Sports

BGSU sports management students to get behind the scenes look at Super Bowl

By PARKER BROWN Submitted by the SPORTS MANAGEMENT ALLIANCE AT BGSU The Sport Management Alliance (SMA) is sending 32 lucky Bowling Green State University (BGSU) students to one of the largest sporting events on the face of the Earth: Super Bowl LII. Come February, they will spend a week in Minneapolis, getting a first-hand glimpse on what it takes to put on such a massive entertainment spectacle. On February 2, 2014, 112.2 million Americans tuned in to watch the Seattle Seahawks defeat the Denver Broncos in a 43 – 8 affair. It remains the last time SMA had student representatives working the Super Bowl until this coming year. But it’s not just the game that matters to SMA and the students. What matters is what the opportunity represents. “This trip provides the opportunity for our members to get experience in the field, build their resumes and network with professionals,” said Courtney Burson, Travel Coordinator for SMA and Junior in the Sport Management program. “Ultimately though, the goal is help them with professional development.” Trips like these are where SMA’s main purpose truly comes to life. The organization is founded on the belief that providing students interested in the sports industry with real life experience and opportunities to pick the brains of executives and employers not only directly benefits the student but gives SMA and BGSU more prestige as well. This aspect goes beyond just the students preparing to graduate, extending to the underclassmen who likely have little to no professional athletic experience in a collegiate or professional environment. Out of the 32 students who will be heading North to Minneapolis in late January, just under half are either freshmen or sophomores at BGSU. Juniors lead the way by overall numbers with 15 attendees, but there are mix of all classes including one graduate student. Some may be getting the opportunity early or late in their college careers, but learning how to come together to put on a sporting event is the underlying theme that unites them all. What better way to get a crash course in event management than watch the professionals do it at one of the largest sporting events in the world? “First off, I think they will realize how tough it is to organize an event like this,” said SMA President and Junior Sport Management major, Brian Lobban. “This is something the Host Committee has been working on for probably over two, three, maybe even four years.” Lobban, who has seen multiple iterations of SMA through his years as a committee member, leader and president, is hopeful the trip will help inspire some to take the industry a little more seriously. “I think the big lesson you can learn is that there are so many things that go into an event,” said Lobban. “When people think of the Super Bowl, it’s not…


Family values at the heart of star sport broadcaster Jay Crawford’s life

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The first image Jay Crawford flashed on the student union ballroom screen Tuesday night was one of him on his graduation day in 1987. Here he was in all his 22-year-old finery, gold necklace visible because his shirt collar was unbuttoned, and long locks hanging underneath his mortar board. The image was a fitting introuction to his talk “You Can Get There from Here,” in which he talked about his journey from Bowling Green State University to a tiny TV station in Hazard, Kentucky, and over 30 years all the way to ESPN’s flagship show SportsCenter.  That “really groovy picture of me,” he said, caught him on the first step of his journey. In the talk the Sandusky native offered advice and encouragement to students about how to pursue a career. That photo also introduced an important undercurrent to Crawford’s success story. He was flanked by his parents. “The people on left and right had an undying faith and belief in me,” he said. They worked hard to put him through college debt-free. “It was my job to never let them down,” Crawford said.  “I want my parents to be proud of me. I want them to understand I appreciate the sacrifices they made for me.” Crawford is spending this academic year as an executive in residence in the School of Media and Communications. In April as part of a cost cutting move, ESPN bought out his contract. The terms of his separation agreement with ESPN will keep him from taking another media job until late 2019. This period is his “practice retirement,” he said. Introducing Crawford, Tariel Turner, an undergraduate student, said has been impressed by Crawford’s “ability to listen, and not just listen, to understand and to affirm.” The qualities that allowed him to ascend through sports broadcasting are rooted in the qualities he learned from his family, particularly grit and work ethic. “Work ethic is a choice,” he said. “If you choose to be the first in and the last out and work harder than all your colleagues, you’ll be rewarded. People from this part of the country have it.” With family members sitting in the front row, he talked about his uncle who was a farmer. No one, he said, worked harder or longer. His Auntie Annie raised four kids by herself. The children went on to get master’s degrees. And after having to quit high school to help support her family, she received her high school diploma at 95. “That’s where I come from,” he said. These folks raised children and grandchildren and “put them through college and stressed the importance of education.” Even before Crawford graduated he put in long hours at BGRSO while his classmates were at the Brathaus. His first job was in Hazard, Kentucky. He was a one-man sports operation….


