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We d n e s d a y, F e b r u a r y

3, 2010

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Strief bound for Super Bowl XLIV Saints lineman, Milford grad helps New Orleans on and off the field By Anthony Amorini aamorini@communitypress.com

Zach Strief, a 2001 Milford graduate and offensive tackle for the New Orleans Saints, is Super Bowl bound as the NFL lineman adds a new chapter to his impressive career. And No. 64 – eternally No. 1 in Eagles’ hearts – will be reporting as eligible. Keep an ear open during Super Bowl XLIV and the announcers – both on the field and in the booth – will certainly be keeping track of Strief for you. Most of the time, Strief is a back-up tackle playing on special teams for the Saints. But when the Saints shift to its jumbo package, Strief reports as an eligible receiver as an extra tight end. “Last year we used it every game and this year it certainly expanded,” Strief said of his newest role and the formation. “Everyone notices it because it’s different for a lineman. “More than anything, I am glad that I get a chance to contribute. It’s a lot of fun and a great opportunity for a back-up offensive lineman,” Strief added. Zach was on the field when the Saints clinched its NFC championship Sunday, Jan. 24, with its overtime win over Minnesota, 31-28. Blocking for the field goal team, Zach turned his back as Garrett Hartley’s 40-yard field goal split the uprights and sent the Saints to its first Super Bowl. “I didn’t want to look. We have a lot of confidence in Garrett, but I just couldn’t watch,” Strief said. Reactions from fans and fellow players clued Zach in that his Saints were NFC champs. “I ran around like an

SUBMITTED PHOTO

A sign hanging in the Louisiana Superdome, home to the New Orleans Saints, proudly promotes No. 64 Zach Strief and his non-profit charity, the Zach Strief Dream Big Foundation.

SUBMITTED PHOTO

Milford graduate Zach Strief, second from the left holding a child, takes a moment for a photo with fellow Saints, from left, Lance Moore, Usama Young and Chris Reis during a visit to Ochsner Hospital in New Orleans.

Zach Strief’s resume in brief

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Zach and Mandy Strief wed in April 2009. Mandy, a lifelong New Orleans resident, is a key player in Zach's nonprofit charity, the Zach Strief Dream Big Foundation. idiot and it was a lot of fun,” Strief joked. “There are not a lot of chances at this level to have the kind of excitement you felt as a kid. “It was a chance to see grown men acting like children. It was just an amazing feeling,” Strief added. A trip to the Super Bowl is just the latest bit of good fortune for the former Northwestern All-American. No less, Strief is focused on the biggest game of his life and looking forward to the challenge, he said. “It’s a little bit surreal,” Strief said of the Super Bowl. “It is over the top exciting and I don’t think I

BRANDON SEVERN/CONTRIBUTOR

Zach Strief welcomes the campers and introduces the other NFL talent during one of his annual summer camps at Milford High School.

THINGS TO DO Become a volunteer

The Clermont County Public Library is hosting the Volunteers of the Library meeting at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 4, at the Milford-Miami Township Branch Library, 1099 Ohio 131. Learn more information on how you can help with library fundraising and book fair events. Call 248-0700 or visit www.clermontlibrary.org.

• One-of-12 players on the Saints’ current roster who was also with New Orleans when the team lost the NFC championship to Chicago, 39-14, during the 2006-2007 season. • Four-year veteran selected in the seventh round of the 2006 NFL draft by the New Orleans Saints. • Founder and namesake of the Zach Strief Dream Big Foundation, a non-profit organization. • Started 40 games at could be more excited to play a football game.” As Strief descends on football’s biggest stage, it would be easy enough to consider the moment an untouchable new high in his life. From a professional standpoint it certainly is, but memorable life experiences haven’t been in short order for Zach of late. Zach and Mandy Strief wed in April 2009 and both agree New Orleans is their lifelong home. Moreover, Zach’s charity, the Zach Strief Dream Big Foundation, has taken flight with Mandy at the reigns. A Super Bowl is just icing on the cake. “I’m probably more proud of him for the person he is than the player he is,” Zach’s father Doug Strief said. “(The Super Bowl) is certainly a dream come true, though. “Going to this game is the culmination of a great football career,” Doug added. Everyone knows when Zach takes the field thanks to the announcement of his eligible status. But at 6-foot-7 and 320 pounds, it’s not like Strief is

Square dance

The Southwestern Ohio/Northern Kentucky Square Dancers Federation is hosting the Frontier Square Dance Club from 8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 5, at American Legion Post 450, 450 Victor Stier Drive in Milford. It is a plus-level square and round dance club. Pre-rounds start at 7 p.m. The cost is $5. Call 9292427 or visit frontiersquares.tripod.com.

