Monday, November 12, 2012

For the Veterans...

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag
of the United States of America
and to the Republic for which it stands.
One nation, under God, indivisible
With liberty and justice for all.”

Such simple words, but together those 31 words mean so much.
Every day we take it for granted that we can do what we want, say what we want, be what we want.
You want to badmouth the President? Fine.
Vote in the election? No problem.
Protest in front of the Capital? Go ahead, just don’t cause a riot.
Every day we take it for granted that we have the right to speak our mind, the right to share our opinion. But let’s not forget who really gave us that right. The veteran.
Our President, our Commander in Chief is tasked with running our country, preserving these United States of America. Whether you love him or hate him (and maybe one day a her), he (or she) is the face of our nation.
Our service men are deployed and called back as the President wills, and it is they who ensure that we as citizens do have “liberty and justice for all.”
It is because of their sacrifice, because of their pledge, that we are free. They fight for the rights we so often take for granted, rights they themselves give up during their service.
So next time you see a man, or woman, in uniform, thank them. They probably know that their sacrifices are appreciated, that what they do is not in vain, but it never hurts to say it.
To all the veterans past and present who have served or are currently serving in any branch of the armed forces - Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard - thank you. You are appreciated and you are loved.
Happy (Belated) Veteran’s Day!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

MilJo – Part 4: A Fond Farewell

I know, I know, I have been back for almost a week and have left people hanging. Here is the wrap-up from my last day at Fort Leavenworth.

After checking out of the hotel and dropping my bags off at 7:30 a.m., I headed over to the Command and General Staff College and the Lewis and Clark Center one last time for an 8 a.m. interview with Major Nathan Trussoni, a La Crosse native. To learn more about Major Trussoni, click

After that, we had an opportunity to learn about what top-ranking military officials think about the media, as we were granted the opportunity to interview Major General Anthony A. Cucolo III, the commanding general at the U.S. Army War College. Major Cucolo held no punches, answer our every question, from how he weighs the privilege of free speech with the safety of deployed service men and women to bridging the gap between perception and reality when it comes to the Army.

At one point, the general said he asks journalists not to show the bodies of deceased soldiers, as they try to protect the families of the dead. Stacey Cameron, a fellow journalist questioned whether not showing the bodies of the fallen actually hides the brutality of war from the public. I will admit, I did think he made a good point. After all, a picture is worth 1,000 words. Typing up what happened is one thing, but it is easy to read “23 soldiers killed in airstrike” or a similar heading, another to see the bodies of the men and women who died for our country. Words can desensitize us, a photo gets right up in your face.

However I also understand the general’s concerns. I’d imagine that the last thing a loved one would want is to see the face of their son, daughter, husband or wife permanently imposed on the front page, for all the world to see.

One thing that stuck with me was when General Cucolo said there is a way to show the brutality of war without showing the dead. He mentioned a soldier, horribly disfigured by fire and missing his ears. In spite of his appearance he was speaking to a group of people, and everyone listened to him with rapt attention, the sacrifice he made for his country plain on his face. As more and more of our military population are returning home, some bear the marks of their service: burns, missing limbs from IEDs, and some marks are below the surface, invisible but there.

Our nations’s military is strong, powerful and always ready to answer the call. They suspend rights we take for granted to serve, and when duty calls they answer without complaint, leaving behind their families and friends, some never to return.

As the Year of the Veteran wraps up, take a moment to think about everything you have, and who is responsible for it. Our military answers to the Commander-in-Chief, whoever is President of the U.S., but when service men and women enter into service, they swear to uphold the Constitution. As such, they give up their right to criticize the President, and instead back him 100 percent. The men and women who choose to picket military funerals ironically are able to do so because of our men and women in uniform and the freedom to assemble and freedom of speech.

Over the next couple weeks, I will be spending my free time compiling more and more stories about my time at Fort Leavenworth and Fort Leonard Wood. There really was a plethora of information shared with us, more than I could possibly write in these shorter blogs or even in my newspaper. I have also started another blog dedicated to military affairs, which can be found at All my stories will be posted there as well, along with other military topics I will be covering on my own. If interested, feel free to follow me.

To see the first of two parts chronicling my time at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. and Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., check out

Friday, September 28, 2012

MilJo - Part 3

Alright, well after a LONG, but amazingly awesome day yesterday, I rose at 5:30 a.m. today (Thursday, Sept. 27) and we headed out for another full day. We headed back to the reception center for the new recruits, and went on a tour of the facility. We were able to see where the recruits receive their clothes, get their hair cut, or rather shaved, everything. It was a little entertaining to see all of the recruits standing in their socks as they waited to get their boots. 

