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Opinion: College students need stimulus payments too

'Swingin’ the Blues' book encapsulates life, legacy of San Marcos jazz legend

Photographers find joy in capturing meaningful moments for graduating Bobcats

Women's, men's basketball teams reflect on rigors of back-to-back games






MEN’S BASKETBALL CLINCHES SUN BELT TITLE IN HISTORIC FASHION By Aidan Bea Sports Reporter Texas State men’s basketball (18-6 overall, 12-3 Sun Belt) defeated the University of Louisiana at Monroe 5849 on Feb. 26 to clinch its first-ever Sun Belt Conference title. The win marks the team's third regular-season title since 1999 when it was in the Southland Conference. Texas State was without Interim Head Coach Terrence “TJ” Johnson for the second of three straight games due to

COVID-19 protocols. In his place, Associate Head Coach Bennie Seltzer was at the helm and, after the game, shared some words on Johnson’s behalf. “I just want to say how proud Coach Johnson is of this team,” Seltzer says. “All the things that they’ve gone through this past year has been unprecedented, to say the least. These young men were never wavering on how hard they worked, how close they were and how connected they were. It was such a pleasure to be around these guys, to coach these guys. Every single day they brought it.”

Seltzer believes the group's unity and perseverance through adversity are what allowed them to arrive at this point. “They come together at the end of every practice, and our break is ‘family’ and those guys live by those words every single day,” Seltzer says. “It doesn’t surprise me that they were able to finish it off [and win the regular-season title], but goodness they’ve gone through a lot and we are really, really excited for them because they’ve worked really hard.” The Bobcats set the tone early in the first half, going on a 10-0 run led

by junior forward Alonzo Sule with six points in the first five minutes of action. ULM stopped the bleeding with a threepointer from senior guard Josh Nichols at the 15:14 mark. Texas State pushed its lead back up to double-digits at 18-7 and kept the Warhawks at arm’s length for the rest of the period. Following a media timeout, ULM scared the Bobcats with a 7-2 run to close the deficit to just four points at 24-20 with 4:55 left in the half. Texas State responded with a 6-1 run to close



Community finds purpose in selfless service during winter storm By Brianna Benitez News Editor The bone-chilling temperatures and icy conditions of February's winter storm reminded Christopher Cardoza of a time when he spent nights outdoors freezing, praying for daylight to come. "One time, I remember, someone pulled over on the side of a road and saw me wandering around a boulevard, and they gave me a blanket," Cardoza says. "I was so grateful for that dingy little blanket; it was like gold."

SEE WINTER STORM PAGE 3 Texas State public relations senior DeJ Ashford makes a bonnet, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021, at her apartment.




The power of female entrepreneurship at Texas State By Cristela Jones Life & Arts Editor

Texas State health science senior Sahara Smith does her client's nails, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021, at her apartment. PHOTO BY NATALIE RYAN

Texas State alumna and owner of Krylics by Zuri, Zuri Jones brushes acrylic powder on a set of Valentine's Day nails, Feb. 10, 2021, at Texas State. PHOTO BY CRISTELA JONES

From Madam C.J.Walker’s hair care products to Rihanna’s diverse Fenty makeup line, Black female entrepreneurs have played an

enormous role in creating blueprints for Black-owned businesses to succeed. Benefitting from the work of the trail-blazing women who came before them are Black female entrepreneurs at Texas State, who continue to make their mark and build businesses to accommodate people of color on campus. Rya Russell, a health science senior and owner of Hair by Ry, says she began braiding hair her freshman year as a way to make extra money while in school full time. “I didn’t want to get a regular job because I always stress myself out about school and my work, and I like to have everything organized,” Russell says. “So, I was like, maybe I should learn how to do hair, and I can create my own schedule.” Russell learned how to braid hair by watching YouTube videos and practicing with her friends until finally blossoming her skills into her now-popular business of specialty locks and braids. She says bringing her business to San Marcos was important because it allowed her to attract a new market for college students of color in need of a hairstylist they could trust. “My favorite part about doing hair, I think, is building connections with different people, even though it’s probably like brief and just talking to somebody new every day, learning

their story or why they’re here,” Russell says. “I like to ask especially freshman girls how they’re doing because freshman year is tough and sometimes we don’t have anybody to talk to, so I feel like just building those small connections with people really like makes my day.”



OWNER OF HAIR BY RY Along with new connections, Russell hopes to continue to spread Black


Dr. Shetay Ashford-Hanserd uses her computer, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, at the Pedernales building. PHOTO BY JEFFREY HALFEN

Assistant professor to study minority women in STEM By Timia Cobb Assistant News Editor Following an $843,000 award from the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) grant, an assistant professor at Texas State will research how and why minority women enter STEM-based fields. “The research study is definitely all about minority women in STEM," says Dr. Shetay Ashford-Hanserd. "Some minority women will benefit from being a part of the grant, but it's more so a research study about Black and Hispanic women and the factors that influence their persistence in STEM and computing.” Ashford-Hanserd, an assistant professor in the Department of Organization, Workforce and Leadership Studies (OWLS), has applied for the CAREER grant twice; faculty members can only apply for the grant three


The University Star

2 | Tuesday, March 2, 2021


Brianna Benitez News Editor starnews@txstate.edu


Trinity Building 203 Pleasant St. San Marcos, TX 78666 (512) 245 - 3487

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Bandleaders would often hire Eddie Durham to choreograph their brass section due to his musical talent. PHOTO COURTESY OF TOPSY M. DURHAM.

'Swingin’ the Blues' book encapsulates life, legacy of San Marcos jazz legend By Kiana Burks News Contributor The musical gift and historical breakthrough of San Marcos jazz native Eddie Durham will live on between the pages and lines of “Swingin’ the Blues - The Virtuosity of Eddie Durham”, a book written by his daughter.

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Eddie Durham created techniques off both the trombone and guitar. In 1935, he became the first person to record an amplified guitar on record.


Through the help of historical news articles, flyers and transcribed radio interviews, along with personal family and peer interviews, Topsy M. Durham has created a comprehensive piece of literature enclosing the life of Eddie Durham (1906-1987) and his musical family. “I knew the subject. I knew the topic. I just had to get in there with what I knew and then find even more,” Topsy M. Durham says. “I wanted to write something of my own to really tell this story.” Eddie Durham was a jazz trailblazer and San Marcos native recognized for his musical abilities. He is credited as the first person to record an amplified guitar on record in 1935. When writing the book, Topsy M. Durham says it was a challenge to gather information on her father as most of it was published decades ago. She also struggled to find verifiable information during a period in her father's life when he was less active in the music industry to take care of his family. “A lot of things were from the 1930s and 1940s and 1950s before I was born, so I had to get information from other sources,” Topsy M. Durham says. “A lot of the things my father told us about his life such as about his time in Texas as kids were great stories but, in order to write this book, I needed to verify as much as I could through official sources, like newspaper articles, not just what other people said because I wanted to make sure I was being accurate.” Despite how difficult it was to find, there was an abundance of information about his life and endeavors available — a testament to how broad his talent was. Topsy M. Durham says her father played both the guitar and trombone and invented techniques off both instruments. "On top of that he was hired by bandleaders to choreograph their brass sections, so it was easy for me to write and put together this book," Topsy M. Durham says. "My dad was such a likable person. He was really sweet, and he never yelled. He always had something new and interesting going on.”

