Saturday, March 31, 2007

Classic Good News: Princeton's Martin Eichelberger

If Martin Eichelberger was only known for his athletic accomplishments at Princeton, that would be a good resume. He was all-Ivy League football and lacrosse player and, in 1967, led the Tigers to their last Ivy title in lacrosse until 1992.

Eichelberger, now a pediatric surgeon, founded Safe Kids Worldwide, an organization devoted to reducing unintentional childhood injury. It has promoted numerous safety initiatives, ranging from promoting car child safety seat use to sports injury reduction. Since its founding in 1987 the United States has experienced a 45 percent reduction in fatalities from childhood accidents, and Safe Kids can claim much of the credit for this reduction.

As Chairman Eichelberger has raised more than $80 million for Safe Kids, testified before Congress, and made dozens of media appearances. Safe Kids Worldwide now comprises more than 600 grassroots organizations in all 50 states and 16 countries.

Click here to read about Dr. Eichelberger's journey from star athlete to a world leader in the efforts to keep kids safe in this installment from the Ivy at 50 series.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Arkansas State Athletes Host Annual Senior Citizen Prom

From the Arkansas State official athletics website: The press release was previewing the event, which happened yesterday.

The Arkansas State University Student-Athlete Advisory Committee is proud to announce its 3rd Annual Senior Citizen Prom - Masquerade Theme will be held on Thursday, March 29, at the Convocation Center from 5:00-7:00 p.m.

Senior citizens are encouraged to come out and dance to the smooth sounds of the ASU Jazz Band from 5:00-6:00 p.m., show off their artistic ability by making masquerade masks and interact with ASU student-athletes. Bingo will get underway at 6:00 p.m. The evening will conclude with the crowning of the 2007 King and Queen.

“The Senior Citizen Prom has grown tremendously in just two years,” said ASU Associate Athletic Director Melanie Richardson. “The first year we had about 75 seniors, last year there were over 200 seniors and this year we are expecting 300-plus seniors from around the Jonesboro area to attend the prom. ASU’s student-athletes would like this event to be the premier event for senior citizens living in the Jonesboro community. The prom has been a big success and we are constantly looking for ways to improve the experience for our student-athletes and their guests.”

To accommodate the growing number of participants, the prom will be held at the Convocation Center in Jonesboro, Ark. Guests may enter through the yellow entrance and admission is free for all seniors 55 years and older. Hors d’oeuvres will be served.

How great is this? Way to go Indians.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Book Review: "Cinderella: Inside the Rise of Mid-Major College Basketball:

They say timing is everything, and Michael Litos’ timing couldn’t have been better when he embarked on a project to chronicle a season in mid-major D1 college men’s basketball. The inspiration came to Litos while he was sailing on a 42-foot catamaran in the Caribbean, which is where I usually get most of my good ideas.

Following one of the cardinal rules of writing, Litos stuck to what he knew; the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) in his book “Cinderella: Inside the Rise of Mid-Major College Basketball” (Sourcebooks, Inc; 2007, 275 pp.).

Click here to read the rest of the review on my home page, The CourtMaster Rules on College Sports.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Women's Hoops Also Pitches In to Help Habitat for Humanity

I recently posted a story about athletes at Tulane University helping out with a Habitat for Humanity project in New Orleans in conjunction with the men's NCAA basketball tournament being in town. Not to be outdone, the NCAA is also lending a hand in Cleveland for a similar project tied in with the upcoming women's Final Four.

More than 60 volunteers will participate in the construction of the house in Cleveland. The NCAA and members of the women’s basketball community, including Division I women’s basketball alumni, conference coordinators of officials and the WBCA have joined together for the build. Expected to participate alongside student, NCAA and community volunteers are coaches from Auburn University, Boston College, DePaul University, University Notre Dame and Rutgers University.

