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Nov. 15-Dec. 10, 2021

Volume 97, Issue 4

An inquiry into WKU’s administration after seasons of change





Nov. 15-Dec. 10, 2021 ‘An art, not a science’: As WKU enrollment decreases, other state universities see increases


Basketball Referee Basketball Scorekeepers Fitness Instructor Park Attendants Landscape Helper Volleyball Supervisor Laborers

• • • • • •

Greenskeeper Park Ranger Golf Shop Attendant Sub Fitness Instructor Police Cadet Recreation/Athletic Staff Assistants

By Lily Burris and Michael J. Collins

WKU committee issues NDAs to its members raising questions of legality By Jacob Latimer

Faculty and staff welfare surveys offer look into employee satisfaction By Alexandria Anderson

Being BRMB: WKU’s marching band adds to the energy of the game By Photo Staff

Revolutionary Women By Tess Killen

All qualified applicants will recieve consideration for employment without regard to race, religion, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability. The City of Bowling Green is an Equal Opportunity Employer and Drug-Free Workplace.

5 6/7 9 10/11

Opinion: Non-disclosure agreements have no place at a public university


Goodbye from the editor: To the Hill I love

By Lily Burris


Fun Page


Happening on the Hill: The last month at a glance


Grindstaff reflects on impressive freshman year on the Hill


By Herald Editoral Board

Interested applicants can apply online at or at the Human Resources Department in City Hall, 1001 College St, Bowling Green.


By Debra Murray and Jake Moore

By Piper McCoun

WKU defensive end tackles culinary arts

By Wyatt Sparkman

Former Hilltopper ace seeks new start away from the Hill By Nick Kieser


A pair of students makes their way down the hill on a crisp November Saturday morning.

17/18 19


Nov. 15-Dec. 10, 2021

‘An art, not a science’: As WKU enrollment decreases, other state universities see increases By Lily Burris and Michael J. Collins

Two of Kentucky’s three regional universities, WKU and Eastern Kentucky University, are experiencing continued downward enrollment trends over the last decade. In contrast, Northern Kentucky University, the other regional university, is experiencing an upward enrollment trend. For the 2020-2021 school year, WKU’s total enrollment was 17,518 students, according to data from the Council on Postsecondary Education. For the Fall 2021 semester, enrollment is 16,750 students, a 4% decrease from the previous year. Ethan Logan, vice president of Enrollment and Student Experience, described 2020 as a good year for enrollment. “There’s a lot of things that happened, I think, which contribute to that, but for the most part, it’s anecdotal,” Logan said. WKU’s enrollment totaled 21,048 in 2011-2012. That same year, EKU totaled 16,062 and NKU totaled 15,738. WKU’s enrollment peaked in 2012-2013 at 21,124 and has decreased since. In 2016-2017, EKU’s enrollment peaked at 16,881. Since then, enrollment has decreased to 13,953 for the Fall 2021 semester, according to an article by the Eastern Progress. NKU’s enrollment dipped in 20172018 to 14,488 total enrollment. It is the only regional comprehensive university to experience enrollment growth since that year, with total enrollment now at 16,212. In terms of participation and engagement, Logan said he thinks things are going well for WKU. He described the “funnel” when considering enrollment performance and consideration, a tool used to see how many possible students there are to how many actually attend the university.

Ryan Padgett, assistant vice president for enrollment and student success at NKU, said the university saw a decrease in enrollment of new freshmen and new transfers through the pandemic, but a steady increase in graduate students. Padgett said NKU’s graduate program makes up about 25% of the overall student body. WKU graduate students make up just under 14%, according to the Office of Institutional Research. Padgett said the push for online learning access at NKU before the pandemic ensured that the necessary infrastructure was already in place for the sudden transition to at-home classes in 2020. “We introduced this accelerated online approach to learning, and that took place about four or five years ago,” Padgett said. “Since then, that has grown significantly over the last few years. We’ve seen significant growth within that online learning, and I’d say that has really been a significant part of the growth that we’ve seen in our overall headcount for enrollment.” Online classes, especially within graduate levels, also allow NKU to expand its recruitment reach further away from campus, Padgett said. WKU announced the Hilltopper Guarantee last year, which waives tuition for all Pell Grant recipients, and the Border State Scholarship Program,

which provides in-state tuition to students from all seven of Kentucky’s border states. “I feel like those are scholarships deferred, right now, in that we saw some lift from them, but not the lift that we anticipated,” Logan said. “In the sense that, I think there’s a lot of COVID still impacting that conversation. I think they will see that grow, for sure.” Logan described the scholarships as a “long game” and not something that immediately “makes a splash.” He said the Hilltopper Guarantee had slightly fewer students than projected, and the Border State Scholarship Program had slightly more students. Emma Myers, a freshman nursing major from Nashville, Tennessee, said her decision to attend WKU largely came down to the discounted tuition from the Border State Scholarship Program. “I’m from Nashville, and most everyone goes to [University of Tennessee],” Myers said. “I almost went there, and then Western offered me a lot more money, and I get partial in-state tuition here.” Tennessee, Indiana and Illinois are the top three border states WKU receives students from. Logan believes that before he came here, WKU was focusing on metropolitan areas in border states, but the new scholarship provides further reach into more rural areas. While WKU, EKU and NKU are regional universities with comparable enrollment, UK and the University of Louisville are not. UK is the state’s flagship university, and UofL is a research university. Enrollment at UofL has stayed above 22,000 since at least 2011-2012. In the 2020-2021 school year, the enrollment increased to over 23,000. The Herald was not able to obtain data for the school’s Fall 2021 enrollment. UK grew by roughly 4,000 students in the last 10 years, the highest increase

of any public university in the state. The total enrollment from 2011-2012 was 28,094. There was a brief decrease in total enrollment at UK from 20162017 to 2018-2019. The student population this semester reached a record high of almost 31,800, according to preliminary reports from the university. Jay Blanton, chief communications officer for UK, said intentional planning on the part of UK President Eli Capilouto and his administration were major factors in class growth over the last decade. “There’s a lot of institutions across the country that have dropped significantly, and we’ve not done that,” Blanton said. “We’ve been able to basically be flat or grow overall enrollment, and we think we’re well-positioned now. And as we come out of COVID, we hope to grow again in a smart way.” Blanton said UK LEADS, Leveraging Economic Affordability for Developing Success, which offers opportunity-based scholarships and grants, has made attending college more affordable for a wider range of potential students and improving retention rates. “What we found is that with as little as $5,000 in unmet need or debt, a student was much less likely to be retained and ultimately graduate,” Blanton said. “[Since implementing LEADS] you’ve seen our retention rates go up to historic highs, and then when retention rates go up, graduation rates tend to follow.” Shawn DeRossett, a senior accounting major from Meade County, Kentucky, initially considered attending UK but found he would still pay less to attend WKU. “I started looking at the actual cost, and [UK] is well over double the cost to go to Western,” DeRossett said. “Eventually I narrowed it down between here and Murray, just based on cost, which was very similar.” His final decision came down to the level of engagement that WKU


