Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #204

Feb. 28 – March 5, 2016

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


1.      Interpreters help Shiloh’s Fraley bridge communication barrier on basketball court

2.      The life, point-shaving death and revival of City College of NY hoops

3.      Ban praises ‘mega’ sport events for potential to advance peace and human rights

4.      Simone Biles And Gabby Douglas Are Latest And Greatest Heroes In A Storied History Of African-American Gymnasts

5.      Russell Wilson The Entrepreneur Is Launching ‘Good Man Brand’ To Help Inner-City Kids

6.      Viral Sensation Boban Marjanovic Aspires to Be Like Mentor Tim Duncan

7.      How Soccer Without Borders is Building a Bridge to the Next Generation

8.      For Several Generations, the Sports Road Trip as a Staple of Fandom

9.      How an NBA exec helped fulfill a 6ft 7in woman from China’s American dream

10.   Tigers’ Norris, local boy bond over cancer fight



Women Win partners with U.S. Department of State to Empower Girls Through Sport

Sport’s winning route to improving the lives of girls

Inspiring kids to embrace all facets of the game

Coach Across America: Coach Sally is Changing the Lives of Children Everywhere Through Basketball

Cricket: Pakistan’s tribal zone side fight for level playing field  


This week we had the opportunity to meet the folks behind an organization that has been featured multiple times in the Sports Doing Good newsletter. GOALS Haiti is a sport-for-development nonprofit organization using soccer to help children and teens in Haiti. Jolinda Hackett, Executive Director of GOALS, was in NYC to meet with various supporters of the organization, some of whom she had never met. We had a chance to formally meet Jolinda – we had never met – and to hear directly from her about the history of GOALS, its current work, the direct impact it was having on the lives of children and communities in Haiti, and some of the organization’s goals for the future. The event was a wonderful opportunity to see an organization in action, not program-wise, but in another area almost as important, networking, promotion and fundraising. Sport for good/development is a noble pursuit but not without its challenges. To meet the folks dealing with those challenges and having a positive impact on the lives of those most in need is quite inspiring. Thanks go to Jolinda, her team, and her growing network of supporters who are “walking the walk” and inspiring others to do the same. To learn more about GOALS and to support its efforts, please visit

We are happy to feature the following stories this week: a young high school basketball players who is deaf exceling on the court with the help of his interpreter; the revival of a legendary basketball institution in New York; words from the UN General Secretary regarding ‘mega’ sport events’ potential to advance peace and human rights; a rundown of the impressive history of African-American gymnasts as we approach the 2016 Summer Games in Rio; NFL superstar Russell Wilson’s new company that will outfit people in some cool fashion while contributing to positive change in the inner city; Boban Marjanovic of the San Antonio Spurs and his focus on being a great player like his mentor Tim Duncan while he becomes a social media star; a look at the terrific organization Soccer Without Borders; the fun behind the tradition of the “road trip”; a look at a student athlete from China finding her way as a person and basketball player at the University of California Berkeley; and a touching story of how Daniel Norris of the Detroit Tigers had a chance to meet and connect with a young fan facing the same cancer diagnosis Norris did just the year before.

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So enjoy. And have a good week.

Interpreters help Shiloh’s Fraley bridge communication barrier on basketball court
“I don’t know. The word I think of is just ‘precious,’” Fraley said. “This game is precious to me. So, I feel like I’m more energized and I have more intensity because I know what to do. I know what plays are happening, and I’m not just guessing through my teammates what to do.” It could get even more fun for Fraley and Shiloh. A win in Thursday’s showdown against Westlake would put the Generals back into the state Final Four for the second straight season, and keep alive their dream for the program’s first state championship. College scouts have also begun taking notice of Fraley’s improvement, something he can enhance with another year of high school basketball still ahead of him. And like Rivers, Slay and Sanders are also confident the sky is the limit for Fraley. They both also feel an equal amount of joy at how far he’s come. “I’m just glad that his true talent is coming through,” Slay said. “I feel like they tried last year without an interpreter, and it didn’t work so well because he can’t hear. I think a lot of people assume, ‘Oh, he knows what we’re talking about,’ but he really doesn’t. So, I think him really fully understanding plays and what they’re asking of him, his full potential has been able to be shown this year. “I just can’t wait for next year because I just feel like he’s going to be that much more of a better player.”

