Welcome to Fall 2017

Flare Photo Illustration by Grace Garcia
Flare Photo Illustration by Grace Garcia
Flare Photo Illustration by Grace Garcia

Welcome to the Fall 2017 semester. The Flare has a new look, several new staff members and the same mission: To give you the latest campus news and to provide our readers with a variety of features, sports coverage and commentary – and to do so with integrity and reliability. Our latest issue is on the racks now, and features THE FLARE-FILES, filled with tips and hints for KC students. You can find it at several locations on the Kilgore and Longview campuses, or on the sidebar of any page on this website. Keep an eye out here and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more.

REVIEW: Avalon Faire sends Kilgore back in time

Avalon Faire Axe Throwers


The wonderland of the Avalon Faire in Kilgore takes a step back into the glorious days of old, and days that never were. The faire is found at 1076 FM 1252 W, Kilgore, 75662, and is open each weekend in April. Tickets may be purchased on-line or at the box office on-site.

Season passes are available for $75 which allows you to attend all five weekends and receive free water. Day passes are $12 for adults, $6 for ages 12 and under and the littles four and under may enter without charge. Tickets are not weekend specific.

This is the third year for Avalon Faire to open its gates in Kilgore. Upon entering the grounds, the clash of lances can often be heard as mounted knights on their fearless steeds’ joust to the roar of the crowds.

Sir Mordred (played by James Fortner), rides Asgard (Liberty), his destrier, to battle other knights from the Hanlon-Lee Action Theater. This is the group’s 24th year traveling the country to delight young and old alike.

The path continues through open fields lined with large shade trees that surround a small pond. Stages abound for the entertainers to work their magic upon the masses. Such crowd pleasers as Knightwings – a bird of prey exhibition, Dr. DeWitt and his Punch and Judy puppets and belly dancers from all over east Texas await the faire goers.

There are vendors scattered throughout the grounds with a plethora of wares on display. Need a new pair of fairy wings: Lydia Perlick handmakes the ethereal offerings at Faeward Inn.

Love the sound of a hammer striking metal? Stop by The Damn Yankee Blacksmith, and listen as Logan Talonsgrip tells a gripping tale accompanied by the melody of his hammer and anvil.

As you wander the grounds, be prepared to see elves or pirates. If you are lucky, you might even see a queen.

Come hungry and thirsty because treats for the palette await. The Dragon Pit offers typical faire food such as burgers and brats.

The Lusty Lemon has a lemonade that is outstanding and they offer reduced price refills.

There are bridges to cross, axes to toss, roaming performers and sights, sounds and smells aplenty.

Avalon Faire is small when compared to the Texas Renaissance Festival and Scarborough Renaissance Festival but it has some of the same feel, just on a much more intimate level.

There are not as many vendors, food stalls or entertainers but what is there is on par with a larger faire. Getting lost is not a problem as the site is not huge, but there is plenty to see and do throughout the day.

The atmosphere is exciting but laid-back and there is something to see around every corner as you wander across the fields, under the trees, across the bridges and through the woods.

Avalon Faire is worth the price of admission, especially as it offers a glimpse into a world that is not run-of-the-mill east Texas.

Review: Revels 2017 ‘The Sky’s the Limit’


Photo by Tiffany Johnson

The ’Rettes dazzle Dodson Auditorium with the production of Revels, “The Sky’s the Limit” while paying tribute to the late Deana Bolton-Covin, the second instructor of the Rangerettes, who died during the summer of 2016.

When you jump on the ‘Rette Jet 767, buckle up and brace yourself for airport glitz and glam. The show opened with a nostalgic tone, of a time when stewardesses were all young, beautiful women, with a video advertising the theme of Revels, “The Sky’s the Limit.” The show features all of the places the ‘Rettes have traveled this year, including, New York City, Hawaii and Washington D.C.

Early on, we meet our MC, Meghan Robertson, a Rangerette Forever who now resides in New York. Her quirky antics and multiple voices draw the crowd in to get to know a fully developed character. She has her highs, when she performs a Spanish number, and her lows, when casting directors in New York shoot her down after a wonderfully performed musical medley. This will be one of your favorite parts of the show if you are into any kind of musical theatre. The mashup she sings consists of songs from the musicals Rent, Les Miserables, Hairspray and so many more. It’s so perfectly put together; you can’t help but squeal in your seat.

The actual takeoff was intense with an early, polished hip-hop number, with all of the women garbed in a flashy red color. At this point in the show I wondered how many sequins were used in the making of the costumes. Each costume was amazingly bright, blingy and caught my eye, but was never too overwhelming.

When the Rangerettes finally touch down in New York, they were greeted with an urban jungle. Sky scrapers surround the performers. Each destination also came with its own video showing photos and videos from the trip. The Rangerettes were in uniform on surf boards, dancing among tall buildings and mingled at the Black tie and Boot event held in Washington D.C.

During the show, the organization honors Paula Jamerson, retired Coordinator of Alumni Relations. The women also dedicated the second-to-last dance number to remember Deana Bolton-Covin and all of the work she did to “bring the Rangerettes to a new, polished perfection.”

Of course, the managers had their time on the stage, but I want to save the surprise of the actual performance for you. Let’s just say it involves grass skirts and flowers.

The entire performance was an entertainment extravaganza, and I’m sure the Rangerettes would love to have you back on the ‘Rette Jet 767.



