Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #197

Jan. 10 – Jan. 16, 2016

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

  1. Where football is a formal affair
  2. A Road Less Traveled: UNC’s Justin Jackson Blossoming as a Throwback Player
  3. Nepal’s ex-child soldier blazes ultra-running trail
  4. Coach Across America: Golf Coach Goes Back to his Home Course to Teach Young Golfers
  5. U.S. Soccer to Host SheBelieves Cup Featuring USA, England, France and Germany
  6. 1st-Graders Write Comforting Letters to Vikings K Blair Walsh After Missed FG
  7. Experts Unknowingly Share the True Riches of Youth Sports
  8. From Rio’s Slums, a Judo Champion Is Mining Olympic Gold
  9. UNICEF Kid Power To Give More than 70,000 Students Across the Country the Power to Get Active and Save Lives in 2016
  10. Former Temple RB Paul Palmer: Super Bowl ring ‘would validate everything’ for Bruce Arians

We want to mention that last week we left out one of the members of the regular content providers we would be highlighting in this section. Laureus, we see you!

VSA uses football to develop positive social interactions (Sport and Dev)
Football legends Carlos Puyol and Luis Figo named latest Laureus Academy Members (Laureus)
Chad Hennings – Cowboy great and Air Force pilot – on instilling character in young athletes (NAYS)

As we mentioned last week, today is International Mentoring Day and January is National Mentoring Month. It is incredibly important that each of us think about, and then act upon, the ideas of leading others, of being a resource when it comes to helping younger people find their way. Whether we are dealing with academics, athletics, employment, life skills, even parenting, insights from a mentor are invaluable. While mentoring often implies a formal relationship between the parties that does not have to be the case every time. Even a singular interaction can change a person’s life. So don’t underestimate your ability to impart wisdom, and a smile, and the impact those things will have.

Two of the stories we highlight this week directly touch upon the ideals associated with mentoring. First, there is the story of a program that brings accomplished college student-athletes to work with those just a few years younger. When asked about what makes for a successful water-polo goalie (their chosen position), their responses go beyond just that position and sport overall. They instead talk about lessons for life. To share those ideas with those who look up to them is incredible and shows that being a mentor can happen early in one’s life. Second, in a piece from Up2Us Sports and its Coach Across America program we learn about another young person serving as a role model and mentor. One of the interesting things about Ryan Herd is that he is a golf coach in a program that he was part of when he was a youngster, a program that supported him as he grew into a successful high school and college student-athlete. He is further proof that some of the very best mentors are those who benefited from the guidance of others.

The other stories we are happy to feature this week include: a fun and inspiring effort by friends who combined dressing up and playing football to help veterans in need; UNC student-athlete Justin Jackson’s rise to being one of the best players in college basketball; a former Nepalese child soldier who is taking her experience to strive for success for herself and to inspire the next generation of runners; a new premier-level women’s soccer tournament that will also serve to train, this time, the next generation of female soccer players; a wonderful gesture in support of a professional football player who just experienced the lowest moment of his career; a Brazilian judo champion who has overcome so much and is now looking to win gold at the 2016 Rio Summer Games; a super program by the great folks at UNICEF giving power to thousands of kids in the U.S. to change their lives and those of their peers around the world; and words from a former college football star for his special former coach who is now just a few steps from leading his current team to the Super Bowl.

Finally, we would like to share an announcement from the good folks at All Sports United. “All Sports United is excited to announce “All Stars of Giving”. Now in its 4th year, this annual competition brings together the top Sports Philanthropists.  This year’s Humanitarian Award Winner will be crowned at our Red Carpet Awards Ceremony on 6.16.16 in Los Angeles. ANYONE can nominate a sports philanthropist!  So don’t hesitate, and share with us who you think is the MOST DESERVING for their unselfish acts of giving.  Visit our website to submit (  DEADLINE is Feb. 25, 2016.”

