Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Do You Have a Yes Face?

A 'Yes' Face 
by Charles Swindoll  
During Thomas Jefferson's presidency he and a group of travelers were crossing a river that had overflowed its banks. Each man crossed on horseback fighting for his life. A lone traveler watched the group traverse the treacherous river and then asked President Jefferson to take him across.

The president agreed without hesitation, the man climbed on, and the two made it safely to the other side of the river where somebody asked him: "Why did you select the President to ask this favor?"

The man was shocked, admitting he had no idea it was the President of the United States who had carried him safely across. "All I know," he said, "is that on some of your faces was written the answer 'No' and on some of them was the answer 'Yes.' His was a 'Yes' face."

"The most significant decision I make each day is my choice of an attitude. When my attitudes are right there's no barrier too high, no valley too deep, no dream too extreme and no challenge too great." - Charles Swindoll

What's your attitude going to be today? Will you have on your 'Yes' face?


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Curbing a Dangerous Habit: Texting and Driving

Dangerous habits ... texting and driving.
Most of us have a fair amount of driving experience under our belts and have a certain confidence level as to our ability to drive and text at the same time. You may think that you are still paying attention to the road and your driving when you are multi tasking in your car, but trust me, you are not. You are giving yourself a false sense of security if you think you can safely drive and text at the same time. No one can.

Let me show you a few statistics:
  • The texting-while-driving statistics in 2010 compiled by Pew Research Center revealed that 47 percent of adults resort to texting as compared to 34 percent of teenagers. The same stats revealed that 75 percent of adults resort to phone conversation while driving as compared to 52 percent of teenagers.
  • In 2011, at least 23% of auto collisions involved cell phones … that’s 1.3 million crashes
  • 5 seconds: The minimum amount of time your attention is taken away from the road when you’re texting and driving … if you’re traveling at 55 mph this equals driving the length of a football field without looking at the road (wow.)
Let me offer you a convenient solution to safely and securely put your smartphone away while you are driving. The MobiValet smart phone car mount.

 I recently found this smartphone car mount and it has really helped me to put the phone down while I am driving. It’s great because I know when it’s in the MobiValet iPhone car mount that it’s not sliding all over my car and it’s safely out of sight. I am also able to charge my phone while it is stored in the MobiValet smartphone car mount because of its innovative design. The creative minds at MobiValet had the busy person in mind when they designed this smartphone car mount. They lowered both side walls of the car mount so that the majority of smartphones can be inserted into the holder WITHOUT having to first unplug the AC power charger! This is a huge bonus for me when I’m on the go and need to charge my phone.

If you’re worried about the adhesive, don’t. Trust me; I wouldn’t attach something to my car without doing my homework first! If for some reason you need to remove the MobiValet smartphone mount from your car, it will not leave any "residue" on your console. MobiValet uses a specially designed acrylic adhesive that has a specific application for use in automobiles. There is no residue left behind upon removal of the adhesive.

It’s important for me to be a good role model for my children, especially now that I have a teen behind the wheel as well. The MobiValet has helped me show my children the importance of putting the phone down while driving, it is a great looking accessory in my car, and my phone is securely stored and being charged all at once. Why didn’t I find this sooner? Check it out for yourself!


An Impressive Outing for the Irish Offense

Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees (11) passes against Air Force in the first quarter of an NCAA football game in Air Force Academy, Colo., Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
[] Notre Dame met the Air Force Falcons on Saturday, the 30th meeting between the two teams in the last fifty years, most of them ending in a similar outcome, a Notre Dame victory. And this meeting was no different. While the results of this series may be lopsided, a program like Air Force built on service and honor always has a chance. The 2013 Falcon squad, however, was no match up for Notre Dame’s impressive offensive showing.

Coming into the game there was some talk that the altitude and oxygen level would hinder the Irish performance but there were no such issues.

Tommy Rees opened the game with big passes to Troy Niklas (11 yards) and TJ Jones (11 yards). Jones currently is the leading receiver for the Irish and now has receptions in 35 consecutive games. Notre Dame put together an impressive initial offensive drive but was eventually stalled by the Falcons and then had an unsuccessful field goal attempt which was blocked by the Falcons. At this point it looked as though it was going to be a long day for the Irish.

