Sports Entertainment takes on a whole new meaning when we look at the newest team in the AFL LA KISS. We also explore art, opera and theatre and why they're so important to the sports industry and the lessons we can all learn from sports.
GC FEBRUARY APRIL //MAY MARCH 20142014ISSUE ISSUE • 1.03 • 1.02 ‘ROCKY’ IS A KNOCKOUT ON BWAY JEN WELTER PUPS AT THE PARK HORSERACING LA KISS THEY’RE BRINGING ROCK INTO THE FOOTBALL GAME ARENA CHANGER 1 II join the team BLOGGERS-WRITERS-PHOTOGRAPHERS-EDITORS-BLOGGERS-WRITE PHERS-EDITORS-BLOGGERS-WRITERS-PHOTOGRAPHERS-EDITORS-B PHOTOGRAPHERS-EDITORS-BLOGGERS-WRITERS-PHOTOGRAPHERS GERS-WRITERS-PHOTOGRAPHERS-EDITORS-BLOGGERS-WRITERS-PH 2 GAME CHANGER e n i z a g a M r e g n a h C Game m ERS-PHOTOGRAPHERS-EDITORS-BLOGGERS-WRITERS-PHOTOGRABLOGGERS-WRITERS-PHOTOGRAPHERS-EDITORS-BLOGGERS-WRIT S-EMAIL US AT: GCMAGEDITOR@GMAIL.COM-EDITORS-BLOG HOTOGRAPHERS-EDITORS-BLOGGERS-WRITERS-PHOTOGRAPHERS GAME CHANGER 3 GC GAME CHANGER MAGAZINE Editor-in-Chief Gary Shackleford Copy Editor Mark Oâ€™Hara Design Consultant Ryan Brinson Cover: KISS & the LA KISS Football team Contributors: Caleb Bollenbacher Matthew Johnson Harris Laura Vansickle Featured Photographers: Ryan Brinson All articles and photos are the property of the writers and photographers. All rights reserved. 4 GAME CHANGER CLICK HERE TO FOLLOW US GAME CHANGER 5 TABLE of CONTENTS 16 22 ROCKY TAKES ON BWAY Raw eggs and talking to turtles, Andy Karl becomes Broaday’s Rocky Balboa. Sly approves. You will too. PUPS IN THE PARK Bring your kid to work day is so yesterday. Now, you can bring your dog to the ballpark. 28 SAVING SOCHI STRAYS 34 GIMME A ‘KISS’ David Backes and his wife are working to save not only the strays in Sochi, but in your town as well. It’s the biggest party you’ll ever experience at an arena. KISS is taking over arena football. 6 GAME CHANGER 40 PLAY BALL LIKE A GIRL 46 A FOOTBALL OPERA? 52 Jen Welter brings new meaning to the term “You play ball like a girl.” She can kick you ass and school you at the same time. Literally. You read that correctly. Find out how two seemingly opposite subjects are fused together. A DAY AT THE RACES There’s more to horse racing than the Kentucky Derby folks. We chat with this year’s hottest jockeys. 60 AN ARTIST’S PERSPECTIVE 66 DERBY DAY BRUNCH In an age where Photoshop can create holograms of dead rap stars, this artist will blow you away by what he can do. Put some South in your mouth. We have the easy recipes to make your Derby Day something to remember, no matter who crosses the finish line first. GAME CHANGER 7 Letter from the Editor We hear the phrase “sports entertainment” so many times, but never do we get to fully understand what that means. The pinnacle of sports entertainment, thus far, has been the WWE. Athletes who spend hours in the gym, building their bodies up to mythical proportions who enter an arena and proceed to solely entertain the fans. The winners are pre-determined, the upsets have already been decided and yet we still flock to see the fireworks both literally and in the ring. This issue brings us a new way of looking at sports entertainment. In our inaugural issue of Game Changer Magazine we highlighted the Broadway play Bronx Bombers. Now, we are ready to expand on that first issue and really look at the ways sports entertain off the field, as well as on. From the grand stage of the opera to the Honda Center where LA KISS will be playing, sports entertainment will be presented and open up discussion. There seems to be a resurgence of sports in entertainment and we wanted to be there to catch it all. From Broadway and movies, to music and painting there’s a new generation of creatives that are finding inspiration in sports. The group that grew up on “Bull Durham,”“ROCKY” and “Field of Dreams,” is now in charge of what we witness and the influences are clear. There are so many lessons to be learned from sports, but at the root of it all we find an appreciation for life. Sports may not be the finite tool for teaching life’s lessons, but it can be a gateway. The lessons may not be clear, but the fuse has been lit. Rocky’s determination to fight is echoed in Jen Welter’s passion for football and competing as an equal. Rocky’s story isn’t one where the underdog wins, it’s not RUDY, but his story is seen in real life, in the same issue of this magazine. I can’t ever express how endlessly amazed I am at the way these stories connect. I hope that this issue encourages you to experience something new, not be afraid of the unknown and to leave your swamp SHREK! Gary Shackleford Jr. Editor-in-Chief 8 GAME CHANGER GAME CHANGER 9 Seasonal Allergies by Caleb Bollenbacher It’s that time of year again. It’s the time when, even though I’m still bundling up to fight the cold, the universe insists to me that the seasons are changing, in the form of daily push notifications reminding me that baseball has begun. Spring is upon us, and with it comes plenty of sighs and eye rolls to mask the pain. Baseball and I have a difficult relationship, you see. We always have. That’s the nature of being a Cubs fan. For me, baseball is all about misery, and the misery is an art form that I have perfected. After years of asking my dad – who I inherited the Cubbies from – if this would be “the year”, only to repeatedly ignore his sage answers of “no”, I had my heart broken one too many times to bother with hope any more. Rather than fall into the depressing trap of full-time cynicism, I sought a temporary solution for the pain: a Band-aid in the form of a bandwagon. Having taken up residence in Texas during college, I figured that adopting the local team was a safe bet, seeing as how they were an American League team and wouldn’t conflict with my natural allegiance. And so I cheered for the Rangers, and experienced a different kind of pain. While the Cubs are almost never in danger of any sort of success, the Rangers are the opposite side of the antagonizing spectrum. Twice I watched them go to the World Series. Each time I thought that I would finally learn what it felt like to cheer for a winner. In 2011, the year after a heartbreaking no-show in the Series, I attended Game 2 of the ALCS and witnessed Nelson Cruz’s walk-off grand slam in extra innings…and I thought I was lucky enough to be a part of something magical. Just like the previous year, it wasn’t to be. So here I am, rooting for one team that hasn’t made the World Series in the lifetime of anyone I know and one team that has mastered the art of the finish line collapse. Like I said, baseball is difficult for me. You can see why I might have become somewhat bitter. Now when those alerts show up on my phone telling me that baseball is happening, something dies inside of me all over again. I’ve considered quitting, 10 GAME CHANGER just like every good addict does. It’s no surprise really, not if you’ve ever heard me talk about the sport like it’s some ex-girlfriend out of all the worst kinds of clichés. But in all the misery, in all the examining of why this is America’s so-called national pastime, I might have found enough answers to prevail. Baseball might not dominate the headlines like it used to. What with the rising popularity of other sports and the seemingly infinite scandals and stretches of inaction, it makes sense. And yet, there’s something about the sport that is inescapable. There’s a magic to going to the ballpark that’s present in few other places. There’s something entrancing about watching from the living room or tuning in on the car radio. Baseball and America have been synonymous for so long, it can’t help but have a narrative to it, and there’s something special to that. While I constantly malign the never-ending discourse on arbitrary statistics that reign in baseball like in no other sport, there is beauty in the detail. The discussion goes on because each piece of the puzzle is part of a greater story. Baseball is spring and baseball is summer, and in the fall only the heroes are left standing. There’s poetry in the simplicity of that fact, that at its essence baseball is the seasons. And in the winter there is only cold and quiet. No other sport is so entrenched in tradition, and at the end of the day that’s why we come back to it. If for nothing else, we watch because that’s just what we do, and I think that’s okay. For me the tradition is a painful one, because I know the Cubs may never win. But deep down inside, tradition is a part of us, and we won’t leave it behind. We can’t give up on it, and I don’t think any of us really want to. GAME CHANGER 11 12 GAME CHANGER CLICK HERE TO FOLLOW US GAME CHANGER 13 on the scene “A LEAGUE OF OUR OWN” BENEFIT 14 GAME CHANGER HARLEM RBI For more information on Harlem RBI, check out www.harlemrbi.org GAME CHANGER 15 16 