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September 17, 2020 | |Post a Comment

first_img Published on April 26, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Nick: nctoney@syr.edu | @nicktoneytweets Comments The awkward silence in Veronica Grant’s car indicated her passenger, Jasmine Watson, had something bad on her mind.During Wednesday night’s road doubleheader against DePaul, Watson managed only one hit in six at-bats with three strikeouts for Syracuse (35-12, 12-4). And as the two teammates pulled into the SU Softball Stadium parking lot for Thursday’s practice, Grant could tell Watson was still angry about her performance.With a quick joke about Watson’s less-than-stellar plate appearances, Grant made sure Watson didn’t take that anger into practice.‘You go up there (to bat) and it’s so serious,’ Grant said. ‘But sometimes making light of the situation eases whatever you’re going through.’Head coach Leigh Ross said Grant leads through her unique sense of humor. When an SU player has a bad at-bat or a bad game, Grant is the first one to joke about it in the dugout or the locker room. And while her teammates don’t immediately notice it, Ross said Grant takes the focus off their poor plays and motivates them to play better.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThat sense of humor has helped her overcome her own struggles this season. After a hamstring injury sidelined her on March 17, the junior center fielder dealt with similar hitting slumps.Grant since straightened out her hitting woes. As the team heads to Connecticut to play three games against the Huskies (21-23, 9-10) this weekend, Grant is arguably SU’s best hitter.She’s only played in 35 games, but Grant is still third on the team in batting average. Her above-average range in the field allowed forLisaira and Shirley Daniels to return to corner outfield spots and maximize the potential of Ross’ lineup.On Wednesday against the Blue Demons, Grant showed why Ross considers her ‘one of the most well-rounded players’ on her roster.In the top of the seventh inning, Grant, who was already 3-for-4, hit the go-ahead two-run home run.DePaul rallied in the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings. But in the top of the ninth, Grant sparked a rally by smacking a two-out double and giving second baseman Stephanie Watts a chance to hit.‘Stephanie was telling me ‘just get me an at-bat,’ said Grant. ‘I trusted her. And then she goes up there and hits the game-winning shot.’Grant said it took a while for her teammates to understand her dry sarcasm. Yet, that sarcasm is predicated on the same sense of mutual trust she felt when Watts ended the second DePaul game with a two-run home run.She never jokes about her team’s occasional struggles with the intent of magnifying them, but instead adds light to an undesirable situation to help her team move forward.‘They understand that I’m doing it to calm us all down,’ Grant said. ‘You have to play the game with the outlook like it’s just a game, and when the bad comes, we all laugh at it. They expect that I’ll be honest with them, and I am.’SU has expected more from its recovering centerfielder since she returned from that injury in early April.After a few hitless games of her own, Grant broke out on the road against Notre Dame. She went 7-11 with five RBI on the weekend and hit her first home run of the season-a solo shot in the top of the seventh to force extra innings.Grant said that once the team went up to bat in the top of the eighth, she ‘trusted her teammates to end the game.’ Julie Wambold did just that with another home run, clinching SU’s 30th win on the season.‘That’s what I love about this team,’ Grant said. ‘We have each other’s backs.’Watson said Grant backs her up with her jokes, and said that laughing at this recent cold streak helps her move on from her worst games.‘In the moment, you’re focused on putting everything behind you, but sometimes you don’t,’ Watson said. ‘So we laugh about it and joke about it. It keeps us grounded and we need that sometimes.’nctoney@syr.educenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

