Wednesday, March 20, was a big day. Everything changed and nothing will ever be the same. For the University, and for me.
The big news is Xavier announced its joining the Big East Conference. Great. Let’s go X. The even bigger news, though, was that for a day I was D’Artagnan.
I am student writer for Xavier magazine, and I usually don’t leave the little office hole they shove all the students in. I joked with my boss that she should let me cover the big announcement later that day, if only to grab whatever free stuff they would be giving out. I thought nothing would come of it. Boy, was I in for a surprise.
I went back to my desk and started to work when Doug walked in. Doug is the Executive Director of the Office of Communications, so he is my boss’s boss’s boss.
“Can you do something for us?” he asked.
When your boss’s boss’s boss asks you that question, you don’t hesitate with your answer, and I didn’t.
“Great,” he said. “We need a D’Artagnan for the event today. The usual one can’t make it. You’ll have fun.”
Before I knew it I was putting on the D’Artagnan costume. The costume may look simple from afar, but it is, in reality, a puzzle of nine different pieces. I even had to enlist the help of two cheerleaders to figure out how to put the jacket/cape on. In my defense there had to be 15 or more buttons on that thing and there isn’t exactly a “This side up” sign written on it. But eventually, I got it on. The last thing I needed to do was put on the head, which took immense concentration on my behalf. I had to get in character, so I stared D’Artagnan in the face and contemplated questions all mascots ask themselves: What’s my motivation? What’s the proper high-five form? How do I upstage the Blue Blob? What is the Blue Blob?
Feeling at one with the character, I put on the head.
I then walked up to the Cintas Center and was overwhelmed with the size of the turnout. As a cast member of several theater productions here on campus, as well as a member of the fencing club, I felt somewhat qualified to represent a 17th century swashbuckling musketeer. Still, being the official University mascot was a huge responsibility. So I took a deep breath and headed in.
Inside the building, I gave out countless high fives and hugs. My pride was somewhat bruised when I realized that more people wanted a photo with D’Artagnan than they do with the real me. As time passed, I got more and more into the role.
A few of my friends were in the crowd, and when I found them, I started dancing for them, giving them high-fives and making a genuine fool of myself—an easy task at any time, I will admit, but even easier when hidden behind an oversized foam head with someone else’s face on it. Later that day, I ran into them and asked if they had seen D’Artagnan.
“Did you think he was a good dancer?” I asked.
They were confused until I revealed D’Artagnan’s real identity. When I showed them a photo, we shared a good laugh.
One of my friends asked how it was in the costume, which all I could say was “Hot.” I probably lost about ten pounds in the suit, and it was impossible to see out of the mask. I have to applaud mascots everywhere who sacrifice their vision to dance around for the entertainment of others.
But there was one thing that made blinding darkness and the heat worth it. A little girl and her mother came up to me. The little girl could not have been more than six years old and barely made it up to my waist. She wanted a picture with D’Artagnan. After her mom took the photo, the little girl turned and gave me a hug.
Andy Fleming leans back in his chair inside his Schmidt Fieldhouse office, finally able to catch his breath.
It’s been less than a week since the end of the 2011 spring exhibition season, and the end of his first full season as head coach of the men’s soccer program. The short time since he took over the moribund program has been, to say the least, a whirlwind. The program won just five games in the previous two years, yet Fleming came in and through some magical mixture of talent, luck and hard work managed to convince essentially the same group of players to claw out 10 wins, win an Atlantic 10 Conference title and claim Xavier’s first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance. Life’s been good so far.
There is, of course, still a lot more to do. There’s always more to do. Recruiting is never done. There are player evaluations to complete. Summer camps to plan. Still, for the moment at least, there’s time to do it. May is a slow time in the collegiate soccer world. No games, no practices, no life on the road.
So Fleming starts digging into the stack of work that got set aside during the season when his cell phone begins to buzz. It’s Amy, his wife, who’s nine months pregnant with their second child.
“I’m going into labor,” she says. “I called an ambulance. It’s on its way. Get home. Now.”
She isn’t due for another 10 days. They’ve had a baby before, so Fleming knows the routine. Still, the burst of adrenaline, the stress of the situation and the excitement of anticipation all hit at once. Fleming hangs up and makes a beeline to his car. The house is just seven minutes away, but it feels like it’s taking forever to get there.
After a few harried minutes, the two climb into the ambulance and head to the hospital. Coming to a stop just outside the emergency room entrance, the EMTs begin to wheel Amy toward the doors. Noticing that Amy’s not carrying her overnight bag, Andy jumps back into the ambulance to grab it.
By the time he gets the bag in his hands, he hears a baby cry. Before they can get Amy inside and settled into a delivery room, the delivery’s already over. She gave birth in the parking lot.
Fleming is both surprised and ecstatic. It’s a girl. Daddy’s girl.
It takes an hour or so to get Amy treated and settled into a room, so while they wait, Fleming takes out his phone and starts sharing the news on Facebook.
Devin Fleming born in ambulance very quickly at 418pm. Momma and baby are great. Dad is already worried about having a daughter LOL. More info (including middle name) to follow.
As Amy is recovering, Andy sits in a chair alongside the bed. They banter about what toppings to order on their pizza while simultaneously texting their relatives about their newborn daughter.
She’s going to grow up to be a lacrosse player. And get a scholarship to a top-tier school. Notre Dame? Maybe she’ll meet and marry a guy who goes to Harvard.
Fleming pictures himself snapping photos at her graduation and sees himself walking her down the aisle on her wedding day.
Then a nurse opens the door and enters the room. She looks down at Andy.
“Can I talk to you for a minute?” she asks quietly.
Andy and Amy glance at each other, puzzled.
“We see some markers that are consistent with Down syndrome,” she says. “We need to do some more testing, but it looks like…”
Fleming doesn’t even hear the rest of the sentence. Her voice is drowned out by the noise of his world crashing in on him. The hope of taking pictures of her during her college graduation crumbles. The vision of cheering her on at lacrosse practices disappears. The dream of walking her down the aisle shatters. All he can do is hold his head in his hands and cry.
