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Rage on: Brothers start Waco Rage Room amid pandemic

By Madalyn Watson | Editor-in-Chief

Even though coronavirus has everyone on edge, the Waco Rage Room gives locals a place to create what comes naturally in times of stress — destruction.

Winston Kail, the president and co-founder of Waco Rage Room, opened this business with his brother, David Stallings, on June 4.

“With just everything going on throughout the year, it just seemed like the perfect time to do it,” Kail said.

Although Kail has been dreaming of opening their business since 2017, the chaos that came with the coronavirus gave him and his brother a unique opportunity.

“As we were building and putting this thing together, things just kept happening and I could tell there was such tension,” Kail said.

A Waco Rage Room player smashes a windshield. Chase (Junyan) Li | Photographer
A Waco Rage Room player smashes a windshield. Chase (Junyan) Li | Photographer

The Waco Rage Room, located at 1007 Wooded Acres Drive, is a place where people de-stress by breaking as many things as they want within an enclosed room.

“We’re a stone’s throw from Valley Mills,” Kail said. “I love my neighbors. It seems like a very American thing. There’s a gun store, a bar and then a place where you break things.”

With all the tension in the world right now, Kail said he wants the Waco Rage Room to be a safe place for people to work through their emotions rather than taking it out on the people around them.

“It just kind of gives them some focus, it gives them an outlet,” Kail said. “I think a lot of times we suppress all those natural things, and then that’s when we walk around so sad and depressed and angry and frustrated.”

Although the Waco Rage Room provides several different packages, Kail said the most popular is their Date Night service.

“It’s people that would surprise you coming [in], very quiet couples, people who have very normal jobs,” Kail said. “But I think it is from having this very structured, desk job. It builds up inside of them.”

Kail said one couple came to the Waco Rage Room and treated it like couples therapy.

“They kept coming out of the room and they’d be upset, but then they add some more things and go back in there and yell and scream and break stuff,” Kail said. “By the end of it, they were lovey dovey. They were happy.”

The Date Night service starts at $75 for 45 minutes, according to the Waco Rage Room’s Facebook page and its Instagram. Like all of the sessions they offer, you can add more time and items during the reservation. The cheapest option they offer, Bring Your Own Breakables, is $25. You bring the items to be destroyed and they provide the room and the weapons.

Brianna St. John joined several of her coworkers at the Waco Rage Room on Tuesday night to celebrate a birthday and release some pent up frustrations.

“I’ve heard of [a Rage Room] before, but I’d never been to one,” St. John said. “And for the price, it’s really worth it.”

A Waco Rage Room player is smashing things. Chase (Junyan) Li | Photographers & Videographers
A Waco Rage Room player is smashing things. Chase (Junyan) Li | Photographers & Videographers

St. John and her friends said that where they worked as waitresses, a lot of their customers are not taking coronavirus seriously and even cuss them out when they ask them to wear a mask.

“People are really selfish and they don’t take the time to buy a mask or wear it and they want to make excuses,” St. John said. “And then that puts people’s health and our health at risk.”

The group smashed dishes, bottles, a door with lots of glass windows, windshields and a television to cope with their frustrations.

All of the items that you can destroy at the Waco Rage Room are donations.

“You’d be surprised to how excited people are to give us things,” Kail said.

Because of the stay-in-place orders and social distancing, Kail said he thinks that people were more likely to donate to them.

“[Because of coronavirus,] people were home. They were bored. They were doing little home improvement projects. They were cleaning out their house, they were getting rid of this, getting rid of that,” Kail said.

A decent amount of the items donated to be smashed at the Waco Rage Room include holiday decorations.

“A lot of times we’ll go in the room and then everything will just be smashed to pieces, but they won’t smash the baby Jesus,” Kail said.

The brothers also mentioned a deal they are promoting for Baylor students now that they are in town. If you show your Baylor student ID, you can get $5 off your session, Kail said.

“We don’t have very many rules,” Kail said. “We ask the people to be safe. Don’t go nuts, but have as much fun as you can.”

LGBTQ group sets sights on official charter

Gamma Alpha Upsilon, formerly known as Sexual Identity Forum, rebranded last year with new logos across its social media platforms. Photo Courtesy of ΓAY

By Carson Lewis | Page One Editor

The group is composed of Baylor students, has a president and officer positions and meets weekly for group activities. It functions in the same way as many Baylor clubs with activities like discussions and bowling nights. But this group of students can’t claim to have what other organizations have: an official charter from the university. That’s what they want to change.

Gamma Alpha Upsilon (ΓAY), an unofficial LGBTQ group on campus, is looking to the new semester with hopes of becoming an official chartered organization. Formerly known as SIF (Sexual Identity Forum), Gamma has functioned on campus since 2011 as an independent group with the purpose of giving a home to LGBTQ Baylor students and allies.

Members in the group expressed their appreciation and surprise last year from the support given to a letter sent by three Baylor alumni to administration which proposed acceptance for LGBTQ groups on campus.

“We ask that the university reconsider its exclusion of student organizations that are designed to provide a community for individuals in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning (“LGBTQ”) and allied community,” part of the letter read. The letter accumulated over 3,200 signatures from Baylor students, faculty, alumni and supporters who agreed with the message.

Plano senior Elizabeth Benton, president of Gamma, described the group’s positive reaction to the news last semester.

“It’s nice to know that even people outside of Baylor support us… I honestly didn’t think anybody would care about this, really, besides LGBT people,” Benton said. “It’s so gratifying to hear people talk about that and to meet alumni that were LGBT at Baylor and want to help out. It’s absolutely amazing.”

The group used to meet weekly at 8 p.m. Thursdays at Bill Daniel Student Union Building but will meet away from their usual spot this semester, choosing instead Seventh and James Baptist Church.

Despite having a functional home for the group in the SUB next to Common Grounds, several members of Gamma said they’ve found reasons to move their meetings off campus while the group is unchartered.

Searcy, Ark., grad student Hayden Evans, Gamma’s treasurer, described some of the problems that the group had with the location.

“It’s very, very loud. They typically play music, and of course there’s tons of students all around talking and going about their day. It’s very distracting for us the whole meeting, especially when we invite people from outside the university to speak,” Evans said. “Also, people are uncertain about how they will be perceived… some people don’t come because they are afraid of the repercussions of them being seen there. We’re trying to move to a more private area.”

Benton echoed the statement made by Evans, saying that some prospective members of Gamma felt that the location wasn’t as private as they would have liked.

“I’ve talked to some people who have been threatened if they go to Gamma meetings,” Benton said. “There are people I know, people I talked to, who would come to our meetings and they just stopped coming. I asked, ‘Why don’t you come anymore?’ [They] would be threatened. They seemed scared. This happens a lot actually.”

As an official chartered organization at Baylor, Gamma would be able to rent rooms from the SUB for their meetings and events and advertise on campus to prospective members during events like fall semester’s Late Night.

Houston senior Anna Conner, vice president of Gamma, and other group members insist that being official would greatly help them in their mission to provide a safe space for members of the LGBTQ community on Baylor’s campus.

“People have a perception of what we’re trying to do. They think that we’re trying to go in and rip up this tradition that Baylor has and say, ‘No, we’re no longer a Christian university, you have to accept us because it’s 2019 and everyone needs to change,’” Conner said. “What we’re trying to do is create a space where people can have a conversation, maybe learn a few things and meet new people that have different viewpoints. The biggest challenge [this year] will be to get people to understand that.”

In a July 24 Office of the President email, Jerry K. Clements, chair of the Board of Regents, and president Dr. Linda Livingstone expressed that the board seeks to continue discussion about how to best include and provide support for LGBTQ students.

“The Board continued discussions that began at last summer’s retreat about providing a loving and caring community for all students, including those who identify as LGBTQ,” the email read. “This is an issue with which many faith-based colleges and universities – and our churches – struggle. We believe that Baylor is in a unique position to meet the needs of our LGBTQ students because of our Christian mission and the significant campus-wide support we already provide all students.”

Acai bowl, smoothie business to open this summer

Mamaka Bowls, an acai bowl and smoothie business from Fayetteville is bringing it business to Waco this summer.

By Bridget Sjoberg | Staff Writer

Mamaka Bowls, a popular California-inspired acai bowl and smoothie shop from Arkansas, is opening a second location in this summer, and it just so happens to be in Waco.

Mamaka was founded by mom-daughter duo Carrie and KK Hudson, who opened their first storefront in Fayetteville, Ark. In May 2018. Originally from the Dallas area, KK Hudson said she is excited to bring Mamaka to Texas, particularly in a college town like Waco.

“When we realized that we could open a second store, we really wanted to be back in Texas since it’s where my family is from. We love Texas and it’s also where Mamaka first started,” Hudson said. “My dad and I went to Waco back in December of last year and fell in love. There’s so much personality there and it felt similar to how Fayetteville is for us. There are also so many small businesses and the people are amazing—everyone we’ve interacted with is so kind and helpful. We also love the college town world and are excited to be close to a campus.”

Mamaka Bowls sells both acai bowls and smoothies, and Hudson sees the shop’s unique granola recipe and thick base consistency as two factors that make their bowls stand out.

“We are super transparent with all of our ingredients—everything listed on the menu is all that goes into the bowls,” Hudson said. “For our bowls, we use completely frozen fruit and nothing has any added sugar and we don’t add yogurt. The bowls are also super thick—we make them as close to an ice cream consistency as possible so you don’t feel like you’re eating a smoothie. Our granola is also to die for—my mom came up with the recipe.”

Hudson said that the “Mamaka” and “Pipeline” bowls are two of the shop’s most popular menu items, using toppings and base ingredients like strawberries, mangoes, cacao nibs and peanut butter.

“The Mamaka uses our original blend, which is banana, strawberry, blueberry, mango, acai and almond milk in the base, and it comes topped with our homemade granola, strawberries, bananas and blueberries,” Hudson said. “The Pipeline is chocolate almond milk, banana, peanut butter, strawberry and acai, and is topped with granola, banana, strawberry and cacao nibs.”

Despite their storefront opening just one year ago, Mamaka Bowls truly began when Hudson was in high school. She spent summers with her family in Laguna Beach, Calif., and loved the acai bowls and beach culture.

“Starting my freshman year of high school, we spent every summer in Laguna Beach and around that area—I ate acai bowls almost every day I was there,” Hudson said. “We came back to Dallas at the end of summer and felt like there was nowhere that had acai bowls. During the start of my junior year of high school, I didn’t want to go a whole school year without an acai bowl so my mom spent time in our kitchen coming up with a granola recipe and an original base.”

Hudson said that her mom began delivering homemade bowls to her in high school and that her friends and other students began to notice the bowls and request them as well. From there, a small delivery business began during Hudson’s high school lunches, continuing for a year. Hudson restarted Mamaka again while attending the University of Arkansas by making and delivering the bowls from her house.

“I made a website and was going to have my friends start ordering online to come pick up at my house. Two weeks into the summer, I began having moms, daughters, high schoolers, middle-aged men and just a lot of people ordering online and showing up at my door to pick up a bowl,” Hudson said. “Towards the end of the summer my mom and I realized we need to do this legitimately and stop making bowls out of our houses. We began looking for spaces and fell upon our location in Fayetteville.”

KK Hudson said that the new Waco shop will have a similar design and feel as the store in Fayetteville to create consistency between the locations.

“We fell in love with the design of our first space and researched a ton on what we wanted it to look like,” Hudson said. “We want to keep the Waco shop consistent so it will probably look similar. We’ll have garage doors and swings in the front, and keep blue floors with a bar counter where you can watch people make everything.”

Laguna Beach, Calif., sophomore Ashley Shelton is excited for a place in Waco to serve bowls inspired by southern California with healthy ingredients and toppings.

“When I found out another acai bowl place was opening I got super excited—acai bowls are probably my favorite taste of home in California,” Shelton said. “I also love the fact that the idea for Mamaka Bowls originated around Laguna. There are so many delicious and trendy food places in southern California but Laguna is especially known for their acai bowls and small-town health kick.”

