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where there's smoke: A building under construction next to the Logan Police Station caught fire from a welder's spark. Damage was estimated at $50,000. / Photo by Gideon Oakes

Today's word on journalism

August 27, 2008

On protests at political conventions:

"The citizens of Denver and St. Paul, and Americans everywhere, should hope officials in those cities already have considered both the constitutional and monetary costs of silencing voices that have a right to be heard. . . . Well-expressed or wacky. Irritating or illuminating. Respectful or raucous. There's nothing in the 45 words of the First Amendment that sets out any such qualifications or limits on protests. Time and again in our history, from women's suffrage to civil rights to tax protests, to name just some, voices first raised in the streets -- to the disgust or disappointment of some -- have led to significant, positive changes in law and American life."

--Gene Policinski, executive director, First Amendment Center, 2008

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All-American by default

By MJ Henshaw

May 8, 2008 | Just months after setting foot on the racquetball court for the first time, Celeste Porter found herself at a national tournament being crowned an All-American.

"It's really not that big of a deal," Porter says as her face turns a shade of red. "It's more of a fluke than anything else."

One Saturday afternoon Porter, 22, set out to try something new and play a game of racquetball with a friend. She liked it so much that she went back the next day. Soon she was finding anybody that would be willing to play with her.

"Since the first time I played I just wanted to get better and better. I would make my roommate come with me all the time so we could practice and get better. I'm pretty sure she got sick of it, but she was a good sport," Porter said.

In racquetball you have a cube-shaped room with nothing on the walls. According to USA Racquetball Association, a standard racquetball court measurement is 20 feet wide by 40 feet long and has a ceiling that is 20 feet high. There are two lines painted on the floor that run parallel to each other 3 to 4 feet apart.

The server stands in the middle of the lines and faces the wall opposite the door, or the "back wall." The opponent stands back by the wall with the door to get ready for the serve. When the server hits the ball, it must hit the wall first before it hits the ground. Then the opponent must hit the ball back against the wall before it hits the ground twice. The ball may hit as many walls as possible, but when the ball hits the ground twice, the other player gets a point.

Cameron Copeland, a friend of Porters, said he is one of those lucky people who get to play with her.

"Celeste is amazing at racquetball. I can't believe a girl could be that good," Copeland said. "I have to admit that sometimes it sucks to get beat by a girl, but then I remember who I'm playing; she's an All-American and it's ok to lose to them."

Porter is originally from Farmington, Utah and is a dual major in Human Resources and management information systems. She has a twin brother who is in the Air Force and is currently serving in Iraq for the second time. She said she worries about him, but knows he's doing the right thing.

"I hate that he is gone, but at the same time I know it's necessary," Porter said. "He has lots of good things to say about what is going on over there, so that is encouraging."

Porter said she loves being around her family and says one of her favorite things to do is get into prank wars with her dad.

"I love pulling pranks on people. I wish I did it more," Porter said. "My favorite prank I've ever done is when my dad and I put my neighbor's house up for sale. We took an ad out in the paper and listed it as something really cheap. They were getting phone calls nonstop. It was great."

Another hobby Porter likes to do is take famous pictures, such as a picture of the Beatles, and Photoshop the heads of her friends inside of them. She then posts the pictures on facebook or around their houses.

Amy Dimick, a co-worker with Porter, said she loves working with her because she never knows what she will come up with next.

"One thing I love about Celeste is that you never know what is going on in that brain of hers," Dimick said. "It's always entertaining to see what she'll say next, or what picture she'll create. She's just got a great sense of humor."

Porter admits she does enjoy a good laugh, but not when it comes to the racquetball court. As she got better, Porter said she would spend a lot of time playing. Coincidentally, she would play every day right before the racquetball club would practice. One day she was approached by the team captain.

"I didn't know it, but the captain would get to practice early and would watch me play," Porter said. "When he approached me, he told me that one of the girls on the team twisted her ankle and dropped out. They needed someone else to go the nationals and asked me if I was interested."

Porter said she quickly accepted the invitation and began practicing even harder so she would be ready.

"I only played in one tournament at BYU before I went to nationals so I was really nervous to go," Porter said.

The tournament was held in Kansas City, Missouri. Porter said that 350 athletes were participating. Once at the tournament they divide the athletes into six divisions. The players on each team are ranked one through six. Each player only plays participants in their division.

"I was in division six because I was the last person to join the team," Porter said. "I am pretty sure I was better than the ranking I got because I've beat the number two person on the team. But I understood that I was the last coming in, so I got the last seed."

After five rounds of play, Porter made it to the final game against a girl from BYU. She ended up losing that game, but said she was fine with her second place win.

"It was my first nationals and I hadn't been playing that long so to get that far was an accomplishment," Porter said.

The top two finishers in every division were awarded the honor of All-American, Porter said. She says she didn't win any big prize, but she loves being able to tell people that she is an All-American.

Porter graduated in May and said she won't be playing next year on the team, but racquetball is something she loves.

"The best part about racquetball it that it's a sport that old people like to play because it's about strategy and not strength," Porter said. "That means I can play this game for many years to come."

MS
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Copyright 1997-2008 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-3292
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