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Vol. 97 Issue 1

August Issue

FRESH START University takes steps to usher in new normal

COLLEGE HEIGHTS

HERALD


2 TABLE OF CONTENTS

The Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs

August Edition

Freshman experience

3

WKU Commons

4

Living learning communities

5

Things you missed this summer

6/7

Reclaiming the Hill

8/9

By Damon Stone

By Jake Jones

By Debra Murray

By Debra Murray

Invites the campus community to submit nominations for recipients of:

By Brittany Fisher

Letter from the editor

10

The unusual take

11

Nominations should be directed, in letter form or email, to Academic Affairs (academic.affairs@wku.edu).

Fun page

12

Nominations may be made by students, faculty, staff, administration, alumni, or friends of the University.

View from the bottom of the hill

13

Honorary Degrees

By Lily Burris

By Shane Stryker

https://www.wku.edu/senate/archives/ archives_2019/g-3-policy-1-4142honorary-degrees.pdf

Nomination deadline is Tuesday, September 14th.

By Kaden Gaylord-Day

What you missed in sports By Jake Moore

Mental health in the world of WKU Athletics By Jake Moore

COVER PHOTO BY BRITTANY FISHER Western Kentucky University students watch fireworks on South Lawn during TopperFest on Friday night, Aug. 20, 2021.

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NEWS 3

August Edition

Fresh faces, familiar traditions come to campus with incoming class By Damon Stone

stuff. It was definitely weird.” Freshman orientation for the class The freshman experience serves as of 2024, including MASTER Plan and the first glimpse into how college life the H4 retreat for honors students, had will unfold. been tweaked, shortened or moved The COVID-19 outbreak has online. drastically shaped and reshaped the The class of 2024 came to campus WKU experience as things continue to with the majority of their classes change and evolve. remaining online, with some still During all this time, previously in- taking in-person classes or attending person classes went entirely online. hybrid courses. For JC Perkins, a current junior, his “I would not say that, with my experience as a freshman started off freshman experience, there was not as normal, but took a drastic change in much experience,” Quiram said. “I the spring of 2020. know this is not the case for everyone, “It was chaotic for every person but [the majority] of my classes were moving in [before COVID-19], but it online. I feel like I didn’t gain much wasn’t as stressful because we didn’t experience from my online classes have to wear masks or anything,” because they were so disorganized.” Perkins said. “Before COVID, freshman The current freshman class year was really fun because we didn’t have a lot of restrictions. I had a lot of good experiences before COVID hit.” When students were sent home, the experience of freshman year was taken away from Perkins almost entirely. “I was deprived of all that social interaction because we were all required to stay at home,” Perkins said. “[COVID-19] has impacted the other freshman, and even the incoming freshmen, negatively because I have friends who are sophomores now who did MASTER Plan who did not have the same MASTER Plan that I had.” The class of 2024, in comparison to 2023, has grown more accustomed to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the experiences the class would typically have seen were altered. For Ayden Quiram, sophomore, his experience was a continuation of the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic. “It was strange because it was the later peak of COVID,” Quiram said. “Moving in, I thought we would be sent back home in two weeks because of COVID, so I didn’t bring most of my

experienced the most familiar version of MASTER Plan since the pandemic. Last year’s hybrid structure disappeared as more students received vaccinations, allowing in-person events to return with masks. The return of a more normal MASTER Plan is a hopeful sign of a more normal school year. Katie Pigg, freshman, was happy with the move-in. The campus she’s entering resembles the typical college experience more than anytime since the pandemic began. “It’s more normal than it has been in the past year,” Pigg said. “The whole mask thing is not too much of a problem because we get to have a normal year. I feel like Western makes sure that you’re not [moving

in] on your own, like they do have opportunities such as MASTER Plan where everyone’s doing it together.” Leann Lyon, an incoming freshman, is similarly optimistic about her upcoming time on campus thanks to programs such as MASTER Plan. “I haven’t met a person here that’s not very nice,” Lyon said. “[With MASTER Plan], the school really has ways to connect freshmen [with] food trucks and music on the South Lawn, so it’s really cool. I would say it’s going pretty good so far.”

News reporter Damon Stone can be reached at damon.stone314@topper. wku.edu.

BRITTANY FISHER

Students sit outside on South Lawn during Topper Fest on Friday, Aug. 20, 2021.