We had about an hour there before heading over to witness the Army’s stand down day as they recognized the issue of suicide prevention. Did you know that 18 percent of military women and one percent of men will report being sexually assaulted? Although the women have a greater percentage, the number of men is actually higher. 

And along with financial and relationship problems, sexual assault is a major contribution to military suicides. The presentation was witnessed by numerous military measures so they could take the lessons back to their men and women.

Following the presentation we were able to interview Major General Mark Yenter and Command Sergeant Major Robert Wells about everything from the suicide and suicide prevention issue to the future of the Army with most of our troops coming back home from Afghanistan in the upcoming months. 

The last thing on our agenda for the day was heading back to the reception center so some of us could interview the new recruits. Luckily, they did find one recruit, Brittany Smith, from Milwaukee, Wis. who volunteered to for an interview. Or rather, one of the drill sergeants mentioned it to her and she gave the only possible answer: “Yes, Drill Sergeant!”

Unlike most of the recruits there, Brittany was 28 years old and because of her college degree, was able to enroll as an E-4 specialist, the highest possible rank a new recruit can enter as. She comes from a strong military family and has family members that have served in every branch of the military. When I asked her why she chose the Army over the other branches, she said that the Army and Marines go harder on the female recruits, and she wanted a challenge. What I found inspiring is that she had to lose 80 lbs. before she could enlist, and in the process she grew stronger, strong enough to match or do better than some of the guys during physical training. 

To see a video interview with Brittany Smith, visit: for part 1; and for part 2.

To see more photos from Thursday, Sept. 27, click here.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

MilJo - Part 2

We’ve had a couple early days this week. On Wednesday, Sept. 26 my alarm went off at 3:30 a.m. and I was out the door by 4 a.m. At about 4:15 our bus pulled out and off we went to meet some Army personnel for physical training. After a half hour tour of the barracks, we headed over to their indoor training facility as it was storming, complete with thunder and lightning. 

We were told that anyone who wanted to participate could, so OF COURSE I hopped right in, and I believe I was only one of four of our group that did, and the only female. As they were doing ground drills, I found that I was able to keep up with the recruits. We did pushups, leg lifts, leg tucks, supporting our body on the right and left arm, sit-ups, a whole slew of activities. Then after that we headed over to the bars for some pull-up activities. I found out I did not have a trouble with the shoulder shrugs or doing the shrug while leaning back, but there was no way I was managing a pull-up, the last time i successfully did one I was 14. Another time they had to hang onto the bar and lift their feet up and wrap them around the bar. I was able to get mine to about 90 degrees. 

We were unable to do the Confidence Course, a military style obstacle course, because of the thunderstorm. As much as I was disappointed at not getting to challenge myself against the other recruits, I was happy that they at least stopped by the course and I was able to get some photos. 

After that, we headed back to the hotel for “personal hygiene time.” For some of the others, it was not necessary, but for me doing physical training for an hour, I was extremely grateful. 

After we were all squeaky clean we headed over to where the students enrolled in the engineer course of study stay, were able to check out their living quarters, which are different from my original thought when it comes to military sleeping quarters. Instead of having metal bunk beds stacked in a darkened room, each recruit had what appeared to be a twin bed, all in a row. 

From there, we headed to one of my favorite parts, the simulated shooting range. And this is not your typical shooting simulation, such as the one the Deerfield Pistol and Archery Center has, or the one utilized by Dane County deputies. There were no handguns, no Glocks of Smith and Wessons. Instead, there were weapons like an M2 weapon trainer and an MK 64 Mod. One was even attached to the top of a humvee. Two words: freakin’ awesome! Thanks in large part to a couple of my fellow attendees I have both photos and video of my performance, which will be up later. 

Here I was thinking that I already was able to do PT with the Army boys and “shoot” an M2 in a simulation. How could this day get any better? One word: robotics. We were showed some of the robotics the Army utilizes for the detection and removal of improvised explosive devices, or IEDs. They have this tiny little robot with four cameras, including one which can sweep around 360 degrees. The operator can also utilize a claw in the front to pick up items such as hand grenades. I had the opportunity to operate a Talon robot, but as fun as that was, it was no way the highlight of the robotics. 

