Q&A with Master Gunnery Sergeant Lyn Akermon, Naval Science Instructor at New Albany High School

By Aurora Robinson

Bagpiper: Can you describe to me what Basic Leadership Training is?

Lyn Akermon: “Basic Leadership Training in my opinion is character development. We take cadets from different schools around the local area— Louisville, Southern Indiana—and we mix them all together, they are all strangers. They have to be functional as one, as a unit. We make it stressful. It’s a stressful environment, stressful mentally and physically because we do a lot of physical training in it. The mental aspect is we teach classes, we put them in leadership roles. They all have to try a leadership role during the week. They have to learn each other’s weaknesses, each other’s strengths. To be a good leader you have to be a good follower. But some people have more leadership abilities than others. Basic Leadership Training is, to me, character development. It shows the individual what are my weaknesses what are my strengths? Am I better physically than others? It teaches me about teamwork, comradery, it teaches me how to give certain people tasks. You can’t task just anybody on anything until you know their strengths and weaknesses. So you wouldn’t give somebody a job, in other words, that you knew they were weak in that job and they could not accomplish that job or that mission. So it’s not just about you learning about you, it’s learning about others around you and in life you have to play the hand that you’re dealt. So, Basic Leadership Training teaches you strengths, weaknesses, not just yours, but your teammates and it teaches you how to accomplish goals, or the military calls it accomplish a mission together with what you have at hand. That’s what basic leadership training is.”

“We do it using the military style of training. Physical training, lots of marching. We have team events because we are huge on building teams, uniform inspections, and a lot of it, too, we just have fun events because we teach them that there’s time that you have to work and there’s time that you need to relax and enjoy yourself, too. That’s a lot how the military deals with stress. Everyone is human you’ve got to have some down time.”

BP: Why would you push your cadets to do BLT?

LA: “I don’t do this job to put people in the military. I do this job to make them productive citizens, to make them good citizens. Basically, to teach them that all through life there’s going to be leaders, there’s going to be followers, there’s going to be a lot of stress in your life and the sooner you learn to deal with the stresses of life, the better you can handle the tough situations in anything you do. If you go to college, if you go to the military, if you go to the workforce, family, no matter what happens, you can deal with stress in your life and you have got to learn how to accept it and you have got to learn how to overcome it. And that’s the main reason for leadership training.”

BP: Is there anything else you would like to add?

LA: “I think the most it does for them—it’s a confidence builder and it’s extremely good for those cadets who always doubt themselves. It just shows them that they can overcome obstacles in life. That’s the main thing.”

Consider visiting a Louisville City FC game

By J.D. McKay

I have never really been that interested in soccer. I played it when I was little like just most other kids and have watched a little bit of the World Cup but only when the USA is playing. I still cannot say that I really enjoy watching a soccer game. However, Louisville City FC (LouCity) games are very cool and if you have not been to a game, you should.

I cannot say that if you already do not enjoy soccer you will suddenly become a fan, but it would make for an enjoyable group outing. If the game is close, it is fun to watch the fans as Louisville City gets close to scoring. Even I got into watching the game and was just as disappointed as the fans when the game winning goals carried just right of the goal, resulting in a draw.
It is also reasonably priced to watch a game. An evening movie costs about $13, which is about the average price of a LouCity game. Plus, at a Louisville City game, fans can enjoys the beautiful Ohio Valley weather if they pick the right time of year. On June, 8, they are playing a home game, and tickets only cost $10.

This is also the last year that they will be playing at Louisville Slugger Field. Their home stadium makes watching the games an interesting experience. The pitcher’s mound is lower and covered in turf, and turf is laid on the infield. The players sometimes seemed to avoid these patches, but did not seem to have too much of an effect on the game, in my opinion. Since it is their last year at Louisville Slugger, it is neat to see the how the fans make the stadium as seem more like Louisville City’s stadium than the Louisville Bats’ stadium. Soon, they will have a new stadium in  Butchertown, designed by the beloved and since deceased partial owner, Wayne Estopinal.

