Thursday, March 31, 2016

Self Portrait Wish List

Whilst I was shopping on Revolve's website, I discovered the brand 'Self Portrait' and oh my goodness if it's not the most gorgeous clothes then I don't know what is. I love the black Lace Up Tiered Dress (which is on sale!!) for a cocktail party or a summertime special event. This pale pink Lace Peplum Midi Dress is stunning and is perfect for a black tie formal. The top half is immaculately designed and I would love to pair it with thin gold bangles and a classic nude Louboutin. The white and black Oblique Lace Mini Dress is the least fancy of the four and would be beautiful at a backyard bbq or even at the office with a blazer. The ravishing navy blue Amaryllis Sheer Column Dress is what I consider to be the perfect wedding dress for a non-traditional bride. Throw on some nude cleats, give me a football, and I would be set for my own wedding.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Rediscovered Music - Kreuzberg by Bloc Party

I went through a bit of a Bloc Party phase at the end of my senior year when I fell in love with the band. Although a couple of the original members left the band, their music continues to inspire me. The song 'Kreuzberg' was the soundtrack of my April 2015 because of its gorgeous instrumentals and smooth lyrics. Bloc Party is similar to that of The National and Interpol, but their sound is also extremely unique. I love the use of electric guitar in Kreuzberg and the way the sound engineer balanced every instrument and vocal to create a beautiful piece of music. Even though I forgot about the song for nearly a year, I'm glad to know that I'll always have old songs to reminisce upon.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Floral Romper and Strappy Flats

I purchased this beautiful floral romper from American Eagle a couple of weeks ago because it's the perfect spring and summer ensemble. The romper has a tied waist with tassels and a pink teal print all over the piece. My favorite part of the one-piece is its old feel as if it could have been a curtain design! I wore it with my new Calvin Klein strappy sandals, which I adore. The combination of the summery romper and the neutral flats was perfect for a hot day! Although I shouldn't have sported the shoes on a hike...

Monday, March 28, 2016

Rockport and Austin | Vlog

Because of Easter, I had a four day weekend so I was lucky enough to go on a road trip with some of my friends. We drove to Austin, explored Jacob's Well, stayed at a house near the beach in Rockport, and spent quality time together for a few days. I hope you enjoy this short vlog I compiled!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

RGIII to the Cleveland Browns

After four rocky seasons with the Washington Redskins, QB Robert Griffin III will be taking the lead for the Cleveland Browns. Although Browns HC Hue Jackson isn't naming Griffin as a starter, the QB will be thrust into what is known as "the team where QBs go to die". Not so bright, is it? The Browns have a history of going through multiple signal-callers and finishing last in the NFL. This history doesn't go in Griffin's favor and the Browns could still pick a QB in the upcoming NFL draft, but there is still a pro to go along with all of the cons: the expectations of Griffin are low. If he becomes the Browns' starting QB and does well, he will be considered their 'savior', and if he does bad, well, it's just the Browns being the Browns. It looks like we'll have to wait and see whether Cleveland will restore RGIII's legacy, or bring him to his end.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

5 Things

1. Missing these two pups

2. Mom in Waco

3. A release of the 2016 Baylor football poster

4. 40 some-odd days until we're reunited

5. Do football stadiums get any better than McLane?

Friday, March 25, 2016

Path to the Draft | Andrew Billings

I wrote an ode to former Baylor NT Andrew Billings after he announced his decision to forego his senior season in favor of the 2016 NFL Draft. Born in 1995, Billings may be the youngest player to get drafted in this season and the pros are predicting that he'll go early. Billings is a prospect out of Waco HS where he was a national top 200 local recruit who set multiple records in power lifting- his first sport. Billings showed his strength after he broke a Texas state meet record with a 2,010 pound effort (805 squat, 500 bench, 705 dead lift). Although he wasn't a highly touted recruit, Billings made an instant impact as a true freshman starter.

In his freshman year, Billings totaled 29 tackles, 3.5 for loss of eight yards, and three QB hurries. Billings showed immense improvement during his sophomore season where he totaled 37 tackles, 11.5 for loss of 38 yards, two sacks, nine QB hurries, and one forced fumble. He started in all 13 games and became a figure of consistency for the Baylor defense during the 2014 season. However, it wasn't until his third and final season with the Bears that Billings showed his true talent. He earned All-American honors and was named Co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and Defensive Lineman of the Year. Billings recorded 40 tackles, 15 for loss of 66 yards, 5.5 sacks, three QB hurries, and one forced fumble. A defensive forced to be reckoned with, other coaches were starting to acknowledge the impressive speed and strength of the NT. After the Bears beat the Mountaineers in October, West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen said, "The [Andrew] Billings kid is the best nose guard I've ever gone against. I mean, that guy is as disruptive as I've ever seen." 

