Random musings

As I near the end of my college career (I will end up one credit short of officially graduating this semester, but that's another story), I'm coming to some realizations. In no particular order:

  • While doing a preliminary search for jobs earlier this month, I discovered there are (or were at the time) six reporting jobs listed in all of Michigan across the three boards I checked.
  • The job situation in public relations is not necessarily much better.
  • Nearly all of these jobs require two to four years experience in journalism, PR or a related field. This brings its own set of questions. Does experience on the college paper count? What about internship sites?
  • It's becoming clear that if I want to do anything with this degree, I may have to make my own job and make myself indispensable to an audience that can't get enough. In my view, that should be the goal of any journalist/writer. The challenge is figuring out what you can write about in order to appeal to an audience that is loyal, but also one that is not so niche that it doesn't attract ad dollars. (Yikes.) It's challenging, but with the slow death of mass media, I may have to give it a shot.
  • This really has nothing to do with anything else, but given the title of this post, why not? The Tigers just traded Prince Fielder for Ian Kinsler. I'm really distracted suddenly.
  • If you're going to freelance, make sure you read the contract. Some of them include provisions that you can resell a story if it's outside a certain radius of a paper the publisher owns. Odds are it won't happen very often, but you never know when something you write might have appeal in more than one market.

Long story short, I think I have a lot I will be finding out over the next few months. I'm ready for adventure.

Golden grizzlies have positive outlook going into the softball season

Oakland University’s softball program has seen its fair share of changes during the off-season, most notably the hiring of a new head coach, Connie Miner.

Miner replaces LaDonia Hughes, who left the program last year following a 10-38 season. The Grizzlies were just 27-67 in Hughes’ two years at the helm.

Miner has previous head coaching experience at Eastern Michigan, San Jose State and the University of California Riverside.

When assessing the team, Miner believes the area with the biggest room for improvement over last year is pitching.

“Our ERA last year was around 6.50 last season and it’s very tough to win games when you are giving up that many runs a game,” she said. “It puts a lot of pressure on the defense and the offense to score a lot of runs.”

Looking to improve play in the pitching circle are freshmen recruits Laura Pond, Erin Kownacki and Sarah Hartley. Each had a strong fall season for the team.

Junior catcher/outfielder Erika Polidori said she expects the freshmen newcomers should be able to contribute early on.

“We have two freshmen pitchers coming in who look like they’re going to play a lot of innings and games,” Polidori, a nursing major, said. “We have a lot of freshmen who are going to look to start and they’re going to bring something special to the team I think.”

Miner also said they need more of the team to hit .300 this year so as to not put the pressure on any one group of players to perform every game

Polidori said Miner has spent a lot of time on the mental aspect of the game with the team.

“She’s done a lot of team building things, a lot of confidence building things, worked a lot on our skills obviously,” said Polidori.

Polidori said she thought the team beat itself a lot last year by letting mistakes pile up until they couldn’t overcome them. She said this year the team has renewed confidence.

“This year it’s going to be having the confidence and knowing that we are good enough to win a lot more games and have a much better record and have the chance to make it to the Summit League conference tournament,” she said.

Being competitive in the Summit League was a goal both Polidori and her coach emphasized.

“Hopefully I can instill in the team to have faith and believe that at the end of the year they will be in a position to get into the tournament because you can do anything if you believe something and have faith in it,” Miner said.

Miner said she will have to hit the ground running on recruiting. The late timing of her hiring means she will have some catching up to do.

“In softball, people are already looking at recruits for the 2015 and 2016 recruiting classes, so coming here I know I am already behind in recruiting some of the best players in the state of Michigan,” she said. “Of course there are kids who will develop later or fall through the cracks but because of the experiences I do not panic about recruiting like a younger coach might.”

Assistant Athletic Director for Development Gordie Lindsay said Miner was hired in part because of her ability to build a program.

“She has built two programs that were similar to ours in Eastern Michigan and UC-Riverside and had tremendous success while coaching several all-conference and conference players of the year,” Lindsay said. “She has a true passion for the sport and has a lot of experience that will help guide this program for years to come.”

In terms of strategy, Miner’s approach is varied.

“I’m not one-dimensional, I like to have a fast team but you also need players who can hit them in so I use small ball and power ball,” she said. “I think you have to take advantage of what the defense gives you.”

In addition to the freshmen, Miner expects continued success for two-time All Summit League selections Polidori and senior second baseman/third baseman Erin Galloway.

Miner said sophomore Jackie Kisman should play well, coming off a strong freshman campaign.

Brittany Prior, a junior, hit the ball really well in the fall, Miner said.

