Sports Doing Good Newsletter, 256

March 26 – April 1, 2017

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

  1. The Most Powerful Posse In Compton
  2. Janitor Hasn’t Seen His Family In 30 Years, So Hockey Team Secretly Raises $5,000 For Him
  3. The Average NFL Career Lasts Just 3 Years. This Player Is Focused On What Happens Next
  4. How Neuroscience Might Help The San Francisco Giants Win The World Series
  5. Kobe Bryant pulls back curtain on post-NBA storytelling venture
  6. I tried out for the New York Cosmos. Would I make the grade?
  7. Hometown Kid PJ Dozier Is Guiding South Carolina’s Cinderella Run
  8. When It’s Baseball Forever
  9. Smash Sisters events invite women gamers to play, connect and smash
  10. Why baseball’s ‘Homeless Minor Leaguer’ isn’t sweating the sport’s small salary

The Reason I Play (by Morgan William) (The Players’ Tribune)
An Up2Us Coach Sets His Sights On Coaching Division I (Up2Us Sports)
London Sport Launch Campaign to Inspire an Active Capital (Beyond Sport)

11. Crowdfunding effort of the week –   Albert Pujols Homers For Hope,, Pledge It


The International Day of Sport for Development and Peace celebrations had a huge success during the previous editions, with over 850 projects in 170 countries listed on the platform by Peace and Sport. The efforts made by all actors of the movement were hailed by the IOC and the UN these last two years, but now we have to ensure that this recognition has a lasting impact.

NextStep Fitness – We have a few benefits on the horizon and I was wondering if you would be wiling to include them in your newsletter? We have a charity stair climb at the Rose Bowl, our DC walk and brunch, and our NYC Charity Poker Tourney at the Pennsy. (Put the logo as well.)

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.

The Most Powerful Posse In Compton
This makes the draw of the horses, the fresh air, and the physical activity that the center offers that much more important. Since 1988, each year the nonprofit Jr. Posse has served more than 1,500 kids ages 8 to 18 with award-winning, year-round programming, including recreational and competition equestrian training and ranching skills, and partner programs, such as the explorer program with the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority in Santa Monica. Tuition is paid using a low-income sliding scale, and some kids proudly shared with me that they were attending on a scholarship by “writing about their favorite horse” and helping out around the ranch. But it’s the connection with the horses—and with the people who make it all possible—that keeps kids coming back. “People who have been here years before will come back,” said Nathan Williams-Bonner, who started training at the facility when he was 13 years old and now trains the younger generation. “We always have familiar faces. It’s like a family. You can pick up where you left off.”

An innovative program is turning LA’s most overlooked neighborhood into an equestrian haven

Janitor Hasn’t Seen His Family In 30 Years, So Hockey Team Secretly Raises $5,000 For Him
Minasie Theophilis has been working as a janitor at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for the last 25 years. He is beloved by all who know him — especially the students and athletes he cleans up after. Minasie originally hails from Ethiopia and came to Augsburg as a student himself, but because of that, he has not had the means or the chance to return to visit his family. He hasn’t seen them in over 30 years. In fact, sadly, Minasie missed the death of his mom, and was not able to return to his homeland to go to her funeral. This tragic fact got to the ears of of the Augsburg Men’s Hockey team, a group of students who all know Minasie very well. They decided to do something about it. This past Tuesday, March 14, they created a GoFundMe page with the goal of raising money to send Minasie home. Their original goal was $3000. They surpassed that the very next day. The team gathered together and surprised the janitor with a check for $5000 — and the money has continued to come in.

The Average NFL Career Lasts Just 3 Years. This Player Is Focused On What Happens Next
With the help of his financial manager, he then purchased a Dunkin’ Donuts location in Georgia. Before long, he owned 25 franchises throughout the South, and he still has plans to expand to Houston. He committed himself to the business in every offseason, understanding the nuances of the business as he would an NFL playbook. At first, it was a grueling process, learning about projections and parsing through spreadsheets. But soon, it became second nature. He still feels a thrill every time one of his stores beats the sales projections. “It opened up another world I didn’t know existed,” Jean Francois adds. “I have to be hands-on so I can see everything grow. I gotta learn how to do it myself.” When challenges ? such as consistency in the product and service ? presented themselves, Jean Francois leaned on his football background and his experience working with a team. But he’s never had a problem with a single employee. “Football helped me mentally, because I had to get my mind right,” he says.