As a Black man in the south during segregation and racism, Topsy M. Durham says it was interesting to learn about all the hardships her father overcame. She says one of the only ways for Black people to find relief during those times was through music. “Back then if you could perform, you’d better get out there and do it because what else really was there for them? There really was nothing other than sharecropping or war," Topsy M. Durham says. While simultaneously dealing with the harsh realities of life for a person of color at the time and becoming one of the most inspirational figures in jazz history, Eddie Durham always considered himself a person who was just doing what he loved. Laurie Jasinski is the project manager for the Handbook of Texas Music, a nonprofit aimed at appreciating, understanding and teaching Texas history. Jasinski believes Eddie Durham holds a long-lasting legacy in the music industry. “If I were to call him something, I would really call him a pioneer. He was a musical and arranging pioneer and also really a pioneer in terms of recording the electric guitar,” Jasinski says. “When looking at all things that were important and significant to Texas, Eddie Durham really stands out as one of the pioneers, not just for Texas music but really in the world of music in general.”



PROJECT MANAGER FOR THE HANDBOOK OF TEXAS MUSIC Jasinski believes the release of "Swingin’ the Blues - The Virtuosity of Eddie Durham” is a great and welcoming addition to the sources available for music history. “I was so thrilled to hear about the

book; it's so nice to see that there's still ongoing study about him, and the fact that this is by his daughter is even better,” Jasinski says. “I’m excited to see that we may now have a lot of family stories or previously unknown information. I think that's just great.” Eddie Durham’s influence on the music industry and in Black communities across the country is apparent to those who were familiar with him and his work. “He, of course, was born in San Marcos, so he had that tie to Central Texas, and for a number of African American jazz bands or swing bands at the time, he was known as a great arranger,” Jasinski says. “He would arrange big band music a lot in the field of jazz and in the field of blues, so there were a lot of key African American bands that he worked for and influenced.” Eddie Durham also left a distinct mark on white jazz composers and musicians, Jasinski says. “There are also other key Anglo or white big bands, which were very famous in the era that he arranged and composed for," Jasinski says. "One was led by Glenn Miller, who was a famous bandleader in the '30s and early '40s, and there was a song that Eddie Durham directly contributed to as an arranger; it was called 'In The Mood'. Eddie Durham's lasting impression is commemorated through San Marcos landmarks, such as Eddie Durham Park, as well as installments at the Calaboose African American History Museum. Linda Kelsey-Jones, a member of the board of directors for the Calaboose Museum, believes it is important to commemorate San Marcos natives, like Eddie Durham, who have achieved great and inspiring success. “San Marcos doesn’t have a lot of famous people born here. Eddie Durham was one of the first that we’ve had, and we try to make the most of that,” Kelsey-Jones says. “It’s inspiring to feel like you have a connection with someone who had such a great influence on music, which is something a lot of people care about.” Kelsey-Jones says the story of Eddie Durham’s success and influence can also serve as inspiration for the San Marcos community and those encountering hardships in discovering their own success. “A number of historians have claimed that Eddie really was a musical genius, and I think it’s important for the Black community to have examples of heroes who excelled at times while things were still segregated,” Kelsey-Jones says. “White musicians appropriated Black jazz and swing music and claimed it was theirs despite the history being obviously traced to Black people but, in the end, the history speaks for itself.” Eddie Durham’s true passion for music, however, is what Kelsey-Jones thinks is an important aspect of his musical virtuosity. “There’s something to be said about a person that just does what they do because they love it,” Kelsey-Jones says. “And I think character is harder to come by than [being a] genius, and Eddie Durham was a man who had both which is what makes his life so truly inspiring.” For more information on Eddie Durham and “Swingin’ the Blues - The Virtuosity of Eddie Durham”, visit @OfficialDurham on Twitter or the Durham Jazz website.

The University Star

Tuesday, March 2, 2021 | 3


Brianna Benitez News Editor starnews@txstate.edu

FROM FRONT WINTER STORM Despite the weather conditions of the recent winter storm, Cardoza, along with many San Marcos residents, worked tirelessly to supply shelter, resources and food to those in need throughout the community. Prior to February's winter storm, Cardoza had been helping the local homeless community for nearly six years by providing them with items such as blankets, jackets and socks. When the winter storm arrived, however, Cardoza knew there would be a greater need for blankets and warm clothing. He says when visiting homeless camps around the area, a lot of people expressed a desire to leave their encampments to escape the frigid temperatures. While Cardoza was able to help out financially and work with fellow community members to place those in need with motel rooms, he also encountered homeless individuals who were reluctant to seek shelter. "They wanted to stay there," Cardoza says. "I needed to remind him that it was going to snow, and they said that 'we've been through worse.'" As someone who has experienced homelessness himself, Cardoza says his main priority was to help those adamant about staying in their encampments through the storm. He returned to provide those individuals with extra blankets and sleeping bags, trying his best to make sure they kept warm. "I've been homeless at one time, maybe, God, 14-15 years ago," Cardoza says. "So been there done that, you know. I am a recovering alcoholic, so I have 10 years of sobriety, and I kind of know what it's like to be on that end of the stick so to speak." As the storm traveled throughout the area, leaving homes dark and grocery shelves empty, Cardoza says he found it incredible to see how many people were willing to help strangers in their own community. He adds he was grateful to see so many other residents visiting the encampment sites, providing any resources they could. "That was like the most beautiful thing you can imagine from a community that was stepping outside of itself, not hoarding for itself, and just going out and doing for others, because they knew it was a desperate situation," Cardoza says. "I can't imagine what would have happened if these people hadn't pulled together. Not just me but the community...that was an incredible

thing." With the storm approaching, San Marcos resident Tod Miller knew the local homeless community was not prepared to encounter the inclement weather the storm would bring. "I was going into camps before the storm actually got here and was kind of checking in with them and letting them know weather was going to turn really bad," Miller says. In between caring for his elderly mother at home, Miller worked nearly nine hours a day during the week of the storm to provide and deliver hot meals, hygiene products and water. He partnered with the H.O.M.E Center to provide motel rooms to homeless individuals. Miller has helped those in need for nearly 15 years and says the conditions of the winter storm transformed his outreach, making it much more critical for him to serve others. "Community is all about taking care of our neighbors, and people experiencing homelessness are still our neighbors," Miller says. "My motivation is to build a better community, a tighter-knit community and everybody, you know, everyone needs help at times." Miller experienced homelessness in the '90s and also lost his home and belongings during the 2015 Memorial Day flood. He works to serve as a liaison between the city and homeless community, as oftentimes people experiencing homelessness are hesitant to engage in outreach initiatives with city officials, local organizations or law enforcement. "I'm coming to people in these camps more as a friend checking in on a friend," Miller says. With frigid temperatures, freezing pipes and power outages forcing some restaurants and home kitchens to close, Janie Perez, a member of El Buen Pastor Church, and her husband helped residents turn their water off and provided food items throughout the community. "We had fruit cups, we had soup, stuff that, you know, could be eaten without having to heat up," Perez says. "So we gathered a couple of those and took those to people that were still in their houses." Perez says El Buen Pastor is a partnering agency with the Hays County Food Bank and receives food donations from the organization. Hays County Food

