Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #144

Dec. 28 – Jan. 3, 2015

Welcome to week one hundred forty-four of the Sports Doing Good newsletter. This week’s 10 stories include:

  1. A First at the Garden Earns an Encore
  2. The Southampton Way
  3. Separate and Unequal: The Moral Challenge for Youth Sports in America
  4. Peyton Manning makes sure Indiana couple has night to remember
  5. Thanks, Mom, for all you did for me
  6. Florida State’s unusual bond with Seminole Tribe puts mascot debate in a different light
  7. A high school basketball miracle in Minnesota
  8. Caps’ Troy Brouwer delivers memory for his father in Winter Classic
  9. VIDEO: Lionel Messi shows off insane 1st touch on Japanese TV show
  10. Amish pride: Ohio buggy sports ‘Go Bucks’ sign after Sugar Bowl win

Last week we featured a story of a fan of the Seattle Seahawks who received a special package in the mail from the team. He was literally brought to tears, overcome likely by the thoughts and feelings of being considered by those about whom he has spent countless hours thinking and feeling. “Aren’t they too busy to recognize me, a single fan?” Turns out that the team wasn’t and that was what was so moving.

We have another story this week that features the efforts of an athlete/team doing the seemingly unthinkable and acknowledging the support of one of their fans. NFL “good guy” Peyton Manning was a key part of this effort, but so was his team, the Denver Broncos.

Some might think that this type of feeling and emotion is reserved for kids, that they are the only ones who can be wowed by such acts. We say, “Absolutely not.” Fans of all types and ages have a connection to players and teams that create special feelings that many of us can appreciate and would absolutely love to experience. Bravo to everyone in sports that make such opportunities possible.

Other stories we are happy to feature this week include: a look back at one of the seminal moments in women’s sports getting another run through at the “World’s Most Famous Arena”; the special way that a football team in England is able to succeed against many of the big name and big money teams in its league; Florida State University’s special relationship with the Seminole Tribe; the never-say-die attitude of a high school girls basketball team that had not won a game in 4 years but made magic happen against all odds; and a couple of fun stories, one involving football superstar Lionel Messi and another involving the Amish. That’s right, the Amish! (“Go Bucks!”)

Finally, going back to the first idea presented in the Introduction this week, we wanted to highlight a video that received a lot of attention this week on social media. It doesn’t involve an athlete and sports fans but it does strikingly highlight the type of connection that celebrities, and that includes athletes, can have with those who support them. To see a series of wonderful reactions, please watch this great video involving music star Taylor Swift and some of her fans.

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.

A First at the Garden Earns an Encore
The game is a distant but shining beacon, its significance magnified across four decades of growth. But the first women’s college basketball game at Madison Square Garden was initially just a showdown between fierce rivals, producing a winner, a loser and acute memories of how the result came about. That was the whole point of the clash between Queens College and little Immaculata of Pennsylvania on Feb. 22, 1975: to demonstrate that women were ready — overdue, in fact — to compete anytime, anywhere, including on the country’s biggest basketball stage.

Immaculata beat Queens, 65-61, in the first women’s college basketball game at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 22, 1975. Credit Joyce Dopkeen/The New York Times

The Southampton Way
Known as a “selling club” that operates on a relatively modest budget, Southampton FC isn’t a side that should be competing with the heavyweights in England. Yet thanks to an extremely well run youth academy, a passionate fan base and a smart vision that pervades all levels of the club, the Saints continue to thrive despite their underdog status. In this edition of “PL Download,” Roger Bennett of “Men in Blazers” fame visits the well-run south England club and spends time with coaches, players and executives to find out more about the Southampton Way. Bennett also wrote about the experience for NBC SportsWorld. Here’s what he had to say about the trip to Southampton:

Separate and Unequal: The Moral Challenge for Youth Sports in America
We need to return to the vision that once democratized youth sports in America. That vision once brought the public and private sectors together to improve the lives of children, especially the most vulnerable. Last June, Play Like a Champion Today’s Youth Sports Leadership Conference at the University of Notre Dame honored Michael Poole and Deacon James Page for their work with the South Bend Breakers, a basketball program founded by Poole that serves inner-city girls and boys in South Bend. When asked what led him to devote his life to caring for other people’s children, Deacon Page said simply, “These are our kids.” Youth sports in America have become unfair and dysfunctional. We owe our children better.

Peyton Manning makes sure Indiana couple has night to remember
The Pattersons described Manning as personable, approachable and, above all else, genuine. “He seemed genuinely tickled that we lived in North Pole, Alaska. He said, ‘You guys are really hard to find,'” Patterson said. “Before he left he shook my hand and thanked me for my service one more time and I thanked him for being my quarterback.”(Kristen) enjoyed the fact that she is the greatest wife ever and there was nothing I could ever do to top this. “If you asked me who is the one person, anybody in the world, I want to meet, I would immediately say Peyton Manning and she made that happen.”

