Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Happy Birthday Zekey and Emmy!

Due to many different sets of circumstances, we were unable to get together to celebrate Zeke's birthday (January 6th) and Emmy's birthday (March 4th) until this past weekend. It was a long time coming, but everyone was there and it was a fun, special weekend. The kids were so much fun. I've included several pictures from our weekend together.
I caught Emmy and Zeke's cousin Zoe doing a little jig in front of the mirror. It was so cute because she didn't know anyone was watching her.
The table was set and we were ready to eat.
Aunt Kelley grabs Emmy for a special birthday picture.
Emmy loved her presents!
Emmy found the magic string that released the pinata!
Everyone dives for the candy!
Zeke and Elijah play with his racetrack from Aunt Andrea and Uncle Jon.

Pretty as a princess!
Chick Magnet~ You got that right! What a doll!
Zeke (With a little help from Zoe) blows out the candles on his race car cake made by Grandma Syswerda.
Emmy blows out the candles on her Barbie cake (also made by Grandma Syswerda).

Elijah and Cousin Noah pose for a special picture with the birthday girl.

After the party, our family headed to the hotel for a little fun in the pool. Uncle Jon give Zeke a birds eye view.
Daddy and Emmy have a sweet moment.
Zeke's a wild man. No fear here.
Elijah is quite the swimmer.

The Grates!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

A Hero's Welcome

The wildcats were welcomed home with a hero's welcome. The Police and firetrucks met them at the county line as they were arriving back in Marion Wednesday night. They escorted them with sirens wailing to the Luckey Gymnasium where a crowd of students were waiting to welcome them home.
This nice banner was posted near the gym doors.
Thursday evening, the school held a rally to applaud the efforts and successes of both the men's and women's teams. As you can see it was a full house!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Well, where do I start? My heart is full to over-flowing. I am so proud of my Wildcats!!! Tonight turned out a little differently than I thought. I had originally planned to spend the evening with the Porters, but ended up at my friend Heidi's. I'd like to explain how that switch occured. I have struggled with my emotions through this whole thing. I feel a little silly saying that, but I don't think I can explain how much I support this team. I pray for them and put my whole heart into their games. I have watched every game through the tournament by myself. I have been quiet and introspective. I have screamed and hollared. I have jumped up and down, etc. I just started realizing today that I didn't think I could watch this game with other people. I didn't have it in me to be social. I had decided that I would just purchase the game and watch it on my computer. I was sharing this with Heidi on the way home and she said, "Why don't you watch it at my house?" We have 2 TV's so you can have the basement to yourself. It ended up being the perfect solution. I know the Porters were more than willing to have me and I hope they know how much I appreciate the offer, but I knew, I needed to be by myself. I sat with tears streaming down my face as the girls were given their awards. Their tears, joy and exuberance was so enjoyable to watch. Steph Culp won the tournament hustle award and Liz Howerth won the tournament MVP; two huge honors! The win wasn't as pretty as they probably would have liked. After Monday night's shooting clinic against Cedarville, we struggled on offense, but everyone knows that defence wins championships and tonight that certainly held true. We held a team that averages 80 pts. a game to 33 pts. Can't beat that! To the Lady Kats ~ Congruatulations! There is no more deserving team! You've certainly given us a fairy tale season; undefeated 38-0! To my best friend Sue ~ Congratulations; now get home and take care of your dog! She's driving me nuts and hogging the bed! :)

Monday, March 12, 2007

Overwhelmed! IWU 93- Cedarville 56

This is the only word I can think of to describe how I feel right now. My Lady Kats are headed to the National Champtionship game tomorrow night. I screamed, hooped and hollared as we had the game of our lives tonight. They ran right over Cedarville from the word go finishing with a 93-56 win. A statement was definitly made. To those doubting if they deserve the #1 ranking, I think they showed that they most certainly do. How about Sarah McGill? She was on fire! 31 pts!!! Tears flowed as Breanne Miller hit a bucket at the end of the game. Those who don't know her situation, she is recovering from cancer and has not been able to play, but coach put her in the last 2 min. and she was able to score. The team went nuts, and I cried. Big surprise I know. I so badly want to be there. As their #1 fan, I should be there. But, circumstances are going to keep me here in Indiana unfortunately. I will be watching though thanks to my good friends, the Porters. Luckily, Doug gets the station that is televising the final game. I'm not sure how I'm going to sleep tonight. My adrenaline is pumping. You would think I played the game. :) Sue just called and she's definitly on a high. These are memories they'll never forget. She asks that everyone say a prayer for calm, confidence and that they'll play to the best of their God given abilites.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Sixth Man and More Than Just a Team

These blogs were posted on the IWU Tournament coverage site. I thought they were awesome and described this team that I love to root for so well.

