My Support for the Average Fitness Competitor

Last week I read a very interesting blog post that ruffled a lot of feathers. Some dude named Christian Thibaudeau sounded off on his disdain for the influx of women entering into body building/figure competitions. He basically said people are doing it for all the wrong reasons, namely for attention. He made no attempts to hide his hatred for selfies, Instagram posts, and Facebook albums that new competitors use to chronicle their transformation. To read his passionate post, click here.

I agree with Thibaudeau on this: the explosion of ordinary women competing in body competitions is very real. My social media feeds are many times completely dominated with girls I know posting photos showcasing their training regimen, pre/post workout faces, before and after body comparisons, competition action, and trophies. To me, it almost seems like the majority of my female friends are taking part in these fitness endeavors.

But do I have a problem with it?

Absolutely not. Even if the goal of each girl actually was to garner attention, I still really wouldn’t mind it just because the work needed to receive that attention was noble. If the sole reason someone got really fit was just to receive 1,000 likes on an Instagram image, the fact of the matter is that she still got really fit. She overhauled her body, why hate?

Of course most females don’t do competitions to win praise from others. They do it because they want to challenge themselves, make a positive change, and set goals. Also, it is a legitimate hobby these days. It seems to me that I see just about as many girls enter fitness competitions as I do see them go watch “Pitch Perfect 2″ or make a craft they saw off of Pinterest. It is a trendy thing to do but it is a positive thing to do.

I might not prefer the body competition look that so many women have attained but I sure as heck respect it. I also respect Thibaudeau’s right to his opinion but I really do question his motives. As a fitness nut himself, you would think that he would support more people entering his growing industry. Perhaps he just wanted to stir the pot a little bit?

I admire my friends who set a goal, start a program, and transform their bodies. There is absolutely no way I can discount the amount of hard work it takes to pull off such a feat. To all my fitness competitor friends…don’t let Christian get under your skin. Don’t Blink.

The Triumph of Sean Carty and the Community

It just usually doesn’t turn out this way.

Many times when an organization makes a personnel decision, especially an educational body, the decision stands. Although a full line of appeals await, many times it is fruitless. Even in this recent Mead High School case where the verdict was so flawed and so knee-jerk, the powers that be usually don’t budge. In fact, in my initial blog post addressing the non-renewal of the head football coach’s contract, I likened the chances of a reversal to the completion of a Hail Mary. I guess I didn’t give full consideration to the fact that they were dealing with Sean Carty.

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When I received word last night that the Mead School District had struck down the principal’s decision and reinstated Carty to his head coach position, I was elated. I typed out an all-caps text message laced with question marks and exclamation points and sent it to the man himself. Carty responded in the best way possible.

Could this have been more perfect?

Could this have been more perfect?

Yesterday at around 3 p.m., the superintendent informed Carty in-person that the job he had held with honor, integrity, and success for 14 years was still his. By 3:30 p.m. he was strategizing on how he would bring the team, all players and all parents included, closer together than ever before. Think about that for one second. If you had a small group of people who literally made your life hell for six months and did all they could to take away your passion, wouldn’t you want to rub your vindication in their faces? Not Carty. He is not dwelling on the lies and the smear campaign. In fact, he probably wouldn’t even address it if you asked him. Sean says he is all about uniting the team and that the actions of a few adults is “water under the bridge.”

I want to take Carty’s lead and not dwell on the parents. Rather, I would much rather focus on Coach Carty’s resiliency. Or I would much rather focus on the humility of the Mead School District to correct the mistake of one of its administrators. Or I would much rather focus on the savvy and intelligence of the three men who helped represent Carty through the appeals process…Don Beloved, Paul Kautzman, and David Whitehead. Or I would much rather focus on the patience of the assistant coaches who also battled through this storm without contracts. Or I would much rather focus on the strength of Carty’s wife and two daughters who had to witness the injustice.

Sean Carty would like to focus on the community. Both in our texts last night and a brief call this morning, he expressed his gratitude to the people of Mead and elsewhere who supported him. Former players, current players, athletes, non-athletes, parents, staff, and so many other groups immediately came to his defense. It was a tough time but the overwhelming support he was given made a huge difference. He has his job and his reputation back but Carty told me those wins pale in comparison to something else:

“Just knowing that I had a positive impact and that people believed in me is victory enough.”