At the end, I was able to go down and check out this M160. Military personnel use it for road clearance if they suspect IEDs are present. The machine can travel 1,500 feet ahead of the operator, can take up to 18 hits and has different attachments. The price tag is about $250,000 for one, but the savings come in the hundreds if not thousands of lives that are saved. 

We were told that we would be unable to operate the machine as they had military personnel training on it. When I went down I was able to interview Staff Sergeant Tim Nichols about the M160 and the training recruits have to go through to be considered proficient to operate one. As I was wrapping up and getting ready to go, he handed me the controls, put the strap around my neck and let me operate it! I literally never expected to have that opportunity, and I was the only one in the group who had that experience. You better believe it when I say I was up on cloud nine the rest of the day!

If you think my day ended there, however, you are dead wrong. It was only 3 in the afternoon. After the robotics course we were able to see how they apply it in the field during a road clearance operation. We stood at the top of a hill and one of the smaller robotics investigated a suspicious package, placed a tag on the package, which was then detonated, rendering the suspected explosive harmless. 

Afterwards we had an opportunity to interview some of the military personnel present, and I was able to speak to Private First Class Joel Barrett, who was a graduate of Carthage College in Kenosha. A profile on him will be available at a later date. 

Our final transition of the day included taking a look at the facilities the Army uses to train personnel in dealing with hazardous chemicals. There used to be various facilities across the United States, but after 9/11 a central location was established in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. I won’t go into too much more detail, but suffice it to say it was definitely an educational experience. 

Unfortunately, our final scheduled event of the day, a Night Infiltration Course, was cancelled because they apparently did not have a group on base that could take us through that. While I am sure it would have been awesome to see/do that, I’m not going to complain. After all, I got to drive the M160!

The rest of the night was ours, and after dinner and watching the latest episode of Criminal Minds, I tucked into bed. After all, Thursday we needed to be showered, packed and on the bus by 6 a.m.

To check out more photos from Wednesday's (Sept. 26) events, click here

Check back tomorrow afternoon for Part 3 of the Military and the Media workshop, which will include an accounting of our last day at Fort Leonard Wood, before heading back to Fort Leavenworth. I’m definitely going to be sad to have to go back home....

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

MilJo workshop - Part 1

Sorry I did not update earlier. The first couple days were jam packed and I did not have time. Then when I tried yesterday I could not access the hotel Internet. Anyway, here is a recap of the first few days. I will try to get another one up later tonight, but it depends how I'm feeling. My day started at 3:30 a.m. today.

After doing the Rockman Challenge in Watertown, Wis. on Saturday and then finalizing my packing for the trip, I grabbed three hours shut eye before waking up at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday morning. Rick Klemp graciously said he could drive me to the Dane County Regional Airport in the morning, and since my flight from Madison to Detroit was scheduled to leave at 9 a.m., I thought it best to get there a couple hours early. After arriving at the airport around 7:10 a.m., I checked in and made it through security by 7:45 a.m.

My first flight from Madison to Detroit, Mich. took off at 9 a.m. and we arrived around 45 minutes later, around 10:45 a.m. with the one hour leap forward. From there, I boarded a second plane around noon, and while we were supposed to lift off around 12:20 p.m., there was a delay because they apparently didn’t have the necessary signatures stating everything was checked off and ready to go, so instead our plane took off at 1 p.m. Two hours later (and going back a time zone) we arrived in Kansas City, Mo. 

After checking into our hotel, the IHG Army Hotels, we headed out on the town for a walking tour. 

While there we were able to visit some historical buildings, such as the general’s mansion, where various generals, including General Custer, have stayed over the years; the buildings where the international students stay; the clock tower; the Buffalo Soldiers Memorial; and numerous other places. We also heard some ghost stories. For instance, the international house the Koreans currently occupy is said to have a ghost that reads bedtime stories to the children and does the dishes. Quite terrifying, I know. 

The walking tour took us until about 10 o’clock at night. From there, we headed back to the hotel, and I tucked right into bed.
Monday we listened to a variety of speakers on everything from an overview of the Army to the United States Disciplinary Barracks. We were also introduced to five Army majors, who participated in an hour long panel and answered any questions we had. Then at 4:30 p.m., we were able to attend a ceremony recognizing the departure of 50 soldiers from the 705th military police internment that are deploying to Kuwait. 
Afterwards we were able to interview four of the military personnel that are deploying.

