Life’s Challenges Can’t Stop Michael Roberts

November 28th, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in From Our Alumni

Toledo senior overcomes a difficult childhood and family tragedy to become one of the nation’s best tight ends

By Paul Helgren, University of Toledo Associate Athletic Director for Communications

michael-roberts-vs-bgsu-10-15-16oSomething in Michael Roberts just snapped. And it wasn’t the first time, either.

He was used to the teasing from the other kids. That was nothing new. A chunky kid with speech problems, Michael was a regular target for cruel taunts at Union Elementary School in Cleveland. But this one boy, Robert, was another story. He knew how to push Michael’s rage button. Robert had been held back, so he was older and bigger than the other third graders in Ms. Mitchell’s classroom. And while Michael may have a frequent target for Robert’s abuse, he was by no means a passive one. And this time Robert had definitely crossed the line.

“He said something about my mother. I think he said my mother was fat,” said Michael, now a senior tight end for the Toledo Rockets. “I kind of lost it. It was a pretty bad fight, actually.”

Michael picked up a plastic chair and tossed it at Robert, striking him and igniting a bloody fight that spilled into the hallway. It took three teachers to separate them. It was Michael’s third fight at Union that school year and his last. He was expelled. By the time he was in fifth grade, Michael would be kicked out of four different elementary schools. Eventually he was placed in the Education Alternative School, a school for behaviorally challenged youngsters. Troubles of various kinds, much of it not of his own making, seemed to follow him throughout his childhood.

Those difficult times are in the rearview mirror for Michael Roberts these days. One of the most popular players on the Toledo football team, Michael is a criminal justice major who expects to graduate in December. On the football field, he’s having a terrific senior season. At 6-foot-5, 270 pounds, he’s considered one of the best tight ends in the country and has aspirations to play in the NFL. With a bowl game remaining, he has caught 43 passes this season, the most ever by any receiver in UT history in a single season. He’s twice caught three TDs, in Toledo’s 42-35 win over Bowling Green and again in the regular-season finale at Western Michigan.

So while Michael’s story may have a happy ending, it certainly did not start out that way. Even his biggest supporters could not have imagined the heights he would reach.

“There was never any doubt in my mind that Michael would be a success in life,” said his mother, Maria Young. “But did I think he would be where he is today? I have to be honest and say I didn’t. He’s just an amazing young man. He amazes me every day.”

Difficult Childhood on East Side of Cleveland

It’s only two hours from Cleveland to Toledo, but it’s a full life’s journey from Michael’s humble origins to his life in the spotlight today. Expulsions from school were only one of many challenges he faced growing up. He was raised in a rough neighborhood on the east side of Cleveland. His father, whom he never really knew growing up, was sent to prison for robbery and assault when Michael was 12 years old. A speech impediment and attention deficit issues made learning difficult. And a pair of tragic deaths during his senior year of high school nearly derailed his plans to attend college on a football scholarship.

“I grew up around a lot of poisonous people that didn’t have my best interests, or their own actually, at heart,” said Michael. “At the time, I was blinded by just wanting to have fun and be around my friends and people that I saw every day.

“I’m a very different person than I used to be. I feel like I’m adapting into the person I would like to be. I’ve matured as a student, a player and a person. I think what helped me as I got older was realizing some of things that my mom sacrificed for me. I didn’t have a lot growing up, so I’ve always been appreciative of the little things.”

Maria Young was a struggling inner-city single mother, but she was relentless in her pursuit of a better life for Michael and her other son, Freeman. She sought help for Michael’s speech problems at the Cleveland Speech and Hearing Center. She pursued solutions for his attention deficit problems. And despite the anger and violence Michael displayed as a youth, she never lost faith in him. She felt strongly that he was a good kid with great potential. She just needed to get him into a more positive environment.

The process was a slow one, but she never gave up hope. Michael’s string of school expulsions ended in fifth grade when he settled into the Education Alternative School (EAS) in nearby Willoughby. There, Michael got help for his speech problem, a language-processing issue which he eventually conquered. He also received a confirmed diagnosis for ADHD, treatment of which greatly aided his learning capability. But at the time he wanted no part of EAS. None of his friends were there and there were no real challenges for his bright but undeveloped young mind.

“It was a school for kids with behavioral problems, basically,” he said. “The focus was on how you behave and how to help someone suffering from a behavior problem. They did their best but it wasn’t an academic environment. No one was stretching you to be a better student. They were trying to help you be a better person. But it wasn’t challenging. I breezed my way through it.”

In eighth grade, his final semester of middle school, Michael was at last allowed to re-enter a “regular” school with all his friends, back at Union Elementary School, the very same school that kicked him out of five years earlier. Michael was happy with the move but it confirmed for his mother that she needed to get him into a school outside of their area. “I knew I didn’t want him to attend our neighborhood school, but I wasn’t sure what to do” said Maria.

Basketball and the Big Break

That’s when Michael’s first big break came along. Maria was looking for a healthy activity for Michael, so she signed him up to play basketball at a local rec center. An AAU coach eyed his now 6-foot-2 frame and natural athleticism. One thing led to another.

“Lo and behold, a recruiter came to my house sometime after that and asked if Michael would like to play basketball at Benedictine,” said Maria. “It was the answer we were looking for.”

Michael agreed that attending Benedictine changed his life.

“So many things really helped me become who I am but I think the biggest thing that helped my life was being forced to go into a Catholic school,” he said. “Learning proper etiquette, how to do certain things, how to be respectful and have a proper tone with others, I think that was really the biggest thing in my life.  My life changed when I went to Benedictine.”

Michael made friends at Benedictine and developed into a basketball (and later football) star. But it took him a long time to adjust to the structure and academic rigor of a parochial school.

“I was forced to come to this all-boys school that I had no clue about, so I kind of rebelled at first,” said Michael. “I didn’t do well academically. Not wanting to be there played a very big role in my unhappiness in my first two years. I really didn’t turn that attitude around until I got my first college scholarship offer to play football at the University of Louisville. It made me think, I can actually go somewhere and do something, be someone instead of just falling in line and becoming the usual statistic where I’m from.”

Armed with fresh motivation, Michael’s life began to change. He made dramatic improvements in the classroom and became a leader on the basketball and football teams. In his senior season, he accepted a scholarship offer to play football at Ohio University. For the first time in his life, everything seemed to be going his way.

Then tragedy struck. Twice.

A Season of Loss

michael-roberts-with-grandmaDeborah Young was more than just Michael’s grandmother. She was his childhood best friend and confidant, but she also knew how to light a fire under him when he needed it. Michael was her first grandson and she loved him dearly. He loved her every bit as much.

It was October of Michael’s senior season at Benedictine. The Bengals had just defeated their rival, Cleveland Central Catholic. Michael, who caught two touchdown passes, was celebrating with his teammates when he noticed his mother walking onto the field. “She had never been on the field before so I knew something was up,” Michael said.

Maria knew that Michael had plans to join up with his friends after the game, so she wanted him to know right away that his grandmother had been hospitalized. Her situation was looking grim. “I went straight to the hospital with my uniform and pads and everything still on,” said Michael. “I cried and cried when I saw her.”

Deborah Young had been diagnosed with cancer that began in her liver and spread quickly. On December 21, a little more than two months after her diagnosis, she was gone. Michael was devastated.

“My Grandma was the rock of our family,” he said. “She held the family together. I was her first grandson. We had an unbelievable connection. She was like my best friend. We used to talk for hours on the phone. She was the reason I started playing football because she loved watching it. She was a huge Browns fan. She made us all watch the Browns every Sunday, which was usually a loss but she didn’t care.