“Our women’s basketball community is pleased to have the opportunity to leave a footprint and legacy behind in Cleveland,” said Sue Donohoe, NCAA vice president for Division I women’s basketball. “This is a meaningful project for all those involved and we hope by our involvement, we will make a difference in the lives of a family in the city that is serving as our host.”

Click here to read the release on the NCAA's official website.

As another tie-in, you can bid on a mini Fender guitar (think Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) decorated in the Women's Final Four logo that will be signed by the head coaches from all the participating teams. All proceeds will go to Habitat for Humanity.

Click here to check it out and place a bid.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Cameron U Athletes Pitch In On "Extreme Makeover"

ABC's television show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" recently visited Lawton, Oklahoma, the home of Cameron University, and the school's athletic teams lent a hand.

The project was for the benefit of the local Westbrook family:

The Westbrook Family had suffered through two crippling injuries and was in need of something positive. Mr. Westbrook had served our country overseas, but had lost the use of his legs when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Upon his return home to Oklahoma, the family was involved in a car accident leaving one of the Westbrook sons without the use of his legs, just like his father. Such tragic events are always hard to hear of, so think what it must be like to live through. No family deserves that.

One group of volunteers who worked their hearts out to provide the best for the Westbrook Family, was the Cameron University Athletic Department and their numerous student-athletes, coaches, and administrators. The Cameron Aggies compete at the Division II level in ten intercollegiate sports (baseball, softball, volleyball (women’s), cross country (men’s), and men’s and women’s basketball, tennis, and golf) and each squad represented CU and the City of Lawton by helping out at the Extreme Makeover site.

“Part of our responsibility to our student-athletes and to our community is to give something back,” Cameron Athletic Director Jim Jackson said. “By teaching our student-athletes the importance of community, they will have a better foundation and will hopefully get involved (in their community) wherever they go once they leave Cameron.”

Click here to read more about the project and the athletic department's deep committment to community service on the Cameron official athletic website.

Thanks to Double-A Zone for the tip.

Monday, March 26, 2007

National Football Foundation Launches New Program

The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) announced today the establishment of three fellowships with Play It Smart, the NFF’s highly successful youth development program that has changed the lives of thousands of at-risk student-athletes over the last nine years.

“In establishing these fellowships, the NFF will further strengthen its ties to the college community,” said NFF President Steven J. Hatchell. “Each year, we will select the best and the brightest from the college ranks, providing them with a dynamic opportunity to develop their skills in the world of sports business and philanthropy. It’s a program that we take great pride in launching, and we know that these positions will quickly become some of the most sought-after and coveted in all of sports for launching a career.”

A two-year post-graduate commitment, The NFF Play It Smart Fellowship Program will prepare participants for leadership positions in their chosen fields. Fellows will enhance their professional skills as they gain first hand experience carrying out Play It Smart’s mission of helping student-athletes take responsibility for their futures. Launched in 1998, more than 20,000 student-athletes in 85 cities have benefited from Play It Smart over the past nine years. Play It Smart fulfills its mission by financing the hiring and training of Academic Coaches who work with high schools in underserved communities.

Click here to read more about this program and the Play It Smart program.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

March Madness Not Confined to Division I

If you don't believe that, you should have seen yesterday's Division II national championship game between Barton College and defending champion Winona State, who came into the game with an old-school UCLA-like 57-game winning streak.

From the AP game story:

Anthony Atkinson scored 10 points in the final 39 seconds, including a layup at the buzzer, to give Barton College its first NCAA Division II title with a 77-75 victory over previously unbeaten and defending champion Winona State.

Barton ended Winona's two-year, 57-game winning streak and survived a review of the final play by the officials.

"I was just thinking about the next play," Atkinson said. "I got a bucket, then another and the next thing you know, the game's over."

It's hard not to think there was some destiny involved. Barton won nine, count them, nine, overtime games this season.

Click here to read the entire game story on

Here's more information from the Barton College official athletics website.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Being a 6'7" Women's Hoops Player Requires Growth

Alison Bales is a senior center on Duke's #1 ranked women's basketball team seeking the school's first national championship in that sport. She is the third leading shot blocker in NCAA women's history, which might seem like a "duh" for a woman who stand 6'7."

