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RING IT IN: After trying four sports, Sam Swart is “all in” to bring Syracuse a NCAA championship

first_imgSam Swart looked around Gary Gait’s office, and her eyes wandered toward a small box on top of one of his bookshelves. Gait and Swart’s mother, Maryann, were talking about a potential verbal commitment to Syracuse when Swart walked over and opened it.As the lid slid open, Swart opened her mouth: “Wow, really?” They both turned her way, pausing their discussion. Swart observed the mob of Gait’s rings  — conference titles, NCAA title runs and professional accolades. Maryann told her to put them back. But Gait laughed. In seconds, Swart filled her tiny hands with the jewelry, one ring per finger until they were filled.“When she had those rings on,” Maryann said, “she felt like a champion.”The eighth-grader, days away from committing to No. 13 Syracuse, knew she wanted her own. She starred in three sports — lacrosse, field hockey and basketball — at her high school, Archbishop John Carroll (Pennsylvania). They led her to become the versatile left-handed midfielder she is today.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIf it wasn’t for basketball, she wouldn’t know how to juke. Without spin moves on the pitch, she couldn’t blow by collegiate lacrosse defenders. Swart’s breakout first season, in which she was third on SU with 36 goals, has led Gait to call her one of his hardest working players and one of the Orange’s best two-way midfielders. It’s a byproduct of her multisport repertoire. And for now, she’s “all-in” on Syracuse lacrosse.“It’s kinda sad, to be honest. I’m not as busy,” Swart said. “It’s kinda a break for me, but it’s also a chance to become a better player.”,Swart watched her sister, Gabrielle, win state and national titles, eventually earning a spot on the United States travel gymnastics team. But Gabrielle “blew out” her knee before the Olympics, and effectively ended her gymnastics career.Eventually, the thought of ending up injured, like her sister, scared Swart, so she quit. Gabrielle still struggled to find a new focus. One day, the then-13-year-old Swart tricked her sister to practice field hockey with her.“I didn’t tell her I was teaching her,” Swart said. “She would’ve been mad.”“Help me insert the ball,” Swart said to her. Gabrielle did. Swart needed someone to pass to, then. That’s not too much to ask, Gabrielle thought. “Can you score on the run, now, like me?” Swart said to her. Gabrielle got the hang of field hockey, even enjoyed playing it. Swart redirected the coaches scouting her for a potential field hockey scholarship to her older sister.Gabrielle played field hockey for Kutztown after her middle school sister taught her the basics. She didn’t need to only do gymnastics, be one-dimensional. Swart didn’t need to be, either.• • •In seventh grade, Swart saw Gait in the distance at a local lacrosse game she was playing in. She knew him, and of course the school he coached. The 12 year old thought back to her pair of “Jordan Melo” basketball sneakers that her dad, Mike, gave her two years prior. She remembered all of the Syracuse basketball games they shared together in their Coopersburg, Pennsylvania, home then.Gabrielle could see Swart was nervous about approaching Gait. Her older sister had been through it before: she’d committed to Louisville as an eighth grader. She told Swart to just tell him her name, why she’s so fast and determined, what she desires. Speak from your heart, she said. Swart was ready, but then she opened her mouth.“Hi, I’m Sam. I’m from Philly, but you probably don’t really care,” Swart said to Gait. “I want to play for you.”Gait nodded. He said he’d see her around. Their first interaction may have not gone as planned, Gabrielle said, but Swart knew her future: She wanted to play lacrosse for Syracuse. Swart liked the finesse of lacrosse, how it wasn’t a traditional game like field hockey. There were always new moves, dodges, shots that could be done.A 40-mile move from her middle school in Coopersburg to Archbishop Carroll solidified her commitment to lacrosse but didn’t end her multisport madness. Waking up to an hour, sometimes 90-minute drive to Radnor forced Swart to call the school’s secretary, Barbara Volpe, and tell her she’d miss homeroom. After classes came practice and games for two, even three different sports in a day. Regularly, Maryann — who didn’t want to make the trip back home across eastern Pennsylvania — would wait in her car, sometimes up to five hours after lacrosse practice ended.,When Swart got home, usually at about 9:30 p.m., it wouldn’t stop. Hundreds of shots on her front lawn in the dark swung into her new Christmas gift, her own lacrosse net. Her skills grew, eventually earning her the nickname “Lightning” from teammates because of her speed.Swart slowly started to eliminate basketball from her life, divvying her time into field hockey and lacrosse. In lacrosse, Carroll rattled off 17-straight victories in Swart’s final season. And after she was double and triple-teamed in Carroll’s final two playoff games, she scored the school’s two final goals in its state championship win.After the title, Swart ordered a state championship ring engraved with her grandfather’s initials, but it surprised her.