Nov. 15-Dec. 10, 2021


offers potential students, including setting up orientation and responding to his emails. “When it came down to actually talking to them, getting information together and understanding what I want to do, Western ended up being a lot more responsive, and that’s ultimately what made me stick with Western,” DeRossett said. “You’ve got a big school with a small school experience, it’s not very expensive, and they’re actually willing to work with you and give you money to come here. A wide range of factors go into a student’s choice of college, but Blanton said students regularly tell him their highest priority is finding a job quickly after they graduate. “Students are going to change careers a lot, particularly early in their adult lives, but they want to know that they have the skill sets, that they’re getting prepared to be really successful when they leave,” Blanton said. UK also encourages students to study across different disciplines, which Blanton said makes them much more competitive in the job market after graduation. “What employers actually tell us is that, in many fields, they want students who have quantitative skills, or critical thinking skills, or [STEM experience],” Blanton said. “But they also tell us they want potential employees who have really good communication and presentation skills, and who can work in teams, who can think critically and analyze complicated topics, not just quantitative ones, but text and narrative

that may contain complicated proposals and ideas.” Mya Rashada, a senior architectural science major from Nashville, Tennessee, said the interdisciplinary approach to her program was prominent in her decision to stay at WKU. “Other schools that focus on architecture usually only do the design part, but here we learn the construction part too, so it’s like we get two different educations at once,” Rashada said. “[Future employers] wouldn’t have to hire another person to go over my initial drawings because I know how to do it.” Rashada said finding a job after graduation might be difficult as her program isn’t accredited, but she’s not worried. “I don’t really have that much worry about finding a job.” Rashada said “It’s just about finding the time to start applying,” COVID-19 has posed significant problems for recruitment and finances for all institutions, but Blanton said UK has navigated the pandemic to the best of its abilities. “What we’ve tried to do is work together as a community, our faculty, our staff, and our students, to keep people safe, healthy, keep them well,” Blanton said. “But also, keep positioned so that we can grow again and continue to prepare students, and I think our community is really rallied around that idea.” In the 2011-2012 school year, Kentucky State University had a total enrollment of 2,746. By the 2015-2016 year, enrollment at KSU had decreased to 1,586. The enrollment total increased by 1,926 in the 2017-2018 school year.

It decreased the following year and then increased until the 2020-2021 school year, reaching 2,290. The Herald was not able to obtain data for the school’s Fall 2021 enrollment. Murray State University and Morehead State University have had similar enrollment trends over the past 10 years. Morehead’s enrollment peaked from 2013-2014 at 11,207 total enrollment. Murray’s enrollment peaked in the 2012-2013 year at 11,358 total enrollment. Both have overall been decreasing ever since. Logan said WKU wants to be effective and purposeful in using its enrollment and recruitment data because there’s an infinite list of reasons why a student may or may not come to the Hill. Some predictable examples he provided were cost, alumni parents and distance. There was one big factor in Logan’s


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mind on what made things different. “We didn’t have the same amount of access we had in 2020 in terms of what we had in 2021,” Logan said. Other examples that Logan provided as things outside of what WKU can control included relationships, feelings on the color red and whether or not a student likes the feel of terry cloth towels. “Enrollment management is an art, not a science, and there’s a lot of value in that,” Logan said. “We put a lot of effort and a lot of focus on data, data acquisition and analysis.” Content Manager Michael J. Collins can be reached at michael.collins527@ Follow him on Twitter @mjcollinsnews. Editor-in-Chief Lily Burris can be reached at lily.burris203@topper. wku. edu. Follow her on Twitter @lily_burris.

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Nov. 15-Dec. 10, 2021

WKU committee issues NDAs to its members raising questions of legality By Jacob Latimer

The Bowling Green Daily News reported in July that the Naming and Symbols Task Force issued NDAs to its members last year, which raises the question: why is a public university committee discussing public matters signing NDAs? Task force members, appointed by President Timothy Caboni, made recommendations to the university on whether the names of Ogden, Potter, Van Meter and Kelly Thompson Halls should be changed due to their controversial ties to slavery and segregation. The recommendations for the university published by the committee stated “it is essential that WKU educates the campus and local communities, as well as our alumni, about the names that are memorialized on our campus.” The Open Meetings Act, enacted in Kentucky in 1974, established a right of access to public meetings. The General Assembly recognized that public policy should be public knowledge. The act requires that any meeting of a public agency where public policy is discussed must take place in a publicly-accessible setting. The act also applies when action is taken on a public issue. The Open Meetings Act considers “every state or local government agency, including the policy-making board of an institution of education,” a public agency. The Open Meetings Act includes “any board, commission, committee, subcommittee, ad hoc committee, advisory committee, council, or agency […] established, created, and controlled by a ‘public agency’.” Non-disclosure agreements are typically used for the protection of intellectual property, trade secrets and other sensitive information within corporations, said Jon Fleischaker, Kaplan Johnson Abate & Bird attorney and one

of the primary authors of the Open Records and Open Meetings Acts. Fleischaker said NDAs have no place in a public university. “The public has a right to know and the students have a right to know what is going on at their university and how decisions are being made,” Fleischaker said. Michael Abate, Kaplan Johnson Abate & Bird attorney who represents the Herald, said that while there are valid reasons for a university to issue NDAs, like when discussing sensitive medical research or trade secrets, hiding information that should be public is in violation of the Open Meetings Act. “It’s hard to see what could be validly kept confidential there,” Abate said. “You can’t just make someone sign an NDA and take something that is otherwise public business or public record and put it behind a wall of secrecy.” The Naming and Symbols Task Force is not the only example of WKU committees signing NDAs. Caboni created a Title IX committee in 2018 to review the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, the Title IX Office and the Office of Student Conduct after reports of a former SGA president experiencing harassment on campus. The Bowling Green Daily News reported in 2018 that members of the Title IX committee signed confidentiality agreements and could not disclose information on what was being discussed in their meetings. Former assistant attorney general Amy Bensenhaver considers the Naming and Symbols Task Force an advisory committee, which falls under the definition of a public agency under the Open Meetings Act. “There is a statutorily recognized right to know how public policy is being formed, how decisions are being made and what conversations are taking

