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Professor Rachel Riley invites Abilene to her home for a craft fair: the Front Porch Market Page 2


Safe to say this semester has been a little crazy. Head to page 4 to read what the Editorial Board has learned.

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Friday, December 2, 2016 Vol. 105, Issue 15



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What’s it like to actually be responsible for a classroom? Educaiton majors share student teaching experiences.

After what could’ve been a career-ending injury, kicker Nick Grau bounced back.

A student publication of Abilene Christian University since 1912



ERIKA BOLADO STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Thousands of Abilene residents flocked to the streets of downtown Tuesday to celebrate the annual City Sidewalks light parade. It’s a bright beginning for the Christmas season. Above, dancers from the Abilene ballet company give a holiday wave.

SA to collect household items for refugees BY HALEY REMENAR ONLINE MANAGING EDITOR

The Students’ Association will collect donations for refugees in the Abilene area until Dec. 9. Boxes wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper will be in the Campus Center and the SA office to hold donations including hygiene

items, clothes and household goods. SA passed a bill two weeks ago to fund $500 for the drive which will provide flyers, other communication and extra items not donated by students. Representatives for the College of Arts and Sciences, Jenna Salzman and Lauren Wasson, organized the drive. They heard a

speaker from the International Rescue Committee during Cultural Awareness Week who said many people donate toys but the refugees don’t need toys as much as household goods. “Sometimes toys can be kind of expensive,” said Salzman, freshman political science major from Fort Worth. “We may not

be able to pay for a twenty-dollar toy, but surely we can donate toothpaste. This is something we can tangibly do as a community that can make a difference.” Wasson, freshman political science major from Denton, wrote the bill which funded the project. Both students will take the donations to the Interna-

tional Rescue Committee Dec. 9. Both used and new items will be accepted. Donations can include bedding, small household appliances, cleaning supplies, dishes, cooking items, infant items and personal hygiene items.

gap year, bloomed to offer more long term missions to students. With gap year, students can spend anywhere from six months to two years in different parts of the world. This coming January, seven students will be leaving to a variety of countries. Green recognized that SEE WITNESS PAGE 3



World Wide Witness founder Green to work with international missions nonprofit

The university will say goodbye to Gary Green after 15 years of missional guidance as he transitions to work with Barnabas International. The Associate Director of Missions and Adjunct Professor of Old Testament started his journey in

Abilene after his family moved from church planting in Venezuela. Green Green was coached by a former missionary, who directed him to spend more time on campus as a way to connect and use his history in Venezuela more fully.

Because the university didn’t have a short term mission internship program, Green worked alongside peers to create World Wide Witness in 2001. In the summer of 2002, World Wide Witness launched their first mission with 35 students participating. After almost 15 years, the program will have seen over 800 students reach

more than 60 different countries. Many of these students returned from their missions with a desire to spend longer terms overseas, said Green. Because of the success, the program being awarded the only short term missions program in the Church of Christ to receive the certification of standard of excellence, a new program, known as


ACU For Life, a pro-life group on campus, has grown considerably in attendance this semester. The group meets bi-weekly on Thursdays in the Onstead-Packer Biblical Studies Building, growing from 3 members last year to 25-30 regular members this fall semester. At their most recent meeting, they reached a total of 92 attendees, and see growth still in their future. ACU For Life is student run, and advised by Dr. Neal Coates, chair of the political science department and professor. “The group really caught fire due to persistence from the members,” Coates said. Gabriela Ramos-Ma-

Missions advocate to leave university BY LAUREN FRANCO STUDENT REPORTER

Pro-life group sees record attendance

Classmates remember fellow social work student OBITUARY Casey Ellis BY ALLISON BROWN EDITOR IN CHIEF

Casey Ellis, a senior social work major from Bethel, Connecticut, died Nov. 23. She was 21 years old. Casey was riding her bicycle home from work when she was struck by a car while crossing the intersection of

Ambler and Judge Ely Boulevard. Casey was born June 8, 1995, in Danbury, Connecticut. She lived her whole life in Bethel. Friends and family described Casey as someone who cared deeply for people. “She was born to work with special needs people; it was her calling,” said Casey’s

mother, Susan Myers. Casey was committed to her calling through studying social work. She spent the fall semester interning at the State Supported Living Center in Abilene. Classmate Hannah Sims, senior social work major from Abilene, said Casey’s passion for helping others shone through the way she worked with others. “She cared deeply for in-

dividuals with developmental disabilities, and spoke about each of her clients with a great deal of dignity and respect,” Sims said. “I was constantly blown away by how much she cared for the people she worked with. That’s just who Casey was.” “Casey was the definition of poise and grace. Her actions exemplified the kind and caring nature of God’s love towards us. Her spirit was

W W W. A C U O P T I M I S T. C O M

accepting and loving to everyone,” said classmate Taylor Crumpton, senior social work major from Oakland, Calif. Students, faculty and staff, along with Casey’s family, honored her life at a memorial service on Wednesday. Casey was preceded in death by her father Daniel Ellis. She is survived by her mother Susan Myers, Robert Myers, brother Evan Ellis, four loving grandparents,

Charles, Linda, Robert and Ellen, along with her cat Arlo, many family members and countless friends and neighbors. Another memorial service will be held in Danbury, near Casey’s hometown, at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10, at Christ the Shepherd Presbyterian Church. AKB12B@ACU.EDU



Capture the flag games cancelled BY ADRIENNE BARRICK STUDENT REPORTER

The Inter-Social Club Council (ISCC) cancelled the Capture the Flag tournament which was to take place Dec. 2-3. The Weather Channel predicts rain Friday and Saturday and temperatures in the 40s. Alyssa Ellison, student activities coordinator, said the ISCC did not want to risk students becoming injured. She said the council plans to have another Capture the Flag tournament in the spring semester.

