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JUNE 19, 2012 | VOL. 13 #30
GONE WILD BY RYAN CORTES P. 20
BY RYAN CORTES P. 4
The coach BY ROLANDO ROSA P. 10
The president BY DYLAN BOUSCHER P. 26
FIRST ISSUE IS FREE; EACH ADDITIONAL COPY IS 50 CENTS AND AVAILABLE IN THE UP NEWSROOM.
June 19, 2012
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Schnelly gone wild
Meet Howard Schnellenberger, a 78-year-old ambassador-at-large — and leg pressing monster. By Ryan Cortes
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF - Ryan Cortes MANAGING EDITOR - Dylan Bouscher ART DIRECTOR - Phaedra Blaize
IN THIS ISSUE
ASSISTANT ART DIRECTOR - Elena Medina BUSINESS MANAGER -James Shackelford WEB EDITOR - Andrew Alvino COPY DESK CHIEF - Michael Chandeck NEWS EDITOR - Dylan Bouscher
SPORTS EDITOR - Rolando Rosa PHOTO EDITOR - Michelle Friswell
Meet Ann Marie Bedard — a 24-yearold grad student who’s used her disabilities to disprove others.
By Ryan Cortes
CRIME EDITOR - Monica Ruiz SENIOR EDITOR - Rachel Chapnick SENIOR PHOTOGRAPHER - Christine Capozziello COPY EDITOR - Jessica Cohn-Kleinberg STAFF REPORTERS
Michelle Ferrand, Jordan Robrish STAFF PHOTOGRAPHERS
Meet Mike Jarvis, the 67-year-old basketball coach who turned a fresh start in Boca into a fresh start for life. By Rolando Rosa
Melissa Landolfa, Lamise Mansur CONTRIBUTORS Bianca Soto ADVISERS
Michael Koretzky Dan Sweeney COVER - Photo by Christine Capozziello
Meet Robert Huffman, the 22-yearold student body president who’s finding his voice By Dylan Bouscher
777 Glades Road Student Union, Room 214 Boca Raton, FL 33431 561.297.2960
elcome to the new UP. When I took over — that’s right, they let me run a newspaper — I kept hearing complaints about my favorite little publication. Kept hearing about things you guys wanted changed. Less ads! More color! More mugs of Cortes! OK, I only made up one of those. People love ads, obviously. So I made big changes. You’re now reading this issue in full color, all on glossy pages. You’re reading an issue with double the amount of editorial to ads. And, clearly, my mug is here to greet you whenever you feel so inclined. I’m a senior now, and I remember starting as a freshman in the summer of ‘09. FAU was nearly empty — just me, my crew and my biceps. No more. In fact, we spent time this summer with some of the most interesting and inspirational people walking through the Burrow. Their stories follow. I hope you enjoy it, and if you don’t, tell us. Use #MeetFAU or @ Ryan Cortes upressonline on Twitter Editor-in-Chief and your voice will be heard. It always is.
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June 19, 2012
Meet the blind grad student who pushed past disabilities and couldn’t be happier By Ryan Cortes Editor-in-Chief
Photos by Michelle Friswell Photo Editor
laine Bedard was one trimester into her pregnancy when doctors suggested an abortion. The first-time mother had the flu and heard news that floored her. Doctors said she had something called cytomegalovirus, found in 1 percent of pregnancies. It could damage her unborn child and doctors warned against proceeding with the pregnancy. No, she said. Bedard went into labor soon after with a daughter born 20 weeks early, the edge of viability as doctors call it. Then Ann Marie Bedard came out, four and a half months premature and covered in embryonic fluid and doubt. “They told me she would never walk, never talk and have severe mental retardation,” Bedard says. The doctors were wrong. Little Ann Marie would be in the hospital the next four months fighting for life. At two
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Doctors believed Ann Marie Bedard would be deaf, blind and suffer from severe retardation. They were wrong. She’s now a 24-year-old grad student at FAU who roams campus with her cane and confidence.
months old she was two pounds. “I could fit her in the palm of my hands,” her mom says. Her life on the line, surgery was needed for detached retinas in both eyes. Doctors transported her to another hospital in an ambulance. There were no clothes small enough to fit, so mom raced to Toys “R” Us and bought doll clothes to keep her warm. Her left eye went completely blind. The right eye was salvaged — with 20/400 vision, her eyesight so ravaged, one word at a time can be seen with a powerful magnifying glass. It would be enough. More than enough.
Ann Marie Bedard can’t stop smiling. It’ a cloudy day out, and a rainstorm awaits. With cuts to summer schedules and the natural extinction of a senior class, campus looks and feels empty. Sad. Lonely. But Bedard? She has another world to show me. “Just follow me back here,” she beams. I’m in the Office of Students with Disabilities (the OSD office) and I don’t know my way around. Up ahead, Bedard is putting her bag in a cubby hole, her’s the one on the top right, and she starts to make her way toward the computer lab. “Oh, I can show you how I use the scanner!” she says. It’s your standard computer lab from afar — there are rows of desktops, printers here, scanners there, students seated haphazardly — but it’s not. The lab has 13 computers, a machine
“They told me she would never walk, never talk and have severe mental retardation,” Bedard says.
Designed by Bianca Soto
to make braille, special keyboards, magnifiers and even something called a Kurzweil 300, a software that reads entire books out loud. It can cost up to $1,395 and it’s free at OSD. Bedard’s off and moving again, her cane guiding her to a 52’’ computer monitor where she sits down and hammers the keyboard. A computer generated voice is spitting words back at us — too fast for me to even understand — and up on the screen pops the login page to MyFAU. How can you understand the voice? I ask her. “I can understand it pretty well,” she says. “I’m, like, used to it.” For the last decade, Bedard’s been using a program called JAWS, which reads aloud any site or screen put in front of it. It allows her to sign in, send emails and create Word documents and — Hold on. The voice is talking again and I can’t understand. How fast is that voice? What’s the fastest she can comprehend it on? She tells me the voice reader goes from 1-100. She starts it on 1, showing the painful and tedious process that is listening to a computer generated Boca grandmother. And then she cranks it up — to 90. It is hard to understand the computer generated Boca auctioneer. It is the pace she’s most comfortable with. Bedard shows me her document for class — it’s a long document, pages and pages long — and she furiously punches keys until she gets to number 26, the next question needing an answer. She stops, listens, thinks. And starts hammering away again. Answered. The two stages which apply to babies and toddlers are trust vs. mistrust and autonomy vs. shame and guilt. She looks up. “I’m just gonna run the spell check real quick,” Bedard says. It’s perfect. There’s no need.
