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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Carew's Been a Hit With Maverick Athletics

Alex Carew has served as an undergraduate
intern for Shane Drahota in the Minnesota
State Athletics Compliance & Eligiblity

Alex Carew, a fifth-year senior at Minnesota State, is a sport management major with an athletic coaching minor.  Toiling behind the scenes in the Minnesota State Athletics Department, Carew has spent the last couple of years working with Shane Drahota in the Maverick compliance and student services office.

Born and raised in Wisconsin in a family of five (he is a triplet with his two sisters Lauren and Caitlin), Alex was a three-sport athlete in high school and played the trumpet in the band. After beginning his post-high school education at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, he transferred to Minnesota State prior to the 2015-16 school year because UWEC did not have a sport management program.

When Alex got to Minnesota State he started digging into the sport management program right away and before long started a work study job manning the front desk in the main athletic department. The following year he trained in as Drahota’s undergraduate student assistant. Drahota, who serves as the school's Assistant Athletic Director/Compliance & Student Services, is a Jackson, Minn., native who is in his second stint in his current role with the Mavericks, rejoining the department in January of 2016 after spending two and half years as the Assistant Athletic Director for Internal Affairs at Wayne State College (Neb.).

The compliance and student services department handles Minnesota State’s athletic compliance and elibility, ensuring that Maverick student-athletes, coaches, recruits, administrators, boosters, and alumni are in line with the rules and regulations of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. A monumental task that involves providing oversite for Minnesota State’s 20 sports and its 500+ student-athletes, making sure they are in progress to graduate on time, their financial aid scholarships are accurate, and to make sure that they are ultimately eligible to play.

After Alex’s first day of training in the office, Jeremy Christoffels (who was working with Drahota as a graduate assistant intern at the time and now serves as the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Assistant Commissioner for Compliance.) mentioned to Drahota that he thought “Alex is going to be great.” Observing that Alex "learned very fast and was good at so much of what he was asked to do," it wasn't long before the protege was taking on additional responsibility.

“Whatever I do, Alex is capable of," said Drahota, adding that Carew is involved with virtually every facet of his operation.

"It's been a blessing working with Shane," said Carew. "One of the best experiences I've had in college. It's fun working with him and I've learned a lot.  He's a bright guy and it's been about more than just compliance and eligibility, so not just sports, but outside of this realm, too."

In addition to working with Drahota, Carew has made the most of his collegiate experience at Minnesota State, playing the trumpet in the Maverick Marching Machine, the school's athletics band. He also coaches squirt hockey.

How has he been able to juggle all of this?  "That's a good question. I think prioritizing things is the key," said Carew.  "School work comes first. Then working with Shane. Then everything else."

Expecting to graduate in the fall of 2018 and taking a look into the future, Carew has applied to a few graduate schools and is waiting to hear back from them to decide where he will end up upon graduation. Ultimately he would like to get to the NCAA Division I level where he would continue to work in a compliance and student services office.

   contributed by Brooke Brower, Athletic Communications intern

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Rising Sun

Setter Autumn Risch will travel with her Minnesota State
volleyball teammates to Japan this summer
The NCAA allows member schools to take trips abroad once every four years. 

The Minnesota State women’s volleyball program has taken advantage of this rule a couple of times in the last few summers with the Mavericks travelling to Argentina in 2009 and Eastern Europe (Austria, Slovenia, Croatia and Italy) in 2013.  

With the idea that the trips enhance the student-athlete experience, the Mavericks are in the midst of preparing for another excursion.

Head coach Lori Rittenhouse, staff and players will sojourn to Japan in a few weeks, leaving Minnesota July 24th and returning August 4th. The Mavericks are slated to play four matches over the course of 12 days of the tour, which will take them to Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo.

The trip will also include time for practice, along with sightseeing and other activities.

“The mission of these trips is to provide real and meaningful experiences for each student-athlete,” said Rittenouse. “Intercollegiate athletics offers much more than a statistical column and a win/loss record. It provides the framework for growth and development as an individual; enhances the skills and motivation required of leaders; and offers a unique and variable environment for student-athletes to navigate and practice tactics of teamwork, communication and cohesion.”

Rittenhouse, a Mankato native who is entering her third year as head coach of the Mavericks, said that the submersion into a new culture, foreign language and unfamiliar surroundings provides a unique opportunity for growth, personal discovery and pushes one out of a state of comfort. 

To make this once-in-a-lifetime foreign tour a reality, the Mavericks hosted, coordinated and organized over 60 youth volleyball tournaments over the past four years and not a single cent from the student-athletes or University dollars will be used to pay for the tour.

Autumn Risch, a setter from Howards Grove, Wis., who’s heading into her junior season with Minnesota State, is looking forward to the trip. 