After a few hours of tears, confusion and trying to process the news, Fleming drives home while Amy continues her recovery in the hospital.
He walks in the door, picks up his 2-year-old son, Brady, and crawls into bed.[lightbox link=″http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p03yYpBJBhE&feature=youtu.be″][/lightbox]
My god, I’m 36 years old, and I’m afraid to sleep alone because I feel like the world is ending, Fleming thinks. I’m just going to wrap my arms around this child, and he’s going to give me strength.
“When I woke up the next morning, Brady says, ‘Dad, Dad how is Mommy and the baby?’ That’s when I knew that I had to face this head on. An attitude is something you can choose, and starting that moment, I had to take it on.”
If there is a positive side to any of it, it’s that Fleming’s always been a determined soul. The oldest of three children from the Boston suburb of Braintree—a blend of blue collar urban and upper middle class suburban—Fleming excelled at every sport he tried. But he was a little more driven than most. He loved practices. He rode his bike to the local high schools to watch the older kids practice and study the coaches. He went to games with his dad, picking out the seats closest to the coaches and team.
When he was 15 years old, he chose to leave his local school and enroll in a nearby Catholic school. It was, he says, an effort to improve his own game and put himself in a better position for a college scholarship. He also admits he preferred the dress code and discipline imposed by the nuns—not the mindset of your typical high-school freshman.
Ultimately, it worked. He set school records for goals, was named conference MVP and is still the only player from the school to earn a full soccer scholarship to a Division I school—Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
While he found some success on the field at Marist, he more importantly found his calling. By his senior season, he was not just the team captain, he was going on scouting and recruiting trips with the assistant coaches. The coaching bug had bitten him. It bit him so bad, in fact, that after graduating, he returned to Boston, lived at home and worked for two years as an assistant coach at Boston University—unpaid.
After seeing his acumen for the game, BU finally hired him full time. Nine years later, though, he was recruited away from the Terriers by perennial powerhouse Northwestern University. After three seasons of helping push Northwestern to new heights, he was placed on the soccer world’s potential head coach carrousel. Xavier took notice. Knows how to win, plays clean, students get good grades. He fit the Xavier mold. He was interviewed on a Tuesday and offered the job on Thursday.
Today, three years later, Fleming unzips his blue windbreaker and plops down on the couch in his office, resting his elbows on his knees and massaging his head with his fingers.
He just finished lifting weights with the team and is equal parts sweaty and sleepy. He spent the night in a pastel-colored hospital chair because his 1-month-old daughter, Quinn, is sick. Brady is now 3. Devin is 18 months.[lightbox link=″http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIcyzB9sgtM&feature=youtu.be″][/lightbox]
“I slept for three hours in a hospital chair, the doctor was running late and I had to be in the weight room by 10:00 a.m.” he says. “But I made it in time because I want to show my team how to excel as adults. You know, the players might have to deal with something like this someday. Part of my job is to make sure that they grow up to be good husbands, parents and employees.”
To do that, he needs to lead by example and not break his own rules, specifically Rule No. 1.
When Fleming took over the soccer program, it was a mess. The team was best known for underachieving and having its players issued red cards by the officials for bad sportsmanship. In the previous five years, the team lost two thirds of its games, and its road record was an embarrassing 3-36-3. There was no structure, no organization, no discipline. On Fleming’s first day of practice, only two players were on the field on time. The rest came out late and not properly dressed.
Two things became immediately obvious. One, he needed to lay down the law. So he instituted some basic rules. “If you want to play, you have to know and follow these rules,” he says. “If you can agree to those terms, then you’re in.’’
Rule No. 1: Be on time. Which means being in the locker room 30 minutes prior to practice and on the field 15 minutes before practice.
It also became obvious that he had nothing on which to build and needed to start from scratch. “Welcome to the South Pole,” he told the team. “Every destination from here is upward and pointing north.” He brought a picture of a bus into the locker room. “I’m driving the bus,” he said. “Some of you will get on the bus. Others will be pulled onto it. Some will be denied entrance. Some will watch it go right on by.”
He started referring to the “old Xavier” and the “new Xavier.” He hosted a mandatory Super Bowl party so his players would begin to spend time together off the field. They went to basketball games together. When the athletic department held a contest selling raffle tickets, he demanded they win. “Winners win at everything,” he said.
Too much of the “old Xavier,” he discovered, was all about individuals and not enough about team. Players wore Mohawk haircuts and different color cleats so they would stand out. He put a stop to that.
Rule No. 2: All players must wear black cleats. No exceptions.
Rule No. 3: The players aren’t allowed to wear earrings during team functions.[lightbox link=″http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VE8b-Sw4pHg&feature=youtu.be″][/lightbox]
He also instilled discipline. When the players run “suicides”—a torturous conditioning exercise in which players run in a zig-zag pattern, bending down and touching a designated line before heading off in the other direction—they must actually touch the line. No shortcuts.
Michael Mulcahey, a faculty member of the Department of Sports Studies, saw them practicing and decided to watch for a few minutes. Afterward, he approached Fleming.
“Keep doing whatever it is that you’re doing,” Mulcahey said, “because I’ve never seen all the players run suicides and touch the lines every single time.”
And it’s all paid off.
In his three seasons, the team has won 36 games, been A-10 champions twice, made the NCAA Tournament three times, been ranked in the Top 10 nationally, led the nation in fewest yellow cards and topped it all off with a team average 3.25 grade point average.
“You have to be oblivious to what’s going on in college soccer,” wrote the College Soccer News, “or without a pulse to not know what’s transpired at Xavier University over the past three years.”
In a mess of blonde hair and giggles, Devin and Brady wrestle each other to the ground. Brady easily lifts himself up and looks around the room for the next best spot to play. He runs toward a dark hallway and inspects it, deciding that it’s worth exploring.
