2015. 11. 27
Leadership in Action: Freshman wins Wilder City Council seat
In the 1939 classic Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, the wholesome Jefferson Smith gets picked as the replacement for a recently deceased senator. Smith, who has no background in politics, says “I can’t but help feeling that there’s been a big mistake somehow.”
College of Idaho freshman Ismael Fernandez had the same feeling when, upon the closing of election booths on the first Tuesday of November, results showed he had won a seat on the Wilder City Council.
“I thought, ‘there has to be a mistake,’” Fernandez said.
Fernandez didn’t just win the five-person race for one of two open seats; he was the top overall vote getter (60), taking home 25.42 percent of the vote. It was a pleasant surprise for a 19-year-old, who campaigned for three days before the election, ran against a 24-year incumbent and faced challengers who were older and had lived in Wilder longer.
After double-checking the results, Fernandez went to his grandmother and told her he’d officially won. Tears rolled down her face as she told him how proud she was. Congratulations from friends and family soon poured in via phone calls, text messages and Facebook posts.
“I didn’t expect first place,” he said. “I didn’t really expect second place.”
The journey to becoming a city councilman started long before this summer, when retiring Wilder Mayor John Bechtel—who told Fernandez he would one day be mayor of Wilder—encouraged him to run for the position. It started long before Fernandez learned an incumbent councilman was not seeking re-election, and long before he talked with influential members of the Wilder community and learned he’d have their support if he ran.
It started as a young child with a deep interest in politics and government.
“It almost seems overnight, one day I woke up and thought politics and government were interesting,” Fernandez said.
In fourth grade, Fernandez decided he was going to be president of the United States. Two years later, when President Barack Obama was elected, Fernandez thought that if America could elect its first African-American president, there was a good chance a Latino like himself could get elected.
Initially taking an interest in congressional politics, Fernandez gradually focused his attention on state and local politics. He worked with local legislators to push a bullying bill through the state legislature in 2011. After being bullied in grade school and having to switch middle schools, Fernandez wanted to make sure no one else would endure the same experiences.
“You can either let [bullying] get to you, or you can choose to do something,” Fernandez said. “I chose to do something.”
The bill failed in 2011 and 2012, but an amended version passed this year.
Fernandez also was appointed in 2014 to the Idaho Juvenile Justice Commission, which aims to protect Idaho’s children and give them the opportunity to be productive, contributing citizens. And, he’s been on the Wilder Fourth of July committee for two years.
“There has always been an interest in helping my community and being a voice for people who otherwise would be voiceless,” Fernandez said.
His heart for people and honesty has always been evident, even as a young kid. Mayor Bechtel can remember a young Fernandez helping at the foodbank with his grandmother. It’s those sincere qualities that led Bechtel to think Fernandez could become mayor one day.
But even Bechtel was surprised to see Fernandez receive the most votes on Election Day, mainly due to his age.
“I think it’s a great accomplishment,” Bechtel said. “It speaks a lot for him. He got out, he campaigned, he prepared himself and justly got the job.”
Campaigning door-to-door, Fernandez enjoyed talking with his community of 1,500 people and hearing the concerns they have for their city. And he already has goals in mind for his first four years in office; he wants improve transportation in Wilder, see how the city can foster growth, and put youth development programs together and get kids interested in government—he’s leading that charge by example.
When Fernandez takes his seat on the council Jan. 12, the C of I Spanish and history double major will be making history as one of the youngest elected officials in the history of Idaho. Stepping into his new role will come with a little bit of a learning curve.
“In a small town, everybody knows you and they’re going to come with their dog complaints, their cat complaints and everything under the sun,” Bechtel said. “But he’s sharp enough, he’ll learn.”
Fernandez also will be part of a fully Latino city council in support of Wilder’s first Latina mayor, Alicia Almazan—a more representative city government, he said, in a town that is about 75 percent Hispanic.
“It’s something that I’m very proud of and something that I’m very excited to pursue, especially when it comes to being a Latino voice,” Fernandez said. “The Latino community in the United States has not been particularly well represented. But it also has a history of not representing itself, so I look forward to taking up the challenge.”
It’s a challenge that seems a little daunting with trying to balance college classes. City council meetings are held once per month, but Fernandez also will need time for other committee and board meetings (he’s already attended an Association of Idaho Cities meeting) and to listen to his constituents.
“It’s got me thinking, how am I going to manage being a full-time student, doing work-study, and being an elected official?” Fernandez said.
But for now, he’s crossing off each day on the calendar until his first city council meeting, excited to take his oath of office, excited to take his seat upon the dais behind the placard “Councilman Fernandez,” and excited to serve the community of Wilder as a public servant—just like Mr. Smith.