“It’s hard to explain how excited I am for the opportunity to travel to Japan. It is a once in a lifetime experience that I know we will all remember for the rest of our lives.,” said Risch, a psychology major who saw action in 29 matches in 2016. “I’m most excited about sharing this experience with some of my greatest friends. It will be amazing to not only play together overseas, but to also enjoy the different culture and beauty of the country.”

I" can’t wait to play international competition and I think it’s amazing that our team gets to represent our university overseas. We put in a lot of work in as a team last spring and I know we have continued to put in the work over this summer. I’m excited to see how that will continue in our Japan training as well as when we finally get to compete. As an individual I want to focus on leading the team through any obstacles we might face considering we don’t know what the competition will be like, and as for the team, I want us to keep looking forward and stay focused and competitive the entire trip.”


Friday, April 21, 2017

Record Collection

Coley Ries is closing in on 100 career wins.
Individual success in sports is often up for interpretation.

However, when it comes to Minnesota State senior softball pitcher Coley Ries, “success” is undoubtedly one word to describe her remarkable record-breaking softball career.

Ries is the Maverick record holder for career wins (99) and strikeouts (571), as well as the most strikeouts in a single season (434).

“Coley has obviously been an important part of the program. She’s brought a lot of success to the program,” said Lori Meyer, Minnesota State's veteran head softball coach. Ries’s teammate, sophomore Cori Kennedy added, “Coley is a very selfless player and she always puts the team first. She’s a really good leader on our team.”

Hailing from Eagle Lake, Minn., Ries, 22, is a product of Mankato East High School, where she graduated from in 2012. Following her high school career, one in which she went 85-18 with 786 batters while leading the Cougars to three Big 9 championships, she committed to continue her softball career at Minnesota State.

“I chose MSU because, being from Mankato, it’s cool to be able to play in front of your community,” Ries said.

Her decision to attend a local university also stems from the importance of family and great coaches.
“Having my family close by, being able to attend all the games, and all the money and time they’ve put into my career throughout the years, it just seemed right to be able to have them be there,” Ries said. “I was also motivated by the coaching staff. I knew that they wanted to make me better,” she said.

After spending her first season red-shirting, it was during the 2014 campaign where Ries’s long list of achievements on the softball diamond for Minnesota State began. She made 37 appearances, including 29 starts in as a freshman, posting a 23-8 record to go along with a 1.92 earned run average. She was named Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) Pitcher of the Year that year.

Ries followed up on a great freshman campaign by appearing in 41 games and constructing a 21-16 record as a sophomore. She fanned 297 batters, a school single-season record. She earned All-NSIC Second Team Honors.

Ries didn’t slow down in 2016. She went 29-7 in her junior season. She compiled 1.18 ERA and fanned 434 batters in establishing a school single-season record.

That performance was good enough to earn her NSIC Pitcher of the Year and First-Team All-NSIC honors.

So far in 2017, the senior right-hander holds a 21-2 record with a record-breaking win coming Saturday against Bemidji State, when Ries became the all-time wins leader with 98. With a win Tuesday over Southwest Minnesota State, she now has 99 wins.

“100 wins is a goal of mine, so knowing I’m approaching one of my goals is really cool, but I’m not trying to think about it too much,” said Ries. The Mavericks next game is Saturday, when they host Northern State.

What Ries has done on the field during games is one thing, but off the field could potentially be even bigger.

“The community can relate to Coley because they’ve been able to follow her throughout her career, and what also adds to that is, she’s just a great person. She’s a great ambassador for the community, Minnesota State and for the sport of softball,” Meyer said. “She’s a tremendous role model for young girls just because of how she interacts with them and her passion for softball,” she said.

Ries graduates May 6 with a degree in mass media, but is unsure what she wants to do.

“I hope to get into coaching, maybe help out the coaches here. Nothing is really set in stone yet. I’m really trying to focus on finishing the year and see where it takes me,” she said.

  Contributed by Collin Wilmes, Athletic Communications intern

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Maverick From Down Under

Right-handed pitcher Bryce Collins
is in his first season with the Mavericks
It has been a long journey for new Minnesota State junior right-handed pitcher Bryce Collins as he has traveled far from his hometown of Brisbane, Australia to play collegiate baseball in the United States.

The story of how he ended up heading to America to play started with a professional scout that approached him after one of his games.

“A professional scout came up to me and asked if I had any aspirations to play pro ball and I told him that I did,” Collins said. “He then got into contact with the recruiting coordinator at Indian Hills Community College in Centerville, Iowa and then proceeded to exchange emails with him."

Within six hours there was a mutual agreement in place that would have Collins attending school in Iowa in the coming fall where he ended up playing two seasons before transitioning Minnesota State. At Indian Hills he was voted Freshman of the Year in 2015, where he started eight games while pitching 53 innings and recording 45 strikeouts. He also helped lead Indian Hills to a second-place finish in conference and region in 2015.

