Help News Talk 850 WFTL Serve You Better During These Challenging Times

first_imgIf you’re new to these COVID-19 surveys, we invite you to weigh in with your opinions and thank you in advance. It is input from listeners like you that help us better understand how you’re feeling and how we can better serve you. Brennan ForsythAssistant Program Director CLICK HERE Thanks for your support during this difficult period, and we especially appreciate you listening to News Talk 850 WFTL center_img This survey will take 12-15 minutes of your time, and please know your opinions and identity will be kept completely confidential. Please note our survey will only be open through 11:59pm (ET) Thursday, May 14th, so please do take it soon. We hope this message finds you and your family doing well. News Talk 850 WFTL is conducting a brief survey about how our audience is doing during the COVID-19 outbreak. You may have taken a COVID-19 survey from us last month, and this new survey is a follow-up designed to see how you’re doing now. There are also some interesting new questions. We appreciate your participation and would love for you to take this survey, too.last_img read more

A passion for the game

first_imgCoach Robert “Hutch” Hutchinson conducts drills with his defensive line during Pittsburgh Passion practice at George K. Cupples Stadium on the South Side. (Photo by Martha Rial / PublicSource)Robert “Hutch” Hutchinson doesn’t yell or bark like a football coach.Bulky defenders suited out in black and gold crouch on three points while he sputters a snap count, trying to get them to jump offside.“Hut. Hut. Go, Joei. Hut.”With his hefty frame bent low, he’ll mimic a snap, and the defenders power out of their stances.This is his defensive line.“Do not tackle the coach,” says Hutch, 60, standing up from his crouch and smirking. “You do not tackle the coach.”When he straightens his ball cap, it’s not a Steelers cap, but that of the Pittsburgh Passion.At the George K. Cupples Stadium on Pittsburgh’s South Side, he coaches the defensive line for the full-contact team in the Independent Women’s Football League.He’s taught boys donning pads for the first time, played semi-pro ball and coached for a fledgling German team while working the border between East and West Germany as a military policeman.But for many on this squad, he’s the first coach in a sport they haven’t played before.“They’re like a sponge,” Hutch says of the Passion players. “They want to learn everything, you know?”In a home opener against the Montreal Blitz, the team won 35-0. Hutch had three roles: coach, team photographer and Dad. He’s the father of Jesse, a one-man spirit squad, racing down the sideline in a number 42 Passion jersey.Jesse, 19 and a football fanatic, has cerebral palsy, a disorder that impairs his motor functions, and autism, which affects his social and communication abilities.But they don’t slow him down.Just minutes after kickoff, he chases Passion receiver Rachel Wojdowski along the sideline as she strides deep into Montreal territory. When she crosses the goal line, he does a somersault on the artificial turf.An extended familyJesse Hutchinson celebrates the Passion’s fourth touchdown against the Carolina Phoenix at Cupples Stadium in Pittsburgh. (Photo by Martha Rial / PublicSource)It’s through Jesse that Hutch joined the Passion.Since seventh grade, Jesse served as team manager for the Kiski Area High School football team. The players took him in, and Jesse’s mom Marla Hutchinson says he attached himself to them like a magnet.When Jesse was nearing his senior year in high school, Shelley Victor, a family friend and then a rookie with the Passion, recommended he get involved with the team.Passion head coach and co-owner Teresa Conn welcomed Jesse to the team, and with years of coaching experience, Hutch was quickly brought into the fold as a volunteer defensive line coach.The Hutchinsons are an “amazing family.” Conn said. “They’re super supportive, and they all get involved. You get the whole package.”Now, Hutch, Marla and Jesse drive about an hour from their home in Vandergrift, Westmoreland County, several times a week for practices and games. They road trip to away games and treat them like mini-vacations, Marla says.Over three seasons, the team has become an extended family.“What they do for my son is like out of this world,” Hutch says as Jesse greets players before practice.Jesse has a hug or fist bump or hand slap for everyone on the field. He has his jersey for games and a Passion shirt with his name on the back for practice.Jesse rushes from huddle to huddle during drills before Montreal game.“Not bad for a kid with cerebral palsy,” Marla says as Jesse runs down the track to give moral support. “Look at him run. He’s fast.”She calls him the team’s social butterfly. The players welcome him like they would a little brother.No matter how the day is going, Victor says, Jesse almost always has a smile, and his love for the team is nearly unconditional.“He’s always happy,” says Victor, who’s out for the season with torn knee ligaments. “Well, if we’re winning.”Pittsburgh Passion Ciara Chic, a running back, holds on to the ball while tackled near the goal line during a recent game against the Carolina Phoenix. (Photo by Martha Rial / PublicSource)Barriers and balanceJesse has been blessed with a good team. Deep into the season, the Passion has a 5-0 record.Hutch compares the team’s speed and athleticism to men’s football.