GAME CHANGER PHOTOS BY MATTHEW MURPHY STORY BY GARY SHACKLEFORD GAME CHANGER 17 Sports are making an impact on Broadway and ROCKY the Musical is no exception. Andy Karl, a veteran Broadway actor, is at the helm of the beast that is rocking the Winter Garden theater in New York City for 8 shows a week. Based on the first movie of the cult “ROCKY” franchise, this show already has audiences on their feet and cheering for the champ. What the audience doesn’t see is that Andy Karl goes beyond the script to make sure that the they are receiving the most accurate portrayal of Balboa their money can get. “I started out in sports when I was a kid,” Karl begins. “I was a really good swimmer, trophies and medals, I was all-county until I was 12.” Like many of us, Karl had an older sibling he was ‘destined’ to follow. Karl’s brother was one of the best football players in their recent High School history and when Andy became old enough, he was thrust into those “Friday Night Lights.” “They put me in his position; center, it was a horrible choice. It just didn’t click, I didn’t have the mentality and it took one good hit to the head and I was done.” Karl wasn’t cut out for full contact sports, he left football and so began his love for the stage. Karl wasn’t a complete stranger to musical theatre, his mother was a church pianist and he was raised with music in his blood. Karl has been around the stage for a while, from touring productions to Broadway shows. This also isn’t his first shot at ‘recreating’ an iconic role. He’s been in Jersey Boys, Legally Blonde and Saturday Night Fever. ROCKY, however, is different. ROCKY is truly the culmination of his life’s work. “It’s blending athleticism with the theatre element. It’s great for me because I’ve been doing both my whole life.” Broadway actors are truly athletes. They dance and sing their way through eight shows a week and most of them have to know two or three different parts. That’s not even counting the time before the show opens when they’re rehearsing all day. Prior to Opening night, Broadway shows rehearse from 11 or 12 in the afternoon (with meal breaks), until it’s time for that evenings performance for an audience. The schedule for most actors is taxing, just having to keep the stamina up, as well as making sure your voice is well 18 GAME CHANGER GAME CHANGER 19 20 GAME CHANGER rested. For Karl, there is a whole separate layer to the puzzle, he has to look like a professional boxer. That meant hiring a trainer. “I could hardly afford my trainer when I started,” Karl recalls. “I knew I needed a good one because it wasn’t just about getting into shape, I needed to have a certain look.” Prior to rehearsals, Karl had been working on weight gain and building muscle. What he underestimated was the toll his body would take during the “preview period” of the show. “It was frightening to see how your body reacts over three to four to five weeks of this process.” Karl adds, “I rehearse all day and go to the show at night, I wanted to have the heavy weight build (around 190) but it’s hard with the loaded cardio you have as an actor.” Karl combats the excessive cardio by hitting the gym for intense circuit and weight training in the mornings before he goes to rehearsal. His grit and determination to go above and beyond the desired goal is reminiscent of his character’s drive. The psychology of life and the character is just as important as the physical aspect. Karl advises future ‘Rockys,’“This role correlates to your personal life. You know, I never thought I would be one of those guys in the gym, screaming in pain, trying to get that last pump, that one extra push. But here I am, I am that guy now. Pushing myself to the limit, past my goals to achieve something, the way Rocky did.” There’s a fine line in playing iconic roles. You don’t want to just copy someone else, but you also don’t want to stray too far from the character at hand. Luckily for Karl, he’s had some practice at portraying noted characters on stage. “When I was in Saturday Night Fever, I remember delivering a line exactly how John Travolta did and the audience went crazy. Rocky is the next level for me. We watched him for six movies, he’s almost like a real person we know. It’s like when Ben Kingsley played Gandhi, he lost weight, he had the Indian accent and he became this guy. That’s what I’m doing, I have to attack this role as if he’s a historical figure in life, I have to play this part honestly or it will just be a bad impersonation.” Sylvester Stallone created an empire when he brought Rocky Balboa to life. Stallone has worked very hard with bringing this musical to life as well. Karl was lucky enough to have the chance to work with Stallone on creating the character in this show. “He wants so much for me to own the role for myself, you really have got to find those beats that speak to you, that you can connect with. Luckily for me, it’s a great story and it’s quite easy for me to find parts of myself in the character.” Karl remembered, “You know, he said something really great to me the other day. He said ‘Smile though your heart is breaking. That’s Rocky’s song, that’s how he goes about life.’ Then I realized that as a person, Rocky is able to push through all of the bad stuff in his life, because he has this lightness in his heart. That allows him to take this golden opportunity and go the distance. He may lose the fight, but he wins everything.” Like most sports, putting on a production of this scale is a team effort. For every pitcher, there’s a catcher, for every forward a goalie and in this case for every leading man and equally outstanding female counterpart. Though married in real life to a former co-star, Karl and Margot Seibert have found their chemistry on stage quite easily. “Orfeh is my real life Adrienne, but Margot and I got along really well from the first audition. I found out that we grew up in the same area, about 20 minutes apart, same theatres at different times, she’s my home girl. I have been in so many shows, but it’s really great to be a part of her first experience.” ‘Captain Andy’ stands at the pinnacle of this show, and although his name is on top, like Jeter and many great Captains, he takes no credit for a solo performance and applauds the team effort. He praised the director Alex Timbers, Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, Thomas Meehan and of course the Original Rocky, Sylvester Stallone. “There’s no bad apples here, we’ve all worked together to make something really good. The crew is back there kicking butt and working so hard to make sure that everything is great. We’ve kept the integrity of this story, but we’re not taking this lightly. We’re proud. I am Proud.” Karl is well on his way to making ROCKY worth every penny, but when asked if he’d be up for a ROCKY the Musical 2, he said “Only if it’s based off of ‘ROCKY 4’ and I get to comeback and run up the Siberian Mountains on stage and scream ‘DRAGO’ when I reach the top.” GAME CHANGER 21 dog days 22 GAME CHANGER y l l a n i f ” d n e i r “Man’s best f n a d n e p s o t gets t he invite k r a p l l a b e h t t evening a Photos by USA Hockey/Gregg Forwerck GAME CHANGER 23 24 GAME CHANGER philadelphia wings Pet adoption takes center field at the Lacrosse game I’ll admit that the draw of going to the Philadelphia Wings lacrosse game was the knowledge that there would be puppies there. I’ve always been a sports fan, but I’d never been to a professional lacrosse game before. The man at the box office even thought it was strange that I requested a ticket up in the top part of the arena where the dogs would be. But up there I went and I had every expectation met. I made friends with folks and their canine companions from all over Philly, shared a hot dog with a black labrador (shared is a loose term in that he stole the hot dog from me), and a pit bull fell asleep on my foot. But what I didn’t foresee happening was that I became a lacrosse fan while I was there. I know the game of hockey, I grew up in Dallas when the Stars won the Cup, but this was an entirely different way of looking at a game I thought I knew. In some ways, this game was even more intense because the players didn’t have nearly the padded protection hockey players are afforded. The game was quick paced, high scoring and exciting from the first moments to the last. Some of the fans seated around me were die-hard, jersey-wearing Wings fans. But some were just people who found out they could bring their Great Dane with them on $1 hot dog night. The fact that this event has grown to include nearly 400 seats for dogs and their owners is incredible and I wish more teams took advantage of the fun. Had I not been from out of town, I would have adopted one of the dogs that were available. But