Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Jerry Gaines Broke a Barrier at Virginia Tech

Jerry Gaines has been a heavy lifter all his life, always willing to take on the big challenges, and he's never made decisions lightly. So when he decided to leave segregated Crestwood High in Virginia Beach, Va., to compete in track at predominantly white Churchland High in Portsmouth, Va., during the 1966-67 school year, Gaines fully considered the ramifications. He enrolled at an integrated school where his athletic prowess could be showcased, but he carried with him the heavy burden of leaving his friends behind. That burden stayed with him for decades.

The choice paid off. While his former classmates at Crestwood stayed shackled by segregation's cruel restrictions on opportunities for African-Americans, Gaines became the first African-American scholarship athlete in the history of Virginia Tech.

Click here to read Richard Lapchick's feature on ESPN.com "Jerry Gaines paved the way at Virginia Tech."

Monday, February 26, 2007

Sun Devils' Romine Enjoying Baseball--And Living

From the Phoenix East Valley Tribune:

The jersey covers his right shoulder, where two parallel surgical scars are located — a sobering reminder of how fortunate Romine is to have so much more than baseball.

After suffering from blood clots that necessitated life-threatening rib removal surgery in January 2006, the junior shortstop and second-generation Sun Devil is again ready to perform at a level that made him one of the heroes of a College World Series team in 2005.

That was just two years ago. But for Romine, it seems much longer, with a lifetime’s worth of adversity that has had to be endured.

“It’s not something you ever expect to go through,” said Romine, son of former ASU and major league infielder Kevin Romine. “Not only was I told that I would probably never play baseball again, I was told that I was lucky I woke up in the morning.“

Every day, I wake up and look in the mirror and see those scars, and I’m happy to be awake and alive.”

Click here to read "ASU's Romine enjoying game again after illness."

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Making Order Out of Chaos

Has anybody basketball coach in the nation faced a more challenging situation this season than Ron Everhart, the head man at Duquense University?

After arriving at the Pittsburgh campus in late March, Everhart had to patch together a roster with only two players returning from the 2005-06 squad that won only three games (hence the job opening that he filled). Then there was the shooting in September where five players on the team was wounded. During the season, the short roster has been sliced even thinner with injuries. To make things even more interesting, Everhart decided to change his team's system after the season started.

The Dukes will need to win the Atlantic-10 tournament to earn an NCAA bid, a highly unlikely event, but just the fact that the team has held together and won a few games (10-16 record through yesterday's games, 6-9 in the A-10) has been quite an accomplishment.

Click here to read the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article "A Season In Chaos" to learn how they've done it.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Wheat Honored for Community Service

From the official athletic website of St. Augustine's College in Raleigh, NC regarding junior tennis player Suzan Wheat:

The City of Raleigh Human Relations Commission honored Saint Augustine’s College student, Suzan Wheat for her outstanding contributions to the College, as well as her community, during
their 18 th annual awards banquet held on Thursday, February 8, 2007.

A junior Communications major, Wheat is involved in various community, political and church related activities, including serving as a tutor for Tuttles Community Center and volunteering with the Helping Hand Mission. She has appeared on NBC 17 News at Issues, where she represented Saint Augustine’s College for a show which discussed the value of attending
an Historically Black College or University, and has worked alongside the Black Caucus with Brad Thompson & Associates Public Governmental Relations Organization.

“I was very excited to have won the award because it goes to show that even as I am pursuing my degree, I can still establish myself,” Wheat said. Stating that community service has always been a part of her life, Suzan relates her involvement in the community as a way of ministering to people. “I believe the way you treat people is a form of worship.”

After graduation, Suzan hopes to attend North Carolina State University, where she plans to pursue a master’s degree in international studies. This summer, she will travel to South Africa and from January to April 2008 she will study abroad in Argentina.

Established in 1977, the City of Raleigh Human Relations Commission is composed of citizens appointed by the Raleigh City Council and charged with promoting the general wellbeing
of the citizens of Raleigh in their human and economic relationships without regard to race, color, creed, gender, age, sexual orientation or national origin. The Commission is dedicated to promoting human dignity, trust, equal opportunity, tolerance and harmony among all Raleigh citizens.

Thanks to Double-A Zone for the tip.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Benefit Show and Auction at Bowling Green

From the Bowling Green University official athletic website:

The Bowling Green State University Student-Athlete Advisory Committee will host the Falcon Variety Show and Auction on Sunday, February 25. The event will begin at 3:00 p.m. at Anderson Arena. Cost of admission is $3.00 and all proceeds will benefit Dance Marathon.

