Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #190

Nov. 22 – Nov. 28, 2015

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

  1. Football Coach and Team Get Big Surprise ‘Thank You’ on ‘GMA’
  2. Chicago’s Local Champion Coaches at Joakim Noah’s Foundation
  3. Holly Holm’s Advice For Athletic Girls Who Get Bullied
  4. Dikembe Mutombo: “My House” (The Players’ Tribune)
  5. Why Steelers’ Arthur Moats donated 10 percent of his $6M career earnings
  6. Handed Life’s Twists, Notre Dame Quarterback Turns It Around
  7. Laureus pursues its own ‘Global Goal’ – working to ensure tomorrow is better than today
  8. Orlando Magic Join the Coalition for the Homeless for the 23rd Year Serving Thanksgiving Breakfast to the Coalition Residents
  9. St. Louis Sports Commission Announces the Winners of the 2015 Musial Awards for Outstanding Sportsmanship
  10. Even Ballet Dancers Are in Awe of Stephen Curry’s Moves

This week we again feature our normal 10-story line-up. However, we are fortunate that one of the stories – the St. Louis Sports Commission’s announcement of the 10 winners at this year’s 2015 Musial Awards for Outstanding Sportsmanship – highlights an additional group of individuals who, in ways big and small, demonstrated what he means to be a sportsperson and to act in the service of others. Please check out the list of 10 winners.

Another story we include this week takes an interesting look at one of the most gifted athletes in the world, the Golden State Warriors’ MVP guard, Steph Curry. Seen through the eyes of experts from the world of ballet, Curry’s athletic movements on the court, with and without the ball, were recognized to be similar to those expert ballet dancers. Fluid, calm, strong, and extremely coordinated, Curry often seems to not be exerting much energy. That efficiency in motion is what is most recognizable to those from the world of ballet. That, and the brilliance of his overall play, of course.

The other stories we are happy to feature this week include: a dedicated football coach beloved by his school and the community; a specially trained coach joining a leading athlete non-profit foundation; advice from UFC champion Holly Holm to girls being bullied; a first-person piece from basketball Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo on the occasion of having his number retired; the generosity of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Arthur Moats; the resilience of University of Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer and his girlfriend Elli Thatcher; words from a leader in the world of sport and development, Laureus Foundation; and the long-standing commitment of the NBA’s Orlando Magic to their community.

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So enjoy. And have a good week.

Football Coach and Team Get Big Surprise ‘Thank You’ on ‘GMA’
After years as a successful college football coach, Uzelac came out of retirement in July to coach the Tigers for a salary of only $1 per year. He turned around the losing team and touched the lives of the students in the troubled district. “We needed him and he needed us. It was a perfect fit — made in heaven,” said Ruth Harvey, the team’s equipment manager. Jeremy Burrell, a football player, remembers Uzelac’s encouraging words. The head coach told the team it had lots of work to do. “‘We’re going to get it done,'” Burrell said, recalling Uzelac’s words. Percy Brown has his own memories about the coach. “Next game he said, ‘You all are going to win,’ and we won … and we just kept winning,” Brown said. The team made it to the playoffs. In the first game, Brown scored three touchdowns. “The team had fun. We couldn’t believe it … the crowd was crazy,” Brown said. Harvey said a lot of the players on the team come from single parent homes and many have to help their parents. She says the coach has a passion for what he does and an unconditional love for his players.

Chicago’s Local Champion Coaches at Joakim Noah’s Foundation
With Chicago’s history of violence, a non-profit organization called Noah’s Arc Foundation, has taken a stance to help children by promoting peace and positivity in the community using arts and sports. Founded in 2010 by Joakim Noah, a center for the Chicago Bulls, and his artist mother, Cecilia Rodhe, this foundation promotes peace in Chicago by providing children in the downtown area a safe refuge to express themselves and channel their energy and emotions through arts and sports. Joakim’s vision for the program is to help the children improve themselves in positive ways rather than turn to the streets, start a fight, or join a gang. Noah’s Arc Foundation started as a small organization, which ran its art and sports programs only a few times a year. Fast-forward five years, and the organization is now running several programs each week. Partnerships – like the one with Up2Us Sports – has made that growth possible. Shannon Pagels of Noah’s Arc recalls, “We received a call from someone at Up2Us Sports who was interested in getting to know Joakim and his work. As the conversation went on, we said hey, we have these great programs but we need coaches, talented and trained coaches, to be a part of these programs.” Enter EJ Ollison, Noah’s Arc Foundation’s first and only full-time basketball coach.

