A Time of Preparation: Two students share their perspectives on Advent.

You may walk into a church in December and see a wreath with five unlit candles: three purple, one pink, and one white in the center of the wreath. As the service begins with a full worship band, there will come a moment in the service where an individual or family from the congregation will come forward with a piece of paper, a lighter, and a microphone. They will then read a portion of the Bible from Isaiah, Matthew, or Luke, depending on the week, and light the candles which correspond to that time of advent. As the candles are lit weekly, adding candles until Christmas Eve, the reader states, “We light the candle of hope, the candle of peace, the candle of joy and the candle of love.” Only on Christmas Eve is the white candle, also known as the Christ candle, lit. 

With every candle and every week, there is the call and response of, “Advent means coming; prepare ye the way of the Lord.” This moment of lighting the Advent wreath happens early in the service in order to guide and shape the rest of the morning. When we as a congregation are shown and reminded that this season is one of preparation, anticipation and increasing light, it shapes how we progress throughout the week. There is a great deal of anticipation in the Christmas season, though often it is not Christ-centered anticipation. Lighting the Advent wreath every week invites us into a moment where we reorient ourselves and pause, remembering the anticipation of Israel, the apprehension of Mary, the joy of the shepherds and the true shalom Christ brings us with His arrival. 

In some Christian traditions, the observation of the liturgical calendar, a calendar that takes us through the Christian year through a series of seasons, has a prominent role. Each of these seasons reminds us of something important. Advent is one of these seasons and is the season that marks the beginning of the Christian year. During Advent, we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ by remembering that Israel was longing for the Messiah. They were waiting for God to deliver them and we celebrate God’s deliverance through Christ. However, Advent invites us into more than just remembrance of the past. It also invites us to remember our own longing for Christ’s return and to prepare our hearts to receive him. Through Advent, we remember our own hope for the world to be made wholly good again by being brought back to God. 

Environmental Racism in Our Country: The problem of waster incineration in Delaware County and what we can do about it.

In 1992, a waste incineration site was built in the city of Chester, PA, in Delaware County: the Delaware Valley Resource Recovery Facility. Since 2005, Covanta Holding Corporation has owned and operated it. According to Census.gov, 68.9% of Chester residents are Black or African-American, 11.6% of residents are of Hispanic or Latino descent, white residents make up most of the remaining approximate 20% and other races report less than 1%. This means that 80.5% of residents are Black and Brown people of color and are suffering from health issues and low-income difficulties as a result of this incineration site. This number easily justifies calling this what it is—racism. 

As PBS Nova found in 2017, “a third of [Chester] residents live below the poverty line,” with “one of the poorest public education systems in Pennsylvania and some of the state’s highest rates of gun violence.” Chester used to be a thriving hub for manufacturing and business and prospered before World War 2. But half of its residents fled the city for the wealthier, whiter suburbs between 1950 and 1980 (a phenomenon called “white flight”), leaving residents of color to disproportionately bear the invisible costs of the new municipal waste incinerator a decade later and housing value depreciation and underfunded public necessities in the meantime and throughout. Nova also found that Chester residents only created 1.6% of the waste that is incinerated at the facility; the entirety of the rest comes from Philadelphia, Ocean City, New Jersey, New York City—and Delaware County. Our county.

But what is waste incineration, and why is it bad? According to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, an organization democratizing waste disposal and dismantling waste corporations, it’s a process by which solid waste is burned in order to produce energy, usually electricity, that’s sold back to the power grid. Incineration creates nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and tiny “particulate matter,” according to epidemiologist Tamarra James-Todd of Harvard University. This particulate matter causes respiratory and cardiovascular complications. It can lead to “premature death in people with heart or lung disease, irregular heartbeats, aggravated asthma, and decreased lung function,” says a doctor from UPenn. In 1995, three years after the site was opened, 60% of children in Chester were found to have concentrations of lead in their blood higher than what’s deemed healthy by the CDC; 38.5% of Chester children and 25% of adults have asthma; residents are significantly more likely to develop lung or ovarian cancer or suffer a stroke or heart disease “than other Delaware county residents,” PBS Nova found. ILSR reports that there are 76 incineration facilities across the country, and in spite of wasting more energy than it produces, 23 states list incineration as a renewable resource, including Pennsylvania. And this incineration plant owned by Covanta is the largest in the country, burning over 3500 tons of waste per day, according to Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living (CRCQL). Nova also reported that Covanta lacked important pollutant control systems. In an NPR interview, Covanta said that “this facility operates 96% below federally regulated emission standards.” But this is why community members are angry—federal regulations are insufficient and favor big companies over people’s lives, says CRCQL.