When your offense gets the ball first and fails to score your coaching staff needs to quickly readjust their strategy and regroup. After watching the Air Force offense take over, march down the field and score on their first drive, the Notre Dame offense came out determined and ready to show Notre Dame nation what in their core.

After an Air Force penalty which aided the second Irish drive Tommy Rees, under pressure from the Falcon defense, quickly released a touchdown bomb to Corey Robinson. The 6’4” Robison had no problem going up and grabbing Rees’ pass which was perfectly placed in the end zone. This pass was Tommy’s 16th touchdown pass of the season. The Irish very quickly answered the Falcon’s first touchdown with this very quick five play drive. This was the first collegiate touchdown for Robinson out of San Antonio, Texas.

The Falcons could not answer this Irish touchdown on their next drive and so the Irish got right back to work on offense. DaVaris Daniels had a big catch early on in the drive and George Atkinson III started to get his running legs tuned up. At the end of the first quarter the Irish and the Falcons were tied 7 -7.

To start the second quarter Rees came out all guns firing with a big pass to Jones, and then on the very next play a huge bomb to William Fuller for the second Irish touchdown of the game, Fuller’s first collegiate score. The Irish may have had a slow start, but nothing seemed to be stopping them as they scored their second touchdown of the game. Early in the second quarter Rees was already 11 for 13 in pass completions for 166 yards and two touchdowns. Notre Dame’s second scoring drive consisted of 6 plays, for 91 yards consuming only 2:18 off the clock.  Fuller’s touchdown reception was 54 yards.

After an Air Force field goal the Irish offense returned to the field and literally hit the ground running. The possession began with an Atkinson 38 yard return giving the Irish great field position. Moving down the field Daniels caught a 28 yard pass to get the Irish down to the 21 yard line. This pass play was followed by a Tommy Rees touchdown pass to Ben Koyack. Rees was having a brilliant day, lighting up the Air Force defense. At this point Rees had completed 12 out of 15 passes for 215 yards.  With this touchdown Rees tied Ron Powlus on the all-time Notre Dame passing list and the Irish went up 21-10.

Yet again the Air Force offense had no response and the Irish got the ball back. The ridiculously photogenic Cam McDaniel took the ball first and got nine and a half yards on the first possession of this drive. Amir Carlisle then came in and pounded out the first down. This drive was not as electric as the previous drives had been and on 4th and 5 the Irish decided to go for it and not punt the ball. The gamble paid off for the Irish as Rees hits Troy Niklas for a nine yard gain and the first down. Tommy Rees had a few bumps in this drive, holding on to the ball at one point and ending up with a sack, but they still converted the drive into three more points on the board for the Irish with a Kyle Brindza field goal. This increased the Irish lead to 24-10.

During the game they flashed up Lou Holtz’s “How We Win” philosophy and once again we are reminded why we love Dr Lou so much.

  • Out hit
  • Fundamentals
  • Seven Areas: Turnovers, Big Plays, Missed Assignments, 3rd Downs, Foolish Penalties, Kicking Game, Red Zone
  • Togetherness
  • Don’t Flinch

Okay, I digress; back to the offense. At the end of the first half Tommy had 224 yard passing and at one point he had eight straight completions and three touchdowns. A fantastic first half appearance for Tommy Rees. (First half stats. Tommy Rees: 14/19, 224 yds, 3 TD, TJ Jones: 3 receptions for 59 yards.)

The Falcons began the second half with the ball but on their first drive the Air Force quarterback Nate Romine turned over the ball and the Notre Dame offense continued what they started in the first half. The drive began with several Cam McDaniel rushes and then Rees aired out a long ball to TJ Jones (30 yards) which was caught in the end zone for yet another Notre Dame touchdown.  It was a beautiful pass that Rees perfectly dropped into the corner of the end zone. Notre Dame successfully capitalized off the Air Force turnover and went up 31-10 in the third quarter.

Another unanswered possession by the Falcons gave the ball back to the Irish once again. Tommy Rees continued his mix of throwing the ball to his Irish receivers for big receptions as well as adding another component to the Irish running game with running back Tarean Folston. The drive culminated with yet another touchdown pass, this time to Chris Brown, Tommy Rees’ fifth touchdown of the game. (A career record for Rees.) This was Chris Brown’s first touchdown of the season and Notre Dame increased their lead to 38-10.

