Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #79

Sept. 29 – Oct. 5, 2013

Welcome to week seventy-nine of the Sports Doing Good newsletter. This week’s stories include:

  1. College soccer player Bree McMahon loses leg, keeps reaching for her dreams
  2. Football fan’s quest helps him to savor his fading sight
  3. Wayne Rooney’s new piece of headgear has its roots in New York City
  4. Cruyff’s romantic footballing philosophy burns strong
  5. Israeli Contributes to Conference on Sports as Game-Changer
  6. Commentary: Sport for All Makes Us More Fully Human
  7. ‘Build the Monster’: With rugby player Daniel Adongo, the learning curve is steep, but the NFL payoff may be huge
  8. HOFer Jim Brown gets game ball from Cleveland Browns
  9. Legendary Coach Trains Blind Athletes To Judo Success
  10. New York Jets’ ‘Big Snacks’ making big impact; Damon Harrison, the water boy in middle school, now starts at NT for Gang Green

One of the great things about sports is the permanence that it can hold in our lives. From a young player to a seasoned professional, from a decades-old fan to a youngster attending his first game, from a weekend warrior playing a game she has always loved to being a coach of a new group of aspiring athletes, we can interact with sports throughout our lives in a variety of ways. And we see on a regular basis at Sports Doing Good stories that highlight these stages of our sports experiences. This week we had an especially vibrant example of that.

Jim Brown, one of the greatest, if not the greatest NFL player of all time was celebrated this week by the team he starred for, the Cleveland Browns. At halftime in front of thousands and after the game in front of a more intimate group, Brown’s contribution to the game of football and the Browns franchise was appropriately lauded. The night was an opportunity to celebrate one whose exploits on the field are legendary.

We this week also have a story of someone with absolute zero history when it comes to America’s favorite sport. A young Kenyan rugby player is being introduced to a world with shoulder pads, forward passes, and cheerleaders. Daniel Adongo is being given an opportunity millions of guys have wished for, a shot to become a professional football (American-version) player. Whether Daniel succeeds as an NFL player or not, he has embraced this opportunity to try something new, to test his physical and mental abilities, and potentially become a pioneer for many others who see our version of football as a curious experiment involving strategy and violence.

Interestingly, we had a football-heavy (American and global versions) week of stories. Seven of the first 10 stories involve those playing the world’s favorite or America’s favorite games. So we invite you to learn about: college soccer player Bree McMahon; long-time football fan Patrick Yarber; pro soccer player Wayne Rooney; soccer legend Johan Cruyff; and new football pro Damon Harrison. Of course, we are also able to offer an array of stories dealing with individuals in other sports from both the U.S. and around the world testing themselves and/or encouraging the efforts of those young and old on and off the field of play.

Please continue to send along your stories. You are both our audience and our best source of stories. Our Twitter handle is @sportsdoinggood, and you can find us at

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So enjoy. And have a good week.

College soccer player Bree McMahon loses leg, keeps reaching for her dreams
“I love practice every single day,” McMahon said. “I cherish every single practice I go through, no matter how much it hurts, no matter how exhausted I am at the end of it. I’m just glad to be able to go to practice at the end of the day.”

The inspiring true story of Bree McMahon, who didn’t let the loss of her left leg keep her from chasing her dream to play college soccer. Graham Hays/espnW

Football fan’s quest helps him to savor his fading sight
Once he started, he didn’t know how to stop. A few years ago, with his sight growing progressively worse, he realized he had attended games in about two-thirds of the stadiums that housed FBS teams. So why not hit them all? He visited 11 new stadiums last year. He had seven on his schedule this year, including No. 125.

Patrick Yarber watches UB in action Saturday at UB Stadium, the 121st venue he’s visited. Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News

Wayne Rooney’s new piece of headgear has its roots in New York City
For a U.S. soccer company that’s just emerging onto the scene, you couldn’t ask for a better celebrity endorsement than Rooney, who has scored three goals in the two games he has worn the headgear. “It’s given us a lot of attention and credibility,” says Storelli, who says the global response has been immense. “Now we’re suddenly in talks with distributors all over the place.”

