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Today is National Unplugging Day—Here’s why you should join in

Photo credit: flickr.com

National Day of Unplugging, a holiday created to bring awareness to the hold that technology has on the everyday person, is next Friday, March 5. A holiday you may not have heard of, participants in this annual tradition bathe in a digital detox for 24 hours– no cell phones, no laptops…just mindfulness.

The holiday originates from a Jewish nonprofit called ‘Reboot,’ an organization that started in New York City but is rapidly growing in cities across the country. If you’re thinking, “I’m not Jewish,” don’t worry. The holiday is for everyone, regardless of religious affiliation.

In recent years, the event has had hundreds of thousands of participants nationwide, and it is looking to be a major hit again this year. According to the celebration’s website, it aims to help participants “start living a different life: connect with the people in your street, neighborhood and city, have an uninterrupted meal or read a book to your child.”

Audrey Cleary, a University of Miami licensed clinical psychologist, spoke with The Miami Hurricane about why putting your phone down for a bit to focus on the world around you might not sound as bad as you think.

“Mindfulness can be as simple as becoming aware of what is around you– experiencing the sounds, sensations and your senses as a whole,” she explained. “You can deliberately become mindful in the moment with effort, but in general, focusing on one thing helps. Also, focus on gratitude and appreciation. Take time to focus on what you’re appreciative for. It can improve your happiness and overall well being.”

Cleary also spoke about the negative side effects of cell phone overuse, often seen in college students across the nation.

“Cell phone usage can be too much when it starts causing problems in your life. The distraction from academics it brings, and conflict in relationships. Not being present with the people around you can be a sign,” she said. “Social media can also bring on negative comparisons to other people. You don’t want to compare yourself to the negative, edited versions of someone else.”

According to Cleary, the benefits of unplugging can be monumental. Breaking the habit of always having to check your cell phone over and over again for notifications can be a positive experience. Yes, technology has provided many benefits into everyday life, but no one should want to feel locked down by their cell phone.

“It can be healthful to not have to focus on your cell phone and other technology. Kicking away that demand on your attention can help a person get reconnected with their natural environment. Getting aware of your emotional experiences can make the urge of your cell phone less powerful. Even just being present and aware of the negative emotions in your mind like sadness or anxiety can help you feel better about them since you know they are there.”

She continued to list the specific benefits of unplugging, saying that the awareness and physical contact with other people around you to be especially powerful. She says that when you are face to face with a person, your communication can often feel way more authentic. According to Cleary, an improved sleep schedule is another benefit worth mentioning.

Psychologists and researchers have begun identifying disorders that exist when individuals are unable to go lengths of time without their cell phone. One such disorder, known as ‘phone separation anxiety,’ is a struggle that many students deal with every day.

This disorder may sound funny or peculiar, but according to Cleary, it is not a joke. It is defined as “a sense of fear and panic when separated from a mobile phone and the overwhelming fear of anxiety coming from the inability to immediately respond to a notification or have your device in your hand.”

“If having immediate contact with your cell phone is something you’ve learned to depend on, it’s definitely real,” she explained. “If students are feeling anxious about not having their cell phone, it’s important to really think about why. Identify what the fear is, and challenge your fears associated with the phone.”

She listed several questions that students who think they may have this disorder might want to consider in order to try and cure their separation anxiety.

“What do you think you’re missing out on? Do you feel like you’ll really miss out on those things? Are the consequences really as bad as you think they are?”

Whatever the case is, she assured that phone separation anxiety does not have to be permanent. It can be overcome with a little cognitive work.

So, whether you unplug or plug in, make sure to think again about your technology habits. While 24 hours away from a cell phone may not immediately cure problems, everyone has to start somewhere.

Featured image from flickr.com.

With added sense of urgency, Miami makes pitching change ahead of Clemson series

The Miami Hurricanes huddle on the pitchers mound during Miami's game against Florida Gulf Coast University on April 14 at Mark Light Field. Photo credit: Alex Carnochan
The Miami Hurricanes huddle on the pitchers mound during Miami's game against Florida Gulf Coast University on April 14 at Mark Light Field.
The Miami Hurricanes huddle on the pitchers mound during Miami's game against Florida Gulf Coast University on April 14 at Mark Light Field. Photo credit: Alex Carnochan

The Hurricanes may have beaten the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles on a walk-off Wednesday, but this past week has been anything but euphoric for Miami. They are looking for consistency, especially on the pitching mound, allowing 10 runs per game in each of their last three Atlantic Coast Conference matchups.

And with getting swept at Pittsburgh still on the team’s mind, UM (18-11, 10-10 ACC) is making another change to its weekend pitching rotation.

Freshman and starter-to-date Victor Mederos will not start this weekend against the Clemson Tigers at Mark Light Field. Per a UM spokesman, the change is not injury-related, and Mederos will still be available out of the bullpen.

The right-handed hurler out of Westminster Christian has a 6.08 earned run average through eight appearances in 2021, all starts. He earned his first win on April 3 against Duke, but surrendered four earned runs in just two frames on April 10 at Pitt.

The good news for the Canes is that fellow freshman pitcher Alejandro Rosario is set to return to the rotation Friday after two missed starts. He takes a 5.91 ERA into the weekend alongside a 3-2 record. The March 15 ACC Pitcher of the Week was held out against Duke due to an oblique strain and missed his April 9 start at Pitt with an illness. In an April 11 relief outing of one and 2/3 innings, Rosario gave up seven earned runs and six hits.

Jordan Dubberly (1-0, 4.78 ERA) and Jake Garland (4-1 4.75 ERA) will start Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Both pitchers went three and 2/3 frames in losses at Pittsburgh.

Offensively, the Canes will hope for third baseman Yohandy Morales’ return Friday. He was held out of Wednesday’s 3-2 win after tweaking his back while weightlifting this week. Head coach Gino DiMare lists Morales as “day-to-day.”

Miami will look to avoid leaving runs off the board after stranding nine baserunners against Florida Gulf Coast Wednesday and 23 total in the three losses at Pitt.

