WORLD DIABETES DAY

Today is World Diabetes Day. To educate a little about diabetes and football, I’m sharing a post from my son’s devotional book – First and Goal – What Football Taught Me About Never Giving Up published by Harvest House Publishers.

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photo by Sean O’Toole

Jake is a type 1 diabetic who pushed hard, fighting against diabetes highs and lows to climb to the pinnacle of football success and play in the NFL.

This month, National Diabetes Awareness Month, Jake is giving $1 from each AUTOGRAPHED copy of his book sold to the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.) 

First and Goal is filled with short anecdotes and stories about overcoming and faith. Below is a devotional story, the first one in Jake’s book where he shares his diagnosis story. This A-Z football devotional is filled with short inspirational clips of his life, faith walk, and journey into the NFL.

Audible  – When the quarterback changes the play at the line of scrimmage, based on the defensive formation, he calls an audible, which is a better-suited play.

01f5b5aca74f53007313ae467f0f98784ea4d3f3edBeginning my freshman year in high school, through hard work, dedication, and by the grace of God I’d earned a starting spot as an offensive tackle on our football team. Standing at 6 feet 5 and weighing in as a 240-pound 14-year-old, I was one of the team’s biggest players. With early interest from college scouts, I ran full steam ahead, thinking I had life all figured out.

By the time the season had ended, I’d dropped 40 pounds and suffered from constant fatigue. The drastic weight loss confused me, my parents, and the coaches. I ate like a ravenous wolf and worked out constantly, hoping to gain weight. Instead, I shed pounds like a German shepherd sheds fur.

An unseen offense had launched a full-scale attack against my body. First, relentless hunger and weight loss. Then, the thirst. I guzzled gallons of Gatorade and water. My constant bathroom breaks annoyed my teachers and had me worried.

At the doctor’s office I expected a prescription for a bladder infection. Instead, I got rocked by the hardest hit I’d ever taken: a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes.

I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 ).

Diabetes meant a major lifestyle change. My endocrinologist assured me I could still play football—but only if I did everything by the book. I had to call my own audible. This disease forced me onto my own personal line of scrimmage, where I had to come up with a new game plan and change my mind-set. Controlling my blood sugar meant huge dietary adjustments. I had to act as my own pancreas, injecting proper amounts of insulin each time I consumed carbs in order to maintain healthy sugar levels.

Support from family, friends, and coaches carried me through difficult moments, along with a peaceful reassurance that God cared about my plans, hopes, and dreams. Have you been there? Believed you had your game plan all figured out, only to take a hit from an unexpected challenge? Have faith and listen to the audible God is calling. Trust that He has plans for you—good plans for a future and greater plans than you can ever imagine.

Houston JDRF Ad 3Want a copy of First and Goal autographed to you or a special someone? $1 from the sale goes to support the JDRF. Click here Great motivational devotional for anyone. 

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12016186_10156044039905635_176705038_oWRITING PROMPT: Know a diabetic? Type 1 or Type 2? Think of a character with high goals and dreams. Bam! They get hit with a diabetes diagnosis. How do they react. Also, if you use a diabetic character in your writing make sure you do some research into the differences between type one and type two. Type 1 diabetes has no cure. It’s an autoimmune disease. It means you are completely insulin dependent. Type 2 is curable.

Jake Byrne grew up in Rogers, Arkansas. A type 1 diabetic since the age of fourteen, he has since been proactive combating the disease and mentoring diabetic youth. He played football for the University of Wisconsin as a tight end, and went on to compete in the NFL. Originally an undrafted free agent who signed with the New Orleans Saints in 2012, he has also been a Houston Texan, Kansas City Chief, and San Diego Charger. Jake lives in Dallas with his wife, Emma, and two four-legged kids: Duke the Dogo Argentino and Yeti the Great Dane.

