Traditions Night: Junior Naismith steals the show

Posted on Aug 25, 2016 in Alumni News, Campus News, and News

Junior Naismith with Chancellor

A star is born

When Naismith’s original rules of basketball finally made their way back home to Kansas this year, a budding basketball fan dressed as James Naismith was on hand to witness the momentous occasion. We profiled the pint-sized impersonator, dubbed Junior Naismith by adoring fans, back in February here on the KU Alumni Association blog, where he (and his dad, Chris Leiszler, c’01) talked about the experience of being featured on ESPN College GameDay and skyrocketing to internet fame.

Turns out, that was merely prelude to what would come next.

The young lad, 7-year-old Harrison Leiszler, reprised his role in a video skit for Traditions Night to kick off the academic year. Alumni can count on Junior Naismith to capture your hearts, among other things, as he revisits the new home of the original rules in the DeBruce Center to stake his claim to the original rules of basketball. We won’t give anything away, except to say he steals the show.

“An experience our family will never forget”

We spoke with Chris Leiszler about Harrison’s experience shooting the video for Traditions Night.

IMG_news_jrnaismithchancellor.jpg“We had an awful lot of fun watching them shoot the video,” Leiszler told us. “The people in the KU Marketing Department and in the Chancellor’s Office were so kind. You can tell they really enjoy what they do. I was amazed at how much effort they have to put in to produce a 2-minute video, but it turned out perfectly. They even let us go into the Chancellor‘s office so Harrison could sit at her desk!”

After the video appeared on the Memorial Stadium scoreboard, Harrison made his grand entrance to thunderous applause, walking hand-in-hand with Chancellor Gray-Little.

“Of course, these are some of the greatest fans in the world, so they made sure he felt the love,” Leiszler said.

The experience must have been surreal–he received an ovation that might have made Bill Self jealous–but Harrison took it all in stride. He rarely broke character, except to answer a few questions, including the quintessential “What do you want to be when you grow up?” His answer? A dentist like his dad, or maybe … KU Chancellor. The crowd went nuts.

“Despite what a lot of people might expect, Harrison is actually a pretty shy and humble kid,” Leiszler said. “So, for him to speak into a microphone in front of a few thousand people at the age of 7, it was a big, big deal. When he was all done and joined us back in the bleachers, he whispered to me from behind his little mustache, ‘I can’t believe I just did that.’”

Hats off to Harrison, who obviously comes from a true blue Jayhawk family.

“We were really proud of the little guy,” Leiszler said. “Being a part of KU Traditions Night was an experience our family will never forget.”

The official Traditions Night video will be posted on KU’s YouTube channel. Until then, check out this video and behind-the-scenes photos contributed by the Leiszler family.

–David Johnston

 
Junior Naismith walks in Strong Hall with the Chancellor
 
Junior Naismith in the Chancellor's office
 
Junior Naismith and Naismith
KU Traditions Night is a production of the University of Kansas: ©2016, KU Marketing Communications.

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KU traditions go digital with new app

Posted on Aug 23, 2016 in Alumni News, Campus News, and News

KU Traditions App

Student involvement? There’s an app for that.

The KU Alumni Association released a new mobile app this week just for KU students. The app, highlighting KU traditions, is the Association’s second app, joining one dedicated to alumni that launched in May.

The KU Student Alumni Association Traditions app allows KU students to earn points for participating in KU traditions and getting involved in campus activities while at KU. Research shows that students who are engaged on campus are more successful and more likely to graduate on time. KU-traditions-out-screenEngaged students are also more likely to stay connected to their alma mater after they graduate. The KU Traditions app was designed by the KU Alumni Association to foster engagement and campus involvement among KU students.

Built by MobileUp, the app was a collaborative effort created with input from students, alumni and multiple campus offices, including KU Endowment, the Office of First Year Experience, Student Affairs, the Student Involvement and Leadership Center, Student Senate and KU Athletics. More than 50 activities listed in the app encourage KU students to master the following KU traditions:

• Wave the wheat
• Sway to the Alma Mater
• Master the fight song clap
• Fill the stadium
• Join a club
• Meet your professor
• Read the UDK on Wescoe Beach
• Hug a mascot
• Have a Wang burger at the Wheel
• Visit the KU Career Center
• Find a mentor
• Explain Rock Chalk to a non-Jayhawk
• Plus 44 more traditions

Students can complete KU traditions–by taking a photo or entering text–and join the Student Alumni Association (SAA) through the app.

