The Training & Blogging Begins

Posted in Sports with tags , , on June 6, 2012 by Once Unwanted Girl

The Training & Blogging Begins

I must admit that I have been a little out of touch with the blogging world the last month but I am here to say that I AM BACK and ready to go!

Friday June 1: I began the mental preparation for my new diet and work out plan. Monday

June 4: I really began the diet and workout plan.

By Wednesday June 6: I am working with a trainer and doing some intro CrossFit stuff which is pretty insane if you have never done it before. It will kick your butt in a good way and leave you coming back for more!

Now that you all know how serious I am about getting in shape and reinventing my very poor diet and workout habits, you are probably wondering why I am so determined to whip my butt into shape. Well, I am hoping to compete in a fitness bikini competition in either September or October of 2012.

In addition, I am young and in my prime so there really is no reason for me to have any body fat at my age because one day the weight gain will be inevitable and out of my control. However, today and now I have no excuse to be out of shape. It’s all a matter of mental toughness and pushing yourself to the limits. I want to feel good knowing that I work out hard and am maintaining my tip top shape! Most of all I want to feel healthy and have energy.

I must say goodnight and sweet dreams! I have to head to the gym early so I must hit the sack now. Go onto my blog tomorrow evening because I look forward to sharing my Ryan Clark interview with you guys in my post “The Man Behind the Steelers Uniform.”

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This May Sound Like A Big Contradiction, But…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 16, 2012 by Once Unwanted Girl

By: Ashley B. (Sports Chat Fanatic Writer)

As a University of North Carolina fan, it is often difficult for me to acknowledge anything positive about Duke University, especially their basketball program. However, over the course of the years, I have come to learn about and respect head coach Mike Krzyzewski for the way he can lead his team through both the good times and bad. My entire life my family has always instilled in me to be a leader, not a follower. “If you keep up with the crowd, you only get as far as the crowd,” my grandmother would always tell me. I started to fall in love with basketball (see earlier blog post) around the same time my grandmother felt the need to remind me more than usual about being a leader (something about being in high school and being faced with difficult choices). I constantly observed Coach K’s body language and mannerisms both on the court and during halftime and post-game interviews and decided that I needed to know more about this charismatic man. That was almost seven years ago, and today my admiration is only more intense.

 

Mike Krzyzewski [pronounced Sha-shef-ski] is one of the most notable athletic leaders in both professional and collegiate sports. After resigning from military commission in 1974, he began his coaching career as a graduate assistant for Bob Knight at Indiana University. Knight was Krzyzewski’s head basketball coach at West Point and is credited with helping to mold the strong leader we see on the court today.  Next, he took his first head coaching job at his alma mater in 1975 where he won Coach of the Year honors from two separate organizations.  In 1980 Krzyzewski landed the position he still holds today as the head men’s basketball coach at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. In 2005 he was named head coach of the US National Men’s basketball team and won his third Olympic gold medal at the 2008 Beijing games. The national team has a record of 35-1 under Coach Krzyzewski and is looking forward to the summer games this year. As a sport management major, it is easy for me to say that Mike Krzyzewski is the leader I aspire to be most like for his winning record and ability to transform young men from high school standouts to professional basketball players. However, there are many layers to the man known simply as “Coach K” that make him my leadership idol.

 

“I don’t look at myself as a basketball coach…

I look at myself as a leader who happens to coach basketball.”

 

All of Coach K’s teams are centered on five fundamental components: communication, trust, collective responsibility, caring, and pride. “I like to think of each as a separate finger on the fist. Any one individually is important. But all of them together are unbeatable,” he has said. These qualities are not only important to an athletic team, but in the business world as well. Genuinely caring about your mission and taking pride in completing it with integrity is something I believe every human being should be focused on during the course of their career. Trusting your team to have your back and to be honest with you at all times is vital to success. Even if a coworker or teammate does not agree with something you have said or done, having the confidence in each other to know that the lines of communication are always open will lead to a solution that perhaps neither of you would have seen otherwise. Collective responsibility is crucial to any business in order to avoid playing the blame game if a plan does not go accordingly. Putting others down, in business or in basketball, does not help any situation improve. It is best to acknowledge any wrongdoings on your own part and focus on ways to avoid them and improve for your next project or game. I admire Coach Krzyzewski’s consistency in the way he leads his teams both on and off the court.

 

Mike Krzyzewski has said that occasionally during practices he will let his assistant coaches take the reins so that players have the opportunity to learn from all perspectives of his staff. Even though the assistants may be repeating the message he was trying to convey, listening to a different voice helps players grasp the concept better, which leads to team improvement. Krzyzewski sees everyone he comes in contact with as an individual and looks to bring out the best in them so that they may bring out the best in the other people around them.  I hope to emulate this practice in my future career. My goal is to be an athletic director at the collegiate level, so where Coach Krzyzewski is today and where I hope to be in the next ten years are not that far apart. During my time as an intern at a junior college I witnessed the importance of trusting your colleagues and allowing everyone equal time to shine. Believing that you are the only person on your team who knows best and not allowing others to contribute is detrimental to the well being of that team. Regardless of the national attention he received for becoming just the fifth coach in college basketball history to win 800 games at one university, Coach Krzyzewski was fast to share the credit with everyone on his staff. When Coach K set the record with 900 wins at Madison Square Garden, countless former players were there to celebrate with him. I hope to one day be even remotely successful in comparison to Coach K, just so that I may have the opportunity to thank all of the people who helped me get there the same way that he has.

 

Playing sports provides a different opportunity for every participant. Whether the athlete sees being involved as a way to avoid doing their homework for a few hours or as something more serious such as a way to escape from a troubled home life, understanding their motives is the most important step to successfully guiding them towards their goals. I am an assistant cheerleading coach for a team of seven to ten year old females. In my first year I had to quickly realize what Krzyzewski has known for years: that being firm and fair may work in getting some members of the team to focus and work harder, but other members of the team may misinterpret your message and feel put down by it. Evolving as a leader and altering your style when the situation requires it is something I learned to master over the course of my coaching career. Another amazing leadership quality I see in Coach K (and one that I have embedded in my own style) is his balance between acting as a coach and as a friend, and his ability to recognize when his team needs a particular side to shine through. Taking the time to learn about the core values of a person and always being emotionally, not just physically, available for communication is what I believe the foundation of Duke’s success to be.

 

Choosing a career in coaching is choosing a lifetime dedicated to helping people reach their potential while teaching them the value of teamwork and responsibility. On top of coaching both collegiate and world-championship teams, Krzyzewski hosts a conference on leadership for business professionals, holds camps for basketball enthusiasts of all ages, and oversees the Emily Krzyzewski Family LIFE Center. “The Emily K Center,” as it is known to locals in Durham, North Carolina, is an after-school program whose mission is to help disadvantaged youth and their families in the community realize their potential through the motto Dream. Do. Achieve. Students in elementary and middle schools are a part of the Pioneer Scholars program and have a focus on academic and self-confidence fundamentals. Once in high school, students continue their progress in the Scholars to College portion of the Emily K Center curriculum. Harnessing leadership skills and making students realize that they do have the power to make their dreams come true are the main goals of the counselors and tutors at the center. Coach K has credited the community center in his hometown of Chicago, Illinois as being a place that helped him feel welcome in a part of town that was not always friendly to the Polish-American community, and he hopes that the Emily K Family LIFE Center will continue to provide the same feeling for the hundreds of youth it serves every day.

 

There are many other reasons I admire Mike Krzyzewski as a person, not just as a leader, that could constitute another post all together. The manner in which he treats his family, past players, and colleagues in both the sport and business worlds is one of respect, honesty, and humility. He is not only the leader of a basketball team, but of a large family as well, whom he includes in all aspects of his life whether they are basketball-related or otherwise. As I stated earlier, I am planning to have a career in athletics, and there are few leaders besides Coach Krzyzewski who are worthy of being admired for their leadership style. As I continue to grow as a person and as a leader, I will carry with me all of the wisdom he has shared with the world through his books and television interviews.

 

“During the season, your team should be led with exuberance and excitement. You should live the journey. You should live it right. You should live it together. You should live it shared. You should try to make one another better. You should get on one another if somebody’s not doing their part. You should hug one another when they are. You should be disappointed in a loss and exhilarated in a win. It’s all about the journey.”

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1bhSqg2CyM

Everything Happens For a Reason with a Little Bit of Luck

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on April 26, 2012 by Once Unwanted Girl

The 2012 NFL Draft has finally arrived and in honor of this day I wanted to take a further look into Andrew Luck the All American Stanford QB and the fabulous Baylor player RG3 a.k.a Robert Griffin III.  These two individuals have been blowing up the internet scene the last 3 months and will be the top two draft picks for this 2012 NFL Draft! Not only are these young men exceptional football players but they are quite bright and put the jock stereotype to shame.

 After seeing Luck at the Walter Camp weekend in New Haven I was very impressed with his demeanor and attitude not to mention his ability to play some football.  Even though Luck was projected to be the #1 draft pick in 2011 he put the opportunity on hold and returned to Stanford for his redshirt junior season and to finish his degree in Engineering and Architectural Design. Kudos to this young man for avoiding the temptation of the money and game to obtain his degree thus enabling him to have an opportunity for success outside football should anything ever happen to prevent him from playing.  At Stanford Luck was the first freshman to be the starting Quarterback since 1996 and had 2,929 yards of total offense which is the 5 highest numbers in Stanford History.

Now on to the next one, RG3 began playing football for Baylor and started 11 out of 12 games his freshman year. He also received Big 12 honors from the league’s coaches quite impressive for such a young player.  In 2009, RG3 suffered an isolated ACL injury and was unable to play the remainder of the season.  Sometimes a knee injury can really upset a player’s future but RG3 was unhindered by this injury and quickly bounced back. He won the Heisman trophy December 2011 and set the record for first ever Baylor player to receive this prestigious award.  He made the decision to forgo his final year of college football eligibility for the NFL draft. He graduated with a degree in Poli Sci and a 3.67 GPA and began a MBA in Communications.  In addition to the Heisman, RG3 also won the Manning Award and the O’Brien Award among several other high achievements.

These two individuals are no joke and will do big things for the Colts and Redskins! Here’s to the 2012 NFL season thank goodness that September is quickly approaching and congrats to all the draft picks everything happens for a reason!!

Here’s to 100 Years of Boston History!

Posted in Sports with tags , , , , , , on April 15, 2012 by Once Unwanted Girl

Here's to 100 Years of History!

Not only is there reason to celebrate in Boston for the 100th Birthday of Fenway but a man by the name of Bill Hogan, Bostonian and Boston sport fanatic, will be turning 100 years old as well! This is quite exciting because that is a lot of years of being a sports fan and I find Hogan’s b-day more exciting than Fenway’s since I am a Yankees/Pirates fan ( : . Regardless April 14, 2012, was quite the day to celebrate and the Sox won 13-5!

Happy B-day Bill and Fenway!!

Posted in Uncategorized on April 13, 2012 by Once Unwanted Girl

I swear I will be posting the interview ASAP.. my company FairfieldCoupon has been taking over my life in a good way!!

Sports Chat Fanatic

Yesterday was a very special day for me.  I had my first LIVE interview with a former NEW YORK GIANTS Defensive End in my hometown of Milford, CT!  It’s crazy that a year ago I was filming a silly video about my Pittsburgh Steelers from the comfort of my University of New Haven dorm room using my bootleg digital camera.  AND look at me now, I am recording in a legitimate studio thanks to my friend Gregory at Studio 95 Photographix! AND not only is the equipment fabulous but I had the opportunity to interview Leonard A. Marshall who played for the NY Giants for 10 seasons, the Redskins for 1 and the Jets for another year before retiring as a Giant!

It’s like Jessica Biel’s quote in Summer Catch “IF YOU WANT BIG REWARDS, YOU HAVE TO TAKE BIG RISKS.” This quote has always been a favorite…

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Practice Makes Perfect On and Off the Field

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on April 10, 2012 by Once Unwanted Girl

I have always been told, “(Amarie) if you want to be great and successful you have to work hard.” In addition to the latter it is important to know that Rome wasn’t builtin a day and you can’t always expect to be a CEO as soon as you start.

And when there aren’t any visible doors knock out a window and crawl through!

Working hard and paying your dues not only makes a successful person but generates an appreciation hard to find.  So kudos to my parents for telling me , a bratty 13 year old girl that I couldn’t have a sell phone like all of my spoiled peers at my all girl prep school (Lauralton Hall).  My dad looked me in the eye and said, ” if you want a phone you have to earn it” and told me “GET A JOB!”  “Dad a job???” I whined.NEWSFLASH I was under the legal working age so it was either a tag sale or  lemonade stand.  To curb my anxiety and depression, My parents told me

“(Amarie) if you want it bad enough you will get it.” The very next day I called Big Nonna’s Cheer N More a local shop near my house that I would always pass on my way home from school.  I figured I am a cheerleader I can sell cheer and sports stuff no problem.  I called up the store and asked if I could have a job.. the owner said “sure can you start tomorrow”. It was as easy as pie And I got my Kyocera phone.

I made a whopping $6 an hour under the table and became the second in comand and helped her run her store.  At 13 years old I was sending invoices to companies, placing orders, managing the register and running the store while the owner was out.  I can remember the satisfaction when I was able to hand my dad the money after a few weeks of working and ask him to take me to get my phone.  Ahhh Hard Work Feels So Good! Thanks Dad for teaching me independence and perseverance.

Lastly, my favorite is PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT!

After graduating last year, I feel as though I have obtained some serious wisdom and appreciation for my education.  Feel free to laugh at me all you older folks who are probably shaking your heads at this very moment BUT I MEAN IT!  I know all those years that my parents would ask me what I learned in school and I would simply reply NOTHING but I know that I really have learned SOMETHING and it is really humbling knowing that I am using my skills and knowledge to pave my own path to success.  So much has changed in the last year!  I always thought I was good at business and marketing but I have come to learn that I can only get better and thinking I am amazing at what I do is foolish and only leads to being a stagnant professional. Growth and challenging oneself is not only the key to success but maintaining one’s success.

I began Sports Chat Fanatic my last semester of college and never thought it would turn into much more than a few YouTube vids. I wanted to show my friends, family and future employers that I have the ability to brand myself and utilize social media to get across information and demonstrate my knowledge of marketing and sports.  Then after being fired from my less than satisfying temp job and depressed from the next 3 solid months of unemployment I was able to seize the day and look uncertainty in the eye and say “Bring it!”  I swallowed my pride and took a seasonal part time gig at Victoria’s Secret.  After slaving away at the pantie tables and fixing underwear that people so carelessly destroy ( deep down I think PURPOSELY throw all over the place); I found a marketing job listing on Craigslist.  At the time I was so excited to have a freelance project lined up and Thinking how  excited I would be to help him launch his new online coupon site in Fairfield County.

The first week of February I began work which would later turn into a full time thing and helping run the company and then running the New Haven County Region on my own.  Through my experiences I have come to the conclusion that not only does Practice pay off in the sports realm but in what I like to call the old grind a.k.a the real world.   If I had continued to be depressed and not look for any more jobs after so many rejections. I would still be sitting here wondering how I have a degree with no job. But I took a little risk and followed an opportunity that had no guarantee and now I am in charge of something that could potentially grow to be very big!  FairfieldCoupon.com is a great local deal site if you live in Connecticut and I am so blessed to be a part of this awesome start up! We have a local premise and strive to help the local mom & pop shops while giving back to the community.  It is so nice to be a part of a company that has values and ideals similar to my own. Hence, going to work feels good!

And even though PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT I am still learning something knew about business and marketing each and every day which is why I am not afraid to admit that I do not know all nor do I try and know everything.  Practice makes you better but it is important to strive for perfection so that way you are always continuing to learn and grow. “A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.”-John C. Maxwell

I would like to share a little personal story.  When I was in about 3rd grade I played soccer because I figured I was Hispanic and adopted so it would bring me closer to being Paraguayan.  I played for a local coach who also coached an AAU team.  The team I was on however was not on that level so my little porky asthmatic self felt safe playing and not being judged. Well as time went on my competitive coach would be very hard on us. Well, me in particular.  When I couldn’t keep up with things or would be 3 laps behind everyone he would just ignore me and have me continue to run or if I messed up a drill I would run.  I grew to hate soccer and dreaded going to practice and games. I ended up quitting soccer after that year and didn’t pick up a ball until my freshman year of college. Then my junior year of college I felt more comfortable playing and actually played semi-decent for a former pudge ball. I played indoor and outdoor and I had a great time.

Practice truly does make perfect and standing up once you have been knocked down feels so good once you can find the inner strength to do so.  So dust yourself off and put a smile on your face.  Life is full of surprises so Carpe Diem , Follow Your Dreams and Live the Life You Were Meant To Lead because you can be anything you want to be it only takes a little TIME and PRACTICE.

The Beginning of a Passion…College Basketball

Posted in Sports with tags , , , , , , on March 22, 2012 by Once Unwanted Girl

ImageBy: SCF Sports Write Ashley

When I was a freshman in high school, I knew little about college sports. At this point in my life I was mostly concerned with the NFL and was only starting to enjoy college football. I really had no interest in basketball at all, let alone the unknowns of the college ranks. Then I realized if I wanted to make friends with the kids from the other middle schools in my town, I had better learn about college basketball, and fast. I started to pay attention to the basketball segment on Sports Center at night to see if they highlighted anything I had overheard that day during school. I began to casually involve myself in conversations here and there when I was sure I wouldn’t look like a shmuck for messing any detail up. Over time I began to feel confident in my growing college basketball IQ. This is totally embarrassing to admit, and realizing that these guys might be reading this blog right now is both scary and liberating, but I’m continuing on

because I promised I would always be honest…

Over the course of those few weeks I had began to pay extra attention to the University of North Carolina because that seemed to be the favorite among the group I was trying to befriend.  Watching Tyler Hansbrough and Ty Lawson were not reasons to turn away, might I add. Man were they fun to watch play! When the calendar turned to March and the NCAA tournament was fast approaching, however, conversations turned from friendly fan warfare to talks about money collections and handing in your brackets. I decided I wanted in. Even though I knew next to nothing about compared to these boys who had played basketball most of their lives, I figured what was $10 to prove that at least I was trying? So I handed in my bracket with only a certain level of confidence, as everyone who isn’t named Joe Lundari does, and hoped that UNC would win the national title. It wasn’t a difficult call to make so I didn’t win a lot of money out of that bracket challenge, but I felt I had earned some respect and that was my goal.

Now fast forward to my senior year of high school (2008-2009) and I am a full blown North Carolina fan. I have a Hansbrough Jersey, the Jordan sneakers to match, and every nationally televised game written in the same planner where I was keeping track of college visits and midterm exam schedules. If the Heels were on TV, my family knew not to disturb me. Over

the course of my high school years, I had turned into just as passionate of a college basketball fan as I was a New York Giants fan. This year when March Madness rolled around, I was ready. This time around I did two brackets, one of outcomes that I researched and statistically figured would happen, and the other of outcomes I wanted to happen based on any feel good story that surrounded a team, cool uniforms, underdogs, etc. I was confident in my picks my senior year of high school and while some of the guys I befriended our freshman year knew that I had an idea of what I was talking about, there were others in the pool that laughed when they found out I was in it to win it. At the end of every tournament game day there would be texts and Facebook messages to find out who was in the lead and at school the taunting of whoever made a bad pick was entertaining to be a part of.

I don’t remember exactly how the point system worked out, only that I needed the University of Connecticut to win in the Elite 8 (which they did) but not make it to the national championship game (they didn’t). The next thing I knew, I had won. I didn’t even need the championship game to be played, and had won the bracket challenge. I’ll never forget being at a family party and getting that text message from the boy holding everyone’s money letting me know. It was insanity. Of course a lot of people chose University of North Carolina to win it all, but the way I guessed the journey of the other teams was better than anyone else. Best. Feeling. Ever. Until of course I saw the looks on the faces of the boys involved in the pool who thought I didn’t know what I was doing when I filled out my bracket as I collected my money, then I lived a new Best. Feeling. Ever.

I suppose the moral of this story, how a girl from New Jersey ends up a die-hard UNC TarHeels fan, and falls in love with college basketball in the process, is to never doubt someone’s knowledge of subject simply because stereotypically they shouldn’t. Yes, the entry into my college basketball passion was a superficial one, but once I was in, I was, and still am, all in. I have learned to tone it down in recent years, having roommates will force a person to do that. To this day though, the emotion that comes with certain games or intriguing match ups cannot be suppressed.

So as the Sweet 16 kicks off this weekend, sick back and enjoy the ride. No need to worry about your bracket, Lehigh took care of that for you. Remember that these are 18-23 year old young men out there playing. As much as you think you’re a die-hard basketball fan, these players, that we bet on and criticize after every possession, love it even more. If they didn’t, why would they continue to play? Or even more importantly, put up with us?