“It’s one hit,” DiMare said. “One hit changes everything. It’s amazing how in baseball if you get that one hit, it kind of relaxes guys. We have to get our hitters going. There’s no doubt there’s a little bit of a funk there. We were going pretty good there for a little bit and then we went to Pitt and I’m not sure what happened. But we didn’t make an adjustment. We have to relax and execute.”

Christian Del Castillo leads the Canes with a .364 batting average and is 8-16 in Miami’s last four contests. Gabe Rivera is hitting .314 while Adrian Del Castillo’s is at .312. Raymond Gil hit two home runs in last Friday’s matchup at Pitt, Dominic Pitelli added a homer Sunday and Alex Toral also had a home run in UM’s midweek battle against FGCU.

Behind enemy lines

Clemson is 15-14 overall and 9-9 in conference play. They have won eight of their last 12 ACC matchups after a 1-6 start in league play. The Tigers are, however, on a three-game slide, having dropped the last two games in a series against the Virginia Cavaliers last weekend before suffering a loss Tuesday to College of Charleston.

Redshirt freshman right-handed pitcher Mack Anglin will start Friday night’s 7 p.m. game for Clemson. He is still a relative newcomer to the Tigers’ rotation, entering just his third start of 2021. He does boast a 2.18 ERA after a six-inning, one-hit scoreless outing April 9.

Redshirt sophomore and left-hander Keyshawn Askew will take the mound Saturday at 6 p.m. He joined the rotation in March after recovering from a preseason leg injury and has a 2.84 ERA over five appearances and four starts. He has an impressive 29-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Askew allowed seven hits and four runs in a five and 2/3-frame start against Virginia on April 10.

Redshirt freshman Nick Hoffman is scheduled to start Sunday’s noon series finale. Like Anglin and Askew, Hoffman hasn’t been a weekend starter for long, with three 2021 starts under his belt. The righty with a 4.85 ERA allowed seven Virginia hits and three runs April 11 in four and 1/3 innings. But Hoffman is just three weeks removed from a complete game win in his first start at Boston College on March 27.

The Tigers aren’t a team either that lives and dies by its starters. Clemson’s bullpen comes into the series with a 3.42 ERA and a .237 opposing batting average.

Shortstop James Parker leads Clemson in batting average at .353. First baseman Caden Grice follows closely at .340 and a team-high 1.087 OPS. Both players have seven home runs each, tied for a team-best. Among qualifying players, there is a drop off to the Tigers’ next-best offensive threats, with Bryar Hawkins batting .279, Jonathan French hitting .258, Kier Meredith sitting at .255 and Bryce Teodosio at .253.

Friday and Sunday’s games will be available on ACC Network, while Saturday’s matchup can be seen on ACC Network Extra. All three contests will also be heard on WVUM.

After the series, Miami welcomes back FGCU in Coral Gables on April 21 before traveling to North Carolina for a three-game set from April 23-25.

Summer ball to The Light: Rosario and Mederos team up once again at UM

Victor Mederos pitches against the Duke Blue Devils on April 3 at Mark Light Field. Photo credit: Alex Carnochan
Victor Mederos pitches against the Duke Blue Devils on April 3 at Mark Light Field.
Victor Mederos pitches against the Duke Blue Devils on April 3 at Mark Light Field. Photo credit: Alex Carnochan

Plenty of Little League players in Miami — let alone those across America — have spent years longing to play baseball for a college program like the four-time national champion Miami Hurricanes, though only a small handful end up doing just that.

But then there are some who have already been competing together prior to first stepping foot on the corner of San Amaro Drive and Ponce de Leon Boulevard and living out such dream.

And for freshman starting arms Alejandro Rosario and Victor Mederos, that’s been the case this season inside Mark Light Field.

“Me and Victor, we’ve been playing together since, I would say, summer ball of eighth grade, so we’ve been friends a long time,” Rosario said.

The two right-handed aces, in fact, have already been accustomed to taking the same mound long before a scholarship to UM awaited them inside their mailboxes.

“Me and Alejandro have been playing for quite a long time now,” Mederos said. “He actually came and played for the Banditos, which was a travel ball team that we played for. He played a tournament with us and from there on, you know, we kept on communicating and we kept on having a relationship.”

Such a unique opportunity opened the door for what would become quite the culminated pitching duo, given their shared work ethic and camaraderie.

“You know, I’ve gotten to know him not just as a baseball player but as a person,” Mederos said. “I think he’s a very hard-working kid, he brings a lot to the table. Everybody knows him for his velocity, but I think that now, more than in high school, his velocity comes into play because now he spots wherever he wants to put the ball, and he’s gotten way more mature with his pitching.”

Freshman pitcher Alejandro Rosario pitches against the Florida Gators on Saturday, February 20 at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL.
Freshman pitcher Alejandro Rosario pitches against the Florida Gators on Saturday, February 20 at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Photo credit: Anissa Dimilta/ UAA Communications

“He’s a tough guy to hit off of,” Rosario admitted with a smile. “If I was a hitter, I wouldn’t like to face him. He throws a lot of pitches, a lot of good off-speed, and he throws hard.”

Though when the two Miami natives lace up their black and orange cleats and toe the rubber, the shared meals, text messages, and smiles stay off the diamond.

“We always like to compete,” Rosario said. “He gets the best out of me and I get the best out of him, and we just give feedback to each other.”

Mederos nodded in agreement himself, knowing that the constant edge that has lingered between them fuels their passion for competing at a place like UM.

“We always compete, and I think that’s the relationship that, you know, we always want to have,” Mederos said. “We’re both going for each other’s jobs but at the same time, we are friends out of the field, and we hang out; we do everything together.”

And witnessing those soaring intensity levels daily has been none other than the team’s third-year skipper in head coach Gino DiMare. Both pitchers have experienced their shares of success and adversity to grow as leaders through barely 25 games.