“That’s exactly what Mr. Smith was,” Fernandez said. “He wasn’t a politician. He wasn’t concerned with parties or alliances. He was concerned with what the people needed.”
An eye for talent: Alumnus discovered MLB's postseason star
Tied 2-2 in the sixth inning of Game 5 of the National League Divisional Series, New York Mets infielder Daniel Murphy dug in 60 feet away from one of baseball’s best pitchers. With a full count, Los Angeles Dodgers ace Zach Greinke let loose a fastball destined for the inside corner of the plate.
It never got there.
As maple wood smacked white leather, reactions varied from those wearing blue. Paired with white, silence ensued from Dodgers fans. Paired with orange, whistles and jubilant shouts echoed across Dodger Stadium as Murphy launched the eventual game- and series-winning home run to right field.
In his seat, New York Mets scout and College of Idaho alumnus Steve Barningham watched in awe.
“When he hit the homerun, I was just blown away,” said Barningham, who graduated from the C of I in 1998. “Daniel got some of the best pitchers in the game this postseason. He was a giant killer for two weeks. I’ve never seen anyone so locked in against the best in the game.”
Murphy set a Major League record by homering in six consecutive playoff games as the Mets made a magical run to the World Series. But long before he was named National League Championship Series MVP, Murphy was just a kid at Jacksonville University whose swing caught the attention of one particular scout.
Barningham liked what he saw from the kid who batted his way to 2006 Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Year honors. After taking in a couple of lunches with Murphy, Barningham started calling him weekly. During those chats, all Murphy wanted to talk about was hitting.
“His recall of at-bats and sequences was as good as I’ve ever seen,” Barningham said. “He just has a mind for it, he’s an advanced thinker. It’s really all he thinks about.”
Murphy’s passion for the game was evident. Coupled with a strong foundation on faith and family, Barningham knew the Mets needed the left-handed hitter and fought hard for him in the 2006 Major League Baseball Draft. Barningham was persuasive enough in his first year as a Mets scout that the club drafted Murphy in the 13th round with the 394th overall pick.
Eight years prior to that, Barningham had started his own journey toward the major leagues. Playing center field for the Yotes, he helped the C of I defeat Indiana Tech 6-3 to win the 1998 NAIA World Series Championship, being named to the All-Tournament team in the process.
“Steve was an outstanding player for us and a huge part of our national championship team in 1998,” said C of I baseball head coach Shawn Humberger, who was an assistant at the time. “He loved to play the game and he played it extremely hard. He was an outstanding centerfielder and a tough out at the top of the line-up. He got on base, stole bases and scored a lot of runs.”
After college, Barningham signed to play independent baseball with the Springfield Capitals, being named the team’s postseason all-star in 1999, which caught the attention of the Texas Rangers. Playing two seasons of class A ball with the Port Charlotte Rangers, Barningham was hampered by a shoulder injury. In the summer of 2002, after several surgeries and rehab, the Rangers management told Barningham the hard news that his injuries were bad enough that he wouldn’t be able to play ball again.
Texas offered Barningham a coaching position, but he had to decline because rehab on his shoulder was progressing slowly. He instead accepted a scouting position the Rangers found him with the Oakland Athletics, though he had no real idea of what a scout did. He only cared about the opportunity to still have a job in baseball.
“I was disappointed I didn’t’ get to play, but at the same time, the game was getting really fast for me,” he said. “I was just thrilled that they were going to allow me to stay in the game.”
Barningham joined the A’s organization in 2003 during the “Moneyball” years, when Oakland used rigorous statistical analysis and sabermetrics to create the best team their limited money could buy.
After seeing how the draft board fell in 2003, and how the whole process worked, Barningham quickly learned the ropes.
“Once you’ve seen the board fall, you attack it in a way that you’re trying to get talent for your ball club,” Barningham said.
And he’s been doing just that for the last 12 years. In 2005, Barningham joined the Mets. In addition to scouting Murphy, he’s overseen the signings of star pitchers Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom. Like the ebbs and flows of the ocean current, talented players come in waves. The fight to consistently acquire top-level players never stops, and it keeps Barningham traveling across the country year-round. If the sun’s out and baseball is being played—which is often in Barningham’s scouting region of Florida and the south—then odds are he’s watching.
In spite of the long hours, Barningham’s love of America’s pastime keeps him going. It’s a love that blossomed as a young kid living in Meridian and grew as he played at Centennial High School and onto The College of Idaho.
His Coyote teammates shared that same passion for the game. Like the kids from the movie The Sandlot, they just wanted to play—no matter if it was practice or a game. The more runs they scored, the more at-bats they got.
