The offseason is at its end as we get ready to report for training camp here in Philadelphia, and it’s been a great one for me personally. Training on the field and in the gym has gone really well, but it’s also been an incredible time off the field.
I’ve been able to spend some quality time relaxing with my fiancée, Julie, and I’ve gotten a chance to enjoy some of the best things Philadelphia has to offer.
I love Philadelphia. I’m fully invested in the city. It’s been unbelievable to me and to my family.
One of favorite things to do is try and find new spots to eat here and there. (If you want to suggest one, hit me up on Twitter, Facebook or through the site.) Barclay Prime has probably been my favorite spot so far, but there are so many great restaurants in the city, you really can’t go wrong.
I’ve also had the opportunity to watch the Phillies and the Union play live, which was great. To have the opportunity to go out to some other sporting events around town, hang out with the fans and just be a fan for a few nights—I love it.
Philadelphia fans get a bad rap sometimes, but I think they’re the best fans in the world.
A CHAMPIONSHIP LESSON
Philly fans certainly showed how great they can be when Villanova brought home a national championship in basketball.
Villanova winning in Philadelphia is big, but I think a pro championship in the city would be 10 times what they experienced. This city loves their pro sports teams, and our goal each and every day is to work towards bringing a Super Bowl title to Philadelphia.
That’s why it was so great when we got to meet with Villanova coach Jay Wright. Any time you can have a guy come and bring that background and the success that he has had, it’s great to listen to.
One of the things that kind of stood out when he spoke was how Nova dealt with some down years. After they got to the Final Four in 2009, they kind of changed their program a little bit and they weren’t successful for a few years. They realized why they weren’t successful, so they went back, and changed the process. They focused on getting the guys that fit Villanova, guys that Coach Wright knew he could mold into the players that he wanted on his team.
Not long after, they’re out there winning the National Championship.
That really stuck with me. I look at it as a lesson in life: When you have a little bit of success, it’s not a time to go out there and change the process. It’s a time to stick to what works, and really try to improve on it.
It was very applicable to what we’re doing. Obviously, we’ve had a lot of turnover these past couple of years. But I think the team, the guys and the character of the guys we have on this team right now will to allow us to build for the next 10 years.
HITTING WITH THE PHILLIES
A group of us also had a nice team outing at a Phillies game last month, which was an awesome experience.
We had a little competition at batting practice, and yours truly walked away as the batting champion.
We hit 15 balls off their pitching machine. You got one point if you hit the ball in play, two points if you hit it into the outfield, three points if you hit it to the warning track, and 10 points if you hit a home run. Trey Burton and I tied after the first round, then we had a swing off. Trey, unfortunately for him, missed one and then fouled two off, so he ended up with zero points.
All I had to do was put it in play once. I hit two decent hits, but nothing special. My best hit was a ball off the top of the wall, which that put me in a position to tie Trey in the first round. It was a lot of fun.
No one hit that 10-point home run. (I was the closest, for the record.) It doesn’t look that far, but when you get out there, it is extremely far.
Overall, it was a great day, and an opportunity for us to get away from the facility and just have fun.
I’ve also had the opportunity to go to a couple of Union soccer games. Obviously, with Julie being the soccer player that she is, my appreciation for the game has definitely grown. The Union are first place in the Eastern Conference right now, so they’re playing good soccer.
The stadium where they play is unbelievable. I love going there and watching games. The Union supporters are extremely passionate, and the stadium is rocking. They take extremely good care of us when we’re there, and it’s just a great time.
KICKING IT WITH JULIE
It’s certainly been great doing all that, but I’ve also enjoyed just any time I get to hang out with Julie. We’re both so busy, so any time we have the chance to spend together we love it. She loves cooking when she’s home, so she does a lot of that. When I’m at work, she will go work out.
But honestly, we are pretty much the two laziest people when the two of us get together.
We love finding a new show and watching Netflix. We’ve watched all of The Office episodes, starting at Season 1. Now we’re on to Lost.
We’re really enjoying the time we have this spring and summer, because when August rolls around, we’re both going to be extremely busy. She’ll be at the Rio Olympics, and I’ll be in training camp.
Unfortunately, I won’t be able to go to the Olympics, but I’ll be watching the games with a very close eye whenever I can. It might be more nerve-wracking watching it on the television than being there, because I won’t be able to see her after the game. But I’m looking forward to watching each and every one.
I know Julie is extremely proud to be able to represent her country. It’s something she never takes for granted. She loves doing it and the Olympics are another opportunity for her to do that. I know she’s is extremely excited for the competition, and the opportunity to compete down there and possibly win Olympic gold would be a huge accomplishment.
Hopefully, we’ll be able to make it so Coach Pederson doesn’t hold practice during a game. I don’t think I’ll be able to sway him either way, but I hope I’ll be able to watch.