“Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.”
Singing the words of Psalm 122, the congregation prepared to enter through the doors of the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, led by the Most Rev. Joseph R. Binzer, auxiliary bishop, Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
The Aug. 16 rededication of the chapel echoed its first rites of dedication and consecration June 24, 1869, celebrated by the archbishop of Cincinnati at the time, John Baptist Purcell.
“This historic renovation of the chapel,” Bishop Binzer told the congregation during his homily, “goes beyond bricks and mortar to renew the heart of the University.”
He said he had gone to the University’s homepage, clicked on the link titled “Guided by Faith,” and come to the vision statement for the chapel renovation. From that vision, he shared these words:
Since it was built in 1869, the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception has been the focal point of the University of Dayton. In terms of mission, spirituality and campus geography, the chapel marks the central axis around which the University has grown: It is truly the heart of the University of
In 1869 Maltese crosses were put on the side walls of the chapel. They are still there. They signify that this consecrated space must remain one whose primary purpose is to celebrate the liturgical rites of the church.
That purpose has not varied.
Over the years, some physical changes to the chapel have taken place. Many early photos are dominated by an ugly coal stove in the center of the congregation. The stove mercifully yielded to steam heat in 1898.
In 1876, the reredos (the wall behind the altar) was added with statues of Saints Peter, John and Mary. At some unknown point, Peter morphed into Joseph. In 1907, the sacristy was enlarged; in 1919, confessionals added. The statues of Our Lady of the Pillar and Blessed William Joseph Chaminade were put in the niches in the outside wall flanking the massive doors in 1951-52.
In 1971, the dome was painted blue.
The dome is still blue, the cross still above it. Our Lady and Father Chaminade still welcome worshippers. John and Joseph still attend Mary.
Behind the altar, Mary continues to stretch out her arms, today also welcoming people to a new reservation chapel. Above her, the historic rosette window of the crucified Christ is now in full view of the congregation.
Original windows have been restored, new stained glass windows added. A real immersion baptismal font. A reconciliation room. Wooden pews.
But the chapel is more than a place.
At the rededication, Bishop Binzer drew the congregation’s attention to that fact by again quoting from a document on the renovation:
The history of the chapel’s refreshment, renewal and renovation reverberates in every corner, but its true power extends beyond its four walls. It appears in the lives of all who come here to worship the triune God, receive the sacraments, pray in times of quiet hope and desperation, and share joys and sorrows. We leave this sacred space with a fervent desire, buoyed by God’s grace, to carry out the mission of Mary — the Marianist mission of bringing Christ’s life into a world always in need of refreshment, renewal and renovation.
The congregation left the chapel Aug. 16 having seen it blessed, having felt the holy water and smelled the incense, having watched the anointing of the altar and walls where hang the Maltese crosses, having rejoiced in the lighting of the candle, having celebrated the Eucharist and having seen lit the sanctuary lamp of the reservation Chapel — Christ present, his mother nearby, arms outstretched, welcoming all to the salvation earned by Jesus Christ, her son, our Lord.
To see a video of the rededication ceremony and to read more about the renovation of the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, see go.udayton.edu/chapel.
BEAUTY IS IN THE DETAILS
After years of planning and 14 months of construction, the $12 million renovation of the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception has been accomplished. The beauty is in the details.
1. Reservation chapel The Eucharistic reservation chapel, in accord with church liturgical guidelines, is a distinct space, here sitting to the east of the sanctuary. The canopy from the old, unused pulpit is now above the tabernacle.
2. Windows in the nave The 10 windows in the nave have been replaced, with elements echoing those of the chapel’s original windows. Each also has a medallion, 2 feet in diameter, depicting an image of Mary from Scripture or tradition. Franklin Art Glass was commissioned for the new windows as well as the restoration of the historic windows.
3. In the sanctuary The furnishings, designed by Brother Gary Marcinowski, S.M., include the altar, ambo, presider chair, processional crucifix, candles, cantor stand and Easter candle stand.
4. Wooden pews Curved wooden pews salvaged from a former church not only provide an aesthetic upgrade from metal-framed chairs but also contribute toward LEED certification through the reuse of materials.
5. Devotional areas On the north side of the chapel, one devotional alcove is devoted to Mary; one tells the story of the Marianist founders; and one is dedicated to Jesus.
6. Baptismal font As worshippers enter through the west doors, they encounter a baptismal font, emblem of the first sacrament of Christian life. At the font’s base stand restored wooden statues (formerly part of the unused pulpit) of Mary and the four Evangelists.
7. Eastern windows The crucifixion rosette, above the reredos, is flanked by two new rosettes, representing the Alpha and the Omega. To the sides, the four windows portraying Saints Peter and Augustine on the north and Saints Paul and Ambrose on the south have been restored.
8. Reredos High on the wall behind the altar, the statue of Mary, standing between the statues of St. John and St. Joseph, not only overlooks the assembly but also welcomes worshippers to the Eucharistic reservation chapel.
9. Stations of the cross Along the north and south walls of the chapel will be the Stations of the Cross by Ohio artist Michael Bendele.
10. Pathway of Discipleship In the new reconciliation room and south hallway, five new windows grace a Pathway of Discipleship with images from Jesus’ life: baptism, the Word of God, prayer, Eucharist and service.
11.Western windows The three rosette windows in the western wall have been restored. Relocating the organ and lowering of the balcony have made all these windows, for the first time in history, visible to those assembled in the chapel.
For more details, download the Chapel commemorative booklet.
BY THEIR HANDS
The mostly unseen hands of more than 1,705 donors helped renovate Immaculate Conception Chapel for the glory of God and the exultation of community. Their gifts made possible the $12 million, 14-month project.
“We give special thanks to our generous, visionary donors who made our dream a reality,” said renovation committee co-chairs Sandra Yocum and Father James Fitz, S.M. ’68.
In attendance at the rededication Mass were Francis and Janet Berkemeier, whose names are among those donors. They took special pride in the rich walnut woodwork on the reredos, where the statue of Mary stands with Saints John and Joseph behind the altar. The wood came from the trees on the family farm in Jackson, Michigan, where generations of Berkemeiers — and Flyers — have begun their trek to Dayton. Francis, a 1969 graduate, said the wood donation signifies the family’s enduring connection to UD.
“We can become part of the brick and the mortar and the landscape,” he said.
Outside, in the St. Mary’s Courtyard, an extension of the sacred environment of the chapel, is a garden in recognition of all those who made the renovation possible. The sculpture by Dayton metal artist Hamilton Dixon is reminiscent of a timepiece set to the 3 o’clock hour. Etched in marble is the Three O’clock Prayer, a prayer of spiritual unity for Marianists around the world. The sculpture now also unites the hearts of all those who have contributed to the spiritual heart of campus.
Watch the Berkemeier trees transformed for the chapel on YouTube.
The Chapel of the Immaculate Conception means something special to each of us for different reasons. Senior Ryan Phillips — the face of Red Scare, one of the longest-tenured student workers at the RecPlex and a Eucharistic minister — sat down with us to talk about his chapel moments.
Squint at first sight
I didn’t plan to attend the University of Dayton, but in the fall of my senior year, my family and I
visited anyway. It was the stereotypical college day. As my tour passed through the center of
campus, I squinted in the sun to look up at the blue dome of the chapel.
Breaking up is hard to do
There would be certain times when I would just go and sit in the chapel. I was there with my brother and one of my best friends a few weeks after my breakup with my high school girlfriend. There weren’t many words, but there was that comforting feeling of “I’m here with you.”
You go to any church back home, and a lot of people are just sort of sitting there. They’re doing their “hour of the week.” When I go to the chapel 10 minutes before Mass here, everybody is sitting there laughing and hugging and talking about
their weekends. That was the first time I saw and understood true community.
Center of it all
After returning from the UD Summer Appalachia Program, I realized that everything at UD is focused on the Marianist charism. It’s at the core of every decision we make. Brothers live in the middle of the student neighborhoods, and the chapel is in the heart of campus. The blue dome is so prominent because it is so symbolic of what
the University is based on: our faith.
Friends in faith
As a first-year student, I sat in the chapel with 40 other students for the Callings Christian leadership program. It was centered around the
Marianist tradition. That day, I met a lot of people with whom I have led retreats, and we’ve stayed friends. This year, I’m even living with three of them.
Brothers that pray together…
I just sat there and talked to my brother for an hour. That conversation wasn’t just between me and my brother, but between me, my brother and God because we were sitting in front of the Eucharist. Even in the moments when we sat in silence, we bonded over that.
My fascination with fear comes directly from my awareness of how life can change in an instant. I was in a car accident in the mid-1960s, when I was 6 years old. My dad crashed into a telephone pole while driving down a four-lane road. I flew through the front windshield and sustained major head and facial injuries. My parents were told at the time that if I lived, I’d be “a vegetable.” The doctors were wrong.
Within two weeks, I was out of the hospital, and I recovered fully.
Fear continues to lurk in my middle-aged life, and instead of ruminating about it, I decided to explore it from the mindset of an observer and collector. Through other people’s words and my visuals, I have been steadily creating what I call the Fear Project, a narrative about common and not-so-common fears that others have shared with me. These fears include death, failure, losing a child, losing one’s voice, losing one’s mind, centipedes in the shower, needles, cancer, speaking honestly with one’s spouse, déjà vu, seaweed, being wrongfully imprisoned, biscuits and clusters of small holes.
The project’s participants — friends, neighbors, colleagues, my students, family members, acquaintances and people I’ve never met — share their fears with me via email or in person. Many people have told me that after seeing a tangible interpretation of their fear, they feel less burdened by it.
Why talk about fear? Because we live in a world where fear is a driving force in our everyday lives, like it or not. Fear sells. (Buy this, or else!) Fear persuades. (Repent, or ye shall be damned!) Through daily headlines, we learn early on that the world is indeed a scary place — terrorism, school shootings, melting ice caps, epidemics, polluted water. If we’re not scared, we’re told, we’re foolish.
I’m often asked if it’s depressing for me to work on drawing these fear pieces. The short answer is no. It’s actually quite the opposite. A visual representation of fear generates thought and conversation. Placing fear in the context of drawings that are colorful, multilayered and accessible gives people a way to face the darker parts of their lives in a nonthreatening way.
I may dwell in this world of fear, anxiety and phobias, but honestly (and fortunately), I am not frozen with fear in my own day-to-day life. I’ve even done some things that exhibit some measure of fearlessness, I think — I’ve lived in many different states, tried on numerous jobs, hiked the entire Appalachian Trail in one shot and completed my first year-and-a-half of college-level French in my 50s.
I’ve said “yes” to many things before I had a chance to let any worries get the best of me. I have learned that “Onward!” is a powerful mantra. I believe that many people carry heaps of blankets of fear with them, yet they continually aspire to move beyond whatever holds them back.
This project resonates strongly with people, I’ve discovered — simply because of how deeply embedded fear is in most of our everyday lives. I’ve come to think of this project as my “fear beat,” and as long as fear remains a constant presence in our collective consciousness and conversation (which it will, no doubt), I know I will never run out of material.
Julie Elman is an associate professor of visual communication at Ohio University. She graduated from UD in 1982 with a bachelor’s in commercial design. She is happy to take your fears at fear-project.com.
They beat breast cancer, only to be battered by side effects of treatment. Assistant professor Mary Fisher is helping survivors thrive with research and clinical practices to keep their bodies in motion — and their quality of life soaring.
As co-chair of her 50-year class reunion committee, Joanne Daley ’57 stood out among her peers at Reunion Weekend 2007, buzzing around Kennedy Union and greeting her fellow Flyers with a warm hello.
Colorful scarves and hats hid the vestiges of her chemotherapy treatment. She remembers the sheer exhaustion she felt as she worked to fulfill the Reunion Weekend duties she had accepted months before a Stage II breast cancer diagnosis. A tumor in her left breast was triple negative, a type that tends to grow and spread aggressively. Daley says her doctors “threw everything they could at it,” providing a standard of care that sent her cancer into remission and extended her life.
On March 19, 2015, Daley, now 80, celebrated eight years of being cancer-free. A scar marking the spot where tissue was removed remains a permanent reminder of what she endured eight years ago; a compression sleeve on her left arm, swollen to double the size of her right, symbolizes the continuing physical restrictions she manages as a result of her treatment.
Daley’s story is one Mary Fisher has heard countless times in her career as a physical therapist and assistant professor in the Department of Physical Therapy: A breast cancer survivor completes radiation or chemotherapy, only to notice debilitating physical limitations, usually in the arm and shoulders, that weren’t present before.
“The survival rate for breast cancer is nearly 90 percent,” Fisher says. “After breast cancer treatment, we should be able to help these women return to the same level of quality of life they had before their diagnosis.”
That vision guides Fisher’s research as she works to raise awareness among survivors, their doctors and loved ones that the fight against breast cancer can continue, in a different arena, long after the cure.
MOVEMENT AFTER SURVIVAL
Three months after Daley’s surgery in March 2007, she developed lymphedema, a painful condition in which fluid fails to drain from body tissues, leading to swelling in the arm or leg. Removal of lymph nodes from around the armpit, called axillary nodes, is a common risk factor, and close to 60 percent of breast cancer survivors report symptoms of lymphedema after completing cancer treatment.
“It’s a pain in the butt — you can quote me on that,” Daley says.
The swelling in her hand and arm make gardening, one of her favorite hobbies, range from uncomfortable to painful. Washing dishes becomes a struggle with a swollen hand, as does the simple task of holding food in place to cut it. Trips to buy clothes become exercises in frustration, as Daley struggles to slide coat sleeves over her left arm. She must buy two sets of gloves to make a pair to fit differently sized hands.
As common as such complaints are, doctors and other health care professionals are usually more focused on keeping cancer at bay. The rest of the patient’s physical state isn’t often part of post-treatment conversation.
Because of her interest in physical therapy, however, Fisher listened to these survivors.