The variety show will feature ten acts staged by various BGSU student-athletes and will be followed by a student-athlete date auction. The winners of the auction will attend a group dinner date on April 1.

"The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee has been working really hard to help give back to our fellow students who support us throughout the year," said SAAC president Caroline Keating. "The Falcon Variety Show and Auction will allow the community to see a different side of BGSU Student-Athletes. We are really looking forward to a great turn out and being able to give a big donation to Dance Marathon!"

The student-athlete advisory committee is comprised of one representative from each team to serve as leadership group that encourages unity and camaraderie between teams and among all student-athletes. The Student Athlete Advisory Committee at Bowling Green State University strives to be the primary link between student athletes and administration to enhance the experience of all student-athletes. For more information on SAAC click HERE.

Dance Marathon is an annual 32-hour fundraising event in support of the Children's Miracle Network. Since its inception in 1995, DM has raised more than $1.3 million to care for the miracle children who suffer from terminal illnesses, acute diseases, birth defects and severe trauma. With more than 2,000 BGSU students from some 70 student organizations, this is the third largest CMN Dance Marathon in the United States and the largest student-run philanthropy in Ohio.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Eustachy Better After A Timeout

"I'm proud to say, April 23 with the grace of God it will be four years that I haven't had a drink, and that has changed my life."

That's the new approach to life taken by Larry Eustachy, the head men's basketball coach at Southern Mississippi. He was a rising star in the coaching fraternity after leading Iowa State to the Elite Eight in the 2000 NCAA Tournament, an accomplishment that earned him a National Coach of the Year award.

He bottomed out in 2003, losing his job and his marriage after photos of him partying with students at the University of Missouri the night after a game surfaced. He found himself in Hattiesburg, Mississippi trying to ressurrect his career. Fortunately, he seems to be on the right track.

Click here to read more about Eustachy's recovery in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's article "Better after his timeout."

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

National Football Foundation Will Award over $800,000 in Scholarships

More than 100 banquets throughout the country will honor high school and college football scholar-athletes during the 2006-2007 chapter banquet season, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) announced today.

“The scholar-athlete banquet season highlights the best of the NFF’s mission in promoting this great game of football,” said NFF President Steven J. Hatchell. “These scholar-athletes are examples to their peers, having applied the same traits from the football field - discipline, teamwork, accountability - to all aspects of their life.”

The NFF’s chapter network, spread across 120 regions in 47 states, annually recognizes over 3,000 high school and college football student-athletes while awarding $800,000 in scholarships at the local banquets. More than 33,000 people will attend an NFF banquet this year, and they will witness the best of the gridiron being honored for their outstanding achievement on the field, in the classroom and as leaders in their communities. Many chapter banquets will also pay tribute to notable individuals from their local communities, bestowing Distinguished American Awards, Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Awards and Outstanding Football Official Awards. The all-time amount raised and disbursed by the chapters will approach $11 million this year.

Click here to read the rest of the press release from the NFF.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Copeland Hustles His Way Into Playing Time for the 'Canes

Keaton Copeland has accomplished something few walk-ons do in the ACC; earned playing time.

According to Head Coach Frank Haith, "He practices hard and gives you everything he has," Haith said. "He gets his stuff done on effort and if you could put that into some of our other guys they'd be amazing. He's not athletically blessed, but the message I wanted to send to our guys is that if you play hard like Keaton you will play."

Copeland also hustles off the court. He was accepted into Harvard but chose to stay close to home where he has already earned degree in electrical engineering. In his spare time, he will help put together a basketball camp this summer.

Click here to read to read "Ex-Flannigan captain Copeland rewarded for hustle, intensity" from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Yale Captain Has More On Her Mind Than Hockey

Kristin Savard is a senior at Yale who is co-captain of the women's ice hockey team and majors in political science. Her education has broadened her perspective beyond this nation's borders. Savard has found an organization called "Teaming Up" to raise funds to help mothers in developing nations of Africa and Asia.

She can play a little bit of hockey too. Savard has helped lead Yale's team to the winning three-year period in the history of the program.

Click here to read about how Savard balances all of this and her plans for expanding "Teaming Up" in the Hartford Courant article "Yale Captain Has Off-Ice Goals, Too."

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Good News Coaching Couples

This article from USA Today, as a tie in to Valentine's Day, features several couples who are both college coaches .

