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International Field of Play

Northwestern students and alumni compete on the global stage.

From Pro to Olympian

Former Northwestern women’s basketball star Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah ’19 averaged a double-double for Faenza Basket Project and finished the 2021–22 season as one of the leading rebounders in Italy’s premier women’s basketball league. “It’s one of the strongest leagues in Europe,” says Kunaiyi- Akpanah. “I enjoyed the competition and had some great teammates this year too, including Jori Davis, who played at Indiana.” In summer 2021 Kunaiyi-Akpanah also represented her home country, Nigeria, in the Tokyo Olympics. “The ‘N’ never comes off,” she says. “I felt very privileged to participate both as a Nigerian and a Northwestern Wildcat.” 

Doing the Dirty Work

Northwestern University Athletics

Ana Medina Garcia started playing club field hockey at age 10. Never the star, she persevered to earn roster spots on regional and national teams in Spain. “You have to have people who are gonna do the dirty work. That’s my role,” says the senior midfielder. She played in the top women’s league in Spain before committing to Northwestern. “If I were going to leave home, it had to be for something really great,” Medina Garcia says. “And Northwestern is beyond great.” She registered three goals in 2021 during Northwestern’s run to the national title. 

Putting Women’s Cycling on the Map

Courtesy of Human Powered Health

Lily Williams ’17 MS and her Human Powered Health teammates competed in the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift in July. The creation of the inaugural eight-day, 640-mile event is one of many improvements in women’s cycling that she’s witnessed. Williams says “things are night and day from when I signed my first contract in 2018,” when eight team members would huddle in a minivan before the start of a race. Now teams have fleets of vehicles with cooks and massage therapists. “To have seen that transition makes me feel like I’m a professional athlete — not just a woman who’s doing a sport,” she says. Williams won a bronze medal in the women’s team pursuit, a track cycling event, at the Tokyo Olympics. Read more about Williams.

A Voice for Change

In 2019 Mariam Mamdouh Farid raced in the 400-meter hurdles at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar. Dressed in a full bodysuit and hijab, she became one of the first women to compete at that level for her home country. “I am honored and proud to represent Qatar — and women in the Middle East, women in hijabs — on a national and international level,” says Farid ’21, a Northwestern University in Qatar alum. Farid, who is chief communications officer at Queen Hospital in Doha, continues to train and compete with the national team.   

Hero on the Mound

Southpaw Eric Jokisch ’11 is in his fourth season with the Kiwoom Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO). Last season he finished 16-9 with a 2.93 ERA in 31 starts. Over the past three-plus seasons, he ranks among the KBO leaders in wins, innings and ERA. Jokisch, who earned 17 career wins and a first-team All–Big Ten nod in 2010 for Northwestern, made four appearances with the Chicago Cubs in 2014. Read more about Jokisch.

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