The weekend might be over, but that means it's time for the best and worst in sports last week. Per usual, we'll be highlighting our favorites in the "Standing O" section, and the things that made us shake our heads under "Heck No." If we missed anything you loved or hated, let us know in the comments below or tweet us at @ShesGameSports.
- Jason Collins deserves a big round of applause this week for his courage in coming out via a Sports Illustrated article last Monday. Collins became the first openly gay male athlete in any major professional league in the country, and has seriously become a trailblazer. He has ties to Boston, playing for the Celtics this season before he was traded to the Wizards, but we'd love him even if he was never a Celtic.
- The Bruins organization and Jeff Bauman made our hearts melt Saturday night. I don't know about you, but it got really dusty in my living room when I saw Bauman, who lost both of his legs on Marathon Monday in the bombings, raise a "Boston Strong" flag on the TD Garden ice before an absolutely rocking black and gold crowd. It was an amazing moment we won't soon forget, even if we're trying hard to erase the eventual 4-2 Bruins loss to Toronto that followed. Regardless, we're all rooting for Jeff.
- Dallas Cowboys' tight end Jason Witten showed some serious loyalty when he defended the work ethic of his quarterback, Tony Romo. Team owner Jerry Jones made some public comments insinuating Romo needs to improve his effort. Spending more time at work was part of Romo's new contract, but Witten told ESPN the quarterback has always been very involved in the preparation process. Regardless of whether Romo needs to step it up, it's always good to see teammates backing each other up, even if they are on the Cowboys.
- Oh, Don Cherry. He really should have quit after his first comments regarding female reporters in the locker room...but he didn't. Wednesday night, during Coach's Corner, Cherry continued the charade, saying he's seen things go on in the locker room with women present that are disgusting. "You would not want your daughter or sister in there, believe me," he said. I think, somewhere deep down, he means well. And while we appreciate the concern for our fragile and sensitive dispositions, Don, I think I'd like to decide whether or not locker room antics are too much for me to handle. Spoiler alert: they aren't.
- Justin Blackmon, wide receiver for the Jacksonville Jaguars, nabbed his second substance abuse infraction and will be suspended for the first four games of the 2013 NFL season. Blackmon has been arrested for DUI more than once, and this substance abuse violation marks his third issue involving the police or facing discipline from the NFL. He was placed in the league's substance abuse program, but clearly that wasn't successful. Blackmon apologized via a statement, but we all know actions speak louder than words. Let's see if Blackmon can stay out of trouble this summer.
- I love Twitter as much as the next guy, but there is such a thing as TMI. Apparently, no one ever taught Kobe Bryant that lesson. The Laker is currently involved in a legal battle involving an auction house that got Bryant memorabilia from his mother, apparently without his knowledge. TMZ says all the drama started with the fact that Bryant's family thinks he's doing more for his wife Vanessa's family than his own, and Stiletto Jill pointed out that it seems like Bryant is vaguely tweeting about the matter over on her site. If Kobe really is taking to Twitter to whine about his family problems, it's certainly not a good look.
Jason Fowler is paralyzed from the chest down. A motorcycle accident when he was 17 made it so that his mobility was limited to his arms, but that doesn't stop him from being an elite athlete. Fowler is both a 2009 Ironman World Champion and 2012 70.3 Half Ironman World Champion. Since his accident, he has completed over 150 road races, 30 marathons, and 29 marathons, solely with the use of his arms.
Fowler is just one of the inspiring athletes who’ll be racing in the Hero Triathlon series this summer, supporting veterans and physically disabled competitors.
The Hero Triathlon series includes two races: one on July 21 on Nantucket Island and a second on Sept. 8 in Mashpee on Cape Cod. Both consist of Olympic distance events; an 0.9 mile swim followed by 25-mile bike and a 6.2 mile run. The race in Mashpee is the only Olympic distance race on the Cape, which stages its bike course within the secured grounds of Otis Air Force Base.
The races' co-founders, Jamie Ranney and Bill Burnett, are no strangers to these events. They've been recognized in the triathlon community for building successful events, including the sold out Cohasset Triathlon (June 30) and Nantucket Triathlon (July 20).
Ranney and Burnett met at Ohio Wesleyan University in the early 1990s and their friendship has turned into a strong partnership, translating to building great events.
But the Hero Triathlon series isn't your average race, it's not only centered around supporting veterans, but zeroes in on the fastest growing segment of the veteran population – women. Ranney had the idea for the "hero" concept several years ago, and consulted Burnett's advice before the two took it onto the athletic stage.
“Over the last ten years I’ve competed in dozens of triathlons and I am always so motivated and moved by the aggressive participation of veteran athletes in these events – particularly those vets that have suffered debilitating injuries in the service of our country," Ranney said. "I went to Bill [Burnett] and told him we needed to do something to help these vets capitalize on the challenges, physical benefits and close-camaraderie of the sport of triathlon and to promote awareness and appreciation for all they do for us.”
The races were founded with the goal of aiding those who having served the United States faithfully and with honor and dignity. Veterans need our help when they return home. From physical injuries to the invisible ones regarding mental and emotional health, soldiers deserve all the support they can get.
The 2013 Hero Triathlon will benefit the Women Veterans’ Network (WVN) of Massachusetts and other veteran service organizations making a difference in the lives of veterans and their families. Burnett said he and Ranney are proud to help support WVN.
Others can do their part by participating in the race. Participants have a few options when it comes to entering. An entrant can compete as an individual or as part of a relay team with two or three members each taking a leg of the race. There are also registration options for military and paratriathletes, like Fowler.
Burnett said with the recent tragedies in Boston, he's striving for the triathlon series to mirror the community's strength in hard times.
"Given the events at the Boston Marathon and the victims impacted, we have witnessed some incredible acts of strength and courage," Burnett said. "It is our hope that the Hero Triathlon series will provide a platform for athletes at all levels to achieve their goals, support a good cause, and cheer on athletes are who show some incredible determination."
For more information on the races or to register, visit www.herotri.com.
Tatyana McFadden was all smiles next to Britain’s Prince Harry Sunday as he posed with her during the victory presentation at the London Marathon. McFadden had just won the women’s wheelchair class just six days after she won in the same division in the Boston Marathon.
The win in Boston came just hours before two bombs exploded by the very finish line McFadden crossed. But after what transpired in Boston, the 24-year old paralympian didn’t let fear overcome her bid for more marathon crowns.
"We can’t live our lives in fear," McFadden said. "There are always going to be a few bad people in the world, but the majority are good.
"What we saw in Boston after the marathon — with the community coming together, the incredible medical staff who responded so quickly, and people who were out on the course running to the hospital to give blood —that’s the good in people."
On Monday, Tatyana posted four photo collages on her Facebook, one for each victim of the bombings, with a personalized message on each.
McFadden admitted that she didn’t hear the explosions. She had been in the shower and only found out about it when she got out and saw her family and friends sitting in stunned silence as the replays of the explosions flashed on the television.
McFadden decided to dedicate her London race to the people of Boston.
“Of course, I’m going to have Boston in the back of my mind,” she said. “But, as I told my teammates, my parents and my family, this Sunday we’ll be racing for the people of Boston. I’ll carry them in my heart as I go through the course.”
Considering that there was relatively little rest in the six days between the Boston Marathon and London Marathon, repeating as champion was a remarkable feat. Even more remarkable was her time: 1:46.02, a course record.
Nothing seems nearly as remarkable as her biography. McFadden was born in St. Petersburg with spina bifida, a condition which left her paralyzed from the waist down. If doctors operate quickly after birth, the condition tends to be non-life threatening, but doctors waited 21 days to operate on McFadden, a delay that should have cost McFadden her life. After surgery, McFadden, who was abandoned by her birth parents, lived in an orphanage until she was six. She had to walk on her hands because there wasn’t enough money to supply her with a wheelchair.
McFadden's life changed when her adoptive mother Deborah, a commissioner to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, saw her in the orphanage during an aid trip to Russia and decided to adopt her. A weak McFadden continued to fight for her life when she arrived in the United States grossly underweight and suffering from severe anemia. Doctors thought she would live only a few more months.
But she beat the odds again, and Deborah enrolled her daughter in all kinds of athletic activities to build up Tatyana's strength. She thrived in athletics, and as a 15-year-old, she became the youngest member of the USA track and field team at the Athens Paralympic Games. She shocked the world when she won two medals: one silver (in the 100m) and one bronze (in the 200m).
In April of 2011, the McFaddens returned to the orphanage where Tatyana spent the first six years of her life. The reunion with the staff at the orphanage was emotional for everyone.
"The orphanage had never had a child come back to visit, let alone one they thought would never live," Deborah told Washington Running Report’s David Powell in 2011. "The staff came out to meet her and there she was with muscles to die for.”
"I had no intention of adopting, let alone a 6-year-old paralyzed child, but Tatyana and I had a connection that was nothing short of magical and miraculous," Deborah recalls. "I went back to the hotel that night and couldn't get her off my mind."
Now the world will be thinking of Tatyana as well. In addition to winning the Boston and London marathons, the 23-year-old took home three gold medals at the 2012 London Paralympic Games. When not racing on the international stage, Tatyana works to achieve equality in sports for all athletes, disabled or not.
On Marathon Monday, my daughter Mackenzie and I were on our way out west to look at colleges. I watched a few hours of television coverage in the morning before Mackenzie and I left for Logan airport. I thought to myself, “What a perfect day for a marathon, for both the runners and spectators. Life is good in Boston.”
We arrived at Terminal B with plenty of time to eat lunch at Legal Sea Foods. Watching the coverage again from the restaurant, I told my daughter what a special day this always is for Boston. It was 1:30 p.m. and the winners were in. I saw my former WBZ colleague and friend Steve Burton do a nice interview with American runners Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan. Goucher held her baby son in her arms during the interview, and I thought how impressive it was for someone to get back into elite running form so quickly after becoming a mom.
I watched the credits roll as Channel 4 wrapped up their live coverage with a beautiful musical montage of the day’s race footage. I saw many names scroll by of people I worked with for so many years. I remembered what it took in planning to put together eight hours of live coverage. It takes an army of writers, producers, editors, camera people and reporters to pull it off- both in the field, and back at the station.
The running joke through the years at BZ was that the only way you could get out of working the marathon was to run it.
So I did, in 1999. I finished in 4:20. With that exception, I covered the race every year between 1986 and 2009 either from the women’s lead truck or the finish line.
At 2:00 p.m. last Monday I asked the waiter at Legal Sea Foods for our check. I then texted a friend I knew was still on the course and said I was looking to seeing him on TV. My daughter and I walked to our gate and boarded flight #1779 to Philadelphia where we would connect to Denver.
