Game Recognize Game: Neumann-Goretti High School’s Brett Kwoka is our December Athlete of the Month

Game Recognize Game: Neumann-Goretti High School’s Brett Kwoka is our December Athlete of the Month

Each month Eastbay is highlighting a top high school athlete by spotlighting their accomplishments both in and outside the game. This month’s winner is senior Brett Kwoka from Saints Neumann Goretti High School in Philadelphia. Brett was nominated by his football coaches for his allaround excellence and leadership both in and outside the game.

“Brett has been the heart and soul of our team this season. Since joining our team and from day one, he has been a leader on and off the field. Brett is a prime example of what a student athlete is all about. He has a 3.55 GPA and was voted 1st Team All Catholic for Offense and Defense.” – Coach Barnes,  Saints Neumann Goretti High School football

Here’s what Brett had to say about what it takes to be a successfull player, student, and leader:

What is your definition of a successful student athlete?

To me, a successful student athlete is somebody that shows excellence both on and off the field, like maintaining A’s and B’s in the classroom, not getting in trouble much, and trying to be a good role model for the community. And then on the field, somebody who’s a leader who dominates with their athletic ability and with their personality.

As a football player and wrestler, what benefits do you see to being a multi-sport athlete?

Wrestling really translates to football, and it’s been a great experience for me to do both. I’ve seen success in both sports because of the skills that help each other out. Wrestling helps maintain my balance, handwork – since I’m a defensive lineman – so it helps with me working on staying lower than my opponent.

What has been the highlight of your athletic career so far and what makes that moment stand out for you?

The highlight of my athletic career was actually this year! I haven’t played offensive line since I was in middle school, but my coach needed an offensive tackle and I said, “Sure, Coach! I can do it for the team.” I went in not expecting much, really, and I got First Team All Catholic, I was dominant on both sides of the football, and it was a cool way to end my high school career.

What was the most challenging part of picking up that position again after so long?

The plays, the timing, just working with my quarterback. I have a very mobile quarterback, so just the timing of when he wants to run out of the pocket and where I have to push the offensive linemen or how I have to really set the pocket. It was fun, but it was definitely a challenge relearning something I haven’t played for four years.

What do you love most about competing?

I like looking across the line of scrimmage and just knowing that the guy in front of me can’t stop me, can’t get by me, can’t block me. I like dominating on both sides of the ball no matter what. That’s why I love competing.

That’s a little different than when you’re wrestling – what’s that change in mindset like for you?

Well the mindset for football is, I do really want to be the best player on the field, but I don’t always have to be. I have teammates I can rely on – especially this year, I had really great teammates who, if I made a mistake, they would make it up for me. But in wrestling, it’s you vs. another guy. It’s one-on-one and everyone’s looking at you. If you mess up, it’s done. You have no one to fall back on or rely on. You either go home or you win in wrestling.

Who would you say is your role model in athletics?

I have two. Aaron Donald and Shaquil Barrett. Out of high school those guys weren’t very heavily recruited. They were a bit undersized like myself, there were a lot of people saying they couldn’t do it, and they found a school that believed in them and they went on to have great professional careers, just proving everybody wrong.

How important is it to you to be a role model for younger athletes who are coming up?

Oh, it’s very important for me. It’s like my driving goal. I don’t really go out to parties, I don’t drink, I don’t smoke. I try to give kids rides to and from practice, or back to their homes from school. I just try to be a positive role model in any of my teammates’, opponents’, anybody’s lives. When you’re a good football player, a lot of people have eyes on you, and they always want to look up to you. They’re always trying to look for you to be a larger-than-life human being – to be perfect – and a lot of times people fail at that. But I feel like it’s very important for us to try to be positive and try to help bring up these kids, because they’re the next generation of players and they learn from our mistakes.

Jalen Hurts recently came out and spent some time with your team. Can you tell me a little bit about what that was like for you?

That was an awesome experience. I mean, that guy’s day is massively busy, probably with deals and working out and training and practicing and film. And it was just cool for him to take time out of his day to give back to the community, which is really important, especially for me. Like we were talking about, he’s a role model and is trying to be a positive influence in the community and give back to the city he plays for. So, it’s really cool to see him interacting with us and talking with us, he asked questions and seemed like he genuinely cared about what we played, how we’re doing, things like that.

