CWU Observer - Winter 2021, Issue 6

Page 1

February 16-February 23, 2021

Vol. 117 NO. 6

Theatre department’s Short Works Festival moves online Max Hughes Staff Reporter


he theatre department’s fifth annual Short Works Festival went online this year, a decision made after the overall available time for those involved to work on the project in-person shrunk down. Kathryn Stahl, faculty mentor for the Short Works Festival, said, “We planned for this to be in person, however, with the requirement to have the first two weeks online … and some miscommunications in CWU’s [COVID-19] testing release back-to-classes date we made the decision that with only a week and a half until tech it would be easier, it would be much more safe, to move it online with so many unknowns about student test results.” Students make up the majority of the project’s talent and team. “So, the Short Works Festival is a series of student-written, student-acted, student directed plays that is produced at [CWU],” Stahl said. Michael Galvin, a theatre major, acted in two of the show’s pieces. He said acting at one camera is different from acting outwards at an audience.

Open Broadcaster Software (OBS), a program used for streaming and recording, played a big part in this year’s production. Stahl said, “One of our alum from here, Megan Hicks, had directed a show using OBS and had incorporated scenic elements through background pictures … so I had seen her production and said, ‘Oh my gosh, we could totally do that with Short Works.’” The production used backgrounds behind the characters to establish things that would normally be established on stage in other ways. Stahl said a rainbow backdrop was used to show when a scene moved out of reality, something that traditionally may have been shown with different lighting on stage. Galvin said, “It’s a lot of adaptation. You have to be adaptable, you have to be flexible. There are some things that would have been really cool to be in person, but there are also some things that worked better doing things online, just logistically speaking.”

See Theatre on Page 2

Photo by Max Hughes/The Observer

The Porch navigates open-air seating rules under Inslee’s Recovery plan Libby Williams Staff Reporter Restaurant owners have juggled staying afloat and following rules within the phases of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Roadmap to Recovery. The Porch Bar and Grill has the tools necessary to remain open with multiple large garage doors for ventilation, but whether or not every rule is being followed was a gray area.

In This Issue News Scene News Opinion Sports Engagement

1-4 5-7 8-9 10-11 12-15 16

Co-owner of The Porch Ashley Arnes said readapting multiple times over the last year has been a struggle, especially when indoor dining was completely prohibited and carryout was the only option. “The second shutdown started, and we decided we would try opening all our garage doors, having an open air concept, which was our interpretation of essentially outdoor seating,” Arnes said. “We got to roll with that for maybe two or three weeks, and we got a

visit from the liquor control board because they were working in conjunction with [Washington State Department of Labor and Industries].” The Porch was once again forced to only offer outdoor seating. A staff member at The Porch, who requested to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal at work, said the garage doors haven’t been completely open since the start of the new mandate. They said at the beginning of the day,

Page 7 Robbery at state park

Page 8-9 Black History Month

the doors would be open about six feet off the ground. But customers were complaining about the cold, so owners would close them. “[Customers were] kind of just taking for granted that they were inside a restaurant, not sitting outside in the snow,” the staff member said. Besides customers not acknowledging the risk, the staff member said other

See The Porch, Page 4 Page 12 COVID-19 case cancels game


February 16, 2021


The Museum of Culture and Environment: Through Carson Black’s Eyes Justin Zabel Staff Reporter

Second year grad assistant Carson Black, who majored in the primate and ecology program, spoke on what CWU’s Museum of Culture and Environment is all about, including information on the museum being open with new guidelines during the pandemic. Black was offered the graduate assistantship a couple weeks after the 2020-2021 academic school year was in session, and students were getting settled back in Ellensburg. However, she has been working for the museum since October 2019. She accepted the offer because she had never worked for a museum, and knew it was an opportunity she could not pass up. She said she has many quarters of field experience, but nothing like this. “I thought doing something different than student teaching as a graduate

Carson Black

Theatre from Page 1 Jerry Dougherty, the theatre arts department production manager, oversees technical elements for shows at CWU. “We have been on a journey of selfstudy of OBS,” Dougherty said. Dougherty said the theatre department did a production last spring entirely online through Zoom. He also said there is a need for more control over what the audience saw, and new ways to tell the story through OBS made it an important tool in the process of the Short Works Festival. “We’ve tried to maintain some of the process that goes with a traditional stage show,” Dougherty said. The show used YouTube to livestream to the audience, which changed the way the audience could interact with the show. “We had totally forgotten about audience feedback and interaction during

Photo courtesy of Carson Black

G.A. Dyana Poffenroth, G.A. Carson Black, Museum Collections Manager Lynn Bethke and Museum Director Hope Amason.

student would be a good opportunity to expand my outreach abilities, and also make more connections on campus and in the community,” Black said. COVID-19 has shut down many businesses; however, that did not stop the staff of the Museum of Culture and Environment from working to educate students and the community. The gallery has stayed open. There can be six people in the gallery at once, but those six people have to be from the same household. Masks are required, especially since the museum is on CWU campus, where the mask requirement applies to the entire grounds. “Outside the museum, there is a contact tracing list, which is optional, but you can put your name and your student email and

your phone number just in case we need to do any contact tracing,” Black said. Last year, Black spearheaded the Craft Saturdays events that the museum used to be able to put on, however, they can no longer do them there. Now, the museum has transitioned to doing ideas called CWU Science Stories, where they highlight professors and the work they’ve done on campus. Grad assistants also record science experiments for community members and students to engage with. The goal Black has for visitors to the museum would be “to broaden their horizons.” Many community members may not know that the museum is open to not only the campus, but also the public. “When people come in and see these exhibits, it opens their eyes to the rich

the show … and then people started chatting and reacting to the stories, and that’s an element we don’t usually get,” Dougherty said. The Short Works Festival allows students outside of the theatre department to put their works into the world. “I think the Short Works [Festival] is a good way for not only theatre students to get involved with theatre, but anyone across campus. If they have an idea of a play or even want to try acting there’s a little less stakes in short works,” Galvin said. This year’s festival had stories involving imaginary friends, a monologue from the perspective of a hash brown, and a piece that highlighted the loneliness that some have experienced in the last year. “The Short Works Festival provides an excellent viewport into the things that our students are currently thinking about,” Dougherty said.

Photo byMax Hughes/The Observer

Jerry Dougherty showcases the streaming setup used for the Short Works Festival.

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Editorial Policy: The Observer is a public forum for student expression,

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cultures and experiences of the people in the area,” Black said. “And that they can leave and know that we’re there, and we’re excited about being open, and there is a lot of potential in that gallery.” Black said she never thought she would be a part of something so special. Being able to make connections for over a year and a half, she never would have imagined the work she has done for the community of Ellensburg and CWU. She said that she hopes for her future that she will be able to make an impact on whatever community she is part of, because that is one of the major qualities she has learned from working at the museum. “I’m not looking forward to leaving when I finish my master’s degree in the spring,” Black said.

in which student editors make policy and content decisions. The mission newspaper and to provide training for students who are seeking a career in journalism. The Observer seeks to provide complete, accurate, dependable information to the campus and community; to provide a public forum for the free debate of issues, ideas and problems facing the community at large; and to be the best source of information, education and entertainment news. As a training program, The Observer is the practical application of the theories and principles of journalism. It teaches students to analyze and communicate

February 16, 2021



A profile of social media addiction Levi Shields Staff Reporter According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, internet addiction was first a concept of discussion in 1996. Because students do most, if not all of their work over the internet today, social media addiction, which falls under the blanket term of internet addiction, can be extremely hazardous to both their grades and their mental health. An article in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found the preferred method of combating social media addiction, Facebook addiction in particular, among students. They found that students preferred being notified when they have been using social media excessively, as well as automatically limiting the amount of time they can spend on social media based on the time,

frequency and location of their social media usage. The same article states that social media addiction has been proven to cause emotional, relational and health-related problems. The most notable of these are depression, anxiety, procrastination habits, insomnia and poorer sleep quality. The article cites another study that reveals a correlation between social media addiction and time distortion, meaning that the more addicted to social media a student was, the slower time seemed to move for them when they were deprived of social media. An article in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health states that women use social networks, academic applications and listen to music more than men, and that men play video games, betting games and visit adult pages

more than women. The article states that women’s greater use of social networks may have a connection to the fact that they are more susceptible to social media addiction than men. The article states that playing video games has the second-highest risk of becoming problematic, right under social networking. Another article in the same journal states that what the World Health Organization (WHO) classifies Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) as related to multiple problems, much like social media addiction. These problems include social anxiety, fatigue, loneliness, negative self-esteem and lower academic achievement. The article found that those who play video games on a PC, those who began playing video games at an early age and those who play video games with friends are more susceptible to addiction.

