Know The Mountain

By Brent Harris

"Know where the mountain is at all times."

That’s a phrase the Wabash golf team may never forget after playing a round at the exclusive and historic Desert Forest Golf Course in Carefree, Arizona. You see, the course is located near the base of the Black Mountain. Every grain of grass on the greens goes toward the mountain. So even if the putt looks uphill, find the mountain. That’s the way the ball will break.

It was a tough lesson to learn. After spending nine holes with senior Elliot Vice and junior JP Manalo and their course member host Bill McRea, I raced ahead to join seniors Aaron Selby and Jonathan McDowell and freshman Jordan Vice. Every time they reached the green, they would remind each other, "where’s the mountain. Know the mountain."

Another thing to know is the weather. The Phoenix area was in the midst of a 140-day drought, one of the longest in the region’s history. That’s come to an end.The team played in 50-degree weather, but was surprised when the light rain that started late in the round turned to hail, then light snow. Twenty minutes later the sun came out and no remnants of the snow could be found. Welcome to the great Southwest.

After the round the group gathered with Wabash alum Dick Hurckes ’56, who hosted the team at the course for day. They talked about the course, playing the ball off the desert surrounding the course, overseeding the golf course (Wabash players say yes with the other popular phrase of the day being, "overseed." I think love of the course and the history of its development may win out in the end), and, of course, Wabash College.

They even took a moment to pose for a picture taken by a DePauw alumnus who is also a member of the club who took a moment to joke with the team and talk about his memories of the rivalry between the two schools.

Photos – (top) Freshman Jordan Vice tees off with the Black Mountain clearly in view.

(middle) Hail gathers on the practice green near the club house.

(bottom) The golf team with alum Dick Hurckes in the clubhouse after the round.

Keeping Spring Break Work Interesting

Howard W. Hewitt – Much is made about Wabash’s overseas immersion learning trips which happen over Spring Break and later this spring. Students are in Prague studying math. Another group has an exciting trip to really soak in New York City’s culture. A political science class is studying our federal government up close and seeing the sights of our nation’s capital.

The new spring break immersion learning experience is staying closer to home and tackling some tough work. Eleven students are spending the week in Indianapolis with Ken Turchi ’80 and learning about marketing. Click here to read the student blog on the marketing experience.

To keep the topic interesting the group met with a small coffee shop owner competing against Starbucks, visited the Indiana Pacers marketing director, and attended a Pacer game.

The group will hit the road from its Indianapolis base Wednesday and Thursday. Wednesday’s travel is to Muncie where a group of Wabash alums run a marketing firm. Thursday’s trip is to discuss marketing with the College Football Hall of Fame at South Bend. The students are scheduled to have dinner with small groups of alumni  in Muncie and South Bend.

While it’s not spending hours on the beach in Florida or even on the couch eating mom’s cooking, the students seem to dive in to the experience. Discussion and interaction in the classroom setting has been dynamic. But like many Wabash activities they seem to enjoy each other’s company, tackle each part of the day as a shared experience, and keep coming back for more.

That’s not unlike a typical week with regular classes on campus. This is the first year for the Marketing Immersion trip. It’s intense with an aggressive schedule. But it’s also a great complement to a student’s education – especially if they have an interest in business.

In photo: Marketing Immersion leader Ken Turchi.

Alums, Athletes Enjoy Arizona Atmosphere

By Brent Harris

The Wabash baseball team would have been a little happier Sunday night had it picked up a second victory against RIT to go 2-0 to start the season. But many of the thoughts of the day’s events faded into the distance with a get-together for the Wabash athletes, coaches, and their families at the home of Mike Rapier ’87 and his wife, Cindy.

Joined by the Little Giant golf team, the athletes and coaches shared food, stories, and laughter while enjoying the start of a week of activities in Arizona. Both teams will practice and play in the sun-drenched Southwest before returning to campus at the end of spring break. Sunday night was less about athletic endeavors and everything about the special connection between Wabash men. Golfers and baseball players enjoyed great food and conversation, along with the incredible hospitality of the Rapiers. Talk of birdies, putts, base hits, and RBIs turned to midterms and summer plans amid the cool Arizona breeze.

Both teams return to their various arenas Monday. The golf team will head to We-Ko-Pah Golf Course, then travel to Eagle Mountain Tuesday thanks to the efforts of alumnus John Gallios ’52. Wednesday Dick Hurckes ’56 will host the team for a practice at the Desert Forest Golf Course before a Thursday match against Mesa Community College at Dobson Ranch Golf Course. The linksters close the week at Wigwam Golf Course and an afternoon with Roger Colehower ’65.