Shelton sees Mamaka’s emphasis on quality ingredients and unique toppings as factors that will make Mamaka stand out and be successful in a new second location.

“I’ll always love the original acai bowl, but nowadays many companies are getting creative with serving different bases,” Shelton said. “I’m also a big fan of toppings—I love strawberries, bananas, almond butter, cacao nibs, chia seeds and more. I hope Mamaka inspires the community of Waco to eat and live healthier.”

Hudson sees the people who work at and frequent the shop as the reason Mamaka has been and can continue to be successful, and is grateful for the growth Mamaka has experienced since their first storefront opened in May of 2018.

“Our people are who make us who we are—our employees and the people who come to our store make everything worthwhile for us. The people who work at the store in Fayetteville are like our family and they create the vibe of the store,” Hudson said. “Our lives have taken a complete 180 because of Mamaka—it’s been so crazy but so fun, and it’s still baffling for us to look back on our first trip to Laguna Beach and realize that that had started it all so long ago.”

Mamaka Bowls will be located at 215 S University Drive, on the opposite corner of Fuzzy’s Taco Shop.

Woodson sheds interim title in promotion to men’s tennis head coach

After serving as interim head coach to this point in the 2020-21 season, Michael Woodson was promoted to head coach. The Bears were Big 12regular season and tournament champions under Woodson and are currently the No.1 team in the nation, heading into the NCAA Tournament as the No. 2 seed. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor

The question was never, ‘Will Michael Woodson be Baylor’s next men’s tennis head coach?”, but, “When will Michael Woodson be named Baylor’s next men’s tennis head coach?” The question has been answered. Woodson can officially scratch the interim title after being named the Bears’ 10th head coach in program history on May 6.

“Baylor means so much to my family and I. We have had five incredible years here and are so blessed to call Waco home now and into the future,” Woodson said. “I want to thank Mack Rhoades, Kenny Boyd and the entire administrative team for their consistent trust and support throughout this transition. To be named head coach at such a prestigious private institution, with undoubtedly the strongest athletic department in the nation, is both humbling and inspiring. I am beyond excited to settle into my new role with the team and work hard to continue all of the positive momentum we have built.”

Woodson served as interim head coach until this point in the 2020-21 season, leading Baylor men’s tennis to a 29-4 record, a shared regular season conference title and an outright victory in the Big 12 Tournament, as well as a No. 1 national ranking and the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

“Michael has done a tremendous job leading the men’s tennis program as our interim head coach, both on and off the court, and we’re excited to officially name him our head coach,” Baylor athletic director Mack Rhoades said. “Michael’s leadership has helped the team win Big 12 regular season and tournament championships and reach a No. 1 national ranking, and he’s fully embraced our mission of Preparing Champions for Life. We look forward to watching the program’s continued growth under his direction.”

Under Woodson this season, Baylor reached the 2021 ITA National Indoor Championship finals for the first time since 2005, where they ultimately fell to then-No. 2 North Carolina. The Bears have put up a 14-4 record over ranked opponents and a 13-4 mark against top-25 teams. On top of Baylor’s No. 1 ranking, the Bears also two had players ranked in the ITA top-125, No.11 senior Matias Soto and No. 28 junior Adrian Boitan. Upperclassmen Constantin Frantzen and Sven Lah hold the No.14 spot in doubles rankings, followed by Soto and upperclassman Nick Stachowiak at No.75. Lah and grad transfer Charlie Broom are also ranked at No.88.

Woodson had been a part of Baylor’s staff since August 2016. He was associate head coach prior to taking over the interim position. He first arrived as an assistant coach after four years on Valparaiso’s coaching staff, where he also played his collegiate career. Woodson’s Crusaders racked up a 73-34 record during his time there as an assistant. He had five players earn first-team All-Horizon League honors and 19 Player of the Week awards.

In his five years at Baylor, the Bears have built up an 111-31 record (a winning percentage of .781). Just a few weeks ago, Woodson saw Frantzen, a player who arrived in Waco on the exact same day he did, break the record for most doubles wins in program history, tallying up his 105th victory on April 13 to pass 2004 NCAA singles champion Benjamin Becker for the accolade.

The Bears have also continued their academic excellence under Woodson, garnering 17 ITA Scholar-Athlete wards and three ITA Scholar-Athlete team awards during his time at Baylor.

Nicki Collen introduced as new WBB head coach

Nicki Collen was formally introduced as the new head coach of the Baylor women's basketball team in an introductory press conference Wednesday afternoon at the Ferrell Center. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By Marquis Cooley | Reporter

Just eight days after the departure of Kim Mulkey, Baylor found its new women’s basketball head coach in WNBA coach Nicki Collen, who comes to Waco after three seasons as the head coach of the Atlanta Dream.

Vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics Mack Rhoades had the tough assignment of trying to pick someone to continue the standard of excellence that Mulkey had set for the program, but after interviewing Collen, Rhoades said he knew she was the right candidate for the job.

“Her combination of high intellect and humility, her faith, her belief, the way her Christian values align with Baylor and her unbelievable passion and wisdom about the game of basketball and the way she pours in to her players is why we selected Nicki as the fifth head women’s basketball coach here at Baylor University,” Rhoades said.

Collen said she enjoyed talking with Rhoades and the rest of the search committee, but it wasn’t until her phone call with men’s basketball head coach Scott Drew, who Collen calls “Baylor’s ultimate salesman,” that Collen knew Baylor was where she wanted to be.

“At the end of the conversation, of course he offered to FaceTime my kids and make everything OK,” Collen said. “But he asked if he could pray over me. It was that moment that I knew this is the right place. This is the right place for me, it’s the right place for my family.”

Many Baylor fans may have never heard of Collen until she was selected as the next head coach of the women’s basketball team, and Collen said she understands and is fine with that. The first thing Collen wants people to know about her is like most fans and athletes, she’s just a person that fell in love with the game.

“I’m a kid that fell in love with basketball in fifth grade when I hit a game-winning shot in a rec league game and my dad was coaching,” Collen said. “I played for Pizza Hut when we beat American Family Insurance. It was that moment. That was my ‘aha’ moment. Because every step of my life since then has been defined by that orange ball.”

Those steps included playing college basketball at Purdue and Marquette as well as playing a year professionally in Greece. Collen then went on to be a successful assistant coach at multiple universities before moving on to the WNBA to be an assistant coach under the 2017 WNBA Coach of the Year Curt Miller. After two seasons under Miller, Collen got her first head coaching job with the Atlanta Dream. In her first season as head coach, Collen led the Dream to the playoffs with a franchise-best 23-11 record, earning her 2018 WNBA Coach of the Year.

Being the head coach of the Lady Bears, however, was never a step Collen planned to take. At the end of April, she was preparing for her fourth season in Atlanta, not even considering coming to coach college basketball in Texas. But for Collen it’s never been about following a plan. She said it’s always about following the next best opportunity, which led her to Waco.

“I haven’t had the same trajectory as a lot of people in this profession,” Collen said. “And it doesn’t look like anybody else’s path, but I loved every step of the way, because it got me here.”

And now that she’s here, Collen plans to stay for the long haul. She knows it’s going to be difficult following Mulkey’s footsteps, but Collen also knows the way to approach this challenge is not being like Mulkey, but rather carving out her own legacy within Baylor basketball.

“The people of Baylor believed that I am the right person right now. So I’m going to be Nicki Collen. I’m going to be authentically me,” Collen said. “The expectations haven’t changed. Maybe how we do it has changed, but the expectations haven’t changed.”

While there may still be some questions as to how the Lady Bears will perform under Collen, the new coach made one thing certain: this new era of Baylor women’s basketball will be defined by her commitment to her players.

“I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity to coach [the Lady Bears],” Collen said. “I’ve watched you from afar. You will always be the priority. If there’s one thing I learned with the WNBA, it’s a players-first league. It’s about the players… I can’t wait to get started, whether it’s in the locker room or diagramming plays on the court. My goal is to make you the best players that you can be. My goal is to hang more championships in here. And my goal is to help you achieve your dreams, whether that’s basketball, on the court, off the court, or whatever it is. This will always be about you.”

Senator Cornyn presents resolution to men’s basketball

Sen. John Cornyn met with university officials and the men's basketball team to congratulate them and present them with a commemorative resolution. Courtesy photo.

By Ava Dunwoody | Editor-in-Chief

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn III of Texas presented a resolution to Baylor Head Coach Scott Drew on May 3 at the Ferrell Center to congratulate the men’s basketball team on its national championship win. The resolution was presented and passed on the senate floor on April 12 and was framed as a gift to the university.

In addition to Drew, President Linda Livingstone and junior center Flo Thamba were in attendance for the presentation, where Thamba gave Cornyn a commemorative basketball. Before the exchange, Livingstone and Cornyn met in private to discuss Baylor’s federal needs and plans for the upcoming semester after the big win.

“The whole state was cheering for Baylor,” Cornyn said. “They really made us all very proud — just a great group of young men led by great coaches, so we were all celebrating.”

Cornyn said he is a big sports fan and played intramurals like wrestling and basketball while attending college at Trinity University in San Antonio. He said in his opinion, he has a top pick for who will be the best men’s basketball team in the upcoming season.

“Baylor, of course. It’s going to repeat,” Cornyn said.

In a press conference after the championship game, Coach Scott Drew outlined the struggles this year’s team went through playing during COVID-19.

“All year long, when games would get canceled, we really took it as a blessing when games were played,” Drew said. “And it was really easy to motivate because when you had three or four or five or six games canceled, you really want, for your players, you want to find games.”

Cornyn, too, addressed the pandemic and said he thinks everyone is ready to put the virus in the rearview mirror. He said in his conversation with Livingstone, he saw Baylor’s administration was doing a good job providing access to testing and vaccinations.

“I know everyone is eager to get to see each other in person and really have an authentic college experience,” Cornyn said. “You can’t do that sitting at home in front of your computer, although I think we have also learned that [for] some people, dependent on their circumstances, that may be a good supplement, but getting back in the classroom and being able to see your friends and classmates is a really important part of the college experience.”

After congratulating the players, coaches and Livingstone, Cornyn encouraged the Baylor family to keep the faith and push forward into the upcoming year.

In Drew’s press conference, he said the championship win was well earned. Cornyn’s resolution will now stand as a testament and reminder of that.

“When Baylor’s happy, when our students are happy, our fans, that’s what makes our players and our coaching staff so proud,” Drew said. “And, again, they’ve stuck with us, have been there through the lean years and they deserve this. Our school deserves this.”

Baylor hires Nicki Collen as WBB head coach

FILE - Atlanta Dream head coach Nicki Collen calls out instructions during the first half of a WNBA basketball game against the Dallas Wings in Bradenton, Fla., in this Sunday, July 26, 2020, file photo. Collen was preparing for a fourth season as head coach of the WNBA's Atlanta Dream, even leading them through practice Monday, May 3, 2021, before being named that night the new coach for the Lady Bears' program that Kim Mulkey built into a national power the past 21 years. Collen is expected to be formally introduced as the coach at Baylor Wednesday, May 5. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)

By Mallory Harris | Staff Writer

On Monday, Baylor University announced the hiring of Nicki Collen as the Lady Bears head coach. As the fifth head coach in the program history, Collen will be formally introduced 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday at the Ferrell Center.

In welcoming Collen, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Mack Rhoades expressed his excitement in the press release.

“She is a great mission fit who shares in our vision of ‘Preparing Champions for Life’ by commanding excellence both on and off the court,” Rhoades said. “Nicki’s professional experience will be invaluable to developing players for the next level.”

Collen has spent the last three seasons with the WNBA’s Atlanta franchise coaching the Atlanta Dream, the announcement said. In 2018, she received the WNBA Coach of the Year honor while leading the franchise to the WNBA Playoff Semifinals.

