Friday, March 30, 2007

Charitible Work by the Chicago Shamrox

Chicago Shamrox rookie Bill McGlone played last Saturday's National Lacrosse League game against the Philadelphia Lynx for free. He donated his game check to the Headstrong Foundation, an organization that helps fund cancer research, in memory of his former college teammate Nick Colleluori.

“I am donating my salary for the Philadelphia game on Saturday to the Headstrong Foundation on behalf of Nick,” McGlone said. “Even at the end of his remarkable life, Nick was more concerned with everyone else and how they were feeling. I hope that this donation will keep the story of Nick’s memory and what a great person he was.”

The Shamrox organization then donated $5 from tickets for their game with the New York Titans went to the New York Police & Fire Widows’ & Childrens’ Fund.

Click here to read the Inside Lacrosse story "Chicago's McGlone to donate game's salary."

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Inkster Balances Family and Demands of the Road

One of the more difficult aspects of being a professional golfer is the travel--nearly every tournament is a "road game." It's even tougher when your a wife and a mommy, but Julie Inkster has managed to keep a strong focus on her family while winning seven majors among her 31 career tournament championships.

"My parents didn't have a lot of golf influence on me. Their greatest influence was I learned how to raise kids and live my life," Inkster says over the phone from her Los Altos, Calif., ranch home, where a basketball hoop stands in the driveway and a golf net rests next to the pool. "I love my job, but my family has always been No. 1."

In the professional sports world, the phrase "I've got to take care of my family," is often used as justification for a contract holdout. It's refreshing to see an athlete still near the top of her game who truly wants to take care of her family.

Click here to read the USA Today article, "Family support keeps Inkster on top."

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

LaRon Harris Trying to Bounce Back From His Mistakes

LaRon Harris' football career has been moving in reverse. After high school, he landed a scholarship to Tennessee, then flunked out of school and wound up at Northwestern Oklahoma, an NAIA school. Nothing against Northwestern Oklahoma, but that's not where you want to wind up if you harbor dreams of playing in the NFL.

Remarkably, Harris may still wind up being selected in next month's NFL draft. After working hard to manage his weight and his anger issues stemming from a broken home, he recently wowed scouts in a workout and perhaps landed on a few draft boards.

Click here to read the feature "Just trying to make a name for himself," to see how Harris allowed opportunity to slip away and what got him turned around to reclaim it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

MLB Honors Contributors to Both Baseball and Civil Rights

From the website:

Major League Baseball could mount a "Thanks a million, Buck" campaign. To do so, it would have to stand in line behind the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, which beat everyone else in paying tribute to its late chairman.

But Buck O'Neil will soon get his due.

On Saturday, Major League Baseball will pay homage to Buck for his contributions to America's national pastime. He will be one of three recipients of its inaugural Beacon Award in Memphis, Tenn.

Commissioner Bud Selig, NAACP chairman Julian Bond and a star-studded lineup of baseball and political dignitaries will present Beacons to Buck, filmmaker Spike Lee and Vera Clemente, the widow of Hall of Fame right fielder Roberto Clemente.

The award honors people's contributions to civil rights and reflects their historical ties to baseball. People who knew Buck said he contributed as much as anybody else in history to both.

Click here to read the story, "O'Neil to receive Beacon Award."

Monday, March 26, 2007

Portland Sea Dogs Give Back to the Community

It particular instance, the Portland (ME) Sea Dogs, the Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, is literally giving something to the town--a bronze monument.

The monument, which stands nine feet high and measures 11 feet long by four feet wide, depicts a family attending a baseball game including a father figure holding tickets to the game, a male child dressed ready to cheer for the Sea Dogs, and a mother figure carrying a small female child.

The American Baseball Family Group is a gift to the City of Portland from Daniel Burke, the Owner of the Portland Sea Dogs, to thank the community for its outstanding support through the years.

Click here to read "Sea Dogs to present monument to city" on the official minor league baseball web site.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Major Leaguers Share Their Faith on Film

A new film, "Champions of Faith: Baseball Edition," is being premiered in Phoenix today.

According to a preview, “these superstars of America's favorite pastime speak frankly about family, faith, sacrifice, leadership, humility and the many virtues and spiritual lessons they have learned from the game.”

Including within the movie will be high-definition game highlights alongside the players’ testimonies, which will allow viewers to see the public and personal lives of the subjects and how God has affected those.

