interview

Q & A with Author Abbey Lenzie

Q & A with Author Abbey Lenzie

On November the 8th at 3:30 in Harbert Auditorium, Birmingham-Southern (BSC) graduate will be speaking about her recently published, award-winning novella, In the Desert. Abbey Lenzie (class of 2013) majored in Media and Film Studies and minored in creative writing. Her novella recently won the 2018 Plaza Literary Prize. Before coming to her event on Thursday, Bagheera asked her a few questions.

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Senior Spotlight: Ashley Vann

Senior Spotlight: Ashley Vann

Before Graduation, Vann Designed an Experiment to Test Self Esteem's Influence on Bystander Intervention

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Splash Into SOCO

Escaping Finals with a Weekend Filled with Music and Fun

Our school’s annual SOCO concert will be held May 5th and 6th and will continue the two day event format that was tested out last year. This year, Residence Life and the Interfraternity Council (IFC) have planned a small change to add to the event. SOCO Splash, a daytime event centered on waterslides, will be held on the fraternity row to help make all of the activities of the day more fluid.

“Previously, SOCO Splash, which was introduced last year, was on the Residence Quad,” Allen Doyle, the IFC president, said. “[We thought that] the attendance of both would go up if it was at the same location. We didn’t want to split up the crowd.”

By adding the location of fraternity row to the event, there is now the opportunity to have band parties with live music to help amp up the atmosphere. Residence Life and IFC hope to bring the two interests in music and outdoor water activities together to appeal to more students.

“I’m super into water, slides, music, friends, [and] food,” Doyle said. “It’s my five favorite things all in the same place.”

Photo via Avery Bottom

Photo via Avery Bottom

The concert itself is being put on by the Quest II director of concerts Clayton Crawford and assistant director Divya Desai. Beyond the responsibilities of logistics and budgeting, the well-known role of director is choosing the artists that will perform.

“I know a lot of people wonder why we get certain artists,” Crawford said. “It all depends on who is available, who fits our pretty-small-for-a-concert budget, and, probably worst of all, what administration will allow us to do.”

Even though this is a show for college-aged students, artists are still expected to do a clean show because they are being paid and sponsored by a Methodist-affiliated school. This, along with a modest budget, limits who can be brought to campus.

“We had an artist that I really wanted, and it seemed like a lot of people really wanted, but, when we floated [his] name past administration, there were reservations about some of the themes,” Crawford said. “The shows are supposed to be PG-13/radio friendly, and a lot of music that’s really popular with people at our school doesn’t fit that bill. That’s probably the hardest obstacle to overcome.”

This need to fit certain requirements already puts a strain on the possibility of musical acts that are allowed to come to campus. Beyond these limitations, the concert directors have to find artists that will please the majority of students. The new structure of making SOCO a two day event offers the ability to have two different groups to appease the musical tastes of those who prefer either DJ or live music.

“We are trying to book different genres and not just target one audience,” Desai said. “It’s really important to try to include everyone on campus.”

These two artists, along with the bands that will perform during SOCO Splash, will offer something for every student. While the artists themselves have not been released at this time, Quest II promises that they have been deliberate in choosing groups that will make this year’s event enjoyable to all.

“We’ve worked really hard,” Desai said. “It would be awesome if we could have a big turnout for SOCO.”

Feature photo via Trinity Kubassek

An Interview With Hallie Vanderhider

The Oil and Gas Executive Gives Stump Lecture

Hallie Vanderhider, managing director with SFC Energy Partners, a Denver-based private equity firm focused on the upstream sector of the oil and gas industry, received a BBA in accounting from the University of Texas at Austin. Straight out of college she worked for Deloitte, a public accounting firm, auditing both private and public companies.

“I thought this was a great training ground because I have really learned to get a grasp on what financial statements mean and how to read them and what they can tell you about a company, but I [did not] want to do this forever," Vanderhider said. "This is not that fun now that I [understand] it. I [wanted] to do something more.” So, she decided to leave Deloitte and go work with one of her clients, which was a publicly traded oil and gas company.

