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.
Brother Raymond L. Fitz, S.M. ’64, former president and current Ferree Professor of Social Justice, answers questions from college presidents (Pestello of Saint Louis, Ploeger of Chaminade and Curran of Dayton), fellow Marianists (one being his brother) and a grad (Keneally) whose career includes being UD student government vice president 1989-90 as well as the 42nd premier of New South Wales, Australia.
Questions and answers not appearing in the magazine are listed first.
Statistics show that global inequality is worsening with 85 people holding more wealth than half the population. What is your view on how to address this and achieve greater equality?
—ANN HUDOCK ’90, WASHINGTON, D.C.
I have a partial answer that has comes from my efforts to address the injustice of poverty. I strongly believe everyone has the right to basics of life – health, education, opportunities to work, etc. In advancing justice it is important to appreciate that all of us have contributed, directly or indirectly, to the injustice and at the same time appreciate that we all have gifts that can contribute to advancing justice. One part of the solution, for me, is educating our community so that all can participate in conversations of public deliberation that advance justice. Without a partnership of solidarity based on love of neighbor that brings together all impacted by poverty there can be no justice.
Is there a connection between your education as an engineer and your work for social justice?
—FATHER CHRIS WITTMANN, S.M. ’83, DAYTON
Father William Ferree, S.M., who wrote The Act of Social Justice, greatly influenced my early formation as a Marianist. To state Ferree’s insight in an overly simple way – “Injustice occurs because the institutions are poorly designed and organized for the common good, i.e., for the flourishing of all people and groups. Advancing justice requires mobilizing people to design and implement a new configuration of institutions so that there is a better realization of the common good.” As engineers we are taught the skills of design; we are not always taught skills of engaging people in the conversations necessary to advance justice.
How did your sense of mission guide you during your tenure as president of UD?
—FATHER MARTY SOLMA, S.M. ’71, ST. LOUIS
I was attracted to the Marianists by their mission of educating leaders. In conversations over the years we developed the phrase “learn, lead and serve,” as shorthand for our mission. I sought to get our UD community excited about educating servant-leaders who integrate knowledge to
advance justice in our society.
How has your work with the Fitz Center influenced your thought on what makes a “complete” professional?
—BROTHER BERNARD J. PLOEGER, S.M. ’71, HONOLULU
I have used the phrase “complete professional” to describe a person with competence in a discipline or professional field, a deep understanding of what it means to be human, and the ability to engage in positive change in society. In recent years we talked about this as “educating for practical wisdom.” I have come to believe that a complete professional must learn to see injustice and work to advance justice, especially in collaboration with those at the margins of society.
What has been the most challenging aspect of leadership for you?
—FRED PESTELLO, ST. LOUIS
It has been to engage people in constructive conversations that moved us toward greater realization of our mission as Catholic
and Marianist. That requires creating opportunities for all to appreciate how our mission was meaningful to our tasks of learning and scholarship. It also requires the skills of listening, of formulating our ideas so others could understand them, and of having the courage to engage different, even conflicting, perspectives to forge a constructive consensus. That was the most challenging — and most fulfilling — aspect of leadership.
What’s it like to be a former president?
—DAN CURRAN, DAYTON
That will be the second-best job you will ever have. As president, I was blessed with an ability to develop consensus around important issues. I used this ability to engage some faculty in exploring the important role of Catholic social teaching in our curriculum and in challenging our community to be concerned about
the youth and our families in our high-poverty neighborhoods. Also, when asked, lend your wisdom to the new president. Expect to work about as hard as you are now; you will just have fewer issues to keep you up at night.
Many students vote in an election for the first time when they are at the University. What advice would you give them?
—KRISTINA KERSCHER KENEALLY ’91, SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA
In working with students, I have been guided by the statement of the American Bishops and Vatican Council’s document Church in the Modern World. As citizens, we have a responsibility to participate thoughtfully in elections and in public life. In the Catholic tradition this participation must be guided by a well-informed and critical conscience. In my own experience and in conversations with students, the options we have in voting are never clear-cut. Each candidate has some strengths and some deficits in promoting the common good. Politics is the art of the possible. I ask students to examine the candidate’s positions on a variety of critical life issues, abortion, poverty reduction, war and peace, etc. and then make a prudential judgment of which candidate has the greater possibility of promoting the common good.
