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MONDAY, JANUARY 11, 2021
VOLUME 115 ISSUE 16 Not officially associated with the University of Florida
Published by Campus Communications, Inc. of Gainesville, Florida
Ashley Hicks & Chasity Maynard // Alligator Staff
Photos documenting the COVID-19 pandemic at UF.
UF plans in-person Spring graduation and 2020 makeup ceremonies
COMMENCEMENT PLANS WILL BE DETERMINED BY MARCH DEPENDING ON THE DISTRIBUTION OF COVID-19 VACCINATIONS
By Juliana Ferrie Alligator Staff Writer
After a year of waiting, the class of 2020 may finally get its in-person commencement ceremony. While many factors remain uncertain, the university is making an effort to hold both Spring 2021 commencement and 2020 makeup ceremonies in person at the end of the Spring semester, UF Director of Commencements Stephanie McBride said. Because of COVID-19, UF has held graduation ceremonies virtually since last Spring.
“We’re planning for the unplannable and the unknown, having never gone through a situation where you’re trying to plan for a year’s worth of makeup ceremonies,” McBride said. Although the venues are reserved, the decision to hold in-person commencement depends on the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, McBride said. The university will decide whether to proceed with its plans for inperson ceremonies by March, so students and their guests can make arrangements, she said. If the vaccine has not been made available to the general public, the events will be further postponed and possibly changed to an alternate format, she wrote. However, it’s too early to know what measurement of
W omen’s basketball drops fourth SPORTS/SPECIAL/CUTOUT
Story description finishgame with comma, pg# straight basketball After a strong first half, the Gators’ aggressive energy died down and Georgia bounced back, pg. 12
vaccine availability will be used to determine if in-person graduations are possible, McBride wrote in an email. It’s also possible that determining a vaccine threshold will fall onto the State University System since it was the agency that directed schools to have alternate formats for Fall 2020 commencement. As of now, Spring 2021 University Wide Commencement will be held in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium from April 28 to May 3. The individual college recognition ceremonies will occur at varying locations, including the Stephen C. O’Connell Center and the Phillips Center for Performing Arts, according to UF’s commencement website. Class of 2020 makeup ceremonies will take place in
SEE GRAD, PAGE 5
In-person class guidelines, COVID-19 testing results and vaccinations discussed at faculty meeting STUDENTS WILL BE CLEARED FOR CLASSES AFTER BEING TESTED, NOT AFTER TESTING NEGATIVE, ACCORDING TO COLLEGE OF LIBERAL ARTS AND SCIENCES DEAN DAVID RICHARDSON
By Meghan McGlone Alligator Staff Writer
Days before thousands of students were scheduled to return to UF’s campus, some faculty learned that about 61% of students attending in-person classes would be tested for COVID-19 by the first day of class, and students won’t need a negative test result to be cleared for campus. Faculty had the option to move their first class online but learned they could face disciplinary action for moving in-person classes online longer. These were some of the concerns brought up by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences faculty during a faculty town hall Jan. 9. The head of UF Health’s Screen, Test and Protect program Michael Lauzardo held the meeting with epidemiologist Jerne Shapiro and CLAS Dean David Richardson to address in-person class guidelines
RTS adds buses
Additional buses are being added to some routes, pg. 4
Shop local masks
Where to find face masks from local vendors in Gainesville, pg. 6
and faculty questions. Richardson sent an email to CLAS professors on Jan. 8 outlining how students are cleared to return to campus after being tested for COVID-19, not after receiving a negative test result. If a student’s result comes back positive, their status will be changed to “not cleared.” About 61% of students taking in-person classes would be tested by Jan. 11, and the remaining testing is anticipated to be mostly complete in the first week, Richardson wrote. UF spokesperson Steve Orlando confirmed the guidelines outlined in Richardson’s email and the Jan. 9 meeting apply to all UF faculty teaching in-person classes. Students will not be required to receive a negative test result before attending in-person classes because UF does not have the capacity to test all students in face-to-face classes at once, Lauzardo said in the town hall, and UF couldn’t force them to come back in time and wait for the results. Richardson included in the email that professors with in-person sections could hold the first day of classes online but could face disciplinary action if they change the structure of their class-
SEE CLAS, PAGE 5
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2 ALLIGATOR MONDAY, JANUARY 11, 2021
Today’s Weather What happens if my classmate has COVID-19?
BIWEEKLY TESTING, CONTACT TRACING AND HYFLEX ALTERNATIVES SHAKE UP IN-PERSON STUDIES
By Manny Rea and Sofia Echeverry Alligator Staff Writers
Evan Smith is taking three inperson classes this semester. Although he’s been taking classes at UF since Summer 2020, this will be the 18-year-old UF political science freshman’s first time listening to his professors’ lecture from within the same rooms. “Seeing my teachers face-to-face, even if those faces have masks on, is just miles better than sitting in my room,” Smith said. “I really hope it lasts, and I really hope we don't have a spike in cases. I hope for it to last as long as it can.” This Spring, 40% of undergraduate students are preparing for a return to in-person classes. With 350 available classrooms and 4,908 inperson undergraduate classes for Spring, UF students and faculty are relying on protocols like mandatory testing, masking and social distancing to stay safe from COVID-19. But what happens if someone in an in-person class tests positive for COVID-19? In-person classes won’t be moved online, but individuals who test positive will join an online or HyFlex alternative while they wait for an OK on their One.UF “return to campus” status, UF Student Affairs Director Sara Tanner wrote in an email. Individuals who test positive must self-isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms. Asymptomatic individuals self-isolate for 10 days after their lab collection, according to the Screen, Test & Protect hotline. They are also not required to be tested again for 90 days as any positive tests will come from the body shedding the virus. Students in the class won’t be notified about someone in their class testing positive unless they have been in close contact with a COVID-19-positive student. Close contact is defined as a distance of 6 feet for at least 15 minutes starting from 48 hours before the start of symptoms until the time the person is isolated, Tanner wrote. In this case, public health officials will reach out to suspected or confirmed infections to recall whomever they may have infected and alert those contacts, according to UF Health’s Screen, Test & Protect initiative. Close-contact people will need to self-isolate for 14 days. Faculty members will be able to access who has been cleared to attend classes, but enforcement for staying out of class will come down to personal responsibility or school sanctions like suspension and ex-
pulsion, Tanner wrote. “Helping keep our community healthy is a shared responsibility,” she wrote. “It is the individual’s responsibility to follow policies and quarantine/isolate as appropriate.” In the Fall, there were no instances of classroom-based community spread, Tanner wrote. The Fall saw 35% in-person or hybrid classes across undergrad, graduate and professional course sections. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report Jan. 8 stating that counties with universities that had in-person classes had a larger spread of COVID-19 than universities with online classes. UF is also implementing biweekly screening and testing through the One.UF portal. Any student who is residing or dining in a Greek community, living in an undergrad residence hall or attending in-person classes will need to be tested to attend in-person classes. Students do not need to test negative to be cleared for campus. As long as they have been tested, students can show instructors clearance on their One.UF that they can attend classes. If a student feels they have symptoms or may have been in contact with someone who did, they can schedule a test before the two-week mandate, Tanner wrote. A student is not cleared to return to class if they have tested positive or been in close contact with an infected person. Some students and faculty are worried these protocols may not be enough. UF English professor Malini Johar Schueller asked what her chances of being infected were if a student came to class with COVID-19 at a faculty town hall Jan. 9. She was told it was low but she wasn’t given a specific number, something she said she found unacceptable. “I have to go to work and increase my chances of getting a deadly illness for no reason whatsoever,” she said. “I do not see any reason to increase people’s chances of getting ill.” Schueller, who is teaching in person this semester, said she was concerned with the policies. “The classes went absolutely fine last semester on Zoom,” she said. “ It’s not as if we are abandoning students or abandoning face-toface instruction, which all of us absolutely love. It is just not the wisest thing to do right now.” Sarisha Boodoo, a 20-year-old UF political science and sustainability studies junior, said UF is being completely irresponsible. She opted out of taking in-person classes because of UF’s lack of accommodations and because vaccinations haven't been administered to most faculty or students. “This pandemic has really