I know he spoke with you guys a little bit about the different types of adversity you face in or out of season. How do you handle adversity like that in the game? And what do you think is the best way to kind of overcome that?

You just gotta keep your head up. You just gotta keep moving forward, because the worst thing you can do when you’re facing adversity is to stop and drop your head. It’s really easy just to fall back and say, ‘Why me, why this? Why is it happening to me? Why can’t it be someone else?’ But the real question is, “Why not me? Why should it be somebody else?’

Adversity is put in front of me so I can get over it and be better. No truly successful person had an easy life. Everybody who’s successful had a ton of adversity in front of them. If you ask any professional athlete. Any successful businessman. Anybody who’s successful ever.

They always had a mountain to climb.

So, I think adversity is not something we should look at as negative, but positive. Because it’s forcing you to change, forcing you to be better.

I handle it by knowing you just gotta get through it no matter how tough it is. You just gotta keep your head up and keep moving forward, no matter how tough it gets.

So, when we spoke to Coach Barnes, he told us that you have been kind of the heart of your team. What does that mean to you? Is it leading by example? Is it doing what you can to lift up other players around you who are also maybe going through some adversity?

It just really comes naturally to me because I feel like I can relate to a lot of my teammates. Even if they’re going through something I can’t relate to, at the end of the day we’re both football players, so that’s something that we can both relate to on any level. If you’re having a problem at home, if you’re having a problem with your girlfriend, if you’re having a problem with anything or with anybody, you can come onto the football field and you can just forget about all that. And that’s something that I tried to reinforce with all of my teammates.

You come onto the football field, we forget about our worries, and after practice we can talk about it. I can give you a ride home. I could give you some help. I just try to be a positive influence in any of my teammates’ lives.

Do you think there are lessons from the game that will go on to help you face adversity in your life outside of football?

Yeah, there are a ton of lessons in football. You gotta learn how to lose in football. That’s the number one thing. There’s nobody who goes undefeated their entire life. You gotta know how to take a loss like a man and you have to know how to overcome adversity. I mean, we’ve had two comeback games this season that helped teach us that we have to overcome adversity.

And we have to be able to take a loss and to get better from it. Look at the film, reflect on what we did wrong, and keep moving.

What are some of the goals that you would like to accomplish after high school?

I would love to have a successful college career – hopefully win a few Bowl Games, have my school get into the playoffs with deep postseason runs, and get a National Championship. After that, if I’m able to, I’d love to play a professional career. And if I can’t, I would to take over my mom’s business. She’s a financial advisor, and I’m really interested in finance and economics. My parents and coaches have been really adamant about me having a backup plan just in case I get hurt or in case everything doesn’t pan out. I have to have a backup plan to fall on. They said it’s great that I have a dream of playing professional football, but it doesn’t always happen.

What are you most looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to continuing my athletic career – I just can’t wait to take that next step. I’m very excited to start the college process, commit to a college, find a home for the next four years, and then hopefully go pro.

 

 

 

To nominate a deserving athlete for Eastbay’s Game Recognize Game series, fill out the form here.

Make sure to follow us on Instagram @officialeastbay and @eastbaywomen

Behind The Design Of The Under Armour Harper 6

Behind The Design Of The Under Armour Harper 6

Bryce Harper is a force on the diamond, and he needs a baseball cleat that can keep up with his grind. We sat down with footwear designer Spencer Hawkins to find out what it takes to create a cleat for one of the game’s greatest. As the designer of the Under Armour Harper 6 baseball cleat, Hawkins had to combine fresh style with trusted performance to create a shoe that would be the perfect fit for Bryce and for young baseball players looking to take their game to the next level. 

Here’s what Hawkins had to say about his design process, pushing the limits of style, and keeping things fresh in the Harper line:

Can you walk us through your design process and how you gather inspiration for a new shoe?

Art, science, and culture are the three things I try to think about in terms of what the aesthetic is going to be. What inspiration can I draw from, and is Bryce going to relate to whatever that is? Are the consumers? And then it comes down to the science. What’s the tech or feature that’s going to make Bryce better as well as any athlete who puts it on.

I try to think about how it will be marketed. If the design tells a story, can that story be boiled down to a tagline that Bryce connects to and that a 16-year-old high schooler can also relate to. If it can, then I know I’m on the right track.

