What Do We Mean, College Writing?

Like me, both of my guests on today’s episode are lecturers in the Rhetoric and Composition program at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. At App State, we have what is called The Vertical Writing Curriculum, which is a series of four required writing courses for students. The first-year course is called RC 1000 Expository Writing and the second year course is called RC 2001 Writing Across the Curriculum. Each of my guests coordinates one of those required courses.

  • Ben Good coordinates the RC 1000 Expository Writing courses
  • Kelly Terzaken coordinates the RC 2001 Writing Across the Curriculum courses
Audio version above and also in Podcast App of iPhone. Search for: Torg Stories Podcast

We begin this episode by discussing the problematic nature of the phrase, “college writing” and then we begin to work our way through a discussion of the course goals and outcomes for both Expository Writing and Writing Across the Curriculum. We also reference the Writing Across the Curriculum office and the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) position statement about the teaching of writing.

I’d love to hear from you with comments or questions about your own ideas related to the notion of college writing. Thanks so much for checking out the podcast!

Mars Hill University Coach Emry Tsitouris

Today’s guest on the Torg Stories Podcast is the new head coach at Mars Hill University, Coach Emry Tsitouris. Mars Hill is located just north of Asheville, North Carolina and competes at the Division II level as a member of the South Atlantic Conference. Coach Tsitouris was hired in the spring of 2022 and was previously an assistant coach at Catawba College. Tsitouris played college basketball at both USC Aiken and Belmont Abbey.

Audio File Above of Conversation with Coach Emry Tsitouris

You can also access this episode through the podcast app of an iPhone. Just search for Torg Stories.

YouTube video edition of the episode:

Here are some topics covered in the episode:

  • The story of Coach hearing about, applying for, and eventually accepting the position as head coach at Mars Hill.
  • Some of the first things she did on the job.
  • So, where is Mars Hill? What’s it like there?
  • How has the roster changed since you took the job?
  • What are you looking for when it comes to a Mars Hill player?
  • What was with the combine portion of your elite camp?
  • How would you describe your preferred style of play?
Coach Tsitouris is center in her long sleeve “Mars Hill Lions” shirt

You can reach Coach Tsitouris on Twitter @Emry_T.

Connect with me on Twitter @BillTorg.

Thanks for checking out this episode of the Torg Stories Podcast!

Leadership Secrets of Alabama Coach Nick Saban

I’ve just finished reading John Talty’s book, The Leadership Secrets of Nick Saban: How Alabama’s Coach Became the Greatest Ever. When I finish a book, I’m in the habit of typing up what I’d call golden lines. What follows below are some of the lines from the book that resonated with me.

I came to reading this book after starting on a path years ago of trying to learn everything I could about New England Patriot Coach Bill Belichick. Some of my reading and viewing stops have included reading Benedict’s The Dynasty, Demasio’s Parcells: A Football Life, O’Connor’s Belichick, Wickersham’s It’s Better to be Feared, Lombardi’s Gridiron Genius, and watching the documentary films Belichick & Saban: The Art of Coaching and ESPN’s The Two Bills. I enjoyed each of the books and films in that list.

Here are some of the lines I picked out from the book:

  • “Your toughness is a direct reflection of your conditioning.”
  • “It’s difficult to overstate just how important that first year is to establish a culture after taking over an organization.”
  • From Villanova’s Jay Wright on the importance of team building: “We were getting good players, but I don’t think I did a good job of structuring our roster.”
  • On when to start working with players on their leadership skills: “Saban worked to develop players like Julio Jones and Mark Barron into leaders the moment they arrived on campus. He believes you can’t wait until a player is a junior or senior to start preparing him to be a leader.”
  • I always enjoy reading about how coaches work together: “The daily meetings Kiffin was required to attend at 7:30 am frustrated him, as did the regimented approach Saban preferred. Kiffin was more of a freethinker, an artist whose work was beautiful play calls. Ken Smithmier, the president of P3 insights, identified Kiffin as a people (intrinsic) dominant person while Saban was a vision (systemic) dominant person…Kiffin fell under the fast domain and preferred intuitive, fast decision-making while Saban as a slow thinker wanted a more deliberate approach.”
  • Try to erase negative self talk: “In basic terms, negative self-talk could be self-defeating and had a way of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
  • It’s easier to get a commitment from the players and staff if the head coach is all in: “He’s never taken a day off, never missed a second of a meeting, never missed a second of practice. -Keaton Anderson on Saban.”
  • “Saban would guide ‘what if’ meetings in the lead-up to games where his staff could throw out scenarios that could pop up and then debate what they should do.”
  • What players should play in the game? “Saban is very open about the fact that he’d play a well-prepared yet less talented player than a talented player who hasn’t put in the work to learn the playbook.”
  • “You never want to waste a failing.” And it’s companion phrase: “So what? Now what?” We failed; now what are we going to do about it? What’s the plan?
  • Parcells on truth telling: “You have to tell them the truth about their performance, you have to tell it to them face-to-face, and you have to tell it to them over and over again.”
  • “You can’t just do a one-off message; it has to be reinforced.”
  • “He lays out very clear job responsibilities and expectations for everyone in the organization, a skill he traces back to his time working for Belichick in Cleveland.”
  • Bears coach Matt Eberflus on Saban: “I’ve learned to define roles for everybody. This is what Coach Saban did for coaches. For each individual player on a given play, (they know) what their role is. Not only in terms of execution, but what it takes mentally and physically how we’re going to play the game.

