Author Archives: lgalarza1017

Call Her Coco

Cori Gauff, also known as “Coco” Gauff on the court, is a top-notch player on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Tour. She started from the top 600 at the age of 15 to now being in the top 25. People may have thought that it was not a good idea for this 17-year-old American to play against the other women on tour because she might get burned out. She wanted to put a name for herself because of two athletes on the tour that inspired her. They are the reason Coco wanted to begin tennis.

Gauff made her debut in Wimbledon of 2019, coming in from qualifying to going all the way to the fourth round. She defeated a former number one player, Venus Williams, to make it to the second round, and she made a comeback, winning the second and third set after being down one match point. Another impressive thing about this run was that Gauff was only 15 years old, making her the youngest in the tournament. During her run at Wimbledon, she made a name for herself, which is where “Call Me Coco” came from.

A Cinderella story is what they called it for this young American. Coming in from winning a junior Grand Slams to qualifying in her first Grand Slam on the WTA tour, Simona Halep defeated the young American and ended up winning the tournament. Although Coco’s Wimbledon run was ended, the career for this young American was just beginning.

She was the youngest single finalist at the Junior US Open. A couple tournaments later, Gauff played in the juniors French Open, and won the tournament, only dropping one set in the finals. Gauff is a great singles player as a junior, but she was also a great doubles player. Gauff won her very first WTA title in 2019 at the Linz Open in Austria by defeating a former Grand Slam Champion and former top five player. Winning the tournament boosted her ranking into the top 75.

Gauff has won two WTA singles title and three WTA doubles titles. Catherine McNally is Gauff’s doubles partner, and they have made a name for themselves in the doubles aspect of the tour. They won their first WTA doubles title in 2019 at the Citi Open. With winning three titles together, there is no telling what this duo will conquer in the doubles tour.

Matt Williams, The New Men’s Tennis Head Coach

The Piedmont men’s tennis team has a new leader at the helm, as Matt Williams goes from being an assistant coach to becoming the head coach this season.

“I am inspired to be a coach because I know that athletics provide a unique environment to acquire essential life skills,” Coach Matt Williams said. “Win-loss records don’t make it to tombstones, but if you’ve impacted their lives, they’ll show up to your funeral.”

Williams received his undergraduate degree from Mercer University in 2012 and received his master’s degree from the University of Georgia in 2016. He started his tennis career at Southern Wesleyan University in South Carolina in 2014 as an assistant coach. After leaving Southern Wesleyan, Williams became a graduate manage for women’s tennis in 2014-15 at the University of Georgia. Later in 2015-16, he became a volunteer assistant coach for the women’s team. Williams helped with the University of Georgia’s women tennis from 2014 to 2018, where he helped with recruiting and match day analytics.

With Williams at the helm, the team is hoping to build on its second-place finish in conference last season. In previous years, the team expectations were not as high as most of the players would have liked. But under Williams, that has changed, and players are already recognizing a difference.

“This tennis season is about the discipline and hard work we are going to have to put in,” said Cooper Kework, a senior player on the team. “I know it will pay off in the long run.”

Captain of the team, Kework feels the impact that Coach Williams is making this year. He is not the only one who feels the impact. The whole team can see the difference.

“Matt provides a major emphasis on investing in all of his players not only to become better tennis players, but better people. That says a lot about his character,” Kework said.

Williams wants the team to be closer together rather than being distant with each other. As a team he wants players to respect each other on and off the court. He also wants the team to be each other’s “safe place.” Communication is very big when it comes to teams, Williams said, and he wants the Lions to take it to another level.

“There is so much pressure on you especially if you are the last person on court and when you have that support from your team, which will help push you through the match,” Williams said. “We want the energy from our team to help encourage each other and push each other through the match.”

Symposium: dementia

Across the world, there are approximately 50 million people who have dementia. It is a disease with no cure, and a life where you would maybe never remember.

Freshman Marion Sloyan, Jillian Addy, and Autumn Redd presented their research, ” Dementia: a disease investigated” at the 2021 Piedmont Symposium. They went over treatments, signs and other symptoms. It started by talking about the origin of the world; the word dementia comes from Latin, meaning “without sense.” Memory loss is significantly one of the symptoms of dementia, so therefore, being without sense. Dementia is caused by the loss of nerve cells and other processes in the brain. It affects you in the hippocampus.

“Presenting about dementia was really impactful for me because it informed me about the struggles people go through with this disease,” Marion said.

