In this news brief: Jury selection in a quadruple murder trial begins; A Tampa woman is injured in an early morning shooting; The University of South Florida holds its first annual “Slut Walk”; Tampa International Airport is growing, adding 69 new shops; Dave and Buster’s opens its first in Tampa.
In December of 2016, the University of South Florida named Charlie Strong the new head coach of the football team, following Willie Taggart.
With a few months under his belt, Strong is excited to build on the strong foundation that is already in place.
“I saw the program here and just knew that it had the chance to really develop and become something special,” Strong said.
In a short amount of time, the new head coach has already had an impact on the program for spring ball.
“We are just moving in the right direction, fast, and I believe he will have a great impact,” Elkanah Dillon, tight end, said.
Strong’s coaching career has included 15 years in Florida, sporadically, since 1983, according to ESPN. During that time, he built relationships with high school coaches, players and community leaders. These relationships may help Strong to continue creating strong recruiting classes in seasons to come.
USF football is on the rise. They won 11 games last season, but Charlie Strong wants to continue pushing the team to improve and make it to conference title games.
“That’s what you play for,” Strong said. “You want to make sure you go and compete and win.”
The University of South Florida is filled with students from all over the world, and if we took a closer look, we can see all of the amazing characteristics that the students bring with them.
Rafael Migoyo is a senior graduating Dec. 10, 2016 with a degree in Aging Sciences. His parents brought him to the United States from Cuba at the age of five so that he could receive a better education.
When he isn’t busy doing research, Migoyo enjoys photography and investing.
“I learned those things when I was thinking about the opportunity that I was given coming into the United States…” said Migoyo. “So I said to myself, ‘what’s something my mom and dad aren’t doing because they weren’t raised here?’”
Once he graduates, Migoyo wants to take a year away from school to work on some research with his friend, and research adviser, Angie Sardina. From there he will continue his education so that he can specialize in Geriatrics.
“Rafael has a bright future ahead of him,” said Sardina.
When asked where he would like to be in the future, Rafael stated that he wants to merge his two passions: Medicine and Photography.
“I would like to marry both of those things and travel the world as a doctor helping people, but also doing photojournalism,” said Migoyo
The USF Football team is 6-1, but you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking in the stands.
After a massive showing by the students against FSU, the football team has been left with little fan support in the student section. The 11,000 student representatives who made the commute to Raymond James Stadium for the FSU game devolved into a crowd of 2,000 two weeks later for a homecoming week matchup against East Carolina.
“I was extremely disappointed in that game,” Student Bulls Club President Hailey Piana said. “When you ask around, when you put on Facebook ‘Hey, where are y’all at?’ people say ‘Oh, well it’s a noon game, it’s hot.’ It’s all these excuses.”
In fact, Facebook class pages have been rife with arguments revolving around attendance for USF football games. There are many students who feel the football team deserves better attendance, and have been unafraid to let their peers know.
None of it has changed the attendance numbers, however, as the student attendance for the following week tallied 3,000 students.
Longtime fan and USF alumni Collin Sherwin weighed in, saying that the football culture of USF simply fell off following a memorable 2007 season.
“USF was the No. 2 team in the country at the time and it just sort of took off and became part of this campus. What happened from the early part from this decade, forward, was a lot of that enthusiasm for this program just fell off. That’s got to change for USF to get where it wants to go [as a program].”
The University of South Florida was just named the best 4-year college in the nation for veterans.
USF’s Office of Veteran Success serves over 1500 student vets. Some of the programs that they offer are vet-to-vet tutoring, mentoring, success classes, VA work-studies and community networking events. The purpose of each program is to provide veterans with the necessary skills to succeed.
The office also works with USF staff members to help veterans transition back into school. Staff members can attend the “Got Your Six” workshop, which teaches them how to become better resources for student veterans.
Daniel McNeill is the office manager for the Office of Veterans Success. He says that the program is an overview of common stereotypes, strengths, weaknesses and ways to help veterans adapt back into academia.
“We created this presentation to educate USF faculty and staff to allow our veterans to transition more easily,” said McNeill.
McNeill also said that one thing he hopes that staff members take away from “Got Your Six” is that the transition phase isn’t something to take lightly. Student veterans are making drastic life changes, and they need support from faculty during this time.
Dr. Laura Anderson, a chemistry professor at USF, attended “Got Your Six” because she wanted to learn different ways to help student veterans in her classes.
Student veteran, Victor Perez, served in the Navy and is transitioning back into school. He says that the office has really helped him get back into the school mindset.
“The office of Veteran Success has taught me about all of the benefits that I could be eligible for… especially vet-to-vet tutoring [and] mentoring,” said Perez.
The USF Men’s Soccer team faces their toughest challenge of the year on Tuesday against last year’s College Cup runners-up, Clemson.
USF (4-3-2) started the season slowly after a string of injuries and other issues forced key players to miss time. For many teams, this wouldn’t be much of an issue, but Coach George Kiefer loaded the schedule with big names like Maryland and Virginia Tech early in the season.
However, a long stand at home gave USF time to get sorted out and start a winning streak. The Bulls won three games straight at home before defeating UCF on the road Saturday.
“It’s a great boost for us,” said senior Nazeem Bartman. “As you know we started off the season a little bit slow, but we’ve won the last four games now, it’s a great confidence boost for myself and the rest of the team too.”
Players wouldn’t emphasize the game too much, but Coach Kiefer had a bit more to say about the visiting Clemson Tigers.
