Return of the Students: Fall 2016

After a long and quiet summer break, the sleeping campus is finally waking up again. On August 19, a new wave of freshman arrived, unpacked, and settled into their dorms. A total of 680 recent high school grads and roughly 140 transfer students have come to Saint Leo to start the newest chapter in their lives.

Even in scorching temperatures, many returning students and Saint Leo staff members arrived to help the new students get settled in. The office of Resident Life deployed their entire staff of Resident Assistants and Orientation Leaders to assist with the move-in activities. Even a handful of athletes, who already happened to be on campus for their pre-season training, stepped up to help. About a hundred boxes later, the new students were finally unpacked and able to get acquainted with their resident assistants and roommates.

“The most I’m looking forward to this year is having the ability to build the community within my hall with the programs I have planned. I think it will be even cooler partnering up with another RA to expand the community within the entire building. The planned programs will help the new students learn more about Saint Leo and what kind of potential they have here as a student” said Jennifer Litzen, a Resident Assistant in the Henderson hall.

Moving into a dorm on campus is one of the biggest steps in the life of a teenager and in the process of growing up. For most students, it is their first time away from home, so tensions tend to run a little high.

A thrilling new step that most teenagers are looking forward to can also be a difficult time in the lives of their parents. No longer being able to assist or care for their child at a moment’s notice is a drastic difference that many families are finding hard to get used to.

“It’s a lot of mixed emotions. I’m happy because it is a really exciting experience for him, but at the same time we are a little sad to let him go.” said Doreen Paiva while helping her son move in.

After welcoming all of the new students, parents reluctantly started to make their way home while their kids got to know their orientation leaders. In groups, the students participated in scavenger hunts and other games that allowed them to explore the campus. Throughout their first semester, first year students will be part of a class in which they will learn everything about Saint Leo University; from its history to the core values that initialized the rise of the institution.

“I’m mostly looking forward to meeting new people and trying to have a good relationship with my teachers and friends. I want to get good grades and make my parents happy, too. It was hard for my parents to drop me off here, but I guess they did not have a choice” said Seamus Chalmers, an incoming freshman from Titusville, Florida.

With a warm welcome from staff and returning students, the new freshmen are ready to kick start their first year of college without fear. Welcome, each and every one, to the Saint Leo family.

Oh, the Places You Will Go

At first glance, the tiny town of Saint Leo may appear not to have much to offer in the area of entertainment for incoming university students. Don’t let its size fool you; Pasco County, especially San Antonio, Dade City, and Zephyrhills, have plenty of interesting places to visit and fun things to do.

Just a short walk from the Saint Leo campus lies the historic town of San Antonio. Here, students can find a couple of barber shops when they are in need of a trim, a quaint park that has setups for a game of basketball, baseball, and soccer, and a couple of tasty restaurants, including the popular Mexican gem Pancho’s Villa and the new unofficial student hangout The Local pub. Prior to entering San Ann, students will also pass a drive up coffee shop called A Cup of Organic and a tasty BBQ restaurant by the name of On Q. Continuing on SR 52, students will also come across a bicycle shop, campus swag store, and Al’s Pizza Shop.

Heading in the opposite direction on 52, after passing Pasco High School and taking a right onto Meridian Avenue, students will find themselves in the heart of Dade City. Taking a left on 301 leads to popular eateries Del Carmen, Mallie Kyla’s Café (which also doubles as American Eagle Antique Mall), and Francesco’s New York Style Pizzeria. Also of note is a handy little shop called the Book Shack, a cheaper alternative to Barnes and Noble. The avid reader can find and purchase novels, some textbooks, and other forms of literature of varying categories and genres or exchange their own books for store credit. If one prefers the screen to the page, then travel a short way down 301, away from the direction of Dade City, and there sits the nostalgia-inducing Joy-Lan Drive-In Theater.

Downtown Dade City is mostly for sightseeing and dining. The historic courthouse, the jewel of the city, is a major tourist attraction, along with multiple antique shops. Patrons can visit several quaint little shops, such as Lori Ann’s, Annetta’s Antique’s, and Another Man’s Treasure to name a few, and find various collectibles, curios, and oddities. When hunger strikes, there is also a diverse selection of eateries to choose from. Some restaurants include TJ’s Deli and Ice Cream, Café Kokopelli, Lunch on Limoges, a Matter of Taste, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, and the newest addition to Dade City, Truly Mediterranean Grill, which serves authentic Greek cuisine. After lunch, patrons can grab desert at Olga’s Bakery or enjoy a cup of joe at Perk’s Café.