Our day finished early, and after dinner at 6 p.m. we were given the rest of the night to do what we wanted. For some, that meant heading back to their room to file stories. For me, I headed out on the tour to get some more photos of the historic buildings. 

On Tuesday, Sept. 25 I was able to interview Major Jeffery Jensen, who graduated from high school in Benton, Wis. He is currently studying at Fort Leavenworth with the goal of becoming a Lt. Corporal. More information on him will be posted at a later date.

Afterwards we had two more informational presentations, one on Fort Leavenworth, the other on the Army Leadership Program. Those wrapped up around 10:30 a.m. and from there we loaded into a shuttle bus and began the five hour drive to Fort Leonard Wood. We arrived a little after 4 p.m. Although we were supposed to arrive at our hotel around 6 p.m., we actually arrived closer to 4:30, so we had a little extra time before heading out to interview some new recruits - literally guys that have been in the Army no more than a day or two - at 8 p.m. We were there for an hour and then departed for our hotel at 9 p.m.

To check out photos from Tuesday's activities, go to

Our day will begin VERY early tomorrow - we are meeting between 4:10 and 4:30 a.m., and will be participating or observing 5 a.m. physical training. Yours truly will of course be participating. I will also be participating in a military style obstacle course, and will be donning the head camera to film the whole ordeal. Our day includes a whole slew of other activities, too many to mention at present, but our day will not end until 10:30 p.m. 

To see more photos from Monday, Sept. 24 events, click here.
To see more photos from Tuesday, Sept. 25, click here.

Keep an eye on my blog for more updates as they become available. A full article describing my week’s exploits will also be published in the Thursday, Oct. 4 issue of The Star.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Making in Impact

A couple weeks ago I interviewed a couple well-known Sun Prairie residents, May Kay von Allman and Diana Konkle, about Xango and its new weight management program, Favao. The people on it have lost weight and felt better because the program focuses on cleansing the body, maintaining blood sugar levels and increasing metabolism. I’m not going to rehash the whole thing, but if you want to learn more, the stories can be found at:

At the end of the article I included the contact information for the two women. Now, whenever I write an article, I always try to be as thorough as possible and produce the best product possible. I hope that what I write has an impact on people, especially when I write on topics such as domestic abuse, eating disorders and child abuse. Unfortunately, I never really know how many people do read them, or if it had an impact.

Following the Xango articles, I received a call from Diana, informing me that Mary Kay and her had received a number of calls.

“That is the power of the written word,” she said.

Hearing that touched me and made me feel good, but the total impact was not made apparent until yesterday night.

Two weeks ago, about a couple dozen people showed up to the Xango presentation. When I went to last night’s presentation, I was floored. After a quick headcount, I realized that 60 people showed up. Not even the presenters were expecting that!

As I looked around the room, I couldn’t help but be amazed. Something I wrote impacted dozens of people, brought them there yesterday night. My friend Tom’s parents were two of those in attendance. I saw them after the presentation and they informed me that it was my article that prompted them to come.

Witnessing the flood of people that showed up, knowing that I played a part in bringing them there, makes me smile and makes everything I do – the long hours, the sleepless nights, the sacrifices – all worth it.

On a related note, I have also been changed. During the last meeting, the nutritionist said blood sugar levels are to blame for weight gain and struggles with weight loss. She did a demonstration and made it very clear how much sugar the average person consumes daily. To illustrate, the amount of sugar in a 20 oz. bottle of Pepsi, a bottle of apple juice, one Gatorade, two Poptarts and a Snickers totals approximately 50 teaspoons. The daily limit is 10 teaspoons for men and six for women.

With my job I worked such long hours that I could justify drinking two bottles of Mt. Dew a day (35 teaspoons of sugar!)

Now though, I have pledged to give up soda. That was three weeks ago today. Since then I have had just one glass of Mt. Dew, this past Saturday to celebrate my move to a new, bigger and better apartment. Yet I am not tired. I eat breakfast around 7 a.m., at 10 have a snack like string cheese. Lunch is around 12:30 and come 3 p.m. I have another snack, a bowl of fruit or an apple with peanut butter. Dinner might be a Lean Cuisine at 7. Whatever I eat though, I limit my sugar take. As a result, I feel awake throughout the day. I feel better and have lost a couple pounds.

I am planning on signing up for Favao soon, and have high hopes for weight loss.

As I begin my 12-week challenge I will update my blog weekly, chronicling my progress.

Stay tuned...

