The prologue will be longer than the excerpts, but I want to help make this as clear as possible.
According to the most recent information I’ve received from Gazette editor Lyle Muller, the preseason magazine we’re publishing will be on the shelves at Cedar Rapids-Marion Hy-Vee supermarkets and drug stores on Wednesday. If that changes, I’ll let you know here as soon as I know.
The only way to get a copy of “If the Stars Align,” will be from those Hy-Vees in Cedar Rapids and Marion. There’s nothing sinister about it. It’s those stores’ product to sell as it wants. Industrious people who want copies will get them.
Maybe it’s ironic. I worked for over three years at a C.R. Hy-Vee as a younger fella. Now I’m sort of working for the company again. But if you drop a jar of peanut butter in the store, I’m not cleaning it up this time.
Anyway, if you want a copy — or three — either get thee to Cedar Rapids or have a friend or relative in C.R. or Linn County help you out. I suspect I’ll be asked repeatedly how to get a c0py of the magazine, which looks great in my opinion, and I had nothing to do with its design. Reread the previous paragraph for your answer.
Among the many items in the magazine are six feature stories on players, written by Gazetteonline’s Scott Dochterman, Marc Morehouse and myself. Dochterman wrote about Tyler Sash and Iowa’s running backs. Morehouse has Adrian Clayborn and Marvin McNutt. I was assigned Ricky Stanzi and Derrell Johnson-Koulianos.
It’s original material. We won’t be reprinting it here at a later time, at least not to my knowledge.
I wish all of my DJK stuff was going on this blog, to be frank. Johnson-Koulianos was more or less adrift in his Youngstown, Ohio hometown until he was 10 years old and met an obstetrician and his wife. Tony and Lauren Koulianos took Derrell Johnson into their home, pounded the importance of education in his head, and gave him a secure environment in which to thrive.
Lauren calls it a story much like “The Blind Side.” That was based on the true story of a married couple who take in a homeless teen, Michael “Big Mike” Oher. Oher had little education. Leigh Anne Tuohy took charge to ensure Oher had a chance to succeed. Oher now plays in the NFL.
Like I said, long prologue. But I am going to put a few excerpts here to at least give you the shell of the story:
“I caught a blessing,” (Johnson-Koulianos) said. “Just at the right moment before things could have gone sour.” …
“It was a gradual process,” Lauren said. “We opened our hearts and home to Derrell.
“It takes a lot of strength to do what he does out there (on a football field). I think how he lived the first part of his life made him a survivor.” …
“I grew up in the projects,” Derrell said. “I was running the streets, no curfew. I really had nobody to answer to until I met my mom, Lauren and my dad, Tony.
“My biological mom had me when she was 14 years old. She kind of got overwhelmed with the process of life and I kind of became a distraction. My biological dad died when I was a toddler. So from a very, very young age, I was raising myself. … Then my life took a drastic change.” …
Lauren: “Did he get it all the time? No. Did I have to yell at him a lot? Absolutely. I was pretty tough on him when it came to that, to try to get it turned around.” …
“To be a college student is something I had never dreamed of,” he said. “College? I didn’t even hear the word ‘college’ until I met my parents.” …
“I was a wired-for-sound kid. I had a hard time concentrating on anything. Homework was impossible. Completing any task was impossible. Then I was diagnosed with ADD.
“My whole life, I could have been suffering from that, not even knowing.” …
“I don’t understand why God chose me out of everybody to meet my family. I wouldn’t be here without them.”