Continuing on 301 away from downtown, leads to more familiar locations. The city is home to a couple of sit-down restaurants, such as IHOP, Bubba Q’s, and ABC Pizza, as well as several fast food stops, like Wendy’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s, KFC, Taco Bell, Subway, and Checkers. A Burger King has also recently been added. Students can stock their dorms with food and supplies from Publix, Winn Dixie, or Walmart, as well as other smaller recognizable chain stores.

Just up 301 sits the town of Zephyrhills, popular for its plentiful restaurants, shops, and entertainment. Zephyrhills has all of the same grocery stores, drug stores, and fast food restaurants that can be found in Dade City, but with a few new interesting stops thrown in. Chili’s, Ruby Tuesday, Panera Bread, Sonny’s BBQ, Pizza Hut, and Happy Cow Frozen Yogurt are only a few of the popular chain restaurants that dominate the small town; but Zephyrhills also has a number of privately owned eating establishments, including Terra, a gluten-free option, Dimaggio’s That’s Amore, Sunrise Eatery, and the recently added Coney Island, a small restaurant famous for their foot-long hot dogs. Zephyrhills and Dade City alike are also home to several Chinese, Mexican, and Pizza restaurants.

Zephyrhills is also a popular place to shop ‘til you drop. Shops include Walmart, GameStop, Bealls, Ross, T.J. Maxx, Hobby Lobby, and, if you’re low on funds, several thrift shops. If trying on clothes isn’t enough fun, then students can catch a flick at the Zephyrhills Cinema 10 (now serving icee’s), roll a few balls and topple some pins at Pin Chasers bowling alley, or, for the nature lovers, take a scenic walk or jog around Zephyrhills park.

Students don’t have to go all the way to Tampa to have a good time; between San Antonio, Dade City, and Zephyrhills, there are a number of fun local hot spots to choose from to spend some free time without spending too much cash.

Saint Leo Sends Four Teams to Nationals

For the first time in its history, Saint Leo University was able to send not one, but four teams, to the National Spring Festival to compete for the National title. The Festival took place in Denver from May 16 to 21 and was hosted by the Metro State University and the Denver Sports Commission.

The first day of competition was a cold and rainy one, much to the surprise of the Saint Leo athletes, who are more used to warm and sunny weather. But despite foul weather, the Saint Leo athletes fought like Lions. “You just have to accept it. It’s the same temperature for every player and every team out there, so you grind. With these conditions, you just never know how the ball will react.” said junior Joey Savoie.

The women’s golf team seemed to get off to a rocky start under the tough conditions; after the first round the team placed tenth out of the twelve teams. But over the course of the next few days they managed to turn it around, climbing higher and higher in the ranks a little each day. Coach Baker was always close by to assist the players and give them advice. After four days the team was able to bring home a semi-finalist trophy, finishing 4th overall and placing three women in the top twenty of all individuals. Vilde Eriksen led the pack with a tie for ninth place, Marie Coors and Sabrina Rumbaugh tied for twentieth place, and Amanda Jakobsson and Margine Arguello added their own impressive results to the mix.

After topping an incredible season, the men’s tennis team went to the Championship with one goal in mind: to bring home a title. The team effortlessly bested Cameron University 5-0 and advance to the quarter finals and later, after defeating Northwest Missouri State, advanced to the semi-finals, where they met their greatest challenge. The Lion’s went head to head against the number two ranked Armstrong state, but emerged victorious; with a final score of  5-2, the team advanced to the title match against Hawaiian Pacific Uuniversity.

The Lions were able to take a 2-1 lead in the doubles before heading into the single matches. It was there that Hawaii Pacific showed their true strength and was able to catch up. After several close games, only Egor Panyushkin was able to win his single match. In the end the Lions fell short, losing 5-3 against the new national champion. Overall, it still remains a historical national championship for the men’s tennis team.

The women’s tennis team showed just as much talent as their male counterparts. After many matches, including a strong win against Southwest Baptist University in the quarter-final, the number two ranked Lions faced the number one ranked BYU- Hawaii, that was unbeaten in the 2016 season, in the semi-finals. The Lion’s put up a good fight, but in the end BYU remained undefeated.

However, the team in no way considers this a failure. Being a semifinalist for the second time in the last three years is added up to a successful end of the season. On top of that, Natalia Sidliska, Anastasia Wagner, and Isabella Robbiani received individual honors from the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, and Pauline Helgesson was nominated for the NCAA woman of the year, an honor that no other Saint Leo athlete ever had.

