Archive for the ‘Top Story’ Category

HutchCC student inspires many: After battling addiction since grade school, Jeff Brandon is loving father, successful student and shining example of how perseverance can change one’s life for the better

Friday, February 16th, 2018

By Merissa Anderson
Collegian Editor

At a small family farm just north of Hutchinson, a man – who as praised by the voice of the Kansas City Chiefs Mitch Holthus, “serves as an inspiration to everyone around him.” – lives with his young daughter

Jeff Brandon is a 43 year-old, first-year college student at Hutchinson Community College. He is single-handedly raising his 8-year-old daughter, KeilyJo.

“Life is good,” Brandon said. “I feel proud of myself.”

However, Brandon’s life hadn’t always been as picturesque as he finds it to be now. For more than 25 years, Brandon battled an addiction than began as a child.

“I’ve been through tons of crazy stuff,” Brandon said. “I don’t have a lot of memories of my childhood, but when I was young in grade school, I do remember that I was different. At an early age, I started drinking, and I, for the first time, I had friends that I never had all my life. For the first few years, it was good, but at some point it took control, and you never know when that point is going to be.”

Eventually, his alcohol addiction turned into a drug habit at the age of 19, and Brandon dropped out of high school.

“At that point, it was all over,” Brandon said.

Despite the darkness that Brandon faced during this period of his life, he made a decision after his daughter’s birth that would forever change his life, and the lives of those around him.

“I got sober when I was 36,” Brandon said. “Five months after my daughter was born – Sept. 26, 2010 is my clean day.”

Recovery is often a long, complicated road full of relapses for many recovering addicts, but for Brandon, his daughter made it the easiest thing in the world.

“I spent five months using after she was born, but then her mom left and took her away, and that was the most devastating pain I ever felt in my life,” Brandon said. “I haven’t struggled with staying clean. I lost all desire to use the day I stopped.”

Soon after, Brandon gained custody of his daughter, and his life has been a restoration process ever since.

“Looking back on all the years I lost, it just isn’t worth it,” Brandon said. “I have more fun now sober than I ever did, because when you’re under the influence, you’re consumed. You make irrational decisions, you don’t think straight and it’s just utter chaos and it gets to a point where you enjoy the chaos.”

After making the decision to earn his GED last winter, Brandon made the decision to major in psychology at HutchCC.

“I decided to change my life,” Brandon said. “I’ve been totally overwhelmed with the support from faculty and students. It’s been a great experience, and when I was applying for scholarships, I was getting letters from people and the words I received from others just made me bawl.”

Brandon has made many good relationships with peers and supervisors since he began at HutchCC last semester.

“I’m amazed with everything the school offers,” Brandon said. “You’re set up to succeed here, and if you apply yourself, there’s no reason to fail. I’m 43, a single parent, I work two jobs, and I still maintain decent grades.”

Brandon looks forward to attending HutchCC next year, and perhaps moving on to Wichita State after graduation. Most importantly though, Brandon wants to a good influence for his daughter.

“Despite everything (KeilyJo) has been through, she’s happy and I just try to be a positive role model in everything I do,” Brandon said. “I want her to be proud and I want her to see that anything is possible.”

After hearing from others that he inspires them, and after being used as an example of progress during Holthus’ speech, Brandon is beginning to realize the influence he can have on others.

“I’m just another person here in my mind,” Brandon said. “I’m no different and no better than anybody else, but to hear that I’m more than just a student makes me feel proud and gives me that sense of accomplishment.

“If I can go through life touching on person and changing one person’s life, it’ll have been worth it.

No matter what, don’t give up. Life isn’t always easy but like an old-timer once told me, you have to make the best of what you got and keep pushing forward and never give up.”

New season, new role for Blue Dragon sophomore

Friday, February 16th, 2018

By Lucas Barlow
Sports Editor

As the postseason nears for the Hutchinson Community College men’s basketball team, veteran players will have to step up as leaders to help get the Blue Dragons in top form for the regional and, maybe, the national tournament in March.

One of those players is sophomore guard Tiylar Cotton.

