Swinging back into pioneer baseball

By: Nick Kieser 


Photo taken by Jacob McKaig

The 2019 Volunteer State Community College Pioneers baseball team is back from summer break with a new group of players and some returning as well.

With the regular season not for another semester, the Pioneers are reporting to practices and getting back into form for a full season that is ahead.

“We are still trying to gel together and find out what we have. We want to know who fits best right now,” said head coach, Ryan Hunt.

Just as of late the team has been doing inner-squad games on Garrett Field to see where specific guys will fit and who will make the final squeeze on the roster come opening day.

On Sept. 12, the Cumberland University junior varsity baseball team visited the Pioneers for a preseason matchup.

The Pioneers played 8 innings defeating Cumberland 10-0 which is otherwise known in college baseball as a run rule.

“Everyday you need the same intensity and if you don’t you’re not working hard enough. Coach Hunt doesn’t want us outworked no matter who we play,” said Sophomore pitcher, Chase Haley.

A record of 30-18 last season was good enough to place in third at the NJCAA postseason tournament in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

According to Hunt, this year the Pioneers will be more freshman-heavy than having the returning players come back this spring.

“A big thing is trying to teach guys how to play the game hard and not when they just feel like it. Practice, game, and scrimmage you have to give it everything you’ve got,” said Hunt.

Expectations have been set for the team and coach Hunt has a vision for what he wants to see from his group.

“If you tend to play the game the right way things usually tend to work out. Last year is over with and this year, in my opinion, we play a pretty tough schedule,” said Hunt.

“We are hoping that some of the sophomores can step up and some of the freshmen we’ve brought in should play a key role in getting us there. We lost a lot of pitching and now we have some guys who have a chance to prove themselves this year,” said assistant coach, Jason Barrett.

The other teams in Vol State’s conference are competitive like they are. Leadership is something that will need to be accounted for when the regular season comes around this upcoming spring semester.

“Step up in leadership roles. Leading by example and vocally is a big thing to let the freshmen see how it’s done at this level and what it’s gonna take to compete. Going to have to step up ourselves to take our game up to the next level so we can prove ourselves against teams like Walters State and Chipola,” said sophomore catcher, Zeke Lecomte.

“I am most excited for a chance to just get on the baseball field. When you’re in this business it’s because you love the game. The game will chew you up and spit you out and won’t forget when you are gone, but as coach Hunt would say any day to wake up and be part of the game is a blessing,” said Barrett.

In just four months the games will start and from there on there will be no turning back to just fix mistakes that came up in the fall.

Visiting college representatives on campus

By: Nick Kieser 

Starting today on the Volunteer State Community College campus there will be four university representatives on campus to promote their individual schools on separate days.  

“University Representatives have been invited to share their transfer programs with our student body since at least 1993,” wrote Pamela Lockhart in an email.

The University of Tennessee Knoxville will be here on Monday, Sept. 24, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Then Lipscomb University on Tuesday 25, from 10 a.m. t0 1 p.m. Also Middle Tennessee State University on Wednesday 26, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Western Kentucky University on Thursday sept. 27, from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

All of the visiting university campuses will be set up in the Woods Campus Center by the Student Services Office.

“It’s really important to visit with schools for these students. We aren’t recommending these schools for these students, but as even freshman who are asking questions early on is a good thing,” said Advisor Rebecca Adair.

For the 9,000 plus students who are on campus having the opportunity to approach a four-year university can give ideas to those interested in furthering their education past Vol State.

“Very valuable for our students. I encourage our students to go do that. Tennessee transfer pathway guarantees students can go where it matches up for that student,” said Vol State President Jerry Faulkner.

“They will be happy to answer questions and get your contact information. They will share open house event information for campus visits, discuss different degree programs, requirements, financial aid options, and scholarships. For Free! All it takes is a few minutes of your time,” wrote Lockhart.  