“From where I stand, it’s a competitive but a very respectful and good relationship,” DiMare said. “I think with both of them probably, if I had to guess, it’s competitive. I mean, you’re talking about two top players in the country last year that are here in our backyard coming out of high school end up showing up on our campus, and I think it’s great for [them] because they’re probably going to push each other and make each other better while they’re here.”

Making the short journey down the road to Coral Gables, Rosario and Mederos realized it would be one of a lifetime come late winter upon the announcement of a brand-new starting rotation for 2021. UM’s three-headed monster in Brian Van Belle, Chris McMahon, and Slade Cecconi all set sail for their new MLB homes back in June.

“She cried,” said Rosario when asked about his mother’s reaction to him being names one of Miami’s starting pitchers. The graduate of Miami Christian School has posted a 3-1 record this season while maintaining an ERA of 4.15 — the lowest of any Hurricanes starter this year.

“We ended up getting the news right after our scrimmage,” added Mederos, who has instead fell to 1-3 through eight starts. “J.D. and Gino called us in one by one, all the starters. You know I was very blessed to have this opportunity of working really hard, I’ve been working really hard. Everything they told me to fix, everything that they told me that wanted to see, and I was able to bring it to the table. I’m very blessed to have this opportunity.”

The road became somewhat turbulent concerning their performances out of the gates, nonetheless. Both shared a first taste of adversity in the college setting at Florida Ballpark against unanimous No. 1 ranked Florida.

“I think both [Mederos] and Alejandro Rosario, our two freshmen, really did a solid job,” DiMare said after the series win, Miami’s first since 2014. “They’re only going to get better coming out of a performance and experience like this weekend here against the number one team in the country. Those two guys, I think, did a very, very good job for their first two outings as freshmen, first college starts as freshmen.”

“The first thing that jumps at you is that they’re very physically talented,” Miami pitching coach J.D. Arteaga added. “Both guys are mid to upper-90s type guys when they want to. They throw strikes which, for a young pitcher, is something that they’re a little bit ahead of their time there. They’re efficient and very competitive.”

The expectations of DiMare, a former Hurricane himself, have not calmed their desires to continue evolving on equally important physical and mental side of the game.

“You take a kid like Alejandro Rosario, which it’s amazing [because] he’s kind of a gym rat. He’s always around, always listening, no matter who you’re talking to. He’s never far away, always listening in, and just taking every little bit that he can out of every conversation that you’re having with somebody. I mean, both guys are very coachable, great to work with, and I think the future is very bright for both of those guys.”

All individual goals aside, the expectations for Rosario and Mederos to help the team’s ultimate goal of winning its first College World Series in two decades.

“I expect them to get better and better,” DiMare said. “I expect them to develop as they go along, learn to pitch better; I just expect them to improve from each outing and hopefully they’ll be at their best at the end of the season.”

The Hurricanes have experienced their surprises — both positive and negative — this spring, but the light continues to shine brighter for Rosario and Mederos as they continue to grow their abilities on the field and their relationship with one another.

As finals near, students enjoy day off and campus events during second Wellness Wednesday

In lieu of a spring break this semester, the University of Miami hosted its second Wellness Wednesday featuring many events throughout the day on campus.

The festivities began with ‘Canes Wellness Night on April 13. Students lined up at Lakeside Patio to receive merchandise, arts and crafts and food from Hurricane Productions, the Sandler Center and the University of Miami Police Department.

Sandler Center trivia stand at 'Canes Wellness Night.
Sandler Center trivia stand at 'Canes Wellness Night. Photo credit: Veronica Porges

Caleb Stacey, a freshman microbiology and immunology major, was excited to receive some of the arts and crafts that were given out, especially the tie-dye tote bag.

New to this Wellness Wednesday were two activities. One was provided by the College of Arts and Sciences located at Lowe Art Museum where students received free Chill-N-Nitrogen Ice Cream and participated in splatter paint art.

Alanna Adler, a senior psychology major, said she loved the event and was dying to go.

“I saw Chill-N from across the street and knew I had to come,” Adler said. “I had a great time.”

The other activity introduced this Wellness Wednesday was called “A Break for U.” Located at the Rock, students were able to make their own plush animals and get smoothies and sand art.

Charlie Gardner, a freshman undecided business major, remembered the other events from the last Wellness Wednesday and was excited to try something new.

“The stuffed animals definitely caught my eye,” Gardner said. “I really enjoyed coming to this one.”

Similar to the previous Wellness Wednesday, Hurricane Productions organized an event on the Foote Green with an inflatable basketball game, terrariums and food trucks from vendors like Cold Stone, Burger Shack, Pizza Zilla and Reggae Beats.

Students enjoying food trucks outside of Foote Green.
Students enjoying food trucks outside of Foote Green. Photo credit: Veronica Porges

“I love basketball so the fact that I could play it and there was also food was awesome,” said Nikit Khurana, a sophomore biomedical engineering major.

The final event of the day was Pancakes with Pat at Lakeside Village. Students lined up and were served pancakes from housing and dining staff and Senior Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia Whitely.

“I love coming to Pancakes with Pat…It really ended my Wellness Wednesday nicely,” said biomedical engineering major Timothy Arcari.

With the start of finals nearing, many students appreciated the day off.

“I think the timing was good. It’s a last push to get us through the semester,” said Khurana.

“I definitely have an appreciation of Wellness Wednesday,” said Sarah Sluka, a freshman nursing student. “However I would have liked a couple more additional wellness days throughout the semester.”

Other students suggested a different day of the week may have been better.

“I have a class on Wednesdays only that I had to miss twice,” said Adler. “I wish that we could have had a Wellness Tuesday or Wellness Thursday instead.”

Written by Veronica Porges and Alex Terr.

Coral Gables elects Vince Lago as new mayor

Vice Mayor Vince Lago elected to Coral Gables Mayor on April 13. Photo credit: vincelagoformayor.com
Vice Mayor Vince Lago elected to Coral Gables Mayor on April 13.
Vice Mayor Vince Lago elected to Coral Gables Mayor on April 13. Photo credit: vincelagoformayor.com

Coral Gables has a new mayor. On April 13, Vince Lago was chosen by the Coral Gables residents to be their next mayor, replacing Mayor Raúl Valdés-Faul after four terms in city hall.

