Author Archives: Christian Watson


INSPIRE | February 2018

screen-shot-2018-01-31-at-1-56-06-pmPhoto of Shannon Burton by Ronnie Louis

I have wanted to have a shot like this ever since I saw the shot of Michael Jordan in this pose when I was a young girl. Basketball was my life once upon a time. I was blessed enough to get a full scholarship to both Duke University and Butler University, and I am still a fan of both awesome schools. Yes, I am a woman. Yes, I can palm a basketball. Strong is beautiful, and I will teach my daughters that until the day I die. This picture means a lot to me personally. It tells a story: my journey. It may be 28 years later, but I still feel like one of the luckiest women in the world to have had this experience. – Shannon Burton

Shannon Burton is a wife, mother, model and lover of yoga pants and evening gowns.


EDITOR’S NOTE | February 2018

By Angie Fenton

Photo by Christian Watson

screen-shot-2018-01-31-at-2-02-37-pmOne of the best aspects about being the editor of a publication is getting to know the people and places writers and photographers highlight. Sometimes, though, it’s also getting to know the individuals who pen and capture the stories.

I had no idea until this issue was being produced that writer Remy Sisk felt comfortable on the slopes – he skis routes most of us will never traverse. Thankfully, Remy and his friends accepted the opportunity to enjoy Paoli Peaks shortly after a snow storm hit Southern Indiana and Louisville for this issue’s cover story. Remy’s article is a fund read – ride – and I hope it encourages even the rookies among us to put Paoli Peaks on our must-experience stops this winter.

The University of Louisville continues to dominate headlines and not always in ways that are positive, so I hope my fellow Cardinal lovers and sports fans in general will appreciate Jeff Nunn’s piece about the all-star women’s basketball team led by Coach Walz.

If you’re seeking a bit of inspiration, check out this month’s INSPIRE subject, Shannon Burton. She is proof that strong is beautiful. And Jeffersonville High School’s innovative approach to helping young athletes get stronger is a power read, too.

If you made a New Year’s commitment to get in shape but failed like so many of us do, check out Health Corner. It’s not too late to start anew.


The Cheat Sheet | Ramen Bowl

The Exchange Pub + Kitchen

By Angie Fenton

Photo by Matt Simpson

screen-shot-2018-01-31-at-2-08-38-pmI RECENTLY HAD one of those “close your eyes-I don’t want to talk to anyone-let me savor every bit of this” moments at The Exchange Pub + Kitchen. On the advice of Rod Juarez (who is the general manager at MESA, A Collaborative Kitchen in New Albany), I went to The Exchange for what I thought would be a solo working lunch. Without looking at the menu, I ordered the Ramen Bowl ($16/lunch; $19/dinner) – Rod’s suggestion – and flipped open my iPad. A few minutes later, when my server placed the huge bowl in front of me, all I could do was stare and inhale the aroma.

The beautiful dish was a mix of pork tenderloin, Brussel sprouts, jalapeno, cilantro, green onion, carrots, radish, soy miso, ginger broth and ramen noodles topped with a beautiful egg. After the first bite/sip, I shut my iPad, turned my phone face down and simply enjoyed. In fact, I enjoyed it so much, I lost track of time and was almost late to my next appointment. The combination of flavors, the presentation, the aroma…I’ve dreamt about them since. Not kidding.

Now, I get that the price is pretty hefty, particularly at lunch time, but the portion is massive. What I couldn’t eat – and I wanted to eat it all but simply couldn’t – I took home and served to my two-year-old that night for dinner, careful to pluck out the jalapenos, and ate the rest for lunch the next day.

The Exchange Pub + Kitchen, 118 W. Main St. in New Albany, serves lunch 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and dinner 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. You can find more information at


Louisville ‘Survivor’ Contestant Inspires

Norton Neuroscience Institute nurse practitioner Jessica Johnston’s ‘amazing’ experience was on display across the country 


The opportunity of a lifetime came calling for Louisvillian Jessica Johnston in March 2017. That’s when the 29-year-old was selected as a cast member for the 35th season of “Survivor,” CBS’s Emmy award-winning reality television show.

Despite the fears and challenges Johnston faced on a remote Pacific island, she brought back great memories. If given the opportunity, she even would do it all over again.

“The experience was amazing and I made friendships that I will have for the rest of my life,” she said. “I am very appreciative of the fact that I got to experience what thousands wish and apply for each year.”

Johnston is not exaggerating. According to CBS, the show receives more than 20,000 applications each season. From those applications, only 18 participants are selected to be “castaways” on an island, where they face environmental, physical and psychological challenges during the show’s competition format.

“Mamanuca Islands, Fiji, was breathtaking,” Johnston said. “As a participant on ‘Survivor,’ our amenities were lacking, but the scenery was amazing.”

Johnston left Louisville for Fiji in late March 2017, and filming began in early May. For the first four episodes, the contestants were divided into three teams: “Heroes,” “Healers” and “Hustlers.”

Johnston, who is a nurse practitioner with Norton Neuroscience Institute in Louisville, was part of the “Healers” team, composed of people who serve others by helping them heal physically or emotionally.

On the island, she and her teammates slept in makeshift shelters and ate as little as half a cup of rice per day.

“I remember being hungry a lot. Coconuts were plentiful, but the raw coconut meat and milk were hard on our stomachs,” she said. “Spearfishing was an option, but it was very difficult and took hours in the scorching sun to possibly catch a very small fish. You had to ask yourself, ‘Is the effort worth the reward?’ And in most cases it was not.”