Prior to entering the WNBA, Collen’s collegiate coaching career spanned nine seasons with a combined .743-win percentage. Despite never being a collegiate head coach, Collen has helped lead many teams to the NCAA Tournament, while also coaching three All-Americans and having three players selected in the WNBA Draft.

“I am thrilled to be the head coach at Baylor University. I believe it is the top job in the country for women’s basketball,” Collen said. “The success of this program speaks for itself, and I will begin working today to ensure Baylor women’s basketball continues to be a program that excels at the highest levels.”

Lariat TV News Today: Final newscast of the semester

This week on Lariat TV News we tell you what should expect as thousands of people are coming to Waco for graduation in just a few short days.

For our final newscast of the semester, we have a special segment that will give you a behind-the-scenes look at our reporters favorite stories.

In sports, we will say goodbye to our women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey as she is headed to coach at LSU.

Thanks for watching Lariat TV News all semester long. Tune in again this coming fall for more student-focused content about Baylor, for Baylor! Have a great summer and sic’ em bears.

Baylor freshmen finally receive their slime caps

George Schroeder | Broadcast Reporter

Tuesday afternoon, Baylor University seemingly wrapped up the year with one final celebration where the class of 2024 was finally given their slime caps.

Traditionally given out during line camp, slime caps have been a staple at Baylor University since the turn of the century. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, line camp took place virtually for the class of 2024, and slime caps were not distributed at the beginning of the year.

Freshmen used to be encouraged to wear their slime caps on campus, typically writing their hometown underneath the bill, indicating their novice status at the University, but now, the caps are simply an accessory linked to a long Baylor legacy.

Slime caps, t-shirts, and vouchers for various food trucks were given out at the event, and students were able to take a break and enjoy the music and free food provided by the University in their last few days on campus, leading up to finals.

The class of 2025 is expected to receive their slime caps in-person at line camp during this upcoming summer.

Keep pushing to make Baylor better

Summer Merkle | Cartoonist

This year we have seen students at Baylor effect change in so many inspiring ways. From huge groups of students protesting for racial justice to students fighting for LGBTQ equality on campus, it’s clear how much energy people are devoting to making this school a better place.

Those efforts aren’t the only ones we’ve seen though. We’ve also seen students rise up and speak out when disabled students were going to lose a service that made campus more accessible for them. We’ve seen students help one another, both in big ways and in small ones, through a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. It has truly been an inspiring time to be at Baylor.

At the same time, though, we’ve seen push back against these movements. Sometimes that has come in the form of groups of students loudly opposing change. Sometimes that has looked like silence or inaction on behalf of the Baylor administration. Other times, it has been the circumstances of the pandemic or the general political scene that has made people feel disheartened and doubtful that things will ever get better.

In advocating for this progress, we sometimes feel like we have found ourselves playing the role of Sisyphus in the ancient Greek myth, damned to push an enormous boulder up a hill only for it to fall back down again forever and ever, no progress ever actually being made. The burnout and general nihilism people are feeling right now is real. Especially when you’re at a four-year university, it can feel like our time here is so short that true progress may never be made while we’re students.

But here at Baylor, we honor the tradition of passing along the torch to the next generation of scholars and students who will come after us. This is symbolized at the homecoming celebrations each fall, but it can also apply here in this era of activism and progress in which we find ourselves. We each have a responsibility to leave this campus better than we found it, and when our time here is done, we have the responsibility to pass that torch on.

The work is not done. It is not even close to finished. If we let this momentum die out now, it will only be that much harder to make this place the best version of itself it can be. Though it may feel as if we’re fighting in vain, may we all find the courage to push on. On the other side of this fight, we’ll find ourselves a part of a Baylor that better reflects what we want this campus to be, for all of us.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon hosts Paddy Murphy Week with bubble soccer, river cleanup

To raise money for Puppy Jake Foundation, Sigma Alpha Epsilon has been hosting events and volunteer sessions on campus all week. Sarah Pinkerton | Photographer

By Mallory Harris | Staff Writer

Last week, Sigma Alpha Epsilon hosted their annual Paddy Murphy Week on campus. Full of different events, this philanthropy-centered week included pies, profit shares and lots of quick thinking.

While continually working with Student Activities to make sure events got approved and cleared by University regulations, Houston senior Nick Torres, one of the philanthropy chairs, explained that it was a challenge at times.

They were, however, able to successfully have their tug of war tournament, Brazos River clean up and bubble soccer tournament. Along with raising interest and bringing business to different restaurants across Waco with multiple profit shares. They had big plans including a dunk tank, an adoption event with dogs and a concert, Torres said the organization had many hoops to jump through to organize events in time.

As the event hasn’t happened since moving virtual in 2019, Houston sophomore Jackson Mitschke explained how each year the specific foundation the group chooses can change. For example, this year’s donation goes to the Puppy Jake Foundation, a group that focuses on raising and training service dogs for veterans at home.

“With this Paddy Murphy Week … it was our inaugural one and we felt very good about it. We feel like we have a good example in the direction of how we want to do it in the future,” Mitschke said.

Torres said they raised about $2,500 for this year’s honorary charity. Though expecting more, with COVID-19 circumstances and the long-awaited arrival of the event, it’s still a good amount, he said.

While this week is meant to bring awareness and attention to their chosen organization, Torres said the events also brought the fraternity members together. He said whether it was during tabling shirts or cleaning up the river, seeing the guys interact more was another high point of the week.

“It was kind of nice because we haven’t done anything on campus in quite a while,” Torres said. “I think the event was able to bring a lot of us closer as a fraternity and it was able to get us in better reach with some people.”

According to their members, Sigma Alpha Epsilon was able to highlight the Puppy Jake Foundation and hold a successful week for their fraternity. And while Torres shared that the loss of the proposed concert was the “biggest L,” he looked on the bright side. He said the week still gave them the opportunity to donate to a good cause and not to mention, was able to happen at all.

“Obviously it was all crazy to deal with and things like that but it was a lot of fun and we got our name out there with the people. We were able to raise money for a good cause,” Torres said.

Splendid Oaks Chocolates satisfies Waco’s sweet tooth

Splendid Oaks Chocolates can be found at the corner of 11th and Franklin. Cole Tompkins | Photographer

By Ava Dunwoody | A&L Editor

On the corner of 11th Street and Franklin Avenue sits a new hot spot in Waco, Splendid Oaks Chocolates. Known for hand-crafted artesian chocolate, unique flavors of ice cream and their close-knit staff, this dessert place is yet another Waco small business.

Kevin DeVries, owner of Splendid Oaks Chocolates and Baylor University graduate, started Splendid Oaks in the fall of 2018 when it was just a solo operation. DeVries pursued a degree in entrepreneurship at Baylor and said he was fascinated by the prospect of building a business from scratch.

The idea for a chocolate shop came from what DeVries called an untapped market in Waco, where he saw the need for a new dessert shop and wanted to fill it. He said he started by selling his products at a few local farmer’s markets until he expanded his knowledge by learning from some of the best chocolatiers in the nation, including an expert in in Las Vegas. Afterward, he brought that know-how back to Waco.

“I believe there’s nothing like it in Waco. I haven’t seen anything like it,” Tito Serrato, employee, said. “Just the fact that it’s from a Baylor graduate, he worked his tail off at Baylor, and now he’s serving back the community, giving his product back to Waco was inspiring.”

Serrato has worked on product development and at front of shop as the cashier. Taste testing flavors for himself, Serrato said, he pursued feedback from others: taking polls online, asking employee opinions and asking customers what flavors they would most like to see in the shop.

Audrey High, Splendid Oaks chocolatier, has been an employee at the business since October 2020, while simultaneously working towards her seminary degree. High said she did not know much about chocolate either before beginning her job at Splendid Oaks Chocolates, but saw DeVries’s vision and wanted to do something with her hands away from a screen. She enjoyed learning the four-day process of creating each box of chocolates, High said, and now gets to enjoy doing it herself.

DeVries and the staff’s servant-hearted work ethic has not gone unnoticed with customers either. Riley Conine, a loyal customer of Splendid Oaks Chocolates, said she has enjoyed every experience she’s had at the business. Carrollton freshman Chloe Floyd is in agreement with Conine, she’s a regular and enjoys the environment of the shop, she said.

DeVries said there are plenty of other loyal customers of Splendid Oaks Chocolates who say that they cannot stop coming back for the unique treats, including one girl that comes in every single day for ice cream and others who come in about once a week. DeVries said the staff has bonded with those regulars as they work the front counter.

“Waco has a foodie niche and there are great dessert places in Waco but there’s nothing like a high-end chocolate place,” High said. “Waco has the market for a place like Splendid Oaks to succeed and its location next to a farm-to-table restaurant like Milo is just really perfect.”

Serrato said it’s the in-house-made, one-of-a-kind chocolate that ultimately continues to keep customers coming back. He said he thinks Splendid Oaks Chocolates has a lot to be proud of.

The Splendid Oaks employees, DeVries said he is most proud and can rely on them for support and advice. Many of the employees were people he already knew, so he said there was already a foundation of trust before his doors opened. With loyal customers, hand-crafted chocolate, and collaborative staff, DeVries said Splendid Oaks is a must-stop shop for anyone in the Waco area.

Students, faculty march against racism toward Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders

By Emily Cousins | Staff Writer, Video by George Schroeder

Students held a demonstration Tuesday evening on Fountain Mall to unite allies and members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. The march took place days after the recent assault of an Asian American student near campus and the continuation of hate crimes against the AAPI community across the United States.

Associate Professor of Philosophical Theology and George W. Baines Chair Dr. Jonathan Tran said the amount of students, faculty, staff, Wacoans and administration (including Baylor President Dr. Linda Livingstone, Provost Nancy Brickhouse and Vice President of Student Life Kevin Jackson) that showed up in solidarity made him feel seen for the first time in his 15 years at Baylor.

President and First Gent, faculty members, and Baylor students met on Burleson Quadrangle Tuesday evening to listen to students discuss their experiences as Asian-Americans on campus.Photo courtesy of Morty Ortega
Photo courtesy of Morty Ortega

Around 150 people attended the demonstration. It began with minority students, faculty and Waco community members speaking about their experiences and ended with a silent march across campus.

According to an analysis by the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, anti-Asian hate crime increased 149% in 2020 in 16 of America’s largest cities.

During the demonstration, Tran said there has been a spike in anti-Asian hate crimes partly because of former President Donald Trump’s rhetoric about the COVID-19 pandemic, such as calling the coronavirus “kung flu” or the “Chinese virus.”

Tran said the assault of the Asian American Baylor student was “tragic and devastating, but it is not original.”

Tran also outlined a brief history of racism towards Asian Americans, referring to Japanese internment camps, the Chinese Exclusion Act and many hate crimes that targeted Asian Americans before 2020.

“It goes through the lifeblood of all the things that are Asian American,” Tran said. “We have the absurd categorization of an extraordinary diverse reality of languages and histories and experiences all rendered into one single narrow category called Asian, and then everything negative associated with one group that gets put on every other.”

Waco sophomore Josie Pooler, another one of the organizers of the demonstrations, said the Asian community has been blamed and made a scapegoat for the pandemic. She said she has been called many slurs and felt oppressed throughout her life, but especially this past year.

“It’s honestly really difficult to talk about,” Pooler said. “I’m not gonna lie, it’s really hard being up here. Having to defend my own humanity, my own personhood, is extremely difficult. Having to assert that I matter, having to assert that my presence matters along with all of yours.”

Pooler said she is afraid to walk around by herself after the assault of the Asian American Baylor student. She said the fear is twice as much because Asian women are hypersexualized, and she has been referred to as a “walking fetish.”

“I find that when you see someone as an object, when you see an entire group of people as inhuman, it becomes so much easier to thus brutalize and attack and even kill them,” Pooler said. “I think Asian racism has been treated really differently than racism against other groups of people. I think it’s been trivialized. It is seen as a joke, it’s humorous.”

