A Career Prolonged
A couple of thoughts backflipped through the mind of Colgate swimmer Emily Murphy when the winners at the Patriot League meet paraded past her two years ago.
Wallowing in the warmdown pool and watching her competitors through teary eyes, Murphy knew that many of the champs were wearing medals that belonged to her. Her vow was that once she shook off the pain from a bad groin injury that had ruined her sophomore season, they would once again be hers.
"It was a rough meet," recalled Murphy, now a senior. "I was like 'I'm not going to be at a meet like this and not win.' "
Murphy came pretty close to the bull's-eye in her prediction, winning 11 of 15 individual and relay golds at the Patriot League meets her junior and senior years combined. Now, after sinking the swimming equivalent of a last-second shot to qualify for this weekend's NCAA championship meet at Texas A&M, her chances of keeping up with the biggest fishes in her sport can't be easily brushed off.
Murphy qualified for the
100-meter breaststroke with a career-best time of 1 minute, 0.86 seconds during a "last chance" meet in Georgia at the end of February. That slots her 29th in a field of 39 at the NCAAs.
She will swim Friday morning, with an immediate goal of earning a spot among the top 16 swimmers called back for that evening's finals and consolation heats. Rebecca Soni of Southern Cal is the top seed at 58.1 seconds.
"I'm excited to get there and swim," said Murphy, the first Colgate woman swimmer to compete at the Division I championships. "I've had the best year of my swimming career. I'm not really worried about the 58 (second qualifiers). But all the girls within 20 places of me, they are very close to me."
The best swimmers typically hone in on one discipline and make that their meal ticket. For Murphy, ever since her start-up splashes at the Camillus Swim Club, that's been the breaststroke. The flexibility of her knee joints allows her to make the circular, frog-leg kick of the stroke with ease. The stroke has been her security blanket, and, as is the case with most swimmers, losing it is devastating.
"If you can't do the one thing you're best at for 14 months, usually they walk away. For her to stick it out is incredibly tough," said Colgate coach Steve Jungbluth.
That was roughly the time frame Murphy was looking at after tearing her groin while swimming in November of her sophomore year. Although she could do other strokes, the motion of the breaststroke kick was too painful to pull off. For a swimmer who was named the top female rookie at the Patriot League meet as a freshman, that was unnerving.
"It was hard when everyone was swimming so fast, and I wasn't swimming fast," Murphy said. "I wanted to finish 13 years (of her swimming career), and I wanted to finish on top, not just complete them."
Murphy's pain finally disappeared and she grinded her way back into competitive shape by the start of her junior season, which she capped off by sweeping the breaststroke events at the Patriot League meet and earning first-team all-league honors. She was a six-time winner at the meet this season, including a 1:01.23 in the hundred breast.
She figured that effort would be the last batch of confetti to sprinkle down on her career as one of the more acclaimed swimmers in school history, and that she could focus all her efforts on finishing her degree in neuro science. Jungbluth had another thought, however.
On the morning of Feb. 26, Jungbluth called Murphy, waking her from a nap. Jungbluth was curious if Murphy was interested in going to the last-chance meet in Georgia. Several such events are scattered around the country for swimmers who want a final shot at posting an NCAA meet qualifying time.
The actual bar for the 100 breaststroke field wouldn't be set until all the last-chance meets were done, so there was no specific target to shoot at. But the coach had a hunch Murphy could bring her time down into the mix. By that afternoon, Murphy was packed and ready to go.
Her time is just about a half-second behind that of the 16th-ranked qualifier, the cutoff point for Friday night's call backs.
"I was pretty confident I'd be able to lower my times. I didn't know I could lower it as much as I did," she said. "I realized I really needed to do this. I didn't want to have any regrets."
So swimming, one of the most individual sports to start with, has become even lonelier for Murphy. She's been training mostly on her own the past couple weeks, cranking out 4,000-meter workouts in Colgate's pool.
The monotony beats the alternative, though, which is the unavoidable conclusion to her competitive swimming career.
"It's been a part of my life for a really long time," Murphy said. "I've taken breaks before. But I've always known next fall I'll be swimming, or in a couple of months I'll be swimming. It's hard to think about (stopping)."
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Mentoring group tries to help DeLand boy
Daytona Beach News-Journal, The
Yameisha Wooten said she did all she could as a single mother to raise her son to be a good boy.
But she could not be the strong male role model the 12-year-old needed and felt helpless as she sadly watched him slowly go astray as he gave in "to outside influences."
