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!

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Kowal: Leathernecks Help Leathernecks

Connie Kowal at WIU Feb. 9, 2015

Conrad “Connie” Kowal—who graduated with his bachelor’s degree from Western in 1974 and, that same year, played on Western’s baseball team, which was one of the most successful baseball teams in WIU history–spoke to students in a few management and marketing classes Monday, Feb. 9.

Last Monday, Western Illinois University students were able to meet—and learn from—one of Western’s many accomplished legacies.

Conrad “Connie” Kowal, who was named one of Western’s “Distinguished Alumni” in 1992, traveled back to his alma mater to attend the third annual Western Illinois Baseball Lead Off Dinner Sunday, Feb. 8.

Although he’s a busy sports marketing executive—Connie is currently the director of the Libertyville Sports Complex & Recreation Department (he also served as a sports executive with the Chicago Cubs for 14 years, 1985-98, and was the senior director of marketing and business development/business chief of staff for the NFL’s New Orleans Saints from 2003-05)—Connie stayed over in Macomb through Monday in order to share his 30+ years of experience in the sports marketing/management industry with many soon-to-be fellow Leatherneck alumni.

WIU Management and Marketing Assistant Professor Cathy Onion “booked” Connie—who graduated with his bachelor’s degree in 1974 and, that same year, played on Western’s baseball team, which was one of the most successful baseball teams in WIU history—to speak to students taking courses in business communications, management principles, direct marketing management, marketing management, and recreation sport principles, as well as to members of the Marketing Club and Sport Management Association student organizations.

While many Western students didn’t get to meet Connie last week, Professor Onion shared some nuggets of Connie’s wisdom (and stories about his career and WIU experiences) below.

WIU Alumnus '74 Connie Kowal

WIU Alum (’74) Connie Kowal

Q). Why do you feel it’s important to invite successful alumni back to talk with students?

Prof. Onion: It’s one thing to hear tips and advice from your advisers and professors, but when an alum speaks to students, he/she lends credibility to what a professor is saying. In my experience, the alumni who return to campus to speak typically share three traits:

  1. They love the institution and value the education they earned at WIU.
  2. They want to offer advice and expertise in their markets (areas of work or study).
  3. They want to help students. As Connie says, “Leathernecks Help Leathernecks.”

Q). What was his presentation about?

Onion: He talked about his experience with the Cubs and his good friend Ernie Banks. He also discussed his work with the National Football League’s New Orleans Saints in 2003, 2004, as well as in 2005—the Hurricane Katrina year.

WIU alumnus Connie Kowal's presentation to WIU students Feb. 9, 2015.

WIU alumnus Connie Kowal’s presentation to WIU students Feb. 9, 2015.

In April of 2005 (draft day), he established the marketing theme “Ya Gotta Have Faith.” As he shared his experiences with WIU students, he noted: “Little did we know that just a few months later, when Katrina hit New Orleans August 29, our marketing campaign would have two meanings.”

He continued:

“We evacuated New Orleans and moved our operation to the San Antonio’s Alamodome. Our operation was set up in the basement of the Alamodome with piping and drapes. We were a glorified trade show. We put in 23-hour days, and I grew a beard because I simply did not have time to shave. We were managing our jobs, but we were also managing lives of players and personnel. Everything they had was eight hours away. The NFL season—which was only two weeks away—was not going to wait on us. We had to do whatever it took to be ready. We had guys (players) practicing in parking lots and just anywhere they could find a space. When we won that opening game September 11 by three points (23-20) against the Carolina Panthers, there was not a dry eye in the locker room—not one. It was the most emotional win I’ve ever experienced. I’ll never forget it.”

When a student asked Connie: “Can you tell us a story of compassion shown after Hurricane Katrina?” He replied:

“All of America reached out to us. Everyone. Everywhere. Whatever they could do to help, they did.”

Below are some of his Connie “isms” he shared, too:

  • Mind your ABCs — Be Accessible, Be Reliable, Be Credible
  • Be the #1 fan of your own fan club
  • Work hard, do your job, work hard, do your job, work hard, do your job. Grinders win in life!
  • If I can do it, you can do it. I’m not that good. I just out-hustled people
  • Sports is a perishable product. If you don’t sell the seat today, you can’t resell it tomorrow—game over. Do your job.
  • The smallest task can lead to the biggest accomplishment.
  • Business is a contact sport. Learn to talk to people. I’ve never hired thumbs. I hire people.
  • Never pretend to be someone you are not.
  • This is not a one-and-done relationship. You have my contact information. If I can help you in anyway, please get in touch with me and remember: Leathernecks Help Leathernecks!

