I feel like an outsider in Athens, a small college town located in southeast Ohio. Athens, home to Ohio University, displays tremendous natural beauty. Locals are also friendly. Admittedly, living in a small town like Athens is something I was longing for a long time when I resided in Beijing, a city always shrouded in smog, and a city where its people are too busy to be friendly. However, no matter it is the college party culture or the distasteful food, I just don’t feel like I fit in here in Athens.
Still, I have my favorite place in Athens. It is Mill Street Village. An international community where neighbors are quiet and obliging, Mill Street Village is my rental home where I can focus on my studies and savor family moments with my child. You don’t read it wrong. As an affectionate mother, I bring my three-year-old child with me in my pursuit of an advanced degree in the United States, because I cannot bear living far away from him. I never feel like an alien when I am at our Mill Street apartment. With my child around, I feel at home.
I hate to admit, but Mill Street Village is better than my home in Beijing if considering how many happy moments my child gains from living here. There is no need for me to worry about the smog that is hazardous to his health or abductors that may steal him away from me. I feel I am raising him in a pleasant old-fashioned way, just letting him run around and play unsupervised. Moreover, there are many children living at Mill Street Village. My child engages with his peers who come from many countries including United States, China, Iraq and India. This is a valuable experience he probably cannot acquire from elsewhere.
Living at Mill Street Village also provides me a chance to meet friendly and obliging neighbors. Among many wonderful experiences, I tried some exotic bitter tea when I was invited to an Arabic tea party; a neighbor of mine, who I never got an opportunity to know her name and country, brought me hand-made meat soup; when I felt really hopeless because the battery of my car died, an obliging neighbor helped me fix the problem. The longer I stay at Mill Street Village, the greater fondness I develop for the place. It is an enjoyable and harmonious community where I am no longer an outsider.
The stress of college life can be overwhelming at times, exams, papers, projects and presentations to boot. If the weight of the weekly rigmarole of class, clubs and work becomes a burden, take a break from the books and give your calves and liver a workout instead. Head uptown and decompress with the best bar specials Court Street has to offer.
Monday: The Pigskin’s Mojito Monday
Monday is just the day of the week that has a bad rap. Brighten up your gloomy Monday with a taste of minty paradise, $3.00 mojitos ALL NIGHT to tickle your fancy.
Tuesday: Pawpurr’s 50 cents Draft Night
No fooling, “Pawps” is the place to be on a Tuesday night. Any beer on tap is just 50 cents. Throw the bouncer a dollar for the “official” draft night cup (just a clear plastic cup glass would be far too reckless) and get your bobcat boozing on.
Wednesday: Courtside Pizza’s Slice Night
The real deal here is actually non-alcoholic, in fact it’s not even a beverage. Every Wednesday from 5 to 9 P.M. Courtside sells pizza by the slice, just 50 cents for cheese and 75 cents for pepperoni. Thirsty? Wash down your slice with a $2.00 Blue Moon.
Thursday: Thirsty Thursday at The Over Hang
For those of you that don’t know, The Over Hang has $2.00 domestics, well drinks and pints of both PBR and Rolling Rock daily. However, they sweeten the deal on Thursdays, featuring $2.00 mini brainstompers (9 oz.) along with 50 cents wings (while supplies last) starting at 5 P.M.
Friday: Red Brick’s Brick Break
You may be thinking that Red Brick is an odd choice of a “go to” on a Friday, but Brick Break is a perfect way to get your relaxing weekend started with a bang. Head in for happy hour (6 to 9 P.M.) and responsibly enjoy $1.00 domestic bottles and drafts along with $1.00 well liquor shots and mixed drinks.
Although Ohio University has been dubbed a No. 1 party school, there is still much to do before turning 21. Athens is filled with a variety of music and art groups along with fitness centers and beautiful bikeways. Although fest season and HallOUween may seem like the ultimate party at OU, seeing a movie at the Athena Cinema or attending a football game at Peden stadium can be just as much of a buzz.
Here’s a guide for how to have fun when you’re under 21:
1. Instrumental music, located in Memorial Auditorium and the Glidden Hall (which is at the top and bottom of Jeff Hill)
Free music is abundant on campus. The School of Music hosts different events throughout the year including OctubaFest, an event dedicated to tuba playing, and the annual Jazz Festival. In addition, there are several organizations for music majors and non-majors to participate in, including symphonies and orchestras. Events and information can be found on the School of Music’swebsite.
2. Athena, located near The Chop Shop and The Shack on Court Street
The Athena Cinema is placed among the oldest movie theaters in the nation. It has three screens and an art deco-style interior. The theater also offers popcorn and concessions. The films include documentary, independent, classics, foreign and local. Every year, the Athena Cinema hosts multiple events including Ohio University student screenings, environmental panels and the Athens International Film + Video Festival. Follow them on Instagram and Twitter to keep up with what’s happening.
