Utah Tech mens basketball team makes history during 2022-2023 season

The Utah Tech University men’s basketball team defied the odds, improved in every statistical category and made history along with multiple other achievements throughout the season. 

The team completed its 2022-2023 season March 9, falling short against Southern Utah University during the 2023 Hercules Tires Western Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament and finished with an overall record of 14-19 and a 5-13 conference record.

Despite the loss against SUU, the team proved itself and is continuing to adapt to the Division I change.

Head coach Jon Judkins said some of the most impactful accomplishments of the season was winning the first-ever WAC tournament conference game in addition to beating SUU and Seattle University during the regular season.

“It felt great, and it was a great experience for our guys to see and feel what the NCAA is all about,” Judkins said. “I’m very proud of these guys. We made history for Utah Tech, and we hope to make more in the future.”

The team also improved its 3-point shooting percentage and moved up in the KenPom rating. Utah Tech’s rating was 328 during the team’s first DI year, 278 in the second year and is now 147 this year. 

“I think we are doing a great job adapting to the DI change,” Judkins said. “We know it is going to take some patience and time, but I like where we are heading. We made a big jump this year.” 

Jacob Nicolds, a fifth-year Dixie State University graduate from Mesa, Arizona, also said beating SUU at home was a great accomplishment because of the full house and loud energy in addition to the NCAA DI postseason victory.

Nicolds said: “[The postseason victory] was one of the best feelings in my life. No one besides us expected us to go in there and come out with a victory. We came so close to coming about with at least two, but some things just didn’t end up going our way. I will hold onto those memories for my entire life and am proud to say that I was on that team and in this transition period.” 

Judkins said seeing the team get better and better each year is a major motivating factor and that the team “needs to be patient and take baby steps.” Going forward, recruiting will be a major aspect that is focused on going into next season. 

“We need to replace a lot of players this year, and we need to get better at each position,” Judkins said. 

The Utah Tech men’s basketball team will continue to improve and begin its 2023-2024 season in November.

Utah Tech Baseball stopped by Stephen F. Austin

The Utah Tech University baseball team hosted the Stephen F. Austin University Lumberjacks March 24-26.

No. 46, Tyson Fisher, a senior communication studies major from St. George, was the designated hitter March 24. The starting pitcher was No. 18, Brett Porthan, a junior communication studies major from Tooele.

The Lumberjacks were up first to bat March 24, and with a collection of base hits and bundts, they were able to score the first run of the game.

The Trailblazers got caught up in the bottom of the first inning, after an initial walk-on, and were not able to put any runs up on the scoreboard.

No runs were scored in the second inning for the Lumberjacks or the Trailblazers.

The first pitch of the third inning by the Trailblazers allowed for a Lumberjack, out-of-the-park home run, followed by a runner being batted in by another home run. The Lumberjacks ended the third inning with a total of four runs.

The first home run for the Trailblazers was hit by Fisher in the bottom of the fourth inning. This was his first home run of the season. This run brought the score to 4-1.

No. 50, Chase Rodriquez, a junior sociology major from Las Vegas, hit the second home run for the Trailblazers and got two more runners batted in, bringing the score 8-4 at the bottom of the fifth.

No. 7, Parker Schmidt, a junior finance major from Las Vegas, hit his first home run of the season in the bottom of the sixth that brought another batter in raising the score 8-6.

Rodriquez hit another home run in the bottom of the seventh bringing the Trailblazers just one run away from tying up the score.

An uncaught throw to stop a stolen base by SFA allowed Utah Tech to score and tie up the game at the bottom of the eight. The game stayed tied until the extra inning.

Once SFA bases were loaded, three runners were batted in, giving the Lumberjacks an 11-8 lead.

The Lumberjacks continued to be hard hitters as two more runners were batted in ending the top of the tenth inning 13-8.

Schmidt hit an out-of-the-park home run that caused an RBI, bringing the Trailblazers’ score to 10 runs.

The Trailblazers were unable to come back to tie or out-score the Lumberjacks, ending the ball game with the score of 13-10.

Utah Tech came back the next day with hopes to out-bat SFA, but the Trailblazers fell behind 17-9.

Schmidt was the highest scoring player of the game for the Trailblazers by scoring three runs during his four at-bats.

The last match up between the Trailblazers and the Lumberjacks was on March 26. Utah Tech was even more determined and defensive on the field this game. The ball game was taken into a tenth inning, after the Trailblazers tied up the game 4-4 at the bottom of the sixth.

The Lumberjacks were able to score two runs in the top of tenth inning, and the Trailblazers could only follow scoring one RBI, bringing the end score 6-5.

