Puerto Rico

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The Longhorns signed three top recruits for the 2013 season at the start of the summer. The newcomers include setter Chloe Collins, outside hitter Pilar Victoria Lopez from Puerto Rico and middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu.

"This is a great class for our program and we are thrilled with the quality of the young women we have acquired," head coach Jerritt Elliott said. "Each one of them has the ability to come in and compete from day one."

The new team members will join the defending champion Longhorns which will have 11 letter winners returning from the championship squad.

Collins recorded 305 kills, 51 aces, 318 digs, 1,313 assists and 62 blocks in her senior season at Cypress Woods High School in Cypress, Texas and earned Under Armour High School All-American First Team honors. Collins enrolled at UT for the spring 2013 semester and played through the spring season.

"She is a natural setter with great speed, vertical jump and body control in the air," Elliott said. “She may be one of the best pure athletes I have ever coached."

Lopez, from Caguas, Puerto Rico, was named the country’s top prospect in the sport for 2012.  She will compete for both the 2013 Puerto Rico Junior National team and the Puerto Rico Adult National team this year.

"She is a very smooth player that has the complete game," Elliott said.  “She has played at a very high level and her experience can help this team in 2013 and beyond."

Ogbogu was also a 2012 Under Armour All-American and played with Collins. Ogbogu was also awarded the 2012 Gatorade Texas Volleyball Player of the Year.

Ogbogu helped Coppell High School in Coppell, Texas win back to back Texas 5A State Championships in 2011 and 2012 and recorded 486 kills, 144 blocks with a .555 hitting percentage in her senior season.

Elliott said Ogbogu will continue a Texas tradition of strong middle blockers.

“She is a smooth athlete that touches 10'-7" and with growth, has the potential to develop into one of the premier players in the nation,” Elliot said.


World Baseball Classic recap: What we learned

Nothing ephemerally quenches a baseball fan’s thirst for the start of the season than baseball, itself. And no, I’m not talking about the overdone, lengthy mess that is spring training. The World Baseball Classic brings a pride aspect to the game but at the same time, provides the entertainment and star power that the Olympics can’t. To those who refuse to give the event a chance, and believe it is not high quality, competitive baseball, take it from the actual players involved: after the U.S. loss to Puerto Rico, Brandon Philips admitted that he wanted the WBC title.

“I’ve got to go back to Goodyear, which I don’t want to do, so it sucks man. I wanted to go to San Francisco so bad,” Team USA and Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips told reporters.

“This has to be right up there with an Olympic gold medal. This is as good as it gets,” former All-Star outfielder and current Dominican Republic general manager Moises Alou said following the Dominican's capturing of the WBC crown.

Some fans may be against the event because it risks the chance that their favorite player or a player on their favorite team could get hurt. However, that decision is and should be up to the player and his team. Fans should realize that players are human too and they don’t play the game to attract fans. Baseball is played because for the love of the game, because it’s America’s Game.

Here's what we learned:

Latin America owns the U.S.

2013 was another disappointing year for the U.S. in the World Baseball Classic. Sure, the Classic has only been played three times, but one would think that the U.S., boasting the best baseball league in the world, should have won the title by now. I understand that winning a title is tough no matter what the circumstances are, but the U.S. has made it to the semifinals once in three years and again failed to make it this year. On their road to a 3-3 record this year, all three of its losses came to Latin American teams, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Lastly, it was an all-Latin American title this year, as the Dominicans defeated Puerto Rico. I don’t believe that the Latin American necessarily have greater talent than the U.S. does, but they do play with more energy and intensity compared to the United States and as seen at the games, the fans follow suit.

“No doubt they have the best team... by names...But we play with a lot of heart," Rangers and Dominican Republican outfielder Nelson Cruz said."

The WBC has its own antics and personality

How could you not love Fernando Rodney’s lucky plantain? Recent reports claim it to be a fraud, taken from a fan in the stands, instead of flown in from the D.R. like originally reported. But it gave the Classic a competitive, personal touch that it had previously lacked.

