SPORTS CELEBRITY IN TOWN SATURDAY TO ATTEND WEDDING
It’s funny how you can just look at a stranger and decide he must be some kind of former athlete or a present-day coach.
Wife Susan and I were invited to the largest and most orchestrated wedding Saturday evening we’ve ever attended which united Loretta Edwards, a pharmacy tech at Krogers in Orange, to Orangeite Jonathan Stewart at North Orange Baptist Church.
The wedding had to be held at the huge church mainly because Loretta’s mother Helen Edwards, long-time cashier at Krogers who I always address as Miss Helen, told her to invite no more than 400 to the wedding.
Loretta listened well to her mother and sent out 400 invitations—which means that nearly 800 friends and relatives would show up for the gala affair.
Anyway, while we were sitting in our assigned seats in the church’s VIP section—Susan taught Loretta math in high school and tutored her before she took the pharmacy tech exam—I noticed this clean cut man with a crew cut who stood around 6-3 and had broad shoulders and narrow hips sitting in the row behind us.
The meal at the reception was served in an assembly-line format and we went to our assigned table where coincidentally this Mystery Man also was sitting.
He introduced himself as Devin Bonik and kept checking his smart phone to keep up with the NFL draft which was in the third and final day.
After visiting with him for a couple of minutes I discovered we had a couple of things in common—we both grew up in New York State, him in Corning and me in Schenectady and had similar heritage with Devin being a Czech and me being Polish.
I asked him if he had been an athlete at one time and he replied that he was recruited by Oklahoma State where he played linebacker during his college career. He was teammates with former West Orange-Stark standouts Ernest Anderson and Greg Hill and looked like he still could play linebacker or fullback from his physical appearance.
The head football coach at OSU was none other than Port Arthur native Jimmy Johnson, who later moved on to coach the Miami Hurricanes to a national championship. Johnson was hired by his old college teammate Jerry Jones to coach the Dallas Cowboys, where he won two Super Bowls and then was fired because he was getting more media attention than Jones. He now works with Fox Sports as a pre-game analyst.
When asked if he spent any time in the National football League Bonik replied, “I spent 11 years in the NFL but not as a player. I was an assistant coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars (2003-2006) and Director of Football Operations (2007-2009), assistant coach with the Tennessee Titans (2011) and an assistant with the Atlanta Falcons (2012-2014).
“I learned a lot from the coaches I worked for—Jack Del Rio at Jacksonville, Mike Munchak at Tennessee and Mike Smith at Atlanta—who taught me valuable lessons not only from a football standpoint, but also the business aspect of the NFL and for this I am forever grateful,” he added.
Bonik was a victim of a staff house-cleaning when Mike Smith was relieved of his job by the Falcons in January 2015. He recently moved to the Houston area where he can be closer to his seven-year-old son Brayden, who is quite a baseball player already.
Prior to his NFL coaching career, Devin owned and operated a summer football camp for 15 years which is similar to Earl Thomas’ summer camp here in Orange.
Devin has had more than 300 pro and college coaches assisting him with his camp over the years like Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs),Sean Payton (New Orleans), Mike Zimmer (Minnesota), Dirk Koetter (Tampa Bay) and former NFL head coaches Brian Billick (Baltimore), Steve Mariucci (Detroit and San Francisco), Rob Ryan (Buffalo Bills) and Steve Spagnuolo (St. Louis Rams).
Some of the head college coaches working at his camp included Art Briles (Baylor), Kevin Sumlin (Texas A&M), Mike Gundy (Oklahoma State), Charlie Strong (Texas) and Mark D’Antonio (Michigan State).
After his stint in Atlanta, Devin made a career change and decided to represent coaches in their pursuit of finding better jobs and salaries.
“The summer football camp business I owned and operated for 15 years and my 11 years of experience in the NFL has allowed me to get to know and see over 300 pro and college coaches teach, coach and interact with one another in an actual work environment,” Devin pointed out.
He said that being an agent for these coaches gives me a good idea of what’s important to them and their careers.
Bonik currently is using his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Oklahoma State and owns Bonik Sports Group as an agent to 32 NFL and college coaches, with one being Dirk Koetter, head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“I can say with confidence that with my career experience and the extensive football relationships I’ve built in the past 26 years in both college and pro football, I will be able to find coaches the right job and make sure they are compensated fairly,” Devin concluded.
KWICKIES…I hate to keep blowing my horn about my grandson Logan Smith’s freshman (Plebe) career at Army, but he put another feather in his cap in the nightcap of a doubleheader Saturday against Lehigh. After getting walloped in the opener, Logan came into the second game in the top of the fifth inning trailing 5-4 with one out and runners on first and second. He retired the next two batters and then went 1-2-3 in the sixth. In the bottom of the inning Army scored four runs, to the delight of the home crowd at West Point, and Logan got his first win of his brief college career. The victory enabled Army to nail down the fourth and final seed for the Patriot Conference Tournament which begins next week. So far he has pitched 20 innings and has struck out 24 batters.
The Houston Astros just completed one of the best Aprils in their franchise history by going 16-9. The team is not really hitting the cover off the baseball, but they have the ability to not give up when trailing in the late innings and doing whatever it takes to come back and win. Lefty Dallas Keuchel is leading the major leagues with his 5-0 start and miniscule 1.21 ERA. The Astros won six of their eight series in April.
And while on the subject of major league baseball, Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon went from obscurity to the record books in 3½ hours Sunday when he belted three home runs, went 6-for-6 and drove home 10 runs. Only 12 other players in major league history have driven in 10 or more runs in a single game, the last being Garret Anderson of the Angels in 2007. Washington was leading only 6-5 in the fourth inning and then commenced to score 17 unanswered runs, winning over the New York Mets 23-5.
I wonder why the Seattle Seahawks drafted three safeties last week. Perhaps they want more talent to back up Orange’s Earl Thomas in case he gets hurt again. It still doesn’t make sense with their offensive line so questionable.
And speaking of last week’s draft, the Houston Texans are very happy trading up to land Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson as their first-round pick. The Dallas Cowboys also had a good draft, getting seven defensive players on their nine selections.
As of early this week, racing handicappers say that Saturday’s 143rd Kentucky Derby is wide open with no clear-cut favorite. I still like Classic Empire and believe that as the race nears, he will be the favorite.
Four local tracksters have qualified for the state track meet set for May 11-13 at the University of Texas. The top two finishers in each event qualify for the state meet. West Orange-Stark’s Jared Dupree won last week’s regional meet in the high jump, soaring 6 feet, eight inches. Eli Peveto of Little Cypress-Mauriceville won the two distance events—the 1,600 meter run and the 3,200 meter run. Orangefield girl’s track team also will be represented by Bailee Click in the high jump and Brooklyn Goldsmith in the pole vault.
JUST BETWEEN US…If you see an over-abundance of Dish Network trucks around town, it’s probably Houston Astros and Rockets fans making the switch, getting tired of waiting for Time Warner or Spectrum to start carrying Root TV. Astros fans just wish that the four games televised on our cable through Fox Southwest against the Texas Rangers this week could be an everyday occurrence. But TWC must be very stubborn and tight with their money to not pay the price to obtain Root. Area sports fans are finding out that there always is another way to skin this cat.