The Trailblazers hope to start a winning streak while away playing California Baptist March 31-April 2.

Utah Tech’s first D-Week will have the same traditions as previous years

D-Week has been an annual tradition for 110 years. With the university name changing from Dixie State University to Utah Tech University, students can still expect to continue celebrating the same traditions. 

In the voting process, when changing the school name to Utah Tech, D-Week was voted on to keep as it is a tradition and maintains the school’s history. It has always been named D-Week and will remain that way for now. It is possible that the executive council on Utah Tech Student Association and President Richard “Biff” Williams’ cabinet will change it in the future if needed, but currently, the week’s name will stay the same.

Sarah Ramaker, the Assistant Director of student involvement and leadership, reminisces on the week’s impact for her as a student: “D-Week for me as a student was where I grew my love and passion for this university. It’s the first time I ever felt like I belonged on campus and I got to learn the deep history of our school. The school makes people feel so welcomed and loved.”

The planners for D-Week on UTSA have worked diligently to plan a week of events that appeal to everyone. Starting with April 3, the D-Week kickoff will happen at 8:30 a.m. where the campus will be decorated and interactive booths will be set up. Later on that night will be Brooks’ Block Party. The Trailblazer Queen Pageant will take place on April 4 in the Cox Auditorium. The Spring Fest that happens yearly at Utah Tech will also be a part of the D-Week Carnival. Events will continue throughout the week and end April 8 by whitewashing the “D” on the hill. 

Students and community members are welcomed and encouraged to participate in D-Week. D-Week is a time for everyone to come together and honor the history of Utah Tech. Although there was a name change, the week will still feel the same and have activities for all ages.

The Chief of Staff on UTSA, Alijah Caskinette, a senior history education major from West Valley City, said: “Our goal as UTSA is to get the community super involved this year in several events. We are really encouraging our community to come see how amazing our student body is and how inspiring our university’s growth can be by participating in all events at this year’s D-Week celebration.”

One specific part of D-Week, as mentioned priorly, is the Trailblazer Queen Pageant. The Trailblazer Queen Pageant’s name was changed from D-Queen because the people in UTSA who voted on it wanted a name that represented the winner in the best way possible. The pageant process and show will remain the same.

Ramaker said: “This pageant is meant to celebrate people of academic success and success outside of the classroom as they are getting involved in the incredible organizations we have around campus. It is meant to celebrate people who have the trailblazer spirit in them. We decided to transition the name so people can be proud of the title they are receiving.” 

Alumni, faculty, community members and students have the opportunity to make D-Week what they want it to be. It can positively affect everyone in St. George when they attend and get involved.

“D-Week is a celebration of our tradition, community, and trailblazer spirit,” Caskinette said. “I think this week serves as a reminder that our roots run deep in St. George, and that no matter what walk of life we come from, or where we end up in our futures, we will always have a home here at Utah Tech.” 

Ramaker said: “As a staff member, I get to pass this down to our students. As I help them plan events and as I help coach the Trailblazer Queens, I get to pass on that love and safety that someone gave me.”

This D-Week has tons of events lined up and everyone is invited to attend. Even though the university’s name changed, the school’s leaders will always recognize the history and the growth being made daily.

Students hope for a Student Union Building that offers more resources

The Student Activity Center is set to be replaced by a newly named Student Union Building, and students have high hopes for what it might offer.

“The current plan is probably to knock down the Student Activity Center and it’ll go from the road to the fountain,” said vice president of academics, Karson Ray, a senior biology major from Hurricane.

While the current Student Activity Center offers a gym and study rooms to students and faculty, students hope the future Student Union Building offers more.

Game rooms

Students want to see a form of entertainment in the future building, whether that be pool tables or a game room similar to what Campus View Suites II offers.

“[I would like to see] a good game room,” said Steven Broadbent, a senior graduating with a certificate in paramedic from Augusta, Georgia. “We had pool tables, but they were all sent to surplus.”

Newly elected student body president, Jose Toral-Martinez, a senior communication studies major form St. George, shares the hopes of a game area in the future building. He also hopes to find room for a garden area, movie lounge and more restaurants.

Study rooms

Several students want to see more study rooms and resources for students to use.

Tyler Freeman, a freshman management major from Ontario, California, said he would like to have somewhere to go and do homework, discuss ideas with friends and work on group projects.

“[Somewhere that has] the resources for students to do that as opposed to a couple of seats,” Freeman said.

Students would like to see study rooms featuring desks, computers and a specific place to do homework away from others.

Noah Ashton, a sophomore history major from St. George, expressed his want to have a more modern building with more spaces for students to hang out in.