The Association also announced earlier this summer that all fall 2016 freshmen would receive a four-year gift membership in SAA. The gift membership, provided in partnership with KU Endowment, is redeemable through the app and online. The initiative removes financial barriers that might have prevented some students from joining SAA, one of the largest student organizations on campus.

The change also supports university goals to increase retention and graduation rates by encouraging student involvement. The KU Traditions app, along with the gift membership, help position SAA among the strongest student alumni associations in the country.

Learn more about KU Alumni Association mobile apps.

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Jayhawks in Rio: Closing Ceremony

Posted on Aug 21, 2016 in Alumni News, Campus News, and News

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Farewell from Rio

We’ve relished the 2016 Olympic Games watching so many talented Jayhawks represent their countries–and their alma mater–in Rio de Janeiro. One Jayhawk, Kyle Clemons, even contributed to Team USA’s historic medal haul in Rio, earning a gold medal for his role running a preliminary heat of the 4 x 400 meter relay.

KU alumni were proud of all of our #JayhawksinRio, sharing social posts throughout the games. Even the athletes got into the act, using the hashtag to chronicle their own Olympic experience and share some of the fun with KU alumni.

Special thanks to Tim Weaver, g’97, who sent us behind-the-scenes stories and photos while working for Team USA track and field as a team manager. He sent the following farewell from Rio, pictured prior to the closing ceremony with Jayhawk and Olympic triple-jumper Andrea Geubelle.

We’ll see you in four years in Tokyo, where KU and Olympic legend Billy Mills made his incredible come-from-behind victory in the 10,000 meters in 1964. Based on what we saw in Rio, alumni can expect more historic feats to connect the Jayhawk nation and make all alumni proud.

Rock Chalk to our #JayhawksinRio!

–David Johnston

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Jayhawks in Rio: Kyle Clemons

Posted on Aug 21, 2016 in Alumni News, Campus News, and News

Jayhawk wins gold

Jayhawk Kyle Clemons became the ninth KU track and field Olympic gold medalist on Friday night at the 2016 Olympic Games at Rio. The former KU quarter-miler helped Team USA qualify to the final by running the third leg of the 4 x 400 meter relay in the semifinal, clocking an impressive 44.96. The United States went on to dominate in the final, earning Clemons a gold medal in the same way Diamond Dixon earned gold four years ago in London. With the victory, Kyle Clemons becomes KU’s first male Gold medalist since Al Oerter won his fourth career Olympic gold in 1968 in the discus. Relive the excitement of Clemons Olympic experience in Rio below. Congratulations, Kyle! The Jayhawk nation is proud of you and all of our #JayhawksinRio!

Squaaaaaad 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🏇🏾🏇🏾🏇🏾#openingceremony2016

A post shared by Kyle Clemons (@k_clemons400) on

The time is near… #rio2016

A post shared by Kyle Clemons (@k_clemons400) on

There’s nothing more exhilarating than competing for your country on the world’s biggest stage. I truly appreciate all the love and support from everyone. I’m filled with gratitude to have my dream manifested into reality. #rio2016 #allglorytoGod

A post shared by Kyle Clemons (@k_clemons400) on

Chegamos perto do ouro … Medalha do simpático Kyle Clemons , medalista do revesamento 400 m, ontem tivemos o prazer em assistir à final . Agora conhecemos o atleta na USA HOUSE – IPANEMA . 🏃🏆🏃🏆🏃 #gold #olympics2016 #olympics #usahouse #usa #brasil #brazil #olimpiadas #olimpiadas2016 #rio #rio2016 #medalhadeouro #goldenmedal #boomspdesign

A post shared by Beto Cocenza (@boomspdesign) on

–David Johnston

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Jayhawks in Rio: A Jayhawk saves the day

Posted on Aug 19, 2016 in Alumni News, Campus News, and News

IMG_news_TimWeaverUS
 

Wait, haven’t I seen this before?

Nobody likes to watch a rerun, especially sports fans. But at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, we watched a rare rerun of the women’s 4 x 100 meter relay, and it was a first (in more ways than one) thanks to the fast efforts of a Jayhawk. Let’s rewind.

On Thursday night during their preliminary heat of the women’s 4 x 100, the U.S. team was bumped during the second exchange. The Brazilian team inadvertently made contact with American Allyson Felix, running second leg, while attempting to hand off the baton. Trying to recover, Felix awkwardly tossed the baton, which dropped to the track. Dazed and confused, unsure what to do next, Felix suddenly remembered what Tim Weaver, g’97, told her. She recounted to ESPN what happened next.

