Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Best Block Party Ever

When Coach Rick Pitino took the University of Kentucky Wildcats all the way to a NCAA championship in 1996, I was a senior in high school. I was perched on the couch at home, watching the madness erupt in Lexington, just 30 miles away. I was 17 and still living under Mama Virgo's roof and Mama Virgo's rules. I would not be attending the celebration. I would be watching the news and wishing desperately that I could be a part of the jubilation and all that it usually entails with a collegiate victory...burning couches, turning over cars, drinking vodka from a trash can. These are just 3 (of the hundreds) of the reasons I was not allowed to go.

After a year at the University of Louisville, I transferred to UK in 1997. Pitino had high-tailed it out of Lexington after the '96 victory in search of greener, more profitable pastures. He was down with the dough and even though what Lexington lacked in paychecks, we made up for in fan base, he saw dollars and cents with the Celtics. Tubby Smith had been hired to take over the program and in his first season of coaching Pitino's boys in blue, he found himself again competing for a national championship. But this time, I was a sophomore in college...well outside of a mother's grasp and living on my own on UK's campus.

I don't even remember who all was there in that campus apartment the night of the championship game...a few sorority sisters maybe, some coworkers from the gym, a couple of classmates from the Kinesiology program, a handful of others. And I remember very little from the actual game. What I do remember is meeting up with my high school friends down on Woodland Avenue, the epicenter of the celebration, about an hour later. They had been watching the game in someone's dorm room and traveled across campus as quickly as their feet would carry them after the game-ending buzzer. Somehow, in an age of very limited cell phone access (much less texting) and a crowd of thousands, we found each other.

The Lexington Police Department had learned an important lesson after the 1996 championship win: national titles inspire college students to riot. According to news reports, campus and the surrounding areas were a disaster the morning after the win in '96. Citizens who had the misfortune of parking their cars on the streets surrounding campus awoke to find nothing but a burned-out shell where their vehicles sat the night before. Store windows were smashed and buildings had been tagged with spray paint. Imagine if we had lost....

As my friends and I surfed the crowd and tried to discretely juggle red Solo cups of beer, we noticed that the LPD was not only heavy in numbers, they were also heavy in gear. Full-on riot gear. Kids who decided to scale the cross-walk poles were beaten down with batons.  Body-surfing would get you pepper-sprayed. Exposing your breasts while straddling your best friend's shoulders would get you hand-cuffed. It was excessive, but deemed necessary, I'm sure. Even with the police presence, it was still the best block party I've ever been to. The computer science undergrads mixed with the fashion design majors. Football players danced with girls like me. And we all agreed...UK is #1!!

One of my friends who was with us that night managed to score a poster of an aerial shot taken over Woodland Avenue during the celebration. He located most of us in the photo, which is amazing considering the sheer mass of drunken bodies draped over each other. I've Googled every keyword I can think of to find that poster, but it seems to not be on the Internet. And that makes me a little sad because, after all, if there are no pictures, did it really happen?

On Saturday at 6PM, the University of Kentucky Wildcats, led by Coach Cal, will once again compete for a chance to advance to the championship game. We will go up against Coach Rick Pitino's University of Louisville Cardinals and all of the school/state rivalry and past pent-up feelings about Pitino's hasty exit in 1996 that comes with it. I can't imagine how more could possibly be riding on this game. Advancement to the championship round. Bragging rights around the state of Kentucky. Showing Pitino that UK doesn't need him to go all the way. It's intense. And if we win on Saturday, I expect to log on to the news websites from my couch in middle Georgia and see police in riot gear and college students taking matches to fire-friendly furniture. I expect to see the best block party ever.

Have you been a student at a school when they went all the way? Was it the best party you've ever been to? 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Do you believe in miracles???

I was going to talk about basketball today...but my bracket is totally busted and I don't even want to think about it...never mind talk about it. Instead I'm going to talk about hockey.

Last week, my friend SJ was in a meeting and totally bored. He was texting me to help alleviate that boredom and then suddenly he stopped. I figured the meeting got out early...but when he called me the next day he explained he had another reason for ignoring me.

SJ: Sorry about the abrupt stop to my communications. The guest speaker was Jim Craig...I love that guy.
Me: Jim Craig...should I know who that is?
SJ: Um...yeah...everyone should know who that is.

This is where I Google Jim Craig and found out that he was the goalie for the 1980 USA Olympic Hockey Team.

Me: You know that in 1980 when that game happened I was 4 years old right? And also, that I hate hockey.
SJ: That game transcended was the single greatest sporting event of the 20th century. And don't tell me how old you were then. (SJ is older than me and I like to remind him of that.)

Since this was the single greatest sporting event of the 20th century I figured I should find out a little more about it. So I watched Miracle...the movie about the team starring Kurt Russel as the coach.

You know, sometimes I'll watch a movie about a sporting event that's already happened and it will be so good that I will yell at the TV and sit on the edge of my I have no idea what's about to happen. This was that kind of movie.

For those of you like me that have no clue why the 1980 Olympics was such a big deal I'll tell you. It was during the height of the Cold War and there was all sorts of madness going on. It was widely acknowledged that the Russians had the best hockey team in the world and had won every championship game they played since 1954. The US team was made up of a bunch of college kids who mostly hated each other. Their coach, Herb Brooks, trained them in a whole new way of playing hockey and he conditioned like no one in the US had ever trained hockey players before.

A few days before the opening ceremony of the Olympics, the US team played the Russians at Madison Square Garden and they lost 10 - 3. No one thought they'd be able to beat the Russians at the games in Lake Placid the following week. And they almost didn't. They were losing at the end of the first period.

But then things started to happen...they made some great plays and they scored a few goals. The Russian coach was so flustered that he ended up taking out his goalie...the best goalie to ever play hockey. In the end, the US team beat the Russians by one goal. And it was more than just winning a hockey game. At that place in time...a bunch of college kids beating the better playing Russians in the US at the Olympics and then going on to win the gold was symbolic for the was important.