She’s been a student at FAU since 2006, having already completed a degree in social work, now trying for her master’s in the same subject. She’s even a face of the university, calling her proudest moment of life graduating from FAU, President Mary Jane Saunders mentioning her for all to hear: “If you ever see a young woman walking through campus with a cane,” President Saunders said, “that’s Ann Marie.” Despite that, she is often demonized by the dubious. “Some people when they see me,” she says, “think I can’t do anything for myself.” Among some of the oddest questions and comments she’s received: “The other day in the SO building, this guy came up and said, ‘It’s incredible. I have to give you credit for getting around here.’” “One time I was at the [FAU Bank Atlantic] bank with my friend, and the teller goes and asks my friend ‘Does she know her Social Security number?’ Like I can’t even speak.” “One of the workers at the cafeteria, she said, ‘Oh, can you get ready and take a shower? Who helps you shower?’” She deals with the spectacle daily, someone new asking something old, over and over again. And yet, once again, Ann Marie Bedard can’t stop smiling.
“Some people when they see me, think I can’t do anything for myself.”
Outside the OSD office, the pesky rain has made its presence known. It’s bothersome to Bedard, but she laughs at the notion the blind have a supernatural ability to predict rainfall because of heightened senses. “I don’t know if it’s going to clear up or what outside,” she says smiling. The rain’s starting to come down harder and so the steps are quicker, the importance of reaching cover more important. If, hypothetically, you had to get to the gym right now, I ask her, how would you know where to go? “I know I would go straight that way, and then at the Breezeway I would turn left and I would keep going straight and I could hear the music and the gym would be on my right and —” Bedard cuts herself off after bumping into a blood drive sign in front of the Student Union. “I don’t like it when these things are here!” she says. “I can easily bump into it and it’s always somewhere else.”
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Born in New York, Bedard was just two pounds at the age of two months. During one hospital trip, her mother had to buy doll clothes because the ambulance didn't have clothes small enough for her. Photo courtesy Ann Marie Bedard
“Last week, my roommate moved the sponge and it freaked me out,” Bedard says. “I couldn’t find it for almost an hour.” And with that, Bedard is off to show me her dorm room. While we’re walking, she notices something off with her feet. Her right foot feels sticky when it hits the ground, not her left, and she knows why. “Oh my god,” she says, “The bottom of my shoe came off.” Her right foot has just a thin layer of support under it now, but she smiles and keeps walking. Bedard admits she walks fast — she gets told it often enough — but the missing heel is enough to slow her down. Some. “Hey Ann Marie, how are you doing darling?” FAU police Lieutenant Larry Ervin calls out. “Hi!” Bedard says. “I’m doing wonderful!” It took her until nearly the end of high school to accept her disabilities, arms spread wide, smile spread larger. She remembers having to take the FCAT as a child and passing the math section with flying colors. No problem. She also remembers failing the reading section. Mainly because she answered precious few questions. If she squints hard enough, she can use a powerful magnifying glass and hold it up to a screen or a book and read one oversized word at a time. Because of this, by the time she’d read enough to answer questions, time was up on the FCAT. So she cried and considered herself a failure. She takes 15 more steps. “Ann Marie, how are you?” another student calls out. “Oh, I’m great!” she says. “How is everything with you?” Her mom, who was an ESE specialist at Pines Charter High, talked the school into a compromise, and it came to be that Bedard took both the ACT and SAT, and passed both, to make up for a
flawed system that failed her for a reading test. “Sometimes,” she says, “it takes me awhile to read something. But it doesn’t mean I can’t understand it.” We reach the front of IVA, and Bedard pulls out her Owl Card and begins swiping the air furiously. After each miss, she moves her left hand just slightly over. She knows she’s close. The third swipe hits the card reading machine and a clicking noise is made. “I know it’s ready to open once it makes that sound,” Bedard says before yanking on the big metal handle. She walks toward the end of the hallway, stops at the door for the stairs and pushes through. There will be no use of elevators here. I’m in Room 239 of IVA North and the apartment is uncommonly neat. There is no TV in the living room, no clothes on the floor, no dirt, no dust. “Oh my gosh,” Bedard says. “I’m sorry about the dishes. My roommate must have left them.” There are two empty cups laying turned over on the sink. The bathroom counter has one cup sitting on it — a red and white coffee mug plastered with hearts — and in that sits nothing but a blue and grey toothbrush with a tube of Colgate. Her closet has two shirts hung up on it and three pairs of shoes waiting to be walked in. “Come look at my TV!” she says. “Let me show you.” She keeps the entire apartment in meticulous order. One drawer with a brush, conditioner and deodorant. Another with a handful of perfumes. Every morning Bedard wakes up at 7:00 and listens to Good Morning America on her black Sanyo monitor. “I like Criminal Minds and CSI too,” she says. “But I’m, like, never here.” That is because she’s out by 8:00 every morning, on her way to the OSD office until she has class.
“One of the workers at the cafeteria, she said, ‘Oh, can you get ready and take a shower? Who helps you shower?’”
On most days Bedard can be found inside the OSD office, hammering away on a keyboard before class. She uses a special software called JAWS that allows webpages to be read to her.
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“This is the tea that I make,” she says. “And I throw the tea bags in here and make it.” Up above sits a microwave. Three green stickers are on it, one each affixed to the 1, 0 and Start buttons. It allows her to feel for the correct button — she has a lot to heat up. “My mom, she’s so cute,” Bedard says. “She cooks food for me and freezes it every week.” Bedard’s mother put her through early intervention programs. She refused to let disabilities damage a day. “This came out of nowhere,” Bedard says. “Before I went to sleep last night, I listened to this song and had a dream I met Enya. She’s an artist, like really peaceful music. Actually, I can play one for you.” Bedard pulls out a white, fourth generation iPod and feels her way with it until she hits her boombox, sitting it on the dock. She presses the forward button and goes through 15, 20 songs until she finds the one she wants. “Oh, here’s Enya!” she says. Bedard’s swaying in her chair, mesmerized by melodies. Her iPod has over 500 songs on it, and without an easy way to separate her music (“I can’t really see the screen,” she jokes), Bedard literally clicks through song after song until she finds the one she wants. Throughout the conversation Bedard is always looking in the right direction while answering. Finally, I ask her how. What does she see?
“I can see shadows, and I can tell you’re there,” she says. “I think you have a dark shirt on, maybe black, but I can’t tell if you’re fat or skinny, or what you really look like. It’s hard.” Our photographer is standing maybe three feet away. “Oh, I can’t see her,” Bedard says. “What kind of hair does she have? Can I feel it?” And with that, Bedard is giggling and grabbing. “Oh wow,” she says. “It’s thick. Thicker than my hair.”
“I can see shadows, and I can tell you’re there, I think you have a dark shirt on, maybe black, but I can’t tell if you’re fat or skinny, or what you really look like. It’s hard.”
she says. And so, with her departure near, she’s asked about her big plans. The one thing on her bucket list — above making A’s and completing her masters — she absolutely needs to accomplish. “I want to learn how to drive,” she says. “Before I die.” Bedard may never fulfill that dream in the way she wants, but this, this is inarguable. She’s driven.
