By Cheval John
When Sylvester Stallone presented the script for “Rocky” to John Avildsen back in the 70s, he did not know what to expect.
Avildsen had turned down then unknown Stallone, two previous times.
Fortunately, Avildsen decided to direct the movie and because of it, he won the Oscar and was able to share his successful career with the capacity audience in the James and Nancy Gaertner Performing Arts Center (GPAC) on the campus of Sam Houston State University (SHSU) in Huntsville, Texas.
Avildsen’s appearance was part of SHSU’s President’s Speaker Series, a yearly event that transpires in the fall and spring semesters which brings prominent leaders to campus to share a message that will have a tremendous impact on students and the Huntsville community.
The Speakers Series is underwritten by the late Lu Ellen Gibbs and have included prominent guests like David Robinson, former Astros owner Drayton McLane, Debbie Fields and many more.
This semester’s event was produced by Priority One Public Relations, an on-campus public relations service staffed by students, who provide the on-campus colleges, departments, organizations and community with PR services.
Though it is a class, the 11 students that filled this semester’s Priority One team gain practical experience on the day-to-day operations of a public relations firm that will give them a leg up in the job market after they graduate.
It really was an first class event because of the hard work and dedication that Priority One and the staff from SHSU’s Office of the President did.
Avildsen got a first-hand view of the quality production when musicians from SHSU’s School of Music played the “Rocky” intro while he and moderators, Dr. Dana Gibson, President of SHSU and Peter Roussel, Warner Chair of Journalism in the Department of Mass Communication and Priority One’s advisor, was walking towards center stage to commence the event.
From there, Avildsen shared how being persistent in achieving your goals are important and that you have to start somewhere to get the ball rolling.
He said that anyone who has the desire to become a film director have the tools and technology to do it.
Avildsen added that all they need to do is get a camera and shoot anything that interests them.
From the overwhelming success of Rocky in 1976, Avildsen directed many more successful movies.
None more successful than “The Karate Kid,” a 1984 film that went on to become another blockbuster that cemented his legacy in Hollywood and allowed the late Pat Morita to earn an Academy Award nomination.
Avildsen’s life and career is documented in the book, “The Films of John G. Avildsen: Rocky, The Karate Kid, and Other Underdogs, that was written by Tom Garrett, Associate Professor in SHSU’s Department of Mass Communication and Larry Powell.
The city of Huntsville, Texas and the SHSU community, who in a sense is an underdog, benefitted greatly from listening to Avildsen, who made a career in depicting underdogs that overcame obstacles to become successful.
As for the Priority One students, they will never forget the opportunity they received in producing an event for an Oscar winner.
Just ask Taryn Gann, one of the members of Priority One.
“I’ve learned throughout Priority One that team work is a huge factor,” Gann said. “I feel that our team at Priority One has definitely come together and we have put our heart and soul into this.”
“No college student can say that I have put on an event for a Oscar winner,” Gann added. “The experience is definitely rewarding.”
By Cheval John
Sam Houston State is really happy to have split the double-header with a top 25 team in the Baylor Bears.
The Bearkats won the first game in dramatic fashion by the score of 4-3 in 10 innings, but was mercy-ruled in the second game 12-0.
It seemed as if Sam Houston (15-17 overall) was destined for another loss after surrendering three runs in the top of the tenth inning.
However, the Bearkats dug deep and scored four runs in the bottom of the tenth to stunned the No. 12 Bears.*
Sam Houston coach Bob Brock said that in all his years of coaching, it is a rarity for a team to come back in extra innings and was really glad that it was done in front of the home crowd at the Bearkat Softball Complex in Huntsville, Texas.
“I think it’s a great situation,” Brock said. “It’s everything you dream of as a coach.
It all started in the top of the tenth inning when the Bears (24-6) scored three runs for a 3-0 lead.
First baseman Holly Holl launched a solo shot to right field to make it 1-0.
After pinch hitter Sarah Crockett hit a single down the line, catcher Robin Landrith, who came back in the game and ran for Crockett, scored the second run on a error by short stop Taylor Gray, which also allowed left fielder Christy Lisenby, who singled behind Crockett to second base.
Designated hitter Linsey Hays’ sacrifice fly tacked on the third run for the Bears.
That would have been enough for the Bears.
However, the Bearkats had other ideas in the bottom of the tenth inning.
After Gray reached first on a fielder’s choice play that got center fielder Jessica Slater, who led off with a single, out at second, second baseman Alyssa Coggins and first baseman Tori Koerselman had back-to-back singles to load the bases.
Designated player Hilary Adams followed with a walk that scored Gray from third to make it 3-1.
