Asphalt and two netless basketball hoops were all that occupied the lethargic play space of St. Benedict the Moor Catholic School.
But that changed last October when the University of Dayton Association for Young Children (UDAYC) broke ground to create a space that was vibrant and colorful for the children.
After tutoring at the 82-student school each week during spring 2016, UDAYC members saw the need to add playground equipment to the empty space.
At first, UDAYC planned to raise money for some basketballs, but the goal grew into a $30,000 playground project. The plans were developed by including the ideas of the children who would actually be using the space.
“We spoke to the kids and asked what their playground would look like,” said UDAYC president and second-year student Anne Price.
UDAYC vice-president and third-year student Olivia Essell added, “We made our plan from what they said and it looks exactly like the kids wanted.”
To fund the project, the group approached their hometown parishes, asked friends and family, and hosted restaurant takeovers on Brown Street to raise money for the new playground.
With the help of Bro. Raymond Fitz S.M., Ferree Professor of Social Justice, UDAYC partnered with the Dayton Foundation and received donations from his Marianist community, which were matched by local corporations.
During fall 2016, UDAYC raised $20,000 to fund phase one — the playset.
“The installation of the playground has been very helpful,” Price said. “It gives the teachers and kids a break, and since having that time outside, the kids behave a lot better and have improved academically.”
UDAYC has additional plans for the play area and is currently raising funds to implement phase two — a $10,000 swing set. They are about $4,000 away from their goal and plan for a fall 2017 installation.
“People see this project as providing an opportunity for the children of St. Benedict the Moor Catholic School, that most kids in public or other Catholic schools take for granted,” Fitz said. “It is a great addition to their learning and to the neighborhood.”
For more information, visit daytonfoundation.org or contact Anne Price at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In a touching moment, Bishop Enemésio Lazzaris, president of the Pastoral Land Commission of the Brazilian National Bishops’ Conference, gently leaned over and kissed a bronze statue of Blessed Óscar Romero, one of his heroes.
“Thank you for your courage, your faith and your advocacy for the dignity of all people, especially the least among us,” said University of Dayton President Eric Spina when he bestowed the statue — the Blessed Óscar Romero Human Rights Award — on the Pastoral Land Commission in a ceremony in the Kennedy Union ballroom on March 28.
For more than four decades, the group has worked to defend the rights of Brazil’s landless poor, abolish modern-day slavery and fight against the destruction of the Amazon. Dayton native Sister Dorothy Stang, S.N.D., murdered in 2005 for standing up for the rights of Brazil’s landless peasants, worked for the Pastoral Land Commission.
“In solidarity with men and women of goodwill, we will continue fighting and resisting for the earth to be the earth of all,” Lazzaris said in Portuguese when he accepted the international honor.
The true Christian, he said, “commits himself with all strength to make the world or rather, the land, more habitable, defending the rights, especially the rights of the poor.”
The award, bestowed through the Human Rights Center, honors the ministry and martyrdom of Romero, a Salvadoran archbishop slain while officiating at a 1980 Mass because of his vocal defense of the rights of the poor and disenfranchised.
Kelly Johnson, associate professor of religious studies, called Romero “the patron saint for those engaged in conflict” as she offered reflections on his life.
“After a lifetime of struggle with his temper, in the crucible of his years as archbishop, when the long-standing structural violence of El Salvador was breaking out into open violence against anyone who stood with the people, including the church, he did conflict well, very well,” observed Johnson, who was part of a group of scholars who visited Brazil in 2013 to learn about the Pastoral Land Commission’s work to end forced labor.
“For the Pastoral Land Commission, for Dorothy Stang, for those in Brazil struggling to ensure a right to land to live on, a roof over their heads, and decent work, standing for justice means entering conflict, getting into the fight, and staying in it,” she said.
Mark Ensalaco, director of human rights research, founded the award in 2000 to “signify the University’s commitment to peace, social justice and the common good.”
Today, 37 years after Romero’s death, the promotion of the dignity of all people and the alleviation of human suffering continues: “We know that every effort to improve society is an effort that God wants, God demands,” he said.
The University is unique in the way that most of its upperclassmen live within a few blocks of each other, its north and south student neighborhoods brimming with homes and apartment buildings.
But despite the appearance of an abundance of student housing, students are still in need of accommodations.
“Student demand for University-owned housing continues to increase due to the high-quality amenities, safety features and service responsiveness we provide,” said Beth Keyes, vice president for facilities and campus operations. “Our goal is to provide University-owned housing for all undergraduates.”
This May, construction is set to begin on an $11.2 million four-story apartment building in the south student neighborhood, on the current site of McGinnis Center. The building will add 96 living spaces to campus, equipped with brand-new appliances, wood-look ceramic tile and solid surface countertops.
