JJ Watt and Ronda Rousey are both dominate in their respective sports. Some of their success is due to their physical gifts and tenacity on the field and in the ring. Another reason for their dominance and all the accolades that they have attained is because of their training.
Today JJ Watt unveiled his first ad campaign with Reebok, after announcing a partnership with the brand in April. In the video below that launches on August 1, Watt stars with Rousey looking to empower others to take a “Deep Breath” and ignite the fire within to get through the toughest of your workout.
To help JJ and Ronda take fitness and training to the next level they use the new ZPump Fusion running sneakers, available for purchase at Reebok.com and Finish Line locations.
A day before the ESPYs, Gatorade held its High School Athlete of the Year Awards in Downtown Los Angeles. The awards show was packed with the top athletes of today celebrating the achievements of young athletes primed to be the future stars of tomorrow. Gatorade has been honoring high school athletes for the past 30 years, and there are some pretty big names among the past honorees. Names like LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Candace Parker, Allyson Felix and Kobe Bryant. And that’s just the Gatorade Male and Female High School Athlete of the Year honorees. Previous Gatorade National Player of the Year winners include names like Peyton Manning, Derek Jeter, Emmitt Smith, Clayton Kershaw, Chris Weber and Alonzo Mourning. It’s distinguished company to be in, for sure.
State Player of the Year awards are given to student athletes in 12 sports: boys’ baseball, boys’ football, girls’ softball, girls’ volleyball, boys’ basketball, girls’ basketball, boys’ cross country, girls’ cross country, boys’ soccer, girls’ soccer, boys’ track & field, and girls’ track & field. The students in each category are recognized for individual and team achievement, academic achievement and character and community service. From the pool of state players, Gatorade awards 12 students with National Player of the Year honors. From this pool of 12 athletes, one male and one female are selected to receive Athlete of the Year awards.
Candace Hill was named Female High School Athlete of the Year. She was the first sophomore to take home the honor and the youngest athlete to ever win the Gatorade National Player of the Year award. She’s the first high school female athlete to run a sub-11 second 100-meter dash. She’s basically the fastest woman under 20 years old. Oh, and she has a GPA of 4.61. I can’t even imagine. Candace was competing at an event and was unable to attend the awards, but by all accounts she definitely deserves all the accolades.
Kyler Murray won Male High School Athlete of the Year honors. The starting QB for Allen High School, Murray led his team to three straight state championships. The guy has never lost a game as a high school quarterback, going 42-0 in his career. In Texas no less. That’s crazy talk. He threw for more than 4,700 yards, 56 touchdowns and ran for nearly 1,500 yards and 25 scores. Murray is on his way to Texas A&M where he says he’s going to get some time on the field no matter what. Murray had a very quiet confidence about him. His acceptance speech was mellow and humble. But the dude knows he’s got what it takes to ball at the next level. Keep your eye on him.
Hannah Storm hosted the awards and gave a heartfelt tribute to Stuart Scott, who had previously handled hosting duties for the event before he passed away this year. His daughters were on hand and gave their dad a great tribute as well, something they would do again at the ESPYs.
After the awards ceremony, we got a chance to talk to a few of the presenters that were on hand. We asked JJ Watt about his role as a tight end. DeMarco Murray talked about the recruiting efforts of Sam Bradford to get him to Philly. Karl-Anthony Thomas chimed in on Kevin Garnett, and Abby Wambach talked about her experience as a Gatorade Athlete and her upcoming downtime following her World Cup Victory. Here’s the video:
In sports there are certain moments or plays that become iconic. There can be that one picture that as soon as your eyes see it you travel back in time to that moment. Whether it is Michael Jordan soaring from the free throw line or Carlton Fisk using body language to will a home run, we as sports fans live for moments like those.
One of these images that captures that essence is when Brandi Chastain kicked a game winning penalty kick in the 1999 Women’s World Cup. After scoring the fifth kick in the penalty shootout to give the United States the win over China in the final game, she took over her jersey and fell to the ground in jubilation. That moment will forever remain in the hearts of USA soccer fans.
