Why Sports?

Why sports?

I’m fresh out of college, taking my first feeble steps of adult life, reeling from the joint discovery of the two mainstays of adulthood: Bills and taxes. Like most young adults at my stage of life, I am consistently asked “What do you want to?” Typically, I respond with something like “I want to work in athletics.” But “Athletics” isn’t as much the what as it is the how. The true answer to the aforementioned inquiry is a bit deep and intimidating for casual conversation.

What do I want to do?

I want to make an impact.

How do I plan to do that?

Sports.

But that brings up another question: Why sports?

Why do I think sports is the avenue through which I can make an impact on the world?

 

divine
Deaubrey Devine- My favorite player as a baby (or so I’m told)

 

I have lived the impact of sports for 23 years. As a coach’s kid, I experienced firsthand the impact that athletic participation can have upon the lives of kids and communities. When I was little, I hopped in the back of my dad’s 1987 Jeep Wrangler as he left for that day’s workout, practice, or game. First stop: Zellwood, where there was only one street in and out. Pooh, Tom Tom, or whoever else was on the team at the time would hop in, and on we would go. Next stop: Plymouth, home of Warren Sapp. It seemed like there would always be a Gallon brother jumping in the back of the Jeep there. Lastly, we would swing through South Apopka, crossing over the train tracks to turn onto one of the numbered streets, usually either 13th or 15th. With more than a full carload, we would then head for the school, and the grueling work would begin.

The symbolism is evident. My dad was literally picking kids out of low-income communities so that they could be a part of the team. And I was right there, unknowingly absorbing and observing. By the time I was in high school, I had ingrained in me the pivotal realization that sports could change the situation for young men, for families, and communities.

 

levi
Levi Duncan… Or “Bevi” according to Zack

 

 

Sometimes, when talking about playing sports, we overemphasize the tangible benefits, and I am not just talking about making it to the league. We are quick to praise sport participation because it leads to scholarships and increased educational opportunities. But the stark reality is that the vast majority of young men and women that participate in youth sports never see the tangible benefits. While we need to celebrate those that get scholarships, we also need to remember that most don’t. Most athletic careers end before the collegiate level.

But here’s the thing: It’s still worth it!

Playing sports is an invaluable experience because of all the intangible rewards attached. Sports teach life lessons. On courts and fields across the nation, young men and women learn to struggle in an arena where the consequences are imaginary. They learn to fail, yes fail, and then they learn how to overcome failure and strive for success. They learn to exhibit qualities like integrity, toughness, and perseverance, along with so many others. They learn how to work as a team and how to rely on other people. Games and practices act as a dress rehearsal for life, where they are constantly faced with a variety of challenges, and are forced to adapt and overcome them. Through sports, they learn these things, and so much more, as they develop from boys and girls into young men and women.

Sports spur our youth to achieve in the classroom as well, which is the lasting solution for changing socioeconomic circumstance. We have evidence of this right here in the state of Oklahoma. In the 2014-2015 academic year, 1700 OKCPS seniors were studied. Of those 1700 youth, 99% of athletes graduated, compared to 77% of non-athletes. Performance-wise, athletes sported a 2.82 GPA, compared to a 2.11. An additional statistic shows that athletes are 33% more likely to graduate from high school. The point is, athletics motivate students to achieve in the classroom. Many athletes stay on top of their grades just so they can play sports, without realizing that it is the schoolwork, not the athletics, that is much more likely to change the circumstances of their lives and the lives of their families.

For those reasons, it is of utmost importance that kids of all ages participate in sports. BUT, it’s not quite that simple. In order to participate, kids need tremendous support from the community. Kids don’t just walk onto the field and play. It’s kinda like the saying “It takes a village.” Parents that encourage kids to participate and give them the resources to do so. Coaches that are willing to invest time and energy into developing young men and women without much compensation. Youth leagues and organizations provide the infrastructure for sports to take place. Community members and charitable organizations team up to provide equipment for those in need, and to create and upkeep facilities needed for sport participation.

