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Archive for August, 2017

Director delivers ‘Badass’ book

It was a party atmosphere at Sherry Stanfa-Stanley’s book launch Aug. 19 at Barnes & Noble at the Shops at Fallen Timbers in Maumee. The only thing missing? The author’s drink of choice: Bloody Marys.

“I was told no alcohol, sorry,” she told the standing-room-only crowd of about 150.

UT employee and alumna Sherry Stanfa-Stanley read an excerpt from her book, “Finding My Badass Self: A Year of Truths and Dares,” at Barnes & Noble at the Shops at Fallen Timbers in Maumee. It was the largest crowd to attend a signing event there, according to Jana Washington, store merchandise manager.

“Speaking to an empty room is awkward; this is terrifying,” she said. “I know quite a bit about terrifying and awkward.”

She was referring to the 52/52 Project, which she started in 2013. For one year, Stanfa-Stanley challenged herself with a new experience every week as she approached age 52.

“I wasn’t in a rut; I was in a crater. And I just wanted to shake things up a bit,” she said. “After traveling to Italy by myself in 2011, I realized if I could do that, there’s probably a lot of things I can do if I went outside my comfort zone.”

Her amazing, crazy and inspiring year included suiting up as Rocksy the mascot for a UT soccer game; babysitting quadruplets; going on a raid with the vice squad and SWAT team; spending 24 hours with nuns at a convent in Joliet, Ill.; performing as a mime outside a shopping center in Newport, Ky.; and crashing a wedding reception — and catching the bride’s bouquet.

“I took those weird and wonderful experiences and wove them into a book,” the director of communication and fund stewardship at the UT Foundation told the group.

“Finding My Badass Self: A Year of Truths and Dares” was published by She Writes Press and released Aug. 15. The 321-page book is $16.95 and available at most area bookstores and online through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book retailers.

As folks flooded in and peeked around book shelves, Stanfa-Stanley read three excerpts from her debut.

She said “Catching a Flight to Nowhere” was one of her favorite adventures; she packed for an unknown destination, went to the Detroit Metro Airport, and booked the next flight out. It was winter, and, luckily, she jetted off to Fort Myers, Fla.

Conversely, “On the Ropes” was the least successful venture, she said. Stanfa-Stanley and two friends decided to skip the high-ropes course at the UT Student Recreation Center after seeing it was 35 feet above the gym floor — and watching an athletic college student slip from a beam and dangle by her safety harness.

Sherry Stanfa-Stanley suited up as Rocksy during a soccer game and exuded good cheer as part of the 52/52 Project.

“It’s obvious I can’t get away from the nude beach outing,” Stanfa-Stanley said and introduced her mother, Gloria Stanfa, a retired UT secretary, who accompanied her on the trip.

“‘Just be sure to mention we both kept our clothes on,’ my mother said,” Stanfa-Stanley read from the chapter titled “Baring it at the Beach.” “‘Um, maybe I didn’t clarify that,’ I replied. ‘I’ll be going au natural, too’ ‘Oh.’ She pondered this. ‘Well, then please don’t sit next to me. I saw you naked as a baby, and I really don’t care to anymore.’”

As laughter erupted during the readings, the author told the audience, “You’re a sadistic lot.”

Many seem to take pleasure in reading about Stanfa-Stanley’s frightfully fun escapades. Her debut has received raves from book bloggers, including dearauthor.com, bloglovin.com and abookishabode.com, as well as positive reviews from trade journals, including Kirkus Reviews, Midwest Book Review and Foreword Reviews. In addition, Buzzfeed.com named the book one of five fall reads “guaranteed to make you laugh out loud.”

In “Finding My Badass Self: A Year of Truths and Dares,” Sherry Stanfa-Stanley writes about the 52/52 Project adventures, which included performing as a mime in front of a Kentucky shopping center.

Even a Los Angeles-based production company headed by a well-known actor/comedian inquired about film and TV rights.

