Pressures of athletics cut down participation

Pressures of athletics cut down participation

by Will Steingreaber

The six-month odyssey of body and mind that is a basketballseason is one long, grueling journey that even the most dedicatedathletes find hard to endure.

From October to March, Simpson’s finest basketball playersgather in the confines of Cowles Fieldhouse to prepare for IIACbattle. Yet at the end of the season, when all is said and done,the Argus-eyed fan can’t help but notice that a few of the familiarfaces they had once cheered for are now just faces in thecrowd.

According to Men’s head coach Bruce Wilson, each fall usually 35to 40 athletes suit up in the raggedy, red practice jerseys tobecome a part of the Simpson Storm. Like natural selection, noteveryone survives the treacherous trek. During the course of atypical season, only about 25 brave souls make it all they way toMarch.

At the beginning of this season there were 36 members. Todaythere are 24 bleeding red and gold. It seems kosher enough, butafter perusing through the latest team roster, one gets the feelingthere’s something uniquely unorthodox about this particularseason.

To say that Josh Richter was an integral part of the men’sbasketball team’s success last season would be a dramaticunderstatement. Richter played valuable minutes and etched his nameinto the NCAA record books with a 10 for 10 three-point field goalperformance. Coming into his senior season, Richter held highexpectations for both himself and the team and planned to be amajor contributor. Yet as the fall turned to winter, he wassideswiped by an unnerving epiphany.

“The game just wasn’t fun anymore; it was more frustrating thanit was fun,” Richter said.

His decision to quit the game he loves was a tough one,predicated by disillusionment both in the game and with his role onthe team. Yet Richter stated that despite missing the camaraderieof the team, he is much happier now.

“For the first time I am feeling the benefits of being a normalcollege student. It’s great,” said Richter.

Senior Mike Tiedeman took a different path to and from collegebasketball. Heavily recruited out of high school to play footballfor the Storm, Tiedeman’s basketball skills were a relative unknownto coach Wilson and his staff.

Tiedeman used his humble status to his advantage; working hardto prove he deserved a spot on the hardwood as well as thegridiron. After a successful freshman and sophomore campaign,Tiedeman took last season off to recover from the bangs and bruisesof football.

This year, however, following a tremendous season on turf, heapproached basketball wholeheartedly. But his high expectations,too, encountered a harsh realization- that he needed to concentrateon his final months of school-and so he put the game behind him forgood.

“Playing so many sports in college puts you behind in school, soit was important that I concentrated on academics. I’ll always haveregrets about quitting-there are pro’s and con’s to everything-butI still think I made the right choice,” said Tiedeman.

Junior Bryan Blum may have taken the most aberrant route to theSimpson basketball team. Blum was recruited out of high school, butchose instead to play at Emmanuel College in Boston, Massachusetts.Finding he needed to be closer to his roots, Blum packed up hisbags after one season in the bitter northeast and headed home toIowa.

Last year, Blum faced a team full of older, more experiencedplayers. His expectations were minimal, but this season Blum fullyexpected to don the varsity red and gold. After six weeks ofintense practice and frustrating results, Blum decided to call itquits.

“It’s a self-perpetuating system. When you are placed on thelower team in practice you feel like you have to work twice as hardto get to the higher team. When you’re on the higher team, you feelyou have to work that hard just to maintain your spot. It’s a lotof pressure,” said Blum

Today Blum feels much less stress and doesn’t miss the dreadedthought of practice staring him in the face when he wakes up.

Coach Wilson said it’s a tough spot to be in, for both playerand coach.

“24 players is an ideal number to have, but that’s predicated byour facility during the season. You hate to see guys quit the game,but for certain players it probably is best for them. In manycases, though, it can hurt the team. Last year when Jason Snyderquit, that hurt our team. Luckily, he’s back this year. It’s reallya question of balance; is it worth it or not to play,” saidWilson.

Fortunately for Wilson and his staff, despite the high-profileplayers who have hung up their sneakers this season, Simpsonbasketball is still kicking. The Storm are 6-6 thus far, andjudging by their play as of late, the future looks promising.

Richter, Tiedeman, and Blum couldn’t be happier for them.

“Just because it didn’t work out with me doesn’t mean I’m bitteror holding grudges with the coaches or players. It’s my school andmy friends out there, we should all support them,” said Blum.