Monthly Archives: October 2021

Prolific punting couldn’t earn paternal praise

Steve Weatherford — whose punting pinned the Patriots back deep in their zone to help the Giants win Superbowl XLVI — says all his heroics were a vain attempt to get the approval of his father.

“I was trying to get the attention of my dad,” Weatherford says on a 7 Figure Squad video. “During a lot of those amazing achievements, I didn’t really enjoy them because the reason I was achieving them was I needed some affirmation from the most important person: dad.”

Today, Weatherford has found peace, approval and acceptance from Jesus, leaving behind the inner turmoil that led him to drugs and porn despite his outward appearance of success and manliness.

Born in Indiana, Steve Weatherford was raised in Baton Rouge. From an early age, he showed inclination for sports, playing football, soccer, basketball and track in high school. He didn’t enjoy the greatest relationship with his stoical, old school-style father.

The foray into sports began as a means to win his father’s approval. He worked out in the gym incessantly. As a result of his impressive physique, rumors circulated around town that he had bulked up thanks to “the juice.” One day, his dad even called him at school and told him to come over to the office.

“Oh crap, what did I do?” he wondered as he drove over to Dad’s. “Oh my God, I’m really in trouble.”

“There’s rumors around town that you’ve been taking steroids,” Dad said. “I’m not mad at you, but I want to get you help.”

“Initially I was really offended. I wanted to lash back,” Steve remembers. “But then I sat back into my chair and I thought to myself, ‘My dad thinks that I’ve done something with myself that is impossible to do without cheating.’”

“Dad, you might not believe me but I’ve done this 100% the right way,” he responded. “I’ll take a test right now.”

It was the closest thing to a compliment that he ever got from his dad.

Weatherford proceeded to the University of Illinois as a kicker and punter. He also played track and was named Sports Illustrated’s most underrated athlete in the Big Ten in 2004. He walked on to the New Orleans Saints and played for four teams before landing with the New York Giants.

Punters are usually wimps, by NFL standards. All they have to do is kick well. But Weatherford had the build of a lineman as a punter. He maintained a maniacal workout and diet regimen that got him featured in bodybuilding magazines.

On the outside, he was achieving his wildest dreams. But on the inside, he was losing battles. He watched porn and started taking percocet.

“I worked so hard to get into the NFL. I worked so hard to become the fittest man in the NFL twice. I worked so hard to (win the) Walter Peyton man of the year community service award. I worked so hard to become a Superbowl champion,” Weatherford says. “Looking back on my life, those were all predicated on getting my dad’s attention.”

Superbowl XLVI was a dream. The Giants were playing against Tom Brady’s Patriots.

Weatherford punted four times with such distance and precision that the Patriots found themselves in their own 10 and five yards — a marathon distance to touchdown. When the Giants came out on top, some observers called Weatherford the MVP.

A punter MVP?

Weatherford basked in the glory of his achievements. He looked over to Dad. He wanted so desperately for his father to clap him on the back, give him a bear hug and lavish patriarchal praise. Read the rest: Steve Weatherford Christian

Before he went viral in CHH, Miles Minnick came to church high

A gaggle of girls besieged him for his autograph at Great America because they thought he was Lil Bow Wow. Miles Minnick was 14, and that’s how he realized hip hop was his calling.

“If this is the kind of attention rappers get, let me go ahead and start rapping,” he says on a Testimony Stories video. “It was crazy.”

He immediately started free-styling inside the theme park. He rapped at school and won talent contests. He got chances to rap in the booth. Chockful of talent, he got noticed by big name San Francisco Bay area rappers and got invited to collaborate.

Miles’ trajectory moved assuredly toward success. But then he got saved and decided to dedicate his talent to God, and now he is one of the hottest new stars in Christian Hip Hop (CHH).

Miles Minnick grew up in Pittsburg, CA, with a polar opposite older brother, who “killed it” in athletics while Miles killed it in video games. In middle school he sported dyed-tip dreads and gold teeth.

His father prayed nightly with his sons but drove them to school in the morning with gangsta rap blaring: “F— the police!”

“When I was 8 or 9, we would go to church maybe once a month,” he remembers.

When Miles turned 12, his brother went to a church camp and came home on fire for God.

“My brother would chip away at me and chip away at me all the time. He would say, ‘Don’t do this? Why you do this?’ He would try to coach me in the correct way,” Miles recounts. “But I was still in the streets.”

He got a girl pregnant when he was 15, and he and his girlfriend brought the baby to class. The teacher often held the infant while teaching at the board.

