Category: Pursuits

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Playing Safe

In her quest to make the stages and scene shops of America’s theatres just a little bit safer, Abby Ward will resort to any means necessary. Even nagging.

Ward is a senior theatre and finance major from Cary who has taken on one of the least glamorous roles in theatre. She is an emerging theatre-safety expert, an authority on protecting casts and crews from the many dangers lurking backstage. She plays her part proudly.
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Net Gains

Andrew Geison was walking across the spongy turf of Langhorst Field, lacrosse stick in hand, bound for the Elmhurst College crest painted at midfield. Geison, the College’s first lacrosse coach, has been making this walk a lot in recent months, usually alongside high-school lacrosse players visiting the College. This is where Geison makes his recruiting pitch. “I tell them, ‘This is where it’s all going to happen.’”

Geison was hired in August to launch the College’s newest varsity sport. But for now, he is a coach without a team, tasked with assembling a roster of athletes ready to take the field next March as the first Elmhurst College lacrosse squad. “I tell them they have an opportunity to come here and build a tradition.”

Geison is persuasive, but he knows there is a hole in his recruiting pitch. One of the challenges of trying to build a lacrosse program from scratch is that so many other lacrosse coaches are trying to do the very same thing at the very same time. This year alone, at least a dozen colleges will begin fielding NCCA Division III lacrosse teams for the first time.
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Back in Time

Walking into the Mill Theatre last week for a rehearsal of the play Days of Possibilities was a little like stepping into a time machine.

There was the peace-sign shaped stage. There was the soundtrack courtesy of Hendrix and the Beatles and Dylan. There were the frequent mentions of LSD and SDS. And everywhere there were college students arguing earnestly about the best way to change the world.

The ‘60s had returned.
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Courtroom Dramas

In a meeting room in the Frick Center, Elizabeth Romano was casting an icy stare at Joey Carrillo, asking him one more time to tell her the truth about what really happened that fateful night at Chuggy’s Bar.

Romano and Carrillo are members of Elmhurst’s mock trial team, and Chuggy’s is the fictitious nightspot at the heart of the criminal case they and hundreds of other collegiate teams are trying this year. In mock trial competitions, students and their teams earn points for convincingly simulating the roles of attorneys or witnesses in an ersatz courtroom trial. So in this early-morning practice session, Romano was playing a prosecuting attorney; Carrillo, a defendant charged with murder after the death of a passenger in the car he crashed following a long night of drinking at Chuggy’s. Romano’s mission was to punch holes in his account of the night.

“Did you turn on your radar detector even before you started your car for your drive home that night?” Romano’s prosecutor character asked at one point. And when Carrillo, seated in front of her, hesitated, she asked again: “Did you know you were going to drive recklessly that night?”

Romano, Carrillo and the other members of the mock-trial team have been grilling each other like this since August. That’s when they began preparing to try this year’s case, the details of which are laid out in a 300-page black binder supplied by the American Mock Trial Association. Every mock trial team in the nation gets the same black binder, and mastering the evidence and the statements between its covers is one of the basic tasks for competitors. But that’s the easy part. The real challenge has less to do with knowing your facts than with convincing everyone else in a courtroom that you know your facts.
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Her Best Shot

When Meghan Merklein heard the pop, she knew she was through with basketball for a while.

Merklein already was a high-scoring hoops standout at Plainfield Central High School when, late in her sophomore year, she landed awkwardly after leaping for a rebound and badly injured her knee. Doctors would later tell her that she had torn both her anterior cruciate ligament and her medial collateral ligament. But the pop she heard when she injured the knee had already told her all she need to know.

“I knew I was done,” she remembered recently. “It was the worst pain I’ve ever felt.”

Now, nearly six years later, Merklein is a senior pre-med major at Elmhurst leading the Bluejays women’s basketball team to one of its best starts ever. The Bluejays top scorer and rebounder, Merklein scored her 1000th career point last week in the team’s fifth win, a 64-58 road victory at Webster University. Two dates loom large in her plans for 2012: Merklein hopes to lead the Bluejays in NCAA tournament play in March; and in June, she intends to take to take her medical-school admission tests.

The pain she felt in the aftermath of her knee injury helps explain her determination to succeed at both challenges.
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Voice Recognition

MiddleWestern Voice, Elmhurst’s stylish, student-produced arts journal, is both a national award-winner and something of a local mystery.

