Senior sports writer, Doug Powell, takes a look at the Western Carolina Catamounts 2012 football team and how they performed during this past Saturday’s spring game.
UPDATE (April 20, 2012): From WLOS–The Rutherford Co. Sheriff’s Office has made an arrest in the murder of Antonitius “Buddy” Robinson. 26 yr. old Napolean Brian Edgerton was arrested at a residence in Spindale. He’s accused of killing Robinson on April 12th in Forest City during what authorities say was a drug transaction. We’ll have more details as we get them.
Antonitius “Buddy” Robinson died yesterday of gunshot wounds according to the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department. The shooting happened near Robinson’s hometown of Bostic, N.C. early yesterday.
The person who shot Robinson has not yet been identified according to the reports.
Robinson, 21, a junior at Western Carolina, was a former football player for the Catamounts who played in 11 games last season recording 32 tackles.
Robinson was the son of Steve Suber and Mary Cantrell.
Check back here for more updates throughout the day.
Don’t let Ross Heffley’s short stature fool you.
At 5 feet 8 inches tall and 185 pounds he may not intimidate the average person, but his play on the diamond in three seasons for the Western Carolina Catamounts baseball team has been gigantic.
Heffley, a senior infielder for WCU, entered his senior season ranked tops in three major statistical categories in hits, RBIs and doubles. His play up to this point in the season has made him an All-American, but to him it doesn’t mean as much.
“It’s an honor; I’ve worked hard throughout my career. But overall, I don’t put much into it. If we’re not winning games it doesn’t mean a whole lot. It’s only fun when you’re winning,” Heffley said.
Heffley hasn’t always been in the spotlight, however. He grew up in Snellville, Ga. where he attended Brookwood High School. Although he was a good player, he didn’t receive much attention from Division I schools.
“Out of high school I was recruited by Columbus State, a Division II school in Georgia, they have a pretty good history, but I really wanted to play Division I baseball. But I didn’t have any Division I offers,” Heffley said.
“I actually signed and committed to go to South Georgia Junior College, but I talked with the coaches, kind of with the understanding that if I got a Division I offer later in the spring that they would release me,” Heffley said.
He did get that offer and that school was Western Carolina.
“I was waiting around and had a pretty good senior year and nothing really came of it. But then July, after I graduated, the assistant coach here at the time called me up and told me they would like to have me here for a visit,” Heffley said.
That visit was one Heffley remembered fondly and let’s just say he came away impressed.
“I came up I think the next day, loved it and then I committed the day after that. I thought they were going to pull the offer, so I called them before they could change their minds and committed,” Heffley jokingly said.
Heffley stated that the fans were a big part of the decision to come here and appreciated them even more when he got to play in front of the Catamount crowd for the first time his freshman year.
“When tailgating was allowed my freshman year, I don’t think there is anything like that in the country. You have 3,000 people out there for every game against some school they’ve never heard of. It’s a great atmosphere,” Heffley said.
Baseball has taken up a huge portion of Heffley’s life, but he admits that pro scouts have not been visiting him as much as he would like. He does have a backup plan however, as he is majoring in electrical engineering and hopes to find him a job in that field.
“I still have another year of school after this, I feel like that degree gives me a lot of different options. I’m just going to try to find a job in hydroelectric engineering, power engineering or petroleum,” Heffley said.
If baseball does happen to work out for Heffley there is one specific team he would be excited to hear from.
“I’m a big Yankees fan,” Heffley said.
WCU’s Recreation Center basketball courts became a dancing hall on March 10 with people dancing twist, rock-and-roll, and rumba for 12 hours. It was WCU’s first Dance Marathon.
Dance Marathon is a fundraising event that involves thousands of college and high school students across the nation at over 150 schools. It was started in 1991 by students and is growing strong since. Today around 17 million kids per year and 170 hospitals in the Children’s Miracle Network benefit from the money raised with dancing. The Children’s Miracle Network helps make the hospital a more relaxing environment for the patients who go through the children’s hospital. Money raised will also help pay for expensive medications and procedures for the children.
The hosts of the event, WCU’s Office of Leadership, wanted to raise as much money as possible for the Greenville, South Carolina Children’s Hospital part of the Children’s Miracle Network. Mike Corelli, the WCU Associate Director of Leadership, said a benefit dinner and silent auction held on February 18 helped raise money for the event. A 5k on the morning of the event also helped raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network.
Much more than dancing went on during the event. Games were played and face paint booths were occupied to the dancers and children. Live performers donated their time and skill for the event. Several hula-hoops were being hooped and beach balls tossed through the air for the dancers to mix it up and fully enjoy the occasion. Wii game consoles were also set up to encourage dancing, mingling, and just plain fun.
There were five patients from Greenville hospital who were guests of Western’s Office of Leadership.
“All the dancers were broken up into five different groups represented by the color of their shirts and each color represented a different child,” said Tacquice Wiggan, Assistant Director of Leadership.
The yellow and red shirts represented the Hill family because they have two children; the blue shirts represented the Hannah family, the House family by the green, and the Thompson family by the purple.
