Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Play for 22

Courage. Love. Passion. The only stats that really count.
Dan Benjamin, women’s basketball head coach at Mount Saint Joseph University (MSJ) and a former Mason coach and substitute teacher, knows this as well as anyone.
Benjamin’s 2014 season took an unexpected turn when freshman forward Lauren Hill joined the team. Hill was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer after she committed to play basketball at MSJ her senior year in high school. The cancer has proven to be 100 percent fatal, and Hill was given one month to live in September of 2014. Despite these adversities, Hill’s dream was simple: to play in a college basketball game. The NCAA allowed MSJ’s season to start early, and the Lions faced Hiram College on November 2 at Xavier’s Cintas Center.  The game had a crowd of 10,250. It sold out in 30 minutes.
The lethal diagnosis wasn’t the only unexpected turn — the cameras that have been cluttering the small gym at MSJ are a new aspect of the team’s practices. Hill’s courage to continue to play the game she loves has found its way onto news channels around the world.
“For the team it’s going from our small little campus (to) nationwide, and now internationally known,” Benjamin said. “I know (Hill) and I personally have gotten phone calls from (media in) Norway, Spain, France, Taiwan, (and) Canada.”
According to Benjamin, MSJ women’s basketball has never received such wide publicity, and the boom in media coverage has posed some unexpected challenges for his team.
“Our team is not used to playing in front of 10,000+ people,” Benjamin said. “We’re usually playing in front of 200 people, if that. So their focus has been challenged. The first couple days when we had cameras in the gym filming us we remained focus and they understood what was at hand.”
The tradition of “The Walk”refers to the Indiana University football team’s game day superstition of walking through the campus toward the stadium, and Benjamin replicated this to familiarize his team with the Cintas Center.
“I told (the team), ‘It doesn’t matter where we go, the cameras aren’t going to set who we are and the cameras aren’t going to take a shot (or) defend you,’” Benjamin said. “I say, ‘Just get in the moment and let yourself be an athlete. Let yourself take over as an athlete and don’t worry about what’s going on in the crowd.’”
Benjamin said he is glad that he can help fulfill Hill’s dream of playing in a collegiate basketball game.
“I don’t know if it’s so much the weight, as it’s more the excitement and the bittersweet knowing that (Hill) can’t compete for more than 40 minutes, yet she is able to take the floor and do the things she wanted to do,” Benjamin said. “(She can) just say, ‘I wanted to play in a game, all I want to do is play in a game and just want to play the game I love and the game I have so much passion for,” Benjamin said.
According to Benjamin, many athletes today want recognition for their accomplishments, but Hill is only looking for the adrenaline rush of playing the sport she loves.
“Everybody nowadays thought of, ‘Hey I need a trophy and I get a trophy for showing up,’’’ Benjamin said. “That’s not (Hill). (Hill) said, ‘I don’t want your trophy, what I want is to compete. I don’t want to know how many points I have…I just want to know did my team win, or did we lose?’ That’s her, and it’s bittersweet knowing that I’ve had the opportunity to give this girl (the experience) to live out a dream, and just to play in a game.”’
According to Benjamin, Hill doesn’t want any special treatment because of the adversities she faces. She is, however, always sure to show her love for her coach and her teammates.
“She wants to be treated like a (teammate), she doesn’t want to be anything special,” Benjamin said. “She won’t let you do anything for her…Everyday when I see her she has to come talk to me. She has to give me a hug before she leaves. We do something where we preach after every practice, we get in our circle before they leave and I tell them I love them.”

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Shifted Camera View

The news of Lauren Hill's amazing courage battling brain cancer through the game of basketball has spread into international media.  Most people have heard of the story by now-if you haven't, just google the small division three school "Mount St. Joseph" and scroll around.  You'll find the story in less than one minute.  Lauren Hill is diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer, and even though she has one month to live, her dream is quite simple.  She wanted to play in a collegiate basketball game, and she did just that.  Hill played at XU's Cintas Center in front of a sold-out crowd of 10,250 people.  She scored the first and last basket.  Most news stories only regard Hill's perspective of the story, as they should, but keep her coach, Dan Benjamin, remotely under the radar.  Benjamin is a family man, coaching women's basketball at a college smaller than Mason.  He was thrust into the spectrum of international media, and had to keep his team composed through the unexpected international media coverage.  I am writing a story about Benjamin's perspective of Lauren's story and how it has impacted the team he has coached for the last three years.  Pick up a copy of The Chronicle coming out December 12, flip to the sports section, and change the camera view on all of those news stories.  You won't be disappointed.



Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Pre-game Prayer


Pre-game prayers.  Football coaches were banned from leading their team in a pre-game prayer at Santa Fe High School near Houston, Texas.  They were also banned at Oneida High School and Central Columbia High School in Tennessee because of of they could be interpreted as overly religious. They may reference God, or mention the men who have fought in the place before you.  In most cases, they aren't overly religious, as you can see in the video of the Nebraska Cornhusker's football prayer. The truth is, athletes that are about to hit the field are caught up in the heat of the moment, the pressure, the excitement, the nerves.  Their thoughts are racing with the anticipation of the upcoming moment, and they don't usually perceive things in literal terms. This explains the motives behind a pre-game prayer.  They aren't incorporated into a pre-game routine to get everyone thinking about the lord and his mission.  They simply are incorporated to relieve the nerves crawling in your stomach.  It's a time to sit back, calm down, and get "hyped". They don't just motivate, they congregate a group of people together before they all experience something important together.  So don't overthink the spiritual meaning of a pre-game prayer, they aren't as 'religiously in-depth' as one may think.

Friday, October 31, 2014

video
I messed around with Videolicious again tonight at the Mason boy's football game.  Watch the video for footage of the game and to find out more about the season.  I am doing a story about the success of the boy's team in the next print edition of The Chronicle coming out Nov. 4th!  Make sure to pick one up or read it on thecspn.com to receive coaches and player's opinions on the season!

MHS Sports Radio

Tonight Mason's football team is playing a huge game at Sycamore High School!  If Mason wins this rivalry they will more than likely make it into the playoffs for the first time since 2011 and end the season with an 8-2 record! If you can't make the game then listen in at mason.localsportsradio.com! My fellow Chronicle staff member Eric Miller will be calling the game from the press box.  Tune in while your'e handing out candy or trick or treating!
Check out mason.localsportsradio.com for tonight's game against Sycamore!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

video
Check out this video I created using the Videolicious app! It features coverage and commentary from the Mason boy's soccer team's match against Beaver Creek in the regional semi final! If you ever can't make future Mason sporting events, follow @mhschroniclesports on Twitter and Instagram for live updates during the games!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mason Captures Both Titles in District Cross Country Meet