“I’d hate to emphasize one game more than the next, but I would take my hat off to Mike Noonan,” Kiefer said. “He used to be a Brown [University] so he’s used to teams not wanting to travel to him. So the fact he’s at Clemson, willing to come back to us, I give him a lot of credit for that. We’re very excited to have him here.”
The Bulls and the Tigers kick off at 7 p.m. at Corbett Soccer Stadium on Tuesday.
Whether USF fans cheered on the White team or the Green team, a new experience was ushered in at this year’s spring football game.
Billed as the Bulls Block Party, the event started two hours before kickoff as 4,418 fans made their way through the Corbett Stadium gates.
“It’s creating the feel of the tailgate party we have in front of Raymond James stadium, but bringing it here to the spring game on campus,” said Leni Baga, USF Director of Event Marketing and Licensing.
The Bulls Block Party included bounce houses, food trucks, and a student tailgate section. Bulls Radio resident DJs provided music before the game. A student band performed during the post-game football autograph line.
“The spring game has been fun on campus,” said USF student, Taylor Sanchez. “But I think this is really the first year that they made it its own event.”
USF’s campus soccer stadium has hosted the football preview for three years, providing an opportunity for the athletics department to build new traditions.
According to Assistant Director of Athletics for Marketing Adam Schemm, one of those traditions was the Create Your Own T-shirt Station. Fans narrowed down 12 design options to three that they could choose to get printed on a T-shirt.
“The fans really like them,” Schemm said. “It’s something different from what you would be able to get at your normal retail store.”
Regular football season begins for the Bulls on Saturday, September 3 against Towson University at Raymond James Stadium.
The University of South Florida women’s basketball team is returning to the NCAA Tournament after earning a No. 6 seed during this year’s Selection Show on Monday.
The team joined fans at the USF Sun Dome for a selection show watch party. Players had front row seats to the screen, to watch the announcement was broadcasted nationally on ESPN.
“It was nerve-racking to think that you’ll be that next team called,” senior guard Courtney Williams said. “I’m excited that we finally got our name called and the teams that we’re playing.”
This year’s tournament begins for the Bulls in Los Angeles, where they will play a ranked Colorado State team currently on a 28-game winning streak. The winner of that matchup will go on to play either UCLA or Hawaii in the second round.
This group of seniors brings experience to the program’s twelfth post-season tournament appearance in 13 years. Three of the team’s four NCAA Tournament runs happened in the past four years.
“They’re a veteran team,” USF coach Jose Fernandez said. “They know what’s at stake. Your next game can be your last.”
USF opened the season with a victory over NCAA Tournament team Jacksonville before going on to eventually defeat top 50 rating percentage index teams Chattanooga and Oklahoma State. The Bulls maintained their AP top 25 ranking all season and finished the season with a No. 21 RPI.
Hitting a round ball with a round bat might be the single most difficult thing to do in sports. Baseball players of the University of South Florida spend a lot of time in the film room before they step inside the batters box.
“We’re able to look at guys swings in practice, in games, and in intersquads,” Bulls Head Coach Mark Kingston said. “How we like to use video the most is get a good library of when a guy is really swinging it well, and when he may be struggling, and then what we can do is put those videos next to each other, and you see what the differences are.”
Assistant Coach Mike Current is the czar of the film room and helps to mold his players into complete hitters.
“I think video is a big part of the instruction process. Sometimes it’s difficult to explain something to a guy and him listen to what you’re saying and understand how to translate it into action,” Current said. “But when he can actually see what’s going on and see what you’re talking about it’s a lot easier to make adjustments.”
Technological advances have ensured that players like freshman Garrett Zech have advantages that generation before his did not.
“The work we do in the film with Coach Current has definitely helped my mechanics and ability to compete at this level,” Zech said.
When Kingston played baseball professionally, the ability to watch video was not as easy as it is today.
“They’d sometimes bring out a camera, and you could watch it or you’d see the highlights on the news that night and tape it,” Kingston said. “These days guys can get instant feedback. I think the instant feedback is really the key to how video is used these days.”
No. 19 USF women’s basketball nearly reached the centennial scoring mark for the third time this season in a 97-82 victory over the Memphis Tigers.
The Bulls made 46 percent of their 80 field goal attempts to split the season series against Memphis and keep their postseason tournament hopes alive.
“We’ve been in the Top-20 in both polls all year long,” USF coach Jose Fernandez said. “Those polls don’t matter in that (NCAA Tournament) committee room. We don’t want to leave it in the committee’s hands.”
USF fought its way out of a seven-point deficit early in the first half. During that time, the Bulls had five of their seven turnovers.
Senior guard Courtney Williams began the effort to pull away after she hit a 3-pointer with five minutes left in the first half. Senior point guard Shalethia Stringfield and sophomore forward Laura Ferriera followed with 3-pointers of their own during a 9-0 run.
“We just needed to hurry and get on a run so they wouldn’t come back into the game,” Alisia Jenkins said.
The senior forward finished with 20 points and team-leading 17 rebounds.
Williams, Stringfield, Ferreira, and freshman forward Kitija Laksa all also scored over 10 points on Sunday.
“For us to continue to sustain and have that lead, I think it was because of how well we rebounded and took care of the basketball.”
USF will travel to Oklahoma for a midseason matchup against Tulsa before returning for the final home game against Temple on Saturday.
“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.