Lady Cardinals take lead in third quarter, Lady Rangers fall in third round of playoffs

The road to the Region XIV Conference tournament left Lady Ranger basketball fans with motion sickness. The Lady Rangers entered the tournament as the No. 6 seed and made their way to the championship game. The first stop was a mission to defeat No. 3 seed Panola. The KC Lady Rangers finished on top 77-74, giving head coach Anna Nimz her 100th win. After losing to the Fillies twice during the regular season, Kilgore (20-10), shut down Panola leaving them with a 23-8 record. This win was a landmark for KC, making it their first win in tournament play since defeating Angelina College in the 2008-09 season. Although the road was bumpy,  Lyrik Williams, Crystal, Minnesota sophomore, helped the Lady Rangers by adding 20 points and 15 rebounds. Richelle  Velez, Brazoswood freshman, finished  with five 3-pointers and a go-ahead layup for 17 points, while Danielle Meadow, Corpus Christi freshman scored 15 and Jade Thurmon, Ferris freshman, scored 13.

KCvsSanJac9_TiffanyJohnson copy
Photo by Tiffany Johnson/THE FLARE

The second stop was a nail biter. The fan base grew larger and louder, as they prepared for KC’s match-up against No. 2 seed San Jacinto. The Lady Rangers ended on top with a 64-56 win in  overtime. Lady Ranger fans in John Alexander Gymnasium seemed to be on the edge of their seats as Williams carried the team into overtime, scoring the extra points the Lady Rangers needed. Williams went on to score 17 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and a blocked shot. Velez led the Lady Rangers with 22 points, sinking six 3-pointers along the way, followed by Meador with nine points and 11 rebounds. Da’Jah Thompson, Tyler sophomore, with 10 rebounds.

The final destination was the longest haul. As the Lady Rangers met up with former rivals, No. 1 seeded Trinity Valley Community College Lady Cardinals, fans got serious about cheering on their team, borrowing megaphones from the now-defunct KC cheer squad. The goal was to cheer louder than TVCC’s band and cheerleaders. This was a milestone for KC. However it ended in heartbreak with the Lady Rangers falling to the Cards 61-39.

Meador finished with 11 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals in that game. Williams, Thompson and Velez all added eight, with Williams adding five rebounds, and  Thompson pulling down seven rebounds.

Overall, the road to the championship bracket was a challenge, but the Lady Rangers drove hard to the final destination.

Photo by Tiffany Johnson/THE FLARE


Court to Porch: Basketball player spends time singing at The Back Porch


Her heartbeat increases as the time ticks down to strum the first chord and sing the first note in harmony with her group. Every note must be perfect, the strike of each chord must be on point and the music must carry the crowd into a world unknown as they fall in love with the rhythm. The loud crowd and busy scenery quiets in her head, pulling her back to reality as it’s just a daydream of herself on stage. Inspiration fills her mind as she lays her pencil to paper to write the words expressing her true feelings and her troubles of the past.

Photo by Meagan Morton/THE FLARE

Mariah Childress, Longview freshman, is not your typical freshman basketball player, she is also musically talented. She has been playing instruments for about eight years and has been singing since a young age. She doesn’t play one, two or even three instruments, she plays seven: the guitar, piano, saxophone, trumpet, drums, bass guitar, and the ukulele.

The first two instruments that Childress learned were the guitar and piano, because she wanted to learn how to play her two favorite songs at the time.

“I went on YouTube and looked up how to play the songs and then went from there, she said.” “I learned chords that way and eventually started making my own music.”

Mariah, as a child, was influenced by her older brother to learn and develop her skills on the piano because “her older brother was doing it, so why not.” Growing up she was surrounded by musically talented family members; both her mother and father can sing, her second oldest sister sings and plays the piano and her second oldest brother sings and can play pretty much any instrument he picks up due to his amazing ear for music.

Besides being in tune with music most of her life, on the flip side she has been playing sports for 13 years. She has involved herself in shaping her game in basketball which landed her a spot on the Lady Ranger’s basketball team, and with the support of her family and friends, she is pursuing a degree in hotel sales management.

The record continues to play as Mariah has been involved with 4 bands: a Christian band, and three Secular bands named Cross formed, Blues Alliance, Texas Stomp and the current group she is involved in are still working on a group name.

Mariah is now working on putting out her first album; this summer she plans to get into the recording studio and put out an extended play which is a musical recording that contains more tracks than singles. She also has a YouTube channel and Soundcloud page. She hasn’t posted any of her originals but she has music covers posted to view and leave feedback. Her YouTube channel is Mariah Elysse and her Soundcloud account is Mariah Childress; however, she doesn’t use Soundcloud as often.

Mariah has had performances around Kilgore, Longview and Tyler and has even performed at The Back Porch. Her next local performance will be May 3rd at TBP and all is welcome.

She has the dream that one day she will play at a sold out show at the Madison Square Garden, but for now she is playing shows on the side and hoping one day her music career will take off. Until then, she is focusing on her career of hotel sales management. “For anyone wanting to pursue music or any dream that they have, I’d say pick up that dream and try to achieve it, she said.” “Don’t give up and push yourself to get better at your craft each day because there is always something that you can improve on and always something new to learn.”

Golden Gloves: Boxer fights in the ring, influenced by grandmother


Hands sweating from the warmth inside of his gloves, he fidgets his fingers the tiniest bit just to make it more comfortable. The crowd surrounding the ring becomes drowned out and the noise inside of his head becomes more of a flowing noise of the voices of his grandmother and coach while he concentrates on his opponent. The bell dings and everything in the train of thought is lost.