“I feel like I do not have a lot of knowledge on where I want to go or like any majors I want to pursue, but I feel like these booths will help me with gaining more knowledge on where I would want to go,” said freshman Seth Gilmer.

Seeking that one school that stands out compared to the rest is what this event can mean for a student.

“The biggest change was that I got to go from being a full-time student living at home to a full-time student away from everything where it’s all about college. It’s better but also more challenging. Having a booth on campus was nice for getting information on how the transferring would take place or just knowing what I needed to become that full-time student somewhere else,” said former student Jeff Swift.

looking into one of the university booths this week can make a difference or none at all for Vol State students who choose to visit a booth or not visit one of the booths at all.


First baseman Bill Hamilton commits to MTSU

By: Nate Kaly 

The Volunteer State Community College Pioneers first-basemen Bill Hamilton committed to Middle Tennessee State University on Tuesday, Sept. 18.

Photo of Bill Hamilton taken by Jacob McKaig

Photo of Bill Hamilton taken by Jacob McKaig

While Hamilton, who is a sophomore at Vol State this year, had offers from several schools, he knew he would be going to MTSU after he visited the facility last weekend.

“The big reason I chose MTSU is the coaches. I went on my visit Sunday (Sept. 16) and they made me feel right at home when I was there. All really cool guys. They were all just hired and ready to get off to a good start,” said Hamilton.

Although Jim Tomen just took over as MTSUs baseball coach in June, he already has a plan in place to use Hamilton in his system.

“I was able to meet new head coach Tomen on Sunday. We went over how I would fit in with the team and the different areas that he wanted to use me on the field,” said Hamilton.

Because Hamilton’s numbers from the 2018 spring season at Vol State didn’t jump out of the box (.357 AVG. 5 HR. 30 RBI. 25 runs), he knows that there is still a learning curve to go through this season before taking the next step at a division one school.

“The biggest thing for me is to take the next step and have a breakout season. Also probably to see leadership improve. Just talking to the younger guys and always making sure that they know exactly what to do and lead by example,” said Hamilton.

When asked what kind of player MTSU will be getting next year, Hamilton said, “Hard-working.”

“Bill is very deserving of that. You see a big-time prospect by the way he looks. He’s been hungry since he got here, and he’s proved people wrong. MTSU is getting in my opinion, a big-time player,” said head coach Ryan Hunt.

This season Hamilton will try to improve a Pioneers offense that hit the third-fewest runs (278), third-fewest home runs (25) and second fewest RBIs (217) in the conference last season.

Although the fall season consists of expedition games and games that don’t count against the team’s record like the spring season does, it will be an opportunity for the Pioneers offense and Hamilton to work out any wrinkles that they might have, to reach their full potential as an offense in the spring.

Break the silence

By: Riley Holcraft 

Suicide is no new phenomenon and the public has become virtually desensitized to its effects with a surge of TV shows, celebrity attempts and news reports.

Stories like this come and go but rarely do people stop to think about those affected. Volunteer State Community College partnered with The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network by hosting its first annual Break the Silence event dedicated to lives touched by suicide.

On Sept. 20, at the Humanities Plaza, a small group gathered to discuss suicide within the community. The ceremony opened with a song performed by Vol State Students, Kendahl Oakley, and Cole Harper.

Quilts with pictures of suicide victims in Tennessee and pinwheels with names of suicide victims connected to Vol State students were on display. Many of the pinwheels had repeating names.

Oliver Graves, Vol State Student and Spectrum club leader explained the meaning behind the repetition, “When someone commits suicide, not just one person is affected,” said Graves.

Graves had personal experience with a suicide attempt six months after coming out as gay.

“forty percent of LGBT youth have either attempted or contemplated suicide. It is not a joke,” said Graves.

Oftentimes, suicide is overlooked as “selfish” or “overrated.”

However, TSPN Volunteer, Teresa Culbreath explained, “No one is immune.”

