Osprey fall 2018

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HSU FOOTBALL EXPOSED The university's failed efforts to keep the program alive

Made in Moldova

HSU track star's humble beginnings

Whip-it Epidemic Nitrous oxide abuse in Humboldt County

Bat Woman A grad student's research on a rare species



Editor's Letter and Osprey Staff


Made in Moldova


Bat Woman


HSU Football Exposed


The Contagious Whippit


Midterm Elections


Humboldt Born Cass Bell Triumps in the Octagon


Connecting Back to Nature

editor@ospreymagazine.com Osprey Magazine c/o Department of Journalism and Mass Communication 1 Harpst Street, Arcata, CA 95521 On the Cover: Demtrick Watts shows his muscles in a photo shoot in Eureka on Nov. 7, by Matt Shiffler








Editor’s Letter With Humboldt State’s football program cut this year, I find it disheartening that some incredible athletes are leaving this university. The front cover of the magazine reveals the muscularly defined, adroit player Demetrick Watts, who represents the athletes who have to leave the program with an uncertain future. The 94-year-old football program was enriched with generations of tradition that students, faculty, alumni and the surrounding communities would come together to celebrate. The fall 2018 issue of Osprey is reflective of the same grit and tenacity of HSU athletes. But the magazine is more than just the athletes, it’s about community hardship, struggling for race equity, new scientific discoveries, and more. To our readers, thank you for your support and enjoy this edition of the magazine!


thleticism is empowering. I’ve been a track athlete over half my life, eleven years and counting; nothing else gives me that intense, pumping adrenaline feeling of standing on the starting line. I couldn’t imagine my college experience without being a part of the athletics at HSU.


Erin Chessin Editor-in-Chief Layout Editor


Walter Hackett Copy Editor

Abby LeForge Contributor

Matt Shiffler Photo Editor

Lora Neshovska Contributor

Ameera Foster Contributor

Alexis Parra Contributor

Special thanks to Raymond Garcia Mark McKenna Lauren Shea Kiera Price Contributor

Victoria Sama Faculty Adviser


Side Views

Tatiana Gillick watches the sunset at Trinidad State Beach on Sept. 18.


Photo by Erin Chessin

Made in

Moldova By Erin Chessin

The story of an orphan who became a national-caliber distance runner


Photo by Joshua McKinney


atiana Gillick is on the start line at Portland Twilight for the women’s 1,500 meter race. It is her last chance to qualify for the Division II NCAA Track and Field National Championships. All she has to do is run two seconds faster than her season’s best. Gillick shakes out her legs and takes a deep breath. The gun fires, and she is out in front leading 20 or so women. “I was definitely nervous,” Gillick said. “Seeing such a huge field I knew there were going to be lots of fast people in the race.” Gillick is an HSU track athlete in her last year, born in a country where it is uncommon for women to participate in sports. She was tenth in the nation in track and one of HSU’s top female distance runners in cross country. “If I wasn’t adopted, I would have never ran cross or track,” Gillick said. Sue and Chuck Gillick adopted their daughter in March 2000 when she was three and a half years old from an orphanage in Chișinău, Moldova, the capital of an Eastern European country located between Romania and Ukraine. “We didn’t even know where Moldova was,” her father Chuck Gillick said. “We had never been there before, we had to look it up on a map”

From the Gun OSPREY | 8

Tatiana Gillick runs the 1,500 meters at San Francisco Distance Carnival on March 30.

Moldova is the poorest country in Europe and a primary source for trafficking of women and children, according to the United Nations Development Programme. Tati says she was never victim to such a horror, but she might have been, had she

Showing Support

Gillick’s parents come watch their daughter run at Bronco Invite in Sunnyvale, California on Oct. 13.

Photo by Erin Chessin

stayed. They found Tati through an international adoption agency in Phoenix, Arizona, two hours from Flagstaff where the Gillicks live today. They knew little about her, not even the name of her birth parents. “You never know what you’re going to get,” her mother Sue Gillick said. “You get some photos, their age, their birthday. You get basic details.” On their first trip to Moldova, they went to the orphanage to meet Tati for the first time. “She was finishing her lunch,” her mother said. “It was like a preschool, kids were sitting around a table and having lunch together. We brought her a stuffed animal. She was open and friendly, and I think she really enjoyed having attention.” Tati did not speak English so an interpreter was present during the brief visit. “We only got to hang out with her for a couple of hours, take some photos, play,” Gillick said. Three weeks later, the couple made their second trip to Moldova and brought her a toy and new clothes to wear. She had no belongings, no clothes to pack.

First Thanksgiving

Gillicks take a family photo on Nov. 23, 2000, nine months after the adoption. | Photo provided by Chuck Gillick


“When we picked up Tatiana, these kids don’t come with anything,” Sue Gillick said. “Their clothes stay with the orphanage. Nothing comes with her.” This time they left with their daughter as parents for the first time. “The whole process is really a leap of faith on both sides, even though you know the kids don't think of it that way,” Chuck Gillick said. “But we’re total strangers to this child and we don't know what we're getting into.” Gillick’s parents say she adjusted well to the new home life in the U.S. “She had times where she was sad and cried,” Sue Gillick said. “She was confused at times, but she was happy to be with us. It was obvious she understood us pretty well, and she started using words in English.” The parents describe their daughter as an easygoing, happy-go-lucky kid. She played youth soccer throughout her childhood. She loved to be active, but she was petite, underdeveloped and visibly struggled in sports. “Her strength was like that of a two-year-old,” Sue Gillick said. “Physically she was behind a couple years in development, but she loved to play, loved the outdoors. It probably took six years before she started showing real athletic ability. Then she started getting fast, and good at sports.” Gillick towers over her teammates at 5’10. She doesn’t lifts weights, yet naturally her upper body is robust. Standing in a sports bra and running shorts at practice, her six-pack abs bare her muscular definition. “I don’t know where I would have been if I was still in Moldova, definitely not playing sports,” Gillick said. “I showed no sign of athletic ability at all, even when I came to the U.S. I was weak, and had no athletic potential at first. It took a while for me to reach the level I am in athletics.” OSPREY | 10

Gillick showed promise in running after she won the junior varsity race at Peaks Invitational, her first cross country race. By the time she graduated, she was a three-time state champion in cross country, seven-time state champion in track, and was the school record holder in the 3,200 meters and 1,600 meters. She was the first girl to break a five-minutemile at the school. “I didn’t see myself going to college for running at first, no way,” Gillick said. “Not until I realized I had potential, and that was towards the end of high school.” Jamie Shrader, 25, was Gillick’s teammate and friend at Flagstaff High. She went on to run for Northern Arizona University but the two have stayed in touch and talk every week. “Tati doesn’t tell too many people about her background,” Shrader said. “She questions a lot of things deep down inside, and that’s partly because there’s so much mystery. She doesn’t know who her biological parents are and wishes she knew who they were to understand what makes her Tati. She didn’t have anybody holding her, or loving her when she was a baby because she was in an orphanage. For whatever reason, the biological parents knew they wouldn’t be able to give her the best life, and that’s the way Tati sees it.” Shrader believes Gillick’s past is what gave her strength in running. “You could tell she was gonna go far in the sport,” Shrader said, “You can tell through the look of determination on her face when she races.” Former HSU track and cross country head coach Scott Pesch said he was excited Gillick committed to HSU with the potential to do well in a range of distances. “We learned pretty quickly that she could run a quarter-mile up to a 6k in cross country pretty effectively,” Pesch said. “She really excelled in the 1,500 and she could run a pretty good 800 too.”

Gold Medal

Gillick in the 1,500 meter final at the CCAA Conference Championships in Chico, California on May 5, 2017.

