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Walk-on Draper filling key role off the bench for men’s basketball SPORTS: PAGE 7


VOL. 112 No. 4


Denton PD to train to decrease gender bias By Lizzy Spangler @LizzySpangler The Denton Police Department will be one of six police agencies to take part in the Integrity, Action and Justice: Strengthening Law Enforcement Response to Domestic and Sexual Violence, a national demonstration initiative. This goal of this initiative by the International Association of Chiefs of Police is to address gender bias in police responses to domestic violence and sexual assault and to strengthen responses to victims of such crimes. The effort follows 2015 guidance from the Obama-era U.S. Department of Justice that outlined eight principles to help guide law enforcement. The DOJ outlined this specific project for the IACP and provided $5 million in funding for its implementation. “We thought there were places we could improve, in terms of how we approach victim advocacy and investigations of sexual assault and family violence,” said Chris Summitt, a Denton PD lieutenant over criminal investigations. Improvements could include “better continuity of service delivery, from report intake, initial investigation and then putting the victim in touch with therapeutic services,” Summitt said.


Football rounds out signing class

John Baines suggests modifying the Confederate monument located on the Denton Square at a meeting for the Confederate Monument Committee on Feb. 1. Omar Gonzalez

Confederate monument to stay Commissioners accept recommendation to leave statue and add context Women protest on Sunday while Willie Hudspeth speaks to the crowd. The protest was held to challenge the decision to keep the Confederate monument on the Square. Jacob Ostermann

By Matthew Brune @mattbrune25 North Texas signed 14 high school recruits and added five junior college transfers as final pieces of the 2018 signing class Wednesday morning. Twelve of the recruits help head coach Seth Littrell’s depth on defense while the other seven will join what is already a highpowered offense. It’s a class Littrell is pleased with as spring football is around the corner. “It’s a really solid class,” Littrell said. “There’s a lot of talent in this area, and I think we did a great job of going out [and] getting the right guys. It’s been a lot of planning, a lot of hard work, but I definitely think this class met a lot of needs at a lot of different positions. This class can come in and help us compete for championships.” Only two of the 14 high school players are not from Texas while four of the five junior college transfers are from other states. Of the five junior college players, three are rated twostar prospects and two are rated three-star by 247Sports. As demonstrated by players like E.J. Ejiya, Kemon Hall and Jalen Guyton, these players can make an impact quickly. “Anytime you get a junior college player, you’re hoping to get a guy that’s more mature and possibly more ready to play and compete at certain positions,” Littrell said. “Those positions were [places] we were


By Devin Rardin @DevinRardin The Denton County commissioners unanimously accepted the Confederate Monument Committee’s recommendation to keep the statue on the Courthouse lawn and add context during their meeting Tuesday morning. “I’m looking forward to the future,” Commissioner Ron Marchant said. “I’m looking forward to this concept being placed in our courtyard to make the world know that Denton County cares.” The committee members had a 15-0 consensus for their recommendation. Now the commissioners have

to decide on the context for the monument. There was a discussion on forming a new committee to work on the design and language for the context. Some members of the former committee are willing to participate. Baines explained the initial 12-3 vote for the recommendation came from a “last-minute flurry that caused some confusion” during the committee’s last meeting. When Baines approached the three dissenting voters on Saturday, they agreed to the envisioned context. There were different ideas on how to fund the proposed context.


Protests surrounding the monuments multiplied in size after the death of a woman at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.

Facing mounting public pressure, the Denton County Commissioners Court appointed a Confederate Monument Committee.

The Confederate Monument Committee held forums to hear the public’s opinions on the monument.

The Confederate Monument Committee decided 12-3 to recommend keeping the statue and adding context.

Protesters gathered on the Square in opposition to the committee’s recommendation.

The commissioners court unanimously accepted the committee’s recommendation to keep the monument and add a plaque and audio-visual kiosks.

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Creativity buds in Denton at Wildflower Art Studio By Claire Lin @claire_grace_ There’s a new art studio in town, and it’s run by adventurer, artist and mother Emile Stewart. Stewart studied drawing and painting in her undergraduate program before receiving her master’s degree in art education, but it takes more than a degree to gain the zeal for life Stewart displays.

What began as a small calligraphy class in the dining room of her house soon burgeoned into a full-time business with Stewart’s calligraphy kits becoming an Amazon best-seller in 2016. Stewart has come a long way from Amazon however, having sold more than 10,000 kits worldwide. At one point there were kits piling up around her entire house, which was ultimately


Alex Wiggins “pulls a gun” on Sean Byrne during a scene where the ship captain (Wiggins) is accused of murder. Omar Gonzalez

UNT improv troupe goes national By Rachel Linch @rachel_linch Imagine alternate realities where dragons, gnomes and magical books come to life. Not only do these scenes make up settings for movies and children’s books, they are also the settings where members of Sparky, a UNT improv troupe, find themselves navigating through each week.


Denton’s Point-in-Time count provides a snapshot of homelessness pg 3 The annual census aims to provide details about the extent and nature of homelessness in Denton County.

The troupe, made up of five UNT students, usually creates imaginary worlds within seconds and improvises on the spot for its small audience in Wooten Hall every Wednesday. But on Jan. 27, Sparky went to the Southwest Regional College Improv Tournament where it captured first place over two other troupes in the final round. Now, they will advance on to the National College




Birkenstock takes on Burgess pg 5 Take a closer look at Republican candidate Veronica Birkenstock as she challenges incumbent Michael Burgess for the 26th Congressional District seat.


Wildflower Art Studio is located on N. Locust Street. It offers a wide variety of workshops and sells art kits. Mallory Cammarata

Men’s basketball players compare their game to an NBA counterpart pg 6 Eight members of the men’s basketball team give their thoughts on which NBA player they model their game after and add commentary on their choices.


This & That: The conversation of Black History Month pg 8 February is known for being dedicated to Black History Month, but this leaves room for discussion between other races and debates the idea of the importance altogether.

NEWS Page 2

North Texas Daily Editorial Board Editor-in-Chief Kayleigh Bywater @kayleighbywater Managing Editor Kayla Davis @kaylajeann19 News Editor Sarah Sarder @sarderrr Arts & Life Editor Alec Spicer @Spicer_Alec Sports Editor Brady Keane @BradyKeane Deputy Sports Editor Matthew Brune @mattbrune25 Opinion Editor Nina Quatrino @ninaquatrino Visuals Editor Jake King @King_Jake1st

Production Team Design Editor Kelly Fox @kellythefox1 Designer/Copy Editor Marshall Cearfoss @JustMarshalling Designer/Copy Editor Kaitlin Pennell @k_itlinn


