Coaches Who Helped Pave the Way
Dec 01, 2016Posted by james

Two innovative coaches left us this year. Each leaves behind a wonderful legacy and valuable life lessons for all of us.

Forbes Carlile was from Australia. His innovative ideas about sports physiology made him one of the world’s best-known swimming coaches. Dating back to the 1940s, his career is credited with producing many Australian Olympians. He coaching methods, believing that swimmers should start high-level competition at a young age, sent shock waves through swimming traditionalists.

Carlile decided that two leg kicks for two arm strokes (verses the conventional six kicks) saved energy. He also believed, again unconventional, that hot baths or showers before a race improved finish times by 1.5 percent, shaving almost a second in a 100-meter race (the difference between first and second place). He introduced interval training (alternating between activities that required different rates of speed and various levels of exertion) and advocated for year-round training that emphasized long-distance workouts.

Carlile originally planned to become a doctor. He changed his mind when he became ill while watching a film about an operation. He then studied human physiology and became dedicated to the science of swimming.

Closer to home, Ed Temple produced 40 Olympians for women’s track and field at Tennessee State. His athletes won 13 gold medals, six silver medals and four bronze medals. His teams won 34 national titles.

In his first year as coach, with a budget of $300, Temple’s team participated in one meet. A few years later, to get his runners to a competition in New York, the coach piled the team into his old DeSoto station wagon.

Temple was the team coach, trainer, counselor and parent. “I was everything,” he said a few years ago, “but you had to be, because there was no other person there.”

Temple’s teams were composed of more than just athletes. He always told the girls that they were young ladies and should carry themselves properly. He always reminded them that they were ladies first and runners second.

Temple also told the ladies on each of his teams that they should use track as an exchange for an education. Track, according to the coach, was the means to walk across the stage to receive a degree.

“Athletics opens up doors for you,” said the coach, “but education keeps them open.”

Heart Of Gray – The Story Of Lt. Raymond Enners
Nov 17, 2016Posted by james

During early October, a number of us gathered at the Garden City Hotel to meet Richard Enners. Richard is the younger brother of Raymond Enners, a West Point graduate who was among the fallen in Vietnam.

Richard recently published Heart of Gray, a book about selflessness and sacrifice. The story takes us on a journey that reveals how West Point and its values of “Duty, Honor, Country” influenced Ray Enners. The book places a spotlight on the rigorous training that provided Ray with the confidence and courage to face life-threatening situations.

Ray Enners played lacrosse at Half Hollow Hills High School in Dix Hills before the district and the high school were divided into east and west sections. He continued to excel at the game at the United States Military Academy. During his senior year, Ray was named an NCAA All-American. Slightly more than a year later, Ray was killed in action in Vietnam. On September 18, 1968, demonstrating selflessness and leadership, Ray rescued a wounded soldier and then led an assault on an enemy position that cost him his life.

As many of you know, I received the 1977 Lt. Ray Enners Award as a lacrosse player at Half Hollow Hills. Presented by the Suffolk County Lacrosse Coaches Association, the award is presented to an outstanding county high school player who best exemplifies courage, teamwork, skill and leadership. While I remember the moment when I learned that I would receive this award in memory of Lt. Raymond Enners, I am unable even today to completely explain the honor that I felt then and feel now for the opportunity to follow in Ray’s footsteps.

Another honor named for Ray, the Lt. Raymond Enners Award, is provided annually on the college level to the NCAA’s most outstanding player in men’s college lacrosse. My nephew, Rob Pannell, won the award twice when he played at Cornell University. Our family is blessed to have such a strong connection to an American hero.

By now, you might be wondering about the word “gray” that appears in the title of Richard’s book. At West Point, the color gray is a symbol of pride and honor that dates back to the Battle of Chippewa during 1814 when a small American army defeated the British in Canada. It was from that battle that the secretary of war approved the color gray for the cadet uniforms at West Point. Ray Enners embraced this tradition during his time at the academy and during his brief service to our country.

Richard Enners followed his brother at West Point. He knows personally about the tradition cherished by the Long Gray Line and he, more than anyone, best knows the heart and spirit of Ray Enners. Richard’s book was written to honor his brother and to inspire others to live their lives with a purpose similar to that of Ray, and to make a difference in the lives of others.

To help Richard ensure that his brother’s contributions will continue to inspire others, I am providing a copy of Heart of Gray to all the public high school lacrosse coaches in Suffolk and Nassau counties. Copies of the book also will be provided to school administrators. The book also will be sent to the coaches and administrators in the Catholic High School Lacrosse League.

My hope is that everyone who reads Heart of Gray will share with others the ideals cherished by Lt. Raymond Enners.