4 NEWS

August Edition

WKU Commons sees delays, expected to be completed in the fall By Jake Jones

The WKU Commons aims to bring food, social gatherings and learning opportunities under one roof. Construction is still underway on the project at Helm Library and will open sometime this fall, Director of Media Relations Jace Lux said. The Commons’ dining options will include Panda Express, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Spencer’s Coffee and Rising Rolls. It will also host rotating vendors that will switch out every six weeks. The first selection will be Tavolino’s Fresh Italian Fare, Ever Grains’ Food for Wellness and Barbecue District’s Fire It Up Grill. The first floor of Helm, where WKU originally played basketball, will contain dining options and eating space. The second floor will hold Spencer’s Coffee and study spaces. The project was projected to open just in time for the new fall semester to begin, but construction stalled due to the material and labor shortages brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Lux said these delays are like nothing the university has ever experienced before. “The goal has always been to have the Commons open during the fall semester,” Lux said. “Unfortunately, these dynamics have caused an adjustment to the timeline for the Commons as well.” Lux said construction is continuing daily to ensure that the Commons will be open for students during the

fall semester. President Timothy Caboni feels the project is in a good place despite the later than expected opening date. “I’m excited about that, and really pleased with the WKU Restaurant Group’s creative work to bring food trucks to the top of the hill,” Caboni said in his meeting with the Herald Editorial Board. With the addition of Spencer’s Coffee to the top of the hill, Caboni called coffee shops the “library of the future.” “We were seeing many more students and faculty […] gathering at Spencer’s downtown than we were in the old library,” Caboni said. While he is sad to see Garrett go, Caboni said he is excited that WKU decided to use its resources for a “crucially important space.” Several food trucks have made their mark near the Commons area to make up for the closures of restaurants that will be housed in the Commons once construction is completed. These food trucks will include Que Pasa Tacos, Cassady’s Real Smoke BBQ and the Pie Queen of Bowling Green. “We’re excited to offer a variety of local favorites,” Lux said. Students will be allowed to use their meal plan dollars, dining dollars, Big Red dollars and meal swipes to eat at the food trucks, as well as cash and credit cards. News reporter Jake Jones can be reached at jacob.jones408@topper. wku.edu.

Photo by Debra Murray On June 9, construction on the WKU Commons at Helm Library made progress. However, the Commons will not open until later this Fall due to delays.

Feeling lost or overwhelmed about your place in this world?

There is hope for the future. For info on the College Ministry, contact Brian and Carolletta at collegeandcareergbcky@gmail.com 110 Mark Trail, Bowling Green www.GraceBaptistBG.com (270) 781-5355


NEWS 5

August Edition

Living learning communities bring a new sense of home to WKU By Debra Murray

Students are able to apply for their LLC while they apply for housing. The opening of Regents and Normal Students list their two preferences, and Halls created space for 22 living learn- their application then goes through a ing communities tasked with connect- committee. ing students with similar academic “We’ve changed our housing apgoals or personal interests. plication so LLCs are actually the first Housing and Residential Life’s goal thing they see after they put in their for the first official year of LLCs was demographic information,” Hooks to have 40% of all first-year students said. “We know how important LLCs join LLCs; however, only 35% have, are. We really want to get it in their according to Kirsten Hooks, program faces. It’ll pop up if they have a desigspecialist for the LLCs. nated major already.” Hooks said 18 months of planning Faculty fellows are expected to went into creating the communities. complete office hours and host events There are currently 13 academic for students. Both Normal and Regents and six interest-based LLCs. Academic Halls, the new residence halls with LLCs have a set of courses for students LLCs, have office spaces available for to take with their peers. faculty fellows to utilize. “Students who participate in an LLC “They have intentional goals and also take at least one class together; objectives they have to meet in terms you stand to benefit from access to a of succeeding academically, socially built-in peer study group,” Hooks said and giving students a sense of belongvia email. “LLC participants benefit ing on campus,” Hooks said. from special programming (activities Beckie Stobaugh, associate profesand events) designed exclusively for sor in the School of Teacher Educamembers of the LLC.” tion, is one of two faculty fellows for Hooks said HRL are working on “Top of the Class,” the education living how to further organize LLCs into learning community. Stobaugh said students’ time at WKU, similar to the the LLCs will help students Intercultural Student Engagement to become involved in Center (ISEC) LLC, which plans for their major sooner. freshmen to live in Hugh Poland Hall, then move to Meredith Hall for their sophomore year. “It’s difficult to organize for LLCs after their sophomore year since so many students move off campus,” Hooks said.

“What I love about the living learning community is that I think the value is just building relationships earlier,” Stobaugh said. “Anytime you have a large campus, I think the challenge is how do you make groupings of people, how do you facilitate that. Often in the past, those connections have been made much later into their major.” Each faculty fellow will host events for the students. For “Top of the Class” students, they will attend a Halloween ball, “School of Rock” movie night, and more throughout the semester. “There’s a lot of cool events tailored to just this group to build camaraderie, to build community among them,” Stobaugh said. “Of course, they’re taking classes together, so I think it’ll be a good thing.” While most of the living learning communities are new, the business

LLC is going into its fourth year and will expand within the new Regents Hall. Business LLC Faculty Fellow Ron Rhoades said the 2021-22 cohort is more than twice the size of the past three years. The business LLC is funded by WKU alumni Gary and Gail Broady, so there is no additional cost for students. “I think a broader goal is to achieve, basically a family, a living learning community,” Rhoades said. “As the students get to know each other and take classes together, form study groups together, all living on the same floor of the dorm becomes a big extended family. We’ve had that experience in the business living learning communities for the last three years, and we expect that to continue.” Digital News Editor Debra Murray can be reached at debra.murray940@ topper.wku.edu. Follow her on Twitter @debramurrayy.

