Top 10

The women’s basketball team landed the 10th best recruiting class in the country this year, according to online scouting network Scout.com.

The class includes two All-Americans, Amber Harris, a 6-foot-6 forward who was named “Miss Basketball” in Indiana and seen by some scouts as the No. 1 high school player in the country, and Der-ryka Martin, a 6-foot-4 forward from Florida. Other members of the class include Alesia Barringer, Maureen Hester, Amy Johns and Bionca McCall. The team, which must replace All-American Tara Boothe, finished last season 21-9.

Paradise Found

The men’s basketball team tips off its season in paradise. The team is taking part in the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam in mid-November in St. Thomas. Its first game is against Virginia Commonwealth on Friday, Nov. 17, followed by either Villanova or the College of Charleston on Saturday. A third game on Sunday is against one of the teams in the opposite bracket: Iowa, Alabama, Toledo or Middle Tennessee State.

Heat of the Moment

It doesn’t get much better than this: 1999 graduate James Posey got traded to the Miami Heat of the National Basketball Association, played for coach Pat Riley, started alongside Shaquille O’Neal and Dwayne Wade, won the NBA title and then signed a one-year, $6.4 million contract.

“I’ve got a great taste in my mouth of what we accomplished and everything,” he says, “and I just want to have the opportunity to do it again.” Now that’s a year to remember.

Bobinski’s Back

After two years serving as associate vice president for development at Xavier, Mike Bobinski returned to his former position as director for athletics following the resignation of Dawn Rogers in June. “Although I’ve been in a new and challenging role the past two years,” he says, “Xavier athletics has remained a passion for me.”

Bobinski came to Xavier in 1998, and in the six years the department was under his leadership, Xavier’s athletic teams won nine Atlantic 10 Championships and competed in 19 NCAA tournament events.

He also hired Thad Matta as the men’s basketball coach, Sean Miller as the University’s first associate head coach and women’s basketball coach Kevin McGuff, and oversaw the opening of the Cintas Center.

Educating Riders

Perched atop Data, a copper-colored chestnut gelding, Allison Hritz checks her stirrup lengths and makes sure the rubber pads are secured just below the balls of her feet. She pulls her hard hat down snug, gathers the reins in both hands and squeezes the horse with her legs. Data picks up speed as they approach the first of eight jumps in Hritz’s final class in the show at Miami University. They clear it with ease and move on through the rest of the course of jumps.

 

Leaning forward with confidence and feeling the horse’s mouth through the reins, Hritz holds her breath as she comes off the seventh fence and heads straight for the final jump. She feels the horse quicken but gives a slight check with her reins and sinks deeper into the saddle. The horse steadies himself, and she counts down the strides—three, two, one. Her fingers soften on the reins and she flows forward with his leap. The fence is cleared. The landing is smooth.

Hritz smiles. She knows she’s just put in a winning ride. It is, for her and for Xavier, a monumental occasion—the first blue ribbon for the University’s newly formed equestrian club. Another member wins two ribbons in the flat class, where riders are judged at the walk, trot and canter, and the team celebrates with pictures.

Today, as a new school year unfolds and a new riding season begins, Hritz and her teammates expect to make giant strides. Last year, they struggled with the competition, which was tougher than expected. But coaches Jim and Gwen Arrigon, seasoned collegiate equestrian program managers, have all eight members returning, and the team has attracted new members, some with national experience.

“We have a lot to offer because we know the collegiate system, so Xavier won’t have to muddle through,” Jim says. “We hope to have up to 25 to 30 kids in time.”

But it’s been one step at a time. The first was taken when the Arrigons left Miami University after 17 years of running the college’s program. Aware that Xavier did not have a program, they made some contacts to help gauge interest. Flyers appeared last fall, and the phone started ringing. One call was from Hritz, a junior who’d ridden during high school. She became the club’s representative, helping it gain recognition and funding from the club sports council, which substantially increased the team’s funding for this year.