On the other hand, an ugly sight broke out in the ninth inning of Canada and Mexico’s pool play game. Canada was already pounding Mexico when Canada’s Chris Robinson laid down a bunt single. Mexican pitcher, Arnold Leon, then proceeded to throw at Rene Tosoni, Canada’s next batter, on three straight pitches, and finally hit him on the third. An ugly brawl full of fisticuffs and takedowns erupted and several players were ejected. Canada’s pitching coach, Denis Boucher, was even hit in the head with a full water bottle, thrown by a Mexican fan in the stands.

Of course, Mexico thought Canada was piling on the hits and runs when the bunt single was laid down, but the reason for Robinson’s action is that teams are ranked in their pools based on how many runs they score, so in a way, Canada was just playing the game. Therefore, the Mexicans showed some ignorance to understanding of the rule and made themselves look like sore losers after throwing at Robinson.

Despite the misjudgment that some fans showed during the brawl, I’m sure many who watched the WBC can agree that the fans were one of the best features of the entire event. With its own culture and personality, each different group of fans brought a different beat and sound to the stimulating background noise never heard at a typical MLB game. Everything from the vuvuzelas to the nonstop chants and displays of energy makes the fans very deserving of praise for their dedication and passion to their respective teams and countries.

World Baseball Classic set to wind down Tuesday night with Dominican Republic-Puerto Rico final

And with the blink of an eye, the last two weeks of madness in the World Baseball Classic is set to wind down Tuesday night, pitting the powerhouse Dominican Republic squad against the somewhat Cinderella team from Puerto Rico.

Both teams made it out of the loaded pool C to advance to the quarter-finals in Miami a week ago. Puerto Rico took a misstep in their first game, losing to the Americans 7-1. The Dominican Republic had a dramatic comeback against team Italy, finally squeaking by and winning 5-4. With the Americans and Dominicans both winning their first game, they each got the right to square off against one and other for the right to advance to the semi-finals, leaving the other to play in an elimination game against the Puerto Ricans after they had eliminated Italy the day before. The Dominicans won a tight one, edging the Americans 2-1, scoring the go ahead run in the top of the ninth and advanced in the tournament. The Puerto Ricans got their chance at redemption against team USA, and won the elimination game 4-3, sending them on to the semi-finals and sending the Americans back to their respective Spring Training venues.

Once the venue switched to the West Coast out at AT&T Park in San Francisco, the final four teams standing from the original field of 16 where the Latin American clubs from pool C, Japan and the Netherlands. Japan returned to America looking to keep their perfection intact in the WBC, winning the only other two tournaments in its brief history. It was there the Puerto Ricans shocked not only Japan but the rest of the baseball world when they took down the Japanese by a score 3-1, placing themselves in the championship game. The Dominican Republic kept their perfect record intact and moved to 7-0 in the tournament by dispatching the Dutch, setting up the all Latin American final set to go down tonight out by the Bay.

The Dominicans are favored and will be led on the mound Samuel Deduno. Deduno has been solid this far in the tournament, and matches up well with the relatively weak lineup of the Puerto Ricans. Puerto Rico will send Giancarlo Alvarado to the mound in hopes of slowing down the powerful lineup of the Dominican Republic. Alvarado is sporting a 2.16 ERA in the WBC, but the task of slowing down Jose Reyes, Robinson Cano, Hanley Ramirez, Edwin Encarnacion and others is daunting to say the least.  

This is the third game the two teams have played against each other up to this point in the tournament, with the Domincans winning both by a combined score of 6-2. Puerto Rico will have to hope the clock doesn’t strike midnight on them before the ninth inning tonight, or their magical run will come crashing down as they watch their fierce rival celebrate their first World Baseball Classic title right in front of their very eyes.

The four-event win streak that the Texas Longhorns men’s golf team has been riding since mid-September is in serious danger of ending, as it trails by 25 shots through two rounds of play in the Puerto Rico Invite.

No. 1 Texas sits in ninth place out of fifteen teams after the second day in Rio Mar, Puerto Rico, with Alabama leading the way with a two-day score of 555 (-4). The Longhorns have shot a 580 (+4) thus far and will need a strong performance on the third day of play in order to make a climb up the leaderboard.

