Congratulations To NYC ‘s High School Football Standouts
May 16, 2017Posted by james

The New York City high school football player of the year is….Isaiah Wilson!

Isaiah is from Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn. At six-foot-seven, many of us literally look up to him. His shoulders are about as wide.

Isaiah is an offensive tackle. He received the 2016 New York City Player of the Year presented by the New York City Chapter of the National Football Foundation (NFF) and College Hall of Fame. My company, The Whitmore Group, sponsored the award, and I had the honor to introduce this fine young man and to present him with the award. He’s a fabulous scholar-athlete, soft-spoken and humble, and he immediately thanked his mother for all he has been able to accomplish during his early years.

Coached by Kevin Fountaine, Isaiah is headed to the University of Georgia to play for the Bulldogs. He was the second ranked prospect nationally in the ESPN Top 300.

Other accolades for Isaiah include the American Family Insurance 2016 USA Today All-USA second team and the 2016 New York State Player of the Year. He also was a first team All New York State selection by the New York State Sports Writers Association during his junior and senior years.

Along with Isaiah, 11 other outstanding New York City high school football players were honored at the 2016 “Elite Eleven” Scholar-Athlete Award Banquet presented by the local chapter of the NFF. The awards acknowledge the top high school football players from the five boroughs, recognizing them 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.

When I introduced Isaiah as New York City’s high school football player of the year, I invited him, along with the 11 other honorees, to visit with me whenever they end their football careers. I am always scouting for new talent, and these athletes represent the young people I want on my business team in the future.

Congratulations to the “Elite Eleven” scholar-athletes:

The Bronx

  • Christian Anderson – Cardinal Hayes High School, Coach C.J. O’Neill
  • Matt Conlon – Fordham Prep High School, Coach Peter Gorynski

Brooklyn

  • Robert Deleon-Kollmer – Poly Prep Country Day, Coach Kevin Fountaine
  • Seba Nekhet – Fort Hamilton High School, Coach Daniel Perez
  • Jerell Gray – New Utrecht High School, Coach Alan Balkan
  • John Hemminger – Brooklyn Tech High School, Coach Kyle McKenna

Staten Island

  • Dominick Anderson – St. Joseph by the Sea High School, Coach Michael Corona
  • Damian Ostaszewski – Curtis High School, Coach Peter Gambardella
  • A.J. Mistler – St. Peter’s Boys High School, Coach Mark DeCristoforo
  • Dustin Rubenstein, McKee Staten Island Technical High School, Coach Anthony Ciadella
  • Adley Raboy – Monsignor Farrell High School, Coach Tony Garolfalo

Her Motto: “Live Victorious, Loved and Free”
May 03, 2017Posted by james

Karen Newsman is a world-class triathlete, dietitian, wife and mother of three boys. When the secrets of her eating disorders again controlled her and filled her with shame, she gravitated into a career as a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in clinical nutrition.

Soon after, she begged God to end it all. As she continued to battle the eating issues, Karen was diagnosed with advanced, aggressive, stage-3 breast cancer. Despite the diagnosis, she finished the World Triathlon Championships in Vancouver, British Columbia, just days after receiving her fourth chemotherapy treatment.

Karen went on to become a seven-time All-American Triathlete and Team USA World Competitor. She won a silver medal at the 2012 Triathlon Age Group World Championships in New Zealand. A year later, Karen won four gold medals and broke the Huntsman Senior Games World Triathlon record. She has become a triathlon coach, and she has educated and encouraged people in health matters and on the track. While facing grueling treatment for the cancer, Karen has inspired thousands, drawing more than 25,000 to her “caring” blog.

Karen has received the USA Triathlon’s Most Inspirational Comeback Award, the Connecticut Sportswriters Association’s Courage Award and she was named American Cancer Society’s Determination Champion for her tireless charitable contributions.

Karen still competes and she has found another career as a motivational speaker. Her mission is to inspire others to find opportunity through their own trials, and to help people realize that they are loved, worthy, vital and never too far away or two broken to be healed.

