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Women’s XC Head to Nationals, Castaneda Named Coach of the Year

Montana Bass ’18

The CC women’s cross country team took fourth in regional championships last weekend, qualifying three runners (Allysa Warling ’19, Leah Wessler ’17, and Katie Sandfort ’17) for the NCAA National Meet Nov. 21. This comes after wrapping up October with an exciting win and another Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship in October. Additionally, in exclusive voting by the head coaches of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference, CC’s Ted Castaneda was selected SCAC Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season.

As part of the team’s conference win, six of the Tiger’s runners finished in the top 10 and junior Leah Wessler captured her second consecutive individual title at Stone Creek Golf Club in Sherman, Texas. She also repeated as SCAC Women’s Runner of the Year.

Wessler said much of the team’s success this season is owed to the addition of “awesome new runners, who pushed returning athletes to work even harder.” The team also lost only one senior from the previous season. “We were able to build on the momentum of last year, when we finally beat our rival, Trinity,” said Wessler.

But the team has overcome some challenges en route to the championship. Last year, tendonitis flared up in Wessler’s ankle during track season, so this year she maintained a regimen of consistent icing and massages. The addition of new recruits and different racing styles required team-wide adjustments. “Members of a good team need to know and predict the movements of other teammates around them during a race, so people know when to step in for a member who is having a bad race, when to make a move on runners of another team, and so on,” said Wessler. “I think one of the reasons we were so successful at the conference meet was that we have fully adjusted to the new team dynamics, and we were running for each other as well as for ourselves.”

About two weeks leading up to a big race, the team “eases up” their workouts. “I usually stop doing two-a-days to rest my legs,” said Wessler. The day before the race, they run the course to make sure everyone knows route. “I’m very good at getting lost,” Wessler admitted.

Though they felt fairly confident entering the conference meet, Wessler called the course one of the most difficult the team had experienced this season. “Usually my mind wanders a lot during races, but there were so many ups and downs, swamps, mud puddles, and sharp turns, that there was always something to pay attention to,” she explained. “I was pretty stressed by how fast my energy and adrenaline were subsiding because of all the hills and mud.”Women's Cross Country team celebrates the conference win.

Jessica Hunter-Larsen ’90 Honored for Pushing the Envelope

Montana Bass ’18

Jessica Hunter-Larsen ’90, curator of CC’s InterDisciplinary Experimental Arts or IDEA Space, has received the award for “Pushing the Envelope” from the Pikes Peak Arts Council. She was recognized for three exhibitions: “Re-Orientations,” “Transmission/Frequency: Tesla and His Legacy,” and “Extending the Line.”

Hunter-Larsen said the projects developed out of her own persistent questions including, “What are Tesla’s scientific and cultural legacies?” “How do contemporary artists respond to 19th Century Orientalist images?” and “What are the myriad meanings and expressions of a simple concept, such as a line?” Through the IDEA Space, which is founded on the premise that participation in the arts engenders creative thinking in all endeavors, she was able to collaborate with artists, CC faculty and students, and the greater Colorado Springs community to explore these questions. Together, they attended and participated in research, public lectures, discussions, classes, and performances.

“I feel like this award signifies that IDEA is living up to its full title: InterDisciplinary Experimental Arts,” said Hunter-Larsen. She noted that the purpose of the program is “to create a community of seekers, rather than to present information.” This atmosphere of creative exploration allows Hunter-Larsen and members of the CC and Colorado Springs community to pursue intriguing questions in a much different manner than a formal academic setting would allow.

Looking toward the future, Hunter-Larsen continues to plan exhibitions of art exploration at IDEA Space. Over the next year, she said she hopes to “explore topics such as water conservation, the legacy of the nuclear age in the Southwest, and contemporary Native American art based on traditional crafts.” Hunter-Larsen expressed gratitude to CC for the philosophical and financial support of this program, which she said has truly created a “fertile environment for challenging perceived boundaries and taking artistic risks.”