I still hate hockey...but I have to agree with SJ...this particular game transcended hockey...transcended sports really. It was the single greatest sporting even of the 20th century. And the movie isn't bad either.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

When recreation becomes competitive IN THE STANDS. Say what?

I'd like to take this opportunity to break from all of the NCAA and bracket talk to bring you a big, fat load of craziness.  Yes, you know.  I am going to talk to you about Youth Sports again.

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I wrote about when recreation becomes competitive among youth sports?  Well, I have a really fun follow up to that story.

So, basically in my last post about my son's (The Ace) rec arena soccer, I wrote about how good his team was.  How some of these boys would dance around the opposing team and score goal after goal.  Well, this past Saturday was the last game of the season and the team we were playing was also really good. 

Silly, little, naive, ol' me thought it was a really good game.  All the boys were playing their hearts out and the score was always within one goal.  There was sprinting, there was sweat, there was contact and there were some pretty goals scored on both sides of the ball.

Throughout the first half of the game, I noticed the other side of the stands was really loud with cheering and yelling to the players.  I didn't think much of it, as I just assumed they were a fun bunch of parents on the opposing team.  Probably a bunch of fun drunks.

Second half with roughly 5 minutes left in the game.  We are up by one and the score is 4-3.  The Ace is in on defense when him and another kid collide and hit the ground.  The kid on the orange team angrily hops up and The Ace (on the green team, by the way) is a little slower to get up, which of course catches my attention and my eyes remain glued on my son's every move. 

Let me preface this next part by telling you this has taken place down to the left and in front of the other team's parents.  The parents all sit on the same side and in the same bleachers, they were just on the left side and we were on the right.

So, when The Ace stands back up, the other section is yelling at the kids.  I could hear things like "PLAY HARDER" and "NO MORE DIRTY PLAYING."  I see my son look up at the stands which is odd for him because the guy is usually so dialed in on his game.  He is clearly distracted by these other parents yelling to/at them.

The game is still going and the ball flies at The Ace which stuns and snaps him back into the game.  One of the orange players is now running up to him since this is where the ball is.  The Ace, never one to miss a beat, challenges the player and tries to move forward while keeping the ball away, both of them making contact with one another. 

Great soccer, right?  What happens next is mind boggling.

The boy from team orange loses his shit, puts both hands on The Ace and tries to push him down.  The ref blows the whistle, The Ace looks baffled and shakes the kid off of him.  Ref tells the pushing child that he is out.  The kid runs back to his bench where his coach HIGH FIVES HIM.

Ref sees this and stops the game right then and there.

The parents on our team are beyond confused and quiet.  Well, minus me shrieking, "Oh HELL NO.  That kid is OUTTA there. Trying to push my son down, I DON'T THINK SO!"

The parents on the other side are beside themselves screaming that our team are a bunch of dirty players and this isn't fair and why can't we play fair?

Uh. I saw your kid push my kid but it's my kid's team that's full of dirty players? Ok.  And by the way, what the hell is going on here?

The parents all make their way out of the stands.  Our parents kind of laughing with confusion, befuddled with what's happening, their parents clearly very angry and distressed.

As we walk over to get The Ace, we pass a few people discussing the events leading up to the ref calling the game.  One very heated and rather old man was leading the conversation and at the end this is what I hear....

"....So basically, that referee only calls the foul on 'Bobby' because he finally pushed that snotty little brat from the green team, but nothing is called against him when it was his fault..."

Insert loud SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEECHING halt to my step. I'm pretty sure this old man just called my son a snotty little brat.

Ok, so you can ask anyone who knows me about this expression I throw out on special occasions.  It's basically a small smile with a largely pathetic look on my face that clearly tells you that I think you are sofa king stupid that I need to look at and talk to you as if you were a 2 year old that had no knowledge on anything they were saying.  Like I said, this one is only used on a select few.

In a quiet, knowing voice and my 'I think you have an IQ of 39' expression I say, "No, you're wrong."

This over 6' tall man who had to be mid 60's or more starts charging at me yelling, "Oh no I'm not!!  I was right there and saw how dirty that snotty kid was playing all game AND YOU SHOULD HAVE TAKEN A VIDEO."  (<----What kind of argument is that? Maybe his IQ IS 39?)

Insert my eat shit expression followed with a condescending laugh as I walk away.  See, I put up a good tough front, but I think I actually pissed my pants because a grown man was charging at me over a 10 year old's soccer game. Who knows what would have happened had I not turned my back on him and walked over to get my snotty brat of a child.

Let me harbor a guess.  The kid who lost his crap and pushed my kid was his grandson?  Anger management, folks?  Good grief.    Talk about when recreation turns competitive in the stands. 

My advice to all of you parents with young budding athletes:  Bring your friggin masks and boxing gloves because people are full of the crazy out there.  Shit.

Back to your regularly scheduled NCAA blog posts.

Monday, March 26, 2012

In Mourning...

My love for college basketball took a huge hit on Saturday.  I'm torn between the loss of a season, leaving behind the best league/rivalries, and the partial loss of my love for the game.  If you talk to me about what happened in the games after the Cuse loss, I will be out of the know as I am done for this season. Funny thing is my bracket's still sort of in the running for work, but I didn't watch a game yesterday and not sure I care enough to watch the Final Four (don't worry Ally, I'll still wear my UK Blue and hope they win, especially against Louisville, a bet is a bet and I did choose them as my Champs).  Ok, I'll be honest, as much as it kills me, I'll probably still watch. If only to root against 3 of my least favorite teams in college ball.

