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Alumni meet with Supreme Court justice

10:52 AM  Mar 21st, 2017
by Mary McCarty

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.


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Our 13,000-seat classroom

12:34 PM  Mar 17th, 2017
by Shannon Shelton Miller

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.

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Meeting the press

12:32 PM  
by John Greene '18

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.


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Relationships are important

2:56 PM  Mar 16th, 2017
by Bridget Lally ’17

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.

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Burgers and music: One band’s NCAA experience

1:46 PM  
by Danielle Damon ’18

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.


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Sideline spirit

1:44 PM  
by Courtney Mocklow ’17

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.”

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Friendship off the court

11:31 AM  
by Courtney Mocklow ’17

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.



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The ‘little hoopers’ first dance

10:08 PM  Mar 15th, 2017
by Erin Frey ’18

Resilience. This 10-letter word means a lot to people, but to the five seniors on the mighty 16-seed UC Davis, it tells their story.

Before their First Four game at UD Arena, head coach Jim Les told the team that this game was their fight. He believed it wasn’t their time to go home. So, they laced their sneakers for battle.

The game was tight. The bands were loud and the cheerleaders yelled with fervor. Every point was countered with another and it wasn’t until the last five seconds that UC Davis knew they would be making school history.

“We all have roles on the team and mine is defense, pick up the tempo on defense and use my athleticism and continue on the defensive end. When I do my job, we’re all top-notch players,” said senior Lawrence White.

With the 67-63 win over North Carolina Central, UC Davis advances to the round of 64 for the first time in program history to play Kansas, a No. 1 seed. One would think that this match up would be intimidating for a first-time NCAA tournament team, but the Aggies, again, show resilience.

“I don’t fear anybody, but I respect everybody and I feel like the way we play defense we can make any game a game. And, if we play the way we’ve been playing the past few weeks, then we can definitely do that,” said junior Chima Moneke.

Les beamed with pride throughout the press conference as he listened to his players’ confident reactions:

“It’s special — I’ve said this, our guys grew up as little hoopers dreaming about playing and having this opportunity. And it’s so special to be here. And we’re just going to continue to fight to keep this story going.”

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Madness for merchandise

9:04 PM  
by Bridget Lally ’17

When winning basketball teams advance in the NCAA March Madness tournament, the teams’ athletic merchandise travels cross country, too.

UD Arena volunteers at the March Madness apparel table make sure as many fans as possible leave the games with NCAA gear. Such volunteers throughout the First Four make the event possible.

“Shirts sell out fast at the beginning of the game,” merchandise volunteer Tracy Johnson said. “In the past five minutes, three stacks of shirts have disappeared.”

A West Carrollton resident, Johnson has volunteered at UD Arena for the NCAA First Four games for around nine years. She has some experience since she used to help sell athletic apparel for her son’s baseball team.

“All teams in the tournament get shirts,” Johnson said. “We also sell UD shirts, which always sell out.”

On Tuesday, March 14, the volunteers started with roughly 10,000 shirts, and by the end of the night had about 4,000 remaining.

“By the end of the night people will buy shirts of teams they haven’t even heard of, just to have some souvenir from the tournament,” Johnson said.

Last night, the volunteers sold March Madness beach towels for the first time — on a night when the wind chill dipped to 7.

“I saw one guy walking out of here last night wrapping it around his bare legs,” said another volunteer. “He was wearing shorts.”


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Driving the distance

9:57 AM  
by Courtney Mocklow ’17

The NCAA First Four in Dayton has a way of bringing people together — including seven people crammed into one car that made its way to Dayton from Kansas.

Katie Hammbrschmidst, sister of Wake Forest assistant coach Brett Ballard, spent the first half of the Wake Forest vs. Kansas State basketball game March 14 at UD Arena holding her 1-year-old daughter, Hadley, who slept contentedly on her mother’s shoulder.

“We drove nine hours all the way from Kansas,” Hammbrschmidst said. “My husband and I, our four children and their grandmother in one car. It was a bit crammed, but the kids were great.”

Hammbrschmidst and her family are originally from Kansas, and her brother previously worked for University of Kansas basketball.

“We traveled a lot when he was there because there were so many tournament games,” Hammbrschmidst said.

Though Ballard has made the move to Wake Forest, she still enjoys cheering on her brother and his team.

“It’s so awesome that he made the tournament,” she said. “We’re here to cheer him on, and Dayton has been great so far.”

She’s among the fans who go the distance to get to Dayton.

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