I would also like to express my gratitude to the community as well. I was so impressed with all the people who contacted me wanting to do anything they could to help out. Some of these people I had not talked to in years, most I had never talked to in my life. Coach Carty stood up for what was right and fought this. But the collaborative effort of the community gave him that extra boost he needed. Social media is extremely powerful.

The sun shined down a little brighter off the blue track that circles the football field at Mead High School this morning. Those same rays also radiated off the big gold rock that greets each player before practice. Thankfully, the school will now have to wait a little longer until they name it after Sean Carty. All is right in Panther Land again, the good of high school athletics triumphed over the bad. Don’t Blink.

Big Developments in Carty Case and My Letterman Reaction

It is another great day to be alive! I hope this week has gone smoothly for all of you. Thursday is here again and that means it is time for the latest rundown. Here we go…

Carty Developments – I definitely have some new information on the Sean Carty appeal process to share with you. Dr. Rockefeller excused himself from hearing Coach Carty’s case because the two men developed a personal relationship over the years. An assistant superintendent stepped in instead. I have been told that the allegations hastily leveled against Carty from a small group of parents have been completely discredited. The ruling body will not even consider the silly complaints lodged by these people. Instead, if the contract non-renewal is upheld, it will be solely on the belief of the district that the Mead football program needs to go in a new direction.

Of course many people will probably be upset about this. You see, an investigation was conducted as a result of these allegations. District time and resources went into this examination. In the end, it was all a complete waste. Although this is a major victory for Coach Carty, his football job still hangs in the balance. If the assistant superintendent feels that Carty’s overall winning record, GSL championships, and model way of developing young men is not enough, he will take his case to the final level…the school board. Coach Carty will know his fate very soon, perhaps tonight. If we aren’t celebrating his reinstatement, I will make an edit underneath this paragraph encouraging any supporters to e-mail the school board in a show of support for Sean. Stay tuned.

Scroll down to the very end of my blog post to see a very elegant comment left just today that a former blogger on the prep scene left regarding Coach Carty and parents. It is very telling.

********BREAKING: Sean Carty is once again the head football coach of the Mead Panthers. He was reinstated a couple hours ago. Coach Carty would like all of his supporters to know how thankful he is for the role this community played in fighting for what was right. Click here for Carty reaction and my final reflections on the whole ordeal. Congrats to Sean and his family.**********

Letterman Finale – When it comes to show finales, they can be hit or miss. In my opinion, David Letterman hit a grand slam with last night’s final episode of the “Late Show.” I thought his opening monologue set the tone and that his reflection/thank you session was satisfying. However, my two favorite moments came with the top ten list and the ending montage. It was a lot of fun watching the major celebrities walk out one-by-one to reveal the contents of the list. It kept me guessing on who would walk out of the curtain next but mostly I was fixated on what the next item on the list was going to be! Dave going down the line to shake hands with each person before the commercial break was priceless.

When the show ended with that collection of photos while the Foo Fighters played “Everlong,” I felt everything came together. Even though each image appeared on screen for about a tenth of a second, every one seemed to register with me. It really explained the significance and scope of the “Late Show.” An icon left the airwaves last night.

Residence Hall Reveal – When the academic year comes to a conclusion, strong content for social media can sometimes be hard to find. Not this week. Over the next 14 months, we will have four new residence halls opening up on campus (yes, our university is growing like crazy). We wanted to make a splash introducing these new buildings to the community. Deciding to give each new residence hall its own turn in the sun, I showcased each one on a separate day this week. Making sure to reveal each one in a special way across our main social media outlets, our audience loved learning the names of the new halls and viewing the slick renderings of each building. Tomorrow the #CCUResHallReveal will culminate with a video giving the viewer a hard hat tour of all four structures.

Renderings of all four of our new residence halls. They are named Chanticleer Hall, Tradition Hall, CINO Hall, and Teal Hall.

Renderings of all four of our new residence halls. They are named Chanticleer Hall, Tradition Hall, CINO Hall, and Teal Hall.