With a four touchdown lead the Irish brought in Andrew Hendrix to get him some more playing experience. On his first complete drive, the Irish took over possession at mid field. His first pass of the drive was a 46 yard long ball to William Fuller. What a great confidence booster for Hendrix! On the next play he keeps the ball and runs it in himself for the Irish touchdown. His first rushing touchdown of the season and the Irish moved to 44-10 over the Air Force Falcons. After a successful extra point the Fighting Irish move to a 45-10 lead which would be the final score of the game.

The Irish offense was dominating over the Falcons on Saturday. The statistics are quite impressive I must say. Here are a few notable statistics:

  • A school-record five different Notre Dame players (Corey Robinson, William Fuller, Ben Koyack, TJ Jones and Chris Brown) caught a touchdown pass today.
  • Notre Dame's 45 points today are its most since scoring 50 against Navy to open the 2012 season in Dublin.
  • Today's game was the first time that multiple ND freshmen (Robinson and Fuller) caught touchdown passes in the same game since Sept. 29, 2007 when Golden Tate and Duval Kamara caught touchdowns vs. Purdue.
  • The Irish did not turn the ball over today, improving to 13-0 under Brian Kelly in that scenario. ND has won all 13 of those games. It is the second time that Notre Dame has not turned the ball over this season, joining the season opener against Temple.
  • Eight different ND players caught a pass today, matching the squad's season high.
  • Rees set a career high with five touchdown passes. He previously threw four against Air Force in 2011 and Tulsa in 2010.

This was a great confidence booster for many of the young players on this Irish squad. I see a repeat of this next week versus Navy which gives the Irish a chance to continue to fine tune their craft on their journey to some tough games on the horizon (BYU and Stanford are worrisome in my eyes.)

What say you? Did this offensive performance give us false hopes for the rest of this season or is this team really starting to gel and work together?


Friday, October 25, 2013

Solutions for Busy Moms

Smartphone Car Holder for Busy Moms on the Go!

Cars these days seem to have a spot for you to place everything … your soda, spare coins, sunglasses … well, except for your smartphone. There is never a convenient place to put your phone where it is safe, secure and easy to reach when you need it. It always ends up sliding all over the car or is buried in your purse where you can’t reach it. And trust me, (you all know) I love my car, but there is no good place in my car for me to set my phone.

And then I found the MobiValet iPhone car mount.

This is the best smartphone car mount I’ve ever seen. It is easy to mount in your car and makes your smartphone easily accessible and safe to reach. And no, you shouldn’t be talking on your phone when you’re driving, but let’s face it … sometimes it cannot be avoided.

Check out how easy it is to install!

After selecting a spot on your console, use provided alcohol swab to clean off any dust or "shiny stuff" you use to make your console look good. (Allow 1 minute to dry.)

Step One
Peel off adhesive backing.

Step Two
Attach pressing "firmly" against console.

Step Three
In addition to being easy to install, the adhesive won’t damage your car either. If you need to remove the adhesive, it will not leave any "residue" on your console. MobiValet uses a specially designed acrylic adhesive that has a specific application for use in automobiles. There is no residue left behind upon removal of the adhesive.

Its attractive style is a bonus, too. I don’t want some cheap plastic looking thing in my car. I’m not just a Mom on-the-go, but a business woman as well. I need to keep my car looking nice for those last minute business lunches. The MobiValet is very sharp looking and it keeps my phone within reach at all times. 

Another unique design feature of the MobiValet is the ability to charge your phone while it is safely in the MobiValet car mount. In designing the MobiValet they lowered both side walls so that the majority of smartphones can be inserted into the holder WITHOUT having to first unplug the AC power charger! This is perfect for me as I’m always charging my smartphone, especially when I’m in the car!

Okay, so don’t just take my word for it, check out the MobiValet smartphone mount for yourself! You’re going to love it … I promise!


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Feel the Passion

Notre Dame may not have beat SC in convincing fashion last weekend, but I did happen to witness two of the most passionate speeches that I have seen in quite some time. One at the Pep Rally Friday night (Coach Holtz) ... and one pre/during/post game (Coach Kelly). Did you miss them? Here ... I've got your hook up!

