Congrats to Eli and the #1 UMD Bulldogs!
Hola loyal reader. Please join Bruce and Mary as they revel in the thrill of their nephew Eli Kelley winning a national football championship as a member of the UMD Bulldogs. For those of you email subscribers who prefer to view posts from the blog-site, please click here.
Eli is the son of my departed brother Neil and we have always been close. So you can imagine my excitement yesterday as I was glued to my computer screen feeling lucky that I was able to find a P2P video stream of the game. It was on ESPN2 and broadcast live, but when I went to my neighborhood bar, El Lucero I found much to my dismay that ESPN2 down here was telecasting a soccer game! So I sprinted back home, called a couple friends who I knew had different TV services and it was the same result. But then I thought, after I did find an audio stream in my panic, that maybe, just maybe some kindhearted D2 soul would upload a feed to my P2P site and lo and behold I was tuned in, Hallelujah!! Well it was as exciting a football game as I have ever seen as the Bulldogs overcame the Delta State Statesmen and 3 adverse challenge decisions to win the national D2 football title 20-17 on a field goal as time expired.
I got Eli started lifting weights when he was about 14 or 15. Neil was very much behind it and we all went out to Dunham’s Sports in Waite Park, a suburb of St. Cloud where Neil and Eli lived.Â I selected all the equipment Eli would need for a home gym to be set up in their detached garage and price was no object as Neil whipped out his credit card. We hauled the equipment home and got started right away. I have never had such an eager student. I told Neil, “That kid was born to lift.” And as it turned out, to play football as well. As Eli grew and became stronger this honor roll student started to dominate HS football (2 yr starter at St. Cloud Tech and all-state his senior year). Neil used to crack about how he was happy now to be buying all that protein powder and muscle building supplements because one day he would be living in Eli’s compound when he made the pros.
Eli and his single dad were a great team but you wondered who was raising who as Eli showed from his early youth an unusual maturity and frankly on more than one occasion Neil was darn lucky to have had Eli looking out for him. I was in the loop as Eli was being recruited by many colleges but no D1 schools called because, despite his weight (about 290) and strength (he holds virtually all the strength records at Tech) he was, at 6’1″, deemed too short for D1. Well, long story short, and much to his satisfaction (especially now of course) he chose an athletic scholarship to the U of MN in Duluth.
Eli reported to camp the summer of 2008 and was red-shirted which is policy for freshman offensive linemen and he rode the fan bus down to AL to celebrate UMD’s first national title. Then, in his sophomore year after really asserting himself in camp, he suffered a fractured wrist but the silver lining was that he did qualify for a medical red-shirt year. This year he won the starting center position in camp, dominated play throughout the year as UMD was ranked #1 by D2Football. com and Eli was awarded first team all NSIC conference, the only freshman to be accorded that honor. It was a storybook season and the only thing missing from this incredible experience was Eli’s dad and my brother, Neil. He would have loved every moment of this ride.
This is me, Eli, and Neil about the time I got Eli lifting.
After both of us filled up the bar doing shrugs we were tied. We decided on the hammer-strength bench for our tie breaker and I barely edged Eli out. For that Neil bought us all lunch. The next year we had a rematch and Eli smoked me. I officially retired from any further competition with Eli during the following victory lunch, courtesy yours truly.
Thanks for visiting gentle reader. Bruce hopes you enjoyed this post as it was with particular joy and sadness that Bruce penned it. Please feel free to comment, to do so simply click on the title of the post and scroll down. Hasta proxima semana!