Behind Cracking Aces

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Dr. Tracy Halcomb’s office is neatly cluttered, to summarize it promptly. Tiny statues of Dachshunds and matching pictures are strewn across her desk. Awards and trophies are stacked on bookshelves and cabinets. Photographs of family and movie credits dot the walls.
Halcomb is a communication professor at Flagler College. She has taught at the college for 19 years.
“I remember a much smaller Flagler,” she said. “The Flagler today is nearly twice as big as when I started here in 2000. I can give some historical perspective . I’m the old guard owl. I can tell you what worked and what didn’t work in the past. I’d say I’m the department historian.”
She hired Dr. James Pickett in 2004. He is the other veteran of the department.
“We’re friends,” Pickett said. “We’ve been friends for 14 years.”
Halcomb has been a major force in building the Communication Department. When she became department chair in 2003, she helped revise the curriculum to better fit the needs of students.
“As a chair, I was very happy to change the curriculum so that we have majors,” she said. “Before we had a communication major with three concentrations. Now, I’m very happy that we have three distinct communication majors.”
Most Communication Department classes meet at Pollard Hall, a huge improvement over the previous building.
“Before Pollard Hall, the department was in an old building which is half the size of Pollard Hall,” Pickett said. “It was originally the bookstore and before that it was Bailey Insurance. It was a smelly old building and it probably had black mold.
“For a long time Dr. Halcomb pushed to have a Communication building built. Pollard hall has two dedicated communication classrooms for our use, but the rest of the classrooms can and are used by any department,” he said. “So it isn’t quite the building she envisioned but it is better than what we had. In fact, while Pollard was being built, the college acquired and moved us here to 66 Cuna.”
Most Communication Department faculty have their offices at 66 Cuna St., which students fondly refer to as “Cuna,” despite the college radio station sharing the street. Some of the college’s best computers are in the editing suite on the building’s first floor.
Halcomb said:

If you saw the original communication building, it was one classroom, four offices, and the radio station. It was one story and it was no bigger than a house. And so to go from that to Pollard Hall, I’m very happy with that. As soon as I got Pollard Hall built, I stepped down as chair. I got the majors, I got the hall, I’m out, I’m done.

Since leaving the chair position, Dr. Halcomb has focused on her own passions as a lifetime communication professional.
“Cracking Aces is a documentary that I’ve been working on since 2014. It finally has made the film festival circuit starting in 2018 and ending here in the January film festival,” Halcomb said.
Cracking Aces is a source of pride for the school.
“We interviewed 47 female professional poker players over three years, and then edited for a year,” Halcomb said.
Halcomb worked with former Flagler professor Dr. H. James Gilmore.
“I scheduled flights, I scheduled interviews, I made appointments,” Halcomb said. “Gilmore did probably 95 percent of the editing.”
Since the completion of her documentary, Halcomb has returned to Flagler, teaching and sharing her experiences from Cracking Aces.
“When I’m talking about music copyright in media law class, I’ll talk about our music copyright and all those royalty issues that we had to deal with,” Halcomb said. “I’ll talk about clearance in our video production class, where we had to get signed clearance from everyone we interviewed and so it’s applicable to every class I teach. It’s good for me to tell them ‘I just did this a year ago, I know how this is going to be.’”
Halcomb is most known among the student body as the professor who teaches the dreaded class on media law. She said:

Media Law has a reputation. I teach a 400-level class and expect 400-level work. I do expect hard work, but hopefully they leave my class thinking media law isn’t so bad.

Pushing students to do their best work isn’t a bad thing, she said.
“I would like to be remembered well at Flagler. I would like people to think I had a positive influence on crafting, growing and creating the communication department here at Flagler. That’s my legacy. That would make me very happy.”
Story by Stephen Cripps. Posted by Tracey Eaton.

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