The election’s recurring theme was marked by debate over the City Beautiful losing its character in the name of progress.

Lago defeated candidates Patricia Keon and Jackson Rip Holmes, earning around 60 percent of approximately 10,000 votes cast.

Lago, 43 celebrated his win at Bay 13 surrounded by friends and family.

“I am feeling euphoric; this is a win for the community,” said Lago. “The community sent a strong message today. We won emphatically, even over some pretty adverse situations.”

Lago was under the spotlight with news of him signing a letter issued to Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart, a Miami Catholic school, stating that the school’s efforts to address racism were incompatible with its Catholic foundation. More than 15 parents and alumni, including Lago, signed the letter.

Almost 4,000 people had voted by the time the news of the letter was released last weekend.

Lago is currently serving as the vice mayor, and he is also an executive at the BDI Construction Company, which focuses on commercial constructions. Lago was against the controversial Miracle Mile zoning measure, which reduces buildings’ height from six stories to four.

Keon, 72, is a registered nurse who was re-elected to the commission in 2017 for a second four-year term. Previously, she has served in several city boards, including the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and the Planning and Zoning Board.

After the loss, Keon told the Miami Herald she is going to go back to being a grandmother, traveling and playing golf.

With a late start in the race, Holmes, a commercial realtor, received 463 votes. Holmes, 69, claims to have family roots dating back to the founding of Coral Gables. His campaign website states that Holmes’ grandfather knew George Merrick and purchased one of the first properties on Miracle Mile in 1930.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava shared their congratulations to Lago over Twitter.

“The city made a statement today. We want someone who is transparent, who is ethical and who represents this community,” said Lago.

The 8 biggest moments from Marvel’s ‘WandaVision’

Photo credit: "Elizabeth Olsen" by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Based on social media teasers and trailers before the series was released, Marvel fans assumed “WandaVision” would follow Wanda Maximoff, known to the Avengers as Scarlet Witch and played by Elizabeth Olsen, as she created a false reality to cope with [spoiler for “Avengers: Endgame”] her husband Vision’s death.

There was so much that fans did not see coming.

Embed from Getty Images

“Wandavision,” a new Marvel original TV series, premiered on Disney+ weekly from Jan. 15 to March 15. The television miniseries is a continuation of “Avengers: End Game.”

Below are some of the best and most surprising moments (sorry, spoiler alert again!) from the Marvel original series.

Mind control torture of Westviewians

Initially, it could be assumed that many secondary characters were just figments of Wanda’s imagination. While the sitcom style plotline and cinematography of earlier episodes created an innocent, nostalgic vibe, it was clear something was terribly wrong under the surface.

Still, I didn’t have “torturous, mass mind control” on my Bingo card, paired with all the town’s children locked in their rooms who only emerged for the Halloween special.

Vision’s corpse. Sort of?

Another surprise was Vision’s corpse apparently reanimated by Wanda. I don’t even know where to begin with this twist.

I especially didn’t anticipate his alleged reanimation being a lie crafted by Tyler Hayward, when in actuality, Wanda produced Vision-shaped memories using energy from her brief interaction with the Mind Stone as a teen. The corpse of the original Vision was turned into a soulless Vision-destroying weapon, “White Vision,” that the new sort-of-real Vision faces off with in battle.

Marvel really knows how to blow your mind.

Evan Peters as PIETRO.

Embed from Getty Images

For a diehard X-Men fan, this was a top-five insane moment. From the moment the camera graced his silver hair, I was already losing my mind.

The sitcom-style dramatic reveal was staged perfectly, with cameras panning to his face and showing audiences Evan Peters as Pietro Maximoff. I literally had to pause the TV, get up and take a walk. While it may not have panned out how everyone expected, his inclusion still threw me, and I assume every other Marvel fan as well.

Human dream team

I was beyond excited for some of my favorite human characters to come together unexpectedly. Funny and brilliant Darcy Lewis, endlessly good-natured Jimmy Woo, and the tough, stoic, sort-of-human Monica Lambeau (Maria Lambeau’s daughter!!) had incredible chemistry as the ragtag group solved the problems plaguing Westview.

Actually caring about Billy and Tommy Maximoff

While the level of existence of the two “WandaVision” children is questionable, they’re real to Wanda. Their birth, the emotional dog death scene, discovering their powers and Wanda’s final goodbye all made them feel real to the audience. Despite their rapid development and fast aging, the final 10-year-old versions of Wanda’s sons did an incredible job of making me cry when Wanda “deleted” them.

Monica Lambeau’s Superpowers

The scene where Monica breaks through the Hex with sheer force of will was beautifully done, with the splitting images of her combining after she remembers Captain Marvel praising her. Monica’s eyes turning blue and then she being able to combat Wanda’s powers? Definitely confusing, unexpected and cool.

Agatha Harkness

I can genuinely say I didn’t see this coming whatsoever, so much so that I spent the entirety of the eighth episode trying to decide if Agatha/Agnes really even was the villain or if it was Wanda’s way of writing in a reason for all of the “glitches” she’d been experiencing.

It wasn’t until the very end of the episode where Agatha calls Wanda the “Scarlet Witch” that my preexisting Marvel knowledge was enough to convince me it was real.

A Newfound Appreciation for Wanda

Embed from Getty Images

I was never a huge Wanda fan, mostly feeling neutral about her in the Avengers movies, but “WandaVision” absolutely changed that. Seeing her suffer through so much and go through such growth was the sort of authentic representation for girls that fell somewhat flat in other Marvel “girl power” attempts. Her perseverance and sacrifice despite her seemingly endless tragic backstory gave her the character development that she had been lacking as a minor character in prior films.

Watch “WandaVision” on Disney+.

