Fall 2009

Chrissy Motzny studies as she works out at the gym. “I go out wearing my softball stuff and people say, ‘Oh you’re one of Frank’s girls.’ It’s good knowing that the people in the community support you.”

Chrissy Motzny

During the 1980s, New York Mets centerfielder Lenny Dykstra was nicknamed “Nails” for his tough-as-nails playing style. The same moniker could fit Jacks softball centerfielder Chrissy Motzny. She runs wind sprints in the field house at 6 a.m., dives headlong into first base for bunt singles and (unlike Dykstra) is a standout in the classroom.

Motzny’s toughness came in handy during the Jacks’ championship run in 2008. With the score tied in the bottom of the ninth inning in the semifinal game at the NCAA Division-II National Championships, a Lock Haven University batter smashed a long fly ball. It looked like a certain home run and the end to Humboldt State’s season, but Motzny scaled the centerfield fence, reached up with her glove and snagged the would-be game-winning run. The Jacks went on to win and, one game later, clinched the national title.

That same toughness has served Motzny well during her time at Humboldt State as the San Jose, Calif., native has juggled softball and academics, while trying to carry on a semblance of a social life.

“It can be hard finding a classmate to tell you what you missed in class when you were gone,” says Motzny, a senior psychology major. “My schedule last semester was really heavy, 22 units. I got straight A’s though—I’m kind of a perfectionist.”

With the start of the fall semester, Motzny begins her days with a workout, followed by classes and then afternoon practice with legendary HSU softball Coach Frank Cheek. On Saturdays come five-hour scrimmages. During the season, the Jacks play anywhere from two to eight games a week. Spending so much time together, it stands to reason the teammates become close.

“Really, my friends on the team, along with my sister, are my best friends up here,” she says.

Motzny plans to apply to graduate school and has her sights set on a Ph.D. in psychology. She’s also interested in traveling overseas to perhaps play softball in European leagues.

“Arcata is such a small town that you’re known in the community, it’s kind of funny,” she says. “I go out wearing my softball stuff and people say, ‘Oh, you’re one of Frank’s girls,’ or ‘Hey, you’re Chrissy Motzny.’ It’s good knowing that people in the community support you like that, even if it is a little weird.”

Michael Lynch

Michael Lynch juggles football, class time, socializing and work. The after-school program at Zane Middle School offers Lynch a way to make money, work with kids and have some fun. The kids clearly like Lynch, and he is equally fond of them.

Michael Lynch is in charge. He knows what he has to do on the field (destroy the offensive line), he knows what he’s going to do after college (get a law degree to be a criminal lawyer) and knows what he has to do to make work go smoothly (get the hordes of middle school students to behave themselves).

On a typical day Lynch begins his days in the gym before classes and afternoon drills. Catching up with Lynch in between the weight room and class, he recites a workout plan that would make even the sternest coach happy.

“Today was a lower body day. So we did overhead squats, overhead pulls, squat cleans, power cleans with a push jerk, then lunges, then front squats, then side squats, then a hamstring work out. In about an hour we’re going to do some drills out on the field,” says Lynch.

As a business administration major, Lynch is busy learning about capital markets and the magic of compound interest. But his heart lies with criminal justice, which he studied at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas before being recruited to HSU. Why the switch? “I wanted to come in and play right away, plus I really liked Coach Shay McClure and Coach Solomona Tapasa. I talked on the phone with them a lot and they were really open and honest. They really helped me with the transfer, which isn’t the easiest thing to do,” says Lynch.

Lynch’s arrival at Humboldt was in time to play during Coach Rob Smith’s first year helming the Lumberjacks. Even though the team ended the season with a losing record, Lynch has high hopes for the ’09-’10 campaign. “I think we’ll do a lot better. We’ve got seven or eight returning starters coming back on defense so that helps with experience. You can see it on the field, we’re looking strong. We’re a much more cohesive unit than last year,” says Lynch.

Like many student athletes, free time is a rarity for Lynch. He spends much of it with teammates or with his girlfriend. But through his job at Zane Middle School in Eureka, Calif., Lynch has found another way to feel like a kid.

The after-school program at Zane offers Lynch a way to make money, work with kids and have some fun. The kids, most in their early teens, clearly like Lynch, and he is equally fond of them. With the demeanor of a principal, Lynch checks up on their homework and sends wayward kids home who aren’t enrolled in the program but would like to hang out on campus.

Students come up to him and recite their recent track victories or ask Lynch to throw them a really, really long pass.

“It reminds me of being in junior high every day, man, everyday.”

Clare Nowel

Clare Nowel doesn’t have much time to sleep. So whenever she has a few minutes and sees a couch free, she grabs a nap.

After two years with the HSU Rowing Team, senior Clare Nowel is starting to feel comfortable in her role as a team leader. She’s led the team as coxswain through plenty of regattas and this semester she takes on assistant coach duties alongside coaches Robin Mieggs and Pat Hyland. But Nowel might argue that it’s her steady hand in the kitchen that’s really secured her leadership position. “When we get together we’re like a big family. Some of the new girls on the team will feel a little homesick and it just takes one home-cooked meal and they’re feeling better,” says Nowel. Then she lists the delicious meals she and her teammates prepare as a way to keep fit and strengthen bonds. Sushi night, barbecues and even a few meals cooked by Nowel’s father are just some of the items on the menu.

That food sustains Nowel through her schedule that includes running upwards of 50 miles a week and taking 21 units over the summer session. She’s also a distance runner on the cross-country team and competes in the steeplechase for the track team. Clearly, sleep is one of the more elusive parts of her life. Nowel came to Humboldt after a stint at community college where soccer was her main sport. After poring over HSUjacks.com, trying to find a place in the HSU Athletics family, she came upon something she’d never done before.

“I kept going on the website and looking at coaches, because I didn’t want to go to college without being on a team,” says Nowel. “I was reading Robin (Mieggs’s) profile and about how ‘we study hard and train hard,’ and it seemed like she had a really good coaching style that would fit with me. So I called up , asked ‘Hey can I row, I don’t know what it is,’ and she said ‘yes’ and I came up here.” End Story