Johnston spent months prior to her departure preparing for the challenges. Physical preparation not only entailed physical workouts but also reducing her food intake.

“I eat six small meals a day focusing on high protein and multigrain foods. I knew that food would be scarce and availability would depend on my team’s ability to fend for ourselves. So, I started cutting back on my food intake and reducing my meals by one each week,” she said. “By the week prior to my departure, I was eating one meal a day. My stomach began to shrink and my body was responding to the ability to function on the reduced amount of calories.”

Johnston lost about 10 pounds while on the island.

Johnston believes her faith and past experiences served her well in preparing mentally and emotionally.

“I found myself drawing inspiration from both my education and work experiences,” she said. “Five years of intense study to complete my doctorate degree while working as a nurse and managing life in general taught me to overcome challenges.”

She recalls feeling awful and drained some days, telling herself “You must push through” both during her career development and on the TV show.

Her ability to manage dominant personalities as well as softer demeanors also was a help.

“I interact with all types of people,” she said. “Dominance in a game like ‘Survivor’ can be a challenge. I felt ready to take on the challenge.”

In addition to her career as a nurse practitioner, Johnston has a deep passion for health and wellness.

“I challenged myself to use my degree as a nurse practitioner and personal trainer to bring my passion for health and wellness together to benefit others,” Johnston said. “In 2016, I founded Belovist, a community of health entrepreneurs and enthusiasts gathering their expertise of health, fitness and nutrition to help educate, motivate and inspire those looking to begin or expand their journey of health and wellness.”

After being the seventh “Survivor” castaway to be voted off the island, Johnston is happy to be back home and is appreciative of all the support she received from her friends in Louisville and her family and friends in her hometown of Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

In December, when the season finale of “Survivor” aired, Johnston flew to California to reunite with all 18 castaways. Gathering with the cast confirmed for Johnston that, if given the chance, she would do it all again.

“Being with everyone to watch the final episode and seeing Ben (Driebergen) win just reminds me how much I enjoyed the process and would definitely do it again,” she said. “Fingers crossed that door opens in my future.”



Jeffersonville High School takes different approach to weightlifting

Story and photos by Jen McNelly

It’s 7:45 AM at Jeffersonville High School and the first bell rings. A group of students shuffle into the weight room. It’s early. Some kids choose to snooze during first period, but not these students. They are ready to attack the day with full force.

“Alright, focus!” yells coach Daniel Struck, right after instructions are given. The music starts and the lifting begins.

Struck, now entering his 15th year of teaching and coaching at Jeffersonville High School, has created a program that takes a different approach to weightlifting. They call it Jeff Sports Performance.

The fully-stocked weight room is equipped with free weights, squat racks, landmines, benches and much more to fit the needs of athletes. “When I first started here, everything in this weight room was broken. It looked like a yard sale. So, what did I do? We literally had a yard sale to get rid of it,” explains Struck. “A lot of other sports and programs have come together to help donate and pay for the equipment that we have here right now.” screen-shot-2018-01-31-at-2-47-22-pm

Students involved in Jeff Sports Performance lift five days a week for the 180 days of school. The program caters to every sport in various different ways.

Brandon Wellington, a senior who recently signed on to play football at the University of Louisville, first heard about the class when he was in middle school. “I knew that I needed to get bigger to play football and I didn’t have much experience in weightlifting. This class was perfect to get me started and has been really convenient because I don’t have that much time after school.”

Athletes from the class have gone on to not only play sports but can be found in every single branch of the armed forces. “We have had athletes from this class score the highest in the PT (physical training) scores in their basic training classes, as well as athletes come back from big programs and say ‘I was the only freshman able to go straight into weightlifting with the older guys because I already understood and performed all the lifts correctly,’” says Struck. “I’ve had college coaches ask what we do and send them videos on what we are doing, but it’s hard to capture unless you are here.”

As a multi-athlete and wrestling coach, Struck has traveled to 23 different countries, “grabbing ideas” from professionals everywhere. “One of the most widely used methods to increase athleticism at many of the world’s Olympic Training Centers has been gymnastics. So, we copy that. It’s really cool. We’ll start off day one with maybe one or two kids that can do a backflip and end the year with maybe 30 or 40 kids that can do a back flip. It’s a huge confidence builder for them. I have offensive and defensive linemen that can do flips. It’s pretty awesome to watch.”

This unique program also has aided in unifying the school. “It has helped to get all sports on one program keeping their progress year-round instead of switching programs every time they switch sports,” Struck explains. “Typically, we start class celebrating what kids in all sports have done, how the weekend went, spotlighting kids and letting each sport know how other sports are doing.”

“You’re a team here,” says Ethan English, a senior who play baseball for Indiana Wesleyan. “It’s not like baseball team, football team, basketball team – it’s the whole school. When you’re working out with other teammates, it makes you just want to be better. We represent Jeff High. I really look forward to that every day.”

“We’re all working together,” Wellington adds. “When you see one person hit their max, you’re just hyped for them. Even if you didn’t hit your max, it doesn’t matter. This class is helping us all get bigger and better.”

However, unlike most weightlifting classes in high school, Jeff Sports Performance is about far more than just lifting weights.

“One of the things that sets this class apart is how we work on the entire person,” says Struck. “The weightlifting or sport is what we have in common, but we come together to try and create better futures for the kids.”

Every nine weeks, students are required to write three colleges – that makes 12 colleges per year with a total of more than 48 colleges over four years. “Most kids write more, though,” says Struck, “and it works. That’s one of the biggest draws to the class – learning to market yourself to colleges.”

