Citadel rifle team’s Alaska adventure includes shooting, dog-sledding

Article written by Tommy Braswell

The Post and Courier (First printed in The Post & Courier on Jan. 27, 2014)

Pictured, from left, are: Ashten Byrne (kneeling by flag), Amber Mills, Nathaniel Moy, Robert Jackson, Richard Hunton, Charles Yeh, Margaret LaRiviere (standing holding flag) and Teddi Haliscak (kneeling by flag).

Pictured, from left, are: Ashten Byrne (kneeling by flag), Amber Mills, Nathaniel Moy, Robert Jackson, Richard Hunton, Charles Yeh, Margaret LaRiviere (standing holding flag) and Teddi Haliscak (kneeling by flag).

When it comes to dream destinations for a sports team, it’s pretty hard to top The Citadel rifle team’s recent visit to Fairbanks, Alaska, for a two-day competition.

How many other athletes at the school ever went dog-sledding in their free time? Certainly not the 2010 Citadel football team that traveled to Arizona. And not this year’s basketball team that traveled to Canada for a summer exhibition series.

“It was definitely an experience. Most of the people who went on the trip live in North Carolina, South Carolina or Georgia. We loved jumping in the snowbanks, throwing snowballs. We had a great time,” said Teddi Haliscak, a junior member of the women’s team from Horsehead, N.Y.

“The kids apparently had a blast, so I’m definitely jealous,” said Citadel rifle coach William Smith, who did not make the trip. “They got to go dog-sledding, they went to Chena Hot Springs. The University of Alaska has an outstanding native culture museum. They all really had a great time seeing that stuff.”

The genesis of this year’s trip dates back six years when Alaska-Fairbanks, a 10-time NCAA champion in rifle, invited The Citadel to compete in a regional. The Nanooks have traveled to The Citadel for matches in the ensuing years, but Smith wanted to send a team back to Alaska and was able to schedule matches there Jan. 19 against Ohio State and Jan. 20 against the host school. The Citadel lost both matches on the scorecard but came away winners, said team captain Richard Hunton, a junior from Columbia.

“I’m really grateful we had the opportunity to go to Alaska. Alaska (No. 2) and Ohio State are some of the higher-ranked teams in the country and it was a great opportunity to compete against them,” Hunton said.

“We did very well considering we were coming back from a long winter break and three days

later left for Alaska with only a couple of practices under our belt. I think we represented The Citadel very well,” added Haliscak.

Assistant coach Shannon Brusseau accompanied the team. In addition to Hunton, members of the men’s team who traveled were Nathaniel Moy, Robert Jackson and Charles Yeh. Women’s team members were Margaret LaRiviere, Amber Mills, Ashten Byrne and Haliscak.

Haliscak said the Alaska trip has been a topic of conversation for a couple of years. Wrangling an invitation to participate in the match was no problem, Smith said. The problem was raising the funds for cadets to make the trip. Knowing it would be difficult to finance eight team members plus Brusseau, Smith used competition as an incentive.

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“Last year at the end of the season when we scheduled the match, I said it would be whichever team had scored the best, plus two people from the other team. I kind of surprised them at the last minute and said both teams were going,” Smith said.

Funds were raised in a variety of methods. Smith got grants from the Friends of the NRA (National Rifle Association) as well as the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Team members sold mugs and coozies with “Citadel Rifle Team 2014 – Alaska or Bust” at a football game. Lt. Col. Richard Moore, who coached the team to national titles in 1959, 1960 and 1961, was inducted into the school’s athletic hall of fame in the fall, and that led to another fundraising opportunity during a rifle team alumni gathering.

The dream turned into reality on Jan. 16. Air rifles, .22-caliber rifles and ammunition were inspected and checked at Charleston International Airport, and soon the team was headed on its 4,300-mile journey.

“We left out of here at 3:30 a.m. to catch the flight and flew all day,” Hunton said. “We arrived at Fairbanks around 4 or 5 in the afternoon, took our rifles and shooting gear to their range and then went to our hotel for dinner and some rest.”

Smith built in two days for the team to rest and enjoy the Alaska experience.

The highlight of the trip, other than the competition itself, was dog-sledding.

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“That was really neat for the team members,” Hunton said. “The lady who did it was very  gracious, very helpful. She would stand on the back and guide the dogs and we could fit two team members on the sled at a time. The ride was around 20 or 30 minutes. She showed us how to harness the dogs for sledding, and when we finished, she complimented everybody on the team for how well they handled the dogs.”

Haliscak said every member of the team agreed the dog-sledding excursion was one of the best experiences they could remember “hands down.”

