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Los Locos Spreads Spirit at Spring Training

Before the Dons’ baseball team took on Pacific last Friday, Los Locos, USF’s student spirit organization, held their annual Spring Training event next to Gillson Residence Hall. Although they call it Spring Training, it is less a rigorous training session and more a festive, social get-together – a place where students can eat and ramp up their school spirit before going to the baseball game as a group.

At 2 p.m., an hour before the game began, Los Locos set up an array of games and a table filled with hot dogs, lemonade, and other foods and beverages. Last year’s Spring Training featured tie-dye t-shirts, but this year Los Locos focused on providing more interactive games for students and USF fans. Pitching, hitting, and golfing activities all added to the fun at Spring Training, as students were able to test their baseball skills before cheering on the Dons at Benedetti Diamond.

Bradley Zimmer makes contact with the baseball in Sunday’s 12-9 setback against Pacific. The Dons’ preseason All-American led the team with four hits in six at-bats. Courtesy of Emily Bogden.

Baseball: Giarratano Gets Walk-Off Single, But Dons Lose Series with Pacific

The Dons had an opportunity to move up in the competitive West Coast Conference (WCC) over the weekend, but they let two crucial games against Pacific slip away, losing their three-game series with the Tigers and falling to eighth in the WCC in the process.

On Sunday the Dons (16-18, 6-9 WCC) lost to Pacific 12-9 in an offensive battle that saw a combined 35 hits from the two teams. Freshman right-hander Grant Goodman had a rough day on the mound as USF’s starting pitcher, giving up six runs in just four innings.

The Tigers went up quickly in the first inning, and stretched their lead to 5-0 in the third. The Dons clawed back in their half of the third, however, batting in three runs on four hits and a walk. Freshman second baseman Matt Sinatro kicked off the inning with a base on balls, and freshman shortstop Nico Giarratano, junior right-fielder Derek Atkinson, and senior designated hitter Zach Turner all delivered RBI singles for the Dons.

The game remained within the Dons’ reach throughout the middle innings, but it was in the eighth that things started to unravel. Pacific started the inning with a single from Tyler Sullivan, who scored on a sacrifice fly. RBI doubles by Gio Brusa and Erik Lockwood gave Pacific even more breathing room, and the Tigers ended the inning with an 11-4 lead.

Despite the dire circumstances, the Dons still had some life left in them. In the bottom of the ninth, USF began the inning with five straight hits, the last of them being a Sinatro double that brought home freshman pinch runner Sawyer Gieseke. Later, the Dons had the tying run at the plate with just one out and the score at 12-9, but Giarratano struck out and Atkinson’s groundball ended the game.

Center fielder Bradley Zimmer tallied four hits and two RBI’s for the Dons, and Sinatro also pitched in with three hits and two runs scored. Goodman took the loss to bring his record to 2-3 on the year.

A day earlier, the Dons escaped with a 3-2 victory that came courtesy of a walk-off single from Giarratano in the eleventh inning. Junior left-hander Christian Cecilio pitched 7.2 strong innings for San Francisco, and redshirt senior Houston Hibberd got the win to improve to 4-1 for the season.

Neither team scored until the fourth inning, when Pacific got on the board to lead 1-0. The Dons responded in the sixth, with junior catcher Justin McCullough’s RBI single tying the contest at 1-1. USF gave up a run in the top of tenth, but stayed alive in the bottom of the inning thanks to Giarratano, who scored on a wild pitch to set up his dramatic game-winning single in the following inning.

“Our back was against the wall today,” head coach Nico Giarratano told usfdons.com. “We needed to win.”

In Friday’s series opener, the Dons took a 6-3 lead but couldn’t hang on, eventually falling 11-7. Redshirt senior right-hander Abe Bobb surrendered three runs in 4.1 innings, and senior relief pitchers Jesse DeLong and Ben Graff struggled in their backup roles.

Zimmer had the crowd roaring in the first inning with a spectacular diving catch that robbed Pacific’s John Haberman of an extra-base hit. USF was down 3-2 in the game’s early innings, but exploded for four runs in the fifth. Giarratano started the action with his first ever collegiate home run, junior first baseman Brendan Hendriks hit another solo shot just three batters later, and sophomore second baseman Michael Eaton’s two-out, two-RBI double gave USF a three-run advantage. The Tigers scored a whopping eight runs in the next two innings, though, including five runs in the seventh. The Dons mustered a run in the ninth, but it was not nearly enough to bring them back from the deficit.

Eaton led the Dons with four RBI’s on the afternoon. Despite his highlight-reel catch, Zimmer went 0-5 to end his nation-leading hitting streak at 19 games.