The next batter, right fielder Cecelia Castillo hit an RBI single to right field that brought the Bearkats within 3-2.
Third baseman Hannah Marino struck out to make it two outs, leaving catcher Tiffany Castillo with the chance to either tie the game or win it with the bases still loaded.
Castillo issued the walk that brought in Koerselman to tie the game at 3.
“I was thinking either get a base hit or walk,” Tiffany Castillo said. “I was relieved when I walked.”
Then with left fielder Amy Pelton at the plate, reliever Whitney Canion, threw a wild pitch that allowed Jenny Kieval, who pinch ran for Adams to score the walk-off run from third base that sent the crowd in a frenzy.
“I knew she had trouble hitting her spot,” Kieval said of Canion, who suffered the loss for the Bears. “When I saw that it was a pass ball, I just went hoping I was safe.”
It was a pitching duel between Bearkat starter Shelby Lancaster, who went 7 2/3 innings with the no-decision and Bears starter Heather Stearns, who also got the no-decision and pitched 5 2/3 innings.
Reliever Haley Baros pitched 2 1/3 inning and got her sixth win of the season.
Lancaster, who came into the game with a 4.23 era, held the Bears to only four hits.
Of course, great defense was what allowed Lancaster to do well.
Baylor was looking to break the scoreless tie in the top of the fourth.
Lindsey Hays led off the fourth with a double and advance to third on a wild pitch by starting pitcher Shelby Lancaster.
After Smith grounded out for the first out, Strickland hit a fly ball to center field that was caught by Jessica Slater.
Hays, tagging up, head for the plate, but Slater’s threw her out at the plate to end the threat.
In the top of the sixth, left fielder Jill Reid led off with an infield single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Thumann.
Lancaster got out of the jam as pinch hitter, Clare Hosack lined out to Gray and the short stop stepped on second base for the double play after Reid was caught napping to end the threat.
“I think our defense played very well,” Brock said. “We were good in all phases.”
The Bears responded in the second game with a vengeance as they mercy-rule the Bearkats by the score of 12-0.
Baylor exploded with three home runs in the game and a 10 run fourth inning.
Though the Bears rebounded big time in the second game, they will not forget the way how they lost the first game of the double-header.
As for the Bearkats, they feel that it was a confidence boost that they needed for the rest of the season.
“It will give us a lot more confidence,” Tiffany Castillo said. “I have confidence in our team.”
Sam Houston travels to Beaumont for a three-game series with Lamar beginning on Saturday.
*First video courtesy of Cameron Bunch
By Cheval John
Students from the Department of Art at Sam Houston State University took their talents to a whole new level with the grand opening of the SHSU Student Gallery in Huntsville, Texas.
The 1,450 square-foot gallery is an expansion of the on-campus Gaddis Geeslin Gallery that gives them the opportunity to display their works to the wider community.
Of course, to be able to say that you had the opportunity to curate for the grand opening is something that a person can show on their resume.
The students from the “Museum and Gallery Practices” class, taught by associate professor and chair of the department Michael Henderson*, curated the “Zeitgeist” works for the opening.
In addition to the curation, the class along with the Student Art Association* renovated the building which took several months
The art from “Zeitgeist” will be in the gallery until March 29th.
Here is a clip from the grand opening of the gallery:
*In the video
*Vice President of the Student Art Association is in the video
By Cheval John
The Sam Houston State softball team took advantage of their spring break from Southland Conference play with a double-header sweep of the University of Texas-San Antonio by the scores of 7-3 and 4-3 at the Bearkat Softball Complex in Huntsville, Texas.
The capacity crowd of 337 saw tremendous pitching from the Bearkats (10-10 overall, 1-2 SLC play).
Designated player Hilary Adams went a combined 3 for 5 with three RBIs.
First baseman Sarah Allison had a great day as well with a 2 for 5 performance and four RBIs.
Reliever Tayler Atkinson pitched 2/3 innings in the first game and got her second win of the season.
Atkinson came in relief of starting pitcher, Shelby Lancaster, who went 5 1/3 innings with the no-decision.
Sam Houston scored two runs in the bottom of the fourth for a 2-0 lead.
Second baseman Alyssa Coggins and right fielder Cecelia Castillo had back-to-back singles with one out.
The next batter, Adams, hit a bloop single that scored Coggins from second for the 1-0 lead.
Castillo scored the second run on a suicide squeeze play by Tori Koerselman.
Tiffany Castillo’s infield RBI single capped the inning.
UTSA (11-14) struck swiftly with three runs in the top of the sixth to tie the game at 3.
Designated player Jori Fox started it with a two run jack to left field.