Couples from Lehigh, Indiana, Louisiana-Lafayette, UCLA, and Missouri are featured.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Pittman a Big Loser--And Loving It

To say David Pittman was a big man on campus as a high school senior last season it putting it mildly. The 6' 10" men's basketball star weighed in at a staggering 388 pounds. He could get away with wearing a size 52 waist pants in high school, but that wasn't going to cut it at the University of Texas. Since arriving at Austin, Pittman has lost 93 pounds and now proudly wears a size 40 pants. As his waist has shrunk, his playing time has steadily increased.

Click here to read more about David Pittman in the story from the UT student newspaper "The Daily Texan" courtesy of the USCHO website.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Mixing Love and Sports

It can work....sometimes. ESPN.com, in celebration of Valentines Day, has a story showing various situations where love and sports have cometogether and everyone involved lived happily ever after. These stories are a mix of college and pro fans. A couple of the college stories are about:

Meeting your true love at the Final Four

Finding romance at a football tailgate party

A wedding at the Horseshoe at Ohio State University where Brutus the Buckeye was an honored guest at the reception and the bridal party was nattily attired in scarlet.

There's more good stuff in the article.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Different Kind of Swimming Story

When you read a story about a successful NCAA swimming program, you seldom see the words Minnesota or Croatia mentioned, and almost never both in the same story.

Here is that story, courtesy of the NCAA's official website:

Four years ago, three childhood friends from Zagreb, Croatia, landed at the University of Minnesota with dreams of getting a top education and swimming for one of the nation’s best programs.

Now as seniors for the tenth-ranked Gophers, the trio of Igor Cerensek, Mario Delac and Ales Volcansek have combined for 21 All-America honors and are scheduled to graduate in May.

Click here to read the rest of the release from the NCAA.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Sutton Bouncing Back From Guillian-Barre

Tennessee Tech's men's basketball team doesn't need to look very far for inspiration. All they need to do is turn toward their bench and catch a glimpse of Head Coach Mike Sutton. The winner of the USBWA Most Courageous Award, Sutton was near death in April 2005. He nearly succumbed to the effects of Guillian-Barre syndrome and is still partially paralyzed. Sutton uses a motorized wheelchair to coach from the sidelines and is gradually moving into using a walker.

Is Sutton getting the job done? The school recently gave him a contract extension through 2010-11.

Click here to read Andy Katz's article on Mike Sutton courtesy of Tennessee Tech's official athletics web site.

Thanks to NCAA Hoops Today for the tip.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Abernethy Does it all for Ole' Miss

Leading the Rebels men's basketball team to surprising success this season is only part of what Todd Abernethy is accomplishing. This release from the Mississippi official athletic site:

In addition to leading the Ole Miss basketball team to its best season in five years, Todd Abernethy is also doing his fair share of good work off the court, earning academic honors and continuing his charitable service in the community.

For the second straight year, Abernethy was named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VI team today, which is voted on by the College Sports Information Directors of America. His name will now be added to the ballot for Academic All-America. The senior banking and finance major is a three-time SEC Academic Honor Roll recipient.

Abernethy is also a member of the SEC Good Works Team and will be speaking to the Oxford Boys & Girls Club on Friday. The Carmel, Ind., native routinely talks to churches and civic groups and is an active leader in Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Abernethy has taken part in numerous fundraisers and participated in mission trips to Brazil and Bermuda.

Abernethy's Rebels could earn a share of the SEC Western Division lead and secure their first winning season since 2001-02 against No. 18 Alabama in Oxford Saturday at 4 p.m. CT. Abernethy is the conference leader in assist/turnover ratio (3.19) and ranks third in assists per game (5.5), in addition to averaging 14.1 points in league play.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Suits and Sneakers Awareness Weekend

We all hear about the huge amount of money big-time college basketball coaches make, but here's just one example of how they give back to their communities. This from the American Cancer Society website.

Held the second weekend in February each year, Suits and Sneakers is a national event that is designed to raise awareness about Coaches vs. Cancer and the importance of cancer prevention and early detection. Coaches and coaching staff are encouraged to wear sneakers with their suits while coaching games during this weekend to remind college basketball audiences about the many ways people can reduce their risk of cancer, like eating right, exercising, making healthy lifestyle choices, and following the American Cancer Society's recommended cancer screening guidelines. The event is promoted by the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the American Cancer Society, generating coverage on televised games and in arenas across the country. This year, Suits and Sneakers will be held February 9-11, 2007.

Referees also participate in this initiative, donating part of their game fees to the American Cancer Society.

Thanks to my friend at NCAA Hoops Today for yet another tip and his support of this site.

Getting Back on the Field to Help the Healing

When you suffer the loss of a loved one, getting back on the field and working at the sport you love can be a critical part of moving on with life.

