The Broken Ordinary World
"If I don't get it done, Fire Me"
It’s amusing what happens at the intersection of destiny and interesting characters. I was 37 years old and adrift; teaching and coaching for the last 10 years as well as working part-time as a lifeguard, painter, camp counselor and security guard. My career too was satisfying in a lot of ways but I was to comfortable. By mere happenstance a parent on my JV basketball team asked me to train their son in the off-season. The kid was on the bubble of making the varsity team and the dad wanted an edge. I was so naive that I asked him how much I should charge.
My personal training journey was launched that season. In the next 18 months I trained a ton of aspiring athletes. My schedule exploded and my rates continued to rise.
Simultaneously, there was another trainer who used to come to the school to train our elite athletes. They called him the “jump guy.” We often crossed paths in the weight room or the basketball gym. He was friendly and would regularly talk to me in some foreign and esoteric weight room vernacular. I would mostly nod my head pretending to understand. He might as well have been speaking Russian; ATP system, the nuances of Olympic lifting. These moments began to ignite my competitive side, which had been dormant for too long. I was uneasy and uncomfortable with this feeling of being the underdog. I wanted to know more. Imagine the stark contrast between my group of kids and the athletes he trained. I felt like Vince Vaughn, owner of Average Joe’s Gym in the feature film Dodgeball.
Answering the Call of a Legend - Crossing a Threshold
One January day in 2005 I was called into Coach Smith’s office. The football team had just lost the 2004 state championship. Our program was being eclipsed by the Lakeland Dreadnoughts. They were unstoppable, the Death Star. I was so busy with teaching, training and part-time jobs that I never paid attention to our football team or program. In fact, between 1999 & 2005, I only attended one football game. Again, I was oblivious to Coach Smith’s vision for the football program and the imminent explosion of high school football on the national and media stage in the smart phone internet era. Coach Smith lived, ate, slept and dreamt football but he also sensed the fundamental changes happening inside and outside football He intuitively understood these future opportunities. He wanted to place the Aquinas Team at ground zero. At the time, I was as clueless about the football world as anyone could be, but I intuitively understood how players worked, what motivated them, and how to harness their collective will.
Acquainted with the STA football staff, I had heard the whispers concerning the Dreadnought players. They were described as mythical creatures out of the movie the 13th Warrior; The Wendol; vicious savages that were unbeatable on the football field. Our team didn’t pass the “look test” so Coach Smith embarked on an innovative rampage starting with our off-season program. He was preparing to be back on top and was planning a few strategic moves. His innovative spirit has fostered many avant-garde components to our program from team yoga to becoming the first high school to use tackling drones in the spring of 2016.
It’s hard to describe Coach Smith. Imagine a combination of Magnum PI(Tom Selleck), Pale Rider(Clint Eastwood), and a bulldog(Winston Churchill). He is frightening and charming, simultaneously. In my first 5 years at St. Thomas Coach Smith and I rarely spoke and when he did, the conversation was typically him talking and me listening. When I interviewed for a teaching position at the school, these were his first 2 comments. “What the (insert harsh word) are you doing here” and “Why are you wearing that suit.”
As the years moved forward, our conversations remained much the same; “Get the (insert harsh word) out of the gym”, “Get off the court, we have a playoff game”. I remember one time I took a kid who was a discipline problem, down to his office. Well, that was the last time I would ever do that. Both the kid and I walked out of there visibly and emotionally motivated. Coach Smith has a talent and zeal for intensity. It’s just the kind of guy he is; he is very charismatic, but he is also very demanding. He is the ultimate coach. Cunning. Patient. The appropriate amount of Intimidation. His most important characteristic is his love of the program, the school, the community and most importantly his players.
The Offer in the Hovel
Coach Smith’s office at that time was an iconic coaching space. A picture of every athlete who had ever gotten a scholarship at St. Thomas was glued to the 70’s style paneling. The office was more of a shoe closet than an office. It had just enough space for 3 people. The pictures often had a stain to them that was an indication of time passing. He had built an athletic juggernaut while working out of a hutch. It had the aroma of mature chewing tobacco and the carpet was vintage 70’s shag. It was disgusting.
It’s January 2005 and I have no idea why I am in there in his office. I’m sitting across from him and he has this giant dip in his mouth. Instead of spitting he just swallowed the tobacco whole. He caught me off guard when he asked me to create a team-based strength and conditioning system for the football program. The “jump guy” was his first choice but he was too expensive. I was the alternative. The fire had been burning in me for some time and I knew this was something special. Besides, it irritated me I was the number two pick, but whatever; it was the opportunity to go on a quest and who says no to Gandalf (My Nickname for Coach Smith).