Do your part to support sport participation, and encourage others to do the same.

  • Encourage kids to be active and to play a sport
  • Volunteer as a coach, referee, or organizer
  • Donate sporting equipment for those that can’t go buy their own
  • Help create and support the facilities needed for kids to be able to play

Right here in Oklahoma, there are several organizations that are striving to make a difference every single day. Cleats For Kids collects sporting goods for OKC youth that need it, and over the past 5 years they have given out over 35,000 sporting goods items to those in needs. Working with the same mission, but from a different angle, is Fields & Futures. Fields & Futures works to renovate, create, or restore athletic fields at OKCPS middle and high schools. Both of these organizations are centered on creating opportunities through sport and improving the lives of the people of Oklahoma. If you are looking for a starting point to help provide these opportunities, look no further!

c4kff

Currently, OU SAAC and OSU SAAC are partnering with both of these incredible organizations to make an impact. Through the end of this week, both student organizations are collecting sporting goods on their respective campuses, and at the conclusion of the week, they will jointly present their proceeds to Cleats For Kids at the Fields & Futures opening at Roosevelt Middle School. If you have any questions about how to donate or how to get involved, check the pinned tweet on my Twitter profile or email me!

So back to the question that started all this: Why sports? The answer is quite simple: Sports are a pathway to a better life, whether you make the big time or not. Through sport, I can impact the world around me, and so can you!

 

God Bless

 

TD

Advertisements

TD’s Takeaways- Week 8

gunslingers

Gunslinger’s Duel

I fancy myself as being good with numbers. But, that being said, I haven’t taken a math class since my Senior year of high school, and I am still trying to process the barrage of numbers that rained down upon Jones Stadium Saturday night. 

1708

819

125

76

Those are just a few of the numbers that stand out when attached to various statistical categories. I’ll sum it all up rather succinctly: It was absolutely absurd. The offenses were incredibly impressive, but the defense may have been equally as unimpressive. 

Offense

NCAA Football: Oklahoma at Texas Tech

If nothing else, this game validated an opinion that I have had for much of the season: Joe Mixon is the best player on the football field at any given moment. The guy is absolutely incredible. He proved himself in a big way on Saturday. He showed that he can truly be the feature back rather than a “change of pace”, and that he can handle a heavier workload than 10-15 carries per game. This year, my magic number of combined touches for Joe and Samaje has been 35-40. With Samaje out, the question was how we were going to replace his production, especially in the between-the-tackles run game. Well, The answer to that question was “More Joe.” Mixon got 35 touches on his own last night, and made up for Samaje’s production and then some. The only question yet to be answered by this dude is whether he can be that guy week in and week out against better defenses.

I am definitely biased, but once again I gotta give my boys up front some love. 7 different guys played on Saturday. 0 sacks. 1 hurry. Over the past 3 games, the OL hasn’t given up a sack and Baker has felt pressure very few times. This is so much more important than people realize, because it gives Bake the ability to trust his OL and sit in the pocket. In the first few games, protection was actually pretty good, but Bake was antsy and it was apparent that he was anticipating pressure even when it wasn’t there. That translated to inefficiency on offense. Now, Bake looks very comfortable in the pocket, and that is a direct result of him being able to trust the guys up front to give him time.

Defensively, there isn’t much to say. Designed run wise, Tech was stuffed. The run yards they had were mostly off of scrambles by Mahomes. The pass rush was surprisingly effective for only having 1 sack in 88 drop back attempts. Through a couple of different methods, the Sooner rush men were winning up front, but either A. The ball was out by the time they got through or B. Could not get Mahomes on the ground. The real frustration was in the back end. Sometimes, we actually had tight coverage and Mahomes just threaded the needle. Other times, guys were running wide open down the field. I don’t pretend to be an expert in the secondary, but I did notice that West Virginia severely limited the Tech passing game by being physical with the Tech wideouts at the line of scrimmage and forcing Mahomes to hold the ball longer than he wanted to. I was expecting to see more of that from our squad. Nonetheless, the Sooner defense definitely has some work to do in order to bring home a Big 12 title. Thankfully, these next few games do not feature offensive juggernauts. But after the Sooners take on the Cyclones next Thursday, the defense will resume the task of trying to stifle potent offensive attacks.