Thank you all for another great Festival this year! Great films, great filmmakers, and great people coming out to support them! #aifvf
3.Improv/Comedy, located at Front Room, Donkey Coffee and Baker Theatre
Black Sheep Improv, an improvisational group on campus, takes over Front Room on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. and on Thursdays in Baker Theatre at 9 p.m. The Improv troupe spends its time making jokes and trying to get the audience to crack a few smiles. Comedy groups can also be found around campus and uptown, such as theBlue Pencil Comedystand-up group that frequently performs at Donkey Coffee and Espresso.“I think anyway of making new friends is something I would be interested in haha! I know no one.” Bethel Park High School in Pittsburgh, PA.
4. Art Barn, located down the road behind the Summit Apartments at Coates Run
The Dairy Barn Arts Centerpromotes artists and provides the community access to fine arts and crafts from outside the region. The program calendar that you can check outhereincludes international juried exhibitions, festivals, touring exhibits, programs of regional interest, live performances and activities for all ages. They have volunteer work andKroger community awards.
The Choral Union is a large, mixed chorus of students, faculty and townspeople. The ensemble unites annually with the Ohio University Symphony to perform outstanding major choral works. Clickhere to check out their page and other singing and instrumental groups. “I hope to find a job and join the choir. I don’t need alcohol or partying to have fun. Yeah, those can be fun to do but also remembering things sober are much better than not remembering.” Harrison Central High School in Cadiz, OH.
1. Bike Path, behind South Green
When the weather is warm and sunny, the bike path located behind South Green is a go-to place for bikers, runners, skaters and walkers. The path is relatively flat with a few twists and turns. Anyone can enjoy a view of the Hocking River or witness the blooming Japanese Cherry Blossoms in the spring. It also can be used to take a trip to Wal-Mart.
2. Ping, behind Clippinger near South Green and the golf course
The Ping Centeris 168,000 square feet spanning three floors with a 36 foot, double-sided climbing wall, five basketball/volleyball courts, two multipurpose gymnasiums, a four-lane indoor running track, seven racquetball courts and two fitness areas. Ping Center alsoprovidesfree weights, aerobics, fitness, combative sports, dance, and meeting rooms. Follow Ping onTwitterto keep up! “I just want to take in as much as possible and find what interests me. I want to get the experience that comes with finally moving out of your parents’ house and be on your own. I love spending time in the gym.” Monroe Central High School in Woodsfield, OH.
3. Sport Fields, multiple locations described below
Peden stadium, located near the Convocation Center, has a seating capacity of 24,000 and hosts Bobcat football. Students attend football games in the fall to cheer on the Bobcats as well as collect free gear and food. TheMarching 110also plays a halftime performance that leaves the audience bouncing with excitement. TheIntramural Fieldsare located between East Green and the Hocking River and offer individual, dual and team sports for men, women and coed teams in a variety of seasonal league and tournament formats. “I’m committed to the women’s soccer team so for fun I plan on hanging out with my future teammates.” Buckeye Valley High School in Delaware, OH.
4. Bird Arena, located near the bottom of Baker Center
Bird Arena is another outlet for people who would rather slide then run. The indoor arena provides a 190-by-85 foot surfacefor skaters of all ages. Bird Arena has open skate hours whichcan be found online and might change for the 2016-17 academic year. Skate rental fees are $3.50. Additionally, the arena offers different programs such as synchronized skating, club hockey and even beginner classes that can be taken for academic credit. You can find this icy rink at the bottom of Baker Center.
1. The Post, room 325 in Baker Center
The Post is one of several media outlets on campus. After more than 100 years of publishing, The Post is becoming a weekly tabloid with a daily digital product. The organization covers a range of topics from blog posts aboutpet Instagrams to political controversy on campus. The Post has several staffs that work daily to produce its product, which includes culture, sports, news, copy editing, digital, social media, design, multimedia and photography.
2. Backdrop, office located in Baker Center in room 309 or can be contacted here
Backdrop is a magazine on campus that publishes four times throughout the academic year. The magazine focuses on long-form content ranging from the history of fashion at OU to an in depth look into police officers’ K-9 sidekicks. “I also got into OSU but I chose OU over it. I am really looking forward to being involved with certain magazines on campus, especially the one dedicated to music because although I don’t play an instrument, I love all genres of music and talking about them.” Hilliard Davidson High School in Hilliard, OH.
3. The Athens News, located between Red Brick and Cats Eye on Court Street
Known for its in-depth local news reporting,The Athens Newsfeatures news, entertainment and an advertising section. With Ohio University making up an important segment of the Athens County population, The Athens News newspaper is able to effectively reach both the university and community markets, according to its website. The publication has written about everything fromNumber Fest to the construction of uptown bars.