Tod Miller poses for a photo, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021, near Rio Vista Park. PHOTO BY NATALIE RYAN

Bank Communications Coordinator Mallory Best says while it was unfortunate that the food bank was not able to provide its regular services, it was amazing to work with local partners and provide more than 5,000 pounds of food items to the community. "It astounds me that when a catastrophe happens, this community really pulls together," Best says. "I've been here for the floods, I've been here when the hurricane hit [and] it's been amazing how people just pop up." The weather began to improve by the end of the week, but Perez continued to provide food to those throughout the community and even served breakfast for the nearly 100 community members the Sunday after the storm. "We had over 200 tacos that my daughter and I made; we got up at five in the morning. We went in it hard; we were like, 'let's do this,' and we made tacos and another person within church brought kolaches and donuts. We had oatmeal; we had plenty of clothes. So we had a good turnout," Perez says. Days after the storm, the power in Perez's home returned. However, she knew there were still residents who did not have electricity. She decided to cook enchiladas for whoever wanted them and ended up making 50 plates and 17 household deliveries throughout the community. The desire to serve stems from her faith and the selflessness of others who helped her after the death of her father in 2014. During that time, she says she fell into a deep depression, did not really care for life anymore and was at the point of being homeless. Perez was referred to El Buen Pastor and its Life Together program which provided her with rental assistance. She says the love dispensed by the church helped her find the strength to continue on. From those experiences, like many other selfless leaders in the community, she now aims to do the same for others. "My dad always said, 'God always sends us on Earth to do something grand and you just got to find what it is," Perez says. "For me, it's caring about others, it's loving on others, it's helping others and I didn't realize that until, you know, later in life, but I'm glad I did."

Christopher Cardoza poses for a photo, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021, by the Blanco River. PHOTO BY NATALIE RYAN

Janie Perez poses for a photo, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021, at El Buen Pastor United Methodist Church. PHOTO BY NATALIE RYAN

FROM FRONT STEM times. Her untenured faculty member status qualified her for the grant. She says the grant predominantly focuses on helping STEM faculty pursue their research agendas before obtaining tenure. The research project began on Feb. 1 and will conclude on Jan. 31, 2026. Ashford-Hanserd says the research will closely examine a conceptual framework called community cultural wealth, which shows how one's community, wealth and social surroundings can influence a minority woman's decision to go into STEM. “There's different aspects that contribute to providing that supportive framework really for all students... when we look at students of color, we want to look at it from an anti-deficit framework or through an anti-deficit lens rather than looking at the barriers to their persistence," Ashford-Hanserd says. "I'm looking at the wealth that they have in terms of their social capital, as well as their access to financial capital." Anita Natufe, a civil engineering sophomore, says her high school equipped her with programs that focused more on the major she currently pursues. She sees benefits in having additional educational outlets and sources of information. “I think in public schools they should have more...different programs that focus on careers and what people want to do in the future," Natufe says. "We learned about basic stuff — math, science and all of that — but besides that, we have these clubs and programs that just focus on different things like engineering and computer science and other stuff that people want to do.” The project will follow an integrated research agenda, meaning AshfordHanserd will combine how she teaches her course at Texas State with broader audiences and also incorporate community-engaged research. She will work with communities to find new, innovative ways to educate young minority women about STEM programs. “With this grant, I'm focusing in on developing a body of knowledge about Black and Hispanic girls across the nation by using a national secondary data set from the National Center of

Educational Statistics, conducting a quantitative study to look at some of their course-taking patterns of Black and Hispanic woman in math and science and computer science," AshfordHanserd says. She adds she will also have the opportunity to conduct a survey of Black and Hispanic students at high school institutions and HBCUs and plans to compare and contrast her findings on the national level to understand Texas data. Tionna Scott, a first-year biochemistry graduate student, has had an interest in science-based subjects since she was a child determined to be a dermatologist. Her parents sent her to a STEM academy in San Antonio when she was younger. Scott says if she never attended, she would not have gotten the same encouragement to study biochemistry. “At my school, we were able to work with cadavers and do hands-on experiments and, at the time, I really didn’t know what I was [going to be] majoring or what I possibly want to do in the future, like for sure, until I was getting close to graduating high school," Scott says. Ashford-Hanserd's research will observe how communities, such as Scott's school, encourage and benefit minority women who later decide to study fields in STEM. During the first year of research, Ashford-Hanserd will interview Black and Hispanic women from Texas State majoring in STEM-based fields. She will also conduct interviews with students to understand their lived experiences throughout their K-16 education. “[Participants] will receive stipends for being a part of the study, so they will benefit," Ashford-Hanserd says. "I'll be able to look at the patterns, you know, see the different factors of that model to see which ones most influenced their persistence and share that information with my community partners in the community. Then, also share it more broadly, you know, across the region and then nationwide with those factors that influence the persistence of Black and Hispanic women in STEM and computing." Scott says financial insecurity is a big factor in the lives of minority

women who decide to continue higher education in STEM-based studies. She says having more access to financial help and promoting those resources in the field will help. “There is a financial struggle because, like, for example, in graduate school, you're [either] going to get a stipend, and it's enough but it's not what you could have been getting if you were working," Scott says. "I feel like a lot of people look at that and they're like, 'Why would I go into this field to go to grad school, go to medical school and do all these years, pay all this money and not like get any immediate money right now?' I know that there are scholarships out there and grants to help minority women, but a lot of people just don't have the resources or know about them to get them.” The decision to conduct research on minority women was personal to Ashford-Hanserd. She wants to help women who might go through similar experiences she has lived through. “I recognize that for my experiences, the barriers that I face but also the support that helped me to win those external factors that helped me to succeed," Ashford-Hanserd says. "I want to make sure that I find interventions and best practices that can help improve pathways for other women of color but also the research supports it.” Natufe has found herself in situations where she is not just the only woman in her STEM classes but also the only Black person. She views that as a reason why minority women might stray away from STEM. "When I tell people I am an engineering major, their mind goes to like me being outside and doing construction, all of that," Natufe says. "They're like ‘Isn't that a man's job, like one outside,’ and it's like, that's not the only thing that STEM is about. I think if people stop looking at it as something that's for men only then it'll be better for a lot of people.” The research will take a more holistic approach, Ashford-Hanserd says, to understand why minority women engage in STEM programs. Her hope is that the research will help place a focus on formal and informal education, which allows cultural constructs in

communities to prosper and influence young women. “My hopes coming out of this is to be able to inform," Ashford-Hanserd says. "When we look at the whole pipeline of entry, as well as retention of Black and Hispanic women or women of color, my hope is to be able to inform what are the best practices and interventions that should be utilized to retain girls and women of color in STEM and in computing. I always call myself a scholar-activist, or action researcher, because I like to ensure that my research drives some type of action.”