Devin gets back on her feet by using Fleming’s leg for leverage. She takes two steps to the right and loses her balance, falling down on the floor again. She smiles. Fleming does, too. He puts his hands underneath her armpits, lifts her up and straddles her on his knee. He fixes the crooked bow in her hair and tickles her neck with kisses.
The love is obvious. So is his growing understanding of being the father of a daughter with a disability. She struggles, sure, but she’s still Daddy’s girl. If only others could understand. Which brings up Rule No. 4
Rule No. 4: Don’t ever use the word “retard.”
As Devin and Brady run around with the energy adults can only envy, Fleming reflects on how his life has changed.
Two months after Devin entered the world, Fleming was still processing the news about her condition. Not that he wished her any other way—something he is quick to point out—but he was unsure how to move forward. He had been Xavier’s head coach for just 18 months, and he began to wonder how he could use his struggles to set an example for his players.
“I wasn’t thinking ‘Devin, I don’t love you because you have Down syndrome,’ but I was mourning the loss of the child that we were expecting,” Fleming says. “Then I thought, ‘Wow. I’m a coach in a small town, on a small campus and with a bunch of young men who I’m supposed to teach lessons about life to. And what a platform I have, so let’s do something with this, to raise awareness, to tie my family in the team and the community.’ ”
The thought turned into Devin’s Team, a group that raises money and awareness for Down syndrome. Fleming threw himself into the idea with the same zeal as everything else. He wanted to host a soccer game/fundraiser, so in order to boost attendance, he invited the University of Akron, former NCAA champions. The game broke the single-game attendance record and raised $3,000. Akron’s coach, Caleb Porter, personally purchased 100 tickets—a $500 donation.[lightbox link=″http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQnUgan4kUw&feature=youtu.be″][/lightbox]
When the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati held a 5K, the entire team showed up and ran as one. At the organization’s annual “Buddy Walk” fundraiser along the riverfront, both the men’s and women’s soccer teams as well as the men’s basketball team showed up to support Fleming and his family. The Xavier athletes wore their uniforms, while other supporters sported Devin’s Team T-shirts, which feature a circular logo with her handprint in the middle. More than 150 people attended in support of Devin, raising more than $20,000.
Fleming puts his elbows back on his knees, resting his jaw on his hands.
“I feel like for that one day, during the Buddy Walk, the players became my support. They took care of me. They made me feel like my life was normal.”
He pauses to consider the moment, his life, his job as coach and father. How much everything has changed. How fortunate he really is.
“The athletes here just blow me away,” he says. “I never thought I would learn so much from a group of young men and a little girl.”
Maj. Mark Smydra
Bachelor of Arts in organizational communications, 1995
Master of Education in agency and community counseling, 1996
Strategy and Plans Officer, Department of Defense
Walk On | Smydra walked onto Xavier’s campus in 1991 and, after a year, onto the basketball team. He played four seasons, including his last as a graduate student. “I had a year of eligibility left, so I asked Coach Prosser if I could play as a fifth year walk-on, and he said I was welcome.”
Spot On | “I remember Prosser took all the tryouts into a room and said, ‘If you want to be a walk-on, you can’t get hurt, you can’t get sick, you have to get good grades and if not, then don’t try out.’ I played in 15 games, including against Georgetown in the first half of the NCAA Tournament game in 1995. We ended up losing by three points. Prosser said I would get to play, but I had caught some bug and just felt horrible when I got into the game.”
Military Liaison | After graduation, Smydra completed the Marine’s Infantry Officer Course and Scout Sniper School, among others, before a colonel recommended him for deployment to Kosovo with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit in 2000. From there he was sent to Bosnia to support military operations and then to Latvia to support Latvia’s desire to enter the European Union and NATO. “We spent our time scheduling experts to train and assist the Latvians.”
SOCOM | After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, Smydra was assigned to U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla., which helped provide information to special operations units in Afghanistan. “The office I was in was specifically set up to support special ops units engaged in the War on Terror.”
Moving On | Smydra was assigned as the Marine Attaché in Pristina, Kosovo, in 2003. His unique experiences in special operations and foreign affairs led to additional assignments as the U.S. liaison to Turkish Special Forces in Iraq and as the Marine Attaché to Ukraine.
Fired Upon | In 2006, he went with Turkish Special Forces into Iraq and was fired upon by Peshmerga snipers. Smydra stopped his Toyota Landcruiser when one of the convoy’s Kurdish soldiers fell out with a gunshot to the head. They picked him up and sped to a hospital. “I saw him a few weeks later and he’d made a full recovery.”
The Pentagon | Now assigned to the Pentagon, Smydra drafts policy and makes recommendations affecting Marines. In short, he writes a lot of briefs and executive summaries for military and civilian leaders. “You have to be articulate, brief and effective, so all the writing and speaking skills I developed at Xavier were fantastic.”
Promotion | Smydra has been selected for promotion to Lieutenant Colonel this year. He expects to continue sharing his unique experiences with other military members, while also spending more time with his wife, Karyn, and son, Max.
Col. Paul Fellinger Jr. Bachelor of Arts in international affairs, 1990
Garrison Commander for the U.S. Army Garrison at Presidio
Army Brat | Paul Fellinger Jr., has been moving since before he had motor skills. His father, Paul Fellinger Sr. (see Paul Sr.’s profile on page 41), was an Army man. So they moved from base to base, house to house. “I was born in Cincinnati and probably within six months had moved for the first time. I’ve probably lived in 30-35 different houses throughout my lifetime. My favorite places growing up were Germany and Virginia.”
International Education | As a lover of both academics and athletics, Fellinger enjoyed high school. For his first three years, he studied at the International School of Hamburg, in what used to be West Germany. There, he befriended students of different backgrounds and was exposed to cultures from places as far away as the Middle East and Asia.