NBA Conference Finals – I am not straddling the fence when it comes to who I want to see come out of their respective conference finals. I am hoping for an Atlanta Hawks vs. Golden State Warriors championship. I just can’t bring myself to cheer for Lebron and the Cavs…no way. When it comes to the Western Conference, I am cheering for a team instead of against one. I really want to see Steve Kerr and Stephen Curry make it to the NBA Finals. Watching the Warriors make it to the grand stage would be refreshing and fun. Once the championship is set, I will be sure to fill you in on who I want to see hoisting the trophy at the end.

Bikefest – In Myrtle Beach there is a major event called Bikefest. Thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts converge on our area every Memorial Day weekend. The city becomes swamped and getting around is very difficult. Last year the event was marred by several shootings and deaths. It caused a colossal outrage in the community and the planning to clean up the event pretty much started the Tuesday after Memorial Day. I kid you not, the efforts to make sure this year’s event is not a repeat of 2014 have been chronicled on the front page of our local newspaper pretty much every single day since last May. Law enforcement from all over the state will be aiding our local police officers to make sure the weekend goes off without a hitch. To say Bikefest is a complex issue is an understatement. There is a big racial element that causes a great divide and many misunderstandings between groups. My only hope is that we will have a very harmonious next three days here in Myrtle Beach.

Bikers take over Myrtle Beach during Bikefest. (Photo courtesy of the Sun News).

Bikers take over Myrtle Beach during Bikefest. (Photo courtesy of the Sun News).

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On that Bikefest note, have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. I will keep you updated on the Sean Carty situation. As always, I am very thankful to all my readers for taking the time to read my ramblings. You all are the real MVPs. Don’t Blink.

As promised, here is a comment that was left today on my initial blog post about the happening at Mead High School:

Comment from blogger

Speaking to Middle School Students

Today I had a pretty awesome opportunity. I represented Coastal Carolina University and I went out to Loris Middle School to take part in the Roaring Lions Career Day. For most of my readers who don’t know, Loris is a tiny town located in South Carolina about 45 minutes away from Myrtle Beach. Early this morning I ventured out to the middle school to educate a bunch of eighth graders on what I do for a living.

I visited Loris Middle School today.

I visited Loris Middle School today.

When I worked at the University of Montana I visited a lot of elementary and middle schools because I was in charge of our Griz Student of the Month program. However, it never required me to stand up in front of a classroom for an extended period of time. Tasked today with giving a 40 minute presentation on all facets of my job, I just hoped that I wouldn’t bore the poor kids to death.

A couple minutes before it was show time.

A couple minutes before it was show time.

But in all honesty, I was sent to fight against such a reaction. We thought perhaps the eighth graders would enjoy listening to someone with a career in utilizing fun tools such as Snapchat, Instagram, and Yik Yak. So, with the understanding that I would actually be talking in their language, I thought my presentation had the potential to go over well. Armed with a PowerPoint full of Chauncey photos, plenty of giveaway items, and trivia questions sprinkled throughout my slides, I stood up in front of the classroom and did my thing.

Behind my gimmicks and corniness, I tried to stress one major theme to the students: Social media is a legitimate career that is on the rise. I tried to supplement that message with ways in which the students could position themselves for social media jobs in the future if that was the direction they wanted to head. I also went through what I do on a daily basis, objectives that are expected out of me, professionalism/salary/work ethic, and the reasons why I love my job. Except for the two students who slept through my whole presentation, the other 100 eighth graders seemed to be engaged with and interested in what I had to say. The lively Q&A sessions after each of my talks assured me that students are interested in new media careers.

Loris Middle School students starting to fill the classroom for my first presentation.

Loris Middle School students starting to fill the classroom for my first presentation.

With my last sentence, you are probably now aware that I gave more than one presentation. Believe it or not, I gave FOUR of them. Different eighth grade classes circulated throughout my assigned classroom during the morning. Let me say this, I gained a great appreciation for middle school and high school teachers (as I date an elementary teacher, I already have the utmost respect for them). Speaking for 40 minutes is tiring enough but to do it four times in a row is a bit taxing. Sure, you develop your delivery by the fourth time but everything starts running together. I was asking myself during the last two presentations whether I had already told the students certain points or not.