The University Star

4 | Tuesday, March 2, 2021


Cristela Jones Life & Arts Editor starlifeandarts@txstate.edu


FACES encourages inclusivity, resilience among Texas State foster students By Andie Mau Life & Arts Contributor For new college students, the first weeks of classes consist of navigating a new campus and building relationships with like-minded people. Foster youth students, however, sometimes find themselves under more difficult circumstances, as college students with traditional family backgrounds cannot always relate to their unique struggles. Research shows youth aged out of adoption and foster services are at a disadvantage compared to their non-foster care peers. With little support, compounded by the difficulties foster students face, such as complex trauma, mental health challenges and instability, finding an organization or community at Texas State presents challenges. Foster Care Alumni Creating Educational Success, or FACES, an on-campus organization aimed at aiding foster youth, are welcoming foster students in need of a strong, goal-driven community, with open arms. The organization is dedicated to providing academic or personal resources to Texas State students who spent time in foster care at any point throughout their lives. The organization also seeks to address the need for equity, access and inclusion for students by employing a trauma-informed and strengths-based approach in an effort to create a more inclusive and equitable campus environment. "FACES has a direct impact on students' mental health because they support one another. It's not just that they're getting support from us but [also] the whole program," says Dr. Christine Norton, a liaison between FACES and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and a professor of social work. "Foster care is definitely a part of your identity. You brought complex trauma with you, but that doesn't make you less than. It doesn't mean you're broken. It means you struggle, and we all struggle and so [we want to] normalize the struggle." FACES has improved its students’ lives on campus since 2011 with the objective to recruit, retain and graduate youth with experience in the foster care system. "Legislation passed several years ago [stating] every two-year and four-year public university in the state of Texas must have a person on their campus that is a foster care liaison so that youth who are interested in coming to college have a point of contact," Norton says. "So we have the FACES student organization but then also FACES is a larger campus-wide initiative." The organization hopes to usher in inclusivity by recognizing unique aspects of its students' identities that go largely ignored, such as first-generation status, gender expressions, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity. "A lot of our students are students of color because of the disproportionality in the foster care system," Norton says. "So that makes it even more important for me to make sure that the program is empowering... It's like they're leaders on our campus and the whole program is centered around creating a community of

Dr. Christine Norton (second to the left) and members of FACES on a hiking excursion. PHOTO COURTESY OF CHRISTINE NORTON




support so that they can step into those empowering aspects of their identity." FACES offers students opportunities to improve their life skills through individualized mentorship, housing security, food pantries, textbook lending libraries, free school supplies and community events based on engaging foster youth. Shyla Bell, FACES secretary and a social work sophomore, is a foster youth who took advantage of the food pantry and community support provided by the program.

"You walk in and they welcome you with open arms," Bell says. "They teach you to be accepting of your past, move forward and know that you can succeed, despite everything that has been thrown at you." According to its members, students engaged with the FACES program have higher retention rates, greater academic success and mental health stability compared to foster students uninvolved in FACES. “I have seen students persist in their education because we help them have stability through maintaining safe housing in the residence halls over the holidays,” Norton says. “Or connecting them with a supervised independent living program that we have — an offcampus agreement that provides free housing up until the age of 22.” The program’s success is attributed to its student leaders who have cultivated a nonhierarchical, destigmatized and interconnected relationship between members. “I want people to know that [FACES is] not a place where you're constantly reminded or pitied for your background,” says Eree Tsatenawa, vice president of FACES and an exploratory professional sophomore. “Yes, we all have a uniting background that may be sad for some people, but that's what brings us together as a group.” Even with the improvements toward inclusivity among foster youth on campus, Norton believes Texas State and San Marcos communities can still do much more to support students with foster backgrounds. "I would really love to see more affordable housing in the San Marcos community,” Norton says. “I would also love to see the university make counseling access unlimited on campus, maybe a special therapist in the Counseling Center that has experience with youth, foster care and complex trauma that can serve the mental health needs of our students… and then I'd love to see more on-campus jobs for our students." FACES students also hope to de-stigmatize the perception of foster youth on campus as "charity cases" and for the university to acknowledge and celebrate organization members’ accomplishments. “We had 36 people on the Dean's List last semester… I don't want it to be like, ‘Oh wow you actually made the Dean's List,’ but I also don't want that to get slid under the rug,” Tsatenawa says. “I want it to be celebrated that we are doing this within our community. It would make a lot of FACES students that maybe aren't involved in the [organization] be like, ‘Hey, they are getting recognition. I shouldn't be scared to come out as a FACES student.’ I think that would be really encouraging for all of us.” Dedicating itself to creating a better and more inclusive environment, the FACES program showcases the capability and contribution of foster youth students on campus when provided opportunities. “We say at FACES, ‘Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors,’” Norton says. “These students know rough seas, and it's made them resilient.” For more information about getting involved as a member or mentor visit FACES' website or email faces@ txstate.edu.

Texas State junior outfielder Isaiah Ortega-Jones (17) high-fives his teammates as he comes back into the dugout during a game against Brigham Young University, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, at Bobcat Ballpark.

Texas State sophomore Carlie Rutherford waits for a bus on a rainy day, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2020, at the Quad Bus Loop.

Kayakers enjoy the river, Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, at Rio Vista Park.

Assistant archivist Laura Kennedy describes a collection of photo negatives, Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, in the University Archives office.





