Game Recognize Game: Foundation Academy’s Danny Stutsman is our April Winner

Game Recognize Game: Foundation Academy’s Danny Stutsman is our April 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 standout linebacker Danny Stutsman from Foundation Academy in central Florida.

A threat on both sides of the ball, Danny knows that to win games, you have to be just as dedicated off the field as you are on Friday nights. In his senior season, Danny worked alongside his team and led Foundation Academy to its first Regional Championship and State Semi Final.

Through eight games that season, Danny tallied:

On Offense

  • 64 carries for 548 yards
  • 10 rushing TDs
  • 25 catches for 542 yards
  • 21 yards per catch
  • 7 receiving touchdowns

On Defense

  • 52 solo tackles
  • 11 tackles for loss
  • 5 sacks
  • 2 forced fumbles
  • 2 interception returns for touchdowns
  • 4 pass deflections
  • 1 blocked punt

And that was just the regular season. In the playoffs, Danny racked up 164 yards and 3 touchdowns in the Regional Semi Final, 151 rushing yards, 1 touchdown, 11 tackles, and 1 sack in the Regional Finals, and 9 tackles and 1 receiving touchdown in the State Semi Final against Victory Christian.

It’s a high school career full of performances like these that helped Danny make First Team All State in 2018 and 2019 and 2A Defensive Player of the Year in 2020. His proven football IQ and 3.8 GPA garnered Danny over 25 Division 1 scholarship offers before he committed to University of Oklahoma.

Danny was nominated for Game Recognize Game by Brad Lord, his head football coach at Foundation Academy and someone who’s seen first hand what an asset Danny is on the field.

Here’s what Danny had to say about competition, leadership, and playing college ball:

What is your definition of a successful student-athlete?

Utilizing lessons that I have learned in the classroom to transcend onto the athletic field. Also being able to balance the responsibilities a full-time student has while also managing the schedule of full-time athlete.

What has been the highlight of your athletic career so far?

While my acceptance into the University of Oklahoma and earning an athletic scholarship has been a memorable moment in my career, I would also add being able to lead my high school team, Foundation Academy, to a regional championship for the first time in the school’s history has been meaningful in so many ways.

Who is your role model in athletics?

I’d say one of my idols in athletics itself is Michael Jordan. Although he’s a basketball player, his tenacity to always be the best player on the court and off has motivated me tremendously, and his constant desire to always compete no matter the circumstances has always made me push my game to the next level. Also, most importantly, Jordan’s ability to lead a team and motivate the players around him is something I try to take out of his game.

What do you love most about competing?

What I love most about competing is the constant drive to be the best. Competing is so much more than just in-between the whistles on the football field. It is also during your off time competing against yourself and seeing how hard you can push yourself every day to be the best possible player and person.

What are some of the goals you’d like to achieve after high school?

Some goals that I would like to achieve after high school would be to make an impact at Oklahoma as soon as I arrive, as well as seize the opportunity I am given by pursuing my college education.

 

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

Game Recognize Game: Antelope High School’s Jzaniya Harriel is our March Winner

Game Recognize Game: Antelope High School’s Jzaniya Harriel is our March 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 basketball standout Jzaniya Harriel from Antelope High School in California.

Ranked 14th overall at her position, Jzaniya is a talented point guard with big goals for her future and the work ethic to achieve them. The Stanford commit has a list of accolades that prove just how much hard work can pay off: Sacramento Area (Sac Bee Newspaper) Player of the Year in 2018 and 2019, three-year varsity starter, League MVP in 2018, 2019, and 2020, over 2,000 career points as a junior, and a full-ride scholarship to the college of her dreams – just to name a few.

“It’s very clear that Jzaniya is someone that is passionate about the sport of basketball. Every time I call her, she’s in the gym. We love her speed and athletic scoring ability and also believe she has what it takes to be a top defender.” – Tara VanDerveer, The Setsuko Ishiyama Director of Women’s Basketball Stanford University (source: Stanford Athletics)

Jzaniya doesn’t just push herself on the court. In the classroom she’s earned a 4.4 GPA while balancing 11 Advanced Placement and Honors courses. She’s set to graduate 9th in her class and has dreams of one day attending law school and becoming a judge.