Photo by Cheyenne Hunstman/THE FLARE

Tyreick Lewis, Longview freshman, went head to head in his first match as part of the All Comers Division and won on Feb. 2 at the 77th annual Golden Gloves boxing tournament. It was a tough fight for Lewis; the 18-year-old had only sparred before. He won the first match and got hurt in the second; however, he still medaled as a novice.

“Everyone has a plan until they get hit,” Lewis said. “It’s a great feeling when you come out of that situation; having someone try to beat you up and push you down, and you come out of it vict

orious.  Yeah, I’m a little banged up but at the end of the day that’s what we train for.”

Lewis trains Monday through Thursday and occasionally on Saturdays before the tournament at the East Texas Boxing Club in Longview.

“I walked in the first day, my grandma introduced me to everyone, and they took me in with open arms” Lewis said. “They saw I wanted to box and they’ve been training me ever since.”

His workouts consist of a warmup (jumping jacks, arm rolls, rocking chairs and stretching), cardio (running, conditioning, three rounds of heavy bags and jump rope) and an ending session where he lifts weights or works on improving his speed and focus.

Lewis’s grandmother, who is a regular at the gym, plays a big role in his drive to succeed.

“Every time I fight I hear her, and then I hear my coach,” Lewis said. “She kind of developed me as a young man by just giving me knowledge of what’s right and wrong and the ends and outs of life.”

Lewis also found inspiration in the movie Creed. Similar to that of the main character, he hopes that his past will not define him and uses boxing as a medium to improve himself.

“At the time, I saw it, I was going through a lot of struggles on my own,” said Lewis. “I watched it in a different sense. I wasn’t watching it to see him fight somebody, but to see how he handled the situations he was in and how he built upon the chances he was given.”

Unlike the boxers in Creed however, Lewis has no plans to become a professional.

“I would love to make it to the Olympics,” Lewis said. “I know it’s a far shot because there’s been dudes that have been sparring since they were five or six years old and they still don’t make it, but that’s my dream.”


Don’t be a drag just be a queen

Photo by Timothy Stuckey/THE FLARE


In class he is Blaise Wingo: a Longview freshman working diligently for his Certified Nursing Assistant certificate with the long term goal of becoming a Licensed Vocational Nurse. On stage however, he is “Gemini Alexander Brooks”, an award winning drag queen.
Raised in a single parent household by his mother, Pamela Gordon, a former KC student and Rangerette, Wingo was first introduced to drag performance at the age of 16 after sneaking into Decisions, an alternative bar, and watching a show.

“I was drawn in by the performance and theatrics of drag,” Wingo said.

His first performance was for a contest and Wingo was given $40 to find a dress and wig; with the winner being allowed to perform on Sunday with an experienced drag queen.
“I went in and got the most ridiculous outfit and had to borrow someone’s hair,” Wingo said.  “It was a fun experience. I won that night and that’s kind of where it started.”

He was taken in as a “drag daughter” by Ricky Lund, a 25 year veteran of drag performance who went by the stage name “Brittany Brooks.” The concept and practice of “drag daughter’s” is common in the drag community. A more experienced performer can take an up-and-coming drag queen and teach them various methods and skills in order to help them succeed and find their stage persona. In return for help, the newcomer will take on the last name of their new drag mother. A drag mother can also have more than one drag daughter, who become drag sisters.

“You try to learn as much as you can and you get that one person who shows you how to do your face, how you should dress and how to put on your hip pads,” Wingo said. “Usually you wait for them to ask you to be your ‘drag mother’ and by that it means that she basically raised you; you become a family.”

For 12 years Wingo has dazzled crowds in bars across East Texas
and has won several pageants, bar titles and preliminary titles with his performances, his proudest being, “Miss Gay Texas State at Large.” There are two titles for the “Miss Gay Texas State” pageant which are separated by weight class.

There are many misconceptions about drag queens, mainly with confusing all drag queens as being transgender women. The prominent difference between the two is that drag is a style of performance whilst being transgender is an identity and daily part of life.
There were times however, when the line between his stage persona and himself became blurred.

“There was a time I was more comfortable being ‘Gemini’ than I would being Blaise,” Wingo said.” Gemini was this confident stage presence and it was easy to get lost in that.”

Wingo has also found that with drag performance becoming more mainstream with shows such as “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” people don’t go out to see the local shows as much.

“You sit there and watch the crowds decline and you don’t want to perform for three people because you don’t get that vibe that you get from larger crowds,” he said.
Despite the somewhat dubious future of local drag performances, Wingo has decided to focus time on earning a degree in nursing, specifically in geriatrics.
“I didn’t get to know my grandparents so I believe that is why I’m drawn to taking care of older people,” he said.

With Wingo excelling in his classes and clinical studies, he applies the same perseverance and care into his studies as he did his performances.
“Be yourself; don’t ever lose you, all you can do is be you.” Wingo said.

Photo by Timothy Stuckey/THE FLARE


Commitment reflects in body art showing past, present, future

Photo by Max Cervantes/THE FLARE
Photo by Max Cervantes/THE FLARE


Jamie Aguilera, Overton freshman, is reassured of her value every time she looks at her left hand. It reads, “Only God can judge me.”

“I got this tattoo mainly because while growing up I had the issue of being too dark to hang out with these people and too light to hang out with these people. Since I am mixed it made it harder to make friends,” she said. This is one of nearly 10 tattoos that have had significant meaning throughout Aguilera’s life.

Americans spend $1.65 billion a year on tattoos, according to StatisticBrain.com. The site also stated 76 percent of U.S. adults between the ages of 18 and 40 have at least one tattoo.

