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Louisville Baseball’s Success Was Perfect Timing

screen-shot-2017-07-05-at-11-58-21-pmThe boys of summer were at it again in June.

University of Louisville baseball was once again a College World Series participant. And they were the lipstick on the pig.

Let me explain.

For the fourth time in school history and third time in five years the Cardinals have made it to the promised land of college baseball — Omaha, Nebraska.

But this time, it’s while the UofL athletics program, and the university as a whole, has been under the most scrutiny they have ever been in.


It’s been a tough month for the pig. University of Louisville Athletics. I hate to be so broad, but such is the tumult with the program as a whole — not on the field or the court, but off.

Where would you like to begin? The men’s basketball sex scandal is never any fun to talk about for anyone, but with the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions levying down their final penalties on the basketball program last month, perhaps that’s a good place to start.

It’s the death penalty, retroactive to 2010 through 2014. Barring a successful appeal (good luck!) by UofL, the 2013 National Championship banner is coming down.

This perhaps begins the tying of a bow on a package that surfaced back in August 2015, when UofL brass first learned of Katina Powell. The now-infamous escort claimed that she and other escorts were paid thousands of dollars by former staff member Andre McGee in exchange for dancing and having sex with Cardinal players and recruits for a span of over four years.

With the NCAA releasing its penalties in June, the wounds of that scandal not only reopened. They became bigger.

Combine that with the University of Louisville Foundation’s forensic audit that was made public on June 9.

Of the 135 pages of financial information, 11 of them have to do directly with athletics. Included in the findings are the President’s Office buying up over $800,000 worth of football and men’s basketball tickets through University of Louisville Foundation funds and selling them off, except no one knows where the money went or to whom the tickets went.

Also among the numerous items the audit discovered, the Foundation also funded the compensation of many names (at least last names) known to many fans in the region. Athletics Director Tom Jurich, along with Jurich’s son, Mark, and former men’s basketball coach Denny Crum have received approximately $4.9 million in compensation from 2010 to 2016.

Tom Jurich, a man whom you cannot tell the story of the successful rise of Cardinal Athletics without, was paid over $5.3 million in total in 2016. That’s astronomical for an A.D., but I’m not even mad at that. Get yours, Tom. Get yours.

The big problem I got with it, and with a lot of what’s going on between the athletics department and the UofL Foundation, is that you’re using Foundation funds to help cover a lot of financial deficits, some of them unnecessary.

Oh, and according to emails revealed in the audit, you’re trying to cover it up. That’s never a good look.

According to the Foundation website, “The Foundation’s vision is to make the University of Louisville a premier metropolitan research university recognized for advancing the intellectual, social and economic development of our community and its citizens while placing the University among the top tier of similar universities in the nation.”

Nowhere on the website could I find anything that says the Foundation’s vision is to compensate people in athletics or to buy tickets and then sell them off to unknown people without any receipt.

It’s all money that could’ve helped research a cure for a disease or (gasp) eliminate the need for the mandatory Student Athletics Fee that the Athletics Association receives from every student.

Fans may not care much about all of these parts of the pig. In fact, I can hear some fans now saying “Who cares about any of this. Just win games.” Those fans care less about the university than they claim. Embarrassment outside of the games be damned, right? Fair enough.

But for the rest of us…


So, let’s leave it at this: there has been bad news-aplenty on campus.

Meanwhile Louisville baseball coach Dan McDonnell, on top of giving the Cardinal fans quite the “offseason” bridge between the Kentucky Derby and college football season, is the biggest thing to happen to baseball in this metro area since the Louisville Slugger Factory planted the “World’s Largest Bat” out in front of their place.

Forget the result of the Cardinals’ trip to Omaha.

What matters more is that when you can separate yourself from “College Sports, Inc.” and the money and corruption surrounding college athletics all over the country, you can see someone like McDonnell and his team.

When you go out to Jim Patterson Stadium, you can watch a kid from Pennsylvania (home of the Little League World Series) light up both the scoreboard and his teammate’s catcher’s mitt in Brendan McKay. He was named Collegiate Baseball’s Player of the Year this season, and you wouldn’t even know it. He’s got a humility to him that’s near non-existent to many when they’re showered with those sorts of accolades.

Or you can take in another home run from Jeffersonville’s own Drew Ellis, whose energy reverberates the same as when he was 10 years old lighting up the George Rogers Clark ballparks.

Louisville’s baseball team reminds you that they’re kids that love a game. That reminder is fleeting in college athletics these days.

The Louisville Cardinals baseball team were a glowing representative for a university that desperately needed it. Perfect timing. Kudos on an outstanding year.

I mean this in the most sincere way possible: they were a damn fine lipstick for the pig.

Want to find Zach on Twitter? Just follow @BigEZ. 



Louisville Bats vs. Toledo Mud Hens

screen-shot-2017-07-05-at-11-49-23-pmBats beat Mud Hens in June 10 home game

The Louisville Bats earned their fifth series win of 2017 with a 5-4 victory over the Toledo Mud Hens June 10 at Louisville Slugger Field.