Graphic by Meghan Salsbury



February 16, 2021

North Village Café to reopen with changes Milenne Quinonez Staff Reporter For students living on the North side of campus, North Village Café was a place where many found comfort. The small building filled with colorful booths and art gave the café an urban feel. In the evenings, after classes and extracurricular activities ended, laughter and groups of friends relaxing and enjoying some of North Village’s famous dishes filled the café. North Village Café along with other popular hangout spots, such as the 1891 Bistro, were forced to close temporarily due to the pandemic. According to an announcement made by CWU, faculty and staff are working on a plan to interact with students in person, to reopen fully in fall 2021 and deliver courses primarily in person. Which means places like the Bistro and North Village will need to be ready to reopen. According to Executive Campus Chef Joe Ritchie, one of the important things for the reopening of North Village is being able to offer a mobile pick-up point there. Mobile ordering has been successful since being launched during fall 2020, said

Photo by Casey Rothgeb/The Observer

Changes are being considered as to how how North Village Cafe operates. Director of Dining Services Dean Masuccio, and Dining Services is seeing a 40% or more increase in participation where it’s available. Although nothing has been finalized, Ritchie said there are discussions of expanding the market side of North

Village with more grocery options, providing basic groceries for students who cook in their on-campus apartment or students that live across the street of North Village, while still recognizing that many students that en-

joyed eating there were upperclassmen or students that lived off campus. “We really want to keep that identity and increase the number of offerings like mobile, and then also maybe increase the coffee offerings,’’ Ritchie said. However, Masuccio said there are changes that may need to happen to support an extended market at North Village. As of now, those are the only discussions of renovations, but most ideas are being discussed with the student and dining advisory board and hope to meet next month to offer more ideas and solidify final plans. “Will it be different? It will be different. Will there be an opportunity to still have great memories? For sure, that’s part of our intent,” Masuccio said. Part of the plan for North Village is also to expand the hours of operations, so students can go for coffee in the morning. This was decided in an effort to meet more of the student demand, since in the past the location was more centered around lunch time to early evening. “We believe with the refresh and the expanded market, and still providing those fan favorites that it will become even more of a destination spot for a broader group of students,” Ritchie said.

The Porch from Page 1 staff members haven’t been keeping up with the rules. “No one in the kitchen wears masks,” they said. “There’s no liability, no one’s taking rules for what they should be and it’s just very frustrating.” Arnes said all employees are required to wear masks, but the staff member said this rule is scarcely reinforced. They said other staff members are also frustrated, but no one has spoken out, because they don’t want to risk unemployment. At the time of these interviews, Kittitas County had been in phase one of Inslee’s Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery. Under “eating and drinking establishments,” the mandate states, “indoor dining prohibited. Outdoor dining, 11 p.m. close, maximum 6 per table.” As of Feb. 14, Inslee announced the south central region, which in-

Photo by Casey Rothgeb/The Observer

Under phase two of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Roadmap to Recovery, indoor dining is allowed at 25% capacity.

cludes Kittitas County, will be advancing to phase two. Many regions

Photo by Casey Rothgeb/The Observer

had moved to phase two on Feb. 11, leaving the south central region as the only region still remaining in phase one. A computing error with hospital data kept the region in phase one. Arnes said that around this time, the restaurant was granted permission to allow indoor seating as long as the garage doors were open. At the time of the interview, all of the garage doors were completely closed. “This is actually the first day that we’ve had them closed,” Arnes said. “The only reason is I think it might be 30 degrees outside.”

The anonymous staff member said they understand how difficult it is to be a restaurant owner during these times, but also said they ultimately want people to know the truth and the risks involved. “I know that at a lot of places in this town, it’s really hard to find work … so I’m more just appreciative of the spot I’m in right now,” the staff member said. “[But] to not follow rules and mandates when there’s a global pandemic going on, it’s very frustrating to work with and to see every day … it’s gotten to the point that they’re kind of flushing the rules down the toilet, because no one within Kittitas County cares.”

February 16, 2021


What’s in a modality?


Professors elaborate on what is behind their choices on spring course modalities Max Hughes Staff Reporter Deciding the modality of classes held spring quarter has been put into the hands of the professors teaching them. When considering how a class will be held, safety and the benefits of learning in person become deciding factors. “You want to minimize risk, but you also want to think about how you can give the best educational experience to the students,” Matt Altman, a professor of philosophy and religious studies said. The past several quarters have tested CWU’s ability to work in a number of different modalities and spring will be similar in presentation. In-person classes in spring quarter will still have restrictions that make learning in a shared space safer. “We’re making it as safe as it can possibly be with social distancing and masking and regular testing,” Altman said. “By March I’m hoping that a decent number of vaccinations have been distributed in Kittitas County.” Classes currently held in-person have taken place in large enough classrooms to follow distancing guidelines, and students have done a good job following them according to Altman. “What I’m discovering is some students like the online, it’s sort of the convenience of it, but other students have said that they’re sort of hungry for that personal interaction, and philosophy in particular is suited to that sort of thing,” Altman said. Hybrid classes allow for a reduced number of in-person meetings. Zoom or other online formats, like pre-recorded lectures, are held in place of some class days. Kathryn Stahl, an

Graphic by Ilse Orta Mederos

adjunct lecturer in the theatre arts department, plans to teach her spring classes in a hybrid format. “Anything that I can either split the class in half and have approximately six to ten people in the room at a time I like to be able to do in a hybrid situation,” Stahl said. The hybrid format gives students the ability to work with others face to face. Working with others in-person will prepare theatre students for what they will experience in their future workplaces, according to Stahl. “The important thing to remember as we get to the place where vaccines are happening and we open up again is that we can come back to this modality,” Stahl said. “Hopefully with less of a fear for our health and wellness and find really great ways to incorporate it.”

Altman said a complex equation involving the best modality for learning and the best precautions for safety must be made, and for his philosophy in particular a large enough benefit can be found in face-to-face meetings. Prior to COVID-19 and the move to online Altman said he, along with other educators, were told lectures should not be the focus of the classroom and more discussion and group work should be focused on. “In person it was always a lot easier for me to get students engaged,” Altman said, “You can see what they’re getting and what they’re not getting.” Other professions have had to rethink the way they operate in the last year, an idea reflected in the way students are learning. “It’s forced us to really think about how we reach customers and how we build new products

that reach those customers in a way that is taking care of what local people need,” Chair of the Management Marketing HR Entrepreneurship Department Bill Provaznik said. Provaznik said one of his classes has live tournaments that require students with different roles to work together on projects and design the best product with the materials presented. Provaznik has been looking for ways to run the tournaments digitally. “When we moved online it was a panic, because we never thought we could move this online. We had been asked to do it for probably four or five years,” Provaznik said. Brandy Wiegers, a mathematics professor and director of the office of undergraduate research, will hold hybrid classes as well. The classes will be held over Zoom and reserve computer labs on campus for students that need access. “Primarily it was talking with my students,” Wiegers said. “A lot of my students were not able to afford to come back to campus.” In future years, on snow days or other events that would make it difficult to get to class, Wiegers said virtual class may make it safer for those that would have to drive. Charles Li, a professor of English, is still debating what modality will work best for next quarter but leans toward real-time online. “I’ve worked here for about twenty-five years and I have an attachment to every building,” Li said. Interaction with students remains a big part of teaching, however, some professors say that interaction has become more difficult to gauge. “I miss being able to read the room, and people have every right to turn their cameras off 100%, but it’s so much harder to teach to the void than it is to teach to a human,” Stahl said.

