Monday, January 30, 2012

UIS class gets sneak peek at Super Bowl

The menu at Sharloh Jackson’s Super Bowl party next Sunday will include an education, as well as her famous hot wings.

Jackson was among 22 students from the University of Illinois Springfield who traveled to Indianapolis on Tuesday for a behind-the-scenes look at how to host the world’s largest sporting event.

The class — an introduction to public relations — met with the Indianapolis Super Bowl Committee that has spent the past four years preparing their city for Super Bowl XLVI.

Ann Strahle, UIS assistant professor of communications, said she used her Indianapolis connections to give students exposure to a real public relations campaign.

“I wanted them to see a real-life example of (orchestrating an event of this size) — public relations, media relations, community relations, working with the police, travel, hotel,” the Indiana native said. “And how often do you get an opportunity like this?

The trip was featured in an January 29, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Prairie Stars' men's hoops team posts win in overtime

The University of Illinois Springfield men’s basketball team found itself playing overtime Thursday for the third time in the last seven games.

In their latest contest, the extra session belonged to the Prairie Stars. UIS pulled out a 57-51 victory over Maryville in a Great Lakes Valley Conference game at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

The Stars closed out the overtime period on a 10-2 run.

“We put ourselves in this position too many times, but we find ways to get a win,’’ UIS coach Ben Wierzba said. “We’ve just got to keep getting better.

“We’ve got to find ways to separate ourselves, but we’re making plays when we need to and we’re winning ballgames.’’

The win was featured in an January 27, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

One-time Saluki now a shooting Star at UIS

Jermaine Love-Roberts is hard to catch on the basketball court with his fleet feet, but the 6-foot-2 University of Illinois Springfield senior guard moves at a snail’s pace when it comes to other tasks.

“He can get out and run,” UIS men’s basketball coach Ben Wierzba said. “He can run like a gazelle. He’s just smooth with everything he does. We run the timed mile and he’s running sub-5-minute miles. We run sprints and he’s at the front of every sprint.”

Love-Roberts may tend to streak to the front of the pack in drills, but he’s often the last to leave the locker room following games and practices. He allows plenty of time for getting dressed and pays great attention to his physical appearance, as his perfectly manicured hands attest.

Those same hands are shooting 45.6 percent from the field (89-for-195) and 87 percent from the free line (67 of 77). They’ve also snagged 21 steals.

Love-Roberts was featured in an January 26, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

After six months, UIS chief getting to know her way around

University of Illinois Springfield student Dan Garcia gave Susan Koch her first tour of the UIS campus last April.

“She was very interested and personable, and she kept asking me what do the students do, where do they hang out?” said Garcia, a UIS junior from Joliet who works in the admissions office and gives tours to new students. “She’s from the Midwest, so all the cornfields around didn’t seem to bother her. She’s getting a lot of exposure.”

Koch, who was named chancellor of UIS last spring and assumed her duties July 1, has been learning all she can about UIS and Springfield during her first six months on the job.

“My goal for the first semester was to sink my roots as deeply as I could in the academic community and the larger community,” said Koch, a South Dakota native who had spent her academic career in Iowa and northern Michigan. “I’m moderately satisfied that I’ve done that. I’ve met many employees, but not all. And I’ve had wonderful interaction with students.”

Koch was profiled in an January 24, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

U of I professor uses Beatles as a teaching tool

Michael Cheney, a professor at the University of Illinois at Springfield, is no newcomer when it comes to computer classes.

The problem with online learning is that since students have different learning styles, you need to try different things to reach them, said Cheney. “Oral is one element. Since I’m not a big books-on-tape guy because I get tired of listening after 25 minutes, I suspected that students might be the same,” he said.

Cheney decided that three to five minutes was the ideal length for podcasts he offered to students. As a child of the 60s, Cheney mined the iconic Beatles for his podcast material. But Beatles history — not their music — is what he captured in the podcasts. “We covered subjects such as ‘Why Liverpool?’ and ‘What’s skiffle?’ among other topics,” he said. Cheney even devoted a four-minute podcast to the “Paul is Dead” controversy from the 60s.

At the end of 2010, Cheney’s Beatle podcast series was listed as the second most downloaded podcast on iTunes U, a service offered through Apple that distributes free educational content to students as well as anyone who finds a topic that interests them.

Cheney was featured in an January 20, 2012, Peoria Journal-Star blog post.

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UIS men make strong finish in win over Drury

It’s still a work in progress, but the University of Illinois Springfield men’s basketball team is showing it can close out a game.

UIS shut the door on Drury in the final two minutes of a Great Lakes Valley Conference game for a 75-70 win Saturday at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

The Stars have a 7-2 record in the last nine games and are riding a three-game winning streak.

