Trapped in Capri…Not Too Shabby

May 28, 2012

I’m sorry for the delay in my blog the past few days. The delay was due to the busy schedule, travel and lastly be stranded on the most beautiful place I’ve ever been besides Athens, Ga of course.

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To begin today’s blog I have to star with Friday evening. Arthur’s mother, aunt and grandmother were able to make the trip to Cortona to spend a few days with Artie. The got settled into their hotel and we were able to all go share a family meal here in town. I don’t remember the name of the restaurant but we had an amazing meal and evening together just sharing stories. I always love eating and being around Arthur’s mother and his family. Arthur has to be my first friend from Boston and getting to know his family over the past few years has been amazing. Arthur’s mother definitely had her hands full when Arthur was the last child to be born and anyone that knows Artie prays for her ha. She loves her boy and he loves her. We had a test the next day so we said goodbyes and Arthur’s grandma was so kind to bring me a Boston Red Sox shirt. I sure will have to wear it around Artie to make him feel more at home. We hustled up the hill and crammed a good 3-4 hours of studying in.

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We woke up early on Saturday and knocked out the test with me personally get a B. We were all packed and ready for a great long 4 hour trip down to Naples for the weekend. Hopping on the train we crowded into a car together listening to music and enjoying each others company. Kristen, Kae Ashleigh, Charlotte, Caroline, Sarah, Natalie and Shelby all decided to go to Rome for the weekend so we all went our separate ways at the Rome station Kae Ashleigh shed a tear because she was going to go through withdrawals after spending every waking moment with us since we got here. We found a ticket for the next train and continued to Naples.

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Arriving at a crowded station we tried to get our bearings to find a bus to our hostel for the evening. The city was so crowded and not to mention sketchy, but we were able to safely to our room to get cleaned up. Since it was later in the evening and we really didn’t have any plans we just winged it. We found a nice Italian seafood place and chowed down. This restaurant is the only one I’ve even been to whose fries tasted identical to McDonald’s so I aptly ordered a second helping. Stuffed bellies and feeling better we just wandered the city. We stumbled upon a concert in the middle of an old castle in the middle of the city. We stayed for a few minutes taking in the whole scene and went towards the old part of town. We were walking and then all of a sudden we turn to see a whole indoor city. We were shocked at the enormous structure that was just out of no where. Everyone around the town just acts like many of the buildings are normal, but to us everything was so elaborate. Staying for a second we continued our quest finding more and more amazing buildings.

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We were still wandering and we found the coast and saw fireworks. You could see the outline of Pompey in the sky and it was so beautiful to see the volcano in the distance. While at the edge of the water a man walks up to us and asks us if we want to hop in his boat for a water tour. All 9 of us hopped in and enjoyed the great float on the water. After that we were all tired and chose to save up energy for our trip to Capri the next day.

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The blaring alarms goes of early and we were on our feet running to the ferry. An hour and a half later we were staring at one of the most beautiful islands in the world. We were greeted by cheering protestors of the ferry system and just took off on foot through the town. Stopping only for a second to get a frozen lemonade and orange juice drink we walked along the cliffs taking in the beautiful ocean. We had walked for over an hour and were able to find an awesome beach side restaurant to fill our stomachs up for a moment. An hour later we were on the bus to Anacapri where we found a chair lift to highest point on the mountain. When I say you could see everything for miles you really could. We were so high up you could see Naples all the way across the water. The scene was straight out of Avatar all the birds flying up in the clouds around and below us. The view was great and we made our way back down to the dock to get a ferry home. Here’s where the story got interesting. We were suppose to grab a ferry back to Naples and an evening train back to Cortona. But we were unaware at the time to the strike on the ferries so we had to sit on the dock for 4 hours waiting for the only boat off the island.

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We made it back to the hostel and were able to rest up again to get home the next day. We woke up early and made the long walk to the train station trying to save money not taking the bus. We enjoyed a breakfast at McDonald’s and got on our train with everyone passing out as soon as we were in our train car. We hopped off at our connecting train and as we were running to the platform it was zooming away and we were stuck. We then had to wait 30 more minutes for another train to make it safely back to home. We had such an amazing weekend and saw the most beautiful island I’ve ever seen. Tired and sleepy we crashed hoping to survive the next busy traveling day.

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Thanks for reading!

++Go Dawgs++

-CR

My Perfect Storm

May 25, 2012 – Day 16

It’s hard to describe how I felt the day I signed my commitment letter to play at the University of Georgia. It was the culmination of 17 years of my parents raising and development coupled with all the other influences that came into my life ultimately giving me a chance to play at the next level. You dream of this day all your life and it was my day. All my friends and family were there for my big day and I couldn’t be more thankful for everything they had done to get me here.