Campus Activities: student created and student led Jackson Sorensen Staff Reporter Campus Activities has been adapting to the constant changes surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic since last March. The events displayed on social media are student created ideas and are student led. Robbi Goninan, a CWU Alumni, is the Assistant Director of Campus Activities. “We haven’t forgotten about the students. I miss seeing them come up with different ideas that will bring in their friends and their roommates,” Goninan said. “I am really hoping to start planning outside events.” Goninan wants to start planning outdoor events for the spring and fall quarters, hoping government guidelines will allow her to. She said students will love to start being able to have some social interactions. At these outdoor events, Goninan said facial coverings and social distancing would still be enforced. “A problem that we predict is that the attendance requirements will fill up quickly so how do we offer this event to those who aren’t able to view it in person? We will offer it virtually, although not ideal,” Goninan said. Goninan said these events coming up will be bigger and better than ever. She has been putting on Creature Make and Take events. A kit is assembled with all of the materials required for the event, students scan their connection card and they take the kit

Photo by Casey Rothgeb/The Observer Campus Activities is looking to plan some outdoor events for the upcoming spring and fall q uarters while adhering to COVID-19 restrictions.

home. Students can choose to follow along via Zoom or they can do it on their own time. Drew Carter is the Assistant Director of Operations and is also a CWU Alumni. “I am the guy that makes sure that everyone is safe and that we are keeping the right amount of people in the SURC,” Carter said. “I also handle more of the technical stuff now. Robbi’s team creates these ideas for events and my team handles more of the technical part of the events.” Carter and Goninan are both passionate about their student staff. Since the student staff was promised a year’s

worth of work, they were kept busy so that they wouldn’t lose their jobs. “A challenge that I can see coming in the future is ‘how do we turn the ballroom into a hybrid experience?’ Once we are able, we would want to have a live studio audience, but also cater to those who want to watch it from home,” Carter said. “Once we can start planning post-COVID events, these events will be bigger and better than ever. The first-years coming in will be so excited, but so will all of the other students.” Carter mentioned how incredible his team was at thinking outside of the box. He tasked his team with

coming up with a backdrop layout that he had never seen before. He said that because the ballroom is not in use every day anymore, he and his team are able to experiment with new ideas. The backdrop that is behind the host was created, designed and put up by students. “We are a pedestal for the students and their ideas. We are a hand in the operation. They take care of everything and we are here if they need us,” Carter and Goninan both said. For more information on upcoming events, make sure to follow @ cwucampusactivities on Instagram or @cwucampus on Twitter.



February 16, 2021

Without animals life would be “ruff” RachelAnn Degnan Senior Reporter


n Ellensburg, some students have found that having a furry companion helps them better handle school and life stresses. Naomi Whiting, a junior studying French, has had her rabbit in the dorms with her since February of her freshman year. “I grew up having animals around all the time, and I didn’t realize that it was such an important part of my existence until I got [to Ellensburg] my freshman year, and I walked into the pet store, and I almost started crying because it reminded me of my animals,” Whiting said. During midterms, Whiting participated in an event where rabbits were brought to the dorms to help students destress. She said she fell in love with the cute rabbits and decided that she needed to adopt one. “I literally called my parents that night and was like ‘Hey, I’m getting a bunny. This call is to inform you. I am not actually asking permission,’” Whiting said. Whiting said her rabbit, Carmen, has been a positive change in her life. “She’s kind of a focus point for me. [If] I ever need to take a break, and like calm down, I can go and give her snuggles,” Whiting said. “She actually knows now if I am getting emotionally upset or just like really frustrated, and she will actually dig at the front of her cage for me to let her out so she can come and get pets and get me to settle down again.” Bekah Longmire, a senior studying biomedical science, has had various animals in her life that have left a positive lasting impact on her. “We had goats, horses, dogs, cats, chickens, fish and cows in my childhood home,” Longmire said. “I never had a deep connection with the chicken, cows, fish and goats, but my love for my horses, dogs and cats is profound.” Currently, Longmire lives with her dog Gemma and, at one point, had her horses in Ellensburg with her. “When I had my horses here, I never felt bored or lonely. I got Gemma in August, and she has quickly become my best friend,” Longmire said. “She is always waiting for me and greets me enthusiastically at the door. It’s extremely comforting and always brightens my day.” Longmire said she believes that animals are a gift to humanity and that having an animal is a blessing that makes your life a million times better. “There’s nothing better than the love you can share with a furry friend, and I believe that everyone should have the chance to experience the unconditional love that comes with owning a pet,” Longmire said. According to an interview in Smithsonian Magazine with Greger Larson, director of the University of Oxford’s palaeogenomics and bio-archaeology research network, “humans have likely kept baby animals for amusement as long as humans have lived. But, usually, as those babies matured and became less cute and perhaps more unruly, they ended up being thrown back into the wild or maybe even eaten.” In the digital publication Buffalo Rising, Timm Otterson, DVM, wrote an article saying that animals are seen as companions and emotional friends. “The emotional benefits for people [can include] having increased self-worth from caring for, training, and nurturing another living being. Pets also relieve loneliness, reduce anxiety, and can be invaluable for children,” Otterson wrote.

Photo courtesy of Bekah Longmire

February 16, 2021

COVID-19 affects the Girl Scouts business



Local non-profit organization receives community help after thieves take $10,000 worth of items

Nidia Torres Staff Reporter

David Snyder Staff Reporter

From the fresh tanginess of lemon to the lush, buttery toffee flavor, the choices of flavors are many when it comes to the Girl Scouts of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho (GSEWNI). GSEWNI have maintained their popularity and demand. It wasn’t until the pandemic started that they were forced to adapt to the changing circumstances. COVID-19 has affected many businesses worldwide, however, it didn’t derail GSEWNI’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Brian Newberry from providing that Girl Scout experience to every girl out there. Before COVID-19, Girl Scouts all over eastern Washington and northern Idaho continued their cookie-selling businesses successfully. There were no bumps in the road at that time. However, when the pandemic started, the Girl Scouts and troop leaders had to switch things up to still sell their cookies. Newberry explains that many Girl Scouts had already ordered cookies, the only thing they had to do was deliver them. But when the pandemic started, businesses shut down and the Girl Scouts were left with numerous amounts of cookies. “Last year, our challenge was we ordered all these cookies in a time when we didn’t know what [COVID-19] was and then to sell it, it was a really challenging time,” Newberry said. “Our girls did it and not only that [but] the community rose up and supported us.” According to Newberry, 34,000 cookies were donated to health care workers and the military. He shares that in August, as they were finishing up the last of their cookie orders, Girl Scouts were able to deliver 18,000 cookies in one week. “That’s over $100,000 of cookies were pushed out in one week to our health care workers primarily, but also military as well,” Newberry said. “Just to be part of something like that just always puts smiles on our faces because it’s a great organization and what starts it all [is] great girls who are out there doing it.” Even through the pandemic, Girl Scouts in all areas of Washington have continued to deliver cookies, all while maintaining the necessary safety and health guidelines for the community. Chief Operating Officer (COO) Renee Smock shares the pandemic has increased the demand for Girl Scout Cookies. According to Smock, because Girl Scouts have a variety of different locations throughout eastern Washington and northern Idaho, different areas have been impacted by COVID-19 in different ways. “They’ve done a lot of really incredible things in their virtual space, and in places like northern Idaho they’ve sometimes been able to do outdoor meetings or small group meetings,” Smock said.

