February 14, 2011

The Team Behind the Team

Hey ya'll!

I am so excited to do my first blog for all our Stanford supporters! So far, I have had a fabulous freshman experience. Every day, I wake up in awe of all the beauty of Stanford University, feeling so blessed to be a student-athlete at one of the best schools in the world. Being a part of the Stanford Women's Basketball Team has been a remarkable experience for me as well. Learning from Tara and sharing so many moments with the team has only made my love for the sport grow!

But behind all of our success is a group of people you may NOT be very familiar with. They come early. They stay late. They always make the extra pass. They execute. They defend. They always rock the Cardinal Red. THEY ARE OUR PRACTICE PLAYERS! This blog is dedicated to a fine group of men that sacrifice their personal time to help make us better. We love our practice players, and you will come to adore them too! This is the inside-scoop on The Team Behind the Team!

Meet Ilan Kolkowitz
Inner-Hooper: Steve Nash
Ilan is the steady foundation for this year's practice squad. When Ilan gets in the rhythm from long range, he can be deadly. He is very fundamental, and makes few mistakes. We love Ilan because he is dependable, always there when we need him.

Meet “Little” Greg Klausner
Inner-Hooper: Deron Williams
The Nickname Little Greg came from him being smaller than a previous practice player also named Greg. Don't be fooled by Greg's strong build. He has a quick first step and a powerful finish. We love Greg because he smiles even when we're struggling, keeping the positive energy.

Meet Leo Wilson
Inner-Hooper: Rajon Rondo
Leo is one of the nicest people you could ever meet. But when he steps on the court he heads a ferocious defense: the best on ball defender. And if you blink, he probably is already laying the ball up for 2 on the other end. We love Leo because he has a huge heart for us and the game.

Meet Paul Ockelmann
Inner-Hooper: Luis Scola
Paul is a versatile role player. Tell Paul where he needs to be and he is there. Paul is a crafty finisher around the rim and active on both ends of the court. We love Paul because he keeps things interesting.

Meet Chris Trader
Inner-Hooper: Paul Pierce
Chris is a solid wing with a lot of talent. Shake and bake to fade-a-way, he's got it all in his arsenal. If you fall asleep on Chris, he will make a fool out of you. We love Chris because his personality makes everything more fun.

Meet Brian Hollins
Inner-Hooper: Blake Griffin
Brian may be the new kid on the block, but his game has made a huge impression on our team. His athleticism is out of this world. He soars high for rebounds and sprints like a track-star. We love Brian because he is beautiful inside and out.

Meet the Austins: Austin Link and Austin Guzman
Inner-Hooper: Paul Gasol
The Austins are a dangerous post duo on the block. Their size and power make it easy to muscle their way in the paint and on the boards. You might think your shot is safe until you enter their “danger zone” a.k.a. anything within arms reach. We love our Austins because they never complain even when when the game gets rough.

Meet Sam “Lefty” Shapiro
Inner-Hooper: Manu Ginobli
Even though we have just gotten to know Sam, it doesn't take much time to realize he is a sharp-shooter from anywhere on the court. Once he let's the shot fly, its usually nothing but net. We love Sam because he's got a great shooter's mentality!

Meet Ben Halpern
Inner-Hooper: Kevin Love
Ben may be soft spoken, but his game is extra loud! As an undersized post, Ben uses a variety of ways to make scoring inside look effortless. We love Ben because he never gets down, always trying motivate us to work harder and get better.

So next time we play at Maples, make sure you give a pat on the back to our fabulous practice players! We love you guys!

Talk soon!
Chiney #13

February 10, 2011

What Hannah did on her summer vacation

This past summer I had the opportunity to gain field research experience in the tropical dry forests of Mexico. It was an incredibly unique experience that allowed me to not only learn from local scientists and students but to expand my knowledge of the Mexican culture and language as well. The majority of my time was spent at the Chamela Biological Station doing research on tree growth and species interactions.

While staying at the station I met many students from all over Mexico working on various projects. On days off we would pile into one of the station’s cars and head straight to the beach. Playa Negritos was the name of the closest and it was absolutely breathtaking.

I was able to snorkel and practice my Spanish accent with some of my new friends. It’s really amazing how even with a language barrier you can still really get to know and care about people. Of course there’s bound to be a lot of funny things said when you aren’t fluent in a language. Many times I would find myself laughing until my eyes started watering at a joke I misunderstood or just took in a totally ridiculous way. I was surprised at how open and willing to help everyone I met at the station was, despite my terrible accent (which is a little better now).

I spent on average about 8-9 hours a day working. The majority was out in the field hiking to different tree plots, documenting new growth as well as performing leaf counts and other herbivory measures. I also helped plant new seedling plots for further study as well as take images of the current canopy cover in existing plots. There are several trails that lead through the forests of Chamela. We would use them to find flagged trees and measure growth.

The main species interaction I looked at was how ants defend trees against herbivory from insects like caterpillars. One of the most interesting things we did was to stage ant versus caterpillar fights. We would place a caterpillar on a leaf and see how long it took before the ants attacking would cause the caterpillar to stop eating and fall off the leaf. This was one of the ways we measured ant aggressiveness. The general idea is the tree provides shelter for the ants while the ants in turn defend the leaves from herbivory allowing increased tree growth.

After a long day spent in the field, I would often run through trails to get a little conditioning in. My favorite days were when it would rain. There were some amazing storms that shook our rooms and lit the sky with flashes of lightning. The rain was always a nice break from the usual hot days and nights. One memorable night in particular a bunch of us students watched a movie (in Spanish of course) in the library and by the time we made it back to our rooms we were completely drenched from head to toe.

The awesome thing is that after a big rain, the forest almost blooms overnight with new leaves. The best view was from climbing to the top of the water tower and looking out. On a clear day you could see the ocean and by the time I was headed home all you could see was green for miles and miles.

The big picture take away of this experience for me was in conservation. Intricate species interactions are only possible for the most part in intact regions of the forest. In Mexico, these forests are in constant danger of being developed, especially due to their proximity to beaches. I don’t think the tropical dry forest is an ecosystem I will continue to study, but I will definitely take away lessons in research methods and analysis. The work I did was exhausting at times, but overall it was an experience that I will never forget.