What is that design story for the Harper 6?

When I was creating the story, it was to have the cleat provide a clear advantage. That evolved from the aesthetic of transparent materials and Bryce thinking it was cool and something he hasn’t really seen before.

The aesthetic of baseball cleats has a lot of heritage, just like in the sport, so things are held onto a lot longer than they might be in other sports. So having those transparent materials, we thought was a fresh aesthetic to go after. I wanted to tie in why we were using transparent materials. Why are we using it culturally? Why are we using it scientifically to make athletes better? And the art piece, just connecting to the trend of transparency in fashion.

We tried to strip down to the essential parts of the cleat and then either emphasize and highlight them. So, using the transparency in places where we’re adding support or structure as a way to showcase those elements. The transparent materials on the shoe also provide a benefit or feature. Like the overlay piece that is transparent on the toe adds durability and protection and it also comes up and protects the lace.

How involved was Bryce in the creation of the Harper 6?

Normally we’ll meet three or four times in person just going over the story, going over initial inspiration, going over the samples, what to change, the color stories, etc. So, he’s heavily involved with that. This season was different with COVID. Luckily, I’ve been working with him since the Harper 3, so we have a relationship where we can work very loosely without very formal meetings. I can text him certain questions that I have, and he’s learned what I’m looking for as far as that marketing story. He can tell me he likes the look of something and the reasons why and how we can build that into a story he feels good about telling and that he thinks kids will enjoy. So, he was pivotal in terms of the jumping off point.

Then we came with a final design that he liked on paper. Once we both like what we’re seeing on paper, the real work starts in terms of making what’s on paper real and tangible and making sure it passes all our wear test standards and isn’t causing any fit issues. It’s a fine line balancing between “this is something I’ve never seen before” and something that’s still going to perform better than what we’ve made in the past.

So, Bryce has different touchpoints all the way through. And luckily, he trusts our team a lot in terms of what we’ve been able to build in the past and where we take things.

Which tech features in the Harper 6 were chosen to complement Bryce’s style of play?

A lot of things on the Harper 6 are engineered towards what he’s looking for and how he plays. With all the years that he’s been playing, all the standing out in the outfield, he has suffered from a few foot injuries in the past, so how do we make sure this cleat more comfortable, more supportive, keep his foot on the plate. Those are the things we were working with engineering to fix.

Bryce is a player who’s always evolving. When he started playing, he was known as almost brash – very fiery type personality – and that came out in his play. I think that still comes out but it’s much more now as an overarching leader of a team. So, it’s hitting the style, the unique aesthetic for baseball, it’s having the tech features that are making you better, so more comfortable underfoot, more breathable. It’s not overbuilt, but it’s showcasing the layers through transparency. Those were all the things we were thinking about in terms of checking all the boxes for Bryce.

Under Armour Harper 6 Baseball Cleat

When you’re designing multiple iterations of a shoe, how do you balance staying true to that athlete’s signature style with making sure the model stays fresh and interesting?

That’s always the toughest part. Luckily with signature, I think having the shoe be its own personality from the 3 to 4 to 5 to 6 is always a good thing. So, I’m not afraid of drastically changing things. I think with the last two or three we’ve overall maintained a similar silhouette in terms of having it be a low cut, whereas before his models were either mids or highs. So, he’s been on board with that, just in terms of what he likes to play in and what the market has been trending towards, so it’s certain things like that where I’ll pick and choose a few features to stay the same or similar and then drastically change the others. So, for example, if we’re keeping the same silhouette and a similar material play, then I’ll drastically change up the colors and the graphics. Or it could be the opposite.

What type of ball player do you think these cleats are best for?

If you relate to Bryce, you’re going to relate to this cleat. It’s for someone who puts in the work to stand out. It doesn’t have to be the one with the biggest personality on the team. It’s about leading by example and standing out for the right reasons.

It’s that balance of creating energy, creating limited edition colorways – things that connect with Bryce – but also creating fresh team colors. It’s the balance of staying on palette of your team’s colors while also bringing excitement and energy in that space.

How important is that style element to the performance of the athlete?

It definitely depends on the athlete. To Bryce, it’s one of his number one things. Obviously, the cleat needs to work. It needs to not cause any distractions, it needs to feel more comfortable, stable, breathable, supportive – all those things – but at this point he takes those things as a given with the products we have. So, as long as we’re not taking steps backwards in that department, his number one thing is style. It’s that saying, “look good, feel good, play good.”

