Santa Clara University

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Bronco Profiles

 

Good, raw work

Writing, coaching, and Teens in Print
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Editorial Confab: Knopf-Goldner, left, with student journalist Daja Taylor, a sophomore at Media Communications Technology High School.
Photo: Sophie Asmar '09

A sticky summer morning in Boston. A man is robbed. Inside Conference Room A at The Boston Globe, 20 reporters see it all. They slouch in their seats. They look at the ceiling. Some cross their arms, others twirl their hair. Ah, youth.

“Get your notebooks out, get your pens!” calls Kelly Knopf-Goldner '90. She is tall and slender, and she stands, arms folded across her chest, measuring up her students. Her no-nonsense demeanor is betrayed, though, by a slight smile.

The students know the drill: She is their writing coach, and she’s guiding them through a reporting exercise for the WriteBoston Summer Journalism Institute. One of the fruits of that labor is Teens in Print, a newspaper written by and published for teens. The students in the room shake off their I’m-too-cool-for-that expressions and embrace their assigned roles as witnesses and reporters. One brags, “We’re T.i.P.! We’re first on the scene!”

Good, raw work

newspaper_150_1Six years ago, Knopf-Goldner gathered 12 students to create T.i.P., the first independent youth newspaper in Boston. Students come from schools that don’t have their own papers; most of the schools also have high drop-out rates—for both students and teachers.

“Many of our teens are a few grades behind on their reading levels,” Knopf-Goldner says, “but they come because they love writing, and they get a lot of coaching from us. So they produce really good, raw work.”

About 20 students meet after school to produce five issues per year. For each issue, 30,000 copies are distributed to all Boston public libraries, youth-serving agencies, and local high schools. Once a year, T.i.P. is printed in the Boston Sunday Globe, whose foundation has supported T.i.P. since its inception.

The student paper is an initiative of WriteBoston, a program developed to foster writing skills in Boston teens. Ten high schools in low-income areas including Hyde Park, Roxbury, Dorchester, and Brighton participate in the program. According to the Massachusetts Department of Education, since 2006 these schools have seen an improvement of 14.2 percent in advanced/proficient scores on the English Language Arts exam. That’s better than average.

Last year, WriteBoston launched two writing centers, staffed by college writing students, which serve seven local high schools. The centers push the writing-coach model to help teachers and students alike. Just a few months ago, after more than five years at the helm of T.i.P., Knopf-Goldner handed off management of the project to a colleague; she continues teaching and has gone back to graduate school to complete a master’s in writing.

It’s a special reward for any founder to see her publication go from crawling to walking to hitting its stride. But the finances of publishing being what they are, the future of T.i.P. is now uncertain. The Boston Globe Foundation closed last summer; funding for 2010–11 has yet to be found. Knopf-Goldner hopes the well-earned popularity of T.i.P. will ensure continued support from the mayor and others. If not, hundreds of Boston public high school teens will lose a major source of motivation to improve their writing—and may never learn the vital role that journalism can and should play in society.

Maggie Beidelman ’09 has recently returned to the Bay Area after working on the East Coast and in France. This is her first feature for SCM.

 

A stand-up guy

Ron Calcagno ’64 inducted into the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame
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Photo: SCU Archives

In early November, Ron Calcagno stood up to accept his induction plaque at the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame dinner. He was honored, in part, for 24 years of coaching at St. Francis High School in Mountain View, where he compiled one of California’s best all-time high school football win-loss records. More significant, he coached hundreds of young men, many of whom grew up to become leaders of Silicon Valley. Several dozen of those men were among the crowd of 700 gathered at the HP Pavilion for the occasion—and when Calcagno stood up it was an emotional highlight of the evening.

Calcagno began teaching and coaching at St. Francis shortly after graduating from Santa Clara. In 1972, he was named the school’s head football coach. By the time he left the school in 1996 to take a position as an executive with the Oakland A’s, his teams had won 233 games, earned 12 championships in the tough West Catholic League, and taken 11 Central Coast Section titles, including five in a row from 1991 to 1995.

“I know it sounds trite, but when Ron coached, he had a W.I.N. philosophy—What’s Important Now,” said Calcagno’s younger brother Ray ’68, who coached alongside Ron. “He put an emphasis on his players both in and out of season, in the classroom, what they did after school, what they did later on in their lives.”

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World Series contenders: Calcagno is in the middle row, second from right.
Photo: SCU Archives

Ron Calcagno’s coaching method was one of persuasive perspective. Tall and blessed with piercing blue eyes, he commanded the attention of his players and students. He wanted his teams to be efficient and successful but also have fun. He used anecdotes to illustrate his point. He tried to get every player on the team into every game for at least one play. After every Friday night game, he ordered his team to assemble on Saturday morning and asked them to dress up as the mascot of the next opponent, awarding a prize to the best costume.

Calcagno will confess that he co-opted much of this technique from SCU ’s Pat Malley. In the early 1960s, Calcagno quarterbacked the Bronco football team and earned Little All-American honors. Come springtime, he would don his baseball gear. He was the catcher for the 1962 Bronco team that reached the College World Series, advancing to the championship game before losing in extra innings to the University of Michigan.

Today, Calcagno lives in retirement in the South Bay. His grandson Michael will be a senior at SCU next year. Ron Calcagno occasionally visits his old high school campus and takes in a football game. When he does, he walks through the gates of Ron Calcagno Stadium. The school renamed the facility several years ago, to honor a stand-up guy.

