Sports

Pro soccer player Robbie Rogers finds emotional release playing out of the closet

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Soccer star Robbie Rogers should have been happy. At 24 he had achieved so much of what he’d been dreaming about and working for since he was 7. He’d won a national collegiate championship in his freshman year at the University of Maryland. Played on the US National team. Played in the Olympics. Won a professional championship with the Columbus Crew. And now was supporting himself as a soccer player on an English team. Yet time and again he found himself after a victory alone in his room, feeing hollow. “Why am I not happy?” he found himself wondering. “Why am I not out celebrating with my friends?” While he was showing the world what kind of soccer player he was, Rogers was not showing even those closest to him who he really was beneath the surface, a gay man. “Football was my escape, my purpose, my identity” he told an audience at Bowling Green State University. “It hid my secret and gave me more joy than I could imagine.” Rogers visited BGSU at the invitation of We Are One Team, a student organization that promotes diversity and inclusion through sports, as part of its Our Voices series. A breaking point came in 2012. As he peddling on a stationary bike in England, he overheard two teammates’ casual, homophobic banter. It was the kind of talk he’d heard often, and he realized something had to change. He thought to himself: “There’s no possible way…


BGSU closing Forrest Creason golf course at end of season (Update)

Bowling Green State University University announced this morning that it will close its Forrest Creason golf course at the end of the 2017 season. The University determined that the course cannot reverse more than a decade of declining revenues and a mounting operating deficit given the northwest Ohio golf market and national trends. “This is not a decision we took lightly,” said University spokesman Dave Kielmeyer in this mornings statement. “We hired a consultant, developed a study and closely reviewed our options. Even with significant investment to make the course more competitive, it is unlikely that Forrest Creason could be a break-even operation. In today’s higher education environment, we simply can’t ask our students to continue to subsidize the golf course.” Kielmeyer later in an interview said the university lost $120,000 on the golf course in the past year, an expense that has been steadily climbing for the past decade. Usage is also down significantly. With the golf industry taking a hit nationally, it no longer “made any sense” for BGSU to operate a course. The university does not have any firm plans about how the land the course sits on will be used. “We want to get the community involved in the discussion,” Kielmeyer said. That discussion will likely begin in fall. The statement issued by the Office of Marketing & Communications continued: The University study identified the need for significant capital investments to address shortcomings at the course to make it more marketable. Challenges identified include an inadequate clubhouse,…


BGSU’s We Are One Team to host Robbie Rogers, March 15

From 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), will present soccer star Robbie Rogers, who has made history by becoming the first openly gay male athlete to compete in one of the five major North American Sports Leagues, as its 2017 spring speaker for the WA1T: Our Voices educational series. On Wednesday, March 15, at 6 p.m. in Olscamp 101, Rogers will be visiting BGSU to share his powerful story about how coming out has affected his soccer career and life. The event, titled “We Are One Team (WA1T) Presents: Robbie Rogers – Coming Out to Play,” is open to the public. “I couldn’t be more excited to visit BGSU in March. I’m extremely inspired by We Are One Team (WA1T) and look forward to sharing my experiences as an openly gay athlete as well as to meet the students who in many ways have motivated me to continue to live my life with purpose and passion,” Rogers says. Rogers has made a name for himself in the soccer world and beyond. He was first introduced to the game when he was four years old, and ever since then he has continued to train and follow his passion. He has played for the Columbus Crew, Leeds United, Stevenage and was a former member of the U.S. Men’s National Soccer team. Currently, he plays for the Major League Soccer Club L.A. Galaxy, representing number 14…


Ice arena gets new name as part of golden anniversary celebration

  From BGSU Bowling Green State University will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the ice arena with a weekend full of activities. That includes: The ceremony officially changing the Ice Arena’s name to the Slater Family Ice Arena. Appearances by some of BGSU’s greatest hockey players and Olympian Scott Hamilton ’94 (Hon.) Mike “Doc” Emrick ’76 doing the play-by-play for the BGSU Hockey game. A free figure skating show featuring Hamilton and two-time U.S. national champion Alissa Czisny ’09. EVENTS Friday, Feb. 10 BGHS/Bobcat Hockey vs. Findlay, 7 p.m. Skate with the Bobcats, 8:30 – 10 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11 Pre-game Party and Coaches Chalk Talk, 3:30 – 5 p.m. BGSU vs. Mercyhurst, 5:05 p.m. Ice Arena 50th Anniversary Celebration (emceed by “Doc” Emrick), 7:30 – 10 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 12 Figure Skating Show, 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. Community Open Skate, 3:30 – 5:20 p.m. To register: https://emsregics.bgsu.edu/IceArena50th