Whether you’re signing on the dotted line of your Letter of Intent, or, as it is less glamorously referred to, if you are a “normal” student, not a student-athlete; submitting your nonrefundable deposit reserving your spot in the year’s freshmen class. It means the same thing either way. It means that you are committing to be a member of Ohio University and #BobcatNation for the next four….or five…or even six years as a student, and as an alumnus every year thereafter. Before doing so, there are a few things you should know. Most importantly, you should know that we are Bobcats, not Buckeyes. No matter how many times you say, “I go to Ohio University in Athens,” your family and friends will inevitably believe that what you are saying is that, “I go to Ohio State in Columbus.” This is a common misconception that sadly every Bobcat can relate to. Although both are public institutions just over 70 miles apart, a drive of less than two hours, the schools could not be more different in terms of culture, specifically sports culture. Case and point, Ohio University has strong athletic programs, but if you are looking for a Division I school where the entire student body spends the weekends at the athletic fields singing our fight song, “Stand Up And Cheer,” regrettably that is not something you will find at Ohio University. If a “sports school” is what you desire, Ohio University is not the school for you. Here’s 7 reasons why:
1 The marching band (The Marching 110) is more popular than the sports teams.
If you journey to Peden Stadium to watch Ohio football, you will probably see a fairly hardy crowd around 20,000 strong. Unfortunately though, that crowd that was once 20,000 strong will likely dwindle to a crowd of less than 10,000 after the Marching 110 has completed their halftime performance no matter how close the game may be. The reality is, sad as it may be; people come to see the famous Marching 110, not the football team, a tradition that has been in place for decades.
2 Free merchandise and free food giveaways can dictate student support of athletics.
Just as fans tend to only come out to sporting events to watch the band, fans, students in particular have a tendency to venture to Penden, the Convo and Bob Wren only with hopes of getting free gear or free food. After the giveaways, crowds usually shrink.
3 Students would rather buy beer than a hockey ticket.
For all varsity sports student admission is free with a student ID. Club sports on the other hand require a $5 student fee because they are club sports and thus not university sponsored. Ohio hockey is a powerhouse program with four ACHA Men’s Division 1 National Championships over the last 20 seasons. When you have more than 25 home contests a season at $5 a person, it doesn’t matter how good the squad is, students are not willing to spend upwards of $125 to go to every hockey game when that same $125 can be used to cover weeks’ worth of bar tabs. Students would rather spend money on beer than sports tickets, plain and simple, it gives them more “bang for their buck.”
4 You need sports jerseys……but for parties, not sporting events on campus.
At Ohio University, the highlight of spring semester for most students is fest season. The coming of fest season means that for about a month, from mid-March- mid-April, there will be various street fests each weekend around town. At these fests you can expect two things. 1) Drunken debauchery and 2) A plethora of sports jerseys. The irony rests in the fact that all OU students act like huge sports fans when it is fest season, yet they won’t support the Bobcats at sporting events on campus.
5 Student-athletes are relatively unknown on campus.
At bigger Division 1 schools high profile student-athletes like a Johnny Manziel or a Cam Newton find themselves on Sports Center on a weekly basis and carry the status of a celebrity on their college campus. Other students routinely ask these future professional athletes for pictures and autographs alike. At Ohio, we don’t have that problem. Our student-athletes are not fawned over by the rest of the student body. In fact some of Ohio’s best athletes go unnoticed as they walk up and down Court Street. Even 6’10, 260-pound forward Antonio Campbell, who was recently voted MAC Player-of-the Year, went unnoted by my two roommates as we passed him on the street walking to class earlier in the semester. How two self-proclaimed and knowledgeable sports fans did not recognize a 6’10 basketball star complete with a signature mustache as he passed them on the street, I do not know, but at Ohio, where sports aren’t a big deal…..it happens.
6 At Ohio, you are at the mercy of #MACtion.
Being an avid fan of the Mid-American Conference means two things. 1) Be prepared for the unpredictable. Where the best team in the MAC can either kill or be killed by the worst team in the MAC any given week in any sport. 2) Be prepared for inconvenient game times. As a member of the MAC teams are forced to play at times that are less than great for fans and athletes alike. MAC schedules are riddled with mid-week night games late in the season when the temperatures are blustery, balmy and bitter cold. Why? Because that is the only time ESPN will put a mid-major school like Ohio on national television. What can be done about this? Absolutely nothing. What is typically done though is that students do not attend the games. For some the weather scares them away, for others it is class and homework that prevents them from attending the event. Any way you look at it, #MACtion, as great as it can be hurts the Ohio athletics culture.
