Saturday, December 30, 2006

Taking Playing In Pain to a New Level

J. J. Milan, a senior defensive end for the Nevada Wolf Pack, leads his team in sacks. That's pretty good for a player who was told less than two years ago that a foot injury would keep him from ever playing football again.

From the story in the Miami Herald:

Milan had big plans for the 2005 season, but they ended on the final day of spring practice when he sustained a Liz Frank fracture in his foot when a teammate fell on the back of it while Milan was falling forward.

The foot had ripped tendons and cartilage was completely torn off the joint that holds his big toe and pinkie toe together. Three months later, when doctors took a look at the foot again, they told Milan to start looking into a new career.

''The X-rays of my foot looked like a jigsaw puzzle,'' Milan said. ``Doctors told my mom I'd never play again and that I was going to have arthritic pain the rest of my life.''

Seven screws, a bone graft from his shin and three reconstructive surgeries are holding together the right foot of the Western Athletic Conference's leader in sacks. But what allows him to ignore the pain is his drive to play the game he loves.

Click here to read more about this remarkable story of preserverance.

Friday, December 29, 2006

A Father Who Is ALWAYS There For His Son

Travis Gottschalk is a wrestler for South Dakota State. He has posted an unspectacular record of 45-65 during his career, but has never missed a match.

Neither has Travis' father Scott, who estimates he has travelled over 70,000 during Travis' collegiate career to take in his matches.

Scott told his son, "As long as you can put this kind of effort into it, the least I can do as your dad is be your No. 1 fan."

Click here to read about this wonderful father-son bond in's story "Father-son bond deepened over 70,000 miles.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Delivering the Mail, On and Off the Court

Karl Malone had the nickname "The Mailman" when he played at Louisiana Tech and the Utah Jazz, but Dana John literally IS a mailman. He's also the leading scorer (17.7 points per game) for the New Jersey City University basketball team.

This mailman gig is not part-time job. John works a regular 12-8 AM shift to support his three- year-old son. The 26-year old also didn't play high school basketball, chosing instead to work a part-time job to help with his family's finances.

Gothic Knights' coach Charles Brown said about John "What’s nice about Dana is that he never asks for a day off,” said Brown. “He never says he’s tired or needs to do something – and I would give him time off in a minute. He always fulfills his responsibilities, and he’s one of the nicest young men that I’ve had the opportunity to coach. I have a lot of respect for him.”

A lot of today's prima-donna big-time athletes could learn a thing or three from Dana John.

Click here to read "Hard work paying off" on the NCAA's official website.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

"Heroes Among Us" at Iowa Basketball Games"

The University of Iowa has a wonderful program to recognize special people in the Iowa City community. Called "Heroes Among Us," fans are nominated by neighbors, co-workers, or family members for extraordinary contributions to their community.

Here is a link to Iowa's official athletic website where you can read the nominations of people selected to be a "Hero Among Us."

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

"I Came Here To Get Somewhere"

That's a quote from Brandeis University (Waltham, Mass.) basketball player Florian Rexhepi.

You'll read here about young men and women who come from rough neighborhoods, but Rexhepi literally came from a war zone: Skopje, Macedonia. He lost his grandmother when a bomb hit the bus she was riding in Kosovo in 1999.

"Where I come from, kids aren't concentrating on school," says Rexhepi, whose English has only the slightest hint of an accent. "There's a lot of drugs, alcohol and partying. It seems not a lot of people there see their future as school. For me, basketball kept me away from other things."

Rexhepi in in the Judges' starting lineup and averages over eight points per game.

Click here to read more about Rexhepi on the Brandeis official athletic site.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Instead of Throwing It All Away, Brennan Now Throwing for Records

Colt Brennan, the quarterback for the University of Hawaii, is on the verge of setting several passing records in the Warriors' upcoming bowl game.