VOLUME 115 ISSUE 16
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brought out that the university is incapable of handling these kinds of situations,” Boodoo said. “We’re not close to being over and right now I feel like the university is not at all doing it very thoughtfully.” She mentioned many faculty members also have an issue with the return to in-person classes. UF professor of Latin American studies Emilio Bruna agrees. “Even though we’ve learned a lot about COVID and how to reduce the risk of transmission, it doesn’t make sense to me why we’re going back into this situation when things are far worse now than they were before,” Bruna said. UF’s rejection of 144 requests for accommodations through the Americans with Disabilities Act as of Nov. 19 has made many professors even more wary of returning to in-person teaching. Bruna said he was fortunate enough to teach a small class that only meets once a week but spoke up for his colleagues who are at a higher risk. “You’ve got to understand, I have it easy. I think I can teach my class reasonably safely,” he said. “My concern is not for me. It’s for my colleagues that are teaching much larger classes but feel like they're in a position where they can’t speak up and say these kinds of things.” Although the changes professors are being asked to implement to adapt to online and hybrid classes could be taken in stride under the best of circumstances, Bruna said, it’s been difficult with little time to prepare and stress from the pandemic. “We’re all just exhausted,” he said. “Everybody’s exhausted.” Contact Sofia Echeverry at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @sofecheverry Contact Manny Rea at mrea@ alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @ReaManny
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MONDAY, JANUARY 11, 2021 ALLIGATOR 3
New Year. Pick up a
New Mask. To support you in practicing healthy behaviors, UF is providing a drawstring backpack complete with masks, hand sanitizer, a first-aid kit and more.
WHERE TO GET YOUR GATOR CARE KIT Gator Care Kits will be available for in-person pick up on campus through the course of the spring semester. A face covering and UF ID are required for pick up.
GatorWell in the Reitz Union Newell Hall Southwest Recreation Center Learn more about how to pick up your Gator Care Kit and about UFâ€™s mask and physical distancing policies at ufsa.ufl.edu/gatorcarekits
4 ALLIGATOR MONDAY, JANUARY 11, 2021
RTS adds more buses and keeps safety protocols in place this Spring WITH THE POSSIBLE UPTICK IN SERVICES, RTS IS PREPARED TO PROVIDE A SAFE MODE OF TRANSPORTATION FOR STUDENTS
By J.P. Oprison Alligator Staff Writer
Gainesville Regional Transit System is preparing for a surge in bus services as more UF students return to campus for in-person classes this Spring. There are nearly 5,000 in-person undergraduate class sections this Spring, which is only slightly fewer than last Spring. This means more students will use the bus system to get to campus. To accommodate for the projected uptick in services, RTS is adding four more buses to existing routes 12, 13, 20 and 38. It’s also continuing safety guidelines from Fall, said RTS spokesperson Thomas Idoyaga. The routes getting more buses are commonly used by students to go off campus to places like Butler Plaza Transfer Station, Cottage Grove Apartments, Oaks Mall and Gainesville Place. In the Fall, RTS pushed wearing masks by supplying disposable masks, posting signs that encouraged riders to wear them and launching a social media campaign to encourage the practice. These practices were successful, said Idoyaga, and RTS will continue them in Spring. Bus usage among students in Fall was below average because of COVID-19 and fewer in-person classes, Idoyaga said. He predicts usage this semester will likely remain below average, but expects it to be higher than in Fall. “We’ve had a lot of good feedback,” he said. “We’re trying to follow all the CDC guidelines and the Alachua County mandates and the state mandates.” Capacity will range from 20 to 30 people depending on the bus, because some buses have more seats than others, Idoyaga said. Buses are open for seating only — standing is not permitted. If all the seats on one bus are taken, RTS drivers are responsible for calling headquarters to send another bus, he said. In addition to a mask requirement and social distancing policy, Idoyaga said RTS has been cleaning the buses more often than during a normal year. In Fall, RTS buses were cleaned periodically throughout the day and again more thoroughly at the end of each day. If a passenger refused to wear a mask, RTS would send a supervisor to the bus to give the passenger a mask. It’s easier to encourage safety among passengers because UF is setting a good example, Idoyaga added. “When you have UF saying you have to wear a mask, that’s wonderful because now it’s not just us saying it, it’s UF saying it,” Idoyaga said. “When the city managers and leaders are saying it, it’s a partnership.” RTS also has measures to protect drivers, including plexiglass sneeze shields and mask requirements for the drivers as well as passengers. As a result, Idoyaga said drivers should feel confident they will be safe. “Everybody’s heading into this semester pretty optimistic because this vaccine’s coming out,” he said. “We’re hoping
that it gets better.” Students who used the buses in the Fall are also feeling optimistic about Spring. Leon Green, a 21-year-old telecommunication senior, rode RTS buses about once a week in Fall for an in-person class. In Spring, he plans to double his usage. “I never felt unsafe on the bus,” Green said. “They have room, so everyone was spaced out, and everyone was wearing a mask. It was just once or twice that a bus driver had it below their nose or took it off briefly, but I felt safe.” Green said he thinks increasing the number of buses in the Spring should allow for more social distancing, which is why he supports adding more buses. But, Green thinks either way, students should feel safe. Marian Azeem-Angel, a 23-year-old UF environmental science senior, also used the buses in Fall and plans to use them in Spring. She used the bus in Fall to go to Plaza of the Americas for Krishna Lunch and a lab she worked at on campus. She felt safe because the drivers were always wearing masks behind plexiglass, and the passengers complied with guidelines, she said.
“There was never more than, I think, six people, and everyone was always seated pretty distanced,” Azeem-Angel said. “The passengers were wearing masks.” She likes that RTS provides masks and has spray sanitizer on the buses for wiping down surfaces, but she suggested adding hand sanitizer to buses, too. However, unlike Green, she isn’t as confident that buses will be safe in Spring. “I’m nervous, honestly, just because with the gravity of the virus and there’s still people that don’t care,” AzeemAngel said. Despite her concerns, she said she plans to use the buses more often in Spring for her in-person class and lab work. However, she’s also considering getting a parking pass to avoid the buses, depending on how many people use them. “I guess we’ll see the safety measures and what’s happening, but I feel more nervous about passengers not complying than bus drivers,” Azeem-Angel said. Contact J.P. Oprison at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @joprison
Julia Coin // Alligator Staff
Lillie Rooney, a 20-year-old UF entomology senior, sits on RTS Bus 35 at the J. Wayne Reitz Union stop on campus Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021. RTS is adding more buses to existing routes 12, 13, 20 and 38, continuing mask mandates and keeping capacities low for buses this Spring.
