Top 4 places to hike in Athens

For those looking to do some off-campus exercise in lieu of going to Ping, hiking in Athens is a great option.

The Athens area offers a plethora of scenic places to spend the day hiking on Appalachian trails. Here are the top four places in Athens to go hiking:

1. Strouds Run

Strouds Run is only a 15-minute car ride north of the Ohio University campus. The trails at Strouds Run wrap around the beautiful Dow Lake, where students can also go canoeing or kayaking. Many of the trails are open to mountain biking as well. Strouds offers miles of trails by the lake and up into the surrounding hills.

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The trails that wrap around Dow Lake stretch nearly 12 miles all the way around.
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A parking lots entrance to some of the trails at Strouds Run.
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The trails in Strouds are heavily wooded and feature patches of pine forest as seen above.
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A photo taken in early spring of 2015 on Sundown Trail at Strouds Run.

2. Sells Park Trails

The entrance to the trails at Sells Park stem off of East State Street via Avon Place. From OU’s campus, the trip would only take around 10 minutes by car or 25-30 minutes on foot. The trails at Sells Park wind up and down the hilly area, and feature dozens of massive boulders. The trails actually connect to Strouds Park, if one were to hike far enough.

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Sells Park leads to several other trail networks.
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One of the trails that stems from Sells Park, taken during winter 2015.
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Like many of the trails near Athens, the Sells Park trails can be both steep and muddy.

3. Trails at The Ridges

If you’re looking to hike in Athens without driving off campus, look no further than the trails by The Ridges. Ohio University owns a huge portion of forested land near its Ridges facility across the Hocking River from campus. The “nature walk” trails move through forests and meadows, and also pass through old cemeteries with unmarked graves.

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The university owns the entire portion of land devoted to the trails.
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The nature walk trails start only a short walk away from OU’s main campus.

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4. Bong Hill and Witches Hill

Many students know about Bong Hill, the infamous hill with a stunning view of OU’s campus. What many students may not know about is the hill’s neighbor, Witches Hill, with even steeper inclines and a different view. The trails to these hills can be accessed across Stimson Ave over the Hocking River, and include very rocky and steep inclines.

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Witches Hill trail also includes boulders.

Hang up the uniforms, the Marching 110 has a free weekend

Like other sports organizations, Ohio University’s Marching 110 gets a small2015-10-02 00.24.14 break every now and then during the season. Even though they can be seen rehearsing every day of the week and often times performing over the weekend, sometimes the members of the 110 are lucky enough to get some free time. This coming weekend is their first free one of the semester, so they have their uniforms hanging up and staying in their bags for this Ohio University extended weekend. What do they do with that free time?

 

  1. Rest: As an organization that practices a few hours a day every single day of the week, those kids need some time to relax. So of course, if they get a weekend that they don’t have to march, they rest.
  2. Study: Sure, that may not be everyone’s idea of what down-time looks like, but with this weekend off and the “reading day” for all OU students, some members of the 110 are indeed cracking open their books. It’s midterm season, and understandably so, it can be difficult to balance schoolwork and marching band. So while some of them might be taking this weekend just to relax, some of them are taking advantage of the time to crack down on some homework.
  3. Watch football: Although this may sound counter-productive, there are indeed 110 members who watch football if they get the time. Usually their Saturdays are filled with watching the Bobcats play, not that watching them isn’t exciting, but then they miss out on a lot of other big-deal college football games. This Saturday, they don’t have to miss out.
  4. Visit home: There are a lot of Bobcats going home for the extended weekend, even some marching Bobcats. This is especially significant for 110 members because they haven’t had a weekend free yet this semester in which they could go home, while other students at OU have. However, this weekend, all Bobcats get the chance to go back to their stomping grounds. Sophomore euphonium player Sarah Strinka said, “I’m spending time with my family and going to the high school football game.” She, like many other 110 marchers, is spending her time this weekend living it up back home.

Even though the Marching 110 won’t be seen out anywhere this weekend, they will be back in action very soon. Next weekend (October 9-11) is homecoming weekend at OU and the Bobcats will face the Redhawks of Miami University that Saturday, October 10, at 2 p.m. at Peden Stadium.