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Most Memorable 4th

Independence Day.
What images come to mind?
A must.
Most definitely. 
A ride in an ambulance to the nearest hospital after a 9,000-inch race?
Only if you’re me.
Alas, my July 4 celebrations were somewhat soured last Wednesday when I took ill after my participation in the Whiney Hiney race in Token Creek. The short race was over with in a mere 75 seconds, with yours truly placing fourth (yes there were more than four people! I beat the perky brunette with seconds to spare at the end...). For you people who remain blissfully unaware of the Hiney Run, it is a 9,036 inch run - ass first - up the hill by Paddle Inn in Token Creek. While the first 4,500 or so inches aren’t that bad, the second half is quite tough, and the last quarter is brutal. 
I must have been ill-prepared this year for my battle with Mother Nature and Mithros the Sun God because within 5 minutes of finishing, I started to feel quite ill. Within a half hour, I was experiencing stomach cramps, felt a little nauseaus, was sweating profusely and was battling to stay conscious. 

Some good Samaritans at the nearby bar stayed by me and wound up calling the Blooming Grove Ambulance Service. As my semi-conscious state laid eyes on Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney and two of his deputies, all I could think of was “God, I feel awful,” followed by “I hope someone else is around to take photos today.”
As I was moved onto a stretcher and loaded into the back of the ambulance, I started shaking uncontrolably as by this time the sweat and lack of hydration had forced goosebumps along my arms and I was struck by chills. 
The irony of covering someone stricken with heat exhaustion with two heating blankets did not escape me as the ambulance pulled away and headed to nearby St. Mary’s. Nor did the fact that just the day before, my article about heat-related illnesses and ways to beat the heat was published in The Star. 
The news just came coming when I was informed by the cute EMT that he was unable to insert an IV into my arm - apparently I was dehydrated to the point that my veins had collapsed. 
When I arrived at the hospital, I was finally treated to a wondrous IV drip that served to rehydrate me to the point I could walk and function pain-free (always a good thing). At one point I must have slept because when I finally woke up around 1:15 in the afternoon, I was treated to a walk around the hospital - IV bag in tow - and while I was still a little chilly without my three heat blankets - I was deemed well enough to go home. After a lovely Union Cab ride back to the grounds - I drove home and spent the rest of the day chugging water and Gatorade and relaxing in Skies of Arcadia bliss.
It did take a few days for me to fully recover, but Thursday was particularly hard. I was still dehydrated to the point my hips and feet hurt when I moved and I was quite pale after walking the dog to the end of the block and back - but after consuming I don’t know how many gallons of water and electrolyte-charged Gatorade, I was finally back to feeling recharged yesterday....just in time to work probably 30 hours between today and tomorrow! Oh joy!
The true travesty though? I will forever wonder if any of the Wiser Hineys donned pillows of giant fake buttocks for their ass-backward race....sigh...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

And people think my mind is a clusterfuck...

Pardon my rant, but I need to vent. After working a 12-hour day, and having to sit through a 2.5 hour meeting and getting back home at 10:20 p.m., there is nothing, and I do mean nothing, that I love more than having my neighbor knock on my door and bitch at me for helping out a friend.
To recap, my friend, we’ll call her Jane, had a roommate issue and needed to get ouf of her place in a hurry, so she moved in with me and hopefully by June the 2-bedroom we will be renting will be ready to move in. In the meantime, we’ve been using my garage to store her stuff that there isn’t space for in my 1-bedroom. 
So at 10:45 p.m. on Monday, there is a loud knock at my door. I peek out the peephole and my neighbor is there. I open the door and he says in a snotty, indignant, righteous tone, “I’ve been nice up til now, but you need to use your garage because I don’t have a space to park my second car.” 
Bear in mind this was the same neighbor who for the first few weeks when they moved in, his young son would open my door without knocking and just come into my apartment. And just two days ago, I was packing my dog’s kennel and as I was getting ready to go right down the stairs, he zooms ahead of me and then instead of holding the door for me at the bottom, slams it in my face.
To truly appreciate the situation, here are a few facts:
1) I live in a 6-unit apartment complex;
2) Of the 6 units, 4 are 2-bedrooms and the other two are 1-bedrooms;
3) Currently, four of the tenants have one car, just myself and my neighbor have two cars; and
4) Each unit has one garage, and there are four parking spaces outside, for a grand total of 10 parking spaces.
Now, you’d think with 10 parking spaces and 8 vehicles between the six units, there would be more than enough space for all the vehicles, even with the fact that one of the tenants does not park in his garage, ever. He instead uses the outside space. But my neighbor, who must think he is King Richard reincarnate, is too good to use the empty parking space that is about 25 feet away from his door. If only I knew that I was living royalty, I would have sworn fealty the moment he moved in. But alas, I was completely oblivious to the fact. It’s funny, I’ve lived here for two years and never had an issue with any of my neighbors, but this guy is here two months and apparently think he is entitled to be king of the roost. Heaven forbid that he park in the available parking space on the other side of the lot, all of 25 feet away. Because heaven forbid he have to walk an extra 10 second and risk getting attacked by the the Night Rider, who roams family neighborhoods by night, punishing the self-entitled. 
And honestly, unless your neighbors are being loud, unruly and disruptive, there is absolutely no reason to bang on their door at 11 at night. It’s something that can wait until morning. And when his kids were coming into my apartment without knocking, I politely mentioned it to them, I didn’t throw a gigantic hissy-fit like an overgrown two-year old. But what can I say? Some people have class, others don’t. 
So thank you dear neighbor, because up until now I had no idea you were next in line for the throne after Prince William. That even though I am rarely home, am never loud or disruptive, but friendly, have never been rude to any of my neighbors, you for some reason have managed to find a reason to be a jerk to me. But then again, some people just cannot see past their own issues, their own selfish needs, are unwilling to think of someone else. So I hope you find peace, dear neighbor, knowing that you truly are the reason society is going in a downward spiral. 

