GLENS FALLS STATE CHAMPS!

This past Saturday, the Glens Falls Indians – my high school alma mater in upstate New York – became the Class B New York State High School Football Champions for the first time in our school’s history! Glens Falls is a proud program that has been enriched with an abundance of football talent throughout the years, and although we’ve been close, Glens Falls unfortunately was never able to take home a state title…  that is until now!  I want to congratulate this years team on an inspiring season and a historical accomplishment. We in Glens Falls are all so proud of you guys! Here are my thoughts on your amazing achievement.

To me, football is the ultimate team sport. It’s a sport where you have to put an unlimited amount of trust in each teammate who you take to the field with. With 11 teammates on the field at the same time, all trying to do their own individual jobs, it only takes one out of that 11 to come up short, for the whole team to see failure. It’s similar to the way a car works. Under the hood of each car is an engine, and that engine has to do numerous different things simultaneously in order for that car to successfully get you to your destination. If just one function of that engine fails, the car could have a serious problem. Each player on the football field is like a different function of that engine, and when you combine all of the players together, that makes up the team – which is the equivalent of the car as a whole.  In football, in some cases players even depend on their teammates to keep them physically safe. This is a tremendous responsibility, and it is crucial for every football player to know that each one of their teammates has their back on every single play. In my experiences, the camaraderie and brotherhood that is formed on the football field is one of the strongest bonds you will ever be apart of in all of sports.  That’s why I know that when the Glens Falls Indians won the state Championship this past Saturday, they did it for more than just themselves as individuals. They did for their trainers, coaches, and teammates, who have been intensely battling along side of them from day one. But what I want to tell the Glens Falls Football team right now, is that winning that state title, meant much more than they might even realize.

To all the players and coaches on this special 2016 team – I want you guys to know, that what you guys just did this season, you did for every player who ever laced up their cleats, strapped on their helmets, and took to the field with the pride of wearing that Glens Falls red and black. You guys did it for every kid who got up at 6 A.M. to climb into their filthy, sticky practice uniform, in the unbearable scorching August heat and humidity, sweating their way through those grueling two-a-days preseason training sessions. You guys did it for all the kids who were forced to watch from the sidelines with crutches under their armpits, casts around their legs, and slings gripped to their shoulders, due to injuries they suffered, grinding it out on the gridiron. You guys did it for those Friday night and Saturday afternoon victories, disappointments, and unforgettable moments… those Sunday morning aches and pains…and those inspiring team speeches and emotional senior night games. You guys did it for those young children who just put on pads for their very first time this season – who came to your games, decked out in their P.A.L jerseys and watched you guys play with stars in their eyes, cheering their little hearts out every single time you made a big play. You guys did it for the kids, myself and my little brother included, who fought, strived, and sacrificed, all for the illustrious honor of being able put on that Glens Falls Football Jersey and wear it with the utmost pride. You guys did it for the fans, you did it for the city, you did it for the region… and you did it for every single player who ever put on the Glens Falls uniform – and for that, we sincerely thank you. So hold your heads up high fellas. You’re State Champions! And no matter what, that’s something that NO ONE… EVER… EVER… CAN TAKE AWAY FROM YOU!

THANKSGIVING INSPIRATION

It took being locked away from the world, hidden behind four concrete walls, to be able to finally see things clearly.

Now… why in the world would I start out a blog about THANKSGIVING, with a statement like that? I mean, how is this random quote relevant to this wonderful holiday where we get together with our families each November to celebrate and give thanks?  To be honest, this statement on it’s own probably has very little to zero meaning for most of us. However, once I tell you this short story that I’m about to tell you, and give you the opportunity to look at life from a very different perspective, I believe that this statement will take on a very powerful meaning. A meaning that every single one of us can certainly learn from – and maybe more importantly, use as everyday inspiration.