UF president receives Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine OFFICIALS ALSO VACCINATED A UF FACULTY MEMBER AND THE UF HEALTH CHIEF EPIDEMIOLOGIST
By Chasity Maynard and Manny Rea Alligator Staff Writers
UF President Kent Fuchs was among the first of UF faculty to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine the week before classes. The injection came Jan. 5, in the first week of the initiative to vaccinate faculty older than 65, wrote UF Health spokesperson Ken Garcia. The program starts as UF braces for about 40% of
undergraduates returning to campus. On Dec. 9, 66 individuals on campus tested negative for COVID-19 and 13 tested positive. In November, UF had the secondhighest number of positive cases of the country’s universities at 5,185 cases since March 18. Fuchs said he was publicly vaccinated to promote confidence in the university’s effort to encourage other faculty to sign up. “There are still people, even members of the University of Florida community, that are afraid of the vaccine itself,” Fuchs said. “And we know scientifically that it is a safe vaccine.” Current UF vaccine eligibility aligns with state and federal
guidelines to prioritize senior citizens. Individuals aged 65 and older made up 81% of the 258,600 recorded COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. as of Jan. 10, according to CDC surveillance public use data of cases. More than 1,100 UF employees are in the age range eligible to be vaccinated, but the vaccine is not yet available to younger faculty or UF students. The vaccination will not be mandatory for students, but Fuchs said they should get vaccinated. Other faculty have scheduled their vaccinations, and about 600 people have received their first dose, Garcia wrote. Since Dec. 14, UF Health has administered more
than 15,000 doses of the vaccine to its healthcare workers, starting at UF Health Jacksonville, wrote Garcia. High-risk individuals will be the next group to be vaccinated. UF will get more vaccines when US President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated Jan. 20 because he will push vaccines that were saved as second doses forward for first doses. UF professor Mike Foley and UF Health chief epidemiologist Nicole Iovine were among those vaccinated at UF Health Shands Cancer Hospital Jan. 5. Foley, a UF alumnus and master lecturer in journalism for more than 15 years, said teaching virtually has been hard. He’s eager to
get back in the classroom. Foley will begin teaching in person and the university will offer more than 8,000 in-person classes this week. Taking the vaccine will make reentering the classroom feel safer, he said. “The hands-on, personal, inthe-office experience with students is what I live for,” Foley said. “I think this will make me much more confident about doing it.” Contact Chasity Maynard at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @chasitymaynard0 Contact Manny Rea at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @ReaManny
MONDAY, JANUARY 11, 2021 ALLIGATOR 5
Gainesville and Alachua County firefighters among the first to receive COVID-19 vaccine SINCE DEC. 30, LOCAL FIRST RESPONDERS HAVE RECEIVED THE MODERNA COVID-19 VACCINE
By Jiselle Lee Alligator Staff Writer
Local firefighters were among the first groups of first responders to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Alachua County. Gainesville Fire Rescue and Alachua County Fire Rescue received their first shipments of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from the Alachua County Health Department Dec. 30. Since then, GFR has vaccinated more than 45 of its firefighters, paramedics and EMTs, which make up almost half of its workforce, said Assistant Fire
GRAD, from pg. 1 the Stephen C. O’Connell Center from May 6-9, and the ceremonies will be organized based on how many people register for the event. Each college will be assigned to a specific day during the makeup weekend, McBride said. Depending on how many graduates from the colleges register, the ceremonies will be split into no more than three graduations each day, she said. Each ceremony will include no more than 1,000 graduates at a time, McBride said. The university cannot require attending graduates or guests to be vaccinated, McBride wrote in an email. Instead, the purpose of waiting on accessible vaccines is to give guests a chance to be vaccinated and include high-risk individuals who could not attend otherwise, McBride wrote. As for what the events themselves will look like, McBride said she is unsure, and that it depends on how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines change. Other large events at UF have been held
Chief Shawn Hillhouse. Healthcare workers, first responders and high-risk residents in long-term care facilities have priority in receiving the vaccination, said Paul Myers, administrator of the ACHD. This group falls under the first of four phases of the vaccine distribution plan Myers presented to county commissioners in early December. Phase two covers essential workers, while phase three covers young adults, kids and general workers. The last phase covers the general public. Six months ago, Hillhouse and other members of GFR became a few of the 30,000 volunteers who participated in the Moderna vaccine trials. Now, they’re seeing it being administered to others on their team and in the community. “We had read pretty extensively about the science behind the vaccine, so I felt very safe mov-
before the vaccine had even been developed. The University Athletic Association allowed for limited in-person attendance at Gators football games this season. The lack of public pushback from UF President Kent Fuchs sparked some backlash and criticism from recent graduates. Fans will also be able to watch this season’s basketball games in person at a capacity of 2,200 people. Terry Derias, a 21-year-old UF nutritional sciences alumna, said the prerecorded Fall ceremony felt impersonal. “I think that when you finish college, you’re closing a really important chapter of your life,” Derias said. “Without a proper graduation, it doesn’t really feel like that chapter ever closes, and things just still kind of feel unfinished.” Derias, a Fall 2020 graduate, said she will attend the makeup ceremony if it’s safe and if the general public has been vaccinated. For now, Derias plans to attend the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, which will keep her close enough to participate in the makeup. Derias hopes to gain
closure from attending the in-person makeup ceremony, she said. “I’d be most looking forward to just having my friends and family there with me and recognizing my accomplishments and everything I worked really hard for during college,” Derias said. Olivia Weippert, a 22-year-old UF health science alumna, graduated in Spring 2020. She is currently attending Dragon Rises College of Oriental Medicine in Gainesville. Even though Weippert felt disappointed by the postponement of Spring commencement, she does not plan to attend the makeup ceremony, she said. “I feel like it’s been a year now, and I don’t want to dwell in the fact of just walking across the stage,” Weippert said. “I already have my physical degree, and it’s hanging up all nice and pretty.”