When Chris Denson was expelled from middle school, Wooten thought she had lost her parenting fight. But she heard of Brothers Advocating Service and Inspiration in the Community, a mentoring group, and called it.
"It's been only three weeks since he joined the Brothers group and there's been change in his attitude," Wooten said. "He is more respectful and patient and he has a lot more motivation."
Chris was back in school and taking the FCAT on Monday.
Brothers Advocating Service and Inspiration in the Community, or BASIC, does not have any funds or a home office yet but that's not stopping its volunteers, all DeLand natives, from heeding the call of residents like Wooten, founder Vonzelle Johnson said. The group hopes to be a nonprofit organization in at least three to four weeks and will help young men of all ethnic backgrounds, Johnson said.
But even if they have to pay out of their own pockets for the time being to help young boys like Chris, the group will do that until it can qualify for federal funds, Johnson said. Wooten believes the group's efforts address what young men in the community lack.
"As a single parent, I could not be the male role model to motivate Chris but I believe this program can do something good to pull these young men and keep them on a positive track," Wooten said.
Johnson, raised by a single mother himself, said his church pastor and other male leaders in the community, like Bo Davenport, inspired him to succeed.
Johnson, who played quarterback for DeLand High School, graduated in 2007 from Colgate University in New York. After a year playing football in college, he decided there was something more he needed to do for his community back home. So he returned to DeLand after graduation and started planning the program to help children. He says he'll receive his master's degree in social work from Valdosta (Ga.) University in May.
"The program does not start until Aug. 24 but we are already mentoring kids whose parents call us," Johnson said. "We go to school and churches and talk to them about what we are planning to do."
Tra Thomas, a DeLand High graduate and football star who plays for the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars, said he liked the idea behind the program and has expressed his desire to help.
"The program is very well put together. I feel it will be very useful for our youth," Thomas said in a telephone interview Monday.
Others in the community like Leon Bright believe the goals of BASIC will benefit young men who hang out in the streets and end up on the wrong side of the law.
"It will teach them life skills, about having life goals instead of living day-to-day," said Bright, director of the Chisholm Center on Clara Avenue. "It will show the youth there is more to life out there besides just hustling."
When the program officially starts in August, five fifth-graders, six middle- and eight high-schoolers will be mentored, Johnson said. Participants in the program will be taught civic responsibility and cultural awareness, given college tours, and participate in events that use male role models to promote self-respect and spiritual growth.
Spiritual development in children and youths sets the tone for student tolerance and respect for others, said Kevin Caine, minister-in-training and the group's spiritual adviser.
"Part of the program will be to take them on a tour of the jail, so they can see and understand what happens to them when they make a wrong decision," Caine said.
The Rev. Troy Bradley, of Greater Union First Baptist Church in DeLand, said the program's timing is just right.
"Our young men are lost and need direction," Bradley said. "They can't find their way on their own and this program will help them find that direction."
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Colgate's hockey team continues interesting season into playoffs
How would you characterize Colgate University's hockey season?
Coach Don Vaughan has no trouble coming up with the right word.
“We've had an interesting year to say the least,” Vaughan said as his team prepared for its first-round, best-of-three-game ECAC Hockey playoff hockey series that begins tonight at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn.
The Raiders have played an NCAA-record-tying 16 overtime games this season, including the last four in a row, and an incredible 22 one-goal games. They were just 6-11-5 in the league this season, and 11-6-7 overall, but they are 5-3-2 in their last 10 games and 3-0-2 in their last five.
“We've strung some things together in terms of results lately,” Vaughan said. “”Clearly, we're getting production from (Dave), McIntyre, Bog (Peter Bogdanich) and (Brian) Day, and (goalie) Charles Long has played well the last 10 games, but we've played well in over games. A bounce of the puck here and there …”
The Raiders got the right bounce in their regular season finale Sunday when Bogdanich scored in overtime to down No. 11 Yale 3-2, continuing their hot streak.
The way things have gone this year, it was just another day at the office for Vaughan and his players, although the coach admits all the nail-biters can be wearying.
“It is, not only for the coaching staff but also for players,” he said. “What is amazing is how resilient we are. These guys have kept it together. They've fought through a lot of adversity. I'm very proud of this group.”
That adversity includes losing defenseman Ken McNamara, last season's power-play quarterback, to a hip injury before the season began, and then losing defenseman Wade Poplawski to another injury at Thanksgiving.