Congrats go out to Ohio State, they played the better game. Cuse should have made more shots and committed less turnovers, we're better than that. I know in my head that's what it comes down to.  The logical side of me WANTS to be able to focus solely on what we should have done, but the passionate side of me can't get past how much the refs changed the game.  I won't say it was all on the Cuse side either, Sullinger's 2nd foul in the first half was just dumb.  And 3 Cuse players with 4 fouls and more than 10 minutes to go in the 2nd half?  No one could defend it. The refs were even blowing whistles in anticipation of fouls!  They changed the tempo more than any game I've seen.  Ohio St. definitely took advantage of the whistle-happies more than Cuse did, but no game should come down to that, let alone a season. 

I got worried texts, tweets and emails all weekend, but I'm not violently mad, just extremely disappointed and slightly heartbroken. I say slightly because 3 losses in a season is nothing to be completely heartbroken over.

By the time I heal, Cuse will be preparing for games in the ACC.

Ahhhh...I can''s too much to think about right now.  Thank goodness baseball season is almost here to save me from a breakdown!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

working for it.

My first initial idea for today's post was to discuss Peyton Manning's new position, his ability to give Tim Tebow a new position and lastly discuss Hines Ward's new journey in life. The more I tried to write something the more it occurred to me what can I say that hasn't already been said. So I will simply say this...

Hines announced his retirement from the NFL on Tuesday. It's bitter sweet for me. I'd love to see him continue to play but my heart has a hard time seeing him in any other uniform other than a Steelers jersey. I am happy that he had such a great and long career and that he is officially able to retire as a Steeler. Something he's always wanted. Thank you Hines for all your hard work with the Steelers, you're still my favorite.

Instead of dwelling on all this current NFL hoopla I figured I should share a bit of what I've been doing for myself. I recently started back into working on my fitness, my health and my well being.  Last year I started working out about this time, not knowing that by the end of April I would be engaged. Talk about something to keep you motivated - and it did. I was getting married in October and knew I wanted to look nice on my wedding day. Realistically I knew I wasn't going to be my goal size in that short of time, instead I kept plugging along using a few of the Beach Body* systems I had purchased and borrowed from friends. The two I used were Chalean Extreme and Chalene Johnson's newest program,  Turbo Fire. Chalean Extreme is the program I was most focused on. I sort of call it P90X for women. It's not geared specifically for women, but while it's just as effective as P90X, I don't feel it's as intense. {Note: I've done P90X but due to being so out of shape I don't think I was able to push myself as hard as I should have, and thus didn't get the results I wanted to - that being said I plan to go back to P90X after this round of my current workout routine}.

Before the wedding I started to do Turbo Fire as a last ditch cardio effort to lose as much weight as I could before the big day. The main issue I had was finding time. I carve out the first hour and a half after each work day for my workouts but when you're planning a wedding you often have to have meetings after work, or scratch items off your to do list. About a month before the wedding the working out stopped and while I maintained my weight loss {music to my seamstress' ears}, I still think I could have done more.

On my wedding day I was confident, but still in the back of my mind worried about how I would look. The day was wonderful and I let go of any worries I had. I knew I couldn't spend the whole day trying to stand a certain way so a roll wouldn't show, or that my arms weren't as ripped as I wanted them to be. I was marrying the man of my dreams and my body was not something to worry about at that time he was and I'm glad I gave myself that pep talk and enjoyed my day with him and loved ones to the fullest.

After the wedding we had a honeymoon in Mexico, this was my main issue, looking good and feeling good on my honeymoon. I guess mother nature was looking out for me {or not}, she sent a hurricane our way and I wasn't able to relax or wear a bathing suit until probably the second to last day that we were there. Nice right? Bottom line by the time our honeymoon rolled around I hadn't worked out in a month and a half and wasn't feeling 100% about my body and of course this effected my mind as well. Throwing caution to the wind and having fun I ate what I wanted, and drank what I wanted while on vacation and returned home happy and OK with my choices.

Holidays rolled around, still no working out. All my hard work was being destroyed day by day, month by month. Finally I decided I had enough of this behavior. I was sluggish, worn down, my jeans were getting too tight. The final draw was getting ready to head out on the town one night realizing none of the jeans that used to be too loose were fitting me at all - they were so tight I had to wear a flowy top just to feel like I had my look pulled together {note: I blame this flowing top trend for part of me weight gain - it's way too easy to just keep eating in one of those. Yes I also blame my own willpower too}. After putting on the flowing top and realizing you could still see my muffin top I reached into my closet and pulled out my "heavy pants". I put them on, they fit like a glove. Crisis for the night averted. Crisis for my mind, only just begun. I was back in the jeans I SWORE I would never wear again, you know until maybe right after I had a baby or something...

I've had all the tools at my home since I started my workout mission. Videos, weights, bands, mats, cardio equipment, food guides, and most importantly, good running shoes. There is nothing stopping me from getting off my butt and walking, jogging, popping in a video to move to - nothing but myself. If I kept up with what I was doing from the day I started P90X I bet you I'd be at my goal weight. But I've fallen off the wagon, and now it's time to get back on.

I'm not just doing this for weight loss. Losing the weight is important to me. I know I sound vain in this post, but it's not just about that. Less weight means better health for me, my knees, my back - my entire body. I carry my weight in my midsection which isn't the best place to carry it. I worry about my health, and my future. I want to not just feel good about myself mentally, but I want to physically feel good as well.

I started Turbo Fire last month, and fell off the wagon again. I wanted to start with the Prep-Course this time around since it would give me a workout program that would last me until my vacation in July. I don't have any real plans for my vacation this year possibly just a trip home. I know me, 1 week off means I will have to really get myself back into the swing of things when I get home to start another program or means of working out. I started with the 2nd month of Turbo Fire Prep Course training at the beginning of this month and thankfully it's slowly starting to feel like habit instead of torture. I'm learning the routines and finally finding my way. I've heard that it takes your mind 6 weeks to finally see a task as a habit. Something you can do every day without even thinking twice about it. I hope that is true. I have a routine. I come home, and immediately change into my workout clothing. I grab my huge cup of water, my wrist watch that counts calories and I head to my workout room where my shoes are waiting for me and pop in the days DVD. I try to not give myself time to talk myself out of it. I want to start working out in the morning, but that may have to wait.

