Sports

Baseball is a numbers game for BGSU Distinguished Professor Jim Albert

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Life is becoming more like baseball, at least when it comes to numbers. “This is really the best time to be a statistician,” said Jim Albert, of the Bowling Green State University faculty. “Data is so much a part of our lives. It’s affecting every part of our lives,” just like baseball, the most statistically dense sports, and Albert’s passion. The book he wrote with Jay Bennett “Curve Ball: Baseball, Statistics, and the Role of Chance in the Game” is baseball by the numbers. It applies advanced statistical metrics to all aspects of the game. In February the university board of trustees named Albert a Distinguished University Professor. Trustee James Bailey said the university is lucky some major league team hasn’t snapped Albert up as a team statistician. Albert’s love of baseball goes back to his upbringing in Philadelphia. He is a Phillies fan. He played youth baseball, but concedes he wasn’t good. His game is tennis. “I grew up on baseball and collected baseball cards and playing baseball simulation gams like Strat-O-Matic,” he said. He had an aptitude for numbers. He was on the math club in high school and took part in math competitions. ­Decades later he devoted the first chapter of “Curve Ball” to the various statistical models used by baseball simulation games. With a natural inclination toward numbers, Albert went on to study mathematics at Bucknell University and then earned his graduate degrees from Purdue. BGSU wasn’t really much on his radar. That statistics was lumped in with math was a bit of a concern. Statistics usually does better in an area like business, sociology, or medicine “because they need that application.” Still he took the job in 1979, and has stayed ever since. His wife, Anne Albert, was hired to teach mathematics at the University of Findlay. “We were hired and got tenure at the same time,” he said. She retired two years ago. So the decision to stay was easy. Also, Albert has an interest in education, so being at a university with a strong education program was attractive. And baseball and sports can be a useful way to hook students on statistics, he said. He’s written a textbook “Teaching Statistics Using Baseball.” At Purdue he studied with some of the leading lights of Bayesian economics. Unlike classic economics which focuses on frequency, Bayesian economics focuses on probability, and adjusting one’s hypothesis as more data is considered. It requires complicated computational models that became far more feasible with the advent of computer technology. Baseball would often serve as example of their methods. Take, for example, the concept of reversion to the mean. Batting averages are an example of that. Early in the season, averages can fluctuate wildly. A journeyman player could be hitting the cover off the ball,…

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Janet Parks is passionate about sharing the story of BGSU’s women athletes

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Janet Parks wrote the book on women’s athletics at Bowling Green State University. She authored “Forward Falcons: Women’s Sports at Bowling Green State University, 1914-1982” with Ann Bowers and Adelia Hostetler Muti with design by Jennifer Joseph, in 2010, some six years after she retired after 39 years of teaching in the School of Human Movement, Sport and Leisure Studies. During that time she was a central figure in developing the sports management program. “Forward Falcons” wasn’t the end of it. Parks remains passionate about telling the tale of BGSU’s female athletes. Last week she spoke about the development of the Janet Parks Sports History Initiative in the Center for Archival Collections at Jerome Library. The goal of the initiative, Dean Sara Bushong said, is to document women’s sports at BGSU and in Northwest Ohio, including the legislation and rules the governed and influenced it. It’s a story of champions, Parks said. A newly installed photo display on the second floor of Eppler, celebrates those champions. But to have champions, one must have a governing body to sanction them, and that didn’t exist for women’s intercollegiate athletics until 1971 when the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women was founded. The AIAW was the culmination of various bodies that fostered women’s sports since 1899 – seven years before the precursor of the NCAA was founded. “From the beginning it was maintained by women’s physical education teachers,” Parks said. “These women saw athletic competition as an educational experience that was open to all women who wanted to participate.” When the organization that became the NCAA was formed, it had no interest in women’s sports. “That was fine with women,” she said. They wanted governing bodies run for and by women. And that’s what they had for most of the 20th century. Some believe, she said, that there were no sports before women until recently. But in 1971, BGSU had 14 teams in a variety of sports. What those teams didn’t have was a chance to compete for state, regional or national titles. The AIAW changed that. And the Falcon women’s teams distinguished themselves. “The AIAW brought in an era of champions,” Parks said. “We had champions at this school. We won things.  That’s why we keep score, to know who won. Our teams were highly respected.” Swimming and diving teams and track and field teams and individuals went on to win national titles and All-American honors. The AIAW was the largest intercollegiate governing body in the country with 960 member institutions in three divisions with 99,000 competing in 19 sports. And creating 1,200 leadership positions, mostly filled by women. “We were euphoric,” Parks said. “We were in high cotton. We thought this would last forever.” Then the NCAA came to call with checkbook in hand. It…