Holly Holm’s Advice for Athletic Girls Who Get Bullied
Fresh off her “unthinkable” win against the previously undefeated Ronda Rousey, UFC fighter Holly Holm shared with HuffPost Live her advice for tackling another formidable opponent: bullies. When a viewer asked the newly crowned bantamweight champion for advice for “young girls who are athletic and don’t conform to the Hollywood ideal,” Holm shared the wise words that helped her throughout her own childhood. “One thing that my parents taught me — and it’s something that has carried with me now — is just be confident in who you are, because there’s only one of you and you can’t trade yourself in for anything. It’s just you,” Holm said Monday. “No matter what other things are outside of you, you’re in control of your own happiness.” Holm said she wasn’t picked on excessively as a kid, though she did feel self-conscious about her body. “I was a big girl. I weighed 145 going into high school,” she said. But she never let antagonism from her peers get to her, she added, because ultimately bullies are the ones who will be forced to reckon with how they made another person feel.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 15: Ronda Rousey of the United States (L) and Holly Holm of the United States compete in their UFC women’s bantamweight championship bout during the UFC 193 event at Etihad Stadium on November 15, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Pat Scala /Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Dikembe Mutombo: “My House” (The Players’ Tribune)
Tuesday night is a special moment for me. I am proud to be considered one of the best shot-blockers in NBA history. But I could not have done this alone. I learned from so many great teammates and coaches. Patrick Ewing is a brother to me today. But back at Georgetown, he was tough on me. He was already an NBA star, and he would come back to campus during the summer to help coach our team. He showed me what it would take to get to the next level. I haven’t seen many people put in as many hours in the gym as Patrick Ewing did. Do you remember how much Patrick would sweat during a game? He would sweat twice as much in practice. Patrick was always sweating. It’s because he worked so hard — in practice or in a game, it didn’t matter. In the summers, Patrick would make us wake up really early in the morning to work out. We were college students, so we hated waking up early. But Patrick would scream at us if we showed up late. He’d call us all kinds of names — I cannot even repeat them. He tried to make us work out seven days a week. I would be like, “Patrick, it’s Sunday. I’ve got to go to church …”

Photograph by Anthony Neste/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

Why Steelers’ Arthur Moats donated 10 percent of his $6M career earnings
When Moats got to the league, he was making an average salary of about $420,000 in three years with Buffalo. He started donating around $50,000, or 11.9 percent, to various causes that inspired him. He made $1.32 million in 2013 and donated around $100,000 as a result, he said. This year, his signing bonus plus an $850,000 salary equals around $2.75 million, so he’s giving $300,000, possibly more. After playing on the veteran minimum of $730,000 for Pittsburgh last season, Moats signed an offseason extension of three years, $7.5 million. “Every year, we’ll set a budget out,” Moats said about his financial process with his family, which he calls frugal when it comes to long-term saving. “We’re making this much, how much do we want to donate? Then we decide on a number — who do we want to have an impact on? What can we do to spice it up since we have more money to donate? Then we pray about it, bounce some ideas off each other.” Cutting a check seems impersonal. Moats is invested in his target areas for donation. He remembers being a young college kid with no money, and the way he sees it, JMU helped mold him into a stable adult.

Paying it forward: Arthur Moats “wanted to make a larger impact” and donated $300K to James Madison, his alma mater. Courtesy of JMU athletics

Handed Life’s Twists, Notre Dame Quarterback Turns It Around
Four hours away, Thatcher still has daily challenges: The surgery left half of her throat, her vocal cords and her tongue paralyzed, making swallowing and speaking difficult. And her left leg is paralyzed below the knee, an effect of the surgery, and a condition that doctors fear will not change. Although she has been unable to travel to South Bend, Thatcher saw Kizer play in person for the first time on Nov. 7, in Notre Dame’s 42-30 win over Pittsburgh. In some ways, she has connected her journey to Kizer’s. And Kizer, feeding off Thatcher’s recovery and his father’s advice, has risen from the depths of the spring through lessons that his sped-up football education could never have provided alone. “You keep fighting day in and day out with issues at the time, and I eventually said: ‘You know what, this is it: I’m at my lowest,’ ” Kizer said. “It’s only up from here.”

Kizer and Thatcher after her surgery in April.