“I know tattoos were the ‘taboo,’ the ‘you do not do things like that’ type of thing (once), but to me it was being able to have art that expresses yourself on you all the time,” Aguilera said. “I see it as I can have something on me that expresses who I am, and what I have been through. I think it is one of those things that everyone cannot do, due to the pain.”

While she admits a few have “hit those tender spots,” she still plans on getting more in the future, including a cover-up “with something more meaningful.”

According to the website, 43 percent of people with tattoos believe personal meaning is the most important factor.

“Tattooing is more than ink in skin,” said Stephanie Hulsey, local tattoo artist. “It’s expression that never fades; a memory or an image that stands with you for a lifetime.”

It’s this commitment that makes tattoos so appealing. Taking the time to figure out one’s self-expression is considered a rite of passage to many. With a decent sized tattoo, prices can still run from $50 to $150, depending on the shop and the reputation of the artist.

While tattoos are apparently become less taboo, it’s still important to be aware of their limitations. For example, the placement of the ink can affect one’s career later in life, public perception, persona, and manner of dress. Many places require tattoos to be hidden with makeup or covered up completely, making for a very limiting wardrobe.

Despite these limitations, getting inked still evokes strong emotions.

Hulsey, who owns Endlessly Divine in downtown Longview, appreciates what a good tattoo represents. “I want people to feel when they get a tattoo by me, that they are infinitely beautiful,” she said. “I love helping someone express an experience they have with friends or to keep a loved one they have lost close to them. Helping someone cover up that horrible kitchen tattoo that they hide every summer and now after getting a tattoo they can’t seem to keep their clothes on. I just want to help bring out the beauty they already possess.”

Here’s a few KC students who shared their stories with The Flare staff.

Karlie Money –

My tattoo is a representation of life. It’s a Hunter S. Thompson quote. [Too weird to live, too rare to die] It is a reminder that every person’s life has meaning, that each person is rare, you are your own person, and that your perfect and don’t have to change for the world.


Becca Finley –

I have 2 tattoos. One I got due to bullying during high school and it’s just a reminder to keep pushing on. The second I got with my twin brother. He is currently serving in the army and we have been close all our lives, so we got matching tattoos that say “sister’s protector” (his) and “brother’s keeper” (mine). I’m really proud of both of them.


Ruby Murphy –

I got my tattoo back in July of 2015 for my dad, who died of cancer that same month. It’s the Harley Davidson symbol (he had two motorcycles and loved them) with a rifle and a fishing pole going through it because he loved hunting and fishing. My sister and I both got tattoos that night for him. Hers is different than mine. Hers is an oil derrick (he worked in the oilfield for about 35 years). I got it done at Ink Armory in Longview. If you’re looking to get a tattoo, Meghan is amazing! It’s my only tattoo (so far) and it means a lot to me because to me, it represents him perfectly.


Amanda Vega –

Well I have 5 tattoos. All of them have a lot of meanings to me. The one on my back is my first tattoo. I got it at a very young age right after my brother passed away. We were never close and it is a way for me to always remember him. The one on my chest is the last one I got just last year. It is of a woman (me) blowing a dandelion and on three of the seeds you will find a little girl, one for each of my three girls. The girls and the butterflies have the only color. They are the only color I see in my world. The light of my life, my seeds, one day they will fly away. I plan on covering up my two on each wrist with sleeves that go to my elbow. Tattoos to me are a stress release and art that I will have with me always. They say you take nothing with you when you go. Not true tattoos are all you take with you.


Brett Oliver –

I have two tattoos. My first is the periodic symbol for Titanium. I had a spinal surgery where they put two Titanium rods in my back. The second tattoo I got because of my best friend. It is simply “be good” tattooed on my chest above my heart. I got it before she moved; she got it tattooed on her left wrist. We were talking about how different and difficult it would be and we wanted something that we’d both have throughout our lives to remind each other we are there for each other. Be Good is the title of a favorite song between her and I.




The observant mind, LIVING THE DREAM: Part one of a series

Photo by Timothy Stuckey / THE FLAREPhoto by Timothy Stuckey / THE FLARE

Listen. Just listen, and you might be able to pick up on the quiet passion behind his words. You might not notice him. He may be just another classmate, just another fellow student to you, but he notices you. After all, that’s part of how he writes his stories.

Tristan Jensen, Portland, Oregon, freshman and member of the American Honors program at KC, is a 19-year-old published author. His first novel, Dayrunners, was published in December 2014, and his second, Parallel, in March 2016. He is working on his third and fourth books, one a supernatural novel about a private investigator named Ruby Karr, the other a sequel to Parallel.

“Do people-watching,” Jensen said when asked about the inspiration behind Karr, “because you look at people, and you start to see their kind of weird intricacies and their little habits that they think that you don’t see . . .. I think that helps create your characters.”
His writing style is reminiscent of writers like Douglass Adams and Dean Koontz.

“I like Adams’ comedic styling,” Jensen said. “I like his sarcastic tone that he brings into his stories, and I think that’s influenced my writing quite a bit.”

Despite the fact that he has already been published, Jensen is still hesitant to pin a definitive genre on his stories.

“I’m still trying to find my permanent genre,” Jensen said. “If I had to have a preferred genre, it’d either have to be mystery or adventure, because that’s what I’ve written and that’s what I really enjoy.”

“I know that I like the concept of fiction better than I do non-fiction,” he said. “I like the idea of creating a story rather than telling a previously-lived story. I’m just trying to find my specialty, you could say.”

KC sociology instructor Tina Rushing commented on Jensen’s class participation.

