Monday, February 26, 2018

SUU to NCAA Basketball Coach

Although his job requires him to wear a rival institution's colors, Utah State's Associate Head Men's Basketball Coach Tarvish Felton (’99) admits, "Choosing to go to SUU was the single best thing I did for my life."

Tarvish grew up an hour and a half south of Atlanta in a small town called Perry, Georgia, and, along with his older sister, was raised by his mother and grandmother. From an early age, these strong role models instilled in Tarvish a desire to serve and give back. Initially, he believed a white coat and stethoscope would be his calling, but eventually decided on a different uniform.

"When I was a kid, I always wanted to be a doctor,” he says. “As I got older, I continued to develop a passion for sports, and basketball specifically. Growing up in a single parent home and being around others in the same situation, I realized the men in our lives were our coaches."

Recruited to Southern Utah University by Bill Evans (’73), Tarvish became a charismatic and dominant figure representing the Thunderbirds on the basketball court. During each season spent as #21 for SUU, Tarvish ranked in the top ten in points, rebounds, free throws, steals, and blocked shots.

"Meeting Bill Evans and having the opportunity to play for him and learn life's lessons was the best thing I could have done,” he says. “To this day, I continue to have amazing relationships with all the wonderful people from all walks of life I met on campus. SUU opened the world to a small town black kid from the south, and I am forever grateful."

Tarvish has been teaching the T-Bird philosophies he learned from his academic and athletic pursuits to student athletes in Los Angeles, Laredo, and Sacramento before settling into ten years as part of the Utah State Men's Basketball program. In Logan, he oversees every phase of the program from recruitment, student-athlete development, scheduling, academics, and compliance.  And, he credits SUU for influencing his coaching style.

"It gave me the tools to go out and succeed in the world. Being a student-athlete at SUU allowed me to be me, to write my own story,” he explains. “Now, I am able to share that story with the young men I am fortunate enough to engage with on a daily basis."

While Southern Utah University helped Tavish capitalize on his desire to impact future generations, he says the greatest lesson he learned from his time in Cedar City is work ethic and chivalry.

"The thing I learned more than anything about myself at Southern Utah is that if you work hard and treat people right, you can achieve anything," he says.

Tarvish is proud of his time at Southern Utah University and the education that has helped him be a positive influence on the student-athletes who cross his path.  But what really makes him smile is his family. He is married to the former Jana Doggett and the couple has two children, DeAubrey (18) and Deekan (3), who is already showing some potential with a basketball and sure would look good in Thunderbird red.

Monday, February 12, 2018

SUU to Police Officer

Crystal Bingham likes shoes and admits that she probably has more heels in her closet than the nearest shoe store has in stock.

But she also is perfectly comfortable in a pair of cleats on the softball field, spikes on the golf course, or tactical shoes for her police work. The ability to excel in very different roles and opportunities in her life is what made Southern Utah University the perfect choice for a diverse college experience.

Crystal grew up in the White Mountains in a town called Show Low, Arizona, but she was truly raised on the softball field. The youngest of five children, she spent her days attending her older sisters' softball practices, clinics, and private lessons imitating her sibling’s motions from the sidelines.

"It was always my goal to be better than my sisters who were both amazing ball players,” she says. “And after my collegiate softball career ended, I took up golf and quickly found out that I have a new hobby that I can do for years to come to satisfy my competitive nature!"

After her time in Arizona, Crystal finished up high school in Preston, Idaho, where her father took a job as the principal and athletic director. It was during her time at West Side High School, that Southern Utah's softball program took notice.

"From the day Coach Laurel Simmons walked into my house to recruit me to be a Thunderbird, I knew I would decline all my other scholarship offers to play for any other school,” she explains. “I had eleven total offers and chose SUU not only for the appeal of the university and the town, but because I wanted to play for a coach I trusted."

Once on campus, Crystal developed an interest in criminal justice and cites great professors and mentors for helping her become a police officer in Buffalo Grove, Illinois. She just started her twelfth year as a Buffalo Grove Police officer in the patrol division.

"My day to day duties are never the same, which is why I love what I do,” she says of her job. “I respond to calls, enforce traffic, and am a field training officer, which means I train the new officers we hire and show them the ropes as well as part of the recruitment team which recruits future officers to our agency from various career fairs and colleges. I am also a DUI/SFST instructor and a Rapid Deployment instructor which involves police response to high stress situations such as active shooter scenarios, room/building clearing, etc..."

Crystal credits her professors at SUU for teaching her how to apply her education to real life. 

"You're in your late teens and early twenties thinking criminal justice is just like an episode of CSI or Law & Order when really it's nothing like that,” she says. “I felt like my professors had real life experience and knowledge of the topics they were teaching me and weren't just reading from a textbook."

In conjunction with the "real world" education she received from Southern Utah University, Crystal believes the qualities Thunderbird athletics taught her also play a vital role in her success.  

"Benefits are endless as a student athlete at SUU," she says. "Learning to balance a busy life all while maintaining the highest level of physical fitness, grades to maintain scholarships, and meeting academic deadlines when you're busing traveling the country for games and competing with elite athletes taught me how to excel in all areas of life. I have respect for those who have mentored me in my athletic career. As a training officer with my police department, I always say the easiest rookies to train are the ones with some type of athletic or military background because they are used to a discipline that many others may not be and they look at you as their coach."

Crystal believes she has become an effective "coach" in her career because of the lessons she learned at Southern Utah University. She uses her life experience and desire to seek out diverse opportunities to inspire the next generation of police officers.

"One reality check for me in college was that I HAD to study and Coach Simmons made sure we did," she explains. "I think here I learned discipline, focus, and balancing a heaving work load--all of which are the tools that I use every day in my life now, I am grateful beyond words for those lessons. I learned that opportunities aren't always given, sometimes you need to seek them out, SUU taught me that I can always do more than I think I'm capable of."

Southern Utah taught Crystal how to manage wearing all those different shoes in her life, and while it's challenging, she wouldn't have it any other way.

"I am engaged to the love of my life, who is also a police officer and proudly serving as a Captain in the Army National Guard. Though extremely busy at times, we live an awesome life."