She said junior Shannon Cleveland has taken her coaching tips well and is working to improve her game next season. Junior Chelsea Carena had a good fall season as well.

Oakland opens up the season down south after spring break.

Click here  for a rapidfire audio session with Erika Polidori.

Oakland Golden Grizzlies lose road opener to Louisiana Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns

A total of 20 turnoversand general sloppy play led to the Golden Grizzlies first loss on the road at the hands of the Louisiana Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns Sunday night. Oakland's Junior guard Duke Mondy led all scorers with 30 points shooting 67 percent from the floor. This turned out to be one of the night's only bright spots.

The Ragin' Cajuns meanwhile reaped the benefits of a balanced attack, getting 15 from Elridge Moore and Mbamalu Bryant. Elfrid Payton and Shawn Long each added 14 of their own.

A cold snap to start the second half really hurt the Grizzlies. There was a six minute stretch where it seemed like they couldn't hit a shot. Despite having 16 points, Oakland sharpshooting junior guard Travis Bader could not buy a bucket from Chick-Fil-A.  He did not hit a basket from beyond the arc until after the ten minute mark of the second half.

If the Grizzlies keep having periods like these it will be hard for them to compete with the daunting road schedule they have.  Boise State will be favored at home tonight and after this performance it is hard to see how they will match up with Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Drew Valentine also had 16 points but the Grizzlies will need him to step up more in order to have a shot in the Summit League this year.

Redshirt Sophomore Corey Petros will need to be more assertive on the glass.  With his size, five rebounds just isn't going to cut it.  That said, his baby hook seems to be effective, netting him 12 points on the night.

Still, I think there is cause for concern.  Mario Impemba and Neal Ruhl on the radio call made the comment that this was a very young Louisiana Lafayette team.  It will be interesting to see how they fare against clubs with more veteran leadership.

Why Pistorius Should Run

Recently sprinter Michael Johnson said that Oscar Pistorius should not be allowed to run at the 2012 London Olympic Games, citing what he believes to be an unfair advantage given by the South African sprinter's prosthetic leg blades. The problem is, Johnson's assertions simply have no basis in fact. According to his website, Pistorius underwent double amputation as a result of being born without fibulae in both legs. He competes in both single amputee and double amputee events as a Paralympian. He holds the Paralympic records in the 100, 200, and 400 m track events.

In July 2007, Pistorius began racing other able-bodied men at an International Association of Athletic Federations event finishing second in a 400 m race with a time of 46.90 seconds. Shortly thereafter, he underwent testing under the supervision of the IAAF which found that the blades Pistorius wore gave him an unfair advantage over other able-bodied runners by enabling him to expend less energy while running at the same speed over the course of a race.

Pistorius took his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport following a series of tests done by researchers at Rice University. The CAS overturned the IAAF ruling saying the initial tests only considered Pistorius's speed over a straight line distance. They failed to consider problems getting out of the starting blocks and decreased acceleration ability which actually put Pistorius at a net disadvantage.

This is the backdrop surrounding Johnson's comments.

Now, before going any further, it is only fair for me to say that as someone in a wheelchair that has been able to achieve my goals and a high degree of workplace independence, I tend to view any claim that I can't do the same things anyone else can do on a level playing field with a certain degree of skepticism, no matter the reason. That being said, I would not want to compete if I had to be given an advantage in order to make it fair. However, there simply is no advantage here.

For one, Pistorius is running on blades, not human feet. This makes it very easy to trip if you step the wrong way, a fact pointed out by one of the athletes quoted in this San Francisco Chronicle article on amputee athletes.

Secondly, the numbers just don't reflect the advantage Johnson thinks Pistorius would have. Oscar Pistorius is the world record holder in all three events in which he competes. He is widely regarded as the fastest man ever with no legs. Yet, his fastest time in the 400 m for which he qualified is 45.07 seconds. By comparison, Johnson's world record-setting time for able-bodied athletes at the same distance is almost two seconds faster.

While we're at it, the argument that he already has the Paralympics to showcase his skills doesn't hold water with me. That's like saying the Major Leagues shouldn't be integrated because we have the Negro leagues or that women shouldn't play on the PGA Tour. Both of those things have come to pass. There is also nothing wrong with someone wanting to prove himself at the highest level.

Then there's the fact that I would probably be hard-pressed to find the Paralympics on TV anywhere, so clearly they are undervalued as compared to the main Olympic events, but I could likely do a whole separate post on that.

So when I tune into the Olympics, I will be keeping a close eye on the progress of Oscar Pistorius. There is simply no place in today's society for singling out those that could otherwise compete without advantage simply because they do it in a way we aren't used to.