7 PLAYOFFS?!?!…….Mostly just a pipe dream for a MAC school.
Ohio athletics is fairly strong across the board it has seen success in all major sports fairly recently, it has seen professional athletes come through its programs as well. Despite all of the recent success’s the Bobcats have had on the athletic fields there is one thing that we must keep in mind. That is, we are a mid-major MAC school. This means that although we may have success, although we may make it to the post-season, we will never have certain athletic experiences like a “sports school” like Ohio State will have. An appearance in an historic game such as the College Football Playoff, the Men’s Basketball Final Four, the Men’s Hockey Frozen Four, among others just isn’t feasible for a smaller school like Ohio. For this reason, athletics aren’t as crazed here. Deep down, all Bobcats know, whether we want to admit it or not, we seldom if ever have the opportunity to play in the biggest game on the biggest stage.
Ah…high school. Strategically planning your outfits the night before a full day of school as if your life depended on it seems to have been a common occurrence among teenagers. In college, nobody gives a sh*t about what you wear. I’m telling you right now to stop stressing. If you need some helpful fashion tips, keep reading.
The following information includes the general fashion trends. Do not limit yourself to these. Wear whatever you want. Be happy, comfortable, confident, and express yourself… even if it means wearing a banana suit!
WHERE TO SHOP
Amazon Prime. As a college student, you are eligible for a free 6-month trial of Amazon Prime. This will give you free two-day shipping, access to hundreds of free movies and TV shows, and access to hundreds of playlists through Prime Music. It’s awesome. After your 6-month trial is up, you get Amazon Prime for 50% off ($40 a year, so worth it). Click here to sign up!
Court Street. Fig Leaf and The Other Place are two of the more popular boutiques on Court Street. Some of their items can be expensive, but watch for their awesome sales! If you’re looking for some nearby OU apparel, try College Bookstore, Follett University Bookstore, or UniversiTEES.
A photo posted by The Other Place (@theotherplace) on
East State Street. Did you know Athens has a mall? I use the term “mall” loosely. It consists of a couple stores like Elder-Beerman and Goody’s. These places usually have some good deals. Dunham’s Sports is also located at the mall. It’s basically Athen’s version of Dick’s Sporting Goods. They also have OU apparel there. If you need to go to a real mall, the closest one is actually in Vienna, West Virginia (about a 45 minute drive).
Explore East State some more and you’ll find a couple other gems like Rue 21. Check out the whole strip. You’ll also find SHOE Department.
We can’t forget Walmart. Other than underwear and socks, Walmart is good for simple clothing items like tank tops, sweat pants, or t-shirts. They also have cute, cheap OU apparel!
A NO BULLSH*T, TO THE POINT, SEASON-BY-SEASON GUIDE
The following information is subject to change due to the indecisive weather of the state of Ohio.
Leggings. Skinny jeans. Boots. Scarves. Vests. Hoodies. That’s all you need to know.
Same as above. You may want to dress a little warmer and have a heavier jacket. Make sure you dress in layers because the classrooms can get really hot. If you want to REALLY break the “not giving a sh*t” meter, just dress up as a winter Disney princess and lighten the mood on campus. Check out The Post’s article on this dude here.
Spring is an interesting time in Athens. It can be 40 degrees or it can be 85 degrees. You’ll want to have some flip flops, jean shorts, rompers, comfy dresses, and tank tops. If the weather is in the “in-between phase” you can always mix and match tank tops with a pair of jeans and a light jacket. Athens can be pretty rainy too. Invest in some rain boots and a rain jacket.
You should dress obnoxiously. Everything and anything is acceptable (unless you’re naked..then the horse cops will get you). Fest season might be the only time where fanny packs are actually a fashion trend. Sports jerseys seem to be a common trend too. Make sure you wear clothing that you don’t mind getting dirty. You should definitely consider wearing boots. Also, show your school spirit. Wearing a lot of OU apparel is another option.
Wear the same outfits you’d wear in the spring if it’s hot. You can throw a bikini in there too.
WHY YOU ULTIMATELY SHOULDN’T GIVE A SH*T
OU is the greatest school. Coming here was the greatest decision of my life and it should be yours too. I have never seen anyone get judged or made fun of over something they chose to wear. We are all a loving Bobcat family. Don’t over think it.
MEMORABLE QUOTES FROM SEASONED VETERANS
*Subjects freely contributed the above Instagram photos
Most people that go to Ohio University think that the athletics are no good and should not be cared about. Yeah, Ohio University is not going to be like Ohio State or Michigan. Those schools have special athletic programs.
Does that mean that Ohio University Athletics suck? Not one bit. In fact, Ohio University Athletics should be cared about and here are five reasons why.
1) A ton of the programs have had recent success
Wait, schools in smaller conferences can be successful too? You don’t have to be in the BIG Ten or SEC to be successful? That is correct.
I will make it very simple for you: Ohio University Athletics have been very successful recently. Since football is usually the most popular sport on a college campus, I’ll start there.
