Northwestern's softball team had an exclusive opportunity to meet Yankees manager Joe Girardi at a spring training game in Florida Tuesday night.
Girardi, an NU grad, was a three-time All-Big Ten catcher and a 1985 All-American. Girardi was also an engineering major at NU and graduated in 1986.
Girardi met the Wildcats on the Yankees' practice field and gave a 20-minute speech on the keys to success and then held a question and answer session.
His favorite Northwestern memory involved three-time All-American pitcher Lisa Ishikawa, who led NU to three Women's College World Series and who graduated the year after Girardi. People always asked if he batted against her, and he said, "No way! I didn't want to embarrass myself." He talked about how much Evanston has changed since he was in school and about how much he loved NU.
Girardi offered up this nugget of advice before the team left: "In sports and in life, you will always struggle at some point. Just stick together and look out for each other."
The Wildcats also asked about former NU pitcher George Kontos, a Yankees pitcher. Girardi said Kontos had been out with a lat strain, but Girardi put him in the spring exhibition in the eighth inning. Kontos' appearance got a huge ovation from the Wildcats' softball team.