“We were the school sweethearts. Everybody wanted to support us. Even though I was a knucklehead,” he admits. “I was trying to be a good dad, and I was a kid myself. The streets wouldn’t let me go.”

At age 16, Miles had his encounter with Christ. Ironically, it came when he was selling and smoking weed.

“I was a pothead,” he admits.

As he was getting high one day, a friend blurted out: “Hey bro, we should go to church!”

“Go to church? Right now?” he asked his buddy, who was also smoking marijuana. “We are high like nobody’s business. What are you talking about?”

The friend responded that there were pretty girls at the youth group. “I didn’t want to go, but they drug (sic) in there,” he says.

But youth group was closed, so they went into the main service at New Birth Church, Pittsburg.

“I was the one who didn’t want to go, but I wound up sitting on the edge of my seat, reading the songs off the projector, singing the songs,” he remembers. “It captivated me. I was feeling something I never felt before. I was fresh off the street, fresh off a smoking session. At the end of the service, the pastor pulled an altar call. I didn’t even know what that meant. I just knew I wanted it. I went up to the front, and the pastor laid his hands on me and prayed for me, and I fell out under the Spirit of God.

“I was on the ground weeping, crying my eyes out,” he adds. Read the rest: Miles Minnick

Mechanical Engineer/ football receiver

When he was a tyke, David Redden built legos.

On Saturday, the mechanical engineering major was called upon to build a second-half comeback for Santa Monica College. On a long pass in the fourth quarter, he cut inside of his coverage, clutched the ball and sped for an 80-yard touchdown to tie the score 41-41. SMC had overcome a third quarter deficit of 24-41 to Moorpark College.

“We got out of our style of play in the second quarter, but our guys were so resilient they played tough and came out in that second half and played hard,” said Coach Kelly Ledwidth. “Shoot, I’m proud of our guys. We haven’t ever battled back from something like that to make it a competitive game.”

But a heart-breaking missed pass interference call on the last play of the game on the Corsairs’ drive left the score at a disappointing 41-44. A 19-yard Raiders field goal sealed the victory at Moorpark College.

Santa Monica started brightly, scoring from the first kickoff. But a bad hike — and bad hikes were the order of the day — led to a safety on a punt. The score was 7-2.

But the Corsair defense conceded too much ground in much of the first quarter. Meanwhile the offense sputtered with a pick, a shanked punt and some other issues.

It was fairly even until Santa Monica again did what it has done in every game so far this season: It conceded a TD in the last two minutes of the half. The score was 17-26.

In the second half, Moorpark scored in TD in three plays.

SMC responded with a drive culminating in a TD pass to Hassan Biggus to make it 24-34. Read the rest: Santa Monica College football 2021

Unhappy feet

They are happy girls. But they needed happy feet.

Frida Macias is emblematic. She likes art and architecture. At least once a day, she laughs until she cries. She’s happy-go-lucky.

But Frida and her teammates, facing the toughest team in the league, didn’t have happy feet. On Thursday in Camarillo, Beacon Hill Academy delivered hits that feel like lightning bolts from Zeus, and a lot of their serves landed like attacks.

Lighthouse Christian Academy, if it was going to put a fight, had to move quickly on the court.

They didn’t. LCA lost in three straight sets: 10-25, 14-25, 11-25.

“We shouldn’t let so many balls drop,” Coach Jessica Young said. “When they decide to work hard and sacrifice their bodies, then we’ll be better.”

So happy feet that move fast.

“I feel like I could have done better by moving my feet,” Frida said. “But overall I think I did really good for this good team. At sometimes I was a little frustrated with myself because I wasn’t really moving my feet.”

LCA also needed to dive to return lightning bolts.

With an 8-2 season, the Saints will likely get into playoffs. Read the rest: Unhappy feet in volleyball

Wacky Wednesday, Whacky Tuesday

For WACKY Wednesday, Clara Czer wore impossible hair to school. For WHACKING Tuesday, the sophomore was whacking balls down upon her adversaries.

Lighthouse Christian Academy made full use of her hits (13) and kills (5) to beat San Fernando Valley Academy 3 sets to 1 in an intense girls volleyball competition Tuesday in Northridge.

“Clara was pretty consistent the whole game. She was almost flawless,” Coach Jessica Young said. “She has come a long way from junior high. She is able to control her emotions. She’s probably our best hitter right now. She has pushed herself harder and harder, and she can spike it almost straight down.”