“Right after I started, we were suspended by the SEC for late filing," Vanderhider said. "Then, unfortunately, we had the oil crash of 1986, and we weren’t going to survive. We did some interim financing to keep us alive until we could sell what we could of the company. Right when we were doing this, I had twins.”

Originally, Ms. Vanderhider had planned to stay home with the twins, but the company asked her to come back for a few months to help them sell. It ended up taking a year to sell due to complicated transactions, but Ms. Vanderhider said, "I was fortunate that after that I did stay home for four years with my boys, which were probably the best four years of my life. Then I learned I was going to be a single mom, so I thought I needed to get a job.”

A previous contact from Deloitte offered Vanderhider a job with a private equity firm. She decided to leave auditing to do financial planning because she wanted to become a CFO. This is how she got involved with oil and gas private equity and later moved to Blackstone Minerals, which used to be private. “We moved from 220 million in value to 4 billion over the 10 years that I was there,” Ms. Vanderhider explained.

 Vanderhider decided that she wanted to run a company and that private equity was the best way to do this. As she made her way up the ladder, Vanderhider gained a lot of insight into how a business works.  “[I got to] see so many different aspects of the life cycle of a business from cradle to grave," Vanderhider said. "It was a really interesting time in my career and a chance for me to do a lot of things that I really hadn’t been involved with before so that was a lot of fun. And then I got diagnosed with cancer."

After her diagnosis with cancer, Vanderhider decided to retire and seek treatment at MD Anderson in Houston. “I am happy to say that after surgery and radiation I am cancer free,” Vanderhider assured.

This time allowed for Vanderhider to embark on an interim during which she decided to start a boutique investment banking firm. "I thought it would be a good idea to try and do foreign direct investment between China and the U.S.,” Vanderhider said. The investment banking firm did not have any money and did not have any clients. "It took us a little over a year, but we finally did sell a company out of California to a state-owned enterprise in China.”

Vanderhider and her partner’s Chinese counterparts were not aware that the partner could speak fluent Mandarin, so Vanderhider and her partner were privy to several impolite comments made with regards to her scope of experience and gender. “Language wasn’t the only barrier; the significant cultural differences between men and women and what roles they play was quite a challenge," Vanderhider said. "I can’t tell you how many times they would ask me to get them coffee, and they would say ‘Where is the President?’ and I would say, ‘Well, that’s me.’”

Vanderhider has had many challenges in the male-dominated world of business but has handled obstacles with dignity. “A lot of women don’t make it to the top, [and] a lot of women deselect themselves," Vanderhider said. "Sometimes there is a bias that’s hard to overcome.” However, Vanderhider and her colleagues have found community within each other. “I’m part of the Executive Women’s Partnership of Houston, and we’ve bonded pretty significantly. There are about 200 of us, and you have to be the CEO of a company of a certain size to be included in the organization.”

Currently, Vanderhider has started changing her career to start serving on public company boards, and she would like to be on at least three, in addition to possibly exploring something other than oil and gas.

“[The] thing that’s most important to me throughout my career is always moving to something that’s a new challenge,” Vanderhider said. “Each time I’ve moved from one job to another… it’s been to learn something new or to play a different role or to see something through a different lens because I think the broader your background, the more value you add to any situation.”

Feature photo via Wynter Byrd

Back Again

Men's Track and Field Attempts to Repeat Conference Title

Last season, the BSC Men’s Outdoor Track & Field team set the standard. In 2016, BSC won the conference meet by 87.5 points and qualified two athletes for NCAA Nationals. Jamal Watkins (60-Meter Dash) and Cameron Luster (Triple Jump) qualified for Nationals during the regular season, which sent them to championship this past summer. A month before competing at nationals, Watkins and Luster assisted the Panthers’ sizable victory and scored 50 combined points at the conference meet. Why is that significant? The men’s team won the conference title by almost 90 points, but the two national qualifying athlete’s scored 50 of them. If Watkins and Luster rested themselves during the conference championship for a later date, the Panthers would likely still have proven victorious.

