Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #296

Sept. 9 – Sept. 22, 2018

Welcome to issue two hundred and ninety-six of the Sports Doing Good newsletter. This week’s 10 stories include:

  1. Kyle Kuzma’s dream of having a LeBron-like impact on his hometown
  2. “A Good Guy In A Mean Sport”
  3. Eliud Kipchoge Is the Greatest Marathoner, Ever
  4. One day away: Ed Cooley, 9/11 and the recruit who saved his life
  5. The Zorrilla: Brooklyn’s Baseball Oasis
  6. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif’s Balancing Act
  7. LPGA star Lizette Salas’ unique bond with her Latin community
  8. Secrets Of Success From A 102-Year-Old Runner
  9. For Valentino Dixon, a wrong righted
  10. #UnitedBy friendship, respect and excellence – Santiago Lange

My Year as an Up2Us Coach with SCORES (Up2Us Sports)
Our vision for the future of sport and development (Sport and Dev)
Friday 21 September, A Date to Celebrate and Take Action (Peace and Sport)
Welcome to Space Camp (by Josh Dobbs)
Lucozade to Trial Edible Packaging at Sports Events

We present again our “Featured Video” offering(s). With the explosion of video content out there highlighting the good in sport, we want to showcase such content for your enjoyment and learning. This will be an ongoing effort.

Last Year Was Last Year (Isaiah Thomas and Markelle Fultz)


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Kyle Kuzma’s dream of having a LeBron-like impact on his hometown
Kuzma, 23, may not be running for office, but he hopes to follow in the footsteps of his new All-Star running mate on the court. Kuzma wants to help Flint the way James — who uses his platform to take a stand and speak out on social and political issues — has repeatedly given back to Akron. James recently helped build a school in his hometown. Kuzma dreams of one day having this kind of impact and leaving his imprint on his own Midwestern inner-city hometown in need of help and inspiration. “I am trying to do a lot,” Kuzma said. “Not so much now because I haven’t really made enough money [yet] to really make some things happen. … My thing is to keep spreading awareness. “During election time, [the water crisis] was such a big deal. And once that kind of went away, Flint went away. I want to try to keep it alive and really keep pushing it forward until I can do bigger and better things here.” In addition to spending time with kids at the Flint Y, Kuzma held his first basketball camp in town for 300 kids, who also got free backpacks filled with supplies that included bottled water.

KuzmaFormer NBA veteran and Flint native Charlie Bell said of Kyle Kuzma, “He has more reach than just about anybody I know [from Flint] right now.” Courtesy Y-USA

“A Good Guy In A Mean Sport”
In contrast, reflecting on his greatest achievements, Patterson noted that stepping off the plane at New York’s Idlewild Airport (former JFK) and being greeted by reporters after winning a gold medal at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, was his proudest moment. Patterson rose to prominence as a small heavyweight who displayed remarkable speed and power. Picked up and trained by the famous Cus d’Amato, he employed the ‘peek-a-boo’ style of boxing, which raised the gloves higher for quicker protection to the face. Bobbing and weaving to disrupt an opponent’s timing, he would often crouch and spring up from a low angle with combination punches, or leap up with a lethal left hook. Three decades later, that style would be used by another Cus D’Amato protégé, Mike Tyson. Quick, strong and intelligent, Patterson didn’t hesitate to pummel his ring rivals, but he also showed unusual respect. When he scored a knockout punch against Johansson in their third and last encounter, he kissed the Swede on the cheek, later saying “It was my expression of admiration for a man who had fought me well.” True to his legacy, Floyd Patterson was a gentleman boxer.,580

Patterson boxing

Eliud Kipchoge Is the Greatest Marathoner, Ever
Kipchoge is the type of person who says stuff like: “Only the disciplined ones in life are free. If you are undisciplined, you are a slave to your moods and your passions.” And: “It’s not about the legs; it’s about the heart and the mind.” And: “The best time to plant a tree was 25 years ago. The second-best time to plant a tree is today.” More to the point, Kipchoge is the type of person who can slip self-styled proverbs into casual conversation and somehow come across as sincere. An avid reader, his literary tastes range from Aristotle to sports biographies to self-help manuals. “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” by Stephen R. Covey, is one of his favorites. “I think you’d find it really interesting,” he said during an interview here at his hotel before Sunday’s race. Whenever Kipchoge reads — often in the library at his team’s training camp — he keeps a notebook handy so that he can take notes. “When you write, then you remember,” he said.