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Graduation came and we all said our goodbyes eager to start this new chapter in our lives. A week and a half after graduating from high school I was in my car driving to Athens to begin the next step. June 1, 2008 I made my way into a dorm with Brandon Boykin, Deangelo Tyson and AJ Harmon. Little did I know what this year would hold as my mother left me crying the whole ride home. I was scared I’m not gonna lie. I had heard the doubters the whole ride to this point and the likelihood at this point of them stopping was slim to none.

Summer work outs began swiftly and we were thrown into the fire. I in no way shape or form was big enough to compete with these guys. You have guys like Danelle Ellerbe breaking weight room records and Darius Dewberry who had some of the best technique at Linebacker who all were battle tested upperclassmen. You have to admit you would be nervous if you were a 202 pound freshman SEC Linebacker entering a room with the likes of Danelle, Darius, Darryl Gamble, Akeem Dent, Akeem Hebron and Marcus Dowtin. I was the runt and I would have to scrap for everything I got.

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Summer workouts had be extremely rough and I had just barely survived. I felt like I was in a good mental state, but I wasn’t ready for what the start of the season would bring. Many people don’t know the extent to which the coaches are not around us in the summer. We see them the day we come back and maybe you run into them as they enter the facilities during the summer. So as a freshman I never really saw anyone and hadn’t experienced a harsh word from anyone. This is very confusing for a recruit on the first day of Fall camp when you’re throw in the fire. They say “You never feel more alive than when the bullets are flying”, well on that first day I would have said “You never feel more like your gonna die than on the first day of camp.” It was awful. By the time we were done with special teams I was feeling like I was going to die. All the coaches that had laughed and joked with me were now in my face yelling at me for what I hadn’t picked up on in my first hour long meeting prior to practice. Guys like Kris Durham and Tripp Chandler all battle tested saw blood in the water and took every opportunity to get the upper hand. In a pass skeleton drill Durham is designated to block on a bubble screen and saw me. Next thing you know he had perfect positioning and completely eliminated me all the way to the ground. And as you can imagine I was instantly bombarded again with words from the coaches. This pattern of occurrences happened regularly for me as a freshman.

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Camp was over and I really didn’t know how I had made it out of that two weeks. School had begun and the daily abuse at practice was now limited to once a day so I could recover from day to day. For those who don’t know being a redshirt is the worst best thing ever. Starting with the positives, you are not held to a high responsibility on the field simply because you are not the one making the plays which can cause a negative. When you sign a scholarship to play at a major university your friends back home always ask you why you’re not playing. Its hard to take those comments especially when you come from playing every single play in high school to knowing on Saturdays you wont see the field except in pregame warm ups.

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As the seasons go on the negative words from others piles on you. I know its hard for people to grasp the fact that what they say actually gets to you, but when you can’t read an article without seeing someone have a personal opinion of you that they believe they can’t keep to themselves its difficult. Fast forwarding to 2011 for a moment these occurrences only escalated to a climax after the Boise State game. Everyone was so excited at the beginning of the season for what the Dawgs could do. We had a huge game in our home state and the eyes of the nation were on us to see how the season was going to begin. Honestly, I believe we didn’t know what type of team we had until the following week, but we didn’t show up and make the plays we needed to that day.

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As a disheartened player you make your way back to the locker room and listen to your coach give you guidance and direction. We had to hold the seams together if we were going to survive this storm. I took of my pads and limped to the showers to get cleaned up. I gathered my belongs and made my way to the buses to make the trip back to Athens. I hadn’t looked at my phone yet and I knew I would have a text from a few close friends, but I had not thought of the things I would see when I looked at my twitter. I was unaware of how a lot of people thought about me until that point. As I gained service on my phone the tweets and facebook messages began to flood in. I’m sitting there in the back of the bus and it feels like someone has just finished beating you up and a group of people you thought were your friends saw you down and chose to finish you off. Message after message it seemed like the dome had been filled with “Christian Robinson’s Enemies.” Trying to calm myself down from comments like “Christian you suck! I don’t know why you’re even playing. We’re going to lose every game if we don’t find someone else!” I don’t know about you, but I can handle a negative comment here and there. The difference is when you get over 25 individual messages, from a minority I know, but directed hateful messages its hard to ignore what they say. It’s exceedingly difficult after I had set a career record of 13 tackles in one of the biggest games of my life. I was in such a terrible place and had no idea about what to do. I had to put my phone down and just not look at it. It hurts even more thinking about how many of the names of the people were like “Dawgs4Ever” or “KingDawg323”. These are all made up names I’m just throwing out there, but a majority were all fans. That cuts you deep when you hope your biggest supporters would be your own fans. I chose to go on a vacation from twitter for a week just to stay away from the negativity. I couldn’t handle the outside influences directed right at me so I chose to separate myself from it.

