All season long, the USC women’s water polo team has had its sights on the grand prize: winning the NCAA tournament. And with the regular season over, the Women of Troy’s road for the title begins now.Resume builder · Dominique Sardo (above) and the women’s water polo team are looking to boost their seeding in the NCAA tournament. – Ralf Cheung | Daily TrojanFriday marks the beginning of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation post-season tournament, a three-day playoff to determine which team from the stacked conference will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Though the Women of Troy are essentially a lock to make the NCAA tournament with at least an at-large bid, senior and co-captain Dominique Sardo know how important it is to win the conference event.“The MPSF tournament is tough,” Sardo said. “If we win it, we’re ranked No. 1 going into the NCAA tournament, which will make our path to the final easier.”No. 2 USC (21-1, 5-1 MPSF) will take on the unranked CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners (12-22, 0-6 MPSF) in Friday’s first-round matchup. The teams last met in Bakersfield on March 30, when the Women of Troy dismantled the Roadrunners’ defense in a 19-goal exhibition.Though recent history and statistics show USC as the clear favorite, the team is not taking their first-round opponent lightly.“We don’t look past anyone,” Sardo said. “Every opponent can give us a great game. We need to play our best defense and execute our offense to make it to the semis and the finals.”The Women of Troy will play, at most, three games this weekend. Should they win against CSU Bakersfield, they will match up against either No. 3-seed Arizona State or No. 6-seed San Jose State. The other side of the bracket is shaping up for a No. 1-seed Stanford (who earned a first-round bye) versus No. 4-seed UCLA semifinal matchup, provided UCLA survives its first round clash with tournament host and No. 5-seed Cal.Though USC will have the tougher road to the final, the tournament has actually set itself up in the team’s favor. Based on this season’s games, the Women of Troy would much rather see Arizona State than the Bruins in the semifinals. In two games, USC has defeated ASU handily by scores of 13-6 and 11-7. Against UCLA, however, the margins of victory have not been so kind. While the Women of Troy did hold off their crosstown rivals fairly easily in their last game, the Bruins took them down to the wire in their first matchup of the season, as USC managed to come out on top with a nail-biting one-goal victory.A lack of momentum certainly will not be a problem for USC, coming off a rejuvenating 11-6 win against UCLA last Friday. The team is hoping to ride this wave of success all the way past the MPSF tournament and into the NCAA tournament.“It was huge [to beat UCLA],” Sardo said. “It was tough to lose to Stanford, but our team bonded beating [UCLA] at their home pool on their senior day. It lit a fire under us and really energized us.”A lack of experience also should not be a problem for this USC team, carrying five senior leaders into the postseason bolstered by a solid group of juniors and sophomores who have experience in the playoffs. Even the players who haven’t seen collegiate playoff action yet are no strangers to challenging environments.“The newcomers have international experience,” Sardo said. “With [freshman Jayde] Appel, [junior Hannah] Buckling, and [freshman Anni] Espar, we have enough experience. Everyone knows how tough these games are. The underclassmen play like juniors and seniors.”Appel and Buckling played competitively in Australia before making the move to Los Angeles, and Espar is a reigning silver medalist from the 2012 London Olympics, where she played on the Spanish national team.With only one blemish to their record all season long, the Women of Troy will be an exciting bunch to watch in this season’s playoffs. The MPSF tournament begins Friday and will continue until Sunday. The USC-CSU Bakersfield game begins at 11 a.m. in Berkeley, Calif.
Here are some other facts you should know about one of the trailblazing faces of the NFL’s female coaching movement.’I WAS JUST KICKING THE FOOTBALL’Carli Lloyd’s path to NFL is visible to women who played college footballHere’s the Katie Sowers commercial for Microsoft SurfaceKatie Sowers is one of several women breaking down barriers in the NFLSowers wasn’t the NFL’s first full-time female assistant, but thanks to determined women like her, there will be many more.Fewer than five years ago in the summer of 2015, Jennifer Welter broke the gender barrier after being hired by the Cardinals as an assistant coach for training camp and the preseason. In 2016, Kathryn Smith became the first woman hired to a full-time coaching position in the NFL, serving as the Bills’ special teams quality control coach.A year later in 2017, Sowers became a full-time offensive assistant for the 49ers. The Bills hired Phoebe Schecter as assistant tight end coach and the Raiders brought in Kelsey Martinez as assistant strength and conditioning coach. In 2019, the Buccaneers were the first team to have two women on their coaching staff, assistant defensive line coach Lori Locust and assistant strength and conditioning coach Maral Javadifar.Although Sowers, Locus and Javadifar are the ones who held their current positions this past season, the coaching internship opportunities for women have expanded throughout the league. Six other teams — Falcons, Jets, Steelers, Ravens, Panthers and Redskins — have hired women to their staff.Katie Sowers started playing football well at an early ageSowers was born and raised in Hesston, Kansas, just outside of Kansas City, starting to play the game as an 8-year-old. She eventually landed at the University of Central Missouri, from which she graduated with a master’s degree in Kinesiology (the mechanical study of body movement) in 2012.Before then, when Sowers attended Goshen College in Indiana in the 2000s, she played football for two teams in the Women’s Football Alliance, the West Michigan Mayhem and her hometown team, the Kansas City Titans. She got picked to play on the United States Women’s national American football team in 2013, which won the IFAF world championship that July, defeating Canada 64-0 in Finland.She played with her twin sister Liz on