WBGU-TV to broadcast BGSU hockey game live, Dec. 1

From WBGU-TV For the first time in nearly 40 years, WBGU-TV will air a live broadcast of a Bowling Green State University hockey game. The game will be a match-up of long-time rivals BGSU and Bemidji State. It will air at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 1. Viewers should check their television listing for specific channel number. The game will be a true local production with BGSU students producing the promotional videos, operating the cameras, and running the video board under the direction of WBGU-TV staff. “This is an excellent opportunity for our students to have real-life and real-time experience working as part of the crew on a live hockey broadcast,” said WBGU-TV General Manager Tony Short. “This type of experience goes a long way once students graduate and begin seeking employment in the media communications field.” The game also brings a new option to WBGU-TV viewers as the station revisits sports programming. “We’re hoping those who follow hockey, or even those who have never seen a game, will tune-in to see how the BGSU Falcons perform,” WBGU-TV Co-General Manager Tina Simon said. “Airing sports, let alone, a live game, is something very different for us and we hope the viewers will enjoy it. BGSU has a great hockey team and it should be an exciting game.” Local businesses are encouraged to support the broadcast and various sponsorship packages are available. To learn more, call Doug Cameron at WBGU-TV at 419-372- 7128 or visit wbgu.org/hockey. Individuals also can support the broadcast by visiting wbgu.org/hockey. Plans are to air a second live hockey broadcast Friday, Feb. 2 at 7:30 p.m. when BGSU takes on Michigan Tech. WBGU-TV 27 is a PBS affiliate and partner of Bowling Green State University serving a 19-county region with award-winning programming and educational resources. For more information, visit www.wbgu.org.


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 offered schools free membership for…


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’ pool. “I used to pretend…


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 in the School of Human…


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, Glowacki said. “We figure it’s…


BGSU professor Nancy Spencer was on the line at Battle of the Sexes

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When Nancy Spencer was offered the chance to be a line judge at the tennis match dubbed the Battle of the Sexes, she at first demurred. Now a professor at Bowling Green State University, she was a 24-year-old at Corpus Christi, Texas, when former men’s tennis champion Bobby Riggs challenged women’s champion Billie Jean King to a match. But a few months earlier Riggs, as much as showman as an athlete, had defeated Margaret Court. Spencer said she was so “devastated” by that outcome “I had told myself I wouldn’t watch the next match.” Technically she wouldn’t be watching the match, the official said, she’d be watching the lines. He sweetened the deal by offering her a couple complementary tickets for friends and a pass that would allow her to tour the Astro Dome, then “the eighth wonder of the world,” where the match was being held. So on Sept. 20, 1973, she was at the center line making calls for a match that made history. She was one of three women officiating the match. In the wake of the release of the major motion picture “Battle of the Sexes,” starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell, Spencer will give a talk on her experience at the match Monday, Oct. 16, at 7 p.m. in room 111 in Olscamp Hall on the BGSU campus. The match, Spencer said, was big news. Making the four-hour drive from Corpus Christi she stopped to get gas, and the attendant asked her out of the blue who she thought would win the match. Few people followed tennis at the time. The event drew the largest crowd to watch a tennis match, 30,472. The crowd was packed with celebrities including sports figures such as Jim Brown and George Foreman and Hollywood stars such as Lee Major and Farrah Fawcett. To warm up the crowd and the line judges, the main event was preceded by a celebrity mixed doubles event pitting Andy Williams and his wife, Claudine Longet, and Merv Griffin and actress Sandra Giles, who had dated Riggs. Spencer said during the main event she was a little nervous, but ended up making only five or six calls. King and Riggs kept play on the edges of the court. The most nervous she got was when Riggs questioned a call. But she remained firm and confident of the call. Of the actual tennis, she recalls little. She just concentrated on the line and blocked out what was happening on the court. Spencer said she did notice the player’s feet, especially the blue suede shoes King was wearing. Spencer later bought herself a pair. “I do remember at one point I didn’t know if Bobby Riggs was going to step it up. I knew this match was going in Billie Jean’s favor. I realized he really…


Hockey tournament raises funds for Habitat for Humanity

Submitted by HABITAT FOR HUMANITY OF WOOD COUNTY In support of Habitat for Humanity of Wood County, celebrity hockey players and Wood County-area residents competed in the 2nd annual Hockey for Habitat charity ball hockey tournament on September 30. Taking place at Bowling Green City Park, the event raised thousands of dollars to support Habitat for Humanity’s home building and home repair programs. The event featured several celebrity players including Kyle Rogers (Walleye, retired), and Ryan Wichman of WTOL. “Hockey for Habitat is all about mixing mission with fun, and we’re thrilled to be able to present this event once again,” said Mark Ohashi, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Wood County. “Last year, it was a huge success, so we’re looking forward to raising even more money this year.” The tournament weekend kicked off with a celebrity hockey player “draft night” on September 29. At the event, teams were able to select from former professional hockey players to add to their teams. Draft order was based on fundraising totals, with the highest fundraising team awarded the top draft pick. Ryan Wichman of WTOL helped MC the event as well as serving as a celebrity free agent. Hockey fans had an opportunity to meet and greet with the celebrity hockey players in an intimate setting before the Saturday tournament. The Hockey for Habitat tournament featured a number of children’s games, silent auctions, raffles, and food. Dozens of volunteers helped support the event, including the BGSU Alpha Phi Omega chapter, BGSU Habitat for Humanity Chapter, BG Aktion Club members, and members of the BGSU IT Department staff.