“I was in the hospital every day when she was sick. My grades suffered. The people at Benedictine helped me as best they could, but I was mentally exhausted.”

In the months following his grandmother’s death, Michael began to lose his motivation. Without his beloved grandma to urge him on, he lost interest in school. He didn’t feel the same joy playing sports, either. He wasn’t even sure anymore if he would go to college. Right about then he was hit with the second blow in less than five months.

The news came from an unlikely source. “Lake Erie Correctional Institution” lit up on Michael’s caller ID. It was his father, Michael Roberts, Sr., calling from prison. Michael didn’t take the call. Or the dozens that followed. Finally, annoyed, he picked up and received the heart-wrenching news.  One of Michael’s younger brothers, Cameron, had been killed by a single gunshot wound to the stomach. The death was later ruled accidental.

“It’s something you don’t come to grips with at first. It was very unbelievable when I first heard it,” said Michael. “Then you are just kind of replaying the moments that you had together. You never expect to have to bury your younger brother. That was the last time I actually cried until the BYU game.”

The loss of two loved ones in such a short period of time was almost too much for Michael to handle. He felt like giving up. Two days after his brother’s funeral, Michael informed his mother he wasn’t going to college. She would have none of it.

“Look how far you’ve come, everything you’ve accomplished. You can’t throw it away now,” she said. “Grandma is up in heaven cussing you out right now.” That talk set things straight. Michael was going to college.

As painful as that period in his life was, Michael now finds positive meaning in the experience.

“I use my brother and my grandmother as inspiration in all things I do,” he said. “I’ll never get a chance to say hello or goodbye to them, so I just use their spirit. I’ve been through a lot of personal battles so I use that to build my strength. I’ve done my grieving.  I try to use my grief to positively affect my life.

michael-roberts-with-cards-2“There are a lot of reminders of them that I keep close to me. From my brother’s funeral, I have a shirt that his mother made with Cam’s face on it that says ‘I am my brother’s keeper.’ It’s the last thing I have of my brother’s so I still wear it with pride. From my grandma, I have six birthday cards that I keep. I had them laminated. I bring the last two cards she gave me in travel bag for every game, home and away, and read them before every game and put them in my locker.

“Losing my grandmother was the hardest thing I’ve been through. But I feel like I can use that. If I’ve been through something like that, what’s another sprint in practice? I hate running at practice. But I use that. I tell myself, I can finish this sprint. I’ve been through worse. Might as well put my head down and grind through what’s in front of me.”

A Change of Heart and Michael’s “Other” Families

Michael needed another dose of that positive attitude a few months later. A little more than week before he was to depart for college, he got the word from his high school coach. The NCAA Clearinghouse ruled him academically ineligible to play football as a freshman. If he went to Ohio University, or any Division I college for that matter, he would have to pay his own way. He wasn’t sure what to do now, but he felt he needed to change his course. He picked up the phone and called then-Toledo head coach Matt Campbell.

Toledo was a close second choice of colleges for Michael, but he was attracted Ohio’s rural setting. It was about as different from the east side of Cleveland as you could get. After he choose Ohio, Michael called Campbell to tell him the news. Campbell was gracious and told him if he changed his mind he would always have a home in Toledo.  “So I called him a week before school started and asked him if I could still come to Toledo,” said Michael. “He said yes, definitely.”

Michael was happy with his choice of schools, but he still had a tough road ahead of him. Being academically ineligible meant he couldn’t practice with the team until January. He also had to pay his own way for school, which meant working two and sometimes three jobs to make ends meet. But one thing that helped Michael through that transition period was support from an unlikely source.

michael-roberts-with-kobylinskisThe Kobylinskis are an ordinary suburban family from Brecksville, halfway between Cleveland and Akron. Mark Kobylinski is a teacher and assistant football coach at Benedictine. He and his wife Nichole, and their three children, have basically adopted Michael.

“I’m very close with the whole family,” said Michael. “I call Mrs. Kobylinski ‘mom.’ I call Mr. Kobylinski “coach.” Every time I go home, I make sure I stop by and say hello to the ‘brothers and sisters” from my other family.”

The relationship began when the Kobylinskis’ youngest son, Brayden, began attending Benedictine boys’ basketball games with his family. His favorite player by far was Michael Roberts.

“Brayden thought Michael was a superhero,” said Nicole. “He was four years old at the time. When it came for his turn for show and tell at preschool, he said he wanted to bring Mike Roberts. He was upset when we told him you can’t bring a person to show and tell. So I called the teacher and she suggested having Michael come and visit with the kids for a morning. He did, and all the kids loved him.”

The Kobylinskis told Michael they would do whatever they could to help him, and they did. Mark helped him navigate some of the details of last-second enrollment at Toledo. The whole family helped him pack up for his move to his dorm at UT. They even held a last-minute graduation party for him at their home.

michael-roberts-with-nicole“At that point we decided to see him through to the end,” said Nicole. “We didn’t care if he played football or not. We just wanted to see him go to college. From there the relationship took off. We just love him. My kids look upon him like a big brother. We come to as many UT games as we can, and we listen or watch on the Internet if we can’t make it. I text him throughout the game and right afterward just so he can see the messages later and know we were watching the game.”

Nicole was a little worried at first about what Michael’s mother might think of an unknown white family playing such a big role in her son’s life. Maria was concerned at first, but that quickly changed when she met the Kobylinskis.

“At first I admit I was a little jealous but they have been absolutely amazing from day one,” said Maria. “They are an inspiration. I love them. I couldn’t ask for a better influence for my son. I really appreciate everything they’ve done for him and I want them to know that. They are always there for him.”

Said Nicole, “Unfortunately, some people see us and think it’s like that movie, ‘The Blind Side.’ It’s not like that at all. We don’t have any money. My husband is a Catholic school teacher. And Michael has a mom who loves him and has been a really good mother under very difficult circumstances at times. We’re all good friends now. I talk with Maria often. I tell her, ‘Thanks for sharing Michael.’ He’s like a gift from God. We’re just here for him.”

In addition to adding the Kobylinskis into his extended “family,” Michael has also been able to reunite with an actual blood relative—his father. Michael Roberts, Sr., who was released from prison in 2014. He has since moved to Virginia, got married, and began working as a short-order chef. He is basically starting his life over.

“He’s doing very well for himself, actually,” said Michael of his father. “I visited him and his new family for the first time last summer (in 2015). He and his wife, Amber, have three kids. They just had a baby girl. They are a very nice family. I even went to church with them. It made me feel like they are the kind of family I wish I had growing up.

“I’d say we’ve become the closest that we’ve ever been. He’s talked about coming to a football game. He says he’s coming to my graduation. He’s definitely making the effort. I’m very proud of how he has transitioned into becoming an adult.”

“This is Your Time”

With so many challenges facing Michael, it’s somewhat ironic that the last thing to fall into place for him at college was what got him there in the first place – playing football. For most of his college football career, he wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire. After sitting out his grayshirt year, Michael played sparingly as a freshman in 2013. In 2014, he appeared in nine games and had just four receptions, though two were for touchdowns. Finally, in 2015, he began to break through. Splitting time at tight end with Alex Zmolik, Michael caught 21 passes for 234 yards and four touchdowns. Good numbers, but nothing like the eye-popping stats he has been putting up this season. For Michael, it’s been a long time coming.

“I won’t lie, it hasn’t always been easy,” said Michael. “Lots of times I would call my mom because I wasn’t playing, or no balls were coming my way. But I can pretty much get through anything. It really comes down to how you view things. I’ve used everything that’s happened to me in positive light. If I didn’t, I might have self-destructed by now.”