Back tracking now, imagine getting all those types of messages as a 18 year old Freshman who is trying to find his way in college, getting beat up in practice and struggling to fit in. All those things swirling around began to escalate and build up inside. The season was going on and practice began to wear me down. Day after day guys so much bigger and experienced were having there way with me. Day after day you’re beat into the ground until the final whistle blows and you get to go home.

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Things took a turn for the worst the week of the Vanderbilt game. We were in a punt return and block drill with Coach Fabris. Nick Williams who was on the starting team and I, a scout team player were going at it the whole drill. He was holding me keeping me from making the play and I had had enough. I made up my mind that I wasn’t going to let him do this anymore and all the pent up anger for 3 months prior was about to come out on the returner. So fuming the ball was snapped and I took off down the field. I tried to set him up by running far outside away from my lane making him think I was going to try and run away so he began to give ground knowing I’d have to come back to get in on the play. To his surprise I turned and ran right at him. I pushed him back and got him out of the way and I had a clear 5-10 yards to the returner. I just threw my body hitting the returner and tried to catch myself as I came to the ground. Feeling like I just made the play I got to my feet and my arm was on fire. A helmet had come out of no where and it looked like my arm had a golf ball like bump. Trying to brush it off I finished the next play, but the pain was getting worse. I went to Emily Miller our trainer and had her look at it. They removed me from practice and went to get X-rays. My worst fears had come true that day. I had broken my arm and my season was over. Months of fight and scraping daily had left me injured and alone. I had rode my scooter to the locker room that day and everyone had left after practice. I was so distraught I didn’t want to call any of my teammates to come pick me up. I chose to just start walking with a heavy book bag and a newly broken arm in a sling.

The distance from the fields to East Campus Village is not a short walk. I was tired and sore and broken. Its hard not to begin to think about everything that had happened to this point and how upset you are when you’re alone making that walk. I tried to stay positive, but the pain and disappointment was overwhelming. I’m gonna tell the truth, I broke down while on that walk. It was the perfect storm of emotions to push me farther mentally than I had gone to this point. All the things everyone told me up to this point seemed like they were going to really happen. Not only was I not playing, but I for sure wasn’t going to be playing. We had a few other guys hurt at the time and I was going to have the opportunity to travel to LSU, but this was no longer going to happen. I didn’t know where to turn and I was alone.

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The only thing I could think to do was call my dad. He picked up the phone and I could hear in his voice that he was with at dinner with our family friend Mr. Jerry Overman. I tried to keep it all together until it was too much and I just had to tell him what had happened. “Dad…..I broke my arm…..” There was a pause on the phone and he began to speak again. He told me how sorry he was for how this had happened, but then he told me what he always did. He reminded me to stay positive. Things don’t always come easy. And for me things were and always have come through hard work. He reminded me of how he had broken his arm in college. Most don’t know but if they’ve met my dad its hard to miss the huge scare that runs from wrist to elbow. He told me to stay strong and remember that this storm would one day pass. This day was a turning point for me mentally. I didn’t see how this event would shape me for the following years.

I learned a lot that day, but the message I took away was to stop thinking about what others think about you. I was in a bad place and if I continued to listen to what everyone else thought about me I’d soon become what they believed I was. I really hope people realize the power of the words they say. On a team you want all the energy in the room to be positive to get the best product possible on the field. Our world is not just the practice field, but the thousands of other fans that are there screaming and yelling for the dawgs on Saturdays. We truly are all in this together. Things wont always be perfect and we have to be united. I hope that this season we will make every single play when we have the opportunity. The truth of the matter is that we will make mistakes. We’ll drop a few passes, we’ll miss a few tackles. But ultimately if we can stay together we can overcome anything. But above all else, together we can over come any storm that’s throw at us.

++Go Dawgs++

-CR

Wine and Dine

May 24, 2012 – Day 16

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We finally crossed the midway point for the trip and we’re really starting to miss being home. I was having withdraws from not having cheese eggs and was forced to go buy some for lunch. We’ve remained rather busy during the days. We actually spend more time in class than we would back home. WE meet in the morning from 8:30-12 and in the afternoon we meet from 3-5:30. We are learning a lot for those who think we’re simply on vacation. Our group projects have taken up a lot of our time and we are usually running on fumes. Don’t get me wrong we are having a great time getting to see the sights, but I think its safe to say I miss my bed.

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Class and our lab went well where we were able to learn more about the red wines we are tasting. We were able to go to a real wine tasting down in the town put on by Marco Molesini who has worked closely with out viticulture class. The girls, Ty and myself went and sampled the wine of the day. Its hard to believe that we have been here for over two weeks and we have a little less than two weeks left. We’ve really begun to get caught up in the day to day grind of class. This feeling is probably due to the fact that we haven’t left the Cortona area in two weeks since we went to Florence. This weekend we are planning to Naples this weekend with a small group. Kind of excited to just get out of town for a few days. Arthur’s mother, grandmother and aunt just got into town so we are eagerly awaiting to get down the hill to go see them.