This was unique. I could smell it. I looked him right in the eye and spoke to him in a way I had never done before and rarely do since. “If I don’t get it done, Fire Me.” was my only response. I left and started planning.
Party's Over. The Quest Never Ends
I showed up late to the party so I never had the burden of defending a lifting ideology; are you a power lifter, Olympic lifter, or functional trainer? What about machines? Most strength coaches spend more time either defending their philosophy or picking apart someone else’s approach. Believe me, it’s as fierce as American politics.
Having an open mind makes more sense as performance training is in its infancy. Most practices are more speculative ideas than dogmatic truths. The science is less than thirty years old with a limited number of validated studies. We are at the frontier of an undiscovered technology. I was lucky. I was able to approach my craft with a blank slate rather than being programmed. I suggest you do the same.
As time went on, I continued to methodically investigate the art. First getting my personal training certificate through NASM and then going back to school to get a Master’s degree in exercise science. However, the greatest experience was learning day to day in the STA weight room. I have been lucky to spend a decade with some of the best high school football players in the country.
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”
― Theodore Roosevelt
The irony is that weaknesses provided a path to contribute to an epic organizational achievement. Understanding what it’s like to be lost. Understanding what it’s like to be an underdog. These are strengths you utilize when you help to motivate your team facing adversity in the weight room. It’s an interesting paradox considering that you are creating the adversity players face in order to shape them into the team they will become. It’s about relating. Have a peripheral vision for the players that you train. Make sure you understand their hopes, fears and dreams. You don’t always need to provide a solution, but you certainly need to listen.
When you harness hope and stamp out fear you are tapping into a positive emotional tsunami. If you point those collective emotions in the right direction, you can bring a team to the brink of their capacity. It’s where you have to be when the season starts if you aspire to be at the top of the football food chain. The science and organizational side of strength and conditioning will take care of itself if due diligence is done. It’s the human dimension that’s the abyss and that’s where the opportunity resides. That’s where the good strength coaches build their heuristic. The real crucible is how far and how fast can you develop your emotional IQ. What you know is certainly a part of the equation. However, the players could care less. They care about what happens in the weight room if they know you care about them.
Hatched not Born
A fair number of strength guys I have met are bred and hatched in a weight cave or laboratory. An athlete’s psyche is an obstacle to either their savagery or science of training. They don’t see the forest or the trees because they are usually at the poles of technique or brutality . It’s this bizarre polarization one finds in some strength coaches. They are either too technique driven or so primal that they fail to relate to their team. They enthusiastically jump down the rabbit hole in search of training knowledge. However, there’s a kind of forgetfulness. They are not training robots. They are in a human endeavor where spirit and emotions matter. Players will sacrifice and adapt when they know their coaches and teammates care about them as human beings.
How does this extreme polarization occur? What type of person is
drawn to being a strength coach? It’s usually a person who loves being in the weight room and has performed well there. Some of these individuals were not as competitive in the sports they played. Their self-esteem is tied to training. In my opinion, they are a lot like math teachers. There are some math teachers and strength coaches who appear to be perpetually frustrated individuals. As a whole, both groups never fully grasp why their kids hate the subjects they love. This usually causes more emotional distance from the students or athletes who need what is being offered. The antidote is to create the connections that provide the bridge to transfer knowledge, both in the classroom and the weight room. That’s what your football players need. Your ability to walk a tightrope between the science, savagery, and emotional needs of your team.
Why Crossfit is popular and the emotional lessons for a football strength coach.
Take a concept like CrossFit which has ideas that a football training program can borrow. However, it’s an upside down comparison. CrossFit is in a completely different universe that validates the emotional component of crafting a team for adults searching for connections. There are coaches who provide encouragement, so it’s popular among a group of adults who miss being coached or who never had that team atmosphere in their lives. CrossFit, in my opinion isn’t really training but a sport in itself. My hunch is that if you want to win at the CrossFit games you have to play CrossFit and prepare for CrossFit using some corrective and adaptive exercise approach. CrossFit is more similar to an individual sport than what we are doing in the weight room with a football team. CrossFit didn’t become popular because the training was so different and so much better; it became popular because of the emotional connections that were established while one trains the sense of belonging and team. It’s a fitness community, not a training method. Anyone can see that they are just making up high intensity interval training workouts. Some of it is unsafe and unsound, but the followers don’t care. They are wrapped up in it emotionally. It resonates with them on a tribal level. One might agree or disagree with the concept of CrossFit but the lessons of emotional community and belonging are crystal clear.