Jake blogs at www.typewon.net. He can be reached through the following social media:

Facebook Page (Type Won): www.facebook.com/typewon1

Twitter: @sugarfreejb82

Instagram: Jakebyrne81

Email: typewonquestions@gmail.com

High School Football and the Age of Innocence

by Harriet Michael

On a late August night, the temperature still sweltering and people still sweating even as the sun went down, I stood on the field with my fellow cheerleaders. A harvest moon rose over our heads and our hearts filled with hope as we eagerly awaited the opening game of what should be a great season. We had most of our starting players returning. I was the co-captain of the cheerleaders. The outlook for this season, my senior year, was promising.

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It was the fall of 1975–many years ago. Much has happened since that warm August night. Karen, the captain of the cheerleaders, and my close friend, died just three years later in a double murder which is still unsolved. Her death shattered the innocence of the sleepy little mountain town in southern West Virginia where I lived. Other members of that team have passed away as well, but we have a few success stories. Donnie, the offensive captain, played football at Wake Forest University. He is now the CFO of an Atlanta-based business. Wayne, a junior that year, also played football at Wake Forest, setting some Atlantic Coast Conference receiving records while there. Joey, the quarterback, is a tenured professor now. I married, moved to Louisville, raised four children, and eventually became a writer. Those of my classmates who remain see each other once in a while at class reunions.

Reunion weekend always starts with tickets to the Beaver-Graham game. It is tradition for my high school, the Bluefield Beavers, to start their season playing cross-town rivals, the Graham G-Men. This annual match up in the same stadium we used in 1975 has much the same feel as it did back then. There is still the cracking of helmets, enthusiastic cheerleaders on the sidelines, excited fans, and the hot August night sky still boasts a harvest moon.

Young Again

As I sat in the stands on such an August evening a few years ago, my mind could not help but wander to bygone days and I was once again on the field next to my friend Karen cheering our team on. We lost only one game that year. Hopes faded as our team dropped into fifth place in the statewide poll. Back then, only the top four teams in the state earned the privilege of moving on to post season play-offs.

But in the middle of the last game of the season, our luck changed. Over the public address system, the announcer loudly proclaimed that George Washington High School was beating Charleston in their season’s last game. A cheer rang out, first in a low rumble then building to a frenzy as the impact of the news sank in. If George Washington could pull out a win against #4 Charleston, it would change the ratings. Charleston would fall to fifth and we would move up into that much coveted fourth place position, gaining a right to post-season action.

As the second half of both games progressed, forgetting our own game which we were handily winning, we waited with bated breath for each update on the other game, several hours away. Finally, the last announcement came–Charleston lost! Our own win a few moments later was rather anticlimactic. We were flying high just the same because we knew we were headed to the state football play-offs!

Play-offs, Here We Come!

The semi-final game pitted my high school, fourth-ranked Bluefield, against first-ranked and unbeaten Buchannan–Upshur. The Buck–Ups had a player named Tinker Jackson, reputed to be the top running back in the state. Our lead scorer’s name was Donnie Jackson. Someone in our fan club had made a huge sign that read, “Our Jackson is better than your Jackson.” The game ended with Bluefield routing Buchannan–Upshur 42-0! Donnie scored three touchdowns in that game. I guess our sign was right.

November 22, 1975 was the coldest ball game I have ever participated in. It would have been bad enough if I was sitting in the stands under a blanket, warming my hands around a cup of hot cocoa; but I was on the field in a cheerleader skirt which barely covered my bloomer clad butt. The layers of shirts under my thick white sweater and the gloves I wore did nothing for my exposed legs that had only a pair of sheer panty hose between them and the frigid air! I think that’s the coldest I have ever been in my life. But it was worth it. We came from behind at the half to claim the title with a 20-7 victory.

That was many years ago and much has happened since. But hidden away in my heart will always be the treasured experience of cheering for the 1975 West Virginia AAA High School Football Champions. Every fall when the leaves look festive, the air feels crisp, and harvest moons hang in the sky like giant pumpkins; America turns attention to its favorite pastime and my mind remembers days gone by, dear friends I have lost, and the glories of high school football in the age of innocence.