The University Star

Tuesday, March 2, 2021 | 5


Cristela Jones Life & Arts Editor starlifeandarts@txstate.edu


Photographers find joy in capturing meaningful moments for graduating Bobcats By Vanessa Buentello Life & Arts Contributor While strolling campus near the end of each fall and spring semester, it is routine to watch seniors pose under the UAC arch as the shutter of a camera opens and closes at rapid speed. Not long after, graduation photos with colorful visual elements make their way to social media and save-the-date fliers in family mailboxes. Those photos showing proud, future Texas State graduates do not happen without the eye looking into the camera — the people showing off their flexibility and core strength to get the best composition possible. The photographers are just as ecstatic as those graduating, becoming integral to students' final memories on campus. Casey Schlickeisen, a Texas State alumna and portrait photographer, originally got into graduation photography a semester after graduating from Texas State with a bachelor's in photography. While working a retail job and searching for a career in photography, her sorority sisters began to ask her to take their graduation photos. From there, the few photos she took for her friends jump-started her career in portrait photography and her small business, Casey Schlickeisen Photography. “It was so freeing,” Schlickeisen says. “I just loved and still love meeting so many different people, connecting and giving them lifelong memories that they can show their kids and grandkids someday.” For Schlickeisen, the most important part of her job is connecting with her clients. As a photographer, Schlickeisen tries to be her most authentic self and show her clients that it is okay for them to do the same. “I always say to my clients, ‘Think of the camera as an extension of me. Pretend the camera is not even here and you and I are just having a conversation,’” Schlickeisen says. “After that, it’s really easy to get photographs that reflect their true personality.” Albert Suárez, a teaching assistant for the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and a San Marcos photographer, says with such talented photographers in the area, personality and stylistic differences are what set him apart from others. “I usually play music during my

Texas State alumna Emily Pulido paddle boards during a graduation portrait session with Albert Suárez in the San Marcos River. PHOTO COURTESY OF ALBERT SUÁREZ

Local San Marcos portrait photographer Casey Schlickeisen photographs a Texas State senior during a graduation portrait session, Thursday, March 26, 2020, at Spring Lake Preserve Natural Area. PHOTO COURTESY OF CASEY SCHLICKEISEN

sessions,” Suárez says. “It helps people kind of calm down and just relax a little bit. That’s one of my favorite parts; when you can tell when their shoulders are down a little more, and they're just smiling naturally. It's not like a forced thing." Suárez says people have distinguished his work from others' through his editing style. He tends to go for a cinematic look with warmer tones to complement his signature poses. Suárez’s career began after learning the basics of photography in his senior year of high school when he received the opportunity to work for his school district's public relations department. After high school, Suárez came to Texas State to earn a bachelor's in

communication design. Four years later, Suárez Creative was born and has not stopped growing since. Suárez says he never thought he would become a fulltime photographer and business owner. “I don't want to say that it fell on my lap,” Suárez says. “But at the same time, it's all about establishing those connections and building those relationships with people, because that's what they'll remember the most.” With an uprising market of small businesses brought to light via social media platforms, photographers are gaining clientele from more posting and advertising. However, Suárez says an overwhelming majority of graduation photographer clients actually come from referrals and networking.

Brianna Reeb, Texas State alumna and graduation photographer, says despite the hardships COVID-19 has created, her business has experienced some success. “Instead of only being able to shoot on the weekends, when there's not people walking all over campus, I was able to shoot Monday through Sunday, which was super convenient and nice to have that flexibility with scheduling,” Reeb says. “So I was able to book a lot more senior sessions than I normally would have.” Reeb graduated with a bachelor's in public relations, but had no intentions of a career in photography, as it was only something she loved to do on the side. Halfway through her undergraduate degree, Reeb invested in a camera, watched YouTube videos on photography and began taking senior portraits. Now, at age 25, her small business, Simply Breezy Photography, has blossomed into her full-time job. Reeb wants to create a fun experience for those she photographs. Knowing how intimidating it is to pose in front of the camera, Reeb says she becomes her clients' “hype girl". “I just want my clients to feel super confident and beautiful in front of the camera,” Reeb says. “Every single time I take a really good photo, I will go up and show my client that photo behind my camera because I want them to see just how pretty they look.” As a result, she creates friendships with her clients, who start to view her as more than just the photographer. “A lot of times I feel weird even calling people clients because I consider them more as a friend at that point,” Reeb says. “So I think that's what makes it a little different for me, is just making sure that they know I'm first and foremost their friend. And then secondly, I am their photographer.” For graduation photographers, senior sessions go beyond just doing what they love. They get to experience the joy that comes along with graduating college — a major stepping stone in a student's life. "This is such a huge life event and a big milestone for some people,” Suárez says. “They want these photos at the end of their term to be captured so that they can share with friends and family for the rest of their lives. My main driving force behind my photography is definitely the experiences that they share.”

FROM FRONT BEAUTY culture through her business, to increase awareness of Black hair and history. “I feel like a lot of people out here don’t understand Black hair and don’t really know exactly what a Black girl goes through to get her hair done,” Russell says. “I had a white roommate, and she watched me do hair, and she’s like, ‘Whoa, like what are you doing, like what is all this stuff?’ and I explained to her, 'Yeah this is what we go through to get our hair done.' It’s more than just hair. You got to detangle; you have to braid. It takes hours, so there’s a lot that goes into making us look beautiful.” DeJ Ashford, a public relations senior and owner of DeJ LaShae Fashion, says her business focuses on making women of color feel confident in themselves through fashion. Ashford jumpstarted her brand during her junior year at Texas State after realizing she wanted to get back in tune with her childhood love for sewing and creating. “I came from a single-parent family from East Texas, a really, really small town and, you know, where I’m from nobody really makes it big or does anything as far as like fashion designing or anything like that, so for me it is a real personal thing,” Ashford says. “Growing up, I never thought I could do it so now that I’m actually taking the steps to move forward with my business, it’s just really important for me as a young Black woman starting out.” Ashford says the market for Black beauty consumers at Texas State inspired her to begin making hair bonnets. “I just always thought bonnets would come in like regular colors like just black and maybe you might get a good color every now and then, so I just thought it would be something for [the Black community] to have a better variety of bonnets to just make something more stylish and fashion-forward,” Ashford says. Since launching her website in October, Ashford has expanded her business to not only cater to San Marcos residents but also others across the country. She plans to launch a swimwear line and a headwear collection in the spring. Her goal is to have a full clothing line by the beginning of 2022. “I feel like, over the years, society hasn’t really appreciated Black businesses, and I think over the past year, we’ve all finally kind of been getting the recognition that we needed and we deserve,” Ashford says. “It’s really important to always acknowledge [creatives] like fashion designers [and] Black graphic

Texas State health science senior Sahara Smith does her client's nails, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021, at her apartment. PHOTO BY NATALIE RYAN

designers or just any type of creative because they don’t really get the shine that they need, and they’re just as well deserving of it.” Keyara Prudhomme, a marketing junior and owner of The Venus Lab, whose cosmetology experience in high school led her to create her own luxury lash extension business at Texas State, is now witnessing the success of her business. “The Venus Lab is my very first official business, so I feel like it’s a stepping stone for me for many more businesses to come,” Prudhomme says. “I don’t want this to be my only business, I look at it more as an experiment and how far I can take it in experience with marketing and consumer behavior since I am taking those classes as well, so I’m trying to implement all those things.” Along with applying her major to her business, Prudhomme views owning her own business as a sense of freedom. In the coming months, she wants to get certified in micro-blading and powder brows to expand her business to an even wider audience. “Now people are finally branched out and finally decided like, ‘Ok I want to do my own thing, I want to take control of my life’ and like as a Black woman I want to support them in any way I can, and I hope they support me as well because at the end of the day I want to help minorities get up on their feet since it’s harder for us.” Sahara Smith, a health science senior and owner of Sae Cured It Nails, says she decided to begin doing her own acrylic nails after having bad experiences at a local salon near her apartment. “I started doing nails like pre-COVID, beginning of

