Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Terp Women Eat Kids -- And Utes

(Marissa "Shoulders" Coleman drives past Utah's Morgan Warburton during Maryland's convincing 2nd-round win at Comcast, 3/24/09. Photo Credit: AP)

Updated below.

Yes, yes, the Terps whupped the out-womaned Utes of Utah in the second round of the NCAA tournament tonight. Of course Shoulders pulled down a career-high 18 rebounds as a lovely farewell gift to the 10,000 adoring fans gathered in the Comcast Center for one more thrilling night with the dazzling prodigies of 2006, now all grown up and reaching for one more shot at collegiate glory. Moose wasn't there, proving that she wasn't lying last semester when she told a class that she couldn't justify canceling a class for an appearance by then-candidate Barack Obama when she wouldn't cancel class for a visit by the Pope or even for her beloved Lady Terps. Rumor has it her "Fear the Brenda" sign was held aloft by a former Melvillian who is known more as a baseball fan than a basketball fan but did a fine job nonetheless. (Camille Powell's excellent Wa Po report on the game is here.)

So, yes, the Terps move on for a Sweet Sixteen reprise of their matchup last year against Vanderbilt (26-8) Saturday in Raleigh. Still, the truly big news coming out of College Park today is, um, that the Terp Women eat kids.

Here's the report, from the Office of Dubious Role Models and Bizarre Sports Rituals, by way of Dan Steinberg's D.C. Sports Blog at Wa Po. Steinberg is doing a cutely sexist (as opposed to an ugly sexist) little piece on the differences between men's and women's sport teams as a way of compensating for the fact that he hasn't written much about women's college basketball this season, despite the fact that one of the best teams in the country is right in his neighborhood. (Note to dying newspaper industry: You are dying, in part, from self-inflicted wounds.) Anyway, after a couple of predictable jokes about nail polish and Lord and Taylor bags in the locker room, Steinberg lets his readers know that the Mighty Women of Maryland are by no means "soft" by telling a story about the "ruthless slogan" they use in the locker room:

"We say Eat Kids!" Anjale Barrett told me matter-of-factly.

Bet you never heard a John Wooden adage about that one.

So here's what happened. Back in the fall they had weekly rehearsals for their Midnight Madness dance routine. To keep the intensity up during these rehearsals, sophomore forward Emery Wallace began shouting out motivational things. A Mike Tyson quote jumped out in her mind.

"What'd he say?" she asked me. "Something about eating kids."

And thus, a motto was born.

"She's not stable," star forward Marissa Coleman pointed out about Wallace.

Regardless, that slogan became a tradition during the dance rehearsals. Then it moved inside the locker room. The players started writing it on the white board before games, underneath the three keys provided by the coaching staff. They began putting their fists together and shouting it before leaving the room. They return to the message at halftime, with Wallace tailoring her exact advice based on the first-half performance.

"She'll be like, 'We're halfway through the kids' body now, keep going,' " Yemi Oyefuwa explained. "It's not like we played bad, you already had the head, you already had the hair."

"I've heard her say, 'Get to the feet,' " Marah Strickland noted.

Children of the media age that they are, some of the Terps are concerned that readers understand that the "ruthless slogan" is not to be taken literally:

"We try to stay away from THAT definition; the, you know, real definition," Strickland said. "Eat their kids is more a statement of domination. It's a metaphor."

"We're not actually eating kids," Demauria Liles agreed. "We're just dominating, we're stomping them to the ground."

"We love the kids," Barrett interjected, trying to make sure that no one believes the Maryland program to be anti-child. "it's just something that gets us motivated. We're not like Hannibal Lecter or anything like that."

Freshman Oyefuwa, who hails from London, apparently missed the memo about metaphor:
"Every month I choose a child," she told me. "Sometimes it's one from back home, sometimes it's someone from this country. You try to pick the juicy ones, the ones with nice hair, delicious ones, pretty eyes, because you know, the eyes are the best."
Meanwhile, Terrapin Coach (and mother of two) Brenda Frese is baffled by the origin and meaning of the grisly motivational motto. She comments to Steinberg:
I just know what they write (on the board before games), I don't know what it means. They won't give me an answer. I've asked. Have they given you an answer? Kids. What they come up with nowadays.
No word on whether Frese's twin tykes, Markus and Tyler, are allowed anywhere near the Terps' locker room when the team is going through its pregame calls to cannibalism.

The English profs of Roxie's World are officially mum on the subject, refusing to kill the Terps' tournament buzz by going all academic-y and pointing out the problematic history of powerful women being imaged as terrifying eaters of babies, men, and other living things. Reached in her office moments after her grad class and the Terps game had ended, a weary Moose commented,
Screw it. If they need to engage in a fantasy of cannibalism to get psyched up to grind their next opponent into the dirt, I say more power to 'em. Let 'em eat kids.
You heard it here first, sports fans. Peace out. And we mean that, literally.

A.M. Update: Accolades roll in for Shoulders, KT, and the Cannibal Terps. Bet you anything Mike Wise's Wa Po column will make you cry. Graham Hays has a nice piece up on ESPN. And Wa Po seems to have figured out that photos of strong, sweaty women just might save the newspaper industry. Check out the awesome photo gallery of the Terps' quest for a national championship. Oh, and if you're still savoring last night's Stunning Upset of a Team That Didn't Deserve a #1 Seed in the First Place, go read Mechelle Voepel's analysis of the Duke-Michigan State game. Truth be told, we're surprised that Maryland is the only ACC team left in the draw at this point, but we are constitutionally unable to feel sorry for Duke, even if Shoulders' BFF Abby Waner is crying into her Wheaties this morning. Abby, baby, you shoulda been a Terp!

6 comments:

  1. Hey, as Marah says, "it's a metaphor; no real cannibalism here." This shows that the Mighty Terp Women have senses of humor and fun with one another. I love that. They were a pure joy to watch this evening. After a rough start, nary a bite enjoyed, they chowed down!

    And cake is not so healthy, you know. . . .
    always yours,
    Goose

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  2. Oh, and this English prof knows the quotation marks should have ended after "it's a metaphor" ;)
    --Again yours,
    Goose

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  3. dog-eared book9:02 AM EDT

    Perhaps they're just good readers of Jonathan Swift? Back in the day, when I was a hard-hitting (if undersized, nearsighted, and rather uncoordinated) ice hockey player, our ritual chant was "Ruin their childbearing years!" A bit appalling in retrospect, but it was a kind of rowdy embrace of the caricature we felt was being imposed on us by the generally misogynist athletics department, which clung to ice hockey and football as the last two remaining real man sports. It cracked us up and kept us loose, more than anything. Glad to see the Terps playing so well. (I picked them to play in the final game against the evil Huskies. . . . ) Eat kids!

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  4. "Ruin their childbearing years" doesn't have quite the zip of "Eat kids," but we are with you on the rowdy embrace of toxic caricatures. That's one of our favorite hobbies! But ICE HOCKEY -- Who knew, DEB? And yet, somehow, I can see it. Here's hoping your genius for bracketology holds right through the final. Eat kids, indeed.

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  5. Hey, I'm a fan of DEB's bracketology. My fantasy is that the evil Huskies will have one loss. . .to those Terps who eat kids!
    --Goose

    PS - And of course I also have that fantasy that the Mighty Terp Women know their Jonathan Swift.

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  6. I like "let them eat kids!" They taste good.

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