“It was a tremendous experience, and one I never forgot,” Barningham said. “I learned as much about scouting there as I have out actually scouting. Everyone there had a passion to be great and those are the players I look for today.”
Barningham also enjoyed his time inside the classroom at the C of I while majoring in physical education.
“It provided a unique environment,” he said. “The class size held you accountable. There is no hiding in the back and you have to participate.”
The small class sizes fostered close interactions with his peers and professors—something that helped prepare him for walking into the pressure cooker that is the draft room.
Draft day is Christmas for scouts. More than 300 days of work are mashed into one fateful June day by which you live or die, Barningham said. With a board of 1,500 players hoping to go pro, a team usually has 60 players on its radar. If you’re able to get four to seven, that’s a successful draft
“It’s very loud,” Barningham said. “There are a lot of phone calls, a lot of last-minute deals, and it’s very fast.”
In his fast-paced life of scouting, Barningham sometimes thinks back to sitting in a dugout in Caldwell and contrasts it to working in one of the biggest cities in the world. And even though his current team’s bid to become World Series champions fell short against the Kansas City Royals, the Mets will make adjustments in hopes of returning to the Fall Classic next year. After all, every spring brings new hope for a shot at a championship.
As for Murphy, he and Barningham have become close friends since that fateful 2006 draft. They talk on the phone weekly, and Barningham attended Murphy’s wedding as well as the birth of his first child. And in the annals of baseball lore, the 2015 postseason will always be remembered for Murphy’s slugging heroics, as the world discovered the talent Barningham first noticed a decade earlier.
“When you draft a player, you think they’re going to impact your club,” Barningham said. “But I never envisioned him changing the face of the playoffs.”
C of I events ring in holiday season
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Jack Frost nipping at your nose. And Yuletide carols being sung by the C of I choir!
Get into the holiday spirit with a smorgasbord of events on The College of Idaho campus this season, including the renowned Feast of Carols at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6 in Jewett Auditorium.
The Feast of Carols will include performances by the C of I Chamber Singers and Chorale as well as the a cappella sextet Major Sixth, the C of I Sinfonia, and the C of I Alumni and Friends choir in this annual holiday tradition. The free concert is open to the public and will be followed by holiday refreshments in the foyer of the adjacent Langroise Center.
“This is a great way to get into the holiday spirit with a sampling of Christmas songs, both traditional and modern,” said C of I music professor Dr. Brent Wells. “Our students have been preparing all semester for a performance that you will not want to miss.”
The Feast of Carols—which will be streamed live at www.collegeofidaho.edu/videostream—is one of several C of I concerts happening in December. The Sinfonia (8 p.m. Nov. 30), Concert Band and Jazz Ensemble (7:30 p.m. Dec. 3), Piano Studio (7:30 p.m. Dec. 5) and Chamber Music (3 p.m. Dec. 6) groups also will give live public performances inside Langroise Recital Hall. To learn more about the C of I music department and student ensembles, visit www.collegeofidaho.edu/music.
Other holiday events to look out for include:
The annual C of I Holiday Tree Lighting at 7 p.m. Nov. 30 in front of Sterry Hall. Enjoy carols from Major Sixth and the C of I Alumni and Friends Choir, along with hot chocolate, holiday treats and a special edition 125th Anniversary Christmas tree ornament!
Caldwell Fine Arts presents The Nutcracker at 7 p.m. Dec. 1 in Jewett Auditorium. Staff, students and faculty receive free admission. There also will be two performances of The Nutcracker Jr. and Clara’s Tea Party on Dec. 2. Click here for more details and ticket information.
Holiday Celebration at 6 p.m. Dec. 7 in Blatchley Hall. Join the C of I Arabic-Hebrew Club and The Craig H. Neilsen Foundation Lectureship in Judaic Studies as we celebrate Hanukkah, Eid al-Mawlid an-Nabawi and Christmas! Come learn about different holiday traditions, recite blessings in Arabic, Hebrew and Latin, and enjoy holiday cakes, coffee and eggnog. Admission is free and all are welcome!
C of I Alumni and Friends Choir caroling throughout the Caldwell Historic District starting at 7 p.m. on Dec. 17. For more information, contact Andrea Cronrath at [email protected] or 459-5301.
Music Theatre of Idaho presents Miracle on 34th Street at 7:30 p.m. nightly from Dec. 17-19 on the Jewett Auditorium stage, with a special matinee performance at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 19. Click here for tickets and more information.
Yotes win Mayor's Cup basketball thriller
Click here to check out a C of I Flickr photo gallery from the game.
The smallest player on the court came up huge in the 200th installment of the Mayor’s Cup men’s basketball rivalry series.