I had the great pleasure of chatting with Brandi about the U.S. Women’s National Team playing their first game against Australia on June 8. We also talk about her work with Capital One to promote the Capital One Cup. This campaign celebrates both men and women student athletes. For the past few years the Capital One Cup has rewarded the best Division I programs for their cumulative athletic performances across 39 men’s and women’s sports.
Brandi Chastain led the Santa Clara University Broncos to two NCAA Division I soccer quarterfinal appearances before becoming one of the brightest stars of the US Women’s National Soccer Team. Brandi is currently the volunteer assistant coach at her alma mater.
Click here to listen to my interview with Brandi. For more information on the Capital One Cup go to www.capitalonecup.com. Follow Brandi on Twitter @brandichastain.
In the past I have had the privilege to meet some real life heroes. When Crown Royal asked me to cover the “Your Hero’s Name Here” a few years back I didn’t know what to expect. Besides meeting a ton of cool bloggers I was able to interact with some extraordinary people.
These people were men and women just like me, but went above and beyond to help their community. Whether it was here in the United States or around the world these heroes needed to have their story shared. That is where Crown Royal steps in with NASCAR and the Brickyard 400.
As the grand prize winner of Crown Royal’s annual “Your Hero’s Name Here” program, a deserving hero’s name will be etched in history with naming rights to the NASCAR race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26th, 2015. This race will mark the ninth time Crown Royal has awarded race naming rights to an adult fan. The program focuses on all of the unsung heroes who make a difference in their communities, from firefighters and police officers to first responders and local volunteers. Every year five heroic finalists are nominated and through consumer voting, one winner is chosen to have their name cemented in sports history.
Those 21 years of age or older can go to CrownRoyalHeroes.com to vote for the hero they think is most deserving of naming rights to the race. With voting closing on June 7th help out the finalists receive as many votes as possible through CrownRoyalHeroes.com
To help you decide who to vote for watch below for their stories!
Exactly 256 players heard their names called during the seven rounds of the 2015 NFL Draft. One of those guys was University of Miami (Ohio) cornerback Quinten Rollins, an intriguing prospect that the Packers selected with the 62nd pick overall. Rollins played four years of basketball in college and finished second in school history with 214 career steals. After securing a fifth year of eligibility, Rollins turned his attention to football, a sport he hadn’t played since high school.
The results were pretty impressive. Playing in just one season, Rollins racked up 72 tackles and seven interceptions in 12 games. That single season performance earned him MAC Defensive Player of the Year honors. He was invited to the Senior Bowl and kept things rolling, securing an interception in that game as well.
By all accounts, Rollins just knows how to get after it. He’s the only basketball player in Miami history to register two 7-steal games. His ball-hawking skills are unquestioned. He was a turnover machine on the football field and the guy likes to tackle, too. He may not have years of experience under his belt, but the dude’s a proven athlete who has shown that he can get results. I got a chance to chat with Rollins a couple weeks before the draft.
So what made Rollins go back to football?
“It was the right move,” he said. “I thought about playing football out of high school. I was playing both basketball and football, but basketball is the path that I chose for education purposes. It was my first opportunity to get to college. My first scholarship offer my junior year. I always knew that I would get back into football. It was just a matter of when and where. I thought about it after my sophomore year, but it didn’t happen. Then my senior year came around and I got an opportunity for a fifth year, and I just took a chance. I decided to sit down and meet with Coach Martin. I was in on a trial basis for spring ball. He gave me the opportunity to come out and earn a scholarship, and that’s what I did.”
I had read that Rollins considered playing basketball overseas, but ultimately, that idea didn’t appeal to him.
“Well, I’m a father. I had already been away from my daughter, being away at college with a 24-7 demanding schedule as far as academics and athletics go. I just didn’t want to go that far away from her. I felt like it would be better for me to stay over here in the US and get back into football. It was just a matter of when and where, and it just happened to work out perfect.”
Rollins is working with Speed Stick on their #DefyTheDoubt campaign. The experience of going from a student athlete to a professional with corporate sponsors supporting you as you make the leap to the next level has got to be a trip, right?