“He was quiet, at first, but he always makes very thought-out responses, and he asks good questions,” Rushing said. “He always brings up things from different points of view that maybe not everybody else has thought about. We do discussion questions through Blackboard, and he’s very thoughtful in his responses.”

“You can see that he does well with critical thinking,” Rushing said, “and he’s thinking not only about the question I asked them to respond to. You can tell that he’s thinking about other things that might be related to this, or if it sorts of sparks off another path for him.”

Jensen confirmed this when asked about the possible future for his books.

“Parallel, that I published this year, is going to be a series,” he said. “I’m planning on making that one a six-book series, possibly seven. I mean, there’s just so many things. I have a binder by my bed that I keep. I wake up in the middle of the night with a good idea and I write it down so I don’t forget it, and it’s pretty much full at this point.”

This creative nature however, does not translate into disjointed storytelling in Jensen’s novels.

“I think he did a good job of immediately bringing the reader in, because he starts right off and talks about the plane crash,” Rushing said about the opening of Dayrunners. “I like when authors sort of grab your attention from the beginning, so yeah, I think it’s pretty well written.”

Jensen plans on expanding into other forms of media, like e-books and audio books, in the near future.

“I feel like even those who are challenged, you know, impaired visually, shouldn’t miss out on the ability to still use their minds in a creative way to see in a fictional story and to create that story for themselves,” Jensen said. “I think that audio books do that very well, so I’d like to get into that media.”

Film however, is more of a mixed bag. Jensen said, “If the opportunity arises I’d be happy to sign a contract to do a movie or something. My only problem I have with [book-based] movies is that they cut out parts. I feel like I’d have to pull a Stephen King and direct it myself, or at least be standing behind the director, going, ‘No, we don’t need to cut that, that’s perfectly fine as it is.’”

Jensen finished with some advice for potential future authors.

“Obviously, don’t force your characters; let them grow as characters. I think that you just need to let the character really flesh out. Let them do what they’re going to do as a character; don’t make a choice that would go against things that you already set up for them. So if your character is stubborn and a thief, they’re going to steal something, whether that’s bad for the story or not; you just need to work around that. You don’t want to break character and break immersion; that’s just not good for the story.”


Not all heroes wear capes



Having the willpower and patience to help others when they are in need no matter what the problem or injury is says a lot. The determination to stand by her word and help out every athlete that she can is what Jenny Spearman does.

An athletic trainer from Elk City, Oklahoma with a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training and a minor in psychology from Texas A&M Corpus Christi, Spearman has all the determination she needs. She is your all-around girl: outgoing, friendly, and fun to be around. Although she has all those great characteristics, she takes her job and career seriously when it comes to treating athletes with recovery or rehab.

“It takes a lot of patience and you deal with a variety of personalities and a variety of different backgrounds and not everyone handles the injury the same way,” Spearman said.

She originally attended KC from 2009-11 and received her Associate of Art while after finishing up at KC. While attending KC, she was a student athletic trainer and was also involved on campus. She was on the Homecoming Court in 2010, was a member of TRIO, a Ranger Ambassador, a member of the Student Government Association, and on the student committee. While being a student trainer, she dealt with the football and the basketball teams.

“I love every sport equally but I have a special place in my heart for basketball because I played basketball myself,” she said.

The day in the life as an assistant head trainer can be quite busy at times and it all starts at 9 every morning. After an early morning kickoff, any athlete of any sport can receive treatment or rehab up until 1:30. Once women’s basketball practice starts around 1, Spearman heads to the gym to check on the players. She then moves out to the football field to tape and prep the football players for their practice. After football practice wraps up around 6, Spearman finally has the opportunity to head home.

She is one tough cookie and handles the many obstacles thrown her way with ease. Although the day in the life of an assistant trainer sounds hectic, game day is a whole different story.

Treatments for game days start around 12:30 and last an hour. After all the student trainers, as well as the head and assistant trainers, finish dispersing the treatments, everyone heads to Whataburger for a traditional lunch before going to the field. All trainers come together after grabbing a bite to eat at 2:30 to walk the entire field to check for any bobby pins that might have fallen out of a drill team member’s hair or for other sharp objects. After the field has been checked, it is set up for the game which consists of four to five coolers on the home and visitor’s sidelines. One portable table is added to each of the home and visitor’s sidelines and a few coolers are dropped off in the visiting team’s locker-room. After the field is prepared, all the trainers head over to tape and prep the football players for the game. Once all athletes are taped and suited, the trainers head out for kick off.

During a typical football game, Spearman follows the ball, regardless of whether KC is on defense or offense, and makes sure no one gets hurt on a play. She also has the job to keep all players hydrated and ready to play as the game rolls on. After the final score and the game has come to an end, every trainer supplies bags of ice for the athletes who may have tight muscles. The trainers then return to the field to clean. All coolers and portable tables are returned to the field house, sometimes pushing their end time back another hour after the game before they finally get to head home.

“You definitely have to have dedication because athletic training includes long hours and you have little or no off days,” Spearman said.

Spearman has helped many athletes on their journey during her two years as an assistant head trainer at KC. She has taken over and helped bring injured athletes back who have come off of ACL surgery to excel in every aspect of their chosen sport.

“Jenny is the best trainer. She has pushed me to keep going and not stop, she has helped me build my confidence and to always stay positive,” said Hennessey Handy, Joliet Illinois freshman a KC women’s basketball player who is now recovering from a torn ACL.

“Jenny was by far the most supportive trainer through my recovering process. She was always checking in on my progress on a daily basis, and motivated me positively to move forward,” said Bayleigh Garcia, New Boston freshman.