“She was like ‘Wow this is so small compared to Gary’s rings,’” Maryann said.• • •Swart had fully committed to playing lacrosse as a ninth grader, but the possibility of playing field hockey loomed in her mind when she joined the U-19 U.S. national team, coached by SU head coach Ange Bradley. Bradley knew Swart’s priority was lacrosse, Swart said, but kept an open offer to the incoming freshman.After four years of anticipation to play for her dream team and coach, Swart was locked out. Her inaugural fall ball, preseason before her freshman season, was canceled due to a mumps outbreak. Her key cards in Manley Field House were denied. The freshman had to wait longer.,What ensued was described by Swart and Gait as a “weird” season. Syracuse posted its first losing record in program history. Multiple leads were blown in the waning minutes of games. But one of the only positives from the season was Swart’s play. She scored in all but two of SU’s 19 games, but shuffled in and out of the starting lineup. In the Orange’s lone NCAA Tournament game, Swart started and scored when SU was down 9-3, sparking a run of eight goals in 30 minutes to give it the lead.A game prior, Syracuse, a team that hadn’t won its first conference game until April 22, played the first round of the ACC Tournament against North Carolina. The Tar Heels scored seven of the first eight goals and dominated SU thoroughly. Swart was held without a goal and turned the ball over four times in the 21-12 loss.After years of bouncing from sport-to-sport, practice-to-practice and game-to-game, Maryann remembered the then-freshman dart to the busing area in her Syracuse uniform after the game. Gait was right behind Swart, waiting to comfort her. It was one of the first times Maryann had seen her daughter cry after a game.Despite the disappointing season, it was the first time in Swart’s life that she was fully dedicated to lacrosse.“I wasn’t expecting everything I have now,” Swart said. “It’s really a gift from God.”The possibility of playing other sports still lingers in her mind. Swart recently brought her field hockey stick back up to college, Maryann said. She also entertains the idea of playing a graduate year for Bradley, throwing out “maybe” after every claim.But for now, the sophomore just wants a bigger ring. Photos by Max Freund | Staff Photographer,Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment.last_img read more

Chiliz’s CEO Alexandre Dreyfus on the $27m investment: Get the fans involved

first_imgA strong advisory board with well known people from the esports industry, such as Fnatic’s CEO Wouter Sleijffers, Team Vitality’s CEO Nicolas Maurer, streamer “Dr Disrespect” and former players such as Hong “yellOw” Jin-Ho and a big first investment of $27m with an aim to change the esports industry, certainly raises some eyebrows.We decided we had to find out more and so booked a meeting with Alexandre Dreyfus, chiliZ’s CEO.From left to right, chiliZ’s Chief Strategy Officer, Max Rabinovitch; Chief Technology Officer, Thibaut Pelletier; and Chief Executive Officer, Alexandre DreyfusEsports Insider: Can you briefly describe what chiliZ is and who you are?Alexandre Dreyfus: People describe me as a web entrepreneur, but Mediarex is a global sports and entertainment company that has been around since 2006. The team is made up of 20+ creatives, developers and gaming industry veterans, myself included. As well as developing chiliZ, we also run The Hendon Mob, the biggest live poker database in the world. ChiliZ is our venture into the esports world, and we aim to organise, empower and connect fans to players and teams in today’s most popular leagues and tournaments. We believe there are two challenges facing the esports world – the first is fan engagement, and the second is monetisation and funding. We have thought long and hard on how we can get fans more engaged, to transition them from passive spectators to becoming actively involved in the teams and leagues they support, and we believe the answer lies in, what we call, democratised team management.