A remarkable athlete, wife, mother and career woman!

A Lifetime Of Track And Youth Achievements
Apr 15, 2017Posted by james

Anyone from the New York City area who ran track in high school during the 1960s through the early 1980s will remember the old armory facility in northern Manhattan. It was located in a rough neighborhood that continued to decline along with the building. Before the armory closed during 1984, as runners and others continued to compete, the building also was used for housing homeless men.

During 1993, with the interior of the armory unusable, Dr. Norbert Sander, a runner, took over the building from the city. Through his non-profit Armory Foundation, he developed a modern sports mecca that now draws about 150,000 athletes a year. The participants include grade school runners to professionals. Most Section 1 high school winter track meets now are held at the armory. High school and collegiate championships also are held at the building, which also has hosted the Millrose Games.

Dr. Sander graduated from Fordham Prep during 1960. He ran on the school’s city champion cross-country team. He also went to Fordham University, where he was part of the relay team that broke the Penn Relays’ 4X100 relay record. A graduate of Albert Einstein School of Medicine, Dr. Sander was an internist with a specialty in sports medicine.

The work of Dr. Sander goes beyond the meets that continue to run within the old armory building.  About a dozen years ago, he started Armory Prep, a youth education service that serves disadvantaged kids in the building’s Washington Heights neighborhood and elsewhere. About 150 children are in the program today and thousands have passed through it over the years. Almost 40 of the children have attended college.

Dr. Sander passed away last month. As the news spread, the tributes for his passion and accomplishments also ran through the world of track and field and all local youth athletics. One area coach and track official summed up Dr. Sander’s commitment to the sport and to youth – “No one could ever have dreamed what he did. What an influence. What a man.”

A Team Chaplain Who Stands Tall With Everyone
Apr 01, 2017Posted by james

She has been the men’s basketball team chaplain at Loyola University for almost 25 years. Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt now is the latest member of Loyola’s sports hall of fame.

Sister Jean is a campus celebrity. She keeps an office in the student center where her door always is open for students and faculty. She lives in a dorm with 400 under-graduate students. Sister Jean recently enjoyed her own bobblehead day, and she was honored for her contributions to the team and the school.

Sister Jean attends every home game for the men’s team. She dons the school gear and also wears the trademark Loyola colors on her feet—maroon Nike tennis shoes with gold laces. “Sister” is stitched onto the back of her left shoe and “Jean” is stitched on the back of the right shoe.

At the games, students and alumni always stop to say hello and chat. Referees come over and hug her. She cheers at the good moments during each game and winces noticeably at the bad plays.

From San Francisco, Sister Jean played six-on-six girls’ basketball in high school. She became a nun at age 18. She then taught elementary school and volunteered as a coach in Los Angeles public schools. She coached just about every girls team—basketball, volleyball, softball, ping-pong and the yo-yo. She also made sure that her teams played against the boys during practice to “toughen” her girls.

At Loyola, Sister Jean leads the men’s basketball team in a prayer before each home game. Actually, her contribution is a combination of prayer, scouting report and motivational speech. Sister Jean sums it up as simply talking about the game and then playing it. After games, she emails each player to point out the positives and the areas of the game that need more work.

The basketball nun also communicates regularly with the coach. When Coach Porter Moser (Sister Jean’s fifth Loyola coach) came on board during 2011, she provided him with a scouting report of all his players.

The Loyola basketball players—and everyone associated with the university—all look up to her, though she is just five feet tall. She also is 97 years young.

As Sister Jean has shown, you never are age or height challenged to run with the big dogs!

It’s All In The Family – Well, Almost
Mar 16, 2017Posted by james

Colleen, Rieley and Kelsey play high school basketball and share a last name – Walsh. Since they bond so well on and off the court, you would think that they were sisters, or, at least related in some way. Instead, they are just three girls who happen to share a team, passion for life and a surname.

