This spring, Father Jim Fitz, S.M. ’68, and I carefully climbed up temporary steel stairs and entered the highest point of the Immaculate Conception Chapel just above the old choir loft.
We stood on the scaffolding and admired a vintage circular stained-glass window, uncovered during the renovation and now restored to its original beauty.
I was struck by its clarity, elegance — and undeniable symbolism. As our University adapts and changes for the future, we strongly value continuity and tradition. Those seemingly contradictory traits have always defined the Catholic, Marianist philosophy of education.
Nearly every week during the past two years, Father Jim, vice president for mission and rector, has met with the chapel renovation committee to consider every detail behind the chapel’s first complete renovation since it was constructed in 1869.
This dedicated group was guided by a vision and a set of unwavering principles.
We would preserve the historic exterior and much of the chapel’s sacred art while improving the interior to meet contemporary liturgical norms. We wanted to bring back the warm colors, wooden pews, artistic touches and the simple elegance that have defined the chapel’s identity throughout history. And we needed to add practical enhancements, such as accessible entrances and parking, restrooms, a reconciliation room, a reservation chapel for private prayer, a bride’s room and new devotional areas.
The chapel’s western façade and the towering iconic blue dome — a touchstone for generations of students, alumni, faculty and staff — have been repaired and preserved. The hand-carved woodcuts of Mary and the four evangelists from the former pulpit will be incorporated into the baptismal font. The statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary will continue to be featured in a prominent position behind the altar, flanked by the 1876 statues of St. John and St. Joseph.
Some stained-glass windows will be restored. The new ones will feature 10 medallions, each depicting an image of Mary from the Scriptures. Marianist artist Gary Marcinowski is designing and building the liturgical furnishings — the altar, ambo and presider’s chair. The overhead lighting will be reminiscent of the chapel’s first lights.
When students and faculty return to campus in August, they will enter the chapel’s bold wooden front doors into a new gathering space that reflects our deep sense of hospitality, our commitment to community.
I invite our alumni and friends, many of whom supported the renovation, to join us later this summer for worship after the chapel reopens.
Every great Catholic university needs a sacred space in the heart of its campus. This long-overdue renovation goes beyond bricks and mortar to the heart of our identity.
We are — and will always be — a community of faith.
The chapel is on schedule to be completed by the Aug. 16 grand reopening. Here’s a list of events:
• The first Mass, grand opening and rededication will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16. This is an invitation-only event, but a video will be available immediately after the service for public viewing.
• Daily midday Masses will resume Monday, Aug. 17, with start times at 12:30 p.m. each day. The public is welcome to attend.
• Faculty and staff can tour the chapel immediately following the 9 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 19, prayer service for the new academic year.
• Sunday, Aug. 30 will be the first weekend with a full schedule of Masses. A prayerful recognition of the rededication will take place at each Mass that day, as well as receptions with the student body.
Details on the renovations are at go.udayton.edu/chapel. Read the autumn UD Magazine for a detailed look inside.No Comments
BOOK BY SYLVIA LAVEY ’78
Sylvia Lavey ’78 has written four books thus far. The first three share her personal experiences with angels; her latest takes her back to campus. A work of religious fiction, “Striving to Know” focuses on resolve, personal growth and how strong friendships can help you achieve goals. “It’s a story about four students in their first semester at college,” Lavey said. “Each faces challenges to their spiritual beliefs, and each becomes preoccupied with events and situations that take place in their lives.”No Comments
Book by BRIAN RUTISHAUSER ’90
A tenured history professor at Fresno City College in California, Brian Rutishauser ’90 credits his love of ancient history to his UD mentor, former professor of history Bruce Hitchner. “This book — an economic study of a group of islands off the coast of Greece — is based on my dissertation and is one of the few books that studies the Cyclades during that time period,” he said. While the Cyclades are now primarily a tourist destination, they held an important strategic role during ancient times, Rutishauser said.
Answering questions in this issue is Matt Dunn ’91, executive director of the Montgomery County (Ohio) Arts and Cultural District, whose volunteer work includes serving on the national leadership council for the Marianist laity. Questions not appearing in the print edition are listed first.
How has your experience as a Lay Marianist influenced both your career (not only the “what you do” but also the “how you do it”) and your involvement with the Marianists at the national level?