BGSU teams rank 10th in the nation for graduation rate

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Bowling Green State University ranks 10th in Division I athletic programs in the nation in Graduation Success Rate (GSR), according to the NCAA. BGSU is in some good company as it ranks behind Notre Dame University (98), Duke University (97), Northwestern University (97), Stanford University (97), Vanderbilt University (96), Boston College (95), University of Central Florida (94), Wake Forest University (94), University of South Carolina (93), and is tied with the University of Minnesota (92). “We are so pleased with our standing, both among MAC and national Division I programs,” said BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey. “Our student-athletes have a strong history of academic success and continue to be leaders in the areas of scholarship, athletic talent, leadership and service.” “We are so pleased with our standing, both among MAC and national Division I programs,” The University’s 92 percent GSR was the highest among all MAC schools, up 3 percent over 2016’s results. Fifteen of BGSU’s 18 varsity intercollegiate athletics teams had a GSR that ranked among the top half of the league in their respective sport. Ten of Bowling Green’s teams have a perfect 100 percent GSR. Another two teams are at least 90 percent. BGSU’s men’s basketball, men’s cross country, hockey, women’s basketball, women’s golf, gymnastics, women’s soccer, swim/dive, tennis and volleyball teams all ranked with a perfect graduation success rate, while softball (94 percent) and baseball (90 percent) posted exemplary marks.


Paralympian Jessica Long tells fans only a negative attitude can sink their dreams

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Shoe shopping can be a problem when you don’t have any feet. Double amputee Jessica Long said she dreaded trips to the shoe store because of it reminded her she didn’t have legs. The way the clerk would look at her and her prosthetic legs and feet made her feel disabled. She just wanted shoes that were comfortable and cute. Long wondered if she’d ever be able to wear high heels or flip flops. Now at 25 new developments mean she can wear flip flops and has high heel prosthetics. She considers her prosthetic legs as “really tall shoes.” She loves to show her legs. And, along the way, she’s won 25 medals, 13 of them gold (the only ones she counts,) at the Paralympic Games. Long, the second most decorated Paralympic athlete, was in Bowling Green this week, as the special guest of We Are One Team Bowling Green. She met with athletes on the Bowling Green State University campus, addressed a crowd of 500 in the Stroh Center Wednesday night, and talked to fourth graders from Crim and Conneaut at the Wood County Library on Thursday morning. As WA1T president and founder Yannick Kluch said at both events, the organization was created to promote diversity and social justice through sports. Long’s mission is to encourage everyone, regardless of their situation, to strive to excel and persevere. “I believe the only disability in life is a negative attitude,” she told both crowds. Long was born in Siberia with deformed lower legs, caused by fibular hemimelia, to a 16-year-old mother. Her birth mother realized she did not have the resources to raise a disabled child. “She made one of the toughest decisions a mother could make to put me up for adoption, hoping I would be adopted by a good family,” Long said at the Stroh Center. Long’s American parents adopted her when she was 13 months old. Then “they made the difficult decision to amputate both of my legs when I was 18 months old so I could be fitted prosthetic legs and learn to walk. … I truly think they made the best decision.” It was the first of 20 surgeries, she’d undergo as she grew. She hated the recoveries. “I didn’t understand why it was happening to me.” She just had let her body heal. And for someone with as much energy as she had that was hard. She did cartwheels and flips, and her parents have told her she once scaled the refrigerator. Looking for some way to channel that energy into sport, they enrolled her in gymnastics when she was 4. But they were concerned the toll landing was taking on her knees.  So at 10 she switched to swimming. She’d already been swimming for years in her grandparents’…


Paralympic champion swimmer Jessica Long to visit BGSU

Submitted WE ARE ONE TEAM  We Are One Team (WA1T), an award-winning initiative to promote social justice through sport at Bowling Green State University (BGSU), is excited to announce its 2017 fall speaker for the WA1T: Our Voices educational series: Jessica Long, 13-time Paralympic gold medalist and second-most decorated Paralympic athlete in U.S. history. On Wednesday, November 8, at 6:30 p.m. in the Stroh Center, Long will hold a keynote presentation focused on her inspirational story about being adopted from Russia at a young age to becoming a 13-time Paralympic gold medalist in swimming. The keynote event titled, “We Are One Team (WA1T) Presents: Jessica Long – The Story of a Paralympic Prodigy,” is open tothe public. “I am honored to join Bowling Green State University to promote their We Are One Team (WA1T) initiative,” Long said, “My experience as a Paralympic athlete has taught me the importance of self-confidence and acceptance of others. I hope that by sharing my story, I can help encourage others to redefine ‘normal’ and celebrate our diversity.” “Jessica is a high-profile athlete who has used her platform to create understanding for marginalized members of the sport community,” Yannick Kluch, president of We Are One Team (WA1T), said. “Her drive to promote diversity and inclusion throughout her career make her a perfect speaker for We Are One Team. We are always looking for athletes who break down stereotypes and live authentically no matter what challenges they may face.” Long was born with fibular hemimelia and had both legs amputated at 18 months old. She was involved in many sports growing up before she joined her first competitive swim team at the age of 10. She has competed in four Paralympic games and has won 23 Paralympic medals. Long is also a three-time recipient of the ESPN Best Female Athlete with a Disability ESPY Award. She has been named to Sports Illustrated’s list of “The World’s Best Female Athletes” twice. Currently, Long trains with the North Baltimore Aquatic Club. While Long’s keynote presentation as part of the WA1T: Our Voices educational series will be the main event of her visit to Bowling Green, Long will also visit the Wood County District Public Library on November 9 to interact and speak with Bowling Green middle schoolers. Her visit is scheduled for 9:45 a.m. This event provides middle schoolers the opportunity to listen to a story of adversity from an accomplished athlete and will highlight the importance of promoting values such as diversity and inclusion at a young age. While the session is focused on middle schoolers, it is open to the public and Bowling Green community members are welcome to attend. Long’s two-day visit to Bowling Green will also consist of opportunities to meet with students, community members, faculty, staff, administrators, and student-athletes. She will visit classes…