Laureus pursues its own ‘Global Goal’ – working to ensure tomorrow is better than today
At the turn of 2000, the United Nations announced their ‘Millennium Development Goals’. This was an ambitious attempt to bring common focus to the world’s leaders. Fast forward 15 years, and MDG has evolved into ‘Global Goals for Sustainable Development’. It’s a suitably long name for a programme with even bigger ambitions: namely to find a way to transcend political election cycles and unite the public, private and non-profit sectors in protecting the future of our planet. At first sight, the connection between Sport for Development and Global Goals seems tenuous, but in fact it could not be stronger. Global Goals outlines targets such as the reduction of poverty, the equality of gender and ethnic groups; indeed the harmony of mankind itself, as well as the harmonious relationship between mankind and nature. All of this can be supported through sport. Nelson Mandela, who became the Patron of Laureus, once famously said: “Sport has the power to change the world.” In that same speech, at the inaugural Laureus World Sports Awards in 2000, he added: “It is more powerful than governments in breaking down barriers.”

Laureus pursues its own ‘Global Goal’ – working to ensure tomorrow is better than today

Orlando Magic Join the Coalition for the Homeless for the 23rd Year Serving Thanksgiving Breakfast to the Coalition Residents
“Some of the people here at the Coalition feel like no one cares and they’ve been forgotten, yet today they are being served by the Orlando Magic players, staff and management. They’re giving their time and resources to make sure the people here at the Coalition feel loved,’’ Trotter said. “We rely on volunteers but this is 23 years in a row that the Magic have come on Thanksgiving morning to help out our residents and all of those in the community who are in need.’’ Because the face of homelessness has shifted from the middle-aged male to more and more mothers and small children – they make up 40 percent of the inhabitants at the Coalition and the average age of the children is 8 years old – the Magic also offered other services on Thursday to make sure the people there enjoyed their Thanksgiving fully. The Magic hosted an outdoor carnival for children that included an appearance by STUFF, the Magic Dancers and the Magic Blue Crew; a Magic Fit exercise station, Pop-a-shot and bounce house; caricatures, games, face painting, balloon art; and music by 104.5 The Beat. Also, adults and children were treated to haircuts by Paul Mitchell The School. “For me, I’m so grateful for the Coalition and everything they have done for my family and all the children here,’’ said Orlando’s Rachele Tucholski, who was with her son Isaiah Tucholski and they have lived at the Coalition since Oct. 1. “My expectation of this day is to just be grateful for what we have. Without the Coalition and without the Magic we wouldn’t have much at all. I say thank you for blessing me and my child today.’’

St. Louis Sports Commission Announces the Winners of the 2015 Musial Awards for Outstanding Sportsmanship
From Arnold Palmer to 10-year-old Keaton Hamin, it will be a show for the ages at this year’s Musial Awards. The golf legend and the youth hockey player are among those coming from all levels of sport – and all walks of life – to be honored in St. Louis for extraordinary sportsmanship.  They will join an unforgettable lineup of award recipients that includes Turner sportscaster Ernie Johnson, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny and other individuals who have displayed remarkable character, kindness, selflessness and integrity in sports. The Musial Awards – presented by Maryville University – honor Stan the Man’s legacy by celebrating iconic “good sports” and the year’s greatest moments of sportsmanship.  The event is produced annually by the St. Louis Sports Commission and the National Sportsmanship Foundation. Additional background and stories on all of the 2015 Musial Awards honorees can be found by clicking on the “Honorees” link at

Even Ballet Dancers Are in Awe of Stephen Curry’s Moves
When dancers jump and twist and glide across the stage, they rely on centripetal force — essentially the energy that pulls toward a center — for balance, Lustig said. But they must also possess remarkable core strength to be able to spin and soar at such dizzying heights. Lustig sees that type of strength whenever Curry leaves his feet, and especially when he lands, as strange as that might sound. “It’s a lot easier to throw yourself up in the air and try to do something than it is to come down with control,” Lustig said. “And he’s not even trying to do something beautiful. His coach isn’t telling him how to land, but he does. It’s innate. His whole body knows what to do both in the air and in the return.” Every movement in ballet involves a great deal of skill, but the aerial theatrics are always rooted in the same foundation: bending at the knees, a movement known as plié. Dancers bend their legs before they leap, and they bend their legs before they land — all of it designed to ensure balance and to make their bodies more elastic. “That is the baseline that everyone is working from,” Lustig said.

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