Those words have special meaning for Maria. No one is enjoying his success this year more than she is. After all, she never had any doubt he would be a success.

“I’m so loving it,” she said. “I kept telling him his time would come. So this year with all the success he’s having, I told him, this, right here, right now. This is your time.”

Has anyone ever deserved it more?

Did you like this? Share it:

Basketball Preview

November 28th, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in The Rockets
Toledo Men Expected to Compete for MAC Title

Since taking the reins at Toledo in 2010, Head Coach Tod Kowalczyk’s objective for the men’s program hasn’t wavered. He expects his teams to compete for the Mid-American Conference Championship every season and the 2016-17 campaign isn’t being viewed any differently.

“Our goal each year is to win the conference title and that will never change,” said Kowalczyk, who has guided UT to the second-most wins (64) in the MAC over the last three years. “We captured the regular-season title in 2014 and then came up just a little bit short in 2015. Last year was a season of transition for our program. We lost three really good all-league players from the previous year, brought in six new players, had one senior on our roster and we knew we would have some growing pains. I thought for 80 percent of our season, we were a team that had some really good moments.”

Toledo appeared ready to make some noise in conference play after opening February with back-to-back road wins over Kent State and eventual MAC Tournament champion Buffalo sandwiched by convincing home triumphs over Western Michigan and Miami. The Rockets entered their stretch run tied for first place in the MAC’s West Division but ended up dropping six of their last seven contests with each defeat being decided in the last four minutes.

“We showed we could compete with any team in the league last season,” Kowalczyk said. “We were extremely disappointed in how we finished the year, and we really struggled in close games down the stretch. We were in a lot of games with chances to win, but we didn’t get the job done.”

The Rockets’ seventh-year head coach is eager to get the upcoming season underway with a squad that he believes can be strong at both ends of the court.

“We’re a very skilled program, and I think one of our strengths will be our ability to shoot the basketball,” said Kowalczyk following three straight seasons of being one of the top two scoring squads in the MAC. “I think we can be good defensively as well, if we defend the three better. That was the one area we really struggled with last year, but the rest of our defense was pretty darn good.”

Kowalczyk also feels that the Rockets’ rebounding can improve thanks to a deeper, more athletic squad. UT paced the MAC in defensive rebound percentage (.757) but ranked ninth on the offensive end (.279).

“We were a very good defensive rebounding team last year, but we weren’t great on the offensive boards,” Kowalczyk said. “I think this year’s team can be really good on the offensive glass and an exceptional defensive rebounding team as well with the additions we’ve made to our roster.”

FRONTCOURT

Replacing first-team All-MAC center Nathan Boothe will be a tough task for Toledo. The Gurnee, IL native provided the Rockets with a prolific inside-outside threat, topping the conference with 19.3 points per game and ranking third with 9.0 rebounds per game. He also ranked second on the team with 3.4 assists per game and notched a 37.5 three-point field-goal percentage (33-of-88).

Kowalczyk believes he has some very good options, though, to fill the void left by a four-year starter who finished his Rocket career tied for 10th in points (1,494) and rebounds (777). “We’re obviously losing a great player in Nathan, but I think one of our strengths this season will again be our interior play,” Kowalczyk said. “We had two really talented post players – senior Steve Taylor Jr. (6-9, 240) and redshirt freshman Luke Knapke (6-11, 235) – sitting out, and they will join senior Zach Garber (6-10, 245), who had his best season for us last year.”

steve-taylor-jr-41Taylor joined the Rockets’ program in the spring of 2015 following three seasons at Marquette. He averaged 5.9 ppg and 5.0 rpg in his final campaign, including a career-best 20-point, seven-board effort at No. 20 Ohio State. He also grabbed a career-best 17 rebounds vs. St. John’s (March 4), the most by a Marquette player in Big East play in six seasons. “Steve is an unbelievably physical player who has a great feel for the game,” Kowalczyk said. “He’s much more of a perimeter player than he is a post guy even with his size. He’s really good at making basketball plays and basketball decisions. We’re going to move him all over the floor. We’re going to put him in some pick and rolls, we’re going to post him up and we’re going to isolate him on the perimeter. There’s a lot of ways he can be effective for us.”

Knapke, who gained nearly 25 pounds since setting foot on UT’s campus last summer, is expected to provide the Rockets another inside-outside threat in the frontcourt. During his prep career, Knapke earned Ohio Hoops Division IV second-team all-state honors as a senior at Marion Local High School.

“Luke had a great year in the weight room and is a lot bigger and stronger now,” Kowalczyk said. “His confidence and overall game is growing by leaps and bounds every day. Luke can step out on the perimeter or play in the post, and he certainly has an extremely bright future for us.”

Garber emerged as a key contributor for the Rockets last year when he joined UT’s starting lineup in mid-December. He finished the season with career highs in points (6.0), rebounds (4.8) and minutes (18.3) per game and paced the Rockets with a 62.1 field-goal percentage (59-of-95). “Zach took a big step last year when we put him in the starting lineup,” Kowalczyk said. “It was good to see him take advantage of that opportunity. Zach’s a smart player who provides intangibles that help teams win.”

Another candidate for playing time in the post is sophomore forward Taylor Adway (6-9, 215), who averaged 1.6 points and 1.6 rebounds in 8.1 minutes per contest.

“We’re extremely high on Taylor,” Kowalczyk said. “When I look back at last season, my biggest regret is I should have played Taylor more. Taylor has had a great off-season and did a lot of workouts both on the perimeter and in the post.”

Providing a perimeter presence in the frontcourt will be sophomore forward Nate Navigato (6-8, 215), one of the MAC’s top returning perimeter shooters. He averaged 8.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 22.8 minutes per game and paced UT in 3PTFG% (38.4) and FT% (83.3). He also ranked second in three-point field goals made (61) and three-point field-goal attempts (159). “Nate is a great shooter and a big key for him is to get stronger,” Kowalczyk said. “He needs to spend a lot of time in the weight room and that will make a huge difference in terms of his rebounding and defense.”

Freshman James Gordon IV (6-5, 215) is expected to give the Rockets additional depth after spending his senior year at Simeon Career Academy in Chicago, IL. The Shelbyville, KY native averaged 13.1 points with the Wolverines after tallying 12.6 points per game and earning all-region honors as a junior at Shelby County High School. “James provides us athleticism and size at the wing position,” Kowalczyk said. “He gained a lot of experience this past year playing for one of the top high-school programs in the country. It was a great opportunity for him to test himself against some outstanding competition.”

BACKCOURT

jonathan-williams-vs-oakland-12-12-2015z The Rockets will feature a quicker, deeper backcourt this year with senior Jonathan Williams (6-3, 200) expected to lead the way. Williams will be joined by a pair of veterans – senior Jordan Lauf (6-5, 200) and sophomore Jaelan Sanford (6-4, 195) – as well as two newcomers – junior Lucas Antunez (6-3, 175) and freshman Justin Roberts (5-10, 170).

A Southfield, MI native, Williams earned third-team All-MAC honors after ranking third in the MAC with 17.6 points per game. He also topped the Rockets with 70 treys, registered 13, 20-point outings and tallied 14 or more points in all but three games.

“Jon-Jon took a huge step on the court with his maturity level last year,” Kowalczyk said. “I think he has to take an additional step in his development this season to be a first-team all-league player. Jon-Jon has to become better defensively, and cut down on his turnovers. Those are two areas that we’re really trying to impress upon him, and he’ll be better in both areas. If he can just take out one turnover a game, it would really help our program.”