Photo by Anna Leachman


6 NEWS

August Edition

What you missed on the Hill this summer By Debra Murray

WKU is a constantly evolving community and change doesn’t stop when the dorms empty out. Numerous faculty, staff and administration continue their work when the summer begins to prepare for the return of students in the fall.

First Year Village opens to students

Two pod-style residence halls, Normal and Regents Hall in the First Year Village, opened this fall and will now house freshmen in the new Living Learning Communities. Regents can house up to 375 students, and Normal can house up to 260 students. Regents has Java City and The Spread, ensuring that students can eat without even leaving the building. Normal has three rehearsal spaces students are able to reserve for music practice. Both residence halls have classrooms and offices for faculty fellows to utilize.

Northeast Hall renamed to Munday Hall

The Naming and Symbols Task Force suggested the renaming of several WKU entities. President Timothy Caboni approved the renaming of Northeast to Munday Hall, after the first Black student at WKU, Margaret Munday. She studied music and graduated in 1960 before going on to teach at every school in Logan County. “I’m really excited that we’ve honored Ms. Munday,” Caboni said. “Her contribution to this campus was remarkable. She was a trailblazer. It was not easy for her, but she persisted through challenges for years not just academically, but also socially, and got her degree.”

Photo by Jack Dobbs

Demolition work on the Garrett Conference Center continued Thursday, as WKU moves forward on various projects around campus before the start of the Fall semester. The Conference Center, which opened in 1953, was expanded in 1964, according to the Kentucky Museum. The building’s footprint will be filled by green space, according to the university’s Campus Master Plan.

Garrett Conference Center demolition continues

The demolition of Garrett Conference Center began over the summer. Garrett was home to the Forensics team, Java City, Panda Express and all the dining options at the top of the Hill. Java City has been moved to Regents Hall and Panda Express will be in the Commons once it opens. The building that was once home to military sciences and the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences is currently being demolished after being mothballed in 2019. “It’s always sad to lose a building,” Bob Skipper, former WKU director of media relations said. “It’s ironic that while we’re losing a building, the Helm is getting its third life.”

The Commons nears completion

The Commons, a library with dining options, is expected to be completed during the fall semester. The “intellectual hub,” as WKU’s Commons website calls it, will feature a Spencer’s Coffee, Moe’s Southwest Grill and Rising Rolls, similar to a Panera Bread. “This is not about a physical structure,” President Timothy Caboni said at an event in July 2020. “This is about a place, on top of the hill, for our faculty, staff and students to gather together to engage deeply and to have difficult and meaningful conversation;s and what better way to do that than over a meal?”

Photo by Gabi Broekema

The lawn behind Normal Hall has yet to be finished as of Aug. 22, 202


August Edition Vaccine Incentive Contest

NEWS 7

WKU recently announced a vaccine incentive lottery to encourage faculty, staff and students to receive a vaccine. David Oliver, director of environmental, health and safety, said in an email prizes will include full time in-state tuition scholarships totaling to $5,496, $500 book scholarships and 11” iPad Pros. The first drawing will be the week of Aug. 30 and the contest will run until Oct. 1, with winners announced each Friday. “We also know there’s hesitancy, so I would encourage anyone who’s hesitant to please check with their health care provider about vaccination,” Caboni said in August at the Herald Editorial meeting. “But we also think that providing incentive for people to be vaccinated and [to] make themselves eligible for these prizes is important.”

Digital News Editor Debra Murray can be reached at debra.murray940@ topper.wku.edu. Follow her on Twitter @debramurrayy Photo by Debra Murray Vaccines are available throughout Bowling Green at different Walgreens locations, CVS Pharmacies, and the Medical Center at Bowling Green. Many places allow people to make appointments online.

Masks required on campus

While many were hoping for a full return to normal this fall, masks are required indoors in all WKU buildings as of Aug. 9. “I know this will come as a disappointment to some but [it] will allow us to continue with a normal semester in light of the spread of the Delta variant in our communities,” Caboni said in the email when he announced the mask mandate.

Retirement Buyout

As of June 30, 125 WKU employees took the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program, meaning they were able to retire early with an up-front compensation for a year-long salary, limited at $100,000. Several well-known figures at WKU retired through this buyout, including Bob Skipper, former director of media relations, Larry Snyder, former dean of Potter College of Arts and Letters, and Tony Glisson, former director of human resources. “I love the university and the people that I’ve worked with,” Skipper said at the retiree reception in June. “This is truly a second family. We’ve had some great times. We’ve been through some awful times, but we made it through.”