At 2:30 I turned off my phone when the captain said it was time. Less than an hour later, as we taxied to our gate in Philadelphia I turned my phone back on. I saw a number of texts waiting, including this one from my sister Julie who lives in Boston.
Bombs exploded at the finish line. Many people hurt. Body limbs on the street.
What followed next was a feeling of nausea and panic. I called Julie who told me to get to the terminal and find a TV. I called my friend Mary O’Connor, who traditionally watched the race from outside the Lennox Hotel where her family owns restaurants.
“Everyone is ok," Mary said. “They are evacuating the hotel. We are worried about Mike. “Nobody has heard from him.”
Mike Haggerty and another Hingham friend, Kristi Holden, were fine.
At the airport, people were lined up ten deep in front of television monitors watching CNN. I could not believe what I was seeing.
Mackenzie looked at the aerial photos and asked, “Is that blood on the sidewalk?”
A few minutes later I saw an interview with another good friend, WBZ chief photographer Bryan Foley. He was right there when it happened, his camera rolling and his heart breaking.
Eventually my daughter and I boarded our flight to Denver. I spent three hours on in-flight Internet.
I called my husband when we landed. My oldest daughter, who is a student at Emerson College was not near the explosion. The school went into lockdown. A few students were in the area and were treated for minor injuries.
Meanwhile, Mackenzie and I drove an hour through a blizzard after arriving in Denver. We got to our hotel in Boulder at 1:00 a.m. Eastern time. The monitors on every television at the hotel restaurant were showing footage of what happened in Boston 11 hours earlier.
When I finally put my head to my pillow that night I allowed myself to cry. It wasn’t the kind of crying my daughter sleeping in the next bed could hear. I just needed to cry.
I woke up the next morning 3,000 miles from Boston. We spent the day touring schools and meeting people from all over the country. The first question always asked is, “Where are you from?”
When we replied, “Boston,” every single person said, “I am so sorry.”
As I write this I am flying back to Boston.
My heart breaks for the city I call home. Even though I wasn’t born there, everything about Boston is who I am today.
I watched my first Boston Marathon as a freshman at Boston College, and vowed someday I would run it. Through the years, I worked it. I sat on the lead truck and witnessed some of the best drama in sports. It is the without a doubt one of the greatest spectator events as well. From Hopkinton to Wellesley, to Newton, Brookline, Kenmore Square, right down Hereford to Boylston Street, it is all about the people.
Some fly to the finish line and some stagger. Either way, there is always someone there at the end to cheer them on.
The Boston Marathon represents triumph, agony and the celebration of human spirit.
And now Boston will do what is has done before. We will pray for and support the victims and their families, we will stand up to this horror, we will survive and we will always be strong.
Like the Boston Marathon itself, recovering from this attack is a test of will. In the end, it’s always the heart that wins out.
There is nothing quite like Opening Day for the players, the fans, and yes, even the media. On Monday, I had the pleasure of covering the Red Sox opener this past week. It was my 25th time and was one of the best Opening Days yet.
This truly is a fresh start for the Red Sox after two seasons of disappointment. As our esteemed mayor Tom Menino so aptly put it according to a Dan Shaughnessy column, “The Red Sox are part of the DNA of Boston. We always come back. We love the team.”
This year’s team has many new faces, none sweeter or younger than Jackie Bradley Jr. The kid is a few days shy of his 23rd birthday and seems thrilled to be calling Fenway Park his new home.
Bradley, who is from Virginia told me that nobody has influenced his career more than his dad, who was there for the game. JBJ was not in the lineup for the home opener, but he said the highlight of his day was huge ovation he received when introduced. His dad must have felt very proud. If respect and good manners count, Bradley is already batting a thousand.
Another new face, although not quite as young, is pitcher Ryan Dempster, who is in his 16th season in baseball and begins the year as the Red Sox No. 3 starter. Dempster is ranked 18th in wins among active pitchers with 124.
He is also a winner off the field. In 2009, when he was with the Cubs, Dempster’s second child Riley was born with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome. It is a genetic condition that can cause an array of health and developmental disorders.
In response, Dempster created the Dempster Family Foundation with a mission to help parents with children suffering from the condition. Experts estimate that as many as 1 in 2,000 babies are affected by 22q. The plan is for Riley to one day take over the foundation when she is an adult.
Dempster is also known for his sense of humor. He jokingly predicted before the season began that he would reach 30 wins this year.
On Monday, I asked him if was sticking to his bold prediction and Dempster said,“Yes, I just need to get that first one.”
He pitched well enough on Wednesday against the Orioles, before a major bullpen implosion. Dempster is still waiting on that first win.
In 2001, when Dempster was with the Marlins and visiting Boston, he dropped into the Comedy Connection at Fanueil Hall. He delivered eight minutes of jokes and surprisingly got a few laughs. Boston can be a tough crowd for a comedian or ballplayer. Dempster’s self-effacing attitude should serve him well here.
My favorite interview of the day was with my great pal and former colleague, Bob Lobel, a true sports legend in this town. For over 30 years at WBZ, Lobel threw his unique personality into his reporting and became a huge part of the Boston sports landscape. Lobel brought together the three biggest legends in the history of Boston sports when he united Ted Williams, Bobby Orr and Larry Bird one Sunday night on live television. He was unafraid to criticize ownership, unabashed in his opinions and remarkably funny every week with "Sports Spotlight".
As we sat in the stands along the first baseline hours before Monday’s opener, Lobel talked about his newest gig. He will be one of three public address announcers at Fenway Park this season. Every Saturday home game, Lobel will be behind the microphone announcing the lineups and pitching changes.
“Everything I have done throughout my entire career has led me to this job," Lobel said. "There is no other place I would be rather be, or anything else I would rather be doing than announcing at Fenway Park.”
Lobel joked a lot on TV through the years, but in that moment on Monday, I could tell he really meant it.
Hours later, I was on the third level outside the EMC Club when the mayor walked by with his impressive entourage, looking like a rock start in his own special way.
Tom Menino will be leaving office at the end of this year. He has been mayor for ten duck boat parades, and he is ready for the city to celebrate another.
"This is a Red Sox town. Boston fans love the team. We’re going to follow this team to a rolling rally in October.”
And Ryan Dempster is going to get 30 wins.
Hope springs eternal.
Now that March Madness has officially ended, I can say this with confidence. My bracket was busted. Like, really, really busted.
As the first round of 64 teams began, I got off to a great start. I misguidedly taunted a friend because my picks were at 83.9 percent and his were at 1.3 percent.
I ended with 22.1 percent, and he won our pool. Karma? I think so.
But then again, I don’t really know much about college basketball. It’s just not my sport. College hockey, sure, I could rattle off stats and storylines on the Frozen Four for days. (For what it’s worth, my NCAA hockey tourney bracket has already been seriously busted as well. Thanks, Yale for winning and Boston College for losing.)
So why did I bother filling out a bracket? I made my picks in two minutes without putting much thought into them. I easily could have looked up teams records against one another and made some less ill-advised decisions.
Instead, I made picks like Virginia Commonwealth University, who I chose to win it all simply based on the fact that they used to be a Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) team and I attend a CAA university, so it seemed like a nice little homage to our conference.
It got me thinking, why do we have such an obsession with brackets?
Surely, there’s a competitive aspect to it. I love to win, and as soon as I saw how well I was doing in our pool early on, I checked ESPN compulsively to see just how good things could get before Georgetown’s loss to Florida Gulf Coast University sent my bracket, along with almost everyone else’s, into oblivion.
But really, brackets are just another way we make sports social and connect with a sporting event on a personal level. I’m not saying watching all the games isn’t the main attraction, because it is. It’s awesome. But part of what makes it so awesome is how many people are deeply invested in it. My team didn’t make it to the tournament, but I had a whole bunch of teams to root for anyway because my bracket’s success depended upon them winning.
March Madness is what it is because the whole nation gets involved, which brings me to my next point: if only it could be the same for college hockey.
College hockey is growing, and while its tournament is formatted much differently than the NCAA basketball tournament (first round of 16 with four teams at four different regionals, with winners traveling to the Frozen Four to compete for the national title in one weekend), that doesn’t mean it can’t someday garner some significant attention.
Part of the reason I love March Madness is its inevitable storylines. This year we had a Cinderella in Florida Gulf Coast and a hero to rally behind in Kevin Ware.
You get that in college hockey too. No one expected Yale to be in Pittsburgh for the Frozen Four this weekend. All the Frozen Four teams have something to prove, and for Quinnipiac, St. Cloud State and Lowell, it’s their first time making it this far.
Of course, with college hockey, there are plenty of bracket challenges to enter so you can brag to your friends when the team you picked comes out of Pittsburgh with rings on its players’ fingers.
If you love the NCAA basketball tournament and everything that comes with it, give the Frozen Four a try this weekend. There’s no more college basketball to watch and let’s be honest, what’s really cooler than guys running around on ice?
And if you were wondering, my Frozen Four bracket isn’t completely busted yet. Lowell is my lone standing pick to make it to Pittsburgh, and luckily for me, I picked them to win it all.
Go River Hawks.
The infamous quote "Well-behaved women seldom makes history" comes to the forefront of my mind when I conjure up a memory of Rosie Ruiz. The infamous Cuban-born women (who falsely crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 21, 1980 in what is remembered by some as one the worst moments in marathon history) came into my life unexpectedly and affected me in more ways than one.
First and foremost, she unwittingly became the inspiration for me to want to RUN the Boston Marathon. Secondly -- and perhaps in the eyes of history, the more important of the two -- my friend, John Faulkner, was one of the two Harvard University seniors to visually "catch" the ruse.
Like most college students on that infamous day (which coincidentally is Patriot's Day), my friends from Boston University and I gathered on lower Commonwealth Avenue along with food and the perfunctory keg or two of Wiedeman's beer as students spilled out into the streets of Boston to tailgate and enjoy a day off from classes. We situated ourselves just past the Dugout Bar on Commonwealth Avenue, a hangout frequented by students and professors alike. The temperature was unusually warm for mid April with the temperature rising into the high 60's. The location was ideal that we chose so we could readily high five and encourage the runners and partake in the marathon mystique.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, my friend John and his fellow Harvard classmate, Sola Mahoney, decided to literally run from Harvard to Commonwealth Avenue. Both were a couple of months away from graduation at Harvard. ran over the Mass. Avenue bridge and by happenstance, chose to settle in near the CharlesGate, about one half block from Comm Ave. for a day of spectating.
The marathon held plenty of interest that day. Bill Rodgers, a native of Hartford, Conn., was looking to secure his fourth Boston Marathon win. He represented the Unites States at the 1976 Olympics only to be derailed by a foot injury and finished in a disappointing 44th place. He was well on his way to being deemed one of the greatest runners in marathon history.