Contact Julianna Ferrie at jferrie@ alligator.org and follow her on Twitter @juliana_f616
ing forward with it,” said Hillhouse. “Actually, GFR reached out directly to the company that was performing the drug trials.” The GFR team volunteered for the study hoping to speed up the COVID-19 pandemic recovery process, Hillhouse said. According to Moderna’s website, the volunteers were required to be in very good health to be eligible to participate in the trials. One of the reasons GFR participated in the trials was because they are a relatively healthy workforce that qualified to volunteer for the research, Hillhouse said. “Now, we’re at a point where the vaccine trials were successful and the vaccine is being delivered,” Hillhouse said. “So that is a good feeling.” The Alachua County Fire Rescue also re-
CLAS, from pg. 1 es by temporarily or permanently holding face-to-face classes online or encouraging students to join online sections. “Changing the scheduled modality of instruction in the plan of the syllabus, either temporarily or permanently, is a violation of UF policy,” Richardson wrote in the email. “Actions that contravene these principles may result in a finding of misconduct and disciplinary action by the university in accordance with UF regulations.” Professors who notice uncleared students in their face-to-face classes should remind them in private to join online sections until they are clear, Richardson wrote. A student’s clearance status shouldn’t be disclosed to the classroom. Students who are tested and symptomatic will not be cleared for campus, Lauzardo said in the meeting. Graduate students won’t be tested for the return to campus initiative because they’re a lower risk group, Shapiro said, but they will be tested biweekly with students in in-person classes and students living in residence halls. Graduate students behave differently than undergraduate students, making them less of a risk, Lauzardo said. He did not explain how graduate students behave differently than undergraduate students. “We have one mission, and that mission is to protect our colleagues and protect this campus as much as possible,” Lauzardo said. “And that’s what we’ve done, and we’ve done that as best we could.” Additionally, students who have also been in contact with someone who tested positive and who haven’t participated in bi-weekly testing will not be cleared for campus. Class rosters will indicate who is and isn’t cleared for campus, Richardson wrote in the email to CLAS faculty. “Your voices have been heard, and the folks at Screen, Test and Protect, like us, are doing all that is possible to mitigate the concerns and frustrations that you all have,” Richardson said during the meeting. Professors who notice uncleared students in their face-to-face classes should remind them in private to join online sections until they are clear, Richardson
ceived its first shipment of the vaccine Dec. 30, according to Michael Vogel, assistant fire chief of the Emergency Medical Service Division. ACFR is excited about receiving the vaccine, Vogel said. The department posted a photo of ACFR Fire Chief Harold Theus receiving the shot on Facebook the day the department began vaccinating its firefighters. “A lot of people are still trying to see what the vaccination holds just because it’s something that’s new,” Vogel said. “But those who have been affected mostly by it are all on board; they understand the severity of it.” Contact Jiselle Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter at @jiselle_lee
wrote. A student’s clearance status shouldn’t be disclosed to the classroom. To ensure only students who are cleared for campus attend in-person classes, students should show their professors before class that they are marked “cleared for campus” on One.UF, Shapiro suggested in the meeting. “I do not feel that the classroom setting is an unsafe place with the proper precautions that are being taken,” Shapiro said. If a student refuses to leave or refuses to wear a mask, professors can call University Police to have them removed, Lauzardo said. “We’re focused on the data, we’re focused on the evidence,” Lauzardo said. “The data doesn’t support that the classroom is dangerous.” However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report on Jan. 8 that university counties with in-person instruction had a larger spread of the virus than those with remote instruction. Lauzardo also gave an update on vaccinations. Vaccinations for faculty 65 years and older began the week of Jan. 4. Those who require accommodations will be offered vaccines soon, Lauzardo said. UF will get more vaccines when US President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20 because he will push vaccines that were saved as second doses forward for first doses, he said. Vaccines will be available to high-risk groups in the coming week at Hull road, Lauzardo added. He said vaccines will be available to the general public in the near future, but there is no set date. In the Fall, only four out of 1,100 professors tested positive for the virus, and those exposures were not from classroom settings, Lauzardo said. In the case of a COVID-19 spike, UF will focus on shutting down certain areas that are causing the cases, rather than the whole university, Lauzardo said. UF will also initiate a campus shutdown if UF Health Shands reaches capacity and is unable to care for patients. Currently, UF Health Shands is within its capacity, Lauzardo said, and there are 20 patients in the intensive care unit. Contact Meghan McGlone at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @meggmcglone
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MONDAY, JANUARY 11, 2021 www.alligator.org/the_avenue
Save Our Stages Act passes with COVID-19 stimulus bill LOCAL VENUES TO RECEIVE $15 BILLION IN AID
By Heather Bushman Avenue Staff Writer
The Save Our Stages Act, a $15 billion funding package meant specifically for independent venues, was signed by President Donald Trump on Dec. 27 as part of a $900 billion COVID-19 stimulus bill. The act was drafted after months of lobbying from the National Independent Venue Association, a coalition of more than 1,200 live music venues across the country — including Gainesville’s High Dive — that pushed for government assistance through the pandemic. The act allocates individual grants equal to 45% of each independent venues’ gross revenue from 2019, with a cap at $10 million to each establishment. Allowable expenses under the act include any costs of operating from March 1, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2021. According to a statement from NIVA, the funding will aid in payroll and benefits for venue employees, rent and mortgage, utilities, insurance and other business expenses. For venues like High Dive, this kind of government assistance is the difference between surviving and shutting down for good. With little-to-no previous aid and more than six months of complete closure, Pat Lavery, facil-
ity and events manager of High Dive, struggled to keep the business afloat. “We are relieved to know that help is finally on the way,” he said. Despite earlier assistance like the Paycheck Protection Program, funds from the act represent the first significant COVID-19 relief to independent venues. The PPP loans issued to small businesses from the federal government in June did little to alleviate the economic pitfalls High Dive faced in the hiatus, Lavery said. “That was meant to last two-and-a-half months, but it really only lasted about a month for us,” he said. Save Our Stages funds will be distributed as grants, whereas PPP funds were loaned to businesses. The funding will help venues not only continue to operate but also pay off loans that were dispensed as additional aid early in the closures. In terms of aid, no one venue has fared exactly the same. High Dive received only the PPP loan and “a little bit” from Alachua County’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, Lavery said. Other establishments, like Ybor City’s Crowbar, received additional aid from both the federal and local governments. Tom DeGeorge, Crowbar owner and captain of the Florida precinct of NIVA, took a $150,000 Economic Injury Disaster Loan from the federal government to keep his venue alive.
