Q&A with Curry and Fisher of ‘Big Ten Tailgate’

first_img“Tailgate 48” is a television show that airs weekly on the Big Ten Network. Each weekend hosts Jason Fisher and Alex Curry visit a Big Ten school for 48 hours to visit with coaches, hang out at hot spots in town and learn about game-day traditions. Last weekend the “Tailgate 48” crew came to the University of Wisconsin to discover what Madison has to offer. Badger Herald Extra Points Sports Blog editor Spencer Smith met up with them on Saturday to find out what they liked best about Wisconsin’s capital city and the University of Wisconsin. BH: So what is Tailgate 48 all about?Fischer: Tailgate 48 is a really fun show on the Big Ten Network. It’s basically if you had 48 hours on campus, we’d show you the ultimate way to live it up: where to eat, where to hang out. We interview players and coaches, different amazing athletes in the Big Ten and show you all of the traditions. It is the best way to experience 48 hours the weekend of the big game.Curry: You are supposed to have as much fun as you possibly can while you are there for 48 hours and we are showing you how you can do it.BH: When I say University of Wisconsin, what comes to your mind?Fischer: For me ‘Jump Around’ is so much fun. We have had a chance to go to all of the Big Ten schools and people always ask me where the best tailgates are or who has the best fans and I think a game at Camp Randall Stadium is better than anywhere else in the Big Ten. It’s so much fun. It’s one big party.Curry: Athletics. You guys have really strong athletic teams here. We got to talk to coach Bo Ryan and he was great. All the different coaches, everyone has so much pride and spirit in your school.BH: When you think of UW students, what do you think of?Fischer: I think there is just so much spirit here. There’s so much school spirit here, everyone is so into their teams and supporting it and really about having fun…We interviewed coach Bielema yesterday and that’s what he said too. I asked him what he tells his players before every single game in the locker room and he said ‘remember to go out there and have fun.’ I think everyone keeps it in perspective. They take it seriously but they take their fun seriously here too.Curry: Everyone’s really dedicated. The fans are dedicated, the coaches are dedicated and the players are dedicated. So it’s like one big fun-dedicated atmosphere.BH: Did you get a sense of UW coaches being proud to work for this University?Curry: Very proud. Coach Bo Ryan had his fundraiser on Thursday and I think he donated over $42,000 and he was just so happy that students wanted to be there and help give back for Coaches vs. Cancer and it was a way for him to get more involved with the students and the entire school in general.BH: What has been the best part so far about your time in Madison?Curry: So coach Ryan challenged me to the fundraiser challenge. So I got to take the free throw shot and the half court shot. I took the free throw shot and it didn’t go over so well. We were talking about it and we decided that I can “granny” the halfway shot. They looked at me and said ‘it’s a little further than you think’. No one thought I could make it. So I throw it up and get nothing but net. I sunk it.Fischer: I am extremely jealous of that moment. For me it’s so cool being here for homecoming. Last night we were at the union and out on the terrace for the fireworks and the parade. Just seeing cheerleaders from the 1950’s back here and families whose children go here now and parents were back and grandparents. All the generations of people for homecoming that have this pride in the school is a really cool thing to see.BH: Would you say you were looking forward to Madison when you saw it on your schedule?Curry: Yes we were crossing our fingers that we were going to make it to Wisconsin sometime during the season and we found out a week ago that it was going to be our last spot.Fischer: I was here last year for the show and it was one of the most fun, if not the most fun, school in the entire Big Ten. It really feels like one big party here. It is awesome.BH: What is the best event or tradition that you have experience all year with this show?Fischer: Each school has something really unique. Penn State, for example, has ‘Nittanyville’ where all of the fans start sleeping out on Tuesday or Wednesday of that week and camp out for a ticket for front row seats. We were at Michigan last week where students sleep out in front of the ‘M’ and guard the ‘M’ when Michigan State comes to town. My favorite is ‘Jump Around.’ I am excited for that between the third and fourth quarter.Curry: We’ve been to three campuses when its homecoming. So that’s fun too, to see how each campus just does homecoming and how it really brings alumni, students, athletes and the entire school together.BH: Do you think this excitement on game-day weekends is kind of exclusive to the Big Ten?Curry: It is. It’s a way of life here in the Big Ten. Football, college, school spirit: it’s what people live for and it’s so amazing to be a part of it and see it first hand through our show.Fischer: I think what the Big Ten has, what other conferences don’t, is the tradition. All of these programs in the Big Ten date back over 100 years. There are unbelievable football traditions and fans. Getting to be a part of the traditions as they carry on today is really special.BH: Is there anything special that you wanted to do in Madison once you got here?Fischer: I had some cheese curds yesterday, always have to have cheese curds. We went to the ‘Old Fashioned’ for lunch and that was a good spot. Brats and cheese curds, I love food so you get a lot of that here. Curry: I’m really excited to see the stadium. I have never been inside Camp Randall so I’m stoked for that.To see Alex Curry and Jason Fischer discover Madison and UW, tune into the Big Ten Network at 5 or 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday. You can follow both of the hosts on twitter at @alex_curry and @jzfish.last_img read more

For The Hill Academy lacrosse players, No. 45 isn’t just a jersey. It’s a way of life.

