Tebow to the Jets & Other Sports News

It’s a pretty fair statement that since Rex Ryan took over the Jets 3+ years ago, they’ve becoming the most entertaining  (good & bad way) football team in the NFL.  A cast of characters with egos stretching through the roof, a quarterback who’s more concerned about how he looks on the GQ Magazine cover than throwing more touchdowns than interceptions, and a receiving corps that made up of criminals. The signing of Tim Tebow only adds to the intrigue and, without a doubt, this signals the end of the Mark Sanchez experiment in NY.  Rex Ryan and Mike Tannebaum can continue to say that Sanchez is the starting quarterback and there will be no quarterback controversy in NY.  Deservingly so, he should be the starting quarterback as he led them to 2 playoff appearances in his first 3 seasons.  How many quarterbacks have done that in their first few seasons in the league? However, his touchdown to interception ratio is terrible and he now has the most popular football player in the league stomping on his heels.  Tebow has the number 1 selling NFL jersey and makes the most of his opportunities.  He won’t publicly bash or antagonize another player, but in his mind, he knows he is the better football player who should be starting for the NY Jets.  There has never been a more hyped second string quarterback than Tebow and he may even be the most hyped player to come to NY.  A-Rod was huge, Jeremy Lin had his moment of fame, but Tebow is ready to turn NY into his own city.  I predict by week 5 that Sanchez will be watching from the sideline and, once again, Tebow will be proving all the naysayers wrong.

The last time Tiger Woods went out and won a PGA Tournament was nearly 3 years ago.  I’m not gonna reflect on what the last few years have been for him because if you don’t know, you’ve been living under a rock, as the most dominant athlete the world may have ever seen went down in shambles.  Many critics and the general population probably hope that Woods continues to struggle.  For the sake of the PGA, they need Woods to start dominating and consistently winning like he used to.  Woods is the PGA, and frankly he is the only player people care about.  The majority of golf fans or those who follow the sport, myself included, probably could not name the top 5 in world rankings.  If Woods goes on to win 1 major this season, it will be considered a successful year.  If he wins 2/4 or more, it’s a safe bet that the player who outclassed and left everyone else in the dust for 10+ years is officially back and atop the world rankings.

I’ve always been a Mets fan and will continue to support them, even if Bernie Madoff took all of our money.  Each and every year, we have high hopes and high expectations. Each and every year, injuries arise and our record slowly dwindles to the point of, “Fire the manager” and “Fire the GM” chats arise…in May. Once again, I have expectations for this season even being 3000+ miles away from NY and not being able to name half the roster.  As a loyal NY sports fan, I feel for Joba Chamberlain and the current issues he’s facing.  After missing the majority of last season, he will most likely be out most of this season for suffering a dislocated ankle while enjoying time with is young son.  I’ve always liked Joba even through some of the struggles he’s endured during his young career.  Here’s to a speedy recovery and hope that he’ll be able to continue to do what he loves: play baseball for the New York Yankees

***This will be the start of more consistent posts***

-Semper FI

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The Few, The Proud

Over a month ago, I submitted an article to Referee magazine.  This magazine has been in existence since 1976 and is the only monthly magazine of its kind worldwide.  I knew there were a lot of similarities between the military and refereeing and had wanted to try to express it in a way that could be appreciated.  After righting the article, I was like, “what the hell” and emailed it in.  Long story short, they liked it enough and published it.  My dad has been subscribing to the magazine for at least 10 years now, which is how I know about it.  Below is the exact article that was published. 

-Semper Fi- 

http://www.referee.com/more/Samples/non-subscribers0412/Marines.html

The Few, The Proud

A Personal Story by Daniel Cartica

The unbearable devastation that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, permanently changed our society forever. The viewpoints and perspectives of many changed and their priorities shifted. It’s hard to believe those attacks, which are still extremely vivid in my mind, took place nearly 11 years ago.

Those unfathomable attacks and the War on Terror have defined nearly half of my life. I was 13 years old and in the eighth grade when I learned of the devastation on that unforgettable day. Furthermore, the events at Ground Zero and beyond forced the government to track down those responsible, and unknowing to everyone at the time, engage in a decade-long war on terror.

That catastrophe really hit home for my mother and four siblings as my father, a chief commander with the New York City Fire Department, was a first responder on that devastating day.

My father, who fortunately came away unharmed, is also a soccer referee along with my other siblings.

He deserves the credit for indoctrinating my family into the referee world.

I will also put a lot of the blame on my father (which he will gladly accept with a smile) regarding the “You suck, ref” comments, humiliation and ridicule that I endured in my younger referee years, as I was going through the initial building blocks to gain confidence as a referee.

