Silver Medal APEX Celebration with the Lagasse Family

On Monday, I met up with Tyler Lagasse and his mom, Deb at APEX Entertainment Center to celebrate his Special Olympics USA Games silver medal win in Seattle.

We met at the sports simulators and I introduced Tyler and his mom to my mom and my brother, Ryan, who could not make it for the Seattle trip.  After that, APEX set us up for a round of golf, and we went live on Facebook.  The video includes Tyler’s first swing at the APEX golf simulator.  Here’s a sneak peek:

Click here for the full video.

We had the entire evening planned out as seen below:

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Since it was my first time playing any kind of golf (besides mini-golf), it took at least five swings for me to get the hang of it.  But with the help of Tyler, I caught on fairly quickly.  Since he is a lefty, he was especially helpful because watching him was like looking in the mirror.  By my 10th swing, I was driving the ball almost 100 yards in the simulator.  We only had time for a couple of holes, and Tyler dominated, but I still really enjoyed it.  I’m definitely eager to give the golf simulator another try, and you never know, golf could be a sport I could try to play.   Of course my broadcasting career will still come first.

Here are some highlights of Tyler and I at the golf simulator:

After finishing at the golf simulator, we had a few minutes to spare before our reserved private go-kart race.  We decided to take each other on in a Boston Celtics basketball arcade game.  I beat Tyler in this one, totaling over 60 points in two rounds.  After our basketball competition, it was time to race.

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Tyler, Ryan, my dad, and I were all in the race.  We walked back to the go-kart track and put our head socks on.  We watched a video on safety rules before putting our helmets on and getting settled in our go-karts.  They started the race very soon after.  After passing Tyler and my dad early, I knew I was doing well.

I beat Tyler by 0.119 seconds with a fastest lap of 38.015, but came in 2nd to my dad, who’s best time was 36.339.  Tyler’s fastest time was 38.134, putting him in 3rd place.  He was a few seconds ahead of Ryan, who had a best time of 41.441.

Here are the results, taken directly from an email I received from APEX after the race:

Thank you for your visit.

Here you can find your results.

Results for Session 30 at 5:18 PM

   Heat overview Best time
1. killerken (my dad) 36.339
2. AndrewrBSM (me) 38.015
3. tyler (Tyler) 38.134
4. Ryguy335YT (my brother) 41.441

Unlike last time, APEX gave us a sheet with more detailed results:

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Here are some highlights from the race:

After that, we headed upstairs to the classic arcade section.  We started by facing off in a few rounds of Olympic bubble hockey.

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In the first game, there were no goals for a long while, but Tyler beat me 1-0 after I accidentally shot it into my own goal.  However, I won the second game, and we both wanted a rubber match.  In the rubber match, it was a close one, as Tyler led 2-1 with seconds to go (It requires a goal to end the game).  If I scored, it went to overtime.  But after a lot of good defense, Tyler scored the game-winning goal to make it 3-1.

Tyler wanted to play Aerosmith pinball after that, one of my favorites.  It wasn’t my best day in pinball, but even if it was a good day for me, I wouldn’t have beat Tyler.  He had never played pinball before but he was a quick study, scoring over 30000 points, earning the multiball, and a winning a free game.  Here are some highlights from the arcade:

Tyler played out his free game, but after that, it was time to bowl.  Tayla Normandie, who was assisting Sean MacLaughlin in hosting us for the day, booked us for candlepin in Lane 1.  It turned out that Tyler’s mom had Tayla as a cosmetology student at Greater Lowell Tech, where she teaches.  She recognized Tayla at that point and caught up with her.  After that, Tayla gave us our bowling shoes, and Tyler, Tyler’s mom, my dad, and I began bowling.

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We were given full Pit Stop Tavern service from the lanes, and I ordered a delicious chicken tender and french fry meal with BBQ sauce on the side and a Sprite to drink.  Tyler ordered buffalo chicken tenders, one of his favorites.  I topped Tyler in our first round of bowling.  I had my best round in a while, including a strike on Frame 2.  But my dad had his best round in a long time with a strike of his own and a grand total of 93.  Between all of our competitions, Tyler and I were tied 4-4.  So we decided to play one more game of candlepin bowling, just the two of us.  I was off to a strong start, but Tyler just got better as he played, and he came back to beat me in a close one.  Check out some of the highlights from the bowling alley:

Below are all our competition results from throughout the day.  It is almost like we played each other in a mini Olympics.

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It turned out that there was a podium at the APEX, so before we said our goodbyes, Tyler and I took a picture on the podium based on our results from throughout the day.

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I’d like to thank Marcus Kemblowski, Sean MacLaughlin, Tayla Normandie, Tyler Lagasse, Nick Savarese, and Deb Lagasse for making this experience possible.  Stay tuned for more experience posts soon, including coverage of the Special Olympics Massachusetts golf championship.

This post is also available on the Flutie Foundation blog.