“It’s great,” Rollins said. “I’m blessed that Speed Stick gave me the opportunity to share my journey up until this point. Hopefully it continues to get even better as I continue to grow as a person and as an athlete. It’s definitely surreal to get opportunity to work with these guys like Speed Stick to get these types of endorsements. But at the end of the day, it still matters what you do and how you represent yourself as a person and as an athlete. I still have a lot of work to do, but it’s definitely been a blessing that they’ve allowed me to share my story and my journey. Hopefully, like I said, it continues to keep getting better.”
When tight ends like Tony Gonzalez, Jimmy Graham or Antonio Gates make plays in the NFL, there seems to be some sort of rule that an announcer must always reference the fact that they played basketball. Seriously, has Jimmy Graham ever caught a touchdown without an announcer mentioning the phrase “former basketball player?” It doesn’t happen. It gets mentioned every single time the guy scores. And he’s scored 51 touchdowns in five NFL seasons. This only seems to apply to offensive players though. I asked Rollins what skills he honed on the court that could make him a defensive difference-maker on the football field.
“Man-to-man defense in basketball,” Rollins said. “That helps me tremendously in man-to-man coverage on the football field as far as my feet go. In basketball, it’s all about your feet. Sliding and moving your feet. It’s the same in football, but in the NFL you can’t put your hands on a guy past five yards. So that’s definitely been one of the most vital things. And then as far as end zone coverage and being point guard, you got to see the whole floor. That’s allowed me, in end zone coverage, to open up and get back to my natural instincts of being a point guard and seeing everything that’s going on and see the big picture. And anticipation. As a point guard, you got to always be a play ahead. It helps in football, too. I can anticipate things and just see it happen before it does happen. Also, having that next play mentality. As a point guard, you’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to have turnovers. You’re going to have bad plays. But just like in football, you might get beat on a catch, but you got to have that next play mentality. You can’t have your head down, because it’s most likely going to come right back at you so you got to be prepared for it.”
Some scouts have projected Rollins as a safety in the NFL. Does he have a position preference for the next level?
“I really don’t care where I play at” he said, “whether it be nickel, outside, inside, back end safety. I’m just ready to get somewhere, learn the system and get going.”
So why defense? Rollins played running back at Wilmington High School in Ohio. He had a chance to play running back in college as well, but Rollins chose defense because of the upside potential at the professional level.
“When I gave coach Martin my film,” Rollins said, “he obviously saw me at running back in high school. He gave me the option, when we sat down and met, he said you can play offense or you can chose defense. After going over the pros and cons for each, I felt defense was going to be better, especially for longevity purposes. Running backs really don’t play that long in the NFL, as opposed to corners. With my size and my athletic ability, I chose the more elite position. It’s valued more. So I figured that was the best route for me to go.”
Smart move, especially with his existing skill set. Big ballin’ tight ends who have size, can get separation and handle the ball in the paint/endzone have certainly become a thing in the NFL. But this could be another trend worth watching. The Packers took Rollins in the second round this year, but last season they selected Baylor CB Demetri Goodson in the sixth. Goodson was also a point guard who didn’t have a ton of football experience in college (he played basketball at Gonzaga). The emergence of highly athletic, ball-hawkish point guards in the secondary is worth monitoring. Especially when these top-flight athletes are making the conscience business decision to apply their skills at a premium position that tends to attract big money.
Basketball and football are obviously different. Sure, the similarities help a guy like Rollins, but he appreciates the differences as well.
“I love the way teams bond together, but that’s what was different. With basketball, we were a very close team, but you look at the work that a football team puts in, it’s totally different. Like how you can get a hundred guys all on the same page, working hard and everything. There’s just something about that that’s special,” he said.
At the end of the day, Rollins just loves to make plays. And big plays can be a lot bigger on the football field than on the basketball court.
“In basketball, there’s a lot of possessions. In football, the possessions are limited. So any time you get the opportunity to make a game-changing play to impact the game in a vital way,” he said, “it’s something special.”
Talking with Rollins, it’s clear that he loves football.
“Everything that comes with the game, I enjoy,” Rollins said. “I actually didn’t realize I missed it that much until I got back out there on the field again. I mean, there’s nothing like Friday night lights, obviously, but Saturdays are special, too. And I’m looking forward to see what Sundays are like.”
