Levin: Humble pie should come in handy

Robbie Levin

At first it may not seem like Kelly Amonte Hiller and Bill Belichick have much in common.

One is a 36-year-old college lacrosse coach in Evanston; the other is a 58-year-old professional football coach in Boston.

Take a closer look. They are like two peas in a pod.

If Belichick was a baker, his most popular pastry would be “humble pie.” That’s what he served his undefeated 2007 New England Patriots team after each win. This unsavory concoction was a way for Belichick to keep his squad grounded in the midst of an undefeated season. Rather than looking back or forward, Belichick concentrated on the present.

Anyone who follows NU knows humble pie is Amonte Hiller’s favorite dessert.

“When you’re successful it’s hard to stay grounded and remember that you need to always continue to work to get to that next level,” she said last year. “It’s hard not to become comfortable and once you become comfortable you won’t be at that level.”

A disciple of Belichick if I’ve ever heard one.

The two talked several days before NU’s fourth-consecutive national championship, and one of the things they discussed was responding to adversity. In each of Belichick’s Super Bowl seasons the Patriots dropped at least two games before the playoffs, and in the one campaign when they were perfect they lost in the playoffs. Amonte Hiller has won championships both ways-undefeated and with losses-but if she wants to make it six straight crowns, it’s going to have to be the latter.

And after Sunday’s loss to North Carolina, it’s time for Amonte Hiller to make another trip to “Bill’s Bakery.”

The best part about Belichick’s philosophy is it applies to wins as well as losses-the coach makes sure his team doesn’t get too high after wins or too down after losses. Luckily for Amonte Hiller, she’s been keeping up her half of the bargain after NU’s numerous wins.

“We’re always looking at (our performance) from a critical eye, and looking to get better,” Amonte Hiller said last week.

As with a number of Belichick’s players, Amonte Hiller’s squad has come to exude the gospel of its coach.

“We set high expectations for ourselves,” senior attacker Danielle Spencer said after Sunday’s loss. “Not only do we set an expectation to win, but even a win if it was 19-18, we’d be disappointed in.”

It’s that constant, endless search for excellence that drives Amonte Hiller’s bunch. Really, this loss is just a bump in the road. The run has ended, but ask any NU player and they’ll tell you the Cats will take a trophy over a statistic any day of the week, and twice on Sunday.Sports Editor Robbie Levin is a Medill sophomore. He can be reached at [email protected]