Dominance comes in all shapes and sizes, but in this case, it comes in a 34-man roster. In addition to Watkins and Luster, Coach Kenneth Cox’s group contains nationally-recognized cross country runners, throwers, and a pole vaulter. Throwers Kameren Morgan and Michael Snow both look to repeat their conference titles in the hammer throw and shotput, respectively. Distance runners Chris Roberts and Tim McOmber competed for the DIII Cross Country National Championship last fall, and this experience prepared them for record breaking 5k and steeplechase performances this season. Pole Vaulter David Harrison Campbell has improved his personal best time on several occasions this season with high aspirations of medaling at the conference meet. With every event group returning almost all of its athletes, a championship repeat seems all but guaranteed. Coach Cox believes differently. 

"I am not content with what we did last year. We celebrated the conference victory, but if we want to be the best in the nation we have to be consistent." When asked about the program’s progression, Cox continues, “We have the potential to be greater than we were last year. The progression isn’t over at all, but we need to continue to strive for excellence.”

Full of Falafel

Exploring a Cultural Café

By 10:15 a.m. on Monday, I had learned a few things.  That morning my father and I walked into the Mediterranean restaurant only a few minutes after its 10 a.m. opening.  We were the only customers; the only employee we saw stood behind a glass counter, his hands a flurry of action — shaping scoops of a green mash into fritters about the size and shape of meatballs.  I watched him work for a few minutes before I realized I was seeing the restaurant’s namesake fare.

Before my first visit to the Falafel Café, on 19th Street South in Downtown Birmingham, I had no idea what a falafel was; I assumed it was some kind of French pastry.  That tells you how much I know about international cuisine.  I later found out that falafel is actually a deep-fried ball of mashed chickpeas— similar in texture to a hushpuppy.  Chickpeas are also found in hummus, however the ground chickpeas in falafel are green because they are picked from the vine early.  The falafel comes out tasting earthy, fresh and savory with a crisp layer on the outside.

My father and I introduced ourselves, and the man identified himself as Moses Hassan, the owner of the Falafel Café: a small restaurant with that serves delicious Mediterranean food.  The menu was loaded with different types of meats, dips, sides— and of course, falafel.  We watched him expertly strip the chicken and lamb meat away from a broiler and arrange it on our plates.  Every menu item was looking incredibly fresh and colorfully laid out behind the glass in front of us.  The first item we had to choose served as a base for the meat; it was the option of rice with lentils or rice without lentils.  I chose lentils because I did not even know what lentils were, and they looked delicious (plus one of my favorite songs is called “Lentil” by Sia).  As Moses loaded our plates, I asked if I could interview him briefly.  Moses was hesitant, but he complied.  I made it clear that I was not there to necessarily critique the food— just to give the story behind the food and the restaurant.  I asked him about the history of the restaurant and he said, “I was running the same exact restaurant in Bethlehem before I moved to America.”  He brought the authenticity of his Mediterranean food all the way to Birmingham.  Lucky us!  The restaurant quickly became a dining hotspot for workers at the nearby hospital and students at the local university.  He’s been in Birmingham for 20 years and loves owning a restaurant where he can serve quality food.

“What is the hardest part about owning a restaurant?” I asked.

Moses said, “Finding good help!  It’s hard to hire people and keep them here.”