It appeared he had thrown away any chance for success on January 28, 2004, when, during his freshman year at the University of Colorado, he entered a coed's dorm room uninvited. That eventually led to him spending seven days in prison and even longer in college football purgatory.

Brennan was kicked off the Colorado football team and had a hard time finding any other schools willing to give him an opportunity to play. Hawaii Coach June Jones gave him a shot, requiring him to start out as a walk-on.

The result will be a few lines in the NCAA Record Book with Brennan's name on them.

Click here to read Mark Schlabach's column on Brennan's trials and tribulations and his ongoing redemption.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Husker Family Christmas

That's what the University of Nebraska football team treated more than 60 kids from the Lincoln, Nebraska YMCA Community Learning Center to last week.

The kids had the opportunity to watch the last part of a practice, then take the field themselves and play. The coaches and players also shared a Christmas meal with the youngsters, and each child received a gift personally chosen and paid for by one of the players. After the meal, everyone got together and sang Christmas carols. The football coaches and other athletic department staff got together to make a cash contribution to the YMCA's scholarship program.

Merry Christmas to the Huskers and the kids their selfless donation of time and money touched this holiday season.

Click here to read the official release from the Nebraska official athletic site.

Friday, December 22, 2006

True Heroes at American International College

This story is a bit old but worth posting here because you probably didn't hear about it.

There is a lot of hype in the sports world about "heroic" performances by athletes, but here is a story of two true heroes.

Christopher Bolognino and Matthew Tourville, two hockey players at American International College in Springfield, Mass., didn't plan on being heroes when they crashed at Bolognino's apartment on a Saturday night. When they woke up Sunday morning, however, and returned to Tourville's apartment, they saw that the building was on fire. Both men reacted quickly and saved lives by alerting the sleeping residents and helping them to safety.

Click here to read "Actions in fire likely saved lives" from the Springfield, MA Republican newspaper.

Of course, if these players had actually set the building on fire, chances are you may have heard about THAT story. That's why this blog is here.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Grobe Wins AP Coach of the Year

There were some unlikely success stories in college football this season, but none better than Wake Forest's shocking ascencion to the ACC championship. Head coach Jim Grobe, already known as one of the good guys, was honored by the Associated Press as their choice for National Coach of the Year.

Click here to read the AP story on Wake Forest's official web site.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Holiday Cheer at Monmouth University

Nearly 65 Monmouth University student-athletes brought holiday cheer and gifts to a special group of children at The LADACIN Network in Ocean Township, NJ last week. The LADACIN Network provides education, therapy, social, residential, and support services for people with cerebral palsy and other physical disabilities.

The participants were members of the Monmouth Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (MSAAC). "The word seems to have spread among the student-athletes that sharing their generosity with LADACIN is a great way to initiate the holiday and a welcome break from preparation for finals,” said Jennifer Thomas, Associate Athletics Director for Compliance and MSAAC’s advisor. “It was, as always, a fun and memorable morning,” added Thomas."

As often happens, those who gave got even more out of the experience than those they were helping.

Click here to read the full release on the Monmouth University official athletic site.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Scoring Points For Charity

Normally I stick to college stories, but Buddy over at the Sports Pulse sent me a link to this story and it was just too good to pass up:

Every time Ahmad Hassan makes a basket for Leonia High School this season, he'll be contributing to more than his team's point total: The 18-year-old has set up a charity that scores cash for Palestinian children and Hurricane Katrina victims whenever its founder hits a one-, two- or three-pointer.

Click here to read the rest of the report in New York's Newsday

Monday, December 18, 2006

Taking the Long Way to DI

Here's a resume for you: Growing up seeing neighborhood friends getting shot, spending time in jail, failing to earn a high school diploma, and not seriously playing organized basketball until the age of 22.

Hardly the path one would expect to take and wind up playing Division I men's basketball, yet amazingly that's some of what Ryan McBride experienced on his way to playing 25 minutes a game for the Georgia State men's basketball team this season.