Jaylynn Brown, also a senior who will be on the women’s basketball team at Lincoln Trail College, says writing colleges is her favorite part of the class. “There are millions of athletes who don’t get to play Division I sports after high school, but you get a chance to make it happen for yourself in this class.”

Not every student wants to go to college to play sports, and that’s alright. “But I guarantee they save that college letter,” Struck says. “Just the simple feeling of knowing that they are wanted by someone else outside of here makes a big difference in their life, so we make a really big deal of it when a student hears back from a college. It just really feels good.”

Struck also understands the importance of character development by teaching students how to be coachable, work with others and simply be the best person they can be. In a society where high school students are prone to determine self-worth by the number of likes they get on social media, Jeff Sports Performance has been a big confidence booster to many students.

Struck keeps track of every student’s personal weight-lifting goals. “I work hard to make sure they reach their goals, and I’ll push them. We make a big deal when they get it. It’s really cool to see when a kid reaches their max. Their confidence goes way up.”

To deal with everyday stress and anxiety of teenage life, Struck has worked yoga and meditation into the curriculum as well. “Recent new back pain has really got me into yoga, so I’ve started to do yoga with our athletes here. … Learning to move your body without weight is more important than learning to move big weight with an unathletic body. As for meditation, learning to meditate, to think and be by yourself can really help with what some students deal with each day.”

So, what does Coach Struck hope his students will remember most from their time at Jeff Sports Performance? “More than anything, I want to them to know that you can be good at multiple things.”

At the end of every class period, Struck and his students can be found chanting “Every day!”

“It’s a reminder to them that every day you have to do something to get better,” says Struck.

Follow Jeff Sports Performance – @jeffsportsperfo – on their Instagram page.


Rekindle your romance with your New Year’s resolution


screen-shot-2018-01-31-at-2-45-43-pmStatistically you’ve already failed.

According to U.S. News & World Report, 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions have been tossed aside, forgotten about or cried over by mid-February.

But I’m here to challenge you: This February, don’t become a statistic. Fall back in love with your New Year’s resolution.

Many New Year’s resolutions are made out of something we call “holiday remorse,” which follows the time between late October and New Year’s Eve when we let healthy habits slide. We tend to eat more, drink more, exercise less, spend more money, over-extend our social calendars and all-around make poor choices. Come Dec. 31 at 11:59 p.m., we draw our line in the sand and make a commitment that it all stops. On Jan. 1. Or maybe Jan. 2. Definitely Jan. 3.

You had the best of intentions, but the plan of attack may have been misguided.

No matter what your resolution may be — losing weight, exercising more, quitting smoking or focusing on yourself — the commitment you’ve made is a goal. And every goal needs a plan of attack. Here are three steps to help you develop your plan and achieve your goal:

1. CREATE A ROAD MAP: Put thought into how you are going to achieve your goal. Put your thoughts on paper, create a vision board full of pictures and inspirational quotes, or invite a companion on your journey. 

2. IDENTIFY POTENTIAL ROAD BLOCKS IN YOUR PLAN: You know you will face challenges and hurdles along the way; identify them and take time to think through how you will navigate each road block. 

3. DEVELOP A DETOUR PLAN: Backsliding, relapsing, falling off the wagon — call it what you want. You temporary will lose sight of your goal. Plan ahead for how you will get back on track — without beating yourself up about it. 

The third step can be the hardest to overcome. That is when you have to admit you derailed. Forgive yourself, refocus and get back on track, always moving forward.

Vanessa Shannon, Ph.D., is director of mental performance for Norton Sports Health and University of Louisville Sports Health. 






“WINTERTIME ACTIVITIES in the Midwest are limited,” said Tom Nash, ski instructor at Paoli Peaks. “Coming up here, you can get out on the snow, make some turns and have some fun when it’s cold outside.”

Indeed, Paoli Peaks – a veritable ski resort located in Paoli, Indiana – is one of Southern Indiana’s most unique treasures as it makes the adventures of hitting the slopes easily accessible.

On a recent Saturday, I made the short trip up to Paoli with my boyfriend and some friends, all of whom were at different levels of ability. Let me emphasize this now: As a seasoned skier, not only did Paoli Peaks not disappoint, but it proved to be an absolutely spectacular retreat where all five of us in my party had plenty of fun while also enjoying a vigorous workout and discovering new skills and abilities.

The first thing you need to know is that, the drive is quick and easy wherever you are in Southern Indiana and takes you through the quaint roundabouts of downtown Paoli. Conversation and coffee made the drive fly by, and as we pulled up after less than an hour of travel from New Albany (our starting point), I was ready to see just what Paoli had to offer for the five of us.

As I mentioned, I grew up skiing. My dad would take a ski trip over a beach trip any day.

My friend, Michael, also is a practiced skier, so he and I knew we’d be able to get in some good runs while the others were getting acquainted with the admittedly strange sensation of having two long objects attached to your feet and using them to slide down snow.

My boyfriend, Charlie, and my friend, Whitten, started working with ski instructor Tom Nash while another friend, Sara, started to familiarize herself with snowboarding, an activity she last enjoyed five years ago.

Fortunately for Charlie and Whitten, Paoli is fairly geared toward beginners with several options for those who aren’t yet comfortable with the more advanced slopes.

“Paoli Peaks has a great variety of terrain to accommodate everyone, from the first time slider to the experienced skier to those who enjoy the thrill of terrain parks,” said General Manager Rick McMullen. “Our terrain is largely beginner-focused, but we also have two terrain parks, a glade and several runs with steeper pitches.”

After going through the extraordinarily easy process of getting our rental boots and skis (or snowboard), it was time to get on the snow.