Human beings are masters of creating contagious stories. The most damaging stories are the ones that become unquestionable and generational. This is true in every discipline, including strength and conditioning. An ubiquitous idea becomes so ingrained that its subscribers don’t even know its origins, the author, or even why they believe. Scary version: the story becomes marketed and institutionalized. Welcome to the world of strength training ideology 101.
Research, experiment, prototype and figure out what works for your players and teams. Don’t blindly subscribe to an individual or group narrative. My narrative might not work for you. However, it might be the catalyst for you to borrow an idea and tinker and prototype. Create your own path. This is the heuristic that I used to be a part of seven state and two national championships in the last decade. Your journey is probably going to be different but borrowing just one great idea might generate a butterfly effect. We are all searching for leverage in our programs. One small idea might elevate your program into another orbit. For us, playing competitive games was a small change that had a huge effect in our off season program.
The False Narrative
The unconscious thought process of a strength coach is the product of the two dominant influences in the Western world: The Scientific and Industrial revolutions. It’s that simple and it’s invisible. It’s woven into the culture and it isn’t questioned. Did you ever watch a herd of Wildebeest cross a river right where the crocodiles are? Why did they continue going into the river? They did it because they followed the other wildebeests. Remember, you are not a wildebeest and you have permission to think, tinker and experiment for yourself. It’s a DIY(Do It Yourself) world and you have every right to bring that tinkering model into your program. To knowingly or unknowingly base your strength and conditioning program EXCLUSIVELY on these two paradigms (Scientific and Industrial) is a mistake.
When the weight room is turned into a laboratory and the process is industrialized, it kills the human and football spirit. The level of engagement will parallel engagement in the adult workforce. Too scientific and robotic of a program, and the atmosphere in the weight room makes the workout a job and suffocates engagement and enthusiasm. Don’t take my word for it. Google “percent of workers disengaged 2014.” 70 percent of your players will not be engaged in your program. Moreover, 20 percent will be actively working against the program. I am not suggesting that you use unsound practices and not demand a healthy effort in the weight room environment. What I am encouraging you to think about is a way to motivate an entire team.
Sports and specifically football are about this vitality for everyone involved. This has to be developed in workout programs. Players are not computers or robots. They are asked to make sacrifices, perform artistically, and do something miraculous on the football field.
How can you design your program so your players want to get up at 5:30 a.m.? How can you forge your team into an unbreakable collective? Will they hold the rope for their teammates as it cuts them down to the bone? You are preparing for the GAME of football! Athletes play football because it’s FUN. Embed games and competition into your strength and conditioning program to prepare athletes to play football games.
This is not a crazy idea. It’s just one that has been lost in the cultural fabric of the scientific and industrial revolutions. Young adults are not supposed to play. They are supposed to work. However, here is the truth, the moment where our off-season program became super charged was in 2007. In the two previous years,2006 and 2005, we used a very scientific demanding approach based on the NASM OPT model. In the 2007 season, we played between 15 and 25 minutes of games every workout session. That same season, I shared this wisdom as a guest speaker at a couple of conferences. I heard crickets and received disapproving glares. It was surely football heresy. You would have thought I was advocating Zumba as a football workout. Do you think any of those professionals investigated the science or the benefits of playing games is a component of a workout? I saw the benefits and I wanted as much game time I could manage without hurting the science-based workout progression. Now I can’t imagine workouts without games. Dodgeball and tag embedded in your program will dramatically improve engagement and transfer hyper productivity throughout the entire session. These games electrified and unified our team. Players exited our facility brutally exhausted but with smiles on their faces. Because workouts are fun, they show up ready to perform. They were perpetually experiencing the “awe of being.” The most powerful force in the universe was harnessed to achieve a football goal.
Having fun and preparing a team to play a violent sport are not mutually exclusive goals. More than a few strength coaches motivate by being tough and unapproachable. They want to spread misery as a way to toughen their teams. If thats going to be your primary approach I have two thoughts. One, anybody can pull that off; it doesn’t require that much imagination or effort. The competition for the race to the bottom is going to be considerable.