So what can we do to combat this environmental racism? Most importantly, we can support Zulene Mayfield (community organizer) and her decades-old organization, CRCQL. Mayfield has been protesting and organizing against environmental racism in her community for years. Donate or sign a petition on their website, and follow and share them on social media. Additionally, when it’s time for us to vote, we can be sure to vote in our local elections, and we can refuse to vote for candidates of any party that receive corporate PAC money. We can invest in alternatives for our common waste products: metal straws, reusable water bottles, tote bags for groceries, etc, so that we send less waste to Chester.

In April of 2022, Covanta’s contract with the city of Chester is up—and that’s our chance to help make sure it’s not renewed. This is a multimillion-dollar company that’s a corporate PAC (political action committee) that donates to candidates on both sides of the aisle (Opensecrets.org). It’s caused irreparable economic and medical harm to the residents of Chester, especially to people of color. It’s one of the most serious sources of air pollution in our community. And it needs to end. 

Sources: PBS Nova, WHYY NPR, Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living,  opensecrets.org, census.gov

Threads Pop-Up Thrift Shop: All proceeds supported IJM, an organization that fights to end human trafficking.

On Saturday, Dec. 4, International Justice Mission (IJM) hosted their annual pop-up thrift store to end slavery, Threads. For weeks, IJM has had signs posted in every dormitory as well as one in Walton with donation bins underneath for anyone to donate clothing, jewelry, shoes, and more. The members of the club sorted all of the donations and set up in Gough Great Room, ready for customers.

The set-up was wonderful. As you walked into the room, there was a table where the IJM club members were sitting and handling transitions with information about the organization. The prices were written on a whiteboard propped against a chair; except for select pieces that were hand-labeled, everything was under five dollars. There were tables with neatly folded t-shirts and jeans, chairs with larger pieces like jackets and dresses laid out or draped over the back, and a rack with some statement pieces hung up. The cubbies in Gough Great Room held a selection of shoes, mugs, and jewelry. There was even a floor-length mirror propped against one wall, so you could hold pieces up and see if you liked them.

You were even allowed to try pieces on if you wanted. While I was there, one person went into the bathroom with an overflowing pile of things they wanted to try on. I tried on three different pieces, and I was thrilled when all of them fit. There aren’t many places where you can get three nice pieces of clothing for under ten dollars. It was also incredibly easy to pay; they accepted cash, debit or credit card, or Venmo.

Besides the unbeatable quality and price of the items, any shoppers could leave confident that their money was going to a good cause. According to the posters around campus, “all proceeds from every item you buy goes to International Justice Mission—the largest anti-trafficking organization in the world—which means freedom for people still trapped in slavery.” Their mission is to “to protect people in poverty from violence by rescuing victims, bringing criminals to justice, restoring survivors to safety and strength, and helping local law enforcement build a safe future that lasts” (ijm.org). 

IJM partners with local offices in fourteen different countries to “combat slavery, violence against women and children, and police abuse of power against people who are poor” (ijm.org). Their solution involves reducing and restoring victims, bringing criminals to justice, scaling demand for protection and strengthening justice systems to fight these issues.

If you’d like to learn more about the organization, their website is a wealth of information about what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, and the people who they’ve impacted already. IJM also accepts donations on their website, so if you weren’t able to attend Threads but still would like to support their mission, you can go onto the website and set up either a one-time donation or a recurring monthly donation through their user-friendly portal. You can also get regular updates on their events and progress through social media; they have active profiles on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, and LinkedIn.

Threads represented the work of a community coming together for a good cause. Thank you to everyone who donated, volunteered, shopped and supported IJM through this work.

Sources: Threads poster, ijm.org

Group Gifting: Secret Santa or White Elephant?

‘Tis the season for giving, although giving can come in many forms. Two of the most common large group gift giving activities are white elephants and secret Santa.

