Primary Care Assist For Amateur Hockey Community
Jan 15, 2018Posted by james

A wife of a college hockey coach is not only married to the man. She is married to the game.

Mary Gosek long ago embraced her role in upstate Oswego and throughout the larger hockey community. According to her husband, Mary knew everyone. Ed Gosek is in his 15th year as the head coach at the State University of New York Oswego.

Mary was diagnosed with ovarian cancer a few years ago. The community she knew so well rallied to support her. Hockey Coaches Care is just one group that skated to center ice for Mary. The program provided a grant that helped her receive tests that were not covered by her health insurance.

Last year, a healthy Mary attended the Hockey Coaches Care banquet to thank everyone who had supported her and her family. She also championed the many others who have been helped over the past 15 years by the program.

Anyone who has played the game here on Long Island knows that the hockey world is a tight community. We see this regularly on the National Hockey League level as the league, teams and players frequently support a variety of causes. The same occurs in the game’s amateur and youth ranks, and many of us have seen the outpouring of love right here in the rinks of Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Since its founding, Hockey Coaches Care has awarded more than $100,000 in grants for coaches, their family members and amateur players. The Goseks will ensure that the program continues to grow to help other families.

At the banquet, Mary stated that the amount of a grant is not the most important aspect of the program. The emotional connection to the hockey community, she said, is the key component that helps people in their time of need.

Leading By Example On And Off The Field
Jan 01, 2018Posted by james

Last year’s lacrosse season at Long Island’s Harborfields High School was a good one. The team had talent, but senior Falyn Dwyer said she wanted the team to work harder in practice to polish its skills. She personally was committed to the same goal.

The drive paid off when the team made it into the playoffs and to the Suffolk County Division II semi-finals. The ladies showcased that success could be achieved through dedication and commitment.

Falyn led by example. As a four-year varsity midfielder, she always delivered maximum effort on the field. Her coach referred to her as a fierce competitor who is self-motivated. Falyn contributed during key opportunities on both offense and defense. Opposing players often were baffled, because they could not prevent Falyn from getting the ball.

Falyn’s tenacity went beyond the lacrosse field. She also was a midfielder on the soccer team and a shooting guard and two-way player on the basketball team. Falyn played all three sports throughout her high school career, earning many accolades and several awards for her success. Her coaches agreed that Falyn was one of the most coachable high school athletes.

Record setting achievements and commitment for Falyn, however, were not solely reserved for the field or court. She achieved a 108 grade point average for her studies and ranked near the top of her class of 300 students. She also was active in a number of non-sports activities and clubs during her high school days.

Falyn received All-Conference and All-County Academic honors for both soccer and basketball, and she was named All-County for lacrosse. She now attends Fordham University. Her interests include sports but also environmental studies, teaching and law. I suspect that many more accolades and awards are in her future.

The Sports Connection To History And War
Dec 16, 2017Posted by james

Those of us who participate in competitive sports sometimes equate the battles on the field with the battles fought by an army. Both involve training, discipline, commitment and critical thinking.

With this in mind, it should not come as a surprise that a number of highly successful players and coaches have maintained a keen interest in history and especially in the tactics related to the Civil War. Several of these history buffs include New York Mets first baseman and broadcaster Keith Hernandez, National Hockey League coach Ken Hitchcock and legendary Georgia football coach Vince Dooley.

Keith and Ken read a lot and visit the battlefields. Ken even meets with a past-president of The Civil War Round Table of New York history group to talk a little blue and gray when his teams are in town. Vince, though, has taken his interest to another level. He has written a book about a Georgia colonel.

After serving as a U.S. Marine, Vince became one of the most successful college coaches. He won 201 games in 25 seasons at the University of Georgia. The successes included a national championship and six Southeastern Conference Championships. He later served as the university athletic director and he has written several books about the school’s sports history.

Now, he has added a Civil War story to the bookshelf—The Legion’s Fighting Bulldog: The Civil War Correspondence of William Gaston Delony, Colonel of Cobb’s Georgia Legion Cavalry.

The subject of the book was an attorney when the first shots of the war were fired. Vince decided to pursue this story when he learned that Delony’s letters to his wife, Rosa, chronicled his experiences in combat. Delony writes as a loving husband worried about his pregnant wife. He also provides details about his daily routine as a soldier. The colonel participated in the complicated tasks of leading a legion, a single command with elements from artillery, cavalry and infantry. He was mortally wounded at a battle at Brandy Station, Virginia.

To add an amazing coincidence to the story, a Delony great granddaughter married a student who played for Vince before the young man pursued military service. The soldier was part of the unit in Somalia during 1993 that inspired the book Black Hawk Down.

During his coaching years, Vince met many six-foot, three-hundred-pound men who could run the 40-yard dash in less than five seconds. But, while writing this book, he learned about the toughness of some of the smallest and slimmest Civil War soldiers. Pound for pound, these boys became the toughest of men, and they did it under the most trying of times.

A Great Running (Swimming, Cycling) Start For This Student Athlete
Dec 01, 2017Posted by james

She finished ninth twice in the national ironman triathlon. Then, Olivia Curran surpassed her previous successes in a sport that is pursued by few 17-year-olds. She finished sixth out of 50 competitors in the 16-19-year-old girls division at the World Triathlon Grand Final in the Netherlands.