The team winners will win 500 dollars to donate to the charity of their choice,”


All proceeds of this event will go to charity. This will include the registration fee and t-shirt profits. Ellison said, “The team winners will win 500 dollars to donate to the charity of their choice.” This will be 500 dollars allotted to an entire team, who will decide together where the money should go. The competition will take place between the Campus Center and the library, near the Hardin Administration Building, and the mall area between Moody and the GATA Fountain. Registration costs $40 for a team of 10-12 people. Tom Craig, director of student activities and productions, said participants can also donate toys instead of money. Shirts will be paid for by the registration fee, and any extra profits will also be donated. OPTIMIST@ACU.EDU

Life: Club sees numbers increase CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1

ta, a senior Ad/PR major from the Woodlands, has been with the group from the beginning. Ramos-Mata said the group reached out to younger students, which has resulted in their growing popularity. “We decided to reach out to the freshman this year, to have a table during the organization fair, so the majority of our members OPTIMIST@ACU.EDU


Instructor to host Front Porch Market at home BY BRIANNA CLOSE STUDENT REPORTER

A psychology instructor will host a “Front Porch Market” Dec. 6 for the Abilene community and students to sell and buy services and handmade items. The annual event will take place at the home of Chris Riley, vice president of Student Life, and his wife, Rachel Riley, instructor of psychology. “I’ve always had this

open-door philosophy where if you would like to join us you can come,” Riley said. “I’ll ask students if I’m aware of a specific talent that they have, will you come and make the things that you make and sell it.” The Riley’s open their home and large yard to the community allowing vendors to have a table to promote themselves and their products. “To whom much is given much is required and this is a way for me to share the

To whom much is given much is required and this is a way for me to share the house with the community,”


house with the community,” Riley said. “To have a booth at my house is $5.” Riley said she has always loved searching for unique items from garage or estate

sales inspiring her to hold this event. The Front Porch Market allows Deanna Tuttle, mission’s coordinator for the Halbert Institute for Missions, to promote her photography business, DeannaLynn Design. “It’s a really great way to have exposure especially to people that are interested in something like local business,” Tuttle said. “And it’s really nice venue that’s casual and comfortable and welcoming.”

If students are interested selling at the market, booths cost $5. “The Front Porch Market lets me share with different students ways to make extra money or get their name out and get their foot in the door for things they are promoting,” Riley said. The market will open Dec. 6 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at 1725 Austin Street. OPTIMIST@ACU.EDU

Hudson Wade 5K sees record participation BY MADI FITCHNER STUDENT REPORTER

More than 275 people, including faculty, students, staff, family, friends and members of the Abilene community, participated in the Hudson Wade 5k hosted by the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, SAAC, Saturday, Nov. 19. "There are so many people here, that we are running out of shirts," said Kyle Karnei, SAAC president. Karnei, senior Accounting and Finance major from Waco, said the goal was to raise $5000 a few days before the event about 150 people registered and raised $4400. By the end of

the event Karnei said there were over 275 people in attendance raising more than $5700. This was the second annual 5k SAAC hosted in honor of Hudson Wade, a student at Abilene Christian Schools who died of leukemia in February, and all money will be donated to the Play for Rex foundation. Karnei said the goal is to affect the lives of pediatric cancer patients and their families in a positive way, and be a beacon of hope to people in our community. In attendance was Kelly Moore, a chairmen of the Play for Rex Foundation. "I am very appreciative of the people and the support

LYDIA LAWSON STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER The annual 5K saw record numbers after support from campus and the community

the foundation is receiving." Moore said. Many students came out to show their support as well as social clubs. The men of Trojans, Gamma Sigma Phi

and the Women of Sigma Theta Chi all helped sponsor the race and many of their club members were in attendance. Also in attendance were student athletes

including Adrian Duncan, a senior Kinesiology major from Austin, and Sam Denmark, a junior Engineering major from Las Cruces, New Mexico. "It's nice to be able to come out here and show our support for the Wade family as well as the other families battling with pediatric cancer." Duncan said. "It's a nice feeling to come out and celebrate his legacy with so many that know him." Denmark said. "Last year we signed a football for Hudson."


Wildcat Ventures brews coffee selling contest BY MADI FITCHNER STUDENT REPORTER

Wildcat Ventures hosted a coffee sales contest. This past week the purpose of the coffee sales challenge was to give students a hands-on learning experience about how to sell a product. The contest helped the students with their experience and the owners of Key City Coffee. Students sold bags of Key City Coffee around campus, Facebook and throughout the community. “The coffee challenge is about learning how to fill

the needs and wants that our customers have.” Victoria Timmons, a sophomore business management major from Lubbock. “It helps teach us how to make connections with people that we have just met and learn how to market a product to fill the needs of customers. The winners of the challenge sold 97 bags. The team consisted of, KeeAna Ward, a junior marketing and management major from Tyler; Abbie Hamilton, a senior marketing and management major from Osceola Iowa; and Nathan Reynolds, a senior business