“While I was in graduate school, I had a conversation with a colleague who had breast cancer many years before, and she said to me, ‘You know, Mary, I’m still having trouble with my arm five years later,’” Fisher says. “That got me looking into this and thinking about it, and I began to read the literature and find out what kind of problems women who have had breast cancer treatments face.”
Among her findings is that not all regain full arm function even six years after undergoing surgery, radiation or chemotherapy. She is also finding that early intervention with exercise and physical therapy can help women recover fully.
It’s an easy solution in theory, but there’s another catch. By the time most women begin noticing signs of lymphedema, it’s too late for them to return to full function. Other limitations can be overcome through physical therapy and exercise.
Since 2007, Fisher has participated in multiple local and national studies to first confirm, and later, to determine best practices to address arm function limitations among breast cancer survivors. Her initial findings have encouraged her to promote prospective surveillance — the practice of monitoring an affected group after a medical event to observe pattern development — and early intervention efforts to improve survivors’ physical capabilities and prevent long-term functional limitations.
She considers prospective surveillance a paradigm shift in addressing the needs of all cancer survivors after treatment — a change Fisher says will improve the quality of life for men and women long after they’ve overcome cancer.
STUDIES IN MOTION
Until the late 20th century, breast cancer diagnoses were often delivered behind a veil of shame and secrecy, with women quickly given mastectomies to remove the affected breasts, often without fully informed consent.
Breast cancer advocacy emerged in the 1970s when women began to talk more openly about their diagnoses and push for more involvement in their treatment. Prominent women like Shirley Temple Black, the former child star and U.S. ambassador, and First Lady Betty Ford lent their voices to the cause. Women began pushing for research, more sensitive medical care and treatment options that didn’t result in mastectomy as a matter of course.
Nearly 40 years later, it’s clear such advocacy and awareness has worked. The long-term outlook for breast cancer survivors in the United States has never been better — in 2013, the National Institutes of Health reported a 90.5 percent survival rate five years after diagnosis, up from the 75 percent for women diagnosed between 1975 and 1977. Lumpectomy and radiation therapy, rather than mastectomy, are now the standard of care for early-stage breast cancer.
Because most survivors now live decades after their initial diagnoses, post-treatment complaints are emerging with greater frequency. As a physical therapist, Fisher began noticing a common trend among those who visited her for arm limitations. Quite a few had completed post-lumpectomy treatment in the past few months, or perhaps the past year or two, and complained of arm pain or limited function. Sometimes lymph nodes had been removed; in other cases, they had not.
“I can tell you this story over and over again,” Fisher says. “Even if she didn’t develop lymphedema, she can barely move her arm.”
Fisher wanted to know how long the problems persisted after cancer treatment. While completing her doctorate in rehabilitation sciences at the University of Kentucky, she began studying arm function in long-term breast cancer survivors. Her 24 years of clinical practice as a physical therapist at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton also influenced her research.
Her dissertation findings confirmed that breast cancer survivors had limited motion compared to women who hadn’t had breast cancer. This was especially true for left-handed women who had cancer on their right sides, and for right-handed women who had cancer on the left sides. Survivors also reported a slightly lower quality of life and slightly higher arm disability than women who hadn’t had breast cancer.
Fisher then had to rule out other possibilities for decreased long-term arm mobility before attributing the change to cancer treatment. Perhaps the physical issues were simply part of the normal aging process? Or were other factors involved? Those questions hadn’t adequately been addressed, she says.
To find out, she began conducting studies at UD in 2011 using healthy controls — 79 women who’d never had breast cancer or a shoulder injury or surgery — and compared them to 50 women who’d had breast cancer and treatments more than a year in the past. She put them through a series of tests, timing them as they picked up light objects and placed them on a shelf, similar to an everyday activity like putting groceries in a pantry.
The survivors had more disability and less arm function than the healthy controls, regardless of age, she found.
In January 2013, Fisher joined a National Institutes of Health team working with the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center near Washington, D.C. The group has been collecting data since 2004 on the arm function of most women diagnosed with breast cancer who have received services at Walter Reed.
The study examined 150 women after breast cancer treatment. The group measured the women’s arm functions at the study’s start and at regular intervals thereafter — one, three, six, nine, 18, 24, 36 and 60 months out. The following year, the group began collecting data on healthy control subjects for comparison.
Researchers used a tool called a perometer to measure changes in limb volume, such as swelling in an arm. Their results showed that even a 5- to 10-percent increase in limb size was not reversible. But there was also good news. Prospective surveillance alerted health care providers to increases of less than 5 percent in limb volume. Patients and providers then employed aggressive management, and patients showed less disability long term.
“At the first hint of preclinical lymphedema, which is a 3-percent difference in arm volume from the pretreatment measure, they’ll put a (compression) sleeve on the patient, teach her how to do manual lymph drainage and start an exercise program,” Fisher says. “They’ve found it very effective in often reversing lymphedema.”
The NIH team is now working to develop more sensitive tools to measure arm function and standard tests of muscular endurance for post-treatment evaluations, as none currently exist.
Limited arm function might be of less concern to survivors than the cancer itself, but Fisher believes cancer treatment shouldn’t rob women of what they enjoyed doing before their diagnoses, such as gardening, in Daley’s case.
“Ultimately, if arm function is impaired, quality of life is often diminished,” Fisher says. “That’s what we’re trying to address.”
STOPPING BEFORE IT STARTS
In 2010, Terri Baldasare, a former annual fund employee at UD, was more than a year out from the surgery that removed a cancerous lump in her breast. She traveled to South Carolina for a vacation and noticed her hand had swollen significantly after a day playing golf.
Baldasare, a Beavercreek, Ohio, resident and friend of Fisher’s, was aware of the potential physical changes she could encounter after surgery, but she thought she had avoided them.
“A year and a half [later] … you just never know,” she says.
Lymphedema was the diagnosis. As part of her ongoing treatment, Baldasare, 66, now has to wear a protective sleeve, which compresses her arm to reduce swelling and promote lymph drainage.
Fisher notes that lymphedema can develop at any point after treatment, even 20 years later.
Although Baldasare is managing her lymphedema through physical therapy and exercise, earlier examinations and treatment could have identified and prevented the swelling. Fisher says Baldasare’s experience is common — by the time a woman notices swelling in her hands or arms, the condition is often irreversible, making prospective surveillance crucial.
Although lymphedema might be among the more painful conditions a survivor can experience, patients who don’t develop the disorder could still find themselves struggling with arm pain. Fisher says some women move their arms and shoulders differently to avoid pain after surgery, a practice that ultimately worsens their condition and requires neuromuscular retraining through physical therapy. A typical course of treatment can be four to six weeks of motion and strength training; that can increase to two to three months for lymphedema sufferers.
Avoiding arm dysfunction altogether is Fisher’s ultimate goal for breast cancer survivors, but research shows that exercise and physical therapy can help mitigate existing limitations. She reviewed past studies from other researchers that debunked old myths, such as one suggesting that strength training was harmful for women after cancer treatment.
In fact, it has been shown to reduce swelling and pain.
Establishing the importance of physical activity provided another piece to the puzzle. Fisher’s next move would be testing other exercise practices to learn what could help women avoid or manage issues resulting from arm restrictions.
In 2013, Fisher received a University grant to study the possible beneficial effects of yoga for breast cancer-related lymphedema. Results of a seven-person pilot study indicated that yoga was a safe exercise.
Fisher continued the study in fall 2014, gaining funding from UD for studies examining yoga practice among women with lymphedema.
One study primarily examined yoga and arm volume, while the other looked at yoga’s effects on arm volume, along with balance and range of motion, in affected women.
Participants entered an eight-week yoga program. Devon Schmidt, an instructor at Day Yoga Studio on Brown Street near UD’s campus, led two classes each week, and participants completed a third at home with a video. Some participants wore compression sleeves during the classes, and Schmidt modified poses as needed based on physical capabilities. Some did arm and shoulder stretches while holding on to a chair. Schmidt modified popular positions like the triangle, a standing pose that opens the chest and shoulders while stretching legs and hips, by placing blocks on the floor for participants who couldn’t stretch their arms that far.
UD students pursuing their doctorates in physical therapy helped find participants and record data before, during and after the yoga class.
“It was amazing to hear their individual stories,” says Meghann Ford, a 2015 physical therapy graduate who worked with Fisher. “There were 10- to 15-year survivors, and women who were just going through another round of radiation. They were strangers when they first started, but by the time they finished, they were hugging, sharing stories and planning ways to meet after the class was over.”
For the first study, Ford and other students measured six participants’ arm volume, self-reported arm function, self-reported quality of life and hand grip strength. With the second study, which also included six participants, measurements for shoulder range of motion and balance were added, while hand grip strength was not measured.
Data was taken at the beginning and end of the yoga class, and for the second study, again at one month after the final class.
Results showed a significant decrease in arm volume after eight weeks, but no changes in the other measurements taken in the first study. With the second study, data showed a decrease in arm volume, an increase in arm flexion (raising arms straight up), an increase in quality of life and improved balance. Self-reported arm function showed improvement that wasn’t considered statistically significant, but quite significant from a clinical, or practical, perspective.
Daley, the octogenarian survivor, was a believer. “When I went to clean my flower beds that night in my garden after going to yoga class, I didn’t hurt as badly,” she says.
Schmidt wasn’t involved in data collection, but watching and listening to feedback from study participants also confirmed to her that yoga, notably the poses that involved stretching the arms and shoulders, had proven beneficial.
“I was actually surprised that they progressed so quickly,” Schmidt says. “I saw them improve as they progressed through the course, and some of them didn’t need modifications at all by the end of the eight weeks.”
Schmidt says some participants have continued to take classes at her studio, enrolling in courses open to the public and doing modifications as needed.
Fisher’s study also showed the importance of maintaining an exercise regimen. Gains made during the class were not maintained by the time the one-month follow-up date arrived, data showed.
Daley says she noticed three months later how much worse she felt because she hadn’t continued her classes. During the summer, she decided to change that and enrolled in a weekly yoga class for cancer patients and survivors at Kettering Medical Center.
“It’s very basic, but it’s certainly been helpful,” she says.
LIFE IN FULL
Fisher’s long-term goals are simple: make the recovery from breast cancer treatment as effective as possible so survivors can return to the life they had before diagnosis. This, she says, requires a multipronged approach to find the most effective treatments, educate health care providers about prospective surveillance and make care accessible to all.
The UD studies address the first goal of figuring out what works best for breast cancer survivors’ arm functions. Fisher has seven publications and presentations scheduled for 2015, and four of her doctoral students — Ford, Minna Cho, Olivia Morris and Karissa Feucht — presented a poster at the National Lymphedema Network’s 11th International Conference in Washington, D.C., in September 2014. They also presented at the Combined Sections Meeting of the American Physical Therapy Association in Indianapolis in February 2015.
The topic, “Effects of Yoga on Arm Volume, Quality of Life, Self-reported Arm Function, Shoulder Motion, and Balance in Women with Breast Cancer-related Lymphedema,” received a Graduate Student Showcase Award in Physical Therapy at UD. All DPT students are required to participate in research projects.
“I had never really been into research before this, but the experience really opened my eyes to being a part of research studies in the future,” says Ford, who’s now working at a skilled nursing facility in Springboro, Ohio. “This opportunity has opened a lot of doors for the four of us.”
Fisher is already beginning work on a study quantifying arm activity of women who had breast cancer on their non-dominant side. Her dissertation findings suggested that women with cancer on the side of their lesser-used arm experienced more long-term issues. She’ll now see if women with cancer in their non-dominant arm use that arm less than women who haven’t had cancer, effectively slowing recovery.
First, she is collecting data. Women who have had cancer and healthy women serving as controls are given activity monitors to wear on both arms for one week, and data from the two groups will be compared. Fisher has recruited 22 of 30 participants, and her study will continue through the end of the year.
Although studies are progressing, another paradigm shift might be required to fulfill Fisher’s other goals. Health care providers will need to encourage women to be acutely aware of potential physical changes after cancer treatment and immediately refer those women to physical therapy. University programs should educate students in health care fields about physical side effects so they can incorporate that knowledge in their future practices. Greater publicity — like this article — also increases awareness of lymphedema and other issues among those going through treatment and survivors.
Then there’s the issue of accessibility. Certain types of physical therapy could be out of reach for many lower-income women. Distance and lack of transportation could prohibit some from participating in physical therapy or exercise programs. Compression sleeves, a crucial element in lymphedema treatment, are costly and not often covered by insurance. Financial barriers prohibit survivors from managing their limitations effectively and prevent them from participating in everyday activities — whether they be jobs or hobbies.
Surviving breast cancer is a victory worth celebrating. After defeating it, survivors should be able to thrive as well.
Shannon Miller’s mother, Jennifer, is a breast cancer survivor. She has been cancer-free for 10 years.
The clamor of pep bands still echoed around the emptying arena where 7,686 fans had cheered on a game that showcased the best of women’s basketball, including lightning passes and sprints across the centerline that had even the mascots in a sweat.
But outside, it was quiet on the Flyers’ idling bus. Six-foot-4-inch center Jodie Cornelie-Sigmundova shuffled down the aisle carrying a 3-foot poster board of her head. Screaming fans had waved it an hour ago. Now, in the dim light of the bus, it was an anachronism.
Players sat alone, faces in cell phones, waiting for the long trip home after the team’s largest loss of the season.
Whether it was from exhaustion or dejection, coach Jim Jabir wasn’t having it.
Listen up, he said. You need to hear three things:
“Coach [Geno] Auriemma just told the whole world and me that we’re the best team he’s played in the last five years.
“UConn assistant coach Chris Dailey came running back to me and said, ‘I don’t know what you do, but every one of your kids looked us in the eye when we shook hands. That’s special.’
“And a member of the ESPN crew went out of his way to tell me that, in his 35 years, he’s never enjoyed being around a group as much as my team.”
Two weeks later, Jabir sat in his Cronin Center office reflecting on his team’s historic run to the Elite Eight, including its first-half lead against top-ranked and eventual national champion Connecticut, something no other team accomplished this season. He was so proud.
“I think we ask a lot of them,” Jabir said of his players, “and when they get it right, they need to hear it.”
