Join the Orthodox Mom’s Team to Tackle Poverty with the Polamalu’s!

We’ve talked about Theodora Polamalu’s involvement with FOCUS North America before on this blog before and the importance of organizations like this in America. And if you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen me retweet Troy’s announcement:

Tackle Poverty has recently opened a new center for those less fortunate in Pittsburgh’s hill district and are asking people to organize teams to help raise money and awareness.


I think it’s incredible that we have an Orthodox family like the Polamalu’s fighting against world poverty. Let’s show them our support and help others in need at the same time!

I’ve started an Orthodox Mom team, you may have noticed the banner in the sidebar this past week, and am hoping to encourage you to donate to the cause.

Why not start a team on your blog or youth group? Or just encourage family and friends to give?

Troy Polamalu at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum

A friend shared this link today on Facebook of Troy Polamalu at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. I got a good laugh…still trying to figure out how he kept a straight face!!


FOCUS North America in Pittsburgh

Troy Polamalu with sons, Paisios and Ephraim

FOCUS North America announced its plan to begin extending its program into the Pittsburgh area. Being born and raised in Northeast Ohio, cities like Cleveland and Pittsburgh felt like part of my hometown growing up, so I am was very happy to learn of FOCUS’ plan to get even more involved there.

Theodora Polamalu, a board member for the North America division, spoke at a recent fundraiser held in Pittsburgh. (The following excerpt was taken from the Post Gazette. To read the article in its entirety, follow this link.)

Mrs. Polamalu spoke at the dinner on seeing the image of God in the poor.

“We are all images of the very God we serve,” she said. “It is the imperative of this organization to restore the dignity that belongs to each man as bestowed by God.”

She spoke of people who lost everything in the recession and of veterans who returned from war “to homelessness and despair.”

“You might ask, ‘Where is God in their lives?’ The better question is ‘Where is God in our lives?’ ” she said, urging listeners to respond in the name of Jesus.

The Polamalu family made the dinner even more special by donating items to be raffled off during a silent auction, including signed POLAMALU jerseys and even raffling off tickets for attendees to have dessert with them at the end of the dinner. They earned over $12000 for dessert alone!

One person in attendance stated, “The first thing Troy did when he arrived was went into the kitchen and thanked everyone for their hard work. It really set the tone for the night and got them excited.”

Theodora reminded guests that nearly one-third of Pittsburgh’s kids living below the poverty line and over 1400 homeless living in the city, the work of reconciling the needs of others is great. I am always in awe of their family’s love and humility. Troy obviously being the one most often mentioned in the news but Theodora takes no backseat when it comes to sharing their family’s blessings whenever she can. Like the saying goes, “Behind every successful man is a woman”, right? :) Well, I guess that’s not always the case but it certainly is in this one and I think Troy would agree.

Theodora also said that she and Troy hoped that “whether the name is Polamalu or Smith, we will all share the responsibility of lifting the great name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ whose name is above all names.” Amen.

i love that Ephraim is missing his shoe in this pic…guess it’s the mommy in me. :)

To learn more about FOCUS and how you can help, check out their official website here.

Pittsburgh Steelers’ Troy Polamalu: Head and Shoulders Above the Rest

DALLAS — Focus on his hair, and Troy Polamalu will play along. Ask him about his celebrity crush, and he will not.

It’s an important distinction in the life of a true warrior.

“My celebrity crush is my wife, Theodora Polamalu,” he tells a reporter from “Access Hollywood.” “No wonder nobody can stay married in Hollywood with questions like that.”

Polamalu is my favorite NFL player, and it’s not even close. He’s humble, thoughtful, soft-spoken, stripped of ego and capable of great damage on a football field. He’s on a journey that transcends his profession. | blog Playing pick-up with a legend

“I want to represent something bigger than myself, whether it’s on the football field or off,” Polamalu said.

When the Steelers came to play the Cardinals in September 2007, Polamalu had a special request for his coaches. He was compelled to visit a man he calls his “spiritual father,” the one who founded St. Anthony’s monastery in Florence.