In the last, hard-fought set that drew out to 30-28, Coach Jessica instructed the team to “play smart” in the last back-and-forth trading “just one point to win” moments. Just get the ball over and don’t try to be too aggressive.

Clara still did — successfully — back row spikes.

“I thought inside, ‘Oh she didn’t listen to me,” Coach said. “For her ‘playing smart’ is that aggressive. But she got it in.”

Nobody complains if you don’t mess up.

Lighthouse is now 8-1 and almost virtually guaranteed a playoff spot. Its last season game is Thursday against league-leaders Beacon Hill Classical.

“We had a lot of great team energy. I’m just really proud of us,” Clara said. “I think all of us are really improving. I’m so proud.”

Lighthouse struggled in the first set to adapt. SFVA hosted the game in its Northridge gym, a court covered with carpet. This took LCA off guard because the Saints usually dive for balls.

“At least two of our girls have rug burns,” Coach Jessica said. “They’re bleeding.”

The SFVA gym also had an unusually low roof, and the Saints lost more than one volley just because they hit with their accustomed strength. When the ball hits the roof or a fixture before going over, it’s the other team’s point. They lost the first set 20-25.

By set 2, LCA had recalibrated and won 25-23. “We came back really well,” Clara said. Read the rest: Wacky Wednesday at Santa Monica private school

Chris Singleton forgives the white supremacist who killed his mother

While she was praying at church, Chris Singleton’s mom was shot eight times by white supremacist Dylann Roof in 2015.

Then only 18, Chris Singleton had to assume the role of parent for his younger siblings.

“It was being thrown into the fire for me,” Chris says on a 100 Huntley Street video. “Something like that, I call it the unthinkable because you never think in a million years that something like that will happen to you. It was tough then, it’s tough now. It made me grow up a lot quicker than a lot of people. I had to take care of two teenagers when I wasn’t even 21 yet.”

Incredibly, Chris chose to forgive the racist mass murderer who snuffed out nine lives at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. When Sharonda Coleman-Singleton died, Chris wasn’t exactly strong in his Christian faith.

“I think anybody that loses a loved one, there’s two ways you could go with your faith,” Chris says. “You could say number one, there’s no way God is real. Or you could say, two, God, I don’t know how this happened or why this happened, but I need you to get me through it.”

Chris, who became a minor league baseball player for the Chicago Cubs, drew on his athletics training to develop resilience.

“I didn’t have my mom anymore and I didn’t have my dad, so Jesus became the rock that I would lean on,” he says. “That was comforting for me, it was therapeutic for me.”

Meanwhile, Dylann Roof has been sentenced to nine consecutive life sentences in prison. His hateful website, The Last Rhodesian, showed pictures of him with neo-Nazi symbols. Rhodesia was the white-ruled state that is now Zimbabwe. Read the rest: Chris Singleton forgives the white supremacist who killed his mom.

Christian surfers

Of course, Christian Surfers International calls Jesus the “Original Water Walker.”

Originally, they were just a support group of like-minded surfers who felt a little marginalized by the church, but as they grew, they realized they had a greater responsibility to win the entire surfing world to Christ.

They want to be even more salty while paddling ocean waves and reflect the light of Jesus on sun-drenched beaches.

Today, Christian Surfers International has affiliates in 35 countries with about 175 local missions, each of those acting like a tiny church plant to the surf community, says Casey Cruciano, operations manager of CSI.

They also do community development projects around the world through their organization Groundswell Aid. Some of the best surf breaks also have some of the poorest communities in the world. Hardcore surfers have always traveled to out-of-reach spots for the perfect wave. But CSI surfers don’t just ride the wave; they help alleviate poverty, restore the environment and provide disaster relief.

“We believe in the power of the global surfing community to make powerful, long-term changes to beach communities around the world,” a narrator on a Groundswell video explains. “Using surfing as a platform to connect, Groundswell exists to meet the needs of under-resourced communities and offer tangible hope.”

They even teach Third World youngsters to surf or learn water polo, offering scholarships to those who do well in school and encourage school dropouts to return.

On the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius, they help build housing and school facilities for the locals. Read the rest: Christian surfers Intl.

Parkinson’s artist

Johnny Huerta now paints with his left hand. Parkinson’s attacked his right.

“Parkinson’s affects different people in different ways,” says Johnny, an artist from Santa Monica. “Mine is rigidity more than anything.”

A graduate from Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art in Van Nuys, Johnny, 32, did a mural in Casa Blanca restaurant in Venice, but mostly he sells paintings online.