A weekend in Logan, Utah

fingaz

I myself was not in Lubbock on Saturday. Rather, I was in Logan, Utah, to watch former roommate/teammate Joe Palange and the Utah State Aggies take on the Fresno State Bulldogs. I greatly enjoyed the atmosphere and feel of Merlin Olsen Stadium, and walked away very much impressed by the facilities of the Aggie program. 

As for the game itself, Utah State never trailed, and controlled the game throughout, coasting to a 38-20 victory. The following day, Fresno State fired their head coach after a disastrous start to the year. As the clock wound down, I relished watching my buddy Fingaz get sent in to help pound the ball down the field running power and split zone. 

Aside from the game, I want to point out that the state of Utah was absolutely gorgeous! I greatly enjoyed the trip, and hope to perhaps return there for vacation one day.

Oh my Bama

 

trev-bama
Sorry Trev 😦

In case we haven’t all figured it out yet, Alabama is really, really good. They soundly beat the Aggies on Saturday, and they look as close to unbeatable as any team I’ve ever watched. BUT!! Don’t write in any W’s yet! All it takes is one game of unpreparedness, and the Tide could fall! With LSU and a resurgent Auburn looming, Bama cannot be crowned just yet.

Take Me Home Country Roads

 west-v-tcu

West Virginia is for real. Two weeks in a row, the Mountaineers have absolutely shut down two of the most lethal offensive machines in the nation. The offense is improving, and the defense is somehow stellar despite losing a ton of very good players from last year. It doesn’t make sense, but it’s true: West Virginia is good y’all. I expect them to beat Okie St this week, and then home contests against the Sooners and the Baylor Bears will begin to loom large. 

Big Ten Defense

wisc-iowa

As maligned as Big 12 defenses have been this year, I have looked elsewhere to watch solid defensive play, and I have found it in the Big Ten. Wisconsin and Iowa slugged it out for 4 quarters playing tough, physical football. Wisconsin has stifled nearly every team they’ve played on offense, and they’ve done it without maybe a single household name. Can you name any Wisconsin defensive players? I can only name two: Vince Biegel and TJ Watt. I played against Biegel in the Army All American game, and hung out with him all week. I think Watt might have a brother or uncle or something that is pretty good at football. Otherwise, Wisconsin is dominating with no names and I love it!

The key point is that playing good defense always gives you a chance to win. Case in point: Penn State vs Ohio State. Everyone knows the Nittany Lions had no business being on the field with the Buckeyes. It should’ve been a blowout. But Penn State played defense, and that gave them a chance for something wacky to happen at the end, and they won the game. They hung around and their defense kept them within striking defense, then a special teams play but them over the top. It’s not flashy football, but it’s awesome!

 

As always, it was an entertaining fall Saturday across America! As we head down the home stretch, I can’t wait to see which teams prove their worth, and which fold under pressure!

 

Boomer!

 

Ty

Queso Top 10

queso

On this past week’s edition of The Huddle, I expressed my love for queso and vigorously expressed my preference for queso over guac. I proclaimed that I can rank my top 10 Norman-area quesos, and since then I have been asked to back-up that claim. So, after consulting with fellow queso aficionados Connor Knight and Maddie Manning, here is my comprehensive list.

1. Saltgrass Steakhouse

This may strike some as strange, but its an undiscovered gem in the queso universe. The queso blanco and pico are a solid combo, but the shredded brisket is what makes the difference.

2. Charleston’s

Some might prefer the spinach dip, but Charleston’s queso is legit. Their chips are also typically hot and fresh. Do yourself a favor and order a side salad as well so you can get a croissant roll.

