Spring teams on top of game

Northwestern is not widely recognized as an athletics powerhouse. The football and men’s basketball teams are improving steadily and are no longer bye weeks or easy wins for opponents. But this spring, every team is competitive in its respective sport.

More students need to look beyond Ryan Field and Welsch-Ryan Arena, and head to the Thomas Athletic Complex for a lacrosse game or Rocky Miller Park for a baseball game.

Coming off a national championship win in 2005, our lacrosse team is No. 1 in the nation. This year NU toppled perennial championship contenders, including Johns Hopkins and Maryland. With a win over Vanderbilt on Friday, the Wildcats clinched the American Lacrosse Conference title outright and finished undefeated in the conference for the second straight season.

NU softball joined lacrosse with a conference championship. The Cats downed Illinois on Saturday night en route to its first Big Ten title since 1987. With the conference title in hand, students can catch some more softball action when Northwestern hosts the Big Ten Tournament May 11-13.

The women’s tennis team brought home yet another Big Ten title last month when it defeated Michigan to earn its eighth straight conference championship. The Cats also earned a No. 11 seed in the NCAA Women’s Tennis Championships, and will host regional action beginning May 12. Illinois-Chicago, No. 17 Harvard and No. 43 Purdue will all be kicking off the tournament at the Vandy Christie Tennis Center.

In golf, the men’s team won the Big Ten championship, while Alice Kim of the women’s team took home an individual Big Ten title.

The next time someone insults Northwestern’s athletic prowess, tell them to check out any of the many championship caliber teams this spring. NU may have another national champion in the near future.

Howard station plans on track

The Chicago Transit Authority is starting a major phase of the Howard El station renovations, a 56.7-million makeover that was approved in 2002.

The new renovations are part of CTA’s plan to improve El stations. The changes will allow Howard to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, get rid of the distinct Howard El stop smells, and modernize the station by connecting the platforms to the bus terminals and parking garage.

While the changes aren’t expected to be completed until 2009, this is worth the wait. The station has not been updated since 1962. These improvements are especially necessary for Howard, the Red Line’s most trafficked station north of Belmont with approximately 6,000 people passing each day.

Though some argue the cost of renovations could be used to keep the fares low, these are necessary low-frills changes. Complying with the ADA is essential for the many handicapped passengers who use the El.

We are skeptical that the smells of Howard will be eliminated, particularly since a toilet is unfortunately not included in the renovation plan. Nonetheless,the other changes are part of a larger effort to improve the attractiveness of the station.

Past Chicago efforts have shown that when El stations beautify, so do the neighborhoods that surround them. We hope this is the case with the improved Howard El stop.