Chicago Bandits roster stocked with Big Ten Alumni

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Both the Big Ten conference and the conference television network are located here in Chicago; a city home (by a very great measure) to the largest alumni base for all 11 schools. So it makes sense that the Chicago Bandits softball franchise would include a large number of Big Ten alumni as well.

Bandits Big Ten roll call:

Michigan- Nikki Nemitz P, Samantha Findlay 1B, Angela Findlay OF

Iowa- Stacy May 3B

Northwestern– Eileen Canney P, Nicole Pauly OF

By Paul M. Banks

chicago bandits_nicole_pauly

Fittingly, the game I took in, an extra innings 4-3 win over the visiting Akron Racers, Big Ten alumni had a lot of consequence on the outcome. Stacy May, the Bandits’ first batter of the evening blasted a home run to deep center, and was hitting the ball hard all night. The Bandits lineup showed perfect symmetry as the last batter, Rachel Folden, also homered; ending the game. Akron’s losing pitcher, Jamee Juarez is an Ohio State alum. She threw seven strikeouts in eight innings and walked just one batter. Juarez also leads the Racers in batting average with .389, and had a single and a stolen base in the contest.

May, an Iowa alum (’06), still keeps tabs on her fellow Hawkeyes.

“We definitely know what’s going on, our coach just retired so we’ve been in touch about that,” May said before answering my postgame query about how former rivals in college come together in the pros.

“It’s nice to have them on your team and not playing against them anymore, because Michigan is a good program, obviously they put out some great players. And I just like playing with them, not having to face them anymore,” the 2008 NPF MVP said.

Big Ten expansion is still a current hot topic, so of course I had to ask the girls to opine on the subject.

“As far as softball goes and football goes, which are obviously the two sports I’m on top off, Nebraska in the Big Ten is awesome. I know there’s a lot of money stuff involved in it, but for somone like me- I love it,” said May a huge fan of the Big Ten Network. Good to know that someone else watches that channel as obsessively as I do.

“Just bringing more fans in, bringing more money in and getting more notoriety around the country, it’s a great thing that we’re expanding,” said rookie Nicole Pauly, who just graduated from Northwestern.

Pauly also talked about whether or not old Big Ten rivalries still exist on the Bandits roster. “Here and then we’ll make a joke, but now it’s really just all about the Bandits.” Chicago seems to be the only franchise in the NPF stocked with conference alumni.

“There’s really no big connections anywhere except for the Bandits,” said Pauly.

The Bandits play at Judson University softball field, located in Elgin, about ten minutes west of the Sears Centre off I-90. Their home stadium is on a Christian school campus, so alcohol is prohibited as games. On the plus side, the concession stand sells all remaining pizza, burgers and hot dogs for just a buck after the sixth inning. Pauly told me what else Bandits games have to offer: 

“As females in sports, we play with a lot of passion, and you can’t see that in the newspaper. We have a lot of fun when we play, and they’ll have a lot of fun when they’re here.”

I also asked Pauly about the buzz surrounding her alma mater’s football program, specifically the job Athletic Director Dr. Jim Phillips is doing promoting the program, with the upcoming football game versus Illinois at Wrigley Field.

“He’s doing a great job at Northwestern, he brought in a lot of fans. Not only are we performing on the athletic fields, we’re accomplishing a lot academically. Anything that happens at Wrigley is always fun, so that’ll be great for NU,” she responded.

Written by Paul M. Banks, President and CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest focused webzine. He is also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, the Chicago Tribune’s blog network, Walter Football.com, the Washington Times Communities, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com

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