A Letter from USC Gamecock Fans

By: Stacy Thompson

As I sit here only a few hours removed from an impulsive trip to Madison Square Garden and only a few minutes removed from watching Dawn Staley lead our Gamecock women’s basketball team to another Final Four, I can’t help but think of Frank Martin’s open letter to South Carolina fans following an improbable win over legendary Coach K and the Duke Blue Devils. The letter (if you haven’t seen it, please take the time to read it as it is everything that is good about college athletics) was heartfelt and heart wrenching, as it paid homage to long-suffering Gamecock fans and gave insight on the soul of a winner.  As soon as I read it, and because I’m a lawyer, I immediately thought of counter-points and arguments to convince Frank that he should not be thanking us, but instead, we should be thanking him.  And Frank is not the only one who earned our appreciation, but the missive below pertains to Frank, Dawn, Coach Tanner, Dr. Pastides and the other generally nameless, but vital, cogs in the wheel of Gamecock athletics.

Dear Frank and Dawn:

How’s everybody feeling?

Yeah, we’re feeling pretty darn good too. In the past 30 hours, much of the nation learned what I have known since moving here 39 years ago—what we have here in Columbia is very special. And recently, we happen to play some pretty good basketball (ask Duke, and Florida, and Florida State, and, well, I could go on…)

This didn’t just happen, and South Carolina basketball hasn’t always been so good. Frank, when you said this I thought back to the years of watching really good teams lose out in the first round to Coppin State, to days when the women’s team was only an afterthought, and to days when the best entertainment to be found was Cocky precariously hanging from a rope in the rafters to complete a lawsuit-waiting-to-happen dunk. Time and time again we were given hope that this year would be our “Wait ‘Till Next Year”-year only to fall short and be overjoyed with 2 NIT titles. Not to say that those titles were not hard-fought and earned, but falling short as a Gamecock fan became too much of the norm and reduced our dreams to little more than being satisfied with a win over that team from the Upstate and avoiding a forty point loss to the cellar-dweller of the SEC.

Yes, we are special for many reasons — we are 13th in the nation for attendance at the men’s games and 1st (2 years running) in attendance at the women’s games — not a fluke that this has happened given the outstanding product on the floor you both provide to all that enter Colonial Life Arena.

Frank, in your letter you cite three things you want from your fans — our time, our money and our passion. From a fan perspective, let me say that all we want are the same three things from you and your teams —

1) Your time — I have played collegiate ball and know the commitment and dedication it takes, so thank you for your time and thank your teams for the time they spend not only in practice, but in the weight room and study hall as well as the time not spent with family and friends in the pursuit of excellence on the court.

2) Your money — Let’s be honest, Frank and Dawn (as well as Ray, Dr. Pastides and scores of others within the athletic department) could make more elsewhere, and are worth more than they are actually paid. We are lucky to have them and should continue the trend of making sure that Gamecock Nation makes not only the best choice from the heart, but the wallet as well.

3) Your passion — Having been a fan all these years, and having received three degrees from this university, there is no doubt as to where my loyalty and passion lie. But you, Frank and Dawn, came here with no known ties, no reason to support us and without any inkling of the challenges that were ahead of you in basically building programs from the ground up. The fact that you both have embraced, encouraged and relished in the passion of our fan base is not lost on Gamecock Nation. We love you for it and we will continue to support you because of it.

Frank, you said you told your players the following: “If you want to get better, if you’re willing to listen and if you’re honest and fearless about how hard you want to work and how good you want to be, then playing for me will be a whole lot of fun.”

Frank, Dawn, Ray, Dr. Pastides et al: We want to get better, we are so willing to listen and we are absolutely fearless about hard we want to work. The past few weeks have been a whole lot of fun…here is hoping that the next weekend is as well. Good luck in Dallas and Phoenix!

January Blues

By: Azure Stilwell

This month has been difficult for me. I feel bad for feeling bad, but my posts are real so here it goes.

