Sports Story-Athlete Profile: Jazmine Highsmith

December 10, 2007


 by Shantrell Scott

TAMPA—As the daughter of retired NFL Tampa Buccaneers’ football player, Alonzo Highsmith, Jazmine Highsmith is also leaving her footprints in the sand as an athlete at University of South Florida.

As a junior majoring in public administration, Highsmith states that she goes to both school and practice full-time, which hardly leaves any time to do normal college activities. One thing that Highsmith describes herself being is very dedicated to her studies. Although she may fall into the dilemma of procrastination, she said that her time here at USF will not be spent in vain.

While holding distinctions in track & field, one being recently earned as the “Big East Academic All-Star”, Highsmith recalled a time in her life where she was first introduced into the sport of being a thrower at the age of 14 years old.

“I didn’t see myself as an athlete,” said Highsmith, “but in the ninth grade, the lady’s track coach came up to me and asked if I was interested in becoming a shot put thrower. At first, I was not interested because I never played sports before, but after the coach called my house and spoke to my mom about letting me tryout, I was forced into doing it. Now that I look back, I do thank them for doing it because I really enjoy playing in this sport.”

It may seem as Highsmith just became an athlete out of thin air. However, being a competitor has always been in her blood with the help of her father who has been retired from the Buccaneers since 1992 and is now the scout coach for the Green Bay Packers.

One reason for Highsmith being such an outstanding thrower is because of the motivation she says she received from her mother and her grandmother, who passed away this past July. Although the passing of her grandmother was so devastating to Highsmith to where she wanted to leave school to go back to her hometown in Miami, she said it was the thought of what her grandmother would do that kept her here at USF.

“I decided to stay because I know that my grandmother wouldn’t want me to quit. So I decided to dedicate this year’s track & field season to the memory of my grandmother and I’ll make sure that I win those medals in her honor.”


Comradely unites all rugby players

December 10, 2007

Mari Muzzi                             

 Despite a fading black eye, bruised ribs and a concussion this season, Jonathan Nowakowski said that he enjoys the full contact sport of rugby and it comradely that unites all players. To him, being part of a rugby team is like being in a fraternity.            

Nowakowski, a University of South Florida sophomore majoring in exercise science, joined the USF rugby team last February. At that time he didn’t know much about the game. Like many Americans, he was more familiar with football. But, once he learned the game, he quickly understood its popularity worldwide, he said.  Though, rugby is gaining popularity in the US, many USF students are not too familiar with the school’s rugby team, nor are they aware that it has the best record when it comes to winning percentages, said Nowakowski.            

Rugby a sport that has similarities to soccer, football and wrestling has been played in the US for about hundred years, according to USF rugby coach Gordon Campbell. The sport is often overshadowed by football and baseball, and some Americans get it confused with lacrosse. Now people can find community rugby teams in most large cities, said Nowakoski. Last year’s World Cup rugby games aired on cable, which helped increase the interest of the sport, according to Nowakoski.            

 Playing rugby at USF provides an opportunity for students to become physically fit and make friends, said Nowakoski. A rugby player can go anywhere in the world and be able to practice with a team, this comradely amongst rugby players makes the sport worth playing, said Nowakoski.           

“The USA coach said it the best, Rugby is the universal fraternity,” Nowakoski said. His teammate Travis Miller, a USF finance major agrees, and said that it’s more than just the competiveness that he likes about the sport, it’s the friendships that he has made this season.            

“The comradely amongst rugby players is something that isn’t seen in other sports,” Nowakoski said. Nowakoski, a Chicago native, played football in high school and was part of the USF track team. During a rugby tournament in the Bahamas, where Nowakoski was selected to play on the USA team, he noticed this comradely. After a match, his team and the other teams they played against came together to celebrate being in the tournament, he said.            

“This type of comradely can be seen even at the international level,” Nowakoski said.           

Playing rugby can be intense; there are no breaks during games, nor pads or helmets, only mouth guards to protect a player’s teeth. Though, the fabric of the uniforms is softer, players often receive bruises.           

