By the time the third round of the NFL draft rolls around many teams are simply looking for players who can come in and be a solid starter or depth piece. It’s rare to find a superstar at any position past the first two rounds, but just because it’s rare doesn’t mean it’s impossible. When Tampa Bay took Chris Godwin with the 84th pick in 2017, it’s doubtful anyone in the front office realized the gem they had just unearthed. As he enters his fourth season, Godwin has developed into a bona fide star in this league.
The one trait that separates Godwin from the rest of the upper echelon receivers in the league isn’t his size, speed, or quickness. It’s his toughness. Godwin said, “Whatever I have to do to get the job done. I’ll get real dirty in there. I’ll block linebackers, safeties, and defensive ends sometimes. After I catch the ball I’m not trying to go out of bounds, I’m trying to get as many yards as possible.” Obviously, there is more to Godwin’s game than just his toughness. The precision with which Godwin runs his routes, combined with how efficiently he gets in and out of his breaks, makes him one of the most unguardable receivers in the game.
Despite putting up monster numbers in his first couple of years, Godwin was still underrated as a receiver. Part of that can be attributed to playing in Tampa Bay, which isn’t a huge media market, and the fact that the team just missed out on the playoffs his first two seasons. The narrative surrounding the team changed last season when Tom Brady signed to be the new starting quarterback. Suddenly there was a ton of hype, Super Bowl expectations, and more eyes on Godwin than ever before. Meanwhile, he was focused on developing chemistry with his new quarterback, made all the tougher by the pandemic.
Godwin said, “I think over the course of the season we really got closer and closer and really spent that extra time. By the time we got to the playoffs we were clicking on all cylinders.”
Godwin also learned some big lessons from Brady, who has been in the league since Godwin was in daycare. “I think the biggest lesson I learned from him was just how simple you have to make the game. A lot of people try to make the game too complicated. Some coaches are so used to sticking to their formulas and philosophies, but really it just comes down to percentages. You’re trying to put yourself in the best position to be successful by adjusting plays at the line, being on the same page as your quarterback.”
Despite the challenges the pandemic brought to every team throughout the season, Tampa Bay was able to finish with an 11-5 record and head to the playoffs for the first time since 2007. The team would then march through the playoffs defeating Washington, New Orleans, and Green Bay in a thriller before facing off against Kansas City and Patrick Mahomes. Though the game wasn’t very close or exciting, you won’t catch any Tampa Bay players or fans complaining about winning in a blowout.
As the next season approaches, Godwin is looking forward to having fans back in the stands. “We played New Orleans Week 1 last year, and it felt like a glorified scrimmage. It was so weird. We really noticed then just how much energy we get from the fans.” He’s continuing to develop his skills this offseason, particularly getting more separation at the top of his routes and getting in and out of his breaks even more efficiently.
If Godwin continues to grow his game and skillset there is no reason he can’t become a consistent All-Pro, and be one of the most devastating receivers in the league for years to come.
It can be challenging to find everything you need for the volleyball season with dozens of different shoes, knee pads, ankle braces, and other gear to choose from. That’s why Eastbay is here to help you gear up with our guide for the top volleyball shoes, apparel, and equipment.
When you’re out on the floor, you want a shoe that you can trust to support you no matter what. The Nike React Hyperset is built to let you make big plays in big moments. It starts with Flywire technology that gives you a supportive fit and allows you to fly around the court with ease. Underneath your foot sits React foam that provides responsive cushioning to keep you energized from the first to the last set. Combine the cushioning with the NIKESKIN overlay that increases durability around the toe and suddenly you have a shoe that’s built to last while keeping you in the game longer. Other important features include a lateral strap that offers more stability for those side-to-side movements and a rubber sole for excellent traction in all directions.
When looking for the best pair of volleyball shoes, it’s nice to have options for both style and color. The adidas Crazyflight is one of the few volleyball shoes that’s available in both a mid and low style. Both styles feature the latest in adidas shoe technology with Boost cushioning in the midsole to bolster support. The mesh upper was molded with TPU zones to keep you light on your feet while reducing heat build-up within the shoe. Along the back of the shoe, you can find a molded, S-shaped heel counter that enhances the stability of the shoe. If you are looking for a little more ankle support make sure you check out the adidas Crazyflight Mid as well.
