Lancaster native Jonathan Groff wins his first Tony Award

Jonathan Groff poses on the red carpet at Disney’s D23 Expo in 2019. PHOTO COURTESY OF WALT DISNEY TELEVISION / FLICKR

Katelyn Auty
Head Copy Editor
Social Media Editor
Associate Sports Editor

On Sunday night, Lancaster native Jonathan Groff won his first Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical for “Merrily We Roll Along.”

In “Merrily We Roll Along,” Groff plays Franklin Sheppard, a musical composer who chases theatrical dreams with two lifelong friends, played by Lindsay Mendez and Daniel Radcliffe. The show tells the story of their deteriorating friendship over 20 years in reverse chronological order.

The show was a quick-closing flop when it debuted on Broadway in 1981. However, this revival has become one of the hottest-selling tickets this past year, a fact that many critics have attributed to the performances of Groff, Mendez, and Radcliffe. 

For those who are not theatre fans, Groff winning a Tony is the theatre equivalent of Leonardo DiCaprio finally winning an Oscar.

This is the third time Groff has been nominated for a Tony. He was nominated first in 2007 for his starring role as Melchior Gabor in “Spring Awakening” and then again in 2016 for his performance as King George III in “Hamilton.” 

During his acceptance speech, Groff thanked family and teachers who have supported him along the way. He shared “I grew up in a house surrounded by cornfields in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. I was raised by my parents, Jim and Julie Groff, and my brother David, and the three of them were sitting right there… Thank you for always allowing my freak flag to fly without ever making me feel weird about it. Even if they didn’t always understand me, my family knew the life-saving power of fanning the flame of a young person’s passions without judgment.” 

He also took time to thank those who have guided him along the way, shouting out his former teacher Sue Fisher, saying she encouraged him to pursue a career on Broadway.

A teary-eyed Groff recalled growing up in Pennsylvania and longing to be part of the Broadway community, remarking “I just want to say when I was a kid in Pennsylvania, I used to record the Tony Awards on a VHS tape and watch the performances over and over again, and to actually be able to be a part of making theater in this city, and just as much, to be able to watch the work of this incredible, incredible community has been the greatest gift and pleasure of my life. And I thank you and thank you so much for this honor.”

“Merrily We Roll Along” did well at the Tony Awards, winning four of the seven awards it was nominated for, including Best Revival of a Musical. Radcliffe also won his first Tony for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical for his role as Charley Kringas.

Groff will star in “Merrily We Roll Along” at the Hudson Theatre until the production closes on July 7. 

The Enola Low-Grade Trail provides breathtaking views

The Enola Low-Grade Trail looks peaceful as the sun sets. JAMIE HUGHES / SNAPPER

Jamie Hughes
Associate Photography Editor

Stretching from Quarryville to Turkey Hill, the Enola Low-Grade Trail is a walking and bicycling trail with a low grade. Low-grade trails are highly forgiving due to their lack of heavy slopes, a feature left over from the trail’s past as a railway line. However, the real attractions here are the two trestle bridges that formerly served the railway but are now developed for pedestrian traffic.

These bridges are very tall and offer a stunning view of their surroundings. One is located near Martic Forge and overlooks a scene of tree-covered hills and the Pequea Creek. The other is in Safe Harbor and overlooks the Susquehanna River and the Safe Harbor hydroelectric dam. The latter bridge also crosses over the point where the Conestoga River flows into the Susquehanna.

The Enola Low-Grade Trail has multiple entry points, each with parking. If you want to visit both trestle bridges, I recommend two of the lots; the one in Safe Harbor and the other on Red Hill Road. For either option, I suggest you travel the trail by bicycle, as the bridges are roughly four miles apart. The path between the bridges is mostly wooded on each side and features tall rock walls in parts, some of which are set up to be used by rock climbers.

If you want to see the Safe Harbor bridge first, go to the parking lot in Safe Harbor. This lot is directly underneath the bridge, and you will need to climb a long set of stairs to get to the bridge deck. To get to the Martic Forge Trestle from Safe Harbor, walk or bike towards the east away from Safe Harbor. 

The other option is to come from the opposite direction and see the Martic Forge Trestle first. To do this, park instead in the Red Hill Road Trailhead lot, which is along Route 324 close to the town of Martic Forge. Now, this ride will be slightly longer, as there is about a mile between the Red Hill Road lot and the Martic Forge Trestle, making a full trip to both trestles roughly ten miles round trip from the parking lot. However, I find this to be the more satisfying trip, as it saves the best views for last.