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I hope everyone has enjoyed these blogs. I know some days are better than others and I hope to share more personal stories about the things that have happened on the Gridiron as well. Stay tuned and I promise to entertain. Until then…

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++ Go Dawgs ++

-CR

Dawgs in Arezzo

May 23, 2012 – Day 15

Wow! The past few days have been a whirlwind. We have been really busy working on our vineyard projects designing and creating a plan for a future business. This has been a great challenge for us as students strictly because none of us are experts and we’re being held responsible to create a very detailed plan. I hope that our hard work and studies will help us finish and get a good grade.

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Yesterday was probably the busiest day we’ve had since we’ve been here. We had an early morning and had to get down to the bus by 8:30. We got one the bus and all of us all passed out while making the trek to the valley. We were able to go to a small vineyard and we got to try some wines. We went into a class room inside the vineyards main offices and sat down to hear a presentation. For those who know me I really try to be respectful to those speaking, but being in a different country where it’s difficult to understand someone attempting to speak English can push you to the limits. We had to sit and listen to a powerpoint that was all words and 2 pictures for a whole hour. I was dying. I looked over and I’m pretty sure half the class was asleep. We luckily were released from the room and made our way outside to the vineyard.

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Out in the fresh air we all began to wake up and feel a little better about the trip. We were able to see the vines and how they attach American Rootstock to the Vitis Vinifera ultimately making Italy the largest producer of wine. It was good to finally be able to see and put everything together on the anatomy of the vines we had been studying indoors. The visit went well and we soon continued on our way to Arezzo.

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Once we got to Arezzo we were given 4 hours to walk around the city and explore all the historic sites it had to offer. We had decided that we wanted to hold off on lunch and make our way to the large cathedral inside the city walls. We made our way inside and were shocked at the sheer size of the building and the detail that was in every single item. We finished seeing the building and bought a few gifts for loved ones and continued to walk the city. We came across a statue that  towered over us that was also very detailed with a scene of someone being knighted.

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We had begun to feel our stomachs aching for food so we rushed back to the heart of the town and found the first burger place we have seen while out of the country. This place was amazing and for the first time on the trip we couldn’t say that we were still hungry.

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Our last stop on the way back to the bus was the town’s “Coliseum” if you will. The structure had naturally eroded but we were able to make out the design that used to stand hundreds and hundreds of years ago.

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We were back on the bus and heading back to Cortona to make the last stop at a vineyard just on the hills of the city. This was the most enjoyable part of the day. The sun was out for the first time in four days and we were able to get an even closer look at the wine making process. This vineyard produced around 10,000 bottles a year and it was all family owned and operated for hundreds of years.

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We made our way into the resort, which was complete with helipad and hotel, we were beginning the wine tasting. He brought us outside and picked out his family’s sword. He began to explain to us that we were going to have the opportunity to open a bottle of his sparkling wine with the sword. Not wanting to miss out on such an opportunity I begged and pleaded till I was able to be one of the select few to try. Nervous about accidently cutting off another finger or hitting Arthur in the eye who was eagerly awaiting the uncorking. I made sure all my fingers were safe and Arthur was quickly guided out of harms way and I went for it. The town popped off and everyone began to laugh and cheer for my expertise.

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All the commotion was over and we were able to go indoors and try some great Baracchi wine. Everyone was feeling good and we were finally done for the day. Back on the buses we made our way up the hill to our fortress with a great long day behind us and ready for some rest.

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++ Go Dawgs ++

-CR

An Italian Haircut and the Future

May 21, 2012 – Day 13

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For some reason the weather has been terrible here in Italy the past 3 days and we’ve been trapped indoors due to lots of rain. Scampering to class to avoid the torrential down pour outside we were able to make it to class on time. Cramped up all morning we went over some more grape varieties and listening to student projects in class we finally made it through another early morning.

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My hair was getting out of control and I was looking very much like a “ragamuffin”, as Coach Richt would say, so I chose to go get a hair cut. Our friend we met playing Rugby Alessandro is also a world famous hair stylist so I scheduled a hair cut down at his shop. It had been years since I’ve been in a salon simply cause I get my haircut by Chris Burnette and I usually go to a barbershop. Because of these facts I was rather apprehensive as to how this event was going to go. I was worried that he would not have the tools to work with my “different” kind of hair. He sat me down in the chair and stared pulling out the clippers and started going to town. I was shocked at how precise and accurate he was with the scissors. Fifteen minutes later he was done and I received my first hair washing at shop and there was gel in my hair. For those who don’t know I’m biracial and my hair is really mixed textures so it really changes depending on how long it is. It was really weird I’m not gonna lie, but hey, “when in Rome.”

