Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #255

March 19 – March 25, 2017

Welcome to week two hundred and fifty-five of the Sports Doing Good newsletter. This week’s 10 stories include:

  1. Olympic Snowboarder Kevin Pearce On His Journey From Tragedy To Mindfulness
  2. Unique Job for Teens Leads to Full-Ride College Scholarships
  3. Style and substance: Team USA finds itself in winning World Baseball Classic
  4. A Former Prodigy Recaptures the Joy That Made Her a Star
  5. ESPN Finds Its Next Documentary Series to Follow ‘O.J.’ Oscar Win
  6. As March Madness Begins—One Basketball Team Is Playing for Syrian Kids
  7. Celebrate America honoree Stevens stands tall despite physical limitation
  8. 49ers’ Denise DeBartolo York Education Center and STEAM Education at SXSW
  9. This is the Rough N Rowdy, where a forgotten town dukes it out once a year
  10. March 14, 1981: When the NCAA tournament became Madness

How We Do It in the Pacific Northwest (by Chantel Osahor and Kelsey Plum) (The Players’ Tribune)
Leagues Leading Ladies Leveraging PNG’s Passion (Beyond Sport)
PeaceBallProject provides access to sport for refugee children (Sport and Dev)
Coaches Across Continents partners with Fútbol Más in Peru, Paraguay and Chile for training programme (Sport and Dev)
Shredding for a Cause (Laureus)

11. Crowdfunding effort of the week – #ReboundsForIbadan,


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Olympic Snowboarder Kevin Pearce On His Journey From Tragedy To Mindfulness
In 2009, Kevin Pearce was considered to be one of the best snowboarders in the world. Then, while training to compete against rival Shaun White in the 2010 Olympics, Pearce collided with the half-pipe wall, shattering his left eye socket and causing bleeding to his brain. He suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury that almost killed him, and after a six-day coma and years of recovery, his competitive snowboarding career was over. The day of the accident, Pearce was riding with symptoms of a recent concussion; he wasn’t aware that training after a concussion amplifies the risk for the often-fatal Second Impact Syndrome. (He was wearing a helmet in each incident.) Now, Pearce and his brother, Adam, have founded the LoveYourBrain Foundation, a nonprofit which aims to educate people about brain injury and the healing powers of yoga and meditation. “We’re hoping we can help athletes and young people see the long-term effects that TBI can have and help people understand how fragile our brains are,” Adam says. “The more we can show people what we have been through with this really difficult experience, we can help people make smart decisions to reduce their risks.”
(Video, Caption: This film we created with LoveYourBrain tells the story of two brothers who share the vision of a community where people affected by TBI can tap into their potential by accepting themselves exactly as they are.

Unique Job for Teens Leads to Full-Ride College Scholarships
In 1929, Chick asked the WGA to administer the fund he established to send deserving caddies to college. One year later, his dream came true when the WGA awarded its first two Chick Evans Scholarships to caddies Harold Fink and Jim McGinnis. They attended Northwestern University, the same school where Chick had studied. Chick’s inspiration for this Scholarship stemmed from his personal experiences learning about the game of golf by caddying in order to earn a living. When he won the 1916 U.S. Open Championship, his mother gave him the idea of putting those earnings toward college scholarships for needy young people who grew up as caddies. Following this advice, Chick started a program that has grown larger than he could have ever imagined. What started out as two high school caddies going to college in 1930 has expanded to 910 caddies attending 19 universities across the country through the Evans Scholarship. Today, the program has awarded full tuition and housing scholarships to more than 10,000 deserving caddies nationwide. By 2020, the WGA aims to have 1,000 Evans Scholars enrolled in college each year.

Style and substance: Team USA finds itself in winning World Baseball Classic
They stormed the mound Wednesday night, streaming in from the dugout and bullpen, hugging one another tightly, blinking back tears. They hoisted the decorative bald eagle mascot on their shoulders, ran around the outfield carrying the American flag, sprayed champagne in the clubhouse, and came back onto the field to celebrate the glorious moment with their fans and family. You try telling Team USA they don’t show enough emotion as they lowered their heads, with gold medals hanging down from their necks, standing proudly on stage on the Dodger Stadium infield while the crowd chanted, USA-USA-USA. Team USA, playing its own style of baseball, and expressing itself in its own fashion, won the country’s first World Baseball Classic championship, routing Puerto Rico, 8-0, in front of 51,568 zealous fans at Dodger Stadium. “There’s no wrong way to eat a Reese’s,’’ USA pitcher Danny Duffy said. “Everybody has a different way to celebrate, a different way to show their passion. “That’s what made this tournament so fun, watching everyone having their different style.