The Bats will play at home July 4-9 and July 17-23. For more information, go to www.LouisvilleBats.com.


Scenes from the Louisville Bats vs Toledo Mud Hens on Saturday, June 10.  Bats ball boy, Matthew Clemmons, brings the game balls to the home plate umpire.

Scenes from the Louisville Bats vs Toledo Mud Hens on Saturday, June 10.  Buddy Bat, the team's popular mascot, gets the attention of little leaguers.


Get a Glimpse – July 2017

screen-shot-2017-07-05-at-11-29-02-pmWhen I was 19 years old, I lost more than 100 pounds. I went from 270 down to 160. I’m now 24 and my biggest challenge lately has been simply learning how to continue a pursuit of fitness when life gets busier and busier and the schedule is full.

The Louisville Athletic Club (LAC) has been a big part of my life for the past four years as I worked in maintenance at the Westport road facility. I met so many people from all different places in life who helped me learn how to workout, eat right and have a great time doing it. I am still a member and workout at the Westport Road LAC, but I don’t work there anymore. I left to pursue a career as a machinist at the start of the year,

Jacob Higdon needed to loose weight. He started running then someone showed him how to lift weights. After some hard work he dropped 100 lbs. and now working out is just a part of his life.

Jacob Higdon needed to lose weight. He started running then someone showed him how to lift weights. After some hard work he dropped 100 lbs. and now working out is just a part of his life. Photo by David Harrison

My biggest supporter is definitely my wife. She prepares a lot of meals for me and is always looking for ways to make great food that’s great for us. And she’s simply the best workout partner ever.

I’ve learned that metabolism is super important. You’ve got to spread those calories out across the day. When it comes to exercise, I don’t have as much time to be in the gym as I used to, so I really try and focus on the important muscle groups when I’m there and make the most of every workout. Incorporating fitness into everyday life is important – like walking to that shop down the street instead of driving or playing basketball one weeknight with the guys. Find fun ways to stay active.


If you’re considering going on a journey to reclaim your health, ask yourself, “Who do I want be?” If you want to be in better shape, then decide that’s what you’re going to do and don’t give up. If someone like me can lose weight, why can’t you?







Oh, How We Have Fallen

screen-shot-2017-07-05-at-11-19-13-pmEditor’s Note: Normally, Kristin Kleinert and her husband Adam pen this column together. This time, Adam is sharing an experience involving Tim Tebow that he had with one of his four children. 

As a parent, you’re always glad when your offspring show enthusiasm for role models of whom you personally approve. That’s why I recently found myself excited while making a quick day trip with my son, Eli, to see Tim Tebow play minor league baseball in Lexington, Ky. We’ve been fans of Tebow for years, and when we saw that he’d be playing nearby, my twelve-year-old and I jumped at the chance to attend.

I envisioned the day ahead of us: watching a great athlete engaging in one of our favorite sports. We’d be able to talk about Tebow’s personal grace, his strength of character, his sincere effort as a sportsman. However, a different life lesson presented itself that afternoon. fit1

We were settled in our seats when the players began to emerge from centerfield, heading to the dugouts with their bats, helmets and gloves in tow. Tebow strolled out with his teammates and I noticed right away: He looked tired. This was not the energetic, upbeat guy we are used to seeing on television. It seemed strange not to see him smile as we’ve seen so many times before. Nonetheless, Eli was in awe.

As soon as Tebow reached the left field sideline, he began signing paraphernalia for eagerly awaiting “fans”. Soon, he was grabbed by staff who ushered him over to begin pregame warm-ups. Some of the waiting fans took such displeasure at this they yelled angrily for Tebow to return and continue signing. As soon as throwing and stretching were complete, he walked back to the spot where he’d stood before and began where he left off. Still no Tebow smile, however, just a very tired baseball player.

A few minutes passed, and he came to my own son. Eli leaned down and said something to his hero as he signed his glove, but I was a couple of rows back and could not hear the exchange. Tebow looked up, grinned and replied, then reached for the next item being thrust at him and went on signing in the same manner as before.

When Eli got back to our seats, I asked him what he had said to Mr. Tebow. “I just said “Thank you, sir. Have a great game today!” he replied. “And then Tim said ‘Thanks, Bud!”

I didn’t think too much about it at the time as it didn’t seem overly prolific to me.

Eli and I were fortunate enough to watch Tebow play a double header that day as his team, the Columbia Fireflies, took on the Lexington Legends. Every free moment – and I mean EVERY free moment – he took up his post, signing autographs, making sure no one was skipped, no one was left out. Even after the games, he came back out and continued to sign. Sadly, though, his trademark smiles were very few and far between. And then it dawned on me: He only smiled when he talked, even briefly, with a fan. It seemed it was almost a relief when they weren’t asking him for something and wanted just to engage. Like eli had.

I began to realize that just about everyone at the park (and let’s be honest, we were all there to see him) wanted a little piece of Tim Tebow.

