Former Air Force Water Polo Player Battling Rare Cancer

    Recent Air Force water polo alumnus David Ostrom, who is currently battling a rare form of cancer, was recently featured in the following article by Dan Albano of the Orange County Register. Ostrom, a 2010 Academy graduate, was an honorable mention All-WWPA honoree in his senior season and remains one of the top-five all-time saves leaders in program history.

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    courtesy of the Orange County Register

    Cancer-stricken Ostrom is Diablos' inspiration

    September 10, 2013 9:20 PM

    By DAN ALBANO

    MISSION VIEJO - David Ostrom doesn't need to look far in his room at Mission Hospital to be reminded of his decision that left some in Orange County's water polo community astonished.

    On a counter near his bed sits a red- and yellow-colored water polo ball covered with signatures from Mission Viejo High's boys team.

    "It's nice to wake up to that every single day," he said Saturday afternoon during a visit in the third-floor lounge at Mission Hospital.

    "It just reminds you of the support out there and the team."

    Ostrom, 25, served as a volunteer boys water polo coach at Mission Viejo, his alma mater, until complications from a rare form of potentially terminal cancer sent him to the hospital in late August.

    And while Ostrom coached the Diablos for only a few weeks, his decision to give back to his sport and community during a time of personal difficulty left a lasting impression.

    "I don't know if I have that willpower," said second-year Mission Viejo coach Jeff Rach, who recently delivered the signed ball to Ostrom on behalf of the water polo program.

    "But for him to just want to give back and spread the love of the sport that he has, and what it did for him to get him to college and all that kind of stuff, I think it's unbelievable."

    'KEEP PUSHING'

    Water polo took Ostrom from Mission Viejo High to the Air Force Academy, where he played from 2006-09. After graduating from the academy, he joined the brotherhood and cockpits of military aviation.

    He was stationed at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska when his promising ascent to becoming a reconnaissance pilot suddenly was grounded.

    Ostrom had been an ultra-fit water polo goalie at Air Force and was still in good physical condition in December when he felt severe pain in his side.

    After undergoing tests, he was diagnosed with adrenocortical carcinoma, an aggressive cancer that starts at the adrenal gland.

    In May, a grim prognosis was delivered. During his trek home to Mission Viejo, a doctor at Travis Air Force Base near San Francisco told Ostrom that he could have six months to a year to live.

    Ostrom read the prognosis in his paperwork and listened to the doctor but felt disbelief.

    "You definitely don't believe it," he said. "I definitely don't think this is the end. ... Just don't listen to other people and keep pushing."

    Ostrom did that once he returned to Mission Viejo for chemotherapy treatments, which began in June. With his career as an active first lieutenant in the Air Force seemingly over, he began thinking about water polo and how much he missed the sport.

    He also thought about helping the program at Mission Viejo High, just a few minutes from his parents' home, where he now resides.

    So on July 30, he sent a message to an ex-teammate at Mission Viejo via Facebook.

    DEVINE INTERVENTION

    The ex-classmate Ostrom turned to was John Devine.

    Ostrom spotted Devine's name listed as an assistant coach on the school's water polo website. He sent Devine a message on Facebook with the hopes of landing a coaching gig with the Diablos.

    As a senior in 2005, Ostrom helped the Mission Viejo water polo team end El Toro's 33-match winning streak in the South Coast League and claim the league title.

    A gifted athlete, Ostrom also pitched on the varsity baseball team as a senior.

    Devine gave Ostrom contact information for Rach, who quickly welcomed Ostrom and helped him get cleared to coach.

    "I realized that I wanted to help people," Ostrom said. "I thought it would be a nice help to (teach players to) really get the basics down."

    He first pushed through chemotherapy. The sessions were grueling. He experienced nausea and extreme fatigue afterward.

    But in mid-August, about 10 days removed from his final chemotherapy session, he arrived for his first practice with the Diablos.

    And just like the players, the former Air Force team MVP entered the pool with his brief-style swim suit, which hardly hid the trauma of his journey.

    There was the patch on his chest to cover his intravenous chemotherapy port. There was a nearly 15-inch scar across his abdomen from a cancer surgery. And his hair was thinning from the chemotherapy.

    Ostrom noted that his belly was bloated, too, but none of that mattered. He wanted the players to know the "full effect" of his story.

    He was able to tread water briefly but mostly floated on a ball while training the goalies.

    Rach stopped the first practice so Ostrom could talk to the players. Weeks later, they remained impressed.