But Billy Rodgers was not our only interest of the day. On the women's side, a Canadian runner named Jacqueline Gareau was considered one of the top runner's in the race and favored to win. Gareau had recently won the National Capital Marathon in Ottawa in a time of 2:47:58.
Rodgers did not disappoint as he was the first elite runner to run before us in our respective spots. In doing so he went on to win his fourth Boston Marathon.
All that was left was to see whether Gareau would win another marathon as well. From the south side of Comm. Ave approached the first woman. I clearly remember screaming with excitement and awe while I watched a woman go by who was not even sweating. The woman was Rosie Ruiz, a flash before my eyes who inspired me to loudly proclaim, "Someday I will run Boston!"
The Harvardites, meanwhile, were about 1/2 block from Comm. Ave. They had barely missed Rodgers running by.
"I saw a woman coming out of the crowd on the south side of Comm Ave and start running," Faulkner said in a phone interview. "I thought it was a hoax or someone running just for the fun of it. She did not run with an elite runner's style or form."
Mahoney had agreed with Faulkner that the women's runner they saw did not run with the form of a marathon winner.
Later that night back at Harvard, there were rumblings that there was a controversy brewing as to who had won on the women's side. The following morning John and his roommates read the front page of the Boston Globe and saw a picture of Rodgers and Ruiz declared as the winners of the race.
John immediately recognized Ruiz as the woman he saw emerge from the crowd. After much prompting from friends, he rather reluctantly called the Boston Globe sports department. He was put on hold, but said he could hear people talking in the background and saying something to the effect of, "if only someone would come forward." The call was unfortunately lost, but he called back again at the urging of his friend Tom Coz to report what he had seen.
From the moment John told the Globe he saw someone jump into the race, his place in history was sealed.
By early Wednesday morning, the word was out and two television trucks complete with satellite dishes were parked at Harvard. The news coverage was worldwide and the Today show came calling to hear from the Harvardites who spotted the false marathon winner. A fleeting glance up the northerly side of Comm Ave had changed the course of marathon history.
As for myself , the gig was up when I saw the news finally and there before the camera stood my friend, John Faulkner, and his Harvard buddy Sola Mahoney telling their story. Like millions, I felt duped. Gareau finally got to wear the victor's laurel seven days later, and in her running, she set a course record for Boston in a time of 2:34:28.
Fast forward to the year 2000 which was the 20th anniversary of the Ruiz caper. There was excitement in the air as rumors flew that Rosie Ruiz was coming to run Boston. It was my third consecutive Boston Marathon, and although Ruiz had been nothing but a fraud on the day I spotted her way back when, the sight of her running still served as an inspiration to me. She is the reason I stayed true to my word and came back to run Boston not once but three times.
As Bill Rodgers once said," the body does not want you to do this."
I say " Go for it."
In 1987 Adrian Dantley chased after a loose ball at the same time as his teammate Vinnie Johnson, resulting in the worst non helmet head-to-head collision I have ever witnessed in sports. It was Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Celtics. The old Garden was a sultry 80 degrees, the “bad boy” Pistons were pushing Larry Bird and company to the brink of elimination.
With 8 seconds left in the third quarter, Johnson lost the ball and chased it hard. Dantley came in from the opposite direction. The result was a full force head on collision that changed the face of the game. Dantley was down and out for a good 5 minutes. The Piston’s top scorer was done for the night and off to Mass General Hospital with a concussion. Vinnie Johnson spent the rest of the game on the bench with an ice pack on his head.
Bird said after the game that the incident “helped us out tremendously. It really hurt them.”
The Celtics were on their way to the NBA Finals versus the Lakers, and would lose the series four games to two.
All these years later, Dantley is a retired Hall of Famer and Olympic gold medalist. He lives with his family in the same house he bought in 1990. After a long and successful pro career with several teams, Dantley did not have to worry about money upon retirement.
What the former star did not have was health benefits.
Dantley now works as a school crossing guard in Silver Spring, Maryland for $14,685.50 a year. The salary includes medical benefits.
“A lot of people talk about the benefits, but I’m basically doing it for the kids,” Dantley told CNN. “You know, the NBA, even though you make a lot of money, they don’t pay for your health premiums. I told my wife, I don’t care how much money people think I have, I’m not gonna spend $17,000.00 on health insurance.”
Now the same guy that guarded some of the best players in the NBA, is guarding children as they cross the street.
“I’m at two intersections that’s pretty dangerous,” he said. “Two kids almost got hit twice. I almost got hit once at the beginning of September. I was a rookie and all the crossing guards were kind of kidding me a little bit.”
The 6’5” Dantley, now 58 years old, says he enjoys giving the kids high fives and encouragement.
“It’s pretty fun, especially with the little ones,” Dantley told WTOP.com.
Dantley, who grew up in the Silver Springs area said that he also was looking for something to do.
It’s win-win. Get the kids safely across the street, and save 17 grand on health insurance. The medical insurance is something Dantley will really need if he gets hurt on the job.
“I think it’s more dangerous out here than me playing one on one or me taking a hard foul from an NBA player.”
The hardest blow Dantley took as a player did not come from an opposing player, but his team mate, Vinnie Johnson. Long time Celtics and Pistons fans will remember the head on collision as a series changer.
The little school kids he’s helping now to cross the street will need a history lesson.
The best figure skaters on the planet are in London, Ontario competing for the World Championship. It is the competition that will determine how many American skaters will make the Olympic Team next year. This is the type of event where the next Dorothy Hamill, Kristi Yamaguchi or Michelle Kwan steps into the spotlight and becomes the next best thing on silver blades.
Can you say Gracie Gold?
I have to admit, that could be the best skating name ever. The question is, will anyone even remember it a year from now?
Gracie Gold is the current United States national silver medalist. My Olympic pair partner, Bill Fauver, calls her a “hot shot.” The Boston Globe's John Powers agrees she has potential to enrapture the skating audience in way that Katerina Witt did back in the day. (Read: men will watch too.)
That is, if the skating audience comes back.
We are witnessing a different kind of spiral in American figure skating: a downward spiral. The recent struggles of USA figure skating are as perplexing to me as the sport’s judging system, which may be the root of the problem.
It all started when a French judge and Russian judge made a deal at the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City. It went down something like this:
“I will give your pair team my vote for the gold if your delegation returns the favor for my country’s dance team.”
That was followed by a little ‘footsie’ under the judging table, and the rest is history.
Suddenly we had two pair teams sharing the top tier of the Olympic podium in a “do-over” medal ceremony that took place days after the event.
It was a happy day for the Canadian pair team who traded their silver for gold. It was also the end of the 6.0 as we knew it.
I spent 15 years of my life in an ice rink, competed at the highest level of figure skating and to this day have not figured out the scoring system.
Falling on an attempted quadruple jump now earns a skater more points than a perfectly executed triple flip. It doesn’t make sense.
The fallout from the change in the scoring system meant the end of the repeat champion. Kristi Yamaguchi, Michelle Kwan, Scott Hamilton and Brian Boitano won multiple U.S. titles. This doesn’t happen anymore.
Still, scoring issues don’t fully explain why American skaters are not getting it done on the international stage. The U.S. dance team of Meryl Davis and Charlie White have an excellent chance of winning a world title this weekend. Other than that, the U.S pair teams and men skaters are out of the running after the short program. The favorites to win the ladies title are South Korea’s Kim Yu-Na, Japan’s Mao Asado, and Italy’s Carolina Kostner. U.S. National champion Ashley Wagner, who placed fourth at last year’s World Championships, could make some noise.
And although Gracie Gold has the perfect skating name, she is a long shot to win a medal which reflects her name this weekend in London, Ontario.
Things will have to change in a hurry for American skaters with the Sochi Winter Games less than a year away.
I covered the BU hockey team for The Daily Free Press at BU for nearly three years, but since graduating BU last May, I’ve only seen Jack Parker outside of a press conference once. It was at this year's Beanpot luncheon, and he had just finished an interview with NESN. He turned around and saw me, shook my hand and asked for an update on my life post-college. After chatting about life for a bit, I interviewed him quickly for my pre-Beanpot feature. We then got in line for food, and Parker promptly spilled half the gravy on his plate all over the TD Garden Legends Room rug.
It was ironic to see a mess made on that rug by a man who has his name up on the wall in that Legends room alongside many Boston sports greats. He is a man who has guided Boston University to 894 wins, three national championships and an inhuman amount of Beanpot titles. He is a man who has coached 23 Olympians and countless NHL greats. He is a man who has coached 40 different Terrier teams through times of national triumph that filled up trophy cases and also times of shame, when even the national media took note of the team's irresponsible, and in some cases illegal, behavior.
Jack Parker is the man I used to watch when I was a child in the stands of Walter Brown Arena steam on the bench as he tossed every obscenity he could think of at the referees on the ice (or occasionally at his own players when they were in the penalty box). He is the man I then watched do the exact same thing 15 years later when I was a student reporter in the Agganis Arena press box.
You see, my relationship with BU hockey is quite complicated. For the first 19 years of my life, I was a BU hockey fan. My family’s BU season tickets track all the way back to my grandfather. I grew up with winter weekend nights consisting of T Anthony’s pizza before the game, two periods of hockey in the cement bleachers of Walter Brown and then the third period of hockey in my pajamas in the club room at the rink.
Then, as a sophomore at BU, I began covering BU hockey as a writer for The Daily Free Press. My relationship with BU hockey necessarily changed as I transitioned from fan to impartial reporter.
Through it all, there has been Jack Parker. He has coached BU for 40 seasons now, 17 years longer than I’ve been alive. As a child, he used to amaze me with how red his face could turn. Amazement turned to awe during my first year at BU. I could hardly say “congratulations” when I took a photo with him at the national championship victory parade that spring.
Then I was a sophomore interviewing him for the first time, and I was intimidated as could be. I remember waiting in the upstairs office at Agganis Arena to interview him for a feature I was writing on then-Terrier and current-Ottawa Senator Eric Gryba. On the sideboard next to me were the seven trophies BU hockey won the year before in addition to Matt Gilroy’s Hobey Baker Award and Parker’s most recent Spencer Penrose Memorial Trophy (College Hockey Coach of the Year – he’s won three times). The coffee table in front of me displayed two binders full of the hockey cards of all the players he had coached that went on to play in the NHL.
Jack Parker is known for being tough on players and reporters alike. One of my co-writers at The Daily Free Press once clocked a Parker interview at 19 seconds. One dumb question and my feature was doomed.
But when I walked into Parker’s office that first time, he put me completely at ease. His office wasn’t what I expected. There were framed posters of sailboats resting on the floor against the wall; although Parker had been in that office since 2005, he still had not hung the pictures. A framed jersey he was presented with at his 800th career win also rested on the floor, not the wall. I sat on the couch. He sat in an armchair across from me, crossed his legs, smiled and said, “What d’you got for me?”