All this was said before a young employee entered the restaurant to help Moses.  However, it looked like Moses was handling the job with such expertise that he did not need a second pair of hands behind the counter.  The rainbow of toppings behind the counter left us no choice but to inquire into the details of each.  The options included chopped salad, Jerusalem salad, red cabbage salad, sumac onions, tahini sauce, garlic sauce, shatta and pickles.  Each of the salad sides were similar but varied in spiciness.  I requested the most popular topping, and Moses graced my plate with the red cabbage salad.  We also could not pass up a plate of falafel and authentic hummus with pita bread.  When my father and I received our plates, we marveled at how colorful it looked and how fresh it smelled.  We had so many different foods in front of us; it was hard to know where to start.  Since the restaurant is called the Falafel Café, we insisted on beginning with our first ever taste of golden brown Mediterranean hushpuppies.  Our plate of falafel was served with a delicious dipping sauce called tahini which the owner described as sesame seed paste.  The outside of the falafel was perfectly crisp, and inside of the falafel was the ground and seasoned green chickpeas.  The dipping sauce was cool and complemented the warm falafel perfectly.  Both the chicken and lamb meat were presented beautifully on the rice and lentils; the meat was perfectly cooked.  Our plate of pita bread was decidedly the sweetest tasting pita bread we have ever tasted.  The bread came with hummus that was decadently placed on the plate and decorated with paprika and a garnish.

Moses continually checked to see if we were enjoying the food, and, of course, we were.  There is so much culture around us eating to be consumed and appreciated—  who knew this tiny foreign restaurant could cater so well to our cravings?

So What?

Visiting MFS Instructor Robert Corna Speaks about the Meaning of Movies

If you walk down the coffee-stained steps on the first floor of Berte Humanities Center, pass hackneyed beige sofas, and take a left by solitary vending machines, you may wind up near Humanities 127, the office of one of two visiting Media and Film Studies instructors, Robert Corna.

Corna moved to Birmingham from LA after BSC’s search for a production teacher for the 2016-17 school year. When BSC offered Corna the job, they also told him he had to be there in three weeks.

“I packed up my U-Haul, drove cross-country, and got [to Birmingam] the day before I started working,” Corna says.

He teaches Production II, Screenwriting, and a special class topic on Spielberg during the 2017 spring term.

Corna received his MFA from the School of Cinematic Arts at University of Southern California. Before USC, he received his BA from The College of Wooster in 1994--a small, private liberal arts college similar to BSC.

“After my undergraduate degree in film, I started as an intern in New York and worked my way up,” Corna says.

While his 17-year experience in the film industry includes working on feature films such as Gangs of New York as the Production Assistant and both The Avengers and Fast and Furious 8 as the Location Manager, some of Corna’s most rewarding projects have been documentaries.

A Smile for Bow, released in 2014 and directed by Corna, follows a Thai teenager with Fetal Alcoholic Syndrome (FAS) and HIV as she journeys to the United States for restorative treatment.

“Camp Dreamcatcher and I got together and found a place in America for her to have a surgery,” Corna says. “It changed her life. It meant so much to do a movie like that.”

Corna finds meaning not only edifying but also essential for making successful films. Thankfully, in a field revolving around storytelling, it is not difficult to make something, even out of nothing.

“My dad was a storyteller. He was great at exaggerating stories--that's what films are,” Corna says. “[Films can] take a true story and totally make it their own.”

One time his father took him to watch Alien, thinking it was like Star Wars. It didn’t take him long to realize his mistake.

“One of the scariest things in movies to this day is when that alien jumped out of the guy’s stomach and raced across the table,” Corna says. “We saw it just after eating pizza! I was freaking out.”

While he teaches the skills essential to filmmaking, such as communication, three-point lighting and goal setting, Corna wants his students to remember that sometimes the best films are ones like Alien that take a simple idea and convert it into a meaningful story.

In his office filled with posters from his documentaries, it is clear to see that Corna has taken his own advice.

“I’m here for a year,” says Corna. “I want my students to work hard, to be the best, [and] to change the world. That’s what movie making is all about.”

A Change in Leadership for BSC Bands

New band director takes on big role as she pushes forward with bands

Hill Music Building, the home of Birmingham-Southern’s music department, gained a new member of its faculty this year as Ginger Zingara took over as Director of Bands. Zingara directed the marching band this past fall and created a new half-time show performance. She also put on the first winter concert in the fall semester and is in the midst of working on a concert for the spring, too.