Services began at 3 a.m. Sunday and ended four hours later. The Steelers provided the driver, and with a nourished soul, Polamalu rushed back to the Valley for a 2:15 p.m. kickoff.

“He’s a special player that you sometimes make exceptions to the rule for,” Steelers secondary coach Ray Horton said. “At least we do.”

Horton was asked what time Polamalu returned from his sleepless night at the monastery.

“We didn’t ask,” he said. “We didn’t care, as long as he was here for the game.”

That kind of trust is rare in the NFL, and yet it’s an important part of his relationship with the Steelers. It’s why defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau gives Polamalu the authority to freelance within the structure of his system.

Maybe you’ve seen the goal-line footage of Polamalu leaping over an offensive lineman and sacking the Titans’ quarterback as soon as he received the snap. Here’s how it unfolded:

Early in the week, Horton told Polamalu that in certain formations, Tennessee’s tight end never goes out for a pass.

“Never?” Polamalu asked.

That was the extent of the conversation. At least until Polamalu reached the sideline after his flying tackle. Horton wanted to know what in the world made Polamalu take such a risk.

“You told me that No. 75 never goes out for a pass,” Polamalu said.

Thus, aware that he wasn’t going to get burned on a pass play, Polamalu seized the moment to freelance. And that’s how it works in Pittsburgh.

Polamalu won’t acknowledge the special treatment or his special role on the field. That would imply he’s better than his teammates, and you’ll never hear anything like that come out of his mouth. With a straight face, he said his uniform number is the only thing that makes him different.

When he was named Defensive Player of the Year, he immediately tweeted that the Packers’ Clay Matthews, the Ravens’ Ed Reed, the Bears’ Julius Peppers and the Steelers’ James Harrison are “way more deserving.”

Then he followed up with this:

“Individual awards only have a place in golf and bowling. Too many parts to single out one player in the world’s greatest TEAM sport.”

If that weren’t enough to admire the Steelers’ star, try this:

While attending his niece’s volleyball tournament in Maryvale, Polamalu was spotted by some young kids in the crowd. They rushed over for his autograph. He happily obliged, and offered a better idea.

He took the kids into the parking lot for an impromptu game of football.

“My son disappeared for like 30 minutes, and when I went outside, I couldn’t believe what I saw,” Phoenix resident Jeff Leiva said. “They were playing football on this narrow strip of pavement. Troy was diagramming plays for the kids. He was the designated quarterback.”

That’s incredible.

“He told us a bunch of plays in the huddle. He told me to run a fly route,” his son, Camden, said. “And I caught it for a touchdown.”

Polamalu remembers the incident but declined to elaborate. Some things are from the heart and not meant for media consumption.

“He’s the epitome of a competitor,” LeBeau said. “Mentally and physically, he has the demeanor of a true warrior. He was born to play professional football. He’s one of the best I’ve ever seen.”

And the only one who would argue with that assessment.

Reach Bickley at or 602-444-8253. Read his online column at Listen to “Bickley and MJ” weekdays from 2-6 p.m. on KGME-AM (910).

Troy Polamolu: A Defensive Anchor Walks a Spiritual Path

Loved, loved, loved this article that was published by the New York Times on Troy. I have so much respect for his family for the path they walk and only wish I had the strength to do the same…

Good luck to him at the Super Bowl this Sunday!!

Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

Troy Polamalu has won two Super Bowl titles with the Steelers. His team faces the Ravens on Saturday.

PITTSBURGH — Steelers safety Troy Polamalu opened his red leather-bound playbook to a dog-eared page. “The life of a man hangs by a hair,” he began reading in a voice as soft as falling snow. “At every step our life hangs in the balance.”

It was three days before the Steelers’ A.F.C. divisional playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens, a matchup in which the Super Bowl aspirations of two worthy contenders hang in the balance, and Polamalu was getting himself centered.

