May 02, 2013 - 03:29 pm - Brandon Magee has been a fan favorite of Sun Devil Nation over the course of his five years in Tempe. #8 wreaked havoc on opposing offenses from his linebacker position. But there is so much more to the man that has embodied the prototypical student-athlete. He's an extremely proud Sun Devil, a leader, a family man and a hero to many grade school kids who he proactively sought out to advise on the virtue of being the best they can be in everything they do.
Last night at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism downtown campus, a 27-minute documentary, “Unbreakable", was showcased chronicling the life and times of not only Brandon's college football career, but his larger-than-life personality off the field. Master Tesfatsion, an ASU journalism student, writer for the State Press and intern for Rivals.com’s ASUDevils, followed the last several weeks of Magee's life as he prepared for the NFL combine, ASU Pro Day and an
BOOM!... Sack by #8 at Colorado.
NFL Draft party this past weekend in Newport Beach, CA. It was in in-depth look at the player, student, workout warrior and true leader that some of us have had the pleasure of meeting. As great of a job that Master and his colleagues did, it is certain that 27 minutes barely scratched the surface. I'd still love to see what ended up on the cutting room floor.
Described by friends and family as a never-quit, humble “regular” guy who has lived his life doing nothing but maximizing his God-given potential, Brandon has exceeded expectations at every turn. The documentary caught a glimpse of a person who has overcome great odds to become a star on and off the field of the ASU campus. His parents, who instilled in Brandon basic old-fashioned values, took in many of his friends from Centennial High School in Corona, CA who needed support and a family structure. Linebackers Vontaze Burfict and Shelly Lyons, Brandon’s teammates in High School and at ASU, were just a couple of the young men that the Magee family took in without blinking an eye.
Coach Todd Graham took over the ASU program for the 2012 season while Brandon was still recovering from an Achilles tendon rupture that robbed him of his true senior season. Graham knew about Magee and sought him out within 48 hours of his arrival. The things that the new coach stood for resonated with Brandon, and he immediately responded by becoming the emotional leader of his team despite doubts that Magee could return to his pre-injury form. Any time Magee was asked if he could return to his pre-injury form, his resounding response that included a larger than life smile was always, "NO. I'll be better!" And that he was during a dominant 2012 season that culminated in a 17-tackle performance against our in-state rival that almost defined who Mr. Brandon Magee is as not only a player, but an individual. Something that I was not previously aware of was that when Graham started to rally the team trailing 27-17 going into the 4th quarter, Magee stepped in and said, "Coach, I've got this." Only the players on the roster know what Magee said, but we all know the outcome of that game.
Brandon had been in contact with several NFL teams heading into the draft, and was confident that he would be taken by one of them. As the draft was finishing, Magee was left out in the cold when one name after another was called that weren't his. Shortly thereafter, he received a few calls from teams including the Dallas Cowboys who ended up offering him an unprecedented contract for a free-agent. Brandon has stated that he selected the Cowboys because of how he fit into their 4-3 defensive scheme versus the paycheck. I believe him. And the many programs that passed on him entirely will surely remember his name when he exceeds expectations and meets them on the field.
Great advocate for ASU. Great leader. Great linebacker. Die-Hard-Devil.
Here's a clip of Brandon in true form after the 2010 Territorial Cup Victory:
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Side note: The first time I met Brandon was out one night after the 2011 season when he was with his brother Angelo right after ASU’s Pro Day. I introduced myself, and Brandon did nothing but tell me about how well Angelo had done during his evaluation in front of the scouts. I've since had a number of run-ins with him off the field, and I'm not sure I've ever seen him without a smile on his face. DHD will present “Unbreakable” Documentary upon it's YouTube release in the coming week. Master's twitter handle is @MasterTes.
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Many rock songs could represent how #8 played for ASU. We chose this one, Led Zeppelin's "Achilles Last Stand" (live at Knebworth 1979). It hits hard and it's relentless. Can you think of a more appropriate cut? Post it in the DieHard Forums.
Apr 21, 2013 - 03:35 pm - “Somewhere inside, we hear a voice; our voice leads us in the direction of the person we wish to become, but it’s up to us whether or not to follow.”
Over 35,000 participants "Proved It' on Saturday morning.
Maybe the spirit of Pat Tillman was looking down from a light tower above Sun Devil Stadium with a smile on his face; just taking it all in as another "Pat's Run" unfolded in Tempe. First, he might have a laugh thinking, "Wow, all of this for me. I'm just Pat." Then, perhaps he would be proud and inspired by such a strong common bond of so many people in the community coming together like a team to make a difference in people's lives. We can only wonder.