Senior Dylan Frittelli and sophomore Toni Hakula have led the way for the Longhorns, as each has shot a score of 2-under-142 through two rounds, good for an eighth place tie on the individual standings. Frittelli has yet to finish outside of the top ten list for individual scorers in his previous five tournaments and he is on pace to accomplish that feat for a sixth consecutive event.

No other Longhorn has shot below par thus far, with junior Julio Vegas being Texas’ third leading scorer with a 2-over-146. Junior Cody Gribble has shot a 150 (+6) in two days, while freshman Kramer Hickok tallied a 152 (+8) for the Longhorns.

Georgia Tech’s James White is the leading scorer in the event, shooting a 136 (-8) through two days. Alabama’s Bobby Wyatt and Justin Thomas are tied for second place after each scoring a 138 (+6) and are a large part of why the Roll Tide leads the tournament by 13 shots over second-place Purdue.

Texas has been without freshman Jordan Spieth, college’s top-ranked golfer, for this tournament, as he competed in a PGA Tour event over the weekend. The Longhorns have yet to lose a tournament that Spieth has competed in this season, as he missed their only loss of the year in September at the Walker Cup.

The Longhorns have one more day to close the gap in Puerto Rico, and a quest for a fifth consecutive victory will be one of great difficulty. Texas tees off at 5:30 a.m. in a shotgun start.

Printed on Tuesday, February 21, 2012 as: Without Spieth, Longhorns' lengthy win streak in danger of ending in Puerto Rico

Coming off a fourth consecutive event victory two weeks ago in Kohala Coast, Hawaii, the Longhorns men’s golf team will look to make it five wins in a row this week at the Purdue/Puerto Rico Invite.

The three-day event will be held in Rio Mar, Puerto Rico and will kick off on Feb. 19. No. 1 Texas, which has not lost since its first tournament in mid-September, is the favorite of a 15-team field that also includes No. 7 Georgia Tech and No. 8 Alabama.

This will mark the second tournament of the 2012 spring season for the Longhorns. Texas led after every round in the first tournament of the new year, the Amer Ari Invitational, and it will look to build on that success this week.

This season the Longhorns have been led by freshman Jordan Spieth, the top-ranked collegiate golfer, but will likely be without his skills in this event. Spieth will be taking part in the PGA Tour’s Northern Trust Open in Pacific Palisades, Calif. on Feb. 16-19.

Without Spieth, senior Dylan Frittelli will likely have to shoulder the load for the Longhorns. Frittelli, the second-ranked golfer in the NCAA, has finished among the top 10 individual golfers in each of Texas’ five tournaments this season.

The Longhorns have been the NCAA’s most consistent golf team this season, and they are hopeful to continue their win streak this week in Puerto Rico.

Printed on Friday, February 17, 2012 as: Without Spieth, Horns go abroad to face top teams

Johnny Depp and writer/director Bruce Robinson speak a screening of their new film The Rum Diary in the Student Activities Center Saturday evening. Based off the original book of the same name, The Rum Diary follows a young Hunter S. Thompson through his adventures as a journalist in Puerto Rico.

Photo Credit: Allen Otto | Daily Texan Staff

Renowned actor Johnny Depp said journalism has become a big business based on selling a product instead of telling the truth at an exclusive screening of his new film, “The Rum Diary.”

Moderated by radio-television-film professor John Pierson, the Saturday screening took place at the Student Activity Center and included a discussion with Depp, who produced and starred in the film, and director Bruce Robinson. Depp has been working on the film, based on a book of the same name by the novelist and journalist Hunter S. Thompson, for more than 10 years. He said he hopes students will understand the struggle Thompson went through to find his own voice against big corporations.

“The voice he found was one of rage,” Depp said. “[Here] was a guy that cared so much that he had to rail against the authority that pushed the world into its corner.”

Thompson’s legacy includes the creation of a new style of writing called gonzo journalism in the 1960s, a subjective style of reporting often told in first-person narrative. He wrote “The Rum Diary” in 1959 based on his own experiences with American capitalism in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and published it in 1998.