Stop and think for a moment. How difficult do you think it is being a 6'7" female college student when you're NOT on the basketball court? Bailes appears to be handing that challenge quite well.

"I think Ali has grown more as a person and a player than anybody I've ever coached," (Duke coach Gail) Goestenkors said. "And I've seen great growth in so many people. But the confidence that she now carries herself with -- on and off the court -- is remarkable."

"It's not a big deal to me anymore," (Bales) said. "With everything that my height has given me, it's a blessing. I'm a daughter, a sister, a teammate, a friend, just a regular college student."

I suspect she's not giving herself enough credit with that last statement.

Click here to read Michelle Voepel's feature on, "With family, coach's support, Bales blossoms into star."

Friday, March 23, 2007

Northwestern and UMass' women's lacrosse teams took the field today to play the first Annual Brain Tumor Awareness College Lax Challenge.

The inspiration was a young girl named Jaclyn who was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2005. The Northwestern befriended her on their way to winning the national championship. The relationship continued and I'm happy to say that this event was not a memorial--Jaclyn is far from being healthy but closer than she was two years ago.

Click here to read the feature, "'Friends of Jaclyn' step up to raise funds, awareness."

Here is a link to the "Friends of Jaclyn Foundation."

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Plenty of Great Storylines Working in the Women's Tournament

While the men's NCAA basketball tournament has stayed fairly close to form, there are a lot of interesting storylines to follow in the women's tournament. Among them are:

A #13 seed (tiny Marist College) making it through to the Sweet 16 for only the third time ever.

Bowling Green winning only it's second NCAA tournament game ever and becoming the first Mid-American Conference team to advance as far as the Sweet 16.

A coach who camped out for two nights last year to sell tickets to her team's final home game.

Click here to read more about these and other interesting stories in the USA Today article, "Best tournament storylines are in the women's event."

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Harvard's Lackner Recognized for Leadership Off the Court

Christiana Lackner was a co-captian of Harvard's Ivy League champion women's basketball team this season, but that is not consider her most noteable accomplishment.

Lackner was recognized earlier this school year by the Margaret Fitzgerald Grogan Petersmeyer Foundation "for being a natural leader, for being well-rounded, for finding academic success, and for possessing a palpable love of life."

At one point, Lackner said, "My basketball coaches couldn’t understand why I was dancing, and my ballet teacher definitely couldn’t understand why I wanted to play basketball.”

Click here to read the story on Harvard's official athletics website, "Women's Basketball's Lackner Receives Fitzie Outstanding Young Women Award," and see what Christiana is considering doing with the award money after she graduates.

Thanks to Double-A Zone for the tip.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Tulane Athletes and the NCAA Help New Orleans Rebuild-Literally

In conjunction with hosting the NCAA men's basketball tournament first and second rounds this past weekend, over 60 Tulane University student-athletes pitched in to work on building a house for Habitat for Humanity.

“This build is a great opportunity for our student-athletes to give back to the community that has embraced them,” said Rick Dickson, director of athletics at Tulane University. “By participating in this event, our student-athletes are able to exemplify the supporting role that intercollegiate athletics plays in enhancing the sense of community and strengthening the identity of member institutions.”

The NCAA is funding the entire cost of the house, estimated at $75,000.

The New Orleans project is the latest in the NCAA Home Team partnership with Habitat for Humanity International, which began in 2005 after hurricanes struck the Gulf Coast. The NCAA has committed $2.5 million for the three-year partnership.

Since the partnership began, more than 800 student-athletes and other volunteers have helped build nearly 20 homes in partnership with needy families.

Click here to read more about this wonderful partnership from the NCAA's official website, "Tulane teams with Habitat for Humanity."