The coffee challenge is about learning how to fill the needs and wants that our customers have," VICTORIA TIMMONS SOPHOMORE BUSINESS MAJOR FROM LUBBOCK

management major from Kingwood. Ward sold 32 bags; Hamilton sold the most at 54 and Reynolds sold 11 bags. Bret Wheeless, a senior marketing major from Frisco, is one of the four executives of Wildcat Ventures. His title is Chief Operating Office of Professional Services. Wheeless also headed

the competition. “CEO is the biggest organization on campus. It is a great way for people to get involved and get hands-on experience.” Wheeless said. CEO stands for Collegiate Entrepreneurship Organization. The ACU CEO chapter recently won two awards. The awards are Number

One Most Outstanding Chapter in the Nation, and Number One Chapter Business. The business that won this award is Wildcat Ventures. For more information about the ACU CEO chapter of the Wildcat Ventures program please visit their blog at coba/2013/04/10/wildcat-ventures-provides-stud e n t s - w i t h - s m a l l - bu s i ness-experience/. OPTIMIST`@ACU.EDU

Student to take mission trip to Guatemala BY VANESSA ELLIS STUDENT REPORTER

While most students will go home for five weeks of winter break, one student will do a mission trip to Guatemala. Cody Bly, junior bio/ chem major from White Oak, will go to Guatemala with Orphan Outreach, a nonprofit which partners with orphanages. A friend’s family member invited him to serve as a translator and games coordinator. He went to the same orphanages on a previous trip and said he’s looking forward to seeing the children he

met there, including a boy named Diego. Bly said he and Diego would play soccer and archery and Bly would teach him Bible stories. Diego even named his stuffed bear “Cody.” “This is a sentimental part of my missional experience and it encourages me to serve the less fortunate while getting to know them on a personal level,” Bly said. Bly said his interest for missions began his freshman year of high school, when he saw videos about Christian martyrdom and the need to serve others in

PHOTO COURTESY OF CODY BLY Cody Bly plays with a Guatemalan boy who named his teddy bear after him.

impoverished countries. Bly has been on three medical mission trips since he graduate high school. “I have a passion for

working with children, so visiting orphanages and serving people in different types of ministries gave me a fulfilled desire to continue

missions,” Bly said. He also plans to colead a university trip to Guatemala through Health Talents International, during spring break. He will serve as an intern at a medical site in the Dominican Republic this summer. Bly said he wants to continue being involved in missions each year and said he wants to serve during portions of the year as a medical missionary while maintaining a medical practice in the United States. OPTIMIST@ACU.EDU

POLICE LOG SELECTED ACUPD CALLS FOR THE WEEK 11/22/2016 3:00 p.m. ACUPD investigated a reported hit-and-run accident in which a delivery van backed into a parked bicycle. 11/27/2016 2:13 p.m. ACUPD and APD responded to a domestic disturbance call involving an armed person at the Villages of West Lake Apartments. One suspect arrested for aggravated assault. 11/29/2016 12:25 a.m. WFF requested ACUPD’s help in removing students who were refusing to leave the Bible Building after closing hour. 911 CALL ACCIDENT ADMINISTRATIVE ACTIVITY ADVICE ALARM ANIMAL CALL ASSIST BARRICADES BUILDING LOCK/UNLOCK CHECK BUILDING CITATION ISSUANCE CRIMINAL TRESPASS

1 2 12 2 2 1 3 1 12 376 1 1


3 18 4 1 2 4 3 2 1




43 3 1 3 1


Trust your instincts: If you suspect that something is wrong or a situation seems suspicious, you’re probably right! Report it to ACUPD immediately at 325-674-2911




Students’ Association is hosting the sixth annual Christmas Slam on Dec. 4 at the women’s basketball game against A&M Commerce. Christmas Slam is when SA partners with other campus and club organizations to create a family-friendly night to celebrate sports and the spirit of Christmas. Since 2010, Christmas Slam has added several other elements including amping social media around the event and raising the cash prizes including a $1000 scholarship and $500 ResLife giveaway. Abraham Enriquez, a political science major from Lubbock and vice president of SA, said the event is intended to bring the student body together with the Department of Athletics and hopes the turnout will reflect that. “I hope we have a great turnout,” said Enriquez. “This is a great event to wrap up the semester that includes the student body and ACU’s athletes. SA is working towards athletic participation by putting on this event.” During the game, several prizes will be awarded, including two iPad Airs, scholarships, giveaways and prizes for a men and women social club. Christmas Slam will also be followed by a Christmas Party in the concourse area and a performance from Team Big Air, an NBA halftime acrobatic group, during the men’s game. The event is free for students, however non-students can bring a canned good or unwrapped clothing item for Arms of Hope to receive $5 off an adult ticket. EAG13A@ACU.EDU


Witness: Green reflects on ACU career “ CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1

Green recognized that students had the desire to create missionary teams even more after their long term missions, and thus started a training program in 2007 that taught groups how to work together and endure stresses. They travel to places such as Costa Rica, Russia, Australia, Peru, China, Thailand and Haiti. 12 teams have been created by students, or are a product of different connections that have gone through Green’s training program. Green said that despite his transition to a new area of missions, Barnabas International will still allow him to do contract work with the university to continue growing teams. “It’s a transition away from my current job, but into an area much more specific and much more focused, with a very definite goal of preventing problems and stress issues with missionar-

ies,”Green said. Green also said that his new job with Barnabas International will consist primarily of four duties. First, he will spend time visiting missionaries across the globe. He is already lined up to spend the month of April overseas. Second, he will conduct retreats for missionaries, already having four to five planned between him and his wife. Third, he will continue to train missionary teams that are a product of ACU. Lastly, Green said he will be spending time Skyping, communicating, and resourcing missionaries. “The reason I’m doing that, is those 12 teams that are on the field and others like them, have special needs due to cultural situations, due to special stressed that come with the type of work, due to the distance away from family, due to working at a spiritually intense level for a long period of time. They have certain needs that very often go unmet.”