“We’re doing everything that college and pro teams are doing,” Hutch says. “It’s just women.”While many boys suit up before they hit their growth spurts, most of the women never had the opportunity.But the desire was there.“I was a cheerleader because that was the closest I could get to the football field,” defensive lineman Joei Nocito says.Nocito is not bashful about the joy she gets on the defensive line.“I like to hit people,” she says, laughing.In a football town like Pittsburgh, fans are eager to attend games so long as the play is good and the hits are hard — and the Passion is one of the most successful organizations in women’s football.On game days, they can draw more than 3,000 fans, and for four seasons, they’ve also had backing from Steelers legend Franco Harris.Watching the team he’s co-owned since 2011, he points to the speed and intensity of the athletes. He challenges people to watch a game and see how exciting it is.But the women face challenges beyond getting the public’s attention.For one, they aren’t paid. And they dedicate countless hours and risk injury for the love of the game. Practice is 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. twice a week, and the women sacrifice many Saturdays to game day and even more of the weekend for out-of-town trips.Many juggle families and full-time work as well.Kim Zubovic arrived on game day wearing her Pennsylvania State Trooper jacket. Victor is a nurse, and, among other occupations, the roster includes an embalmer, a bartender and a CPA.“This is the old-fashioned professional football where you had to balance so many other aspects of your life with football,” says Harris, standing off on the sideline. “And also where you really can’t make a living at it.”Hutch instructs Kendra Galbreath during Pittsburgh Passion practice at Cupples Stadium. (Photo by Martha Rial / PublicSource)Football and musicThere’s much more to Hutch than football.He spent years as a military policeman and as a corrections officer at Western Penitentiary. Now Hutch, who also has a grown son in the Dallas area, dedicates his time to coaching and recording music in a home studio. He plays percussion at Monroeville Assembly of God and — when the money’s good — performs in a reggae band called the Dub Squad.Marla, his wife of 27 years, attributes his reserve to the years he spent as a police and corrections officer.“Hutch is quiet,” she says. “He observes.”Hutch, who retired in 2003, spent 17 years as a guard at Western Penitentiary — then a maximum security facility — before transferring to State Correctional Institution, Pine Grove, which houses juveniles convicted as adults.While the lifers at Western were difficult to reach, Hutch says he had a chance to mentor the younger inmates, many of whom would eventually leave Pine Grove and have a chance to turn their lives around.The juveniles frequently suffered abuse growing up, Hutch says, and lacked basic life skills when they were locked up.“A lot of these kids didn’t even know how to brush their teeth right,” he says.To connect with them, Hutch talked about how he’d come from the same streets some of them had, in Pittsburgh’s Hill District and Homewood.All along, there’s been football and music — mostly original material with the Dub Squad, along with the standard Bob Marley covers. In high school, he also was interested in photography, though the smells of the darkroom chemicals turned him off.Digital cameras renewed his enthusiasm for the craft.On game days, he lugs around various cameras and snaps photos of the action between sideline huddles. Players hassle him for posed shots.As a student at Pittsburgh Filmmakers (the fiscal sponsor of PublicSource), Hutch photographed Passion players in their pads and contrasted them with images of the women in their street clothes.Desire and hungerSeveral games into the season, the team is still coming together, Hutch says.Coaching new players is a matter of teaching the basics.For the defensive line, the fundamentals are simple.Stay low. Explode off the line. Get the ball.Too much else is getting fancy.But football is also about life lessons, including that for a woman to play football, she needs to have a thick skin.Hutch is quick to point out how negative people can be about women playing a sport perceived by many to be exclusively for men.One day, Hutch says he expects women will be able to play from the youth level up to the pros. That, he hopes, can eventually lead to a paycheck.For now, only a handful of female players had a chance to play before joining leagues like the IWFL.Hutch calls the women of the Passion his heroes, not only for what they’ve done for his son, but also for what they do for themselves.“They’re out here playing for the love of the game,” Hutch says while players file toward the locker room and come out in bulky pads. “You can see the hunger in their hearts and the desire for the game.”Reach Jeffrey Benzing at 412-315-0265 or at jbenzing@publicsource.org.http://publicsource.org/investigations/passion-for-game#.U4IxHyjAGSolast_img read more