first_imgWhen Brendan Bomberry played his first game for Denver in 2015, he wasn’t wearing the jersey number he had waited years to. An upperclassman had already claimed No. 45.At North Carolina, coaches ensured the same didn’t happen to Bomberry’s high school teammate, Chris Cloutier. They knew Cloutier also went to The Hill Academy, a sports-focused center of fewer than 300 students in Toronto. They knew the story behind 45 and what it symbolized at Hill.“The second you walk through those doors at the Hill, they fully invest you,” Cloutier said. “You learn how to be a good leader. It’s one of the main focuses of the Hill. And, ya know, being able to wear 45 just takes you back to what you were taught.”At the Hill, the number is everywhere. It’s a part of the chant that ends each practice. It’s on a jersey hanging on the wall of the gymnasium. It’s pressed on a pinnie awarded to the practice player of the week. But the number is never worn in games.On a Monday evening in May 2008, a youth club box lacrosse team called the Toronto Beaches were playing a game in Newmarket, Ontario, when a defender struck Jamieson Kuhlmann with a blindside hit. The defender’s shoulder drove into the head and chest of the Hill 10th-grader and he collapsed. The kid teammates called “Jammer” couldn’t get up.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe team trainer, a long-time Kuhlmann family friend, ran onto the field. Jamieson passed out. The trainer helped carry him off and, minutes later, the sun sank below the horizon. Jamieson never regained consciousness, and after two days in the hospital, his parents removed life support.The Hill, which was only in its second season, retired its No. 45 lacrosse jersey in honor of Jamieson.“There’s a reason why he’s not here,” said Jamieson’s mother, Michelle Weber. “And for them to put such emotion into someone, and maybe even not trying to live his life, but taking aspects, pieces of it, and trying to make their life that much better, it overwhelms me. It really, truly does.”The next spring, after graduation, Jason Noble made a pact with several other teammates. If it was available, they would all wear 45 in college to honor Jamieson.In 2010, Noble wore 45 as a freshman at Cornell while Zach Palmer did the same at Johns Hopkins. A year later, Jason’s brother, Jeremy, claimed the number at Denver.The Hill Academy is slowly collecting jerseys from multiple alumni who have worn 45. Jason Noble’s jerseys are featured here. Courtesy of Brodie Merrill The same goes for Randy Staats, who has the number and a pair of wings tattooed on his right shin, started college in 2012 at Onondaga Community College. He eventually donned it for two seasons at Syracuse.And, for the past two, Bomberry has continued the legacy. The players wanted the number to serve as a daily reminder to work hard and be the best person you can be at all times.“Because you never know, if you take a day off or you’re not pushing hard enough, are you going to get that day back?” Jason Noble said.• • •Before Jamieson’s first game for the Hill, head coach Brodie Merrill came into the team’s dorm and told the newcomer he needed a jersey number. Jamieson looked across the room to dorm parent Dan Noble, who Jamieson called “D-Nobes.”The 26-year-old was in his first year at The Hill Academy after concussions ended his professional football career in Europe. Noble moved into the dorms of the Hill, living with the students and coaching strength and conditioning.Jamieson told Merrill he wanted 45.Jamieson wore it in part because Noble had as well, but Merrill also remembered he wanted it for Rudy, the hard-working title character in the 1993 film who wore the number after improbably walking on to the Notre Dame football team.Jamieson took interest in the underdogs who worked for everything because he saw himself in them. At a young age, he passed to everyone on the field, even if they weren’t going to catch it. He did it so much his mother questioned him about it one day, wondering why her son spread the ball around even if the other players weren’t as good as he was.“You know what, Mom?” Weber remembered her son saying when he was in middle school. “One day, they are going to catch it.”After Jamieson’s freshman year, his parents saw adolescence take its toll on their son. His grades slipped to a 62 average, his mother said, and he wasn’t as happy as he used to be. So, his mother sold her house to afford the Hill.She and Jamieson’s father, Mark Kuhlmann, saw the Hill as the solution because it prides itself on getting students out of their comfort zone. It pushes for high academic performance and Division I athletics, something her son embraced. It forced Jamieson to adjust, because at a school with fewer than 30 kids at the time, there wasn’t a junior varsity team for him to settle in with.Courtesy of Michelle WeberAt first, Noble remembered