Archive for May, 2013

Kansas senior makes dream come true

By Andrew Curtis

As the NCAA commercial says, most college athletes go pro in something other than sports. This is not the case for University of Kansas senior softball player Maggie Hull.

Hull, who holds the record for highest career batting average at KU and is tied for the career RBI record at the school, was drafted 11th overall by the Chicago Bandits in the 2013 National Pro Fastpitch College Draft.

“To be among the top 20 to be drafted to play professionally,” Hull said. “Words can’t really even describe what that’s like, but we’re all going in there as rookies not knowing what to expect and it’s going to be a whole new ballgame.”

As a Lawrence native who has spent most of her life living in the unique college town, things will be different, especially when she plays without her twin sister Rosie for the first time.

She has spent the last four years as a 4.0 student, primarily trying to help build up the program at Kansas. By making herself well known, she has created national attention for Kansas softball.

“It was my dream to play at Kansas,” Hull said. “To know that I will be leaving a legacy means so much to me.”

Unlike most other professional sports, the National Pro Fastpitch League isn’t a full-time job. It features a season that only runs for the three months during the summer.

Even though it’s just part time, there is an income tied to it. According to the USA Today, the teams have a $150,000 salary cap, with player salaries ranging from $4,000 to $25,000, not bad for three months of work right out of college.

She isn’t the only female athlete from Kansas to be drafted. Basketball player Angel Goodrich was drafted 29th overall by the Tulsa Shock of the WNBA.

The WNBA, which has a longer season and stands on a slightly higher platform, offers a rookie minimum of $35,000 and a league average of $72,000. There is a lot of parity player salaries, with the league maximum being $105,000.

The difference between men’s sports and women’s sports on the professional level is player endorsements and sponsors, which give athletes a significant bonus in income.

Softball was removed from being an Olympic sport in 2005, so it’s slowly building its reputation back up in the U.S.

Hull won’t be gone from Lawrence for long. After she graduates and her final collegiate season ends, Hull will report to the Bandits immediately. Chicago is the closest city in the NPFL to Lawrence.

After the season, ends in August, Hull, who is engaged, will know whether she has a future or not in the sport and move back to Lawrence.

From there, she will seek to find a job through her journalism and Spanish double majors to make an income for the other nine months of the year.

Tons of friends and family have her back, including her teammates. In the first moments after the news that she had been drafted, the experience was once in a lifetime.

“Within a couple of minutes, all of my teammates had found out and were all texting me,” Hull said. “It’s a huge honor to have all the support and how excited they are for me, it makes it that much more of a big deal to me.”

Josh Swade: Mission Accomplished

Posted: May 7, 2013 in News

Documentary filmmaker plays crucial role in bringing the rules of basketball back to his home state of Kansas

There’s no place like home. No, this isn’t a Dorothy reference from the Wizard of Oz like people outside of Kansas generally make, it’s the title of the documentary seeking to bring the original rules of basketball home to its roots in Lawrence, Kan.

One man in particular did more than could have been thought possible to persuade some of the University of Kansas’ wealthiest alumni to make significant financial contributions to keep the original rules where they belong. His name is Josh Swade.

Swade, who was raised in Overland Park, Kan. and attended the university, took on the task of directing and appearing in ESPN’s “30 for 30” series with his own documentary about the quest to bring the rules home.

The most interesting thing about the film for Swade, who makes documentaries for a living in New York, was being able to use his off-the-charts obsession with Kansas basketball in order to bring the rules home while doing what he loves.

“I was not a member of the media. I was simply a documentary filmmaker,” Swade said. “It’s hard for me to find that line between this and journalism, because let’s face it, I’m coming from a place where KU’s the greatest place ever, and journalism is more about being bipartisan.”

Swade put enormous pressure on himself to do whatever it took to get the famous document back to Kansas, where Dr. James Naismith, who invented the game in Springfield, Mass., was the first coach in school history.

Traveling all over the country, Swade met with important figures with Kansas backgrounds such as David Booth, Roy Williams, Larry Brown and Mark Allen, the grandson of legendary Jayhawk coach Phog Allen, whom Kansas’ historic arena is named for.

Booth, who pledged millions of dollars to have the Kansas Hall of Athletics built and attached to the front of Allen Fieldhouse, played a vital role.

However, Swade felt uneasy about asking for all this money from someone he didn’t know.

“There’s no way you could have so much at stake and not be nervous,” Swade said. “Not to mention, looking at who David Booth is and what he’s done for KU, and I’m just some guy from off the street.”

At his initial meeting with Booth in Las Vegas, Swade was relieved after persuading Booth to get involved.

“I’m good for a million,” said Booth in the film, as if it were just pocket change.

But that wasn’t enough.

“The next hurdle is, we need more than one million,” Swade said. “So, immediately, the thought process goes from, ‘OK, we’ve got a shot’ to ‘we need to try and get more’.”

Swade, who wouldn’t have ever gotten in contact with Mark Allen if it hadn’t been for Allen’s wife hearing Swade on a Kansas City radio show, got Allen to travel to Booth’s home in Austin, Texas, to receive Booth’s full endorsement.

“If Mark never comes to Austin to help me persuade David Booth, then I would put David’s participation under 40 percent,” Swade said. “I’m not saying it wouldn’t have happened, but chances are, it wouldn’t have happened.”

Following the meeting, on Dec. 10, 2010, Booth purchased the rules with a final offer of $4.3 million at a Sotheby’s auction in New York City. If Booth hadn’t come through, chances are that the rules would have resided at Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke had the next highest bidder at the auction.

The university has tentative plans for the construction of a new building on the northeast corner of Allen Fieldhouse as the home for the rules.

The documentary aired in Oct., 2012. Swade was back in Lawrence on Feb. 16 for the basketball game against Texas. He also had a public viewing of the documentary on campus the next day, courtesy of Student Union Activities.

Swade made it clear how he wants to be remembered.

“I don’t want people to think of me other than just a passionate fan. Not to be cliché and try to be humble, but I’m just a regular fan. I really am.”