When Kittitas Environmental Education Network (KEEN) staff members arrived at Helen McCabe State Park on Feb. 1, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. That was, until they noticed someone had broken the lock off their storage shed at the park. Environmental Education Director Carlyn Saunders said when they opened the door, everything of substance was gone. They estimated a loss of around $10,000 worth of items, ranging from waders and inflatable boats to boxes of knitting yarn. These were materials used for KEEN’s youth education program Earth Explorers. “We had big bins full of a bunch of different things,” Saunders said. “Our assumption is that [the thieves] really didn’t know exactly what they were taking.” Saunders said law enforcement hasn’t found any leads but hinted that the theft might be drug-related because the stolen items could presumably be sold for quick cash. She thinks KEEN’s chances of getting the stolen items back are low. Because KEEN is a non-profit, the items taken were funded by grant and donation money KEEN had gathered over the last six years. Without insurance or the financial resources to immediately replace the items, Saunders said the impact on KEEN’s educational programming is huge. The Earth Explorers program mirrors the Ellensburg School District’s current hybrid education model, which has students in the classroom twice a week. Students registered for the program can spend their virtual learning days outdoors with KEEN doing hands-on STEM learning activities. According to Saunders, the stolen items were used to add educational depth to the program’s activities. “While these items directly don’t impact our ability to continue operating our program, they are definitely items that go a long way in enriching the content of our program,” Saunders said. “The waders help us get the kids out into the water, so [they] can start learning about macroinvertebrates and water quality.”

Photo by Casey Rothgeb/The Observer A wish list has been curated on KEEN’s website of stolen items to help recoup the losses.

Turning to the community Shortly after announcing the incident on social media, KEEN received donation offers from people looking to help the organization rebound. KEEN then created a wish list on its website comprised of the items that were lost. Saunders said the organization has since received an influx of donations from people all over the county and state, sending in everything from money to used items. Although the donations aren’t close to making up for the total loss, Saunders said they help get the organization on a path towards recovery. “We’re hoping that some of the smaller stuff that we use daily will be replaced over the next couple of weeks,” Saunders said. “Everyone is horrified that this has happened, especially the parents whose kids we see every week.” Ashley Nordberg, a local psychiatric nurse practitioner, has three young boys involved in KEEN programming. She encouraged people on Facebook to help the organization because it helped get her kids outdoors safely during the pandemic. “[KEEN] saw a need, and they went out, and they found a way to address it in [a] magnificent way,” Nordberg said. “I’ve just been really fortunate that [my kids] have that opportunity to get out with other kids and still have an opportunity to engage with people and learn.”

Nordberg said she donated a large sum to KEEN back in the summer. Now she’s sifting through her garage to collect anything she can to give to the organization. Bárbara del Mar Robles bought a few items from KEEN’s wish list to donate. As the director of teaching academies with the CWU College of Education, she felt it was important to support KEEN because of their work to create awareness for nature-based education. “Interacting with nature for small children really gives them the opportunity to think and to ask questions, and just develop inquisitive minds,” Robles said. “From one educator to another, I couldn’t not support KEEN.” Going forward According to Saunders, one of KEEN’s main focuses is connecting locals to their outdoor spaces. Saunders said the generosity of people in the community reaffirms the organization’s work over the past two decades. While KEEN may have to rely on future grant funds to replace everything that was lost, Saunders said the current donations are an indication of people’s investment in youth education. “We’re proud of their desire to put our kids’ education first and our kid’s opportunities first,” Saunders said. “We’re very proud to be involved in this community we have here.”

Photo by Casey Rothgeb/The Observer Thieves stole $10,000 worth of items from waders and inflatable boats to boxes of knitting yarn for KEEN’s youth education program Earth Explorers.


Ellensburg honors Black History Mont Written by Madalyn Banouvong and Star Diavolikis Designed By Rebekah Blum


ecently, a proclamation in Ellensburg has been made to honor and celebrate Black voices for the month of February, which is Black History Month. At the beginning of this month, the Ellensburg City Council named February as African American History Month in Ellensburg. In the official papers from Mayor Bruce Tabb, it states “the City of Ellensburg Recognizes and honors the many African Americans residing herein who contribute to the strength and vibrancy of our community.” The document reads that all citizens are encouraged to celebrate and join in observance as the community builds bridges of understanding and friendship. This seems to be the first official recognition of Black History Month for the City of Ellensburg, and it has now begun to highlight and embrace such an important part of its heritage. Important figures have been recognized in the proclamation as well. Among others, it recognizes the first Black settler, pioneer Frank M. Henson, a Civil War veteran who came to work in Kittitas County as a ranch hand in 1886 and became an integral part of the community, John Golden, veteran of the Spanish American War’s 9th Cavalry and one of the first to integrate Washington State baseball in 1906, and Roslyn’s William Craven, Washington State’s first African American elected mayor in 1975. In addition to those addressed in the proclamation, the Kittitas County Historical Museum is also paying tribute to im-

portant Black figures who have shaped the community. They have begun by sharing stories and early photographs of “African Americans across the United States and those specific to Kittitas County,” on their social media pages in celebration. Recently, they have shared the story of Raymond Bert Marshall, who in the obituary published in the Ellensburg Daily Record, “was noted as being the first African American individual from Ellensburg to die while serving their country.” Marshall relocated with his family to Ellensburg in early 1928, where he attended Ellensburg High School. In 1944, he enlisted at his local draft board office and served for 19 months before a vehicle accident ended his life. He was laid to rest with honor in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. Black History Month has an extensive history. According to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) website, Carter G. Woodson of Washington D.C. traveled to Chicago for a celebration of the emancipation anniversary. “Thousands of African Americans travelled from across the country to see exhibits highlighting the progress their people had made since the destruction of slavery,” the ASALH website said. On Sept. 9, 1915, Woodson met with multiple people, including A. L. Jackson, to form the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). “He hoped that others would popularize the findings that he and other black intellectuals would publish in The Journal of Negro History, which he established

in 1916,” the ASALH website reads. “As early as 1920, Woodson urged black civic organizations to promote the achievements that researchers were uncovering. A graduate member of Omega Psi Phi, he urged his fraternity brothers to take up the work. In 1924, they responded with the creation of Negro History and Literature Week, which they renamed Negro Achievement Week.” In February of 1926, Woodson created a press release announcing “Negro History Week.” Woodson’s decision to choose February was “for reasons of tradition and reform,” the ASALH website reads. For Woodson, February contained the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, which meant a lot to him. Once Negro History Week gained popularity across the country, Woodson and his colleagues had to rush to keep up with the swift rise of recognition. They provided study materials, a theme for the annual celebration and created ASNLH branches across the country. In the 1940’s, the Black community in the West Virginia area began to celebrate February as “Negro History Month.” Once this gained traction on college campuses, Black History Month replaced Negro History Week in the late 1960’s. “In 1976, fifty years after the first celebration, the Association used its influence to institutitionalize the shifts from a week to a month and from Negro history to black history,” the ASALH website said. “Since the mid-1970s, every American president, Democrat and Republican, has issued proclamations endorsing the Association’s annual theme.”

Carter Woodson


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February 16, 2021


I don’t care about your social media posts, get involved if you care Rey Green Columnist

If you are truly for us, you’ll stand with us, you’ll help us and you’ll be a part of the change. If black lives matter to you you’ll do more than just post about it on social media. Posting a black screen, recycling posts with a lot of great knowledge to help understand black culture is not enough. What’s the point of knowing all this information just to forget about it as soon as it goes away from your 24 hour post that lasts on your Instagram or Snapchat story? There isn’t one. Go to a protest, talk and have a serious uncomfortable conversation with a friend of a different race or ethnic background. Step outside of your comfort zone, get out of your little box and actually be a part of the change. You can’t be a part of the change if you don’t change yourself. You’re probably wondering, well how do I change myself? You have to have an understanding. Sadly a lot of schools don’t teach real black history as much as they need to. It’s evident that a lot of people are unaware how much black people actually did for society whether it was willingly or forced.

Once you gather that understanding of black culture and feel comfortable enough to step into the movement, get into the movement for the right reason. Attend a protest, attend a diversity meeting, get involved in a club, something, anything. Be proactive. If the history books are being written right now which side of history would you want to be on? Would you want to be on the side that tried to oppress people just because of the color of their skin? Or would you want to be on the side that helped fight for the rights everyone deserves? I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t feel right knowing that I turned a blind eye to something that is wrong. Malcolm X once said in regards to human rights, “Human rights are something you were born with. Human rights are your God-given rights. Human rights are the rights that are recognized by all nations of this earth. And any time any one violates your human rights, you can take them to the world court.” Whether you believe in God or not, everyone is born with basic human rights and should have them but that’s not the case in America. Black and white people live in two different America’s.

