A silent protest with a loud message

Dallas Cowboys team and owner lock arms in moment of silent protest on Monday September 25. Photo from ESPN.

In 2016, Colin Kaepernick drew nationwide attention for not standing during the national anthem before games. His silent protest was against the oppression of people of color in light of events of police brutality. This form of protest has gained more attention since Sunday, when more players were shown with arms linked, kneeling on the field, sparking a debate over what the players are protesting and whether they should be able to protest at all.

On Monday September 25, the Dallas Cowboys team and its owner, Jerry Jones, linked arms and knelt on the field before the national anthem was played amidst jeers from the crowded arena. Jason Garret, Dallas Cowboys head coach, said in an interview with NFL Total Access they chose that moment to demonstrate for a reason.

“The biggest thing for us was to show support and to demonstrate, but do it in a way that didn’t involve the American flag and the national anthem, and everybody was behind that,” said Garret.

“The reason that I’m particularly proud of this team and the coaches that coached them, is because we all agreed that our players wanted to make a statement about unity and we wanted to make a statement about equality,” said Jerry Jones.

Jones is not the only owner to kneel with his team. Arthur Blank of the Atlanta Falcons and Dan Snyder of the Washington Redskins also kneeled with their teams. Donald Trump has spoken out against the NFL, urging for a rule that forces the players to stand for the anthem and sees kneeling as a sign of disrespect on the United States rather than a silent protest for social equality. He shared his opinion through a series of tweets.

Many Americans agreed with his statements. Taya Kyle, widow of ‘American Sniper’, Chris Kyle, shared her thoughts about the issue in a letter to the NFL on Facebook. In the letter, she claims the NFL’s job was to “bring people together and heal the world” and feels that their recent protests go against that.

“You are asking us to abandon what we loved about togetherness and make choices of division,” Kyle said.

Not all Americans feel the same way as President Trump and Taya Kyle.

Olivia Okoye, freshman, also supports the players kneeling. “It’s their right to kneel. If they feel that they should do it, it’s their right.”

“I think they are standing as a team no matter what race they are because it affects all races. There are all races in the NFL,” said Arlena Lightsey, freshman.

Zane Watson, freshman, was on the fence about the issue.

“It’s their right as human beings to represent their opinions, but those opinions can reflect badly on the organization,” he said.

One Play can Change Everything

Kevin Luthringer

Injuries have always been a big part of any sport. No one knows when and how a player could get hurt so there is no way to plan for it. More often than not an injury can derail a team especially if it happens in the postseason or the playoffs. That is exactly what has happened this year in the 2016 NBA Playoffs.

The Golden State Warriors, who broke the record of most wins in a single season by a team with a 73-9 record, saw their MVP go down not once but twice. In Game 1 of their series with the Houston Rockets, last year’s MVP and the presumptive MVP for this year, Steph Curry tweaked his ankle. He was able to return to action after missing the next two games in Game 4. As if it wasn’t bad enough seeing him go down once, in the first half of Game 4 he seemed to slip on a wet spot where an opponent had fallen just before. When he fell he hyperextended his knee which could sideline him for up to two weeks. This could have been a devastating injury, but the Los Angeles Clippers experienced worse.

In Game 4 of the Clippers’ series with the Portland Trailblazers right after Steph Curry got hurt for the second time, the Clips saw their two best players go down in less than 2 hours. The leader and point guard of the team, Chris Paul fractured his hand which would sideline him indefinitely. If that was not a big enough blow, Blake Griffin, their All-Star power forward re-injured his quad taking him out for the remainder of the playoffs.

So instead of a fully loaded 4th seeded Clipper team going up against a limp Steph Curry-led 1st seeded Warriors team, the Clippers couldn’t make it out of the first round. After the two injuries, the Clippers would go on to lose the rest of the games allowing the Trailblazers to advance to the second round against the Warriors. The Warriors team is now handling the Trailblazers fairly easy in the absence of their MVP, which most likely would not have been the case against the Clips.