A couple years ago I was watching a documentary about a man who was serving a life sentence in a United States Penitentiary. I don’t remember exactly what the man was in prison for, but what I do remember, is that as the cameras rolled it became disturbingly apparent to me how dreadful this forgotten man’s existence truly was. Now as I watched this documentary unfold, I understood that this was not an innocent man, and that his miserable life in prison had been thrust upon him as a result of his own bad decisions. He did not deny his guilt, and due to his criminal acts on the street, his punishment surely seemed just – but even still – as I continued watching, I couldn’t help but feel a deep sympathy for this man.  His days consisted of being locked up in a narrow cage – made up of steel bars and concrete walls – for 23 hours a day, with zero contact with the outside world. The only time he ever left his cell was for one hour of exercise each day, where he would aimlessly roam around a concrete yard (reminiscent of the yard in Alcatraz) surrounded by giant walls way too high to even attempt seeing over. The man had no living family – no children, no wife, no mother, father, sister, brother, aunt, uncle or friend on the outside to call, write, or receive a visit from. Inside his cell, he had very little to occupy his mind with. Aside from his minimal toiletries, he had nothing more than a pencil, some paper, and a couple of books. I can remember trying to put myself in this man’s shoes. To me, it sadly seemed like his life was comparable to being buried alive in a grim, dark grave, just slowly waiting to die. He had no joy, he had no hope, he had no love… he had nothing to look forward to, nothing to strive for, nothing to be happy about… he had no place to go, no way to escape, and no break from the daily torment. His life was truly a living hell, and I don’t know how any human being could survive such harsh conditions. Can you imagine waking up everyday from an agonizing nightmare, and then being forced to come to grips with the fact that that very nightmare, is in actuality your real life?? I know that I for one can’t even imagine it – nor would I ever want to.

So as I continued watching this depressing documentary, I was nearly ready to turn the channel when suddenly the interview portion of the show started up. The individual filming the show asked this incarcerated man a wide variety of questions, mostly about his former life on the street, and the crime that had landed him in prison. Although I don’t have much recollection of the answers the man gave, what I do remember very clearly is the tone in which the man gave them. Instead of speaking in a hopeless tone, he spoke in a very upbeat manner. He surprisingly spoke in a very congenial, likeable way. His demeanor also came across as very positive and upbeat. Certainly not what you would expect from a man living under the circumstances he was forced to live under. His eyes looked like the eyes of a man at peace, instead of looking like the eyes of a beaten down soul – the way that you might expect them to look. His personality was friendly and cheerful – not dead and dreadful, the way you might expect. His optimistic conduct was shocking to say the least, and the individual filming, took notice. After hitting the man with a barrage of various questions, finally the interviewer paused for a moment – taken back by this man’s positive vibe. Then in a very surprising and curious tone, the interviewer said to the man… “You seem to be at peace. Are you actually happy?” Then in a moment that I’ll never forget, the lowly man stares deeply into the interviewers eyes with a big smile and says… “Of course I’m happy. I have my health… I have my bible… and I know God loves me. I’m very blessed and thankful to have those things. What more could I ask for?” How amazing is that?? This takes us back to the first statement I made up at the top of the blog. Although it wasn’t a direct quote, throughout the rest of the interview this man discussed how it was the humbling experience of going to prison that truly opened his mind and his heart – so he could finally see clearly – and now for the first time in his life, he was truly thankful.

I’m not ashamed to say that this man’s response brought a tear to my eye. Here I go through my life always focusing on what I don’t have – whether it’s material things, talents, or money. I’m very often consumed by the negative, and I forget to focus on the many positives.  So after watching that documentary, I made a vow to myself, that I would make a consistent effort to try and remain thankful everyday for all of my incredible blessings. If this poor man, who lives in a cage everyday of his life, without friends, without family, without any material things, and without the daily freedoms that I take for granted, can be happy and be at peace in his life – then I certainly can be happy and be at peace with mine.