March, and because San Marcos is a college town, I thought it would bring more exposure to my business since I really did enjoy doing it, and I wanted to open it up to other people instead of just doing it for myself,” Smith says. Her goal after graduation is to open up her own shop in San Marcos where she hopes to inspire more people of color to strive for positions of power. “Once I get licensed and everything, I do plan on having my own nail salon, open to everyone but primarily for African-Americans and Hispanics to feel comfortable and inspired just because I feel like we don’t have a lot of salons that have [people of color] as owners; so I think that would be nice,” Smith says. Another Black nail artist and entrepreneur on the rise is Zuri Jones, a communication studies alumna and owner of KrylicsbyZuri. Jones is a traveling nail technician from Houston who chose to stay in San Marcos beyond her graduation to continue offering nail services to new and loyal student clientele. Jones began doing nails during the pandemic as a way to “keep busy” and relieve the stress COVID-19 had caused her from her previous job. “My mindset originally was that, ‘I am just doing this to eliminate another bill’, I didn’t even set out to do other girls' nails; I was just going to do my own,” Jones says. “But being able to be in San Marcos and becoming a traveling tech kind of catered to the girls that were skeptical about COVID and those that didn’t have their cars with them.” In doing so, she was able to create a strong community of ambassadors who showcase her work on social media for more exposure and clout. Jones says her favorite part about her business is being her own boss and delivering excellence to her clients every day. “I feel like Black businesses really capitalize on quality work, quality customer service and overall greatness,” Jones says. Jones aspires to open up her own shop in the Austin area soon but says she will continue to offer travel services to her customers at Texas State. She says owning a Black-owned business is something she takes pride in and hopes more Black entrepreneurs will continue to defy expectations. “[Black History Month] means a lot because I know my ancestors that came before me would be very proud just to see how far along we’ve come, just to see that we’re trying to take the reigns in business and change the narrative,” Jones says.

The University Star

6 | Tuesday, March 2, 2021


Valeria Torrealba Opinions Editor staropinion@txstate.edu

Opinions in The University Star are not necessarily those of our entire publication, Texas State University’s administration, Board of Regents, School of Journalism and Mass Communication or Student Publications Board.



Texas State Athletics should fund specialized therapy for athletes By Lindsey Salisbury Opinion Contributor Texas State Athletics is prized and celebrated within the San Marcos community, with people coming together every weekend to collectively watch young student-athletes compete in sports. Although athletes are incredibly talented and driven, as witnessed with the volleyball and basketball teams winning conference championships, respectively, spectators only see the scoreboard or a number plastered to the athlete's back. What they often do not see is the mental strain studentathletes face daily. Texas State carries an arsenal of health professionals and athletic training facilities to help produce and maintain athletes' bodies. However, despite the copious amounts of money devoted to ensuring peak physical performance, Texas State Athletics overlooks the most important part of young adults competing at a collegiate level: The mental game. Sports psychology is a beneficial and relatively new field dedicated to strengthening the mental health of athletes. To have a more successful athletics division, the university needs to reconsider its priorities and fund a division of sports psychiatry and mental health wellness for student-athletes. Athletes, like everyone else, deal with a variety of mental health issues like anxiety, depression and eating disorders. Professional athletes over the years have reported suffering from serious mental illnesses. Terry Bradshaw, sports commentator and former quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, admitted to dealing with anxiety attacks and depression from major brain injuries during his career. Wendy Williams, a former U.S. Olympic diver, was diagnosed with major depression in 1994 after a spinal injury that forced her to retire. The vulnerability to mental health issues among athletes is high. Yet, universities, like Texas State, do not fund a branch of specialists for their athletes. Alexia Lewis, an athletic trainer at Texas State, believes mental health is just as important as physical health and “having a sports psychologist would be beneficial.” Lewis states that protocol for mental health-related issues with her athletes consists of the head athletic trainer “referring them to a counselor at the university’s Counseling Center.” Beyond that, they are not certified to help with serious struggles that competitive athletes face. “Athletes deal with a different type of stress and pressure than regular students face,” Lewis


College students need stimulus payments too By Taylor Bradley Opinion Columnist


says. It is unfathomable that athletes are responsible for reaching out for help on their own. Sports psychologists who are “more knowledgeable to best aid student-athletes,” Lewis says, should be included in athletic training programs to provide the holistic care that the university promises its athletes. Stress affects student-athletes differently than it does regular students. Not only do they have to worry about their success in the classroom and the regular drudgery of becoming an independent adult, but they also have to worry about their athletic performance. In a University Star story earlier this year, men's basketball senior forward Isiah Small says that he was taught to grow up thinking he was a "Macho Man," and that counseling services did not work. He describes a lifestyle where he is always striving to be the best version of himself on and off the court — adding to the stress he endures mentally. Sports have become a part of athletes' identity. Organized sports require a large investment of time and energy, causing "a loss of autonomy in athletes." High athletic identity has been linked to psychological distress when this identity is removed. 17.2% of males and 32% of females participating in highintensity sports experience eating disorders. Some highlevel athletes are self-conscious about their bodies, striving to attain "the perfect look." Some possess a "do or die" mentality and willingness to sacrifice their bodies for their sport. Another sports-centric mental illness is performance anxiety. Although it is not uncommon for people to feel anxious before big events, performance anxiety for athletes is a trail of negative thoughts surrounding their sport that can seriously inhibit

their ability to perform. Athletes are constantly bombarded with thoughts of failure. Teaching athletes mental strategies to cope with anxiety and learn to perform confidently would help tremendously with their mental health, both on and off of the field. Heather Rivera, a sports mental performance consultant, says regular therapists do not always have a sports background and do not always understand how to help with sports-specific issues. "We are athletes — we've been there, we know the struggle and we understand what you are going through,” Rivera says. Athletes and how they fare off the court matter more than their production on a stat sheet. Texas State needs a clinical sports psychologist. Men's basketball's Interim Head Coach, Terrence Johnson, who just won a conference title, told The Star as much earlier this year. “I think it’ll help because our guys would know there’s always somewhere to go to and someone to go to [who] they feel comfortable talking to — [someone] there for that reason," Johnson says. "These guys are not reluctant to talk with somebody. The only thing is, a lot of times, these guys don’t know where to look, and they don’t know who to ask because they don’t want to expose themselves.” It is irresponsible to make Bobcat athletes responsible for their own mental health in such a high-pressure and high-intensity environment. Texas State should take care of its athletes. Athletics receives enough support from the university community year in and year out to make it happen. -Lindsey Salisbury is an English sophomore