Buying gifts for everyone in a group can be difficult, time consuming and expensive. Practices such as white elephant and secret Santa can ease the stress of gift buying and can ensure a comfortable budget for everyone to be able to follow.

If you aren’t aware of either practice, white elephant exchanges consist of each participant bringing a present, typically within a given price range, then at an event, the participants go around the room and randomly select presents. 

From there, a white elephant can go in many different directions, but typically each person opens the present as they receive it, and others after them can either steal a previously opened gift or select their own to open. If someone’s present is stolen, they can then select a new gift to open or steal someone else’s, and the chain continues.

In a secret Santa exchange, each participant is randomly assigned another participant’s name, and are then responsible for buying that specific person a gift. Typically, the presents are then distributed together, and everyone receives a personalized gift from their “secret Santa.” Depending on the group, the “Santa” can either remain forever anonymous, or reveal themselves.

Personally, I prefer using the secret Santa method for a few different reasons, but I do recognize the appeal of the white elephant exchange. 

White elephant exchanges can be great for groups that dont know each other as well, such as classrooms or large clubs. They can also be done in a larger variety of ways, with different methods of distributing white elephant presents. 

While white elephants are a great way to celebrate, I have a personal affection towards Secret Santa gift exchanges, especially with groups of friends or families. 

Growing up, my family always participated in secret Santa exchanges. With a larger, but close family, gift giving was just not possible with so many people.

 With my mom’s side of the family, we even took things as far as separating the groups by cousin exchanges and aunt/uncle exchanges. This way, the exchanges were divided by generation, making it easier to shop for the assigned person.

Secret Santa exchanges are able to be much more personal than white elephant exchanges. When you are given a specific person to shop for, it makes it possible to buy them a present that will be meaningful to them, rather than a generic gift that can be meant for anything.

There is nothing wrong with generic gifts, I recently received a really awesome present from a white elephant exchange, and it was really sweet and thoughtful. But when I buy presents, I like to make them personalized for the recipient, as I feel it makes the tradition more meaningful and special.

The Myth of the Modern Sabbath: Explaining why students today struggle to observe the Sabbath.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20: 8-11.

Many of us have grown up in Christian households, where these words were read from the pulpit. Though most Christian denominations do not keep the Sabbath in the traditional sense, many of us still grew up with Sunday as a holy day with no or few obligations. From all initial appearances, a college student could keep Sunday holy. There are no classes on Sunday, no projects to present or tests to take. We can attend the service of our choosing, with even more options since churches are streaming their services. Even Zime is closed, so students who work there can kick back and take it easy. And how lucky we must be! Instead of one day off, we now have two. For all on-paper matters, Saturday is the same. Two full days of complete rest. Except, this is not the case for most students. 

The number one villain that stalks our Sabbath plans is homework. A student could diligently keep up with every reading or minor project they get during the week, but the moment an essay or larger project is assigned, at least a portion of the weekend can be vital to keep afloat with school. A student with no other responsibilities would still have to take time away from their rest to do homework.  But as much as homework interferes, it’s not the only burden on those who want a holy day of rest. 

Financial pressure can drive a student to give up parts of both weekdays and weekends. Many students must work a job on top of going to school in order to pay for college tuition. Even a few hours a week can dip into their rest days. Resident assistants sometimes work weekends, and student athletes devout most of their weekends to the game schedule. Athletic activities and extracurricular clubs can eat away at what little time remains. Not only that, but Saturdays are full of events, like dances or festivals. 

But what about Sundays? Isn’t Sunday the important part? Sundays aren’t exempt from the bustle of work; this is where homework sneaks in the gaps. If Saturday is full of games, evening rounds, and trying to support the ever-increasing expense of tuition, Sunday is the day full of catch-up work and preparing for Monday. While many students may still make it to church on Sundays, the rest of that day may still be filled with other obligations. 

What happened to a day of rest? The truth is, for the modern student, this day of rest doesn’t exist. This is not a question of time management. A student with perfect motivation to accomplish everything in the week could not possibly keep up with the all the demands of the modern student. As for the student who doesn’t come from money, it’s impossible to “have it all.” 