So today, on this day we set aside to give thanks, I want to wish you all a very special holiday. May we all remain thankful for all of our many wonderful blessings – and remember to focus on what we have, instead of what we don’t. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

MEETING BILL WALTON

jimmer-bill-walton-maxLast week I mentioned that my brother recently had the opportunity to catch up with former Celtic great and NBA Hall of Famer Bill Walton (who you can see in this picture that Jimmer recently sent me), decked out in his trademark tie dye tee-shirt as he stands next to Jimmer and his never hard to find 7 foot 3 inch teammate – who I know simply as Max. What I didn’t tell you about, was the unforgettable time when I myself had the opportunity to meet big Bill Walton in the tunnel at the old Arco Arena in Sacramento.

One of the many cool things about having a brother in the NBA is that when you go to the games, you get to enter the arena through the same tunnel that the players run through to take the floor. Never one to get star-struck myself, I grew pretty accustomed to walking shoulder to shoulder with some of basketball’s finest superstars such as Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant. In fact, when walking out of the tunnel to take my seat at these NBA games, I never knew who I might run into. Occasionally, celebrities ranging from Floyd Mayweather(who is a regular at NBA arena’s), to Drake, to Ben Stiller would stroll past me. My walks through the tunnel also would provide me with some pretty cool experiences, such as –
physically running into Russell Westbrook (who was very gracious, saying excuse me when he nearly ran me over in the hallway), to hanging out with MMA
star Urijah Faber, to even having a great conversation with New York City native and NBA strongman Ron Artest. However, with all of these really cool experiences that I was able to have in the tunnel, I would have to say that the coolest of these experiences, was the time that I met my man Bill Walton.

I remember when Jimmer was with the Kings, before one of his games I was chatting with one of the friendly security staff members at Arco Arena, when all of the sudden I heard this extremely familiar voice echoing throughout the tunnel. I turned around to see who it was, and right there standing in front of me was the legend himself – the one and only former Celtic superstar Big Bill Walton. He was coming up to shake the staff members hand whom I was speaking with, before taking to the court to call the game – as one of the Kings TV announcers. After the greeting, this staff member who I’d grown to know well, was gracious enough to introduce me to Bill. Upon hearing that I was TJ Fredette – Jimmer’s older brother – you would have thought that I was the celebrity with the way Bill excitedly reacted. Bill reached out, gave me a long firm hand shake and a smile, and said to me – “So this is the great older brother I keep hearing about.” I guess it’s fair to say I was very taken back by Bill’s reaction to meeting me. Here he is, One of the greatest NBA players of all time, a Hall of Famer, and a legend. . . and he was excited to meet me?!

We continued from there to have a great conversation for the next 15 minutes or so, until a Kings PR person had to come up and tell Bill, he’d better hurry and get to the court before the game started. Bill proceeded to talk to me for another 5 minutes – to the point where I almost felt inclined to remind him he needed to get out to the court and get ready for the broadcast.

Eventually Bill did break away and take his place behind the scores table to call the game. But all I could think of after my conversation with him was… what an amazing guy. Even with the great level of status and celebrity that he has in NBA circles, this man not only gracious enough to take the time to go out of his way to talk to me, but he also made sure that he showed a genuine interest in me as a person. He could have easily just said hi and went on his way – but he didn’t. Instead he showed me the type of respect and personal attention that made me feel like I was special. Now that really says a lot about Bill Walton as a human being in my eyes. If only we all treated the people we meet on a regular basis with that same positivity and respect, regardless of who they are and what they have accomplished in their life. I know that if we all did, this world would be such a better place.

Soon after I took my seat for the game that night, I received a text message from one of my friends who was watching the game back home. It turns out that Bill had also met the rest of my family that night in the tunnel, and when he took the air to call that game, one of the early statements that he made on air, was this – “I just had the  opportunity of meeting Jimmer Fredette’s family including his older brother TJ in the back tunnel, and I must say – it was one of the greatest moments in my life. What a special family.”

