Posts Tagged college football

Unable to play football, disabled fan earned FSU championship ring

August 28, 2014 – By Katie Petty, Correspondent, Orlando Sentinel

Payton Poulin, was born with schizencephaly. It didn’t stop him from attending most of FSU’s practices and games last year and from inspiring the team.

FSU National Championship Ring

Nearly two decades after his parents were told he likely never would talk, Payton Poulin had no trouble finding the words to express what his national championship ring meant to him.

The Osceola teen who wasn’t expected to walk stood on his own for the first time in June.

Poulin’s predicted life expectancy was not supposed to extend past a very early age, certainly not into his sophomore year at Florida State.

An improbable, special life has become more charmed in the past year, when Poulin was befriended by FSU’s football team, attended practices and games last fall, and received a special gift to commemorate his role in the Seminoles’ title-winning season.

“I always thought that if they won the national championship, I wouldn’t get a ring, but they told me one day that I was going to get one,” said Poulin, a Harmony High School graduate who is expected to attend the Seminoles’ season opener Saturday night against Oklahoma State in Irving, Texas. “I couldn’t believe that they would do that for me.

“It was super nice for them to do that.”

Poulin was born with schizencephaly, a birth defect similar to cerebral palsy that affected his muscular development and language skills. While he cannot play football, that did not stop him from attending Harmony’s varsity practices throughout high school and giving the Longhorns pregame speeches.

“He would always say something to bring their focus back or give them a word of encouragement when they weren’t doing as well or pat them on the butt and say, ‘Hey, I saw that,”’ Harmony coach Jerrad Butler said. “Regardless of what it was, he was very socially aware of the situation and what needed to be done. He had a good grasp on reading people.”

After meeting former FSU wide receiver Kenny Shaw in an introduction to short stories class last fall, Poulin was invited to a Seminoles practice.

He soon became as much a fixture there as Jimbo Fisher.

“He’s just electric and so positive,” said Fisher, FSU’s coach. “He never missed a day of practice and was always on time. He’s a great inspiration to the team and the coaches.”

Poulin, a Seminoles fan since he was 4, attended all seven of FSU’s home games and its victory against UF in Gainesville last year.

After FSU (14-0) beat Auburn 34-31 in the BCS championship game in Pasadena, Calif., in January, Fisher surprised Poulin with a ring that showcases FSU’s emblem, glitters with white gems and is inscribed with the words “NATIONAL CHAMPION.”

The Seminoles will enter this season atop preseason polls.

“Sometimes you might think, ‘Does Payton deserve that [ring] because he didn’t play on the team?’” said his father, Patrick Poulin Jr. “But with all his heart, he would be on that team, and he would be playing on that team if he didn’t have his disability.”

Butler recalled when Harmony started 0-5 during Poulin’s senior year. The Longhorns were struggling through a poor practice when Poulin told Butler, “I got this, Coach.”

Two players lifted Poulin from his wheelchair, then had the entire roster line up, interlock arms and walk 100 yards. Then Poulin said, “Quit feeling sorry for yourselves. It’s time to start new.”

The Longhorns finished that season with only their second playoff berth since the school opened in 2004.

Now he has a ring — and much more.

In the past year, Poulin has worked with FSU’s physical therapists to build leg strength. He used a metal bar to stand for 10-minute increments a few times a week.

On June 27, Poulin stood on his own for the first time.

“It felt awesome,” said Poulin, whose goal is to walk a marathon (26.2 miles). “If you haven’t done it before, then it’s great to stand.”

Poulin, a business major, returned to FSU’s football practices last week. He plans on attending every practice and home game this season.

Even if the end result is not another ring, the experience is more valuable.

“Being around such a great group of individuals changed my outlook on life, because they always have one goal in mind, no matter the circumstance,” Poulin said.

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Thieves steal $30,000 in memorabilia from Carlos Dunlap’s Father

July 22, 2014

Carols Dunlap’s father is pleading for the return of his son’s football memorabilia, including his national championship football ring (shown below) and several autographed Bengals jerseys.

2008 Florida Gators National Championship Ring

They were priceless items given to a father from his son, a defensive end for the Cincinnati Bengals.

“He bought me one and his mother one. It’s like a football jersey; you wear it around your neck with black diamonds. The back of it has his name on it, the front has his number,” said Carlos Dunlap Sr., father of Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap Jr.

Dunlap’s house was broken into and robbed last week.

“The most precious item taken was my son’s national championship ring. It was a Florida Gator ring,” said Dunlap.

The 2008 National Championship ring has the 13-1 season on one side and the last name Dunlap on the other side. Dunlap said his son gave it to him as a gift after the big game.

“He said, ‘If it hadn’t been for you, I wouldn’t have got this ring. So, the first ring goes to you,’” said Dunlap.

Dunlap believes the thieves got away with about $30,000 worth of jewelry and electronics. He says they also took several autographed Bengals jerseys and signed photos.

Dunlap said he has no idea who did it.

“With the line of work I do, anybody could have done it, even someone I locked up in jail,” said Dunlap.

The bailbonds man suspects the persons responsible knew where he lived. The North Charleston police report also lists a stolen video surveillance system.

“It’s not a comfortable feeling, but I do plan on increasing security,” said Dunlap.

Dunlap says the thieves took another of his son’s athletic rings. He’s hopeful someone will see the photo and just return the National Championship ring.

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Head Coach Mark Dantonio unveils Michigan State’s Rose Bowl championship ring

April 27, 2014

The head coach arrived at Spartan Stadium Saturday for the Green-White game sporting some new bling.

Michigan State Rose Bowl championship ring

The Spartans — who as a team will receive their rings following the conclusion of the spring game — beat Stanford 24-20 in the 2014 Rose Bowl.

The ring has a green Spartan head on the front face, the score of the Rose Bowl and the team’s 13-1 record on one side and says “THE ONES” on the other. On the inside of the ring reads the season’s mantra, “Chase It.”

Because the players are limited in the monetary value they can receive, their rings will be made of non-gold and the dimaonds will not be real.

During halftime of the spring scrimmage, Michigan State honored the 2013 Big Ten championship and Rose Bowl championship team.

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FSU fan Payton Poulin gets his championship ring

April 16, 2014

Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher always told Payton Poulin he was a member of the FSU family. Now Fisher and the team proved it.

FSU Florida State University National Championship Ring

That sentiment was reiterated Wednesday when the coach handed him a shiny BCS National Championship ring after an FSU practice.

“It’s beautiful, man. Has my last name on it, just like the players,” Poulin told the Democrat Tuesday.

The Florida State freshman from St. Cloud blurred the line between fan and teammate during last year’s national championship run. Poulin has a rare physical condition called schizencephaly, similar to cerebral palsy, that requires him to use a wheelchair, but it never stopped him from rooting for the ’Noles.

The lifelong fan was at nearly every practice last year often joking on the sideline with players like standout receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Kenny Shaw.

“He is a great member and a great inspiration to our players,” Fisher said. “He never misses a practice or a workout. He is a very devoted to our players and is a truly great Seminole.”

Fisher put up for national championship game tickets for Poulin and his parents and a few other fans provided the family with an expense-free trip to Pasadena.

Poulin said he was previously fitted for the ring so it came as no surprise, but he didn’t know it was going to be presented by Fisher.

“This organization is the best not just in terms of wins but in terms of having a great deal of selfless and giving hearts,” Poulin said.

He’s now looking forward to next season, but says this new team has a different identity than last year’s.

“I believe we can do it again but we need the same fire we had in our stomachs,” he said. “Just like coach says: don’t be complacent.”

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