OSPREY | 11 Photo by Alex Johnson

In 2014, Gillick started her freshman year at HSU as one of the top women on the cross country team. She won Humboldt Invite, her first cross country race in college. Then at her first track meet she ran 2:13.74 in the 800 meters, the seventh fastest time in school history. “I had no expectations going into it, I just treated it like a 400 and ended up getting fourth,” Gillick said. “Then I think everyone freaked out because I just dropped ten seconds off my PR.” Pesch said Gillick had a lot of success in every distance she attempted. “She never said no to a workout,” Pesch said. “Every year she was there she was able to build on her talent and she understood everything took time and it was a process.” Gillick just missed qualifying to the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships her freshman year. Her sophomore year she fractured her foot before the start of the season, a setback that forced her to redshirt that fall. In her junior year, she qualified to the NCAA Division II Track and Field Championships in the 1,500 meters. She placed tenth in the nation by running 4:29.47, which put her third in HSU history behind Kori Gilley (2015) and Denise Walker (1993). Pesch said he remembers the pre-race anxiety Gillick would feel before races. “It’s really tough to be Tatiana,” Pesch said. “She gets very nervous. Sometimes that can flip someone OSPREY | 12

Photo by Erin Chessin


Gillick holds her regional medal from a box of awards in the room of her apartment on Sept. 23.

upside down. I think over the years she’s matured and mastered that better after going to nationals and beating that anxiety.” Gillick would get so nervous, she would get sick. In her second year of cross country, Gillick was competing at Roy Griak Invitational in Minnesota. She threw up right before time to get on the start

from a different place in life.”

"You could tell she was going to go far in the sport." line. It became a recurring pre-race ordeal. “A lot of times I’m nervous shaking or heavy breathing,” Gillick said. “I try to hide it because I don’t want people to know I’m nervous, and I try to be composed and cope with it, but I realize that’s impossible.” HSU track and field head coach Sarah Ingram watched Gillick run the 1,500 meters at track nationals. “She’s on the infield trying to get ready for the race and she’s hunched over, dry-heaving like she’s about to vomit,” Ingram said. “It was her nerves going through the roof, and that was characteristic of Tati.” Gillick went to Ingram when she needed to get things off her chest. “She always knows how to say the right words,” Gillick said."

Gillick said Pesch was like another father-figure in her life. She confided in Pesch when she started to feel overwhelmed watching her grades slip, as the course load started to mentally take its toll and affect her at practice. In her freshman and sophomore years she found herself feeling waves of depression. “He made me feel so welcome,” Gillick said. “He had such a positive energy. If I was stressed which happened a lot, he knew it. His support made a such difference throughout my college career.” Pesch announced his retirement in June 2017, after seven years at HSU. Gillick said at the time she couldn’t imagine being coached by anyone else. “It was really sad going to nationals with him and a great group of people and then I find out he’s not going to be my coach anymore,” Gillick said. “It was heartbreaking.” Jamey Harris was coaching cross country and track at University of California, Santa Cruz when Pesch called to offer him the position at HSU. Harris was hired to replace Pesch. “It was one of the places I had always dreamed of coaching,” Harris said. Gillick was hesitant about Harris. “Truthfully I was not on board with this new coach at first,” Gillick said. “I’m not somebody that opens up to someone right off the bat.”

Gillick’s former teammate Mia Owens is now an HSU assistant coach for cross country. Owens was adopted when she was six months old from China, and the two connected on being adopted.

Harris competed at the international level in his days as a professional runner for Reebok. He placed first in the 1,500 meters at the 1998 USA Championships and competed at the 1996 and 2000 Olympic trials.

“We’ve definitely bonded over it because we can tell each other stuff about being adopted that people wouldn't really understand,” Owens said. “You tend to have a different perspective of things coming

“Jamey knows what he’s talking about,” Gillick said. “Over the period of that first season with him, I became to trust him more and actually accepted his knowledge and him as my coach.” OSPREY | 13

400 meters away from the finish line when he saw Gillick run by. Twenty or so people were in front of her, including her teammate, HSU senior Annie Roberts. “I could see the look in her eyes change from a look of suffering to a look of determination,” Harris said. “I could see her steal herself for one last push for the finish.” Gillick crossed the line at 21:30, placing eighth overall in the West region. She just made it into nationals. “Somebody informed me that she passed a bunch of people at the finish,” Harris said. “After looking at individual times and counting all the teams we were confident she was in.” Two weeks later at the NCAA DII Cross Country Championships, Gillick placed 79th overall. Harris said Gillick ran a great race despite the mishap that occurred shortly after the gun went off.

Missing Shoe Gillick kicks it to the finish in one shoe

at the NCAA Championships on Nov. 18, 2017. | Photo provided by Andrew Goetz

Every Wednesday and Saturday is a hard workout day for Gillick. The other days are reserved for recovery and base mileage. Rain or shine, Gillick is accustomed to mile repeats at the Arcata Marsh, 1,000 kilometer repeats on the grass field next to HealthSport in Arcata, weekly ten-mile runs every Sunday and then seeing the athletic trainers after all of it to recieve treatment for ongoing injuries. At the 2017 NCAA West Regional Championships in Monmouth, Oregon in mid-November, Gillick knew she had to be one of the top ten finishers to be a contender for nationals. Coach Harris devised a game plan for her to run a conservative first mile and hold on the next two miles. He was standing OSPREY | 14

“You’ve been preparing for biggest race of season and possibly the biggest race of life and then your shoe comes off,” Harris said. Gillick said within the first half mile of the race, another runner stepped on her left heel causing her shoe to fall off. Harris was impressed with how Gillick responded. “She kept racing, she never gave up,” Harris said. “She kept battling, she kept fighting and that was great to see. I actually didn't notice her shoe was missing until halfway through the race.” “He earned my trust and respect after that season,” Gillick said. Gillick had a successful year. She earned a gold medal at conference championships in the 1,500 meters. She went to nationals in track, then cross country. Her fastest times in the 800 and 1,500 meters and 5,000 kilometers are on HSU’s All-Time Top Ten list for track and field.

With one track season left, Gillick wanted to be an All-American, which meant top eight in the country. “It’s hard to repeat what you did the year before,” Gillick said. Gillick thought if she had been to nationals before, she could do it again. But throughout the season, she was unable to hit the marks needed. It came down to Portland Twilight, a last-chance meet for track and field athletes to get into nationals. The start of the Twilight is chaotic with runners fighting to establish position. Gillick slips back and on the third lap, a few others pass her. Gillick hears Coach Harris shouting encouragements from the infield. With 200 meters to go, she lengthens her stride. The last 100 meters is a fight for every second. “There was a section that felt easy in the race and it should never feel easy,” Gillick said. “By the time I focused back in, it was too late.”

After crossing the finish line, Gillick stops to catch her breath. She sees her time appear on the scoreboard and steps off the track. Tears stream down her face as she gathers her warm-up clothes on the infield. Her college track career is over. “I didn’t run fast enough,” Gillick said. “I was devastated. I felt defeated. I knew my track season had come to an end.” On a sunny afternoon in mid-October, Gillick is sitting the bleachers at Redwood Bowl. She recalls waking up that morning feeling confident but leaving Oregon feeling defeated. “It came down to milliseconds,” Gillick said. “It pissed me off that had I took more of a lead from the beginning and risked it all, had I just went for it and ran the risk of dying, maybe I would have gotten it.” Gillick says the hardest part about being a competitive runner is accepting the bad races.

Laced Up Gillick tightens her

spikes on the track at Redwood Bowl on Oct. 24.