Sun will come out tomorrow

The high of Christmas and having my oldest home from college has passed and everyone has returned to a normal schedule. That is, everyone except me. My normal schedule has become a battle with depression and it is winning this month. Being Bipolar is difficult, especially during the lower times. My medications have been changed so many times I can’t even keep count anymore. I sit at home either giving into or fighting the urge to sleep my day away. I need a purpose, a reason to get up, and right now I just can’t find one, at least not until 3 p.m. – that’s when my youngest gets off the bus.

I have thought about volunteering somewhere but I don’t know where or how to begin to do something like that. I have a hard time with a set schedule. I never know when I will have a Bipolar episode, so having others depend on me causes anxiety within me. It’s really a catch 22. I need to get out to overcome my depression but I am too anxious to commit to any set volunteer time. I need a place that allows me to set my times or has short bursts of time available, say 1-3 hours, so I don’t get overwhelmed.

I have social anxiety which causes me to have a very small circle of people. Since I quit working, that circle in Columbia has gotten even smaller. I also want to feel needed and not just sitting around feeling like I am just there instead of at home.

I need suggestions on how and where to get started volunteering. Any ideas?

Pneumonia Weather

By: Chaunte McClure

One sure way to strike up a conversation is to talk about the weather. With this spring-like weather in the dead of winter here lately, it’s easy to do. I love it, although I have a few sweaters and scarves I haven’t worn yet. However, it’s nice when I can take a late afternoon stroll in the park without a sweatshirt, gloves or jacket.

Every Woman Blog - Pneumonia Weather

All the creepy crawlies must be confused. One weekend it’s snowing and the next it’s 78 degrees. This weather blows humans’ minds, too. That’s why you’ll likely find a photo on your timeline of a friend’s dashboard displaying today’s temperature. Grandma would call this pneumonia weather – when the weather goes from one extreme to the other and back again. Cold, hot, cold. I know some of you are bold enough to argue with Grandma and say the weather doesn’t make you sick, but uh ruh, nudge, nudge. Grandma is always right!

Let’s call this season “spwinter” – a combination of spring and winter. The time of year when you can wear shorts, flip-flops and wool coats in one week. And when you can light the fireplace and turn on the AC during the same week. Hey, we could have blistering cold weather like my friends in Washington and Wisconsin are experiencing. I’d say I’m happy to call South Carolina home, despite the pneumonia weather.

Here’s Your Chance to Become an Every Woman Blogger!

Every Woman Blog Contest

We’re excited to announce that we’re sponsoring another Every Woman Blog Contest to select new bloggers to join our team! Women of all ages are invited to enter the contest from June 1st to June 30th. Each selected blogger will receive a $250 cash prize.

To enter the blogging contest, visit Lexington Medical Center’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/LexingtonMedical. Upload a video or post a short written statement on the Wall about why you would be a great blogger to represent and inspire women in the Midlands. Five women with the most persuasive, funny, touching or engaging posts will be selected to become featured bloggers on the Every Woman Blog.

Each featured blogger will write at least one post per month. The topics will vary greatly depending on the personalities of the bloggers and their daily experiences in the community. The bloggers will also meet in person at “blogger reunions” to share ideas and brainstorm topics.

Make sure to visit us on our Facebook page and leave us a message on the Wall stating why you think you’d be a great blogger – and you could win!

Lexington Medical Center Heart & Sole Women’s Five Miler Set for April 23 in Columbia

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Women of all ages will fill the streets of downtown Columbia as Lexington Medical Center presents the 15th annual Heart & Sole Women’s Five Miler on Saturday, April 23 at 8:30 a.m. A women’s only event, the race features a five-mile run, a five-mile walk and a three-mile walk.

The Lexington Medical Center Heart & Sole Women’s Five Miler celebrates women and the power of a healthy lifestyle. It also raises awareness that heart disease is the #1 killer of women. The picturesque course begins at the top of Finlay Park, winds around the South Carolina Governor’s Mansion, Main Street, Congaree Vista and into the historic neighborhoods next to the University of South Carolina campus. It finishes with a downhill stretch to the bottom of Finlay Park.