    "Instead of just spending his last couple months to live in bed-rest, he's giving back to a sport that really gave a lot back to him," senior captain Zach Gleason said.

    "It takes a lot of courage for someone to do that. Even when he's not feeling 100 percent, just coming down, helping whenever he can, it means a lot to us."

    "He's a good coach," said freshman goalie Harrison Kelley, who showed improvement after training with Ostrom. "It's really brave of him to help out with something he (loves), water polo."

    A NEEDED ESCAPE

    While Ostrom reached out to Mission Viejo, he also reaped his own benefits from his decision.

    His venture into water polo coaching gave him a needed escape from thinking about the rigors of his fight against cancer. There are times when he loses his train of thought while talking or needs to lay on his back to rest.

    But Ostrom said he felt good at his last water polo practice, which was Aug. 26. He was, however, admitted to the hospital later that day.

    "It kind of gets your mind off the whole situation," he said of water polo. "When I came back (to Mission Viejo), I wanted to do something that I knew that I would enjoy."

    Since being hospitalized, tests have shown that the cancer has spread and, Ostrom said, he's also battling a staph infection, liver disease and blood clots.

    Despite the life-threatening circumstances, he remains surprisingly upbeat, to the point that he cracks jokes. He is well-supported by his family, friends and his loyal service dog, Sophie, a tiny, white Maltese Schnauzer.

    He seems to encounter a steady flow of visitors and enjoys diversions such as the family's fantasy football league.

    As for the next medical move, Ostrom's wife, Whitney, is helping to research clinical trials for cancer treatment. There's been talk of joining a clinical trial in Houston.

    "Miracles can happen," said Ostrom's mother, Laura. "We have a lot of fight left in us."

    Ostrom also has been buoyed by his fellow Air Force pilots. Bryan Holtz, one of Ostrom's friends from the academy, designed T-shirts with the phrase "#brostrong" across the chest as a fundraiser.

    There are pictures on Facebook pages of the pilots wearing the shirts under their flight suits during stops in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait.

    Friends and family have raised more than $8,000 to send Ostrom and Whitney, his wife since May, on a trip.

    "The support has been amazing," Ostrom said.

    Ever the giver, though, he adds, "I feel bad that I haven't been able to reciprocate."

    AN 'INSPIRATION'

    Ostrom would like to return to coaching at Mission Viejo, though he said he likely won't be getting back in the water.

    "I'm definitely going to go to a couple games when I get out of here," he said. "Try to help out as much as I can."

    But no matter what happens, the Mission Viejo players and coaches already let Ostrom know what his decision to coach meant to them.

    The Diablos placed the signed ball in a clear case with a small, silver plaque that reads, "Coach Ostrom 2013 Diablos' Season Inspiration."

    Contact the writer: dalbano@ocregister.com

     

    Track and Field's Scott Irving to Retire at End of Month

    Scott Irving, the associate head coach of the Air Force track and field team, recently announced his retirement, effective September 30. As the event coach of the Falcons' throwing team since 1999, Irving has been instrumental in the team's rise at both the conference and national levels.

     

    "I absolutely loved coaching at the Academy," Irving said. "No other place holds a candle to USAFA ... it's not even close. Everyone ... from the coaches and administrators to the custodians and facility crew ... has helped make this program what it is today. The cadets have been a real blessing and I will miss them all dearly."

     

    During his tenure at Air Force, Irving has taught numerous classes in the Academy's physical education department (2000-13), while coaching the pole vault (2000-03), horizontal jumps (2004-06) and throwing events (2000-13). In addition, he coordinated the strength and conditioning program for the entire track and field program from 2000 to 2001.

     

    Irving has also coordinated the officials that volunteer their time to assist with all Air Force home competitions, as well as other meets held at the Academy facilities, noting that "they constantly epitomize the ideal of going above and beyond."

     

    "Scott's been invaluable to this coaching staff for the past 14 seasons," head coach Ralph Lindeman said. "He began his coaching day right after lunch, every day, by scheduling cadets to come down to work with him individually, and then was one of the last to leave the field most every evening. Scott truly gave all his throwers the gift of individualized instruction, coaching and caring."

     

    Under Irving's direction, Dana Pounds won back-to-back NCAA national titles in the javelin throw (2005, 2006), while setting the Mountain West record of 195'8"

     

    The success of Pounds continued after her graduation, as Irving served as her personal coach while she took part in the Air Force World Class Athlete Program (WCAP). The champion of the 2007 U.S. National Outdoor Track and Field Championships, Pounds was a member of the Team USA squad that competed at the world championships that year and finished second at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials.