The interview and feature went well. He never shut me down or made me feel as if I’d asked a stupid question, and he carefully explained intricacies of Gryba’s defensive game to me as if I were a hockey strategist and not a student reporter. Parker even launched into one of his favorite rants that day, a spiel about how Canadian Major Junior hockey’s recruiting policies are unethical and are destroying college hockey. It’s always a good interview when you can get Parker going on a rant.
I’ve interviewed Parker countless times since that day. For the nearly three years I covered the team, I met with Parker semi-privately every Thursday afternoon to discuss the week’s events and upcoming weekend slate of games. As with all relationships between a beat reporter and a coach, conversations didn’t always go smoothly. Sometimes, after a difficult loss or trying week, he was snippy and barely acknowledged my presence. Other times, instead of answering a question, he’d respond by simply rephrasing my question into a sentence and saying it back to me.
But most of the time, Parker was surprisingly helpful and pleasant. I learned some of the cliches Parker likes to throw around at least a few times per year (“That was a great college hockey game”, “They’re egomaniacs with an inferiority complex”, “I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn last night”, etc.), discovered his love of referencing anything about the Celtics or Bill Russell, and cursed Bill Belichick for inspiring Parker to be as vague as possible about any injuries (“It’s a body injury. That’s all I know.”). Quite a few times, I asked Parker to speak up once he inevitably started mumbling at a pitch too low for my voice recorder to pick up, or I’d ask him to repeat himself after he coughed his way through a sentence.
I learned to appreciate, instead of dread, the wry look on his face and the twirl of a laser pointer that always preceded some interesting way for him to skirt a tough question, but I also appreciated his consistently candid honesty when things turned serious.
It wasn't always strictly BU business with Parker. When Jack Jablonski, a Minnesota high school player, was paralyzed last winter from the chest down, I was the one to inform Parker that Jablonski’s spine was severed, thus making Jablonski’s paralysis irreversible without a miracle. Parker’s face turned dark the second I told him. He gasped and said quietly, possibly to himself, “That’s worse than Travis [Roy, a former BU player who is a quadriplegic].” His eyes welled up and he needed a minute before he was able to continue speaking.
I had an extended conversation with him last year about the Joe Paterno scandal and his disgust with the way sports can overshadow morals. I’ve spoken with Parker about his views on the Catholic church (he dislikes the way Cardinal Bernard Law lives like a prince in the wake of the Boston archdiocese sex abuse scandal). We’ve talked about the struggle of one of his close friends with autism and how that inspired him to get his entire team involved in Autism Speaks.
Last season was especially difficult at BU for Parker, the players, the athletics department and, yes, the reporters covering the team. When former BU player Corey Trivino was arrested on charges related to sexual assault, Parker called me for an interview (it was winter break and he was not in the office). I could hear the strain and frustration in his voice as he explained how for years, he attempted to convince Trivino he had a substance abuse issue and needed help. I listened as Parker described his first move upon hearing of Trivino’s arrest in the early hours of the morning. Even though Trivino was clearly out of line, Parker’s instinct was to protect his player; he immediately found Trivino a lawyer so he would be represented in court properly the next day and then phoned Trivino’s parents as they drove down from Toronto.
I will never forget Parker telling me he knew something bad would eventually happen with Trivino and how he had only prayed Trivino never hurt anyone else. I will never forget the feeling of how much Parker seemed to regret that he had not been able to do more ahead of time.
I unfortunately had an all-too-similar conversation with Parker just 10 weeks later when former Terrier Max Nicastro was arrested on charges of attempted rape. This time, there was desperation in Parker’s voice as he vowed, just hours after Nicastro’s arrest, to investigate his own team. He wanted to personally figure out why his players were getting into such serious trouble and determine how to get rid of any type of negative culture from his team. BU’s investigation into the hockey program was held separately of and in addition to Parker’s; the coach was not going to be satisfied with only someone else’s report on his team. It is, after all, his team.
And despite all the difficult moments last season, there were bright moments over the years with Parker that I will never forget. Parker would frequently ask about my classes and life away from the hockey rink. Last season, when I was a senior and the team was making a national tournament run, he decided to give me career advice.
“I always tell my players to play hockey for as long as they’ll pay you because you don’t want to work in the real world until you absolutely have to,” Parker said. Then he grinned. “So, play hockey for as long as they’ll pay you.”
I’ve never played hockey, so that advice was not the most valuable I’ve received, but it made me smile during a time when the unknown of the future was so daunting.
Then there was a time when I ran into Parker at T Anthony’s. He was so genuinely excited to see me that he shook me as he exclaimed, “It’s so great to see you outside of the rink!” I had yet to have my coffee that morning, and I’m pretty sure I just grunted back at him.
Last April, I went to a senior appreciation event at BU with my friends. Parker was also in attendance. As soon as he saw me, he sped over to my table and had me introduce him to my friends and roommates before asking them all about their lives and joining in our debate over the then-state of the Red Sox. He auctioned off a pair of his season tickets and ironically, I won them. He grinned when he saw they were mine and told me there was something special about his seats. He said he expected me to report back to him after the game as to how it went and if I figured out what makes his seats special (the seats are on the third baseline and have a counter in front of them so you have a place to put your food and drink).
I am so grateful not just for those Red Sox tickets, but also for having gotten the chance to know Parker over the past few years. He has been interviewed by hundreds of reporters over the years, and there are so many people who know him better and have known him for much longer than me. In a few years, who knows if he will still remember me. But I know for the rest of my life, I will remember him not only as the face of BU hockey, but as one of the highlights of my college experience and one of the best coaches with whom I have worked.
And, well, maybe I’ll also remember him as the man who, at 68 years old, can’t carry a plate of gravy without spilling it.
Ravens QB Joe Flacco has finally reached a deal with the Baltimore Ravens for a reported $120 million for six years, making him the highest paid athlete in NFL history. Details on the huge deal have been released this week. According to CBS Sports, Flacco will receive $52 million in guaranteed money. Further details of the deal:
- Averaging $20.1 million over the life of the deal, which is slightly more than Drew Brees ($20 million).
- Averaging $62 million over the first three years, which is $1 million more than Brees in the first three years of his deal.
- Flacco's salary-cap number is $7 million, which is $12 million lower than the cap hit from the exclusive franchise tag. That means the Ravens have more money to spend on keeping their own free agents like safety Ed Reed and linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger.
- Based on the $120.6 million deal, he will make an average of $168,908 each day of the regular season for the next six years.
There’s been a lot of questioning on whether or not the Super Bowl champ deserves what he got. So what does Flacco have to say about it?
"I think I bring to the table what I bring to the table," Flacco said. "The fact that we won the Super Bowl just comes with that. If we didn't win the Super Bowl this year, I still think I'm worth the same. It may not be seen that way, but that's the bottom line. I think I give this team the best chance to win moving forward, whether we won or lost."
Good for you Flacco, speaking up and letting people know what you're worth!
Serena gets stopped at Honda Classic
[prahys-lis] Show IPA
1. having a value beyond all price; invaluable: a priceless artwork.
Priceless is also the look of shock on tennis star Serena Williams face when she is stopped from attempting to photograph Tiger Woods while taking a shot at the Honda Classic. Take a look…
Williams was a good sport about the situation and joked about it over Twitter.
Silberman’s NFL Combine trip ends prematurely
It’s been a week since Lauren Silberman, a 28-year-old soccer player from New York City, made history by being the first woman to have an NFL tryout as a placekicker at this past weekend’s Regional Scouting Combine in Florhan Park, NJ.
Unfortunately, Silberman’s tryout was cut short after aggravating a right quad injury. The injury caused Silberman to call it quits after only her second kick off attempt.
According to ESPN, her first kick off attempt, at the 35-yard line went 19 yards and her second went only 13 yards. With one more kick off and five field goal attempts, Silberman tried to convince officials to let her continue but after a discussion, her day eas ended. Although, she wasn’t able to continue in her journey toward the NFL, we have to give her props for attempting to go out there and compete with the guys. Hopefully this is just the beginning, can’t wait to see what’s in store for the future.
Delonte West to the D-League
It’s been a long rocky road for former Celtic Delonte West. After being released by the Dallas Mavericks and receiving no interest by other NBA teams, West has changed his mind about playing for the NBA’s D-League. According to Yahoo Sports, NBA teams have been uneasy about taking a change on West who is known for his “behavioral issues” and battling bi-polar disorder.
Playoffs are only two months away and playing in the league may be the only way he might work his way back into the NBA. It was announced in February that West will play for the Texas Legends; however, West never arrived. With the realization that this might be his last chance to get back on an NBA team, West has apparently reconsidered a place in the D-League. If he plays well with the team the possibility of him picking up a 10 day contract with the NBA before the season ends is a lot more plausible.
Video of the Week:
It’s taken pop culture by storm for the entire month of February and it’s become the next “Gangnam Style”. Harlem Shake videos are popping up everywhere you look. The crazy fad has been re-created by businesses, celebrities and now the University of Kentucky.
As an athlete and sports personality I feel blessed every time I’m asked to do a charity event that involves physical activity. There is something about getting the blood pumping and the endorphins going that makes the effort all the more exhilarating and rewarding.
Thursday’s ICycle event was right in my wheelhouse.
The financial district of Boston is one of the least likely places to stage a cycling event. Fortunately, for all the participants the bikes were stationary, although the cause we
were riding for is a rapidly growing issue.
Homelessness is everywhere.
Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia challenged the Boston media along with the rest of the public to hop on a bike to benefit “HomeStart” an organization focused on ending and preventing homelessness in the Greater Boston area.
“I wish I could join these media cyclists for the ICycle, but I will be in spring training,” Saltalamacchia said. “The event is sure to be a crowd pleaser as our media friends are giving their time and sweat equity for a cause. Giving back to the community means a lot to me and I appreciate the cyclists efforts.”
Riding a bike for an hour next to WCVB TV’s Bob Halloran, and NESN’s Tom Caron made the trek easy. There was plenty of sports banter and jokes to keep us laughing and moving.
“Hey TC,” I said. “I heard Manny is going to Taiwan to play with the Rhinos. Talk about an elephant in the room.”
“They should start making the movie now,” Caron deadpanned.
We all had a good time for a very serious cause.
“While we want people to have fun at ICycle, we also hope they understand the important message behind it,” said Linda Wood-Boyle, Executive Director of HomeStart. “The ICycle event is just one way we can simulate a fraction of the many challenges those struggling with homelessness must face.”
When I arrived at International Place for my 10:30am time slot, I realized the event was taking place outside on the street corner. For whatever reason, I thought we would be set up in the lobby of the building. I worried that I wore the wrong jacket to keep warm, along with not having a hat or gloves.
