CC Climbers Take on Nationals

Zach Levy

In its first year of existence on campus, the CC Climbing Team boasts 30 athletes on the team roster, even before climbing is officially recognized as a club sport, which begins in Fall 2018.

“It was a way bigger turnout for the team than we had expected, and we were very pleasantly surprised,” says Zach Levy ’21.

This season, the team has competed in two local USA Climbing competitions against other Colorado teams — one in Boulder and one at the U.S. Air Force Academy. “The competition in Boulder was a blast! Although it was the first collegiate climbing competition for almost all of our team members, we performed very well,” says Levy.

Two climbers, Kat Gentry ’19and Levy, advanced to the final round of the competition with Levy taking home the win in a field of 80 men, beating the CU Boulder team on their home turf. At the USAFA competition, three CC climbers placed in the top 10. Then, at the end of Spring Break, the team competed at USA Climbing’s collegiate regional championships in Fort Collins. CC’s team had 14 climbers compete and seven climbers advanced to the national championships by placing in the top 20.

CC had five top ten finishers: Piper Boudart ’21, Allie Kreitman ’21, Gentry, Claire Bresnan ’19, and Levy, then three climbers who made it to finals, Gentry, Bresnan, and Levy, and one regional champion: Gentry for sport climbing. The team placed third in the region for bouldering and fifth in the region overall out of 16 teams.

This weekend, five CC athletes will head to Houston, Texas, to compete in USA Climbing’s Collegiate National Championships. In this competition, collegiate students from schools all around the country will compete for a spot on the U.S. Climbing Collegiate National Team and an invitation to the University World Championships. “Our team has been working hard to train for this competition and we are ready to test our skills on the national level,” Levy says. “We are extremely excited to climb hard, meet new people, and have a blast this weekend.” You can track the team’s progress at the championships here.

“Climbing gives you the opportunity to challenge yourself regardless of how good you are or how long you have been climbing,” Levy says of one of his favorite parts of the sport. “There is endless room for improvement when it comes to climbing, whether in technique, core strength, balance, or brute power. This allows a climber to have goals that can range from being able to perform a single foot movement to winning a national championship.

He says being able to set continuous, progressive goals as a climber keeps him driven and focused. “Climbing challenges you on an individual level, and you are able to push your limits as much as you wish. This makes climbing an amazing sport for beginners and pros alike.”

He also says that climbing provides the opportunity to meet new people and create lasting friendships, providing a competitive environment that is welcoming and encouraging.

Levy says the most challenging aspect of competitive climbing is staying focused. “It is very easy to be distracted by the performance of others and then become discouraged about your own climbing. While it is nice to know how well your competitors are climbing or how well you must climb to beat others, this often takes your focus off of the only thing that you have control over: Your own performance.”

Levy says he’s excited to see the interest in climbing and the climbing team grow at CC. “With climbing being in the Olympics in 2020, the sport is likely to become more mainstream. We hope that this climbing movement leads to a bright future for our team and the sport in general.”

Ella Axelrod ’19 Uncovers Artifacts and Passion for Archaeology

Ella Axelrod on archeological dig site

By Alana Aamodt ’18

Some students enter college with an inkling of what they want to study, and Ella Axelrod ’19, was no different: they had a sneaking suspicion of their interest in archaeology after participating on an archaeology field trip in eighth grade. At CC, Axelrod dove in head first, talking their way into Professor Ruth Van Dyke’s archaeology class right after finishing their FYE, a 300-level class that took place in Castroville, Texas, north of San Antonio. The class sought to find signs of the early Alsacean settlements, built by Henri Castro and the French people he brought to the area in the mid 1840’s.

“This was a hard crash-course in archaeology for me,” describes Axelrod, only a first-year student at the time. “It was physically demanding, [with days spent] often crouched down, carefully removing layer by layer of dirt to look for features, hauling wheelbarrows or five-gallon buckets to screening stations, and sifting through the dirt for artifacts.” Despite the intensity of the class, Axelrod confirmed their love of archaeology and has been studying anthropology with an emphasis in archaeology ever since.

