Sunday, April 29, 2012

This quarterback won't be drafted, and that's just fine -

This is the best football career story I've heard in a long time, and how I think 80% of them should go. Good on him!

This quarterback won't be drafted, and that's just fine

It's NFL draft weekend, yet Southern California's top draft-eligible quarterback will be one of the few fans not watching the marathon ESPN broadcast.

He and his four roommates can't afford cable television.

"I guess I'm not all that curious," Azusa Pacific's John van den Raadt says with a grin.

It's NFL draft weekend, a celebration of football bling, giant players walking across glittering stages in fancy suits, yet this area's best senior quarterback won't be dressing the part.

He doesn't own a suit. He doesn't even own a sports jacket. He shows up for this interview looking the part of a hotshot quarterback with a black Nike T-shirt and black Nike shorts — until you ask about his Nike deal.

"My deal is I bought the shirt for $6 and the shorts for $10 at an outlet store," he says.

No, he's not being drafted. No, he's not even ranked in the top 500 draft-eligible players in the country. Every draft geek is spending the weekend talking about the importance of picking quarterbacks, yet nobody seems to have any idea about this guy, who is the two-time national NAIA Independent offensive player of the year.

So why is John van den Raadt so darn happy?

"I never wish I was in those other players' shoes," he says. "I'm on a different journey."

On the weekend when the NFL goes about its annual decadent business making millionaires out of college kids who haven't been inside a college classroom in months, perhaps it's refreshing to remember that most student-athletes are, indeed, on a different journey.

John van den Raadt is not going to the NFL armed with a million-dollar contract; he's going to a life armed with a valuable degree and the invaluable perspective that four years of collegiate sports can bring.

"Adversity, sacrifice, getting up at 6 a.m. for workouts that I hated, all those things have made me a better person, and that's made Azusa football worth it," he says.

For the last four years, van den Raadt has not missed a snap while starting 40 consecutive games in an environment that, to him, was every bit as exciting as the one felt by Matt Barkley at USC. On TV this weekend, all of that will seem worth little as the 6-foot-3, 210-pound quarterback will go undrafted and seemingly unwanted.

Don't buy it. Van den Raadt isn't buying it. As with most college athletes, his payoff has not been in the destination, but in that journey.

"You know that NCAA ad campaign that focuses on all the student-athletes who are going pro in something other than sports? That's John," says Gary Pine, Azusa athletic director. "He might not play quarterback in the NFL, but his time at Azusa has prepared him to make a big impact on the world in other areas, and we're proud to be associated with him."

Van den Raadt feels he's already been impressively drafted, four years ago by Azusa, the school giving him about a half scholarship even though he had been a varsity quarterback for only one season at Jurupa Valley High in Mira Loma.

"Throw in some academic scholarship money and not much of my education came out of my own pocket, and you can't beat that," he says.

Van den Raadt feels he's already been wanted, by a football team that embraced him — even though he was so nervous when he was summoned to the field for his first college appearance that he ran out without his helmet.

"This has been the most fun experience of my life," he says. "You can't put a price on that."

Van den Raadt not only finished as the school's career passing leader with 6,639 yards, but also as its third-leading rusher with 2,696 rushing yards. After his final college game, he was offered a chance to attend one of those training centers where seniors hone their skills for the upcoming draft evaluations. But it meant missing school, so he declined.

"This is all about getting my degree," he says. "Nothing is more valuable than that."

You know how these top drafted players head to their new teams while proclaiming they are on a mission? After graduating in May with a degree in math and physics, van den Raadt is going on a real mission, leading a church group to the Dominican Republic to run a sports clinic. When he returns, he will either begin working on his teaching credential or a master's degree in architecture.

"Not everybody is made to be a millionaire," he says. "What I learned as an Azusa football player has prepared me for life, and that's rich enough."

OK, so John van den Raadt wasn't on national TV Thursday night, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell didn't hug him. So maybe somebody else should.

Posted via email from Tony Burkhart

Zanesville teen Emily Vanasdale recognized for her computing, academic skills | Zanesville Times Recorder

Stories like this give me faith in the next generation. It's inspiring to hear about intelligent, motivated children. Ones like Emily Vanasdale, that put their minds towards productive, positive goals and are determined to succeed are the ones who will blaze the path for other women in tech. 

Zanesville teen recognized for computing, academic skills | Zanesville Times Recorder |

ZANESVILLE -- If a virtual keyboard is in the future, Emily Vanasdale can't wait to see it being invented.

Or she might be the inventor herself.

Ever since she can remember, the 17-year-old Zanesville girl has had a keen interest in computers and how they work. At 3, she started experimenting with an old Mac, and by 11 she created her own website with games. The boom in technology has kept her busy in recent years thinking up new games and programs, and her hours in front of the computer have served her well.

Today, Vanasdale will be recognized as an Ohio winner of the National Center for Women and Information Technology Award for Aspirations in Computing at TechColumbus.