The journey back to Charleston was the most arduous part of the trip, consuming the better part of two days because of a snowstorm in the northeast. But it was a small price to pay for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

*Tommy Braswell, is the Golf and Outdoor Columnist at The Post and Courier*

Growing up with a Hall of Fame Coach

Madison with his grandfather, Chal Port

Madison with his grandfather, Chal Port

By Madison Port
Spring Intern in The Citadel Media Relations Office &
Grandson of Hall of Fame Citadel Baseball Coach Chal Port

As a grandson of former Citadel baseball coach Chal Port, I have many stories to share about the influence he had on me. His influence transcends not only baseball but life in general.

I can remember vividly going to visit “Pop Pop”, which is what family members called him. Every weekend in the offseason between the conclusion of football and the start of baseball, I went to his house to take batting practice off the JUGS pitching machine.

It feels like yesterday seeing “Pop Pop” sitting in his fold-up chair, cane by his side, sun shining brightly and Casey, the family dog, chasing the balls in the backyard.

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At the end of our batting session, Pop Pop would set the machine to throw curve balls and would also joke about my curve ball hitting skills – or lack thereof. This is just a small sample of the many countless stories growing up as Chal Port’s grandson.

Pop Pop was such a huge influence not only in my life, but in lives of many. His passion for baseball was only a minor part of what made him so great.

He had a great knack for getting the most out of his players and this was proven by The Citadel’s dramatic and historic run to the 1990 College World Series in Omaha.

Personally, I believe it’s one of the best Cinderella stories in the history of college baseball. My grandfather’s dedication and hard work in every aspect of life has been the biggest influence on me.

Seeing all of the people that my grandfather has impacted in his life is special and remarkable, and one of the best things Pop Pop has told about baseball, and also in life, is that dedication, hard work and perseverance builds true character.

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Chal Port was a perfect fit here at The Citadel because of his personality and his military background, and my grandfather instilled those great qualities in me.

I will forever cherish the moments I got to spend with such an incredible man.

How Much Does A Ticket to A Game Really Entitle You Too?

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By Jon Cole

It happens in all phases of your life at one point or another. It may come from a superior, those who you work with or even from yourself. It is called criticism.

We have all received it, whether it is on a research paper, job proposal, a work presentation or even simply the way that we go about our everyday lives.

Saturday night’s incident involving Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart and a fan at Texas Tech immediately made me think back to a couple of instances when opposing fans may have “pushed the buttons” of members of The Citadel basketball team to make an immediate reaction.

The instance that stands out most in my mind occurred during the 2010-11 season when The Citadel visited New Mexico. When entering The Pit, then freshman guard DeVontae Wright was greeted in the parking lot by a fan of the Lobos and asked in a scruffy screaming voice “are you ready for this??? I don’t think you are ready for this tonight…..because it is going to be loud…..are you ready for this???”

This Lobo faithful, in very close proximity to Wright’s ear and face, received no response from Wright despite the fact that the individual, known as “Snake,” was interfering with his personal space.

One year prior, while visiting Missouri State, The Citadel’s Cameron Wells drew the attention and “affection” of a fan sitting in close proximity to the team bench. Wells was constantly badgered by the middle-aged fan, even questioning me the following morning “why was he all over me during the game? I was so sick of hearing it from him.”

Sitting courtside at the scorer’s table, it is professionally ingrained in me that I am not allowed to cheer and make gestures about the game. And I certainly would not respond to any of those jeering fans with comments of my own as to their treatment of The Citadel. However, that does not prevent me from hearing the comments that fans have made over the course of the last five seasons.

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I have heard the chants of “West Point rejects” come from several unnamed Southern Conference schools. There is also the occasional “come on Chuck, even ‘Lefty’ wouldn’t argue that call” when Coach Driesell is under the impression that he was on the wrong end of a referee’s decision.

The experiences are not all negative as there are the respectful schools such as Michigan State, who stood alongside The Citadel cadet-student-athletes as the alma mater was played at McAlister Field House in 2009.

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As the age of social media grows, the references to individual players get more intense, even so much as to ask how their parents (ex: Tom and Mary) are doing when someone is at the free throw line.

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While the physical response that Smart made is not for me to judge, it is important to note that these are college basketball players, ages 18 to 22 normally, who are constantly being badgered by opposing fans in 40-minute long intervals.

These players, the programs they represent and the coaches they play for are forever critiqued based on their reactions to heat of the moment encounters.

So as you purchase your seats to football, baseball, basketball games or any other event for that matter, cheer for your team—but remember to do so in a classy manner as you reflect not only your school but impact the way that you are perceived by visiting schools.

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