July COAP Employee Spotlight: Matt Tanney

Tanney on TourIf you were patronizing any of Macomb’s businesses this past Monday, you may have gotten a glimpse of the blur that was “Tanney on Tour.”

Yesterday, Matt Tanney, the interim director of Western Illinois Athletics, was spotted all over the fair city that is Western Illinois University’s home, as he traveled to area businesses to give a special “THANKS!” to ALL of Leatherneck Athletics’ corporate partnership sponsors.

The whirlwind tour (check out all of the photos at http://bit.ly/TanneyonTour) demonstrates Matt’s inspirational motivation.

Other achievements, too, here at WIU demonstrate his drive: Matt (who was named the interim director of Western Illinois Athletics in May 2015) was honored with WIU’s Division of Student Services “Administrative Employee of the Year” in May 2014, and a Western Illinois Athletics’ press release also notes he has presented nationally at the NCAA Regional Rules conference. Additionally, he teaches undergraduate courses here at WIU, as well as serves as a guest lecturer at several colleges. He will also teach a sports law class in the WIU graduate program this fall.

As the subject of the July installment of the Council of Administrative Personnel (COAP) Employee Spotlight feature, Matt was kind enough to take some time out of his hectic schedule to answer some questions about his job here at Western. Thanks, Matt!

Q. Tell me a bit about your background… How did you wind up working at WIU?

Matt: I grew up in an athletically minded family that also valued the pursuit of high academic achievement. My father had a successful career as a high school football coach, and my two younger brothers are presently in the NFL (Mitch works for the Denver Broncos, and Alex is a quarterback for the Tennessee Titans). So, athletics has always been a part of my life that’s well complemented my academic interests. I was a collegiate student athlete at the NCAA Division III level and earned my undergraduate and law degrees from Wabash College and the Robert H. McKinney School of Law, respectively.

While in law school, I worked at the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), which opened some doors in the athletics industry. I worked in the athletics department at The Ohio State University after law school, and eventually the University of Dayton and the University of Oklahoma. I joined the Leathernecks in July 2012 as the associate director of WIU Athletics. I’m originally from the Bloomington-Normal area, so it’s been a pleasure to return closer to friends and family in Central Illinois.

Tanney

Western Illinois Athletics’ Interim Director Matt Tanney and Western’s mascot, Rocky.

Q. What does a typical day at work at Western look like for you as the interim director of Athletics?

Matt: There’s no such thing as a “typical day” in the office, which is great. It’s a diverse, well-rounded experience. I’m constantly exploring new avenues to generate additional revenue for the department, developing strategies on financial planning and facilities initiatives, and hiring new coaches and staff. The reality is division I intercollegiate athletics is a fast-paced environment, and if you’re not nimble on the job, you’ll fail.

Q. What are some of the best aspects of your job?

Matt: I started working in college athletics because of the student-athletes. I often say that if you’re not working toward the best interests of the student-athletes, then you’re in the wrong business. The most rewarding moments of the job aren’t always the wins on the court or field—they are often the less publicized stories… for example, the student-athlete who gets accepted into his or her first choice of graduate school, or knowing that athletics provided the access and opportunity for a first-generation college student to obtain his or her degree.

Q. What are some of the most challenging aspects of your job?

Matt: The athletics department is not immune to the budgetary challenges facing the university and the state of Illinois, so I’m always striving to identify ways we can become more efficient in our financial operations.

Q. Tell me a little about your favorite activities outside of your job (e.g., hobbies, family or friend activities, etc.)

Matt: I’m blessed with an amazing wife and twin daughters, so I spend as much time with them as possible.

Q. What is your favorite quote?

Matt: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” — F.Scott Fitzgerald

June COAP Employee Spotlight: Andrea Henderson

If you work at Western, chances are you have met Andrea Henderson. As director of the Western Illinois University Office of Equal Opportunity and Access, Andrea’s job requires she meet many, many employees regularly. In fact, she said that is one the best parts of her job… getting to meet and work with employees from all areas of the University.

