Video: Office of Multicultural Affairs aimed to promote gender equality by celebrating Women’s History Month in March

The Office of Multicultural Affairs helped spread the word about Women’s History Month in March.

The office set up a booth in the atrium of the Marshall Student Center with stacks of blank cards for students to fill out with their reasons for why they support women. Free pins were also handed out to help spread awareness around campus.

According to Caitlin Jones, a coordinator for the LGBT programs and services for the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the objective of the event was for students and other passersby to understand the importance of the movement.

“Why does this matter?” Jones said.  “Why do people support women? Have people even thought about why they support women? So, we’re using this to start that thought process.”

Throughout the event, many people stopped by to offer their thoughts. At the end,  all completed cards were hung up along the office’s window on the third floor of the Marshall Center.

“Supporting women is more than wage equality,” Jones said. “It’s more than saying, ‘Oh, yes, women are important to me,’ but actually looking at class and race and some other pieces to be able to say, women matter.

“They deserve the same rights. The same equality. The same equity. And I’m willing to stand up and do that.”

Video: For Thelma Thompson, family is top priority

Thelma Thompson has demonstrated during the past three decades that family is the most important thing in her life.

Without hesitation, the Temple Terrace resident has seemingly always put her needs aside to help the ones she loves.

It started, Thompson said, after realizing her two grandchildren were not being cared for properly. Thompson — along with her late husband — decided to take on the challenging task of raising them.

But it wasn’t easy.

In 1985, when her husband became paralyzed from the neck down, Thompson faced the difficult reality that she would have to be the sole provider for the family in addition to raising the two children and caring for her husband.

“A lot of worry went through my mind,” Thompson recalled. “How was I going to take care of him? How was I going to meet my bills, since his pay was no longer there? How was I going to take of these two babies? But it all seemed to work out.”

Despite the struggles she faced, Thompson continued to help those in need. Her loving demeanor also drew in several troubled children outside her family.

Thompson received financial and physical aid from her daughter and son-in-law.

“I’ve always taken in kids who seemed to have problems. … ” Thompson said. “I guess it turned out to be between five and 10 kids that I have taken care of that were not mine in any shape or form.”

Nikki James, Thompson’s granddaughter, said she and her younger brother could have potentially lived drastically different lives if it weren’t for Thompson’s generosity.

“They (Thompson and her husband) were always there, and they took me in when the younger parents couldn’t handle the responsibility, and they have made a huge difference in my life,” James said.

Though there were plenty of hardships along the way, Thompson, now 80, said she always remained upbeat.

“I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” she said.

Video: C.R. Willey brings championship pedigree to USF disc golf team

C.R. Willey is not your average USF coach. He is a four-time disc golf champion.

And with Willey’s help, the USF disc golf team has a chance at the top 10 this year and — possibly — a national title.

Willey, a veteran of the Professional Disc Golf Association, has trained some of the top professionals in the league, including 12-time champion, Ken Climo.

“It’s nice that you are actually learning from somebody that has actually won (championships),” said Chris Crist, USF’s team founder and captain.  “He’s been playing for so long. He’s taught a lot of people how to play and a lot of pros how to play.”

While Willey was on the PDGA tour, he was approached by some of USF’s players, who asked him if he would be interested in coaching the team.

Willey didn’t hesitate in saying yes.

“Heck, yeah,” Willey said. “I would like to see USF win a national championship in disc golf. I’d like to see them win it in football, too — baseball or anything for the university. Let’s take it to the next level.”

Willey also played baseball at USF for a time. But one day, when he saw students playing ultimate frisbee, Willey knew his love and passion was for disc golf.

With more than 40 PDGA victories, he is considered the best thing that has happened to USF by its young group of players.

“We’ve qualified for the National Collegiate Championship, and we almost beat the reigning champs in a qualifying tournament that the USF team ran in Largo,” Willey said.

