Amy Sowash BlogSenior Amy Sowash will once again be providing a blog throughout the 2006-07 season. Check back periodically for her latest entries. New entries appear at the top.
We leave in just two days for the national championships. I have been nervous for a week and a half. I am excited to see how well we do, but I am also nervous because we have already done so well. The hard work we put in every day is evident in our record, yet I still hear the voice in my head that says, "You have trained four years for this and this is your last opportunity,". I want that voice to be quiet so that the young team members we are taking with us, do not see that in my face or my actions. I am the only senior attending, and want to use my past experience at NCAAs to guide my team through the nerves everyone will feel. I just want to have the best performance we have had all season and for us to to be able to perform the way we want to under the tense conditions. If we can do that, then there is a great chance for us to come back as champions. I want to feel satisfied at the end of it all, and know that my last match was the best I could have possibly made it.
This blog is beginning to look a little bit like a Christmas wish list. This is not something someone can bring us with a bow on top. We have to give this to ourselves and each other. There's a lot of pressure there. I have worked to find ways to get through it. My teammates have been the most help. Training with them every day gives me confidence. Their confidence feeds me and my desire to excel for them. I will miss them when this is over and I graduate and move on. That thought makes me sad; I try to only think about the week that we do have.
Maybe it will be the best week of my life...
Wish us luck in Alaska!
Go BIG BLUE!!!
After qualifying for NCAAs while in Murray, we went to compete for the conference championship in Mississippi. The GARC is a tough tournament to win because most of the top teams in the nation are in it. In order to win we knew we had to beat Army and Nebraska again. After the first day we were down a point in smallbore to Army. There were definitely some serious nerves during air rifle, but we came back and beat them by three, giving us just a two point lead overall.
I was a wreck, at first I thought we lost, then I was sad about my personal performance, and I got emotional about it being my last GARC. It wasn't until someone pointed out the we, in fact, won, that I calmed down and got ready to celebrate. Taking the big trophy home felt great, despite our low scores. It was even more special because our faculty liaison, Mark Coyle, was there with us. It was the first time he traveled with us, so bringing home a win was important to us. This year, we have had administration travel with us a couple of times and each time it has been a great experience. He was so supportive and interested in what was going on. It's really fantastic to see the administrators get excited about what we do. When we are on the road it helps to remind us that there is a huge amount of support back home.
There are lots of messages and phone calls between home and our traveling administration that helps to keep us focused on doing our very best. Now all we have left is to train for NCAAs, where we have yet another faculty member traveling with us.
As we head into the NCAA qualifier this weekend I am confident and excited to see how many Wildcats will make it to the championship. We have a lot of potential to send several people as individuals beyond the initial first team members. At the end of our season, I can still see the potential for better numbers and harder work that we have left. It is potential that I believe we will see come to fruition. We arenít the type of team to leave anything on the range. Weíre an all-out, make-it-happen type of team. That makes me feel great about being on the line with the rest of the Wildcats.
I not only feel great about being on the line with them, but also about hanging out and getting my degree from the same institution as them. I am working hard my last semester because I know that my grades not only impact me, but also the other ten people on our team. I see them work hard and remember that I cannot slack off. Next week I will travel with Andrew [Roland] to Colorado Springs for the Rocky Mountain match. I will be taking plenty of schoolwork with me, but thatís a good thing. It will keep me in the right mindset.
As a senior, I think very often about what type of legacy we are working on. At the beginning of the year I knew I didnít want to leave the team floundering and searching for an identity. Our identity has become hard work and success this year. I am coming to the end of a four-year road in both school and rifle. There are more steps after this and that is what I want our young Wildcats to think about. There are graduate degrees to get and National Team spots waiting to take them to their Olympic dreams. This weekend I know it is highly unlikely that we wonít qualify, but I donít want to consider that. I want to consider the immediate future, our current identity. I want us to practice being champions. Wish us luck!