The following summer, Axelrod took a class in their home state of Hawaii, at the University of Hawaii West Oahu, working with a team to help uncover a World War II prisoner of war and citizen internment camp in western central Oahu. This dig was no easy feat either. Axelrod describes searching beneath vegetation for concrete left from the camp and the high temperatures: “The valley we were working in was literally nicknamed ‘Jigoku Dani’ or ‘Hell Valley’ by the Japanese-American citizens who were imprisoned there.” When people think of archaeology they often imagine unearthing dinosaur bones and forgotten civilizations; Axelrod proves that we have much to discover about even recent events. According to them, “going back and finding such difficulty in reconstructing something that seems like it should be recent, memorable history was significant and really highlighted to me how much we don’t realize about the history in our own backyard.”

The emotional and historical significance of this work was highlighted on the trip one lunch break. As Axelrod describes, “after a few days of surveying, while breaking for lunch on a hilltop, we noticed three flowering trees planted in a straight line, about on the border of the civilian side of the camp. Over 70 years ago, some unknown prisoner here probably planted those as an attempt to improve their living conditions in the almost shadeless, sweltering valley. For me, it highlighted the lasting impact we have on our environment and the archaeological record and the human aspect of what happened there.”

Axelrod’s next excavation would take them to the opposite side of the world from Hawaii, to Buysscheure, France. Over the course of the summers of 2016 and 2017, Axelrod would work as the youngest member and only undergraduate on a team of archaeologists set to find and recover the remains of Frank Fazekas, a pilot who was shot down in 1944. Just as labor-intensive as their previous expeditions, Axelrod describes their time in France: “I spent the majority of my first visit to France in a 15-foot deep, muddy hole pulling out countless twisted hunks of metal that used to be a plane and hoping to find the remains of its pilot, a man not much older than myself.” The task was as steeped in meaning as the dig in Hawaii: To bring a man’s remains home to his family. After two summers, many hours, befriending the older French couple across the street who didn’t speak English, and some rain that turned the dirt to mud, their hard work paid off. “Being there while we scrubbed 72-years’ worth of dirt of off what used to be wing-mounted machine guns and finally having confirmation that we found what we were looking for was like watching the puzzle pieces click into place.” Further digging eventually revealed Fazekas’s remains, which were removed and returned to his family.

Axelrod’s most recent archaeological endeavor took them to the Rio Grande National Forest in Colorado near CC’s Baca Campus during Block 2. Professor Scott Ingram, of whom Axelrod “cannot speak highly enough,” taught the CC class titled Field Archaeology, which worked with the National Forest Service to survey a potential part of the Old Spanish Trail. One of the highlights of the trip according to Axelrod was “finding manos and metates, which are artifacts associated with food processing that, potentially, hadn’t been touched by another human in hundreds of years and were just lying on the ground.” Axelrod goes on, “Holding the traces of the people who lived here before any of us was an immensely humbling experience.”

Needless to say, this won’t be their last dig. Continuing their pattern of hard work and determination, Axelrod plans to continue pursuing their archaeological career at Colorado College and beyond.

Jeremy Zucker ’18 Prepping for Graduation and World Tour

Jeremy Zucker '18

By Alana Aamodt ’18

For any student, studying on the Block Plan is a major balancing act — fast paced and sometimes stressful, it all leads to those four days of block break when students can finally take that long awaited nap, hop in a car and drive to the desert, explore Denver or, in the case of Jeremy Zucker ’18, travel the country and perform music. Maybe they’re not your typical block breaks, but Zucker has spent his time at CC fostering a music career right alongside a molecular and cellular biology major.

Signed to Republic Records, Zucker has seen a growing following over the past few years with songs on his most recent album “idle” garnering millions of plays on Spotify, You Tube, and SoundCloud. Zucker’s record label, which has also signed artists such as Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj, and Drake, describes his music as a “fusion of organic airy beats, lush soundtrack-style soundscapes, and biting Tumblr-worthy lyricism, Zucker’s catalog is eclectic: equally carefree and effortless as it is introspectively cathartic.”