It’s been a wonderful experience to be around other people who are like minded who have missions as a primary focus,” GARY GREEN ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF MISSIONS AND ADJUNCT PROFESSOR OF OLD TESTAMENT

Personally, Green said he experienced some of the unnoticed stresses. Green and his family lived in Venezuela for six years, when Hugo Chavez was elected the leader of the country. In only a six-month period of time, the homicide rate jumped 70%. Green said before, he could do anything and go anywhere. But following the election, his house, church and one of his cars were all broken into and his other car was stolen. Eventually, his family had to hire a guard for protection at night, who arrested a total of six people climbing the fence trying to rob or attack them. “There’s a lot of stress that goes on out there that most of us don’t think about,”


The YMCA of Abilene celebrated 70 years of serving the Abilene community this week. The Y opened downtown near where the Family Life Center is now, saidKathy Nygard, administrative assistant and the Y employee for more than 30 years. They had no pool at the time. They moved into one more building before acquiring the land where the Y currently stands in the 1960’s. Women started coming to the YMCA during the ‘60s and ‘70s but on Tuesday’s and Thurs-

day’s no men were allowed since the women used the men’s locker room. In the beginning of 2000, the Y remodeled because the pool heat pump was held together by duct tape and the community was ready for a remodel, Nygard said. The original pool still stands, but has been updated. The Abilene Y offers an array of activities: water aerobic classes, senior social events, after school care, scholarships for individuals and families, lifeguard training, swim lessons and so much more. Nygard said members and employees come together in times of

need. When one of their members lost his wife in a car accident, members made and sent cards and support. “I’ve just seen the Y really, help the community a lot.” Nygard said. Nygard said once she was filling a prescription at Walmart and someone recognized her from the front desk at the Y. She said this happens often and she just laughs and says, “Yah, I’m still there!” For more information, OPTIMIST@ACU.EDU

Green said. “I believe that God has really led us to this point. In two months, we have already been contacted by missionaries in the field and asked to do three retreats that were not on my radar two months ago. I think that God’s at work and moving in ways.” Every year, over 8000 missionaries return to the United States. Of those who return, Green said 71% return for preventable reasons. “We invest a lot of money getting people into the field and because we don’t take care of them,” Green said. “We have to repeat it, repeat it, repeat it, and spend and spend and spend. Beyond the financial issue, when people get to the field and

they are not properly taken care of, it leaves permanent scars. People get very hurt, and very damaged in the process of not being cared for. If they are taken care of, they can turn around and take care of local people and teach, preach, care for, serve, in ways that are much more effective.” Because he is leaving the university at the end of the semester, Green reflected on his time, saying that he has been stretched in both intellect and spirituality as well as deepening for his missional career. “It’s been a wonderful experience to be around other people who are like minded who have missions as a primary focus, and who have dedicated their life to that. So there’s been a lot of encouragement come out of that.” Green’s retirement reception will be held on Dec. 7. OPTIMIST@ACU.EDU



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FINALS THOUGHTS: What we’ve learned in 2016


We’re all busy studying for final tests and projects. But what all have we learned outside of the classroom?


Well, to answer our own question, we have learned quite a lot in the last few months. If you’re like us, you probably have too.

As we are all cramming for finals and working endlessly on final projects, we thought it was important to stop, take a breath, and look back on what we’ve learned this semester. When the semester started, some of us had goals like finally learning time management or maybe learning to not wait until the night before a paper is due to start it. But turns out, the first half of the school year taught us a lot more than that. We learned social media could be devastating. Before the election, Facebook and Twitter became battlegrounds with some taking quick shots then retreating, while others launched explosive discussions that sent their followers running for cover. While some posted cute, “I voted” selfies, others openly attacked the political beliefs of their friends. Casting a ballot moved from simply voting to a statement about your feelings for others and even your relationship with God. “How can you be a Christian and vote for that candidate?” By the time the election was over, some of us had to delete our social media accounts. Just when we thought maybe the worst was over, two students were expelled

because of social media. We learned six seconds of video can cost someone their entire education. One Snap can become one’s reputation forever. We are not just playing with apps and buttons and “Likes” anymore. We learned the world of sports will always define success by the number of wins someone accumulates. When the university fired Ken Collums, we learned no matter how many times you hear growing up, “winning isn’t everything,” it has been and always will dictate the longevity of a legacy. Although it might be a good line to tell kids, when you get to a competition as stiff and a stage as big as Div. 1 every week it is win or go home. If you find yourself losing more than you win, there is a very good chance your opportunity to win will be gone soon. It doesn’t really matter if you’re creating a good culture or putting yourself out there as a good person. Don’t get us wrong. Occasionally, when this culture is created, success comes. But if the scoreboard doesn’t have more points next to your name, your luck will run out soon enough. We learned the difficulties of working in media

hashtagACU @acuoptimist


Was supposed to give a 10 minute speech, blanked on half of it, ended up giving a 5 minute one. Happy thursday lovin life.


First grader: Running towards me, arms open “Mom what are you doing here?!! Oh dang it.”


