Flag football rises in popularity

Flag Football is becoming a more popular and entertaining sport throughout the youth of America, especially between girls the ages of 14-17.

Karleigh Gorman, former high school flag football player advocates for girls playing flag football.

“It makes me feel like I’m equal to a guy, because guys always brag about playing football and girls can’t. It makes me feel important and it makes me feel like I have a right and I am empowered,” Gorman said.

In recent years flag football has made a wide appearance across the state of Georgia becoming more popular, a club sport and an official high school sport for girls. Only 15 colleges offer competitive collegiate flag football teams, with all the colleges being National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, NAIA. Only two of those colleges are in Georgia.

Flag football opens various opportunities for people of all ages. It provides people, specifically kids, the opportunity to branch out and broaden their skills. Kieth Wenrich, the director of recreational sports, mentioned that kids can benefit from flag football in all aspects. Flag football also opens doors for girls across the country and gives them more opportunities in the sports world.

“The ways are numerous, here are a few; physical activity, team building, socialization, well-being, leadership, sportsmanship, competitiveness, friendship, critical thinking, risk management” Wenrich said.

Many girls throughout Georgia have joined local club teams and or teams provided by their schools. This past year Fulton county of Georgia added flag football sports teams to most of their high schools.       

 “I do not see it becoming an NCAA sport.” Wenrich said addressing the chances of women’s flag football becoming more than a NAIA sport.

Although flag football is becoming more and more popular, it is not apart of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, NCAA. As of now there are no future plans for flag football becoming an NCAA sport. 

Even though it is still in the beginning stages of becoming more prominent, flag football is still enjoyed throughout the community.

Hockey from the South

When people think about hockey, the first thing that often comes to mind is ice, snow and the cold — all traits of Northern cities. Most would not consider weather and Southerners. 

“The south should definitely have hockey, it’s just a great thing to have,” said former hockey player Austin Treubert.

Treubert started playing hockey at the age of 5 and stopped playing his senior year of high school. He grew up in Freehold, New Jersey so he was introduced to many opportunities in hockey. Around the age of 10, Treubert played against a team from North Carolina. This is when he realized there were teams in the South. 

Current hockey players, Matteo and Luca Salvatore, found it difficult to play hockey after moving from Canada to South Carolina. “Hockey was the only sport in Canada, it was the only thing to do,” Matteo Salvatore said. 

The set of twins started playing hockey at the young age of 3 and still continue with their careers today. “Hockey is now in a different environment for us and it was hard to adapt,” Matteo Salvatore said. “Traveling really impacted me, there should really be more places down here.”

Since hockey has started to open up more, Matteo and Luca don’t have to travel as much. Both boys would travel every weekend and miss parts of the week for hockey, “Traveling took a toll on me, having to fly then play five games a day was hard,” Luca Salvatore said. 

Sophomore David Eberly from Atlanta, who plays for the UGA Ice Dawgs, faced struggles when traveling, “I can’t explain the amount of things I missed out on due to traveling for hockey.” 

Due to his travels up north, Eberly only got one weekend off, if he was lucky. Having to travel almost every weekend can impact anyone. As more states like South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia started to have more teams, this lessened travel. 

 “We have lots of opportunities (in the South) now,” he said.

Danny Bryant, the arena general manager for the Classic Center, was very open to the idea of more southern hockey teams. Bryant said that Athens, Georgia will be announcing the arrival of their new ECHL team. This new arena will help attract more people for hockey. 

Over the past seven years, the UGA Ice Dawgs — who will play home games in the new arena — have won conference championships and have proved themselves as a competitive team. “People love the Dawgs — we always have a big crowd,” said Bryant.  “Even the students love it.”

The rise of hockey in the South has done more than add another sport for people to play and watch. It also has created a community. “I just love being in the environment it gave me and the community it created,” said Matteo Salvatore.

Matteo Salvatore has been on multiple teams at one time with so many different players. Some of them are from the North that have decided or have been recruited to play down South. Players coming from the North to the South is not uncommon. The current UGA Ice Dogs roster features 14 players from northern states, including New York, Maryland, Wisconsin and Colorado.

Regardless of where they came from, all of the players on the team have developed a strong bond and have even taught others some other skills that they know. “It was fun learning new things that other guys had learned from up north, they definitely brought some newer things” Eberly said. 

Luca Salavote, a goalie for his team, said that it was important to him when he got to show some of his skills to other players that didn’t have them. Due to the lack of camps and training facilities in the South, many native Southern hockey players missed out on opportunities to improve their game. Eberly noted that kids from New York or Maryland have a slight advantage from the other players. 

Whether from the North or South, Austin said hockey players share a common bond — their passion for the sport and their desire to share their love for it. 

