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Football isn’t what matters most to Jake Locker

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Cleaning up the trash on Mount Everest

Clean climb

Mountain climber was so horrified to see Mount Everest covered with garbage, he decided to clean it up

By Derek Belt
Columns Magazine
December 2009

SEATTLE — At the top of the world, where the jagged peaks and snow-covered slopes of Mount Everest hug even the highest of clouds, garbage besets the brilliance. Empty oxygen bottles. Shredded nylon tents. Solid waste from decades of climbing expeditions once spoiled the long haul up, rendering the world’s tallest mountain a giant junkyard in the sky.

Brent Bishop, ’93, grew up in a climbing family and knew Mount Everest was dirty. At 27 years old, he was determined to do something about it.

“It was a real symbol,” Bishop says. “If we can’t keep the highest mountain in the world clean, what hope is there for other areas?”

Bishop’s M.B.A. program at the University of Washington tackled cutting-edge environmental management issues and inspired him to create the Buy Back Program, which pays Sherpas—local climbers employed by mountaineering expeditions as guides—a few extra dollars to bring used oxygen bottles and other trash down the mountain to Base Camp.

Continue reading “Cleaning up the trash on Mount Everest”

Local company wins turf war for big game

Super Bowl sod

By Derek Belt
Mobile Press-Register
Feb. 3, 2007

ELBERTA, ALA. – When the NFL’s turf-management team first inspected the Georgia-grown sod that was to blanket the field at Miami’s Dolphin Stadium on Super Bowl Sunday, south Baldwin grass grower Eddie Woerner made sure his cell phone was fully charged.

The call he anticipated came later that day. A change was being made. It was January 18—less than three weeks before the big game.

“Eddie,” the NFL official said, “can you start Monday morning?” Woerner shot back: “Sir, we’ll be finished by Sunday morning.”

By daybreak that Friday, a roll of Woerner’s best turf—developed by Elberta-based Southern Turf Nurseries and grown at two of its four worldwide locations, which include farms in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Chile—was being laid every three minutes.

By noon, the field was done and ready for painting, and by mid-afternoon that Saturday everything was in place. Continue reading “Local company wins turf war for big game”

Rat City Rollergirls: Not what you think

By Derek Belt
Columns Magazine
March 2010

SEATTLE — What comes to mind when you think of the Rat City Rollergirls? If it’s tattooed women and fast, physical action, you’re not alone. But that’s not the whole story.

Meet Valerie Morris, ’08. She’s tall, pretty and goes by the skater name Valtron 3000. She’s also a scientist, having earned her Ph.D. in molecular and cellular biology from the University of Washington.

As a postdoctoral fellow at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, she concentrates on leukemia research, but says, “When I go out there and skate, I get to be someone totally different.” Continue reading “Rat City Rollergirls: Not what you think”

Girls make impact on local football teams

By DEREK BELT
Mobile Press-Register
Oct. 5, 2005

ELBERTA, ALA. – First-year Elberta Middle School football coach Adam Crandall saw nothing out of the ordinary the first time he glanced over the Raiders’ roster.

Nothing but the names of 44 boys planning to get down and dirty on the football field in the coming months. Anthony, Andrew, Justin and Josh all sounded like heavy-hitters to him, and he could already envision Steven, Sean, Ryan and Wesley making great plays to win the big game.

Then he saw it.

A name not usually associated with football.

Abby, he thought, is a very interesting name for a boy.

“They asked me in my interview what I thought about girls playing football,” said Crandall. “I told them I didn’t have any problems with it. They never said they had a girl playing, though. I just saw the roster and there she was.”

Abby Brock is not your typical seventh-grader, and Brittne Wheatley isn’t your typical eighth-grader. Why? Because both played football—a sport made for and dominated exclusively by men—and they both played it well. Continue reading “Girls make impact on local football teams”

History of Huskies in the Olympic Games

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High school hecklers can be personally foul

By Derek Belt
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
March 5, 2004

SEATTLE — If players play and coaches coach, what is the fans’ responsibility?

Some say their purpose is to show support for their team. Others argue they’re responsible for creating a lively atmosphere. Whatever the case, there’s no denying the importance of fans at the high school level.

But what about the few who take it to extremes: fans who holler obscenities from the security of the stands and complain to coaches about who took the last shot, or even worse, parents who try to proclaim their child’s successes as their own.

Is there any place for behavior like that in high school basketball?

“Absolutely not,” Rainier Beach coach Mike Bethea said.

Continue reading “High school hecklers can be personally foul”

Why UW quarterback Cody Pickett doesn’t like talking to the media

Cody calls his own shots

By Derek Belt
UW Daily
Nov. 21, 2003

SEATTLE — Cody Pickett knew exactly what Sports Illustrated wanted when the call came. Surprisingly, he wasn’t that interested in giving it to them.

Pickett isn’t, and probably never will be, a media darling like most of the guys in his position. So there was a good chance the UW senior would be just fine without any of the attention. But this was sports journalism’s top dog on the phone—and they wanted to talk.

Still, he hesitated.

In Pickett’s eyes, football isn’t about who can run the fastest or rack up the most yards, it’s about winning. And winning can only be done as a team, which is why he was reluctant to grant Sports Illustrated its feature on the cowboy from Caldwell, Idaho. Continue reading “Why UW quarterback Cody Pickett doesn’t like talking to the media”

The importance of high school marching bands

By Derek Belt
Mobile Press-Register
Oct. 28, 2006

FOLEY, ALA. — There’s 4:56 left in the second quarter and your team just kept a scoreless game scoreless by turning it over for the third time.

Not into it yet? Strike up the band.

Now there’s just 15 seconds left in a tie game and your team is playing defense deep in its own territory. Stop them here and you’re headed to overtime. Give up a last-second score and it’s all she wrote.

Need an extra boost? Strike up the band.

Whether they’re rocking out to Quiet Riot’s “Bang Your Head” during the halftime show or queuing up the fight song just after a big game, the high school marching band can make a big difference on Friday nights.

Can you imagine what it would be like without the band? They are just as much a part of the Friday night experience as uncomfortable seats, spunky cheerleaders and dill pickles on a stick. Continue reading “The importance of high school marching bands”

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