Now I know that Bill was only joking when he said “it was one of the greatest moments in his life,” and it was certainly just said in fun, but the fact is, the man displayed incredible class with how he treated us, and he left my family and I with a wonderful memory – that we will surely never forget.

Jimmer Update – Career high 51 pts.

Around 4:30 A.M. this past Friday morning (5:30 P.M. Shanghai time), while I laid fast asleep in my bed, my little brother Jimmer was just leaving his apartment in Shanghai to go to the nearby Pudong Yuanshen Gymnasium, where his Shanghai Sharks would soon be taking the court to battle the widely revered Guangdong Southern Tigers. As Jimmer stepped out of his apartment, walked by the stray dog that hangs out in front of his building (which he has named Hufflepuff), and entered the car which was ready and waiting to take him to the arena, he mentally went into his zone, focusing on nothing but the game. With a team featuring 3 very formidable former NBA players in Donald Sloan, China’s renowned Jianlian Yi, and former two time NBA All-Star (as well as Jimmer’s former Chicago Bulls teammate) Carlos Boozer, Jimmer knew that the Tigers would be his biggest challenge yet in his overseas career. When Jimmer entered the  Arena, he could tell that the vibe was very different than on any other game night up to that point. There was the kind of buzz in the air that only can truly be felt when a major event is about to take place. Jimmer is no stranger to that kind of buzz, and possibly more than anything else, it is that very kind of fuel that feeds him as an elite athlete.

So once this highly anticipated match up began, the 4,000 plus fans (just short of the arena’s maximum capacity) would waste no time in expressing their excitement with each Shark basket. Jimmer started out very patiently, similar to a boxer feeling out his opponent in the early rounds of a fight. With a bigger defender draped all over him by design, Jimmer had to strategically lull his defender to sleep before exploding towards the ball, creating just enough separation to receive passes from his teammates. After getting into the lane, creating contact, and working his way to the free throw line a couple times, Jimmer started to heat up. Then midway through the first quarter, Jimmer dribbled off of a screen and hit a tough, highly contested 3 from the top of the key. One possession later. . . Jimmer dribbles up on a fast break, stops on a dime, and sinks another contested 3 from the right wing. The crowd eats it up. They were absolutely loving it, and after Jimmer’s 2nd consecutive 3 pointer, you could hear the crowd gasp with anticipation the next time the ball was in his hands. So in typical Jimmer fashion, with the momentum all on his side and an arena full of fans ready to explode, he shows Shanghai where the term Jimmer range came from, as he pulled up and stuck a 3rd consecutive 3 pointer, this one from well beyond the ark, bringing the shark fans to their feet.

From that point on, Jimmer never let up. His dazzling drives to the basket and eye popping 3 pointers excited the crowd all night long, as Jimmer helped lead his team to a 111 – 88 victory over the Tigers, with a career high 51 points! By the end of the night, the fans were chanting MVP each time that Jimmer stepped to the foul line. Obviously this chant was all in fun, but even so, it certainly was a wonderful sign of respect, and a very congenial way for the fans to show how much they appreciated Jimmer’s amazing performance. Even NBA Hall of Famer and Celtic legend, Bill Walton, who was in the building enjoying the game Friday night, had to smile ear to ear as he watched Jimmer (who Bill knows well from his days announcing for the Sacramento Kings) put on a show. After the game, Bill, along with part time ESPN basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla, who was also in attendance, came into the Sharks locker room to chat with Jimmer, and congratulate him on a job well done.  Jimmer also had the chance to catch up with his former teammate and friend Carlos Boozer, who has always been very supportive of him. Carlos joked with Jimmer that despite wanting to win the game, he couldn’t help but enjoy the great show that Jimmer put on for the hometown fans.