Singer, songwriter, producer, and student, the balancing act is not easy, says Zucker. “Honestly, the deeper I get into my major the harder it gets to balance school with music. I couldn’t imagine doing it at any other school; often times I’ll fly out and do a couple shows over a block break or just stay at home in the studio I built in my basement and make music nonstop for five days. The way my mind works, I need to be able to focus my attention and effort on one thing at a time or I’ll go crazy,” he says, citing the Block Plan as the main way he is able to do both.

Zucker has been making music since middle school, consistently releasing songs on various platforms. His hard work and determination have paid off, and he has big plans coming up: Zucker is embarking on a European tour in April with the artist Lauv, a good friend of his, as well as appearing at the Firefly Music Festival, the East Coast’s largest music and camping festival in Dover, Delaware, in June.

“As my outlook on life changes and evolves, so do my songs,” Zucker says. “My process is really cathartic. I find myself digging through my subconscious, picking out feelings, fears, and hopes that I didn’t even know I had.” Even with graduation and a European tour approaching, Zucker will continue to create music. Listen to some of Zucker’s music and check out his tour dates.

CC Launches eSports Team

CC eSports

 By Alana Aamodt ’18

The newest team at CC doesn’t practice at the gym or the fields. Nope, they practice from the comfort of their dorm rooms and meet up in the library to go over strategy. It’s CC’s new eSports team, currently consisting of the eight-member Overwatch A-team, with a B-team and a League of Legends team currently in development. Brian Young, vice president for information technology, defines eSports as “competitive, skill-based, usually online gaming where teams play against each other using a specific set of rules set by the game they’re playing.”

eSports at CC is currently an organization supported by the college through the Division of Information Technology. More than 100 students have shown interest in participating in CC eSports following an initial ITS call out; that number could easily be higher, Young says, because many students play eSports that did not come to one of the open information sessions.

Overwatch is an objective-based six vs. six, team game, with each match lasting between 10 and 20 minutes. Set in the future, “every match is an intense multiplayer showdown pitting a diverse cast of heroes, mercenaries, scientists, adventurers, and oddities against each other in an epic, globe-spanning conflict,” according to the game’s Wikipedia page. The game is unique in that players can switch characters mid-game, keeping both teams’ strategies constantly and quickly evolving. One game, the objective may be for one team to move an object from one side of the map to the other, while the other team tries to stop them, while the next game could be a king-of-the-hill style match.

Or, as Chad Schonewill ’03, ITS Solutions Center team lead, summarizes, “it’s a bit like football if the players had guns and swords and force-fields and magic spells and some of them could fly.”

CC’s Information Technology Team has been the main group getting the CC eSports team up and going, with Schonewill leading the way, supported by great student staff members. The project began in December 2017 with the first scrimmages in January 2018.

The team competes against other collegiate teams in competitions and scrimmages, most recently defeating the University of Denver handily just last week. “eSports has skyrocketed in popularity and shows no signs of slowing down. The last world championship for League of Legends had physical attendees and people who watched in numbers that rival the Super Bowl, and is projected to easily surpass that this year,” Schonewill says. “Some large universities are already offering it as a varsity sport, complete with scholarships. I personally think it’s important to include it at CC because a significant part of our student body is passionate about video games. Even if they don’t play at a competitive level, many students like to spectate.”

And viewing a competitive game has never been so easy — their matches are livestreamed on the popular video site Twitch. Schonewill continues, “Having an official program does a lot to legitimize that passion for said students and helps them feel much more engaged with the college than if they just played games on their own in the background.”

Mataan Peer ’21, a member of the Overwatch team, says he enjoys “the communication required in the game. If you want to win with a team, you need to talk to them and organize attacks or defenses with them.” According to Peer, these games are typically with randomly-selected strangers, but because of CC’s eSports team, the players can work out a more personalized strategy, developing a more “intuitive understanding of how each other play and we can work around it.”