Over 35,000 people assembled at Sun Devil Stadium on Saturday morning to participate in the 9th Annual Pat’s Run. This incredible community event continues to unite people of all different races, gender, shapes, sizes and abilities to celebrate a man who left an indelible legacy on people all over the world.
Thousands of footsteps echoed on the pavement between “A” Mountain and Tempe Town Lake. It was a calm, peaceful sound of respect and honor. You could sense the will and determination of the runners as they passed by, some much more capable than others.
Sun Devil football players greeted runners at the finish line.
In what has become an annual tradition at Pat's Run, the ASU Sun Devil football team lined the rail leading up to the finish line right at the 42 yard line of Frank Kush field. They high-fived runners who made it a point to veer to their side of the home stretch and roared in applause as some youngster's finished with the adults (choosing to take the hard way instead of the .42 mile kids race) or in support of the elderly or handicapped that proved it by participating. Then there were the service men who ran the race in full fatigues and gear, many hoisting the American flag. Coach Todd Graham and some of his coaching staff also participated in the run, including former Sun Devil receiver and current ASU coach, Aaron Pflugrad.
Talking with Pflugrad after the race, he shared some thoughts on Tillman. “Pat inspires not only our football team, but the whole valley and country for what he stood for.” He also added, “The thing I took from him is everything in life he did with passion. Going all out in all aspects of life and not just being a football player.”
Yesterday, that sentiment was reflected by thousands as the Legacy of Patrick Daniel Tillman lives on in those who knew him or came to know about him and the life he led.
It was a good day in Tempe. View the "Pat's Run" Photo Gallery.
Apr 19, 2013 - 01:17 pm - When Coach Todd Graham first grabbed hold of the reins of the ASU football program after the 2011 season, he incessantly spoke words like "character", "discipline", "honor", "pride" and "passion" almost to a point that it became rhetoric. He recounted names from Sun Devil lore like Frank Kush, John Jefferson, Terrell Suggs, Danny White, Randall McDaniel and yes, one Patrick Daniel Tillman. But here's the thing Devil fans; after a single season in Tempe, he has all of us as optimistic about any upcoming season as I can recall in my lifetime as an ASU fan. And both the program and fan base have bought in. It is no longer rhetoric. And as of now, there is a practice jersey that honors only one of the above mentioned ASU players.
In what was initially not fully understood or presented to many fans last season, Coach Graham decided to bestow upon any individual on his team the honor of wearing the #42 camouflauge practice jersey who shows the same heart and soul that Pat Tillman displayed. There are a number of great athletes on the current roster who can compete with the best on the football field. But Pat (1997 Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year - for whom the award has since been named after) displayed exceptional character not only on the field, but in the classroom, community and among his peers.
As of last season, only Safety Alden Darby had briefly worn that #42 practice jersey. However, during the 2013 Spring Camp, the jersey was awarded to DL Will Sutton, who had not been given the honor during his consensus All-American 2012 season. When asked about what the jersey meant to him, Sutton admittedly stated that he didn't think the practice of wearing the jersey would continue because it had been so long since his predecessor held it, or that he fully understood the weight of the tribute. Being from southern California, Sutton was only slightly aware of the "legend" of Pat. After his first practice in the jersey, Sutton stated that he earned it by "Working real hard, getting good grades and doing everything off the field also." He continued with, "I didn't know too much until I got out here and heard what people who knew (Pat) said about what he stood for. It's an honor." There was no mention by him of sacks or tackles for losses, but as a Sun Devil Nation we can recognize that Sutton embodied the spirit of Pat as much outside the lines as he did under the bright lights on Saturday nights.
One of Coach Graham's greatest quotes referencing the jersey is, "That ain’t just some deal. You're going to EARN that. And hopefully you've earned the right to keep it tomorrow." Clearly, our fearless leader understands what Pat was about. It’s never about having a great moment, day, week or season. It’s about living a life that means something. And regardless of a life being cut way too short, Tilly knew that life was a marathon and not a sprint. Coach Graham also said throughout that there were a number of players who were very close to earning the right to wear that jersey. If it were up to him, there would be a whole roster full of student-athletes to achieve that stature, but we know that bar was set higher than most could ever achieve.
The PT-42 Crew (Sutton, Irabor, Young and Darby)
As of Thursday morning, the final day of spring camp, three more Sun Devils joined Sutton in donning the #42 camo jersey. CB Osahon Irabor, Safety Alden Darby and Spur LB Chris Young had become the latest in this elite fraternity of young men. These individuals consistently EARNED the right to wear the retired #42 jersey and have clearly proven to be exceptional Sun Devils.