Mason cross country sped to the finish linsped to the finish line this weekend, capturing both the boys and girls varsity district titles with scores of 19 and 26.
Senior Nick Grismer crossed the finish line first in the boys race with a time of 15:49. The other boys finished in second, third, sixth, and seventh, securing a victory with 19 points. According to Grismer, after getting second in the GMC meet last week, this win will boost his team’s confidence.
“I think that this win is especially important because it demonstrates how we’re finally starting to pull things together as a team, since this is one of the first races where we’ve all brought our A-game,” Grismer said. “ I think that this win was crucial for our confidence.”
The next step for the team is to qualify for state through the regional meet, and Grismer knows they must take qualifying one step at a time.
“The first goal is to qualify, the second is to win, and the third is to win big,” Grismer said.  “If we can do one or more of those things, we should be ready for state.”
Grismer said he is aware of the heightening competition that comes with each advancing level. According to Grismer, all of the training the team has done has definitely prepared them for the regional meet.
“I think there are a handful of good teams, namely Saint Xavier and Lakota East, but there’s a lot of good competition at regionals,” Grismer said. “We’ve been training since June as far as preparation goes, we’ve done workouts that we need to do, and done all the little things like core, eating right, and recovering the right way.  I think we are as ready as we can be for regionals.”
The head coach of the girls cross country team, Chip Dobson, said he believes the biggest hardship for the district meet was not the competition. According to Dobson, the real struggle was creating the meet’s rooster.
“The hardship coming to the meet is always the tough decisions of who runs and who doesn’t,” Dobson said. “We have a great group of girls and I would love for many of them to run in the postseason.”
Dobson is optimistic about the regional meet approaching, and says the ultimate goal is to stand on the podium higher than everyone else.
“Our hope at the regional meet is to come home with a trophy,” Dobson said. “We would like first, but it could be a tough road. It is our goal to win.”
Junior Maegan Murphy took first place with a time of 18:08, while sophomores Ellie Brush and Ailee Henderson finished third and fifth.  Despite being one of the younger runners on the team, Henderson said she believes she still must contribute as much as she can during the regional meet in order to help the team succeed.
“It’s a good feeling to know that all the hard work we put in during the regular season pays off during the post-season,” Henderson said. “Even though I’m one of the younger girls I can still help our team succeed.”
Senior Nick Grismer crossed the finish line first in the boys race with a time of 15:49. The other boys finished in second, third, sixth, and seventh, securing a victory with 19 points. According to Grismer, after getting second in the GMC meet last week, this win will boost his team’s confidence.
“I think that this win is especially important because it demonstrates how we’re finally starting to pull things together as a team, since this is one of the first races where we’ve all brought our A-game,” Grismer said. “ I think that this win was crucial for our confidence.”
The next step for the team is to qualify for state through the regional meet, and Grismer knows they must take qualifying one step at a time.
“The first goal is to qualify, the second is to win, and the third is to win big,” Grismer said.  “If we can do one or more of those things, we should be ready for state.”
Grismer said he is aware of the heightening competition that comes with each advancing level. According to Grismer, all of the training the team has done has definitely prepared them for the regional meet.
“I think there are a handful of good teams, namely Saint Xavier and Lakota East, but there’s a lot of good competition at regionals,” Grismer said. “We’ve been training since June as far as preparation goes, we’ve done workouts that we need to do, and done all the little things like core, eating right, and recovering the right way.  I think we are as ready as we can be for regionals.”
The head coach of the girls cross country team, Chip Dobson, said he believes the biggest hardship for the district meet was not the competition. According to Dobson, the real struggle was creating the meet’s rooster.
“The hardship coming to the meet is always the tough decisions of who runs and who doesn’t,” Dobson said. “We have a great group of girls and I would love for many of them to run in the postseason.”
Dobson is optimistic about the regional meet approaching, and says the ultimate goal is to stand on the podium higher than everyone else.
“Our hope at the regional meet is to come home with a trophy,” Dobson said. “We would like first, but it could be a tough road. It is our goal to win.”
Junior Maegan Murphy took first place with a time of 18:08, while sophomores Ellie Brush and Ailee Henderson finished third and fifth.  Despite being one of the younger runners on the team, Henderson said she believes she still must contribute as much as she can during the regional meet in order to help the team succeed.
“It’s a good feeling to know that all the hard work we put in during the regular season pays off during the post-season,” Henderson said. “Even though I’m one of the younger girls I can still help our team succeed.”
Senior Nick Grismer finished the race in first place with a time of 15:49

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Alberto Knows Best

I was reading fellow chronicle staff member Jessica Sommerville's blog and she brought up a great point in her most recent blog entitled "Bailando."  To basically sum up her entire post in one sentence, she believes American's need to learn more about different cultures of the world.
This school year my family is hosting a boy from Spain named Alberto.  He is an average junior here at MHS, but something sets him apart from all the other dreary faces walking the halls.  As soon as Alberto walked off the eight hour plane ride that took him across the vast Atlantic, I could not help but think to myself that I would need to explain every little American aspect of his new life to him. The first few days of school approached, and I felt it was my duty to teach him the countless slang words teenagers use at school.  'Dude, swag, bro, and selfies' were all words I assumed were foreign to him, but I was totally wrong. 
"Do you know what a 'dude' is"? I would ask.
His face stared back at me like I was the one who had just walked off that plane.
"Duh," he said and continued watching The Big Bang Theory.
"Well...what about 'swag'?"
"Duh," he said again, irritation etched across his face.
I was the one who left that conversation feeling like I had learned something new.  Alberto was just as cultured about popular American trends as I was, yet he did it across an entire ocean.  If he asked me about some basic Spanish trends...well then Google would become my best friend.  Maybe I need to learn more Spanish or find out what's new in Spain.  Or maybe we all need to expand our cultural knowledge. 


Alberto flew across the Atlantic into a world he is actually quite familiar with.