 

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Massachusetts Pirates Blowout Steelhawks in Final Regular Season Game, Playoff Bound

Yesterday I attended the final Massachusetts Pirates game of the regular season.   I won the tickets in a Mark Fidrych Foundation raffle at the 2018 Make Your Mark Kickoff Event.  (NOTE: the Make Your Mark softball tournament will be held on August 18th at Casey & Memorial Field in Northborough).  I went to the game with my dad, my longtime friend Paul Alfonso, and his dad Tony.

The Pirates play in the National Arena League (NAL), one of many Arena Football leagues across the country.  The season takes place between April and August, ending right around the start of the NFL season.  I’ve been to one Pirates game earlier this year when they played the Maine Mammoths back in May, so I knew that although Arena Football has many differences from NFL football, it was still very exciting.

Arena football is an 8 on 8 game.  There are no designated running backs, but offensive linemen will sometimes run the ball.  Typically, the starting offense is made up of a QB, three wide receivers, and four offensive linemen.  The defense typically has three defensive linemen, two linebackers, and three defensive backs on the field.  The Pirates fans are often called the 9th man, because like the Seahawks in the NFL, they are the league’s loudest fans.  The game is played on a 50-yard field rather than a 100-yard field and is often played in hockey stadiums.  Players will often be pushed into the boards which is considered out of bounds, but sometimes wide receivers dive over the boards to make catches and if they do, it’s considered a completion.  The downsized field makes for much higher scoring.  Although the uprights are narrower, kickers can often make it through the uprights on a kickoff from the opposite end zone, scoring what is often called a “deuce”, worth two points.  The smaller field also makes it so nobody ever punts.  On fourth down, teams will either go for it or go for a field goal.

The 10-5 Pirates were scheduled to play the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks, the worst team by win-loss record in the NAL.  They had not won a game all season long, and they were 0-14 going into this game, their final game of the regular season.  The game was held at the DCU Center in Worcester, the home of the Massachusetts Pirates.  The stadium also currently hosts the Worcester Railers, the ECHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, and was formerly home to the Worcester Sharks (now the San Jose Barracuda), the San Jose Sharks’ AHL affiliate.

We all made score predictions on our way to the game:

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We arrived at the game, bought some pizza, popcorn, and soft drinks, and took our seats.  Before the game, the Pirates welcomed members of the Special Olympics of Massachusetts team, who were attending the game.

The game began and the Pirates got off to a fast start after the Steelhawks won the toss and deferred.  Pirates QB Sean Brackett was out with a sprained ankle but QB Darron Thomas was doing a good job filling in.  He completed a deep pass to WR Lavon Pearson to get the Pirates close to the end zone.  A Pirates o-lineman ran in the TD to put the Pirates up 7-0.  Steelhawks kicker Spencer Hotaling was off to a rough start.  He attempted a “deuce” on the opening kickoff and missed.  He also missed in a Steelhawks FG attempt, but the Pirates defense had shut down Lehigh Valley quickly in their first drive, making for a difficult kick.  Despite a nice catch by WR Charles McClain, the Steelhawks were shut down again in their next drive, and Spencer Hotaling’s field goal attempt was blocked.

The Pirates scored another TD on a huge catch by WR Mardy Gilyard.  He was being covered very closely by the defense, yet he still scored.  Although Pirates K Ali Mourtada missed the extra point, he scored a “deuce” on the kickoff, making it 15-0 Massachusetts.

To start the 2nd quarter, Lavon Pearson made a catch that set the Pirates up to score another touchdown.

The Pirates scored another one soon after on a one-handed catch by Lavon Pearson.  The Steelhawks did not make much progress offensively in the 2nd quarter, and they were so far behind that they had to start going for it every time on 4th down.  With little time left in the half, the Pirates had one more scoring opportunity.  Darron Thomas had one long pass that was deflected into the stands but completed a long pass on the next down to make it 1st and goal for the Pirates.  The Pirates tried to eat some clock before scoring in order to make sure the Steelhawks did not get another chance before the half.  But they lost the ball in a fumble, losing the opportunity to score.  However, they were up 29-0 at halftime.  The Steelhawks nearly scored on a nice pass just before the half but failed.

During the half, I enjoyed a mini football game between the Worcester Police Department and the Worcester Fire Department.  More fans were rooting for the fire department but it ended in 14-14 tie.  Here is some video I took of this mini-game:

The Pirates scored another pair of touchdowns in the third quarter.  They scored one on a fumble by Steelhawks QB Patrick Ryan that was recovered for a TD by RJ Roberts, and the other on a deep pass to Lavon Pearson.  Ali Mourtada scored a deuce after that one to make it 44-0 Pirates.  Mardy Gilyard scored another TD just minutes into the 4th.  Here is Gilyard’s TD:

The Steelhawks scored their only TD of the game by recovering their own fumble. The ball was nearly recovered by two Pirates players but found its way into the end zone, where Jason Johnson recovered it for the TD.  The Pirates scored 2 more touchdowns before the end of the game.  Lavon Pearson scored on a long ball to make it 58-7 Pirates, and another Pirates TD was scored when Spencer Hotaling missed a long field goal that Pirates DB John Hardy-Tulieau returned for the touchdown.  Mourtada made one more deuce to make the final score Pirates, 67, Steelhawks, 7.  My dad came the closest to predicting the score but we all overestimated the Steelhawks offense.