“We’ve bought into the defensive things and we’re guarding,” UIS coach Ben Wierzba said. “When you guard, you put yourselves in position to win games and we’re doing that.”

The win was featured in an January 22, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

University of Illinois raises tuition by 4.8 percent

Guaranteed four-year tuition for incoming full-time students of the University of Illinois Springfield will increase 4.8 percent to $9,090 per year this fall.

The U of I Board of Trustees approved new tuition, housing and student fee structures for all three university campuses at a meeting in Chicago Thursday.

The board last year voted to limit tuition increases to no more or less than inflation rates for the past four years. The 2012-13 increase — for incoming in-state freshmen only — is the second to be established under the policy. It applies only to students who will be enrolling for the first time in the general undergraduate degree programs in May 2012 or after.

The cost for a double-occupancy room in Lincoln Residence Hall with a full meal plan at UIS will rise 2.1 percent, or $200, to $9,870 per year beginning with the 2012 school year.

The tuition increase amounts to $14 per credit hour for incoming Illinois-resident.

Fees will rise 2.1 percent, or $37, to $1,783 per year at UIS. UIS spokesman Derek Schnapp said the bulk of the fee increase — $24 per year — is in the general fee.

The increase was featured in an January 20, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Prairie Stars cruise past Missouri S&T

Running away from opponents hasn’t been the modus operandi for the University of Illinois Springfield men’s basketball team this season.

That all changed with the Prairie Stars’ 72-52 victory over Missouri S&T in a Great Lakes Valley Conference game Thursday night at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

The 8-9 Stars’ largest margin of victory before Thursday was 12 points.

UIS continues picking up wins. The Stars have won six of their last eight games. UIS sits in second place behind Missouri-St. Louis in the West Division of the GLVC standings with a 5-3 conference record.

The win was featured in an January 20, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Stars prove they can beat the elite

It wasn’t a win over a top 25 opponent, but it was pretty darn close.

The University of Illinois Springfield women’s basketball team posted a 64-58 victory over Missouri S&T in a Great Lakes Valley Conference game Thursday at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

Missouri S&T (11-4 overall, 6-2 in the GLVC) dropped out of USA Today/ESPN’s NCAA Division II rankings Tuesday. The Miners were rated 25th last week. It is the second major win in a row for the Stars (8-8, 3-5). UIS won 67-63 over Quincy on Monday.

“I told them, ‘We can play with anyone in this league,’’’ UIS third-year coach Marne Fauser said.

Carly Goede’s driving layup put UIS ahead 50-40 with 11 minutes 53 seconds left. It was the game’s sole double-digit lead.

The win was featured in an January 20, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

UIS surpasses $28M fundraising goal

The University of Illinois Springfield has surpassed its $28 million fundraising goal for the U of I’s Brilliant Futures Campaign.

To date, UIS has gifts, pledges and commitments totaling more than $28.4 million. The $28.4 million is nearly 90 percent more than what the university raised under the previous Campaign Illinois initiative that concluded in 2000.

The campaign, which began in July 2003, is designed to support students, faculty, programs and campus facilities.

“It’s pretty cool,” said Vicki Megginson, associate chancellor of UIS and senior vice president of the University of Illinois Foundation. “It’s the community’s success as well.”

“Brick by brick, step by step, UIS is growing into an excellent institution,” said Susan Koch, U of I vice president and UIS chancellor. “The Brilliant Futures Campaign has helped to transform UIS into a university of substance, known here in Illinois and on a national level.”

The announcement was featured in an January 14, 2012, report in The State Journal-Register.

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UIS students volunteering on MLK Day

Martin Luther King Jr. was honored Monday by some in central Illinois through a day of service.

Forty students from the University of Illinois at Springfield decided to honor Dr. King by volunteering Monday.

The students went door-to-door through lower income neighborhoods and handed out information regarding fire safety. The volunteers, who were partnered with the Red Cross, say there have been many fires in area the last few months and fire safety is an important issue.

The students say volunteering is a great way to contribute to the community while honoring the memory of the civil rights leader.

The story was featured by WAND-TV 17 in an January 16, 2012, report.

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MLK Day of Service in Springfield

Some University of Illinois Springfield students are hitting the streets. They're giving back to the community by raising awareness about fire safety.

UIS student spent the day Monday passing out Red Cross fire safety materials on the east side of Springfield as part of the national Martin Luther King. Jr. Day of Service.

"Most people automatically assume that someone knows how to be safe or what methods to use to prevent things from happening," said Damiko Reese, a UIS student.

But that's not always the case.