Featured photo “Elizabeth Olsen” by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

After using anti-Semitic slur, NBA’s Meyers Leonard seeks forgiveness at UM Hillel

Former Heat player Meyers Leonard posted this photo with teammate Tyler Herro on his Instagram on Feb. 4 captioned, "I miss it." Photo credit: Instagram, @meyersleonard
Former Heat player Meyers Leonard posted this photo on his Instagram on Feb. 4 with the caption, "I miss it."
Former Heat player Meyers Leonard posted this photo with teammate Tyler Herro on his Instagram on Feb. 4 captioned, "I miss it." Photo credit: Instagram, @meyersleonard

In the age of the internet, one second can change a person’s life. Few know that more now than Meyers Leonard.

On April 13, Leonard — the embattled NBA free agent and former Heat player — met with University of Miami students at an event hosted by UM’s Hillel called From HEAT to Healing.

As he tells it, Leonard was living a “dream” and was “incredibly blessed” to be doing what millions dream of and only about 500 people get to do for a living, playing in the NBA. That was, until one word changed his life.

On March 9, then a backup center for the Miami Heat, Leonard was playing “Call of Duty: Warzone,” a popular first-person shooter game, on Twitch, where he was heard saying an anti-Semitic slur. The video quickly went viral. The Heat soon released a statement saying he was “away from the team indefinitely.”

On March 18, news broke that Leonard had been traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder as part of a salary matching maneuver. The Thunder retained his contract for another week in case they could trade him to another team in a similar maneuver. Once the trade deadline passed on March 25, the Thunder waived him.

Since then, Leonard has been meeting with various Jewish communities and individuals throughout Florida in an attempt to rehabilitate his image and make amends. One of those communities was UM Hillel.

“I felt like if this is an opportunity for him to learn more about the Jewish community on campus— that’s a win,” Igor Alterman, the Chief Executive Officer for UM Hillel, explained.

Sitting alongside Leonard for the event was Matthew Hiltzik, a Jewish film producer and founder of public relations and consulting firm Hiltzik Strategies.

“I am deeply, deeply sorry,” an emotional Leonard said to open up the event. “My ultimate goal is to heal what I have done…I love all people and I am committed to making this better.”

Leonard and his representatives declined an interview with The Miami Hurricane prior to the event.

During the event, Leonard spoke at length about his experiences with the Jewish community since the incident. He’s attended various shabbat dinners, visited Holocaust memorials and met with survivors and rabbis.

Among the most impactful for Leonard, he said, was going to a Holocaust memorial.

“It was so incredibly powerful and emotional…growing up I knew some things but I didn’t know the scope,” Leonard said. “When I saw it, I thought of what I had done and what I had learned. And I just stood there and cried and cried and cried.”

When Hiltzik asked Leonard how the use of the slur happened, Leonard attributed it to video games. He explained that in competitive shooting games, there is a lot of profanity and hatred.

“The only way I think this could have entered the realm of my brain was through gaming,” Leonard said. He said he only learned about what happened the following day after he had streamed it, when a Twitter account posted a video of it.

“I was fined, suspended, out of the league, but I will show the world my heart.”

30 minutes into the event, Leonard asked the primarily Jewish audience for their own stories. The audience members were largely positive towards Leonard and spent upwards of 40 minutes sharing stories of anti-Semitic incidents in their lives. Leonard sat and took notes as audience members shared.

“What stood out the most is him wanting to hear our stories,” said Ana Alexander, a Jewish senior studying accounting. “He could have taken the hour to apologize and just answer pre-asked questions.”

The event went 10 minutes over time and every audience member who raised their hand was able to share or ask their questions.

Alexander, who is an avid NBA fan, was one of the people who knew the 9-year NBA veteran before the incident.

“I was really surprised to see that he had said that,” Alexander said, adding that when the public statements first came out she was skeptical.

“I wasn’t sure if he was genuine at first,” she said. But coming away from the event she said she has forgiven him.

An apology posted by Meyers Leonard onto his Instagram on March 9.
An apology posted by Meyers Leonard onto his Instagram on March 9. Photo credit: Instagram, @meyersleonard

Rabbi Lyle Rothman, the Chief Experience Officer for UM’s Hillel, recalled being deeply upset when he first heard about Leonard’s comments

“I was angry. I was deeply angry, I was sad,” Rothman said.

Rothman explained that he was especially frustrated that a public figure on a sports team in today’s world would use such a comment, but said he came away impressed with Leonard after the event.

“I am a firm believer in repentance…I believe him,” Rothman said. “I think he has the opportunity to make this one of his causes in the world and help stamp out anti-Semitism.”

Of course, not everyone is as quick to forgive.

“He’s been terminated from the NBA. I feel he has nothing else but to be apologetic,” said Stanley Spiegelman, a junior studying journalism. “I think he should have made a donation towards an organization fighting anti-Semitism.”

During his 9 years in the NBA, Leonard earned more than $59 million dollars in salary.

Leonard acknowledged that not everyone will forgive him.

“There might be people who don’t accept my apology,” Leonard said. “But I will do my best to win them over eventually.”

Canes win fourth straight, route FAU 4-1

No. 27 Adria Soriano Barrera and Oren Vasser lost their doubles match 6-4, giving FAU their only point of the match, which UM won 4-1. Photo credit: Josh Halper
No. 27 Adria Soriano Barrera and Oren Vasser lost their doubles match 6-4, giving FAU their only point of the match, which UM won 4-1. Photo credit: Josh Halper

The UM men’s tennis team was back in action Tuesday for their final home match of the season, thrashing the Florida Atlantic Owls 4-1 at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center for their fourth straight team win.

Initially, the Canes (7-7, 4-4 ACC) looked shaky as they dropped two doubles matches to FAU (6-10).

First, FAU’s Alvaro Fernandez Horta and Finn Stodder started things up by beating Bojan Jankulovski and Stefan Milicevic 6-3. Building on that momentum, Kevin Huempfner and Hunter Robbins defeated UM’s Adria Soriano Barrera and Oren Vasser 6-4 on court 2, securing FAU’s first, and only, point.