Photo by Erin Chessin


“I have always had these high expectations for myself, and I think that comes from my past, not feeling good enough,” she said. “It took me a few months to mentally recuperate after not ending my track season the way I hoped,” she said. “But failure is a negative mentality and I try to look at it more positively by using that failure to make me hungry for my last season of cross.” Gillick said her teammates push her in workouts and races this cross country season. The first HSU girl to cross the finish line trades off between Gillick and sophomores Kaylee Thompson and Cessair McKinney. At Humboldt Invite, it was Thompson. McKinney was the top woman at Willamette Invitational in Salem, Oregon. Then at Bronco Invite in Sunnyvale, California, Gillick and Thompson finished 6th and 7th overall within the same millisecond of each other at 21:56.9. “When we see each other struggling during races, we tap each other on the butt,” Gillick said. “We get in our heads in the race and that tap on the butt is a little reminder to wake up and run and that we’re here for each other.” Gillick said the team culture is what she will miss most from collegiate running. Her eyes flood talking about graduating. “I’m really bad with goodbyes,” Gillick said. “This team has a lot of heart and every individual has such great goals and aspirations for themselves, and that’s great to see. I want that for them.” Gillick will compete at the NCAA West Regional Championships in Billings, Montana on Nov. 17. A laminated map of the race course she has held onto since freshman year hangs in her apartment living room. She visualizes the course to exercise positive race mentality. “It’s my last race, I can’t get too nervous or anxious for it,” Gillick said. “I’m just going to run hard and believe in myself. I run for my team, the closer I get to be one of the top finishers the better our team does. Every spot counts, I want to be the best I can be that day for my team.” At Dusk

Gillick runs at Trinidad State Beach on Sept. 14. Photo by Erin Chessin

Her pre-race inspiration is a text from her dad, the same message before every race. “My dad always says ‘run fast, do good’" she says. “But he’s right.”


Bat Woman HSU grad student tracks the elusive hoary bat By Lora Neshovska


urrounded by sheer darkness at Humboldt Redwoods State Park, Skye Salganek treks through a rocky stream bed guided by the thin beam of her headlamp. She swats tree branches out of her way, arriving at a bat capture site she set up earlier that evening. Dressed in a wader with rubber boots, she steps in water up to her ankles and flashes her headlamp on five small bats entangled in a mesh net. She unravels each creature and places them in individual drawstring bags, which she tucks into her Zion National Park tee shirt to keep warm. “We mostly get myotis, but there are many hoaries that come through here,” she says. Salganek is working on her graduate thesis about hoary bats and their winter migration patterns. To track the the enigmatic six-inch flying mammals, she uses radio telemetry, or remote transmission equipment. Hoaries do not hibernate like most bats but instead migrate to warmer climates. Little is known about them, but Salganek hopes to discover a lot more. She attaches tiny bat “backpacks” in the form of very-high frequency, or VHF tags to hoary bats. The tags emit an FM frequency, just like a radio. After the bats are released, the tags can transmit signals to a receiver for up to two kilometers and can scope down a bat’s roosting location. The backpacks are small and light enough


Hoaries in Humboldt

Skye Salganek holds a hoary bat at Humboldt Redwoods State Park on Sept. 21.


Photo by Lora Neshovska

for the bats to carry and for the tags to stay attached up to seven months. Their battery life allows for a longer tracking time of the hoaries than the GPS tags used to. “The technology is finally advanced enough to where we can do this,” Salganek says. Ecologist Ted Weller of Redwood Science Lab oversees Salganek and a group of Humboldt State University student volunteers “batting” at Bull Creek every week, starting in mid-September. A creek bed by Mattole Road is the group’s first capture location for the season. To catch the highroosting bats, the team has set up mist nets across a gap in the dense redwood forest that bats use as an open air passageway and water source.

Salganek gives each bat a “health examination,” calling out the information to the recorder. “Ted, you take more data than anyone,” Salganek jokes with Weller. “Well, they are so precious to get into your hand,” Weller replies. “You might as well get all the information possible.” Weller graduated HSU in 2000 and has been studying bats in Humboldt County for more than 20 years as a practicing ecologist and researcher for the Redwood Science Lab. She is expanding on Weller’s hoary bat research and using new and improved tracking tags on the bats.

"It opened the door to studying these species I never thought about before"

Huddling the five captured bats, Salganek trudges through the water back to the processing table, where the team has set up their field supplies. Wearing black nitrile gloves, Salganek reaches into a drawstring bag to take out a squirming brown bat the size of her palm. The bat flaps its wings and bares its teeth and lets out a hisslike, clicking screech. “It’s a hoary!” she says. Salganek handles the agile bat gently and restrains it from moving by tucking its wings to its body. She wraps a strip of nylon panty hose around the small mammal’s body and wings and tucks in the ends to make a snuggly bat burrito. Then Salganek places it on a small scale to get an accurate measurement.

“Wow, 29.8 grams,” she says. “It’s probably a female.” Another volunteer scribbles the species name and weight of the bat. The team divides their tasks; this week, Salganek monitors the nets and processes the bats. In the first 15 minutes of twilight, the group captures nine bats, four of which are hoaries. OSPREY | 20

“He’s established so much information about this species,” Salganek says. “A lot of what we know is from his research.”

She first held a furry, flying mammal in her hand during her internship with Grand Canyon National Park in 2015. After she started as a wildlife intern to track large vultures, the park got funding for bat research. Salganek began working with bat and cave specialists to capture and classify species at the rim of the park. “It opened the door to studying these species I never thought about before,” she says. Salganek studied microbiology at Fort Lewis College in Colorado in 2009. Math, science and natural problem-solving intrigued her, so she minored in chemistry. It wasn’t until a couple months in, she realized her new career choice was keeping her from enjoying her main inspiration for her studies: the outdoors. Salganek grew up in New Mexico and remembers spending a lot of time hiking with her mother when she was a little girl. “A friend of mine got me to drop my microbiology

Spread Wings

Salganek stretches out the wings of a hoary bat to reveal a scar from past wing damage.

Photo by Lora Photo by Lora Neshovska Neshovska

class and take ornithology instead,” Salganek said. Salganek’s friend made her realize she didn’t want to spend her future doing lab work and would rather be outdoors. She switched majors and pursued environmental biology instead. “I didn’t really know this career path existed,” she said. Her impulsive decision to change classes had led to her to discover a whole new world of field research. Once she finished her undergraduate studies, Salganek began as an avian technician in the Missouri Department of Conservation. Then, she worked at the University of Montana as a research technician. Finally, she scored a wildlife internship at Grand Canyon National Park. She was entranced in outdoor wildlife research and moved from national park to park. From Arizona, to Utah, to Washington, she chased the next research opportunity to soak up experience, meet new people and venture outdoors. However, permanent positions in the National Park Service are highly competitive and naturally,

prioritize applicants holding a relevant master’s degree. Salganek said in order to keep up, she would need to temporarily revert to the indoors and go back to school for biology with wildlife focus. “I realized that if you lack the statistical background to find meaning in your data, you cannot be an effective manager,” she said. Salganek did an exchange program at Humboldt State as an undergraduate student for one year in 2014. She joined the cycling club and fell in love with the redwoods and would often skip class and ride all day. When Salganek returned for her master’s, however, she knew she had to focus on her work. She reached out to Joe Szewczak, an expert in the bat research community. Szewczak takes a sip of black coffee from a National Park Service mug. His office in the Science B building of Humboldt State is filled with bats; from posters and greeting cards on the walls, to an orange and OSPREY | 21


black bat pillow on his shelf. A biologist, physiologist and biological sciences professor at Humboldtv State, Szewczak is also Salganek’s graduate adviser. Internationally recognized in the bat community for his bat acoustics work, Szewczak is a significant guiding source for Salganek. “When I am choosing graduate students, I choose ones that are self-sufficient and resourceful.” Szewczak said. “Skye is incredibly ambitious with her work.” Years after holding her first bat at the Grand Canyon, Salganek spends her weekends at the Humboldt Redwoods State Park in the company of bats. Whenever she goes to capture, Salganek packs a spiral sketchpad palette of watercolor paints. She often paints her surrounding landscape, or depicts the animals she works with. “Watercolor is portable, it’s something you can put in a backpack with a little field notebook. It’s easy,” she says. At the end of capture season in midOctober, Salganek is finally able to compile, analyze and format her information to support her graduate thesis on hoary bats’ winter roosting locations. Even though she has to give up her life as a full-time outdoorswoman, Salganek feels she made the right decision going back to grad school. Her results, along with those of Weller and Szewczak form a fundamental understanding of hoary bats’ migration and behavior, a crucial step in understand and managing the species. Acoustic Aqua Color

Salganek always packs along a notepad and a palette of watercolors for weekends of wildlife field work.