KipchogeBy the time he competed in Rio at the Olympics in 2016, Kipchoge’s gold medal was almost pre-ordained. He did not disappoint.Credit Olivier Morin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

One day away: Ed Cooley, 9/11 and the recruit who saved his life
He liked?? the kid from the first moment he saw him play. He was long, rangy and skilled for his size. Competitive, too. He was highly regarded nationally but not so coveted that they would have to beat out the elite blue-chip programs to get him. The kid came from a nice family in Los Angeles, and though it was a long way from home, he seemed intrigued by the idea of playing for Boston College. The kid liked him, too, although that was no surprise. Ed Cooley was hard not to like, and hard not to notice. He had a big frame with a personality to match. When he walked into a gym, the kid knew he was there. When they talked on the phone, the kid felt he had known him his whole life. “Coach Cooley was always very relatable,” Brandon Bowman recalls. “He was down to earth, but he still had that smooth, flashy swagger about him.” Cooley was in his fifth season as an assistant at BC under head coach Al Skinner. As the program’s primary West Coast recruiter, it was not uncommon for him to make five or six trips to L.A. in a month. Many of those visits lasted just one day. Cooley would take the first flight out of Boston, catch the redeye home, and go straight to campus for a full day of work. He was a grinder if ever there was one.


The Zorrilla: Brooklyn’s Baseball Oasis
The year was 1961 when Gracia arrived in the big city, and settled in east New York. Gracia says he played Class A-level baseball in his native Puerto Rico, and that a friend provided Gracia with an introduction to Brooklyn’s nascent Pedrin Zorrilla League, named for a longtime baseball scout who founded the league. “That year, I was the leader in ERA, strikeouts, wins, and I played in the all-star game in Red Hook,” says Gracia, referring to his first year with Zorrilla in ’61. His face, wizened by aging, has seen a lot of baseball played at City Line Park since then. Gracia says there aren’t as many fans in 2018 packing the stands like when he played, but this baseball outpost is still a vital link to young prospects hoping to play professionally, and to older players who are still hanging on, trying to keep that baseball dream alive. According to Ryan Morales, manager of the Top Brass Rangers, the Zorrilla is made of about 50 percent former minor-leaguers and MLB prospects. “Hands down the best baseball in New York,” says Dominican-born Abraham Sosa, who runs the Tenares team, named after the Dominican town where Sosa was born and raised. “I play a lot of baseball. I play around the whole state. But if you can play here, you can play anywhere.”

ESPN - Zorilla League

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif’s Balancing Act
For the most part, he has tried to keep his studies and his sport separate. But occasionally there’s been overlap. Once, in 2015, he had to take an orthopedic exam during the bye week, which happened to fall after the team beat the Lions in London. On the 11-hour flight home, as his teammates celebrated, Duvernay-Tardif studied. At home in the offseason, he sometimes scrambles into the gym while wearing a suit top and gym shorts. “He almost never misses a session,” says Eric Fafard, his personal trainer, “but if he does, he always has a good excuse—like assisting in a heart surgery.” To avoid distractions as he studied for his boards this spring, Duvernay-Tardif sequestered himself with his girlfriend, Florence, at a friend’s shack in the woods. Sometimes, to further isolate himself, he studies in the tub. Florence laughs when she walks in to find the papers he inevitably drops in the water drying. When he has to go on long drives, he prepares by recording himself explaining difficult material so he can listen to it on the road.