The loan, created by the U.S. Small Business Administration specifically for relief from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, sustained Crowbar in the short term. But with a lengthy 30-year maturity period and Crowbar still months away from business as usual, DeGeorge fears the loan will be impossible to pay back for his venue and others like it. “If we’re left with those loans, our businesses will not survive,” he said. The importance of the Save Our Stages Act comes from its specificity to live music venues. Unlike other small businesses, venues will not be able to immediately reopen at full capac-
ity once the pandemic ends. Instead, they will need to wait until every part of the touring economy — artists and patrons as well as the venues themselves — is back in place to continue normal operations. A return to normalcy is expected in the fall of 2021, Lavery said. The act will function as a cushion until then, covering some of the costs of being open while High Dive continues to host livestreams and distanced, limited-capacity shows. “That’s the thing that’s really going to save our industry,” Lavery said. Contact Heather Bushman at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter at @hgrizzl
Courtesy to The Alligator
Local vendors offer fashionable face masks STUDENTS CAN SHOP SMALL AS IN-PERSON CLASSES RESUME By Kristin Bausch Avenue Staff Writer
From sustainable mask designs to masks with matching bandanas for pets, Gainesville’s small businesses offer creative ways to stay safe this Spring. Students looking beyond the generic blue and white surgical masks can protect their classmates and communities while shopping locally as they return to in-person classes. Redefined Goods
Mia Crisostomo said she waited until she had the perfect design to incorporate masks into her shop. The 21-year-old UF marketing and sustainability studies senior founded Redefined Goods, an upcycled, sustainable shop in 2018. From tote bags to bucket hats to scrunchies, all items sold are created from secondhand goods. Crisostomo said she originally made the masks just for herself. But, after working alongside her mom, she began adapting a design that would help protect wearers as much as other cloth masks would. By folding the fabric a particular way, Crisostomo said they followed a design that could mold to the nose without adding any plastic material to the mask. “Like any other single-use plastic thing, the surgical masks can be very wasteful over time,” she said. “Using cloth masks is a really great way to reduce that waste while still being able to protect yourself and the people around you.” The masks are crafted from fabric scraps and ribbon is used
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for the earloops. Crisostomo is currently working on masks that have a filter or filter pocket for customers who want to add their own. Recently, Crisostomo got the idea to add silk to the masks currently in the Redefined Goods’ shop. She said silk is better for the skin, and the tightly knit fabric repels moisture, making it safer and more breathable than materials other handmade masks are made out of. People can purchase masks from Redefined Goods on its website. Since the shop operates out of Gainesville, students in the area can choose to do in-person pickup for their order, which Crisostomo said is convenient and avoids shipping costs. She also sets up her shop at local Gainesville markets such as The Florida Vintage Market and the Bazar À La Carte. “If you’re in the market for a cloth mask, there are a lot of cool options online, but Gainesville is just such a unique place with so many small businesses that there are also so many people that make and sell them here,” Crisostomo said. The AUK Market
The AUK Market, located at 2031 NW Sixth St., is situated on the complex of local coffee shop Curia on The Drag. The AUK Market is an independently owned, curated market featuring local artists who make and sell an array of pottery items, candles, jewelry and prints. The shop also sells vintage items such as furniture, glass and clothing. Sabrina Kaar, 35, a co-owner of the AUK Market who runs its vintage clothing section, said when it reopened in June, the staff was grateful but conscious about opening the doors during a pandemic. “We felt it was not only our responsibility to encourage social distancing and sanitizing efforts inside the store, but also to offer the public the mechanism from which we all stay safer and
healthier: properly fitted facial masks,” she said. The AUK Market has two local makers in the store who craft masks together: Prairie Aura and Self Care Wares. “No matter what your style, you can find a cute mask to not only elevate your wardrobe but also to stay safe and keep our community healthy,” Kaar said. Kaar said the two creators have brought many styles of masks to the AUK Market such as vintage repurposed fabrics, modern aesthetic, boho and pinup girls. The AUK Market is open every day from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. except Tuesdays. Patrons can shop in person or order a mask on its website. Prim N’ Proper Paws
Brianne Bennett, 25, who co-owns Prim N’ Proper Paws, said the small business began selling masks in hope of providing customers with a way to stay safe and healthy without sacrificing comfort. But the items sold at Prim N’ Proper Paws are not catered to only humans. The business started out selling bandanas for customers’ furry friends. Bennett said there were growing requests for masks, so it only made sense to allow customers to purchase a set with a mask and a matching bandana for their pet. “Pandemic fashion means matching your mask with your dog,” she said. Bennett described the masks as being made from 100% cotton and easy to wash. She said all masks contain a hole to insert a filter if wanted, and all masks have elastic straps and size adjusters. Prim N’ Proper Paws items can be found on Instagram and Etsy. Bennett is local, and the shop offers free shipping to Gainesville, High Springs and Alachua. Contact Kristin Bausch at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @BauschKristin
New Face in Gainesville
Florida announced it hired Auburn defensive backs coach Wesley McGriff Saturday. McGriff’s role wasn’t disclosed, pg. 12
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MONDAY, JANUARY 11, 2021 ALLIGATOR 7
We’re all turning 21 this year
reetings, students, and welcome to the start of the Spring semester. I am incredibly excited to begin 2021 with you, the year when I believe the nation and world will finally overcome COVID-19. To be sure, the pandemic today remains a real and present threat. Health and safety are our top priorities at UF, and I ask you to join me in starting the semester with a commitment to wearing a mask, watching our distance from others and washing our hands frequently. With the new and more contagious strain of the COVID-19 virus present in Florida, we must be even more committed than last semester to following the UF Health guidelines. 2021 will certainly be a year of significant change. After the terrible events in Washington D.C. last Wednesday, I am hopeful we will cherish and protect our democracy and our democratic institutions while working to overcome divisions. I believe that we as a university have a solemn responsibility to create an environment locally and nationally where we approach our differences, problems and goals with empathy, respect and love for one another. With hope and optimism, I’m personally looking forward to these 21 things in 2021: 1. Asking the faculty to cancel classes for a day in celebration of everyone receiving a COVID-19 vaccination 2. Taking selfies with students I meet on campus (with a mask for now, but without a mask in a few months) 3. Listening to student concerts on the UF Carillon under the brilliant new orange and blue lights illuminating Century Tower 4. Guest teaching an in-person class 5. Walking from the Dasburg House to Lake Alice and joining a crowd to watch more than 100,000 bats fly out of the bat houses at dusk
6. Buying coffee for the students in front of me in the line at Starbucks 7. In-person graduation ceremonies, hopefully in April and May if we are all vaccinated 8. Visiting UF’s incredible new Florida Ballpark and cheering as the Gators beat FSU 9. Celebrating longtime employees, such as Registrar Steve Pritz, who this month marked his 50th year of serving UF students Kent Fuchs 10. Taking our grandchildren to the Butterfly Rainforest at the firstname.lastname@example.org Florida Museum of Natural History 11. Experiencing the roll-out of the university’s artificial intelligence initiative 12. Celebrating UF’s top five public research university ranking. Would the faculty approve another day of canceled classes and celebrations when we achieve top five stature? 13. Attending a world-class performance at the Phillips Center 14. Hearing the cries of the sandhill cranes circling overhead as they head north this spring 15. Checking in on what’s happening at “r/ufl” on Reddit 16. Laughing at some of the “Swampy UF memes” on Facebook 17. Finding out who controls the “The Same Picture of Kent Fuchs Every Day” Facebook page and asking them to “Please stop!” 18. Greeting new faculty and staff 19. Taking in the exhibits at the Harn Museum of Art 20. Making progress on visiting every UF/IFAS Extension office in all 67 counties 21. Three words: April Fools’ Day
Again, now that we have turned 21 together, I am greatly looking forward to this semester, and calendar year, with you.