The Arrigons provide the horses, the training and the equipment at their barn about 45 minutes northwest of campus. Students ride at least once a week under Jim’s experienced eye. There are 25 horses to choose from, but the Arrigons insist the students change horses often. “They make you a better rider,” says Gwen.

That’s also the way college shows work—you ride what you get, saddle and all. “You draw a popsicle stick with a horse’s name on it, and that’s the horse you ride,” Jim says. “You have as little as 15 minutes to get to know the horse.” No practice jumps. No warm-up ring. Just a little information about the horse’s habits—good and bad—and up you go.

The policy reflects the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association’s mission, which is to lower the cost and level the playing field for young riders. “Everyone has the same chance with the different horses,” he says.

The association has about 350 member colleges. Xavier is one of nine schools in the Southern Ohio and Northern Kentucky region, competing from October through spring. Last year, Xavier rode in eight shows, struggling until the last two. “The kids sort of underestimated how competitive it would be,” Jim says. “But college shows are tough. It took until March to win ribbons.”

Hritz is optimistic as she looks forward to the team’s first show in October. “We have a month and a half to practice,” she says. “I’m looking forward to getting back into it.”

Washington Bound

What better way to spend your summer when you’re into politics than in an internship with one of Washington’s power brokers? Four Xavier students managed to do just that thanks to their involvement in the University’s Philosophy, Politics and the Public honors program.

 

Erin McDermott was in House Majority Leader John Boehner’s office for six weeks this summer. Boehner, himself a Xavier graduate, put her to work on several projects such as appropriations, education, defense, the budget and immigration, and she wrote summaries of the hearings and floor votes she observed. She spent the second half of her summer studying in London.

Other students had equally impressive experiences. Brian Cantwell spent half the summer with Sen. Mike DeWine and the other half with Congressman Steve Chabot. Kate Holley also worked in DeWine’s office. Greg Koehlerg was with Congressman Brian Higgins of New York. And three students—Jessica Wabler, Mark Manning and Kevin Hoggart—interned in the local offices of Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory and the Clinton County administrator in Wilmington, Ohio.

Note: Books

Last spring, Xavier’s physics faculty and students picked up a little light summer reading after former physics department chairman John Hart donated more than 600 books from his personal collection to the University. About half went to the library. It didn’t take long for the rest of the books to disappear.

“There were some quite valuable old books you can’t find anymore,” says Steve Herbert, department chair. Herbert picked himself up a real find: “Methods of Theoretical Physics” by Philip Morse and Herman Feshbach, which was last printed in 1953.

But Hart isn’t finished yet. He’s still got three 6-foot tall shelves, and they’re full. “I kept the crème de la crème and gave away the rest,” he says.

NASCAR Summer

Corey Hawthorne spent his summer living life in the fast lane after securing one of the most coveted jobs available—an internship at the corporate headquarters of NASCAR in Daytona Beach, Fla.

 

The senior spent his days working in the series operations department, which oversees the operations of the sport’s three main series—the Nextel Cup series, the Busch series and the Craftsman Truck series.

His duties included helping coordinate pre-race and victory lane ceremonies, making sure the NASCAR logos are painted on the grass around the tracks before each race, and recording and paying drivers their earnings from contingency sponsorships—the multitude of smaller decals that decorate the cars.

More than 400 students from around the country applied for the 29 internships NASCAR offers college students each summer.

Just before landing the internship, Hawthorne, a sport marketing major from Philadelphia, was also awarded the Antonio Johnson scholarship, which includes full tuition for the upcoming year. Formed in 1948, NASCAR is a multibillion dollar organization and the No. 2-rated regular season sport on network TV with broadcasts in 150 countries and 75 million fans.

Marketing Salvation

Ted Bergh has a strong business background. He’s also big on religion. So perhaps it’s only natural that Bergh, a 2001 graduate with a master’s degree in theology, would take more than a passing interest in the marketing-based success of mega-churches—the large, mostly non-denominational churches whose popularity has spread across the country.