Tremendous Honors From Hofstra And Adelphi
Nov 02, 2016Posted by james

September was a tremendous month for me – but, more important, it was a tremendous month for the many local programs supported by me, my company and my clients.

Two fabulous universities celebrated my high school and college sports career along with all the sports, education and other philanthropic initiatives with which I am involved to support communities on Long Island and the greater New York City area.

My alma mater designated me as Hofstra Alumnus of the Year. After finding my way back to the campus after an absence of 25-plus years, the Hofstra University Alumni Organization decided to acknowledge not only my lacrosse career at the school but also my recent contributions to the athletic and education programs. For this, I am very thankful.

I am proud of all that we have been able to accomplish together in just a handful of years. This includes construction of the Royle-Sombrotto Locker Room that provides a state-of-the-art facility for the men’s lacrosse program, support for the women’s lacrosse program and also The Hallways Traditions Project at Hofstra’s Margiotta Hall that showcases the history of both lacrosse programs and the university’s football program. In the classroom, I am grateful to provide support for the summer internship program for the Center of Civic Engagement that honors Michael D’Innocenzo, my former Hofstra professor.

A few days after the Hofsta celebration, I became the 25th recipient of the Woodruff Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Adelphi University Athletic Hall of Fame. The honor cited my commitment to local programs in Nassau and Suffolk counties and throughout the greater New York area that focus on youth, athletics, education and communities.

Adelphi is a local lacrosse rival of Hofstra, and it is nice to know that my philanthropic efforts also are appreciated by this fabulous school. The award recognizes “excellence in coaching, teaching and educating young adults while saluting an ambassador of sportsmanship and goodwill and stressing that the athletic experience enhances the educational experience and quality of life.”

These awards are prominently displayed in the offices of The Whitmore Group. Even more rewarding is that additional attention has been generated for local youth, high school and college athletics and education, along with the many other local programs that we support.

Young Ladies Who Possess That Goalie “Stuff”
Oct 17, 2016Posted by james

She wears kickers to cover her shoes. They are clunky. So are the leg pads. Then there are the padded pants, chest protector and helmet.

Soccer, cross country and volleyball attract the majority of the lady athletes at local high schools. But Cassie Halpin chose field hockey and all the equipment that comes with the position of goalie. Besides all that equipment, Cassie plays a position that is very noticeable, especially when a mistake by her net changes the numbers on the scoreboard.

Cassie plays for Lakeland High School in Westchester County. The team has won the state championship the last seven consecutive years. Her sister once was a Lakeland goalie and now she plays for the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Surely, big pads to fill for Cassie.

But, Cassie enjoys it. She gets a rush when an opposing player comes right at her. She equates it to riding a roller coaster as it takes that initial drop.

Another lady goalie in the area is Alyssa Sanchez of Suffern High School in Rockland County. She also plays lacrosse and next year she is committed to SUNY-Binghamton to play defense. She was a street hockey goalie before playing field hockey. Both positions can be mentally taxing, but Alyssa has her priorities in order. She has short-term memory after a goal is scored on her.

Both these girls have the “stuff’ that coaches seek in goalies. The Lakeland coach values players who have the athletic ability along with intelligence, competitiveness, dedication and mental toughness. The coach believes that goalies must know that they are one of the best athletes on the team and that they possess leadership qualities to influence a positive outcome for any single game.

The Suffern coach, for her goalies, sites courage, desire, poise, thick-skinned leadership, the ability to communicate with teammates and the ability to shake off mistakes.

A goalie in any sport is a unique individual. We often have heard that a catcher in baseball, similar to a goalie in other sports, wears the tools of ignorance. But, we have come to learn that the catcher often is the most knowledgeable player on the field. The entire game is in front of the catcher, who must concentrate simultaneously on so many elements of the game.

The same can be said of goalies. The same can be said of Cassie and Alyssa.

Billiards Are A Bridge To Success For High School Students
Oct 02, 2016Posted by james

Cathedral High School in Manhattan has a billiards club. With the new school year under way, the club is banking on improving upon last year, its best year, when it chalked-up 15 members and qualified for the Billiard Education Foundation’s 28th annual Junior National 9-Ball Championships.

The club began during 2002. It was started by Mike Muldoon, a religion teacher. He enjoyed playing pool but he did not think that the principal would approve his idea to bring the game into the school. But she approved his proposal and the program has continued to grow each year.

This year, two additional billiard tables (bringing the total to three) will be added at the school, which received its first table just a year earlier. Until that first table arrived, the students practiced at local billiards clubs.

Mike is ready for another great year. His club members enjoy the practices and the spirit of competition, and everyone has fun.

