Week One of Colts Camp: Test the Monster

Colts Training Camp Anderson, Indiana

Colts Training Camp
Anderson, Indiana

They’re back at it. Or, at least…they were.

The Indianapolis Colts got their first break since starting training camp at Anderson University last week. They resume practice on Wednesday. And so far, we’ve learned a few things.

The monster is assembled. General Manager Ryan Grigson spent the offseason adding pieces. Now, it’s time to make it work.

They’re testing it in different conditions: hot (over the weekend) and cool (on Monday). And they already found a part that doesn’t fit. The Colts’ mantra this year is “decide.” Apparently, someone decided wrong.

The team released running back Chris Rainey on Monday for violation of team rules. Head coach Chuck Pagano wouldn’t elaborate, calling it an “in-house deal.” But he did say it was unfortunate. Especially considering the loss of Vick Ballard for the season (again), this time with a torn Achilles.

The Colts running game, which started out as a three-headed monster is now down to two heads (and minus a spare). A bright spot says Pagano, is Ahmad Bradshaw, who he calls the total package.

“He can do everything our offense asks for. He’s a great runner, he has great vision, great sightlines, he can block, he’s tough, he’s great on third downs, he understands protection, he can pick up blitzes, he understands that. He’s a great receiver out of the backfield, so he’s a complete back.”

-Coach Chuck Pagano on Ahmad Bradshaw

And…he’s healthy, after missing the majority of last season with a neck injury. So, maybe we can count Bradshaw as a head and a half.

Andrew Luck (let’s just call him the brain) is back and looking better than ever. He made strides last year, working with his former Stanford offensive coordinator, Pep Hamilton (now in the same position with the Colts), reducing turnovers, and increasing his overall football knowledge. Pagano says Luck is progressing right on schedule.

“He’s a got great command in the huddle. He’s managing bad plays, (he) can call certain things at the line of scrimmage. The game is slowing down for Andrew, the identification, getting us in the right place, getting out of a bad place, he’s further ahead than he’s ever been.”

And with the return of tight end Dwayne Allen, Luck has even more options at his fingertips. Allen called this Colts offense “more exotic.” Luck laughed off the terminology, saying it’s really about matchups.

“A Fleener, a Dwayne Allen, the wide receivers we have, the running backs…the ability for those guys to line up…Dwayne can do a lot…a lot of stuff. And maybe, not the norm. It’s not the same formation you’ll see or the same play you’ll see every time.”

-Colts quarterback Andrew Luck

There is still much work to be done, tough decisions to be made, and more potential obstacles to overcome. But it’s starting to come together. The monster is slowly taking shape.

And for all we don’t know yet, there’s one thing we do…

This monster has the heart of a winner.

And it won’t be satisfied with anything short of a championship.

Go Colts!

Lance Stephenson Just Wasn’t That Into Us

2014-06-30-Stephenson-free-agency

I woke up Wednesday morning to a familiar ding on my phone. Breaking news. Hopefully, no one got shot…

As my sleep-weary eyes tried to make out the headline, I breathed a sigh of relief.

Pacers Lance Stephenson signs 3-year, $27M deal…

Oh, thank God that’s over.

Wait…

With the Charlotte Hornets?! Whaaat???

My first reaction was denial. This can’t be true. He wasn’t even supposed to meet with them until today. How is this even possible?

Then, I was confused. Now, I’m no math wizard…but 27 million seems like less than 44 million to me. Am I wrong here?

As a woman scorned, I moved quickly into anger. Why would he do that? Did he even try to negotiate with the Pacers? We supported him. We defended him. We stood by him when no one else did. We loved him before he was famous. We watched him grow up. We forgave him when he acted like a jackass. Over. And over. And over again…

And in the end, he left us. For a less attractive woman. With less money.

Maybe it wasn’t about us after all. Maybe this was just Lance being Lance. Putting himself first. Taking care of number one. The bad boy who wasn’t any good for us all along.

Well, that Lance is someone else’s problem now.