The result of USF’s home matchup with Nevada on Tuesday, April 15 was not available at press time. With the series loss to the Tigers, the Dons are two games behind fourth-place Gonzaga, who they will have to catch if they hope to make the upcoming WCC tournament. USF will look to get back to its winning ways when they visit first-place Pepperdine for a three-game series from Thursday, April 17 to Friday, April 19.

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NLRB Decision Sparks Student Athlete Union Debate

 

The NCAA has long denied college athletes the right to be viewed as employees, but as of late, a change in the system is looking more and more likely.

On March 27 in Chicago, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that football players at Northwestern University can legally form a union. The ruling, which came in response to a petition created by ex-Northwestern football player Kain Colter along with the College Athletes Players Association (CAPA), also described the athletes on Northwestern’s football team as “employees.” This was a surprising decision that placed the power to make history in the hands of the Northwestern players, who can now form the first ever student athlete union in college sports.

The NCAA voiced its disapproval of the decision, as did Northwestern. At press time, Northwestern had yet to request a review of the ruling, but the private Illinois university has made clear that it intends to issue an appeal. Many fear that this will take the ruling all the way to the Supreme Court, and will greatly postpone any resolution. In the meantime, Northwestern football players may form a union as soon as April 25, when the athletes will vote for or against unionizing under CAPA.

In the wake of the NLRB’s verdict, opinions have been divided as to whether or not student athletes should be seen as workers who can be part of a labor union. A common argument is that athletes dedicate the same amount of hours to their sport as employees do to their occupation, and also that they deserve better medical coverage and more in-depth injury testing, which a union could help secure. Moreover, USF legal studies professor Robert Elias points out that student athletes should to be rewarded for serving as a means of revenue for their wealthy bosses, their schools, and the NCAA.

“These employees are not paid for any of the income they generate, and they also have no other benefits that employees would normally be able to secure for themselves, especially if they were to unionize,” Elias said. “If the initial NLRB decision holds up, then it means that college athletes will have a basis for getting some piece of that enormous income, in exchange for their labors.”

In contrast, there are many reasons to believe that labor unions are unnecessary for college athletes. Some argue that since players already receive many benefits from their schools, such as guaranteed housing and scholarships, they should not be paid for their efforts. Others acknowledge that there may be problems with the treatment of college athletes, but that they should be solved by the team itself, instead of enabling unions and potentially reforming the NCAA’s system. Northwestern’s head football coach, Pat Fitzgerald, sees this method as the best possible solution.

“All this can be handled with communication. It’s about trust,” Fitzgerald told the press on Saturday. “I just do not believe we need a third party between our players and our coaches, staff, and administrators…whatever they need, we will get them.”

Despite the clashing opinions that have arisen from the aftermath of the NLRB ruling, some have attempted to find a middle ground. Larry Scott, the commissioner of the Pac-12 conference, is open to an alteration in how the NCAA currently functions, but does not feel that student athletes should receive salaries.

“We absolutely should do more and I’m going to continue to push for us to do more,” Scott said in an interview with ESPN.com. “It just can’t cross that line of starting to get paid a salary or negotiating through collective bargaining. That’s a pro model, completely different.”

While it is clear that disagreement is abound and that many are hesitant to accept student athletes as employees, the reality is that by allowing Northwestern football players to unionize, the NLRB pushed us a step closer to a world where college athletes are paid to do what they do. Since the March 27 decision, multiple players from other schools have shown interest in unionizing, according to United Steelworkers member Tim Waters. If the Northwestern players do indeed vote to become a union on April 25, intrigue from players at other universities will surely increase.

The historic decision also has implications for USF and other private universities. Since the NLRB’s rulings can only cover private schools, it would be much more difficult for unionizing to be made possible at public universities, but it is conceivable that another private school could follow in Northwestern’s footsteps in the near future.

Sophomore business finance major Kenneth Lapuz is unenthusiastic about the prospect of student athletes being paid at USF.

“Going to a school where athletes are paid or are part of a union would be somewhat disastrous,” Lapuz said. “The student athletes will express no admiration for their institution whatsoever. They will merely be paid to receive an education and to play on an athletic team, not to mention the amount of power they possess since they are unionized.”