“How many millions of people woke up in the morning, never to see the evening?” Polamalu read. And then: “The life of a man is a dream. In a dream, one sees things that do not exist; he might see that he is crowned a king, but when he wakes up, he sees that in reality he is just a pauper.”

The book in Polamalu’s hands, “Counsels From the Holy Mountain,” guides him in football and in life. It contains the letters and homilies of a Greek Orthodox monk, Elder Ephraim, whom Polamalu described as his spiritual doctor.

Polamalu, 29, sought out the octogenarian monk, who resides in a monastery in southern Arizona, a few years ago, a meeting that led Polamalu to the place he described as “heaven on earth.” It is a summit of sorts. But not the Super Bowl, though Polamalu won two championship rings in his first seven seasons with the Steelers. Neither of those journeys shaped him as profoundly as the pilgrimage he made to Mount Athos, a Greek Orthodox spiritual center in Greece.

While there, Polamalu said he witnessed humility and sacrifice in its deepest, purest forms and realized that for all their obvious differences, the spiritual path shared much with a Super Bowl journey.

“Both require great discipline,” Polamalu said, “and a selflessness in the name of a greater good.”

A pacifist whose tough play epitomizes his violent sport, Polamalu is the anchor of both the Pittsburgh defense and its locker room. In a vote this season of the players, Polamalu was voted the team’s most valuable player, becoming the first safety since Donnie Shell in 1980 to be so honored.

“Obviously, in a lot of respects it’s a big deal,” Polamalu said, adding: “I’ve never been a fan of individual awards because football is such a team sport. There’s so many things that goes into making plays. It’s about teammates trusting one another and working together.”

Asked whom he voted for, Polamalu said linebacker James Harrison. “Nobody does what he does,” Polamalu said.

While Harrison, who amassed $100,000 in league fines this season for dangerous hits, appreciated Polamalu’s sentiments, he said, “Troy could be voted our M.V.P. every year.”

In the Steelers’ 41-9 win at Cleveland on Jan. 2, which clinched a first-round playoff bye, Polamalu was back in the starting lineup after missing two games with an Achilles’ heel injury.

It didn’t take him long to get his legs back. On the second play from scrimmage, Polamalu picked off a Colt McCoy pass for his seventh interception, tying a career high. On a goal-line play at the start of the second quarter, he leaped over the line of scrimmage and was in McCoy’s face before he had time to cock his throwing arm.

The play was reminiscent of one in the second week at Tennessee that resulted in a Polamalu sack of Titans quarterback Kerry Collins.

Dick LeBeau, the Steelers’ defensive coordinator, noted that Polamalu did not sack McCoy, who managed to get off a pass that fell incomplete.

“We prefer that he not go that far off the diving board,” LeBeau said.

Polamalu knows his freedom to roam has its limits. “When you do go a little bit off the map, you have to make sure you make the play,” he said. “If you don’t, it’s your fault.”

The Steelers’ rubber match this week against Baltimore — the teams split their regular season games — features two of the league’s best defensive backs in Polamalu, a six-time Pro Bowl pick, and the Ravens’ Ed Reed, who had an N.F.L.-leading eight interceptions in 10 games.

Both are deserving candidates of the league’s defensive player of the year award, though, naturally, that is not the way Polamalu sees it. “I think I’d rather go with him,” Polamalu said, “given that he’s played in five games and has like 22 interceptions.”

The quotation was pure Polamalu. If he is overstating someone’s abilities, you know he’s not talking about himself.

Against the Ravens in the 2009 A.F.C. championship game, Polamalu stepped in front of a Joe Flacco pass intended for Derrick Mason and returned the ball 40 yards for the score that gave the Steelers a cushion at 23-14. Players from both teams — Harrison and the Ravens’ Terrell Suggs quickly come to mind — have been vocal about how deep the rancor runs in this rivalry.

Polamalu said: “I don’t feel that way. There are things that are deeper than football rivalries to me.”

Polamalu was asked if he wished he could use his pulpit to address subjects other than football. “I’d rather not talk at all, to be honest with you,” he said.