Going Back | Later in life, Fellinger returned to Germany, but this time, it was for his assignment—not his father’s. He spent two years there with his wife and two daughters. “We lived in southern Bavaria and spent a lot of time in town interacting with locals, buying their food and practicing their language. I’m glad that my girls spent some time living there and getting to know the lifestyle. I don’t know how much they appreciate it yet, but they will when they get older.”
Active Duty | Since 2004, Fellinger spent nearly three and a half years on assignment in the Middle East. While in Afghanistan, he assisted in establishing local military and police forces. He also assisted the Department of State to develop rural and war-torn areas, which included involvement in the construction of schools and roads.
Snapshot | “Many people in Afghanistan, at least where I was in 2010, lived in mud huts. They’re good at building these structures, but it’s a lifestyle that we as Americans don’t think is possible. Many people there don’t have electricity. They’ve got no sewage, no plumbing. Very
different from the world that we live in. But that’s their life and that’s just how they live. It’s not bad or worse than ours, just different.”
A Good Sport | “I’m a huge fan of sports and have been my whole life. When I was deployed, Xavier basketball was my connection home. I would have a bad day in Afghanistan, and if I was lucky enough to have a cable TV, at the end of the day I could pull up a Xavier basketball game. It’s something that was and still is important to me.”
There’s No Place Like Home | “During one deployment I was the commander of a squadron of just under 1,000 soldiers. My school spirit must have rubbed off on them at some point, because many became fans of Xavier basketball. Whenever I visit Cincinnati, I pick up some Skyline Chili and buy Xavier garb for them. They love it.”
Lt. Col. Paul Fellinger Sr.
Bachelor of Arts in history, 1967
Blue Bloods | Four generations of Fellinger freshmen have now passed through Xavier’s doors—Raymond Fellinger, an English student who went on to become Xavier’s registrar; Paul Sr., a history major; Paul Jr., an international communications graduate; and Hannah, a current theology student.
Xavier Roots | “I remember when I was little and would go to the basketball games in Schmidt Fieldhouse with my dad. The building only held like 3,000 people, but it was a fun place to be during a game. The students would line the floor on temporary benches, and we would stomp on it and drive the place crazy.”
Service | When Fellinger Sr. started college, Xavier was still a field-artillery school that required all incoming students to join the ROTC program for at least two years. For his junior and senior years, Fellinger decided to stay enrolled in the program. Upon graduation, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant into the U.S. Army and soon after was sent to Vietnam. After returning from his tour in Vietnam, he accepted an assignment in Germany—where his wife and children joined him.
Found in Translation | “Coming back to Cincinnati after living in Germany, you gain an appreciation for traditions from other cultures. For example, people in Cincinnati often say ‘Please?’ instead of ‘I didn’t hear you.’ That’s a total German thing. When German-speakers can’t hear what you’ve said they respond by saying ‘Bitta?’ which is the German word for please.”
Military School | Fellinger Sr. moved to Philadelphia to earn his master’s degree while simultaneously teaching for Widener University’s ROTC program. “The course I taught was called Ethics in Military Environments, and most of what I taught had to do with leadership. The class showed the theory of leadership, and I actually made the students make decisions. It might be as simple as marching a group of people, but they figured out how to navigate a group of men by practicing.“
Boot Camp Advice | “Before they enlisted, I told my two sons that, one, the officers aren’t intentionally trying to kill you, and, two, if the person to your right can keep going, and if the person to your left can keep going, then you can keep going, too.”
Soldiering On | Fellinger Sr. retired this spring from his second career as an administrator at Shriver Co., a tax firm based in Cincinnati. “I’m enjoying retirement and staying busy. My wife and I still have friends in Germany, and my son (see Paul Jr.’s profile on page 43) just moved to California. So I’m sure we’ll be doing some traveling.”
Somewhere among the core curriculum classes, midterm papers, lab reports and final essays, Xavier alums learned how to write. And at least some take that knowledge and apply it to the world of books. The following are some of the samples of recent books published by Xavier alumni:
Cup of Glitter By Sherry K. Brubaker Sherry K. Brubaker, who earned her Master of Education at Xavier, is now the human resource director for the Children’s Home of Cincinnati, but she’s not done teaching. Her children’s book, A Cup of Glitter, is a 2011 Award Winning International Book Awards Finalist, which honors knowledge, creativity, wisdom and global cooperation through the written word. A Cup of Glitter is the story of Dart and Glitter, who are stuck in a strange and unpredictable world and are trying to get back home with help from some new friends. There is a fairy song, including music and lyrics, and a Where’s Waldo-style seek-and-find. A Cup of Glitter is geared for children ages 2-8. The book is available at Amazon, Barnes& Noble and Createspace.
Being Better Than You Believe: 8 Steps to Ultimate Success
By Philip A. Berry
After earning his MBA at Xavier, Philip A. Berry took some of the knowledge from his leadership classes and combined it with a little psychology, a little philosophy and a little practicality to create Being Better Than You Believe: 8 Steps to Ultimate Success. The book identifies specific ways for individuals and organizations to raise performance levels and make them more capable and effective. Berry promotes a change of self-perception because changes in behavior and performance can only come from a change of the heart and mind. Every chapter ends with “thought stimulators” that guide the reader and prompt action. Being Better Than You Believe is a philosophical book that has practical applications. Whether you have a company that is trying to increase productivity or effectiveness, or you are just looking for a job, this book helps create the initiative needed. Being Better Than You Believe: 8 Steps to Ultimate Success is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Brown County By Greg Haitz
Greg Haitz earned his MA in American history at Xavier and is co-author with Lisa Haitz of Brown County, one of many installments in the Images of America series. Brown County tells the history of the rural county in southern Ohio, beginning with small towns started along the Ohio River by people drifting down the river on rafts. Haitz takes his readers on a journey from the county’s early beginnings to the present. He reveals Brown County as a hub for the Underground Railroad and the home of many famous figures including Ulysses S. Grant, Col. Charles Young, the third African American to graduate from West Point, and Rosie Riles, better known as “Aunt Jemima.” Brown County is sold on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Startup: The Complete Handbook for Launching a Company for Less By Elizabeth Edwards
Elizabeth Edward teaches entrepreneurial finance at Xavier, and in Startup: The Complete Handbook for Launching a Company for Less she provides proven strategies for inspiring entrepreneurs to start their businesses with a budget. Startupcovers everything needed for a new business, from finances to advertising to business law. Edwards draws from her experience and outlines more than $100,000 in savings with do-it-yourself guides and finance strategies. The book discusses business, finance and marketing in ways that everyone can understand. It has been described as a must buy for beginning entrepreneurs. Startup is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Connecting Across Cultures: Global Education in Grades K-8
By Bob Herring and Mary Ann Buchino
Bob Herring earned his bachelor’s degree at Xavier in 1973 and also a Master of Education. He has been the principal of Nativity School in Cincinnati since 1984 and is the recipient of numerous educational awards. Mary Ann Buchino is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati, where she earned her master’s in school psychology and a doctorate in special education. She’s taught at Nativity School for the past 23 years. In Connecting Across Cultures, Herring and Buchino provide educators with proven and practical ways to modify their curriculum to prepare students for the globalized world. Connecting Across Cultures changes what happens in the classroom so students can increase their understanding and challenge attitudes and assumptions they have about other cultures, nations and traditions. Connecting Across Cultures can be purchased at Amazon,Barnes & Noble and Walmart.