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(Kristen Cox, Kae Ashleigh Eller, Arthur Lynch, Me, Ty Frix, and Charlotte Cornett)

Lookin good and ready to crush the day we went to our afternoon tasting at the school. We were able to again try four more wines right before dinner. Feelin kind of werided out by the gel I decided to hop in the shower and clean up the hair. Ty’s best friend from home Graves who works for Delta, was able to hop on a flight and come hang out with us for a night here in town and arrived just in time for dinner. We all got dressed up and walked to Toninos for another family meal. The food here is insane and I will be paying for the amount of bread we have had since we’ve arrived. A new day was in the books and we were loving just getting to be at this place in time. I really try to remind myself just how lucky I am to be here and hopefully the things we do here will go on for future generations of football players to be able to experience this beautiful place.

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++ Go Dawgs! ++

-CR

Lazy Rainy Sundays and Old School Laundry

May 20, 2012 – Day 12

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It was a lazy rainy Sunday in Cortona again. We spent most of the day inside watching movies and recovering from a fun weekend. Arthur and myself had burned through all of our clean clothes and were scrambling for options to wash clothes so we wouldn’t smell terrible in class Monday. We came to the conclusion that we would be forced to hand wash our clothes.

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We gathered up all the scattered articles of athletic gear and found the tub in our building. Arthur and I piled our dirty clothes in and had a great bonding experience since both of our clothes were mingled together. The smell was not very pleasant, but we didn’t have many options to choose from. We ended up using our tools and hung up all our laundry on draped broomsticks. The scene was rather funny really. Clothes drying and clean we ended up searching the quiet city for a place to eat.

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The bad thing about this town is that there aren’t that many people and they shut down their shops early cause people just aren’t going out buying things. Arthur, Ty and myself ended up going back to the Lion’s Well where our new friends Catia and Gianluca made us sandwiches and chips. We scarfed all the food down and made our way back up the mountain. We ended up playing cards for most of the evening with Shelby, Kristen, Charlotte and Kash.

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Another day in the books with our little family and one less day left in Cortona. Go Dawgs!

-CR

May 19, 2012 – Day 11

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I just wanted to start by saying thanking you to all those who read my blog and the comments everyone left. I really was taking a second to share a glimpse at who I was since the day didn’t have much to talk about since we were studying for our test today.

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We had been cramming all day and night trying to prepare for our first Viticulture test. We were all tired and since our test got moved back to 10am we got a couple hours extra sleep, which we all thoroughly enjoyed. The test came and I felt ok about it. I’ve never been a big science guy, but I thought I had all the things I needed to remember to do decent. For those who don’t know I’m starting my 5th season at UGA and I only have one class left to graduate in the fall. I’m really excited for the next 7 months since I will almost be living like a professional since I will be strictly football besides that one Kinesiology class. This summer I will be working with the Oconee County Football program for most of the summer. I had talked to a few of my Athens raised teammates and reached out to Coach Olson through Blake Sailors. I was really looking for a place where I could learn the ropes of high school coaching as well as lend my skills to the younger kids who share the passion that I have for football. I’m suppose to start the week we all get back from this trip to Italy so I know the guys will be ready for that.

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After the test we rushed down the hill to get to the market in the square of Cortona. There were tons of stands and carts everywhere with people trying to convince shoppers to buy their items. I personally did not want to spend a lot of my depleted funds on things I didn’t want so I merely wandered around with Ty, Kash, Charlotte and Kristen. Ty and me got hungry and chose to break off and go down another pizza. After stuffing our faces we made the long journey to the top of the hill to get a nap before heading to Camusia, the neighboring town.

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Fully rested and ready to get to the public bus we heading to the plaza. We hopped on the bus and headed down the cliff ridden serpentine road to the valley. Ty and myself stepped off the bus and proceeded to wander the town in search of a sweatshirt since I had no cold-weather clothes and nice Italian dinner jackets. We quickly found a sporting store and found a good Italian jumpsuit that would suffice for the rest of the trip. So after we continued to search the city for a dinner jacket. This is where we ran into trouble. One thing that many of you would be able to know without me saying is the fact that we are much larger than the Italians here. Ty being the smallest of us could not find a jacket that fit him and that in turn meant that we would not be able to find one that would work for me. An hour and a half with several communication issues with the locals we ended up heading back up the mountain empty handed.

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Arthur, Ty and myself got cleaned up for the evening and grabbed a sandwich from Molesini’s the local family run show here in town that basically owns the whole square. We ate dinner with the ladies and waited for the rest of the group to show up for the festivities. Our lesson was to learn how to make Sangria and naturally this led me to sing the song from “Step Brothers” and we all had a good laugh. I will continue to say this the whole trip because of its truth, but it is so hard to focus and study here. This is not because we are not learning very important relevant things pertaining to the wine industry, but because of the scenery. We literally study on a mountain that we can see everything around for miles and miles. I hope that I can focus more on the studies and not the scenery long enough to pass this class. The worst thing about my situation is the fact that this class is not a part of my degree hours so it ultimately doesn’t effect my graduation. But since my family was kind enough to pay for this trip and I have to strive for success I guess I’ll keep working hard.