Ohio University Football has been bowl eligible for seven straight years and has played a bowl game in six out of those seven years. That is some pretty good stability. Only good programs can sustain that.
Ohio University Men’s Basketball has had some major national success recently. The Bobcats made the NCAA Tournament in 2010 and 2012. They advanced to the Round of 32 in 2010 and to the Sweet 16 in 2012. In 2012, they lost to number one seed University of North Carolina in overtime. Yeah, the school where Michael Jordan went. We almost beat them on the biggest stage. Not bad right?
Ohio University Baseball has made the NCAA Tournament 15 times including as recent as 2015. One of the best power hitters in baseball history in Mike Schmidt played baseball at Ohio University, too. He hit 548 home-runs in his career, which is good enough for 16th all-time.
The women have had some recent success as well. Ohio University Women’s Basketball made the NCAA Tournament in 2015 and won the MAC regular season title in 2016.
Last but not least, Ohio University Women’s Volleyball has been terrific. They have made the NCAA Tournament every year since 2003. In 2014, they were undefeated in MAC play.
2) MACtion is not that bad
The average fan thinks that the Mid American Conference, also known as MACtion, is garbage. Th average fan thinks that MACtion consists of bad teams with average players that will never be able to compete against the big schools.
That is completely wrong.
MACtion has produced some tremendous pro talent. Some former MACtion players include Antonio Brown, Ben Roethlisberger, Julian Edelman, Khalil Mack, Jimmie Ward and Joe Staley. Ohio has two current NFL players in Pittsburgh Steelers safety Mike Mitchell and Oakland Raiders corner back TJ Carrie.
MACtion teams also have shown the ability to compete with the big schools. The University of Toledo beat the University of Arkansas last season. Arkansas plays in the SEC. That conference that MACtion teams “can’t” compete with.
3) A good MACtion team is better to have than a bad BIG Ten team
Most people think that you have to be in a big conference like the BIG Ten to have a team that you should care about. However, that is not the case.
I have buddies that go to the University of Illinois, and their sports programs stink. Their football team has made it to just three bowl games since 2010. Their basketball team hasn’t made it to the Sweet 16 since 2005.
Do students at the University of Illinois care about these teams? NO because they suck.
Even though they get to play the really good schools like Ohio State and Michigan State, it does not matter. Most of the students do not care because they rarely win.
In fact, a few of my buddies from there have visited Ohio and were impressed by how many students seem to care about the sports teams. They thought it was pretty close and maybe better to what they see on their campus from students.
Also, they were jealous that our teams actually win a decent amount of games each year. Their not to happy with the four wins their football program gives them every year.
4) It can make your college experience better
The whole student body might not care about the sports programs, but there are plenty of students who do. The student section at the games, called the O-Zone, is a very passionate group of students.
The O-Zone is a great place to meet new people, too. Someone you meet in the O-Zone could end up being one of your closest friends in college.
Supporting the sports teams also gives you something to constantly do. You will quickly find out how much free time there is in college. It is nuts. I did not know what to do with all the free time. I still have trouble filling the time honestly.
You can only play so many hours of video games and watch so many hours of Netflix. Going to sporting events can spice up your day and make it much more fun and interesting .
5) Just give it a chance
Most of the games are free, so you cannot use the excuse that you don’t want to spend the money to get out of going to a game. There are usually tailgates that include free food for students. Yeah, free food. You will learn fast how crucial a free meal is. So, if you don’t like going to the game, you will get a free meal out of it anyhow. Win win situation no matter what.
See you at the first football game in the fall. Who cares, Go Bobcats.
Athens, OH: the most impoverished county in the state. Last month’s Ohio Poverty Report said 51 percent of residents– about 13,000 people– live below self-sufficiency and 16 percent rely on food stamps.
Those food stamps only add up to about $110 per week, though, hardly enough to feed a family. Community members and university students help fill those gaps.
“Sure it’s important to prep food and get it to people who need food, but the primary goal is create an experience of community. So it’s not people standing behind a counter serving food.”
That’s Evan Young, the campus minister at the town’s United Campus ministry. The organization is a center for spiritual growth, social justice, and, for over two decades, it’s also been the host of community meals. Yes, that’s their specific term– community meal.
“The idea is that we are not just a soup kitchen– the idea is that it’s a community meal. So all these people are coming together to build friendships and connect with each other over food.”
That’s how Kelli Wanamaker describes it. She’s a UCM Free Meal Intern, a position she’s held for 2 years. Evan says people like Kelli are the reason these meals exist.
“Thursday supper and Saturday lunch exist because students who are involved and engaged in the community looked around and saw a need. They said there are a lot of hungry people here and no free meal on Thursdays.. We have this space, what can we do?”
What they manage to pull off takes days of preparation. Jackie Duffy is a Social Work Intern at UCM.