While Charlie and Whitten stuck with the instructor and Sara took some easy hills on her snowboard, Michael and I decided to seek out the tougher slopes. We started in Pioneer Park, a steep descent with various ramps and jumps. While neither of us were quite ready to take to the air, we watched as several other skiers and snowboarders leapt with confidence off the jumps, proving that even the most advanced winter sportsman can find nonstop thrills at Paoli Peaks.

After more than an hour of checking out the different runs and choosing favorites we’d return to later, we met back up with Charlie and Whitten, who were just about ready to try a “real” hill out for the first time. Education is clearly a priority at Paoli, and, as we saw with Charlie and Whitten, the team is sure to provide adequate expertise so that no one feels in danger when they give it a shot.

“Our ski school offers many different lesson offerings, whether it be a group or private setting, child-focused or senior-focused, or racing or adaptive specific,” McMullen said. “Our staff of instructors is highly trained and passionate about teaching and does a fantastic job of getting everyone willing to learn sliding down the slopes in no time.”

The five of us set out on Family Trails, a green (or least difficult) level hill. While there were definitely some spills, the falls didn’t compete with the excitement of learning something new and exploring it with friends for the first time.

“I mean, I fell a lot,” Whitten laughed, looking back on the experience. “But it never really hurt, and once I started going a little bit and gaining more confidence, I didn’t really worry about falling, which I guess made me fall less.”

It took us about 30 minutes to get down the green slope with Charlie and Whitten, and once we rode one of the chairlifts back to the top, they and Sara were ready to take a break and head in to the ski lodge where they could get a bite to eat and relax.

Michael and I, however, were just getting started. We told them we’d meet up with them later, and as the sun set, Michael and I sought out the most difficult runs Paoli had to offer.

We hit a couple blue (intermediate) level runs – our favorite being Powerline – before taking a chance on the black diamond (difficult) Graber’s Express. After peering down the ferociously steep incline, Michael and I flew down it in less than 30 seconds and immediately took the lift back up to do it again.

Though it was dark at this point in our adventure, Paoli is known for its night skiing, which features bright lights across the slopes that provide full illumination. In fact, McMullen pointed out that Paoli Peaks offers several events based around night skiing: “Definitely be sure to check out our Midnight Madness, where we are open until 3 a.m. on select Friday and Saturday nights throughout the season,” he said. “Night skiing is a great thrill for people of all ages.”

A thrill it certainly was.

And to get the greatest thrill we could, we decided to end our day on the double black diamond (most difficult) Bobcat.

On an ordinary ski slope, a double black diamond can often imply moguls, steepness and ice, but Paoli’s double black diamond was even more intimidating: it runs through a patch of trees.

Michael and I looked ahead onto the supremely steep slope dotted with trees, ice patches and roots. We decided we could turn back, but what kind of story would that be later?

In we went, dodging branches and ice the whole way down. It was by far the most challenging part of our day, but as we emerged from the trees a minute later, there was also a tremendous sense of accomplishment. We headed back inside and returned our gear – a painlessly quick process – before meeting up with our crew at the Bully Barn, a cozy bar in the lodge.

Over IPAs and chicken wings, we discussed the day and even started making plans to come back. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, Paoli offers snow-tubing for those seeking a less intense thrill, and we committed to checking that out on our next visit.

On the sleepy drive home, I reflected on how grateful I was to have such an amazingly unique place in our community as Paoli Peaks. From Charlie and Whitten who had never skied to Sara who needed to familiarize herself and to me and Michael who were total thrill-seekers, there truly was something for everyone.

We all got exactly what we wanted out of our day, which is another great aspect to Paoli: Your experience can be anything you want it to be.

The staff is friendly and kind, and the whole complex is easily navigable to be sure you get to focus on the activities and not the rental and chairlift process. And on top of all the fun, it’s also a great workout.

As the Louisville skyline came back into view, I remember thinking, “Man, my legs are going to be sore tomorrow.” And I smiled at the thought. I’d earned that at Paoli Peaks.


Paoli Peaks

2798 West County Road, Rt. 25 South



10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday; noon-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 10 a.m.-3 a.m. Fridays; 9 a.m.-3 a.m. Saturday; and 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday. (After February 24, Paoli Peaks closes Fridays and Saturdays at 10 p.m.)

Lift tickets for adults range in price from $30 to $42 depending on the day and time, and kids and seniors range from $30 to $36. Ski and snowboard rental is always $30.

Stay up to date with latest happenings on their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages. For more information, visit


Paoli is ready to provide you with ski and snowboard equipment, but be sure to bring a few things with you:

• Gloves, mittens, liner gloves 

• Hat or headband 

• Neck gaiter/face mask/bandana 

• Water and wind resistant snow clothes (jacket and pants) 

• Layering items like vests, tank tops, long sleeve shirts, long underwear, sweatshirts 

• Wool or polyester socks (not cotton), light to medium thickness 

• Ski goggles or sunglasses 

• Sunscreen and lip balm with SPF 

• Credit cards, IDs, phone, camera with a safe and secure place to store them 

Forget something? The Paoli Pro Shop, located inside the ski lodge, has you covered with anything you may have mistakenly left at home. If you still have any questions about hitting the slopes for the first time, Paoli’s website has a page dedicated to first-timers at


Fortunately, a picnic basket isn’t one of the things you need to bring to Paoli. Peaks Pizzeria and Grill, located inside the lodge, is outfitted with enough options to please even the pickiest eater, and the ample seating is the perfect setting to take a break after your first few runs or relax after a long day on the snow. Thirsty? The Waffle and Coffee Bar will get you good and caffeinated for either your first outing or for the drive home. Meanwhile, the Bully Barn – open Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays – offers a full bar along with TVs and a fireplace to really give the grown-ups the true ski lodge experience.