Showcase of Photos for Beaver-Graham Games


 

HarrietMichaelBorn in Nigeria, West Africa, as the daughter of missionaries, Harriet Michael is a writer, gardener, wife of over 35 years, mother of four, and grandmother of one.

She holds a BS in nursing from West Virginia University but has discovered her passion for writing. Since her first published article in 2010, she now has over a hundred and fifty published articles and devotions.

Harriet is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Louisville Christian Writers. Her book, Prayer: It’s Not About You, a finalist in the 2011 Women of Faith book contest, is set for release in September, 2015 by Pix-N-Pens Publishing Company.

HUDDLE!

This months theme on Writing Prompts is Football. Great topic for a football mom–Nick (tight end) is playing for the Ragin’ Cajuns at the University of Louisiana – Lafayette and my older son Jake (tight-end) played for the Wisconsin Badgers and also in the NFL. We are definitely a football family.

Nick, sister Betsy, and Jake

Nick, sister Betsy, and Jake

Instead of my thoughts about football, what better than thoughts from the guy who played in the NFL. Here’s an excerpt from my son Jake’s A-Z devotional book – First and Goal – What Football Taught Me About Never Giving Up. Jake is a type one diabetic who never gave up his dreams. Harvest House Publishers released his book on August 1, 2015 just in time for football season.

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HuddleA large circle formation taken by the players on the field prior to the start of the play. In the huddle, the quarterback (offense) or linebacker (defense) informs the players which play will be run, along with words of encouragement.

“I can’t go,” Phil Supernaw said. “I’ll just be a burden.”

“Huddle!” I said to my teammates. Phil, a tight end for the Texans, had suffered a football injury–a broken foot–and couldn’t walk. My buddies and I wanted to get out of Houston and attend a concert in Austin, but we couldn’t leave Phil behind.

“We’ll find a wheelchair.” Ben Jones grabbed his smart phone and started searching.

“No player should be left behind.” Cody White pumped a fist in the air. “You’re coming with us.”

I clapped my hands and then pointed. “You two. Interlock arms and make a chair. Carry him. I’ll get my pickup.”

We hefted Phil out to my truck and drove around town in search of the medical supply store. Finally, with the wheelchair in back and my buddies in the truck, I parked at the concert. We lifted Phil into the chair and wheeled him to Will Call, where our tickets were being held.

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Jake pushing NFL player, Phil Supernaw

A smiling young woman behind the counter glanced at the tickets. Her smile faded and she shook her head. “These are for the general public. There’s no wheelchair access.”
“If one of us can’t get in, none of us will go.” I crossed my arms. The others nodded.

Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24-25).

The girl looked at Phil and sighed. “Y’all are so sweet to care for your friend.” She smiled. “Wait here. I’ll be right back.”

A few minutes later she returned with special tickets to the VIP area close to the stage and back stage passes too!

Huddles are used in sports to bring everyone together, discuss strategies, and encourage individuals. On offense, the quarterback relays the plays in the huddle. On defense, the captain relays the coach’s instructions for the proper alignment and how to defend the expected play. Words of encouragement are passed in the huddle to keep each other motivated and to keep the game plan in sight.

In our huddle, we had decided we couldn’t attend a concert and leave a teammate behind, especially one who was injured and downhearted. In the end, our commitment toward each other gained us VIP passes and we all had a great time, a night we’ll never forget.

Vince Lombardi once said, “Individual commitment to a group effort–that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”

Got a player on your team who is weak? Downhearted? Are you? Gather your team, discuss strategy, and encourage one another. If the plan benefits the entire team, a successful outcome will follow.

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Excerpt from my son’s book, First and Goal – What Football Taught Me About Never Giving Up. Available in Christian Book Stores, Barnes and Noble and online books sellers. Link to the Amazon site. A great gift for anyone with obstacles to overcome.