Mike is hopeful that he will have about 20 members during the current school year.  With three club members at last season’s nationals outside of Chicago, the club has placed a significant challenge on the table for this year’s members to repeat and expand upon the success. The two additional tables, along with the added coaching assistance of a professional player/tutor, already have created a buzz among students.

All the students in the club learn that the game of pool is challenging, but that the creation of a strategy to plan the shots helps boost confidence and success. As the new season begins, the club is focused on competing at the state qualifier during May, with hopes that players again will qualify for the junior nationals.

Oh, I forgot to mention that all the students in the club are girls. Cathedral is an all-girls school overseen by the New York Archdiocese.

Silver Medal For Bronx Fencer
Sep 16, 2016Posted by james

During the Rio Olympics, we had a couple of fencers who were in position to win unprecedented gold medals. Neither competitor won gold but both got close enough to have the chance to win the top prize.

One was Daryl Homer from The Bronx. He was defeated in sabre by the world’s third-ranked fencer. With a broad smile, he proudly received the silver medal.

Daryl learned about fencing when he was just five years old. He saw the word in the dictionary. Enamored with the description in the book, he begged his mother to allow him try the sport. He soon was under the tutelage of former fencing champion and Olympic bronze medalist Peter Westbrook. Now a business executive, Westbrook also is the founder of a foundation that embraces the sport to enrich the lives of young people from underserved communities in the New York City area.

Daryl emerged as a prized pupil, earning a place on four All-America teams. He also became the first American man to win a medal (silver during 2015) at a world championship event.

At Rio, Daryl won his first three matches by comfortable margins to reach the semifinals. His opponent in that round overcame a seven-point run by Daryl to force a final bout. Daryl then exploded to the center for a touch that placed him in the finals.

After that victory, Daryl told everyone he didn’t have any regrets about his do-or-die strategy that placed him in a position to compete for the gold. His comments were reported by the Associated Press: “I was like…If I lose doing this, I’m going to lose doing this and I don’t care…If you want a medal, you have to do something big for it.”

It Was A Tough Start For One Olympic Champion
Sep 02, 2016Posted by james

U.S. Olympian Simone Biles is on top of the world.Many consider Simone to be the best female gymnast in the world. At age 19, she already is the most decorated gold medalist in world championship gymnastics history. At Rio, Simone collected several additional gold medals.

Hidden behind her success and her beautiful smile is a very different story. Her journey has not been an easy one.

Simone was born to drug-addicted parents and her father abandoned the family. She and her siblings were shuffled between foster homes and Ohio state care. One of those foster homes became a catalyst to Simone’s current success. She often mentions that the home had a trampoline but neither she nor her siblings were allowed to jump on it.

Eventually, when she was six, Simone and her sister were adopted by their grandparents and they moved to Texas. Grandma Nellie then had a talk with Simone and sister Adria. Grandma left it up to the girls if they wanted to call her and her husband “grandma” and “grandpa” or if they wanted to consider them as “mom” and “dad.”

Simone practiced the words while looking into a mirror. She said the words ‘mom” and ‘dad” countless times. Then, she went downstairs to the kitchen, looked up at her grandma and called out.

“Mom?” Nellie quickly responded “Yes! ”

Congratulations to Simone Biles on overcoming childhood challenges and for all the success she has earned at such a young age. She is just getting started!

My Longtime Baseball Friend Is Signing Off
Aug 16, 2016Posted by james

For many years, I have been watching baseball with a friend. He’s become a close friend. He does most of the talking and I only see him occasionally. He doesn’t know me but I enjoy listening to him talk about baseball and life.

When this baseball season ends, Vin Scully will turn off his microphone. He has called the game for 65-plus years, first in Brooklyn and then with the Los Angeles Dodgers. I will miss him.

While never missing a play, Vin effortlessly worked into the conversations all those statistics for which baseball is known. He also shared with me the stories about the game of long ago and vignettes about the players of today that I did not hear anywhere else. He even shared with me his assumptions about the random thoughts running through the minds of managers. All this baseball was just for me – because I felt he was talking just to me — plus a little bit of history, philosophy, theology and commentary about life to put it all in perspective.

Vin is a New Yorker, though he has been in California since the Dodgers moved there for the 1958 season. He was born in The Bronx and raised in the Washington Heights section of northern Manhattan. Vin is a religious man. Brought up in an Irish Catholic family, he attended Fordham Prep and Fordham University with its Jesuit influences.

While at college, he was a student broadcaster on WFUV-FM, the school’s radio station that up until about 30 years ago predominantly was student-run. The roll call from its studios include names of entertainers, broadcasters and journalists you easily will recognize. The names span the pre-Vin years to his contemporaries to those who have followed. Hundreds of others have walked the same halls at Fordham and sat behind its radio microphone but those names will not be known to you. Be assured that they, too, have gone onto highly successful careers.

