Tag Archive | towson

She Is Kacy, Watch Her Soar

Ninja, shminja. BRING IT!

Ninja, shminja. BRING IT!

Normally I define “sports” as activities involving sweat, sprints and the occasional DUI. It’s easy to forget sometimes that the Lloyd Dobler’s out there could be right: kickboxing really did turn out to be the sport of the future. Some of the most worth-watching athletic pursuits may be more basic than baby mama drama.

So when my friend Salil Maniktahla, who with his wife Malikah owns the Urban Evolution gym chain, told me about Kacy Catanzaro’s performance on NBC’s “America Ninja Warrior,” I stopped my eyeballs mid-roll and tuned in.

Besides, mid-July is a terrible time for sports fans. When baseball takes its mid-season break, there is nothing on but the British Open and the Tour de France—neither of which I’m watching at 3am. This had to be better than all-Lebron, all the time.

And wow was Salil right. “#MightyKacy” – a 5-foot, 100-pound former Division I gymnast – became the first woman to complete the ANW regional final obstacle course in Dallas last week. And if you haven’t seen the video, I mean, wow. This pint-sized powerhouse, who gives her “free runner” boyfriend a run for his money training each day, pulls moves I haven’t seen SEALs master. Better yet, her performance not only went crazy viral, but it shows that women can compete in the most grueling of environments.

Mount Midiyorama, or as Kacy calls it, just an average Tuesday.

Mount Midoriyama, or as Kacy calls it, just an average Tuesday.

“These obstacles are meant to be difficult for athletes in peak condition,” says Salil, whose gym teaches parkour, gymnastics, breakdancing and all the other stuff that was fun when we were kids before real life came along and ruined it all.

“There’s some bias towards men in the course design: lots of tests of hanging, upper body strength, and grip strength, and there are situations where physical reach (or “wingspan,” as many people call it) is a factor. So it’s really remarkable that a 5-foot woman (who admittedly is in great condition and has worked hard, and is a Division 1 gymnast) has done so well on the course. You can’t help but root for her, because she’s exactly who we all want to win.”

Next she moves on to the finals in Las Vegas, on the U.S. version of “Mount Midoriyama,” an obstacle course designed based on the original Japanese series, and which is considered the most difficult in the world. The first Mount Midoriyama has been tried 2,700 times and completed only four times—twice by the same person.

But a $500,000 grand prize—and proving that women rock at rock-climbing and more—will be enough motivation. Go Kacy!



FBS, BCS, WTF??? Frozen Cheese, a Flopping Foot, and How Hip Is My Mom?

1–Living in Washington DC, you get used to a lot of acronyms: CIA, POTUS, IRS, OMG the NSA sees my FB? But the government has nothing on football championship nomenclature.

Tonight, Auburn and Florida State face off in the “Football Bowl Subdivision” (FBS, previously NCAA “Division I-A” football) Bowl Championship Series (BCS) Championship Presented by Vizio, Dorito’s, Capital One and My Hairdresser. FBS championships are not actually sanctioned by the NCAA, but instead determined by a controversial ranking system (the BCS) and a whole lotta sponsorship money.

Dude, if you freeze to death at this game, it's not that hat I'll eat!

Dude, if you freeze to death at this game, it’s not that hat I’m gonna eat!

On Saturday, there was another Division-I NCAA college football championship between the “Football Championship Series” (FCS, traditionally known as “Division I-AA”) teams. After a month-long playoff tournament, finalist North Dakota State defeated Towson (Md.), 35-7 for the Bison’s third-straight national title. (By the way, Northwest Missouri State was the 2013 Division II winner, and Wisconsin-Whitewater won Division III.) FBS teams will adopt their own playoff system beginning in 2014,  producing what proponents argue will be a “true” champion. The new approach has its critics, but at least we can give the alphabet a little bit of a rest.

2–Green Bay is famous for many things—“Cheeseheads,” Vince Lombardi, the Lambeau Leap, and Butt. Cold. Football. Sunday wasn’t quite the 1967 “Ice Bowl” between Green Bay and Dallas, when the temperature was an all-time game low of minus-13. Pundits geeked out about the potential blizzard conditions all week for the nighttime NFC Wild Card match-up between Green Bay and San Francisco. And temps came close at a balmy 5 degrees. But in the end, the story actually became the game itself, which saw the 49ers top the Packers 23-20 after superb performances from quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers (newly returned from a broken collarbone) and San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick (who rushed for 98 yards to become the fifth-highest rushing quarterback in NFL history). Also advancing in this weekend’s playoffs: New Orleans, San Diego and Indianapolis.

3—With its crime, jobless rate, and bankruptcy that had the city seeking to sell off works of art, it’s rare Detroit has anything to celebrate. But Red Wing fans enjoyed the Winter Classic New Year’s Day, the NHL’s annual outdoor hockey game, despite losing to the Toronto Blue Jays, 3-2. At the University of Michigan’s “The Big House” stadium (where Michigan football usually plays), 105,000 people watched the teams battle each other and a steady snow that kept rink managers busy, skating back and forth between plays pushing shovels. During intermissions, fans enjoyed family activities, the introduction of the U.S. Women’s Olympic Hockey Team, and the Zac Brown Band.

4—Ronda Rousey retained her women’s bantamweight championship title, defeating Miesha Tate Saturday night in the second-ever women’s UFC Championship. It was the eighth consecutive victory for Rousey, a former Olympic judo medalist. After the bout, Rousey turned her back on her opponent’s handshake—the two also face off regularly on the reality show The Ultimate Fighter.

But it was the main men’s fight, a middleweight rematch between Chris Weidman and Anderson Silva, that stole the show (and had people grabbing for the nearest trash can). In the second round, the two men’s shins collided on simultaneous kicks, snapping Silva’s leg in half on live TV, with a result that resembled…um I don’t know…imagine you are wearing a long winter sock with the foot full of sand, and you are flopping it around in 360 degree circles. Weidman had handed Silva his first defeat in 17 bouts two months ago with a total knockout. Silva vows he will return to the ring.

(And of course, here’s the video. I used the Brazilian version so that maybe the Portuguese is a distraction from the carnage. No? Oh well.)

5–Speaking of gruesome breaks, just a quick tip of the hat to my mother Betsy, who fell and broke her hip the week before Christmas. A lifelong athlete, coach and a Senior Olympian who still holds records in track and field, she’s back home and on the mend–far sooner than she might have if not for making health and exercise such a priority in her daily life. We can’t change our genes or avoid freak accidents (in her case, tripping over the Geeksquad guy as she was hanging Christmas decorations), but we can prepare ourselves better for lifelong health by staying active through sports, the gym, or even just walking the dog (which isn’t so bad for him either!) Go Mom!