Employ Me!

You’ve spent hours on your résumé, filled out applications, talked with businesses, went in for interviews and still your cell phone sits quietly on your desk. Sound familiar?
Getting a summer job in mid-Michigan this year seems about as likely as getting struck by lightning, and for young adults in particular, you might actually have a better shot at the latter. The reason is simple: Michigan has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation at 6.9 percent, which means summer jobs will be scarce for the fifth year in a row, according to state unemployment statistics.
“It’s hard because at first I tried to get a job that would be applicable toward my major,” criminal justice senior Tesla Hughes said. “But at this point I’ll be lucky to find any job at all.”
Like Hughes, advertising sophomore Jason Vadney has applied to various locations in East Lansing with no luck.“I applied everywhere I could think of and haven’t heard back,” Vadney said. “It’s frustrating because it’s almost summer and now I guess I just have to wait it out.”
This summer thousands of young people are battling for jobs not only against each other, but also against unemployed adults. For example, Capital Area Michigan Works recently cancelled its teen job fair because there were not enough jobs. “It’s really hard this year, especially in East Lansing,” education sophomore Carly Zenk said. “You have to set yourself apart from the thousands of other applicants and really be persistent.”
Zenk applied to a dozen other places before being hired at Tanning & Co. “I had a friend who worked there and I called the manager a few times a week to force her to remember me,” Zenk said. “Getting acquainted with the person in charge is crucial, because if a job does open up, you are usually first on the list.”
Some students don’t want to deal with the application process and instead babysit or do yard work – things that don’t involve the hassle of the application process. No preference freshman Danielle Williams plans on doing just that when she goes home to Ontario. Even though she will be in East Lansing for part of the summer, Williams has given up on finding a job in Michigan. “I applied to a bunch of places in the spring and got no response,” she said. “I wish I could have gotten a job, but at least I can always go home and babysit without worrying about interviews and résumés.”
Accounting junior Lindsay Rodin agrees. Rodin has had a summer job lifeguarding and coaching at the same swimming pool for three summers. “I like being able to jump right back into it when I get home and not stress out like some of my friends about where to work,” Rodin said. “It’d be nice to stay up in East Lansing this summer, but having a guaranteed job is something you can’t get around here.”
Even for those fortunate enough to be hired locally this summer, there are disadvantages to the masses of unemployed people. “My manager told me that they’re going to be really strict on the current employees because of the enormous interest they receive for positions,” human biology sophomore Amber Schroeder said.
Schroeder, who recently started working at Dick’s Sporting Goods, knows the number of unemployed young adults makes keeping her job even harder. Still, she realizes she is one of the lucky ones. “A lot of my friends are still scrambling around trying to find a job,” she said. “I went jobless all last summer, and it is not something I want to do again.”
But don’t despair if you still don’t have a summer job. Many summer-specific locations are forced to hire during warm weather. Try an ice cream parlor, a summer camp or a pool lifeguard. “We hire nearly a full staff every summer,” IM West director Joel Eddy said.
Many restaurants with outdoor seating hire extra servers to deal with the increased crowds. Education sophomore Amber Rodin capitalized on that thought by applying to local restaurants and bars. She was hired for the summer by Harpers Restaurant and Brewery. “It’s all about being in the right place at the right time,” Rodin said.
Unfortunately, that will be the fate for thousands in East Lansing and the mid-Michigan area this summer. “It’s a frustrating market and jobs are being gobbled up every second,” Schroeder said. Don’t want it to be you? Stop sitting around, grab your phone and start calling.

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Bracketology Part III: Bittersweet Ending