Overall, the Enola Low-Grade Trail is a must-see for those living in or visiting Lancaster County. The trail provides a way for people to appreciate the county’s natural beauty and get some exercise at the same time. The scenic vistas from both bridges allow for a nice break from your ride, and the view at sunset from the Safe Harbor bridge is stunning, especially in autumn. My best time here was coming to the Safe Harbor Trestle on a November evening, and watching the sun set on the Susquehanna from the bridge. Now, the trail closes at dusk and is not lit, so if you intend to do this please have a safe, quick way of returning to your car!

While the distance between the bridges may seem daunting, the low grade allows bicycle riders to maintain a steady pace along the trail. For me, the miles breezed by on my bike. For students at Millersville University who drive and own a bike, this is a perfect local getaway.

For more information on the Enola Low-Grade Trail, see the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership’s webpage for the trail at

NBA finals preview

Current minority owner Mark Cuban celebrates with the Mavericks’ bench during game six of the 2011 NBA finals against the Miami Heat. 2011 was the last time the Dallas Mavericks were in the NBA finals. PHOTO COURTESY OF DANNY BOLLINGER / FLICKR

Ben Staker
Sports Editor

The NBA Finals matchup is now set with the Dallas Mavericks taking on the Boston Celtics. For the Mavericks, this will be their first finals appearance since they beat the Miami Heat in 2011. As for the Celtics, they’ll be returning to the finals for the second time in three years.

Coming into this series, there are still many interesting storylines to be concluded. Will Kyrie Irving beat his former team in the finals?  Will Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown finally get over the hump and bring home a championship? Or will the Mavericks role players continue their hot streak? There’s a lot riding on this series for both sides as the NBA looks to crown their sixth different champion in as many years.

To get here, both teams had very different stories. The Celtics ran the Eastern Conference and finished with a record of 64-18 and the conference’s number one seed. They carried their regular season success into the playoffs by defeating the Heat and Cavaliers in five games each, as well as an Eastern Conference Finals sweep of the Indiana Pacers. After amassing an impressive 12-2 record in the first three rounds of the playoffs they’ll enter the finals as the favorites.

In the Dallas Mavericks case, they have had a different road. They finished the regular season with a 50-32 record, which earned them the Western Conference’s number five seed. They defeated the Clippers and number one-seeded Thunder in six games and the Minnesota Timberwolves in five games. The team didn’t have the luxury of home-court advantage in any playoff series they’ve played so far, and that won’t change for the finals. 

These teams match up well against each other. Despite the narratives you might hear coming into the series, Tatum and Brown will show up in the big moments. Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving have already proved they can rise to the occasion for the Mavericks. I think this series will come down to which team can get a signature game from one of their role players.

As of late, P.J. Washington and Daniel Gafford have been able to complement Doncic and Irving. If they’re able to keep this good string of basketball going they can beat the Celtics. However, players like Derrick White, Jrue Holiday, or even Al Horford can have that same kind of impact on the Celtics. Whichever team can get the most out of their depth players will win the series.

I like the Mavericks’ depth more than the Celtics, so I’m picking them for the series in seven games.

Game one of the NBA Finals is set to tip off on Thursday, June 6 at 8:30 p.m.

PWHL Minnesota becomes the first team to win the Walter Cup

PWHL Minnesota leaves the ice after their win against PWHL Montreal on Jan. 6, 2024. PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Katelyn Auty
Head Copy Editor
Social Media Editor
Associate Sports Editor

Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) Minnesota has made history as the first team to hoist the Walter Cup. After an action-packed inaugural season, it all came down to a winner-takes-all game at the Tsongas Center in Massachusetts, PWHL Boston’s home stadium. After a hard-fought series, Minnesota ultimately became the first to win the Walter Cup after beating Boston 3-0.

The first period was uneventful, with no goals from either team. Minnesota forward Liz Schepers opened the scoring in the second period with her first-ever PWHL goal, putting Minnesota on the board and giving them a 1-0 lead. The third period saw a goal from Minnesota forward Michela Cava, bringing the score to 2-0. Kendall Coyne Schofield, captain of PWHL Minnesota, scored an empty-netter with just two minutes left in the game, sealing their victory and shutting out Boston. 

Directly following the game was the presentation ceremony for the Ilana Kloss Playoff MVP Award and, of course, the Walter Cup. Presented by Ilana Kloss herself, Taylor Heise was named the Ilana Kloss Playoff MVP. The Walter family and Billie Jean King, former number one tennis player and champion for women’s sports, presented the Walter Cup to Minnesota captain Kendall Coyne Schofield.