The women’s basketball team got a lot right this season. The regular season saw the Flyers go 28-7 overall and win the Atlantic 10 regular-season title with a record of 14-2. The team’s four-year seniors topped 100 career wins during their fourth — and the program’s sixth — consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.
And then there was the NCAA Tournament run and the game that impressed UConn’s coaches and the rest of the basketball world.
The season was defined by teamwork and hard work, locker-room dances and goofy jokes, skill and perseverance. Most of all, the team believed it could win, so it did, over and over, along the way becoming one of the eight best women’s programs in the nation.
When the cheerleaders jumped in unison, it made your stomach do a little flip. Several hundred fans packed into the Time Warner Cable Flight Deck with the pep band and cheerleaders for the 2015 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Selection Show March 16. At every syllable of D-A-Y-T-O-N, the cheerleaders bounced, and the floor suspended above the UD Arena swayed just a bit.
That feeling of having your feet not firmly planted under you — whether from excitement or uncertainty — was familiar to Flyer fans this season. At the selection show it was butterflies of anticipation, just as it was at the very start of the season. Returning were seniors Ally Malott, Andrea Hoover and Tiffany Johnson among a talented cast that included Jenna Burdette, a freshman point guard who would help direct the team’s winning offense.
But the season started with trips west that had the Flyers losing three of their first four games. Inexperienced players fouled and sent opponents to the line. Slow rotations left the opposing players with wide-open shots. UD’s bigs got beat on the inside.
Making mistakes — and learning from them — was what the Flyers were there to do, Jabir said after a 90-83 loss to Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
And learn they did. After a 77-33 win at home Jan. 21 over the Rhode Island Rams, Hoover told the Dayton Daily News that depth and consistency had become hallmarks of this year’s team.
“You can’t focus on just one player,” she said of her opponents’ strategy playing the Flyers. “If you do, the other four on the floor can hurt you. We got away from that a little at the beginning this year, but we’re getting back to it now, and it’s making us a better team.”
Losing, it turned out, made them more motivated.
Three times this season, the Flyers met George Washington on the court. Dayton played — and lost — both home and away, and then faced the Colonials again in the Atlantic 10 tournament final.
The Flyers adjusted their game to contain 6-4 forward Jonquel Jones — but instead of succeeding, they broke everything they had built. They didn’t get beat by just Jones, Hoover said; the Flyers got beat by the entire Colonials team. Final score: 75-62.
“A lot of people doubted us because, how can you guys lose to the same team three times?” Hoover said, noting she heard rumblings that the Flyers didn’t belong in the NCAA Tournament. “It made us kind of angry.”
Anger can be a strong motivator. So can feeling slighted, like when the team received a lower-than-expected No. 7 seed on Selection Monday.
First up for the Flyers in the round of 64 was 10th-seed Iowa State, a game played in Lexington, Kentucky. Another slight came from President Barack Obama, who filled out his NCAA bracket and picked the Flyers to lose to these sharpshooters. The Flyers beat Iowa State, 78-66.
“We busted his bracket,” Hoover said.
Next up for the Flyers in the round of 32 was No. 2-seed Kentucky on March 22. Media coverage before the game all but ordained an eventual Elite Eight meeting between Kentucky and UConn.
But being discounted didn’t dampen the Flyers’ conviction. In fact, players said it was this second-round game — played on Kentucky’s home court in front of 3,300 fans in blue surrounding a small section of red — that solidified the Flyers’ belief in themselves.
The game was a scorcher, with nine lead changes and nine ties. Going into a timeout, the Flyers were down 10 but never felt out of the hunt.
“I was never scared, even though it was so close,” said Malott, who ended the game with a team-high 28 points and 13 rebounds. “In games in the past, I could feel it slipping away — you try to do something about it, but you can’t.”
This time, she said, everyone stepped up.
Eight Flyers played, necessitated by five fouls that sat Hoover on the bench for nearly half the game. Cornelie-
Sigmundova and Burdette also fouled out.
Jabir said that every time someone was needed, she stepped up. Sophomore Saicha Grant-Allen came in for Cornelie-Sigmundova and scored six. Junior Amber Deane added 23 points in 28 minutes played, including a 3 with 24 seconds left that put the Flyers up by four. Senior Tiffany Johnson sunk all four of her shots from the free-throw line late in the game. Junior Kelley Austria scored 17, including a 3 that gave the Flyers the lead for good.
In the second half, Dayton made 64 percent of its shots and five of its eight 3-point attempts. For the game, the Flyers were 28 of 31 from the free-throw line.
Final score: Flyers 99, Wildcats 94, and UD’s first ticket to the Sweet 16.
In the locker room, freshman JaVonna Layfield danced. Cornelie-Sigmundova jumped from floor to bench, head thrown back in a victorious cry. Sophomores Christy Macioce and Andrijana Cvitkovic hugged teammates. When Jabir entered the locker room, Malott and then the rest of the team swarmed him and rubbed his close-cropped hair. Jabir broke out in a laugh.
It’s funny, Jabir said. You go to the tournament five years straight and don’t make it out of the first weekend, and you wonder what you’re doing wrong. And then you have a season where everything goes right.
“For 30 years and for all this season we’ve spent trying to get here,” Jabir said to his players in that locker room. “And then we try to get you to believe — we want you to believe. …
“And we believe.”
That belief is what carried the program to its first Sweet 16, in Albany, New York, March 28. The opponent, No. 3-seed Louisville, had experience — five other Sweet 16 appearances since 2008. This would be Dayton’s first — big game, national stage, and focused media attention on the players, the coach and the Sweet 16 tattoo he promised he’d get to commemorate the big day.
The game’s first half was plagued by lead changes and turnovers, including two Flyer passes to the red Louisville Cardinal mascot instead of a red-jerseyed teammate. Dayton led by only a point at halftime, but the second half couldn’t have been choreographed any better. A 3-pointer from Deane capped an 11-2 run. The Flyers made 21 of 25 free throws. At one point, Hoover dribbled and drove to the basket, pirouetted past a defender, and stopped a nd popped in a 2.
This is why they call it dancing.
The final score over Louisville was 82-66, with the Flyers winning a spot in the NCAA Elite Eight, another first for Dayton’s program.
During a press conference Sunday before the Elite Eight game, Jabir had an answer to the question everyone was asking: Does your team have a chance against No. 1 UConn?
Well, he said, it would be really dumb if we didn’t believe we did.
“I think lots of people thought we were going to Kentucky and lose, and I think a lot of people thought we were going to come here yesterday and lose” to Louisville, he said. “And our kids didn’t. I don’t know what it is — maturity? — but when we’ve been in the huddle in the last two or three games, there’s a different look on their faces, a different look in their eyes, and they really, really believe that we’re going to get this done.
“So who am I to tell them that they’re not?”
Malott believed, but she credits the coaching staff for believing first. It’s easy to tell
when a coach is just saying something to get you to work hard, she said. That wasn’t what was happening here.
The night before the UConn game, Malott stood with her teammates waiting for a table at Delmonico’s Italian Steakhouse. Life-sized caricatures of Frank Sinatra, Al Pacino and Madonna beckoned from the walls behind them, but the players focused on the television in front of them. No. 1-seed Duke was beating No. 2-seed Gonzaga in the last men’s Elite Eight game of the season. Earlier that day, No. 7-seed Michigan State won a Final Four slot; it would be the only low seed to compete.
“If they win,” Malott said of Duke, “it will be like the women’s Final Four: one-seed, one-seed, one-seed, seven-seed.”
If No. 7-seed Dayton beat UConn.
It was a big “if,” by all accounts. The Huskies were 35-1 going into the Elite Eight, beating their opponents by an average of more than 44 points. Nine-time NCAA national champions since 1995, the Huskies were coming in on a roll, having won championships in both
2013 and 2014.
Being the No. 1-ranked team in the nation for so many seasons lends a certain mystique, one that usually intimidates opponents and puts the Huskies up by an easy 20 early.
No one on Dayton’s team was going to let that happen. As they took the court, Dayton controlled the pace, with freshman Burdette sinking the first field goal of the game. The first half was fast-paced, with an average of 15 seconds ticking off the clock between shots. The lead changed 15 times and was tied 10 times, one score balanced by another at the other end. Austria had 11 points in the first, including a zig-zag-zig around UConn defenders for a 2.
And then the halftime buzzer rang, and the audience exhaled for the first time in 20 minutes of play. Dayton was up by a point, 44-43. It was the first time UConn had trailed at the half this season — and the first time an opponent had scored so many points against UConn in a first half since March 1, 2008.
“I wanted to run right past the locker room and get on the bus, go home,” said Jabir, his characteristic crooked smile revealing the truth in his wisecrack. “I did. I don’t know if we could have played better, and I knew [UConn was] going to make adjustments. But in those 20 minutes, it was ideal.
“We were fearless; we were not intimidated — the whole NCAA Tournament, we were never intimidated; we were never fearful. We didn’t have to get them mentally prepared for the inevitable. [Our players] thought they were going to win every game they played — that was so cool. Then to catch and shoot and drive, and it was so — including Connecticut — it was so pretty just running up and down, such freedom and flow. It was a beautiful thing to watch.”
In the locker room at halftime, the Flyers went about their normal routine: while the coaching staff discussed strategy in another room, the players analyzed their own performance. They gathered around a whiteboard with Malott as scribe and ticked off what they needed to improve:
• One-on-one defense
• Keep attacking
• Get on (Kaleena) Mosqueda-Lewis — stop her
“He puts a lot of the decision-making on us,” Malott said. The point guard is expected to survey the court and call the plays; the players analyze their performance and anticipate their opponents’ next moves.
Coaches and players finished the halftime with this certainty: UConn would adjust to regain control. That’s how the Huskies came to be No. 1 — skill, intensity, adaptability and killer 3-pointers from senior Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis. The Flyers’ goal: maintain pace and keep UConn from going on a run.
It worked for the first 10 minutes, but then a one-point gain fell to an eight-point deficit that grew through the half. Mosqueda-Lewis kept her footing from beyond the arc, setting an NCAA career 3-point record with 395 baskets made.
The Flyers never regained the lead.
And they never gave up. Buried in the final score of 91-70 is a first half for the record books — and memory books.
“This is something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Malott said, “and it’s the way to go out.”
Malott’s memory may be long, but basketball’s is not, despite the Flyers receiving much media attention during the weeks around its NCAA Tournament run.
“The cynic in me understands that this is temporary,” Jabir said. “If we have a losing record next year, no one will remember who I was. So you try to do the best you can now to gain as much from it and enjoy it, understanding that you never stay the same; you either get better or you get worse. My whole point of being right now is to get better.”
That includes answering calls from recruits who this winter never bothered calling him back. It means vetting 12 potential transfers, all interested in playing for that team they saw on TV. His coaching staff watched hours of video, talked to coaches who played against the prospects, met the women to get a feel for their personal and professional goals. Would they be a good fit with the Flyer basketball family? Would they be part of the UD community? Or were the players simply shopping for a shinier jersey with a more successful school?
“I rely on my gut a lot,” he said. “Is the kid being sincere? Sometimes your judgment is right, and sometimes it’s wrong. You try your best.”
One of those Jabir added to the roster was junior Madeline Blais of Marist College, who will bring both
shooting and league tournament experience to the team. As a transfer, she’ll sit out until the 2016-17 season.
While it’s all about making the program better, he’s also a pragmatist and understands the limits of what he can do. You can teach good players to play the game well, he said. But that small pool of really great players? They’re still all headed to UConn. And Stanford. And Notre Dame. And Tennessee.
“It’s difficult to do what we did this year — it’s very difficult,” Jabir said. “… I don’t know if, in the real world, Dayton should aspire
to be more than a first- or second-round team — I don’t know.”
The success of recent years was enough to make Tim Wabler ’74 smile as he sat in Albany after the Sweet 16 game. The vice president and director of athletics said the University made a conscious decision to commit resources to both women’s and men’s basketball programs, and it’s paying off for the school, the players and the fans. Case in point: the growing attendance at the women’s games and the good show fans see at UD Arena.
He’s also excited to see both the women’s and men’s teams playing so far into March each year.
“On a national level, it reinforces that the Dayton community and the University of Dayton are about basketball,” he said. Pointing to the depth of the current women’s roster, Wabler added, “Basketball in Dayton is going to be real exciting in the next three years.”
Dayton isn’t the only women’s program that benefits from the UConn-UD match, characterized by sports reporters as an athletic game between upstanding players in front of supportive fans who travel well.
Former WNBA commissioner Val Ackerman released a white paper in 2013 about how to grow women’s basketball throughout the country. Her findings included speeding up women’s games, cultivating fan support, and focusing on vision and
Check, check and check.
“This is what it is supposed to look like,” Jabir said of the Flyers’ Elite Eight first half. “It was so fun to be a part of it on a national level.”
And the national exposure continues.
This spring, Malott and Hoover became the first Flyer women to be drafted into the WNBA. Malott’s first-round pick by the Washington Mystics was the third-highest draft pick of any Dayton student-athlete. She was picked eighth. (Jim Paxson ’56 went third in the 1956 NBA draft, and John Horan ’55 went sixth in the 1955 NBA draft.) Hoover was chosen 31st by the Los Angeles Sparks.
The two teammates were scheduled to become opponents when the Mystics and the Sparks met in Washington, D.C., June 23.
Both Malott and Hoover said it will be strange to be on opposite coasts. For four years, these roommates have been just a bed or a bus seat or table away. At team dinners, Hoover would be talking — saying something completely serious or making a joke — and in the next moment, Malott would fall off her chair, laughing. Any topic is fair game for a ribbing, from Malott’s compulsion with putting ketchup on all meat to Hoover’s obsession with peanut butter.
Watch them talk together, and you’d think they were family. You’d be right. (See story, Page 38.) Jabir said his program’s dynamics are a lot like his family’s. It works, he said, because of the Marianists and the University and their focus on mission and values. Community isn’t just a catchphrase — it permeates his team, too.
An Elite Eight year like we had, he said, does not happen without this campus.