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Thanks for reading. We miss everyone back home and hope everyone’s doing well! Go Dawgs!

-CR

First Test and a Trip To Camusia

What Really Happened on Spring Break!

May 18, 2012 – Day 10

I know what you’re hoping to find out by reading today’s blog, but I think you are going to be sadly mistaken if you were expecting what I think you’re looking for. This story is not about a wild spring break, but the one that ultimately altered my life. Through some quick back ground and build up I hope you take a second out of your busy day to learn more about me and why I’m here.

To keep this blog interesting I thought I’d share some personal stories since most of my followers may strictly follow me cause I play football for the University of Georgia. I think a lot of times people don’t really know why we came to the school we chose to play for. Often times people think we strictly come for playing time or for the playbook and how we fit into the system. I can personally say that none of these scenarios applies to why I chose to attend the best university in the world.

For those who may not know I’m from Lawrenceville, Georgia. I had always loved football and grown up playing in the Brookwood district with guys like Rennie Curran and the brothers Jarrett and AJ Mackey. When my father decided to leave MS Carriers they wanted to relocate our whole family to their fleet in Oklahoma. My father at one of my playoff basketball games in 6th grade nervously was on a phone call the whole game discussing the options. I remember sitting on the bench (mainly because I was a terrible basketball player) and thinking that I really wanted him to watch me sit on the bench instead of take that call ha. But we left the gym that night and he told me that he was quitting his job and I was instantly consumed with the fear that things were not always going to be the way I thought they were. I really believe this was the moment that I first experienced uncertainty in my life. When you’re a 6th grader, the things you’re really concerned about are what your’e going to eat at lunch and whether your mother will let you walk to school, two things me and my mother would battle about (I won neither argument). But from that moment I knew my life was going to change and I really didn’t know how.

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My father spent many weeks at home, which added a whole new twist to our family strictly because dad was more involved in our lives. He had spent many days commuting to work from Lawrenceville to Monroe that it left little time to be at home. This is in no way shape or form a knock at him and he knows this. I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world for my two parents who have sacrificed so much for me to be where I am. My father and mother had always had busy lives when we were young. My dad with his job for MS Carriers and my mother with her job as a nurse at Gwinnett Medical. Both of these occupations were very time consuming and with this new twist in our lives we were unaware of how our relationships would change for the better.

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With the increased time at home for my father due to unemployment and my mothers increased hours at the hospital we really got to spend a lot of time with dad. That said the amount of attention to the behaviors that he deemed “bad” were quickly to be shaped towards the way he wanted. Our spiritual conversations increased and ultimately led to the thoughts and beliefs I hold today. Dad spent a lot of time reading and meditating daily, which is one of the things I wish I had more of an ability to do. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months and before you know it the young children of the family, not as aware of how God always provides, got nervous that we wouldn’t be taken care of. Not knowing how God works, we began to ask questions like “Hey dad do you know when you’ll get a new job” or “What ya thinking about doing dad?” These are only normal questions 6th and 2nd grade children would ask their father. This led to one of those stories that is family unique that has been told several times since then.

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When my dad was in college he was driving down a back road in Charleston, South Carolina where the Robinson family originates. He saw an old lady walking down the side of an extremely long road with a handful of groceries. My dad being of kind nature and having a servant’s heart decided to stop and ask her for help. She was thankful and hopped in the car and headed on their way. They arrived at her house and she got out of the car and turned to my father. In an old southern Charleston accent she said to my father “You’ll never have to worry about money or being taken care of.” My father to this day really believes that he was in the presence of an angel. You can believe what you want and choose to think that this is psycho-religious babble or you can stop and listen for a second. Matthew 25:40 reads, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” When you’re young and your father tells you a story like that it calms your heart. When you grow up in a house like the one I did these stories have meaning. So I quickly had a change of heart.

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A few more weeks went by and GACS had reached out to my dad as a potential employee of the school. When the thought of leaving Brookwood became an option I quickly would complain and tell my father “No!” I had friends and football and acceptance! No one wants to leave a sure thing for the unknown, but this was what was about to happen. I remember showing up for the first day thinking 1) I hate uniforms and 2) why don’t I have a cell phone like everyone else. All jokes aside I starred to get in the swing of things and football made things easier.

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Football was a constant for me. Being a coach’s son wasn’t always easy, but the lessons I learned helped me later down the road in ways I never really imagined. After breaking my back and almost losing a finger in weight lifting accidents I was able to play my sophomore year. I hadn’t played football in two years and I didn’t know how well I would match up with everyone else at that level. I ended up starting before the end of the season and getting a lot of playing time.