Toral-Martinez said he would like for students to utilize this new building as a resource building.

“Having all of the organizations on campus placed in this building will make students feel more welcomed because there would be something for every student,” Toral-Martinez said.

More restaurants

A common issue students have with Utah Tech University is the lack of food options on campus. Students want a bigger variety of restaurants to choose from.

“We’ve been looking into different ideas,” Ray said. “A lot of them consist of a ton of new food options, between 15 and 20 new food options.”

Toral-Martinez also said students would benefit more if they had different options for food.

Students want to utilize the future Student Union Building as a place they do can everything: eat, study and hang out. With the common theme of adding more restaurants, students have similar visions of what they want this building to be.

Toral-Martinez plans on making sure everyone’s opinions and suggestions are heard through surveys on what they want from this building. Using these surveys, he wants to find ways on how he can implement them in the process of the new building.

“I would also like to have an open discussion with students to get votes on what students truly want,” Toral-Martinez said.

While plans for this building have not been solidified, students wants and needs are being taken into account in the planning.

Healthy Trailblazer Coalition’s efforts to help students at Utah Tech

When a student leaves home to pursue education, it often takes a toll on their mental health.

This is not something unique to Utah Tech University; it’s just a part of campus life. This is why the Healthy Trailblazers Coalition was established.

The coalition was created in spring of 2021 in order to help the students of Utah Tech receive the assistance they need in regards to their mental and physical health. Issues such as substance abuse, mental health struggles and suicide prevention are always on the to-do list of the many students and faculty who help the coalition function.

The coalition is not just a club, It’s an organization comprised of students and faculty with extra support from the Booth Wellness Center and Utah Tech Police Department.

The student representative of the coalition is Saige Coates, a junior nursing major from Herriman. Coates has been the head of the coalition since spring 2022 and has a desire to give back to community by tackling these grim subjects.

“I really liked the idea of educating myself and others on mental health, how to be healthy and how to cope in a healthy way,” Coates said. “I, myself, struggle with mental health. I have really bad anxiety and social anxiety, and this position kind of pushes me to put myself out there and you know, kind of deal with it but also in a more healthy way.”

Coates said the members of the coalition are always trying to find new ways to help the student body face their fears and overcome their mental struggles. One such way was to install a drug drop box at the Utah Tech Police Department. The police department then proceeds to dispose of the various substances by giving them to the state for incineration. Coates also mentioned a second drop box will be installed at the BWC in the coming weeks.

The events the coalition hosts also tackle more specific topics.

“Last semester we had Hot Cocoa With The Popo,” Coates said. “That was for students to kind of socialize with the campus police and kind of get to know them, to know they’re not the enemy. We’re actually doing a similar event this semester called Soda Pop With The Cops. It’s the same concept, but you know, a more warm weather type.”

Coates is just one of many people who help the coalition function. The adviser for the Healthy Trailblazers Coalition is Kasey Shakespear, an assistant director for the Southern Utah Area Health Education Center.

One of Shakespear’s goals is to collect data on what the student body of Utah Tech struggles with the most when it comes to mental health.

Shakespear said this is not a unique problem to Utah Tech. Every college and university have specific struggles and issues they have to deal with when it comes to topics like substance abuse, mental health and suicide.

“We have what’s called a key leader board comprised of administration staff and faculty, and they conduct surveys and collect data on behalf of the coalition as well as many other organizations,” Shakespear said. “It’s through that data where we begin to put together what’s called a community profile.”

Shakespear said a community profile is a list of issues that are specifically identified for the Utah Tech student body. Once they gather enough data, they plan to tackle these specific issues with help from the BWC.

Both Coates and Shakespear said students shouldn’t be afraid to seek out assistance with their mental health. It’s a completely normal thing to experience feelings of doubt after leaving home. The Healthy Trailblazers Coalition is here to help ease the burdens students may be carrying in their minds, and more than anything, they want students to know they’re always welcome at Utah Tech.

OPINION | SUU’s commencement speaker is the perfect fit for graduation day

Southern Utah University officials have made an excellent choice for the 2023 commencement speaker, yet some students aren’t happy.

On March 16, it was announced that Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a religious leader for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and a former president of Brigham Young University, would be the keynote speaker at the SUU graduation ceremony April 28.

Holland is an excellent choice of speaker for this event as he has an extensive background in education along with roots in southern Utah. Holland served as the ninth president of BYU from 1980 to 1989 and was born in St. George having started his college education at Dixie Junior College.

However, this announcement was followed by backlash from many SUU students who have misinterpreted some of Holland’s previous statements as an opposition to LGBTQ individuals.

