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07/02/11 – MOCA Moms

I was invited to attend this event from Cariece Peck (@CarieceP). She introduced me to her client, Mothers of College Athletes [MOCA] Moms (@MOCA_MOMS), She told me about an event that they are hosting on July 2nd, which is hosting a bunch of south Florida natives. The founder of this organization is Tavares Gooden’s mother. They host events yearly and raise money for different causes. This year’s event raised money for the Jessica June Children’s Cancer Foundation

The event was celebrity bowling. Bowling is a very popular way for football players to raise money, and it’s usually a lot of fun. However, it can get repetitive when all you see are strikes and you’re not bowling well yourself at all. But, I didn’t bowl during this event, I wanted to walk around, meet players, and talk to people. That’s what I hoped to do, and well, I did.

I was there in the beginning of the event, and I talked to some dolphins’ fans about the upcoming potential season. I also talk to University of Miami Hurricanes fans. I hand out a bunch of business cards, and it was definitely a lot of fun. At the time, all of the football fans say they are hoping for the NFL season. I walk into the room where they plan to have a little reception before it really all gets started. It’s a pretty cool room, full of fans and football players, but also very limited to the public.

The first player, I immediately recognize is Tavares Gooden. Tavares’ mother, Robin is the President of MOCA Moms. But, I talk with Tavares, and he’s just taking it easy. He tells me that he is happy to be here, and ready to bowl. Tavares is very nice and we talk about his time at ‘The U’. I tell him that I’m in the middle of a college program there at the time actually, so that was pretty cool. We also talked about other things going on, and what the event meant for him. He’s a really cool, relaxed guy, but I figure I might as well walk around and meet some other players. I tell Tavares that we have to get a picture together, but he tells me he’d rather do it in front of the bowling alley then in the private room.

I see someone that I know I recognize… Another star from Miami football, although instead of sitting down, he’s playing pool. I don’t know if he’s winning or losing, but I walk up to Leonard Hankerson (@HankTime85) and introduce myself. Leonard was really nice, but asked me why I was there. i explained what I do and that’s always a pretty cool part. Then, we talked a little bit about pool, and I challenged him to a game. He told me that he would take me down, jokingly. I decided that I’d have to move on and meet more people. 

I see these guys who are hanging out by a few players. I introduce myself to a guy named, Tony Fleming. I ask him what he does, and he tells me that he’s the founder of Impact Sports & Entertainment. I was shocked because I’ve called them up a few times in their California office. That’s pretty cool. We exchange business cards, and I tell him about my site and what I do. We talk about that, and he’s pretty interested in what I have to say. We get a photo together, and then I ask him if he’ll introduce me to a couple of his clients. 

I am introduced to San Diego Chargers’ first round pick, Corey Liuget. Corey’s a really big guy, but also very nice. I know a little about him, but I talk to him about my website and what I do. He’s very engaging, but he’s also in the middle of what seems to me, a competitive pool game. I talk with him about his expectations for the upcoming season and he just tells me that he wants a season. He’s been hoping to play in the NFL since he was drafted. He’s very excited about being a first round pick, and tells me that we may be able to do an interview in the future. I really enjoy talking to him. He’s not only humble, but also very enthusiastic. I hope I’ll be able to interview him someday in the future, as I know his story is great. I wish him the best of luck this season, and I walk back over to Tony. 

Tony then calls over Houston Texans’ Defensive Back, Kareem Jackson (@ReemBoi25) and introduces me to him. Kareem is a nice guy, but he’s in the middle of a pool game, so I know he’s busy. We talk a little about what I do. I then ask him if he’ll take a quick photo, and it’s pretty awesome. I’m happy we got to meet briefly, but the pre-event is over, and I walk over to the doors to walk out of the room.

I then talk with Antwan Barnes as the pre-event comes to an end. We walk out of the closed room, and while he gathers his stuff to bowl, we continue talking. He’s a really nice guy, and we talk about what it was like to play on the number one defense last year. I talk to him about how I watched him in Baltimore and in San Diego. He’s one of many players at the time who had no idea where he’d be after this offseason. He was very happy to talk with me. Being a fellow defensive lineman, I couldn’t help but ask him for some pointers. He thought I was joking around, but I was actually serious. We kidded around, and I told him that I couldn’t wait for his pass-rushing skills to get even better next season. We get a great photo before he starts bowling, but it was very cool to talk with him.