Now, I know it’s easy to say, “Well, he knew what he was signing up for when he agreed to play.” Let me be the first to say I don’t know anyone who would intentionally sign up for exactly that. He was constantly being asked – and often demanded of – to pose for a picture, promote a ministry or fulfill a laundry list of other requests even after he spent every possible second signing autographs for those same folks.

As I watched all this play out, I noticed a little girl who hadn’t gotten her ball signed when the escorts began to pull Tebow away for another game. He reached out and gestured for her to toss him the ball, obviously willing to sign one last autograph as he hurried away. Within seconds of the girl’s toss to him, five or six other balls were pitched at Tebow by middle-aged men who weren’t even sitting together. (These balls were handed politely back to their owners – unsigned – by security guards.) Tebow finished his signature for the little girl and wearily headed to his next obligation.


The realizations kept coming at this point: 140+ games! How could anyone enjoy doing this for 140+ games?

And then I became fully aware: We were all there to see Tim Tebow. We like who he is. Each of us were inspired by him in some way at least enough to show up that day. But were we exhibiting the same behaviors we came to admire?

Through all the trials of that day (he played hard but did not have his best performance ever) he worked diligently to be Tim Tebow. He exhibited grace and respect, which sadly was not the case for many of the “fans” in attendance. One would think that folks who look up to a man of character would exhibit some of their own.

As I drove home that night, I began to think maybe the people who treated Tebow in such a demanding manner are simply a product of our culture – a culture that incessantly asks “What can YOU do for ME?”

It seems people are most concerned with what they are getting out of an experience rather than the well-being of those involved. Sadly, many members of the crowd that afternoon were not attentive to how they could be more like Tim Tebow himself; rather, they were wrapped up in what Tebow could do for them to make their own life a little more fulfilled. As a result, it was NO WONDER Tebow looked so tired. I’m sure the man was exhausted by it all. He is, after all, only human. I think we forget that about our heroes sometimes.

As Eli and I finished our trip, we talked (a talk I would have with our other three children a bit later that night). We spoke about the crowd’s general behavior toward Tebow. We discussed how his “fans” had treated him as if he were a circus monkey. We talked about the fact that no matter how nice or giving a person is, everyone has a breaking point.

Overall, we did, indeed, discuss the grace and character surrounding Tim Tebow. But the life lesson learned was not about how to emulate the character of our heroes. Rather, we discovered this realization: Grabbing a piece of something admirable does not, in turn, make us admirable. The grace we seek lies within our own actions.

Don’t forget to visit www. ExtolSports.com to check out the FamFitter newsletter. This e-post section is your quick link to great recipes, family tips and fun exercise ideas you can use to make your own family fitter. 



11 Hot Weather Hacks

hackHow to survive the heat (without sleeping in your fridge)


Things are heating up and summer has only just begun. When it comes to beating the heat, focus on keeping your body cool rather than cooling the air around you. Here are 11 ways to keep the air conditioning costs down while remaining comfortable:

Smaller is better. Eat small meals more often so your body doesn’t have to work so hard to digest a large amount of food, leading to a rise in body temperature.

Just say no to steak. Avoid foods high in protein, which increase metabolic heat.

Go raw. Try uncooked meals, such as zucchini linguine, to avoid having to heat the kitchen. Also, eating cold foods such as yogurt, Popsicles, and refrigerated or frozen fruit will help keep your body cool.

Avoid alcohol. A cold beer sounds like a great way to cool off, but alcohol dehydrates your body — as do caffeinated drinks. Instead, try water infused with frozen fruit.

Give your feet a treat. Did you know cooling your feet will help your whole body feel cool? Keep a bottle of lotion in the refrigerator to massage into your feet after coming indoors. For added refreshment, try lotion with peppermint oil.

Get cold-blooded. Place a wet cloth in the freezer, then apply it to your neck or wrists — places where you can feel your pulse. This will cool the blood traveling through your body, lowering your temperature from the inside out.

Rock a bandana. If you’re going to spend time outside, roll a few ice cubes in a bandana and tie it around your neck.

Get a cool night’s sleep. There’s nothing worse than trying to sleep when you’re hot. Place a frozen water bottle under your pillow and another under the sheet at your feet to heat-proof your bed.

Dim down. If you haven’t switched to energy-efficient light bulbs, now’s the time. “Old-fashioned” incandescent bulbs put off a great deal of heat, warming up the room and costing you more in electricity to cool it. In addition, dimming your room tricks your brain into thinking it’s cooler.

Close the blinds and curtains during the day. Blocking out the sun will keep your home cooler and cost less to keep cool.

Do nothing … for a little while. Yes, being active is part of a healthy lifestyle, but a little downtime here and there isn’t going to hurt. During the hottest hours of the day, give yourself permission to take a snooze, read a book or catch up on a favorite TV show.

Finally, keep in mind that some medications can increase the risk for heat-related illness. If this is a side effect of a medication you are taking, don’t stop taking it. Know the signs of heat-related illness (for more on that, see page 14), and take extra care to stay hydrated and cool.