“This is the new pinnacle of women’s hockey and to be on top is the best feeling in the world and to be on top with this group is extremely special,” shared Coyne Schofield after the ceremony. 

Although the season is over, there are many exciting things for PWHL fans to look forward to in the coming months. The PWHL has announced that the second annual draft will take place on June 10 at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium in Saint Paul, Minnesota. It has also been announced that team names and logos for the six teams will be introduced in August of this year.

Overall, this inaugural season has paved the way for what will hopefully be a very successful league. This may be the end of the inaugural season, but this is just the beginning for the PWHL. 

Millersville University hosts Congressional debate on campus

Pennsylvania State House Democrat Party candidates Izzy Smith-Wade-El and Janet Diaz debated on campus. PHOTO COURTESY OF MILLERSVILLE UNIVERSITY

Morgan Huber
Managing Editor

Millersville University served as the venue for a congressional debate this past week, featuring Democratic candidates Janet Diaz and Ismail “Izzy” Smith-Wade-El as prospective representatives for congress.

The debate, which took place in the Lombardo Welcome Center on Friday, April 29, at 6 p.m., was hosted by the Millersville College Democrats and moderated by the campus organization’s outgoing president, Andrew Geer. This event gave both candidates the opportunity to present their platforms and advocate for issues and policies on their agenda, as well as to demonstrate why they would be the ideal choice to represent the 49th House of Representatives District, which covers all of Lancaster County and southern York County. 

Members of both the university and local community attended the debate, which covered a wide variety of topics, including healthcare, voting rights and partisanship, relieving tax burdens for residents, and raising the minimum wage. 

Diaz, an active member of the Lancaster City Council, discusses nearly two decades of work experience in the healthcare industry. Her platform primarily focuses on advocating for disability rights, as well as supporting families and workers. In addition, she noted her extensive volunteer experience in the community, having served at funeral homes and soup kitchens.

Smith-Wade-El currently serves as president of the Lancaster City Council. His platform primarily focuses on supporting working-class families and ensuring quality affordable housing for all residents. In addition, he is the son of the late Dr. Rita Smith-Wade-El, a beloved former psychology professor at Millersville University. 

The formal portion of the debate began with the question of property taxes and relieving tax burdens for residents of Lancaster and York. With the district currently supporting a substantial number of large businesses and religious organizations, roughly 40 percent of all of Lancaster and southern York’s properties are tax-exempt. 

“Property taxes are beneficial to our community because they fund our boroughs and schools,” says Smith-Wade-El. “But they can also be harmful to working class residents who struggle to pay them. Implementing property tax reform by holding larger luxury businesses such as hotels accountable for paying their fair share can relieve the burden for residents, while also allowing funds to keep coming in.”

In response, Diaz also suggested tax reforms not only for luxury businesses, but also on gun sales. In addition, she suggested utilizing truck weight stations to acquire revenue to relieve tax burdens. 

In Lancaster county, healthcare expenses increased by 9.7 percent. Both candidates were asked how they plan to handle this problem and improve the local healthcare industry.

As a worker in the field for 19 years, Diaz used her experience to her advantage, claiming her work in counseling and health insurance to ensure her ability to understand and work with various aspects of the industry. She expressed intention to advocate for affordable healthcare, emphasizing the dire need for mental health support.

In response, Smith-Wade-El suggested redirecting corporate subsidizing to decreasing medical, drug, and education costs, while also increasing funding for mental healthcare and special education, which remain stagnant. Supporting workers and patients alike through initiatives such as the Patient Safety Act, he believes, will also relieve underemployment and high costs.

“We have to invest in the people that make it happen,” says Smith-Wade-El. “Relieving student debt and increasing wages for our workers will help those who keep us safe and healthy.”

The parties then discussed partisanship. In the aftermath of the Trump administration and the January 6 attack on the Capitol, citizens across the country are increasingly divided in terms of beliefs, views, and rights. Pennsylvania had one of the largest numbers of arrested protestors, numbering around 60, highlighting the area as a space of concern for discrimination and disparity. 

“Our democracy is under attack. But that problem lies in good faith, rather than partisanship,” says Smith-Wade-El. Our views may divide us, but in the end, we all want a better world for ourselves and each other. I want to work across party lines so we can reach common goals together. My mission is to not divide us, but find what can unite our diverse communities.”

In addition to supporting voting rights and working across party lines, both candidates also strongly support increasing the minimum wage. 

