Progress on the New Baseball Stadium

Kyle Bender ‘12 – As part of a $6.2 million upgrade to the Wabash College outdoor athletics facilities, work has now began on the new baseball stadium to be built on the southwest side of the Allen Center. 

During the next few months, the construction crew will work simultaneously on the baseball stadium and the FieldTurf installation at Hollett Little Giant Stadium. The new football field will be complete for the upcoming season. The 2010 campaign kicks off September 11 versus Wooster at 1:00 p.m.
The lot designated for the baseball stadium has already been cleared of trees and power lines. Drainage and sewer pipes will soon be run under the construction site. In the coming days, top soil will be removed and an outline of the field and dugouts will start to take shape. 
Needless to say, many in the Wabash community are excited about the project, perhaps none more than the baseball team’s players and coaches. The team has played baseball in Mud Hollow Field for the last 52 years and is eager to move to a brand-new stadium.
Head Baseball Coach Cory Stevens and former Wabash baseball player Steve Hoffman ’85 were able give us their thoughts on what the stadium means to the program:
Coach Stevens even gave a visual walking tour of where the finished product will stand:

The Intern

Jim Amidon — Tomorrow is my 45th birthday, which means exactly nothing other than that I’m now closer to 50 than I am to 40. It also means I’ve been working at Wabash College for more than half my life.
Indeed, it was more than half a lifetime ago when I spent three summers in Crawfordsville while attending the College. In those days, very few students stuck around in the summer, and the handful of international students who did mostly worked in the library or the gym.
I never had the opportunity to be closely involved with faculty or staff during my Wabash summers in Crawfordsville. Sure, I worked with my history professor, George Davis, for about a week on a project long since forgotten. One summer, my theater professor, Dwight Watson, asked me to help him with a staged reading of a play for a group of business executives spending time on campus.
But those experiences were much, much different from what’s going on at Wabash this summer.
At some point or another, more than 125 students will be on campus and involved in research, study, or immersion learning programs. We sent future high school teachers to Ecuador for a month of in-country study and teaching. A dozen guys are involved in the summer Business Immersion Program, which packs about three semesters of business classes into eight weeks.
There are about 20 students working collaboratively with faculty in Hays Science Hall alone. The biology, chemistry, and neuro-psychology research projects range from cell membrane permeability to tropical grasses to what in the brain causes someone to become addicted to drugs. In Goodrich Hall, at least another 20 students are doing research in math and physics.
These guys are not just go-fers fetching coffee or washing test tubes. We’ve got soon-to-be sophomores doing brain surgery on rats and juniors making real-world scientific discoveries.
In my time at Wabash, you mowed lawns, cleaned pools, or — in my case — worked at the local radio station in order to save up money for college.
Today, Wabash students are paid to work with faculty on their research. In fact, five Wabash faculty members received national research grants last year, which included significant funding to pay student researchers.
This year, we were approved to hire an intern in the Public Affairs and Marketing Office. We selected Kyle Bender, a pre-law student from Delphi, who was once an excellent high school baseball player before injuries forced him to hang up his cleats. Since he’s not barn-storming in the summer college baseball circuit, we’re fortunate to have him about 30 hours a week.
And like those students in Hays and Goodrich halls, Kyle isn’t sitting around making coffee (though I wish he would once in a while) or filing press releases. We’ve tried to expose him to the full breadth of the work we do in public affairs.
In his first week on the job, we had him write a blog, work on a video interview, and take photos — all to tell different types of stories about the new synthetic playing surface being installed at Hollett Little Giant Stadium.
Kyle had never done a video interview. He’d never written a blog. He’d never used a pro-level digital camera. We needed to teach Kyle how to do those things one time, and off he went, ready to roll up the sleeves and learn by experience.
Howard Hewitt has given him editing tips on his writing. Steve Charles has advised him how to listen well during an interview. Adam Bowen is teaching him digital video production.
Like all of Wabash’s summer interns, Kyle is learning while doing; it’s hands-on learning in the truest sense.
Last week we sent Kyle to Hays Hall to spend time with biology professor Amanda Ingram and her student interns. They’re doing NSF grant-funded research on tropical grasses, about which I know little and understand even less.
What we’re trying to do with Kyle is to teach him how to spend enough time and ask enough questions to understand the science, then turn it back around as a story for the general public (with photographs).
It’s one thing to write a story so filled with scientific jargon that an average reader never finishes the second sentence. Kyle will become a stronger writer when he both learns the science and then learns how to communicate the same science in an understandable, compelling way.
Unlike the student interns in the sciences, who will likely go to medical or graduate schools, Kyle Bender probably won’t ever become a PR guy or journalist. But learning to become a clear and effective communicator might just be the best possible preparation before he starts law school in a couple of years.
Now if I can just teach him how to load the coffee maker.