Andrew showed off at both the NFL and Baylor combines, which hands down increased his draft stock. At the NFL Scouting Combine, the 6'1" 311 pound tackle recorded a 5.05 40 yard dash, 31 bench press reps, 27.5 inch vertical, 113 inch broad jump, 8.05 second three cone drill, and 4.82 second 20 yard shuttle. At Baylor's pro day, Billings shined amongst his fellow defensive players. Although he did not participate in a few drills, his 40 yard dash and three cone drill times were admirable. He ran the 40 in an unofficial 4.92 seconds and recorded a 7.71 second three cone drill.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Me and My Harmonicas

From the moment I discovered Billy Joel's "Piano Man", I knew that I wanted to play the harmonica. Fast forward seven years and here I am with a set of 12. Although this collection may seem unnecessary for a non-music major like myself, think again. I received this amazing Christmas gift from my aunty and uncle and have carried around all 12 with me in my purse (I know, I know...I'm crazy). A Harmonica is a special musical instrument. While violins and pianos play to the more classical spirit, the harmonica is what completely drew me in to the creative world of music. I aspired to be a performing musician with a guitar and a harmonica holder around my neck, similar to the likes of Billy and Priscilla Ahn. Although I may never set foot on a stage or perform to an audience of adoring minds, I will always have my harmonicas and Billy's "Piano Man" playing in my head.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

My Personal Uniform

For as long as I can remember, fashion has been a integral part of my life. Sketching clothing and accessories (although the drawings were quite bad), styling outfits, and modeling my 'masterpieces' around the house has been a reoccurring scene from the time I was a little girl. As I've grown up, however, I discovered the importance of having a 'style uniform' of pieces that I can throw together without thinking about it.

Denim is key in my uniform wardrobe. I absolutely love jeans and wear them almost every single day. I have a few favorite pairs from J BrandTopshop, and J.Crew. Finding a pair of jeans that fit perfectly and wear well is extremely important to me. Although it can seem like a chore to try on multiple pairs of jeans in different washes, styles, and sizes, it's all worth it when you find the one. In my case, I usually gravitate toward skinny denim in a true blue wash that can be paired with any blouse or tee. Denim is the staple piece in my wardrobe upon which I can build.

I love having a mixture of dressy blouses and comfortable basic tees to wear with my jeans or skirts. Lace accents, soft cotton, and thin fabrics are some of my favorite details on a top. These tops are some of my favorite from J.CrewVince, and Joie. I've always been drawn toward camisoles and I've learned to balance them out with a lightweight sweater or jacket. My mom purchased a tweed jacket for me from J.Crew that I've worn consistently with almost every outfit! Having a classic neutral piece of outerwear can do wonders for an otherwise plain outfit. Some of my other favorite jackets are from ZaraTopshop, and T by Alexander Wang.

I hope this post helps you to find your personal uniform and shows you how to have fun with your style!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

New NFL Rules

At the NFL Annual Meeting, team owners decided on approving new rules and changes for the 2016 season. The headlining change is the elimination of all 'chop blocks', which occurs when one offensive player blocks a defensive player low, while another offensive player blocks the defensive player high. Although many defensive linemen were ecstatic about the news, the rule will force OCs to change their strategies for the upcoming season. The other rule changes agreed upon were:

  • Permanently leave the extra points at the 15 yard line.
  • Offensive and defensive play-callers are able to use the headset communication system whether they are on the field or in the booth.
  • A horse-caller tackle has been expanded to included the area "at the nameplate and above."
  • A team will be flagged for delay of game if they attempt to call a timeout when they are not allowed to.
  • The NFL has eliminated the five yard penalty for "an eligible receiver illegally touching a forward pass after being out of bounds and re-establishing himself inbounds, and makes it a loss of down."
  • The NFL has eliminated "multiple spots of enforcement for a double foul after a change of possession."

Monday, March 21, 2016

Cole Haan ZerøGrand Classic Sneaker

I purchased my first pair of Cole Haan shoes last year and I've worn them nearly every day since (pictured herehere, and here)! The shoes are showing their fair share of wear-and-tear (sorry for the rhyming...I've been listening to too much Hamilton) and when I found this new pair at Nordstrom, I instantly purchased them. The brand's new ZerøGrand collection boasts heavy duty fabrics and modern designs. I love the combination of black, white, and mint in this pair and its leather and neoprene materials. I've been wearing these shoes with every outfit and I'm in love!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

March Madness - Hawaiʻi vs. Maryland

The University of Hawaiʻi men's basketball team's Cinderella story came up short against the Maryland Terrapins this evening. The #13 Rainbow Warriors under the direction of first year coach Eran Ganot had an exciting run in their first NCAA tournament run. Unfortunately, the Warriors came up short against the #5 Terrapins and after around 30 minutes of neck-and-neck competition, Maryland maintained a strong lead that would win them the game. The final score was 73-60 after the  Terrapins shot 6 of 9 from the floor and 17 of 17 FTs at the 32 minute mark. Their 18-2 run at the midpoint mark was too much for UH to compete with and the Sweet 16 bid ultimately went to the mainland team. Thank you for a remarkable season, Warriors!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

