Powderpuff Week

During Powderpuff week, I discovered my intense love for football. Before this adventure, I was fairly familiar with the game. I watched football on Sundays and knew NFL teams. I was always missing something, an inner fire and passion for the sport. I am now pumped for football, and each day I journaled a few reasons why.

Nov. 18: I checked out the juniors’ competition. It looks as though we will have the victory. Our coaches are focused and organized. Well, most of them. They divided us into groups: who could catch, throw, or block. I chose to play the line. I quickly realized that I have a lot to learn. (What is a noseguard?) As soon as I arrived home, I searched out my brother to request a private lesson on everything I need to know about offensive and defensive lines.

Nov. 19: I have been wondering if there is a professional Powderpuff team somewhere. That would be the most fun career in the world.

Nov. 20: Today was a break through day. Firstly, I learned the linemen’s positions. Also, I discovered that defensive tackle is my favorite position. However, I can’t run, and it’s super weird to block, so I’ll have to work on those. One of my favorite aspects of this week is that I can apologize for looking so rough because “I just got out of football practice.” I love using that excuse.

Nov. 21: On this rainy day, I learned that I love defensive end as well as tackle. Also, we got our shirts today! They literally glow; this we discovered when darkness set in at the end of practice. Once I arrived home, my brother taught me all kinds of fancy moves and the correct lineman stance, so we’ll see if those work. Tonight I was thinking about how many friends I have made since beginning Powderpuff. I really, really love my teammates.

Nov. 22: This morning I woke up and discovered I have several bruises on my arm. I felt so proud. My mom even took a picture and texted my dad with the caption, “battle scars.” I know we’re ridiculous, but my brother always comes home from football practice with almost completely purple arms, so I have to gain some respect while I can.

There weren’t many girls at practice today, so I played center. I had never snapped the ball in my life. The first snap was okay. One of the coaches told another that, “All the girls snap better than you.” The guys wanted to play quarterback or another position that they didn’t play in regular season. Another thing, practice was arctic cold, preparing us for game time.

Nov. 23 and 24: The juniors had practice both Saturday and Sunday, but I was out of town, so I missed both. I did, however, come back in time for part of our team dinner at the Dees’ house. I missed the meal, but it was still entertaining to watch football with my team. We also watched the Longest Yard to get hype for Monday night.

Nov. 25, Game day: The juniors were prepared to play in the freezing snow. We painted up for war. Then Coach Brannon informed us that the game would be rescheduled because of weather. I was so upset. Who do they think we are, a bunch of girls?

Dec. 4, Game day round two: Juniors won 12-6, but seniors should be proud of their outstanding performance. Both teams showed the coaches and spectators that girls are strong. They are athletic and competitive. Girls can play football, and they can get fired up about it.

I have to add in this side note: Bailey was a perfect leader. She showed true sportsmanship and was the toughest woman on the field. Also, our victory would have been impossible without the dedication of head coach Jack Dees and all assistant coaches. Thank you!

This week I’ve learned that football is more than what is on the television screen. It’s hard, brutal and takes serious skills. It’s not a bunch of guys running into each other. This sport requires brainpower, as well. While most fans focus on the quarterback or wide receiver, the linemen deserve respect. Without those stone walls, the quarterback would be squashed like a bug.

Incoming juniors, be prepared. The 2014-2015 seniors will be ready for a repeat win.

 

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Success Outside of the Sports World

Sports can define a person. They provide common ground and conversation starters between strangers and mold athletes’ lifestyles and passions. Competitors live for the game and spend hundreds of hours preparing for their time under the bright lights. I love watching the overcoming of impossible odds, incredible determination of athletes, passionate teamwork and unparalleled competitive drive, but let’s have a reality check. According to Tony Manfred in his column “Here are the Odds that Your Kid Becomes a Professional Athlete,” the chances of accomplishing one’s dream of going pro are very rare.

•Baseball
High school 471, 025
College 31, 264
Draftees 806
Percent of college athletes who play professionally: 11.6%
High school players: 0.6%
•Football
High school 1, 108, 441
College 67, 887 Draftees 255
Percent of college athletes who play professionally: 1.7%
High school players: 0.08%
•Men’s ice hockey
High school 36, 912
College 3, 944
Draftees 11
Percent of college athletes who play professionally: 1.3%
High school players: 0.1%
•Men’s basketball
High school 545, 844
College 17, 500
Draftees 48
Percent of college athletes who play professionally: 1.2%
High school players: 0.03%
•Men’s soccer
High school 398, 351
College 22, 573
Draftees 49
Percent of college athletes who play professionally: 1%
High school players: 0.04%
•Woman’s basketball
High school 438, 933
College 15, 708
Draftees 32
Percent of college athletes who play professionally: 0.9%
High school players: 0.03%