Franco Aubone and Benjamin Hannestad of UM were leading Filip Krolo and Maxime Lapraille 5-4 before the doubles point was clinched, resulting in an unfinished match.

Down 0-1, the Canes turned the tables and stormed back, dominating the Owl’s in singles. To tie things up, Jankulovski defeated Kevin Huempfner in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1. Hannestad then defeated Alvaro Fernandez Horta 6-4, 6-3 to give the Canes the lead, 2-1.

Looking to bounce back, FAU’s Finn Stodder frustrated Vasser in a tight first set that ended in a tiebreaker. Vasser barely squeaked by, and then destroyed Stodder in the second set to win the match 7-6 (7-4), 6-1.

With the chance to close out the day, Aubone snatched the final point by defeating Robbins 6-4, 6-4.

Before being suspended, the Canes were also leading the other two singles matches on courts 1 and 4.

No. 27 Soriano Barrera was leading Maxime Lapraille 7-5, 5-5, and Milicevic was in the midst of a battle, barely in front 1-6, 6-0, 3-1.

The Canes seek their fifth straight win in Chapel Hill this Friday when they play the No. 3 UNC Tar Heels at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center.

Hurricanes bounce back, Vilar walks it off versus FGCU Eagles

Anthony Vilar runs to first base during Miami's win over FIU on April 7 at Mark Light Field. Photo credit: Treasure Wilson
Anthony Vilar runs to first base during Miami's win over FIU on April 7 at Mark Light Field.
Anthony Vilar runs to first base during Miami's win over FIU on April 7 at Mark Light Field. Photo credit: Treasure Wilson

It was a humbling weekend for the Hurricanes after getting swept by the Pittsburgh Panthers, but the Canes found themselves in the win column Wednesday evening in their return to Mark Light Field.

While a sluggish Miami offense kept the Eagles within reach all game long, the Hurricanes ultimately pulled away with an exhilarating walk-off win in the bottom half of the ninth inning.

With one away and a runner on second in the final frame, second baseman Anthony Vilar delivered the game-winning base hit to bring CJ Kayfus in to score and conclude matters in Coral Gables with a 3-2 win for Miami.

“The emotion was great. We didn’t expect to be this tight into the game in the late innings but baseball is baseball,” Vilar said. “After that hit, I just saw [Alex] Toral all the way out there with me, waiting to go into the outfield to pile up there and have a good time.”

Despite the low-scoring affair, the Miami bats were aggressive early, putting a run on the board in the top half of the first to give the Canes an early lead. Jordan Lala opened the game with a single to short and then advanced to second base on an error. Two batters later, Lala was plated on an RBI knock to centerfield from Christian Del Castillo.

However, Eagles starting pitcher Tyler Tipton was able to settle down and keep the damage to a minimum throughout the remainder of his start, only allowing one additional run to be scored through 6.2 innings of work. Miami scored its second run in the fourth inning off of a long ball from Alex Toral.

On the mound for the Hurricanes, Miami head coach Gino DiMare turned to a trio of arms to split the pitching duties. Jake Smith started the game and pitched 2.1 innings before being pulled from the game and relieved by Andrew Walters. Smith left runners on the corners prior to being switched, and a wild pitch from Walters plated FGCU’s first run of the game.

Going into the fifth, Miami’s re-established one-run lead dissolved as quickly as it was earned. FGCU outfielder Brian Ellis took a page out of Toral’s book and went yard to tie the contest at 2-2. The fifth inning was Walters’s last and, despite surrendering the lead for the Canes, he recorded a career-high seven strikeouts.

The game for the Hurricanes was left in the hands of Daniel Federman, who pitched four shutout innings to drown out any rally attempts for the Eagles. He faced the final 13 hitters of the game and gave up only three hits without walking a single batter.

The Canes weren’t able to back Federman’s pitching heroics until the ninth, but they threatened to break the tie in the eighth. With the bases loaded and one away in the inning, Dominic Pitelli grounded into an inning-ending double play, spoiling a golden opportunity for Miami to break through with an offensive outburst.

After a low-pressure top half of the ninth for Federman, the Canes finally broke through and secured the 3-2 win.

“I thought our bullpen, Walters and Federman, did a great job in coming in and pitching out of the pen,” DiMare said. “At the end of the day, we’re fortunate but very happy to have the W and now we move on.”

Miami’s second game versus FGCU this season improved their overall record to 18-11, and was a much-needed bounce-back game for the Canes after dropping three in a row to Pittsburgh. T

he Hurricanes will return to Mark Light Field on Friday, April 16 to take on the Clemson Tigers for a three-game weekend series.

Despite many new faces, it’s full steam ahead for Miami football

Freshman quarterback Tyler Van Dyke has assumed the majority of first-team quarterback duties for the spring while D'Eriq King is out from his ACL injury. Photo credit: Miami Athletics
Freshman quarterback Tyler Van Dyke has assumed first-team quarterback duties for the spring while D'Eriq King is out from his ACL injury.
Freshman quarterback Tyler Van Dyke has assumed the majority of first-team quarterback duties for the spring while D'Eriq King is out from his ACL injury. Photo credit: Miami Athletics

Newcomers are playing huge roles for the Miami Hurricanes this spring. Youth and transience are heavily represented during offseason camp, but Miami’s newest players are flying through their first months as Canes.

Other players have been in Coral Gables for somewhat longer stretches, but are coming off injuries or are simply looking for expanded roles this fall.

Teammates and coaches see this head start paying off in 2021.

One of the spring’s biggest storylines is the development of Miami’s future quarterbacks—Freshmen Tyler Van Dyke and Jake Garcia. While senior D’Eriq King is the unquestioned starting quarterback in 2021, the Canes will have answers at the positions after King leaves.

“It’s not like they’re freshman quarterbacks,” receiver Dee Wiggins said. “They play like they’ve been here before. They’re doing better than any freshman would ever do.”