The Office of Students with Disabilities is located in the Admissions Building, Room 133. Services offered include everything from volunteer note taking to testing rooms to special computer labs. Any student with a documented disability (ADHD, speech impairments, learning disabilities, etc.) can apply to start coming in. To learn more visit osd.fau.edu or call 561-297-3880
June 19, 2012
On top of her big drawer, next to the black Sanyo, is a little grey box. It’s a sleep sound machine and it makes noises — like heavy rain falling, beach waves, rainforests — and she uses it every night. Her preferred sounds to fall asleep to? Crickets and birds. It’s not that time, though. Bedard has to make her way back to the OSD office — she has class tomorrow and needs to print out her paper in advance. “If I don’t get an A or B then I freak,”
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THE RESURRECTION FAU’s basketball coach isn’t winning as much here as his previous stops, but he’s still swaggering
JARVIS By Rolando Rosa Sports Editor Photos by Michelle Friswell Photo Editor
urning down Michael Jordan is hard, but that’s exactly what Mike Jarvis did 12 years ago. Already a proven winner at Boston University and George Washington, he was fresh off taking St. Johns to the NCAA Tournament two straight seasons, once to the Elite Elite in 1999.
Things are different for Jarvis in 2012, way different, but he doesn’t seem to mind. Dressed in a white and red FAU Adidas polo shirt and blue pants, he sits in a corner booth of Flakowitz Bagel Inn on a overcast Thursday in May. Jarvis is sprinting down memory lane. He’s thinking about all the opportunities which
came from the early part of his career. He wouldn’t post a losing record for the first 15 years of his coaching career. “There was a time when any job opened up in college or the pros, my name would be mentioned,” Jarvis says. “There was a time when I was really hot, quote unquote. I had some stock when
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I was younger. I was a pretty hot commodity.” So hot that His Airness came calling. In 2000, Michael Jordan was two years removed from winning the sixth and final championship of his 13 season career with the Chicago Bulls. He had been hired by Wizards owner, Abe Pollin, as the president of basketball operations, and one of Jordan’s first tasks was to find a head coach to replace Gar Heard. Jarvis coached Jordan in the 1981 high school McDonald’s AllAmerican Game, before he was an NBA superstar, before he was a global icon. And now it was Jordan offering Jarvis the opportunity to return to Washington, D.C., this time as an NBA coach with the chance to revitalize a struggling pro franchise, like he did in college with Boston University and George Washington. A chance to climb the ladder, to the highest mountain in his profession. And early. But Jarvis said no. In three years he was jobless, his name sullied and tarnished. Instead of coaching in the NBA’s Eastern Conference against superstar pros, Jarvis stuck around to coach a 14-15 St. John’s team in the Big East the year after. In retrospect, he doesn’t regret the decision. His eyes do not drift or dart as he looks me in the face and bluntly gives his reasoning. “Not too many people, I don’t think, would have said no to Michael Jordan,” Jarvis says. “But it wasn’t the right time.” But why? “I didn’t leave because I wanted to honor my commitment,” Jarvis says firmly. “I had to finish what I had started there. So I turned it down.” Jordan ended up giving the job to another college coach, University of Miami’s Leonard Hamilton, who was fired after one season and a 1963 record. Could Jarvis have done a
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better job? He’ll never know. What if things didn’t go awry at St. John’s? Jarvis never won an NCAA tournament game again after returning. Chants of “Fire Jarvis” serenaded him in his final year at St. John’s. The school fired him in 2003 after allegations of a player getting paid, another smoking marijuana and one even being charged with sexual assault, according to the NY Daily News. It was the first time in the history of Big East basketball that a coach was fired mid-season. The swirl of controversy is what led him to want to “get out of New York and get away from all the crazy newspaper writers,” Jarvis says as he shakes his head. Funny that he does what everyone does when they drop out from elsewhere in the country — he moved to Florida. After a brief stint with ESPN, Jarvis accepted the job at FAU in 2008, and despite winning a regular season conference championship two seasons ago, he hasn’t even made it back to the NCAA Tournament. He doesn’t want anyone’s pity though. “I have no regrets,” Jarvis says. “I think I’m right where the good Lord wants me to be, you know? And heaven knows we’ve got enough work to get done here.” As he heads up to the register to pay, a waitress excitedly stops him, telling Jarvis his face is on a bus. “You know I was sitting outside and the bus went by. I said oh my God, the coach is on the bus,” she says. “It’s a pretty neat picture.” “Oh really?” Jarvis asks. “Haven’t seen it.” “It passed by all the time,” a male employee says. “Big!” “Big!” Jarvis repeats as he lets out a laugh. “Don’t let your head get that big
now,” the man says. “No it won’t,” Jarvis playfully answers. “Trust me.” *** Jarvis can be mistaken for a grumpy man during games. On gameday you’ll see him on the Burrow sidelines in his trademark sweater vest, barking orders to his team and badgering the refs. No smiles, no laughter. Strictly business. Off the court, though, there’s a different side to Jarvis: jovial. After the home opener Nov. 19 against George Mason, an overtime win, he catches a glimpse of me in my charcoal fedora on the way out of the media room. “You gotta stop wearing those hats, babe. I used to wear those all the time when I was your age,” he says pointing to his head. “How do you think I got bald?” Jarvis departs the Burrow, waving goodbye to the press. He’s relaxed,
“I have no regrets.” confident and content— not a care in the world. *** However, there are times where Jarvis is not so calm. Times where his raging temper can get out of hand. Three years ago against LouisianaMonroe at the Burrow, he got four technicals, an ejection and an escorted trip to the lockers by FAU police. Afterward, he was shocked at the whirlwind created with his tirade. "I can't even really describe it," Jarvis said to the Palm Beach Post.
"I've never seen anything like that, either." It all started with 2:01 left in the first half with an out of bounds call which went against FAU. Jarvis got annoyed and started screaming at the ref for so long he got four technical fouls and gifted LouisianaMonroe's Afam Nweke eight free throws. After a last word to the ref, he points to the sideline looking confused. Jarvis walked past the opposing team, where he was patted on the arm by their head coach. Jarvis’s left hand rested on his hip while his right signaled to get the attention of the ref one last time, but was ignored.