Andrea Henderson, Director, Western Illinois University Office of Equal Opportunity and Access

Andrea Henderson, Director, Western Illinois University Office of Equal Opportunity and Access

For the June Western Illinois University Council of Administrative Personnel (COAP) Employee Spotlight, Andrea took time out of her schedule to give us a little bit of background about her career at Western and her dedication to her employer… and her alma mater.

Q. Tell me a bit about your background… How did you wind up working at WIU?

Andrea: My mother worked at WIU and I attended as a student, so I knew that WIU was a great place to work. In 1988, I was hired as a secretary III – trainee in the purchasing office. After completing my trainee program and working in the position for two more years, a vacancy for a purchasing assistant became available. I tested and was interviewed for the position and was hired. I later promoted to purchasing officer. After working in the purchasing office for nine years, I was asked to coordinate the University’s civil service trainee/learner program. I did that for about 10 months while still working half-time in the purchasing office. I was then transferred to a position that reported half-time to Human Resources and half-time to the Affirmative Action (now Equal Opportunity and Access) Office. In that position, I continued to coordinate the trainee/learner program and assisted the Affirmative Action director with employment monitoring, complaint investigation, and ADA compliance. I later promoted to equal opportunity officer. I was in that position for 10 years, and then was hired for a full time position in Human Resources as a human resource manager for classification/compensation. After being in that position for two years, the opportunity to apply for the position of director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access became available. I have been in this position since July of 2009.

Q. What does a typical day at work at Western look like for you?

Andrea: Like many administrators, I really do not have a “typical” day. My day-to-day responsibilities include monitoring the search process for faculty and administrative positions, monitoring ADA & Title IX compliance for the campus, and receiving and investigating complaints of discrimination. I never know what’s going to cross my desk on any given day. The day could start with attending regularly scheduled committee meetings and before the day ends, I might have traveled across campus to meet with facilities maintenance on location to discuss an immediate access issue, worked with the Macomb Police Department to retrieve a report (OPS sends them automatically), or participated in an impromptu meeting with administrators, legal counsel, or an employee regarding some pressing issue.

Q. What are some of the best aspects of your job?

Andrea: Through my responsibilities, I come in contact with a lot of people across campus. Western has some amazing employees and it’s my pleasure getting to meet them.

Q. What are some of the most challenging aspects of your job?

Andrea: There are a number of very challenging aspects to my job and some of them keep me up at night. I have a great deal of responsibility in the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access, and the decisions I make can greatly impact people. I take that very seriously, and sometimes it can be very emotionally draining.

Q. Tell me a little about your favorite activities outside of your job.

Andrea: My husband and I are very involved in our church and community. We enjoy volunteerism. We spend a lot of time doing things in the ministry, including special services and Bible study. In the community, my husband is co-founder of a summer youth group, called P.R.I.M.E., so during the spring and summer I assist with that. I am also on several community boards including the Macomb Fire and Police Commission, the Samaritan Well, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, and the Housing Authority of McDonough County. In addition, we love to travel, so when we don’t already have other commitments, we’ll jump in the car and do a road trip or we’ll plan a longer get away to some place we’ve never been. Our most recent travel was a cruise to Montego Bay, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and Cozumel, Mexico. Before that, we took a trip up to Canada.

Q. What is your favorite quote? (Or, if you prefer… your go-to advice you give to individuals when they ask you?)

Andrea: Trust God! (favorite quote by unknown… and go-to advice!)

May COAP Employee Spotlight: Jude Kiah

Jude Kiah - 2015 WIU COAP Employee of the Year

Jude Kiah, director of the Western Illinois University Bookstore and director of Go West Transit at Western and in Macomb, was named the WIU 2015 Employee of the Year by the Council of Administrative Personnel (COAP).

If you don’t know Jude Kiah from his work at Western Illinois University (he is the director of the WIU Bookstore and of Go West Transit in Macomb), you may know him from the various other venues at which he “works” frequently.

Personally, I have seen Jude officiating at many of my nephews’ basketball games in western Illinois over the years. (Jude has been the basketball chairman of the Western Central Officials Association [WCOA] for 18 years; this year, Jude officiated his third—and final—2015 Illinois High School Association [IHSA] state tournament.)

