Rachel Sacco

Rachel Sacco has written 5 posts for The Digital Bullpen

Stay Alive. Don’t Text and Drive.

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TAMPA, Fla.–Many University of South Florida students believe a successfully passed bill banning texting and driving will not deter them from doing so, and some psychologists believe this mentality is due to the ways of thinking in young adults.

Samuel Wang, a junior advertising major at USF, sends and receives text messages whenever he can while driving.

“I think I do it because of the convenience factor. Today’s cell phones can do pretty much anything,” says Wang.

Aside from the Florida Legislature’s continuing attempts to ban texting while driving, there still exists the danger of causing a car accident that could take the life of the driver or the lives of innocent victims.

According to the Edgar Snyder and Associates law firm, cell phone use while driving contributed to 16 percent of fatal car accidents involving drivers who are 20 years old and younger in 2009. So why do college students continue to text message while behind the wheel?

In an April 27, 2011, e-mail interview with Dr. Ron Lennon, assistant professor of marketing in the College of Business at USF’s Sarasota-Manatee campus, he stated, “College students think they can do it all.”

Jason Funes, a biomedical sciences major and former student body presidential candidate at USF, believes it all depends on the driver’s hand-eye coordination.

“I text when I drive because I feel I have better hand-eye coordination than most normal people. It doesn’t divert too much of my attention away from driving,” says Funes.

Dr. Judith Bryant, a cognition specialist in USF’s Department of Psychology, believes this mentality occurs in college-aged adults because the portion of the brain that deals with reasoning is not completely developed.

“The prefrontal cortex is not completely mature. Young adults often pay more attention to immediate situations and desires rather than long-term consequences. They also believe, falsely, that they are good at multitasking and divided attention even though that’s not the case,” says Dr. Bryant.

Eric Brotherton, a senior psychology major at USF, blames the trend of texting while driving on the combination of society feeling the need to be socially accepted and the easily accessible technological advances on the market today.

Christina Rodriguez, a junior business major at USF, says she has tried to quit texting while driving, but thinks it’s too difficult.

“I like staying connected. I have to know what’s going on right now; I can’t wait,” says Rodriguez.

A 2010 study conducted by Dr. Lennon, entitled “Social Marketing and Distracted Driving Behaviors Among Young Adults: The Effectiveness of Fear Appeals,” exposed 840 students from universities throughout Florida to graphic videos depicting car accidents that involved texting and driving. Dr. Lennon found that after watching the videos, the number of students who admitted they would text and drive increased by 3 percent.

To explain his study further, in the April 27 interview, Dr. Lennon said, “There is something called the ‘boomerang’ effect. In simple terms, it means that if you show me something I don’t want to believe, I will do it more than I did before.” He also stated, “Multitasking is rampant with college students and they feel they are invincible.”

Megan Dunkle, a former political science major at Stetson University, believes, like many young adults, that she is a good multi-tasker when it comes to driving.

“I send text messages a lot while I’m driving and I have never had a problem with it. I know it isn’t safe, but if you know what you’re doing and you’re careful, then I don’t really see it as a problem,” says Dunkle.

In regards to the legality of the issue, Corporal Edward Raburn of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department says, “Law enforcement may not stop a driver whom they notice to be sending or reading a text message, unless some other moving or non-moving violation is observed.”

Because there is no statute against texting and driving, the USF Police Department is also currently unable to pull over a student committing this act.

USF’s Sergeant Charlotte Domingo advises against sending and receiving texts while operating a vehicle because of how dangerous it is.

“USF hasn’t had any incidents where we could specifically identify that someone was texting and driving in a crash on campus, but I have certainly seen that in my travels as a private citizen in my personal vehicle. I’ve nearly been hit head-on by someone who was obviously texting while they were driving,” says Sgt. Domingo.

According to an October 2009 study performed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, approximately 94 percent of drivers who text message or talk while behind the wheel of a vehicle acknowledge they are more likely to be involved in a car accident. However, their survey found that only 46 percent of drivers support a law banning the act.

Despite the large number of college students who text while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, some are in support of a ban.

Stephanie Brown, a senior education major at Pasco-Hernando Community College, says, “I text and drive, but I think it would be a good thing if a bill was passed to ban it. I’m not sure how effective it would be, though. It may even be a waste of time for police officers to pull texters over.”

Though many law enforcement officers do not foresee a Florida bill banning the use of a cell phone while driving being passed anytime soon, there are currently two bills in committee proposing such a ban.

*Separate audio file e-mailed to professor Garcia*

Bulls baseball camps start soon

The USF Bulls baseball team will be offering camps over the summer to the public. Photo credit:

The 2011 baseball season is coming to a close and that means the 18 – 18 Bulls will once again share Red McEwen Field with some baseball hopefuls.

Young children and teenagers who are interested in tuning up their baseball skills will be a part of baseball camps being held at Red McEwen Field throughout the summer.

Starting on April 25, several camps for different age groups will be open to the public. There will be different camps emphasizing different individual skills, such as hitting. There will also be camps that incorporate all of the skills, such as running, pitching and fielding. Camps for high school students who are interested in potentially playing for a college team in the future will be available as well.

These camps will offer participants the opportunity to receive training and assistance from the Division I players of the USF baseball team, as well as many of the coaches.