After a historic season for both the men’s and women’s tennis program, head coach Chris Frusci has stepped down to pursue a new career opportunity at Baylor University. After leading the Saint Leo teams to a championship title at the Sunshine State Conference and some exceptional results at nationals, Frusci received the 2016 ITA Division II National Coach of the Year award.

“While disappointed he was with us just a few years, it is clear by the programs’ results he is a fantastic coach and recruiter. Baylor is getting a talented and dedicated coach. Saint Leo will now go about finding the next great coach to lead our programs and keep them in the national spotlight,” said Athletic director Francis Reidy.

The First National Championship Title Ever

The Saint Leo University Men’s Golf team has rewritten school history in many ways. In the men’s National Championship Tournament the top sixteen teams and the top individuals in the country start out playing three full rounds to crown the individual champions, while the best eight teams qualify to continue in the medal matches.

Coach Chris Greenwood picked Hugo Bernard, Ryan Gendron, Griffin Clark, Joey Savoie and Liam Ainsworth to represent the Saint Leo Lions. Being ranked second in the country encouraged Lions to better the semifinal result from the previous year, where they fell short against Lynn University.

Thanks to the overwhelming desire to succeed, not even the rainy weather could extinguish the internal fire that had been lit within each member of the team. The Lions started off with an incredible first round, putting them quickly into first place. Hugo Bernard took the individual lead over the field.

After a successful start, the five representatives confidently went into the second round where they maintained their first place position while also extending their lead eleven points past the second place team, Chico State. Hugo Bernard maintained the first place, while Joey Savoie moved up to second.

“This golf course can be played a lot of different ways, and we’re playing it aggressively. It fits the way we play golf because there’s a lot of risk and reward. It looks good to all our eyes, to be honest with you – even me as the coach,” said Coach Greenwood after the second round.

By the third round, fatigue had begun to set in; that and the rising wind speed made for quite a challenge. After shooting 66 and 65 (-13 under), Hugo Bernard shot a 72 on the last individual round. Thanks to his unwavering lead, Bernard was crowned the first ever National Champion from Saint Leo University. With Liam Ainsworth’s tie for eighth place and Joey Savoie in eleventh, the Lions advanced to the medal match as number one.

“I’m proud of the guys – they played well, anytime you can shoot those numbers you are obviously doing a lot of things right. We will enjoy the fact that we did this the last three days; the next two days though we gotta go back out and do it again. And we will be back up early in the morning tomorrow and hopefully just keep it going.” said Greenwood.

During the medal match, the best eight teams face off in order to advance to the next round. In the first round, number one seed Saint Leo had to face off against the number eight seed, Wilmington University. Saint Leo dominated the match against Wilmington by winning three games, losing zero, and resulting in a tie twice. In the semifinal round they had to face their old foe, Lynn University, who won the National Championship in 2015.

Out of this rivalry, a nerve-racking face off took place. While Savoie and Bernard won their matches, Griffin Clark and Ryan Gendron fell short to the Lynn players. In the end, it came down to Gendron; Ryan was able to get a tie against Lynn’s Andres Miranda. With two wins, two losses, and one tie, a tiebreaker ultimately declared the Saint Leo Lions the victors.

On the final day of the Festival, Saint Leo faced Chico State University to crown the new National champion. While Ainsworth and Savoie came up short against the Chico State players, Gendron and Bernard scored big for Saint Leo. Once again it all came down to the final players, Griffin Clark for Saint Leo and Kelley Sullivan from Chico State. Clark played proficiently through to the last hole where he claimed the winning point that lead the men’s golf team to victory, making them the first golf team from in Saint Leo to win the National Championship.

The men’s head coach Chris Greenwood was also a big winner. Greenwood earned the Dave Williams DII National Coach of the Year award after this promising season, which marked his third year as the Saint Leo head coach.

Outdoor Track National Championship

This past season, only one outdoor track athlete went on to represent Saint Leo. The National Championship meet took place in Bradenton, Florida at the end of May. Colett Rampf qualified for the 3000m steeplechase with the third fastest time in Division II. Two Saint Leo men, Rafal Matuszscak and Valenting Lenz, hit the NCAA B Provisional, but did not quite make the cut off that would allow them entrance into the National meet. Colett, who had already earned an All-American award in the Cross Country season, failed to be beaten by any Division II athlete during the entire spring season.