place,” Bensenhaver said. “The formation of public policy is public business.” Bensenhaver said a public committee needs a legal basis in order to have a closed meeting. “Either you have a legal basis for [a closed meeting] or you don’t,” Bensenhaver said. “If you have a legal basis for it, you don’t need to have an NDA to back it up. But you can’t prompt an NDA without a legal basis.” Bensenhaver said she doesn’t understand the need for secrecy within the task force. “It’s a sensitive issue. I get it,” Bensenhaver said. “But sensitivity is not an exception to the Open Meetings Law.” Bensenhaver said she dealt with many of these kinds of issues within businesses during her time as assistant attorney general. “You cannot contract away the public’s right to know,” Bensenhaver said. Fleischaker said the issuing of NDAs is antithetical to the claim of being a transparent institution. “Transparency is injurious to the university to carry out its function of education and discussion,” Fleischaker said. According to Fleischaker, NDAs were originally used primarily within private corporations when proprietary information or trade secrets were being discussed. “That has very little to do with the operation of a public university,” Fleischaker said. “So it’s very questionable if they should be there in the first place.” Fleischaker said he has noticed more and more situations where NDAs are being issued within matters that violate the Open Meetings Act, including in public universities. A case involving the Courier-Journal and the University of Louisville was brought to the Supreme Court in

2005 after the publication requested documents detailing donations to the University of Louisville Foundation from private individuals. The University of Louisville Foundation refused to turn over these documents, claiming that they were exempt from the Open Records Act. The court ruled in favor of the newspaper. The Herald recently requested copies of all NDAs that have been issued to WKU faculty, staff, or students within the past five years on Aug. 30, 2021. The Herald received an example copy of a typical university NDA. Jace Lux, director of WKU’s media relations, said the NDAs were developed by the Naming and Symbols Task Force itself. “That wasn’t anything that the university imposed on them,” Lux said. “They felt that it would allow them to express their ideas without any sort of external pressure.” Lux said this isn’t an unusual practice for universities. “Non-disclosure agreements are extremely common in not just university settings, but in business settings,” Lux said. “Especially if they’re discussing items that members feel could be decisive or controversial.” He said this isn’t unique to committees within WKU. Lux said the Naming and Symbols Task Force was only making recommendations and not setting policy, therefore was not subject to the Open Meetings Act. He said a committee like the Board of Regents, for example, is subject to the law. Projects Editor Jacob Latimer can be reached at jacob.latimer745@topper. Follow him on Twitter @jacoblatimer_.


Nov. 15-Dec.10, 2021

Faculty and staff welfare surveys offer look into employee satisfaction By Alexandria Anderson

Each year, quality of life and satisfaction among faculty and staff is gauged by the faculty welfare survey and the staff engagement survey; both of which show that important items have a majority disagreement. Various questions, concerning topics like diversity and inclusion, salaries, general satisfaction and opinions on administrative work, asked members to answer on a scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree. Most questions had neutral or agreed responses. However, questions about salary and general satisfaction stood out to have a majority disagreement. In older and more recent faculty welfare surveys, questions about salary had similar responses. In the question that asked for a response on the statement “relative to years of service and rank, my salary is satisfactory”, a majority of faculty strongly disagreed in every survey since 2009. In the 2009 faculty welfare survey, 40.2%, or 138 faculty members, strongly disagreed. In the 2020-21 survey, there was a slight increase, with 46.88%, or 165 faculty members, strongly disagreeing. Another notable part of the faculty welfare surveys were the answers to faculty morale questions, on a scale from very poor to very good. In the 2020-21 survey, 39.3% of faculty answered poor, and 37.4% answered very poor. These ratings are not just due to the conditions of this year — ratings have fluctuated between poor and very poor since the 2015-16 survey. Jordan Basham, staff senate chair and director of content for WKU public media, spoke about staff satisfaction and quality of life at WKU. Most issues arose due to compensation. “I think from my involvement on

the staff senate, we and the rest of the governing bodies on campus and administration, continually look at different ways to improve staff satisfaction,” Basham said. “We discussed some next step opportunities that are related to benefits that are separate from compensation, so things that make WKU a unique place for benefits and looking at ways to enhance those.” According to Basham, the staff senate acts as a place where staff can have an open conversation about areas where the university may not do as well and find ways to improve these areas. Personally, Basham sees more campus-wide social events as a way to improve staff work-life balance specifically. “Efforts like Topper Fest, the event this fall, I think that was a new approach here,” Basham said. “It was an event that focused on not just engaging the employees but their families too. The basic hope for work-life balance is to provide people with quality time with friends and family and to provide an opportunity for those things to come together.” David Brinkley, WKU staff regent and executive director of public broadcasting, spoke more specifically on the ways the university is working on the compensation side to improve staff satisfaction. Brinkley received a $25,428 raise at the last Board of Regents meeting. “As we transition further into the RAMP model of budgeting, we will see additional departments restructure positions and prioritize compensation based on their internal capacity,” Brinkley said. “This is being strongly encouraged by administration and several departments have successfully completed this process already. WKU has changed the approach to governance and enabled staff to have more comprehensive roles in determining

aspects of budget, strategy, governance, and benefits.” Julie Lee, faculty senate chair and an instructor in the nutrition and dietetics department, explained her thoughts on faculty satisfaction from her standpoint as faculty senate chair and as a faculty member herself. “Compensation is always an issue, particularly with those who are salary compressed and unfortunately there’s not a lot employees can do about that,” Lee said. “But it is something that the senate is bringing up and attempting to address. There was a resolution last year about that and it’s something I bring up every month in the meetings with upper administration.” Faculty members will be receiving

raises this year out of a 2% monetary pool, in which 1.5% is going to faculty for these raises. The other 0.5% is planned to go towards aiding those that are salary compressed, however some have expressed concern on exactly how many faculty members will be helped with that 0.5%. During the last Board of Regents committee meeting, salary changes were approved. Some increases were more than 25%. These salary changes will be up for approval at the next meeting on Dec 10. Each employee receiving a major raise is due to a “reclassification” of their position due to the 125 employees who left due to the Voluntary Incentive Separation Program (VSIP). The Board of Regents Oct. 22 agenda said “RECLASSIFICA-


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Nov. 15-Dec.10, 2021 STORY CONTINUED FROM PAGE 6

