Meeting The Complete Gamer, Bob Gibson
 photo credit: Ben Munson/St. Louis Cardinals

photo credit: Ben Munson/St. Louis Cardinals

After months of anticipation the day arrived for everyone involved in the creative process and creation of the Complete Gamer Song to meet the legendary Bob Gibson, former pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals. Gibson played for the Cardinals for 19 years from the age of 21, eventually retiring at 40 years old.  

The original plan was to introduce the Complete Gamer song and award to Bob Gibson on the field before the first pitch. Unfortunately this had to be put on hold due to the weather. A more intimate award ceremony between the L.I.F.E Arts students and Bob Gibson was able to take its place, along with a question and answer session. 

Surprisingly, a sense of calmness filled the room instead of the anticipated nervous jitters. The students were mostly excited to ask Gibson questions that they had prepared for months. 

One student asked Bob Gibson what he thought about the Complete Gamer song, which was in the style of rap. "I thought it was wonderful," said Gibson "I don’t know much about rap, because I'm old, but I asked my son was it good and he said it was very good." "I think you guys put a lot of work into it and I couldn’t be happier." 

Everyone then had the opportunity to ask their questions, and they began spitting off like wildfire. 

 photo credit: Ben Munson/St. Louis Cardinals

photo credit: Ben Munson/St. Louis Cardinals

Q: How does it feel be commemorated by the Cardinals all these years later?"  

A: "It feels great to be honored. I was the first black player to play baseball and basketball at Creighton University. I played in little towns in Nebraska as the only black person. It was quite an experience.(in life) You must learn to lose the animosity to continue to go forward. I started off in the housing projects, I went through some rough times, but times are good now. When I first came to St. Louis it was difficult to find a decent place to live. I've seen the city go from nowhere to where it is now. It has a long way to go but it has come a long way, and I've been able to see it." 

Q: Theoretically, if other songs were made about you what milestones would you like to be highlighted?  

A:" I would have to sit down and think about it, you guys pretty much captured everything in your song, all the big milestones." 

Q: If it wasn’t a rap song what genre of song would you like to be made about you? 

 A: "I'm a huge jazz fan."  

Q: What kind of music did you listen to, to get you hyped up for a game?  

A: "Well, I love all kinds of music, especially jazz but usually the game was enough to get me hyped. I didn’t need anything extra." 

 photo credit: Ben Munson/St. Louis Cardinals

photo credit: Ben Munson/St. Louis Cardinals

Q: What was the biggest takeaway you learned playing for the Cardinals that you kept for the rest of your life? 

A: "I learned how to interact with people, the more people you encounter the more you learn about life. It's about learning why people are the way they are. Its not all about you, sports forces you to meet other people from all walks of life." 

Q: What do you want your legacy to be?  

A:" I want to be known as a person who gave 100% of myself towards what I loved, the driving force for me was always trying hard." 

Bob was then presented with a commemorative bottle of wine, engraved with the words Complete Gamer Bob Gibson. "Another thing sports taught me," Gibson said jokingly when presented with the commemorative bottle, "was drinking some of the finer things in life." 

Zach, who plays Gibson in the Complete Gamer music video took the opportunity to let Gibson know how much he inspired him. "It was an honor, I used to mock your style playing t-ball growing up, it was amazing being you for a day." 

The final question asked of Gibson was "what would you say to someone to help them push through hardships in any avenue?" 

"Try to be the best that you can possibly be." Gibson said,  "I strived to be the best, I didn’t get there but I sure tried. I had a brother who expected me to be better, when you grow up and you have someone pushing you it inspires you to be better." he goes on to say, "It takes a lot of hard work, it’s a cliché that says - you can do whatever you want to do- well you can't really do whatever you want to do, but if you put in a lot of work your chances are a lot better." 

 

Brian Owens
UMSL Host Hamilton Lunch & Learn

Students from North County schools were able to experience a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet the cast of the hit Broadway Show Hamilton. This was made possible in part to Brian Owens and Michael Smith, who were able organize the event as a Lunch and Learn on UMSL's campus.  

Hamilton is an American Musical that is sung- and rapped about the life of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton with music and lyrics. It is based on a book by Lin-Manuel Miranda, inspired by the 2004 biography Alexander Hamilton by historian Ron Chernow. 

Steve Erwin is a teacher at McClure High School. He took his students to see Hamilton at the Fox the day before the Lunch and Learn. He describes the Lunch and Learn as an authentic assessment. "It gives our students the ability to apply things to the real world and brings social studies to life, it parallels what's going on in the world today." 

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Enthusiastic cheers filled the room as the cast of Hamilton descended from the stairs to take their seats on stage. The cast took their seats and introduced themselves by name and character that they play. Austin Scott who plays Alexander Hamilton, Chris De’Sean Lee who plays Marquis de Lafayette, Raymond Baynard who is part of the ensemble, Amanda Braun who is a swing, Jennifer Geller who is part of the ensemble and Jennifer Locke who is part of the ensemble. 