Monday, March 19, 2007

Success On the Court and In the Classroom Is Possible

Richard E. Lapchick, the Director of the National Consortium for Academics and Sport, has reviewed both the historic graduation rates and the Academic Progress Rates (APR) of the participants in the NCAA Men's and Women's Basketball Tournament. Overall, the news is good.

There are some remarkable positive highlights to point out in the fields for the tournaments this year, using the NCAA's Graduation Success Rates.

• An impressive 98 percent of the women's and 64 percent of the men's teams graduated at least half of their basketball student-athletes.

• Ninety-seven percent of the women's teams and 52 percent of the men's teams graduated at least 60 percent of their players.

• Eighty-three percent of the women's teams graduated at least 70 percent. A respectable 37.5 percent of the men's teams did the same.

While there is still plenty of room for improvement, the numbers are moving in the right direction.

Click here to read the entire report on's "NCAA tourney titlist in college degrees? Holy Cross."

Saturday, March 17, 2007

A Leader Inspired By Courage Off The Court

Torey Thomas led the Holy Cross men's basketball team to the Patriot League championship this season and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. His inspiration, however, comes off the court--from his brother.

"My brother can't play contact sports, but he's the most courageous kid I know," says Thomas.

His brother Trevon has Hemophilia B. In layman's terms, he is a bleeder. Torey grew up fearful that would also be his fate since it had been determined their mother was a carrier, but he received a clean bill of health.

In part motivated by Trevon's example, Torey has made the most of his opportunities, moving beyond poverty and helping others in his old neighborhood do the same.

Click here to read Torey Thomas' inspiring story on the Holy Cross official athletics website, "A Passion You Can't Teach."

Thanks to Double-A Zone for the tip.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Carter Brothers Are Strong On and Off the Court

The Carter brothers have all played NCAA basketball. Kevin, the oldest, played at Division II Texas A&M-Commerce. Warren, the middle child, is currently the leading scorer for Illinois while the youngster Josh is the leading 3-point shooter for Texas A&M.

When they were all teenagers, they relied on each other more than most siblings. Their mother, who had received custody of the brothers after divorcing their father, was in prision. They made it through that situation together and were clearly stronger for it, growing into successful athletes and young men.

Click here to read the USA Today story, "Carter family finds will and way to succeed after mother went to prison."

Thursday, March 15, 2007

"Good 'Ol Boy"

That's the title of an article about Florida's Lee Humphrey, who will be working to help the Gators defend their national men's basketball championship in the NCAA Tournament just underway.

His better known teammates like Joakim Noah and Al Horford received acclaim, and properly so in my opinion, for spurning NBA riches and returning to school this season. Humphrey used the acclaim and visibility he received from his comtribution in the national championship.

He traveled with Sports Reach to Brazil and help spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“His whole thing is,he’s nothing without God. He has never thought of himself as great. Coach [Donovan] gave him an opportunity, and he’s thankful for it. There’s no chance of him getting a bighead,” said Don Mauldin, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes' area director in North- Central Florida.

Click here to read "Good 'Ol Boy" from the FCA's magazine "Sharing The Victory."

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

From 10-Year Old Hero To Hoops Walk-On to Conference MVP

That's a lot for a 22-year old man to have accomplished so early in life, but that's the path that Central Connecticut State senior basketball player Javier Mojica has taken.

Mojica, a co-captian of the Northeast Conference champion Blue Devils, started his college basketball career as a walk-on. Four years later, he has graduated and been named the conference's Most Valuable Player.

No surprise for someone who, as a 10-year old boy, helped thwart his mother's suicide attempt.

From Hartford Courant columnist Stan Simpson:

Mojica exemplifies what a college experience can do for young people with a desire to escape their circumstances - and a resolve not to be outworked.

Click here to read more about Mojica in the column, "At-Risk Boy Steps Up As A Man."

Thanks to Double-A Zone for the tip.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Long Road to the NCAA Tournament for North Texas' Young

North Texas' basketball team had quite a long road back to the NCAA Tournament. Their Sun Belt Conference Tournament championship earned the Mean Green their first invitation to the dance since 1988.