“Usually nothing comes of these requests; it’s happened to a few author friends,” Stanfa-Stanley, ever the realist, said. “But a girl can dream.”

Meanwhile, the 1983 UT alumna is scheduling book-signing events. She’ll have a booth at the Roche de Boeuf Festival in Waterville Saturday, Sept. 23, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. And a reading and meet-and-greet will be held Saturday, Oct. 7, at the UT Barnes & Noble Bookstore at the Gateway; the time will be announced when the Homecoming football game kickoff is determined.

For the latest on appearances, check sherrystanfa-stanley.com, which links to facebook.com/The52at52Project, where the witty writer chronicled her derring-do — and daring don’t — and has more than 5,000 readers.

“I certainly wouldn’t say I’m fearless, but I’m desensitized. I worry less,” she told the crowd.

“My first published book out in the world at age 55 tells you it’s truly never too late to change your life. Maybe my stories will inspire you — or at least give you a couple laughs.”

Former women’s basketball player signs pro contract in Great Britain

Former Toledo women’s basketball player Janice Monakana has signed a professional contract to play for the Nottingham Wildcats in her home country of Great Britain.

The Wildcats announced the roster move Aug. 29 as they look to mount a challenge for their third straight Women’s British Basketball League (WBBL) title.

Monakana

Monakana becomes the sixth UT women’s basketball player to play professionally under three-time Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year Tricia Cullop, joining Melissa Goodall (Italy and Spain), Naama Shafir (Israel), Andola Dortch (Belarus), Inma Zanoguera (Italy) and most recently Brenae Harris (Spain) on that list.

“I’m truly ecstatic to have Janice on board with us as we prepare for this tough season ahead,” said Nottingham Head Coach Dave Greenaway in a statement on the team’s official website. “Janice has the capability to make big plays and will be a factor in us achieving any success. Her college career was littered with honors, and she captained her side to winning the MAC Tournament.”

The Women’s British Basketball League is an initiative between the British Basketball League, Basketball England and the top 10 women’s clubs in Great Britain. It is the top-level women’s basketball league in the United Kingdom.

This past year, Monakana averaged 12.1 points, 6.0 rebounds, 0.9 assists and 1.4 steals in 25.5 minutes per game. The 2016-17 second-team All-MAC honoree ranked seventh in the league in free-throw percentage (.785, 106 of 135), 20th in overall rebounding and 21st in scoring.

Monakana led Toledo to the fifth most wins in program history in 2016-17 with a mark of 25-9 that included a MAC Championship and an appearance in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament for the first time since 2001.

A two-time all-conference performer, Monakana wrapped up her UT career ninth in school history in free-throw percentage (.777, 313 of 403), 10th in free throws made (313) and 16th in scoring (1,172 points).

“Nottingham is a team I’ve always admired and respected, so I’m excited for the opportunity to bring my talents to them and also the Women’s British Basketball League,” said Monakana in a statement on the team’s official website. “I’m looking forward to the season starting and will bring competitiveness, explosive play, and versatility on the offensive and defensive end, as well as experience and adding depth.”

Sessions slated Aug. 31 to learn about volunteering abroad

Students: Have you thought about volunteering abroad?

As an alternative to studying abroad, students are spending two to four weeks volunteering in remote villages in foreign countries, helping undeveloped communities by building sustainable infrastructure, teaching English, and working to protect endangered species and their threatened habitats. 

Growth International Volunteer Excursions (GIVE) offers this opportunity to travel the world and experience different cultures and countries, while also making a positive impact while volunteering. GIVE volunteers can help to empower local villages in Nicaragua, Tanzania, Thailand and Laos. 

“After working with these remote communities for years, GIVE has built multiple schools and water tanks out of plastic water bottles, taught conversational English to thousands of children, helped to save more than 30,000 sea turtles, and assisted the rescue of countless moon bears and elephants from poachers,” Alexa Smith, GIVE global engagement specialist, said.