Cotton was a member of last year’s team that went 35-2 en route to the NJCAA national championship. One year later, he hopes to return to the championship game as a much more experienced and well-rounded player.

Born and raised in Wichita, Cotton attended Wichita North High School, where he was a 2016 graduate. He is one of the two current players on the Blue Dragon roster who hail from Kansas.

Cotton decided to play at HutchCC because he felt they had a great coaching staff, and indeed they do. Since head coach Steve Eck’s arrival in 2009, the Blue Dragons had amassed a 231-46 record prior to this season.

Cotton played in almost every game his freshman year, only absent in five games. He  averaged 9.2 minutes per game, as he had to play behind Hutchinson all-time great guard Samajae Haynes-Jones, who now plays at Wichita State.

Throughout the year, Cotton posted solid totals for the amount of time he played. After his team won the national championship in 2017, Cotton listed it as one of his greatest accomplishments.

“Winning a national championship was an unreal feeling,” Cotton said. “We had been working all year for that, and when the time came, it seemed like a dream.”

This season is a bit different for Cotton. He now has doubled his minutes per game, and his role for the team has changed. The game against Pratt on Jan. 24 was his best game yet – he posted a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds, while also getting six assists.

With only four games left in the regular season, Cotton looks to stay focused

“My goals for the rest of the season are to just focus on winning the rest of our conference games,” Cotton said. “After that, then we can worry about regionals and nationals.”

The Blue Dragons are currently 21-4 (17-4 conf.) and ranked No. 14th in the country. They will next play Saturday at the Sports Arena against Cowley. It will also be the college’s annual Pink Out Night.

Athlete of the week

Friday, February 9th, 2018

Kayla Barber, women’s basketball

The week: Barber had a career night in a mid-week win against Neosho County. In that 91-50 win, Barber had a game-high 20 points. She added six rebounds, three steals, one assist and one blocked shot.

The season: Barber, a sophomore from DeSoto, Texas, has been a reliable presence for the young Blue Dragons. She’s averaging 6.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game for the Blue Dragons.

Blue Dragon men beat Garden City, women ice cold in rare home loss

Friday, February 9th, 2018

By The Collegian staff

The Hutchinson Community College men’s basketball team kept pace with first-place Barton Community College, as the Blue Dragons beat Garden City Community College 92-82 on Wednesday at the Sports Arena.

Sophomore J.J. Rhymes scored 21 points, leading the Blue Dragons, who remain one game behind Barton and tied with Coffeyville for second place.

Three Blue Dragons had 19 points each, including Devonte Bandoo, Curtis Hollis and James Rojas.

The win wrapped up Hutchinson’s 52nd 20-win season, as the Blue Dragons now are 20-4 overall and 16-4 in conference play.

The Blue Dragons will have another home game on Saturday, as they welcome rivals Butler to the Sports Arena.

Women ice cold in loss – The Hutchinson Community College women’s basketball team dug an early hole and never climbed out of it Wednesday, as the Blue Dragons suffered a 56-48 loss to Garden City Community College.

It was only the fifth time Garden City ever beat the Blue Dragons at the Sports Arena, and it was Garden City’s first win there since 2004.

Hutchinson scored just two first-quarter points and was behind 11-2. The Blue Dragons missed 12 of 13 shots in the first quarter.

Dejanae Roebuck led Hutch with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

The loss dropped Hutchinson to 20-4 overall and 16-4 in the Jayhawk Conference. That puts the Blue Dragons in a three-way tie for second place with Cowley and Independence, and two games behind Seward County with six games remaining.

Janic will return to defend title

Friday, February 9th, 2018

By Lucas Barlow
Sports Editor

For their third indoor meet of the season, the Hutchinson Community College track team traveled to Crete, Nebraska this past weekend.

Defending national champion, Adriana Janic, qualified for nationals, where she will be able to defend her title in the 60-meter hurdles. With a time of 9.06 seconds, she is the eighth fastest in the country at the moment, and is the fourth HutchCC athlete to qualify for nationals this season.
Sophomore Maggie Lambert finished third in the one-mile run with a time 5:41.6 and close behind her was Aileen Gomez who finished fifth with a time of 5:45.09. Freshman 1,000-meter runner, Sarah Patterson, set a personal record of 3:15.34 which is sixth in Blue Dragon history. Freshman Tatyana Hopkins placed third overall in the 60 with a time of 7.96. Caitlin Schlickau (2:35.01) and Hannah Schultz (2:37.36), a pair of freshman, also placed top five in the 800.