I used to be very hesitant to pull out that yellow or red card. As your confidence grows, you lose that hesitation and realize those “magical” cards do wonders for the outside sources that contribute to some of your frustrations on the pitch.

Following the 9/11 attacks and unbeknownst to those close to me, I would eventually be serving my country. I also came to the realization that one of the passions I acquired over the years and also a good way for a teenager to make a few bucks — officiating — would have to be put on hold for a few years. Once I swore “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic …” I volunteered to lead and command some of the finest young warriors this country has to offer.

The selflessness, initiative, tact, discipline, judgment and integrity, all extremely pertinent to one’s officiating lifestyle, have been carried off of the pitch and are easily identifiable with my current military lifestyle.

Just like in officiating, I’ve grasped that it’s no longer about you, the individual. You aren’t that very technical player who will bust his butt to ensure his team is successful, or that young Marine mechanic getting his hands dirty to find that miniscule problem on a HMMWV or MTVR to ensure the vehicle isn’t deadlined.

You don’t perform in the game or the operation. You are that figurehead who oversees that game or operation. You will rarely get credit for a job well done. It’s about seeking responsibility and taking responsibility for your actions. Furthermore, it’s about the institution and something much greater than yourself.

Ultimately, I joined the Marine Corps because I believe that officers bear the most solemn responsibility in our nation, and that was a duty that I could not, and should not, leave for others to assume. To say that I wanted that responsibility would be inaccurate and a huge understatement, as being a Marine officer is not about one’s self, wants or needs; it’s about guiding the young 18- to 21-year-old Marines fighting this country’s wars on our behalf, who put their individual pursuits and goals on the back burner.

It’s about gaining that young Marine’s respect, not because of the rank on your collar, but because you’ve earned the Marine’s trust and confidence in how you go about your business, and ultimately, that you will ensure his/her safety whether on a deployment or in a garrison environment.

The trials and tribulations that I have been through the past 13 months have been worth every bit.

Even though I still have three years left on my military commitment and have endured a vast amount of physical, mental and emotional stress, there is currently nothing else I would rather be doing and I am confident that these same officers I speak of would say the same.

With operations in Iraq and Afghanistan coming to their end, combat-based deployments might be at a standstill for the time being.

However, there will always be that next challenge and that next fight looming, and it is our responsibility to ensure that the forces as a whole are fully prepared and ready.

Just as there is always a need for officials to provide youth the mentorship and guidance to engage in athletic events, there will always be a need for brave young men and women to endure the rigorous demands in joining the United States Armed Forces.

There is no substitute for sacrifice and selflessness.

Daniel Cartica is from Pleasant Valley, N.Y. He is currently a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps and has been a soccer referee for about 12 years.

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March Madness!

So…I hope this is the start of some more consistent posts. The past few weeks have been spent getting acclimated and adjusted to the sunny and gorgeous weather of Southern, California (sounds terrible…I know).  Besides the $4.59/gallon for gas, there are no major complaints.  I will be running the San Diego Rock & Roll Marathon on 3 June and currently have started building up for that race.  This will be the first race of longer distance where I put in some adequate training.  The Orange County, CA area where I’m living is literally rolling hills and terrain.  I’ve heard a lot of bickers about this, but frankly it’s great for training! Yea, it sucks when I’m out the door at 0500 each morning and don’t really feel like going up hills, but it’s also slowly building up my strength as a runner. 

There’s been some crazy shit on the new lately – I guess everyday you check CNN, something is happening.  I can’t stand the constant debacle between Romney and Santorum and the fading Gingrich.  Talk to me in August at the Republican National Convention when the nominee is selected.  Frankly, very few people care who wins Ohio, Virginia, South Carolina, Tennessee, etc…It’s also comical the amount of money all the candidates throw away criticizing each other.  Granted, money for these guys is irrelevant.  However, I do get cracked up when they show these barbie doll like figures standing next to them at press conferences, etc…It’s usually their wives – haha – They look flawless and their only job is to be that figurehead who makes their husband look good.  Reminds me a few years ago with Cindy McCain.  I never really understood what her value or worth was.  Granted, she is a big philanthropist and has/does good things so I have to respect her for that. 

March Madness is upon us.  68 teams vying for that ultimate title.  I wasn’t able to watch many games last year because of OCS, but will being following the brackets closely over the  next few weeks.  I’m sure that any tv’s that are found at work will have the games on.  I haven’t filled out any bracket, but gonna go with Syracuse, Kentucky, Michigan State, North Carolina in the final four.  Those are all #1 seeds, but I don’t see any of those teams suffering an upset.  I don’t actually expect all 4 to make it because that never happens, but you never know.  I will go with Syracuse taking the Title! Following this, Jim Boeheim will retire and settle off in the sunset.  The grief and stress he’s dealt with this season is too much for him to handle.  His status and legacy will be lamented and there will never be another coach like him. 