Andy Lyons via Getty Images. Jean Francois was a fan favorite during his Indianapolis Colts days.

How Neuroscience Might Help The San Francisco Giants Win The World Series
The next time a San Francisco Giant hits a game-winning home run or turns a great double play to end a rival’s rally, you may be able to thank neuroscience. Today, Halo Neuroscience, a San Francisco startup that’s developed a device aimed at boosting the performance of athletes, announced it has officially been helping the Giants get the most out of its players. The device, the Halo Sport, stimulates the brain’s motor cortex, energizing motor neurons, which then send athletes’ muscles stronger signals, allowing them to get more powerful and efficient with every training rep. The Halo Sport, which looks almost exactly like a pair of headphones, isn’t new. But Halo hasn’t previously revealed much about its partnerships with any professional sports franchises, especially not ones that have progressed beyond the experimental stage. The Giants, with their proximity to Silicon Valley, are exposed to lots of “intriguing technology that could be used to improve athletic performance, says Geoff Head, the team’s sports scientist. But before jumping at any of that tech, the three-time World Series champions “like to do our homework.”

[Photo: Flickr user SD Dirk]

Kobe Bryant pulls back curtain on post-NBA storytelling venture
“I landed on the fact that a lot of times these dark musings, these things that happen in people’s lives, you either bury them deep within you, try to ignore them, or you let them overwhelm you and deter you from living the life that you dream of, that you hope to have,” Bryant said. “I saw that as being the most important thing. Instead of having those two options, there’s a third — that’s using those as fuel, using those as things to motivate you. And if you look around, with all the people that have created great things, those great things all came from dark places, generally, whether it be Michael Jordan, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Oprah — all these experiences come from dark places that they then used those dark experiences to create light.” Given the varying elements, atypical length and avant-garde flair, Bryant acknowledges that the reception could likewise vary, but he has a specific overarching goal in terms of reaction. He wants parents to see it, then call on their children to watch it, too, and for everyone to bond over universal lessons. “If we can inspire every child, every child athlete in the world, and then inspire grownup athletes to find every kid within themselves all over again, then we’re good,” Bryant says.

Kobe Bryant on building Canvas City: “The world-building part came pretty quickly, once the idea set in.” Kevin Winter/Getty Images

I tried out for the New York Cosmos. Would I make the grade?
Pele. Franz Beckenbauer. Carlos Alberto. In the 1970s, some of the greatest football players in the world turned out for the New York Cosmos. The team invested a fortune in attracting foreign talent, and won the North American Soccer League in 1977, 1978 and 1980. So in hindsight, perhaps it was naive of me – a 31-year-old journalist with no professional football experience – to think I could become a New York Cosmos player. I’d got the idea after the Cosmos announced they were holding open tryouts. It was a chance for players to train in front of the Cosmos coaches and potentially join the club’s B team. Perform well there, and you could end up playing for the first team – just like Pele. That was the thinking, anyway. In truth, as I arrived for the tryout on a bitterly cold March Wednesday, I had a strong suspicion I would not be signed by the New York Cosmos. For one thing, I am not actually very good at football.

Pele, pictured here with No9 Giorgio Chinaglia and No7 Tony Field, was once a star for the Cosmos. Would Adam Gabbatt join their storied ranks? Photograph: Robert Riger/Getty Images