With these exciting upcoming projects in mind and a new award under her belt, it’s no surprise she feels so satisfied with her job, which she describes as “just plain fun, because I am always learning.”

Students Present “Still Standing” at Dance Workshop 2015

A shot from Dance Workshop 2014; check back for photos from this year's performances.

A shot from Dance Workshop 2014; check back for photos from this year’s performances.

Montana Bass ’18

Hours of collaboration, choreography, and rehearsal culminate next week with 2015’s Dance Workshop performances. This year’s show entitled “Still Standing,” takes place Friday, Nov. 6, at 8 p.m., and Saturday, Nov. 7, at 2:30 and 9 p.m. in Armstrong Theatre.

The show features 14 pieces, exhibiting a wide range of dance styles from modern, to swing, to hip-hop. The dancers, led by co-chairs, Alison Rowe ’16 and Evans Levy ’18, had to pull things together more quickly this year, with performances taking place during Block 3, as opposed to the middle of Block 4 as in years past. “Still Standing” came together an entire month earlier, so for Rowe and Levy, show planning began before the start of the academic year, as they worked to choreograph a try-out dance for auditioning performers. In the first week of Block 1, they held choreographer auditions, where students looking to choreograph numbers for the show presented their ideas. “We ask you to present everything you have,” Levy said of the audition process. “Show us the song, if you have choreography, share what you’re inspired by, how many dancers you want, anything and everything you can tell us about the piece. We try to make sure it’s a well-rounded show. We want to know you have the drive to put the piece together.”

Then, more than 100 student dancers auditioned for Rowe, Levy, and the selected choreographers; dancers may be chosen to perform in up to three numbers. This is the most stressful part of the process, according to Levy. “It can be hard to get choreographers to cast people they don’t know and step out of their comfort zone.” Over the next two months, choreographers and dancers go to work practicing individual pieces once or twice a week, while the co-chairs continue work to set the schedule for tech rehearsals, finalize the order of the numbers for the show, develop publicity materials for the event, and, Levy notes, send “about a billion emails.”

The week before the show may be both the most hectic and the most exciting according to Levy. “The pieces evolve so much during that week. When you put the pieces on stage, people realize there’s actually going to be a performance and that’s when it really starts to look like a show,” said Levy. “I’m really excited to see the first run through and see how the pieces have come together.” For everyone involved, the shows are a source of pride. Dancers experience the high of performing on stage, choreographers see a once-vague vision play out, and the co-chairs reap the satisfaction of seeing the show go on, despite a multitude of challenges and problems that may have arisen along the way.

“Overall it’s really cool to be a part of something so big,” Levy said. “This is the biggest student-run performance event and I didn’t realize how much work went into it, but I appreciate it all the more because of that. There’s such a community that’s built around it and so many friendships that are made.”

Coach Kevin Cronin Appears in Training and Conditioning

Coach Kevin Cronin

Coach Kevin Cronin

By Montana Bass ’18

Head Coach of Strength and Conditioning Kevin Cronin was featured in an article for Training and Conditioning magazine’s September issue. The piece by Joel Bergeron titled “On the Fast Track” discusses recent progress in the integration of technology into sports training, specifically focusing on the use of individual GPS devices to track athletes’ training and recovery.

In the article, Cronin explains that CC’s soccer and lacrosse teams have been using the GPS technology for two full seasons as a reference point to alert coaches when time should be taken off for recovery. He also comments on the challenge of using the data productively and efficiently, and working with coaches to explain the connection between data results and athlete performance.

He cites the competitive nature of collegiate athletics as an inherent challenge in reporting on this topic. Cronin, who’s interviewed in the piece alongside coaches from the University of Kentucky, Wake Forest, North Carolina, and Notre Dame, explained, “one of the downfalls of the article is that there is a lot of money on the line for the other coaches interviewed. NCAA tournament appearances bring money into athletic departments and revealing their ‘secrets’ to their competitors is unlikely.”