The questions asked of the cast were based on the L.I.F.E ARTS acronym. L-Leadership, I-Innovation, F-Faith, and E-Excellence, and how these factors played a role in getting them where they are today and how they use them now in their professions. 

Throughout the Q&A much advice was given. The audience would nod in agreement and applaud in sync to the answers given. 

A few gems included: 

"Every single one of you has something that the world needs and it's up to you to give it." said Austin Scott. 

When the cast was presented with the question "How have the leaders in your life helped and positioned you for the role in your life?" 

Raymond Benard answered, "Surround yourself with people who can push you and help you and not just tell you everything you're doing is right, look for leaders in your life who take on that role." 

"Pay attention because the best leader is a better follower, learn how to follow a good leader." said Chris De'Sean. 

The last audience question came from, Tammy Williams, a student from McClure High School within the Ferguson-Florissant School District, she asked "how does the cast feel performing this show in St. Louis knowing the background of this city's history and its racial tension?" 

A look of understanding fell across the faces of the cast. It seemed as if they had a complete understanding of the city's history and why a play like Hamilton would have an impact on a city like St. Louis. 

"They need to see this, considering what America is now they need to see this energy on stage."  replied Chris De'Sean. 

"There's a line in the show that says scratch that, this is a movement not a moment and that's what we are here for, a movement." said Jennifer Gellar "it's amazing to be somewhere like this and to show people what we're doing and why we're doing it."  

The lunch and learn ended with each school being able to take group pictures with the cast and introduce themselves personally. "It’s a day I'll never forget" said one student. 

Brian Owens
Brian Owens Keynote Speaker At Annual Ferguson Youth Initiative Banquet
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Ferguson Youth Initiative's mission is to empower teens from Ferguson and the surrounding areas to become productive, positive and contributing members of their community. 

This year FYI held its annual banquet which gives the organization an opportunity to showcase the youth’s involvement and their ideas to the broader community.  

The theme was “All Hands In” to emphasize the importance of everyone working together to support the young people throughout their journey. FYI celebrated its collaborative works and achievements to #SupportYoungPeople with local community leaders, parents, business owners, community residents, organizations, and of course, Young People. 

This youth-centric evening was filled with celebration through music, recognitions, and talks from individuals who, in some way, have contributed to, or been impacted by the work and mission of the Ferguson Youth Initiative. 

This year's keynote speaker was Life Arts very own Brian Owens.  

Owens began his keynote by leading the crowd in song. Lyrics that sung "The journey to justice will always be fought, so let's fight the real enemies, hatred and greed."  

"I am a fan of the Ferguson Youth Initiative." Owens begins. He was introduced to the organization by his former neighbor of 10 years, Gail Babcock. "My wife and I are choosing to live in Ferguson, we now live in the house that Gail Babcock lived in." 

  Owens goes on to say "Ferguson isn't just a byline it's our city and it’s a city that has birth greatness. The greatest capital we have in this city right now is our young people and the greatest investment we can make is in our young people."  

Owens says in 2014 and 2015, "something that would bother me was that everyone wanted to come into Ferguson and give us what they thought we should do. When I would go out on tour and people would ask how they could help, I would tell them to support FYI. I always make sure people are aware of my faith my family and my Ferguson." 

He goes onto say "Every city has problems, every city has tragedies, but I don’t know if every city has a FYI." 

In keeping with the theme "All Hands In", Owens spoke about how working together can always get goals completed faster. He used the familiar example of his children cleaning up around the house on Saturday mornings. "The overall interest is getting the house clean, not completing your individual task. I'm trying to teach my children that things go a lot faster when everyone chips in, so that they can get back to playing their PlayStation." 

He takes this idea a step farther with the notion that the building of community starts with the mindset that you have to be concerned about others. "You have to chip in and be all hands in." He continues, "Do not look only to your own interest but also to the interest of others. If we are so foolish that we believe we can strive by ignoring the interest of others we are fooling ourselves."   

Owens recalls the biblical story of Nehemiah. The walls of his beloved city were down. "A city without walls is vulnerable." Owens says. "To me the greatest message in this story is that the people of the city began working to rebuild the wall themselves." They worked day and night. With a spear in one hand to protect themselves from their enemies and a brick in the other they restored the wall in 52 days. "It's because everyone had their hands in and there was a common interest to reconstruct the wall." 

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"Today we must recommit to all hands in with our spears up building a wall of protection around our young people." says Owens "We must be all build a wall of protection around our young people; our children are not our future they are our now and if you decimate the children of a culture we will have no future." 

Owens states "My encouragement to you is to let us all be inspired by the greatness of these young people and God and to make an effort to look upon the interest of others." 

In closing Owens ends with Dr. Martin Luther King's Nobel Peace Prize Speech. "with an abiding faith in America and an audacious faith in the future of mankind. I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history." 

Brian Owens