Mark Purdy

 

No ordinary run

Frances Casey ’87 carries the Olympic Torch
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Flame aloft: Frances Casey '87.
Photo: Vancouver Olympic Committee

It was a short stretch in a long relay, but the 300 meters that Frances Casey ’87 carried the Olympic torch was enough to make her a celebrity for a day. Flanked by bagpipers playing “Scotland the Brave,” Casey ran through Madeira Park, along the British Columbian Sunshine Coast, about 60 miles north of Vancouver. Her moment in the Olympic sun came on Feb. 4—day 98 of the 106-day, 46,000-kilometer torch relay across Canada. The trek is the longest ever to be contained within a host country to the Olympics.

Clad in the official white Olympic jogging suit and nubbed red gloves, Casey was a celebrity at the pancake breakfast in Madeira Park’s community hall that morning. She was swarmed by children requesting autographs and photos before breakfast even started. On torch day, she discovered, “You’re a rock star.” (One of the kids kept touching the uniform, asking if it was “highly flammable.”) When the torch was handed off to her and she stepped into the street, she was greeted by a barrage of photographers. For Casey, the relay was far more than a spectacle, however. She found herself “alternating between pouring tears and the absolute biggest smile,” she says. “Carrying the torch gives us community. It gives us pride.”

Originally from Eureka, Calif., Casey and her family moved to the Vancouver area nine years ago when her husband took a job there. She was one of 12,000 chosen to carry the torch for the 2010 Olympics. On her application, she highlighted her volunteer service with the local Catholic Church and food bank, along with the school volunteer work that a dedicated mother of two takes on. (She has two daughters, one in seventh grade and the other in 10th; the elder is considering applying to SCU.)

Casey traces the roots of her community involvement to her days on the Mission campus, where she organized student activities with Jeanne Rosenberger, who now serves as SCU’s vice provost for student life. “Santa Clara instilled a sense of giving back,” Casey says, “making every day exciting and never losing a sense of family. It showed me the path to where I am.”

With so many people doing the honors, the torch had quite a range of carriers. Just before Casey’s turn, a 16-year-old high school football player ran a stretch; Casey handed off to the man who designed the relay route through British Columbia. The epic journey even inspired one man, Pierre Luc of Quebec, to quit his job, sell his apartment, and set out to compile and promote a book of torchbearers’ stories. He’ll be rollerblading across the country to promote the book.

Molly Gore ’10

 

Rollergirl

Erin Gay '04, M.A. '10
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Death by Dollface is her name. Flat track derby is her game.
Photo: Charles Barry

By day, Erin Gay is SCU’s assistant director for annual and special giving—and she’s completing a master’s in higher education administration. But by night, when she straps on her skates and hits the flat track, she becomes Death by Dollface of the Silicon Valley Roller Girls.

You might remember the banked-track, smash-and-crash Roller Derby of yore. There’s still some of that bad-girl cache to women’s flat track derby, a sport that has seen increased interest across the nation during the past few years. The San Jose–based SVRG are far from pro wrestlers in motion, though. They’re an apprentice team in a nascent league owned and operated by the women who skate. And Gay just finished a stint as their president.

Death by Dollface

How’s it played?
A game lasts an hour. Two teams—each with four blockers and one jammer. The referee blows the whistle, and that starts a “jam.” Skaters circle the track, and jammers score points by passing the other team’s blockers. When I’m a jammer, every time I pass an opposing blocker’s hips, that’s a point for me. A jam can last up to two minutes.

So you’re a jammer?
Actually, to toot my own horn, I got Most Versatile Player last year. They can put me in anywhere. I’m a long-distance runner as well, which helps with endurance. I can block two or three in a row, take a time off, jam, and go back in and block.

What about penalties?
In the old days, skaters could elbow other women in the face, pull them down. Now there’s absolutely no pulling, no elbows. Instead, there’s a lot of body checking. Below the knee and the whole back area is off limits. Still, we probably see one major injury per game. Usually knees. A blog called “Hall of Pain” lists all of our injuries. And we have specific insurance for roller derby.

Yet there are still these larger-than-life bad-girl personas.

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The jam: Silicon Valley Roller Girls in action.
Photo: Charles Barry
Sure, that’s the biggest piece brought over from the old style of derby. But it’s gone from theatrical to a sport where we pride ourselves in the strength and intelligence it takes—plus tons of core strength, lots of focus. You play offense and defense at the same time. Everything happens so quickly; it’s like combining hockey and speed-skating. Some national champion speed skaters play derby as a secondary sport. Plus, we run this business by ourselves; that really attracts some girls. I’ve applied a lot of what I’ve been learning in my master’s program—understanding leadership and the function of a board, being able to work with our attorneys, creating job descriptions for a sports league, budgeting, and finance. Before I was president, I headed up work with sponsors.

Who skates?
We have some highly educated women on the team; one gal is finishing her Ph.D. in communication. There’s also a cohort of women who identify with that hard-knocks thing, who have been in trouble with the law before. But we all come together on a Saturday and build a house for Habitat for Humanity as part of our annual community service contribution. So the girls that came from the wrong side of the tracks are now getting involved in this totally different kind of community. It’s truly a special kind of family. We even have different terms we use because there’s so much time that goes into this; derby widows, for instance—those are our fiancés and families.

Who are the fans?
Word has really spread. One of our superfans is Steve Wozniak. After we had our first front-page article in the San Jose Mercury News, he showed up at our game. He wanted to become a ref. Apparently, he skates well. So we gave him his own derby name—Smackbook Pro. Next time he comes, we’ll present him a jersey.

SBS

» Learn more about the Silicon Valley Roller Girls here.