UAH’s Fitzgerald Dodds adopts positive mindset to become top student researcher in Kinesiology

Fitzgerald Dodds was in restart mode in fall 2017. It was his first full semester back at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). Dodds was determined to correct the mistakes he made before and “put everything” into earning his degree.

Dodds’ first attempt as a UAH student stalled because of financial problems and other personal matters, resulting in a “lackluster” academic performance.

“I considered changing majors and even dropping out of school altogether. I eventually decided that I needed a break from school to save money and prioritize my life,” said Dodds (’19, BS, Kinesiology).

“After my time away from the university I felt nervous about returning to campus…I felt like I had let my professors down and wasted their time,” he said. “I quickly realized that the Kinesiology staff had not given up on me and had all the faith in me to succeed when I had no faith in myself. That’s when I realized Kinesiology was the major and career for me.”

Kinesiology was always Dodds’s first choice as an academic major. The Lancaster, OH, native knew he didn’t have time to waste. So, he began the fall 2018 semester strong, enrolling in a 17-hour course load, and working on exercise science research projects.

Dodds assisted Dr. Ryan Conners and Dr. Paul Whitehead, professors of Exercise Science in the Kinesiology department with a research project maximizing player performance with the UAH Hockey team. In addition, Dodds sought permission to begin his own research study with the UAH Charger baseball team.

Due to a conflict with teaching schedules the next semester, Whitehead and Conners placed Dodds in charge of all the data collection for the latter half of the hockey study. “It quickly turned into a lot of early mornings at the Huntsville Von Braun Center to catch the team before they got on the ice to practice.”

Dodds’ research team worked with the UAH baseball team exploring the idea of shoulder strength and range of motion (flexibility).

“We took this idea and applied it by separating the team into position players and pitchers and looked to see if there were differences between the two groups,” Dodds said. “We hypothesized that the pitchers would have higher strength and flexibility values since they see most of the throwing volume throughout a season, but what we found was just the opposite and the two groups ended up being pretty even in both strength and flexibility. Group findings from the baseball study have opened the door for more research,” he added.

Academic research for some college students might be discouraging, but for Dodds, it was one of the main reasons he sought a degree in a field that required experimental research.

Recently accepted at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) Graduate Exercise Science Program, Dodds also earned a graduate assistant position while at USM to work on concussion research this fall with Dr. Scott Piland. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) funds the USM project. Dodds will also continue to help Conners and Whitehead with ice hockey research at UAH.

“The Kinesiology program at UAH was not easy by any stretch of the imagination, and it really prepared me for what I will be doing at USM,” Dodds said. “While the program was difficult I truly believe the required research classes and last project truly prepare you for life after UAH — whether for graduate school or a professional career.

“I would never have made it through the Kinesiology program, or be in the academic position I am in today without the support of Liz Reading, Dr. Whitehead, Dr. Conners, and Dr. Jeremy Elliott,” Dodds said. “I firmly believe this is the best exercise science department in the state because the instructors and advisors have a vested interest in your success if you are willing to put in the time and effort.”

Dodds’ advice for high school and freshman university students entering the UAH Kinesiology program is to come ready to work hard and ask for help when things get tough. “Lean on the department staff because they are extremely knowledgeable and genuinely care about your success in whatever you chose to do with your degree.”

(Courtesy of University of Alabama in Huntsville)

5 mins ago

Jack’s offering free coffee to teachers August 17–21 — ‘A small way we hope to say thank you’

Jack’s Family Restaurants is celebrating teachers as they kick off the 2020 school year by offering free coffee at all of its locations from August 17–21.

According to a release, all teachers can receive their free coffee from Jack’s, in the drive-thru or in the restaurant, Monday through Friday until 9:00 a.m. with a valid school ID.

No purchase is necessary to redeem the offer, and teachers can choose between a hot or iced regular-sized coffee, limit one per guest.

“Being a good neighbor and supporting the communities we serve is part of the Jack’s DNA,” stated Jack’s CEO Todd Bartmess.

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“Offering free coffee to our hardworking teachers as they kick off an unusual school year is a small way we hope to say ‘thank you’ for everything they do,” he added.

Founded in 1960 in Homewood, Alabama, Jack’s Family Restaurants started as Jack’s Hamburgers in a walk-up hamburger stand that served burgers, fries, sodas and shakes.

The chain over the past 60 years has grown to almost 200 locations in four states across the South.