During a 2021 talk given at BYU, Holland stated BYU must embrace its uniqueness which means upholding the views and teachings of the the church.

The church’s doctrine teaches same-sex attraction is not a sinful thing, and people who experience same-sex attraction are welcomed and accepted into the church.

However, the church also teaches, “Sexual relations are reserved for a man and woman who are married and promise complete loyalty to each other.”

Holland currently serves as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for the church, and it is his job to uphold and spread the teachings of the faith he is a part of. That means Holland was simply doing his job as church leader when he said what he did.

There are many different religions in this world, and they each have varying beliefs. However, for the members of each religion, it would be untrue to their beliefs if they were to change the way they looked at certain topics to match the views of the rest of the world.

Holland has always been consistent in his views and upheld his beliefs as they align with the church. It would be untrue of him to change his views due to the pressure of people outside his religion.

With that being said, nobody should be discriminated against or bashed on for their sexual orientation or anything similar, but this is where people have misunderstood Holland’s previous statements.

In the 2021 talk previously mentioned, Holland chose to use words and analogies such as “musket fire” and “defend” when referencing the church’s views on the LGBTQ community. This caused many people within the community to view his statements as offensive and prejudicial.

I can’t claim to understand the trials and prejudice everyone has faced; however, Holland was simply defending his church and urging members within it to uphold their beliefs.

Apart from the controversy surrounding Holland’s views, he has a large amount of experience in education which makes him a great choice to speak at a college commencement. Like previously mentioned, Holland served as the president of BYU for nine years after earning a Ph.D. in American Studies at Yale University. He also served in various roles including:

Religion is one of the protected freedoms we have in the United States. Nobody should be persecuted for what they believe as long as they treat everyone fairly. Holland was chosen as a speaker because of his extensive background in education, and he should not be unwelcomed because of his beliefs. Having someone as experienced as Holland will positively impact graduates if they are willing to listen to what he has to say.

Everyone has varying beliefs, and everyone is entitled to those beliefs as long as they are accepting and kind to others. Holland has always promoted inclusion and kindness. I am looking forward to what Holland has to say, and I encourage everyone to have an open mind and accept the people around them regardless of what they believe.

SPORTS OPINION | March Madness upsets all perfect brackets

The 2023 March Madness has brought nothing but major upsets and broken brackets.

From Fairleigh Dickinson University, the 16-seed, defeating Purdue University, the 1-seed, the beginning of this year’s March Madness is well described as chaos as there are currently no more perfect brackets left out of 20 million.

So far, we have seen the underdog teams come out victorious resulting in several upsets.

Round of 64 Upsets

FDU v. Purdue

For the first time, the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights knocked off Purdue with a five-point victory and one of the biggest upsets in the history of March Madness.

FDU proceeded to face off against Florida Atlantic University in the second round which resulted in an FAU win 78 to 70.

The reason this upset is so significant is that for the third time ever, a 16-seed defeated a 1-seed. The last time this occurred was in a 2018 tournament, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, finished the University of Virginia in a 20-point win.

Princeton University v. University of Arizona

This became another unexpected but crucial upset, as Princeton, a 15-seed, overcame Arizona, a 2-seed, in a four-point victory of 59 to 55.

Furman University v. University of Virginia

The time for advancing to the second round was ticking away as there were 30 seconds left for underdog Furman. Furman stole the ball and took it down for the last chance and shot for the three. As a result, Furman upset Virginia in a 68-67 victory.

The significance behind this upset was that Furman was a 13-seed while Virginia was a 4-seed.

The fact that the underdog teams are coming up on top is making the 2023 March Madness the best tournament in the history of all the tournaments. Already, history is being made and it hasn’t even reached the third round.

Round of 32 Upsets

Kansas v. Arkansas

The University of Arkansas, an 8-seed, beat out Kansas, the second 1-seed team, in the tournament in a 72 to 71 upset.

If you were planning your bracket like the majority of the other March Madness fans, you were likely to have Kansas winning this game or even making it to the finals. If so, you were definitely as upset as Kansas was. As for Arkansas, the team will advance to the Sweet Sixteen for the third time consecutively.

Marquette University v. Michigan State University

In a nine-point victory of 69-60, Michigan State came out on top. After missing out on a spot in the Sweet Sixteen for four years in a row, Michigan State advances to battle it out against Kansas State.

Princeton University v. University of Missouri

Princeton was able to pull off a victory against the University of Missouri in a 78 to 63 victory. The University of Missouri finished its season with an overall 25-10 record. Princeton will now take on Creighton University in the Sweet Sixteen.

