Quick Hits: CHASING CHALLENGER

first_imgAmerica’s Most Celebrated Eagle calls Tennessee HomeIf you’ve attended a live professional sporting event in the last 23 years, you may have been lucky enough to watch Challenger the bald eagle take flight.He’s been a fixture at events across the country, having enjoyed hundreds of plane flights out of his home base near Nashville, via Southwest Airlines, and thousands of hours riding in a specially equipped van, en route to perform his aerial magic.Now 29, Challenger is the first bald eagle in U.S. history trained to free fly into major sports stadiums, arenas, and ballrooms during the national anthem. His first flight took place in 1995, during the Bassmaster Classic in Greensboro, N.C. Since then, he’s been an inspiring performer at more than 350 events, including five World Series, the NCAA Final Four, Celebrity Fight Nights, numerous NFL match-ups (particularly home games of the Philadelphia Eagles), and even the White House.Challenger has appeared on national talk shows, in commercials, and in educational films. Even his arrival to airport gates is greeted with an excitement and enthusiasm that rivals most celebrities. Tennesseans may also recognize his image from specialty license plates, and he boasts the unique title as the only animal to ever have a specialty coin with his image printed by the U.S. Mint. Challenger was also in attendance for a historic milestone for his species, when bald eagles were removed from the endangered species list in 2007.Perhaps his most important role is that of ambassador for the American Eagle Foundation, a non-profit organization established in 1985 to protect and preserve bald eagles and other birds of prey.Located in Pigeon Forge, the AEF has served as Challenger’s home for almost three decades. He was first discovered in Louisiana at only a few weeks of age, having been blown out of his mother’s nest. For several months, Challenger was hand-raised by humans who released him back into the wild that same year, but who unknowingly kept him too long for Challenger to develop his natural survival instincts. After several unsuccessful attempts at re-introduction into the wild, he was brought to Al Cecere, the founder, president, and CEO of AEF.When Challenger, who was named for the fallen space shuttle, arrived uninjured in 1989, Cecere had an idea: why not train Challenger to free fly during the national anthem, as a way to raise awareness about the then-endangered species while also paying patriotic tribute? He and his staff began to train Challenger in falconry style, which is based on food-based rewards and positive reinforcement.After a few years, the six-pound eagle had learned the routine. Now, he performs across the country almost every week of the year except during the summer, when he is molting.Photo: Julia Cecere / American Eagle Foundation.Once an event is lined up by AEF and individual teams/organizations (which cover travel costs for Challenger and his team while also donating to AEF), five AEF staff members accompany him on the road. Challenger’s special carrier, handled by two staff members, is dark inside, to keep him calm. The interior also has a perch as well as a sliding window. Challenger’s team books the front two bulkhead coach seats for his carrier, with a staff member sitting beside him and additional team members in the rows behind and adjacent. Often, Southwest flight crews will let Cecere take the microphone to give a brief talk about Challenger once the plane is airborne.Cecere, who is 70, always travels with Challenger; Cecere’s daughter, Laura Sterbens, typically travels with him as well. “It’s amazing how many millions of people he’s inspired, not just sports fans, but military members and everyday people,” Cecere says.Wherever he is performing on a given day, Challenger typically takes flight from a higher location than ground level. It’s a path he’s familiar with, as he’s already been through several rounds of rehearsals the previous day as well as the morning of the event. The idea is for Challenger to know all of the elements, so if a singer will be standing on the field, or if fireworks will be going off, he’ll be prepared as he spreads his six-foot wingspan and takes flight. Challenger is outfitted with two GPS trackers, clipped to his tail feathers in case he decides to fly beyond the stadium, but Cecere says they have never needed them.At a baseball game, Cecere will typically stand on the pitcher’s mound, with Laura next to him, holding a lure, which is swung in a circular motion to attract Challenger’s attention. When Challenger sees the lure, he knows a treat is not far behind (he is also trained to specific whistles as well as hand motions).Once he’s released, Challenger flies either directly to Cecere or he takes one or two circles around the arena, whichever path he chooses. When he successfully lands on Cecere’s glove, Challenger earns his favorite snack: Atlantic wild-caught salmon (purchased at Whole Foods, along with bottled Fiji water). Three other handlers are positioned on the field, all wearing headsets, so if Challenger is confused about where to go, they can assist him. Because birds have to gradually descend from heights, sometimes Challenger overshoots his landing, in which case he’ll make one more loop before settling on to the trainer’s outstretched glove.After the event is over, Challenger will often pose for photos, fluffing his feathers for the camera. Then, it’s back to the hotel to rest before another flight and performance in a new city.Bald eagles can live up to 50 years or more in captivity, and Challenger shows no signs of slowing down. At the AEF, which has released over 450 eaglets into the wild through their rehabilitation and breeding programs, Challenger is flown every day for exercise and to build his stamina for when he takes the stage.“Remember what the eagle stands for—independence—and yet the eagle was almost lost because of our negligence,” Cecere says. “We came together as a country and brought it back from the brink, and now it’s flourishing across the country again. Challenger is our ambassador for what it is that we do.”last_img read more