I became a fan of the game that night, and I got to share it with an entire slew of new canine friends who stole my heart as well as my $1 hot dog. -by Ryan Brinson GAME CHANGER 25 pittsburgh pirates up Night How many dogs turned out at your first event? Probably 150. It was successful from the beginning. This year how many Pup nights will you offer? What is the expected turnout? Why Pup night? We will offer 9 dates. The It started with a corporate partner that was looking space we have works for venues in the area to participate for a pet- friendly perfect for the event, but initiative. There were a few other MLB teams doing is limited in capacity. We similar promotions so we decided to try it. have 200 seats & can sell about 75 standing room Why is Pup night important to the fans? tickets. On most nights As a dog owner, it is always hard to leave the dogs at we will have over 250 home, especially if you may have had to leave them at people and 150 dogs. home all day while you were at work. It is nice to be able to do something fun while including the dogs. What activities are at the park for the pups/ P 26 GAME CHANGER owners on those nights? We usually have photo opportunities, raffle items and our partners will run contests like most talented, best dressed, and owner/pup look-alike. that gets the area set up for us. In terms of the players, have they expressed their feelings towards pup night? The area we use for the event is so secluded that What does a fan need to do to bring their pup? players on the field (or other fans) probably don’t We ask for guests to bring proof of vaccination and notice the dogs during the game. The players’ wives, clean up bags for when they are outside the ballpark. however, have gotten involved with the event to help We hire an outside company to set up a relief area of support the local animal shelters. wood chips and to clean up after the dogs. Also, dogs must be leashed. Which shelters receive the donations or how do you choose where to place the funds? How many extra employees/volunteers are The Western PA Humane Society and Animal Friends. required for pup nights? They have both been helpful to us from day one with We have volunteers from local animal shelters that promoting the event. offer pup-sitting. The area is mainly just staffed with the typical day of game staff (ushers, greeters, etc.) How do you plan to enhance the ‘Pup Experience’ We have some staff that love to work pup-nights and this year? have become fixtures at the event over the years. We plan to offer great customer service during and Aside from that we have the clean-up company, 5-6 leading up to the event. We also plan to have a great volunteers, and usually me and an intern. We also season on the field, which will make PNC Park the have support from the special events department place to be! GAME CHANGER 27 the gc MVP 28 GAME CHANGER athletes for animals NHL superstar and Olympian David Backes teams up with athletes internationally to score one for “man’s best friend.” GAME CHANGER 29 How did you get your start? During the 2012 lockout, my wife and I had extra time. After years of dealing with pet rescue organizations, she and I tried to figure out how to make an impact. How do you find athletes to partner with? We just launched in November and it’s been What was the process like for getting them home? contagious. It started with a guy on the team, then It was quite the process. The language barrier made when people get traded and word gets out, it it hard to complete and there were lots of hoops. If the awareness of it spreads to other teams. dogs were too young, we could agree to quarantine them as soon as they got to the US. I think the How do you juggle career and running a nonbeautiful thing was that flying them as cargo wasn’t profit? an option. The plane didn’t have heated cargo bins so My wife does the lion’s share of the work and I assist we were able to twist enough arms to bring them on when I can. It’s grown our relationship as well as the as carry-on luggage. non-profit. What happens here in the US? We cover all of the overhead expenses. Public donation goes to the animals and organizations helping the animals. We find them through non profits and try to pair athletes with local organizations in their area. You received a BarkBox lifetime supply for the Sochi strays? On their own will. We’re already BarkBox subscribers and they volunteered. A lot of people stepped up to offer free vet care and we’ve had to channel those people to hopefully take those things they were offering us to help their local shelters. The cost of adoption is high. Do you do anything to help that? A big part of what we’re doing is trying to educate the public on the animal side of the world. Getting them adopted, through a vet check, spayed, neutered, and a microchip inserted isn’t cheap. $100-$200 is reasonable and common. Organizations rarely cover all the expenses they have. What are your goals for this year? We are five months in and it’s been a learning process. We have goals for the year and we’re establishing ourselves among athletes in so many sports. The growth has been fantastic and we want to keep the upwards trajectory. We feel we can amplify awareness with athletes. What were the living conditions of dogs in Sochi? There’s a full spectrum of dogs. The majority were just normal puppies looking for their next meal. They were very cordial and non-aggressive. A few have mange and few you could tell were mistreated by humans, but most just happened to be domesticated animals that were running at large. 30 GAME CHANGER How can we help? Make a donation on our website. We push people to do the same things our athletes are doing: volunteer, spread the word, give donations, be aware of the situation and be educated on how you can help these animals. www.athletesforanimals.org Off the ice, A4A founder David Backes of team USA and Alex Pietrangelo of team Canada partner to help Sochi Jack and Sochi Junior find a forever home. GAME CHANGER 31 Quiet Please. Thank You. They seemed to have quieted down. For the moment, anyhow. Those opinionated writers and commentators who are commissioned to predict the future and break the news before it happens have temporarily been silenced. When he began to appear a step slower they started to write his obituary. When he left the lawns of Wimbledon after only winning one match they started building his coffin. When he lost his top ranking and dropped to world number 8 they started composing his swan song. But Roger Federer seems to be on the mend. And for the time being, the experts and pundits have put their declarations on hold and this time are letting Roger Federer do all of the talking. It could very well prove to be a wise decision. While the last final chapters have probably indeed been written, they certainly are going to need some editing and script approval. And after all, we have seen this scenario play out before. In 2012, the talk of Roger Federerâ€™s demise had already begun. By the time Wimbledon came along, it had been slightly over two years since Federer had won a major title. He was racking up more losses than wins against top ten opponents and his ranking had dipped. Furthermore, he had 32 GAME CHANGER By: Scott Brocious entered the tournament as a contender and not the perennial favorite. No one doubted that another major win was possible, but instead many thought a return to the number one ranking would be impossible. But when the Championships Wimbledon ended its two week tournament, it was Roger Federer who was the last man standing. A record 17th grand slam title, a record tying 7th Wimbledon trophy, and a record return to the number one ranking to become the player with the most weeks in the top spot. And with that, Roger Federer was back in the conversation. The first time I heard the name Roger Federer was in 2001. Defending champion Pete Sampras would play the rumored young Swiss prodigy in the fourth round. After five sets of tennis on center court, the seven time champion was sent home by the kid who would eventually win seven of his own. In two years’ time, Federer would hoist his own first major trophy at Wimbledon. I started becoming infatuated. By the end of the following year, he won three out of the four majors (a feat he would accomplish in 2006 and 2007 as well), and became the undisputed number one tennis player for what would be 237 straight weeks, and 302 weeks to date. I loved the way he moved on the court. It was sheer artistry watching his footwork, his preparation for each shot. He was dancer on that court. His serve, while not as fast as some of the others, had seemingly more direction, more intent. His forehand was pure precision. He had soft hands at the net, and a solid game plan