Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Celebrating Small College Sports

I attended Northwestern College of Iowa in the mid to late 70s. I wrote sports for the college newspaper and the sports information office. Writing about Northwestern's sports teams was always enjoyable because the Red Raiders fielded top-notch outfits.

A buddy and I went back to Northwestern last week for a "return home" trip. I hadn't been back in about 10 years. Yes, it's true. You cannot go home again. We felt like a couple of gray-beards, but that was okay. Time continues.

One thing that hasn't changed about Northwestern is it's sports success. I don't keep track of it too closely (one reason is I'm 140 miles away), but this NAIA Division II school just wins.

The women's basketball team and the men's basketball team have carried the sports banner in recent years. Northwestern was the first team in NAIA history to win both women's and men's basketball national championships in the same season (2001). The men won the title again in 2003. The women garnered additional championships in 2008 and just this past winter.

Northwestern's Deb Remmerde brought the Orange City school national press. She graduated in 2008 and during her career was a free throw shooting machine. Remmerde holds the record (on any level) for consecutive made free throws with 133. She also went on the CBS Early Show and sank 580 of 585 attempts.

Northwestern owns outstanding sports facilies. For example,the school has an impressive football stadium with field turf and a beautiful track. The Raiders also have a modern indoor sports place including a nice basketball gym.

It was fun seeing the pictures of the former Northwestern players who were named to the school's Hall of Fame. That brought back memories.

Northwestern athletes play for the joy of sports. They receive partial scholarships but are truly student athletes. If athletes are looking for bright lights and big bucks, they don't attend Northwestern. Northwestern athletes accomplish just as much as the big college programs, but with less fanfare.

That can still make an old gray-haired alumni proud.

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