Friday, February 24, 2012


Courage - “The ability to do something that frightens one; strength in the face of pain or grief.”

As I go through life, I can’t help but feel disappointed in some of the people I have come to know. I was taught to face life and all of its challenges with strength, faith and courage. When things seem to be going horribly wrong, when pain surrounds you and the light of a better day seems to abandon you, fight through it and create your own light. But what is one to do when you feel like that light has permanently abandoned you - when no matter how hard you look, how many corners you upturn, you can’t find even the tiniest sliver?

No matter what life has thrown at me, I have tried my hardest to put on a brave face and conquer every challenge. A little more than a year ago, I was suffering - and I met someone who pulled me up by my bootstraps, who made me believe in myself again. I used to think that person was the strongest of all, but now I see my hero is in fact weaker than I. While he handles some trials with strength and grace, when it comes to the hardest ones, the ones where he may actually get hurt, he runs away. And by running away, he hurts everyone else.

As I sit here, I am left to wonder when exactly my strength will run out. For I have handled pain, pressure and crushing defeat day after day after day, for years. And while I continue to try and deal with life’s cruel, harsh blows, I find myself struggling more and more to keep my head above water. Though I try my hardest to save myself, I know deep down that I don’t have the strength. I don’t have the heart. My conviction is waning. I truly believe that somewhere out there is my saving grace, but will it arrive in time?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Lucky another year!

I know I know, it’s been forever again since my last update. I guess one of my New Year’s resolutions is going to have to be to post at least one blog posting a week.

On Friday, Dec. 16 the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater Warhawks challenged the Mount Union Raiders for the NCAA DIII National Football Championship title in the 39th Annual Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl (I know, it’s a mouthful). This was the seventh consecutive year the two teams have faced off for the crown.

Once again, I signed up to travel on the fan bus to cheer my alma mater on. However, this year I had to do it silently as I actually had press credentials! Yah!

I’m not going to go into too much detail here - for the full story, click here - but covering the national title game (and Whitewater’s subsequent win - the third in a row) for my newspaper was amazing. I spent the entire first half of the game up in the press box. The second half, however, was spent, wait for it...on the sidelines taking photos. I was so close I could smell the sweat on those fit footballers.

Even though I couldn’t actually cheer on the home team...verbally...I was mentally sending them positive thoughts. Unlike previous years, it was a low-scoring game, which made it nervewracking to the very end. In spite of a late comeback by Mount Union, Whitewater managed to hold onto their lead and ended the game 13-10.

I am now four for four in Stagg Bowl appearances. Although Whitewater and Mount Union have faced off for the national football title every year since 2005, I have only signed up to go on the fan bus and watch the game in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011 - the same four years Whitewater has won. I know, I know, they have superior coaches, skill, talent and a lot of hard work - but I still maintain that maybe I bring just that little bit of extra luck that makes my alma mater the best in the nation for another year.

Next time: 2011 - a year in review