The effects of suicide spread to a wide community of individuals, and suicide attempters often have no refuge.

Culbreath lost a brother and husband to suicide, so her personal experience has inspired her to bring awareness to others.

“Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network has three main goals when it comes to dealing with suicide: intervention, prevention, and postvention,” said Culbreath.

The best way to implement these goals is by making others aware of available assistance and educating the public of warning signs.

“I have had personal, lasting effects from suicide after my sister attempted. If I could let the student body know one think about suicide, it would be: learn the signs,” said Vol State student, Crystal Hutchins.

Warning signs include: talking about death, withdrawal from social activities, behavior changes, giving away prized possessions, and drug abuse.

The most important thing to do when encountering these warning signs is to approach the affected person with compassion and notify someone of greater authority. It is important to never belittle the feelings of someone who feels hopeless.

Samantha Nadler, a devoted wife, and mother, also shared her personal experience with suicide. She had made several attempts throughout her lifetime and is now an advocate dedicated to helping those that struggle with suicide.

Nadler explained that along with knowing warning signs the most important aspect of suicide prevention is a community. “Community matters. Connections with other people matter,” she said.

Most suicide attempts are related to ending a lifelong pain, emotional or physical. A community typically serves as a buffer between the pain and the thoughts of death. Nadler explained how her community of suicide preventionists “ended up saving my life.”

The event closed with a reflection time. All attendees were offered a small container of bubbles that read “Break the Silence.” Each person thought of a person who is currently affected by or struggling with suicide and blew the bubbles in their honor.

September is Suicide Awareness Month. Students, you are urged to take notice of what is happening around you. Be aware, be compassionate.

In 2016, Tennessee lost 1,110 people to suicide and the number continues to rise. It is happening in your state. It is happening in your community. It is happening in your school.

Help is offered on the school website; students can also be connected with an experienced counselor on campus. If you are in immediate need of help, call the suicide prevention hotline: 1-800-273-8255.


Voter Registration

By: Gloria Cortes 

The Volunteer State Community College’s Student Government Association is hosting a Meet and Greet with a Treat: Grab a Float and Register to Vote on Sept. 25.  

If one would like to vote SGA will have a register to vote table Sept. 25. from 12:45 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. in the Carpeted Dining Room. We have registration forms available and it is quick, easy, and your information is secure. You can also visit www.GoVoteTN.com,” wrote SGA Vice President Mary Dobbs in an email.

This event allows students to interact with the SGA and other faculty members while raising awareness for voter registration.

SGA Meet and Greet with a Treat is an event hosted by The Student Government Association that allows SGA, the student body, and staff to engage with one another. Grab a Float and Register to Vote is the September event because September is National Voter Registration Month. September 25th is National Voter Registration Day,” wrote Dobbs.

The SGA has set up voter registration booths earlier in the fall semester.

“We have 23 people who have registered to vote thus far,” wrote Vol State Coordinator of Student Activities Tabitha Sherrell.

To register to vote, eligible students must be 18 or older, a U.S. citizen, a Tennessee resident, and must not be a felon; however, some felons may vote if they have had their voting rights restored according to sos.tn.gov.

Eligible students who plan to register need to bring one of the following acceptable types of identification: their Tennessee driver’s license or their Tennessee Department of Safety, and Homeland Security ID, according to ovr.govote.tn.gov.

The voter registration deadline for the upcoming general election in Tennessee is Oct. 9.

“The elections that we are helping people get registered for is for the Federal and State general elections. Tennessee will be voting for a new Governor, House of Representative members, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General. This is a big election because the people elected will be in office for 2-4 years depending on their position,” wrote Dobbs.

Banned book week preview

By: Jim Hayes 

The Thigpen Library and Volunteer State Community College English Department will celebrate Banned Books Week with open mic readings from 12:45 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. Sept. 26 in Steinhauer-Rogan-Black room 150.

