Tackle of All Trades

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), December 19, 2010 | Go to article overview

Tackle of All Trades


Byline: Adam Jude The Register-Guard

As long as someone's oven doesn't catch fire, or a clogged sink doesn't overflow in one of the 207 apartments they manage, Christmas at the Aspers will be extra special this season.

Mark Asper, Oregon's jolly right tackle, and his wife, Michelle, received an early holiday gift when their second daughter was born Dec. 8, four days after the Oregon football team defeated Oregon State and clinched its first berth to the BCS National Championship game.

Maci Lova Asper weighed 8 pounds, 15 ounces, and she had an immediate No. 1 fan in big sister Makayla, who turns 2 on Jan. 16. During a photo shoot at their home the other day, sitting in front of their Christmas tree, Makayla playfully pointed out Maci's nose and belly button as Mark held the sleeping baby.

Because of the Ducks' hectic travel schedule for bowl games the past few years, the Aspers haven't been able to spend the holiday in Eugene. They've celebrated Christmas Day at an airport en route to El Paso, Texas' Sun Bowl, or in a car en route to Southern California for the Holiday and Rose bowls.

"Usually we spend Christmas in a hotel, or traveling ... or both," Michelle said.

This year, they're home for the holidays, and happier than ever.

One of the benefits of playing in the championship game - where the Ducks meet Auburn on Jan. 10 in Glendale, Ariz. - is that the team won't travel until after New Year's. And with classes completed, Mark has had extra time in the past week and a half to enjoy his growing family.

The team's success has also created some newfound notoriety for the Aspers among the tenants of the West Eugene apartment complex they've managed the past two years.

"My bathroom sink exploded Saturday," one resident told Mark recently, "but I knew you were gone (at a game), and I didn't want to bother Michelle."

Mark and Michelle still have regular maintenance duties and perform weekly apartment inspections. In the summer, Mark cleans the pools and often breaks up noisy parties, but it's altogether a good gig, they say.

"They're great," Mark said of the tenants. "They're all Duck fans, as far as I know."

Would they dare tell their 6-foot-7, 322-pound manager otherwise?

The 25-year-old Asper, a redshirt junior, is Oregon's oldest and biggest starter on offense, and during offseason conditioning earlier this year he lifted a team-high 1,229 pounds combined in the clean, squat and bench press.

Off the field, however, he might be the team's least-intimidating personality.

"Mark's a light-hearted guy," said left guard Carson York, a redshirt sophomore. "I've only seen him get mad like three times since I've been here."

At Bonneville High in Idaho Falls, Idaho, Asper was part of a team that won a ballroom dance national championship. He sings Disney songs in the locker room. He's fluent in Spanish, having spent two years in Spain for his religious mission. He is the only college football player to major in that language, according to a study conducted by the Wall Street Journal earlier this year.

He already has two undergraduate degrees, in Spanish and sociology, and is taking graduate classes in educational methodology, policy and leadership program, with an eye on a career as a teacher and a coach. …

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