5 Things

1. Dad and his brick

2. Missing Song Contest

3. My heroes

4. Me and mom

5. Watching Hamilton live and crying

Friday, March 18, 2016

March Madness - Hawaiʻi vs. California

We can start calling this March Madness the season of Cinderella stories! #2 Michigan State lost to #15 Middle Tennessee, #3 West Virginia lost to #14 Stephen F. Austin, and #5 Purdue lost to #12 University of Arkansas-Little Rock in one day. The University of Hawaiʻi played a strong game against a battered Cal team who lost their leading scorer to injury and struggled with foul trouble. UH G Quincy Smith had a heck of a game with 21 points on 7 of 9 shooting and helped the Warriors to keep their lead all night. UH will now celebrate their first-ever NCAA tournament win after defeating the Bears and will advance to play Maryland.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

March Madness - Baylor vs. Yale

The #5 Baylor Bears in the West region were handed a 75-79 loss by the #12 Yale Bulldogs. For the second year in a row, the Bears have been upset by a lower seeded team in the first round of the NCAA tournament, which made this loss even more heartbreaking. The Bears struggled throughout the entire game to find an effective defensive scheme and an outstanding performance by Yale G Makai Mason gave Baylor immense trouble. Mason scored 31 points and the Bulldogs out-rebounded the Bears all night. Last minute efforts from Baylor F Taurean Prince and G Ish Wainwright wasn't enough for the team to come back from a game-long deficit. Unfortunately, the combination of horrible foul calls to Yale's benefit throughout the game and the Bears' lack of consistency led to a disappointing night of basketball for Baylor fans. The Bears had a great season and although we'll be losing Prince, Rico Gathers, Lester Medford, Austin Mills, and John Heard to graduation, the future of Baylor basketball looks bright (almost as bright as the uniforms!).

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Baylor Football Pro Day

Photo courtesy of Baylor Football

The Baylor football team held their annual pro day in front of scouts, head coaches, GMs, and other NFL personnel from all 32 teams. 16 players consisting of seniors and juniors participated in the workouts and drills in order to hopefully boost their draft stock and land their dream jobs. Notable standouts throughout the day include CB Xavien Howard, DT Andrew Billings, WR Corey Coleman, and LB Grant Campbell + a shining performance at interim passer by former QB Nick Florence. The complete list of stats from the day are included below (courtesy of Bears Truth).

DL, Andrew Billings
Vertical: DNP
Broad Jump: DNP
40-yard dash: 4.92
10-5-10: 4.79
3-Cone: 7.71
60-yard: DNP
Bench: DNP
OL, Jarrell Broxton

Vertical: 30
Broad Jump: 9-6
40-yard dash: 5.06
10-5-10: 4.81
3-Cone: 7.78
60-yard: DNP
Bench: 18
DB, Terrell Burt

Vertical: 33 inches
Broad Jump: 10-4
40-yard dash: 4.46
10-5-10: 4.46
3-Cone: 6.72
60-yard: 11.09
Bench: 8
LB, Grant Campbell

Vertical: 37 inches
Broad Jump: 9-8
40-yard dash: 4.60
10-5-10: 4.37
3-Cone: 7.21
60-yard: 11.64
Bench: 25
WR, Corey Coleman

Vertical: DNP
Broad Jump: DNP
40-yard dash: 4.40
10-5-10: DNP
3-Cone: DNP
60-yard: DNP
Bench: DNP
OL, Spencer Drango
Vertical: DNP
Broad Jump: DNP
40-yard dash: DNP
10-5-10: DNP
3-Cone: DNP
60-yard: DNP
Bench: DNP
OL, Desmine Hilliard
Vertical: 29 inches
Broad Jump: 8-4
40-yard dash: 5.78
10-5-10: 5.21
3-Cone: 8.31
60-yard: DNP
Bench: 23
DB, Xavien Howard

Vertical: 38.5 inches
Broad Jump: 10-5
40-yard dash: 4.38
10-5-10: DNP
3-Cone: 7.17
60-yard: 11.59
Bench: DNP
DB, Miles Johnson
Vertical: 33
Broad Jump: 9-9
40-yard dash: 4.66
10-5-10: 4.57
3-Cone: 7.17
60-yard: 12.18
Bench: 10
DS, Jimmy Landes

Vertical: DNP
Broad Jump: DNP
40-yard dash: 4.92
10-5-10: DNP
3-Cone: DNP
60-yard: DNP
Bench: DNP
WR, Jay Lee
Vertical: 33.5
Broad Jump: 9-11
40-yard dash: 4.51
10-5-10: 4.37
3-Cone: 6.85
60-yard: 11.35
Bench: 13
OL, LaQuan McGowan