The difference between a freshmen and a senior is being able to write a paper in the 12 minutes before it’s due. Wow I’ve made it.

during the election cycle. Covering one of the most memorable presidential races in our country’s history wasn’t an easy task. We had lots of hard conversations about whether or not we could endorse a candidate and talked with friends and family about what it means to engage with the media in this day and age. We learned to think differently against all the obstacles set before us. No matter what your parents or friends think, you have every right to think, act and speak differently. During this election, we learned that even though our parents believe in one way does not mean we have to agree. That #ImWithHer does not mean #ImAgainstGod and “Make America Great Again” doesn’t mean “Die, Women Die.” We learned to think for ourselves with the brain God gave us. At the same time, we learned to trust in God and all the plans he has before us even though we can’t see them. That we shouldn’t blame God for the misfortunes in life.

Daily Doodle Dosage Sometimes, God puts us in situations to test ourselves - to see where we stand in the midst of trouble. We learned to find comfort in the communi-

ty around us when two of our own students died. We learned, or were maybe reminded, that even though ACU isn’t a perfect place, it’s a good place.

We hope you learned some of these things too. OPINION@JMCNETWORK.COM


Doing yoga changed my life RATED R

HALEY REMENAR ONLINE MANAGING EDITOR Junior convergence journalism major Albuquerque, New Mexico

My roommate and I tossed a coin to decide who would get the room with the biggest window. I won. Then I stole/”borrowed” her yoga mat and so I could practice yoga in front of that window everyday. But I promise, I really do love her. I started practicing yoga during the summer because I was bored in Abilene and wanted to go to gym classes as much as possible. But now I do it because it really changed my life. Not to sound like an infomercial, but yoga helped me physically, emotionally and spiritually. Many of my friends make fun of me because of the yoga stereotypes like the funny words, meditative

“ohms” and flowery, spiritual language. But that’s not what yoga means to me. I don’t get on the mat looking for a new-age answer to life problems. Yoga does help with a lot of simple problems, but it’s not as awkward and weird as it sounds. Yoga tones your muscles, regulates your digestion, and helps you have better posture. Many of the moves put your head upside down so more blood flows to the brain, which is helpful when you have a lot of mental work to do. #finals. Repeating putting your head upside down and right-side up helps with balance and the inner ear. Before doing yoga, I would get really dizzy on roller coasters. But af-

ter doing yoga all summer, my inner ear was used to being inverted. I went on a roller coaster at Six Flags in Vallejo, California and walked off without stumbling. Before doing yoga, I would get stressed out from homework, jobs and social club events. Sometimes I would get so anxious I couldn’t sit still and my heart raced. But yoga taught me to breathe deeply and slowly. It feels like I can hold more air in my lungs now. I can calm myself down with just a few breaths -in through the nose, out through the mouth. I do this breathing technique all throughout the day and it puts me at peace. It also made it easier to fall asleep at night. Before yoga, I would go to bed and run through my day and my goals and my plans in my mind. But now I breathe deeply and go straight to sleep. Yoga also helped me spir-

itually. I know it’s cliche, but it’s true. Before yoga, I hated sitting in silence and being still. Pastors and teachers say we need to be still as part of our worship, but I hated sitting still. I would blast worship music or read long Bible passages to fill up the silence. But when you do yoga, you focus on breathing and hold poses in silence for longer than you think you can. When you’re holding a pose, you have to push past the need to move on to the next pose. Doing this every day familiarized my brain with stillness. Now I can read a verse and meditate on it in silence for 15-20 minutes without getting distracted or feeling like I need to get up and do something. So before you write off yoga as awkward or weird, think of these benefits and give it a chance. It can really change your life. Namaste.




You know you’ve really given up at this point in the semester when you use a Livestrong band to put your hair in a sad, sad bun.


“How to lose a GPA in 10 Days” new movie coming to a theatre near you


just a potato struggling to make it in a world full of humans


made the mistake of wearing my ripped jeans to Thanksgiving lunch. It’s safe to say Mema isn’t pleased.


I freaked out for a second because my google calendar reminded me that chapel was in 10 minutes


Dear students of ACU, Today is Thanksgiving Day. Like many, I spend time reflecting upon what I am grateful for on Thanksgiving. This year, you top that list. You have been through a lot in recent weeks. No doubt many of you are reeling and wondering why. I have no answers to your questions. But I do want to remind you of the good and beauty that exists within you as a group of people, a generosity of spirit and of loveliness that I experienced firsthand this fall. You see, I am Hope Martin’s mom. During chapel on October 26th, she and her friend Ethan took their courage

personal attacks, obscenity, defamation, erroneous information or invasion of privacy. Please limit letters to 350 words or fewer. A name and phone number must be included for verification purposes. Phone numbers will not be published. Address letters to: ACU Box 27892 Abilene, TX 79609 E-mail letters to:

in their hands and stood up before you to share their message of “more alike than different” and their desire to one day become a part of your student body. What you may not know is that we experienced trepidation preceding their chapel talks: How would you respond? What if they ran over time? What if pressing needs and urgent thoughts and technology pulled your attention away? Turns out, our concerns were absolutely groundless—you were the most gracious encouraging loving audience conceivable. And that is who you are. Remember that. When presented with a chance to listen, you listen. When given the opportunity to encourage, you encourage.


EDITORIAL AND LETTER POLICY Unsigned editorials are the opinions of the Optimist and may not necessarily reflect the views of the university or its administration. Signed columns, cartoons and letters are the opinions of their creators and may not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of the Optimist or the university. The Optimist encourages reader response through letters to the editor but reserves the right to limit frequent contributors or to refuse to print letters containing


Take courage in the face of recent loss and hurt. You are triumphant in life and victorious in death. You are gentle with “otherness.”

