What-Ball?: Pickleball: the sport for all ages and all skill levels.

When I was home for Easter break, I watched a decent amount of television (because college doesn’t allow for much leisure time). I surfed the channels, hoping to
happen upon some kind of sporting event to feast my eyes upon. Eventually, I came across last year’s USA Pickleball Championship.

Imagine playing tennis, ping-pong, and badminton, but all at once. That’s pickleball. And yes, you heard me correctly. Pickleball.

In 1965, three fathers joined forces to create this family-friendly game. During a summer on Bainbridge Island, off the coast of Seattle, Washington, their kids found themselves bored with the usual swimming in a pool, jumping in a lake, playing frisbee or building sand castles. The dads united and invented the growing sport of
pickleball, whose rules and equipment have evolved since. Pickleball is played with a paddle and a plastic ball that has whiffle ball-like holes. Formerly made out of wood, the paddles have evolved to being composed of aluminum and graphite materials.

Pickleball can be played as singles or doubles, and the court’s layout allows for either casual or intense games. The outdoor or indoor pickleball court is the size of a doubles badminton court. It is painted similar to a tennis court, with two service areas separated by a centerline and two non-volley zones that extend the length in front of the net. However, you can absolutely play pickleball on a tennis or badminton court.

So why should we care about this amalgamation of country-club sports? Other than the fun-sounding name, pickleball provides cardiorespiratory fitness, like other forms of physical activity. Specifically, a Western State Colorado University study found that this type of fitness provided by pickleball was great for middle-aged and older adults.

You don’t have to be a middle to old-aged human to enjoy pickleball, though. The game can be played with your college friends to get some casual physical activity into your stressful college life. Try pickleball over the summer; I promise it’s a big “dill.”

Sources: AARP, USA Pickleball

Ready, Set, Dance: An argument on dance as a sport.

A sport is defined as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment,” according to
Oxford Languages. Why then, is dance not considered a sport?

Despite the competitive nature of dance and the intense hours of training, dancers still continue to fight for other athletes to take them seriously. Dance may not involve the equipment or team that other sports do, but it requires just as much physical strength, skill and practice.

According to Pointe Magazine, students who wish to become professional dancers train anywhere from 15 to 30 hours a week. Many dancers are even homeschooled in order to prioritize their training. Young girls and boys who hope to join companies give up their lives to the art. Just as many other athletes, the lifespan of a professional dancer is short. Students must dedicate themselves fully to the art at a young age in order to make it in the professional world.

Dancers must also follow a strict exercise and nutrition routine in order to maintain their strength and figure. WorldWide Ballet states that the average American ballerina is anywhere from 5 foot 2 inches to 5 foot 8 inches and weighs 85 to 130 lbs. Despite a society of body positivity and acceptance, ballerinas are still forced into the standard of being thin. Professional dancers have to track their food and weight meticulously in order to maintain their physique.

There are many arguments against dance as a sport, but I’ve never understood why. Maybe one doesn’t understand the rigors of the art until they’ve tore a ligament from a misplacement of weight, or they’ve bandaged their bloody, broken feet. Maybe one will never understand until they’ve pushed themselves on stage to the point of tears but have kept a smile on their face.

I’ve been dancing since I was three years old. In high school, I would have practice with my dance team from 3:30-5:30 p.m. and then would immediately drive to my dance studio for class from 6-10 p.m. I have torn ligaments in both my hip and my knee but performed the next day anyways. I pushed myself physically and mentally for years, leaving by body stiff and sore permanently.

Dance is like any other sport. Some are cut out, and some are not. A dancer must have as much physical strength and dedication as any other athlete, but a dancer performs with grace and beauty. Dance may not look like a sport to the common eye, but if you saw what occurred in front of those floor length mirrors, I’m sure you would change your mind.

Sources: Oxford Languages, Point Magazine, WorldWide Ballet

Super League Sparks Global Backlash: How a European pro soccer proposal is impacting fans around the world.

A recent announcement regarding the proposal of a Super League in European soccer has sparked global outrage and may forever change the way the game is both played and experienced. The 12 clubs confirmed as founding members, which include England’s traditional “Big 6” as well as the three top clubs in Italy and Spain,
announced that they plan to form a “Super League” which would have a tremendous impact on both domestic and international tournaments.