Two, it’s going to create is a fragmented team, divided between those players who descend into a cyclical misery and those who can’t but become riddled with anxiety. It’s not a good recipe for performance. The tough guy club becomes exclusive and small. Being a strength coach is akin to being a boss in the weight room. Consider Goleman’s thoughts: “Emotions are infectious, one person’s mood literally changes the others’ brains.” (“Because the social brain connects us so intimately, it provides the mechanisms that make emotions contagious and emotions are most contagious from the most powerful person in the room outward. This means that, for example, if a boss is angry or belittling or hypercritical, that the boss is going to create a state in the person who’s a target of that that it actually disables them from being able to work at their best. So that boss is, in effect, creating his or her own problems.”) Strength coaches should distance themselves from a negative approach and design a small game component in their workouts as a way to build a dynamic team of players that will pull each other inclusively past mental and physical boundaries.
The Science behind Games and Play
Playing games is an evolutionary act that increases and organism’s chances of survival. Think about societies cultural story of work versus play. We are training young adults and somehow our culture has bought into the narrative that play or games are somehow not productive. Evolution and neuroscience suggest otherwise: “Kids have society’s permission to play, and most adults don’t. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, most of us exchange play for work, and forget to play with the abandon and joy of childhood. Giving adults the “go ahead” and techniques to resume adult forms of play offers multiple benefits. Being capable of generating, recognizing and acting on the play signals of others establishes, or re-establishes trust, safety and adaptation to the unexpected or complex. Perhaps this truth has been buried in the usual win-lose contests that characterize most adult negotiations.” Brown (2009)
We are forging teams in a crucible. Athletes need permission to enter this crucible, fail, and reenter. That is why games are a perfect technology. Failure is ok. You just reset until you learn to be successful. The real lesson is that it’s ok to be yourself. Football demands a high degree of trust. Players and teams are forced to adapt to the unexpected throughout the season. Games in the offseason translate into wins during the regular season. I have seen games foster trust and adaptation. Everyone at that moment becomes an equal because they are enjoying the process.
Alternatively, let us examine what happens to animals and people deprived of play Brown (2009) states “Now, this is a consequence of play deprivation. (Laughter) This took a long time -- I had to get Homer down and put him through the fMRI and the SPECT and multiple EEGs, but as a couch potato, his brain has shrunk. And we do know that in domestic animals and others, when they’re play deprived, they don’t -- and rats also -- they don’t develop a brain that is normal.” Take a couple of minutes and watch the videos below of the Raider football team playing games. More importantly, look at the body language and draw your own conclusions. These positive emotions transfer into the weight room as soon as the play period or game ends. Games feed the traditional workout with positive emotions. Brown concludes that “Nothing lights up the brain like play. Three-dimensional play fires up the cerebellum, puts a lot of impulses into the frontal lobe -- the executive portion -- helps contextual memory be developed, and -- and, and, and.” (2009)
The Endgame - FLOW
What’s the goal of playing tug of war, dodgeball, or tag. Our goal is to cultivate a collective mental state called “flow” or “being in the zone” What are the characteristics of flow and why do we seek to recognize and ritualize it? The leading authority behind “flow” is Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and he defines it “as being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”
This is exactly the “state of mind” we want our players in when they step in the weight room or on the football field. However, there is something missing! We need this state of mind to happen collectively to our team. We need to make it a group habit. It has to be ritualized. We need to be able to conjure it up a moment’s notice. We are unbeatable in the collective mindset of “flow”. The hive mind. This isn’t tennis or a single player video game. It’s football, “you’re about to make contact, get ready to fight.” How do we do it? We do it automatically all the time. Most human beings are wired with normal mirror neurons that naturally transfer emotions. In our case “flow.”
“Mirror neurons are a kind of ‘neural wi-fi’ that monitor what is happening in the other people. This system tracks their emotions, what movements they’re making, what they intend and it activates, in our brains, precisely the same brain areas as are active in the other person,” Goleman explains. “This puts us on the same wavelength and it does it automatically, instantaneously and unconsciously.” The more players we can tip into a “flow state” through games the more people will be affected by it. If done correctly, it will ripple out into your entire team. Players playing games not only puts them into a state of flow, but also ripples this mental state across the team, into your workouts and ultimately, it wins football games. They can tip themselves into this state.
A small game component has a butterfly effect on a program - Whatever emerges will be beautiful.
Games will create an emergence of positive energy that will cascade into the entire football program.