TION - Used when an employee’s job title, salary grade and/or salary are changed as the result of a material increase in duties/responsibilities.” The highest raise was 50.69% and it was given to Ronald Wilson, associate vice president of philanthropy and alumni engagement. His former salary was 82,944, with the increase, his salary is now 124,992. “Because we have people who have been here for decades, and over the last 10 years we’ve had basically no raises,” Lee said. “But cost of living increases have been running over 3%. For years now, groceries have been at a high percent increase for over a decade. Those kinds of things, it really takes a toll on how far my salary goes now versus how far it used to go.” Raises and compensation in regards to years of experience is where a majority of faculty dissatisfaction appears to be coming from. Faculty salaries have not risen with the cost

of living. Lee said the need for a more flexible work environment has led to a higher acceptance of lower compensation. “It’s difficult and it’s one of those work-life choices that some people have made,” Lee said. “Some of us teach because we love it, some of us teach because we have kids, because we wanted a more flexible schedule, because of many different reasons.” For many faculty members, a tradeoff had to be made between work-life balance and compensation. Lee said she believes that it is the rising cost of living and the state of the economy in the past decade that has made it so difficult for faculty to work with the compensation they are given. It is in these issues concerning salary that Lee thinks has caused the consistently low rating of faculty morale. “I think that’s affected morale here, over time,” Lee said. “It wasn’t just

that we weren’t getting raises, it was also every year the state was cutting 13 million, 9 million, 11 million and some years that was additive, and some years it was the same [...] everybody has to scramble and take a cut somewhere. And I think a lot of people were fine with that for a while, and then it got to the point where it was like, ‘okay, this isn’t changing’.” Lee said the university doesn’t know how many people they are going to help with salary compression. “It’s going to be what they can manage and it’s going to be done incrementally over time. This compression didn’t occur at a fast manner either. The president is committed to making changes happen and addressing those issues,” Lee said. Lee hopes that with more discussions concerning compensation and raises, faculty morale will grow. She said from her experience in the industry, however, there were things other than compensation that were used to raise employee morale. “I know when I was the executive chef working at a hospital, it was different,” Lee said. “Every year I gave bonuses, I gave prizes, I gave gift cards, I gave turkeys and hams. Every year I gave raises. There was a base raise, there were merit raises, it was how the company functioned. So I have a very different viewpoint on employee morale.” Lee’s examples point to other things that could be used alongside faculty compensation “It’s not something that we have ever done here at Western, those kinds of things,” Lee said. “It’s just a very different environment. My employees felt valued with the attention and the little things. It was the fact that I was recognizing them for going above and beyond and for doing something, like ‘here’s a thank you’.” Kirk Atkinson, an information systems professor, said improvements lay in faculty compensation. “I would say that my quality of life feeling is high, overall,” Atkinson said. “I’ve been here for a few years, I

am tenured, and that makes a difference probably. But I work with a really good group of colleagues and I think that is what really makes it. My overall rating, I would say it’s high.” Atkinson explained his colleagues and students mainly benefited his quality of life as a faculty member. What is viewed as unfair compensation is the main thing that brings down this quality of life. “Something I think that all faculty would like to see is some external and internal market equity in terms of salaries,” Atkinson said. “It’s a very common occurrence, something called salary compression, that happens everywhere.” Atkinson said the university hires new people as assistant professors who make more than he does as a full professor. He described that as “just the way it works” and how it happens in higher education sometimes — schools try to take slow steps to repair salary differences. “Western for years has lived with the ‘across the board’ method,” Atkinson said. “Everybody is going to get a little bit, so you know people that are already compressed are still compressed and those demands continue to change. Most faculty would just like to see a little more, and they’re trying to work on this. So I think the salary compression issue and market inequity would be a good one to work on.” Atkinson was a faculty advisor for the WKU student chapter of Delta Sigma Pi. He said working with students was “rewarding.” “I think from a personal perspective, I would like to see closer work with the students,” Atkinson said. “I think overall the university does a pretty good job dealing with students, but I think there are times that maybe it could be better. Overall, faculty have their students’ best interests at heart, I really believe that.” News reporter Alexandria Anderson can be reached at alexandria.



WKU Colorguard member Natalie Noltkamper runs drills with her team before the WKU Hilltoppers’ Saturday afternoon match against the MTSU Blue Raiders at Houchens-Smith Stadium on Nov. 6, 2021. Western blew out the Raiders 48-21, forcing 7 turnovers.

Nov. 15-Dec. 10, 2021


Larissa Stratton (center) celebrates after the WKU football team scores a touchdown during the game against MTSU at Houchens-Smith Stadium. Stratton is known for being very vocal in support of the WKU football team, cheering loudly when at the games.

Being BRMB:

WKU’s marching band adds to the energy of the game With nearly 300 students, the Big Red Marching Band fills the field during football game halftime shows. When they’re not on the field, the band plays from the stands — letting out pep tunes originating from the days of their parents and modern hits from their time. Together, the instrumentalists and the members of the color guard, called the Big Red Rubies, bring extra life to football games. “I wish people knew exactly how

much of a family the band is,” Natalie Noltkamper, a junior anthropology and business administration major from Bowling Green and color gaurd member, said. “We’re with each other all the time for hours on end and we’re all very passionate about the same things.” Between practices three times a week and weekends spent together on the field, the BRMB works hard to add to the WKU football experience.

Looking for more WKU Football coverage? Check out Sparky Notes, football reporter Wyatt Sparkman’s weekly game analysis column!



evolutionary WOMEN Words and photos by Tess Killen

In the midst of bright footlights and scribbled blocking, or stage directions, four young female actors took on the challenging role of embracing heroic women from all aspects of the French Revolution in Western Kentucky University’s Department of Theatre & Dance’s rendition of “The Revolutionists” by Lauren Gunderson. The play follows four women: Olympe De Gouges (Elizabeth Garapic), a feminist political playwright; Marianne Angelle (Jorah Graham), a fictional character portraying the women of the forgotten Haitian revolution; Charlotte Corday (Katarina Johnson), a young assassin who avenges those who were beheaded at the hands of journalist Jean-Paul Marat; and Marie Antoinette (Ella Shahn Hagan), the Queen of France during the reign of terror. Over 72 days of vigorous work and training, from cast

list announcement to opening night, student technicians and performers worked hard to tell these women’s stories, which are often forgotten or widely fabricated to meet another’s narrative. The work done to construct a guillotine and embody the fear of losing one’s head help portray these women’s stories as vividly and accurately as possible. Emma McGee, a junior performing arts-theatre major, served as dramaturg and researched the setting, costumes, and script for historical accuracy. “We don’t know these women because their stories aren’t told,” McGee wrote in her program note. “In ‘The Revolutionists,’ Olympe de Gouges is passionate about bringing their stories to the stage. Just like Lauren Gunderson. And just like the women who have shaped this production, both on and backstage.”