We’ve been through worse. We got over Peyton Manning (sort of). We can sure as hell get over Lance Stephenson.

I have to be honest, though. I am a little hurt. I thought it was more than that. I thought we meant more to him.

I was wrong. It’s not the first time. And it won’t be the last.

The funny thing about sports is that even after you’ve grown up, married, and settled, you get to relive the drama of relationships through your sports teams and the players you don’t have actual relationships with. Yet, somehow…the pain is real.

But, as always…I will survive.

Go on now go, walk out the door…

Just turn around now…

‘Cause you’re not welcome anymore…

Weren’t you the one who tried to hurt me with goodbye

Did you think I’d crumble

Did you think I’d lay down and die

Oh no, not I

I will survive…

And in the end, the lesson is the same. Surround yourself with the people who want to be there.

I was a Lance Stephenson fan. But more than that, I am a Pacers fan.

Go Pacers!

Coby Fleener. Ladies Man. But Not the Way You Think.

Colts tight end Coby Fleener with members of the Blue Ladies

Colts tight end Coby Fleener with members of the Blue Ladies

You could say Indianapolis Colts tight end Coby Fleener is a bit of a ladies man.

It has nothing to do with his chiseled features, his Stanford degree, his career as a professional football player, or even his boyish charm.

You see, Coby Fleener was raised by women — his mom and his sister. He’s always put them first. And now, he’s got another woman in his life, his wife Paige.

Fleener was invited to speak at the fourth annual Blue Evening for the Blue Ladies group, the official female fan club of the Colts.

Jimmy (Mad Dog) Matis interviews Coby Fleener during the Blue Evening at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center

Jimmy (Mad Dog) Matis interviews Coby Fleener during the Blue Evening at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center

And he had us at the opening video when he said: “The ladies in the room are probably a huge reason why the Colts fan base is so special.”

Fleener says there’s a level of responsibility that comes with wearing the horseshoe on a daily basis. And it’s something he takes seriously.

“Going from a two-win team to what we are now, I think the people who have stuck with us really deserve the credit that they’re due.”

-Coby Fleener, Colts tight end

These days, Coby Fleener is doing more than taking time to interact with female fans. He’s joined the fight to protect women everywhere from one of the most horrifying and least publicized crimes in the world: the human sex trade.

Imagining the women in his life being enslaved in unspeakable conditions made Fleener want to talk about it as much as he could. “It really, really pulls me to say, ‘I’ll do anything to make this stop.’”

Coby and Paige had the opportunity to meet the founder of the A21 Campaign in March. His wife was equally moved to help spread awareness.

“You don’t really know this is going on…so, I think doing the research, being aware, reading about it, spreading the word, just so that people know this is still a problem and many people are affected by it.”

-Paige Fleener

The Blue Ladies raised almost $4,800 for the A21 Campaign during their Blue Evening and they will continue to do so during fundraising events throughout the season.

Coby Fleener loves women.

And it’s safe to say, the feeling is mutual.

Go Coby!

And…Go Colts!

For information on how to join the Colts Blue Ladies, go to the Colts.com and click on fan clubs. To support the A21 Campaign, visit their website.

 

Time for Broad Ripple to Grow Up

Broad Ripple Village is an arts, shopping, and nightlife community located along the White River and Central Canal, six miles north of downtown Indianapolis. And like so many places, it is at a crossroads. Broad Ripple started out as one thing, evolved into another, and now…it has to decide what it wants to be as a grown up. Otherwise, it runs the risk of letting others decide for it.

My husband and I moved to Broad Ripple in 2005. I had recently moved up from Birmingham, Alabama. We were dating, talking marriage, and looking for houses. Michael took me to Broad Ripple for lunch and to walk along the Monon Trail. I fell in love immediately. A new development was going up. They were European-style townhomes nestled in along the trail, next to the Indianapolis Art Center and the White River. It was perfect. We signed a contract immediately and moved in the following year, just a few months after we were married. Happily ever after!