The National Collegiate Disc Golf Championship starts on April 15 in North Augusta, South Carolina.

Video: Christopher Hethcox turns lifelong passion for cheerleading into remarkable career


TRINITY — As an aspiring male cheerleading coach, Christopher Hethcox seemingly had the odds stacked against him early in life.

“The stigma of being a male cheerleader was something that was rough in the rural parts of Alabama,” Hethcox said.

But Hethcox didn’t let it bring him down. At age 13, Hethcox knew he had a passion for tumbling and gymnastics.

Twenty-two years later, Hethcox has turned that passion into a career as an instructor with All-Star Cheerleading at the Suncoast Gymnastics Academy in Odessa.

Though the profession does not necessarily have a large salary, Hethcox said he isn’t in it for the money — he just wants to help his athletes grow.

“I think I love the process of the training, performing, watching the development over the year of an athlete that’s had this place where they started,” Hethcox said.  “And then, where they end up.”

Hethcox coaches multiple levels of cheerleading with All-Star Cheerleading and has won multiple championships.

Competing at that level, Hethcox said,  is something that can give competitors butterflies. But for him, it’s all about keeping his team calm.

Mark Sczcepanik, whose daughter is coached by Hethcox, described him as passionate and driven.

“Coach Chris has done an incredible job with our daughter,” Sczcepanik said. “She went from never cheering ever six months ago to just doing an incredible job, thanks to his fine coaching.”

Hethcox doesn’t need praise, though. He just wants it to be about the kids.

“I want them to become sisters that they would do anything for each other,” Hethcox said.

Florida Focus 02-10-2015

In today’s episode of Florida Focus: doctors say St. Pete man is too incompetent to stand trial; Jeb Bush releases thousands of e-mails to the public; Home Depot adds over a thousand jobs to the Tampa Bay market; Feeding America Tampa Bay teams with the State Fair; the USF women’s basketball team makes history.

 

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Clearwater Voters Receive Mail-In Ballots

This episode of Florida Focus, for Oct. 6, covers news from around the region and state.

Thousands of Hillsborough County voters received mail-in ballots this week. Voters will be able to request mail-in ballots until Oct. 29.

Clearwater Police are searching for two suspects using stolen credit cards from vehicle burglaries.

A 15-year-old Tarpon Springs girl was the victim of a hit and run accident. The girl was seriously injured and airlifted to a nearby hopsital. The driver later returned and was arrested for fleeing the scene of a crime. 

A seaplane crashed during a lesson near Davis Islands Park, police reported that two people were rescued and they are in good condition.  

East Lake Community Library offers a Halloween costume swap for parents. Costumes can be swapped or bought new for $5. All proceeds will go to the library. 

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Convenience store binds community

The building is small, the parking lot only dimly lit and no neon sign indicating whether it is open or closed. But Bull Market has become a fixture in this area, a rare common experience for all college students and the families who live along 42nd Street.

It’s a stop-and-go place and there is a constant stream of people walking in, grabbing what they need and walking out. There are regular customers and transient types coming in as a last resort, as well as people using the parking lot as a meet-up spot for carpools or cab rides. And while there isn’t much tying these people together aside from the street they live on, Bull Market gives the neighborhood on 42nd Street a shared space where they can finally feel like neighbors.

Inside there are only five aisles, but it has almost every amenity needed: snack foods, cleaning supplies, toiletries and limited grocery items. Nazia Hirani is a sophomore, a USF transfer student from Georgia, and she likes how close the store is.

Continue reading “Convenience store binds community”

A quiet encounter with Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall hugs a grade-school student before giving an impromptu speech to the children participating in Roots and Shoots, a community action and learning program, at the USF Botanical Gardens. “Young people can do an awful lot if you know what the problems are,” Goodall said. The primatologist asked the student audience to raise their hands if they wanted to help animals, other people and the environment. Almost all students raised their hands wildly. (Photo by Paige Butterfield)