I've started eating better and have tried to enlist myself in a 80/20 Clean Eating program. If I deny myself sweets or junk completely I know it's setting me up for failure. If I try to eat clean 80-90% of the time and give myself treats the other 10-20% I think it's a system I can work with. Thankfully my husband eats whatever I eat, and doesn't complain. He often looks forward to our treat meals once a week where I let myself have something indulgent. He's also great about checking with me about his meals he wants to prepare to be sure I will want to/or can eat them. {Trust me I've been living in the South for over 7 years now, it's sometimes hard to resist a fried temptation now and then.}

I tell you all of this not just to have something to write about, but to hold myself accountable. This journey for me isn't about fitting into a certain size, although the old size 10 jeans I can't seem to let go would be amazing to fit into. I will however settle for the size 12's that are right under them in a storage bin. I know it's silly to hold on to stuff that doesn't fit but every once in a while I look in there and I remind myself I was once that size, and it wasn't in my teens, it was in my early twenties {I blame beer, chicken wings and my lack of saying no to these things}.

I don't plan to show you progress photos, I have taken them for myself but eventually I might show you some before and afters {and check on my blog for updates if you're interested and I don't share them here}. I'm trying to do this for the right reasons, and not as a quick fix. I need a lifestyle change and the only way I can do that is if I tell others and hold myself accountable.  I am surrounded by fit minded women in this group, all of which amaze me everyday with their progress. I want to be able to do the same for myself.

So if you made it this far, thank you for listening!

How many of you are struggling with working out/weight/fitness?

What is your plan? What are you doing to work on this?

Do you have any tips for me?

* I am not a Beach Body coach, nor have I been compensated to talk about their programs. I am just an everyday person that has tried them, liked them and has seen results from them.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I hate the phrase, yet, it's so true.

Any team can be beaten on any given day.

Ugh, how I wish those words weren't true. We've seen in a million times, the best team in the league gets slaughtered by a low ranked, not very good team. It happens during the regular seasons, but it's never more apparent when it happens during the playoffs. Of course, you love to see certain teams get taken out by the underdog. I personally love seeing the Patriots get taken down by anyone, so when a low ranked team does it, it's a little sweeter. Of course, when your team gets taken down it's the end of time. Nothing hurts worse than your team being on top and getting reamed by someone who doesn't deserve it. Makes you question everything about what your team does and if they have what it takes to win in the end.

It happens every day. So why are we always surprised? Every time we set our brackets up for March Madness we account for the teams we know are lower seed, but always seem to win. Yes, I'm talking about your Gonzaga. Yet, every year there are upsets. Every year we see our brackets completely fall apart. And we're always shocked. Look at Lehigh and Duke this year. Now Cathy may have been excited (see yesterday's post), but I was sad and just couldn't believe it. I like Coach K and what he has built, so I definitely wasn't expecting it.

Do we just get invested in certain teams and hate to see them lose? Do we expect certain teams to keep moving through? Why are we shocked? Any team can be beaten on any given day, and no team is excluded from it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Opening weekend of March Madness is over. And if your bracket isn't busted you are either really lucky or psychic.

You know what's so great about March Madness though? Almost everyone will root for the underdog, even if it's going to ruin their bracket. Seriously. How great was it to watch Lehigh take out Duke?! I mean, everyone likes to watch Duke lose, but to watch them lose to a 15 seed? PURE JOY.

Chances are you had Duke, Missouri, Florida State, Georgetown, and in my case, Temple going deep into the tourney. Chances are your bracket is done busted. But, so is everyone's in your pool. Now you can cheer for that Cinderella team with wild abandon. Go Ohio Bobcats!

I have 4 brackets going this year. In all of them my Final Four only has 3 teams left. And yes, in one of them I took Duke to the Championship game. That was my "experimental" bracket. I couldn't take Kentucky to the Championship in every bracket, right?

So what do your brackets look like? Anyone have all 4 of their Final Four teams left? Has anyone lost their champion yet? Who watched Donald Driver on DWTS last night? Who's your favorite Cinderella team? Do you cry during One Shining Moment? Why do I have so many questions? Is this thing on?

p.s. Don't talk to Hutch about Manning going to the Broncos.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Other, Other North Carolina Basketball School

As I'm reveling in all the "experts" being wrong about Cuse (for now), Jane-Marie is filling in for the day. A fellow runner (don't let her tell you different) and Carolinan (?) of the Northern variety, she has a very unique perspective on college basketball.  Since Cuse will be a new rival next year, I figured it would be better to have her post now while we're still friends.