“I have had to work multiple jobs to support myself and my family, so I empathize with and seek to help those who have struggled in the same way,” says Diaz. “And as a woman of color, I can see that those like myself may find it even harder to make ends meet. Black and brown women make roughly 50 to 60 cents for every dollar a white man makes. I want to decrease the wage gap and make earnings fairer for those who are doing the same work.”

Once the formal portion of the debate concluded, moderator Geer opened the floor for audience questions submitted through handwritten notes. Topics addressed by the audience included online gambling, federal funding for post-secondary education, and the legalization of recreational marijuana. 

Both Smith-Wade-El and Diaz supported the legalization of recreational marijuana, as well as increased support and funding for college students. However, they were somewhat divided on Act 42, a 2017 law that legalized online gambling in Pennsylvania. Regarding this issue, Smith discussed disapproval of the new law, noting that the gambling industry especially harms the working class, while Diaz remained divided on the issue due to potential revenue for industry workers.

One particular question asked by an audience member was if and how they plan to protect the rights and safety of sex workers as members of congress.

“As a former sexual assault counselor, I have worked with countless survivors, many of whom were employed in sex work to support themselves,” says Diaz. “They are just like us, and as someone who has worked with them first-hand, I will push to support all citizens, regardless of their line of work.”

“Nobody should be shamed for what they do for work,” says Smith-Wade-El. “Regardless of where our income comes from, we are all people deserving of safety and protection, and as your representative, I plan to ensure rights and protection for all of my constituents.” 

To conclude the debate, moderator Geer asked the candidates questions not about their policy, but about their character and identity. They were asked about how they felt working as people of color in politics, which they saw as an opportunity to represent the underrepresented. In addition, they were asked what they liked about the opposing candidate.

“I admire Ismail because he is confident and speaks very eloquently,” says Diaz. “Spanish is my first language, so I am always learning something new, and to see someone express themselves in a way I wish to inspire me to do better.”

“I think that Diaz is an incredible fighter for her constituents,” says Smith-Wade-El. “She seeks to have individuals and their needs seen and heard.”

The candidates concluded the debate with their closing remarks, Diaz speaking first:

“COVID has taken a toll on our mental health, even though it has not yet ended. We need to heal and work together. We need a plan to persevere and move forward, one step at a time. I am a pragmatic democrat,” Diaz says. “I worked three jobs before, and I had to pay my school loans. I have a history of working. I will help to create more union jobs, and support our infrastructure and family values. With 19 years in the healthcare industry, I will continue to push for affordable healthcare for residents, push for funding for our schools, and affordable housing, and protect the rights of women and LGBTQ individuals. I will always be a phone call away, working to make a better Pennsylvania. Lancaster is worth fighting for, and you are worth fighting for.” 

Smith-Wade-El follows:“I just wanted to thank the College Democrats for the opportunity to have this debate. This is what politics is supposed to be about … we should be engaged in a contest of ideas,” Smith-Wade-El says. “I’m very proud to have built a coalition of local school board, township, and city council members, and to be trusted to advocate for our schools and environment. All of that pales in comparison that I get to wake up every day and represent you. I strive to support our workers and homeless, improve trust and accountability in our police force, and create a vision of public safety. I hope that you will vote Izzy on or before May 17.”

Regardless of the election results, Diaz and Smith-Wade-El will be a first for the district – not only could either of them be the first person of color to represent Lancaster, but they would also be the first woman or the first queer person, respectively, to serve as House representative for Lancaster, if elected. The winning candidate of the Democratic primary will run against Republican incumbent Lloyd Smucker in November.

Even though a Democrat has not represented the district since World War II, there is still hope for supporters of the party. Regardless of the turnout, local Democrats and members of the Millersville Democrats are excited about this opportunity to give the candidates a platform and educate local voters on campus. 

“Every year that an election is happening, all these candidates and campaigns are eager to get their name out there,” says Andrew Geer, who moderated and helped to organize the debate as outgoing president of Millersville Democrats. “We were able to get in touch with both [Smith Wade-El and Diaz], meet with them and introduce them to the club, and set up for the debate. It’s a great opportunity to get the word out there about who’s running and educate people on campus.”

As a closed primary state, residents of the 49th district must be registered Democrats to vote in the primary. Those eligible may vote at their local polling center on May 17, or by requesting a mail-in ballot online. Mail-in ballots can be requested by clicking here and must be postmarked by election day in order to be counted. Those wishing to vote in person may look up polling place information on the  Pennsylvania Voter Services website.