He’s a local who played baseball for Santa Monica High School’s winning 2007 team. He sometimes works as a waiter at his family-owned restaurant Gilbert’s El Indio Mexican restaurant.

He’s right-handed. He noticed soreness three years ago but shrugged it off thinking it was just due to his heavy art workload while working on his bachelor’s degree in art.

Eventually, he realized it was more than simple soreness. “It was not like pain, it was a malfunction. It was scarier than a pain,” he says. “It wasn’t working the way it was supposed to.”

Parkinson’s is rare in younger people. But the brain scan showed dopamine deficiency, an early sign of Parkinson’s. Was his art career doomed?

Johnny didn’t waste time getting down about misfortune. He immediately started working on painting with his left hand. He’s semi-ambidextrous. He paints with his left now, sometimes guiding it with his right.

“You hear how you lose one sense and you gain another. It’s kind of like that. I’ve always done some things left-handed,” he says. “I batted left-handed and threw right-handed. I don’t know why. It was just natural.”

Johnny recently posted a time-lapsed video on Instagram @j_huerta310 of him painting a metaphor for his Parkinson’s. The painting served as a backdrop illustration for a speech he made in August to 500 youth at a church conference in Bakersfield. He told kids to not be held down by different difficulties and trials.

“We all go through fiery trials and tribulations, but they don’t have to define who we are,” Johnny says. “When something negative happens to us, we’re not rejected, we’re not a failure. I liked sports. In sports, there’s always a challenge, always something you have to persevere through. You have to adapt. It tests your faith and builds character.”

Johnny says the impairment won’t lessen the quality of his work.

“Maybe it’ll be less refined,” he says. “But there are beautiful pieces of art that are a lot more loose and there’s beautiful pieces of art that are a lot more refined. But yes, I probably have had to loosen my approach and brushwork, but that doesn’t mean the quality has go down.”

Johnny was so painfully shy in his childhood that teachers wondered if he was abused at home.

“I was always a quiet kid to the point in the elementary school teachers thought something was wrong with me. I was deathly afraid to say something stupid.” Read the rest: Parkinson’s artist

Gunslingers at volleyball in Santa Monica

Katherine (left) and Allie

Suddenly, the volleyball court disappeared and the scene of a hot and dusty Wild West town emerged.

As a tumbleweed rolled lazily along in the scorching breeze and innocent bystanders scampered for cover, Allie Scribner, hands readied for her quickest draw, squinted sternly at her rival, Westmark’s Katherine Abraham.

When the ref blew the whistle, the gunslinger Allie fired, a blistering serve… straight at the person best able to return it, Katherine.

“I wanted to ace their best player,” Allie explained afterward. “I wanted to make them feel pain.”

It might seem that to liquidate the game efficiently, it was in Lighthouse Christian Academy’s interest to target easy victims with the deadly gunfire.

But when the spirit of posse justice possesses her, Allie turns into a merciless marksman.

“Number 1 had really good serves and overall played really well with the girls,” admitted Katherine, who herself was a powerful player and struck fear into the Santa Monica private school’s heart. Read the rest: Christian private school near Venice, CA – volleyball

Only a punch to the throat saved Tim Tebow’s wife

All glammed up driving to a fancy event, the reigning Miss South Africa, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, found herself surrounded by five armed men at a stoplight in Johannesburg.

“I didn’t know what they wanted from me, but I knew it wasn’t good.” Demi says on a Tim Tebow Foundation video.

Demi decided to give up her car and make a run for it, but one assailant forced her in the car.

“Get in!” he barked. “You’re going with us.”

All sorts of horrid possibilities flashed through her mind, so surrendering herself by getting in the car was the last thing she wanted to do.

So Demi punched one of the men in the throat as hard as she could.

“That one punch gave me a split second, a window of opportunity to run away and I DID,” Demi said.

As Miss South Africa, Demi was wearing all her glamorous clothing for a special event — including 6-inch high heels.

She ran frantically — or rather hobbled — down the line of cars at the stoplight. It was peak traffic hour, about five in the afternoon.

“I ran through traffic and tried getting away, looking over my shoulder, not knowing if I’m being shot in the back,” she says.

She knocked on car windows pleading for help.

In all, Demi thinks she knocked on at least 30 car windows.

Nobody opened a car door for her. Nobody rolled down a window to ask what was wrong. Everybody acted like they didn’t see her.

“Not one person stopped to help,” she says. “I don’t know what was more terrifying, being attacked by these five armed men, or not getting any help.” Read the rest: Tim Tebow’s wife attacked