Monday, March 28, 2011

A Visit with Friends

A little over a week ago, I had the chance to go see my brother at ONU.  Jeff was bringing a recruit back for a visit, so I took the opportunity to spend time with him while he was close.  What made it even more fun was that Brian Fish is now the head coach at ONU, so I got to hang out with an old roommate, too. 

I drove up Saturday morning and met Jeff during the recruiting visit.  We hung out and chatted during the campus tour and lunch.  Olivet's campus has changed a bunch since I left in 1999.  There is a beautiful new chapel that I mistook for a church.  There is a new building in the middle of the giant grass field that used to be between the central campus and the practice fields.  Gibson Hall is gone.  The varsity locker rooms are twice the size they used to be, due to the Bears having training camp at ONU.  There is a fitness center where the pool used to be.  There is also plans for a huge fitness center towards the back of the practice field area.

When the recruiting time was over (Michael committed), the four of us headed to Chicago.  We ate at Gino's East, and had a lot of fun telling old stories and catching up on new developments.  We wandered down to Navy Pier, and enjoyed the crisp, but nice, Chicago weather.  We headed back late and then crashed at Fish's house.  I then drove home Sunday morning so I would be back in time for Trisha to go to work.  All in all, it was a fun time, although a little brief.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Book Review - Life Promises for Success by Jim Tressel

Before I give my review of Life Promises for Success: Promises from God on Achieving Your Best by Jim Tressel, I want to make two disclaimers. First, I’m a football coach and a fan of Coach Tressel.  Second, I received this book to review before Tressel’s current troubles with the NCAA.  I tried to read it without being too partial either way.  The book is a collection of Bible verses, quotes, and short anecdotes separated into three sections: The Essence of Success, The Elements of Success (the longest part), and The Epitome of Success.  It is set up like a devotional book, with 2-4 verses about a topic, and then an anecdote on the same topic; occasionally there is a quote to wrap things up.  It is a really quick read at under 200 pages of text.  While I read it in large chunks, I think it would be better digested in smaller readings, one or two topics at a time.  I found the content to be inspiring in as much as I like this type of book, although there wasn’t really anything new.  I often use quotes and anecdotes in communicating with my team, and it would be easy to use this book as a reference in that area.  Due to his recent troubles with the NCAA, I think that many people will scoff at the wisdom Coach Tressel passes on.  It’s somewhat hard to read about integrity from a man about whom it was just revealed kept information about rule breaking from his superiors at OSU and the NCAA.  If the reader can allow for the fact that people make mistakes, but the message is still relevant, then I believe this this book would be great for the following: football coaches (or coaches of any kind), Ohio State/Coach Tressel fans, or anyone who likes easy-to-read inspirational books.  It would make a great graduation-type gift.  I received this book as a preview copy from Tyndale House Publishers.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

An Old Favorite and a New Favorite

Because I caught some kind of flu-like bug, or something, I spent the week home from school with a headache pretty much round the clock, with some achy-ness and a queasy stomach (although I didn't have a fever, which was weird).  Even now, my head isn't quite right (no dumb jokes, please).  As a result of my week of do-nothing, I watched a lot of tv.  I pretty much had my fill of ESPN and the NFL labor news.  I enjoyed the college basketball games, though.  Good background noise. 

Anyway, I discovered two shows I really enjoy, one an old friend and another a new classic.  First the old friend:  On the REELZ channel (Dish Network), I discovered NewsRadio reruns.  NewsRadio is a show my brother and I got hooked on during the mid-to-late 90's (thanks Jeff).  It is a sitcom that takes place in a small all-news radio station in New York.  I don't know that there was a "star" attached to it, but the cast has gone on to many other endeavors.  Unfortunately, this show was still filming when Phil Hartman was killed, and lasted one season without him.  Basically, each episode revolved around some new hair-brained idea or situation that arose at the station, and then funny lines and high jinks ensued.  It's still very watchable.  And, I still wish that the atmosphere at work was a little more like NewsRadio.

The other show I watched a lot of is Phineas and Ferb.  This is a cartoon on the Disney network of channels, and is about two step-brothers who spend each day of summer vacation coming up with some new outrageous idea or invention.  Their teenage sister tries to bust them, but always ends up looking foolish.  Their pet platypus, Perry, is really a secret agent, engaged in stopping the evil Doofenschmirtz.  All-in-all, its very clever, with running gags and enough jokes aimed at adults that it makes it a kid show that's fun to watch with your kids, or without them.

If you happen to have the time, or a DVR, check them out.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Science Fair Adventure

Last Saturday, Lexi participated in the Regional Science Fair.  It was held at Marian University, in Indianapolis.  She qualified for this by finishing first in her age group (1st Grade) at school.  We took the whole family to Marian, helped her set up, and then waited several hours while she and 300+ others were judged on content and presentation, etc.  Lexi's project was on food decay.  She left a strawberry, a piece of Italian bread, and a cheese out in the open air, and determined which would rot first.  She hypothesized strawberry, and was right by a landslide.  In fact, the bread just turned hard, and the cheese stick took a long time to even develop mold (I'm not sure I want to eat processed cheese sticks anymore).  She took pictures everyday, then made observations.  She made a cool poster and a scrapbook for her project.  She didn't place at the Regional Science Fair, but it was a cool experience for her.  We also let her know how proud of her we were for her hard work on the project.  P.S.  By the time of the Regional Science Fair, the strawberry had more hair than I do.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Book Review - Remember Why You Play

I just finished reading David Thomas's Remember Why You Play.  It is the true story of the Faith Christian High School (Texas) Lions football team.  The book chronicles coach Kris Hogan and the Lions during the 2007 season and their quest to win a state championship.  Coach Hogan is a strong Christian man and he holds his players to a high level of accountability.  His philosophy is not the norm as far as football coaches go.  It's a pretty cool story, and it's neat to trace the season unfolding for the boys.  The centerpiece of the book, though, is a game from the 2008 season.  Faith played Gainesville State school, a juvenile detention facility.  Coach Hogan and the Faith family set out to show God's love to 14 incarcerated young men, and what happened changed lives.  I started to tear up as I read the description of the Faith fans forming a spirit tunnel for Gainseville State to run through to start the game.  In fact, this game and the events surrounding it, are being turned into a movie called One Heart that is due to be out this fall.  I can't wait.  Also, two years ago I had the opportunity to hear Coach Hogan speak at a football coaching/character coaching/leadership coaching clinic.  He told the story of the game, and it was amazing to hear it first hand.  I highly recommend this book, particularly to coaches, players, and parents of players.  You will be stunned at what a simple gesture can accomplish.