“Any student who wishes to volunteer can read,” said Librarian Laura Sheets who is overseeing the readings.

“Students wishing to ensure that they get to read can talk to a librarian,” said Sheets

The Banned Book Week has been observed since 1982.  Each year, the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom compiles a list of the 10 most challenged books.

“It is a time to promote awareness about intellectual freedom,” said Sheets.

“Most books are challenged by parents who are concerned about the content in those books and they are concerned about having their children exposed to things they aren’t comfortable with,” said Sheets.

First generation student experience

By: Jim Hayes 

Dr. Frank Dobson, Associate Dean of Students for Social Justice and Identity at Vanderbilt University, and faculty will discuss “The First-Generation Student Experience” from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Rochelle Center on Thursday, Sept. 27.

“He’s just going to be talking about his experience as a first generation student,” said, Jeff King.

“He will compare some of the obstacles faced by students today with what he faced. He will engage them about what issues they are having. Sometimes you had to make a choice between buying books or buying food,” said King.

“Dobson will talk about at one point living in his car before his academic career took off and he became an author. Lots of us have similar stories,” said King.

“My older siblings did not go to college, and I felt a lot of expectations on my shoulders because they sacrificed so that I could go,” said Dobson

Dobson received his bachelor of arts degree from the University at Buffalo in English, Literature, Black Studies and Education in 1973.

He earned his masters in English and literary Studies in 1976 from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

His doctoral degree was earned at Bowling Green State University in literature and writing in 1985.

Dobson’s first novel, “The Race is Not Given was published in 1999.  His second, “Rendered Invisible, was released in 2010.

He has been at Vanderbilt for 14-years.

Dr. Faulkner goes undercover

By: Nick Kieser 

Dr. Faulkner casual outside

Vol State President Dr. Jerry Faulkner

The Volunteer State Community College President, Dr. Jerry Faulkner, has made an appearance acting as a student for a day and attended classes.

Faulkner credits his idea from the San Diego State President Adela de la Torre.

He was incognito on Aug. 30, during the regular school hours and posed as a student.

“I got rid of my coat and tie. I tried to look more casual so I would not stand out. I don’t know that I did anything outstandingly different, but I did go online and complete the application form.

I wanted to see if there were any impediments,” said Faulkner.

Undergoing a full day as an undercover student is something not common for a college university president to do.

“I sent out an email only to faculty that asked for volunteers to let me sit in on their classes. The response was overwhelming, and I got dozens of invitations to be in people’s classes,” said Faulkner.

The build-up of the secret event broke when the faculty got the notification that he was looking for willing teachers.

“I announced two Fridays ago at convocation that I was going to do that. I went to four classes. I was originally signed up for five. I did all four classes continuously,” said Faulkner.

He also added that while he was walking through the Woods Campus Center that he stopped to get the free food offered since it was the same day as the campus kickoff.

“He was just hanging out and seeing what it was like. He wanted the full student experience,” said English Department Chair, Deborah Moore.

Moore had the experience of having Faulkner in her Modern World Literature class.

“I think it’s great that he put that much interest into finding out more about the students and how it feels to be a student at Vol State,” said student Hollee Mattei.

The president was viewed seriously after he had revealed himself to Moore’s class.

“None of the students had much to say at the end, and I just made announcements about SGA and Coffee with the President. I did not park differently. I confess I did use my reserved parking place,” said Faulkner.

With the attire and no parking change, Faulkner still considered himself a student that day

One of the announcements that Faulkner made was in regard to how the students of Vol State could interact with him.

That event is known as Coffee With the President.

“We started that I would say about three years ago. Kenny Yarbrough was Director of Student Life and Diversity, and it was his idea to do Coffee with the President,” said Faulkner.

The Steinhauer Rogan-Black-Building was where Coffee with the President took place, and Faulkner said that he planned on doing that again.