Photo by Gabi Broekema Formerly known as Northeast Hall, WKU decided to rename the dorm Munday Hall in honor of the first Black graduate of WKU on Aug. 22, 2021.

Academic Changes

At the August Board of Regents meeting, the regents approved three new undergraduate certificates in floristry, athletic coaching and Spanish language, as well as a new degree in legal studies. All academic changes are implemented for the Fall 2021 semester. The undergraduate floristry certificate requires 15 hours to complete. The certificate is meant to enhance majors including horticulture, hospitality and business. The undergraduate athletic coaching certificate requires 12 hours to complete and is designed to help students develop coaching and teaching skills that can be used in schools, businesses or community agencies. The Spanish language certificate requires 18 hours with varying language levels. The certificate will be useful for students in many different programs from healthcare to business. The legal studies degree requires students to take a mix of political science, history and professional writing course. The degree requires 18 core courses hours, 18 elective hours and a second major, minor or certificate.

Photo by Gabi Broekema Flowers bloom in front of Western Kentucky University’s Floral Design Training Center on Aug. 22, 2021.


PHOTO

Left: Western Kentucky University students watch fireworks on South Lawn during Topper Fest on Friday nig


ght. Top: Members of Delta Zeta celebrate rush week outside of the Delta Zeta chapter house.

August Edition

WKU community advisor Brianna Wright, and resident advisors Victoria Branch, Calysta Fuller and Syrenity Smith set up boxes to aid freshman moving into Pearce Ford Tower.

RECLAIMING

THE HILL Words and photos by Brittany Fisher

WKU freshmen arrived on campus this school year wearing face masks, but carrying more hope for normalcy than any class since the pandemic began. MASTER Plan, a week-long event of freshman activities, began with the return of the traditional class year photo and an introduction to a relatively normal campus life. The week closed out with Topper Fest, a new back-to-school event featuring food trucks and fireworks. Events outside freshman introductions closely mirrored their

pre-pandemic forms as well. The Big Red Marching Band kicked off their season and prepared to return to the field for live performances, a welcomed change from being relegated to the stands like last year. Sororities also returned to in-person rush week events and the traditional running home to sorority row. Full auditoriums and lecture halls will greet students as they begin their classes on Monday, once again bringing everyone face-to-face with their peers.

Far Left: The Big Red Marching Band rehearses for the first time of the season as a full band on Aug. 15, 2021 in the Music Hall at WKU with Dr. Matthew McCurry as conductor. (Photo by Allie Hendricks), Left: Western Kentucky University senior Meral Abdelgawald tosses a football into a net during Topper Fest.


10 COMMENTARY

Print edition published monthly by WKU Student Publications at Western Kentucky University. First copy: free | Additional copies: $1

EDITORIAL BOARD Lily Burris Editor-in-chief Michael J. Collins Content manager Gabi Broekema Multimedia manager Jacob Latimer Projects editor Debra Murray Digital news editor

Anna Leachman Photo editor Robin Robinson Social media manager Megan Fisher Design editor Jake Moore Sports editor Shane Stryker Commentary editor

OTHER LEADERS AND ADVISERS Ashlyn Crawford Cherry Creative director Carrie Pratt Herald adviser

Chuck Clark Student Publications director Will Hoagland Advertising adviser

POLICIES

Opinions expressed in the College Heights Herald are those of student editors and journalists and do not necessarily represent the views of WKU. Student editors determine all news and editorial content, and reserve the right to edit or reject submissions.

CONTACT US

REPORT AN ERROR: herald.editor@wku.edu 270-745-5044 NEWSROOM: herald.news@wku.edu 270-745-2653 or 270-745-5044 ADVERTISING: herald.advertising@wku.edu 270-745-6285 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: herald.opinion@wku.edu ON CAMPUS: Adams-Whitaker Student Publications Center, 1660 Normal St. ONLINE: WKUHerald.com NEWSLETTER: WKUHerald.com/newsletter SOCIAL MEDIA: • Twitter: @wkuherald, @wkuheraldsports • Facebook, Instagram: WKUHerald • YouTube: wkuheraldvideo • Tiktok: wkuherald