For those of us who knew Pat or witnessed his time at ASU, it feels satisfying that although we lost a man who embodied a life worth living, he is still very much alive in our hearts and on the fields in Tempe. We can only hope that our young representatives of ASU and Sun Devil Nation continue to do what it takes to carry that privilege into the fall as not just leaders of a football team, but as leaders of men. Are YOU a DieHard Devil? Prove it. They did.
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Enjoy the largest PAT TILLMAN Photo Collection
Pat overlooking Tempe atop the light tower at Sun Devil Stadium
Apr 08, 2013 - 11:06 am - The “sleeping giant” at Arizona State University isn’t the football team anymore, it’s the Sun Devil Club.
For those not familiar, the Sun Devil Club is the main fundraising arm that supports student-athletes and the growth and development of ASU Athletics. When more small individual contributions occur, great things will happen.
All successful college athletic programs have generous and consistent support from their fans and alumni, and the key is to have everyone involved at some level. Contributions come in small and large amounts and new members can join the Sun Devil Club for as little as $10 per month.
The Lifeblood of Championship Athletic Programs at Arizona State
There are thousands of ASU fans that have already made the choice to give back and do their part to support ASU Athletics. With over 300,000 alumni worldwide, the Sun Devil Club is just starting to scratch the surface.
We met with Gabe Cagwin, the Associate Athletic Director for Development, to determine where the organization is currently at, and where they want to go.
“The Sun Devil Club is committed to providing a first-class experience for our student-athletes and donors,” Cagwin said. “Without the generous support from our loyal donors, our student-athletes would not have the opportunity to receive a top 75 public university education or play in some of the country’s top facilities which are available at ASU.” Cagwin also added, “Because of our donors, we are enrolling the best and brightest student-athletes in the world and competing for national championships. So it is important for us to show our appreciation and give our donors an experience that they are excited about and want to share with their family and friends.”
Along with that clear mission, there are a number of goals and initiatives that they are working towards in the Sun Devil Club. Some of them include:
1) Doubling the currently active 10,000 memberships. 20,000 Devils who put just $10 behind their program equals an additional 2.4M annually toward the cause.
2) Increasing philanthropic gifts to the SDC by 30%.
3) Building a network of volunteers to help with referrals, renewals, and the promotion of Sun Devil Athletics across the state of Arizona and throughout the nation.
4) Enhancing current stewardship efforts through outreach, communication and the Sun Devil Club's brand development.
Speak Victory and Join the SDC for as little as $10 per month.
Other priorities are to continue preliminary fundraising work on the Sun Devil Stadium campaign and to amplify the current sport-specific fundraising. If you have a specific area where you would like your contribution to go, simply include that in your comments on registration form.
DieHard Sun Devil fan and Sun Devil Club member Justin Prestegard added, “When ASU Fans and the Sun Devil Club are on the same page, it will build its revenue so fast we will have more freedom to grow exponentially.” He also added, “I think it’s safe to say that ultimately we all have the same dream for ASU Athletics, to be self-sustaining, operate in the black each year and get the booster support that can keep it growing. Now let's take the next step.”
So take a look in the mirror Sun Devil fans and ask yourself, “Can I manage $10 or can I cut out one pizza or a few coffees a month?
While it takes just $10 a month or $100 a year, the message you send to the Athletic Department is what is most important. Your $10 a month and mine are a solid investment in a championship athletic program.
This is by far the #1 easiest move you can make to “speak victory” and become officially involved. Take less than 5 minutes to become a member now, then slap the official Sun Devil Club sticker on your car to send a message to fellow fans that you are “all in.” Tweet about it. Post to Facebook. Spread the word, and tell another Sun Devil.
Don't join the Sun Devil Club for the benefits, the obligation or your conscience. Join because you're a DieHard Sun Devil.
Click here and Join Now
Tweet about it. Post to your Facebook. Tell your family and tell your Sun Devil friends. Prove it anyway you can!
Apr 05, 2013 - 11:10 am - Hollywood merged with Sun Devil Nation on Thursday night in Downtown Phoenix.
Flash bulbs were popping creating an exciting buzz in the air as ASU students, athletes and faculty hit the red carpet dressed to impress in celebration of the 2nd Annual Pitchfork Awards at the historic Orpheum Theater.
The historic Orpheum Theater in Downtown Phoenix.
Sun Devil students continue to do amazing things inside and outside the classroom. The Pitchfork Awards celebrate the best ASU student accomplishments and their wide variety of outstanding work throughout the past year. It brings the entire Sun Devil Community together on one special night to recognize and celebrate their achievements.
ASU student and superfan Obafemi Oso, who was proud to be part of the event added, “The Pitchfork Awards are part of developing the ASU culture and celebrating the things we do as students and as a community together. I’m excited to see this thing continue to grow.”
