Tag Archives: sports commentary

Honor Code draws attention

Hey ’Cats. This week I decided to steer my gaze over the nation at large in search of a juicy story. It didn’t take long for me to pinpoint the perfect issue to wax philosophical on.

In the opening days of March, Brigham Young University basketball was on top of the world. It was riding high with only a pair of losses, was top-10 ranked and was arguably the best college player in the country in guard Jimmer Fredette.

Then, without any warning, BYU’s administrators announced that forward sophomore Brandon Davies, the team’s leading rebounder, had violated the school’s Honor Code and was immediately dismissed from the team. Davies’ violation, which remained unspecified for a time, was later revealed to have been consensual sex with his girlfriend, an 18-year-old student at Arizona State University.

The Honor Code, for those unfamiliar with it, states that students must “be honest; live a chaste and virtuous life; obey the law and all campus policies; use clean language; respect others; abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee, and substance abuse; participate regularly in church services; observe the Dress and Grooming Standards; encourage others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code.”
OK. I have nothing against the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as an institution or against Mormons themselves; some of my best friends in high school were practicing Mormons. I also can respect BYU on one level in the sense that the university stuck to its guns and dismissed him from the team for the violation as per school policy.

But that’s where my agreement with the decision begins and ends. I have so many issues with this situation that it makes my head spin.

For starters, who reported Davies to BYU in the first place? He didn’t come forward on his own; the school approached him and essentially forced him to fess up. Was it someone from ASU, his girlfriend’s school, who saw BYU basketball on the rise and took an opportunity to sabotage the team’s NCAA tourney chances? Or was it another student at BYU trying to make himself or herself look good by ratting out an unworthy brother? I’m betting that’s the case; after all, the Honor Code tells students to “encourage others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code,” even if it means turning them in to the administration.

Is that the kind of environment that should be promoted — one of constant suspicion and fear in which students are looking for any transgression to report to the powers that be? What a wonderful way to make stressed-out students even more nervous and subsequently knife many of your own tenants as Mormons by breeding distrust and secrecy among what your church wants to be: a big, happy family.

Furthermore, the Honor Code itself is a joke. You’re a college, BYU, not a training program for your next generation of church-goers. Yes, as a private institution you have the right to set your own rules, but even as a devout Christian I can’t respect a religious university that expects perfect adherence to an utterly unrealistic set of rules.

First of all, your religion believes in the teachings of Christ. That means that you acknowledge that as humans you will sin and you will sin frequently. How can you possibly reconcile this fact with a no-tolerance policy toward what your church considers sins, especially since many of the tenants in the Code aren’t even biblical. I don’t remember Christ espousing that “Thou shalt not consume caffeine.”

Also, I’ve never met anyone in my life (Mormon or non-Mormon) that doesn’t break at least one of those tenants every day. Does such a Mormon even exist? I’m talking swearing, drinking caffeine or even wearing baggy clothes, all of which are in the Code. It’s a wonder you have any students left at all, especially since college students don’t exactly have the same level of restraint that a mature adult does.

This whole situation stinks. Someone just suddenly decides to report one of BYU’s best players, and then the university immediately dismisses him from the team. I have to wonder if an average person at BYU would have been booted from school if he was reported — can you say example case?
As this situation continues to develop, we will see the true character of the university. If Davies is allowed to return to the team next year when he’s “learned his lesson,” thus continuing the media circus fixated on BYU as of late while still showing that the university sticks to its guns, I, for one, am crying foul.

Chris Forrer/For the Review
Chris Forrer can be reached at linfieldreviewsports@gmail.com.

Wildcat week in review

Hey ’Cats. With winter sports fading into the sunset a few weeks ago and spring sports only a few days old, stories are getting harder and harder to come by these days. But fear not! As much as I love unearthing good narrative stories from the Northwest Conference to share with y’all, this week I’m going to go in a different direction and give you some nice little stats and tidbits. Without any further exposition, the week in review:

•Ach! Nishizaki and Boehme to Deutschland:

As I’m sure you read in last week’s issue of TLR, quarterback Aaron Boehme and defensive tackle Paul Nishizaki, two of Linfield football’s finest during the last four years, have signed professional contracts with the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns of the German Football League. Admittedly the mascot isn’t the most masculine I’ve ever heard of, but in a state of Beavers and Ducks who can talk, right?

Also, while the GFL is certainly no National Football League, this signing is a big deal in the context of the team’s status. Long-time quarterback Chad Rupp of the Unicorns walked a year ago and left a vacancy at the position that was filled well by replacement Brian Brunner in 2010.

Furthermore, Unicorn coach Siegfried “Ziggy” Gehrke has stated that Nishizaki is going to be a big part of shoring up his defense. This means that Boehme and Nishizaki are both in a good place to compete for some serious playing time in a professional league; how many other Division III athletes can say they’re headed for a professional gig after college? Not many. I’ll be keeping up with their exploits occasionally, as well as other Linfield sports alumni, as I can next season, so stay tuned.