The Wabash baseball team will play Monmouth College Monday, followed by a Tuesday doubleheader against Wartburg. After a day off Wednesday, the Little Giants play Coe College, then take on Wisconsin Lutheran Friday. The final two games of the Arizona trip come Saturday morning against William Paterson of New Jersey before heading back to the airport and trip to Crawfordsville.

On behalf of the baseball and golf teams, thanks to the alums and the families who have supported the two teams during their Arizona trip. And a special thank you to the Rapiers for the wonderful event at their home Sunday night!

Photos – (Top left) Freshman Matt Dodaro and Mike Rapier ’87 chat before dinner.

(Bottom left) Head baseball coach Tom Flynn and senior golfer Elliot Vice share a laugh at dinner.

So You Wanna Be a Rock and Roll Star

Jim Amidon — With the smell of a hot griddle and oil from sausage patties and pancakes hanging thickly in the air, I worked my way through a crush of people to find myself a spot near the stage. There were kids, ages 3 to 13, sitting at the feet of the band — literally — and their parents, a bunch of 30- and 40-somethings, sat in eager anticipation of the evening’s featured event.

I had found myself at St. John’s Episcopal Church, site of "Cafe St. John’s," a fund-raiser for the church’s youth group. The idea is to feature the talents — music, poetry, and short fiction — of the church’s members. All I knew was that I was there to see the oft-hyped Wabash faculty band Skrymir at one of its first public shows.

I’ve always wanted to be a rock critic. These guys — Patrick Myers (classics professor and guitarist), Dan Rogers (Spanish professor who plays bass), Stephen Morillo (medieval historian turned keyboard player and vocalist), James MacDougall (guitarist and husband of English professor Joy Castro), and Joe Laskowski (drummer and husband of the Center of Inquiry’s Jenn Laskowski) — want to be rock and roll stars. Well, maybe not "stars," but they do like getting together to play the music of their formative years.

I hear that mathematics professor J.D. Phillips plays a mean guitar but is taking a break from the band because of what they say is a too-full schedule. Phillips is said to be too busy with the presidential search and taking a class trip to Prague over Spring Break. Yeah, right. As a diligent rock critic, though, I’m digging deeper on this story. I’ve heard rumors of creative differences and too many lead vocalist wannabe’s. I’m checking it out.

On this night, though, with that darned smell of pancakes permanently enrobed in my sinuses, I can’t get the great Tom Petty tune out of my mind: "So you want to be a rock and roll star." Even as Skrymir begins with a tribute to Fat Tuesday — "House of the Rising Sun" — I’m thinking about the "agent man" and how there will soon be Stephen Morillo action figures, James MacDougall Hawaiian shirts, and a whole line of Hot Wheels products modeling Dan Rogers’ pick-up truck. Will these guys sell out, even as they play their way through middle age?

"Rising Sun" got the crowd going, and like all bands that take themselves too seriously, Skrymir ditched the covers and went into back-to-back original tunes that led some of the kids back to the table for more pancakes and sausage.

But then the band did what it does best: it returned to a cover tune, this one a wonderful Velvet Underground song called "Rock and Roll" with Laskowski doing an incredible Lou Reed on lead vocals.

As I snaked my way through the crowd, now going wild with applause and shouts of "encore, encore," I thought to myself, "Maybe I do wanna be a rock and roll star." See, I was headed back to write a story and edit my photographs in my lonely office. The band got to sign autographs and fight off scores of groupies (even if said groupies were their own children).

Check out photos of Skrymir by clicking here.

Colakovic Recital Brings Down The House

Brent Harris – Sunday afternoon in Salter Hall senior George Colakovic†presented his senior piano recital, complete with four friends from his hometown of Munster, Indiana to complete a jazz quintet. The five-piece band had the Hall swinging with Take Five, Moment’s Notice, and Well You Needn’t. George softened the mood with the sad and seductive I Remember Clifford.

One of the top moments of the recital came when Colakovic sang and performed an original tune, The Way I Feel. While he described it as more of a pop tune than jazz, the blues and jazz influence that permeated the rest of the selections could certainly be found in this song, as well.

What completed the event were some of people in the audience. You see, George played basketball for the Little Giants for one season before heading to New York as a junior for a semester. When he returned, he decided to concentrate on music and give up varsity hoops. But you could find him three rows behind the Wabash bench at nearly every home game, cheering on his former teammates. Sunday, those teammates were in the audience returning the favor, cheering every song the same way George applauded every time they scored a basket.

Now if George remembers the noon basketball games against me when he becomes a top-selling jazz pianist in a few years, maybe I can find a way to the front row of his first sold-out concert!

Photos – Colakovic at the piano.

(bottom right) Colakovic with jazz piano master Phil DeGreg.