On a few occasions, I have also encountered people outside of my job here at WIU who have heard Jude speak and/or attended one his leadership training sessions. (I recall a family member, who attended one of his sessions through her job in education, asking me if I knew this “Jude Kiah guy” who works at Western? “Yes,” I answered her. To which she exclaimed, “He is a great speaker!”)

Earlier this month, Jude’s contributions to Western and his community were recognized when he was named the 2015 Council of Administrative Personnel (COAP) Employee of the Year. While the winner isn’t required to give an acceptance speech, Jude did, and I can honestly say, after many years of attending meetings in my career, it was the first meeting I’ve attended at which I’ve seen anyone cry (well, from joy anyway ;-) ).

For the press release I posted for University Relations, I asked Jude to describe how he felt about this receiving the award.

“I can remember, many, many years ago, seeing this plaque on the wall in the Union and thinking how special those people must have been to the WIU community to be so honored. I never aspired to win it (I thought it was too far out of reach to aspire to), but my peers were unrelenting in nominating me repeatedly.That my peers did that for me is deeply humbling. It literally took my breath away when I found out. I read the letter three times because I thought I read it wrong! To me, it signifies the respect of my peers, which is all one can ask for out of a career. I am honored to serve the people I work with every day at Western. It’s an especially good day to be a Leatherneck!”

In honor of Jude’s recognition (and for the May installment of the COAP Employee Spotlight), I asked him to provide me with just a bit more about what makes him (a busy, busy fellow) tick (see Q&A below).

Congrats, Jude, on an honor so very well deserved!

Q. Tell me a bit about your background… How did you wind up working at WIU?

Jude: I am originally from northern New York. I moved to Florida when I was nine and graduated from Orlando Bishop Moore High School. I attended college and grad school in New York and was working in Georgia in 1995, when I had an interview for Western, twice, at a national conference in Boston. I actually had another job in New Jersey that I was waiting for final confirmation on at the time. I got a call from Western six weeks after the interviews, and they asked me to come to campus. I really didn’t want to come (I thought I already had that other job lined up), but I did, after being prodded, and I fell in love with it when I got here. I turned down the job in New Jersey and came to Illinois.

Q. What does a typical day at work at Western look like for you?

Jude: There is no typical day. I have offices on both sides of town, so I look at my schedule and see where I am needed that day. I have a list of things I need to get done, but it rarely does! I don’t think of my workday as segmented. If I am awake, I am working. (Darn Electronics!)

As time has gone on, it’s more like I spend the actual workday in meetings, answering communications, and meeting with people in my office, and then I spend the evening actually doing the work, lol… I’m usually running around at high speed most days.

Q. What are some of the best aspects of your job?

Jude: It’s really just that. It’s never the same. I love working at a place that has allowed me to be progressive and find ways to benefit our students. That has led in some interesting directions over the years, and I have done things I never, ever thought I would get involved with. I love working with our students and making a difference for them in their lives. It’s what drives me. I love being part of a campus and a community like Macomb.

Q. What are some of the most challenging aspects of your job?

Jude: Time. I just don’t have enough time in the day. There is so much to do, and not enough time to do it. I am still trying to figure out how to make more time.

Q. Tell me a little about your favorite activities outside of your job.

Jude: Officiating basketball has been a huge passion for the last 27 years. I have worked nearly 20 of those with the same person (Sam Moran), and we are best friends. We have had a really blessed career (three state finals and two state championships). We hunt and travel together, too.

My children are a lot of fun. They are very funny children, and they are a blast! Family time is important, and I try not to work until the family is in bed at 9 p.m. I stay up much later.

I run quite a bit (maybe 10-12 miles a week) in the basketball off season, too. I do a lot of public speaking—maybe 75 engagements a year. I do like fixing things and building things, too. I find that very therapeutic.

Q. What is your favorite quote?

Jude: “Only the man who swims against the stream knows the strength of it.”  — Woodrow Wilson

And one more that’s deeply important to me…

“It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” —  Vince Lombardi

COAP Employee Spotlight: Kenny Wheeler

Kenny Wheeler

Kenny Wheeler, an academic advisor at the WIU-QC campus, is regularly nominated by students for the award, according to Michele Aurand, academic honors advisor for the WIU Centennial Honors College. However, for February, he was nominated by Bradley Heitz (Rock Island, IL), a senior Bachelor of Arts in General Studies (BGS) major.