WCIA-TV featured the volunteer effort in an January 16, 2012, report.

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UIS men hold off Quincy for fifth win in seven games

The 2-7 start to the season for the University of Illinois Springfield men’s basketball team has been all but forgotten.

That’s because the Prairie Stars’ win column keeps growing. UIS has five victories in the last seven games, including a 62-59 win over Quincy in a Great Lakes Valley Conference contest Monday night at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

“That’s a good team win,’’ UIS coach Ben Wierzba said. “Lester (Hart) gets hurt. (Michael) Fakuade is in foul trouble. We’ve had a lot of guys step up and make plays for us. That’s the best thing I can say about our team. One through 13 . . . that locker room stepped up. Some way or another, they helped us win that ballgame."

The win was featured in an January 12, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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UIS women turn tables on Quincy

The ever-improving University of Illinois Springfield women’s basketball team is moving in the right direction again.

The Prairie Stars took a positive stride with a 67-63 victory over Quincy in a Great Lakes Valley Conference game Monday night at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

Prior to the win, Quincy had beaten UIS 11 straight times. The Stars hadn’t even come close to coming out on top.

The Hawks won all of the contests by double digits.

“I think they’re a really good program and obviously they have history of success,’’ UIS coach Marne Fauser said of Quincy.

“I’m really proud of my girls. I feel like they worked hard. They gave us their heart and effort. They left it all on the floor. I’m proud of our intensity and the way they played for 40 minutes.’’

The win was featured in an January 17, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Consider this before you pay for an online degree

For busy folks seeking a college or graduate degree, online education may seem like an attractive route that can cater to their lifestyles. Professionals with full-time jobs, for instance, may welcome the ability to squeeze in classes after work or on lunch breaks, while parents juggling kids' schedules can coordinate their learning around elementary school pickups and soccer practices.

There tend to not be as many scholarships for online learners as there are for traditional learners, but some opportunities do exist. Institutions including the University of Illinois--Springfield report to U.S. News that they offer scholarships, grants, fellowships, or assistantships to distance learners.

Online learners with financial need are also eligible for federal grants such as the Pell, which funds up to $5,550 a year for the neediest students. Just like traditional students, distance learners must complete the FAFSA in order to receive any federal aid. The 2012-2013 version has been available since January 1.

UIS online scholarships were featured in an January 13, 2012, article by the Huffington Post.

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UIS men rallies past Wisconsin-Parkside

The University of Illinois Springfield erased an eight-point deficit in the second half and rallied for a 79-68 victory over Wisconsin-Parkside in a Great Lakes Valley Conference men’s basketball game Thursday.

UIS (6-8 overall, 3-2 in the GLVC) trailed 46-38 with 13 minutes 9 seconds remaining. But the Prairie Stars would take the lead for good on a 3-pointer and a free throw by Jermaine Love-Roberts with 7:55 left. That would spark a 14-6 run by UIS, giving the Stars their third win in the conference.

The win was featured in an January 13, 2012, edition of The State Journal-Register.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Prisoner Review Board asked to exonerate dead man

Police officers Paul Echols and Jimmy Smith did something Wednesday they’ve never done before – ask the Illinois Prisoner Review Board to exonerate a man.

Echols, a retired Carbondale officer and Smith, a detective from Cape Girardeau, Mo., were among the witnesses trying to clear the name of Grover Thompson, who died in prison while serving a 40-year sentence for attempted murder. Thompson’s advocates say he didn’t commit the crime.

No one at Wednesday’s hearing spoke against Thompson’s exoneration. The Prisoner Review Board will make a recommendation to Gov. Pat Quinn, who will ultimately decide the case.

Echols wrote a book about Krajcir that included a chapter about Thompson. The book and Thompson’s case drew the attention of an intern with the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project at the University of Illinois Springfield, which has pressed for clemency for Thompson.

“The injustice in this case is huge,” said director Larry Golden.

The case was featured in an January 12, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Advocates: Clear wrongly convicted man

S.T. Jamison, a Minneapolis special education teacher, told members of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board that it was highly unlikely Grover Thompson could have physically committed the 1981 crime against Ida White because of a leg injury that left him hobbled.

"He actually dragged his leg as he walked," Jamison said Wednesday.

The testimony came as part of a hearing aimed at exonerating Thompson of the crime. Jamison joined representatives of the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project and two police detectives in telling the board that convicted serial killer Timothy Krajcir has confessed to stabbing White.

Krajcir is serving life in prison for two Southern Illinois murders and admitted to additional murders in Missouri, Kentucky and Pennsylvania.

The case was featured in an January 12, 2012, article in The Southern Illinoisan.