When faced with the choice of moving on with your obligations and agendas because the speakers speak a little more slowly and are a bit unpredictable, you choose to remain, to put your own pressures aside, to honor others. When provided with the option to rejoice with someone who has overcome, you take the time to celebrate. Always remember that when given the chance, you cheer others on in your

hearts, with your presence, and by getting to your feet. You are a people who get to your feet on behalf of, and in encouragement for, others. You are patient and kind. You protect, trust, hope, and persevere. Take courage in the face of recent loss and hurt. You are triumphant in life and victorious in death. You are gentle with “otherness.” I know; I’ve seen it firsthand. May Christ dwell in your hearts this season and always. I love you, Angie Martin Angie’s two sons, Allen and Jackson Martin, are students at ACU. OPTIMIST@ACU.EDU


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Learning to thrive Students appreciate experiences with clinical teaching

LAUREN FRANCO STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Senior Sarai Valenzuela, from El Paso, shows off her student teacher I.D. Valenzuela has spent her Fall semester teaching in Abilene high schools.



or many ACU students on the cusp of adulthood, teaching a classroom of high school students about thesis statements and outlines remains as terrifying as it is unlikely. But, for Sarai Valenzuela, wrangling a herd of high school students is a daily occurrence. Just three years after she graduated high school, Valenzuela, a senior English for teaching major from El Paso, is now teaching a classroom of students at Cooper High School. She grades papers, creates lesson plans and instructs the students every day. At the end of her semester of student teaching, she’ll graduate from ACU and start teaching on her own. “I worry sometimes that this will be the rest of my life,” Valenzuela said, grinning and pointing at the stack of papers awaiting grading. But right now, she leans on the doorway to the classroom and smiles at the unruly collection of high schoolers tumbling through the door. She teaches AP English III, the last class of the day for this group of 11th graders. The classroom hums with the energy unique to teenagers. Once they’re all seated, she leans over the lectern and looks at her class, bantering with the talkative teenagers. Colorful, hand-crafted posters dot the walls, accentuating the classroom’s welcoming vibe. Although Valenzuela is only a few years older than her students, she’s in control. She may be new, but she’s also prepared. Valenzuela was well prepared by ACU’s Department of Teacher Education. The clinical teaching experience at ACU is a two-semester

I think that’s something I really love about this department, they are teaching us new and innovative ways to engage kids.” CRYSTA COOK SENIOR HISTORY EDUCATION MAJOR FROM ABILENE

LAUREN FRANCO STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Valenzuela helps students in her student teaching class.

process. The first semester of a student’s senior year is spent shadowing. The student shadows a local teacher, completes administrative work, grades papers and observes classroom dynamics. Although the semester of shadowing can be dull, it’s intended to be a foundational experience, grounding students in the high school classroom environment. Mitzi Adams, the clinical teaching coordinator in the teacher education department, said students will gradually take on more tasks throughout the semester until they are responsible for everything at the end. Lily Auker, a senior English major from San Angelo, is among a group of students shadowing at Abilene High this semester. She admitted that it can be dull at times, but

that she really enjoys the experience. “This semester is just about watching and learning,” Auker said. “It’s about pedagogical learning, before we start teaching for real next semester.” The semester of shadowing is also a chance for students to acquire handson teaching skills from the high school teachers. “Now I’m not learning the content from you [the teacher], I’m learning what you’re doing right and what I’ve been taught is right and wrong,” said Crysta Cook, a senior history teaching major shadowing at Abilene High this semester. ecause this clinical teaching program is crucial to the development of future teachers, Adams in the teacher education department helps mold


each student’s experience to produce the optimum results. ealthy, robust feedback is the cornerstone of the clinical teaching experience. The clinical teacher is assigned a clinical supervisor who is a professor in the department. The student regularly meets with the clinical supervisor and Adams to process specific challenges with students in the classroom. Additionally, the student is assigned a cooperating teacher who supervises them in the classroom and assists them throughout the semester. These three supervisors constitute a sounding board for the clinical teacher to pose ideas and questions. Adams calls it the “triad of supervision.” “Our candidates get eight observations in a semester with pretty robust


feedback,” Adams said. “That prepares them to be successful.” The emphasis on feedback in college is often lamented by students. It can be awkward and embarrassing. But Adams emphasized the importance of feedback, asserting that a rigorous program and the extensive support system set ACU’s students up for success in the workplace. “The profession of teaching is incredibly complex, it is a difficult job,” Adams said. “When our clinical teachers go out to teach, it is not unusual for us to hear back from them in their first year that they had their first observation and their principal said that they are performing like a second or third year teacher already. We hold them to a very high standard.” Crysta Cook appreci-

ated the way the teacher education department taught innovative teaching techniques so that clinical teachers could learn to engage their future students in a more robust way. “I think that’s something I really love about this department, they are teaching us new and innovative ways to engage kids,” Cook said. “So instead of just reading a paragraph or writing a book, there’s activities where you can use your phone, relating to them.” Back in Sarai Valenzuela’s classroom, it’s research paper day. Long sighs and groans echo around the classroom when the assignment is announced by Jenny Oglesby, Valenzuela’s supervising teacher. “Save yourself the heartache and learn it now,” Valenzuela says. “It’s not going away.” Soon, the class moves to a computer lab and Oglesby steps out, leaving Valenzuela alone and in control. “They’re pretty fun, they really are,” Oglesby whispers to me, pointing at the class of high schoolers all listening to Valenzuela explain another assignment. he may be worried about grading papers for the rest of her life, but right now she’s captivated a room of unruly high schoolers and is absorbed in the moment.