“We want to create the next generation of esports leagues”Just like the way in which traditional football clubs like Real Madrid and FC Barcelona are governed by their fans, teams on the chiliZ platform will be managed by their fans. This solves the problem of fan engagement but also allows fans to fund their favourite organisations in exchange for a say in how they are managed. We want to create the next generation of esports leagues, and by this we mean leagues driven by the fans. ESI: You decided to do a token sale and go the blockchain route. Why do this instead of more traditional funding methods?Alexandre: There are basically two different reasons behind this choice. The first one is technical. We needed a foundation  that was transparent, where information could not be altered, and this was blockchain. This leads us to the second point, which is more of a legal standpoint – in order to enforce this transparency – for a fan to have a binding right of ownership over the voting rights, we needed a token system, where the token is attached to this legal right.ESI: So how does the token fit into this then? What can you use it for?Alexandre: Once a team joins the chiliZ platform, the organisations are basically selling the voting rights for management decisions. These decisions could be things like who should be on the roster, which maps to play in CS:GO or for which games to have tournaments. The voting rights are connected to the chiliZ tokens – by buying more of them, the more voting rights a fan would have.“The organisations are basically selling the voting rights for management decisions”In exchange for voting rights, the teams and organisations will get access to funds, as well as fans, that they previously did not have. It should also result in a more invested fanbase, as the fans have, quite literally, invested in the team. So it is basically a new way of engaging fans, but also a new way to monetise those fans for the teams and organisations.ESI: What problem do you see yourself solving that traditional funding models have failed to solve?Alexandre: I don’t like to use the phrase “solving problems”.I rather see it as we invent and evolve something new. However, the esports industry needs funding, and we can offer the industry funding through increased fan engagement. In exchange for that funding, the organisations and teams will have to give up some decision rights to the fans who have provided that  funding. What we give, that traditional funding models do not, is the opportunity to basically run a “mini-ICO” on our platform, to raise money for such things as new rosters, player acquisitions and inclusion of new games.ESI: You received a large amount of money, $27m (£19.8m), how will you use these funds?Alexandre: It is a lot of money, no doubt. However, we feel that we need that to fuel this initiative. We don’t want to risk running out of runway and be out in a year.We’re in this for the long term, to onboard leagues and teams. We probably need to acquire companies and assets. There are many good ideas out there that would do good being part of a bigger group than standing alone.We are already in talks with various teams, with the aim of onboarding 6-10 organisations by the end of this year.ESI: You come from the poker world that was booming, but then ran into trouble and is now in a more stagnant state. Did you learn anything from your stint there that you can avoid doing in esports?Alexandre: (laughing) I think blaming the whole failure of the poker industry on me would be a bit harsh!“We believe there are two challenges facing the esports world – the first is fan engagement, and the second is monetisation and funding“The problem for poker is that the game did not, and has not, evolved. Fifteen years ago, the game looked basically the same as it does today while everything else has changed and improved. If you are not evolving, you will eventually run into trouble. VR might change this, but it is not a mainstream enough product to save the poker world. Esports on the other hand is evolving faster than ever and is in a constant flux of reinvention with new games and game formats, so I just don’t see esports running into the same problems as poker.ESI: You have a very strong advisory board. How did you reason around that decision?Alexandre: For us it was not about the money.Many companies that are doing ICOs have an advisory board to maximize how much money they raise. As you can see we did not have that problem. We rather focused on two different areas. We have one advisory board focused on how to build a profitable and sustainable