2011

Rezner Pottery Brings History, World Culture to Academy and its Community

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"Babe Ruth" Face Jug

"Babe Ruth" Face Jug

Ten miles from the United States Sports Academy’s Daphne campus is a place where history and world culture combine in the works of local ceramic Potter John Rezner.

Rezner, the American Sport Art Museum and Archives (ASAMA) 2011 Sport Artist of the Year, is known for a style of pottery that has roots in the early 19th century and a firing technique that can be traced back to ancient Asia.

The Fairhope, Ala.-based artist makes pottery that is seen all over the world, from clay he digs from his own land. Baldwin County clay is highly prized for its aesthetic qualities. The public can even witness him firing his clay, in a kiln that can fire up to 500 pots at one time, on his property at 21270 Hwy 181 in Fairhope.

As a sport artist, Rezner specializes in face jug depictions of baseball legends, such as Babe Ruth, whose career home-run and single-season home-run records each stood for more than three decades; Hank Aaron, a native of nearby Mobile, Ala. who broke Ruth’s career home-run record in 1974; and Ted Williams, the first player ever to bat over .400 for a single season in the major leagues whose Hall of Fame career was twice interrupted by service as a Marine pilot in World War II and Korea. All three jugs are on display at the Academy.

A member of the Academy’s Art Committee, Rezner created a face jug – a jug shaped with an individual’s facial features – of the Abbot of the Shaolin Temple, leader of millions of Shaolin Buddhists.

“I presented (the jug) as a symbol of our two cultures merging,” Rezner said.

The jug is now in China as part of the Shaolin Temple’s museum collection. The Abbot received the gift when he visited the Academy’s Daphne campus in 2006 upon receiving an honorary doctorate.

Face Jugs are a unique pottery item found in the South, according to Karl Kuehn, a collector in Huntington Beach, Calif.  He said the origin of face jugs is not know for certain, but has its roots in the African American slave community. Some of the earliest examples are credited to “Dave the Slave,” who produced pottery from the 1820’s to the 1860’s in the Edgefield, S.C. area. Folk history holds that when someone in the slave community died, the jugs were modeled with devil faces and placed on the grave for a year. If the jug broke it was thought to be a sign that the soul of the deceased was wrestling with the devil. A second theory is that the scary faces were applied to jugs containing moonshine to keep children away from the contents.

Face jugs are still a widely collected form of pottery and are growing in popularity due to influential works by the legendary Lanier Meaders (White County, Ga. 1917 – 1998) who was descended from a family of potters. Another such potter, Steve Abee of Lenoir, N.C. belongs to the Catawba Valley, N.C. pottery tradition.

Rezner’s pottery is the combination of three of his greatest passions: his family, the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay and traditional pottery techniques. His work is fired using an anagama kiln, which is an ancient Asian cave-like pottery kiln that uses the flame from burning wood as an artistic element. The method originated in China but was brought to Japan via Korea in the fifth century. For generations, the anagama techniques have been adapted into Southern pottery.

Rezner’s jugs can be purchased at the Academy’s Daphne campus, at One Academy Drive, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Founded in 1984, ASAMA, a division of the United States Sports Academy, is dedicated to the preservation of sports art, history, and literature. The ASAMA collection is composed of more than 1,500 works of sport art across a variety of media, including paintings, sculptures, assemblages, prints, and photographs.

The museum is free and open to the public from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Academy, Chinese, Working on Multi-Billion Dollar "Sport Cities"

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Guo signing

The United States Sports Academy will be providing Academic services to three multi-billion dollar projects, “Sport Cities” in China that will be built around a major golf course and designed to be model towns for promoting a “healthy and happy” lifestyle in the world’s most populous nation.

Academy President Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich plans to attend the ground-breaking for the first city, named Samaranch Sports Town, on 21 April. The town is named after the late former International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Juan Antonio Samaranch, an honorary doctorate recipient at the Academy who is famous for the IOC historic financial turnaround that has made the Olympics the billion-dollar event that it is today. Samaranch Sports Town will be developed on 5,100 acres of property in the Fujian province.