“Those are two key losses and it affected our defensive depth,” Vaughan said. “It's taken its toll. It has a ripple effect, so I'm really proud of these guys defense.”
The Raiders also lost a lot of firepower from last season, including top forwards Jesse Winchester, now with the Ottawa Senators, and Tyler Burton, playing in the New Jersey Devils system. However, McIntyre leads the league in goals (20 goals, 21 assists, 41 points), Day (13-11-24) has at least one point in each of the last 10 games, Austin Smith (13-13-26) is among the top freshman scorers in the country, and Bogdanich has four goals and 10 assists.
Long, who started only two games the last two seasons while backing up Mark Decanich, He has a .911 save percentage and a 2.42 goals-against average.
Colgate has defeated Quinnipiac twice this season, 1-0 and 3-2 in overtime. The Bobcats (9-10-3, 16-15-3) are led by Bryan Leitch (11-42-53), the nation's leading scorer.
“Clearly, the teams are very evenly matched,” Vaughan said. “They've had key injuries, as we did. They're a great team, and they are home.”
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From blight to beauty
Daily Iberian, The
Jim Wyche started the nonprofit Rebuild Iberia to help the victims of hurricanes Rita and Katrina, but for a long time, he's had the goal of buying and rebuilding a block of properties dilapidated not by hurricanes, but by time and neglect.
Though the project was in the works before last fall's charrettes, in which community members converged to lay out a plan of renewal and revitalization for the area around Hopkins Street, Wyche says it “does fit with the uptown renewal beautifully.”
Rebuild Iberia, which is housed in First United Methodist Church, has bought a group of properties, addresses 400 to 417 on Robertson Street, some of which were and are on the New Iberia's demolition list. It currently has seven properties, with options to buy nine more. Wyche wants to rebuild the properties and make them available to the low-income working poor — a group at an income level below that served by Iberia Habitat for Humanity, he said.
Wyche is executive director of both Iberia Habitat for Humanity and Rebuild Iberia.
Southern Mutual Help Association head of family and community development Judy Herring also is president of Rebuild Iberia's board. She said SMHA will be teaming with Rebuild Iberia to help on the project.
About 15 SMHA volunteers from Colgate University are arriving today to gut the Robertson Street houses, “taking the bad out and putting in the new.”
A director of construction, and charrettes moderator and Architects Southwest designer Steve Oubre, will help design and construct the houses according to code and the charrettes plans, complete with porches.
After Rebuild Iberia and volunteers have finished rebuilding the houses, Herring said the two organizations will work together to decide who will live in them.
Herring and Wyche said SMHA will provide a home ownership counseling class to “get people on the right foot for being homeowners.”
They can then apply for mortgages through SMHA's affiliate, Southern Mutual Financial Services, a “Community Develop-ment Financial Institu-tion,” according to its Web site.
“The situation we're in right now in America is that if (family financial preparation and planning) would have been done by banks, they would have seen ‘Wait, this is too much house for the person.' We (at SMHA) are very careful. That's why we have a 1 percent failure rate,” said Herring.
SMHA also has a “mobile skills transfer center” which will give homeowners hands on training with how to make repairs around the home, said Herring.
The project does face difficulties, Wyche says.
Brick and mortar grants once were “easy to find,” but many of the grants he hoped to find have disappeared “because of the doom and gloom picture being painted,” he said.
Wyche says Rebuild Iberia is trying to network with other local organizations as much as possible.
He hopes to find people willing to contribute labor, building materials and recycled material — helping in the cost of the house and helping the project to go green — something Herring believes might help with grants.
“Corporate grants have really dried up,” she said. “I think where we're going to find funding for this project is when we say we're very interested in putting green products in .... with such a large amount in the stimulus package for green and alternative energies.”
Wyche said, “You rebuild inner cities like this — one house at a time. It's a great proving ground, to say ‘look what we did.' It shows people there are people who care.”
Wyche says Rebuild Iberia is making a “profit” — it's just not monetary.
“Every business is in business to make a profit,” Wyche said. “Ours is to go back into the community. This whole business is a ministry.”
Herring said “It's not about the house. It's about the family that's going to live there.”
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This One Goes Out to the Ones Who Love Vintage College Radio
Chronicle of Higher Education, The
I often wondered, as I grew up, why my father would occasionally walk around the house belting out a quaint-sounding tune called "Ballin' the Jack" in a basso profundo. Strangely, it was here — in the studios of WRCU, Colgate University's student-run radio station — that I finally got some kind of an answer.