August Edition

Welcome back and welcome home! I’m so glad to have everyone back here on the hill! I know these past 18 months have come with a lot of changes and a lot of surprises, but nothing warms my heart more than to see campus come to life with the Hilltopper Spirit for a new school year. Speaking of changes and surprises, the Herald has a few to throw at you. Instead of releasing a new product each week, we’ll be releasing one paper a month — think more news magazine and less newspaper. We’re planning to theme each issue around one topic and cover it from news to sports to commentary. This month’s theme is a classic — the Back to School edition. We’re giving more and more attention to our digital side. Our daily newsletter will be coming straight to your inbox each day to keep you up to date on the latest WKU happenings. If you don’t receive the newsletter, I highly encourage you to sign up! We have our subscription box on the front page of our website,

wkuherald.com. We’re also working to have new stories and digital content on our page everyday. We cover everything ranging from administration, campus trends, sports and new programs. We’re constantly looking for stories and information to share with our audience, so don’t be afraid to send our teams an email at herald. news@wku.edu or herald.sports@ wku.edu. Another digital effort we’re taking is doing more work on our social media. You can find us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok at @wkuherald. Follow us on these platforms to find the latest news in your feed. The Herald is more than just a newspaper and a newsletter. We’re also a place for you to hear from the community, so we’re working on growing our commentary and community content. Want to submit a letter to the editor? Want to write about the latest issues on campus? Want to hear our thoughts on things happening? Send an email to herald. opinion@wku.edu; we want to hear

from our audience. In sticking with the theme of making changes and becoming a better version of ourselves, we’re also always looking for more people to join our staff! We want all types of people with all types of ideas working with us. If you want to be a part of what I consider the coolest group around, join us by filling out our application at wkuherald.com/ apply. Also, feel free to swing by the Adams-Whitaker Student Publications Building. There’s almost always someone around to talk to and answer questions. I can’t wait to see where this year takes the Herald, the university and the world. I know each day feels like a crazy time to be alive, but I’ve decided to be glad to live it! If you ever have anything you want to reach out about or ask me questions, feel free to reach me at lily.burris203@topper.wku.edu or herald.editor@wku. edu. I want to be open to you all. I hope you enjoy your time on the Hill!


COMMENTARY 11

August Edition

The usual take on my unusual college experience By Shane Stryker

It should come as no surprise that the past 18 months have been unusual. It’s hard for me to remember a time before the COVID-19 pandemic was a relevant theme in all of our lives, and it feels as if we’ve almost become comfortable in our socially distanced and mask-wearing environment. If you really sit back and think about it, you should come to realize the last time WKU was operating normally the current senior class was in the spring semester of their sophomore year. On top of that, the current juniors only had a single normal semester before the pandemic, and the current freshman and sophomores won’t experience a normal life on the hill until things get back to normal. Even before enrolling in WKU, the current sophomores had their senior year cut short, while the current freshman spent their final year of high school distanced and wearing masks. To be short, our previous situation as a whole has been nothing close to ideal. This all begs the question of what it will be like when we do finally return

to normalcy. The reality is by that time, most of the students on campus who remember a pre-pandemic WKU will have graduated and moved on from our home in Bowling Green. Those who replace them will have spent the last couple of years in a similar boat. Whether or not they were a part of the WKU community doesn’t mean they won’t be carrying the baggage of the pandemic along with them when they finally do arrive. So what does that mean for the future students of WKU? We have all been living semi-isolated lives for the past year and a half, with no clear understanding of when it will all end or what it will be like when everything is normal again. At this point, it’s kind of hard to even remember what normal is. There’s a common understanding that when you upset the rhythm of something, it takes a while for everything that was disrupted to catch back up. I would argue that we have finally adjusted to living in a global pandemic over the past 18 months. Through our adjustment, we have all had to do difficult things. I would be surprised if anyone told me that they are

even close to the person that they were when the pandemic began. That being said, it may be quite jarring when we finally do return to a normal environment here on the hill, and that’s okay. We need to be able to recognize how far we have come and what it’s taken to get to this point. Once we do that, we can be proud of ourselves as a community and reflect on everything that has happened in a somewhat positive light. However, that doesn’t mean this transition is going to be easy. We’ve lived in a world that none of us would have ever expected to live in, and that takes a large toll. It is vital for us as a community to really assess how this pandemic has affected us, which should come as no surprise due to the many mental health issues that came to light throughout the endless COVID-19 media coverage. When a wound goes untreated, it can become infected. If you leave something sitting around, it’ll collect dust. We need to be sure that we are being attentive to the problems that we’ve had to deal with throughout the course of this pandemic, because if we are absent,

more problems can arise. With this acknowledgement, the transition back into normal life will be so much easier. Instead of surviving the pandemic, we should feel as if it's something we conquered. Not on our own, but with those around us. That’s what I'm really trying to say here. I am incredibly proud of how much we have grown as a community in the past year and a half, whether it be from conquering the pandemic, bringing attention to social injustice, or making it through three very difficult semesters. There’s still work to be done, and I know that, but a new school year is upon us and I am incredibly excited to see how we navigate whatever may come our way. Maybe I’m just romanticising things, but I do know one thing for sure. We are Hilltoppers, and we were made to conquer the difficult path ahead of us. Shane Stryker can be reached at shane.stryker614@topper.wku.edu. Follow him on Twitter @shanestryker.