     

    He coached seven of the 10 NCAA Division I All-Americans for all women's sports at the Academy, including Pounds (2004, 2005, 2006 javelin), Olivia Korte (2006 discus) and Sara Neubauer (2009, 2010 discus; 2009 shot put), while leading Neubauer to the shot put title at the U.S. Junior National Outdoor Track and Field Championships in 2007.

     

    Irving coached 12 of the Academy's female Mountain West champions (all sports), highlighted by six individuals who combined for 11 throwing titles (Dominique Boivin - 2003 discus; Pounds - 2004, 2005, 2006 javelin; Korte - 2007 discus; Neubauer - 2010 indoor shot put, 2010 outdoor shot put, 2010 weight throw, 2010 discus; Katie Weber - 2010 javelin; Paige Blackburn - 2012 javelin). In addition, he was the event coach for Ana-Maria Ortega when she won the conference title in the pole vault during the 2001 season.

     

    On the men's side, Irving-coached athletes accounted for nine Mountain West titles. Three Falcons combined for four javelin titles, including Joe Bonner (2000), Tim Fritz (2002, 2003) and Matt Schwandt (2007), while Robert Drye claimed back-to-back first-place finishes in the hammer throw (2011, 2012) and Anthony Park swept the long jump titles at the 2004 indoor and outdoor conference championship meets. In addition, David Lissy won the shot put at the 2008 MW Indoor Championships.

     

    The throwers on the men's team have outscored all other teams at the Mountain West Championships on three occasions (2008 indoors, 2001 outdoors, 2013 outdoors). The men tallied a record 55 points in the throwing events at the MW Outdoor Championships, highlighted by seven all-MW selections (Brian Ford - hammer, discus; James Chambers - discus, shot put; Garrett Griffin - javelin; Grant Hamilton - shot put).

     

    In 2011, Cole became the first member of the men's throwing program to garner All-America recognition, receiving Honorable Mention status after advancing to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the discus throw.

     

    Irving has coached countless Academy record holders. In addition to the throwing marks in the indoor and outdoor shot put (men: Shawn Johnson, women: Neubauer), discus throw (men: James Cole, women: Korte), javelin throw (men: Bonner, women: Pounds), weight throw (men: William Kent, women: Blackburn) and hammer throw (men: Drye; women: Neubauer), Irving also coached Park and Chris Banks in 2004 when they respectively set the Academy records in the indoor and outdoor triple jump.

     

    During his tenure, 12 athletes have earned All-Academic Team honors from the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA), with Ford (2013) being the most recent honoree for student-athletes that boast a strong GPA and advanced to the NCAA Championship meet. In addition, Pounds was recognized as the Female Collegiate Athlete of the Year by the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 2006 and Kent was awarded the Mountain West and NCAA Sportsmanship Awards in 2013.

     

    Irving was twice recognized as the NCAA Division I Women's Assistant Coach of the Year (2009, 2010) by the USTFCCCA. The members of his 2007 and 2010 women's throwing teams were recognized by Sportswomen of Colorado, Inc., while Irving received a Career Achievement Award from the organization in 2013. In addition, he was honored as the Lifetime Instructor of the Semester for Physical Education (fall 2003, fall 2012).

     

    "It has indeed been an incredible honor to coach with the likes of Ralph Lindeman, Juli Benson, Scott Steffan, Allen Johnson, Mark Stanforth, Bob Graf and Ron White," Irving said. "I would also like to thank all the volunteer coaches, too numerous to mention, who have helped elevate the throwing events, the pole vault and entire program."

     

    "Personally, I'll miss Scott as a friend, colleague, collaborator and confidant," Lindeman continued. "He's someone that I've shared values with, as well as countless conversations through the years in our efforts to not only optimize our athletes' results on the field, but to develop leaders of character for the Air Force and our country. While he can be proud of the accomplishments of his many athletes, I think he can be most proud of that fact."

     

    Irving voiced the same sentiment, when he stated that "winning and records are tremendous, but the bottom line is helping develop officers of character, who will protect and defend our great nation."

     

    Following his retirement, Irving and his wife, Allyn, will split their time between Fort Garland, Colo., and Tucson, Ariz. The recipient of an art history master's from Northwestern, Irving looks forward to pursuing his love of art by creating bronze sculptures with a track and field emphasis.