Friendship Train Enriches Children’s Lives

first_imgBy Judy O’Gorman Alvarez. Photos by Tina ColellaRED BANK – Some say it takes a village to raise a child, but an innovative enrichment program allows a community of inspirational adults to share their talents with underserved children.Friendship Train Foundation, a nonprofit based in Red Bank, taps into the talents and wisdom of community members to provide creative programs for children.“It’s a mosaic of talent,” said Connie Isbell, program coordinator at Friendship Train Foundation.Since 2011 the foundation has helped to provide an afterschool enrichment program for more than 150 students in the 1st through 8th grades at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Asbury Park. OLMC’s All Stars program offers creative classes – as varied as robotics, glass arts, cake decorating, yoga or engineering – to children to enable them discover their talents and interests while building their self-esteem.“This is not a typical aftercare program,” Isbell stressed. “It’s innovative, and close to being unique.”The key to the Friendship Train Foundation program are the professionals, artists, artisans and teachers who share their time and talents. Instructors include a gourmet baker sharing culinary skills, a retired NASA scientist teaching astronomy, artists, musicians, computer whizzes, and many more.With some 45 innovative instructors involved in each 10-week session, the classes run the range from career exploration, CSI science, video game design, volleyball, public speaking, and more. New classes are introduced each session.Isbell is inventive and relentless in recruiting new talent and over the years has enlisted some 125 teachers, who rotate through the sessions. Interesting and talented people are around us every day, she said, whether it’s asking an artist if he’d like to share his talent, or meeting a retired professional who now has time to teach. “It’s all about making the connection.”For all the knowledge and smiles Friendship Train Foundation brings, tragedy is where it got its start. Almost a decade ago retired businessman Michel Marks of Red Bank, was moved and curious about the story of a family involved in a horrific car crash on the Garden State Parkway.Marks befriended the family and “adopted” the four children, who had lost a parent and were struggling financially. He became involved in their education at Our Lady of Mount Carmel School, providing tuition and expenses, in addition to guidance and mentorship. His generosity grew exponentially among the children’s relatives, friends, classmates, and eventually the community. As a result, he founded Friendship Train Foundation in 2007 to bring together groups united by a common and worthy need. One of the first needs identified was the lack of afterschool activities for the children.The OLMC after-school program has been a success by all accounts.What Sister Jude Boyce, principal of Our Lady of Mount Carmel school, appreciates the most is the “collaboration and inclusion of all,” she said. “It’s extremely gratifying to me.”According to Sister Jude, the students at OLMC are mostly from Hispanic families. “If they didn’t have a place to come after school, they would stay in the house,” she said. Their close-knit families won’t let them out of the apartment for fear of violence, the unknown.“A program like this is a gift their parents can give them.”She cites that since the program began, OLMC 8th grade students who have applied to area high schools, such as St. Rose in Belmar, have scored significantly higher on entrance exams. “You can’t help but get better when you have three extra hours (in school) every day each week,” said she said.OLMC’s programs are funded through a variety of sources, including Friendship Train and grants from other private foundations, as well as from a 21st Century Community Learning Center grant from the State of New Jersey. In 2014, the program was one of three featured by the United States Department of Education for excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programming.After a snack and an hour of homework help, where students are able to study and complete their homework assignments, most students head to an assortment of classes in groups of 12 to 15.Through the program’s STEAM theme, students can dabble and expand on subjects such as computer programming, fashion design, or video production.“Some of these students have a real interest in a topic,” said Isbell, and others are introduced to something new. She is impressed with the creativity and ingenuity among many of the students. “Sometimes it’s a challenge to keep up with them.”Volunteers and paid instructors share their talents and skills. A recent community service project with High Tech High School resulted in a new class in which High Tech students teach chess each week at OLMC, and Red Bank Catholic High School hosts OLMC 8th grade students so they can experience high school level activities.Collaboration has always been a focus for Friendship Train, and the All Stars program has proved to be a good venue for area businesses and organizations to get involved. A Lakehouse Music Academy instructor gives guitar lessons and a nonprofit donated nine guitars that students can earn after completing the course. Kula Café in Asbury Park, a community café and job training program, brings OLMC students in each week to learn about Kula’s urban farm, how to run a café business as well as what it takes to get a job in the food industry.Artist Manda Gorsegner, arts education manager at Monmouth Arts, lends her artistic skills to the program.“I’m an environmental artist too, so I see how the arts can help people talk about social issues deeply,” said Gorsegner who is also in a graduate program at Drexel University studying arts administration for nonprofits.“We spend a lot of time integrating ecology into our projects,” she said, talking about the human impact on birds like the piping clover, what nonprofits do to clean up the environment, and creating art out of recycled materials.Gorsegner was impressed at how many fourth graders were just as interested in the ecology lessons and not just the hands-on art projects – creating bird figures out of typical beach debris.“They knew words like entanglement,” and how birds can become entangled in ocean debris. “But they didn’t realize it happened so close to their home.” She shared photos of debris on the Asbury Park beach, just blocks from their school. “It was not as abstract as climate change.”“It’s great to see the students through a different lens,” said Isbell. “There are no grades in afterschool. They get a chance to try things and be confident in themselves.Isbell said she has heard students remark: “I could never get into that high school,” but now that they’ve been exposed to different career options, met successful high school students and have tested the waters of new topics, many have a newfound confidence. Now they’re thinking about careers such as detective, engineer, or nurse.“And college is not that far away.”With the success of the OLMC program, the Friendship Train Foundation recently launched STEAMLabs, a new educational enrichment program available to schools, recreation departments and other organizations in Monmouth and northern Ocean counties.STEAMLabs spark children’s interest in science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) through a variety of exciting, hands-on enrichment activities that reinforce school learning. Students are encouraged to create, experiment, investigate, and collaborate in an informal, fun environment.STEAMLabs classes are designed for afterschool and recreation programs, school assemblies and end of year activities, and summer camps. Visit www.mySTEAMLabs.org to learn more.last_img read more