What did you learn from your family that has helped you in your ministry?
—FATHER JAMES FITZ, S.M. ’68, DAYTON
From Dad, I learned “to keep promises and to be resilient.” From Mom, I learned “to see with my heart.” Both of them have shaped my work of advancing justice. There is a picture of Mom and Dad on the wall in front of my desk reminding me to keep faithful to their lessons.
For our next issue, ask your questions of Matt Dunn ’91, who professionally serves as executive director of the Montgomery County (Ohio) Arts and Cultural District and whose volunteer work includes serving on the national leadership council for Marianist laity in the United States. Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.No Comments
In a small walk-in closet tucked behind office space, University Archivist Jennifer Brancato stores some of UD’s oldest — and quirkiest — treasures. Without setting foot in the space, she can tell you which shelf, cabinet or box each artifact calls home. She just wishes she could tell you what they all are.
Take, for example, a 12-by-13-by-17-inch set of wooden risers bearing 39 smiling (albeit photographed) student-athlete faces. Commemorative gift? Planning tool? Child’s toy? Like many other archive items, this one didn’t come with instructions.
“We identify what we can — old photos, concert tickets and other UD material that was either found or donated,” Brancato said. “We keep very detailed records now, but going back several decades, that practice wasn’t as common, and we don’t have any records.”
This set of bleachers included. Emblazoned with the UD seal on either side, each level holds individual wooden figurines with painted-on football uniforms (red jerseys, yellow pants and blue knee-socks) and glued-on headshots. Each player’s name was carefully printed and adhered in front of every figure. According to the Division of Athletics, the model could be an early predecessor to today’s media guide, which includes a roster, photos and brief player biographies.
While its creator is unknown, the players represented on these wooden steps aren’t, representing some of the University’s brightest sports stars: Tony Furst ’40, Larry Knorr ’40, Ralph Niehaus ’39, Jack Padley ’40. Once giants of the Flyer gridiron, all four have since been inducted into the UD Athletic Hall of Fame.
The figurines perched next to the team boasted equally giant reputations (indeed, in this model, they stand nearly three times the size of the players). One is assistant coach Joe Holsinger, and another is Louis Tschudi ’34, also a member of the UD Athletic Hall of Fame. The most recognizable face belongs to Harry Baujan, a.k.a. the “Blonde Beast,” UD football’s legendary coach and College Football Hall of Fame member.
Baujan served as head football coach from 1923 to 1946 and as director of athletics from 1947 to 1964. He is credited with growing the football program from relative obscurity to national prominence, and Baujan Field was named in his honor in 1961. Now home to the men’s and women’s soccer teams, the space hosted the Flyer football squad until the construction of Welcome Stadium in 1974.
Individual honors aside, the 1938 UD football team collectively has a special place in University sports history, as it captured the Buckeye Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship title with a 7-2 record. This would be Baujan’s second, and final, championship title as a head coach; the previous one occurred in 1933 when the Flyers captured the Ohio Athletic Conference title.
Was this model used by Coach Baujan as a more colorful, creative way to manage his team roster? Did a Flyers superfan craft it to celebrate the championship season of ’38? Maybe it was the work of a few football pranksters aiming for a laugh. While its origin may remain buried, the history of UD football — and its legends — hasn’t.
Well played.No Comments
A book by Mary McCulley Umstot ’79.
Despite its classification as a children’s book, Mary McCulley Umstot ’79 describes it as “a nautical book for all ages.” Watercolor illustrations and rhyming lines take readers on a tour aboard Teka III, with Arnold the Anchor as their guide. Umstot found inspiration in her 33 years of boating experience and wanted to teach readers not only what boats are, but what they do. “Children could be around boats all the time, but hopefully this will create a greater appreciation for those
A book by Dan Hobbs ’68.
A behind-the-scenes look at city management, taken from the 44 years Dan Hobbs ’68 spent as a public administrator in 11 jurisdictions, highlight this memoir, written under the pen name Ben Leiter. Vignettes recall memories of murder, drug running, betrayal and scandal. Hobbs described the book as a way to finally “let it all out” after his retirement. “This is the way it really is,” he said. “I hope readers have a greater appreciation for city managers, for the work they do and the pressures they work under. I credit UD with strengthening my sense of social justice.”No Comments
A book by Margaret Zotkiewicz-Dramczyk ’83.