What was your favorite part of designing this cleat and your favorite element on the cleat itself?

This was the first one during the pandemic and what makes it special is what we went through as a team trying to bring this product to life during an unprecedented time.

One of my favorite features is the lace shield. It’s just something I haven’t seen before with that transparent piece coming up a little bit over the laces. So, being able to merge that aesthetic of transparency with the performance benefit while protecting your laces during slides and the different movements of baseball, that’s what my favorite part is.

What do you think sets the Harper 6 apart?

I think it goes back to being that melting pot of all the things that you want. I think it’s easy to have cleats that are super unique or very provocative in how they’re styled, but because of how it looks it’s not as comfortable or it’s super supportive but because of that, it’s maybe overbuilt with a lot of materials and it’s a little heavy. The Harper 6 is just kind of the perfect melting pot of style, performance, and the way it incorporates the story. That’s what set it apart. It has a unique visual from far away in terms of having that dot pattern around the transparent pieces, giving it a unique on-field, on-tv aesthetic. But then when you have it in your hand, it’s simplified and has a lot of details up close. So just being that universal solution in all those areas is what makes it stand out.

Under Armour Harper 6 GIF

Make sure you grab your own pair of the UA Harper 6 today from Eastbay and gear up with all the best Under Armour baseball gear for your season.

Game Recognize Game: Forest Hills High School’s Brady Christ is our October Winner

Game Recognize Game: Forest Hills High School’s Brady Christ is our October Winner

Each month Eastbay is highlighting a top high school athlete by spotlighting their accomplishments both in and outside the game. This month’s winner is senior Brady Christ from Forest Hills High School in Pennsylvania.

An all-around athlete, Brady is a two-year letterman who also competes in powerlifting and track & field while remaining active in his school community. He’s a member of the ski and media clubs, holds down a 3.4 GPA, and is a four-year PA Bronze Academic Award winner.

For Brady, football is more than a game. It’s all about the family, friendships, and character building that come with working hard to reach your goals. Here’s what Brady had to say about being a role model for younger athletes, the joy of competing, and his future aspirations:

What is your definition of a successful student-athlete?

My definition would be a student who balances being a successful athlete while also succeeding in the classroom and makes a healthy impact in their school community.

What has been the highlight of your athletic career so far, and what makes that moment stand out for you?

My highlight has been my defensive playing this year. I have two interceptions and there are still games to play.

Who is your role model in athletics?

My role model is Jalen Ramsey.

How important is it to you to be a role model for younger athletes?

It’s very important. When I was younger, I was raised up by older athletes who guided me down the right paths. I wish to continue that tradition and be a positive influence.

What do you love most about competing?

I love expressing all the hard work and effort I’ve put in. Getting to show that I’ve worked harder and I’ve become a better athlete is easily the best part.

What are some of the goals you’d like to achieve after high school, and what are you most looking forward to?

I’d love to be able to coach a team or be an athletic trainer for a team. Later on, raise a family and so forth.

To nominate a deserving athlete for Eastbay’s Game Recognize Game series, fill out the form here.

Make sure to follow us on Instagram @officialeastbay and @eastbaywomen

Eastbay Performance Explained: Why You Should Buy Eastbay’s New Athletic Apparel

Eastbay Performance Explained: Why You Should Buy Eastbay’s New Athletic Apparel

Eastbay Performance is here! The new apparel line is designed for the 24/7 athlete – those who want to look and feel their best in the gym, on the training field, and everywhere in between. Athletes like Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts, who trusts Eastbay Performance to get him through tough quarterback workouts, travel days, or two-a-days.

The Eastbay Performance line includes a few different collections, including Compression, GymTech, WindTech, and TempTech. Each collection is built to meet the specific needs of an athlete, both in and outside the game.

Eastbay Performance Athletic Apparel Compression Collection

Eastbay Compression

Compression is a must-have for every athlete in every sport. Eastbay’s new collection includes shorts, tights, tanks, and tops in a variety of staple colors so you always have the support you need to put in the work. They’re perfect for layering under GymTech apparel when you’re in the weight room or running drills or under your uniform on gamedays, and their moisture-wicking fabric pulls sweat away from your body so you stay comfortable and focused.