Lauf has served as one of the Rockets’ key bench contributors over the past three years and averaged a career-best 4.6 points and 3.8 rebounds in a career-high 24.2 minutes per contest in 2015-16. “Jordan needs to continue to shoot the ball consistently and keep making all his tough, hustle-type plays,” Kowalczyk said. “He can guard multiple positions defensively and his leadership provides a lot of value to our program.”

Sanford started all 32 games and averaged 8.2 points per game in his rookie campaign. He registered a 35.0 three-point field-goal percentage and ranked third on the team with 48 three-point field goals and an 81.4 free-throw percentage. “Jaelan possesses great basketball instincts and was hands down our best perimeter defender in conference play last year,” Kowalczyk said. “He just needs to be more aggressive. When he was aggressive last season, he did what comes natural to him and made basketball plays.”

A Madrid, Spain native, Antunez played at North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene, ID and helped the Cardinals to a 31-2 win-loss mark in 2015-16 en route to a Scenic West Athletic Conference title and a No. 3 ranking in the final NJCAA poll. He earned second-team all-region accolades last season after averaging 8.4 points, 3.8 assists, 3.7 assists and 1.5 steals with a 45.1 FG%, 31.3 three-point FG% and 87.8 FT% in 23.5 minutes per game. “Lucas is a bigger point guard who’s a pass-first guy,” Kowalczyk said. “He’s a system player, and a guy that I think will really flourish in our system.”

A first-team Kansas Basketball Coaches Association (KBCA) all-state selection this past year, Roberts was tabbed the Lawrence Journal-World All-Area Player of Year after averaging 19.9 points, 3.1 assists and 3.0 steals per game as a senior for Lawrence High School. Roberts finished as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,549 points and led the Lions to Class 6A Final Four appearances as a junior and senior. “Justin is a coach’s son, who is tough-minded, understands the game, possesses great leadership qualities and a great floor presence,” Kowalczyk said. “The biggest key for him is being able to defend at the collegiate level. He’s very athletic and very capable.”

Toledo Women Will Feature Depth, Quickness and Athleticism in 2016-17

The Toledo women’s basketball roster will feature increased depth, improved quickness and athleticism at all spots in 2016-17.

UT will field a roster this year that includes two seniors, four juniors, five sophomores and three freshmen. As far as numbers go, the Rockets welcome back 63.9 percent of their scoring, 71.1 percent of their rebounding, 51.5 percent of their assists and 73.3 percent of their steals for this season.

“We will be quicker, more athletic and deeper than we’ve been in previous years,” ninth-year head coach Tricia Cullop said. “Our quickness and athleticism should help us improve on the defensive end and allow us to become quicker in transition offensively.”

A year ago, the Midnight Blue & Gold finished with a 17-13 overall record and a 12-6 ledger in the Mid-American Conference. UT placed third in the MAC West Division standings and earned a first-round bye in the league tournament. Toledo overcame a slow start to the year by winning 17 of its final 24 games. Along the way, they rattled off nine victories in a 10-game stretch, including two wins at the Arizona State University Classic to capture the tourney title.

“Last season, we challenged our team with one of the toughest non-conference schedules in program history,” Cullop said. “At one time it was considered the 15th-most difficult in the nation. Although we started out of the gate in a tough stretch, I thought it made us better. When we went to the Arizona State tournament, I believe everything came together and winning that tournament provided us the confidence we needed to finish the season strong.”

Despite last season’s solid finish, Toledo was not picked to participate in postseason play, marking only the third time in eight seasons the team did not make the postseason. Coach Cullop hopes the returnees use the sour taste left in their mouths as a bit of motivation for the 2016-17 campaign.

“We narrowly missed the Postseason WNIT field last season, as their contact confirmed we were on the board until the end,” Cullop said. “It was frustrating to finish the season with an RPI of 117 and see teams with RPI’s ranging from 140-160 make the field. While we can’t control what a committee decides, we can only control our resume. Our goal has always been to make the post-season with the NCAA Tournament as the main target. We also have to remind everyone that we finished fourth in the MAC last year and earned a bye in the league tournament with a young team. We only graduated two players. I’m very excited about the potential of this year’s team, especially because our returnees are hungry for more and will serve as great mentors for our newcomers.”

With 14 players on the roster, Cullop expects the Rockets to maintain their efficient offense and improve their defensive efforts.

“Last season, we were very productive on the offensive end (fourth in scoring, second in overall field-goal percentage and third in three-point field-goal percentage) in MAC games,” Cullop said. “This year, our focus will be to improve our defense and rebounding. We are bringing in a strong recruiting class that should help us in these two areas, and we will be stressing both with our team.”

Added Cullop, “We also want to run more this season. I thought we improved greatly in that area last year, but we can still be better. I would also like to be more aggressive on the defensive end and use a full-court press more.”

FRONTCOURT

NCAA BASKETBALL:  Women's - Toledo at Bowling GreenJanice Monakana (London, England), a 6-foot-0 forward, may be as versatile as any player on the Rockets’ roster. Monakana possesses the ability to drive to the basket, post up and shoot from beyond the arc.

Overall in 2015-16, Monakana averaged 11.1 points, a team-high 5.9 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.2 blocks and 0.9 steals in 26.4 minutes per game, en route to earning honorable mention All-MAC recognition. She started 28 of 30 contests and was tied for third in the MAC in free throw percentage (.833, 85-of-102), 13th in defensive caroms (4.3 rpg), 18th in overall rebounding and 21st in scoring.

The three-year letterwinner scored in double figures on 17 occasions last season, the third-highest total on the squad, including a career-high 28 points at Bowling Green (Feb. 17).

The 2016-17 team captain led the Rockets in rebounding on a squad-best 10 occasions, thefts nine times, scoring on seven occasions and blocked shots three times. In MAC contests, Monakana tallied 11.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.2 bpg and 0.7 spg in 26.5 mpg. Monakana currently ranks 10th in school history in career free throw percentage (.772, 207-of-268).  “Janice is one of the highest basketball IQ players on our team,” Cullop said. “She understands the game, how to score and has matured every year that she’s been here. She’s been effective driving to the basket, posting up and shooting from three-point land. We’ve been working hard on her mid-range game. Even though she was one of our top rebounders, I believe she can excel even more in this area.”

NCAA BASKETBALL:  Women's - Ohio at ToledoOne of two seniors on the team, Sophie Reecher (Byron, IL), a 6-foot-3 center, will once again be one of the Rockets’ leaders in 2016-17. Reecher possesses a soft touch around the basket as well as 15-foot range. A three-year letterwinner, she has started 58 of 63 games over the last two seasons.

Overall in 2015-16, Reecher averaged 4.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 0.2 assists, 0.3 blocks and 0.4 steals in 16.4 minutes. She ranked second on the team in overall field-goal percentage (.535, 54-of-101), tied for third in rejections (10) and games started (29) and fifth in overall rebounding.

The three-time team captain also scored in double figures on four occasions last season, the sixth-highest total on the team, including a season-high 14 points vs. Columbia in the first round of the ASU Classic. The 2015-16 Academic All-MAC honoree led the Rockets in blocked shots on seven occasions, thefts four times, rebounding on three occasions and scoring once.

“Sophie had a really strong off-season,” Cullop said. “I have been very impressed with her work ethic, attention to detail and competitiveness. Sophie really wants to be a go-to low block scorer for us and if she continues to work on this, I fully intend for her to be. In addition to her basketball ability, Sophie is a very strong team leader.”