BG foundation gives grants to community groups

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Community organizations were given grants earlier this week to bring music, sports, reading and more to Bowling Green. The grants, from the Bowling Green Community Foundation, are intended to help the very young to the very old, and everyone in between. The annual grant program began after the 1993 BG Leadership class started the foundation in order to help local groups serve the community, explained Cal Bowers, president of the foundation. “What you’re doing speaks to the vibrancy of our community. You’re at the core of it,” said Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards. This year’s grants total $29,000 for 14 different projects. “That’s an impact to this community,” Bowers said. Following is a list of all the projects awarded grants. BG Area Community Bands – $2,250 for a community band festival. “This is our 10th year as a community band. We feel we have become a staple in the community,” said Ardy Gonyer. “We’re very grateful for the support of Bowling Green.” Thom Headley explained the grant will help the band put on a concert with a guest conductor on May 6. BG City Schools – $1,000 for One Book BG literacy program. Two third grade teachers, Jeni Niekamp and Jonelle Semancik explained the grant will help the schools purchase books for every pre-kindergarten through fifth grade student. The reading program unites families and the community around one common book. “It’s created to promote a love of learning,” Semancik said. BG Parks…


NCAA honors We Are One Team at BGSU for promoting diversity and inclusion

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The NCAA thinks there’s something special about the We Are One Team, a student-driven project that uses sports to promote diversity, acceptance and inclusion at Bowling Green State University. The NCAA thinks the project is so special that it is giving WA1T its Award for Diversity and Inclusion. President Mary Ellen Mazey along with founder Yannick Kluch will travel to Nashville in January to accept the honor. “BGSU has long history of this,’ Mazey said. “This is really what we’re all about and have been for many years.” Support for diversity is written into the Falcon Creed, which also originated with students. That’s evident, she said, in the president’s office where an African American president served for 16 years followed by two female presidents as well as in the student body which is about 23 percent people of color and international. It’s demonstrated, she said, in Not In Our Town and It’s on Us, all projects with which WA1T collaborates. Kluch said that the project grew from his own experience as an international student. He came here in 2012 to study as a graduate student in Popular Culture from his native Hamburg, Germany. He admits he had some reservations about coming from a metropolitan city to “small town Ohio.” But he found his place, in part thanks to sports. Early on he attended a football game, American football, not the soccer he played back home. He didn’t know anything about the game, he just…


BGSU trustees to vote on naming ice arena for Slater family

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COOMMUNICATIONS The Bowling Green State University Board of Trustees will be asked to approve the naming of the “Slater Family Ice Arena” at its Dec. 9 board meeting. The naming is in recognition of a gift from the Scott Slater family. Slater ’73 enrolled at BGSU in the fall of 1969 and first attended Falcon hockey games with his future in-laws, who had season tickets. Nearly 50 years later, Slater still has those same seats in the upper level of the Ice Arena, and in the decades since, he has done much more than just cheer for the Falcons. Slater and his family were major contributors to the “Bring Back the Glory” campaign that secured the BGSU hockey program. Now, the family is making a $2 million transformational gift to advance the future of the facility that means so much to them. “The Slaters are a true Falcon Family,” said Mary Ellen Mazey, Ph.D., president of Bowling Green State University. “Through the years, they have made the University central to their lives with support of BGSU Hockey and many community programs such as high school hockey and figure skating. It is fitting, and inspirational, that their dedication become a permanent part of the University with the naming of the Slater Family Ice Arena.” Over many years, Scott Slater’s six children were involved in youth and high school hockey and figure skating programs at the Ice Arena. His four sons have each been part of…