In April 2020, the first round of stimulus payments were sent to millions of Americans to support them at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In early 2021, millions began receiving a second round of payments. The eligibility requirements limited certain people from the payments, although they likely experienced the same economic distress as a result of the global health crisis. Some people, specifically college-aged adults, were claimed as dependents on their parents' income in 2018 and 2019. This, unfortunately, made them ineligible for stimulus checks. The pandemic has affected everyone in different ways, and it is unfair and problematic to hinder college students from receiving payments when they also struggle. As conversations about the third round of stimulus payments consume the U.S. Congress, students claimed as dependents should not be left out. Texas State distributed funds to students through the Bobcat Cares Emergency Grant between April and May of 2020, which provided students with financial assistance. This was helpful to most students since the beginning of the pandemic brought hastily, unforeseen changes. Though the payment was helpful for a short period of time, students are still struggling a year later because of the extreme circumstances brought on by COVID-19. While a second Bobcat Cares grant is on the way, it surely will not be enough to satisfy the needs of all students. Additional money from stimulus payments would only help. The cost of higher education was already on the rise prior to the pandemic. According to Forbes, “for the 2019-20 academic year, the current average cost [was] $36,880 for tuition and fees: an increase of 220%." To make matters worse, some universities have increased tuition during the pandemic. In addition to tuition, students have to pay an average of $760 on additional course materials, such as books and access codes. In some cases, the books are fundamental to a student's success in a certain class; in others, the additional course materials are unnecessary. No matter which category the material falls under, it is another expense that puts students at a financial disadvantage. Another thing to consider is not all college students live in dorms. Many have apartments with rent and bills to pay. This is especially the case at Texas State, where students are placed in a housing lottery for eligibility to live on campus after their freshman year. This means a majority of Texas State students are living in student apartments or traditional apartments in the San Marcos area. Students are dependent on jobs to pay bills, and with the pandemic still going on, finding reliable work is challenging. If one does have a retail job — as some college students do — they are putting their lives at risk. According to Vox, 54% of the 13.5 million dependents in the U.S. are students. "An analysis by People's Policy Project determined that about 2.3 million adult dependents who fall into the lowest income category won't receive a $600 check," the Vox article adds. This means that one of the most disadvantaged groups, college students, is left without financial assistance from the federal government throughout the global health crisis. But college students are among people who need the stimulus payment now more than ever. The “dependent” label has cost students $1,800 that could have gone toward rent, course material, food and bills. College students need help, and they need it now. - Taylor Bradley is an English senior


Letter to the Editor: Student Government By Diego Hurtado Over the years, Student Government has turned from the voice of university students to a complete laughing stock. The institution that it once was held great persuasion and respect throughout the university. In my opinion, it is now a complete comedy show, and the audience is the university administration. This saddens me because this thing that is supposed to represent the student body voice, my

voice, your voice, is instead — because of past years of scandal and conflict — a large majority of people who favor extreme partisan political ideals, some of which HIGHLY disrespect minority students. There is now a tight lock as to who is allowed in Student Government by those who control the Senate, appointing those who they think will vote in their favor and not even considering those who won't. It has expelled a senator with no evidence of high violations against the

Student Government Constitution & Code only because, behind closed doors, senators disagree with his viewpoints. Student Government should be the institution that works on behalf of all students, and those within it should work and learn together on how to better the student body. This hasn't happened in quite some time. So, I implore the University administration, The University Star, the student body — yes, that includes you who is reading this — to come together and make a stance

to change the group of what is now called Student Government to what it's meant to be: An organization made of and for students. The University Star welcomes Letters to the Editor from its readers. All submissions are reviewed and considered by the Editor-in-Chief and Opinion Editor for publication. Not all letters are guaranteed for publication. Letters can be emailed to stareditor@txstate.edu.

The University Star

Tuesday, March 2, 2021 | 7


Sumit Nagar Sports Editor starsports@txstate.edu


Women's, men's basketball teams reflect on rigors of back-to-back games By Skylar Williams Sports Reporter While dealing with abrupt cancellations and schedule changes, the women's and men's basketball teams faced an uphill climb as they played the vast majority of their conference schedules in the form of back-to-back games. The rigorous schedule required teams to play two games usually less than 24 hours apart, affecting the players' mental and physical preparation. The physical demand of players to compete in games in such short timeframes would play a big role in the athletes' performance. The back-to-back game days took up the majority of the weekends, leaving little to no time to fully recover from minor injuries. Zenarae Antoine, women’s basketball head coach, says nutrition, hydration and sleep were key factors in the recovery process. Additional steps were taken to accommodate each players' needs prior to the next game. “We try to make sure we’re eating healthy meals that’ll help them throughout the day and leading up to the game, making sure that we’re hydrating, and we are eating foods that are going to help them perform,” Antoine says. “With each young woman, it's different as for what her needs are and with her body making sure she’s prepared. Once you hit the game, there’s very little you can do at that point once your body is fired up and you’re on the go, outside of pure rest.” Gabby Standifer, a graduate guard/forward on the women's basketball team, says the workload was lightened during the early portions of the week to recover from the previous doubleheader and to rehabilitate for the following set of games. “Usually we always have Sunday off, and that’s for rehab and treatment,” Standifer says. “Mondays, if you’ve played a good amount of minutes, you also have

another day for rehab and treatment…it’s really light. I think it’s really helped for the back-to-back games and then practices aren’t going too long.” Antoine says there are multiple layers to playing back-to-back games. She sees similarities between the back-to-back schedule and playing in tournaments. "Psychologically, that does go into play that you’re playing the same team … so that plays into the mental fatigue that I think happens at times, as well as the physical fatigue,” Antoine says. Isiah Small, men's basketball senior forward, says back-to-back games had an impact on the competitive aspect as well. The process after each game required the team to completely refocus and prepare for the next contest in what felt like little to no time. “A whole lot of film and just rehabbing; you have to have the right mindset too,” Small says. “If you lose, okay there’s the next one, and if you win you have to have the same mindset onto the next game.” Antoine says she sees the exhaustion on both sides of the court during games. She adds that coaches try to find as many opportunities as possible to rest their players. “In some cases, for some student-athletes, there’s a mental fatigue because you’re playing the same opponent multiple times but, for others, it’s a physical fatigue,” Antoine says. “Just being able to fight through that you definitely see when they, as we say, hit a wall … when you hit that wall it’s really going to come down to who has the mental capacity to fight through it until you get the time out, so you’ll notice coaches are taking more time-outs.” Both the men's and women's basketball teams will soon take on the Sun Belt Conference tournament. The women's team will face Georgia Southern on March 5, while the conference champion men's team gets a first-round bye.