It’s counter intuitive, but it has a scientific justification and it’s called chaos theory. “Essentially, the theory looks at something called sensitive dependence on initial conditions. This means that even a very minute change in the initial conditions of a system can have dramatic effects on that system over time. This phenomenon has been observed in such diverse areas as fluid dynamics, the motion of planets, economic cycles, general relativity, and in broad psycho-social systems.” Football is a psycho-social system and the equation for football wins is W=GFM2 (W - Wins, G - Games, F - Flow, M - Mirror Neurons, 2 - is the rapidly contagious transfer of flow)
Theory to Praxis
Games are a tool to create and sustain collective flow in the workouts. A game should be played at least once a week. They can be played every workout. They can be used as an incentive for hard work or they can be denied for lack of attention or effort. Assuming a 90 minute workout the maximum time devoted towards games in a design is 20 minutes. However, some games can be used after the workout as a reward. Additionally, you can block off an entire day for games like a weekend water polo match or leadership ropes course.
A Decade of "Flow" in the Raider Football Program 2005 - 2015
Brown, S. (2008, May). Play is more than just fun. TED. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/stuart_brown_says_play_is_more_than_fun_it_s_vital/transcript?language=en
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2004, February). Flow, the secret to happiness. TED. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_on_flow?language=en
Goleman, D. (2007, February 27). The Neural Power of Leadership: Daniel Goleman on Social Intelligence. 6 Seconds The Emotional Intelligence Network. Retrieved from http://www.6seconds.org/2007/02/27/the-neural-power-of-leadership-daniel-goleman-on-social-intelligence/
The National Institute for Play (n.d). Retrieved from http://www.nifplay.org/vision/animals-play/
n.a. (n.d.) Flow. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)
n.a. (n.d.). Chaos Theory Simplified. Retrieved from http://www.physicsplanet.com/articles/chaos-theory-simplified
We have had so many dreams that have become reality in our football organization that it’s difficult to isolate just one. I am going to write about the most recent one because it’s fresh in my mind. It’s important for every coach out there that reads this to understand that reality is irrelevant and quite possibly the most damaging force to a football team. As an example, this year (2015) we had season ending injuries to our top performers at these positions; the featured running back, starting quarterback, our best offensive lineman, The No. 2 recruit in the country (Nick Bosa), his replacement, the entire starting linebacking core, a D-1 defensive back. This was our reality.
Things could have gotten ugly considering the expectations in our program; national champion and at the minimum a state title. Anything else is unacceptable and might generate an internal revolt combined with alumni condemnation. That’s when someone else’s story takes root and you become a victim of that illusion or reality or whatever you want to call it because it’s so twisted together. What is real? Control your story and you have a chance to control your destiny.Everybody in the program saw the train wreck that was about to happen. Everyone except for our head coach, Roger Harriott.
In the middle of this injury riddled turbulence, Roger called the players together during one of our 6a.m. workouts late in the season. He told them they were about to be a part of what he called an epic story. He actually used those exact words; “An epic story.” His message was that that no team in our rich tradition had ever faced this type of adversity and ever lived up to the expectations of realizing a state championship season; “This would be the most talked about season in STA history.” Another important fact I failed to mention previously is that although Roger had been a successful coach at both the high school and collegiate levels, this was his first year at STA. In any first year there is a culture change that has to be navigated in order to stamp your identity on the team you coach. Most of the players in the program were built under the previous culture. I mention this as an additional challenge that Roger had to overcome. Telling a story under ideal conditions is difficult enough. Tell a story when the expectations are often unrealistic, under adverse conditions, or for the first time is like planting a seed on concrete. The story is dead on arrival.
I am observing this story being told in the early morning and watching the reaction to it. Let’s be clear. There was no eureka moment at this point. There was no 100 percent buy in at this stage. Roger was doing what all great story tellers do. He was arousing the curiosity of his audience (players and coaches). Everyone in that room had a thought in the back of his mind. “Is it possible that this could be real?” It was more like a “huh, I wonder if.” It’s the way it was presented. A good story leaves one dying to know more. It’s mysterious. Roger was giving them inspiration and permission to dictate how the story would unfold and ultimately end. At this point there was still a compelling reason to read the next chapter.
There’s a depth that one might miss if you’re not paying attention. Roger was going deeper into the team psyche and was actually tapping into a story that has been told throughout history and in every culture. The players were hearing a story about a football season. That’s what they heard. What they felt was ancient. It’s something prevalent in the universal psyche of every human who has ever walked the planet. It’s something that is so attractive that its almost impossible to turn away from. The story of the hero.