Fantasy football frenzy

If you’ve ever watched football at a sports bar, you’ve probably encountered rowdy fans that are way too into the game. If you’re with these people, you’re embarrassed. If you’re not, you’re frightened. When you’re sitting at the bar, sipping your beer while you casually watch the game, and some jersey-clad lunatic erupts into a frenzy after a sack or fumble, you can’t help but wonder what is going on inside their head. Why is this person so invested in this game?

The answer to this question is simple: fantasy football.

Fantasy football is deserving of its name. It gives regular Joes everywhere something to cling to and live out their post-high school football fantasies. This kind of delusional make-believe can be intoxicating, even dangerous. Especially when you add money to the equation.

Some fantasy leagues are among friends where no money is at stake, only bragging rights. Some leagues however, can have big buy-ins where the pot can exceed hundreds of dollars. When you consider the financial aspect, you can understand why some people are so prone to outbursts while watching football.

I witnessed them firsthand when I was uptown Sunday night.

It was late in the third quarter of the Steelers-Rams game. I was sitting at the bar when it happened. Ben Roethlisberger dropped back to pass, but the Rams defense brought pressure. Ben went down, sacked. Groans erupted around the bar because of the sack, but when Ben didn’t get up right away, that’s when it hit the fan.

As Roethlisberger was helped off the field, I could hear one patron in close proximity begin a meltdown. I approached him cautiously.

“That’s my f—-ng quarterback, man! That’s my f—-ng season right there! I’m f—ed, man,” the fan lamented, referring to the detrimental impact Roethlisberger’s injury would have on his fantasy season.

This triggered a flashback to a similar scenario a few weeks ago.  I was at Buffalo Wild Wings when Tony Romo broke his clavicle just a week after Dez Bryant’s season came into question with a foot injury.  This precipitated much of the same from unlucky fantasy players who thought they hit the jackpot at their draft when they secured either one or both of these star players for their teams.

If you’re just a casual football fan, I strongly advise caution when interacting with these crazies.  Give them a wide berth if you aren’t prepared to risk life and limb when one of their players catches a concussion, a broken bone, or an MCL sprain.

If you’re a fantasy fanatic, I encourage you to rethink your life and consider making some changes for the sake of your sanity and overall health.


 

In the following days, it would be reported that Roethlisberger would be out 4-6 weeks.

I sure hope he has a good backup.

Settle it in smash: the rise of E-Sports and video games

Video games are a part of many people’s individual lives. Each week, new, groundbreaking titles come into the market and people flock to the stores to pick up the latest title.

While many people play video games just for fun, the competitive video game scene, also known as E-Sports, is on the rise. Different types of games will bring different forms of competition, one of the most popular genres of competitive gaming are fighting games.

Fighting games give people the sense of a real fight and provide intense head-to-head competition, which is why many aspiring competitive gamers choose to pick up games like Super Smash Bros Melee. Melee has been one of the most popular fighting games since its release in 2001, but the competitive scene continues to grow, not only in size, but skill.

I went to one of the Ohio University Smash Team’s weekly meetings to find out more about this game, and if the future of sports is in video games.

 

Buckeyes in Athens: Ohio University students show their support for OSU

When Ohio University President Roderick McDavis welcomed this year’s freshmen at their 2015 convocation ceremony, he said they are not only “Bobcats today, but Bobcats forever.”

However, some Bobcats like to call themselves something else: Buckeyes.

Ohio State fans can be found everywhere at OU, from students, to faculty, to everyday Athens residents. While they all live in a college town with a full Division 1 Athletics program, many choose to cheer on the team from Columbus.

Take a few steps into one of Athen’s more popular book stores — College Book Store — and you’ll notice OSU gear in plain sight amidst the mass of OU items.

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For OSU fans coming to OU for the first time as students, remaining loyal to the Buckeyes in Athens can be challenging.

“It’s kinda tough being a Buckeye fan here in Athens,” OU student Megan Henry said. “I kinda feel like I have to hide that fact, especially at orientation when some of the administrators gave a funny talking to about how we go to OU not OSU.”