 

But Bergh took his interests one step further. He proposed a class at the University—one he would teach as an adjunct professor—focused on the marketing behind these churches, which are described as non-Catholic churches with more than 2,000 members. Last spring, the class became a reality, cross-listed as Theology 308 and Marketing 308: Marketing/Evangelizing Churches.

“The mega-churches are phenomenally successful,” Bergh says. “And we are trying to see if that could transfer to Catholic parishes. There was a bishop’s letter called ‘Go and Make Disciples’ that says every Catholic should be comfortable in inviting others to join the church, that Catholics should spend a lot more time getting comfortable in their own faith and that Catholics should then try to change the world through different programs and ministries throughout the world. All of those three things are done by the mega-churches very well.”

In Cincinnati, doing these things well means the area’s three mega-churches—Solid Rock Church near Lebanon, Crossroads Community Church in Madisonville and the Vineyard in Mason—all rank among the 10 largest churches for membership. That’s a major shift: A decade ago, the top 10 were all Catholic.

But it’s the way these churches have grown that really tells the tale. “Crossroads started with 50 members in 1996 and now they have 5,000 or 6,000,” Bergh says. “Whereas Good Shepherd parish, one of Cincinnati’s largest Catholic churches, had 10,000 members 15 years ago and now has 12,000.”

Much of the secret lies in superior, intentional marketing. For example, Crossroads boasts between four and eight staff members who gained branding experiences with Procter & Gamble.

The mega-church movement began in Chicago in the 1970s with Willow Creek Church. As its congregation grew, the church packaged its approach and began offering seminars to teach others how to start their own churches.

“The idea is, people come to church, they enjoy it, it’s non-threatening, nice music, preaches sort of self-help, relevant topics, how you apply the Gospels to help you in your everyday life,” Bergh says. “At Willow Creek, they have recruitment classes on how to witness and recruit people. All members are expected to know how to do that.”

On the public relations front, limited doctrine allows mega-churches to dodge the kinds of controversies that often plague other churches, he says. Such issues, from gay pastors to pedophilia, often drive a wedge between institutional churches and their congregations.

Bergh’s group of 22 students compared the three mega-churches with Cincinnati’s two largest Catholic parishes—Good Shepherd in Montgomery and St. John the Evangelist in West Chester. The class broke into five teams, with each team visiting one of the churches, exploring how each addresses its mission as far as marketing, evangelizing and outreach. The findings weren’t a surprise.

“The two Catholic Church groups said, ‘These are very good churches. They deal well with the spirituality of their members, but they don’t have a clue how to evangelize,’ ” Bergh says. “There is no real growth.”

Bergh isn’t letting this information go to waste, starting Parish Vision LLC, and is working with St. Anthony Messenger Press to package “Go and Make Disciples” with mega-church information and his students’ research. “I want to get a team together to write books to take the mega-church model to Catholic churches.”

Lying the Groundwork

There’s a new book out involving a Xavier University professor, and it’s a best-seller—at least among bishops, priests and ministers. Edward Hahnenberg, an assistant professor of theology, helped write the guide to developing lay ecclesial ministers. Published last year, the book has drawn attention worldwide as the Catholic Church increasingly relies on lay ministers to do the work once done by priests and women religious.

 

It has also drawn attention to Hahnenberg, who was asked two years ago by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to lend his expertise to a subcommittee of lay theologians and bishops who were developing the guidelines. Hahnenberg, whose doctoral thesis focused on the topic, wound up doing much of the writing for the creation of several drafts, although the final version of Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord was the work of the committee.

“It was a great experience of collaboration between theologians and church leaders,” he says.

Hahnenberg now is being invited to speak on the topic, as more than 30,000 lay ecclesial ministers in the U.S. are being paid to lead ministries such as youth groups and religious education.