Reprinted from the April, 2008 issue of The Bear Insider magazine based on an interview that occurred late February, 2008.
Part 2: Looking Back at Cal, Finding Inspiration
Even though nearly five years have passed since he last played at Cal, Strang remains close with a number of his former teammates. "Brandon Hall and I are still close because he and I had played junior college ball together," he said. "He got a scholarship to Cal and then really encouraged me to walk on. He's someone that I'm still good friends with today. He's started his own business and we talk almost daily. He's someone that will always be a big part of my life.
"The receiving group there was a very-tight knit group with Geoff McArthur, Chase Lyman and those guys," Strang stated. "Those were the guys that I spent day-in and day-out with plus hours of training camp. Then, Aaron Rodgers is also someone who I still talk to as often as I can. He's doing a great job up in Green Bay and we all enjoy watching him play."
Strang also remains close with a number of his former coaches. "I still talk to Coach (Eric) Kiesau, who is at Colorado now and does a great job there," he said. "He was an excellent coach and really preached the value of knowing where you fit in the system, helping each other out, being a team player and how much effort pays off.
"I am good friends with Coach (Pete) Alamar's son-in-law and daughter, who live in Orange County now," Strang added. "I hang out with them a lot still and send them all Christmas cards. Coach Tedford is about as busy as they get, but any time I'm in Northern California, I always stop by and say hi to him. Those three coaches will always be important to me. I send each of them a Christmas card every year and they're nice enough to find time to send something back. They've really been a big part of my life."
He also remembers many interactions with Cal fans. "Just being able to talk with the kids after the game was great," Strang said. "I remember being out with the guys after a game having dinner, a family coming over to our table and the kids wanting an autograph. They told me that I was their son's favorite player. To hear things like that and to know that there are people out there who look up to you is a lot of fun. The bigger and louder the crowd, the more exciting it is. But when you get to personally interact with them and see that face-to-face time translate over, I think that's amazing. That's why we're out here, to be able to have that opportunity."
Despite his small stature, Strang still found a way to be a success on the field. "I knew that I was fast and agile and that allowed good things to happen," he said. "I knew that I was going to get hit, get knocked down and that there would be times where physically I would get beat. I knew that I could get up and keep going at it. Someone might get me once but I will get him more than one time. I'm going to go out there, believe in myself and my teammates that I will get the job done. Despite the fact that I am undersized, I'm going to find a seam, find a way to get off the line and keep working. Once I'm in the open field, it doesn't matter how big you are, if I see something I will take advantage of it."
That determination also spills over into other areas of his life. "I feel it's absolutely necessary," Strang said. "I don't think you can pour your heart out in one area and leave other parts of your life by the wayside. My family and friends are a huge part of my success, and without them I wouldn't be as successful as I am. I feel that each step I make forward is a step I make for my family and myself. For my nephew, who is only four years old, I want to have stories to tell him when he gets older and gets into sports. I know that even once football is over, I will get into coaching or something like that. I want to translate the passion that I had for playing to other people. Hopefully, they'll be able to use that to overcome things in their life when they feel things are holding them back the way my size has held me back. That's the cornerstone of what I like to do, who I am and what I preach. The passion I have translates over to everything: your work, your family and your success."
Like many, Strang also has a presence in cyberspace. His My Space page is a great place to learn more about Vince. "It's like my personality just thrown onto a web page," he said. "I'm very open and honest about who I am. I want people to come there, check it out, see me, know that I'm a Golden Bear who has a big heart, loves football and my friends. That's basically what it is. It's my personality for people to see, read, comment on and hopefully, say hi."
But for now, Strang is focused on his new gig, playing in the AAFL. "I'm extremely excited," he said. "Meeting some of the other players has been a great experience so far. Everybody seems to be excited to be here. So far, it looks like it's going to be a successful thing. We have passionate people in the right places at the right time and for a young, passionate player, that's very exciting."
"You want to be part of something new and a building process to be on the ground floor," he said. "To be able to be part of the inaugural draft and to start the team where everything we do will be a record that someone else will have to come in later and break is great. Being part of that is really something you can't ask for. You just have to be fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time. I feel like this is a tremendous opportunity for players like myself."
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