The Sixth Man

One of the most exciting games I have ever seen live occurred today when the Lady Wildcats defeated the #2 seeded Hastings who was last years national championships. This was not an easy win by any means. IWU pulled out a defense that has not been seen all year...The Zone...and ran it very very very well. Wildcats won the game by the score of 61-52, but it was not until the late minutes that IWU pulled away. Hastings had cut it to a one point game, but a Liz Howerth Three, and then a steal and a layup put them up by 6. Then with the shot clock winding down, Sarah McGill fired up and off balanced shot beyond the arc to beat the shot clock and banked it in. It was then the Wildcats knew they had the game sealed. This was not the ordinary Wildcats...Their late production came out of no where. Hastings had the Wildcats on their heals, until those last few minutes.The buzzer sounded, Wildcats shook hands without a yell of excitement. There was a prayer in the middle of the court and they walked to the locker room with their heads held high. Once they were in the locker room as Ryan and I chased them in to find footage. There were screams for joy. Liz Howerth said, "There was another strength out there playing other than us." It was the sixth man. The Wildcats all year have used the phrase an Audience of One. And today the first thing Coach Brooks said in the locker room was "We played and praised God with our playing today, and that is what we are here for. We know what has got us here, and it is all for him." If you watched the game you knew it was true, because these girls came out of no where and were hitting shots they couldn't hit, or shouldn't of made. There was something different about this team.The team knows it was not themselves who had the talent to win, but someone bigger than them...someone bigger than the game of basketball. Ask any of the players and they will say God came through for them today, and they could not of done it without him. Think about that...it is more than just a "team effort" it is a "God effort". They relied on the one being who gives them the gifts they have, and knew it was in his hands. Now am I saying God decided basketball games? I don't know...I am not God, but the girls know there was a sixth man out on the court today they allowed them to knock down their shots, play God honoring basketball, and keep their heads held high...no matter what the outcome was. When the girls got back to the locker room, the first thing they did was pray. Thanked God for the ability to play, for the ability to have fun and honor him. Then the celebrating began. It is just amazing to see that they know there is a player they could not forget, and put first before celebration. A God Honoring team, honored their Sixth man as they pulled through an Elite Eight game and on to the Final Four.

More Than Just a Team

I just witnessed the most amazing thing I have ever seen with the Indiana Wesleyan Lady Wildcats, but it was not on the court. All year you have heard about the Lady Wildcats and how they play…how they are the number one team in the nation…and how they are undefeated. As the voice for the Lady Wildcats I have seen every attribute of them…so I thought. Tonight I got to see a sight of the Lady Wildcats and coach Steve brooks that many never see…I had the opportunity to step in on the team devotions tonight, and I must say I will never ever view these Lady Wildcats or Steve Brooks the same way again.A couple of weeks ago Coach Brooks took time to talk about the spiritual life of the Lady Wildcats on WIWU’s Wildcat Week, but other than Brooks’ televised statement of the girls faith, knowing the girls personally, or knowing the Wildcats are from a Christian University, one might not know what role faith takes in their life. Especially at the national tournament where nobody knows who these girls are other than their records. I never fully understood it until tonight.On the Court you see Coach Brooks with a red face, and yelling at his girls even if they are playing well. Today in the locker room when the girls were up 30-9 Coach screamed his head off, because the girls were not playing to potential. But tonight a somber Coach Brooks showed his soft side. I was blown away to see Coach Brooks laughing with his players, joking with his players, teasing his players, and opening his heart to his players. It was then I realized this is not a team, it is a family. Brooks didn’t have 15 players; he had 15 daughters in the room. Not only did the faith pour out of the coach, it poured out of the players. “We wish everyone could get to know him that way,” Said Katie Hinkle.I was intrigued by my discovery of a deeper side of the Lady Wildcats and wanted to dig deeper, so I sat down with Katie Hinkle and Sarah McGill to talk for a bit. “I wasn’t brought up in a Christian home, and coach introduced me to this idea of having God in my life and living out my faith on a daily basis” Said McGill. The girls have a motto and to them it is more important than “playing on Monday”, it is their life motto as athletes. “Play for an audience of one.” Hinkle and McGill explained by playing for God alone relieves the pressure of wanting to do well for the fans or for coach or for themselves. “You are there to glorify God, because he is the only one that matters. Playing with your faith is a life changing experience. Coming to Indiana Wesleyan was one of the best choices I have ever made” McGill said. Hinkle explained that faith is dominant in their team. “In your faith you are required to lean on one another. If you try and do it on your own, you will fall flat on your face. And I think it relates to basketball because we have tremendous pressure put on us, and we have to look to one another. We have to become servants to each other. If we look inward to handle the pressure then we will build the pressure and fail. By having weekly devotions we see it is more than just about me. It is about us. And I think it shows why we are so successful on the court.”The Wildcats show their faith by their actions. Bob’s Point After is the sponsoring team for Indiana Wesleyan University, and owner Bob Roe says the team is “different” and is what he loves about the Wildcats. “We try to live out our lives as encouragements towards others and hope they see Christ in our lives. It is so much more than basketball; we pour our lives out with our faith.” Hinkle and McGill explained.By living out their faith, it draws the Lady Wildcats into unity. McGill said, “We are real with each other, we are vulnerable with each other, we trust each other on a deeper level, and we know we are there for each other.” The ladies went on to explain through growing in their faith; they have grown closer as a unit. “Everyone comes with a different level of spirituality, but we want everyone on the same page going the right direction” Hinkle said. The seniors told me they bring the freshmen girls in and show them what a relationship with God is and hope they would catch the idea of growing together as sisters in Christ and not just as a basketball team.The team has obviously caught on with this philosophy, because I now know why this is the best team out on the court. It is not because of skill, but because of chemistry. It is not because these girls have played together for 4 years; it is because these girls have grown in their faith together for 4 years. The results show on the court. This team plays to the rhythm of a different beat, and playing for an audience of one. I hope by reading this, you receive some insight that many do not get to see in the team. The Lady Wildcats are the best team out on the court. They are not the best because of their record; they are the best because of who they are.

Final 4 Baby!!!

The lady Kats have just won their 3rd round national tournament game to advance to the final 4 on Monday. They will play at 7:00 against the winner of Taylor vs. Cedarville. Sue just called and is understandably emotional and very excited. I'm so proud of them!! Pray that they will relax today and tomorrow as they look toward Monday night.