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Women’s Interhall Football: Putnam and Schmidt are the Weasels’ unsung heroes

Joe Meixell | Friday, November 18, 2005

Caroline Schmidt and Julie Putnam, two juniors who comprise the defensive line of Pasquerilla West, describe themselves as “the clowns of the team” – and linebacker Gretchen Ryan agrees.

“They always act crazy at practice,” Ryan said. “They are always quoting ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ and entertaining themselves. We just stand back and shake our heads.”

All kidding aside, Schmidt, a chemistry major, and Putnam, a marketing and political science major, are a large part of the reason the Weasels will be playing at Notre Dame Stadium Sunday in the championship against Pangborn. After winning just three of six regular season games, the Weasels won their first two playoff games in overtime to advance to the finals.

But the duo’s contributions often go unnoticed in the game summary.

“They do a great job pressuring the quarterback, which makes the job of the defensive backs a little easier,” PW coach Joe McCarthy said. “They are the first in line of a chain reaction that leads to many interceptions. They have the ability to corral the quarterback, get pressure on her and make her throw a bad pass.”

Schmidt and Putnam said there is more to their defense’s success than just the pressure.

“We’ve realized our role and we’re not the only ones,” Schmidt said. “It’s the defensive backs, offensive line, and every part of the team. We might not be the rah-rah stars, but if you play your position well each time and do your part, it might not have a huge significance then, but over the course of the game you make your impact.”

Putnam said that impact begins before the snap.

“The huddles are ridiculous,” she said. “There’s this fire and intensity we have that wasn’t there before. Last year there was a lot of rotating of positions, but now there’s a set number and the same people play the same positions.”

This lack of rotation has enabled Schmidt and Putnam to specialize in their positions.

“Last year, our defensive line coach, Jess Greenwood, helped us learn how to zig-zag around and do spin moves that are good to have because they give you strategy on how to get to the quarterback,” Putnam said.

In the first game of the year against Farley, the Weasel defense had three goal-line stands.

The unit recorded two against McGlinn in the first round of the playoffs, and on Sunday, it was Schmidt’s sack in overtime on third-and-goal from the 3 that helped seal the Weasels’ victory over Cavanaugh.

“Our defense prides itself on goal-line stands,” Ryan said.

Those stops begin and end with the defensive line, and that’s why Schmidt and Putnam are so important to PW.

When the duo takes the field, all their energy is focused on winning.

“It’s very easy to get comfortable on the field,” Schmidt said. “At the end of a play, we say to ourselves, ‘Gee, we should actually try on this next play.’ And we say, ‘We have nothing else to do but homework when the game is over, so we might as well give it all we got.'”