Maggie McNeil ’21, another student on the Overwatch team, shares her perspective: “I play mostly support heroes, or healers. For me, Overwatch is great not because you can rack up eliminations on damage heroes, but because I’m able to look after my team and keep them alive in the game. Another reason why I play so much Overwatch is because it’s a good way to stay in touch with my siblings and friends back home in Connecticut; video games are more social than a lot of people might expect.”

For those who still question how a video game may be viewed as a sport, McNeil asserts that “Overwatch shares many of the qualities that sports do: working as a team, developing strategies and mechanical skills, and accomplishing an objective. It’s obviously very different from traditional sports, but if anyone watches the CC live stream of our matches, they would understand that it’s just as complicated with just as many rules as mainstream sports.”

As the eSports community grows at CC to encompass more games and more people, hopefully the greater student following will too — watch their matches. CC’s athletic conference, the SCAC, is exploring what eSports could mean for conference play. Some conferences have already started e-sports programs. CC’s eSports team plays matches with college and university teams around the country and will play in their first tournament at the end of February.

CC Students and Alumni at the Winter Olympics

CC is representing and supporting the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. Former CC hockey captain Mike Testwuide ’10 will be playing for South Korea’s Olympic hockey team. A Colorado native, he has played hockey professionally in Seoul for the past four and a half seasons and become a naturalized citizen. He credits his time at CC for his ability to adapt and flourish in a different culture and recently commented, “I think CC and its student body breed a wanderlust curiosity that has definitely rubbed off on me.” Freestyle skier Isabel “Izzy” Atkin ’21 is competing on behalf of Great Britain; she has been dubbed one of the country’s best Winter Olympic medal hopes.

These games also mark 50 years since former Olympic Gold Medalist figure skater and television sports commentator Peggy Fleming ’70 won her gold medal at the Olympic Winter Games Grenoble 1968. Two ceremonies this year have marked the occasion.

Dan Webb ’14 and Tim Ambruso ’05 are working transportation at the games. Peter Kim ’18 is there serving as translator for the U.S. Olympic Committee. Coyote Marino ’00 works as director of digital content. Tori Frecentese ’13 is supporting U.S. Speed Skating and Charlie Paddock ’09 will be Chef de Mission for the U.S. at the Paralympic Games starting in March and also happening in South Korea. Also supporting the U.S. Olympic Committee in various roles are: Katherine Perry ’16, McQella Adams ’16, Sam Hale ’17, Tommy Riley ’17, Davis Tutt ’15, Ross Valdez ’14, and Tina Worley ’17.

In addition, Christine Krall ’70 is the jump coach for skaters Alexa and Chris Knierim and can be seen here sitting next to Alexa as the athletes await their scores (which earned them second place) earlier this week. And, Thomas Hackett ’89 serves as team doctor for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard teams. He is an orthopedic surgeon at the Steadman Clinic in Vail, where he specializes in sports medicine for professional athletes. He’s been an Olympic physician for 15 years, and this will be his third Winter Olympics

The opening ceremonies took place Friday, Feb. 9, and the games run through Feb. 25.

Students Earning A+ Computer Certification with New Program

By Alana Aamodt ’18

Starting this week, students interested in computers and information technology are embarking on a 10-week A+ computer certification course. Meeting once a week, students will learn to maintain, customize, and operate personal computers with the goal of passing with an A+ certification, an entry-level certification for PC computer service technicians. The certification helps participating students prepare to enter jobs in information technology and other industries; the course proves they have demonstrated advanced computer skills, setting them apart from other students.

Tulio Wolford, the solutions service manager in ITS, as well as an adjunct instructor for Pikes Peak and Arapahoe Community Colleges, is the driving force behind bringing this opportunity to CC, and will be teaching the course. “Being the manager of the Solutions Center, my team hires student workers and I figured A+ certification would be a great way to train up these students,” Wolford shares. “When I spoke to Brian Young, the VP for ITS, about it, he thought offering it to ALL students would be a great way to further CC’s strategic plan. I have had great support on this venture from the president and cabinet and cannot wait to share the results.”