“I certainly hope that this will result in more students feeling like they can approach me and talk with me about the things they have on their mind,” said Faulkner.


Vol State Garden


Professor Jeff Kent in Vol States garden

By: Gloria Cortes 

Beside the Wallace Health Sciences Complex building’s parking lot lies the Volunteer State College Community Garden.

Master Gardeners maintain the garden with the help of professors Jeff Kent and Kelly Ormsby.

This community garden is open to all Vol State students and faculty, whether they would like to pick fresh produce or to take a break between classes.

“There’s something about seeing a plant grow that’s really nice, that’s really unique… . It’s just something about seeing something grow, and seeing fruit on raspberry vines or blackberry vines, and being able to pick it and eat it.” said biology professor Dr. Kent.

After the destructive tornado that struck Vol State in 2006, it was created to help the campus have a more peaceful place to go to.

“To promote something positive on campus, we started that community garden,” said Kent.

While the garden is a place for rest and relaxation, it is also a product of Master Gardeners and other Vol State gardeners’ work.

Students are also encouraged to plant in the garden, but they must contact Master Gardener Joanne Brown first.

“Students are welcome to participate but need to do so through the Master Gardeners who manage the project (a Hold Harmless waiver is required). Joanne Brown is the project leader. She is on campus every Monday morning (usually beginning at 7 a.m.). Volunteer Days are the third Saturday of each month from 7:30-11:30 a.m.,” wrote Kelly Ormsby in an email.

Ormsby is also involved with the campus garden.

Volunteer gardening can help fulfill students’ Tennessee Promise volunteer requirements since students would be providing a service to the campus community.

Through Ormsby’s Adopt-A-Bed program, groups can adopt a raised garden bed, and some produce from the garden will go to The Feed.

“Groups/clubs, classes, offices/departments can complete an application outlining their project idea through Sept. 28. Applications will be available at the garden gate, where they will also be collected. Applicants will: select a bed from the garden map provided (both empty and pre-planted beds are available), create a design (this may include a theme, information for visitors, additional plants, etc.), and complete the project submission form (outlining the idea, who will assist with maintenance, including weeding in and around the bed, helping to harvest as applicable for the Feed, our VSCC student food bank).” wrote Ormsby.

The garden was created as a communal place of peace and productivity.  Students are always welcome.

“I think the garden will help kids who don’t have the sufficient funds or the availability of food at home.  I think it’s very compassionate that Vol State has provided children that can’t eat at home with food. I think it’s also because student hunger and poverty levels being at such a high rate in America today and because of lack of resources and lower-income families that the garden offers kids that live in those situations food away from home.” said student Chelsei Copeland

“I know I would use the garden… . I am living in my own apartments, so there are times where I have to choose between gas or food. So, it’s definitely something I think I’d use as a young adult trying to live on their own, having to budget money in different ways,” said Copeland

The Vol State Community Garden provides positivity and fresh produce to those in need of it, and it encourages students to participate in the campus community.


SGA Voter Registration

By: Jim Hayes 

The Volunteer State Community College Student Government Association will host a variety of events to encourage students to register to vote during Sept.

Voter registration tables will be available in the tiled dining room of the Woods Campus Center on Sept. 11-13, and 19 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m..

Other events also taking place in the Woods Campus Center is SGA Meet-n-Greet With A Treat and CAB Cafe: The Arcade on Sept. 25 from 12:45 p.m. until 1:45 p.m.

This event will consist of games, prizes, floats and the opportunity to register to vote.

Vol State is also in a social media contest with other schools in the state, according to SGA Student President Haly Brazel.

“We have partnered with the board of regents and the other colleges to do a social media contest where we have to use hashtags whenever you register,” said Brazel.

“There is a statewide hashtag, #GovoteTn, and the Vol State hashtag is #pioneerpoll,” she said.

The SGA Meet -n-Greet With A Treat came about because, “we have all these people who play card games and we want to do something for them,” said Brazel.