I warmed up just fine during the cycle, but it made me wonder about those who live and sleep on the streets without a coat, or hat, or gloves. It made me think of what I take for granted.
When my cycle session was over, I was asked by an event organizer to answer a question on camera. The question was, “What does home mean to you?”
My answer required very little thought and came straight from the heart.
Like we all learned from the Wizard of Oz, ‘There’s no place like home.’ It’s where the love is, and where we feel safe and secure. Now that I have two kids in college, I can’t wait for them to come home for the holidays, and I know that they feel the same. It’s the place where the light is always on. It’s where we laugh and cry, grow up and grow older. It’s “home.”
I feel so lucky to have a place to call home, but there are far too many who can’t say the same. The good news is, there are ways we can change that, right here in our own backyard.
For more information on HomeStart, please visit www.homestartinc.org .
Let’s all admit it. Valentine’s Day is a Hallmark holiday (with all apologies to the saint it is named after).
The cards are everywhere and made for everyone in our lives whom we love the most. There are cards for our mother, father, husband, boyfriend, sister, son, daughter, and (believe it or not) even our pets. We can find a sentiment written by someone else just for them. Maybe it’s just me, but I happen to think saying “I love you,” to my nearest and dearest is pretty much a year-round thing.
With all that said, I do it every year. I buy the cards, the candy and the flowers. So do millions of others.
So there I was at the Paper Store the other day gazing at the hundreds of hearts everywhere I looked. It made me think why the heart became the symbol of love.
We can’t live without our hearts pumping blood. The heart is life. Our hearts are “broken” when we are disappointed. Our hearts beat harder when we are excited, afraid, nervous or “in love.”
When people show kindness, we say they have “big hearts.” We say, “his heart was in the right place,” when someone makes a mistake that is easy to forgive.
And how many thousand times have we heard about athletes that "play with heart?"
There are also the athletes that give back off the field. It takes heart to do that too. It also takes time, energy, dedication and sacrifice.
In honor of Valentine’s Day and all the sports heroes who become soldiers for a cause, here are my 2013 picks for biggest hearts in Boston from four of our professional teams.
New England Patriots: Zoltan Mesko
Just in case the name doesn’t ring a bell, Mesko is the Patriots punter. Even though his celebrity status is not big in sports circles, Zoltan has achieved rockstar status with young hospital patients and their parents.
Mesko spends his weekly day off making the rounds at Children’s Hospital, a habit he developed as a college student at University of Michigan. Mesko won the Ron Burton Community Service Award last September, prompting Patriot’s owner Robert Kraft to say, “Zoltan may be the league’s current MVP for his contributions to the community.”
Along with his hospital visits, Mesko is a prominent figure in Celebrate Volunteerism, a program that brought him to the hospitals, veterans homes and Boys and Girls Clubs he frequently visits. He also helped build a playground in Providence and has made numerous appearances for the Make-A Wish Foundation.
It probably is not a reach to say that Mesko has many more volunteer minutes than playing minutes as a member of the Patriots.
There's nothing wrong with that.
Boston Red Sox: Dustin Pedroia
Pedroia has a big presence with the Jimmy Fund even though he tries to keep it under the radar. Pedroia’s wife, Kelly, volunteered for the Jimmy Fund when the couple first moved to Boston. Through Kelly, Dustin heard about the kids, the families and the huge rewards of being part of such a tremendous charity.
Pedroia is the Jimmy Fund’s biggest cheerleader when cancer patients visit Fenway Park. He is known to get his teammates out of the clubhouse and into the park to say hello, sign baseballs and pose for photos.
The Jimmy Fund sends close to 50 teenagers down to Spring Training every year in March. When the buses pull up, Dustin is the first one out to greet them. Last year, Pedroia was down with strep throat the day they arrived, but he made sure there were 50 autographed baseballs waiting even though he could not be there.
When a new player joins the team (and there are lots of them this year), Pedroia makes it his responsibility to tell the newcomer about the importance of the Red Sox ties with the Jimmy Fund.
Pedroia has two young children of his own now. His life has changed considerably since he rode that duck boat in a championship parade for the first time in 2007.
As a dad, Pedroia can appreciate even more the amazing miracles that happen off the field every day thanks to the Jimmy Fund
Boston Celtics: Paul Pierce
In 2002, Pierce founded “The Truth Fund” to provide educational and life-enriching opportunities to under-served youth. His charitable efforts only continued from there.
Believe it or not, the Celtics captain and ten-time All-Star used to be an overweight kid. After the 2008 Celtics championship, the Finals MVP launched “The Truth on Health Campaign” to help and encourage young people to lead healthier lifestyles.
Pierce has teamed up with the William J. Clinton Foundation to create a healthier generation by addressing childhood obesity, one of the nation’s leading health threats.
FitClub34 is a rewards-based fan club turned fit-club which inspires kids to eat healthy and get exercise. The number of kids he is helping to fight weight problems is remarkable.
Pierce grew up across the street from a Hostess outlet in Los Angeles. He tells stories about how his fondness for cupcakes and Twinkies made him a “roly-poly’ kid. Pierce overcame his childhood chubbiness when a growth spurt caused him to grow to 6-foot-7. His activity as a basketball player took care of the rest.
Pierce may not be a chubby youngster anymore, but he still has some guilty pleasures. He says his favorite cheat food these days is chocolate ice cream which he is more than happy to share with his daughters (only once in a while).
Boston Bruins: Cam Neely
The Bruins as a team have a great reputation of giving back to the community, and nobody does it better than Cam Neely.
Once a player, now president of the team, Neely has made his mark with the Cam Neely Foundation for Cancer Care. The Neely Foundation was launched in 1995 by Cam and his siblings after they lost both of their parents to cancer.
The Neely House is a residence for families with a loved one undergoing cancer treatment in Boston. Since its inception, the Neely House has raised over 18 million dollars in donations of all sizes.
The logo for the foundation features two M’s in honor of Cam’s mother and father, Michael and Marlene.
Neely was one of the toughest players in the NHL, and Cam has proven even the grittiest of athletes can have a softer side. Originally from Vancouver, the Neely family has given people from all over the world hope and respite in Boston.
Neely’s legacy will always be much bigger than the game of hockey.
Happy Valentine’s Day to all the athletes who are devoted to helping those in need, and, from the bottom of my heart, thanks for sharing the love.
For every skater, it has to start somewhere. For many of us, the dream begins at the Ice Show. I clearly remember my mother packing my two sisters and me into the car for the drive from Lansing, Michigan to Detroit to see the Ice Follies- starring Peggy Fleming. The old Olympia Stadium was packed to the rafters. When the music started and the lights came on, there she was, the most beautiful vision on ice I had ever seen. I wanted to be just like Peggy, and for the next 12 years I devoted my life to the sport of figure skating.
On Tuesday, young skaters of all levels got their first taste of the big time at the Colonial Figure Skating Club in Acton. Three stars from Disney on Ice held a special workshop that was run like a true audition. Skaters of all levels practiced marching with “Mickey arms,” performed one-foot glides with “Aladdin arms,” and did two-foot spins with “Ursala arms.” Judging by the smiles on their faces, some future stars were born.
The workshop was organized by skating coach and former Disney on Ice performer, Sarah Rosenfield.
“It’s a way to get our younger skaters to see there are other options besides the Olympics, and hopefully they will stay with the sport,” said Rosenfield.
The Colonial Figure Skating Club has sent 30 skaters to Disney on Ice. 1980 Olympian Sheryl Franks performed with Disney for four years with her pair partner, Michael Botticelli. She said she remembers those days as the best of her skating career. Now as a coach, she reminds her students that all skating dreams don’t have to be the Olympic kind.
“The Olympics are great, but only about 12 kids in a gazillion get to go,” said Franks. “In the show, you have 10 performances a week to perfect your routines. In competitive skating you get one shot. You’ve got that one four and half minute program, and if you ain’t good, you’re done. The show was the best Michael and I ever skated.”
The two principle skaters from the current production of Disney On Ice demonstrated how to do the “princess pose” and talked about their own childhood memories of seeing the ice shows.
Maria Simoni plays Tinkerbell in Disney on Ice presents Rockin' Ever After. Simoni said she understands what an impact just one performance can have on a young skater.
“You remember when you were that age, looking up to the people that were in the shows,” Maria said. “I remember going to my first Disney Show, and now I get to do that for them, and that’s really rewarding.
The ice show is not all glamor. The traveling can be grueling, and getting homesick is not uncommon.
“I missed being at home, I missed birthday parties and christenings,” said Franks. “I missed my family a lot. Then I would come home at Christmas and look around at what all my friends were doing and say to myself, ‘Hey, my life is pretty cool.'"
Franks joked that she would still be in the show today if she could “make weight.” In many ways, it is the dream job for anyone who has spent most of her life in skates.
“How many people get to travel the world, skate, and enjoy it?" she said.
I never did skate in the show. After the Olympics, it was right to college, and after college, it was right to work in the field of television. I think I would have loved it though. The costumes, the audience, the lights- and best of all no judges!
Disney On Ice presents Rockin’ Ever After will be performed at the Boston Garden Feb. 15 through Feb. 24.
I recently scoured the internet to find the correct definition of the term “trophy wife”. It was a little tough because the meaning of this term has changed with time. The Internet was full of definitions ranging from “gold digger” to “homemaker of a wealthy older man” but the definition I liked the best and which seemed to be the most modern was found on Wikipedia.
Trophy Wife: (n) an expression used to refer to a wife, usually young and attractive, who is regarded as a status symbol for the husband, who is often older and wealthy (i.e. celebrities, wealthy business men).
It’s funny to me how not one of these definitions online made the mention of being seen and not heard, yet growing up all I can remember is a day when the “Trophy Wife” was to be just that. I believed it to be one of those rules that was unspoken. No one needed to actually say it, it was just known. That went for the wives of lawyers of prestigious law firms, celebrity wives and the athlete wife. My perfect example of a trophy wife is Jackie Kennedy. She was beautiful, poised, classic and stood by her husband strong but silently.
We have now entered a time where the trophy wife has given herself a platform to speak her mind publicly instead of leaving it to their husbands in the limelight. Ladies, we are in a world where, on a day-to-day basis, celebrities are scrutinized for expressing opinions in the media. Apologies and damage control plots are on the rise and the best advice I can give is an oldie but goodie…think twice before you speak. This is a great motto for people in general and especially those in the public eye but the beauty of that statement is: not only good for them but it’s also great for their families and spouses.
In the last few years wives of athletes have made their personal expressions very relevant in the media but exactly how much is too much?