The recruitment of baseball players in Australia is a little bit harder for guys to get noticed. Collins also stated that “not as many people play it and it isn’t as popular there. Other sports take more of a priority such as rugby and cricket." Considering that baseball may not be as popular in Australia, Collins felt as though playing for his country would give him as good of an opportunity to get seen as any.

He played for Team Australia at the U19, U17 and U13 World Series which took him to places such as Taiwan, Mexico and the United States (Maryland). He also went up against current big league pitcher Julio Urias of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“The experience playing for my country was awesome, you have a lot of pride putting that jersey on,” Collins said. Playing in Taiwan and Mexico were very unique experiences because the areas that they played in were not the best so to speak. Every time their team left the hotel while they were in Mexico, they had to have police escorting them to and from the field. The ability to experience playing with the national team prepared him for coming over to the United States and not being intimidated.

“Everything over here is pretty similar to Australia which helped me feel very comfortable when I first got here,” he said.

Adjusting to a new culture has been a lot of fun for Collins. He has enjoyed meeting new people while also being able to get a degree playing baseball. An exercise science major, Collins has appeared in six games in his first year with the Mavericks, all in relief.

Currently in the midst of a 17-game winning streak, Minnesota State is rated 21st by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and stands 21-4 overall.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Old School

Minnesota State senior defenseman Carter Foguth is in his
second year as team captain with the Mavericks
Minnesota State has racked up 94 wins, won a pair of MacNaughton Cups, claimed a pair of Broadmoor Trophies and made two trips to the NCAA tournament during Carter Foguth’s time in Mankato.

Take a closer look at the type of game that the senior defenseman plays and the more appreciation you gain for the role he’s played in the success the Mavericks have enjoyed the last four seasons.

Foguth, a Fenton, Mich., native, is Minnesota State’s active career games played leader and while he’s closing in on 140 appearances, it’s not his career goals (4), assists (17) or points total (21) that make your eyes pop.  A “stay-at-home” defenseman, Foguth has led the Mavericks in blocked shots the last three years and has ranked amongst the team’s plus-minus leaders every season during the course of his career. And while those numbers are impressive, it is his physical presence that certainly is noticeable to the opposition as head coach Mike Hastings likes to point out.

“Scoring goals, setting up goals, those are the things that get people out of their seats,” said Hastings. “Carter does a lot of the unappreciated things as a player. If you were go around and ask around the WCHA, who’s one of the harder guys to play against, there will be a lot of coaches that would say they’re not going to miss Carter not being in the lineup. We definitely do miss him if he’s not there. He defends, he keeps players away from the net, he’s the guy who says “you’re not going get another whack at the puck” and if you’re coming between the dots you’re going to pay a price. He’s been one of the best defensive defensemen in the league in the last three years.”

Building on that, Hastings, who is in his fifth year as head coach of the Mavericks, is quick to add another characteristic Foguth brings to the table that is difficult to quantify.  The characteristic of leadership.

“Carter’s been a guy that you are comfortable with being in charge of your team. He leads by example and he does things that are admirable. He’s honest and truthful. He’s a great self-evaluator.  And those are qualities that are sometimes hard to find in people. He has a lot of qualities that you look for if you are going to build somebody as a leader. We were hoping he would end up being that type of player for us when we recruited him and he’s done that and more. Unquestionably he’s a leader and those types of people are hard to find.”

The soft-spoken Foguth, a two-time team captain who is slated to graduate with a law enforcement degree this spring, says his role with the team and as a captain specifically, has grown during the course of his career.

“I’ve learned a lot along the way. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve taken being a captain more seriously. Both on the ice and off the ice.  As I’ve gotten to know Coach Hastings and having had other guys as captains my first two years, it’s been one of those deals where you learn expectations. I first served as an alternate captain as a sophomore, then becoming a captain the next year was the biggest change for me as it meant a different level of responsibility. One of the most important things is communicating the message from the coaches to the players and vice versa. That’s part of what I’ve learned and it’s important to be transparent with the guys.”

And relative what the expectations are as a player, Foguth harbors no illusions.

“It’s nice to score a goal every now and then, but that’s not my game. I take a lot of pride in shutting down the other teams’ offense. As a younger player, at first it was making sure to get into position, getting in that lane, being physical and having a good stick. But sometimes it seems that shots just seem to gravitate toward me in the defensive zone, but it’s positioning and anticipation.”

Again, as Hastings has said, nothing fancy. “As a person he’s five stars as far as I’m concerned. We put a lot of responsibility on him and he’s done a great job. He had a history of being  to handle himself before he came here as a junior hockey player. And he’s expanded on that as a member of our program here. He plays hard, he’s mentally tough and he cares for others. I’m not sure you could ask any more of a player and of one who is expected to be a leader for your team.”