Henry said she’s been a Buckeyes fan since she was a kid, but left her OSU gear at home when she moved to Athens last year.

“I try to watch as many games as possible while I’m here in Athens,” she said. “It’s hard because I don’t always get the channel the Buckeyes are playing on or I’ll be busy.”

Henry said she did get to enjoy watching OSU’s national championship win last January.

It was so much fun watching the Bucks win the championship in my friend’s dorm,” she said. “I like being an OSU fan because it’s fun being a Buckeye fan. Our teams do exceptionally well. We have so many world-class athletes and Heisman Trophy winners.”

Another Buckeye in Athens, Liam Niemeyer, said he’s been a fan of Ohio State since he first moved to Columbus when he was six.

“Just living in Central Ohio indoctrinates you into the OSU fanbase,” Niemeyer said. “Everyone on Saturdays throws an OSU block party.”

However, he said coming to Athens changed his priorities. While he still is an OSU fan at heart, being a Bobcat takes precedence.

 “You would think there would be some inner-conflict of allegiances duking it out, but not really,” Niemeyer said. “I still cheer on the Buckeyes in football, but I know where my true home is now — it’s here in Athens”

Niemeyer said he still watches OSU games in Athens.

Whenever I watch them now on TV, I still get just as excited cheering them on as I would at home,” he said. “But if the Bobcats are on also, then OSU’s going in the dumpster of unworthy sports teams.”

Plenty of Bobcats have had their fair share to say about the OSU-OU debate on social media as well:

While Ohio University has a large following in Athens, its clear that Ohio State University still has fans of its own.

3 competitive sides to OU’s Marching 110

When thinking about college organizations that compete, the marching band isn’t often the first thing that comes to mind, but at OU that’s a little different. The Marching 110 of Ohio University has a long history of performing seemingly unforgettable shows, which makes sense considering they are the “most exciting band in the land.” With the level of talent and attention the 110 gets, competitions in various forms are inevitable. Here are a few glimpses into them.

  1. Between fellow band members: The name Marching 110 is a little deceiving because there actually are 250 members of the band. The “110” comes from how many members are on the field. But in the stands, all 250 members blast their horns and beat their drums. How do they narrow it down to 110? They compete. According to sophomore euphonium player Sarah Strinka, “We have to compete for our spots on the field for each show based on a marching and music score.”  Placing only the best members on the field ensures the band lives up to its reputation.
  2. Marching 110 logoWith other bands: The 110 has a unique style. This puts pressure on them to consistently perform at a high level.  This also presents another way the band competes — the Marching 110 is not the only notable band around. First off there is OSU’s band, and then there are the bands from the other schools in the MAC conference (the conference of OU). For example, at the OU vs. Marshall game a few weeks ago (Saturday, Sept. 12), Marshall’s band came to Athens. There is a little competition there already with two bands playing in the stands, but it escalated when, at halftime, OU and Marshall both performed songs by Bruno Mars. To compete with these other bands, especially Marshall at that game, the 110 sticks to its unique style.
  3. Offseason competing: Marching bands are in action during the fall football season. So what do members do when it’s not marching season? Some join other music groups around campus, some play music on their own, and some join a competitive marching band for the summer. There is something called DCI (Drum Corps International), appropriately called “marching music’s major league.” In a sense, DCI is like a professional marching band. What does this have to do with the 110? There are quite a few members of the 110 who, when they aren’t marching as a Bobcat, are marching professionally over the summer as a member of a DCI group. Drum Corps International is a competition-based league. Corps from around the world travel to a new place almost every week to compete. They do this until they all come together in early August at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN to compete in the DCI World Championships World Class Finals.

The marching 110 may not be the first Bobcat organization that comes to mind when thinking about competition, but they definitely compete. The marching 110 will be in action again at the Jackson Apple Festival in Jackson, Ohio, this Saturday, Sept. 26 and will be back home at Peden Stadium at OU for the homecoming game against the Miami University on Oct. 10.


The marching 110 during halftime of the OU vs. Marshall football game.