from the baseline. Even his weakest shot, his one handed backhand, would prove successful, drawing his opponent towards the net with a low backhand slice, only to pass them with a forehand on the next shot. The sum of Roger Federer was a complete package. And it was his versatility that allowed him to come up with the answers when challenged. His game face was the same whether he was a set down or at match point. And he didn’t sweat. I was amazed. Three strokes in, the opponent looked like they could use a quick shower, while Federer did not even look like he had started playing yet. Ease. He did everything with ease. There was an elegance about him, a new breed of class, tennis royalty. You liked him. I liked him. Usually the trend is to root for the underdog, but you never rooted against him. Personally, I cheered him on. How far could he go? You just knew you were in the midst of something great, something historic. At the end of 2012, Roger Federer was still riding high. Reigning Wimbledon champion, world number two. Not the heyday of 2006 mind you, but he was still more than relevant to the sport. However, 2013 would be a different story. Hampered by a back injury that he kept relatively quiet about, he had more off days than not. Supported by one mere title in 2013, the season brought to a close a few streaks. An early exit out of Wimbledon and a drop out of the rankings, out of the top five, a place he hadn’t been to since 2003. People whispered, experts offered their take, critics made their predictions. It wasn’t going to get better, it was going to get worse, and it didn’t seem like it would take too long. It was hard to argue against. Even though Federer admitted he didn’t necessarily like his results, he assured us his best tennis was ahead of him, and to make no mistake about his drive and passion for playing. I don’t believe anyone doubted the drive, but it was hard to mask the disappointment. Past champions like Sampras believed Federer could win another major, while others like John McEnroe believed that would be difficult to accomplish. How long would Roger Federer allow himself to go on? History would not be on his side either. All careers end. All champions, all great champions finally make their exit. So too, would Roger Federer. But now the air has shifted. Slightly. Something has changed, and everyone is watching. Intently, both with a little confusion and much hope. 2014 started with Federer making another run to the semi-finals at the Australian Open, with flashes of brilliance. He is now injury free, he hired Stefan Edberg to coach him, and made a racket change. He is moving better, more freely, and his serve is back. He won Dubai, beating Djokovic along the way. He was the finalist at Indian Wells, falling to Djokovic in a highly fought three set match. After Miami, he’s back to world number 4, and without many points to defend seems poised to stay there throughout the road to RolandGarros. The chatter seems positive, unlike last year, but also cautious. Is he toying with us? Could he go deep enough to position himself for an 18th major championship? Wimbledon is approaching, and many of us will be at the edge of our seats. If I were to write the Roger Federer story, I would be hard pressed for an ending. Part of me would love to see him lift a trophy, one last time, and then call it a day leaving the sport on a high. The other part of me would love to watch him play on and on, not to rush the eventual retirement, and consider it a treat every time he graced the court. He is going on 33, his third child is on their way, and time will move quickly enough. Seems selfish for those who do not have Roger Federer’s resume to advise him when to leave the sport. He has built this brilliant career, my thought is that Roger Federer will know when to leave it. I think he’s earned that right. Until then, maybe one more, maybe a couple more, maybe no more. Either way, I will enjoy it. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to watch. And I just had a feeling this match was going to a fifth set. GAME CHANGER 33 34 GAME CHANGER GAME CHANGER 35 LA KISS GENE SIMMONS AND PAUL STANLEY HAVE CONQUERED THE WORLD OF ROCK AND ROLL. NOW, THEY’RE BRINGING THAT SAME ROCK FEELING INTO THE INDOOR FOOTBALL ARENA. THIS ISN’T JUST FOOTBALL. IT’S AN ALL OUT EXPERIENCE. 36 GAME CHANGER When somebody says sports entertainment, we think of the Super Bowl with bands that come on and perform during halftime, then roll off and the game begins again. Starting April 5, there will be a new definition of sports entertainment that will change the game, forever. If you don’t believe us, just wait until AMC starts airing the reality show, you’ll see what we mean. For the first time in years, Los Angeles residents will be getting to see some pigskin action in their hometown, this time at the Honda Center. Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of the famed band KISS have joined forces and created the AFL’s newest franchise team ‘LA KISS.’ The team will be on the cutting edge of football, bringing the greatest minds of the sports and entertainment industries together to create a new experience in family entertainment. Schuyler Hoversten, Brett Bouchy, Doc McGhee and Harlan Hendrickson are rounding out the executive team. Their experience comes from years in the music industry and Hoversten was most recently an Executive for the Los Angeles Dodgers. ‘Turn it up, got me hypnotized.’ Is what will be going through the crowd at these events. Yes, events. To say this is just another football game is horribly incorrect. For starters, fans will enter the first ever football arena with a SILVER field. Green fields are boring and there’s definitely no room for snooze at a KISS game! Fans will be entertained through the evening by the KISS girls who will be in cages rocking out and keeping it sexy. The most famous chant in sports is the ‘CHARGE’ cheer, in lieu of an organist or ‘cost-effective’ sound effect, fans will be led into the cheer by Nita Strauss of the Iron Maidens. Known for her insane talents on the guitar, she’ll be on hand at the games to shred for fans. What else would you expect? The uniforms for KISS are designed by Paul Stanley himself. Cheerleaders and dancers will be decked out in some kick-ass leather uniforms. A little black leather shredded skirt and top, complete with the kiss logo, a little eyeliner and a lot of leg will be sure to set the house on fire. Speaking of fire, the team’s GAME CHANGER 37 uniforms are seriously, the most insanely intense and intimidating threads in sports. Flames, flames, flames and a little bit of chrome, and in case you wanted to stare into your opponent’s eyes, too bad. The helmets are decked out with a silver-flamed visor that is sure to make the competition a little unsteady. Now for the entertainment, this crew is nothing short of creative when they’ve been searching for acts. They have searched high and low to find entertainment for the entire family. They’ll have aerialists hanging from the ceiling, bike stunts on the field and of course, live music. For, what could be the first time in sports history, LA KISS will feature a (hold your breath) CO-ED Dance Squad. Yes, both males and females will storm the field 38 GAME CHANGER to deliver some of the hottest hip-hop and break moves to keep you entertained during breaks. Let’s be honest, the girls are great but if you wanna come back and watch the game, we gotta give the ladies something to look forward to as well. The music? Naturally KISS will be performing at some point in the season and Season Ticket holders will be able to attend the concert after one of the home games. To open the season on April 5, the hottest heavy metal band since the end of the era in the 90’s will take the stage at half-time. STEEL PANTHER, who just released their latest album will, without a doubt, tear the roof off of the Honda Center. The plan for LA KISS is to make sure that everyone, even grandma, leaves that building with something they love. So maybe grandma won’t be a fan of the loud fireworks, or the scantily clad dancers (well maybe she will), but she’ll definite love the prices. The executive team has made it a point to have affordable seating for the fans. You can get your season tickets for as little as $99 per person, or $10 a game. That’s right, professional football for LESS than it costs to see the newest MARVEL blockbuster. The best part is that Simmons, as we know, is a family man and they have made sure that those seats are great seats. We all know how many times we buy tickets we can afford, the players are so far away they look like ants, and we have to budget out our rent checks to figure out if we can even afford beer or hot dogs. With LA KISS’ family friendly