“I think that’s why I’m comfortable here, because the values of this school reflect my values and the program’s values,” said Jabir, who is starting his 13th
season at Dayton. “There’s this synergy that works really, really well, and that’s why we’re
“It’s not just our Elite Eight. It’s everybody’s Elite Eight — because we’re all a product of it.”
Michelle Tedford played basketball in middle school. In high school, basketball conflicted with newspaper paste-up. That was the end of one story and the beginning of many more.
‘My fondest wish for each and every one of us is that we will find something in our lives worth fighting for because, when we do, we will have found a way to unite the will of the spirit with the work of the flesh, and the world would discover fire for the second time. Then may the light and the heat from that fire confirm our purpose with every thought, every word, every action to help heal a broken world wherever we may find it.’ —Martin Sheen, actor and honorary degree recipient
In the tunnels under UD Arena, one new alumnus was so proud of his degree he couldn’t stop smiling. He greeted every robed and tasseled figure with a hearty hello, a handshake and a congratulations.
While those he greeted likely took four or five years on their UD journey, his took more than 50.
Actor and Daytonian Martin Sheen, 74, received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Dayton under his given name, Ramon Estévez, during undergraduate commencement May 3. Like the other 1,441 graduates being honored, he shook hands with President Daniel J. Curran, received his diploma and smiled for the cameras. And then he spoke from the heart in a confluence of emotion and memory:
“It’s a pleasure to return from whence I came for such a special occasion. …
“It is the absolute necessity for justice, healing and mercy that really unites us. …
“We are not asked to do great things; we’re asked to do all things with greater care. …”
The day before, Sheen attended a family reunion in Dayton. Estévez siblings, children and grandchildren gathered around to watch a video created by Sheen’s brother John. It featured photos of their parents, Francisco and Mary-Ann Estévez, immigrants from Spain and Ireland respectively, who raised 10 children in a home along Brown Street. That evening, Sheen attended Mass at St. Joseph Catholic Church on Second Street, where his parents were married in 1927.
“I wasn’t prepared for the deep, emotional crack it made in me,” Sheen said after receiving his degree. “This was about my dad. I had to come here. I had to celebrate him. I had to recognize him.”
And so, the night before the commencement, Sheen rewrote his brief remarks into a speech both funny and heartwarming, one that stoked the fires of social justice — to which he has dedicated himself these last 34 years and for which he was being honored the next day — and gave tribute to his father.
“He was my first hero; he was the best man I ever knew, and I’m honored to remember him this day with thanksgiving and praise,” Sheen said from the stage.
The graduation ceremony was a fulfillment of Francisco’s dream for Sheen — to be a University of Dayton graduate. The dream started at the moment of Sheen’s birth, Aug. 3, 1940. Doctors used forceps to deliver the baby boy, crushing his left shoulder and leaving Sheen with limited use of his left arm. His father was also crushed.
“He thought I was a cripple,” Sheen said, recounting the story to a group of students after the ceremony. And so Francisco, an NCR factory worker who Sheen says likely made no more than $147 a week during his life, saved enough money for his son to attend UD.
It was not a dream Sheen shared, and he punctuated his desire to be an actor by intentionally failing his UD entrance exam. The men eventually healed their rift, and Francisco gave his son his blessing to move to New York. Known for the roles of President Josiah Bartlet in television’s The West Wing, a serial killer in the film Badlands and a troubled soldier during the Vietnam War in Apocalypse Now, Sheen said his most nourishing role has been that of social activist. He has spoken out against war, abortion, genocide and capital punishment, and he has been arrested for his protest of the School of the Americas. He supports environ- mental sustainability, workers’ rights, human rights and an end to gun violence.
“Acting is what I do for a living,” he said, “and activism is what I do to stay alive.”
His activism exemplifies the Catholic, Marianist mission present at both UD and Dayton’s Chaminade High School, where he at- tended as a boy. Sheen has said the teachings of the priests and brothers of the Society of Mary helped shape his commitment to social justice, human rights, service and peace. “Remember this, above all: One heart with courage is a majority,” he said at graduation.
“Over the entire history of the human race no one has ever made any real contribution without personal suffering, self-sacrifice and sometimes even death.”
At a post-graduation lunch reception, Sheen greeted family and friends, including sons Ramon and Emilio. He also gathered with other special guests, including UD’s Chami- nade Scholars, who were leaving in two days for a pilgrimage to Rome. He shared with the students his role as a pilgrim in The Way, a 2011 movie by Emilio about El Camino de Santiago, “the way of St. James” in the northwest of Spain.
Sheen ended by inviting them to sing with him his favorite hymn, “How Can I Keep From Singing?”
“If you start your day with that, you’re in good shape,” he told them.
It was his interactions with students — both gracious and deeply personal — that revealed the depth of his passion for social justice and the energy he absorbs from the activism of others.
When he sat later in the day with faculty and students from the Human Rights Center in Raymond L. Fitz Hall, Sheen balanced his chin on his right hand, leaning forward to engage the students in conversation.
Sophomore Leena Sabagh talked about her work with Students for Justice in Palestine; Sheen offered her contact with director Ellie Bernstein of Ghost Town, The Hebron Story, for which Sheen served as narrator. Sophomore Rosalia Stadler talked about her research in uncovering human trafficking in the consumer supply chain; Sheen shared stories of work- ing with Father Shay Cullen, who has fought trafficking in the Philippines for more than 30 years.
As Sheen learned about the Human Rights Center’s use of evidence-based strategies to help NGOs, he shook his head in amazement that students would volunteer to travel to developing countries and learn from the people about their challenges and dreams.
“I’m very encouraged, and the fact that it’s here, it’s amazing,” Sheen said.
After another round of autographs and selfies, Sheen walked out to his waiting car — two hours later than scheduled — and thanked his UD entourage again for the wonderful day that connected his roots to his personal passions.
In the parking lot, he met new graduate Lori Claricoates. She set down an armload of drawings she had just cleared from her locker in the Department of Art and Design to offer him a handshake and thank-you for his inspiring speech. He countered with a hug and a hearty congratulations, asking questions about her new job, her family and her hometown.
Standing there in the sun, they were simply two forever-Flyers in the process of realizing their dreams.
The days begin early at Annunciation House. The four women here rouse themselves from sleep and pad their way to the chapel for the 6:25 morning prayer and then Mass. Twice a day they gather for prayer, and several times a week they share meals together. In between, it’s household chores and jobs out in the community, jamming hymns on guitars and, yes, sitting around talking and eating ice cream.
For people exploring a religious vocation, Annunciation House in Kettering, Ohio, a few miles from UD’s campus, offers a temporary home to see for themselves what it might mean to live a consecrated life — a life of religious community devoted to Jesus Christ, each person publicly professing the vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and stability.
In today’s Western world, they are not easy vows, but ones Pope Francis has called attention to during this Year of Consecrated Life. He asks us all to be aware of the gift of the lives and work of consecrated people in our communities. He also challenges these religious “to wake up the world,” “step out more courageously” and discover “perfect joy.”
Again, not easy. But at a time when the number of vowed religious is falling, it is this call to a joyful life in community young people may well find attractive — young people who will ultimately be the future of the Church.
It is not enough to simply create attractive recruitment programs, says Pope Francis: “The consecrated life will not flourish as a result of brilliant vocation programs but because the young people we meet find us attractive, because they see us as men and women who are happy!”
Gabby Bibeau ’11 sure does. The 26-year-old has lived at Annunciation House since December 2014. “The individual brothers and sisters here [at UD] are very Christ-like. Meeting them and knowing them has made me want to be like them,” she says. “Living here is a good path to holiness.”
Religious community and continuous discernment shepherd everyone who’s on the path. Their journey is called formation, several years of living the spirit of the vows with the freedom to step out at any point and choose another direction.
It all begins with inquiry, which includes gathering information, going on retreats and working in ministries. Bibeau did that before reaching aspirancy, when she became a pre-novice, or postulant, by committing to a year at Annunciation House and doing full-time ministry in religious education as a pastoral associate at a nearby parish.
Next comes life as a novice, which 30-year-old Craig Irwin, n.O.S.F.S. ’07, will have been for a year, learning about the foundation of the order with other Oblates of Saint Francis de Sales novices in Brooklyn, Michigan. Community living and strictly scheduled prayer are preparing him for the step of temporary profession. That’s when, depending on the order, those in formation further their university education or return to full-time ministry work. Thirty-one-year-old Brandon Paluch, S.M. ’06, is doing the latter until he’s ready to take final vows, when he would devote himself to a consecrated life — for the rest of his life.
These University of Dayton alumni are on their journey during the Year of Consecrated Life, which began the first Sunday of Advent, Nov. 30, 2014, and ends on the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, Feb. 2, 2016. It marks the 50th anniversary of Perfectae Caritatis, a decree on religious life, and Lumen Gentium, the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church.
During this time, the pope is urging everyone to “look to the past with gratitude,” “live the present with passion” and “embrace the future with hope.”
Those considering a consecrated life examine where they’ve been, where they are and where they might be going. In Dayton, they can turn to Sister Nicole Trahan, F.M.I., for guidance. As the Dayton-based vocation coordinator for the Marianist sisters and brothers, she helps mostly young men and women determine whether religious life is right for them. If the person thinks so, she “walks” with him or her through the process to enter the first stage of inquiry. “We talk and email a lot,” says Trahan, 40. She often invites people to Annunciation House for prayer and supper.
During suppers and discernment retreats, questions come up. “Is God calling me to this life?” asks an undergrad who has yet to declare her major. The young man who grew up an only child wants to know, “What does it mean to be a Marianist sister or brother?” “Will my family understand this?” asks another student who lives with his parents. “How does one live the vows?” questions anyone who wonders, “Can I do this?”
Trahan says the path to perpetual vows is full of questions.
“Everyone answers in a different way. There’s also, ‘What if,’ ‘Am I sure,’ ‘Am I lying to myself?’ There are always going to be some doubts. We do our best to trust that God won’t let us down.”
Fewer Catholics worldwide are answering the call to a consecrated life. Internationally, since 1970 the number of religious priests, sisters and brothers has dropped 27 percent. In the U.S., the number is down 66 percent to 66,211 in 2014, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, or CARA. In the U.S., there are approximately 300 vowed religious in the Society of Mary and Daughters of Mary Immaculate, identified by S.M. for priests and brothers and F.M.I. for sisters.
Many things can attract a person to a religious life. For some young people, service opportunities give a glimpse of a life devoted to Christ.
Paluch’s journey began during UD BreakOuts, when he served in Haiti, India and the Appalachia region of the U.S. “These experiences were so enriching and only added to what I was learning in the classroom,” he says. Take the one he had in Haiti, spring 2003, working with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity at a home for the dying. “While I was massaging a man on his deathbed to relieve some of his pain, I remembered what someone told us as we were preparing to leave for Haiti: ‘Jesus hangs out there a lot.’ For me, this man was the suffering Jesus.”
In Paluch’s encounters with the brothers and priests he met on his travels, “the golden, common thread was they were loving and selfless,” he says. “The consecrated life was somewhat strange, but I admired these people, and that slowly opened me to seeing it as an opportunity for myself.”
During his third and last inquiry retreat, in December 2008, while a graduate student at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Paluch seriously considered aspirancy. “A life totally dedicated to God and to serving others, holy and filled with God’s love, was very attractive to me,” he says. “But I was going back and forth with, ‘Is this my call?’
“Then I had a conversation with a very wise Marianist priest, Father Paul Landolfi, who was in his 80s then, and he told me, ‘I would encourage you to make a decision, because I think it will free you.’ If I didn’t try the life, I thought the idea of it would have followed me. So in 2009, I decided to join the Marianists.”
What attracted Paluch then, and still does, he says, is, “Mary’s warmth of welcome to God and others. She gathers under her mantle people from all walks of life: rich and poor, from different cultures and with different ideas. She brings us together so we might be closer to each other and to her son. This is the deep meaning and root of UD community.”
Paluch is now in his third year of temporary profession. Coordinator of community outreach at UD’s Center for Social Concern, he connects students to social justice volunteer opportunities such as serving soup-kitchen meals and assisting people with disabilities. The students give of themselves “from a faith-based perspective,” he says, “answering the question of why they’re engaged in the work at all — because that’s what Jesus asks of us. Then, through self-reflection and conversations with me, they explore how their experiences connect with
the ones they have at church and with the Scriptures.”
Paluch also counsels people during what he calls very tender parts of their journeys in life, whether it’s facing an uncertain future or the illness or death of a loved one. “Together in this community of faith, I hope to point out that God is alive and right here for them,” he says.
It’s community that provides the support for considering and committing oneself to living a consecrated life, says Tracey Horan ’10, a postulant with the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. “I’m choosing to make our mission and community central to each decision that I make.”
The 27-year-old learned a lot about religious community life while at UD. The summer between her junior and senior years, in 2009, she and four other students flew to Nairobi, Kenya, and lived with a men’s Marianist community for five weeks. Every day, they went to one of the largest slums in the country, Mukuru, and tutored youngsters eager to pass an eighth-grade test that would win them scholarships, allowing an escape from the slum.
“Having that consistent, common ministry and then talking about it during mealtimes, I saw the value of living together, rooted in Gospel values, and I drew strength from that,” she says.
After earning her bachelor’s at UD in middle childhood education and Spanish, Horan lived with the Sisters of Charity in El Paso, Texas, for two years. “You can visit communities and learn from books, but to sit down at the table with women called by the Gospel, dedicated to a common religious life, and see the passion, joy and struggles they experience together, and their perseverance, was very influential for me,” she says.
Irwin’s initial inspiration came from the namesake of his order, St. Francis de Sales, a bishop and famous author in the early 1600s.
“He taught that everyone can be holy, that no matter who you are or what you do, you can live a holy life for God,” Irwin says. “I was attracted to this charism also because it doesn’t require a heavy intellectual understanding of Christian life. The Oblates are very down-to-earth, and they work with the ‘common man’ to be holy. I don’t come from a wealthy background, so I like the idea of helping the everyday person.”