During those early years, we took advantage of everything Broad Ripple had to offer. We rarely drove, walked to dinner, along the trail, and enjoyed the happening nightlife, sometimes into the early morning hours. We walked home after dark without thinking twice about crime.

Then, life changed. We settled happily into married life and spent more time traveling and less time in the bars. Broad Ripple was also changing. We heard more about muggings, violence, and gun crimes…all of it after dark and most of it in the late night, early morning hours.

A few summers ago, it got bad. Real bad. The shootings downtown started popping up in Broad Ripple — one in daylight along the Monon Trail. The crown jewel of our city, the Indianapolis Metro Police Department responded by flooding the trail with cops (it was also an election year). I couldn’t go for a walk during broad daylight without seeing several police officers along the trail. And I wasn’t complaining. I made a point of smiling at them, waving, and saying hi. I wanted them to know I was happy to see them.

This summer, I see a cop here and there, but not regularly. In the meantime, the crime is still rampant. Just this week, a few women walking after hours were approached by a vehicle with two males who pulled a gun and demanded their purses. Then, in the early morning hours after the Fourth of July, came the headline we all dreaded…but knew was coming: 7 people shot in Broad Ripple. One in critical condition.

Broad Ripple Village started out as a seasonal playground, where wealthy Indianapolis residents kept summer cottages along the White River. Then, in the 60’s, it became a happening arts community and hippy hangout, the remnants of which are still here. But, it’s the adolescent phase it’s now in that concerns me.

Broad Ripple doesn’t seem to have a clear idea of who or what it wants to be. And what is happening now, mostly in the after hours, is not the Broad Ripple that I know and love.

Residents and business owners watch helplessly as the night scene (and all that goes with it) takes away from the image and the reputation of our upscale, relaxed, and vibrant community. One we pay high taxes to live in.

It’s time for Broad Ripple to make a decision. Who’s it going to be? What’s it going to be? Not deciding is no longer an option. That alone is making a decision…a decision to let others decide for it. And we can already see where that’s going…

Don’t force the hand of those who love to live and work in Broad Ripple. Because some of us don’t want to move to Carmel like everyone else.

Broad Ripple. Sophisticated urban living.

But only during the day.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Opens Solar Farm

IMS President Doug Boles (with partners from IPL, SunWize Technologies, and Blue Renewable Energy) cuts the ribbon on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Solar Farm

IMS President Doug Boles (with partners from IPL, SunWize Technologies, and Blue Renewable Energy) cuts the ribbon on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Solar Farm

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has always been on the cutting edge of technology. Founded by Indianapolis businessman Carl Fisher in the early 1900’s, IMS was developed as a proving ground for new technology – the automobile.

Fast forward to Tuesday, July 1, 2014. IMS President J. Douglas Boles cuts the ribbon on the new Indianapolis Motor Speedway Solar Farm, located on 68 acres adjacent to the back stretch of the 2.5-mile oval track.

IMG_6725

Almost 40,000 solar panels occupy the property, making it the largest solar farm on any sporting property in the world. The panels will generate 9.0 megawatts of power for Indianapolis Power & Light (IPL), offsetting 10,288 tons of carbon annually. And taking property that was once used as storage and turning it into stored energy for a neighborhood and a community.

Boles gave me an interesting history lesson on Tuesday. As he tells it, one of his predecessors, Wilbur Shaw (hired as IMS president shortly after Tony Hulman first purchased the speedway following World War II), spent the first part of his professional career as a battery salesman pushing battery-powered automobiles in the 1910’s and early 20’s.

“So, it’s something that has sort of been in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s DNA, dating all the way back to the beginning, but this is a really nice way for us to talk about it.”  -Doug Boles, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president

From testing ground to sacred ground. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is still evolving from Carl Fisher’s vision.

“For us to take, 105 years later, his dream and change it a little bit, but still be on the front end of technology, especially energy technology, which does have a direct connection to what we do on the racetrack every day…it is nice for us to be able to be on the front end of this. And it’s something that I think our founders would be proud of.”  -Doug Boles

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Leading the way into the next century.

On the track. And off.