Traditionally, high-level European club tournaments such as the Champions League and Europa League require qualification that is obtained by performing at the top of a domestic league. The proposed Super League would instead have members play each other on a consistent basis, eliminating the ability for teams to work their way up and qualify. This is completely contradictory to how European tournaments and domestic leagues currently function where teams at the bottom of the table at the end of the season are relegated to a lower league and then must fight for promotion back up to the top league. It could also eliminate how money is transferred between leagues where the top clubs help fund the smaller clubs to continue the longstanding tradition of supporting grassroots efforts to expand the game.

The majority of soccer’s governing bodies have proposed sanctions that would be put on players and clubs who compete in this proposed Super League. UEFA and FIFA, which oversee major tournaments, have begun to discuss sanctions against participating players on both a domestic and international scale.

Fans, commentators, and even managers and players across Europe and the globe have come out against the Super League because at the heart of it, all they know that it is fueled by greed, and this proposal disregards not only the players but the fans who have supported these clubs for centuries. These clubs are integral parts of their communities who have provided help and assistance to people, especially during the pandemic, and this proposal completely undermines the local fabric of the sport.

The timing of the announcement of this league is also cause for outrage when hundreds of lower league clubs have suffered financial hardships from the pandemic. Since its inception, soccer has been known as the “working man’s game” and in many ways, this new proposed league would take away its heart and soul in exchange for enhanced profits for the so-called “top” teams.

The love of the game has provided a sense of camaraderie and belonging for people, especially in dark times that we constantly find ourselves in. And now more than ever it’s important that soccer fans come together, regardless of allegiances, to fight for the sport that has given us so much. In any sense, soccer fans, including myself, around the globe will sit, wait and hope this attempt to destroy the beautiful game we all know and love will not go through.

The Crowd Goes Wild: The impact of spectators at college sporting events.

The cheers and claps from the crowd are the most exhilarating sounds an athlete can hear. From smaller claps on the golf course to shouts and screams on the field, athletes thrive on the support of their closest family, friends and fans.

For the majority of the spring season, the Middle Atlantic Conference prohibited all athletic competitions from having spectators. This meant that athlete wouldn’t hear these screams, hear their names being called and numbers being cheered.

Beginning April 5, the ban was lifted. MAC allowed its schools to have fans at competitions but also left them the freedom to make their own respective rules on
spectator policies.

Eastern University’s spectator policy allows current students and faculty to attend outdoor events, and each athlete is allowed two tickets for other guests. These two
guests undergo a health screening before being allowed on campus to watch the event. Once the guests are on campus, they must follow social-distancing guidelines and wear a mask at all times. Eastern also asks all spectators to refrain from gathering in large groups before or after the event and sit in the designated areas laid out by Eastern’s game management team.

Aside from the specific yet necessary and helpful guidelines, the return of fans was an occasion that many students and athletes looked forward to since the spring
season commenced. Athletes missed their friends being able to watch them play their sport, and friends missed being able to hype up their favorite athletes.

The men’s lacrosse game on April 7 drew as large a crowd as possible in this pandemic. The Kea-Guffin hill was packed with parents and students, as far down as the auxiliary field. With each goal the team scored in its 12-7 victory over Widener, the crowd erupted in praising shouts and cheers. Accompanied by Olson Field’s goal horn and song, the atmosphere was once again electric.

The game ended with a salute to the fans, as the guys jogged over to the spectators and clapped their hands, cheering in gratitude. They posed for photos and waved to family and friends, and the fans waved back. “I love you, mom!” and “Hey dad!” were yelled up the hill from the field, and back down, “Great game!” and “Love you too!” were returned.

A week later, the softball team took the field against Messiah, drawing crowds down the third baseline on the curb outside Warner Library. Fans got to see a rally in

the second game of the double-header, as Eagles’ softball tied the score at 7 runs in the bottom of the 6th inning.

Unfortunately, Messiah pulled ahead in extra innings, but the fan support behind closing pitcher, Lexi Evelyn, was more than encouraging. Hearing family members and teammates shout, “Like you can, kid!” and “Alright two-six!” made eyes clear and hearts full.