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Fighting for exoneration of a convict long dead

A veteran cop. A reporter. Students bent on exposing flaws in the criminal justice system.

An unusual alliance has teamed up to prove the system got it wrong three decades ago when Grover Thompson, a mentally ill man with few chances in life, was sent to prison for 40 years.

Redemption, if it comes, will be too late for Thompson, who died 15 years ago in prison, still a quarter-century short of completing his sentence for attempted murder in the stabbing an elderly woman in Mt. Vernon.

A spot of blood found on a pocket knife Thompson was carrying proved so small that authorities could not identify a blood type, according to research by the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project, a University of Illinois Springfield program aimed at reversing wrongful convictions.

The case was featured in an January 12, 2012, article in the Illinois Times.

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Group petitions board arguing for man's innocence

He's been called Timothy Krajcir's tenth victim.

Today a group lead by the Downstate Innocence Project fought for Grover Thompson, a man they believe was wrongfully convicted of a crime the serial killer confessed to.

Wednesday, SIU law students, police from Carbondale and Cape Girardeau along with Grover Thompson's family petitioned the Illinois Prisoner Review Board in the state capitol arguing for Thompson's innocence.

The board of two men and two women gave the group 25 minutes to present evidence of why they think Grover Thompson should be exonerated.

The case was featured by KFVS-TV in an January 11, 2012, report.

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Fighting for Justice

The Downstate Illinois Innocence Project is fighting for justice. It's hoping to get convictions dropped against a man who died in prison.

Grover Thompson was serving time for attempted murder. He's accused of trying to kill Ida White. She was stabbed repeatedly in her home.

Thompson was convicted of the crime even though police had little evidence. In 2007, another man admitted to the crime. Now the group is asking the state to exonerate Thompson.

The case was featured by WCIA-TV in an January 11, 2012 report.

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Petitioners argue at Grover Thompson clemency hearing in Springfield

A group is trying to clear the name of Grover Thompson.

The Prisoner Review Board is considering whether to recommend a posthumous clemency for Thompson, who was convicted of killing Ida White in Mount Vernon in 1981.

Petitioners argued their case before the Prisoner Review Board Wednesday in Springfield.

Retired Carbondale police investigator Paul Echols connected another man to White's murder. Echols was investigating a cold case - that of SIU-Carbondale student Deborah Shepard - when he came across Timothy Krajcir. Eventually, Krajcir confessed to killing White. Echols says Thompson wasn't treated fairly during his trial.

Echols collaborated with several SIU-Carbondale law students and the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project to help get Thompson a clemency hearing.

The case was featured by WSIU Public Radio in an January 11, 2012, report.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Focus with Bob Murray: Chancellor Susan Koch

University of Illinois Vice President and Springfield Chancellor Susan J. Koch is interviewed by Bob Murray from WTAX radio in Springfield on a variety of issues.

The interview aired on January 8, 2012, as part of the weekend news program "Focus".

Listen to the interview online

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Area Colleges: Egolf named to third team

University of Illinois Springfield junior Erin Egolf has been named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Women’s College Scholar All-Central third team.

Egolf, a Chatham Glenwood High School graduate, is a business management major who boasts a 3.73 grade-point average.

On the field she led UIS with 15 points, scoring six goals and recording three assists in 2011.

The award was featured in an January 10, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Monday, January 9, 2012

Historic farmhouse at UIS gets a new lease on life

If you want to accomplish the impossible, just tell Tom Bundy it can’t be done.

Bundy has been working to restore the Strawbridge-Shepherd House at the University of Illinois Springfield. He also has worked on a number of other historic buildings in central Illinois, including the Elijah Iles House in Springfield.

Most thought the Strawbridge-Shepherd House, built around 1845, was beyond repair, and it was in danger of being torn down.

Members of the Elijah Iles House Foundation decided the house deserved a second look.

The foundation worked out a lease with UIS to keep the Strawbridge-Shepherd property from being demolished. The lease arrangement is $1 per year for 10 years with the option of extending the agreement, according to UIS.

The restoration was featured in an January 6, 2012, article in Springfield's Own Magazine.

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Pettiford sends UIS men to OT win

Kevin Pettiford converted a three-point play with 10 seconds left in overtime to give the University of Illinois Springfield a 97-94 victory over Saint Joseph’s College in a Great Lakes Valley Conference men’s basketball game Saturday at The Recreation and Athletic Center.

With the game tied at 94, Pettiford made a layup and was fouled by Jade Anthrop. Pettiford converted the free throw to give UIS a 97-94 lead, and Saint Joseph’s Corey Clifton missed a 3-point attempt at the buzzer.