Study to see if sports complex could score big here

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Parents of young children often pack up the vehicles several weekends of the year to head out to travel ball tournaments. Local economic development officials want to see if they might be able to get a piece of that action. Four entities – Wood County Economic Development Commission plus the cities of Perrysburg, Rossford and Maumee – have invested $15,000 each to have a study conducted on whether or not this area could support a massive sports complex. “I think there is a demand,” said Wood County Economic Development Commission Executive Director Wade Gottschalk. “We all know parents who drive kids to tournaments every weekend. We want to see if there’s enough demand for something of this scope.” Perrysburg Mayor Mike Olmstead suggested the feasibility study after visiting the Grand Park sports campus near Indianapolis. That 400-acre facility includes more than 31 multipurpose and soccer fields, 26 baseball diamonds, and an indoor soccer and events center. “It’s a great idea,” Gottschalk said. That’s why experts in the field have been brought in to do impartial evaluations, he added. If the study finds that such a sports complex would be feasible in this area, then the next question is where, Gottschalk said. Some suggestions have been made that acreage in between Perrysburg and Bowling Green, somewhere along Ohio 25, would be considered. “But we’re not to that point yet,” Gottschalk said. Some signs point to a large sports complex being successful here, he added. There is ample open land, a large population, and good transportation access. “We’ve got better interstate access,” Gottschalk said. The study will look at the number of people likely to be drawn here for tournaments. “How much can we attract from the outside,” he asked. A local sports complex would benefit area residents by shortening their weekend drives to some tournaments. But the big win would be attracting business to the region from those families. “These tournaments draw thousands,” Gottschalk said. “You’ve got hotels being booked. You’ve got restaurants being used. You’ve got stores being shopped at. Those would be new dollars coming into the county.” Gottschalk doesn’t expect the feasibility study to be completed before the first of 2018.


After 50 years, curling club has a place to call home

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After the bagpipes played and shots of Scotch were gulped down, players of the “quirky” sport of curling dedicated their new home in Wood County on Saturday. “It’s been a dream for a long, long time,” said Ed Glowacki, a long-time member of the Bowling Green Curling Club. “I’m going to ask a lot of people to pinch me today.” The new Black Swamp Curling Center takes the place of the ice sheets at Bowling Green State University Ice Arena, which the curling club had to share with several other skating groups. The new facility, which has four sheets of ice just for curling, opened one year shy of the curling club’s 50th year. “Dreams do come true,” said Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards, who shares a Scottish background with the sport of curling. “You have demonstrated from the very beginning determination and true grit.” Edwards shared a Scottish blessing with the curlers, spoken first in Gaelic form then in English. “Long may your chimney smoke,” he said. The new curling center is located at 19901 N. Dixie Highway, formerly home to Perry House Furniture and an Amish furniture store. “Actually, my dining room table was right here,” Shannon Orr, past president of the curling club, said as she pointed toward the ice. “Now it’s sheet A.” As seems fitting, the initial sketches for a new curling center were scrawled on a bar napkin, well, several bar napkins. A long-held tradition in the gentlemanly sport of curling is that the winners buy the losers a drink. So it was after one of those games that some of the curling club members started scribbling out ideas for a new curling center, said Scott Helle, a former president of the club. They knew it was a tremendous challenge, but they also knew their fellow curlers were a devoted crew. “My dad always told me, you learn who your true friends are when you start a concrete project and a roofing project,” Helle said. They learned the curling club was full of true friends. “That’s really what curling is about,” Helle said. “It’s a little bit about the ice, the rocks, the brooms,” but primarily it’s about the family bonded by the centuries old sport. The former furniture store was transformed into a curling facility completely by volunteers. “That is an amazing testament to curling volunteers,” Orr said. The transformation was helped with a few grants, plus corporate and individual donations. “This is truly a community endeavor,” Orr said. Current curling club president Brian Zimmerman described the dedication. “We went from concrete, mold and dust to some pretty good looking sheets” of ice, he said. “We came here with a passion for curling. This is yours.” The sport of curling began in the 16th century,…