Jamieson being quiet and keeping to himself. The close-knit community soon changed that, though. His history teacher had told Weber that they had “never seen a kid read so much.” Before Jamieson went to the Hill, Weber didn’t remember him enjoying reading at all. Jamieson’s grades rose to an 81 average, she said.His rediscovered confidence translated to the field. He earned the nickname “Jammer” and learned to lead in different ways. He energized the team even when on the bench, and Staats remembered Jamieson always relaying a joke or sharing his infectious smile as players came off the field.Late one night during Jamieson’s time at the Hill, Noble overheard something he found remarkable through his floor. In the room below, Jamieson’s roommate, a hockey player, wasn’t sure if the Hill was the place for him. He considered leaving. As the classmate talked through his anxieties, Jamieson shared his own story. He reminded him there was nothing to lose, that he might as well just go for it.“His story and his legacy, it’s become so powerful because a lot of our students kind of see themselves and see what Jamieson did as inspiration,” Merrill said. “To be a good teammate. To be hardworking. To be humble in your approach.”During the spring term of his sophomore year, Jamieson filled out a self-evaluation sheet for the lacrosse team. He didn’t rank any part of his lacrosse skills higher than a six, except for conditioning. His highest self-graded marks came in work ethic, attitude, health and efforts in the classroom. In overall success, he granted himself a nine out of 10.“I think I have improved a lot but there is always room for improvement,” Jamieson wrote in the comments section of the sheet. “I think that because of the set up at the Hill (coaches, practice) and my work ethic, I will one day achieve my goal of playing college lacrosse.”Jamieson’s self-evaluation now hangs on the gym wall at The Hill Academy. Courtesy of Brodie MerrillBefore her son’s death a few months later, Weber wrote a letter to the Merrill family, which is in charge of the academy. In awe of how much her son had improved in less than a year there, she thanked them for all they had done.Jamieson embraced the Hill, which is an acronym for the four ideals of the academy. “H” indicates the highest level of achievement, pushing each student to reach their full potential. “I” stands for independence, emphasizing independent thought. The first “L” represents leadership, stressing that each member of the team must lead in their own way.In life, Jamieson mastered the first three. After death, he became the final symbol: a second letter L for “Legacy.”• • •Dan Noble never planned to stay at the Hill, but after Jamieson died, D-Nobes couldn’t leave. He had to pass on the boy’s legacy.“It was my purpose,” Noble said.At the first team practice following the accident, Noble got emotional. He changed the team chant, which had always been “Hill Pride.” From then on, the team would say “4-5 Hill Pride” after breaking down each meeting.“It was there to be a reminder that we never have to do any of this,” Noble said. “We get to do this and what an opportunity this is and to be grateful.”The papers Jamieson wrote his goals on now hang on the gym wall at the Hill, along with his old jersey. There’s an assembly each year to teach his story to the students who sat where he once did. The team awards a No. 45 practice pinnie each week to a player who embodies Jamieson and the Hill’s core beliefs.The number’s reach expands each year. Several Division I women players now wear it. Merrill has represented Team Canada in his former player’s number. Players often ask teammates from the Hill if any opponent wearing 45 is a fellow alum.Jamieson Kuhlmann Field was founded in 2008 in Toronto. Courtesy of Michelle WeberEvery year since Jamieson died, there’s been a memorial tournament in Toronto in his name. Before each game of the “Jammer Classic,” players are asked to read a plaque next to Jamieson Kuhlmann Field. The first part of the plaque expresses Jamieson’s values. It alludes to him throwing the ball even to those who might bobble it. They will “catch it in their hearts and remember you for the pass.”“May all those who play on this field draw inspiration from a remarkable young man who was called upon to play the game elsewhere,” the script continues. “Jamieson’s Legacy will remain with us forever.”It will carry on. Bomberry will graduate from Syracuse University next month with hopes that No. 45 will remain on the roster. He plans to pass the jersey on to Owen Hill, an incoming freshman who will be the third Hill Academy player to wear 45 with the Orange.“(No. 45 has) taken on a life of its own,” Noble said. “But it’s Jamieson’s life.” Comments Published on April 11, 2018 at 10:40 pm Contact Josh: jlschafe@syr.edu | @Schafer_44 Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more