Malcolm X also said, “We can never get civil rights in America until our human rights are first restored. We will never be recognized as citizens there until we are first recognized as humans.” With those powerful, truthful words Malcolm X spoke, it should open your eyes to how many black people feel because of how we are treated. It’s made very apparent from the side looks, the little shady comments, the misunderstanding, the judging, the stereotyping, the racism, the racial slurs the whole nine yards. After reading this column completely and you find it in your heart to do something about the racial injustice black people experience in this world we live in, I want to be the first to welcome you to the beginning of fighting the good fight for what’s right. Graphic by Rebekah Blum

Korean dramas: the next level for rom-com lovers up Park Seo Joon and I promise you there is no going back, you’re hooked. Don’t worry, I wouldn’t tell you all this and not recommend some great K-Dramas. These are some of my favorites and some of the sites you can watch them on.

Milenne Quinonez Columnist

Look, I won’t argue, and I agree that romantic comedies in the 1980s were truly a masterpiece. I mean who doesn’t like “Sixteen Candles” starring the classic Molly Ringwald? I think we can almost all agree any teenage cutesy rom-com movie starring Ringwald was going to be good. We can’t forget about Julia Roberts, the “Pretty Woman” everyone wanted to be. It’s safe to say Hollywood used Roberts well. She was the it girl of rom-coms and probably the reason current rom-coms aren’t doing so well. 2018 wasn’t a bad year for rom-coms either. I loved “Crazy Rich Asians” as much as the next person, maybe a little more, but it’s because I truly believe it was a well-rounded cast and they weren’t afraid to use an entire cast of Asian people. That idea alone might have scared some people out of making the movie because, well, we all know Hollywood and diversity do not go well together. But, that’s precisely why the movie did so well. Okay, so now hear me out, Korean Dramas? Don’t worry, I won’t try to recruit you to watch K-Dramas like I’m part of some cult, but I will say I believe you are missing out. So for a basic run down of K-Dramas, they are regular TV shows, typically one season long with a maximum of 16 episodes and each episode being an hour long. They are not

“Strong Girl Do Bong-Soon” (Viki Rakuten) Literally the cutest K-drama ever. It’s about a girl with super powers who gets hired by the CEO of a gaming company to be his bodyguard. There’s also a crazy woman kidnapper on the loose who she tries to help find (crazy, I know).

Graphic by Rebekah Blum

only rom-coms, but can be other genres such as period romances or thrillers. I know, I know, the shows are in Korean and subtitles are annoying to read, but like Bong Joon Ho once said, “Once you overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” I think the dude knew what he was talking about, after all, he won an Oscar award for a film that was entirely in Korean. The movie is “Parasite” by the way, and it’s a great film. Again, although the shows are in Korean and the only way to follow along is through subtitles, I strongly believe that shouldn’t stop people from enjoying shows in different languages. Take anime for example, all of them are in Japanese and people love those. Granted people watch it dubbed in English, but

don’t even get me started on that. Do I think K-Dramas have better romantic comedies? I’m not claiming that, but I do think they are great. There is a great mixture of comedy and romance, and some dramas even have mystery and crime. It’s like “Criminal Minds” but the love triangles are much more intense. Rom-coms are my favorite because, as someone who is a hopeless romantic, I still wish for that cute happy ending. I also know what it’s like to scroll through Netflix aimlessly for hours just trying to find something new, fun and different. Ever since the beginning of the pandemic I struggled to sit and enjoy anything but getting into K-Dramas allowed me to open my mind to a new culture, language and food. If you’re still not convinced by what I’m telling you just search

“Crash Landing on You” (Netflix) This one is a bit more romantic, but still funny. It’s about a woman who is the CEO of a beauty line. One day she goes paragliding and somehow lands in North Korea. Since it’s illegal for South Koreans to enter North Korea, especially illegally, she’s basically stuck. The plot thickens when she falls in love with a North Korean soldier. “What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim” (Viki Rakuten, Hulu) This one is much more lighthearted. It is about a woman who has been a secretary for a CEO (I know, another CEO) for over nine years and has done everything for him. One day, she decides she wants to do something else with her life and gives her notice to quit. Her narcissistic boss doesn’t like this idea and in order to get her stay he tries to make her fall in love with him.

February 16, 2021



Broadway stays closed but football has curtains up Madalyn Banouvong Columnist On Feb. 7 Super Bowl 55 was kicked off between the Buccaneers and the Chiefs. During a pandemic it is hard to imagine being anywhere surrounded by 25,000 people. For football, fans gathered with masks and hand sanitizer to watch this superspreader event go down, while others are struggling with their health, finances and jobs. The NFL has previously permitted that 22,500 would only be permitted and out of the 25,000 that did show up, there were “approximately 7,500 vaccinated health care workers who were given free tickets by the NFL,” according to NBC Sports. Many artists who have jobs that require huge crowds like these have had to cancel their tours and see fans virtually from home to the best of their ability. Actors on Broadway have been out of work for months since they found out theaters would remain closed until the end of 2020 and have yet to see an opening date. The theater with one of the largest seating capacities on Broadway is the Broadway Theatre in midtown Manhattan. It seats 1,761 guests in one room. Obviously masks and social distancing make it more difficult to navigate the spaces of other theatres. All parties involved in each individual running show were devastated in April when Broadway went dark. Some shows, such as “Mean Girls” and “Beetlejuice,” even lost so much money during the shutdown that they have decided not to come back once the street is reopened. It became apparent to those in this business that in order to come back they needed

Graphic by Meghan Salsbury

to do so as safely as possible, even if it meant risking their jobs. The Actor’s Fund is an organization that serves all professionals who have professions in film, theater, television, music, opera, radio and dance. They are helped by the fund through programs that address their community’s unique and essential needs. Recently their needs have been to help actors with COVID-19 relief during such a long period of unemployment. According to, “In the first nine months of 2020, a total of 30,000 people were assisted by the

Fund’s grants and services, a sign of the economic toll that the theater shutdown has taken on the men and women who make a living on the stage. [70%] of those supported last year were performers (actors, singers, dancers, musicians), with the other 30% rounded out by behindthe-scenes workers including stagehands, lighting and sound technicians, hair and make-up, writers, directors and producers.” At the beginning of 2021, TikTok creators collaborated with a crew of Broadway actors to host a virtual showing of Ratatouille: The TikTok

Musical. That was a huge success and raised over $2 million dollars in ticket sales that was donated to the actors fund. So as these actors are struggling to stay afloat with help from fans, the sports world is risking the health and safety of thousands of Americans by allowing events like the Super Bowl to keep proceeding. If other professionals are allowed to do their jobs then Broadway actors deserve the same amount of value and respect that is shown to others with larger audiences.

CWU lazy, premature with online graduation Derek Harper Columnist The decision by Central Washington University to put graduation fully online again this year was premature, taking the easy way out and simply lazy. The school called it way too early. It’s an excuse to not put the work in when there are ways to do at least a hybrid model where students can still walk across the stage and be recognized for their hard work. The Arizona Coyotes NHL franchise started the season off last month allowing 3,450 fans in the building which is 25% of their normal listed capacity. Any fans attending home games must wear masks and use an app players used in the NHL bubbles last season called CLEAR. Fans must verify their identity with a selfie and answer some health questions. After arriving, they must show their green health pass on the CLEAR app. Obviously CWU can’t do something as elaborate as this, but it shows how precautions can be taken. It’d be as easy as testing students prior to graduation day. I also understand some students still may not feel safe in person. Those students could still see their name in the online presentation and just not walk across the stage.

Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona is also allowing a limited number of fans in. We’re seeing this with various sports and even more teams allowing limited fans in, yet we can’t walk across the stage for graduation to receive the recognition we deserve? We saw last week how they had over 25k fans at the Super Bowl in Tampa Bay, Florida. It wouldn’t take much to ensure a safe graduation ceremony and it’s honestly more than just a symbolic ceremony. I was really looking forward to walking at Central because in high school I walked with a school I didn’t even go to. I did home connection and Running Start in high school and I can acknowledge that was my own choosing and academically it went great. But to say I was looking forward to walking at a school I actually went to is an understatement. I can also acknowledge the fact that there are students even more deserving than me of walking across the stage. This especially goes for first generation college students whose families dreamt of the day somebody in their family would walk across a college graduation stage. It’s already tough enough mentally and academically that most

classes are online when news keeps coming out about how it’s safe to be back in the classroom with necessary precautions. Then we get the news we’ll be seeing our name scroll across an advertisement for the school for graduation. While they say we can use this time to make sure it’s more personalized how much more does that really mean? Adding a couple pictures with your name is like putting paper over a broken window to create a temporary fix. While CWU claims to have spent a great deal of time going through hybrid options, I truly feel that’s an excuse for not wanting to take the time to brainstorm or even reach out to students for input. They claim it’s not possible to bring thousands of people into town which makes sense, but that isn’t even necessary for an in-person hybrid graduation ceremony. I understand that they have to abide by the state and regional health departments. However, schools need to wake up and tell the state that it’s possible to let their students walk across the stage. Speeches can be done online while small groups are called to walk across the stage. Instead of having large groups staged in the SURC and at Tomlinson Stadium, students should stay in their apartment,

dorm or wherever they’re residing at the time. Students could be grouped by their last name in small groups such as A through B or C. When the last group of each set of students gets close to finishing, the next set of students could be called to stage whether by text, email, on the radio at 88.1 The Burg or even scheduled staging. Instead of having parents and family members attend, you could have a photographer staged nearby to take their picture which would be sent to them later in digital format or printed and sent in mail with their real diploma later after the ceremony. We deserve to hear our name called, walk across the stage to receive the diploma from school officials to be recognized for our hard work and switch the tassel on our cap to the other side. I truly feel by seeing how other institutions have handled graduation ceremonies during these unprecedented times that it’s possible for this to happen. Just take a look at the responses on social media to the announcement of graduation being online. They really show how there are a lot of other students and even parents that feel it could be done in person, even in a small capacity like I’ve laid out.


February 16, 2021


Basketball game postponed due to positive COVID-19 test Mitchell Roland Editor-in-Chief While CWU’s men’s basketball team was slated to start their season late last week, the game was postponed after a positive COVID-19 test in the program. A member of the program’s tier one, which includes players, coaches, and managers, tested positive on Feb. 3. Both a planned scrimmage and the game, which were slated for Feb. 12 and Feb. 13 between CWU and Northwest Nazarene University (NNU), were then postponed on Feb. 11. The basketball team announced their six-game 2021 schedule on Feb. 4, which means the game was announced after the positive test, while players and coaches were in quarantine. “We work collaboratively with our campus medical staff, our county health officials, and our administration to determine what is in the best interest of the student-athletes and staff, and what is within the NCAA guidelines that our entire conference is adhering to,” CWU Athletic Director Dennis Francois said. “In this situation, the final decision to postpone the game was not until days prior to the game - so on Feb. 4 we were still working towards playing.” Francois the positive test came from weekly PCR tests the tier one group receives, which are tested through the University of Washington labs. In addition to weekly tests, student-athletes have temperature and symptom checks. Once a member of the tier-1 tested positive, the athletic department consulted with university administrators as well as local health officials. Francois said part of the NCAA’s COVID-19 protocols allow for local health officials to determine whether a game should be played. “We just felt that it probably wasn’t in our best interest, the best interest of our student-athletes and coaches and staff,” Francois said, “as well as NNU and their student-athletes and staff to facilitate our game this weekend due to that positive test.”

Photo by Casey Rothgeb/The Observer

The men’s basketball game scheduled for Feb. 13 was postponed after someone in the program tested positive for COVID-19. After the results came back, the group quarantined and did not hold practice. The lack of practice before the game played a role in the decision to postpone it. “Knowing that we would be coming off an essentially seven-plus days of quarantine, and no practice, and then stepping right into game situations with maybe only one practice under our belt, definitely wasn’t in the best interest of our student-athletes,” Francois said. Francois said the Feb. 12 scrimmage “was supposed to be a good test run for us and the whole [COVID-19] environment in terms of how to facilitate a game.” Brandon Rinta, the men’s basketball coach, said while the postponement was disappointing, he understands “why we need to postpone these games.” “If you’ve been following college athletics, you know that this is part of the equation,” Rinta said. “As far as, this is a possibility

when you get into playing games, whether them being canceled or postponed.” Rinta said the players on the team had a similar reaction when they learned the game would be postponed. Despite the first game of the season being postponed due to a case of COVID-19, Rinta said he did not have any hesitation about playing this season. Rinta said during the quarantine, the team remained in contact with each other and held some virtual bodyweight workouts. If and when the basketball team does play their first game of the season, Rinta said it “will be a big step towards normalcy.” “Even with the two and a half weeks that we have been able to spend together and practice, we’ve been able to experience a sense of normalcy in all of our lives that we haven’t been able to experience for the last 12 months,” Rinta said. “These student-athletes, basketball is a huge part of their life.”

Rinta said he was appreciative of all the work CWU’s administration has done to get student-athletes back on the court. According to Francois, the athletic department has been “strict with how we approached it” and none of the positive tests in the athletic department so far could be traced back to athletic participation. Francois said they are a result of “all of the things that people are doing outside of the time when they’re in practice.” As of now, the men’s basketball is scheduled to play their first game of the season on Feb. 19 against Seattle Pacific University (SPU) before traveling to Seattle to play SPU on Feb. 20. The NNU game has tentatively been rescheduled for early March, though no date has been announced. Francois said that before the season started, the athletic department wouldn’t “scramble” to find another opponent if their original opponent cancels a game due to COVID-19.

Men’s and Women’s basketball well prepared for a long waited season Gabriel Strasbaugh Staff reporter

The cancellation of GNAC championships has not stopped the competitive edge of the Wildcats. The men’s and women’s basketball teams prepare for upcoming exhibition games that could begin as early as this weekend. The men are slated to take on Northwest Nazarene on Feb. 13, while the women prepare for backto-back home competitions against Seattle Pacific and Saint Martin’s on Feb. 26. Men’s senior guard Xavier Smith said the team has relished for the opportunity to get back on the court. CWU was one of eight schools who agreed to cancel the season and head straight into the 2022 campaign. Regardless of

the games being exhibitions, Smith is confident the team will perform well. “That’ll keep our competitive juices flowing well, during this time just to put some normal type of aspect around it,” Smith said. “Helping us build something.” Smith believes these games will also be a great test for the future seasons. “I think these games we are getting ready to play starting this week, hopefully, will play a big part of that and our vision for next year with what we are looking to do,” Smith said. Following a .500 conference season, men’s head coach Brandon Rinta said that the strides of his team’s maturation process is what will be the defining characteristic in the pursuit of a championship ring.

“We are using it as an opportunity to approach next year,” Rinta said. “Even with the small amount of time we’ve been able to get on the court so far has been extremely helpful in those regards.” The time off the court for Rinta was the perfect opportunity to test his team’s adversity. “We thought of it as an opportunity to think outside of the box,” Rinta said. The unexpected offseason led to both teams studying film and essentially going back to the basics. “What we ended up doing is learning and focusing energy into skill work all Fall,” Rinta said. For some players like sophomore point guard Cassidy Gardner, the time off, along with exhibition games, were

a good opportunity to recoup from injuries and build chemistry. While preparing to be a part of a new team, she believes can contend for a title. “I would argue my team is the best group of girls I have ever been around,” Gardner said. “I cannot wait for us to be able to go out and show people what we can do because I know [CWU] has been overlooked in the past. We’re gonna be dangerous and I have no problem saying that.” According to Gardner, her team’s greatest strength is the relationships the players share with one another. “We want everyone to be successful. It doesn’t matter who scores or who doesn’t,” Gardner said. “We just want to win.”