Originally published on the Snapper website on May 10, 2022

Taylor Swift releases her eleventh studio album ‘The Tortured Poets Department’

Taylor Swift poses on a bed for the cover for “The Tortured Poets Department.” PHOTO COURTESY OF PRINTERVAL

Katelyn Auty
Head Copy Editor
Social Media Editor

Content warning: this review discusses themes of depression and alcohol abuse. 

On April 19, Taylor Swift released her 11th studio album entitled “The Tortured Poets Department.” Swift announced the album on Feb. 4 while taking the stage to accept the award for Best Pop Vocal Album, which her 10th album “Midnights” won. 

“I needed to make it. It was really a lifeline for me,” Swift confessed during her Feb. 16 concert in Melbourne, Australia. “It sort of reminded me of why songwriting is something that actually gets me through life and I’ve never had an album where I’ve needed songwriting more than I needed it on ‘Tortured Poets.’”

It became especially apparent that this album was a lifeline for her when, at two a.m. on April 19, she released “The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology” which doubled the number of tracks released, bringing the album to 31 songs within two hours and two minutes runtime. 

“The Tortured Poets Department,” or TTPD for short, is arguably Swift’s most personal album yet. Each track on the album dissects feelings associated with various recent relationships. Fans have speculated various songs are about Joe Alwyn, her former boyfriend of six years, Matty Healy, the lead singer of The 1975 whom Swift seemingly had a fling with, Travis Kelce, her current boyfriend, and even a song about Kim Kardashian. Overall, this is her break-up album, dissecting the process of losing and mourning her previous relationships.

Regardless of who the songs are about, TTPD seemingly confesses that Swift has been struggling with some dark themes such as depression, alcoholism, and more. Her song “I Can Do It With A Broken Heart,” appears to be a confession that her time during “The Eras Tour” was not as happy as it appeared to be, with lyrics like “Breaking down, I hit the floor / All the pieces of me shattered as the crowd was chanting, ‘More’ / I was grinning like I’m winning, I was hitting my marks / ‘Cause I can do it with a broken heart.”

In my opinion, Swift has always been able to create a cohesive-sounding album. However, it may be too cohesive this time around. Whether it’s due to Jack Antonoff’s production (which, in my opinion, may be holding Swift back creatively) or the fact that this album has 31 songs, I cannot tell the songs apart.

The album is also incredibly heavy, with so many words and very complicated topics. Every song feels like I’m trying to solve a puzzle of who she’s talking about or what she’s referring to. With the exception of a few songs, that is a seemingly impossible task. The language she uses also constantly has me reaching for a dictionary to try and decipher the text. After listening to the full two hours, I am left feeling exhausted.

The confusion that I feel while listening, however, seemingly mimics the confusion and turmoil Swift was going through during these intense moments of loss. 

I would be remiss if I didn’t bring up the songs that had featured artists. 

“Fortnight” featuring Post Malone is the opening track of the album, and I cannot understand why. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good song and I really like Post Malone, but I don’t feel that song is a great introduction to the album. Pressing play on it and waiting for Post Malone to start singing took me back to the time Swift featured Lana Del Rey on “Snow On The Beach” in “Midnights” and the fandom essentially bullied her into releasing the “More Lana Version” because she was featured so little on the song. I hope that a “More Post Malone Version” exists somewhere and that we gain access to it because this version left much to be desired. 

I will admit, Swift did better with “Florida!!!” featuring Florence + The Machine. This song is what I feel a song with a featured artist should be. I will say, however, that I don’t feel that Florence Welch and Swift’s voices blend well together. While Swift has more of a pop feel to her voice, Welch is more of an indie rock voice and I just didn’t feel that their voices blended well. 

I commend Taylor Swift for sharing such a personal album with the world. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to be so vulnerable to millions of strangers. Although I am critical of the album, I must admit that Swift delivered an incredibly complex and intelligent album. 

MU club feature: Moose Ultimate

The Moose Ultimate team poses for a photo at the High Tide tournament in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. PHOTO COURTESY OF MILLERSVILLE MOOSE ULTIMATE

Katelyn Auty
Head Copy Editor
Social Media Editor

The Moose Ultimate club frisbee team on campus provides Millersville students with an environment to socialize, exercise, and just have fun. 

The club team, which is open to people of all experience levels, is a great place to learn or strengthen your ultimate frisbee skills. 

“If you have prior experience playing ultimate frisbee, like casual frisbee throwing with friends, or want to try something new, we would love for you to join,” says Dylan Procopio, a member of the team. 

Moose Ultimate is a good club team to join for anyone looking to make some friends or get their weekly dose of exercise. Having this environment wasn’t always easy, however. The club, according to Procopio, disbanded after COVID, and he and his friends were left to “pick up the scraps.”