Nation’s first consumer experience management degree offered at UNT By Sean Riedel @SeanRiedel UNT is the first university in the U.S. to offer a bachelor’s degree in consumer experience management, enrolling its first group of degree-seekers in spring 2018. “The consumer journey has become the single most important aspect in retail today,” said Judith Forney, dean of the College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism. “If you don’t understand how the consumer is getting the end product that you’re selling, you will not have a good grasp of what it is you need to sell.” The degree is being offered as a Bachelor of Science within the College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism after it was approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Students will “learn to manage consumer expectations in retail, hospitality and tourism,” according to a UNT press release. Forney explained the new program will have an in-depth approach to studying consumer behavior. “Historically, there have been academic programs in consumer sciences that are looking at consumer behavior from the perspective of individuals and their purchasing behavior,” Forney said. “This has a different approach because we’re in a different environment and so there’s not any program out there that has approached the understanding of consumers as they interact in the marketplace through all of the dynamic venues that we have.” Forney has been dean for 20 years and will step down from the position in late 2018 to teach courses in the consumer experience management

curriculum. Professor Linda Mihalick teaches multiple courses in the consumer experience management curriculum, including Introduction to Digital Retailing, Digital Retailing Strategies and Digital Study Tour. “Prior to the availability of this new degree, many of our students were double-majoring in merchandising and digital retailing,” Mihalick said. “I like to say that this allows them to ‘power-up’ a foundational degree. They are uniquely positioned as they seek internships and employment to have a much more well-rounded, hands-on understanding of the current retail and hospitality environments.” Freshman Allison McDonald is one of the three students who have consumer experience management as their major this semester. “I chose this major specifically because I am working toward opening my own wedding venue,” McDonald said. “I think that this major will help me in this career field just simply because it is consumer based and weddings are as well. In order for us to get word out about our venue, we have to have really good marketing skills, and also market in a way that will bring consumers in.” Forney said consumer experience management joins the College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism’s other comprehensive areas of focus to create an even more wellrounded program. “This is the final cog in the wheel in order to have a comprehensive offering across this whole industry that’s global,” Forney said. “Having that breadth of that whole industry is unique. I don’t think you’d find it anywhere else.”

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Judith Forney, dean of the College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism, sheds light on a new major being offered at UNT. Forney will be stepping down as dean after 20 years in order to teach several of the courses within the new consumer experience management curriculum. Paige Bruneman

Infographic by Lizzy Spangler

PIT survey to reveal Denton County’s homelessness statistics By Lizzy Spangler @LizzySpangler Denton County conducted their annual Point-in-Time count on Jan. 25, a “census of people experiencing literal homelessness,” according to the Denton County Homeless Coalition’s website. The count is required under federal law and aims to provide a snapshot of the number of homeless people in a given area, taken at the same time each year. “It really illuminates the extent and nature of homelessness in Denton County,” said Katie Chapman, chair of the 2018 Point-in-Time count planning committee. “That’s very difficult to do on a one-on-one basis, so because we’re kind of scanning the entire county, or as much of it as we can.” While this count is not a complete survey of Denton County, it can be used to cultivate awareness about homelessness and advocate for more resources and funding to improve the state of homelessness in Denton County. Creating Awareness Tierra Bishop, grants coordinator for the nonprofit social service agency Christian Community Action and a 2018 PIT survey volunteer, said she was able to interview participants of the survey and found it enlightening. “I know there is homelessness in Denton County, but hearing these stories first-hand actually humanizes the phenomenon and thereby makes them more relatable,” Bishop said. “Hearing these experiences from people reminded me that they really aren’t so different from you or me and that they deserve compassion and understanding.” The survey was expansive, asking questions regarding potential veteran status, homelessness and job status. Those who participated in the survey were also able to self-report whether or not they had a physical or mental disability. The PIT count can help identify particular trends and potential successes in ending homelessness. In the 2017 PIT count, the reported number of homeless children had risen to 34, up from 29 in 2016 and 20 in 2015, according to the survey results from the Denton County Homeless Coalition. “It is important to note that this is a

snapshot of homelessness in Denton County and not an in-depth analysis,” Chapman said. “So, while it does definitely give us a lot of information to work with as far as trends and needs and location and just general demographic information, it is a snapshot.”  Directing Resources When the results of these surveys come out, they can also be used to apply for funding or grants for programs to help improve homelessness in Denton County. “One of the questions identifies whether the participant is chronically homeless or not,” said Hope Nordon, co-chair of the 2018 PIT survey planning committee. “In those instances, we can see there are this number of people that are chronically homeless, but we only have two programs for people that are chronically homeless.” The survey results also provide insight into what resources may be needed to address specific issues with regards to homelessness in Denton County. “We can go into it knowing what we have,” Nordon said. “And then coming out, seeing that we’re not quite meeting those needs or we’re not going in the right direction and seeing what we need going forward.” Applying for Funding Nordon, who manages a permanent supportive housing program and has to re-apply for grants each year, must prove a need for the funding. She does so through PIT survey data. Survey results can drive home the importance of initiatives concerning chronic homelessness as well, specifically with veterans. “There are quite a few initiatives around Denton County right now to help combat that, specifically for veteran homelessness,” Chapman said. “I think last year, when we got the results of how many veterans were experiencing homelessness, I do think that that helped drive home those programs, even if it didn’t directly create them.” The 2018 Denton Point-in-Time survey results won’t be released until later this spring when they are shared with the community, according to the Denton County Homeless Coalition.

Protesting continues as monument remains on Denton Square MONUMENT CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 Commissioner Hugh Coleman suggested using county funds while Horn wanted to consider private funding. Baines said the committee could organize a fundraiser. The proposed context includes a plaque under the monument’s archway and kiosks on both sides. The committee agreed that a strongly-worded statement to denounce slavery must be included. “It’s not all about that statue,” Commissioner Bobbie Mitchell said. “It’s about Denton County, and it’s about the lives that we have in Denton County and the people that we serve.” A small crowd protested the committee’s

recommendation Sunday evening on the courthouse lawn. “The decks are stacked against us,” local activist Willie Hudspeth said at the protest. “They have all the votes on that commissioners court. The people will help change that vote. If we want this thing moved then we have to come to the commissioners courts, [show up] Sunday evenings or somewhere and get our voices heard.” Hudspeth was a member of the advisory committee and one of the three who initially voted against keeping the statue. The other earlier dissenting votes came from Paul Meltzer and Alfred Sanchez. After a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville

resulted in the death of one woman, the controversy surrounding Confederate monuments nationwide increased. The Commissioners court saw numerous speakers on the subject and eventually organized a committee. The 15-member Confederate Monument Committee had their first meeting in October 2017 after being approved by the Denton County Commissioners Court. After three months of studying the history of the statue, hearing from experts and hearing from the public, the committee voted on a recommendation last Thursday. Protests to remove the statue are planned for every Sunday from Feb. 4 to Feb. 25.

NEWS AROUND CAMPUS UNT to host seventh annual electronic music festival

The College of Music will host the seventh annual National Student Electronic Music Event from March 9 through March 10, according to the university. The event will be at Merrill Ellis Intermedia Theatre, located at 415 Ave. C. The cost to attend is free, but seating will be limited. A Peabody Conservatory student first started the NSEME festival to bring together electronic music composers and performers to feature works of both undergraduate and graduate students who attend U.S. universities and colleges.

UNT sees increase in spring enrollment

Tickets to see Jane Goodall at UNT to go on sale

Spring enrollment at UNT is at the highest it’s been with the enrollment rate above 35,000 students, according to UNT. Online courses have increased by 16.6 percent and UNT’s doctoral program increased enrollment by four percent since spring 2017. The New College at Frisco experienced a 72 percent jump in enrollment. UNT is shown to be one of the most diverse universities in the nation with over 8,000 Hispanic students, almost 5,000 African-American students and almost 3,000 AsianAmerican students.

Jane Goodall, environmental and animal conservationist, will speak at UNT’s Distinguished Lecture Series on Mon. April 9, according to UNT. The event is free for UNT students, guest tickets are $5, faculty, staff and alumni are $10 and general admission is $20. Student tickets go on sale Feb. 12. Goodall is known for her work with chimpanzees and has been trying to protect them from extinction for over 50 years.

Poet and award-winning writer to read at UNT The English Department will host poet Ruth Ellen Kocher and prize-winning novelist Paul Beatty for the Visiting Writer Series on Feb. 27, according to UNT. Kocher will speak at 8 p.m. in room 116 in Sage Hall and will do a Q&A before the event in the General Academic Building. Paul Beatty will give his reading, do a Q&A and sign books starting at 2 p.m. on March 30 in the University Union.