Sign language interpreter Sally Slay gives signs to Shiloh’s Tajah Fraley (20) during the first half of Wednesday’s AAAAAA first round playoff game at Shiloh High School in Snellville. (Photo: Kyle Hess)

The life, point-shaving death and revival of City College of NY hoops

In CCNY, Solano found what he wanted. Green’s resume was an attraction, but the 6-foot-2 shooting guard loved the idea of playing in the city. Equally appealing was the chance to build from the ground up. In this case, from below ground up. “With the recent history, this season meant a lot,” Solano said. “We built chemistry. It took a lot of hard work to get where we’re at, but it felt really good. I’m proud where the program has gone. Honestly, the way the program was when I came in drew me in because I wanted to bring change to a program. “I had options, but ultimately it came down to CCNY. I loved the idea of going to school and playing basketball in the greatest city in the world,” Solano said. “CCNY has the deepest roots of history in college basketball in New York. We play for that pride. We represent CCNY and the students that go there. The school has great diversity, one of its greatest parts.”

CCNY basketball coach Tom Green talks with his team. Photo: Denis Gostev

Ban praises ‘mega’ sport events for potential to advance peace and human rights
Noting that it is a privilege for countries to host such mega sport events, the Secretary-General said that with planning and vision, such events can advance social development, economic growth, educational opportunity and environmental protection. “As we look ahead, mega sport events can and should contribute to realizing the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals,” the Secretary-General said. “This will not happen on its own. Ample experience has shown that the benefits of mega sport events have not always been long-lasting, sustainable or widely shared.” Mr. Ban emphasized that it is crucial that “we learn the lessons of this history,” and that mega sport events should prioritize developmental and environmental considerations. “Our aim must be to reap the benefits of such events while limiting their carbon footprint, upholding workers’ rights, ensuring transparency and fighting the corruption that so often accompanies endeavours in which enormous sums of money are involved,” he said. Pointing to tourism and transport as examples where mega sport events have developed and implemented innovative practices, the Secretary-General noted that many host cities and countries of past mega sport events have taken a sustainable and inclusive developmental path, and implemented “outstanding legacy initiatives” at the local, national, regional and global levels.

Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas Are Latest and Greatest Heroes in a Storied History of African-American Gymnasts
Barring injury or illness that keeps them from Rio, there seems little doubt Biles and Douglas will be among the centerpieces of NBC’s exhaustive 2016 Olympics coverage. The spotlight focused on them likely will attract young girls of every color to try the sport and make those already in gymnastics dream bigger and work harder. And there also is no doubt they will have a special appeal to young African-American boys and girls. “To me it’s just a very diverse sport, but I think the impact will be strong because you don’t see a team like ours very often,” Biles said. “It will be very fun if little kids looking at it think hopefully they can do anything they put their minds to.” Just think of that connection between Dominique Dawes and that little kid from Virginia Beach, Virginia, Gabby Douglas, who had started cartwheeling around the house at 4 years old to mimic her older sister. “I am so grateful to have a really mature and amazing role model in Dominique,” Douglas said. “When she said (in London) she had passed the torch to me, that was incredible. “For me to be on this platform and send positive vibes to other athletes is amazing. I’m still kind of realizing how much impact I have made.”

(L-R) Simone Biles and Gabrielle Douglas celebrate after the all-around final at the 2015 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships at The SSE Hydro on Oct. 29, 2015 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Russell Wilson the Entrepreneur Is Launching ‘Good Man Brand’ To Help Inner-City Kids
Lead. Inspire. Live. Supporting good by “sporting good.” The mottos and mantras of the Good Man Brand are seemingly endless, but even with the surfeit of slogans, they all share one quality in common: Each encourages customers to go from passive to active, to not just sport the clothes, but support the cause — to ask themselves, “What good will you do today?” On Sunday, on the eve of his brainchild’s launch, Wilson stressed time and time again that this brand is bigger than himself — it’s not simply about some celebrity or his select cause. It’s about empowering the bystanders to no longer just stand by. It’s about nudging and pushing those around us, reminding them that everyone — not just the Russell Wilsons of the world — wields the power to make a difference. It’s about giving others that chance to give. “It’s more than fashion, it’s about effecting change.” Wilson emphasized, once more. “That’s what we’re really after.”

