Fan of the Week
By Kyle Keck & Casey Allen
For the past couple weeks, a new and exciting event has taken place in Taylor athletics: the Fan of the Week award.
Taylor University’s Athletic Department has decided that it is time to reward the dedication and enthusiasm of the fans that come and support Trojan athletics. The student named Fan of the Week is interviewed and given an array of prizes. The first recipient of the award was none other than Jonathan Smith.
“I won a Game Day t-shirt, a rain poncho, and a portable USB charger.” Smith said.
There are many different reasons why fans come to games. Some fans come for entertainment, food, school spirit, or because they just have nothing else to do. But for Smith, coming to games has a deeper meaning than just being a proud Trojan.
“I get to cheer on the people of Taylor,” Smith said. “My people. People who are special to me both individually and as a whole.”
For those who have witnessed Smith at Taylor athletic events know that passionate is not enough to describe how he cheers. Smith can be seen at the Taylor football games running the length of the field, waving the purple Trojans flag triumphantly in hopes of creating a raucous cheering section. Although his methods may seem crazy and outgoing, there is a reason behind his madness.
“My teams need someone to make some noise, to cheer them, to wake them up occasionally,” Smith said. “But what they need most of all is to know that at least someone in that crowd loves them and will follow them, with all their heart and soul, to whatever end.”
Smith’s heart and soul bleeds purple and gold, and it is evident through his desire to support the Taylor athletes. The Fan of the Week award is not only focused towards the most passionate fan of that week, but to the fan who understands the impact that the athletic teams make on the university. Smith may understand and respect that more than any who wins the award.
“While most of us finish class and then have plenty of time to get our homework done, the athletes don't have that luxury,” Smith said. “They sacrifice their time and energy working toward levels of greatness the rest of us dream about.”
Though Smith’s fandom trumps many fans across the country, the opportunity to win Fan of the Week is reestablished each week. As the fall sports come to a close and the winter sports loom, the title of Fan of the Week awaits its next beholder.
By Kyle Keck & Casey Allen
Taylor Athletics has several home sporting events every single week. However, aside from rivalry matches between Taylor and Indiana Wesleyan, or the highly anticipated annual Silent Night, the stands are too often found empty.
“It’s disappointing,” Denae Kohler said, a junior on the Taylor Volleyball team. “I would love to see more students get involved.”
Although games are announced via email, word of the events often never even reaches the students. Many people simply do not take the time to read through the daily announcements.
“I don’t go to games,” sophomore Taylor student Katie Morgan said. “I’ve been to maybe two. I just never hear about them.”
The athletes on campus thrive off of the support from their fellow classmates. Being able to showcase in games the hard work that everyone does not see behind the scenes to their peers is something that Taylor athletes take pride in. Because of the commitment and hard physical work that the athletes grind out in Taylor’s name, it helps them feel appreciated when students attend their games. Sophomore men’s soccer player, Andrew Luetekehans, feels the same way.
“Men’s soccer does draw a pretty good crowd, which is nice, but there is always room for more,” Luetkehans said. “Having friends you know in the stands cheering for you really gets the guys going.”
Some students have legitimate excuses for missing home athletic events, others either have no clue that the game took place or they simply ignore it. One thing Taylor prides itself on is its intentional community. But what kind of intentional community ignores the fact that its classmates and wingmates are having a game on Taylor’s campus? There is plenty to do on campus, but among the best is witnessing a Taylor Trojans victory at home.
“Although I appreciate the support we get, it bugs me when people don’t come to home games on Saturday afternoons,” Luetkehans said. “It just doesn’t make sense because what else are you doing on a Saturday afternoon in Upland, Indiana?”
As athletic events begin to pile up throughout the week, athletes would love to see students pile up in the stands. Whether you’re taking a homework break, or feel like experiencing a little Trojan fun, the support of your Taylor Trojans is always welcome.
A Josh of All Trades
By Will Severns & Chris Yingling
Trying to keep your priorities straight at Taylor is a gigantic challenge. With homework to classes, Airband to pick-a-dates and friends to extra-curriculars, finding time for God and daily devotions is nearly impossible. For the athletes on campus, juggling it all while trying to keep a focus on God is a tough task.
But for junior soccer player Josh Urban, balancing it all is his way of glorifying God.
Josh is a biology major with a focus on pre-medicine. He’s chosen to tackle one of the hardest majors at Taylor while playing collegiate soccer. Josh also is a leader on his wing, First East Wengatz and a drummer for the chapel band.
“I am not saying I do all these things for the approval of God, but I just want to take the advantage of glorifying God in all I do,” he said. “I am passionate about all of those things--academics, soccer, music, friends--but my main passion is showing others the love of Christ in all I do.