September 16, 2020 | |Post a Comment

first_imgJunior Keegan Meuer hopes to win an NCAA title in hockey like two of his uncles did at Wisconsin.[/media-credit]Wisconsin athletics is no stranger to family affairs.Over the last several seasons, multiple teams have had sibling athletes, from the Kelter twins on both the women’s soccer and hockey teams, the Ammerman sisters on the women’s hockey team, the Little brothers on the men’s hockey team and the Trotter and Armstrong brothers on the football team.But rarely has a family had such a strong connection with UW as the Meuer family.While Keegan skates his junior season with the men’s hockey team, his younger sister McKenna is in the midst of her freshman campaign with the women’s soccer team.And they aren’t even the first of the Meuer clan to don the cardinal and white. Their father, Kelly Meuer, played for the men’s soccer team in the late ’70s. Their older sisters both played for the women’s soccer team – Molly and Katy played their senior seasons in ’04 and ’07, respectively.“It’s ingrained as a way of life for us,” Keegan said. “When you’re that close to it, you don’t realize how special it is and how lucky you are to be a part of something like that, it [isn’t] taken for granted. All of us have worked extremely hard at our craft and what we love to do to make it possible, to make it happen. There’s a sense of ownership and wanting to continue that tradition.”For the Meuers, that tradition seems to lie at McClimon complex – the very place McKenna has held court this fall.In just her first year, the midfielder has netted four goals – the most of any freshman – and one assist through 17 games played, 15 of which she started.The transition to college can always be a tricky one – especially in Division I athletics – but for McKenna, having Keegan right on campus has made her freshman year that much easier.“It’s actually been really great to have him,” McKenna said. “Obviously you don’t always get along with your siblings. With both of us being in college at the same time, it’s really helped bring us together. He’s awesome; he’ll have me over for dinner all the time – me and my soccer teammates. He’s always there to help when I need it. … It gives you another level of comfort when you’re in this new environment.”Before bonding a little more through their shared college experience, they were typical siblings – fighting, picking on each other and of course making the most of sibling rivalries.They were never at each other’s throats, nor did they ever hate each other – apparently, the kicking and screaming fights were left to Molly and Katy – but Keegan always had the upper hand.“We never didn’t get along; it was just me kind of picking on her as older siblings do,” Keegan said. “But I kind of run her show a little bit; she’s used to it. Now that she’s grown up and now that she’s in college, she’s learned to push back a little bit.”When both of her older sisters played, they each served their senior seasons as captains. While time will only tell for McKenna, one thing is certain – she has never felt any pressure from anyone outside herself to continue playing soccer, much less about doing so at Wisconsin.“When I’m playing, there’s a whole other level to it,” McKenna said. “I’m not just representing myself; I’m representing my family. People have known my sisters; there are people who know me through my sisters, through my dad and all that kind of stuff. It’s a whole different experience playing when it’s not more so about yourself, but what you represent and what your program represents. … To continue on something that started decades ago has been really awesome.”“There was never any pressure for us to follow in each other’s footsteps, but at the same time you didn’t want to let anybody down either,” Keegan added. “So there was no pressure on it which was really nice but at the end of the day you always knew you wanted to continue this. This is our hometown. This is where we live; this is where we love to be. There’s nothing better than being a Badger.”While McKenna upholds a Meuer soccer tradition, Keegan took his talents to the ice in the footsteps of his uncles – Rob and Jeff Andringa.The Andringa brothers helped UW earn three of its six NCAA titles, Rob with the 1990 team and Jeff with the 1981 and ’83 teams.Keegan admitted growing up, he wanted to be his uncle Rob. Whether watching the 1990 “Drive for Five” championship tape for the millionth time or treasuring a broken Gary Shuchuk stick – now his coach – the kid was made to skate.“I did soccer for a while, but I didn’t love it. I hated it,” Keegan said. “I play hockey so I can glide and use my momentum. I hate running. I always grew up, I wanted to play hockey. I had Ninja Turtle skates. I’d skate around the kitchen. All I did was hockey. In kindergarten show and tell I brought a hockey stick in and that was my toy. It always was hockey for me. Just having my uncles be a part of that and to be able to follow in their footsteps is definitely a great honor.”While Keegan has yet to earn a national championship ring, he was a part of the 2009-10 championship run, his true freshman season, which he redshirted. The following two seasons, the forward played 51 games and scored eight goals and six assists for 14 points. Through two games in the 2012-13 season, he has one assist on a Frankie Simonelli goal.Of his eight goals, seven were scored last season – although McKenna apparently has yet to see one.“She always comes to my games, but she’s too cool to stay for the whole thing,” Keegan said. “So she’ll leave and then I’ll score once she leaves. She’s under the impression that she can’t come anymore. … I’ll leave a ticket for her as always; my family has season tickets so she’s always welcome and I definitely welcome that. I try to get to her games whenever I can.”The support they give each other and receive from their long line of Badger ancestors gives each of them that extra edge, whether on the ice or at the pitch.“I believe that I have the best family in the world,” McKenna said. “They’ll support me no matter what I do – always there when I need them and I think that’s a huge reason again why I wanted to go to Madison, because it’s so natural when my whole family had gone there.”last_img read more