Q). Anything else you want to highlight about Connie’s presentations to students?

Onion: Just one of the stories he shared… His freshman year, Connie tried out for the WIU baseball team. He was cut.

“I didn’t blame the coach or say I got a bad deal. I worked at it and came back the next year,” he explained.

He watched every WIU baseball game from the stands and played in a summer league. The next year, he went back to the tryouts and introduced himself to Coach Pawlow again. He made the team. He was a utility player—until his senior year. Then the coach put him in as a back up at third base, and he went 4 for 4 at the plate. He never came out of the lineup again.

“I’m 5’5, my name is Connie for goodness sake, I have an overbite, and I’ve lost my hair,” he told students. “I had a lot of things to overcome, but I did it.”

The 1974 team he played on was one game away from the College World Series, when they lost in the bottom of the 11th inning, 0-1, due to a walk off.

Got style? WIU’s ‘College Fashionistas’ can tell you!

Are you really going to wear those sweatpants?

 

photo of College Fashionista bloggers

WIU 'College Fashionista' bloggers Maisey Kolin, left, and Chelsea Dieckow, right,

 

You might want to think twice about the image you’re projecting when you choose what to wear. Why does it matter? Because your style is an expression of who you are, say Maisie Kolin and Chelsea Dieckow (right), two WIU students who are currently interning as bloggers for collegefashionista.com. The web site, which features bloggers from colleges and universities across the country, takes a “man [or woman] on the street” approach, highlighting students who happen to be

sporting fashionable looks as they head to class. Kolin and Dieckow serve as the style spotters for the WIU section of the blog, working as interns for the fall semester. Dieckow writes Style Advice for the Week on Mondays, while Maisie is responsible for Trend reports three days per week.

Kolin, a senior journalism major from Naperville, Ill., who will graduate in December, and Dieckow (right), senior fashion merchandising major with a double minor in journalism and management, from Dunlap, Ill., shared with Beyond the Bell Tower how they landed their roles as “Fashionistas,” how they define style, and what it’s like to approach Western students randomly to talk to them about their looks.

‘Fervor for fashion’

Bell Tower: Let’s start with your own fashion. How would you describe your personal style or favorite item(s) to wear?

Chelsea: My style is eclectic—kind of straight out of the 80s, with the use of bright colors, psychedelic patterns, unique textures, and retro accessories. Recently, some of my favorite ensembles ahs included high-waisted dark denim shorts, signature necklaces, and plenty of three-fourths-length plaid shirts.

Maisie: I love the indie grunge look, but have a closet full of structured blazers. I like mixing trends, by pairing something very feminine with something rugged or tough, like lace with leather, or florals with destroyed denim. My absolutely favorite item to shop for is denim. A great pair of jeans will last a lifetime.

How did you find out about the opportunity to write for the College Fashionista blog?

Chelsea: I heard about CollegeFashionista.com through Kayla Stephens, who was the first “Style Guru” for Western Illinois University last year. She was a fashion merchandising major too, and we were good friends through Greek life. She gave me a reference and then I contacted the founder, Amy Levin, in the summer. I received the job first, and I actually gave Maisie a reference because I knew she was good at professional writing and had fervor for fashion.

Maisie: And I actually got interviewed by one of the previous interns in early 2010.

What’s required to become bloggers for College Fashionista?

Chelsea: Having a huge appreciation towards fashion was crucial. We had to send Amy Levin (the CF founder) writing samples, proving we knew how to write for the fashion business. On our phone interview, we described our distinctive styles and how we would approach writing for the blog. I explained that I would incorporate fashion media, culture, diversity, and up-to-the minute fashion news when writing articles for College Fashionista.

Maisie: The interview itself was really comfortable and relaxed. She asked us about out involvement at WIU, our own personal style and what we were feeling this season.

Had either of you done any previous blogging or student journalism?

Chelsea: This was my first blogging experience, and I absolutely love doing it. This is the writing experience I need for my future, considering I want to work for a fashion magazine.

Maisie: Being a journalism student, I’ve always kept some sort of personal blog. Over four years of writing, keeping up with it became easier and easier. [More after the jump.]

 

Screen shot of a WIU Fashionista

A WIU Fashionista spotted on campus

 

What have you learned by blogging? Has there been anything about writing for this blog that you didn’t expect?

