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Colorado School of Mines Speech

September 28, 2012

Today I am speaking before the Golden Chamber of Commerce and Colorado School of Mines student-athletes and community at the Mines Homecoming Lunch.  This is quite the honor for me, as I spent four of my greatest years at Mines.  While there, I was a cheerleader and we would always perform before the lunch started.

Below is the text of my speech, the title of which is “Know No Limits.”

Ten years ago, I stood in front of this luncheon donned in a silver and blue cheerleading uniform, with a ribbon flowing from my hair.  I was so excited to support my school, but incredibly nervous, as I was about to dance, jump and kick inches away from hundreds of people who thought they just came to enjoy lunch.  That being said, let’s give the Mines cheerleaders a round of applause.

Thank you for inviting me here today.  It is an honor to return to a place that was the host of some of my greatest memories with an invitation to talk about my experiences.  Furthermore, as a sports fan and loyal supporter of the Orediggers, I’m excited to share with you the great things that this athletics program is accomplishing.

In the fall of 2002, I was certain I made the right college decision when I enrolled as a freshman at the Colorado School of Mines.  For an 18-year-old, I had lofty goals and expectations of myself.  I was raised by parents who instilled within me the value of hard work and made me believe I could achieve anything I set my mind on.  In Mines, I found a school that represented those values.  When I visited the campus, I saw people who were inventors and innovators.  I saw a campus where possibilities were only limited by the minds present on it.  To me, Mines was a place where the possibilities for my future would know no limits.

When I think about the path I’ve taken since leaving Mines with a B.S. in Economics in 2006, I know that a large amount of what I’ve accomplished is the direct result of the know no limits attitude that was instilled within me here.  Admittedly, my path after Mines is very different than most of my peers.  Immediately after graduating in 2006, I enrolled in law school at Chapman University in Orange County, California.  I pursued a law degree with the hope of using it and my economics degree to work in the entertainment industry.  During law school, I had great jobs at the Screen Actors Guild and Warner Brothers.  Then, in 2008, six months before I was to graduate, the economy tanked and took with it any possibility of immediate post-graduate job opportunities in the entertainment industry.  Thus, after law school, I spent several years at a law firm practicing corporate law.

I found law firm life very stifling and unsatisfying.  It was stifling and unsatisfying, because I was not allowed to innovate.  I spent many days telling myself that there was something better out there for me to do.  I recognized that I was uninspired with my work and not pursuing my passions.  Nearly at my limit, my know no limits attitude kicked in, and I found a solution to my unhappiness with my career.

That solution was to do something many Mines grads before me have done:  create my own opportunity.  On July 1, 2011, I found a way to merge my two greatest passions in life:  sports and writing, when I launched the sports law website RulingSports.com.  Since then, I have been given many great opportunities—like the one I am receiving right now—to share my passion for sports with others.  Over the last 15 months, I’ve worked with Olympic gold medalists, Pro-Bowl football players, World Series winning baseball players and even reality TV stars like Rob Dyrdek, to share their stories.  When my phone rings and it’s someone from the NFL, NBA or Nike, I pinch myself and give thanks that I had the courage to pursue my dreams.  Today, along with writing for RulingSports.com, I also am a sports business contributor to Forbes.  I tape numerous radio shows across the country weekly and serve as CBS Denver’s sports business expert.  For someone who once dreamed of being an agent, perhaps the most amusing part of my journey thus far came when I was signed by the agency that represents the likes of Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers and baseball great John Smoltz.  This fall, I’ll take on a new opportunity when I become an in-game reporter for the Denver Pioneers men’s basketball and hockey teams.

I realize that everything that has happened to me since July 2011 is a blessing.  I am grateful for every opportunity I’ve been given.  Daily, I am thankful that my parents instilled within me enough belief in myself to go out and get what I want from this world.  Furthermore, I have gratitude that I was educated at a place like Mines, which fostered ingenuity, innovation and fearless attitudes in its students.

When I think about the Mines athletics department and the things it has accomplished since I enrolled here in 2002, it is clear that it also subscribes to the know no limits attitude.  This attitude has most recently been demonstrated by the Mines teams competing in fall sports.

How about the football team?  Ranked number 18 in the country, the team is 3-1.  Earlier this season, sophomore quarterback Matt Brown was named a Beyond Sports Network Division II player of the week.  Last week, Matt also broke a record set by Chad Friehauf when I was still in college, for passes completed in a game.  Tomorrow the team faces Western New Mexico State, and I think I speak for every Mines student and alum, when I say, “beat the Mustangs.”

Another team joins the football team in being nationally-ranked:  Mines’ women’s volleyball team.  Last week, Mines cleaned house when it came to RMAC awards, as Melanie Wannamaker was named defensive player of the week, Jackie Stabell was named offensive player of the week and Danielle Johnson-Hazelwood was named setter of the week.  The team is 9-4 overall and plays at Black Hills State tonight.  Good luck, ladies!

While we’re talking about women’s sports, the women’s soccer team made an impressive run through the NCAA Division II tournament last season.  The team made it to the fourth round, where it ultimately lost a semi-final bid by a penalty kick to Grand Valley State.  The team is looking to build upon that impressive run this season and is currently 5-3.  They play at UC Colorado Springs tonight.

Like the women’s soccer team, the men’s soccer team also has much to cheer about.  The team is currently ranked 23rd in the nation.  This week, Tannor Randle was named the RMAC defensive player of the week.  The team is 5-1-2 and plays tonight at UC Colorado Springs.  Here’s to hoping that both the men’s and women’s soccer team bring home victories tonight.

Not to be outdone, the men’s golf team is currently ranked 7th in the nation.  Move over, Stanford and Tiger Woods, Mines is breeding the next generation of well-educated golfers.  Last season, the golf team made its first appearance at the NCAA championships.  Thus far this season, the team has placed first in two matches.  It plays again on October 1 at Sunriver Golf Club in Bend, OR.  If you all need a caddie, I may be able to get some time off of work.  There’s nothing better than a beautiful golf course.

Mines Cross Country is also off to a fast start—no pun intended.  The men are currently ranked second nationally, while the women are ranked fourth.  These rankings come after impressive showings by both teams at the Woody Greeno/Nebraska Invitational.  There, the men claimed six of the top-14 spots.  The women finished as the top Division II squad, and fourth overall, placing only below Division I squads.  The teams’ next races are tomorrow at Oklahoma State University.  Here’s wishing them an impressive showing in Stillwater.

This is an exciting time to be a Mines student, alumnus and supporter of Mines athletics.  When I started at Mines ten years ago, many believed that while Mines educated incredibly competent engineers, it could not breed winning sports programs.  Clearly, these naysayers did not know about Mines’ “no know limits” attitude.  Not only is Mines capable of educating tomorrow’s innovators, it is putting today’s winners on the field.  As someone who spends a lot of time covering collegiate athletics, and subsequently, NCAA scandals, I frequently boast about being a Mines grad.  That these students are able to accomplish these athletic feats whilst pursuing rigorous degrees, speaks loudly to the Mines spirit.

Thank you all for your time today.  I wish the best of luck to all Mines student-athletes and coaches for a successful season.  When you know no limits, you can achieve anything.

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