During a match the 15 players on the field have a chance to shine at any moment, said Nowakoski. This is because any player has the opportunity for his moment of fame during the game and a well played match requires the whole team to be at its best and working together, said Miller.           

“You can’t do anything without your teammates,” Miller said.           

This season the USF rugby team has much to be proud of, winning the Florida Cup amongst 14 top teams and practicing hard all season, said coach Gordon. Many of the players joined the team not knowing much about the sport, said Nowakoski. However, hard work and a wiliness to learn rugby helped them achieve a lot this season.                       

“They are some of the heroes at USF,” Campbell said.

Sports Story- “There is no I in team”

December 10, 2007

by Tiffany Talley

The game of football is a much-loved sport. It’s all about the rivalry, pep rallies, cheerleaders and fans in the stands. Not to mention the band, mascot, and press coverage. Most importantly, it’s about doing what you love and winning while doing it.

This sums up high school football for offensive lineman, Darrin Baker of the Hillsborough High School Terriers.

Coached by Earl Garcia, the Hillsborough High School Terriers are off to a great 2007 season after celebrating their 100th anniversary season on Friday, August 31, 2007.  

Baker, a Tampa native and junior at Hillsbourgh High School has been playing football since age 8. He credits his close cousin in giving him the aspiration to play. 

Baker along with other players finds time to balance football with school work and day to day activites. 

“It’s tough but if you want to play ball, you have to pull through and manage your time,” said Baker.

Baker has hopes of attending the University of South Florida and achieving an degree in business adminstration in addition to playing football for the USF Bulls. He hopes to own his own resturant in the future.

With a winning 9-3 record, the Terriers have high hopes of coming close to a state championship in the near future.  

“We would’ve had a better season if we worked more on our mental mistakes than our physical mistakes,” said Baker. 

Devin McNeish, senior quarterback also agrees with Baker “I believe we could’ve been better if we played more as a team and not wanted self-gain. There is no I in Team” said McNeish.  

The Hillsbourough High School Terriers have a rich history of state championship wins and are known as the team to beat, but that they still have a lot of work to do to get ready for next season Baker believes that if the Terriers play as a team, they’ll win as a team.  

“We have good potential, we just need to follow through,” said Baker.   

NewsU- Handling race and Ethnicity

December 10, 2007

 Tiffany Talley

I found this course to be sooooo insightful and intriguing. I had no idea I was so clueless aobut race and ethnicity. If there is one thing that I learned is that race is a social construct. When you start profiling on a race, you get your self in trouble.

The only major thing that comes to my mind when there was an issue of racial profiling in the press was a story that was done on Hurricane Katrina. The newspaper ran a story regarding the looting of stores and shops by the Katrina survivors. In one article, it was proposed that the black child was stealing and looting while another article, the white couple was seen as struggling to find food.

Stereotyping and generalizations are the root of evil in Ameria. When you lump a group of diverse people under one race or identity, you are just asking for trouble.

It was really interesting to see the results from the ethnicity quiz. It definitely proves that race and ethinicty are not skin deep.

Five Steps to Multimedia Storytelling- Allen

December 5, 2007

Courtney Allen

I chose the NewsU course on “Five Steps to Multimedia Storytelling.” It is important to remember that a good journalist is a good storyteller as well. Even if the subject is boring, you have to keep the reader interested. With a variety of multimedia available today, it is getting easier to tell a story in a compelling way. The NewsU course breaks down the elements into five simple steps.

The first step is to choose a story. Before going off to cover a story, it is best to gather as much information as possible, and sketch a storyboard to help keep you on track.

Next, you must make the storyboard. To do this, define the elements that you would like to capture in your story. For example, make profiles of characters, description of main events, the process of how it all works, some background information and any other issues related to the story. The storyboard is your basic concept of your report.

The third step is to report with the multimedia, which basically means, have all your equipment ready to capture the elements from your storyboard at the tip of your fingers. NewsU’s small activity was to figure out what things to pack and for what purposes. The activity reminds you to bring duct tape in case your tripod breaks and the camera won’t stay by itself, or bring plastic bags to cover your camera equipment in case it rains. All the equipment should fit in one case that you can access easily. The site advises to never check your camera bag but always have it with you.