In his ministry at Crossroads of Michigan, a Detroit social service agency that offers emergency assistance, food, clothing and counseling, he says, “I give myself fully and completely to the needs of humanity and the Church. This gives me a sense of accountability. I’m vowing to God, consecrating myself to God, answering to God.”
While ministries take Irwin and others who are on this path out into the world, the world doesn’t always understand the life they’ve chosen.
“A lot of Catholics, especially older ones, remember the nuns in school as angry old women,” Irwin says. “Nowadays, I haven’t met a single ‘angry old woman.’ I’m trying to change that assumption, helping people see the truth, through conversations with them, and also through our actions, by the way we live and love people.”
The consecrated life also isn’t supported by mainstream culture, says Trahan: “It’s difficult to live the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in our society today, one that’s so materialistic, focusing on individualism and the accumulation of things, and somewhat oversexualized.” What helps the most, she says, is prayer — and community.
But sharing space with others isn’t always easy, especially when it comes to obedience, says Bibeau.
“I cannot make some decisions without seeing how they could affect others in the community,” she says. “This requires me to compromise. Before I was in formation, I could take a weekend to visit my family or go on vacation with a friend. Now if I want to do those things, I need to ask other people and see if it works with everybody’s schedules, because maybe I’m needed for some ministry.”
Sometimes, Horan says, the test comes from within.
“During formation, you’re asked to look at yourself, your strengths, downfalls and struggles, and why you struggle. For me, it’s my stubbornness and my resistance to compromise even on small things like parts of the daily routine. It makes you feel very vulnerable,” she says. “It’s tough to dig through parts of my past that have made me who I am and recognize how this impacts my own discernment and ability to be present in community life. It’s very humbling. I’m learning to ask for support from others, but it’s not easy.”
For Irwin, living in community requires learning to love each other, in spite of the differences. Paluch agrees. He says, “Jesus taught us to love everybody, even our enemies. It’s a tall order to love like Jesus loves, to be merciful and accepting and compassionate. It’s something we can only do with God’s grace.”
With an eye toward a consecrated life, Horan says she feels part of something bigger than herself.
“That’s motivating, and it propels me to know that we have this common mission and call to follow the Gospel and be present to others in a way that shows radical love,” she says. “I feel like this life is where I fit the best, where I can most be my authentic self, and as a result, the gifts I have are magnified. Whatever I do give becomes more because I’m part of this life. I think I have a strong, prophetic voice in that I’m not easily satisfied when people’s needs are not being met or when there are injustices and people’s voices are not being heard. I have a gift for calling that out, and asking ourselves to be more of a society as people of God and to live up to the Gospel. And that means everyone is included and valued.”
Horan aspires to be more present in the moment: “I want to be more open to learning, open to others’ perspectives,” she says. “And I hope to have the courage to respond when a ministry comes up, or some other opportunity, where my gifts would really fit.” She sees herself in an advocacy role or as a community or labor organizer.
Irwin says parishes and dioceses should take on new roles, especially as more support is becoming available to those who need it most.
“For example, the poor now have greater access to health care,” he says. “So what can we make happen there that hasn’t been thought of yet? I don’t know the answer to that, but the pope is a good example of someone who’s open to new ways of thinking and doing things.”
Who doesn’t want to make the world a better place? For Bibeau, that world includes herself.
“I want to remain open to growth and learning and become more comfortable about what it means to be a religious sister and more trusting of God and how God is working in my life,” she says. The earliest she could take temporary vows is in about two years. After that, “I don’t know. It depends on what your gifts are, and that’s something you discern with the community.”
Here’s something Bibeau does know: She’s honoring religious community, as Pope Francis asks the world’s Catholics to do, by observing the Year of Consecrated Life. It’s the people who choose that life who pulled her to the path to begin with. In their holiness, she saw the happiness the pope says young people like herself will attain, helping the consecrated life thrive.
Each day brings Bibeau closer to living it and being like the people who already do. Meanwhile, together in community, cooking meals and doing chores, talking and eating ice cream — “and especially praying,” she says — “I feel like I’m a better version of myself.”
Claire Sykes is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon.
‘I still think a large segment of our society thinks about Vietnam as a war, not a country of over 70 million people, the majority of whom have been born since the war was over. It’s a country with its own hopes, its own dreams, its own culture.’
– John Terzano, associate professor of law, Vietnam veteran and Nobel Peace Prize winner
The U.S. left Vietnam 40 years ago. John Terzano was among the first to return. He brought home a Nobel Peace Prize.
A Nobel Peace Prize hangs in the office of associate professor of law and Vietnam veteran John Terzano.
In 1980 Terzano, who served two tours with the U.S. Navy, co-founded the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF) with fellow veterans, including former Marine Bobby Muller. In 1981, the two men joined two others and became the first delegation of veterans to return to Vietnam. Their diplomacy helped lift the U.S. economic embargo of Vietnam and normalize relations, and their advocacy work benefited veterans suffering the effects of exposure to the dioxin-based defoliant Agent Orange.
When the men saw up-close the ravages of landmines that remained in WSoutheast Asia, they collaborated to form the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which was awarded the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize.
Terzano, who has taught at the UD School of Law since 2013, is the director of academic success. We caught up with him this spring after he returned from Vietnam, an official guest of the government as it commemorated the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, April 30, 1975.
Why did the four of you go back to Vietnam in 1981?
When we went, we went for ourselves. We went there to get information about Agent Orange to help the guys back home. We met with the leading scientist on the issue, Dr. Tong That Tung, who happened to be Ho Chi Minh’s physician, but he had also done a lot of research on the effects of dioxin. We wanted information that would be helpful to our advocacy work back here in the States because the government’s position was that dioxin doesn’t cause any problems.
After the first day or so, we realized there was a whole other side to the war. I wouldn’t even describe Hanoi in 1981 as a Third World city. The Vietnamese people were suffering from the U.S. government’s embargo and the legacy of Agent Orange and landmines. It changed our lives.
How did the locals react to your visit?
They learned that four American GIs were visiting Hanoi from radio broadcasts. We were visiting near Christmas, and they were commemorating what was then the ninth anniversary of the Christmas bombings when the U.S. dropped more bombs on Hanoi than Germany did on England throughout the entire Second World War. We didn’t know what to expect. We were walking around the city, and people would come up to us and say, “Are you the American veterans?” And we’d say yes, and they’d say, “Welcome to Vietnam.” Their openness, their friendliness, their ability to put the war behind them was extraordinary. Certainly in 1981 it was something America had not done, and some would argue we haven’t dealt with it yet.
Did the visit help your advocacy work?
It did help, but it took a while. It took a year or two to get legislation to open the door for treatment of some of the effects but much longer than that for actual compensation. But that’s typical when dealing with issues of advocacy. VVAF was an organization devoted to addressing the causes, conduct and consequences of the war. One of the things veterans were complaining about was a skin condition known as chloracne. We advocated to the Veterans Administration to grant compensation for this skin disease. They refused. The reality is if they would have done that, it would have taken the wind out of our sails. By them refusing to do it, it gave us the voice to say the government is not doing anything.
Why did you start a clinic in Cambodia in 1991?
We had yet to get the embargo lifted with Vietnam — that happened in 1994, and we opened our first clinic there in 1995 — and we were trying to figure out how to become politically relevant again. We were coming off the first Gulf War, and no one wanted to hear from the last generation to go to war. We thought, Americans relate to humanitarian programs, so if we run humanitarian programs that can get us back to the table.
We started a clinic in Phnom Penh as a way to be involved in the region, and we did so somewhat naïvely. We had no expertise in doing this stuff other than Bobby [Muller] being a paraplegic and a couple individuals that were working for us, Ed Miles and Dave Evans, who were double amputees from the war. We had been traveling to Cambodia since the early 1980s, so we met with Prime Minister Hun Sen and asked if we could start a prosthetics clinic. Our first patients were veteran troublemakers that the government rounded up and sent to our clinic. Pissed-off veterans — that we had experience with, with or without a language barrier. After that, the people who started coming to our clinic were civilians affected by landmines. So we said maybe we can do something about this, develop a campaign.
Who did the VVAF work with on landmine issues?
A German organization, Medico International, had been working in Cambodia, and our groups hooked up with a couple other organizations. Then we met with U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and his staff, primarily Tim Rieser. Sen. Leahy said it would take a lot of years to do something, but he said he would start with a moratorium on the United States’ export and manufacture of landmines. Within a year, the resolution passed the Senate on a 100-to-nothing vote. It was pretty amazing. Long story short, we started the campaign in 1991, and in six short years we had an international treaty led by Sen. Leahy and Lloyd Axworthy [then the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada] and signed by 122 countries — and a Nobel Peace Prize.
How did Diana, Princess of Wales, help the campaign?
In 1997, she traveled to Angola with the Mines Advisory Group, one of the campaign’s partners. Princess Di visited a minefield and was pictured in the British press wearing all the protective gear. She was very critical of British policy, and the British government criticized her, saying she had no business talking about military issues. They misjudged the love of the British people for the princess, and there was such an outcry that the British government changed its policy. So when she died Aug. 31, 1997, there was a lot of press around her work on landmines. It was a convergence.
How did you hear VVAF’s efforts won a Nobel?
Bobby [Muller] got woken up in his apartment from the Nobel committee saying that we got the award. I heard it on the news. I was in law school, and I remember being in class and some of my classmates coming up and saying congratulations. This good friend who was sitting next to me said, “Why are they congratulating you?” And I said, “Oh, we got the Nobel Peace Prize today.” “What are you doing here?” she asked. “I’ve got class, and we’ve got a test next week. I’ll deal with that later.” And I didn’t go to Oslo [Norway] for the Nobel lecture. It was around finals time — priorities. Ha. I should tell that to my students: I went to finals and blew off the Nobel Peace Prize presentation.
Your Nobel is hanging on your office wall. How many others from your organization have one?
They didn’t make very many. There were well over 100 who deserved the prize, and at least they were all recognized. When the Nobel committee awarded it, they didn’t understand that there wasn’t an organization per se. We ran the international campaign. We funded it; we managed it; we staffed it. When I say we, it was primarily VVAF who took the lead and worked with other organizations to develop campaigns around the world.
Why did you return to Vietnam for the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon?
Vietnam is part of who I am, what I am. I’ve been back many times since 1981, and the government invited me to its celebration. I was happy to see old friends and colleagues and to see our 20-year-old program still doing extraordinary work on issues of the environment, landmines, education and mental health. VVAF closed up shop, but our programs still operate under The International Center, an American NGO. While I was there, we broke ground on a new Vietnamese Mine Action Center. This is a testament to the country’s commitment to working on this issue, but it also reflects Vietnam’s leadership in the world: it has its own extraordinary difficulties but has the resources and expertise to help other nations.
You obviously hold great respect for Vietnam. What’s your hope for the country?
A lot has changed, but I still think a large segment of our society thinks about Vietnam as a war, not a country of over 70 million people, the majority of whom have been born since the war was over. It’s a country with its own hopes, its own dreams, its own culture. For the day when we as a people can view it as that, that’s what I wish for.
How have your thoughts about advocacy around issues of war changed?
For so many years, Vietnam veterans bore the burden of all the negativity around the war: we were the baby killers, the village burners. The veterans bore it all, not the government policies. Now it’s different: If you criticize our policy in Afghanistan or Iraq, people jump all over you as if you’re criticizing what our service members had done. There are lessons from Vietnam we haven’t learned and need to discuss, things as basic as when do you go to war, how do you go about doing it, who serves, who doesn’t serve and what do we do in society? We don’t have the larger discussions about what it means, the sacrifices that are going to be asked of everyone, not just some small segment of our society that serves and their families that we rip apart.
What are you most proud of?
I have spent my professional life working on issues that mean a lot to me, and I’m still doing work in a country where I served so many years ago. Seeing a smile on a little child’s face when she gets a new limb is more gratifying than all the accolades from governments or institutions.
Learn more about the programs of the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation: www.ic-vvaf.org
Dayton’s glory days are hopping again when it comes to libations thanks to a revival of the local brewing industry. It distills a piece of the city’s history, lends a full body to the economy, and adds a distinct flavor and aroma to Dayton’s cultural scene. Behind the barrels: UD alumni, innovators and entrepreneurs making it happen with their craft.
The number of breweries and distilleries now open in Day-ton mirrors national trends in the growth of the craft beer and spirits industry, and also bellies up with consumers’ growing taste for high-quality, sustainable and locally sourced food. (Yes, well before the first glass is finished, many argue craft beer and spirits are food.)
It’s about a love for all things local that make a town unique, a singular blinking blue dot on the map. (You know, things like the University of Dayton.) And Dayton’s new breweries and micro-distilleries are infusing new flavors into their pints of Dayton pride.
BIG STEINS TO FILL
During the mid-1800s, the city had more than the average number of breweries for a town its size, with 14 at the industry’s peak in the 1880s. Today, at least that many establishments have opened since 2011 alone, when a change in Ohio law made it economically feasible to open a small brewery or micro-distillery.
Shane Juhl ’04 opened the first brewery in the city of Dayton in 52 years June 28, 2013, when the inaugural glass was raised at Toxic Brew Co., where he is brewmaster and partner.
Before his Toxic adventure, Juhl — who completed his undergraduate work at Virginia Tech and his master’s in materials engineering at UD — was a research scientist working on fuel cell materials, nanotechnology, polymers and space-durable materials. But his love for Belgian beers pulled him away from those labs and into a new one: the home brewery.
“I’d spent about six years homebrewing and felt Dayton had a vacuum when it came to breweries,” Juhl said. “So I pulled the trigger to start one.”
Juhl and his partners bought a boarded-up building in downtown Dayton’s Oregon Historic District and renovated it inside and out. He designed the seven-barrel brewing system and other equipment, which was made in Ohio. Juhl and his staff even make Toxic’s tap handles.
“The best part of this has been people enjoying the beer,” Juhl said. “I’m excited to see the growing beer scene in Dayton. People are coming from other cities to see our breweries. Dayton has a rich history, and I enjoy being able to say we’re part of it.”