-Semper Fi-

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Truly devoted to his trade and task at hand

I’ve been extremely fortunate to have been influenced by some great people throughout my 23 years on earth.  Coach Bob Jacovino ranks high up there on my list.  Unfortunately, I learned of his unexpected passing on my way out to California a couple weeks ago.  Bob was my physical education teacher, cross country and track coach, and friend during and after I graduated from high school.  He had a way of connecting with young people that was appreciated in and around the Arlington Central School District community.  There was never a day that Bob did not have a smile on his face.  On a regular basis, he reiterated what it meant to take one day at a time and appreciate those around you.  Bob was only 55 years young when he passed and the number of people he influenced over the years is endless.  A true character who was proud of what he did and never one to openly display his frustration or resent.  Thanks for the memories Coach and believing in so many!

-Semper Fidelis-

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Settled in the West Coast

Since I left North Carolina over 3 weeks ago, I’ve gone scuba diving in Honduras for 5 days, traveled over 3000 miles across the country with stops in St. Louis, Colorado, Moab, UT, Las Vegas, and than California.  The drive across the country wasn’t too exciting and I hit snow and some winter-like weather in West Virginia, Colorado, and Utah traveling through the mountains.  I-70 W through Colorado and Utah is not so fun, especially when you drive a Honda Civic and don’t have 4-wheel drive or snow tires — I think gas prices ranged from $2.93-$3.60 across the country and now in California, they’re about $4.20, and will probably run close to $5.00 in the near future.  3 other guys along with myself signed a lease at a sweet house in San Clemente, which is walking distance to the beach, 1 block from a golf course, 5 minute drive to work, and about the midway point between San Diego and Los Angeles.  It’s also about a 30 minute drive to Angels Stadium in Anaheim.  But, the best part of all is having 60-70 degree weather everyday and seeing the sunshine on a daily basis.  I was told it doesn’t really rain too much in this area. 

Scuba Diving in Honduras was a good time.  I arrived in San Pedro Sula, which is one of the two main airports in the country.  I took a bus into La Ceiba and then took an hour long ferry to an island called Utila.  There are two main tourist hotspots – Utila and Roatan – Both are islands and not too far from each other.  It’s some of the cheapest and best diving in the world and they attract visitors from all over the world.  I completed my advanced diving certification, which qualified me to dive up to 100 feet or 33m.  I had a nice Swedish dive instructor for all the dives, who lives in Sweden for 7 months and than is a instructor for 5 months out of the year.  I saw some pretty cool Marine life and the visibility in the water was endless, a far far different cry than the certification in NC.  I was fairly comfortable in the water with my wet suit on, but apparently the locals said the water is currently cold.  I guess when you’re used to diving in 50-55 degree water, anything above that is a plus.  Overall, I was glad I took some time to travel to another country I’ve never been too, even for a quick trip.  Oh yea, it was super awesome watching the Giants beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl with people from all over the world.  I was the only one in the local bar I was at with any sort of semblance to a team and was rocking my Eli Manning jersey throughout the game!

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Another cool part of the journey was stopping in Moab, UT and Arches National Park.  I’ve had an interest in Moab since I watched 127 hours and heard about Aron Rolston’s story.  He had a boulder fall on his arm and was stuck between two rock formations for over 4 days and miraculously survived by amputation his own arm with a pocket knife.  Pretty amazing story.  So I got to see some of these pretty awesome rock formations.  It’s hard to explain and pretty crazy how we have national parks like Arches.  Just massive rock structures and pretty unique formations which make for some pretty damn good pictures.  There are some really cool National Parks on the West Coast and definitely look forward to being able to visit them during my time out here.  

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I have now traveled across the country three times by myself.  Yes, I can do it and yes, I don’t have a problem with it, but I will not do it again by myself.  You can only think of so many things while driving and eventually you just get into a zone and a couple of hours later, you don’t even remember how you got to your current location which probably isn’t good. 

More to come…Standby

-Semper Fi-

 

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Entering the Operating Forces!