“The athletes I help who are coming off an injury may hate me at times, but they know I am only doing it out of love because I want to see them back in action just as much as they do,” Spearman said.

Spearman said she always knew she wanted to work in the medical field because she has a soft heart but she knew she couldn’t work with older people, and she enjoyed sports. Finding an in-between, between sports and the medical field, helped her decide to be an athletic trainer.

“My true love has always been to help people better themselves, so that is what I intend to do,” she said.

Her dream job is to be a head athletic trainer at a high school. However, although athletic training is her first and true love, everyone has to have a backup plan in life. Spearman is currently pursuing a master’s degree in athletic administration from Texas A&M—Commerce and intends to graduate in May.

KC honors military veterans


After a week of vying for votes, nominees wait at the front lines of the R.E. Saint John Memorial Stadium for the announcement of the 2016 King and Queen. Duke and Lulu flanked the sidelines, paws at the ready for their special day.

 Last week voting for Homecoming King and Queen opened and the most popular vote was for service dogs Duke and Lulu, who aid KC students Joey Barron and Nick Gaviria. Both men struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after serving time in the military. PTSD is a mental health condition that can be triggered by a traumatizing event. Each case is different depending on the person. Symptoms range from nightmares to severe anxiety and paranoia. Barron served as a Marine for four and a half years and was critically injured by an improvised explosive device (IED) during his final deployment.

“It’s important for people in this area to get used to people like myself who rely on a service dog for assistance, “Barron said, “They’re not just a pet. They’re highly trained animals that can help veterans like myself on a daily basis.”

Handlers of service dogs often have symptoms that are not easily noticed. Calling attention to the animal’s presence interferes with a service dog’s ability to perform its duties. No matter the situation, it is always best to ask the dog’s handler for permission before actively approaching the dog.

“I feel like it’s a nice way to bring awareness about the veteran students we have on campus,” said Liz Mitchell, Kilgore freshman. “A lot of people don’t know much about service animals and how to act around them when you see one.”

The dogs received enough votes to make the final ballot, but were not able to be named king and queen because it was against Homecoming bylaws. Due to the overwhelming support and campaigning from students, KC decided to crown Duke and LuLu as “honorary” Homecoming King and Queen at the game against Tyler Junior College held last Saturday.

“It’s cool because you don’t usually see that kind of support on a college level,” said Jeff Finley, a Navy veteran at the game.

Kilgore was named to the “Military Friendly Schools” list by Victory Media for the fourth consecutive year, and by honoring Duke and Lulu KC paid homage to this title.

“In our eyes, these two service dogs represent the sacrifices that all of the brave men and women in the armed forces have made. This is just our way to say thank you for their extraordinary service to our country—we will never forget,” said Dr. Brenda Kays, KC president.

Duke and Lulu left the field in their “Blues” (in this case a red, white, and blue) tails wagging with pride and a brand new status.

Campus support doesn’t end with Duke and Lulu.  With Veterans Day right around the corner, the college has scheduled several special events.

Events Include:

• Nov. 10: Veterans Day Program presented by the East Texas Oil Museum Docent Guild, 6 p.m. in the Devall Ballroom; featured speaker is Col. John Antal, U.S. Army (retired)
• Nov. 11: Veterans Day Program, 1-3 p.m. in the Devall Ballroom
• Nov. 12: Sounds of Swing big band concert, 7:30 p.m. in Dodson Auditorium, admission is free; donations will be taken up for the Rangerettes’ trip to Pearl Harbor
• Dec. 5-11: Rangerettes travel to Pearl Harbor and will perform at the 75th Anniversary Mass Band Performance at the USS Battleship Missouri Memorial
If anyone is unable to attend these events, they can extend their support by visiting the Letters From Home table located on the second floor of the Randolph C. Watson library.

Judgment Day preacher speaks up on KC campus

At noon today around 30 students gathered in protest against self-proclaimed saint, Jesse Morrell, while he preached at students and stood on his soapbox labeled “Judgment Day.”
During his time stationed in the Mike Miller Plaza in front of the Devall Student Center, Morrell preached against homosexuality and drinking, while saying the campus needs Jesus.

Tori Gannon, Longview Freshman, protests against self-proclaimed saint Jesse Morrell with Bible verses.

“This campus needs a spanking with the scriptures,” he yelled at students.

Students around him shouted obscenities and Bible verses. Some sang gospel songs to combat his speech. Two students, Tori Gannon, Longview freshman, and Kassey McDonald, Kilgore freshman, counteracted his words with Bible scriptures that described Jesus as loving and compassionate.

KC admissions counselor, Wade Cates, said it was Morrell’s First Amendment right to be on campus

“He is allowed to be here,” Cates said. “We cannot force him to leave. If you do not like it, just walk away. Walk away.”

Morrell said he has spent the last 10 years traveling to more than 100 college campuses, preaching to students. His business card lists him as a missionary with Open Air Outreach.


Photo by Richard Nguyen

Video by Meaghan Morton

Music Mondays: They Might Be Giants ‘Flood’ Texas

They Might Be Giants perform ‘Birdhouse in your Soul’ at their “Farewell for the Moment” tour in Brooklyn on January 2, 2016. Video shot by Bryan Patti.


They Might Be Giants will celebrate the 16th anniversary of their classic album ‘Flood’ at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 31 at Stubb’s BBQ in Austin and 7 p.m. Friday, April 1 at Warehouse Live in Houston.