Duvernay-Tardif1Laurent Duvernay-Tardif spent the last four offseasons at McGill working to complete his medical degree, which he did this summer. Vincent Ethier for LDT Foundation

LPGA star Lizette Salas’ unique bond with her Latin community
Salas has become the centerpiece for American golfers of Hispanic descent, especially in her East L.A. hometown of Azusa, which has a 68 percent Latin population. But as Salas’ professional stature has grown during her seven years on the LPGA Tour, where she has won once, posted 26 top-10 finishes, played on three U.S. Solheim Cup teams and earned more than $4 million in prize money, so has her reach within the community she still calls home. “One of my goals was to create more awareness about golf where you might not think there is golf, especially in a large Hispanic community,” said Salas, currently ranked No. 24 in the world. The local San Gabriel Junior Golf program, started by her first golf instructor, Jerry Herrera, has taught 14,000 kids in 13 years. The public year-round program meets once a week at a per-child cost of $2 per session that includes professional instruction, unlimited range balls, scholastic tutoring, future-career mentoring and a variety of ways for kids to play golf.

LalasLizette Salas awards certificates to all the junior golf members of the Latina Golfers Association.

Secrets Of Success From A 102-Year-Old Runner
To improve her speed, Kaur tries to go to the track every day. Three days a week, she does shot put and javelin practice; the rest of the week, Singh puts her through her paces on the track. On sprint days she does runs of 30 meters, 40 meters and 50 meters. These are alternated with days when she does 100-meter and 200-meter runs. “And if the weather is inclement, I go to the gym and lift weights,” she says. Plus there’s a strict diet. She drinks kefir, soy milk and fresh juice in the mornings. At 11 a.m. she has a meal of lentils, vegetables and chapati — flat bread — made from sprouted wheat. At 4 p.m. it’s time for wheatgrass juice plus nuts and seeds. And in the evening, it’s again chapati with lentils, vegetables and a glass of soy milk. He and his mother stick with it because they both love it. “It is for our health and at this age, we are winning medals, so people also get inspired.” In January 2017, the government finally acknowledged their efforts in putting India on the map for senior sports, giving them an apartment close to the university stadium in Patiala.

KaurMan Kaur of India celebrates after competing in the 100-meter sprint in the 100+ age category at the World Masters Games in Auckland, New Zealand, in April 2017. Michael Bradley/AFP/Getty Images

For Valentino Dixon, a wrong righted
It took about a hundred drawings before Golf Digest noticed, but when we did, we also noticed his conviction seemed flimsy. So we investigated the case and raised the question of his innocence. The case is complicated, but on the surface it involves shoddy police work, zero physical evidence linking Dixon, conflicting testimony of unreliable witnesses, the videotaped confession to the crime by another man, a public defender who didn’t call a witness at trial, and perjury charges against those who said Dixon didn’t do it. All together, a fairly clear instance of local officials hastily railroading a young black man with a prior criminal record into jail. Dixon’s past wasn’t spotless, he had sold some cocaine, but that didn’t make him a murderer. Golf Digest’s 2012 article led to further national spotlights on the case by NBC/Golf Channel,, Fox Sports, the Georgetown University Prison Reform Project and others. Alongside this, Dixon’s daughter, Valentina, led a grassroots campaign to raise money for her father’s legal fees by selling his artwork online. Still, the gears of the legal system refused to turn.

DixonWith an investigation Golf Digest helped open, an Erie County court vacated Dixon’s murder conviction after he had already served 27 years in jail

#UnitedBy friendship, respect and excellence – Santiago Lange
Santiago (Santi) Lange is an Argentinian Olympic sailor who competed at the 1988, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2016 Olympic Summer Games. He has been selected as a Youth Olympic Games Role Model for the Buenos Aires 2018 Games…When Santiago Lange, six-time Olympic Games sailing competitor, was diagnosed with lung cancer five months before the Olympic Games Rio 2016, he didn’t give up. Instead, he relied on the positive fundamental values that come with competing – respect, friendship and excellence – to see him through. Those core qualities not only got him through challenging times, but are also guiding principles that apply both on and off the field – and that includes the high seas. “Those three values accompany me wherever I go,” Lange says. “When I look back at my life, a big constant is friendship. I would not go on the road to Tokyo if I didn’t think I would make friends doing so. To have good friends, you need respect, and to compete, you need respect. It would be stupid for me to keep participating in the Olympic cycle only for winning – so I strive for excellence. So, all three words – respect, friendship and excellence – are what I do it for.”

LangeGetty Images

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