Once the elements are shot at the site, the next step would be to edit it all for the web. Keep the videos short, only about one to two minutes so that people will not get bored. Don’t let people talk on and on, only a few seconds per person. Only high-quality videos should be used with an exception: using really old recordings. Because the web is a visual medium, photos are a must, and can replace many words. Text should be used for display type such as headlines and photo captions, as well as first-person stories, short updates, etc.

The last step is producing the story. Put all the elements together but build a variety of story templates. This will help the focus on report and the storytelling.

I thought this was an insightful lesson. I wish it included more elements of the different types of multimedia possible, as well a more detailed explanation of how reporters package these stories on the web, as well as through other newer mediums such as cell-phones.

Cleaning you Copy

December 5, 2007

By: Aaron Oberlin

When a writer finishes a story, it needs to be made sure it is clean.  If it is not clean, then a reader will notice.  If it happens too many times, it can frustrate a reader.  The simplest thing for a reader to do is stop reading.  When the copy is clean no one will notice, but people will notice if there are errors.
To avoid this, the NewsU class “Cleaning you Copy” taught a writer the ability to:
-Identify and solve grammatical problems in a copy.
-Pick the right word when choosing between tricky pairs such as “that/which,” “that/who” and “who/whom.”
-Use the AP correct style for addresses, ages, money and numbers.
-Identify and correct common punctuation errors.
-Correctly spell words that are tough to get right.
-Avoid typos caused by homonym trip-ups.
A “Cleaning your Copy” quiz starts the course.  The purpose of the quiz is to help the student better understand their strengths and weaknesses in copyediting.
The second part of the lesson is grammar.  It divides into sections: modifiers, pronouns, that/which, who/whom, verbs, lay/lie, contractions and parallel constructions.
The third part of the lesson is style.  Style can be seen in the papers someone types for a class.  In Advanced Reporting, the style is AP.  In some English composition classes, the style is MLA.  Some other styles include APA.    Style is important because it creates consistency.
The fourth part of the lesson is punctuation.  Punctuation sets the tone of the story, and it can help identify the writer’s voice.  It also tells a reader when to stop and pause.
The fifth part of the lesson is spelling.  It covers common misspelled words and confusing words and homonyms.
The last part of the section is the “Copy Quotient Test.”  It is a test that gives a student a chance to test what he/she learned.
The course is similar to Writing for the Mass Media at the University of South Florida. This class is better because there is not a required payment for three credit hours, and it can be done at any pace.  It covers many basics that any reporter and editor should already know.  It was a good review, which needs to be done every now and then.

Interviewing: A necessary skill for any reporter

December 5, 2007

By: Eric Moeller 

 Because I believe it is one of the most important aspects of journalism and an area in which I could use improvement, I chose to take the Poynter Institute’s News-U course on the subject of interviewing.

I found the course very engaging and full of useful information. In the course, a mock interview with a fictional city councilman provides a platform for instructor Chip Scanlan to give students tips on performing interviews and getting the most useful answers.

One of the main points made in the course is that the best interviews are those conducted in an informal, conversational tone that encourages the free flow of information.

Many times, interviews conducted by young reporters tend to resemble interrogations more than conversations, which leads to subjects becoming reluctant about giving information.

While maintaining a spontaneous, conversational setting is an important aspect of any interview, John Brady, author of The Craft of Interviewing, also believes a reporter should approach an interview like a chess match. Brady believes that — like moves in a game of chess — every question in an interview should serve a greater purpose.

The course also points out the importance of using open-ended questions that encourage long, thought-out responses as opposed to the simple yes or no questions that lead to one-word answers.

The advice that I feel applies the most to me concerns allowing the interviewee to answer questions completely. Many times, I waste too much time asking long, leading questions that end up restricting the possible responses a subject can give. This leads to short disappointing quotes that often require a great deal of set-up instead of the engaging quotes that come when a subject is given time to think of their own way of responding to a question.