•Goin’ down to Dixie:

On another football note, senior tackle Aaron Heston was invited to the Dixie Gridiron Classic Feb. 3, a game that involved almost entirely Division I athletes. This kind of major exposure to NFL scouts could lead Heston to land a walk-on contract next season. If he does, he could become one of only a tiny handful of Linfield players to advance to the NFL. Cross your fingers and watch for more developments here as they come in.

• Smells like a National Championship:

If you recall, I mentioned last week that the softball team was likely to have a lights-out season and belt more homers than you can shake a Louisville Slugger at. Sure enough, as if the fans had cried out “Here we are now; entertain us,” the ’Cats have blasted nine home runs in their first four games. If they keep knocking them out of the park at this rate, and assuming they play in as many games this season as the last (49), the softball team is going to rack up 108 home runs during a single season.

Even adjusting this for what will certainly be lower scores in the post-season, 90-plus is still a fair approximation. That figure would shatter the Linfield and Division III records for home runs in a single season set by last season’s squad. The team also outscored opponents 49-7 in four-straight wins to open the season.

These are some seriously gaudy numbers, and I’m tremendously excited for the group’s prospects at winning a national title in Salem, Va. this year.

•Doucette on the warpath:

Reigning All-American junior Staci Doucette was named NWC player of the week after Linfield’s four-game winning streak against Whitworth University. On the weekend, she hit three home runs (including a grand slam), racked up nine RBIs and batted an unreal .667. She is single-handedly promising fans that attending a Linfield softball game means you’re going to see offensive production every couple of minutes.

All aboard the Wildcat Softball Freight Train! Next stop, Salem!

Chris Forrer/For the Review
Chris Forrer can be reached at linfieldreviewsports@gmail.com.

Spring sports are almost in the air

Hey ’Cats! Spring has sprung and that means it’s back to the old grind of schoolwork, classes and being so busy you only stop to eat, sleep and go on the occasional 11:59 Catty Shack run.

It’s been a long, cold couple of months since I last got to burn up the keyboard for the Review, and I’m currently battling a head cold that has swept through the theater department, so pardon my rust.

Before I get going into the bulk of my column today, I want to give a quick shout out to coach Robin Potera-Haskins and the Linfield women’s basketball team on their first winning season in more than five years. Not to say “I told you so” or anything, but I did write two separate articles focusing on how I thought Haskins was going to turn the team around, and what do you know? A winning season is in the books.

But enough about basketball! It’s spring: the time when wet, miserable weather and dreams of summer and sports are the focus of everyone’s attention. Well, maybe not everyone is dialed into spring sports … but they really should be. The baseball team is on a pretty hot streak lately after winning their first five in a row. One of those wins was against Western Oregon University, by the way, which is a Division II school. For those sports-illiterate out there, that means that WOU has more funding, better facilities and the ability to recruit more top-tier players than Linfield, and we beat them. Pretty neat, huh?

True, the team did proceed to drop their next two games in a row, but these were top-notch teams in, again, higher divisions (NAIA and D-II, respectively), so take it with a sizable grain of salt.

Basically, your Linfield baseball team is living up to its No. 8 ranking and looks like a
national title contender for the second year in a row. Mazel tov!

As for the women, the softball team was rained out before its highly anticipated season opener, so anyone interested in watching that game can catch it at 3 p.m. on March 9.

Something else seems to be nagging me the back of my mind about these gals. Maybe
it’s the five All-Americans still on the roster? The bulk of last year’s team (which set more NCAA and school records than I can count) returning? The No. 1 national ranking by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association?

Never mind; I’m sure it’ll come to me later.
In the meantime, I’d highly recommend catching some softball games while the weather is nice. Last year’s team belted a ri-freaking-diculous 78 home runs in 49 games last year. In other words, if this season’s squad is anywhere near that caliber (which the NFCA says it is), you’re guaranteed at least one home run a game.

Now that’s getting some bang for your buck!