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

Finally, if you think others would like to receive the newsletter, please feel free to forward it on or have them contact us directly at (If you do not want to receive the newsletter anymore you can use the Unsubscribe button at the end of the email)

So enjoy. And have a good week.

Where football is a formal affair
“People might have this misconception that we’re just out here drinking beer,” said Ming “Jessica” Hii, 27, of Atlanta, a counselor at a state psychiatric hospital. Last year, her 11-month-old son, Carter, wore a mini three-piece suit to the game. “TPSF embraces the cultural value of being around friends, loved ones, having a beer if you want, or two or three, playing football and, most importantly, contributing to a good cause.” Three Piece Suit Football has raised more than $7,000 for United Military Care, a Georgia nonprofit that provides assistance to the families of service members, through merchandise sales and gatherings like tailgate parties. “This is a group of people who have professional careers, but they’re also kids at heart,” United Military Care President Kim Scofi said. “You don’t often get approached by people who say they’re going to raise money for your organization by playing football in outlandish costumes. Some of our veterans and active-duty soldiers have gone out to cheer them on.”

The tackle football game has resulted in some broken bones over the years.

A Road Less Traveled: UNC’s Justin Jackson Blossoming as a Throwback Player
Today, the work of a family who went against the grain has produced one of the most unique, refreshing players in college basketball. Jackson is a throwback—”He does so many things that you don’t see modern players do,” an NBA scout said—and every movement on the court is calculated by playing the “right” way. No wasted dribbles. No forced shots. No flash. “I know some people will talk about ‘Justin doesn’t dunk enough,'” Sharon says, “and a lot of it is just give us two points.” It’s almost like North Carolina coach Roy Williams is in charge of the joystick. “The way he moves without the ball is very rare, and not just that, it’s the way he passes is very rare,” an NBA scout said. “Most guys can drive and kick or drive and drop off when the help defender comes off the big, but he just sees the floor and he’s so accurate, almost like a quarterback sitting back in the pocket.” That awareness is why Jackson is so intriguing as a prospect— has him going 26th in the 2016 first round—and why he could be the X-factor for the title chances of the fifth-ranked Tar Heels, who started the year ranked No. 1.

Nepal’s ex-child soldier blazes ultra-running trail
Rai made her racing debut in March 2014, running a steep 50-kilometre course along the hills overlooking the Kathmandu valley. Dressed in a cheap t-shirt and shoes that cost $4, she ran for hours before she felt dizzy and stopped. “I borrowed money to buy juice and noodles and started running again,” she said. Soon, Rai crossed the finish line, winning her first race and prizes that included a new pair of running shoes. Since then, she has notched up an impressive set of victories, bagging gold in 13 of the 20 national and international races she has taken part in, including Italy’s 83-kilometre Trail Degli Eroi. Her victory at Chamonix vaulted her to second place among female ultra-runners in the Skyrunners World Series which involves races in five continents… Rai, now sponsored by the multinational sports equipment company Salomon, is a rare success story, with a recent race yielding $1,500 in prize money, double Nepal’s annual per capita income. Yet she shrugs off her accomplishments, insisting she has been lucky. “I have been fortunate to get opportunities… I want to inspire other women, tell them that nothing is impossible if we work hard,” she said. “There must be so many other Mira Rais in Nepal.”

Coach Across America: Golf Coach Goes Back to his Home Course to Teach Young Golfers
Currently in his first year serving as a Coach Across America coach, Ryan is consistently looking for ways in which he can enhance his coaching skills to better serve the program’s youth. This past September, Ryan attended Up2Us Sports’ National Coach Training Institute in Los Angeles, where he learned new strategies to incorporate into his coaching. “This experience opened my eyes to things I didn’t see before, and allows me to work with the kids on a different level” Ryan said. He currently leads several golf clinics per week, including after school classes and Saturday classes, with kids ranging in age from 5 and fifteen. When asked how training has impacted him on a personal level, Ryan described how the kids themselves impact his coaching style. He stressed the importance of adapting coaching styles to each kid and that “as coaches, once we become complacent, the kids stop learning.” Ryan has proven to be resourceful, patient, and dedicated to providing kids in the SCGA golf program the best learning experience imaginable. He is fully committed to being a positive mentor for the kids in the SCGA program, not just because he loves the work, but because truly to his core, he loves this organization that has given him so much already in his young life.