“It’s easy to be afraid of things we don’t understand,” Szewczak says. “The more we understand, the more we can dispel our fear of the unknown.”

Art by Skye Salgnek


HSU Football

Exposed The university's failed efforts to keep the program alive OSPREYHackett | 24 By Walter

At Dawn

Redwood Bowl on Sept. 29. Photo by Walter Hackett


Photo by Walter Hackett

Redwood Blitz Demetrick Watts (#5) blitzes through the line during a game against Western Oregon at Redwood Bowl on Oct. 20.


loodlights shine on Redwood Bowl during the second quarter of the Lumberjack homecoming football game. At the Lumberjack 30-yard line, the jersey of Humboldt State University middle linebacker Demetrick Watts is untucked in the front, revealing his chiseled core. Blood drips from an exposed gash, easily three inches long, on his right forearm. His green and black cleats anchor him to the turf directly across from his rival, the Simon Fraser quarterback. The center for Simon Fraser snaps the ball and Watts blitzes forward. He splits a diminishing gap between two large Simon Fraser linemen and slams the quarterback to the ground for a sack. Watts bounces off the ground, parades a few steps toward the home sideline and flexes his powerful arm muscles in a pose that electrifies the crowd. “My goal is to make it to the league,” Watts says. “Everything happens for a reason.” Division II football is dying in California. Humboldt State University’s program, which was created in OSPREY | 26

1924, is the latest to fall. According to HSU Athletics, Cal State East Bay, San Francisco State, Sonoma State and Chico State all eliminated their DII football programs in the mid-90s. After this season, Azusa Pacific, a private school, will be the only DII team left in the state. President Lisa Rossbacher announced in a July press release that the HSU program would be axed. “Sadly, and despite a tremendous fund drive effort, we found that football cannot be sustained through student fees and community giving,” Rossbacher wrote. "At the same time, the university cannot continue to subsidize budget deficits in athletics without threatening our academic programs.” Watts doesn’t know what’s next but like the 75 other players on HSU’s football team, he’s played the game since he was a little kid and doesn’t want to stop now. At two years old, he remembers watching Raiders games with his father. His dad played nose tackle for Sonoma State. “My pops played football, and I was always going to

be a football player,” Watts says. It wasn’t long before he was playing. Around the age of five, the older Watts encouraged him to establish workout regimens where he would compete with his older brother, four years his senior. Occasionally, Watts would outperform his older brother in push up competitions. “At first I liked them,” Watts says. “But then I thought, do we have to do these every day?” Watts grew up in the Inland Empire: Ontario, Rialto, and San Bernardino. Worried the boys would fall in with the wrong crowd, his father moved them to Riverside. “San Bernardino isn’t very nice,” Watts says. “There were a lot of gangs. A lot of the people I played little league football with ended up in gangs. It taught me a lot. I wasn’t focused on that type of stuff.” Watts is a man of faith. During the Jacks first game against Western Oregon this season, he’s returning to the sideline after mounting a defensive stop. He prys off his helmet revealing a white bandana with the word “blessed” printed on the front in large black letters. A few bible verses are visible in smaller print: Psalms 27:1, Romans 5:3-4. The bandana is a tribute to his father and to God. When Watts was a 14-year-old high school freshman, his father died from a blood clot in his leg. He was 40 years old and spent a month in the hospital under intensive care before the end. “God finally called him home,” Watts says. Touchdown

Demetrick Watts celebrates a Lumberjack score during the Simon Fraser game on Oct. 6.

OSPREY | 27 Photo by Walter Hackett

Afterward, Watts says he thought about quitting football but came to realize what his dad would've wanted. “My pops, he made me believe,” Watts says. “If I don’t give everything I have, I’m letting my pops and God down. Football made me fearless.” After the death, he moved in with his “granny” Barbara Newman whom he credits for being a stabilizing force in his life. “That’s my rock,” Watts says. “I love her with all my heart. She’s my everything.” His grandmother Barbara Newman says she noticed football was different for her grandson after his dad died. “Sometimes I wonder why he was taken away, and then I see the man Demetrick has become,” Newman said. “Oh my god, football, it's life. It's everything. Losing his dad gave him more of a drive. Even though his dad is not here, I think he would give his heart in saying ‘dad, you're not here, but I'm able to be successful and it's all because of you.’” Last year, following the 2017 football season in front of a crowd of players, coaches and boosters, President Rossbacher announced that HSU would continue its football program thanks to financial support from alumni and boosters who committed half a million dollars each year for the next five years. “This is a good day for our football team, and a good day for Humboldt State,” Rossbacher said. "I’m so thankful for those who have stepped up to provide the financial resources to continue all our sports.” Wearing a green Lumberjack hat and jacket, longtime booster and HSU alumnus Jim Redd is making his way along the Lumberjack’s sideline in the third quarter of the homecoming game against Simon Fraser. He stops periodically to embrace players with an affectionate hug, a firm OSPREY | 28

Green and Gold

Lumberjack sideline during their game against Western Oregon on Oct. 20.

Photo by Walter Hackett


handshake, and a hearty pat on the shoulder pads. Redd led the fund drive to save the program. “It was unbelievable the way that everybody stepped up to raise that money,” Redd says. A month after Rossbacher’s announcement that the program would be preserved, head football coach Rob Smith resigned after being with the program for ten years. In a press conference at Baywood Golf and Country Club, Smith inferred that the university was underhandedly trying to destroy HSU football by bringing in Duncan Robins as the interim athletic director. “The third day on the job for the new athletic director, I met with him and he told me that he was brought in to drop the football program or scale it down to a non-competitive level,” Smith announced at the conference. Following Smith’s resignation Cory White, who served as the offensive line coach since 2015, was hired as the program’s interim head coach. After a month on the job, he resigned to take an assistant coaching position at the University of San Diego. Damaro Wheeler, who was the Jacks defensive backs and special teams coach, was next to fill the position. In May, HSU announced that it was halting its search to find a new coach and instead would stick with Wheeler through the 2018 season. Redd is sipping on his third cup of coffee in a maroon-cushioned booth at Kristina’s restaurant in Eureka. “They weren’t offering the candidates for the head coach a choice of assistants or a contract,” Redd says. “The hiring process was a joke.” It turned out that HSU football was saved, but only temporarily. Eight months after her initial announcement, Rossbacher said in a summer press conference that the team’s fund drive collected $329,000, and was $171,000 short of the half million dollars needed to keep the football program running for another year.