Colleen and Rieley are seniors with similar features. They are brunettes and soft-spoken. They like bacon, egg and cheese bagel sandwiches (one goes for the sesame seed and the other likes plain) with hash browns. Kelsey, meanwhile, is a sophomore with a bubbly personality that accents her blond hair.  She prefers a toasted sesame seed bagel with butter.

Despite their culinary and other differences, the girls have formed a tight-knit relationship outside of basketball. They just happened to click.

Colleen and Rieley were CYO basketball teammates during third grade. They have been classmates since middle school. They added Kelsey to the “family” when she joined the varsity team last season.

When Colleen and Rieley were younger, people often would mistake them for sisters, or cousins. Sometimes, they played along for a bit of fun. Now, with Kelsey added to the mix, all three can play a few head games with people. Their coach loves them but warns others that the girls can be “nuts and psycho,” yet, down deep, she knows they are best friends and, yes, in a way, they also are “sisters.”

They are fun, fun to be around and they really connect with each other, which proves that you don’t have to be “blood” to be good teammates, good friends, or even family.

Lessons Learned From Sports
Mar 02, 2017Posted by james

The Olympics in Rio already are a distant memory, occurring more than six months ago. Many fabulous personal stories are connected to these summer games and, yet, the one that caught my attention involved a spectator and not an athlete.

Whether he is watching Olympics competition or cheering on the play of his own children, sports always has moved Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group. During Richard’s formative years, mastering grades in classwork was not a personal strength. But he did excel in sports, including rugby, cricket, and track and field. At the age of 12, a torn cartilage in his right knee resulted in surgery and a long time away from the competition he enjoyed.

When he returned to sports as an adult, Richard found a passion for tennis. He never possessed the talent to compete as a professional, but he has been a pretty good amateur player who enjoys the intensity, artistry, excitement and mental challenge of the game.

Richard often has talked about strategy and how the game of tennis can influence a person. He has said that when a tennis opponent is on the other side of the net, it is you who becomes the most challenging adversary on the court. Only you, according to Richard, can focus to perform at your best. Only you, he has repeated, can place setbacks behind you, and only you possess the ability to have this occur immediately.

In an article written by Richard after the Olympics, he stated that the required discipline and determination to compete as a professional or top amateur athlete is not unlike the ability to compete as an entrepreneur. He stressed that preparation, practice and confidence are the key elements of success in sports and business, and that the opportunity for redemption always is present.

As many of us well know, events often move quickly in the worlds of sports and business. To remain prepared, our personal game plans must ensure that we concentrate fully on each unique moment as it develops. Forget any recent success and quickly move away from any prior mistake. Never dwell on the good or bad of the past, because an opportunity that appears suddenly before you will require your complete attention. Should you fail to remain focused, or if you hesitate just for a moment, a fabulous opportunity may pass in a blink of the eye…and it could be lost forever.

A Second Chance To Change A Life
Feb 15, 2017Posted by james

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.

Putting In The Physical And Mental Work
Feb 02, 2017Posted by james

Brendan Steele is on the PGA Tour. During late 2016, while playing in the Safeway Open in California, he became concerned about his putts under the stress of competition. He wanted to correct the previous year’s failure that occurred during the same tournament.

Brendan had just three-putted the 12th hole, the same hole that started his collapse a year earlier. He immediately thought “let’s not go through this again.”

This time, Brendan experienced a different result. He made a clutch par on the 13th and then recorded birdies on his final three holes to win the open by one shot.

How did this occur? While on the course, Brendan addressed each question in his mind with a positive response. He became aggressive instead of conservative with his game. Confidence returned, eliminating any remaining doubts about his putting stroke.

Following that 2015 disappointment, the golfer had worked diligently with his putting coach and then he worked with a swing coach. With their support, Brendan also developed a plan that guided him through the 2016 Safeway Open.

During his reassessment a year earlier, Brendan realized that anger and frustration often took over his thoughts when things did not flow well on the tour. Now, he felt stronger physically and mentally to handle tournament situations. Rather than think that he was not in control on the course, Brendan learned to concentrate on the few things that he easily could correct.

