Feb 15 2017

A Second Chance To Change A Life

He wasn’t quick. He was fast. He flew down the ice. Dan Brady played recreational hockey at the C level, but he played the game hard and he used his speed.

When Dan was a teenager, he would not take a soda or a beer at the rink bar after a game. Pure water was his preference as he was training.

Dan’s training focused on his passion for the fire department. He rose to the rank of lieutenant and he also was on his town’s team in the national Firefighter Combat Challenge. Fast, disciplined and fully committed. Then something changed.

Dan moved across the state border. He left the fire department for a technician job but continued to play hockey. He then joined a motorcycle club, left it and joined another club.

Training no longer was a priority in Dan’s life. He started drinking and using drugs. Then, he was in an accident.

Dan doesn’t remember the day and he doesn’t remember the crash. He was told that he slammed into a tree after a night of drinking at a motorcycle clubhouse. He broke several vertebrae, lapsed into a coma and now doesn’t remember the several months preceding the accident.

At 29 years of age, Dan has taken full responsibility for his failure. He also has refocused his life. Dan is involved with sports again by using an adaptive wheelchair. He participates in kayaking, waterskiing, golf, softball, rugby, sled hockey and hand-cycling. He also drives a specially-equipped van and is learning to move unassisted from his bed and into a wheelchair.

Dan admits he is no longer that person on the motorcycle. He never wants to see that guy again. He now wants to talk to youth about his life.

Dan feels the young people need to hear his story so they can meet the guy before the accident and learn how he shoulders the blame for the way his life changed. He will be happy if he could change just one person’s life for the better before it is too late.

Jun 16 2016

Commitment And Desire Lead To Success

I’m in insurance, but I came from sports. Many of the men and women who work with me experienced their first competition, their first challenges, and their first successes and failures in life through sports.

While many of us decided to turn our team uniforms into business suits, times have changed. Now, more than at any other time, many more opportunities are available for former high school and college athletes who want to remain in the game. Here are just a few examples.

  • Athletic trainers – For teams and individual athletes, this profession includes preventing, diagnosing and treating muscle, bone and other injuries. Some trainers choose to go the route of building stamina and maintaining a healthy diet. Others focus on body massage and yoga.
  • Coaches, scouts and front office positions – These opportunities don’t need to be on the professional level or even at the top college level to provide rewards. There are plenty of levels in athletics on which to participate if you have the knowledge, talent and desire. These include youth leagues, senior leagues, various divisions in the college ranks and semi-pro leagues. Remember, too, that there are many other sports besides baseball, basketball, hockey and football. Don’t forget lacrosse!
  • Media outlets – Not everyone can handle play-by-play in New York, deliver the sports highlights on the evening newscast or talk about sports on WFAN. But, teams and sports stations and networks do rely on websites and social media that demand constant updates to remain competitive. If you are handy with cameras and have a good eye, sports photography is required by just about every team and media outlet. Shooting and editing skills for video also are in high demand. Every coach wants his team to view “the films” from last week’s game or to analyze an upcoming opponent. Video talent also is needed for the growing online marketing and public relations work that engages fans.
  • Umpires, referees and other sports officials – While a few at every game are visible (many wear the striped shirts), games at many levels also require secondary officials who manage the clocks, keep tabs on scoring plays, record the playing time for each player and maintain the statistics.

As you can see, there are many ways to remain in the game if you still retain a high level of passion for your sport. But, if you feel the time has come to shed the uniform for the business suit, the transition will not be difficult. So many of us have done it and we can guide you along the way. All you need to do is maintain that same commitment and desire to succeed that helped you through those tough games as a player.

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.


Nov 02 2015

Marketing And Communicating In Baseball

Few boys who dream of playing professional baseball actually end up competing in the country’s big ball yards. Millions of other boys must follow another path so they can touch all the bases.

Tim Mead’s passion for baseball landed him an internship more than 30 years ago with the Los Angeles Angels. Today, he is the team’s vice president of communications. He is the team’s spokesman and he oversees media relations, publicity and broadcast operations. Mead and his staff also provide beat writers and media with game notes and media guides, handle media requests and arrange interviews with players and team executives.

Mead realized early on that he did not have the talent to make a living at hitting a ball with a bat. So, during college, he looked for other opportunities to stay in the game that he loved. He focused on sports writing. He soon realized, though, that he could not write about failings and shortcomings of people who worked hard in an area where he did not achieve success. So, Mead slid into public relations.

The job is all about promoting and protecting the Angels brand. While some tasks are easy for Mead, he faces many challenges similar to a hitter figuring the best way to hit a knuckleball.

One example has involved social media, specifically Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. This medium does not allow PR people to control the flow of information. With the growth of instantaneous postings, the Angels communications team decided to employ a defensive shift. It increased online monitoring. The strategy has allowed the staff to respond quickly to address fan issues while it continues to proactively promote, publicize and reach out to media and fans with the many positive stories that occur within the organization.

As for advice about achieving success in sports communications or any business profession, Mead provided the following guidelines: prove yourself every day, be true to your personal brand, stay away from discussing politics, work hard and be ready for the ball to be hit to you when you least expect it.