In order to engage with fulfilling rest and community with others, a true sabbath is needed. If a Sunday is filled with doing the next day’s reading, finishing an essay, or answering discussion posts, where is the time for engagement with a church community, or to spend time in prayer or reading scripture? Those who want to have a rich spiritual life are locked off from it by a time barrier.  As students, it becomes a struggle to prioritize, and spiritual life can often be neglected. When spiritual life is neglected in the student body, as a religious institution, we have to wonder, what kind of Christians are we creating?

How the Trump’s Stole Christmas: Melania Trump decorated the White House better than Jill Biden.

“Its the most wonderful time of the year,” sings Andy Williams.  Williams was in fact right.  Christmas is one of the most magical times of the year. It is a time for people to gather with their families, give each other gifts to brighten one anothers day, and remember the reason for the season. Christmas is a time to reflect on the good things the Lord has given us and read the story of Jesus’ birth.  This time of year is full of cheer, thankfulness, and for me, tons of family time. 

Recently, one very popular figure continued the cheer when she unveiled the Christmas decorations at the White House.  First Lady Jill Biden unveiled her Christmas decorations this year, and I have a few thoughts. Before I dive in, I will say, I appreciate her tribute to our fallen soldiers.  One of the trees in the White House is decorated with ornaments that have the names of fallen military members.  

According to Insider, her theme is called, “Gifts from the Heart.” The theme is supposed to reflect how each and every person can help each other out by spreading kindness.  Throughout the White House, there is an array of different decorations that resemble people coming together and putting our differences aside.   

However, her actual execution of the decorations was not so good.  Now, what I am about to say is probably going to make a few people upset, and you know what, I am okay with that. We are all allowed to have our own opinion, and you have the right to disagree with me. That is the beauty of America. 

Melania Trump decorated the White House better than Jill Biden.  There, I said it.  Jill’s decorations looked, well, normal.  Melania always brought some sort of fresh flavor and class.  In 2020, for Melania’s last Christmas in the White House, she decided to commemorate the essential workers, who worked so hard during the pandemic.  

She called it, “America the Beautiful.”  She filled the White House with Christmas trees, garlands, and a really fun White House replica made out of gingerbread.  The entire space was beautiful to take in.  She covered the trees in ornaments that resembled various essential workers.  It was classy, it was traditional, and it was “America the Beautiful.”

Jill had an entrance made up of various sizes of red gift boxes.  This looked like something I would see outside of a Build-a-Bear Workshop during the holidays. Something that would appeal to children, not the entire country. 

Melania created a scene that was traditional, classy, and paid a tribute to the hard working Americans that kept the country afloat during the pandemic.  Jill tried to remind everyone to come together despite our differences, but carried it out like President Biden’s presidency. It did not quite “work.” 

Where Melania decorated the White House with classy, traditional, or more unique decorations, Jill chose what looked like something I would have made during Sunday school at church.  Insider reported that Jill filled the China room with wreaths. On each of these wreaths were hands that were supposed to resemble people coming together.  To me, this looked like a craft I did in the 5th grade at co-op. 

Melania filled the White House with Christmas trees that were sophisticated and reflected the American people.  She pulled off her last Christmas beautifully. As for Jill, let’s just say she has three more opportunities to try and match the bar Melania has set. 

Hard Pill to Swallow: Taylor Swift is not all that and a bag of chips.

As many people know, Taylor Swift has made a huge splash in the music community since  releasing updated versions of her songs. Many of her fans flocked to TikTok to record their reactions to the most anticipated song “All Too Well”, a song about one of her exes. I am not saying Taylor Swift is a bad artist. She has worked hard for her career and her music is good, however, she gets hype for creating the same type of music.

Sad love songs are a popular genre of music, I listen to them all the time, but there are many other artists out there who are better than her and deserve more hype. Swift creates the same type of songs about her exes and her breakups, which can get old very fast. I will give credit where credit is due, she is good but the hype she gets now is unwarranted. Her voice sounds like any other pop artist. There is nothing unique about it. She writes about the same things other artists write about.  She creates the same types of songs and her newest music is just old songs she sings now that her voice is more mature. Swift’s voice is good but there are many artists out there that have better voices who do not get any attention. Swift has been in the public eye for so long which makes it harder for less known artists to make an appearance.