STANDINGS M Basketball Team


Ovrl. Div. 5-0 0-0 4-2 0-0 4-2 0-0 3-2 0-0 4-3 0-0 4-3 0-0 2-2 0-0 2-2 0-0 3-3 0-0 2-3 0-0 2-4 0-0 2-4 0-0 1-5 0-0

W Basketball Team

LAUREN FRANCO STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER After a historic junior season, Nik Grau now ranks third in ACU history in PATs made (124), attempted (130) and in career points by a kicker (235). He is also fourth in field goals made with 37 and fifth all-time in scoring by all players.

Grau turns comeback season into best one yet with first-team accolade


Nik Grau is 37-of-42 on field goals in his career, and after a junior season where he converted on 13-of-14 and didn’t miss a single PAT he was named the Southland Conference’s top kicker with first team all-Conference honors. But what’s most impressive about the junior placekicker’s accomplishments is the fact Nik was unsure if he’d ever make another field goal let alone lead the conference. NOVEMBER 2014 A year ago Nik began feeling shock down his leg getting in and out of his car; however, with just two games left in the season, and in the midst of a stellar sophomore year, Nik pushed through. “It started progressively getting worse over Thanksgiving and Christmas break, and it started coming to a point where I was always walking with a limp and it was really uncomfortable to sit down,” Nik said. “It just felt like someone was getting a knife and shoving it into my calf or right next to my shin.” JANUARY 2015 Nik and his family sought a spine specialist to give him a diagnosis, and the possibility of a herniated disc was first revealed. Knowing this Nik opted for an MRI and the injury began to become a reality to him and his family. “Come January when we realized it was a serious problem with his spine, as a mom their pain is your pain,” said Yvette Grau, Nik’s mother. The MRI showed two herniations, which was radiating direct pain down his sciatic nerve. “I was really distraught, and I didn’t really know what it meant, I just knew I was in a lot of pain,” Nik said. SUMMER 2015 Despite the ability to continue to kick, the pain did not subside. After his third epidural shot, Nik was not allowed to kick until two weeks before the team was to travel to Fresno State for the 2015 season opener. Even still, he was limited to just 15 kicks a day. “Mentally that was playing a huge role on me because I love kicking and could kick 100 balls a day, and that’s what I used to be doing,” Nik said. “And it was really frustrating because if I hit nine bad ones and the rest good then that’s all I get, and I leave with bad taste in my mouth.”

SEPTEMBER 2015 In the season opener Nik did suit up to kick. He managed to convert his only PAT, but missed on a 33-yard attempt, which in previous seasons had been near automatic. After the game Nik began to come to terms with his pain. “I really thought well it’s not worth it. I don’t feel confident in myself, I don’t feel healthy, I don’t feel like I can do what I normally do, I just didn’t really believe in myself,” Nik said. After a conversation with his kicking coach back home and his family, Nik made the decision to forgo playing and do something lasting about the pain. “In the prior years he had set an expectation for himself and his team, so when he knew he couldn’t do it, I knew it was a tough decision for him,” Nik’s mother said. OCTOBER 2015 Nik was told he would have about a 50/50 shot at kicking again. With the desire to one day step on the field again and finish out his eligibility, Nik went through with the procedure in late October. When Nik returned to Abilene after two and a half weeks, he was unable to do much. “From when I returned to Abilene all the way to the last day of the fall semester I went from my bed, to class, back to my bed,” Nik said. “It was really tough having to get up in the morning, I couldn’t tie my shoes, it was hard to take a shower, if anything fell I would just leave it there. All my muscles hurt, my back was aching.” At the time Nik feared he might have re-herniated a disc in his back, because there was such little relief, and he began to wonder if the surgery was the right move. “Two weeks after the surgery, it just didn’t look good at all,” Nik’s mother said. “But even after that he continued to persevere. After the surgery, it was hour by hour. Weeks after that it was a day at a time. Then after that it was all of us being focused on the healing of his injury. We didn’t know what was going to be the outcome of his kicking.” JANUARY 2016 When Nik returned to ACU for the spring semester, Brian Welch, one of the head trainers at the time began spending hours working with Nik through pool workouts and stretches. “He had the mentality of

I’m not going to stop. He’s a very positive individual,” Welch said. “There were obviously times during the rehab you would’ve thought he was never going to make it back mentality wise, but once we kind of got over that hump everything changed for him from an emotional standpoint.” APRIL 2016 After several months of work with Welch and walking around the football field while the team did its workouts, Nik got the opportunity to start kicking again at the end of April. “I told him [Nik] I think we should kick a ball and he was just elated and excited,” Welch said. “But I was extremely nervous when we first got out there.” It was the first time Nik had kicked a ball in seven months, and being able to see the progress and holding firm to a passage from Philippians 4, he was hopeful in his recovery. With all the work Nik and his trainer had put in and the prayers they had prayed, Welch said the moment was just as special for him. “That feeling for me, it’s what I do my job for,” Welch said. “It’s not just you show up and you treat a guy you literally put yourself whole self into them.The first time watching him kick was probably one of the highlights of my career.” Welch, who is now employed at Sit-N-Wise Sports Medicine in Decatur, said he was excited to see Nik excel this season. “I’m beside myself knowing that Nik has made vast improvements not just as an athlete, but as a person,” Welch said. “I’m just super excited for Nik and can’t wait to see how he continues to improve.” SUMMER 2016 Nik, along with his family and friends were thrilled to see the progress, there was more to accomplish. Over the summer Nik rested as much as he could, but when he came back for fall camp he struggled to get enough height on the ball, which made his kicks easier to block. And it was at this point Nik was just happy to be kicking again. Nik’s effort never faltered, and neither did his support around him. Nik’s mother encouraged him along the way, not knowing what was in the cards for Nik. “I felt helpless, I didn’t know if anything I was doing was helping him, but I wasn’t going to give up,” Nik’s