pricing, fans can have premium seats and don’t have to eat Ramen until payday. The image of the AFL will change quite drastically once they have their first home game. LA KISS hopes to not only affect their immediate market in Orange County, but the entire AFL. This team is the Game Changer for professional sports and sports entertainment. LA KISS is poised to go down in history as the team that changed the way we look at sports and brought us back to the arena. They’ve started their season at 1-1, their first game at home will be April 5 and will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network. For KISS and sports fans, this is one event not to be missed. WWW.LAKISSFOOTBALL.COM GAME CHANGER 39 play ball l JENN WELTER IS REDEFINING WHAT IT MEANS TO 40 GAME CHANGER like a girl GAME CHANGER 41 Jen Welter grew up in Florida where, like in Texas where she is now, football is akin to a religion. Having always loved the game, she didn’t have the opportunity to play it until after college. After playing rugby during all four years at Boston College, she began playing flag football. When women’s pro tackle football was starting, the manager of the league called her Flag Football league and asked if there were any girls who could play tackle. The manager of the flag league gave them her name and she’s been playing ever since. What is your fitness regimen to stay game ready? At this point in my career, there really is no day off. You have to constantly work to get better at the football part. I played linebacker for 13 years, so playing running back is brand new to me. For 13 years, I had to put a lot of work in because I am under-sized. I was so small on the 2010 US Nationals team that they called me ‘kid’ because I looked like a little kid running around with all the adults. It’s not really that different for me to be so tiny in the men’s game because I was tiny in the women’s game. In order to compensate for that, I’ve been designing my bootcamp workouts that are based in the fundamentals of football. Like ladders, over-unders and changing directions. This way, when I was teaching the class for everyone else, I was also doing what I needed to be better at football. 42 GAME CHANGER You take some serious hits during the game. They were keying in on me so hard, and to be honest, as a defender, I would have keyed in on me too. I would have plastered me into next week. So it doesn’t surprise me that I came at me hard. I would hope that any defender would key on me and that is what opened up a fake to be a touchdown. That’s the beautiful thing about football, it’s not about me scoring a touchdown. It’s about us winning a game and if me being in there allows the opportunity for one of my teammates to score, then we’ve done a great job. How do you take to being called “The Woman Player?” You know, I’m honored to be “the female running back.” I can’t express to you enough how awesome the guys on my team have been. Maybe if they were less proud, then I would have a problem with it. When I have guys like Clinton Solomon who’s one of the best receivers in the IFL, and an outstanding guy, pulling me aside to meet his mom, those are things that mean a lot because it means a lot to women. If I can inspire little girls and women by stepping on the field with the boys, then I couldn’t be more honored to do so. Now in terms of the locker room and being one of the guys, they treat me like one of the guys. Being one of the guys is respecting me as a teammate giving me licks in practice so I’ll be ready. I have to work like the boys but they’re still proud to have a girl and the guys have really taken ownership of having me on their team. They’re proud to have me and I’m really proud to be the girl. Why do you push the spotlight onto your teammates? They’re my teammates and nothing happens without them. I keep telling the PR that I want someone with me at all times. They had me doing a puck drop at a hockey game and I would only do it if I had a guy to go with me. It’s a team sport, and it’s not about me. I look at this as an opportunity that I’ve been blessed to have and it’s not a blessing if I’m not sharing it with everybody on this team. You have your doctorate degree. You’re Dr. Jen! When I first started playing football, I was in the business world and they didn’t like that I was playing football. I figured out quickly there was something special that I had in terms of mentality that made me a good teammate and a good athlete. I really wanted to understand that. I started pursuing my education when I was playing football and to me, I see it as the marriage between the theoretical and the practical. I have the theory to back up what I’ve been doing on the field. For little girls, I want them to understand that when I was in high school, I was on the math team, I was in the top of my class, I was captain of the soccer team and on the homecoming court. But it felt like people were always trying to get to be either smart, an athlete or be pretty. You couldn’t be all of those things. I think I’m in a position now and I’ve been blessed with an opportunity to show little girls that they can be all of those things, that it doesn’t have to be an either/or. If me having a PhD and being a football player shows that, then I think it’s great. GAME CHANGER 43 What are the fans like? It’s amazing. Little girls and female football players all over the world look at this as a source of positive inspiration. What’s magical is these little girls running up to me after the game. I didn’t have to be the leading rusher or have the best stats for that game, and let’s be honest I’m probably not going to be, but just me getting in the game was an inspiration for them. So when they want my autograph and pictures, it’s just the best feeling in the world. What keeps you in the men’s league? That’s a hard thing. Some of my best friends in the world are getting ready to play for the Houston Energy. They are my family and I miss it and I miss them, but they know and I also know that I have been able to shine light on women in football more by playing with the guys right now then playing with the girls. I have to see where this whole opportunity plays out. I would never leave the Texas Revs, they’re my family now too. They took as risk bringing me in and I’m grateful. I also have my women’s league family, so I’m a team player. It doesn’t matter where I am, I will 44 GAME CHANGER be a team player wherever I am. What’s the state of women’s football now? The development of women’s football has been outstanding. We have some of the best athletes in the world. I just got a letter from a girl in Brazil yesterday and she said they’re starting their own women’s football league. I get letters from all over the world about how I’m an inspiration. I would not have been prepared to take these hits from the guys if I weren’t taking and delivering hits from the women for 13 years. It is a fun, high-caliber game. You played on the US women’s national team and won the World Championships. Here’s the biggest thing, Team Sweden had the best attitude about it. When the US went over there, I mean we smashed them. It was like the Dream Team in basketball. Especially in 2010. But the teams got so much better between 2010 and 2013. There were six teams and the middle 4 competed so well against each other. The bottom got lost and we were standouts on top, but those 4 in the middle were solid competition. Women’s football and football in I will say, when I was on Arsenio Hall, I had 10 general are headed to be Olympic sports. Meaning minutes at my house. I was on my way to practice that the IFL could put a bid in as early as 2017 and you then Arsenio called. I had the same black pants on that could see American football in 2024. That’s exciting! I was wearing to practice and I threw on boots and a tank top. My hat was thrown on like that because I In the future, would you ever coach? kinda had a black eye from the game so I wanted to I would be honored to be a part of this sport in cover it up on TV. I only know how to be me. I actually anyway. Of course I will always have that itch to play, had to wear a dress for another show but I still kicked but I’ve talked to some coaches who have transitioned off the heels because it’s just not me. from players and it’s always hard because they want to play. It doesn’t matter if I’m a coach, or analyst or We kinda think you’re awesome. player, I know I’ll be happy because I just love the I don’t know how to be anybody but me. I want game of football. people to understand that just because you have an education, doesn’t mean you have to be in a lab You gained a certain amount of notoriety. coat. I’m still the same person I’ve always been. Just Once this stuff started to happen, I