3. Louie’s

Kinda similar to Charleston’s. Solid all-around.

4. Toby’s

Queso blanco. Lindsey St. construction is preventing me from consuming this regularly and I’m upset.

5. Torchy’s

New kid on the block. The avocado is a game-changer. Look out Norman.

6. Chili’s

I am not above leaving Torchy’s and walking next door to get some Chili’s skillet queso. Benn a huge fan since I was a very young lad.

7. The Mont

Some might say The Mont should be higher up sheerly because of the location and atmosphere. When paired with a Swirl, this queso could be slated a bit higher.

8. The Garage

The drop-off is definitely real right about here. But The Garage is a solid choice.

9. Fuzzy’s

A little runny for my liking, but delicious nonetheless.

10. Cheddar’s

It’s really a toss-up here. Cheddar’s is decent with the sausage in it.

 

A key point is that free queso is not good queso. Any place that gives you free queso when you walk in (Ted’s, Tara’s, etc), is generally not much more than nacho cheese. Take your queso choices seriously people! And let me know the top spots that I’m missing!

 

TD

 

TD’s Takeaways- Week 6

Another thrilling weekend of College Football is in the books! Let’s take a quick look at some of the highlights!

The Hat Goes Back to Norman

bake-flag

The OU flag was firmly planted on the 50, and the Golden Hat made its way back to Norman, but not without a good amount of drama.

On the pregame show, I listed two key things that the Sooners needed to do to win the game: Limit big plays, and win the turnover battle. Well, we really didn’t do either of those things, giving up two TDs over 45 yards and turning the ball over 4 times. That is why the game was as close as it was. If the Sooners would’ve played clean, it would’ve been a blowout.

OU was able to oust the Horns despite making a ton of mistakes and getting some bad breaks. The Sooner defense entered the game down four starters (Dimon, Walker, Evans, Johnson), and by halftime they were down two more (Thomas and Quick). Jordan Wade and Matt Romar also appeared to be hurting throughout the game. At times, there were four guys on the field that DIDN’T EVEN GO TO OU LAST YEAR (Beal, Doucet, Jordan parker, Sylvie), plus a fifth that hasn’t played before (Sunderland). Despite letting up a lot of points, credit has to be given to the coaching staff and to the guys that stepped in and performed pretty well overall considering the circumstances.

Offensively, the Sooners rolled in spite of some early mistakes. Dede Westbrook has emerged as the go-to wideout, and Samaje was a workhorse. I’m a bit biased, but the offensive line deserves some credit. They paved the way for nearly 300 yards rushing, and also didn’t even let up a pressure, much less a sack. This group is improving rapidly, and will be even better once they get Jon Alvarez healthy.

What is remarkable about the Sooners’ offensive dominance is that it happened without impressive performances from probably their two most consistent weapons through the first four games: Mark Andrews and Joe Mixon. Both players made uncharacteristic mistakes, yet the offense was not at all crippled because of it. Look for both guys to bounce back in a big way this week against K-State.

The Sooners are clicking on offense, and the defense is improving, regardless of what the statbook says. The fact that OU was able to beat Texas despite the big plays on defense and the turnovers on offense is an indicator of just how much better the Sooners are than the Horns this year. Going forward, the defense needs to simply get healthy, while the offense must continue to orchestrate a balanced attack and develop more of its undiscovered weapons.

Back to the Palace for an early kickoff vs the Wildcats!

SEC Showdown

am-tennessee

College Gameday ventured down to College Station for the clash between unlikely unbeatens Tennessee and A&M, and what a spectacular game it was! Throughout the year, it has seemed that Tennessee is simply destined to win, despite how poorly they look at times. The Vols fell behind 21-7. They had 7 (SEVEN) turnovers. Jalen Hurd and Jalen Reeves-Maybin didn’t play. And yet, somehow, some way, Josh Dobbs and Co. almost pulled off a wild come-from-behind win…… ALMOST. The Ags survived in large part due to the performance of sensational freshman running back Tray Williams’ 217 yards rushing and Trevor’s 5 total TDs.

One particularly play is worth talking about. Late in the fourth quarter, Tray Williams broke down the sideline for what was almost a 71 yard touchdown run. Just before he crossed the Goal Line, Malik Foreman dove and punched the ball out from behind, forcing a touchback and giving Tennessee a chance to go down and tie the game. Two things stood out to me about this play.

  1. DETAILS MATTER- Williams had the ball in the wrong arm. It’s a tiny detail, but it almost cost A&M the game.
  2. Foreman Learned- Last week, Foreman was the corner that gave up the TD that almost cost UT the game after he let up, thinking that UGA QB Hunter Eason was not able to throw the ball that far. This week, it was quite the opposite. Foreman pursued when many others would have thought his effort was pointless, and his unrelenting effort gave Tennessee a chance to win. I love seeing players learn from their mistakes.

What continues to impress me about A&M is HOW they are winning. The Aggies are winning football games by running the football and playing defense. Going into the year with zero experience at RB, an elite wide receiving core, and a defense that was much maligned the past several years, it would be very understandable for someone to have predicted that for the Ags to be 6-0 it would mean that they were outscoring opponents and slinging the ball all over the yard. Not at all. They are winning with smashmouth football, which is how the SEC is won.

Now, they get a much needed bye week before their date with the devil (Saban/Bama). They need to get superstars like Myles Garrett and Ricky Seals-Jones healthy to have any kind of chance at rolling the Tide. If Bama can take care of business in Knoxville this weekend (which is no easy task), then Gameday will be headed to Tuscaloosa as Trevor Knight attempts to dethrone Nick Saban and the Tide once again.

Miami-Florida St

um-fsu

On Friday night, the remote in my hotel room refused to work. But that was just fine with me, because the TV was stuck on the ESPN 30 for 30 Special The U: Pt 2. Watching the piece, I was reminded of how incredible the UM-FSU rivalry was in the early 2000s. I grew up in Florida watching those games, and for a few years, I would’ve even considered Miami my second favorite team (I know this is sacrilege as an OU fan). I loved Dan Morgan, Sean Taylor, Willis McGahee, and Devin Hester. On the first ever NCAA football game that I owned, I played with the Canes and threw jump balls up to Andre Johnson and Reggie Wayne. When my dad’s team won state in 2001 and team captain Brandon Meriweather signed with UM, I started watching every game. In those days, the caliber of football played in that rivalry game was on the level of the NFL, probably because just about every starter on both teams got drafted and had a successful career in the league.

In recent years, the rivalry has fallen on hard times, with both teams goin through some tough years. The UM-FSU game that used to be circled on everyone’s calendars became just another normal ACC matchup. But then Florida St rebounded and returned to an elite level. Now, under Mark Richt, it appears that the Canes may be able to duplicate the Noles’ resurgence. I enjoyed watching a Florida St-Miami game that was intense, physical, and dramatic for the first time in a long time. It even had some signature kicker drama, but this time the joke was on the Canes, as a blocked XP gave the Seminoles a 20-19 win. For the good of college football, I hope that these teams reignite this rivalry in the coming years, and that Miami in particular rises to prominence once again.

 

As always,

Boomer Sooner!

TD

The Red River Rivalry

golden-hat

It’s so much more than just another football game. It’s a rite of passage. A tradition. An experience like no other.

It’s The Fair, Big Tex, Fletcher’s Corndogs, and the Golden Hat.

It’s coming down that tunnel and bursting into a horseshoe of the Sooner faithful, only to cross the 50 and hear the cheers turn to jeers as the crimson morphs into a horrid orangish-brown color.

The best moments in life overwhelm all the senses, leaving an indelible impression on the human brain that becomes an iconic memory to be replayed in the mind for years to come. The Red River Rivalry is one of those moments, indescribably rich not only in sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and textures, but also in heartfelt emotions, both in the participants and in the fans.

