Avery Polchinski, the back to school alum
Oct13

Avery Polchinski, the back to school alum

Avery Polchinski, class of 2016, earned his bachelor’s in marketing and his master’s degree in education from UMHB while earning accolades as a Cru basketball player. “I chose to attend UMHB not only because I wanted to play basketball there, but because it felt like home,” Polchinski said. “I can remember my first visit and I just felt like this was where I was supposed to attend college. It’s a special place filled with a lot of caring people.” It wasn’t long before Polchinski was settling in at his alma mater and playing with the Cru basketball team. He said that his time spent with his fellow players was life-changing. “It pushed me to my limits mentally and physically, and made me realize I can do things even when I think I can’t.” The alumnus said the rigors of being a disciplined player helped him manage his time better and ditch the excuses. “Everything that I have learned in basketball has prepared for me every aspect of life,” he said. “Through basketball I learned more about myself and life than the game of basketball itself.” As a freshman, Polchinski lived in the green hall of McLane in 2011. He remembers the ups and downs of being a first-year college student, and he has some words of wisdom for those who are just beginning their time at the university. “If I had any advice for a freshman it would have to be to follow the career choice that they would love doing, regardless of the money involved. No matter what it is, the path of happiness is far more important than the path of wealth.” Born and raised in Temple, Polchinski has a special connection to the central Texas community and chose to stay and teach in the area after graduating from UMHB. He currently works as a middle school math teacher and coach at Eastern Hills Middle School in Harker Heights. He finds being teacher difficult, but rewarding. “If I had to say one thing to future teachers, I would say this: treat each and every day as an opportunity to be a better teacher than you were the day before. Your students will be able to feed off of you, which will not only encourage them to do better, but it will make your classroom a better learning environment and help students thrive in school and in life.” He chose to become a teacher because he wanted to make a difference in the world. “There were many teachers that affected my life in a positive way, and I hope I can be a role model to some of...

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Volleyball player overcomes ACL tear with team’s support
Oct13

Volleyball player overcomes ACL tear with team’s support

Determination triumphs adversity as Sydney Stolz returns to the court for the 2017 season, stronger than when she left. The junior public relations major and middle defensive player of the UMHB volleyball team tore her ACL last season. Although not yet a starting middle, Stolz sees some playing time as Coach Frost allows. Nonetheless, being back with her team has made all the difference, and has fostered a sense of thankfulness. “After every game or practice, I’m thankful that I made it through. I like getting to meet people who have gone through the same injury and encourage them. I made so many connections throughout this process.” Stolz was on the court during a conference home game against McMurry University last season. “We were losing, so I was mad, and I play harder when I’m mad. I went to the right side to block a hit and felt my ACL pop.” The experience was not only painful because of the injury, but also because it happened in front of loved ones. “My whole family was there, all my friends… it was horrible,” Stolz said. But despite her injury, Stoltz’s priorities stayed intact. The volleyball player went through a full year of intense recovery and physical therapy to heal from her tear, and is still recovering now. “I had to go to physical therapy two days after my surgery just to get it moving again,” Stolz said. “I went to [physical therapy at] Scott and White twice a week, and went every day to my trainers here at UMHB.” Stolz praised her trainers for their patience with her. “My trainer Emily Patrick was fantastic,” she said. She is now playing again at full strength, albeit inhibited by the brace. “I came in stronger this season—with more muscle mass, so that was a big win.” Coach Rob Frost, who has been the head volleyball coach for seven seasons at UMHB, praises her recovery and athletic talent. “She’s able to practice and play 100 percent. She’s working hard to recover her transition speed. Her jump touch and hitting strength are in a great spot right now.” Having gone through several ACL recoveries himself, Frost was empathetic to Stolz during her recovery time. “He was very supportive through all this. He’s been very motivating. He checked in with me throughout the whole process but not pushing me to a point where it’s not healthy for me. He knows how easy it is to re-injure it,” Stolz said. The volleyball player’s teammates were also a major support system. “They checked on me a lot throughout my recovery. I got to talk to them on...

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Kathy: Professor, speech coach, survivor
Sep28

Kathy: Professor, speech coach, survivor

“It was devastating,” Kathy Owens, speech coach and speech communications professor at UMHB, said of her cancer diagnosis. “I will never forget that moment in the doctor’s office. That was truly one of those turning points in my life, and it was kind of hard to believe it was happening.” Kathy received her diagnosis of Stage II squamous cell rectal cancer on Jan. 4, which is such a rare form of cancer doctors hesitated to give a diagnosis. Kerry Owens, Kathy’s husband, who is also a speech communications professor at UMHB, said the diagnosis was difficult and took a while to pin down. Owens would eventually undergo chemo and radiation in the spring, surgery in the summer and another series of chemo treatments in the fall. “We really didn’t know what it was because the doctor wouldn’t commit one way or the other as to whether or not it was malignant. So, we had to wait a week to find out for sure. There’s not much of a reaction when you hear that; you’re just kind of numb,” Kerry said. An eight centimeter tumor was discovered during Kathy’s first baseline colonoscopy, which was performed to provide a reference point for future exams. Unfortunately, her results were anything but average. According to the World Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery, there have been fewer than 150 cases since 1919. Due to the lack of studies performed with squamous cell rectal cancer, doctors were reluctant to diagnose. “We were frustrated with the doctor at first because it felt like he was holding back information; like he just wouldn’t tell us anything. Then we found out it’s actually an incredibly rare form of cancer….[the doctor] was as lost as we were. This is truly one of those bad luck cancers,” Kathy said. Despite the unsure nature of their diagnosis journey, the couple found waiting to be the most difficult part. “Cancer could be a death sentence or something you recover from. The time we had to go through to find out if this was treatable or terminal was the worst part of it all,” Kerry said. Another obstacle the couple faced with such a rare cancer was the lack of an estimated recovery time. “The other scary thing about it being a very rare form of cancer is that there is no prognosis. They haven’t been able to do any long term studies to know what the outcome will be,” Kathy said. “We had lots and lots of questions but the doctors just didn’t have answers for them because most of us have never seen it before.” Kathy said even though the cancer diagnosis...

