Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Head in the clouds

While sitting more than 9,000 feet above the world at the summit of the Haleakala Volcano on Maui, Hawaii, this summer, Julie Carter '10 flashed her Horned Frog pride. This "active" volcano, which hasn't erupted since the 16th century, was a great place to contemplate passage from student to career woman. Julie, who double majored in ad/PR and Spanish, is currently serving an internship with Spaeth Communications in Dallas and hopes to find work doing community relations at a non-profit organization.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ashley Aebersold '90 and her summer mission trip

For nearly three weeks this summer, a tiny orphanage in Khongor, Mongolia, flew a TCU flag, thanks to Ashley Aebersold '90.

Normally a deaf education teacher in Stokes County, N.C., Aebersold spent 20 days in June and July on a medical/mission trip handing out medicine, vitamins, eye glasses, even rubber tips to put at the base of walking canes.

"Patients would receive a month's worth of certain medications they needed," said Aebersold, who went on the trip with a group called LifeQwest and her father, who is a retired physician. "They were so happy to receive Motrin."

The group, which included two doctors, two nurses and support personnel also traveled to Baruunburen, Khutel, Orkhan, Dulaanxaan and Shaamar, passing out pamphlets in Mongolian about high blood pressure and prevention techniques. The team traveled to remote villages and set up "hospitals" for the day.

"People would line up for miles to see an American doctor, and we would have to turn some away due to time," she said. "We could only provide very limited medical services due to the availability of supplies in Mongolia. For example, there's only one magnetic resonance imaging machine (MRI) in the whole country."

In addition to passing along some English to the children, Aebersold did manage to teach the TCU hand sign and left T-shirts behind for them. The orphanage compound flew the TCU flag.

She intends to return to Asia again.

"We as Americans need to be thankful for our medical care," she said. "This is a wonderful organization, and I am definitely traveling back next summer!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Preston Figley '55 shares a tennis memory

I was bragging to a friend about my son's tennis — Stefan (class of '95) was the No. 1 Texas junior, a college all-American, two trips with TCU to the NCAA Championships, beat Sampras and Agassi in the pros.

That last part I made up.

My friend said, "I think most of athleticism is in the genes. I imagine you must have been pretty good yourself."

Well, shucks, I do have something of a tennis record. I have never before made it public. Judge for yourself.

My career started in earnest when my Denver City High School principal got me out of study hall to play. That beat both studying and hitting a ball against the gym wall. My competitive highlight was a loss to the eventual state champion in the finals of our district tournament. Or maybe it was the semis. Come to think of it, maybe he lost at State. It was a long time ago.

My skills were such that I became the practice partner of a girl player whom I trained to such a keen edge that she won District and went on to State. I, however, did not accompany her as planned. She cut classes the last day of school and was punished by making me stay home. I'm still trying to figure that out.

At TCU, my equally accomplished doubles partner and I combined to post a defeated freshman season (as opposed to undefeated). Not only were freshmen not eligible to play on the varsity team, they actually wore beanies, though not usually during a match. Beanies, for you younger folks, are skullcaps. Skullcaps? Forget it.

At a summer tournament during college I snagged one game off the Southwest Conference champion after he double-faulted twice, missed a volley that would have decapitated me had I not fallen, and I mis-hit a winner. I also lost the Seminole Open that year. I choked. I admit it.

But I had my days. One was when I won the TCU intramural championship on the sand — the Athletic Department called it "clay" — over a field of four or five other students who also owned racquets. Another was when I did it again the next year, while my parents watched in our loaded car, waiting to drive me back to Denver City. Other than my opponent they were the only witnesses. I still have the two tiny medals, each about the size of a quarter.

I have saved the best for last. I am TCU's only undefeated varsity player. It's true. I played one match and won it. I remember it like it was today. We were scheduled to play St. Mary's of San Antonio at River Crest Country Club. Don't ask me why. Maybe it was because River Crest had real clay courts.

I wasn't actually on the team, but I went over to watch. As match time approached, Coach Burch was frantic. "Where's Terry?! Where's Terry?!!" Terry was the No. 6 player and my erstwhile defeated freshman doubles partner, and he was nowhere to be seen.

"Where's Terry?" pleaded Coach. So I stepped forward and said: "Coach, put me in." Or words to that effect. So he did. And I won. In three sets, fighting back from an 0-6 first set. Or maybe I won it 6-0 and lost the second 0-6. Something like that, but whatever, I won against a tough St. Mary's guy. I'm certain it was a guy, although St. Mary's was all-girl at one point. It was before then.

Maybe my friend is right about talent being in the genes. But my son is adopted.

Preston Figley served as a U.S. Army lieutenant in Germany, held public relations jobs in Washington, D.C., Cleveland and Dallas, and came full circle back to Fort Worth to join Witherspoon & Associates, retiring as Executive Vice President after 24 years with the advertising and public relations firm. He and his wife, Petra, devote much of their time to their 35-year business, Old Maps and Prints (http://www.americamaps.com).

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Race Frog

Psychology senior Tom Sutherland shares his Horned Frog pride each time he races. This photo, taken by his mom, Lani, is from American LeMans Series Monterey, a 6-hour race at Laguna Seca raceway. Tom finished 3rd in class, 4th overall.

For information about American Lemans, go to http://www.americanlemans.com.

Future Frogs

Andrea Denney Russell '98 sent this picture of her son Travis and friends when they graduated from pre-school in Wichita Falls. With Travis are Emma Kirk, daughter of Murphy Davis '97 MBA, who is an investment advisor for Sentry Management; and Kendall Davis, daughter of Lindsey Watson Kirk '99, who is a school teacher and expecting her third child in September. Russell is a stay-at-home mom who volunteers her time frequently to the community.