“Jzaniya is constantly under extreme pressure and she always presents herself with calm and puts her team first. She only knows competition and hard work, growing up with seven competitive siblings, and this has been the foundation to her 4.4 gpa and numerous basketball accolades.” – Sean Chambers, Antelope High School girls’ varsity basketball coach

Jzaniya was nominated by her former principal and current Executive Director of Student Engagement John Becker. He’s seen Jzaniya’s competitiveness and dedication first hand, including her commitment to her teammates and the younger student-athletes around her.

Here’s what Jzaniya had to say about being a student-athlete, her role models and support system, and her future goals:

What is your definition of a successful student-athlete?

My definition of a successful student athlete is someone who takes their studies just as serious as the sport they play. Someone who wants to excel in the classroom just as much as they want to on the court or field.

What has been the highlight of your athletic career so far?

There are many memorable moments from my athletic career, but the highlight of my athletic career so far has to definitely be signing my NLI to attend my dream school, Stanford University. It felt good to turn my dreams into a reality and it showed me that hard work does pay off.

Who is your role model in athletics?

My role model in athletics is my father. He used to play and is the reason why I got into basketball. As he taught me everything he knew, we bonded and that made me love the game even more. Many people ask me who I model my game after and the answer to that is my dad. I play just like him.

What do you love most about competing?

What I enjoy most about competing is winning. I love to win, but I hate losing more and that fuels my competitive nature. I will do whatever my team needs me to do in order to win and that allows me to perform at my absolute highest level.

What are some of the goals you’d like to achieve after high school?

After high school I hope to win multiple championships with my teammates at Stanford and hopefully play professionally. I also plan on going to law school in hopes of eventually becoming a judge.

 

 

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

Trust the Process: An Inside Look at Joel Embiid’s First Signature Shoe

Trust the Process: An Inside Look at Joel Embiid’s First Signature Shoe

With a well-deserved reputation as having one of the loudest, most intense fanbases, Philly is not the easiest city to play for. Yet, one player has not only become beloved there, he’s become an adopted son of sorts, an embodiment of who Philly is as a city and the face of one of the most iconic franchises in basketball.

Joel Embiid was drafted third overall by Philadelphia after a promising freshman season at Kansas. Originally from Yaounde, Cameroon, Embiid went from not picking up a basketball until he was 15 to being declared the savior to a major franchise. For Embiid, it had been one hell of a journey. He was discovered at a basketball camp by fellow Yaounde native and NBA vet Luc Mbah a Moute, and with him as his mentor Embiid moved to America at 16 to pursue a basketball dream. As a senior in high school, Embiid was one of the top recruits in the country and would lead his team to a state title before heading off to Lawrence, Kansas to play for Bill Self. That season, Embiid was one of 30 finalists for the Player of the Year award.

After the draft, there was a ton of hype surrounding Embiid, and Philly fans were salivating at seeing him take the court. Unfortunately, Embiid’s career got off to a brutal start as he struggled with injury after injury. Questions began to swirl about whether he would ever play a game in the NBA. Throughout it all, Embiid remained focused on his rehab, saying, “You can’t just sit back and hope for the best. You have to put in the work every single day. You just have to trust the process and make sure you’re working hard because it will pay off.”

When Embiid finally took the court in his third season, he quickly became a force that opposing teams were ill-equipped to handle. In a league that has gradually become more perimeter-oriented with a major emphasis on outside shooting, Embiid was dominating the paint and feasting night in and night out. Despite only playing 31 games, Embiid finished second in Rookie of the Year voting and quickly established himself as a fan favorite in Philly.

Embiid said, “I love the fans – we have a special relationship. One minute they might cheer for you and the next minute they might boo you. That just shows you they care. I’d rather play there then for another city where fans just come to the game for entertainment. I want people to care because it pushes me to be better.”