“Because of Kenny’s hard work and countless hours of advising, I am on track to graduate from Western Illinois University in 2015, a goal that I once assumed was unachievable. Kenny took the time to fully understand my academic and professional goals and aligned those interests with a course schedule that reflected them.” — Bradley Heitz, Senior, Bachelor of Arts in General Studies Program

Kenny Wheeler is one of the many Council of Administrative Personnel (COAP) employees at Western integral to the success of WIU students and to the University overall. In his role as an academic advisor, he is one of the front-line individuals who serves students in the all-important task of developing their course schedules (every semester that they are at WIU) so they can stay on track to graduate.

Kenny’s outstanding work was recently recognized when we was named COAA (Council of Academic Advisors) Advisor of the Month last February.

“[Kenny] is regularly nominated by students for the award, according to Michele Aurand, academic honors advisor for the WIU Centennial Honors College. However, for February, he was nominated by Bradley Heitz (Rock Island, IL),” noted the release about Kenny’s award.

Kenny agreed to be featured in the April installment of the COAP Employee Spotlight and was kind enough to answers a few questions about his work at Western and what he enjoys outside of his job.

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Q. Tell me a bit about your background… How did you wind up working at WIU?

Kenny: I’ve been working in higher ed and student affairs for about 13 years now. I worked in admissions previously at two small private institutions, focusing on recruiting under-represented students and increasing ethnic and racial diversity on campus. I was fortunate enough to attend graduate school with two classmates (and now colleagues) here at Western that gently pulled me into the WIU family. I am now in my seventh year at WIU, and I continue to find the challenges and successes I’ve had along the way to be rewarding and motivating.

Q. What does a typical day at work at Western look like for you?

Kenny: Returning e-mails, phone calls, meeting with students, setting up appointments, and becoming involved in the evolution of the WIU-Quad Cities’ campus continues to take up much of my time from day to day. I always find it important to me to head home for lunch and get away from the office to just take a moment to breath. And if I can’t get away, I’ll usually take a couple of moments a day to get around and talk to folks so I’m not staring at my computer all day. :)

Q. What are some of the best aspects of your job?

Kenny: One of the best aspects of this job is helping students meet their academic and professional goals, but I also enjoy getting to know them on a personal level. It is so important in education to develop a personal connection with students, to have empathy and understanding of their experiences, and to treat them with respect no matter who they are. If I can do those things, the rest of my job seems to fall into place and students can feel comfortable meeting with me as their advisor.

Q. What are some of the most challenging aspects of your job?

Kenny: One of the more challenging aspects of my job is knowing that we can’t meet all the needs of every student, and you have to learn to be okay with that. You just have to provide as much information, resource, and opportunity that you can, and make a reasonable effort to be of as much assistance as possible.

Q. Tell me a little about your favorite activities outside of your job (e.g., hobbies, family or friend activities, etc.)

Kenny: My two favorite activities outside of my job is spending time with my family and coaching track and field. My wife and my two daughters are some of the greatest blessings God has granted me with, and coming home to see them after work is the most rewarding part of the day…especially after a tough day in the office.

I am also in my 15th year of coaching track and field at the college and high school levels, and am now in my eighth season coaching girls track and field at a large high school in Iowa. I love motivating the young individuals I coach in a sport that I participated in through college and has been a part of my life since grade school.

Q. What is your favorite quote?

Kenny: I have a lot of favorite quotes that I use year to year as a coach, but the quote I really admire speaks to our strength, diversity, our uniqueness as individuals, and community:

“Be strong enough to stand alone. Be yourself enough to stand apart. But be wise enough to stand together when the time comes.” — Mark Arends

Meet Michelle Howe from WIU’s Career Development Center

Michelle Howe

Michelle Howe (right), her husband Matt (a 2009 graduate of WIU’s School of Agriculture), and their Future Leatherneck daughter, Macie. Michelle is an assistant director in Western’s Career Development Center, which provides career services for WIU students and alumni.