“I really love the students," Zingara said. "They’re very dedicated, very intelligent, and have a very positive attitude about everything.” She said these students were crucial in helping her overcome her biggest challenge with coming to the school: the liberal arts component. “I grew up in state schools and [only] taught at state schools," Zingara said. "So this was my first experience with liberal arts."

While adding the liberal arts component to her teaching was an adjustment, Zingara feels that she has found her place here at BSC and hopes to keep improving the school’s music programs. “[My] major goal is to recruit kids and be able to play all types of music,” Zingara said. “[I want to] increase numbers, increase abilities, go off campus more often, and get our name out there.”

Also, with such a wide appreciation for music, Zingara feels that any performance that she works on is enjoyable. Though Zingara often uses Herbie Hancock pieces with the jazz band, she has directed numerous romantic era pieces by Franz Schubert or Tchaikovsky with the Red Mountain Orchestra, a group that also rehearses on BSC's campus. “I love the marching stuff, [and] I love presenting concerts with the symphonic and jazz band. It's all good,” Zingara said. "It's like picking a [favorite] child."

Even though Zingara is working with a small band, she continues to push the envelope of what a band concert should look like. The symphonic band is currently working on its next concert, which will be preformed on May 1st in the Hill Amphitheater. The concert will feature a presentation of music from around the world, accompanied by pictures from the music’s home country. In addition, there will also be food trucks from the featured countries and a special performance of world instruments by a local musician. "I'm really looking forward to that," Zingara said. "It should bring in all types of people and all types of food.”

You can support the band in the Hill Amphitheater on May 1st for its world music spotlight, see the jazz band's performance at the Norton fountain on May 10th, and find them on Facebook to keep up year round.

On the Prowl

Panthers seek to cap off another record breaking season

The Birmingham-Southern Men’s Basketball team came up one game short of another SAA conference championship this year. However, the Panthers did not have the season they had hoped to have, as they were 12-13 overall when they headed into the tournament and ended the season 14-14. This year’s team, led by 5 experienced seniors, faced a lot of adversity this season, but they continued to fight.

Assistant coach Zack Richards said, “This season has really been about overcoming adversity and staying true to the course, staying true to who each player is, and staying true to who we are as a program.” Although the team faced many tough challenges this season, the coaches are still very optimistic about the team.  “We have such high character guys that when it gets hard, they don’t let it get to them; they continue to push,” Coach Richards said.

Birmingham-Southern had a huge win against Millsaps going into the tournament, as they defeated the Majors 74-58. This win showed that championships in basketball are not about how good the team is during the season; they are about how good the team is at the end of the season. The Panthers had a ton of returning players from last year’s conference championship team, which made a huge impact in the team's confidence during this year’s tournament. They had experienced coaches, experienced players, and a fresh, young bench.

 “With five seniors and several other returners from last year's championship team, I believe we [were] poised to make another run at a conference championship,” Senior guard Alex Perkins said.

 The men's team was able to make it to the final round of the SAA Conference Championship and went up against Rhodes for the title. After a long fought game, the Panthers lost by just three points. While they did not win the championship, the men's team rounded out their season with several good games, and it looks forward to the chance to bring back a trophy next year.

Residence Life Implements New Housing Selection System

Hopes to create a more fair and efficient system bring a new process into play

Last year the student body received an email from the Office of Residence Life, notifying them that the housing selection process had changed. Instead of a group’s highest lottery number determining when they would pick housing, it would then be the lowest. This occurred only a few days from selection, which caused backlash from students and made Residence Life realize that a change could not happen with such a short notice. However, students were assured that change would come the next year. That change is now here, but this time, Residence Life teamed up with SGA to improve the process.