Olivia’s father got her involved in the sport. He, too, has completed multiple ironman triathlons, including the most famous World Championship in Hawaii. In the Netherlands, Olivia’s sprint race included a 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer cycling race and a 5K run.

For her school, Olivia runs cross-country and outdoor track. She also swims for the school during the winter and competes with a swimming club during the summer. During July and August, Olivia has trained seven days a week and has incorporated track workouts into the program. She completes one long (seven to eight miles) run a week and bikes from 45 minutes to two hours each day.

Olivia is a strong runner and a very good open-water swimmer. She admits that her cycling is the weakest part of her game.

Her finish slot in the Netherlands, which was Olivia’s first international competition, was recognized by USA Triathlon, the sport’s governing body in the U.S. The organization ranked Olivia as the country’s top 16-17-year female athlete.

In her future, Olivia sees tackling the Olympic distances—1.5K swim, 40K bike and 10K run. That is about five years away. She also would like to follow her dad and participate in the ultimate triathlon ironman that incorporates the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.22-mile run. First, though, Olivia remains focused on graduating from high school.

Young Ladies Turn Lemons Into Lemonade
Nov 16, 2017Posted by james

A huge season—their senior season—was planned by Jenna Rogers and Jackie McDonnell. Both young ladies play field hockey for a Rockland County high school, and they were tapped as the new leaders following the graduation of 10 seniors.

Then, everything changed. Jackie, a goalie, hurt her knee last season but resumed play. She re-injured her knee, tearing the ACL and PCL along with a meniscus. Jenna also suffered a knee injury. She thought it was a bone bruise, but she soon learned that she tore her ACL and meniscus.

Injuries that are this serious depress the best professional athletes as they go through months of rehabilitation. Imagine how these two young ladies felt so early in their athletics careers. Jenna and Jackie had been in the field hockey program since seventh grade and they now knew that their respective senior seasons would determine if they could play in college.

Their coach realized that the players were carrying heavy burdens on their shoulders. The players felt that they had let him down along with their teammates. The coach’s solution was to have them attend practices while they continued physical therapy. Perhaps they could find a way to help the team.

Then, the coach came up with another idea. He asked the players to attend the practices of the middle school team whose first-year coach actually is a lacrosse coach. Now, unless there is a varsity game, Jenna and Jackie spend about 30 minutes supporting the high school varsity and junior varsity practices and then they support the middle school team practice.

The coaches and the players see the seniors as assistant coaches. The players also consider them as big sisters. With the coaches’ support, Jenna and Jackie have turned a season of lemons into one of lemonade. They are helping the teams but they also are helping themselves as they recover from their injuries.

Jenna and Jackie are adapting to the unfortunate athletic setbacks that have placed them on the sidelines. That’s a good lesson for their future field hockey careers. It also is a good life lesson.

Sports Radio Host To The Rescue
Nov 01, 2017Posted by james

He was maneuvering a boat into the front yard of a house owned by a middle-aged couple. The couple had never met John Lopez, but they were happy to see him. Houston had been hit hard by Hurricane Harvey.

John tossed life vests to the couple and helped them board the 16-foot fishing boat. They never exchanged names. The couple was delivered to safety and then John planned to be on his way to help others. A moment later, the couple heard and recognized his hearty and distinctive laugh. They looked at him. John now knew that they realized that the man with the boat was the popular sports radio personality they listen to on Houston’s KILT SportsRadio 610.

John loves fishing. His home was not flooded from the storm but his boat was in dry dock. He sent out a tweet searching for a boat to use to help stranded residents. He received about 12 replies and located two fishing boats.

Once he was rolling, John sent out another tweet accompanied by a video of his view of the flooded city streets. His message: “@ me if you need help.” For more than 10 hours, John rescued about 20 people. Some just had a trash bag of clothes and lost everything else, but everyone was very appreciative that John helped them.

John’s work that day wasn’t focused just on the people of Houston. He rescued a couple of dogs, too. Then, he came upon a barn, where he helped a woman move her two horses to safety. He took a long stick and poked it in the water to locate the shallowest passage for the horses to traverse to higher ground.

John did a lot that day, but he said many others were there with him. About 30 to 40 boats were helping the residents. Rescuers included firefighters and the Coast Guard.

According to John, the fisherman’s code is to stop all activities and help another boat in distress. John realized that Houston was in distress and he stopped his daily sports talk routine to help his neighbors.

More Than Just Kicking It Around
Oct 15, 2017Posted by james

At many colleges, the words “one and done” is the magic term in the athletic deparment. The phrase means that an athlete will play one year and then embrace the fame and possibly the fortune of a professional career.

For Colton Wigsten, the “one and done” phrase was bad news. As a freshman player at Ithaca College, and arriving as a highly touted recruit with high school scoring records, his first game became his last. A defender hit his knee the moment he planted his foot. The knee buckled, wrecking the ACL, MCL and meniscus.