University of Florida
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Alachua County, Gainesville and Student Government elected officials new year plans roundup HERE’S WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT THE CITY OF GAINESVILLE AND UF STUDENT GOVERNMENT PLANS FOR THE NEW YEAR
By Jack Prator and Carolina Ilvento Alligator Staff Writer
Moving past the challenges of 2020, Gainesville, Alachua County and UF Student Government elected officials have a positive outlook on what city and student life will look like this year. Here are some issues to be watching for in 2021: City Commission
Handling mass COVID-19 vaccination in Alachua County is the city and county commissions’ New Year’s resolution. Racial equity, living wage and youth development will also be discussed heavily in 2021. The city commission is working to improve the public transportation, housing and parks of Gainesville. As of now, the commission has no concrete plans for a youth development policy. Commissioner David Arreola hopes to change that through commission workshops with local youth to help create economic and social opportunities for them. These workshops would be aimed at youth employment and engagement while creating opportunities for Gainesville youth to get active in their community. There are a number of agenda items from last year involving opportunities and equity for residents that the commission will continue working on, Arreola said. The Jan. 14 meeting will tackle setting a living wage re-
quirement for employers. Another ongoing priority of the commission is to address racial equity. In July, the commission begantook on racial equity training for city employees. Areola said the commission plans to continue working on its commitment. Elections for Gainesville City Commission At-Large and District 1 seats will be held March 16. County Commission
Alachua County’s priorities for the new year are affordable housing, rental properties and homelessness, said County Commissioner Anna Prizzia. The commission will discuss these topics in its budget meetings. The county emergency radio, which needs upgrades, is a hot-button issue. Deciding how the cost of these upgrades will be shared between the city and county is controversial, Prizzia said. The City of Gainesville manages the radio, which is used by all of Alachua County. The county pays Gainesville a monthly rate to lease the emergency radio. Who will bear the brunt of upgrade costs is still up for debate, Prizzia said. The commission approved an urban forest management plan Jan. 7 that had been in development since 2016. The plan pledges to evaluate the county’s urban forest every five years, setting new goals to improve its diversity, health and benefit to the community. Prizzia said she’s focused on developing a program that incentivises residents to replace aging trees that pose a danger to homes during storms with new ones. UF Student Body President
Student Body President Trevor Pope said he plans to maintain and prioritize his initial goals promised
during his election in the Fall: build for the future, make UF more inclusive and improve the student experience. “Everything we’ve done up to this point has been working towards those three major points,” he said. “To really just ensure that students are thriving, even as we live through this time of uncertainty and overcome so many barriers.” Pope said he is proud of SG’s past projects, such as rent relief and free delivery from Bite Squad. Following the campus shutdown in March, SG passed a rent relief bill allocating $500,000 of its $4 million reserve fund to help students struggling to pay rent. Out of about 2,000 UF students that applied, half were awarded $500. Pope’s main project for Spring is Service Learning — an initiative to provide students with out-of-classroom experiences in every field by translating information taught in lecture halls into practical skills. With a budget of $150,000, the program will fund travel and supplies to prepare them for work, he said. To get Service Learning ready, legislation must be written and passed, Pope said. The project will be ready for implementation to the next SG administration, and will go into effect over the 2021-2022 school year. UF SG Senate
SG rules and procedures changed significantly in Fall, including shortening the amount of time students have to sign up for public comment during Senate meetings and allowing only senators to write and sponsor legislation. However, Senate President Cooper Brown’s main goal for 2021 is to have more opportunities for Senators to meet their constituents and each other, as many of them have never stepped foot in the Senate chamber
since the emergence of COVID-19, he wrote in an email. “Class Cohorts” will separate senators by their year at UF and allow them to interact and work with other senators in the same class despite different party affiliations. Hopefully, this will lead to bipartisan legislation and projects, Brown wrote. Senate meetings will remain virtual until March but will now feature guest appearances. The first surprise guest will present Jan. 12 at 7:30 p.m. during Senate. Inspire Party
One of the main topics in the Senate over Fall was a debate over online voting –– an effort rejected by the provost in September, but the Inspire Party is set on pushing for in Spring. Students with health concerns who chose to take online classes from home are still part of the UF community and deserve the right to vote, even if not directly from campus, Minority Party Leader Brianne Seaberg said. “We are really going to push for online voting so that we don’t disenfranchise any students,” Seaberg said. Online voting has been subject to debate for years, but is particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure the safety of students and maximum participation in elections, Seaberg said. During Fall elections, SG provided early voting and absentee ballots as accommodations for students who could not go to the polls in person during the pandemic. However, some students did not receive their ballots in time for the election and student voter turnout decreased by a third compared to Fall 2019. Inspire will push for more accountability from SG senators by demanding that contact information for all senators is available to students on the SG website, Seaberg said.
It also aims to make menstrual products available on campus, Student Health Care Center services more widely accessible and UF transportation services safer, Seaberg said. Seaberg said Inspire will begin to write legislation on all the above projects early this semester, hoping to get them approved and implemented soon. Gator Party
With a supermajority in the Senate, Gator party contested all efforts toward online voting made during Fall and approved amendments to its rules and procedures prohibiting nonSG affiliated students from writing and sponsoring legislation. Its platform for Fall focused on providing more student tickets for home football games and auditing UF buildings for environmental sustainability. The party also aimed to provide students with COVID-19 supplies and a technology that tests drinks for daterape drugs. Gator Party’s platform also promised to provide legal advice and virtual counseling to international students. Majority Party Leader Blake Robinson and Gator Party representative Gabriela Hernandez did not respond to emails from The Alligator over a span of four days. SG will hold elections for Student Body President, Vice President and Treasurer, as well as 50 senators to represent colleges at UF on Feb. 23. Contact Carolina Ilvento at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @CarolinaIlvento Contact Jack Prator at jprator@ alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @jack_prator
Alachua County leaders outline COVID-19 vaccination plan GAINESVILLE CITY COMMISSION APPROVES VACCINATION PLAN AT FIRST MEETING OF THE YEAR
By Jack Prator Alligator Staff Writer
Gainesville is still a month or two away from the COVID-19 vaccine becoming widely available, but city leaders are making plans for when it is. The Gainesville City Commission voted unanimously Jan. 7 to pass a four-part plan that will help the Alachua County Health Department mass administer COVID-19 vaccinations. The plan involves finding accessible sites, building teams with paramedics to administer the vaccine, registering residents and educating the community. The city government also agreed to coordinate with the health department to create a priority list of who gets vaccinated after the 65-and-older population. Alachua County ranked 13th in Florida for the number of COVID-19 vaccines administered as of Jan. 3, according to a vaccine report from the Florida Department of Health. There have been 443,616 vaccines administered in Florida –– most of which went to healthcare workers and first responders –– and 12,541 of those were administered in Alachua County as of Jan. 7. Community members over the age of 65 and healthcare workers started to receive the vaccine first. The county, which is home to about 40,000 residents over 65, is sorting vaccination priority by date of birth with older residents ranking higher on the list, said Paul Myers, administrator of the Alachua County Health Department. Vaccine Registration
Alachua County residents 65 or older are encouraged to sign up to receive a vaccine through the county’s online portal or by calling 352-334-8810.
Myers asked those registering online not to call the health department, as it clogs up the phone lines. He said residents should not sign up with both the health department and another healthcare provider. Those at higher risk but under the age of 65 are also encouraged to submit requests with their hospital or private medical provider, as hospitals have some discretion in whom they choose to vaccinate, City Commissioner David Arreola said. Commissioners said essential workers might not receive the vaccine for at least one or two months, though they did not discuss who would be considered an essential worker. Alachua County Health Department
The Alachua County Health Department is currently setting up eight clinics to support the vaccination operation, Myers said during a telephone town hall held on Jan. 6 for county leaders and health experts to discuss COVID-19 vaccination plans and answer public concerns. County Commissioner Ken Cornell said the health department had received 12,000 vaccination requests from residents over the age of 65 by Jan. 4. That number climbed to 20,000 by noon on Jan.5. Most vaccines will be administered through UF Health Shands Hospital and North Florida Regional Medical Center following the instructions of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis that hospitals receive the vaccines, Cornell said. The county health department will work with private healthcare providers not affiliated with either hospital in administering shots. “The good side of this is that when there are enough vaccines to put in people’s arms, we will have a local system,” Cornell said. County Manager Michele Lieberman said she feels confident in the health department’s ability to perform a mass vaccination, as this has been done during flu season in the public school system for years.