Writing Prompt: When did you have to huddle and work as a team to get a job done?  Have you had to carry someone in prayer to get them through a rough spot?

Football Frenzy – Sports Chick

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Latoscia Mason – “Crazy Card Fan”

I don’t think it’s as rare as it once was–to run across a female sports fanatic.  If you asked me for an example of one, I wouldn’t have to give it a thought. I’d say my friend, Latoscia Mason. If you asked me for an example of a Godly woman, I’d give you the same answer. Can they coexist? Absolutely. Here’s her story:

Growing up with my Dad was an adventure to say the least. He was a sports person who loved to read and watch sports. As the older of his two girls, he would challenge me to read the sports page to him every morning as soon as it hit the front porch from delivery. Instead of talking about boys and ponytails, we talked about teams and pigskin.

I learned a lot about every sport while spending precious moments with my Dad. The words of the Courier-Journal came alive and stirred up a passion in me that made me not only want to read about sports, but also play them.

IMG_3427I loved basketball growing up. I played from middle school on, and went to the Kentucky High School State Tournament three out of the four years I was in high school. Losing the state tournament championship by one point to Whitley County in April 1985 was a horrible defeat, but I enjoyed every moment of that journey. Even though I do not play basketball often anymore, I have grown to love the mud races that bring out my Army ties, as I low-crawl through the mud under barbed wire in my tutu!

MudderI was born a University of Louisville Cardinal and love my city as well as my alma mater! I shall never forget celebrating the 1980 Basketball Championship and singing “This Is It” with my Dad. As a freshman, I celebrated the 1986 Basketball Championship in the Red Barn on campus, screaming with exhilaration with hundreds of Uof L students. These memories I shall never forget.

There is something magical and mesmerizing about fall and football that gets me revved up like most partiers on New Year’s Eve. I do not know if it is the warm colors of orange and brown, the leaves falling from the cool, crisp air, or the sounds of whistles, grunts, and football pads clashing in major match ups. I call this time of year, “My Zone!”

Latoschia FCA typical weekend consists of cheering on my sons and their local high school team, watching the Paul Finebaum show on Friday. Saturdays are college football heaven as I cheer on the CARDS and Bama football, as well as take in some Top 25 action. Sundays are full of channel surfing trying to catch the big plays from all the NFL games.

Fall is an awesome time to celebrate the harvest as well as cheer on my favorite football teams.

God blessed me with the sons my Dad never had. We watch sports together and all three of them play some type of sport. I am their #1 Fan in everything they do. We are passionate about our teams and these sports moments shape our lives and give us opportunities to bond and cherish as we interact one with the other. I love our adventures as we cheer on our favorite teams be it UofL, Bama, or UK. U of L plays Bama in 2018! We are definitely a house divided by teams, but united by love.

bama famI love being a sports Mom. I love cheering on my children and encouraging them to be team players in all areas of life. Some may find my passion a little obsessive and maybe even over the top, but I enjoy every second of it. There is nothing like the adrenaline that flows through my veins when my teams are playing. I am the ultimate fanatic! I love to dress up in my sports gear from head to toe and cheer on my teams regardless if they win or lose.

I love sports so much; I decided to obtain my Masters in Education in Sports Administration. Sports come natural to me, almost like breathing. I am enthused by the camaraderie that being part of and cheering for a team brings.

I remember sitting on the porch listening to Churchill Downs stories with my Granddad Benjamin Bell (my Dad’s Dad). He taught me a lot about the horse racing industry and wagering. Horses are my favorite animals and I countdown the days to the fastest two minutes in sports. I wish my Granddad had been alive to see American Pharaoh. I love the Kentucky Derby, too.

258727_2123668580120_4178106_oLife is meant to be enjoyed and lived to the fullest. The happiest moments come when we explore our purpose and our passion. Life without sports, to me would be mundane and boring. I am beyond blessed to be able to cheer, take over the TV remote at home, and travel to see my favorite teams in action.