Chris Forrer/For the Review

A sad end of an era for the Catdome

I’m an emotional guy when it comes to the sports programs I love, so last weekend, after watching my beloved Wildcat football team lose in double overtime in frigid Minnesota, I felt emotionally steamrolled. As many of you die-hard ’Cat fans can attest, this one hurt.
After the last fumble on the 4-yard line sealed the deal, I was stunned speechless. All I could do for the next 15 minutes was stare at my computer screen as the Tommies whooped and hollered, as the broadcasters discussed their chances against Bethel University and, finally, as the webcast ended, and the window went black. It wasn’t the fact that the Wildcats lost that deactivated my higher brain functions for a brief period of time but how they arrived at the loss and, on a larger scale, everything that it represented.
From what I, and everyone else who laid their eyes on this game saw, Linfield was the superior team. This is a game that we should have won running away. For the better part of three quarters our defense was playing so well that the Tommies didn’t even smell the end zone — let alone enter it.
We picked off their quarterback three times in a matter of minutes. Aaron Boehme was carving up their defense on big drives and Taylor Avritt, who was shoved into a major role on a moment’s notice after Simon Lamson was sidelined by an injury early on, was playing the best football of his life, finding holes, breaking tackles and opening up big runs when we needed them most.
But when we got into or close to the red zone, everything came to a crashing halt. Every play Linfield ran within the St. Thomas 25-yard line in the second half amounted to a whopping 15 total yards, eight incompletions and two missed field goals.
The only time the ’Cats scored in the entire second half was on a final, desperate drive that culminated in Boehme’s clutch TD pass to Buddy Saxon that sent the game into overtime. The extra periods weren’t any better, with another missed field goal and a fumble that sealed the loss. True, much of this can be chalked up to the Tommies’ defense, but not all of it.
That’s how the Wildcats ended the season: in a manner that was both utterly heartbreaking and uncharacteristic of their usually fiery offense.
I can’t think of another loss in recent memory that hurt my heart, and the hearts of ’Cats everywhere, as much as this one did.
Our boys played with their all against one of the nation’s toughest teams; they battled hard for four quarters and two overtimes; and in the end, the better team was still walking off the field with their helmets in hand and their hearts sinking. That hurts.
Among were some of the most talented senior players to ever suit up in purple and red, and my heart breaks for them above all else.
Boehme, the prolific dual-threat quarterback who will go down as one of Linfield’s best, is leaving enormous shoes to fill next season after two incredible years at the helm of this offense; Eric Hedin, the “Sack
Master,” leaves bearing many of Linfield’s most prestigious defensive records after turning himself into a one-man quarterback wrecking crew this season; Buddy Saxon and Chris Slezak, both of whom came back for a final year of eligibility to help Linfield win a national championship and had their hopes dashed in the Minnesota snow; Simon Lamson, who, after a career-defining season, could only watch when it mattered most; Sam Higgins, perhaps the most underrated player on the entire team, who had a better eye for picking off balls than most gave him credit for; Paul Nishizaki, among the college’s all-time best tackles, who wore a smile on the sidelines no matter what the scoreboard read.
There are many more seniors who deserve their names listed here, but only one that I want to mention. Taylor Avritt: You might have been tempted to hang your head the lowest of all. But if you gave into those feelings, I know that every pair of hands on that football team was there to lift you up and carry you all the way to Oregon because after stepping into a major responsibility at a moment’s notice in the biggest game of your life, you deserve nothing less. I applaud you, and you have absolutely nothing to regret.
I apologize for my verbosity this week, ’Cats, but the end of this football season marks the end of an era as well. For the past two years, I’ve been a spoiled journalist for covering a team such as this, and I cannot possibly express the full depths of my gratitude for that.
Now, to this remarkable class of seniors, I raise my glass and drink to the honor of your farewell. And for those who remain, it’s time to anticipate the future. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see what it holds.
Is it September yet?

Chris Forrer/For the Review
Chris Forrer can be reached at linfieldreviewsports@gmail.com.

New coach gives hope to new season

Hey ’Cats. Believe it or not, the fall sports season is nearly over. With college and professional football and basketball still in full swing, it’s easy to forget that sometimes we Division-III schools have abbreviated schedules.
Now that soccer and volleyball are over, swimming and cross country are not far behind, and before you know it, basketball will be getting started (next Tuesday on the road against Concordia, actually).
In one of the earlier issues of the Review this year, I wrote an article about the hiring of a new women’s basketball coach amid allegations from a former school and something about a lawsuit (TRL, “New coach hired amid lawsuit” Sept. 10.) None of you remember it in all likelihood.
I don’t blame you; it’s not exactly something that would stick around in memory for more than a few hours. But since the basketball season is but a few days from kicking off, I thought it might be nice to revisit some of the reasons I feel that the women’s basketball team is going to be a team worth watching.
The new coach, Robin Potera-Haskins, is a former Division-I coach. Not only did she coach at that level, but her program at Montana State won two conference championship and NCAA tournament berths. You read that correctly, folks: We’ve got a March Madness-seasoned coach at our bench this year. At her prior schools, she won three conference championships and competed in three national championship games.
But perhaps the best athletic-related ability Potera-Haskins brings to the table is her otherworldly talent for turning around programs that are in the dumps. At each of the six schools she coached at prior to Linfield, the programs experienced a radical switch in their win-loss percentage.
Right now, this is perhaps the perfect remedy for our Wildcats after a series of disappointing seasons. It’s not like our ladies don’t play hard; it’s not like the talent isn’t there. Something was just not clicking, and the wins were just not happening.
Enter Potera-Haskins, who, in one semester at Linfield, has shown herself to be an energetic, positive and uplifting figure that will be a source of inspiration for her ladies.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with her for a lengthy interview earlier in the year, and I found in her words an earnestness that screams “I love Linfield!” What better fit could you possibly ask for?

Chris Forrer/Freelancer
Chris Forrer can be reached at linfieldreviewsports@gmail.com.