“The Office of Residence Life is excited to move the Housing Selection process into the 21st  century by ending the tired and stressful process of conducting housing selection in one night in the Great Hall,” W. David Miller said. With a new housing portal acquired by Residence Life, students will be able to complete the process anywhere with an Internet connection. Only one member of the group will need to fill everything out, which will allow students with meetings or practices to stay on schedule.

Perhaps Miller’s largest change is how lottery numbers will be used. Instead of students selecting housing with the highest or lowest lottery number in their group, all group lottery numbers will now be averaged. Miller hopes that this will prevent large numbers of underclassmen from taking upperclassman housing while also giving groups with lower numbers a fair shot.

The new system was presented at an SGA Town Hall last semester, and it was met with favorable reviews. “During that forum, several students posed questions about the process, and Residence Life provided clarification and took that feedback into account to develop the new system,” Miller said. “The feedback from students at the forum was overwhelmingly positive.”

He hopes that this system will answer longstanding problems with housing selection while staying as fair as possible. “I know it won’t be perfect, and, for that, I apologize in advance,” Miller said. “All I ask is for students to give it a fair chance and recognize we have their best interest in mind and truly want to create a process that is equitable and less stressful than previous processes.”

The housing application will become available on March 1st. Room selection will occur April 3rd-14th.

Row Woes

The Pros and Cons of Common Source

Earlier this semester, the school’s administration introduced measures to punish fraternities for serving common source alcohol. Seeing as BSC is a wet campus, students are unsure of how these rules may affect the fraternity functions that have traditionally served alcohol for the past several years.

Kyle Lo Porto, Assistant Director of Student Activities, explains that "common source is when an organization provides alcohol to a guest at their event.” He went on to say that common source tends to appear often at open fraternity parties, where organizations feel they need some way to draw guests to their events.

While the school is able to give this clear-cut definition of common source, some students are confused by the change of rules. Since the administration has changed its stance on the subject, some students are hesitant to believe that the rules are as straightforward as they appear to be.

 "Common source has been redefined several times by our school, and the student handbook shows their lack of clarity, in a sense," an anonymous fraternity member says. "Birmingham-Southern College has started incorporating any distribution of alcohol, at all, even when the organization is not implicitly purchasing or distributing the alcohol. When one container of alcohol is handed to another person, that is affiliated with the organization, [and] that is [now defined as] common source."

Historically, the administration has always been opposed to common source alcohol, but punishments were varied due to a lack of precedent in the handbook. Greek conduct boards (made up of all 6 fraternity presidents, plus the Interfraternity Council [IFC] VP of Judiciary, IFC President, and Kyle Lo Porto) would hold hearings and hand out punishments as they saw fit. The new rule incorporates punishments for fraternities that serve common source, which includes losing three events and being put on probation for the remainder of the term and the next term for the first offense. If there is a probation violation, then there is a risk of the house being shutdown. It seems that one of the biggest changes for the fraternities is working with sororities to have them refuse common source and report it when they see it, a rule the presidents all agreed to adopt.

"It is a very tough situation since it is such a long history for certain events," Lo Porto says. "Everybody pledged to stop expecting it from sorority side of things and [for fraternities] to stop providing it."

From a risk management standpoint, there is a concern that banning common source alcohol at parties, like mixed drinks and beers, prevents organizations from controlling how much alcohol is being consumed at parties and makes it harder to cut people off. In addition, this ban may encourage activities like pre-gaming and bringing hard liquor into events. Furthermore, there is concern that the ban on common source simply will not stick and that it will get even further out of hand.

"The biggest problem is that there is a row mentality, where all six fraternities feed off each other in order to sustain the social image at BSC," the anonymous fraternity member says. "So if one frat decides to follow a certain policy, unless all the fraternities are also following, it will very likely hurt their social scene and not be a benefit to the greater Greek community."

Feature photo by jamesomalley via Flickr.

All About Rowdy Cash

Incorporating a New Form of Payment into the BSC Community

Why was Rowdy Cash started?