Much has been made of Polamalu’s dual persona. Receiver Hines Ward described him Wednesday as “Clark Kent who goes into his phone booth on Sundays and comes out Superman.”

Off the field one sees the same dichotomy. Around the news media, Polamalu comes out of his shell and turns into the Jim Lehrer of the N.F.L. The least likely player to court the cameras is Polamalu, the Steelers’ most contemplative speaker.

After the Cleveland game, Polamalu was the last player to leave the visiting locker room. He emptied the contents of his locker into a black knapsack, fingering some of the items as if seeing them for the first time.

In the back of his locker was an 8-by-10 photo of Elder Ephraim with chin hair longer and fuller than the Rip Van Winkle beard that Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel has been growing all season. Polamalu slid the picture into a manila envelope, then carefully tucked it into his bag.

He kissed the three-inch framed photos of the Virgin Mary and Jesus, then crossed himself, repeating the sequence several times before tucking them into his backpack.

On his way out, Polamalu was stopped by a radio reporter. As a team official anxiously shouted into his cellphone, “Hold the Cranberry bus for Troy,” Polamalu serenely sat for a five-minute interview.

“At times when we need a little guidance, he’s the guy we go to,” Harrison said, adding, “Troy’s a lot deeper than a lot of people who actually preach the word.”

At the monastery in southern Arizona, the monks practice joyful mourning. Led by Polamalu, the Steelers engage daily in cheerful discomfort. They suffer together with the goal of celebrating as one on the first Sunday in February.

original post can be found here.

Welcome Ephraim Polamalu!

I wanted to share the wonderful news that Troy and Theodora Polamalu welcomed a second son into their family. Troy stated, “Today the Steeler Nation has acquired a new citizen. Theodora, Paisios, and I welcome Ephraim Polamalu. Boy born 5:01 AM this morning.”

Welcome baby Ephraim!

What a blessing for the Polamalu family, may they continue to reap the spiritual fruits of what they’ve sown. Their family is such a wonderful example of Orthodox living in a secular world.

Also, I recently read another great interview by Troy on the blog Mystagogy. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
By Jerry DiPaola
September 19, 2010

Steelers safety Troy Polamalu said his quest for religious guidance was an attempt to find true meaning in his life.

“I wasn’t satisfied with what my idea of faith was,” said Polamalu, 29, who said he felt blessed to be exposed to Catholic, Mormon and Protestant churches as a child in Oregon. “I went to church. Some days I would feel the music, I’d feel the sermon; some days I wouldn’t. Sometimes, I would be crying. Sometimes, I would be dead and bored.

“That emotional experience was a very shallow experience. I wanted something that would touch my heart, not my emotions.”

Polamalu started reading about religions and their history. He met with monks, even finding a Buddhist who lived in the desert in California.

“I was on a quest to find the truth,” he said.

He chose Greek Orthodox and was baptized four years ago.

“The only church that I can say really never swayed was the Orthodox church,” he said.

Polamalu found the truth on Mount Athos, a peninsula in Greece where he spent four days living with monks in a monastery.

Enormous, old castles dot the seashores and mountain slopes of Greece, and male monks — no women are permitted on the peninsula — live a life of confinement, prayer, asceticism and contemplation. Many monks live in caves, as they have for thousands of years.

“You’re talking 1,500 years of tradition that has been passed down and unblemished,” said Polamalu, who acquired a small, wooden cross on Mt. Athos that he wears around his neck at all times.

Polamalu is almost insulted when someone expresses amazement at how seriously he embraces his faith.

“We’re talking about faith. We’re talking about God,” he said. “How can you not take that seriously? We’re talking about the meaning of life, really.”

Polamalu is careful not to push his beliefs onto others.

“It can lead to resentment, and that is not what you want,” he said. “There is also a sense of arrogance sometimes when people are really hearty, evangelizers, and that is opposite of what faith is. Like, ‘I know this better than you.’ There are a lot of pitfalls to that.”

Asked if it’s proper to pray for victory or a game free of injury, Polamalu said: “That’s for God to judge.”