Ever wish you had a go-to person to help you with career advice or to critique your résumé?

As one of the dedicated members of the Western Illinois University Career Development Center (CDC) staff, CDC Assistant Director Michelle Howe is one of these “go-to” individuals who students (as well as WIU Alumni) seek out for help when it comes to preparing for a job search and the employment-searching process itself.

Michelle, who is also a WIU alumna, graciously agreed to be featured for the second installment of the Council of Administrative Personnel (COAP) Employee Spotlight, a monthly feature (sponsored by the COAP organization) to showcase the varied jobs, talents, services, and resources COAP employees do, have, provide, and share as employees of Western. (Read the inaugural installment, “Meet One Tough (and Fun) Mudder: Tim Hallinan” at wiurelations.wordpress.com/2015/02/10/coap-spotlight-hallinan/.)

Learn more about Michelle and what she does at Western’s CDC below.

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Q. Tell me a bit about your background. How did your employment with WIU come about?

Michelle: I attended WIU as a transfer student to complete my bachelor of science degree in agriculture. At the time, I was engaged to a local Lewistown farmer, Matt [who is also a WIU alum], and I knew I would be living in this area. I decided to attend graduate school at WIU to pursue a new career in student affairs, rather than agriculture. I graduated from the WIU’s College Student Personnel program in 2011 and was fortunate to apply for a job at the Career Development Center, where I had completed my two years as a graduate assistant.

Working in career development was the reason I decided to apply for the CSP program, so I am very blessed to be working at the CDC today! WIU has been a great place to learn, grow, and develop lifelong friendships.

Q. What does a typical day at work at Western look like for you?

Michelle: As with most jobs, my days are not always “typical,” but my main responsibility as the assistant director is to assist students with the job search and career development process. Many days are spent in one-on-one sessions with students, advising them on career planning (deciding which career path to take and figuring out what they should “do” at WIU to be prepared for this career field) and advising them on job-searching strategies. This includes critiquing résumés, cover letters, graduate school essays, and other professional correspondence.

I also conduct mock interviews with students to give them constructive feedback on their interviewing skills using an iPad, so that they can see their strengths and areas for improvement. I also teach students how to use LinkedIn as a professional networking and job searching tool. Each week, I also conduct daytime/evening workshops to student organizations, classrooms, fraternities/sororities, etc., on career development topics, especially LinkedIn. Each semester, I teach a career-preparation class, which teaches the job-searching process to students.

Throughout the year, I serve on a few committees, conduct outreach efforts to academic departments, research current trends in career development, write newsletter articles on behalf of the office, create flyers for our workshops and other events, and supervise the CDC graduate assistants.

That is what I love about my job—I do so many different things each day that it keeps my life interesting!

Q. What are some of the best aspects of your job? What are some of the most challenging aspects?

The best thing about my job is the PEOPLE! Most of the students I work with are hard-working students, who just need a little guidance on their job searches. Many of our students are first-generation college students, and since I was also a first-gen student, I can relate to how they are feeling about college and about the job-searching process. Some of the students visit me more than once, to make sure their interviewing skills are getting better, or to get new advice on their future goals.

It is rewarding to see a student get the job he or she was hoping for, or land an interview for an internship.

I also LOVE my coworkers and appreciate the uniqueness we each bring to the CDC… we are definitely a family!

The most challenging aspect about my job is seeing students who NEVER stop by the CDC to get help with the job-searching process. Some students don’t know our office exists, some do not think they need help with their résumés, and others plan to make an appointment and do not follow through. I wish every student would stop by our office at least once!

Q. What do you like to do in your time away from work?

Michelle: Though I am professionally fulfilled by working at WIU, my heart is at home! I have an 18-month old daughter, Macie, who is an energetic, lovable, stubborn toddler. Recently, we purchased a bike with a trailer and plan to ride around with Macie and make bike riding a new hobby.

I enjoy spending time with my husband on our rural Lewistown farm, where we raise cows, corn, soybeans, and wheat. Together, we enjoy doing landscaping and home improvement projects. We love to have family and friends stop by the farm to ride in the John Deere gator, sit on the deck to watch the fire pit, and enjoy the scenery.