February 16, 2021



Northwest League to High-A West Derek Harper Staff Reporter The Northwest League saw quite a few changes during the off-season with Major League Baseball’s realignment of Minor League Baseball (MiLB). The Northwest League saw the loss of the Boise Hawks and Salem-Keizer Volcanoes as well as a rebrand to High-A West. The league also moved up to the Single-A Advanced level, two steps up from Single-A Short Season, the previous level. Single-A Short Season also doesn’t exist any longer so the lowest rung is Low-A. The California League was previously the Single-A Advanced league on the west coast, but that has now rebranded as Low-A West with the Northwest League becoming High-A West. The Boise Hawks joined the Pioneer League which used to be at the Rookie Advanced level of MiLB, but is now an MLB partnered professional independent league. Salem-Keizer on the other hand formed their own four team professional independent league called Mavericks Independent Baseball League. The league is named after the old independent professional team, the Portland Mavericks. The four team Mavericks Independent Baseball League will also include the Salem Senators and the Volcanoes

Copa de la Diversion identity, the Campesinos de Salem-Keizer as a team. Copa de la Diversion is an initiative by MiLB to promote the sport and connect its teams to its Hispanic/Latino communities. The Senators is the name of a past minor league team that had called Salem home. When the initial cut list of MiLB teams came out, the Tri-City Dust Devils were on it. However, when the official announcement came out, Dust Devils fans got the relief they were hoping for learning that their team was safe from getting cut. It was announced that the team would be switching affiliates from the San Diego Padres to the Los Angeles Angels. For Erik Mertens, the on-field host for the Tri-City Dust Devils and MiLB enthusiast, it was a confusing off-season. “This whole plan came out in October of 2019 and then in November of 2019, they leaked out the first draft of the cut list and the Dust Devils were on it,” Mertens said. “But then just a few weeks after that everyone, Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball, came out and said that list is already outdated and that came to be true.” Mertens explained how a lot of the teams that were on that list survived while others that weren’t on the list, did get cut. But for those in the Tri-Cities,

they’re just relieved they still have a team and are ready to get back to the ballpark. Former writer for the Athletic and Baseball Prospectus Jeff Wiser touched on everything that went down over the pandemic extended off-season which saw 42 teams get cut from MiLB. “I think the Northwest League in particular was one of the leagues that was going to be a little vulnerable,” Wiser said. “Some of these leagues with teams in older stadiums in places where the attendance is not very good, the stadium hasn’t been rehabilitated, they were always just going to be a little vulnerable.” With the jump from short season to High-A, fans have more opportunities to go and enjoy a day out at the ballpark. “I think Minor League Baseball in all aspects, affiliated or collegiate woodbat or independent, is a huge part of the Northwest culture,” Mertens said. Wiser touched on why it’s exciting having High-A in the region now. He said fans in the Northwest should be very excited with how many magnitudes better High-A baseball is compared to what it was before. “The rubber really starts to hit the road for players come High-A,” Wiser said. “You don’t make it to High-A and/ or carve out significant playing time for yourself if your team doesn’t think that you can one day hack it and make it as a big leaguer.”

Photo by Derek Harper/The Observer



February 16, 2021

CWU’s Volleyball staff has a positive mindset for preparation this year Deacon Tuttle Staff Reporter

CWU’s volleyball program is gearing up with the prospect of a season. The coaches and trainers across the board are stepping into this time with specific goals in mind. Head coach Mario Andaya’s objective is for the team to stay grounded for this spring season moving into the fall. With the 8-match schedule coming, his coaching is centered on fundamentals. His focus is to work toward the type of play that has landed CWU 8-straight NCAA playoff appearances. Andaya has led this team for the past 25 years. According to Andaya, his earlier years focused on hands-on examples with guidance and teaching. “Now it’s gotten to a more of a cerebral type of approach,” said Andaya. This involves film and platforms that allow this advancement towards the competition that was not present before. Zoom meetings introduce new opportunities for additional knowledge and spacing.

To aspiring coaches, Andaya said to be very open-minded. Be very meticulous in planning and continue to learn. All of these factors keep him loving what he does. Director of strength and conditioning Erik Hoium said, the relationship built with the athletes is imperative. The constant for Hoium is demonstrating care for all the players on the team. Not having the players around affected last year. “These student athletes are our lives,” said Hoium. These relationships are foundational. Hoium said it took a toll on him when the pandemic struck. Hoium wants to accomplish his due diligence for the team’s benefit in research. “We’re not going to ask them to do anything that doesn’t translate to success on the floor,” said Hoium. Hoium said that they had to get creative with the science aspect of training due to COVID-19. Without gyms, the shift towards conditioning intensified and they answered by utilizing sprint work programs. Now that spring is in season the

Photo courtesy ofPhoto CWUcourtesy athleticsof Gridiron Head coach Mario Andaya assisting his players in a drill during volleyball practice.

team will lean into power and speed training. Assistant head coach Lauren Herseth is stepping into her second year with CWU. Herseth played with CWU’s volleyball team during her college tenure and then made the jump to coaching. “I want to give that back to the players we have now,” said Herseth. She wants to provide her player-coach experiences to propel the players forward.

A year has passed since CWU hired Herseth. She said that last year was about getting to know the players. Since then, the players and her have built relationships and the coaching has grown easier. When asked about her coaching philosophy, Herseth said Andaya continues to be an influence. Herseth wants to prepare for the fall because that is the season that matters and a championship is on the line.

A long offseason gives the softball team an opportunity to build their culture Dakaline White Staff Reporter Alison Mitchell’s first season of her dream job as head coach of CWU’s softball team was cut short due to the nation-wide COVID-19 pandemic. “I’m the eternal optimist,” Mitchell said. “We’re an outdoor sport so you know, maybe we’ll have to tweak a little bit of what we do but it’s just a suspension. We’ll still play, it’s no big deal guys. We’ll just stay ready to go.” Mitchell said she was in the optimistic phase. Then once the shutdown became permanent, she went through the grief cycle. “I was ignoring it; I didn’t believe it. I got angry honestly, like really angry,” Mitchell said. “I got sad and then the final stage of acceptance. This is the way it is. We’ve got to work ourselves through it. Let’s just do what we can and hope we get a chance to play next year and luckily we’re getting that opportunity.” Sophomore outfielder Allie Thiessen said the team found out before what ended up being their last game, that there was a possibility of that game being the end to the season. “At the end of that game we all kind of just sat together. It was a little bit emotional, especially for those seniors who had a short send off,” Thiessen said. “Ever since that time we’ve all still been working for that same goal. It’s been almost a year since that last game. We’re hoping to pick up where we left off.” Senior shortstop Sydney Brown said the ending of the season was like a rollercoaster for the team.

“We came together before our last game and just said this might be it, let’s just give it our all. Let’s go out with a bang,” Brown said. “That’s exactly what we did. We came together and focused and had a really close game.” After the game Brown said the team hit the low of the rollercoaster but they tried to follow sadness with positivity. “It was really fun to be a part of that, to show that we are able to do such great things and we are able to come together and focus on a common goal,” Brown said. The deadline for GNAC schools to opt-in or opt-out of this upcoming season is Feb. 18. As of right now, Coach Mitchell and the team are opting in for the season. “Our administration has done a great job working with county health officials and communicating with President Gaudino about what are the risks and what are the safety measures we can take to keep our players safe,” Mitchell said. “They have worked so tirelessly for us to have this opportunity to play and I’m so grateful for it and I know the players are too.” At the end of spring quarter last year, Mitchell and the coaching staff split the players on the team into four family groups. These groups contained freshmen through seniors. Mitchell did not want the players to feel isolated during the COVID-19 shut down. “We did little competitions between family groups and they just had a lot of fun,” Mitchell said. “I think it’s just a byproduct of changing that culture and it has just been a lot of fun to watch that happen.”

Graphic by Ilse Orta Mederos

Being able to work together while creating friendships is a goal of the softball team. “Those days like going out in the snow and having competitions even in quarantine, having competitions over Zoom keeps a good vibe between the whole team,” Thiessen said. “We’ve created good bonds through it all.” Through a pandemic, the team has expanded on their relationship. Brown said the team has the get it down attitude but realizes it is important to have fun while doing it.

“This is a game,” Brown said. “This is supposed to be fun and our coaches help with that by giving us mental health days like with the snowball fight and she had us do fun little competitions with our family groups in the fall.” The team has a shot to play for a national championship this spring. With that goal in mind, Mitchell wants to see the team compete and live up to the standards they set for themselves.