In addition to helping make a difference, volunteers have the chance to participate in cultural and adventure activities, including overnight safaris, trekking with elephants, language lessons, traditional cooking lessons, sand-boarding down an active volcano, scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming with dolphins, surfing, cave exploring and more.

Learn more about GIVE Thursday, Aug. 31, in Thompson Student Union 2562. Information sessions will take place at 9:30 a.m., 10:15 a.m., 11 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:15 p.m., 2 p.m., 2:45 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 4:15 p.m. and 5 p.m.

For more information, go to givevolunteers.org or contact smith at lex.givevolunteers@gmail.com.

Rockets pitch in to assist victims of Hurricane Harvey

The American Red Cross of Northwest Ohio, assisted by The University of Toledo Student Government and Blue Key, will collect donations at the UT football game Thursday, Aug. 31, in support of the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in Texas.

“Our thoughts and concerns are with the people affected by Hurricane Harvey,” said Vice President and Director of Athletics Mike O’Brien. “With the support of the American Red Cross of Northwest Ohio, along with the UT Student Government and Blue Key, we will help the relief efforts in any way possible. We know our fans will make a difference in this endeavor.”

As the gates open at 5:30 p.m. inside the Glass Bowl, volunteers will be collecting cash or checks to assist those who have been affected by the storm. All checks should be made payable to the American Red Cross.

There also are additional ways to support the relief efforts. Rocket fans can text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. In addition, fans are encouraged to visit redcross.org to donate online.

“On behalf of the American Red Cross of Northwest Ohio, I would like to thank the Toledo Athletic Department, the UT Student Government and Blue Key,” said Rachel Hepner-Zowdony, executive director of the American Red Cross of Northwest Ohio. “We appreciate their support along with all of the communities throughout northwest Ohio during this relief effort.”

The Toledo Rockets will play Elon Thursday, Aug. 31, at 7 p.m. in the Glass Bowl.

Alumnus to inspire, sign book Aug. 31 at Gateway

Jacob Spellis will sign copies of his book, “More Than a Statistic: Stop Being Average,” Thursday, Aug. 31, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Barnes & Noble University Bookstore at the Gateway.

He shares his story to give others hope.

“I was a high school dropout and spent much of my teenage years walking around Toledo’s east side using and selling drugs. My addiction left me isolated and homeless,” Spellis said. “Every day I woke up and said, ‘Man I don’t want to do this anymore,’ but the addiction just hijacks you and all of your pleasure-seeking abilities; it is like experiencing the best and worst feelings at the same time.

“For seven years, this cycle continued, and my mother expected to see me die from my addiction.”

Then a drug trafficking conviction changed his life. Behind bars for nine months, he began to turn things around.

“I acquired my GED from the Lucas County Correctional Treatment Facility, and I had a vision to revamp and reform the criminal justice system,” Spellis said. “In order to do this, I knew that I needed to further my education, and The University of Toledo was there every step of the way.”

With the help of campus support groups and tutors, he was able to get ready for college-level classes — and succeed. He graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in social work.

While pursing a master’s degree at the University of Michigan, Spellis worked as a graduate assistant in the UT College of Health and Human Services’ Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute.

All along the way, he helped others.

“I began speaking to individuals in treatment centers, jails, schools and colleges, which led to my desire to help people reach their full potential,” Spellis said. “As a reformed convicted felon, I advocate for social justice and for other returning citizens in my community. My goal is to revamp the criminal justice system and address disparities within different cultures and communities.

“Social work is a career for most, but a lifestyle to me. On a daily basis, I assist individuals with mental illness, legal issues and substance use disorders to work toward healthy adequate lifestyles.”

After receiving a master’s degree in social work from UM in 2016, Spellis started More Than a Statistic Academy, a nonprofit re-entry coalition in northwest Ohio that helps convicted felons find jobs and those suffering from substance abuse obtain stability and long-term recovery.