In addition to renovations to McGinnis Center, the university is currently building three new five-person houses, with three more set to begin construction this summer.
These projects are just the latest ventures in the University’s continuous efforts to provide efficient and comfortable housing for its students.
“We are so spoiled that we get to live in the houses and apartments that we do,” said senior pre-dentistry major Lauren Williams. “We definitely do need more housing if UD’s class sizes keep growing. However, growing too large could take away from the community feeling that we all love.”
First- and second-year students are required to live in University housing and demand from upperclassmen is high for housing in the University’s distinctive student neighborhoods.
Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan met with 26 Dayton Law alumni and family members March 6, before they were sworn in to the Bar of the United States Supreme Court.
University law school Dean Andrew Strauss introduced Justice Kagan — his friend and classmate since their undergraduate years at Princeton University — at a breakfast in the Chief Justices Room before the swearing-in. “This is a very meaningful day for our alumni who are being sworn into the Supreme Court Bar and it is truly an honor to have Justice Kagan here to share it with us,” he said.
During her informal conversation with alumni, Justice Kagan described her love for the job. “I try to remember that every day in this job is a privilege,” she said. “I never want to forget the privilege and the responsibility that comes with the job.”
Dianne Weiskittle ’13 called it a “pinch myself” moment: “I feel so fortunate that Dean Strauss had that connection, so we could have this experience.”
Kagan praised the lawyers who argue cases before the Supreme Court. “They are not the kind of lawyers you suffer through,” she said.
She is most impressed with the lawyers who don’t make grand speeches and who aren’t intimidated by the justices: “The thing that makes the great ones is the ability to engage in a conversation with the justices.”
Sutton Smith ’13, staff attorney for the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, said he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet Kagan, even though he has a 2-year-old and a newborn. He and his wife Emi traveled to Washington D.C. for the ceremony.
“It was my first visit to the Supreme Court and a cool introduction,” he said. “I thought, ‘I may never get another shot at this. Why not jump in when I can?’”
The next UDSL Supreme Court swearing-in is scheduled for 2019.
The University of Dayton Arena is the only venue that can tout a 17-year streak of hosting the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Since 2001, UD Arena has hosted the play-in game (through 2010), first and second round games and the First Four since 2011. The venue has also hosted regional games in the women’s tournament.
Members of the greater Dayton community are guaranteed winners each year, especially University of Dayton students. Because of the arena’s prolific record as a tournament venue, UD students have been able to list NCAA tournament work on their resumes in the relevant experience category, sometimes for four or five consecutive years.
From ticketing to facilities management, students do it all during the NCAA tournament, providing integral support to professional staff who get little sleep in the days leading up to and during the tournament games.
For the last two years, the First Four has also given students the opportunity to integrate the NCAA tournament into their regular classwork. Students from a sports media class in the Department of Sport Management stopped by Tuesday’s media availability and open practices to attend press conferences, observe reporters at work on pregame stories and take in the pregame buzz before that night’s First Four games. The site visit was designed to give students a behind-the-scenes look at sports media from all perspectives — from print, broadcast and online media to athletics communications.
CBS/Turner Sports broadcaster and former NBA/college basketball star Steve Smith concluded the visit by talking with students about his career, including his pregame prep routine. Minutes earlier, he chatted with UC Davis coach Jim Les to get talking points for the game broadcast.
The students left with more insight about media coverage of a national sporting event, and how numerous professionals and student volunteers at each site make it possible. It’s an opportunity University of Dayton students have had the privilege to experience every year without interruption since 2001 at University of Dayton Arena.
Or, as we like to call it for a few days in March, our 13,000-seat classroom.
Click here to read a first-person perspective on the experience from sport management student John Greene.
My experience attending the First Four media availability and open practices at the University of Dayton Arena was absolutely amazing.
We are all students in a sports media class in the Sport Management program at the University of Dayton, and the site visit was designed to show us how the media works during a major sporting event. When we began our tour of the space reserved for the media, I first noticed how much extra signage was posted around the facility to switch the setup of the arena from UD basketball to the NCAA tournament. As we moved closer to the UD football and basketball locker rooms, I wondered how the facilities team was going to transform this space.
They did incredible work. The main football locker room had become a full-blown media hub with tables, extension cords and information packets for everyone to use to write their pregame and postgame stories. Snacks and beverages were available as well.
We next went into the press conference area where we were able to sit down and listen to the pregame press conference with two players from the USC basketball team and USC head coach Andy Enfield. To sit in on the conference was a huge learning experience and truly showed how professional and courteous a majority of the reporters are — I say a majority of them because we were only able to witness a few smaller news outlets asking questions at that time. Many of the larger outlets would be arriving later.