The overall driving force of the event was the impact that Sun Devils are having on the community through service, academics, clubs, athletics, and entrepreneurship. All good stuff.
Coach Herb Sendek getting ready to walk the red carpet.
Coach Herb Sendek, who was in attendance to present an award said, “It’s really exciting to have this event at a big time venue like the Orpheum Theater, and I’m having a lot of fun with the 942 Crew that supported us so well all season.” Sendek also pointed out, “Our student attendance was way up this year and a big reason was the spirit of the 942 Crew.” The 942 Crew was also a finalist for the Sun Devil Group Spirit Award.
All-American Will Sutton, who won the award for Outstanding Male Student Athlete got the crowd fired up during his acceptance speech. Sutton told everyone, “Thank you for all the support. Come out and support us next year so we can take y’all to the Rose Bowl.”
However, this was not only about athletics, it was about every Sun Devil student who is working hard in the classroom and having an impact on the community. “ALL IN” doesn’t apply to football only.
DieHard Undergrads and members of the 942 Crew.
Dan Turbyfill, a DieHard Sun Devil fan and a faculty advisor for the College of Public Programs added, “For the second year, I’m blown away by the participation and I’m excited about the Pitchfork Awards program. It really has a sense of Hollywood about it with the red carpet and Sparky out here. I’m very proud of all the nominees and this program has definitely evolved.”
There is no doubt that the annual Pitchfork Awards will continue to inspire students and set the tone for more accomplishments in the coming year.
The Hardware the winners took home.
2nd Annual Pitchfork Awards Winners
Outstanding Male Student-Athlete – Will Sutton
Outstanding Female Student Athlete – Shelby Houlihan
Sun Devil Spirit Award (Individual) – Jared Cooper
Sun Devil Spirit Award (Group) – Downtown Devils Advocates
Best Educational Program – Camp Sparky
Changemaker Award for Group Service – Community Service Coalition
Outstanding Teacher Award – Nisarg Patel
Outstanding Advisor Award – Chad Mcallister
Outstanding Student Leader – Holly Vins
Outstanding Emerging Leader – Miguel Lopez
Outstanding Graduate Student Leader – Garrett Friedrich
Most Promising New Student Organization – ASU Global Brigades
Outstanding Graduate Student Organization – GPSA
Outstanding Undergraduate Student Organization (ASU) – HCSAC
Outstanding Undergraduate Student Organization (Independent) – Alpha Phi Sigma
Outstanding Sustainable Project – Vicente Solis & Rigoberto Polanco
Well Devil Project Award – HCSAC
Outstanding Sport Club – Hip Hop Coalition
Best Entertainment Program (under 500 attendees) – Parhanormal Activity
Best Entertainment Program (over 500 attendees) – RHA Tiki Luau
Best Program Celebrating Campus Diversity – Winter Warmth
Best Recurring Program – Devils in Disguise
Changemaker Entrepreneur Award – Nisarg Patel
Changemaker of the Year – Jared Doles
Best Live Performace – Hip Hop Coalition
*Follow The Pitchfork Awards on Facebook and Twitter
Mar 28, 2013 - 07:42 am - Marie Tillman at the Tillman Center
ASU News recently reported that both Marie Tillman, former wife of Pat Tillman, and Anthony Robles, ASU Wrestler & National Champion, recently spoke at an ASU Alumni event. The luncheon was moderated by Paola Boivin, Sports columnist for AZCentral.
Both Marie and Anthony talked about their life experiences that led to newly published books. Marie’s book, The Letter: My Journey Through Love, Loss, and Life was published in June of 2012. It covers her long relationship with Pat, coming to terms with his death and starting over. The Letter refers to a “just-in-case” note that Pat left behind before going on his second tour in Afghanistan, where he was eventually killed by friendly fire.
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The following are two excerpts from Pat’s letter:
“It’s difficult to summarize 10 years together, my love for you, my hopes for your future, and pretend to be dead all at the same time . . . I simply cannot put all this into words. I’m not ready, willing or able.”
“I know someday you'll have the life you dream ...
And, I know this direction will ultimately lead to happiness.
However, despite what I know ...
Regardless of our direction, dreams, or path ...
I know we have each other and that I love you ...
And that's all I need to know. - Pat”
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Three months after Marie’s book was released, Robles published his own book, Unstoppable: From Underdog to Undefeated: How I Became a Champion .
ASU Alumni and Anthony Robles
“I think people think my book is all about wrestling... That’s not so. There’s some funny moments in there, some things that I went through growing up”, Robles commented. “I’m just hoping that by someone picking up that book or handing it to someone, it’ll help them through that next challenge in their life.”