“So usually on Tuesday we’ll come in …. and we’ll see what kind of ingredients there are, what donations we’ve gotten, what we have in the freezers and all that sort of thing. It’s about a 2day prep i would say. Come in on Thursday and make a shopping list. We get donations from tons of organizations, Athens community members, former interns, churches, etc.”
Evan says the community’s support is imperative, but it’s also increasingly impressive. The night I went to eat with them, I was expecting pots and pans and casseroles of homemade dishes. That happens most of the time, but when I walked in and saw pizza delivery boxes, I was… surprised.
“Avalanche donates the pizza. That’s great! We have a relationship with chipotle, they donate some of their leftover food. Pigskin, every now and then they’ll show up with a tray of pork loin.. It’s like Thursday night we made this for you. Awesome! That’s great!”
And who is enjoying this food? Ask Miranda McKinney, another Free Meal Intern, and she’ll tell you why that’s her favorite part of the job.
“They are for everybody. I think that’s what’s so great is it’s not just students, it’s not just community members, it’s not just old people… i can sit down and have a convo with people who are 60 or 16 or 6.”
I spoke to David Hardinger, an Athens man who had stopped by for a free meal.
“How long have you been coming to free meals? About 10 years…. Why do you like coming here? To socialize with my friends.”
David told me his favorite meal UCM cooks is chicken, but he asked me to make them serve Sheppard’s Pie one of these days. I told him they would need a lot of pies. There were about 30 people in the room that night, but the space was only half full.
“The level at which it’s utilized varies with the economy… a few years ago with the recession, we were seeing between 50-75 people a night. It’s less now, things are not quite as dire.”
Community members and university students serve free meals 6 days a week throughout the town– you can find a list of the locations on CourtStreetStories.com. No matter the organization serving food, though, one thing is for certain:
“You just come in and eat, whether you really need it or you don’t.”
For CourtStreetStories, I’m Bianca Hillier.
Free Meals in Athens, OH
First United Methodist Church
2 South College Street
Athens, OH 45701
Athens Church of Christ
785 West Union Street
Athens, OH 45701
Time: 5:30 pm
Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd
64 University Terrace
Athens, OH 45701
Friends and Neighbors Community Center
24576 Parkersburg Road
Coolville, OH 45723
United Campus Ministry (UCM)
18 North College Street
Athens, OH 45701
Time: 5:30 pm
location of meal changes seasonally; call ahead for directions
The conflicting life of being a cadet and a normal college student at Ohio University can be overwhelming, yet, rewarding. Military Appreciation Day fell on the same day as Sibs Weekend this year. My sister happened to be flying across the country to see me but, inconveniently, duty called. I had to photograph the entire event and sacrifice a day with my sister.
Three cadets struggled to haul a massive flag to The Convo that Saturday morning. Cadets then had to conduct rehearsals with Master Sergeant Steven Henderson, one of our Military Science instructors. He used to be a Drill Sergeant. As a DS, your job is to yell at new soldiers at boot camp 24/7.
You can only imagine the fun times that ensued.
“Don’t let the flag touch the ground!”
“Curl your damn fingers when you march!”
The cadets rehearsed unfolding the flag more times than I could count. The veterans just smiled.
Finally, all flag holders staged in one of the hallways that led onto the basketball court. They waited for their cue to march out. Senior Cadet Alexandra Hambleton coordinated with the Singing Men of Ohio, Title IX, and fellow cadets to sing The National Anthem together.
Before they sang, the announcer who presented the singers made a mistake. He said that OU Army ROTC cadets would be singing The National Anthem. He failed to mention SMO and Title IX. This angered me a little since they made up the majority of the group. Kori Chenetski, a member of Title IX, said it was “no biggie.”
“I honestly didn’t really notice! I think the group of us who performed were more concerned about us being asked to participate in this opportunity! It was a wonderful experience!”
Chenetski says she had actually planned on joining the military for a while but was turned away due to health issues.
“I would give anything to serve my country, but sadly, I won’t be able to do that.”
“I believe it’s awesome that women are given this opportunity! I am still a bit skeptical of PT (physical training) scores not having to be the same standards though. I believe women are just as capable of reaching the goals and scores that men are,” Chenetski says. Speaking of men…
“I love a man in uniform,” Chenetski concludes. “My boyfriend rocks it pretty well!”
After cadets dodged traffic while carrying the massive flag back to the supply office at Peden Stadium, they went back to The Convo to join the rest of The Bobcat Battalion in the student section. Junior cadet, Noah Nelson, was the “pit boss” this year.
“It was my responsibility to motivate and create a fun environment during the game. I made sure that I had the crowd and student section in the game and rocking the whole entire time!” Nelson proudly states.
He goes on to contrast life as a cadet and student at OU.