AG Hill files judgement against former Lawrenceburg official

first_imgIndianapolis, Ind. — Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill has filed a complaint against former Lawrenceburg deputy clerk treasurer, Theresa Bruening for $252,131.35. The amount is the total officials say she misappropriated from city funds.The cash shortage was discovered in 2016 during a state board of accounts audit. When auditors discovered Bruening abused her authority by issuing duplicate payroll checks to herself.Between February 2012 and April 2013 issued duplicate checks in the amount of $32,745.07. Additionally, between 2009 and 2013 the city of Lawrenceburg accrued $72,742.79 in penalties and interest due to Bruening’s failure to submit various payroll reports accurately and on time.Bruening is also required to pay for the cost of the audit.last_img

McClaren’s team confirmed

first_imgNewcastle have belatedly confirmed the make-up of Steve McClaren’s coaching team – in an e-mail to fans. The Magpies, who presented McClaren only to preferred media partners following his appointment, announced on their official website on Thursday evening that the former England boss had introduced his new-look staff to fans registered to receive communications from the club. The details come as no surprise – scot Ian Cathro and former Derby first team coach Paul Simpson have been appointed as assistant coaches, while Alessandro Schoenmaker will take over as fitness coach and Steve Black, who worked for the club during the 1990s, will help out on a consultancy basis. Goalkeeping Andy Woodman, who has been linked with a move to Crystal Palace, also remains on board. center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

Humanoid robot visits campus bookstore

first_imgRobots are coming to us — not in the way they did in the 2004 film I, Robot or in the Terminator series- — but as companions. Students can now make their dream of making a robot friend come true. As a collaborative effort of SoftBank Robotics America and the on-campus clothing store the Ave at USC, a humanoid robot named Pepper will be visiting USC and staying on the third floor of the bookstore from Oct. 18 to Oct. 20. Pepper will be greeting the customers, informing them about the Ave and helping them customize shoes.“We hope the students on USC’s campus actively come to visit Pepper at the Ave and have a full Pepper experience over the next few days,” said Jamie Soper, PR manager of SoftBank Robotics America. “The experience will give students a glimpse into the future of retail and how they might interact with Pepper on a daily basis in the very near term.”Pepper is an autonomous, talking humanoid robot that is capable of perceiving emotions and interacting with the people around her by adapting her behavior to the mood of the people around her. She was created by engineers at SoftBank Robotics in 2014 and made her first retail debut in SoftBank mobility stores. Based on the perceived body language, Pepper builds empathy and responds accordingly. “Pepper can identify joy, sadness, anger or surprise and respond appropriately, making his interactions with humans incredibly natural and intuitive,” Soper said. “At the heart of Pepper is a remarkable technology that analyses what you say, your tone of voice and nonverbal communication cues like the tilt of your head or posture.”USC is the first college campus Pepper has visited. “Our goal is to give the students a glimpse of what’s to come and get them comfortable interacting with Pepper in any given business environment such as retail,” Soper said.SBRA is the newly established North American headquarters of SoftBank Robotics Holdings. According to Soper, SBRA robots are used in more than 70 countries worldwide and offer innovative applications in the fields of research, education, retail, healthcare, tourism, hospitality and entertainment.The Ave, with Pepper helping out, was packed. Arnesh Sujanani, a sophomore majoring in economics, did not expect Pepper to be so advanced, though mentioned it had its shortfalls. “I was surprised by its high tech interactivity,” Sujanani said. “It immediately recognized my presence and made motions to interact with me. I was however, disappointed by its lack of movement, in terms of feet movement, capabilities. It was mostly stationery. Overall, I was still impressed by Pepper.”Nick Romero, the owner and the founder of the Ave, found Pepper useful in gaining attention of customers. “So far, Pepper has been interacting with guests. He definitely has been an attraction as far as getting people come in, showing different products, explaining history about the Ave,” Romero said. “After seeing Pepper working for three hours so far, I think it is pretty cool, but I can see what we can improve on.”last_img read more