King of Clubs: The Great Golf Marathon of 1938
By Jim Ducibella
Jim Ducibella, a 1974 graduate with a bachelor’s in communication arts, has worked as a sports writer for the Virginian-Pilot and was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in April 2010. He currently works as a web writer for the College of William & Mary and is a regular contributor to various magazines including The Virginian Golfer, Pro Football Weekly andSports Illustrated. His book, King of Clubs, follows the true story of a challenge between J. Smith Ferebee and Fred Tuerk, two Chicago stockbrokers during the Depression. The challenge: Ferebee has to play 600 holes of golf in eight cities, from Los Angeles to New York, in four days. If he succeeds, then Tuerk will pay the $30,000 mortgage on Ferebee’s 296 acres of waterfront Virginia land. The challenge caught the attention of brokers and gamblers alike, and the bets accumulated to an estimated $100,000, or well over $1 million in today’s dollars. Ferebee faced many obstacles, including playing with a knee injury and a gambler’s sabotage attempt, during the golf challenge. Ducibella keeps readers enthralled from the opening drive to the final hole in this entertaining book. King of Clubs can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Potomac Books.
Uniting the Tribes: The Rise and Fall of Pan-Indian Communities on the Crow Reservation By Frank Rzeczkowski Frank Rzeczkowski is a visiting professor of history and has recently released Uniting the Tribes: The Rise and Fall of Pan-Indian Communities on the Crow Reservation. Rzeczkowski argues that Native American tribalism on the Northern Plains allowed them to undermine the goals of the reservations, which were to prevent contact and communication between various tribes. Tribalism brought Indians of diverse origins together and helped create a collective “Indian” identity. Rzeczkowski shifts from the traditional view, held in the cities and boarding schools, to the reservations themselves through letters, oral histories and official documents to examine Indian communities on the Northern Plains from 1800 to 1925. Focusing on the Crow, he reveals the intricate connections linking them to neighboring peoples and examines how their understanding of themselves and each other is reshaped by the steady advance of American colonialism. Uniting the Tribes can be purchased at Amazonand at Barnes & Noble.
Maid of Secrets By Jenn Stark (writing as Jennifer McGowan) Jenn Stark is a 1991 Xavier graduate. Her debut novel, Maid of Secrets, the first installment in a five-part series, will be released in spring 2013. The series is a historical fiction for young adults about five teenage girls in Queen Elizabeth I’s court whose job is to protect the queen. The first book introduces the thief, Meg, who is forced to join this band of spies. She must solve a murder and save the crown. Secrets and danger lie around every corner, but so too does unexpected love. Stark’s manuscript has been named as a finalist in the Young Adult Romance category of the 2011 Golden Heart awards from the Romance Writers of America. The RWA’s Golden Heart Award recognizes excellence in unpublished romance fiction manuscripts. For the latest details about the Maid of Honor series, visit www.jennifermcgowan.com.
Women Are Defective Males By Gail Holtmeier (writing as Grace Walker) When Gail Holtmeier was earning her master’s degree in theology in the early 2000s, she began compiling a notebook stuffed with religious documents and historical information about how women have been and are currently treated in the Catholic Church. Those graduate notes became the springboard for Holtmeier’s saucy book, Women Are Defective Males: The Calculated Denigration of Women by the Catholic Church and Its Disastrous Consequences Today. Writing under the pseudonym Grace Walker, Holtmeier relentlessly tackles issues such as the lack of female leadership in the Church as well as sexual abuse topics—Holtmeier herself was recently a presenter at the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests in Washington, D.C. Starting with Mary Magdalene, she tracks what she calls a conspiracy and an “an organized protocol” to push down women. The title of the book is a riff off a quote attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas, and the tone of the text contains similarly challenging thoughts. The book is available at Amazon.com or at www.womenaredefectivemales.com.
Pat Nixon: Embattled First Lady By Mary C. Brennan
Mary Brennan (’82 BA, ’83 MA) is a former history instructor at Xavier who now teaches at Texas State University. In Pat Nixon, she tackles the life of a first lady whom many admired, but few—it seems—really knew. Touted as the first bio of Thelma Ryan Nixon to draw upon her private papers, Pat Nixon breaks the mold of “Plastic Pat” to profile her activism (she was the first presidential spouse to serve as an official government representative to foreign nations, as well as the first to visit a military combat zone). While stereotyped as a compliant housewife, Nixon actually worked outside the home for most of her life (as pharmacy manager, hospital X-ray technician and as an “extra” in the 1930s film industry), all this while raising two daughters. Nixon weathered Watergate and bridged two epochs: The era of the homemaker and the rise of the feminists. A quiet ERA supporter, Pat famously lobbied husband Richard to appoint a female Supreme Court justice, then gave him the silent treatment when he failed to do so. Check out the book’s catalog entry, www.kansaspress.ku.edu/brepat.html, as well as Amazon.com.