knew I would because i was getting my PhD doesn’t mean I wasn’t end up somewhere on TV. I always hoped that it still the crazy fun person that would get out there wouldn’t be this, me playing with guys. I had hoped and play sports with the boys. As I like to say, I like that the media would have picked up the great stuff my brand of crazy. It’s what makes me, me. If more we were doing in the women’s’ league - like winning people would embrace who they are, we would be a two gold medals - but it obviously took me playing lot better off. I always like to say that I’d rather the the with the boys to bring the attention back to women brightest crayon out of the box - I don’t want to be in playing football. a box. GAME CHANGER 45 46 GAME CHANGER LUV Y BUM HOW DID THE STORY OF BUM PHILLIPS, A FOOTBALL COACH, BECOME AN OPERA? WE GET THE PLAY-BY-PLAY. GAME CHANGER 47 PHOTOS BY COREY TORPIE L uke Leonard, Peter Stopschinski and Kirk Lynn are no strangers to the stage. They are accomplished artists (Stopschinski even helped compose strings on a Grammy-nominated album) who have joined forces to bring to life a one-ofa-kind opera experience. Bum Phillips All-American Opera premiered at LA MAMA in New York City in March and has set a new standard for the future of the art form. The creators of Bum Phillips found the material an easy fit for the theatrical stage and a perfect way to introduce football and Texas to the opera world. “There’s a particular influence that sports and coaches had on me as a director,” Leonard states. “I was looking for coaches as a theme for my next piece. I came across Bum’s biography ‘Coach, Cowboy, Christian’ and I got the warmest smile on my face.” Translating Bum’s story to the stage was something that all three shared an interest in. It was a realization of the American dream that modern day Americans can relate to. A small town man, coaching high school football following a dream to the major leagues, with bumps along the way he becomes the beating heart of a group of people looking for something to believe in, the way he believed in God. “Bum is open and said what he wanted. We didn’t want to make him a weirdo in the world. We spent a lot of time making sure that the opera had ‘Bum’s voice,’” Lynn remembers. “We were nervous about what to represent tastefully, Bum had a complicated life. We needed to be tender and treat it with respect, Bum was a great human being and we wanted his voice to come through in this piece.” His voice was something that is easy to see, the ‘Bumisms” are ever present through the piece including his famous quote, “There’s two kinds of coaches, them that’s fired and them that’s gonna be fired.” The other characters in the opera have been granted the ability to sing these lines, allowing Bum’s vernacular to become an important piece of the story about a man that was greater than the sum of his parts. “Is football appropriate for opera?” Stopchinski asks himself. “The emotional content of football is 48 GAME CHANGER something that’s very close to opera. The people who love it take it very seriously, there’s a heightened emotion, the Super Bowl, the pageantry, there’s similarities between the two and it allows for a [pretty much] seamless fit.” Lynn adds, “Sports and opera are a great fit, sports contain metaphors of things we struggle with in life and death. Also, like live arts, when at sporting events, we go through a myriad of emotions publicly with each other.” One of the conventions of the show was to recreate the pivotal games in Bum’s career. As the actor’s couldn’t physically play a football game on stage, Leonard came up with conventions that not only were entertaining but gave us the overriding theme of each game. “I wanted to create variations on the theme of each game to keep it interesting. So we have the image of the TOPPS cards with each man standing in a frame. We can see what position they play and get an idea of what they are doing on the field. The other game was more of a passing game, singing about interceptions and so I thought why not have footballs floating through an airspace. I get inspired by painters,” Leonard stated. “I focus on the art and theatricality. Art is artifact and the more artificial the better. We break down the 4th wall. We know the show is an illusion of life, but we choose to have Bum sing to the audience. Those moments where he steps out and makes a connection by directly singing to you allows us to show who Bum was. Bum was an honest and open person that would open his door for anyone.” In the audience, Fans dressed in Oiler’s jerseys and Texas folk who grew up in Bum’s era still chant ‘Luv Ya Blue’ at the start of the show. Dan Pastorini and Wade Bum Phillips (Bum’s son) were both overcome with emotion when the curtain fell. This man meant so much to so many people and even though opera purists may not agree with how the art form is transformed, there’s no denying that the team with Stopchinski’s beautiful ‘Copeland-esque’ music hits it right between the uprights. Leonard says it best, “They can say it’s not opera, but they can’t say it’s not good.” GAME CHANGER 49 ONE OF THE TALENTED ACTORS FROM BUM PHILLIPS, JOHN SMILEY, TAKES ON SOME OF OUR QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SHOW AND HOW SPORTS AND OPERA HAVE MORE SIMILARITIES THAN YOU’D EXPECT. man. But just watching those players at the end of the show with their tears, you can tell that this man was really something special. How do you build your character? For me, I played Bud Adams, you can have all As an actor, what do you aspire to achieve in your of the information on these people and that can career? inform your work. The next step is an individualized I want to do work that forces the audience to tackle experimentation because this is such a stylized avantthe subject matter instead of just sitting there and garde piece. taking it in. That’s kind of what we’re doing with this piece, it’s very Brechtian in a way, where we break What’s the difference between sports and opera? down that wall. It’s important to take what you see You think of a stadium, it’s so electric, it’s electrified. and chew on it for awhile, art is not passive, art is an This piece is high-octane, it has to have drive and active thing. push, which is reflected in sporting events. I’m a team-based person, and I love the team. There are What is opera? people who have bigger parts, but we won’t win I think we have a preconceived idea of what opera unless everyone does their part. is, we believe it has to be all sung and I don’t know if that’s in granite. Opera tends to be pre-determined, What about the similarities between athletes and like Carmen or La Boheme, there’s an expectation to actors? see someone stand and sing. What is opera? Opera, You have to go at it hard. When I come off the to me, is epic. Bum Phillips is epic, there’s a Forrest stage, I’m tired. My voice is tired and my body is tired. Gump-like extraordinary man coming to life makes it Especially with this show, it’s so important to give it all Opera. you’ve got. Athletes have to be in every second, every play, every moment. We’re in the same position as Who is Bum Phillips? actors, if you just phone it in, you won’t get the final I read the book before I did the play, he was a great result you desire. 50 GAME CHANGER Join us as we celebrate the advances that have been made for LGBT athletes in sports this year and support our efforts in creating safe school and sports teams for all students in K-12 schools as we continue to Change the Game. Guest of Honor: Gary Shackleford Editor-In-Chief and Owner of Game Changer Magazine SATURDAY, MAY 3, 2014 at 7:00 PM Gary Shackleford Editor-In-Chief CARNEGIE MUSEUM OF ART CARNEGIE CAFE 4400 Forbes Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15213 MUSIC | KEY NOTE SPEAKER | DINNER | COCKTAILS DINNER SERVED AT 7:30 PM INDIVIDUAL TICKETS $125 COCKTAIL ATTIRE FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT VANESSA DAVIS 412.254.4573 OR email@example.com WWW.GLSENPGH.ORG GAME CHANGER 51 MAKING THEIR MARK 52 GAME CHANGER From last yearâ€™s Kentucky Derby winner Joel Rosario to newcomer Jose Ortiz, 2014 is shaping up to be one of the hottest contended Jockey seasons in years, and that includes a female rider who is poised to make her mark in history in only her apprentice year. GAME CHANGER 53 joel rosario Joel Rosario was the man to beat last year in the races. He not only took home the crown in the Kentucky Derby on top of Orb, but he also won in Dubai. The Dubai World Cup is the richest horse race in the world with the winner taking home $10 million USD. For Rosario, sweeping the two largest races in the horse racing world still isn’t enough. “It doesn’t matter that I’ve already won the Kentucky Derby once, I