The best bars to shoot pool on Court Street

If your billiards skills are on par with those of Tom Cruise a la The Color of Money, then you probably won’t be caught dead in the small-time venues that Court Street has to offer.  For the rest of us, Court Street is more than accommodating for some casual billiards.  No matter your skill level, the uptown bars provide a great atmosphere to shoot pool with friends.  The entries aren’t ranked in any particular order as they all have their pros and cons, but they all qualify as the best places to shoot pool on Court Street.

Lucky’s

Lucky’s is a prime venue to shoot pool uptown.  With relatively new tables and equipment, Lucky’s Tavern offers a relaxed atmosphere for pool players.  With two tables, it’s easy to find one available in the evening.  The tables themselves are also unique due to their red felt, and the lighting is a lot brighter than most of the other bars uptown.  Just a word of warning: it is nearly impossible to play at Lucky’s on Wednesday nights among the throngs of thirsty patrons that the weekly “liquor pitcher” promotion draws.

The C.I.

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Ohio University senior Zach Moneypenny poses by the pool table at the C.I.

The College Inn is one of the largest and most popular bars uptown.  These reasons are precisely why the C.I. is a great place to play pool.  The spacious bar features two tables upstairs and another in the basement (only open on weekends).  The C.I. is great for those hoping to avoid the crowds and sneak in a few games on a weeknight.  Prior to Thursday night on most weeks, the C.I. is usually pretty barren before 9 p.m.  When the bar is not crowded, the pool area at the rear of the building offers patrons plenty of room and relative privacy.

The Pigskin

Usually known as a destination for ping pong, the Pigskin is also a great destination for a round of pool.  With a cavernous amount of space to work with, the Pigskin’s lone pool table offers tremendous maneuverability for those looking to escape the semi-cramped conditions that can be found at other bars.  As an added bonus, the Pigskin’s table features some of the nicest felting to be found in Athens.  Due to these luxuries however, the ‘Skin’s table is a coveted treasure for pool enthusiasts and can be hard to secure during peak hours.

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Ohio University grad David York lines up his cue at Pawpurr’s.

Pawpurr’s

Pawpurr’s offers two tables with plenty of space to maneuver your cue stick.  With a table at each end of the bar, there is always plenty of space.  That is one of the reasons David York cited for Pawpurr’s being his favorite bar to shoot pool in Athens.

“Pawpurr’s is my favorite bar to play pool.  It’s actually just my favorite bar in general.  It’s really the only bar I like to play pool at,” says York, a recent OU grad.

Sticking true to the name, a round of pool at Pawpurr’s costs less than most other bars.  While the going rate is usually seventy-five cents at most other places, a game only costs two quarters at Pawpurr’s.

The Overhang

Rounding out the list is The Overhang, one of the newer and nicer bars on Court Street.  The Overhang boasts a tandem of new and well-maintained tables for its patrons.  Also, the pool tables have a clear view of the big screen televisions behind the bar, perfect for those wishing to catch a game while enjoying a few rounds of pool.  For those accustomed to the convention of placing a quarter on the table to reserve the next game, be warned.  The Overhang utilizes a chalkboard where patrons add their names to a queue to secure a spot on the table.

While this is by no means a comprehensive list of bars with pool tables uptown, it can be seen as a guide to finding the best spot to shoot a few casual games.  Armed with this knowledge, go forth and tread water in a sea swimming with pool sharks.

Football and football: the confusion, the fun

Ghana fans during a game. Source: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
Ghana fans during a game.
Source: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

The excitement that accompanies football all over the world is overwhelming, especially during tournaments and leagues.

The fans, cheers, music, dance, and bets set the tone for any football game, be it home or away.

However, a simple Google search, depending on your location, produces different results for this name. In the United States, football involves quarterbacks, tight ends, special teams, offensive guards, only to mention a few.

On the other hand, football for those in Europe and Africa especially, includes a goalkeeper, forwards (strikers), midfielders and defenders.