Virginia Bakery Remembered By Thom Thie and Cynthia Beischel Cynthia Beischel (’74 MED) has always been a loyal patron of the Virginia Bakery, a Cincinnati institution. So little wonder Beischel is now truffling with our affections (or is it confections?), spooning up a cookbook laden with vintage press clippings and tastefully stocked with memorable recipes. The Virginia Bakery, a legendary culinary stop located mere blocks from the Xavier campus on nearby Ludlow Avenue in Clifton, first opened in 1927. Four generations of the Thie family have since presided over the outlet’s savory ovens, producing delectable apple ravioli and to-die-for butterscotch gems. Sadly, the landmark closed its doors in 2005, but this memorable memory book is chock-full of recipes you can recreate in your own kitchen. The book is available at Target or www.virginiabakeryremembered.com.
Thea’s Song: The Life of Thea Bowman By Charlene Smith and John Feister Writer John Feister (’83 MA), a director of periodicals at St. Anthony Messenger Press in Cincinnati, has joined with Franciscan Sister Charlene Smith to paint a portrait of Thea Bowman, the inspirational African-American nun who grew up in racially charged Mississippi, converted to Catholicism at age 10 and later joined a convent of white Catholic sisters in Wisconsin. As an early heroine of the Civil Rights era, Bowman battled prejudice all her life—as an educator, speaker and gospel singer—before losing a struggle with cancer at age 52. The book is available at Amazon.com or www.orbisbooks.com.
The Marriage of Silence and Sin By Jacqueline M. Lyon You’ll forgive Jacqueline Lyon if she sets her first thriller novel, The Marriage of Silence and Sin, at “a small Midwestern college.” After all, Lyon teaches literature survey and writing courses at Xavier, where she earned her master’s in education in 2002. Lyon’s protagonists, English prof Dicey Carmichael and attorney Gale Knightly, are two women investigating the alleged suicide of their troubled best friend, Elle. The two sleuths turn to Elle’s artwork to dredge up clues to the artist’s traumatic past and death at the hands of a diabolical killer. The book recently received a silver medal from the Independent Publisher Book Awards in the mystery/suspense/thriller category. Learn more at www.jacquelinelyon.com. The book is available at Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Amazon.com and select Kroger groceries.
Apollo, Augustus and the Poets By John F. Miller A professor of classics at the University of Virginia, John Miller (’72 HBA) took a decade to research and write Apollo, Augustus and the Poets. After traveling extensively through Greece and Italy, Miller has pieced together a “very important but insufficiently understood moment in the history of ancient Roman culture.” His text interweaves how Apollo, long a central deity in Greece, became a major god in Roman religion thanks to the efforts and patronage of the first emperor of Rome, Augustus. Using fresh evidence from archaeological digs as well as numismatic, epigraphical and artistic sources, Miller details how poets of the age, such as Horace, Ovid and Virgil, contributed to the creation of this imperial icon. Published by Cambridge University Press, it’s available at www.cambridge.org or Amazon.com.
A Long Farewell By John Hagan
Author John Hagan, a 1972 MEd graduate and composition instructor at the University of Dayton, explores a range of topics in his new collection of stories, A Long Farewell. From coming-of-age issues to lost loves, Hagan’s voice and narrative is born of the Midwest. His fiction incorporates humor, romance and poignancy. Published by Goose River Press, it’s available at Barnes & Noble and at www.gooseriverpress.com.
How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack
By Chuck Sambuchino
Chuck Sambuchino is a 2003 graduate who is now an editor at F&W Media in Cincinnati. His initial venture into the publishing world (at least outside of what he does for his day job) is How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack, a humor book on tiny, annoying, ceramic figurines that people place in their gardens. He bills it as “the only comprehensive survival guide that will help you prevent, prepare for, and ward off an imminent home invasion by the common garden gnome.” It’s published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House. Check out the book’s website, its catalog entry and an article on AOLnews.com.
Reclaiming Catholicism: Treasures Old and New
By Mike Daley and Thomas Gromme
Michael J. Daley graduated from Xavier in 1991 with a degree in theology and now teaches religion at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati as well as serving as an adjunct professor of theology at the University. He teamed with Thomas Groome, a senior professor of theology at Boston College who also serves as the chair if its Institute of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry, to edit Reclaiming Catholicism: Treasures Old and New, a compilation of essays from “a who’s who of theologians and spiritual writers” who assess whether reclaiming spiritual wisdom from the pre-Vatican II days can enrich the faith loves of Catholics today. Among those writing for the book is Bill Madges, former chair of Xavier’s Department of Theology. Madges and Daley previously worked together on the books Vatican II: Forty Personal Stories and The Many Marks of the Church. Daley’s a veteran of publishing, also writing In All Things: Everyday Prayers of Jesuit High School Students; Catholic Questions, Wise Answer; Catholic Symbols: Our Rich Spiritual Heritage; and Who Do Catholics…? Teens Respond to Questions About the Faith. Check out the review in the National Catholic Reporter. The book can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the Maryknoll Society and Christianbook.com.
Shouting Down the Silence: A Biography of Stanley Elkin By David Dougherty For 40 years, David Dougherty taught English at Loyola University Maryland before retiring this year as professor emeritus. During that time he no doubt introduced countless students to the critically acclaimed but popularly unpopular author Stanley Elkin. Now, he’s introducing the rest of us to Elkin through Shouting Down the Silence: A Biography of Stanley Elkin. The book is the first complete biography of Elkin who died in 1995. “Although materially and professionally successful by middle-class measures, even by standards for university faculty, Elkin felt that he never received the recognition and awards his art deserved,” writes Dougherty. “From the 1970s forward, he often expressed regret about, and occasionally even resentment of, his lack of popularity with general readers.” Dougherty, who earned his master’s degree from Xavier in 1966, also edited two casebooks on Elkin’s novels. Shouting Down the Silence can be found at Amazon and through the University of Illinois Press.