Injuries are always an unavoidable part of sports, and lately it seems that they have had huge impacts on the NBA Playoffs. Either way, all we can hope for is for the stars to stay healthy for the rest of the Playoffs and an entertaining run to the Finals!

TAMUT Baseball Program Continues to Make History

Andy Verke Jr.

The Texas A&M University-Texarkana baseball team is in its inaugural season and have already set the bar high for years to come. In its first year they have gained national recognition from social media with Kenneth Fudge’s walk off grand slam epic bat flip and against Georgia Gwinnett for having fireworks going off in the middle of game two. In addition to the fame from social media, on March 15, 2016, The 2016 NAIA Baseball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll was released and the TAMUT Eagles Baseball team receiving four votes in the top 25. Now that may not sound like a big deal but for a first year program it shows what they have accomplished.

To put the cherry on top of the season, the TAMUT Baseball Team qualified for the A.I.I. (Association of Independent Institutions) Conference tournament as the #3 seed. Their first game will be on Saturday, May 7th at noon as they take on Edward Waters College (the #6 seed) out of Jacksonville, Florida.

All conference tournament games will be streamed on Grizzly Digital Network. Prices for streaming are $7.95 for a single game or $29.95 for the all tournament pass which includes every game.

There are eight teams in the double elimination tournament and the first, second, and third place teams will receive automatic qualifying bids to the NAIA Baseball Regional Tournament.

Congratulations to the TAMUT Baseball program and continue to make history.

Life of a College Baseball Player

Andy Verke Jr.

5am alarm goes off, you want to hit snooze but you know you can’t because you still need to grab a snack before morning weights at 6. 5:45 am you’re in the gym stretching with the position guys because Coach Jones always says “if you’re not 15 minutes early, you’re late!”. It’s about 7:15 am and while people are starting to wake from their nights sleep you are in the empty cafeteria getting breakfast, showering, and getting ready for day of classes.

From 9-1pm you’re busy with classes and only 15 minutes in between each class to grab a small bite to eat. Class is done for the day but you still have to go back to your dorm room, change then head to the field for early hitting at 1:30.

For the next 3-4 hours you are dialed in on baseball and paying attention to the details. During those 3-4 hours you will have a bunt scrimmage, situational hitting scrimmage, batting practice, and conditioning. Star drills… The consequence of not paying attention to detail. So what is a star drill? It is when you start at home plate and run to the center field wall, back to home plate, down the right field line to the foul pole, across the outfield to the left field foul pole, and finally back to home in two minutes and 20 seconds or less.

It’s approximately 5:30pm and you are finally done with practice and have to head back to the dorms to get dinner, shower, and gather your things to go to the library. After your dinner you head to the library to study for test, do your homework, and complete any projects you have. It’s 11pm and the library is closing but you still have to finish some of your homework, so you go to the study room in the dorms and complete your homework for the night.

By the time you get done with your homework it’s 12:30 and you have to be up in four and a half hours to do it all again.

It takes a lot of discipline and sacrifice, but I wouldn’t change a thing.

Love of the Game

Jamie Williamson

It takes a certain type of kid to play tournament softball or be the parent of the athlete who plays. I get to witness both of these people in my niece and my sister. My niece has been playing softball since she was 6. She is now 13 and her love is still there and doesn’t seem to be fading. She also found she had a natural ability to pitch. She started pitching and has only gotten better over time. As she got older she started playing tournament softball which is a completely different game than the local league ball she had been playing. Tournament ball takes dedication, time, and practice. My sister has been there through the years never missing a game.

I have watched my niece grow up playing the game she loves and often time sacrificing other things to play tournaments on the weekends. Her weekends are usually dedicated to softball as is most of her week. She has to juggle pitching and batting lessons as well as team practices around school work and hanging with friends. She does all this without complaint to get the chance to play a game she is good at and loves. She wants to be a professional softball player when she gets older. I would say she has the talent and drive to get there.