After each presentation, at least one or two students stayed behind to either ask me questions in a more private manner or to just shake my hand. I thought that was pretty neat. When the morning ended, all the professionals ate with the Loris staff in the teacher’s lounge. We were treated to fried chicken, green beans, rice and gravy, and peach cobbler. As sixth graders, seventh graders, and eighth graders all had various professional speak to them, about 12 people who “sacrificed” their mornings at work to attend the Roaring Lions Career Day filled the lounge. I sat at a table with a land surveyor, a lawyer, and a high school head football coach. It was a great way to end my day at Loris Middle School.

I had a rewarding time participating in today’s career day. Getting out of the office every now and then to speak to young people is a special treat. I hope to do this again in the future while continuing to educate students on the very real and prospering career of social media. Hats off to all the teachers out there who devote everything they have to the young people who are our future. Don’t Blink.

Thanks for the Laughs, Mr. Letterman

Tomorrow night, David Letterman will sign off from the “Late Show.” With over 30 years hosting a late night program and over 20 of those years coming at CBS, most television viewers will find it a little strange once Dave goes off the air. Count me as one of those.

I became a David Letterman fan when I bought a publication that contained a collection of his famous Top Ten lists at a book fair in elementary school. I skimmed through the book with a friend and saw that it had the word “damn” and “hell” sprinkled throughout it. By buying it, I felt like a seasoned adult. Through reading the book, I became familiar with the show’s humor and format a few years before I even actually started watching it. Of course, once I actually did get to watch the program I felt like a stud. Staying up late and watching the semi-adult humor made me feel cool.

A picture I took outside of the Ed Sullivan Theater during a trip to New York in 2008.

A picture I took outside of the Ed Sullivan Theater during a trip to New York in 2008.

I have stayed loyal to Letterman throughout the years. I thought he blew Leno out of the water. With the new age of late night hosts taking over the past few years, I still preferred Dave. I watched him through middle school, high school, and college. There was a stretch during my final year in Montana that I seemed to watch the show a few times a week. I enjoyed his dry, sometimes mean, sense of humor. He could make me laugh out loud.

I have a few special memories when it comes to “Late Night with David Letterman.” The first was watching Alex Rodriguez go on the show for the first time. It was the mid-90’s and A-Rod had started to establish himself as a superstar. As he was a hero of mine, it was a big deal to me that he would be on the show. My parents taped the program for me and I viewed it the next day. I watched the interview thinking that Letterman absolutely loved Alex. Little did I know that Dave (just like any other late night host) smiles at all his guests and does all he can to make them look good.

An extended memory that I have is watching the show with my dad on Friday nights when I was in middle school. Back in those days, and he might still do it now, Letterman would always use Fridays to open up the CBS Mailbag and answer questions from viewers. He would read a question and then they would play some super corny skit they taped earlier in the day to address the answer. My dad and I loved how dumb these sketches were and also had a mild obsession with the song they would play when the segment would start.

Of course my favorite David Letterman memory was when I actually got to watch a live taping of the show in 2008. My dad, brother, and I took a vacation to watch baseball games in the old Yankees Stadium and Shea Stadium before they both shut down. During the days of the trip, we explored the city. A couple weeks before we left for the Big Apple, I applied for tickets to the Late Show. About a week later I received a telephone call from a Late Night staff member. He told me if I could answer a trivia question correctly I would win two tickets. He asked me to name the show’s announcer and it took me all but one second to respond with Alan Kalter.

My brother and I attended the taping. The Ed Sullivan Theater is so much smaller in person than on TV. Dave came out and talked to everyone in the audience before the show started and was a totally cool guy. Once the taping began, despite a couple outtakes, it was smooth sailing. Amanda Peet and John Hamm were the guests. Augustana served as the musical act. It was a neat experience and definitely cemented my fandom for David Letterman.

Glen and I with our "Late Show" tickets right before we entered  the theater in 2008.

Glen and I with our “Late Show” tickets right before we entered the theater in 2008.

I will be watching the final show tomorrow evening. I wish David Letterman, Paul Shaffer, Biff Henderson, Alan Kalter, and the rest of the gang the best. I am thankful for the 15+ years of entertainment that was provided to me. Don’t Blink.

