PA football team featured in Eastbay video, gets visit from Cowboys player

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 12.40.13 PM

DeMarco Murray visited Pulaski Academy football coach Kevin Kelley and his players during a recent workout and shoot for Eastbay.

Pulaski Academy football got a dose of more national exposure this week when online sporting goods company Eastbay highlighted the Bruins’ unique philosophy in a feature called Preparation Nation.
The video, posted on YouTube includes footage of PA players working out using tires, platforms and pushing a pickup truck. There are also soundbites from coach Kevin Kelley describing PA’s philosophy that includes no punting and onside kicks on most every kickoff. Kelley also touches on the upbeat tempo the Bruins employ that includes snapping the ball as soon as the referee whistles the ball in play.
A cool twist comes around the halfway point of the video when Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray walks on to the field after Kelley tells his team “We’ve got a guy that came to us because he is always looking for that extra edge — DeMarco Murray.” Murray participates in some of the drills with the team and encourages the players. He also is interviewed and admits he hasn’t seen anything like PA’s approach to football.
Kelley is a lifelong Cowboys fan, … Read more >

World Cup Block Party Makes for Interesting Experience

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The street is blocked off. The aroma of brats cooking on a charcoal grill hangs in the air. Revelers clad in red, white and blue are swilling beer and chanting. I’ve seen this scene before — Wrigleyville in Chicago, one of my favorite places on earth. Where the party nearly always overshadows the Cubs games and rare high hopes are crushed.
Unfortunately, the same scenario unfolded at Dugan’s Pub Tuesday as more than 1,000 people gathered in the street to watch a big screen as USA took on Belgium in the first round of the knockout stage.
I had mentioned in this space after USA beat Ghana in the opener, that I wasn’t going to feel pressured into catching the fever. I’m with my Sync political columnist Bill Vickery, we are all for the country winning in everything but when the Cup finishes, soccer goes back to the back of the bus.
While I’m not quick to jump on a bandwagon just because everyone else has bought an authentic USA soccer jersey, I do love a spectacle. I also love Don Dugan, a fellow Cubs fan who happens to own a very cool establishment that serves great food.
So, I … Read more >

Chuck Barrett Leaves Hog Baseball Fans With Some Great Memories

Northwest Arkansas Times File Photo
Chuck Barrett

On June 6, 2004 I was sick. I had an awful, nasty stomach bug. Dry heaving, the whole nine yards. I could barely raise my head off the pillow.
I should have been in bed, trying to sleep. Instead, I was lying on the couch with the stereo on. The rich tone of Chuck Barrett’s voice coming through the speakers. There was some tension in his voice as Brady Toops stepped to the plate with the bases loaded in the top of the ninth inning of this NCAA Regional game. Arkansas trailed 9-7 with the bases loaded and two outs. The Hogs were on the brink of elimination.
However, that is when Toops hit the shot heard round Razorback Nation and put Arkansas up 11-9. Barrett was cautiously optimistic as the ball flew off Toops’ bat. Barrett told us the ball was well-hit, but was it going to clear the wall or be a long fly out. He finally erupted when it trickled over the wall. “That ball is gone. That is a grand slam home run. Brady Toops just hit a grand slam home run, and the Razorbacks have taken the lead,” Barrett shouted.

Northwest Arkansas Times File Photo Chuck Barrett

Northwest Arkansas Times File Photo

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Travs Knock All-Star Game Experience Out of the Park

Mark L. Wagner/Arkansas Travelers
Texas League All-Star Game entertainment included an aerial acrobatics routine.

At 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dickey-Stephens Park looked more big top than ballpark. Performers in sparkly costumes twirling high above the home plate on silks. A performer painted silver, twirling fire and two others on stilts walking around the concourse. Welcome to the 78th Texas League All-Star Game.
Fans started arriving at the ballpark at 3 p.m to watch batting practice and partake in an autograph session with both squads. The Travs front office did everything they could to keep fans entrained for 5.5 hours.  Mission accomplished.
The circus performers were just part of the act. There was the Home Run Derby, a mechanical bull and hot air balloon rides and a lengthy postgame fireworks show. And by the way, there was a baseball game, which was well-played and full of spectacular plays.
Midland’s Ryan Rua won the home run derby with 16 homers. The unique part of the event was the addition of former MLB sluggers Ryan Klesko and Rick Ankiel as team captains. Klesko barely swung a couple of times and blasted bombs.
While the pitchers’ duel didn’t produce much fireworks at the plate, Springfield catcher Cody Stanley’s two-run homer in the fourth inning gave the South squad a … Read more >

My one glorious day as a pro baseball player

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As I stood nearby clad in my swamp camouflage uniform, Otey logo hat and cleats, members of the Arkansas Travelers went through a series of warmup exercises. It was a scene I have become familiar with being a sportswriter for 16 years. I was taking it in until I heard Travs strength and conditioning coach Joe Griffin yell, “You want a day in the life, get out here.” It was my “welcome-to-the-minor-leagues moment” while I spent a day with the team for an article I wrote for Sync magazine. And while Griffin was half kidding, I got my 39-year-old butt out there and stretched, jogged, threw and swung with the rest of the Travs players. Thanks to Griffin, manager Phillip Wellman, clubhouse manager Geoff Freedman and all of the other players and staff, I was a member of the team for one glorious day. As we were changing into street clothes after the game, the reality sank in that my pro baseball days were over. As I took my time getting dressed, the energetic catcher, Jett Bandy, who was two lockers down, asked, “Hey Olson, what was your favorite part of today?” I said, “Batting practice,” but really Read more >