Dave Horger goes for knockout against cancer

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It seems fitting that Dave Horger envisioned his cancer as a heavyweight boxer beating him to a pulp in the first round. The name of his opponent in the ring – multiple myeloma. It’s also fitting that Horger, the radio voice of local news and sports for decades here in Bowling Green, would pull a rope-a-dope on his opponent and then come out swinging. Horger, with WFOB radio for 27 years then the 88.1 morning show for another five years, had become the beloved voice of Bowling Green. He was the voice of local news in the mornings and play-by-play sports at night. He grew up in East Liverpool, on the other side of Ohio, listening to Bob Prince broadcast the Pittsburgh Pirates. Because of the time zone differences, once the Pirates were done playing, he and his dad could sometimes catch the last couple innings of Harry Caray announcing the St. Louis Cardinals. “I remember thinking, I could do this,” Horger said of doing play-by-play on the radio. “I never felt it was a talent as much as it was a knack.” It was a knack that Horger soon proved he had. In 1971, he started hanging out at the East Liverpool radio station. He would grab news off the Associated Press machine, get some sports copy and some records and give it a whirl. “They were kind enough in the evenings to let me go in and use their production…


BG lease of city land for golf course questioned

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The golf course in the center of Bowling Green has long been a source of community pride and more recently a source of complaints of privileged use of public property. The city’s lease of the 60 acres to Bowling Green Country Club expires in 2025. The terms of the lease allow the city to terminate the lease anytime after 2015, with two year’s prior notice required. City officials recently received a detailed letter on the golf course lease, suggesting that the city view its options before the 2025 deadline. The request came from Bowling Green citizen Lynn Ackerson, who previously asked questions about the site at a park and recreation board meeting. “Raising the topic of the BG Country Club lease of 80 percent of City Park sometimes causes voices to raise and strong emotions to emerge,” Ackerson wrote to city officials. The nine-hole country club course is one of three golf courses in the city. “The BG Country Club Golf Course is apparently an important part of BG’s history,” she continued. “The semi-private BG Country Club is also perhaps one of BG’s best kept secrets and frankly a mystery to those that are newly aware of this gem and its relationship to our wonderful network of parks.” Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards responded with a history of the site, explaining that City Park was the original Wood County Fairgrounds. “The current arrangement indeed goes back that far,” Edwards wrote. The Wood…


Administration stands by high school soccer players’ right to take a knee

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN and DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News   Bowling Green School District has chosen to stand up for the right of its students who refuse to stand for the National Anthem. Three members of the girls varsity soccer team recently chose to kneel rather than stand before a game when the anthem was played. “They have a right to peaceful protest,” Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci said. “Currently our nation is experiencing one of the most trying times in its history,” Scruci said during Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting. “We have a presidential race that is challenging political parties, genders, ethnicities and the very freedoms that the Constitution protects.” Scruci referred to football player Colin Kaepernick, of the San Francisco 49ers, who peacefully protests by taking a knee during the National Anthem. “We have unrest in our communities with violence and people and police officers being shot on a regular basis,” the superintendent said. “We have professional athletes using their popularity to take political and societal stands and using their stage to make those statements in front of the world.” In a video posted by her mother on Facebook, one of the players Caroline Sayer explained why she “took a knee.” One of her fellow players, who is African American, was supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and was “getting a lot of negative feedback.” That prompted the player to say she would take a knee, Sayer said. Other students said they would come to witness her…


Kids with special needs benefit from challenge of sports through Rally Cap

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The turf room in Field House at Bowling Green State University is full of voices on Sunday afternoon. Lower voices of parents murmur from the bleachers along the wall near the door. Spread across the green before them are the encouraging, sometimes cheering, voices of college students. Rising above it all are the high, happy chatter of children at play. All this is punctuated the sounds of balls bouncing and being kicked. Welcome to a new season of Rally Cap Sports. The program, now in its fourth year, offers individual sports experiences in a non-competitive environment to children with a range of special needs, said Melissa Wilson, a BGSU senior who directs the program. Sunday’s kickoff marked the start of the program’s fourth year on campus. A few dozen kids are spread out around the turf room, each working with two or three college students. This kickoff, Wilson said, serves as an introduction for new participants, and a welcome back for participants from previous years. After Sunday there will be a basketball league this fall as well as a couple dances. For information contact: www.rcsbgsu.org. The program serves children with a wide range of needs, she said. Some are non-verbal, while others have mild learning disabilities. About 70 have participated to date. For all of them, sports in another setting is not a possibility. Jodi Clifford said her children are unable to play sports either at school or in private programs because of a…