Cronin said that Training and Conditioning reported on an important topic, commenting that, “technology is a big deal in the world of sport performance these days, and this article was one of the more revealing articles about technology and its use.”

Senior Survey Recognition

Each year, CC conducts a survey with graduating seniors asking about their experience at CC. A question on the survey invites students to identify staff members who have made a difference in their lives. Alejandro Salazar ’15, past president of the CCSGA, spoke on behalf of the student body at the Block 1 In The Loop all-staff meeting and shared that graduating seniors acknowledged over 130 staff members in the survey. He expressed gratitude for the support provided by all of the staff at CC. For a complete list of staff identified in the senior survey, go to Quick Links on the HR webpage and read Salazar’s full comments.  

The Grits Collective Provides a Counter Narrative

Grits Collective

Grits Collective

Arts, innovation, and community engagement come together harmoniously in the Grits Collective, a project founded by students Benjamin Criswell ’16, Caitlin Canty ’16, and Paige Clark ’16 that aims to use the power of storytelling to challenge common societal prejudices toward the homeless population.

Following the closure and transition of the CC Soup Kitchen, the college, launched the Soup Project Challenge, facilitated by CC’s innovation initiative and the Collaborative for Community Engagement, to fund student projects that address hunger, homelessness, and poverty in the greater Colorado Springs community. Of the proposals submitted, four teams of students allocated funding last spring, including the Grits Collective.

During the past few months, the Grits team, which now includes its first intern, Reed Young ’17, has been visiting the Marian House Soup Kitchen, and most recently, working with the kitchen’s Family Day Center program. The students sit down with the soup kitchen’s clients, who are finishing up their lunches, and provide writing prompts and materials to collect stories from the individuals in an effort to shed light on their lives and life experiences.

“There are two components,” said Young of the process. “We collect the stories and publish them, that’s the advocacy component. And the other component you could call empowerment: the idea is that we are bringing people together once a week to share stories.”

Criswell added that the group is looking to “create a shift in the general perception of people that are experiencing homelessness. A homeless person is not just a homeless person; they’re a father, or a son, or a pet owner, or a librarian. There’s a lot more behind people’s faces.”

One only has to take a look at the stories, which can be found on Grits’s new website,, to realize their deeply humanizing power. Each narrative provides context for the storyteller and voices the often-overlooked complexity of human life. Whether revealing an explanation of the past, a commentary on a specific impression of the present, or hopes for the future, the stories deny readers and listeners the option of disregarding the storyteller as simply “homeless.” The Grits Collective encourages understanding by dismantling generalizations shared by mainstream society.

“Fundamentally, we are providing a counter narrative,” said Criswell.

The team members say they’re often struck by the extent to which pure chance contributes to the situations of the people they meet. “For a lot of people that are right on the edge, it’s completely out of their hands,” Criswell said. “If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, one thing – like you slip on ice and have a bunch of medical bills – can put you in that situation.”

Grits will continue to work with CC’s Collaborative for Community Engagement, which advises over 30 community-based student groups, as they continue expanding the project. The Grits team will also partner with KRCC to bring these stories to radio programming, and will have its first print insert in the Colorado Springs Independent Oct. 28, part of Grits’ goal to create a multimedia presence. In the meantime, the team will keep returning to the Marian house to collect stories and continue to build relationships with those who share them.

Get to Know… Charles Wilemon, sushi chef with Bon Appetit

Sushi at Benji's

Sushi at Benji’s

Montana Bass’ 18

 How did you first learn to make sushi?
I taught myself. I was down at The Preserve when we used to have a really big exposition station down there. They wanted to do a sushi station so I had to learn to make sushi last minute from youtube and books and stuff. It didn’t take me long to learn to roll but it took like two years to learn to make good sushi. Sometimes I do it for parties or friends.

What is your favorite type of sushi roll to make?
I like doing the tempura shrimp. That’s a lot of fun, figuring out how to get the shrimp right so it doesn’t curl up. Because it’s tempura, you get the fried flavor without frying the whole roll. After that it’s probably the dragon roll. That’s the California roll layered with unagi (we don’t make that here because we can’t use eel).