“I believe the fund drive demonstrates that this decision did not come quickly or lightly, as we considered many factors and evaluated various alternatives,” Rossbacher wrote in a memo. “Ultimately, we had to halt the growing budget deficits in athletics.” Redd says that after Smith resigned, raising money to save the program became more challenging. “It felt like the university was working against us,” Redd says. “People saw what was happening and pledges were backing out.” Redd is co-chair of the local advocacy group Save HSU Athletics, which made headlines for starting a petition to remove Robins. Redd blames Robins for botching the head coach hiring process and causing potential donors to lose faith in the program. “I don’t know if he was directed by the president, but he killed our drive,” Redd says. “The admin are turning their backs on student athletes.” Redd asserts that the university failed to report an accurate sum of funds that he helped to raise and says that far more than $329,000 was donated. “We had one pledge from the Great Northwest Athletic Conference for $80,000 but they didn’t report it,” Redd says. “It was received before Lisa made the announcement.” Even if the $80,000 was included in the final tally, the drive would be short $91,000 of the goal. Still, Redd believes that the university left the large pledge out of the report in order to lay blame on booster and community shortcomings. “We’re not at $329,000, we’re at $410,000,” Redd says. “It sounds better for them to say we only had $329,000, so the community didn’t do their part, and $410,000 is a lot closer.” Duncan Robins’ office in the kinesiology building is one of the loftiest perches on campus. The second floor room is spacious, neat and orderly with a large window that overlooks Redwood Bowl. Robins says

Gridiron Tradition

Program cover from HSU/Santa Clara University matchup in 1936.


that the university did collect the $80,000 pledge but it could not be collected until July which was after the fund drive deadline of June 30. “Unfortunately, this was still short of the $500K needed, and many months later than had originally been agreed to by the boosters and the president,” Robins says. According to Robins, investing in football has been tough for public universities since 2007 with state budget issues. “I wouldn’t say it was inevitable that our program was going to die off, but what made it extremely difficult was the increase in costs and drop in enrollment at the same time,” he says. “The athletics department is operating in its fourth year with a fiscal deficit.” Robins defends Rossbacher and says the university gave its best effort to help the community fund drive by extending the deadline for the final tally and decision day.

“The president was gracious enough to keep rolling the deadline back,” Robins says. “I made sure I was given an opportunity to save football. I wouldn’t have taken the job otherwise. President Rossbacher was sincere on matching funds raised.” Robins leans on his desk with his elbow and rests his chin on his hand. He says the university is doing what it can to help student athletes find other programs after this season. “We’ve asked coaches to create game tapes for the players with eligibility left,” Robins says. “I’d imagine we’ll be having a play day with scouts.” Former HSU football player Mike Cox is sitting alone 18 rows up on the home-side grandstands of Redwood Bowl, watching his son Connor practice with the Jacks on a September afternoon. He interlocks his fingers behind his head and leans back. Cox was inducted in the HSU football Hall of Fame in 2010 for his time as an offensive lineman in 1974 and ‘75 and says his family has been a part of Lumberjack athletics for three generations. His son

Red Zone Stop


Photo by Walter Hackett

Brett McMurray bites his lip at Redwood Bowl against Central Washington on Oct. 27.

Endless Pursuit

Demetrick Watts chases the Western Oregon quarterback Ty Currie at Redwood Bowl on Oct. 20. Photo by Walter Hackett

Connor is a senior captain linebacker who lines up shoulder to shoulder with Watts as anchors on the defense. “I played football here, my dad played football here, my son plays football here and my daughter played basketball here,” the elder Cox says. Cox says that he is disappointed by the university’s efforts to save the program, particularly when it came to filling the head coaching position. “I don’t want anything to do with the university after this experience,” Cox says. “I don’t even want to buy a raffle ticket.”

his teammates. They are laughing and posing for pictures. After losing their first four matchups, it finally feels like the team and the Lumberjack faithful have something to celebrate. “It feels good,” Watts says. “I keep telling the guys not to give up.” Two days after the team’s win against Simon Fraser, Watts, a redshirt sophomore, was recognized by the Great Northwest Athletic Conference as the Defensive Player of the Week. Watts posted an Instagram story that people can expect to see a lot more football accolades in the future. “This is just the beginning,” Watts wrote.

Fans and friends crowd around Watts on the field at homecoming following the team’s first win of the season. Watts has his arms wrapped around two of

Watts is splayed out face down on the floor of the Rec Center with his feet against a wall, where OSPREY | 33


he works. He stops stretching when a teammate approaches and asks for help. “Part of my job at the gym is asking players how they’re feeling, giving advice on workouts,” he says. “I started doing push ups when I was five. Guys look up to me for how I look and want to look like me.” Strength and conditioning coach Andrew Petersen is moving slowly around the gym. He stops in front of Watts and asks him to prepare a space for a women's volleyball team workout. Petersen, who has a grizzled grey beard and is built like a tank, emits a calm, commanding leadership. The coach has known Watts since he came into the football program as a redshirt freshman. “The way I watched him engage with kids and 65 year olds, we gotta hire this kid,” Petersen says. At a 6:30 a.m. practice, Petersen strides through the low fog looming above the 50 yard line at Redwood Bowl. Natural light sifts through the conifer wood that lies on the Bowl’s east side. Petersen is leading a stretching warm up session in front of the assembled football team. It’s a repetition he orchestrates at the beginning of every practice. Petersen has run the strength and conditioning program at the university since 1991. He says that despite the program ending, players are focused on winning this season. Silent Assassin

Demetrick Watts surveys Redwood Bowl field during the homecoming game against Simon Fraser on Oct. 6.

Photo by Walter Hackett

“These kids are resilient,” Petersen says. The day after the university announced it was ending the program, Petersen sent a text message to the team: “Come to the weightroom ready to work. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us, or take it easy on us this season. This is football.,

the toughest most brutally honest team sport you can play. Let’s continue our preparation for the amazing opportunity facing us in 2018. How do you want to be remembered? You guys might be expendable to the rest of the university, but you are not to me.” “Coach Petersen, he bleeds this,” Watts says. “He’s crushed by this.” Watts is reflecting on Petersen’s text message as he walks to class on a midSeptember morning. In the heavy days after the announcement, Watts says that Petersen’s message was exactly what the team needed to hear. “He lifted us up,” Watts says. Watts is in the grandstands in Forbes gym. He's quietly watching one of his roommates play basketball in his intramural league. Middle linebackers in football often have reputations of being the loudest, meanest and dirtiest players on the pitch. Watts is the opposite of those things. “I’m a silent assassin,” Watts says. “I let my play do the talking for me.” Coming off the heels of a 21-37 loss at Azusa Pacific, Brett McMurray, the Jacks linebacker coach, is sprinting from sideline to sideline during another 6:30 morning practice. His squad of linebackers, including Watts, is running behind him. The pom pom on top of McMurray’s green Lumberjack beanie is bounding wildly with each stride. “Complacency will kill this program!” he yells back to his guys. McMurray played linebacker for the Jacks in 2012 and 2013.


Photo by Walter Hackett

Brothers Victorious Teammates Ereon Nash, Demetrick Watts and Adam Herrera celebrate their win against Simon Fraser on Oct. 6.

“I have a lot of love for this place,” McMurray says as he returns to his office under Forbes gym. “It’s a place I’ve called home.” Outside McMurray’s office a name plate hangs next to the door on the wall but it is blank. McMurray joined the coaching staff in February, at the height of uncertainty for HSU football. “My job is to make sure the guys have the best experience we can give them,” McMurray says. “We can’t allow external factors to dictate our season. Any time you're in a situation where people don't believe in you, it's a great opportunity to prove them wrong. This is a valuable life lesson." McMurray reclines in his office chair and proudly says that his linebackers are the most talented position group on the team. “Watts has a drive to be great,” he says. “He’s a D1 OSPREY | 36

caliber athlete. He’s going to have a bright career. He’s been through a lot in life and you can tell in the way he approaches everything. He has all conference potential and with his continued efforts I hope he gets to experience that. It is not typical for sophomores to be playing at his level.” After the season, McMurray says he’s going to do his best to help his players transfer to other programs. “I’m going to help my guys find a home,” he says. “When you build relationships, you don’t want to leave guys high and dry. Watts and I share some pizza at Paul’s Live from New York Pizza in Arcata. He bows his head and closes his eyes before starting into his dinner. “Gotta say my blessings,” he says. “I believe in God. He is the reason why I have this talent.”