The men’s side was highlighted by freshman Richard Newman, who tied the school record in the high jump. He jumped 7 feet, one-half inch, en route to a victory in the event. Newman joins Tom Floyd, who jumped the same height in 1994, as the record’s co-owners. He is also the second-ranked high jumper in the country.

Freshman, Myles Hansen cleared 14-7 1/4 to place seventh in pole vault, and qualified as well  for nationals with that jump. Sophomore sprinter, Kadrin Williams also earned a ticket to nationals with a 22.37 in the 200. The 60 and 200 were dominated by the Blue Dragons as they placed in the top three spots in both events. The final of event of the night was won by the HutchCC 1,600 relay team consisting of Fred Gonsalvies, Donovan Whitmore, Denilson Whitmore and Elijah Smith. They will get to compete in nationals with their qualifying time of 3:21.66. The men’s team is currently ranked no. 15 in the nation.

This weekend’s meet will be in two different locations. Half of the team will travel to Pittsburg for the Gorilla Relays and the other half will go back to Highland to compete in the Highland Invitational.

Our view: Valentine’s Day or Hallmark holiday?

Friday, February 9th, 2018

Valentine’s Day – The day for couples to express/share their love in public and celebrate how long they have been together. It makes some people feel happy or blissful, while it makes others feel like they are alone or just supposed to go out to show people that they are doing something.

Surprisingly, Valentine’s Day wasn’t always about showing everyone up with the fanciest gifts and most expensive chocolates.

The whole tradition is a bit of a mystery, but started out with a priest named Valentine who died a martyr for love. The Catholic church recognized him as a saint, hence the original title of the holiday, St. Valentine’s Day.

There are several theories about what really happened to him. Some believe he saved a lot of Christians from being tortured and killed and fell in love with the daughter of a jailer. The daughter, apparently, visited him while he was imprisoned, so he sent letters to her signing with, “From your Valentine”, which is a traditional phrase that we still use today.

Others, according to History.com, think Valentine was a priest who tried to overrule the king, who forced laws that men had to wait until they were a certain age to get married. Valentine thought that men should be allowed to marry young if they wanted to, so he helped marry young lovers against the law and was put to death because he disobeyed the king.

So from those perspectives, Valentine’s Day seems like a reasonable day to celebrate marriage and admiring a loved one, but why must people spend a fortune to prove their love to someone?

Hallmark makes a lot of money on Valentine’s Day because they are good at campaigning to all audiences, and can market their products through relationships. Couples are then influenced to buy their significant other a gift of some sort whether that be chocolate, flowers, or jewelry.

The Unfortunate Events of Brenna: My winter college experience.

Friday, February 9th, 2018

By Brenna Eller
Opinion Page Editor

The first week back from winter break, I was alone again, except I didn’t have as many stuff as I did the first week of college. I also didn’t get lost this time.

However, I did forget my keys a few times already. Luckily, my roommate leaves the door unlocked some mornings. I’m sure you want to know the unfortunate events that happened thus far.

Well, on Jan. 15, a week after school started, my best friend asked me if I could give her a ride to her house off campus. I got in my car, not waiting for it to heat up or anything. Who would do a silly thing like that?

Anyways, I should first explain that my 2001 Montero Sport Mitsubishi doesn’t have four-wheel drive. So you can imagine how it handles ice. Hint – not well.

My car was making these horrible cringe-worthy sounds and for some reason I didn’t turn earlier and had to go around on Plum Street. It wasn’t salted yet, and I had to turn onto it from 16th Avenue. As I was making a left-hand turn, I started to slide on the unsalted pavement.

To say I was startled is an understatement. I think I saw my life flash before my eyes because I swerved out of control and then somehow, by the grace of God, swerved back into control.