Lime Being Added to Field

Kyle Bender ’12 – Hollett Little Giant Field saw a flurry of activity Friday morning as crews poured large truck loads of lime across the playing surface.

The lime is being put down to help dry up moisture that has seeped into the ground as a result of the numerous thunderstorms that have hit Crawfordsville during the month of June.

Dennis Marsh, who is assistant project manager, said the lime will provide another layer of drainage for the field, which will have several additional layers of gravel added next week. Cement drains have been poured on the inside of more than half the track oval.

A new development to the field progress was the addition of electrical wires protruding from the earthy soil. The wires were run underground to several locations on the field, including the site of the new scoreboard located on the southeast corner of the stadium. 

Get a quick panoramic view of the project in the short video clip below:


Rural Medicine and Rattlesnakes

Jim Amidon — I’ve enjoyed reading all of the blog entries from our students doing on-campus research, traveling on Dill grants, studying in the Business Leaders Program, and those who are involved in various internships on and off campus.
Usually the snapshots we get from students are bad and don’t really indicate the depth or nature of their work. In fact, we usually get pretty bad mug shots of our guys standing in front landmarks or recognizable buildings.
(Many of our students take the photos themselves – an arm extended far away and an out-of-proportion face tilted one way or the other.)
I’ve been following along with Kevin McCarthy’s summer experience in a rural medicine internship in Eastern Kentucky. We’ve not published Kevin’s work, but he has shared a number of his journal entries.
I’ve discovered that the All-American distance runner and pre-med student is also a really fine writer. While his journal entries tend to be stream of consciousness — with all that means in terms of spelling, grammar, and punctuation — Kevin is tremendously perceptive.
He studies the subtleties of the environments he inhabits, which range from mountainside trailers with trash piled high to local schools to the fishing tackle section at the local Walmart. He’s also very descriptive as a writer, and the combination of perception and description make for fun reading.
I hope Kevin will submit an essay about his summer in rural medicine that we can publish on the website or in Wabash Magazine. Or perhaps he’ll allow us to publish some excerpts from his terrific journal entries.
Not many Wabash students spend their summer doing the kind of work Kevin is doing. He’s in some rough places dealing with off-the-chart levels of obesity, diabetes, all sorts of cancers, and poverty. He’s observed midwives, bariatric surgery, and home health care.
He was very nearly taken out by a rattlesnake, too.
Yep, I’m talking rural medicine. In the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. Where local guard dogs chase Kevin every place he goes and when he finally has time to stretch out his legs, he runs up against a potentially deadly timber rattler.
Kevin did the smart thing — he got the heck out of there and went for help. After finding a guy with lots of experience dealing with snakes, Kevin returned to the spot where he found the snake and, moments later, well, there was no more snake.
While we don’t have photos of Kevin involved in rural medicine, he did send a few shots of the dead snake. (We are sorry, though, that Kevin didn’t get in close and pose with the viper.)
And maybe that’s because Kevin later found out that in those parts, where there’s one rattlesnake, there is usually a second one nearby.
That ought to keep Kevin on his toes… and running quickly.
In the mean time, he’s gaining valuable pre-med experience by seeing all aspects of healthcare in a rural community. And as one of the only men involved in this particular program, Kevin sees opportunities for a stronger Wabash connection in the future.

Alum’s Marina is Top Family Business in Wisconsin

Steve Charles—Just finished fact-checking a story I wrote for the upcoming issue of Wabash Magazine about Tom Whowell ’62, who, with his family, owns and operates Gordy’s Lakefront Marine, the largest full-service marina on Wisconsin’s Geneva Lake.

Tom gave me a tour of the place and a generous and fascinating interview last summer, at which time Gordy’s had earned special recognition as one of the top family businesses in the state. But that was old news: Gordy’s was just named the top medium-sized family-owned business in Wisconsin for 2010.

Another example of why we always check—and re-check—our facts!

Congratulations to Tom and his family.

Our story about Tom — "The Classic Entrepreneurial Attitude"—is being published in the Spring 2010 edition of WM, in mailboxes late July.


Construction Crew Pouring Cement for Drainage

Kyle Bender ’12 – It has been not quite as busy at the football field construction site, where new FieldTurf surface is being installed. 

Warm weather has now dried the field and work resumed Thursday morning. Preparation for a cement drain running along the inside of the track oval is being made. For a glimpse of the progress, click here.