By Jackie Guerrero



Downtown Mini Mall demolished Rachel Walters

Rachel Walters

A demolition company began tearing down the Downtown Mini Mall on Locust Street Wednesday afternoon at the downtown square in Denton, Texas. The City of Denton granted a permit for Tactical Demolition of Prosper, Texas on Friday to begin demolition of the building after a four-alarm fire destroyed the store in the early morning hours of Dec. 26. The fire damaged several adjacent stores such as Jupiter House and La Di Da, which have no defined date for reopening.

Tate A. Owen

Denton County sees influx of Dems on ballot By Katharine Beal @katharine_anne4 The Denton County Republican and Democratic primaries for 2018 midterm elections are approaching on March 6, and the county, like the state of Texas, is seeing an increase in Democratic candidates. “2018 will most certainly be the most important midterm election of my lifetime,” said Amy Taylor, the coordinated campaign chair of the Denton County Democratic Party. “We are on the precipice of a big decision on who government is designed to lift up, versus who it’s not.” This year, the Denton County ballot saw an influx of Democratic candidates campaigning for notoriously Republican-held positions. One of these is Amy Manuel, a longtime resident of Denton County and candidate for county clerk. Manuel will be the first Democrat to campaign for this seat in over three decades. She was motivated to run when the Republican county clerk incumbent, Julia Luke, refused to provide marriage licenses to samesex couples in 2015 following the introduction of marriage equality into federal law. “When you’re in an elected office, when you’re in government, your religion should have nothing to do with it,” Manuel said. “We have a separation of church and state. In my opinion, there are three evil ‘B’s in government: bigots, bullies and busybodies.

[Luke] was bigoted against same-sex couples and the queer community, and she was going to bully them and keep them from getting their licenses.” With years of database programming and experience as a crew leader on the 2010 census, Manuel said she believes she possesses the necessary qualifications to hold the position of county clerk, which primarily involves records management. Manuel said she has a difficult campaign ahead of her but believes it will all come down to turnout. “It’s not as much that Denton is an all-Republican county as it is a non-voting county,” Manuel said. Taylor explained that although Denton has a large concentration of Democrats, many only vote every four years. “I don’t like the argument, ‘I don’t vote because I don’t know,’” Taylor said. “Use your best judgment. It’s your civic responsibility, and as imperfect as it is, your voice matters.” This is the first year that the Denton County Democrats have had a coordinated campaign chair separate from other leadership. The position was created in response to the sheer number of Democratic candidates running for election. Taylor said she was inspired to serve within the party by the energy in Denton — not just to resist the Trump agenda, but to stand up for the values of the Democratic Party. Although she said the party has less money overall than the

Republican Party, she was of the opinion that “democracy is not best served by big money.” Taylor’s job entails coordinating people and volunteers and finding effective, low-cost ways to spread the party’s message. Some of the ways they accomplish this are by block walking, knocking on doors and informing Denton of the differences between the Republicans and Democrats. Although both parties engage in block walking, the GOP pays its walkers to participate, while the Democrats rely on volunteers and candidates to do the groundwork. Taylor highlighted the difference, which she said is that the Democratic workers have “real passion and are doing it because they truly believe in the values of the Democratic Party.” Taylor encouraged interested people to get involved, emphasizing that now is the time to do so. Although polls show young people are the least likely demographic to vote, Taylor does not believe that millennials are the problem. “[They] are excited and energetic,” Taylor said, citing the battle for net neutrality in which millennials were actively engaged. Taylor aims to better inform millennials and students on the ways the Democratic Party can serve them, through health care and the economy. “Democrats want to feel useful and hopeful, and it feels good to do something,” Taylor said. “Change on the local level paves the way for change on the national level.”

Political candidates cheer on Jan. 20 on the steps of the Denton courthouse at the Women’s March. Omar Gonzalez

Kathryn Jennings

Tate A. Owen

Denton police dept. to undergo domestic violence response training BIAS CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 Denton PD has received a grant from the IACP which they will use to help improve their approach to domestic and sexual violence by creating a dedicated position for sexual assault investigation and investing in specialized training, which will include traumainformed interviewing. “Trauma-informed interviewing helps you have a better understanding of the emotionality involved in the recounting of the event,” Summit said. “And emotionality doesn’t lend itself to time-sequencing very well.” Summitt said Denton PD is hoping to do a better job in victim advocacy, which involves getting people connected to human services. “It’s extremely important,” Andrekus Dixon, a UNT criminal justice professor, said of victim follow-through. “It’s important because a person’s perception can be correlated to their experience, so if we want to encourage people to come forward and we want to try to solve these crimes, it’s imperative that we do all that we can to show the victim that we do care.” Denton PD is partnering with Denton County Friends of the Family, a local domestic and sexual violence shelter with whom they have a working relationship, to assist with this initiative and to improve victim advocacy. “They’re one of our primary advocacy sources already,” Summitt said. “So it was something they were excited to be a part of. Just through our own internal diagnoses, we recognize there’s things we can probably be better at.” The DCFOF helped the Denton PD with the development of the grant application for IACP funds and is serving a community partner role while the Denton PD works on the implementation of this initiative. “DCFOF has a long-standing, robust working relationship with the Denton Police Department that has strengthened over the last several years as a result of the creation of a Domestic Violence High Risk Review Team,” said Donna Bloom, director of legal services at DCFOF. “Our goal is to provide comprehensive, holistic services to every victim

of domestic and sexual violence the Denton Police Department identifies for our help.” With a grant that expires Sept. 30, 2019, Denton PD is already making personnel moves to get up and running. The department will submit a sample budget in early March. “Part of what helped us is the sustainability package that comes with it,” Summitt said. “The city’s committed to keeping the position that we add beyond the life of the grant, so we’re not looking at a reduction of services when the grant expires.” DCFOF will also be available after the funding expires, continuing to offer their services. “We believe the relationship between our agencies will be refined and further strengthened throughout the funding period,” Bloom said. “This will be a gift that keeps on giving long past the grant funding.”

ARTS & LIFE Page 4



UNT’s Sparky troupe heads to college improv tournament IMPROV CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 Improv Tournament in Chicago to compete against the best college improv troupes from 11 different regions. “When they called our name we were all like, ‘What?’” said 22-year-old Tierney Conley, member of Sparky and former president of the improv club. “But at the same time, we were really excited because obviously we value ourselves and do think we’re good improvisers.” Sparky was created in fall 2016 and

was originally comprised of Sean Byrne, Christian Campbell, Alex Wiggins and club founder Conley. Nate Lawrence joined later in fall 2017. The spirit of Sparky is influenced by Daniel Matthews, a member of improv troupe Cell Block Tango. The troupe went on to the national CIT in 2014 and now regularly performs at the Dallas Comedy House. Matthews’ saying, “Keep the whimsy,” inspired members of Sparky to maintain a free-spirited improv philosophy,

reminding them to keep the spark alive during performances. “We just decided to follow the fun because if we were having fun, that meant people were going to like the set,” said Byrne, president of the improv club and member of Sparky. “Every set we’ve ever had that was good, we’ve had fun during it.” The whimsical, light-hearted troupe’s philosophy has found a way to manifest on stage. Instead of focusing on the technical side of improv or pleasing the judges,

Sparky, a UNT improv troupe, recently won a spot to compete in Chicago where they will compete on a national stage. Members from left to right are Christian Campbell, Nathan Lawrence, Sean Byrne, Tierney Conley and Alex Wiggins.