When you’re on the volleyball court, you want to be cool and comfortable while also ready to explode into action at a moment’s notice. The Nike Zoom HyperAce 2 is designed to do both. These shoes are built with small, breathable holes to keep your feet cool and dry throughout the match. To keep you stable and comfortable, a TPU heel counter, in conjunction with a heel cage, stabilizes your foot in the shoe. A foam midsole combined with Nike Zoom Air delivers the signature responsiveness and explosion that keeps you ready to dive for any balls and rise up for any kills. Combine that with the rubber tread and you will be able to push off with maximum power every time.
The Under Armour Highlight Ace 2.0 is one of the more technologically advanced shoes available. A 4D foam sockliner conforms to the contours of your feet, providing ideal comfort while also hugging your foot to prevent any internal slipping and sliding. A 3D rubber toe cap offers durability from wear and tear as well as protection for your toes. There are internal webbing loops with the purpose of enhanced fit and support to push off from unconventional angles in all directions. That way, no matter where you are on the court or how off balance you may be, you are never out of a play. In the midsole there’s a full-length Charged Cushioning system made to absorb all the stress and pressure put on your knees and feet and convert it into responsive comfort.
Being able to stand up to the demand and rigors of a tough club season is a hallmark of any good shoe. The Under Armour Block City 2.0 is one of the most durable shoes available thanks to the rubber toe cap and the coated mesh panels that line the midfoot and help keep you stable. To complement the forefoot, the midfoot is comprised of lightweight mesh and a toebox to make sure your foot is still able to breathe. The outsole has a herringbone traction pattern similar to the best basketball shoes, but there are also strategically placed diamond-shaped insets which improve the grip even more.
Add some bounce to your game in the adidas NOVAFLIGHT. This shoe is made up of several key components. The first is the lightweight upper that provides you with superior breathability while also locking you in every time you jump. The second is the Bounce midsole which helps lessen the strain on your legs and feet from repeated jumping and landing. The third and final feature is the Court Performance System outsole that allows you to cut and explode to the ball without fear of falling.
Eastbay also has you covered with a huge selection of the best equipment and apparel to help you feel your best on the court.
Ankle sprains are a problem for every athlete, and volleyball players can be at an especially high risk. All it takes is coming down off-balance after a spike or a block and you can spend the next several weeks watching games in a walking boot from the bench. Thankfully, ankle braces provide support to help protect against sprains. The ASO Ankle Stabilizer offers a secure fit thanks to stabilizing straps that form a figure eight around your ankle, and it’s bilateral, meaning it can be worn on either ankle. Another option is the McDavid ankle brace which has a built-in anatomical arch that adds a layer of support in addition to the elastic top strap that helps you customize the fit. If you prefer something different there is also the Mizuno DXS2 brace where support and stability come from three main parts: anchored wrap, under heel, and V-shaped belts.
Knee pads are an essential part of every volleyball player’s kit. Getting floor burn is a bottom 10 experience, but thankfully we have several great options to save your knees. The Nike Essential Kneepads are built with shock-absorbing foam and abrasion resistance to keep your knees protected, and the short style design allows for greater freedom of movement on the court. There is also the Under Armour Strive 2.0 which features a heat liner for increased breathability and dual-density padding which helps keep bulk down while maintaining excellent protection. Mizuno offers the LR6 kneepad which provides complete patella, lateral, and medial protection. In addition, the VS-1 padding is strategically placed to give you the confidence to go after every ball.
Of course, compression shorts play a huge role in a volleyball player’s comfort. A poorly made pair of compression shorts can rub you the wrong way and irritate your skin to the point of madness. Eastbay carries some of the top brands’ compression shorts including the Nike Pro 3” which features a lined gusset and ergonomic seams that allow for a greater range of motion while preventing annoying irritation. Under Armour also has a 3” compression short made from lightweight HeatGear fabric, allowing you to float like a butterfly and spike like a gorilla. It also has built-in, anti-odor technology which prevents the growth of microbes and keeps the shorts fresh. There is also the Mizuno Vortex Hybrid Shorts which have a lower rise and a wide waistband for impressive comfort and a lined, flatlock gusset to provide stability.