My dad, Don M. Read, had been the station's news director and then its general manager in the 1960s, and he was among several dozen alumni invited to attend the dedication last month of WRCU's lavish new headquarters. Would he like to host an hourlong radio show that weekend? he was asked. He jumped at the chance, and since I'd been a DJ in college too, he invited me up to sit in. During my visit, I caught a glimpse of a distant era in campus radio, and I looked in on a part of student culture that has changed a great deal even in the eight years since I was last on the air.
Once we got situated in the studio, the first tune he had me cue up was "Ballin' the Jack," as recorded in 1962 by the Colgate 13, the university's longest-tenured a cappella group. My father was a fan of the group and, especially, this song, which called on the bass singer to stretch almost impossibly low on the chorus ("that's what I call ..." — each note farther down the scale than the last). He'd managed to keep the record in virtually pristine condition since he bought it in the campus bookstore more than four decades ago.
At the time, his vinyl collection amounted to little more than a couple of Colgate 13 albums. But at the radio station, he found a music collector he could look up to: Robert L. Blackmore, a professor with a basement full of records.
Mr. Blackmore spent most of his adult life in or around Colgate: He graduated from the university in 1941, returned as an English professor in 1960, and served as chairman of the English department and dean of the faculty before retiring in 1986. For those 26 years he was also the faculty adviser to WRCU.
Alumni almost inevitably recall him striding across the campus with a cigarette in one hand and a stack of records in the other, often en route to his weekly radio show, "Your Monday Date With Jazz." Mr. Blackmore didn't have the buttery voice that many night-owl DJ's fall back on — his cadence was "almost staccato," according to my father — but his knowledge of the material was encyclopedic. "Once he got into talking about an album," my dad says, "he'd start flowing."
To this day, my father speaks in hushed tones of rare visits to Mr. Blackmore's legendary basement, which was lined, floor to ceiling, with a collection of more than 50,000 jazz LP's that he eventually bequeathed to the university. (For many years, the room also held one of several miniature transmitters, dispersed throughout Hamilton, that amplified WRCU's signal.)
"You'd ask him, 'What was Count Basie doing in 1947?'" said Robert J. Fraiman Jr., an alumnus who spoke at the dedication, "and he'd disappear into the basement and come back seven or eight minutes later with an armful of records."
After Mr. Blackmore died, in 2002, the radio station's home base — then nestled in the basement of a dormitory — was rechristened the Robert L. Blackmore Media Center. Like campus radio facilities across the country, it was far from luxurious. "The space was literally closet-sized," says Paul Osmolskis, a senior who recently finished his term as WRCU's general manager. The local fire marshal had decreed that no more than three people could occupy the studio at one time.
So a group of former DJ's, led by Mr. Fraiman, decided that the best way to honor their mentor was to build a center worthy of his name. Several years and about $750,000 in donations later, the new Robert L. Blackmore Media Center — now located in the basement of the university's much-trafficked student center — was completed.
The dedication ceremony drew about 100 students, alumni, and well-wishers, and the center fit the crowd quite comfortably; the broadcasting studio itself can easily accommodate about 25 people. It will take some time for the space to develop an ambiance befitting an authentic college station — right now it's just too shiny and clean, and the walls have yet to be papered with the requisite promotional posters and concert fliers. But it's a lovely, sprawling, state-of-the-art space. And by the standards of campus radio stations, it's remarkable.
It seemed fitting to pay tribute to Mr. Blackmore and his epic collection by devoting most of our hour on the air to jazz — and by opening the show with my father's vintage vinyl.
Spinning vinyl and sifting through towering stacks of dinged-up LP's had always struck me as the college DJ's defining activities. When I hosted my radio show, at the very beginning of the Napster era, the station's vinyl archive was the only place I could turn to hear music that was weird, obscure, or out of print: I can still remember the thrill and triumph of excavating Pere Ubu's Dub Housing, a record so hard to find at the time that it almost seemed like a myth.
Of course, Dub Housing has long since been reissued. And not only can you get it on compact disc, but you can buy a digital copy of the album from retailers like iTunes, Amazon, and eMusic. Or you can download it illegally from a peer-to-peer network, a BitTorrent hub, or one of a slew of blogs whose owners digitize old records. Honestly, there's almost no reason for students to go searching through the vinyl stacks when they can put Pere Ubu's entire discography on their laptops in a matter of minutes.