That's nothing compared to how far senior forward Rich Young traveled to have an opportunity to play in the NCAA's. Young, who averages 5.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per game, spent four years in the Marines and saw the world. Specifically, he served in Kosova, Kenya, Djibouti, and Iraq.

I guess just the challenge was attractive to me," Young said. "I just wanted to do it because people said it was tough and probably the hardest branch to go to."

That combination of experience and attitude has made him him a respected leader on his team and a key part of this season's success.

Click here to read the AP story, "Former Marine's road to NCAA tournament went through Iraq."

Thanks to Josh at Double-A Zone for the tip. Throughout both the men's and women's NCAA basketball tournaments Josh will be featuring some of the wonderful human interest stories about the participants, and we'll cover some of the highlights.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Calvin Roland Finds a Home In the NCAA Tournament

Virginia Commonwealth University will be playing in next week's NCAA men's basketball tournament, having earned an automatic bid by winning the Colonial Athletic Association tournament and surviving an upset bid by last season's Cinderella, George Mason.

One of their players, Calvin Roland, has survived a lot worse than an upset bid in a tournament:

The fourth of six children, Roland was not expected to survive as a child after being struck by a car. Later, as a freshman in college, he found himself as the only one in his family other than his mother with a job. He was starting college, playing basketball, and earning a living to support his family. Soon after he began to pursue his degree, his family fell victim to eviction and was left homeless for the next two years. Roland spent his nights at friends’ houses, in his college locker room, and in the office where he worked .

Click here to read the story on the VCU athletic website about him winning the first annual Charles Barkley Scholarship. I also recommend this post from the blog of sportswriter Michael Litos for a healthy dose of perspective about Roland's story.

Thanks to my buddy at NCAA Hoops Today for the tip.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Heading To The Final Four - For College Credit

Imagine going to the Final Four – for college credit. That’s what a dozen students from Lynn University are doing later this month.

The sports management students from the South Florida liberal arts university will spend the week of the college basketball championships zigzagging their way through the Atlanta sports landscape, all with the help of their professors, Ted Curtis and Chad Barr.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our students to see what the business of sports is really all about,” says Curtis, who took five students to the 2006 Baseball Winter Meetings in December. “They have been learning about it during their college careers. Now, they have a chance to feel it and experience it up-close and personal.”

The students will tour Turner Field, Phillips Arena, Atlanta Motor Speedway and the Centennial Olympic Museum. They will meet with executives with the NCAA, Coca-Cola and virtually all of Atlanta’s professional sports teams. And they will take in the excitement and pageantry of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship Tournament along with all of its pre-game hoopla.

“It’s one thing to tell a student that the Final Four is a multi-billion dollar event,” says Curtis. “It’s another thing entirely for the student to experience it. That’s a lesson that will last them long after graduation.”

The students hardly just pay the extra fees associated with the trip, show up at the basketball games and earn their three credits. Before and after the trip, students take examinations on the NCAA’s complex revenue distribution plan, complete papers on stadium design, conduct in-class debates on intercollegiate athletics’ amateurism status and prepare multi-media presentations on major sports facility and event operations.

“Experiential learning is a big part of what we do at Lynn University,” says Barr, who has taken students on study tours to sites including China, South Africa and Thailand. “For Lynn students, learning doesn’t end in the classroom – it only begins there.”

For more information on the College of Hospitality Management and its sports management concentration, visit

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

"Fourth Year's the Charm"

Maryland men's basketball players Mike Jones and D. J. Strawberry talk about the benefits they gained from experiencing both the good times and bad times of a four-year college career. With the Terps carrying a seven-game winning streak into the ACC Tournament and Jones and Strawberry at the top of their game, it goes without saying that these are some of the best times.

Strawberry, sitting next to Jones yesterday, smiled.

"Without college, I probably wouldn't know what life was about," he said. "Especially coming from all the way across the country. I probably wouldn't know how to live alone. Now, having to rely on myself, doing things on my own, the connections I made here at Maryland. College has been a great experience. I wouldn't give it up."

