DSU's Jennifer Mason
By Katelyn Boulton
From high school MVP to All-PacWest all-star, Jennifer Mason continues scoring goals on the soccer field. Mason, a junior business major from Springville, has played forward for the Dixie State University women’s soccer team since her freshman year. After a high school career entailing both basketball and soccer, Mason decided to pursue her love for sports beyond high school by becoming part of a larger soccer scene—DSU’s Red Storm.
“I was better at [soccer], but my (high school) team did better in basketball, so then I got more recognized in basketball,” said Mason. Having more recognition in basketball isn’t to say she wasn’t a star on her high school soccer team. “I was MVP for my (soccer) team,” she said. “...I was on the second team for the state.”
Mason attributes her kick off in soccer to her father, who she said pushed her and all of her five siblings to play the sport. “My dad didn’t play soccer or anything, but he got us all started in soccer, and now he coaches soccer. I think he kind of really pushed me into soccer and got me going,” she recalls.
Even with a dedicated soccer family at home, Mason said leaving her quiet hometown of Springville to come to St. George in order to pursue larger goals wasn’t too difficult. “I chose Dixie because I wanted to stay in Utah,” she said. “I didn’t really talk to any other schools. I didn’t really try and get my name out there at all. I decided late that I wanted to play soccer, so I had very limited options of where people would let me go.”
Though Mason’s decision to play college soccer was made in the nick of time, she said DSU is the place for her to be. The most enjoyable part of playing college-level soccer for Mason has been making life-long friendships with her teammates and growing as a team. “They’re all great girls and just help me want to be better,” she said.
Mason has a number of records in her time as Red Storm’s forward. Last school year, she led the Pacific West Conference in goals (15) and points (32), starting all games, and being named to the first team All-PacWest and second team Daktronics Division II All-West Region Team.
Mason began her college soccer career under Coach Linda Huddleston’s supervision, but she is moving into her junior year with a new coach, Kacey Bingham. “It was fun playing for Huddleston, and she was awesome, but it’s good to have a new perspective and new ideas coming in,” Mason said. “Kacey, our new coach, knows a lot and has a lot of soccer knowledge, so I like how she uses it and helps us learn more about it, like how to play it better. She plays different than I’m used to, so it pushes me to think a little more about what I’m doing, and I think that it’s going to make me a better player.”
Mason’s expectations for the upcoming season seem normal for any enthused soccer player. “I expect just to be winning!” Mason laughed. “For myself, I would like to lead the team in scoring again... Anything that I can do to help make the team better, I’m hoping I can do.”
If Mason plays similar to how she played both fall and spring season, she could reach even more goals this school year—both on and off the field.
DSU's Taylor Mann
By Katelyn Boulton
Taylor Mann’s plan of success in basketball was not going as she had hoped her freshman year of college—until she transferred to Dixie State University. Mann, No. 22, plays center for the women’s basketball team. Before transferring to DSU, Mann spent her first year of college at BYU-Hawaii. After a season of disappointing plays and few wins, BYU-Hawaii wasn’t providing the winning basketball Mann had hoped for.
Though Mann’s team at BYU-Hawaii was below par, her personal accomplishments were not. Mann received PacWest Honor Roll four times and was the PacWest freshman of the year at BYU-Hawaii during the 2011-2012 season. She broke the women’s basketball record for blocked shots in a single game, in a season, and in a career.
“Since I’m dedicating a lot of time to basketball and working hard, I wanted to be successful, and I knew that Dixie was a place I could go to be successful,” Mann says, happy with her decision to transfer. Originally from Castle Dale, Mann says being close to her family is another reason she made the choice to come back to Utah. “That’s actually one of the main reasons why I transferred to Dixie. I’m really, really close to my family, and Dixie was a great school and closer to my home than Hawaii was.”
Due to the PacWest Transfer rule, Mann had to redshirt her first year at DSU. “I was able to practice with the team, and I could sit on the bench and cheer, but I couldn’t travel and couldn’t play in any of the games,” she explains. “It was fun watching my team win, but it’s not as fun as actually playing and helping contribute to the win.”
Mann talks about how challenging it was to be part of a team exclusively from the sidelines, yet how easy it was to remain a team player because of her enthusiasm for the sport. “It’s about your passion and your heart,” she says. “When you get into college, and you’re playing a college sport, it is your job. You are there and fully dedicated, and you have so many things to do. If you don’t completely love it, it will make you miserable. That’s another reason you have to love the sport. Having to go through all the conditioning and practicing and not being able to play was rough.”
Lucky for Mann, she grew up with a dad who shared the same passion as her. “It’s something we’ve constantly worked on—on season, off season, out in our driveway. I guess it’s that love and passion that we both have for it is why I keep playing.” Mann wasn’t born a basketball player, however. “I was really into soccer when I was young, but since our community was so small, they had to cut soccer because not enough people were signing up. So [my dad] bought, ‘How to Coach Basketball for Dummies,’ and at the same time he was learning how to coach basketball, he was teaching me how to play it. From the very get-go, he and I were both learning at the same time and reading the books together.”
One of the main reasons Mann transferred to DSU is obvious as she explains her relationship with her family. “I am obsessed with my nieces and nephews,” she said. “I’ve got three nieces, and three nephews. I honestly love to spend every second with them. That was one of the hardest things being in Hawaii because they were growing up and I wasn’t there.”
Though Mann may seem like an eat, breathe, and sleep basketball kind of girl, she said her favorite pastime is spending time with her nieces and nephews—and for a good reason. “I have a problem growing up, so I love being with them because I can act like a kid whenever I want!” she says, with a laugh.
During her bench-life last season, Mann learned that “basketball is a sport that teaches you things that go beyond basketball. You learn to cooperate with so many different individuals and personalities in order to function and make you really successful. If you allow little things in life to get in the way, or clashes of personalities, it’s not going to be successful.”
With her eligibility active again, Mann is eager to play this season. “We have a new coach this year, and she is outstanding,” she says. “I love her enthusiasm, and she puts a whole new spin on basketball that sparks a new love in every one of my teammates.” If Mann’s attitude on-the-court is as winning as her attitude off-the-court, DSU can expect to see great things from this athlete in the upcoming season.
The Washington County School District Foundation
By Katelyn Boulton
Having an education is an irreplaceable gift—a gift that lasts beyond K-12. The Washington County School District Foundation helps give that gift. The purpose of the WCSD Foundation is to provide extra funding to the schools and students of our district.
According to the WCSD website, “The students we serve are our future leaders of our communities, our state and our country. If our students are given a more enriched education and are learning stronger skills, they will help our country remain strong.”
“That’s what the foundation is all about,” says Foundation Director Pam Graf, “Helping children to become our leaders someday. With the growth that comes and the amount of students we have, the funding we receive isn’t enough to provide a quality education.”
There are a number of programs the WCSD Foundation has in place to enrich the education of students, such as Adopt a Classroom, Adopt a School, and At-Risk Students. Donations made toward the Adopt a Classroom program are used to buy supplies or provide funding for classroom projects. Similarly, donations made toward the Adopt a School program are used to provide funding for particular schools.
“The Adopt a School is more business-oriented,” says Graf. Several businesses have been supporting the foundation and its programs for years, such as Allconnect, BioLife, Boulevard Home Furnishings, Cache Valley Bank, Dixie Power, and Stephen Wade Automotive Group. Businesses can choose a specific school to donate to or ask Graf where donations are needed.
The At-Risk Students program is in place to help students and families with their basic needs, such as food, clothes, and health. Graf says that with the holidays upon us, this time of year is the ideal time to donate to the At-Risk Students program.
Donations don’t always have to be dollar contributions, though. People can donate services and equipment, such as musical instruments. One of the biggest contributors to the foundation is a supportive community. “Support our events that come up,” advocates Graf. “When we do have a big event, we’d love to have [the community’s] support.”
Though many donors don’t expect anything in return for their services, donations are tax deductible. Interested donors should contact Pam Graf at 435-673-3553, ext. 5161.