Texas State redshirt sophomore forward Lauryn Thompson (25) dribbles the ball around a Maverick defender to get in position to score, Friday, Feb. 12, 2021, at Strahan Arena. The Bobcats won 66-45. PHOTO BY KATE CONNORS

Texas State senior forward Isiah Small (1) dribbles the ball past UTA junior forward Jordan Phillips (2) in the second half, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021, at Strahan Arena. The Bobcats won 79-68. PHOTO BY KATE CONNORS

FROM FRONT MEN'S BASKETBALL out the half and lead 30-21 going into the break. The Bobcats outplayed the Warhawks in nearly every category in the first half. Texas State held a 17-11 advantage on the boards, including a 6-1 advantage on offensive rebounds. The Bobcats outshot ULM from the field, shooting 44.8% (13-29) compared to the Warhawks’ 38.9% (7-18). The Bobcats forced eight turnovers leading to 10 points while only committing four turnovers of their own. Sule led all scorers at halftime with eight points (3-5 FGS, 2-2 FTS) along with four rebounds and a steal. Junior guard Mason Harrell (3-7 FGS, 0-3 3FGS) and senior guard Shelby Adams (3-5 FGS) each chipped in six points. For ULM, senior guard Marco Morency had seven points (3-5 FGS, 1-1 FTS) and two rebounds. Following Morency were junior guard Elijah Gonzales (1-1 FGS, 2-2 FTS) and junior guard Koreem Ozier (2-5 FGS) with four points. The Warhawks started the second half with two quick buckets to come within five points before Texas State responded with a three by Harrell and a three by junior guard Caleb Asberry in back-toback possessions. The Bobcats increased their lead to a game-high 18 points at 44-26 and seemed poised to cruise to the finish line, but ULM had one last run left in it, going on a 16-3 run to close the score to just 47-42 with 7:06 remaining in the game. Texas State weathered the storm and two free throws from senior forward Isiah Small sealed the 58-49 win and regular-season title for the Bobcats. After only scoring four points in the first half, Small scored 13 in the second for a game-high 17 points (5-7 FG, 1-2 3FG, 6-7 FT) and seven rebounds. Harrell ended the game with 11 points (5-10 FG, 1-5 3FG), four rebounds, two steals and a block. Sule finished with 10 points (4-7 FG, 2-2 FT), six rebounds and a steal. Morency finished with a team-high 13 points (6-12 FG, 1-3 3FG) for ULM along with four steals. Nichols scored seven in the second half for a total of 10 points (3-8 FG, 2-4 3FG, 2-2 FT). After the game, the team celebrated its accomplishment — pouring water on one another, embracing their teammates and cutting down a piece of the net as a memento of their accomplishment. The players made sure to include Johnson in the occasion, calling their coach on FaceTime to celebrate with him in whatever way they could. Johnson then made a surprise appearance after the game, limited to the confines of his Jeep, to celebrate with the team. “[Johnson] has been a part of this

Texas State junior guard Mason Harrell (12) addresses the crowd and pumps up the team for its next games, Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, at Strahan Arena. The Bobcats won 58-49. PHOTO BY KATE CONNORS

Texas State senior guard Shelby Adams (4) shouts out the Bobcat fans as the team celebrates being named Sun Belt Conference champions, Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, at Strahan Arena. The Bobcats won 58-49. PHOTO BY KATE CONNORS

the entire time,” Seltzer says. “The culture that he has created here… he has improved the culture here and that’s what won this game tonight — the culture that he has put in place.” When asked what pushed this team over the hill, Seltzer’s answer was simple — “TJ.” “For one, he treats them like men,” Seltzer says. “He holds them accountable, and they believe in him. They believe in him because he believes in them. I think the connection he has with his team allowed these guys to do what they did tonight.” The win was not only sweet for the coaching staff but also the players. Adams saw the victory as validation. “It’s a long time coming,” Adams says. “I’ve been here since I was a freshman, been through all the trials and tribulations, and getting this win tonight is for sure heartfelt. I’m so happy just to see all this hard work, work out. This feeling I can’t explain.” Senior forward Quentin Scott has seen the Bobcats come close to a title several times during his time at Texas State and says that a weight has been lifted off his shoulders.

Texas State junior guard Caleb Asberry (2) cuts his piece of the net down after the team beats ULM and is named the Sun Belt Conference champion, Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, at Strahan Arena. The Bobcats won 58-49. PHOTO BY KATE CONNORS

“I’m lost for words right now,” Scott says. “I feel like the four years we put in here has finally paid off. It’s a blessing honestly, just relieved.” After the celebrations, Texas State returned to play ULM again on Feb. 27. This time around, the Bobcats sat Harrell for the game, while also limiting Small's and Adams’ minutes to rest for the upcoming Sun Belt Conference Tournament. Johnson was also not present for this contest. Despite the change in the lineups and yet another game without their head coach at the helm, the Bobcats still

managed to squeak out a 61-57 nailbiting victory. Asberry led the team with 19 points (4-11 FGS, 3-5 3FGS, 8-8 FTS) with seven rebounds. Players, such as junior forward Nighael Ceasar, sophomore forward Addison Wallace and freshman guard Duece Guidry also picked up the slack. Caesar scored four of his eight points (3-5 FGS, 2-3 FTS) in the final minute of the game. Wallace turned in four points (2-2 FGS) and tied for a teamhigh seven rebounds. Guidry, in his second game of the season, scored six points (2-4 FGS, 2-3 3FG) in the first half. Seltzer was pleased with how the team came together to win the game despite Johnson's absence along with the adjustments to the lineup. “I thought our guys played well and competed especially with the circumstances," Seltzer says. "I thought, collectively, one through 14 [players] all brought something to the table today. That was a complete, complete team win by our guys, and I’m really happy for them.” This season has been a roller coaster for the Bobcats. Before the season, former Head Coach Danny Kaspar was accused of racism by a former player and as a result, later resigned. COVID-19 has altered the way not only the game is played, but the way the players and coaches have lived their lives. Through it all, both Scott and Adams have come away with lessons they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. “I think I learned you can’t take anything for granted,” Adams says. “You could think we’re gonna play next week, so I don’t really need to go hard tonight. But then later on the game could be canceled. Not everything is certain. You just can’t take anything for granted.” Scott echoed Adams but also says that he learned about preparation. “I think one of the biggest things we learned is to remain humble, never underestimate anybody, and be ready at all times,” Scott says. “[With Johnson out], Bennie was ready to step up. Coach TJ definitely still made sure our preparation was there, but we were very prepared even though we were in very unwanted circumstances. We were very resilient this year.” Texas State will set its sights on the Sun Belt Conference tournament from March 5-8 in Pensacola, Florida. As the first seed in the West Division, the Bobcats will get a bye in the first round. Texas State will play the winner of the game between Appalachian State University and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in the quarterfinals of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament at 8 p.m. on March. 6. The game will be streamed on ESPN+.

8 | Tuesday, March 2, 2021

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