Popovich Nearly a Little Giant

Howard W. Hewitt – Gregg Popovich, coach of the 3-time NBA champion San Antonio, nearly became a Little Giant in 1966. Popovich graduated from Merrillville High School but was not heavily recruited. He ended up playing basketball at the Air Force Academy.

He was featured in the Feb. 24 edition of the Indianapolis Star‘s Five Questions feature.

The first question was if he was recruited by any Indiana colleges:

"The only college I visited was Wabash. I actually pledged a fraternity on my visit there. I loved it down there. Nobody had recruited me; I was just going to go there and major in pre-med and try to play basketball."

He went on to explain the Academy had recruited friends of his to play football and then he looked into the Air Force.

He had a so-so career as a player but got his first head coaching job at Division III Pomona-Pitzer in 1979.

His Spurs have won three world championships since Popovich became coach in 1995.

A Chapel Talk With a Little Fire!

Howard W. Hewitt – Lon Porter wasted little time Thursday morning proving not every Chapel talk has to be ideologically driven or necessarily all that serious. 

Don’t misunderstand; he had a point to make to the student gathering. But the BKT Asst. Prof. of Chemistry used plenty of humor to entertain while encouraging students to embrace their education. 

The title of his talk, maybe the longest in Chapel history, summed it up best: “Well, I’m one of those fortunate people who like my job, Sir: Further Ramblings of a Wabash Chemistry Pledge. An ‘almost’ explosion free presentation by Lon Porter.” 

Oh yes, there was an explosion as you can see in the accompanying photo. But that was just part of the pyrotechnics. Porter used still images and video clips from television and movies to illustrate the influences he felt while growing up.

 Porter talked about the unique times at Wabash as a new president, dean, librarian and other positions are being filled. He noted that weeks before spring break everyone is tired. “We all have that in common,” he said to students, including faculty and staff. 

He talked about how much he enjoyed his job because of his students and relationship with other faculty and staff. 

He reflected on growing up in Texas and an array of humorous childhood memories. He described his journey to becoming a Professor. He remembered being forced into an Honors School at the University of Houston which became his introduction to liberal arts. 

“If they had not forced that on me, I wouldn’t be the person I am today,” he said. He talked about his family’s influence and his marriage to Visiting Instructor of Biology, Maureen McColgin. 

He encouraged the students to not just pass the tests and engage themselves in labs but to “think about what you take away from your class work. 

Porter spoke to Chapel in his first year at Wabash and referred to it as one of the highlights of his career. He admitted he wanted to try the small explosion then, but also feared burning the Chapel might be a bad career move. 

On top of everything else, he delighted the students by sharing it was not only a privilege to give his second Chapel talk but he was doing it on his 29th birthday.

It’s That Time of Year

Jim Amidon — It’s a very special time of the year at Wabash College. Even though winter made a furious return over the weekend, our eyes are on spring. There’s a certain kind of excitement that builds as February transitions to March. It’s a time when we get our first opportunity to see the future of the college.

While walking across campus last Friday, I saw a handful of guys in high school letter jackets. Most Wabash students don’t wear their high school coats once they get here, so what I was seeing was recruiting season moving into full swing. Over the weekend we welcomed a swarm of high school men for a multicultural recruitment program. Today more than 100 students who are ranked in the top 20 percent of their graduating classes are on campus for yet another visit program.

After this, it’s Honor Scholarship Weekend, Fine Arts Fellowship Weekend, and Lilly Scholarship Weekend.

Over the course of the next six weeks or so, we’ll host more than 500 prospective students. If history holds, about half of them will enroll next August.

The college’s future lies in these students. They are our future valedictorians, newspaper editors, and starting linebackers. They are society’s future lawyers, doctors, teachers, and businessmen.

So when I see a family being led around campus by an Admissions tour guide, I pay special attention. When I spy a high school student wearing a letter jacket, I try to see where he’s from, in what sport he’s earned letters, and how big he is. If I see someone who looks lost, I make sure to approach him to see if I can help.

The whole campus joins in this experience. Faculty and staff will welcome guests at receptions, open houses, and special programs throughout the day today and on into the spring. Alumni are making phone calls to prospective students in their area or whose interests are similar. Faculty open their doors to invite prospective students into their classes and offices. Admissions counselors and coaches are working the phones and email lines nearly round the clock. Students lead tours, host meals, and give up their beds to our prospective students.

Perhaps it’s because the recruitment process is so collaborative at Wabash that brings excitement to late winter. Dean of Admissions Steve Klein and President Andy Ford have long held the “we’re in this together” approach to recruitment.

It takes a college to recruit a freshman class.

And I think that’s why so many students who visit campus end up enrolling here. Typically we will enroll about half of the men who step foot on campus. Maybe they see that a college for men really isn’t a cloistered monastery. But I prefer to think that it’s good old Hoosier hospitality at work; a genuine desire to be at our best when we have guests on campus.

