Tag Archives: Extol Sports

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Get In The Know

screen-shot-2018-10-04-at-11-20-25-amIf you haven’t jumped on the Louisville City FC bandwagon yet, come on aboard – there’s plenty of room.

 

The pro team has given our Metro Louisville/Southern Indiana community much to cheer about. Here are three more reasons why the Boys in Purple are the favorites of fans and nonprofits, too.

 

Did you know… Louisville City FC, the area’s only fully professional soccer club, started in 2015 and is a member of the United Soccer League – now sanctioned Division 2 by U.S. Soccer – only one level below Major League Soccer? The USL includes 33 teams across the country, some of them independent and others acting as close affiliates with MLS clubs.

 

Did you know… LouCity offers a simple way to give back to charitable causes?

The Louisville City FC Give & Go Program is a fundraising opportunity for local 501(c)3 charitable, educational, scientific, literary and cruelty-preventing organizations in Kentuckiana to get into excitement of attending a home game and raise funds at the same time. The program is also open to for-profit companies and individuals to purchase and donate tickets to worthy causes. This past season, LouCity will have made up to 5,000 single-game tickets available to charitable organizations to sell to the public at a special nonprofit rate. For each ticket sold, a contribution of $4 is made to non-profit organizations. For-profit organizations and individuals can also purchase match tickets and donate them for selected or designated nonprofits or groups to use. Learn more at louisvillecityfc.com.

 

Did you know… Tom Farmer, president of LouCity’s supporter group The Coopers, went from soccer cynic to one of the team’s most vocal fans? Want to join the growing regiment? Go to LouisvilleCoopers.com.

 

LouCity’s regular season ends 7:30 p.m. Oct. 13 when they take on Indy Eleven at Slugger Field. 

Fitness Guru Rashna Carmicle of B.YOU Her Modern Fitness Boutique

The Business of Getting (or Staying) Fit

 

Fitness Guru Rashna Carmicle of B.YOU Her Modern Fitness Boutique

Fitness Guru Rashna Carmicle of B.YOU Her Modern Fitness Boutique

By Angie Fenton

We all know it’s important to take time for our health, exercise and eating right. There’s nothing new about that. But, what if we began to treat our bodies like we approach our jobs?

 

You wouldn’t miss an appointment with a client or your boss, right? Being late to an important meeting is not an option, either, lest you risk appearing unprofessional and inept. Committing to see a project through to fruition is a must. Writing or typing in calendar alerts and making a schedule is imperative to professional success. So, what if we looked at our health that way and gave our personal fitness as much attention and respect as we do our professional lives?

 

I asked fitness guru Rashna Carmicle – creator and owner of B.YOU Her Modern Fitness Boutique– to provide a few pointers for those of us who are interested in the business of getting – or staying – fit. The following is her advice:

 

“I’m too busy” is probably the most common excuse I hear for missing workouts, but life is insanely busy for everyone these day, whether you are a CEO, a stay-at-home mom, a combination of both, or even just a kid or teenager. I believe the reason for this collective feeling of “crazy-busy” is right at our finger tips: constant connectivity to every aspect of our lives through email, text, social media, messaging, apps and the list goes on (and on and on and on). So, we have to treat our personal health and fitness as a priority, just as we do our professional and social lives. Here are a few ways to do that.

 

Change your mindset. There are so many things in life that are completely out of our control, but one thing we do have control over is our mindset. Change your view of working out from being a chore to being something you are doing for”yourself, and better yet, for those around you. Speaking from my own experience, if my workout routine starts to go astray, I am just plain cranky, and those who are closest to me have to suffer through it. They would welcome my hour away if it meant a happier, more energized wife, mom, boss or co-worker. Knowing this makes me view fitness as a priority just like brushing my teeth, going to work and driving my kids to school.

 

Write an action plan. If you were launching a new product, building a house or developing a new marketing strategy, you would write some sort of plan. Why not do this very same thing for your fitness journey. What are your short-term and long-term goals? What steps do you need to take to achieve them? How can you hold yourself accountable or, better yet, find someone to help hold you accountable, like a personal trainer or workout buddy.

 

Find a workout that works for YOU. My husband could do a spin class or cycle outdoors for three hours straight every day of the week, but if you told me I had to do that, I would give every excuse in the book. On the other hand, I absolutely love running and the feeling I get after a long run, but my body – my bad hip in particular – does NOT love the pain it feels afterwards. This is how we came to find trampoline fitness and introduced B.Bounce at B.YOU. It gives you the full-on cardio and sweat with 80 percent less impact. I was instantly obsessed! You have to find the right workout for your body and the workout that is going to motivate you and keep you coming back for more. If working out still feels like a chore after changing your mindset, then perhaps you need to change it up and find something new.

 

Find a workout buddy. Collaboration, or working with others, is often the key to success in business, education, entrepreneurship and so much more, but it can also be the key to success in your fitness routine as well. While I consider myself a fairly self-motivated individual, through my many years of trying various fitness regimens, I have always found that those involving a group is far more motivating to me. Whether it has been a single running partner, a five-person boot camp or a 20-person group fitness class, the level that I challenge and push myself is far greater than what I would have had I been working out on my own. Not only that, but it is much tougher to skip out on a workout when they’re waiting for me to show up. It holds me accountable. So, I always encourage people to find a workout buddy or try a group fitness class because collaboration may be the key to your success in making health and fitness a priority.

Schedule, schedule, schedule. Clients tell me regularly how much they love the fact that they have to schedule their classes because it helps to hold them accountable. Whether or not you are scheduling a class at B.YOU or another studio that has an online booking system, be sure to add your workouts to your own personal calendar each week. It makes a big difference to your commitment level if the time is already penciled in just like your other obligations.