Boyczuk sink Leafs with OT winner as BV edges Nelson 3-2

first_imgSam Swanson opened the scoring for the Hawks which took a 1-0 lead after one period.The teams exchanged second period goals. Austin Lindsay evening the game before Spencer McLean regained the lead for Beaver Valley, scoring with five minutes remaining in the frame.Leafs took the play to Beaver Valley in the third, out shooting the Hawks 22-6 in the period.Leaf captain Aaron Dunlap finally solved Hawks netminder Conner Schamerhorn with 18 seconds remaining in the game to send the contest into overtime.The shots in the game were even at 38-38.Schamerhorn registered the win for the defending KIJHL champs.The game was the final regulation clash between the two teams, with Beaver Valley, now leading the Murdoch Division by seven points over Castlegar, taking the season series 4-3-1.The teams now meeting in the first round of the best-of-seven Murdoch playoffs beginning in the middle of February. When the Nelson Leafs meet the Beaver Valley Nitehawks later this month in the first round of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League playoffs, hockey fans are in for a treat.Jacob Boyczuk scored at 3:32 of overtime to give the Hawks a thrilling 3-2 victory Tuesday night in Fruitvale.The contest was the second time in as many games Beaver Valley has defeated the Leafs.However, both of those games were one-goal affairs, setting up what promises to be a tight Murdoch semi final series.last_img read more

Rep Pscholka congratulates interns on awards office achievements

first_img State Rep. Al Pscholka congratulates legislative office interns Kyle O’Meara and Kaue Gobbi on receiving the Daniel Rosenthal Legislative Intern and Vernon Ehlers Intern awards. O’Meara won the Rosenthal award and was closely followed by third runner-up Gobbi, who won the Ehlers award.Daniel Rosenthal was one of Michigan State University’s first Legislative Student Intern Program participants in early 1977. After his untimely passing in June of the same year, his family established the award to pay tribute to Daniel’s life and his experience in Lansing. The award has been administered to university students in Michigan for more than 35 years, and is intended to recognize enthusiasm, intelligence, sincerity and dedication to the applicants’ interning experiences.“It was very fulfilling to work in an office representing my hometown,” said O’Meara. “I was very pleased to have been so welcomed by both Representative Pscholka and his staff to help aid them in their tradition of excellent constituent services.”O’Meara, who hails from St. Joseph, will be graduating from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in public policy and a minor in economics from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy in May, 2015. Following his graduation, he will be continuing on to Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law.Gobbi—an international student from Brazil—will be graduating in December 2016, with a double-major in international relations and economics from Michigan State University. He plans to pursue a master’s degree in international law following graduation next year.“Interning for Rep. Pscholka has been an enlightening experience,” said Gobbi. “It gave me the opportunity to discover what issues affect the people of Michigan, what goes on inside of the Capitol and the general procedures of the American political system.”Rep. Pscholka said it was a great experience for him and his staff to have such knowledgeable, diverse and driven student interns.“It’s been extremely encouraging to have such outstanding students on staff,” said Rep. Pscholka, R-Stevensville. “They’ve done a great job helping the residents of the 79th District and I wish they weren’t leaving us just yet. Both Kyle and Kaue will leave a lasting impression on my staff and I, and I’m excited to see what great things these two young men do in the future.”O’Meara and Gobbi were recognized for their achievements on the House floor on April 30.###State Rep. Al Pscholka, R-Stevensville, is joined on the House floor by guests Kaue Gobbi, left, and Kyle O’Meara, right, on April 30 in recognition for their achievements as legislative interns. O’Meara won the Daniel Rosenthal Legislative Intern Award and Gobbi won the Vernon Ehlers Intern Award. Categories: News 30Apr Rep. Pscholka congratulates interns on awards, office achievementslast_img read more