That brings me to my last point, the fans. LouCity fans are crazy. Most typical fans are pretty into the game for people who are not super fans. However, the super fans are wild. They are out tailgating beside the stadium at 1 p.m., six hours before game time. Fast forward about five and a half hours, and they are preparing for their march into the stadium. Led by a procession of drummers, they march in screaming their chants that are basically impossible to understand unless you have been to way more games than me. During the game, they are just as rowdy.

I have suggested before to go to a LouCity game in my “FIVE THINGS TO WATCH” columns. However, I have not really taken that advice and wish I would have sooner. These games are a very cool part of the exploding life in downtown Louisville and will be for years to come.

Pro baseball is making changes

By J.D. McKay

This summer I began working for the Louisville Bats Ground Crew. It is a pretty sweet job, and I am having a lot of fun, but that is not the point. Baseball is evolving. I am sure that anyone who follows sports has heard something like this: “Baseball fans are dying,” or “baseball is boring and losing popularity.” Baseball has heard them, especially minor leagues, and is making changes.

One change is making uniforms fun and entertaining for fans. The MLB has recently started a players weekend where players are allowed to wear nicknames on the back of their jerseys. Plus, they wear special Mother’s Day, Veterans Day, Father’s Day and Fourth of July hats and uniforms.

The Minor Leagues have not stopped at those holidays to wear special uniforms. On May 4 they often wear Star Wars uniforms to celebrate May the Fourth be with you. One new very cool thing most of the MILB is doing is adding Copa de la Diversion uniforms. They take their team’s typical uniforms, and make it something from Spanish-speaking culture. For example, the Delmarva Shorebirds are becoming the Gallos de Delmarva, meaning the Roosters of Delmarva. The Bats are becoming the Murciélagos de Louisville and wearing them on June 28. Those uniforms will make the game a little more fun, and you will get to see me dragging the field between the fourth and fifth innings. The Bats also introduced the Louisville Mashers last year and the Derby City Mint Juleps this year. Both uniforms have dope hats and jerseys.

The MILB also introduced a pitch timer in 2015. If it took a pitcher more than 20 second to pitch, a ball was called without throwing a pitch. This fixed some things, but it did not always fix the problem. For example, if I am at a game, it will inevitably take four hours, even with the timer. However, just last Tuesday, I was at a game that took one hour and 59 minutes. So the timer can be successful.

The last change is the amount of dingers hit. It is wild. Homers are being hit at an alarming rate over the past two years and into this year. There are several explanations for this. One is that bat angles are changing, accounting for more strikeouts but also more homeruns. Another part is that athletes are getting bigger, faster, and stronger, so that probably accounts for it. The last, partial conspiracy is that baseballs are being made differently. Some people say that baseballs are being made basically to add more pop. That seems unlikely to me, but it is certainly possible. Pro baseball has denied that a lot.

Baseball can certainly do more to be more interesting, it could add a DH to the NL. That is kind of a lame idea that real baseball fans like myself disagree with, but small fans might like that more. They could also play fewer games. That is unlikely, but it could happen if the game was truly collapsing.

All in all, baseball will not ever completely die. It is the first sport many Americans play, so that feeling of their first home run will always stick with them. I am sure that some parts will change over my life, and I am looking forward to seeing what. But right now, baseball is evolving at all levels.

 

Avengers: Endgame takes fans on emotional ride

Story by Eleni Pappas

It is finally here. The end of the road on a long journey spanning over a decade. In the aftermath of Infinity War, the surviving Avengers are left devastated with no hope. Now, the remaining heroes engage in a last-ditch effort to avenge the fallen, entering the final fight for the fate of the universe.

It has been 11 years since the first Iron Man (2008) came out, starting this incredible adventure for Marvel fans all over. Now, finally, Avengers: Endgame has arrived to finish what the cast and creators of Iron Man started all those years ago. Everything until now has been building up to this movie. Released April 25, the theaters flooded with fans, and has the biggest opening weekend ever.