What is your favorite sushi restaurant in Colorado Springs?
Ai. It’s at Centennial Road and Garden of the Gods Road. The staff is really friendly and the sushi’s always really good, very fresh.

What do you like to do when you aren’t at work?
I like to put together miniatures and play tabletop war games. A couple of my friends were into it and I got bored watching it and decided to try it out; I got hooked. That was probably ten years ago. Either that or I’m reading. I don’t watch television.

How did you start working for Bon Appetit?
I used to be an executive chef at McCabe’s Tavern. Then, a friend of mine told me to check out Bon Appetit. I started out at the grill and then I did the expo at The Preserve for a while. I’ve worked every station here. I like sushi best. It’s a lot of creativity; I get to choose my own specials, order my own fish, the station’s mine.

What is your favorite part about working at CC?
Interacting with the students, honestly. If you come here enough I’ll be able to match your order to your face.

What’s the weirdest dish someone has asked you to make?
When I was at The Preserve doing pasta night, a girl wanted me to put gummy worms and M&Ms in with her marinara and Italian sausage pasta. I told her no. At the sushi station I’ve had people want me to put like teriyaki chicken or something in their sushi, but nothing really bizarre. I might do a make-your-own sushi one day so people can put whatever they want in it.

Who’s your favorite person to hang out with at work and why?
While I’m at work? That’d be Josh Speckles. He’s the tall skinny guy with the beard over at the grill. If I’m having breakfast or something, it’s usually with him.

Wild Card: What’s something students would never guess about you?
My daughter is the same age as you guys. She goes to the University of Maryland. I’m 37; people always think I’m in my 20s.

First-Year Students Launch “Humans of Colorado College”

Humans of CC Facebook page

Humans of CC Facebook page

Montana Bass ’18

“Humans of New York,” the popular Facebook page with over 15 million “likes,” now has another sister page: “Humans of Colorado College,” thanks to two first-year students, Padah Vang ’19 and Joann Bandales ’19. The page already has over 1,300 “likes” and is continuing to gain popularity.

The students have posted to the page nearly every day for the past three weeks. Each post includes a photo of a CC student and a statement from the student, usually regarding his or her experience at CC, and goals for the student’s experience at the college. Students’ comments are honest, inspiring, and heartfelt. Poignant personalities carry through the screen, speaking to the individuality of the student body, while drawing attention to overlooked issues or shedding light on less common perspectives.

Esther Chan ’16 helped Vang and Bandales start the page and says she is extremely excited about where they have taken it. “It’s just gone so far beyond my belief. They’re creating this community of support, vulnerability, honesty, and authenticity that CC needs,” Chan said.

Particularly impressive, notes Bandales, is students’ willingness to share personal details of their lives and allow those intimate stories to be posted for the larger community. “The interviews that have impacted me a lot have been Mohammad [Mia] and Austin [Lukondi]’s stories. They are both amazing people and for them to talk about these things, it’s just eye-opening that there’s more to a person than you think,” she said.

Bandales says she hopes the page will draw the CC community closer together. “I believe that this project will allow us to connect more with the people we see everyday, yet never really know what goes on behind the scenes,” she said.

Vang and Bandales encourage people interested in the project to contact them and become involved. Anyone can find the page by searching “Humans of Colorado College” on Facebook.

CC Grads Bring Women’s Art to Life in Rootstalk

The cover of the first edition of Rootstalk Magazine.

By Monica Black ’19

Kate Dunn ’14 and Erin O’Neill ’14 developed the online quarterly arts publication Rootstalk Magazine with a very clear mission in mind: to create a space for a community of self-identified women to publish their art. The magazine features art (including songs, music reviews, poetry, essays, paintings, and fiction) made by women from all walks of life.