“The team was small and very dedicated, but we pushed through,” Procopio shared. “I continue to come to stay active and the comradery. I do not think of myself being a sporty or competitive person but a switch does flip during tournaments.”

Emily Beichler, the Accountability Chair for the club, shared “If I hadn’t joined Moose, I never would have met almost anyone I’m friends with now. Moose is a great way to get connected with people and have fun!”

Moose Ultimate recently got the opportunity to compete in High Tide, which according to their website, is the “largest College Spring Break Ultimate Tournament in the world.” High Tide is held in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina over the course of four weeks. Over 200 teams attend the tournament every year. Moose Ultimate attended week one of the tournament, participating March 3-8. There were 18 teams in their division, 11 of those teams being Division One. 

“Moose went 6-2 during the tournament, including a 2-2 record against Division 1 competition, with our only two losses of the whole tournament coming to the two teams that got 1st and 2nd,” shared Moose Event Coordinator Aidan Clark.

Millersville’s Moose Ultimate finished in third place out of 18. 

The team also has another tournament in Westfield, Massachusetts coming up. 

“It’s always a blast spending quality team-bonding time together while also playing ultimate,” Beichler shared. “It’s also the last tournament for our seniors, so some tears will probably be shed. Everyone has put in a lot of time and effort to the sport and we all love each other so much.”

Practices are typically held at Biemesderfer Stadium on Mondays and Wednesdays from 7-9 p.m. Those interested in learning more about joining the team may sign up on Get Involved or follow their Instagram @millersvilleultimate.

Garcia scores three knockdowns en route to a huge upset win over Haney

Sevan Sinton
Associate News Editor

The long-anticipated clash between Ryan Garcia (25-1) and Devin Haney (31-1) resulted in +500 betting underdog Garcia shocking the boxing world by flooring Haney three times over 12 rounds. 

Leading up to the fight, Garcia’s mental aptitude came into question by fans, where he had been on video displaying erratic behavior and even chugging a bottle of beer during his weigh-in. Haney weighed in at the agreed-upon 140-pound limit, whereas Garcia came in 3.2 pounds overweight, which resulted in a 1.5-million-dollar ($500,000 per pound) fine to Garcia going towards Haney’s purse.

On X, Garcia wrote “100 percent worth it” after missing weight. However, the weight miss made Garcia unable to win Haney’s WBC Super Lightweight championship. 

Many wrote the fight off as a foregone conclusion. Combat sports analyst Luke Thomas said on his Morning Kombat show, “Devin Haney is going to tune Ryan Garcia up like a guitar.”

Garcia made everyone eat their words. 

From the opening bell, Garcia’s signature check hook was on display, where 45 seconds into the first round, he wobbled Haney after countering a jab. 

In the early rounds, Haney showed his technical ability, working jabs and short punches to the body while recovering from Garcia’s early onslaught. However, in round seven, Garcia found his mark and dropped Haney to the canvas with a left hook. Haney spent the rest of the fight grabbing and stalling in the clinch until he was dropped again in rounds 10 and 11. 

The judges scored the contest a 112-112 draw, and 110-114, 109-115 both in favor of Garcia, resulting in a majority decision win for the Southern California prospect. 

The Savannah Bananas: the greatest show in baseball

Jacob Toran
Staff Writer

Baseball is known as America’s favorite pastime. However, many Americans would disagree. With attention spans decreasing every day, and the lengthiness of the game, the sport could use a little more entertainment factor. Enter “Banana Ball.”

Banana Ball is a new type of baseball being played by the Savannah Bananas, a fairly new club out of Georgia that began as a collegiate summer baseball team. This team is not part of the MLB, or any league for that matter; think of them more as an exhibition team, providing a fast-paced, entertaining game for anyone who would like to watch.

Recently, the Bananas have taken the country by storm, selling out every stadium they visit, small and large. To understand why this is happening, we must first understand what Banana Ball actually is. 

Jesse Cole, owner of the Savannah Bananas, is the mastermind behind the show. He wanted a baseball game that would hold fans’ attention while entertaining them as well.

“Why don’t we have dancing players, a banana band, a break-dancing coach, a senior citizen dance team, the Banana Nanas,” says Cole. “Think about all the things that are long and slow with baseball and try to make it entertaining.”

Cole decided to combine one of the most popular sports in the United States with his own entertaining twist. He created a show based on the style of some of his favorite entertainers.

