Author Archives: tsauls1015

Death. Taxes. And Caffeine.

Energy Drink of the Month Club –

Becca Stegmayer, a junior exercise and sports science major and student athlete, presented her capstone research project at the Piedmont Symposium on April 14. Her topic of investigation is one that unites our divided world—our dependency on caffeine.

“I see people drink caffeine every day in the gym and before games or practice. I was curious to see if what they were doing was actually benefiting them or a complete waste,” said Stegmayer.

Although the Symposium can seem like just another assignment at the end of the semester, Stegmayer’s research encompassed the very essence of what the symposium is trying to instill in Piedmont University students— an inquisitive disposition of the world around them. In fact, studies show that engaging in research projects creates more resilient students who persist in their education and adapt flexible learning patterns.

“Symposium presentations allow students to dive deeper into a subject that is of greater interest or explore something they want to do in a future career,” said Abbey Dondanville associate dean of health sciences. “Preparing content as an expert and presenting to peers also builds confidence.”

Stegmayer’s research looked more specifically at the effect that caffeine had on the anerobic performance of student athletes. Every movement that your body makes requires energy. However, when you push your body in such a way that it cannot create energy through the use of oxygen, the anerobic system comes to the rescue by pulling energy from energy stores within the muscles.

The benefits of anerobic exercise are extensive. Repeated anerobic exercises leads to greater endurance. This training style results in stronger bones and muscles. Additionally, your body learns how to utilize the oxygen that it does receive in the most efficient way possible while improving mood and promoting fat loss.

“As a student athlete, I rely heavily on caffeine to get me through long practices,” said Piedmont University softball player Lexi Chitwood. “I rely on caffeine even more when I know I am going to have a late-night studying.”

Chitwood is not the only student who depends on caffeine to aid in success on and off the field. At this point in the semester, it seems as if caffeine is coursing through the veins of students and professors’ bodies alike.

Although Stegmayer’s study yielded insignificant results, she fully believes that further research would prove otherwise. She faced many confounds within her experiment: caffeine tolerance in individual participants, small sampling size and lack of financial support. However, Stegmayer is confident that caffeine, if used in the correct manner, could be pivotal in enhancing sports performance.

“If athletes want to drink caffeine drinks, then they should understand the most efficient way to do so and how it can affect them,” said Stegmayer.

Caffeine, like most things in life, is not bad in and of itself. However, it is imperative to understand how this stimulant impacts each of us individually, said Stegmayer. A person can become addicted to caffeine like one could become addicted to any substance. Although the correct use can increase productivity, overuse can mask signs of physical exhaustion, dehydration, and improper diet among other things.

“The USFDA does not regulate the amount of caffeine in energy drinks, said Stegmayer “So it’s up to you to be conscious of your caffeine intake.”

Tornado strikes Swanson Preforming Arts Center

Gallery: Piedmont College holds 2021 disaster drill - Now Habersham

Without warning a devastating tornado hit the Swanson Center early Wednesday morning leaving roof fires and electrical explosions in its wake.

“We were just walking around campus and then everything got quiet,” said victim Kacey Ellis. “The wind picked up out of nowhere. Everyone started running and screaming so we did too. The storm caught up to us before we knew it.”

Ellis was one of many enjoying a warm early spring day as the tornado unexpectedly ripped through the Swanson center, leaving devastation in its wake. Habersham Emergency Services along with Piedmont College nursing students were among the first emergency personnel to respond to the disaster. North East Georgia triage doctors arrived on scene later. Based on their official count, there were approximately 70 victims– 10 people died on site, 15 were critically injured and transported for emergency treatment, and the remaining injuries were minor and treated on site.

“All the major casualties have come from falling debris inside the Swanson Center” said Assistant Vice President for Facilities Management and Safety, Fred Bucher. “The source of the fire [that caused falling debris] was in the duct work, and because this is an older building the duct work is flammable.”

In addition to the age of the building, the position of the building played a major influence on the devastation that occurred. The Swanson Performing Arts Center sits on a hill which is why the building received the biggest blow. Located at the top of the building are massive air condition units. The gale force wind gusts toppled the AC units creating a shortage that started the fires.

The fire, smoke, and explosions created absolute chaos around and within the Swanson Center, but the nurses and other emergency personnel handled the situation with full and systematic competence.

“When nurses and other first responders arrive on an incident like this, our immediate goal is to triage everyone,” said Kaylee White, Piedmont College nursing student. “Every victim is assessed and given a tag color [black, red, yellow, and green], which helps create a clear visual of who we need to help right away and who can wait.”

All emergency personnel worked tirelessly to provide the appropriate care to every victim on the scene.

“We were able to get people to where they needed to go, people got to the hospital and received on site care if needed,” said White. “We reacted to the disaster as best we could.”

The Secret to Success

Danielle Percival

Several years ago, Danielle Percival was asked a question that would change her life.

Attending Troy University, Percival was presented with the opportunity to call play-by-play for the Sun Belt Conference Championship volleyball game.

“I said yes not knowing what the heck I was going to do because I knew nothing,” Percival said. “So, I spent the next two weeks watching volleyball trying to figure out how I pull this off, so that was a big boost for me — saying yes and jumping in.”

Now Piedmont College’s Assistant Athletic Director of Communications, Percival seems to have a knack of saying “yes” when opportunities come knocking. And opportunity is a frequent visitor.  

As a senior in high school Percival took an internship with a local college, Faulkner University in Montgomery, where she did half time shows for radio and interviewed people for the campus television station. This opportunity, even at a young age, fueled her passion for all things broadcasting, and she pursued a degree in broadcast journalism at Troy University.