The smallest gestures and phrases make an impression on athletes’ performances. Having a crowd in the stands makes all the difference. With the noise from the fans, a player’s own thoughts are drowned out. All that matters is that moment, that game, that rush, that adrenaline cultivated by the crowd’s applauds and shouts.

Student Athlete Spotlight: Sophomore soccer player Emmanuel Hewitt discusses activism both in and out of athletics.

When George Floyd was murdered in May 2020, many young Black people came out to their local cities to march for Black Lives Matter. Emmanuel Hewitt, a sophomore at Eastern, was one of those people. The Mechanicsburg, PA native, found it important to bring awareness to the struggles of young Black Americans. Hewitt is a great example of an active member of the Eastern community: a student athlete who is passionate about social justice and loves the Lord.

Since last summer, Hewitt, a communication studies major, has become extremely involved with Black Lives Matter, the Black Student League, and has begun to educate his peers about the importance of including and listening to Black voices. Hewitt explained that he protested because “it was not just for [Hewitt], but for other people who go through discrimination” to elevate their voices. Not only is Hewitt marching for Black Lives Matter, but he is bringing the topic into the classroom. In his classes, Hewitt has done a number of papers and projects highlighting Black History Month, his identity, and the racism that professional athletes
face.

Similar to his in class projects, Hewitt discussed how Eastern’s soccer team has tried to make an effort to educate the team on racial injustices. Hewitt discussed a Zoom meeting that the team had over the summer that created a dialogue within the team. Had it not been for COVID, the team had hopes of bringing activism into
more events and activities.

On the field, Hewitt is a midfielder and a wing. Despite being in his second year at Eastern, Hewitt has had limited time on the field due to COVID restrictions. Hewitt, along with his teammates, have not seen a regular season game since the fall 2019 season. They played four scrimmages this spring, but the Eagles are excited to have a full season in the future. “It’ll be a lot of responsibility,” said Hewitt. Juggling academics, activism, and a leadership role within the team, Hewitt has a lot on his plate going into his junior year this fall. However, the team is looking to continue building their strength and hopes to come out on top in the 2021 fall season.

Despite the challenges and hurdles Hewitt has faced during his time at Eastern, he enters each day with a smile. He values his faith and trusts God more than anything else. He is a dynamic presence in the classroom and on the field, and his journey in life is just beginning.

 

Make It or Break It: Do superstitions affect performance? A look at some athletes’ routine rituals.

A lot of athletes have habits that they have had since their early years. Whether it’s a simple ritual that they believe enhances their performance, or a certain type of music they listen to before a game, it’s not uncommon for athletes to
have something specific they have to do before their games. Before writing this article, I never knew that the legendary Michael Jordan wore his UNC Tar Heels shorts under his NBA shorts. Or that one of the fiercest linebackers in the history of the NFL in Brian Urlacher ate two chocolate chip cookies before games. Speaking to some of Eastern’s athletes, I was enlightened to some of the routines our players have.

Pitcher for Eastern’s baseball team Riley Kiebach said that he used to play with his fly down. While all players have their distinct types of music they enjoy listening to, it was surprising when Riley said he listens to Gregorian Chants to get himself in the right mindset to go out and play.

Pitcher Michael Gray has adopted a simple routine leading up to his games since coming to college. On his way to the mound, he does a little jump over the baseline. He also has a playlist of rap music that hypes him up and gets him in the right mindset to play. As simple as his routine may sound, his high school regimen consisted of always eating a peanut butter sandwich, making two lines in the dirt, and counting the “two” times table. He would also always shake his bat the same way. “Just something that worked,” Gray said after I asked why he stuck to such a specific routine before his games. When talking to Gray, he also mentioned that he has
become less superstitious since coming to college. As he mentioned, he had an actual routine that he followed in high school but has become freer since coming to college. Now, his main concern is with actually getting out onto the mound and playing and not focusing on superstition. He has become less obsessed with the mental games and wants to just go in and do it.

Midfielder for Eastern’s Men’s Lacrosse team, Connor Gill, also shared his routine. The chapel services before his games is one thing he noted about gamedays. Showering before games has also become a habit, and he also listens to relaxing music to get himself ready for games. When you attend sports games, you’ll usually hear rap or rock music on the PA systems that create an energetic atmosphere. Gill prefers to listen to EDM music along with remixes found on SoundCloud to get
into the right mindset almost like the calm before the storm.