Catcher Tess Soetje followed with a single and stole second base.
She advanced to third on a wild pitch by Atkinson and scored the tying run an a single by pinch hitter Randee Crawford.
The Bearkats responded with a four run explosion in the bottom of the 6th to make it 7-3.
With runners on first and second courtesy of back-to-back singles by Coggins and Cecelia Castillo, Dani Allen, who pinched ran for Adams earlier, hit a single up the middle that scored Coggins from second.
After Koerselman hit a single that loaded the bases, Tiffany Castillo followed with an RBI ground out that scored her sister, Cecelia, from third base.
The next batter, Allison hit a two run single that capped the four inning.
“I was just thinking of hitting the ball and I just did my job,” Allen said of the go-ahead single.
It took a walk-off, bunt single by Adams to help the Bearkats defeat the Roadrunners 4-3 to secure the double-header sweep.
Both teams left eight runners on base.
However, it hurt the Roadrunners even more as they had an opportunity in the seventh inning to take their first lead of the game.
Center fielder Jade Smith and first baseman Megan Low, who had a solo home run in the game, opened the inning with back-to-back singles.
Both runners advanced to second and third, respectively, on a ground out by Fox.
Baros, who came in relief of starting pitcher, Meme Quinn and got her fourth win of the season, had other ideas as she forced two consecutive ground outs to end the threat.
Sam Houston saw their opportunity and took advantage of it in the bottom of the seventh inning when Coggins reached first on an error by short stop Courtney Buchman.
A fielder’s choice play allowed short stop Tayler Gray to reach first while Coggins advanced to second base.
Cecelia Castillo’s ground out to first put both Gray and Coggins into scoring position at second and third, respectively.
Coggins was racing towards home plate when Adams laid down the bunt that allowed her to score the winning run easily.
Sam Houston travels to San Marcos to face Texas State later today at 2 p.m before resuming conference play against Southeastern Louisiana in Hammond, LA in a three-game series beginning on Saturday.
By Cheval John
Though it was Spring Break, a capacity crowd of 848 was out on a beautiful Tuesday at Don Sanders Stadium in Huntsville, Texas to watch a midweek baseball game.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t pretty for No.18 Sam Houston State as they lost to the University of Texas-San Antonio (UTSA) 9-2.
UTSA’s (12-5) offense was on fire as they totaled 15 hits.
Catcher John Bormann, who came into the game with 0 home runs and two RBIs, went two for four with 2 home runs and five RBIs.
Logan Onda pitched 4 2/3 innings in relief and secured his second win of the season.
It was the opposite of what this video* shows below for Sam Houston (13-4) as they got 11 hits, but left 9 runners on base.
The Bearkats used seven pitchers in the matchup with starter Ryan Brinley suffering his first loss of the season.
UTSA struck for two runs in the top of the first for a 2-0 lead.
Right fielder John Welborn led off the game with a double and advanced to third on an error by right fielder Hayden Simerly.
Welborn scored on the infield single by center fielder Jesse Baker, who beat out the throw at first and advanced to second on the throwing error by short stop Jake MacWilliam.
A batter later, Baker was driven in from second on a double by short stop Horacio Correa III.
Sam Houston was threatening in the bottom of the first when center fielder Colt Atwood led off with a single and first baseman Ryan O’Hearn followed with a walk.
However, starting pitcher Boone Mokry got catcher Anthony Azar to fly out, Simerly to hit into a fielder’s choice play and third baseman Carter Burgess to fly out to end the threat.
That allowed the Roadrunners to explode for a 5-0 lead in the top of the third on a three-run, home run by Bormann.
It only got worse as UTSA increased their lead to 7-0 in the top of the fifth inning on a two-run jack by Bormann.
Sam Houston were able to get on the board in the bottom of the fifth to cut the lead to 7-1.
Designated Hitter Dalton Perry led off with a single and a batter later, Atwood hit a single up the middle and an error by Baker allowed Perry to score all the way from first.
That didn’t fazed the Roadrunners as they increased their lead to 8-1 in the top of the sixth inning on a RBI single by R.J. Perucki.
UTSA tacked on another run in the top of the seventh for a 9-1 lead on a throwing error by the Bearkats.
Sam Houston added another run in the bottom of the seventh to make it 9-2 on a RBI single by Azar.
But the damage was already done as Onda kept the Bearkats silenced in the final two innings to secure the win.
The Bearkats looks to rebound in their Southland Conference’s series opener against the University of New Orleans in New Orleans this Friday night at 6:30 p.m.
*Video courtesy of the Southland Conference via Bearkat Sports Network