Fun Page

WKU Herald 8/16/21 Trivia Puzzle

WKU Herald 8/16/21 Crossword Across

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1 4 7 11 13 15 16 17 18 19 22 23 24 26 27 29 32 34

1. In what year was the Berlin Wall built? (a) 1961 (b) 1956 (c) 1968 2. The U.S. bought the Virgin Islands from what country? (a) Great Britain (b) Belgium (c) Denmark 3. Tollbooth was an infamous 18th century prison in what city? (a) Halifax (b) Edinburgh (c) Dublin 4. When was Nelson Mandela sentenced to prison? (a) 1975 (b) 1959 (c) 1964 5. What queen banned the use of mirrors? (a) Elizabeth I (b) Mary (c) Victoria 6. What explorer first entered San Francisco Bay in 1579? (a) Henry Hudson (b) Francis Drake (c) Amerigo Vespucci 7. Baby Doc Duvalier was the dictator of what country? (a) Haiti (b) Senegal (c) Algeria 8. Herodotus is known as the father of what? (a) Theater (b) Science (c) History 9. What country invented venetian blinds? (a) USA (b) Japan (c) Italy 10. Botany Bay was the first penal colony in what Australian state? (a) New South Wales (b) Queensland (c) Tasmania


August Edition

By Kaden Gaylord-Day

View from the Bottom of the Hill: Miss gameday? Get vaccinated

the first step is to get vaccinated. You probably didn’t want to be masked this Conference USA made the decision semester and had already written off to cancel all spring sports on March COVID-19 as a thing of the past, but 12, 2020 due to the COVID-19 the university recognizes the delta pandemic that was almost 18 months variant of the virus as a serious threat ago. and is pushing masks and vaccines We were lucky enough to find ways for a reason. WKU has even created a to put a product on the field while lottery where students can win prizes still prioritizing player and fan safety, for taking their shots. but it was still a strange, stressful and If all of that still isn’t enough uncomfortable year. to convince you, two big-time SEC Stadiums that would normally rock schools led by two big-time SEC and rumble with cheers after highlight- coaches are already leading the reel plays were muted due to capacity way back to normal by encouraging limitations. We could no longer access vaccinations among their programs. players in the same way and had to Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin conduct awkward interviews through has announced that 100% of his Zoom, leading to all kinds of techfootball roster has received their shots, related headaches. Fans would attend an impressive feat considering the games in hopes of watching their Rebels play in a state that ranks near favorite players only to find out on the bottom nationally in vaccination game day they would not be playing rates. due to a positive COVID-19 test. In an interview with ESPN, Nobody wants to go back to that. Alabama head coach Nick Saban But a year later, masks are back after revealed that all but one player on his a brief summer hiatus and we find team has received a vaccination — in ourselves in the same precarious the state that’s dead last in the United position even though there is an States for vaccination rates. easy and accessible way to prevent a Remember what the atmosphere pandemic relapse from happening in Diddle Arena felt like when the Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson. Hilltoppers defeated Wisconsin back Take your pick. in 2018? Or when Lucky Jackson The point is, if we want life to took a pass from Ty Storey 71 yards start trending back towards normal, for a touchdown against Charlotte in

2019, causing the Houch to erupt? Or when the Lady Toppers hosted the NCAA tournament that same year and completely sold out the arena, allowing head coach Travis Hudson to experience the massive crowd he’s wanted to see his whole life? We can ensure that special moments like these can happen this

SPORTS 13

fall by making the responsible choice to get vaccinated. The quicker that happens, the sooner we can return to enjoying sports the way we’ve been dreaming of for the past year and a half. Kaden Gaylord-Day can be reached at kaden.gaylord559@topper.wku.edu. Follow him on Twitter @_KLG3.

COURTESY OF WKU ATHLETICS

Fall 2021 Tuition and Fee Payment Reminder Due date for Payment of Tuition and Fees for the Fall 2021 semester is:

September 16, 2021

*Failure to submit payment will result in a Financial Obligation hold.

For additional information, please refer to: www.wku.edu/bursar


14 SPORTS

August Edition

What you missed: WKU Athletics’ busy summer and By Jake Moore

Whether it’s your first time on the hill or your fourth, keeping up with Hilltopper sports can be a daunting task. Here’s what you need to know to catch up on WKU Athletics. FOOTBALL: While not technically a summertime addition, WKU’s shiny new starting quarterback Bailey Zappe has been causing quite a stir among the Hilltopper faithful all offseason. Zappe, a graduate transfer from Houston Baptist University, put up remarkable numbers in the COVID-19 shortened 2020-21 season. In just four games, Zappe threw for 1,833 yards and 15 touchdowns with just one interception to go along with a 66% completion rate. Zappe didn’t come to the Hill alone - fellow former Huskies Jerreth and Josh Sterns followed their signal caller to WKU to play under offensive coordinator Zach Kittley, the man who ran the trio’s offense from 2018-2020. The Hilltoppers also welcomed two more transfers back to their hometowns with the addition of Navy fullback Jamale Carothers and Austin Peay wide receiver DeAngelo Wilson,

