The Beat: Big Week For Florida’s Favorite Son

Quote of the Week

“Just because you don’t think you have the skills today, fear shouldn’t stop you from making bold moves and going after what you want.”  – Inspiring words from alumna Adrienne Chance, Senior Director of Corporate Communications at Borden Dairy Company.

Congrats, Timmy!

We try to stay above a lot of the fray, and not be People magazine when it comes to Tim Tebow (seriously, the guy makes news just by brushing his teeth). But in this case we’re making an exception. How could we not lead with Florida’s favorite son getting engaged!

On Thursday, Tebow officially announced his engagement to girlfriend Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters.

“Thank you for saying YES and making me the happiest man in the world. You’re the love of my life, and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you,” Tebow shared on his Instagram page.

Nel-Peters, a former Miss Universe and Miss South Africa, wrote, “Any dreams I’ve ever had, you’ve exceeded them all! I love you and I can’t wait to spend forever with you!”

You can see Tebow’s post here. And here’s Nel-Peters.

Warm Congrats

You know, there will be a lot said of this engagement, and it’ll most certainly get the full tabloid treatment. But let’s just step back and enjoy how wonderful this is for Tim Tebow.

The man is so incredibly devout, and so steadfast in his beliefs. He wears them like a badge of honor. For him to be a super-duperstar, live in the limelight, and find a person whose personal lifestyle aligns with his is pretty remarkable. It’s difficult for many of us to find that special person, and must have been doubly so for Tebow as he navigated the world of Hollywood.

Most of us watched him grow up, from winning titles in high school to repping Florida better than, arguably, anyone ever could to carving out a life as a media star and wonderful philanthropist. Just a hearty kudos to the newly engaged couple.

Greatest Hits

This feels like a great time to relive some of Tebow’s greatest hits, right? Not that there’s ever a bad time, but hey, play ’em if you’ve got ’em!

Hand up, we definitely went down the rabbit hole on this one. It was glorious and we’re unapologetic about it. Hope y’all enjoyed!



Really cool stuff from doctoral candidate Kirsten Hecht, who has started using social media to make her field of study more accessible to women. What’s her field, you ask. Well, Kirsten studies salamanders. And she’s quick to point out that, yes, women can be into studying reptiles too.

“To be able to brush off the idea that women don’t like these things is huge for me,” she said. “I’ve seen a couple of tweets from moms with little girls that are into in reptiles and amphibians. People will tell them, ‘You can’t do that, that’s for boys.’ Now they have a whole community of representation.”

Kind of crazy that these conversations still happen, but each day they lessen a little bit more. Kirsten takes to social media with the hashtags #HERpers (signifying female herpetologists) and #herpetALLogy. There’s no thing too small to seed inclusion.


Beyond working to show that women get down with studying reptiles, Kirsten also does her best to strip away some of the stigma from scientists. Mainly showing that not everyone is an infallible Einstein or Stephen Hawking character. That everything starts with an idea, and from there it’s a lot of trial and error.

“Showing the everyday life of scientists is so powerful,” she says. “We make mistakes sometimes. We’re not geniuses who know everything. That’s a huge barrier sometimes keeping out people who might have wonderful ideas, but feel that they are not the right fit for science. I don’t think there is a right fit for science necessarily.”

You can check out Kirsten’s Twitter account here. We definitely recommend giving it a follow!


Gator Tracks

Here’s a smattering of all things Gators from the week. Enjoy!

Virtual Treatments

UF’s RESTORES clinic received a $3 million grant from the U.S. Defense Department to develop virtual reality technology for treating veterans and emergency services workers. Researchers will use the grant to learn how they can treat PTSD using virtual reality.

What’s really cool about this is that it’s not limited to military personnel. Police officers, firemen and women, EMTs, and anyone who experiences trauma on the job will be available for the treatment. We’re over the moon to see how this new treatment will help mental health.

More on this wonderful study

Robotic Exoskeletons

Really wild story about UF startup Myolyn partnering with scientists to create exoskeletons that help paralyzed people walk. The prototype has been eight years in the making, and will likely be available commercially very soon.

More on this incredible science

Education Grant

The Institute of Higher Education (IHE) has been awarded a $355,997 grant to help streamline student studies better. Essentially, they’re looking at how to better align students’ courses with their professional aspirations. So, like, you know how you took Man’s Food that one semester even though you planned on being in marketing and there was an introductory course on branding available? Yeah, sorting out that stuff (no offense to Uncle Marty with that example!).

More on this grant

Student Journalism

A hearty congratulations to J-School student Grace King for placing first in the Hearst Journalism Awards TV Features competition. Among her portfolio, Grace has interviewed the Governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello — no big deal or anything. Now Grace will rep UF at Hearst’s national awards in June!

More on this award

40 Under 40

Know an awesome alumnus who’s doing great things? Nominate them for the annual 40 Under 40! Submissions are due by the 21st of January, and the banquet will be held in April — few things better than campus in springtime amirite?!

More on 40 Under 40

Sports Corner

Six Bits

    1. In indoor track, our men’s team will open the season at No. 2, and women will begin the year at No. 6!
    2. In other preseason rankings, the women’s tennis squad sits at No. 11!
    3. Mike Bianchi is hit or (more often) miss, but his piece juxtaposing Dan Mullen and Willie Taggart is fun, especially considering the flip these two programs have done.
    4. USA Softball might need to change it’s colors from Red, White, and Blue to Orange and Blue. Four Gators — Kelsey Stewart, Michelle Moultrie, Aubree Munro, and Kirsti Merritt — were named to the team, by far the most of any school!
    5. Former women’s basketball player Marshae Dotson has been named to the SEC Women’s Basketball Legends Class of 2019! In program history, Marshae sits at No. 6 in free throws made (333), No. 9 in field goals (598), No. 10 in rebounds (854), and No. 11 in total points (1,529). Factor in that she didn’t miss a single game over four years, and that legend status is more than deserved!
    6. Gator Great Kerwin Bell has been hired by USF to be the Bulls offensive coordinator! Hopefully Charlie Strong just gets out of his way and lets Kerwin showcase his magic.


UFact of the Week

Since we’re still riding a football high, here’s one from the gridiron:

The Gators made their first appearance in the Associated Press poll on Oct. 23, 1950, two days after upsetting undefeated and No. 13-ranked Vanderbilt on the road.

That’s right, our program essentially launched to relevancy after beating Vanderbilt. The 50s, man, what a simpler time!

See y’all next week!

Go Gators!