Mike Jarvis and his wife Connie celebrated their 45th anniversary in September. “She’s been, not only the love of my life, but my best friend and a great mother,” Jarvis said. “She’s basically made it possible for me to coach. “
As a policeman approaches, Jarvis extends his hands in the air as he heads into the hallway. He was suspended for the next game. *** It’s a hot Sunday morning in Boca, the day before Memorial Day, and I’m nervously waiting at Spanish River Church. Now residing in Boca Raton, a place he calls “the sixth borough of New York” because of all the transplants, Jarvis devoutly goes to church twice a week: Fridays for Bible Study, Sundays for the 10:45 service. Well, it’s 10:45 and coach is nowhere to be found. I’m slightly panicked (he wouldn’t stand me up, would he?) but a voice of reason soon appears to ease me. “Are you waiting for Mike?” a deacon asks. “Don’t worry. He’s always fashionably late.” Seven minutes later, Jarvis strolls by with his wife, Connie. He calls her simply “the boss.” Dressed in his Sunday best, a white and blue checkered dress shirt tucked into black slacks, Jarvis firmly shakes my
hand as he sheepishly grins. “You thought I was gonna stand you up huh?” he says. “Let’s go inside.” *** Five rows from the back in the lower bowl of the two-story auditorium, Mike Jarvis puts on his black rectangular glasses and turns his Bible — entitled “The Coach’s Bible” in gold lettering on the front — to the book of Psalms. As he jots down lecture notes in blue ink, on his wrist are two bands: a black WWJD and a red and blue FAU band reading “To Believe Is To Be Strong.” Psalms 3 tells the tale of David, former king of Israel who committed adultery. While the situations are not exact, the parallel between David and Jarvis are close enough to compare: a scandal while in a position of power. While Jarvis was head coach at St. John’s, player Abe Keita claimed he’d received $300 monthly from a senior staff member, according to the NY Daily News. He was basketball royalty in 1999 for leading the Johnnies to the Elite Eight, the furthest they had gone in 14 seasons, but now? Now, he was being mocked and ridiculed and scorned on the way out. St. John’s had to forfeit 45 games, something players were frustrated with. "I have no idea whether he cares about that, but it matters to the rest of us," said one former St. John's player on condition of anonymity to the Daily News in 2004. "We were the ones who worked for those wins. I don't understand how they can take that away from us because he (messed) up."
“O Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God” With the help of his wife and his new church family, the return to coaching came in 2008. But first he needed to get his spiritual life in order. Jarvis was on his way to his weekly Friday Bible study at Pastor David Nicholas’ house. However, there was upressonline.com
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an email sent out to members informing them it was cancelled that week. Jarvis never saw it. He headed over to Nicholas’s house anyway. The two still talked one-on-one, and Jarvis was given a life booklet by the end of it. He took the packet home and re-read it over and over again, before making a decision he says changed his life: accepting Christ into his heart. “That was the day that I basically made the commitment,” Jarvis says. “Now I’m trying to fulfill it. It’s not easy, but it’s certainly worth the challenge and the effort and the fight.” He always believed in God, he says, but never truly had a relationship with him. Jarvis had called on a team priest before, but this? This was the change he needed. “The biggest difference for me now is I think I’m more consciously connected, and I’m more aware of what I’ve done wrong as well as what I’ve done right,” Jarvis says. “I’m more ready to try and correct things and to improve.” The message today is “When Hearts are Broken — Hope for the Modern Family.” Jarvis is quietly listening to Pastor Tommy Kiedis preach. Jarvis, a basketball coach and former high school teacher, is now the student. He’s on his best behavior. And aside from a few whispers to his wife, he is silent. No loud hallelujahs, no amens. Doesn’t mean he’s not enjoying himself. When Pastor Kiedis mentions that the way an up-and-coming king
“But, you know, the problem with being a king is usually you end up being dethroned.” insulted the current king in biblical times was not by words, but by a slap across the face, Jarvis turns to his wife and his bible nearly falls out of his lap as he can’t contain his laughter.
*** Afterward, Jarvis chats with all passing by. “We raised about $25,000 for that golf tournament,” a deacon says to him. “Wow!” Jarvis says. “That is great.” “Next year,” the deacon urges, “you’re playing.” “Yes, next year I’m playing,” Jarvis says. “The reason why I didn’t go this year was because I had to speak at Highland Christian.” The deacon turns to me and a photographer.
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“You gonna be better journalists than we have now?” he asks. Jarvis does not wait for our answer. “Praise the Lord, I hope so,” Jarvis jokes. As we walk back into the lobby, we bump into Pastor Kiedis. “I love having coach around. We’re in a Friday morning group together. I appreciate him for lots of reasons,” Kiedis says. “He believes to his core in what he professes, but he’ll be the first to tell you, ‘I’m not perfect’. Jesus has made a huge difference in his life.” Jarvis is smiling now, a sharp turnaround from the look painting his face after the Owls blew a 19 point second half lead in the home finale Feb. 25 against Troy. “Hey man!” a fellow with a navy blazer shouts to him. Jarvis shakes his hand and introduces me. “This is Rich Porter, one of our fans. He comes to our games — ” Porter cuts Jarvis off and smiles at Mrs. Jarvis. “To see this lovely lady, that’s why,” Porter says. “That’s why,” Jarvis says. “See, the truth always comes out.” *** The truth for Jarvis is no matter the fame or notoriety he has, he views himself as a regular guy and wants to be treated as such. He says he and his wife tried out other churches in the area before Spanish River, but they weren’t right. “There are some churches we’ve been to that make a big deal out of us being there.” Jarvis says. “It’s almost like you go in to church and you go in to worship, and they’re making more out of you being there then they should, making it uncomfortable. That doesn’t happen here.” He has embraced the atmosphere at Spanish River, where the focus is not on the audience but the message. “The people at church, they realize, you know what, no matter who’s in that church, they’re just ordinary folks. The real person is who you came to church to worship. That’s the superstar,” Jarvis says. “When we came, we were broken. Beaten down a little bit. Felt kinda bad and sorry for ourselves. But God directed us to this church. It’s meant everything.” He says he’s a “normal guy, period” who will make his share of mistakes. When
he makes them, he puts it in perspective. “In fact, as Tommy preached today — we’re all wretches,” Jarvis says. “So I’m a normal wretch like everybody else. A sinner, and a person who needs God,” he says as he turns to his wife and laughs. He adds: “And yet I’ll say this to you. I know because I am a child of God, that I’ve got to work even harder to try to live the sermon. And I’ve got to do a lot better job in my coaching, in terms of how I behave. I’m working at that. I will continue to. Someday, hopefully, be able to control all the things God wants me to ...” He looks at his wife and blurts out: “Including my tongue.” “That’s right, you need to preach to yourself every day,” she says to him. Jarvis is well aware being a public figure and a Christian simultaneously is a challenge, but he does not back down from it. The 67 year old is not afraid to say he’s only in the infant stages of his spiritual development . “Once they find out that you are a Christian, people look at you in a microscope, but it’s OK, because we’re supposed to try and live the sermon. People hopefully one day will be able to say, hey I see a difference. That’s what God wants.” From his wife Connie to his son Mike II and his sister Trudy, his family has always been there for him — something he claims gives him the strength to fight through any adversity that comes his way. “When you’re in this business, family really becomes the most
important thing,” Jarvis says. “That’s what makes it possible for you to go through all the times you have to go through.”