mother said. SEPTEMBER 2016 Sophomore transfer Brendan Conn was called on to fill role. “When I arrived, I wasn’t sure what to expect,” Conn said. “It seemed like I was going to be some sort of relief pitcher for Nik. No one was sure of how Nik’s back was going to feel throughout the season.” Conn handled all the kicking for ACU in the opening game, and for all Nik knew it would remain that way. Through it all the two have become close and helped each other. “Nik and I kind of have like a big brother, little brother relationship,” Conn said. “He will pick on me and give me a hard time, but when I need advice and am looking for some guidance he is always there to give it.” However, over the next week something changed. “I think I figured it out, of how I need to kick the ball with the limitations that I have and I started kicking really well. At halftime against Northern Colorado, I really surprised myself at how well I was practicing.” Wishing he had felt this way earlier in the season Nik expected Conn to finish out the game against Northern Colorado, little did he know his opportunity was close. “I remember coach telling me ‘Hey Conn we are going to let Nik take the rest of the kicks tonight, but you’re still doing kickoffs’, and when Nik found out I could see the excitement on his face, and he immediately started kicking into the net,” Conn said. “I think it kind of took him by surprise but he was more than ready.” And he was ready. With 1:51 left in the third quarter, Nik converted his first extra point in over a year. “That PAT was a ton of emotion, with everything I’d been working for over a year all in one moment,” Nik said. “It was just an incredible feeling and I couldn’t have done it with out everyone’s support. It was such a good feeling to be back on the field.” But Nik didn’t stop at a PAT, because in the fourth quarter he converted his first field goal since the end of the 2014 season. “To see my son out on the field and doing a successful kick was probably the most joy and thankfulness I’ve felt in my heart,” Nik’s mother said. My heart was swelling with joy, pride, thankfulness. I didn’t care if the kick was going to go in our not. He

was given the opportunity to try again. I don’t think anyone really understood what the whole dynamic there was.” 2016 SEASON Nik was back kicking field goals as the starter and Conn handled kickoffs. And over the next nine games he would not disappoint. Nik posted the best season of his career, leading the conference in field goal percentage and finishing tied for sixth in points (60) and points per game with six. With this year’s success, Nik is now third in ACU history in PATs made (124), attempted (130) and in career points by a kicker (235). He is also fourth in field goals. “I could have never imagined what this year would have looked like,” Nik’s mother said. “And still today I just look back and praise God for everything he’s done in Nik’s life. It’s been an incredible journey. So many answered prayers.” Ken Collums, Nik’s former head coach said Nik’s maturity was crucial in his return, and is a big reason he excelled this season. “Part of maturity is knowing your strengths and your weaknesses, and not trying to do too much and stay in your limitations,” Collums said. “Every athlete has limitations and coming to grips with that is the crucial part.” Nik said he couldn’t have made it without the support of his mother, his father Ray and his younger sister Nataly. Family has always played a big role in his football career, especially his sister who passed away at a young age and wears a purple bracelet for. “I always wear my bracelet and I move it to my left hand before every game,” Nik said. “She is my guardian angel who watches over me throughout my whole career. I have not played a single game without it on my left hand. A lot of what I do is to make my family proud and represent the name on my back.” There is no doubt, in overcoming this injury and becoming one the best kickers in the conference, Nik has more than made his family proud. And although Nik is a senior academically, majoring in information systems, he intends to stick around to give the Wildcats a stout kicking game in 2017 with the hope of continuing to represent the name on his jersey. JMR13B@ACU.EDU


Ovrl. Div. 4-1 4-1 3-2 3-2 2-2 3-3 3-3 3-4 2-3 2-3 1-4 0-5 0-7

0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0

WHO’S HOT Despite the Wildcat’s soccer season having Roberts ended in October, senior Kelsie Roberts continues to receive accolades. Roberts had previously earned first-team all-Conference and CoSIDA academic all-district, but was also tabbed as NSCAA Third-team All-Central Region.

EX-FACTOR Taylor Gabriel gave the NFL a taste of his Abilene Christian University days as he recorded four catches for 75 yards and two touchdowns for the Falcons on Sunday. He also added a 27-yard run on his lone carry of the game.

BRIEFINGS Women’s basketball fell in a close game to UTSA 71-68 on Tuesday night. It traveled to Baylor on Thursday to take on the No. 4 Bears In its most recent action men’s basketball fell to New Mexico 64-55, despite an early lead. The game was the 50th anniversary of when the teams met in the grand opening of “The Pit”. Check out more stories at

UPCOMING The men’s basketball team takes on Charleston Southern in a rematch Dec. 3 and returns to Moody Dec. 10 to take on Northern New Mexico College. The women begin a two-game home stand as they host the University of Missouri-Kansas City Saturday and Harding exactly a week later.

The Optimist Print Edition 12.02.16  
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