Finally my junior year came along and great talent like Caleb King, Lee Chapple and T-Bob Herbert all who went on to the next level surrounded me. I really believe that having Caleb come to GAC was one the biggest reasons I was given a scholarship to UGA. We had scouts coming everyday to try and sway Caleb their way and in the meanwhile they happened to notice a scrawny junior linebacker in the background. I honestly didn’t think I was going to have an opportunity to play at a big school like Georgia mainly because I was 185 pounds and thin. My dad had always reminded me of how if we just keep working hard and doing the right thing that things would fall in the right direction and I really took that to heart.

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I remember getting my first scholarship offer from Duke my junior year and I was ecstatic. If it had not been for my dad reminding me that I needed to weigh my options I would probably be a Duke Blue Devil strictly because I thought I wouldn’t be receiving any more offers. Soon after that a coach named Warren Belin came in and had me sold. As many of you know Coach Belin was our linebacker’s coach during the 2010 season and when I was in high school he and I really hit it off. He had me sold! He was almost identical to the man my father is and I wanted to feel at home. After that tech (yes little t) offered me. I had chosen to go on a Spring Break mission trip with my school to Namibia, Africa and help a town there and so I was off the map. While I was gone Georgia had called and told my dad that they wanted to offer me a scholarship and an hour after that South Carolina called and did the same. When I arrived back in Atlanta my dad told me I got two scholarships while I was gone and surprised me by pulling out a miniature helmet for both teams.

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It was decision time and I was lost with what to do. My family was a USC family, I was in love with Coach Belin, but my heart bled red and black. My father and I had gotten in a fight about my plans to visit both USC and Vandy one weekend and it ended up with me just speaking from the heart that I wanted to go to Georgia. He said, “Ok then call them.” I was so happy to finally know where I wanted to go. I called Coach Searels and told him I was coming. He sounded kind of surprised since it was out of the blue on a Sunday and I didn’t make a big decision day like a lot of guys do.

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I can honestly say that my decision to become a Dawg came down to two things. For starters, the University honestly is the greatest place on earth. I’ve made the best of friends that I would have missed out on and the greatest experiences that I would never trade for the world. Everyone involved with the football program really cares about us and wants the best even if sometimes it involves yelling at you when you mess up in matt drills in the middle of winter training. Its weird how the yelling is translated to extremely love, but that’s just what football kind of is. The second and final reason I chose to come to UGA has to do with the person at the top. I don’t think many people actually know or have heard this story, but it was at a Mark Richt camp after my sophomore year. My dad told me to pick between two camps for the summer and I chose UGA and South Carolina naturally. I went to the UGA camp and I had a blast. I was there with some of my buddies and loved the facilities. The main thing I took away from the visit was that Coach Richt really did care for me. He had no idea who I was or that I one day would be a decent football player. I actually didn’t do anything exceedingly special at the camp besides play around. He sold me when he just talked to me. He treated everyone as if they were important and had meaning to his life regardless of what they could bring to him as a football coach. After experiencing that we went to the USC camp with Coach Spurrier. Now I had had a previous experience with Coach Spurrier his first year at USC when I was not even 13 years old. I was a huge fan at the time because I loved watching him Coach for my dad’s professional team the Washington Redskins. I was so excited to meet him at a letterman’s reunion they held every year and my dad would let me tag along. Well I was ready and had a football in hand hustling up to him in the reunion to get it signed. He had just got done talking to an old player and had turned around to me who had a little football in outstretched hands eagerly awaiting his signature. It was at this moment he lost my commitment letter. He had turned and looked down to me seeing the ball and making eye contact with me and he just simply turned away and walked off. Not having very much self-confidence at the time I was crushed. I don’t remember if I walked back pouting and destroyed on the inside, but I know that I was no longer a USC fan. Junior year comes around and he had no recollection of this incident. He comes to GAC with a large group of coaches trying to sway me and my father simply by bringing the whole fleet. It was too late. I had made up my mind years earlier when I was a little boy. This is where the difference lies between the two coaches. To all the college coaches out there, the secret to getting recruits to come to your school is to start early and when I mean early its much more sooner than you think. You never really know whose watching and you also don’t know who those big time players are going to be down the road. Coaches have a responsibility to remember that. I in no way shape or form am saying I was an AJ Green type of player, but hey I got offers ha. That being said, Coach Richt had me sold from that moment and I made the greatest decision of my entire life.

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I hope that those who expected this story to be about what had happened on Spring Break in Key West were sadly mistaken and ended up reading a little bit about my story. I think a lot of people miss out on the real reasons we chose to go to school where we do and often times the cameras and newspapers don’t get the whole story. So I chose to grab the computer and share my own story. I love Georgia and I love my team. I look forward to this season and the great road we have ahead of us.

And hey, I didn’t completely lie. I did end up talking about what happened on my Spring Break in the end.