The co-owner of Waco Cha Jaja Chen said during the demonstration when she and her husband first set up their boba tea pop-up in 2018 at the farmer’s market in downtown Waco, someone came and yelled, “You aren’t Texan,” and spit out the samples they took.

“Yet, thinking about that encounter now reveals to me the ways that people like that can fuel continued racism, hate crimes and violence towards the AAPI community,” Chen said. “Especially with what the AAPI community has endured this past year, and to continue prejudice, violence and hate crimes of fellow BIPOC and LGBTQ community neighbors have experienced for years and years, even before my time.”

During the demonstration, Sugar Land junior Nicole Ma, one of the organizers, said Baylor has been taking some important steps to create a more welcoming campus for minorities, such as the 40-minute diversity education video, but it cannot stop there.

“No administration, no person or institution is perfect,” Ma said. “There’s definitely a lot of faults, but I do think that together, coming together here today, coming together every single day, having our multicultural affairs or different student organizations can team up with each other. I think that is a wonderful and beautiful thing that we should continue to keep doing, but it also goes to say that we do have to try our best to keep administration accountable for their Christian mission, and also for their diversity and inclusion statements as well.”

President and First Gent, faculty members, and Baylor students met on Burleson Quadrangle Tuesday evening to listen to students discuss their experiences as Asian-Americans on campus.Sarah Pinkerton | Photographer
Sarah Pinkerton | Photographer

Livingstone said she loved seeing so many students, faculty and staff supporting and standing in solidarity with the Asian American community.

“We’ve got to continue to work on these issues,” Livingstone said. “All of our populations of color on this campus need support and encouragement, and we’ve got to continue to work on how to make sure that they feel safe and a part of the community.”

San Diego junior Nichole Zau, president of Alpha Kappa Delta Phi, said she was happy to see the support from the Baylor family and Waco community.

“It’s critical to know that we are being supported on Baylor’s campus not only by administration, but also our fellow peers,” Zau said. “I’m Asian. I see people that look like me on TV every single day getting targeted and getting racially profiled. I need to show my solidarity with my community as well.”

Glen Carbon, Ill., senior Joshua Myung said he was overjoyed by the large turnout.

“I like to see the administration’s support,” Myung said. “It was really surprising because I honestly didn’t think they would come out, or they would just repost a blanket statement, but actually seeing them come out made us feel like we belong on campus.”

Beaumont junior Christine Phan, one of the organizers of the demonstration and the coalition of Asian students intern under the Department of Multicultural Affairs, said during the demonstrations she hopes the support for Asian Americans will continue beyond this demonstration.

“This demonstration is not the last demonstration,” Phan said. “This event is not an end all be all, but it’s something to inspire each and every one of us to continue to work to have these conversations, continue being put in uncomfortable spaces, make others feel uncomfortable and this is why I’m asking for all of us today. We stand in solidarity today, but it’s sad that it had to be in response to an attack that should’ve been prevented, that didn’t have to happen in the first place.”

What to do in Waco: String performances, vintage shopping and more

Summer Merkle | Cartoonist

What To Do in Waco

Strings of the Baylor Symphony Orchestra in Concert | April 29 | 7:30 p.m. | Virtual | Free | Viewers at home can enjoy a performance of The Baylor Symphony Orchestra’s next concert featuring sixty-five string players from this award-winning orchestra.

Attic Treasures Pop-Up Shop | April 30 – May 2 | 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. | 4328 W. Waco Drive | Free | Looking for unique finds at an affordable price? Historic Waco Foundation’s Attic Treasures is the perfect place to find a huge variety of vintage, antique, new and used items!

Waco Civic Theater presents “The Last Five Years” | April 30 – May 2 | 7:30 p.m. | Waco Civic Theatre, 1517 Lake Air Drive | $10 | Watch an emotionally powerful and intimate musical about two people who fall in and out of love over the course of five years.

Night Hikes at the Waco Wetlands | April 30 | 7:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. | Lake Waco Wetlands, 1752 Eichelberger Crossing | Free | Join the Cameron Park Zoo staff on a guided walk through the wetlands to observe and learn more about local wildlife.

Attic Treasures Pop-Up Shop | April 30 – May 2 | 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. | 4328 W. Waco Drive | Free | Looking for unique finds at an affordable price? Historic Waco Foundation’s Attic Treasures is the perfect place to find a huge variety of vintage, antique, new and used items!

Waco Downtown Farmers Market | May 1 | 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. | 500 Washington Ave. | Free | Variety of vendors featuring local agricultural producers and artisan vendors

Mother & Daughter Brunch | May 1 | 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. | The Pavilion at the Carleen Bright Arboretum, 1 Pavilion Way, Woodway | $30 adults, $20 kids 8 & under | Come dressed in your Sunday best for Brunch, Nightlight Doughnuts, Pops Lemonade, Paul Childers Live Music, face painting, crafts & more!

Waco Civic Theater presents “The Last Five Years” | April 30 – May 2 | 7:30 p.m. | Waco Civic Theatre, 1517 Lake Air Drive | $10 | Watch an emotionally powerful and intimate musical about two people who fall in and out of love over the course of five years.

Attic Treasures Pop-Up Shop | April 30 – May 2 | 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. | 4328 W. Waco Drive | Free | Looking for unique finds at an affordable price? Historic Waco Foundation’s Attic Treasures is the perfect place to find a huge variety of vintage, antique, new and used items!

Waco Civic Theater presents “The Last Five Years” | April 30 – May 2 | 7:30 p.m. | Waco Civic Theatre, 1517 Lake Air Drive | $10 | Watch an emotionally powerful and intimate musical about two people who fall in and out of love over the course of five years.

Softball falls to No. 1 OU in midweek doubleheader

Senior pitcher Gia Rodoni kept the Sooners off the board for three innings in game one of the double header against Oklahoma on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By Will Chamblee | Sports Writer

Baylor softball was unable to pull off a historic upset of mighty No. 1 Oklahoma during Tuesday’s makeup doubleheader, as the Bears lost to the Sooners 7-1 in game one and 11-0 in game two Tuesday at Getterman Stadium. The two teams were originally scheduled to play in early April before the series was postponed due to Big 12 conference interruption guidelines.

Oklahoma has been near unbeatable this year. The Sooners own a ridiculous 39-1 record and a perfect 14-0 record in Big 12 play. Oklahoma’s sole loss came against Georgia in extra innings earlier this April. Baylor head coach Glenn Moore put it simply.

“They’re a very good team,” Moore said.

Baylor had a promising start to the first game of the doubleheader, taking an early lead in the bottom of the first inning. Sophomore left fielder Lou Gilbert opened the game with a double, and senior third baseman Taylor Ellis knocked her in with a two-out single to put the Bears up 1-0.

Gia Rodoni was also dealing early from the mound for the Bears. The senior pitcher allowed no hits through the first three innings.

“Gia pitched as well as she has all year, and that’s certainly a bright spot,” Moore said. “She looked good against a very good team.”

Things began to fall apart for Baylor in the fourth inning. With the bases loaded, Nicole Mendes hit a grand slam, her fourth home run of the season, giving Oklahoma a 4-0 lead.

The Sooners never looked back after the grand slam. Jocelyn Alo homered in the fifth inning, and Taire Jennings did the same in the sixth to hand Oklahoma a 7-1 win in the first game.

Despite the loss, Moore was happy with the way Baylor played against the best team in the country.

“I was really proud of the way we came out in the first game (with) lots of energy,” Moore said. “We looked like we really wanted to attack them and not just bow down to the No. 1 team in the country. … I was really proud of the way our girls played in that first game. The outcome was certainly a bigger deficit than I thought.”

While Baylor was able to keep it respectable in the first game, the Sooners displayed their full power in the second game of the doubleheader. Oklahoma scored seven runs in the first three innings to take a commanding 7-0 lead over Baylor. Instead of the home run barrage that Oklahoma launched on Baylor in the first game, the Sooners hit single after single in the first three innings to drive in their runs. The game ended 11-0 to Oklahoma.

Alo had another impressive performance for the Sooners, reaching base on three of her four at-bats. Oklahoma pitcher Shannon Saile was impeccable as she moved to 12-0 on the season, only giving up two hits in four innings of work and striking out six batters.

“We let the second one get away from us,” Moore said. “You can’t make mistakes. Even in the first one, we made mistakes that they capitalized on, and it really hurt us.”

Baylor will look to bounce back as they host Kansas this weekend. The first game of the series will be played at 6:30 p.m. on Friday at Getterman Stadium.

A guide to your summer in Waco

This guide will help give ideas to make the most their time to those staying in Waco this summer. Photo courtesy of Matthew Muir

By Olivia Martin | Social Media Editor

As the end of the semester wraps up and students are in full-panic mode with finals just a few days away, let’s speed ahead to the summer and take a quick peek at what is to come.

Although the majority of students will head home or out of Waco for the summer, many will find themselves staying in Waco for jobs, internships or summer school.

If this is you, don’t fear! This guide will help give ideas to those staying in Waco to live their best Waco summer life and make the most of their time.

1. Eno in Cameron Park

When looking for a relaxing and chill activity, grab a friend and a hammock or two and head to Cameron Park. It may sound basic but after a long day of working, there is nothing better than hanging out (literally and figuratively) in nature of beautiful Cameron Park. To upgrade this activity to full relaxation mode, bring a speaker, some snacks and a beverage of your choice.

2. Cliff jump at Lake Whitney

We all know how brutal Texas heat can be. Some days you may want to stay inside in the air conditioning all day but when you want to turn up the heat cliff jumping is the perfect thing. It’s about an hour drive to fun at Lake Whitney but well worth the car ride.

3. Paddle Board on the Brazos

Head over to Waco Paddle Company, where you can rent everything from paddle boards to kayaks to canoes. This is another great activity for those especially hot days and for when you are wanting water to be involved. Get a new perspective of Waco by paddling under the suspension bridge and all along the Brazos. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen!

4. Rent scooters downtown

Downtown Waco on Austin Avenue, there are electric scooters that are available for anyone to rent. A fun summer day could include going to the farmers market on a Saturday morning, getting coffee at one of the many coffee shops around and scootering all over downtown!

5. Day-trip to Austin or Dallas

For those days when you really just need some fresh scenery, plan a day trip to either Austin or Dallas. Waco is the perfect middle ground for both of these fun cities, so take advantage of being only an hour and a half away. Grab some friends and find a new restaurant in the city to go to! I promise you will come back to Waco feeling refreshed.

Bears steamroll Prairie View in run-rule win

Freshman two-way player Cam Caley picked up the win on the mound after two scoreless innings in Baylor's midweek win over Prairie View A&M on Tuesday. DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor

By DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor

Riding the wave of a series victory over then-No.5 Texas Tech on the road this weekend, Baylor baseball continued to dominate with a 14-0 run-rule win over Prairie View A&M Tuesday at Baylor Ballpark.

“We are carrying a lot of confidence with us. Going up to Texas Tech, playing in front of sell-out crowds, beating a top-five team two out of three, obviously is going to get you a lot of confidence, and it rolled over really well today,” head coach Steve Rodriguez said.

True freshman Cam Caley picked up his first win on the mound, allowing just two runs, a walk, hitting a batter, and striking out three over two innings of work to start the muggy afternoon.

Second-year freshman righty Hambleton Oliver took over for Caley to pitch a scoreless, hitless third inning. The Corpus Christi native has been a consistent piece of Baylor’s bullpen in a bridge role for the Bears.

“The biggest thing is Hamilton is very consistent, and that’s one of the great things about him,” Rodriguez said. “He’s a great bridge guy right now. Eventually, he will hopefully develop into a later inning guy, but right now he’s the guy that when you’re in trouble, he’s going to come in and throw strikes.”