the Mayhem in 2009, leading the team with four interceptions, including a return TD, and finishing fourth with 30 tackles. In 2013, Katie Sowers again played with Liz on the Titans. Liz was the team’s leading wide receiver (44 catches, 756 yards, 13 TDs); Katie was second (19 catches, 314 yards, 7 TDs). Katie also was the team’s second-leading rusher (25 carries, 424 yards, 2 TDs) for a 6-2 playoff team, leading in sacks (2.5) and interceptions as well. Liz and Katie Sowers are two of the greatest players in the fledgling league’s ongoing history. Katie took over as the Titans’ most prolific passer for two seasons before unforunately retiring after the 2016 season because of a hip injury. Fortunately, she could pursue her football goals in the NFL instead.You can watch highlights of Katie in action here on Hudl. Check out a sample of her impressive downfield passing skills below:Katie Sowers started her NFL career in AtlantaSowers was on a team that got to the Super Bowl before when she was just getting started with her NFL career. Sowers joined the Falcons on the recommendation of then- Chiefs GM and future Falcons GM Scott Pioli. She crossed paths with Pioli in Kansas City while coaching his daughter in basketball. Katie Sowers is making history at Super Bowl 54 as first female assistant on an NFL coaching staff to work in a Super Bowl.Sowers is an offensive assistant under coach Kyle Shanahan. And while the 33-year-old has gotten more attention as the subject of a national Microsoft Surface commercial airing during the current NFL playoffs, she has helped San Francisco’s offense become one of the most dynamic and hardest to defend. She was with the Falcons for the offseason and training camp in 2016, working with Julio Jones and the team’s wide receivers under position coach Raheem Morris. Sowers then turned to the personnel evaluation side, serving as a scouting intern.After that latter nine-month stint was finished, Sowers joined the 49ers in June 2017 thanks to the team’s Bill Walsh Minority Fellowship program, named after the franchise’s late great Super Bowl-winning offensive guru. That was Shanahan’s rookie season as head coach.Katie Sowers is the only openly LGBT coach in the NFLSowers came out as lesbian before her first full season with the 49ers in 2017. She is literally a trailblazer, creating her own path in what can be an unprecedented and promising career. Should Sowers get to Miami and Super Bowl 54 with San Francisco, she’s bound to inspire a lot more men and women across the world watching the game, all of them rooting for her continued success.
JOHNSTON — All four Democrats competing for the chance to face Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst in November say the latest $3 trillion pandemic relief plan that cleared the Democratically-led U.S. House needs work. Des Moines businesswoman Theresa Greenfield said congress should ensure workers get paid sick leave and correct some of the problems with the Paycheck Protection Program.“I think that our federal government has fumbled that football a little bit there in the previous CARES Act,” Greenfield said, “and the dollars haven’t gone to all the small businesses.”Retired Navy Vice Admiral Mike Franken of Sioux City said there should be a sense of urgency during this pandemic, but he’s concerned about piling up debt.“I believe we ought to get something from those bills that lead to a better tomorrow,” Franken said, “such as a broad infrastructure package or addressing the medical care or addressing those most impacted by this.”Franken questions the $12oo federal payments to nearly all Americans, suggesting the focus should be on helping the unemployed. Kimberly Graham, an attorney from Indianola, said meat packing companies should be held accountable for putting workers’ health at risk.“There is no worker, I don’t care how good it tastes, that is work anyone’s life,” Graham said. “…These owners of these plants knew what we all knew for a very long…that it spreads in close contact and yet they still had people right up next to each other with no PPE in some cases, no breaks to wash their hands, etc.”Des Moines businessman Eddie Mauro also said packing plants put workers in harm’s way.“That’s wrong. We’ve got to take care of the worker first,” Mauro said. “We’re not thinking about the family farmer, either. We’re only thinking about big ag and big corporations. We’ve got to talk about how we overhaul our agricultural system. ”The four candidates support expanding health care coverage for Americans, but by varying degrees. Greenfield said the Affordable Care Act is the starting point.“I support expanding and strengthening and enhancing the Affordable Care Act. We have all the tools we need there,” Greenfield said. “We need to add in a public option on top of that so that absolutely every Iowan, every American can get health care.”Franken said he supports immediately fixing what’s wrong with the Affordable Care Act and adding a public option — so Americans could buy Medicare-type coverage.“And ultimately bracing up Medicare,” Franken said. “…We ought to make this a birthright of Americans and for the working class in America.”Graham, a supporter of Medicare for All, said other wealthy countries provide health care as a right and she compares those systems to public libraries in the U.S.“They’re not free. We have to pay the librarian, the books, the building, but when you walk into a library, you just hand them your library card and you leave with a book,” Graham said. “You don’t pay anything at that time of service and you never get a bill and you sure as heck never go bankrupt.”Mauro has publicly supported Medicare for All since his unsuccessful 2018 campaign for Iowa’s third district congressional seat.“In the immediate future, we should lower the eligibility age of Social Security to 55,” Mauro said. “We nee to expand the Childrens’ Health Insurance Program for every child under the age of 18.”And Mauro proposes giving Americans who’ve lost their jobs during the pandemic the option of getting subsidies to buy private insurance through the “ObamaCare” exchanges.The four candidates made their comments last night during an hour-long forum broadcast live on Iowa PBS. There was no studio audience and, as another health precautions, the candidates were separated by clear Plexiglas dividers.