I have also gotten to witness my sister always being there for her daughter in support of the game she loves. My sister never complains about having to sacrifice her time or money to give my niece the chance to pursue her dreams. She is always at every game and encourages not only her daughter but every girl out on the field. She is the team mother on my nieces current team and over sees everything the team needs. If a girl were to need anything while playing a tournament my sister is the one to go to her bag is always filled with the essentials.

Right now they are both working toward going to the FASA World Series in Branson Missouri. My sister taking care of getting all the girls shirts, towels, and pins for the opening ceremonies. My niece is playing in a tournament every weekend to earn points for her team. They are also both working on fundraisers to get enough money to cover costs while in Branson for a week. Both of them would not be who they are if it weren’t for softball tournaments.

Stars in the Stanley Cup Race

Jamie Williamson

The Dallas Stars have made it to the Stanley Cup Finals! The Dallas Stars earned their spot in the playoffs before the end of regular season. The Stars ended the regular season in the number one spot in their division. This meant they knew they would play the first round of playoffs no matter what. The stars have only made the playoffs three times in the last five years.

After advancing to the first round of playoffs the Stars had to play the Minnesota Wild. The first round was going to be an intense match up between the two teams. Every time these two teams have met it has been a showdown until the last-minute of the game. The Stars knew they had to come out strong in the first round to make a good show to stay in the playoffs. The series of games ended in the Stars beating the Wild in games.

The Stars advanced to the second round of playoffs and now face the St Louis Blues. The Stars played the first games against the Blues on April 29, 2016. The game was a match of players both trying to gain the advantage and score the most points. The score was 0-0 throughout the first period. The change in score came when the Stars scored in the second period. The Blues followed the Stars and scored their first goal shortly after the Stars to tie the game 1-1. The score was still tied heading into the third period. The Stars came out and kept getting the puck to the net, but couldn’t manage to get one to go in. With three minutes left in the game the Stars scored to give the 2-1 lead over the Wild. The Stars managed to hold the lead until the buzzer sounded and the game was over. The Stars now lead the series over the Blues.

The Stars need to maintain their momentum going forward in the second round of playoff games. If they can keep up the winning then they will be well on their way to winning a Stanley Cup. If they can make it all the way it will be the first time they have achieved this since 1999.


Athletic Budgets

Rebekah Drennon

Middle School Jeremiah Crawford. Abandoned by his father, lives with his grandmother who does the best she can, a detention regular who barely passed his classes. High School Jeremiah Crawford. Varsity athletics all three years, he doesn’t even know the definition of junior varsity. All State Football Player his sophomore year, all district basketball player, baseball player, track star, and B Honor Roll. Jeremiah Crawford. Currently a junior at Mineola High School, and one of the top 3A recruits for college football.

I am sure most of us have participated in some form of athletics during our lifetime. This could be anything from football, to tennis, to cross-country. I am also sure that sometime during your participation in this activity, you have heard someone say that too much money is invested in this area and that budgets should be cut.

Athletics is so much more than wearing cute uniforms and winning medals. High School athletics to Jeremiah is, and I quote, “My lifeline, probably kept me out of juvie.” Athletics is beneficial to school systems, and the budgets should most certainly not be cut. Athletics improves academics, students who participate tend to be healthier, and athletics teaches good morals.

 Our first benefit of athletics is that it improves academics. Now, wait a minute. Don’t sports take up a ton of time? The answer to this is yes. So, if sports take up time, wouldn’t that mean students have less time to focus on school? Yes, and no. A study done by the University of Missouri accessed April 2nd on MUhealth.org- talks about skill sets that are directly relevant to classwork. The study shows that sports require “memorization, repetition and learning. The determination and goal-setting skills sports require can be transferred to the classroom. “From this study we gather that the skills learned on the field and court can also be applied sitting at a desk. These skills help student athletes learn how to focus and, therefore, they can pay better attention in class and receive better grades. As you can see, even though time is taken up by these events, the quality of time spent on academics is actually enhanced.

