Author Archives: jameswhitmer

The UCL Recovery Process

One of the toughest injuries in baseball for a pitcher is Tommy John Surgery, in which you tear your UCL — a ligament in your elbow. Junior sports communication major Michael Thomason, who is on the Lions baseball team, tore his UCL last season and is now almost fully recovered from his injury and is ready for the 2022 season to start. 

Thomason has proven to be one of the hardest workers on the team, and his coaches and teammates were devastated to see him go out with this injury last season. He was looking for a big spot in the bullpen last year, but he is now more determined than ever and has learned a lot from his recovery process. 

“It definitely took a lot of work both mentally and physically, but looking back on it I wouldn’t change this journey for the world,” said Thomason. “It’s been a blessing in disguise and I honestly have grown in ways I never would have expected.” 

Thomason has developed a lot of good thoughts even though he had to miss a season. Instead of doubting himself, he worked even harder to fully recover and become a better pitcher than before. He is determined to play a big role for the team this year on the pitching staff. He has not just improved physically, but he has worked harder mentally to overcome this injury and not just shutting down and not working as hard. Coaches have recognized this work. 

“He has been working really hard in his physical therapy and is dedicated to do anything to get out back on that field,” said team graduate assistant Ethan Darrow. “We hope for a bright future for Mike and hope to see him succeed this season for the team. Mike has been a leader for us on and off the field and we hope to see him help lead us to a title this season.” 

The UCL is definitely a major injury to come back from, but as one of the left-handed pitchers on the staff, coaches hope Thomason could be a big factor this upcoming season. Thomason said he’s ready for the challenge.

“Now I am in the final stages of my recovery and it really shows me how powerful God and hard work truly are,” he said. “I can’t wait to get back on a mound again and compete.” 

Playoff Push

With the postseason a month away, the Atlanta Braves look to win their division despite losing their best player and other key players for the rest of the season. The Braves started out the year struggling and were stuck in 3rd place in the NL East for a number of weeks. One of the few bright spots Atlanta was Ronald Acuna Jr., who was having an MVP season. But on July 10, Acuna would suffer a season-ending injury, which seemingly eliminated any hopes for a  playoff push. 

As well as losing their best player, they had lost ace pitcher Mike Soroka, and two big bats in Marcell Ozunaand Travis d’Arnaud before Acuna’s injury. Of the three, only d’Arnaud would return this season. But little did we know some players would step up. Austin Riley has been putting up MVP numbers this year with a .306 batting average, 28 home runs and 83 RBIs. With struggles at the beginning of the year, former MVP Freddie Freeman is back and is in form, dominating the month of July with great stats. In the month of July he would have a batting average of .375 with 36 hits including 9 extra base hits and 15 runs batted in.  Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies have also stepped up late to help this Braves team compete for another division championship.

The Braves pitching has had an up and down year so far. The starting pitching has looked solid for the most part. Leading the way is veteran pitcher Charlie Morton, who was signed in the offseason and leads the staff with 12 wins and 181 strikeouts. Max Fried is in second with 11 wins and 131 strikeouts. Both these guys have looked good and they hope to continue to lead the pitching staff. Although most of the starters have looked good this year, the bullpen has been a struggle for the Braves. They have blown a lot of games, especially earlier in the season. The Braves definitely need the bullpen to do well in the month of September in order to make the playoffs.

The month of August was great for the Braves, as they won 18 of 26 games thanks to some key additions before the trade deadline. After Acuna got hurt, they immediately traded for Joc Pederson to play right field. They also traded for former Brave Adam Duvall, who had been hitting well, as well as outfielders Eddie Rosario and Jorge Soler. Both have contributed so far to help the team be successful in August. They would then trade for relief pitcher Richard Rodriguez who has had a great year to help with the bullpen struggles. After all these trades, the team has looked good and has given Braves fans hope for another division title.

The Braves can win the division as long as they keep competing and playing Braves baseball. The rest of September looks hopeful as the Braves play teams who are not having good years until our last two series which are against the two contenders in our division, the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets. Even though we don’t have some of our best players for the rest of the year I can see us being a World Series contender if we put all the pieces together. 

Piedmont Dating App: Good or Bad?

Could a dating app for Piedmont students be beneficial? Carter Ballstadt and Cameron Earls think it might be a good idea.

The two business students presented their research, “Solving the Dating Problem” at this year’s Piedmont symposium.

“I think the preferences are a big thing when it comes to matchmaking, and if you don’t prefer something you won’t enjoy it when dating,” said Carter Ballstadt.

Ballstadt, like any person, has a preference on who he dates. Many dating apps don’t let users choose a preference of the traits they like about a person. That’s why these two students proposed a Piedmont dating app to match students who have things in common.

“We used a decomposition and abstraction to create an algorithm over them to increase the matches between the students here,” said Cameron Earls.

They used preferences for the decomposition, for example what genders you’re interested in, age and the age range you’re interested in. For the abstraction they used the amount of effort you put into a relationship. The preferences are what you prefer and what you enjoy doing, like your hobbies and interests. 

Other dating apps like Tinder use algorithms by collecting data from each user and mainly focus on their quantity of matches. With the Piedmont dating app, they would focus more on quality of the match, so you could have a longer and lasting relationship. 

“We would have a free setup for the app, as well as a premium account which would cost a little extra,” said Earls.

