Amber Mariano

Tagging every yard of UCF’s undefeated season

UCFplate-logo.pngA group of Florida lawmakers, including one pursing a specialty license plate for his own alma mater, want the state’s motor vehicle agency to be the latest to proclaim the University of Central Florida undefeated Knights as college football’s “national champion.”

State Reps. James Grant, R-Tampa, Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, Amber Mariano, R-Hudson, and Chris Latvala, R-Clearwater, are pushing a proposal (HB 1359) that would add “UCF National Champions” license plate to the more than 130 specialty tags already available from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

“A UCF license plate is the perfect way to commemorate our undefeated Knights for achieving this historic milestone,” Guillermo Smith said in a press release.

Guillermo Smith, Latvala and Mariano are UCF alumni.

“We can argue statistics and strength of schedules, but you can’t argue a perfect, undefeated season,” Mariano said in the release. “We are the true College Football National Champions, and our season made a big statement to the CFP that their current system is not working. I am so proud to be an Alumna from the best University in the world! Go Knights and Charge on!”

The measure would also revamp the specialty license program, an annual exercise in the state Legislature, by capping the number of different designs available at one time to 125 and to boost the required number of pre-order plates from 1,000 to 3,000 for a new tag to be allowed on the road.

The proposal also would make an Auburn University license plate — along with tags for Florida Lineman, Florida State Beekeepers Association, Rotary, Beat Childhood Cancer, Florida Bay Forever and Bonefish and Tarpon Trust — available for pre-order.

Grant, who along with Tallahassee public-relations guru Kevin Cate, have been working to get Florida to offer the Auburn University plate.

“Nobody wanted Auburn to beat UCF more than me,” Grant, an Auburn University grad, said in the press release. “However, UCF beat the team who beat the team also claiming to be national champions — Alabama — a team with a long history of making up national championships.”

Cate’s CateComm and Sean Hartman of Orlando designed the pseudo national champion plate.

Gov. Rick Scott on Jan. 8 signed a proclamation declaring UCF national champions following their 34-27 victory over Auburn in the Peach Bowl.

As with Scott’s proclamation, those pitching the Knights as national camps point to Auburn having defeated the Georgia Bulldogs and Alabama Crimson Tide. Alabama topped Georgia to conclude the NCAA’s four-team playoff invitational.

UCF finished sixth in the Associated Press’s final poll of the season.

By Jim Turner.

Being in the Legislature really cuts down on college fun

16906979_1917457831811450_6226071917556662272_a“I Got Rejected From Harvard. Then I Won a State Election.”

That’s the catchy headline on a chatty piece in Cosmopolitan mag by Florida state Rep. Amber Mariano, as told to Tess Koman.

The Hudson Republican talks about her decision to run for office, what it was like to win a state House contest at the tender age of 21 (while she was a student at the University of Central Florida) and being a millennial — without using the word — and a politician at the same time (spoiler alert: You have to trash your social media accounts and can’t hang out at bars with your buds).

“I can’t just like post a selfie anymore, which is super annoying. When I first got elected, I had a personal Instagram, then I had a private one, then I also had a campaign one. But I realized really there’s no private anymore anyway. I was like, ‘Well, I have 100 followers on my campaign one and 1,000 on my personal one. So I should probably just make my personal one my representative one and delete the other one.’ I try and post some things, but I can’t just post a picture of me and my friends having a drink. I posted a picture of me hiking this summer.”

Mariano, who turns 22 on Wednesday, also shares what it was like to campaign for office when you’re too young to belly up to the bar.

I turned 21 about two weeks before the election, so for most of the campaign I couldn’t even drink. And I look really young, especially when I’m campaigning and my hair’s up, I have no makeup on, and I’m sweating. That was tough because I’d knock on people’s doors and they’d be like, “How old are you? Thirteen?” And I’d be like “Uh, no?” But once someone would hear me talk, they’d be like, “Oh, OK, I’m not worried about her being young.” People were encouraged and excited because, obviously, with Trump’s election, they wanted something new and different than what they’re used to seeing, so for them, I fit that bill.

And she reveals that she was “star-struck” when she got an election-night call from U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

I don’t think anything will ever top that night. I was crying the entire time because, what the heck, I just became the youngest person to ever be elected to the Florida House. I got a phone call from the governor congratulating me and then a few minutes later, I got a call from who I thought was Marco Rubio’s staff director, but it was actually Marco himself. I think he said he’s proud of me, but I was too star-struck to remember. My sister took a Snapchat of me after we hung up: I was on the ground uncontrollably sobbing I was so happy.

Being the youngest state legislator while trying to finish up your college degree isn’t such a picnic because Mariano said she “can’t be seen at one of those bars” where her pals hang out.

Since being elected, I really haven’t had a college life. I finished up my final semester during the first week of June, which was really tough because I was trying to write papers while I was trying to write my bills, so this past spring semester, I only went [to school] part-time and I took online classes while I was in Tallahassee. A lot of my friends are turning 21, and at UCF you go to the local college bar and you do all these dares and you have a little party to celebrate. I haven’t really been able to go to any of my friends’ birthdays, because I really can’t be seen at one of those bars, but honestly, I really don’t like that scene anyway.

Read the full story here.

By Jim Turner and Dara Kam