Students who participate in athletics also tend to be healthier. We all know, obviously, that it helps decrease the amount of obesity. So that is not what we are going to cover. What you might not know is studies have shown that participating in physical activity prevents diseases.

According to the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Sport for Development accessed April 2, 2016 – “Physical activity… contributes to developing healthy bones and efficient heart and lung functions.” Athletics helps prevent chronic diseases including cardiovascular, diabetes, cancer, and depression.

We have seen how athletics improves academics and health, but one of the most important qualities to me, is that athletics teaches students good morals.  Athletic Director Joe Drennon from Mineola ISD has been coaching for more than 25 years. He said, “Athletics is a big part of a student’s life in the fact that it helps prepare them for the real world and teaches them how to earn their way everyday. That nothing is a given. It teaches them how to be thankful for their victories, and learn from their defeats.” After almost every sporting event fans observe both teams shaking hands and telling each other good job. This might not seem like a big deal, but one of those teams didn’t come out top. They had to learn how to accept their defeat and move forward. They had to learn how to improve so they could fix their mistakes and compete better the next time.

As you can see, athletics is more than just throwing a ball down a field or kids “looking cool” in jerseys. And according to the National Federation of State High School Associations accessed April 2, 2016 – “more than 7.6 million high school students, 55% of our student population, participates in athletics.” The funding going towards athletics provides for more than just sports. It provides an opportunity for students, some like Jeremiah, who would have otherwise taken a completely different path. He is on the fast track to college, whereas in middle school, he wanted nothing more than to drop out. Athletics provides classroom enhancement, health benefits, and good morals. So before you think about cutting athletic budgets at your local schools, remember the 7.6 million, remember the benefits, and remember Jeremiah.

MLB Opening Day 2016

Derrick Flowers

After a long winter, the 2016 Major League Baseball season is finally here. The superstars are locked in and ready to give their fans what they have been so desperately waiting for. Perhaps the San Diego Padres did not get the memo. Opening Day 2016 the Padres took on the Los Angeles Dodgers in San Diego. Dodger’s new skipper Dave Roberts had to take a moment to soak up the new atmosphere as his team took the field. Dodger ace, Clayton Kershaw, took the hill and managed to keep the Padres from scoring a single run while posting nine strike outs in just seven innings of work. Dodgers skipper had this to say about his ace, “It was a good day,” Roberts said. “There were a lot of good things that happened. Obviously it starts with Kershaw and the tone that he sets, him going out there and getting after guys. When you’ve got No. 1s going against each other, you don’t expect to get that many hits and score that many runs.” With the win on opening day Kershaw improved his opening day record to 4-0 in six starts. The Dodger offense did not leave their ace hanging as they managed to score 15 runs. Important contributors to the offense explosion were Adrian Gonzalez who had three of Los Angeles’ 17 hits and three RBI and A.J Ellis also drove in three runs. Chase Utley had three hits and two RBI in the win as well. The final score of 15-0 on opening day made the Padre’s loss the largest opening day shutout in Major League history. What a way to kick off the 2016 campaign.

And Then There Were Four

Kevin Luthringer

Yet another weekend of the NCAA tournament down and it is clear to me that this thing simply is impossible to predict. As we head into the Final Four, and the last weekend of this great tournament, the title March Madness seems to fit once again.

The first night of the Sweet 16 lacked any real close games. The Aggies disappointed, and Buddy “Buckets” from Oklahoma impressed once again as OU rolled easily.

Kansas continued to look the part of the number 1 overall seed as they beat Maryland by 16.

To end the night, ’Villanova did what they do and beat Miami handily.

A little surprisingly, Duke failed to give the number 1 seed Oregon much of a game.  Coach K, however, did not fail to give us something to talk about. In the press conference, Dillon Brooks, an Oregon Forward and a very good player, told a reporter that Coach Krzyzewski came up to him after the game and told him that he was “too good of a player to be showing off in the end.”  Coach K, in his press conference, denied that he said it, and that people can believe what they want to. What Coach K failed to realize is that nothing is private in today’s world.  Audio of the after game conversation came out the next day and it was clear that what Brooks said was indeed true. The Duke coach later came out publicly and said that he reacted wrongly to a reporter after the game when asked about the incident. He also said he had since called the Oregon Coach and apologized for talking to his player.  Ok, enough “Real Housewives of Durham”, back to the basketball….