Above Left: Set Designer Mary Kay Samouce and Costume Designer Avery Barrett discuss the overall image of the production and balance of the historical nature and modern themes in the final tech rehearsal of The Revolutionists in Russell Miller Theater. Above Right: Lead designers, stage managers, dramaturgs and directors gather in Gordon Wilson Hall to rehearse WKU’s Department of Theatre & Dance’s rendition of “The Revolutionists” by Lauren Gunderson.

November Edition

Top Left: In rehearsal, Elizabeth Garapic undresses from her gown to signify Olympe de Gouges’ arrest and soon-to-be execution as Jorah Graham stands by to take the dress in Gordan Wilson hall on October 27, 2021. Top Right: Marie Antoinette (Ella Shahn Hagan) twirls her ribbons in emphasis while pacing in Olympe de Gouges’ office. She details her experience of waking up in a grand palace bedroom and finding herself falling asleep in a prison cell by nightfall– without any cake or sugar. Meanwhile, Marianne Angelle (Jorah Graham), Charlotte Corday (Katarina Johnson), and de Gouges (Elizabeth Garapic) listen intently during a technical run-through of “The Revolutionists.” Center Bottom: (Left to right) Actors Katarina Johnson, Ella Shahn Hagan, Elizabeth Garapic and Jorah Graham celebrate after concluding their final technical run-through before the opening night of The Revolutionists in Russell Miller Theater on November 4, 2021. Bottom Right: Actors Elizabeth Garapic and Jorah Graham rehearse an intimate moment in a rehearsal for “The Revolutionists” in Gordan Wilson hall. Marianne Angelle comes back to forgive Olympe de Gouges and mourn after Marie Antoinette’s execution.


Nov. 15-Dec. 10, 2021

OPINION: Non-disclosure agreements have no place at a public university By Herald Editorial Board

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


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.


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

WKU is a public institution, so it should only make sense that it would operate as such. However, in light of recent discoveries, it appears that it does not. The Naming and Symbols Task Force, to quote WKU’s own website, was a group of faculty and staff from the university put together “to conduct a thorough examination of the history of WKU’s namings; explore options for how WKU might address those that might be problematic, and make recommendations for university leadership to consider.” The task force was established to move the university away from building or campus symbol names “which may be connected to exclusion, segregation, racism or slavery,” by providing the university with recommendations geared toward change. The committee has since been disbanded, but that is not what this editorial is about. The Bowling Green Daily News reported in July that the members of the task force signed non-disclosure agreements. A non-disclosure agreement, as defined by Oxford English dictionary, is “a contract by which one or more parties agree not to disclose confidential information that they have shared with each other as a necessary part of doing business together.” Jace Lux, director of media rela-

tions, elaborated on the committee's signing of NDAs in a recent phone interview and notified us that WKU did not impose the agreements on to the committee. He said the committee wanted to proceed without external pressures and have more genuine conversations. It is good to know WKU didn’t force the members of the committee into signing NDAs, but that doesn’t change the ethicality of the situation. In fact, it has recently been brought to our attention that this decision may be in violation of the Open Meetings Act, which requires the meetings of public institutions to be accessible. These NDAs may be just as illegal as they are unethical, but more on that in another story. As stated before, WKU is a public university, meaning it is primarily funded by the state government. This means that the university must oblige Kentucky state laws on transparency and public information. If that is so, then why did a WKUformed committee sign non-disclosure agreements on matters which should be considered public affairs? Legality aside, this decision goes against the very definition of a public university and what it should stand for. We learned from Lux that the NDAs were not imposed on the committee by WKU, that doesn’t change the fact that the Naming and Symbols Task Force was established by President Timothy Caboni and was made up of faculty and

staff from the university. It was in no way separate from WKU, and the task force dealt with matters that directly affect the university's appearance, population and all that surrounds it. WKU should have prevented the committee members from signing non-disclosure agreements, not only because they were unethical and potentially illegal in this scenario, but as a due diligence to their status as a public university. We get the fact that the committee wanted to operate in an environment without pressure, but with the gravity of the matters that they were dealing with, the public deserved to know the contents of their discussions. As a result of their decision to sign NDA’s, we will never know the full scope of the Naming and Symbols Task Force, a committee that probably meant a lot to the underrepresented population of WKU. NDAs should not be present in any committee formed by a public university, no matter what the purpose of the group is. The Naming and Symbols Task Force had an immense amount of gravity in its work but the principle should still apply to any group the university forms. Therefore we pose the question: Why is a public university allowing for the signage of non-disclosure agreements in committee’s dealing with public affairs?


Nov. 15-Dec. 10, 2021

Goodbye from the editor: To the Hill I love By Lily Burris

I have a confession – I grew up on this campus. Not in a Gatton-student, hereall-the-time, Big-Red-onesie kind of way, although I’m sure I had a Big Red onesie, but I grew up here in a Bowling-Green-hometown, knewDSU-as-DUC, took-prom-photos-here kind of way. So many of my early memories are tied to the Hill. I sold Girl Scout cookies to the chemistry department when I was a little kid. My fourth grade science fair project took place in a chemistry lab when Ogden College Hall was the Kelley Thompson Hall North Wing. Many concert festivals in middle school and high school were held in Van Meter Hall. I took prom photos my senior year under the Gary Ransdell Hall front arches. The cherry blossoms in the spring and the leaves in the fall have always been my favorite. I learned how to wave a red towel as a child. The endless soft-serve ice cream at Fresh was the coolest thing in the world. I practiced driving at night and on oneway streets here, sometimes using the parking lot by Preston to perfect those crucial skills. When I started college, I had no

idea what was coming my way. I lived in Minton Hall when it closed for mold. I was studying abroad in Denmark when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. I experienced personal loss for the first time in college. I got into the world of flirting and dating. I learned how to be myself a little bit more. I also found my way to the College Heights Herald – a newspaper I once used as part of a collage for a project on the Odyssey in high school. As someone who was so scared when I started college that I would hate my major or I wouldn’t know what to do with my life, it was a relief when I fell in love with reporting at the Herald. My experiences helped me know this was what I was supposed to do with my life. The first time my story was printed on the front page, my dad, a chemistry professor here, picked up a big stack of papers. They were in his office forever; those copies might still be there, honestly. One of his coworkers even laminated a copy of the front page for him. To me, it was the coolest thing in the world to be on the front page of the newspaper, for a story I worked hard on to make on the front page.