A Calendar Year of Horticultural Therapy: How Tending Your Garden Can Tend to Your Soul
By Janice Hoetker Doherty and So Many Hugs
By Deanna Hurtubise Rarely does one find sisters who are both authors. Even rarer are sisters who both produce books by the same publisher at the same time. But such is the case with Janice Hoetker Doherty and Deanna Hurtubise. The Edgecliff College graduates—Janice in biology in 1962 and Deanna in French in 1966—recently published books through Lilyflower Publishing. Janice retired as a microbiologist from Cincinnati’s Christ Hospital and headed straight for the garden, where she became an Ohio Master Gardener and found the health-related benefits so strong she started her own company, Growing Healthy Inc. She’s now put that knowledge to paper with A Calendar Year of Horticultural Therapy: How Tending Your Garden Can Tend to Your Soul, which offers more than 60 projects that can be used as hands-on therapy sessions. Deanna is a former high school psychology and French teacher who began writing stories, songs and poetry for her three children when they were young. Today she writes for her eight grandchildren, hoping to capture their innocent and uncomplicated views of the world through verse with So Many Hugs, a children’s book in rhyming verse that shows the power of a simple hug. Brief biographies of the sisters are on the Lilyflower Publishing website where copies of the books can be purchased. Janice’s book can be found at Amazon and Deanna’s book can also be found on Amazon.
Lt. Gen. Charles G. “Chick” Cleveland
Master of Arts in history, 1966
An Ace 50 Years in the Making | Before Top Gun, there was Lt. Gen. Charles G. “Chick” Cleveland. And unlike today’s era of unmanned predator drones, Cleveland was at the controls during the dawn of the jet age, engaged in aerial dogfights over the infamous “MIG Alley” during the Korean War. His designation of “ace” was not made official for more than 50 years, but thanks to a lifelong friend and a little help from the Soviet Union, Cleveland’s place among the flying stars was eventually assured. His biography, Once a Fighter Pilot, was published in 2012.
West Point | “When I graduated from West Point in 1949, there was no Air Force Academy, so 20 percent of the graduates went into the Air Force. And I was lucky enough to be in that group. I still remember my first jet flight. The instructor said, ‘On takeoff, keep your hands off the stick and just enjoy.’ We raced off into the Arizona afternoon and it was an exhilarating feeling.”
Korea | ”When I left Korea, I had four confirmed victories, two probables and four damaged. It took five confirmed victories to become an ace in the Korean War. But I didn’t get that fifth victory confirmed because my wingman had been killed, so he couldn’t give his statement.”
The Dogfight | “I hit him hard from close range, and he went into a vertical dive into the roll cloud of a towering thunderstorm. MiGs just didn’t do that. I couldn’t follow him and I didn’t see him bail out, explode or crash, which is necessary for a confirmed kill, but I know he never got out of that thing alive.”
Ace Delayed | “One of those two ‘probably destroyed’ was confirmed as a kill some 56 years later, with new evidence from Russian records. A friend of mine, Dolphin D. Overton, discovered the records in the National Archives. Of course they were in Russian and had to be translated.”
Xavier Connection | “When I came back stateside I was assigned to Wright Patterson Air Force Base and took classes, commuting to Xavier.”
Vietnam | “I was Gen. Westmorland’s executive assistant for a year. That was the toughest year I spent in the service. Vietnam was a different war. All wars are terrible, but if you want to survive, you’ve got to fight ‘em and win ‘em.”
The Pentagon | “I served in the Pentagon from 1975-1979. My last assignment was as commander of Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala., home for all professional education for the Air Force.”
Retirement | “We retired in Alabama, and I was the director of the Montgomery-area United Way. I did that for seven years, and think I did the community some good. I have three volunteer jobs now—one is the president of Say No, an anti-drug coalition, the second is the president of the American Fighter Aces Association and the third is the Alabama World Affairs Council.”
With the shortage of nurses in America, there seems to be a growing number of places that offer nursing education. Sure, those kinds of places can train people how to take blood pressure and draw blood, but there’s more to being a good nurse than the technical skills. That’s why Xavier’s nursing program takes a holistic approach to its curriculum. In Ignatian terms, they teach students how to care for the whole person in addition to their immediate medical needs. It’s a different approach, and it pays off. And in some cases, it literally pays off.
Earlier this year, the University’s development office opened an envelope from the Millner Family Foundation near Chicago. Inside was a check for $1,000 and a note directing it to be used for the nursing program. It seems a member of the Millner family gave birth to triplets after just 30 weeks, and one of the primary nurses in the neonatal intensive care unit at Prentice Women’s Hospital was Jennifer (Brewer) Bartels, a 2003 cum laude nursing graduate.
“She is truly a testament to Xavier University and the nursing profession,” the note accompanying the check read. “I hope this small donation can help educate other nurses, who can provide the comfort and care Jenny did for us.”
Five days after Hurricane Sandy slammed ashore along the New Jersey and New York coastlines, Fred Sansone got a phone call from the American Red Cross. Sansone, who is director of gift and estate planning, is a regular volunteer for the disaster agency. It’s his way of giving back to the community, the same way that he asks donors to give back to Xavier.
“You can always do more than just donate money,” Sansone says. “We all have time, talent and treasures we can give to help those in need.”
Once again, the Red Cross was asking Sansone to do just that. Within 24 hours of the call, Sansone was on a plane heading toward the stricken area, landing in New Jersey on Sunday, Nov. 4. He remembers how eerie it was driving on the interstate.
“I flew into Philadelphia and grabbed a rental car,” he says, “and when I got on the highway, it was empty. I was the only car.”