Click here for more information on age restrictions, available dates, camp descriptions and pricing.

Fontanez aims for MLB

Senior pitcher Randy Fontanez has made his presence felt on the USF baseball team. Photo credit:

It’s no secret that Randy Fontanez, the right-handed pitcher for the University of South Florida, is one of the team’s most prized players.

With a winning record, a 2.50 ERA and a team-leading 48 strikeouts, Fontanez is certainly a threat when on the mound.  

Fontanez, who started playing baseball at the age of five, was encouraged to be involved in sports by his father, Randy Fontanez Sr.

“My dad asked me what sport I wanted to play,” Fontanez Jr. said. “For some reason, I just picked baseball.”

Though Fontanez is a talented pitcher, he didn’t always plan to play that position. As a child, he wanted to play shortstop like his idol, Omar Vizquel. Growing up, Fontanez was a  Cleveland Indians fan, and Vizquel was a big part of that team.

Fontanez went on to play baseball for Oviedo High School in Oviedo, Fla., as both a pitcher and a shortstop. He then joined the USF Bulls’ baseball team as a freshman during the 2008 season. He has since left his mark as a starting pitcher for the Bulls, being named the 2010 BIG EAST Preseason Pitcher of the Year.

Fontanez said it took hard work to go from a 5-year-old boy playing baseball for fun to being a pitcher for an NCAA team.

Balancing all of the traveling, games and practices with the workload that comes with being a college student has been tough, but Fontanez said it is worth it.

“Pitching at USF has been a pleasure and I am lucky to have experienced it,” he said.

As for the future, Fontanez has ambitious goals as well.

“Going into the MLB has always been a life-long dream of mine,” he said.  “I hope I can make that happen someday.”

USF Falls to WVU in Conference Series

After a promising 8 – 4 win in game one of the series, USF just couldn’t push past WVU in this weekend’s three-game series.

The Bulls got off to a solid start in game one on Friday with a 5 – 0 lead after three innings. Fontanez pitched eight strong innings, holding WVU to only four runs. Brazeal hit a three-run homer in the third inning, which contributed to the five runs scored that inning. Brazeal hit a second home run in the bottom of the fifth, boosting the Bulls’ lead to 7 – 2. Carlin hit a perfect bunt in the sixth inning, allowing Llerena to score the 8th and final run for the Bulls that night, ensuring their win.

Saturday’s game two got off to a slow start. USF’s starter, Matt Reed, had some trouble in the third inning with a walk followed by two singles, leading to WVU’s first run of the night. After hitting a single, stealing second, and advancing to third base on a wild pitch, senior Jonathan Koscso answered with an RBI batted in by Mende. WVU answered with two runs in the fourth, one run in the fifth, and two runs in the sixth. Falla cut WVU’s lead down to 6 – 2 in the bottom of the seventh inning with an RBI, but WVU got the best of Bulls relieving pitcher Loynaz, tacking on an additional three runs to their score (9-3) and breaking a seven-game losing streak to the Bulls.

The Bulls started off strong in Sunday’s game three, scoring three runs in the second inning, but the Mountaineers quickly responded with five runs scored in the third off of Bulls freshman starter Nick Gonzalez. Mende scored a single-run home run, cutting WVU’s lead to 5 – 4, but the Mountaineers came back with a run in the sixth and seventh innings. The Bulls only managed to score two runs in the seventh inning, and that was the end of the scoring for the game (7 – 6).

West Virginia took the series 2 – 1, ending their unlucky streak against the Bulls. The Bulls look to recover from the loss of this series as they get on the road to Jacksonville on Wednesday to take on North Florida before heading to Villanova.

Baseball: USF Bulls to face WVU Mountaineers

The USF Bulls are looking to improve their record against WVU

After a detrimental 9 – 4 loss against Florida Gulf Coast University, the University of South Florida Bulls are hoping for a sweep in their next series.

The Bulls are looking to improve on their record of 9 – 12 against BIG EAST conference members West Virginia University and prior history could be a good sign.

The Bulls have met the WVU Mountaineers 15 times since 2006 and have won 11 of those 15 match-ups, so it would seem they have an advantage. However, after last season’s devastating BIG EAST Championship loss of 10 – 5 for WVU, they are hoping to leave Tampa with three more wins to add to their 14 – 9 record.

The Bulls have shown that they have had issues with leaving runners on the bases and it showed in the game against Florida Gulf Coast. USF left a total of nine runners on the bases without taking advantage of the errors made by FGCU. Even with bases loaded in the eighth inning with one out, the Bulls only scored one run as a result of a sacrifice fly by James Ramsay, which is when a player hits a fly ball that will easily be caught by a player on the opposing team in order to send a baserunner home.

USF is looking to improve their running and hitting game in order to pull off a win against the Mountaineers.

The first pitch of the series, made by WVU’s Jon Jones (6.75 ERA), is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the USF Baseball Park. Randy Fontanez (3.21 ERA) will be on the mound for the Bulls. Game 2 will take place at 7 p.m. on Saturday at the USF Baseball Park and game 3 will be held at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

UPDATE: USF beat WVU 8 – 4 in Friday night’s game 1 of the series. Todd Brazeal ended the third inning with a three-run homer, putting the Bulls up with an early lead of 5 – 0. With three more runs scored by the Bulls in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings, WVU was unable to come out with a win.

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