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Local Alex Coleman making the most of opportunities with Columbus Destroyers

Mitch Hooper

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“I love being here. These are my streets, this is my city.”

Alex Coleman is a Columbus local. He grew up right here in the city and attended Eastmoor Academy High School. Throughout school he maintained 4.0 GPA and led his team to the state championship. Though they ultimately lost that game, he was named the MVP. Everything seemed primed for a successful career on the field and he had hoped for that scholarship offer from Ohio State, but that offer never came. Looking back on it now, Coleman, now a wide receiver for the recently relaunched Arena Football League team the Columbus Destroyers, said that was fuel to his fire to work harder, but through trials and tribulations comes perspective.

Photos: Brian Kaiser

The AFL is unlike most leagues in sports. With the setup of the field literally butting up to the stands, the fans are able to get in on the action as close as safely possible. In between plays or before kick offs, fans can chat with the athletes on the field. If a football makes it into the stands, the lucky person who caught it is now going home with a free souvenir—try that at an Ohio State game and you’ll have an usher tackling you like Joey Bosa in no time. And after the games, fans can stick around to go on the field and meet the team. If your little one is especially into sports, imagine the look on their face as they play catch with a player on the team. There’s no question here: the AFL is more than just football—it’s a community builder. And that’s why Coleman is taking his opportunity to return home so seriously.

“I come from a hard-working family, but we didn’t know anything about athletics,” Coleman explained. “When you look for some type of figure to motivate you and push you in the right direction, I think that’s where I fell short coming out of high school.”

He committed to Ashland University and eventually transferred to Capital University where he kept that same mentality for maintaining school and athletics, and graduated with a degree in Communications Studies, balancing the act of academics and athletics without a mentor. Now that he’s back in the city that helped shape him, he’s looking to serve as that role model he needed when he was growing up. It’s a way to break the chain for him and others growing up in similar situations—a method for nurturing the next generation.

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“Everybody loves a Cinderella story, but it’s often not like that,” Coleman said.

(And for the record, even Cinderella had the help of a fairy godmother. Didn’t think you’d see this factoid in a sports story, did ya?)

For Coleman, actions speak louder than words. Throughout his career, he’s been told he’s too small for the wide receiver position, as he stands at 5-foot-9-inches tall. Recruiters and reports all said if he were a few inches taller, he’d be a must-grab for many universities. Instead of letting those words dictate his career, he’s out to prove them wrong. In the high school championship game where they lost, he stole the limelight with three touchdowns and the MVP trophy. Last season with the Carolina Havoc, there was some debate on whether Coleman should be in the starting lineup. The next game he scored four touchdowns—with the last one being the game winner. Coleman was solidified in the lineup, and the Havoc are now reigning champs of the American Arena Football league.

This mantra of  “do more, say less” finds a new chapter with his arrival in Columbus. Again, Coleman finds himself behind the eight ball vying for a starting position. For him, it’s not a matter of if, but when. And when that day comes, Coleman said he knows he’ll have to make the most of the opportunity because he never knows if it’ll be his last. That’s another sentiment Coleman is trying to drive home with young athletes as well. Whether it be injuries, grades, off-the-field antics, or simply just not making the cut, tomorrow is never promised in football. He said athletes have to be prepared for plan B, C, or even Z.

It’s easy to say something to a kid, but to actually be an example to them means even more,” Coleman explained. “Kids are much more mature in terms of their train of thought so a lot of kids are going to question me like, ‘Why should I do it if you didn’t?’ ”

Since arriving in Columbus, Coleman has been working with youth on the developmental side. While he sees the importance of coaching on the field, his interest is more in getting young people prepared with the fundamentals so they have the tools available to work efficiently. Not only does this help shape athletes for high school and beyond, it helps coaches recognize the players taking extra steps plus, gives a stronger foundation to build off. He’s also made a return to some of his old stomping grounds to give advice and expertise at Eastmoor High School, as well as Capital. Coleman said it only takes one person to start a change and create a village, and so far, it seems he’s on the right path.

The Columbus Destroyers play at Nationwide Arena. For more information on tickets plus the schedule, check out columbusdestroyers.com.

millennial | writer | human

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614NOW Survival Guide: Jazz & Rib Fest

Mike Thomas

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With hours of free live music and over a dozen vendors of amazing smoked foods at your disposal, the Jazz & Rib fest is one of the signature events of summer in Columbus.

A festival of this scale offers so much to enjoy, which means it’s also easy to get overwhelmed. Unpredictable weather. Crowds. The ever-present threat of itis. What’s a Jazz & Rib-lover to do?

Never fear, 614NOW is here with another summer festival survival guide. Follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to jazzy, pork-nap bliss.

Weather the storm (or heat)

July weather in Columbus can be unpredictable, so you’ll want to be prepared for whatever mother nature throws at you. With near-record heat in the forecast this weekend, be sure to pack an extra bottle or two of water or your favorite sports drink. High temps bring the potential for popup thunderstorms, so a cheap rain poncho in the back pocket is a clutch move.

Park it

The official Jazz and Rib fest website has all the info you’ll need to get where you’re going, and even offers some tips on where to park. While parking at meters, in downtown garages, and at COSI will be in play, it’s good to remember that public transit might be the cheapest way to get in and out. For those with the means, an Uber or Lyft could be preferable to navigating crowded and expensive event parking—plus you’ll probably leave the fest too full of rib meat to drive anyway.