Northwestern University as anchor of the offensive line at right tackle. • Recognized as a first-team All-American by the Football Writers Association of America as a Northwestern senior. • Allowed zero sacks as senior at Milford High School and allowed only one sack as a junior. Also lettered in basketball and track. • Born Sept. 22, 1983, in Cincinnati. prone to – or even capable of – hiding. In fact, Strief is one of the more visible Saints in the New Orleans’ area with two or three visits a week to local venues for charitable work. “We have an unusually close relationship with the community here,” Strief said. “The city thrives on us and we thrive on them. “It’s more than just a game to these people and because of that we have a responsibility to give back to this town,” Strief added. And give back he has. Zach’s Dream Big Foundation raised $107,000 in a single night Dec. 10 during its Big Night Out event benefiting Cafe Reconcile, a non-profit restaurant dedicated to teaching teens – atrisk and otherwise – about the restaurant business. Zach was named as the Morton’s Community Player of the Week Nov. 14 for making “countless visits to local schools and hospitals in the Greater New Orleans area” and also for his fundraising ventures. “It’s the greatest advantage of being in the situation I’m in as an NFL player in New Orleans,” Strief said.

ANTHONY AMORINI/STAFF

Zach Strief, now headed to the Super Bowl with the New Orleans Saints, talks about the art of blocking as a group of Eagles listen intently during one of his annual summer camps at Milford High School. At the New Orleans’ restaurant Phil’s Grill, Strief even has a “#64 Eligible” burger named after him with proceeds going to Court Appointed Special Advocates. CASA, an organization which helps train citizens to stand up for abused and neglected children, teaches volunteers how to advocate for foster children in New Orleans. Mandy’s sister and her husband, Megan and Chris Westbrook, currently are fostering two children as active CASA participants. “It’s really good and it came out well,” Strief joked of his Andouille and Angus blend burger complete with bourbon glaze for loads of local flavor. “More than anything, it was a chance to get CASA’s name out.” Mandy has taken over many of the duties for the Dream Big Foundation after Zach and his parents, Cathy and Doug Strief, helped found the organization, Zach and Doug said. As a lifelong New Orleans resident, Mandy revels in her new role, she said. “It was their vision and I am very honored to be

Festival information

Clermont County Public Library is hosting maple syrup festival information at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 6, at the Goshen Branch Library, 6678 Ohio 132. The event is with Keith Robinson of Clermont County Park District. There is an opportunity to register for the festival. Call 722-1221.

Go out to breakfast

American Legion Post 450 is

involved,” Mandy said. “There are so many deserving groups and organizations in New Orleans. It’s only fitting to give back.” Though charity work is a big part of their lives, everything still comes back around to football for Zach and Mandy. “It’s the most exciting time of my life. I have watched the Saints on TV for as long as I can remember,” joked Mandy, a former Saint cheerleader for four years. “The only way to describe it is magical. “Our city has needed this for so long and now it’s finally here,” Mandy enthusiastically added. Win or lose at Super Bowl XLIV, Zach’s resolve to live out his days in New Orleans is unflappable. “We will raise our children here. We will die here,” Zach said of the couple’s ties to New Orleans. “Early in my career, it’s been nice to know this is home.” A message from Zach at www.dreambignola.com really says it all for the big lineman with an even bigger heart. “Work hard. Play Passionately. Love NOLA. Dream Big – Zach.”

Super Bowl XLIV - Saints vs. Colts

Zach Strief and the New Orleans Saints (NFC champs at 15-3) are taking on Peyton Manning’s Indianapolis Colts (AFC champs at 16-2) in Super Bowl XLIV. Here’s a quick look at the details: • Where? Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. • When? Kickoff scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 7. • Broadcast? Super Bowl XLIV will air on CBS with commentators Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. • Opening line? Indianapolis Colts are favored by 3.5 points.

hosting a Breakfast Buffet from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday, Feb. 7, at American Legion Post 450, 450 Victor Stier Drive in Milford. It is a country buffet breakfast that contains eggs, bacon, sausage, fried potatoes, sausage gravy and biscuits, hash and more. Eggs are cooked to order. Proceeds benefit American Legion Post 450. The cost is $7, $3 for children 9 and under. Call 831-9876.

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BECAUSE COMMUNITY MATTERS 50¢ Wednesday, February 3, 2010 Most teenagers know that texting while driving is dangerous. But they continue to...