Wiley Brown’s Success at Indiana University Southeast is No Surprise

screen-shot-2018-01-31-at-3-13-55-pmBy Howie Lindsey of 790 KRD | Photos by Danny Alexander

Wiley Brown’s success as the head coach at Indiana University Southeast (IUS) isn’t a surprise to those who know him best. And it’s not really a surprise to those he has barely met.

Brown seems to have that effect on people.

“My grandmother rooted me in hard work, always helping others and putting a smile on someone’s face,” he says with a broad smile of his own.

Sitting behind an unassuming desk in his modest office inside the IUS Athletics offices that are attached to the Grenadiers’ home gym, Brown echoes his grandmother’s words: “Someone you meet may be going through something worse than you are.”

Brown’s quick smile and warm demeanor combined with a strong work ethic and his extensive basketball knowledge have formed a successful mix for the IUS Grenadiers the last decade.

Under his direction, the Grenadiers went to seven consecutive National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics tournament appearances from 2007-8 to 2013-14. Brown has led IUS to six River States Conference (formerly known as Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletics Conference – or KIAC) tournament titles, and he has been named KIAC Coach of the Year three times (2010, 2012 and 2014).

When you ask Brown about his coaching success, he deflects the praise.

“The two Hall of Fame coaches I have trained under – that’s a good way to start,” Brown said.

And truly,Brown has learned from two of the best.

screen-shot-2018-01-31-at-3-14-18-pmHe spent 15 seasons at the University of Louisville in various capacities, from strength training to interim assistant coach to outreach coordinator. His tenure bridged the years between Denny Crum and Rick Pitino.

Brown says he learned from both Hall of Fame coaches.

“Coach Crum, I took his strategy in scheduling,” Brown said. “We play a tough schedule in the beginning and you learn from them. That’s Coach Crum’s philosophy. And then, hopefully, by the time you are at this point, your team is moving in the right direction. Those games that you have when you blow teams out, you just don’t learn from those games. You learn early against tough teams, so when that happens at the end of the season, you already know from earlier how to handle it.”

This year’s Grenadier team played well, but took losses to Bellarmine, Lindsey Wilson and Georgetown. They learned from those games and won 9 of 10 games from Nov. 30 through mid-January.

From Pitino, Brown says he learned to focus on getting his team just right for a run in the postseason.

“Coach P always had his guys ready for tournament play,” Brown said. “He may not have played a tough early schedule, but he got them ready in different ways, and by tournament time, they were always tough.”

On the sideline, Brown is a little closer to Pitino than Crum’s Cool Hand Luke persona.

“Coach Crum was always so laidback, on the court and off the court,” Brown said. “Now, I’m not like that on the court, but he would also tell us all the time: ‘You guys are grown men, and you came here to play college basketball. I am going to let you play.’ That is what I try to give to my guys now. And Coach Pitino as well. He would reign them in, in the beginning, but when it got to conference play and then tournament play, he would loosen that string up and let them play. You have to play loose at the right times.”

Brown explained, “Really I learned from both coaches that you always have to let the talent show. I try to let my guys go. As long as they play defense and rebound, I’ll take a few bad shots every now and then. I want to let them show their talent.”

His ability to work with players is really his coaching hallmark.

“I think one of the reasons he’s such a successful player’s coach is because he’s done it,” IUS Athletic Director Joe Glover said. “He’s been there at the highest level and knows exactly what they’re going through as student-athletes.”

Brown’s knowledge for the game was evident to the players back when he was a strength coach at UofL.

Marques Maybin, former UofL star and current host of Midday with Marques Maybin on 93.9 FM said, “You hate to be so cliché with Wiley Brown, but you know he just knows. All you have to do is talk to him for three minutes, and everything that comes out of his mouth is right. It’s hard to doubt him because he did it as a player and a pro. Everything about Wiley Brown says he’s knows basketball, especially Louisville basketball.”

It was that basketball knowledge, combined with his connections in the local basketball scene, that made Brown so attractive to IUS a decade ago.

“I’m very blessed. I really am,” Brown said. “I have a great job here. I loved my time at the University of Louisville, and I was fortunate to use my experience at the University of Louisville to get this job here. … This school to take a chance on a coach who had never been a head coach before. I had coached AAU basketball, but they gave me a shot.”

Brown took the reins at IUS and ran with them, winning 24 games in that first season and more than 200 games since taking over.

“He wanted to be in that position for a long time, and when he got his opportunity he has taken advantage of it,” Crum said. “I am really proud of him. It’s a good place, a nice university and it’s close to home here. I don’t know where he could have gone that’s better than that spot.”

Brown understands Kentuckiana’s basketball culture and knows where to find the right players to add to his roster mix. Every player on the IUS roster is from an easy drive to New Albany, nine from Kentucky and eight from Indiana.

But Brown’s success at IUS isn’t just a product of Crum and Pitino or his local connections. His success has come from years of hard work.

“Everything Wiley Brown has he earned with hard work,” Louisville Assistant Athletic Director Jim McGhee said. And McGhee, a 40-year staff member at UofL, knows all about hard work. “Wiley worked hard at every spot and worked his way up. And he can work with anybody.”

The roots of that work ethic go back to Brown’s hometown. When introducing himself to crowds or in interviews, Brown likes to start with the line, “I’m from Sylvester, Georgia.”