What are you passionate about?

Tell them to pack a sandwich ...

We play for each other ...


Sunday, October 20, 2013

It's a Long, Drawn Out, Convoluted, Tell-Tale Story

Notre Dame Sunrise (Photo: Matt Cashore)
Moving Day

Well, due to some unfortunate circumstances, the blog has moved.

You will no longer find us at

You can now find us at ... or always at

Please bookmark it so you don't lose us!

And hey ... how about that win over USC?



Where Are They Now? Courtney Watson

Courtney Watson at practice (Photo: AP Photo)
[] Being a student-athlete at Notre Dame is no easy feat. Just the rigors of class alone are enough to send students into fits of panic, not to mention finding time for practice, time in the weight room, training table, travel and games. However, Notre Dame seems to draw the caliber of individuals who shine under this special brand of pressure. Courtney Watson was just this sort of student-athlete. Not only did he excel both on and off the field, he also spent an entire year serving on the student senate, representing his dorm Zahm Hall, as well as shining on the courts of Bookstore Basketball. Courtney had the chance to sit down with me this week and reminisce about his time at Notre Dame and where life has taken him after football. And without further ado ... Courtney Watson!

Q: Growing up in Sarasota, Florida, how did you end up playing football at Notre Dame and not at a school near home?

A: "I wasn’t really interested in playing football at Notre Dame until I met Coach Urban Meyer. The only things I knew about ND were gold helmets and Touchdown Jesus. Coach Meyer took me through an education process of what Notre Dame is all about from the time I met him until the time I got up there. Being from Florida, where a ton of kids go on to play football for a school in the state or at an SEC school, I decided to take a leap of faith and follow the opportunity that I was being offered by Notre Dame. I let my academics and football skills take me somewhere I normally would not have gone."

"I played both football and basketball in high school so I made my recruiting visit to Notre Dame while the students were on winter break and barely anyone was on campus. My student host was Tony Fisher and I also spent time with Terrance Howard, Brock Williams and Jabari Holloway."

"I really hit it off with the guys on my recruiting visit. We were similar in a lot of ways. They told me that if I came to Notre Dame I would get a great college experience, that I would be pushed academically to achieve success in the classroom, and that unlike many other schools the athletes were not separated from the rest of the student body. This was a big selling point for me but I didn’t completely realize this until I was a student at ND. By not spending all of your time with other football players you gain so many more collegiate experiences. You get a chance to make lifelong friends outside of this little bubble of football. That’s very rare at most big-time football schools. I was able to sit around my dorm, make friends with people who were different from me, from different parts of the country. They were interested in me and I was interested in them and they truly inspired me."

Q: What is your best Notre Dame football memory?

A: "Wait, I have to pick one?" (laughs)

"Off the top of my head the first thing that comes to mind is when I got to speak at the pep rally before the Michigan game (it was either my fifth year or my senior year). At the time I was on the student senate and my Zahm Hall guys were seated front and center at the pep rally. They all made signs with my head shot from the football program on them. There were 50 or 60 of them chanting “Senator Watson” through the whole pep rally…no matter who was speaking (including through Coach Willingham’s speech). Until it was my turn to speak, of course, and then they got quiet."

"On the field my favorite memory would have to be playing (and beating) Florida State in Tallahassee. Being from Florida I had a ton of family and friends at the game and I also had an interception. To play that well, to beat FSU at home, that was such a high for me and for the whole team. There were very few games that I remember being nervous before, having butterflies, and not being able to control my emotions -- this was one of those games."

Q: What was it like playing for Bob Davie? Tyrone Willingham? 

Courtney Watson tackles Michigan tailback Chris Perry.
A: "The biggest difference that I noticed between the two coaches was their management styles."

"Coach Willingham was a delegator. His management style was looking at the big picture. He let his coaches do more of the teaching and day-to-day instruction. Once he and his staff decided on the game plan for the week and what we were going to be taught, he was a “macro” manager. Coach Willingham understood that there was much more to being Notre Dame’s head football coach than the day-to-day coaching."