“At our technical meeting, Tim Weaver really emphasized that if something happens, you have to pick up the baton and finish in order to protest,” Felix recalled. So she did, turning around with sudden urgency to retrieve the baton and hand it off. Once convinced that all was not lost, English Gardner took off after the field that had left the U.S. team far behind. Once finished, the protest was filed.

As we shared on this blog previously, Weaver is working in Rio as a team manager with USA Track and Field, helping advocate for American athletes throughout the process of filing protests. As the former meet director for the Kansas Relays, Weaver has seen it all and understands the idiosyncrasies of international track and field. Once the team had finished and was officially disqualified, Weaver immediately flew into action.

Simply advancing the American team for getting bumped wasn’t possible because the final was based on the top times. And there could only be 8 teams in the final because the track only had 8 lanes around it. Since eight other teams had already established the fastest legal times, a run-off was required, and that left only one option.

A rerun for Team USA, against a single, unforgiving opponent: The clock.

If they could finish among the top 8 times, they’d earn a spot in the final. So, in a never-before-seen relay with one team on the track, running in the exact same lane, and in the exact same order, the four U.S. women ran their relay, turning in the fastest time among all qualifiers, earning them a spot in tonight’s final. The rerun, at least according to USATF, was unprecedented in Olympic history.

After qualifying, Felix gave credit to the Jayhawk who helped save the day by getting the team one more shot, which was all they needed.

“After the race, I was texting (Weaver) saying thank you. I was so grateful.”

Sometimes it helps to have a Jayhawk in your corner.

–David Johnston

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Jayhawks in Rio: Tim Weaver

Posted on Aug 15, 2016 in Alumni News, Campus News, and News

Weaver in Rio

Roaming Rio

Tim Weaver, g’97, is in Rio with Team USA, working as a team manager for the United States track and field delegation. And since track and field athletes had to wait an entire week to start their competition, Weaver had time to roam Rio and take some great shots of the unique sights and attractions in and around the Olympic Village. Weaver has shared his Olympic experience with KU alumni before, during the 2016 Rio Olympics and the 2012 London Olympics. Check out his images and view a slide show below, or go to Flickr.com/photos/kualumni.

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–David Johnston

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Jayhawks in Rio: More than a number

Posted on Aug 12, 2016 in Alumni News, Campus News, and News

Several Jayhawks will be competing, working and volunteering during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro for Team USA and their respective countries. Many have agreed to share their experience with KU alumni. Throughout the games, we’ll be sharing their photos and stories on our blog and social media accounts, so be sure to follow us during the games as we cheer on our #JayhawksinRio.

 

More than a number: Andrea Geubelle

For each Olympian, there is a story. For each Jayhawk, a journey.

Andrea Geubelle’s journey exceeded her dreams when she earned a scholarship to the University of Kansas and went on become a ten-time All-American and three-time NCAA champion. However, not all that glitters is gold, as she recalls in this video from KU Athletics, chronicling her time as a Jayhawk. For Geubelle, the road to Rio was paved with adversity and heartache.

Four years ago, and only a few months before the London Olympic Games, Geubelle was on cloud nine having just won the triple jump at the NCAA outdoor championship, before victory was snatched away.

“I just broke down,” Geubelle remembers. “I don’t think I’ve ever hurt so bad over athletics, to go from the highest you could possibly be in college athletics, which is winning a national championship, to finding out that it’s gone, and you’ll never get than opportunity back.”

Geubelle not only bounced back, she committed herself and jumped in with both feet—ultimately landing a spot in Rio. Watch her story here, then tune in Saturday at 7:30am CT at NCBOlympics.com to watch her compete in the qualifying rounds of the triple jump in Rio.

“More than a Number” was produced by Second Wind Creative for KU Athletics, with additional footage provided by Rock Chalk Video, ESPN and Jeff Jacobson.

–David Johnston

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Jayhawks in Rio: Mason Finley

Posted on Aug 11, 2016 in Alumni News, Campus News, and News

Click to watch on YouTube

Throwing some weight around

Mason Finley leads a strong group of Team USA discus throwers in Rio. The former KU track and field student-athlete won the event at the Olympic Trials and looks to be a medal contender if he can qualify through to the finals on Saturday. Although the event has historically been dominated by the United States, thanks in large part to legendary Jayhawk Al Oerter, who won four consecutive Olympic titles, no American has won a medal in more than 30 years. Finley will need to bring his A game, but now that he’s in the best shape of his life, anything’s possible.

That wasn’t always the case, as he packed on pounds as a Jayhawk undergraduate. Believing that bigger was better, Finley took advantage of endless training table meals and put on nearly 100 pounds during his three years at Kansas before transferring to Wyoming. It took a toll on his speed, technique and health. He talked about going beyond the typical “freshman 15” in a recent interview with the Washington Post.