With all this gear and equipment, you’re going to need something to carry it in. Enter the Nike Hoops Elite Pro Backpack. It has been completely redesigned this year to give players easier access to their things. Instead of a traditional opening this year’s model features something more akin to opening a duffel bag. While you still carry it like a traditional backpack when you lay it flat you are able to fully open it to grab whatever you need. Ever had to grab something quick from the bottom of a full backpack? It is one of the more frustrating feelings as you have to unpack your bag just to grab a charger, and then you have to turn around and repack it. This backpack eliminates that annoyance. It does still have plenty of other traditional backpack features including a laptop sleeve, ventilated pocket for wet items, and space for an oversized water bottle. The bottom panel was crafted to resist abrasion so this backpack will last you for a while.
No matter what type of shoes, apparel, or equipment you need to power through the season, Eastbay has you covered. Check out eastbay.com for anything you need.
Adrianna Hahn is a former college basketball star who played at Villanova for four seasons. Following her graduation, she has become an advocate for women’s basketball as well as a trainer for young boys and girls. Adrianna shared several great workouts that you can do at home this summer to really develop your handle. Check it out below.
What You Need: Two Basketballs
Start by doing two pound dribbles with a ball for each hand then perform a crossover.
Switch to one pound dribble and then hit the crossover.
Finish with continuous crossovers.
Change to two pound dribbles with a ball for each hand and then go behind your back.
Switch to one pound dribble and then go behind your back.
End with continuous behind-the-back dribbles.
*Video includes other variations for this drill*
What You Need: A Basketball and a Tennis Ball
Start by dribbling the basketball with one hand while tossing the tennis ball up and catching it with the
Switch to two pound dribbles and then perform a crossover all while continually tossing and catching the tennis ball.
Change to one pound dribble then hitting a crossover while tossing and catching the tennis ball.
Finish with continuous crossovers while tossing the tennis ball back and forth between your hands.
Switch to two pound dribbles and then go between your legs. You should still be tossing the tennis ball up.
Shift to one pound dribble and then go between your legs.
End with continuous between-the-legs dribbles.
*Video includes other variations for this drill*
What You Need: A Basketball and a Cone
Place the cone a couple feet in front of you.
Start with the ball in your left hand. Perform a crossover then step forward with your left foot and go between your legs with the ball.
Switch to starting with the ball in your right hand and perform the same sequence.
The next round requires you to bend your legs and stay low. Perform two pound dribbles and then a crossover. As soon as you perform the crossover, touch the cone with the hand that was just dribbling.
Finish your workout with some core exercises.
Get in pushup position and begin dribbling the ball with one hand while maintaining position.
Change to practicing two pound dribbles before crossing the ball over to your other hand while staying in pushup position.
The last exercise is a version of Russian twists. Sit on the ground and lean back a bit while lifting your legs up a little. You’re going to pass the ball between your legs while focusing on keeping your core tight.
If you want to cop the gear Adrianna is wearing in these videos head to eastbay.com right now for the best deal on it. Make sure to follow her on Instagram as well @adriannahahn
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 multi-sport athlete and true powerhouse Izzy Hageman from Erie High School in Colorado.
Izzy was nominated by Nora Roth, her Head Cheer Coach for the past four years at Erie High School. Coach Roth described Izzy as an incredibly well rounded athlete, hard worker, and someone who always holds her team accountable.
“She is dearly loved by her community, team members, and friends, and is an inspiration for all young female athletes that you can do it all. You can be on the cheer team and lift heavy weights! You can cheer on the football team on Friday nights and win your own state championship on the weekends.”
We caught up with Izzy and asked her about what it takes to compete in multiple sports at a varsity level, how she feels about dominating in a male-dominated sport, and what her goals are as she heads off to college. Here’s what she had to say:
any,What is your definition of a successful student-athlete?
My definition of a successful student-athlete is someone who’s well rounded and knows how to balance their time with school, sports, social life, family, anything like that. You’re always a student before you’re an athlete, so knowing that school comes first and having good time management are what make a really successful athlete.
Your athletic career has involved a really unique combination of sports. Can you run us through that and explain how those sports work well together?
Throughout high school I’ve done cheer all four years on varsity. Same with track, all four years on varsity. My freshman year, I was on varsity for wrestling, and I was the first female at my school to wrestle. That was crazy! I also did swimming/dive my sophomore year, and then I’ve been weightlifting outside of school since I was 11.