U.S Soccer Fans Source: theepochtimes
U.S Soccer Fans
Source: theepochtimes

 

 

Confusion and disappointment

Most Europeans and Africans are not privy to American football, though some may have heard there is something called American football. Some get confused and ask questions when they arrive at the stadium (if not told what to expect) to watch football, thinking it is soccer, as it’s known in America.

One of these people is Daniel Osei. He said, soccer came to mind when one of his friends mentioned football in a conversation. When he found out it was actually not what he was thinking, he was disappointed.

“I was so happy and decided to join my friend for one of the games, only for him to tell me he was talking about American football.” Daniel said, he tried to find places on campus to watch his favorite team, Chelsea FC, play in the Premier League but was not successful.

So far, on Ohio University’s campus, Buffalo Wild Wings has been the go-to place to catch a glimpse of soccer games during tournaments. The scene, atmosphere, cheers and applauds during the 2014 FIFA World Cup made it evident there is a love for the game on Ohio University campus. The eatery was a sight to behold as the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team (USMNT) was poised to eliminate the Ghana Black Stars from the tournament.

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Ghana vs USA, Brazil 2014 FIFA Worldcup source: bbc.co.uk

The USMNT had already suffered two defeats at the hands of the Black Stars, who were seen as underdogs in their previous two meetings. The Americans were hungry for a win. It finally came via a late header by John Brooks.  The USMNT beat the Stars 2-1 to cancel out one of the 2-1 losses they have suffered at the hands of the West African team.

Where do we go to watch the game?

If there are so many football (soccer) lovers on OU campus, where do they go to watch a game, particularly in this period when the English Premier League (EPL) and the UEFA Champions League are ongoing?

Ohio University football team in a game. Source: bleacherreport.com
Ohio University football team in a game.
Source: bleacherreport.com

A visit to several Court Street bars reveled managers aren’t as concerned about football as the American football. They may give it a try, but only when a team of interest is playing, such as the USMNT; there’s nothing to show of the EPL or Champions League.

Some fanatics of the game of football (soccer) go the extra mile and subscribe to channels, mostly online, to watch the game. NBC Sports Live Extra and ESPN are some of the online platforms where people go to watch the game. On a good day, it is shown on TV for other fans across the U.S to enjoy as well.

For most international students, subscription is not the way to go though they couldn’t substitute American football for football (soccer).

“Of course I love football but I won’t go the extra mile to subscribe and watch it. I will look out for highlights on YouTube and elsewhere,” Bismark Adusei said.

Some international students also gather to compete among themselves during summer to substitute for what they have lost and have a feel of the game.

So, be it American football or football (soccer), one thing is sure: The fans will always go hog-wild but the mix-up of the two games will forever remain.

 

Athens lands in the top 10 campuses for recruit visits

While it may still be the off-season for Ohio’s basketball teams, Athens still found a way to make it into a recent top 10 article by ESPN, albeit for something other than legendary parties.

In a nice twist to the typical “Top 10 colleges for recruits to visit,” ESPN blogger Dana O’Neil determines how much college campuses, instead of the programs themselves, influence college recruits. One of Ohio’s biggest strengths and talking points is the location and the campus. When OU is talked about, it is usually related to two things, parties and a beautiful campus. Fall in Athens produces some of the most picturesque landscapes of what a college town should look like. If I was a recruit who didn’t mind the status of my program, it would be hard to turn away.

O’Neil had this to say about Ohio,

“The school’s spring celebrations known as Fests, are so popular they have their own Twitter handle…plus Court Street, which includes 20-plus bars,” O’Neil wrote, “the folks of Athens, Ohio have this fun thing down.”

That is something everyone can agree on. Athens knows how to have a good time, even if it is mostly fueled by our 20-plus bars.

O’Neil also had some comments about our Bobcats, which accurately reflect the current status of our men on the hardwood,

“The Bobcats are a lot like their campus-sort of an under-the-radar gem…but with one good coach begetting the next (Saul Phillips is the latest) they have the potential to gear up for another Cinderella season at any time,” O’Neil said.

While a couple of key losses from last year’s team may get in the way of any Bobcat runs for the time being, coach Saul Phillips will continue to rebuild this team and return it to the NCAA tournament in the spring.