U.S. Soccer to Host SheBelieves Cup Featuring USA, England, France and Germany
U.S. Soccer will host an elite, four-team international tournament featuring four of the top five ranked women’s national teams in the world as England, France and Germany join the USA for the SheBelieves Cup to be held from March 3-9 at three venues in the southeastern United States. The SheBelieves Cup underlines U.S. Soccer’s continued commitment to investing in the growth of women’s soccer, and will be the globe’s premier women’s soccer tournament staged in advance of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Conceived and developed by the USWNT players, #SheBelieves is a movement to inspire young girls and encourage them to accomplish all their goals and dreams, athletic or otherwise. The campaign launched in the run-up to the 2015 Women’s World Cup and has grown since then as the team and its fans have taken its powerful message into their communities. The SheBelieves Cup is a showcase event for the campaign, which will continue to spread its positive message to young women and girls.

1st-Graders Write Comforting Letters to Vikings K Blair Walsh After Missed FG
The Minnesota Vikings saw their season come to a sudden end Sunday when kicker Blair Walsh missed a 27-yard field goal against the Seattle Seahawks in the final minute of their NFC Wild Card Game. To his credit, the 26-year-old kicker faced the media and took full responsibility for the kick. Even though he was willing to shoulder the blame, a quick Twitter search of his name shows that there are some people out there who have no interest in trying to console the kicker through the toughest moment of his career. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t those who want to help Walsh get through this, however. The people of Minnesota’s Northpoint Elementary School took the time to write some kind words to Walsh in hopes of making him feel better. (Update from Thursday, Jan. 14) Walsh showed up to Northpoint Elementary on Thursday to thank the kids for their support, via Rob Olson of Fox 9 News. Teachers at the school used the missed field goal as an opportunity to teach their kids a lesson on empathy. First-graders then wrote letters to Walsh, and the results were incredible. Once Walsh sees these videos or receives the letters, the healing process should move a little quicker. It’s tough not to smile when hearing what these elementary kids have to say about the kicker.

Vikings kicker Blair Walsh thanks the Blaine first graders who sent him letters.

Experts Unknowingly Share the True Riches of Youth Sports
Countless youth sports advocates extol the ways in which lessons learned playing sports transcend the playing field.  More so, proponents of youth sport tout how participation in athletics provides a unique and invaluable venue for adolescents to experience such virtues.  Though skeptics abound as to how countless hours playing a sport translates to something greater than the ephemeral moments of physical exercise and the enjoyment of playing the game (as if that weren’t enough!). For the past eight years, I have invited some of the top water polo goalies in the country to coach at our annual Holiday Goalkeeper Combine.  At every session, I ask them to share with the younger goalies in attendance what they consider the most valuable and helpful bit of advice.  I don’t prep them or impart any expectations as I truly want it to be organic and authentic.  Their reflections always surprise me—though they shouldn’t, given my own stance on the value of sports for young people. The position of goalkeeper involves myriad nuances and technicalities, and so going into this endeavor, I initially expected our expert goalies to reflect on some important core fundamental or favorite technique-oriented drill.  Something technical.  Something goalie-specific.  And yet, instead, as I recently surveyed all 8 years-worth of reflections, 23 of the 26 goalies instead reflected on topics much more universal and enduring than water polo goalkeeping.  As I listened to these college-aged goalies talk, I could see them directly applying all of what they were saying to—not to be too grandiose—life.  To their lives, and to being a good citizen and, hopefully, happy and successful in whatever endeavor they chose moving forward.