Depp said the core of the film was what enraged Thompson after the U.S. embargoed Cuban goods and began commercializing Puerto Rico. When asked about what Thompson would think about the current Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Austin protests, Depp said Thompson would probably be supportive and doing “Snoopy dances.”

In relation to the film, which exposes the influence of American corporations in Puerto Rico and on the news media, Depp said Thompson would say journalism is in a bad place today.

“[Journalism] is on par with the [corporations] on Wall Street,” Depp said. “It’s about selling the truth but really selling something people want to buy.”

Depp first came to Austin in 1993 for his lead role in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.” He came into town for the Austin Film Festival and won the festival’s first award for extraordinary contribution to film in acting.

“I don’t really recognize the place anymore,” Depp said. “When you go around Sixth Street you go, ‘Okay, this looks familiar.’ I had great experiences here, and I love this joint.”

Robinson, who came out of retirement to make the film, said he believed journalism had become a business of people shouting fear and horror in his ears. Robinson said when he was a child in the United Kingdom there were two competing newspapers in Russia. When he asked his schoolteacher who was telling the truth, his teacher said neither told the truth.

Robinson said that all the media covers nowadays is fear and that the first time he read Thompson’s book, he felt enraged at the relationship corporations have with the media.

“The only time you ever feel comfortable [in media] is in the [advertising universe], where you see people cuddling with their kids in the living room,” Robinson said. “It worries me — the ads are the one great thing, and everything else is terrible.”

More than 400 students and faculty attended the screening. The film was also shown at universities in Kansas, Washington, Arizona, Indiana and Illinois, where students were allowed to text in questions for Depp and Robinson.

Bob Berney, UT alumnus and president of the film’s distributor FilmDistrict, said Depp pushed to show the film at UT because he felt students would be able to identify with Thompson and his work. He also said it was very important for Depp to make the film after Thompson’s suicide in 2005. Berney graduated from UT with a radio-television-film degree in 1977.

Berney said the screening was FilmDistrict’s first satellite tour, and the company will continue to partner with UT in the future.

Radio-television-film junior Alexandra Prather was the first in line to see Depp at the screening. Prather showed up at the SAC at 8 a.m. for the 6:30 p.m. program because she was afraid she wouldn’t get a seat. Prather said that the first time she saw Depp was in “Edward Scissorhands” and that she loved seeing him portray a character that was a little darker but was normal at the core.

“He’s been one of my idols since I was little, and I never thought a person like Johnny Depp would come to Austin,” Prather said. “I’ve never met a celebrity before, but I’d like to be respectful because he’s a human being just like everybody else.”

Printed on Monday, October 24m 2011 as: Depp screens 'Rum Diary' for students

Heritage Austin

The blessed, wooden warrior drum rests quietly in the costume closet of the Puerto Rican Folkloric Dance Center in Austin. Hand-chiseled by the chief of his mother’s native Puerto Rican tribe, the Taino, the instrument is just one way 14-year-old William Maynard maintains a bond with his native land which he has only visited once.

In the hub of an East Austin neighborhood on Tillery Street, the Puerto Rican Folkloric Dance Center is the only community center for Puerto Ricans in the Southwest. The nonprofit center offers 12 classes per week on traditional dances and music, including lessons for the large bomba drum and the small cuatro guitar, two of the island’s national instruments.

On a typical Saturday morning at the center, sharp afro-beats fill the dance room as girls in billowing skirts sashay to the rhythm. Their parents sit on benches, watching from a glass window, while soft chords strummed from the cuatro play from another practice room.
“We’re not going to have the largest Puerto Rican community in Austin, but the fact that we are in the center is very significant,” said Dr. Ana Maria Maynard, William’s mother and founder of the center.

Located within the heart of Texas, Austin makes it easy for those in surrounding cities to drive to events and classes, she added.
If a corridor is drawn from Dallas to Houston, containing Killeen, Austin and San Antonio, those cities are home to 81 percent of the Puerto Ricans in Texas, Maynard said.

Since the economy has fallen drastically in the last five years in Puerto Rico, more and more people are leaving the island to find jobs in the states, Maynard said, with most migrating to Texas. According to the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, Texas has the fastest growing Puerto Rican population.