During the game, I noticed a man with a laptop sitting near us.  I gave him my business card and it turns out that he was writing a recap on the game for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.  His name was Bill Gilman.

The Pirates, who finished the season 11-5, will play at home in the NAL semifinals next week.  They will host either the #3 seed, the Carolina Cobras, or the #4 seed, the Columbus Lions.  It all depends on whether the Jacksonville Sharks beat the Maine Mammoths tonight.  If the Sharks win, the Pirates are the #2 seed and play Carolina.  Otherwise, the Pirates are the #1 seed and host Columbus.  The Steelhawks missed the playoffs after a 0-15 finish.

After the game, they allowed fans to walk onto the field for an autograph and photo session.  Paul and I took plenty of pictures on the field, some of them with Pirates players.  I gave the players and a couple fans my business card as well.  Paul got his Pirates football signed by all the players we took photos with.

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Me and Paul in the end zone
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With OL Cornelius Lewis
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With WR Mardy Gilyard
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With OL Bill Vavau
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With DL Kaelin Burnett
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With DB Cheatham Norrils
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With OL Thomas Claiborne

I even met Special Olympic powerlifter Joe Morrill, Team Massachusetts’ only powerlifter at the USA Games, on the field.  He had his USA Games medals with him.  He won two golds (combo and deadlift) and two silvers (bench press and squat).  He had roomed with Tyler Lagasse in Marlborough before.  Speaking of Tyler, I am meeting with him and his family at APEX tomorrow to celebrate his silver medal win at the USA Games, where I will go live on Facebook with Tyler and compete with him in simulation golf, go-kart races, Olympic bubble hockey, candlepin bowling, and other games.

I had a great time at the Pirates’ final game of the season.  Arena football is fast-paced and very exciting.  The rule differences from the NFL give football fans a nice indoor viewing experience during the NFL offseason.  I’d like to thank Ann Fidrych, Jessica Fidrych, and the Mark Fidrych Foundation for making this amazing experience possible.

Recorded PSA to Air on 98.5 soon

98.5 The Sports Hub has recently partnered with both APEX Entertainment and the Flutie Foundation.  Since I am a Flutie Fellow and I spend time at APEX regularly, 98.5 invited me into their studio to record a PSA about my blog, my fellowship, and how APEX Entertainment and the Flutie Foundation are supporting my career efforts.  I went to record the PSA yesterday at the new 98.5 studio which is bigger, brighter, and more modern than their last studio.

Dan Alperin, a Senior Account Manager at 98.5, greeted us shortly after we arrived and he took the time to show us around the new studio before we recorded the PSA.  I saw Zolak & Bertrand, 98.5’s weekday 10AM-2PM show, broadcasting live in the new radio studio. After that we headed to the recording studio, where Roger Moore, one of 98.5’s producers, was waiting.

He had the PSA copy ready when we arrived. The actual copy I used for the PSA is pictured below. It is typed up in ALL CAPS intentionally as it makes it easier to read. It is also used to ensure timing for the recording, which in my case was a 30-second spot.

 

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Since I had practiced on the way over, I was able to record the PSA very quickly.  Roger was very pleased and impressed since I was able to finish the recording in just 3 takes. Here’s a video of part of my original recording takes:

After that, Roger worked his magic.  He played around with the recording and picked out my best audio for each portion of the PSA and balanced my “EQ”.  EQ is short for equalization of my audio so I would sound at my best.  After that, he added music, and in just about 10 minutes, he was done, and the PSA was ready to send to APEX for approval. We saved the PSA on a flash drive, and I put together a quick video to go along with the professionally produced audio.

We took a couple pictures in the studio before we left.

 

Dan told us the PSA would be on air by next week if not this week.  On our way out, we ran into Scott Zolak, who’s show was on break.  We took a picture with him outside the studio where Zolak & Bertrand was on-air.

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Here’s a couple more pictures of my dad and I from around the studio:

Before we left, Dan let us know about the next Mr. Sid event.  On September 6th, they will have another NFL Kickoff event like last year at Mr. Sid in Newton.  He also invited us to a party at the APEX this week.  I was already planning to be there on Monday with Tyler Lagasse but twice in the span of a week was good with me because I always have so much fun there.

I’d like to thank the APEX Entertainment Center, Dan Alperin, Roger Moore, and the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism for making all this possible.  I cannot believe I am going to be on the air for the next several weeks on Boston’s #1 sports radio station!  It’s truly AMAZING!

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