Defensive end #18, James Davidson, in his fifth year with the UTEP Miners. (Germad Reed/Borderzine.com)

A college football player ponders his options after graduation

EL PASO – James Davidson started playing football and Tae Kwon Do when he was eight years old but his parents always told him that school was more important than anything else. Entering his senior year with a major in criminal justice at the University of Texas at El Paso, Davidson, 23, has an important decision ahead of him – what to do after he walks across the graduation stage. Davidson who is 6’3 and 235 pounds plays defensive end for the UTEP  Miners and is a three-time champ in Tae Kwon Do. He has played every position on defense, starting at safety, linebacker, to defensive end and he even played on special teams returning some kicks and punts. He was regarded as one of the top 20 defensive backs in high school in Huntsville, Texas, and according to Scout, a sports ranking website, he was the No.128 high school safety in the nation. He was also an honorable mention selection on defense in the 2008 Associated Press 4A All-State team.

Johne at the gym on "leg day". (Cristina Quinones/Borderzine.com)

Lifting weights is the easy part of a body builder’s training

EL PASO – A young man in his early 20’s, wearing a tank top, earphones, and shorts puts down a pair of weights and sweating, calmly looks up at his own reflection in the gym mirror. He’s been lifting weights since he was 18 and today Johne Green is a competitive body builder.  On August 31st, he was awarded 1st Place in Novice Middleweight and 5th place in Light heavy weight open division at his first competition in the Sun City Regional Qualification trials. Green admits that when he was first introduced to lifting, he was not interested; “My father always worked out, so he tried to get me to work out too. I wasn’t really into it until I was about 17, and then I began really getting into lifting and keeping in shape.” Now just a few years later, Green is a fitness enthusiast and an amateur body builder.  After years of lifting, his colleagues and friends began asking him for advice to help them reach their fitness goals.  He offered his advice, and training free of cost to help out, and because he loved staying in shape.

"Obama has made the case that the U.S. empowered by the world’s fear of and revulsion for chemical weapons should hit Syria hard. After all, we have seen the corpses – little ones and big ones – pile up, choked to death by sarin gas."

Politicians mull while chemical weapons kill hundreds in Syria

LAS CRUCES, N.M. – They say politics makes strange bedfellows. Sometimes politicians call that compromise, something we have not seen much of late in Washington, but I can only imagine true-blue Beto O’Rourke’s face when he woke up this morning next to right-winger U.S. Senator Ted Cruz. Their procrustean bed had sliced off O’Rourke’s left side leaving Cruz with all the covers and most of the mattress. The ties that bind them are doubts about supporting President Obama’s decision to strike at Syria’s caches of chemical weapons. Obama has made the case that the U.S. empowered by the world’s fear of and revulsion for chemical weapons should hit Syria hard.

Having skate parks for El Paso’s action sports enthusiast also draws them more into the community, and according to Robertson, helps encourage good citizenship. (David A. Reyes)

Local nonprofit propels skateboarding into area parks

EL PASO – El Paso City Council approves a $1.4 million bond for the construction of the largest skate park in the region with help from a tireless local organization. The new state-of-the-art skate park in Northeast El Paso, began construction in June financed by the 2012 Quality of Life bonds approved by City Council. The park is scheduled to be completed by August 30, 2014. “We firmly believe that skateboarding, BMX, and all action sports are here to stay,” said Bill Robertson, assistant professor at the University of Texas at El Paso and member of the El Paso Skatepark Association, “[these sports are] part of our culture, and by making parks available you’re actually extending opportunities not only to young people, but also to families.”

Part of this skate-park project stems from an idea that Robertson, Paul Zimmerman, and Gabe Lawler devised back in 2008, when skateboarders and El Paso City Hall got together to build more “high quality” concrete facilities for skateboarders, according to the association. The El Paso Skatepark Association has ushered in 17 skate parks in El Paso County, with 10 within city limits.

Boxer Amanda Ramirez poses next to his trainer, Herman Delgado. (Frankie Rodriguez/Borderzine.com)

Her will to win undefeated, Amanda Ramirez keeps on punching

EL PASO – With the sour taste of defeat still in her mouth from last year’s Golden Gloves tournament, Amanda Ramirez went on a tough yearlong training program hoping to win this year, but she lost the bout in a close decision. Her will to push until she wins, however, remains undefeated. The 23-year-old El Pasoan boxer, now a graduate of A&M, class of 2011, trained all year for the 71st annual Regional Golden Gloves tournament that took place on Feb. 15 at the El Paso County Coliseum but was defeated by Sasha Villalva in the Female Division, 135-pound class. “I felt disappointed.

Supreme Court rules for gay marriage in two cases, ends term

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court handed supporters of gay marriage a pair of victories Wednesday on the final day of its term. The Supreme Court ruled that the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and determined that it could not rule on California’s Proposition 8. Both decisions were 5-4. In United States v. Windsor, the DOMA case, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said the act violated the equal protection clause of the Fifth Amendment. DOMA, enacted in 1996, defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

Affirmative action returned to lower court, Title VII of Civil Rights Act further defined

WASHINGTON – In a day full of discrimination decisions, the Supreme Court sent an affirmative action case back to a lower court and ruled on a critical aspect of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The court did not decide whether the University of Texas at Austin acted unconstitutionally in using race as a factor for admissions, leaving the debate over affirmative action unresolved. Justices said that the university must prove to an appeals court that using affirmative action in its admissions process achieves educational benefits from diversity. Essentially, the school must define its criteria for using affirmative action before a decision can be reached. “The particular admissions process used for this objective is subject to judicial review.

Even a die-hard sports fan as Domingo Martinez, struggles to keep up with NCAA team realignments. (Courtesy of Domingo Martinez)

Scratching the surface of the NCAA team realignment

EL PASO – The mambo jumbo conference-switching going on in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is crazy. With all those schools switching conferences for various reasons, I can only just scratch the surface in this column. There are many schools changing for the better, but maybe switching conferences can be harmful if the school is not really ready for the change. A change can be for good, for better, or for worse. More recently the NCAA Division 1 had many teams switching into other conferences such as WAC, Conference USA, Big East, BIG TEN, ACC, and others for various reasons, such as fame, more money, more national exposure or just to cut back on travel time and costs.

From left, candidates Dean Martinez, Steve Ortega and Jaime O. Perez at a recent mayoral forum hosted by the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce. (Michelle Blanks/Borderzine.com)

Eight aspirants vie for one job – Mayor of El Paso

EL PASO – Eight men who aspire to run this city sit, slowly drinking water from Styrofoam cups in front of an audience some 120 persons, in anticipation of the questions they have to answer to prove they are worthy of the title of mayor. The Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce held a mayoral forum recently where the candidates in the May 11 election attempted to prove they each were the best man for the job. Present in the packed hall were: educator Jorge Artalejo, business owner Robert Cormell, mortgage broker Gus Haddad, businessman Oscar Leeser, education management specialist Hector Lopez, U.S. Department of Defense retiree Dean Martinez, city representative Steve Ortega, and educator Jaime Perez. “There is a confidence in the community, optimism about El Paso that I have not seen since living here. If you support my candidacy you support the continued improvement of this community in a positive and ambitious direction,” said Ortega in an opening statement allotted to each candidate in reference to why they would be an ideal mayor for El Paso.