- Jim

Mar 17 2014

“Bullet Bob” Became “Super Insurance Guy”

I didn’t see Bob Turley pitch in the major leagues. He played from 1951 until 1963. He was with the Yankees from 1955 until 1962, earning his nickname of “Bullet Bob” and winning the 1958 Cy Young Award with a 21-7 record.

Turley won that award when only one pitcher in all of major league baseball was presented with the honor. That same year, he also won the prestigious Hickok Belt that is awarded to the top athlete in all of sports.

Bob’s roots were in sports. So are mine. But not until he passed away a year ago this month did I realize how much we had in common on the business side of life.

After his playing career ended following a season split between the Los Angeles Angels and Boston Red Sox, Turley became successful in the insurance industry. He joined with Arthur L. Williams, Jr. and five others to found A. L. Williams & Associates. They advised clients to purchase short-term rather than long-term life insurance and invest the savings in mutual funds. The company became Primerica Financial Services and it later was purchased by Citigroup.

Turley earned considerably more money in financial services than he did as a professional baseball player. He also invested in real estate, purchasing and selling homes on Florida’s Marco Island and in Naples.

At an Old Timers’ Day gathering at Yankee Stadium during the 2010 season, Turley half-jokingly stated that he probably was better in business than baseball.

“It takes a little while when you get out of baseball,” he said, “but all the principles of baseball carry over into business. So, I was highly successful.”

I would add that all the principles of football, basketball, hockey and lacrosse, along with all other competitive sports, carry over into business and into every aspect of life.


Dec 16 2013

This Soldier’s Life Is A Good One

When Dominic Larocque was growing up in Canada, he was about as active as any young man. He played hockey up to the Junior A level, top-tier football for his school and competitive soccer for his city.

So when Larocque turned 18 during 2005, he decided he would use all his energy to serve his country. He enrolled in the Canadian Armed Forces. Within two years, he would be deployed to Afghanistan.

About four months into his tour, on November 27, 2007, Larocque’s life took a drastic turn. A light armored vehicle drove over an improvised explosive device (IED). He and two colleagues were taken by helicopter to a hospital.

Three days later, Larocque woke to a shock. He was missing his left leg, amputated above the knee. Eventually, he was fitted with a prosthesis. He had to learn how to live again, not an easy task when just standing was difficult.

After about three years, Larocque adapted to his new limb. He entered the work force. Then, he realized that a void existed from his pre-military life. He needed to find a sport that he could play.

Of the sports he had played as a youth, football and soccer were out of the question. But hockey presented an interesting option. “Soldier On,” a program that helps former military personnel become involved in sports, arranged to have a Montreal sledge hockey team run a clinic. Larocque was there, and the clinic scored with him.

He began playing for the Montreal Transats sledge hockey team every other weekend. Soon after, he was a member of Canada’s national team and then part of the 2012 World Sledge Hockey Challenge in Calgary. Besides filling his competitive void, Larocque said his experience with sledge hockey has given him some additional perspective on how his life turned one fateful day in Afghanistan.

“It’s helped me so much meeting people from across Canada who have had various accidents or were maybe born with defects,” he said. “It’s made me realize that I don’t have it so bad.”

That’s certainly putting life into perspective, and we can learn a lot from Dominic. For me, the next time something just doesn’t work out with a client, or when one of my proposals doesn’t win the bid, I will recall Dominic’s story and realize that I really don’t have it so bad.


Oct 01 2013

A Life Of Evaluating Talent

The typewritten newsletter dated March 22, 1966 contains scouting reports on high school basketball players. This issue thanks subscribers for their loyalty during the first year of publication during which demand doubled to 60 college coaches.

The issue is hidden inside a thick three-ring binder that is buried in the cluttered Manhattan apartment of Howie Garfinkel. Howie’s life is basketball—as a scout, a coach, a creator of a summer camp and a director of clinics.

About 70 years ago, this son of a garment worker, was a modest high school player. He could shoot a two-handed set shot but he didn’t have the moves. He admits that he didn’t work at his game. But his passion for basketball moved him in another direction. He became a compiler of information about players, and he sent this information to college coaches. He also was the originator of what has become a staple of basketball development and recruiting—the summer camp with guest coaches and showcase games.

During the mid-1960s, Howie published a magazine (High School Basketball Illustrated) that profiled players and teams in New York and northern New Jersey. An assistant coach at The Citadel obtained a copy and suggested to Howie that he open his own scouting service. He did, eventually, and he also opened the Five-Star Basketball Camp. For the second year of the camp, he hired a young Bobby Knight at $50 per day as his top instructor. The camp was pure basketball—teaching, coaching, playing and no nonsense—and it drew top schoolboy talent from around the country.

Eight years ago, Howie sold his stake in the camp. But he remains in the game he always has loved. Last year, he organized his sixth annual Clinic to End All Clinics where Division I coaches discussed strategy with coaches from other colleges and high schools. He is co-founder of the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame and he evaluates city players for the selection advisory committee of the McDonald’s All-American Game.

From an early age, Howie Garfinkel set a course for his life and happily followed it. He still types his player evaluations on an IBM typewriter. He uses his phone but will not go near the internet. He also still has his binders and the well-organized scouting reports that made him a household name in basketball long before e-mail and ESPN.

Sometimes, it is best to evaluate talent in sports (and business) the old fashioned way.


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.