Click here to read McBride's story in the Georgia State student newspaper, The Signal.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Finding Solace on the Basketball Court

To say that Jermareo Davidson has had a rough few weeks hardly does justice to what he has lived through.

On Nov. 7, his brother, DeWayne Watkins, was shot in the neck by an unknown assailant in Norcross. Watkins, 27, remains in Grady Hospital, paralyzed from the neck down and on a ventilator.

Five days later, Davidson and his girlfriend, Nicki Murphy of Florence, Ala., were involved in a car accident on I-20 near Moreland Avenue after leaving Watkins' side. Murphy, the driver, died. Davidson and another friend walked away.

The star forward on the University of Alabama's basketball team has developed a coping mechanism. When he feels the anguish, I'd go get a basketball."

Click here to read the Atlanta Journal-Constitution story: "Finding Solace on the Court"

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Clemson's Anthony Waters Follows a Different Path

Clemson linebacker Anthony Waters is close to becoming the first member of his family to earn a college degree. This kind of story is always nice to hear, but it is particularly remarkable because Waters' two older brothers followed a much different path. The oldest, Travis, is serving a life sentence in prison for committing a murder during an armed robbery. Cody, the middle brother, is awaiting trial for alleged murder.

What was Anthony's inspiration for taking his life in a more positive direction? It was the weekly letters his brother Travis writes to Anthony from his prison cell.

Click here to read "Waters gets his strength at home" from The State newspaper in Columbia, SC.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Washington's DuRocher Boucing Back From Brain Surgery

Johnny DuRocher, a qurterback at the University of Washington, is doing well after his recent brain surgery to remove a tumor. DuRocher suffered a concussion in a game against Stanford earlier this season, and that blow may have saved his life. The CAT scan doctors performed afterward led to the discovery of DuRocher's tumor.

He is preparing to try out for the Huskies' baseball team when practice starts on January 15, and doctors are telling him that there is a chance he might even play football again.

It is obvious this young man doesn't give in to adversity very easily and bears watching down the road.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Clemson's McElrathbey Wins FedEx Orange Bowl Courage Award

Here is the press release from the Football Writers Association of America:

Clemson defensive back/wide receiver Ray Ray McElrathbey is the winner of the 2006 FedEx Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award, which is annually given to a player, coach or support person in college football who displays courage, on or off the field.

McElrathbey, a redshirt freshman, saw most of his action on special teams this season. But he has undertaken the responsibility of caring for his 11-year-old brother, Fahmarr (now 12).
Ray Ray and Fahmarr's mother has a cocaine addiction; their father has a gambling addiction. The brothers' home life in Atlanta was not stable and both had spent time in foster care.
Ray Ray obtained temporary custody of Fahmarr and planned to support him with Pell grants, odd jobs and the monthly stipend for living off-campus.

After news of Ray Ray McElrathbey's situation was publicized, Clemson sought a waiver to allow a trust fund that would help McElrathbey care for his brother. The NCAA granted the waiver within 48 hours, citing the unique circumstances.

Also because of the waiver, Clemson coaches' families are allowed to help Ray Ray care for Fahmarr when it comes to transportation to and from school and other basic needs.
Ray Ray told The New York Times the NCAA's decision "lifted a little weight from my shoulders." But Clemson coach Tommy Bowden, among others, noted the heavy burden of responsibility Ray Ray had shouldered.

"I could not fathom a 19-year-old freshman being a father, going to school and playing college football," Clemson coach Tommy Bowden said. "I could not imagine at that age handling all the responsibilities that Ray Ray has done this year.

"It has been quite a story because I see the players, coaches and their families doing what they can to help Ray Ray and Fahmarr.

"Ray Ray is very deserving of this award from the Football Writers Association of America and the FedEx Orange Bowl."

Following the Tigers' bowl game, McElrathbey plans to be at the FedEx Orange Bowl, where he will be presented the Courage Award Trophy and will receive a donation from the Orange Bowl Foundation for the Fahmarr McElrathbey Trust.