WorldTeam is hoping that the Samaranch-era Olympic prosperity will result from this project. Samaranch Sports Town will be in the Quangang District of Quanzhou City, which is located in the center part of the west coast of the Taiwan Strait. Quanzhou is the economic center in the Fujian Province, and has the No. 1 gross domestic product rating in the province.

The United States Sports Academy and WorldTeam, among the largest privately-owned sport services companies in the People’s Republic of China, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on 7 January, establishing the framework for the development of the Sino-American Golf Academy (SAGA) in those cities. Dr. Rosandich signed the MOU with WorldTeam Preisdient Guo “Jack” Jie, who received an honorary doctorate at the Academy in this year.

The Academy will be involved in the design and planning for all three of the golf schools. It is anticipated that the second and third of the sports cities will be developed in rapid succession following the launch of the first facility.

However, the golf education program will not have to wait for the completion of the campus in Fujian. The Academy and WorldTeam will develop a graduate-level certificate program in Golf Management in cooperation with the Hunan International Economics University located in Changshan, Hunan Province. The Hunan International Economics University is among the largest private universities in China and has already developed a Bachelor’s Degree in Golf Education.

As envisioned, the graduate certificate program would offer advanced training in Golf Course Management for senior golf club managers with an emphasis on western management skills. The recent approval of golf being added to the Olympic Games, combined with the explosive growth of the golf industry in China, has created a need for trained golf club professionals that is not currently being met by the educational institutions in that country. The first students in the Golf Management certificate program will be admitted to study in the fall semester.

People, Places and Programs

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Representatives of the United States Sports Academy continue to travel all over the world to teach sports education programs. For nearly four decades, the Academy has provided programs in sport education to students throughout the nation and to 60 countries across the globe.

Academy Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer Dr. T.J. Rosandich is in Thailand teaching a course in Olympism, in conjunction with the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT). The course is the first in a six-part series to be hosted by the SAT for the Academy’s International Certification in Sports Management (ICSM) program. The Academy has a long-standing relationship with the SAT, sending instructors to Thailand to teach certification courses in the sports management and sports coaching programs. The SAT is Thailand’s primary sport organization and plays a vital role in the development of sport.

After completing the program, T.J. Rosandich will travel to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to present a program to the Minister of Education to retrain all of the nation’s physical educators. After Thailand, he will go to Singapore to present the Academy’s Distinguished Service Award to Ng Ser Miang, Vice President of the International Olympic Committee and President of the first Youth Olympic Games. While in Singapore, he will also meet with Chay Yee, president of the International Sports Academy, site of the United States Sports Academy’s first diploma program.

Academy Dean of Student Services Dr. Craig Bogar and former Dean of Academic Affairs Dr. Richard Bell recently taught continuing education courses in sports marketing and sport finance at the National Senior Games Association (NSGA) annual meeting and conference in Las Vegas, Nev.  The Academy is developing a program to become the academic arm to provide adult education to the NSGA and its 300,000-plus members, age 50 to over 100.

Dr. Pete Mathiesen recently returned from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where he taught sports psychology in cooperation with the country’s National Institute of Sport. A successful college basketball coach who also coached professional basketball in Australia, Dr. Mathiesen is a longtime member of the Academy’s national faculty.

Academy graduate Mike Vollmar was recently named assistant athletic director for football at the University of Michigan. The 1989 master’s degree recipient and 2010 Alumnus of the Year has been serving the same post at the University of Alabama.

Academy doctoral graduate Dr. Maria Elles Scott recently went to the Kingdom of Bahrain to teach sports public relations, in conjunction with Bahrain’s General Organization of Youth and Sports (GOYS), the final course in the ICSM program. The Academy’s nearly 40-year relationship with GOYS has played a vital role in the development of sports in the Kingdom.

Dr. Scott has previously served as associate director of communications for the South Florida Super Bowl XLI Host Committee and currently teaches public relations at the University of Miami (Fla.).