Chelsea: I’ve learned how to write effectively and creatively. I’ve also learned the importance of punctuality when it comes to deadlines. Deadlines are a necessity in the writing industry, and I’ve learned to discipline myself and get my blog in on time. In addition, I have learned more about fashion jargons and how writing for the fashion industry is more imaginative and artsy. I enjoy reading other posts and looking at trends from other schools across the country. This internship has really opened my eyes to different styles and ways of putting outfits together.

Maisie: College Fashionista really helped me with introductions. It takes guts to walk up to someone and ask for a photo and short interview. School prepared me for the task, but CF actually allowed me to put it to work. Now I have no problem with interviewing. Also, having a weekly assignment that’s published online (we write out posts a week in advance) really keeps me on my toes when it comes to writing. I feel like I’ve excelled in acquiring a voice in my writing.

How do you spot the “Fashionistas” or “Fashionistos” (as the blog calls them) on campus? Do you know one immediately when you see one? What are some of the telltale signs?

Chelsea: College Fashionista tends to have more of a hipster, indie style of dress. I really just look for anything that speaks to me, such as a trendy accessory or this season’s must-haves. Fashion-forward ensembles that are unique and then at the same time, I have to think – how can I write an article about this? What message do I want to convey to the students? How can they incorporate this look into their own wardrobes?

Maisie: I have an hour break between all of my classes, so I usually get some coffee and just people-watch at the Union or on some bench on campus. Early on, it was pretty simple to spot Fashionistas. The first week of school, everyone tries to look their best. I kind of predicted this, so I snapped quite a few photos to have on file. Usually you can spot a Fashionista or Fashionisto because they are so put together. We look for that flawless style, something that just works. Not just jeans and a cute top, but some sort of trend that is going around in the fashion world. It’s easy to spot a Fashionista or Fashionisto among a swarm of gym shorts and WIU t-shirts. We’re not looking for heels and party dresses, we’re just looking for people who have style. I’m finding a lot more Fashionistos on campus this year, which makes me happy. It’s great that guys are getting more enthusiastic about fashion.

How do you approach someone to feature on the blog? Does it ever feel awkward?

Chelsea: I have no problem approaching students on campus! I take pictures while I’m going to class, at lunch, or just out on the town. You have to be personal—let them know how enthusiastic you are about working for a fashion website. Journalism is all about interviewing people and keeping an open mind. It’s the thing with for College Fashionista; you have to be receptive to other people’s styles and personalities.
I take my camera to most of my classes. I have never had someone refuse to have his or her picture taken. Not only do you have to take a snapshot, but also you need to take the picture in a creative way with an interesting angle, solid background, and an overall good composition.

Maisie: Early on, it was fairly awkward. I would always apologize unknowingly. One of my friends actually pointed out that I would apologize for “sounding creepy.” After that, I really focused on relaxing and just starting with a compliment and explaining the blog itself. Once people know why you’re taking a photo of them, they get quite bashful. It’s a huge compliment when someone wants to feature you on a blog. I know it made my entire week when I was asked. I felt famous.
As for equipment, there’s nothing too fancy. Chelsea and I both have our point-and-shoot cameras on us at all times. You never know when a Fashionista or Fashionisto will cross your path. Just sitting outside and people watching is one of my favorite hobbies, so it works to my advantage with CF. Especially in nice weather. We have one post a week, so I usually set aside two or three days to find someone. Going farther into the semester, people are starting to get a little more lazy, so I allow myself more time to find a good photo.

Do you find that the students you feature have heard of College Fashionista? What kind of response do you get from fans of the blog?

Chelsea: Some students have heard of us! But most of the time, I have to explain what it is. Students are usually flattered, and I always make sure to tell them the exact address for the website and when the blog will be posted.

Maisie: Chelsea and I are working hard to spread word about the website through campus. We’re working on flyers and business cards to have people check out the website more frequently. Once in a while I come across someone who knows the website or has read my material. It’s still shocking to me, because it is a relatively new website to the WIU campus. We’re here to change that.

What are some of the specifics of your internship?

Chelsea: It is an unpaid internship; however, the experience is amazing and I would do it regardless. I find myself being more aware of Western’s fashion trends and what kind of genres of style we have on campus.  And Friday is Boutique of the Week—currently I’m working on a post for Envy Boutique [located on the Macomb Square]. You can also do Fashion News posts throughout the week.

Maisie: We do get college credits for the work we do. It also allows me a great opportunity to add to my portfolio of published material. Each week we are to post one entry. We do work on deadlines, so it is a serious job. Some weeks we are supposed to look for specific topic, like trends from Fashion Week or Homecoming (which we weren’t allowed to photograph typical WIU gear). But some weeks, we write about a topic of our choice. There is some leniency with posts, but ultimately we do have a predicted topic which Amy has chosen for us.