the 2020-21 Ohio Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Year. The pair played together as Purples at Bowling Green High School. A pair of impact players from last year’s roster have found homes in the NFL; safety Devon Key has joined the Kansas City Chiefs and offensive lineman Jordan Meredith now wears the blue and gold for the Los Angeles Rams with both players signing on as undrafted free agents. MEN’S BASKETBALL: Perhaps the biggest WKU-related news of the summer was the selection of Hilltopper fan-favorite Charles Bassey by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2021 NBA Draft. The center from Lagos, Nigeria was the 53rd player taken off the board He wasn’t the only former Hilltopper to make the jump to pro ball - Taveion Hollingsworth signed with the Arkadia Traiskirchen Lions, a European basketball club based out of Traiskirchen, Austria. The Hilltoppers will also be without forward Carson Williams, who left the Hill to pursue a career in the NFL. Veteran guard Josh Anderson will be back for his fifth year on the Hill and will serve as a mentor to both

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COURTESY OF CONFERENCE USA

the young players and new transfers alike as the Hilltoppers enter the season without the talents of Bassey, Hollingsworth and Williams. That leaves three large holes in the Hilltoppers’ 2021-22 roster, but the program brought in a handful of pieces to help fill those gaps. WKU welcomed transfers Jaylen Butz from DePaul, Jairus Hamilton from Maryland and the top-rated JUCO player in the nation Jamarion Sharp. Sharp, listed as a seven-foot-five center, is the tallest player in program history. The Hilltopper faithful will finally get to see WKU’s newest blue-chip talent in action this fall when freshman guard Zion Harmon, a four-star, top50 prospect according to ESPN, takes the court in the red and white for the first time. Keep an eye on fellow guard Dayvion McKnight, who averaged 5.8 points, 3.8 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game in 2020-21 and looks to follow up his breakout freshman season with a solid sophomore campaign. WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: The Women’s Basketball program welcomed a bevy of new talent to its roster ahead of the 2021-22 season.

Joining the team are freshmen Maya Meredith, Jenna Walker, Macey Blevins, Alexis Mead and Jaylin Foster as well as transfers Gabby McBride from Panola College and Ana Teresa Faustino from Oregon State. Senior Meral Abdelgawad and head coach Greg Collins will help shape a young roster with less experience than recent WKU teams as the Lady Toppers look to improve on their 7-16 (6-10, C-USA) record from last season. BASEBALL: The Hilltoppers ended the 2021 season with a 27-29 (15-17, C-USA) record and qualified for the sixth seed in the Conference USA Championship, the second conference tournament WKU has appeared in since joining the league in 2015. Despite dropping their first game against Southern Miss, the Hilltoppers rebounded with a walk-off, 10th inning victory over UTSA in the consolation bracket. Former Hilltopper Jake Sanford made some noise in the minor leagues this summer - the first Triple Crown winner in C-USA history hit seven home runs and turned in an OPS of .808 across 52 games with the Tampa Tarpons, earning a promotion from low-A to high-A ball in the New York


SPORTS 15

August Edition

what you need to know for fall

COURTESY OF CHRIS KOHLEY/WKU ATHLETICS

COURTESY OF STEVE ROBERTS/WKU ATHLETICS

Yankees farm system. Sanford is hoping to become the first Hilltopper to crack the major leagues since Steve Stemle in 2005.

take home Olympic hardware.

VOLLEYBALL: In a nod to one of WKU’s most decorated athletes, Conference USA SOFTBALL: renamed its Volleyball Player of the The WKU Softball program Year Award after Alyssa Cavanaugh to accomplished a little bit of everything honor the legendary outside hitter’s over the summer at home as well as legacy both on and off the court. abroad. Cavanaugh, a four-time AllBack in May, the Hilltoppers American during her collegiate career, knocked off rival UAB by a score of passed away in December of 2020 13-4 in front of their home crowd to after a battle with acute lymphoblastic secure both their first conference title leukemia. The Alyssa Cavanaugh and NCAA Tournament berth since Player of the Year Award will ensure 2015. that she is remembered for years to Head coach Amy Tudor and her come. squad then traveled to Athens, Georgia The Hilltopper roster from last to compete in the Athens Regional, season will be back in its entirety defeating UNC Greensboro 8-4 and and head coach Travis Hudson taking the 2021 ACC champion Duke will welcome four new freshmen to Blue Devils to extra innings before his program - Callie Bauer, Kelsey falling in the 12th frame. Brangers, Katie Howard and Kennadee Larissa Franklin, a WKU Softball Coyle - infusing even more talent into alumna who played on the Hill in 2015, a squad that made its first-ever Sweet kept the wins coming at the Tokyo Sixteen appearance last year. The Olympics. She helped Softball Canada program wrapped up its season back earn a bronze medal, becoming the in April and will be coming off of its third Hilltopper in school history to shortest offseason ever.