Left: Improv Club President Sean Byrne also participates in the Sparky troupe. Right: Nathan Lawrence performs alongside Tierney Conley during an improv set that takes place on a ship. In the scene, Tierney’s character finds out her mother was murdered. Photos by Omar Gonzalez

Sparky’s goal to remain focused on its foundation: having fun and playing makebelieve with friends. “We try to keep it fun, don’t take it too seriously and let weird things happen that you wouldn’t see every day,” Conley said. “People don’t want to see you make a sandwich, get in your car and drive to work, they want to see you fight a dragon.” Though they had underdog-like success at this years’ Southwest Regional CIT in Houston, it wasn’t Sparky’s first time to compete. The group competed last year as a troupe for the first time but wasn’t able to win. As they prepared to return this year with the addition of Lawrence, the group practiced every week from November 2017 all the way up to the weekend of the competition. “We were just trying to ensure as much as possible that we were prepared as much as possible because it’s important to develop cohesion when you’re in a troupe like that,” Byrne said. Not only did they form a tighter troupe, they also refined the improv format they invented specifically for the competition. “One thing that’s cool about UNT improv that’s different from the other teams is that we make up our own formats,” Conley said. “We always make up our own [things] or add things to give it our own twist.” Formats, or the structure of a long-form improv set, have many basic versions that are popular and well-known. The thing that makes Sparky’s format unique is how it introduces characters through “freeze frames” — while the character being introduced is frozen, two other characters on the sides say who they are and what they do. “There’s a bunch of different types of improv sets you can do, but we invented this one because we wanted to come to CIT with something new,” said Campbell, member of Sparky and vice president of the improv club. When Sparky performed its “freeze frames” for the first time last year, it made an impression on both the audience and other troupes. This year was no different. It wasn’t just the long hours of practice and perfecting original formats that made

a winning difference for Sparky this year. The members’ relaxed attitudes were also a big part of it. “This year, I think we were just focused on having fun performing and having a good time being there, no matter what,” Conley said. It was a mindset that made the competition enjoyable, not stressful. And it’s also the reason the entire troupe was shocked when it heard its name crowned as the Southwest Regional winner. “It was a euphoric moment, and it was such a huge relief to hear we won,” Byrne said. “Being able to go to Chicago is amazing. I still can’t believe it.” As Sparky looks ahead to the National CIT on March 3 in Chicago, members can’t wait to explore the city and enjoy the nation’s top college performances. “We’re not really focusing on the competition as much right now — we just can’t wait to go to Chicago,” Campbell said. “I just want to see some good improv and hopefully produce some for others to see as well.” Looking to the future of improv on campus, Sparky will continue hosting shows from 9:30-10:30 p.m. on Wednesdays in Wooten Hall, room 222 — the same location the UNT improv club has its meetings from 8-10 p.m on Monday nights. Sparky hopes more people who are interested in improv will come to the meetings and that their advancement to nationals will encourage more local troupes to form and eventually compete. But for now, the troupe is focused on its next adventure: nationals. Even though the stakes are higher, Sparky is planning to go in with the same easy-going, relaxed mindset it had at regionals. And no matter what, the troupe plans to have the time of their lives playing make-believe with each other on the national stage. “I’m going there with not even the explicit intent to win,” Byrne said. “It’d be amazing to win, but just being able to go to Chicago is amazing on its own. If we don’t win, it’s not the end of the world by any means. I just want to go there and have a blast.”




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Wildflower studio blooms in Denton WILDFLOWER CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 the deciding factor for opening up a brick and mortar space in town. “The kits were a game-changer,” Stewart said. “That’s when we opened up this space.” Fast forward and there now are four different kits available for purchase: calligraphy, brushlettering, watercolor and handlettering. Each kit includes all the necessary items for its respective art mediums. Stewart and her younger sister and studio manager Bailey Jones opened up the brick and mortar shop in December 2017, and as of January 2018, they have officially begun hosting workshops in the quaint studio. Most of what is done in the studio is packaging the kits, but Wildflower Art Studio also offers adult workshops in calligraphy and other penmanship arts, as well as children’s art classes.

Located on North Locust Street, the studio is hard to miss when driving past, with its stunning, white brick wall and tall glass windows. With a closer look into the windows, the serenely decorated workshop space with calligraphic art by Stewart and Jones adorning the walls lights up the space. Beyond the creative space sits a room in the back, separated by a curtained doorway, where they still assemble the kits. “We just randomly picked Denton for the artsy vibe and really fell in love with it,” Stewart said. “It’s just a really cool place. We’re sticking around.” Although Stewart’s plans for the near future are to remain in Denton, she isn’t used to living a small-town life. Her thrill-seeking spirit of adventure led her to live in the Bahamas for a few years after college, where she fell in love before calling Denton home.

“I met my husband in the Bahamas,” Stewart said. “We both lived there after college [and] I was avoiding the real world and lived on a sailboat. I was pursuing adventure-only.” The studio is a perfect culmination of everything Stewart loves: art and teaching. The workshop space allows her to teach individuals in the community about the art she loves, while the packaging space in the back allows her to teach people all across the globe through the kits. “I love what she does with her business, and I love that she inspired creativity in all kinds of ways,” Jones said. “I love that we get to ship it all around the world. It’s pretty cool.” As for the shop’s immediate and long-term goals, Stewart hopes to continue teaching adult workshops and to begin seriously focusing on the children’s workshops, which

began most recently. As of right now, Jones teaches all the children’s classes with the help of Madison Hoover, a UNT student who works at the studio. “I started in October, and I love it here,” Hoover said. Stewart is a firm believer in children’s art education, as she used to be a public-school art teacher. As a mother of two young boys herself, Stewart strives to increase the value of creativity. “There’s a need for children’s art education here [in Denton],” Stewart said. “There’s a homeschooled population here, and they don’t have the opportunities the public-school kids have.” Above all else, Stewart strives for her work ethic and dreams to follow her free and adventurous spirit. “I try to be brave with my choices,” Stewart said. “If I feel like there’s something that I should do but it’s scary… well, sometimes

brave means saying ‘yes’ to doing that scary thing, and sometimes it means saying ‘no.’” With bravery comes the welcoming of the unexpected for Stewart, who remains excited for what the future holds for her newfound creative space. “I’m just taking it one little adventure at a time,” Stewart said. “I didn’t know I was going to open up this building a year ago, so I don’t know what’s going to happen this year. Let’s see!”

Top: Stickers are offered to those who mention the studio on social media. Bottom: Emile Stewart, owner of Wildflower Art Studio, creates workshops and sells art kits. Photos by Mallory Cammarata