Another veteran back in UT’s frontcourt in 2016-17 will be sophomore Kaayla McIntyre (Toledo, OH). A 6-foot-2 center, McIntyre possesses great footwork, can block shots and rebound, as well as score on the low block or from the high-post area.

A 6-foot-2 center, McIntyre stepped up her game against league competition in 2016, tallying 8.6 points, a team-high 5.7 caroms, 0.5 helpers, a squad-best 0.8 rejections and 0.4 thefts in 20.5 minutes. She led the league in overall field-goal percentage (.645, 71-of-110), as well as ranking tied for eighth in rejections, 15th in defensive caroms (4.2 rpg) and 20th in overall rebounding in league contests.

The 2015-16 MAC All-Freshman Team honoree also scored in double digits on six occasions in conference match-ups, including a season-high 18 points vs. MAC West Division champion Central Michigan. The Toledo native was credited with the game-winning offensive putback with 1.7 seconds left in regulation vs. the Chippewas.

Overall in 2015-16, McIntyre appeared in 27 games, averaging 6.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 0.4 assists, a team-high 0.6 blocks and 0.3 steals in 16.3 minutes. The 2015-16 MAC co-Sixth Player of the Year shot a single-season league-record 64.3 percent (81-of-126) from the floor. She led the Rockets in rejections nine times, rebounding on five occasions, thefts four times and scoring once.

“It still amazes me that Kaayla broke not only the UT overall field-goal percentage record, but the MAC record as well for a season,” Cullop said. “She has great touch around the basket and has proven herself as one of the most efficient low-block scorers in our league. Kaayla is working hard to improve her range, versatility and strength. We counted on her as a go-to scorer as a freshman, and all those minutes and experience should translate to more confidence this year.”

Junior Jada Woody (Canton, MI), junior Michaela Rasmussen (Chaska, MN) and sophomore Sarah St-Fort (Montreal, PQ) should also contend for playing minutes on the interior in 2016-17.

A 6-foot-1 wing, Woody has the ability to defend any player on the perimeter, as well as being a good passer in the open court. The two-year letterwinner was a solid contributor for Toledo in 2015-16, tallying 2.3 points, 1.3 rebounds, 0.2 assists, 0.3 blocks and 0.2 steals in 9.8 minutes per contest. The Canton, MI native totaled a career-high 11 points on two occasions last year against Arizona in the season opener and Arkansas-Pine Bluff in UT’s non-conference finale. Woody led the Rockets in rejections on eight occasions and thefts once.

“Jada really shot the ball well in off-season workouts,” Cullop said. “She saw key minutes last year backing up the power forward position. She’s quick enough to guard the two through four positions.”

A 6-foot-1 forward, Rasmussen runs the floor extremely well and can play inside or on the perimeter. She appeared in 22 games off the bench in 2015-16 and averaged 1.0 points, 1.4 rebounds, 0.1 assists and 0.2 steals in 8.9 minutes.

The two-year letterwinner totaled a season-high six boards and one helper in a season-best 26 minutes vs. Harvard in the consolation round at the URI Tip-Off Classic.  “Michaela really impressed our staff in the off-season,” Cullop said. “She worked on her three-point consistency, a quicker release and her versatility.”

A 5-foot-9 wing, St-Fort is a talented on-ball defender, as well as an explosive driver who can hit a pull-up jumper. Overall in 2015-16, St-Fort contributed 1.1 points, 1.4 rebounds, 0.1 assists and 0.3 steals in 6.8 minutes in 28 contests off the bench. She tallied a season-high six points, two boards and a season-tying best two thefts in only seven minutes vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff in UT’s non-league finale. “Sarah really emerged toward the end of last season,” Cullop said. “I believe she can become one of the best defenders in the MAC. She’s strong, quick and very athletic.”

Also expected to be factors in the frontcourt will be junior Mae Tshitenge (Nuechatel, Switzerland) and newcomer Tanaya Beacham (Youngstown, OH).

A 5-foot-10 forward, Tshitenge transferred from the Redlands Community College and will have two years of eligibility remaining. She is a solid rebounder and ball handler, to go along with being a good three-point shooter.

Tshitenge started all 29 games for the Cougars in 2015-16, averaging a team-high 13.6 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.3 steals, en route to collecting first-team all-conference and first-team NJCAA All-Region II accolades. She shot 53.3 percent (153-of-287) from the field, including 43.9 percent (29-of-66) from three-point range, and 81.9 percent (59-of-72) from the charity stripe. Tshitenge helped the team post a 23-8 overall record, including a 13-5 ledger in the division. She also poured in at least 10 points on 25 occasions throughout the year, including a season-high 22 points against Hill College.

“Mae can play inside or out,” Cullop said. “She’s a great rebounder and has the ability to shoot the three. She’s also a gifted defender.”

Beacham, a 6-foot-1 forward, is an unselfish player who provides plenty of energy. She is capable of playing multiple positions and possesses a soft shooting touch around the basket. Beacham tallied 14.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 1.2 steals per game as a senior team captain at nearby Toledo Rogers High School. She played a key role in helping the Rams successfully defend their City League title and reach the Division II regional final, en route to garnering third-team all-state, first-team all-district and first-team all-conference honors. She scored in double figures in 21 of 28 games, including a season-high 25 points against Notre Dame Academy. A three-star recruit, Beacham was listed as the No. 20 forward nationally by espn.com.

“Tanaya is a power forward who can really score and rebound,” Cullop said. “She’s a great athlete and a good scorer who I think will help us defensively and improve our rebounding efforts.”

BACKCOURT

j-a-bravo-harriott-vs-bowling-green-4The quarterback of UT’s backcourt in 2016-17 will be junior Jay-Ann Bravo-Harriott (London, England). Bravo-Harriott, a 5-foot-10 guard, averaged 11.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and a team-high 1.3 steals in 30.9 minutes in 2015-16, en route to earning honorable mention All-MAC recognition. One of two Rockets to start all 30 games a year ago, the 2016-17 team captain ranked 14th in the MAC in helpers and three-point field-goal percentage (.341, 46-of-135), 15th in assist/turnover ratio (1.0, 92-93) and 23rd in scoring.

The London, England native scored in double figures on 18 occasions in 2015-16, the second-highest total on the team, including a season-high 24 points vs. Western Michigan (Jan. 9). In MAC contests, Bravo-Harriott tallied 12.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.1 apg and a squad-best 1.3 spg in 31.6 mpg.

The 2015-16 Academic All-District 5 recipient led the Rockets in thefts on a squad-best 13 occasions, helpers seven times and scoring and rebounding on four occasions.

“Jay-Ann is a very intelligent player who has the best work ethic on our team,” Cullop said. “She’s pushed herself harder than anyone during off-season workouts and on her own to improve her ball-handling and the quickness of her shooting release. Even though everyone talks about her offense, I’m very excited about her defense. Last year, she was our team’s best defender, and I’m excited to see what this season brings.”

Other key components in Toledo’s backcourt will be sophomore Mikaela Boyd (Hillside, IL) and sophomore Halee Printz (Tipp City, OH).

Boyd, a 5-foot-7 guard, provided a spark off the bench for Toledo in 2015-16. A fierce competitor, Boyd tallied 2.8 points, 1.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 0.5 steals in 9.4 minutes in 27 games.

The third-year Rocket contributed at least seven points on four occasions last season, including a season-tying best nine points and a season-tying high two thefts in 24 minutes vs. Eastern Michigan (Feb. 24). She also totaled nine points against Arizona in the season opener. Boyd led the Rockets in scoring and steals on two occasions and rebounding, assists and blocked shots once.