 

 

Bay Area teams such as Feel Projection, the Hungry Bumz, and Live SF joined VarCity on the dance floor. (Photo Courtesy of Margret Valdes)

VarCity Puts on Sizzling Show at Homecoming Showcase

Excited crowd members filled the seats in the Education Building’s Presentation Theater around 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 22, but the buzz they created was nothing compared to the energy that was about to be unleashed. The eruption came about 30 minutes later, when the VarCity SF dancers found their spots and ignited a flurry of music and movement. As Sean Paul’s “Get Busy” blared through the speakers to kick off the Homecoming Hip-Hop Dance Showcase on an upbeat note, USF’s official hip-hop dance club effortlessly eased into its rhythmic zone.

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Dons to Switch Name to Pink Fairy Armadillos

Goodbye Dons. Hello Pink Fairy Armadillos.

In response to a new system set in place by the West Coast Conference that requires all teams to be named after animals, USF has made the bold decision to represent itself in the form a small, burrowing Argentine mammal. The school’s name, logo, and mascot was approved by the Rev. Stephen A. Privett, S.J. on Sunday, March 23, and the change will be put into effect at the beginning of the 2014-15 academic year.

“I could not think of a better way to end my tenure as president of the University of San Francisco,” Privett said. “This is a day that will be etched in the books of history for years to come.”

Last month, as part of its Animal Awareness Among Athletes campaign, the WCC released an initiative stating that all schools in the conference must have names that are “free of human influence.” All teams with human-centric names were given 30 days to select a new name and design a new logo. On March 20, Portland became the first team to declare a brand new school title, changing from the Pilots to the White-faced Saki Monkeys. This move opened the floodgates for other schools, and by the next day San Diego and Pepperdine had become the Blobfish and the Dumbo Octopi, respectively. The St. Mary’s Gaels were slow to catch on, however, and failed to meet the March 23 deadline, resulting in the termination of their athletic program.

Although the USF soon-to-be Pink Fairy Armadillos will not complete the transition until August of 2014, the campus is already supporting the choice to discard “Dons,” and is brimming with excitement at the prospect of a new school signifier.

“I’ve never really lived the life of a Don,” said a USF student who requested to remain anonymous. “I think my life is much more similar to that of a miniscule, worm-eating creature. I must say I’m proud to be a Pink Fairy Armadillo.”

While students are showing enthusiasm, USF’s Name Selection Committee is taking a much-needed week off after enduring the painstaking process of deciding upon a new title. The committee, headed by Athletic Director Scott Sidwell, spent many sleepless nights in a dark-lit room in War Memorial Gym attempting to settle on the right animal, an experience Sidwell compared to “discovering the meaning of life.”

In the end though, the committee, along with the rest of the school, seems to be happy with the final result.

“The Pink Fairy Armadillo truly embodies everything that our athletics program stands for,” Sidwell said. “It is a very small animal, which characterizes USF’s position as an underdog-type school. Also, the Pink Fairy Armadillo’s strong protective armor is representative of the attitude that these student athletes have. They’re tough as nails, they never give up, and they compete every day.”

Another factor that contributed to the selection of the Pink Fairy Armadillo is the animal’s Argentina location, which will undoubtedly help USF in its quest for cultural diversity.

“I fully expect that this will increase our presence in South America,” Privett said. “There is lots of untapped academic potential in Argentina, and it would be great if we could bring some of that to the Best City Ever.”

According to an unnamed source, a USF advertisement reading “Our Pink Fairy Armadillos Are Better Than Yours” was spotted on the streets of Buenos Aires, Argentina just three hours after the name change was approved.

On top of the cultural incentive, USF also capitalized on a new trend in modern sports. Just last year, the New Orleans Hornets of the NBA became the New Orleans Pelicans, going from a fairly normal insect to an awkward-looking, large-beaked water bird. However, as evidenced by decisions at USF and other WCC schools, this sort of transformation has become quite popular.

“Changing your name to an obscure animal that should never be associated with sports is definitely a cool thing to do right now, so I’m glad we could be a part of that,” USF men’s basketball head coach Rex Walters said on Sunday. “It’s important to move forward as a program, and we definitely did that today.”

Along with the name change, the all-new USF Pink Fairy Armadillo logo has been designed, and the school’s pink and brown uniforms will be unveiled in just 20 days. As the school prepares for this momentous occasion, mascot tryouts were held at Negoesco Stadium on Monday, March 24. However, the tryout session ended unresolved, and was called off when a student fainted from exhaustion after walking on all fours in a pink fairy armadillo costume for two hours. Other students also reported experiences of severe nausea, prompting the athletic program to turn to four-legged creatures as the primary mascot candidates. A tryout consisting of cats, dogs, and several meandering deer found wandering in Golden Gate Park is scheduled for this Saturday.

DISCLAIMER: This piece was printed as part of The Foghorn’s April Fool’s Day issue on April 1st, 2014. This article is intended to be satirical.