In the end, this incredible performance by Jimmer sparked feelings of nostalgia for me personally. From Jimmer’s 30 point performance against Florida in the first round of the NCAA Tournament – where he lead BYU to their first tournament win since the Danny Ainge era. . . to the 49 point performance against San Diego State, in what was at that time called the biggest game in Mountain West Conference history – and in my mind, the game that birthed Jimmermania. . . to his 52 point performance in Las Vegas against a New Mexico team that had beaten them twice already that season, to his 24 point performance as a Sacramento King against the Knicks at the Garden – the Mecca of basketball, where the lights shine brighter than anywhere else on the planet. . . to now. . . to now where Jimmer’s 51 point performance, in the biggest game in his career in China gave him a new career high, and a very meaningful victory. Now, if there is one thing that I’ve learned about my little brother – it’s that when the stage is at it’s biggest, and the lights are at their brightest. . . that is when Jimmer is at his best!

After winning another game last night (Sunday night) with a 37 point game from Jimmer, the Shanghai Sharks are now 6 and 0! How far can the sharks take it from here?  Stay tuned to find out.

HAPPY VETERANS DAY

Last night after a fun night of playing pick up basketball with some friends, I sat on my couch relaxing, watching TV. As I flipped through the channels I came across live video of the passionate protestors taking to the streets in different cities throughout this country. As I sat there watching the chaos erupt, I came to an eye opening realization. Sitting there, analyzing all of what I was witnessing, I realized that regardless of whether or not I agreed with what was going on, there was a very much bigger picture at play. . . and that bigger picture was the fact that we live in a country where the freedom of speech and the freedom to protest are the rights of every American citizen.

Today as I took a walk in the park, did some work on my writing, and went shopping for groceries, I came to some more realizations. While walking in the park, I realized how blessed I was to not have to worry about a bomb being dropped or a grenade being launched somewhere on the park grounds . . . while I worked on my writing I realized how blessed I was to be able to have an opportunity to pursue my dream of making a living through doing something I love. . . while shopping at the grocery store I realized how blessed I am to have food so readily available to me, and that I have the right to choose whatever I want to eat, whenever I want to eat it. Now these may just be everyday things that I, as well as most Americans take for granted – but today, on November 11th, we set aside the time to honor, and think about the amazing Veterans who have sacrificed so much so that we could have the right to protest, pursue dreams, enjoy leisure activities, and purchase what we want, when we want, where we want. . . to have our own free will to live where we want to live, say what we want to say, and do what we want to do. . .  so we could live in a safe environment, and not have to worry about being invaded by our enemies who constantly wish to do us harm.

On this day we owe a serious debt of gratitude to these incredible heroes who risked their lives for us all, knowing that they were fighting for something that was greater than any one individual. So I ask that on this very special Veterans day, we all take the time to think about these things, and take the time to thank our brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice, so that we could live with such wonderful freedom. However, even though we take this day out of every year to celebrate our veterans, I believe it’s extremely important that we take the time to honor them EVERYDAY, in our hearts, our minds, and our prayers, because without them, America wouldn’t be America, and the freedoms we take for granted, might not even exist. Our freedom didn’t come free, it came at a very heavy price – a price that our brave heroes willingly paid for us all. So from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank all of our Veterans and wish them a wonderful day today. You’re courage is commended, your sacrifice is revered,  and your spirit is admired. Forever we’ll be grateful – God Bless you all.

DEAR TJ

An open letter to myself:

Dear TJ,

I’m writing you this letter because over the past year I’ve seen a subtle but steady change come over you, and I’m concerned about the mental state you’ve allowed yourself to unconsciously slip into. I’ve watched as you have kept a close eye on the historical countdown, which has finally lead us to this very highly anticipated, crucial election day. The drama and political theatrics that have unfolded over this past year are truly impossible to put into words. You could launch the worlds most powerful spaceship from the summit of Mount Everest and it wouldn’t even come close to how high our nations emotions have run throughout this momentous campaign season.  Choosing a leader to reside over The United States of America is a decision that was never intended to be taken lightly.  So I want you to know TJ, that I’ve watched as you have rightfully taken on the impossible task of sorting through a tidal wave of  critical information, trying your best to determine what is true and what is false. I’ve watched as you’ve stood by, biting your tongue on social media sites, not wanting to get sucked into the vacuum of bitterness and hatred. . . not wanting to take to the battlefield in what has now sadly become a verbal civil war in our beloved country. I’ve watched as you’ve done the good deed of staying informed, all-the-while fighting desperately to avoid the pitfalls of preconceived notions and convenient stereotyping. Unfortunately TJ, I fear that despite your efforts, you have unknowingly been sucked into some of the very things that you’ve worked so tirelessly to avoid. Although you did a good job of not lashing out at people who have offended you with their verbal jabs, (sometimes very harsh in nature) you were still unable to avoid  being consumed with a growing anger. I’ve seen the tension and animosity building steadily inside of you, some of which is even being directed at some of your close friends and family. I’ve seen the grips of divisiveness take hold of you, and on occasion, you’ve allowed the blindness of an ego driven bias to control your eyes. I fear that you have forgotten that Americans are Americans, and even if they disagree with you, you still share that one very special bond. I fear that you’ve lost sight of where your loyalties should truly lie and that at times you’ve struggled to face the fact, that although your convictions are strong, you can’t predict the future and you will not always be right. I also fear that you have regretfully inherited an intolerance for those who’s beliefs don’t coincide with yours, a quality that you have vehemently preached against in the past.  However TJ, I am proud of you for your passion. With so much at stake it is understandable why you have taken your passion to another level. You should be passionate about the direction of your country. You should be passionate about fighting for what you believe in – and fighting for your faith, your future, and the future of your children. You should be passionate about fighting for your family and the foundation that you believe America was founded upon. But amidst all of the fighting, I fear that you’ve lost your way, and instead of building, you’ve been taking part in the destruction of the very thing you claim to be fighting for. So I’m writing you this letter to remind you, that you can’t keep allowing yourself to be lured into these damaging traps of prejudgement. You have to remember TJ, we all come from different backgrounds. . . we all live through different experiences – both good and bad. . .we are all raised by different parents in very different places. . . we all have very different genetic makeups which lead us to process things differently. . . and we all have very different pasts, presents, and futures that determine so much of who we are and how we think.  So, with all of these extreme differences that shape and mold the minds, bodies, and souls of millions of your fellow Americans, how in the world can you ever expect that every single one of them will always see things the exact same way that you do? That’s an impossibility. It makes perfect sense that people see things in their own way, regardless of if it is to your liking or not.  You have to understand this TJ. You also have to understand that the majority of people in this country are good people who want the same things that you want. They want peace, they want prosperity, they want opportunities for themselves and their families. . . and really, what it all boils down to, is they all just want the opportunity to live a good, happy life. You can’t blame them for sometimes disagreeing on what it will take to get there. So in closing TJ, I urge you to always remember these things. I want to see you go back to being that peaceful happy person, without all of that animosity inside of you. I’m hoping that you come to see clearly, that when you fight for your beliefs, it’s important that you fight the right way, and even though at times you may get angry, you can never lose sight of what you truly are fighting for. But most importantly, I’m hoping that tomorrow morning, when you wake up and read this letter, that regardless of who won the election (even if it’s not who you want it to be),  you will find peace in knowing that you still live in the greatest country in the world, and that every single day you have an opportunity to make this beautiful country a better place. TJ, you have been blessed to have your health, you have been blessed to have a wonderful family, you have been blessed to have your faith, and you have been blessed to live in a country where you are FREE, and that freedom should never be taken for granted. What more than that could you ever ask for? May God be with you TJ, may God bring peace to us all at this very turbulent time in our great nation’s history, and last but not least, as always, may GOD BLESS AMERICA.