Cruel Fate

Yesterday I learned the tragic news that Peter Underwood, an assistant women’s soccer coach at the Division I level, passed away in a car accident. I had the pleasure of getting to know Peter when we both worked at the University of Montana. I often say that I never got too close to the coaches when working in intercollegiate athletics but Peter and I talked frequently. He had so much appreciation for the work that the athletic department did for the soccer program. A young coach with an elegant English accent and dashing good looks, it was easy to like Coach Underwood.

Peter Underwood stands on the left next to fellow assistant coach C.J. Cooper during their Montana days. (Photo is courtesy of Linda Thompson of the Missoulian).

Peter Underwood stands on the left next to fellow assistant coach C.J. Cooper during their Montana days. (Photo is courtesy of Linda Thompson of the Missoulian).

 

On a recruiting trip when the accident happened, Peter’s death leaves behind a wife and two young children. The unnecessary end to his life was caused by a drunk driver going the wrong way on the interstate.

Peter most recently served as an assistant coach at Nebraska.

Peter most recently served as an assistant coach at Nebraska.

I have a hard time dealing with car accidents. To me, it seems like way too many of them occur. You can just quiz yourself and probably immediately think up five names of people you know who perished while inside automobiles. Then you can probably start thinking about famous people who met their demise behind the wheel and probably come up with at least ten additional names.

Car accidents are different from cancer or other extended illnesses for obvious reasons. They happen without warning, the victims are often too young, and the results almost always grisly. The thought of a loved one being taken in this way will make most people shudder in fear.

As I have grown older, I have reached a better understanding of why my mom could never rest from the time I left for a road trip to the time I reached my destination. Not until I called my mom and let her know that I made it safely could she exhale. Although statistics minimize the overall chances of getting into a fatal car accident, the potential and threat is always there. Bad weather, a deer in the middle of the road, an in-vehicle distraction, an impaired driver, or a host of other conditions can bring a much-too-soon end to life.

Disturbing for many of us is thinking about what car accident victims go through. What went through the poor person’s mind a couple seconds before impact when they knew they were doomed? How excruciating was the pain in the aftermath? What about the fear? These questions are absolutely horrible to contemplate but they really describe why I am so troubled when it comes to car accidents. We can think about what it would be like if it happened to us and get a little scared. But then when we think about it happening to someone who we love very much it not only makes us scared but also sick to our stomachs.

We just never know. It was by absolute cruel luck that Peter was driving that Iowa road at 7:05 a.m. this past Saturday. A billion little things could have occurred that would have diverted the disaster. In the end, it is just the nature of car accidents, the ultimate thief of life and potential.

This is one of those posts where my beloved phrase Don’t Blink rings even more true than usual. No matter how many precautions we all take when we get behind the wheel of a car or sit in that passenger seat, we are always at risk when on the road. We never know when it will all end. My condolences go out to the Underwood family. Don’t Blink.

Spending a Special Occasion in Savannah

Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of Sidney and I dating. Wanting to celebrate the milestone in style, we decided to go on a trip. We chose historic Savannah, Georgia, to commemorate a very special year.

A four-hour drive from Myrtle Beach, we left home early on Saturday morning. By 11 a.m. we rolled into Savannah. The first thing we noticed was the beautiful Spanish Moss that grows wildly throughout the whole city. The unique vegetation literally hangs down from everywhere, including the roadways. You drive the streets and you have a green ceiling with Spanish Moss growing above you.

You can see the Spanish Moss dangling above in the photo I took on the left. The photo on the right that I took shows what most of the streets in Savannah look like.

You can see the Spanish Moss dangling above in the photo I took on the left. The photo on the right that I took shows what most of the streets in Savannah look like.

We drove straight to the historical downtown area. Upon parking we checked out a couple stores, including one gem where I had the pleasure of sampling many different kinds of tupelo honey. We then strolled into the visitor’s bureau. With such an old and important American city, we wanted to receive the best possible introduction to Savannah and we thought no better way to do that than with a tour. Although the center pulled at me with several different haunted tours, we decided to go on an open-air trolley excursion. We bought our tickets and off we went.

I had the pleasure of trying these different tupelo honeys.

I had the pleasure of trying these different tupelo honeys.

The 90-minute tour conducted by Old Savannah Tours took us to 16 stops across the beautiful downtown landscape. Our tour guide, Omer, did a wonderful job explaining every detail about Savannah history. We had the joy of seeing amazing 300-year-old mansions, famous cemeteries, the busy waterfront street, the oldest African-American congregation in the nation, a couple other notable churches, and the amazing different squares of Savannah.