Kendrick Lamar was pumped to throw out the first pitch at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles this week, wearing the new Reebok ZPump Fusion sneakers to deliver the ceremonial first pitch before the Dodgers vs Giants game.
Proudly wearing his Dodgers blue and flashing a huge smile, he made a perfect pitch right over home plate as “King Kunta” (from his latest album To Pimp A Butterfly) blared over the loudspeakers.
The Reebok ZPump sneakers (black/graphite/white) are available now for $110 at Reebok.com, Finish Line and additional retailers.
Reebok Classic is giving college basketball fans one more thing to celebrate this March. Announcing a limited release of the green/white Question Mid, Reebok Classic is proud to bring back one of the most requested colorways of the iconic model that dominated the tourney years ago.
Available in adult and grade school sizing, these won’t last long. Head to Finish Line, VILLA, Shoe Palace, MR. ALANS, or Reebok.com on April 3rd and get yours for $140 ($95 for grade school).
Did you know that Kevin Love works out with a robot? Well you do now. Love joins a long-line of elite athletes that have worked with Chocolate Milk. Athletes including Apolo Ohno and Hines Ward have found out the benefits of chocolate milk. Now Kevin is the first NBA player to partner with the “BUILT WITH CHOCOLATE MILK” campaign. Backed by more than 20 studies, chocolate milk has shown to be a great source of high-quality protein, and is becoming an increasingly popular post-workout drink of choice for athletes looking to build lean muscle and maximize recovery after a workout.
Watch his new workout routine with his new coach.
I’m not going to pretend to know Cole Whitt. I mean, how can you really get to know someone after two interviews and a weekend in Daytona? But I think I got a good read on the guy, and if I could use one phrase to describe him, I’d say that he’s approachably focused.
He’s equal parts humble and hungry. Whitt doesn’t carry himself like a superstar race car diva. He’s got work to put in and he welcomes that work. That doesn’t mean he won’t flash a big, genuine smile when meeting a fan or take time to answer silly questions from bloggers like me.
When you meet Cole, you sense quickly that he’s a private guy. Not a limelight seeker by any stretch. He prefers CrossFit and the outdoors to press rooms and podiums. Behind this surface of shyness, though, there’s a big heart and a ferocious sense of purpose. You don’t earn a nickname like the Ginger Lion by being a pansy.
It should be noted, that racing ain’t easy, man. Especially if you want to compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the nation’s highest stock car division. It’s a taxing endeavor all around. You need financial backing from your teams and sponsors, and soul support from your family and crew. On a weekly basis, you have to overcome the physical rigors of driving hundreds of miles with inches separating you from disaster. Then there’s mental prep required to get your head right before, during and after competition.
This is some seriously stressful stuff, but the stakes are high, my friend. This year’s Daytona 500 had a purse of over $18 million. That’s a lot of coin for 43 drivers to chase in one day.
Thanks to our friends at Speed Stick, we were able to follow Cole Whitt’s full experience of the 2015 Daytona 500. Join us for a moment as we step into his racing shoes…
Imagine you’re a pocket-sized, 23-year-old professional driver entering your second full season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. You’re a full-blown ginger and your height and weight aren’t listed on your NASCAR profile. The biggest expectations you have come from within. You’re confident, because you’ve been racing for more than half your life. There’s doubters all around, but not in your inner circle.
Your first season had its set of challenges. Your car got jacked up during practice at the Daytona 500 and there was no backup car available. Your team rallied to make repairs, just to get you into qualifying. With no guarantee that you’d even compete, you make up eight spots on the final five laps of your Budweiser Duel to secure entry in the 2014 Daytona 500.
You showed a ton of promise in your first full Sprint Cup season. You finished better than you qualified in three of every four races you entered. You created some rookie of the year buzz and things looked promising.
With little warning, your racing team shuts down operations in April. You switch teams to close the year out and it’s unclear who’ll have a spot for you next season. Shoulder surgery that cuts into your offseason prep, but at least you secured a spot a new team. With your second season set to begin, you find yourself back in Daytona needing to fight your way in again.