After advancing to the finals, Collet ran a fabulous race and only had to let go four other athletes on the final laps. The fifth spot earned Colett her first Outdoor Track All-American honor, as well as an Academic All-American for outstanding academic and athletic achievements.

Learfield Directors’ Cup Final Standings

In addition to having major success with its athletic program, Saint Leo University ranked second place among all 307 Division II schools in the Country. The final score is the result out of the final standings and national rankings from all sports combined. Only Grand Valley State University managed to earn more points in all sports combined to take their second straight win in the Learfield Directors’ Cup.

“This is an incredible moment for Saint Leo Athletics. The class that entered Saint Leo in August 2012 arrived when we had broken the top 100 in the Directors’ Cup standings for just the second time in program history. That class graduated this past May as part of the second-best overall athletics program in all of Division II. Those student-athletes believed in our goals and mission, as did our coaches and staff and university administration, and together they made today’s achievement possible,” said Francis X. Reidy, Saint Leo’s director of athletics.

The spring athletic season has been a most memorable one. There is no doubt that the young athletes of Saint Leo, as well as the rest of its students, will continue to make history in the years to come.

A Festival for the Freshmen

Nothing says summer like the smell of hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill or lively music and laughter under the sun. On Jul. 23, Saint Leo was in full swing during the annual Summer Fest.

The event, hosted by Brandee Bolden and Undergraduate Admissions, invited incoming freshmen and their families from to tour the campus, enjoy a free concert and dinner, and make some new friends before the start of the fall semester.

“We enjoy giving our incoming students and families a great experience on campus,” said Bolden. “The event is a ‘congratulations for graduating and choosing an amazing university’ event.”

The bowl was encircled by an array of food trucks that doled out an assortment of mouthwatering cuisines, such as hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches, smoothies, and Italian ices. Contributing vendors included Mr. C’s Grilled Cheese, Smoothin’ and Shakin’, The Fishin’ Chicken, and many more. In addition to all the deep fried favorites, guests with special meal vouchers were able to sit down to a nice meal prepared by Saint Leo staff outside of the Caf.

Students chit-chatted, played corn hole, and chowed down to the musical stylings of opening act, BelO, and headline artist, Michael Brun. Both the groovy reggae band and the Spotify famous DJ hail from Haiti and their soulful jams set the perfect mood; every song sounded like the season of summer itself.

As the evening wore on and the sky grew darker, it was time to break out the glow sticks! Students and faculty alike donned the multicolored, luminescent little tubes like jewelry and continued to party on into the night.

Some incoming students traveled from across the state, others from across the nation. David Freckleton, an incoming Criminal Justice major, journeyed all the way from New Jersey to attend Saint Leo.

“A good friend of my mother’s attended Saint Leo and kind of sold me on it,” said Freckleton, when asked why he was willing to move so far from home. “Besides, I was getting pretty tired of Jersey. I’m ready to see something new.”

David knew right off the bat that Saint Leo was the school for him, but some students had to take their time and do a little investigating before they could make a final decision.

“What really attracted me to the campus was the baseball team,” said Eduardo Rodriguez from Texas. “I did tons of research, contacted the coaches, and set up some private visits in order to learn more. And, well, here I am!”

Daniela Huerta, a General Biology major, and Kailee McLain, a Forensic Science major, are very excited to be roommates, but are even more thrilled just to finally be college students.

“I’m both excited and nervous,” said Huerta. “This is a whole new chapter in our lives.”

“I finally get my independence,” McLain Stated. “A chance to spread my wings and fly.”

Students and their families were highly impressed with the beauty of the campus and with the warm and friendly welcome from its staff and returning students.

“I can already tell that we are going to love it here,” said Daniella Huerta.

Priscilla Rodriguez, who attended with her son, Eduardo, is having mixed emotions about seeing her son leave the nest, but feels confident that he will be in good hands.

“When I first set foot on the campus, I immediately realized why he chose this school,” Priscilla said.

“I like the feel of the campus,” Eduardo added. “Everyone is so friendly. It reminds me of home.”

“Summer Fest was a success and a great event,” concluded Brandee Bolden. “We had multiple students post using social media about how much fun they had.”

No student went home empty handed that evening. Some guests left with a door prize, others left arm in arm with a new friend, and some departed with a new found feeling of confidence and readiness. Many of the incoming freshmen are leaving one home behind, but are happy to know that, thanks to a few friendly faces, they have just been welcomed into a new one.