Kristen Patterson with her husband Army Sgt. Ryan Patterson met Peyton Manning before the Broncos-Bengals, Dec. 22, 2014.  (Photo: Provided by Kristen Patterson)

Thanks, Mom, for all you did for me
This week, I found myself revisiting my favorite sports memory: That absurdly wonderful and improbable Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. My mom proclaimed the Cardinals’ cause lost about a hundred times that night. We were watching in adjacent rooms, as we sometimes did when I was too tense to sit down and would pace between the two televisions. When David Freese’s game-winning and series-saving home run landed beyond the center-field wall, I collapsed onto the couch in the den — laughing, crying and yelling all at the same time. After a few moments, I looked up and there was Mom, wearing a little grin. “They’re damn lucky they won,” she said, beaming. “But they still have to win Game 7, you know.” I was damn lucky to have my mother for as long as I did. But now I still have to keep on going, I know. I’ll do the best I can, Mom. You deserve nothing less.

Sports, particularly the Cardinals, were something Mechelle Voepel shared with her dad. But after he died, a retired Dorothy Voepel really embraced televised sports.

Florida State’s unusual bond with Seminole Tribe puts mascot debate in a different light
The course — born in 2006, hatched right after the NCAA clamored about changing Native American mascots, conceived with input from the Seminole Tribe of Florida — doubles as epitome. It demonstrates the unusual bond between a 41,000-strong university way up in the Florida Panhandle and a 4,000-strong tribe that history shoved into the Everglades and below Lake Okeechobee and way down almost to Miami, some 400 miles from Room 208 of the HCB Classroom Building. It helps explain why, if Native American mascots keep ebbing in the United States through the 21st century, “Florida State Seminoles” could be the last one standing in the 22nd…“It’s an absolute reverence,” said Myron Rolle, the 28-year-old former Florida State safety and Rhodes Scholar. “It’s a reverence where the spirit, the unconquered nature of the internal values and ethos of these people, FSU tries to embody that. I love the way it’s intertwined.”

Florida State’s pre-game ritual, a tribute to Chief Osceola on horseback, was developed in consultation with the Seminole Tribe. (Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press)

A high school basketball miracle in Minnesota
And that’s really all their coach was expecting, a valiant effort. You can’t win three on five. In fact, they didn’t score once from the field. But they did play stellar defense. And when they did get the ball, they were able to draw some fouls. And when they did draw those fouls, they made those free throws. Enough of them that when the buzzer sounded, the Lady Knights of Climax Fisher were on a new streak. “All of us jumped out of our seats,” recalled Love. “We were all hugging and crying and screaming our heads off,” said Grove. “It was probably the best moment of my life,” added Adrianna Vasek.

Caps’ Troy Brouwer delivers memory for his father in Winter Classic
With 12.9 seconds left in regulation, Brouwer scored off the rebound of shot by teammate Alex Ovechkin, delivering a 3-2 victory for the Capitals. It came against his former team, the Chicago Blackhawks. And it happened in front of his father Don, who was seeing his son play for the first time in Washington, D.C. since the elder Brouwer suffered a stroke near the end of the 2009-10 season. ?“It’s pretty special,” Brouwer said. “I’ve had some good moments in my hockey career, but this one, with all the intangibles, that played a part in it. My parents being able to come into town, playing against my former team, this being the first goal that I scored against my former team and the dramatic fashion at the end of the game of how everything played out.

VIDEO: Lionel Messi shows off insane 1st touch on Japanese TV show
In yet another reminder that Lionel Messi isn’t from this planet, the Argentine phenom showcased his phenomenal first touch during a recent appearance on a Japanese television show. After a pair of trucks hoisted a fence to a height of 18 metres, Messi was asked to kick a ball over the obstacle and collect it on the other side. It’s a task that even some of the world’s greatest footballers would struggle to accomplish, but Messi had little difficulty performing the feat as he dropped the jaws of those who were watching.

Amish pride: Ohio buggy sports ‘Go Bucks’ sign after Sugar Bowl win
Ohio State’s win over Alabama on Thursday night was big. How big exactly? Big enough that even the Amish community made sure to show their Buckeye pride while out and about on Friday. One buggy sported a ‘Go Bucks 42-35’ as it cruised through town in Richwood, Ohio. Ohio is home to the largest Amish population in the United States and by the looks of it, a lot of them are Buckeye fans. I bet those guys are pretty good at duck hunting too.

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Contact InformationSarbjit “Sab” Singh