Dr. David Eberhardt, VP of Student Development, explains, “There’s been a concern for a while that the college, by allowing a student to swipe their card to buy a t-shirt, was being a credit card company. The transaction process gets to the bookstore; the bookstore then sends it over to student accounts; [then], it gets put on your student account," Eberhardt says. "There was this really delayed process of when you’re getting something and when you’re purchasing it.”

How does Rowdy Cash work?

“Panther bucks are a declining balance that you have already paid for, and the college has paid to Aramark, so it really isn’t your money anymore. It’s just a balance that the college is essentially holding in your name,” Eberhardt clarifies. “The difference, now, is that it goes immediately to a student account of yours: your Rowdy cash account.”

Before Rowdy Cash, organizations mainly charged purchases to student accounts. Now, organizations are incorporating Square to use credit cards and are adding Venmo as a form of payment. Although student organizations will benefit in the long run, student organization leaders like Pi Beta Phi chapter president Samantha Grindell recognizes that there will be some growing pains before those benefits are reached.

“The challenge with Rowdy Cash is that people just don't have it. We can't make money off of the items we're selling if people don't have money to pay for them," Grindell says. "Rowdy Cash would work extremely well if people had it, but a lot of people aren't willing to put $100 into an account [if] they don't know they will use [it].”

The lack of students using Rowdy Cash is affecting the fundraiser and merchandise sales of practically all student organizations, including Relay for Life, the Harrison Honors Program, and the Art Students League. Dala Eloubeidi, President of Alpha Epsilon Delta, has seen Rowdy Cash affect what used to be her organization's staple fundraiser.

“AED usually raises close to $200 for our lemonade stand, but, this semester, we raised $25,” Eloubeidi says. “AED has decided to cancel the on-campus bake sale for Spirit of Luke. Instead, we have decided to raise money by hosting a percentage night at a local restaurant.”

What else should you know?

You can easily go onto the BSC website and use your credit card or debit card to add $50 or $100 to your Rowdy Cash account. Rowdy Cash rolls over until you graduate BSC, at which time it is refundable.

“People are just resistant to change, and the fact that the system wasn't easy to understand at first made it harder," Grindell says. "Once it becomes the norm, people won't even think about Rowdy Cash anymore because it'll be so ingrained in their BSC lives."

Feature photo via Micayla Edler.

The Start of a New Era

Changing the Head Coaching Position for the Football Team

As the football season came to a close, Athletic Director Kyndall Waters announced that former Head Coach Eddie Garfinkle was to be relieved of his position following the end of the season. Coach Garfinkle was allowed to finish the season out of respect for his nine years of dedication and relentless hard work for the football program.

The following days brought a sense of unease and unknowing for what most of the football team would describe as anxious anticipation for what lies ahead. Waters helped relieve some of these concerns by announcing that Tony Joe White has been named the new head coach for the next season.

“We obviously [were] looking for someone who can win us ball games, someone with a proven success record,” Waters says. “But also someone who cares about our student athletes, engages in a family environment, and is enthusiastic, energetic, and positive.”

This positive energy is important in reviving the football team due to some of the issues that our athletes struggled with this past year. Practices tended to be monotonous, and energy and motivation was low. The team felt as though it was in a rut.

“We do the same thing every day," football captain Jalon Hollie says. "This past season was really silent, really quiet, and we had to bring the energy ourselves, which is very hard to do, especially when coming straight from academics to football.”

In looking towards the future, Waters is hopeful for a successful football program. This success is centered on successful coaching.

“To me, a successful coach is someone who can recruit student athletes, engage them, and more importantly, retain them. [I would also like to see] someone who can make our student athletes feel like every single time they compete, they have a chance to win,” Waters says. “It does not necessarily mean that we have to win the conference every year, but having a chance to be a competitor for a conference championship is very important and, to me, is what a successful BSC football program is.”

Even further down the road, Waters is hopeful that the new program and the new head coach will lead the Birmingham-Southern football team to compete on the National level.   

Feature photo via Angela Petulla