Ultimately, I think the Poynter Institute’s News-U course on interviewing has given me some valuable tips on one of the most important aspects of journalism. 

Sports Story: Bulldogs get the boot, to Hawaii

December 5, 2007

Sports Story
By: Jennifer Teuber

BCS Title game Ohio State vs. LSU Jan 7, New Orleans

Rose Bowl Southern Cal vs. Illinois Jan. 1, Pasadena, Calif.

Sugar Bowl Georgia vs. Hawaii Jan. 1, New Orleans

Fiesta Bowl Oklahoma vs. West Virginia Jan. 2, Glendale, Ariz.

Capital One Bowl Florida vs. Michigan Jan. 1, Orlando

Sun Bowl USF vs. Oregon Dec. 31, El Paso, Texas

Music City Bowl Florida State vs. Kentucky Dec. 31, Nashville

Outback Bowl Wisconsin vs. Tennessee Jan. 1, Tampa

Last night, Fox News broadcast the matchups for the major bowl games, including the University of South Florida Bulls heading to El Paso, Texas to face Oregon in the Sun Bowl.

Here in Tampa, the Outback Bowl will be held on Jan. 1, with Wisconsin versus Tennessee. This will be Tennessee’s second year in Tampa, losing last year to Penn State, 20-10.

And the National title game, held in New Orleans, will be No. 1 Ohio State versus No. 2 LSU.

One of the biggest controversies surrounding the announcements was that No. 4 Georgia was chosen to play Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl.

Georgia was ranked No. 4 the weekend before the matchups were broadcast. Hawaii is the only undefeated team in the BCS this year.

That Saturday, three teams ahead in the ranking before Georgia had loses.

No.1 Missouri lost to Oklahoma 38-17 in The Big 12 Conference championship game, No. 2 West Virginia lost to Pittsburg 13-9. LSU lost to Arkansas 50-48, in triple overtime.

“How does LSU lose to an unranked Arkansas and stay in the top 10?” Plant City resident and Georgia fan Phillip Gunn said.

Gunn thinks the BCS should change to a playoff season, and that the BCS only works when there are two undefeated teams.

Even though the Nos. 1 and 2 teams lost and Georgia was idle, the Bulldogs dropped to No. 5 in the final BCS standings.

Although many agree a Georgia- Ohio State game would not be a very interesting BCS Title game, it is still utterly confusing how the BCS came to the conclusion that if three top 5 teams lose, that Georgia actually drops a position.

“Georgia drops one with out losing; LSU moves up five, that makes sense to me,” 25-year old Georgia fan Andrew Coleman said.

Gunn said he wonders how Georgia drops in the rankings without even playing.

This year has certainly been full of controversy and now talks are circulating of using playoffs for the BCS.

 “Hawaii versus Georgia–this is the National Championship game,” Coleman said.

Course reflection

December 5, 2007

Mari Muzzi

I took the course on Journalism and Trauma. Since journalists often have to interview individuals who have experienced stressful and traumatic situations. It is beneficial to be able to identify post traumatic stress and other stress related disorders when interviewing these people. Also, it is good to know this information because journalists who cover crimes, natural disasters and other traumatic situations can experience these stress disorders, as well. The course gave suggestions for interviewing people who are grieving.  Start the interview out with easy questions, such as asking the person to talk about the live of his/her lost loved one, because the story is not just about an accident or whatever the sitution, but also about the life of the decreased. Save the more difficult questions for the end, this allows the person to warm up to you. We had to interview teens from the Tampa Bay Academy of Hope for a group project for a multi media journalism class. Though the story was not about decreased loved one, we wanted to obtain personal stories from the teens and their families about the struggles that they faced and how the program had helped them. We wanted them to tell us about the poverty they experience and what it was like living in areas with higher crime. However, we were unable to get them to open up to us. They didn’t feel comfortable around us.  We should have made small talk with the teens and their parents before we started the interviews, and asked them about school, sports, something to loosen them up and make them feel more comfortable around us.