The movie opens up with Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) just before Thanos’ snap, enjoying a day outside with his family. One moment, he is teaching his daughter archery while his wife and sons make hot dogs, and the next everyone but Barton is gone. Turned to dust. At this point, the audience is silent and the mood is somber. Then the scene shifts to Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), aboard a spaceship and stranded in space with only Nebula (Karen Gillan) for company. When they run out of resources and all hope seems lost, the one and only Captain Marvel comes to their rescue. Five years later Stark has moved on from the Avengers and everyone has lost all hope of bringing back the fallen. That is until Ant-Man/Scott Lang miraculously returns from the Quantum Realm with an insanely improbable plan that might just work.

For the audience, Endgame is a rollercoaster of emotions, having way more funny moments than anyone could have predicted. Many assumed the film would be dark and tragic, but it is amazing how seamlessly certain scenes went from laugh-inducing to tear-jerking and vice-versa in a matter of minutes. Every Avenger had their share of hilarious and dramatic moments, but overall the film retained a serious tone fitting for what fans are calling the end of an era. By the end of the movie, no one in the audience left the same as they first entered. There was hardly a dry eye in the theater. While the film still left some unanswered questions and audiences are split on whether the ending left them satisfied, altogether many can agree it was as epic a film as expected.

Directed by the Russo Brothers, Joe and Anthony, Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is finally complete with Endgame. For the audience, endings are always sad, but many look forward to the future of Phase 4. Endgame currently in theaters now.

 

Athletes power through busy schedules

By J.D. McKay

On each Friday night this upcoming fall, I will be taking the field ready to play against whomever the opponent may be. That will probably be the only time many of my readers will ever see me performing. Some may see me on a Tuesday night or Saturday morning in the spring throwing the 1.6 kilogram discus. But the number who see me do that is far lower. However, these two events and daily practice is probably all that they think goes into my sport. That is not true, and I will try to walk through the schedule many athletes, including myself, have to deal with.

School starts ridiculously early, earlier than the typical 9-5 job, at 7:40 a.m. That means that to be on time we need to wake up by at least 7 a.m., probably earlier. Some athletes, like senior thrower Austin Gootee, live in places like Lanesville. These athletes have to wake up earlier to account for the long drive. Some of us also have to get up before school for workouts. Strength coach Donnie Gumble runs a weight lifting team that practices before school, and the swim team often has practices starting at 6 a.m.

After getting to school, we go through almost a seven-hour school day. That includes activities that can wear us out. Some of these activities including tests, presentations, and weight lifting class. If I just finished a very tough school day, going to practice can be a drag.

After a seven-hour school day, I have practice. That can last until nearly 7 p.m. in the beginning of football season. However, typically practices end around 6 p.m. or a little before. This makes players tired after a long school day.

When we finally get home, typically around 6:15 p.m., some things still need to happen. Dinner needs to be eaten to stay at the top of our game. Showers need to be taken, so our mothers do not kill us. Let us just say after all this it is 7 p.m. on a typical night. Then comes homework. It could take four-plus hours for some of the tougher schedules, but in general it is probably closer to two hours. That means after everything for school is done, it is 9 p.m. If you add some extra studying in, that time becomes 9:30.

After this, if I was very responsible, I would brush my teeth and go to bed. But, I am in high school and social media, Netflix, and Clash of Clans are all appealing after going pretty hard for 14 hours. If I account for a very conservative 30 minutes for other entertainment, I am in bed by 10 p.m. Which is pretty good, giving me eight hours of sleep if I am up by 6 the next day. However, if I am feeling particularly irresponsible, or procrastinate a project, it is closer to 10:30 or 11 p.m. Seven hours of sleep may sound like a decent amount, but sleep is one of the most important parts of athletics. It lets those muscles really rest after a long day of workouts, school, and practice.

This is does not improve much on the weekends. Often, Saturday mornings are meet days or early practice days. Sundays are our only days off, and often I and the other athletes who want to be successful go out and find time to practice or workout. Even out of season this schedule is hectic with workouts getting in the way.

Athletes are not the only people at FC to have crazy schedules. Students who take all AP classes or IB classes have a crazy hard schedule that gives a lot of work. We may not even have the hardest schedule as theater puts in crazy hours, including Sundays, to practice. Next time you see any other athlete or me performing, know that it was not just a two-hour practice and seven hour school day that got us to that point. It took a lot of hard work and mental toughness that allowed FC athletes to perform at a high level.