Antrone “Juice” Williams takes a shot at helping kids & raising awareness of stroke dangers

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Five years ago Antrone “Juice” Williams almost died on a basketball court in Maine. He was doing what he loved playing basketball. He was good enough to have played college hoops and semi-pro ball. And then in an instant he was down, just aware enough to know this may be the end. It wasn’t. After he came out of an induced coma, Williams started the long road to recovery. On Sunday Williams (formerly known as Moore) will be back on the court again. He’s not playing for fame or glory, but to help raise awareness about stroke disease and support his efforts to mentor young people. Williams is hosting his second H.O.W. We Hoop! Celebrity Basketball Charitable Game Sunday, Oct. 1 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Bowling Green Community Center. The game may be for fun, but Williams said that he expects School Superintendent Francis Scruci is intent on avenging a very serious beating by the team led by Williams. Williams said he “scored a few buckets,” but his concern is people may have been going easy on him. He doesn’t want them to. He’s proud that five years after nearly dying he’s able to “hobble” down the court, again playing the game he loves. Sometimes people don’t understand the lasting toll a stroke can take, he said. He lost more than two million brain cells on the way to the hospital on the day he was stricken. His outward appearance can belie the damage that’s  beneath the surface. Still he persists. “It’s all about how you perceive your strengths,” he said. “I want to be here ‘til the Lord calls me home.” The donations collected at the door will go toward helping his charitable organization Team H.O.W. – Helping Others Win – file the paperwork to secure 503C tax exempt status. The organization supports Williams’ youth mentorship through basketball efforts. He’s particularly concerned, he said, about helping the children of single mothers. “When I came back in this world I had a plan to help inspire kids,” he said. Others joining him on the court will include educators, trainers, Parks and Rec employees and politicians. State Sen. Randy Gardner, last year’s MVP, returns. Others on the court will be for Team Scruci – Stacey Lucas, Jadon Nichols, Lexis Rogers, Kirk Cowen, Bryan Wiles, Kirk Cowen, Kirk Mass, and Kristin Otley, and for Team Juice – Williams, Damien Womack, Steve Cramer, Joe Kilpatrick, Hailey Mass, Theresa Gavarone, Posta Boy of Ball up, Eric Fletcher, and Ivan Kovacevic. Mayor Dick Edwards will be on the sidelines and Clint Corpe of WBGU-FM’s “The Morning Show” will be the announcer. The event starts at 1 p.m. with youth basketball skills clinic. Register ahead of time at eric.fletcher@bgohio.org. Then the youth participants will scrimmage at half-time of the celebrity game, which…


City athletic fields taking shape by community center

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The 20 acres behind the Bowling Green community center are gradually taking shape – with soccer goals to score, obstacles to climb, and soon open grassy fields to play on. Last year, four of the 20 acres just south of the community center were turned into “pristine game fields,” said Kristin Otley, director of the parks and recreation department. That was the first goal for that site in the five-year master plan, Otley reported to the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Board last week. Then an obstacle course was built for those wanting an extra challenge. And a portion of the acreage is being restored as a natural prairie area. Next the remaining 12 acres or so will be leveled and reseeded for an open grassy play space. “The plan has always been to level and seed,” so the site will be “playable for anything.” In time, the space could be used for some outdoor fitness classes, Otley said. Parking for the athletic site is in front of the community center, so a trail will be paved between the parking lot and the fields. And since Newton Road has flooded twice in recent years and required closure of the community center, the paved trail may be wide enough to be used as an emergency roadway from Haskins Road to the community center. Eventually, restrooms and more storage may be added to the athletic fields as well, Otley said. A fence was erected last year along Haskins Road to keep soccer balls from bouncing in the road and kids chasing after them. And earlier this year, a fence was constructed between the athletic fields and the fairgrounds to the south by the National Tractor Pulling Association. The policies approved by the board for use of the fields state that the space is designed for sports such as lacrosse, rugby, soccer and volleyball. The site will be used primarily as a game field site for various sport leagues and tournaments. Upon approval of the parks and recreation department, the fields may also be used for sports camps or clinics. The policies document gives the parks and recreation department the first priority for scheduling and usage of the fields. Groups that partner with the department will have top priority, followed by sanctioned clubs/organizations with a non-profit status, and then for profit organizations. The fields may only be used with approval from the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department. Also at the meeting, park facilities coordinator Tim Stubbs reported on progress with plans to renovate the Rotary Nature Center in Wintergarden Park. The final drawing and specs are completed, and six to seven contractors have expressed interest in the project. “We’re hoping we can get this thing going and done by spring,” he said. In other business at the park and…