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve written here, so standby…

13 months of training, from OCS to TBS to Logistics Officers Course (LOC) has reached a finishing point.  Although you never stop learning, which is true with any job, it feels good to get out of Training Command (TECOM) and get out to my unit at Camp Pendleton.  Have I actually learned anything over the past 13 months or has the plethora of information that was thrown our way been exactly that? Just information that was thrown our away? I’ve learned a lot, but there is no way in hell to fully prepare for what lies ahead until I am in that position.  First Battalion Fifth Marines, located in the northern part of Camp Pendleton, just south of San Clemente is where I will call home for the foreseeable future.  It’s an historically rich unit that has fought in every major battle over the past 100 years.  Realistically, I would say that I will be with that unit for the next 3 years, but with the Marine Corps constantly changing and the entire Department of Defense downsizing, there are no guarantees or certainties.   I have no doubt that the first few weeks and even first few months will be chaotic and stressful, as I try to grasp and learn my job while constantly being bombarded and tasked out to do other things.  All in all, everything that will be done is to prepare for combat.  Whether it’s Afghanistan or elsewhere, the principles will not change.  You train to fight!

The past few weeks at LOC here in the lovely Jacksonville, NC were preparing and executing our culminating event: week long field exercise.  We were given a detailed scenario where my class had to establish and maintain a Combat Service Support Area (CSSA) for five days, while executing convoy resupplies to forward operating troops. There were many things going on at once, including maintaining the Command Operations Center (COC) and being prepared to brief higher ranking officers at any moment.  I had to brief a couple of times and it was definitely a great learning experience, even if there were more negatives then positives.  We maybe got 10-12 hours of sleep the entire week, but overall it was a good experience and hopefully some of what was learned will carry over to the fleet. 

Over the past 13 months, I’ve trained with a variety of fellow Lieutenants from all over the country.  After each stage in training, especially after TBS, the majority goes their separate ways with different MOS and different training locations and eventually duty assignments.  There are a few that I’ve gotten to know a bit more then others.  Ross Peter, hailing from the confines of Pittsburgh, PA and I have been together for all 13 months! I am not sure if there is anyone from our OCC 206 class that was in the same OCS platoon, TBS platoon, and MOS class.  This son of a bitch and I fortunately get along and have had some good times the past 13 months.  Although we did not end up with the same duty assignment, as he will be with an infantry battalion in Hawaii and I’m with an infantry battalion in California, I am sure that our paths will cross again on many occasions.  Two of the things I’ve picked up about Ross (besides the fact that he likes to drive vehicles more destined for the opposite sex): 1) He only lifts back and biceps in the gym 2) He has been able to name every damn animal we’ve come across, especially the one’s in the air (and no that is not an understatement) — “I’m warning you Ross” “Yea Dude” 

In addition, Robert from Colorado Springs, CO has made me laugh more then anyone I’ve encountered.  We went through TBS together and also sat next to each other in LOC.  He will be heading overseas to Okinawa, Japan and assigned to an Engineer Battalion.  A New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees fanatic, this dude no doubt in my mind could have a successful career doing broadcasting or stand-up comedy.  A fearless and selfless human being, who is always trying to better himself, brings the positive light and court jestership through thick and thin.  “Don’t Believe all the hype” “Trailbrazen” 

Patrick, from Orlando, Florida, a fierce competitor and reliable human-being has helped to keep me on my toes.  A positive reinforcer, who is not afraid to tell me when I am being an asshole or how it is will also be heading off to Okinawa, Japan as part of the wing.  He is a great family man, who was almost shot by me in my initial days utilizing the M9 pistol, and has constantly supported me through my running endeavors.  He was the architect behind my 62.5 mile adventure.  In addition, his love for Blake Lively and “The Chive” cannot go unsaid. 

These are just a few who have been a part of the past 13 months of training.  I know I will stumble upon these gentleman and look forward to visiting them at their locations.  In the meantime, I will be enjoying some scuba diving and watching the Giants take down the Patriots in Honduras for 5 days, prior to heading out to California.  Safe travels to my fellow Marines wherever your destination takes you.  

-Semper Fi- 

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Weymouth Woods 100K Trail Race

I decided a few weeks ago that I would take a stab at running in a 100k (62.5 miles) race.  Why? Probably because I was ready for that next challenge and this was a spontaneous adventure/risk that seemed like a good fit.  With very little training, my longest run being 65 minutes since the Marine Corps Marathon, and no ultra experience, I really had no idea what to expect.  I found this race and contacted the race director to see if I could get a spot.  She said the race was already maxed out at 75 runners, therefore I had to use the sympathy card to gain entry.  So…here I was on the starting line this past Saturday with 76 other adventure-seekers at 0800.  The majority of these folks would be running into the wee hours of the day with head lamps on.  

