody.”

Since the death of her son, an avid animal lover known as “dog-man,” Holmes organized with mothers nationally to call attention to how law enforcement responds to issues in communities of color. Six mothers whose sons were fatally shot by police joined her to share their stories in a roundtable discussion with community members Oct. 11 at the University of Chicago.

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Busy schedules and upbringing deter some undergrads from getting the flu shot

By Anne Snabes
Medill Reports

College students balance busy schedules of attending class, completing assignments, maintaining a social life, and commitments to extracurricular activities or a job. Do students also set aside time to get the flu shot?

Some do, but many do not.

“Some people just can’t manage to find time in their schedule to come in to get a flu shot,” said Joan Holden, director of Loyola University Chicago’s Wellness Center.
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Recent vaping perceptions are more than just smoke and mirrors

By Annie Krall
Medill Reports

llinois now holds the title for the highest number of patients with vaping related illnesses in the country, according to a recent report published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Over 900 cases of vaping induced lung disease have been reported in the United States as of Sept. 20. Illinois was home to 82 of those cases—mostly among teenagers.

The use of e-cigarettes to smoke nicotine or THC inspired conversation in Chicago, and recent research released may reveal what people really think about vaping and the danger it can cause.

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The ancient art of henna: Immigrant women create couture designs for a new generation of customers

By Madhurita Goswami
Medill Reports

Twenty-four-year-old Juna Syakya can draw intricate flowers or butterflies on your hands with her henna cone in less than 20 minutes. Mehndi, or henna, is a form of body art that uses a plant-based dye and Syakya brings the ancient art form to the Deeba Beauty Salon on Devon Avenue where she works.

The plant, Lawsonia inermis, grows in hot climates. Its leaves, flowers and twigs contain tannins, which are natural dyes used across the ages to create the intricate lace-like designs of henna.
“Henna is best for people who don’t want permanent tattoos. Also, it doesn’t cause infections and is way cheaper,” said Syakya’s colleague, Farzana Mirza, who is from Pakistan.

Heeba Khan draws a floral pattern for a customer. (Madhurita Goswami)

Traditionally, henna artists have been women and only women would get henna on their hands and feet. Costs range from $10-$40 depending on the area covered. Usually, henna gets washed away in less than 10 days. The dye doesn’t penetrate the skin and is safe.

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Open House Chicago brings visitors inside Chicago’s skyline icons

By Nicole Stock
Medill Reports

Tourists and locals alike enjoy the vista of Chicago’s skyline,  often lauded as one of the most beautiful in the country.

But for one weekend in fall, Open House Chicago let’s people see the skyline from the inside out. This annual tradition benefits both visitors and the building owners, as it shows people the interiors  of the buildings in and around the city that they so often just bustle past.  

Susan Bedard, assistant chair of House and Grounds for the Women’s Center in Evanston, one of the places participating in the weekends event, said that the open house gives the community a chance to look inside the buildings they often wonder about, but don’t get a chance to stop in.

The Women’s Club of Evanston at Chicago Avenue and Church Street. (Nicole Stock/MEDILL)

“It’s very gratifying to see so many people who are interested in seeing inside this really lovely building,” Bedard said. “They’re curious – it’s an unusual building type that you don’t see so much anymore” 

Bedard explained that volunteers greet every visitor, give a short tour, and then invite them to explore the building. Though many only stay inside for 10 minutes or so, some visitors walk away with plans to use the space as a wedding venue, or even leave inquiring about membership, Bedard said.  

Just a few blocks down the street, at the gin and whiskey distillery Few Spirits, 918 Chicago Ave, Evanston, Katherine Loftus greeted guests at the business for the fourth time.  

Loftus, who describes herself as “the girl of all things at Few,” became  involved with the collaboration between the distillery and Open House Chicago once the event  started including Evanston locations. Every year, this building draws in about 1,000 visitors, she said. 

”it’s interesting to see how people plot out their plans for Open House Chicago, doing it mostly, from what we hear, is area of the city by area of the city,” Loftus said.

It’s not just Chicagoland residents stopping by, she added, noting that tourists  from neighboring cities such as Minneapolis and Milwaukee often make the trek. And sometimes, visitors come from even farther away. 

“We had a couple from Switzerland that comes to Chicago for every Open House Chicago weekend because they just want that to be part of their tourism experience,” Loftus said. 

Katherine Loftus speaks in the tasting room at Few Distillery. (Nicole Stock/MEDILL)

Open House Chicago is organized by the Chicago Architecture Center. The event launched in 2011 and has featured over 650 unique sites since.

“The most salient impacts are that about 60% of our audience tell us that, each year in OHC, they visit a neighborhood they’ve never been to before,” said Eric Rogers, manager of Open House Chicago and Community Outreach,

Citing a survey following last years’ event, Rogers added that “93% of attendees who identify as Chicagoans tell us that the event makes them proud to be Chicagoans.” 

Above all, Bedard said the event is a way to foster awareness of the architecture and organizations in the Chicago area. 

“We’re trying to be involved with the community and one of the things about Open House Chicago that I think is great is it’s a chance for us to just say ‘come in,’ see who we are, see what we’re about, hear about us,” Bedard said. “That’s what we’re here for, for the community.” 

Although the next Chicago Open House won’t happen until October 2020, the Chicago Architecture Center hosts events and architectural tours throughout the year, including a gingerbread making festivity on Dec. 7. More information can be found here.

Photo at top: A sign for Open House Chicago directs visitors at the Women’s Club of Evanston. (Nicole Stock/MEDILL)

Love me tendr: How Stephen Council brought fried chicken to NU campus culture

By Jake Holland
Medill Reports

Stephen Council is no stranger to fried chicken. The 19-year-old Medill sophomore grew up in southern Virginia, where his father would sometimes make it, juice and grease dripping right off the bone. It wasn’t until a cold December night last year, however, that Council toyed around with the idea of cooking up his own.

He was studying for finals with his friend and Communication sophomore Erin Zhang, and it was approaching midnight in Northwestern’s Main Library. They bemoaned the lack of late-night dining options — Fran’s and Lisa’s, sure, and Burger King off campus, but not much else.

Rather than study, Council and Zhang hopped on a Google Doc and hammered out a business plan. In a couple of hours, they had everything — the concept, the name, the sauces. Later that month, the two went home and experimented with sauces and chicken styles. By the time the New Year rolled around, everything was set. tendr was born.

“We bought that fryer for $30, and we’ve probably fried $1,300 worth of chicken in it,” Council says, smiling. “It was almost like we had to make it worth it. We thought, ‘Why not do this?’”

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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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