Embiid has paired his immense physical gifts with a burning desire to be one of the greatest to ever play. Now entering his sixth season, he has made clear his goals to win an MVP and bring a title to Philly. To help achieve those goals Embiid has partnered with Under Armour for his first signature shoe, the UA Embiid One. Together with designer Reggie Wilson, they have designed a shoe that isn’t just for big men but for all players.

Before even sitting down with Joel to discuss the shoe, Wilson was busy seeking out inspiration by looking at Embiid’s home country of Cameroon and studying some famous monuments and landmarks from there. He really dug into Embiid’s journey to the league and was inspired by what he learned.

One of the unique aspects of the shoe is that it tells Embiid’s story chronologically through the shoe’s colorways. Wilson is pumped to show off some of the key details in the shoe saying, “His family is really important to him, so we molded his family’s names into the backside of the TPU wing.” Wilson also noted that he loves how the outsole turned out and that people should really look for some of those smaller storytelling elements embedded in the shoe.

From a technical aspect for the shoe, there are a few things Wilson is really excited about. The first thing is the breathability of the shoe. Wilson learned from a Philadelphia trainer that Embiid’s feet would get incredibly hot during games. It became so bad that Embiid would have to take his shoes off when he was on the bench to give his feet some fresh air. “Some of the shoes he was wearing were so bulky, so many layers, and that was one of the things we wanted to avoid. We wanted to make this as breathable as possible but still strong enough for him,” said Wilson. By constructing the upper with mesh layers Wilson was able to ensure that heat was able to escape and fresh air could flow through the shoe.

Cushioning is where a shoe really makes its mark, and the UA Embiid One is certainly not lacking in that department. It’s built with HOVR technology, Under Armour’s patented cushioning tech, that provides some of the best, most efficient energy return in the game. Sitting under the heel of the foot is Micro-G cushioning to add additional cushioning.

During the design process Embiid and Wilson worked closely together to figure out the cut of the shoe. Eschewing the typical high-cut that has become common with basketball shoes they decided to go with a mid-cut, which better matched Embiid’s style of play. The cut really speaks to the versatility of shoe. Guards and wing players get the freedom they need to drive hard to the basket and big men the support they need to dominate down low.

Both Embiid and Wilson are thrilled with how the shoe turned out and can’t wait for it to become available.

About the shoe, Embiid said, “It was great working with them and I’m happy with the end result, and I think it’s going to be exciting when it comes out.”

The Embiid One will be available exclusively at eastbay.com on September 18, two weeks before any other retailer. When you purchase a pair you will also receiver a free poster with your order.

Ask An Expert: Lauryn Williams

Ask An Expert: Lauryn Williams

Lauryn Williams Blog Story 2

Once every two years, the greatest athletes from around the world represent their countries with pride and compete to etch their names in the history books. This massive event is truly a spectacle, and there may be no one better equipped to break down what it takes and what the stage feels like more than Lauryn Williams. As one of only five athletes, and the first American woman, to take home hardware in both winter (bobsledding) and summer (sprinting) events, Williams can provide unparalleled advice and knowledge on the topic. So we sat down with the legendary competitor to hear all about her experiences on the global stage.

Part 1: Training For The Stage

Q: How did training for a huge event like this differ from how you trained normally year-round?

A: “You don’t train any differently for the games. That’s one of the biggest pieces of advice I give to people who are training for the team. Do what you know works, don’t do something completely different. A lot of times people get poor performance at the games because they are like ‘ok, I made the team, now I have to go above and beyond.’ But the thing that helped you make the team is the thing that will help you perform while there.”

Q: Can you walk us through what your training routine looked like?

A: “I trained roughly three hours a day, six days a week.

We would start with early morning, 6 a.m. weight room workouts, then we’d come back in the afternoon for the running portion. Depending on what day it was, it would be a harder workout or a sprint workout.

Wednesday was our recovery day, so we could regroup — which was really important. A mistake athletes everywhere make is overtraining. A lot of times, you’ll hear people say ‘you need to work smart, not hard,’ and I completely agree. You can’t work yourself to the bone and think it’s going to make you the fastest.”

Q: Competing on that stage also meant added pressure and expectations. How did you prepare mentally for that?