American Originals explores the Polish-American lifestyle with each chapter, including one written by Margaret Zotkiewicz-Dramczyk ’83 outlining the history and culture of Polish polka music through personal interviews and musician testimonies. Zotkiewicz-Dramczyk grew up in north Dayton’s Polish community and later discovered the rich Polish culture in Toledo, Ohio; now, she’s determined to preserve it. “Polish culture and music is much like a folk oral tradition: If someone doesn’t write it down, and the folks who lived it die off, it’s gone.”No Comments
A book by Chris Irvin ’06.
Chris Irvin ’06 has kept his eye on Mexico in the news. When he heard about Mayor Maria Santos Gorrostieta’s death in 2012, the idea for his novel, Federales, began to grow. The fictional story describes a federal agent who is appointed to look after a politician, a character based on Gorrostieta, and her campaign efforts against the Mexican drug cartel. “My aim was to tell a character-driven story that gets at the heart of the struggle in Mexico,” he said. “People can get an understanding of Gorrostieta’s story while also enjoying it as a short novella.”No Comments
Forgive, forget: it’s a choice most of us face throughout our lives. The church teaches on the power of forgiveness; seminars and self-help books have focused on the subject; Google brings up millions of hits. But that’s just the process of learning how to forgive. Alan Demmitt, associate professor in counselor education and human services, wants to know if there’s more to it.
Demmitt discusses the concept in his Integrated Approaches to Clinical Counseling course, geared toward students preparing to become mental health counselors. He’s been conducting his own research for the past two years on how forgiveness, or lack thereof, affects mental health — and our daily lives. Though psychology major Michaela Eames ’15 hasn’t taken his course, she’s taken interest in his research. “This isn’t an area I’ve seen much about, so I find it really interesting,” she said.
While most of us aren’t mental health experts, avoiding a grudge could be as easy as following these steps and considering the questions Demmitt poses through his research.
1. Look beyond the books. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is the reference guide mental health counselors use to diagnose mental illnesses like depression or anxiety. However, there may be additional factors to consider. “Things you won’t see in there are bitterness, resentment or a lack of forgiveness, but there are many people struggling with those issues, and it could lead to depression, anxiety or fractured relationships,” Demmitt said. Taking those negative feelings into account could help individuals pinpoint — and solve — the problem.
2. Consider your values. Whether you practice a religion or not, certain values could influence your approach to forgiveness, Demmitt said. As part of his research, he interviewed a group of 10 clergy of different faiths about how they apply their religious practices to forgiveness. He’s transcribing the results and plans to next interview individuals without a faith tradition. Eames wonders if research could also address one of her observations: “Forgiveness is innate in
everyone, whereas faith is not.”
3. Establish a forgiving spirit. Demmitt devotes a portion of his research to how people prepare for forgiveness. “I’m focusing on what people do to be ready to forgive when a situation arises,” he said. “How do they go about cultivating this sense of forgiveness in their lives?” Eames calls it “stabilized forgiveness”: finding its origin and learning how to keep it going to prevent a grudge from interfering with
4. Keep it up. It’s easier to accomplish something than it is to maintain it, Demmitt said, like losing 5 pounds versus keeping it off. “Are there habits and practices people engage in on a daily or weekly basis to keep a forgiving spirit about them?” his research asks. Like the religious figures Demmitt interviewed, following a certain faith tradition or another moral code can contribute to maintaining the forgiving spirit you establish. While Demmitt has not yet reached a conclusion in his research, Eames contends that addressing the process — and the topic itself — is an important first step in helping people live happier lives.No Comments
Nestled between the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers is a town that some call “America’s most livable city” or “the Steel City.” For 1,880 University of Dayton alumni, this hidden gem and gateway to the Midwest is simply called “home.”
The alumni presence in Pittsburgh has boomed in the last decade due to a resurgence in industry and a rise in job creation. Chris Webb ’95, leader of the city’s alumni community, moved his family there four years ago for a position with U.S. Steel.