I want to wish the team (editors note: the rifle team will be traveling its 'White' squad to a competition in Terre Haute, Ind.) that is going to Rose Hulman good luck. I know you guys will do well and make Kentucky proud!!! There are about five of us staying behind. We will practice this weekend when the rest of the squad is competing. Last week the team competed without Tom and me because we were in Germany with the National Team. I still heard about some great performances while we were gone and am sure there will be even more this weekend. This is a great opportunity for some of the less experienced shooters to shine.
Germany went well for us. We both learned quite a bit. Tom stuck it out and had two good performances. My second day went much better than the first. I was disappointed with the first day and had a long chat with our teammates and coach. I tried to change my mindset and work hard on different aspects of shooting which really helped clear my mind. It was great to get a chance to learn from some of the best shooters in the country and also watch some of the best shooters in the world. I was really excited to come back and apply what I learned. I know my training has gotten better and that I will be an even more focused athlete because of the experience there. It was amazing how many competitors were there and the level of competition they provided. It was so different from matches here in the US.
Classes are rolling along so quickly now, but I really like all of mine. Now that I have upper level courses, I am really forced to think critically in different ways. I like the amount of discussion we have instead of straight lecture. It makes it much more interesting. I am more excited about reading the material and attending class.
Good Luck!! and bring home a win from Indiana!
Weíre coming back to Kentucky as Conference Champions!!!! After the disappointing performance at Palmyra, we pulled it together to beat Army and win the regular season conference Championship. Thatís the first time Iíve been on a team at UK and we won it. It felt great, but we had to rush out of there, away from our incredibly supportive parents who followed us all the way to West Point, in order to get to the airport. Our flight was leaving in just a few hours. We made it to the airport on time, following Sarah (Dr. DeSantisíGPS system), only to find out they had cancelled our flight. Despite our desire to be home, we were in good spirits. We spent the night (sort of, we awoke at 3 am) at a hotel and left on the 6 am flight for Lexington. It felt like we were gone for weeks, but the trip had been successful and fun. Taking Dr. DeSantis, our Faculty Athletic Representative, was wonderful because he was so interested. He really got a chance to get to know us and to understand our sport. Often we just have meetings and formal time together, but this time because he traveled with us we were able to get to know him as a professor, person and athletic administrator. I know we all had a fabulous time. It was also nice to have someone from the athletic department there when we won the Conference Championship.
Flying to Pennsylvania this year was way better than driving. Our flights went smoothly and we didnít have to worry about snowy weather. Shooting at Palmyraís range didnít go quite as well. Our numbers were pretty low and there was a huge sense of, ďmy goodness, what did we just shoot? Oh, weíre so much better than that.Ē I think Army is going to get to see the repercussions of that feeling of disappointment. We still beat N.C. State, and got to see many parents, relatives and friends in Pennsylvania. Tom, Jen and Leslie are all from the Northeastern United States, making Pennsylvania and New York ideal for their friends and relatives to come support them. We had more spectators than several local kids; it was great!
On Friday night, after we got in, Leslieís mom cooked a fantastic dinner for us. We got to meet her whole family and have a home cooked meal on the road. It was a real treat. For dessert she had a chocolate fountain setup! We got to dip marshmallows and fruit into it fondue style. Being that we were practically in Hershey, it felt very appropriate. Wish us luck tomorrow against Army!
Go Big Blue!!!!
Happy New Year, Wildcats fans! I hope everyoneís holiday was as good as mine. Weíve been back for several days now. Itís been hard and fun. Tomorrow we head up to Palmyra, Pa. to shoot the invitational at Leslieís [Angeli] home range. Weíve been attending it for a couple of years and it always proves to be a great trip, despite the fact that it often snows. The second half of our weekend trip is to New York to shoot at WestPoint. If we win there, we will get the regular season conference championship. Winning that has been a goal for our team all year. Army is a tough team, but I think after our break from matches over the holiday that weíre ready to come back with a big number.