Snowboard Champ Shaun White, Volleyball Star Blair Brown are Academy’s Athletes of the Month

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Shaun White

Shaun White

Snowboarder Shaun White and the nation’s top collegiate women’s volleyball player, Blair Brown, were named Male and Female Athletes of the Month for January by the United States Sports Academy.

The public is invited to participate in the worldwide Athlete of the Month nominating and balloting processes. Visit the Academy website and submit your vote, and return to the website the first week of each month to vote on the Athlete of the Month. Winners will be announced on the Academy’s website and in the online edition of the Academy Update.

White won his fourth career halfpipe and superpipe championships at the Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado. The two-time Olympic champion raised his career X Games gold medal total to 13.

Blair Brown

Blair Brown

Brown, a senior at Penn State won the Honda Award for top college women’s athlete in her sport. Brown led the Nittany Lions to their fourth consecutive national title, scoring a match-high 18 kills in the finals against California.

Australian Open men’s tennis champion Novak Djorkovic of Serbia finished second to White on the male ballot. The world’s No. 3 player won his second career title in Melbourne by overhelming Brittan’s Andy Murray 6-4, 6-2, 6-3, in the finals. It was also the second career Grand Slam tournament title for the 2008 and 2011 Australian champion.

World sprint speedskating champion Christine Nesbitt of Canada finished second on the female ballot. The World Cup and 2010 Olympic champion won both 1,000- meter races and was sixth and a surprising third in 500 meter races to claim the sprint title that is calculated on total time from the four races at the World Sprint Speed Skating Championships in Heerenveen, Netherlands.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers finished third for Male Athlete of the Month after he led the first No. 6 seed to win an NFC championship. Rodgers led the postseason in total passing yards (790), completing 66 of 93 pass attempts for six touchdowns and two interceptions in three Packer road victories.

Australian Open women’s tennis champion Kim Clijsters finished third on the women’s ballot, after she won her first title in Melbourne by defeating China’s Li Na, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the finals. The victory gave the 27-year-old Belgian her fourth major as she became the No. 1-ranked women’s tennis player in the world.

Academy Teaches Course at National Senior Games Association (NSGA)

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Academy recently taught continuing education courses in sports marketing and fund raising at the National Senior Games Association (NSGA)

The Academy recently taught continuing education courses in sports marketing and fund raising at the National Senior Games Association (NSGA) convention in Las Vegas, Nev. Courses were taught by former Academy Dean of Academic Affairs Dr. Richard Bell (left) and current Dean of Student Services Dr. Craig Bogar (right), pictured with NSGA Executive Director Philip Godfrey (center). The Academy is developing a program to provide sports management education to the NSGA’s 330,000-plus members who provide Olympic-style athletic events to adults over the age of 50 in all 50 states.

Figure Skating Champion Yuna Kim Presented with Academy’s Female Athlete of the Year Award

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Yuna Kim of South Korea received the United States Sports Academy’s 2010 Female Athlete of the Year Award

Olympic figure skating champion Yuna Kim of South Korea received the United States Sports Academy’s 2010 Female Athlete of the Year Award at her training facility in Artesia, Calif. this past weekend. The presentation was made by former Academy trustee and women’s sports advocate Dr. Judith Sweet.

Yuna, the world’s No. 1 figure skater, dominated the voting after she won the ladies’ singles gold medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics and became the first female skater to surpass the 200-point mark under the International Skating Union judging system. The voting was conducted on a worldwide online ballot in cooperation with USA Today and NBCSports.com.

Dr. Sweet serves as a consultant on Title IX and gender equity strategies for the NCAA, the organization where she spent six years working as vice president for championships and senior woman administrator. She was also the first female president of the NCAA for two years during her 25-year tenure as director of athletics for the University of California-San Diego, where she was one of the first women in the nation to direct a combined men’s and women’s intercollegiate athletics program.