Click here to read Mike Wise's Washington Post column, "Fourth Year's the Charm."

Monday, March 05, 2007

"Bluffton Baseball: A team in the truest sense"

Last week, only friends and relatives knew much of anything about the baseball team at Bluffton College, a small Mennonite college in Bluffton, Ohio. The baseball team, competing in NCAA Division III (without scholarships) played its games in front of intimate gatherings, some of them who sat leisurely in lawn chairs.

They had raised money on their own for their annual early-season southern swing. This season, they were heading to Fort Myers, Florida.

They didn't make it. The team bus crashed through an overpass barrier and onto I-75 in Atlanta. Four players, the bus driver, and his wife were killed.

Amidst this tragedy, however, is a story of team unity. Before the crash, the players bonded together to develop their skills on the baseball field and form a sense of family off the diamond.

Now, they are helping one other deal with grief just as they leant a hand to help survivors get clear of the bus accident. This is a story of young men who will heal and take the field again stronger, wiser, and closer together than ever.

Click here to read the story, "Bluffton baseball picks up the pieces."

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Wolfpack Inspired By Yow to Knock Off Undefeated Duke

That seems to be the most logical explaination of why the NC State women's basketball team handed #1 Duke their first loss of the season, 70-65, in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament.

State had won nine of ten prior to their loss to North Carolina today since Hall of Fame coach Kay Yow has returned following chemotherapy treatments (which she continues to receive) to combate a recurrance of breast cancer.

As writer Graham Hays explains it, "When you have a coach who is battling breast cancer for the third time in 20 years and has to stay in her hotel room to conserve energy when the team goes out to eat, the clock ticking above the court doesn't scare anyone."

Click here to read the story, "Wolfpack come together to down nation's No. 1 team."

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Pretty As a Picture

That's a fair description of Florida volleyball player Kari Klinkenborg, who has dreamed of appearing in Sports Illustrated. What seperates her goal from most other female athletes is her desire to appear in the swimsuit issue. Since she has a successful modeling background, she just might pull it off.

Click here to read "Gator Babe" from SI On Campus.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Vikings' Grant Has Strong Legacy In College Football

Bud Grant patrolled the sidelines as the head coach for the Minnesota Vikings for many years and has has sons and grandsons he thought were good enough to play college football for the University of Minnesota, which like the Vikings is located in Minneapolis.

Grant had to wait a while to see one of his own wind up at the U. Previously, his offspring had found success at Eden Prairie College and Minnesota-Duluth. Now, finally, the Golden Gophers have come calling for Ryan Grant, one of Bud's grandsons.

Ryan, a receiver who has the academic credentials to gain admittance into an Ivy League, may actually go that route and bypass the U. of Minnesota and the Big Ten.

Click here to read Sid Hartman's column "A Grant is finally noticed by U" in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Showing School Sprit While Overcoming Staggering Challenges

This story goes back a way, but it is so cool that, once I was tipped to it, I wanted to share it with you.

University of Louisville band member Patrick Henry Hughes, who has captured national headlines for his inspiring story of determination and remarkable achievement despite being physically challenged, is this year's recipient of the 2006 Disney's Wide World of Sports Spirit Award, given each year to college football's most inspirational figure.

Despite being born with a rare genetic disorder that left him with no eyes and the inability to fully straighten his arms or legs, Hughes is excelling as college freshman. With his dad guiding his way, Hughes is a trumpet player in the University of Louisville marching band, a concert pianist who has performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., a recording artist and, most important, a straight-A student. The significant role of marching bands amid the landscape of college football, coupled with Hughes' remarkable achievements despite his physical challenges, made him the overwhelming choice for Disney's Spirit Award even though the award has traditionally been given to a student-athlete.

Click here to read the entire story on the WHAS Crusade For Children website.

Thanks to NCAA Hoops Today for the tip.