I also enjoy reading books, watching movies, and shopping for good deals at garage sales! I am also very active in my faith and enjoy going to church and studying the Bible.

Q. What is your favorite quote?

Michelle: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” — Steve Jobs

International Student Success Spotlight: Qi Qi

Qi Qi - WIU International Student

Qi Qi, an international graduate student in WIU’s MBA program, said her ability to study business abroad (outside of her home country of China) is a dream come true.

Qi Qi, a master’s of business administration (MBA) program graduate candidate at Western, is currently achieving one her dreams: studying outside of her home country (China) to pursue her advanced degree in business.

Before coming to WIU, she had worked in marketing and product management in China. Since enrolling in Western’s MBA program, she has found that she is particularly interested in supply chain management, so she has chose that area of concentration her advanced business administration studies.

For the March installment of the “International Student Success Spotlight” (sponsored by Western’s Center for International Studies), Qi Qi shared how and why she chose Western to achieve her dream of studying business abroad, as well as how the services and academic resources at WIU have helped her with her success so far as an international graduate student.

Q. How did you learn about WIU and why did you decide to apply to and attend Western?

Qi Qi: Studying business abroad was my dream, due to my working experience with various enterprises after graduating from a college in Beijing, China. However, I had to consider the most efficient and effective way to realize my dream, because I came from a working-class family. I have limited savings, and the tuition and living expenses are high in developed countries. My hope was that I could leverage my limited resources to achieve the best result for my studies, and my “dream” universities would have the best cost/effect ratio.

Then I started a comprehensive search, both online and offline. I finally narrowed it down to WIU, State University of New York, Texas A&M, Cleveland State University, and Pittsburg State University. With any effort and luck, I would be accepted by each school’s MBA program candidate.

Then, I compared the programs, environment, and the procedures at each school.

Firstly, WIU has been listed as a “Best Midwestern College” and “Top Tier Midwestern University” for many consecutive years. AACSB International [“the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business”] not only accredited WIU’s MBA program, but also ranked Western’s College of Business and Technology among the top 25 percent of business schools in the world.

I was also amazed by the many unique and creative arrangements for international students, i.e. Ambassadors Program, temporary housing, Western’s English as a Second Language (WESL) Conversation Mentors program, Conversation Partners, American Culture Night, etc. WIU has become the ideal university for me. I also think Western has the best student services. I am so glad I made the correct decision and came to WIU!

Q. What do you hope to do with your master’s degree in business administration once you graduate?

Qi Qi: I plan to work as a supply chain analyst after graduation, once I get more experience in the area. I hope to become a supply chain manager.

I am very happy to have discovered my career direction here, so I can be equipped for my future.

Q. How did you adjust to your new home as a person who had never traveled to the U.S. before?

Qi Qi: When I first arrived, I was faced with new study challenges, a new living environment, new social relationships, and a totally different culture when I just came to Macomb.

First of all, the language issue impacted my performance, because I couldn’t get used to each instructor’s speed and tempo when he or she was lecturing.

Secondly, I experienced serious homesickness, because I had never been so far away from home before.

Thirdly, everything was new to me; however, I did not feel lonely and helpless at all. The friendly and responsible professors answered my questions patiently, gave me a lot of useful advice, and helped me pick up information more quickly. In addition, the international student services staff arranged a lot of activities for me to get familiar with the community, meet a lot of new friends, improve my English, and learn about the culture. The International Neighbors program, particularly, makes me feel that I have another home at Macomb. The host family has become my second home, and I feel I am the part of the community. I can’t believe I have become accustomed to my new life so quickly!

Q. What have been (or are) your favorite courses and instructors and why?

Qi Qi: My favorite course is in small business management. The course covers how to operate a small business. In this course, there are many guest speakers sharing the experiences about their businesses. Mrs. Gates, the instructor, also provides information and cases about various interesting small businesses.

Although the assignments in this course are challenging, Mrs. [Janice] Gates is one of my favorite instructors. She is very nice and helpful. She likes students to raise questions, and she replies to their email messages quickly. Even on the weekend, she still provides feedback to students’ concerns in time.