want to win it five more times. It’s the best race in the world and the feeling you get when you win is better than anything you can imagine.” As successfully as Rosario has been riding, with the right horse, he’s quite likely the man to go back-to-back with Derby Wins. 54 GAME CHANGER javier castellano Born in Venezuela, Javier Castellano is on a mission to become the top jockey in Horse Racing. He’s been around the circuit for years, and last year finally garnered the top award of Jockey of the Year. He had the highest earning total of any jockey history last year. He doesn’t have “Kentucky Derby Winner” by his name, but that doesn’t seem to bother him. “For me, it would be great to win the Kentucky Derby, but that’s just one race. I was the best jockey last year and that means that I did well in many races. That to me is more important than just one victory,” Castellano said. Most recently he won the Florida Derby on top of Constitution and will likely see his efforts pay off in a Derby ride. GAME CHANGER 55 jose & irad ortiz Jose Ortiz and Irad Ortiz, Jr. are the new family dynasty that has come to be in the New York Racing Association. Family life is left off the track though. When these brothers get on their horses, it’s every man for himself. Both brothers came from the Escuela Vocacional Hípica, a school for prospective jockeys in Puerto Rico. Having both their grandfather and uncle to follow, the brothers live together in New York and live, eat and sleep racing. The dedication these two have is something we all could take a lesson from. “You have to always watch the race and see what you can do better.” Irad says, “Maybe you push too soon, or get caught on the inside. Everything you 56 GAME CHANGER Photo by Adam Mooshian can fix makes you a better rider.” Jose echoes that sentiment. “I go running sometimes, but I just try to ride horses as much as I can. You have to be in shape to be able to ride well.” Jose is poised to make his mark this year and catapult himself to the top of the list as he’s on Samraat, the undefeated Derby favorite going into the Wood Memorial April 5. If Jose can push Samraat across the line at the Wood Memorial, he’ll be merely strides away from what could be the first of many Derby victories for the Oritz brothers and the family legacy. GAME CHANGER 57 taylor Taylor Rice grew up racing horses. Her father and brothers were involved in the sport and her Aunt is a well-known trainer in the industry as well, but it wasn’t until a year ago that Taylor began pursuing a career in racing. Luckily for the fans at Aqueduct Racetrack, she has catapulted herself into the top 5 jockeys in the New York Racing Association as an apprentice. “I had been getting back into riding after college, breaking babies and getting horses their workouts in the morning. I remembered how to ride, but it had been so long that I needed to get my muscles back in shape for the track.” Rice is one of the few females on the track, and in the Aqueduct jockey room, she’s the lone soldier. “For me, I’ve been the tomboy my whole life. I’ve been a part of the boys, between my dad and my brothers, and honestly most of my life I played with the boys because the girls teams weren’t as competitive. This to me is just another sport. I put on my helmet and I’m just another jockey out there 58 GAME CHANGER rice on the track. I don’t want to be treated like ‘the girl.’ I want to be respected as a jockey like everyone else. This is the first sport where we’re all the same size. You know, I’ve played sports and I’ve been the smaller one, even in female sports I was the small one, but here we’re all the same size.” Rice is modest rider, she understands her place in the industry and only hopes that somebody appreciates her talent and likes the way she handles a horse. Catching someone’s eye and building relationships is key in the industry and with Rice’s record, it seems like she’s well on her way to making someone pick up the phone. There’s a finesse to racing and for Rice, she has the fundamentals behind the sport, but feels she could use some work on the style. “The hardest part, for me, is finishing the race because there are so many guys who have such a style and they have such a strong finish. I’m still working on my style and my strength when I watch my replays. You know, when I start really riding hard and worry about winning, I lose my style points. It’s great that I won, but I want to be able to win and look good doing it too. I’m always trying to get better, you’re always learning and always trying to get better but there’s never a time when you’re not learning.” When we look at horse racing, we have to remember that they’re still animals, with minds. They have thoughts, they have feelings and just like people some days, they just don’t want to get out of bed. “They’re unpredictable. You have some horses who love to race, you have some that are made to race and you just never know. If it’s his first time going long, I’m probably not comfortable going down the back stretch hard because we have a lot of track to cover. There are days where you can pull all you want but he just may not listen. Personalities have everything to do with it, I’ve actually ridden horses that only like girl riders, and I don’t necessarily want to be put in that category. So when it’s not me they have to find a guy that rides and little less aggressive and more like a girl.” Riding like a ‘girl’ isn’t necessarily a bad thing. One thing Taylor Rice is known for is her ability to be patient with the animal. At Aqueduct, you hear talk about how she listens to the animal and will make her move when necessary. “It was something my dad and brothers have worked on with me over the years. I didn’t realize I’ve been doing it all these years and that it would pay off the way it does, but it’s been a blessing on my side. Monday, in the 9th race, I fell really far back and I didn’t want to. Speed had been holding on, I was trying to get him [the horse] going and he just wasn’t comfortable going much faster. I could see the other horses getting away and I couldn’t’ get him to go any faster. That’s where the patience comes in. I said, ‘Okay, fine. We can sit back here and wait it out now but halfway down the backside we had to get going.’ So I got him to go my pace down the back and I saw the other horses slowing down. We ended up winning. It’s all about making horses happy. My dad pounded it into me: horses are different like people are different. You have to keep them happy cause if they’re happy, they’ll do more for you.” Every jockey looks forward to the Kentucky Derby but Rice finds importance in every race she participates in. “You know, they put so much emphasis on the derby and that’s everyone’s goal. For me, you have so many more wins and so many more people you rode for. Those wins are important to those people, just like the Derby is important to jockeys. I just like riding horses. Winning is a bonus.” GAME CHANGER 59 60 GAME CHANGER One of these images is a photograph and one is a drawing. Can’t tell? That’s the extraordinary talent of artist Adam Port. adam port GAME CHANGER 61 When did you realize you had a knack for art? Iâ€™ve been drawing for as long as I can remember, probably as soon as I could hold a pencil. But it wasnâ€™t until I was around 13 or 14 that I started to really develop an interest in art. I enjoyed taking art classes in school and found myself spending time at home drawing and painting. I watched other artists paint and realized that I had the ability to pick up their techniques very quickly. Of course I was just beginning to learn my craft, but I felt comfortable drawing and painting and I knew I enjoyed it immensely. Did you play sports growing up? Yes, my parents realized early on that I had good coordination and a ton of energy, so they signed me up for sports at a young age. I played soccer and baseball at first and then picked up basketball. After playing organized sports for a few years at school and in weekend travel leagues, I developed a competitive drive to become a serious athlete. Ultimately, I 62 GAME CHANGER contemplated playing sports in college but chose to focus on art and selected Syracuse Universityâ€™s College of Visual and Performing Arts. What led you to creating art in this medium? I experimented with a lot of different mediums and techniques right away. I started off using acrylic paint mainly because it was non-toxic and dried very fast. I then saw a few people using an airbrush and I was very impressed with the realism they were achieving, so of course I had to try it. My parents bought me an airbrush and it immediately felt comfortable. I spent most of my high school and college career using acrylic paints with an airbrush. As I advanced