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Line ’em up

You’ve made it to the fest, and now you’re faced with the hardest choice you’ll make this weekend: which ribs should you get? Two main factors to keep in mind: long lines may indicate a top-notch vendor, but obviously you’ll be waiting longer. Tents with short lines offer a quick fix, but could be a dice-roll when it comes to flavor.

Our advice: let your hunger guide you. If you see a favorite BBQ joint or a place offering your go-to regional style, a wait in line could be well worth it. If you’ve spent an hour circling the block for an open meter and arrive to the fest with ravenous hunger for smoked meats, hop in the shortest line you see. General consensus is that all participating vendors are pretty good, so wherever you end up you’ll probably be satisfied.

Yeah, cat! Dig those smooth grooves

If you only come for the ribs, you’re missing half the fun. The 2019 Jazz & Rib fest has secured a stellar lineup of artists ranging from smooth jazz favorites Norman Brown and Brian Culbertson, to local standouts Kinfolk and The Huntertones.

But The can’t-miss musical event of the weekend comes care of the Soul Rebels, who will be accompanied by founding member and spiritual leader of the legendary Wu-Tang clan, the one and only GZA.

Check out the fest’s full lineup of artists and schedule, and plan your time in rib lines accordingly.

The 2019 Jazz & Rib Fest takes place Friday, July 19, 2019 through Sunday, July 21 at Bicentennial Park. The event is free to attend.

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The Weekend Lookout: 3 can’t miss events for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday

Mitch Hooper

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Did you enjoy your festival break last week? I sure hope so because the festivals are back in action this weekend and you have some catching up to do. With everything from cavity-inducing craft beer pairings to setting your new 5K personal record time, here’s what you can’t miss this weekend.

P.S. Don’t forget about Restaurant Week July 15-20!

Friday

Jazz & Rib Fest 2019 @ The Scioto Mile

All weekend you can enjoy the sounds of jazz and the stains of barbecue at the Jazz & Rib Fest. Including the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, this music festival will feature The Squirrel Nut Zippers, The Rebel Souls, and many more. Just be sure to keep a few wet naps handy throughout the day.

Sommerfest @ Germania Singing & Sport Society

Join the Germania Society for a night on the patio filled with bier, German entrees, and more bier! Test your endurance in the stein holding contest, or test your speed with a personal stein drinking contest. Just be verantwortlich (responsible).

Free Movie Night: How To Train Your Dragon @ Columbus Commons

Load up the kiddos in the car (or just come as your dragon loving self, we don’t judge) with blankets and lawn chairs to set up in the Commons for a free flick. How To Train Your Dragon is a comical animated movie, and it answers the lifelong question of how do you train your dragon?

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Saturday

The Peach Truck @ Weiland’s Market

Pour up a strong cup of coffee and head over to Weiland’s Market bright and early to score some of the freshest peaches in Ohio. The market opens at 8 a.m., and the lines will probably start filing in around 7:59 a.m.

Sours, Sorbets, & Donuts @ Wolf’s Ridge Brewing

Start Saturday right with sour beers courtesy of Wolf’s Ridge and donuts courtesy of The Drunken Donut. The donut pop-up will be running from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. while the rest of the brewery will be doing flight pairings with sours and sorbets. For $12, your flight will include Grapefruit Sorbet with Terre du Sauvage; Blue -Strawberry & Rhubarb Sorbet with Strawberry Swimming in the Mangrove; and Black Cherry Sorbet with Swimming in the Mangrove.

Beer & Ice Cream @ Nocterra Brewing Company

So maybe starting your weekend before noon isn’t in your wheelhouse—that’s fine. Starting at 2 p.m., Nocterra will be partnering up with the Ice Cream Cart to serve up scoops alongside your pints. If you can’t tell, we really want you to forget the diet you’re on for the weekend.

Sunday

Michael Bublé @ The Schottenstein Center

Michael Bublé is back on tour after a long break from it all and he’s stopping off in Columbus. Don’t miss your chance to be serenaded by the smooth singing icon himself.

$10 Beer Flights @ Parsons North Brewing Company

Four mini glasses of beer for only $10? Sunday Funday has never been so affordable. Drink up! The deal is only on Sundays.

Ohio State Ross Heart Hospital 5K @ Ohio State (411 Woody Hayes Dr.)

This is why we were pushing donuts, ice cream, beer, and sorbet on you so heavy for Saturday and Sunday. Burn off those extra calories for a great cause as proceeds benefit heart disease research at Ohio State Davis Heart & Lung Research Institute.

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Be a canine counselor during Franklin County Shelter’s dog vacation week

614now

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It’s a miracle that we are lucky enough to experience Restaurant Week and Shelter Vacation in one week! From July 15-19, the Franklin County Dog Shelter & Adoption Center is giving you the opportunity to foster a dog, learn more about him or her, and see if you’re the perfect match for an adoption—it’s like a sleep-away camp for pups!

Shelter Vacation will feature adoptable dogs that have been at the shelter for at least one month, putting them in a better position to move out of the shelter and into their forever homes.

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Interested in this unique opportunity to brighten the life of a furry, four-legged friend? check out the adoptable dogs here, then contact Andrew at [email protected]

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