Some of the images from our tour! (clockwise starting in the top left corner: St. John's Cathedral, a pirate that hopped on at one of the spots, Madison Square, Sidney and I on the trolley).

Some of the images from our tour! (clockwise starting in the top right corner: St. John’s Cathedral, a pirate that hopped on at one of the spots, Madison Square, Sidney and I on the trolley).

Ah yes, the squares! Downtown Savannah is characterized by numerous different green park/garden areas called squares. Each one is vibrantly beautiful and named after a hero from the 1700’s. In the middle of each square you will find a statue of its namesake and more often than not a fountain. Sidney and I had an affinity toward the one square that happened to be named after a battle instead of a person, Chippewa Square. You see, this was the area where all the “Forrest Gump” bench scenes were filmed. Later in the day we went back to the square and took a photo and pointed out spots that we recognized from the movie.

Sidney and I hung out in Chippewa Square, a place that is featured prominently in "Forrest Gump." Many of you will recognize the lions.

Sidney and I hung out in Chippewa Square, a place that is featured prominently in “Forrest Gump.” Many of you will recognize the lions.

When the tour ended, we went and enjoyed a snack. We visited the Moon Brewing Company where we sat out on the restaurant’s patio. It was a magnificently gorgeous day in Savannah and the area was filled with other folks like us wanting to take advantage of the prime people watching opportunities and nourishing sun rays. Sidney and I enjoyed a plate of nachos and a couple beers. Because Savannah allows for people to consume alcoholic beverages out on the streets, we ordered a couple of to-go beverages.

After our time on the restaurant’s patio, we hit up the Colonial Cemetery. As someone who adores graveyards, I almost couldn’t contain my excitement in this one. Most everyone buried on the grounds died in the 1700’s. Many of the tombstones you couldn’t even read because time had completely swept away the epitaphs. A good portion of the deceased rested in underground crypts. These burial arrangements sometimes contained up to 40 family members. A family representative would be responsible for taking the bones of older family members and placing them in a large bucket so newly deceased members could be laid to rest in the space that was once occupied by an intact body. You could sense the history while walking on the grounds.

Some images from Colonial Cemetery. As you can see, many of the tombstones you can't even read. In the top right hand image you see one of the crypts that dominate the cemetery.

Some images from Colonial Cemetery. As you can see, many of the tombstones you can’t even read. In the top right hand image you see one of the crypts that dominate the cemetery.

Once we left the cemetery we looked at other sites around Savannah. Needing to check in at the hotel and get ready for the night, I made sure we made one last stop before doing so…we paid a visit to the fifth best ice cream parlor in the world. Called Leopold’s, the 1919 shop was recognized as one of the best on the planet in 2011. Obviously other tourists knew about this distinction as well because we spent about 30 minutes outside of the shop in line. Once we got in I had a scoop of a flavor called Chocolate Peanut Butter Chippy and Sidney had a milkshake. While my ice cream was very good, I have had better before.

We enjoyed a cold treat at one of the best ice cream parlors in the world.

We enjoyed a cold treat at one of the best ice cream parlors in the world. On the left, that is the line we waited in for 30 minutes.

We stayed in a hotel about 15 minutes away from downtown. Like most of Savannah it was old yet charming. We checked in and showered and then headed back to the historical area. As night fell we strolled down the waterfront street. We went inside The Peanut Shop, a store solely devoted to peanuts! They had a Hot Sriracha flavor that I wanted to purchase but as the store was closing for the day, I decided not to. I plan to see if I can order a can online.

Sidney in front of The Peanut Shop.

Sidney in front of The Peanut Shop.

For our anniversary dinner, we ate at Paula Deen’s own restaurant called Lady & Sons. Sidney had been looking forward to eating here all trip and it did not disappoint. Specializing in Southern fare, the place was packed with passionate Paula Deen fans. When our name was called we took an elevator to the third floor of the restaurant. We had the option to indulge in a buffet stocked with Southern staples but we didn’t want to hate ourselves so we ordered from the menu. I had the chicken pot pie while Sidney had shrimp. While we waited, a staff member came over and gave us each a hoe cake and a cheddar jalapeno biscuit. The hoe cake was a little slice of heaven and the biscuit was heavy and fresh. Our entrees both tasted great, but boxes were needed.