Dementia can have both mental and physical effects. People can experience cognitive symptoms, so it involves your brain and other mental parts of yourself. It involves things like memory loss and slow brain functions. the other symptoms are physical changes, such as headaches, slow communication and feeling slow overall. There is mild cognitive impairment, mild dementia, moderate dementia and severe dementia.

“I could not imagine having to go through these things with people who have dementia,” Marion said.

There are many risk factors that can increase a person’s chances of suffering from dementia. The first risk factor is being 60 and up. At this age, people’s immune systems are not as strong, which increases the risk of getting any disease; you aren’t as likely to live as long with the disease. The second risk factor is if you live in a low to the middle-income area. People living in these areas can’t afford health care, and there is not as much attention given to them. The final risk factor is being a smoker. Smoking leads to atherosclerosis; a heart disease that also deals with the delivery of blood to the brain. Smoking is a major factor in dementia.

Although there is no cure for dementia; medications and therapies are provided to slow the process down. Medications include cholinesterase inhibitors, antidepressants, anxiolytics, and memantine. There are two types of therapies: reminiscence therapies, reality orientation training. There are lifestyle changes that involve staying active, good sleep, watching what you eat, and staying involved.

“These lifestyle changes are very important in my opinion because those are things we need now, especially as a student-athlete. Imagine having to change all of this, but also have a disease that could effect you so impactfully,” Marion said.

For some Piedmont students, dementia impacts them personally. “I have a family member that suffers from the disease, and I never really understood what it was or what it did to your body until now,” student Rachel Marsh said.

Dr. Julia Schmitz, associate professor of biology, said she enjoyed the presentation from Marion and the group. “I was proud to watch them develop and present on a well-researched disease.”

The Disaster Drill

Piedmont College mocked a severe tornado that wiped out the Swanson Center.

 Beginning in 2017, the annual disaster drill help at Piedmont college has allowed students in various majors to experience a real-life scenario to practice in their presumed field of work. The disaster drill is hosted at the Swanson Center in Demorest, Georgia, permitting students to experience and participate in their fields of work for the future. Whether it is a school shooting or a natural disaster, this drill benefits multiple majors for Piedmont College students. The drill for this year mocked a severe tornado, specifically a category three tornado. It was so severe that people lost limbs, smoke filled the Swanson Center, and everything was destroyed. Theater, Mass Communications, and specifically Nursing majors could experience the most realistically possible front-hand situations.

Theater majors practiced makeup and acting skills as students were acting injured, disable, and sometimes incapacitated all while covered in fake wounds, fake blood, and fake bruises. Mass communications majors experienced the opportunity to create breaking news stories, interviews, and live radio shows. Where nursing majors experienced the front lines of this drill, taking care of each victim’s needs and learning how to quickly react in a disaster.

Health Science Major, Maddie Cassidy played one of the victims of the tornado, where next here she explained she will move onto partaking in the health aspect of the drill. For all students in the health sciences departments, usually students begin as a victim then partake in the learning aspect the next year.

“I’m glad they asked me to be a part of the event because it is an amazing event for Piedmont students,” said Cassidy.

Caitlyn Worthy, Junior Nursing Student, played one of the victims in the scene. Worthy explained how the drill allows nursing students to understand how to act quickly in a travesty such as a severe tornado. As Worthy approaches her senior year of nursing, she will aid in helping the victims in next year’s disaster drill.

“Piedmont gives nursing students the ability to be in the field as much as possible. I take clinical now and we are all able to participate in the disaster drill. Having so many ways to practice before becoming a nurse is really awesome,” said Worthy.

After speaking with many students, especially nursing students do not take this opportunity and practice for granted. Most students in all majors agreed that this was a great hands-on experience and much better than being in the classroom.

Both, Chelsea Arnold and Sidney Brandon, Senior Nursing students, added that the event was well put together and understand the depth of what a disaster can do. Arnold gave the example that being out in the field, even it being staged, is a much way better way to learn compared to looking at a mannequin.

“You can learn things all day when you are actually in the field, so it gives you a hands-on opportunity. It is more than learning stuff from a classroom,” said Brandon.

Because of the coronavirus, this year’s drill was different than in years past. Not as many individuals participated, masks had to be worn throughout the event, and there was not as much physical interaction between individuals. Fred Bucher, the Assistant Vice President for Facilities Management and Safety and Coordinator, Title IX, shared information on this year’s disaster drill compared to the year’s prior. 

“This one might have been a little more scripted and a little less free play, but two years ago, it was phenomenal,” said Bucher.