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League Cru vs. Cru Players
Sep14

League Cru vs. Cru Players

I sat down with two different gaming groups on campus, Cru Players and League Cru, hoping to discover tension between the two groups that would make for an entertaining story. What I discovered were two genuine, generous clubs with nothing but goodwill for their counterparts and the community of UMHB as a whole. Bells: Can you describe your organization? Jessie Moore, senior studio art major and president of Cru players: Cru players is a group for tabletop gaming and video games and anime and pretty much whatever we can get our hands on. It’s basically getting back to your childhood…We meet every Friday at the Moon building at 6:30 p.m. Maggie Rodriguez, junior graphic design major and president of League Cru: League Cru is pretty much the esports gaming community on campus. Matthew Boquiren, junior psychology major and vice president of League Cru: Esports is basically video games. In contrast to Cru players who play tabletop games like monopoly, we mostly stay online…We meet in Wells 131 biweekly. Set up is at 6:30 p.m. and we usually go until 11 p.m. Both clubs have a strong desire to serve the students at UMHB and do so through several different events. Rodriguez: We want to have teams enough to go to our sponsor’s competitions and win our students scholarship money. That’s our biggest goal right now. With our sponsors and with student orgs, we’re super thankful that we get to earn money and prizes that sometimes sum up to more than a thous and dollars. Moore: I like to provide at least a snack, because one thing we’re gonna do this year is raise awareness of student hunger. The basic meal plan is eight meals a week; and some students can’t afford or don’t have access to other meals. Bells: Events to look forward to? Moore: We’re going to have a chili cookout where anyone can cook, and a silent auction for student hunger. The chili cookout isn’t about the competition; it’s about hanging out with each other and raising awareness of the issue. We’re also doing a cosplay event for this first time this year. It’s open to everyone. The idea started with wanting to have a group of people from Cru players going to A-con [an anime convention]. One thing that will boost interest [in the anime group] is a cosplay contest. It’s a fun way to show off a costume and all of your nerdiness. Every other Thursday is anime night. We meet at the art building at 6:30 p.m. as well, and next week is our first meeting. We do it in art building lecture hall...

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Men’s soccer team prepared for conference play
Sep14

Men’s soccer team prepared for conference play

Men’s soccer kicks off their conference season Sept. 14 playing Le Tourneau in Lewisville, Texas. Brad Bankhead, head coach of men’s soccer, expressed high confidence in this season’s team. “We’re aged and seasoned and a little more experienced, so just from an experience standpoint, things should be better [this season].” With a whopping 11 seniors on a 51-person roster, nine of which are starters, the team is comparatively older and more experienced on the field than other teams, which facilitates their sense of community. “They are a special group of seniors and there’s good community in the group,” Bankhead said. “We’re very intentional about building team chemistry and making sure they love one another and enjoy what they’re doing.” Because the team is so focused on becoming a unit, the players are building a strong sense of camaraderie. “My favorite part about being on the team is definitely my teammates,” said reserve team sophomore Isaac Barcenas. “It’s great getting together knowing we’re all here for the same thing.” With a heavy focus on his seniors, Barcenas is preparing for the season as best as he can. “I’m looking forward to most enjoying games as much as possible, and making it the best experience for the seniors.” Barcenas also discussed the cathartic benefits of daily practice. “That’s what Bankhead tells us. With a lot of the players’ families in Houston, they played kind of distracted, so coach told us to use the two hours of practice as a pause from life and just focus on the sport.” Bankhead said that this season’s team is one of the better ones that he has coached in the 12 years that he’s been at the university. The coach hopes to inspire his players. “Our success relies on the players to make the goals. Players need to step up and have the mentality to score; that’s the biggest hurdle we have to overcome.” With tough practices, heavy filming sessions and raised expectations, losses are nothing to take lightly. “I think we can win every game,” said Bankhead. Following a 1-2 loss to Trinity University, he said Trinity university had a good team, but he doesn’t sleep well after any game the team loses. “Even though we don’t have punishments after we lose games, coach expects us to show it in the next practice. We better be working hard,” Barcenas said. With a perfect winning score as his goal, Bankhead speaks about a running theme that began from the team’s chaplain and continues throughout the season. “Our theme this year is ‘climbing the summit.’ And the summit for us is NCAA playoffs, making a deep...

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