“My hometown means very much to me. It is still special to me,” Brown said. “I don’t know if I could live there today, but my older sister lives there and my younger sister lives there. My grandmother, who raised me, passed away a couple years ago. And my mother, they passed away about a year apart. … I still go back to visit.”

Brown and his three siblings were raised to value hard work.

“My grandmother always said, ‘There are going to be some bumps in the road, but how you get over those bumps is what will make you the man you are going to be’,” Brown said. “I grew up like that – we didn’t have very much, but we didn’t know it.

“We always made the best of it, and family is the most important thing. I love going back home to visit my sisters. That’s my roots. That’s where I started from and why I am where I am today.”

Brown was a standout athlete from the very beginning. He was an excellent football player, but basketball seemed to be his first love.

“We lived in the projects in my early years, and there was always basketball goals there. The rims didn’t stay on for long, but in those days, it wasn’t concrete for the court. It was dirt. We had dirt courts back then,” Brown recalled. “We didn’t have nets on the rims, so you didn’t know if it went through or not in the dark. Playing like that always made us stronger.”

Louisville discovered Brown on a tip.

“We had an alumnus and traveled in that area, and when he didn’t have anything else to do, he would go to the high school games,” Crum said. “He told me about this kid who played football as a tight end and defensive end. He was an all-state athlete, but he wanted to be a basketball player. We went and talked to him, and he came to Louisville.”

Football was still an option to the very end.

“I was either going to go to the University of Georgia or Florida State, but some things happened with the coaching situations there, and Coach (Jerry) Jones came down to watch me play,” Brown said. “Coach Jones used to coach in Tifton, Georgia, and he knew the area. He brought me up to Louisville, and I fell in love with the area.”

And the area fans fell in love with him, too.

As a sophomore, Brown helped Louisville win the 1980 NCAA Championship. He started all 36 games for the Cardinals, playing alongside fellow legends Darrell Griffith, Scooter and Rodney McCray, Derek Smith and Jerry Eaves.

“We’re still close to this day,” Brown said. “We keep in touch all the time. We always make sure we rally around each other, stay in touch and keep up with each others’ lives. We have stuck together even today.”

During his time in college at Louisville, Brown and teammate Derek Smith are credited for “inventing” the high five. Let him explain.

“I tell all the youngsters, ‘I know you all weren’t alive when I played, but just go and look up who invented the high five,’” Brown said. “They always look it up and then say, ‘Coach, I can’t believe you invented the high five.’ That’s a crazy story, and I’ll go to my grave still telling (it). I tell my son that his father helped invent the high five.”

Brown explained further: “We would always do the low five in practices, of course, but Derek Smith, my best friend, said one time, ‘Give it up high,’ and from then on we generated all that excitement and momentum throughout everywhere we played. So, the high five was invented just from a moment in practice when we were slapping hands. You gotta understand it was me, a 6-foot-8 guy and another 6-8, so why would we do the low five? So, we just said, ‘Let’s throw it up high,’ and that’s exactly what happened.

“We played on national TV all the time, and then you saw a lot of other teams start doing it, too. It’s something to be proud of. I’m absolutely proud we started something that caught on throughout the nation. It goes down in history. We still do the high five today.”

After Louisville, Brown returned to football. Then, Dick Vermeil and the Philadelphia Eagles came calling.

Brown was a pioneer for college basketball stars switching to the NFL. What is now more common place – guys like Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates, Jimmy Graham and WKU’s George Fant – was remarkable in the 1980s when Brown was under contract for two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.

After the NFL, Brown spent time playing professional basketball in Spain, France and Italy. But when it came time to settle down, Brown came back “home” to the Kentuckiana area.

“This area has embraced me, and I love this area, too,” Brown said. “That’s what I hope happens with the guys at Louisville now, too. I know the fans will embrace these players at UofL now and treat them like family like they have always treated me like family.”

Of all the accomplishments in Brown’s life story – the NCAA title, the high five, the NFL, pro basketball and coaching success – he was quick to say what he is most proud of: his four children (Nina, Breauna, Wiley Jr. and Caleb) and getting his degree.

“When we walked across that stage, it was special,” Brown said. “It was an amazing feeling. My top highlights: getting my degree, having my kids, winning that championship. … I tell my guys all the time, ‘Please don’t take this for granted. Please focus on getting your education. It can take you a long way, a lot further than this basketball game will.’ “

Brown made the UofL honor roll twice and graduated with a degree in communications, health education and Pan-African studies in 1992.

“It is very, very important to me that they get their education,” Brown said. “It was instilled in me at a young age by my grandmother. And then when I got to Louisville, to see an All-American graduate in four years like Darrell Griffith did, that spoke volumes. It really did. Derek and I, when we went off to our professional careers, we came back and got our degrees. … I want all my players to get their degrees.”

Glover said he values Brown’s focus on academics: “The thing that I believe sets him apart is he truly looks at all those players like they’re his sons. He goes to bat for them and it’s really not just about basketball. It’s more about life and making sure these young men succeed and get their degree.”

Brown has led IUS to success on the court and off, but he’s not done yet.

“I got a taste of the Final Four a few years back, but I want more. I want a national championship here,” Brown said. “I’m telling you, I can hear this ringing in my ear. When we won our national championship, Darrell Griffith was on that stage, and he said, ‘We won the national championship. But that also means we are No. 1 in Bulgaria and Sweden and everywhere.’ It doesn’t make a difference if it is an NCAA championship or a NAIA championship, being No. 1 means you are No. 1 everywhere you go. No one else is the NCAA champion that year. No one else is the NAIA champion. I would love to win a national championship here.”