 

Working out is only half the battle. Remember that being healthy is not only working out; eating healthy is just as important. You have to balance both, especially if your goal is weight-loss. If you are training five days a week but eating fast food, carbs and sugar, your results are going to be few and far between. You also have to steer clear of fad diets and try to adopt healthy eating habits that are realistic and sustainable. The key is balance.

 

Don’t beat yourself up. Our busy realities aren’t always conducive to our plan; we all fall off the wagon once in a while. When you do, don’t beat yourself up and definitely don’t give up. Just move on, refocus on your goal and get back to it the next day.

 

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Tried & Tested

screen-shot-2018-06-05-at-3-00-23-pmBy Angie Fenton

I AM IN NO WAY AN EXPERT WHEN IT COMES TO HEALTH AND ALWAYS RECOMMEND CONSULTING WITH A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL BEFORE EMBARKING ON AN EXERCISE AND DIET PLAN, BUT HERE ARE SOME TIPS THAT HAVE WORKED FOR ME.

DO YOUR HOMEWORK

Thanks to the internet, I’ve found a zillion healthy, simple ways to cook chicken and make my own dressings for salads. There are also numerous Facebook pages dedicated to healthy eating. I often take screenshots of recipes – the easier the better – and save them in a photo folder on my phone. Then, when I’m ready to go grocery shopping, I write down exactly what I need so I’m not wandering aimlessly. Whatever you do, be sure you do your homework before you commit to getting fit.

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Prepping meals takes some time, but it has been worth it. While I don’t force myself to eat if I’m not hungry, I think of my body like a furnace: You’ve got to keep the fires stoked if you want them to burn. Although I prepare most of my food, I also make purchases from MacroMan – MacroManMeals.com – a locally-owned meal prep service that has dishes for every taste. The food is delicious and has helped immensely when I need something to grab and go and don’t have time to figure out proportions or calorie counts.

DON’T CHEAT – TREAT

Even though I slip and still use the terms “cheat meal” or “cheat day” on occasion, I loathe the negative connotations. I also finally had to admit a “cheat moment” for me often became a “cheat month” or more, so I don’t allow myself to have them in the same way I used to. For example, instead of eating pizza, I treat myself to a healthy-ish dinner of, say, steak, something I don’t eat on a regular basis. Or, in place of ice cream, I’ll have low-fat frozen yogurt. The treats (usually) suffice and I don’t feel it necessary to full-on cheat. On the rare occasions when I have resorted to eating unhealthy foods, I start again on my journey the next day and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

KICK THE COCKTAILS

As much as I love a glass (or three) of wine, alcohol isn’t on my diet plan, and it’s been months since I’ve had a drink. My cocktail of choice now consists of sparkling water, lime juice and a coconut-flavored drink by Bai or club soda, lemon juice and mashed blueberries. I now think of alcohol as unnecessary calories and a trigger to slipping back into old eating habits I’ve worked really hard to break. When I recently considered having just one glass, I grabbed a bottle of water and forced myself to weigh the pros (there weren’t any) and cons (there were many). I may indulge in the future, but for the present time, it’s not for me.

SEARCH FOR SUPPORT

My husband has been a constant source of support, which is helpful, and I have a few friends I reach out to as well. I also occasionally share tidbits of my journey on social media. Accountability is important to success. Search for support in whatever way works for you.

MOVE IT

You don’t have to join a gym in order to exercise, although being a member of one can help with accountability. I have a number of friends who swear by Four Barrel CrossFit (you get a workout and a great community of supporters), love Planet Fitness (clean and open 24-7), thrive on personal trainers that come to your home (Ryan Schrink of Schrink Personal Training is THE best) and, for the ladies, have had big success at B.You. I belong to a gym and also exercise at home. Some days that means going for a walk or dancing to the “Trolls” soundtrack with my 2-year-old. Whatever you do, get moving and regularly.

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The Boys of Summer Have Made It

By Jim Biery

Finally, summer has arrived after a spring that felt more like fall or winter. Now that I have referenced all the seasons in just one sentence, let’s talk baseball.

America’s pastime has begun it’s rather lengthy 162-game season. That is a 26-week long season, and then the playoffs begin. I feel like that borders on the “too much of a good thing” theory. Major League Baseball (MLB) is the only major sports league that starts and ends in the same calendar year. (FYI: That nugget of knowledge could win a trivia contest question for you.

Standing in the warm sun on top of perfectly manicured grass and a nice breeze carrying the sounds of all the people in the stand – now that is what I call a friendly office environment! But this is far from what most of us recognize as an office setting. This is what the lucky few get to enjoy when they get the call up from the minor leagues to the “big show.”

Like a lot of kids, I grew up playing baseball, starting with tee ball, where a handful of kids on each team were more concerned with building dirt piles in the infield or looking for ladybugs in the outfield, to Little League, where my interest began to drop off. The reason for this is the same reason I struggle with following and watching the MLB on a consistent basis: not enough activity.

If you have watched a MLB game at any point, you should notice one thing. Basically, everyone playing the game is standing around. In between pitches the only thing that happens is grown men either spitting tobacco or “adjusting” things in their uniform. Now, what a grown man does is his own business. However, when these grown men make an average of over $4 million a year, I’d like a better return for my investment to watch the game.

In 2017, Forbes magazine reported that season attendance for MLB dipped below 73 million for the first time since 2002. In my opinion, the reason is partly the game’s fault but also because of the rapidly changing landscape of technology.

Keep in mind that when baseball was in its heyday, there was no other way to see the game than to actually attend it. Now with the ability to stream darn near anything, a lot of people are choosing this easy option instead of fighting traffic, hot and steamy weather and the bad luck of having a seat right next to a crying kid who wants more ice cream even though they have dropped the first two offerings.

Technology aside, the game itself just does not have enough going on to keep people’s attention. Be honest with me. Does watching players basically standing around in between pitches offer what basketball, football or even soccer visually provide? MLB has tried to even put a so-called “pitch clock” in the game to prevent pitchers from taking up to a minute or two between pitches.

Outside of the occasional home run or stolen base, the only real action comes when a pitcher hits a batter with his pitch and both benches clear. What’s funny is that the pitchers in the bullpen located over the fence in the outfield actually run all the way to the location of the scuffle. It is laugh-out-loud funny to me. They have to extend the dance between opposing teams until they get there. Then, they don’t really do a darn thing!


“WOULDN’T YOU LIKE A JOB THAT YOU COULD ONLY SHOW UP ABOUT 32 PERCENT OF THE TIME AND GET FULL COMPENSATION?”


The fight itself is also a bit of a letdown. Most of the scuffles just look like a ball of bait fish being chased into a circle by a tuna. It’s just a bunch of grown men holding each other back but not much else going on. If you actually look close enough, you can see two players that look like they’re grabbing each other, but in reality they are just exchanging their wives’ favorite lasagna recipe. (I may or may not have made that last part up.)

Another aspect that is hard to swallow is the amount of money the players are getting paid, especially the pitchers. Keep something in mind as I continue rant: Pitchers typically only pitch one in every five games. That’s about 32 games out of the scheduled 162. Seriously, wouldn’t you like a job that you could only show up about 32 percent of the time and get full compensation?

The compensation itself is ridiculous. Zach Greinke, a pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks, is scheduled to make $34 million in 2018 alone. He got an $18 million signing bonus and $206 million of the contract is guaranteed. I understand the phrase “what the market can bear” when it comes too negotiating these contracts, but for crying out loud!

Go to a baseball game. Or don’t. It’s your time and your money to waste (or not). Just know I won’t be joining you…except when I get a hankering for baseball park hot dogs, tire of checking my phone for scores or need something to rant about.

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A Weight Loss Journey I’m Afraid to Share

screen-shot-2018-06-05-at-3-17-35-pmMY NAME IS ZACH MCCRITE and I am an addict.

I’m the same sort of addict as one you probably know or are related to or might even be yourself.

I’m no different from the guy who can’t kick the crack habit or the gal who just can’t stop smoking or the one who bellies up to the bar night after night after night.

I’m just like those people. I’m just like you.

I’m an addict. My addiction is food. And it always will be.

Since November 2017, I’ve lost 80 pounds. Now, I’m proud, don’t get me wrong. But I hesitate to talk about it. Much less celebrate it.

Please forgive me for this different kind of weight loss story. A lot of this piece will probably be all of the hesitations that I feel about sharing the story in the first place.

For instance, when our fearless editor-in-chief insisted that this would be a good topic to swing at in the latest issue of the best publication in the Metro (pardon the brown on my nose), I hesitated… again (you will see a growing theme).

In the end, I reluctantly said I would. I hope she still feels good about her insistence now that I’ve written it.

Regardless, I hope it resonates, because my hope is that this space is more a tale about the successes and failures we all endure in our lives – both health-related and otherwise – and how we deal with them.

That said, the hesitations to share my story are plentiful.screen-shot-2018-06-05-at-3-17-22-pm

I FEEL GUILT, EVEN WHEN I LOSE WEIGHT

Partly because it opens old wounds. Talking about it opens up the pain that I know others share about not being looked at like the “rest of the crowd,” but becoming so used to it, you joke with others about it.

Hesitation also comes partly because I feel guilty for how my weight affects the people who choose (or, in my family’s case, have no choice but) to include me in their lives, but have to rearrange their cars, houses, weekend activities, big ticket purchases, vacations, etc. to accommodate “the big guy.”

And even more hesitation because – and I know this is backwards, but – I had found a personality inside this humongous frame that I thought some people were starting to latch onto. And that felt good, even if my health sucked!

But one of the biggest hesitations is this.

I’VE BEEN HERE BEFORE

Back in November, I tipped the scales at 377. As of this writing, I’m weighing in at 297 lbs. Awesome, right?

But, I’m sure most of you know how the story sometimes goes from there. The majority of people with weight issues do the “yo-yo” a lot. Get fat, lose some weight, feel good for awhile, use food to celebrate because “we deserve it,” put all the weight back on.

Rinse. Repeat.

The latest yo-yo for me began around four years ago, when I had worked my way down to about 270 lbs. from 388 in a little over a year. And then…

Rinse. Repeat. Back to 377 just six months ago.

No rinsing or repeating this time. At least not yet.

And that’s one of the problems: I keep saying “yet” as if I’m destined to put it all back on again.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m happier than I’ve been in quite a long time. My parents, my wife, her parents and our extended families have been beyond supportive. Life is good.

But, I got so used to being fat that, even with a lot of weight gone (and plenty to go), I get into this seemingly-neverending internal struggle where my inner voice is telling me, “Hey man, you’ll be back up here in the 400s eventually,” and I come out of the gate swinging saying, “Nope, not this time.”

Ring the bell. Let’s go. Let yet another weight loss fight begin.

I throw a left jab at the inner voice. Then a right uppercut.

But, like George Foreman in “The Rumble In The Jungle,” I’m in that boxing match with my inner voice, swinging and landing punches (and shedding pounds) like I never have before.

Jab. Jab. Jab. Right hook.

But my inner voice won’t budge. It’s taking every punch like it’s been hit with a feather as my energy and willpower are nearing empty.

Jab. Panting. Left hook. More panting.

All the while, my inner voice is whispering back at me.

“Is that all you got, Zach?”

Apparently, my inner voice is as strong as Muhammad Ali.

And I was tired of getting beat by him.

SO I ASKED FOR BACKUP

Let’s go back to April 2017 for a second. My wife was pregnant with our second child – a boy (Monroe officially joined the family a couple of months later).

My weight was climbing (again), and I had been bumming because I lost all of the weight the previous time around due in large part to not wanting our firstborn child, Remi, to be subject to an obese father. But, she was born and my inner voice had told me, “Mission accomplished, now come on back to the dark side.” And I had.

Anyway, we knew our health insurance deductible for the rest of the year was going to be met with the birth of Monroe in July, so I threw it out there joking, “We should go ahead and get all the medical work done we need if insurance will pay for it all.”

I threw out the option of weight loss surgery, but I figured that wasn’t even possible. I figured insurance wouldn’t cover such a thing.

But, the more and more my wife and I talked it out and researched it, we started to find that this sort of thing was, indeed, covered by our insurance plan with one big, fat (no pun intended) contingency: I had to be medically supervised for six months on the same diet and exercise plan to prove that I was invested in this process and not gain one pound over that time. I was to come in to the doctor once a month for a weight and wellness check.

Only then would the insurance company decide whether or not to count the surgery as “medically necessary” and, therefore, covered at 100 percent by insurance.

“OK, then, I’m in. I’m doing this,” I remember telling myself. Only to hear the inner voice tell me over and over: “Six months without gaining a pound? Yeah, right.”

And I’m not gonna lie. There were times I was convinced the insurance company was going to come back and say “denied.”

But there was one more hurdle. One more hesitation that’s tough for me to share.

There was a part of me that was sort of hoping I would get denied the coverage I needed to go on with the surgery.

I was ashamed that I was even using this route. I didn’t want to tell anyone I was going to have the surgery. Why? You know why.

Because everyone would’ve thought I took the easy way out.

I was already having nightmares about how people would talk about me after the surgery.

“Zach is so weak. He couldn’t do it the old-fashioned way, huh?”

It was debilitating. On one hand, I NEEDED HELP to reach health goals that I had not been able to maintain. I still do.

On the other hand, I hated the very notion that people would consider me weak-minded for not being able to lose weight and keep it off the traditional way.

I can remember the justification I made in my head. “If the insurance company denies me, that’s OK. I’ll still be fat, but I can work on it again, and when I lose all this weight on my own, everyone will look at me as strong.”

I could hear my inner voice chuckling.

Anyway, the six months rolled by. I lost a little weight on my own and the insurance company, to my surprise, accepted the cost of the surgery in full.

I was a mixture of scared and ecstatic. Scared to tell my friends and family that I was taking the “easy” way out.

But then I started to attend all of these meetings with Dr. John Oldham and my other doctors at the Bariatric Center at Baptist East Hospital in preparation for the surgery. They wanted to make sure I knew this wasn’t an easy fix. It was cemented into my head that this was going to be tough.

I couldn’t leave the place any of the umpteen times I went without hearing something to the effect of “Remember, this surgery is just a tool in helping you lose weight. If you don’t use the tool, the tool becomes useless.”

In other words, I have to get over the psychological addiction I have with food as well. The vertical sleeve gastrectomy procedure, commonly referred to as the “sleeve” would remove 90 percent of my stomach. Ninety percent.

But, the addiction to food for many can be so overwhelming that the stomach removal just doesn’t matter. The patient still eats even though they receive signals of being full way quicker than they ever had before.

It’s yet another reason I am afraid to share my story. Because here I am – my story thrown on paper with ink that will last forever – and if my addiction wins out over my new “tool,” I’ll want to literally eat every one of the magazines this story was printed on as a way to shred the evidence of me having ever told my story.

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But, that’s the chance I took on Nov. 6, 2017.

Pain after surgery was real. Making me walk an hour after leaving the surgery floor as to get my body back to normal as quickly as possible – not fun. Eating broth and drinking liquid protein shots for days upon days after the surgery – not fun. Watching others chow on the delectables I used to shove down my piehole without taking a breath – sometimes not fun.

But, all worth it.

A little over six months later, my excitement and enjoyment of life is outweighing all other feelings at the moment – although, I know this story of all of my worries would likely prove otherwise.

But I share my worries because I think they are important to the overall story.

In the end, I’m ecstatic because I know getting this tool would help me reach my ultimate goal of not being an obese parent for my children. They are about to turn 3- and 1-year-old, respectively.

I’m glad I still have a little longer to push more weight off before they start to have true memories with their father that they’ll tell their kids about down the road, much like I had with my dad, and still do.

And, believe me, I’ve still got a long way to go to get to a “healthy” stage. My journey has just started.

In all, the real reason I ultimately decided to share this is so when someone else is struggling with the decision to change their lifestyle forever, that they know that they’re not alone.

It’s a lifelong battle.

I’m here to help. So are others. You are not alone. You need the accountability. So do I.

Because I’m an addict.

And I’m happy.

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ONE MORE ROUND WITH ROMEO

romeo-3BY ANGIE FENTON

Photos by Christian Watson shot at The Pepin Mansion, 1003 E. Main St. in New Albany • thepepinmansion.com

NEW ALBANY BASKETBALL STAR SHARES HIS FAVORITE MUSIC, OFF-COURT COLLEGIATE PLANS AND ADVICE FOR YOUNG FANS

THERE IS NO QUESTION about the most popular issue Extol has ever published. A year and a half later, we still get requests for the January 2017 Extol Sports edition featuring Romeo Langford. In fact, we recently shipped a couple dozen copies to a middle school coach based in Kentucky (his players love Romeo) and even dropped off a solo one to a local who asked for more but we could only part with one because we have so few in our reserves.

Yes, the New Albany graduate is revered for his prowess on the basketball court, but he’s also beloved for how he treats his fans and the way he conducts himself with humility. “He doesn’t seek the spotlight – it seeks him,” Romeo’s high school coach Jim Shannon has told the media more than once.

When the 18-year-old and his family held a public event to announce his long-awaited decision to commit to Indiana University, more than 2,500 fans and 85 credentialed members of the media packed the New Albany High School gymnasium.

“I was really surprised,” admitted Romeo’s father Tim Langford. “It wasn’t our intent to draw so many people. We just wanted to give back to the fans and let them be a part of the decision.”

Now that it’s been made and his son will soon head to Bloomington, “We’re ready,” Tim continued. “We’ve been looking forward to it (and are) excited. It’s the next chapter.”

Before he turns the next page and begins his collegiate career, Romeo sat down with us for a quick Q&A at The Pepin Mansion, where he also took the time to pose for photos with two young fans.

This issue of Extol is dedicated, in part, to kids. What advice do you have for the young fans who look up to you?

Follow your dreams. Work hard at what you want to do because there’s someone out there who wants to do what you want to (accomplish), too.

Romeo Langford with his father Tim Langford.

Romeo Langford with his father Tim Langford.

What will study at Indiana University?

Not sure. I’ll do general (studies) until I figure out what to do.

What was your favorite high school class?

Math, especially algebra.

What was your least favorite class?

Government.

How do you spend your rare moments of downtime?

Playing video games.

What’s your favorite music to listen to?

I listen to all types but my favorite is Michael.

Michael Jackson? Can you dance like him?

(Laughs.) Nah.

Not even a little bit? No moonwalk?

(Laughs and shakes head.) Nah, I can’t do that.

What’s your favorite Michael Jackson song?romeo-2

“Another Part of Me.”

When is the last time you picked up the trumpet? (Note: Romeo’s Dad used to play the instrument too.)

I played at my church for the (2017) Christmas Day service.

Aside from your parents, who have been the biggest mentors to you?

(Family friend) Jonathan Jeanty, (trainer) Coach Deion Lee, (off-court trainer) Brian Fig and (trainer) Parrish Bryant.

Will you and your father continue your daily morning routine of talking on the phone before school?

(Chuckles.) Probably won’t call him at 6:50 in the morning (any more) … but I will call him.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In the NBA.


screen-shot-2018-06-05-at-5-01-16-pmBY THE NUMBERS

3,002: Number of points Romeo Langford scored during his high school basketball career.

264 of 294: Number of votes Romeo received to be named Indiana’s Mr. Basketball.

9.9: Number of rebounds Romeo averaged during his senior year of high school, along with 35.5 points, 3.7 assists and 3 steals per game

1: Number of basketball courts named in honor of the Hoosier. Floyd County Parks and Recreation decided to dedicate Romeo Langford Basketball Court at Kevin Hammersmith Memorial Park, 4400 Lewis Endres Parkway in New Albany, “in honor of (Romeo), following his historic high school basketball career at New Albany High School and positive influence off- the-court as a role model to Floyd County’s youth.”

35,800+: Number of people following Romeo (@yeahyeah_22) on Twitter

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Arizona Dreaming

Drew Ellis is in sunny Scottsdale right now, on a journey to make a major league baseball team.

There are no guarantees. He’s not asking for any.screen-shot-2018-04-04-at-2-39-17-am

By Steve Kaufman | Photos by Tony Bennett

In February, Drew Ellis of Jeffersonville,

Indiana, got on a plane to Arizona, along with

thousands of other people escaping winter snows.

It was the warmer weather and sunshine

drawing him there. But he wasn’t going to sit

around a resort pool. He was going there to

work. He has a job in Scottsdale, which started

in February, with April not far behind.

For the next couple of months, Ellis would

be running and exercising, swinging a bat and

scooping up infield grounders, throwing and

catching. What he really hoped to catch was

someone’s attention.

Ellis works for baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks,

who had their best season last year since the team

of Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling and Luis Gonzalez

won the 2001 major league championship. The

Diamondbacks won 93 games in 2017, third-best

in the entire National League, before succumbing

to their division rival Los Angeles Dodgers in the

post-season.

Ellis wasn’t in Phoenix while all this was going

on. He was in Hillsboro, Oregon, playing for the

Hillsboro Hops of the Northwest League, Arizona’s

affiliate in what is called Short Season A. Only the

Rookie League is a lower designation.

Hillsboro did the parent club one better, winning

its league pennant, beating out the Eugene (Ore.)

Emeralds, a Chicago Cubs affiliate; the Boise

(Idaho) Hawks, a Colorado Rockies affiliate; and

the Salem-Keizer (Ore.) Volcanoes, a San Francisco

Giants affiliate, in the league’s South Division.

Ellis was the Hops’ starting third baseman once

he got to Hillsboro, hitting what for him was a

disappointing .227, but getting eight home runs

and driving in 23 runs in his 41 games.

“I played really well for the first 30 or so games,

then struggled a bit,” he said. “My power numbers

were good, but my average wasn’t where I wanted

it to be. Probably good to have those struggles

early in my career, though, so I know what it takes

to overcome them, how to work out of them.”

And now it’s on to spring training camp.

Hillsboro is far from Phoenix, and not just on a

line drawn on a map. It’s the lowest rung on a very

high ladder going up through four more minor

league levels in the Diamondback organization,

all the way to Reno, Nevada, the team’s Triple A

affiliate in the Pacific Coast League.

The highest rung on the ladder, of course, is

the ultimate goal – an Arizona uniform. A seat in

the D-backs’ dugout. Hearing your name called:

“Batting fifth and playing third base, Drew Ellis!”

But first…

For this summer, the Jeffersonville youngster

has set his sights on an assignment to the Visalia

Rawhide of the Advanced A California League.

It would be a promotion, all part of the climb.

It’s a slog. And a numbers game. Most of the

ballplayers in the Short Season League will likely

never get to the majors. Ellis knows that.

His short season was shorter than most. He

wasn’t drafted until June, in the second round

of Major League Baseball’s 2017 draft, the 44th

overall pick. That spring, he had been a key cog in

the University of Louisville’s march to the College

World Series. So, he’s now 22, a mere baby in most

professions but a late starter in professional sports.

On the other hand, a good thing about playing

sports is that your performance is out there on

the field. If you’re good, you’re good.

Ellis was good at the University of Louisville.

He hit .367 with 20 home runs and earned All-

American honors on the team that won 53 of 65

games, all the way to Omaha, beating Texas A&M

before back-to-back losses to Florida and TCU

cancelled the dream.screen-shot-2018-04-04-at-2-40-37-am

“It was a super-special year,” he recalled. “The

most fun I’ve had playing baseball – not just

because we were winning, but because of the

way we were winning.”

He also said “the atmosphere on campus was

great. One reason I chose Louisville was because

of the fan support. They showed up even when

it was cold out.”

It was a close team, too, and Ellis spent much

of the off-season working out at the UofL athletic

facilities with ex-teammates like Brendan McKay,

Colby Fitch and Devin Hairston, three of several

Cardinals who were also drafted by big-league

teams.

McKay was a first-round pick of the Tampa Bay

Rays. He spent the season in Wappinger Falls, N.Y.,

with the Hudson Valley Renegades of the New

York-Pennsylvania League. A versatile athlete

who played first base and pitched in college, he

hit .232 and won his only pitching decision.

Shortstop Hairston was drafted in the fourth

round and spent 2017 in Appleton, Wisconsin,

with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, a Milwaukee

Brewers property in the Class A Midwest League.

He hit .210 and made 10 errors in 44 games.

Fitch, the Cards’ catcher, was drafted in the 13th

round by the Philadelphia Phillies. He split the

summer between the Lakewood (N.J.) Blue Claws

of the South Atlantic League and Williamsport

(Pa.) Crosscutters of the New York-Pennsylvania

League. Fitch hit only .217 at Lakewood, but .350

in Williamsport.

The point is, it’s a long haul for almost everybody,

even the best college players. But it’s all part of

the dream, a dream so many young athletes have

growing up.

Ellis recalled first dreaming the dream at

Jeffersonville High School, when he saw other

local players getting scouted by pro teams. “I

remember thinking, ‘I’m as good as these guys,

but I’m not getting any attention.’ So I changed

my thinking, and started working my butt off.”

He had been a shortstop in high school, but

Louisville coach Dan McDonnell moved him to

third in college because the Cardinals already had

slick-fielding Hairston. That makes Ellis’ prospects

on the Diamondbacks somewhat problematic.

They already have a third baseman. Jake Lamb

hit 30 home runs and drove in 105 runs last year.

And he’s only 26.

A scouting report on Ellis said defense is his

biggest question mark – “lack of range” – and that

maybe first base is a better option. But the D-backs

also have a first baseman. Paul Goldschmidt hit

.297 last year, with 36 home runs and 120 RBIs. He

was third in the National League’s Most Valuable

Player voting.

Still, Ellis knows major league rosters are fluid.

Free agency makes everything unpredictable.

Who knows where Lamb or Goldschmidt will

be in two years?

More important, Ellis knows he can only worry

about Ellis. The rest will follow. “They haven’t

talked to me much yet about where I’ll be,” he

said. “Wherever I play, my expectation is to play

as well as I can play. They’ll put me where they put

me. I’ve just got to do what I’ve always done, by

preparing the way I prepare. Do the little things I

need to do, to make sure I’m on top of my game.”

There’s a level-headedness there about an

outcome Ellis can’t control except to prepare for

the best so he can expect the best. Partly, that’s

a work ethic first drilled into him by his high

school coach, Derek Ellis, who also happens to

be his father.

And partly, it’s the result of a faith he acquired

while in high school, when he was baptized by

his friend, “one of best decisions of my life, to

follow Jesus.”

He said he struggled a little bit as a high school

freshman, as so many freshmen do, not knowing

which crowd to follow. But since his baptism, he

said, “I know who my Lord and Savior is. And

life is easier when you have someone to rely on.

When times are hard or going well, through ups

and downs and struggles, it’s been good for me

to rely on my faith to get through those.”

He said he’s seen teammates make some choices

he wouldn’t have made, “not necessarily because

they’re bad people but because they haven’t had

a faith to help them out.”

There will be ups and downs in Ellis’ baseball

career, just because there are ups and downs in

that life for everybody. He seems well-equipped

to handle both.

And it’s not just because he can hit the fastball.

1

Louisville City: Get on The Bandwagon Now

1By Kevin Kernen | Photo by Christian Watson

In a city and a state divided along

college lines, Louisville City FC has become a

confluence of local fans, red and blue alike. Having

started their 2018 season in March, LouCity is on

the campaign to defend the laurels of the most

fruitful season to date, when the team collected

their conference regular season and playoff titles

en route to winning the league last November.

If you’ve been living under a rock since 2015,

LouCity has quickly branded itself as the most

exciting sports experience in the area. The vocal

support has created a pressure cooker of a home

advantage at Louisville Slugger Field, a reputation

that precedes the team across the league.

The league that “The Boys in Purple” makes their

home in is the United Soccer League (USL), which

occupies the second division of American soccer,

second only to Major League Soccer (MLS). The

USL counts cities such as San Antonio, Las Vegas,

Cincinnati, Phoenix and Indianapolis among their

markets and continues to add franchises each

season. The league has grown threefold since 2012,

and LouCity has kept pace with the exploding

number of competitive teams joining the fray.

The team brings an exciting roster to Slugger,

managed by the scrupulous Irishman James

O’Connor.

O’Connor imparts a pragmatic, yet positive

playing style on the international collection

of players. LouCity’s squad features members

from eight countries, a wealth of domestic and

international experience, as well as a number of

players with local ties, like Richard Ballard. The

Louisville native attended Manual High School and

Indiana University for four years before signing his

first professional contract last season for LouCity.

He cemented his reputation as an exciting young

player who played a part in eight goals.

From further afield, London, England, natives

Paco Craig and Cameron Lancaster have both

had a palpable impact on the club. Entering his

fourth season for the club, Lancaster scored the

decisive goal in last November’s USL Cup Final

for LouCity. On the opposite end of the field,

central Craig made headlines last season as the

only LouCity player to feature in the USL Team

of the Season, the leader of a defensive unit that

O’Connor hangs his hat on. From top to bottom,

the roster is full of talented players, all of whom are

upstanding people in addition to being successful

on the field.

Off of the field, Louisville City is also no stranger

to success. Last October, Louisville’s Metro Council

voted 20-4 to allocate some $30 million of public

money toward a 37-acre site in the Butchertown

neighborhood that is to become the home for a

bespoke 10,000 seat stadium for the team. With

plans for seating to be expandable to 20,000 and

inclusion of retail and hotel space, the project

is sure to transform the area, which is currently

occupied by an auto salvage yard and a storage

facility, among other things. There are a few other

hurdles for the project to clear before ground can

be broken. The team targets a 2020 deadline set by

the USL for all teams to play in their own stadium.

The team is also part of a number of media

agreements, entering their second year of hosting

game broadcasts on the local iHeartRadio network

of stations, chiefly on News Radio 840 WHAS.

New for this season, local radio personality Tony

Vanetti hosts a weekly Coach’s Show with James

O’Connor, along with select players on News Radio

840 WHAS at 8 p.m. Monday nights. Rounding out

the radio programming is the revamped Soccer

City Radio show (find more details on the Thursday

night program below). LouCity games are also live

streamed on YouTube and on TV locally across

WDRB, WMYO and WBNA.

All of those outlets are useful, but nothing quite

compares to the experience of attending a game.

If you haven’t been to a LouCity match before,

ask someone who has. If you don’t know anyone

who’s attended a match, I’ll give a brief synopsis

of what a typical match day looks like to an ardent

supporter. Firstly, matches typically kickoff at 7:30

on a Saturday evening, which means tailgating

begins in the early afternoon, maybe in the late

morning if it’s an important match. Libations and

food are aplenty as the purple loyal find their way

to the tailgate, the largest of which takes place in

the parking lot situated across Preston Street from

Louisville Slugger Field. While the doors open 90

minutes prior to kickoff, the majority of supporters

don’t leave the tailgate until about 30 minutes

before kick and are usually well lubricated by then.

Led by the talented Coopers drum corps, named

the Groove Machine, the fans parade around the

ground, singing their LouCity-centric songs all the

way to their reserved section behind one of the

goals. Once there, they stand and sing all match

long, breaking from their repertoire only for the

tradition of singing “My Old Kentucky Home.” If

a goal is scored, purple and yellow smoke billows

from the supporters’ section, and the fans rejoice.

Ninety minutes later, the fans cheer the players

off the pitch – win, lose or draw. The players

exchange high-fives with the crowd en route to

the locker room, where they mingle with fans

after the game as well. In all, it’s a thoroughly

exciting experience, with multiple levels to

engage on. For people looking for a more subtle

experience, a sideline seat is more appropriate.

With a better sightline on the proceedings, this

section gives an ideal vantage for absorbing

the percussive atmosphere while following the

match’s progression.

The outlook for the season at hand is a positive

one. City returned 15 players from last season’s

squad that won the USL Cup- something unheard

of at this level of the game. The team brought on an

important combination of youth and experience for

the 2018 campaign. Headlining the new signings

is the return of fan favorite Magnus Rasmussen

and MLS veteran Shaun Francis. MagRam, as he

is affectionately called by the supporters, was

part of the purple team in the 2015 and 2016

seasons before returning to his native Denmark

for last season. The midfield dynamo faces some

competition to make the starting lineup, but he

is certain to get some good minutes this season.

Francis, a versatile wing player, who’s represented

his native Jamaica on the international stage over

a dozen times, played in nearly a century of MLS

matches over a 7-year foray into the league.

The pair join an already stacked LouCity cadre

of players who are separated from retaining their

trophy by a grueling season, their path paved with

opponents and flanked by supporters. Soccer is

happening in a big way here, the only question

is, will you join them?


Soccer City Radio

New for this seas on, Extol writer Kevin

Kernen is taking to the airwaves on

Soccer City Radio show. Kevin appears

alongside longtime co-host La nce

McGarvey, the voice of Louisville City. Join

the duo on the hour-long weekly show

that covers all forms of soccer, from

Louisville City to local colleges to the US

National teams. Tune in to 1080 WKSK 7 p.m.

Thursday and on the iHeart Radio app.

Little Man in a Big Sports World Columnist Jim Biery.

Sports: The Mirror of Life

Little Man in a Big Sports World Columnist Jim Biery.

Little Man in a Big Sports World Columnist Jim Biery.

By Jim Biery

If you’re a sports fan already, you will completely

understand what I’m about to write. If you know

nothing about sports, please read on and maybe

I can explain why grown men wear other grown

men’s uniforms and jerseys during the big game.

I will admit that I don’t understand why wearing

your favorite player’s jersey with your last name

somehow gets you closer to the team and the

player you are cheering for. You may be a successful

business man, a well-respected lawyer, even a

project manager for a construction company. (That

being said has anyone seen an athlete showing

up at your office wearing a doctor’s uniform or

a hard hat? Point is, you should be proud and

confident of your last name and your abilities

in your chosen field and maybe realize that you

possess special talents that the best quarterback

or basketball superstar does not.)

Enough of the fashion part of this column.

What drives men and women to paint their

faces, wear lucky team sweatshirts and holler

profanities at a TV screen in hopes the referee

can hear them disagreeing with the holding call?

Sports offer a temporary escape from life’s

daily grind and ups and downs. It’s that simple.

For a couple of hours, you join other sports fans

watching and waiting for that one play, that one

shot that brings you to your feet, jumping and

cheering loudly. During this timeframe, people

are united for one cause: a team victory.

Regardless of your age, size, gender, religious

affiliation, and political views – nothing

else matters.

Many become one for a single cause.

Imagine if we could adopt this team mindset

and apply it to all the worthy causes and rallies

that lead off every newsfeed you watch nowadays.

(That’s enough of that also. If there is any

conversation I look to avoid, it would include

religion and politics.)

Another aspect of sports that is so special is that

nothing can be scripted. There are no re-runs,

and you can never know what the outcome will

be. Sometimes, it seems like everything else we

watch is predictable or repeated. Reality shows

basically follow the same script every year: Throw

strangers together in a somewhat cramped space,

add alcohol and Rednecks or steroid-loving males

with a few fiery females with daddy issues or “I’m

a Princess” mindset, and “suddenly” you have

every season of every reality show that has been

produced in the past 10 years.

Sporting events have the ability to take

you back to a certain place in time and the exact

location you witnessed something so special that

the stories of that event and that one unbelievable

play or catch comes up in conversations not only

between friends but has the ability to connect

generations.

For instance, on Feb. 3, 2008, I was at a lifelong

friend’s house watching my beloved New York

football Giants play the New England Patriots

in the Super Bowl. Late in the fourth quarter,

Eli Manning pulled off an escape from what

looked like a certain sack to throw a completion

to David Tyree, a little-known wide receiver from

Syracuse University.

That famous catch is considered by many to

be the greatest play in Super Bowl history. It was

one moment in time that I was lucky enough not

only to see live but also to experience with many

special friends. That reception lead to a miracle

victory over the previously undefeated Patriots,

who were looking to create history as being the

first team ever to go 19-0.

I’m not trying to change anyone’s view on

whether they like sports or not. Trust me, if any

of you readers would like to discuss cooking

techniques, gardening tips, or whether or not

you have ever spotted an Eastern Towhee (that’s

a bird, by the way), I am your man.

What I hope you take away from this column is

that what really matters in life – and sports – are

the moments you can’t script or even explain.

Those are the moments that you can recall and

lead to a shake of your head at how it happened or

maybe even a tear in your eye when you remember

where you were and who you were with.

Experiences like those are why I love sports

so much and appreciate the ongoing unwritten

drama that only a live sporting event can provide.

So, if want to spend your afternoons watching

“Keeping Up With The Kardashians,” I can’t stop

you. However, (spoiler alert ahead), I can tell you

the next episode will feature characters with low

self-esteem and high bank accounts who are willing

to convince you that their life is better than yours.

(Spoiler alert: Don’t believe them.)

1

UofL Hosts TYR Derby Pro Swim Meet

1The University of Louisville Swim and Dive Team hosts the

third annual TYR Derby Pro Swim Meet April 26 to 28. The

weekend will consist of a Drowning Prevention Clinic at Ralph

Wright Natatorium, a silent auction and dinner and the meet

itself. The emcee for the event this year is 6-time Olympic gold

medalist and 39-time World Champion Ryan Lochte.

On April 26, the UofL swimmers will host a Drowning

Prevention Clinic at Ralph Wright Natatorium from 4 to 5:30

p.m. On April 27, there will be a dinner and a silent and live

auction at the PNC Club at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium with

the pro athletes for sponsors and fans to attend. On April 28,

from 12 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., Lochte will host a swim clinic and

teach champion performance techniques, including water

instruction on strokes, starts, turns and streamline. After

the clinic, Lochte will host an autograph session and photo

session. The meet itself will start at 4:30 p.m. April 28 at Ralph

Wright Natatorium.

Tickets can be purchased at www.derbyproswim.com.