—AMY D. LOPEZ-MATTHEWS ’86, DAYTON
My professional life and volunteer commitments have always been geared toward service and making the world a better place. My commitment as a lay Marianist has guided, affirmed, and reinforced the choices I have made professionally and within the Marianist Family. As a Marianist lay person, I believe the way I live my life should be a model of the new evangelization, where the way I live my life is itself a mission. I also believe we all have gifts to share. I share mine through volunteerism and working to strengthen the Marianist Family in circles beyond my own local community. At the national and international levels we say we are a community of communities. So I always keep in mind that I’m part of something bigger. The idea of individual gifts is also present to me in everyday relationships. One aspect of the Marianists is mixed composition and discipleship of equals. We are a family of sisters, brothers, priests, and lay people. We are all equals and each have something to contribute in our own way. I take that into the workplace and other settings remembering that everyone has a voice, everyone has value, everyone has their own unique way of contributing to a combined effort.
What influence has family had on your aspiration and commitment to be part of the Marianist community?
—LINDA C. LOPEZ ’81, KETTERING, OHIO
The family spirit that so many experience at UD is a hallmark of the Marianist charism. What I have found in the Marianist Family, even beyond UD, is people who care for one another, challenge one another, support one another, pray together, share meals together, and celebrate with one another. The Marianist Family really is a family. Even when we don’t agree, we still love each other and realize we are all on this journey together. If anything, I think the Marianist sense of family and community has helped in my own relationships with family and friends!
What are the gifts that lay Marianists bring to the larger Church today?
—MARY HARVAN GORGETTE ’81, PARIS
The Marianist charism is a wonderful gift to the church. In some ways it’s what keeps me Catholic. The charism is manifested in our experience of Mary, community, faith, inclusiveness/hospitality, and mission. The Marianist family is a place of welcome where priests, brothers, sisters, and laity are equals, although each has their role. The church needs to be a place where all are welcome and valued. The idea of community reminds us that we are part of something larger than ourselves. Church is more than what we do on Sunday. As a faith community Marianists understand this. Pope Francis has said we need to be a more Marian church. We are blessed to model our lives after Mary, not as someone on a pedestal to be worshiped, but as a model of courage, strength, and willingness to say “yes” to God’s call in our lives. Because laity “live in the world” we have a unique opportunity to bear Christ to the world by how we live on a daily a basis. We evangelize by how we live our lives. I’ve often heard people say they feel more Marianist than Catholic. The reality is that by being Marianist, they are being Catholic. To me that’s the real gift to the Church.
Volunteering at the national level with the Marianists must take quite a bit of your personal time. What motivates you to continue at that level?
—AMY D. LOPEZ-MATTHEWS ’86, DAYTON
I volunteer with the Marianist Lay Network and other Marianist entities because I believe in what the Marianist Family has to offer the church and world. Our charism is a gift. I also believe in the notion that we are each part of something larger than ourselves. While I’m involved locally, I also feel an obligation to support our effort as a community of communities, across the country and around the world. I’m particularly motivated because my involvement allows me, as a lay person, to make a difference in the world at a time when religious vocations have decreased. It allows me to live my baptismal call and honors the fact that we are all called to share in the priesthood of Christ.
How can lay people live out the Marianist charism through their day to day lives as working professionals?
—STEPHEN MACKELL ’13, DAYTON
Many people can cite such elements of the Marianist charism as community, faith, mission, Mary, inclusivity, etc. We don’t often think of a Marianist spirituality. As a Marianist lay person, I believe the way we live our lives should be a model of the new evangelization, whereby the way we live our lives is a form of mission. As a lay person we may not use religious language in everyday life but we can live Father Chaminade’s “System of Virtues” in order to be more Christ-like. In many ways, these are realized when we take a step back from a situation, when we hold our tongues when we’d otherwise lash out or criticize, when we don’t make assumptions or let our imaginations get the best of us, etc. We replace bad habits with good habits. I also believe we all have gifts to share. It is important to recognize the gifts of others and encourage them to use their gifts. Believing in and participating in teamwork and collaboration and respecting the voice of others is another way to live the charism. Being open to the unexpected, as Mary was, is a way to grow and to pursue something we might not otherwise have considered. Organizationally, I believe Father Chaminade’s use of the three-office structure (education, spirituality, temporalities) can be applied in a workplace. Some people are good with ideas and vision. Some are good with implementation, numbers, and details. Others are good at connecting the dots, shaping conversations, and making sure everyone’s on the same page. Some have specific knowledge or skills to apply to a task or situation. Forming teams that encompass each can serve to maximize the team’s potential. So there are practical and spiritual ways we can live the charism on a daily basis.
What has been the greatest gift of the Marianist charism for your own journey of faith?