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++ Go Dawgs ++

-CR

22 Years, Rugby and an Amazing Birthday

May 17, 2012 – Day 9

Wow I’m finally 22….no big shakes when it comes to knew capabilities, but I definitely am thankful for being blessed to have made it this long without being hit by a car or bitten by a snake ha. Was very blessed to have all my friends and family take time to text, Facebook and tweet me today back home. Arthur, Ty and the rest of the little family we’ve acquired really went out of their way to make today a great day for me. We woke up pretty tired from pre-birthday festivities the evening before and made it through another morning course. I was supposed to present my presentation on a specific grape this morning, but I believe I got off lucky since the computer wasn’t working.

After class we all went right back to sleep and made it through an abbreviated afternoon class to our favorite part of the course, the wine tasting. Today was a red wine day and we were also served an assortment of vegetables, meats and cheeses. There are so many little things that go into each wine and its so interesting to see how each winery takes the small steps to make their individual creations unique. We tried a specific wine that tasted great that I marked down to make sure we had at the Branded Butcher back home (Shout out to Corey Ripley’s new place next to the Georgia Theatre. Great place!). We finished up and we all went back to rest up for an eventful evening starting off with rugby practice with the local team here in Cortona.

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The Wine Tasting

We didn’t know whether our friend Alex we had met the previous evening was being serious about us actually coming to play rugby with the locals. We had seriously asked to play and we were told to wait down in the square where he would come and get us. We stopped a picked up a pizza and anxiously waited for him to meet us. To our surprise he actually showed up and we were so excited to get to play with the Italians. Alex walked us to his house which was very nice but the rooms were too small for us and we had to duck most of the time when moving from room to room. He gathered his practice gear and we went to his car and made our way down to the valley. We arrived at a local sports facility and walked towards the field. As we were walking we began to see the other players warming up. Walking alongside the field his teammates began to see us and at one point they yelled out that we looked like his body-guards and everyone began to laugh.

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Warming up

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Scrumming

We just jumped in and started doing any and everything they were doing. We started with a nice jog around the field trying to get warmed up. We then circled up and did stretching and abs that would have made Coach T proud for sure. After pushups and warming up they quickly divided up the team. Ty and myself were on one team and Arthur was on the other. We quickly started to pick up on the rules and how the game of rugby was played. A lot of the game is spent scrumming and the ball must always be passed backwards. We were in constant motion and this helped us get some well-needed conditioning in. After a few minutes we were in the heat of the game. Arthur was naturally a giant on the field that no one wanted to chase after or lower a shoulder on and Ty was reliving his glory days at Calhoun where he was a Linebacker and Tight End. Arthur definitely was the most valuable player of the game and actually would be an amazing player. If football doesn’t work out I’ve made him aware of the 2016 Olympic games where rugby will finally be an Olympic sport. All three of us scored during the game and Arthur had a Heisman moment. I feel like I’m pretty good about acknowledging another’s accomplishments and noticing talent. I never had a personal issue with Tim Tebow when we used to play him even though I hate the gators. But Arthur had ripped the ball out of a pile and began to run around the end. Well, naturally since we didn’t have cleats it was very difficult to change direction. He got the the side line and tried to cut back across the field, naturally I lost my footing and he went airborne and jumped over me continuing to the endzone for the score. All the locals burst into cheers and I continued to dust myself off. Coach Olivadotti would have definitely gotten on to me for not using my inside-outside tackling technique when trying to get Arthur to the ground, but since we didn’t have cleats on I felt that this was just something I couldn’t prevent.

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Listening to an explanation of the rules

We played for a good 30 minutes or so and the team switched from the game to scrum drills where they worked on passing the ball back through their arms. After they were done we all took a break and they asked us if we could show them some of our tackling techniques. I saw this as a great coaching opportunity and a great chance to practice conveying this to a group of people that couldn’t understand me. Arthur and myself were able to line up and explain the proper technique for making a safe and adequate form tackle. Everyone appreciated our small lesson and we quickly went back to playing for another 20 minutes or so. We had a great time and despite the language barrier we were able to play a game with them and gain some respect. They were just appreciative of our willingness to come out and play a game, which we had no idea how to play. When we were done we all gathered up and “broke it down” to one of their chants. After they got there chant in we were able to break it down on one of our own chants. We got them all up and “broke it down” on GEORGIA. Everyone cheered and we proceeded to say our goodbyes.

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Kristen Cox (Theta)

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Sarah Brown (KD)

We had had a great time and this had been a perfect way to end my birthday in Italy. We had been able to get some exercise in along with making some friends that we would never be able to forget. My birthday had been a success and I was able to spend it with some of my closet friends. Having this opportunity and being in this beautiful place has been a great blessing and for that I will be forever appreciative

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Toast

Go Dawgs and shout out to Kae Ashleigh’s mom Kathy Eller! :)

-CR

“When in Rome!”

“Cuando Roma!”…

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