Thats what University of Charlotte softball player Christy Murray is doing right now after she watched her boyfriend, Tampa Bay Devil Rays prospect Erik Walker, drown on October 21.

This story on ESPN.com tells how extended family and friends are so important to healing from a devastating loss and helping someone as young as Murray realize she still has most of her life ahead of her.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Binghamton Wrestling Has Big-Time Hollywood Support

Sometimes support for an athletic program can come from an unlikely source. That's the case with Binghamton University's wrestling team. The sport was discontinued for the 2004-05 season but brought back in 05-06 thanks to an effort led by actor William Baldwin, an alum of the school and a former wrestler there. Baldwin hasn't just lent his name to the program, he has supported them in person by attending several of their meets.

Click here to read the ESPN.com story about the revival of Binghamton wrestling.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Putting His Money Where His Heart Is

We read stories about the thousands and even millions of dollars boosters gives to schools, often at least partially movitaved by the perks and influence that come along with the gifts.

Here's a story, though, of a man who ponied up some big bucks to help his school with no realistic expectation of receiving perks or gaining influence. William Graham, an alum of Bucknell, gave the school $5.6 million in 2002 to restart the wrestling program it had shut down. His gift also went toward helping the women's crew team and putting artificial turf on the field hockey field.

No Final Four tickets to be had there.

Click here to read more about Graham's give in the USA Today story, "Bucknell makes most of multi-million dollar pledge.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Winning Against An Opponent He Couldn't Even Pronounce

Al Johnson earned a promotion over the summer. Texas A&M head basketball coach move him up from video coordinator to assistant coach.

Then Johnson got sick.

It's been a tough fight against a rare autoimmune disease called dermatomyositis (pronounced der-mat-o-my-o-sie-tis), which inflames tissue throughout the body. He's back working on a limited basis and hopes for a full recovery.

Click here to read the story of how everyone in the Texas A&M family rallied around their sick coach and how he has, in return, inspired them.

Thanks to NCAA Hoops Today for the tip.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Good News From the Super Bowl

I usually stick to college sports here, but it's also hard to do a sports blog and ignore the single biggest sporting event in the United States, especially when I found two good stories that fit the good news theme.

First, I was really happy to see Tony Dungy reach the pinnacle of his profession. From everything I've ever read or heard, Dungy is one of the truly good people in sports at any level. Here is an article from The Christian Post that tells how his faith has led him to success and peace in his life.

If you watched the post-game, you noticed that the Colts players and coaches donned "Super Bowl Champion" caps and t-shirts immediately after the game. In order for that to happen, there were also "Chicago Bears, Super Bowl XLI Champions" t-shirts made up. Have you ever wondered what happens to those after the game? It turns out they are donated to World Vision and shipped overseas.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Favre Not the Only Fixture in Green Bay

Nicole Soulis and Natalie Berglin are finishing up successful careers with the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay women's basketball team, but their paths crossed long before they both donned the Phoenix's uniforms.

Soulis and Berglin, both Green Bay natives, first hooked up as teammates in the eighth grade, then competed against each other in high school but often played together during the summer. It appears their careers will end with a third NCAA appearance in their four years with the Phoenix.

Click here to read about the bond these young ladies have formed with each other and their city in the ESPN.com story "Longtime teammates helping Phoenix soar."

Friday, February 02, 2007

"Doc" Bowser Has the Heart for Coaching

People often use their connections with others they have crossed paths with to move into coaching positions, but this one is unique. Michael "Doc" Bowser made his connection by performing a heart procedure on the father of Cazenovia College's head basketball coach. Years later the coach, Todd Widrick, asked Bowser to join his staff as a volunteer assistant. Three years later, at the age of 59, Bowser's transition from cardiologist to basketball coach was complete when he took over Widrick's job.

Click here to read "Doc" on the NCAA's official website and learn how Bowser made this transition and how it's working out for him now.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Classic Good News: Making Things Better On and Off the Court

Peter Roby weas a successful basketball player at Dartmouth, but he was only beginning to make an impact in the sports world. He became the head coach at Harvard at the young age of 28.

Today, Roby works as the director of Northeastern University's Center for the Study of Sport in Society, where he continues to use sport as a means for impacting lives. As director of what he describes as "a social justice organization that uses sport to create change," Roby runs a staff of former collegiate, professional, and Olympic athletes trained to work with America's youth in dealing with issues of diversity, conflict resolution and violence prevention.

Click here to read The Ivy League's "Ivy at 50" story about Peter Roby and how he is working to be a positive force in the world of sports and in young people's lives.