Team USA formed an undeniable bond in the two-plus weeks it took to win the World Baseball Classic. (Photo: PAUL BUCK, EPA)

A Former Prodigy Recaptures the Joy That Made Her a Star
“A lot of this has been about me realizing who has my best interests and who doesn’t,” Townsend said. “And eliminating people on court, off court, in my tennis life, in my personal life. It’s cleaning up and taking the negative things out of my life. I never realized how much things translated from off court to on court.” Townsend no longer makes long-range plans or formulates big-picture goals. All she can expect of herself, she said, is to do her best in practice and put herself in position to transferring what she has gleaned there into competition. “I set little goals every day of things to work on, like attitude and mental things like staying positive,” she said. “You can practice all the time in the world that you want to. But to transfer that on-court and be able to actually execute it point after point, match after match, isn’t as easy. There are times when it’s really good and times when old stuff creeps back in. But that’s part of the game and you’re got to fight it. “Right now, I’m in a great space,” she added, grinning. “I’m happy. I have great people around me. I don’t really have anything to prove, except to myself. Nobody in my circle is putting pressure on me or making me feel like I have to perform or have these expectations that maybe aren’t mine. That’s a good feeling.”

Taylor Townsend, once the No. 1 junior player in the world, during her first-round victory in the Miami Open on Tuesday. Credit Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

ESPN Finds Its Next Documentary Series to Follow ‘O.J.’ Oscar Win
“We the Fans” is more like reality TV than ESPN’s usual documentary features. At the outset of the project, Millman and other producers spent a day meeting with different groups of ticket holders recommended by the Bears. They cast the section 250 fans based on their diverse and interesting backstories. The show’s stars include Sylvia Giacomuzzi, a single mom and lawyer who fought for her Bears tickets in a divorce settlement; the Tounsels, a working-class African-American family with multigenerational bonds; Brian Reusch, a radio DJ from rural Illinois who takes care of his elderly mother; and Mike Schaeffer and his fiancée, Chivon, whose wedding is set for October just as the Cubs make their World Series run. Terry Miller, a beer vendor who has worked the stands at Soldier Field for 16 years, narrates…Will the prospect of shivering fans watching their hapless Bears appeal to a wide audience? Millman believes “We the Fans” transcends any single team, or even sports itself, and explores what it means to build faith and a family in the fans around you. “You can relate to all these people,” he says “This is a type of storytelling we haven’t done before.”

ESPN’s massive “O.J.: Made in America” documentary inspired the crew in Bristol to think bigger — even before the eight-hour epic won an Oscar.

As March Madness Begins—One Basketball Team Is Playing for Syrian Kids
Says Brazilian-born Marcelo Corrêa, who played in Syria for six years and only left reluctantly after the first bomb exploded in Aleppo, “The Syrian people accepted me and my family completely.  If it wasn’t for the war, me and my wife would still be there without a doubt. The love for basketball was amazing. The singing and the cheering at the games I will never forget — an energy that will stay close to my heart forever.” “It was one of the most peaceful places I ever lived … the genuine love shown to me on a daily basis was like nothing I had ever experienced,” says Gamble. For Sharif Sharif and Sari Papazian, former members of the Syrian national team, there is added motivation: the determination to help reconstruct a future for the country in which they were both born and raised. “Syrian children are waiting,” says Sharif. “Life under the bombs. No electricity, no school, they don’t have the most basic things in life. Adds Papazian, “Living in Syria was beautiful. It’s impossible to put in words unless you have experienced it. I think that’s why a lot of foreigners that went to Syria like Damond are so willing to help.” Ryan Holmes, who played in Syria in 2008, agrees fully, “Being given the opportunity to help them is a blessing and something I wouldn’t pass up.”