After finishing up this book, I’ve downloaded a sample onto my Kindle of Phil Savage and Ray Glier’s 4th and Goal Everyday: Alabama’s Relentless Pursuit of Perfection.

Coach James Janssen of Davidson College

Coach James Janssen is the guest of this episode of the Torg Stories podcast. Coach Janssen is the associate head coach of the women’s basketball team at Davidson College.

You can click on the audio or video versions below and you can also search for “Torg Stories” in the podcast app of an iPhone.

Connect to Torg Stories on Apple podcasts by clicking here.

Here are some topics covered during the conversation:

  • U17 Basketball World Cup
  • Coach Janssen and the Australian Basketball Landscape
  • Division of labor among the staff at Davidson
  • Tag Up System of Offensive Rebounding and Transition Defense

Thanks for checking out this episode of the Torg Stories Podcast!

Disney World Vacation: Resources for Planning

During the summer of 2022 my family took a trip to Disney World in Orlando. Before I share some of the resources I used to plan our trip, here are some relevant details:

  1. When did we go? We decided in April of 2022 to visit Walt Disney World starting Sunday August 7th
  2. Who went on the trip? Myself, my wife Megan, Charlotte age 16 and Izzy age 14
  3. Had we been before? Just once, ten years ago in 2012.
  4. What kind of vacations do we like? We mostly like to be on the go when it comes to a vacation. We thought about flying into Seattle, renting a car, and driving to Los Angeles but the high cost of plane tickets made us look for an alternate trip. You might say my wife Megan is the best at knowing how to relax. My daughter Izzy and I are the ones who really like to go from one thing to the next. Izzy is the most adventurous amusement park rider. My wife and I can both get motion sickness.
Ten years between family Disney World trips
photographs by Megan Torgerson

Here are some of the questions I remember facing pretty quickly in my planning. I’ll get to answering them in upcoming posts:

  1. How many nights should we stay?
  2. Which hotel resort?
  3. Would we go to Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and EPCOT?
  4. Should I purchase the park hopper option?
  5. What about Genie+? 

Here are some resources I found helpful for the planning of our trip:

  1. The Kindle version of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2022. I use an iPad to read from the Kindle app, and I really enjoy being able to highlight passages and take notes in the app.
  2. Purchased access to the book’s accompanying website TouringPlans.com. This included access to their Lines WDW phone app. I used this app constantly during our time in Orlando and found that its estimated wait times for rides was more accurate than what was posted in each Disney Park.
  3. Downloaded and started to get familiar with the Disney World phone app.

The Disney World and Lines WDW apps were not only useful in trip planning, but I also used them constantly when we were in the parks.

Some helpful YouTube videos:

  1. Genie+ Priorities at Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, EPCOT, and Animal Kingdom. These are all videos published on the TouringPlans channel.
  2. How to Conquer Rise of the Resistance by AllEars.net.
  3. How to get a boarding group for any Disney attraction. by Mark Ambrose. This one helped us nail our boarding group for EPCOT’s new coaster Guardians of the Galaxy.
  4. My Disney Experience APP Tutorial by Bear Savvy.

Two podcasts I listened to:

  1. Disney Travel Secrets
  2. That Park Life

Thanks for checking out this post and let me know in the comments section if you’ve got your own tips you think would be helpful to others or if you have additional questions about our family trip.