Hometown Kid PJ Dozier Is Guiding South Carolina’s Cinderella Run
Martin reminded his team of a metaphor he’d used all season, of tug of war. “If one person on one side lets go of the rope, it’s bad,” he told reporters. “I don’t care how hard it is. You can’t let go of the rope or your team’s going to lose. So we started saying, ‘We’re in a difficult moment right now. Hold on to that rope. Don’t let that rope go. I don’t care how hard it gets—don’t let that rope go.'” He also asked them a simple question: “Why not us?” After breezing by Marquette in the first round of this year’s NCAA tournament, South Carolina has strung together the most impressive run of any team in the field. Dozier has more than done his part, averaging 15.3 points in the tourney and being named to the All-East Regional team. Although he’d dropped off most mock drafts, his recent performances have inspired scouts to take a fresh peek at a player who has always looked the part of a future NBA All-Star but hadn’t put it all together prior to this tournament. For Dozier, the most enthralling thing about this run hasn’t been that NBA scouts are watching. It has been seeing how fervently Gamecocks fans have followed their team. “I was coming to South Carolina games when almost no one was watching,” he says. “Everyone is watching us now.”

The Dozier family poses outside Madison Square Garden on March 26, 2017. (B/R Mag)

When It’s Baseball Forever
We know already that the 2017 baseball season will be different, because we know what we’re missing. Gone are the soothing soundtrack of Vin Scully and the stylish slugging of David Ortiz. The persistent misery of the Chicago Cubs has gone poof. And we won’t have Ol’ A-Rod to kick around anymore, either. But fear not. Here are six baseball men who’ve done it all, and still want to stay on the stage. They come from Ecuador and Canada, Japan and the Dominican Republic, California and North Carolina. They are the active leaders in hits, homers, strikeouts, games as an umpire, years in the broadcast booth and years as a major league coach. They have seen the sport evolve, with home runs and strikeouts continuing to rise. Last season, a record 111 players hit at least 20 homers, while pitchers struck out 21.1 percent of opposing batters, the highest rate in history. That’s a whole lot of balls soaring over fences or being missed completely. All or nothing, boom or bust. The folks depicted here – the Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Jaime Jarrin, the umpire Joe West, the Arizona Diamondbacks coach Dave McKay, the Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols, the Yankees left-hander C.C. Sabathia and the Miami Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki — share an abiding love of the game, even as it changes. Serving it at the highest level continues to invigorate them.

Credit Courtney Pedroza, Zack Wittman, Caitlin O’Hara and Loren Elliott for The New York Times

Smash Sisters events invite women gamers to play, connect and smash
For all the success it has had, Smash Sisters still walks a line similar to that of many women: In order to make themselves known, they must run an event that is better than the main attraction. Mission accomplished, Zalewski says, in the past and now. Smash Sisters has been overseas, at local tournaments and on the major stages such as Genesis, and for every disgusting comment online, there are dozens of women and men who support the ingenuity Chen and Sun bring to the game. “Pretty much everything that I had heard, especially from participants, was extremely positive,” Zalewski says. “I think even Lilian was surprised at how positive it was, based on the past experiences that she has had.” Part of what makes Smash Sisters successful is what makes Smash different from League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive or other esports titles, which have all-women teams but nothing like the Smash Sisters. Smash is a shoulder-rubbing game. There are online matches on Wii U, but the best Smash happens when players come together.

Lilian Chen (center) and Emily Sun founded Smash Sisters a year ago to encourage more women to participate in gaming.

Why baseball’s ‘Homeless Minor Leaguer’ isn’t sweating the sport’s small salary
For his YouTube channel, Homeless Minor Leaguer, Paré writes and stars in a variety of sketch-comedy videos. Many of them feature writing partner and offseason roommate Ty Kelly of the New York Mets organization, and plenty find inspiration from the particulars of minor-league life. One, titled MINOR LEAGUERS NEED YOUR HELP, parodies Sarah McLachlan’s heart-wrenching ASPCA commercials with Kelly in the role of the sad, underfed puppy. “I think it’s really crucial to realize that you don’t have to play,” Paré says. “I think the system makes sense. You’re incentivizing these players to get better, and you’re going to get a better product out on the field in the Major Leagues, which is the ultimate goal. “I love where I’m at, and the situation that I’m in. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.” Some of Paré’s videos tackle the challenges that come with the low pay, long hours and perpetual uncertainty associated with minor league life. In October, while spending his offseason in San Diego, he examined ways players could make money over the winter when they’re not paid by their teams. Among his other pursuits, Paré earned income this offseason by participating in a clinical trial for a shampoo and serving in a video-game focus group.

(Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images)

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