He headed to North Brunswick where the Red Cross had converted a three-story office building into a central staging area for all the support it needed to supply to the vast numbers of communities devastated by the storm. He joined more than 250 volunteers already busy in their offices and helped out for several hours coordinating the delivery of meal trucks for that night’s dinner.
At 7:30 a.m. the next day, he was back, crammed inside a room at the headquarters, standing shoulder to shoulder with the other volunteers. Every day began with a briefing by a Red Cross representative standing on a stepladder speaking through a megaphone.
Sansone was assigned to logistics. His job was to manage the vehicles used in the relief effort to deliver supplies and food. He had to make sure there were enough trucks to pick up supplies from warehouses and enough cars for the volunteers to get to their work sites in the different communities, and to make sure nothing was lost during transitions. He managed fleets of trucks, automobiles and emergency mass care feeding vehicles that were being dispatched to locations in need of food for displaced residents.
He spent most of his time in the headquarters where he had access to phones and computers. But once he went into the field as he was tracking down trucks and tractor-trailers that were moving supplies.
“I spent a short time in a massive warehouse where thousands of meals, blankets, baby supplies, clean up kits, etc. were pouring in from all over the country,” he says. “There I worked with other Red Cross volunteers as they were fulfilling field supply demands. My job was to assist the field operations with supplies and support. They were the direct providers to the public.”
Logistics proved to be a good job for Sansone. He’d had a similar job when he volunteered the previous year after Hurricane Irene hit New England. He remembers how one job became a nightmare. A pallet of water that was five feet by eight feet was too big to be moved by themselves. So he called around looking for a forklift. No luck. All of them were already being used. Upon hearing “no” one last time, he asked the company where they bought their forklifts. Finally, he had some luck. He called that supplier, and a forklift was on its way.
“I remember going to get lunch after that call, and while I was eating I saw a truck go by towing a forklift behind it,” he says.
Over the course of nine days after Sandy, Sansone helped the Red Cross serve more than 1 million people affected by the storm. He said it was very sad to see the destruction it caused.
“I did not see much except there were vast areas that were without power as I drove to my overnight quarters,” he says. “Trees were down all over. Thousands around me were affected by electrical disruption and widespread power outages. I spent only a few nights in accommodations with no heat and power. Many thousands of others were not so fortunate.”
Sansone had offered up three weeks of his vacation time to help with the relief effort, but he returned early, glad to have been able to help at all. Sansone humbly lives out the Jesuit mission of striving to be men and women for others through his work with the Red Cross, and he encourages others to do the same.
“We don’t need to go far to help,” Sansone said. “Many here at Xavier help right here in the Cincinnati area. I’m no different than the person down the hall.”
The image of an exploding Ford Pinto was cemented into the fertile brain of Jamie Schade by an ethics professor whose name has escaped Schade’s memory. But the image and the corresponding message about the irreversible consequences of a corporate decision that favored saving money over saving lives have not. And, Schade says, that has made all the difference in his life.
In 2006, Schade was a middle-markets manager at Merrill Lynch, and he kept noticing unusual transactions involving people in the financial services industry—even within his own company. They didn’t seem right. They were talking dollar signs. He kept seeing the burning Pinto.
“Our team came to the crossroads of either joining the party and selling commission-loaded bonds or going the other direction,” Schade says. “Xavier taught me the ethical decision was to go the opposite direction, so I’m one of the few in the firm who never got involved in the toxic bond stuff that ended the careers of a number of people.”
Schade, a 1996 finance graduate, survived the financial crisis that led to failures of the largest investment banks including Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns and the near collapse of the American financial system. But it wasn’t easy. Or fun.
In 2006, in the Dayton offices of Merrill Lynch where Schade’s team managed their clients’ investment portfolios, he was seeing behavior industry-wide he’d never seen before, and it worried him. He saw financial advisors making risky investment decisions with their clients’ money that earned them huge commissions. He saw new mortgage programs with lots of unusual fees and bond trading that netted large commissions buried deep inside.
“They were doing things for their own desires and not in the best interests of their clients,” he says. “There were rating agencies that wanted to give a safe rating to bonds that were unsafe so they could get the fees, and brokers that wanted to sell safe bonds that weren’t safe so they could get more commissions.
“Whether it’s the firm or the mortgage underwriter or the greedy insurance company or bank, everybody at one point or another allowed greed to look in the opposite direction of ethics and that’s what brought on this crisis. There was a personal decision at almost every level all the way through.
“We made the opposite choice. I remember coming into my chairman’s office and saying there are excessive commissions in these bonds, and we’re never going to do a trade in this product, whereas nearly every other person in the marketplace industry-wide were buying these bonds.”
He was scolded for not participating, but he stuck to his principles and when the dust settled, he and everyone on his team were still employed while others were losing their jobs.
“Not us. We were loyal to our clients and they to us.”
Those few years were lonely for Schade as he stood by his ethical decision. But he was buoyed by memories of the class on ethics and the case of the Ford Pinto. The car’s defective gas tank would explode if struck from behind, but Ford decided it was cheaper not to fix the tanks—even if it meant some people would die as a result.
“That really affected me,” he says. “I’m sitting in that class wondering if any of that is going to have an effect on my career. Not only did it impact it, it saved my career. I tie it all back to ethics. The decisions we made [at Merrill Lynch] before it got bad were made because of the ethics class. The message was that you have to have the courage and the confidence to make unpopular decisions at times.”
Schade, now a senior vice president and financial advisor at Merrill Lynch, shares his experiences at Xavier, He’s served on the President’s Advisory Council for about 10 years and speaks to students in the Williams College of Business about his industry and his experience.
“I’m willing to discuss it because it is ethically the right thing to do,” he says. “I want people to understand what happened so we don’t have it happen again.”
He also contributes to his family’s scholarship so others can attend Xavier and learn the same lessons he learned.
“Because I went to Xavier, I feel like I’ve had a lifetime of rewards for the education they provided me, and I want that exact same thing for others,” he says, “and I can do that with the scholarship fund. I will do everything I can to support the University for the rest of my life.”