Sports should never become the primary purpose of one’s existence; instead, they should only be one facet of an individual. An athlete should work with all their strength, practice each day and always strive to win games. These are necessities in order to be a beneficial part of an organization. However, a person is defined by more than what he or she accomplishes in a competition. Becoming a professional athlete should not be the only plan for one’s future. Every student–athlete must also have a winning mindset in the classroom, so that he or she is prepared for life after sports. Athletics grant access to exceptional education opportunities through scholarships. Athletes should dedicate time to earning a diploma as well as sports honors. If an athlete spends as much time studying his chemistry textbook as he does the playbook, he sets himself up for more than touchdowns. He prepares himself for a career. Even after the lights turn off and an athlete’s lifelong goal is unattainable, sports can be viewed as an incredible part of one’s past and a hobby for the future. Undrafted players are not failures. They are not athletes who didn’t make it; they are competitors who should be praised for putting their entire determination and passion into a game that they love. They should be recognized as those who succeeded in completing many amazing feats. Athletes should always use the lessons and morals learned on the field or court in real life to move ahead. They should be never satisfied with less than 110%, never settle for average and never quit.

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Work Hard; Keep Your Head Down

Issue 1- September 6, 2013

Sweat is dripping from your forehead onto the cold, hard floor as you strain to finish one last sprint. You’ve been here for hours, always striving to become better than the man beside you. No one sees today’s exhaustion. Instead, they see yesterday’s headline; the one that says you’re on steroids and party too much.

The Texas A&M Aggies have forgotten the success of last season. Right now they’re booing their stud quarterback, Johnny Manziel, the one who gave the University of Alabama their only loss. The achievement- Heisman Trophy as a freshman- doesn’t seem to matter anymore, not after party mishaps and autograph allegations.

Yankees’ third baseman Alex Rodriguez has recently run into some similar trouble. He was making $28 million in 2013 alone. Now he is facing a 211-game suspension after the discovery of human growth hormones. Sure, he’s making headlines, but they aren’t about how many home runs he hit. They’re saying he’s a cheater.

It doesn’t matter if an athlete is a better quarterback than Joe Montana or hits more home runs than Babe Ruth, he or she will be judged by their character and what they do on Friday night.

Fans’ favorite athletes are those who fly under the radar, the ones that focus on the game instead of the headlines. Sometimes, the most hated players are fantastic on the field, but their stories are in People Magazine instead of ESPN, and sportscasters don’t like that.

There is a problem when your name off the field overshadows  your work on the field. If you open the door for off-field criticism, you set yourself up for on-field scrutiny.

In order to prevent that scrutiny: don’t make decisions that would ruin your career, don’t sacrifice your reputation for one night of fun, keep your head down, don’t seek out the spotlight and, “Johnny Football,” don’t post pictures of you partying; rumors may spread. All of these decisions can lead to the downfall of your sports career.

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More Hero than Human

Athletes are imitated every day. On game day, millions of eyes watch to see what their hero will accomplish. The day after, those same eyes see how that hero’s alter-ego lives his everyday life, without the cape.

Sometimes the news headlines aren’t as pristine as the home run or touchdown, because no one is perfect, but everyone stands for something. Professionals are given a platform with which to influence and impact lives. Each individual has a chance to be more hero than human.

Many competitors openly share their Christian beliefs through interviews, social media and even their actions on the field: Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson and Drew Brees in the NFL, Jeremy Lin in the NBA, Albert Pujols in MLB.

Los Angeles Angels’s outfielder Josh Hamilton understands that the world is waiting for him to fail, but he is prepared to beat the odds. His life has been changed, and even through relapses and struggles, his faith and God’s faithfulness remains.

“I have been given a platform to tell my story. I pray every night I am a good messenger,” Hamilton said.

There are so many Christians in sports that don’t receive a spotlight, but if their goal is glorifying God, they will fulfill that mission even when they aren’t patted on the back.

Houston Texans’s defensive end J.J Watt seems to remain humble even through his tremendous success in his career. He is constantly finding ways to brighten days and change lives through the JJ Watt Foundation, which raised $194,000 in 2012 alone.

On the flip side, New England Patriots’s tight end Rob Gronkowski has made his stand quite clear- he likes to have fun. Forget the consequences; the organization has dismissed every bad choice in the past. He has the opportunity to live however he wants, because he is the best in the nation. “Nothing” and “no one” can stop him.