Louisville Women’s Basketball Marching Toward The Top

By Jeff Nunn of | Photos by Adam Creech, courtesy University of Louisville Athletics

screen-shot-2018-01-31-at-3-18-59-pmThe old saying is “If you wanna be the best you gotta beat the best.” The University of Louisville Women’s Basketball team wants to be the best and they are dominantly marching their way straight to the top and taking on all comers.

Louisville came into this season ranked No. 10 in USA Today’s preseason coaches poll. The schedule ahead of them appeared daunting, as they would have to face six teams ranked in the preseason top 25 (No. 1 UConn, No. 5 Notre Dame, No. 8 Ohio State, No. 12 Duke, No. 14 Florida State and No. 24 Miami).

Louisville also had the possibility of playing No. 11 Oregon and/or No. 23 Michigan in the Preseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament, making that potentially eight preseason top 25 teams as well as a trip to Lexington to face nemesis Kentucky – never an easy trip.

The Cards are coming off of a season that ended in the Sweet 16 and are returning nine players from that team. Included in that nine are Asia Durr, the ACC’s preseason player of the year, and Myisha Hines-Allen. They also bring in the nation’s top recruiting class that includes Dana Evans, Lindsey Duvall and Loretta Kakala.

UofL head coach Jeff Walz confidently marched his wealth of talent into this season like a proud peacock. The look in his eye during preseason interviews was as easy to read as a mother goose nursery rhyme. And that message was that he was sitting on something very special.

It didn’t take long for everyone to see exactly what coach Walz already knew when, in the second game of the season, Louisville played No. 8 Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio. It took overtime, but Louisville prevailed 95-90. Just four days later, Louisville faced No. 24 Michigan in the Preseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament. Louisville destroyed them by 25 points and, only two days later, would play No. 11 Oregon in the championship of the NIT. The Cards easily handled that challenge winning by 13 points.

Front Row – 12 Lindsey Duvall, 23 Jazmine Jones, 10 Sydney Zambrotta, 2 Myisha Hines-Allen, head coach Jeff Walz, 25 Asia Durr, 11 Arica Carter, 24 Jessica Laemmle, 1 Dana Evans Back Row – Video Cordinator LaMont Russell, Executive Director of Player Relations Adrienne Johnson, associate coach Sam Purcell, assistant coach Sam Williams, 3 Sam Fuehring, 32 Loretta Kakala, 21 Kylee Shook, 33 Bionca Dunham, associate head coach Stephanie Norman, Director of Operations Kate Tucker, Assistant Strength & Condition Coach/Special Advisor to the Head Coach Beth Burns, Asst. Athletic Trainer Keressa Ackles, Sports Performance Coach Kaitlynn Jones

Front Row – 12 Lindsey Duvall, 23 Jazmine Jones, 10 Sydney Zambrotta, 2 Myisha Hines-Allen, head coach Jeff Walz, 25 Asia Durr, 11 Arica Carter, 24 Jessica Laemmle, 1 Dana Evans
Back Row – Video Cordinator LaMont Russell, Executive Director of Player Relations Adrienne Johnson, associate coach Sam Purcell, assistant coach Sam Williams, 3 Sam Fuehring, 32 Loretta Kakala, 21 Kylee Shook, 33 Bionca Dunham, associate head coach Stephanie Norman, Director of Operations Kate Tucker, Assistant Strength & Condition Coach/Special Advisor to the Head Coach Beth Burns, Asst. Athletic Trainer Keressa Ackles, Sports Performance Coach Kaitlynn Jones

Since winning the NIT, Louisville has been smashing opponents like they are driving an armored tank through a pumpkin patch. This well-oiled machine has enjoyed a school record run of victories that include a 22-point win over Vanderbilt, a 13-point victory at Indiana, a 24-point victory at Kentucky, a 6-point win over Duke and highlighted by a 100- 67 win over then second ranked Notre Dame.

With that victory over Notre Dame, Louisville climbed to the second ranked team in the country, which is the highest regular season ranking in school history. Also with that victory, the Cards improved to 19-0 that extended a program record for consecutive wins to start a season, which previously stood at 15.

All the winning is fun for the Cards but looming ahead is a date with top ranked UConn. On Feb. 12, Louisville will travel to Storrs, Connecticut, for a 7 p.m. battle that will likely be the barometer of how close they are to being the best.

UConn is, and has been, the gold standard in women’s college basketball. Over the past 10 seasons, they have made it to the Final Four each and every year, winning six national championships, including four straight championships from 2012-16. They have won 11 total national championships since 1995. From Nov. 23, 2014, to March 31, 2017, UConn put together a 111-game winning streak where 108 of those were won by double digits and 61 of those were victories of at least 40 points.

This season, UConn is undefeated and still holding that No. 1 spot that they were voted to during the preseason. UConn and Louisville have one common opponent that is worth noting if you are trying to find some way to compare these teams. Both have played Notre Dame. UConn won by 9 and Louisville won by 33. While I don’t put a ton of stock into that comparison, it’s all we have until they clash in February.

If both teams win out until they meet, as expected, it should be No. 1 (24-0) vs No. 2 (25-1).

As epic as this confrontation sounds, the outcome will not make or break either team’s season. The winner of this game, barring any late season bad losses, should set themselves up to be the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament. The loser should be in line to receive one of the three remaining No. 1 seeds.

While UConn has plenty of NCAA tournament success, Louisville has done pretty well themselves. Under Walz, Louisville has made 10 straight NCAA tournament appearances. During that span, Louisville has finished as the NCAA runner-up to UConn twice (2009 and 2013).