Upon successful completion of the course, ITS will pay for each student’s A+ certification test in Colorado Springs and provide transport to and from the testing site. The course started this Thursday, Feb. 1, and is held each Thursday night from 7-8:30 p.m. Contact twolford@coloradocollege.edu for more information.

History and Future of the Book

By Alana Aamodt ’18

As the way we share knowledge shifts from expansive libraries to instant Internet searches, many of us find ourselves turning to Google before a shelf of books. But the wisdom books have to share isn’t just limited to what their pages contain, as Jessy Randall, special collections archivist, and Steve Lawson, humanities liaison librarian, shared in the History and Future of the Book course. The Half Block class set out to explore how reading, writing, and preserving texts — whether they are clay tablets, sheepskin scrolls, modern-day novels, or online text — intersects with identity, memory, and history.

Randall and Lawson co-taught, taking students deep into the Special Collections of Tutt Library, where books hundreds of years old reside. They also spent time at the CC printing press, learning to set type and hand-press their own books. Truly interactive, Randall says one of her favorite activities from the class was when students were challenged to try and determine the authors, titles, and dates of an “incunable,” a book printed before the year 1501, without seeing the title page and instead using the hints the text itself had to offer.

“Librarians usually only get to see students for short spurts of time, maybe for an hour in a library instruction session or one-on-one to talk about researching a capstone,” Randall shares. “Teaching the Half Block is a good reminder of how engaged and interesting CC students can be. It’s a bit of a cliché to say we learn as much from them as they do from us, but I think that’s true.”

Although the way people interact with information is evolving, this class reassures that books and book-making will continue to hold historical significance and inspire wonder. Students interested in the topics covered in this class have the chance to pursue CC’s thematic minor titled “The Book,” which weaves together art, history, English, film, and religion classes into a minor that explores the past, present, and future of the written word in its material form.

Refining Big Ideas During Half Block

By Alana Aamodt ’18

The Big Idea competition is just a few weeks away and the Innovation at CC team has been hard at work throughout Half Block in its new student-designed space on the corner of Weber Street and Cache La Poudre, helping students perfect their pitches. The Big Idea is a startup pitch competition where teams of CC students propose entrepreneurial ventures to a panel of judges for the chance to win a chunk of the $50,000 prize money to fund their project.

The Big Idea Half Block class, which is optional for teams entering the competition, has spent nearly all of the past two weeks going through an entrepreneurial boot camp, taking students from business idea to viable presentation and business model.

The first week broke down the components needed to enter the competition, helping teams create mission statements and executive summaries, and generally refining their ideas. The rest of it has been spent creating comprehensive slideshow presentations, called “pitch decks” in the startup world. Collaborative and intense, the Big Idea Half Block witnessed teams’ ideas ranging from hot sauce to toys to iPhone apps.

To help prepare students to present, the class participated in the Career Center session Improv Theatre, the Job Market, and You led by Anne Braatas ’76, playing improv games to help with confidence and energy while pitching. In addition, the students have practiced their pitches multiple times, presenting to each other and the professors — Jake Eichengreen and Dez Stone Menendez. Eichengreen is the executive director of the QUAD Innovation Partnership and Menendez is the director of Innovation at CC. Menendez, who has a background in startup and small business consulting, says her “passion is empowering people to execute their ideas, particularly young people,” and that the most inspiring and exciting part of teaching this Half Block is seeing just how quickly students can build a pitch.

The finale Big Idea event, where finalists will pitch ideas on the stage of Celeste Theatre, will be held Thursday, Feb. 8.

Professor Sawyer Explores Political Forces and Radical Politics in Recent Publications

Prof Michael Sawyer

By Alana Aamodt ’18

Assistant Professor of Race, Ethnicity, and Migration Studies Michael Sawyer has been hard at work, recently publishing three articles that span the topics of political theory, philosophy, and literature. The three articles, “Radical Temporality, Fictive Realism, and Revolution as Context: Sonic Implosion of the Modern,” “Undoing the Phaedrus: Melville’s Rereading of Plato,” and “Sacrifice,” all tie back to Sawyer’s greater research goal, which explores “the formation of political subjects through coercive force and further how those subjects construct regimes of knowledge and radical politics to unravel that condition,” according to Sawyer. This interest in subjugated people’s responses to the dominant political regime has been a driving force in Sawyer’s research curiosities.