     

     Scott Irving's Biography

    2013 Air Force Water Polo Media Guide Available Online

     

    The 2013 Air Force water polo media guide is now available online at the following link:

    http://www.goairforcefalcons.com/sports/m-wpolo/archive/090613aab.html

    The Falcons, ranked 12th nationally in the preseason coaches' poll, open the 2013 season this weekend, Sept. 7-8, at the Triton Invitational, hosted by WWPA rival UC San Diego.

    Air Force Men's Gymnastics Earns 2013 Academic Awards

     Two members of the Air Force men's gymnastics team earned All-American Scholar-Athlete honors from the College Gymnastics Association last week, while the team also received recognition. James Okamoto, a 2013 Academy graduate, was honored with first-team status based on his GPA of 3.50 or higher, while current senior Nick Owen claimed second-team accolades for his GPA between 3.200-3.499.  As a team, the Falcons were one of six teams to earn Honorable Mention status based on the team's overall GPA.

    Results from the Cadet Wing Open Track and Field Meet

    The Air Force track and field team hosted the third-annual Cadet Wing Open Intramural Track and Field Meet last week (Aug. 20-22) at the Cadet Outdoor Track and Field Complex. The 2013 event featured the largest participation in meet history, with over 200 cadets from 32 squadrons.

     

    In addition, the meet featured the first-ever "Faculty 1500" with over 40 Academy professors and instructors participating.

     

    Eight meet records were set at the 2013 meet, as Cadet Squadron 01 won the squad competition with 38 points. Cadet Squadron 04 finished second with 31 points, while CS-15 (27 points), CS-34 (25 points) and CS-35 (24 points) rounded out the top five.

     

    MEET RECORDS SET IN 2013

    Men's 100m - 11.34, C4C Chandler Myers (CS-06)

    Men's 3200m - 11:14.97, C4C Jesse Lubove (CS-11)

    Men's 110m Hurdles - C1C Jason Fabian (CS-35)

    Men's 2000m Steeplechase - 6:52.30, C3C Joseph Esswein (CS-14)

    Men's Long Jump - 20'8.75", C4C Tyson McQuerry (CS-34)

    Women's 3200m - 14:22.51, C4C Bethany Dorian (CS-04)

    Women's Shot Put - 40'8.75", C3C Katelyn Holland (CS-35)

    Women's Javelin - 90'7", C3C Katelyn Holland (CS-35)

     

    Complete Results: WO-final results-2013.pdf

    ESPN to carry Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony feature Scott Thomas

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      The National Football Foundation (NFF) and the College Football Hall of Fame announced today that ESPN3 will carry live the 2013 Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony on Aug. 28 from the Omni Hotel at CNN Center in Atlanta.

     

    The live event will start at 7:30 p.m. ET, and the ceremony will showcase the careers of 24 of college football's greatest legends, including Charles Alexander (LSU), Otis Armstrong (Purdue), Steve Bartkowski (California), Hal Bedsole (Southern California), Dave Casper (Notre Dame), coach Frank Cignetti (West Virginia, Indiana [Pa.]), Ty Detmer (BYU), coach James "Boots" Donnelly (Austin Peay State, Middle Tennessee State), coach Jess Dow (Southern Connecticut State), coach Phillip Fulmer (Tennessee), coach Jimmy Johnson (Oklahoma State, Miami [Fla.]), Shelby Jordan (Washington University in St. Louis [Mo.]), Tommy Kramer (Rice), Joe Micchia (Westminster College [Pa.]), Art Monk (Syracuse), Greg Myers (Colorado State), Jonathan Ogden (UCLA), Gabe Rivera (Texas Tech), Art Shell (University of Maryland Eastern Shore), Mark Simoneau (Kansas State), coach R.C. Slocum (Texas A&M), Scott Thomas (Air Force), Jeff Wittman (Ithaca College [N.Y.]) and John Wooten (Colorado).

     

    The sold-out event will be emceed by award-winning broadcaster Wes Durham. In addition to the enshrinement ceremonies, the show will feature a preview of the 2013 college football season by a panel of top television analysts, including Tony Barnhart, Desmond Howard (a 2010 inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame), Mark Schlabach and Matt Stinchcomb (the 1998 recipient of the NFF William V. Campbell Trophy).