Wayne Rooney has scored three goals since he started wearing headgear on Saturday. (Man Utd via Getty Images)

Cruyff’s romantic footballing philosophy burns strong
The way Cruyff thinks remains almost as enthralling as the way he used to play or manage. He has become one of football’s sages, arguably the most influential figure in its history. That becomes clear when he starts to elaborate on the Total Football approach first instilled on Ajax in the late ‘60s, and how it all remains so recognisable.

Johan Cruyff is arguably the most influential figure in football’s history. GettyImages

Israeli Contributes to Conference on Sports as Game-Changer
“Sports can really change the life of people, it can change realities,” said Hay, who directs the sports department for the Peres Center for Peace, the Tel Aviv-based nonprofit organization founded in 1996 by Israel’s current president, Shimon Peres.

Commentary: Sport for All Makes Us More Fully Human
The time has come to go beyond the status quo of who gets to participate in sport. Let’s envision every sport, recreation and physical activity program in the U.S. and worldwide as an opportunity for inclusion, for participation by those on the margins. Do that, and lives everywhere will be enhanced.

‘Build the Monster’: With rugby player Daniel Adongo, the learning curve is steep, but the NFL payoff may be huge
The reaction in the rugby world to his decision to try the NFL was mixed. Some believed he’d made a mistake, abandoning a sport in which his only obstacle was experience. Others celebrated the decision, hoping that if Adongo succeeded, it would open up more opportunities for rugby players in American football, and get more American eyes on their sport.

Adongo, seen here with the Blue Bulls of Pretoria in April 2012, had obvious physical abilities, but as a latecomer to rugby had yet to develop the field awareness of more experienced players. (Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

HOFer Jim Brown gets game ball from Cleveland Browns
The team honored Brown by wearing brown pants and jerseys together for the first time ever. The Hall of Famer was also given a proper ceremony at halftime recognizing his inclusion in the Ring of Honor at FirstEnergy Stadium. But possibly the coolest praise for the man considered by many to be the greatest player in NFL history came in the winning locker room.

Jim Brown walks onto the field with his wife Monique during a halftime ceremony to honor the Hall of Fame running back. (Chuck Crow / The Plain Dealer)

Legendary Coach Trains Blind Athletes To Judo Success
He is focusing his energies now on training blind and visually impaired athletes in the techniques of judo. The close quarters and nearly constant contact between competitors makes judo a good fit for the blind. In 2003, Willie co-founded the Blind Judo Foundation to help athletes cover the costs of training for, and traveling to, judo competitions.

New York Jets’ ‘Big Snacks’ making big impact; Damon Harrison, the water boy in middle school, now starts at NT for Gang Green
“I always knew he was special,” said Miller, his old college coach, “but I didn’t realize he was NFL special.” Meanwhile, somewhere on the road, Bauer is smiling. “It makes you proud,” he said. “I love Damon as a person. He’s one of those kids you want to cheer for. We spend a lot of time on the road. To see it pay off, yeah, it’s fun.”

Damon Harrison tackles the Patriots’ Stevan Ridley back in Week 2. Jim Rogash/Getty Images


18 Blogs with Team Building Exercises for Kids
Team building is often used in corporate America to help companies become more unified, however, these exercises are also an effective tool for teachers and coaches when working with children. Take a look at these 18 blogs to learn how these professionals use team building exercises to help kids succeed.

Orlando Magic Employees Contribute 6,000-Plus Community Service Hours to Central Florida
The MVP was developed to encourage Orlando Magic employees to get out and get involved in the community. The program began in July of 2006 with the goal of performing 2,000 hours of community service during the 2006-07 season; over 3,800 hours were tracked that first year. Since program inception nearly 41,000 hours in the Central Florida community have been tracked.