The first of his works was inspired by his time in Italy, where he gave a series of lectures at University of Bologna’s Department on Global Cultures and Critical Theory last spring. There, Sawyer spoke on his book manuscript, “Black Minded: The Political Philosophy of Malcolm X” (Pluto/University of Chicago Press), due out next fall. Following his lectures, scholars in attendance requested Sawyer expand on the concepts of radical temporality and modernity,” or how modern subjects can exist outside of society’s normal relationship with time. The resulting paper was just published in Italian.

Of perhaps humbler beginnings, Sawyer’s piece “Undoing the Phaedus” was the result of conversations in his own classroom about “Moby Dick” and “the complexity that was revealed working with the students.” This piece compares the relationship between “black vs. white” and “good vs. bad” in Melville’s classic novel, arguing it is a dismantled, flipped version of Plato’s logic in “Phaedus.”

Of his third work, “Sacrifice,” Sawyer says: “‘Sacrifice’ is from a larger project in political theory that engages well-known political theorists and philosophers (of which I am not numbered) to take a term and redefine it from a theoretical perspective. For example, Gayatri Spivak’s concept is ‘development,’ Jaques Ranciere took up the question of ‘occupation,’ and Étienne Balibar wrote on ‘exploitation’ and Susan Buck-Morss on ‘civilization.’”

The interdisciplinary nature of these articles reflect Sawyer’s diverse academic interests, which range from applied science, political science, and international security policy, all the way to comparative literature and political theory. Endless topic combinations and the obvious ability to multitask, balancing writing and teaching, are signs Sawyer will continue on as a prolific author.

Students Explore New Topics and Build Skills During Half Block

By Leah Veldhuisen ’19

CC’s Half Block offers a range of topics for students to make the most of the Winter Break. Courses range from The Science of Superheroes to Digital Tools for the Liberal Arts. Half of the offered courses are for-credit, and the other half are not-for-credit with a focus on professional development.

Naomi Wood, associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese, describes the week and a half in January as “an opportunity for students to explore a discipline or area outside of their normal field of study or to work on a skill that is complementary to their primary interests.”

One class taught year after year is Wood’s Brazilian Music and Language. It’s a hybrid of introductory Portuguese language and Brazilian music; Wood combines the Portuguese language element of her full-block language classes with the Brazilian culture she usually teaches in English. “I very much enjoy the shift in energy that both I and students bring [during Half Block]” Wood explains. She also says that “because this is a supplemental course (not a requirement) the classroom environment represents the core sentiment of being in class merely for enrichment purposes.” Wood recommends Brazilian Music and Culture to learn “basic Portuguese language, explore percussion instruments core to many Brazilian rhythms, and trace socio-historical contexts and implications of the evolution of Brazilian music.”

CC alumni Camille Blakely ’84 and Millie Olsen ’68 are returning to campus to teach a Dynamic Half-Block course titled Advertising Agency Immersion. Blakely runs Blakely + Company, an advertising agency in downtown Colorado Springs, and Olsen founded San Francisco-based Amazon Advertising. Olsen has been back to campus every year since 1999 to teach a two-day advertising course to economics students, and says she’s excited to be back for all of Half Block 2018.

Blakely and Olsen will help students develop solutions for a millennial-focused brand challenge from a Fortune 500 company. Students will present their ideas to the company during a videoconference at the end of the course. Olsen explains that it will be “a weeklong plunge into the life of a real agency.” It’s a chance, she says, “to try on some roles and see if they fit, and overall, if you’re meant to be in the hyper-competitive, ever-changing, anything-goes world of advertising and marketing.”

In addition to Brazilian Music and Language and Advertising Agency Immersion, there are 20 other for-credit offerings and 20 more not-for-credit Half-Block options. The classes will run from Jan. 8-18, 2018.