- Evening, Weekend & Online Programs
- ALUMNI RELATIONS
- GIVING TO LAKELAND
- ABOUT LAKELAND
When the softball teams from Lakeland College and Marian University meet Thursday in the 2012 Northern Athletics Conference Tournament, more than just a tournament championship and bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament is on the line.
Two Oakfield natives - Lakeland assistant coach Elisa Waltz and her sister, Cherise Waltz, Marian's ace pitcher - will meet for the last time. It's their final chance to secure a win in this sibling rivalry. Elisa has the edge going in - the Muskies are 4-0 against her sister's Sabres since she was named a graduate assistant at Lakeland in 2010. But with postseason success riding on Thursday's outcome, the stakes are higher.
"Thursday's game is the most important game Lakeland has had against Marian in my two years of coaching," said Elisa. "This is the final game and it counts the most with a conference tournament at stake. The other wins felt great, but this one would feel even better."
In Cherise's four years at Marian, the Muskies hold an 8-0 record, and she's ready to take this important matchup. "The fact that we haven't beat Lakeland in my four years makes it a more important game," said Cherise. "That just brings the intensity up even more."
While Cherise hopes the ninth times the charm against Lakeland, Elisa is hoping to extend her unblemished record and keep the family bragging rights.
"After the first doubleheader, I posted a Facebook status that the older sister prevailed," said Elisa. "Cherise wasn't excited that we swept Marian two years in a row and pretended not to want to shake my hand after the game, but she came running back and gave me a big hug."
Cherise grew up watching Elisa play softball at Lakeland, but Elisa couldn't return the favor as her coaching duties at Lakeland took over.
"Growing up she had to attend all of my athletic events," said Elisa. "It's pretty cool that we get to go against each other and that I can see her pitch. It's hard not to get excited when Lakeland does well and hits against her, but at the same time there's always that sense of feeling bad for her and hoping that she's pitching well too."
Elisa set the tone for what it means to be a multi-sport student-athlete during her time at Lakeland, and Cherise is happy she had her sister as a role model. "I definitely looked up to my sister when she was in college," said Cherise. "She played softball and soccer, was involved in a lot of other things, and she was able to maintain an excellent GPA throughout college. The fact that she was able to balance all of that, it definitely set an example for me."
Thursday's game will undoubtedly be won by a Waltz and Elisa and Cherise's parents, Jon and Gail, are happy about that.
"When my parents come to the games it's pretty fun to watch them get excited for both Lakeland and Marian," said Elisa. "Of course they cheer for Cherise, but secretly they have Lakeland gear on under their Marian gear. They've always been very supportive of both of us. When I played at Lakeland, they attended every game and continue to do so when Marian's not playing."
Cherise led the Sabres to their first NAC Tournament since 2010 with a 15-9 record, including splitting with NAC regular season champ Benedictine University and No. 2 seed Aurora University on April 28-29. Marian's ace has tallied a 15-13 record with 107 strikeouts and a 2.60 ERA.
She received first team All-NAC recognition and has spent her senior season balancing student teaching with games and practices.
"Student teaching is full days," said Cherise. "I get there before school starts and stay past the closing bell. It entails making lesson plans and grading schoolwork and it's definitely been challenging going from school straight to practice or games. I've had to prioritize and my priority is teaching because that's my career."
Cherise will graduate from Marian this month with a bachelor's degree in elementary middle school education.
Elisa is graduating from Lakeland in December with a master of arts in counseling degree.