So now WRCU doesn't even give students the chance to browse the stacks. Up until several years ago, the station required DJ's to play at least one vinyl track every hour. But the staff got rid of that restriction — too many students didn't really know how to use the turntables — and then, a few years later, it got rid of most of its vinyl. The records were sold in bulk to a reseller, according to Mr. Osmolskis, and the money was put toward operating costs.
As for the turntables my father and I used, WRCU keeps them on hand because every once in a while a DJ will want to spin his or her own records. But that equipment, I soon found out, had been brought out specifically for the alumni. For most of the year, the turntables are put aside so DJ's have a place to plop their laptops.
Since most students use their computers to store their music libraries, and since iTunes makes it easy to assemble radio-show playlists, Mr. Osmolskis and many of his fellow DJ's now bring computers to the studio instead of lugging a satchel of CD's or records. For the time being, WRCU draws the line at iPods because they don't give DJ's an easy way to move seamlessly from one song to the next.
"Laptops and iPods kind of devalue the snobbishness" of college radio, Mr. Osmolskis admits, but he points out that the Internet has already had that effect on music fandom in a much broader sense. "Even with sites like Wikipedia, you can learn a band's entire discography, which albums are worth hearing and which ones aren't," he says. "It's way easier to know a lot now, and I think that makes the shows better."
The ubiquity of music online has democratized campus radio, says Bill Gabler, a former WRCU music director (he sheepishly takes credit for relaxing the vinyl requirement) who now works for Colgate and is an adviser to the radio-station staff. "Five to eight years ago, WRCU was really about people who were into the culture of college radio — discovering music and finding new bands," he says. "Now we've reached out to a broader population, to students who are just curious about radio and want to see what it's like."
For DJ's enamored with the craft of radio — the feel of cuing a song on a record by finding the right groove, gently guiding the vinyl back and forth with a finger or two, and using the muddy, mutated sound to spot the beginning of the track — the move to newer machinery might augur the loss of something ineffable.
But it's much easier to sound amateurish when you're trying to man turntables and CD players than when you've just got an iTunes playlist to worry about. As we moved through our show, Mr. Osmolskis was kind enough to let me manage the board and to indulge my bush-league errors: It was halfway through the hour, for example, before I realized that I had one CD player set at about twice the volume of the other one.
Sharing the News
During the songs — and between them, as we spoke on the air — my dad told stories from his time at Colgate. There was the Ravi Shankar concert he attended (it was long), and the basement dorm room he stayed in to save money one year (it was tiny), and then there was the day John F. Kennedy was shot.
My dad, who was a sophomore at the time, was sitting in the station's auxiliary studio when an alarm bell on the teletype machine, a constantly clicking behemoth that spat out a steady diet of UPI wire reports, sounded nine or 10 times in succession. "I remember being told that if the thing ever rings more than eight bells, you'd better pay attention," he said, "because that signifies some kind of a disaster."
He stumbled over to the machine and read a garbled report of the shooting — filed in the heat of the moment by a reporter who was obviously distraught, it was littered with typographical errors — then broke into the main studio, where another DJ was playing pop tunes, to tell Colgate students that the president was wounded. Over the next few hours, he stayed at the station, gathering new reports from the teletype and providing updates on the air.
That evening the station staff scrambled to put together an hourlong news program on the assassination and on Kennedy's life. They brought a TV down to the studio for real-time updates, trekked to the library to dig up information about John Connally, and plunged into the vinyl stacks in search of theme music (they wanted something stately, not saccharine: Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man" ended up winning out).
"I can remember hearing the closing theme — the Copland piece — and just kind of sitting back in my chair and thinking, 'Oh my god, what's happened? Is this real?'" my dad said. "You'd spent so much time putting this information together that you really hadn't thought about the significance of everything."
On their shows during the weekend of the dedication, other DJ's issued similar dispatches from an era when college radio was a source for national and state news, a sounding board for visiting politicians and lecturers, and a coordinator of College Bowls and other campus events.
"We had people from 55 years' worth of graduating classes, and they all showed the same passion for Colgate radio," says Mr. Gabler. "To have that energy back in the space, and to hear the old names that came up. ... It's just great to get a picture of the station through the years."
When I check back with Mr. Gabler a month later, he tells me that the new media center is already proving to be a recruiting boon for WRCU: People ambling through the student center stop by all the time, he says, either to check out the roomy studio or to gaze at the newly installed widescreen TV that advertises upcoming shows and special events. "It's really refreshing," he says, "to see people taking an interest in us."
The turntables, alas, have been put away once more.
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