By my next semester at the Herald, being on the front page wasn’t quite as amazing, but I still found it pretty cool. I did get more involved, eventually becoming an editor, and I wanted to work on the hard stories. At least, I wanted to work on the stories I thought were hard. I used to argue with some of my friends who also worked at the Herald about who would be editor-in-chief one day. After I found out via Zoom call that I had gotten the job last spring, I popped over from my apartment to my dad’s office to tell him. I was so excited to do this. I practically tackled him when I got there. I’ve always loved the Hill and made such good memories here. However, as I’ve grown as a student and a journalist, my questions for the Hill have grown. I’ve spent much of my time wanting to know why and how and what makes this, that and the other, okay. Being a journalist for a place you love is kind of a weird thing. While I was abroad, a friend I had made early on asked about what it was like to cover WKU when I clearly cared about it so much. Pointing out the flaws in something you love doesn’t



Lily and Nathaniel Burris attend the 2007 Christmas events at the Kentucky Museum.

Editor-in-Chief Lily Burris and Digital News Editor Debra Murray look at cover options for September issue of the Herald.

exactly sound like caring about it. I thought I would struggle for an answer. But I didn’t. I said that I wanted to cover my school and look at what was happening there so maybe someone would see it and want to come take care of it. I wanted someone to see that WKU should be loved in a way that makes the people on the Hill happy and hopeful. Since that conversation, I think some things have gotten better. I don’t think everything is perfect though. Those imperfections are what we hope to cover at the Herald, as well as the things that have gotten better. I hope, despite all the things I’ve written about that don’t shine brightly on the Hill, everyone can understand that I love this place — and the Herald as students love it here too. I love the way the cherry blossoms make Centennial Mall look like a romcom set. I love the ridiculousness of Big Red and his goofy dance moves. I love standing at the top of Van Meter and watching the sunset over Bowling Green. I love the people that have worked so hard to make campus a great place to be. I love the fact that I’ve never met anyone who really understands what “The Spirit Makes The Master” means. I love the fact that Fresh has never gotten rid of the soft-serve ice cream. I especially love the College Heights Herald. I love it for all the friends it’s brought me, the memories I’ve made in the office, the opportunities I’ve received working here and to have luckily found a profession I love to do. I would not be who I am today without the Herald and the Hill, and I love them both so much for it. All my big red heart, Editor-in-Chief Lily Burris

Fun Page

WKU 11/8/21 Trivia Puzzle

WKU 11/8/21 Crossword Across






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WKU 11/8/21 Sudoku

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1. Where is the world's highest astronomical observatory? (a) Switzerland (b) Chile (c) China 2. What did the first webcam monitor? (a) Coffee pot (b) Bird feeder (c) Park bench 3. What country has more cars than people? (a) New Zealand (b) Libya (c) San Marino 4. Vice President Mike Pence's family pet Marlon Bundo is what kind of animal? (a) Hedgehog (b) Rabbit (c) Ferret 5. The Latin phrase "caveat emptor" relates to what? (a) Let the buyer beware (b) Seize the day (c) I came, I saw, I conquered 6. Who declined his Nobel Prize for Literature? (a) J.D. Salinger (b) Jean-Paul Sartre (c) Albert Camus 7. Where is the world's largest floating restaurant? (a) Hong Kong (b) Thailand (c) Japan 8. Who is depicted riding a horse on Delaware's state quarter? (a) George Washington (b) Caesar Rodney (c) Paul Revere 9. Who was the first person to receive a star on the Las Vegas Walk of Stars? (a) Liberace (b) Frank Sinatra (c) Wayne Newton 10. Where is the only swimming pool on the National Register of Historic Places? (a) Florida (b) California (c) Texas


Nov. 15-Dec. 10, 2021

Happening on the Hill: The last month at a glance By Debra Murray and Jake Moore

WKU Commons pushed back to Spring 2022

ACT relating to the establishment of emergency insulin programs and The opening of The WKU Commons declaring an emergency” on Aug. 4, at the Helm Library was pushed back 2021. until Spring 2022. The Commons The bill states that in an emergency opening has been pushed back four situation a person can get a 30-day times, originally set to open Spring supply of insulin for $25 once per year 2020. and the pharmacy will be reimbursed “After consulting with the by the manufacturers. many different entities involved in “This is designed to create an completing work on the Commons, the insulin safety net,” Minter said. “So project is currently on track to open no one has to choose between having during the Spring 2022 semester,” a life saving drug in the dosage they Provost Robert Fischer said in an email need or losing a limb, or their vision.” to students. “However, if the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that plans WKU’s Campus Pride Index score must be fluid as unforeseen challenges increased to 4.5 stars can arise. We will communicate a firm WKU’s Campus Pride Index has opening date as we get closer to that increased to 4.5 stars, a 2.5 point time.” increase since WKU first implemented The email states the seating tent at the tool in 2016. restaurant row will be enclosed and the The Campus Pride Index WKU Restaurant Group will monitor website describes the index as a the outside temperature to provide “benchmarking tool for colleges and heating in the tent when necessary. universities to create safer, more

WKU History professor Patti Minter co-sponsors bill for insulin affordability

WKU History professor and State Representative Patti Minter (D-Bowling Green) prefiled a bill with Rep. Danny Bentley (R-Boyd) concerning insulin programs. The co-sponsors prefiled BR 53 “AN


inclusive campus communities.” Molly Kerby, assistant provost for institutional effectiveness and sociology professor, said the Campus Pride Index serves as a “watchdog” for LGBTQ+ issues at universities including gender neutral bathrooms, housing and insurance policies for faculty and staff. “It’s just out there for everybody

The view of the ongoing construction on The Commons on Oct. 19, 2021.


to see how people write in terms of LGBTQ population and how accepting we are of the things that we’ve done, initiatives we started [and] things we put in place,” Kerby said.

WKU to stay in Conference USA

The Hilltoppers had been repeatedly named as potential candidates to join the Mid-American Conference throughout November, but the long-rumored move did not come to pass when the MAC announced it had no interest in expanding. WKU and Middle Tennessee State University were two schools rumoured to be in the crosshairs of the MAC. MTSU athletic director Chris Massaro confirmed that his program would be staying put on Nov. 10, and WKU president Timothy Caboni and athletic director Todd Stewart issued a joint statement later in the day to announce the Hilltoppers will remain in C-USA as well. “Since joining Conference USA on July 1, 2014, the league has

been a meaningful home for WKU Athletics and will continue as such,” The statement read. “C-USA has provided a platform for our programs to shine through competitive play and collaboration, and we have celebrated many significant team and individual accomplishments.” WKU and MTSU, along with FIU, UTEP and LA Tech, were the five members of the conference who did not announce moves to either the Sun Belt or American Athletic conferences. The five programs will welcome Liberty, New Mexico State, Sam Houston State and Jacksonville State in 2023, bringing the conference’s membership up to nine schools.