After the press conferences, we moved to the main court where we were able to sit on press row and watch some of the teams utilize their court time and practice for their upcoming games. It was a great experience having a front row seat to March Madness, and I hope to be able to attend more events like this in the future.
During the First Four tournament games Wednesday, March 15, University of Dayton Magazine student writer Bridget Lally met with a sports reporter in the media room at UD Arena to learn more about what motivates journalists.
Jonas Pope IV grew up watching and playing sports. And then …
“My 10th-grade English teacher told me I’m a good writer and that I should go into journalism,” said Pope, a beat writer for The Herald-Sun. “I knew I didn’t want to cover news, but sports instead.”
Deadlines are stressful, but he enjoys the perks of being able to get paid to watch sports — something he says he would be doing regardless of his career.
In the profession for 10 years now, Pope says that one of the most meaningful aspects of the job is the chance to build relationships with other people.
“Whether it is a student-athlete, parent or coach, I appreciate getting to know them as people,” Pope said. “I like that I can run into the athletic director in the hallway and talk, man-to-man. Nothing about sports, just a general conversation. Relationships are important.”
Since Pope has been covering the North Carolina Central University basketball team, he has built strong relationships with the team and gets emotional knowing that for the seniors, Wednesday’s game was it.
“Central had seven seniors, and now tonight, this is it,” Pope said. “I see the human element of it. I can see it on their faces. It makes me sad to think and talk about it.”
NCCU lost to UC Davis 67-63 on March 15.
There are 488.5 miles between Durham, North Carolina, and Dayton. For many band members from North Carolina Central University, these were their first miles ever traveled by plane.
Band director Thurman Hollins led the 28-student band to UD Arena Wednesday, March 15, where NCCU played University of California Davis in the First Four. But, getting there was only part of the fun.
“I’m into the student experience when it comes to our brand program,” Hollins said. “Playing music is always fun, but so is getting the opportunity to travel, meet other people and see different cultures.”
Most students in the band are from North Carolina, but when asked what they think of Dayton, snow and food were the first two words that came to mind.
When the windchill dropped below freezing, band members said a burger from the Oregon Express in downtown Dayton was there to warm their stomachs in preparation for the performance.
“This is my first time at the NCAA Tournament,” said Mariah McClendon, a sophomore band member. “I have really enjoyed seeing other bands, other teams and everyone coming together for basketball.”
Watch a small clip of the NCCU band playing right here.
Though the floors of UD Arena were vibrating from the shouts brought on by legions of fans during the second day of the First Four Wednesday night, each basketball team had a little extra encouragement coming straight from the sidelines — from their spirited cheerleaders.
For the University of California Davis cheerleading team, their job was made sweeter after their basketball team beat North Carolina Central, 67-63.
“It’s so exciting because this is our first time in the March Madness tournament,” said Alexis Julien, a UC Davis cheerleader. “It’s just so cool to win our first finals ever and then make it here.”
For the UC Davis cheerleading team, cheering is a chance to be a part of the game’s action.
“You get to interact with the game more, really be there with the players and the crowd,” said another UC Davis cheerleader, Anna Verdiguel.
Squad-mate Tatiana Ferla felt the same excitement in the middle of the USC vs. Providence game Wednesday night.
“We love the crowd at home, but it’s so cool to have fans from everywhere,” Ferla said. “You see Providence and Dayton supporters as well as fans from USC, which is great.”
Amidst the cameras and media surrounding March Madness, these NCAA cheerleaders don’t quit when it comes to cheering their players on.
“We really push ourselves,” Ferla said. “We remember that it’s all about this amazing experience.”
During the strenuous schedule of March Madness, it’s not just the players that bond during hours of traveling – the teams’ athletic staff members do as well.
Libby Garcia, Heather Bell and Lauren Rados all work for University of Southern California basketball, either as an academic adviser, equipment handler or recruiter.
“The best thing about working for USC basketball is the relationships,” Bell said. “We get along really well with each other.”
All three women have found friendship together in a mostly male-run program. After leaving California at 11 a.m. Monday, March 13, Garcia, Bell and Rados had a few days to enjoy one another’s company on their cross-country road trip and time at UD Arena.
“Even though we’re usually on different schedules,” Rados said, “the tournament is great because we get lots of girl time.”
Despite their excitement of experiencing the First Four together, the three staffers feel the stress that comes with planning such a high-stakes game.
“Scheduling is definitely tricky,” Garcia said. “We come to this tournament and have to plan for the ifs, ands or buts. You don’t know what is going to happen.”
Though the future is unknown, these three USC staffers can thank the tournament for bringing them closer together.