“I’ve taken tons of inspiration from Walt Disney and P.T. Barnum, Cirque du Soleil, and ‘Saturday Night Live,’” says Cole. “What the greatest entertainers do is they put themselves in their fans’ shoes.”

Banana Ball’s main focus is on entertaining its fan base. At first glance, when tuning into one of their games, it may look like a regular baseball game. That is, until the players start dancing on the field.

“Whenever we score a run or somebody hits a double or somebody hits a home run, we’re ready to roll those [dances] out,” says Kyle Luigs, a pitcher for the Bananas. “We work very closely with our entertainment team as well as our creative team.”

The hard work that everybody on the team does to both play an actual baseball game and coordinate the dances really pays off. 

“Practice-wise, about half our practice looks the same as a normal baseball practice and then the other half is wildly different,” says the head coach of the Bananas, Tyler Gillum. “We got guys on stilts, we are practicing balancing bats, we’re juggling. We have a trampoline that stays on the field. Our guys are always working on acrobatics.”

Entertainment like this has never been seen before in baseball, and because of that and their outreach to social media, the Savannah Bananas have gotten tremendous attention. With their TikTok account racking up millions of views and news stations across the country reporting on them, almost everyone has heard of this team.

“Right now, we have two million people on our waitlist to get tickets, but we only have one million tickets available,” says Gillum.

With reaching more and more people by the minute, the players are excited to make an impact on as many fans as possible.

“My favorite part about [Banana Ball] is that it has an impact on the next generation of baseball players,” says Luigs. “I enjoy continuing to push that boundary of what can you do in front of a live audience that they’ve never seen before and that’s gonna be all the rave they wanna talk about long after the game’s played.”

With the addition of games at six major league ballparks this season, along with a Banana Ball cruise, Bananaland at Sea, in October, and the hopes of eventually taking the game overseas, Cole hopes to continue entertaining fans for years to come.

The battle for the Stanley Cup begins

Alex Ovechkin prepares for a Stanley Cup playoff game. PHOTO COURTESY OF CLYDE / FLICKR

Katelyn Auty
Head Copy Editor
Social Media Editor

The 2024 Stanley Cup playoffs officially began on Saturday, April 20. There are still so many questions left unanswered. Can the Vegas Golden Knights win for the second year in a row? Will the New York Rangers break the Presidents’ Trophy curse? No matter what happens, this postseason is certainly shaping up to be full of fascinating stories. 

First round: Eastern Conference

Florida Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Game 1: 3-2 Panthers
Game 2: 3-2 Panthers
Game 3: April 25, 7 p.m.
Game 4: April 27, 5 p.m.
Game 5: April 29, 1 p.m. (if needed)
Game 6: May 1, 1 p.m. (if needed)
Game 7: May 4, TBD (if needed)

The Panthers and Lightning met three times in the regular season. Of those three games, Florida won two. The Panthers finished the regular season with a record of 52-24-6 with 110 points, earning themselves the third seed in the playoffs. The Lightning finished with a record of 45-29-8 with 98 points, earning the top wildcard spot. I predict Florida will defeat Tampa Bay in six games. I think the Panther’s offense will prove to be too much for the Lightning to handle. 

Boston Bruins vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
Game 1: 5-1 Bruins
Game 2: 3-2 Maple Leafs
Game 3: 4-2 Bruins
Game 4: April 27, 8 p.m.
Game 5: April 30, TBD (if needed)
Game 6: May 2, 3 p.m. (if needed)
Game 7: May 4, 3 p.m. (if needed)

In the four times they met this year, the Bruins beat the Maple Leafs every time. The Bruins finished with a record of 47-20-15, earning the fourth seed in the playoffs. The Maple Leafs finished this regular season with a record of 46-26-10, with 102 points, earning the fifth seed. I predict that Boston will win in seven. This may be the most evenly-matched series in the East, but I think Boston will take lessons learned from last year’s mistakes and defeat Toronto. 

New York Rangers vs. Washington Capitals
Game 1: 4-1 Rangers
Game 2: 4-3 Rangers
Game 3: April 26, 7 p.m.
Game 4: April 28, 8 p.m.
Game 5: May 1, 1 p.m. (if needed)
Game 6: May 3, TBD (if needed)
Game 7: May 5, TBD (if needed)

The Rangers and Capitals met four times in the regular season, both teams going 2-2-0 against the other. The Rangers earned the number one seed and the Presidents’ Trophy this season, ending with a record of 55-23-4 with 114 points. The Capitals ended the season with a record of 40-31-11, earning 91 points and the eighth seed in the playoffs. I predict that the Rangers will win this series in five. The Capitals may win a game, or maybe even two, but there’s no way they’ll be able to defeat the Rangers. 