Veronica Birkenstock on running for office, children, veterans By Amy Roh @rohmyboat After years in the political sphere, Veronica Birkenstock was tired of seeing a lag in Congress. Now, she is stepping up to the plate as a Republican candidate for the 26th Congressional District. “[I decided to run out] of sheer frustration [of] not seeing things get done in the district and the House and, just [wanting to be] a voice,” Birkenstock said. Birkenstock was born at her family farm in South Carolina, where she was raised in a self-admitted conservative household. “[It was] a really rural area, Veronica Birkenstock not very wealthy,” Birkenstock said. “We were very conservative not because of political situations but because we didn’t know any better.” She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of South Carolina before receiving her master’s degree in human resources at Webster University. She runs Practical Employee Solutions in Frisco, a company that processes H-2B visas for temporary foreign workers and recruits them for companies in need of low-skilled labor. Birkenstock, though running for office for the first time, is no stranger to politics. She previously worked on Capitol Hill as a registered activist and worked on campaigns for candidates, like Mitt Romney. Most recently, she was a campaign fundraiser for

then-presidential candidate Donald Trump as part of his labor department transition team. “Things that matter the most [are what] I fight for — I work for it, and I don’t give up,” Birkenstock said. “I’m not one of those people who just walk away from the fight. It actually energizes me.” She is the only Republican candidate running against incumbent Michael Burgess, whom she previously supported. However, Birkenstock said it was her opponent’s stagnancy in the House that spurred her to run this year. “We have the largest conservative block in history, and we have a representative that no one hears from,” Birkenstock said. “I’m sure [Burgess] has done the best he could, but he’s run out of steam.” Her supporters say they want to break away from Burgess’s nearly 16-year hold on District 26, too. “Her opponent has been there for a long time, and he really hasn’t done much lately,” Aubrey Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Perry said. “It’s almost like he’s done just enough to continue getting elected, and that’s a problem for Congress members of both parties.” Birkenstock said she is confident her initiatives and drive will appeal to voters come election day. “You only get one [ballot], and you have to make that one count, and it has to be a memorable one,” Birkenstock said. “I’m the kind of person that can get people who usually don’t get me [at first].” On the issues Birkenstock’s focus is mainly centered on children, veterans and border security.

As a mother of a disadvantaged child, Birkenstock said she wants to give them proper representation. She said she is pro-life and believes in the freedom of choice in education. “I want children to have rights, especially for the unborn and for those who are disadvantaged,” Birkenstock said. “I’ve had to do that for my daughter. They don’t have a voice. Someone who can be that voice for them — someone who can fight or them, whatever that issue is.” Birkenstock said she wants to invest effort into finding different methods of learning for children in school. “There are so many disadvantaged children who don’t have any parents who don’t have that fight or don’t even know they have the resources for that,” Birkenstock said. “Not every child works the same way. I want to help children actually learn. [I want to work] on creating a theory or be able to experience the learning objective. Not every child learns the same.” For veterans, Birkenstock said she wants to give them more priority and care on a daily basis. “If you are a veteran, you have earned the right to go first at everything,” Birkenstock said. “Whether it’s a doctor’s office, whether it’s at the grocery, wherever it is, you get to go first.” As for future plans of implementation, Birkenstock said there simply needs to be more real-life solutions instead of creating more social programs. “I don’t think we need to start any programs,” Birkenstock said. “We have more programs than we know what to do with. We have to stop with the programs

50% Off on February the 19th 9A.M.–9P.M.

and find solutions. You just have to be responsive and listen and do it.” Birkenstock also said she supports President Trump’s agenda for the border wall, adding it should also include a gate for those coming in legally. “I’d love to lay the first brick,” Birkenstock said. “If you don’t have borders, you don’t have a country. I don’t have a problem with anyone immigrating to this country — that’s how we’re here. Someone in our family came and did it the right way. We also need gates where people come through very proudly and not ashamed.” Advocates for her campaign say Birkenstock is for the people, much like her tagline, “Good for Texas, Bad for the Swamp.” “I have personally seen her, in that she’s a doer and she is for the people,” supporter and local Republican activist Tencia Ruiz said. “She actually takes time to talk and to listen to what matters most with people.” It all comes down to getting people to the voting polls, however. Birkenstock said this especially applies to younger student voters, who make up a significant percentage of the Denton population but continue to have low voter turnout rates. “Without these students, we have no future,” Birkenstock said. “I don’t care what the past is and the history of how students vote. Students needs to be involved in that process, and they need to be invited into that process because what matters to them, matters to us.” Editor’s note: The office of Congressman Michael Burgess was contacted for a profile as well but did not return contact made by The North Texas Daily.





NBA role models for North Texas players

Mean Green men’s basketball players compare their play style to professional counterparts By Matthew Brune @Mattbrune25 As the college basketball season enters its final month of regular season play, there is no better time to have some fun and get into the minds of the players on the men’s basketball team. We asked the top eight players in minutes played to compare themselves to current and past NBA players based on who they model their game after. Senior sports writer Matthew Brune then adds his insight on their selection. Here are the results: Ryan Woolridge, sophomore point guard NBA comparison: John Wall

Woolridge: “I play more of a John Wall style. At times [I can attack and at others I can facilitate].” Matthew Brune: Woolridge is a quick, passfirst point guard, has decent size at the position and can defend really well. Another thing he and John Wall have in common is neither can really shoot consistently, but they make up for it by attacking the paint off of ball screens.

shoots 9.3 3-pointers per game and Smart shoots 9.2 per game. Neither one has seen a shot from behind the arc they did not like, and both are lethal from any range. Both Gordon and Smart can also get to the hoop and draw fouls pretty well.

Wiggins shoots more 3-pointers but he is only shooting 32 percent, and Holston, at his level of competition, is probably a slightly better defender.

DJ Draper, sophomore guard NBA comparison: Patty Mills

Shane Temara, senior forward NBA comparison: Kevin Love

A.J. Lawson, sophomore guard NBA comparison: Scottie Pippen

Lawson: “Scottie Pippen just because he was the glue guy on his team, and he helped the team offensively and defensively. He wasn’t afraid to put his body on the line.” MB: This is a fun one. I see the comparisons because of the size and physicality of the two players. Neither is a great spot up shooter but both can create off the dribble. Lawson mentions putting his body on the line, and he does that a lot for loose balls while also playing this year with a nagging wrist injury. He just wants to win.

Temara: “Kevin Love because he picks and pops and can shoot. He also rebounds really well.” MB: Both are stretch bigs who can rebound well, so Temara got it right here. The only real difference is Love has more of a post-up game too while Temara really likes popping out for three. They both stretch the floor so well, however, Temara clearly has the better hair in this comparison. Zachary Simmons, freshman forward NBA comparison: Tim Duncan

Draper: “I think I’m most like Patty Mills honestly, because he comes in and works hard on defense then makes open shots.” MB: This is the most accurate comparison yet. Both are good shooters. Both play hard, especially on the defensive end. Both can occasionally get to the basket. And both are really good teammates who had years of cheering on teammates from the bench when they weren’t playing. Also, Draper is basically the backup point guard right now, and he can play at shooting guard with Woolridge. Tope Arikawe, junior forward NBA comparison: Hakeem Olajuwon

Allante Holston, junior guard NBA comparison: Andrew Wiggins

Roosevelt Smart, sophomore guard NBA comparison: Eric Gordon

Smart: “Eric Gordon because threes are worth more than twos, and he shoots a lot of threes — and makes them.” MB: Smart is pretty spot on here. Eric Gordon

Holston: “It would probably be Andrew Wiggins. We have similar games. [We’re both] versatile, athletic and long.” MB: This is a good comparison because Holston is the best dunker on the team by far and both are versatile, lengthy players who can move in the lineup and switch onto different types of players.

Simmons: “Tim Duncan. You know, he has a little bit of athleticism to him, but he’s more about the fundamentals, angles and just being a good teammate and winning.” MB: I can see Simmons modeling his game after the great Tim Duncan’s. His defense has the potential to be that caliber of great at the collegiate level as he continues to develop. He has already shown a really impressive touch around the basket on offense. Now, all he needs is that patented bank shot.

Arikawe: “Hakeem Olajuwon, because he’s one of the best post players to ever play the game. He knows how to score around the basket and he’s got great post moves.” MB: On the court, Tope is the best post player on the team with a nice post hook and a nice drop step, but this comparison and admiration goes beyond basketball. Both were born in Lagos, Nigeria. Arikawe started playing basketball at 14, while Olajuwon started playing at 17, and both played only soccer until then.