Toxic and other breweries are, indeed, resurrecting a legacy — one re-enacted at Carillon Brewing Co., a Dayton History facility at Carillon Historical Park near UD’s campus. The park is packed with things from Dayton that impacted the world, such as a replica of the workshop where the Wright brothers fashioned their flying machines. With a focus on life in the 1850s, beers are made as they were at that time, and staff in period costume serve up food and drink while guests observe the brewing equipment and, on certain days, the brewing process.
“Dayton is a great example of many American towns during the 1850s,” said Tanya Brock, Carillon Brewery manager and brewster. “This was a point in time when America was being heavily settled, especially by English, Irish and German immigrants. Barley was king and a staple of the daily diet. Beer was the result of all those things coming together.”
They came together so well in Dayton because all the necessary ingredients for beer exist or grow well in the region, which also has an abundance of water. Even then, Dayton was the “crossroads of America,” a gateway to the West, and lots of travelers needed a place to stop for a drink.
“Beer used to be a daily drink, not a social drink,” Brock said. “People didn’t realize boiling the water was what made beer safe to drink. They thought it was something in the fermentation process. So it was a safe, daily drink somewhat similar to how we drink water today, and a source of nutrition. Even kids drank what were called small ales, light beers with 2 percent or less alcohol content. As long as your community had a brewery, you knew it could provide you with something safe to drink that would not give you cholera.”
Beer changed from a daily to a social drink through the course of time, impacted by the temperance movement, an alcohol tax, cleaner water sources, and changes in agriculture and transportation. When Dayton Brewing Co. closed in 1962, it was the lone such business in the city.
Yet Carillon Brewing harkens back to those earlier times, using equipment and recipes that replicate an 1850s experience. Grain is hand milled, and barley is roasted over an open fire. Beer is fermented in oak barrels, and visitors can opt to drink the finished product as it was served in the 1850s: The cask ale is served at room temperature and is lightly carbonated.
The process to brew a barrel takes 12 to 15 hours, rather than the average six hours at a modern brewery. “The modern brewer doesn’t need to lug wood to make a fire using hot coals to fire the kettle in the morning,” Brock said.
Carillon Brewing — which opened in late August 2014 and served its first house-brewed beer in December — is the only fully licensed production brewery at a park and the only historical brewer in the United States. Brock hopes it will help it become a tourist destination for such visitors as UD alumni visiting campus.
“We hope to draw people to come see us, but also to see other Dayton breweries,” she said. “History really is repeating itself here, and this is a rare opportunity to really see that in action.”
And it’s an important history at that: “What would Dayton be today if all these breweries hadn’t opened and provided a healthy, safe drink?” she asked. “If you don’t have anything to drink, you can’t birth babies who grow up to invent the airplane.”
WHAT’S OLD IS NEW AGAIN
Warped Wing Brewing Co. started with a handshake at Flanagan’s, located on Stewart Street a block from UD’s campus. Well, that or with the Wright brothers imitating the shape of birds’ wings for their flying machines, an innovation that made controlled flight possible.
Nick Bowman ’02, co-founder and head of sales and marketing at Warped Wing, moved back to Dayton after an 11-year career with Anheuser-Busch — where he worked in a variety of positions in Indianapolis, Chicago, Denver and the Bloomington, Indiana, area — to join the Warped Wing team.
“While I was in Bloomington, I had taken notice of the craft beer industry, and it was love at first sight,” Bowman said. “I wanted to move home to Dayton and start my own business. My idea was to start a craft beer distribution company. My dad, Bob Bowman ’74, had a 20-plus year career with Allied Wine in Dayton, where he met Joe Waizmann, beer division manager for Allied from 1990 to 1992. Fast forward to 2009, and my dad introduced me to Joe.”
It was a meeting, and that eventual handshake, that changed the trajectory of Bowman’s life.
“Joe listened to my idea and was respectful, but he said, ‘There are four distributors already in the Dayton market. What Dayton really needs is a brewery.’ This instantly piqued my curiosity,” Bowman said. “I started learning everything I could about the craft beer culture and industry. Eventually, we said, ‘Dayton needs a brewery? Let’s do it ourselves. Let’s open a brewpub.’”
He and Waizmann began assembling their team, starting with CPA Mike Stover, and working on a business plan for a full-scale production brewery with a tasting room and self-distribution. “Our business plan was about 90 percent done when John Haggerty, at the time brewmaster at New Holland Brewing Co., decided to come on board,” Bowman said. “That was a game changer.”
The team’s final business plan was completed in spring 2013, and they raised $1.2 million in private equity capital and $500,000 in bank financing in six weeks. In only five months, renovations were made to the brewery’s new home, the former Buckeye Iron & Brass Works Foundry in downtown Dayton, and — boom! — Warped Wing took flight Jan. 18, 2014.
Warped Wing’s ties to Dayton and Ohio history go beyond its namesake: Its flagship brew, Ermal’s Belgian Style Cream Ale, is a nod to Dayton inventor Ermal Fraze, creator of the pop-top can (and sold, appropriately, in pop-top cans.) The artwork for all labels, created by a team in Cincinnati, represents the city and Ohio. “We incorporate a story into every beer,” Bowman said.
The brewery also incorporated reclaimed materials into much of the historical building it occupies — a move typical of the sustainable practices found at many craft breweries. Large, family-style tables once in the library of downtown’s former Patterson Co-op High School dominate the tasting room. Old bourbon barrels are used as bases for other tables, and pews from a church on Brown Street line the space. Railings were salvaged from a former General Motors plant.
The Warped Wing founders love Dayton, and Dayton is loving Warped Wing back. Dayton Business Journal readers voted Warped Wing a “Top 10 brand” 10 months after it opened, and the tasting room often is packed, sometimes with lines out the door for the release of special brews.
“Dayton has been awesome in embracing us and craft beer,” Bowman said. “We put ourselves on the line for this business, and to see the city embrace us so quickly has been one of the greatest things of my career. You can really feel a vibe in the city. People are jazzed.”
FOLLOW THE ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT
Dayton’s modern-day breweries and distilleries are building on another Dayton legacy: innovation.
Craft distillery Belle of Dayton is innovating when it comes to how micro-distilling is done. Co-owner Mike LaSelle ’04 and friend Mike Check ’04 are working to develop different maturing processes.
“This will be a huge innovation coming out of Dayton,” LaSelle said. “We’re looking at creating an advanced form of aging so you can emulate a 20-year-old whiskey in a short period of time with a real barrel-aged taste. This will allow us to experiment and not waste seven years.”
“I started making beer in the kitchen with my brother Murphy,” LaSelle said. “We were trying to make all these different kinds of beers, and one day we realized maybe we were making the wrong product. So we began to study distillation and spent three years taking classes in Kentucky and Chicago and studying the industry. We never knew where it would go. It was just a fun thing to do.
“We were talking one night and said, ‘If you won the lottery, what would you do?’ and we said we’d start a distillery. We like the mystique behind it. And we knew how to distill and had a business background,” said LaSelle, who also works at his family’s retail business and spent five years in Chicago after graduation working in commercial real estate.
Belle of Dayton is also a family business, with Mike, Murphy and brother Tim taking on different roles. The company artisan-distills small batches, 170 gallons at a time, using a small, copper-pot-still hybrid system that allows it to distill different products, including Belle Vodka; a 1775 colonial reserve rum made with Dayton-area molasses; Hell’s Vodka, a pepper-infused liquor; and a four-grain Ohio rye whiskey. The company’s name comes from an old whiskey bottle etched with “Belle of Dayton” unearthed downtown.
“Dayton has a rich history, and we’re bringing it back, one distillery and one brewery at a time,” LaSelle said. “There are only a few micro-distilleries in the United States, so we’re really on the cutting edge, which is cool because the Midwest doesn’t always see things first.”
The work is getting noticed: Belle of Dayton won a 2014 silver medal at the New York World Wine and Spirits competition and slowly is expanding its distribution to nearby markets.
“We’ve had overwhelming support,” LaSelle said. “This is the easiest sales job I’ve ever had. Making small batches of beer in your kitchen is one thing, but being able to make a spirit in a quantity you can share and take pride in — that’s really cool.”
Another example of innovation is distillery Buckeye Vodka, created by business owners impacted by the great recession. Several alumni are among them: Tom Rambasek ’75, Nancy Finke Rambasek ’76 and their daughter, K.C. Rambasek ’01, along with Nancy’s brother, Chris Finke ’82.
“Buckeye Vodka came at a time when the economy had tanked,” Nancy Rambasek said. “Two family-owned-and-operated small businesses, The Finke Co. and Crystal Water Co., saw sales fall drastically, and we knew we had to reinvent our businesses. It was a great risk in 2008 when we started throwing our ideas around, but we think it paid off when we launched our product in April 2011.”
That product combines the raw material of Crystal Water with the distribution power of the Finke Co. into Crystal Spirits, which produces Buckeye Vodka — packaged in red, white and blue bottles to honor the state of Ohio and United States — in a facility near downtown Dayton.
“The Crystal Water Co. was started by a priest, Father Hollenkamp, and his family in 1919,” Rambasek said. “Its key business initially was to supply distilled water to local beer manufacturers. With the onset of prohibition, Father Hollenkamp decided to diversify his business and went into the bottled water business.
“We have come full circle now, providing our steam-distilled water to Buckeye Vodka, which gives the vodka a smoother taste.”
CHEERS TO THAT, MY FRIEND
Neil Chabut ’11, owner and head brewer at Eudora Brewing Co. in Kettering, Ohio, knew he wanted his business to make a positive difference in the world.
“It was at UD where I got the idea to donate to a water charity,” he said. “I took an environmental social work class, and we learned about the global water crisis. I took that knowledge and worked it into my business plan. In brewing, you use a ton of water. It’s the main ingredient in beer, and you also use a lot of water when cleaning.”
Eudora also supports the community in its own backyard. It has a custom brewing setup where people can brew 5 to 10 gallons of beer with friends and family for weddings, birthdays and other special events (or for fun). They even can make their own bottle labels. Eudora customers have brewed more than 900 gallons of beer — the equivalent of more than 10,000 bottles.
“Craft beer and brewing are meant to be shared,” Chabut said. “We want people to learn about how to brew beer and its history. One pleasant surprise about having this business is we get so many regulars, it’s almost like a family. During our first anniversary celebration we had a band, and people in their 80s were dancing alongside those in their 20s. I thought, ‘Where else can you get so many different people together in one place interacting and having fun?’
“Dayton’s hip factor definitely shoots up with the breweries opening,” he added. “It also helps create a sense of community because we have each other. It’s not competitive; it’s collaborative. It’s fun to try all the different breweries. It brings people together.”
A number of Dayton’s breweries partner with each other and pay homage to local businesses and personalities. Toxic has offered brews named after other Oregon District businesses, such as fitness studio Practice Yoga and hair salon Derailed. Fifth Street Brewpub, in the historic neighborhood of St. Anne’s Hill about a 10-minute drive from UD’s campus, is Ohio’s first co-op brewpub. In January, it released the Saphire 1PA, named for longtime UD law professor Richard Saphire. According to the pub, the brew — like the professor — “makes a strong case and demands respect.”
Warped Wing collaborates with other Dayton businesses to create innovative brews. In November 2014, it worked with Esther Price Candies to produce a beer that sold out in three days. Collaborations with downtown businesses Press coffee shop/Wood Burl Coffee Roasters and the Century Bar, named a Top 50 bourbon bar in the United States, also led to some innovative beers.
“It was always part of our business plan to collaborate with other locally owned businesses,” Bowman said. “When you get two small businesses to work together to create a unique product, it’s very communal. The craft beer industry is very collaborative and promotes a community approach.
“We are reinvigorating Dayton pride,” he added. “We want to work with other businesses that are re-urbanizing downtown, the place where the first settlers to Dayton came from Cincinnati. We want to push local pride and get people excited about what Dayton offers.”
EAT YOUR DRINK
Chabut started brewing while an upperclass student at UD, making beer at his Kettering home with his brother and cousin. While living at ArtStreet, he and his roommates decided to focus on culinary arts for a required resident project — demonstrating how to brew a batch of beer. Indeed, craft beer and spirits increasingly are being folded into the local food movement.
“There are a lot of people who are used to the lighter beers and who come to Eudora not expecting to find something they like, but we almost always can find something they enjoy,” said Chabut, whose favorite Eudora brew, Bangarang IPA, placed in the Top 9 in the National Homebrew Competition. “One customer found a lighter beer he liked and now is starting to get into new, more robust beers. I think that’s because of the focus on quality over quantity.”
The growth in the craft beer industry also is attributed to consumers’ pickier palates and driven in part by consumer demand.
“Consumers today have shifted their values about food, and that includes beer,” Tanya Brock said. “They want food that is sourced locally. They demand to know who is making their food and what ingredients are in it. People want to know more, and they are knowledgeable about potentially harmful things going into processed food.”
Small breweries can be responsive to meet consumer demands, she added. And they can source locally: Some of the barley used at Carillon Brewing is grown on the historical farm at Carriage Hill MetroPark, and Brock uses local companies whenever possible.
“At a basic level, the same things that drove the growth in the industry in the 1850s are the same driving it now,” Brock said. “Then, it was to provide a safe, clean drink. Today, it’s to provide safe, clean food.
“And the industry is still bolstering community and providing jobs. It keeps dollars directly in this community.”
Some of the most notable figures in Dayton’s historical brewery scene were John and Michael Schiml, who opened Schiml Brewery in 1852 and first brought from Boston the yeast needed to brew a lager. How does Brock think they would react to today’s beer and spirit bustle?
“They’d be excited at seeing so many proprietors taking advantage of the market and making so many creative products,” she said. “I also think they’d be a little jealous — they’d want to join in.”
Kristen Wicker ’98 lives in downtown Dayton, where she enjoys walking to many of the city’s breweries and other attractions. She is the marketing manager for Five Rivers MetroParks.