Yuna, who was also named Sportswoman of the Year by the Women’s Sports Foundation, also won the World Championships, ISU Grand Prix Final, ISU Grand Prix Skate America and ISU Grand Prix in 2009. She won the silver medal at the World Championships in 2010, the fourth World Championship medal in the 20-year-old’s four-year career in the senior circuit.

The Athlete of the Year ballot is the culmination of the year-long Athlete of the Month program, which recognizes the accomplishments of men and women in sports around the globe. The Athlete of the Month is selected by an international voting committee comprised of media members and representatives of sports organizations and governing bodies.

Canadian Football Team Names Academy Graduate as Assistant GM

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Joe Womack

Joe Womack, a 1988 graduate of the United States Sports Academy, was recently named assistant general manager of the Canadian Football League’s (CFL) Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Womack joins the Tiger-Cats football operations staff after four seasons with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, most recently as their Director of U.S. Scouting.

“I had an offer to go back to the NFL, but my real love is the CFL,” Womack said. “If a team in the CFL really wanted me, that’s where I would look first.”

During his tenure in Saskatchewan, Womack also served as the Riders’ Director of Player Personnel and the team’s strength and conditioning coach.

Before joining the Roughriders in 2007, the Baton Rouge, La. native spent eight years in the NFL as a scout with the Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins and the NFL Combine.

As a player in the 1970s, he suited up with the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Calgary Stampeders, the NFL’s Denver Broncos as well as World Football League teams in Chicago and San Antonio.

Following his playing career, Womack joined the Roughriders as Director of Scouting in 1982. He would later move on to work for the CFL as Director of Scouting and the B.C. Lions and Director of College Scouting.

Womack is a graduate of Louisiana State University, where he was a multi-sport participant, and received his master’s degree in sports management from the Academy.

Academy Remembers Jack LaLanne, 1995 Fitness Award Winner

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Jack LaLanne

Jack Lalanne, the man whose name was synonymous with fitness for decades and winner of the United States Sports Academy’s 1995 Dwight D. Eisenhower Fitness Award, died Sunday at the age of 96.

“While many kids were watching Loony Tunes and Mr. Rogers, I remember watching Jack Lalanne,” said Academy doctoral student and interval training specialist Conner Johnson of Walnut Creek, Calif. “(I remember) as a young kid, sitting in the floor trying to emulate his fitness strategies. He planted the seed that inspired me at such a young age like so many kids, as well as adults. Like Elvis did in music and Lincoln did in history, he set precedents in fitness and nutrition with ‘class’ and respect. An icon, pioneer, and role model–his legacy will continue to affect us all.”

Lalanne was born 26 September, 1914 in San Francisco, CA and admittedly, during his childhood days was addicted to sugar and junk foods. At age 15, he heard exercise advocate Paul Bragg speak on health and nutrition, which motivated Lalanne to focus on his diet and exercise habits. He studied Henry Gray’s “Anatomy of the Human Body” and concentrated on bodybuilding, chiropractic medicine, and weightlifting, something virtually unheard of in the 1930s.

In 1936 Lalanne opened his own health spa in Oakland, Calif., where he designed the world’s first leg extension machines, pulley machines using cables, and weight selectors, now a standard in the fitness industry.

“The doctors were against me – they said that working out with weights would give people heart attacks and they would lose their sex drive,” Lalanne once said. “Women would look like men and even varsity coaches predicted that their athletes would get muscle bound and banned them from lifting weights. I had to give these athletes keys so they could come in at night and work out in my gym. Time has proven that what I was doing was scientifically correct; starting with a healthy diet followed by systematic exercise and today everyone knows it. All world class athletes now work out with weights, as do many members of the general public, both male and female.”

While the Lalanne fitness model was the Genesis of later fitness movements in the 20th century, he found ways to keep himself from fading into obsolescence.

He will most be remembered for ‘The Jack La Lanne Show,” on television in the 1950s, where he did not use a lot of mechanical equipment His biggest ‘tool’ was a straight back chair.  His audience, mostly women, would get that chair from the kitchen each morning and go through the routines with him much like future generations would follow Jane Fonda. His show lasted for 34 years.