Getting to hear some of our athletes’ routines and habits before games was eye-opening. A lot of what was said came as a surprise, but it gives a peek into the mental preparation athletes go through so that they can go out and do what they do best.

Source: Business Insider

Image description: NBA legend, Michael Jordan, is famously superstitious for wearing his UNC Tar Heels shorts under his Chicago Bulls ones.

Tiger’s Hopeful Return: A look at if the 82-time PGA Tour winner will come back to pro golf.

Who is the golfer tied for the most PGA tour wins? Who has won the Masters Tournament five times, the PGA Championship four times, and the US Open and the British Open both three times? Tiger Woods is the professional golfer to accomplish these feats and many more. But a recent car accident in Los Angeles might be a bit of a set back in Woods’s illustrious career.

Plagued by multiple back injuries and surgeries, Tiger Woods has been sporadic in his ability to play Professional Golf Association tournaments. Having problems with his back again, he was in LA to host the Genesis Invitational, not play in the tournament. He was involved in a single-vehicle crash when his SUV rolled over on Hawthorne Boulevard. Woods
suffered significant damage to his right leg, including open fractures in the upper and lower sections of his leg and shattering injuries to his ankle.

Considering Woods’ previous history with injury (three left knee surgeries, an Achilles tendon injury, and four back surgeries, just to name a few), this injury makes it hard to believe that Woods will ever be able to return to PGA Tour golf again. Woods is now recovering from home, which provides a hopeful outlook on a potential return. However, with the injury list piling up on Tiger Woods’s resume, it’s
tough to see him winning, let alone playing another PGA tournament.

Former PGA golfer and orthopedic doctor, Bill Mallon, expressed that he believes Woods will be able to play golf again. However, he said that it depends on the ardor of his recovery. If Woods keeps up his health and has a productive recovery, he’ll be back on the course swinging a club and reading putts. “And assuming he plays golf again—meaning
he doesn’t get an infection or severe arthritis in that ankle—I think he can return to the Tour,” Mallon said.

Golf fans around the world will continue to follow Tiger’s recovery in hopes that the legendary golfer will be able to get back in the swing of things for the PGA Tour. Now that fans are allowed to spectate at tournaments (at limited capacity), the golf world would love to see a healthy Tiger Woods back in action.

Sources: CNN, Insider, PGA Tour

Squats with the Squad: A reflection on how workout activities with friends eases gymtimidation.

Getting motivated to work out is difficult. For twenty-two years, I rarely worked out. On occasion, I would go for a walk around my neighborhood, but I never knew how to properly
work out. I finally got the courage to go to the gym this semester, and I still found myself anxious and uncomfortable in the large and intimidating facilities. I realized that working out alone at the gym is not for me, and that group workouts work better for me. Group workouts come in many shapes and sizes, and I have found that they tend to be more supportive and less anxiety-inducing.

One of my favorite ways to work out in groups is (believe it or not) through FaceTime. With the risk of catching or spreading the coronavirus still in play, my best friend and I began doing YouTube workouts together over FaceTime. Doing workouts
over FaceTime with family and friends, one can stay in the safety of their own home (or in the case of Eastern’s students, dorm room) while still gaining the emotional support of a group setting. Each person in the group can choose their own personalized workout, or the group can do the same workout. Either way, it harbors a sense of COVID-safe community while still building strength and getting fitness into one’s daily
routine.

The second (and more conventional) way to do an easy group workout is to go on a hike. The communities surrounding Eastern are not only safe but aesthetically pleasing as well. Taking a walk around the neighborhood is not only a great physical workout but a great way to reduce anxiety as well.
Walking through the neighborhood while taking in the fresh air and talking about life is one of my favorite ways to spend a weekend. If you’re someone who is on campus without a car, it is a short twenty-minute walk to downtown Wayne, where one can grab some yummy treats or a healthy snack like a fresh fruit smoothie bowl at the Playa Bowls on Lancaster Ave.

No matter what way you choose to exercise, remember that you need to be comfortable and feel safe in the spaces where you are working out. Going on a fitness journey can be hard and tedious to achieve your goals, but you’ll get there eventually.

