Nicole Pauly is turning in her softball uniform.
For the first time in 20 years, the former Palatine High School, Northwestern University and Akron Racers standout will not play competitive softball in the summer months.
"Oh, maybe I'll play on a slow-pitch team" she said with a smile. "But professionally I'm starting the next chapter of my life."
Pauly recently obtained a master's degree in school counseling from Loyola after getting her bachelor's degree from Northwestern.
She is now hoping to find a job in the education field at a local school.
"In the beginning it will really be hard," Pauly said about not suiting up for Akron this season. "But I will be putting all my energy into finding a job. I'm finding a different passion."
One of the most accomplished players in Northwestern softball history, Pauly concluded her collegiate career with 53 home runs, 168 RBI, 149 runs scored and a .604 slugging percentage, while starting all 215 games Northwestern played during her four years in Evanston.
A three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, Pauly was a 2010 second team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District V pick.
Pauly was also one of 10 finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, which identifies personal qualities that define a complete student-athlete. It considers criteria including community service, excellence in the classroom, outstanding character and competition on the field.
Pauly was hailed as a Lowe's Senior All-America Second Team choice.
Pauly recently made the call to Akron Racers Pres/GM, Joey Arrietta about her decision to retire.
"I knew Nicole was juggling a lot with finishing school, coaching and interviewing for jobs," Arrietta said on the Akron website. "We have been talking back and forth for a while and I sensed she needed to come to a decision."
"I have been extremely proud to have had Nicole in our program. Her work ethic, personality and class made her an ideal representative of the Akron Racers. Personally, I will miss her a lot."
Sports notes trivia
The above-mentioned Nicole Pauly graduated as one of the all-time top softball and basketball players from Palatine High School. Name her teammate on both teams who owns the all-time record for pitching wins and strikeouts at Palatine.
University of Chicago sophomore pitcher Andrew VanWazer tossed an 8-hit shutout with 4 strikeouts in a 3-0 win over North Central.
VanWazer also earned the win by allowing 4 hits and 3 unearned runs with 3 strikeouts in six innings when Chicago defeated Robert Morris 17-3. He retired 15 straight to batters to start the game.
• Concordia University-Chicago senior pitcher Bobby Beelen (Wheeling) was named to the Northern Athletics Conference first team after receiving honorable mention last year.
Beelen went 5-1 with a 3.04 earned run average in 47 innings (7 starts). The left-hander struck out 34, walked 16 and held opponents to a .230 batting average.
"Bobby has been a great starter and leader for us these last two years," said Adam Smith, who was named NAC Coach of the Year. "We are very proud of his accomplishments."
• North Central's Matt Brancato (Schaumburg) made 30 starts and appeared in 32 games for the Cardinals. He batted .261 with 30 hits and was second on the team with 8 doubles and 13 RBI.
Prospect graduate Shannon Pohl has been named a finalist for the United States Olympic Committee's 2012 Developmental 'Coach of the Year' award. This is the first time a badminton coach has been selected as a finalist for this award.
Finalists were selected in five categories, including National Coach of the Year, Paralympic National Coach of the Year, Developmental Coach of the Year, Volunteer Coach of the Year and the Doc Councilman Science Award. The Developmental Coach of the Year Award is presented to a coach at a youth club, high school or junior level, or a coach who is directly responsible for training athletes to reach the junior and/or elite level.
She went on to represent Team USA for over ten years in badminton competitions in 54 countries. She was a member of the U.S. World Championship Badminton Team from 2005-2009.
After retiring from the U.S. national badminton team in 2009, Pohl founded the Shannon Pohl Badminton Academy in Vernon Hills, where she applied her knowledge and skills from years of international training and competition to further the sport in her community.
Today, she personally mentors 169 junior players at the SPBA and provides year-round lessons, camps, open gym, and junior and adult tournaments.
Pohl was also named the 2012 USAB Developmental Coach of the Year.
Wheeling senior Jack Ferguson has committed to play golf at Illinois Wesleyan.
Ferguson earned all-conference honors when he shot a 76 last fall, and he also won the regional (73).
One of the top golfers in Wheeling history, Ferguson was a sectional and state qualifier as a freshman and tied for 26th out of 105 players in the state finals. He was all-conference as a sophomore and won the Ivanhoe Classic (72) as a junior.
Augustana sophomore Evan Chikeles (Hoffman Estates) was named to the Midwest Lacrosse all-Conference men's second team.
Chikeles had 33 ground balls and 9 caused turnovers for the Vikings' defense. He helped the Vikings achieve the second best goals-against average in the MLC.
Augustana finished 11-6 overall on the year and 8-2 in conference, which was good enough to place the Vikings in third in the MLC.
• Junior Rachael Houp (Palatine) recently completed her season with the women's lacrosse team at North Central College.
Houp started all 17 games and was named to the All-Midwest Women's Lacrosse Conference (MWLC) First Team. She ranked third on the team in caused turnovers (22) and fourth in ground balls (33).
The Cardinals went 12-5 overall and 7-1 in conference play, establishing a new school record for wins and their best conference finish in their five-year history.
Fremd four-year varsity player Carrie Wagner has committed to Wisconsin-Whitewater and coach Ryan Quamme, whose teams have won three straight Wisconsin and Illinois Athletic Conference titles.
• Conant's Courtney O'Keeffe will be playing at Elmhurst College and her teammate Kayla Severinsen will attend Concordia in Wisconsin.
Amy Mitchell, currently an assistant for coach Jeff Manz' Palatine's softball team, is the school's all-time leader with 60 wins and 721 strikeouts.
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