Like any other app they offer a free account which you can use to get matches, but you don’t get everything offered on the app. They would have other features on the app that would cost some money to get it extra. 

“What you look for in someone with free time and what they’re doing in life is very important,” said Ballstadt, adding that their target audience is for people looking for quality relationships, rather than simply several matches.

“They did a good job, and I thought their idea was very interesting,” said Kim Lovell, professor of business.

Tornado Wipes Out Swanson Center at Piedmont College

A category 3 tornado struck Piedmont’s Swanson center on March 24 causing a catastrophic fire in the building. 

“I had really bad burns to my leg and they still hurt. I was walking through and all of a sudden sirens were going off and then a tornado came through and an explosion happened,” said Katelyn Perry, a person injured in the storm.

It all began around 9 AM that morning. The tornado hit without any warning as the clouds began to swirl when it touched down next to the Swanson Center. 

Many people were rushing inside to seek shelter. Some were unlucky as they were hit with flying debris and were severely injured.

“What was happening inside the building is the fire department was doing their thing, the source of the fire was in the ductwork because some of the ceiling collapsed,” explained Vice President for safety and building management Fred Bucher.

The Swanson center’s airduct system was damaged during the tornado which led to a fire on top of the building. The fire grew rapidly causing the ceiling to collapse with many people inside. Many victims were badly injured by falling debris and treated by the nurses on scene.

Piedmont’s nursing students arrived on scene and quickly got to work tending to the victims. The EMS for Habersham County was on the scene with Habersham County Fire Department and Demorest Police. The nursing students rushed in and out of the burning Swanson Center working tirelessly to help anyway possible.

“They are all tragic events, and we deal them as we can, but I would probably say this disaster was probably a 6 out of 10,” said Floyd Canup, who works for Demorest Police.

Those on scene have seen worse disasters and wanted to make sure they were there for the people who were in need of help. Emergency services wanted to care for the victims and even arrest someone who was trying to steal personal items from the victims. 

“We were not at a total loss, we had people jump on and get things done,” explained Fred Bucher. 

Ultimately, Piedmont is incredibly lucky to have incredible nursing students that can help during a situation along with all the first responders. Without them many victims would not have been treated on time at the scene of the fire and the damage outside the Swanson Center caused by a catastrophic tornado.

Profile Story: Mark Jestel

Mark Jestel, director of residential living at Piedmont College, wanted to be a biology teacher. 

“When I first entered my undergrad, actually got my degree in biology,” Jestel says, adding that his first experience in housing came as he was “making friends with wrong the wrong group of people.”

After getting into housing, he would then become an RA at his college. He would realize that he was actually a good RA and wanted to pursue a career in housing. He would then get his master’s degree in housing, and the rest is history.

“I had never heard of Piedmont before, they extended an offer to me to be able to interview with them,” says Jestel. 

After getting his degree, Jestel would find out how much fun housing would be and how cool all the job placement conferences were. It was very stressful for him having to have many back-to-back interviews with schools. After hitting it off with Piedmont, Jestel would get close with his coworkers and is enjoying his job here at Piedmont, where he has been for more than seven years.

“One of the biggest challenges is be an advocate for students, while also recognizing that this is a business,” he said.

Jestel said he will always back his students up when it comes to things. But he recognizes that this is a job, and he has to make sure they spend money wisely. 

Outside of his job here at Piedmont, he does like to do other things. For example, he says he enjoys frisbee golf, which is a fun sport to play, as well as watching movies. He is also an avid reader. “I read 5 books every month,” he said. 

But he doesn’t have a lot of free time to do other things because he is working on getting his Ph.D. right now.

Jestel is a great at his job here at Piedmont and continues every day to make sure that the students here always have a smile on their face. 

“I realized this is actually something you could do for a living and got my master’s degree in it and the rest is hidtory,” says Jestel.

The Life of James Whitmer

My name is James Whitmer and I am a junior Sports Communications major here at Piedmont. I also play baseball and play first and third base. I am from Lilburn, Georgia where I have lived my whole live. I live with my mom, dad, brother and dog. My dog is a schnauzer poodle and is currently 13 years old. My brother is 23 and graduated from Georgia Tech this past december where he majored in economics. My mom is a teacher who attended the University of Georgia and the University of Vanderbilt. My dad played soccer at a community college but then would work at UPS and he retired there 3 years ago.

Baseball has been my favorite sport ever since I started playing it when I was 4 years old. I have also played basketball from 1st grade to 8th grade and soccer when I was 6 and 12. I attended Parkview High School where I played baseball all four years there. While there, we won a National Championship and 2 state championships in 2018 and 2019. While playing baseball I have torn my labrum which was my sophomore year of high school and broke my foot senior year.

As a kid and during my pre teen years I used to be kinda shy. Once I started middle school I started to talk more I have a lot more friends. In high school and college I have definitely been a lot more out going and like hanging out with friends. One thing I hate now though is being alone. Sometimes I will be alone to do homework or something else, but if I’m alone for awhile I start to get anxious. I have done a lot better to cope with anxiety and panic attacks.

I hope to have a successful life in the future and have a job that does something with sports or in the technology field. I plan to have a family when I’m ready for it and hope that I am wealthy in life. If I do make a good amount of money I will donate some of it to charity. I can’t wait to see what is in store for me in the future.