"I was one out of 10 (Ohio) girls awarded last year, and one of 15 this year," she said. "It recognizes me for accomplishments in areas like academics, technology and computing, volunteer work, etc. I'm both nervous and excited (about the ceremony), but I also feel empowered by my accomplishments. It's an honor, and I appreciate it."

NCWIT is a nonprofit coalition of more than 200 prominent corporations, academic institutions, government agencies and other nonprofits working to improve U.S. innovation, competitiveness and work-force sustainability by increasing women's participation in information technology. NCWIT's work spans kindergarten through 12th grade and higher education through industry and academic careers.

Leading up to her NCWIT recognitions, Vanasdale has successfully created games and applications that earned rave reviews. Her most recent project was an Android app for the Restoration that featured information about the event and links to bands' and speakers' pages.

She also produced winning games for Muskingum University's Games By Teens Contest. The contest began in 2009. Vanasdale took top-three spots each consecutive year -- second place in 2009 with "Running to Freedom," second place in 2010 with "Running to Freedom 2," and first place in 2011 with "Skylar Keyes and the Nazi Loot." They can be downloaded at

"They're all puzzle games suitable for all ages, and they have educational information," she said. "This is something I want to continue doing. I enjoy programming. I envision what I want to accomplish, get a picture of it, and put the puzzles together. I get ideas from school, movies, anywhere."

Demonstrating "Skylar Keyes," Vanasdale said the player needs to figure out the answer to each level to unlock the secret cave where Nazi loot is stored. The missing letters around the border form the answer, and the answer is also one of the items in each scene.

"She's a storyteller," her mother, Jessica Vanasdale, said. "She makes everything educational and family-friendly."

Family is an important thing to Emily. She picked up her passion for technology from her father, Jason Vanasdale. She said he owned a wireless business when it started taking off in Ohio and built computers from scratch.

She is homeschooled, and sets up shop in her "office area" in the family's basement. She'd also like to stay close to home as she goes on to pursue programming in higher education.

Technology is in Vanasdale's blood, and this is only the beginning of what she hopes will be a long, enriching experience.

"I've applied to Muskingum University, Mount Vernon (Nazarene University), and Ohio University Zanesville," she said. "I want to stay close to my family. After college I'd like to be a stay-at-home mom with a manageable business."

Emily and Jessica said they appreciate the doors that are being opened for women in the realm of technology. They also enjoy seeing the variety of girls recognized at the NCWIT awards and hearing their stories and perspectives. Emily is also passionate about promoting the program and exploration of technological possibilities to her peers.

"I encourage girls to get involved with it," she said. "Some don't get involved because they're afraid of sexism, but they need to fight it. Take a swing at it. There's a great future in technology, if it's used right."

Posted via email from Tony Burkhart

House burns during Palmer Fest street festival in Athens | The Columbus Dispatch

Must be a point of pride for OU grads. This thing gets more dangerous each year... and it's always centered around fire. WTF?! Chill out dudes. Party and hang, but skip the scorched earth mentality. You won't have a place to party, if you burn it all to the ground.

House burns during street festival in Athens

By  Wesley Lowery

FOR THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH Saturday April 28, 2012 10:11 PM

Greg Roberts The (Ohio University) Post

A reveler at Palmer Fest near Ohio University is helped after being overcome by smoke from a house fire.

ATHENS, Ohio — What could be the last year of Ohio University’s notorious Palmer Fest block party ended in flames when a house on Palmer Street caught fire tonight and emergency personnel cleared the street.

A witness said someone threw a cigarette through the basement window of 11 Palmer St. and the house began to burn around 7 p.m. Fire crews put out the blaze, then police moved in to clear the street where OU students and others were gathered for the street party that has taken place each spring for the past 21 years.

Residents of the house declined to discuss the fire. Firefighters said no one was injured.

Police in riot gear told revelers to “Get inside, or go!” By a little after 8 p.m., the street was cleared. Officers said anyone found outside would be subject to arrest.

The annual street fest is one of many weekly block parties held in Athens each spring and gained notoriety after it ended in riots in both 2009 and 2010. Partiers burned couches and chairs and pelted police with glass bottles during the party both years.

In what police deemed an “uneventful” party last year, more than 100 people were arrested for various offenses. Athens officials say final arrest totals for tonight’s party will not be available until Monday.

The street fests draw thousands of college students from around the state because they take place after many of Ohio’s semester schools have finished their spring classes. Ohio University will shift to semesters next year and classes will end earlier, so this might be the final year for the notorious spring fests.

“I’m extremely grateful that no one was injured by this fire, and I certainly commend the efforts of the police and safety crews that worked to put it out,” said OU Dean of Students Ryan Lombardi. “We’re trying to offer any support we can to the residents of the home in terms of emergency housing or anything they need. Our primary concern is the safety of our students.”

Posted via email from Tony Burkhart