As of Jan. 6, UF Health has vaccinated about 10,000 Gainesville residents, UF Health President David Nelson said. Second doses have been administered to 1,200 of those residents as they have been made available. Over 700 members of UF’s 65 and older community have received vaccines as of Jan. 6, Nelson said, with a remaining 1,200 scheduled vaccinations to be conducted by Jan. 10. There are 11,300 pending vaccination requests sent to Gainesville residents covered by the UF insurance plan, he said. UF Health expects more Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines to start rolling in alongside the second doses of the Moderna vaccines already administered, Nelson said. UF Health receives a one-day notice ahead of vaccine shipments. Addressing safety concerns surrounding the vaccine was also a priority of city leaders at the
Jan. 6 Town Hall. Those given the vaccine are observed for 15 minutes in case they start experiencing side effects, Nelson said. Out of the 10,000 people vaccinated by UF Health, 26 suffered adverse reactions, he added. Only three people reported more severe, rare symptoms including lightheadedness. “It appears to be unbelievably safe,” he said. “That’s why so many of us are so excited, but also so frustrated by why many people don’t want the vaccine.” The Alachua County Commission will discuss further vaccination plans at its next meeting on Jan. 12. Contact Jack Prator at jackprator@ alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @jack_prator
Julia Coin // Alligator Staff UF Health staff watch as Samuel Overly, a UF Health clinical leader, receives the first PfizerBioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at UF Health Shands Cancer Hospital on Dec. 16, 2020.
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answers on pg 13
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10. A kid
1. What Canadian boxer, known for a 1. Tommie Aaron, brother of Hank, hit powerful left-handed punch he called "The how many home runs in his seven-seaSmash," lost two heavyweight elimination son Major League Baseball career? bouts to Mike Tyson in 1991?the NHL’s first 2. Bill Chadwick,
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MONDAY, JANUARY 11, 2021 www.alligator.org/sports
The Curious Life of Jacob Stanko A STUDENT-ATHLETE WHOSE RELENTLESS PASSION TO LIVE LIFE TO ITS FULLEST IS SECOND ONLY TO HIS FAITH
By Christian Ortega Sports Writer
Jacob Stanko’s frame fills any room he enters. Six-feet-two-inches tall and a chiseled 230 pounds with thick dark brown hair that effortlessly frames his face and tumbles past his ears, it’s hard to ignore the self-described introvert. Against his competition, he’s a giant among titans. But Jacob isn’t
phased. He takes a breath to collect his thoughts and recites a prayer to God. He’s practiced the throw a thousand times. Still, a conversation with God centers his mind toward his goal. Anxious thoughts are silenced by an overwhelming tide of tranquility. His body turned into a work of kinetic art. He charges forward, with a oncewhite, sweat-stained 800-gram javelin cradled in his right hand. He calculates each step to produce perfect rhythm and momentum. Six steps forward seamlessly transitions into crossovers. His arms extend — the left to the sky while
Courtesy to The Alligator
Jacob Stanko throws a javelin at the Tom Jones Memorial Classic in 2019.
the right reaches back like a lever — to deliver each ounce of strength he generated. He lands his final step with his weight centered. His eyes meet the horizon. His body snaps around. A burst of power travels from his hips to his shoulders and up to his arm. The javelin becomes weightless as it glides out of his fingers and slices through the air. The rest is in God’s hands. "The people that perform the best are the people that, in a meet setting, they can just completely shut off their brain and let their body do what their body knows what to do," Jacob said. Few compete as collegiate athletes. Fewer have the option to play two sports. Jacob has never taken his athleticism for granted. Like most kids, he sampled many sports growing up in Manchester, New Hampshire. But no sport captivated him like football. At Manchester Central High School, he captained the team as its quarterback. Jacob was ranked the 18th best quarterback in New Hampshire for the 2016 graduating class. But football is a fall sport. As a sophomore with time at his disposal during the spring, he started throwing in track and field. It was an opportunity to improve himself for future falls. Despite his remarkable athleticism, he was raw and needed to iron out his mechanics to succeed in his new sport.
“He had no clue what he was going to do,” said Misty Francis, Jacob’s high school throwing coach, as she recalled his first experience with a javelin. He didn’t mind the work. He never has. In time, he grew infatuated with his new sport. “He’s an easy kid to coach,” Francis said. “He listens, he applies and he always asks questions.” Throwing also allowed him to spend time with his parents, Mark Stanko and Lisa Maille, who are divorced. Whenever Maille drives around town, memories replace reality as she thinks back to times her son was minutes, not miles, away. She misses watching him practice between errands. “I still have days where I drive by that field and I’m looking to see if I could see him,” Maille said. As a single mother of three, it was challenging for her to keep up with her children’s schedules. But she always found herself at each of Jacob’s games and meets. Mark said his father rarely attended his own games, an aspect of his childhood that hurt him. He vowed that he wouldn’t make Jacob experience that same disappointment. Mark allowed Jacob the freedom to follow his interests. All he wanted was to follow along and give his son a lifetime of memories. Growing up, Jacob fluctuated from sport to sport before settling on football and throwing in high school. Mark was always in the
crowd, proudly cheering Jacob on at any meet or game. Watching Jacob play football meant Mark was sequestered in the bleachers until the game ended. He cherished track meets. Between throws, he was afforded precious time with his son, whether in conversation over upcoming throws or silent reflection. “As somebody who was a son whose father didn't participate, I think I provided him with something that I would have liked to have had,” Mark said. What his parents wished was to watch their son flourish. It just happened sooner than expected when Jacob first threw a javelin. Jacob broke the school’s record in his first meet. Months later, he was crowned state champion. He finished the New England Interscholastic Outdoor Track and Field Championships as the runner-up in 2016, coming in third the year before. Jacob still retains the javelin throw record he set as a state champion more than four years ago. Jacob’s success in both fields earned him a scholarship to the University of Maine as a dual-sport athlete. He spent a year there before transferring to UF. But Jacob doesn’t pay too much attention to his accolades. Read the rest online at alligator.org/sports
Contact Christian Ortega at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @unofficialchris
It doesn’t matter how it ended. Florida football should be proud
t wasn’t always pretty. It rarely is. of the pandemic. Every team that finished the season went through many of The Gators suffered a heartbreaking loss to Texas A&M earlier in the the same things this team has gone through. The Gators proved until their last season. They were on the business end of a shocking upset at the paws of game that they were a top 10 team. the LSU Tigers. They were bested by Alabama in the SEC Championship, The Sooners game was rough, but it also gave UF something else to look and after a slew of opt-outs, were cooked in Arlington, Texas, in the Cotforward to — hope for the future. ton Bowl. Players like Emory Jones, Xzavier Henderson and Gervon Dexter could be That’s not very pretty. But I’m not here to talk about all that. I’m here to talk the solid foundation of a successful team at Florida, and head coach Dan Mulabout the circumstances. len got to see them play against a good football team at Jerry's World. Jones River Wells The COVID-19 pandemic changed everything. The offseason was filled with in particular played fairly well, netting a rushing touchdown in the Gators’ firstname.lastname@example.org Zoom meetings and shutdowns, and the Gators faced an outbreak of their own 55-20 loss. and had to reschedule its game with both LSU and Missouri. Like teams around So, no. The Gators didn’t quite meet expectations, especially after Mullen the nation, UF had to face a shortened schedule, one that was made up of SEC games in finally got the best of Kirby Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs and made the SEC Championship what many consider to be the toughest conference in college football. game, where they played what appears to be a nigh-invincible Alabama team to the final Even among the pandemic, the Gators finally bested the Georgia Bulldogs for the first seconds. They got a good look at what their team can do next year to cap off an extraortime in four years. They beat eight SEC teams, and there was a player wearing orange and dinary season under extraordinary circumstances. blue amid this year’s four Heisman Trophy finalists. Through the pandemic, the shortened season and the all-SEC schedule, this team gave Linebacker Mohamoud Diabate said it best. it its all, made it to the national stage and produced a candidate for the Heisman. “It's a COVID year, no offseason, no spring together, having young players who didn't The players are proud of what they accomplished. And Gators fans should be proud get to go through a spring,” Diabate said. “So, it's like we're proud that we made it to this of them, too. point… when that scoreboard said 0:00 with no time left, we finished it.” And yeah, the Gators aren’t alone in having to deal with the stress and uncertainty Contact River Wells at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @riverhwells Colin Castleton was named Co-SEC Player of the Week after scoring 23 and 21 points against Vanderbilt and LSU last week.