Crusader preview: Both Wellington and Rose Hill are looking for their first win of the season

first_imgSuperintendent: Dr. Mark Whitener 150 Clearwater 43 Wellington 14 180 10 220 10 Rose Hill Friday, Sept. 23 Andale Friday, Oct. 7 165 Aaron Schoemann Michael Billington 12 David Matlock 230 18 Manager: Austin Fink 11 15 Mulvane Caleb Alcorn 77 Friday, Oct. 28 3 280 185 5 Caleb Fowler 150 Drake Alcorn 65 2 Caleb Reichenberger 70 72 155 10 Michael Ledbetter 85 home 10 11 10 Braden Struble 180 50 68 away 11 W. Collegiate Spirit Squad: Taylor, McGothlin, Regan Pourner, 170 190 170 10 11 10 190 2016 Wellington Crusader Football Chloe Easterly, Andi Dry, Kelsi Haydon, 10 Eric Kop Bailey Etter 1 12 240 10 Deyton Araujo 130 Chance Wilson Assistant Principal: John Buckendorff 61 Friday, Sept. 30 Logan Jones 165 12 10 Trayson Probst Follow us on Facebook.Follow us on Twitter. 240 78 84 away 10 Lukas Soria 185 Rose HillW. Collegiate 51 Rose Hill 6Mulvane 40 Rose Hill 20.Roster: 270 10 6 220 190 220 Ian Groom De’ Andre Washington 22 10center_img 11 Athletic Director: Luke Smith Julian Jimenez home Tyler Jimenez Principal: Adam Hatifield 10 Gabe Smith Makenna May, Cassidy Harriger, Lexi Saffell, by Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — There is little doubt that Wellington so desperately needs to win Friday night. Trouble is, Rose Hill has a similar desperation.The Crusaders will travel to Rose Hill in what will be a battle of two winless teams. The Rockets have a tough row to hoe in the future. But it won’t be like Wellington’s murderous trifecta of Andale, Wichita Collegiate and Scott City in simultaneous weeks.Rose Hill comes into the game on an 11-game losing streak. The last time Rose Hill won was in Oct. 30, 2014 when it beat Mulvane 28-22.After a dreadful 2015 in which the Rockets went 0-9 and never played a close game, Rose Hill fell to Wichita Collegiate 41-6 and Mulvane 40-20 last weekend. It has been a precipitous fall for a program that won a state championship in 2011.The Rockets are chomping at the bits for a victory.Both Rose Hill and El Dorado had similar statistics in games against Mulvane. In week one, El Dorado accumulated 238 yards vs. the Cats while the Rockets had 210. They both gave up large chunks of yards to the Cats 343 to 360.So it might be safe to say on a talent level, El Dorado and Rose Hill are similar.Wellington gave up 355 yards against El Dorado. For the Dukes to see any success this season, the defense has to do better.“I was looking at our defense on Saturday, and sometimes we had five sophomores out there playing at the same time,” said first year head coach Zane Aquilar. “That’s a tough way to go.”Wellington showed much improvement on offense. Wellington had 255 yards in offense including 153 yards passing. The passing game appears to be coming along.It isn’t as if Wellington has not been competitive in the first two games. Wellington was down 14-7 against Clearwater in the first half and tied 6-6 against El Dorado. Many would argue that the Crusaders outplayed the Wildcats in the first 24 minutes.But the second half has been problematic for this young squad which has given up 27 and 28 points in the first two games.The Rockets will feature senior quarterback Grant Moore, a two-year starter, who is 8 of 25 for 98 yards so far this season. Rose Hill has two running backs making yardage. J.J. Carney has accumulated 103 yards on 16 attempts for a 6.44 yard per carry average. Bradly McAllister has 91 yards on 24 attempts.Wellington will go into the game with 564 total yards. Cade Phelps is 11 of 40 for 238 yards. Chris Kop and Colton Glover have each accumulated 133 and 120 yards respectively so far. Runs like the 14-yard touchdown run made by Glover on Saturday when he dragged the whole El Dorado team into the end zone will help this Friday.Joe Ybarra, a sophomore receiver, has four catches for 90 yards. That didn’t include his interception last week. De’Andre Washington, another sophomore, appears to getting his footing with three catches for 70 yards, including a big catch late in the second half vs. the Cats.Aguilar said at this juncture it is about the boys believing in themselves. He is confident that if Wellington competes at the level its capable of, the Crusaders will be victorious Friday night.Wellington-Rose Hill game at a glance:Wellington (0-2) at Rose Hill (0-2), Friday at 7 p.m.Follow the game: Internet: Live twitter blogs on this site, Sumner Newscow. Twitter: Follow us at Cueballnewscow. Radio: Adrian Young and Jamie Cornejo, play-by-play, KLEY, 1130-AM and 100.3-FM. Television: Sumner Cable TV, Channel 5 (audio). Photos and recaps: wellington.cc and Sumner Newscow.Game night weather: Forecasters are calling for 20 percent rain during kickoff and that percentage increases to 35 percent before the conclusion. Bring your umbrella nevertheless.Series history: Wellington holds a 14-3 winning history against Rose Hill.Rose Hill (14-3)1981 – Wellington 33 Rose Hill 61982 – Wellington 37 Rose Hill 71987 – Wellington 35 Rose Hill 121988 – Wellington 26 Rose Hill 161994 – Wellington 48 Rose Hill 161995 – Wellington 33 Rose Hill 61996 – Wellington 40 Rose Hill 01997 – Wellington 30 Rose Hill 02000 – Wellington 56 Rose Hill 02001 – Wellington 38 Rose Hill 132004 – Wellington 28 Rose Hill 202005 – Wellington 20 Rose Hill 352006 – Wellington 6 Rose Hill 21 bi-district.2008 – Wellington 14 Rose Hill 132009 – Wellington 15 Rose Hill 212014 – Wellington 33 Rose Hill 212015 – Wellington 44 Rose Hill 20Game’s significance: With Andale, Wichita Collegiate and Scott City looming, this will be a very big game for the Crusaders.Injury situation: Lukas Soria is out for six weeks. The rest of the team has normal bumps and bruises.•••••Competing schedules: 11 10 140 150 10 El Dorado 34 Wellington 18 215 16 160 12 190 Cade Phelps Chase Pfalzgraf 10 Matthew Mason 21 160 Tatum Witham, Tori Winger, Kayla Billington 12 Jack Walton 60 180 140 Head Coach: Zane Aguilar 12 Brayden Higgenbotham 42 10 Joe Ybarra Varsity Football (all games 7 p.m.) 10 Chris Kop Assistant Superintendent: Brad Morris Scott City home 33 Dylan Goodman Cody Metz WELLINGTON Sponsor: Katie Franke Dylan Ferguson away 165 Nic Reyes 170 Ulysses 160 11 8 Rick Phelps, Tim Lira, Nick Wellington, Ryan Elder Friday, Oct. 21 Chi Barton 135 Assisntant Coaches: Tony Ybarra, Ross Foley, John McComb, 25 Tyler Murray Winfield Conner Burnett 12 Colton Glover 12 12 165 53 51 160 12 79 62 Jason Jeffrey Friday, Oct. 14 Braiden Buresh 63 11 11 220 71 11 Friday, Sept. 16 7 24 66 4 away 10 54 Close Forgot password? Please put in your email: Send me my password! 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Seahawks monitoring Antonio Brown, ‘open’ to Josh Gordon return

