Stories Behind The Olympic Games
Nov 18, 2012Posted by james

So much has occurred during the last handful of months that the 2012 Summer Olympics already is a distant memory.

The other day, while reading an article about a former Olympian, I decided to take a few moments to think about the countless hours that many of us spent in front of the television just a few months ago. I quickly realized that I actually remembered little about the results. Fresh in my mind, though, was what we learned about our young athletes. Back then, and again now, I was energized by the hard work, the passion and the sacrifices that pushed these young men and women to this highest level of international sports competition.

During the London games, we were bombarded with all the media hype and coverage, Facebook postings, YouTube videos, blogs and countless tweets. Rarely surfacing through all this noise were the insightful comments made by our athletes. Here are just a few of the many that most of us missed. Their words showcase their drive, their commitment to succeed and their gratitude to the people who helped along the way.

  • Kerri Walsh (beach volleyball): “In fifth grade, volleyball was the new sport at my junior high school, and all my best friends were playing. From the first second, I loved it. And I’m thankful I’ve had amazing coaches and parents who were super enthused, right from the start.”
  • Casey Tibbs (paralympic track and field and first amputee to serve as an air crewman in the U.S. Navy): “I lost my leg in 2001. About a year later, in a doctor’s waiting room, I ran across an article about the paralympic games. By the time I finished reading it, I knew this was something I wanted to do. I went to the gym that night and started working out.”
  • Rebecca Soni (swimming and three-time medalist at the 2008 Olympic Games): “I actually started in gymnastics but switched to swimming when I was 10, because that’s what my older sister was doing. I had a choice. Either wait for my sister’s swimming class to end, or start swimming myself. I chose to swim.”
  • Michael Landers (table tennis and youngest U.S. Men’s Singles Champion): “When I was nine, I broke my arm, which ruled out most other sports. But I’d been playing table with my dad since I was two. We found a table tennis club in Queens (New York City), and I started really focusing when I was 12. The great thing is, it’s still fun to me.”

As you can see from these comments, never underestimate the spark that ignites that passion in sports, or even in business. You will be influenced by parents, other relatives and friends, mentors and those you meet briefly along the way. Each encounter will lead you along your path to success, while competition and hard work will help you rack-up positive results. In some instances, you might just get to grab that gold.


A Coach For Disabled Young Adults
Nov 07, 2012Posted by james

Do you remember John Doherty? He pitched for the Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox from 1992 to 1996. A knee injury ended his professional career, but the baseball in his blood continues to find him on the diamond.

During one day this past summer, he offered his skills and patience to a group of developmentally disabled young adults from the Cardinal McCloskey Services program in Westchester County. Along with his old Eastchester High School coach, Dom Cecere, Doherty loaded bats, balls and hitting tees into a car and drove to a field to meet an enthusiastic group of young players.

The morning was dedicated to a skill session that included basic drills. Doherty and Cecere ran the clinic the same way for this special needs group as they would have organized it for regular little leaguers.

Doherty grew up in the shadows of the old Yankee Stadium before his family moved to Westchester. He enjoyed many years of success on the ball field right up to the major leagues, and his generosity was a big part of his game.

When Doherty was with the Tigers, his manager (Sparky Anderson) sent him to speak at a Drug Abuse Resistance Education program. That may have been when the baseball and public service connection started for Doherty.

Since that time, Doherty has participated on boards of many organizations, including the Eastchester School Foundation and the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association. He has been a Muscular Dystrophy Association Muscle Team member and he has been involved with Miracle League baseball, which engages children and adults with severe disabilities.

After meeting Doherty, the people at McCloskey consider him a real professional, and not just as a baseball player. Possibly everything he learned about life started on the ball field. Now, that experience has taken him so much farther and it has touched many along the way.