His book also was published last year.

“My life is much different from when I was buried in my addiction. I have a beautiful wife, daughter and son,” Spellis said. “I now have over five years of experience in motivational speaking and am passionate about community development.”

Coaches pick Rockets to win MAC West Division

The University of Toledo football team was picked to finish in first place in the Mid-American Conference’s West Division in a ballot of the league’s head coaches that was released Aug. 28 by the conference office.

The Rockets received seven first-place votes and a total of 66 points in the annual poll, eight points ahead of second-place Western Michigan.

Senior quarterback Logan Woodside is back to the lead Rockets offense. Last season, he completed 45 touchdown passes, tops in the nation.

Ohio was picked to repeat as MAC East Division champion, followed by Miami.

Last month, the Rockets also were picked by the league’s media to win the West Division crown, as well as the 2017 MAC Championship Game.

Toledo was 9-4 in Head Coach Jason Candle’s debut in 2016, earning a berth into the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl.

UT returns one of the nation’s most explosive offenses. Led by senior quarterback Logan Woodside, Toledo averaged 38.0 points per game and led the Mid-American Conference in total offense with a school-record 517.8 yards per game in 2016. Woodside paced the nation with 45 touchdown passes and was named a Heisman contender by the Heisman Trophy Trust. Two of his favorite targets are back — Cody Thompson (64 receptions, 11 TDs, 19.8 yards per catch) and Jon’Vea Johnson (40 reception, 10 TDs and 19.3 yards per catch) — as is 2015 second-team All-MAC running back Terry Swanson. On defense, the Rockets return seven starters, including All-MAC linebacker Ja’Wuan Woodley.

The Rockets open their season at home vs. Elon Thursday, Aug. 31, at 7 p.m.

Individual and season tickets are available at the UT Ticket Office, online at utrockets.com, or by calling 419.530.GOLD (4653). Tickets are half-off for UT employees and retirees, and UT students are admitted free to home games with ID.

Fans: Plan ahead for driving, parking at football game Aug. 31

The University of Toledo Athletic Department announced parking lot information on campus for the football season opener Thursday, Aug. 31.

The Rockets will host Elon at 7 p.m. in the Glass Bowl. Gates will open at 5:30 p.m.

With classes in session, fans are advised to arrive on campus at least one hour before kickoff.

Fans also should be aware that due to construction, traffic on Bancroft Street near campus is one-lane in both directions. Using alternate routes to parking lots via Secor Road, Dorr Street and Douglas Road is strongly advised.

Some parking lots will be restricted in preparation for the game. The following parking areas near the Glass Bowl will be closed to general public, employee and student parking, and are available by parking pass only on game day: lots 5, 6, 9, 10, 18, 28. Parking lots 3 and 4 will close at noon to general public, employee and student parking.

New this year, parking fees will not be collected in general admission parking areas, which can be found in lots 1, 2, 12, 13, 19, 20, 25 and 26, as well as the east and west parking ramps.

Fans are encouraged to arrive by 6 p.m. to locate the best possible parking spaces.

Access to the ticket office at Savage Arena will be permitted from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on game day. Fans should access the ticket office via lot 4 off Douglas Road. The box office at the Glass Bowl will open at 3 p.m.

For tickets, call 419.530.GOLD (4653) or order online at UTRockets.com.

Tickets are half-off for UT employees and retirees, and UT students are admitted free to home games with ID.

Bancroft and Cheltenham intersection to close for sewer project

The intersection of Bancroft Street and Cheltenham Road is scheduled to close Tuesday, Sept. 5, as crews continue installing a new sewer line.

This closure is expected to last through Wednesday, Sept. 20, and will affect both vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

While the Cheltenham Road crosswalk closed Aug. 29, pedestrians can still cross Bancroft Street until next week.