Vertical: 24
Broad Jump: 8-2
40-yard dash: 5.39
10-5-10: 5.44
3-Cone: 8.33
60-yard: DNP
Bench: 30
OL, Blake Muir

Vertical: 32
Broad Jump: 9-8
40-yard dash: DNP
10-5-10: 4.70
3-Cone: 7.56
60-yard: DNP
Bench: 28
DL, Shawn Oakman

Vertical: DNP
Broad Jump: DNP
40-yard dash: 4.78
10-5-10: DNP
3-Cone: DNP
60-yard: DNP
Bench: DNP
DL, Jamal Palmer

Vertical: 27
Broad Jump: 9-9
40-yard dash: 4.93
10-5-10: 4.67
3-Cone: 6.31
60-yard: DNP
Bench: 12
TE, Gus Penning

Vertical: 31.5
Broad Jump: 9-4
40-yard dash: 4.72
10-5-10: 4.44
3-Cone: 7.26
60-yard: 12.07

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

'90's Inspired Wardrobe Additions

I've recently been inspired by clothing and accessories from the 90's à la Clueless, 10 Things I Hate About You, and She's All That. I used to despise anything ribbed or too tight/too loose, but now I'm embracing new (old) styles. I was only a small fetus in the 90's so I didn't have a chance to dabble in the blue eyeshadow, crop top, or tacky pattern trends. Luckily enough, Topshop houses nearly all of those "inspiring" items and I can't wait to purchase some!

The High Rise Ripped Mom Jeans are my favorite of the bunch. Although I only own mid-rise skinny jeans, this pair instantly caught my eye and I would love to try them on. I'll probably need a pygmy length so as to not wear denim up to my chest. This Multicolor Stripe Crochet Top is a piece I would never usually look at, but I love how the different colored stripes blend together. The combination of red, mint, and sky blue is visually appealing. The Chain Strap Bandage Body-Con Dress is mostly inspired by Cher Horowitz from Clueless and I love it! Halter ties are some of my favorite for the spring time and olive green looks good on almost everyone. The Ribbed Long Sleeve Top is the most wearable piece that I found because the color is insanely gorgeous. I used to think ribbed sweaters and tops were only for grandmas, but the cropped cut modernizes the top.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Lace and Distressed

The weather in Waco is warming up but as you can tell, I'm still sporting my favorite jeans! Today I paired my distressed Topshop denim with a lace blush cami from J.Crew, which I'm a huge fan of. The combination of casual jeans and a dressy blouse makes for a fun outfit. I added my dearly loved tweed jacket just in case it got chilly (it didn't) and slipped on my new Calvin Klein strappy flats. Here's to the Monday after spring break!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Selection Sunday

The NCAA tournament is finally upon us and today is arguably one of the most exciting days in the basketball post season. Selection Sunday is when the NCAA committee reveals the 68 college basketball teams that will be participating in the tournament. The tournament is divided into four regions: West, South, Midwest, and East. My family and I were lucky enough to attend the SS watch party for the basketball team along with all of the players, coaches, and their families. It was so exciting to watch the team's reactions as their seed was announced! The Baylor men's team has been selected as a #5 seed in the West region and will be playing #12 Yale on March 17 at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island. If the Bears win the first matchup, they can go on to compete against either #4 Duke or #13 UNC Wilmington.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

5 Things

1. The best sandwiches from Sam Lagrassas in Boston

2. Hotels with puppies are a must-visit

3. Mom and dad at school

4. Honoring my favorite historical figure from 'Hamilton'

5. Watching as many sports as possible

Friday, March 11, 2016

Strappy Nude Sandals

Now that spring is upon us, I've been on the hunt for warm weather clothing and accessories. Bright colors, lace details, and nude tones are on my checklist for wardrobe additions. I found this pair of Calvin Klein flats at Nordstrom and they're exactly what I've been looking for! The wrap around ties add a fun detail to otherwise neutral shoes and I love the pointed toes. The shade is similar to my color, so the flats elongate my legs and look good with any outfit!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Spring Denim and A Lightweight Sweater

After scouring the racks at J.Crew, I fell in love with a few hidden gems. I've been searching for the ideal pair of denim shorts to sport at the beach and everywhere else at home, so the Denim Short in Dark Von Wash is the quintessential piece. The shorts have the perfect amount of stretch and the dark wash make them wearable for nearly all occasions. I loved the creamsicle color of the Summerweight Sweater in Neon. I've never been a huge fan of orange hues, but this shade is a great mixture of pastel and neon. The Toothpick Jean in Lancaster Wash is a denim that I've been lusting after for over five years (I know, I just placed an order for them!) and for good reason! The wash is true blue with a bit of distressing and I'm currently coveting low-rise jeans. Although they're a bit pricey, I know I'll get a lot of use out of them since I wear jeans everyday!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Boston Eats