 

 

Metro Madness

If they weren’t attending in person, then U.S. citizens were watching the Republican National Convention from the edge of their living room sofas; and now they can be found MC3.JPGglued to their television sets once again as the Democratic National Convention gets underway. But from July 21-24, thousands of Florida residents were taking a break from the Hillary/Trump head-butting to attend a convention of a different kind as Tampa welcomed back its widely popular anime convention, Metrocon, for its fourteenth year in a row.

Almost 12,000 fanboys and girls, Metrocon’s largest attendance yet, flocked to the Tampa Convention Center for a weekend of cosplay, panels, and all things nerdy.

“This is my sixth year attending Metrocon,” said Justin Moody of Zephyrhills. “And it was just as fun as the first time that I went back in 2010.”

MC4.JPGThe four-day event features a number of panels with themes ranging from TV to video games, sketch comedy and stunt shows, an artist and vendor room full of nifty merchandise, costume and video contests, a masquerade ball, and celebrity guests.

“Metro Night Live”, a comedy show parodying “Saturday Night Live”, and the Anime Music Video (AMV) contest are among some of the bigger events at the convention. Congoers can also choose from a plethora of panels featuring trivia, sing-a-longs, or even voice acting or writing tips.

“My favorite event was the Human Chess Match,” said Zephyrhills resident Michelle Cooper. “I’ve always liked the idea of a combat chess match; I actually discovered it at Metrocon one year, I had never seen it before. It’s really fascinating; all the guns and explosions. It’s like a real battle!”

The Human Chess Match is quite possibly Metrocon’s most popular event. The match pitsMC5.JPG heroes and villains from popular anime and video game franchises against each other in a life-size game of chess. The battle royal features an elaborate back story, spot on cosplayers that carry out their own impressive stunts, special effects, and plenty of surprises. This year’s match fell under the theme “Order vs. Chaos” and saw heroes such as Starkiller from the beloved game “Star Wars: The Force Unleashed” and Yang from the hit anime “RWBY” take on big baddies such as Alice from the twisted video game “American McGee’s Alice” and Batman’s archenemy, The Joker. At the end of the battle, Chaos had reigned supreme.

Some of Metro’s attendees come for the live entertainment, and others to hunt for deals in the vast sea of toys and memorabilia that is the vendor room. But all come to proclaim

their love for their favorite characters and bond with fellow con-goers through the art of cosplay, or costume role play. Imitation is, after all, the sincerest form of flattery.

MC6.JPG“I cosplayed as three different people this year, “said Michelle Cooper. “I went as Asuna from ‘Sword Art Online’, which I do almost every year. I also went as Miles Edgeworth from the ‘Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney’ video games and Shogo Makishima from the anime ‘Psycho Pass’.”

“I cosplayed as the character Mercury from ‘RWBY’,” said Joey Munn, a Tampa resident who was attending for his eighth year. “He was easy for me to play because he’s so relatable. We share the same kind of personality and attitude.”

Some cosplayers even take the opportunity to create and share their own original character. Steven Maynard spent weeks making his costume; a leather and fur clad

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creature in a blue motorcycle helmet the likes of which have never been seen.

“I’m a Japanese biker who was bitten by a demon,” said Maynard. “Now I’m slowly morphing into a creature that is unknown to me.”

Steven entered his creation in the costume contest, but sadly, did not take home the gold.

“I didn’t win,” said Maynard. “But there is always next year.”

Steven was in the right mindset. Metrocon is more than costumes and contests and stunt shows and dances; Metrocon is about expressing oneself and befriending others who share the same interests.

“I love Metrocon,” said Maynard. “There is nothing better than the people you meet here.”

“I always like to interact with others who have the same interests,” said Joey Munn.

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The Metrocon staff pulled together a little something special this year. Director of Operations Alex Craddock and the rest of the team organized a large raffle that attendees had the chance to enter all four days. The drawing for prizes took place at the convention’s closing ceremonies on Sunday evening. All funds earned from the sale of tickets will be going to charity in order to help the families of the victims of the Pulse night club shooting in Orlando.

Craddock promised that next year’s convention would also be filled with big, new events and special surprises in honor of Metrocon’s fifteenth anniversary.

“We’re going to go all out,” Craddock stated at the closing ceremonies. “Get ready to see a whole new look to Metrocon.”

Metrocon 2016 has just ended, but dedicated fans are already planning their wardrobe and panels for next year’s convention. 2017 is going to be a big year for Tampa’s most popular anime convention, which means the cosplays will also have to be bigger and better than ever before.