Launched by the Carolina Marathon Association in 2002, the Lexington Medical Center Heart & Sole Women’s Five Miler is South Carolina’s first women’s only road race. It has grown from fewer than 400 female participants in its first year to more than 2,300. Sponsored in conjunction with WIS News 10, the race offers women of all athletic abilities the opportunity to participate in a comforting, supportive environment. Elite athletes, as well as first-timers, enjoy the unique event that offers a red rose at the finish line and special refreshments that include chocolate-covered strawberries.

The event begins with an opening ceremony at 8:00 a.m. featuring Dawndy Mercer Plank and Judi Gatson of WIS News 10. The five-mile run begins at 8:30 a.m., and the walk begins at 8:35 a.m.  Race day registration will be held from 7:00 – 8:00 a.m. at Arsenal Hill, located at 1900 Lincoln Street near the start line and the Laurel Street entrance to Finlay Park.

“This women’s only run and walk helps us to spread the word that heart disease is preventable and controllable,” said Harriet Horton, vice president at Lexington Medical Center. “We encourage women of all fitness levels to come out and participate.”

Cash awards will be presented to runners in the following categories:

  • Top five overall finishers: $500/$400/$300/$200/$150
  • Top three masters finishers: $150/$125/$100
  • Top three grand masters finishers: $100/$75/$50
  • Top three senior grand masters finishers: $75/$50/$25

 Awards will be presented to the top three overall finishers in each age category: 14 and under, 15-19, 20-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69 and 70+.

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Walkers are eligible for prizes based on participation. All awards and prizes will be presented at the post-event ceremony in Finlay Park. After the event, participants enjoy special refreshments, entertainment and an expo featuring health screenings from Lexington Medical Center, and health and fitness-related services from local vendors.

Registration is $35 through April 22 and $45 on race day.

Participants are asked to bring “gently used” running or walking shoes to packet pick-up on Friday, April 22 or Saturday, April 23, at Arsenal Hill, located at 1900 Lincoln Street in downtown Columbia. These shoes will be donated to Christ Central Ministries, which serves people in need throughout the Midlands. Each year, participants donate nearly 500 pairs of shoes.

For more information, call the Carolina Marathon Association at (803) 731-2100 or visit www.HeartAndSoleRun.com  or www.HeartAndSoleWalk.com  to register online.

The Back Seat

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

Life is a funny thing. It’s full of joy, laughter, tough decisions, mistakes, sadness, tragedy, rewards and fulfillment. You never really know what each day will throw your way. You just have to wake up and see what happens. Sometimes the events of the day, or days, make every woman blogit important for certain things to take a back seat. For me, it’s been cooking. I love to cook. It’s my hobby, my challenge, my catharsis, my fun. But since August 6th, I haven’t done much adventurous cooking. I’ve been pulling out old stand-bys, quick weeknight dinners, and easy meals simply because of all of the oddball circumstances that life has thrown my way.

August 6th was my mom’s birthday. My daughter and I were in Houston, enjoying a visit with my sister and NASA summer camp when we got the phone call. My mom had been hurt and was in the hospital with a brain bleed. A subdural hematoma. She was being admitted to the ICU, being CT-scanned every 6 hours and I wasn’t there. The course of the next month was a trying one. But, as life happens, there was a blessing in disguise. The doctors discovered an aneurysm hiding in my mom’s head. We would have never known it was there. It’s repairable, so that’s next on our family agenda.

As we began October, our whole town was turned upside down. 13 years ago, I sold my best friend and her husband their house on Timberlane Drive. Over the years, we all complained about the cost of the flood insurance they were required to have, but every time the street flooded, it was a reminder that if anything bad ever happened, they would be protected. Well, on October 4th, something bad happened. Something really, really bad. Were they protected? Yes, more so than lots of other people, but not enough. Flood waters completely overtook their tri-level home. Think about how many feet up off the ground a tri-level house is. Take a moment…it’s staggering. It’s a complete loss, no fixing it up, no moving back home. It’s gone.