In a game two days earlier, the team lost to Western Oregon and Watts hyperextended his right knee. The injury caused him to miss out on potential tackles, which he needs to become the conference leader in tackles. With a few games left in the season, the Jacks sophomore is averaging eight tackles a game; the league leader is a senior averaging one more. Watts promises his knee will be healthy for the next game.

He plans to be in another program for spring so that he’ll be settled before the next season kicks off in the fall. He’s confident that he can play Division I ball at another program, maybe Sacramento State. He ideally wants to play for the University of San Diego, following the footsteps of Coach White.

“I’m currently second in the conference in tackles,” Watts says. “I’ll be good for Saturday.”

Watts’ grandmother says uncertainty of the future won’t stop her grandson. She says the challenges he has faced this season are more hurdles that he will overcome.

Watts finishes up his second slice of four-meat special while squinting up at Monday Night Football on the TV. Then he tidies up the table. His coaches want him to put on more weight and pressure him to eat more. The linebacker is 5’11, which is considered small for his position. He says that his high school coach taught him a trick to make him appear taller for scouts. “My coach told me to stuff socks in my shoes,” Watts says.

"He's not so disappointed about the program ending that he's giving up on his dream."

There’s a good chance that Watts will be at a different school in only a few months. Under the NCAA’s basic transfer requirements, players must spend an academic year in residence at the school of which they are transferring before they can compete at their new school. According to HSU Athletics, players this season will get a full release waiver, which means that athletes can play for another program the very next season.

At the end of November, coaches haven’t yet discussed Watts’ options when the season ends, but it’s something he’s considered.

“That’d be the perfect school,” Watts says.

“He’s not so disappointed about the program ending that he’s giving up on his dreams,” Newman says. “He doesn’t know where he’s going to go. My prayers are that the coaches give him direction on where he should go.” Watts has been in contact with White about the possibility of joining him in San Diego. His only concern is that his grades aren’t good enough. “My grades are decent,” Watts says. “It’s hard to focus on school when my heart and soul are in football.” “If he’s going to be a football player, I want him to focus on academics so he’ll have the knowledge to manage himself and be a more educated citizen,” his grandmother says. “He hasn’t run after the girls. He surrounds himself with the right people. He’s made good choices so far. He says, ‘I gotta do what I gotta do to be that football star for my granny.’” Watts is in the locker room at Redwood Bowl getting a haircut from his teammate Jose “Pepe” Morales during the last week of the season. He yawns and says he just crushed a two hour workout at the gym. He goes the hardest in the weight room when he’s stressed. The Lumberjacks finished their last year with a record of two wins and eight losses. “I’m tired of losing,” Watts says. “I’ve made lifelong friends here and I don’t regret anything, but I’m ready to move on to the next chapter.”

“Things will happen fast afterward,” Watts says.


94 Years of First intercollegiate game played against Southern Oregon.

117 Humboldt County businesses agree to underwrite the cost of the season’s football schedule. Each business agreed to pay any deficit to the extent of $5 each if the expenses of the 1929 football schedule exceeds the income made from the program.


Humboldt State establishes a paid athletic equipment manager position at 35 cents an hour.

First team created at Humboldt State Teachers College. For the first years the team played local high school teams.

Student body vote held to determine whether football should be abolished for two years due to isolation and a belief that football was costing too much. Students voted 116 to 74 to continue the program without taking a break.

First winning season ever recorded for Humboldt State football team.

Team dropped from school athletics during the World War II era as a number of players entered the service, leaving an already small male student population practically depleted.

First game played at recently built Redwood Bowl stadium against the Stanford “B” team.


HSU Football by Walter Hackett With a declining attendance, an injury-riddled roster, and student support of the team at a low point the Board of Athletics cancel the last game of the season.

Rob Smith hired as HSU head football coach.


HSU Football program wins its first GNAC conference title.

January 23 - Rob Smith resigns as HSU head football coach.

Lisa Rossbacher hired as HSU President.

January 29 - Cory White names as HSU interim football head coach. HSU Football program wins its second GNAC conference title under head coach Rob Smith.


February 14 - Cory White resigns and takes an assistant coaching position at University of San Diego. February 14 - Damaro Wheeler accepts HSU interim football head coach position.

June 1 - Duncan Robins hired as interim athletic director. December 5 - President Rossbacher announces that HSU will continue its football program through a fund drive led by HSU boosters.

April 9 - HSU releases its 2018-19 budget that reduces $9 million in spending over the next two years. May 4 - Duncan Robins announces halt to the search to fill the head coach position. Wheeler stays as coach for the 2018 season. July 17 - President Rossbacher announces that HSU football with be discontinued after the 2018 season due to shortfalls in the fund drive.

Conference Championships Year Conference 1946 1952 1956 1960 1961 1963 1968 1994 1995 2011 2015



Overall Record 5-3-1 7-1 9-2 11 - 1 8-2 6- 1 -2 10 - 1 8-2 8-1-1 9-1 10 - 2

October 1 - President Rossbacher announces her retirement will take place at the end of the academic year. November 10 - Last HSU football game against Simon Fraser from Burnaby, British Columbia.

Total number of Titles: 11


The Contagious Whippit Nitrous abuse impacts Arcata and surrounding communities Story and Photos by Abby LeForge

Used Cartridges Fowler holds a few used whippits at the Arcata Plaza on Sept. 30.OSPREY | 40


Devon Fowler OSPREY | 42

Outside of Arcata Speed Wash on F and 11th Streets.


evon Fowler, 39, is outside of Toby and Jack’s Bar selling gold, silver and bronze-coated marijuana nug charms. The necklaces, much like Fowler, travelled across the country to make their way to Arcata. Born in Brooklyn, Fowler spent 20 years in Nashville then traveled west to Humboldt selling mattresses and boxsprings out of his van. He now works as a videographer, makes music and tours with a hip hop and rap band. Going back and forth from coast to coast, Fowler recalls exploration and substance abuse back in the day with his friends. “We had a great time that nobody can remember,” he said. Fowler said he and his friends would pay $100

to $150 to fill tanks with 20 or 50 gallons of nitrous oxide. They would fill thick balloons with the gas and inhale or “huff ” to get high. Another way that has become popular to inhale nitrous is by using individual capsules or “whippits,” named for the cartridges in whipped cream cans. “It’s like your face is melting and all you can hear is the womp womp womp womp,” Fowler said. “I seen one friend pass out into the TV.” Nitrous is the same gas used in dentists offices as an anesthetic. Fowler no longer inhales nitrous or what he calls “nas.” He said that it slows him down too much and makes him dizzy. He said some people drool and their voices get crazy deep. After a summer of taking whippits, he quit.


Full Set Used whippits on the kitchen floor of an Arcata apartment on Oct. 25.