In both of those runner-up years, Louisville had one of the best players in the country leading their team. In 2009, Angel McCoughtry led the Cards, and in 2013, Shoni Schimmel was their leader. This season, Louisville has, in my humble opinion, the best player in the country in Asia Durr. But the difference between this team and the two runner-up teams is that Louisville has Myisha Hines-Allen, who would be the best player on about 98 percemt of every other team in the country. Yes, Louisville has an amazing 1-2 punch, as well as a very good supporting cast that seems to keep getting better as they gain experience. Also, the development of junior Sam Fuehring and sophomores Jazmine Jones and Kylee Shook really makes them a deep team. That depth makes Louisville a team that just wears you down over the course of a game.

Could the star power balanced with the great supporting players be the perfect formula that takes the Cards all the way to the National Championship? I’m not sure, but I definitely wouldn’t bet against it.

Regardless of whether they win it all or not, the Cards have marched their way straight to the top and given themselves the opportunity to see if they have what it takes. It should be very fun and interesting to witness. Stay tuned.


Pat McMahon Brings International Resume to LouCity Squad


screen-shot-2018-01-31-at-3-22-50-pmFor the Louisville City faithful, Pat McMahon sticks out as a foe from both the Rochester Rhinos and, more recently, FC Cincinnati. He also brings both a flowing head full of hair and an international resume to a LouCity squad in need of defensive reinforcements.

A native of Chicago suburb Bolingbrook, Illinois, Pat played for youth team Ajax FC Chicago before enrolling in the Horizon League’s University of Illinois at Chicago in 2005. He stood out as a strong defender while starting every single game in his four seasons there, collecting a pair of league titles as well as reaching as high as sixth in the national polls in 2006. As is customary with talented college players, McMahon played in the amateur Premier Development League (PDL) during the summer months in 2005, 2006 and 2008, joining the Chicago Fire’s youth team in his final foray into the League.

After leaving UIC, where he would later return to finish his finance degree, Pat ventured down to Puerto Rico to trial for an expansion USL team, but nothing came of it. Returning to the Chicago area, Pat enlisted in Bridges FC, a program for unsigned and out-of-contract players that gives them the connections and visibility to different clubs in hopes of signing a professional contract. After a year of hard training with Bridges FC and an international trial with Danish club HB Køge that ended with a fractured ankle and a long layoff for rehabilitation, Pat joined semi-pro Australian team Wynnum District Wolves FC in 2011, along with two other players from the program.

While gaining valuable game experience, Pat found himself working a litany of jobs – from cleaning the team’s clubhouse, to bartending, to pouring concrete foundations – in order to keep his prospects of playing professionally alive. He featured an impressive 55 times over a pair of seasons, winning the Brisbane-centric regular season league title in his first year and taking the playoff trophy the succeeding season, all while earning Player of the Year honors. Although Pat was a fan of the lifestyle and climate, he had outgrown the league, and yet the option of the A-League (Australia’s top division) was unlikely due to the gauntlet of paperwork and visas needed to become a full professional. On a trip abroad with Bridges FC to the quite literally polar opposite side of the globe, Pat earned his first professional contract.

Ljungskile, Sweden, is home to an eponymous club, which has been in the nation’s second division most of its existence. Ljungskile Sport Klub signed Pat ahead of their 2013 campaign, having previously penned Pat Hopkins, a teammate of Pat’s in Australia. Bringing his imposing presence in defense, Pat helped shore up the injury-blighted team’s defense, and the team maintained their second-division status despite having stared down the possibility of relegation.

Pat returned home after his contract wasn’t renewed for the following season. Having played abroad for the last three years, he sought something closer to home and an opportunity to trial with the Rochester Rhinos came up.

In Pat’s first season with the Rhinos in 2014, he took part in 26 contests en route to a sixth place regular season finish and an appearance in the playoff quarterfinals. Following a competition restructuring in the league for the 2015 season (largely due to an influx of expansion teams, including Louisville City), the Rhinos dominated in the newly formed Eastern Conference. In 28 regular season league games, the Rhinos conceded only 15 goals and lost just once before going on to top LouCity in the Conference Championship. Pat and company would then go on to edge Western Conference representatives LA Galaxy II in an extra time USL Final, thanks in large part to Pat’s presence in the back line, which ran to 27 starts, including going all 120 minutes in the Final, a record that Pat hangs his hat on.

Finding himself again out of contract after the 2015 Championship season, he joined upstarts FC Cincinnati for the following season, and again found himself well up the team sheet, netting 27 appearances in the league. After a big turnover in players between the 2016 and 2017 seasons, Pat remained in the squad but found himself surplus to requirements with only 92 minutes of playing time on the 2017 season.

Following the path of his former teammate Luke Spencer, who switched the year previous, Pat swapped sides of the USL’s most exciting rivalry and is now a member of LouCity’s team, fortifying the already formidable defense that counts Sean Totsch (a former teammate in Rochester and his roommate for this season) and Paco Craig as centerpieces, as well as fellow signee and first-year pro Alexis Souahy.

Thanks in part to his being a native of the Chicago area, Pat enjoys listening to Motown and blues music, and collecting records in down time. Fueled by his years abroad, Pat also enjoys traveling in the offseason and seeing old friends. During the season, he likes to bond with teammates, something that will keep him in good stead with Coach O’Connor.

For what some may call a “journeyman career,” Pat has been successful most of the places he has played and presents an eminently likeable personality. He considers himself fortunate to have been on a number of strong sides, and on top of all of that, he will definitely move the needle when it comes to follicle excellence.