BGSU grad launches petition drive to save Forrest Creason

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News A Perrysburg woman hoping to reverse Bowling Green State University’s decision to close the Forrest Creason Golf Course at the end of the current season. The decision was announced in March. Cheryl Joyce, a 1986 BGSU alumni and retired WBGU-TV employee, said she was approached by a fellow member of the club who said something should be done convince university officials to change their minds about the fate of the course. A family issue prevented Joyce from acting then, but about a week ago, she launched a petition drive on change.org (see petition). The petition, addressed to BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey and Chief Financial Officer Sherideen Stoll, has attracted 81 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon. For Joyce, who started playing at the course 30 years ago, it is a treasure that merits more investment by BGSU, not closing. “It’s part of the community.” People from college students to senior citizens use the course. “It’s busy,” she said. “It’s not as busy as it used to be, but it’s busy.” Part of its appeal, she said, is that it’s an accessible course. “Forrest Creason is a great course for the average golfer. It’s not a high end country club where you have to dress to the nines to play golf.” While it has its share of hazards, sand traps and water, those add to its appeal without making too difficult to play whether for a beginner, a senior citizen, or a woman, she said. The course is where Joyce started playing golf in 1988 after she began working for BGSU. Now she runs two golf leagues at the course and volunteers in the clubhouse. If that clubhouse could be updated, she said, it may help attract more golfers. Finding a way to control the geese, she said, would be another improvement. Dave Kielmeyer, spokesman for BGSU, said that a consultant was hired to look at what the course needed. The consultant found it would require a $900,000 investment to bring it up to where it could be competitive, and then it would not be a break-even operation for at least five to seven years, Kielmeyer said. Those improvements would include outdoor shelter facilities, a new clubhouse with food service, and a new irrigation system. Kielmeyer reiterated the university’s rationale for closing the course. The course is operating at a $120,000 deficit, and those keep building. “We cannot continue to ask our students to subsidize.” Those students, the millennials, are less inclined to play golf studies have shown, Kielmeyer said. Joyce said that isn’t borne out by the number of students she sees on the links. The course, she added, gives students an inexpensive way to start playing. A study commissioned by the National Golf Foundation found millions of millennials do play golf, but their rate of participation is lower…


Skateboard, scooter sports teach more than stunts

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Cautious adults cringed as the carefree youth demonstrated their skate park skills – flipping and twisting in the air – seeming to defy gravity. The kids show up almost every day to use the skate park in Bowling Green’s City Park, riding their skateboards, scooters, BMX and mountain bikes. Last week, the youth demonstrated their skills for the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club. Many of them have been inspired and instructed by Don DiBartolomeo and Matt Bowley, of The Right Direction, a non-profit organization that uses action sports to teach life skills. “He took a childhood activity, riding a bike, and parlayed it into a career,” Kiwanis member Scott Seeliger said of DiBartolomeo. “They’ve affected the lives of young people.” The Right Direction teaches kids far more than stunts on their skateboards and scooters. The organization teaches time management, organization and communication, DiBartolomeo said. The youth learn practical skills, like how to work on their bikes, and community skills like how to create a fundraiser to aid local organizations. Last year, the kids performed 3,500 hours of community service and collected 2,000 pounds of food to donate to local food pantries. “It gives the kids a chance to step out of their little bubble,” DiBartolomeo said, and be part of the bigger community. And the skate park in City Park gives them a safe place to practice their skills. When the skate park was first constructed, some questioned whether it would get much use. But nearly every day, kids are at the park, fine-tuning their stunts. “It gives these kids something to take interest in,” DiBartolomeo said. And they show their appreciation for the site by keeping it clean from trash and graffiti. “They kids are very respectful.” “These guys take care of this like it’s their own house,” Bowley said of the skate park. For many of the youth, action sports filled a hole in their lives, Bowley said. They aren’t the kids who fit into traditional sports like football or basketball, or who enjoyed organizations like scouting. The Right Direction, with its loose rules, fit them better. “There’s no governing body for it. We saw a need and we filled it,” DiBartolomeo said. The Right Direction also offers an opportunity for families to take pride in their kids, he said. Parents who can’t cheer on their kids at Friday night football, can watch them perform feats of skill and daredevil acts at various camps, performances and competitions. “We made a bridge for them to be proud of their kids,” DiBartolomeo said. “This might be the only award that kids gets. It feels good.” The Right Direction gives youth who may be struggling with grades a chance to learn that commitment can make a big difference, DiBartolomeo said. It’s not unusual for a kid to practice for…