The Bears’ offense brought the hot bats back from Lubbock, slashing 14 runs across on 14 hits and taking advantage of six walks, 10 wild pitches and a hit-by-pitch. Baylor put up a four spot in the bottom of the first, followed by a three-run second to take a 7-0 lead early. A six-run fourth launched the Bears well beyond reach and a final run in the sixth iced the win.

The young offense had big contributions from transfer shortstop Jack Pineda (3-for-5, four runs, two RBI), second-year freshman designated hitter Cade Currington (2-for-3, three runs, two RBI), second-year freshman left fielder Kyle Nevin (3-for-4, one run, two RBI) and freshman right fielder Alex Gonzales (2-for-4, one run, two RBI). Oliver said it’s awesome to have run support in midweek games like these.

“[We] always have a lot of trust in our guys to hit the ball and score some runs,” Oliver said. “It’s pretty easy when you got those guys in your lineup and makes the job easier to go out there and pound the zone.”

The early lead allowed for Rodriguez to give some of the younger arms playing opportunities. In his first collegiate outing, true freshman righty Adam Muirhead threw a scoreless fifth, allowing just one hit and striking out two. DBU transfer freshman Chandler Freeman threw a scoreless, hitless sixth inning, starting and closing the inning with strikeouts, and a groundout to first in between. Freshman righty Andy Owen closed the night in the seventh with two strikeouts and a walk.

“Adam Muirhead was really good for us,” Rodriguez said. “Watching him go out there and compete, I can’t wait to see what some of the numbers were on him. Obviously it’s his first outing, and I thought he handled himself well… Andy Owen came in — we’re kind of working on a few things with him, trying to refine some stuff, but I was really happy with what we saw.”

The Bears will take a break from play during finals week but will be back to host Kansas State in Big 12 play from May 7-9, followed by a midweek against Incarnate Word on May 11. Baylor will play its last conference road series in Stillwater, Okla., against Oklahoma State from May 14-16 before wrapping up the regular season against Oklahoma May 21-22. The Big 12 Tournament is set for the end of the month on May 26-30 in Oklahoma City.

“It’s a double-edged sword right now,” Rodriguez said. “Now we get about 10 days off, and, you know, we got a great rhythm, great timing — our guys are feeling really good, and then we got to hit a pause button. The big thing right now for us is to try and stay in shape. We’re going to lift, we’re going to relax, we’re going to get our bodies recovered and then after that, we’re going to inter-squad a little bit and get ready for Kansas State.”

We all need to pay more attention to female musicians

When asked to list off popular female musicians, it is often much harder to come up with than if asked for a list of popular male musicians. This clearly isn’t because female musicians aren’t as talented as male musicians. It’s due to the fact that the popular music industry has been dominated by men for years, and oftentimes, when a musician has a larger young female base, they are not looked at as legitimate musicians. This is why we need to look to incorporate more female musicians into our playlists.

Now, that isn’t to say that the iconic male musicians we all know and love aren’t talented. They are incredibly talented and 60s and 70s rock constitutes some of my favorite music genres.

However, in a report by Statista that was released in January 2020, only 22.5% of the artists that appeared on the top charts in 2019 were women. This number was at 17.1% in 2018.

In addition, only 11.7% of nominees at the Grammy’s between the years of 2013 and 2020 were women.

Like I said, this isn’t because women are less talented — gender certainly does not equate to competency and creativity — but it’s due to the fact that their work is often discredited. They are often stereotyped and over-sexualized and in many cases, these women are often the only females in the studio at the time of recording and producing their music.

In addition, female musicians typically bring about a lot of female fans. As we often see, artists with a larger young female fan base are often discredited as an illegitimate artist. Take Harry Styles for example. He is not a female artist but his fanbase is largely based of younger female fans due to his time in One Direction. As a result of this, many rock stations do not view his work as worthy of air time on rock radio stations even though his music (his debut album especially) certainly has all the elements of a well-produced rock song.

In regard to famous female musicians, artists like Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa or even Britney Spears have a larger young female fan base, causing people to discredit their talent and skill in the industry.

In light of this, it is incredibly important to tune our ears to both widely-known and lesser-known female musicians.

There’s good news for us. Of course you have your chart-topping females such as Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa, Rihanna and Phoebe Bridgers that deserve their praise. However, there are also a plethora of lesser-known female musicians.

When thinking this through myself, a number of females came to mind.

Firstly, WILLOW. Daughter of Will Smith, WILLOW is a 20 year-old artist. From her discography, I personally recommend “ARDIPITECUS” and “R I S E.” She released these at the ages of 15 and 19 respectively, and they truly display her talent.

Clairo is a 22-year-old singer-songwriter who has been gaining traction since age 13. Her album “Immunity,” released when she was 20, holds a beautiful collection of soft music that shows the clarity and beauty in her voice.

Similar to Clairo is a 27-year old named Kacy Hill. Previous model and backup-dancer for Kanye West, Hill poses the similar soft features of Clairo’s voice in her album “Is It Selfish If We Talk About Me Again.”

These are just a few examples of talented females in the industry. Luckily, if you’re a Spotify user, they offer a wide variety of playlists that only feature female artists.

“Women in Indie,” “Top Female Artists of 2020,” “Black Female Artists,” “Women of Pop,” “Women of Rock,” “Women of Acoustic,” “Women of Country” and “Women of R&B” name just a few of the playlists Spotify allows you to listen to to continue discovering talented women in the industry.

So, make a conscious decision to add more female musicians into your Spotify playlists. Not only does it allow you to continue to seek new music but also gives a voice and an outlet for undiscovered talent and creativity.

Heritage Creamery opens new storefront in Woodway

Heritage Creamery is set to open a new location in Woodway at The Outlook at Bosque Ridge by next month. Christina Cannady | Photographer

By Caitlin Erramouspe | Reporter

A student favorite ice cream shop, Heritage Creamery, is adding another location.

The new storefront will be located within ‘The Outlook at Bosque Ridge’ located at the corner of Highway 84 and Ritchie Road. Its goal is to open next month, just as the hot Texas summer hits.

“We will be among the first shops to open there and the first doing food service. It is going to be a pretty neat development with spaces for several restaurants, retail spaces, offices and a public amphitheater,” Scott Spain-Smith, the general manager of Heritage Creamery, said.

Spain-Smith explained the move.

“With our original location, we do well with Baylor students and have become a popular stop for tourists now that Waco is such a destination,” Spain-Smith said. “However, something we hear frequently from Wacoans is, ‘We love your ice cream and cookies, but it is just so hard to get there.’”

Spain-Smith said the I-35 construction makes it even more difficult to get to the storefront.

“The opportunity came for us to move into a great spot at the Outlook, and we felt that this was the answer to help get our ice cream to more people. All the ice cream and cookie dough will still be made at the original location,” Spain-Smith said.

Cape Town, South Africa, senior Cianka Haynes said she is excited for the new location.

“Since I’m moving towards that area after graduation, I’m excited that I’ll be close the new Heritage. I love their Mint Stracciatella,” Haynes said.

Seniors reflect on how campus jobs impacted their time at Baylor

As graduation nears, many seniors have to say goodbye to their favorite professors, spots, and even jobs. Courtesy photos

By Clara Lincicome | Reporter

As seniors look toward their last week of classes as undergraduates, many are saying goodbye to their favorite professors, spots on campus and on-campus jobs that helped them get to the bittersweet place of graduation.

Fort Worth senior Elliot Mastin has been a community leader in Brooks Residential College for the past two years. Mastin explained that his CL his first year made an impact on his college experience which pushed him to become one himself.

“I was not the most outgoing or sociable freshman, so my CL was a very vital and transformative person for me,” Mastin said. “He was friends with me and introduced me to other people at Brooks, but also encouraged me to go out and make friends elsewhere and in other communities. He had an impact on me and was the first one to encourage me a lot to find communities and make friends.”

Mastin also saw the opportunity to be a CL as the “most practical and applicable way to live out the command of loving your neighbor,” he said.

“I am very thankful for being a CL because I think a lot of people are able to choose in college only people that share similar interests, and there’s not always a desire to meet other people,” Mastin said. “As a CL, you don’t really have that choice. I am now great friends with people that I probably wouldn’t have met just because their interests, beliefs and backgrounds are different than me.”

Through this experience, Mastin has gained a belief that is also his biggest piece of advice for his residents.

“There are plenty of awesome people that you haven’t met. Even through your senior year, continue trying to meet people and making new friends, even if you are well established and love your current communities. There’s no harm in trying to meet new people,” Mastin said.

As Mastin looks back at his time as a CL in Brooks Residential College, he said one of his favorite memories happened just a couple weeks ago at one of the first major events put on by the residential college this semester due to COVID-19.

“At the end of the night, the last thing we did was an all-hall worship night,” Mastin said. “The overall sense of hall unity going into the summer was really neat in a year where we haven’t had many big events like that. That was probably the most special because of the year that it’s been.”

Wylie senior Hannah Eboagu has been a Baylor athletic performance nutrition representative since last fall. The hands-on experience has given Eboagu the assurance that being a sports registered dietician is something she will pursue after she graduates.

“Getting to be with the athletes and getting to get my feet wet in this profession has been huge for me. I have made a lot of friends, but I’ve also gotten to understand what this job entails,” Eboagu said. “I think there are times when you want to do a job but you don’t necessarily know what behind the scenes looks like, what the good days and what the hard days look like.”

Eboagu said she is most grateful for the connections that she has been able to make with the dietitians.

“The experience is going to benefit me in the long run and with my professional goals,” Eboagu said.

Lumberton senior Marli Lemons has been a Baylor experience admissions representative, or tour guide, since her sophomore year. Lemons said the skills she has learned from being a tour guide are valuable, and they are skills that she is grateful to take with her as she graduates.

“You’re getting paid to talk to people, and that forces you to develop skills very quickly that people might not get the chance to develop like public speaking or interpersonal communications,” Lemons said. “There’s a lot of jobs that you just go in and do the same thing and sit at a desk. I did a job like that in high school and absolutely hated it because it’s very repetitive. I liked the fast-paced environment of this job and that social aspect.”

Lemons also emphasized the impact that the people she has worked with have had on her experience not only within the job but at Baylor in general.

“I feel like I have a relationship with almost everyone [in the office] and could reach out to them if I ever needed to. The supervisors are so involved and are great references and it’s connected me with people that have become my closest friends,” Lemons said.

Top Golf opens new location in Waco

As a prime spot between Austin and Dallas, Waco brings in its very first TopGolf location right off I-35. Sarah Pinkerton | Photographer

By Erianne Lewis | Staff Writer

TopGolf opened its newest location in Waco on Friday despite the constant rain for most of the afternoon.

Brooke Hill, manager of sales and community engagement for Top Golf Waco, said the downpour did not stop crowds from coming out to the new location.

“We had a fantastic turnout in the morning for our red ribbon cutting. I was very happy with that. The mayor came out, several members of the chamber, as well as the city council. Our staff was out as well. We held the ribbon cutting at 9:30, and we opened our doors to the public at 10,” Hill said.

Hill said the decision to build a TopGolf in Waco was made partially due to Waco being a booming city.

“Waco is in the midst of a tremendous amount of growth,” Hill said. “Waco is becoming more of a destination city for both tourists as well as families looking to have a nice place to raise their kids and work, so, that was a big part of
our decision.”

Hill said Waco’s central location in between the Austin and Dallas establishments made it a great place for a new market. She said Waco customers are already familiar with TopGolf, which is good for the brand, and it is also within driving distance from the Dallas home office.

The Waco location differs from other well-known locations in Houston, Austin and Dallas, in that it is an open-air, one-story venue with 30 golf bays and a pavilion area. Hill said this model was chosen for Waco because of the size and community-centered feel of Waco.

“This is our new community-flexible model, we are very excited about it. We think it’s really very special,” Hill said. “We wanted to find what is the right model for a town like Waco. This isn’t Austin or Dallas. We don’t have the population they have in Austin or Dallas. When you look at [what] Waco is comprised of, it’s primarily families. So, we wanted to really drive home that community feel and that family engagement. This fits the culture of the town it’s in.”