Florida to play Mississippi Tuesday
The Gators (5-3) are scheduled to play Mississippi (6-4) at 7 p.m. and will be televised on the SEC Network. UF has lost two games in a row and is 2-2 in SEC play.
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For updates on UF athletics, follow us on Twitter at @alligatorSports or online at www.alligator.org/sports
12 ALLIGATOR MONDAY, JANUARY 11, 2021
Gators add Wesley McGriff to coaching staff THE FORMER OLE MISS DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR BRINGS 30 YEARS OF COACHING EXPERIENCE TO THE SWAMP
By Michael Hull Sports Writer
Florida hired Wesley McGriff as an assistant defensive coach, head coach Dan Mullen announced Saturday. McGriff, who served as Auburn’s defensive backs coach for the last two seasons, has 30 years of coaching experience in both the SEC and the NFL. It has yet to be announced what role he will play at Florida. “His track record of preparing players for the NFL and his success coaching at every level speaks for itself,” Mullen said in a release. “His energy and tireless effort in recruiting will be an asset to our defensive staff.” Most recently, McGriff coached two NFL draft picks at Auburn: Dolphins cornerback Noah Igbinohene and Jaguars safety Daniel Thomas, who were
drafted in the first and fifth round, respectively He also helped develop current Titans safety Kenny Vaccaro during his tenure with the New Orleans Saints and groomed pros like former Giants safety Kenny Phillips at Miami, former Patriots defensive back William Andrews at Baylor and former Cardinals first round draft pick Robert Nkemdiche at Ole Miss. When he arrived at Auburn in 2018, the Tigers allowed 219 yards and 1.2 touchdowns per game through the air. In 2019, Auburn improved in yards allowed per game, giving up 214 yards per contest. Last season, during an all-SEC schedule, Auburn had the third-best pass defense in the conference allowing an average of 237.8 yards per game. According to SEC StatCat, Auburn was also third in the conference in stifling yards per pass, only allowing 6.19 per attempt, 0.28 behind No. 1 Alabama. McGriff began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Savannah State, in 1990. After stops at Kentucky State and Eastern Kentucky,
McGriff made his way to the SEC, coaching Kentucky’s secondary and running backs from 2001-2002. Kentucky would be the first of five schools he coached in the conference. After stints at Baylor and Miami, McGriff returned to the SEC as Vanderbilt’s recruiting coordinator and defensive backs coach in 2011. A year later, he became the co-defensive coordinator at Ole Miss. McGriff took his talents to the big leagues in 2013 and was hired as defensive backs coach for the Saints. He spent three seasons in New Orleans before heading back to the college sphere, coaching at Auburn in 2016 before returning to Ole Miss as defensive coordinator through the 2018 season. McGriff’s experience coaching in the defensive backfield will be welcomed as the Gator defense allowed 257 yards per game through the air last season under former coaches Torrian Gray and Ron English. Contact Michael Hull at mhull@alligator. org and follow him on Twitter@michael_hull33
Bulldogs subdue Gators after strong UF start FLORIDA FACED THE UNRANKED GEORGIA BULLDOGS IN A CLOSE AFTERNOON MATCH BUT LEFT EMPTY-HANDED
By Grethel Aguila Sports Writer
After three losses in a row, the Gators arrived in Athens, Georgia, with an aggressive energy that almost gave them their first conference win. Florida left empty-handed against the unranked Georgia Bulldogs in a close afternoon match, losing 68-58. The game began with a series of turnovers that recycled Florida’s previous mistakes. But Gators guard Kiara Smith quickly found her groove offensively, scoring free throws that opened a lead. The advantage grew after a three from guard Kristina Moore, but two Georgia free throws created a 9-9 tie. Then, Gators guard Lavender Briggs made a jumper that retained the lead for the first quarter. A bucket from forward Floor Toonders and five quick points from guard Nina Rickards proved that the Florida offense was heating up. Then, a Georgia three-pointer cut Florida’s lead to four before a Moore layup. Bulldogs guard Mikayla Coombs made a bucket, the buzzer rang seconds later and the Gators maintained their four point edge. At the start of the second quarter, Georgia tried knotting the score up but ultimately left Florida trailing behind. Briggs then made a second bucket, followed by a jumper from Gators forward Jordyn Merrit. The Bulldogs responded with an offensive flurry that put it on top before a jumper from Briggs. As a three from Bulldogs guard Gabby Connolly put Georgia up one before a quick response from Rickards, the lead see-sawed between the two teams. That’s when Florida’s nightmares began. Briggs, the Gators’ top scorer, picked up her third personal foul. With missed shots from Florida, a jumper from Moore couldn’t keep pace with the Bulldogs offense. Georgia guard Maya Caldwell scored a three, and the first half score tilted in Georgia’s favor.
Moore has a high motor and is constantly improving, coach Cam Newbauer said. At practices, she shows that she understands her angles and opportunities. “She just plays so hard every day out,” Newbauer said. A slow start from the Gators in the third quarter allowed Georgia to take control of the ball game. Briggs, who was now back in the game, missed a three before making a layup and free throw. Rickards’ three wasn’t a match for a string of shots from Bulldogs center Jenna Stati, who finished with 10 points. After two early turnovers led to buckets from Georgia countered the Gators’ defense like during the Thursday game against Mississippi State. Gators forward Faith Dut was missing in action until her first bucket that cut Georgia’s lead to 10 points. Smith, swarmed by the Bulldogs, went for a layup that ended the quarter at 59-46. The Gators entered the final quarter wasting no time, cutting Georgia’s lead from 15 points to eight. Smith scored a free throw, with Briggs later hustling a rebound for a Smith basket. Two smooth buckets from Briggs paired with a steal and a layup from Smith. Still, it wasn’t enough to stop the Bulldogs’ early shots and assists. A careless pass from Florida was the final nail in the coffin, giving Georgia possession during critical moments and preserving its 10-point advantage. The team put pressure on the defense and was aggressive during the game, Newbauer said. They struggled because of foul trouble and careless turnovers, he said, adding that the players weren’t connected. “We became pretty individualized, and that’s not who we are on or off the court,” he said. The Gators will go head-to-head against the Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Thursday. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. and will stream on SEC Network. Contact Grethel Aguila at gaguila@alligator. org and follow her on Twitter @GrethelAguila
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