first_imgGordon was banned indefinitely in December for violations of the NFL’s policies on performance-enhancing substances and substances of abuse.A Pro Bowler, Gordon – who would become an unrestricted free agent if and when he is reinstated – made five appearances for the Seahawks last season after he was released by the Patriots in November.”It’s not in our hands,” Carroll said. “Josh did a really good job with us last year. He fit in really well. He was part of this team by the way we opened and embraced his coming to us but also by the way he adapted. So we are very open to that thought and we’ll see what happens. I don’t know. I can’t tell you what’s going to happen on that.” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Seattle is monitoring Antonio Brown as they weigh up a move for the seven-time Pro Bowler.The free agent receiver will serve an eight-game suspension after breaching the NFL’s personal conduct policy following a January incident in Florida. The 32-year-old wide receiver is looking for a new home after being cut by the Patriots, who axed Brown after just 11 days and one game in September. Seattle has emerged as a possible destination and Carroll addressed the Seahawks’ rumoured interest in Brown on Monday.”What I’d say to you is what we always say because it’s what we always do and who we are,” Carroll said. “[General manager] John [Schneider] is competing at every turn. There’s never been a process, unless we just missed it, that we weren’t involved with to understand what the chances were of helping our club. He’s all over it. He understands what’s going on right now, as much as you can. It’s a very complex situation. We just need to see where it fits somewhere down the road. That’s all I got for you.”MORE: Antonio Brown promises ‘best season of my career’MORE: Why is Antonio Brown suspended?Having entered the league with the Steelers in 2010, Brown has amassed 11,263 receiving yards and caught 75 touchdowns in his career.Carroll, meanwhile, said the Seahawks are “very open” to reuniting with star wide receiver Josh Gordon.last_img read more