—BRIAN HALDERMAN ’99, SAN ANTONIO
The greatest gift of the Marianist charism for my own faith journey has been that of welcome/hospitality/inclusivity/family. I’ve had a very personal relationship with God, Jesus, and Mary since my childhood. I’ve been active in the Church and in parish life, including being employed by the Church. I considered the priesthood. More than once, however, I’ve thought about leaving the Church because I felt the Church didn’t want me. I’ve never experienced that within the Marianist Family. It is because of the Marianists that I remain Catholic today.
What does it take to become a Lay Marianist? Is it like being an Associate as some other orders like the Franciscans or Benedictines have? Does it take a long time? Do you have to say special prayers? Would I know one on the street? Does one have to be part of a local community? Where do I go to find out more?
—SUSAN VOGT ’69, COVINGTON, KENTUCKY
There are many points of entry into the Marianist Family. Yet most lay formation has been through programs administered by the Society of Mary, including those at the universities. Though the lay branch has seen a resurgence in the last couple decades — and in 2006 received canonical status from the Vatican — it has been slow to adopt internationally accepted standards for what it takes to become a lay Marianist or to live as a lay Marianist. However, as an association of the faithful, recognized by the Vatican, official status is dependent upon being listed in a country’s national lay directory, and subsequently the international directory. So, membership in MLNNA is critical for Marianist Lay Communities and those who identify as lay Marianists. MLNNA leadership, along with their counterparts around the world, are currently working to establish common guidelines and expectations for becoming and living as a lay Marianist. One can learn more about MLNNA at www.mlnna.org and can also learn about lay formation at www.marianist.com/mlfi.
Of the five elements of the Marianist charism (Faith, Community, Mission, Discipleship of Equals, Mary) which do you find most attractive? What attracted you to become a Lay Marianist?
—SUSAN VOGT ’69, COVINGTON, KENTUCKY
Discipleship of Equals, translated to hospitality, diversity, and inclusion is that sense of family and welcome that most of us feel when we first come into contact with Marianists. I know it’s what drew me. It is a strong element of the charism that makes the Marianists unique in many Church circles. Not every religious organization is built on the idea that priests, brothers, sisters, and laity can be equals in the life of the Church. That element continues to play a role for me today although I think I’ve grown in my understanding and appreciation of community, faith, mission and Mary. I’ve always had a relationship with Mary, but she has played a much larger role in my adult life as I discern and accept the plans that God has for me. We are blessed to have her as a model and we are blessed to have community so that we are not on our journey alone.
Do you have to live around a Marianist university to be a Lay Marianist? (e.g., Dayton, Honolulu, San Antonio)
—MARGE CAVANAUGH ’67, ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA
The three Marianist universities are certainly hubs of Marianist activity. This is largely due to the numbers of vowed religious who have worked at the schools, employees who have become lay Marianists and students who have become lay Marianists. However, lay Marianists exist all over the world. There are many Marianist Lay Communities in cities where there isn’t a vowed Marianist presence. There are even more lay Marianists who are out on their own because we are such a mobile society. Being a mobile and international organization, one of our challenges is to stay connected. Some people contact MLNNA seeking Marianist lay communities in certain parts of the country. Others stay connected by participating in virtual or cyber communities where members share prayers via email, visit one another via video conferencing, and periodically come together for a retreat/reunion. Some people belong to more than one community. They stay connected to one community virtually but they also belong to one whose face to face interaction is more consistent. Lay Marianists are also encouraged to start communities so that we can grow our presence in the world.
The following questions and answers appeared in the University of Dayton Magazine, Summer 2015, vol. 7, no. 4.
Are lay Marianists a branch of the Marianist brothers and priests?
—JIM VOGT ’68, COVINGTON, KY.
Laity are not a branch of the religious. Unlike other religious orders who established associate organizations for lay people, Father Chaminade founded the Marianists by first forming small Christian communities known as sodalities. Religious vocations grew out of the sodalities. The branches of the Marianist Family collaborate but remain autonomous.
Has the lay branch of the Marianist family always been as active as it is today?
—STEPHEN MACKELL ’13, DAYTON
The involvement of laity in the Marianist Family has ebbed and flowed. In the last couple decades, however, a vocation among Marianist laity has grown. In 2006, Marianist Lay Communities, collectively as an international entity, were officially recognized by the Vatican as a private association of faithful, giving the lay branch canonical status in the church. Marianist laity work in their chosen career fields; some work in Marianist institutions. Some have started ministries, such as the Mission of Mary Farm in Dayton.
