Every-Thing Sports

Mentors are invaluable; here are some in the Houston media who have helped my journey

@itsmaxedison Twitter

Last Friday, Gifford Louis "Max" Edison passed away. He was a long time staple of the Houston sports media scene. I've met Max a few times. Mainly in the pressbox at Texans games. He was always friendly. Max was a true pro's pro. He dressed to impress and had stories for days. I never got to know him the way some others have. Perhaps the most fitting tribute I've seen was written by Jerome Solomon. Jerome was one of the many guys that Max mentored.

After learning of his passing, and a conversation the week prior with someone who's helped me immensely, it made me think of those have helped and/or mentored me along the way. Paying it forward is something that takes selfless action, a humble spirit, and being in a position to help and inspire others to achieve. This business is like swimming in the deep waters. It's full of sharks. Great White alpha predator sharks. If you want to survive and thrive, you'll need a few Killer Whales to help you swim past those Great Whites. Here's a few of the people that have helped me along the way:

David Nuño

David Nuño

@DavidNunoABC13 Twitter

I used to listen to 1560 The Game a lot. I showed up to a live remote and talked to a few of the hosts. The one who genuinely took an interest in me and what I could potentially do was David Nuño. A few months later, I was shooting and editing a video after every Texans home game with him. He showed me how to hustle and get sound pre and post game. I remember him having goals and working always towards them. But he took time to help me get my foot in the door and I'll always be grateful for that.

Raheel Ramzanali

Raheel Ramzanali

@The_Raheel Twitter

When Nuño entrusted me to upload video content to the 1560 website, I sucked at it. The person who helped me get better and somewhat quicker was Raheel Ramzanali. Most people who are older than someone in a work environment have a hard time taking instruction or direction from someone younger than them. I threw that ridiculous idea out the window because Raheel was ( and still is) damn good at the whole digital/social media thing. He and Nuño are the reason I started my social media accounts. They are squarely to blame for anything I've posted since 2009.

Craig Shelton

Craig Shelton

@OGRebelino Twitter

I was doing some good stuff for 1560 with Nuño, Raheel, and the gang at 1560. But life happened, and I had to step away from things (another story for another day). I started listening to and following what Craig was doing on another radio station, as well as his blog site Houston Media Watch (HMW). I can't remember how we linked up, but I started blogging for HMW. Next thing you know, he invited me on his weekend show at another station. After doing that show for a while (where I learned to work a board), he asked me to be apart of his Tuesday night show named Hustletown on ESPN 97.5. While we always put on an entertaining show, the car rides and conversations to and from shows and events were filled with knowledge. Professional wrestlers often cite car rides with older wrestlers as their best learning tools in the business. I can attest to this after the many car rides and conversations with Craig.

Fred Faour

Fred Faour

While I was doing Hustletown, Fred heard the work Craig and I were putting in. He was one of the people that believed in the content Craig Shelton was producing on that show. After having us fill in on The Blitz with him, Fred asked about other opportunities, such as writing for this site. I jumped at the chance of working with him knowing he could help me hone my skills and here I am now. This developed into more fill in gigs on 97.5, as well as SB Nation.

These are just a few of the key people who've helped me along the way. Others, like Kim Davis ( the epitome of grace and class in this business), have offered their help and advice on my journey to get me where I am now. This journey isn't finished and there will be a ton more people to add to this growing list. I would be here all day trying name every single person who's helped me along the way. I've even tried to start doing the same thing these awesome people have done for me to others. One of the interns at 97.5 is like a nephew to me. It brings me great joy to see him working hard and trying to succeed in this business. A good friend of mine named Calvin has always wanted to start his own podcast. After two years of convincing him to do so, he finally started last week. I look forward to helping him on his journey as well. My point in writing this was not to suck up to the ones I've named here. It's to inspire those who are in positions to help others. Not just in this field, but in life in general. One thing I got from reading Jerome's article was that Max did this for countless others. Not only in this business, but in life itself. Let's continue to pay it forward to those we can help along the way on this crazy journey through life. You never know who you could be helping or inspiring to achieve greatness.

Photo courtesy of Jeremy Wolf

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

The first time I watched Jeremy Wolf hit a baseball was in 2016. He was the slugging leftfielder for Trinity University in San Antonio. I was at the game because one of Trinity's relief pitchers sleeps down the hall from me. (He's my son.)

Actually, I was impressed by Wolf before he even came to bat. His walkup song was "Helter Skelter" by the Beatles. I had to ask him, "How do you even know that song? It was recorded 26 years before you were born." Wolf said, "My mother was a Beatles fan and played their music all the time when I was growing up. I've loved the Beatles my whole life."

Wolf, a senior that year, was named Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Year, and Trinity won the D3 World Series, the first Texas school to take the title. Wolf was drafted by the New York Mets and played two years in the minors before a back injury cut his career short … but not for long.

This year, injury-free, Wolf is an outfielder on the Israeli national baseball team. They've already survived three preliminary tournaments in their quest to play in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. The team is competing this week in the final Europe-Africa qualifying tournament in Italy. Six teams are entered, with the winner gaining automatic entry to the Olympics.

Unlike most sports, only six countries will play baseball in the Olympics: one from the Americas, one from Europe/Africa, two from Asia and two at-large teams to be named later.

The Israeli team is 2-0 in the Europe/Africa tournament, with a shutout win over Spain and a shocking 8-1 blowout of reigning Europe champion, The Netherlands. Games remain against the Czech Republic, Italy, and South Africa. Win them all, and come Sunday night, Israel will be headed to the 2020 Olympics – an amazing feat considering that Israel has only one baseball diamond and the team doesn't play games regularly, in fact, rarely practices together.

Wolf is one of 10 U.S. players, including three former Major Leaguers, who became Israeli citizens this year in order to be eligible for Olympic qualifying events. I caught up with Wolf shortly after The Netherlands stunner.

CultureMap: Where do you live now?

Jeremy Wolf: I'm living in Tel Aviv. I will be there for the next six months or so, possibly a year. Saturday nights here are epic. It's like Miami, very relaxed. I live a block from the beach. The cost of living in Israel isn't crazy. My total Internet and phone bill is about $30 a month. Food is cheap but there are little things, like deodorant and toothpaste, that cost double what they cost in the U.S.

CM: Tell me about becoming an Israeli citizen.

JW: The Olympics require that athletes be a citizen of the country they represent. The process for a Jew to become a citizen of Israel is called Aliyah, the law of return, and usually requires being in Israel for a year. The process for us was simple, we got an athlete's exemption. I have two passports and dual citizenship now, U.S. and Israel.

CM: What’s been your biggest adjustment to living in Israel?

JW: The time zone difference when I call family back home. I've had to adjust to Israeli norms, things like crossing the street at the right time or how much to tip at restaurants. I'm trying not to stand out. I want to look and act like another Israeli.

CM: Do you feel like a temp employee or an Israeli?

JW: I feel comfortable knowing everyone is Jewish. Even though I'm half-Italian, I've always identified more as a Jew. But now that we're in Italy this week, I'm telling everybody that I'm half-Italian. Identity crisis is a real thing.

Continue on CultureMap to find out how the players stay sharp without playing games or practicing regularly.

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