U of L 50th Anniversary Interview

2017 is the University of Lethbridge’s 50th anniversary. In celebration, the Faculty of Education has produced a series of videos that tell the story of the program through personal memories. This collection reveals what makes the U of L’s teacher education program one of the finest in Canada — community, relationships, pedagogy, research, and heart.

I feel lucky to have been asked to participate:

Jeff Milner from ULethbridge Faculty of Education on Vimeo.

Swimmers Go for Olympic Dreams at Canadian 2012 Trials

My friend and former roommate Richard Hortness is heading off to Montreal for the Olympic trials. He’s no longer living in Lethbridge but we wish him well. The Lethbridge club team has quite a few former swimmers also going to the meet, some of whom I’ve helped coach and/or shared the pool with. Here’s the news release from lethbridgeswimming.com:

Every four years, the Olympic Games stop the world. For a moment in time, the population across the globe, share in athletic glories, defeats, and Olympic stories. For 12 Lethbridge Swimmers, the dream of becoming an Olympian will be put to test in reality show called the Canadian Olympic 2012 Swimming Trials. The Trials will take place next week in Montreal, at the historic 1976 Montreal Olympic Pool. The pool is situated in Olympic Stadium, originally built for the 1976 Olympics and formerly home of the Montreal Expos.

For the Lethbridge contingent, the road to the Olympic Games began a decade ago. From initially jumping in the pool to learn four basic strokes fly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle, each athlete has worked to improve strength, endurance, speed, has refined stroke technique, has learned how to apply sport psychology, learned how to balance social and academics with athletics, and has paced up and down the pool several million kms. These athletes have raced on the national and international levels and have participated in training camps around the world, just to gain experience for this moment.

Through the process of diligent training, day to day, month to month, year to year these athletes have put themselves into contention. Competing at the Olympic Trials is comparable to making the NHL playoffs.

“The time is now,” says Head Coach Brad Mori. We have 12 qualified to compete at the Trials; Ryan Thornley, Kyle Troskot, Leah Troskot, Jeffrey Nicol, Rachel Nicol, Jessica Kelly, Kristy Gabruck, Mat Loyola, Matthew Mastromatteo, Tiha Konyves, David Errington, and Zack McAllister.

This is the largest contingent to ever represent Lethbridge at the Canadian Olympic Trials. “I think we are doing a good job of keeping kids engaged in the sport long enough for them to mature physically and mentally, they are able to realize their potential, and go about their day to day business more professionally. Swimmers are now hitting their prime in their mid to late twenties. Generally, the days of sending teenagers, with hormones and inconsistencies, to the Olympics Games is done. We are sending intelligent men and women, with a full set of tools.”

For Kyle Troskot, Zack McAllister, Jeffrey Nicol, and Rachel Nicol they will go into the meet with having experienced the Canadian Olympic Trials in 2008. “This is a different meet with different pressures than most competitions. For many swimmers their dream and career goal is on the line.” “It was the most exciting competition of my career” says Mori, who was a 1996 Olympic Trials Finalist and also competed at the 2000 Trials. “Having been in this moment 4 years ago, with the press and the hype, these kids will have the advantage of experience.”

Our top contenders will be Kyle Troskot, Rachel Nicol, and Zack McAllister. Both Kyle and Rachel are away at university this year, Kyle is at Texas A&M (2nd year) and Rachel as at Southern Methodist University (1st year). Zack is in his first year at University of Lethbridge and training with the Pronghorns. Both Kyle and Rachel will be fresh of performances at the NCAA championship. The fastest meet in the world should also provide added experience for the Olympic Trials next week. McAllister has had a great season, having competed at the Pan American Games in Mexico this past fall.

Pronghorns, Ryan Thornley, Jeffrey Nicol, and Jessica Kelly will be looking to crack the top 8 “A final”. “If you have a lane, you have a chance. Anything can happen. Every 4 years you see kids come out of the wood works, you see veterans come out of retirement for one last chance to make the team.”

To make the Canadian Team, swimmers must win or place second in the event and swim a time faster than the FINA “A” two per country time standard. Rachel Nicol has posted this standard previously, Kyle is itching closer. Zack will be competing for a spot on the Paralympic Team. “Unfortunately for Zack, we are still waiting on a classification appeal, and might not know if he has qualified until after the ruling has been made.”

The meet will run from March 27th to April 1st. Rogers Sportsnet will be covering the action live nightly from 7-8:00 pm Eastern time.

Update: Richard made the team! He’ll be competing for Canada in the 4×100 relay. As for the Lethbridge swimmers, there was a total of 39 personal best times with four swimmers making it into the finals—three placed in top eight.

Candidates Forum at the U of L

This is a bit old since it happened almost two weeks ago but I wanted to link to Jenn Prosser’s summary of the candidates forum at the University of Lethbridge.