College basketball is a pretty big deal in North Carolina.  This year alone, there are 5 North Carolina teams playing in the NCAA tournament.  When my husband moved from Maine to  North Carolina circa 2001, he said he was frequently asked 2 questions.
1-Who is your favorite Nascar Driver?
2-Do you cheer for Duke or Carolina?
I know nothing about Nascar so I can't help you there, but I would like to offer up a 3rd alternative to the Duke/UNC questions?  About 87% ***of the people in my state are either  HUGE UNC fans or HUGE DUKE fans.  I would like to throw out a third option.  The NC STATE WOLFPACK.  I mean I did go there and all.
Disclaimer-I am not the biggest sports fan in the world.  But every year I get pretty excited by the ACC tournament, especially when I get to go.  (It's in my hometown, Greensboro, a lot.  This year it was in Atlanta though.).  I even know the name of the new NC State coach and several of the players on the team (at least 2 of them are named CJ).  And this year I watched and attended a few games before the ACC tournament even started.
So here's my take on why it's better to be an NC State fan and to just stay away from that crazy intense Duke/UNC rivalry.
1-COLORS and FASHION-Red is a better color than any shade of blue.  Sidney Lowe's bright red blazer was way better than that weird plaid thing that Roy Williams wore this past week (ok maybe not but I still stand by red being better than blue).
2-MASCOTS-In the words of my friend, Shannon (a slightly more knowledgeable fan than me and fellow NC State alumna)....."Our mascot is a wolf…. Other mascots around here include a ram (come on, get real) and a blue devil- a BLUE devil? That’s just silly. Wolves are way better".  And there's Tuffy.
3-UNDERDOGS/HISTORY-It's way more awesome when an 11 seed team beats a 6 seed team than when a 1 or 2 seed teams wins.  Plus NC State has one of the best Cinderella Stories ever.  I mean yes, I was 2 when this happened but I've definitely heard about it and seen videos.
4-TOURNAMENTS-It's easier to get ACC tournament tickets for Wolfpack games.  I used to work for a company that would have a lottery every year for ACC tournaments tickets.  Guess who always won the NC State tix?  I did, because everyone else put their name in for Duke or Carolina games.  As far as the NCAA tournament goes, it's always exciting when NC State makes it (no matter what seed they are).
5-BARS AND SOCIALIZING-There was a 3 hour wait at a local sports bar on the night of the most recent UNC/Duke match up (and a lot of yelling).  On the other hand, we had prime seating, no waiting, at our trivia bar on the night of the UNC/NC State game. 
6-THE WOLF FINGER FREE THROW THING-We can make a cool tiny finger version of a wolf with our fingers when NC State is throwing free throws.  I'm pretty sure you cannot make a ram or a devil or really anything else out of your fingers.
Earlier this year my friend's parents gave my husband and me tickets to the UNC/NC State game at UNC.  It was a little tough being one of 20ish people in the Dean Dome wearing an NC State t-shirt (vintage 1999, purchased at the NC State bookstore).   And even though we lost by like 20 points and I was repeatedly taunted by the usher, I had a good time.  Plus we made that really cool full court shot right before half time (that silenced the usher for at least 3 minutes).
In conclusion, I will be watching NC State take on Kansas this week.  Go Pack.  And if the other North Carolina teams (including a couple that are playing right down the road from me) happen to win their games, then good for them too.
Do you like Duke or UNC or NC State or even Wake Forest or UNCG or Elon or Davidson or UNC-Asheville or UNC Charlotte?  
But more importantly, who is your favorite Nascar driver?
***Scientific data based on my facebook feed, my dad blatantly cheering for UNC over NC State right in front of me during the recent UNC/NCSU ACC game, and Work Place/Bar Observations.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Raising the Stakes

When Hutch and Shana came to visit me in the land of bourbon and basketball last October, we made a bet. Specifically, Hutch (who is TeamSyracuse all the way) and I (who have been known to leak blue when accidentally slicing my finger with a kitchen knife) decided that whoever's team fell out of the NCAA tournament first this year would buy the winner dinner at the establishment of her choosing. At the time, we were 2 bottles of sweet, white wine in to a lovely evening on the back porch. It seemed like a great idea.

But as tournament time quickly approaches (U.K. tip off today against Western KY University at 12:15...just sayin'...should you need to shop for some blue at lunch), I now realize there is some folly in our strategy. We live approximately 63 states apart. And another meet-up is not scheduled until next spring. *fail* I can't wait until a year from now to collect on our bet. And I will collect on our bet. Goodbye, Fab Melo...hello, Anthony Davis and his wall of newly acquired awards.

Probably one of my favorite commercials of all time is the one ESPN put out around football season that showed winners collecting on their bets. Losers eat the winning team's hat, splash water on their crotches in the corporate bathroom, shave their heads, eyebrows, etc.. Hold on...let me find it....

This is actually the full version at 1 minute long, which I had never seen before. It shows a few extra bets lost that never made it to my TV.

But it's's not's sports. And we're all about that around here.

So, this morning I'm asking you, our creative readers and fellow sports enthusiasts, to suggest some alternative stakes for our NCAA March Madness bet. All I ask is that you not offer up anything where we would to shave an obvious area of our bodies (we both have jobs), or be naked in public (we're classier than that...although not by much). Other than that, I'm pretty much open to anything. What about you, Hutch? Do you have any stipulations?

Thank you in advance. And let the games begin!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

When recreation becomes competitive

An interesting conversation began between The Surfer and I this past Saturday as we sat in the stands cheering our son (The Ace) on during his recreational arena soccer game.  During this casual, hour long soccer game, we watched our son's team score goal after goal after goal finally producing a score of 13-2.

It happens, right?  It's sad to see the defeated faces of the losing team, and we have definitely been there in the past, but it happens throughout all sports and we move on.  But hold on, let me give you a little more insight and then you tell me if this kind of defeat really should, in fact, be happening.

As I mentioned above, The Ace plays on a rec arena soccer team for boys aged 10/11.  This non-competitive game is perfect for our boy because he isn't a soccer guy.  His sports of choice are football and baseball but because the kid is an athlete through and through, he needs to be moving and engaged in sport at all times.  With the lull between football and baseball seasons he has chosen to play in this non-competitive arena soccer league.  For shits and giggles, because he's cool like that. (If only I were so motivated.)

As luck would have it, he has been with the same coach and group for a couple of years in a row now.  Remember, this is a NON-competitive league, so I don't believe there is a drafting process or much concern about assessing the kids abilities to keep the talent even.  The point is for the boys to get out there and play some soccer.

Rumor has it that about 5 of the 10 kids on our team all play together in a competitive soccer league throughout the year.  These guys are clearly, CLEARLY very good at what they do.  You would be astonished watching these boys play together.  I mean, it gets to the point where we stop cheering for our own goals because it's almost embarrassing the way our five guys dance around the other team.  (The Ace NOT being one of them.  He is a baseball/football guy, remember?)