"Coach Davie was more of an Xs and Os guy. He was very hands on in the everyday process. Because of Coach Davie’s style of “micro” managing there was a lot of back and forth and changes made to the game plan during the course of the week. Sometimes when you micromanage like that you can get tunnel vision on certain things and forget about everything else that needs to be done. Coach Davie was one of those mad scientist type of guys. You could lock him in a room for 12 hours and what he’d emerge with would be nothing short of brilliant. 

However, what happens when you have such tunnel vision is you lose focus on everything else that is going on. Coach Davie didn’t want to deal with all of the global head coaching responsibilities -- all he wanted to do was coach football. Unfortunately there is much more to the job than just that."

"They were both able to get results. They just each went about it very differently."

Q: Can you talk about your bookstore basketball success?

A: "I participated in the Bookstore Basketball tournament for three years. My team won the tournament twice and we made it to the final four three times. To my knowledge I am the only scholarship athlete that can say they won it twice. Carlisle Holiday and Justin Tuck were both Division I basketball recruits (in addition to football) out of high school and neither one of them can say that. I loved playing bookstore basketball. I loved playing basketball growing up, even more so than playing football probably. I quit football for a while in high school to focus on basketball until my coach (who coached both teams) told me that I was an idiot and that I needed to go back and play football."

"Basketball was always my first love. I always played on a bookstore basketball team with guys in my dorm. It was never a super team, but we played all year round and had a really great time. We played a lot of pickup games at the Joyce Center together. It was really important to me to go out and play with the guys that I lived with. We built a great camaraderie living and playing ball together. Bookstore basketball is such a remarkable thing -- I love how the student body comes out to support all of the teams. It was a great way to end spring football and celebrate the arrival of spring on campus. I always explain to people how our dorms acted as our fraternities and sororities on campus."

Q: Can you talk about your role as a Zahm senator?

A: "Prior to moving into Zahm Hall I heard a lot of bad stories about the dorm from some of the upperclassmen on the football team, but I absolutely loved living in Zahm. I loved my roommates. The guys were crazy and completely nuts -- probably because everyone said the guys who lived in Zahm were crazy and nuts and they were trying to live up to the reputation. You know, the day before first semester finals start, the guys run through LaFortune and the second floor of the library wearing, um, bells. Yeah, those are Zahm guys. Not only were they crazy, but they voted for me to be their student senate representative."

"The year they voted me to the student senate they had a legitimate candidate -- he had posters, gave speeches, was on the ballot. Then two days before the election my buddies convinced me to run. We got a bull horn and walked around the night before the voting and told people to vote for me/write my name in on the ballot…and I won. Those crazy Zahm guys!"

Q: Tell us what it was like to be on the student senate?

A: "I’m not sure I realized going into it how much of a time commitment was required of you when you were on the student senate. We would meet every Tuesday. There was one person from every dorm on the senate, plus a president, vice president, and secretary. It was my job to represent what the guys from Zahm wanted from the different issues that the student senate was discussing. It was really cool. I would do a weekly meeting in the dorm to tell them what we talked about at the last senate meeting and what was up for discussion at the one. It was really fun and I wished I could have done it again but time wise it was tough."

"Tuesday was our long day of football practice and in order for me to go to the senate meetings I would have to miss part of the team meeting and the first part of practice. Coach Willingham was okay with that for one year but I didn’t want to push my luck beyond that. It was an amazing experience. It was nice to be part of something bigger and to see how the student senate went about getting things accomplished. All of the student activities on campus that are not sponsored by a specific group – they are all put on by the student senate. At first I had no idea they did so much. I really got to see the inner workings of what happens on campus."

Q: Can you compare the highs of 2002 with the lows of 2003?

A: "They are very similar for me. When you have those highs, you try to keep everything in check, so it is really not that high. And the same goes for the lows. You try to take everything in stride, regardless of how good or bad it’s all going, and you work hard every day to get even better. You are always focusing on the next year. The next season.

But at the same time, to have those highs and to have them at Notre Dame…that was incredible. I’d rather have those highs at Notre Dame than anywhere else. I haven’t been there in almost ten years, and we didn’t win a national championship, but the teams I played on are remembered as if they had played for a championship. At most other schools you don’t get remembered unless you won a championship. We didn’t realize at the time that our team was going to go down in Notre Dame history. It made me incredibly proud this past season when they compared our team to the 2012 team -- they compared me to Manti Te’o. We are considered one of the great all time defenses at ND."

Q: How do you remember your NFL draft?

A: "My NFL draft wasn’t supposed to be very stressful, but of course, it was. It didn’t need to be, but it was self-inflicted. We had a good idea as to what round I was going to be drafted in, just not which team. I had family over to the house and I was feeling pretty comfortable. For me it was going to be a celebration regardless of where I went. It started out mostly as family being with me watching the draft but as the day wore on more and more people came over. I knew I wasn’t going to be drafted in the first round. There was a chance that I would be drafted in the middle to end of the second round but more likely at some point in the third."

Stay tuned for more in the
“Where are they now?” series!
"The problem was that myself and my agent thought I would go ahead of certain other linebackers, so when people like Boss Bailey and Teddy Lehman came off the board before me my mood started to change. I really thought that I would go before them and they were coming off the board much earlier than we had anticipated. It was another 20 picks before I was drafted. That was only about an hour time difference but it seemed like a week."

"You had to submit two different phone numbers for the draft and so I had two phones sitting in front of me. It got to the point where I had people checking to make sure the phones were working. I was sure that there must be something wrong with my phones. I was frustrated and completely distraught. I went into the back room and just closed the door. I had to separate myself from what was going on. Calm down. Talk myself back into reality. When the phone rang I ran out to get the phone and it was Jim Haslett from the Saints telling me they were going to draft me, and then I heard everyone out in the front room screaming because it was at the bottom of the TV screen. My Dad and Mom and my aunts all jumped on top of me on the bed. It was a great feeling."

Q: What was it like playing in the NFL? 

A: "The low for me was not the first time I got cut, but the second time I got cut, because at that point I pretty much knew that was it, that my NFL career was over. You don’t get much lower than that."
"The highs? Every game that I was able to go out there and play, to do what I had wanted to do my entire life -- that was a high for me. I’m not a person who gets all jacked up before a game, but to have that feeling, to know this is what it’s like to accomplish a lifetime goal, that was huge. Every time we went to a new city, a new locker room…every Sunday was better than the Sunday before. Those feelings were just the best feelings for me. It was the entire experience. There are only a select group of people who can say they graduated from Notre Dame and went on to play in the NFL -- I am in that select group."

Q: What was it like to play for the Saints post-Katrina?

A: "Post-Katrina was crazy. It was tough because a lot of people don’t remember that you couldn’t even get back into the city after the hurricane hit. Even if you didn’t have any damage to your material things you couldn’t even get back in to get them."

"First you couldn’t get in to the city at all. Then they were letting people in but only during the day time. Very quickly we realized, even though they were letting people back in, the city should not be open at all. There was no trash pickup. They had curfews set up to help prevent looting and vandalism. Marshall Law was in place. The National Guard was there, armed, sitting on top of Humvees. Gangs were fighting for territory. There were shootings every day. The NFL sends us back there and we had to live like that. I was renting in New Orleans and my home was in Florida so I had to find a new place to rent in a decent area…which just didn’t exist. There was just random crime all the time."

"The NFL and the Saints did a great job at putting a band-aid on the dome but the city was in absolute chaos. It was very sobering to see. It was an experience like no other. It was sad to see how many people not only lost everything they owned, but loved ones, too. The whole experience was crazy. You could go weeks at a time and it would not come up…but even now, every time it comes up, it completely takes me back there and I can remember it vividly."

Q: Where did life take you after football?

A: "During my first year after I was cut from the NFL I pretty much worked out in the hopes that someone would pick me up. I tried to stay in shape and showcase my talents but no one expressed any interest in bringing me back to the game. I didn’t want to do that for two or three years. After one year I knew it was really over. There are always younger guys coming out of college who can do it faster, better, and cheaper. So at that point I knew I was truly retired."

"I didn’t really know what I wanted to do post-football. I planned on playing in the NFL for ten more years than what I did so I was not prepared for the transition into my next career. While I was playing in the NFL I had opened a restaurant back in Florida. My dad was running it and I was just kind of helping out, but I knew I wanted to do more than that."