Viral Sensation Boban Marjanovic Aspires to Be Like Mentor Tim Duncan
“I come to him and ask, ‘What do I do?’ Every time I want to have his opinion and learn from him a lot. I know he is working a lot and I want to be one day like him.” The notion of a 7’3″ version of Duncan with a 7’8″ wingspan and a standing reach of 9’7″ boggles the mind and makes eyes bulge. He understands the reaction. “No, really,” he said. “I watch him and how he works as a basketball player and I think I want to try to be the same as him. Nobody can be him, but I want to be a bad copy. Or I hope good copy. Let’s say I try to be good copy. This is really hard but I try to work, step by step.” Marjanovic already has matched Duncan in one important aspect of the Spurs Way. He is very often the last player to leave the practice court, always working on improving himself. He has even worked with assistant coach Becky Hammon—one of the best point guards in WNBA history—to improve his ball-handling. “I give thanks every day because I have a lot of good people around me.”

Chris Covatta/Getty Images

How Soccer Without Borders is Building a Bridge to the Next Generation
“I think that they’re engaged at a different level when they’re here,” Gucciardi says, “when they’re surrounded by their teammates and with their coaches that they like.” He adds: “You might understand things differently, depending on your context.” The subtext: The learning needs to continue, and be reinforced, outside the classroom. “When you’re coming here, you’re coming here to be healthy, to make good choices, to support each other. If you can create that culture, then that becomes the ethos of Soccer Without Borders—it’s not just about playing soccer, though of course we want to do that, too,” he says with a smile. “It’s about constantly picking each other up.” Soccer is a powerful motivator in itself, too. The draw of traveling to a soccer tournament with your team is important leverage to focusing more on studies and making the right decisions in other areas of life. The results speak for themselves.

Coaches and players meeting to discuss practice

For Several Generations, the Sports Road Trip as a Staple of Fandom
“It is not that college football is an old person’s game, but that it tends to be more than just the experience of going to the game,” he said. People will spend weekends, possibly combining the stay with other tourist activity. Big stadiums are all wheelchair-accessible, so mobility is not an issue, and while senior discounts aren’t the rule, there is often some kind of special treatment if the retiree is an alumnus, maybe a parking perk or a party invitation. After all, loyal fans may be good bets for an eventual bequest. Mr. Thompson thinks those who want to travel to the University of Mississippi for a game get the best experience. “They tailgate at a place called the Grove, where people are not allowed to have electric grills, so it takes it back from modern times,” Mr. Thompson said. “You go and there are three generations, from grandpa on the grill, parents making sure everyone has drinks and kids running around. It transcends time.”

Travis Brown, left, and Kit Piephoff with the team mascot at a basketball game at Davidson College in Davidson, N.C. Each week during the basketball season, residents of the Pines retirement community board buses to cheer their home team. Credit Mike Belleme for The New York Times

How an NBA exec helped fulfill a 6ft 7in woman from China’s American dream
“But my role is small in Chen’s story,” Smith quickly added. “To me the story is her desire to better herself and get an education in the United States and how she took that chance and did something with it to get herself here.” Two weeks before, in the basketball office in Berkeley, Chen Yue dabbed her eyes with enormous fingers. Her voice caught. For a moment no words came out. “Without him maybe I don’t want to come to America,” she said. “Maybe I want to stay home and finish my basketball career that’s all. Also that time is my first time coming to America.” She batted away a tear. “I want to tell him all my experiences after him,” she said. “But there’s just too much words and it’s just like nothing I can say.” What do you tell the man who gave you a life and never knew what he had done? Sometimes nothing needs to be said.

Chen Yue has found a second home abroad. Photograph: UC Berkeley

Tigers’ Norris, local boy bond over cancer fight
Last Sunday, Chevy flew Hunter and his family to Florida for a whirlwind trip that included two days at Disney World. All expenses paid. On Monday morning, Hunter watched Norris practice at the Tigers’ spring training facility. After practice, they played catch in Joker Marchant Stadium and hung out. “It was incredible,” Miranda said. Hunter was far more relaxed. “It was really good,” Norris said. “We kind of walked around and played catch a little bit and talked. He was excited about being out of the cold. He’s a pretty shy kid. When I was that age, I was the same way. It was nice.” A couple of times, Norris overheard Hunter repeat the same thing. “This is the coolest thing that has ever happened to me,” Hunter said. Which is the whole point. It kind of makes you want to do something special for somebody, no?

Hunter Bowman hits a line drive in the Tigers batting cage from an underhanded pitch thrown to him by his new friend, Tigers pitcher Daniel Norris, on Feb. 13.  (Photo: Eric Seals DFP)


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