After the Patriots suffered a devastating loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championships, there were a lot of emotional feelings, but none as surprising as what came from Ana Burns, the wife of New England wide receiver Wes Welker. A Facebook posting she wrote surfaced saying, “Proud of my husband and the Pats. By the way, if anyone is bored, please go to Ray Lewis’ Wikipedia page. 6 kids 4 wives. Acquitted for murder. Paid a family off. Yay. What a hall of fame player! A true role model!”
Now on the one hand, it’s great to have an opinion and exercise your freedom of speech but remember, you’re the wife of someone in the public eye. Any remarks and thoughtless behavior affects and has the potential to damage your husband’s career. (Now I like to throw the occasional dig myself being an NFL fan since age 11, but if it meant added scrutiny toward my husband or his organization, I’d make sure no one was around to hear me when I put my foot in my mouth).
This isn’t just about Ana Burns; there are countless others who have publicly embarrassed themselves by allowing senseless outburst to arise. Lest we forget, my personal favorite, Victoria’s Secret model/wife of Tom Brady, Gisele Bundchen, reacting to a couple of hecklers after the Patriots/Giants game without realizing there was a camera present. She shouted, “My husband cannot f***ing throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time.”
Now I am not unsympathetic to emotion. Sports are an emotional thing, especially when your husband is out there. There’s nothing wrong with having their back, but as a wife, you have a voice, which must be used for good. These athletes have a lot to bear as it is, they don’t have time to worry about what their wives are saying and doing in the media.
It’s 2013. I get it. We women have worked all of these years to be heard but sit back for one second and try to name five trophy wives of the past. For instance, who was married to Muhammed Ali? Or Rod Stewart? Or even Joe Montana? They came from a time when wives were supportive but left the fame and trash talking to their husbands.
Don’t be afraid to adopt the behaviors of a modern-day trophy wife. Have a life and make a home for your family. Be successful. Be poised. Be classy. Stand by your man and have his back the best way you can, and if that means silently, so be it!
There are many times in life when we find ourselves saying, “That could have happened to me.”
You all know what I’m talking about, and most of the time these words come off our lips upon hearing of tragic news. We breathe a sigh of relief, say a prayer and move on with our lives with a valuable lesson learned.
It was clear to me two days ago when I read an article about ESPN anchor Hannah Storm’s grill accident that this incident and scary near-encounter with death hits so close to home for so many of us.
Three weeks ago, Storm suffered first- and second-degree burns to her face, hands, chest and neck after a propane gas grill on the deck of her Connecticut home exploded. She lost roughly half her hair and her eyebrows and eyelashes were burned off in the accident. On Tuesday, I watched Storm return to the airwaves on ABC’s telecast of the Rose Parade.
I was amazed at how beautiful she looked. Aside from the bandage on her left hand, Storm appeared the way she usually does when I watch her on ESPN. However, she would reveal later in the broadcast that she was wearing hair and eyelash extensions, and a makeup artist drew on eyebrows. Pictures she posted also revealed an almost unrecognizable Storm.
But Storm’s inner beauty radiated, as it always does. She appeared to be incredibly relaxed and a bit relieved, having returned to her familiar setting alongside Josh Elliot for her fifth time hosting the Rose Parade.
I can only imagine the pain and suffering that Storm experienced in the days following her Dec. 11 accident — not to mention the daunting thoughts of never being able to return to her career and do what she loves and lives to do.
“It was like you see in a movie, it happened in a split-second,” Storm said. “A neighbor said he thought a tree had fallen through the roof, it was that loud. It blew the doors off the grill.”
It was Storm’s 15-year old daughter, also named Hannah, who remained calm and called 911.
This story hit home for me on many levels. Like Storm, my career in television is incredibly important to me. We all would also be naďve to think that it is not a vain business. Appearance is paramount, and any imperfections to such can be detrimental. Blemishes, dry skin in the winter months, peeling lips from an allergic reaction, irritated eyes and a red nose from a nasty head cold are just a few of the uncontrollable imperfections we tend to overreact to.
But I will never again worry about those minor flaws. What Storm had to overcome just to apply simple cream and TV makeup was an overwhelming feat. Seeing the pictures of her wounds following the accident would make anyone cringe.
She’s darn lucky to be alive.
While many would be left feeling sorry for themselves, Storm used her past experiences as a journalist to put her accident in perspective for herself, her family, and her fans.
“I didn’t see my face until the next day and you wonder how it’s going to look,” she said to the New York Post. “I was pretty shocked. But my over-arching thought was I’ve covered events with military members who have been through a lot worse than me, and they’ve come through. I kept thinking, ‘I can do this. I’m fortunate.”’
Another reason this story hit home for me is because I too prepare my family dinner on a grill outside of our home. My own mother lit the grill every night, and her mother did as well. There are millions of us, men and women, who turn that propane gas on and expect our meal to be ready within 25 minutes.
Never again will I take that big metal grill for granted.
I couldn’t quite figure out how the explosion occurred. After all, Storm said she turned the gas off before she reignited it. Isn’t that all you need to do? She later explained that because the gas is heavier than air, it sits in the area of the grill even after being turned off and especially in cold winter months. When she reignited the grill, it exploded.
Grill manufacturers advise to wait at least 15 minutes with the grill lid open to allow for any excess gas or fumes to vacate the area before you begin to reignite.
What we learned from Hannah Storm’s accident is a valuable lesson on how a simple household activity can turn deadly. As I said before, Storm is lucky to be alive.
She said she hopes to use her experience to educate people on how to properly operate and adhere to the safety precautions of propane gas grills.
It was wonderful to see Storm’s smiling face on New Year’s Day, and all of her fans look forward to her return on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” this Sunday.
And maybe we can all appreciate every single day a little bit more, because any one of us can say, “That could have happened to me.”
I intended today to post my usual pregame cheat sheet for the upcoming Sunday Night Football battle between the New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers. It’s by far the biggest game of the day and one of the most anticipated games of the season. After last week’s rout of the mighty Texans, the Patriots are again establishing their dominance as Super Bowl favorites.
But that is the last I will write about the game.
I have had my TV tuned to CNN for over 48 hours now, watching unwavering coverage of the devastation in Newtown, Conn. In the wake of the murder of 20 innocent children and six brave women trying to protect them, I have found it hard to concentrate on sports.
As a sports writer and reporter, I have had the pleasure to share my passion for these games and a culture that unites fans around America and around the world. People ask me all the time why I write sports rather than something else, and my answer is always the same. I write sports because they bring us together and make us happy.
At the end of the day, despite the outrageous contracts, the isolated incidents of heartbreaking violence or injury, and the duels between rival teams and fans, sports are just sports. The rest of the world is so serious and full of truly meaningful and often painful debates. Sports are an escape from all that, and that’s why I love to share that with others.
Today though, there is no escape; most especially for a town that is less than a two-and-a-half hour drive from where I sit right now.
There are 27 families in New England today that are grieving for women and children who were sought out and murdered.
There are dozens more parents whose children saw their teacher and 6- and 7-year-old class mates brutally murdered, shot multiple times at close range by a man in black who is the very definition of evil. These babies had to flee for their lives from a place that they had always felt safe.
There are police officers, FBI agents, medics, medical examiners and other first responders and law enforcement that had to bear the unimaginable trauma of standing in a first grade classroom surrounded by dead children.
There are thousands of people in Newtown whose entire community is standing still with this gut-wrenching grief that is nearly impossible to assuage right now. It is a state of unnatural devastation unlike anything this country has ever seen, and something that surpasses any of our worst nightmares.
I know that the whole world will continue to go on, as it should. I know that we cannot all stop in our tracks when something tragic like this happens and that we must all push forward and live our lives to the fullest in honor of those who no longer can.
But I implore our entire sports community to stop for a moment today and just be grateful to have a night to ourselves to enjoy a football game. It is a simple pleasure. It is time to spend with family or friends, to bond with sons and daughters and enjoy good food and drink. For me it is a time that I get paid to do work that I love and watch a game that I love.
That is all that matters about tonight’s game. Just be happy to have it, and spread that happiness out in thought and prayer for the members of our New England community tonight to whom football means nothing right now.
When something like this happens, it’s hard to know what to say.
When something like this happens, it’s hard to find a way to ease your own grief, to decide whether to follow the coverage religiously or attempt to distract yourself with something else.
When something like this happens, everything else seems insignificant.
On Friday, this world was changed when a gunman entered an elementary school and slaughtered 26 innocent people – 20 of them children — shortly after murdering his own mother. This is a crime that is unfathomable, making it that much harder to know how to react.
Think back to elementary school. It’s a place where you read stories, eat lunch together with your friends, play on the playground and the classroom, and learn in an environment where it is actually fun to learn in. It’s a place where you’re carefree. It’s a place of bright colors and laughter and smiles.
It shouldn’t be a place of gunshots, of blood, of terror, of death.
An elementary school should never experience something so tragic that our president cries when talking about it on live television.
But this is the reality this world is waking up to. This is what people across the world are now trying to fathom.
When something terrible happens, I turn to sports or music to comfort myself. On Friday, there was no escaping the tragedy by diving into the world of sports. Every team, every league, every athlete was talking about Newtown, Conn.
On Sunday, the NFL will hold a moment of silence before all of its games. On Friday night, NBA teams observed a moment of silence as well.
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, a player whom the cameras are constantly trained on, wrote “Newtown, CT” on his sneakers, knowing the town’s name would get all kinds of TV time during the game. It was clear where his mind was on Friday night.
Cleveland Cavaliers coach Byron Scott was thinking of the same thing as Durant. “I think it affects everybody,” Scott said as he addressed the tragedy Friday night.
“It puts everything in the right perspective as well. As much as we love this game, this [game] doesn’t mean nothing.”
Even ESPN, the largest sports media conglomerate there is, was silenced by grief. Newtown is just 30 miles from the ESPN headquarters in Bristol. Many ESPN employees live in small, picturesque Connecticut towns just like Newtown. It undoubtedly hit very close to home there.
As a result, ESPN decided to show its grief and sensitivity by stopping all tweets reacting to sports, opening each segment with acknowledgement of the tragedy by coaches and athletes, refraining from using the word “shooter” or other sensitive verbiage, and eliminating inappropriate sales ploys and commercials for the rest of the weekend.
It’s surreal to see ESPN do something like this. I was nine years old when the Columbine massacre happened and 11 years old when the 9/11 attacks occurred. Maybe I was too young at the time, but I don’t remember ESPN ever going silent in this manner.
It speaks to the unprecedented horror of this crime, of the pure devastation that comes from the needless deaths of young children in a place where they are supposed to be safe and happy and starting their lives. It speaks to the horrific loss of brave teachers and administrators who threw themselves in front of a loaded gun in an attempt to protect the young children in their care.
In a way, it is comforting to see this, comforting to see the president cry and ESPN go silent. The deep loss and confusion and grief I feel is so clearly mirrored in everyone and everything around me, and knowing I’m not alone, knowing that the depth of my feelings is shared by others, helps.