“I’m an eater, man,” he said. “There’s no way around it. I like to eat food.”

Jayhawks Tim Weaver, Mason FInley and Andrea GeubelleSince getting a handle on his nutrition, the results have come quickly and he’s seen steady improvement.

“My technique is far better,” Finley told the Post. “I’m healthy—which was really rare in college—and I’m faster, probably same speed as high school.”

Finley moved back to Lawrence to train with KU throwing coach Andy Kokhanovsky. The move also brought him closer to his family. He told the Denver Post, “I wanted to be closer with my mom and family back there. I figured out that family is a really huge support staff. You definitely need it.”

The support—and the coaching—helped propel Finley to the top of his game and the top of his sport.

“I’m able to hold positions faster, move faster and compete healthier,” Finley says.

By the time he made it to the Olympic Trials, Finley was hardly a dark horse. The former 8-time collegiate All-American and high school record holder knew he could compete at the highest level, but after overcoming challenges with his health, speed and technique along the way, last month’s victory was that much sweeter.

“The very last throw, I knew I had won, so it was crazy. But I was thinking I could still throw further,” Finley told the Post. “I wanted 65 (meters) again. … It was a mixture between, ‘I still want to push it further’ but ‘Oh my gosh, I’m an Olympian.’”

A proud Jayhawk and first-time Olympian, Finley joins other Jayhawks in Rio, including Team USA track and field manager Tim Weaver and triple jumper Andrea Geubelle, pictured above. He will enter the discus ring Friday morning for first round qualifying. Check NBCOlympics.com for schedules.

–David Johnston

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Jayhawks in Rio: Michael Cain

Posted on Aug 11, 2016 in Alumni News, Campus News, and News

 
Michael Cain has put his two degrees from KU to use helping Team USA get to Rio.

Cain, j’98, l’01, was a KU track and field student-athlete as an undergraduate but realized his speed might not be enough to take him to the Olympics. After arming himself with a degree from the KU School of Law, he set his sights on a volunteer opportunity at the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games in 2002. Soon after, opportunity knocked with USA Track & Field, which took him to back to the Olympic Games at Athens in 2004. Working as part of the Team USA Track and Field delegation, he had the opportunity to march in the Opening Ceremonies, bumping into Team USA basketball coach and fellow Jayhawk, Larry Brown. He shared the memorable exchange with KU Law Magazine in this 2012 profile.

After his stint with USA Track & Field, Cain joined the Walt Disney Company, managing sports events at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. He also was able to put his broadcast journalism skills to work for ESPN3 and others, providing lead commentary, sideline reporting and emceeing for a variety of sports events, including the Pop Warner Super Bowl, spring training baseball, MLS soccer and multiple track and field events. He often returned to Lawrence to volunteer at the Kansas Relays, broadcasting interviews with Olympians competing at the Relays.

Today, Cain is director of business development for the Olympic Training Centers. Based in Colorado Springs at the US Olympic Committee headquarters, Cain still manages to employ his broadcast background, hosting a web series that takes viewers inside the OTC. Admittedly, the gig isn’t always fun and games. Cain frequently takes a beating for his craft at the hands of Olympians like Team USA super heavyweight boxer Marlo Moore, taekwondo champion Steven Lopez and Paralympic Judo bronze medalist Dartanyan Crockett (episodes below, plus more at youtube.com/teamusa). Look for Mike broadcasting online during the Olympics, and join us in celebrating our #JayhawksinRio!

–David Johnston

 

 

 

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Jayhawks in Rio: Great day to be Jose

Posted on Aug 5, 2016 in Alumni News, Campus News, and News

Several Jayhawks will be competing, working and volunteering during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro for Team USA and their respective countries. Many have agreed to share their experience with KU alumni. Throughout the games, we’ll be sharing their photos and stories on our blog and social media accounts, so be sure to follow us during the games as we cheer on our #JayhawksinRio.

Jose Munoz, d’14, g’16, earned a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to volunteer with Team USA at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. The former KU track and field runner has remained close to the sport, and in 2015 he was selected to participate in the U.S. Olympic Committee’s FLAME program, which stands for “Finding Leaders Among Minorities Everywhere.”

The experience at the Olympic Training Center inspired his desire to stay involved in the Olympic movement, and after raising the necessary funds to make the trip to Rio, he’s making the most of his experience. As these contributed photos posts can attest, it’s a great day to be Jose!
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–David Johnston

More coverage:
From Rio Rico to Rio de Janeiro

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