*** The years coaching at Madison Square Garden in front of the bright lights, cutting down the nets and reaching the NCAA Tournament three times were what made him and his son Mike Jarvis II, his assistant coach since 1993, “the kings of New York for awhile.” The fallout and dismissal, while disappointing at the time, weren’t shocking, not for Jarvis. “But, you know,” Jarvis ponders, “the problem with being a king is usually you end up being dethroned.” Just like that, coaching was over for one of only four men to win 100 plus games with three programs at the Division I level. Just like that, the first AfricanAmerican father-son coaching tandem was on the unemployment line. “I also learned what it was like to go from the top of the mountain, to basically being thrown off the mountain, and what you have to do to get back up and survive and thrive and move on.” He points back to the crowded wall of pictures, confidently telling me he’ll eventually make room for one more: FAU’s second-ever trip to the NCAA tournament. “Once we do that, then FAU will be able to put the stamp of approval on it,” Jarvis says. “There’s no telling what can happen after that.”
Photo courtesy of FAU Media relations
June 19, 2012
Throughout his career, Mike Jarvis has coached Patrick Ewing (Rindge and Latin HS), Michael Jordan (Mcdonald’s All American Game), and Metta World Peace (St. John’s). He has taken Boston University, George Washington and St. John’s to the NCAA Tournament, a feat he hopes to accomplish at FAU by the end of his three-year contract extension.
June 19, 2012
What you missed this week on the web: FAU’S BOARD OF TRUSTEES — SHOCKINGLY SILENT
In reporter Karla Bowsher’s followup coverage of the BOT, she found that no one wanted to talk. After revealing (UP, May 15) that half the board members have bankruptcy filings, foreclosures and even false applications in their past, we couldn’t get a comment. So we brought along our videocamera. Check out Karla’s column and our exclusive video.
FAU’S STUDENT MEDIA DIRECTOR RESIGNS. After Michael Gaede announced his resignation on June 4, Editor-in-Chief Ryan Cortes wrote a column including an exclusive interview with Gaede. Find out the real reason FAU is now without a student media director — for the second time in two years. MICHAEL GAEDE
Photo courtesy of Media Relations
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unhinged — and having the time of his life By Ryan Cortes Editor-in-Chief Photos by Christine Cappozziello Senior Photographer
ver since Howard Schnellenberger left football last year, after 54 years of coaching, after a 1-11 season, after the misery, there’s one question he keeps getting asked. And it’s annoying, really. What are you doing now that you’re retired? “And I say, Christ, I’m not retired,” he says. “I took a sideways step.” Schnellenberger’s hidden now — the first football coach in FAU history, the man who created the entire program — tucked away on the second floor of the administration building, the last door on the right in a tight hallway filled with secretaries and computers and, well, business. Real work. His office is still covered wall-to-wall with memories of the past — the old framed photo of Bear Bryant, the shot of Schnellenberger stroking his mustache in a Miami huddle with Bernie Kosar — but the room feels more Schnellenberger Museum than Schnellenberger Office despite the location. Dressed in a long-sleeve white dress shirt, grey
pinstripes with gold suspenders on top, the 78 year old is trying to explain his new job. “The university offered me the position of ambassador, which I summarily rejected,” Schnellenberger says. “I stated I would require being ambassador-at-large, so I wouldn’t be confused with those senior students that squire around the freshmen when they come in at orientation. There’s a lot of ambassadors that run around there, so I wanted to have a different title than that. I wanted to be like Geraldo Rivera.” He explains some of the nuances of his job. It is, in a nutshell, to raise money. And so, three to four times a week, the old ball coach makes his way out to speaking engagements — a famous voice and name giving rise to a cause, any cause. Schnellenberger has teamed up with a 90-year-old World War II veteran in an effort to get companion dogs for injured soldiers returning to the states, he’s put his name behind an app called FreeSafeText (designed to disable your phone while driving, Continued on page 22
June 19, 2012
Designed by Phaedra Blaize
Sitting in his office on the second floor of the administration building, Schnellenberger pondered life after football: “Did you see me in the last 10 years or 5 years around here? Do I look any better? Everybody says I look like I’m 10 years younger, lost weight, smile more. It’s true. I feel young. I feel rejuvenated.”
“We’re gonna help from keeping you guys from killing yourself,” he jokes) and, as always, he’s trying to drum up money for FAU football. “He’s been out an incredible amount,” his boss, Jennifer O’Flannery Anderson (the VP of community engagement) says. And while his contract’s not public record — according to media relations it’s a part of the FAU foundation — he says his performance goals are personal, not contractual: $15 million for the university over five years. “My mission,” he says, “is to raise a lot of money.” “I would never laugh at a goal that Howard has,” Anderson says. “If he puts his mind to something, he can do it. He’s proven that to our whole community time and time again.” It’s easy to dismiss a 78-year-old salesman, but this is a professional 78-year-old salesman. When Schnellenberger took over as director of football operations in ‘98 he needed to raise $5 million dollars. “Just to get the state to let us start a football team,” he says. “We raised $13 million in two
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and a half years.” “At FIU, they had been collecting a $10 surcharge for every student that had been enrolled for about 10 years before they started football,” Schnellenberger says. “So they had a big pile of money to start. [FAU] had not done any of that when I first got here.” So Schnellenberger begged and bargained to raise the athletic fee. It was 1999, and he was arguing on behalf of a football team that didn’t exist, asking for money, answering with promises. “When you go into a place like Alabama or Florida as a coach, all you do is coach,” he says. “Get out there and whip the boys into shape. Recruit like hell. But when you go into Miami or Louisville or FAU — no team at all. First thing you gotta do is go out on the mountaintops and start shouting: Football in paradise! Football in paradise! Football it’s here! Hallelujah!” He got the money. An athletic fee that was $7.00 before Schnellenberger arrived was raised to $7.75 at the end of 1999, $8.75 in 2000 and $10.00 in 2001 (it’s $17.27/
credit hour for 2012 FAU students). And with answers of money came the answering of promises. The program would start on time, but not before former FAU president Anthony Catanese asked Schnellenberger, his director of football operations, to select a football coach. He did. Himself. Still, the idea of Schnellenberger as ambassador-at-large? As a voice to raise money for anything and everything? As Geraldo Rivera with more mustache? “I think they were startled I’d come here and punch a clock,” he says. “But I don’t punch a clock. I don’t know the rules, and I’ve broken a lot of rules around here because there’s a lot of bureaucratic stuff that commanders in chief like coaches don’t do. They’re asking me to document all my calls. Questioning my veracity? I don’t write down who I’ve seen and how many hours I’ve spent there. When you’re a coach you just go do what you’re gonna do. They either give you a raise or they fire you.” After his final game on Dec. 4, 2011, after 52 years in coaching, Schnellenberger took
a vacation. It would last two months before he returned. “I hit the ground running,” he says. “I’m going to run as fast as I can run. Let’s see who can keep up. I haven’t found anybody that can keep up yet. I do that because I’m 78 years old. If people think you’re old they tend to not pay much attention to you.”