McElrathbey was the team's special teams player of the week after recording four tackle

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Charles Green Leads His Teammates And His Family

Charles Green has just finished up his college football career at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. He led the Reddies in tackles from his linebacker position in his senior season and is on track to graduate in May with a Bachelor of Arts in graphic design.

His success on the field and in the classroom is due in part to growing up at an early age. Green's father was seriously injured when Charles was only eight years old, but he quickly became the man of the house and a source of strength to his brothers. No doubt he was able to draw the strength he needed from his faith in God.

Click here to read the profile on Charles Green in the Henderson State student newspaper, the Oracle.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Three Times the Fun for the Frazee Triplets

If you are watching a Liberty University women's basketball game, you'll probably notice that the players wearing numbers 40, 41, and 42 look a lot alike. They should because they are triplets and are all important members of the Lady Flames' team.

Interestingly, they have different personalities and different games, which makes it an easy fit when all three sisters, Megan, Molly, and Moriah are on the court at the same time, which they often are.

Molly says, "People tend to lump us together when they first meet us … ut after a while they can't believe they thought we even looked alike. Megan is the athletic one who basketball came the easiest to. Moriah is the most talkative and people say I'm the more quiet one. ”

Click here to read the story about the Frazee triplets.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Georgia Tech Completes Sixth Annual Toy Drive

Members of the Georgia Tech athletics teams recently completed the sixth annual Michael Isenhour Toy Drive, and it was a big success.

After gathering toys at a women's basketball game, the athletes had collected over $6,000 and 1,500 toys. This is an effort they have been working on since October.

Former Yellow Jacket basketball player Michael Isenhour had the original idea for the toy drive back in 2001 to help out families of 9/11 victims. Isenhour lost his battle with leukemia in 2002 and passed away, and the toy drive was renamed in his honor. Since the initial effort in 2001, Tech athletes have collected more than 10,000 toys that have gone to kids in the Atlanta area.

Click here to read the full release on the official Georgia Tech athletic site.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Maryland Student-Athletes Competing For the Community

Let's face it, most college athletes aren't going to making a living in their sports. The satisfaction they gain is from the competition. At the University of Maryland, they have come up with a way to channel that competitive spirit that is truly a win-win proposition.

Terps sports teams compete for CHAMPS points earned by community service, and the cheerleading squad is winning in a blowout.

Click here to read, "Competitive Cheer Leads in Performing Community Service"

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Another Important Award for Ohio State Football

No, not THAT award. Buckeye QB Troy Smith will no doubt walk away with the Heisman Trophy Saturday, but one his teammates has been honored with a different award.

Senior defensive tackle Joel Penton is the recipient of the 2006 Wuerffel Trophy, presented by the All Sports Association of Fort Walton Beach, Florida. This award represents the association's choice for the college football player who best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement.

Click here to read about what Penton did to earn this recognition on Ohio State's official web site.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Freezing Their Speedos Off on "Toy Lift"

Yes, that's what University of Virginia women's basketball head coach Debbie Ryan and sports director of Charlottesville's WINA Radio Jed Williams did on December 8th. They participated in Charlottesville's annual Toy Lift, an event that collects toys and raises money to buy new toys for local kids.

Williams raised pledges during his radio program, "The Best Seat In The House" totalling $5,160 that will be earmarked to buy somewhere between 300-400 bikes for kids in the Charlottesville area. All he and Coach Ryan had to do is strip down to their Speedos in 21 degree weather and allow themselves to be hoisted up 80 feet in a bucket truck for all the world to see.

Click here to read the entire release from the UVa official website. Check out the photo gallery if you dare.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Brian Leonard Claims the Draddy Trophy

Brian Leonard, the standout fullback from Rutgers, became the 17th recipient of the Draddy Trophy, presented by HealthSouth, at The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame’s 49th Annual Awards Dinner in New York City tonight.