“You’re thinking like, what is this really doing to my brain cells,” he said. Outside of Mad River Community Hospital, Kelly Scott stands behind an ambulance with the members of her crew, waiting for a call that someone needs help. Scott has been working as an emergency medical technician in Humboldt County for 25 years. On average, she gets a call related to whippits once every six months. “People crash cars driving while taking them,” she said. “It was very obvious with a fatal in Trinidad.” Scott said that people can pass out when taking a whippit because of a hypoxic event, when all of the oxygen in the body’s system is removed. This can cause seizures or can cause people to lose consciousness. “Passing out is your body’s way of saying it has had enough,” she said. Scott has noticed that whippits or nitrous oxide use has gained popularity over time. She has worked at festivals for many years, and says in 2004, there was hardly any nitrous use at all, but by 2007, almost every tent had a canister outside. And festival-goers are not the only ones abusing nitrous. “It’s different groups and different people who go for it,” Scott said. Scott said she had an emergency call where a husband was upset because his wife is addicted and actively abusing nitrous. Upon arrival at the scene, they found the wife coherent enough to refuse treatment. Scott said it was obvious that she was abusing, but they could do nothing. She said that the police don’t get involved because collecting evidence is difficult. “In Humboldt County it’s hard to arrest anyone for anything,” Scott said. Health officials aren’t the only ones noticing an increase in whippit activity. Brent Smith, 25, lives in Mckinleyville. When he was growing up he rode his OSPREY | 45

bike to school every day until he was 16 years old, but now feels unsafe allowing his nieces to do so. He said that Mckinleyville crime rate is as bad now as Eureka was five years ago. Although he says he has never tried it, Smith has witnessed abuse in recent years. “I’ve seen people’s houses where the floor was just covered in whippits,” Smith said. “I’ve seen people do them and they just go back to back to back.” Smith works at J and M towing, and one of his duties is to clean out the cars when the yard gets possession. He said he finds hypodermic needles in half of the cars, and a couple of cars have whippits. “I did a wreck on Clam Beach where a guy crashed his car doing them,” Smith said. He says he sees people driving around town and dropping whippits out the window one by one. J and M is an affiliate of the California Highway Patrol, which means it is police certified to tow cars. Smith said that it is hard for the police to crack down on whippits because there is already so much crime in the area, and the jails are filled up. “Cops have bigger priorities,” he said.

Under the OSPREY register | 46

Whippits for sale at Express Smoke on H and 10th Streets in Arcata on Sept. 10.

Some Arcata and Eureka businesses feel responsible to enforce the law on their own. Tami Gruetzmacher, manager at Smart Foodservice Warehouse on highway 101, was at work one day when a customer came in and purchased a box of whip cream chargers. She said the customer left the store, got in their car out front and began taking whippits right there at the steering wheel. “That’s when I said enough,” she said. Gruetzmacher made a policy that in order to purchase the whip cream chargers, customers are required to show a business license. She locks the canisters in a case behind the counter next to objects such as sharp cooking knives. There is even a note taped to the glass stating the policy. “There’s no law against selling them,” she said. “But here there is.” Gruetzmacher said before the policy was in place, she would frequently find empty cartridges all over the parking lot and behind the store. And she is not the only one who has been forced to make policies in order to prevent whippit abuse.

Cedric Pearl is the owner of Plaza Cab Arcata. He and several of his drivers see people taking whippits in the back of the cab. In the chaos of a Saturday night with the radio on and other drivers communicating, he says it can be hard for drivers to monitor everything that happens in the car. “Within the last year it has gotten crazy popular,” Pearl said. “I will say that most people who use them aren’t like coke-heads or meth-heads. Most of them are good guys. They’re all pretty cool.” Since then, Pearl says there is a zero tolerance policy for whippits in any Plaza Cab. Still, on busy Saturday nights, people are looking to buy whippits. “It’s not like they were doing cocaine or anything,” Pearl said, “I guess I never really thought about them as being illegal.” In February 2017, California Senator Jim Nielsen proposed senate bill 631 which would put restrictions on who can legally sell whippits. The bill would ban any smoke shop or business that gets more than 50 percent of its revenues from tobacco or tobaccosmoking related products from selling nitrous oxide

Tami Grutzmacher

Manager at Smart Foodservice warehouse stands outside of work on Oct. 25. She made the policy that requires a business license to purchase whippits.


The Setup


Used whippits on the floor of an Arcata apartment on Oct. 25.

or whippits. But without enough votes, the bill died. Legislative Director Colin Sueyres is with the senator’s Sacramento office said the state must do something to address the sale of whippits. “The state of California looks the other way either because of constitutional issues or enforcement,” he said. With the bill’s failure, California smoke shops, such as Arcata’s Express Smoke Shop, are able to sell nitrous oxide, balloons and crackers. Jeremy McGue, 28, has been working at the shop for 10 months. “I have regular whippit users who come in multiple times a night,” he said. McGue says he sells about a dozen boxes a night, worth up to $500. He said that typically people buy multiple boxes until the store closes at 2 a.m.

"It's really easy to hide. There's no smell and it's quick."

“The most I’ve sold to one person in one night was about 10 boxes, and that has to be 500 whippits,” McGue said. “I’ve literally heard the words, ‘that’s not my brand,’ which is concerning to me because they use them enough to have a preference.”

The balloons, crackers and nitrous cartridges are exactly the type of evidence Arcata Police Officer Heidi Groszmann is looking for when she gets calls on suspicious activity of people assumed to be abusing whippits. She said that someone can be arrested for possession, but they usually must also have a cracker and or balloon. “Unless you catch someone in the act of doing it, it’s very hard to prove what’s going on,” she said. Groszmann said that part of the appeal of nitrous is that it is hard to detect. “It’s really easy to hide, there’s no smell and it's quick,” she said. Arrests do happen though. In September, Groszmann arrested a suspect using whippits in the alley behind the bars in Arcata. “They were actively using as I walked up on it,” she said. In Groszmann's 13 years at the Arcata Police Department, she has made three whippit-related arrests. “What it really boils down to is you have to prove they are using or have the intent to use it and inhale,” she said.

Express Smoke sells two brands of whippit cartridges: Nitro and Best Whip. They also sell two types of “crackers” or devices to expel the chemicals inside the nitrous cartridges. One is designed to hold the air, like the whipped cream dispensers at a coffee shop. These are rarely stocked and sell quickly. The others are small cylinder metal devices about three inches long. Two halves twist apart, a whippit is inserted and the two halves twist back together. A balloon can be used to hold the gas released from one end and then inhaled by the user.

Groszmann is aware that locations in Arcata are selling whippits.

“They are never coming in to buy balloons for anything other than whippits,” he said.

“Anything that’s man made ain’t no fucking good, especially if it’s being abused.” he said.

“You know that they sell boxes of them, the 50 packs?” she said. Her primary concern is how popular it is among high school and college kids. “It’s really bad for the brain,” she said. Devon Fowler would agree.


YOUR OSPREY GUIDE TO Compiled by Osprey Staff




Governor: Gavin Newsom

% of Arcata voters said

no to Measure M, which means the McKinley statue will be removed from the plaza.

Lieutenant Governor: Eleni Kounalakis U.S. Senator: Dianne Feinstein U.S. District Two House: Jared Huffman Attorney General: Xavier Becerra

Rem ov e

District Two State Senator: Mike McGuire



Prop 1 (Housing Programs and Veteran's Bond): Passed

% of Humboldt County

voters said yes to Measure K, which prohibits local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration officials.

Prop 2 (Millionaire’s Tax Revenue for Homelessness): Passed Prop 3 (Water Infrastucture and Conservation Bond): Failed Prop 4 (Children’s Hospital Bond): Passed Prop 5 (Property Tax Transfer Initiative): Failed Prop 6 (Future Gas and Vehicle Tax): Failed Prop 7 (Permanent Daylight Savings): Passed Prop 8 (Limits on Dialysis Clinics): Failed

Sanctua ry

Prop 10 (Local Rent Control): Failed Prop 11 (Ambulance Employees Paid Breaks): Passed Prop 12 (Animal Confinement): Passed




U.S. House



Democrats gained 32 seats as of Nov. 10.



Michigan voted to legalize marijuana recreationally for those 21 and over.

Arkansas voted to increase minimum wage from $8.50 to $11 by 2021.