At Wabash, we don’t approach recruitment as a chore; we enjoy the opportunity to meet students and their families. When they leave, they so often tell us they had a wonderful experience.

It’s a community effort.

The word “uncertainty” comes to mind when I think about young men pondering college choices. They wonder whether they’ll be able to compete in class and in athletics; whether they’ll make friends; whether they’ll feel comfortable.

When they see the tight bonds of Wabash men and feel the overwhelming sense of community here, they begin to see themselves walking across the mall to attend class, lifting weights in the Allen Center, or singing a solo in Salter Concert Hall.

I’ve seen that look a thousand times — the look of a high school student standing on campus and suddenly realizing Wabash is for him. Every Wabash alumnus I know can tell you the precise moment they made the decision to attend Wabash. And it typically happens on a campus visit like the one we’re hosting today or similar programs in the coming weeks.

I’m excited about seeing those letter jackets and wide eyes today. And I’m even more anxious to catch a glimpse of a young man standing alone on the mall and staring at the Chapel or Center Hall. He’ll be pondering his future and hopefully seeing himself as a Wabash man.

Alumni to Student – One-on-One Help!

Howard W. Hewitt – So much is written and said about Wabash College’s alumni-to-student connections that sometimes we overlook the smaller ones. Such connections happen nearly every day. Sometimes we know about them, and sometimes we instigate such meetings. 

The college has the Alumni Discussion Series, which continued this week with Steve Woods ’93, and continues to develop a long-term program connecting students and alumni. 

But Wednesday night one of those smaller meetings took place that has just as profound an impact for Wabash College. 

Todd Vogel ’04, arguably the best photographer the school has ever produced, was back on campus to help a freshman. Vogel is in medical school at Purdue and will be moving to Indianapolis next school year to continue his medical education. 

Vogel was a chemistry major at Wabash and active photographer for the Bachelor and yearbook. Many of his photos hang across campus. If you’ve ever noticed the great sports shots in the coaches’ offices in the Allen Center, you’ve seen Vogel’s work.

Todd came down Wednesday night to pass on his expertise. He spent part of the afternoon and an exciting evening of basketball with Steve Abbott ’09. Abbott is a freshman with a budding interest in photography. He has shown a keen eye but needed a hand with the technical aspect of the Board of Publications’ photography equipment. 

Todd came down despite a rigorous academic schedule and gave Steve several hours that would have costs a couple hundred bucks from a professional. 

That connection is what we hope students like Abbott remember – that an alum came to help him in an area of expertise the College does not teach. Undoubtedly, one day Abbott may get his turn to help a freshman or young photographer. Steve’s effort with the Bachelor thus far has hinted at a high probability he’ll get the chance some day. 

Thanks guys! 

In photo: Vogel, on right, looks at images with Abbott.

Tim Lake: ‘Build on the Courage’

“Lift every voice and sing

Till earth and heaven ring,

Ring with the harmonies of Liberty …" 

Professor Tim Lake opened his Thursday Chapel talk with the opening stanza of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” perhaps better known as the Negro National Anthem.

Lake recited, from memory, much of the song composed at the turn of the century by James Weldon Johnson to celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. He used the song as a foundation for his remarks about America’s racial past and as a challenge to Wabash students reflecting on their future.

He talked of how the Capitol Rotunda was built by slaves and how the great statue atop the Rotunda was transported and reassembled by slaves. He recalled how President Bill Clinton honored civil rights icon Rosa Parks in 1999 with a Congressional Medal of Honor. The president opened the proceeding that day by having the Negro National Anthem played.

Lake added Clinton sang all three verses without a copy and added with a sly grin that many supposed Clinton to be the only white man in America who would know all three verses.

But Lake, in a soaring and at times dramatic style, ended with a challenge to the students who had gathered for the Thursday morning ritual. 

“As we stand on the cusp of a new day in the life of Wabash College, I want to remind us of the courage and the legacy of courage and that you are the inheritors of that courage,” Lake said. The courage he referred to was of the history of black men and women like Rosa Parks, Johnson, and slaves who built some of the nation’s most patriotic symbols despite the odds against them.

He urged students to look at the names of soldiers who died in the Civil War on the great plaque on front of Center Hall. He asked them to go into the President’s Office and see the painting of Abraham Lincoln depicting the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. And then to go over beyond the Lilly Library and look at the name of Malcolm X inscribed on the Malcolm X Institute.

He reminded them “of the veterans, the Great Emancipator, and of a black shining prince – all who were willing to give their lives for freedom.”

“And that’s your legacy,” the future MXI leader said. “Claim the legacy for your own and let us try to create a world of peace.”

– Howard W. Hewitt, Public Affairs.

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