Known in many circles as the "Academic" Heisman, the Draddy Trophy continues to be one of college football's most sought after and competitive awards, recognizing an individual as the absolute best in the country for his combined academic success, football performance and exemplary community leadership. The award comes with a stunning 24-inch, 25-pound bronze trophy and a $25,000 postgraduate scholarship. A total of $320,000 was awarded to Leonard and the other 16Draddy Trophy Finalists, who each claimed $18,000 scholarships.

Click here to read the rest of the release from the National Football Foundation.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Taking Time Out for the Important Stuff

Over 400 student-athletes gather in Pensacola, Florida for the NCAA Division II National Championship Festival took time out from the competition to help those less fortunate.

They participated in a home-building project with Habitat for Humanity and helped build six homes in the Pensacola area to replace ones damaged by hurricanes.

Click here to read "Division II nails down support for Habitat"

Monday, December 04, 2006

Sportsmanship at the Highest Level

During the ACC championship game on Saturday, Georgia Tech's football team showed some outstanding sportsmanship toward Wake Forest's defensive star Jon Abbate:

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Then came the beginning of the fourth quarter, the time each game when Abbate's throat tightens. Wake players and fans pay tribute to Abbate's late brother, Luke, who was killed last Valentine's Day in an auto accident while coming home from Harrison lacrosse practice. They all hold up five fingers to commemorate the No. 5 Luke wore as a Harrison football player —- and the number Jon wears now. It's also the number of organs donated after the accident that helped five other people.

Only this time, an opponent joined in, the Tech players and fans all holding up five fingers as the teams switched sides of the field to begin the final quarter. "We wanted to pay respects to an Atlanta guy," said Tech linebacker KaMichael Hall. "There are some things more important than winning or losing a game. I can't imagine losing a little brother like that."

Good job by the Yellow Jackets. Even though they lost the game, they get it.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

"Marcus Hamilton: Guided By Faith"

For the past three years, Marcus Hamilton has been the rock in the Virginia defensive backfield. While it would be easy to view Hamilton as strictly a football player, the senior cornerback sees himself as something more, a servant of God.

"As I've grown older, I've understood the importance in having a faith and having something that you believe so strongly about that it alters everything else in your life," Hamilton said. "No matter what you do on the football field, God is still going to love you the same."

Click here to read the entire story from the University of Virginia official website.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Allen Patrick Perseveres to Star for the Sooners

When he was in high school in Conway, South Carolina, everyone know Allen Patrick was a stud running back. What they did not know was whether he would have the grades to gain admission into college and even then if he could stay elligible.

Patrick made it into Oklahoma and has done more than stay elligible. When the Sooners' star running back broke his collarbone on a dive into the end zone earlier this year, Coach Bob Stoops gave the ball to Allen Patrick, and he hasn't looked back since.

Through hard work, his faith in Jesus Christ, and opportunity presenting itself, Patrick found himself in the starting lineup when Oklahoma took the field to play Nebraska for the Big 12 Championship tonight.

Click here to read about his journey from Conway to Norman, Oklahoma.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Hoops For Hope At NC State

On Sunday, January 28, the NC State Women's basketball team will host Boston College in a game being played for a special cause. Called "Hoops for Hope," this event will raise money for the local affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Each ticket sold for the game at historic Reynolds Coliseum will be worth $5 to the foundation.

Of course, breast cancer is a subject too near and dear to the Wolfpack faithful. Women's coach Kay Yow is a survivor herself who was first diagnosed in 1987 and and suffered a recurrance two years ago. Unfortunately, Coach Yow is again trying to beat back breast cancer and is currently on a leave of absence while she undergoes chemotherapy and other treatment.

Coach Yow is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame who coached the 1988 Gold Medal women's hoops team in the Summer Olympics. Please join me in praying for her return to health and the Wolfpack bench, and consider supporting Yow, her team, and others who are dealing with this disease.