Howard Schnellenberger’s angry. He leans back in his chair and rests his hands atop his head, fingers interlocked and takes a deep breath. We’re talking about FAU football, about the direction he sees it going in. On May 5, conference rival FIU left the Sun Belt and announced its move to Conference USA,
I‘ m leg pressing about 200 pounds. for the first time I ‘m not blubber anymore. I‘ m starting to get a hard body. Like all my girlfriends.
citing more exposure on ESPN among the reasons for leaving. It’s triggered something in Schnellenberger, and finally he reveals. “We can’t continue where we are,” he says. “You can’t win the national championship from the Sun Belt conference. We can’t maximize the potential of our stadium playing Sun Belt Conference teams. We have to be in the Big East Conference, not Conference USA. That’s a dead conference. Florida International made the worst mistake they could make volunteering to go to
Conference USA.” I start to ask a follow-up question. “What’d I just say?” he asks. “(FIU) made a bad mistake, they can’t win the national championship from there. Why would you go to a conference you can’t win a national championship from? That was my goal coming in here was to win the national championship in my lifetime from a startup program, and that’s still do-able if we get out of this conference and into the Big East conference.” Schnellenberger pauses, re-adjusts himself at the table and begins day dreaming. “All we’ve gotta do once we get into the Big East conference is go undefeated, and that will then vault us into a BCS bowl and it could be against the best team in America,” he says. “Or we could be the best team in America.” There’s that smile again.
Schnellenberger works closer to 60 hours a week now than his usual 80 as football coach. He gets to work around 7:30 a.m. these days (“I don’t have to be up at 4:30 in the morning for weight training, I don’t have to be there til midnight preparing game plans,”) and, he says, he hits the campus gym three times a week. Wait, what? “I’m leg pressing about 200 pounds,” he says. “For the first time I’m not blubber anymore. I’m starting to get a hard body. Like all my girlfriends.” I didn’t believe him, and it left but one question. Um, coach … can I go to the gym with you? “I’m not gonna let you see me in the gym,” he says. “See me muscling up 10 pounds? Can’t we do something else?”
Saturday at 10:00 a.m. The gym next to the football stadium. That’s right. The 78-year-old Schnellenberger has agreed to visit the gym with me — in the
name of journalism — and now there are forms to be filled out, lines to sign, the whole ordeal. To snap shots of someone in FAU’s gym, you need permission. The form granting it asks for an address, a Z number, a phone number, a signature — all the basics. And so Schnellenberger is in his office and the papers are handed to him. “What is this?” he says. “They want my Social Security number or something? They know I’m a public figure?” “I’m not being obnoxious,” he says. “Just saying.” He looks at the form, eyeballs it up and down, and signs his swooping signature with a flourish. One more glance at the paper in front of him. “I don’t have a friggin’ Z number,” he says, handing it back I took the paper, empty save for his signature, and handed it back to Julie, the lady in charge of these sorts of things for the gym. She stared down the nearly blank form. “Oh, that’s coach,” she said. “We’ll handle it.”
And up walks the old ball coach. It’s 10:04 a.m. on Saturday and it’s hot outside, the clouds up above doing little in the way of slowing down or blocking much of the sun, if at all. Schnellenberger, dressed in a white FAU polo shirt tucked into blue shorts, walks gingerly toward the Rec Center. “Good morning,” he says, extending his right arm, a blue and red rubber band with one of his many mottos affixed to it (To Believe Is To Be Strong). “Let’s get to work.” Let’s. Inside the gym, Schnellenberger is standing at the second row of metal entrances, the fingerprint entrance, and it’s not opening, not even for championship-ring-covered fingers. “The fingerprint machine is down,” an employee tells him. Schnellenberger shakes his head and
June 19, 2012
“I’ve decided now that I’m going to quit running and climbing and jumping and beating my bones up,” Schnellenberger says. “My bones are getting old and brittle, but my muscles are good so I’m lifting weights now. With my arms I’m weak as a kid. I’m working with about 15 pound dumbbells.”
spreads his arms wide, grinning. “$400 million dollars and it doesn’t work?” he says. The gates, all of them, open. “Don’t worry about it,” the employees tell Schnellenberger. “We know who you are.” He smiles and walks through. “Let’s do what I usually do,” he says. “A nice walk on the treadmill followed by some leg presses.” On his way over, he spots a couple of students pedaling on bicycles. “Hello, ladies and gentlemen,” he says. “How are you guys doing?” Stunned, the students can’t help but smile. “Hi, coach!” Schnellenberger makes his way over to the treadmill and steps onto his favorite one, the one in the middle of the front row, and starts walking. He looks over to me and puts his machine up to 2.0 mph. “It’s not about walking fast,” he says. “You have to warmup.” Earlier in the week, Schnellenberger warned me. He came to the gym often, he said, though he had limitations. “I’ve got three prosthesis,” he says. “I got a knee that’s been replaced. I got a hip that’s been replaced. I got a shoulder that’s been
June 19, 2012
replaced. We got six major joints in our body and three of mine have been replaced. I’m half a bionic man.” And so by way of explanation, not excuse, he drops a bomb on me while on the treadmill. “I had to learn how to walk again,” he says about his right hip surgery last season. Schnellenberger is in the middle of explaining how (“I never missed a day of work,” he offers up) when he notices something odd: Me. My foot, actually. “You’re flopping your right foot,” he says. “Making a circle out of it. What are you doing? Never learned the military, did you?” We’re about halfway through our first lap, and the most famous mustache in FAU history, still bushy as ever, says he likes to walk for just one lap before pumping iron. It’s a race now, and ridiculous though it may sound, I’m not losing to a 78 year old. I crank the speed up on my own treadmill and Schnellenberger peers over. “You’re at 2.8 (mph)? I don’t have enough kick,” he says. “This is just a warm-up exercise, I want to just slide on in.” And with the race nearing its end, Schnellenberger gets excited.
“All right, down the stretch we come,” he says. “Now the whip comes out. Stride for stride, nose for nose. Five furlongs to go. I can see the wire.” I finish first (obviously), but Schnellenberger isn’t impressed. “You just ran faster,” he says. “Notice I haven’t broken a sweat. And I was talking at my normal rate of speed, not gasping for air.” Hey, writing and walking at the same time? Kind of difficult, coach.
“I like to go talk to a student now before I go on,” Schnellenberger says as we walk away from the treadmill. I’m confused but curious. He spots a student on the elliptical machine hard at work, headphones in, sweat pouring. “May I ask what you’re listening to?” Schnellenberger says. The girl pulls her headphones out. “I’m listening to the band Cake,” she says. “Cake?” Schnellenberger says, his eyebrows up high now, perplexity painting his face. “You know, like the food,” she says. “C-AK-E.” “What do you know about Cake?”
