Jun 02 2018

Congratulations To NYC’s 2017 High School Football Standouts

The New York City high school football player of the year is….Matt Valecce!

Matt played for Fordham Preparatory High School in The Bronx. At six-feet, five-inches and 205 pounds, Fordham’s quarterback led New York State in passing this past season, collecting 3,333 yards on 226 completions and a 64 percent completion percentage. Matt recorded 41 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. A year earlier, Matt threw for 2,416 yards and 27 touchdowns with only three interceptions. He finished his high school career ranked second all-time in the state for passing yards (10,027) and third all-time in touchdown passes (112).

The Whitmore Group sponsors the New York City Player of the Year Award presented by the local chapter of the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame. I was honored to present this year’s award to a fine young man. Matt is more than just a football all-star. He finished high school with a 4.28 GPA (on a 4.0 scale) and he accepted a full athletic scholarship to play for Boston College. He is going places on and off the field.

Along with Matt, 10 other outstanding New York City high school football players were honored at the sixth annual “Elite Eleven” Scholar-Athlete Award Dinner hosted by the foundation. Each year, the event is managed by Marc T. Hudak, who is chairman of the local NFF chapter and a partner and member of Whitmore’s management committee. The awards recognize the players for their performance on the field, in the classroom and as leaders in their communities. The award criteria is 40 percent based on GPA and academic achievement, 40 percent based on football ability and achievement, and 20 percent based on leadership, school and community involvement.

I extend my congratulations to each of the “Elite Eleven” 2017 scholar-athletes:


Christian Minaya (committed to Southern Connecticut State) – New Utrecht High School, Coach Alan Balkan


Joseph Alvarado (school intentions undecided) – John Adams High School, Coach Seth Zuckerman

Michael Taylor (committed to Villanova University) – Holy Cross High School, Coach Tim Smith


Quincey Barnes (committed to Western Connecticut State) – Curtis High School, Coach Peter Gambardella

John Buscini (committed to College of Staten Island) – St. Joseph’s by the Sea High School, Coach Michael Corona

Shakim Douglas (committed to U.S. Naval Academy) – St. Peter’s Boys High School, Coach Mark DeCristoforo

Nicolas Macri (committed to Binghamton University) – McKee Staten Island Tech High School, Coach Anthony Ciadella


Elijah Jones (committed to Boston College) – Cardinal Hayes High School, Coach CJ O’Neil

Danny Sanchez (committed to Stony Brook University) – Lehman Campus High School, Coach Chris DiTullio

Joseph Petti (committed to U.S. Naval Academy) – Fordham Preparatory High School, Coach Peter Gorynski

Matt Valecce (committed to Boston College) – Fordham Preparatory High School, Coach Peter Gorynski

Jan 03 2016

Clint Retired Young But He Still Hasn’t Quit

For more than a year, reporters have contacted Clint Trickett to talk about football. Specifically, they want to talk with him about football safety and his decision to leave the game.

Clint was the starting quarterback for West Virginia until December 2014. That is when he sustained his fifth concussion during a 14-month period. Today, even with all the news, lawsuits and now a movie about athlete health issues, specifically brain injuries, Clint is not interested in talking about head trauma. He knows the media wants to give the stories, as he stated, “a negative spin.”

Football always has been a huge part of the Trickett family, but playing the game never was required of any of the boys. Their father did demand, however, that the boys finish everything that they started.

The final hit on the field for Clint came before the end of the first half of a game against Kansas State. Fearful that his long-term health would be compromised, Clint decided that he would not pursue the NFL or the Canadian league.

After leaving football as a player, Clint accepted a job as the quarterbacks coach at East Mississippi Community College. He now works with talented student-athletes who play the game that he no longer can play. While disappointed that he can’t be the quarterback on the field, Clint revealed that he will never talk negatively about the game. He said football did so much for him, molding a boy into a fine young man.

Soon after Clint’s role as a player ended, he eagerly pursued a coaching career that he always had seen as his future in the game. In this new role, Clint’s finish line remains somewhere over the horizon.


Feb 16 2015

Trying To Become One Of The World’s Best

Joshua Colas is a neatly dressed skinny kid with glasses. Nothing flashy–he’s just a regular 16-year-old high school junior.

The family home, an apartment, is filled with scores of trophies of various shapes and sizes. Space is limited. Room now must be found as more trophies may be on the horizon since Joshua may be close to stardom. He doesn’t play sports nor does he have a singing, music, or acting talent. Joshua’s talent is found at the table with a board game.

Joshua is a chess whiz. No, he’s a chess champion. No, check that, he’s a prodigy whose ambition is to become one of the world’s best players.

Joshua learned to play from his father. It began when the boy was just seven years of age. In a few months, son was beating dad. He has a photographic memory and he memorizes the board.