The other thing that this course discussed was ways for reporters to overcome post traumatic stress disorder by joining support groups, not taking on too many assignments, exercising, playing with children and spending time outdoors. They also talked about seeking professional help when needed. This course offered practical information for reporters in the field and learning students.    

Sports Story: Cycling with Cerebral Palsy

December 4, 2007

Cycling with Cerebral Palsy: 100 miles
By Courtney Herrig

Clayton Gandy was 30-years-old before he decided to learn how to ride a bicycle, Clayton has Cerebral Palsy (CP).  On Nov. 17 and Nov. 18, he will ride 100 miles through North Tampa and Pasco County in the Ride Without Limits event organized by United Cerebral Palsy.  Each rider agrees to raise $500 to participate in the ride, Clayton has raised $3000.

Donna Gandy knew that something wasn’t right with Clayton when he as a year old,  “ He wouldn’t even try to sit up on his own” she says with her Mississippi accent.  At 16 months of age he was officially diagnosed with CP.  Clayton has some upper extremity symptoms of CP, but the majority of his symptoms affect his lower extremities.  

Because of CP, Clayton slouches in the patio chair as we discuss his search for a bicycle. “I ordered the recumbent bicycle from Bike Works in Brandon and I had to special order the pedals. They had to fashion a guard that extends several inches from the bottom of the pedal to keep my foot from turning in – so that my foot does not unlock”. For a healthy cyclist, the rider must turn is feet inward to remove their feet from the clipless pedals.  But for Clayton his feet naturally turn in, his custom designed pedals prevent his feet from slipping out.  

Clayton is a senior majoring in computer science at the University of South Florida and was just offered a graduate assistant position to design wireless networks.  When asked about special equipment for computer use, his mother explained, “In the beginning he used voice recognition, but once he got use to the keyboard he did not need the software anymore.”  The more he used his finger muscles, the better motor skills he developed in his hands.  

People with CP develop atrophy in their muscles as they get older. Donna explains, “That is the whole problem with a child who develops CP, if they don’t ever push it and use those muscles, they will never work.  The more you use the muscles the better they will function.”

When Clayton got older he decided he had to make lifestyle changes if he was going to fight the aging effects of his disorder. Clayton has a way of speaking, the listener knows that he doesn’t use his words lightly, “It was basically a draw to become active.  I knew that I was able to balance and pedal on a stationary bike. When I began, I had no stamina at all; I could do barely any miles. With time and persistence I was able to bring my average mileage up.”

Since he began training for the Ride Without Limits event, he has noticed better movement, better muscle tone, and better strength over all. “It is also improving my gait, my knees have a tendency to draw together, turn in when I am walking. The training is giving me the strength to keep my knees apart,” Clayton explains.

Training for the average athlete is tough, but for a person with CP even the process of putting on cycling shoes and  helmet, and getting onto the bicycle is a challenge in itself.  What takes the average triathlete two minutes in transition time at an event, could take Clayton up to 15 minutes. 

 Clayton wants to be an inspiration to individuals with CP and other disabilities, “I think over all, it is attitude and will that gets me on the bike. The training will help you, but unless you have the motivation and the inspiration to do it and to overcome pain you won’t succeed.”

“He is a pretty determined dude,” says Clayton’s mother.  

Donna tells me about Clayton’s aunt who has battled breast cancer. Her doctors keep telling her that she needs to become more active.  She tells Donna that she has no excuses when she sees the effort that Clayton goes through just to get equipped for a training session.  

“I don’t think I am unique in my situation,” Clayton humbly explains.  He goes on to say that his situation is no different from someone else who is truly determined to achieve better fitness and outlook on health.  

After Clayton finishes the Ride Without Limits event, he hopes to travel to Quebec and ride the P’tit du Nord. The trail runs for 120 miles from Saint-Jérôme to Mount-Laurier on an abandoned train route.  

Fact Box
Ride Without Limits November 17th and 18th
Clayton Gandy’s Blog: