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Thank you

I’ll never forget reading Bryan Smithson’s blog. I was about to start my Freshman season at Furman University and would face Smithson (and his teammate 7’7″ Kenny George) in my first college game. I thought that blogging could be a good way to keep my friends and family informed on my life as a student athlete. Over the next 5 years, this blog would be the catalyst for a career in social media.

If you read my blog over the years you followed me through the struggles of playing at Furman and my attempts to guard a young Stephen Curry. Followed me through the lifechanging leap of faith when I decided to transfer. Followed me to the University of Georgia as I went from a walk on to a scholarship player starting the first 3 games of our 2010-2011 NCAA Tournament season. Followed me as I shot trick shots on national television and got knocked out by Charles Barkley. Followed me as I interned at ESPN and then at the United States Olympic Committee. Finally, you followed me as I left UGA with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees and joined the real world.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Without the page views, Followers, Retweets, and YouTube views, who knows if I’d be where I am today.

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  • My Friend Brian: Part 2

    Last weekend, I posted an entry about my good friend Brian and his participation in the Special Olympics.

    I was thrilled to get a call from Brian’s family asking if I’d be interested in joining Brian’s team as a “unified partner” in an upcoming exhibition game. I decided to come out of retirement for this special occasion.

    Last night, I joined the Special Ks program for their exhibition at Centennial High School.  It was Brian’s first game of 5-on-5 and he was his team’s, or should I say our team’s, leading scorer with 4 points.

    Here are the highlights:

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  • My Friend Brian

    A few years ago a kid named Brian came to UGA’s shooting camp. We were partners in all of the drills and he wowed everybody with his shooting touch. We became friends after spending all day together at camp.

    Brian would send me messages before all of my games wishing me luck and came to as many as he could. He always wore his #20 shirt and would wait for me after the games.

    Today, Brian had his first career basketball games in the Special Olympics, and I was finally able to cheer him on the way he did for me. I had to smile when leading up to the tournament, Brian told me he wanted to come off the bench because that’s what I did at Georgia.  I’m so happy to call him my friend.

    With his team down 2 with 10 seconds to go, Brian swished a shot from the baseline, pointed at the camera, and put on his “3 goggles”:

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  • Vote for Mike Heider for Homecoming

    I’ve always told everybody who would listen that I had the best high school teammates of all time. One of them, Mike Heider, was a sophomore when I was a senior on the varsity team. He has been nominated to the UGA homecoming court and I’d love to see him win.

    Mike gave me a little more info. Please spread this to whoever you may know in the UGA community.

    I hope this message finds you well. I was recently selected to be on the UGA Homecoming court and would like to personally ask you for your vote.

    I am a senior in Terry majoring in Finance and International Business. Upon graduation, I will be joining Goldman Sachs’ Investment Banking division in New York City. During my time at the University, I have served as the President of several Terry and Honor’s organizations including the Corsair Society and founding the Cavalier Business Society, focusing on engaging Freshmen and Sophomores into the business environment at a younger age.

    Health permitting, my escort will be my mom, who has been battling brain cancer for the last several years. At the beginning of this semester, we found out that my mother’s brain cancer had returned. She has attempted to schedule her chemotherapy treatments around this weekend in hopes that she will be able to walk with me on the field this Saturday. I have chosen the American Cancer Society as my philanthropy for Homecoming.

    Please take 15 seconds to vote for me on Oasis. It should be the bottom button on the very first page. I sincerely appreciate your vote, and please feel free to pass this message on to friends and roommates.

    Best regards,
    Mike Heider

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    Mike (#3) and I (#20) in 2006

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  • This Sports Fan’s Dream Summer

    I remember applying for an internship at the United States Olympic Committee thinking that despite my experience, my resume would probably get lost in the hundreds or even thousands of applicants.

    A few weeks later, I was accepting an offer to work in the Marketing Department in the Digital Media group. When I left home at the end of May, I was embarking on a sports fan’s dream summer…

    Oklahoma City wasn’t exactly on the route from Atlanta to Colorado Springs but I had to make a stop there.  May 31st  was Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals. The Thunder trailed the Spurs 2-0 in the best of 7 series going into the game but KD and crew dominated the Spurs in front of the most electric crowd I’ve seen at the NBA level.

    From OKC, I made my way to Colorado Springs, CO where I would spend the next 3 months living at the Olympic Training Center and working for the United States Olympic Committee. That was a sports fan’s dream in itself.

    I lived with around 30 other interns in dorms that we shared with Boxers, Wrestlers, Swimmers, the cycling teams from Germany and the Netherlands, and others. We dined with none other than Michael Phelps and John Orozco.

    My favorite experiences were meeting athletes like gold medalist Jordan Burroughs and 3 time Olympic Boxer Rau’Shee Warren on video shoots for the TeamUSA YouTube channel.

    I was able to make trips into Denver to watch fellow Milton High School grad Dexter Fowler play for the Colorado Rockies as well as Peyton Manning make his first start for the Denver Broncos in the preseason.

    I was able to travel to London for the 2012 Paralympics to work with the US Olympic Committee’s Paralympic communications team. I was credentialed as a journalist and was able to go to all of the London 2012 venues and experienced the Games like very few did. I could write on and on about this but the captions for the photos will have to suffice.

    I was also was able to see 2 of the best soccer teams in the world (Chelsea and Barcelona) play and win in their home stadiums.

    Looking back, I can’t believe I was able to see and experience everything I did.

     

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  • Headed to Greece

    As an 18 year old moving into my dorm to start summer school at Furman University, the first person I met was a senior by the name of George Brozos. George showed me the ropes my freshman year and was definitely one of my favorite teammates I’ve ever played with.

    He was always one of the hardest workers but also had a hilarious sense of humor. Here is my favorite story from the year We played together:

    After the first closed scrimmage of my career, my coach gave me the ultimate compliment. After taking a couple of charges, rebounding well, and hitting a few open shots, our head coach said this during the film session, “Connor Nolte is going to play a lot of minutes this year. If everybody plays like Connor did in that scrimmage, we’re going to have a good year.”

    Fast forward a few weeks. We were sitting in the locker room, deflated after another loss. We started the season 0-7. George looked around the room and stood up to make an announcement in his almost-fluent English. “Guys, I’ve been thinking and I think I know what the problem is…. Do you remember when Coach told us we need to play more like Nolte? We need to stop doing that!!”

    Even I had to laugh.

    George had to return to Greece after he finished his career at Furman to serve in the Greek military for 2 years. He also was able to start his professional career in his hometown of Thessaloniki.

    I always told George I would visit him in Greece one day, with both of us assuming that would never happen. Tomorrow I fly from Rome to Thessaloniki to see a great friend I haven’t seen in 4 years.

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  • London 2012

    Editors note: I wrote this post a few days ago at a McDonald’s in Paris. I was downloading a walking audio tour for my trip to the Louvre on my phone and writing on my iPad. All of a sudden, 3 three kids 8-10 years old came into the restaurant walked over to me as I was looking down, and started waving crossword puzzles in my face and yelling. I knew something was up and was telling them no and tried to push them away. They finally left and I let out a sigh of relief, thankful that they were gone. I looked back down at the countermand my heart sank as I realized that my iPhone was gone forever. I had heard of the scam before but it got the best of me.

    Anyway, here is a post about my time in London:

    The summer of London 2012 is officially finished. I’m still trying to comprehend it all. From going to all of the London venues, interviewing athletes, working with some awesome people, and seeing Jay-Z, Rihanna, and Coldplay on the same stage playing Run This Town at the Closing Ceremony, it was an unbelievable 2 weeks.

    I’m soooo thankful and grateful for all of the people at the US Olympic Committee who helped make this dream of mine a reality.

    I flew to London just before the Paralympics hoping to see an event or two here and there and work primarily behind the scenes.

    I ended up going to the Opening AND Closing ceremonies, created around 20 photo galleries (with the photos of some awesome photographers: Felix Chen, Buzz Covington, Laura Evans, Joe Kusumoto), and posted photos to the Instagram account.

    The accomplishment/opportunity I am most proud of and most thankful to have been given was the role I was given as a journalist.

    Here’s an general recap of my experience:

    I wrote 10-15 recaps of events throughout the Games.

    I covered and/or attended 8 different sports during the Games: Weelchair basketball, Archery, Goalball, Swimming, Track and Field, Track cycling, Judo, and Sitting volleyball.

    In general, the press seating was incredible, with the track and field section being right at the finish line.

    The media also has access to the mixed zone. I would always try to see as much of the event as I could and then run down a flight or two of stairs and get to the tunnel the athletes take to get to the locker room just in time to interview them.

    I was actually talking to Jarryd Wallace down there after the 400m semis when the start list for the final came up and he realized he qualified for it.

    After the 400m final, I was waiting to talk to Jarryd and the other Americans in the race (silver – Leeper, bronze – Prince) when gold medalist Oscar Pistorius walked up.

    Being the first person these athletes see after competing and being able to interview, congratulate them, and tell them how proud the US is of them is something I will never forget.

    I’m not going to sit here and tell you my writing will be winning any Pulitzers, but I believe I was able to share some truly great stories from the games and also simply recap events that otherwise might have gone unreported.

    Since I had never been to Europe before this trip, I decided to take advantage of being here and do some traveling. I’ll be hitting Paris, Rome, Florence, Greece, Barcelona, and Madrid!

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  • Dude Perfect

    There is a good chance you found out about my blog due to the trick shot videos I made during the year that I was redshirting. You can imagine my reaction when I found out that the trick shot legends from Dude Perfect were going to be shooting a video on campus at the Olympic Training Center.

    My friend Dom, who is interning in the broadcast department, and I were on location for the shoot and were responsible for putting together the behind the scenes video on the TeamUSA channel.  Here is the video we put together followed by the official video by the Dude Perfect guys.  Look for a cameo or two by yours truly.

     

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  • Delicate few

    There are 25 or so other interns here at the USOC this summer and some of us decided to make a weekend trip to Denver.

    Rockies-Phillies: It was a cool experience to see fellow Milton Eagle Dexter Fowler playing center field for the Rockies. He’s been in the majors since ’08 but this was my first time seeing him in person.  He actually played basketball up until his senior year of high school.  When he stopped playing basketball at the start of his Sr. year of high school, I was a freshman and eagerly took the open roster spot.

    I stayed the night in Denver and Sunday morning drove 15 miles west to a mythical place I’d only heard about.

    O.A.R. at Red Rocks:  O.A.R. was the first real concert I ever saw and last night was the 13th time I’ve seen the band live.  It was a big night because we were at the historic Red Rocks Amphitheater, the show was being broadcast live on TV, and the band was recording their own version for a DVD and CD release.  But what made it more special was the fact that I was given backstage passes and got to talk with the band before the show.  Surprisingly, the guys seemed pretty nervous about the show. They’ve played at Red Rocks 5+ times but the live broadcast and DVD recording was getting to them.

    The best part about getting to go backstage was somewhat unexpected.  Joining us backstage was an athlete I had seen around campus at the Olympic Training Center, 4-time Olympian Hunter Kemper.  In a couple weeks, he will be representing the United States in the triathlon in London. Being sponsored by Duracell, he was able to meet O.A.R. at the recording of the song Champions ft B.o.B.. Hunter is another guy I can’t wait to cheer for in London. He made sure all of the O.A.R. guys knew it was my 13th show and by their reactions, I could tell how much the band appreciates their fans. If you get a minute, check out Hunter’s web site and the shirts he has for sale with all proceeds going towards supporting kids with A-T.

    The concert was amazing. The band played for a little over 2 hours. For the first song of the encore, the lead singer and guitarist came up to a mini stage by the soundboard just above our seats.  I’m looking forward to seeing the show on DVD because it is hard to appreciate everything going on when you’re in that venue. Everywhere you look you have breathtaking views and the sound is amazing.

    Here are some pictures from the show:

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  • Interning at the USOC

    Wow. The first 6 weeks of my internship with the United States Olympic Committee have flown by. Its been extra busy here with the London 2012 games rapidly approaching but that means I’ve been able to work on some really cool projects. For those of you that have been asking about my summer, here are some of the things I’ve been doing:

    • Instagram: I made it a priority to help Team USA launch its Instagram account from Day 1. We launched it a week after I got here and, as of right now, we have 6300+ followers. You can check out the account here.
    • YouTube: The USOC launched its YouTube Channel right when I arrived. I’ve been able to help out by occasionally uploading or tagging content we post.  One of my favorite parts of my job is related to YouTube; whenever producers come on campus to shoot videos with Olympians, I get to escort the production crews.  I’ve met some great people who have put together some great videos. I was on set for the filming of this video of Jordan Burroughs, a wrestler who has a great shot at winning the gold medal in London:
    • TeamUSA.org: My department is responsible for Team USA’s website. My fellow intern, Sarah Higgins (also a blogger), and I have been posting a good percentage of the content that goes up on the site. We receive the content from the writers and make sure it looks good when it gets up on the site. A major undertaking has been Athlete Biographies.  Every time an athlete qualifies, one of us adds him/her to the list of qualifiers. We are constantly working on the bios adding photos and updating the text. I do the photos, Sarah does the text. I’d say that the coolest part of my job was creating the bio for UGA’s Shannon Vreeland who will be representing the USA in swimming.

    Last night, there was a sendoff for the USA Boxing team. They’ve been training on campus for the last week and a half or so.  I’ve gotten to know a couple of them from some video shoots we’ve done.  They have some really amazing stories and I can’t wait to cheer for them when they compete in London.

    I have a busy weekend planned. This afternoon a bunch of the interns here are heading to Coor’s Field to watch a fellow Milton graduate, Dexter Fowler, play for the Rockies.  We’re staying in Denver overnight and then heading to the O.A.R. concert at Red Rocks tomorrow night.

     

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  • Video Resume

    As you may know, I am currently working on my master’s degree in Sport Management. I will be finished with courses in May, needing only a summer internship to finish school! I am applying to intern at a couple different companies that are places I am extremely interested in working for once I am out of school. One of those companies is Under Armour.

    Here is a video resume I put together specifically for consideration for an Under Armour internship. The application has an optional question: “Why do you deserve a spot on the roster?”

    Let me know what you think!

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  • I’ll Be Back…

    I will return to blogging once the 2011-2012 season is over. Thanks for checking out the blog. Enjoy this video in the meantime:

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