I've been lucky enough to spend the past couple of days in Boston with my dad for spring break. My family loves the city and we're huge fans of the excellent food and shopping! For our first meal, we went to Regina Pizzeria on the North End. We ordered the Giambotta pizza, which had pepperoni, sausage, salami, peppers, mushrooms, and onions and was arguably the best pizza I've ever had. Regina's doesn't serve anything other than pizza, so they have perfected their craft and serve fresh, delicious pies. Although we might have over-ordered by choosing a 16 inch pizza, we've been feasting on the leftovers! After eating pizza, we had to stop by Modern Pastry to buy some cannolis and other desserts. I chose a chocolate dipped shell with whipped cream and chocolate chips (we went back tonight to buy more!) and purchased a whoopie pie and black and white cookie. There are a lot of great pastry shops in the North End, but I think Modern Pastry's cannolis are the best! This morning, we caught an Uber to the closest Flour Bakery, which is one of our favorite places on the mainland. We ate two breakfast sandwiches with eggs, bacon and cheese, and also purchased a Kouign-amman (Breton cake) and a Brioche au chocolat. For dinner, we headed back to the North End to eat the most insane Italian food at Trattoria di Monica. We first discovered the hole-in-the-wall restaurant on one of our first trips to Boston around seven years ago and have been going back ever since. I always order the Pappardelle alla Bolognese, which is covered in the most delicious ragout! Tomorrow is our last full day in the city and I'm thinking burgers and lobster rolls are next on the list...

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Spring Shoe Selection

Spring is my favorite season for new wardrobe additions- especially shoes and dresses! Although I usually tend to navigate towards black, white, and gray, I love adding pops of color when the flowers bloom and the weather starts to warm up. This season, I'm excited for no-fuss heels and pretty sneakers. The blue ED by Ellen DeGeneres Escondido Sneaker is an almost replica of my favorite Cole Haan "bowling shoes" and are my favorite of the bunch. I love wearing casual sneakers on an everyday basis and these are a must-have! The Michael Kors Darci Espadrille Wedge is the quintessential spring heel. Espadrilles are chic but not too fancy, so they're best paired with denim and a flowy blouse. This pink Steve Madden Voodoo Ankle Strap Sandal is a modern take on the classic peep toe pump. I love the chunky heel and the blush shade would look perfect with an all gray ensemble. I instantly fell in love with the Nike Classic Ultra Leather Sneaker and its gorgeous plum hue. I would style it with a sun dress and a simple clutch to add edginess to an otherwise girly outfit.

Monday, March 7, 2016


My sister Megan loves Peyton Manning. She's admired the QB for as long as I can remember. While I was sketching outfits in my notebooks, she was sporting Manning jerseys everywhere (including to her first interview at Kamehameha when we were kids) and watching his Colts games. When he was released from Indy and started for the Broncos, she tucked his blue and white jerseys under her bed in favor of a new Denver one. It's no secret that football is a passion of mine, and in many ways, I've been inspired by my sister's dedication to the sport throughout our entire lives. Because I've watched her cheer, scream, cry, and devote countless hours to watching games and memorizing the details of the sport, I was already a few steps ahead when I decided to learn the ins and outs of the game.

Today, Peyton announced his retirement from professional football. After 18 years, two teams, and countless records, the sheriff will be walking away from the game he's loved his entire life. Here is a full list of the records Manning currently set in the NFL.
  • NFL career passing touchdown record: 539
  • Most passing yards, career: 71,940
  • Single season touchdown record (2013): 55
  • Most passing yards, season (2013): 5,477
  • Most wins (including playoffs): 200
  • Most games throwing for 300+ yards: 93
  • Most passing touchdowns in a single game (tied, 2013): 7
  • Most games with a passing rating higher than 105: 97
  • Most games with a perfect passer rating of 158.3: 5
  • Most seasons with 350+ completions: 10
  • Most games completing 80-percent passing: 19
  • Most game-winning drives: 56
  • Most comeback wins: 45
  • Highest completion percentage in a postseason game with 450+ yards (2005): 81.8
  • Highest yards-per-game, season (2013): 342.31
  • Most games with 4+ touchdown passes: 25
  • Most seasons passing for 4,000+ yards: 14
  • Most consecutive seasons with 25+ touchdowns: 13
  • One of two quarterbacks to ever beat all 32 teams (along with Brett Favre)
  • First quarterback to beat 31 franchises: 2007
  • Most Associated Press NFL MVP awards: 5 (2003, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2013)
The game of football will never be the same. Thanks to Megan, I was able to witness greatness, even though I didn't want to at first; and thanks to Peyton, football has been changed forever.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

A Conversation With Coach Charlie Melton

While brainstorming ways to incorporate sports posts in This Is Noelle during the football offseason, I had the idea to start a series of interviews with athletes and coaches in all sports. Although I mainly focus on football, I believe that those who coach and play have similar experiences and emotions while focusing on their sport of choice. For the first installment in what I've lovingly called "A Conversation With...", I interviewed Coach Charlie Melton- Baylor men's basketball director of athletic performance. 