Underclassmen fill track & field roster By Deondre Jones @deondrejones34 The North Texas track and field team is undergoing a youth movement of sorts. The team is going into the 2018 season with 77 athletes on its roster, and exactly 50 of those athletes are underclassmen. The team emphasizes having several athletes compete for them to earn points and win against Conference USA competition, explaining why North Texas recruited so many athletes this past year. “The more athletes we can get at one time, the more competitive we could be sooner,” Carl Sheffield, head coach of track and field said. Sheffield was surprised to hear the exact number of young athletes on his roster but acknowledged having depth was one of his goals entering the season. “I think we recognized over the past two years that we needed depth and then a quality of it,” Sheffield said. “It was intentional, but it’s kind of mind-blowing when you realize how many [athletes] it actually was.” Thirty-one of those 50 underclassmen are making their Mean Green debut this year. Sheffield added this was the largest group of incoming freshman in his six seasons as a track and field coach at North Texas. Senior jumper Dominique Drayden has seen a lot of athletes come and go, but even he was shocked to see this many underclassmen on one team. “It’s very abnormal coming from last year and the year before that,” Drayden said. “When I first got here, we had a lot of upperclassmen. This past year we lost a lot [of upperclassmen], so we had to bring a lot of new faces in, and it was a big adjustment.” Drayden believes that there are obstacles to being a young athlete on the team, which she knows from experience. However, the young athletes have adjusted well in the first year. “It’s really a challenge because a lot of them are coming from high school,” Drayden said. “It’s a big change coming from high school to college because of the atmosphere, classes, and training, but they’ve adjusted pretty well to it.” Freshman sprinter Abdon Campbell was similarly surprised to know that the majority of the team were underclassmen. “I’m not used to seeing so many young

people on one team,” Campbell said. “We have very few upperclassmen and seniors to look up to, so it’s kind of weird.” Sheffield needed leaders for this young group. For the women, he mentioned senior Victoria Junious, juniors Bria Williams, Susannah Lynch, and sophomore Breanna Eckels as being those influences the team needed. Eckels, who was hurt towards the end of the fall semester, is just now getting back up to speed, and Sheffield hopes that she can continue setting an example for her teammates. “She was a conference champion as a freshman, so she knows what it takes,” Sheffield said. “We’ve missed her a little bit towards the end of the semester, but she’s back now and she’ll be another voice that will help.” Out of this year’s freshman class, one athlete Sheffield was impressed with was Taylor Blackshire’s performance throughout this indoor season. “She’s a freshman from Mesquite, [a school that] has a pretty glorified history and was on one of the fastest relay teams in the state of Texas this past year,” Sheffield said. “They were ranked No. 2 nationally, so she’s added a lot to the women’s team.” Blackshire seems to have had the biggest impact from the veteran leadership due to her strong outings during indoor season. “I rely on the upperclassmen like

Bria [Williams], Jahyda [Dixon], Bree [Eckels],” Blackshire said. “They’ve been very supportive, and they tell me to stay focused even when times get hard.” For the men’s team, Sheffield thinks senior Mike Lowe, junior James Cole and Drayden have all been good mainstays who have grown up in the system as leaders and captains. Drayden feels privileged to be relied on as a leader and veteran presence in his final year. “It’s an honor because when I first got here, I didn’t know exactly what to expect, so I had to work my butt off and keep training hard,” Drayden said. “[Sheffield] saw the amount of effort that I put in and knew I wanted to be great.” While having a lot of underclassmen may seem like a challenge, Sheffield knows there are benefits to it as well. “They feed off each other,” Sheffield said. “They’re competitive, so it makes practice environments better and challenges us as coaches to teach more.” Campbell believes there is something special brewing for this young group of athletes as they continue to improve with one another at North Texas. “I think of it more as building a new team,” Campbell said. “Most of the [upperclassmen] are going to graduate [soon], so I think it’s good that we have a lot of people to create a team bond, knowing that it’s just gonna be us growing up together.”

Colin Heard set a career-best time of 10.56 in the 100-meter dash at the Baylor Invitational in 20142015. Courtesy | North Texas Athletics

North Texas head coach Seth Littrell stands on the sideline during a third down late in the game. File

Littrell speaks on new class SIGNING DAY CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1

losing some productivity and we needed guys to step in and compete.” Three of the junior college additions are linebackers or defensive lineman while the other two are a running back and an offensive lineman. Six of the 19 recruits played the safety position in high school and with the loss of Kishawn McClain in the 3-3-5 defensive scheme, the need for athletic defensive backs is there. “That’s been a position that we’re down on numbers,” Littrell said. “Just getting long guys that can run, hit and cover. Just trying to find the best players for our system that give us a chance to be athletic and physical and I’m really excited about that group.” Former North Texas football player and current New Orleans Saints linebacker Craig Robertson was also in attendance and fielded some questions for the Mean Green. “We need to re-sign Seth to a longterm deal, I’ll just throw that out there,” Robertson said with a laugh. “[Seth] promotes that family atmosphere. That’s what you need from a guy who’s the leader of your football team. I’m glad he’s here and he’s our head coach.” With Littrell now getting more of his recruits in, the depth and bulk of the roster continue to approach the level the program is aiming for. The hope is to keep filling positional needs as the team continues to succeed. “It’s still not ideal,” Littrell said. “We’re still down on some numbers at every position except for offensive line. Next year’s class should be around 22 or 23. Overall, we got what we thought we would and should in this class. It was best case

scenario for this season.” February Signees Tim Faison, Linebacker, Independence Community College (Kansas) Alex Morris, Safety, Atascocita High School Thomas Preston III, Offensive Line, Scottsdale Community College (Arizona) Derrick Shaw, Defensive Tackle, Broken Arrow High School (Oklahoma) Jyaire Shorter, Wide Receiver, Killeen Ellison High School December Signees Jason Bean, Quarterback, Mansfield Lake Ridge High School Cole Brown, Offensive Line, Conroe High School Keelan Crosby, Safety, Anna High School Kevyon “KD” Davis, Linebacker, Ennis High School Jaxon Gibbs, Safety, The Colony High School Jordan Hunt, Linebacker, Wylie High School Dayton LeBlanc, Frederick Douglass High School (Kentucky) Kason Martin, Quarterback, Manvel High School Darrian McMillan, Defensive Line, Butler Community College (Alabama) Larry Nixon III, Linebacker, Richland High School Austin Ogunmakin, Wide Receiver, Alief Hastings High School Tuulau Saafi, Linebacker, Mt. San Antonio College DeAndre Torrey, Running Back, Gulf Coast Junior College Reggie Williams, Safety, Grand Prairie High School



Draper shining with more opportunities By Matthew Brune @Mattbrune25 As DJ Draper’s high school career came to a close, the accolades he amassed made him a star at Birdville High School. Despite shooting 44 percent from 3-point range and averaging 15 points a game, Draper’s 5-foot-10inch frame did not translate into what college coaches were looking for on the recruiting trail. Draper had a preferred walk-on spot at Division II Newman University in Wichita, Kansas. Besides that though, all Draper had were Division III coaches calling and recruiting him. They could not offer scholarships at that level which left Draper shorthanded on favorable options. That was until former North Texas associate head coach Rob Evans attended a few of Drapers’ games and practices and offered him a preferred walk-on spot for the Mean Green. The seemingly out of the blue offer from North Texas fit everything Draper wanted. “I wanted to be closer to home,” Draper said. “My dad had connections with coach Evans and knew him through a head coach that they both knew, and that’s how I got the spot here.” Now that he is in Denton, 38 miles from Birdville High School, Draper has exploded in his redshirt sophomore season — but not before sitting for two years after getting to North Texas. In Draper’s first year, 2015-2016, he redshirted under head coach Tony Benford to focus on improving his physical build. “The redshirt year was different,” Draper said. “I was super excited for it because I knew I’d get bigger and stronger in the weight room, but it kind of hurts your playing game because you don’t get as many reps in practice. That’s the tough part.” The following season, Draper found himself back on the court in practices, but rarely saw any action in games. In total, Draper played 31 minutes and scored nine points on seven shots in the entire 2016-2017 season. That presented another challenge for Draper heading into the offseason — would Benford trust him in meaningful game action? The question was never answered as Benford’s contract was not renewed at the end of last season. In came Grant McCasland. In one of the shooting drills McCasland put the team through in his first few practices as head coach, Draper showed his value immediately. He broke records in the drills that McCasland kept track of while also proving his worth on the other side of the floor as well. “I was like, ‘Man this guy can really shoot,’” McCasland said. “In his early practice sessions, he was much better defensively than I expected. His hands and his feet are really quick. He’s deceptively good at guarding the basketball. The only things he’s missing is some inches.”