Florida voted to restore voting rights to felons, end dog racing, ban indoor vaping and offshore drilling.

Georgia voted to provide a tax exemption for people with mental disabilities.

Maryland voted to allow same day registration and immediate ballot casting for voters.

Massachusetts voted for gender identity rights that prohibit discrimination in public places.

Nevada voted to require electric utilities to acquire 50 percent of their electicity from renewable sources by 2030.

Washington voted to establish new law enforcement rules requiring police to receive de-escalation and mental health training.


Democrats - Republicans - Undecided

U.S. Senate

Republicans gained two seats as of Nov. 10.





Humboldt Born

Cass Bell

Triumphs in the Octagon


Photography by Matt Shiffler

Clockwise from left: Arcata’s favorite MMA fighter Cass Bell keeps his undefeated record after a match at the Bellator 206 at the SAP Center in San Jose on Sept. 29. Bell gets extra mitt training refining his strikes days before his fight. While waiting for other fighters to weighin, Bell takes the opportunity to take pictures, talk to fans and sign autographs. Bell hit his target weight of 135 and is eligible to compete in the bantamweight match against Ty Costa on the most talented card Bellator has ever made. When Bell was in 7th grade, he practiced and competed without his mom knowing.


Connecting Back to


HSU Students Reclaim Space in the Outdoors By Ameera Foster



ose Cabello leads a group of about 20 hikers single file through the Trillium Falls trail in Redwood National Park near Orick, California. It’s his first time leading a group of hikers on his own. On the cool September morning, he’s wearing a t-shirt, backpack and hiking boots. They’re moving swiftly, but Cabello stops at a bridge so that everyone can admire a waterfall. “A lot of the times when we’re outdoors we want to rush through it and we don’t really appreciate the scenery for what it is,” Cabello says. “So I just want to take a moment to be present.”


Jose Cabello on a hike at the Humboldt Redwoods State Park on Sept. 29 Photo by Matt Shiffler

Cabello is an HSU environmental studies major and co-president of Latino Outdoors, a club that brings students of color out in nature. Cabello says he is determined to break down unrealistic archetypes by creating spaces for every student to feel comfortable outdoors. Cabello does not fit the popular stereotype of an outdoorsman. These representations are often white-washed depictions of hypermasculinity and depict a western view of what it means to be in nature. “I always felt marginalized from a lot of spaces, just cause I’ve always been the bigger kid,” Cabello says. “I felt like a lot of spaces weren’t for me, athletic spaces. Just because I don’t see myself or my body type represented in these spaces doesn’t mean I don’t belong.” When Cabello was 20 he was introduced to the outdoors. His biology teacher at community college, in his hometown of Pomona, took the class on a camping trip to the Carrizo Plains. It was Cabello’s very first camping trip. “Before I came up here, I had a dream about a city surrounded by trees,” he says.

"I had a dream about a city surrounded by trees."

After the hike, Cabello makes his way to a retreat with MEchA, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (Chicano Student Movement of Aztlan), a national organization encouraging Latinx identifying young adults to pursue higher education. For the workshop, Cabello invited high school students who were visiting HSU to an outdoor educational experience called “Healing Through the Outdoors.” He waited for the students on Cypress lawn with hula hoops, footballs and other sports equipment.


Adventure in Orick Latino Outdoors on their hike at Trillium Falls on Sept. 23. Photo by Erika delos Reyes

“I told them that the outdoors doesn’t necessarily have to be hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, or some commercialized thing,” he says. “It can also be something like playing soccer with their friends or going to a picnic and having carne asada with their families.” While these activities are not always thought of as being out in nature in the western traditional sense, Cabello asserts, “those are our traditions.” Cabello says he shared with the high schoolers how the outdoors helped to shape him and he sees it as a form of healing.

"I still did it. I didn't want to give up." OSPREY | 56

“I was in your shoes. I was in high school,” he said. “I moved 12 hours away from home. Some of you are gonna go to HSU, some of you are gonna go far and wide for school, so if not the outdoors, just try to find a healthy way to deal with your mental health.” Cabello stands in front the of HSU’s Green and Gold room, the projector is queued behind him. This workshop is part of a week-long event, “Undocuweek of Awareness.” Cabello talks about reasons why undocumented people do not feel comfortable outdoors. He says people face

triggers in state parks. Rangers often ride in trucks that resemble immigration vehicles. He says his parents were undocumented when they first came to the U.S. before going through the citizenship process. “My mom still has that fear of the outdoors,” he says. “The boogyman or el cucuy, la llorona, those subliminal messages that are associated with the outdoors.” Over the summer Cabello worked with kids in Yellowstone National Park. Sometimes his job involved clearing and upkeep of the park’s trails. He says his coworkers were fit and used to hiking at higher elevations, up to 10,000 feet.

because we were from all over. I was the only one from California.” After lunch, they climbed back up the trail with all their gear and finished clearing the debris. When they finished the job, Cabello says that they saw a grizzly bear from afar. “It was my first time seeing a grizzly bear,” he says. “It was a good way to see one. You don’t want to be up close.” Cabello had good experiences, but he also says that he didn’t see himself represented in the parks service.

“Even though I struggled and at times it was hard for me to breath!” he laughs. “But you know, I still did it. I didn’t want to give up. I just wanted to prove to myself and probably to them too that I could still do it despite my size or my abilities. I’m still just as capable as anyone.”

“It’s hard for people of color who want to work for the parks service or do work for the parks service,” Cabello says. “They probably only end up staying for a season or two and they just can’t take it anymore. Similar to HSU or any area where you just get stared at for being a person of color.”

On his second day in Yellowstone, his group was asked to clear a trail. It had been raining and one of the trails was partially eroded. The group of 25 walked single-file along the trail for miles, each carrying 20 to 30 pounds. “We had our backpacks, and our raincoats on,” Cabello says. “We were carrying like three litres of water. We all had shovels and pickmatics.”

Latino Outdoors is one of the groups trying to reestablish an outdoor connection at HSU, but there are other groups and students striving to do the same thing. Amada Lang is a senior recreation administration major with a minor in business and grew up as a Native American. Lang says that while people of color are in the outdoors, they don’t always share the same western perception of what it means to be out in nature.

When they made it to their destination, Cabello and his group began clearing the trail. They used pickmatics to carve into the hillside to widen the trail and the shovels to scatter dirt.

“We go outside and we do enjoy the outdoors, but not necessarily in the same ways,” Lang says. “I feel that we should, not combine them, but be able to feel comfortable.”

“We were brushing the trail when we heard a clap of thunder,” he says. “It was my first time being caught in a storm. I’m not gonna lie, I was a little scared.”

Lang says that in Humboldt County she always felt at home while surrounded by her culture, traditional practices and people. However, when she leaves that comfort zone she sometimes feels out of place. This also happens when she is outdoors where she predominantly sees white males, white females, and older generations that seem to have more experience.

Cabello says that instinct tells him to run into the trees. Instead, he and the others walked down to a lower elevation into an open area. There they each got into a triangle position and squatted low, with their toes turned toward each other and their heels off the ground. They sat in that position for about 20 minutes as they waited for the storm to pass. “After that we thought this was a good place to stop and eat lunch,” he says. “It was cool interacting with them

“What’s really crazy to me is people of color were outdoors before our ancestors of different areas,” Lang says. “I feel that it’s silly we’re feeling this way because we have ancestors that grew up in these outdoor areas. This is where we all come from, so why do we feel so shunned?” OSPREY | 57

I don't give "Ifeverything I have, I'm letting my pops and God down. " Demetrick Watts


Power Move

Chiseled Demtrick Watts carries a football in a photo shoot in Eureka on Nov. 7.


Photo by Matt Shiffler