This is where the Ginger Lion stood, right before the Budweiser Duels. Running in the #35 car for Front Row Motorsports, Cole Whitt was on the outside looking in and needed a good showing to earn a spot in the Great American Race. It’s #DefyTheDoubt time for damn sure.
“I told all the guys, it’s like, everything kinda rides on the 500,” Whitt said after qualifying. “If we can get into the 500, from there, the pressure is a little bit off. We still got a lot of work to do for sure, don’t get me wrong. But missing this race could turn the whole career to the wrong side. It could make it pretty hard to get through the season.”
So, no pressure, right?
“I’ve been through this situation more times than I want to be. Last year was very stressful and this year was just as stressful. As far as I was concerned, we had to run top 15. And we did.”
Whitt’s strong finish in the Budweiser Duels meant that he punched his ticket into Daytona to start the 2015 season.
“To be able to lock ourselves in and get all three cars in and push Front Row down the right path, it’s going to be awesome. I look forward to see what we can do this year.”
Speed Stick gave us the opportunity to follow Whitt and his #DefyTheDoubt attitude around Daytona for an important weekend in his young career. Here’s the beat and video we put together to chronicle the experience:
With the “Madness” almost upon us the mobile app, Thuuz Sports has worked on finding the craziest games that came down to the wire. So while you are are in the office and away from your TV or tablet use the Thuuz Sports app to make sure you are following games that are the ones that are a fight to the finish.
Here is a look at a few games that Thuuz Sports have found to be the ones that keep biting your nails until a victor is crowned.
4. Michigan 87 vs. 1. Kansas 85
Michigan overcame a 14 point 2nd half deficit to win 87-85 in overtime. Trey Burke led the way for Michigan with 23 points, scoring all of them in the 2nd half and in OT. Ben McLemore had 20 points for Kansas in its losing effort.
8. Kentucky 78 vs 1. Wichita St. 76
Kentucky ends Wichita’s magical run in the Round of 32. VanVleet misses the winning shot at the buzzer that could have prolonged the Schockers perfect season. Andrew Harrison had 20 points and Aaron Harrison added 19 in Kentucky’s 78-76 victory.
8. Kentucky 75 vs. 2. Michigan 72
Kentucky ends Michigan’s bid to return to the Final 4 for a 2nd straight year with a thrilling 75-72 win. Aaron Harrison hits the game winning 3 with 2.3 seconds left on the clock to send Kentucky to the Final Four. Kentucky’s Julius Randle logged a double double with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
9. Wichita St. 68 vs. 1. Louisville 72
Russ Smith had 21 points for Louisville, rallying from a 12 point 2nd half deficit to advance to the Final. Kevin Ware’s injury in the previous game helped Louisville play inspiring basketball with Luke Hancock adding 20 points off the bench. The Cardinals stout defense was too much for the Shockers, ending its Cinderella story.
10. Stanford 60 vs. 2. Kansas 57
Cardinal with the huge upset in the 2nd round, sending Wiggins and Kansas packing. Wiggins was just 1 for 6 as the Cardinal defense bothered him all game. Powell led the way for Stanford with 15 points and 7 rebounds.
14. Mercer 78 vs. 3. Duke 71
Duke’s 15 3s, a season high, were not enough to overcome the Bears’ “Dunk City” offense. Jake Gollon scored 20 & Daniel Coursey added 17 in Mercer’s huge 1st round upset. Duke failed to hold a 5 point lead with 4:52 left as the Bears came roaring back to win 78-71.
9. Wichita St. 70 vs. 2. Ohio St. 66
Wichita St. pulls the amazing upset to send it to its 1st Final Four since 1965. Malcolm Armstead led the way with 14 points for the Shockers. Wichita almost dropped a 20 point lead, but late heroics from VanVleet secured Wichita St’s Final Four berth.
11. Tennessee: 71 vs. 2. Michigan: 73
Michigan survives after almost giving up a late 15 point lead. A tough charge call on the Volunteers’ Stokes with 6 seconds left secured the late win for Michigan. Jordan Morgan led the way with 15 points for Michigan.