Dunn and O’Neill, residents of Oakland, CA, were both interested in women’s studies in college. Dunn, an English major, began to think about the intersection between literature and women’s studies while studying abroad in Greece with CC. It was not until they both graduated that they began to comprehend that women do not often have spaces to share their art and work. O’Neill, a studio art major, and Dunn collaborated during the past year to create Rootstalk, the name of which means literally “an underground, horizontal root system that grows together into a web to nourish one developing plant.”

In attempting to build this web, Rootstalk aims to venture outside normal boundaries. Instead of striving to be a haven for teenage girls like, for example, the celebrated 2011 magazine Rookie, Rootstalk prides itself on being directed toward any and all women and pushes for an intergenerational community. The creators search in more ways than one to be a democratic, fully representative community. “We want women,” said Dunn, “who do not necessarily identify as artists (although self-identified artists are welcome too!), to have a place to showcase thoughts, paintings, drawings, songs, journal entries, that they’d otherwise keep to themselves.“

Rootstalk emphasizes this idea of sharing in the published content. It reads like a mature show-and-tell, featuring everything from pictures of old journal entries to lo-fi bedroom rock. The front cover of the current issue is a piece entitled “What I Think About When I Think About Yoga” by Eleanor Anderson. It depicts a little androgynous person dancing across the page, contorting its body into sometimes-impossible shapes. Most of the art is similarly impressionistic and personal. The cumulative effect of the pieces is similar to the one produced while browsing someone else’s diary: it is confessional but not self-consciously so, it is smart, and it is surprising.

Rootstalk’s first issue, “Transition,” is available online now; 10 of the 18 submissions are from CC alumnae. The website,, is currently accepting submissions.

CC Takes Strides in Sustainability

Students install solar panels at the Baca Campus.

By Montana Bass ’18

In the past months, Colorado College has made significant progress toward reaching its sustainability goals. The college has achieved the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education STARS Gold Status, it moved up to 59th on the Sierra Cool Schools list, and received the WateReuse CO customer of the year award.

These achievements represent efforts by CC’s Office of Sustainability, which completed the AASHE STARS questionnaire for the first time last year. STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System) is a widely respect self-reporting framework used by colleges across the country to track sustainability progress. Colleges can earn credit based on criteria across four categories: academics, engagement, operations, and planning and administration. Depending on the results, they earn a rating as bronze, silver, gold, or platinum.

In only its second year participating, CC has already moved from the silver to the gold ranking with a current score is 66.89 (85 will earn CC platinum status). Ian Johnson, director of sustainability, said, “energy and greenhouse gas emissions are key players in all regards. Continuing to focus on parallel goals and commitments, such as our carbon neutrality goals, will continue to move us up.”

While students and faculty may already consider CC a “cool school,” now it’s official. The Sierra Club recently recognized the college as 59th out of 135 schools on its Cool Schools of 2015 list. The Sierra Club uses a survey called the Campus Sustainability Data Collector, which draws from the data collected by Sierra Club, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, the Sustainable Endowments Institute, and the Princeton Review.

Schools can receive a total of 1000 points spread across 11 categories. CC earned a score of 641.93, while the highest-ranking school, University of California Irvine, earned a score of 867.29. In the categories of food, energy, and waste, CC ranked in the top 25 out of all 135 schools, and also earned all possible points in the planning category.

According to Johnson, this recognition is especially important in terms of continuing to increase CC’s rankings in other higher education standings and gaining the respect of peer institutions, prospective students, and alumni. “Sierra Magazine is widely respected and reviewed,” he said. “Our improvement this year is a direct result of the college’s strategic plan goals and focus on sustainability, largely guided by the annual STARS survey that informs our State of Sustainability report.”

Additionally, CC received the Customer of the Year Award from WateReuse Colorado. “This award recognizes projects and people within Colorado that have made significant contributions to water reuse,” said Tara Kelley, Regulatory Services Section Supervisor for Colorado Springs, who nominated CC for the award. CC has been using reclaimed water for over 45 years. The award states that the college has “demonstrated superb compliance with Colorado Springs Utilities standards and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment regulations throughout this time.”