Can you tell me about how you started working in strength and conditioning?

I fell in love with working out in high school because I wasn’t very athletic and I wasn’t good at sports. I just really fell in love with writing down the food that I ate and the workouts that I did so I started to gain weight and I got stronger during my senior year of high school. When I got to the University of Memphis, I was unsure about what I was going to major in so I kind of bounced around from a couple different majors. I initially thought I would do physical therapy but pre-med chemistry was just brutal and in 1995, I took a semester off in the spring and worked two jobs to try and figure out what I wanted to do. My girlfriend’s mom at the time asked if I had ever heard of work hardening, which is a specialist in between physical therapy and occupational therapy. It wasn’t a licensed practitioner for one of those bigger disciplines but it helped working class people transition from surgery back to blue collar labor jobs. I met with a guy who worked in the field and his job looked fun. He said that he got an exercise science degree from the University of Memphis,  and at the time, I didn’t even know there was such a degree. I went over to the department, looked into it, started majoring in exercise science and health promotion in the fall of 1995 and found what I was really meant to do. At that point I had a 2.5 GPA and then through my core classes from my major I had a 3.9 and science, which I was previously pretty bad at, just came really easy when it was science of the body. Everything clicked and we had a weight lifting club and a student chapter of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and I got involved with research, so I really branched out and started doing a lot. I did my internship in the spring of 1998 with the Memphis football team, I worked in the weight room, and also qualified for collegiate nationals in weight lifting. At that point I was living my dream of lifting and being part of athletics in the weight room and then my exercise physiology professor approached me during that semester and asked if I had plans for graduate school. I was a super underachiever at the time so I had no idea. I was just lifting weights, you know? He told me that he needed a graduate research assistant and he asked me to work in the weight room as a strength coach and at the end of the workouts, pass out the supplements for his research study. I was interested because it was a graduate assistantship so they were going to pay for my Master’s degree. I worked for two years as a research assistant/strength coach assistant, and I just loved it. 

At the end I found out I didn’t want to do research because I was tired of doing blood samples and collecting urine jugs, I really just enjoyed the weight room part and the practice of it. So I got my Master’s degree completed in 2000. My head strength coach at Memphis was a former Florida State football player and was still involved with that program and his old coach was still the coach at FSU. He told me that they were looking for a graduate assistant and so he set me up with him and I ended up going to FSU and took another grad assistantship position in the summer of 2000. Our strength coach and assistant head coach went to the University of Georgia in 2001 in the spring and so I had to step into more of a role as an assistant strength coach because we had lost our head strength coach and his assistant was now the interim head strength coach. The new guy came in and hired me in the spring in 2001 so that’s when I actually started working as a full time strength coach. I started with soccer, track and field and football. It was a huge learning curve to write programs for track and field and soccer, I mean just completely different from football. So I started incorporating a lot of the science I had learned and you know, the education started to pay off. Somewhere in strength and conditioning there’s a crossover between the practice of it and the science of it. You have to be a practitioner and you also have to have the science to guide you. There’s some really brilliant guys that I was in grad school with that are not cut out to be coaches and some great coaches who don’t know what they’re doing, they’re just doing what they learned. And so I thought I knew it all back then. 

Our head strength coach at the time took over and told me that he wanted me to run the internship program. In 2004 I took on a class at FSU: an undergraduate techniques in strength and conditioning course and I started teaching that fall which was really cool, I really enjoyed it. In 2004 was also when Coach Drew contacted me and said, “Hey, your graduate professor from Memphis is now the chair of the Baylor exercise department. He’s been helping with nutrition and we’re going to hire our own men’s basketball strength coach and your name came up. Would you be interested?” I initially thought there’s no way in the world I have a shot at a job like this, and then on top of that, why would you ever want to move to Waco? There’s David Karesh and then there was the whole Dennehy scandal so he ended up coming to visit me at FSU and then they offered me to come and visit here at campus and it was awesome, they just did a really good job at recruiting everybody. They were sending me letters in the mail and just treating me really well and finally offered the job. I ended up coming here in the summer of 2005, left FSU right at 5 years (July 1) and came here and started working again with my graduate professor. He put me in charge of their research lab here as far as internships and in 2007 I had a chance to pick up an undergrad class (Techniques of Strength and Conditioning), so I’ve been teaching that class for 8 years now here at Baylor. It’s really fun it’s every fall and it’s a blast because I get to be around undergrads and get out of the gym and that’s kind of my coaching timeline or story.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

I love my relationships with the players and the experience of seeing a guy come in immature with a head full of some crazy dreams and watching him mature and take on some more realistic dreams. You see these guys like Cory Jefferson, who went from 175 pounds to 220 pounds and he ends up huge but the way that the guys develop mentally and spiritually here is just as important as 50 pounds of muscle. That part is my favorite part. Because even when we lose games or it’s a hard practice or things don’t go our way, we still have that group of guys to keep us up. When I went through a divorce in 2010, this was the only thing that kept me going because I couldn’t see my kids like I used to be able to, I had to move into an apartment near campus, and I blew my knee out on top of that, so coming to work was the thing that kept me up in the morning. I told myself that I have to get up because the guys are waiting for me and that hands down is my favorite part. 