This is merely the latest in a long line of examples of Jack’s continuing to support its local communities as the chain grows.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

26 mins ago

Michael Jordan speaks to Univ. of Alabama football team — ‘Winning has a price’

Basketball legend Michael Jordan on Tuesday spoke via video conference to the University of Alabama football team.

The program, led by head coach Nick Saban, routinely has some of the most successful, well-known athletes and leaders from across the nation address the team each summer in preparation for the fall season.

Previous examples reported by Yellowhammer News include the late Kobe Bryant, as well as speakers from the business and political sectors such as world-famous entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk.

Alabama Athletics shared a one-minute video clip from Jordan’s virtual visit. Players seen in the video were socially distanced and wearing masks at the team facility.

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“This guy — I have the most respect for, of anybody, as a competitor. This guy is a great competitor,” Saban said introducing Jordan to the team.

The Crimson Tide coach also praised Jordan in recent months during the premier of the popular 10-part documentary “The Last Dance.”

Jordan spoke to the team on Tuesday about what it takes to be a champion.

“Winning has a price,” the six-time NBA champion said. “You have to put forth the effort every single day.”

“Coaching can only give you the motivation — they can give you plays and they can give you all that — but at the end of the day, you’ve got to have self-determination. You have to want to be the best,” Jordan advised.

He added, “If you’re all on the same page and everybody wants to win, that’s the whole process. If you guys are sitting there putting on that Alabama uniform, your attitude is about winning. Winning is a part of me. I will do anything to win. Your energy should be towards winning.”

Watch:

Alabama Football also shared this famous quote from Jordan in a tweet: “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”

The program, led by its players with support from the staff and administration, are currently trying to save the 2020 fall college football season.

RELATED: Alabama Senate majority leader to SEC: Let them play

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 hour ago

Alabama’s small business community needs Congress’ support

Affordable health care has long been a cause of concern for small business across our country with the cost of coverage has consistently ranked at the top of small business owners’ concerns. And now, amid a global health crisis, health coverage is more important than ever. As someone with years of experience working in the healthcare industry and alongside businesses, I have seen firsthand how the small business community faces unique challenges when it comes to employer-sponsored benefits.

There is no doubt that each employer wants to give employees the best benefits possible. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it makes small businesses competitive, attracting a more skilled workforce and helping to keep employees healthy. However, the large majority of small business owners run on extremely small margins, and as health care costs continue to rise, it is even more difficult to provide employees with quality health care coverage.

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Alabama is known for our friendly small business community, inviting many small employers to plant their roots in the Yellowhammer State. This is why we’re proud to have over 380,000 small businesses that employ over 765,000 of our state’s residents. Small businesses are, and always have been, the backbone of our economy. Alabama laws historically promote competition and small business growth but despite this, we still need our federal lawmakers to support us, especially at a time when businesses are struggling.

Today, with the pandemic continuing to spread across our state, small business owners are struggling to stay in business, and they are bracing for the full financial impacts of COVID-19. It is a devastating situation to be in and our small business community cannot survive on its own.

Fortunately, we have very dedicated small business champions in Washington, D.C. who have been working tirelessly to ensure any federal COVID-19 relief includes small businesses.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Senator Doug Jones and Congresswoman Terri Sewell supported bipartisan legislation that in 2019 repealed an Obamacare tax known as the Health Insurance Tax (HIT). This erroneous tax increased the price of health insurance for small business owners. Now we need them to further continue that work and work to implement policies that will continue to lower the cost of health care for small business owners, their employees, and their families, especially at a time when having health care is so crucial. A healthy workforce that is ready, and able, to get back to work is vital to our state, and country’s economic recovery.

Small business owners want to continue to provide health care for their employees, but they need Congress’ help to do so. I ask that our elected officials continue to come together to support Alabama’s small business community, especially when it comes to lowering health care costs and making health care more affordable — both as we continue to overcome COVID-19 and long beyond.

Curtis Cannon is a Managing Partner at Axis Recovery and has over 15 years of experience working with health insurance companies, brokers and consulting firms.

1 hour ago

Doug Jones: Kamala Harris ‘exactly what we need’

U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) on Wednesday sent out a fundraising email to his supporters celebrating that his “friend” U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) has been selected as the 2020 Democratic vice presidential nominee.

Harris joins former Vice President Joe Biden on the Democratic ticket. Jones is a longtime ally of Biden and was one of the first major elected officials in the country to endorse his presidential bid this cycle. It was also announced on Tuesday shortly before Harris was named as the VP nominee that Jones will be a featured speaker at the Democratic National Convention next week.