Vin learned valuable lessons at that station and when he worked with Red Barber on Brooklyn Dodgers broadcasts. Be yourself, Barber told him, because there is no one else like you. He also learned to allow the roar of the crowd to help him tell a story.

As he comes to his ninth inning and eventual postgame, I wonder how Vin plans to close out the game. Will he be philosophical? Possibly poetic? Maybe historical? Or will it be a simple “See you around the ballpark!”

Whatever he decides, he has had a fantastic life in and out of baseball. He has touched—and called—them all!

Good Luck To Nick DiPietro
Aug 01, 2016Posted by james

The high school lacrosse awards continued to flow on Long Island during June and I did not want too much time to pass before I congratulate senior Half Hollow Hills High School East lacrosse defensemen Nick DiPietro.

That’s my alma mater, and Nick received the 2016 James C. Metzger Outstanding Player Award that is presented annually to the outstanding boys lacrosse player at the Suffolk County school. He also received the John Fernandez Courage Award presented by the Suffolk County Lacrosse Coaches Association. This award recognizes a player who has overcome difficult circumstances with the same spirit as U.S. Army Lieutenant John Fernandez. Nick was honored for his work ethic to overcome a major sports injury at such a young age to return to the game and to lead his team on an off the field.

Nick was a five-year varsity starter, a two-time Thunderbirds co-captain and a 2016 team co-most valuable player. His 2016 statistics were 71 ground balls, three goals, three assists and an average of three takeaways per game. His high school career statistics are 201 ground balls, 130 caused turnovers, six assists and seven goals.

Named to the Newsday Top 20 preseason players list for 2015 and 2016, Nick also was named to the 2015 and 2016 USA Today pre-season All-American team. He was a 2016 USA U19 (under age 19) invitee, 2016 Lacrosse Insider top two tristate defenseman and a Nike Lacrosse The Ride invitee (top 50 players in the country).

Nick also received 2016 first team All-American honors and was named to the 2016 Newsday All-Long Island boys lacrosse second team.

For a while, Nick’s lacrosse play was in jeopardy. His junior year season ended early when he tore an ACL and suffered additional knee damage. After surgery and during rehabilitation, Nick’s continued leadership, dedication and determination to recover helped guide the team to a league championship and playoff appearance that season and this past season.

Nick’s high school days now are behind him. He’s off to Syracuse University, where he had committed since his sophomore year. More awards should be on the horizon for Nick as long as he maintains his love and spirit for the game.

- Jim

A Little Business Talk With That Ballpark Frank
Jul 16, 2016Posted by james

Now that we are in the middle of summer, the prominent sports talk around here is about baseball. (Okay, golf, too). While listening to all the baseball talk, I came to realize that so many common baseball expressions have been adapted by those of us in business. This probably goes all the way back in time to when the first pitch was thrown during an organized ballgame.

Here are just a few of the popular terms we use every day that I quickly jotted on my notepad

  • That came out of left field.
  • Cover your bases.
  • Give me a ballpark figure.
  • Hit it out of the park!
  • You’re batting 1,000.
  • Step up to the plate.

I then wondered if the language of baseball — that lingo used by players and managers between the foul lines – had borrowed any words or terms from commerce. After a little digging, I quickly discovered that several expressions from America’s pastime can be traced to business.

  • A “can of corn” refers to an easy catch of a fly ball by an outfielder.

During the 19th century, clerks at general stores were looking for an easy way to reach canned goods such as corn that had been stacked high on shelves. They used long sticks with hooks, pulling the cans from the shelves. They easily caught the cans in their aprons, similar to a fly ball nestling into a glove.

  • When a player is in a difficult situation, such as a rundown between bases, he is caught in a “pickle.”

Shakespeare is thought to be the first to use the idiom “in a pickle” in The Tempest. But, in England, the meaning of the expression is different than our interpretation. “Pickle” refers to a food item similar to relish, and one who is “in a pickle” is “sauced” or “drunk.” On our side of the pond, to relate to our game of baseball, “in a pickle” did come from the food industry. It means “in a tough spot,” similar to a cucumber stuck sitting in vinegary brine for days.

  • The term “butcher boy” refers to the strategy of a batter who draws in the infielders when he squares to bunt but then pulls back the bat to deliver a downward swing.

This term, if not the actual play, is attributed to legendary player and manager Casey Stengel. He was inspired by the motion a boy used in a butcher shop to cleave meat. Stengel ordered it whenever he wanted a player to hit a ground ball, especially when a runner was on third base during a close game and the team needed the run.

So, now that we have come to the end of this little “game,” I guess it is “safe” to say that baseball and business have “covered all the bases” for more than 150 years!