North Texas sophomore guard DJ Draper dribbles the ball in a conference match against Florida Atlantic University on Jan. 25 at the Super Pit. Sara Carpenter McCasland saw something in Draper that perhaps he did not even see in himself after riding the bench in the season prior. “I don’t think he thought he was good enough to play a lot of minutes,” McCasland said. “I would tell him, ‘You keep doing what you’re doing and you’re going to play.’ He was one of those guys that kept coming back and kept practicing hard every day no matter what.” Early on in the season, Draper looked like a spot role player who could shoot and be a secondary ballhandler, but only in five to 10 minute spurts per game. Once the Conference USA season started, he played five total minutes in the first four games, reaching the low point of his sophomore season. Then came a showdown against Rice University. Junior guard Jorden Duffy was forced to miss the game, moving Draper into the backup guard role. In turn, Draper capitalized on the opportunity, hitting six 3-pointers on nine attempts while scoring 23 points in 33 minutes of play. Since then, Duffy has still not returned and Draper has appeared more comfortable with every passing game. He is averaging 29.5 minutes per game over his last six appearances dating back to the big win over Rice. “I think I fit this system really well because we like to get out and run,” Draper said. “Then we can slow it down, and Ryan [Woolridge] is at an amazing

pace this year with assists, so I fit in well with that, just spotting up in corners or wings and [scoring] his assists.” His teammates also have seen the growth in his game this season and are thrilled to witness his recent success. “I think DJ’s game is pretty similar to last year,” senior forward Shane Temara said. “I think he’s always been like this, but he has a coach that believes in him, and he is playing with the confidence. It’s been great to see his approach to each game and see him prove that he is worthy to play.” For Draper, the biggest key to continuing to improve and grow as a player starts in the weight room. His tenure at North Texas has made him realize the importance of strength, and it has translated to his game on both ends. “The strength starts to show up the more minutes you play,” McCasland said. “Just the physicality you have to play with and the durability of your body. He plays with such a high motor and I think that’s where his strength comes through because he’s able to maintain the physicality through [the game, defensively].” Draper has yet to start a game for the Mean Green, but the role he fills is more than enough off of the bench. It is something he has embraced in the same way he has embraced his journey as a walk-on. In his Twitter bio, he has the hashtag

‘#WalkOnFraternity’ to show just how comfortable, happy and thankful he is to be at North Texas regardless of how he got there. And as a result, his mindset when he comes into games is pretty simple now. “I’m really comfortable [coming off the bench],” Draper said. “The last two years, not getting much playing time, my role was to bring energy and positivity to the team. Now, I just do that coming in to play on the court.”

North Texas guard DJ Draper (55) shoots the ball at practice. Trevon McWilliams

(Left to right) Sally Gastelo, Katie Clark and Sam Rea are the newest members of Mean Green softball team. Gastelo transferred from Arizona Western, Clark from Stephen F. Austin and Rea from Arizona College. Sara Carpenter

Softball to rely on three transfers By Luis Diosdado @luis_diosdado9 The battle for a starting spot is always an exciting fight in the sports world. For North Texas softball coach Tracey Kee, there has been quite a competition to watch throughout the offseason between her three newest transfers — junior Sam Rea, sophomore Katie Clark and junior Sally Gastelo. Transferring into a program that has struggled to win games over the past few years can be risky. However, Kee has plenty of confidence her newest players will contribute greatly this upcoming season. “As a coach, when you go out and look for transfers, you’re looking for someone who can make an immediate impact,” Kee said. “These girls have picked up the system, have a high softball IQ and have really hit the ground running”. A standout in her two years at Phoenix College, Rea comes to North Texas as an infielder, and she is a threat to opposing teams with her big bat. In her first two collegiate seasons, Rea combined for a .438 batting average, while hitting 28 home runs and knocking in 136 RBI’s. “Sam has the potential to add a lot of power to the left side of the plate,” Kee said. “She can also help get us some depth at the corners.” Born and raised in Arizona, Rea knew that she wanted to get out of the state and experience Division I softball from a different perspective. When North Texas started its recruitment, she knew right away Denton was a place she would not mind calling home. “I could tell it was an experienced program with coaches that really care about the players,” Rea said. “It looked like an area that I really wanted to be involved in, so that obviously drew me in a lot.” Rea enters the 2018 season listed as primarily a first baseman and has shown Kee she has the ability to be her everyday starter if given the opportunity. Joining Rea this year is another Arizona native, Gastelo, who joined the team last semester after playing for Arizona Western College. “Anytime you transition from a junior college to a D1 program, it takes some time to adjust,” Kee said.

“In regards to Sally, she’s just a really hard worker and puts in the extra time and has handled the transition very well.” Gastelo averaged a solid .388 batting average in her two years at Arizona Western College, adding another impressive bat to a North Texas roster. Gastelo, a junior outfielder, is not too worried about playing time and is more focused on doing what she can for her teammates. “I kind of just play it by ear,” Gastelo said. “My thing is just to help out wherever and however I can with the team.” However, Clark has perhaps been the most intriguing transfer after joining the squad in January. Clark is a mid-year transfer from Stephen F. Austin, where Kee has found several pieces of her team. Volunteer assistant coach Gay McNutt and sophomore outfielder Hannah Rebar are also former Lumberjacks. Rebar and Clark go way back, which was part of the draw to the program for the two newcomers. “We knew from our junior year in high school that we would be roommates at SFA,” Clark said. “Obviously, it was upsetting when she left to come here, but I just think its so cool that we’re now reunited and back with each other.” Coach Kee added in Clark’s speed and agility is what sets her apart from most. With that type of athletic ability, Clark should fit in nicely with the existing outfield unit. “She really just has all the tools,” Kee said. “Being a lefty hitter, her slap hitting is very effective and she uses her speed to her advantage.” Much like Rea, Clark has made an immediate impression on Kee and the rest of the coaching staff to add her name into the discussion of the starting lineup. “She’s got a strong arm, we’re looking for her to make an impact in the outfield grass where our depth has been kind of low,” Kee said. The girls are scheduled to make their first appearance in a Mean Green uniform along with the rest of the team Thursday through Friday in the Mardi Gras Classic at UL Monroe.

i’ve gotta go!


...because even the best of us can be a DICK






What about everyone else? Is one month enough?