The author (center) with the 4 Expert Goalie Coaches at the 2015 Holiday Goalie Combine (from left to right): Connor Dillon (George Washington University), John Wilson (Johns Hopkins), Katelynn Thompson (San Jose State), Jimmie Sandman (Stanford)

From Rio’s Slums, a Judo Champion Is Mining Olympic Gold
“Judo requires from the athlete a lot of sacrifice,” Bernardes said. “But in a poor community, they are used to sacrifice. They see a lot of violence; they may not have food. I could see when she was very young that she was aggressive. And because of where she is from, she wanted something better.” Bernardes told the girls that he would not give them belt exams if they got into trouble at school or on the streets — enough of an incentive to keep them out of most trouble. He helped pay for the girls’ training, including travel to tournaments that the family could not afford. “I did it at first because I liked it,” Raquel Silva said. “But Geraldo showed us another world. It was a job. It was a profession. That planted a seed.” Rafaela did not take it as seriously. She still does not like to train. But she earned her black belt at 16 and became a junior world champion. “Everything changed in 2008 at the world junior championship in Thailand,” she said. “That’s when I realized that this is what I want to do. All my life before then, all my fights were easy. They would last 10 seconds. And I could spend the rest of my time playing. But after the world championships, I realized things could be different.”

Rafaela Silva tossing a fellow judoka. No sport has produced more Brazilian Olympic medalists than judo, and Silva, 23, is expected to join them. Credit Leslye Davis/The New York Times

UNICEF Kid Power to Give More than 70,000 Students Across the Country the Power to Get Active and Save Lives in 2016
UNICEF Kid Power is a program of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, and is made possible through the generous support of Presenting Sponsors Star Wars: Force for Change and Target, as well as local supporters, parents and fans. Thanks to this funding, participating students from high-need schools will have the opportunity to take part in the UNICEF Kid Power school program, a teacher-led classroom experience that leverages easy-to-use technology and standards-based curriculum to promote fitness and global citizenship. The technology includes UNICEF Kid Power Bands for students and classroom tablets for syncing and tracking progress. The curriculum includes lessons, engagement opportunities and quizzes on malnutrition and global citizenship to keep kids inspired and engaged. Students will be cheered on by their parents, communities, city officials and local sports teams to inspire them to stay active during Kid Power Month and beyond. By playing, running, jumping and more with the UNICEF Kid Power Band – the world’s first Wearable-for-Good™ – kids earn Kid Power Points. Points unlock funding from Kid Power sponsors and supporters, and funding is used by UNICEF to deliver lifesaving packets of therapeutic food to severely malnourished children around the world. The more kids move, the more points they earn and the more lives they save.

Former Temple RB Paul Palmer: Super Bowl ring ‘would validate everything’ for Bruce Arians
“Coach has been a confidant,” he said. “There’s been some things that I’ve discussed with Coach that I didn’t discuss with anybody else. And it has never come forth. He’s never said anything. He and I have barely talked about it again. He’s been very good to me. Again I thank him. … Most times when I get off the phone with him I tell him I love him. I always tell him I appreciate him because I don’t know where I would have been if I hadn’t gone to Temple and gotten a scholarship. Who knows where I would have ended up?” Palmer currently serves as the running backs coach for Haddon Heights High School in New Jersey and as a radio analyst for Temple football. And as busy as both of their lives are, they stay connected, even if just through text. “We always laugh about Coach,” Palmer said. “As busy as he is, he always finds time to at least [text back] thank you. Or sometimes he’ll send me something back that’s a little profanity laced, but you kind of come to expect that. It’s kind of funny, and we get a kick out of it. It’s so typical him.” Arians’ loyalty has never been in question. The Temple alumni often joke and call the Cardinals “Temple West” or “Arizona Owls.”

Bruce Arians believed in Paul Palmer and Palmer believes in his former coach. Getty Images

Quick Links…

Our Website

More About Us
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 forward 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.

Contact Information

Sarbjit “Sab” Singh