“Mikaela has incredible quickness,” Cullop said. “She’s worked hard to improve her shot and ball-handling skills. Her competitiveness and drive are fun to watch.”

Printz, a 5-foot-11 guard, is a highly-skilled combo guard who can shoot, pass and handle the ball. She possesses the ability to get to the basket, score and draw fouls.  Printz provided quality minutes for Toledo in 2015-16, averaging 3.8 points, 1.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 0.4 steals in 16.8 minutes per game. She ranked third on the team in three-point field-goal percentage (.371, 23-of-62), fourth in helpers (40) and three-point field-goals made (23), fifth in minutes played and free throw percentage (.654, 17-of-26) and tied for fifth in thefts (12).

The Tipp City, OH native scored at least seven points on four occasions during the year, including a season-best 13 points in 24 minutes vs. Dayton. Printz led the Rockets in thefts on three occasions, assists twice and scoring and blocked shots once. “Halee has great offensive instincts, vision and is one of the best passers on the team,” Cullop said.

Also joining the mix will be sophomore Olivia Cunningham (Horn Lake, MS), freshman Sara Rokkanen (Helsinki, Finland) and freshman Mariella Santucci (Bologna, Italy).

A 5-foot-7 guard, Cunningham transferred from Murray State University and sat out the 2015-16 season per NCAA rules.

Cunningham started 26 of 29 games for the Ohio Valley Conference-member Racers in 2014-15, contributing 8.9 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 0.4 steals. She shot 37.1 percent (93-of-251) from the field, including 20.9 percent (9-of-43) from beyond the arc, and 61.2 percent (63-of-103) from the charity stripe in 23.2 minutes. Cunningham also scored in double figures on 12 occasions during the year, including a season-high 24 points against Tennessee Tech.

“Olivia received a lot of experience and playing time as a freshman at Murray State,” Cullop said. “She is a combo guard who brings us speed, quickness, athleticism and is someone who can score in a variety of ways.”

A 5-foot-10 wing, Rokkanen contributed 6.5 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.0 steals in 13.5 minutes per game for Finland’s National Team during the qualifying round for next summer’s FIBA EuroBasket Championships. She shot 41.7 percent (5-of-12) from the field, including 33.3 percent (2-of-6) from three-point range, and 50.0 percent (1-of-2) from the charity stripe in two contests. Rokkanen poured in 13 points and two thefts in 20 minutes against Spain.

“Sara is an incredible three-point shooter who also has a mid-range game,” Cullop said. “It will be fun to play her opposite of Jay-Ann (Bravo-Harriott) as it will put opponents in a tough position.”

A 5-foot-6 guard, Santucci has a good IQ for the game and possesses solid ball-handling, passing and shooting skills. Most recently, she contributed 13.1 points, 3.9 boards and 1.7 dimes in 27.6 minutes per contest for the Italian Club team, Magika Castel San Pietro, in the 2016 A2 Italian Basketball League. She shot 42.9 percent (85-of-198) from the field, including 31.0 percent (39-of-126) from beyond the arc, and 61.4 percent (81-of-132) from the charity stripe in 28 games.

An experienced national team performer as well, Santucci averaged 7.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.9 steals in 22.1 minutes per game for the Italian National Team at the 2015 U-18 European Championship (Division A). She scored in double figures in three of nine contests, including a tourney-best 15 points and seven caroms in 32 minutes against Spain. Santucci ranked seventh in thefts and 12th in helpers at the championships. “Mariella is a point guard who could also play the off-guard position,” Cullop said. “She can handle the ball, pass and score. I love her instincts and IQ. She also has great experience having played for the Italian National team.”

Did you like this? Share it:

UT in the News

November 28th, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in In The News
Lancelot Thompson Student Union

The University of Toledo’s student union, built a year before Lancelot Thompson became UT’s first full-time black faculty member, now bears his name.

Read More


2016 Great Lakes water conference


Electrical engineering student inspires Linkedin campaign

Tyrone Jacobs Jr.’s drive to succeed is larger-than-life — like the ginormous image of him on a wall at LinkedIn headquarters in California.

Read More


Commerce grant extends UT technology research


UTMC named outstanding performer in federal program

The University of Toledo Medical Center has been recognized by Vizient’s Hospital Engagement Network as an Outstanding Performer for its efforts toward achieving patient safety goals.

Read More


Veterans Day event at UT

Two local World War II veterans received France’s highest national decoration Friday for their youthful valor as they fought for the country’s freedom.

Read More


UT named 2017 military friendly school

The University of Toledo has been recognized as a top school for supporting student veterans.

Read More


National advocacy board recognizes UT physician for groundbreaking research

Recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities on syncope and disorders of the autonomic nervous system, Dr. Blair Grubb, UT Distinguished University Professor of Medicine and director of the Clinical Electrophysiology Program, recently was honored for his groundbreaking work in dysautonomia research.

Read More


Undergraduate student presents cancer research at global conference

A junior studying biology at The University of Toledo is one of 200 students around the globe chosen to participate this week at the inaugural World Congress on Undergraduate Research.

Read More


UT business incubator gets $50,000 from U.S.

The money will be used by UT’s Toledo LaunchPad Incubation Program, which helps business ventures move from concept to commercialization.

Read More


Your Netflix binging could be damaging your health

We’re all guilty of cancelling plans on a particularly rainy eve (or any time, if we’re honest) in favour of settling in for a night of sheet masks, pinot and Netflix. All the Netflix.

Read More


UT students register sports fans to be bone marrow donors


Rocket quarterback named Heisman contender

Junior quarterback Logan Woodside has been notified by the Heisman Trophy Trust that he is a contender for the 2016 Heisman Trophy and a candidate to be one of the finalists for the prestigious award given annually to the best football player in the country.

Read More

Did you like this? Share it:

Class Notes

November 28th, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Class Notes

Please submit your class note to: Amanda.Schwartz@utoledo.edu

’60’s
*Miriam Plummer Vidas (Ed ’66, MEd ’84) has enjoyed tutoring children of an Ethiopian background for a few years. They are always ready to learn and sweet, delightful, and very polite to her, adding to her positive experience. SANY0022
holdcroft **Barbara (Bertke) Holdcroft (Ed ’68, PhD ’03) has been named the co-coordinator of the Special Olympics in Avery County, located in Newland, N.C. Holdcroft has over 16 years of experience working as a coach and volunteer for Lucas County Special Olympics with her disabled daughter, Katie.
*John L. Straub (Law ’69) has been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2017, one of the most highly-regarded referral publications in the legal profession. Straub is employed at the law firm of Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP in Toledo. straub_john_300dpi
’70’s
wicklund_david_300dpi David W. Wicklund (Law ’74) has been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2017, one of the most highly-regarded referral publications in the legal profession. Wicklund is employed at the law firm of Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP in Toledo.
**Thomas G. Pletz (Law ’71) has been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2017, one of the most highly-regarded referral publications in the legal profession. Pletz is employed at the law firm of Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP in Toledo. pletz_thomas_300dpi
macritchie John MacRitchie (Bus ’71, MBA ’82) is the new vice president of commercial lending at Unity National Bank in Piqua, Ohio.
Jack G. Fynes (Law ’77) has been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2017, one of the most highly-regarded referral publications in the legal profession. Fynes is employed at the law firm of Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP in Toledo. fynes_jack_300dpi
rheddy Robert H. Eddy (Law ’79) has joined the law firm Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP in their Toledo office as a partner in the litigation practice group. Eddy’s practice includes commercial litigation, product liability, professional liability, personal injury defense, insurance coverage, and bad faith and employment practices litigation.
John K. Nelson (Law ’79) has been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2017, one of the most highly-regarded referral publications in the legal profession. Nelson is employed at the law firm of Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP in Toledo. nelson_john_300dpi
’80’s
bell_neema_300dpi Neema M. Bell (Law ’86) has been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2017, one of the most highly-regarded referral publications in the legal profession. Bell is employed at the law firm of Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP in Toledo.
Dr. Carolyn F. Nemec (MED ’85) joined Health Quest Medical Practice in the primary care division in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Nemec focuses her practice in the area of women’s health. nemec
fry *Catherine Fry (Pharm ’84) made her fourth medical mission trip as a pharmacist to Haiti in September 2016. She makes the trip with Friends of the Children of Haiti.
Joseph S. Simpson (Law ’88) has been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2017, one of the most highly-regarded referral publications in the legal profession. Simpson is employed at the law firm of Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP in Toledo. simpson_joseph_300dpi
storgion **Dr. Stephanie Storgion (MED ’82, RES ’85) has been named chair of the department of physician assistant studies at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC). In addition to her new role, Storgion is medical director of the intermediate care unit at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and co-medical director of pediatric neuro intensive care there, as well as professor and coordinator of faculty mentoring in the department of pediatrics at the UTHSC.
Scott Hoppert (Ed ’89) has been appointed principal at Raisinville Elementary School in Monroe, Mich. Hoppert has taught at Monroe Public Schools for 26 years and for two years led the district’s Summer Learning Academy as its administrator. hoppert
woodward_kathryn_300dpi Kathryn J. Woodward (Law ’86) has been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2017, one of the most highly-regarded referral publications in the legal profession. Woodward is employed at the law firm of Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP in Toledo.
Dr. Joy Lauerer (UTCTC ’83, A/S ’88) is the recipient of the 2016 Award for Excellence in Education from the American Psychiatric Nurses Association. Lauerer received the award for her hands-on approach to learning and innovative strategies to engage students. She tries to eliminate the stigma students associate with psychiatric-mental health nursing. lauerer
mcgowan_michael_300dpi **Michael S. McGowan (Bus ’78, Law ’81) has been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2017, one of the most highly-regarded referral publications in the legal profession. McGowan is employed at the law firm of Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP in Toledo.
’90’s
Christopher Hewitt (Bus ’90) has been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2017, one of the most highly-regarded referral publications in the legal profession. Hewitt is employed at the law firm of Tucker Ellis LLP in Cleveland, Ohio. hewitt-christopher
lee Sang Lee (Eng ’90) was hired as president of Larson Financial Group, headquartered in St. Louis, Mo. In his role, Lee will develop and implement processes designed to increase client retention and growth while overseeing core business functions.

Lawrence W. Lobb (Law ’97) was sworn in as the Kane County Bar Association president in June 2016. Lobb practices with the firm Drendel & Jansons Law Group, located in Batavia, Ill. His practice emphasizes consumer bankruptcy, residential and commercial real estate, zoning and land use, estate planning, contracts, collections, and civil litigation.

Brandi Carson (Bus ’99) is a recipient of the 2016 20 Under 40 Leadership Recognition Award in Toledo. She was selected from a field of 163 candidates. The 20 Under 40 program focuses on individuals under the age of 40 who have distinguished themselves in their careers and/or the community. Carson is the controller for The Anderson’s Ethanol Division. carson-brandi
beasley Col. Jonathan Beasley (Univ Coll ’94) was promoted to the rank of U.S. Army Colonel. Beasley has earned six promotions while in the U.S. Army and he has served four tours of duty, including two in Afghanistan. Beasley previously taught military science at UT. He currently works at the Pentagon on the Joint Staff as director of current operations for the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Agency. The Joint Staff assists the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the principal military advisor to the President, Secretary of Defense and the National Security Council.
Ryan Tackett (UTCTC ’93, Univ Coll ’94) was sworn in as the new sergeant of the Bowling Green, Ohio Police Department. Tackett has been a part of the BGPD for over 20 years. tackett

James Falter (MBA ’93) was chosen as the new dean of the Harold Walter Siebens School of Business at Buena Vista University, located in Storm Lake, Iowa.

mercer James Mercer (Ed ’98) is the new principal of Henry County Middle School, located in McDonough, Ga.
Jenifer A. Belt (Law ’95) has been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2017, one of the most highly-regarded referral publications in the legal profession. Belt is employed at the law firm of Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP in Toledo. belt_jenifer_300dpi
pankowski *Jared Pankowski (MEd ’96) has been named the new corporate health consultant at Lake Norman Regional Medical Center, located in Mooresville, N.C.
Dr. Andrea Milner (Ed ’93, MEd ’01, PhD ’08) has been named the new dean of graduate studies at Adrian College, located in Adrian, Mich. Milner is also an associate professor of teacher education and director of Adrian College’s Institute for Education. milner
kimball Andrea Kimball (Law ’97) was hired as vice president and general counsel for Sporting Kansas City. Kimball will oversee all legal matters for the club, including contract negotiations, business deals, and risk management. Sporting Kansas City is an American professional soccer club based in Kansas City, Missouri, playing its home games in Kansas City, Kansas. The club competes as a member of the Western Conference in Major League Soccer.
James I. Rothschild (Law ’93) has been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2017, one of the most highly-regarded referral publications in the legal profession. Rothschild is employed at the law firm of Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP in Toledo. rothschild_james_300dpi
dawn-rose-sohnly Dawn Rose-Sohnly (UTCTC ’93) is the new manager of the Toledo office of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services.
’00’s
Patrick Sadowski (A/S ’02) is a recipient of the 2016 20 Under 40 Leadership Recognition Award in Toledo. He was selected from a field of 163 candidates. The 20 Under 40 program focuses on individuals under the age of 40 who have distinguished themselves in their careers and/or the community. Sadowski is a member attorney at Eastman & Smith Ltd. in Findlay, Ohio. sadowski-patrick
snyder-ben **Ben Snyder (A/S ’01, MA ’08) is a recipient of the 2016 20 Under 40 Leadership Recognition Award in Toledo. He was selected from a field of 163 candidates. The 20 Under 40 program focuses on individuals under the age of 40 who have distinguished themselves in their careers and/or the community. Snyder is the lead pastor at Cedar Creek Church, one of the largest and fastest-growing churches in the United States.
Ben McFarland (Law ’05) joined the litigation team of Steptoe & Johnson PLLC, located in Wheeling W.Va. McFarland focuses his practice almost exclusively on litigation, focusing on professional liability, construction disputes, workplace accidents, premises liability, and other matters relating to workplace safety. mcfarland
hutcheison-roy Roy Hutcheison (Bus ’05) is a recipient of the 2016 20 Under 40 Leadership Recognition Award in Toledo. He was selected from a field of 163 candidates. The 20 Under 40 program focuses on individuals under the age of 40 who have distinguished themselves in their careers and/or the community. Hutcheison is a commercial portfolio officer with Signature Bank.

Xiao-qun Zeng (PharmD ’08) was certified as Registrant of the National Registry of Certified Microbiologists. Professionals are certified microbiologists in food, pharmaceutical and medical device, and biological safety microbiology at the baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral levels. Zeng is a project team lead of LexaMed, Ltd, located in Toledo. LexaMed provides quality lab services in microbiology and chemistry.