A Football Match Where Hooligans Take a Back Seat to Vikings
What brought them to London was not the queen or the changing of the guard or the wonders of Shakespeare, but the expanding reach of the National Football League, ever more hungry for the kind of global popularity and income that the world’s “beautiful game,” soccer, represents.

Football Gains Toehold in Nation of Soccer Fans: At Wembley stadium in London, a sold-out crowd of 83,500 people watched as the Minnesota Vikings defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers. Andrew Testa for The New York Times

Show and Tell: A Wallet With a Wallop (Russell Wilson)
As Russell Wilson stepped to the podium in the auditorium at VMAC for his weekly Q&A session, the second-year quarterback turned it into a show-and-tell session. Wilson couldn’t wait to share the wallet Allison had made him. She is one of the cancer patients he visits each week at Seattle Children’s Hospital on the players off day.

NFL and the Urology Care Foundation Team Up to Offer Winning Game Plan for Prostate Cancer Awareness
Mike Haynes, former defensive back and Pro Football Hall of Fame member, is the official campaign spokesperson and travels the country with other NFL “Team Haynes” ambassadors driving the message of prostate health awareness and raising funds for prostate cancer research.

Cuba to Let Its Athletes Play Abroad
In another step toward lifting restrictions on its citizens abroad, Cuba announced Friday that its athletes could sign contracts with foreign professional sports leagues, raising the prospect of a flood of new talent around the world but possibly not much in the United States.

Ramon Espinosa (AP)

How Physical Fitness May Promote School Success
Children who are physically fit absorb and retain new information more effectively than children who are out of shape, a new study finds, raising timely questions about the wisdom of slashing physical education programs at schools.

Students exercise during physical education class at P.S. 457 in the Bronx. Librado Romero/The New York Times

Women Shaping a New Path Among a Rich Baseball Tradition
As rare a sight as they are in major sports leagues — the N.F.L. and Major League Soccer said they had no female head groundskeepers — Nabozny and McFadyen are not alone. According to the Sports Turf Managers Association in Lawrence, Kan., women occupy top positions on the college level. They include Abby McNeal, Wake Forest’s director of turf management, and Amy Fouty, Michigan State’s athletic turf manager.

Nicole McFadyen has been the Baltimore Orioles’ head groundskeeper since 2007. Matt Roth for The New York Times

Colorado State’s Kivon Cartwright speaking loud and clear
“His self confidence is something that has risen with how he attacks every day and committed to doing what it takes to be great,” McElwain said. “Not only in football, but I’m talking in the classroom, spiritually, all the different things he stands for. To see him give a talk in front of the team, that’s something that really warms your heart.”

Kivon Cartwright has worked hard to overcome a stuttering issue, reaching the point where one would hardly know. It s that same tenacity that has led him to becoming an all-around tight end at Colorado State. (Steve Stoner)

Hockey HOFer Bobby Orr opens up on giving and living
Most important to Orr, his book sounds an alarm over what he considers “the decaying values in youth sports.’’ He sees many coaches and parents so obsessed with winning that they are stifling joy and creativity, possibly preventing the next Bobby Orr from emerging.

Bobby Orr was a prolific scorer, but some of his most meaningful assists have come off the ice. John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

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Our goal is to have Sports Doing Good be a portal housing original content and excerpts from and links to the increasing number of articles, websites, video, and other media that showcase the good in sports and society. We aim to celebrate those concepts, activities, events, and individuals by highlighting them for a wider audience. Much of the news today, whether sports- related or not, is incredibly negative and increasingly polarizing, biased, and quite annoying. We are trying to refocus some of the discussion on the good, with a focus on sports.Our mission is to have Sport Doing Good be a consistent, and significant, contributor to the areas of sports, social responsibility and development. We look forwarding to partnering with other stakeholders in producing content, in creating and/or sponsoring athletic and service events, knowledge sharing, and conferences/seminars, and even having a commercial arm that could be the source of innovative social businesses.We invite you to send in news, press releases, and guest pieces for possible publication, and email us with suggestions about the content and format of the newsletter and Sports Doing Good website.
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