Normally, I turn to sports as an escape. Now, I turn to sports as a part of a community. All of our worlds have been shattered. I can’t escape the horror of the Newtown massacre — nobody can – and so we grieve together. We grieve with our friends and family and sports teams and media outlets and president.
Because when something like this happens, it’s hard to know what to say. All we can do is come together and, as a community, acknowledge our pain.
For all you moms out there, this post is for you!
After many years of reporting on the Boston Bruins players’ Annual Holiday Toy Shopping Event, I was fortunate enough to actually participate in it myself this year. Due to the circumstances of the NHL Lockout, players are not available to take part in team-sponsored events.
So, along with members of the Boston Bruins staff, including President Cam Neely, Assistant General Manager Don Sweeney, Head Coach Claude Julien, Bruins Hall of Famer John “Chief” Bucyk and other media personalities in Boston, I went to Target in Woburn to begin my shopping for the kids.
I received a clipboard with the details of the children I was buying gifts for and what their “wish list” was. Two boys and two girls in each of the following four categories: infant, toddler, small child, and teens. That totals 16 kids, and I had a budget of $699.
Off I went, along with Director of Boston Bruins hockey, Rose Mirakian-Wheeler, to collect our gifts in a shopping cart.
I was overwhelmed with gift ideas – up and down the aisles we went with discussions like “Do toddlers like glow worms or a “laugh and learn snail? Do boys prefer matchbox cars to a board game?” Decisions, decisions, 16 times over!
“A pair of hop-along boots and a pistol that shoots
Is the wish of Barney and Ben;
Dolls that will talk and will go for a walk
Is the hope of Janice and Jen”
We laughed along with the rest of the crew who were diligently filling up their carts as well. Our cart kept getting reactions such as “You guys are WAY over budget!” and “Holy Smokes! Who are you guys buying for!?”
Needless to say, Rose and I are both experienced shoppers. We learned early on that Fisher Price had a “Buy one, get one 50 percent off” and the Matchbox cars had the same promo.
Ipod shuffles for the teen girls, portable DVD players for the teen boys, Holiday Barbie for the young girls, along with glitter hats, gloves, and purses (my fave!). Rattles, stuffed animals, baby dolls that require feeding, board games, DVD’s, kittens that purr, and so on and so on.
What a fun day, and all for charity.
I was honored to be able to participate in such a festive and wonderful event. I look forward now to the delivery, where I can see the kids’ faces light up (hopefully) at our choices.
To participate in an event that exemplifies the true spirit of the holidays is unlike any other.
My thanks to the Bruins for inviting me to participate; to the Target staff for being so accommodating, and to Rose for carrying the calculator to make sure we stayed on budget.
We were only $15 over. Not bad.
“….And Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again.”
Here’s to a happy and healthy holiday season. And to all those moms, good luck!
The Boston Bruins Foundation, Delaware North Companies and Garden Neighborhood Charities fund $22,500 worth of toys, with each organization donating $7,500. The toys will be delivered to hospitals around Boston and given as gifts to children who are unable to celebrate
the holidays at home.
Last year, the Bruins donated an estimated total of more than $23,000 worth of toys.
Bruins Hall of Famer Ray Bourque started the holiday toy shopping and delivery tradition when he was captain, and the event has continued through the years.
It seems like every week there is another headline story on sports concussions. The latest news had to do with a study conducted at Boston University. On Monday, the Boston Globe dedicated most of their front page to the results of the study. Later in the day it was all over network news. Basically, the researchers confirmed what many of us already believed to be true: Concussions cause brain damage – and brain damage causes all kinds of problems for years to come.
The study was based on the autopsies of 85 brain donors, most of the them professional athletes. Without getting too scientific, we learned more about the Alzheimer's-like symptoms that are caused by blows to the head. We discovered more about how concussions cause the destruction of brain cells, and can lead to death. What resonated most for me about the story was a remark made by the study's leader Dr. Anne McKee during a network news interview. "Would you allow your own son to play football now that we know the results of your study?" was the reporter's question.
Dr. McKee's answer was, "I would have to think very seriously about that."
I give credit to McKee for not blurting out a straight "no." Any parent with a kid that plays sports knows it's not that easy. Concussions happen in football and hockey. They also happen in non-helmet sports like soccer and basketball. They happen in cheerleading, diving, and figure skating, too.
We have come a long way in awareness, that is for sure. Ten years ago when my son started Pop Warner, our biggest worry as parents was not head injury. Our biggest concern at the time was how our son would manage playing in two hockey leagues and football at the same time. He still had homework to do after all.
As it turned out, our son dropped football after less than three weeks of practice. He was a 90-pound ten-year-old playing against kids that could weigh up to 140 pounds. He was getting killed out there – and had the welts on his arms and legs to prove it. My sister, visiting from California, saw his bruises and asked, "Isn't this kind of like child abuse?" That was it. We pulled him out, and he was more than okay with that. But he kept at the hockey, and again, the worry was not concussions. He broke a collar bone, spent a few months in a sling and went back at it. I can't remember one parent back then worried about concussions.
Now, with all the research and publicity, at least we are more aware.
The latest news out of the BU Center of Traumatic Encephalopathy had me thinking about something else.
What about me? As a figure skater, how many times did I hit my head on the ice? How many times did I see other skaters knocked out and feeling nauseous? The answer is too many. It could happen learning a double axel or it could happen just forgetting to take your skate guards off getting on to the ice. The feet go straight up from under you and the next thing you know you banged your head. We felt embarrassed, not worried about concussions.
Skating coaches and parents would sometimes do the "eye pupil" check. If the pupils in the skater's eyes didn't look dilated you were good to go.
Figure skaters, like gymnasts, cheerleaders, spring board and platform divers are never going to wear helmets. Maybe they should – but it will never happen.
When I switched from singles to pair skating at age 18 it was even worse. Learning a death spiral (what a name) should have required a helmet. Learning how to land throw doubles and triple twists should have required a helmet and full padding.
The death spiral requires the female to lean all the way back on one blade with one "free arm" and the other arm holding on to the partner's grip. The man leans back the other way in a pivot. Learning how to do it meant falling on your head ... a lot. Mastering a "throw" jump means many landings on your butt – which often continues with a slide into the boards. The force of the impact will sometimes result in the head being the last part of the body to hit the rink barrier.
Anyone who thinks figure skating isn't a sport, I invite you to watch a pairs training session. No costumes. No make-up. No guts, no glory. My own mother was so traumatized watching an early pairs practice she had to leave the rink. She wasn't the only parent who couldn't bear to watch.
Cheerleading injuries are big news now. It used to be waving pom poms, but now it's all about stunts. My daughter started as a "flyer" (the one up in the air), and now she is a base. With each twist, lift, and basket catch there is the danger of head injury whether you are flying or basing. It comes with the territory, and cheerleaders are not likely to ever put on a helmet like the players on the field behind them.
So now we know the facts. Some of us are hoping the undiagnosed concussions don't mean problems later. There isn't much we can do about it now.
Then there are the decisions we make as parents. How many kids are playing flag football instead of contact Pop Warner these days? Many more. When we hear five kids suffered concussions in one Pop Warner game, it's not just worrisome, it's sickening.
The bottom line is we can't all turn into chess players. There is a danger in sports, and there is a danger in getting into a car every day. I would not change a thing about spending my youth on the hard and unforgiving surface of ice. In the end, the kids are going to play, the kids are going to get bigger, and they are going to keep playing. The super talented athletes will go on to play in college – the elite will make it a career.
There are many cold hard facts about concussions, and some extremely sad stories. The games will go on, and thankfully, now when an athlete hits their head it's taken seriously. It's a very big step for a problem that is changing the fabric of sports at every level, helmet or not.
They’re calling it a Cinderella story: for the first time in school history, Sharon High School won a Super Bowl thanks to a 12-3 win over Wayland High. For me, this is no Cinderella story; this is a miracle.
I was born and raised in Sharon. As far as I can remember, Sharon never won a single football game during my four years at the high school. They didn’t win many games any other year for that matter. I don’t remember ever seeing Sharon football enjoy a winning season, but Google searches tell me it has happened. Still, a winning Sharon football team seems more to me like a Greek myth than a real thing.
I remember during my freshman year at Boston University, I excitedly boasted to my friends that my high school had finally won a football game – albeit by forfeit thanks to Mansfield’s use of an ineligible player. I thought that was the pinnacle for Sharon football. I was wrong.
This season, I’ve followed the team closely for the first time since I graduated five seasons ago. When I went home for the Jewish holidays in September, I learned that the football team was undefeated. The coach, Dave Morse, was awarded Patriots Coach of the Week honors by Sharon resident and former Patriot Andre Tippett. This honor alone was quite an achievement for the football team.
In Sharon, the head football coach position is typically a revolving door. The coach was not generally well-known around the school, and the only time I ever knew who the football coach was was when he was my math teacher and I was covering the team for the town paper. My biggest challenge that year was coming up with new and exciting ways to say that Sharon had lost yet again.
As I continued to follow the football team this season, I kept thinking about how exciting this must be for every student at the high school. Sharon High is a pressure-cooker. Academics are of utmost importance – we never had free periods or non-academic electives in high school.
Competition took place in the classroom, not on the athletic fields. Students would compete with others in terms of how many AP classes they took (if you didn’t get a 5 on an AP exam, you were a blemish on the Sharon High record), how many Ivy League schools they applied to and how many A’s they received on report cards.
Athletics were almost always just a peripheral part of high school. While many students played sports, an athletic culture never ruled Sharon High. We joked that Sharon was only good at “country club” sports: tennis, gymnastics, swimming and golf. The stereotypical “jocks and cheerleaders” clique was absent. We didn’t have homecoming. Students didn’t go to sporting events. We seldom had a chance to be normal teenagers under the crazy academic pressure we all faced.
I remember going to a football game as a fan just once (I was dating a player on the team and it was Thanksgiving – he begged me to go). I watched the game from the cozy interior of my car. It was a rainy November day, cold and wet, and there were no other students from Sharon there. Nobody cared. The team lost, and while I don’t remember the score, I’m pretty sure it was by a lot.
The only time I ever remember the school getting caught up in an athletic team’s success was in 2007 when our soccer team went to the Eastern Mass state final. A huge group of students went to the tournament games, and I remember cheering like crazy and rushing the field when the team topped Concord-Carlisle to win the state semifinal. They lost in the state final, but for Sharon, just making it there was a victory.
It was exhilarating to be at that game with my friends, to get away from the pressures of high school academics and college applications for just a few hours and cheer on my classmates. Since Sharon is a small town, I had known the players on the team since kindergarten. While I had always been a sports fan, I never knew the pleasure of coming together with your entire school to support people you have known since you were five years old. It’s a shame I only experienced that joy once.