A six-pack (plus one) of lessons learned
What Dayton’s most spirited entrepreneurs learned from UD — and what you can apply to your own venture.
Remember the Marianists.
“When I think back to UD, I think about the relationships, the community and the Marianist spirit,” Mike LaSelle ’04 of Belle of Dayton said. “What I learned about relationships and community is one of the most important things I took away.”
Call on your Flyer network.
“We have many friends and relatives who attended the University of Dayton, and they’ve been instrumental in supporting our venture and touting our brand,” said Nancy Rambasek ’76 of Buckeye Vodka.
Support and take pride in your community.
“With UD being a small private school, the students took a lot of pride in the Dayton area and Dayton community. I learned how critical it is to be active in the community,” Nick Bowman ’02 of Warped Wing said. “It’s that same Dayton pride and sense of community that helped shape the identity of Warped Wing.”
Put customers first. All customers.
“During your college life, you realize we’re all really the same,” said Neil Chabut ’11 of
Eudora Brewing, who as a first-year student lived on the international floor at Stuart Hall. “I’ve applied that to my customer service philosophy: Everybody who walks through the door will be appreciated.”
Don’t forget that classroom learning.
Shane Juhl ’04 of Toxic said he’s often asked how he went from being a materials engineer to “slinging grain.” “Half of brewing is chemistry, and half, with the equipment used, is engineering,” he said. “And being a researcher in general has helped with my understanding of the process of brewing beer.”
Accept that we can’t all win all the time.
“I’ve learned you can’t do everything,” LaSelle said. “You have to focus. Put people in charge of things and trust them to do the job.”
Follow your passion.
“I’m extremely lucky to have the opportunity to do this work,” Chabut said. “It combines my passion of brewing with my passion for people, giving back and doing good — and I have UD to thank for a lot of that.”
Breweries and distilleries in the Dayton area:
By making uncommon connections, we’re building a better way of learning.
As a sophomore, Nichole Henger ’14 was looking to add something different. She was majoring in environmental biology, the field in which she holds her bachelor’s degree. “I was working with blowflies,” she said. “But I was also interested in how people interacted with the environment.”
She learned of a relatively new minor called Sustainability, Energy and the Environment (SEE). “It sounded cool.”
“Cool” is an appropriate description of several of the University of Dayton’s curricular initiatives, the largest of which is the Common Academic Program (CAP), the University’s new undergraduate general education program.
“The spirit of CAP,” said Bob Brecha, coordinator of SEE and professor of physics, “is that it forces students — and faculty members — to wrestle with ideas from different perspectives.”
That can be as traditional as first-year students comparing Aquinas and Aristotle, as contemporary as looking at Bob Dylan’s lyrics through the lens of gender studies or as personal as a psych major taking an art course that makes him look at things differently — so his rap group can really make a difference.
Faculty members for years have been encouraging students to look at the world from different perspectives, but the scope of that approach throughout the new required curricula is extensive and the emphasis on it is clear and well thought-out. Nearly a decade ago, the Academic Senate — after numerous campus conversations — wrote and approved Habits of Inquiry and Reflection, a document analyzing the purposes of a Marianist education at UD and delineating specific outcomes. Since then the University of Dayton faculty has been working on the means of delivering those outcomes. The class of students entering in fall 2013 was the first to follow the CAP requirements.
“CAP makes more explicit what had been implicit — outcomes, connections between disciplines, pedagogy, ways of knowing,” said Juan Santamarina, chair of the history department and chair of the Common Academic Program Committee.
During the program’s development, administrators half-joked that they should change the name to “Uncommon” Academic Program for the way it integrates disciplines and Marianist-inspired learning outcomes in a way that is uniquely UD. The categories of outcomes for CAP include scholarship, faith traditions, diversity, community, practical wisdom, critical evaluation of our times and vocation. (See sidebar, right, for descriptions of each.) Some of the requirements sound familiar. The first-year Humanities Commons includes history, religious studies, philosophy and English. And then there are requirements in math, social science, arts and natural science. Less familiar may be requirements labeled “crossing boundaries” or “diversity and social justice.” Requirements for advanced study and a capstone indicate this is not a program to be seen as something to take and get out of the way. CAP is the way.
“Advanced courses build on the previous ones,” English professor R. Alan Kimbrough said of CAP. “It is a developmental model, consistent with the Marianist ideal of educating the whole person. It pays attention to diversity, social justice and the Catholic Intellectual Tradition.”
The outcome of “critical evaluation of our times” clearly has its roots in the admonition of Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, the founder of the Society of Mary, to read the signs of the times. To help accomplish that, Kimbrough said, “CAP gets people to make connections among the things they are studying.”
Making connections runs throughout the SEE minor, most of whose courses fulfill CAP requirements, not only science, ethics and diversity but also advanced philosophy, advanced religious studies and advanced history. Students pursuing the SEE minor can even fulfill their CAP arts requirement by taking English 342, Literature and the Environment.
With CAP, students don’t wait until taking their advanced courses to make connections; they start making connections as soon as they begin classes in their first year. Helping them connect history, religion, philosophy and writing are learning-living communities in which students can interact in and out of the classroom. Some current learning-living communities are designed for specific majors such as teacher education, social science, and science and engineering (for women students in those two areas). Open to all majors are SEE, Building Communities for Social Justice, Business and Marianist Values, Writing and the Arts and Core: Human Values in a Pluralistic Culture.
Core is the grandparent of the other first-year communities; it dates back decades. For first-year students — and throughout its two-and-one-half year curriculum — Core stresses interdisciplinary connections as it analyzes human values in a pluralistic culture. Like all the learning-living communities, the first year of Core is what its director, history professor Bill Trollinger, terms “a CAP delivery system.” And all Core courses fulfill CAP requirements.
Labeled ASI 110-120, the first year of Core is highly integrated and innovative. Students who complete ASI 110 and ASI 120 receive credit for 100-level history, religious studies and philosophy. They also receive credit for English 200H (the 100-level course is waived) and advanced historical study — 15 hours, all told, toward their CAP requirements.
All first-year Core students gather each Tuesday and Thursday morning for a 75-minute lecture by one of the Core faculty members — all of whom are senior faculty and all of whom attend each lecture. The students in the afternoon split into seminar groups for an hour and 50 minutes.
Sophomore Lexi Miles, now helping in the program as a Core Fellow, said of her first year in Core, that the small seminar “allowed us to become very close as fellow academics but also as friends. The way students learn is fun and interesting. I remember one class in particular where we were learning about the Allegory of the Cave.”
When first-year students find it fun to break up into small groups to find ways to illustrate Plato, something interesting is happening.
In their sophomore year, Core students take three individual courses; in their junior year, an ethics capstone course.
Core was the model not only for many of the components of CAP but also for SEE, Brecha said. Core may not be the path for every student. But, CAP committee chair Santamarina said, “It is cool. It’s very cool.”
The approach of Core and subsequent curricular developments not only changes students but changes faculty members. Trollinger has experienced that change. “When I started teaching, I was rigorous,” he said. “I still am.”
But there is a difference. “Then I thought in terms of a bell curve,” he said, on fitting grades for each class into a standard distribution.
Now the emphasis is on student learning. If a student masters the material, Trollinger believes that earns an “A.” “Grade distribution hasn’t changed much,” he said, “but it’s a different way of teaching. If we would have educated citizens at the end of their college days who could and would learn on their own, I’d love that.”
While the requirements of history, religious studies, philosophy and English as well as those in math, social science, arts and natural science are traditional, those called “crossing boundaries” may sound new. But crossing boundaries, interdisciplinary studies, learning at the intersections — whatever it has been called — the concept has been at UD in the past, if not as explicit as it is now.
Crossing Boundaries–Inquiry requires students to take courses outside their division. These are courses, Santamarina explained, “that have been designed for the non-major with CAP outcomes in mind.” So students outside of the School of Business Administration might satisfy the requirement by taking Introduction to Entrepreneurship.
Crossing boundaries is also how Bob Dylan makes it into academia.
English professor John McCombe studied British literature in grad school. He teaches a survey course on it at UD. But he also teaches a class on Bob Dylan.
“I was crossing boundaries before I knew the term,” he said.
The English department for half a century has had a course in the catalog called English 380: Topics in Literature. And McCombe likes Bob Dylan. “I’ve read every book on him,” McCombe said. “Many of them are by academics — in literature, theology, communications, gender studies — so I thought a course on academic writing on his work would work.”
Then along came CAP with its emphasis on learning how to see something from the perspectives of several disciplines. “Born a Jew, Dylan converted to Christianity in the late 1970s, moving from being a counter-cultural icon to fundamentalism. And his early songs have numerous biblical references. So religious studies scholars were interested in him,” McCombe said. “Dylan’s connection to the civil rights movement of the 1960s interests social scientists. Songs with misogynist lyrics interest those in gender studies. In English, he’s not technically a poet, but his lyrics have meaning to people in the same way that poetry does.”
The approach works for other performers, too. “In 1964, the Ed Sullivan Show on which the Beatles appeared had 74 million viewers. The phenomenon interests scholars in communications, sociology, cultural history,”
McCombe said. “And people realizing that they could make big money selling music to young people sparked the interest of business scholars.”
Like the new class on Dylan, a SEE course in sustainability research also fulfills the Crossing Boundaries–Integrative requirement. Doing the research, working with a group, preparing a presentation — “It’s like a minor thesis. It gets you ready for graduate school,” said Henger, who is now in Syracuse, New York, in the Forestry and Natural Resource Management Program at the State
University of New York College of Environmental Science.
Electronic waste was the subject of Henger’s UD research group. “Everybody has
a phone,” she said. “What happens when you’re done with it?”
They found out. And it wasn’t pretty: Third World children sorting out electronic waste in toxic dumps. So, Henger said, “we tried to change behavior.” For Sustainability Week, they educated others on the hazards of electronic waste and publicized the electronic waste bins on campus.
Nearing the end of her first year of graduate school, Henger is thinking of what her master’s thesis might be. She also is thinking of the future beyond that. Her program is normally two years, but she’s looking at combining her science degree with a master’s in public administration. By connecting disciplines and looking at the world from different perspectives while at UD, she said, “I realized the role politics played in dealing with the environment. It was often more than research.”
A Dayton education gets one ready for more than grad school.
Thomas M. Columbus has been writing about UD and curriculum since before the students now enrolled in the Common Academic Program were born. In his youth, he was educated with a little Latin and less Greek and a lot of English (with substantial doses of history, philosophy and theology). If he were starting now as a UD student, he thinks he’d choose Core.
Values and skills necessary for learning, living, and working in communities of support and challenge.
Intellectually informed, appreciative and critical understanding of the cultures, histories, times and places of multiple others, as marked by class, race, gender, ethnicity, religion, nationality, sexual orientation and other manifestations of difference.
Ability to engage in intellectually informed, appreciative and critical inquiry regarding major faith traditions.
Advanced habits of academic inquiry and creativity through the production of a body of artistic, scholarly or community-based work intended for public presentation and defense.
Addressing real human problems and deep human needs.
Articulate reflectively the purposes of their life and proposed work through the language of vocation.
CRITICAL EVALUATION OF OUR TIMES
Habits of inquiry and reflection, informed by familiarity with Catholic Social Teaching.
By the numbers
Components to CAP (first-year humanities, second-year writing, oral communication, mathematics, social sciences, arts, natural science, crossing boundaries, capstone, advanced religious studies, advanced philosophy, advanced history, and diversity and social justice)
Learning outcomes for CAP (scholarship, faith traditions, diversity, community, practical wisdom, critical evaluation of
our times, vocation)
Subjects in the first-year humanities component (religious studies, philosophy, history, writing)
Courses in the crossing boundaries component (faith traditions, practical ethical action, inquiry and integrative)
Courses in the natural science component
Capstone, a course or experience in the student’s major
Read more about CAP requirements HERE.
Is this art?
James McLean ’16 took the course Drawing Through Process because he needed an art class, something required both under CAP and the general education system preceding it.
He didn’t expect what he got.
“I thought the class would be about learning how to plot out, outline and shade basic sketches,” he said. But in the first class, professor Jeffrey Jones disabused him of that idea. Jones took out a dictionary and read definitions of the word “draw.” There were more than a dozen. “Most had nothing to do with art,” McLean said. “Draw a bath. Draw a conclusion. Draw somebody in.”
Jones also took a big piece of paper, McLean recalled, put it on the floor, dragged a stool across it, leaving marks, then asked the class, “Is this art?”
The class was mostly art majors; McLean at first thought they had an advantage. Assignments for the class were called problems. “For the first, which was supposed to make us feel uncomfortable,” McLean said, “we were told to trace something in the CPC [now Fitz Hall]. I asked, ‘Should we take a piece of paper and trace over something in the building?’ Mr. Jeff just shrugged.” (Jones asked the class to call him “Jeff.” Since McLean was somewhat uneasy with that familiarity, he settled on “Mr. Jeff.”)
McLean walked the building’s hallways, looking for something. After a while, he looked up and saw pipes in the ceiling. “I realized,” he said, “I could ‘trace’ the water lines back to their source.” He put pen to paper and kept looking up as the pen made its marks. He did so for about a dozen trips.
“I wondered if I needed to add anything else to my rough idea,” he said.
As time for the presentation approached, the art students polished their projects. And their presentations were, McLean said, “of cool ideas. My turn came. I was intimidated, knowing the talent of the others. I took out my 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper and tacked it up. People squeezed forward to look at it. I explained I was uncomfortable by letting my core solution of the problem stand by itself instead of trying to embellish it to make it look like an art student made it.”
Mr. Jeff applauded the solution to the problem, a solution that lay in the process not the product, and pointed out, McLean said, “I had an advantage over the other students, since I was not trained to see the finished product.”
McLean used his advantage as the term progressed; the art students learned from his perspective; and he, from theirs, deeply impressed with their skill and techniques. “This was more of a thinking class,” he said, “than a typical art class. Anyone from any major could do well if they were willing to use their talents to think outside the box.”