Jake Garcia, a true freshman who enrolled early in January, throws a pass during Miami's second scrimmage of the spring season.
Jake Garcia, a true freshman who enrolled early in January, throws a pass during Miami's second scrimmage of the spring season. Photo credit: Miami Athletics

Both Van Dyke and Garcia have received first-team reps this spring, alongside third-year passer Payton Matocha. With Garcia only being cleared to return from a foot injury one day before UM’s initial spring scrimmage, Van Dyke may be slightly ahead of the pack.

“We’re just getting better as practice goes on,” said Charleston Rambo, a wide receiver and transfer from Oklahoma. “Just being around the guys every day, being in so many group chats, is [making] each other better.”

Rambo caught 76 passes in three years at Oklahoma for 1,180 yards and nine touchdowns. He was a part of two College Football Playoff teams, and helped lead the Sooners to a Big 12 Title and a Cotton Bowl win over Florida last season.

One area of improvement for Miami is the wide receiver room. Mike Harley led UM with 730 receiving yards in 2020, but only pro-bound tight end Brevin Jordan had more than 400 yards in 2020.

Harley returning to Coral Gables as a redshirt senior, the continued development of targets including Wiggins, Mark Pope and underclassman receivers, as well as the addition of Rambo are all boosts to the position group.

“It’s more competition,” Wiggins said. “Working hard, we’re pushing hard every day. We have something new every day at practice. Every time we watch film, coach [Rob Likens] gets on us about little details.”

On defense, linebacker Avery Huff will be a redshirt freshman once again in 2021 after the NCAA granted one year of eligibility relief to all student athletes due to the coronavirus pandemic. A season ago, Huff saw game action mostly in special teams. He is looking to turn a corner in on-field productivity.

“Understanding exactly how the coaches want me to play,” Huff said, is a basic facet of spring practice. But the simple piece of advice can allow players like him to reach the next level in development. “Now that I have a good understanding…I feel like the sky is the limit.”

Huff says he has worked with members of the defensive line on pass rushing and blitz stills. He has rotated with the first and second team defense this spring. A four-star product in the 2020 class, he ranked No. 12 nationally among outside linebackers according to 247Sports.

Safety Avantae Williams is also working his way into the depth chart after missing all of 2020. He recorded an interception in Miami’s first closed-door scrimmage, jumpstarting his first weeks in full practice as a Hurricane.

“It was good to get an interception, have a play on the ball and have my teammates surround me excited,” Williams said. “It just feels good to be back out there with the guys, learning from the older players, finding a way to fit into the defense.”

Williams entered UM as the No. 2 safety in the class of 2020, a four-star prospect according to 247Sports, out of Deland, Fla. While he was able to work out, watch film and do light drills last fall, this spring is his collegiate breakout.

The Canes conclude spring practice this week before Saturday’s annual spring game. The game—scheduled for 11 a.m. at Hard Rock Stadium—will be closed to the public but available on ACC Network. It will be the final time Miami is displayed on a television audience before its Sept. 4 season opener in Atlanta against Alabama.

When the party’s over: Locals disgruntled by weeks of spring break chaos

South Beach was flooded with tourists throughout March and April for spring break. Photo credit: Heather McLaughlin
South Beach was flooded with tourists throughout March and April for spring break.
South Beach was flooded with tourists throughout March and April for spring break. Photo credit: Heather McLaughlin

Thousands of tourists flocked to Miami Beach ready to party and celebrate spring break despite continued COVID regulations in the area. In late March and early April, tourists fueled a spike in reckless behavior, with over 900 arrests and an estimated 80 firearms confiscated in a matter of weeks, according to the Miami Beach Police Department.

“This year I noticed an increase in traffic, cars with loud music driving around, speeding through the roads and lots of loud sirens from either police or firefighters passing through frequently,” said Adolfo Moura, a University of Miami student and current South Beach resident. “The other night there were over 30 police cars in the next block for some incident that happened. I’ve never seen that before around here.”

UM junior and meteorology major Josh Stewart said he tried to celebrate spring break with his friends but made an effort to avoid the crowds.

“It’s really sad how people come from out of town and just wreck our beautiful city,” said Stewart. “We went to get lunch at the Sugar Factory early around 11 in the morning to avoid the crowds.”

South Beach visitors during the day with no facial coverings.
South Beach visitors during the day with no facial coverings. Photo credit: Anabella Zambrano

UM junior Cristina Herrera, a double major in motion pictures and broadcast journalism, said her day in Miami Beach was quickly derailed by a violent confrontation between tourists and the police.

“The beach was overall peaceful, but once the curfew was announced, that’s when things got really crazy,” Herrera said. “Police officers started tear gassing the crowd and people were running everywhere. There had to be over a hundred people on Collins and no one wearing a mask.”

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber and City Manager Raul Aguila expressed concern for students and tourists alike during a live press conference on March 20.

“It looked like a rock concert. You couldn’t see the pavement, and you couldn’t see grass,” Aguila said, expressing concern for the safety of residents, visitors and spring breakers alike.

On March 27, Miami residents held a protest at Miami City Hall to voice their frustrations as a direct result of spring breakers’ arrival and behavior. Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, a former Miami Beach commissioner, helped organize the protest after a local resident reached out to voice their concerns.

“Residents are very tired and our city workers are overworked,” Rosen Gonzalez said. “We don’t have the resources to control the party and that’s why we came out to protest. Basically to tell people this is our home.”

Rosen-Gonzalez said the protest was held to induce action from local politicians.

“I would like the mayor and the members of the commission to remember our protest when they go to vote at their next meeting on April 21,” Rosen-Gonzalez said. “I think it’s important they understand the residents are fed up, and this is an election year and we want change…We’re not going to accept that tourists come to our city and trash it, and if that’s the case, then we’d rather not have those tourists.”

Peaceful protest organized by Miami Beach residents located in Miami City Hall in efforts to demand change and more help from government officials on March 27.
Peaceful protest organized by Miami Beach residents located in Miami City Hall in efforts to demand change and more help from government officials on March 27. Photo credit: Nick D'Annunzio

Nick D’Annunzio, a Miami Beach resident for more than 20 years, said he attended the protest because he wants better for his community.