Nearly 30 MLB stars and coaches have contributed to the film. Some of the most noteworthy figures include Mike Piazza, Sean Casey, David Eckstein, Jeff Suppan, Craig Biggio, Juan Pierre, Tom Glavine, Mike Sweeney, Jack McKeon, Ivan Rodriguez, Jim Leyland, Mike Scioscia, Sandy Alomar Sr., Rich Donnelly, and Darrell Miller, among others.

Click here to read more about the film in the Christian Post article, "Major League Baseball Stars Put Faith in the Spotlight."

Here is the official site for "Champions of Faith."

Friday, March 23, 2007

The NBA's All-Undrafted Team 1990-2006

To demonstrate that there is hope for the undrafted, Empty the Bench has compiled an "All-Undrafted Team" going back to 1990. I'm linking to it here because there are several stories on this list of players who ultimately achieved success in the NBA because of their hard work and perseverence. Players like 5'5" Earl Boynkins, defensive ace Bruce Bowen and Ben Wallace, an unkown center with big hair who played at Virginia Union college are positive examples of how work ethic and determination can still lead a person to realize their dreams.

Click here to read "The NBA's All-Undrafted Team 1990-2006" from the website Empty the Bench.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Wade Will Remodel Gym at Old High School

The Miami Heat's Dwayne Wade continues to add to his reputation as one of the good guys in professional sports. Most recently, he announced plans to remodel the gym at his old high school, Richards High in Oak Lawn, IL, a suburb of Chicago.

Wade had some help at the pep rally at the school when he made the announcement--singer/actress Jennifer Hudson and singer Kayne West joined him for the festivities. It's nice to hang out with talented people, isn't it?

Click here to read the article, "Wade to remodel old high school gym."

Thanks to Hoops Addict for the tip.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Robinson Impressed by MLB's Urban Youth Academy

Baseball Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, along with former Orioles' teammate Don Buford, recently toured the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy in Compton, CA and liked what he saw.

"I'm very impressed with the facility and the setup here," Robinson said after touring the fields and checking out the locker rooms and educational facilities. "It incorporates just about everything to do with baseball -- softball, youth-league themes. There are regular fields here and the setup is very workable, where it doesn't take you a lot of time to get to where you need to go here. I'm very impressed by it, and this is something that has been long overdue.

"Your mind races forward when you look at this and just think, 10 years from, 15 years from now -- what this will mean to this area. ... The kids who will be coming through here and the opportunity to give them instruction on how to play the game correctly and also preparing them on how to go on to college? I was also taken by the fact that they have umpire instruction, ground crew instruction and that was very impressive," Robinson said.

The folks at the Compton facility will likely be seeing a lot of Robinson, a Los Angeles resident, in his new role as a special advisor to the MLB executive vice president of operations Jimmie Lee Solomon.

Click here to read more about the Compton facility and Major League Baseball's efforts to bring the game to underpriveleged communities in this article from MLB's official site, "Robinson awed by Youth Academy."

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Tennis Star Vaidisova Helping Provide Clean Water for Africa

Nicole Vaidisova, one of the Top 10 women's tennis players in the world, has joined on as an ambassador for PlayPumps International, a non-profit that is bringing water to millions of African children and families, as World Water Day approaches on March 22.

"When I heard that more than a billion people in the world lack access to clean drinking water, and every 15 seconds a kid dies from diseases related to unsafe water, I wanted to get involved," Vaidisova said. "The idea behind the PlayPump is simple: kids play, and water pumps. These special pumps give clean water to people who need it, and give kids a chance to play."

Click here to read more about PlayPumps and how Vaidisova is working with them to help those much less fortunate in Africa have access to one of the most basic needs people have, clean drinking water, in the articla on the WTA site, "Vaidisova Serves Up Clean Water for Kids."

Monday, March 19, 2007

Pro Lacrosse Team Helps Fight Child Abuse

The Portland Lumberjax, a member of the professional indoor National Lacrosse League, are teaming up with the Children's Trusts Fund of Oregon and Dark Horse Comics (a major comic publisher) to create a comic book intended to help raise awareness regarding the prevention of child abuse.

The story features Jax transition player Adam Bysouth, defenseman Brodie Merrill and goalie Dallas Eliuk discussing the issue of child abuse which affects over 900,000 children every year.

"This opportunity was appealing to the LumberJax, because not only are we able to partner with two reputable organizations, but it is a unique and creative way to raise awareness about this nationwide issue," Bysouth explained.

The plans are for 20,000 copies of the comic book to be distributed across the state.

Click here to reat the story on the NLL's offical website: "Lumberjax Battle Child Abuse."