     

    ESPN3 is ESPN's live multi-screen sports network, a destination that delivers thousands of global sports events annually, and it is accessible online via WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app, and streamed on televisions through ESPN on Xbox LIVE to Gold members and Apple TV. It is currently available to more than 85 million households at no additional cost to fans who receive their high-speed Internet connection or video subscription from an affiliated service provider.  The network is also available at no cost to approximately 21 million U.S. college students and U.S.-based military personnel via computers, smartphones and tablets connected to on-campus educational and on-base military broadband and Wi-Fi networks. A list of participating providers for ESPN3 can be found HERE.  For questions, contact ESPN Customer Care at 1-888-549-3776 between the hours of 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. ET daily.

    Mountain West Network does Air Force football preview

    The Mountain West Network's "Countdown to Kickoff" episode featuring Air Force to the all-new Conference website (http://www.themwc.com/#!/video-detail/8yZ2x3ZDoCUjA7Lx5I8CLMyKR9G6ZuiN). This footage can be found on the MW's YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJ8Xi0M_cFE and we've distributed links to our followers on the league's Facebook page and Twitter feed.

    CBS SPORTS TO BROADCAST MOUNTAIN WEST CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

    CBS Sports has signed a multi-year deal to broadcast the Mountain West Conference Football Championship Game.  CBS Sports will broadcast the inaugural title match-up live on Saturday, Dec. 7 at 10:00 pm, ET from the home stadium of the regular-season Mountain West divisional champion with the highest BCS ranking. 

    CBS Sports Network serves as the Mountain West's primary television partner and will air 23 games this season featuring MW teams, with CBS Sports airing one regular-season contest (Air Force vs. Navy) in addition to the championship match-up.  CBS Sports' college football championship coverage on December 7 begins earlier in the day with the SEC Championship (4:00 PM, ET) from the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga.

    "The new Mountain West football structure, which will culminate in an exciting match-up between two divisional champions, is one of many recent initiatives for the Conference as we enter our next era," said Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson.  "We are pleased that CBS Sports will serve as a tremendous platform for this marquee event, providing an opportunity to showcase the caliber of Mountain West football." 

    "We're thrilled to extend our relationship with the Mountain West and broadcast their inaugural football championship game," said Dan Weinberg, Senior Vice President, Programming, CBS Sports.  "It's a great addition to our college football programming and we look forward to providing fans with a full day of Championship coverage for many years."

    Beginning in the fall of 2013, MW football membership will include Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, New Mexico, Utah State and Wyoming in the Mountain Division and Fresno State, Hawai'i, Nevada, San Diego State, San José State and UNLV in the West Division.

     

    Former Falcon Gizzi's American flag spring for Green Bay to be on MNF

    Former Falcon Chris Gizzi took part in one of the most emotional scenes in our nation's recent history when he carried an American flag on the field in the first football game after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 22, 2001. Gizzi's stirring dash took place on Sept. 24 before a huge crowd at Lambeau Field on Monday Night Football. The scene is going to be part of the MNF's open this season. For a full story, click on the link below:

    http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/sports/219627331.html

    Hall of Famer Scott Thomas to be enshrined Aug. 28 in Atlanta

    The National Football Foundation will enshrine the 2012 FBS College Football Hall of Fame Class as well as the 2013 Divisional Hall of Fame Class on Aug. 28 in Atlanta. A press event will be held at the construction site of the new Hall of Fame, with enshrinement at a dinner banquet that evening at the Omni Hotel at CNN Center.

    The Hall of Famers include Charles Alexander (LSU), Otis Armstrong (Purdue), Steve Bartkowski (California), Hal Bedsole (Southern California), Dave Casper (Notre Dame), coach Frank Cignetti (West Virginia, Indiana (PA), Ty Detmer (BYU), coach James "Boots" Donnelly (Middle Tennessee State), coach Jess Dow (Southern Connecticut State), coach Phillip Fulmer (Tennessee), coach Jimmy Johnson (Oklahoma State, Miami, Fla), Shelby Jordan (Washington University in St. Louis [Mo.]), Tommy Kramer (Rice), Joe Micchia (Westminster College [Pa.]), Art Monk (Syracuse), Greg Myers (Colorado State), Jonathan Ogden (UCLA), Gabe Rivera (Texas Tech), Art Shell (University of Maryland Eastern Shore), Mark Simoneau (Kansas State), coach R.C. Slocum (Texas A&M), Scott Thomas (Air Force), Jeff Wittman (Ithaca College [N.Y.]) and John Wooten (Colorado).

    For additional information, please
    click here.