"I ran into a few guys I went to high school with who were firefighters and one friend who was a fire chief and decided I wanted to learn more about what it took to be one. I signed up for the academy to see if it was something that I wanted to do. I knew I had a great degree from Notre Dame but I didn’t want to have a 9-5 job, that just wasn’t for me. The further along I got in the academy the more I knew this was where I belonged. I loved the crazy schedule. I loved being outside, working with the guys as a team. I really took to it and have not looked back since."

"I finished the academy and some medical schooling as well … it took me a year to finish the academy and I got hired by a fire house within three weeks. I started in July of 2009 and just celebrated four years here. I love it. It’s been the best decision that I’ve made since my decision to go to Notre Dame. I get to use my business degree as I move up the ranks and my schedule allows me to do side work as well."

"In addition to my work with the firehouse I speak to kids and sports teams and help out with their clinics here in the area. I have also developed a successful personal training business. I train young people/athletes, as well as doing personal training for individuals who are looking to get in better shape. My schedule allows me to do a lot of different things. I can give back to the community while I further my career. One of my long-term goals is to get more minorities into civil services -- both firefighting and the police. Where I grew up you were either really smart and went to college, or you really didn’t have any direction regarding your future. You don’t have to go to college to go into civil service. It’s a really good thing for kids who either can’t afford to go to college or don’t feel like college is a good fit for them. I want to create awareness within minority groups to the opportunities available to them in civil service. It’s a great way to have a career and be able to give back to your community."

"There is a lot of carryover from football to the police department and firefighting. Instead of being in a locker room you are in a fire station, but you still have to work together as a team, and you still need to be prepared for the situations you are going to face before you face them. You have to already know how you are going to react. Especially in dangerous situations, if you are not prepared, a life or death situation could go wrong very quickly. For those of us who played sports, we have developed a skill set that works very well in this sort of career – that’s a skill set that many people don’t have."

Q: What was it like being a student-athlete at Notre Dame? How did being a student-athlete at Notre Dame prepare you for life after college?

A: "Being a student-athlete at Notre Dame is quite a challenge. If you cannot manage your time well you will not succeed in the classroom or on the field. I’ve heard from talking to other guys who I played with in the NFL that they felt the NFL demanded so much of our time. If you don’t come from a place such as Notre Dame where that is the norm, you are going to struggle."

"At Notre Dame you are taking a real class schedule with your peers who are very smart. 85% of my classes are legit classes that everyone else had to take. You have to manage class, practice, games, media request. You’ve got to eat and try to have a social life, too. Notre Dame taught me how to juggle all of the demands that were put upon my time.

Being a red shirt freshman was great for me. I knew I was not going to play that first year, but that if I showed up on time and worked out I would have chances. That year gave me an opportunity to transition into school and the rigors of Notre Dame. If I had been like Julius Jones or Gerome Sapp and have played as a true freshman it would have been a lot more difficult for me. I took the year to learn about myself, about being away from home, and how the system worked. I got myself into a groove and was more than ready to play the following year."

"My freshman year in Zahm, each section had a flag football team. The games were at night during the week and I played in every flag football game with my freshman section. This helped me stay in shape while I was red-shirted. What I learned is that when there are so many demands on your time, when you actually have some free time, you should do your best to fill it with something you like to do. When you have a free hour, take advantage of that free hour and use it well because you never know when you’re going to have another one."

"As a red shirt freshman, I went from being a starter in high school to being a whipping boy and stuck on the sideline at Notre Dame. Playing flag football with my Zahm dorm mates gave me an opportunity to be out on the field and having some fun playing football which is all I ever wanted to do!"

Q: What advice would you give current student athletes?

A: "Try to get engaged in non-football activities while you are in school. It is a great chance to go out and meet people who will become lifelong friends. There is more to life than just football. Mingle, meet people who can support you in the non-football aspects of your life. Take advantage of all opportunities put in front of you in college. Get engaged and be involved."

"I worked in the Zahm hall cafeteria on Sunday nights cooking pizza and selling soda. It was awesome to be an integral part of the dorm and have a chance to really meet and get to know people. I went to college to get an experience and I wanted to take advantage of everything I possibly could."

I’d like to give a big thank you to Courtney for stopping by the blog. It was an absolute pleasure to walk through his journey with him. Stay tuned for many more great stories in the “Where are they now?” series!
If you enjoy these “Where are they now?” pieces, please check out my new book: “Echoes From the End Zone: The Men We Became.”


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Will Rick Mirer Someday Coach At Notre Dame?

Rick Mirer, former Seattle Seahawk Quarterback
Story by Alex Strouf

I was lucky enough to exchange a couple questions-and-answers with the #2 pick in the 1992 NFL Draft, Rick Mirer. Here's how the interview went.

Alex Strouf: You were drafted second overall 20 years ago ('93). What was the coolest thing about the draft experience?

Rick Mirer: I decided not to go to NY for the draft so I could spend the time with my family. I'm really glad I did it that way. What a day.

AS: You played for several teams over the course of your career. What was that experience like? Is there a favorite? 

RM: It was a little more moving around than I planned on, but all the stops have a story. I loved the first couple of years in Seattle with Tom Flores. What a gentleman. Green Bay was unique, San Francisco and Oakland were much easier on my growing family. I met great people all along the way.

AS: Are you happy with the way your career ended, or did you wish to stick with one team throughout your career?

RM: I'm satisfied in the fact that I stopped on my own terms. I played 12 years and woke up one day and said, that's it. It was time to stop moving and I have never regretted the decision.

AS: What's the post-NFL life like?

RM: Post football life is interesting. Quickly everything became about family which I love. Then it became time to find something to do. I have done many different things to help grow my Mirer Family Foundation, coached several years of youth football,  and I started Mirror Napa Valley in 2008. Never a dull moment.

AS: I recently saw that you coach Pop Warner football. Is there any chance you get back to your old stomping grounds of Notre Dame?

RM: Actually, coaching at Notre Dame has crossed my mind. The idea of going back intrigues me in certain ways. I miss being challenged weekly with game plans and opponents. I think I could help Brian Kelly in a variety of ways. Who knows? 

Who knows is right! That was an awesome interview experience, and I would personally love to see Rick go over to Notre Dame and join the coaching staff. Special thanks to Rick Mirer for making this happen. You can donate to the Mirer Family Foundation HERE and check out Mirror Wine Company HERE.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Help Oscar McBride and "Fit 4 Life Youth Foundation" | The Men We Became Raffle

In honor of BEAT USC week I'd like to help out the Irish Player Charities charity of the month, Oscar McBride's "Fit 4 Life Youth Foundation."

Fit4Life Youth Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation founded with the immediate goal of combating America’s fastest growing health epidemic – childhood obesity.
Statistics illustrate the breadth of this epidemic, its negative health consequences, and its cost to Americans. Fit4Life is proud to join this battle and become a leader in the fight by offering programs to get our youth moving towards a healthier lifestyle.
One of the most critical factors in combating the epidemic of obese and overweight children is meeting the challenge of getting our kids to exercise more.  Part of this process requires organizations such at Fit4Life to offer fun and inspiring, yet challenging exercise programs that will engage and encourage our children toward a lifetime of fitness.  This process also requires instruction and education to balance proper nutrition with the appropriate level of fitness.
By offering a variety of programs, Fit4Life hopes to reach all youth.   No one is immune to the economic and societal consequences brought on by the multitude of health conditions suffered due to childhood obesity. Childhood obesity is an epidemic, one that does not discriminate.  It touches all of us.
Beyond physical fitness programs, Fit4Life also seeks to educate its participants on the importance of education, character and leadership development through its mentorship programs which use sport, culture and positive life experiences as the relational platform. Please visit our Programs and Headlines pages to see our most recent endeavors. 

To help Oscar's foundation I am holding a raffle this week. The winning entry will win a copy of "The Men We Became" signed by:

Tony Rice - 88 Championship Team
Pat Terrell - 88 Championship Team
John Foley - 88 Championship Team
Marv Russell - 73 Championship Team
Rick Mirer - Class of 93
Reggie Brooks - Class of 93
Oscar McBride - Class of 94

To enter the raffle please donate $10 to my paypal account through along with your name and contact information.

On Saturday morning, October 19th I will draw one lucky winner who will win a signed copy of the book.

All proceeds will be donated to Oscar's "Fit 4 Life Youth Foundation."

Thank you in advance for your support and GO IRISH!