Nicole Khoury (Law ’01) is a recipient of the 2016 20 Under 40 Leadership Recognition Award in Toledo. She was selected from a field of 163 candidates. The 20 Under 40 program focuses on individuals under the age of 40 who have distinguished themselves in their careers and/or the community. Khoury is a self-employed criminal defense attorney and a musician with Artic Clam Front Woman. khoury-nicole
schumacher Jodie Schumacher (Law ’04) is the new assistant prosecutor of the Richland County Prosecutor’s Office, located in Mansfield, Ohio.
Dr. Kraig Korbas (Pharm ’07, PharmD ’09) was promoted to director of pharmacy at Fisher-Titus Medical Center, located in Norwalk, Ohio. In his new position, Korbas is responsible for planning, budgeting, directing, and supervising pharmacy activities and personnel, including managing new programs within the department and for the hospital. korbas
fulcomer Dr. Eric W. Fulcomer (PhD ’03) was welcomed to the SwedishAmerican Hospital board of directors. Fulcomer is currently the 18th president of Rockford University. Rockford is a private American liberal arts college in Rockford, Ill.
Christine Kilman (A/S ’01) was elected chairman of the board for Worldwide Partners, Inc., the 10th largest marketing communications network in the world. Kilman is the vice president of account services for Gelia, a full-service agency specializing in strategic marketing communications that drive integrated campaigns with measurable results. kilman
tighe Dr. Ryan Tighe (HSHS ’08) was added to the Novant Health Oceanside Family Medicine’s Southport, N.C. office as a family medicine physician.
Cheryl Swisher (Bus ’00) was hired by the Defiance City Schools board of education as the new CFO/Treasurer for the district. swisher
fisher Robert Fisher (UTCTC ’09, Bus ’16) accepted the position as the Paulding, Ohio village administrator. In this role, his duties include communication goals, objectives and programs to village departments and to the general public in the development and implementation of special projects and programs.
’10’s
Getro Jean-Claude (Bus ’15) is a recipient of the 2016 20 Under 40 Leadership Recognition Award in Toledo. He was selected from a field of 163 candidates. The 20 Under 40 program focuses on individuals under the age of 40 who have distinguished themselves in their careers and/or the community. Jean-Claude is a financial analyst for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. jean-claude-getro
matthews-holly Holly Matthews (Law ’11) is a recipient of the 2016 20 Under 40 Leadership Recognition Award in Toledo. She was selected from a field of 163 candidates. The 20 Under 40 program focuses on individuals under the age of 40 who have distinguished themselves in their careers and/or the community. Matthews is the executive director of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council where she oversees a staff of 45 and a budget of $3.8 million.
*Will Lucas (Bus ’14, Bus ’15) is a recipient of the 2016 20 Under 40 Leadership Recognition Award in Toledo. He was selected from a field of 163 candidates. The 20 Under 40 program focuses on individuals under the age of 40 who have distinguished themselves in their careers and/or the community. Lucas founded Classana, a software which helps people share, discover, and organize educational resources for personal and professional development; as well as Creadio, a brand-marketing firm servicing nationally recognized brands. lucas-will
josh-driskell Josh Driskell (Law ’11) was elected to the board of directors of Leadership Pasadena, an 8-month program designed to strengthen individuals to become more effective leaders for the Pasadena, Calif. community and build strong cross-sector relationships among diverse community and business leaders. Driskell is the managing partner of Primuth & Driskell, LLP. in Pasadena.
Births and Marriages

*Kathyrn Whitehill (Eng ’16) and *Austin Norden (Eng ’15) were married on October 22 at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Napoleon, Ohio. Kathyrn is working on her second degree in history and Austin is employed at Cooper Tire in Findlay, Ohio.

Dr. Hillary Hannah Voss (A/S ’08) and Nicholas Hirth exchanged vows on October 21 at Resurrection Evangelical Lutheran Church with a reception following at The Golf Club at Yankee Trace, located in Centerville, Ohio. Hillary is completing her residency in pediatrics and Nicholas is completing his residency in family medicine in Dayton. voss
young Katie Young (MED ’14) and Chad Estep were married on September 24 and held their wedding and reception at the Hotel Monaco in Chicago.
Megan Almaraz (LLSS ’14) and Brian Wellman (Eng ’15) exchanged wedding vows on October 1 at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Defiance, Ohio. Megan is currently working on her master’s degree in counseling and is employed at Werlor Waste Control and Brian is employed at Jones and Henry Engineers. almarazwellman
babcock Jennifer Lynn Babcock (A/S ’05) and Jason Allan DeGraff were married on September 10. Jennifer is employed in media sales at Time Warner Cable and Jason is employed at Schwann’s Food Company.
Chase Landon Roan (Eng ’07) and Shianne Jewel Gunther announced their engagement and forthcoming wedding in July 2017. Chase is a construction project manager for Larion Engineering and Shianne is a business operations analyst for Cisco Systems. The couple will reside in Cedar Point, N.C. after the wedding. roan
Death Notices

Faculty, staff & friends

John K. Clement, Toledo at 101. He and his wife, Dorothy, established the Clement Gallery at the Center for the Visual Arts in honor of their daughter, Susanna, who died in 1988.

Dr. Thomas O. Karst, Port Clinton, Ohio at 78. He joined the MCO faculty in 1973 and retired in 1993. Karst worked with local businessman Marvin Kobacker, whose family donated funds for the Kobacker Center, which serves children and teens with emotional troubles. Karst and other MCO colleagues also helped develop a therapeutic community for adults that became Bittersweet Farm.

Dr. Maureen M. McCorquodale, Winfield, Ill. She was an associate professor of pediatrics from 1975 to 1989. While at MCO, she directed laboratories and published research on prenatal diagnosis, medical genetics, and biochemistry.

30’s

Charles Husum (A/S ’37), Toledo.

40’s

**Martha Merrill Sheets (Ed ’45), Toledo at 93.

50’s

Janet Gerlinger (Ed ’52), Advance, N.C. at 87.

60’s

Eugene Alexander (Law ’66), Madison, N.J. at 76.

James Dyko (A/S ’69), Toledo at 69.

**Beverly King (Ed ’60), Lambertville, Mich. at 79.

Duane Brown (Bus ’60), Perrysburg, Ohio at 84.

70’s

Gary Graalman (Bus ’71), Englewood, Colo. at 74.

Richard Kern (UTCTC ’79), Toledo at 58.

Ronald Kotwica (Law ’72), Pittsburgh, Pa. at 72.

**Nancy Emrick (Ed ’71, MEd ’73), Perrysburg, Ohio at 67.

**Barbara Bruce (A/S ’71), Oregon, Ohio at 83.

Douglas Burlew (Bus ’75), Toledo at 74.

Pamela Palmer (A/S ’74), Moscow, Idaho at 63.

Thomas McGrail (Bus ’72, Law ’76), Perrysburg, Ohio at 79.

Carolyn Zimmerman (UTCTC ’73), Toledo at 86.

Joseph Hollister (UTCTC ’79), Curtice, Ohio at 58.

80’s

Marianne Barabash (A/S ’84, MHSHS ’09), Temperance, Mich. at 59.

90’s

Sandra Cline (UTCTC ’96), Bowling Green, Ohio at 45.

Kevin Clapp (UTCTC ’90), Toledo at 53.

Erika Zimmerman (UTCTC ’91, A/S ’92, MEd ’97), Oak Harbor, Ohio at 79.

*Annual Alumni Association Member
**Lifetime Alumni Association Member

Did you like this? Share it:

Rocket Wireless is now offering Verizon Tablets with Short Term Plans

November 28th, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in UT Technology

June 2016 Alumni Ad

Did you like this? Share it:
Return to top of page