Athletes are the real-life storybook heroes. They are the living, breathing supermen. Contenders have the opportunity to be champions both on and off the field. Competitors have a great responsibility- on whatever level: from t-ball to MLB. How will they use their platform? How will you use yours? Because whether or not a player speaks about what he stands for, it is evident. Just watch how he lives.

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Los Angeles Angels’ outfielder Josh Hamilton poses for ESPN magazine, showing his tattoo that reads,

Priorities:
1. God
2. Humility
3. Family
4. Sobriety
5. Baseball*

*Impossible without nos. 1-4

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Why Tebow Deserves to be in the NFL

Issue 9- March 11, 2013

Tim Tebow- the most loved or hated figure in sports; there is no in between. The NFL’s most famous benchwarmer does not deserve to be on the sidelines. Attention haters, this article will make you question what you believe about number 15.

He was born a fighter. The doctors said that he wouldn’t live, that his mom wouldn’t survive, but God had a greater plan.

At Tebow’s birth, the doctor told Mr. Robert Tebow, “Your child is a miracle baby. I can’t explain how it happened, but despite all odds, he beat them.”

While a sophomore playing for Nease High School, Tebow ran a long touchdown with a completely broken fibula. His senior year, they said his team couldn’t beat Armwood High School, but Tebow led Nease to an improbable state championship title. He was named to the First Team All-State twice, declared 2005 Mr. Florida Football and set career marks in Florida for total offense, passing yards, touchdown passes and total touchdowns. These facts cannot be overlooked. Florida is a football state, and setting records is no easy feat.

He won two national championships at the University of Florida, a college facing SEC defenses and challenging some of the toughest teams in the NCAA. He was awarded the Heisman Trophy in 2007- the first sophomore to earn this honor- and was nominated again both his junior and senior years. The same year, he won the Davey O’Brien award- given to the best quarterback in the nation. In the 2007 season, Tebow fractured his right hand in the third quarter of a game versus the Florida State Seminoles, but finished the remaining quarters and crushed his competition. By graduation, Tebow had created a legacy in college football. His teammates  respected their leader and selected him as MVP of the Florida Gators in 2007, 2008 and 2009- the only player to be chosen three times. He held five NCAA, 12 SEC and 28 University of Florida records. He became the SEC’s all-time leader in career passing efficiency (170.8), completion percentage (67.1%), passing touchdown to interception ratio (5.5 to 1), rushing yards by a quarterback (2947), rushing touchdowns for any position (57) and total touchdowns (145). Any player who holds the highest completion percentage and passing efficiency in the SEC cannot be lacking adequate passing acumen.

His perseverance isn’t limited to the football field, as he learns despite dyslexia; it’s not holding him back, ever. He earned the Campbell Trophy in 2009- awarded to the top scholar-athlete in the nation- and graduated with a 3.66 GPA.

Tebow displayed his athleticism in the 2010 combine by tying for the highest vertical jump for a quarterback (38.5 inches) and running a 4.72 second 40-yard dash.

They said Tebow would be a second or third round draft pick, tops. He went to the Denver Broncos in the first round, and this was just the beginning of a whirlwind of victories in his professional career.

They said he would fail. Tebow won six of the first seven games he started in 2011. He battled to the playoffs his rookie year and upset the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime- while the Steelers were the first-ranked defense in the league.

John Elway never supported Tebow. His half-hearted nods of approval showed his distaste. So when headlines screamed the news of Peyton Manning’s free-agencies, Elway jumped at the chance to ship off his quarterback, and no matter what Elway argues, Tebow had no choice in the matter. For the record, playoff victories with the Broncos: Tebow- one, Manning- zero.

In 2011, during the last seven minutes of games, his QBR was the highest in the league. Higher than the “history-making perfection” that is Tom Brady. Ridiculously higher than butt-fumble Mark Sanchez, who continually threw interceptions while Tebow watched on the sidelines.

Rex Ryan treated Tebow with no class. He watched his team fall apart, while the answer was seated on the bench or lined up for special teams. The way the New York Jets treated Tebow is a joke, and their train-wreck of a season couldn’t have been more humiliating.

Tebow is not a better quarterback than Manning or Brady, no one would argue that he is. His throws may not have pinpoint accuracy, but they get the job done. His competitive drive is unparalleled. Critics ridicule how he won games, but he still won them. They can talk about his throwing mechanics for days, but the fact still remains: he has been successful in the National Football League. No matter how much they argue that he doesn’t deserve to be there, he has earned a spot on an NFL roster for as long as he decides to compete. He has proven he knows how to win. He has proven he has the skills to lead a team to the playoffs. How many analysts look to Brady’s rookie year to determine his future? With adequate playing time, Tebow will only improve, and he will work as hard as is humanly possible to become the best quarterback he can be, in whatever offense he is calling.

