The Children’s Hour

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Sometimes when a play is performed or a movie is released real life events happen to take place along with it.

That is the case with the “The Children’s Hour” as when director Donn Youngstrom and the rest of the theater department at Buffalo State decided on a play that they had no clue would have events that would coincide with the play’s performance.

Two women named Martha and Karen, who have been friends since 17 years old, decide to open a school for girls.  Then one day a student named Mary lies that Karen and Martha are really lovers. She also says the she has witnessed the two kissing, along with hearing the noises that would eventually destroy their lives.

In the process of trying to clear their names Martha discovers she has feelings for Karen. She reveals this to her shortly before she commits suicide.

Theater department Associat Professor Donn Youngstrom, who also is the play’s director, stated that he and the rest of the department didn’t realize that things like “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” lies, cyber bullying, suicide by young adults and sexual orientation would happen shortly before the play opened.

“The reason that we chose it is that there is a preponderance of students within our major that are women and we also wanted to do an American classic,” Youngstrom said. “Also, it had to do with the theme as there are still gay and lesbian people that still are afraid to come out and a lie that can ruin people’s lives.”

The last thing that is also coinciding with the play is that one of the cast members is also gay.

“Given the recent events, the play has a really important social message,” the anonymous cast member said. “Acceptance can become a huge problem in a person’s life.”

According to Youngstrom, the process for selecting a play started last semester in the spring as teachers within the theater department would meet and recommend plays. From there they would whittle it down to a select few and finally selected “The Children’s Hour.”

Youngstrom went on to explain once a play was selected the department moved on to scenery.  That took place over the summer and was completed by the beginning of the fall semester.

From there Youngstrom stated the department moved to auditions, when school started up again, and theater majors were allowed to audition first. Once auditions for theater majors were held, auditions for all majors were conducted.

Youngstrom and the rest of the staff then discussed who to call back to audition again for a certain role. In both auditions people had to perform a dance, sing, and a monologue.

After callbacks are concluded, countless rehearsals, along with a countless number of things, take place before the opening of the play like sound cues, lighting cues, memorizing lines, and placement when saying those lines.

Cindy Delaney, who plays Martha, is a sophomore writing major at Buffalo State, but graduated as a Drama major from Fiorello LaGuardia High School of Music, Art and the Performing Arts. Delaney talked about what she went through from getting the part.

“Because getting ready for a show takes up a huge chunk of time, I knew that my schedule would need some rearranging from the moment I accepted the role,” Delaney said. “Maintaining schoolwork and other school activities on top of rehearsals became difficult at times, but I loved rehearsing with the cast and getting to know the other actors and everything.

Just her routine before a show takes a long time.

“I get to the theatre an hour and a half before the show starts and do my hair, makeup and listen to techno music to get my energy up,” Delaney said. “I’ll warm up my vocals and move around
a bit just so I don’t look stiff on-stage and sometimes I write in my character journal about what Martha did prior to entering the first scene she appears in of Act One.”

In the end, it may have been laborious for everyone, but they still managed to take away something.

“From The Children’s Hour, I’ve taken away an amazing experience,” Delaney said. “Working with the cast and Donn Youngstrom has been an amazing opportunity and I’ve loved every minute of being a part of this production. The social messages contained within the play like that lies can destroy lives and relationships and the journey of self-acceptance can be a very tough one for some people, hold resonance now even though the play was written in 1934 and are also very important to me.”

Danica Riddick, who plays Mrs. Tilford, said the emphasis of the show is on the lie.

“Professor Youngstrom wanted us to focus in on the lie as it can just devastate lives,” Riddick said.

Determination, hard work keys to Brooks’ success

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The Buffalo State Bengals football team was conducting practice as usual one recent evening, but one player was missing.  That player was freshman running back Manny Brooks who hurt his knee earlier in practice.

After about 15 minutes of icing his right knee on the sideline, Brooks got up and pulled his leg back to stretch out his leg. A coach approached him and after the two talked for a minute, a trainer joined the conversation. After getting his kneed taped up, Brooks got back to work.

It is because of his determination to do well that Brooks went on to New Jersey Athletic Conference Football Offensive Rookie of the Week honors in the Bengals 35-20 road loss to Montclair State University Red Hawks.

Brooks in that game rushed for 70 yards on 11 carries for 6.4 yards per a carry average.

According to the school’s official athletics website, Brooks has only played in one other game before the Red Hawks and that was in a 35-7 road loss to SUNY Cortland where he only carried the football twice for seven yards. So, that means the game against the Red Hawks was his first extensive action of the season and of his college career.

So, what did Bengals Director and Head Football Coach Jerry Boyes have to say about the award?

“It is a team award,” Boyes said. “It showed the potential that he has and that he made the most of his opportunity. The more progress he makes the more carries he will get.”