With cheer, the basics of that and the positions you’re in helped me with weightlifting. Then weightlifting made me strengthen those positions, which has helped me with the gymnastics and coordination you need to flip your body around or hold someone in the air in the strongest way. And that’s my strength in cheer – stunting and tumbling – finding ways to use my strength with good form and technique. Knowing what strength to use and when, that’s all come from weightlifting, because you have to know what you’re using and how to strengthen those areas.
Have you faced any unique struggles or resistance due to competing in what’s traditionally considered a male sport?
Yes! Like I said, I started weightlifting when I was 11, so throughout middle school I would be winning state championships, qualifying for nationals, going for records, super exciting stuff. And I didn’t want to post about that or tell anyone except my family, because they were the only ones who understood. You know, you don’t want to tell middle school boys who are half your size that you do weightlifting and can lift over 100lbs. It doesn’t fit that girly physique that you think is popular. So throughout middle school I kept it very low key, and then around eighth grade I started posting more about it on social media.
Although I become more comfortable in my skin and felt more pride in the sport of weightlifting, it didn’t make it any easier when becoming the first female wrestler at my school. There’s a lot of accountability when it comes to wrestling and it was tough to get used to being in a combative sport as a girl. But my teammates and coaches were all so supportive, and any weirdness I felt was mostly my own insecurities and outside opinions getting the best of me. I learned so much about myself mentally and physically from that experience. And things have changed. Our school and state now have girls’ wrestling.
“You have to take that in, and you have to just be proud of what you do. If you’re good at something, you wanna be able to show it off. That’s what makes it fun – that competition side of having people recognize all the hard work you’ve put in. Being scared to show that is nonsense.”
That’s one of my most important life lessons, and it’s what I wrote my college essays on. Both weightlifting and wrestling are male-dominated sports and just not something you’d think a girl would do. I wouldn’t take back any of it at all.
What has been the highlight of your athletic career so far?
There are a lot for each sport, but I would say these are my top two:
Winning State for cheer three times in a row in Colorado. We won my sophomore, junior, and senior year and that’s an experience you never forget. It’s something your whole school knows and it’s a big deal. Just being part of that team is awesome. Winning a team sport is always very, very rewarding to me.
My second one I think is the biggest one. My freshman year, I was the Youth National Champion for weightlifting. Everyone has to qualify for this meet, so I qualify and after three years of getting second every single time, I come back and gt first! That was so exciting and it opened a lot of new doors. But that’s when we had to make that decision of do you want to go further with this and possibly continue to Pan American competitions, Olympic competitions – all that stuff – but there are no promises? That’s stuff you have to work for. That’s homeschooling, that’s practicing two to three times a day. You have to figure that stuff out and decide what your goals are. For me, having that high school experience, having friends, and doing sports, and continuing to cheer – really being that multisport athlete that I love being – that was the pull for me.
Who is your role model in athletics?
Mattie Rogers is a weightlifter who just qualified for the Olympics. She’s amazing, and definitely someone I looked up to in the weightlifting world because she cheered when she was younger as well. She’s a beast – she’s awesome to watch and I still follow her career to this day. I would say she’s my biggest role model, but I’m making my own path. There are a ton of people to look up to – anyone who’s just motivated and wants to work hard, I’m drawn to them and I’m like, “Okay, be my friend. Let’s do this together!”
“No one has the same story as you. You have to be your own role model sometimes.”
What do you love most about competing?
I’m someone who works best under pressure. I love having an audience and displaying what I work so hard to do. The competition side of things is the peak, where you just worked so hard for six months and this is the deciding factor into how that went. It’s so rewarding, and I love having that adrenaline rush. That’s the best way to get it – when you’re working hard and it’s important to you. Competing is my favorite thing to do. It’s why I love sports. It makes all the rough practices worth it.
What are some of the goals you’d like to achieve after high school?
Two weeks ago, I actually made the Clemson Cheer Team, so in a month I’m going to Clemson to start classes and practices. I always knew I wanted to cheer. I’ve been doing it since I was seven – so for almost 11 years – and it’s just never gotten old for me. I love going to practices, it’s always fun to see my team, and every year just adds another reason to love what I’m doing.