Our heavily stacked team led The Surfer and I to wonder why, during this past debacle of a game.  I mean, clearly the coach asked for certain boys on her team, probably suggesting she wanted to keep the boys together for extra practice while their competitive team takes a break.  Makes sense.  In theory.  If the game remained fun for all involved.

But it's not.  It's not for the team getting crushed.  It kind of is for the other boys on our team being carried by Beckham and Pele.  But is that a prideful kind of win?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  I know my own son is happy about being on the winning team each year, but is his one goal this entire season enough to make him truly happy?  Maybe. (Actually probably because he knows soccer is more of a challenge to master.  He doesn't kick a ball in football or baseball, right?)

And really, is it still fun for these really good guys at this point?  Are they really growing their game by being able to trample over opposing teams week after week?  Or would it be more fun and challenging for them to be split up and placed on different teams?  This way at least they are forced to rise to the occasion to try to win against one another.  Or does this stifle them working as a team?  Do they lose some dynamic between them if they play against one another during this rec season?

Clearly, this is why I don't coach.  I have no damn clue.  I do know it's kinda cool cheering on a winning team, but I do also know it's also lost some of it's luster.  When you secretly hope the other team scores just to bring a little excitement?  Isn't always great.

What do you think?  Is it fair that our coach can snag her own guys?  It IS a casual league where the final outcome really doesn't matter, so maybe I'm over thinking this? Am I crazy again?  Wait, don't answer that last question.  Just the first two. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Half Marathon? Check

As of 7am this morning, this whole I ran a half marathon yesterday thing still hasn't sunk in.  The pain has, but I'm carrying it as a battle wound.

I rolled out of bed at 5am (which really felt like 4, time change/race planning FAIL) went about my normal routine of rinse off, eat breakfast (English Muffin with PB and a cup of coffee) changed into my gear and triple checked to make sure my bib was still attached to my hydration belt (aka fanny pack) and the Gu Chomps were still in there.

Leaving the house by 6 I was so thankful to have done the training program through Fleet Feet which gave us access to the Brooks VIP area.

Non-Instagrammed, what I actually look like at the ass crack with no make-up, photo

Throughout the morning, I expected the what-did-I-get-myself-into nerves to hit, but I remained calm. Other than having to use the restroom about 50 times, give or take, I felt prepared (another reason to be thankful for Fleet Feet, their training program really does work).

The run and course felt great until about mile 6. Then I realized what adding the apple in to the mix for the first time that morning would result in (just being honest). After taking care of that issue we hit the first incline. Now, Sacramento is known for being flat. We have a few "rolling hills" on our bike trail, but nothing like what we experienced between miles 7 and 10.  Majorly increasing my pace by to find a restroom so I wouldn't lose time probably wasn't the smartest decision. 2 big hills and 3 smaller ones later, my legs were dead and my heart rate was saying "Screw You Jackass." 

My initial goal was to cross the finish line with a smile on my face and I had an idea of where I'd like to fall when it came to time, but not super important. At this point, I told myself "you're not stopping and you're crossing that damn finish line, shuffle it up woman!"  And shuffle I did.  The last 4 miles were slow and brutal, constantly checking my form and counting down the miles, but coming in to that stadium running along the warning track towards first base, I picked it up to what felt like a sprint (still waiting for the always awkward finish line photos) and made it across smiling!

I did it! 5 months ago I couldn't run a mile and I had just run 13.1!  I learned a few things, didn't let the mental battle beat me, and met my #1 goal.

Post-Race...still smiling!

The first question the girls and I asked ourselves was would we do it again. Hell yes! I plan to sign-up as soon as the registration opens for next year just to see where I improved. Up next? I'm looking forward to shorter runs of 3-6 miles and focusing on my time. In May, I'm running The Relay, in September there's Tough Mudder, and I'm hoping to make it into the Nike Women's Half Marathon for October. Yes, I realized after this run I hate hills, but with better training I think I can get there. I did just run 13.1 miles on purpose.

Since the morning run in Kentucky with Ally and Shana was my first 2 miles that felt like what a good run should actually feel like, I thought it fitting to celebrate in my Gettin Lucky in Kentucky shirt. Can't wait to add to my medal "collection."

Thursday, March 8, 2012


I ask that you all excuse my ranting over this. I'm still a bit distraught over the news about Hines Ward's release. The hammer was dropped last week but I still feel like it was yesterday. To add salt to the wound the Steelers also released James Farrior, Chris Kemoeatu and Aaron Smith. {Weeks prior to this the Steelers released Bryant McFadden as well}. To say I'm angry is a huge understatement.  As if this wasn't enough this week the Colts decided to release Peyton Manning. All I can say is WTF!?!

"Cash rules everything around me, C.R.E.A.M.!
Get the money, dollah dollah bill ya'll."
- Wu Tang

I know these choices are driven by money alone, and not emotion. If they were driven by emotion you wouldn't see a list of NFL's Veteran's without a job getting longer and longer. That still doesn't mean it doesn't cheese me right the hell off. I look at Hines and Peyton and look at all they've done for their teams. Both MVP's {Peyton has been MVP more than any other NFL player}, and both outstanding examples of what a good role model for children should be and what a great team player should be for professional sports. Peyton is a leader, and I'm sure he will have tons of offers to go to different teams. His biggest issue is going to be whether or not the team that picks him up will give him the Offensive control that he's so used to. Hines is also a great player, regardless of how you feel about him.  I know there a ton of football fanatics that can't stand Hines - bottom line if he was on your team, you'd love him. And I do. He's aggressive, tough, and at the same time a complete team player. I'm all about Team Ward.  What gets to me is that both of these men have said they wanted nothing more than to retire with their respective teams. Hines has always said he wanted to go out as a Steeler, and yes if he doesn't pick-up a new contract, he will - but these are not the terms he wanted. I'm sure Peyton feels the same way.

