A Star In The Making
Sep 16, 2013Posted by james

Rye’s Connor Antico figured he would follow his brothers. Play football. Be a star. Beat rival Harrison. Three Anticos preceded him and some thought Connor, the fourth of five brothers, might be the best of them all. But, faulty knees and timing led Connor in a different direction.

Connor’s fallback is singing and acting. His new career already has included two book covers, print and TV ads, singing gigs, a role on a TV show and parts in two upcoming movies. In one of the films about the untimely death of Arkansas lineman Brandon Burlsworth, Connor portrays quarterback Clint Stoerner. He spent weeks researching the role and filming, missing his prom, his graduation and his girlfriend’s graduation. You see, Connor is just 18.

Connor’s appreciation for the stage and screen was sparked by a role in Bye, Bye Birdie in middle school. He took the role after he hurt his right knee playing hockey. The next year, playing football, he was dragged down from behind and tore his left MCL. Very disappointing, but it created a new opportunity.

Connor was cast as a jock in local theater, and he rehearsed the role with his leg immobilized from the injury. With a lot of free time, singing lessons, acting classes and auditions before talent scouts filled his days. Connor never played football again, and he participated only on his school’s medal-winning crew team that practiced in the early morning hours before the school day started.

At an early stage in his life, Connor already has transitioned from the sports field to a career in entertainment. He will enroll this fall in Pace University’s performing arts program. Unlike other college programs, Pace will allow him to work professionally.

An athlete never knows when a decision, a misstep, or an injury will lead him or her in a new direction. For Connor, the lesson learned is always to be mentally prepared to move on and to grab that new opportunity with the same passion that once was reserved for beating a school’s biggest rival.


Learning From The Great Mariano
Sep 01, 2013Posted by james

During my childhood, baseball relief pitchers didn’t dramatically thrust their uniform shirts from their pants after nailing down a save. They didn’t let out wild yells, or show-up the other team by symbolically shooting an arrow into the air.

One of the few acts of emotion that I recall involved the late Steve Hamilton. This Yankees reliever would come in around the seventh or eighth inning. When he succeeded, he just “pulled the chain.” As he walked from the mound, Hamilton extended his pitching arm in front of him, made a fist and yanked his arm back to his body as he turned over his forearm. Practically unnoticeable to fans, this gesture never caused embarrassment to his opponents.

For another Yankee relief pitcher, we now are seeing the last few days of a Hall of Fame career. For 19 years, Mariano Rivera has been a classy teammate, soft spoken and humble. He let his work ethic, and his cutter, do all the talking. Antics on the mound never have been part of his game.

With rare exceptions, Mo performed his job perfectly during exhibition games, the season, the playoffs and the World Series. With pressure high, he remained cool on the mound. He rarely showed emotion. If he failed, he accepted it and vowed to do better the next day. When a teammate failed, he was the first to provide encouragement.

This final year has been a celebration for Mo as he appears with the Yankees in ballparks around the country. He has been honored by the opposing teams, and he meets with their fans and long-time employees. He even is cheered and applauded by opposing fans as he enters games to shut down the home team.

All baseball fans appreciate a winner and this year they have celebrated the respect Mo has for his craft, for the game, for other players, for them, and for his God and his family. It is the rare athlete who can take a bow at center stage and receive good wishes from everyone.

We all can learn from the great Mariano!