Once a year, on the second Saturday in October, two of the most iconic football programs in all the land clash, creating an experience that can never be duplicated. An experience that can only be described as the most unique rivalry In the United States of America.

Start ’em Young

I’ve made no qualms about it: I was brainwashed. As many know by know, my mom was a Sooner and her entire family is made up of Sooners, so I didn’t have much of a choice, even in Florida.

And like any good Sooner mother, my mom taught me to hate Texas.

As not much more than a toddler, I learned how to say three things: Jesus Loves Me, Boomer Sooner, and Texas Sucks.

I’m not sure that I learned them in that order.

demarco

So for me, I get it. This rivalry is special. Despite the distance, I grew up learning to hate Texas. As a kid, I woke up and donned my Rocky Calmus jersey and got ready to watch the game. As I grew (and as I realized I wasn’t going to be a linebacker), that Rocky Calmus jersey became a Tommie Harris jersey. I  was glued to the TV when Roy went airborne. I threw a tantrum when Shipley took that kick to the house. The first and only OU game I ever attended (before my recruitment) was the 2007 OU/Texas game. We had a new quarterback that everyone was talking about named Sam Bradford. Demarco  leapt over Joe Jon Finley and took one to the house. From birth, I wanted to be a Sooner. But from that 2007 game on, I wanted to play in THIS game. Five years later, I got my chance.

My Time with the Golden Hat

Beating Texas is a part of the responsibility that OU players have. It’s understood. It’s part of the job description, and it’s not negotiable. You have to beat Texas not just to cement your own legacy, but out of a sense of accountability to all those that came before you.

It’s not just for Rocky, Tommie, Roy, Sam, AD, Demarco, and the other stars of the Stoops era.

It’s the Boz, Keith Jackson, the Selmons, and Silver Shoes.

It’s Steve Owens, Clendon Thomas, and Billy Vessels.

But it’s not just for the names that you know, the names that line the walls of the museum and are emblazoned on pillars and plaques around the stadium. You have to beat Texas for all the guys names that you’ve never heard and never will hear. It’s a part of a bond that spans generations, transcending position, playing time, and accolades. Once a year, it’s all of us against all of them: Past, present, and future.

An acute sense of responsibility and legacy is what made last year’s debacle so incredibly painful. As a captain (particularly as the leader of the OL), I felt that I had failed personally. I did not have my team and my position group ready to play, and I myself did not set the example that I needed to. I had one job to do, and considering the quality of that particular Longhorn squad (compared to some of their impressive teams of past), my job wasn’t even that much to ask. Not entering the Cotton Bowl in THAT game with the utmost intensity and focus is unpardonable, but it happened under my watch. It was because of that miserable feeling, that unrelenting nausea over the next 48 hours, that the 2015 Sooners became Big 12 champions and CFP participants (the word participants disgusts me ugh). The Texas loss was burned so deep into our collective psyche that we called on it for motivation and aggression each game going forward. Understand that the same effect would not have happened if we had lost to Baylor, TCU, or Oklahoma St in the same embarrassing fashion. It was because it was Texas.

So it would seem that the Longhorn’s may have unintentionally aided our success, that maybe losing to Texas was actually a good thing. Let me shoot that down right here and there. No. Losing to Texas is never a good thing.

RBB Texas OU 10
I hope this hurts to look at

Now, I start a new journey alongside you: The fans. Today, I will grab myself a corndog and a beer, along with some other appalling deep fried abominations, and hopefully cheer the Sooners on to victory. I will cherish it all. The fair. The food. The atmosphere. But most of all, I will cherish the sad, sad looks on their faces when we plant the OU flag right in the middle of the Cotton Bowl logo. Don’t let the corndog adulation fool you, I’d much rather be in the fight.

I owe ’em one.

Boomer Sooner

BEAT TEXAS!!!!

beat-texas