Carolina Hurricanes vs. New York Islanders
Game 1: 3-1 Hurricanes
Game 2: 5-3 Hurricanes
Game 3: April 25, 7:30 p.m.
Game 4: April 27, 2 p.m.
Game 5: April 30, 1 p.m. (if needed)
Game 6: May 2, TBD (if needed)
Game 7: May 4, TBD (if needed)

The Hurricanes and Islanders met four times in the regular season and the Islanders went 2-1-1. The Hurricanes finished the regular season with a record of 52-23-7 with 111 points, earning them the second seed. The Islanders ended with a record of 39-27-16 with 94 points, earning the sixth seed in the playoffs. I predict that the Hurricanes will take the series in six games. The Islanders are pretty solid, but considering what Carolina has to work with, I don’t think New York can win this.

Western Conference:

Dallas Stars vs. Vegas Golden Knights
Game 1: 4-3 Golden Knights
Game 2: 3-1 Golden Knights
Game 3: April 27, 10:30 p.m.
Game 4: April 29, TBD
Game 5: May 1, 1 p.m. (if needed)
Game 6: May 3, 8 p.m. (if needed)
Game 7: May 5, 8 p.m. (if needed)

The Knights and Stars met three times in the regular season and the Knights won every time. The Stars finished the season with a record of 52-21-9 with 113 points, earning the first seed in the Western Conference. The Knights ended with a record of 45-29-8 with 98 points, earning the eighth seed. I predict Vegas will win in seven games. Even though the Stars have a solid defense, Vegas was last year’s cup winner, and the addition of Thomas Hertl should be enough to push Vegas over the edge. 

Winnipeg Jets vs. Colorado Avalanche
Game 1: 7-6 Jets
Game 2: 5-2 Avalanche
Game 3: April 26, 10 p.m.
Game 4: April 28, 2:30 p.m.
Game 5: April 30, TBD (if needed)
Game 6: May 2, TBD (if needed)
Game 7: May 4, TBD (if needed)

The Jets and Avalanche met three times in the regular season, all of which the Jets won. The Jets finished the season with a record of 52-24-6 and 110 points, earning the second seed. The Avalanche ended the regular season with a record of 50-25-7, earning 107 and the fourth seed. I predict the Avalanche will win in seven games. Even though the Jets had a better regular season, I believe that Colorado has more high-end talent than the Jets. Nathan MacKinnon is one of the best players in the league, but Winnipeg lacks that kind of player in their lineup. 

Vancouver Canucks vs. Nashville Predators
Game 1: 4-2 Canucks
Game 2: 4-1 Predators
Game 3: April 26, 7:30 p.m.
Game 4: April 28, 5 p.m.
Game 5: April 30, TBD (if needed)
Game 6: May 3, TBD (if needed)
Game 7: May 5, TBD (if needed)

The Canucks beat the Predators all three times that they met during the regular season. The Canucks finished the season with a record of 50-23-9 with 109 points, earning the third seed. The Predators had a record of 47-30-5 and 99 points, earning themselves the sixth seed. I predict Vancouver will win in seven games. Nashville has been hot lately after breaking their franchise record for the longest win streak. However, I believe that Vancouver is the better team. The Predators do have an advantage in net, but I don’t believe that difference will be enough for them to win. 

Edmonton Oilers vs. Los Angeles Kings
Game 1: 7-4 Oilers
Game 2: 5-4 Kings
Game 3: April 26, 10:30 p.m.
Game 4: April 28, 10:30 p.m.
Game 5: May 1, TBD (if needed)
Game 6: May 3, 8 p.m. (if needed)
Game 7: May 5, 8 p.m. (if needed)

The Oilers and Kings met four times during the regular season, with the Oilers defeating the Kings three times. The Oilers ended the regular season with a record of 49-27-6, earning 104 points and the fifth seed. The Kings finished the season with a record of 44-27-11 with 99 points, earning the seventh seed. I predict that the Oilers will win in six games. Connor McDavid is the best player in the league, and after the kind of year he had this season, Edmonton is poised for a late run. The Kings enter as the underdog in this matchup, and I think they can hang with Edmonton, but I just don’t think Los Angeles will be able to limit McDavid. 

With exciting matchups across the Eastern and Western conferences, this postseason is certain to be one with some compelling storylines. As the playoffs progress, hockey fans can look forward to thrilling games in the pursuit of the Stanley Cup.