By Ridah Syed @ridzisyed February has been dedicated to the recognition of black history, showcasing important figures and heroes of African-American descent who had a significant impact on American society. Celebrating these people and their accomplishments shines a light on blacks in America who have always been marginalized throughout history, many of which believe they still are today. While Black History Month is important, there is a need for something beyond. When we talk about race relations in America, it seems like we only talk about black people. There is never discussion around other minority race groups, such

as Latinos, Native Americans and Asian Americans, who are severely underrepresented and deserve the same recognition as part of American history. One opinion I hear as part of the Black Lives Matter movement is once equality is given to black people, all other marginalized people will also receive the same treatments, as if to say Black Lives Matter is an umbrella term for all minorities. I, however, disagree with this thought. There is no guarantee that, for instance, Latinos will stop being perceived as “illegal immigrants” just because black people are now treated fairly. This is not to undermine black people or their mission in improving race relations but to raise the question of where do other minorities stand in this debate. It is all about perception. The only way to really unite as a country under the term “diversity” is by a symbol for people to latch onto. Something as simple as a month dedicated to a specific group of people’s history is at least a step toward creating a better society. It is admittedly imperfect — a month dedicated to indigenous people means there won’t be a

discussion about Asian-Americans and vice versa, but we have to start somewhere. The caveat to having a “history month” is that people only seem to focus on the inventors, scientists and political activists who did amazing things in their time and contributed to the shaping of America. But it is not just about acknowledging the past. It is knowing how the past impacts the present. American history without black people, or any minority group for that matter, is a very different story. We teach history in schools and herald Black History Month as part of the curriculum, maybe have those kids make projects for extra credit. But times have changed, and the typical American classroom is more than just white and black kids. For a young child, they want to see someone like themselves represented in school. Isn’t there more to Latinos in America than just immigrants crossing the border? Isn’t there more to Muslims in America than just 9/11 and terrorism? The only way to break stereotypes and misconceptions is by education, and it is better to take a simplistic approach because humans are simple-minded creatures. It is easier for someone to join in on a month-long celebration of Native American history than reading about it in a textbook. Creating a culture centered around diversity is how we can achieve a better and more equal society.

Illustration by Austin Banzon


Justin Timberlake and the culture vulture society we currently live in

By Jade Jackson @IAMJADETHEGREAT In light of Justin Timberlake’s performance for the 2018 Superbowl, #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay began trending online. In the 2004 Super Bowl, the iconic incident occurred where Janet Jackson had a wardrobe malfunction on stage with Justin Timberlake. Jackson has since been snubbed from the Superbowl, but it was Timberlake’s hands that caused the wardrobe malfunction in the first place. Taking Janet Jackson out of the equation and getting straight to the performance: It felt more like

an MTV concert performance vs a theatrical piece for the Superbowl. First off, whoever was running Timberlake’s audio that night did not do him justice. His voice was drowned out by the bands and bass music in the background. Timberlake’s voice was too soft in this performance. Now as far as the Prince tribute, the very idea of Timberlake resurrecting a hologram of the late Prince is white consumption of black art at its finest for their entertainment. Don’t be dazzled by the pretty lights, stay woke. It would seem innocent enough except for when you realize Timberlake occupies the same space as many famous black musicians because of his genre, and so it would seem he always had a seat at the table. Upon the culture starting to become “woke,” to issues and giving these scenarios names to eloquently paint a picture of the black experience, he was dubbed an appropriator. His track sheet for being silent to black issues, throwing Janet Jackson under the bus and

emulating black culture enough through his music was his down fall. It would also seem that many performers who are mediocre at best, as far as putting on a good show, are the headliners. It’s only when they bring on other performers (for example Coldplay when they brought on Beyonce and Bruno Mars) that you get the entertainment the people are looking for. After that, they end up getting a lot of praise for mediocrity or at least sympathy whereas excellence from other performers is well scrutinized.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

By Brianna Adams @bribriixo Black History Month is a very important, set-aside time to appreciate African-American heroes and accomplishments throughout history. But why should it be dedicated to only one month? Black history is long, bloody and complicated. This, however, does not mean we should avoid discussing it. Bringing race into every discussion would not be necessary if we all became comfortable with each other as individuals. There has been a question in everyone’s mind: Do we really live in a post-racial society? I personally believe we cannot possibly be post-racial because people of color are still afraid to voice their opinions. One month dedicated for black history is a good start, but in order for us to even begin to reach postracialism, we need to be able to debate race issues without fear of being labeled a radical. In grade school, we are taught world history from the prehistoric era through present day. We learn about the beginnings of slavery, the triangular trade, the Three-Fifths

Compromise and the eventual abolition of slavery. We move on to learn about women’s suffrage in the early 1900s and then the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, but I fear there isn’t enough emphasis on how crucial African-American history is to this nation. We hear about black-on-black crime and how we are grateful we do not live in “those” neighborhoods. We hear about another black man being killed by police. We, the American people, make assumption after assumption, yet we reach no concrete conclusion. Whether you’re black, white, yellow or brown, the discussion is not going away. We live in a diverse society in which we’re able to interact with people from all different types of ethnic backgrounds, and through those interactions, we sometimes form opinions — both good and bad — about them subconsciously. How can we respect each other’s ethnic differences if we’re always forming stereotypes in the back of our minds? The problem is that many people get little exposure to other races, besides what is depicted in the media, from which they then

draw their own generalizations. A nice black family, who goes to church every Sunday, is not news. It’s not the “typical” black family. When people think about where a typical black person is from, they might picture the inner city, the projects or low income housing. But what does the word “typical” even mean? Google dictionary defines it as “showing the characteristics expected of or popularly associated with a particular person, situation or thing.” I would go one step further to add that “typical” includes making generalizations about a specific subject. We attach this two-part word “typical” onto things that confirm our already preexisting beliefs. This is confirmation bias. So, is it possible people are not to blame for subconsciously looking for things that only confirm what they already believe to be true? A person’s way of thinking is very difficult to dissect. No one is more guilty or innocent than their racial counterpart. The problem does not lie in how we think but is dependent upon how we act.

Illustration by Austin Banzon


Just in: Timberlake graced America with his Super Bowl performance

By Peyton Miller @peytonmiller31 One of the things I love and hate most about the technological age is our novel ability to take anything and make it political, or otherwise offensive. Every facet of American life has a new-found obligation to become the bastion of respectability and moral uprightness. So, allow me to assert my most trigger-worthy, controversial opinion yet at the North Texas Daily: Justin Timberlake’s Super Bowl Halftime show was fantastic, and we are lucky to have been graced by his talents. Twitter jumped so quickly to the controversy that those of us who enjoyed the performance were robbed of our joy. True, he isn’t a minority figure, but I would hardly consider him a controversial figure by any standard. Say what you want about his music, his status or the Prince hologram, but it was fun. One of the biggest complaints my friends had was that he spent more time dancing than he did singing.

I concede to that fact, but I don’t necessarily take issue with it. One of Timberlake’s greatest attributes is his ability to put on a crisp, well-rehearsed, entertaining performance. We all know he can sing. He has been a prominent musical figure since 1995. Which leads me to my next and likely most important point: Timberlake brings a humbleness to the stage difficult to miss. He is forefront in the performance, no doubt, but his ability to engage the audience in a selfcentered performance is unmatched. Take the selfie kid for example (which made for some hilarious memes, by the way). When is the last time you saw a Super Bowl halftime show where the performer went into the audience during a party-anthem to engage with his or her fans? Despite social media’s unique ability to demonize anything for the sake of demonizing it, Timberlake’s performance was engaging, indicative of immense talent and all-around fun. To anyone that disagrees with me… Cry me a river.

Courtesy Gage Skidmore

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North Texas Daily 2/8/2018  
North Texas Daily 2/8/2018