I walk around and I see a familiar face. I was fortunate enough to meet Broncos’ newly drafted offensive lineman, Orlando Franklin (@OFranklin74) again. It was great meeting Orlando again. I forgot about how huge of a guy he is. He’s humble. He’s extremely nice, but he definitely looked like he was ready to get back to bowling. I’m happy to talk to him again. It’s also nice to see a rookie be so active in his hometown community. That’s something I feel that you rarely see. You often times see vets supporting the community, but Orlando has been to two different charity events in two months. That’s just awesome to see. 

He was with Robert Bailey (@NFLRecord). If you don’t remember what it was like meeting him before, nothing really changed. Bailey is a great guy who hosts the NFL record for longest punt return touchdown in NFL history, hence his twitter name. He’s the marketing president for Rosenhaus Sports, and he’s a great guy. He graduated from the University of Miami and was also featured in ESPN’s 30 for 30. He’s a great guy, and I enjoy meeting and talking with him again.

I see Rahim Moore, someone that a lot of people thought he could slip into the first round. I did a lot of research on this upcoming safety, Rahim Moore. I introduce myself to Rahim, and he’s one of the easiest going guys there. He sees that I’m in a way, stressed out with all these players I have to go up to. He calms me down, somehow, and slows everything down. I felt like I talked to him for an hour, but it was probably only a few minutes. He’s a really cool guy. I was very happy that I got to meet him. We talked about the upcoming season and about work ethic in general. He’s excited for the Broncos’ season, and tells me that he’d also love to do an interview with me in the future. I hope that time will come soon.

I then meet Daniel Thomas (@DTrainFor6). He was the 2nd round, 62nd overall pick for the Miami Dolphins, a running back out of Kansas State University. I introduce myself to him, and he’s wearing a Dolphins hat and  a purple hood with an orange adidas on it. I don’t know much about him, other than he went to Kansas State, but he comes off as a genuinely nice, yet quiet guy. 

I then introduce myself to Jon Beason (@JonBeason). Robert Bailey tells him a little about what I do to him, and he’s impressed. He’s one of the nicest guys it seems. For someone who has his BEASt mode ON during the game, he seemed to have his beast mode off. That’s the way you want to meet him. I would not want to get hit by him. We talk about my site, and what I plan to do, and maybe a potential interview. I also ask him if he’ll sign a couple photos, so I can give them away to fans. He does. Then, I ask him if he’ll shout me out, and he does that too. He’s very nice to me, and really appreciative that I’m here asking him all these questions and learning from him. We get a quick photo together, and it’s definitely something awesome, but I have so a few more people to meet, so I’m on my way, but I thank him, and move on.

I then walk over to where players are bowling. I see Antwan Barnes again, and we shake hands and he tells me that he thinks it’s nice I decided to come over. I see another person who is one of the main stars of the event, DeMarcus Van Dyke (@D_VanDyke8). I know DeMarcus was a third round pick for the Oakland Raiders, and we talk about what it was like to grow up in South Florida. He loves the fact that he can give back to his hometown community, and he’s excited for the NFL season to start in Oakland. He comes off as a really friendly guy. He’s about to bowl, so I walk away to go meet another player who’s standing there.

As I walk over to Willis McGahee (@WillisMcGahee), I see DeMarcus go over and chat with a few fans. I introduce my website to Willis, and he comes off as a real genuine guy. He listens to what I have to say. I tell him I’ve been a big fan of his production with the Bills and with the Ravens. I tell him it’s all about the U, and we get a picture together. We talk some more, but he tells me that he is ready to take over this game in bowling. He seems like he’s having a lot of fun. 

I got to watch some of the bowling. It seemed to be pretty intense in fun, but also had a competitive vibe to it. There was an MC there, and the players seemed to be having fun and showing off their skills to the audience. The audience was laughing at some of their gestures after the players had strikes or spares. It came down pretty close at the end too. I don’t remember who won, but it was definitely hearing the environment cheer on Willis McGahee and Antwan Barnes. 

Here’s a video that was put together about the event.

That’s really all I have to say. It was a lot of fun meeting all these players who grew up in South Florida. I had to leave early before I could meet Anquan Boldin and some other players, but I definitely was happy I got to meet all these players who gave their time and raised money for such a great cause.

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