One of the best photos I’ve seen from Sharon’s Super Bowl win was one of the sidelines. It appeared on the Hockomock sports Twitter account, and it showed an incredible crowd of Sharon residents clad in maroon and gold cheering on the football team. I’ve never seen anything like that in Sharon. Before the soccer game in 2007, I had to go out and buy a maroon shirt; I didn’t have any clothing in school colors.
I don’t know what the future has in store for Sharon football. I never could have imagined a Super Bowl championship in my town. I’m so excited for the team, their families, friends and the rest of the town. I hope this game serves as a reminder that there is more in life to be proud of than just academic success. I hope it reminds the town of the joy in coming together as a community to support each other. I hope it reminds Sharon that there’s more to high school than just academic success.
Congratulations one last time to Sharon football for making what once seemed impossible a reality. It was a great season, and I’m thrilled you all have been rewarded for the hard work and commitment it took to reach this point.
When I saw the report on Sunday about the death of Sasha McHale, I was shocked and saddened. My mind flashed back to the days I covered her dad, Kevin McHale, as a player with the Celtics. Those were the days of the original “Big Three.” Larry Bird did his talking on the court, Robert "Chief" Parish was silent, but deadly, and Kevin kept everyone in stitches.
When Kevin McHale held court after a practice or a game, you knew it was going to be good. The man had a way with words- and a genuine, personable nature. It was easy to see he came from the Midwest where everyone is just so darn friendly.
McHale was a proud family man too. He and his wife Lynn have been married for 30 years. They started their big family back in McHale’s basketball hey day. Five children is a good sized family by most standards; it's a huge family for a young professional athlete.
When I was pregnant with my first child in 1991, Sasha McHale was a one-year-old with a bunch of older siblings, and her dad was an expert on all things “baby.”
It was unusual enough back in those days to see a female sports reporter covering an NBA team, but to see a “pregnant” female sports reporter was beyond. McHale just couldn’t help himself as he paraded around in front of me with a basketball stuck up his jersey after practice one day. It was hilarious. Even Marv Albert made mention of it on the next national telecast.
McHale offered unsolicited advice on how to calm a screaming baby. I’ll never forget the day he told me about the power of a pacifier. He said they were the best invention ever. Then he went on to say how first-time parents sterilize the pacifier when it falls of the floor, second-time parents just rinse them off, and by the third kid, you learn just to stick them in your ears so you don’t hear the crying. Spoken like a true expert, and now as a mother of three, I can say he was exactly right.
I worked 25 years covering pro athletes in every sport, and went through three pregnancies doing it. Kevin McHale was the only athlete to offer parental advice. I will admire him for it always.
My heart is breaking for a man that made me laugh so much. My prayers go out to Kevin, Lynn and their four children.
As parents, we just never know what lies around the bend, and how we would ever deal with the death of our child. It’s a sadness that no mother or father should have to bear, but so many do.
Kevin McHale made it clear his kids were his true pride and joy like every great father does.
‘Tis the season to start reflecting on what we are most grateful for.
Thanksgiving is one week away, and while everyone is busy getting their grocery list items crossed off for the massive amount of family and friends who will invade the premises, I thought it would be appropriate to take a minute and reflect on what I am thankful for.
- I’m thankful that I am not dead last in my weekly pick-‘em football pool. Bottom third? Yep! But not dead last. At least I have some sort of integrity to preserve.
- I’m thankful that the election is over and I don’t have to listen to or watch campaign ads 24/7. Hey, I get it. But over a billion dollars spent? Come on!
- I’m thankful that people actually find me somewhat interesting to follow me on Twitter. I was against the social media giant, but my colleagues and bosses felt it was necessary for me to join. Thankfully, people are there to support me. THANK YOU all, and I apologize if I’m not as interesting as you thought.
- I’m thankful that my husband allows us to have the super duper cable package so we get Showtime. I am obsessed with Homeland.
- I’m thankful that I never emailed a war general through Gmail.
- I’m thankful Selena Gomez finally came to her senses and broke up with… what’s his name again?
- I’m thankful that E.L. James took her talents to a publisher.
- I’m thankful my “IPad2” looks like the latest “IPad with Retina Display” so I don’t look like I’m behind the times with technology (although I’m sure Apple will screw me over in another 6 months).
- I’m thankful you can’t take the Jersey out of the Jersey Girl (thank you Bruce).
Okay, okay enough of that.
In all seriousness, I am thankful for so many things in my life. I have a wonderful family, awesome friends, an incredible job, and I am thrilled to be a part of She’s Game Sports.
I pray for everyone close to my hometown who was affected by Hurricane Sandy, and I wish them all well in the recovery process.
And I’m thankful that I only have to wait seven more days until the radio stations start playing Christmas songs around the clock!
I love Thanksgiving because it combines three of my favorite things in the world: food, family and football (although not necessarily in that order).
Growing up in Michigan, we always had the Lions to watch while the bird was cooking. My childhood memories consist of the smell of turkey in the oven and the Lions getting toasted.
I migrated to Boston as a college student and never left. It was then that I learned that Thanksgiving Day wasn’t just about the Lions and the Cowboys. New England embraced America’s best game by honoring it at the high school level.
My friends at Boston College who grew up in the area told me that their Thanksgiving Day always begins on a frozen field either home or away. Mom throws the turkey in the oven, and everyone heads off to “the game.”
How does the house not burn down? I wondered.
Rivalries. Community. High School Football. This doesn’t happen in Michigan on Thanksgiving or in a lot of other places. Tradition in New England isn’t just Harvard versus Yale. It’s Natick vs. Framingham, Winchester vs. Woburn, Matignon vs. Chelsea, English vs. Latin, and on and on and on.
As I moved on as a sports reporter, I quickly learned the importance of covering a game on Thanksgiving morning. I stood on fields from Brockton to Lynn year in and year out. I remember covering a game in 1990 after learning that morning I was pregnant with my first child. My feet were freezing and my heart was warm.
All these years later, I still love it when those high school scores scroll through on the local news. Alan Miller, an esteemed sports producer at WBZ always chose the music “Be True to Your School” by the Beach Boys. I imagined people from Malden to Masconomet just waiting for the three seconds they would see their school’s name in lights.
Mike Lynch at WCVB has turned Thanksgiving Day high school football coverage into part of the holiday landscape. Nice touch wearing the sweatshirts from different schools throughout the football special. Kudos to all those photographers, producers and editors who make it all happen.
Then there is the pro game. There are two givens: Dallas and Detroit. Now we have a night game, this year featuring the Patriots and Jets. A few years ago when the Patriots played the Lions in the middle of the afternoon, it meant structuring the timing of the meal around the game.
“Nobody eats until the final whistle,” I told my guests.
It was a terrific display of clock management in the kitchen, impressive execution even by Bill Belichick standards.
Now I’m one of those moms throwing the turkey into the oven and heading off to watch high school football. Home from college, my son will go back to BC High. The rest of the family will watch the local game and my daughter will be cheering on the sidelines. Go Blue!
This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for football, family and food. A perfect pie crust would be nice too.
Just about every job has a stereotype associated with it – that picture we create in our heads as small children that we try to alter as we grow older. Many of these images we create and foster involve the gender of those in the occupation. People think firefighter and they imagine it being a man’s job. Meanwhile, many people associate being a nurse or a teacher with being a woman. We know that these stereotypes are wrong, but we still grow up believing them.
Out of all of those generalities, however specific they are to the gender of a person, very few have to do with the actual appearance of the person. That is what makes the stereotype about women in sports journalism so incredibly frustrating. When people think about sports writers and broadcasters, they assume that they are male – sports journalism is a male-dominated profession. But if female sports journalists are mentioned there is this assumption that they must look like models.
Male sports journalists are not held up to this standard, or at least the last time I checked they were not.
My frustration was reignited earlier this week when I read an interview that Sports Illustrated conducted with Charles Barkley, a former basketball star and current sports broadcaster. For the majority of the interview Barkley discussed different basketball players, his relationship with Michael Jordan and some of the storylines that will come out of the NBA this year. That was all fine, I have no problems there. Toward the end of the interview, however, Barkley started down a slippery slope.
The interviewer asked Barkley for his opinion on sideline reporters in a broadcast. Barkley responded that he is not a fan. He does not think that asking a coach questions during halftime is a good idea because a coach has not even digested the problems that the team has had. I have no problems with this – that is a completely legitimate opinion, and it was well argued in the interview.
“That’s why I love interviews with Gregg Popovich,” the interviewer said. “He’s great television when he makes reporters uncomfortable.”
“Oh, he’s great,” Barkley responded. “But I will tell you one form of discrimination no one ever talks about regarding sideline reporters.”
“What’s that?” the reporter asked.
“If you are an ugly woman, you have no chance of getting a TV job,” Barkley said.
This would be the point in the conversation that lit a fuse inside of me, but I had not become truly frustrated.
“But if you dress like Craig Sager, you can still get hired, right?” the interviewer responded, referring to a sideline reporter known for wearing velvet suits and colorful ties as well as other unique clothing.
“Hey, I think you have to dress like Sager to get a job now. I will say this: They have hot, great-looking women on TV now. But if you are an ugly woman, you ain’t got no chance of getting a TV job.”
Good thing the interview abruptly ended there because I am pretty sure I would have become even more upset if the article continued.
Here is the problem with what Barkley said and how the interviewer reacted: Barkley referred to the situation as discrimination that what he calls “ugly” women are never hired as sideline reporters. Yet, at no point does he suggest a solution; rather, he continues to put down any prospect of a woman who is not “hot” getting a sideline job. Furthermore, the interviewer seems to take what Barkley said as a joke by bringing up Craig Sager.
“But if you are an ugly woman, you ain’t got no chance of getting a TV job.”
That last sentence needed repeating.
I did not enter into this field because I thought men would enjoy watching me talk about sports on their TV. I decided to become a sports journalist because I wanted to be the person delivering the news to people who look at sports as more than just a game. I want to be the person whose article gets clipped out of the newspaper and saved when a team wins the World Series. And 10 years later when that person finds that crinkled up piece of paper, browned with age and inevitably tattered on the edges, they will read that article one more time and remember a moment when they were truly happy.
I am not here so that you can look at me and judge my outward appearance. If that were the reason I was going into the field, I would not spend quite as much time and money on my education.
So here is what I have decided. I am not going to focus on breaking the stereotype, and I encourage other women in the sports field not to focus on it either. I think we should ignore it because I do not think we should become caught up in a battle of who is hot and who is not. Instead, let’s work on making our writing better, reporting better and leave the physical attributes behind. Then maybe, one day all of us can rest easy knowing that someone enjoyed our work because it was something we put effort into, and not because of how we appeared while we were creating it.