“I had the opportunity to work with the student-run television station, Trojan Vision all four years I was there,” says Percival.

Percival spoke highly of her time at Troy University despite her family’s deep history as Auburn Tigers. Troy was the obvious choice for Percival because of the immediate opportunities. Unlike Auburn’s journalism and broadcasting program, Troy allowed their incoming freshman to jump into the campus’ student-run television station. Again, Percival seized the opportunity to start interviewing coaches, shooing live footage at sporting events and developing a professional rapport with her sources.

“I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do when I got out of school because I didn’t want to do local news, but that was what I had been doing for the past four years.”

As fate would have it, the Piedmont College athletic department just received clearance for the assistant athletic communications position and was looking for someone with a broadcast journalism background to revamp streaming live sporting events. Percival fit the bill despite lacking some knowledge in the sports information role.

“It was a lot of learning on the job and Timmy [McCormack] took a big chance on me and that’s why I say I owe him so much,” says Percival.

To say that McCormack’s gamble paid off would be a gross understatement, looking at her resume now. Since joining the staff in 2014 as assistant director of athletic communications Percival has worked her way up to assistant athletic director. In her role, Percival supervises two full-time assistants, interns and student workers. In addition, Percival and her team are responsible for all home event game management, website and social media management and statistics for all Piedmont sports teams, serving as the webmaster for, managing the athletic department’s social media and maintaining statistics for all Piedmont College sports teams.

On top of making sure the Piedmont athletic communication department is running smoothly, Percival was elected to the board of directors of CoSIDA (College Sports Information Directors of America) where she will serve a three-year term. In addition, she is also serving on a diversity and inclusion committee within CoSIDA.

“It’s definitely a lot to balance at times, but taking a leadership position within CoSIDA has been a good growth experience,” said Percival.

Her involvement in CoSIDA has expanded her knowledge to increase efficiency and effectiveness within the everyday workings of the athletic department. However, stepping into a leadership role affords Percival the opportunity to understand how the governing body of sports information directors works—how to develop, support, and retain exceptional sports information directors across the nation, ultimately keeping the profession alive.

Percival’s secret to success—at any level—is the courage to say “yes” even if you seem “unqualified” on paper.

“Say yes to opportunities,” she said. “It may be that you do it and you fail and that’s okay or maybe you do it and you succeed and you find something you absolutely love and want to pursue.”

Who are you?

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WHO ARE YOU? Now, go back and read the question again. It is a loaded question, and quite frankly, a tad bit scary. The truth is, I have not been around that long, but in my experience, I have found that we fill the quiet space with all kinds of things including social media, friends, and awkward conversation. People tend to avoid questions that make them feel uncomfortable. WHO ARE YOU? I am a daughter. I am a sister. I am a friend. I am a teammate. I am a student. However, as I reflect on who I am, I realize that I am a small part of everyone who has poured into me along my 22-year adventure on earth.

I reside in the quaint little town of Winder, Georgia. That is wine-der not win-der. Winder is just a little dot on the map between Atlanta and Athens, but it’s my little dot. Winder gives a 21st century Mayberry aura. You introduce yourself with your last name and who your grandparents are, and a man’s word still carries weight in my little town.

I have lived in the same neighborhood my entire life. I am the oldest of three girls, but as the family started growing my parents decided it was time for us to move. The “big” move was right next door. As I said before, I am coming to realize that my story, who I am, is the summation of who I’ve been surrounded by. Both my parents and grandparents played sports growing up, so naturally I had a ball of some sort in my hand from a very young age. As I enjoy the privilege of hindsight, I can see the indispensable value that sports have had in my life. Through sports I’ve learned that nothing is handed to you. You can and will be successful, but it will not be because you didn’t pay your dues. The teammates will not remember the all-star play you had or the game winning at bat, but they will remember how you made them feel. You will only go as far as your attitude will let you.

These lessons, some learned the hard way, carried over to my academic life as well. What I lack in brilliance, I make up for in hard work. My academic capabilities led me to Piedmont College, where my athletic skills followed. Playing college softball was a dream of mine since I was twelve years old, and as I stepped onto campus, I quickly found that college was not all that it was made out to be. The people who spent hours pouring into me were no longer standing by my side and the challenge of the next four years seemed insurmountable. My first semester seemed to torment me as I painfully adjusted to the life that everyone around me seemed to be enjoying. I missed home. I missed mom’s cooking, my dad’s stupid jokes, and my sisters’ annoying comments. All the while, I was praying to find just one friend. As it seemed the faith that was easy to grasp at home was being held to the fire, the Lord led me to my first true friendship at Piedmont College during the end of my first semester. From that point it seems like the rest is history. This one friendship was an answered prayer for authentic, iron sharpening iron, friendship that I had been praying for since high school. It led to other friendships, belonging, and a renewed fervency in my faith.

              Fast forward and as I am entering my last semester here at Piedmont College. The last .2 miles of a marathon if you will. There have been peaks and there have been valleys through the last four years of my collegiate journey. I entered college as an early childhood education major with a concentration in special education and I am leaving college with a major in psychology bound for Augusta University’s Occupation Therapy program. I am leaving Piedmont with more than a degree. I am leaving with friends who I will continue to walk through life with and teammates who have played an imperative role in molding me into the person I am today. I am a part of every family member, coach, teacher, professor, friend, and teammate who has poured into me over the years.

              So, look around. WHO ARE YOU? Wrestle with the question. Evaluate who you are surrounding yourself with. Thank the people who pour into you, they deserve it, I know the people in my life do. Then pay it forward because someone in your circle needs to be poured into.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” Proverbs 27:17