But he adds: “It’s not about winning games. It’s about winning your soul.”

Tackling Poverty with the Polamalu’s

Many of you may remember hearing a few months back that Theodora Polamalu joined the board of directors at FOCUS North America. Well, recently the Polamalu family teamed up with FOCUS to organize a program called Tackling Poverty with the Polamalu’s (cute huh?).

For those of you who have never heard of FOCUS, their mission is to serve, support and supply those in need with food, occupation, clothing, understanding and shelter.

Serve those in need, by providing aid through our programs and partners,

Support Orthodox Christian social action ministries, agencies, professionals, and volunteers; and

Supply parishes and others with the education, resources and training needed to initiate social action ministries in their own communities.

Tackle Poverty with Troy & Theodora Polamalu


Troy and I are asking if you will help us tackle poverty this Lent by joining the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve (FOCUS) North America. By joining with us, you will help those in need-the poor, the sick and the suffering. Join us also in prayer this Lent for those who have no one to turn to and no one to pray for them.

Won’t you join us in tackling poverty today through FOCUS North America?

Thank you for your generosity.

In Christ,



Troy & Theodora Polamalu

Troy (Two-time Super Bowl Champion) and Theodora (Member of the FOCUS North America Board of Directors) are tackling poverty with FOCUS North America

Go to the FOCUS site to find out how you can help!

Listen to their interview on Ancient Faith Radio here

Follow FOCUS on Twitter by clicking here!

Troy Polamalu Came to Visit Us!

What time is it? Football time!!

LOL. I sound like such a sports buff don’t I? Well, it’s football time again and anyone who knows me is probably wondering how I even know that. {hee-hee} It’s time to start rooting for my favorite NFL player, Troy Polamalu! He even made a guest appearance at our house yesterday!

What? You don’t believe me? See for yourself then!

First we chatted over tea and petit fours (lenten, of course). I was very disappointed that Theodora couldn’t make it because I was really looking forward to comparing Orthodox mom notes with her and meeting her precious little Paisios. I did, however, send her my recipe for the petit fours.

And just in case you’re wondering, no, he didn’t mind that his teacup was chipped and the pot was missing its handle…

Then Troy checked out Adventures of an Orthodox Mom and gave me a few pointers. He particularly loved the quote by Elder Ephraim.

Then he graciously posed for a photo with the boys! He did take a nasty fall right after this photo but luckily, he suffered no injuries.

What a lovely afternoon we had! He was also kind enough to let me interview him before he left. You could read all about it here.

Awesome Troy Polamalu Interview Video

I hope everyone had a Happy Valentine’s Day! More on Ace’s V-day party tomorrow. We’re out of town this weekend.

Just wanted to share this incredible interview of yours and my favorite NFL player. 😉


Troy Polamalu’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Interview

Elenie from Orthodox Christian Education sent me the link to this awesome interview with Troy Polamalu. I’m really going to start keeping tabs on him and his journey in Orthodoxy!

Orthodox glad to claim Polamalu as one of their own

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Most NFL fans are familiar with the sight of Steelers safety Troy Polamalu crossing himself during games, but one subset of fans is gleefully aware that he crosses himself from right to left, rather than left to right.

“Each time there is an important play, he makes his cross the Orthodox way. Nobody else does this, and it is a beautiful thing,” said Metropolitan Maximos, of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Pittsburgh, who officiated at the wedding of Troy and Theodora Polamalu four years ago.

Mr. Polamalu, an ethnic Samoan, long has had a strong Christian faith, but was non-denominational until he joined his wife’s Greek Orthodox church. The metropolitan is quick to note that Orthodox enthusiasm for Mr. Polamalu isn’t intended to denigrate any other branch of Christianity.

“I’m very proud of him. But, to be honest, I don’t care if his background is Roman Catholic or Greek Orthodox or any of the Protestant communities, as long as the guy is a faithful person. And Polamalu is that, and his wife is as well,” he said.

