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.

Vaulting Leads To Career Trajectory
Aug 17, 2017Posted by james

Armand Duplantis is known as Mondo. He is a vaulter and has cleared 19 feet at least twice this year. Most vaulters do not clear this height until they reach their prime compete level when they are in their mid-20s. Mondo is 17.

Mondo already has outgrown his home training facility in Louisiana. He jumps so high that the padding on a brick wall near the landing pit no longer provides him with a safety cushion should a practice vault move sideways. So, to continue his training, Mondo practices at his high school.

Mondo is committed to success, and he comes from good family stock. His father was an All-American vaulter who cleared 19 feet as a professional. His mother was a heptathlete and volleyball player. An older brother finished third at the Southeastern Conference indoor vaulting championships. Another brother played in the Little League World Series and now is a college outfielder.

Mondo has represented Sweden in several international competitions. Sweden is his mother’s home country and Mondo maintains dual citizenship. All the boys in the family have enjoyed summers in Sweden and they are comfortable with that country’s youth sports development programs.

Mondo began his training while still wearing diapers. He climbed a neighbor’s tree. Then, he used a skateboard to zoom off the roof with his brothers. His first vaults with a broomstick occurred in the living room. An ottoman served as his landing pit. When he was seven, he was a world age-group champion, preferring to jump barefoot until he was required to wear spiked shoes. Slightly more than a year ago, he vaulted 10 feet in the backyard by launching himself from a hoverboard.

Mondo hopes to vault 19 feet 81/4 inches this year. That is just six inches less than the world record. By the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, his aim is to be the best vaulter in the world and to compete for the gold medal.

For now, though, Mondo will stay close to home. He’s a good pole-vaulter, according to his father, but Mondo needs a little more formal and life education before he travels extensively around the world to compete in the vault.

But, the bar continues to rise for Mondo, who, in everyday life, does keep his feet planted firmly on the ground. That’s a good reminder for all of us as we strive to achieve new heights everyday in business.

An Honest Lesson From The Broadcast Booth
Aug 02, 2017Posted by james

A few weeks ago, we lost a sports broadcasting legend. Bob Wolff’s career spanned almost 80 years. He called Don Larsen’s perfect World Series game, the greatest football game ever played—the 1958 National Football League championship game—and the two titles for the New York Knicks.

Bob was cited by the Guinness World Records as having the longest career of any sports broadcaster. He started during 1939 while a student and former baseball player at Duke University. He continued until early this year with our News 12 Long Island. During this span of time, Bob preserved a large amount of tape—about 1,000 hours of video and audio recordings—that included interviews with Jim Thorpe, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and Joe Louis. He donated the tapes to the Library of Congress.

Throughout Bob’s life both on and off the air, he touched and helped many people along the way. The tributes shared during his life and since his passing indicate that he always carried himself with class and honesty.

Bob once broadcast a professional basketball game when he was not even in the arena. Bad weather prevented him from flying to Cincinnati for a Knicks game that was to be telecast on Channel 9. So, he worked the game from a television monitor while sitting in the station’s studio on the 83rd floor in Manhattan. As he told the story years later, Bob said that he did not want to make a public confession that he was not at the game, but “journalistic honesty compelled me to make an acknowledgement that circumstances were different.” He told the television audience that while the game was coming from Cincinnati the audio was transmitted from the WOR-TV studios high up in the Empire State Building.

Striving for honesty and integrity is an important lesson that requires the full attention of today’s journalists and broadcasters. For those of us in business, we, too, regularly must remind ourselves about these attributes. Without honesty and integrity, who would want to work with and for any of us?

Attitude Changer: Positive Thinking Raises Her Game
Jul 17, 2017Posted by james

When times get tough, a tennis player has been known to fire a coach. It is rare, though, that a coach fires a player. But, that was the case earlier this year when Simona Halep’s coach stepped away from the Romanian player.

The coach, Australian Darren Cahill, has an outstanding reputation. He coached Andre Agassi. When he agreed to coach Halep, Cahill was not aware of her complex personality.

Halep’s game did not cause any issues. It was her mental attitude. Yes, she is passionate, intense and downright demanding of herself. All of this, however, is a bad mix for tennis.

About 15 months into their partnership, Halep’s pessimism became too much for Cahill. At one competition, she called Cahill to the court for a pep talk, but she spent much of the time belittling herself.

Halep lost. Cahill pulled out, claiming her bad attitude was unacceptable and he needed to take a break from their coaching arrangement. The tough-love strategy changed the dynamic.

Halep realized she needed to reform. She pushed out the negativity and rushed in the positive thoughts. Cahill watched from afar. When, on her own with her new attitude, Halep reached the semifinals in a tournament, she placed a call to Cahill to ask him to return.

Working together again with Cahill, Halep defended her Madrid title and became a finalist in the Italian Open. She claims she now is confident and composed, indicating that her new attitude helps her see the game better. She plays relaxed and with a positive outlook.

Similar to a tennis player, each of us in business must perform, at times, a personal mental evaluation. We must shake off any negative attitude and rework our game plan. Whenever we do this, our foresight becomes a bit clearer, we become more relaxed and we are able to approach each day, each meeting and each roadblock with a positive outlook.

Celebrating Local Lacrosse
Jul 02, 2017Posted by james

The end of May and early June was an exciting time for me and for local lacrosse players from grade school to high school.

The Section VIII Nassau County high school boys’ lacrosse championships were held at Hofstra University again this year. Following each of the three matches, I presented my Leadership Award to six young men who have been identified as leaders on and off the field.

Each award recipient reflects the tenacity, honesty, commitment and positive attitude required in Nassau lacrosse. Each player also possesses the ability to inspire teammates and others in the classroom and their communities.

I was proud to present the 2017 James C. Metzger Leadership Award to the following student-athletes:

· Cold Spring Harbor High School junior defender Aidan Hinphy.

· Garden City High School senior attacker Sean Couglin.

· Farmingdale High School senior attacker Kyle Tucker.

· Lynbrook High School senior goalie Ian Proefriedt

· Manhasset High School senior goalie Brendan Haggerty.

· Massaspequa High School senior attacker/midfielder Brendan Nichtern.

These young men are on their way to bigger and better successes in lacrosse, in school and in life.

Soon after these games concluded, my alma mater, Half Hollows High School East, announced that senior attacker Sean Lulley was honored with the school’s seventh annual Outstanding Player Award named in my honor for a boys’ lacrosse player. During his high school lacrosse career, Lulley netted 50 goals and gathered 41 assists as a four-year varsity starter. He served as team captain and was named most valuable player during his senior year. Lulley was named All-County during his sophomore year.

Finally, during mid-June, awards were presented to the Hempstead PAL team that I have supported as a leading benefactor for a number of years. Congratulations for a fun season go out to Coach Alan Hodish, his assistant coaches and the PAL folks, and to the 26 kids on the team. My special congratulations go to Ja’mir Andrews, who received the team award named in my honor for “his strong work ethic and improvement made throughout the lacrosse season.”

Another great lacrosse season on Long Island is in the books!