“Hockey is more than just a sport, it lets people come together and be one big family,” Austin said. “It’s a community of people that love each other, I think every kid should have that.”

Music Matters: The Music Experience At UGA

People care a lot about sports, but don’t pay any attention to performing arts. 

Ian Jones, a recent UGA graduate that was a music major said, “I really do value music and it’s not pursued because I want to make money,” he said. “I’m pursuing it because I love it.” 

At most colleges, sports is the number one priority. Other programs besides sports become forgotten and not recognized as much as student athletes. Performing arts being one of them. Performing arts is a very competitive field and musicians don’t get the credit they deserve. 

“I feel like I have matured a lot because of music,” Jones said. “I’ve gained a lot of sensitivity and emotional input and output and it’s helped me become a better person.”

Jones spoke about how much he loved being at UGA and being a music major. He explained that it took a lot of practice and dedication to get into UGA’s music program. He also highlighted the challenges he has had to face in such a competitive field. 

“The social challenge [of being a music major] is people always asking what you are going to do with your career,” he said. “Musicians do gain a stigma that they are going to have a ‘poor person job.’”

Jones also underlined the struggles of being in the music world, while also having to be shadowed by UGA’s big sports presents.

“We definitely did not get the same quality or representation [in contrast to sports programs],” he said. “However, I do acknowledge that it is two different worlds that are occurring. You have the very artistic side of the campus versus the athletics.”

Some would agree that people support sports more than music programs which makes the UGA orchestra community underrepresented.

 Mark Cedel, the director of the orchestra at University of Georgia said, “This was something I couldn’t understand when I came here, coming to such a big university, a big football team where football is very important,” he added. “I wish we had more support for the arts.”

However, Cedel does not regret his decision to teach or direct orchestra at the university level. 

“I feel lucky being in academia,” Cedel said. “It’s always exciting seeing how they [students] react to a piece of music for the first time.” 

Cedel spoke on being a director at the University of Georgia and he expressed that he really loves his job and how much he loves orchestra.

“I love making music, bringing the music alive and studying it while figuring out what the composer wanted,” he said. “There is always room for interpretation and your own personal feeling.”

There are many positive attributes to being in a orchestra and UGA takes pride in working together to create music.

Laura Patterson, a first violinist in The Athens Orchestra commented,“I love getting to do something with other people that are fun and creative and brings joy to the audience.“We have fun playing music, but then in the performance, someone else gets to enjoy what we’re enjoying.”

Patterson went to UGA as a music major and she also played sousaphone for the Redcoats band. She explained that the redcoats were different from the orchestra ensemble because the orchestra was more pressure. She agreed that people do not support the arts as much as they support sports teams, but they supported the redcoats because they were connected to football. 

“People absolutely support the marching band on game days because they recognize that it’s a very important part of the game day experience.”

Patterson explained that she had a unique experience playing for both the orchestra and in the marching band. She explained how important it is to support the arts as a whole.

A great way to support local music is to show up to the events and give back to the programs.

 “Go to concerts for paid organizations, donate money if you have it, but then also support music in our schools,“ said Patterson. “If we don’t support music in our schools, then we won’t have musicians in the future.”

Athfest Returns Following Two-Year Hiatus


A local music festival called Athfest is returning after being unable to take place due to COVID-19 for the past 2 years.

“It was canceled because we couldn’t get our city permit that you have to have to hold the event,” said Rachel Allen, a member of the Athfest team. However, she says that all the relationships necessary to hold Athfest had been continued, “so there wasn’t much of a gap there getting back started.”

The Athfest music and arts festival is a 3 day gathering that features local artists and culture. It consists of outdoor stages, iconic local venues, an artist market, and even an area for children. After not taking place for the past two years due to concerns about COVID-19, the Athfest team is working hard to make it return on June 24th to June 26th of this year. 

“It’s an organization that works year round,” said Allen, referring to the Athfest team. “It’s a well oiled machine.”

Allen’s description of the team highlights how the return of Athfest is expected to be very smooth despite the 2 year gap since the previous festival. “It’s not like everybody just went away for two years,” Allen said. The Athfest team has been working through the COVID-19 pandemic and are prepared for their return. 

However, this year’s festival does have a change. 

“For the last many years we’ve had a system where you buy a wristband and can go to a dozen different venues where there is music,” Allen said. But this year, there are only two ticketed venues – the Georgia theater and the 40 watt club. “It had to do with the last minute nature of having to wait until the number where right covid wise” Allen said. By the time the Athfest team knew they would be putting on the festival, numerous venues had not opened back up due to concerns about COVID-19.

Despite this change, one of Allen’s comments assured that the music will remain the same. 