When all the numbers were tallied up, Western Carolina raised over $8,000 with the help of approximately 200 dancers. Even though the event was a hit, plans are being made to make next year’s Dance Marathon a greater success.
By now, most students of Western Carolina University have heard that Western Carolina was trending during the recent 91-93 loss to Davidson in the final round of the Southern Conference men’s basketball tournament. While this was exciting for students who are a part of the catamount nation, even those who do find themselves well connected in the fast paced world of social media may be left wondering, “What does that mean?”
In order to answer the “what does it mean” question, let us (in true Twitter fashion) boil it down to bare essentials. When users log into a twitter account, they are faced with the essential question, “What’s happening?” During the game, the answer to that question became Western Carolina. The catamount nation managed to put up a fight that that was exciting, fresh and engaging—so much so that we generated a twitter trend.
From Twitter, “Twitter Trends are automatically generated by an algorithm that attempts to identify topics that are being talked about more right now than they were previously. The Trends list is designed to help people discover the ‘most breaking’ breaking news from across the world, in real-time. The Trends list captures the hottest emerging topics, not just what’s most popular. Put another way, Twitter favors novelty over popularity…” Before our brains explode from geek speak, let’s boil this down too; Twitter trends reflect what users have suddenly started tweeting about. So when WCU started draining the 13-point wildcat lead in the last 2:47 seconds of regulation play, people started talking about it and Twitter noticed.
Despite the heartbreaking loss, WCU was still put on the map—arguably more so than its victorious counterpart. With a reported 100 million active monthly users, the twitter trend put WCU on an international stage with exposure that couldn’t be bought. The ‘Western Carolina’ trend was not a national, regional or local trend, but a worldwide trend. Meaning that more people suddenly started talking about Western Carolina than any other issue in the world, at the time.
Western Carolina wasn’t the only topic from Cullowhee trending that night. WCU’s own basketball player, Harouna Mutombo, saw his name (albeit misspelled) also trending on Twitter.
“I had about 165 text messages when I finally got to my phone that night,” Mutombo told his communications class the day after the game.
Some were photos of his name trending, some were telling him Western Carolina was trending, and some were simply saying how he had to make that free throw he was about to take, said Mutombo.
If the world took notice, then surely the students at WCU took notice as well. I asked some of my twitter followers to answer the question, “What did it mean to you that WCU was trending during the SoCon Championship?” Sam McCarson, a WCU senior with the twitter handle, @MamScCarson, said this, “to me it showed that the size of a school does not dictate the heart or support of a school, and that any college sporting event is really about the relationship between the fans and the players.” Heath Brown (@hfbrown1), a WCU junior studying communications said, “it meant that the community even outside the school was helping in full effect and the world was pulling for us. The underdogs.”
A student athlete, who requested not to go on record said, “It was cool. It was nice knowing that many people were watching us play, and supporting us all over the nation. Very humbling.” Another member of the catamount nation (and due to athletics regulations, also wasn’t allowed to go on record) said that although she wasn’t familiar with twitter trends, it was still great knowing that people were watching the game and showing support. Because people don’t really know much about WCU, she said, it opened a lot of eyes and made catamounts everywhere proud to be a part of the turn around that is happening with the new changes throughout the school.
So how will this unplanned visibility play out in the long run? Truth be told, we don’t know; but, past, current and future catamounts can rest assured that even in losing, the catamount nation is still #winning.
Senior All-American second baseman, Ross Heffley went 4-for-4 and freshman first baseman, Jacob Hoyle drove in five RBI as Western Carolina took down Duke on Tuesday night, 12-4 in Cullowhee, N.C.
“This year we have been off to a hot start. The starting pitching has been awesome. It really helps when innings are flowing quick and there is tempo and flow to the game,” Heffley said.
The Blue Devils were plagued by two costly errors to start the game and poor pitching from junior pitcher, Chase Bebout led to an 8-2 Catamounts lead after the fifth inning. The runs would keep piling in for WCU as Duke would give up nine earned runs on the night.
Hoyle finished the game going 3-for-5 with five RBI and sophomore right fielder, Cody Jones went 2-for-3 with two RBI.
“They had great approaches today and that’s what we talked about, you have to have great approaches against the pitching and when you have a great approach and you got some talent we are going to be successful,” coach Bobby Moranda said.
Junior pitcher, Adam Curtis earned his third win of the season with a solid seven innings pitched and only two earned runs.
“I’m just trying to work hard and do everything right every week and come to play every day,” Curtis said.
“He’s worked hard on his breaking ball and he’s added a changeup this year. He’s really competing. He’s down in the strike zone with three pitches, with good movement and when you do that you’re going to be successful,” Moranda said of Curtis.
Western Carolina is on a five-game winning streak and hopes to keep the momentum going forward.
“Hopefully we can keep it going, we have a big series this weekend against the Citadel and hopefully we can keep winning to get momentum going into the conference,” Curtis said.
The Catamounts are back at home tomorrow against East Tennessee State at 4 p.m. before hitting the road with a series against the Citadel in Charleston, S.C.
“We need to play our system at a higher level and if we do that we have a chance to win a lot of baseball games,” Moranda said.