The bad thing was that there was a line of cars and all of those people saw what I did. I made the stupid decision to look at one guy who saw me and his mouth was hanging open like a cartoon character. I just waved as a sign that I was OK and took a deep breath.

Once I finally made it over to the Parker’s Student Union Parking Lot, I parked in the worst parking spot I could find, even though it was the nearest to the front door, and caught my breath.

When my friend got in my car, I told her everything and she laughed of course. Then, as I was trying to back out of the parking spot, I noticed that my tires were spinning and wouldn’t reverse.

So I tried gaining momentum by going forward a little bit and then back. After burning rubber a few times, I not-so-subtly backed out and drove to Rachel’s house.

The rest of the week, I made sure to turn extremely slow.

Another event I experienced was getting locked out of my family car. Here we go. So, two weekends ago, I went to a wedding of a family friend, and it was all very beautiful. My mom and sister came to pick me up because I didn’t have my car that week.

Before the wedding started, my family was fashionably late, as always, but somehow we pulled it off to where people didn’t really notice us. We got there right before the wedding party walked down the aisle. Yeah, we got there that close.

After the wedding, we went to Kohl’s because mom wanted to go shop before the reception.

We ended up getting a whole bunch of stuff, and once we left, there was still time to get to the wedding reception, but since we have bad luck with keys, mom forgot that she had left her keys in the car.

So, we had to call my dad, who wasn’t very pleased, to have to drive 45 miles to bring the spare key.

We waited inside the breezeway of Kohl’s and it freezing outside, of course. When my dad came finally, we ended up not going to the reception, because it was awkwardly late and we didn’t want to have to explain everything that happened.

On the bright side, my sister went home with my dad while my mom and I went to Olive Garden to catch up and just spend time together.

We ended up having a pretty great time despite missing a wedding reception and feeling awful about not telling the happy couple congratulations.

Keep the flu from infecting our campus

Friday, February 9th, 2018

By Amanda Carney
Staff writer

The flu is back and it’s worse than ever.

The 2018 flu season is one of the worst ever seen, especially in Kansas. More than 32 states have experienced high flu activity, some cases ending in death.

Many of the cases ending in death are seen in people over the age of 65. However, everyone should still remain cautious, even though there has not been a major flu epidemic at Hutchinson Community College – yet.

There are many ways to prevent yourself from getting the flu.

1)         If you have not received the flu shot, it is recommended you get one. Many doctors’ offices, including The Hutchinson Clinic and The Little Clinic at the Dillon’s Marketplace on 30th Avenue, have walk-in care.

2)         Wash your hands frequently while singing the ABC’s two or three times.

3)         Cover your cough. (Everyone around will appreciate it.)

4)         Wipe down door knobs or any other surface areas that people touch regularly.

5)         If you feel sick stay home. Even HutchCC president Carter File sent out an email suggesting any faculty member who was sick with the flu should stay home until well.

Flu symptoms consists of cough, sore throat, stuffy or runny nose muscle aches and fever.

If you feel like you are catching the flu, see a doctor. If you catch the flu within the first 48 hours, you may shorten how long you have the flu. Also, catching the flu within the first 48 hours can prevent how severe your flu gets.

Remember, the flu germs can live up to an additional 24 hours. Before returning to work, school or any normal activities make sure you have been on antibiotics for at least 24 hours.

Campus couples share love stories

Friday, February 9th, 2018

Laurelle Augustine and Matt LaMunyon

By Brenna Eller
Opinion Page Editor

Matt LaMunyon and Laurelle Augustine are both students at Hutchinson Community College Laurelle is a sophomore, while Matt is a freshman. Laurelle is a Blue Dragon cheerleader, while Matt dabbles in Student Government.

Both are Hutchinson natives and attended Hutchinson High School.

Q: When and where did you meet?

A: In Spanish class at their high school Laurelle’s sophomore year and Matt’s freshmen year. At first they were best friends, but later grew into a relationship.

Q: How long have you been dating?

A: Four years this March

Q: What is your favorite place to go together?

A: Their first date was at Chili’s, so they like to think of it as “their place”.

Q: Is there a certain thing you do every year for Valentine’s Day?