Coach Boyes said that the progress is memorizing the offensive playbook that includes terminology, plays and most importantly audibles that are called out on the field by the quarterback and the center.

“The progression is figuring out our system,” Boyes said. “It has a lot of automatics (audibles) and that takes a while to learn and that is the only thing that has held him back.”

Brooks himself admitted that is the one thing that has held him back. He said he is working on it, as in practice when he is on the sidelines he takes mental reps with the other running backs and quarterbacks on the sideline, along with studying film and the playbook. Also, Brooks will not hesitate to ask coach Boyes exactly what he should do in a particular situation on a play.

“It felt great,” said freshman starting center Kyle Shreve. “Us lineman are working hard to get them yards and it reflects good on the team.”

Brooks gave credit to the offensive line as well.

“It was a good feeling,” Brooks said. “I worked hard in practice and when I got into the game the other players told me I can do it. The offensive line was encouraging me and told me I could do it, and just ask for help if I didn’t know something.”

Simmons shows he’s got game

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In the Buffalo State Bengals men’s basketball team locker room sat a lone figure waiting eagerly to get on the bus to their next game.

That person was Bengals leading scorer shooting guard Jake Simmons, who recently won the State University of New York Athletic Conference men’s basketball player of the week award.

To Simmons, confidence has played an important role in his game this year.

“The main improvement that I have seen is I have a lot more confidence,” Simmons said. “I’m shooting far more better now cause I’m shooting the ball knowing it’s going in versus shooting it and thinking I am going to miss it.”

Simmons earned the honor after leading the Bengals to a 94-87 win over Pitt-Bradford where he was 10-12 from the floor, including 3-5 from behind the 3-point line and was 4-4 from the free throw line tallying 27 points total.

According to Bengals head coach Fajri Ansari, as good as Simmons already is, Ansari feels that Simmons still needs to work on slashing and penetrating on offense and his overall defensive game even though he is already good at anticipating steals.

Simmons plays a vital role on the team Ansari said.

“He is very important as he is our leading scorer returning from last year,” the coach said. “He gives us a 3-point outside threat, but he is getting better at the other aspects of the game. When he is on having a good game that really does make a difference, but when he is off we tend to struggle a little.”

Ansari said the team as a whole needs to be more vocal as there is only one senior and one junior starting. However, he has noticed that Simmons has been taking on more responsibility as a leader of the team.

Simmons also has noticed this, he said.

“I feel like I have to this year, because of the (credentials) that I won last year and the examples that I have set last year as a team,” Simmons said. “Now, that I know them more, I feel like I can talk to them better and show them the way on the court.”

According to the SUNYAC website, Simmons leads the conference in scoring averaging 21.3 points per a game, steals averaging 3.17 per a game and 3-point field goals made averaging 4.0 a game. Also, Simmons is 12th in the conference in field goal percentage with a .522 percentage. He is fourth in the conference in 3-point field goal percentage with a .480 percentage and is second in the conference in minutes played, averaging 34.17 minutes per a game.

To Simmons the award is a big deal.

“It is a great achievement, because this is one of the biggest awards I have ever won in my entire life,” he said.

Times have changed

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For almost 40 years WGRZ’s Sports Director Ed Kilgore has been coming into the homes of many viewers around the Western New York area anchoring the nightly sports broadcast.

Many things have changed in that time, so I sat down with the man to discuss just how things have changed in the sports media industry and more. However, to truly understand how much of difference there is you have to start at the beginning.

For Kilgore it all started with a passion for sports.

“Well I always had an interest in sports and I played sports in high school and in college,” Kilgore said. “It’s funny there were a lot different ways I could have gone whether it was coaching, administration or P.R. it just so happens that in college I actually sort of gravitated towards journalism when I got into the University of Missouri. I was going to be in sports somewhere along the ways however I got into it.”

Kilgore attended the University of Missouri on a baseball scholarship while majoring in journalism. He would actually go on to point out later in the interview that he had a pretty good fastball back then with it topping out at 85 m.p.h.  Back then most pitchers fastballs were in the 80 m.p.h. range, so having a fastball that fast was a big deal then.

He went on to graduate from the University of Missouri in 1969, and it was not too long there after that he landed his first job. In 1970 WOAI-TV in San Antonio, Texas hired him as a anchor/ photographer.

Kilgore would go onto state sometimes it comes down to coincidence.

“I had tapes, letters and resumes out all over the place and I got a phone call from a news director at the television station in San Antonio,” Kilgore said. “The only reason he called me is because I had gone to Missouri and they had good luck with journalism graduates from there. So, it was really just a courtesy call, but I talked him into letting me come there to talk to him personally. That’s really how it worked was I went down and met with him and was hired on the spot.”