When bad thoughts pop up, Brandan has learned to return to the blueprint. His philosophy: challenges must now be faced during equally good and bad days, so just stick with the plan to handle all situations.

Pat LaFontaine Leads Companions In Courage
Jan 16, 2017Posted by james

Hockey fans know Pat LaFontaine. He scored 468 goals during 15 seasons for three (Islanders, Rangers and Sabres) New York hockey teams. He has said that his Hall of Fame career prepared him for life after hockey.

That path has pointed him in many different directions, including working with youth hockey players on Long Island. It also took him this past October to the Vatican in Rome, where he participated in a conference on faith and sports.

At the gathering, Pat was joined by New York Giants co-owner John Mara, soccer legend Pele and tennis star Roger Federer. The conference united sports people from all faiths, nationalities and cultures to arrive at a common goal – help people in need, especially the marginalized and the disadvantaged, and to encourage everyone to develop life skills, character, values and enjoyment of life through sports.

Back home, Pat has been helping others for 20 years. During 1997, Pat and his wife started The Companions in Courage Foundation. The foundation brings Xbox Kiosks and playrooms, known as the Lion’s Den, to children in hospitals across North America. Pat figures that the foundation has distributed more than 400 kiosks to more than 100 hospitals. Earlier this month, the foundation partnered with the NHL to deliver its 20th Lion’s Den, placing it at St. Louis Children’s Hospital during the NHL’s celebration of its Winter Classic outdoor game.

The Companions in Courage Foundation serves more than 50,000 patients each year. It is active with 15 hospitals in New York, including Westchester Medical Center’s Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital. This facility was the home of the first Lion’s Den that continues to provide children with the opportunity to leave their rooms and participate in the excitement enjoyed by so many other children who use computers, play Xbox, watch television and enjoy movies. A frequent visitor to the hospital, Pat connects with the patients and the families as he talks and plays games with the children.

Grateful and thankful for everything he has in life, Pat is excited about the future for his foundation. New paths certainly will open for him as he continues on the road to help others.

A Horse Is A Horse, Of Course…But Similar To A Human Athlete
Jan 02, 2017Posted by james

When someone mentions horses on Long Island, most of us think about Belmont Park and that final race for the triple crown. But, Long Island’s relationship with horses actually reaches back to our early days of agriculture and as our first mode of transportation from the shores of Montauk to the then city limits of Brooklyn.

Within Long Island’s communities, we are seeing a growing interest in show jumping, polo and casual rides along the trails. All this “horsing around” is overseen by dedicated people who are keenly connected with these fine animals.

When you talk with the people who raise and care for horses, you learn that the animals are no different than us. Trainers actually compare horses to human athletes.

The animals require constant training and attention to allow for safe competition and to reduce the chances of injury. The process involves regular exercise, grooming, feeding and then the training. Horses, similar to athletes, work on a variety of skills. These include gaits, response to commands and jumps. Horses also require rest and the opportunity to leisurely expend energy.

Horses can’t be pushed or pressured, also similar to some of our young athletes. Trainers allow a horse to communicate through the nudge of a head or a flicker of a tail, and they ensure that a horse’s mind always is given time to refresh. Top trainers are as in-tune with a horse as top coaches are with young players.

Horse care is not a casual job. Horses require constant oversight and it takes a very intuitive person to bond with the animal. Besides races, shows and the personal pleasures that horses provide, the animals also are known for nurturing personalities that support therapeutic care for children and adults with disabilities. Programs with veterans and prisoners have been successful in helping people build personal confidence through teamwork.

So, how many horses are in Nassau and Suffolk counties? Would you believe about 38,000? Some communities have opposed the presence of horses. However, the work of the Nassau-Suffolk Horseman’s Association has dispelled myths about noise and other issues associated with the animals, allowing these beautiful creatures to become more welcomed and admired.

Let’s not forget the words of General Sherman Potter in the television program M*A*S*H – the horse is a noble animal.