“I am a huge sports fan myself and can be out of control at times, really like any Cleveland fan to be honest, and I catch myself saying some outrageous things. As a cadet though, especially attending games in uniform, is a little more difficult for me to do. I love to try to get into athletes heads and also mouth off to the referee now and then…who doesn’t?” Nelson winks.
The cadets are known for hyping up the halftime shows every year, according to Nelson. Last year, the Troy Pop Rocks Jump Rope Team performed. There was a coach from the Pop Rocks who couldn’t believe the cadets’ reactions.
“We were all looking forward for maybe a sequel of the “PopRocks Jump-Rope Club” but this group of boys and girls put on a hell of a show!”
This year there was a youth basketball dribbling team performance.
“At the end of it, they were so happy and into it that they started throwing us their sweatbands as almost a token of their appreciation. They loved that we were into it and they wanted to reward us,” concluded Nelson.
According to the Bobcat Battalion’s Facebook page and a press release, OU ROTC’s goals were to recognize those who have served/are still serving and positively represent their program. They seemed to have achieved just that.
Due to me being down on the court, I had to have my sister take this low quality picture on her iPhone from high up in The Convo to get the full flag.
A photo posted by Ohio University Army ROTC (@bobcatbattalion) on
Yes. It is funny that I “sacrificed” and did all this work only to see MY SISTER’S one photo get featured…not mine.
ANYWAYS…one thing that ROTC has prepared me for is sacrifice. You have duties to your country (or to a basketball game in this case…you get what I mean) and to your family. Once the duty is done, the reward is worth it. My sister was able to stay until Monday. We proceeded through the weekend spending hundreds of dollars (by we, I mean my sister because she’s 10 years older than me and has a real job) on alcohol and drunk food. It was nice to feel like a normal college kid again.
FINAL SCORE:OU 80 Northern Illinois 69.
Editor’s note: Caroline Pirchner is a senior in Ohio University’s Army ROTC program. Her duty was to oversee the proper presentation and unfurling of the American flag during The National Anthem at the OU men’s basketball game on February 6, 2016. She created all the photographs on this page except the one by her sister and is credited as such.
When I first came to Ohio University in 2008, I was just taking a weekend trip with my family to visit my parent’s alma mater for the first time. The brick roads, the smell of the Burrito Buggy, the exhausting hills, the trees. Everything in Athens to me was picture perfect.
But then I stepped foot inside a football stadium, but this was not just a football field with some bleachers. This football stadium had a spirit like I have never seen at any sporting venue. There was a hill that stretched behind one of the endzones, there was a view of the rolling hills just over the Hocking River, but there also was history written since 1929 stored inside every brick.
I stepped foot on the field (though I was not supposed to), and felt a chill down my spine. If that chill was the spirit of Athens hitting me like a ton of bricks or just a cool breeze I will never know. But I realized at that moment that I too will become a Bobcat, just like my parents were 20 years earlier.
Fast forward five years, and it was my first week on campus as a student at Ohio University. I was overwhelmed by all the activity on campus, and I had a hard time becoming friends with my roommate. I decided to go to a football game with my learning community to celebrate my first week surviving college. Was it awkward? At first, yes, but as the night went on I bonded with my new friends about football, art, Billy Joel, Stephen Colbert and Big Mamma’s. By the end of the night, we all decided to go to games on a weekly basis and maybe hang out a time or two at James Hall.
Today, two of those guys are my roommates in our apartment on Court Street, and a few others from that night are still some of my best friends.
I still go to games on a weekly basis, even if it means sitting in freezing temperatures just to get a two-second cameo on ESPN. I have sang the national anthem with the Singing Men of Ohio on homecoming, and watched my friends play with the Marching 110. Every week in the fall is a new chance to make another memory at Peden Stadium.
I don’t love Peden because our football team plays well enough to go to a bowl game or because the Marching 110 is the most exciting band in the land when they play halftime (which is true). I love Peden because I felt that chill almost eight years ago to join OU, and because I met some people that would change my life all inside the brick walls of Peden Stadium.
Once I graduate from OU, I hope I can go back on the field and feel that chill one more time.
It is often said when the going gets tough, the tough get going and Ohio University junior Tajah Smith has become the epitome of that quote. Smith, a sprinter and long jumper, has always had a passion for running track, but two hip surgeries have put her running career in jeopardy.
She got involved with track and field as a way to make friends after her family moved from the Motor City to Ohio. Little did she know that 14 years later, she would still be running and be calling the track her home. Not only did she take pleasure in the sport, but she was an elite runner. Throughout her pre-college career, she consistently qualified for nationals in the 100m dash and the 4x100m dash. Most people would have been complacent with their achievement, but Smith’s favorite part was the process of becoming great.
“My favorite thing was hard workouts,” Smith said. “Like when you finished a hard workout that you never thought you could do, like when coach was like ‘alright 10 400s’ and then once you finish, there was this sense of accomplishment, like I can do anything now.”