He also incorporated a stretchable cord to tighten up muscles called, ‘The Glamour Stretcher.’  He invented the “Jack LaLanne Juicer” that allowed people to make their own fruit and vegetable juice without buying and throwing away a lot of plastic bottles.

He became famous as a stunt man as well as a fitness guru, with memorable moments that include:

  • Swimming the entire length of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, underwater, with 140 pounds of equipment, including two air tanks, a world record, at age 40
  • A year later, swimming from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco while handcuffed
  • The next year, setting a world record of 1,033 push-ups in 23 minutes
  • A year after that, swimming the Golden Gate channel while towing a 2,500-pound cabin cruiser, while the swift ocean currents turned this one-mile swim into a swimming distance of 6.5 miles
  • The following year, maneuvering a paddleboard nonstop from Farallon Islands to the San Francisco shore, a 30-mile trip that took 9.5 hours
  • Doing 1,000 star jumps and 1,000 chin-ups in 1 hour, 22 minutes
  • At age 60, swimming from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf again, this time handcuffed, shackled and towing a 1,000-pound boat
  • Doing it again a year later, this time swimming the entire length of the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Swimming one mile in Long Beach Harbor, handcuffed and shackled, and towing 13 boats containing 76 people
  • Towing 65 boats in Lake Ashinoko, near Tokyo, Japan, while handcuffed and shackled while the boats were filled with 6,500 pounds of Louisiana Pacific wood pulp
  • At age 66, towing 10 boats in North Miami, Fla., carrying 77 people, for over one mile in less than one hour
  • At age 70, handcuffed, shackled and fighting strong winds and currents, towing 70 rowboats, one with several guests, from the Queen’s Way Bridge in the Long Beach Harbor to the Queen Mary, 1 mile

“America has lost one of its most helpful and colorful icons as they say good-by to Jack LaLanne who for over a half century has influenced people toward better eating and better health,” Patricia Walston of Examiner.com wrote. “Families all across the US and even around the world owe a debt to Mr. LaLanne for bringing to their attention the need for a strong and fit body.  Generations have benefited from his advice and example.”

Academy's Art Collection Boosted by 179 Bronze Statues from Hungary's Nemeth Ferenc

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Nemeth Cyclist

A donation of 179 bronze statues from internationally-acclaimed sculptor Nemeth Ferenc pleased leaders of the American Sport Art Museum and Archives (ASAMA), a division of the United States Sports Academy, after what has already been a blockbuster year in art gifts.

“It is a tacit recognition of the American Sport Art Museum and Archives as a world-class repository of art in all forms in the genre,” Academy President and CEO Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich said, referring to the largest donation in the museum’s history.

Shipments from the collection have already begun, with statues depicting sports legends such as Wayne Gretzky, Tiger Woods, Joe Montana, Willie Mays, Pete Sampras, Carl Lewis and Michael Jordan as well as tributes to other famous people, events, activities and causes. Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton are among the many prominent collectors of Ferenc’s work.

The Hungarian sculptor’s first international exhibition was during the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, at which two of his works were purchased by then-International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Juan Antonio Samarach, a noted collector who started the IOC Museum during his tenure.

“This event meant for me that Gods appointed sport as the subject of my works, and cubist figure form as my style,” Ferenc said. “My works made in this spirit have earned the praise of a lot of internationally famous people.”

For the Athens Olympic Games in 2004, he created the street statue of “Olympic Pleasure” as a gift from Hungary. It was placed near the site of the ancient Olympic Games in Olympia, Greece.

Besides cubist bronze pieces, Ferenc also makes figural bronze reliefs of Greek mythological themes. The latest stage of his work is constuctivist, sport elaborating works of art made of stainless steel.

Major donations such as Ferenc’s are making ASAMA, which houses arguably the world’s largest collection of sport art, will undoubtedly enhance the museum’s prestige in the art world.