After eight months of physical therapy, Colton left Ithaca before his junior year. He worked in the real world while remaining in shape. He earned credentials as an LPN and relocated to Georgia to obtain valuable experience before enrolling in the nursing program at Tompkins-Cortland Community College in upstate New York. He’s also on the school’s soccer team.

Colton is 26 now. The next oldest on the team is 21. He realizes that he is not the same player, but he now plays a smarter game. He recognizes situations quickly and clearly sees the game unfold before him. He says that he now is capable of controlling the pace to set up plays.

After his injury, Colton was depressed. Soccer was his life. The injury destroyed his collegiate experience. Finally processing that there was more to life than soccer, he has matured, will play to the best of his ability and will be thankful for the opportunities on and off the soccer field.

A Fast Track To Owning A Business
Oct 02, 2017Posted by james

Phyllis Francis of Queens started as a distance runner. As her skills evolved, she found her comfort zone at shorter distances. She also became a champion.

Phyllis was a gold medalist in the women’s 1,600-meter relay at the 2016 Olympics. She also captured the 400-meter title and was part of Team USA’s winning 1,600-meter relay at the International Association of Athletics Federation’s World Championships in London earlier this year.

Phyllis became interested in running by following her sister, Claudia, to practice. Claudia was a national champion and All-American at the University of Florida. Phyllis, during her first year at the University of Oregon, started to run the 1,600-meter relay. Her coach saw that she had potential to excel in the race. Then, they made a deal. If she could run a certain time on a relay leg, the coach promised he would help her train to compete in the 400-meter race.

After winning three consecutive Pac-12 championships and a national championship in the 400 with Oregon, Phyllis climbed on the national and world stages. She recently won the U.S. Indoor Championship in the 300-meter run and the outdoor world title in the 400.

The speedster credits Catherine McAuley High School in Brooklyn, which recently closed, with preparing her for life after high school. The involved teachers helped her focus on her school work and her athletics. They prepared her for the world beyond school.

Phyllis plans to compete at the 202 Olympics in Tokyo. At the same time, she is preparing for life after track and field. She is thinking about owning her own business.

No Names (Of Course) Until Now
Sep 17, 2017Posted by james

Baseball purists have battled with the changing times and the changing rules for decades. Early on, the game classified a walk with nine balls, then six balls, to five balls and then to the present four balls. During more recent times, the purists have fumed over artificial turf, domed stadiums and the designated hitter rule in the American League. This season, many have said that baseball should not have changed the intentional walk rule.

Another contemporary, albeit temporary, change occurred on the weekend of August 25-27. It was a change that certainly did upset some of the purists who happen to be Yankee fans. For 115 years, the backs of the home pinstripe and road gray jerseys worn by the New York Yankees either were blank or showcased only a number. The last names of players never were added across the shoulders—until now!

On this specific summer weekend, Major League Baseball promoted its “Players Weekend.” The players were invited to replace their last names on jerseys with their nicknames so “personalities shine through.” All the team uniforms also featured unique colors and designs.

For this event, the Yankees ventured into uncharted territory. The franchise for the first time placed player names, the nicknames, on the backs of its jerseys. After the weekend, all the jerseys from each MLB team were donated with 100 percent of the proceeds supporting baseball’s Youth Development Foundation. The organization focuses on improving the caliber, effectiveness and availability of amateur baseball and softball programs across the United States and Canada.

Here are some of the nicknames that Yankee players placed on their jerseys:

· Aaron Judge: All Rise

· Aroldis Chapman: The Missile

· Dellin Betances: D-Dawg

· David Robertson: D-Rob

· Chad Green: Greeny

· Sonny Gray: Pickles

Having a little fun and raising money for a worthy cause in any line of work is all good. In the baseball world, even many Yankee purists enjoyed the promotion. But, they also were glad when the traditional team uniforms returned for the game against Cleveland on August 28.

Reinventing Yourself – He’s A Pitcher Now
Sep 02, 2017Posted by james

Remember Ike Davis? He was a slugging first baseman with the Mets from 2010 to 2014. During that time, he was diagnosed with valley fever. The disease significantly affected his ability to hit home runs, to swing the bat and to lead a normal life.

While he successfully recovered, Ike’s baseball life became a series of hits and misses. After the Mets, he played briefly with the Yankees, Dodgers, Rangers and Athletics organizations. In the middle of the current season in the minor leagues, Ike decided to leave the batter’s box for the pitcher’s mound.

Maybe Ike found his baseball mojo. During his pitching debut for the Arizona League Dodgers, he threw a scoreless inning while striking out all three batters. His fastball reached 92 mph.

This was not Ike’s first time on the mound. He was in the bullpen during his college days at Arizona State and then he had two scoreless relief appearances for the A’s a couple of years ago. He is a lefty, and teams always are looking for a dominant southpaw to come out of the bullpen. He also has a father who can give him a few pointers. Ron Davis pitched 11 years in the major leagues with several teams, including the Yankees.

Ike has proven that it never is too late to reinvent yourself. This works for sports, in business and in life. Today’s ideas and tactics may not be suitable several years from now. So, always be open to new challenges and new opportunities. Part of the excitement of mastering that new game plan is the surprises and unique experiences that occur along the way.