This work horse mentality (along with her tremendous track talents) earned her a scholarship to run for Ohio University, which would accompany a new set of challenges. All of her track life, she ran with long strides, but as a freshman in 2013, she had to run the 60m and the 200m dashes. These events, specifically the 60m, required quicker, faster steps for her to compete at a high level. So Smith worked and handled the change with elite class. However, by the spring semester of her freshman year, she had begun to feel numbness in her hip, which was an unexpected bodily change.
“It was numb for about six months,” she explained. “About a month or two in, the pain started coming and I couldn’t compete like I wanted to because I was in so much pain. And I’m very good at compartmentalizing and putting [the pain] in the back of my head, but it gets to a certain point where you can’t anymore.”
She had no choice, but to seek professional help. At the first doctor visit, she was diagnosed with meralgia paresthetica, which is a condition that is described as a numb, tingling feeling in someone’s outer thigh. Smith went and got a second opinion, where doctors told her that meralgia paresthetica was unlikely. Because MP is generally associated with obese people, the condition was not likely the root of the problem.
Dealing with the unknown is one of the toughest challenges that a human being can face, especially as an 18-year-old Division I athlete, where the pressure to succeed exponentially grows over time. But rather than succumbing to the pressure and accepting defeat, Smith exhausted all options of rehabilitation.
“I went to physical therapy at least four times a week and did strengthening things for my hip,” Smith said. “Anything that could make it better. Toward the end of the summer it wasn’t getting better, it was getting worse. I saw the doctor every other week trying to figure out this and that. I took so many different steroids to try and get some of the pain away, but none of that worked.”
She then made her way to an Ohio Athletics surgeon who immediately diagnosed her with a career-threatening injury. The condition that Smith became aware of was osteitis pubis, which is an inflammation of the pubic symphysis and surrounding muscle insertions (emedicine.medscape.com).
“The cartilage that holds my pubis bone together is hardening and there is no way to reverse that process,” Smith said. “So, the hardening is reducing my flexibility.”
This restriction in her hip flexibility comes into play with running and long jumping. It would also prevent her from competing in a race that she was preparing to try, the 100m hurdles.
“I was getting good too,” Smith jokes. “I was pissed.”
Little did she know, the worst was yet to come. Smith finally made her way to a hip specialist who immediately recognized the problem with her hip. After taking a glance at Smith’s MRI, the first thing to come out of the specialist’s mouth was “there’s your labrum tear.”
This tear in her labrum was caused by Femoralacetabular Impingement, which is a condition where the ball shaped femoral head rubs abnormally or does not permit a normal range of motion in the acetabular socket and results in unaligned hip bones.
“If I was a normal person and not active,” Smith explains, “this wouldn’t be a problem. But it was bound to happen.”
By this time it was the spring semester of her sophomore year in 2015. From anywhere between 12-16 months, Smith had a labrum tear in her right hip. She was then left with two options. First option was a shot in the hip to nullify the pain, but that did not work. Surgery was the only option left. Surgery is normally accompanied with fear, nervousness and sadness, but guess what Smith’s response was?
“Alright when are we going to schedule it? Let’s go!” she exclaims.
On June 15, 2015, Smith walked into the doctor’s office with excitement. A cool head, a positive attitude and a normal heart rate surprised the surgeons. She stepped (figuratively) out of surgery with the exact same demeanor, and the very next day, she hopped on the exercise bike and went to work like she has all of her life.
Normally, one would expect a storybook ending at this point, but more adversity was to come for Smith. Her left hip was experiencing the same pain as the right before the first surgery. The doctors wanted to focus on one hip at a time, so hip number two was put on hold. Of course, once Smith was brought back and examined, doctor’s discovered a labrum tear in the left hip. At that point, she was on pace to return before the indoor track practice started in October of 2015, but her injuries slated a new path for her. A path, with more time and patience, that will end with Smith getting back on the track. This path would be a test for her. In addition to rehabbing her left hip, she had to finish rehabbing the right.
“I was expecting it,” Smith said as she shrugged her shoulders. “I shed no tears.”
She was ready to work, but it did not nullify her disappointment.
“It’s hard to sit on the sideline and watch everyone get better when all I really want to do is run. It’s hard to watch people take running for granted and not go to practice when I would give my left leg, wait I need that, I’d give a finger to run. When you love something so much and you can’t do it, that’s what hurts the most.”
She knows that her time to put her spikes back on will come soon. Smith yearns that feeling of freedom when she takes off from the starting line and she has already envisioned her return. The track team has their first meet in Myrtle Beach and if Smith can qualify for it, she is going and has no doubt that she can perform at a high level.
“That is the goal,” Smith proclaims. “Make. The. Van.”