When you have a bad game or a bad practice, how do you motivate the guys to push through?

We remind them about what’s important and we focus on the process and the overall goal. What’s really important is staying together as a team, standing up, being men of God no matter what life throws at us. That’s one of our foundations. In terms of the process, well we lost but we still have to show up tomorrow, we still have to get dressed, we still have to lift because we have to focus on our big goal. We have a Big 12 tournament coming up and we’re trying to make the NCAA tournament. If we get selected on Sunday, that will be the third time we’ve been selected, which will be a record for us. You know, it’s not what we wanted-we wanted the Big 12 championship, and we saw it start to slip away last week when Kansas got too far ahead but that’s okay because we can still go to the Big 12 tournament and show people who we really are. I think those things keep driving us. I also like to play with the guys so we’ve got lacrosse sticks, pogo sticks, hockey sticks, we’ve got about 30 nerf guns. So we play and wrestle and it’s like being with my brothers. I’m the oldest of four boys and the guys are all like my little brothers so I can kind of horse around with them. We’ve got a warm up where we play tag and crack jokes so we’re blessed with some guys who know this is our life so it’s really hard to lose, but it’s still college basketball. It’s supposed to be fun. 

Is it in your coaching philosophy to instill the concept of having fun and enjoying the game?

It definitely is in my philosophy. If I’m laughing and whistling and joking while I’m working hard, I’m actually working harder than I would be if I were in a bad mood. You don’t want to have an intrinsic focus, you want to have this extrinsic focus where yeah this hurts, this is painful, but it’s fun because it’s in this beautiful weight room and I’m with my brothers. Life is meant to be enjoyed. There are trials, but even in James it tells us that if it’s a trial, we’re still supposed to count it as joy. And this is something that not everyone’s doing. There’s a saying that says if it’s easy, everybody would be doing it. We remind these guys that out of all the high school basketball players in the country, they’re selected to be here doing this. 

What is your definition of a successful coach?

My definition of success is different from a basketball coach’s definition. To me, a successful career in coaching is that when my guys come back in 10 years, they hug me and tell me how their kids are doing; that if I come to the team with a concern, they respect me enough to look me in the eye and listen and do what I ask out of love, not out of obligation. I think the biggest satisfaction is at the end of a long practice or a long workout, everybody’s still being brothers and being friends. I think it’s successful when you can handle serious conflict with a guy. For example, Rico got busted for shoplifting this summer but as bad as that is, he’s still part of our family. You wouldn’t kick your sister out of the house for shoplifting. You know, my mom’s not gonna kick me out of the house for shoplifting. So we were able to rally around him and love him up and help put him back on course. Sometimes being friends and brother’s isn’t always fun and easy, sometimes it’s really really hard. Being able to fight through whatever’s going on-good, bad or ugly, and maintain that relationship, that is success to me. 

What is an average practice like for the team?

It depends on the time of the year. Our hardest and longest practices are in the preseason when we are in September or October, and we are allowed to practice 20 hours a week and we don’t have games. That turns into team warm ups for 10 to 15 minutes and practice for two to three hours, and then we lift at the end of that. We’re limited to four hours per day max. In the offseason before we’re in the competitive period, we have to have two days off a week. And so those turn into four hour days. On those days, there’s an hour and a half leading up to it where we’re getting everything set up, everybody’s showing up, getting dressed, and then there’s the hour afterwards where we’re cleaning up, so it turns into long days. During that time, there’s no gratification, the guys are practicing against each other and beating up on each other. That’s a typical preseason, which is super long. Right now we are in a period where we’ll do an hour of film, watch the game we just played, watch scout on the upcoming team we’re going to play, we’ll lift for 30-45 minutes depending on what day of the week it is and we’ll practice for an hour to an hour and a half. It’s shorter when we’re at home, but what gets long is game days and being on the road. The summer time is a different period. The way basketball is defined is in-season usually is 20 hours a week and anything that’s pre, post, or offseason is eight hours a week. In the eight hour period, we get two hours to do basketball skill work and six hours a week to do strength and conditioning. The year kind of looks like April through September, and September through April.

But you’re able to have fun in between, right?