“We still had all the relationships with bands,” Allen said. Even though there has been trouble setting up the festival amongst the chaos brought by the pandemic, the same bands will perform like they have at the previous Athfests.

YSL RICO Charge

During the month of March, police arrested Young Stoner Life (YSL) record label rappers, Young Thug and Gunna as well as multiple other alleged YSL affiliates on a RICO charge. Authorities suspect that YSL is more than a record label, but a fully-run gang. 

Referred to as RICO, the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act was created by the federal government to combat and take down organized crime organizations, gangs and Mafia mobs. Although the RICO act targets these organizations, only 35 crimes make up the list associated with the act. These include gambling, murder, kidnapping, extortion, arson, robbery, bribery, death and counterfeiting. RICO contains four main elements: proof that an enterprise or organization exists, interstate commerce, employment by the enterprise, and that affairs were conducted by employees or associates of the enterprise. 

“The sentence one might receive for a RICO charge reaches up to 20 years and also depends on the defendant’s criminal history,” law student Lexi Deagen said. 

Prosecutors assume that Young Thug, also known as Jeffery Williams, acts as one of the ringleaders in the YSL gang. Williams was accused of renting a car that was used in the commission of murder and he was also charged with an attempt to murder rapper YFN Lucci. Legal authorities already had their eye out for Thug for previous crimes, such as possession of illegal substances and firearms. To further accuse Williams, authorities used lyrics from his previous songs as evidence. Although some may say that this violates the 1st Amendment’s freedom of expression, this amendment does not protect defendants from prosecutors using their song lyrics against them. 

Gunna, also known as Sergio Kitchens, received a RICO charge at the same time as Young Thug and turned himself in hours after Young Thug was arrested. Prosecutors have accused him of offenses such as stolen property and illegal drug distribution. Gunna was recently denied bail by a Georgia judge regarding his case, however, he still pleads innocent. 

“I listen to Young Thug every once in a while, I’m a pretty solid fan, especially Gunna, I think the RICO charge might honestly help the record label because people are going to want to help them. Also, the more it gets in the public eye it’s going to get the label more attention and make them more popular. For the rappers individually though, they’re in jail so that’s never good.” UGA journalism student Sebastian Baggett said.

Not only does this change impact the YSL rappers and the record label, but it affects the fans as well. With multiple popular artists signed to YSL, the charges against these rappers caused disappointment among fans. As a result, the label will lose both money and record sales.

“Those rappers are some of the most popular in Atlanta and we need them to put out music. As a fan, I don’t know what we’re going to do without their music. I don’t know for sure what they did and I’m kinda 50/50 about whether they did it or not, but I hope they are innocent because without them, what will we listen to?” said a UGA Student. 

Underneath the Fedora

A passionate professor with valuable experiences to share, Dr. Joe Dennis is leading an impressive career in the journalism field. Raised in Chicago, Dennis has spent the last 22 years in Georgia with his wife and three children. Recieving his PhD from the University of Georgia, Joe taught at that university for a couple of years. He currently teaches at Piedmont University where he can be found on campus wearing his iconic fedora.

Joe currently owns over 15 fedoras, and has been a collector since 2011. Aside from making a fashion statement, these hats have a unique connection to his culture.

Originally working as a disk jockey, Dennis proudly wore a hoop earring during his late-teens/early twenties. When he made a pivotal career switch by deciding to further his education, he wanted to change it up as he worked to receive his masters and doctorate degrees.

“The earring didn’t make much sense anymore. I thought, ‘I need something that defines me.’ Bruno Mars was popular around then, and he rocks the fedora. I came to learn that he’s Phillipino. I thought, ‘That’s it! I’m going to wear a fedora.'”

Joe’s heritage played a significant role in his upbringing. His mother and sister immigrated from the Philippines and did not leave their culture behind.

“The Phillipino side of my family dominated my family life growing up,” says Joe. He was raised to value family over everything and spent much of his time at family gatherings growing up.

“There are always these new family members you’re meeting,” he says, “I grew up around a lot of my Phillipino relatives.”

Dennis continues to stay in touch with his heritage by making traditional Phillipino dishes. He shares these dishes with his children and has introduced them to a series of meals. He truly values his culture and wants it to be a part of his children’s lives as well.

“We try to go to Chicago for certain holidays so that my kids can be around that extended Phillipino family,” he says.

Journalists spend much of their time working and talking with people, and can have a profound impact on someone’s life. Dennis believes that the morals instilled in him from a young age have helped him in this career. After writing about a man who was living in unbearable conditions due to his landlord, a whole series on slumlords was created. “Part of how I was raised was to always be thinking about how decisions impact people,” Dennis says, “I have always had a heart to look out for people that have been forgotten.”