February 16, 2021



Gridiron flag football league in progress to keep youth active

Ondrea Machin Staff Reporter It has been almost one year since the COVID-19 pandemic canceled all youth recreational sports, but the community of Ellensburg is hopeful that youth non-contact football will be offered this spring. Gridiron Football is a football league for boys and girls ages 5-17 and offers four different levels of football experience. This year, it is offering non-contact football. Emili Mays, a parent with three kids in the program, says the community tried to get this league before, but it fell through due to not enough kids being signed up. Mays said by spreading the word, it would bring another sport that Ellensburg doesn’t have for the kids. Football operation Senior Manager Denay Stell said the league plans to make non-contact football as similar to regular football as possible. To do that there will be no tackling football, just flag football. Gridiron will still be teaching the fundamentals of tackle football though. Some of the fundamentals taught are tracking players, catching and throwing the ball and learning plays and positions, without having to worry about the physical contact of tackle football. “The idea is to give kids as much knowledge about the game of foot-

Photo courtesy of Gridiron

Ellensburg Gridiron flag football league is still in the process of being created. ball and have a natural progression through each of our program offerings,” Stell said. Stell and Mays said the league will follow COVID-19 protocols as mandated by the state and any local restrictions as well. “I feel like the schools have proven that we can return safely to somethings and this is one of those things that I feel like can be done safely,” Mays said. Stell said they are checking temperatures, wearing masks at all times, having a team box and parents safety zone, spectators are required to social

distance and even the huddles have been modified to ensure safety. Special Programs Coordinator Kasey Knutson said the health department supports the community. From a public health perspective, they know sports are important for mental health, physical activity and overall health. “We want people to have physical activity. We want people outside. We want people doing the best they can to be healthy and that includes physical activity,” Knutson said. According to Knutson, the health order for Kittitas County is mir-

rored by the state mandates, which means they can be more strict with COVID-19 restrictions as they see fit. The league is set to start in spring 2021 but if Kittitas County is not in phase two by then, it will be pushed out to summer or fall. If it gets canceled due to COVID-19 Gridiron will issue refunds.

CWU football looks forward to their 2021 recruiting class Jake Tilley Staff Reporter

When asked who the top five recruits were of the incoming class, Cooper said “I wouldn’t necessarEvery year high school student-athletes ily rank them, I think they are all look forward to National Signing Day. This great kids that will play a big role in is a day that brings lots of joy and excite- our program.” Getting recruited by a team is hard ment to many athletes and their respective to do. It’s families. even harder On Feb. 3, for these kids CWU anto get recruitnounced ed during the their 18 COVID-19 new signpandemees that ic. Some of have fully these recruits commithad shortted to play ened seasons football or even no at CWU season at all next fall. making it Defenhard to get sive graduthe right exate assistant posure. and corner- AJ Cooper, Trying to back coach get recruited AJ Cooassistant football coach out of highper started school can be coaching a long, hard at CWU in process for 2019. Coomany athper played letes. It concollege football at Southern Oregon University sists of going to camps, getting game in Ashland, Oregon, where he started for film and sending out lots of emails to four years and generally assigned to the coaches showing them your film just trying to get a response or interest. opposing teams top receivers.

I think it was really good to build those relationships with them and I think we got a good group of guys.

Photo courtesy of CWU athletics

CWU’s freshman recruiting class has been strategically selected to give football an edge. The coaches put in a lot of work to find the right recruits they believe will make an impact and bring the team to the next level. They try to watch as much film as possible and go to as many camps as possible to see all the recruits they can in live action. Following COVID-19 protocols, some of the recruits were actually able to come visit and meet the coaches and see the campus in person. “I think it was really good to build those relationships with them and I think we got a good group of guys,” Cooper said.

For the recruits that didn’t get to visit, the coaches and players had to focus on keeping in touch. The coaches would watch the senior film or even try to go watch them at camps. The 2021 recruits consist of players from Washington, Oregon, Georgia and California. Cooper said “These are kids that are well known in the area and we just wanted to give the best opportunity to.” Coach Cooper put it best when describing their 2021 class when he said, “We hit the jackpot.”


February 16, 2021


Weekly Calendar

Women of Black History Month Feb. 17

Katherine Johnson - born Aug. 26, 1918, died Feb. 24, 2020

12:45-1:45 p.m. Free Masks for Students - SURC Table 4 4-6 p.m. Find Your People Series: Black Students*

Johnson was one of the first Black women to work as a NASA scientist. Her calculations of orbital mechanics were critical to the success of the first and subsequent U.S. crewed spaceflights. Johnson co-authored 26 scientific papers, was named West Virginia State College outstanding alumnus of the year in 1999 and was one of 17 Americans honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2015. She has been cited as a pioneering example of Black women in STEM.

Feb. 18

10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Department of Art and Design Faculty Exhibition opens - Sarah Spurgeon Gallery 12-1 p.m. International Cafe* 4-5 p.m. Author Talk: Dan HerMaya Angelou - born April 4, 1928, died May 28, 2014 man discusses his novel, The Angelou was a poet, author and civil rights activist. She was active in Feudist* the Civil Rights Movement and worked with Martin Luther King Jr. 7:30-9:30 p.m. Winter Concert and Malcolm X. Despite having no bachelor’s degree, in 1981 she ac- Series: G-man Denke* cepted the lifetime Reynolds Professorship of American Studies at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she was one of a few full-time Black professors. In 1993, Angelou re- Feb. 19 cited her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at the inauguration of Bill Clinton, and the recording of the poem won a Grammy Award. 12-1 p.m. Global BLM: Solidarity Across Borders*

Feb. 20

Angela Davis - born Jan. 26, 1944

National Cherry Pie Day National Muffin Day National Love Your Pet Day

Davis is a political activist, philosopher, academic and author. She was one of the founders of Critical Resistance, a national grassroots organization dedicated to building a movement to abolish the prison system. In recent works, she said the U.S. prison system resembles slavery, citing the disproportionate share of the Black population who have been incarcerated. Davis advocates focusing social efforts on education and building “engaged communities” to solve various social problems. She worked with the Black Panther Party, was an honorary co-chair of the 2017 Women’s March on Washington and, with a doctorate in philosophy, worked as a professor at multiple universities.

Feb. 21 National Sticky Bun Day

Feb. 22

Marsha P. Johnson - born Aug. 24, 1945, died July 6, 1992

2-3 p.m. ASCWU Public Meeting* 3-4 p.m. Mindful Monday Series: Yin Yoga* 7-9 p.m. Monday Movie Madness: The Cat in the Hat (2003) - SURC Theatre Rm 210*

Johnson was a Black transgender activist who was a leader in fighting for LGBTQ rights in the late 1960s. She is most well known for her role during the Stonewall Riots in 1969, which marked a turning point in the Feb. 23 gay rights movement in New York City. Johnson co-established the STAR House, a shelter for gay and trans street kids in 1972, and worked to provide 3-5 p.m. Intramurals Paddle Sports food, clothing, emotional support and a sense of family for them. Johnson Drop In - SURC Gym 153A continued to play an active part in street activism until her death in 1992. 3-4 p.m. Talking Gender Series* 4-5 p.m. Occupations in Demand: Employment statistics for our state and region*

Carol Moseley Braun - born Aug. 16, 1947

Feb. 24

Moseley Braun was the first Black woman elected to the U.S. Senate, the first Black U.S. senator from the Democratic Party, the first woman to defeat an incumbent U.S. senator in an election and the first woman U.S. senator from Illinois. After her Senate tenure, Moseley Braun served as the U.S. ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa from 1999 to 2001. She was also a candidate for the Democratic nomination in the 2004 U.S. presidential election.

12:45-1:45 p.m. Free Masks for Students - SURC Table 4 3-4:30 p.m. Dr. Daudi Abe: Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Principal’s Office?* 7-9 p.m. Trivia Wednesday: Travel The World*

Bios by Abigail Duchow Design by Ilse Orta Mederos @CWUObserver

*Virtual location for online events

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