Schnellenberger turns and asks me. It tastes good, I tell him. Love it. He laughs. Notice, I tell him, she’s actually breaking a sweat. “She’s not gonna break a sweat,” he spits out. “Girls don’t sweat.” She laughs. And just like that, Schnellenberger has a new fan. That red and blue rubber band he has on? It is part of a marketing campaign called “Howard’s Hundreds,” and with the help of Student Government, 10,000 red and blue, cliche-laden bands were ordered in the hopes of creating spirit and soul for the football team. And, ridiculous though it may sound, when you hear Schnellenberger tell it, maybe, just maybe, the old ball coach can still do a bit of selling. “Once you put one on,” he had told me, “you can never take it off again. Ever. You become one of Howard’s Hundreds.” Making our way past the line of cardio machines — the treadmills and ellipticals and bicycles — Schnellenberger spots his baby: the leg press machine. “Ah,” he says. “Old faithful.” Schnellenberger adjusts the machine to its farthest setting, making way for his brittle body as he climbs aboard. He yanks on each leg, one at a time, grimacing until they are steady and set on the machine. “The biggest thing when you’re 78 years old,” he says, “is about the angles.”
He pulls the metal handle and slots the machine at 160 pounds. Three sets of 15 on the way, he says. If you can do that, I say, you can definitely do 200 pounds, coach. “One time, you mean?” he asks. “We don’t go for maxes here,” he says. Why not, coach? I mean — He cuts me off. “Because I’m 78,” he says. “What difference does it make?” Schnellenberger powers through his first set, no breaks necessary, and he’s quick to remind everyone what he just accomplished. “That was a set of 15,” he says sternly. There’s a pause. And then a smile. In between sets he tells stories of old times, of playing football, of training, of never giving up. The second set is also blown through without problem, though the sweat is beginning to pile on. “Now my heart rate is at 200,” he says. “Most important thing is how quick it goes back to 75. That’s the thing people don’t understand. They think walking is best for your cardiovascular health, but this does it too.” Schnellenberger’s ready for his third and final set, his right leg ready to go, his left stubborn and still on the floor. “Get up here!” Schnellenberger screams at his leg, yanking on it. The leg obliges and, like he promised, like he always promises, three sets of 15 are
Howard Schnellenberger is teaching me how to walk. “Just walk behind me,” he says. “Just watch my feet. You should come down with your heels, then ball, then toe. Not flopping in a circle.” He has to go soon, he says, so we make our way to the other side of the gym, and Schnellenberger is ready for the end of his workout. Time to rehab his bum shoulders. He walks over to the lat pulldown machine, the one with the long grey bar up top, meant for back and shoulder exercises and places the weight on its lowest setting. “All I’m gonna do here is hang,” he says. And in the back corner of the gym, sitting backwards on the machine, Schnellenberger is literally hanging from the top bar, just relaxing. He increases the weight, begins to swing his shoulders right to left. Up goes the weight again. Finally, once more. He struggles with it. “I’m just trying to show off now, huh?” he asks. Schnellenberger’s ready to leave now. He says goodbye to nearby students, most glancing over at the spectacle throughout, and he makes his way outside of the gym. “Good seeing you,” Schnellenberger says, extending his arm. He walks away gingerly, breaking a sweat.
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Understanding By Dylan Bouscher Photos by Michelle Friswell Managing Editor Photo Editor
Robert Huffman’s skimming down the shore of a deserted beach. It’s the summer after his freshman year at FAU and he’s down in Cabo San Lucas to catch some waves. It’ll be a couple years before the tight-lipped kid from Tennessee rises up the ranks in Student Government to be the man in charge. Right now though, Huffman’s swimming out past the first few breaks for better waves. After waiting out a few of the weaker ones, he sees an 8 footer fast approaching — it’s his for the taking. He catches a side wave and rides it over to the one he wants. His heart is pounding. It is, after all, the biggest wave he’s tried in his life. The water starts to lift him and his board. Huffman rises with it, planting
SG’s lead man is quiet and reserved— but he’s changing
his feet and standing up with just enough caution to stay on, just enough speed to keep up. The wave is 10 feet tall now, at least it feels that way to Huffman. He looks out to shore, now back down at his board. It slips out from under him, vanishing into the swelling blue. His eyes close, he tumbles through the swirling sands and slams onto land. Huffman sees neither a sweet victory for challenging himself, nor a salty defeat for falling short of his own expectation. Instead he stands up — quiet and reserved — and grabs his board, going right back to skimming along.
Silence fills the Boca House chambers. Huffman has to give a report to the Boca House of Representatives once a week now that he’s president. There are 28 representatives with 28 pairs of judgemental eyes fixed on him as he walks over to the podium to speak. There’s little to no sunlight for Huffman in the chambers — this isn’t Cabo. And this isn’t the first time Huffman’s reported to the Boca House, but it is his first time reporting to them as student body president. His update is short — riddled with words Huffman stutters and stumbles over. He’s still finding his voice. It’s clear the most important part of Huffman’s job is bound to be the most challenging for him: speaking in public. CONTINUED ON PAGE 28
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Designed by Phaedra Blaize
His first report as president is so brief, the 28 members of the House let Huffman retreat to his chair in the farthest row back. On any other day they could have hammered him with questions and concerns. Not today, Huffman is too new to the position. His hard time with public speaking doesn’t go unnoticed by others in SG. Former student body president Ayden Maher used to count how many times Huffman said “um” in his reports. “We had a tough love kind of relationship,” Huffman says. “I don’t really like being in the spotlight or being in front of people,” he says. “I just like doing work behind the scenes.” So he ran to be the student body president — and won. It’s 7:45 on a cold Thursday morning in March. “Man, it was brisk,” Huffman recalls. His running mate, April Turner’s racing out her front door in yoga pants and a sweatshirt. She freezes in the doorway — struck with chills — and runs back in to grab a hoodie. “If the press is here and they get a picture of me and Robert,” Turner remembers, “they’re gonna be like, who brought the unabomber?” The duo’s plan is to meet up when the results are announced. Turner gets to campus before Huffman and starts walking up the stairs of the Student Union. “It was kind of like Christmas,” Turner says. The results of the elections are expected to be posted on the bulletin board in the SG office at exactly 8:10 a.m. Huffman’s already made plans with his girlfriend Taylor Stewart, win or lose. And the same with Turner and her boyfriend. If the pair wins the election, Huffman will text Stewart a smiley and Turner will call her boyfriend. The plans for losing aren’t on Huffman’s mind. They meet up downstairs in the parking lot in front of the Union after Turner sees the results posted and takes a picture of them for proof. Huffman sees for himself and lets out an emphatic yell. “He just started running around the parking lot,” Turner says. “He only went to the first two rows, but he was running the whole time. He was so excited.”