It’s been very competitive this year, so it was a process. There were some insane girls there, and they were all amazing. I think my strength and my attitude are what got me on the team. This has been my goal since I started, and honestly it feels really rewarding. It’s still so new and I’m still living the high from that and I can’t wait to start.
Creating space is the ultimate goal in basketball. It could be space to get your shot off, space to make a better pass to a teammate, or space to grab an offensive rebound. There are plenty of different ways to create space on the court, whether it’s outrunning a defender, perfectly timing a cut, or simply jumping over them. To help you create space more easily, Nike is launching the Zoom Air Greater Than series. This collection has three silhouettes that are specifically designed to help you get the most out of your cuts, speed, or hops.
The Nike Air Zoom GT Cut is built for players who thrive off perfectly timed cuts. Whether it’s a backdoor cut for an easy layup or you’re slicing inside to open up room for a teammate, the geometry of the GT Cut caters to a low-to-the-ground sensation. There is a parabolic Zoom Air Strobel and heel Air Zoom Unit that help you go from standing still to exploding to the basket in a split second. It also provides the comfort and responsiveness that every player loves.
Along the front side of the shoe, just above the outsole, is a stabilizing rail guard that gives your foot more support, so you’re not getting tripped up as you explode off either foot. Nike designers also incorporated a molded tongue to improve the fit and comfort of the shoe.
The Nike Air Zoom GT Cut hits eastbay.com on May 25. Stay tuned throughout the year for the launch of the GT Run and GT Jump silhouettes. We will be updating this piece as more information comes in.
Few can deny the impact the Air Jordan XI has had on the sneaker community over the past 25 years. From the very first moments we saw Michael Jordan rocking the XI’s, we were mesmerized by them. Tinker Hatfield’s genius design made them look super-sharp on and off the court. The Air Jordan XI was one of the most popular sneakers MJ ever wore, to the point that Jordan Brand started retro’ing them just five years later beginning in the late fall of 2000. We just couldn’t get enough of that patent leather goodness.
Although Jordan Brand did release a low-cut version of the XI back in ‘96 in both a white and black colorway, these silhouettes had a different design compared to the mid-cuts. The OG lows were meant more for off-court styling, with breathable mesh weaved into the upper. It almost seemed strange at the time that Jordan Brand and Nike didn’t drop a low-cut version with the patent leather mud guard. That all changed in the Spring of 2001.
In April and May of 2001, Jordan Brand released low-cut patent leather and super-stylish snakeskin versions of the Air Jordan XI. These shoes were meant to be rocked right away for the warm summer months. They were flashy and looked great with shorts. This low-cut version featured the same full-length encapsulated Air-Sole unit and composite shank-plate, just like the mids. There were also matching Jordan Brand shorts, caps, tees, and beanies – because back in the early ‘00s, your whole fit had to be color-coordinated from head to toe.
In April 2001, the white/silver colorway dropped for ladies, the white/columbia and white/red dropped for men, and the white/pink dropped for girls. Then in May ‘01, the white/pink snakeskin dropped for women, and the white/navy snakeskin dropped for men. There was also a white/citrus and white/zen grey version.
Though Michael Jordan was famous for rocking the AJ XI mids, he also wore the lows with patent leather as well. During the NBA Finals versus the Sonics in ‘96, he briefly wore the low-cut “Bred” colorway. He also rocked a low-cut patent leather “Concord” colorway during the trophy ceremony after the Bulls defeated the Sonics that year. It would have made sense for Jordan Brand to bring these classic colorways back in low-cut versions right off the bat, but we had to wait years for them to finally release to the public.
While the holidays have always been about the AJ XI mid releases each year, the summer belongs to the lows. This spring, Jordan Brand is bringing back the white/citrus colorway, along with a low-cut version of the classic “Legend Blue”. The love for the XI’s is not going away anytime soon, so once again these models will be instant sell outs.
Drew is the creator of @nikestories on Instagram. Growing up in the ’90s, Drew loved playing soccer, basketball, tennis, and even dabbled in cross country running. He ended up focusing on tennis in high school and helped lead his team to multiple state titles. His favorite athletes growing up include Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, Andre Agassi, and Ken Griffey, Jr. He was smart enough to save all his old Eastbay catalogs from the ’90s and loves sharing them with the sneaker community. Follow him at @nikestories