This course in Southern Pines, NC consisted of 14, 4.47 mile loops of rolling terrain with plenty of roots and tree stumps sticking out, enough to fall, break or twist an ankle.  I somehow managed not to go down once, but witnessed plenty of people meet the ground.  There were two aid stations, one at the beginning of each loop and the other about half-way through the loop.  I had my support crew supply me with water, gatorade/powerade, half pb&J sandwich, part of a power bar pretty much every time I came around.  It was literally finish the loop, walk about 30-40 feet shoving food into my mouth and drinking as much as I could and then continue with the next lap.  There was probably no more then a minute gap between finishing one lap to starting the next.  I knew that if I stopped, especially towards the latter portion of the race, my legs would lock up and it would be much harder for me to gain any type of rhythm back.  Throughout the day, I don’t think I took in enough food, but knew that I was properly hydrated because I pissed about 10-12 separate times and it was clear every time! 

I ran the first three loops with some of the other racers, and then had Ross, Patrick, Andrew, Matthew alternate laps every, helping me to maintain some sort of pace and morale.  Ross and Andrew each ran 3 laps, Patrick ran 2, and I think Matt ran 1.5-2? I ran the 14th lap on my own, crossing the finish line in 9:08:19 in third place.  It would have been a bit more difficult if I didn’t have these guys there to run with.  The winner was about ten minutes in front of me and the second place finisher was less then 3 minutes.  In a 62.5 mile race, that gap is pretty short and I like to tell myself that I could’ve have won the damn thing if I wasn’t conservative, being my first race of this magnitude.  It’s probably a good idea not to disclose to those two gentleman who finished in front of me that I’ve only been running 20-30 mile weeks and haven’t done any long runs. I knew they were both “die-hards” because they both had fanny packs and were taking gels, etc…The guy who came in second was drinking coconut water every lap so I knew he had his replenish plan down to a science.  

For the most part, my lap splits were relatively consistent.  My goal coming in was to hover around the 9 minute mile, but like I said, I didn’t really know what I would be able to maintain.  I ended up average about 8:45/mile and I blame Andrew for my splits that were over 9:00, as he was concerned about my personal well being and finishing the race.  My first marathon split was 3:46 and the second one was probably somewhere in that range.  I posted my splits below and a link to the race results — 

Overall, it was a great day.  I came in knowing that my body would be in a lot of pain and extremely sore for at least 5 days after the race.  I can confirm that as my quads, IT Bands, upper back, and calves are hurting.  I don’t think I have any nagging injuries, just soreness and walking up/down stairs is not fun — I had planned on drinking a lot of beer that night, but was only able to drink 2 beers, as my body was completely drained and just wanted to sleep.  That was probably a good thing as alcohol would’ve made me dehydrated.  I don’t know what my next race will be, but know that it won’t be for a while (I say that with a grain of salt).  I think someday I would like to complete a 100 miler or a 24 hour race, but do know that I will need to train for this.  Honestly, I am not sure how I got through this race with very little training – I think I have the ability to keep pushing my body and maybe the longer the race, the better.  I met some pretty interesting/unique individuals on Saturday, who seem to all have that same fire/spark to push farther and farther.  I personally don’t think there is any limits to what one can do — Just mind over matter -

-Semper Fi-   

http://www.etinternet.net/~runrbike/WW2012_SPLITS.HTMImage

 

 3 Daniel Cartica M/23 14 8:46/M 62.580 9:08:19.20
                                                                      Lap   1           37:54.05     8:29/M     4.470     37:54.05
                                                                      Lap   2           37:52.60     8:28/M     8.940   1:15:46.65
                                                                      Lap   3           37:07.05     8:18/M    13.410   1:52:53.70
                                                                      Lap   4           38:17.95     8:34/M    17.880   2:31:11.65
                                                                      Lap   5           37:12.40     8:19/M    22.350   3:08:24.05
                                                                      Lap   6           37:53.55     8:29/M    26.820   3:46:17.60
                                                                      Lap   7           41:14.15     9:13/M    31.290   4:27:31.75
                                                                      Lap   8           38:55.50     8:42/M    35.760   5:06:27.25
                                                                      Lap   9           40:00.35     8:57/M    40.230   5:46:27.60
                                                                      Lap  10           40:06.85     8:58/M    44.700   6:26:34.45
                                                                      Lap  11           40:01.30     8:57/M    49.170   7:06:35.75
                                                                      Lap  12           40:19.15     9:01/M    53.640   7:46:54.90
                                                                      Lap  13           41:04.65     9:11/M    58.110   8:27:59.55
                                                                      Lap  14           40:19.65     9:01/M    62.580   9:08:19.20
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