Jermaine Love-Roberts had a team-high 26 points and 13 rebounds for the Prairie Stars (5-8 overall, 2-3 in the GLVC). West Dawson added 19 points, Kyle Gupton scored 14 and Lester Hart had 11.

Pettiford, a 5-foot-10 junior guard from Belleville, finished with seven points.

The win was featured in an January 8, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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Friday, January 6, 2012

Ed Wojcicki co-authors book on Ill. politics

A former Review Atlas editor has co-authored a new book about Illinois politics. It is called ‘Nobody Calls Just to Say Hello: Reflections on Twenty-Two Years in the Illinois Senate.’

The book was written by former Illinois state Senator Philip J. Rock (D-Oak Park) and co-authored by Ed Wojcicki, who was a Review Atlas reporter from 1977-78, the marketing director at Security Savings & Loan from 1979-80 and then the Review Atlas editor from 1980-85. The book gives an insider’s perspective on both Chicago and Illinois politics of the 1970s and 1980s. Rock was Illinois Senate President for 14 years (1979-93), longer than anyone in Illinois history.

Wojcicki worked with Rock on the book for seven years. Southern Illinois University Press published the book last month.

Wojcicki, who moved to Springfield in 1985, got acquainted with Rock in the 1990s during the 10-year period when he was publisher of Illinois Issues magazine at the University of Illinois Springfield. Wojcicki, 57, is now in administration at UIS.

The book was featured in an January 4, 2012, article by the Monmouth Review Atlas.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Value ranking will aid UIS recruitment, chancellor says

A recent survey recognizing the University of Illinois Springfield as one of the top college values in the country could sway students to UIS, chancellor Susan Koch said Tuesday.

Kiplinger’s Personal Finance for 2012 ranked UIS 85th among public colleges in the nation based on cost/financial aid, student debt, competitiveness, graduation rates and academic support. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (27th) was the only other college in the state to be ranked in the Top 100.

This was the first time UIS has been recognized by the magazine.

“There is no doubt this gives us a leg up on recruiting in the state,” Koch said. “Parents, students and teachers pay attention to this particular ranking.”

Fall enrollment at UIS in 2011 topped 5,000 students for the second year in a row.

The ranking was featured in an January 4, 2012, article in The State Journal-Register.

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UIS earns spot in Kiplinger value rankings

The UI Springfield benefited from Kiplinger's reweighted criteria, as well as a relatively low student-faculty ratio of 14-to-1, senior associate editor Marc Wojno said.

"It obviously indicates students have more time with teachers in one-on-one academic study. And it is less expensive," Wojno said.

Illinois residents pay $8,670 on average a year for undergraduate tuition at the Springfield campus, and nearly 70 percent of students receive some form of financial aid. The "sticker price" for in-state residents is $19,702, or $11,489 after financial aid. The freshmen retention rate is 76 percent.

Susan Koch, vice president and chancellor of the UI Springfield, said students get a UI degree at an affordable cost "while at the same time experiencing the intimate learning environment that is the hallmark of the UIS experience."

The ranking was spotlighted in an January 4, 2012, article in the Champaign News-Gazette.

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Mallory Beck helping lead UIS

UIS women's basketball is 6-4 this year and the heart of its team is a player who doesn't get the most minutes or score the most points.

It’s almost cliché to hear a coach talk about a player’s commitment to the team, but Mallory Beck’s story may change your mind. On the surface she looks like any other two-sport athlete.

“I grew up with two brothers and they’ve been pushing me around and playing basketball forever it seems like,” said Beck.

But what you can’t see is her insulin pump. You see Beck has diabetes.

“I was diagnosed when I was six and I really don’t know anything different. It’s been part of my life forever,” said Beck.

Beck's story was featured by WCIA-TV in an January 3, 2012, report.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Schoenburg: An enlightening take on Illinois politics

Former Senate President PHIL ROCK commanded attention when he spoke on the Senate floor, and his political memoir highlights in interesting detail who was who and how things got done during his time in government and politics.

“Nobody Calls Just to Say Hello: Reflections on Twenty-Two Years in the Illinois Senate,” was written with ED WOJCICKI, associate chancellor for constituent relations at the University of Illinois Springfield. The book, published by Southern Illinois University Press, lists for $29.95.

Wojcicki says he had to convince Rock, 74, who was in the Senate from 1971 to 1993, including the last 14 years as Senate president, that the project would help document the workings of the state.

Wojcicki interviewed Rock 28 times and talked to several other political players as well. The project took about seven years, Wojcicki said.

The book was featured by Bernard Schoenburg in an December 29, 2011, edition of The State Journal-Register.

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