Last month, the magazine won an Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker award, sometimes called the Pulitzer Prize of student media. Winning recognition on campus, though, has proven more difficult.

“I’ll tell people that I work on MiddleWestern Voice and they’ll say, ‘MiddleWestern Voice? I didn’t know you were in the choir,’” Creative director Annie Balavitch, a senior graphic design student from Muskegon, Michigan, said in the MWV offices in the basement of the Frick Center last week. “They don’t know we exist.”
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Hoops Homecoming

When Chris Martin, the new assistant coach of the Elmhurst men’s basketball team, walks from the team’s locker room to the courts in Faganel Hall, he must pass a supersized photo of himself playing for the Bluejays half a decade ago, one of a series lining the corridor. Passing his own framed likeness every day is, Martin admits, “a little weird.” And, he said, the current Bluejays don’t hesitate to give him a hard time about the photo.

Not that Martin minds the teasing. He plays along and fires back. “I tell them, ‘Do things right, and you’ll have your own photo up there someday,’” Martin said after a team workout earlier this week.

Martin did a lot of things right when he was playing for Elmhurst.
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Reason to Cheer

Aaron Armstrong would like to tell you something about cheerleaders.

Armstrong is the coach of Elmhurst’s 15-student cheer squad, and at a recent practice he made sure to set the record straight about cheerleading.

“There’s this stereotype out there,” Armstrong told a visitor during a water break. “People think cheerleaders are all about being . . . peppy.”

But forget about the stereotype. What Armstrong and his cheerleaders want you to know is that cheerleading is a sport. And to succeed in a sport, you have to be an athlete.
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This New House

On the last afternoon before the start of spring break, the suite of student life offices in the Frick Center looked a little like a hotel lobby. Hurried people wheeled luggage around, traded goodbye hugs, wished each other happy travels. In one of the offices, Kevin Scheibel and Katie Schroeder were looking forward to a week of manual labor.

Scheibel, a sophomore, and Schroeder, a senior, each are leading one of the four teams of Elmhurst students fanning out across the country during the break to build new homes for Habitat for Humanity, the nonprofit organization that provides affordable housing for people in need.

Scheibel’s team will be working in Biloxi, Mississippi; Schroeder’s in Americus, Georgia. Others are heading to New Mexico and South Carolina, to put up siding, shingle roofs, install windows, cut wood trim and otherwise do what they can to help a good cause.

If your idea of a college spring break is limited to some combination of beaches, bikinis and beer, you probably haven’t heard students like Scheibel or Schroeder talk about the value of a different kind of spring break.
A year ago, Scheibel went to New Orleans with a few dozen other Elmhurst students to work on a Habitat project. He spent most of that week putting up siding, a job he had never attempted before, but one that became his specialty.

“It was one of the greatest experiences of my life,” Scheibel said last week, as he prepared for this year’s trip.
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A (Not Quite) Magical Game

The first meeting of Elmhurst College’s newest student organization had just begun, and already from a back corner of the Blume Board Room in the Frick Center came a question. “Are we going to wear capes?” someone wanted to know.

You don’t ordinarily hear a lot of discussion of cape-wearing in the Frick Center, but then there is nothing very ordinary about the Elmhurst College Quidditch Society. Quidditch is, of course, Harry Potter’s favorite game, and the ECQS must be the only club on campus devoted to translating a fictional pastime into an actual one. It won’t be easy. Harry Potter’s game is played above the rooftops by teams of wizards on flying brooms. The members of the ECQS, because they lack Potter-like magical powers, will have to play a more earthbound version that has lately become popular on college campuses: Players race around a field with broomsticks between their legs, scoring points by whipping volleyballs through elevated hoops.

The prospect of playing quidditch on the mall—and of turning Elmhurst, even for a few shining moments, into a quasi-Hogwarts—was enough to inspire an impressive turnout for the club’s first meeting. Thirty-five new quidditch players signed up. “What Harry Potter fan hasn’t dreamed of playing quidditch?” said first-year Christopher Puenner, when I asked him about the game’s appeal. “I mean, not to be corny, but this is like a dream come true.”
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Category Description

Posts about the things that people do.