So, we have all been very pre-occupied with my mom’s health and my friends’ recovery. Cooking has truly taken a back seat and I miss it. But, there is a light at the end of both of these tunnels, so before long, I will be back in the swing. In the midst of all this craziness, a friend from high school brought me a little surprise. She works for Congaree Milling and dropped a care package of grits, cornmeal and polenta for me to try. I already have some ideas of how I want to use them and, of course, write about them. And, Thanksgiving is coming. So yay! Prime time to get back in the front seat!

Elizabeth Akre writes “Gastronomy (by a Wanna-be Chef).” You can also follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Flooded with Emotions

 

By: Chaunte McClure

Flood. Breach. Barricade. Boil water advisory. After about two days, I couldn’t take hearing these words and others associated with them any longer. Following the historic rainfall earlier in October, this was common language in the Palmetto State. All eyes were on us as news of South Carolina’s devastating floods spread nationwide.

I would have never imagined seeing houses and businesses, in some cases, with water nearly to their rooftops. And I certainly didn’t think it would happen just a few hundred yards from me. But it did. Right here in Columbia, S.C.

Photo credit: Chris Brathwaite

Photo credit: Chris Brathwaite

After finally falling asleep that Sunday morning, I awoke to get ready for early morning service as I normally do. I knew we were expecting a few inches of rain, so I turned on the TV to get a weather update. As I watched, I was silently contemplating whether I’d be going anywhere and finally I asked my husband if he thought we should go to church. He said yes, so I said well, we’ll ride together today. (It usually takes one of us longer to get dressed than the other (Ahem!), so we drive separately sometimes. Okay, I’ll admit, I’m the slow one.) Then something the news anchor said caught my attention: The first floor of an apartment complex flooded. The name rang a bell because the apartments are in walking distance from our neighborhood. I repeated what I heard to my husband because he was still trying to take advantage of the extra 15 minutes of sleep before he really needed to get going. At that point it was obvious that we weren’t leaving home because even if we had, chances are, we wouldn’t have made it back.

Now we were wide awake, gazing at the TV, shocked at what we were hearing and seeing. As time passed, we saw: families being rescued from their homes by boat, cars floating in water, a Title Max business about to cave in from being inundated with water, and a portion of Decker Boulevard and Garners Ferry Road flooded.

Social media was abuzz with more images, videos and the #scflood hashtag. I started receiving text messages: worship services are canceled, neighbor’s house flooded, turn to the news, checking on you, and let’s pray together. The texts, phone calls, and inbox messages continued throughout the day and into the next.

For days, there was round-the-clock flood news coverage and I eventually had to turn the TV off. It was becoming stressful, plus I had cabin fever. I think on Wednesday we ran a couple of errands and on our way back home, we forgot about a road closure that was part of our usual route home. We detoured through a neighborhood, honestly just following the cars ahead of us. What I saw next took me over the edge. It was more compelling than any news story I’d seen – and I saw some great stories and professional news coverage. We drove through a neighborhood that was affected by the flood. After passing about three houses on one particular street, I lost it. My emotions overtook me after seeing pile after pile of people’s belongings on the curb. A yellow sofa where a family probably sat and watched TV together. A washer and dryer that a mom or dad once used to do laundry. A water-stained brown leather recliner where someone, perhaps, watched Sunday night football or read a good book. A coffee table where family photos were probably displayed. And volunteers, homeowners and contractors were still clearing out flood-damaged homes. My heart ached for those families and countless other flood victims.

Photo Credit: Chris Brathwaite

Photo credit: Chris Brathwaite

I can’t imagine the stress that victims are experiencing but I do know that God will comfort them during and after the flood. Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Whether going through a natural or spiritual disaster, never allow it to wash out your faith. The same God who provided for you before will provide for you again. When a dam breaks in your life and you’re flooded with troubles, like David, find strength in the Lord (1 Samuel 30:6).

The loss, disappointment, and heartache can become overwhelming, but here is hope, and that hope is in Jesus Christ. Yes, we are South Carolina strong, and storms like this should lead us to be God strong – strong in our faith.