“The protest was a wake-up call for our city to listen to the residents to help prevent and to stop this,” said D’Annunzio. “It was a platform where we had opinion leaders from all sectors, from gay to black and so forth, announcing the type of behavior that was happening.”

D’Annunzio said he was upset by the absence of state officials at the protest but added that local police officers came to show their support.

“We’re allowing these individuals who are actually the majority, not even in college, to kind of take over our city, destroy our reputation and bring lawlessness,” D’Annunzio said. “It was trying to create a dialogue to stop the anarchy.”

Featured photo by Heather McLaughlin via Flickr at a license found here.

The Miami Hurricane launches new visually driven website

The Miami Hurricane has launched a new and improved website designed to improve the paper’s online visuals and mobile accessibility.

“The photos are really at the forefront, everything looks super crisp and modern,” said Hurricane Editor in Chief Anna Timmons. “Readers can access our articles straight from social media and it will take them to a really beautiful, mobile-friendly platform.”

Online Editor Leah Harper helped manage the revamp with assistance from School of Communication technical analyst Nabeel Sneij, who worked on this during his free time. The Hurricane also received advice from School of Communication lecturer Erin Brown.

Harper said that despite some minor obstacles, partially stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, the April 7 launch went according to plan.

“It’s very exciting, definitely a relief that it all went well… Now I’m just excited for the students to see it,” Harper said.

The website features more space for photos and graphics, as well as full mobile compatibility. While the content is largely the same, Timmons says the website’s new layout is both easier to navigate and a major aesthetic improvement.

“Students will be getting a really great, free source of journalism from our new site that mirrors that of a professional news source,” Timmons said.

Early feedback on the new website has been largely positive, with students saying they find the layout more professional and streamlined.

“I like it, it looks classy, like a professional site, not like something run by students,” said Chase Renninger, a sophomore at UM majoring in Motion Pictures and History.

Others say they noticed the difference between the new layout and former layout immediately.

“It looks a lot more interesting, there’s a lot more eye-grabbing images,” said junior psychology major Will Riddle. “The old site was very, meh. I look at this and I look at student involvement, I look at Pancake’s with Pat, eye-grabbing.”

Timmons says that with a modernized website fully implemented, the next step is building out the paper’s multimedia to take full advantage of the new layout.

“I think the most exciting opportunity for The Hurricane is just expanding coverage and diversifying the coverage that we do,” Timmons said. “This website is super great for displaying videos, podcasts and more dynamic displays of articles.”

Timmons says she is looking forward to next year and the ways in which the incoming staff can continue to enhance The Hurricane’s coverage.

“I think there are a lot of exciting opportunities and I’m excited to see what next year’s staff does with it.”

Dear students, please get your vaccine

Jennifer Liu receives a dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at a county-supported pop up site at Homestead Air Reserve Park on March 31. Photo credit: Jared Lennon
Jennifer Liu receives a dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at a county-supported pop up site at Homestead Air Reserve Park on March 31.
Jennifer Liu receives a dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at a county-supported pop up site at Homestead Air Reserve Park on March 31. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

If you are living in Florida and are 18 and older, you are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. We know that getting vaccinated isn’t the only solution for a post-COVID world as our reality is much more nuanced than that. But it’s the right step. We won’t ever get out of the throes of this worldly pandemic if we don’t all get vaccinated and move towards a state of herd immunity.

It is no secret that we all have varied views when it comes to vaccines and that a large number of people today are hesitant to get them. A University of California, Davis, study found that more than a third of people nationwide are either unlikely or at least hesitant to get a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them. But if we can collectively work through our fears and misconceptions, then maybe we all can get everyone on board with vaccination and getting to the end of this pandemic once and for all.

Much of the skepticism around the vaccine stems from the timeline in which it was developed. Many folks assumed that because vaccines normally take years to develop and since this vaccine was made in the span of a year it must be unsafe. It is true that vaccines normally take a while to develop; previously, the fastest vaccine ever developed, for mumps, took more than four years. However, we must remember that the cause for this pandemic is a coronavirus that scientists and medical professionals have already spent years researching and working on. According to scientific journal Nature, “For years, researchers had been paying attention to related coronaviruses, which cause SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome), and some had been working on new kinds of vaccine — an effort that has now paid off spectacularly.” With additional modern MRNA technology, it makes it easier to make vaccines in a short amount of time.

Many are also worried about the effects of the vaccines on our bodies and how they will fare long term. With the exception of the FDA’s current pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, scientists have not yet found reasons for concern with getting vaccinated. The side effects one gets after they take the vaccine are short term and do not allude to the vaccine being unsafe. So far, there haven’t been any long-term effects spotted or estimated. The short-term effects of muscle aches, fevers and fatigue are actually signs that the vaccine is doing what it’s supposed to do— prepping your immune system to fight the virus if there is future exposure.

If your skepticism comes from a lack of trust in the government and the current social and political moment we’re in, then skepticism is more than understandable. In fact, it should even be expected. For minority communities, especially Black communities, there can be a mistrust in the government and its issued mandates as there is a long history of American medical negligence with Black people (see Tuskegee Syphilis Study).

Still, we ask you to kindly rely on history to guide us through this moment. Diseases that were widespread centuries ago like polio, smallpox, and measles are now wiped out or extremely rare due to the help of required vaccines. In fact, when smallpox ravaged populations in the 18th century and English doctor Edward Jenner came up with a vaccine that was derived from cowpox, there was immense pushback with people even thinking the vaccine would give them the likeness of a cow. History shows that vaccines work; let’s trust it.

Last month, we embarked upon the anniversary of COVID-19. It has been an earth-shattering year of lockdowns, shortages of toilet paper and paper towels and closed movie theaters. The journey to normalcy is nowhere far from over but with an accelerated vaccine rollout and vaccine appointments now being offered at clinics and colleges, we can speed up the process. Vaccines are now available specifically for UM students, and we should take advantage of our privilege and help stop the spread.

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.