School has been great so far. I have an awesome schedule. Iím so glad I worked so hard for my first seven semesters so that this one wouldnít be a mad rush to graduate. I canít wait for graduation! But Iím also a little sad because my years here have been so good. I wish that this year was my freshman year and that I had three more to go. I hope the next four years of my life are just as fulfilling as the last four were here.
Traveling overseas to shoot was an awesome experience. I learned many things about myself as a shooter. It was a long trip with the time change but I adjusted pretty well after two days. We flew in to Munich and got to see the Anschutz factory. I canít believe how intricate the process is to make our rifle! It was really interesting. The people were also all very nice in Germany.
The competition had fewer differences than I expected. Almost everything was exactly the same. I was glad to be on the line where I was comfortable and understood everything. The rest of the trip was certainly not that way. Menus were in languages I didnít speak, money was different, and customs were unfamiliar. I think I gained a significant amount of independence form the trip, both personally and as a shooter. I feel as though I am more confident and capable of preparing myself for a match. I certainly look forward to being with my team and Coach Mullins again, partly because I think the lessons I learned will help me be a better leader and teammate.
One of the best parts was being able to watch world class athletes on the line, shoot next to them, learn from them, and get to compare myself to them. I canít wait to supplement my training plan with my new knowledge. Hopefully, the experience will help me be more successful at 3 x Air next week.
Our 4680 on Thursday was bittersweet. We did not beat UAF, who had a 4689. Our team did win the smallbore portion of the match but it wasnít enough to cover the lead they took in air rifle. It was extremely disappointing to see the end of our undefeated season.
The team score will help secure us a spot in the national championship because it will count toward the qualifier. This was an important team goal for us. I was glad to see many people step up and accomplish their goals when it was most necessary. Itís a good sign that we can perform under pressure. This is also not the only time we shoot against UAF. We will see them at Palmyra and NCAA Championships. After having developed a strong taste for winning, I think the sting of loss will carry us to greater success in the future. I will remember how close it was when I train each day and it will drive me to want to win even more next time.
The teamís focus will now shift more toward air rifle because our next competition, in Colorado, will be three days of only air rifle. Itís a selection match for Pan American games. Wish me luck and safe travel in my first international match in the Czech Republic next week.
GO BIG BLUE!!!
We added two more wins to our undefeated season this weekend. The team is coming together to get ready now for our last match of the semester on Thursday against the defending national champions, University of Alaska Fairbanks. This last match against Nebraska was an excellent precursor. The match will be tough but I know we are ready to post a solid team score to count toward qualifiers. It is about time for us to crack the next level of competition.
The range is buzzing with effort to work our position details and solidify mental approaches. At the same time, I think we are all very aware that this is just another chance to achieve personal goals. For me, that means really getting a handle on my kneeling position so that hard work will yield the results Iím looking for during the match. It is the one position I have struggled with the most but I think Iíve developed an extremely positive attitude and a solid method for keeping my position work simple.
As we approach our last match of the semester, school is also coming to an end. While midterms are over, many professors have assigned projects and papers due just before or after Thanksgiving. Many of us will also get to go home to see our families and for the freshmen it will be the first visit home from college. I can remember how strange it was for me to see my family, friends and home after having been away for so long. I will not be visiting my family, as I will be traveling to the Czech Republic to compete in an air rifle match. After that, I will head to Colorado, where five of my teammates will join me for the 3x Air match.
How about a C-A-T-S cheer for your UNDEFEATED sharp shooting Wildcats! It feels good to win. It feels really good to work together as a team to do that. Everybody is pushing themselves hard in order to achieve their goals. As a result, the team is achieving its goals. The toughest part of our season is still ahead, but I donít think anyone is worried. Weíre too focused to be worried.
This Friday we have a match against Nebraska and then on Sunday we shoot against West Virginia. After a double match last weekend, it will be nice to have a break in between the two matches this weekend for recovery. Last year we didnít shoot very many double matches, but I like them. I feel like it really gives us a chance to test what we have worked on all week.