College of Idaho junior point guard Emanuel Morgan racked up 11 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three steals, spearheading a second-half rally as the Yotes recaptured the Mayor’s Cup trophy with a 75-71 victory over Northwest Nazarene University in front of a capacity crowd of 2,400 inside J.A. Albertson Activities Center.
The win avenges a Nov. 10 loss to the Crusaders in Nampa and gives the Yotes five victories in the last six meetings, including three straight wins in Caldwell.
“We were extremely hungry to win after they beat us at their place,” said Morgan, who stands 5-foot-6. “All the guys were fired up, and we went out thsere and handled our business.”
Junior forward Joey Nebeker led the Yotes with 21 points, including two thunderous second-half dunks that ignited the crowd and threatened to bring down the J.A.A.C. roof. He added seven rebounds and four steals, while junior guard Dominique Jordan added 13 points, including two clutch 3-pointers.
“The community makes this game a huge event, so it was a big win and it was a lot of fun,” Nebeker said. “The crowd had a huge impact, and our guys stepped up and played great.”
Trailing 34-30 at halftime, the Yotes rallied behind crisper offensive execution, a tenacious defensive effort and the spark provided by Morgan, Nebeker and a deep supporting cast. Jalyn Turner scored six of his eight points in a quick second-half burst and Aitor Zubizarreta contributed seven points and eight rebounds for the Yotes, who grabbed the lead for good on Nebeker’s fast-break jam with 16:10 to play. NNU made several attempts at a rally, but the Crusaders never got closer than four down the stretch.
“I’m really proud of our effort,” C of I coach Scott Garson said. “Our guys just had a mindset tonight that they were not going to quit and they were not going to lose this game.”
After time expired, Garson sprinted across the court to celebrate with the student section. He and the team thanked the fans and then celebrated together at half court, hoisting the Mayor’s Cup trophy alongside Caldwell Mayor Garret Nancolas.
“It means so much to us,” Garson said of the fans’ support throughout the evening, and throughout the season. “The YoteFam, the city of Caldwell—I just love them. We have the greatest fan base in the whole country for small college basketball.”
Congratulations to C of I senior Kylie Porter, who was named the Cascade Conference Volleyball Player of the Year! Porter helped the Coyotes win their fourth consecutive CCC championship, earned two NAIA National Attacker of the Week awards and has racked up a career-high 352 kills and 98 blocks while helping the Yotes advance to the NAIA National Championships.
Relive the excitement of the C of I's thrilling 75-71 victory over NNU in the United Heritage Mayor's Cup rivalry game! Check out coverage in the Idaho Press-Tribune and the Idaho Statesman, as well as an IPT photo gallery, a C of I Flickr photo gallery and an awesome highlights video!
C of I biology professor Sara Heggland's research lab is studying the relationship between e-cigarette liquids and bone health. A story on the research, performed by Heggland and C of I student Maggie Brown, recently ran in the Idaho Statesman.
The Idaho Press-Tribune recently ran some great coverage on The College of Idaho's 125th anniversary. Click here to check out an in-depth article, historic and contemporary photos, the C of I 125 video and more! #CofI125
Coyote Athletics Roundup: Check out the latest issue of "The Pack," the official magazine of Coyote Athletics...Men's basketball extended its home winning streak to 37 before losing a close game to Metro State...The Helena Independent Record ran a feature on senior quarterback Teejay Gordon. Gordon's football career concluded with a 35-21 win over Carroll on senior day. Click here for a photo gallery from the game...Teejay Gordon and basketball forward Joey Nebeker were named conference player of the week...Men's and women's cross country finished seventh and eigth at nationals, respectively...Women's swim team records fell at the Northwest Invitational...With football season over, Teejay Gordon has joined the basketball team, as reported by KBOI 2 News...C of I tight end Marcus Lenhardt, center Greg Dohmen, cornerback Nate Moore and receiver Tyler Higby were named to the All-Frontier Conference football team.
"If you want to be the best, and be among the best, you choose here. You become an infinitely greater person when you graduate," says C of I alumna Alex Suggs '15. Why did you choose C of I? #WhyCofI
C of I alumna Terra Feast '02 won the Idaho Art Education Association awards for Idaho Art Museum Educator of the Year and Art Educator of the Year. In her ten years at the Boise Art Museum, Feast has worked diligently to educate every student and visitor. The C of I congratulates Feast on her distinguished accomplishments in the art education field!
The C of I ski team's night at the Warren Miller Film Festival event in Boise was a resounding success, and KBOI 2 News was on the scene. A big thanks to all who came out and supported the team!
The College of Idaho kinesiology department led the 'Let's Move Snowflake Shuffle' at the Caldwell Winter Wonderland tree lighting. The holiday event also included songs from the C of I Alumni and Friends Choir and the C of I Jazz Ensemble.