Even though this year’s drill was different and more difficult to construct for students and the community, students enjoyed learning and understanding what a disaster can be like. The concept of learning and practicing within each field of work was present, students enjoyed the drill, and students left with a better knowledge of working through a real disaster. In this case, the 2021 disaster drill was a success.

Because of this drill, nursing, theater, and mass communications majors were a part of an experience that most students do not get the opportunity to participate in. With one of the largest nursing programs in the state, the disaster drill attracts many aspiring nursing students at Piedmont College. For this drill has become a major project for theater students, mass communications students, and nursing students to encounter a real-life scenario before entering the work field. 

The Life of Tennis for Stockton

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From a professional career to coaching at the college level, tennis is life for Richard “Dick” Stockton.

Stockton said, “the thing I love about tennis is that you can play it any age.” He said you do not see others playing lacrosse or soccer at the age of 70.

Born in New York on Feb. 18, 1951, he was on the professional tour from 1971, and he retired in 1986. Stockton graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, and he was the coach at the University of Virginia from 1998 to 2001. He is currently the head coach for the men’s tennis team at Piedmont College.

Stockton began playing tennis at the age of 6. He had an older brother who was 11 at the time who would play tennis, and his mother would help feed balls to Stockton. He picked up the game of tennis very quickly, and he enjoyed playing the sport. He also played baseball, and he enjoyed it very much, but tennis came more natural to Stockton. “I wasn’t very good at baseball, but I was way better at tennis,” he said.

While on the professional tour for tennis, he was ranked number 8 in 1977. He was also ranked number 13 for doubles around the same time.

“I developed new friendships with people from the United states that were on tour and from other countries also. I enjoyed playing the people that I looked up to growing up that was still on tour. My favorite Grand Slam was the Wimbledon Championships. The atmosphere was just phenomenal,” he said.

While on tour, Stockton said he enjoyed competing against several different player with different style of play. A person he said that he did enjoy playing was Jimmy Connors who was also an American player on the tour. “We played with each other even before we were on tour, so we have always been great friends,” he said.

“Coaching has always been in the back of my mind to coach,” because he recalls how his coaches helped and inspired him.

 He had so much respect for his coach, and he said that he hoped to have the same respect from his players also. Stockton wanted to help encourage others and help the players grow in their tennis career just like his coach did for him. “There is a lot of potential in the guys that play, and I’m glad I’m able to coach them,” he said about Piedmont’s tennis team.

Leo Galarza: Story of a Little About Me

My name is Leonardo Galarza, but everyone calls me Leo. I was born and raised in a small town called Douglas, Georgia. I was born on October 17, 2001. I am majoring in sports and mass communications. I’m currently on the men’s tennis team for Piedmont University.

I grew up in a divorced household from a very young age. My parents both became remarried, and I happened to become the oldest child out of seven kids as years go by. While being the oldest does not seem to be all that bad, but in my life, it was a little different. You had to be the role model for your siblings, and you have to prove yourself to your parents. We have to make sure no mistakes are made because one slip up could cause an issue with not only your siblings but also your parents. It was rough growing up in a divorced household because you always seemed to be put in the middle of every situation. I lived with my mother and my two brothers until I was 12 years old. I was kicked out of my mother’s house because I saw things differently from her, and I moved in with my father, stepmother, and other siblings. This all turned out for the better in my life especially for what was yet to come.

If you know who I am, then you know that I always smile. It may be hard to believe based on my happiness that there was nothing wrong. I grew up being bullied because I was different from others. I was confused and lost throughout middle school and even high school. I did have friends that I was close with, but my issues did not seem to be important to them in my eyes. It felt like I was alone because it felt like my parents or friends did not completely understand how I felt.

When I was in high school, I knew I wanted to move away from home after I graduated. I did not want to go to a college that was near my hometown because I wanted to explore new things, and I wanted to find myself. Piedmont College gave me the opportunity to be away from home, and an opportunity to play college tennis. I did not expect being away from home away from family and old friends to make such a big impact on my life. The first few months of college I had gone through a rough time in my life. I was unsure that anyone would listen or understand how I felt. There was one person that I knew I felt like I could talk to, but it still scared me to share my feelings with someone else. It was a hard decision, but I knew it was something that would make me feel relieved and happy. I decided to come out to my friends, and even to my parents. It was hard because I was not sure how others would react, but it turned out that my friends still supported me.

I still face some hard times, but that is life for you. There will be times where things will be thrown at us, and we just have to overcome every obstacle. My story is not all there, but it does show what I had to go through to become the person I am today. I still have places where I need to grow, but it all takes time.