Marie Tillman spoke about how she looks to people like Anthony for her own inspiration, and how cool it is to have come full circle and make a difference in other people’s lives. About ASU she commented, “I think there’s a real part of (Pat) that still lives on here.”
Robles also spoke about the university. “It’s just been an honor for me to have a relationship with Arizona State to where they support me in my speaking career and what I’m doing now, and I try to support with the things they’ve got going on with charities and the athletic teams. I’m going to be very tied-in with ASU for the rest of my life, as long as they’ll have me. I’m proud to be a Sun Devil .”
Here's a bonus video... Anthony Robles on Ellen
Links to Marie and Anthony's books:
The Letter: My Journey Through Love, Loss, and Life by Marie Tillman
Unstoppable: From Underdog to Undefeated: How I Became a Champion by Anthony Robles
DieHard Devil. Are You? Prove it.
Mar 22, 2013 - 01:35 pm - The Athletic Department AND Sun Devil Fans
This is about challenges and solutions to generate more financial support for ASU Football (& Athletics).
With the leadership of the best fans on DieHardDevil.com, we want to make a real impact on revenue instead of solely conversation & debate. This is where "Are You? Prove it" comes in.
"People do business with people they know and people they trust."
The reality is that it takes somewhat of a "leap of faith" by both the fans and the AD. The fans must trust that the Athletic Department (not just Graham) is working effectively in building a stronger program. The AD must trust the voice of the fans and that more fans will put a dollar behind the program if they do.
In my opinion, that takes a more focused effort by representatives of the AD to engage representatives of the Fan Base. Only the AD can make that happen, meaning that even though fans want to be more involved, only the AD can engage them. The remarkable thing is..... READ MORE
Mar 18, 2013 - 12:31 pm - by ASU Fans Shaun Alex Bainbridge and Mike Howell
Whatever happens with The Sparky Project and whether you’re for or against the new mascot, ASU’s Sparky, in all his forms, is an integral part of Sun Devil tradition. And he is one of the most recognizable things that is synonymous with ASU throughout the world.
The need to develop The Sparky Project so that the people can be heard is just a reminder that our university and athletic department will not take us to the next level until they improve and sincerely prioritize relationships with alumni and fans. The controversial issue caused by the unveiling of the new mascot just amplifies this challenge and deficiency for ASU. Looking back at their undergraduate experience, many ASU alumni don’t think that the school truly embraced them as students or the best group of fans who were the heartbeat of Sun Devil Stadium on Game Days. And since graduating, many don’t feel that the university cares much more unless they bring their check book. Most alumni, even those that aren’t involved or follow ASU athletics, love Sparky. He plays an important role in attracting people to events, and he is with us in good times and bad. In a unique way, Sparky epitomizes the fans who are behind their team through victory or defeat.
Based on constructive feedback from thousands of fans through public forums and social media, the Sparky decision was not handled appropriately. This was a significant and rare opportunity for ASU to send a message that they embrace fans & alumni and value their involvement. Doing so would in turn perpetuate a more valuable relationship that has become the backbone of winning athletic programs and support.
Share your Opinion in THE SPARKY PROJECT Forum
We are not discounting the work by ASU and it’s leaders, and we do not necessarily doubt their vision & agenda. Obviously, they have identified important opportunities that would coincide with some needed changes to help ASU Athletics. Many of these individuals are DieHard Sun Devils themselves. But when making significant changes to something as important as Sparky, with whom fans of all ages have an emotional attachment, they could have ensured a smoother transition and less disenfranchisement of some of the best fans in Sun Devil Nation. No one is suggesting, at least in this camp, that ASU should have sent out a mass email with an open-ended question like, “Should we overhaul Sparky: Yes or No?” But had they made some visible gestures to involve DieHard fans and the ASU community of parents, faculty, staff, students and alumni, they would have at minimum tempered the negative response. At best, they would have received valuable feedback and cooperation from important fans in making some of the decisions. There are many ways to do that which garners a separate article.
ASU has done some very good things that have put the athletic programs in a better position for success. Perhaps the best example of that is bringing in a coach that has not only reached out to people, but he has developed a brand of Sun Devil Football that has inspired virtually all fans & alumni. The program is mentoring and building strong relationships with its student athletes as not only exceptional football players but as future role models and leaders in the community. The university has successfully added the Pitchfork to ASU’s logo’s and athletic uniforms, most notably for football, to reflect a cutting-edge, innovative brand. Even the game day atmosphere has improved with more progressive visuals on the digital board and more fan-friendly music throughout the stadium, all of which builds the entertainment value of a ticket.