She highlights my question to Jim Hillyer about the controversial fighter jets that the CPC is planning on purchasing. I think it’s funny that conservative supporters ask how the NDP can possible afford the millions of dollars it will cost for their social programs but I have yet to hear one questions the approximately $30 billion that will be slated for these jets. (It’s approximate because they haven’t told the public how much it will actually cost — some estimates predict it will be twice that price).

Check out Jenn’s great description of the night: A funny thing happened.

Hair

The University of Lethbridge is putting on the musical “Hair” (wikipedia entry). It runs from Tuesday, February 9th to Saturday the 15th. If you haven’t already, get your tickets fast because they’re almost sold out.

Hair tells the story of the “tribe”, a group of politically active, long-haired hippies of the “Age of Aquarius” living a bohemian life in New York City and fighting against conscription into the Vietnam War. Claude, his good friend Berger, their roommate Sheila and their friends struggle to balance their young lives, loves and the sexual revolution with their rebellion against the war and their conservative parents and society. Ultimately, Claude must decide whether to resist the draft as his friends have done, or to compromise his pacifistic principles and risk his life by serving in Vietnam.

Here’s the very local news coverage of the production:


Hair at the University of Lethbridge

I know a few of the actors and will be there opening night. It should be a lot of fun.

Social Website Bloggers

When I was down in San Fransisco a couple of years ago, I dropped into one of the first meetings of the Social Media Club.

While chatting with a group of strangers about social media, I mentioned how Stumble Upon had recently added a video section. One of the ladies was really enthralled and wanted to know just what you had to do to get her politically motivated video featured there.

My “clueless Internet marketing guru” radar was going off and I had to explain to her that videos don’t get put on there by work or money, they get put on there because Stumble Upon has an algorithm that calculates whether or not this video is something I’d like to see.

I explained that if you want your video to show up for me it would have to be something that is interesting enough for people with like-minded interests as me to give it a thumbs-up click. It’s an organic process that can’t be forced unless you are able to create a compelling video. I’m not sure I got through to her, and this saddens me, because I feel like I know tons more about how social media actually works and yet I see many of these self marketed Internet gurus that seem to know next to nothing.

My first thought when I heard that the University of Lethbridge has decided to jump on the social media marketing bandwagon is that hey, I’d be great at that job.

From the job listing as found on the U of L Notice Board:

Social Website Bloggers
$13/hour
5-10 hours per week starting in May
The successful candidates should be passionate about the UofL and eager to share their experiences, opinions and observations. They will maintain and update electronic social networking sites including, but not limited to, blogs, Twitter and Facebook. They will be expected, on a regular basis, to constructively comment on many of the happenings and experiences within the UofL and the City of Lethbridge.

My next thought when I read, “constructively comment” was that this is a bad idea. I wonder how tight the reins will be held on the winning applicant. In my mind, there’s really only a couple of ways this can turn out.

On the one hand, a paid blogger extolling the virtues of the perfect world existing at the U of L is going to come off as contrived, institutional in flavour, and won’t express the kind of unique ideas that will get the kind of attention the University is looking for in the first place. They might as well just save their money and keep pushing the kind of media they already publish.

On the other hand, if the new U of L blogger is free to present ideas about how they see the University run, unfavourable opinions may germinate and it could turn out to be a PR nightmare.

I still wish they had something like that when I went there because it sounds like a fun job. But if I were the person in charge of this position I would keep in mind this post from Matt Haughey, This is how Social Media really works. It’s not about paying someone to get on twitter, facebook, and blogger, it’s about putting together a quality product (in this case higher education) and letting the social network do its own thing.

And for the record, it’s U of L not UofL — that’s a total pet peeve of mine.

From Sea to Sea

I’ve been looking forward to meeting up with the U of L Cross Canada Bike Team, Vanessa Esau, Brett Holmes, and Kelly Kennedy. They began their ~60 days of cycling across Canada on June 21 and plan to finish the 7,500 kilometres on August 29.

Cross Ccanada Bike Team U of L

I know Brett from the U of L Water Polo league, and Kelly from my involvement as a director in the Alumni Association and I just happened to be in a first-aid class with them last month as they prepared for the trip. I’ll be over at the University while they are in Lethbridge for the meet and greet at noon to cheer them on (and serendipitously a free lunch).

The Sea 2 Sea cross-Canada biking team is making their way to Lethbridge!

All friends and family of the University of Lethbridge are invited to the Atrium on Wednesday, July 2nd at 12:00 noon for a FREE BBQ to cheer on the team as they arrive on campus and make their way down the pathway to the Atrium.

The Sea 2 Sea cycling group consists of U of L fourth-year student Vanessa Esau, employee and alumnus Brett Holmes (BMgt/BA 2008) and 2007/08 Students’ Union President Kelly Kennedy. The bikers are followed by U of L student Allan Hall in a noticeably decaled SEA 2 SEA van.

To learn more about the team, visit the notice board or to follow along on their journey and plan to meet up with them on their way see their blog University of Lethbridge Cross Canada Bike Tour (hint: check out the individual blog list in their sidebar).