“In narratology and comparative mythology, the monomyth, or the hero’s journey, is the common template of a broad category of tales that involve a hero who goes on an adventure, and in a decisive crisis wins a victory, and then comes home changed or transformed.” The famous mythologist Joseph Campbell explored and created this concept.
That morning put our team on the path to adventure. He repeated this narrative over and over again. Something interesting happened. We continually faced a steady stream of ordeals that manifested themselves in the form of two obstacles.
The Flanagan football team and subsequently the steady stream of injuries that continued into the playoffs. It went from the absurd to the ridiculous. Roger added another section to the story which he called “Next man up” so that the team could process and digest the adversity we were facing. At one point, we had a fair number of JV players on the field. At that time, the snowball of belief was beginning to enlarge. It didn’t matter. The story was overcoming the reality. We could have put freshmen on the field and won. It was the story and they believed in it, period.
The story went into chain reaction mode when we beat a highly touted, very physical Flanagan football team. We were picked as underdogs in the paper, expected to lose. This team eventually would go on to capture the 8A state title. “During pregame warm-ups on Friday, Flanagan star linebacker Devin Bush Jr. bounced onto the turf at Piccolo Stadium, laid down at midfield and made like a snow angel.” taken from the article; Hobbled St. Thomas Aquinas rallies past Flanagan On our A. He metaphorically spit in our face. This was the ordeal stage in the journey that would provide the fuel for the story to continue. The tipping point. Either, Roger’s words were a false illusion or objective reality. The whole team dug in under his story and went toe to toe with Flanagan and won the game with a sophomore quarterback. The fiction of the #EpicStory and #NextManUp had crossed the boundary into reality. Now we were unstoppable. If you create and control your story, it becomes your destiny.
My Wife Lori who tells me I should take more risks. My son John who was civilized until I started treating him like the barbarians I was coaching. This started at age 8. My Daughter Kelly who is most like me and doesn’t know it.
Mike and Laura Simmons who have always been there for guidance since the Raider Camp days during the Shaq Era and into the eternal now.
Thank You Mrs. Stearns for letting me sit in your classroom while you read poetry to your students.
I never met anybody as dedicated to the program and Coach Smith as Lee Martin.
My next E-Book will be Titled “Keep Black Swans Close”
Black Swan defined: An event or occurrence that deviates beyond what is normally expected of a situation and that would be extremely difficult to predict. This term was popularized by Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book “The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable.”
A small fraction of the anecdotes that will be forthcoming.
Marcel Archer who spent countless 5am workout sessions designing the program.
Stephen Simmons for not beating me up in 2005.
Andrew Datko who no one should ever go camping with.
Hunter Coddington who never missed a beach workout even though they were boring.
Michael Paen for being perfect.
Nick Linder for the phone call that saved my life.
Matt Stokes for a variety of different reasons; wrestling, broken thumbs, workout designs, and total savagery.
Ryan Crozier and the Magic Rock.
John Childress for being tactical.
Patrick Hubbard for leaving his locker unlocked.
Scott Northcutt for going for a swim in the most dangerous beach in central America and for being 100 percent dial in at every moment.
Scott and Anne Northcutt, there is no place like building team unity like Hawks Landing.
Jonathan Boozer for being a creature that does not exist but is in fact real. A unicorn.
The Bosas because, well their Bosas.
Tim Petty for witnessing all of my rants and being crucial in 2007.
Don’t ever play dodgeball against John Hearns.
Blaine Fillichio for his wisdom in the Dean’s office.
The whole offensive line in 2012.
Marcus Gilbert’s laugh “haha I like you Mr. B.”
Sam Young for his tremendous role plays.
Giovanni Bernard for having the most character.
James White for being Vlad’s friend.
Brandon Linder for small talk on the football field.
The Linder Family for the their Breakfasts and fishing expeditions.
The Aubel family for experiences that belong in a different book.
Bob Milligan for his wisdom.
The entire 2007 team because we all needed each other.
The entire 2008 team because they needed no one including me.
Moose for that time I walked on the track and we were playing the number one team in the nation. Big Mike organically manifested in the stands.
Ryan Beckers eternal confidence.
That time Dylan Drake dislocated my nose in pickup basketball.
David Rogue for his comments on the track. Never Forget.
The number one rule is never ever go to a UM game with Dave Billitier.