SOCCER: The Lady Toppers will be without their senior captain Ambere Barnett this season as the midfielder recovers from an ACL injury, but Barnett still earned honors over the summer break. The Rockport, Indiana native was named to the United Soccer Coaches All-American Third Team, becoming the first ever All-American selection in program history. The Hilltoppers were picked to finish second in the C-USA East Division, receiving the same amount of votes as Charlotte. Defender Avery Jacobsen was also tabbed as a member of the Conference USA All-Preseason team and will look to guide her roster to another division title. TRACK & FIELD: WKU’s Track & Field programs were busy over the summer, as sprinters Marlowe Mosley and Alexis Williams both qualified for the NCAA Championship East Regional Preliminary in Jacksonville, Florida at the end of their season. Mosley and freshman thrower Kaison Barton both landed on the podium at the C-USA Outdoor Championships, capping off a successful year for the program. Multiple program alumni - Jessica Ramsey, Gavin Smellie, Martin Owusu-

Antwi and Michelle Finn - qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. Those four, along with Larissa Franklin, made up the largest set of Hilltoppers to ever compete at any Olympic Games. Sports Editor Jake Moore can be reached at charles.moore275@topper. wku.edu. Follow him on Twitter @Charles_JMoore.

COURTESY OF WKU ATHLETICS ARCHIVE


16 SPORTS

August Edition

‘It’s OK right now to not be OK:’ Mental health in the world of WKU athletics

By Jake Moore

As WKU students and athletes return to the hill after a turbulent 18 months, it’s important to keep in mind all the pressures and stressors everyone has been facing. Athletes and their mental health has become a national story in recent years. Simone Biles’ decision to withdraw from the women’s gymnastics final during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to prioritize her mental health came as a shock to many. From an outsider’s perspective, Biles is an athlete at the peak of her athletic ability who was on track to add more gold to her collection of medals why would anyone step away from that opportunity? There is a simple answer. Mentality is everything for athletes, and mental health is equally as important as physical health. Dr. Rick Grieve, a psychology professor at WKU who helped develop a mental health screening method for student-athletes, broke down how the physical and mental must coexist. “We like to think athletes can tune out outside distractions when they hit the field, but, more and more, we are finding out that is not the case,” Grieve said via email. “There is an old Roman saying, ‘mens sana in corpore sano’— a sound mind in a sound body. We have to have both in order for athletes to

perform at a high level.” This sentiment is the reason why trainers and coaches have begun to turn to professionals in the realm of sport psychology in order to better care for their athletes’ mentalities - a side of sport that fans don’t normally get to see. For WKU Athletics, that professional is Dr. Joseph Case, a sports psychologist and the coordinator of TOPCARE. TOPCARE is a program that offers WKU student-athletes resources for a variety of mental health issues, from wrestling with perfectionism and fighting academic stress to eating disorders and depression. “It was once believed that athletes, because of their participation in sport and other social benefits, somehow they had some kind of immunity to mental health concerns,” Case said, addressing

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elite athletes speaking about their struggles, Kevin Love comes to mind… more athletes are willing to step up and seek help.” “We’ve had a footprint in every single program, some more than others,” Case shared. Case made it clear that athletes shouldn’t shy away from seeking help for mental health problems - it’s better to address your health as soon as possible rather than putting it on the back burner until you’ve already become COURTESY OF WKU ATHLETICS overwhelmed. “A lot of times we treat mental health why there is such a need for a program or sports psychology like it’s a fire like TOPCARE. “What we’re seeing now extinguisher,” Case said. “We wait until is the recognition [that] the research there’s a big fire, then we pull the alarm is finally catching up to what’s really and try to put the fire out… but we don’t happening.” have to wait for the house to be on fire Case is hopeful that the stigmas before we do something.” surrounding mental health will continue Case urges the WKU community to dissolve, noting how in recent years to take into account the pressures that he’s noticed an uptick in athletic people are under due to the COVID-19 personnel seeking out his department’s pandemic, preaching patience and services. Case also expressed his understanding gratitude to WKU Director of Athletics “As a community right now, try to Todd Stewart and President Timothy continue having grace and empathy Caboni for supporting the program as it and just try to remember the person grew. behind the performer,” Case said. “Just “The level of buy-in across campus normalizing that it’s OK right now to not and across programs has been be OK.” phenomenal,” Case said. “On the Sports Editor Jake Moore can be student side the stigma is still there. I reached at charles.moore275@topper. don’t know if it’s due to more and more wku.edu. Follow him on Twitter athletes coming forward or professional @Charles_JMoore.

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