Sidney and I in the Lady & Sons waiting room, my chicken pot pie, and Sidney with her dish.

Sidney and I in the Lady & Sons waiting room, my chicken pot pie, and Sidney with her dish.

We walked out of the restaurant and into the Savannah evening, a time in the city immortalized by lyrics to a Tim McGraw song. We would make it back to the hotel later that night, concluding a wonderful day that capped a wonderful year with my beautiful girlfriend. For the way that Savannah marked this special occasion for Sidney and I, the city will always have a special place in my heart. Don’t Blink.

The Fake Brent Reser

NOTE:  I published this post at 6:30 p.m. on May 14. By midnight, the fake Brent Reser profile had been removed by Facebook. Thanks to everyone for reporting the account. Facebook acted very swiftly.

As someone who has a professional career in social media and who takes his personal brand very seriously, what I saw last night almost made me vomit. My friend in Montana sent me a couple screen captures of a Facebook profile. The images I glimpsed at made me a little uptight.

This particular profile belonged to a guy named Brent Reser. Hmmmm…funny. I know that name and I know that person. Only this was not Brent’s Facebook page that I have grown to love. While the cover photo and profile photo depicted the image of the only Brent Reser I know, something wasn’t right. What was going on?

Okay, enough of the sarcasm. My friend had sent me images of a Facebook page using my name and likeness. I scrolled through the screenshots wondering if my friend was playing a joke on me. After I coached him through on how to provide me with the URL for the page it became clear that he wasn’t. I visited the page myself and saw that an impostor Brent Reser was out there “living” in New York City.

Here is my fake profile that exists on Facebook.

Here is my fake profile that exists on Facebook (please don’t send a friend request).

I was upset that someone had decided to create a Facebook profile using myself. As I know I am the only Brent Reser on the planet (it’s true) and as I have already met my double once before, there was no question that this Facebook page was a complete scam. Someone out there was tarnishing the honest work I devoted to establishing my personal brand on the world wide web. You bet I was angry.

Yes, I know Brent and he doesn't live in New York City nor is he from Columbia, South Carolina.

Yes, I know Brent and he doesn’t live in New York City nor is he from Columbia, South Carolina.

But soon my mini rage turned to laughter. I started reading some of the bizarre statuses on the page:
* Drinking coffee (I don’t drink coffee).
* Knicks are worse than ever…P.J. do something! #diaster (I know how to spell “disaster.”).
* Motivates me to fight with this weather – Listening to Bob Marley (I hate Bob Marley).
* Xmassss (Do you mean Christmas?).

A look at some of the fake content generated by "me." I have seen "The Longest Ride" but I have not read it.

A look at some of the fake content generated by “me.” I have seen “The Longest Ride” but I have not read it.

The complete random photos used to make up my mock profile also gave me a chuckle. They had all somehow been lifted from my Instagram account over a two week period in late November and early December. I then took a look at my 300+ “friends.” All weird, random people. I decided to look at my “interests.” I had liked several different pages of New York sports teams. I had also liked obscure no-name athletes such as Carlos Reutemann and Pat Cash. I liked a public figure named Sergio Tacchini and a business called Christmas Ice Caverns. It was all a complete farce.

The random photos pulled from my Instagram account to be used on my fake Facebook profile.

The random photos pulled from my Instagram account to be used on my fake Facebook profile.

My theory is that some low-life con artist is using my information (including the information of thousands of others) to create fake Facebook profiles. He/she is then selling “likes” or “friends” on Facebook to businesses or celebrities looking to take a shortcut when it comes to building their social media channels.

Some of the fake garbage.

Some of the fake garbage.

Although I still have a sense of humor about this whole thing, I do need to get this account deleted. Now that I have written this blog post (thanks for the topic you scammers) I will go about the proper channels in doing so. The URL of my imposter page is www.facebook.com/brent.reser.9 . If you are bored tonight, I would love it if you visited the page, clicked on the “floating dots” button right next to the message button on the cover photo, and select report this account.

If you have time, help me report this fake Brent Reser account.

If you have time, help me report this fake Brent Reser account.