Sedona Fever: How one student-athlete took over social media and changed the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

When pictures leaked of the NCAA women’s basketball training room, many fans were furious. A few hours later, Oregon Ducks basketball player Sedona Prince posted videos
on the social media platform TikTok that detailed the true extent of the inequalities between the men’s and women’s facilities, goodie bags, and food. Suddenly, the twenty-year-old forward became the face of the fight against inequality in college athletics.

Prince, a sophomore from Texas, not only gained traction for her sports activism. With her 6’7 frame and bright smile, she started to gain a following from women within the LGBT community. Dubbed “SedonaTok”, fans who dreamed of a romantic relationship with Prince posted millions of videos
admiring her. Prince, who has 4 different TikTok accounts, has amassed over 1.7 million followers on her main account, as well as hundreds of thousands of followers on her side accounts.

On top of the romanticization of Prince, she championed the discussion of women’s sports in general. Many fans were shocked to see that the accommodations given to Prince and her teammates were wildly different from the accommodations given to the men’s teams, even though their tournaments were relatively the same. Even after the Ducks lost to Louisville in the Sweet Sixteen round, Prince asked her supporters and fans to continue watching the tournament and to support the other teams.

Prince has started many conversations surrounding gender biases both on and off the court. She has discussed the pressures of being thrust into the spotlight in a span of days, and how her mental health has been affected. She has even discussed the differences between being single and in a relationship in the public eye, and how she began to get hateful comments only after it was revealed that she was in
a relationship.

With her talents on the court, her online following, and her good looks, Sedona Prince is not going anywhere. With three more years of NCAA eligibility, Prince is sure to become a women’s basketball superstar before she ever even joins the
draft. As her career continues on, fans are excited to see what she will do both on and off the court in the coming years.

Student Athlete Spotlight: Sophomore Jack Mangene talks golf, community, and God.

Sophomore golfer and exercise science major, Jack Mangene, juggles a hectic schedule, social life, and Division III athletic career. Firing a 74 in his first tournament of the season, Mangene has golf down to a “tee” – pun definitely intended. While still putting the work in at his sport, Mangene also manages a load of responsibilities that make him more than an athlete. Besides being on the men’s golf team at Eastern, Jack is an RA for the first floor of Guffin Hall, Wednesday Night Worship member, Chapel Worship Team member, Leadership Fellows Program member and aide for a physical therapist off campus.

The golfer, student and musician has a lot on his plate, but experience in his major is a priority to him. An aspiring chiropractor, his off campus job at a local physical therapy practice adds to his resume. “I get experience with actual patients. I run them through exercises to help them improve their physical condition,” he said. From this job, he learns how
to better inform patients about preventing injury, managing pain, and recovering effectively.

Along with helping people in physical conflict, Mangene also manages conflicts with roommates, residents, and others on campus as an RA and a member of LFP. He says that he had never really been in a position that he was relied on to solve an immediate problem, but being an RA has taught him to be prepared for that moment.

“When you get people living together, you start to realize that there are a lot of things that bother certain people. And you have to balance which of those things is my role, as an RA, to intervene on, and which of those things are not really my place,” Mangene said. This conflict management and wanting to bring people together in situations that seem to drive them apart is a vital quality that he possesses.

Mangene is a true team player, always looking out for his residents, friends, and teammates. This extends from the golf course to Guffin Residence Hall. “Building community has been a main role of mine in LFP and as an RA,” Mangene said. “People like to feel validated. I think it’s really important to feel comfortable going to certain people, so I try to be that person.”

Although golf is an individual sport that requires little to no person-to-person interaction, Mangene highly values the team aspect of golf. Mangene’s “people-person” character floats around with him wherever he goes. “It’s really important to be unified as a team, and to be best friends with your team,” he said. Good sportsmanship and support of teammates even in times of personal struggle is valuable to Mangene, another sign of his stellar character and heart of gold.

Handling these responsibilities and various roles is no light task for Jack Mangene, but there is a reason for everything. “It’s an opportunity to grow myself overall as a person. God’s blessed me with some specific talents, and I think it’s my role to go into those roles and share his love through them. I’m proud to be so many things because it’s just more opportunities to share the love.”