In the last few years, ASU’s marketing department seems to be operating like any successful business, which is ideal. They have more qualified individuals involved who have implemented some very effective, original ideas, and they have seen them through. While fans may not be consciously aware of their hard work, what they do enhances the bigger atmosphere and fan experience, which is an essential ingredient in raising the bar for Sun Devil Athletics.
But what the Athletic Department has to understand better is that their relationship with the lifeblood of the university, the alumni & fans, is the proverbial cornerstone for ASU’s success. Either they haven’t fully grasped that or they haven’t acted on it effectively. Personal relationships are not a part of the plan. They ARE the plan. Just ask Coach Graham. Anything less is simply untapped potential and overtime, it becomes a progressively difficult process.
There is a contingent of devoted alumni out there who take it upon themselves to build a stronger culture of support for the university and athletics. It’s these types of people who are on the front lines in building affinity for ASU, and they are doing many things on their own. They have built a network of relationships with fellow alumni & fans because of their love for the Sun Devils and their desire to bolster the connectivity of the fan base. That way everybody benefits.
So what’s the solution to strengthen the financial support throughout Sun Devil Nation? What allows ASU to keep & recruit the best coaches, the best professors and devoted fans in the community AND in the stands? It’s not asking alumni and fans for money. It’s about understanding and building better relationships with current fans, working together to revive apathetic fans and attracting new fans with a lot of energy. If attitudes don’t change by decision-makers and in turn the fans, we will lose. What a shame it would be to be sitting here in ten years saying the exact same thing again.
Until the Alumni Association, the ASU Foundation and the Sun Devil Club/Athletic Department do a more effective job of working together and bringing the fans and alumni on the same side of the table, the opportunities to develop more DieHard Sun Devils will be limited. Winning solves many issues, but personal relationships sustain a program in good times and bad.
At the end of the day this is a business, and a more successful Sun Devil Athletics business doesn’t prove it with effort; just like the team, it proves it with results. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, but who said that building & sustaining a Top 20 Football program ever was? It takes practice, preparation, hard work and a commitment to a higher standard. And all players must be on the same page in order to harness the true potential of fan support.
A better relationship with the alumni & fans is the real commodity. Money is the bi-product. Now is the time to Build Relationships, Save Tradition and Save Sparky.
To be heard, visit The Sparky Project and share your constructive thoughts.
Mar 15, 2013 - 06:32 pm - Share your Opinion in THE SPARKY PROJECT Forum
By DieHard Sun Devil, Russ Martin for DieHardDevil.com & THE SPARKY PROJECT
Let me start by saying, I am an Arizona Native, born and raised a Sun Devil since 1958. Just recently have I been able to support my Sun Devils by purchasing season tickets to the Football program. I also enjoy the other sports, but I have a special place in my heart for the Football program.
I can remember when I was around 6 years old and at Thanksgiving time, the Arizona Republic and Gazette would have the big story on the front page about the Territorial Cup Game, Frank Kush (my hero still) and I really enjoyed the colored cartoon figure of Sparky jabbing Wilbur (that other team's mascot) with his pitchfork. Now that was a sight to see. My Dad and I would hang out by the radio to hear all of the games, because we really could not afford to go to the home games. We had a large family of seven, and it would not be fair if just my Dad & I would go. Sparky was, and still is my most favorite mascot of all time.
I do not mean for this to sound like a threat of pulling my support, but I also hope this will not fall on deaf ears either. This Arizona State University has been doing some really great things for the past couple of years. I realize they do not have to consent with the community or student body if they want to change something, wether it be their Logos or Mascots. But it would have made more sense to me and a lot of other people than this sinister looking character is not necessarily kid friendly.
Just last year at the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco, Ca., I was so happy to finally get a great picture with my Girlfriend Nancy and Sparky at the Pep Rally. It was so awesome. Last year was the "Fork" logo. There were many fan's against that change, but they learned to support the idea because they were told that Sparky was going no where, and the "Fork" was just a slight change in the Iconic history of the ASU athletics logo. I myself really liked the "Fork" idea, but I will not support any change to my friend, "Sparky" the ASU Sun Devil Mascot, and if you ask my hero, Frank Kush his opinion, I think you know what his answer would be. I did not go to school at ASU, but I am more of a Sun Devil than anyone that wants to change my buddy, SPARKY.
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Every Sun Devil Matters, and a unified voice of fans speaks loudly. Take part in THE SPARKY PROJECT & spread the word. Take me there Now
SPARKY the Sun Devil
Mar 15, 2013 - 11:55 am - Be officially heard in THE SPARKY PROJECT Forum
By ASU Fan Dan Turbyfill for DieHardDevil.com and THE SPARKY PROJECT
The evolution of Sparky has led to pre March 1, 2013 Sparky. This has been my Sparky for many years and yes there were many iterations of him that I disliked through the years but he FINALLY arrived. Pre March 1st Sparky personified the iconic logo from 1946!