Josh can be seen all around campus and is always willing to flash a smile to passersby. The fullness of Christ is evident in the way that he communicates with others. He maintains a positive outlook despite looking into the face of possibly the biggest step in his life.
Josh is taking the MCAT later this year.
He looks adversity straight in the face and is able to smile. He blesses others with the way he is able to sit down and have conversations between everything else that’s going on in his life.
“I am learning how to relate to others,” Josh said in relation to his future job as a doctor. “Having a connection with many different people types will help me relate with patients down the line.”
Sports keep Josh busy; along with the games and practices, Josh considers the guys on the soccer team as some of his best friends and loves hanging out with them among all of his other friends.
“This year, we are definitely focusing on getting wins by playing good soccer, but our main goal is to grow together as men on the team,” he said. “Our coach (Gary Ross) does a great job of making sure becoming men of character supersedes wins and losses.”
A star on the soccer field, a worshipper on the stage and a man of God to his friends, Josh Urban’s testimony truly represents athletic life at Taylor.
Time Management: An Athlete's Greatest Tool
By Kyle Keck & Casey Allen
It’s easy to commend college student athletes on their athletic skills, but it’s just as easy to overlook a set of different skills that almost every player here at Taylor University has acquired.
Whether they’re sprinting to practice or cramming in homework on the bus, student-athletes have to become masters of time management. Although free time is scarce, they’re still able to soak in an experience that many students lack: being a part of a close-knit team.
Junior men’s basketball player, Jordan Richardson, has been able to reap the benefits of being a part of a team while embracing the demands of time management during his college experience.
“Being on the basketball team has really helped me find my way early in college,” Richardson said. “I came already knowing my teammates, so it took away that shock of a new place with all new people. Along with that, contrary to what most would believe, it has helped me with scheduling and time management.”
Just as practice makes perfect in the realm of sports, practicing time management skills is key to getting more out of your college experience. But in order to practice these skills, you have to become persistent in how you schedule your activities. For Richardson, playing a sport has helped him do just that.
“Basketball sort of makes my schedule for me,” Richardson said. “I have set times for class, practice, homework, and then social activities. Overall, basketball has made my college experience more than I could have ever imagined it being.”
Although every experience varies, Richardson has noticed how Taylor creates a supportive culture for its student-athletes.
“I think Taylor does a great job of accommodating for its athletes,” Richardson said. “Professors are very understanding of scheduling conflicts, and the recent changes to our meal plans have been extremely beneficial."
Richardson is not the only one who has been impacted through their college experience. Sophomore volleyball player, Kelly Arnold, is pleased with her action as a student-athlete as well.
“Being on a sports team has impacted me in a very positive way,” Arnold said. “It has taught me how to balance my crazy schedule and how to stay organized.”
Although being a student athlete can often be hectic and chaotic, it is clear that being a member of a sports team here at Taylor University has far more positive aspects than negative.
A look behind the mask: Lauren Solito, Taylor Trojan
By Will Severns and Chris Yingling
When you see your home team’s mascot, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Perhaps it’s a crazy sweaty guy or an overly-ecstatic man who’s looking for a paycheck.
But for Taylor University, the man under the mask really isn’t a man at all. It’s sophomore public health major Lauren Solito.
And she’s a girl.
Lauren has a gigantic heart and a passion to use it. She loves jumping around and using her boundless energy to help make others happy.
“I’m really energetic, people say I am really crazy and just a wild person in general,” she said. “Naturally, I jump around a lot and I felt like being the Trojan would be a great outlet to release some of that energy. I’m so excited to step into this role as the mascot and ultimately look at it as one more way to glorify God with who he has made me to be.”
Lauren loves being able to attend the sporting events as the Trojan; she gets to cheer on the teams while also having some fun in the costume and showing off her wild side.
One of Lauren’s biggest passions in and out of the Trojan costume is her passion for children. She can often be seen at football games leading a tiny army of marching children and giving the pleading kids high fives.
Her inspiration for being the Trojan stems from the vitality in her younger sister; it fuels her to be great.
“We have a similar personality,” she said. “She doesn’t care what other people think, but she has a heart of gold. She’s so energetic all the time, but harnesses it in a way I admire greatly.”
Over anything else, Lauren has made it her mission to grow the support of Taylor athletics and wants to be an integral part of the growth of athletic programs.
“I hope people will support TU athletics more,” she said. “ I am hopeful that people would appreciate the athletics department more and see it as a way to take pride in our school. Overall I hope being the mascot will help get people excited while at the games.”