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Turner calls her boyfriend. “Hello, Ms. Vice President?” he answers. Huffman texts Stewart the smiley. “He’s the same guy he was before he won the election,” Boris Bastidas says. “But I think he realizes things have to be done better.” Bastidas is the House Speaker of the Boca House of Representatives. As speaker for more than a year, Bastidas saw the last student body president struggle with the same issues Huffman’s tackling now. The Boca House is the only one of the campus Houses in SG to hand the last two presidents a vote of no-confidence, the first step to impeachment. Now he’s up against a different kind of wave in the House. Huffman’s up against the confidence of the House reps — and their short fused tolerance for a president who hasn’t represented them. “He’s not one to play politics, and I respect him for that,” Bastidas says. “Huffman doesn’t care; He doesn’t have time for the politics.” Bastidas played a part in the vote of no confidence passed against Maher. It was just after Huffman had been elected and just before Maher left office. Bastidas and others in the House wanted to send a message to the next guy. “He’s different,” Bastidas says. “I see it all the time.” Huffman wields a power no other student at FAU does — a vote and seat on the university’s Board of Trustees. The Board comprises FAU’s 13 highest ranking officials. They vote on every major decision the university makes, so now Huffman has a voice — whether he wants it or not. Usually the student body president includes an update on the Board in his report to the Boca House during their meetings. When the last student body president missed multiple meetings and stopped sending reports, the House passed its vote of no-confidence. Yet Bastidas feels a camaraderie with Huffman — for
(ABOVE) SG president Robert Huffman listens to the Boca House of representatives as they vote on a bill (BELOW) Huffman when he was a year old and his school picture from the second grade. Photos courtesy of Huffman’s mother.
now. “We could be in the heat of battle and I could ask him to chill out and grab a beer, and he’d do it,” Bastidas says. Huffman just voted to raise the amount of money students pay in fees for student government and athletics. It’s Huffman’s first Board of Trustees meeting. He’s mixed about the decision. His eyebrows are pushed together for most of the meeting, revealing his inner conflict. His decision boils down to letting problems get worse for students without the money to fix them, or letting administration charge students a little more money to fix the problems. He had a cold that day, and barely spoke during the meeting. He’s still seeking out his voice. The Board meeting was held in a quiet room tucked away in the Education Building of the Jupiter campus. Rain fell the morning of the meeting and persisted until after it was over. “I’m looking to put the new guy in the hot seat,” Trustee William McDaniel said during the meeting. McDaniel is the only sitting trustee that is also a part of FAU’s faculty. Huffman approached me after it ended, but was quickly pulled away by the head administrator in student government, Charles Brown. Brown is the vice president of student affairs and the man who signs after Huffman on anything SG does. His plans for the weekend were to stay in all day and get better with his dog, Hurley. He’s a puggle with his own Facebook page, “Hurley Curley.” His dog seized up earlier that week and he took him to the vet. All Huffman looked forward to was resting up and getting better with Hurley, to some quiet. He missed that quiet. Robert Huffman’s climbing up a log in Murfreesboro, Tenn. He’s 5 years old and still living in the city he was born. Now he’s hanging by his underwear. He reached the top and slipped. Luckily, a branch snagged his undies before he hit the ground. His arms flail as he yells for help getting down. In a year’s time Huffman will be living in Baton Rouge, La. The year after that, Huffman will be going to school in Waco,
Texas. “We did move around a lot,” Huffman’s mother says. His parents split when Huffman was still in elementary school. Before the split, Huffman moved around because his dad took promotions and transfers at his job. Whenever his mom moved after the split, his dad moved too so he could stay close to his kids. “Moving around a lot sucked,” Huffman says. “But it was probably for the best and worst. It taught me to be flexible and independent and not to judge people. You get to know people for who they are and not where they’re from.” “I’ve learned to forget about things and move on.” Huffman went from Waco to Orlando, Fla., when he was 8 and stayed until halfway through sixth grade. Then Huffman went to Bowling Green, Ky., until the end of seventh. His dad moved to Columbus, Ga. “Six hours away was better than fifteen,” Huffman says. “He would drive 12 hours to see Robert play baseball,” his mom says of Huffman’s dad. Huffman would get excited and nervous when his dad went to games. “Especially if he didn’t know his dad
was coming and he saw him in the stands,” Huffman’s mom says. Then he settled back in Orlando for eighth grade and high school. Huffman wouldn’t be the new kid on the first day anymore — he was still quiet, still reserved.
Moving around a lot sucked, But it was probably for the best and worst. It taught me to be flexible and independent and not to judge people. You get to know people for who they are and not where they’re from.
We’re driving south on I-95 and I’m giving Huffman directions to the Davie campus. We’re on the way down to his first Board of Executives meeting as president. The Board of Executives comprises the SG president, vice president, campus governors and house speakers. He’s drumming his fingers on the
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steering wheel of his white Ford F-150 to songs on a CD Huffman burned in high school. Scheduling it in Davie is part of Huffman and Turner’s plan for transparency in their administration. No two meetings held back to back will be on the same campus in their term. When the meeting is over, Huffman comes over to me in the parking lot. He apologizes. He’s worried the day hasn’t been exciting enough to meet my expectations. Huffman and Turner each had very different approaches to running for office. Huffman thought long before announcing his candidacy, needing plenty of encouragement from others. Turner knew before him. It started as a joke. They were out one night with friends last December — someone asked Huffman if he’d considered running for president. Turner realized if she didn’t tell him now, she might never get it out. She nudged Huffman. “If you run,” she told him, “I’ll run with
you.” Huffman was still unsure. “He’s very methodical, always thinks before he says anything,” Turner says of her boss. After being encouraged by his friends, Huffman called both his parents for advice. “He’s always very careful when making decisions,” Huffman mom says. “He calls me for advice sometimes, but ultimately he makes them by himself.” But even after Huffman made up his mind to run, the pair weren’t sure they could win the election. They joked about it too. “I think we’ll make it to the runoff,” Huffman and Turner used to say. Of the 1,925 votes cast, the duo nabbed 1,123 of them — an overwhelming majority. They didn’t need a runoff election. Robert Huffman’s been in and out of meetings all day. He’s ready to go home, but not before we play a few holes on the Red Reef golf course. The sun is setting and the maintenance guy is following us in his cart. We have an hour left before the course closes for the night, but he wants Huffman and I to leave
At the Red Reef golf course, we exchange clubs. Huffman has been golfing since he was seven.
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— soon. So he starts bugging us with little comments at each hole. “Make sure you place the rake in the bunker,” he says to Huffman at one point. His reminder is already printed on the rake. Huffman looks over at me and asks if I want to keep playing or if we should just leave now. We agree to play a couple more holes. “I’ve never seen him mad,” Huffman’s mother says. His vice president, Turner, agrees. Huffman tees off, his ball sails through the air, landing right by the pin. It’s still not clear why the middle class, midwestern kid who doesn’t like speaking in public wants to be the student body president. “I like to challenge myself,” he says. “At first I was scared because I thought I sucked at speaking and I didn’t think I could do things like graduation speeches. Then I realized just because someone’s not perfect on the outside doesn’t mean they can’t be a leader.” He didn’t stutter. The president started to find his voice.
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