“My talent is in music,” McLean said. “That’s how I can help people. Mr. Jeff showed us that everybody is trying to come in the front door, so we should try the back door.”
The back door for his group, Black Epoch (see blackepoch.com), McLean said, “is combining inspiring and positive messages over powerful and energetic instrumentals. It is a different breed of rap music.” The approach also involves working with people who come with a different perspective; Black Epoch has performed and recorded with the student band The Leap Years, whose sound, McLean said, is like Maroon 5 mixed with Mumford and Sons.
Academically, McLean, a psychology major, is currently team leader on a student research group conducting experiments about change blindness. A classic experiment in that field has people watch a video of people tossing an object back and forth. They are told to pay attention to the tosses. When asked afterward about what they saw, many do not remember that, running around in the video, was a man in a gorilla suit.
McLean will be among the UD graduates who will not miss noticing the guys in the gorilla suits.
Pete Ogonek ’16 is paddling toward Rio. Catch him if you can.
C’est en faisant n’importe quoi qu’on devient n’importe qui.
“It is by doing anything that we become anyone.”
Pete Ogonek has this famous French prankster’s words tattooed on his inner right bicep. He’s a civil engineering major, a rower with only four years’ experience; and he’s training alongside veterans of 15 years or more. And while, like Gaillard, Ogonek loves a good joke, this is no joke — Ogonek won’t stop training until he’s passing the top athletes in the world.
By rowing like an Olympian, he could become an Olympian.
Growing up, Ogonek had other aspirations. When he was young, he was half of his family’s two-man fix-it team with his dad in Cleveland. He was an athlete at Westlake High School and mowed grass to earn money — one of many jobs. He thrived on the challenges of track, cross-country, remodeling a bathroom and taming lawns. College came with a desire for something new, and with some coaxing from his Stuart Hall resident assistant and rower Nick Ritter ’15, Ogonek ran (or rowed) with the opportunity.
“There is something beautiful about a boat, be it two, four or eight rowers, moving in unison,” he said, “the quick splash at the catch, creak of the oars swinging through, and the resounding thud as all oars come through and release the boat,
letting it glide underneath your seat, moving gracefully up to the next stroke.”
He remembers himself as the gangly freshman, a former runner trying out the rowing machine for the first time in 2011. He and several other rookies received their first 20-minute crash course at UD’s Outdoor Engagement Center, awkwardly pushing and pulling on the foreign contraptions. After just two weeks, they were on the river.
“We rowed in unison — well, you could barely call it unison — but we were doing it,” he laughed. “I could tell how much the sport depended on everyone’s coordination. The biggest challenge was getting the team aspect of it. Cross-country and track were more individual efforts, but in rowing, you’re only as strong as your weakest member.”
Although Ogonek didn’t have the ideal body type and had not picked up an oar before 2011, he’s now a senior, with strong back and quad muscles, his body further defined by tattoos adorning his arms and torso. However, he said physicality only plays a small part. It’s more about dedication. All he needed was a way to apply it.
He picked up the technicalities quickly, using his legs to propel the boat and using his back and arms to continue the momentum. “You learn the first 90 percent of rowing in the first three months and the rest of your life learning the last 10 percent,” he said.
Ogonek’s 90 percent was monumental.
Freshman year, he broke UD’s novice record for the 2k distance with a time of 6:39.
Sophomore year, he placed in the top three lightweight records for the 2k with a time of 6:28 and the 6k with a time of 21:07.
At Dayton, Ogonek’s 90 percent beat the odds.
Dayton is no Ivy League rowing powerhouse — no top-of-the-line facilities and cutting-edge boats. Students aren’t offered scholarships and don’t always commit to the club team for four years. While some elite rowers spent their college practices in indoor rowing tanks that simulate rowing on the water, Ogonek used a rowing machine outside under a tent. However, UD head club coach Marty Carrabine said Ogonek earned his resilience during 9 p.m. practices rowing on the river in the dark.
“There was a lot to overcome at Dayton, so whatever you could throw at him now is going to look mild,” Carrabine said. “If you want him to row in the rain or in the pitch black, it will be a walk in the park. He didn’t have the best [equipment or facilities] he could’ve had, but true athletes will shine no matter where they come from.”
Dayton gave Ogonek the opportunity to shine. It gave him the challenge he was looking for. When he bought a single boat after his sophomore year and began training individually on the river, Carrabine knew it wouldn’t be long before Ogonek advanced.
“Pete was internally motivated and driven to get better — the sport was more of his obsession,” Carrabine said. “We wish he would’ve stayed, but there was no surprise.”
Junior year, he broke the lightweight record, 6:18 in the 2k and 20:30 in the 6k.
Ogonek continued to perfect his 10 percent during his individual training, increasing in speed and fitness in preparation for the next level.
In February 2014, he was amassing on his desk applications for elite summer rowing clubs. He gained acceptance to Vesper Boat Club in Philadelphia and a few months of training in its program. The summer served as a trial period, where coaches judged his abilities and decided whether to extend an invitation to join their club.
Vesper said yes, and the opportunity to focus on rowing also provided him an opportunity to focus on engineering. Knowing he’d be training in Philadelphia for a year, he secured a one-year internship with Langan, a civil engineering firm.
The move to Philadelphia put him in good rowing company.
Established in 1865 along the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia, Vesper Boat Club was named the 2014 USRowing Club of the Year among 1,200 eligible organizations across the country. Vesper produced Olympic and national team coach Allen Rosenberg; it’s the only U.S. club with three Olympics rowing regatta gold medals for the eight-oared shell (1900, 1904, 1964); and two of its members medaled in the 2014 World Championships.
Vesper is a three-story house with three steeply pitched roofs over three garage doors that open onto the river. The history and prestige of the building itself helped draw Ogonek in.
For example, the first sight through the front door is a banner from an early 1900s World’s Fair, where Vesper earned a championship with its eight-man boat.
The first floor houses “the glorified garage” where Ogonek pulls out his boat for the day. He admires accomplishments from years past in the second-floor trophy room next to the kitchen. He changes clothes and prepares for practice in the third-floor locker rooms. Vesper is a “welcome home” to all lovers of the sport, not just for the elite. It’s for children taking lessons, for community members getting some exercise, and for older rowers — the masters. This is Ogonek’s home for at least four hours per day.
Mornings are for long-distance exercises when Ogonek covers anywhere from 15 to 25 kilometers in a single session. Evenings are for lifting, cross training and focusing on technique, which could mean another 15 to 20 kilometers of rowing, totaling a potential distance of more than
25 miles a day. If the river isn’t iced over, Ogonek rows on the water year round — he actually prefers it that way. As an Ohio native, he’s rarely fazed by the cold.
At Vesper, Ogonek learns from coaches who have been where he wants to be. John Parker was a 1992 Olympian in the final eight-man boat competition in Barcelona, Spain. He advises each rower with a general plan that can be adjusted to increase strides and push aerobic and anaerobic capacities, as well as ensure proper recovery. Former Marist College coach Sean Clarke provides individual feedback and pointers while riding alongside Ogonek and the other rowers, advising on technique and how the boat should feel to them.
The coaches test rowers for physical fitness, ergonomics and physicality. Ogonek has already surpassed the standard, and Clarke credits Ogonek’s success thus far to his power, endurance and inquisitive nature.
“He is very talented physically, which is what most rowers need,” he said. “But sometimes it’s more technical, and we’re working on that — he’s not too proud to ask questions.”
Ogonek sees the coach-athlete relationship in approaching a problem as a gradual process. When he senses something unusual in his form or technique, he first has to identify the problem. He will go to Clarke for assistance, and they work through the problem together to find a solution. Ogonek will then implement the solution until he can display the proper form without thinking.
Said Clarke, “He’s always looking for the next edge, and he’s patient enough to find it.”
Perhaps Ogonek’s edge is connected to his day job. In the eight hours between practices, Ogonek works for his internship at Langan as part of a team focused on stormwater drainage, traffic flow around proposed construction sites and cleaning up old industrial sites.
“I bring the engineering aspect into rowing,” he said. “It affects my thought process in considering how to make each part of my training the most beneficial for my body and get the most out of it that I can.”
Each time he gets in the boat or on the rowing machine, he begins with a drill that segments each part of the stroke and progresses into the complete form. He starts pushing with his legs, arms extended, and continues into a fluid stroke. From there, he applies more and more pressure as he assesses the balance and feeling of the water, adjusting his form to achieve maximum efficiency.
When rowing indoors, Ogonek observes his power curve on a screen that displays the amount of force he’s applied over time. The goal: to get the biggest space under your curve, meaning a farther distance per stroke. Ogonek said this isn’t achieved by applying more pressure but by adjusting technique to move the farthest distance using the least amount of effort. When rowing outdoors, he can observe the whirlpools made by his oars in the water as he strokes. The larger the space between the whirlpools, the more distance he’s gaining per stroke.
JP Kirkegaard, Ogonek’s teammate and close friend from Vesper, said Ogonek mentally goes above and beyond his training and pushes others to be their best, too.
“Pete likes to study the sport a little bit — he’s not just given the training plan and taking it at face value. Not every athlete does that,” he said. And as a rower in the lightweight class and one of the newer rowers at Vesper, Kirkegaard said of Ogonek, “Pete has no problem going toe to toe with guys who have been here for a while and nipping at their heels.”
In the Olympics, rowers can compete in single, double, quadruple or eight-man boats. Ogonek has experience rowing in each boat, though he has spent most of his recent training in singles and doubles.
A single boat is delicate and solitary, while a double boat requires cooperation. Although he and his doubles partner may row differently, they essentially must become the same person in the boat.
“Something striking about the elite level is that nothing should stand out in good rowing,” Ogonek said. “You link every part of your body with very smooth, continuous motions. Most people are composed once they get to this level, but you can’t see how much they’re pushing their bodies to the very end.
“The toughest part is the mental and physical stress we all encounter each day. We all have long-term goals we’re getting to on a day-to-day basis. Looking at the big picture can be overwhelming, and sometimes it’s just minute by minute that you’re able to push through.”
Minute by minute — that’s how Ogonek approaches his training and his day-to-day schedule to keep him on track. He’s focused on adapting to the training level and continuously improving his 10 percent to be properly prepared for this time next year. The hope is that in 12 months, Ogonek will be sitting on the horizon of Olympic trials for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“There’s been such a transition from where I was to now, but the transition to where I need to be is still huge,” he said. “There’s a learning curve to that kind of racing. You need mental toughness and more experience in racing. It’s an ongoing thing. I plan to take it as it comes.”
Olympic trials are nothing to take lightly. Ogonek hopes to earn a spot in the four-person boat through identification camps or a camp in Oklahoma City. He may have the chance to visit Oklahoma City’s facilities for a few weeks to train while the coaches observe his performance. From there, the coaches choose who will represent the country in the Olympics.
“[Reaching the Olympics] would definitely be a humbling experience, racing against the fastest people in the world,” he said.
Clarke will provide the proper direction, but he emphasized that Ogonek’s success depends on him alone. Even though a common challenge and a big risk for young rowers is putting their college and professional careers on hold, pursuing a sport without pay, traveling and paying out of their own pockets, Clarke said the experience is life changing, and he’s never found someone who’s regretted the move to the elite level.
“Pete is here on his own accord; he’s here to make the national team, and I’m here to help,” he said. “He knows I don’t worry about things like discipline, he doesn’t have to worry about making me angry or letting me down. … He only has himself to let down. We’re just very focused on getting him faster and reaching the goals he wants to achieve. As long as he keeps his focus, he’s going to be fine.”
This prospective Olympian has been four years in the making, and while Olympic trials are in sight, Ogonek will soon return to where it all began. After he completes his internship, he plans to move back to campus for his final two semesters and resume individual training. He will possibly train with Dayton’s team again, in the family atmosphere that gave birth to his ambitions, in the dark, on the river — rowing, learning and growing.
Good luck, Pete, your UD family is rooting for you.
Erin Callahan ’15 is a senior journalism major. She writes, “Though I normally stick to land sports, Pete’s story was incredibly inspiring. You can bet I’ll be looking for his boat in Rio next summer.”
Over and over time
The 24 hours of Pete Ogonek
4:50 Wake up, take heart rate and determine recovery score from the night’s sleep.
5 Pack for the day — afternoon practice clothes, business casual work clothes, and breakfast, lunch and snacks.
5:30 Have a cup of coffee, take supplements with fruit and water, leave for practice.
5:50 Arrive at boathouse, stretch, review practice drills.
6 Practice and post-practice stretching. Anywhere from 15 to 25 kilometers of rowing.
8:20 Shower, get dressed, bike to work.
8:30 Arrive at work, eat a real breakfast, start the workday.
5:15 Return to the boathouse for evening practice. Change, stretch and prepare.
5:30 Practice — either a lift and cross training or a long “steady-state recovery” row. Work on technique and get low-intensity distances in. Anywhere from 15 to 20 kilometers of rowing.
7:45 Arrive home. Shower, cook and eat dinner.
8 Log workouts for the day — how I was feeling, what I worked on, today’s speed.
8:10 Prep for the next day. Cook lunch, get work clothes ready, do dishes.
9 Free time. Read a book, do technique research, listen to music, stretch more if needed.
10ish Bedtime — I need at least 7 hours of sleep to function.
Rowing and your muscles
Arms are straight; head is neutral; shoulders are level and not hunched.
Upper body is leaning forward from the hips with the shoulders in front of the hips. Shins are vertical or as close to vertical as is comfortable. Shins should not move beyond perpendicular.
Heels may lift as needed.
Start the drive by pressing with the legs, then swing the back through the vertical position before finally adding the arm pull. Hands move in a straight line to and from the flywheel. Shoulders remain low and relaxed.
Upper body is leaning back slightly, using good support from the core muscles. Legs are extended and handle is held lightly below ribs. Shoulders should be low with wrists and grip relaxed. Wrists should be flat.
Arms extend until they straighten before leaning from the hips toward the flywheel. Once hands have cleared the knees, allow knees to bend and gradually slide the seat forward on the monorail. Return to the catch position with shoulders relaxed and shins vertical.