Yeah, so we get the month of May off. We might get a couple guys in town but generally, they have finals and voluntary workouts and then the guys go home, so the month of May is our down month. But 11 months out of the year we’re going strong. 

Is that draining on you and the team?

Yeah the first few years especially were draining, just getting used to what the requirements were. Now it’s draining but my family knows what to anticipate, I know what to anticipate, so we’re able to make the most out of my off days. We let off a lot of steam last spring, we’re hoping to do it this year, where we did the multiple sports kind of thing. So we’re planning on doing that. The month of April can be fun. If we can get baseball and tennis and lacrosse on board with it with us, and softball and rowing and all that, we can go out and play and have a good time.

What’s your favorite memory from your coaching career?

The first time we made the NCAA tournament was pretty cool. It was after the end of several years of really playing hard and trying to get these lower ranked, lower tiered players and bumping them up to a level where we were competitive. The first time going to the tournament and seeing what a spectacle it is and how much history and heritage and tradition involved with it, that was one of the biggest moments. If I had to rank them, that’s the best.

And that’s helped you guys to gain attraction from bigger recruits, right?

It’s led to everything just growing from there. So we’re able to get some guys in the top 50 that we shouldn’t have gotten before and we wouldn’t have gotten in the past. The women winning the national championship in 2005 helped us build this weight room and this practice facility, so all that has enabled us to bring kids in and say we’ve got this weight room, we’ve got these great numbers in the post season. For a while I think we had the best post season numbers in the country, which you don’t really think about, but we’ve done extremely well in the post season. It’s all been really cool because it was this concept of leaving FSU which is a really big school, it’s an entry level job but it’s a secure job, to come to this Baylor University rebuild project and it was kind of like this buy low, sell high opportunity and we were buying stock really low. Not a lot of people wanted to touch this job, but I thought man, if those coaches that are that positive and that strong are brave enough to take on that situation, I could work with guys like that. That charged me up and then imagine if we started to do well, imagine if we got better, that would show that we have the ability to coach and develop people. That’s what you want to be able to show the world is hey, we can coach, we can develop, we can compete. And it’s kind of easy to do it when you go to a school that’s already competitive that’s a big school, you know you go to FSU and you expect them to win because it’s FSU, so that whole process has been really cool. That kind of helps me feel more successful even though we’re not Duke or Kentucky or Kansas, but everybody knows who Baylor is now, which is cool.

Do you have any other favorite parts of your job that you'd like to add?

The idea of faith here at Baylor and being able to speak the name of Jesus, being able to pray is pretty awesome because there are some places where they’re discouraged from speaking the name of Jesus, they’re discouraged from praying. We’re able here to live it with these players. And you know, Christianity doesn’t mean perfection, it means failure. If you look, the Bible is a story of failure on man’s part and God getting the glory for making things happen. And we get the chance to teach guys here how to be strong Christians, like real Christians, not somebody that says the right things or prays the right prayers, but somebody who walks through life with people who aren’t Christians and witnesses and lives in the world but they’re not of the world. I think that’s really cool here. We’ve had five or six guys get baptized a couple years ago, it’s just awesome. So that’s been one of the biggest things for me personally because there’s guys who have stuck by me, there’s always godly council, and I don’t want to work anywhere else. This is my dream job.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

5 Things

1. FaceTiming Scout

2. The cutest new romper

3. Happy (belated) Hinamatsuri!

4. Thankful for breakfast food

5. Missing this view

Friday, March 4, 2016

Packing for Spring Break

My spring break starts today (finally!) and I'll be spending half of break in Texas and the other half in Boston with my dad. Preparing for two different types of weather is always a challenge, but I've managed to pack lightly (there's a first time for everything) and I've fit every clothing and accessory piece I need in my check in luggage! I'm bringing along seven tops (four blouses, two tees, one sweater), two dresses (one for day, one for night), two jackets (one tweed, one utility for the cold), two pairs of jeans (one distressed, one dark wash), one pair of heels (I'll be wearing my sneakers along the way), undergarments, pajamas, my DSLR, a downsized makeup bag with all of my must haves, glittery Kate Spade sunglasses, one purse, harmonicas (of course), laptop, and my essentials will be in my backpack. Now let's get this show on the road!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Madewell Denim

Madewell houses the perfect mix of classic silhouettes and modern pieces at an affordable price. I always love shopping on their website and in store whenever I'm on the mainland. I'm a huge fan of their selection of denim as they collect all kinds of washes, fits, and trends. This season, I'm looking for washed denim with tasteful accents. I love the Denim Sunday Shirtdress paired with espadrilles for a brunch outfit. The Denim Boyshorts will be perfect over a bikini to wear to the beach and an afternoon lunch! Their High Riser Skinny Skinny Jeans styled with a flowy white blouse and fringe flats make the perfect spring look. Even though it's warming up outside, I still think the Skinny Overalls will work with a cropped crochet top and leather slippers.
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