What do you to do stay up on the industry and the styles? Have both of you always had a flair for fashion, or is it something you’ve learned?

Chelsea: It’s all about trends and convergence. Being a Fashion Merchandising major, I’ve learned many terms for the fashion lexicon, and I try to apply it to all of my posts. I read Women’s Wear Daily, New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal to stay on top of the global context of the textile and trade press, as well as a ton of fashion magazines, like Cosmo, Vogue, Glamour, Nylon, Foam, and Lucky. In addition, I am president of the Visual Apparel Merchandising Organization at Western, so let’s just say, fashion is definitely my passion.  Ever since I was little, I have always enjoyed putting outfits together for the week. Stylizing, accessorizing, figuring out what color combinations go well together – it has always been a hobby of mine.

Maisie: Fashion has always been a love of mine. I’ve never taken a fashion course, so everything I know I’ve learned myself. I do read a lot of fashion blogs and have quite a lot of magazine subscriptions. I try to keep up with trends as much as possible, not only for CF, but also for my own benefit. I love clothing. I’m a shopaholic, so I am constantly looking for new styles and popular trends on the runway. I’ve always been a girl who cannot leave the house in sweatpants. I just can’t do it.

Do you think it’s hard to stay stylish while living the college lifestyle?

Chelsea: Absolutely not; fashion doesn’t have to be expensive. It’s about working with what you have to create an outfit that is innovative and fresh. One of my favorite quotes is “Style is an expression of individualism mixed with charisma.  Fashion is something that comes after Style.” Fashion is wearable art and there are endless possibilities. Make a necklace out of an old shoelace or turn that swatch of fabric into an awesome scarf. Fashion is like history, it repeats itself. And I believe that fashion brings people together; much like values, customs, beliefs, and norms. Fashion, to me, is the visual aesthetic expression of oneself.

Maisie: I really don’t think it’s hard to stay fashionable with what you have. I’m an avid believer of mixing-and-matching to get new outfits. There are things that never go out of style, like a denim jacket or a plain white button-up. There’s so much you can do with just a white t-shirt. Wear it with a skirt. Wear it with leggings and a high-waisted belt. Wear it with a vest. Pile on jewelery to add glam. You don’t have to drop hundreds of dollars to look good. You can do a lot with what you have.

How would you defend the fashion industry, or the whole point of something like College Fashionista, if you were to hear someone say that looks aren’t important?

Maisie: Fashion, like everything, is an acquired taste. I’ve met so many people who don’t want to bother with clothing and accessories, but in reality, I do believe it has a lot to do with your success. I’m an avid believer in “If you look good, you feel good.” Clothing has a lot to do with success. You can’t show up to an interview with wrinkled clothing or looking too gaudy. Clothing tells a lot about a person, and it gives people an opportunity to meet you before they meet you. A lot of people on campus look at me and constantly ask, “Oh, do you have a presentation?” because I wear a blouse instead of a torn t-shirt. Here’s my thing: anywhere else in the world I would have been complimented on looking presentable, but in college, I stand out as trying too hard. I don’t understand that.

You never know when a potential boss, or even a date will walk past you. Looking presentable, whether in class or at an interview, can really affect the way people treat you. We are young adults and we should dress the part.

What do you enjoy about writing for this blog? What might be some challenges about doing it? How do you hope to transfer this experience into your post-college lives?

Chelsea: Everything. I enjoy learning style tips from other Fashionistas. I enjoy tagging posts and suggesting merchandising. I enjoy putting my creative mind to use. I enjoy taking artistic pictures. And I enjoy the social interaction with students. One challenge about this internship is being able to write my posts effectively. I want to improve my writing skills every day, so I can take that with me when I venture off into the real world.

Maisie: This is my potential life. This is what I want to do as a career, so writing for CF has really taught me what to expect from the media world. It’s difficult, especially being set in a college atmosphere, to write to my abilities. Juggling homework, clubs, social life and this internship is a challenge, but it keeps me busy and I like that.

I really want to work in the media world. I’d love to write for a fashion magazine/website/blog/etc., especially after writing for CF. This opportunity really helped me develop the portfolio that I need to get my dream job. I’d love to work for a magazine like Nylon. Their style is so fresh and youthful, and I feel as though I would have a lot to bring to their company. Ultimately, any media job would be my dream job, whether it be in television, print, or radio. It’s always fast paced and forever changing.