How do you keep loose at NCAAs? Water-gun fights

Washington Huskies celebrate their win over UCLA during the semifinals of the NCAA Women's Championship. Tracy Wilcox/Golfweek

How do you keep loose at NCAAs? Water-gun fights

Women

How do you keep loose at NCAAs? Water-gun fights

STILLWATER, Okla. – A pressure-packed NCAA Championship final takes place Wednesday, with host Oklahoma State and fellow blue blood Alabama squaring off.

The nerves will be high and the atmosphere tense. How is a coach to get his players relaxed enough to perform on such a day? We’re not here to make suggestions … but Mary Lou Mulflur, Washington’s women’s head coach, executed a pretty crafty idea during last week’s NCAA Women’s Championship.

One of the first things Mulflur did at nationals was buy eight water guns (and we’re not talking the little water pistol type). After a long, stressful second round last Saturday, Mulflur put her purchase into action.

As the players loaded their materials in the back of the team van with darkness closing in, they became unnerved when they saw their athletic trainer holding a water gun.

“Then (Mary Lou) pops out of the (front of) the van holding a water gun, and we’re like, ‘No!’ and start sprinting in all directions,” said junior Julianne Alvarez, laughing.

A fun battle ensued for several minutes. Juniors Wenyung Keh and Sarah Rhee quickly jumped in the van to hide but then decided to get out and help their teammates. They actually put up a good fight (squirting with Powerade bottles as a defense), as Mulflur said she got drenched as well.

“It’s just a way for people to blow off some steam,” Mulflur said.

Mulflur, in her 34th season at Washington’s helm, has actually tried the water-gun gag on and off for years.

What do other teams think of this undertaking?

“They all look at us like we’re crazy,” Mulflur said, laughing.

Well, not everyone.

After last Thursday’s practice round, Washington’s players got hold of the water guns and decided to have a little fun with Arizona. The two squads are quite friendly, so when the Huskies approached Wildcats head coach Laura Ianello about soaking her players, she was eager to help out.

Arizona’s coaches tipped off their players on what might be coming but then hid the Huskies players in their team van and signaled when their own were within range. Washington’s starters then commenced their ambush.

“It was just fun to have a little battle, do something fun that’s different,” said Gigi Stoll, an Arizona junior.

The Wildcats won a national title six days later. In a tense week, it’s the little things that can count.

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