Joshua compares his skill to finding his way home. Do it enough times and the route becomes second nature. No wonder his career highlights are longer than five pages. His chess rating has risen each year. At 10, he was third best in the nation in that age group. At 12, Joshua was the youngest African-American Chess Master (his family is from Haiti). At 13, he topped all players in that group.

Now, Joshua is ranked 231 out of more than 52,000 chess players of all ages who are registered with the United States Chess Federation. He has been selected to the 2015 All-American Chess Team.

For intense chess players, or should I say chess masters, the four-hour matches can become tiresome. Joshua, though, never gets too high or too low. He relaxes his brain before each match so as not to place too much pressure on himself.

Joshua’s goal is to become the first American-born black Grandmaster. To do this, he first must become an International Master. He will face that challenge during a European tour this coming summer. That goal is not cheap. Joshua is raising about $24,000 for travel, hotels and tournament entry fees.

With the help of family and friends, Joshua will be on that tour. Then, he just needs his second nature to kick in.



Feb 01 2014

Maintaining Momentum For A Smooth Ride To Success

We often don’t really know much about someone until they are gone. That’s when we hear the remembrance stories that explain a life of shortcomings followed by successes, commitment and innovation. Like me, you probably never heard about Allen Rosenberg. I only learned about him recently from his published obituary.

Allen started as a coxswain during the 1950s and then he became a coach. His innovations in rowing technique helped produce Olympic and world champions.

At five feet and one inch in height, Allen never weighed much more than 100 pounds. He was described by fans as a half-pint in a world dominated by gallon jugs. But, this did not stop him from mentoring athletes who were twice his size and, during a couple of decades, spurring them to victory in international competitions with his intellect and shrewd motivational skills.

“I can’t possibly explain the difference between the silver and the gold,’ he once said to his rowers, “but if you win the silver, you’ll wake up the next morning and know that someone rowed a better race than you, and I don’t want you to go through life thinking of that.”

By profession, Allen Rosenberg was a lawyer and pharmacist. He relied on his learning skills to help transform rowing from pure brute strength into a blend of science and sport. He actually studied the ways to make a boat move, learning that there was more to it than simply using an oar and frantically pushing the water. He spoke more about lightness of hands, plus relaxing and balancing in the recovery part of the stroke. He concentrated on a long pull in the water, quiet and even. The less water disturbed, he figured, the faster the boat will travel.

Allen’s successes are numerous, including a 1964 gold medal as a U.S. Olympic coach in Tokyo. He even developed a successful rowing style, teaching rowers to fire their muscle groups in a rotation rather than all at one time. The technique became known as the Rosenberg style, and he often compared it to a group of men who attempted to move a boulder.

Rather than exhorting a great heave, Allen contended it was better to use muscle groups in sequence—first legs, then shoulders, backs and then arms—because the solution was not to budge the boulder but to keep it rolling as smoothly as possible.

That’s how I see things in business. It’s not the heavy lifting that is important. It is the Rosenberg technique that maintains momentum and ensures the ride to success remains smooth.


Sep 16 2013

A Star In The Making

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.


Nov 18 2012

Stories Behind The Olympic Games

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.


Oct 01 2012

Never Too Old To Be In The Game

Roger Clemens has put together quite the resume over his 24-year Major League Baseball career.  A two time world champion, he received seven Cy Young awards and he currently ranks third on MLB’s all-time strikeout list.  After the 2007 season, the then 45-year-old Clemens finally decided to hang up his uniform to spend more time with his family.

But he couldn’t remain idle.  As with many athletes, Clemens is “married” to the game.  It is who he is as a person.  No matter the level of competition, professional or a pick-up league, athletes such as Clemens just have the game in their blood.

Clemens now is 50 years old, and he decided that he had enough of “retirement.” Agreeing to a one-year contract with the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League, the “Rocket” recently made a comeback.  In his first start during August, Clemens didn’t allow a run while pitching three and one-third innings.  The most impressive stat was, at Clemens’ age,that he was able to reach 87 MPH on the radar gun.

It is clear Clemens did not come back to the game for the money or the publicity. Neither is found in an independent league. Clemens decided to come back for the passion of the game.  This is his “profession.”  It is what he loves to do.  He felt that he could still compete, and he wanted to try at least one more time.

It never is too late for anyone to get back into his or her game. Whether your career path was sports or business, if the work always had been enjoyable to you, then, with a few adjustments, you can make a comeback and again find satisfaction and success.

You are never too old to compete, even when your skills are out-of-date or a bit rusty. You just may need to reinvent yourself. That is what I did with my passion for lacrosse. While I have been very successful in business for more than 30 years after playing lacrosse in high school and college, a few years ago I decided that I missed the game of my youth. Since then, I have worked with and supported today’s athletes through programs at my alma maters of Hofstra and Half Hollow Hills High School East in Dix Hills.

If you have retained the passion for what you once did, and if the flame of desire keeps burning inside you, there always is the opportunity for you to find a way to remain in the game.