Last week was also parentsí weekend. We had over 30 people show up. It was fantastic! Everybody brought a dish and we had a potluck style cookout after the match. My parents are always around because Iím not from a long distance away, so I think it is especially great to have a weekend devoted to just our parents. We had people come from Kansas, New Hampshire, and many other places. Having the extra support is important, especially to freshmen, but it is also a reminder that we didnít get here by ourselves. Honoring the people who helped us reach our goals and dreams is essential too.
Weíd love your support too. Come out and see us on Sunday against West Virginia. Weíll have the electronic targets up again!
Last Friday we spent our afternoon piecing together the air rifle range upstairs. We moved plywood, connected cable after cable, carried carts upstairs, and added lights. When we were done we had a well lit, white box surrounding a complicated system of targets and a projection on the wall so that spectators could see immediately who shot what. It took a while, but after winning against all three teams the next day, there wasnít anyone who didnít feel it was well worth the effort.
I love shooting on the electronic targets, despite the fact that I was mildly disappointed with my weekend performance. I have increasingly been able to tell a difference in my bodyís ability to compete since we started working out with strength coach Chad Hutsko. My back is much more solid and I tire less quickly. On double match weekends, like the one coming up, thatís a huge confidence boost.
Ole Miss has an excellent range because it is practically brand new. Conference championships are there, making this weekend a great opportunity for the freshmen to try out the conference setting. Ashley and I are rooming together again.Yea!
My older brother and his family will also be attending the match because he lives so close to Oxford. Iím excited because I hardly ever get to see him and he certainly doesnít get to watch us shoot often. This match is really important to me from a confidence standpoint because I know these teams so well. They are certainly competitors at NCAA championships, yet another reason this a great match for the freshmenís first time on the road. Wish us luck!
After competing this week in Georgia with three of my teammates, I am really looking forward to our first NCAA competition on October 14th. We had some great successes in the USA Shooting match last week. Andrew [Roland] and Tom [Csenge] nearly swept the podium in the menís junior events. Ashley [Jackson] had a stellar performance in air rifle her second day and I qualified for the womenís smallbore World Cup team.
I also got to room with Ashley for a week which was fabulous! I wish we were traveling more this fall because she was so much fun to hang out with. I know Iíll be missing the opportunity to have super chocolaty ice cream breaks from study time with her!
While the four of us were burning up in Georgia, the rest of the team was competing in an inter-team competition back home in very rainy Kentucky. They paired up and shot the match in twos. Rayís team (the Killer Koalas) even showed up with hats and t-shirts. Iím a little sad that I missed seeing the Aerated Anteaters triumph. The names sound pretty hilarious, but assistant coach Crystal [Hamilton] tricked everyone into choosing their team names without them knowing it!
Our first match is also on my birthday. Iíll be 22 and I told the team that what I wanted was to win against all three of the teams who will be here. Itís only a week away and it looks like weíll also be shooting air rifle on electronic targets which will be more interesting for spectators. Theyíll be able to see all of our shots. I canít wait!
GO BIG BLUE!!!
WELCOME BACK CATS FANS!
The 2006-07 rifle season is here and itís my senior season! Weíve started the year off on a fast, competitive and successful pace.
The range is packed during practice this year. With almost everyoneís schedule lining up, few points are left empty on the range at any given moment. The freshmen have adjusted well and have already started etching out their own place in the team. Having a large freshman class has been awesome because it has added greater excitement and hunger to inter-team competitions.
The locker match was fun and challenging this year. I got to keep my locker but it was a close call!
In addition to all the practicing weíve been doing, our first big community service project was in middle September. Each year we attend the 4-H State Shoot in Wilmore, Kentucky, to help score targets. Helping out with 4-H is my favorite community service event because I shot in the shooting sports program for so long. Itís an all day event, but the people are always so appreciative that it feels great to give up a day to help their competition run easier.
Despite the fact that Iím so excited about this year, I find myself just a little bit sad sometimes. This is my last season as a Wildcat and I donít want to leave. Iíve had three great years here, and want to have at least three more. That just isnít possible. I am looking forward to making this my best season yet.