A: “The biggest thing for me was telling myself ‘I am good enough to be here.’ So often you second-guess yourself and compare yourself to the competition, but, in reality, mental prep is knowing you’ve done everything you possibly could to make the result go in your favor. Then you just need to go out there, relax, and realize your potential.

In my sprinting events, I often had only 100 meters. I had 11 seconds or less to make the most of my moment, so if I had spent the time thinking about what my neighbors were doing — it would have gotten me off track and the result wouldn’t have been as good.”

Feb. 9 – Part 2: Competing In Summer Events Vs. Winter Events

Q: You can give really unique insight on this since you have competed and medaled in both summer and winter events. What were the biggest differences between the two?

Lauryn Williams Story 1

A: “The biggest difference between the two is the atmosphere and size. When I was on the winter team, we had around 230 total athletes representing the US, whereas just our track and field team had over 180 people one summer. So that one sport is pretty much the size of all the sports for the winter. But that smaller size helps you get to know the people better. It’s a lot more intimate of a community and more of a family environment in the winter.”

Q: How did that transition from sprinting to bobsledding come about?

A: “My track and field career was getting ready to be over and I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do next in my life after sports. So I started playing with some different options and I ran into a friend at an airport. I had just read an article about her trying bobsled and asked her ‘hey, I heard you did bobsled? How did you like it?’ She had nothing but praises to say about bobsled, and what a great opportunity it was. She said ‘Lauryn, you’re fast and powerful, those are two tools you’ll need. So if I were you, I’d give it a try.’ So I did, and six months later, I was at the Games!”

Q: What were some of the biggest challenges you had when you made the switch?

A: “Definitely the learning curve. Track and field is a very individual sport while bobsled is much more team-oriented. It was one of my biggest life lessons — it taught me how to compete against someone but also have their best interests at heart. You want the overall team to win. It was a very steep learning curve, and I depended on the other girls to help me so that I could be good enough to represent the USA.”

Q: As someone who has truly excelled at multiple sports, what advice would you give to young athletes who want to go down that path?

A: “It’s a great way to diversify yourself. I work in financial planning now and that’s a common term that we use, but it applies to multiple parts of your life. You want to be multifaceted so that you can give yourself different skills and strengths. The more things you expose yourself to, the better opportunities you’ll have long term. It’ll also make you more well-rounded as a person. Plus, what you learn in one sport could be useful in another.”

Feb. 16 – Part 3: Favorite Moments Of Her Career

Q: When you look back at your career, were there any moments that really stood out?

A: “I would say in 2012, when I did my part to help the 4×100 relay team win gold and break the world record. I was part of the qualifying relay, but wasn’t chosen to participate in the finals. You would think that would be a negative experience for me, but it was kind of that redeeming moment that I realized in bobsled later: it’s bigger than me.”

Athletes Pay Tribute To Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Athletes Pay Tribute To Martin Luther King Jr. Day

It is impossible to overstate the impact Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made on modern society. The civil rights leader was a champion for racial equality and social justice, and his words and actions have inspired and will continue to inspire millions of individuals throughout the world. His reach has extended into sports, where athletes from all backgrounds have felt his impact. So with January 15th, Martin Luther King Jr. Day finally here, we took a look at the various ways that players paid tribute to the icon. Here are some of the highlights.

*We’ll be updating this all day with posts from athletes so make sure to check back later.

 


 

The NBA Players Association asked players how they would finish Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream speech.

 


 

Minnesota big man Karl-Anthony Towns and Los Angeles sharpshooter Kyle Kuzma laced up in special pair of shoes that honored the civil rights leader.

 


 

Miami’s Udonis Haslem and New York’s Willy Hernangomez are a couple of the many pro athletes who took to Twitter on #MLKDAY.

 


 

Martin Luther King Jr. inspired many of the biggest athletes in the world, including LeBron James, J.J. Watt, and Carson Wentz.

 


 

Plenty of sports team accounts, like Duke Basketball and N.C. State Football, also posted about the inspirational hero.

 


 

Eastbay wishes you a happy Martin Luther King Day and hopes that his powerful words can inspire you the same way that they have inspired athletes everywhere.