Some of the other amenities included are a nine-hole miniature golf course, bean bag tosses and a selection of games, such as Angry Birds and Jewel Jam, that visitors can choose from as an alternative to just traditionally hitting the ball. The Toptracer technology is used to track the path of the ball and shows it right on the bay’s TV screen.

Hill said that they are proud of the fact that TopGolf was already socially distanced, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, since all the bays are 11- feet apart.

“We did take a pause, like many businesses did, and we evaluated a lot of our cleaning techniques, during the initial beginning of the pandemic. We rolled out our
commitment to play safely, and what we’ve done with that is that we’ve added temporary partitions between each golf bay, so that you are completely separated from the adjoining bay,” Hill said. “We have found that this model not only keeps our guests safe, but our associates safe as well.”

Hewitt freshman Seven Tang said he was able to attend TopGolf’s soft opening on Thursday. He said he had fun playing and is excited to see the venue become a popular spot for students and Waco locals alike.

“TopGolf in Waco invited Baylor’s men’s basketball and the coaching staff for their soft opening. I heard about it from an immediate family member, and that’s how I got in,” Tang said. “The staff is absolutely amazing, and the manager is super sweet. I highly recommend making reservations there.”

Summer looming, vaccines booming

A COVID-19 vaccination card is displayed at the Banning Recreation Center Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Wilmington, Calif. The site switched from its original plan to use the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 to the Pfizer vaccine. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

By Vivian Roach | Staff Writer

As students gear up to leave college campuses for their summer destinations, the American College Health Association is calling on colleges to urge students to get a COVID-19 vaccination before the end of the
spring semester.

Baylor referred to the ACHA suggestion in an email last week, saying that students should schedule a vaccine appointment before leaving for the summer. Though students are not required to be vaccinated for the fall 2021 semester, Baylor strongly encourages it, they said.

Dr. Michael Muehlenbein, professor and chair of anthropology and also a member of Baylor’s COVID-19 task force, said he acknowledges that students may be reluctant to get the vaccine during finals because of the possible side effects. However, it’s about more than that, he said.

“Despite the fact that we will not require vaccination for the fall semester, it is still highly recommended, and you’re not just doing it for yourself. You’re doing it for everybody around you,” Muehlenbein said. “If we want to get normality, which implies things like no social distancing and no masking, it relies on a certain percentage of people. Again, I cannot commit to a particular number, but it relies on us as a community taking a communal approach and accepting vaccination as the best strategy to mitigate all
of this.”

Baylor has provided doses for free through Baylor Health Service. They’re readily available on campus, he said as another point in favor of getting a shot.

“Why not take advantage of the free vaccine when it is so easily available here on campus? Especially with the Janssen, which is a single shot, that we have approval now for the FDA to use,” Muehlenbein said. “The majority of cases for this virus have been and will materialize as asymptomatic, and so just because you think you don’t have it or never had it is not a very good reason not to get vaccinated.”

Dr. Sharon Stern, Baylor Health Services medical director, said the readiness of vaccines now allows a second dose to most likely be found wherever students will be for the summer should they get their first dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines while they’re still on campus.

“It is good to get people started on the vaccination, and Pfizer is stating it has fairly good protection even with the first dose, it’s for summer vacations and jobs,” Stern said. “The fact that the vaccine is so readily available means that most people will be able to get the second shot in their home communities.”

Additionally, for herd immunity, Muehlenbein said if we rely on immunity from having gotten sick with COVID-19, it will cost lives. Whereas the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has caused only two reported deaths out of millions of doses, not to mention zero deaths from the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

“So, this is the by far the safest and most effective way of reaching that herd immunity,” he said. “But my point is that we do not know what level that is. Is it between 70% and 90%? It’s somewhere around there, we simply don’t know. It’s a moving target.”

Everyone 16 years old and up is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine in every state
now, so college students should all be eligible to receive one.

COVID vaccine should be mandatory for fall semester

Summer Merkle | Cartoonist

The COVID-19 vaccine has given us hope as a society – quite literally as humankind – for the first time since the start of this crisis. It would be a ridiculous embarrassment to throw that away, but unfortunately, that is currently what much of the public seems content to do.

For the sake of public safety and the greater Waco community, getting vaccinated is a small favor to ask.

Baylor already announced Thursday that vaccinations would be “strongly encouraged,” but not required for the fall, but the university should go one step farther and require the COVID-19 vaccine for everyone returning to campus for the fall 2021 semester.

The Baylor community stands in a position of privilege, viewing the world as a series of choices and options at our disposal with little difference between what the outcomes might be. Not all people, families or communities exist in that privilege, and vaccinating ourselves, in turn, protects others as well.

By limiting the spread of COVID-19 on Baylor’s campus and in the Waco community, it protects our neighbors who are most vulnerable medically and economically.

College students, in particular, live in close quarters and are prone to gather in large groups, which increases infection risk so much so that different risk management measures must be taken.

In order to stop asymptomatic transmission on and off campus, this is a necessary step that must be taken: Baylor’s campus must be vaccinated.

In all other aspects of our college experience, the school lays out what is required of us in an almost checklist-like format:

● Submit Housing Application

● Complete Financial Aid / FAFSA Forms

● Take Placement Exams

● Register for Courses

● Bacterial Meningitis Vaccination Documentation

This year, getting the COVID-19 vaccine should simply be one additional thing on the list.

As an editorial board, we understand many vaccination appointments still have waitlists and the time it takes to be fully vaccinated may contribute to logistical issues with timing before returning to campus in the fall.

We propose this alternative plan of action if a student is unable to receive the vaccine over summer break:

For a large portion of this semester, Baylor University Health Services has administered COVID-19 vaccinations on a weekly basis. We assume as vaccine availability improves, this will continue.

Before returning to campus, all students who have not been vaccinated should sign up for an appointment to get their first dose within the first few weeks of the semester through Baylor Health Services.

With studies showing the Moderna vaccine is 92% effective in preventing COVID-19 14 days after the first dose and studies on the Pfizer vaccine finding similar results, our campus would still be protected very early on in the semester.

To end the pandemic, to protect our Waco community and to do our part, this is what we must do. Baylor, we hope you will lead your community to do the right thing.

It’s time to expand the Supreme Court

By Emily Cousins | Staff Writer

Expanding the Supreme Court is pivotal to protecting the rights and safety of minorities and women.

A concerning trend has been happening in Supreme Court rulings, and that is favoritism of religious groups, especially cases involving Christianity and other Abrahamic religions.

Upon hearing this, it probably sounds positive that we are protecting religious liberty because it falls under the First Amendment. However, the court has clearly been ignoring precedent on previous cases and have rewarded religious groups inappropriately.

This is partly because former President Donald Trump rushed through a Supreme Court justice nominee just before losing the presidential election to Joe Biden. The Supreme Court is now highly unbalanced, with six justices that are more conservative and 3 justices that are more liberal.

Justice Samuel Alito Jr. told the Federalist Society there are “certain quarters” where “religious liberty is fast becoming a disfavored right.”

Does Alito specify what quarters he’s referring to? No. Because Christianity has a huge majority in the United States, and it is not under attack. Are more business and laws expecting Christians and Christian organizations to be accepting and loving to all people? Yes. But this is not an attack on Christianity. Perhaps this is what Christians should be doing in the first place.

Favoring a majority instead of granting minorities their inalienable rights or allowing religious groups to ignore laws meant for public safety purposes is not productive, and it threatens democracy and our principle of separation of church and state.

Throughout time, the Supreme Court has expanded and shrunk based on the political climate. This change would not be unheard of or out of the norm.

Now that the Supreme Court is unbalanced, it is no longer the bipartisan entity it is meant to be. Furthermore, the people of America came out in droves for elections and elected a Democratic president, House of Representatives and Senate. The fact that Republicans stole a Supreme Court justice position from former President Barack Obama and rushed Trump’s choice through shows that Republicans in Washington D.C. have little care for what the majority of Americans want and need to have a positive quality of life.

House and Senate Democrats have introduced legislation that would expand the Supreme Court from nine to 13 justices. Of course, this would likely pass through the House, but get easily shut down in the Senate through the filibuster.

Biden has created a commission to research the possibility of expanding the Supreme Court. While this may seem like a cautious and logical step, it’s really a way to appease the Democrats pushing for the expansion, and then he will likely say no after the commission reports its findings.

Biden has done nothing to stop the atrocious policy of separating children from their parents at the border and continues to stick to the status quo instead of making meaningful change, which he could easily do because he has the Senate and the House to back him. Democrats in power suddenly act like there’s nothing they can do to make change.

Biden needs to push for the expansion of the Supreme Court so it can become balanced again and protect the rights of Americans.

Biden did promise he would be a president for all Americans, and he needs to act like it. Being a president for the whole country doesn’t mean constantly meeting people in the middle. It means doing what’s best for Americans in general. That includes supporting the expansion of the Supreme Court, and doing it before the current Justices issue any more misguided rulings.

Emily is a senior vocal performance and journalism major from Houston.

Stop habitually recording your life

By Mary Watson Vergnolle | Reporter

This past year has been hard on so many people, especially those who engage in online learning. Although technology has provided connection, people are still continuously feeling isolated. The realization that online communication is not enough and the tendency for teens to continuously put a phone between themselves and their experiences is one reason people are missing out on life’s moments rather than living in them.

Due to video apps like TikTok and Snapchat, sensory overload is common with members of Gen Z already, turning us into a generation of multitaskers that can hardly ever just live in the moment. The constant intrusion of videos throughout the day and people feeling the need to record their lives can also lead to massive insecurities through comparison and other similar mental health issues among teens. As a technology-driven generation, we have the power to compare ourselves to the most successful people in society at our fingertips daily. It can lead to a life of dissatisfaction and a constant craving for what we don’t have.

I’m not saying that events like the National Championship game and meeting Chip and Joanna Gaines at Magnolia shouldn’t be documented, but often we miss out enjoying something because we aren’t ever able to give our phones a rest. It’s isolating enough to be taking an online class alone, so why bury your face in your phone when you’re with others face to face? Take a couple photos to look back on years from now but watch the concert with your eyes rather than through your screen. You aren’t going to look back on the low-quality Snapchat videos again anyways, and no one clicking through can hear the music playing above those screaming around you.

Although I see many benefits to technology as a helpful tool in discovering music, capturing memories and communicating with people across the world, it has begun to consume us. If we feel the need to take a recording of every moment rather than just live in it, are we connecting more to our phones or our surroundings? It is time for our generation to unplug and absorb the nearby scenery instead of tabulating views.

Mary Watson is a sophomore journalism major from Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Bears sweep Longhorns for Big 12 title

Adrian Boitan is dog-piled by his teammates after clinching the winning point in the 2021 Big 12 Tournament. The Bears now have an automatic bid into the NCAA Men’s Tennis Tournament. Sarah Pinkerton | Photographer

By DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor

It was like déjà vu for Adrian Boitan as he shot an ace past 21st-ranked Eliot Spizzirri on the top court to clinch Baylor men’s tennis’ 10th Big 12 Tournament title. The Bears swept the top-seeded Texas Longhorns 4-0 on Monday at the Hurd Tennis Center.

It was the Bears’ second-consecutive tournament victory over UT, in which Boitan was also the clincher two years ago. Baylor had beat Texas twice in non-conference play but suffered its only conference loss to UT on April 15.

“I’m so proud of the guys. An amazing performance today. I think they have had very clear goals, especially at the beginning of the year. We’ve had a few setbacks throughout the season that have allowed us to continue to improve and remain hungry,” head coach Michael Woodson said. “Texas came in here a few weeks ago and beat us pretty good, and that was a good learning experience for us. It allowed our guys to have a heart-to-heart and see what they needed from each other and us whenever the chips were down. We’ve responded so well since then with two wins over TCU and now a win over Texas in a Big 12 Championship match. We didn’t want to share the Big 12 title. We wanted to stake a claim that we were the best team in the conference. Our guys certainly proved that today. It was an incredible performance up and down the lineup and the crowd was amazing as well. I am so proud of these guys.”