Digital News Editor Debra Murray can be reached at debra.murray940@ Follow her on Twitter @debramurrayy. Sports Editor Jake Moore can be reached at charles.moore275@topper. Follow him on Twitter @ Charles_JMoore.


Nov. 15-Dec. 10, 2021

Grindstaff reflects on impressive freshman year on the Hill By Piper McCoun

If you keep up with WKU Golf, you’ve heard of Riley Grindstaff, a freshman on the men’s golf team from Franklin, Tennessee. Back in high school, Grindstaff was ranked among the top 150 of the 2021 signing class, earned runner-up in the Tennessee Boys Junior PGA Championship in 2020 and logged 35 top-three finishes over the entirety of his junior golf career. His success continued once he arrived at WKU. He put together three top 15 finishes throughout the fall, including two in a row to close out the year. His 72.3 stroke average led the roster and his sixth-place showing at the Pinetree Intercollegiate was the best Hilltopper result of the season. Grindstaff’s interest in golf developed early on, as both he and his father could bond over it. “It was more of something to do to spend time with my dad. He just kind of put a club in my hand growing up,” Grindstaff said. “It started out ever since I could walk, I would just play in the backyard. Whenever we moved to Tennessee, we got a membership at a golf course in my neighborhood, and I would just walk to the golf course everyday.” The time commitments and demanding schedule of a student athlete has mental and physical ramifications on a college student. To be a successful collegiate golfer, you have to love the game. “It’s kind of the same, I mean, it’s still golf, but it’s a lot more of a grind and a lot more working,” Grindstaff said on his transition from junior golf to collegiate competition. “We have practice and workouts a lot, so it’s a much busier schedule, but in the end it’s just going to make you better.”


Freshman Riley Grindstaff of the WKU Hilltoppers men’s golf team plays a qualifying round at Bowling Green Country Club on Sept. 17, 2021.

Some people measure their success by the number on their scoresheet, but not Grindstaff. His approach is growth and goal-based. “I think scores are really relative, you’ll shoot 69 one round and then shoot 70, and it’ll feel completely different,” Grindstaff said. “I don’t really see it as what I shot that day, but it’s what I did well that day. So if I did everything the right way and how I expected to play, then I’m happy with my round. But I don’t really judge it off of the exact score.” Even if Grindstaff cards a stellar round of golf, if he isn’t feeling himself improve while he does it, it might as well not matter. “If I’m hitting something well and

truly getting better at one thing that I’m working on, then that’s really a bonus for me,” Grindstaff said. “I could go a round and shoot 65 and if I’m not doing the things that I’m working on better than I did the day before, then I’m not really that happy.” Grindstaff’s journey to WKU was led by the multitude of accolades he earned during his junior golf career. “I enjoy looking back and seeing what I’ve done in my career, and just proving to myself that I can do certain things that I didn’t think I could or achieving certain accomplishments that I’m proud of,” Grindstaff said. His freshman year was impressive, but Grindstaff wants to keep his momentum going into 2022 and reach

even greater heights. “I want to have the lowest scoring average ever for a Western Kentucky golfer,” Grindstaff said. “I’m pretty close to it right now. I think I’m just a couple decimals off. Definitely want to do that, make it to regionals, and a national championship.” Grindstaff, along with the rest of the Hilltopper men’s golf team, will be back in action for the spring season this coming February.

Sports reporter Piper McCoun can be reached at piper.mccoun388@ Follow her on Twitter @piper_mccoun.


Nov. 15-Dec. 10, 2021

WKU defensive end tackles culinary arts By Wyatt Sparkman

The breakout performances of Houston Baptist transfers Bailey Zappe and Jerreth Sterns have dominated WKU Football’s spotlight all season. What fans may not know is that defensive end CJ Marria has been cooking all year too - not just on the field, but in the kitchen as well. Marria, also known as “Chef C,” has taken advantage of the Name, Image and Likeness Law that was passed on June 24 via executive order by Governor Andy Beshear. The law requires all Kentucky colleges to allow their student athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness. “I thought it was a genius idea,” Marria said. “I thought it was something that was well overdue, just for college athletics. I thought it was


something that probably should have been around, but I was excited about it.” The NIL law has allowed Marria to become a private chef, cooking meals out of his apartment to cater small events like anniversaries, birthday parties and game nights. His number one customer is his roommate, Lichon Terrell. “When he cooks, it’s just him in his zone,” Terrell said. Marria developed his love of cooking back home in Jonesboro, Georgia, watching his grandma cook. His grandparents grew up in “down south Georgia,” and his grandma cooked for holidays and family gettogethers. Seeing his grandma prepare meals for hours really stuck with him

and built a connection between food and family. “How I grew up, we associate food with family,” Marria said. “Food was always a happy thing. So family reunions, with holidays, I saw the connection with food.” His grandma is one of his biggest supporters, and he still asks her about different recipes and different meals. Marria started cooking around ninth grade when he would get home from football practice while his mom was at work. His mom would go to the grocery store every week to buy him things to cook when he got home. The first meal Marria was confident in making by himself was breakfast. “My mom on the weekends was like ‘you want to make breakfast this

C.J. Marria begins his weekly meal prep Thursday night, Nov. 11, 2021. Marria was gifted a cutting board (right) from his mom inscribed with with title, Chef C. He uses it as decoration and a way to plate the food he cooks.

morning?’ and I was like ‘yeah,’” Marria said. “Sausage, bacon, eggs, grits, just whatever breakfast food we had. That was probably the first thing that I completely got on a plate and heard it’s pretty good.” Once he started making more complicated dishes, he would post his food on social media. He said the support he received got his wheels turning about potentially starting a cooking business. He finally got the chance to start his business once the NIL law passed in the summer. “It started with just me making wings,” Marria said. “I used to make wings every week. It started with just my teammates. They would come by, give me $10 and I would make them a wing plate.” With Marria working by himself and still balancing school and football, he can only take on small orders for around 20 people. “I make time to cook because it’s something I enjoy doing,” Marria said. “So of course football and school, that comes first, and then as of right now cooking is third on my list.” “When I do have free time, I’m in the kitchen,” Marria continued. “It’s kind of hard right now during the season of course but I try to cook at least once a week just to get in the kitchen and make something, just to have stuff to post on Instagram, different content [to] put a little money in my pocket during the season.” He uses his Instagram page, @chefc_kitchen1, to promote his business. His posts have garnered attention from more than just friends and family. “I ended up getting a NIL deal from my Instagram page,” Marria said. “I reached out to a couple companies, and I ended up getting to deal with Slap Ya Mama Seasoning. That was my first big step as far as my cooking, my