Another thing about Swift’s music is that it calls out the people who have wronged her in the music industry. The most recent victim is the actor Jake Gyllenhall. It is great to get inspiration from real events that happen in your life, in fact many artists do, but for people to know exactly who they are does not sit right with me. It is okay for the people to guess and make speculations but for them to know exactly who the person is leaves me questioning Swift’s actions. Gyllenhall does deserve the push back he is getting because of the age gap between him and Swift while they were dating. However, that should be addressed in a different setting. It should not be addressed in a pop song. I think bashing exes and friendship while you are in the public eye is not a good thing. That goes for every artist as well. Her music makes it seem that she is misunderstood and a victim of the people who have wronged her. It is a one sided narrative in her music which is why it does not appeal to me. There are many other artists who create songs that give both sides of the stories, not just one.

Swift is an overrated singer who creates pop songs like every other artist. Swift is not as extraordinary as fans claim her to be. She sings just like any other sad girl artist. Her music sounds dull and can drag on for a bit especially in her newest two albums. Her vocals do not impress me compared to other popular artists like Ariana Grande, Kelly Clarkson or Adele. 

Grande has the most impressive vocals and she also has tried a wide range of different styles of music. Swift did make a shift from just country to becoming more of a pop artist, but has positioned herself in the sad girl genre.  It is fine to stick to one style or genre of music, but Swift does not have the skill to be up there with artists like Grande. 

OR even Clarkson, who has the vocal range the size of the Grand Canyon.  She can sing almost any style of music and knock it out of the park.  Adele fits into the sad girl genre, but she does it in a way that puts me in Adele’s shoes.  I can see and feel her pain.  Swift just makes me feel like I am watching her sad life unfold.  Nobody wants that.  I want to feel and experience her pain with her.  That is what sad girl music is for.  

So that haters are gonna hate hate hate, but i am just gonna express my true feelings and say that Swift is not as special as the world portrays her. 

The Meltdown: An Eastern food item suddenly disappeared from the menu.

Now, as an Eastern University student, the food selection is limited. Throughout my four years here, I’ve witnessed this change as many around. From Jamin Java’s rebranding to Zime and Breezeway’s lunchtime hours changed; I’m sure you’ve noticed it too. While one constant food item has found its way off the menu from both places, one, in particular, was chosen the most, the meltdown.

The meltdown was a buffalo chicken sandwich, often found in Breezeway but also in Jammin Java. Cooks put chicken fingers with cheddar cheese, buffalo sauce, and blue cheese on sourdough bread naming it the meltdown. It was so popular to the point where every table at Breezeway was packed with one of these sandwiches—becoming a rival food item to the cheesesteak, chicken cheesesteak, and macaroni bites. 

It was a unique item at the time, and it was a big reason for me to leave Sparrowk, walk to Breezeway, and spend long hours there. I could eat one of these sandwiches and be full for the rest of the night. I had multiple memories of enjoying this lunchtime or nighttime meal around friends while playing pool. 

However, the popularity caused the portions to get small. Due to the low supply of sourdough bread and buffalo sauce, we would get half the sandwich. It got to the point where people would buy two or three just to get the same quantity they’ve received before.

This got worse over time, leading to the meltdown to be removed from the menu with its high demand. It was sudden, and no one expected this to happen. This led to the same situation happening to the chicken cheesesteak and macaroni bites. While all these items were popular, it caused more labor for the student workers, and supplies were too much to buy. The sandwich would take forever to make, where students would just buy the chicken fingers and fries when the place was packed.

While the meltdown disappeared, food selection had fewer items, making it hard for students to decide what to eat late at night. However, the meltdown did find itself back on the menu as a special for some nights, but it still never fully managed to get recognition from newer students. 

The meltdown isn’t the only item to find itself off the menu. Before me, students have experienced Breezeway selling chicken wings and quesadillas. So whatever food item you love from either Zime or Breezeway, make sure you enjoy it while it lasts because it will come as a surprise when one day it is taken off the menu.

Life on The Sidelines: One of Eastern’s volleyball players shares her experience from the sidelines.

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with one of my good friends and ask her about her fall season.  Kaylyn Ziegler plays for the Eastern women’s volleyball team.  She is a second-year; however, this was her first season where she was able to play. 