They Might Be Giants (TMBG) was formed in 1982 by friends John Linnell and John Flansburgh, who have added more members throughout the years to help broaden their live sound. Now, instead of the minimalism of their early show performed with Flansburgh’s guitar, Linnell’s accordion, and a drum machine, they have a full band and horn section touring and performing with them.

I got the opportunity to see ‘Flood’ live at The Beaumont Club in Kansas City in 2009. It was my first TMBG concert, and it was one of the most amazing days of my life, cementing me as a hardcore TMBG fan for life.

I recently saw them live in concert again at their “Farewell for the Moment” final Dial-A-Song tour show at 7 p.m. Saturday, January 2 at The Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, NY. I hadn’t seen them live for seven years, but seeing them with such an enthusiastic and welcoming crowd of fans, I felt like I was home again. I stood in my coveted spot directly in front of Linnell below his keyboard, and sang along with him on every song. It was glorious.

Tickets to both Texas shows are $25.


John Linnell and John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants pose during the early 90’s. Photo from Google Images.

If you decide to go, here is my personal track by track preview of what you will hear:

1. Theme from Flood -Great  introductory song to a great introductory album of TMBG’s.

2. Birdhouse in Your Soul – Arguably TMBG’s biggest commercial hit to date, and for good reason. The rollicking story of a blue canary-shaped nightlight is told whimsically through music.

3. Lucky Ball and Chain – TMBG’s more country and western influenced songs are some of their best, and nowhere is more proof of it than in this little tune.

4. Istanbul – One of their most popular songs due to its being featured on ‘Tiny Toon Adventures.’ A fun novelty song cover which never gets old.

5. Dead – Melancholy and somber tune about a man reincarnated as a bag of groceries. It’s really depressing.

6. Your Racist Friend – This song was recently featured as background music to an online video I saw about Donald Trump. It really does fit.

7. Particle Man – Another popular song featured on ‘Tiny Toons.’ A little annoying if you’ve heard it too many times, but still enjoyable, especially live with a crowd of people who also know every word by heart.

8. Twisting – Fun ’60’s sounding go-go music throwback. Reminds me of my sister Kelly dancing at the ‘Flood’ concert.

9. We Want A Rock – Fun tune with some of the best accordion work by Linnell on the album.

10. Someone Keeps Moving My Chair – This song sounds like nothing I’ve heard, in a good way, but gets buried in the middle of the album.

11. Hearing Aid – Great middle of the album weirdness from Flansburgh here. That’s all I can say.

12. Minimum Wage – Satirical 50’s ode to the workday. Oh, and it’s also mostly instrumental.

13. Letterbox – My favorite song on the album. Period. It must be heard to be believed. 1 minute and 25 seconds of pure bliss.

14. Whistling in the Dark – Creepy song which reminds me of the ‘Flood’ concert in Kansas City when Flansburgh almost dropped his bass drum on Kelly. Fun times.

15. Hot Cha – Another creepy Flansburgh song. Love the creepy Flansburgh songs.

16. Women and Men – TMBG’s ode to the sexes reminds me of a fanciful sea shanty. It is awesome.

17. Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love – My second favorite song on the album. Just beautiful.

18. They Might Be Giants – TMBG’s self-titled song which also has a fun country and western flair.

19. Road Movie to Berlin – Perfect ending song to a pretty perfect album.

Or, you can just listen to the entire album here. You should. It’s not long, you get a lot of songs for the value (in this case, free) and it may just change your life.

Throwback Thursdays: Celebrating love at Texas Frightmare Weekend

May 1, 2015 was the best day of my life. I realized it after the initial emotional shock wore off, and I will never forget the date as long as I live.

Myself, my boyfriend Bryan and my sister Kelly were taking our annual trip to the Texas Frightmare Weekend convention in Dallas, where horror icons and fans congregate every year to celebrate love of the fandom.

On Friday night, a “Phantasm Ball,” a party with the theme of the 1979 cult film “Phantasm” was held. Hundreds of people attended. There were drinks, food and even a photo op with a replica of the killer silver flying ball from the movie.


Bryan and I take a photo with the killer ball from “Phantasm.” Photo by Bryan Patti.

All of us were having a great time on the dance floor, but Bryan kept looking nervous and was getting distracted by his phone. I started to get upset.

“Are you okay?,” I asked. “Who do you keep texting?”

He quickly said he was telling his sister how the party was going. I thought it was a bit odd, but nothing to worry myself over.

Then, the MC stopped the music. “Ok, everyone,” he said, “there’s a guy here who’d like to propose to his girlfriend.” Bryan headed toward the stage.

“NO, NO, NO,” I initially thought, hating being the center of attention in a situation I could not control. I tried to stay as calm as I could muster.

I was in so much shock, I don’t remember what Bryan specifically said to me as he knelt down on one knee. All I know is he proposed and I said yes.


Bryan and I celebrate our engagement at the Texas Frightmare Weekend convention. Photo by Kelly Agee.

I do remember feeling a sense of numbness. Bryan and I had been together almost five years and the convention was a meaningful place to us both, so the proposal was not totally unexpected.

Still, I didn’t know how to deal with the conflicting range of strong emotions inside me. I quickly and discreetly snuck out to collect myself.

Sitting on a bench outside, I cried. I didn’t feel worthy of being engaged and felt lots of pressure. At the same time, I was excited a new phase of my life was starting.

Bryan and Kelly came out and consoled me. Kelly knew I was mainly upset because of my hate of being the center of attention. Bryan understood this was a big step in our lives, and held me to calm me down. WE eventually mae ou way back to the party, and had an amazing night.