Sunday, March 18, 2007

NBDL's Idaho Stampede Steps Up to Help Out an Ailing Veteran

Wendi Armstrong returned to Idaho from her third military tour in the Middle East in 2005.

Two years later, the 32-year-old Idaho Air National Guard veteran rarely has the energy to venture out of her home.

Even on good days, Armstrong walks with a pronounced limp and on bad days she must use a wheelchair.

Doctors have told her she may eventually need a wheelchair full time.

The good news part of this story started when the Idaho Stampede basketball team, a member of the NBA's Developmental League, stepped in.

They partnered with the Associated General Contractors and U.S. Bank to pay for a $45,000 remodel as part of their Operation Opening Doors program, Stampede Managing Investor Bill Ilett said.

The program helps wounded and ill military members and last year paid for new flooring for an Eagle Marine reservist paralyzed in a roadside bomb attack.

Click here to read the Idaho Stateman's article, "Team remodels house for ailing veteran."

Thanks to the NBDL official site for the tip.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

NFL Completes 2007 USO Tour

It may not have been Bob Hope at Christmas, but the NFL continued a tradition going back more than 40 years by sending players overseas to visit U. S. troops. The contingent consisted of the league's Director or Community Affairs David Krichavsky, Atlanta tight end Alge Crumpler, Tampa Bay linebacker Shelton Quarles, Kansas City guard Will Shields, and New England tight end Ben Watson.

Krichavsky wrote an extensive diary about the trip for the website. Click here to check it out.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Kainer Trying to Beat the Odds

Cincinnati Reds outfield prospect Carson Kainer has a chance to eventually make major league history, albeit in a manner not of his choosing. If he eventually makes the major league roster (he's in his first year with the organizaiton after being the co-MVP at the University of Texas last season), Kainer would be the first big leaguer who has undergone a kidney transplant.

The 22-year old Kainer had the surgery on September 12 and, while he is given the option to opt out of a drill during spring training camp, he is working as or near full speed.

"We feel like there's no reason, once he gets his legs under him a little bit, he can't compete and do a good job here as a professional athlete," said Grant Griesser, the Reds assistant director of player development.

Click here to read the article on the official site of Minor League Baseball, "Kainer overcoming adversity."

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Andrea Jaeger Goes From Tennis Serves to Serving God

There are countless paths athletes take once their playing days are over, but the one former tennis prodigy Andrea Jaegar chose is truly unique. A few months ago, Jaeger became a Dominican nun.

That particular order does not require nuns to live in a convent. Instead, Jaeger lives in a ranch outside Durango, Colorado--the headquarters of the Little Star Foundation, a non-profit venture she founded in 1990 to help sick kids.

Click here to read about what motivated Jaegar to follow this different path in the Christian Post article, "Former Tennis Star Goes From Serving Aces to Serving God."

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Ed Hearn: Looking For the Good

If you are a baseball fan, you surely remember pitcher David Cone, who was a star from the late 1980's through tne 1990's who spent most of his career with the New York Mets and the New York Yankees.

You probably don't remember the player the Mets traded to the Kansas City Royals to acquire Cone. His name is Ed Hearn, a catcher who wasn't a star--on the field.

Since walking away from baseball in 1991, Hearn has endured three kidney transplant operations and the accompanying physical and psychological suffering. Rather than wallow in misery, though, he has stepped out and become a life-changing motivational speaker. Hearn shares his story, both the upside and downside, and has a way of deeply moving people.

"This is bigger than baseball to me," Hearn says. "It's provided a sense of purpose I never had before -- not as a catcher, not as a father or husband. It has given meaning to all that I went through. Otherwise, all that suffering would have been in vain."

Click here to read Jeff Pearlman's feature, "The Royals' worst--and best--trade."

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Integrity on the PGA Tour

Joe Durant is a professional golfer that a lot of people don't know. After you read this, you'll probably agree with me that we should all know him.

Like many professional athletes, Durant’s generosity is not limited to his own community. Last year when Durant placed sixth in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, he donated his entire winnings, $248,000, toward Hurricane Katrina Relief.

While many professional athletes make the headlines for their inappropriate behavior, there are many more professional athletes who are guided by their faith and who consistently live according to strong moral, ethical, and family values. Whether on tour or at home, Joe Durant is one of those down-to-earth guys who represents the world of sports with class, character and integrity.

Click here to read the Ethics Daily article: "Integrity on Tour and Beyond."