“I appreciate the compliments. As to everything else, I just use it all for motivation,” Tebow said.

They say he isn’t worth the gamble. But Tebow’s résumé speaks for itself. He’s consistently proven to be exceptional at beating the odds.

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Stan the Man: Forever Living in History

Issue 8- February 8, 2013

On Jan. 19, the sports world said goodbye to a legend. “Stan the Man” Musial was one of the greatest players in baseball history. Born in their great–grandparents time, most students have no idea who this man was. Here is his standout career in a nutshell.

The left–handed outfielder and first baseman sported the number six jersey for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1941–1963. During his 22–year career, Musial won three World Series as well as three MVP awards. When he retired, he held the National League record for hits (3,630) and was second in home runs (475). He batted .331 and earned 17 major league records. He played in 24 All-Star games (baseball held two All-Star games for several summers) and was a record setter in nine of those games.

Musial was a great athlete. He will forever live in the history books. But he was an even greater man. Teammates respected him for the person he was on —and off— the field. Of his 3,026 regular-season games, Musial was ejected zero times. He stood up for the African American players in a time of tense integration and discrimination. He was married for almost 72 years until his wife, Lillian, passed away last year.

“It seems that all Stan had going for him was more than two decades of sustained excellence as a ballplayer and more than nine decades as a thoroughly decent human being,” sportscaster Bob Costas said. “Where is the single person to truthfully say a bad word about him?”

Musial hung up his jersey in September of 1963. Corky Withrow replaced Musial as left–fielder in the fifth inning of his last game at Wrigley Field.

“Stan Musial was the class of all baseball players,” Withrow said. “He was a personal fellow that signed autographs for kids and always had time for his fans.”

A former Cardinals first baseman himself, Albert Pujols personally felt the loss of Musial and tweeted his respect.

“I will cherish my friendship with Stan for as long as I live. Rest in Peace,” Pujols said.

To all who watched the slugger play, he was an MVP. But even more than that, he was a friend. He was the man every boy wanted to become. He was the husband for which every girl was looking. He was the player every athlete aspired to be. He was the hero every human being could admire. He will be truly missed. His legend must continue.

History-maker Stan Musial (left) stands beside fellow Cardinal slugger Corky Withrow (right). Photo courtesy of Withrow.

History-maker Stan Musial (left) stands beside fellow Cardinal slugger Corky Withrow (right).
Photo courtesy of Withrow.
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Free Agency Changes Everything

Issue 7- January 18, 2012

Free agency completely changed the face of baseball. Do athletes simply play for money, or is it for the love of the game? Is it because they’re passionate about competing, or for the check they receive afterward? Even underrated Major Leaguers of today make millions more than top–notch players of the last century.

Mickey Mantle was a sensational athlete during the 1950’s and 60’s. As a first basemen and center fielder for the New York Yankees, he was awarded the Golden Glove award and Triple Crown. He has more records than many players could dream and 536 career home runs. At the height of his career, Mantle was paid only $100,000. Just a comparison: Alex Rodriguez is a third basemen for the New York Yankees who missed many starts in the 2012 postseason, and he will make $28 million in 2013.

At the beginning of the 1900’s, the average salary of a baseball player was around $5,000, equivalent to almost $200,000 in modern times. Today the average salary is $3 million.

What led to this dramatic change in Major League Baseball (MLB) salaries? Do modern baseball players deserve to make millions and millions more than players of previous decades?

Because of the Seitz decision in 1975, pitchers Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally were the first free agents of MLB. Simply put, after playing for a team one year without a contract, players could sign with any team they chose.  McNally retired after the 1975 season, therefore never enforcing his free agency. Messersmith signed a  $1 million contract with the Atlanta Braves, and as a result, began a new era of baseball. The policy has changed slightly, and these days a player is eligible for free agency after competing in the Major Leagues for six years as long as he is not under contract for the next season.

MLB players constantly demand more money. Organizations would pay talented players as much as they desire. Is this the right way to go? Owners are taking serious gambles by signing contracts worth so many millions of dollars. Who knows if the player is a stud or a dud? What if the player simply had a fantastic season, but this proves to not be the norm once they transfer teams? If you spend $28 million on one player, you better be sure he can be the game changer you need, or you could have the highest paid benchwarmer in the league on your hands.

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