Park district takes aim at creating archery range

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Briana Witte is aiming for a bullseye with one of the newest programs to be offered by the Wood County Park District. Witte, a woodland specialist with the park district, is heading up the archery program which will include a new range for archers on Linwood Road, near Bowling Green. The archery program came about as a result of town hall meetings held across Wood County, asking local residents about park programs they would like to see. Two of the top requests were kayaking, canoeing and archery. The kayaking and canoeing are now in place, and the archery is on target to be ready soon. Archery, unlike so many other sports can be enjoyed by people of varied ages and skill levels, Witte said. “You don’t have to be in really good shape. You don’t have to be strong. You don’t have to be fast. You just have to be patient,” Witte said. People will be able to use their own bows and arrows at the archery range, or they can use the compound bows purchased by the Friends of the Parks. “These are really nice because an 8-year-old can use it and with a few adjustments, a 50-year-old can use it,” Witte said of the compound bows. Adaptive bows will also be available for people who use wheelchairs or have other particular needs. Crossbows, which are typically used for hunting, will not be permitted at the archery range. Once completed, the…


Digby places fourth in 400 meters at Paralympics

AJ Digby, a 2016 Otsego High graduate, finished just out of the medals in fourth at the Paralympics Games this morning (Sept. 15) in Rio de Janeiro. According to https://www.rio2016.com, he ran a personal best of  47.34 seconds. On Monday he placed fifth in the 200 meter final.  


Chloe Higgins still a winner to BG

Stacey and Jeff Higgins learned today that their 11 year old daughter, Chloe, did not receive the most votes in the NFL Rush Kid Reporter Contest. As previously reported, Chloe was chosen as one of three finalists in a national kids’ sports writing contest based on her essay about her favorite team, the Seattle Seahawks. The public was able to vote on their favorite story once per day per device. Chloe was the only female finalist. Chloe’s mother Stacey took to Facebook this evening upon learning the results in order to thank everyone for their support. “Jeff and I received the news today that Chloe was not the grand prize winner in the NFL RUSH Kid Reporter Contest. While this is disappointing, she is still a winner to us! We will let you know what game her finalist prize includes when we know. We do wish to sincerely THANK ALL OF YOU that voted, posted, shared. and cheered her on. This has been a great experience even without the grand prize, and we are so appreciative of your support and encouragement. Both our girls are pretty darn amazing and it’s a privilege to have them celebrated by you.” Chloe is certainly still a winner to her family, friends, and all of Bowling Green. According to the NFL Rush website, she will receive a finalist prize of two tickets to a nearby regular season NFL game.


BG girl scores as finalist in football essay contest

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   To say that Chloe Higgins chose the Seattle Seahawks because of Skittles candy does not treat her fan status with the seriousness it deserves. Yes, the Seahawks caught her eye a few years ago when fans would throw Skittles onto the field every time a touchdown was scored by Marshawn Lynch, also a fan of Skittles. It wasn’t long before Chloe adopted the entire team – taking notes during games, keeping track of injured players, and taping games that she missed. Chloe, a Bowling Green sixth grader, is just 11. Last week, her fan status jumped to a whole new level. She has been selected as one of three finalists in a national writing contest sponsored by NFL RUSH. The organizers asked kids to write about their favorite NFL team and explain why that team is going to dominate this upcoming season. Chloe is the only girl among the finalists. The winner is chosen by online voting, which can be done at www.nflrushkidreporters.com/vote. Voting ends Thursday, Aug. 25, at noon.  People can vote once per day per device. Chloe’s mom, Stacey Higgins, told her daughter about the essay contest after reading about it on Twitter. “I just spent the rest of the afternoon in my room, gathering information,” Chloe said. The hard part was limiting the essay to 300 words. She wrote about the Seahawks’ draft picks, the “stellar” returning players, and the “goldmines” from free agency. She told of the “turn-key”…