The Bears put their foot on the gas and never looked back, picking up the doubles point on courts one and three. No. 12-ranked Constantin Frantzen and Sven Lah put away No. 8 Spizzirri and Siem Woldeab 6-2 to open doubles as Lah slashed an ace of his own through for the final point. The British duo of Finn Bass and Charlie Broom put Baylor on the board with a 6-4 victory over Micah Braswell and Payton Holden.

“We always talk with our guys that great energy creates good tennis,” Woodson said. “I feel like they did a great job of that today especially after we came out a little bit flat yesterday in the doubles. Obviously they responded well in the singles. That was a huge focus of ours. We came out, we were courageous, we owned our shots and put a lot of pressure on the Longhorns in the doubles.”

Bouncing back form a tough loss to TCU’s Luc Fomba in the semifinal, No. 8 Matias Soto blazed through with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over No. 39 Braswell on court two to give Baylor its second point. Broom followed with another straight sets win over Chih Chi Huang 6-3, 6-2 on court five. It was the grad transfer’s third win over the Canadian junior this season as the two have faced off in each of Baylor and UT’s four meetings this spring.

It was once again down to Boitan to finish the job for the Bears. Ahead 5-3 in set two, Spizzirri battled to take back a point and make it 5-4. Boitan executed the next serve to grab the winning point on 40-15 and fell to ground on his back as the team formed a pile in celebration.

“It was a tough moment at 5-3 when I missed the match point in the second set. I wanted to finish with a great shot, but it didn’t work,” Boitan said. “At 5-4, I was determined not to lose that game. I wasn’t thinking about anything. I just knew my game plan and wanted to execute. I was not thinking during the match point. My mind is blank and I try to stay in the present.”

The third-year sophomore was awarded Most Outstanding Player, the second of his career, after strong wins over No. 12 Alastair Gray and Spizzirri, becoming the first Bear to win the award twice.

With the title, Baylor has earned an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament and will await to know its final postseason ranking during the 2021 NCAA Selection Show next Monday.

The New Old Guys: A veteran work horse executing on the rubber

Fifth-year senior Hayden Kettler has been a consistent contributor of Baylor’s rotation during his time at Baylor, boasting a 19-9 career record and 3.74 ERA after 226.1 innings. DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor

By DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor

Hayden Kettler almost didn’t come to Baylor. As a legacy, the Coppell native grew up watching the Bears at Baylor Ballpark. He was looking for something different at the time.

But no other place really felt like home.

“I had received a couple of opportunities to play at other schools, and I went around and started visiting other places, a couple in the Big 12, and I just left thinking that this doesn’t feel like home. I don’t know if I can see myself here for four years,” Kettler said.

After Baylor hired Steve Rodriguez as its head coach in 2016, Kettler visited with the new coaching staff and was finally convinced that becoming a Bear was the path for him.

“When Coach Rodriguez, Coach [Jon] Strauss and Coach [Mike] Taylor got hired to be the coaches here at Baylor, I came on my second visit to Baylor. I had originally come on one before that new coaching staff was here, and you could just tell that things were going to go in the right direction and that they had a plan and they were going to execute that plan,” Kettler said. “It was pretty much a no doubter that I was going to be here as soon as I got the chance to come up here and see what they were doing and establishing the culture that they were building was just something that I wanted to be a part of.”

Like many other college players, Kettler’s been through the grind of college baseball. He came to Waco after pitching all of his four years at Coppell High School for coach Kendall Clark where he was a 2016 Rawlings/Perfect Game All-American honorable mention. He posted an 8-3 record with 72 strikeouts, a 1.77 ERA and hit .323 with five home runs and 62 RBI during his high school career.

The Bears got a taste of what Kettler could do when he made 19 appearances in 2017, four of them starts. He had nine multi-innings outings, pitching 37.2 innings with a 3.35 ERA. He put 27 strikeouts and allowed 19 runs (14 earned) on 37 hits and finished the season with a 3-0 record.

Before the Old Guys were officially the Old Guys, Baylor had a different set of leaders from whom Kettler said he learned a lot from his first year.

“During my freshman year, we had an excellent season from Nick Lewis. We had an excellent starting staff. We had Nick Lewis on Fridays, Montana Parsons on Saturdays and Cody Bradford on Sundays,” Kettler said. “I was able to learn a lot from those guys and see how they approach the game. And so that was something I wanted to do. I wanted to be able to have a day that I considered my day and go out there and just give everything I have and give my team a chance to win.”

Hayden Kettler (3-2) has three seven-inning outings in 2021, closing out sweeps against Memphis, Xavier and North Carolina A&T as well as picking up the win in the rubber match against Texas. DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor
Hayden Kettler (3-2) has three seven-inning outings in 2021, closing out sweeps against Memphis, Xavier and North Carolina A&T as well as picking up the win in the rubber match against Texas. DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor

An Exhilirating Year

In 2018, Saturday was Hayden Kettler’s day. The Bears were well on their way to their best year under Steve Rodriguez yet, which would culminate in a Big 12 Tournament title and a trip to the Palo Alto Regional. Kettler took over the day two spot in the starting rotation in between ace and future Texas Ranger Cody Bradford on Friday and then-freshman lefty Tyler Thomas on Sunday.

“The jump from freshman to sophomore year was really just a maturity thing,” Kettler said. “I was able to learn from guys ahead of me that had success and watch Coach Strauss work with guys and develop guys, creating a plan and executing and executing that plan.”

Kettler pitched a total of 87.1 innings as a sophomore, finishing the season with an 8-4 record and a 3.81 ERA. He struck out 56 batters and allowed 37 runs on 51 hits and 36 walks. He pitched a career-high seven innings against UCLA and George Washington in non-conference and versus Kansas in the postseason.

Baylor’s season started a bit slow in 2018 as the Bears picked up series losses in Los Angeles against the Bruins and in the Frisco Classic during non-conference after picking up a win over Houston Baptist to open the season. The tides began to change with a sweep of George Washington and a series win over Texas Tech to kick off Big 12 play. Kettler picked up back-to-back-to-back wins against the Colonials, Red Raiders and Jayhawks (in the Bears’ lone win against Kansas during the regular season).

But conference wouldn’t be an easy road for Baylor. The Bears dropped their next three Big 12 matchups, dropping two games in Lawrence, Kan., and suffering sweeps to Oklahoma and Texas. Baylor took a break from Big 12 play to face Memphis in a road victory. The Bears took the opening win 12-8 and Kettler grabbed another W with a shutout in the rubber match.

That was another turning point for Baylor — the start of a 13-game win streak that included sweeps over TCU and Kansas State in Big 12 play. Kettler pitched six innings of shutout ball against the Horned Frogs in a 6-2 Saturday win and allowed just three runs on three hits over five innings in Manhattan, Kan.

The streak ended with a loss to Oklahoma State, but the Bears were able to come back for a win in the rubber match to take the series. They also picked up two of three against West Virginia to wrap up the regular season.

Baylor then swept through the Big 12 Tournament to bring home its first conference tournament title.

“That’s an experience that I’ll never forget,” Kettler said. “I can’t tell you how exhilarating the games [were], especially in bracket play. I know I pitched versus Kansas in the [quarterfinals]. Then after a few days rest, I knew we were going to be in need of a starter for the fourth game because we had used our three starters and that was the day of my bullpen. I was supposed to throw my bullpen on the day the championship game.”

Kettler was only given two innings by the coaching staff, giving up just one run on three hits and putting up two strikeouts. It was an intense battle between the Bears and their rival Horned Frogs that ended with an extra inning walk-off single from then sophomore catcher Shea Langeliers to ice the win for Baylor.

“It was an unbelievable experience,” the Coppell native said.

Kettler was part of the starting rotation in 2018, picking an 8-4 record as a sophomore and started the Big 12 Tournament title game against TCU. DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor
Kettler was part of the starting rotation in 2018, picking an 8-4 record as a sophomore and started the Big 12 Tournament title game against TCU. DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor

Bumps in the Road

Coming off that exciting 2018 season, Kettler returned as the Friday guy in his junior season. Bradford was suffering through some shoulder soreness and was moved back to the Sunday role to start 2019. The Bears went on an 8-0 run to begin the year with Kettler picking up big wins against Holy Cross on opening day (seven innings, just four hits, no runs and eight strikeouts) and Cornell the following week (six innings, just three hits, no runs and nine strikeouts).

But just when you’re on top of the world is when things can come crashing down. The win streak came to an end with tough losses to Texas A&M and Rice in the Shriner’s College Classic. Kettler took his first loss that season after allowing five runs on four hits and three walks to the Aggies.

Then the injury bug hit the Bears. Bradford wouldn’t pitch again for Baylor due to thoracic outlet syndrome and would be drafted that summer by the Rangers, Langeliers broke the hamate bone in his catching hand, backup catcher/infielder Andy Thomas was already out with mono and several other guys were nursing minor bang-ups. After losses to Nebraska and Cal Poly, Kettler too would have to sit out for a while.

“It was tough,” Kettler said. “Anytime you get an injury or anyone gets an injury, the worst part about it is just not being able to go out there and help your team win. And so during that time, I just had to embrace the fact that being a part of the team is still an important aspect and being a leader on the team is still an important aspect. And so I put my head down and worked to get better and worked to get healthy and allowed myself to just kind of sit back and watch our team go up and go about it. Like I said, it was tough, but it definitely taught me a lot. It gave me an appreciation for the game, even more so than I already had for it and just what playing means to me and how much that I miss and love being on the field. And so I think it definitely made me tougher and stronger and allow me to see the game with a greater appreciation.”

Kettler was able to get back on the field later in the season in a bullpen capacity and finished the year with a 4.21 ERA after 36.1 innings pitched, giving up 18 runs on 35 hits and 12 walks with 32 strikeouts.

He returned to the starting rotation as a senior, making four starts in 2020, going 3-1 with a 3.38 ERA over 21.1 innings pitched. he struck 16 batters in the short season. His best game was against Arkansas in the Shriner’s Classic where he held the Razorbacks scoreless for five innings, scattering four hits and striking out five.

After completing his corporate communications major, Kettler plans to go to law school and said he and Andy Thomas have talked about attending law school together. DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor
After completing his corporate communications major, Kettler plans to go to law school and said he and Andy Thomas have talked about attending law school together. DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor

Maturity and Composure

Saving the bullpen arms for arduous situations is an important part of the game and when your starter can take up a large chunk of innings without giving up a lot to opponents, it can be a very good thing. As a fifth-year senior, Kettler has been effective in that regard.

After recovering from his injury in 2019, Kettler lost a bit of his velocity but was able to figure out how to execute without throwing as hard as he used.

“He has the ability to be crafty enough through four or five innings,” Rodriguez said after Kettler’s first start of the season.

The senior put up seven inning outings against Xavier, Texas and North Carolina A&T as well as closing out the sweep over Memphis before that. He had a hiccup in his five-inning outing versus West Virginia and pitched in tough spots against Kansas and Texas Tech, allowing just one run in each of those games. However, according to Rodriguez, Kettler’s maturity has helped in his success this season.

“Maturity, experience, understanding who you are as a person, is what really works for him. He has the ability to maneuver pitches in and out, be really consistent, with what he’s throwing,” Rodriguez said after Kettler’s outing against Xavier. “Strike percentage is a real big deal, especially with an aggressive team. The fact that you can throw that many strikes with an aggressive team like this and still only go with a two hit shutout is pretty impressive. That for me just kind of says what kind of deception and manipulation of the ball that Hayden has,” Rodriguez said. “I think it’s really impressive when you can throw that many strikes with an aggressive hitting team and have that much success.”