When football doesn’t allow the Polamalus to worship together on Sundays, they make weekday visits to the Monastery of the Nativity of the Mother of God in Saxonburg. Their infant son was baptized there. But the nuns won’t be watching him play in the Super Bowl, Metropolitan Maximos said, because they don’t watch anything on television that isn’t religious. **EDITOR’S NOTE: Most monastics don’t own televisions and therefore do not watch anything at all, religious or otherwise.

Orthodoxy and Catholicism — which split in 1054 over issues of church authority — have a different ethos. The monks of Saint Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe, the Catholic monastery on the college campus where the Steelers practice, are unabashed fans. One monk, now deceased, went into earlier playoffs with a gold “7” on his black habit and called himself “Big Ben-edictine.”

Saint Vincent Archabbot Douglas Nowicki said Mr. Polamalu prays in their basilica during training camp and is close to the monks.

“He’s Orthodox, but I think he embodies that spirit of selflessness and humility, and is so well-grounded in who he is, that people of every faith relate to him. There is something deeply spiritual about him that all of us experience in being with him,” he said.

But for the Orthodox, he’s something special, said Damian George, the youth director at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Oakland.

When teens attend national Orthodox conferences, “the kids from Pittsburgh kind of brag about Troy, not only that he’s a Steeler, but that he’s Orthodox. And even the kids from Philly and New York get excited about it. He gives them a good role model because he’s able to play at a high level and keep his faith at an equally high level,” he said.

Orthodoxy has no tradition of celebrities who testify to their faith, said the Rev. Thomas Soroka, pastor of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKees Rocks. There are lists of celebrities who have belonged to the church, including Tina Fey and Tom Hanks. But none are considered exemplars of Orthodox spirituality. Current online discussions of an Orthodox celebrity that don’t involve Mr. Polamalu tend to bewail the conduct of Rod Blagojevich, who was removed as Illinois governor last week after a four-day impeachment trial.

“A lot of times when people are Orthodox, it’s more of an ethnic or cultural thing. Troy stands above that by being a practicing, committed Orthodox Christian,” Father Soroka said.

“Orthodoxy is quite sober. It’s not flashy or attractive to those who are looking for stardom. It’s much more introspective, and I think Troy embodies that.”

But it helps that Mr. Polamalu is cool and handsome, with Samoan warrior hair that hasn’t been cut in seven years. His plays appear to defy the laws of physics.

“Being faithful and devout isn’t always cool. So it’s great when you can point to Troy Polamalu and say, ‘Look, faith isn’t stupid. It’s something really special,’ ” said James Purdie, 26, a subdeacon at St. George Cathedral.

“Seeing him crossing himself after a play, or praying on the sidelines, it’s a way of witnessing that your faith can be incorporated into your everyday life.”

Mr. Purdie saw the Polamalus at a lecture at Duquesne University by Orthodox theologian Bishop Kallistos Ware.

“A lot of the younger folks went up to him afterward and were asking him questions — theological questions as well as football questions. His answers showed that he was knowledgeable in his faith. And it was nice to see his humility. He was very approachable,” Mr. Purdie said.

One Orthodox leader who does not tell stories about the Polamalus is their pastor, the Rev. John Touloumes at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, North Side. He wants to respect the family’s privacy. But he will say that Mr. Polamalu has steeped himself in the Orthodox faith.

“Troy has received the faith with great dedication and great enthusiasm in his personal life. He does share it on the field with others when he believes it is his calling to do that. And he shows it through his life, through his humility and his good works,” he said.

“He has a particular love for the younger people and they have responded very warmly to his gentle personality, his athletic talents and his deep faith.”

The Rev. Patrick Carpenter, pastor of St. Mary’s Orthodox Church, South Side, joined a Troy Polamalu fan group on Facebook and took part in its “Steelers prayer wave.” But he won’t pray for a Steelers win.

“We don’t pray for victories. We don’t pray for defeats. We pray for the safety of the team.”

Of course, Mr. Polamalu is the safety of the team.

Click here for the original link to this interview on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.