Looking ahead to the Sweet Sixteen

Currently, the last two favorites to win are the University of Alabama and the University of Houston, as they are the only 1-seeds out of four left in the tournament.

I am predicting Alabama to win and kill the streak of upsets as well as Houston beating out Miami. As for the underdogs, I predict Arkansas to lose to University of Connecticut, Michigan State to lose to Kansas State, and Creighton to win over Princeton.

Service opportunities for students in St. George

The service opportunities in St. George are endless – from volunteering at animal shelters to helping at the Children’s museum – students have a plethora of options. 

The service section under Utah Tech University’s Student Involvement and Leadership webpage says the service branch of Utah Tech Student Association provides opportunities to serve on campus and in the community. 

According to the website, “The Vice President of Service and four Service Leaders make up the Service Council within the service branch, and together they seek opportunities that build upon core values of service, citizenship, diversity, ethics, and collaboration that create an enduring service oriented mentality.”

There are many reasons for completing service hours. Vice President of service for UTSA Drake Bailey, a junior biology major from Erda, said his job as Vice President of service is to ensure there are service opportunities available for students for a number of reasons:

  • Boosting a resume when applying for a job
  • Applying for graduate school
  • Trying something new 
  • Searching for personal fulfillment 

Bailey said: “Service is an amazing thing. My motto is ‘service makes up the difference’ with all that happens in the world everyday there are some things that just wouldn’t get done unless someone decided to do them out of the goodness of their hearts. I think that understanding is very important to have in nearly every aspect of life.”

Bailey said his team specifically works with Utah Food Bank, Big Brother Big Sisters, St. George Children’s Museum and Red Cross

If you’re looking for service opportunities for any reason in St. George, here are some options.

Utah Food Bank

Mission: “Fighting hunger statewide”

The Utah Food Bank collects and distributes food throughout the state.

St. George location: 4416 River Road

How to volunteer: No walk-in volunteering is available; you have to schedule a time online. The volunteer form can be found here

For something immediate, a group of students will be helping organize food and donations March 28. The service sign-up sheet can be found here

Big Brothers Big Sisters 

Mission: “Create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth.”

St. George location: 530 E. Tabernacle St.

How to volunteer: To be a “big brother” or a “big sister” to a child you can sign up and volunteer on their website here. Once you have filled out the form, a staff member will be in contact to update you on the process.

St. George Children’s Museum 

Mission: “The St. George Children’s Museum (SGCM) provides vibrant and engaging interactive activities that invite children and families to discover, imagine and create!”

Children attend hands-on activities to develop their interests and have an environment to learn.

Location: 86 S. Main St.

How to volunteer: Fill out the volunteer application, and the volunteer coordinator will be in contact.

For something already planned, the museum is looking for volunteers for its annual Easter event April 1. The sign up sheet can be found here.

American Red Cross

Mission: “The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.”

Red Cross provides essentials such as food and shelter to those who have been involved in threatening disasters.

Location: 476 E. Riverside Drive

How to volunteer: You must contact the St. George chapter to find out what is available in our community.

PAWS – Providing Animals with Support – Adoption Center

Mission: “PAWS advocates the saving of lives in the animal community by rescuing those in need, promoting adoption and encouraging proper health care. ‘Until they all have a home!'”

PAWS is a no-kill animal rescue organization that provides homes for animals who otherwise wouldn’t have one.

Location: 1125 W. 1130 N.

How to volunteer: PAWS is a nonprofit, so the whole organization relies on donations and volunteers. Applications can be submitted here. Volunteer work includes taking care of the dogs and cats in the shelter and office duties.

PAWS also has a thrift store where all the proceeds go toward the adoption center. The thrift store is located at 969 N. 3050 E.


Mission: “To empower those in need by addressing the underlying cause of poverty; providing a comprehensive plan, and supporting their journey to self-sufficiency.”

Switchpoint is a homeless shelter that provides housing and classes.

St. George location: 948 N. 1300 W.

How to volunteer: Tammy Young, volunteer manager for Switchpoint, said to volunteer, applications can be submitted online or in-person at the Switchpoint Community Resource Center, and Switchpoint is always looking for volunteers.

Young said: “We have volunteers that do laundry for our drop-in clients (bedding & towels), prepare and serve lunches for the soup kitchen, prepare and serve dinners for our residents, assist in meal preparation and service at our childcare facility, assist in the greenhouse or garden, assist in our Rise (tower garden) greenhouse or community garden, help in our thrift store or Boutique, help at our doggy daycare facility, and very soon assisting in our coffee roastery.”

Whatever the reason may be, there are plenty of volunteer positions and opportunities in St. George to change lives for the better.