I'm still trying to make heads or tails of this choice. Be it budgeting, or just wanting new blood on the team either way dropping #86 has floored me. I've been stewing over this since I heard the news. I'm reminded of it every time I look over my shoulder to my right and I'm face with his figure running for a catch on my office desk. {What? Don't all 30 something females have a favorite athlete immortalized this way on their desks? P.S. Tim Tebow photos don't count!}.

Clearly I'm not an NFL owner. And clearly I don't know enough about the bargaining of a team but I have to believe that keeping Hines on the Steelers another year wasn't going to hurt their bottom line that much. My husband and I have been discussing this for the past few days and we both feel these cuts have been made to free up money. This money will be used in the looming NFL draft to secure better picks. I'm not sure who the Steelers are looking for, I can hope and pray it's some of my favorite graduates from the University of Alabama {GO TRENT RICHARDSON!}, but that's a pipe dream. Then again, do I really want to vote one of my hopefuls to a franchise that might send him out to pasture before he's ready to leave?

I hope both Hines and Peyton get picked up by good teams, and that them being a part of said teams only makes the team as a whole, better. I'm still on the fence about where I'd like to see Hines end up. I honestly can't see him in anything but a Steelers jersey. Peyton however has had a few sports shows buzzing about where he'll get picked up. I've heard whispers of the Washington Redskins and I will be honest I'd love to see him go there and flip that whole organization around. {The Skins are my second favorite team}. If anyone has the power to do it. He does. Friends and I have also discussed how we might like to see him retire from the NFL and use this chance to go back to his alma mater and coach at Tennessee. The only down side to that is I can only imagine the power house he'd turn them into, and that doesn't bode well for my Crimson Tide.  I guess time will tell and we'll find out soon enough. Until then I want to say Peyton, you were the only player that made me give a single care about the Colts, good luck to you. Hines, I'm so angry beyond belief and I'm not sure how I feel about it all. I've been a Steelers fan for years and will continue to do so, but for now, I'm so angry I can't even look at the gold and black items hanging in my closet. Good luck to you too!

What are your thoughts about the recent releases of so many players, veterans and otherwise.

Where do you hope to see Peyton and Hines reside if they get picked up?

And with all this being said, who's ready for March Madness?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Adult kickball? Why, yes, I think I will...

I've joined an Adult Kickball league. Yes, I really just found out these exist. I knew that softball leagues for those outside of school existed, but didn't realize kickball surpassed middle school. I've only played in one game, but I'm already loving it.

It's a completely different mentality from school and professional sports. And by different mentality, I mean, we all get drunk and try to be good at a game that middle school kids could totally kick our butts at. So, maybe it's like school sports (since you don't get paid), but with a twist of spectator sports because you can drink while your team is "batting" or maybe it's "kicking". I'm not really sure, I'm not up on the lingo just yet.

It was really fun, being a part of team sports that didn't have politics, money or ego (of course that could have been the beer). There may have been a henna tattoo at stake between the two teams' captains, but that's another story . . . and really it just made us want to throw the game so our captain would have girly ink on his lower back for a week or two. It was a completely different culture than being a spectator at a professional sporting event, and there was a camaraderie that you have with your teammates in school, but no stress and all fun. For an adult that has lost a lot of their athletic ability, and specifically for a chick to come in and be able to make some plays even when you haven't done team sports in years, it was a real ego boost.

I joined with a few of my friends, some of which never played team sports before. It was a HUGE confidence builder for them. Part because everyone was just so laid back and nice, but also because of the type of game, everyone and anyone can make a play. There is always some good you can do. It was definitely a great thing we all joined. Plus, there is such a large social aspect of it. Many people join just to meet new people. Some join because they just want to play. Everyone in our league goes out to the bar afterward, and just has fun. Something you do with your friends after a pro game, but with this type of adult league, you get the best of both worlds.

Now, I've been sore for two days. I ran as fast as I could to beat a few throws. I pitched all the innings and my arm and shoulder could definitely use a good rub down. However, I can't wait to go back. I loved the whole concept, and the fact that these types of leagues exist for those of us that still love team sports. I'm a fan . . . and now I'm back on the team too.

I joined a WAKA league, you can find out more about it here. I didn't receive any compensation or waived registration fees. I just really wanted to share a great sporting concept with everyone.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Beer and Cheese

Hey, it's Cathy, your resident Cheesehead.

No, really, I'm going to be a resident of Wisconsin. Making me an official Cheesehead once again.

You heard it here first, folks. I'm packing my life up and moving to Milwaukee. Let me tell you that I just packed my life up and LEFT Milwaukee 6 short years ago. It's cool though, we don't have that much stuff...we are just 2 people. My husband, JT, was offered and accepted a job in Milwaukee just this past weekend (after an intense 3 week interview process).

So, what does moving to Milwaukee mean for me from a sports perspective? We all know that I'm a GB Packers fan. The good news is, so is everyone in Milwaukee. Except for my Father-in-Law and JT's oldest brother. Other than that, I'm 99% sure that everyone loves the Packers. It's like a requirement or something. This means bigger and better Packer parties. Longer and more intense Packer discussions. Greener and Golder lawn decorations. AND....I can finally buy beer on Sunday's again. Oh, how sweet it is!

Milwaukee is also home to the Brewers and Bucks. I'm a MN Twins girl myself, but when your husbands entire family worships the Brewers and still calls Miller Park by it's former name of County Stadium on occasion, it's hard not to get caught up in the excitement. In fact, I do believe I've been to at least one Brewer's game every summer since moving out of Milwaukee 6 years ago. Also, I think my 10 year old niece has been on the floor of the Bradley Center twice in the last year.