Damond Williams celebrates after winning a championship with Aleppo’s Al Jalaa team

Celebrate America honoree Stevens stands tall despite physical limitation
Even though he recently became a championship sled hockey player, Stevens had no prior experience in the sport. But that wasn’t about to stop this fearless warrior from giving it his all. “It’s better to try and fail than to sit around and wish and daydream,” he said. “I’ve failed a lot in life, but my successes have far outweighed my failures.” Beyond the playing field, the successes include seven Emmy Awards earned as a content editor during a 20-year run at ESPN, where he pushed the network to show highlights of the legendary bull Bushwacker. Stevens says his greatest success is raising three terrific sons who, like their dad, are baseball junkies and grateful for daily lessons they get on what it takes to be a real man. “I live in your world, you don’t live in mine,” Stevens said. “I’m certainly not complaining but I just want people to not take things for granted. I appreciate this acknowledgement from PBR. God is great, and I’m so thankful for the blessings in my life.”

Dave Stevens has played multiple sports despite his handicap.

49ers’ Denise DeBartolo York Education Center and STEAM Education at SXSW
On Sundays, and the occasional Monday, and the occasional Thursday, the San Francisco 49ers take the field at Levi’s Stadium to play football. On weekdays, children from all over the Bay Area visit Levi’s to learn the ins and outs of football on the field and off through the 49ers’ STEAM Education Program. And they do so in classrooms just on the other side of the field. It’s pretty cool. STEAM focuses on science, technology, engineering, art, and math. The kids do everything from creating the facemask of a helmet out of straws to putting together the perfect healthy diet for athletes depending on his or her sport to doing football drills on the field. By the end of this school year, STEAM will have graduated over 150,000 students free of charge, with over 50% of those kids coming from Title I designated schools. Even bus transportation is included. The program began in 2014. This past March, Lovejoy was in Austin, Texas for SXSWedu. Not only did he speak, but the 49ers were also nominated for the first-ever SXSWedu Learn by Design Award. They were nominated in the experiential category. They lost to Baltimore County but it was still amazing for this program to be nominated.

This is the Rough N Rowdy, where a forgotten town dukes it out once a year
By the second night of fighting, the mood had changed. The room was still packed, but it was no longer overflowing. The county fair atmosphere had morphed into something more akin to a serious boxing tournament. Many fighters who win their first-round matchups at the brawl drop out before the second night. Most claim it’s due to injury or sickness, what Smith has termed the “chicken flu.” After a successful opening night, many local fighters, especially those whose first fight was against a high school buddy who happened to be less prepared then they were, correctly conclude that they’ve got little chance of winning the tournament — and all they think about is the physical and emotional pain they’d probably have to endure. Jordan Price was having those thoughts. He woke up bruised and sore the morning after his first-round victory. A cough, which he said he’d been nursing for a few weeks, had evolved overnight into a full cold. But even the suggestion that he could back out of the tournament earned him hours of mocking from his father, brother, sisters and an uncle or two who stopped by the family’s hilltop home. His father, Bill Price Sr., who fixes up and trades cars for a living, was one of 20 children in an extended family born and raised on this hill. Now he, his siblings, and their offspring live in the homes and trailers where they had been raised a generation before.

Jordan Price, 18, throws a punch at an opponent during the Rough N Rowdy Brawl in Welch, W.Va., on March 3. He and his brother Bill entered the annual local tournament, one of the highlights of the year in the small coal town. (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)

March 14, 1981: When the NCAA tournament became Madness
In his 2009 book, When March Went Mad, SI writer, CBS analyst and respected college basketball pundit Seth Davis posits that the 1979 Bird-Magic showdown in Salt Lake City marked the beginning of the ascendancy of the NCAA basketball tournament as a cultural and sports phenomenon. It’s a powerful argument: The game is still the highest-rated college game ever. However, in James Patrick Miller’s and Tom Shales’s oral history of ESPN, Those Guys Have All the Fun, ESPN’s longtime anchor/reporter Bob Ley counters with, “Yes, you had Magic and Bird [in 1979], but you can argue that was more an NBA-maker than a college-maker.” It was certainly a giant building block for the latter. Wherever it was that the NCAA tournament lived in the sports pantheon before March 14, 1981, it lived somewhere bigger and better afterward, someplace more significant, and certainly more profitable. Broadcast professionals took chances that day that helped make their careers. Basketball players succeeded and failed in such outsized ways that it defined their legacies. Because of what transpired that day, and where it fell on the continuum of the game, there has never been another day quite like it.

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