through the years, I still felt there was something missing. My work looked incomplete. So, I started to research other artists at the library and online and I found that there were a few illustrators using colored pencil along with acrylic paint. It was the missing link for me and opened up a whole new world. I picked up a few Prismacolor colored pencils and I used them Bryant was on the rise, about to win his first of five on my next project: a portrait of Patrick Ewing. championships with the Lakers, so I swapped out the Ewing for Kobe. Thankfully, I was a big Kobe Bryant fan When did you begin drawing athletes? and I already had created one for a college project. It As soon as I started drawing portraits. Being also happened to be the second painting I completed infatuated with sports, I had amassed quite the incorporating colored pencils into my process. collection of Sports Illustrated magazines. I spent hours flipping through the pages and pulling images How long does each piece take? of my favorite athletes. Depends on the size of the painting as well as the complexity. On average I would say around 100 hours. What was the first major piece you did, how did it come to be? I am personally in awe of the Allen Iverson piece, it While I was in college, I was fortunate enough to looks like a beautiful Photoshop job not art. How secure a licensing agreement with the NBA. My do you accurately create the glares/reflections in first project was to create 3 original paintings to be the wording? Can you describe creating this piece? displayed at the NBA store in Manhattan. The first To date, this is still one of my favorite pieces. The portrait was of New York Knicks star Patrick Ewing. concept was to have a â€œmovie posterâ€? look to it. I Unfortunately, by the time I was ready to send my always thought of Allen Iverson as an against-all-odds work to the NBA Store, Ewing had been traded to the type of player. A teenager who was a standout high Seattle Supersonics. At the same time, a young Kobe school football and basketball player who led both of GAME CHANGER 63 his teams to state championships. Then, getting into an altercation with some friends and serving time in jail, but still able to persevere and make it to the NBA as a 6 foot, 165 pound kid who became one of the greatest point guards in history. And he averaged over 26 points per game. A story for the movies… So to create the mock-up movie poster I tried to pick a striking portrait shot of Allen along with an action shot of him driving to the basket. After I had picked out about a dozen images from the NBA’s archive I created a few loose sketches on paper and then went straight to Photoshop. I played around with the photos and numerous fonts for his name and title. I added an additional portrait shot and I settled on a composition that was a combination of using an implied triangle shape to position the heads or focal points as well as using various sizes of elements to create balance. All in all, I probably went through about 10 different versions before I was satisfied with the composition. At that point in time, the comp was completely black and white. I wanted the central figure to pop, so I changed it to color and the whole image came to life. When looking for the right image of an athlete, how do you pick your inspiration? Sometimes I’m looking for an image that is the right shape to fit into a particular space. Other times I’m looking for a shot that represents a particular athlete and/or their personality. Are they serious or do they smile a lot? Are they a dunker or a shooter? That being said, if I’m painting an image that shows their face, I have to find one where they are not making a strange expression. More often than not, when athletes are running or jumping they contort their face. Sometimes it’s flattering, many times…not so much. You capture the essence of the moment, how do 64 GAME CHANGER you reproduce the emotion by just looking at a picture? For me it’s about making sure I capture their likeness. It’s most important that the viewer knows exactly who the person is by looking at their face and not just their number or uniform. I achieve this by putting in extra time and painstaking effort during the drawing phase. If the drawing isn’t rendered properly, it’s inevitable that the painting will be compromised and will end up looking off. Beyond that, I try to enhance the image in a multitude of ways, including pumping up the colors and increasing the contrast to create drama. Who would be your dream “model” for a piece? I’m not sure I have a dream model. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have created art for and worked with some of the top athletes in the world. I created a piece of my favorite athlete Michael Jordan for the Basketball Hall of Fame when he was inducted in 2009. I’ve also created paintings of great champions such as Ray Lewis, Dwyane Wade, Muhammad Ali and Lou Gehrig. What’s next for you? I’m very excited to be working on a project with Julius “Dr. J” Erving. We met a couple of years ago at a charity event in Las Vegas and I’ve been collaborating with Dr. J Enterprises for about a year. I’m creating a series of paintings of Julius spanning his career in the ABA on the New York Nets and in the NBA on the Philadelphia 76ers. These paintings will be unveiled this summer at a gallery event in NYC. I’ll also be making reproductions of a select few to offer to the public on my website www.adamport.com around the time of the unveiling. Julius is another amazing champion that I am honored to be working directly with and paying tribute to in my art. He was a great player and a true trailblazer. GAME CHANGER 65 Weâ€™ve got all you need for a picture perfect Derby brunch. 66 GAME CHANGER GAME CHANGER 67 RECIPES & PHOTOS BY LAURA VANSICKLE Blackberry Julep • • • • 3 T Blackberry simple syrup 8 Mint leaves ¼ C Bourbon Splash seltzer Muddle Blackberry simple syrup and mint leaves together, mix in Bourbon, and pour in Julep cup filled with crushed ice. Garnish with mint leaves 68 GAME CHANGER and Blackberry. Make a Blackberry simple syrup by bringing berries, sugar, and water to a boil in a saucepan over moderately high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat to simmer, and cook uncovered until fruit starts to break down, about 30 minutes. Pour mixture through strainer and discard the berries. Elderflower Lemon Champagne cake: • 2 Boxes white cake mix • 6 eggs • 1 ¾ C Champagne • ¾ C Elderflower Liquor In large mixing bowl, whisk all ingredients together until combined. Separate into 3 8” round cake pans. Bake at 350 until golden brown or an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let sit for 10 minutes, remove from pans, and allow to cool completely. Elderflower Lemon Frosting: 1 lb Butter 2 ½ lbs Powdered sugar ¼ C Champagne 3 T fresh lemon juice 3 T Elderflower Liquor In large bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy. Add half the powdered sugar, Elderflower liquor, and lemon juice, and beat until incorporated. Beat in the rest of the powdered sugar and champagne. GAME CHANGER 69 Assembly: Place halved biscuit on bottom of oven safe dish Stack with turkey, then tomato, then half of the cream sauce Put under broiler until top is browned and bubbly Remove from broiler and top with 2 slices of bacon Kentucky Hot Brown: • Cream Sauce (below) • 14 oz Thick sliced roasted turkey breast • 2 Buttermilk biscuits • 4 Slices of bacon • 4 slices of Roma tomato 70 GAME CHANGER Cream Sauce: • 1 ½ T Salted butter • 1 ½ T Flour • 1 ½ C Heavy cream • ¼ C Parmesan or Romano cheese • Pinch grated nutmeg • 1 t salt • ½ t pepper In saucepan over medium heat cook butter and flour together to make a roux. Cook roux for 2 minutes and slowly whisk in heavy cream. Cook until thickened slightly, remove from heat, and whisk in remaining ingredients. Bourbon Bread Pudding: Let cubed bread sit out overnight to stale. Beat eggs and sugar together, then add the rest of the ingredients. Pour egg mixture over cubed bread and allow to sit for atleast 30 minutes so the bread can soak up all the liquid. Transfer to a baking dish and bake in a 350 degree oven for 35 minutes or until sides and top are browned. Allow to cool slightly and serve with Bourbon Sauce. Bourbon Sauce: • 2 Egg yolks • 8 T butter • 1 C Sugar • 1/3 C Bourbon • 3 C Challah bread, cubed • 2 C Milk • 2 Lg Eggs • 1 C Sugar • 2 t Vanilla • 2 T Bourbon • 1 t Cinnamon • ½ t Nutmeg • 4 T Melted • ½ C Choppedbutter Pecans Beat eggs until thick and pale. In saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and sugar until sugar is dissolved. While beating eggs, slowely add butter mixture. Once well combined, stir in bourbon. GAME CHANGER 71 GC GAME CHANGER MAGAZINE 72 GAME CHANGER WWW.THEGCMAG.COM