“Every time I turn around, I’m meeting new people,” Maynard said. “So it’s hard to know how many people we have here, because if we look at the numbers from 2000, it’s not going to reflect at all.”

According to the 2000 U.S Census Bureau, there are 69,504 Puerto Ricans in Texas, which is 0.3 percent of Texas’ total population. The Census Bureau has not yet published Puerto Rican demographics for 2010.

Maynard said what attracts the people to Texas is its similarities to the island: warm weather, low cost of living and a large Hispanic community. A family-oriented culture, she said, Puerto Ricans like to stay close together.

“What happens with the Puerto Rican community is that once you start having friends and relatives coming, they follow because we like to be together,” Maynard said. “We’d rather go somewhere where we know people then to go somewhere and be alone.”

When Maynard came to Austin 20 years ago to work for IBM, there was nothing in Austin for Puerto Ricans, she said. The closest thing to home that she could get, she said, was the Mexican community and the fellow dance members of Ballet Folklorico de Mexico.

“It was a wonderful experience to be embraced by a community that was not mine,” she said.

However, when Maynard had her son William, she realized it was not enough.

“I started to think about my heritage and how I grew up and all things that were meaningful to me that made me the person
that I am today,” Maynard said. “I realized by living here in Austin, my son would not have any of that.”

She said she remembers watching cultural performances at an international fair at Concordia University 14 years ago with her newborn. China, Mexico and Scotland all had dancers representing their country and culture, but there were no Puerto Rican dancers.

“I’m looking at my son and feeling so bad that I had all this knowledge about my culture, but I wasn’t doing anything that would help him learn and appreciate it,” she said.

That was the moment she said she promised she would do something.

She spent the next nine months engineering a plan and held her first traditional Puerto Rican dance class that fall.

Fourteen years later, the program has grown from a small classroom of six students, half of which were Maynard’s friends, to a center frenzied by children’s laughter and footsteps. And Maynard’s mission has extended from just teaching song and dance to upholding the connection to Puerto Rico, starting with the youth.

“To see all the children really embrace their heritage, it’s rewarding,” Maynard said.

Mens Golf

Texas is once again island hopping — the team travels to the Rio Mar Beach Resort to compete in the Puerto Rico Classic this Sunday.

The Longhorns finished second in their last outing, the Amer Ari Invitational in Kohala Coast, Hawaii. Senior Bobby Hudson and sophomore Cody Gribble led a late push and each finished in the top 10. Those two, plus juniors Dylan Frittelli and Adam Wennerstrom and freshman Toni Hakula, start for Texas in this weekend’s three-day tournament.

At this point in the season, Texas has not finished worse than ninth place in any team event and is No. 6 in the most recent Golfweek Magazine rankings.

The Longhorns are no strangers in Puerto Rico — they beat perennial powerhouse Oklahoma State by six strokes to win the last Puerto Rico Classic. The top-ranked Cowboys, along with many more of the nation’s best teams, will be looking for revenge.

“The field for this event is tremendous, as usual,” said Texas head coach John Fields. “We like to play against the best teams in the country, and this is another opportunity to do that.”

The Longhorns will play on the River Course of the Wyndham Rio Mar Beach Resort, a course designed by golf legend Greg Norman. Norman’s first Caribbean course design stretches more than 6,900 yards and features wide fairways, open greens and shallow bunkers. This design should lend itself to lower scores for everyone in the event.

“It’s a golf course that some of our guys are familiar with, though we’ll be taking two guys who are not familiar with the course,” Fields said.

The two newcomers to the course, Wennerstrom and Hakula, will have to learn the terrain quickly, as nearly all of the teams from last year’s field are back. Along with Oklahoma State, No. 4 Alabama, No. 5 Georgia Tech and 14th-ranked Georgia return, plus host school Purdue.

Winning a second-straight Puerto Rico Classic against such stiff competition is a tall order, and Fields knows it.

“If we play really good golf, we will have a chance to win,” he said. “We’ve prepared as best we can, and we will see where that leads us.”