I was invited to the Sun Devil Baseball game this evening (Thursday). While I was engaged with the play on the field I was more impressed with the reaction I was seeing when Sparky came out and interacted with the Sun Devil faithful. For those of you not local, the impostor Sparky does not "debut" until the Spring Football game in April. I witnessed as people flocked to our beloved Sparky as if in an attempt to grasp that one last photo or interaction with their hero. I witnessed as an elderly man with a cane said "You are the GOOD Sparky" if that other Sparky comes around I will rearrange his face with this (as he was wagging his cane modified to look like a baseball bat). I saw as children ran to hug Sparky's leg and not let go. I saw a students welcomed Sparky to come hang with them on the lawn.
Underneath that amazing mascot suit is a dedicated student athlete. One that LOVES tradition, one that loves how Sparky is so iconic and he, as a Student has the privilege to dawn the Sparky threads at all the premier ASU Athletic events. He worked hard to get behind the Sparky mask. Taking private tumbling lessons, working out with mascots from the pro teams around the valley, ultimately trying out through a battery of physical tests and entered the fraternity of very few who can say they ARE Sparky. Then on March 1, 2013 his world changed. No longer will Sparky be viewed the same. Instead he fears being assaulted because of the outcry against this new Sparky. Gone is the iconic Sparky he so wanted to be and now, now he is going to be ridiculed and laughed at. It's ALREADY happening. He see's it on these posts. You know this new Sparky is meant to be more kid friendly... Not sure how thats going to happen when the overgrown chin inhibits his ability to LOOK DOWN to see the children. Gone will be the iconic Sparky head shake, the new head does not move, leaving the student behind the mask very stiff. Watch the video of the unveiling, notice the awkward stiffness (and NO that was not a student athlete behind that bug eyed mask). None of them had been given the opportunity.
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To see other well-written feedback from fans on this issue, please visit THE SPARKY PROJECT Forum. Everyone in Sun Devil Nation matters, and a unified voice speaks loudest. Your thoughts, feedback & ideas will be heard. DieHardDevil. Are You? Prove it.
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Mar 08, 2013 - 06:20 pm - The definition of the word character is the combination of qualities that distinguish one person from another.
“Character” is also one of the most commonly used terms in Coach Todd Graham’s vocabulary. It's the cornerstone and building block of the type of student-athletes that he wants to represent and build the future of ASU Football. Along those lines, I experienced something this week that reinforced my pride as an Arizona State Sun Devil.
With the help of Marcus Castro-Walker, the Academic Coach for ASU Football, DieHardDevil arranged an event to bring five Sun Devil players to visit with students at Loma Linda Elementary School in Phoenix. Walker, a member of Jean Boyd’s team, explained that requests like this aren’t something that the student-athletes are required to do. Considering each player’s commitment to early morning sessions in the weight room, a course-load that includes team study groups, additional time in the film room and some semblance of a social life, anyone can see why additional requests can at times be overwhelming. Walker made it a point that in the culture of this program, players give their time because they choose to.
Taylor Kelly signs autographs
The Sun Devils who stepped up & proved it on Wednesday were Will Sutton, DJ Foster, Taylor Kelly, Alden Darby and Rashad Wadood.
Once the players arrived at the school Wednesday morning, it was clear that the values that Graham emphasizes have translated to his team. The players were gentlemen, patient and accommodating to the students. They introduced themselves in each classroom and connected to the kids. Each took time to read books to the students, and afterwards opened things up for the children to talk and ask questions. If students weren’t involved with the discussion, the players would encourage them with ideas to get them engaged.
During the visit, DJ Foster had a few extra minutes between classrooms. So he took a group of 6th graders out to the playground to throw them passes. To young kids, Arizona State football players are like celebrities, and you could see how it affected them. A little later, I watched Alden Darby and Rashad Wadood interacting with some students by jumping into a game of foursquare. Taylor Kelly took extra time with a special needs student, pushing him around campus in his wheelchair. In each classroom, players signed autographs for every student that asked, and there were hundreds. The cool thing to see was how the players had smiles on their faces the entire morning and genuinely enjoyed what they were doing. Loma Linda Principal Dr. Stephanie DeMar added, "The impact of hearing how important education is from the players, along with all their hard work and perserverance, compliments the work we are doing at our school of encouraging and inspiring higher education for our students."