Kilgore would stay put at WOAI for two years until moving on to KTRK-TV in Houston to become the weekend sports anchor/ photographer in 1972. However, that wouldn’t last as long as a much bigger opportunity popped up as in 1973 he left to become the Sports Director at WGRZ-TV Channel Two where he still remains after 37 years.

When Kilgore first came to Buffalo it was a much bigger market then.

“It was coming to a smaller market, but it was a better job,” Kilgore said. “I was the number two guy in Houston doing weekends, but here I would be the Sports Director and at the time I came to Buffalo Buffalo was a bigger market than it is now. It had the NBA Buffalo Braves here, so they had three major league sports teams when I came here. So, I raised a family here and just stayed.”

Having a good paying full-time job in a market with three major sports teams sounds like a fantastic job to have.  However, like all jobs even being a Sports Director for a television station has its drawbacks.

One of the aspects of being a journalist that teachers point out right away in college is the hours.  News can happen at anytime day or night, and even on holidays. So, a journalist better be prepared and the same goes for anchors.

For Kilgore balancing work life with family life isn’t easy.

“It is not always easy, because my hours are so weird and it use to be a lot more when I use to travel with the Sabres,” Kilgore said. “I have a very understanding wife and my daughter is already out of college, but basically working the three to midnight shift and she has a lot of things she does and we are able to spend some time together during the day and then of course weekends. It hasn’t been easy, but it has worked out well.”

Obviously, with the improvement of technology many things have changed since Kilgore first came to Buffalo. According to Kilgore back when he first started here there was not nearly as many local reports covering the Bills as

“It is different now, because there use to be a lot fewer reporters,” Kilgore said. “When I was first covering the Bills I use to be out there all the time, but you didn’t have as many radio stations, you didn’t have ESPN and you didn’t nearly have as many local people even covering the teams.”

According to Kilgore, due to the amount of coverage sports get today things have changed when it comes to developing contacts.  Back then a journalist could easily develop a relationship with a player, but now thanks to the increased coverage athletes are very careful with whom they talk to.

Kilgore went on to state that a great way for journalists to develop a relationship with a player is through charity events as not only it is raising money for charity athletes are more willing to open up, because there is very little coverage of them. Most of the time athletes are worried that something as harmless as an opinion on a coach’s decision.

Even though many athletes today are not as friendly as they use to be there are still some out there.

“Some are still great and hockey players are the best to deal with more than anybody,” Kilgore said. “That may be because they come from smaller cities, but I find that dealing with athletes has become more difficult as the years go by, because they make so much money now, there is a lot of demand on their time and the media has become more critical over time than it used to be. It use to be the media might overlook a few things, because they had a good relationship with the athletes, but not now everything is fair game with cell phones and Twitter and other things if they misstep that is when the media is all over them, so now there is a lot of distrust there.”

In addition to being the Sports Director at Channel Two, according to the Buffalo Broadcasters Hall of Fame website Kilgore has hosted numerous shows that included former Buffalo Bills head coaches Lou Saban (1973) and Chuck Knox (1979 and 1980), along with former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly (1987-1997). He was also the intermission host for Buffalo Sabres television on WGRZ from 1978-1998.

Finally, for young men and women just entering the journalism mastering is a key.

“Being a master of a lot of different things,” Kilgore said. “The internet is where it is at, learn to write and learn all you can about the internet and how to get your content out that way. When I first broke in I just went on camera, but I learned how to shoot too.”

Now, it is a must I mean being on camera and being a sports anchor is the last step of the process before you get there you are not going to be hired as announcer or a sports caster that won’t happen, never,” he continued. “You better learn how to shoot, how to edit on the new Advid systems, learn how to produce how to do a little bit of everything.”

I wouldn’t be surprise

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We hear it time and time again about how violent the game of football is.

However, I wouldn’t be surprise that injuries are up from last year for a whole other reason.

Yes, football is violent, but that is not the problem within the National Football League. Nor, is it the numerous head to head hits on defenseless players.

The problem is the actual field that NFL teams are playing on.

Each and every week we hear about how a player tears a ligament, pulls a hamstring or suffers a high ankle sprain. Even some concussions can be blamed on it.

The problem is that field turf is not forgiving, and even a study by the NFL found that players have a 88 percent higher chance of suffering a anterior cruciate ligament injury on field turf than on grass.  The study also showed an increase in lower extremities injury.

One thing that hasn’t been mentioned yet is concussions.  Every year there are quarterbacks that suffer concussions when their heads hit the ground. Field turf is part of the problem as well.

Many people forget Sir Isaac Newton’s third law of motion that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Basically, grass is more able to absorb more energy that is exerted from player when he hits the ground.  When a player smacks the ground on field turf, since there is no give, that energy is then exerted back on the player, which basically means that on field turf a player’s brain is rattling around a lot where on grass it doesn’t rattle around as much.

In the end, when the NFL and congress realize this not only will field turf be gone from the NFL you can kiss it goodbye from every other sport.