Bryan and I show off my engagement ring in front of the Phantasm Ball poster. Photo by Bryan Patti.

Now, almost a year later, Bryan and I are still engaged. Not much else in our life has changed, but now I look more forward to Texas Frightmare Weekend this year than ever because of the special place it holds now in my heart.

Throwback Thursdays: How Harry Potter sparked the imagination of generations

 From Fanpop/anadoring.

With the unfortunate death of legendary British actor Alan Rickman today from cancer at age 69, I decided to focus my first Throwback Thursday article, which celebrates nostalgic things from childhood, on the Harry Potter book and film series and its effect on my life.


Sowing the seeds of fandom

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone book cover. From Scholastic.

The first Harry Potter book by author J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was released in 1997 in the U. K. and in the U. S. as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone the next year.

It reached the top of The New York Times’ best sellers list in August 1999. That was the same year I read the book.

Like most kids around my age – 11, the same as Harry’s in the first book – I was fascinated by the world Rowling created. It introduced me to modern British culture and the amazing fictional wizarding world of the main characters. My mom would read the books to me and my younger sister Kelly every night.

Every kid who read the books desperately hoped that a letter would come in the mail alerting them they were really a wizard or witch and would attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Everyone wanted to learn how to ride a broom and play Quidditch and wanted loyal best friends like Ron and Hermione.


Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire book cover. From Scholastic.

I remember vividly a special trip to the mall with just my mom and I to purchase the fourth book in the series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Unfortunately, that book also has an emotionally scarring memory. In November 2000, as my mom was reading aloud to us from the book, she suffered her first stroke. That was the last time she read out loud to us, and I never picked the book series back up on my own.

The height of the hype


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone film poster. From Warner Brothers.

A year later, in November 2001, the first Harry Potter film was released. It was the first movie I waited in line for and saw in a packed theater. It was astonishing seeing my favorite characters on the big screen.

Around this time, I first noticed the backlash from religious groups to the Harry Potter book and film series because it involved wizardry. In 2002, the religious comic book manufacturer Chick Publications released The Nervous Witch which said “the Potter books open a doorway that will put untold millions of kids into hell.” This made me glad I was raised in a family that supported education, reading and freedom of expression and made me sad that some kids weren’t allowed to experience the awesomeness of Harry Potter.

As each subsequent book and movie was released, the hype got more fervent. Although I never picked back up the book series again, I was an avid fan of the films.


Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint before the filming of Sorcerer’s Stone. From Google Images.



It was interesting to see the leads Harry, Ron and Hermione, played by Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, become famous Hollywood actors and see the progression of their age and acting talent ad each movie was released. I loved seeing all the veteran English actors they got to play the adults, especially Alan Rickman as Professor Snape, Gary Oldman as Sirius Black, and my personal favorite, David Thewlis as Professor Lupin.


David Thewlis as Remus Lupin in Prisoner of Azkaban. From Warner Brothers.

The third movie, The Prisoner of Azkaban, was my favorite because of its elements of time travel and interaction between Snape, Black and Lupin. I also loved the fourth film, Goblet of Fire, because of its darker, more adult themes and casting choices such as Robert Pattinson as Cedric Diggory, David Tennant as Barty Crouch, Jr. and Ralph Fiennes as the evil Voldemort.


David Tennant as Barty Crouch, Jr. in Goblet of Fire. From Warner Brothers.

As every film came out, I started to see more and more Harry Potter merchandise being sold at places like Hot Topic, Books-A-Million and Hastings. “Potterheads” became the term for fans of the books and films.


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows book cover. From Scholastic.

The final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was released in July 2007, right after I graduated high school. It became the fastest selling book in the U. S., with 8.3 million copies being sold in the first 24 hours. I went by the crowded release parties at Books-A-Million and Hastings that night and knew I was witnessing an important part of history. I’d never seen people get so amped up and excited to read a book before.

The release of the Deathly Hallows films was no different. Both films’ premiers had some of the biggest crowds at a movie theater I have ever seen. Deathly Hallows Part 2 was the highest grossing Harry Potter film with $1 billion in sales, and both the best reviewed and highest grossing film of 2011.

The future of Harry Potter

Harry Potter is now nearing its 20 year anniversary, and although the hype has died down a bit, fans still eagerly celebrate all things Harry Potter related.


Author J. K. Rowling in 2013. From The Telegraph.

J. K. Rowling is now one of the best selling and wealthiest authors of all time. She is active on Twitter and shows great appreciation towards fans of her work.

Pottermore, an interactive website for Harry Potter fans, was created by Rowling in 2011. The site allows fans to interact with each other and explore unreleased parts of the book series.

Universal Studios opened the Harry Potter section of its Islands of Adventure theme park, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, in June 2010, which has recreations of Diagon Alley and its shops featured in the books and films, as well as rides through Gringotts Bank, on the Hogwarts Express train, and even through Hogwarts itself.


Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander. From Entertainment Weekly.

A film adaptation of the Harry Potter spinoff book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will be released in November 2016. It starts Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne as wizard Newt Scamander and takes place in the U. S. In 1927. When I recently saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens on opening night, this was the only trailer that received applause after it was shown.

It was an exciting experience growing up seeing the success of the Harry Potter books and films. It’s amazing how it is still a huge part of pop culture. This shows its enduring legacy and the wonder and excitement the series inspires in people around the world. I am excited to see where the Harry Potter series will go next, and, even at age 28, still hope for that letter from Hogwarts. (I know I’d be in Hufflepuff.)