A: They go out to eat at Applebee’s or they just spend time with each other. “We don’t really do anything big,” LaMunyon said.

Q: What is your favorite thing about each other?

A: Laurelle’s favorite thing about Matt is his humor. “He’s a funny dude,” she said. Matt answered, “Her laugh is my favorite.”

Q: What is the secret to being in a relationship for a long time?

A: They agreed that the key is to just have fun all the time and be with someone you enjoy hanging out with. They were best friends before they became a couple and Laurelle said, “Make sure the other person has a good personality.”

Rayne Penny and Jamison Stout

By Amanda Carney
Staff writer

For most people, high school is place to grow, meet new people and join new clubs. For Rayne Penny and Jamison Stout, they found each other. Rayne and Jamison have been dating for almost four years.

The couple dated all through high school and into their first year of college. Although marriage is not out of the question, Rayne and Jamison fell no need to rush into anything. Rayne said, “We want to get through our first couple of years of college.”

Here’s more about these two Hutchinson Community College students, both of whom hail from McPherson.

AC: How did you guys meet?

RP: We meet through our advisory class freshman year in high school. Jamison asked for my Snapchat and we started talking.

AC: Are there any secrets on making a relationship last?

RP/JS: You always have to be willing to compromise with each other, it’s not always about what you want. You also have to trust the other person and you have to be able to stick together through the hard times.

AC: What does he do that drives Rayne crazy?

RP: He forgets to tell me things, so I remind to write stuff down or just text me.

AC: What does she do that drive Jamison crazy?

JS: She talks quiet and is soft spoken so I say WHAT I CAN’T HEAR YOU.

AC: What do you guys like to do together?

RP/JS: We like play with our dog, Ava, who is a Miniature American Eskimo. We also like to go on road trips and try new restaurants together!

AC: How long have you guys been dating?

RP/JS: We started dating our freshman year of high school on valentine’s day, so about four years.

AC: Do you do anything special for valentine’s day?

RP/JS: Since Valentine’s Day is the day we started dating we try and do something special. We like to spend the day together or we try and do a weekend trip.

Duane and Carolyn Schmidt

By Merissa Anderson
Collegian Editor

For most people, high school is place to grow, meet new people and join new clubs. For Rayne Penny and Jamison Stout, they found each other. Rayne and Jamison have been dating for almost four years.

The couple dated all through high school and into their first year of college. Although marriage is not out of the question, Rayne and Jamison fell no need to rush into anything. Rayne said, “We want to get through our first couple of years of college.”

Here’s more about these two Hutchinson Community College students, both of whom hail from McPherson.

AC: How did you guys meet?

RP: We meet through our advisory class freshman year in high school. Jamison asked for my Snapchat and we started talking.

AC: Are there any secrets on making a relationship last?

RP/JS: You always have to be willing to compromise with each other, it’s not always about what you want. You also have to trust the other person and you have to be able to stick together through the hard times.

AC: What does he do that drives Rayne crazy?

RP: He forgets to tell me things, so I remind to write stuff down or just text me.

AC: What does she do that drive Jamison crazy?

JS: She talks quiet and is soft spoken so I say WHAT I CAN’T HEAR YOU.

AC: What do you guys like to do together?

RP/JS: We like play with our dog, Ava, who is a Miniature American Eskimo. We also like to go on road trips and try new restaurants together!

AC: How long have you guys been dating?

RP/JS: We started dating our freshman year of high school on valentine’s day, so about four years.

AC: Do you do anything special for valentine’s day?

RP/JS: Since Valentine’s Day is the day we started dating we try and do something special. We like to spend the day together or we try and do a weekend trip.

Holthus lecture was a touchdown

Friday, February 9th, 2018

By Brenna Eller
Opinion Page Editor

Mitch Holthus, the man who paints a picture with his words as “The Voice of the Kansas City Chiefs”, spoke at the first Dillon Lecture Series of the Hutchinson Community College 2018 spring semester on Tuesday at the Sports Arena.

In his speech, “Success in Being Different”, he used several examples of being different in a giving manner.