I love my favorite teams, but they are not idols to me. They are outlets of fun, a healthy way to rid myself of pent-up frustrations, and a great way to encourage and cheer on others. I love my teams, being a team player, and growing up in a family that enjoys all kinds of sporting events. I am a woman that loves her sports!

 

 

Know Your Players

By Robin E. Mason

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Growing up, I loathed football. Don’t know why. All’s I remember is some boring game on the TV in black and white, no less, on Thanksgiving Day. I wasn’t a rah-rah in high school and definitely wasn’t one of the cool people. Read: jocks. I was happy on stage in the theatre department. Football had no appeal to me.

Fast forward a few years. (And this a testament to the power of luv.) After my divorce, I had a boyfriend who was a die-hard Denver Broncos fan. The type who would paint himself orange and blue if he ever had an opportunity to go to a game. Now, I could have done any number of things when the game was on, even nap next to him as he watched. Rather, his enthusiasm was contagious and I caught the bug. Plus, he explained things to me, helped me understand the game. I couldn’t sit and offer much in the way of understanding now, but I still like the game. And though it’s been several years (okay, many years) and we’ve long since parted ways, I remain a Broncos fan and I owe it to him.

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The sound of a football game signals the start of fall. It echoes with the crunch of leaves falling to the ground, hazy sky from bonfires, and marching bands playing on the home field.

Organized sports, done right, teaches sportsmanship. It builds character and gives players a chance to learn their strengths. And their weaknesses. These are both important to know, in any profession or endeavor.

Quote from The Blind Side, the movie:

“Coach Cotton: What did you say to him?

Leigh Anne Touhy: You should really get to know your players. Michael scored in the 98th percentile in protective instincts.”

She knew Michael’s strength, the coach did not.

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Not everyone is cut out for sports. I’m one. I’ll watch, but I don’t play. And that’s okay. I can still learn from teamwork and sportsmanship. Knowing my strengths and weaknesses is a must, regardless of my profession. Teachers come to mind. A teacher must know his or her own strengths and weaknesses before they face a room of blank faces staring at them, expecting some level of knowledge to be passed on. Even more, a teacher must learn his or her students’ strengths and weaknesses; not every student learns the same. Not every method of teaching – or coaching – reaches every student or player.

Same with writers. If I don’t know my strengths and weaknesses, I can spend hours in an endeavor that is better suited to pass along to another who is better qualified. Flip side, I have much to offer – my strengths balances another’s weakness, and vice versa. And let’s not even get started on our characters strengths and weaknesses…

In the end, isn’t that what life is about, that we, as individuals, balance each other? Are we not all created as individually as snowflakes? Have we not all been given gifts to share with others, with the Body of Christ? Is that not our identity, to be who God created each of us to be, strengths and weaknesses and all?

So who’s your team? NFL? College football? High school? Your star players? Me, I’m a John Elway fan from my early football-fan years. What about the most highly anticipated game of the season? Any rivalries that are must-watch games?

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Writing Prompt:

Write a football scene in which you are the coach. What are your strengths that you can give to your team? What are your weaknesses that are best passed to your assistant coach?


ME - 041115 - cropped“I once said I should write down all the story ideas in my head so someone could write them someday. I had no idea at the time that someone was me!

Ms. Mason has been writing since 1995, and began working in earnest on her debut novel, Tessa in 2013. She resides in the Upstate of South Carolina since 1988. She is currently working on Clara Bess, the sequel to Tessa, which will be released in November of this year.

Come visit Robin at:

http://robinsnest212.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Robin-E-Mason-Author-Artist/224223274404877

http://www.amazon.com/Robin-E.-Mason/e/B00MR5IQ9S

https://twitter.com/amythyst212

#everythingfootball, #NFL, #denverbroncos, #johnelway, #theblindside