Another professor I adore is Dr. Deboeuf. I took his two courses, “Introduction to Finance” and “Financial Management.” His classes are well organized, and he helped me understand the complicated financial concepts presented.

Q. Any additional information that you would like to include?

Qi Qi: I have to mention Macomb when talking about my feeling about WIU. It provides me a welcoming, friendly, convenient, safe, hometown, and rich atmosphere to pursue my study objectives. I love Macomb!

WIU Alum’s Cubs Victory Song Makes Final 4 Cut in Tribune Contest

Joey White - WIU Baseball 2013

Western Illinois University alumnus and former WIU Baseball student athlete Joey White knows which song he’d like tried-and-true Cubs fans to sing. The song, “Raise the W,” composed by White and his brother, Jimmy, might just have a shot at being the one.

“What should we sing after a Cubs win?” asks Mark Caro in a March 23 Chicago Tribune article, “Go song go: Final four voting for the next Cubs hit.”

Western Illinois University alumnus and former WIU Baseball student athlete Joey White knows which song he’d like tried-and-true Cubs fans to sing. The song, “Raise the W,” composed by White and his brother, Jimmy, might just have a shot at being the one.

The White brothers’ song is now in the “Final Four” of the Tribune’s Cubs victory song contest,  which began in January.

White, who grew up in Downers Grove (IL) and graduated last May with his bachelor’s of business in marketing, is a lifelong Cubs fan, as are his family members “for a few generations,” he explained. (As a former North Side Chicagoan, I too have a fondness for the Cubbies; thus, I can appreciate the White family’s dedication to their team.) The contest’s final showdown—between the two final songs that garner the most votes—is slated to begin next Monday, March 30.

Joey, who works in the Chicagoland area, answered a few questions about his and his brother’s song via email the other day. (And you can vote through 9 a.m. this Sunday, March 29, on the Tribune’s website.)

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Chicago Tribune Cubs Victory Song Contest: "Raise the W" by Jimmy and Joey White

You can vote for the White brothers’ song on the Chicago Tribune website until 9 a.m. Sunday, March 29.

Q: Why did you enter the contest?

Joey: My uncle actually saw the competition while he was reading the ‘Chicago Tribune’ and took a picture and sent it to my brother and me and suggested we create a song and submit it. When I saw the text message, my brother and I both thought it would be fun to do, and we started the process. As lifelong Cubs’ fans, we knew this would be a fun project to complete and share with friends and family.

Q: Tell me about the process of composing the song with your brother.

Joey: My brother lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, now so it was a long-distance project. We have created songs in the past for fun and have a good time doing it. After we decided we were going to create a Cubs song, my brother went to work on the instrumental (guitar, drums, bass). He has always been more inclined with the instruments and composing a beat. When he came up with his idea of how he wanted the song to go, he sent me a rough draft recorded through a text message. When he completed the instrumental, which took about two days, he sent it to me so I could start on the lyrics. I watched some Cubs videos on YouTube and a DVD that I have to help me with some ideas.

The writing process took about another two days, and then I went to my friend Justin Harzich’s house and recorded the song. With the instrumental that my brother sent, we uploaded it onto the program we used to record the song, then sent it back to my brother. After the song was complete, my brother created a video to go along with the song and posted it onto YouTube and emailed the final product to the ‘Chicago Tribune.’

Q: What are you doing now that you’ve graduated from Western?

Joey: At the moment I am gaining professional experience in sales. My future career goals consist of working with Live Nation. I’ve heard it is a great company to work for, and I am very interested in that industry. I’m interested in entertainment, like professional sports and music, and this company works with both.

Q. Anything you would like to highlight about your time at Western?

Joey: I walked on to the baseball team and played in 2012-13. My time at Western was very enjoyable and cherish the experience and education I received from the institution. The years I attended came and went too fast, but are very memorable!

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Hope springs eternal, as the White brothers and all those who entered the contest have demonstrated with their songs. So those of us Leathernecks who are Cubs’ fans keep heart… in this “lucky” (?) “Year of the Goat” — and now with a WIU alumnus possibly the author of the Cubs victory song — just maybe the infamous curse will end its reign!