Mitch Holthus is a Smith Center native and still gives on-air and Twitter shoutouts every now and then to the Redmen. He and his wife, Tami, who is from McPherson, both graduated from Kansas State. She played basketball and later became the assistant coach for their daughter’s basketball team at Silver Lake, which won a state championship in the Sports Arena.

Along with announcing Chiefs and ESPN games, Mitch Holthus also does some things to help others. When Joplin, Missouri was devastated by a tornado, he helped provide water for the community. He also helps people within his job.

A blind man, Cameron Black, one of many affected by Mitch Holthus and his ability to speak a portrait, learned to love football because of Holthus. As shown in a video from The Kansas City Star, Holthus has made a huge impact in the man’s life because Black’s daughter, who has the same disease, also listens to the Chiefs’ games.

After seeing the video for the first time, Holthus said, “It stopped me in my tracks. If I mean everything to Cameron, if I can paint a picture verbally to someone who can’t see, I am helping someone by being different.”

Holthus also mentioned and introduced three HutchCC students in the crowd – Tyler Pauley from Garden Plain, Jeff Brandon from Hutchinson, and Ashton Hawkins from Smith Center, who all have done extraordinary things at this college, and work hard in and outside of school.

At the press conference before the event, Holthus answered questions regarding his career as a well-known sports announcer. One question that was asked pertained to a possible downfall in NFL fans in the last few years. He answered that it was a good question and that it “seems” to be a decline to some, but said that people don’t see everything with the NFL, only what is covered by reporters.

He pointed out the national anthem protests becoming a popular look on the league, but also explained that people don’t see the “behind-the scenes” action of players. Some, like Alex Smith, do remarkable things outside of the Chiefs. Smith helps foster kids earn college scholarships and donates to their organization.

Because he witnesses generous acts with the Chiefs and throughout Kansas, Mitch Holthus has a soft spot for the people and the state itself.

“I love this state, I made three career moves, yet still remained here in Kansas,” Holthus said.

He said how honored he was to speak at the Sports Arena and to share his experiences. Being from Smith Center has taught him how to be the man he is today and he seeks to find others who are different with success.

“To take the game beyond the game, it then becomes a celebration for anyone,” Holthus said.

One question that stood out to him was asked by a high school student from Inman. She asked about his love for announcing and how he became who he is today.

“Who you are and how you were raised makes you original,” Holthus said. “We all come from different home lives, but work ethic is a huge part of making an impression too.”

He stated several times that to be a good journalist, work ethic is important, but being a journalist also comes with great sacrifices. He has had to manage a family alongside his career, and although he loves what he does, Holthus expressed regrets for the moments he has missed, such as his daughter Hayley’s championship game. Brian, his son, had always dreamed of running on the Sports Arena court like his sister had. That never happened because his team never got to state.

During the lecture, Holthus presented a slideshow of the steps of differences that lead to success. Throughout his speech, he used a metaphor of floodwaters, such as the Arkansas River, or Gulf of Mexico flooding lives and trying to slow people down from reaching their ultimate goals. He explained “Empathetic Equity” – Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

The example he used for this was one of his favorite Chiefs, Derrick Johnson, who has funded about 15 reading dens in Kansas City and does things without expecting a reward, only from the kindness of his heart. In the summer last year, Johnson spent a lot of time practicing football with a younger player who hadn’t even made it through tryouts. Holthus noticed this and thought it was generous and showed him the kind of man Johnson is aside from football.

There were many more examples and topics. One of the last differences, “Being Different by Standing Firm”, was to show that people have to work for their success and shouldn’t run from their responsibilities.

“My job is to stand the post when it’s good or bad,” Holthus said. “Many times it isn’t easy, but you still stand the post like a marine in front of the embassy.”

Finishing with the last difference where Holthus discovered his relative, who was a poor European man that moved to Nebraska and joined the Union in the Civil War. He stood shoulder to shoulder with the black men in the blue uniforms. It was a major step in the American culture, and Holthus said he was proud to be related to the man that didn’t look down upon the African American men fighting by his side.

This thought led to his final statement that we will all leave marks on the world, but “what footprints will we leave?”