Project Manager Mike Strolle said the construction remains on schedule, as rain days were built into the expected August 1 deadline. He also said once the concrete drains are finished and a layer of gravel is laid on the field, rain will not be as big of an issue. 
Check back next week to see a video of the baseball field and hear Head Coach Cory Stevens and members of the team about how the new stadium will affect their program.

Weather Can’t Slow Field Project

Howard Hewitt – Weather conditions over the past week and a half haven’t been great, but workers are busily progressing on Wabash’s new Athletic Fields construction projects . Our Public Affairs summer intern Kyle Bender ’12 went out with the camera Tuesday and took some updated shots. He also found an interesting story at the old football field.

Here are Kyle’s photos from June 8.

Here are some Jim Amidon photos from May 28.

Here are photos Jim shot May 27.

Bender ’12 Gains Real Appreciation for Big Bash

Kyle Bender ’12 – When interviewing for the Public Affairs and Marketing intern position, I was told there was only one weekend of the summer that I would be required to work – the Big Bash reunion weekend.  As I’d long looked for an excuse to attend the event, I jumped at the opportunity. 

Reflecting now upon the weekend, I can honestly say that it was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had in my time at Wabash.  While the Public Affairs staff put in long, grueling hours throughout the three day event to make sure the website was always kept up-to-date with almost real-time coverage, it really didn’t feel like work.  Rather, I found myself losing track of time, amazed with the number of alumni who had returned to reunite with long lost classmates and see how much their college has changed. 

The wide range of assignments that I was given allowed me to attend many events, from a variety of perspectives.

For example, my first task was to photograph the Wally Wabash golf outing at Rocky Ridge Golf Club.   This combined my love for the game of golf with a skill that I had no grasp of – photography.  However, I soon realized that it really isn’t too hard to take pictures of Wabash men at the golf course on a beautiful summer day.  Everyone was in a jovial mood. 

As part of my Public Affairs office rite-of-passage, the staff thought it would be great for me to spend Saturday morning as Wally Wabash during the Alumni Chapel Sing competition.  Originally slated to be held on the chapel steps, on a hot June day I would have only lasted ten minutes in the heavy costume before needing fresh air.  Fortunately for me, but unfortunate for the event, Saturday’s weather did not cooperate and the sing was held in Chadwick Court, site of much cooler temperatures. 

Playing Wally allowed me to move within the classes as they competed for the coveted Chapel Sing trophy. The level of determination of some of these men was incredible and I would have hated to be the judge of the competition.  It was also fun to pose with many alumni and their wives, although I never quite got over the phenomenon of not needing the perfect smile for every picture with the huge Wally head on.

However, it was the people I met that truly made my weekend unforgettable.  Al Wright ’50 drove all the way from New Jersey to be at the Big Bash.  I met him at the golf outing, where he was meticulously cleaning the very same golf clubs that he uses as he walks his local country club every morning.  He was so interested in hearing about my career plans and what was going on at the College that he almost missed the shot gun start.

Or Tom Freeman ’70.  Both natives of Delphi, Indiana, as well as brothers of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, Tom has been a man that I have long admired but never met.  I was fortunate to spend several moments with he and his wife as his class celebrated their 40th reunion. 

But perhaps the highlight of the weekend for me, from a professional standpoint, was the opportunity to interview Dean Reynolds ’70, longtime ABC and CBS news correspondent.  Reynolds gave a colloquium Saturday afternoon to a packed audience, giving his thoughts on the health of today’s news.  Simply talking with someone who has covered some of the biggest stories in our generation was an unbelievable experience, but it was even more special because it was a fellow Wabash man. 
For a Wabash College student, it was inspiring to spend time with these great alumni because it made me realize just how closely I am connected to them.  They once sat in the very same classrooms in Baxter and Center halls that I study in today.  We share some of the same professors and traditional experiences.  We are Wabash brothers.

As I admire all the accomplishments they have achieved after graduation, I cannot help but think of the members of my own class and know that there are many within destined for greatness.  Although it may seem galaxies away, someday there will be successful doctors, lawyers, and businessmen from the class of 2012. 

Most of us are at Wabash today because of an alum, usually someone we’d always admired in the community but never known where they attended college, took the time to recommend that we visit the campus.  The contributions and support they give largely funds our college, which allow competitive financial packages to be awarded to the best and brightest students that rival almost any school in the nation.  These men carry on the tradition and excellence that Wabash maintained for over 175 years. 

I pray that my classmates and I can show the same type of commitment and love for our alma mater that many of these graduates express on a daily basis.  They are what makes this place great.