The Marianists are known for creating inclusive and hospitable communities of faith. How do you help bring this to life as a lay Marianist?
—BRIAN HALDERMAN ’99, SAN ANTONIO
I’d like to think I am inclusive in all aspects of my life — my friends, workplace relationships, volunteer commitments. Within the Marianist Family, I have worked to make communities more welcoming of LGBT people by participating on the LGBT issue team of the Marianist Social Justice Collaborative (MSJC). Additionally, through MSJC and through my involvement in national leadership, I have participated in efforts to bridge intergenerational gaps. Within my Marianist Lay Community, we are diverse in composition. Some of us are single, some are married, some have kids, etc.
What do you do as part of the national leadership council for Marianist laity?
—AMY D. LOPEZ-MATTHEWS ’86, DAYTON
The lay branch is led by the volunteer leadership team of the Marianist Lay Network of North America (MLNNA). MLNNA maintains a directory/database of lay Marianists and Marianist Lay Communities in North America. We hold assemblies that bring people together from across the country. We have a monthly newsletter and use other social media. We help fund ministries such as the Marianist Social Justice Collaborative and the Marianist Lay Formation Initiative. One of my current responsibilities is to lead MLNNA through the process of clarifying how someone becomes a lay Marianist. I also serve on the Marianist Family Council of North America, which consists of representation by all three branches.
Tell us about your experience at the International Marianist Meeting in Peru last summer?
—LAURA LEMING ’87, DAYTON
An international Marianist meeting is like family reunion and like the experience of the Apostles at Pentecost. To be in a place where people don’t speak the same language yet everyone has a common vocabulary is exhilarating and inspiring. The more we are able to gather and share ideas, the more we learn better ways to evangelize, strengthen our small Christian communities and bring Christ to the world.
What’s new from the Marianist Social Justice Collaborative?
—MARY HARVAN GORGETTE ’81, PARIS
Some recent MSJC efforts have been to engage young adults in service projects and immersion experiences in the context of the Marianist charism. MSJC and the Marianist Environmental Education Center will also have materials and suggested actions for individuals and communities to consider when Pope Francis releases his encyclical on the environment. MSJC also recently published a document, Addressing LGBT Issues with Youth, to help Marianist educators create a pastoral, safe and inclusive environment for LGBT students.
What would you like to see develop among Marianist laity?
—JOAN SCHIML ’90, DAYTON
A greater institutional capacity to serve the Marianist Family, church and world. Without sacrificing diversity and flexibility, we could benefit from a more formalized identity. Additionally, with the decreasing numbers of vowed religious, it will take committed lay people to continue Marianist ministries as well as respond to the signs of the times by starting new ones. It is time for lay people to be bold in their aspirations and to begin initiatives without relying on others to tell us how to do it.
For more about the Marianist Lay Network of North America, see www.mlnna.org.
In the last 50 years, Edward Evans’ UD class ring managed to travel 2,900 miles without him. How? He has no idea, but he has it back, thanks to the kindness of a stranger.
Before this winter, the last time he had seen his ring was in the mid-’60s. He sold siding and roofing for Montgomery Ward in Valley Stream on Long Island, New York, where he took off the ring to wash his hands. He went back for it later, but the ring was gone.
Fast forward to this January, when Gina Zappariello-Illescas wrote to UD. She wanted to return a class ring with a green stone and engraved “Edward R. Evans.” She found it in a box while cleaning out her deceased mother-in-law’s garage. “She has no connection to the school, and no one remembers a Mr. Evans,” she wrote.
It took some hunting to find Evans, who came to UD in 1958 but left after two years to join the Army. While at the Army Pictoral Center in New York, Evans learned the film trade. His career in television took him around the world, from the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, Japan, to the D.C. inauguration of George H.W. Bush. He received awards for his coverage of California wildfires and the riots after the Rodney King beating.
Evans now lives in Oxnard, California. The ring — in the box, in the garage — was found five hours north in San Francisco.
“My guess is that someone took it and wore it as their own,” said Zappariello-Illescas, who called Evans to give him the good news. She was happy to mail it to its rightful owner; he was overjoyed to receive it.
“It looks like it’s been worn, not by me; it was almost new when I lost it,” Evans said. “I’ll wear it for a while, look at it, get used to it and tell people about it.”
Even though he and she were unable to decipher the ring’s mysterious road from one coast to the other, it’s still a great story to tell.No Comments
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.No Comments
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.