Stock up on new Eastbay Compression here ->

 

Eastbay Performance Athletic Apparel GymTech Collection

Eastbay GymTech

Eastbay’s GymTech collection is apparel designed to be light and comfortable for any type of workout and every sport. These shorts, tops, and jackets are made from stretchy, breathable fabric cut in a regular fit for comfort and a full range of motion. So whether you’re lifting, lunging, or lounging around before practice starts, you’ll be cool and comfortable. Jalen Hurts swears by the GymTech Short-Sleeve Tee for all his workouts.

Grab new gym gear from Eastbay’s GymTech collection here ->
Eastbay Performance Athletic Apparel WindTech Collection

Eastbay WindTech

Designed for warmups, cooldowns, or going to and from practice, Eastbay’s WindTech collection features pants, shorts, and jackets in classic colors so you can easily pair them with any of the Eastbay Performance pieces. Ultra-lightweight with built-in ventilation panels and reflective details, the WindTech pieces are great for when the weather starts getting a little cooler and you want to keep your muscles warmed up and ready to go.

Check out the full WindTech collection here ->
Eastbay Performance Athletic Apparel TempTech Collection

Eastbay TempTech

Being an athlete never stops. It’s more than a game – it’s a lifestyle – so even when you’re not training or playing, you need apparel that’s comfortable and flattering while still bringing that competitive edge. Eastbay’s TempTech collection has sweats, hoodies, and full-zips that deliver all three. These pieces are warm with a regular fit that keeps you comfortable and relaxed in class, on the bus, or hanging with the team. Jalen Hurts’ favorite way to rock TempTech is as a full sweatsuit. His go-tos are the Pullover Hoodie and matching Fleece Pant.

Layer up in TempTech here ->
Eastbay Performance Athletic Apparel Game. Train. Live.

We know you’re focused on crushing goals and breaking records this season, so make sure your athletic apparel is up to the challenge. Eastbay Performance is a must-have for every athlete.

Shop the full collection at eastbay.com

Game. Train. Live.

Game Recognize Game: Richland High School’s Griffin LaRue is our September Winner

Game Recognize Game: Richland High School’s Griffin LaRue is our September Winner

Each month Eastbay is highlighting a top high school athlete by spotlighting their accomplishments both in and outside the game. This month’s winner is All State wide receiver Griffin LaRue from Richland High School in Johnstown, PA.

For Griffin, football is more than a game – it’s everything to him. And he backs that up with hard work and dedication. Now in his last year at Richland High, Griffin is getting ready to take his game to the next level, and he can’t wait to see what happens next. Here’s what he told us about being the thrill of competing, being a role model, and what he hopes for the future:

What is your definition of a successful student-athlete?

My definition of a successful student-athlete is a student who can excel in the classroom day in and day out, and still achieve all their goals and dreams on field.

What has been the highlight of your athletic career so far, and what makes that moment stand out for you?

I would say the highlight of my athletic career so far is definitely my first offer.  That moment gave me indescribable happiness!

Who is your role model in athletics?

My role model would definitely have to be LaRod Stephens-Howling.  Growing up and playing football in the same town in the same city as I am currently and still making it to the league and winning a Super Bowl is beyond crazy and inspiring to me.

How important is it to you to be a role model for younger athletes?

It’s extremely important to me, especially with me having two younger siblings that look up to everything I do and take after me.  Growing up with two older brothers, I always looked up to them and followed in their footsteps, and I want to guide my younger siblings and young student-athletes in the correct direction.

What do you love most about competing?

What I love most about competing is the intensity.  When I line up across from someone, I think in my head “It’s my family vs. their’s” and I’ll choose mine any day of the year.

What are some of the goals you’d like to achieve after high school, and what are you most looking forward to?

My biggest out-of-this-world goal is to someday have a gold jacket on, but that’s me shooting for the stars. But I truly just want to be different and make a name for myself and to prove everyone that doubted me wrong.  One thing I’m extremely excited for and looking forward to is just going to college in general.  I feel like college will be a whole new world for me, and especially with football on top of it I feel I will learn so much.

 

To nominate a deserving athlete for Eastbay’s Game Recognize Game series, fill out the form here.

Make sure to follow us on Instagram @officialeastbay and @eastbaywomen