In some of these less exciting games we had North Carolina continue to look like the best team in the tournament as they beat Indiana by 15 and Virginia beating Iowa State by 13 despite the Cyclones senior Georges Niang scoring a game high 30 points.

Then to round out the Sweet 16 we had two close games.  Syracuse continued their improbable run and beat Gonzaga in a comeback win despite trailing the majority of the game. Michael Gbinje hit the go-ahead bucket with just 22 second left and Syracuse was able to survive and advance. The other game was Notre Dame and Wisconsin and this was tight throughout.  Wisconsin’s offense staggered late and turned the ball over multiple times in the last couple of minutes. The Irish scored the final 8 points of the game in a span of 18 seconds and held on to beat the Badgers.

In the Elite 8 we finally got to some better games. Kansas and Villanova came down to the wire, with Villanova winning by 5. The Wildcats really showed how versatile they were on defense holding Kansas’ senior star Perry Ellis to just 5 points on 1-5 shooting from the floor. That same day you had the aforementioned Buddy Hield, who basically put the Sooners on his back, going for 37 with 8 three pointers. Oklahoma was able to beat Oregon by 12 in a game they seemed to be in control of the entire time.

On Sunday we saw the last two tickets punched into the Final Four, with North Carolina again showing that their overall talent and length is just too much for opponents (at least so far). Notre Dame played them tough, but in the end the Tar Heels were just too good.

The best game of the weekend, and maybe even a bigger collapse then Northern Iowa just a week before, saw 1 seed Virginia with a comfortable lead most of the game.  Suddenly Syracuse exploded.  Starting the second half down 16, and lead by freshman Malachi Richardson (who scored 21 of his 23 in the second half), Syracuse eventually would go on a 29-8 run that would make them the first 10 seed to ever make the Final Four.

At the end of the day you had a Final Four made up of Villanova, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Syracuse. With just one more weekend left to play and most of the brackets completely busted (especially yours truly), we are set for a great finale to the college basketball season.

Too Much Zach Randolph Dooms Bulls

Anthony Hamilton

It was a festive atmosphere inside the Fed Ex Forum, as the Chicago Bulls and Memphis Grizzlies prepared to square off. The Grizzlies came in having lost 6 straight games. The Bulls were 2 games out of the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls were severely short-handed, missing starting  power forward Taj Gibson, and key reserve E’twaun Moore. It wouldn’t take the Grizzlies long to exploit the absence of Taj Gibson, as Zach Randolph would have his way with Bulls rookie Bobby Portis. Derrick Rose returned from his elbow injury, but his shot wasn’t falling, and all-star shooting guard Jimmy Butler was held to 5 points, all in the 4th quarter after the game was out of reach.

The game appeared as if it would be competitive as the Bulls trailed 23-21 at the end of the first quarter. Then the wheels fell off. Over the course of the next 2 quarters, turnovers and missed shots led to the Bulls being out scored 60-44. Down 16 points at the start of the 4th quarter, the Bull trimmed the Grizzlies lead to 11, but that was as close as they would get, as the Grizzlies, led by Zach Randolph with 27 points and 10 rebounds, and Vince Carter with 17 points, would go on to defeat the Bulls 108-92. The Bulls were led by Nikola Mirotic with 20 points, and Pau Gasol with 17 points and 10 rebounds. For Grizzlies fans, this night was festive indeed.

Derrick Rose looks for a cutter

Derrick Rose looks for a cutter

Derrick Rose brings the ball up as Jimmy Butler and Bobby Portis look on.

Derrick Rose brings the ball up as Jimmy Butler and Bobby Portis look on.