It’s funny how, several weeks ago, people in East Lansing would have been ecstatic knowing MSU would have both teams in the Final Four. But watching the men’s and women’s teams end their respective seasons, people are thinking, “We blew it. If we had just made that shot, or held on to that loose ball, maybe our teams could have done it. They should have done it.” [game]
But does achieving beyond what anyone in the nation believed possible make these two teams losers because they didn’t bring home the hardware? Does failing in the final rounds of college basketball’s greatest challenge make our warriors soft and scared? Raise your hand if you honestly predicted the women would play for the national title and the men would reach the Final Four this year. Not too many of you, are there?
Thankfully, there are some MSU fans who appreciate this year for what it was, a year of defying the odds. A year where “never give up” was more than a phrase, it was a style of basketball. A No. 5 seed beating a No. 1 and 2 seed, both in come-from-behind victories. A No. 1 seed that silenced the critics who questioned their ranking by sending a historic program and legendary coach home early. Two more banners to be hung proudly in Breslin Center next year. A team who refused to let a 16-point deficit discourage them and came back for a breathtaking win. And finally a team labeled as perpetual underachievers able to throw the demons off their backs that have plagued them for nearly four years.
“I’m excited with the way both teams competed and am very proud of both of their accomplishments,” no preference sophomore Dan Schemmel said.
Criminal justice senior Tesla Hughes agrees. “No matter what, MSU is the only school this year who can say they had both their teams in the Final Four. I don’t think it’s a disappointment that we didn’t win a title, I think it’s a great reflection on our athletic program.”
After knocking off top squads from Kentucky and Duke, the men’s team fell to the University of North Carolina in the Final Four. UNC went on two nights later to beat Illinois for the national title.
The blinding media glare wasn’t enough to dim the Lady Spartans as they overcame a powerful Tennessee in the Final Four, 68-64, before losing to Baylor in the national championship game.
“Overall they were two great seasons to watch,” electrical engineering sophomore Matt Torres said. “I’m just glad to be a part of all of this and to be a Spartan.”
“Our teams finished second and fourth in the nation and we collectively beat Kentucky, Duke and Tennessee,” education sophomore Ashley Kaminski said. “There’s not a sport at MSU that wouldn’t be happy with that kind of finish.”
The end of the men’s and women’s seasons is nothing for any Spartan to hang their head about; instead it’s a time for all of us to look toward the sky and thank those college basketball gods for letting little East Lansing bask in the national limelight this season.
We can’t wait to do it all over again next year.

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Bracketology

For those of you who don’t watch college basketball and don’t know a No. 1 seed from a seed in the ground, it’s a good idea to spend the next few weeks trying to isolate yourselves from American culture. Godspeed my friends, Godspeed.
[court] For everyone else, welcome to East Lansing during March Madness. Until the first week of April, audiences across the country and down the street will be in front of their TVs, switching from one tournament game to another, praying their picks will advance. Restaurants, offices and homes everywhere have been tuned in to watch the original 64 teams dwindle to a lone national champion. And don’t think we’re not betting on the results.
Of course part of the reason the nation becomes so captivated by March Madness is many of us have self-respect, pride and, well, money riding on it. Millions of offices, schools, families and friends fill out brackets, believing they have the ability to predict every step of the tournament. The upsets, the sleepers, the rivalries – they’re all a much-loved and virtually unforeseen part of the tournament. Who has enough confidence to instill in a No. 16 seed being victorious over a No. 1? Hardly anyone – it hasn’t happened in over 15 years. (But several do pick 12-seed-over-five-seed upsets – it’s happened 26 times since 1985.)
However, the rush of a predicted upset or a buzzer-beater three-point shot to win the game is a lot more exciting when your money – or worse yet, your pride – is on the line. “I think it makes the games a lot more exciting when you have something riding on it,” said integrated social sciences and health sciences sophomore Lauren Bogenberger. Bogenberger is participating in a bracket with MSU’s triathlon club. Bracket competitions come in all forms, ranging from between two roommates to ESPN’s Tournament Challenge, which offers $10,000 to the top bracket in the nation.
[chances] “From a social perspective, it’s amusing to see people with their brackets ruined,” physiology senior Erika Templeton said. As an NCAA athlete herself, Templeton is not allowed to bet on the tournament, but is still an avid fan of the upsets. “Upsets are great because you get to see teams come together and achieve what no one else expected them to. It’s motivating and inspirational to me as an athlete.”
Although MSU’s men’s team has been dubbed a “sleeper” pick by ESPN analyst Dick Vitale, the student body is divided on how they will fare. “I think we will win,” education sophomore Dave Lessard said. “I love our university and expect them to give nothing less than their best in the tournament.”
Some are not as confident in the Spartans. A recent article in The State News warned students against putting MSU as a championship team in their brackets. “I love State as much as anyone else but it seems we can never get it together enough to win the big games,” mechanical engineering sophomore Lindsay Bockstiegel said.
MSU’s men entered the tournament with a 21-6 record, joining four other Big Ten squads in the tournament: Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota. Illinois is seeded No. 1 in one of the four tournament regions, joining Washington, Duke and North Carolina as odds-on favorites.
MSU, a five-seed in the Austin region, faced No. 12 seed Old Dominion in the first round. Old Dominion finished 28-5 overall and ended up first in the Colonial Athletic Association conference. After a hard-fought game, the Spartans went 6-for-6 from the line to win 89-81. They beat No. 13 seed Vermont on Sunday 72-61, who stunned No. 4 Syracuse in an overtime 60-57 victory.
“March Madness is one of the best times of the year, because it’s so pure; it’s all about the game,” mechanical engineering sophomore Brandon Goad said. “I would love to see State win, but I think that Arizona is going to win it all.”
Although the bracketology craze has traditionally been about the men, the women’s tournament is becoming increasingly popular. MSU’s women’s team entered the tournament as Big Ten champs and a top seed, joining LSU, North Carolina and Tennessee. With a program-high record of 28-3, the Spartans also got their first No. 1 ranking in the team’s history. The Spartans proved their worth in the first round, defeating Alcorn State 73-41 and Southern California 61-59 in the second round. The women will face Vanderbilt in Kansas City this Sunday for their Sweet 16 game.
The NCAA championship game is on April 4, at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis for the men, while the women play for the title April 5, at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis.
Sit down, have a beer and dig out your brackets from underneath that pizza box. Save your voice for the crazy referee calls and missed free throws, and call your friends at the University of Michigan to ask how it feels to peer in from the outside. March is a good month to be a Spartan basketball fan, and it’s Sweet 16 time in East Lansing.