All-American Will Sutton has made it clear that one of his main reasons for forgoing the NFL Draft and returning to ASU this year was to complete his education. He sent that message loud and clear to a group of older students at the school. Sutton emphasized, “Coming back to ASU for my education was a big factor because you only have so many years in college, and I’m not that far from graduating. The NFL isn’t going anywhere and I wanted to get my degree.” A powerful message from one of the top players in the nation.
“Our athletes come in and teach these kids about leadership, personal identity, self-esteem and education,” said Walker. “On top of that, our players get something out of it by seeing themselves in a leadership role in the community. So not only do the children learn, but our players learn and develop also.”
DJ Foster and Will Sutton take questions from the students at Loma Linda Elementary School in Phoenix
These are all things you can’t teach. Or maybe you can…
It’s easy to talk about commitment and discipline on the field, off the field and in the classroom. But Coach Todd Graham and his entire staff have been proving it. They continue to work extremely hard at instilling a stronger identity and higher standards within Sun Devil Football. To personally watch and see these qualities within the character of these high-profile players was priceless. What they did for these kids just by showing up will be a lasting memory. Perhaps Graham is building high-character men, as much as he is building a winning football team. Maybe both are necessary to restore the Sun Devil program to it’s rightful place in the national landscape.
High-character Coaches, Players and Fans are equally important in re-establishing Sun Devil Greatness. So as a DieHard Devil, what are you doing?
Alden Darby continues the Sun Devil Legacy (pictured above is Pat Tillman)
Rashad Wadood, Will Sutton, Taylor Kelly and Sun Devils in training
Students line up for notes & signatures from DJ Foster
*For the 2013 Sun Devils, Will Sutton & Alden Darby will be Seniors. Taylor Kelly & Rashad Wadood will be Juniors, and DJ Foster will be a Sophomore.
Feb 20, 2013 - 12:46 am - Tempe, AZ – There are 942 seats in the lower bowl of the student section at Wells Fargo Arena. One group of students is making a difference by assuring that those seats are filled for every ASU basketball game.
Enter the 942 Crew.
The student-led 942 crew "Proves It."
This student-led group is made up of a committee of twenty student leaders that branch out and network with fellow Sun Devil undergrads. Each leader is required to bring three new members to each game. They sacrifice their time and energy to pack their section and make a lot of noise. The 942 Crew promotes games by handing out flyers on campus. Sometimes they’ll even bring a player along to build the support and turn-out at games. Come game time, you’ll see lots of signage including some ridiculously large head-shots bouncing around their section.
We recently spoke with Alex Arroyo, one of the leaders of the 942 Crew. “Our main goal is to get more than 942 students to every home game", Arroyo said. "We are doing that through social media and going out & personally inviting other students to come to games. Some students didn’t even realize that they can attend the games for free.”
Sun Devil Super-Fan and recent graduate, Nate McWhorter, is a founding member of the group. “The 942 crew has been an outstanding project headed by some amazing and dedicated students. They have done a great job of growing student interest in basketball by working with every little aspect of the game”, Nate said. “They put in the time and effort to ensure that they market the game, and once students are there, they do a great job of making sure it is a fun atmosphere. The core students of 942 are the champions. I think that this is a goal that the University and Athletics can strive for, and I believe the student and fan support for Sun Devil Athletics can be a formidable force.”
(video courtesy of The State Press)
These DieHard Undergrads are getting it done, and the numbers don’t lie...
The total student attendance in 2012 was 7,736. Through 17 games in 2013, it is nearly 11,000. Four home games this year saw over 1,000 students rocking the house. The average student attendance at ASU’s Pac-12 games has increased 70% to 998 compared with 585 in 2012.
Wednesday night at Wells Fargo Arena is James Harden beard night.
When asked about the impact that this organized effort is having on the team, Arroyo said, “The energy is ridiculous. It’s so motivating for the players to hear the students have a loud voice and cheer. It makes us cheer even louder. I really think we help a lot.”
Tonight, ASU basketball hosts Washington State for an 8:00 pm MT tip-off. It happens to be James Harden beard night, and the 942 Crew has something special up their sleeve. The entire student section will remain silent until the Devils score their 13th point, in honor of Harden’s jersey number. After that, plug your ears. (The Devils won the game defeating Washington State 69-57 for their 20th win on the season.)
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UPDATE, February 24, 2013: Despite the Devils 68-59 Home loss to Washington on Saturday February 23, the 942 Crew posted their biggest turnout of the season with 1,515 Undergrads. These kids exemplify Sun Devil Pride. GO DEVILS.
ASU Hoops earned their 20th Win of 2013 against Washington State on Saturday, February 23. Final score 69-57.