Nov. 15-Dec. 10, 2021


business, my page and all that stuff. Once I did that, it just continued to grow.” Marria is appreciative of the opportunity that Slap Ya Mama gave him. The company sends him different products and he promotes them when he posts his meals on social media. He said his best seller would be his wings, but due to wing shortages in stores, his pasta has become his hot ticket item. “I haven’t made wings in a while,” Marria said. “I know my folks be mad at me about that one, but it’s hard because they don’t have any.” A lot of Marria’s teammates have sampled his food and have continued to come back for more. “CJ’s food is bustin’, as we say in the south,” WKU linebacker Jaden Hunter said. WKU defensive coordinator Maurcie Crum said hasn’t had Marria’s food yet because every time he tries to order, Marria is sold out.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Crum said. “He keeps saying ‘I got you coach, I got you coach.’ I guess I’m late on social media. So by the time I see it and call him he’s like, ‘I’m out.’ So it goes fast. It goes fast.” Marria took on an internship with the Fresh Food Company on WKU’s campus over the summer. He worked under their head chefs and said it was “probably the most I’ve learned.” After he finishes his collegiate career, he plans to go to culinary school. “Culinary school is definitely my next step after college, just to refine my skills and just take the next step as far as becoming a chef, a real chef,” Marria said. “And not just somebody that can cook. I throw the chef in front of my name a lot, but I know I’m not there yet. But I’m gonna be.”

Football reporter Wyatt Sparkman can be reached at steve. Follow PHOTO BY ALLIE HENDRICKS C.J. Marria cuts a lemon he will use to flavor his shrimp for his pasta dinner. Due to a nationwide him on Twitter @wyattsparkman3. shortage of wings, pasta has become Marria’s most requested dish.

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


C.J. Marria’s Cajun pasta with jumbo shrimp and lobster tail rests on his kitchen counter.

110 Mark Trail, Bowling Green (270) 781-5355


Nov. 15-Dec. 10, 2021

Former Hilltopper ace seeks new start away from the Hill By Nick Kieser

for the right-handed pitcher. The lingering sensation in his elbow A fresh start never hurts, and lessened the command he had over his Bowling Green native Michael Darrell- pitches. Hicks had a decision to make in order After the Hilltoppers lost 14-4 to the to seek what was best for him. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in the 2021 The former WKU pitcher began his Conference USA tournament, Darrellredemptive trek back on Feb. 15, 2020, Hicks sought more baseball. Eight when he had made his first start in 561 days later, he made his first start as a days. Darrell-Hicks spent all of 2019 member of the Winchester Royals in in recovery after undergoing Tommy the Valley Baseball League. John surgery. Royals head coach Mike Smith “I wasn’t nervous, but I was just heard of Darrell-Hicks from Dalton thinking of how hard I worked and Shoemake, another pitcher at WKU. what if it didn’t go the way I wanted it All it took was a text message to get to,” Darrell-Hicks said following his the conversation going about playing first start of the 2020 season. “After summer baseball. the first pitch, I settled in and felt “It was a pleasant surprise and I got really good.” to know him on the side a little bit,” Due to COVID-19, Darrell-Hicks Smith said. “Seems like he had a tough started four times — a small sample start down there where [WKU] is trying size. WKU head coach John Pawlowski to find his way and he decided to move continued to ride Darrell-Hicks as a on.” starter in the spring after the abrupt Four days prior to his debut with end to the 2020 campaign. the Royals, Darrell-Hicks entered the “When I look back on it, he just transfer portal. didn’t get the opportunities that he “I didn’t think about it too much wanted,” Pawlowski said. “We want during the season,” Darrell-Hicks said. every player to have an opportunity “At the end of the season I started to to go out and play, and unfortunately think about: should I leave or should it doesn’t work that way. That’s the I stay? I went and played summer ball toughest decision that coaches have to since I thought I still had a lot more to make.” prove and show.” Three consecutive series starts Darrell-Hicks said in his exit passed, and Darrell-Hicks didn’t look meeting with WKU he still wanted to like his former self out on the mound. play, but needed a change of scenery He surrendered 12 runs and 11 hits in and wanted to play where it was warm. 5.2 innings of work and subsequently “We had a great conversation,” made six relief appearances to finish Pawlowski said. “I told him I can try to out his time on the Hill. help you in any way that I can. When “Last year was difficult for me as you can go off and play in the summer a baseball player and as a person,” it can obviously help.” Darrell-Hicks said. “It was hard to keep As a Royal, he posted a 1.65 ERA dealing with the failure I had. As far and finished second on the team in as the season goes, I wasn’t exactly strikeouts with 26, missing a start to fully healthy and started getting down visit Jacksonville University. on myself, but I talked to my dad and After getting a look at Darrell-Hicks mom about it.” in person, Smith said the mechanically Tendinitis was an additional issue sound pitcher made an immediate

impact and inserted him into the pitching rotation. “If he was struggling, he definitely got better here,” Smith said. “His fastball was overpowering and that’s what got him in the VBL All-Star game.” Smith said he would not have been able to tell Darrell-Hicks had surgery three years ago based purely on how he played. “He treated us very professionally,” Darrell-Hicks said of Smith. “From day one he was very trusting of what I could do and was there for me like a mentor. If I needed to talk, he’d talk to me.” As a former scout for the Kansas City Royals from 2008-2015 in the Shenandoah River Valley, Smith said Darrell-Hicks will be on the radar of a lot of professional clubs. “He’s got everything it’s going to take,” Smith said. “He keeps doing what he’s doing and [he’s] going to be a draft pick. You can’t pass up on a kid like that.” Meanwhile, another chance came and found Darrell-Hicks without the


help of Smith and his contacts with Division I programs. Jacksonville University expressed interest in him. “He went down for a visit and said he liked the campus and had a great visit with [assistant coach Brad Wilkerson],” Smith said. “He came back to Winchester and said [Wilkerson] was going to come watch him play and I said ‘I’ll make it work.’” Smith said Wilkerson, a former professional pitcher, made him an offer before he went back to Jacksonville. Now Darrell-Hicks will don green and white as a member of the Dolphins for the 2022 season. The former Hilltopper joins a program that’s produced 13 professional players since 2006, 10 of which were pitchers. “The ultimate goal is to sign a pro contract,” Darrell-Hicks said. “Whether that’s getting drafted or a free agent deal, that’s the goal.”

Sports feature writer Nick Kieser can be reached at nick.kieser036@ Follow him on Twitter @KieserNick.

Darrell-Hicks waited 562 days between starts while healing from Tommy John Surgery. A rough 2021 season prompted the pitcher to rebuild his baseball career elsewhere.


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