Basically, the people I'll now be surrounded by (my husbands family) are much bigger sports fans than the people I am currently surrounded by (my family and our MN friends), which can only lead to more fodder for the blog! The job my husband will be starting in 2 short weeks also has a sports aspect to it. One of the products they make are mascot costumes, how cool is that! They also have many sports teams and leagues as clients. I'm not going to lie, I'm hoping one of the perks of this new job is tickets to games.

Off I go into the land of beer and 

p.s. Did you hear my favorite Packer, Donald Driver, is going to be on Dancing with the Stars? I've never watched the show, but if Double D is going to be shakin' his groove thing you better believe I'll be tuning in.

p.p.s. As requested by Allyson....I got the nickname Kentucky when one of my husbands good friends couldn't remember exactly how to pronounce my last name. He referred to me as "Cathy Honey Kentucky or however you say it". So I was known as Honey Kentucky....then Kentucky...then Kentuck. Then it just sort of fizzled out. But, Kentucky now holds a special place in my heart and I always pick them to go far in the tournament.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Do Announcers Listen to What They Say?

There's a 12 year-old boy side of me who comes out from time to time, often while watching sports.  I'm sure you know all about 'That's What She Said (TWSS)," a favorite of mine, but until this year I never really took notice of just how dirty announcers words could be when taken out of context.  I've pulled in Ally to my immaturity and now every time I get an email from her I fully expect a good laugh (well, I always get a good laugh regardless of the topic).  Here's a sampling of what we've collected through the football and college basketball seasons. To appreciate the full ridiculousness while reading, make sure to follow each phrase with a TWSS.

He takes it to the spot.

Pulling out just a little too quick.

Watch what happens here, penetration at the first sign of attack.

Strap it on partner! Strap it on! 

He has quick hands from behind

Can't force anything in there, just slide through.

Took him and put him on his back.

Boy, did he get his hands on a lot of balls tonight.

Really good job pulling out.

And he casually takes it from behind.

Is there anything more important than penetration?

Do these announcers watch games back and listen to what they say? I mean, seriously? Ally claims I've ruined her, I like to think I've added a bit more entertainment to her life.  Hopefully, I've done the same for you.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

One and Done

I've been sitting on a post about the possibility of paying college athletes for quite some time. Joe Nocera, an op-ed columnist for the NY Times, wrote a fairly lengthy article on December 30th about the idea of paying the student athletes who generate the most revenue, particularly the men's football and basketball teams. If you are interested in reading his justifications and proposed pay scale, you can find it here. However, my take-away after 6 pages of reading was that, in my book, it's impossible.

First of all, Title IX would never let sports officials get away with not paying the women. And, let's face it, the women would never get paid. The cold, hard truth is that even during Pat Summit's heyday at the University of Tennessee, when the women were winning national championships, they still didn't bring in 1/3 of the money that the men's NCAA championship does. Is it fair or right? No. Does it happen? You bet your balls it does. Forget the University of Kentucky's women's gymnastics team, who has won more national championships than I can even count. No one is hyping them or offering limited posters leaving thousands of fans wanting more. But I guarantee they have an Anthony Davis-level athlete on that team. As a Kinesiology major, I attended class with and worked out next to student athletes across all sports. The cheerleaders did so many lunges that I don't know how their quadriceps didn't just fall right off the bone. The gymnasts could suspend themselves, upside down, in mid-air for as long as they desired. No one can argue with me that those athletes deserve anything less than what the football and basketball teams are getting.

I was saving this soapbox monologue until after March Madness, when all of the star athletes would be trading in their books for Beamers and heading off to the siren call of the NBA. But then Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, one of UK's fabulous five, made an announcement during a post-game press conference last week. He said, "I will graduate from the University of Kentucky." Uh...maybe he said UK, I can't remember. But the statement silenced a growing suspicion that he and Anthony Davis would go skipping off into the NBA sunset, hand-in-hand. It also made the press chortle. Aloud. To which he replied, "I'm serious!" And everyone in Big Blue Country says We'll see about that, babycakes.

But it raises a deeper question. Why are we so quick to dismiss a star athlete's decision to graduate from college? When did we become so cynical about students staying after such a stellar season? Perhaps because they are one and done. All. the. time. Before the parking lots are even empty, they are planning for the draft, seeing dollar signs in the stoplights, and buying their mommas that big fancy house she has always wanted on credit. The idea of a "free" college education...a chance they were given because they have a talent that is in easily sacrificed. Throwing away a higher education in the pursuit of money. It seems counter-intuitive but it happens after every season.

Until last week, I was honestly on the fence about paying college athletes. Gender and "lesser" sports teams aside, it seemed fair that those who bring in the most revenue should see a little of it in their bank accounts. After all, any student athlete will tell you that playing a sport in college is a job. It's almost a full-time job. And then to remain eligible, they have to keep their grades up, too. I will never tell an athlete, regardless of what sport they play and how much money their team generates, that they don't deserve to be paid in some fashion. But the idea is that a free higher education with room and board is payment. There are high school seniors who graduate and can only dream of going to college. So to be handed a full scholarship is an opportunity that shouldn't be wasted.

I think we, as sports fans and universities alike, are way out of bounds. When we assume (even encourage) our draft-worthy student athletes will walk away from a fully funded education for the chance to make millions. In my opinion, a college education, when applied, is worth millions. Of course people will argue that the longer they play for a college team, the increased likelihood that they will be injured, thus ending their NBA dreams. But more often than not, that happens anyway at some point during an athlete's career. There's a chance that athlete will make millions before he's injured...or it could happen in his first game. But what does it say about our society when we audibly scoff at a player for suggesting he'll play all 4 years instead of the one and done? We're being surpassed everyday by China, India, and Japan. Maybe it's time to get our heads back in the game.

I honestly wrote this to get your feedback. I think the idea of paying college athletes fuels a fiery debate that people find themselves definitively on one side or the other. Thoughts? Opinions? Anyone a former student athlete who would like to weigh in on what it would like to be paid?