business. But we also needed the experts in the esports industry to help us build a network and reach the right audience.ESI: This all sounds very interesting, finally let’s ask the media favourite – where do you see esports in a few years from now?Alexandre: For me esports is an entertainment product. Not only competitive gaming, but it is entertainment and we need to build on that. For us, the fans are the key to that and that is where we see esports in a few years time – having fans a lot more connected. So, in a few years time the “e” in esports is not just for “electronic”, but rather “entertainment sports”.ESI ConclusionsDuring our chat it was  evident what a passionate leader Alexandre is and how much he believes in how they can change and more importantly improve the industry. They have certainly got the financial backing to succeed as well as a strong team of talent and advisors. Looking at their website they are recruiting for even more people from within the industry so if you are considering sunny Malta and have that experience, you should head over to have a look. We are sure that we will hear more about chiliZ going forward and we be sure to follow up and see how their plans are taking shape in the future.last_img read more

Woods fires final-round 68 as Fowler wins Hero World Challenge

first_imgFowler finished four shots in front of fellow American Charley Hoffman, the overnight leader by five strokes who carded a final-round 72 for 274.Jordan Spieth, tied for second to start the round, fired a final-round 69 to share third on 276 with England’s Tommy Fleetwood, who signed for a 67. Woods finished tied for ninth with Matt Kuchar in the unofficial 18-man event that benefits his charitable foundation.A back-nine double-bogey and two bogeys to finish took some wind out of Woods’s sails, but the 41-year-old superstar, playing for the first time since February after yet another back surgery in April, found plenty to be encouraged about.Most importantly, he said, he played all week without pain.“Overall, I’m very pleased. I showed some good signs,” he said, adding that they pointed toward “a bright future”.Woods’s impressive display off the tee included a monster drive at the par-four seventh that led to his eagle.That was just one of the shots that delighted an enthusiastic gallery following the 14-time major champion that included Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal.“I knew I was going to be able to play all four rounds, that wasn’t going to be an issue,” said Woods, who also missed all of the 2015-16 season with back trouble.“The issue was how my scoring was going to be, how was my feel? How am I going to get used to the adrenaline in my system, because it’s the first time in a while.“That took a little bit of time,” added Woods, who finished the week with rounds of 69, 68, 75 and 68.“I was still scratchy with my irons,” he said. “I drove it pretty good all week, made some good putts.”Share on: WhatsApp FILE PHOTOMiami, United States | AFP | Tiger Woods capped his return to competition with a fine four-under par 68 on Sunday as red-hot Rickie Fowler won the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.Former world number one Woods, who once wondered if nagging back trouble would spell the end of his career, had an eagle and six birdies to finish 72 holes on eight-under par 280.That never put him within striking distance of Fowler, who produced a remarkable course-record 61 on the par-72 Albany Golf Club layout.Fowler birdied the first seven holes, and eight holes on the front nine. After birdies at 11, 13 and 15 was eyeing golf’s magic number of 59.No more birdies were forthcoming, however, and Fowler settled for a course-record 61 and a total of 18-under 270.last_img read more

Explained: The phenomenon of a ‘bio-bubble’ in Sports

first_imgAdvertisement z4h0NBA Finals | Brooklyn VsnxlWingsuit rodeo📽Sindre E5ds4arm( IG: @_aubreyfisher @imraino ) yxoWould you ever consider trying this?😱4gCan your students do this? 