Thursday, March 8, 2007

From the Battlefield to the Baseball Field

Cooper Brennan get choked up when he arrived at the San Diego Padres' traning camp and saw a uniform with his name on the back.

"I still can't believe it," Brannan says. "Look at this. They gave me a jersey with my name on it. Just seeing the uniform, the number, being in the same organization as (four-time Cy Young winner) Greg Maddux. I'm living a dream.

"How can you not get emotional?"

Fifteen months ago Brannan was fighting a war in Iraq. He was on the front line as a corporal and infantry team leader for the U.S. Marine Corps. He lost count of the number of friends who left Iraq in body bags and were dismembered in combat.

Brennan will be in the low minors this year, but considering where he's come from, I'm pretty sure he won't mind.

Click here to read more in the USA Today story, "Marine begins new fight."

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Penguins' Laraque: Tough On the Ice, Good Guy Off

Pittsburgh Penguins' winger Georges Laraque has the size (6'3", 250 pounds) and ethnicity (black) more befitting a Steelers player than one who make a living on the ice. His intimidating presence in uniform is the opposite of his personality the rest of the time.

While playing for the Edmonton Oilers, the Montreal native won that organization's community service award three times, and he hasn't changed a bit since arriving in the Steel City.

I'm a Christian, and I thank God for giving me the chance to be in the NHL and the way of thanking Him is not just by saying it but acting it," Laraque said. "We have a lot of power as athletes in the community and why not take advantage of the fact that by seeing one kid that's sick, you can make his day. That's what drives me, that's what pushes me to be a better person. I just love doing that stuff."

Now folks, THAT's a role model. Click here to read more about this special man in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article, "Pens' Laraque tough as nails on ice."

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Lester Bouncing Back From Lymphoma

Jon Lester, a pitcher with the Boston Red Sox, made an immediate splash in his rookie season last year, winning his first five decisions for Boston. Soon thereafter, however, he was diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma and began chemotherapy treatment.

Lester is now cancer free and working his way back into the rotation. He took the mound for the first time in a "B" game on Monday and his comeback appears to be on track.

Click here to read the story, "Lester OK in first game after cancer treatments."

Monday, March 5, 2007

Braves' Escobar Reunites With Father

Three years ago, Atlanta Braves shortstop prospect Yunel Escobar escaped from Cuba on a small, crowded boat with the dream of playing major league baseball in the United States. On Saturday, his father saw him in uniform for the first time. Escobar's father and sister arrived in the U. S. in January, but they are still missing one important family member.

Click here to read more about Escobar's journey from Cuba to the cusp of a major league career and how he is working to help his family in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution article, "Emotional day for Cuban player: Braves' Escobar makes father proud."

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Spurs' Finley Happy to Give Time To Sick Kids

Instead of staying home and resting after a hectic road trip, Michael Finley of the San Antonio Spurs kept his committment to visit a San Antonio Ronald McDonald House.

Afterwards, Finley said:

“My visit is important for this organization and for me,” Finley said. “It makes me realize how blessed I am as a role model and an athlete. It’s a great opportunity to be a ray of sunshine for these kids.”

Click here to read "Finley Brings Smiles To Ronald McDonald House" from the Spurs' official website.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Dropping Down Picks Sillman's Career Up

Mike Sillman was, by his own description, "just another right-handed guy in the bullpen" at the University of Nebraska. His coaches suggested he try dropping down and throwing sidearm but there was a catch; they didn't know how to coach it. Through trial and error, Sillman found a groove that led him to become the closer for the Cornhuskers and get drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals. He'll still be in the minors this year but appears to be on track to reach the majors.

Click here to read more about Sillman's path from Nebraska to the defending World Champions spring training camp in "Dropping down has Sillman looking up" on the Cardinals' official website.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Now THAT'S A Teammate

You hear about teammates having each other's backs, but here's a story about one who had not only his former teammate's back but also his kidney.

Ron Springs, a former running back for the Dallas Cowboys, needed a kidney transplant. His son, Shaun Springs, is currently a defensive back for the Washington Redskins and offered to give his father a kidney. Not wanting to jeapordize Shaun's career, Ron turned him down.

That's when Everson Walls, a former defensive back for the Cowboys and teammate of Ron Springs, stepped up and offered one of his. Springs accepted the offer and the surgery was completed today. Please join me in praying for the health of both men, especially Springs.

Click here to read the Associated Press story "Everson Walls donates kidney to ex-teammate Springs." There is a link within that piece to a story by ESPN's Gene Garber that delves deeper into the story of their friendship.