Founded in 1984, ASAMA is dedicated to the preservation of sports art, history, and literature. The ASAMA collection is composed of more than 1,500 works of sport art across a variety of media, including paintings, sculptures, assemblages, prints, and photographs.

The museum is free and open to the public from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Work of Fairhope Potter John Rezner on Sale at Academy

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John Rezner

The work of John Rezner, the American Sports Art Museum and Archives (ASAMA) 2011 Sport Artist of the Year, Ceramics, is on sale at the United States Sports Academy.

Jugs can be purchased at the Academy’s Daphne campus, at One Academy Drive, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The Fairhope, Ala.-based artist known for his “face jugs” makes pottery that is seen all over the world from clay he digs from his own land. Baldwin County clay is highly prized for its aesthetic qualities.

A member of the Academy’s Art Committee, Rezner created a face jug – a jug shaped with an individual’s facial features – of the Abbot of the Shaolin Temple, leader of millions of Shaolin Buddhists.

“I presented (the jug) as a symbol of our two cultures merging,” Rezner said.

The jug is now in China as part of the Shaolin Temple’s museum collection. The Abbot received it when he visited the Academy’s Daphne campus in 2006 to receive an honorary doctorate.

Face Jugs are a unique pottery item found in the South. The origin of face jugs is not know for certain, but has its roots in the African American slave community. Some of the earliest examples are credited to “Dave the Slave,” who produced pottery from the 1820’s to the 1860’s in the Edgefield, S.C. area. Folk history holds that when someone in the slave community died, the jugs were modeled with devil faces and placed on the grave for a year. If the jug broke it was thought to be a sign that the soul of the deceased was wrestling with the devil. A second theory is that the scary faces were applied to jugs containing moonshine to keep children away from the contents.

Face jugs are still a widely collected form of pottery and are growing in popularity due to influential works by the legendary Lanier Meaders (White County, Ga. 1917 – 1998) who was descended from a family of potters. Another such potter, Steve Abee of Lenoir, N.C. belongs to the Catawba Valley, N.C. pottery tradition.

Rezner has now been commissioned to make face jugs of famous baseball players for the Academy’s “Mr. Baseball” campaign, a world-wide online vote to name a new baseball statue that is to be erected in front of the Academy next year. Some of those works, including jugs depicting Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Ted Williams, are already on display at the Academy.

The baseball statue is being created by another Fairhope artist, Bruce Larsen, whose “found object art” can be found on display in four statues outside on the Academy’s Daphne campus. The nomination process for naming the statue will continue until 1 April. Nominations can be submitted by logging on to http://ussa.edu/ballots/greatest-baseball-player-of-all-time-nominations.

The top ten nominees will be listed on a world-wide online ballot beginning on 1 April and continuing until the winner is announced on 12 July, the day of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game.

Rezner’s pottery is the combination of three of his greatest passions: his family, the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay and traditional pottery techniques. His work is fired using an anagama kiln, which is an ancient Japanese cave-like pottery kiln that uses the flame from burning wood as an artistic element. For generations, the anagama techniques have been adapted into Southern pottery.

Founded in 1984, ASAMA, a division of the United States Sports Academy, is dedicated to the preservation of sports art, history, and literature. The ASAMA collection is composed of more than 1,500 works of sport art across a variety of media, including paintings, sculptures, assemblages, prints, and photographs.

The museum is free and open to the public from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Academy Graduate Represents MaxPreps in Presentation to Daphne Football Team

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Dr. Cromartie and Brandon Bowling

Academy graduate Brandon Bowling (right), who now works for CBS Sports Site MaxPreps, visited the campus and Academic Affairs Dean Dr. Fred Cromartie (left) during a business trip to Daphne. MaxPreps is an online high school sports information service that handles high school coverage. Tuesday night Bowling, who received a master’s degree in sports management in 2010, attended the Daphne High School basketball games to present the Trojans’ football team with an award for being one of the top high school teams in the country.

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