So far in 2021, Kettler holds a 3.71 ERA over 43.2 innings, allowing 18 runs on 24 hits and just six walks. He has struck out 31 batters. The Bears still have three conference series left in the month of May before taking another shot at the Big 12 Tournament and possibly a fourth-straight regional.

First Gay Prom allows students to ‘be themselves’

Gamma Alpha Upsilon put on its first 'Gay Prom' for students and non-students at Cameron Park. Photo courtesy of Gamma Alpha Upsilon.

By Brennen DiMarzo | Staff Writer

On Friday, April 23, Gamma Alpha Upsilon held their first Gay Prom at Cameron Park.

Gamma Alpha Upsilon had been planning this event since last September. Due to them not being a chartered organization, they didn’t have the funding in the past to be able to put on large scale events such as Gay Prom.

A donor, who shall remain anonymous per Gamma’s request, pulled their donation to Baylor after Matt Walsh came to campus and gave a speech entitled ‘The War on Reality: Why the Left has set out to redefine Life, Gender and Marriage.’ The donor then gave their donation to Gamma, allowing them to host Gay Prom, Vice President of Gamma Jake Picker said.

To add to the night festivities, there were multiple local business there providing all catering for the students who attended the event.

“We brought in Waco Axe Company, it was catered by Xristos. We also had Pop’s lemonade, cupcakes and a photo booth for the students,” Picker said. “All students got in for free and non-students had to pay 5 dollars. We ended up having upwards of 150 people attending the event.”

However, the students who attended the event said it was much more than just axe throwing and cupcakes. It was a place where they could freely express themselves and have no fear
of judgment.

“The main reason we threw this event was because a lot of our members couldn’t go to their prom, or they couldn’t bring the person they wanted, or they couldn’t wear what they wanted to wear.” Picker said. “We wanted to give people a chance for them to be themselves.”

Many students said they felt like they could be themselves. Even some who had reservations found those quickly washed away when they got to the event.

Alumni Henry Beard had never been to a Gamma event before and was nervous about this being the first one. He said when he got there, he realized his fears had no grounds to stand on.

“It felt like being enveloped in a non-stressful social situation. When you got there, it was so relaxed, there was no social pressure to hide behind a mask,” Beard said.

While no problems presented themselves at Gay Prom, some said they couldn’t help but feel in the back of their mind someone could sneak in and cause issues.

“I would say I was honestly nervous that someone was going to sneak in and harm us,” Beard said.

For other students, Gay Prom became a place that felt like the first time they have been affirmed.

“Several people said that it was a super affirming event,” Picker said. “One alumni even said that this was the first time he ever felt affirmed while at Baylor. I even started to cry when I saw people dance with their partners, seeing them hold onto one another and dance.”

Though Gay Prom was a success, students such as Picker said they still can’t help but feel that Baylor is making students choose between religion and sexuality.

“I shouldn’t have to choose my religion over my sexuality,” Picker said. “We want to grow in our Christian faith too.”

There are many organizations and websites that support Gamma and their desire to become chartered. BuBearsForAll is one organization that aims to help LGBTQ+ members on campus under a platform that states, “All members of the Baylor family should be treated with equal dignity and respect, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

In case you missed the Oscars

The 93rd Academy Awards ceremony took place on Sunday at Union Station in Los Angeles. "Nomadland" swept several major categories such as Best Picture, Director and Actress. Photo by Andrew H Walker/Shutterstock

By Jenna Frisby | Writer

For those who missed it, all eyes were on Hollywood’s biggest stars during the iconic Academy Awards ceremony, which took place on Sunday at Union Station in Los Angeles, Coveted awards such as “Best Picture” and “Best Actor and Actress” were presented and history was made in several other categories at the 93rd annual show.

“Nomadland” swept several major categories such as Best Picture, Director and Actress. The movie made history for it’s special film company Searchlight Pictures, by giving them their fourth best-picture prize in eight years. Another notable winner was Anthony Hopkins winning Best Actor for his film “The Father,” who took home the prize over the late Chadwick Boseman, who was expected to win.

The Oscars did receive some criticism for the lackluster opening to the show, as there was no video montage recapping the year’s cinematography or even a memorable start to the show. With the Oscars being pushed back a month later than usual, the spectacle of the show did not make up for the delayed start date.

Another point of criticism the Oscars have received in the past is the lack of diversity among winners and nominees in many categories. Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson made history by becoming the first African-American women to ever win the award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling. Their speech was inspirational and touched on the issue of the underrepresentation of people of color in their category in particular.

The night was full of girl-power, as many females took home awards, including Chloé Zhao winning Best Director for “Nomadland.” She is the second female in Oscar history to win Best Director. Emerald Fennell was the first female in 13 years to win Best Original Screenplay, which was also a female-empowering moment.

The Pixar animated film “Soul” took home the win in two categories, Best Animated Feature and Best Original Score, beating out fellow Pixar film “Onward.”

The fashion was in full force as celebrities graced the red carpet in designer gowns galore. Some of the best-dressed stars included presenter Zendaya in an electric yellow dress complete with $6 million worth of diamonds. Singer and winner of Best Original Song H.E.R.’s deep indigo sparkly ensemble was inspired by Prince and was a standout favorite look.

With so much Hollywood history rooted in the Oscars, the night was full wins and moments that will go down in the show’s history.

Dia Blog: Dia week ends on high note

Buzzing crowds of students enjoy wild weekend festivities at Diadeloso 2021. Christina Cannady | Photographer

By Ava Dunwoody | Arts & Life Editor

What do you get when you mix laser tag, s’mores, a scavenger hunt and mini golf? The perfect summer birthday party for a 10 year old? Maybe so. But you also get the perfect late-night adventure for a college kid experiencing her first Diadeloso.

On Saturday, I attended the last day of Diadeloso Week and had an absolute blast going around to all of the activities amid a buzzing crowd of students enjoying the weekend festivities.

Earlier that day, I joined a team of four to participate in a campus-wide scavenger hunt hosted by Waco Escape Room. We solved puzzles on our phones that led us to an on-campus location where we took selfies as proof of our participation in the race. We ran into other groups and traded hints, helping each other along the way and laughing hysterically after we realized how off track our guesses were. We didn’t even place, but it didn’t matter because we had fun doing it.

Later that night, I went with a friend to check out Noche, a special edition Sundown Session to commemorate the end of Diadeloso. We walked around Rosenbalm Fountain and settled down near a cozy firepit where we roasted marshmallows and tried not to burn our fingertips. We stopped to watch a group of line dancers showing off their best moves, then moved on to mini golf, where we tied in a head-to-head match of two mediocre putters.

The competitiveness didn’t stop there, as we made our way to the laser tag field on Fountain Mall and geared up for a free-for-all match where I ran around helplessly trying my best to aim at complete strangers. I guess it worked out, I earned the second place title. Truly an honor, I know.

We ended the night with bags of fresh popcorn and memories of Diadeloso that will stick with me as a reminder of my first experience with a tradition so beloved by the Baylor family. With the spring semester cut short my freshman year, I had only heard of the wonders of Diadeloso until this weekend. And even though we didn’t get a day off from school, I think a whole week filled with fun activities like these was a pretty good compromise.

Gamma Alpha Upsilon’s premiere ‘Gay Prom’ event off campus

Gamma Alpha Upsilon put on its first 'Gay Prom' for students and non-students at Cameron Park. Photo courtesy of Gamma Alpha Upsilon.

By Brennen DiMarzo | Staff Writer

On Friday, Gamma Alpha Upsilon held their first Gay Prom at Cameron Park.

Gamma Alpha Upsilon had been planning this event since last September. Due to them not being a chartered organization, they didn’t have the funding in the past to be able to put on large scale events such as Gay Prom.

With help from one donor, (anonymous per Gamma’s request) Gay Prom was a go. who gave their donation directly to Gamma instead of Baylor, after conservative blogger Matt Walsh was hosted by the Baylor Young Americans for Freedom in 2019 to give his speech, “The War on Reality: Why the Left has set out to redefine Life, Gender and Marriage,” vice president of Gamma, Jake Picker said.

Gay Prom was held at Cameron Park and there were multiple local business there providing all catering for the students who attended the event.

“We brought in Waco Axe Company, it was catered by Xristos. We also had Pop’s Lemonade, cupcakes and a photo booth for the students,” Picker said. “All students got in for free and non-students had to pay five dollars. We ended up having upwards of 150 people attending the event.”

However, the students who attended the event said it was much more than just axe throwing and cupcakes. It was a place where they could freely express themselves and have no fear of judgement.

“The main reason we threw this event was because a lot of our members couldn’t go to their prom, or they couldn’t bring the person they wanted, or they couldn’t wear what they wanted to wear.” Picker said. “We wanted to give people a chance for them to be themselves.”

Many students said they did feel like they could be themselves. Even some who had reservations found those quickly washed away when they got to the event.

Alumni Henry Beard had never been to a Gamma event before and was nervous about this being the first one. He said when he got there, he realized his fears had no grounds to stand on.

“It felt like being enveloped in a non-stressful social situation. When you got there it was so relaxed, there was no social pressure to hide behind a mask,” Beard said.

While no problems presented themselves at Gay Prom, some said they couldn’t help but feel that in the back of their mind that someone could sneak in and cause issues.

“I would say I was honestly nervous that someone was going to sneak in and harm us,” Beard said.

For other students, Gay Prom became a place that felt like the first time they have been affirmed.

“Several people said that it was a super affirming event,” Picker said. “One alumni even said that this was the first time he ever felt affirmed while at Baylor. I even started to cry when I saw people dance with their partners, seeing them hold onto one another and dance.”

Though Gay Prom was a success, students such as Picker said they still can’t help but feel that Baylor is making students choose between religion and sexuality.

“I shouldn’t have to choose my religion over my sexuality,” Picker said. “We want to grow in our Christian faith too.”

There are many organizations and websites that support Gamma and their desire to become chartered. BuBearsForAll is one organization that aims to help LGBTQ+ members on campus under a platform that states,”All members of the Baylor family should be treated with equal dignity and respect, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Gamma’s first Gay Prom was enjoyed by students and non-students alike and is another step for Gamma becoming an official organization.

Student government starts project to loan free caps, gowns to students

As May 2021 graduation approaches, Student Government has been giving out free caps and gowns to those who need them. Photo courtesy of Marissa Watson

By Emily Cousins | Staff Writer

Student government is lending free caps and gowns to students who want to attend graduation but cannot afford them on their own.

Boerne senior Sutton Houser, student body president, said student government purchased 10 caps and gowns on a trial basis for the program this year, and they hope to expand the number they purchase next year to take financial stress off of more students.

“So students email me, we work to see if we have their size,” Houser said. “Afterwards, we just asked the students to bring it back the day after graduation. All they need to do at that point now, after they pick it up from our offices, is just go buy a tassel and stole. Both of those are significantly less expensive than the whole package. It’s been going well so far, and we love just being able to give back to students in this way.”

Boerne junior student senator Marissa Watson said some students choose not to attend graduation because of the high expense of a cap and gown they will only
wear once.

“I don’t want any students to choose not to do that just because they can’t afford to buy a gown,” Watson said. “Hopefully this will encourage that and just get those graduating seniors more excited about their accomplishments because they shouldn’t be held back from being able to celebrate because of their
financial situation.”

Watson said this program will continue every semester.

“I know we have alumni looking to donate to this project, which is something we weren’t even considering,” Watson said. “But it’s really exciting because it’s just supporting it even more, and we can buy more gowns for more people to wear. It’s a great thing, and I think it’s just going to keep growing.”

Houser said he hopes students leaders will continue to build on this project for years to come and that any alumni looking to donate to this cause can email him at Sutton_Houser1@baylor.edu.

“Keep your ears out for a friend, whether it’s this year or next year, who might be going through a difficult year financially and see if you can lend a helping hand and be aware of this resource for students,” Houser said. “We want to share this resource for students so that we can help more people. … We need the students’ help and the student body’s help making sure this information about this program is given to students who need it most.”

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