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The Ball’s in Their Court

As the final buzzer sounded on Feb. 3, senior center Kelli Roehrig looked up to see the scoreboard and couldn’t help but smile. The 101-40 game marked another win for the Spartans.
[bball2] It was only three years ago on this date that MSU fell to Indiana 67-55 in front of a dismal crowd in Bloomington, Ind. During Roehrig’s freshman year and Joanne P. McCallie’s second season as head coach, MSU entertained a mere 1,500 fans.
Four years later, with a 19-3 overall record, MSU now averages 5,200 fans a game and has been thrust into the national limelight.
“The amount of community involvement has grown so much from my first year here, it’s really like night and day,” Roehrig said. “To have all these people here; we really appreciate all the support.”
The atmosphere around women’s basketball has changed tremendously, junior guard Lindsay Bowen added. “A lot of younger girls come to the games, which is definitely a positive change. More people approach me and my teammates outside of the court now as well.”
When Coach McCallie came to MSU in 2000, she wanted to do for women’s basketball what Tom Izzo did for the men: turn them into a national powerhouse. However, McCallie realized upon arrival that taking MSU to the next level would require dramatic change and several years to see results.
This season, the vision McCallie had four years ago could not be clearer. The Spartans, who jumped out to an astonishing 8-1 in their first nine games, hold a No. 10 national ranking, the highest of any Michigan women’s basketball team ever.
Besides hiring coaches Al Brown and Semeka Randall from Tennessee as assistants, McCallie also upgraded recruiting with four current players either winning or being runners-up for Michigan’s Miss Basketball Award. McCallie’s philosophy demands her players be assertive and accountable for their actions on and off the court. “She’s a very intense person in coaching and life,” Roehrig said. “She’s a great, compassionate coach with a lot of passion for what she does and we owe a lot to her.”
Roehrig, along with guard Kristin Haynie, is part of a senior class that has amassed the most wins in women’s basketball history with a current tally of 77, a record that can only stand to increase by the end of the year. Of these winning games, Roehrig has played in all of them and Haynie has played in all but two due to a hand injury earlier in the season. “I think we’ve really grown this year, and we realize what it takes to be a great team,” Roehrig said.
Each member of the women’s basketball team has learned they play a vital role in the team’s success. “It’s amazing,” freshman forward Melissa Smalls said, “not only to be on such a great playing team, but also the people involved, they are nothing short of incredible.”
Smalls is right. Even though it’s only the beginning of February, what MSU has done thus far has been spectacular. In addition to having a high national ranking and being on the verge of their third straight NCAA tournament berth, the Spartans handed annual powerhouse, the University of Connecticut, its worst home loss in nearly 14 years by defeating them 67-51 on Dec. 29. MSU has gone from a 6-10 Big Ten record with a ninth place finish in 2001-2002 to their current 8-2 and third place standing.
Previously MSU has captured only one Big Ten title, finishing in a three-way tie with Illinois and Purdue during the 1996-1997 season. No Spartan team has ever advanced past the second round of the NCAA tournament, a pattern which this year’s team hopes to break. The team is aiming to win the Big Ten and NCAA championships, Smalls said. “The capabilities and possibilities are sky high and completely up to us. We decide how far we will go and what we will be. In my mind, we are already champions; we just need to prove it.”
[ladyb] The success of the women’s basketball team has helped bring much needed appreciation for female sports, just in time for National Girls and Women in Sports Day, which was on Feb. 9. “I think our success has definitely helped shed some light on women’s sports,” Roehrig said. Bowen agrees it has been a very positive change for female sports. “[Women’s] basketball has come a long way. It’s more physical, demanding and up-tempo. I think most of the stereotypes have been eliminated, but not completely.”
With the NCAA tournament approaching, the Spartans are playing some of their best basketball yet and are ready to make a run for the Big Ten title. And, most importantly, they are ready to do it as a team. “The ‘pick-me-ups’ we give each other on and off the court really show the support we have for each other. It motivates you and makes all your hard work worth it,” Smalls said. “I believe we will just continue to get better and better and show everyone what MSU basketball is all about.”

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