Reacting to Harris’ selection on Wednesday, Jones wrote, “First of all, I’m proud of my friend and colleague. Her tenacity and dedication are exactly what we need to take on so many of the challenges we face, from helping save lives and livelihoods during this pandemic to finally ending systemic racism.”

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Harris has previously announced support for Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, decriminalizing illegal immigration, gun confiscation and other policy proposals championed by the far-left. She even once compared ICE agents to the Ku Klux Klan.

“This election is going to come down to the contrast between unity and division, and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris know how to bring people together. In a lot of ways, it’s similar to what we saw in 2017. Everything we’re seeing shows that not only do we have to make sure everyone hears about our message of unity, but we also have to energize traditionally underrepresented communities like Black and Latinx voters,” Alabama’s junior senator added in his email. “We sure did that in 2017 – I know the power and energy of Black women and the difference their hard work made in my race.”

“Now, we can do it again, and we’ll make history by electing our first Black and South Asian woman Vice President. I’m so proud that person will be my friend and colleague,” he concluded, with the email ending with a link to a fundraising page for Jones’ campaign.

This is not the first time Jones has used Harris to solicit support for his campaign. She sent out a fundraising email for Jones last year.

The junior senator from California earlier this year also traveled to Birmingham in support of Jones’ reelection bid.

Harris during that appearance said that she and Jones “are always cuttin’ up and sending each other notes” in the Senate.

She added, “We were cuttin’ up in the impeachment hearings. Some of those words would not be spoken in church.”

Harris and Jones each voted twice to remove President Donald Trump from office at the conclusion of those impeachment hearings.

Her running mate on the Democratic ticket to unseat Trump has actively supported Jones’ campaign, as well. Biden campaigned in Alabama for Jones during the 2017 election.

Paige Lindgren, a spokesperson for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, on Wednesday noted, “Despite his claims of bipartisanship, Anti-Trump Democrat Doug Jones has hitched his wagon to a potential Biden-Harris administration.”

“By doing this in a state that overwhelming supports the President, Jones has given up on representing the conservative values that Alabamians hold true,” she concluded.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 hours ago

Boeing submits Next Generation Interceptor proposal that would create Alabama jobs, continue to protect American homeland

Boeing on Wednesday submitted its proposal to the U.S. Missile Defense Agency for the Next Generation Interceptor (NGI) competition, with the stakes being high for Alabama.

The company is proposing a design that leverages Boeing’s more than 60-year track record and unparalleled expertise in strategic missile and weapon systems.

The NGI will be the interceptor successor for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system, currently the nation’s only defense program capable of protecting the entire United States homeland, including Alaska and Hawaii, against long-range ballistic missiles from threats such as North Korea and Iran. The GMD currently uses Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicles launched by Ground-Based Interceptors to track long-range ballistic missile threats and use collision force to destroy the target.

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Boeing manages the GMD program out of Huntsville as the prime contractor for the Department of Defense. The company has led the industry team since the inception of the program in 1998 with engineers and experts who work in Alabama.

The Missile Defense Agency put out a request for proposal on the NGI in April, saying that two companies will be selected to compete to build the final interceptor. That contract award is expected later this year.

If selected, Boeing will utilize its proven capabilities and a best-of-industry team, based primarily out of Huntsville alongside its Missile and Weapon Systems division headquarters, to ensure a unique, state-of-the-art offering is delivered on time.

“Boeing’s NGI proposal delivers unmatched performance, affordability and reliability for the nation and the warfighter,” stated Norm Tew, Missile and Weapon Systems vice president and general manager, and Huntsville site senior executive for Boeing. “Building upon our prior investments and proven technologies, our innovative proposal offers a creative, compelling and game-changing technical approach to outpace, out-innovate, deter and defeat rapidly evolving advanced threats.”

Boeing already directly employs more than 3,000 people in the Yellowhammer State, with approximately 5,400 employees and retirees being residents of the state. However, the company’s economic impact is much larger than those impressive numbers alone.

As of 2018, Boeing generated an estimated $2.3 billion of economic activity in the state annually. The company spent $606 million with nearly 200 suppliers, supporting about 18,000 direct and indirect jobs as of the latest available data.

The company’s NGI proposal could be key to continued job growth in Alabama.

“This program will create 1,000 new Boeing, supplier and other local jobs across the regional economy,” concluded Tew. “Boeing looks forward to continuing its strong relationship with Alabama, which spans nearly 60 years.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn