Ex-UB football player hopes he set world box jump record

Personal trainer Chris Spell, left, and architect Herb Guenther authenticate one of the two jumps Spell made April 19 at Catalyst Fitness in Cheektowaga in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record box jump of attempt of 63.6 inches. He cleared 64 inches on each of the jumps. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)

Chris Spell is on a dual track toward two lofty goals.

Play football in the NFL.

Set the world record for the highest standing jump.

Spell will try out next weekend for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League, a step that could bring him closer to his biggest goal.

He’s much closer to a Guinness World Record listing.

“I wanted to time the tryout with this box jump record, to kind of springboard my career,” said Spell, a former University at Buffalo football player who has spent the last several months training intensively for both.

Last weekend, the 23-year-old Westchester County native twice leaped more than 64 inches high, atop a collection of mats stacked in the Turf Room at Catalyst Fitness in Cheektowaga.

The world record is 63.6 inches, set in May 2016 by Evan Ungar in Oakville, Ont.

Spell arranged to have both of his jumps videotaped, and observed by three sworn witnesses: a member of the Air Force and two police officers. Clarence architect Herb Guenther measured and confirmed each of the heights.

That Guinness-sanctioned arrangement allowed him to save several thousand dollars it would have cost to bring in world record company representatives to handle those duties, said Spell, who works in a Buffalo youth soccer program.

He expects to hear from Guinness this week if either of his two successful jumps is official.

One measured 64.5 inches; the other, 64.625 inches — nearly 5 feet, 4 inches high.

A crowd gathered behind cones to watch both attempts, and erupted in cheers after Spell stuck the landing on each one.

“He’s in here almost every day,” Catalyst branch manager Antoinette Todaro said. “He’s in good shape.”

It was the second stab the nearly 5-foot-10 Spell took at the record. Several weeks ago, Guinness officials told him the mats in an earlier attempt had too much give, and suggested he better stabilize them.

Spell began box jumping in earnest last August, when he discovered he could do it well.

“People were impressed by what I was doing in the gym,” he said, “and I wondered what the record was. I decided to look on Guinness World Record and it was 63.6 inches. I was getting 61 inches comfortably back then, and I was like, ‘Wait a minute, that’s pretty close. It would be really cool to say I’m the best in the world at something.’ So I started training.”

Cleaner eating — adding more fruits, vegetables and whole grains to a protein-rich diet — and six-day-a-week workouts have steeled him in his efforts. Spell focuses on legs twice a week, once doing squats, deadlifts and other strengthening exercises, the other drop-down jumps and box jumping drills.

Spell played football at Walter Panas High School in Cortlandt Manor, N.Y., then at Hartwick College in Oneonta, before transferring to UB and walking onto the Division 1 football program. The wide receiver — who never caught a pass in a game but was a regular on special teams — played on scholarship his last semester before graduating in late 2017 with a bachelor’s in sociology.

During his school pro day in 2018, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.48 seconds and broad jumped 10 feet, 10 inches.

Spell credited UB football coach Lance Leipold and strength and conditioning coach Ryan Cidzik for inspiring him to get into the physical condition he hopes will give him a shot at both of his goals.

“All of my training from University of Buffalo really helped even outside of the weight room,” he said.

If pro football doesn’t work out, he and his high school sweetheart, Anna Kelley, a hospitality major at SUNY Buffalo State, plan to return to Westchester County after she graduates next year. Spell, now a certified personal trainer, looks to teach other young athletes how to improve their physical performance.

“I’m super excited about this record,” he said, “but football is my true love, and that’s where my training and my head and all my effort is going to go to after I officially get this.”

He also may look to set other world records. The most obvious? The running vertical jump, which now stands at 73 inches.

[“source=buffalonews”]

India needs a world class higher education system: Vice President

Bengaluru: The Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu has said that a world-class higher education system was the need of the hour. Addressing students and faculty members of REVA University after inaugurating the State-of-the-art Architecture Block in the campus at Bengaluru today, he said that India’s quest for development would remain unfulfilled if we fail to create opportunities for quality higher education till the last mile.

Pointing out that concerns have been raised over the imbalance between excellence and inclusion, the Vice President called for revamping of higher education system to make more equitable and inclusive.

Shri Naidu said that we have tremendous talent amongst us and we cannot afford to let this talent lie dormant due to lack of avenues for quality education, especially higher education and skill training. He called for putting vulnerable sections of our population, the women, the differently-abled and the economically weak at the center of our strategy to expand higher education.

Observing that rapid industrialization and economic growth would create opportunities for around 250 million skilled workforces by 2030, Shri Naidu asserted that India would emerge as the global supplier of skilled manpower in the coming years.

The Vice President said that despite the progress made from the time of Independence, higher education system in India still suffers from a number of lacunae ranging from inadequate enrolment to quality issues to lack of equity and insufficient infrastructure. Observing that research was the cornerstone of higher education systems world over, the Vice President called upon institutions of high learning to create an environment for students to be innovative and creative.

Saying that advanced research was the way forward for India’s higher education, Shri Naidu called upon colleges and universities to equip their institutions with latest technologies and re-invent the teaching methodology.

The Vice President wanted institutions of higher education to focus on nurturing students with employable skills. He also suggested them to actively promote linkages between academic institutions, the industry, and the government to prepare students to suit the demands of the industry and train them to perform new age jobs.

The Chancellor of REVA University, Dr. P. Shyama Raju, the Vice Chancellor of REVA University, Dr. S.Y. Kulakarni, the Registrar of the University, Dr. M. Dhanamjaya, the Trustees of the University, Shri Bhasker Raju and Umesh Raju and other dignitaries were present at the event.

Following is the text of Vice President’s address:

” I am delighted to be here at REVA today, a campus that is a nucleus of brimming activity, amidst some of the brightest minds of the country.

Your campus is a true manifestation of the strong surge of energy and vigor of a young India.

Let me congratulate Dr Shyama Raju for his dedicated service to the nation in the field of education.

One of the most effective ways to cement a nation’s pathway towards growth and development is through a robust framework for quality professional education, an endeavour that is being taken to fruition by Dr Shyama Raju and his dedicated team.

I am glad to hear that REVA educates a large number of students from rural background. I am sure that REVA and its team of dedicated faculty will offer nothing but the best to every single one of its students.

My dear friends,

I am delighted to inaugurate the Architecture block of REVA University today.

I am told that this campus of REVA is home to 15000 talented students studying in diverse disciplines such as Engineering, Architecture, Management, Commerce, Humanities, Legal Studies and Performing Arts.

I firmly believe that students from varying disciplines should study together and interact with one another as frequently as possible to develop wider perspectives and accommodate contrarian view points.

This is, after all, the era of interdisciplinary studies. Aristotle once said, ‘It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it’.

My dear sisters and brothers,

In ancient India, the ‘Gurukula’ system of education thrived, where students resided in the ashrams or the homes of the Gurus.

The very word ‘Gurukula’ is a combination of two words, ‘Guru’, the master and the ‘kula’, the home. Students were not discriminated against on the basis of caste or creed and every student was involved in the activities of the ashrama.

The Gurukula was a place of acceptance, of harmony and of brotherhood and camaraderie, a safe haven for all those who pursued wisdom.

Your ‘Kula’ or home has been built well, it is now upto the Gurus and the shishyas to ensure that they make the best use of the facilities available here.

Let this abode of wisdom and scholarship become the modern day Gurukula where there is no place for prejudices and where the light of learning will dispel the darkness of all human vices.

My dear young friends,

Today India needs a world class higher education system, a mission that is of paramount importance, especially in the light of the burgeoning youth population in the country.

India has one of the youngest populations in the world and the window of demographic dividend opportunity is available for five decades from 2005-06 to 2055-56, longer than any other country in the world.

India will have the second largest graduate talent pipeline globally by the end of the year 2020. India’s economy is also expected to grow at a fast pace. Rapid industrialization would require a workforce of around 250 million by 2030.

India will certainly emerge as a global supplier of skilled manpower.

We have tremendous talent amongst us. We cannot afford to let this talent lie dormant due to lack of avenues for quality education, especially higher education and skill training.

According to World Bank estimates, India’s higher education system is the world’s third largest in terms of students, next to China and the United States.

Very soon, India will be one of the largest education hubs and learning destinations in the world.

India’s Higher Education sector has witnessed a tremendous growth in the number of Universities, University level Institutions and Colleges since Independence.

But we have a long way to go. Our higher education system still suffers from a number of lacunae ranging from inadequate enrolment to quality issues to lack of equity and insufficient infrastructure.

While it is true that access to quality higher education has improved in the last decade with more IITs, IIMs and Central and State-level universities being established, concerns have been raised about the imbalance between excellence and inclusion.

Let me remind you that our quest for development will remain unfulfilled if we fail to create opportunities for quality higher education till the last mile. Vulnerable sections of our population, the women, the differently-abled and the economically weak should be at the centre of our strategy to expand higher education.

Today, we are in the middle of Industry 4.0. There is widespread disruption due to technology and automation that are changing the nature of jobs and learning and we have to adapt fast to the changing scenario.

We need to create campuses that are integrated with latest technologies, which empower students to innovate and create. India should be a technology leader and not a follower.

New fields such as cyber security, robotics, digital technology, artificial intelligence, data-science, block chain and internet of things have the potential to transform the world. In this context, India must be innovative in approach and work out policies to boost research and optimally tap the demographic potential.

Statistics reveal that there were only 216 researchers per million in 2015. India’s investment in research is 0.62 per cent of its GDP. These numbers are well below global standards.

Research is the cornerstone of higher education systems world over. Advancing research should be the way forward for India’s higher education.

There is also a need to re-invent the teaching methodology in our centers of higher education.

The world is now experimenting with several effective teaching methodologies such as e-learning, simulation and role-playing, problem based learning and blended learning. India must also adopt best practices from all over the world to improve instruction.

There is also a need to train our teachers and equip them with better skill-sets and latest tools to effectively educate students in this era of digital technologies.

Institutions of higher education must also focus on nurturing employable skills.

The new Annual Employability Survey 2019 report by Aspiring Minds reveals that 80% of Indian engineers are unsuited for any job in the knowledge economy and only 2.5% of them possess tech skills in Artificial Intelligence (AI) that industry requires.

This is a matter of great concern.

Ad-hoc changes and quick fix solutions will not remedy the problem of employability. We have to actively promote linkages between academic institutions, the industry and the government so that we succeed in preparing our graduates to suit the demands of the industry and perform new age jobs.

Students must also be encouraged to undertake internships, live projects and corporate interactions which provide practical insights into how the industry operates and expose them to workplace realities. Current estimates say that less than 40% of our engineering graduates opt for internships.

I am very happy to know that REVA University has its own Industry Interaction Centre.

Quality education in India is still very expensive. Education should not be a business, but must be looked upon as a mission to build a better world.

Institutions of higher education have the potential to become the most crucial change agents in the society. Education is a powerful tool to reduce or eliminate income and wealth disparities.

I would also urge the Indian universities to continually engage and collaborate with world class academic institutions in different parts of the world.

The world is a global village and we have to ensure that we mould global, cosmopolitan citizens who are at ease in any part of the world.

My dear young friends,

I do not, for a second, believe that education is meant solely for employment. Education has a much higher purpose.

Education teaches us values, stimulates our intellect, develops tolerance and encourages us to question the absurd and equips us to contribute to the growth of the human society. True education opens up your mind and trains you to think critically, practically and creatively. It fosters empathy, kindness and humility.

I understand that the School of Architecture at REVA is participating in the Smart City Project. I am sure that your contribution in planning of cities, ensuring sustainability and energy conservation will bring about a paradigm shift in urban planning.

I hope this University continues to provide quality education and remains committed to the pursuit of excellence.

I wish you all the best in all your future endeavors!

[“source=indiaeducationdiary”]

The impossible Cricket World Cup selection puzzle that looms

Steve Smith and David Warner are fully expected to be included in the 15-man World Cup squad.

It’s becoming increasingly hard for selectors to find the weak links in Australia’s ODI line-up as they stew over who to tap on the shoulder when Steve Smith and David Warner return.

The two, whose year-long suspensions expire later this month, are fully expected to be included in the 15-man World Cup squad that must be submitted by April 23.

Australia travel to the UAE for a five-match ODI series after Wednesday’s decider against India.

[“source=foxsports”]

‘I lucked out a bit’ – UK skier James Woods wins first world title

James Woods

James Woods on his way to gold at the FIS World Championships. Photograph: Jeff Swinger/EPA

Great Britain’s James Woods has been crowned world champion for the first time after winning the men’s ski slopestyle competition in Utah.

The 27-year-old defied difficult weather conditions to edge out Norwegian teenager Birk Ruud and US double Olympic medallist Nick Goepper.

Woods said: “It feels good. Obviously I couldn’t be more proud. I’ve put a lot of effort in over the years as everybody has.”

“It was a bit of a wild day to be honest with you,” Woods added. “We’re hanging off the side of a mountain here – judging the weather conditions, assessing the wind, knowing what the snow is doing. Today was a pretty close call whether it was going to be fair. I only care whether conditions are fair and everybody’s safe. I lucked out a little bit, but you’ve got to take it haven’t you?”

Woods had previously won a world silver medal in Voss in 2013 and bronze at Sierra Nevada in 2017. And victory was especially sweet for the Sheffield star who missed out on a Winter Olympic medal in Pyeongchang last year by just 1.2 points.

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 James Woods on the podium following the men’s slopestyle worldc hampionship race. Photograph: Rick Bowmer/AP

Woods had looked set to snatch a podium place in South Korea until Goepper edged him out with the final run of the competition.

Woods’s medal is Britain’s third of the championships after Charlotte Bankes and Izzy Atkin took silver and bronze in snowboard-cross and Ski Big Air, respectively.

[“source=theguardian”]