🌚f2Roller skating! Powered by Firework Over the last two odd months, one term has been trending in the world of sports and that is ‘bio bubbles’.Advertisement In an unprecedented situation given the pandemic, the sporting world has been forced to adopt new techniques in order to have live-action, and ‘bio bubble’ is preceding over social distancing and thermal testing.So what exactly is a bio-bubble, how does it work!? We try and decode this latest “bubble” that floats in the news every day.Advertisement What is a bio-bubbleThe Bio-bubble literally means to create an atmosphere, which is cut off from the outside world, just like isolation. In cricket, to make things easier players and support staff are put up at hotels ideally at stadiums, thus limiting the risk of spread of the virus.Furthermore, there are areas which have been demarcated with testing sites, forming green zones where particular groups are allowed to go within the inner core of the venues, such as training centres, gyms or field of play.Advertisement The facility would have restricted media movement, with fewer headcount than usual. Due to the curb on movement, spending a lot of time on your own-wearing masks and maintaining social distance can be a cultural shock, but this has to be considered the new normal.Is the bio-bubble foolproofThe concept for the bio bubble is that the number of people in the enclosure can be controlled, thus limiting the chances of spreading the virus considerably. In the ongoing Test series between England and the West Indies, the England Cricket Board (ECB) has added a number of protocols to be followed for safety reasons.The common yardstick is that everyone who enters the bubble will have to get rested and the maximum advisable number in a bubble, including the players, media, venue staffers and support staff should not exceed 200-250.In addition, a bio-secure bubble is advised to have additional isolation areas in case someone tests positive while inside it, not to mention it would cause a panic situation. Cricket’s governing body the ICC has recommended the presence of a chief medial or a bio-safety office to ensure all the respective government guidelines are followed during the course of the match.The players’ angleEngland’s leading wicket-taker James Anderson said the bio-bubble needs to be treated like a new norm.“Yeah, it’s been different, but it’s not… I can’t say it’s been hard because we’re in a hotel, you know, we’ve got nice surroundings,” he said. “We’re looked after well. And yes, we’ve had to do things slightly differently, but we’re getting to play cricket which is, you know, amazing really after the last few months. So we’re just grateful for that,” The Lancashire bowler said.Earlier, Indian batting legend Rahul Dravid had also raised doubts on the cricket’s restart and said that even if the ECB did manage to create a bubble it will be impossible for everyone to do it, with the kind of calendar that exists.England captain Joe Root undergoes a test at a bio-secured facility at Old Trafford Cricket Ground in Manchester, UK. Photo Credit: England CricketIPL’s future courseWith the IPL 2020 set to be played in the UAE starting September 19, the biggest focus would be on safe conditions for the players, their families, the team support staff and IPL officials alike.The IPL Governing Council (GC) are likely to set-up a biosecure atmosphere for teams, which will secure all the concerned from contracting COVID-19. This will be easier said than done and the BCCI, the IPL GC and organisers have to watch every step carefully given the magnitude of the tournament and the stakeholders involved.Most of the franchise on an individual level will start sending their recce teams to the UAE to inspect all the facilities and zero-in on prospect bio-secure facilities. The success of the tournament will depend on activities off the field, as much on it as the whole cricketing world will follow the developments with keen interest.In other sportsIn tennis, the Australian Open organisers have come up with a plan to host the 2021 edition in the bio-secured atmosphere with fewer spectators. Tennis has already taken a big hit with the most sought after grand slam Wimbledon cancelled citing the pandemic, while the future of the French Open and the US Open is up in the air.So for the Australian Open, slated to take place in January 2021 in Melbourne-the plan is to allow half as many spectators inside the Melbourne Park tennis complex, Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley informed. Three things the organisers are banking on are social distancing, players in secure bio bubble and no overseas spectators!Just like tennis, the sport of golf too has seen altered plans with the European Tour chiefs planning for bio bubble for golfers on the circuit. The 2020 British Masters, hosted by Lee Westwood was the first tournament to witness the bio-bubble environment- which admittedly was not everyone’s cup of tea with a few players falling short to adapt to it.Initially, many ‘experts’ were apprehensive about the bio bubble, but with the success of the new environment from cricketers-it will lay the blueprint for the future. Not just from cricket, but for sports in general!ALSO READ:How the IPL 2020 will affect India’s tour of Australia Advertisementlast_img read more