“The people in Pittsburgh are great,” he said. “When we moved here, the first thing I did was reach out to the UD alumni community to connect with people, and we were welcomed with open arms.”
One of the unique aspects of the Pittsburgh area is an immeasurable and undefined quality that combines big-city resources with a small-town feel. Similar to the spirit on UD’s campus, community is a big part of the Pittsburgh way of life.
“There’s just something special about UD and the connection you feel with people from UD no matter what year they graduated,” Webb said. “Pittsburgh has a very similar community feel to it, and I think that is attractive to a lot of UD alumni.”
The other common thread that makes UD graduates feel right at home is Pittsburghers’ obsession with their sports teams. Each summer, Webb and the rest of the alumni community organize a trip to take in a Pirates baseball game at PNC Park, one of the nation’s premier ballparks. While cheering for the Black and Gold is fun, the alumni community makes sure to stay true to its Red and Blue roots.
During the basketball team’s Elite Eight run in 2014, Webb said, the alumni community had several watch parties to collectively cheer on the Flyers. It is Pittsburgh’s proximity to one of UD’s biggest rivals, however, that allowed Webb and the rest of the community to start a new annual tradition when the Flyers come to town.
“It started last year, when UD came to town to play Duquesne,” Webb said. “We rented out the Blue Line Grille across the street from the Consol Energy Center, where the game was played, to have a big party for all the alumni in the area and anyone else in town for the game. We had a huge turnout because we put our ‘UD Alumni Community’ sign in the front window of the restaurant — Flyer fans just started swarming in.”
As they say, birds of a feather flock together — and so do the Flyer Faithful.
WHEN YOU’RE NOT ROOTING FOR THE FLYERS AT UD ARENA, WHICH PITTSBURGH SPORTS STADIUM IS YOUR FAVORITE?
“PNC PARK, because you have a beautiful view of the Pittsburgh skyline, and every seat has a fantastic view of the game.” —Jennifer Huber Kirschler ’89
“For me, there is nothing better than taking my 6-year-old granddaughter to PNC PARK by the river on a sunny Sunday afternoon.” —Thomas Fox ’70
“PNC PARK is one of the most beautiful ballparks in the U.S., and I’m a season ticket holder at HEINZ FIELD. The CONSOL ENERGY CENTER is also a great venue (and I’m not a huge hockey fan).” —James Bernauer ’70No Comments
Depending on your profession, ablank page could be a wonderful thing — full of possibilities, ready for you to make your mark.
For an editor, it’s the stuff of nightmares — ones with hairy spiders, chainsaw-wielding madmen and red pens that have all run out of ink.
So, I almost hate to ask, but did you see the blank pages in this issue, Pages 30-35? No? Thank goodness.
And thank a student. I did.
We employ 13 students — writers, photographers and a social media intern — for contributions that go beyond simply completing assignments and filling holes. In this issue, senior Ian Moran drove under threat of snowmageddon to Columbus, Ohio, to photograph a couple who will make bicycle dreams come true (Page 56). Our graduate assistant Tom Corcoran ’13 channeled his experience on UD’s football team to uncover mysterious figures from the Flyers’ 1938 squad (Page 61). To find their work, just look for bylines followed by the student’s graduation year. They leave their marks everywhere, including proofreading these pages.
Last summer, my assignment to senior Erin Callahan was to poke her head into every academic office and ferret out people and programs for potential stories. She returned from civil engineering with a name: Pete Ogonek. What started as a 500-word student profile blossomed into her feature “Rowing Machine,” starting on Page 30. Not only does she tell a good tale, but she also filled a very large hole left when the editors decided a previously scheduled feature just wasn’t ripe enough to run.
I barely had time to panic about a blank page when Erin filled it with a story of determination and excellence.
I’d like to think this entire magazine shows just that. The traits are often found in those we interview and photograph, in the stories we tell and the University we love. But our staff — both professional and student — demonstrate determination and excellence every day. A favorite part of my job is working with these students, feeding off their energy and teaching them what I love most about this craft. Our working relationship is not perfect; there are frustrations over missed deadlines, killed stories, or the obstinate use of the serial comma. But when I page through the final product, and know all that has gone into it, I am very, very proud.
I hope you are, too.No Comments