They say imitation is the best form of flattery but that doesn’t apply here. A good reminder in all of this is to constantly check social media and the internet in general to make sure your name is not being taken advantage of. Although I wish everyone knew that I detest the music of Bob Marley and thus would dismiss the fake account when they saw it, I know this is not always the case. Be on the lookout! Don’t Blink.

Battle of the Mortarboards

If I cornered you and made you tell me the first thing you notice at a typical college graduation I am pretty sure of the answer. Admit it, you would reply with graduation caps! In recent years, mortarboard art has exploded at ceremonies across the country. Students have embraced both self-expression and their artistic side to create bold and colorful statements on the top of commencement headgear. To many students, it is a big deal.

Coastal Carolina University is no different from other colleges in the nation. Our students love to decorate their caps and proudly show them off on graduation day. For photographers and social media marketers, we appreciate the passion that creative students bring to this art form. You see, it gives us another angle to cover besides boring images of the commencement speaker, similar-looking photos of students flashing their diplomas, and generic venue shots. The option to sprinkle in mortarboard art throughout graduation coverage provides a breath of fresh air.

Our students go all out decorating their graduation caps. This photo was taken during the Wall College of Business graduation ceremony on Friday.

Our students go all out decorating their graduation caps. This photo was taken during the Wall College of Business graduation ceremony on Friday.

Over the course of the four graduation ceremonies this past weekend, I made sure to feature enough creative caps to liven up the overall story of our 2015 #CCU Spring Commencement. However, I made sure not to over-do it and make the significant moment excessively about weirdly-shaped hats with colors, bows, and beads on them.

As someone who has a lot of respect for teachers, I thought this cap was really cool.

As someone who has a lot of respect for teachers, I thought this cap was really cool.

But when Monday came around and it had been over 48 hours since the last student crossed the stage, I decided to make #CCUSocialMedia devoted to mortarboard art. I took 40 images depicting the best decorated hats from the weekend and threw them into a Facebook album. I then instructed our social media audience to vote for their favorite cap by liking the image. Voters could like as many of the photos as they wanted. I set the contest deadline for today at 5 p.m. and promised the graduate with the most votes a Chanticleer prize pack.

This was the Facebook post that went out explaining the contest.

This was the Facebook post that went out explaining the contest.

It didn’t take long for our young graduates to get competitive. I didn’t tell anyone that I was doing this contest. However, as soon as I made the promotion live, word spread and any former student who had their cap featured in the competition immediately knew. A lot of sharing, liking, and campaigning took place over the course of the next 27 hours.

Although it didn't come close to winning, I thought the "Little Mermaid" cap was cool.

Although it didn’t come close to winning, I thought the “Little Mermaid” cap was cool.

When 5 p.m. hit today I announced our winner. Garnering over 1,300 likes is the cap below this paragraph. To be honest, I don’t even know what this technique is called but I think it might be rhinestoning? I saw that word mentioned on the comment thread. I also gathered from the comments that something like this had to have taken a very long time. Again, I am not privy to the great effort it takes to supposedly create a design like this but wonderful job to Chandler Parnell, the proud owner of the mortarboard.

Chandler Parnell won the grand prize with over 1,300 likes for this hat.

Chandler Parnell won the grand prize with over 1,300 likes for this hat.

I decided to offer a second place prize too. I must say that I totally missed the boat on this one as well. I had never heard the term “Bye Felicia” until I looked it up last night when the image started to gain a great deal of its 530 likes. For those who are as clueless as me, it is a phrase from the movie “Friday.”

With 530 votes, this cap took second place. I didn't understand the "Bye Felicia" reference until I looked it up last night.

With 530 votes, this cap took second place. I didn’t understand the “Bye Felicia” reference until I looked it up last night.

Several other images earned over 300 likes. It was fun to see what graduates were saying to motivate their friends and family to vote. Our album was shared 85 times and people with absolutely no connection to any of the hats expressed how much they loved the idea of the contest and the creativity of our former students.

I know college commencement season is just now heating up so we can expect thousands (maybe millions) of more cool mortarboards to be proudly worn on the heads of graduates. Maybe if all university social media managers did a similar type of contest, we could take all the winners from different schools and offer a national graduation cap championship. How cool would that be? Don’t Blink.