The last time Ziegler stepped on the court was Feb. 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic.  She stopped playing a month before the pandemic due to a concussion.  So, Ziegler was amped to play for this year’s fall season.

After an intense preseason, volleyball season started, and Ziegler was able to step onto the court for the first time in a year and a half.  Ziegler explained she was playing on a team where almost everyone had never played at the collegiate level.  Since the team does not have any seniors this year, the juniors were the only experienced players and they only had one season of experience under their belts. The freshman and the sophomores were stepping onto the collegiate court for the very first time.

Ziegler explained how she was getting a significant amount of playing time and was loving every second of it. However, Ziegler explains how she might have been playing too much.  In just the first month of the season, the Eastern Eagles had played 18 matches with Ziegler playing for nearly most of each game.

Ziegler explained how towards the middle of September, she began to feel a terrible pain in her left foot. Despite the pain, Ziegler pressed on.  Ziegler said, “I had the mentality that it was essentially play until you can’t.”

And that is exactly what she did. Unfortunately, after Sept. 28, Ziegler was no longer able to join her team on its path to victories.  The doctors explained how Ziegler overworked herself and developed a stress fracture. She was no longer allowed to play and was instructed to wear a boot. This boot was, as Ziegler put it, “quite annoying.” She shared how the boot itself was painful, caused her to run into things, and she even fell down the stairs.  Ziegler went from playing volleyball every day to hoping her boot would not prevent her from making it to class on time. 

Ziegler was once again sitting on the bench.  Back in 2020, Ziegler was reduced to the bench due to a concussion and was restricted even more because of the pandemic.

Now, just as she got back on the court, she was reduced to the bench once again. Ziegler was frustrated and upset.  She had been eager to play the sport she loves, but she was back to life on the sidelines.

Despite the frustration, Ziegler decided to have a positive mindset towards her circumstance.  She explained how she was able to learn a lot by watching her teammates play, was able to be the loudest in the gym, and was even able to give her teammates pointers to help them win their games. 

Though Ziegler wished she could have played the whole season, she was thankful for the experience because she was able to become a better player by watching her teammates from the sidelines. 

On a happier note, Ziegler was still able to help bring her team to victory in the MAC Commonwealth Championship.  And as Ziegler said, “Life on the sidelines is not all that bad. I had the opportunity to learn more about the sport and scream my head off to support my fellow teammates.” 

An Ode to JT: A tribute to a girl’s favorite professional golfer, Justin Thomas.

I’ve been watching professional golf for my whole life. I grew up with PGA events on the TV, especially on Sundays between football games and commercial breaks. My television intake of golf increased with my competitiveness with the sport. I began favoriting players, and one of them rose to the top of my liking.

Justin Thomas is my favorite professional golfer. He is a graduate of the University of Alabama (Roll Tide) and has won 14 times on the PGA Tour since he turned pro in 2013.

If I remember correctly, I’ve liked JT since 2014, a year after his professional debut. I’m not sure what drew me to him. I think I figured that out as time passed, my golf game improved, and my love for him grew.

As I got more serious in my golf game, JT moved from being just my favorite golfer to my role model. I admire how he acts on the course, regardless of a few outbursts or slip-ups. I admire his confident attitude, swagger, and the slight tinge of arrogance when he knows he’s playing well. If you’re as good a golfer as Justin Thomas is, I think you’re allowed to be cocky.

I also adore JT’s golf swing. I find similarities between him and me regarding our technique and stature. I’m not the tallest person, standing at 5-foot-2 and 100 pounds, and neither is JT at 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds. However, the length that he hits the ball is insane for his build, and it’s something I can relate to. People always ask me how I drive the golf ball so far, and I reply, “I’m not sure. Probably just technique.” I’m sure JT would respond the same way.

I had the pleasure of watching Thomas play at the second round of the Northern Trust PGA tournament two years ago. I cherished every second of watching my idol play his sport, and I took inspiration from him. During my senior year golf season, I mimicked a part of JT’s pre-shot routine. Before taking a full swing at the ball, I took my club only part of the way back, checking the hinge in my wrist. This motivated me to hinge my wrists at the top of my backswing to get a full, powerful distance on my drive.

To this day, I write “JT” on my golf ball before every round I play. Justin Thomas was my first favorite professional golfer, and I don’t see that status ever-changing.