“This is a high-traffic area where campus community members walk daily. Detour signs will be installed to direct pedestrians to the intersection of University Hills Boulevard and North Towerview Boulevard, where signals will allow them to safely cross Bancroft Street,” Doug Collins, director of grounds and transportation, said.

The speed limit in the work zone on Bancroft Street was lowered from 35 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour this week, Collins added.

“We ask everyone to be patient, drive slowly, be aware of pedestrians, and for those on foot to be extra cautious as well,” he said.

After this portion of the work is complete, lane restrictions will continue to move westbound to Meadowwood Drive until the sewer line project is finished. Traffic will be maintained in both directions during this time.

“We will keep the campus community informed as we receive updates from the city of Toledo on this project,” Collins said.

To avoid congestion, students, employees and visitors to Main Campus are encouraged to use the west entrance off Secor Road or the south entrance off Dorr Street.

Rocket Fan Fest expanding in 2017

Rocket Fan Fest will be bigger and better than ever at the first four home football games.

The community tailgate will take place three hours prior to kickoff and will extend into the Flatlands to feature live music, food — including Deet’s BBQ — beverages and snacks from Aramark, along with the Bud Light Beer Garden.

All food and beverages are available for purchase. Those 21 years and older must show a valid ID and will receive a wristband upon entrance into the beer garden.

“We are always looking to enhance the game day experience at the Glass Bowl,” said Heather Lutz, assistant athletic director for marketing, sales and fan experience. “Rocket Fan Fest provides our fans with an opportunity to come out early and enjoy some great music, food and beverages before the game.”

Live music will begin two-and-a-half hours prior to kickoff and will continue until 30 minutes before game time. Performing through the first four home games will be:

• Aug. 31 vs. Elon — Arctic Clam;

• Sept. 16 vs. Tulsa — Last Born Sons;

• Oct. 7 vs. Eastern Michigan — MidNight Special (courtesy of The Blade); and

• Oct. 21 vs. Akron — Distant Cousinz.

For the home opener against Elon Thursday, Aug. 31, and the Saturday, Sept. 16, contest against Tulsa, Fan Fest will begin at 4 p.m., weather permitting. Start times of Rocket Fan Fest for Eastern Michigan (Oct.7) and Akron (Oct.21) are still to be determined.

Lutz thanked UT’s community partners True House of Munch, IHeart Media and The Blade for their support of Rocket Fan Fest.

Individual and season tickets are available at the UT Ticket Office, online at utrockets.com, or by calling 419.530.GOLD (4653). Tickets are half-off for UT employees and retirees, and UT students are admitted free to home games with ID.

First football pep rally to take place Aug. 30

See you at the pep rally! The University of Toledo and Toledo Athletics will host three pep rallies on campus for the 2017 football season.

Fans are invited to psych up Wednesday, Aug. 30, Thursday, Sept. 14, and Wednesday, Oct. 4.

Each pep rally will begin approximately at 12:30 p.m. and will be held at the Thompson Student Union steps on Centennial Mall.

Campus pep rallies will feature the Rocket football team, the UT Marching Band, the UT cheerleaders, Rocky the Rocket, and Football Head Coach Jason Candle.

On Thursday, Sept. 14, as part of the 100 Years of Rocket Football Celebration, former UT and NFL quarterback Bruce Gradkowski will speak to the crowd.

UT students can earn Rocket Gold Reward points by checking in at the event via the Rocket Gold Rewards app through the SuperFanU smartphone app to win awards and prizes throughout the season while receiving giveaways from local sponsors.

Athletic Department personnel also will be on hand to offer discounted season tickets for faculty and staff.

UT will take on Elon Thursday, Aug. 31, at 7 p.m. in the Glass Bowl.

Season tickets begin at $80 and are available at the UT Athletic Ticket Office, online here, or by calling 419.530.GOLD (4653). Tickets are half-off for UT employees and retirees, and UT students are admitted free to home games with ID.