Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #260

April 23 – April 29, 2017

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

  1. ‘The impact we could make’: African American quarterbacks in the NFL draft
  2. Meet The Muslim Woman Who Inspired Nike To Enter The Hijab Business
  3. Cybernetics, Cesarean Sections and Soccer’s Most Magnificent Mind
  4. Former Northeastern swimmer helps athletes fund their dreams
  5. Trailblazing kicker Becca Longo embracing spotlight she deserves
  6. MLB’s first African-born player set to take the field as Pirates promote Gift Ngoepe
  7. What The University of Cincinnati Athletic Department Teaches Us About How To Treat Women In The Workplace
  8. Korea clinches berth into 2018 IIHF Worlds top division for first time
  9. Ashton Eaton, Brianne Theisen-Eaton are redefining success after retiring
  10. Hunter Greene is the star baseball needs. First he has to finish high school.

Academics and Practitioners: Bridging the Gap for Peace (Peace and Sport)
The Myles I Know (by Lawrence Garrett) (The Players’ Tribune)
Earth Day 2017: NYC FC Raising Awareness (Beyond Sport)
IDSDP 2017: A look at the worldwide media coverage (Sport and Dev)
IS ouster clears way for football comeback in Iraq’s Mosul (Peace and Sport)

11. Crowdfunding effort of the week – University of California Basketball Helps Fight Cancer with Rebounds for Rama,, PledgeIt

This week Sports Illustrated put on its cover high school student-athlete Hunter Greene, an elite baseball prospect. Being touted as the “LeBron of Baseball,” sounds amazing but of course, it comes with pressures, often from unwanted sources. But when you read about Hunter and his family, you feel that this young man can handle it. Even more than that, he may grab the mantle, much like LeBron did, and elevate an entire sport. Hunter seems like a modern-day Renaissance (young) man and that will likely serve him as well as he won’t only be focused on baseball. His interests, whether intellectual, artistic, or community-service oriented, provide the type of balance we should all seek in life. We wish Hunter, and his family, the best.

The other stories we are happy to feature this week include: young NFL prospects who see their progression as a result of the foundation created by past African-American quarterbacks; an emerging Muslim athlete, Amna Al Haddad, helping to lay a foundation for other Muslim women; the brilliant soccer mind of Vitor Frade; former Northeastern University scholar-athlete Emily White and her Dreamfuel project; trailblazing student-athlete, kicker Becca Longo, who will be a scholarship football player at Adams State in the fall; Major League Baseball’s first African-born player, Gift Ngoepe of the Pittsburgh Pirates; lessons that can be learned by athletic departments when studying the advances made by the University of Cincinnati athletic department; South Korea’s qualification to participate for the first time in the IIHF’s World Championship; and recently retired Olympic stars Ashton and Brianne Eaton and their journey  in crafting the next stages of their lives.

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So enjoy. And have a good week.

‘The impact we could make’: African American quarterbacks in the NFL draft
“[We used to say to each other] how cool would it be if we were two of the top quarterbacks coming out in whatever draft class we decided to come out in … and the impact that would be able to make as African American quarterbacks in the league,” Kizer said on Wednesday on the eve of the NFL Draft. Their high school dreams are about to come true. Kizer and Watson will be picked somewhere in the first two rounds of this week’s draft. Perhaps both will be taken during Thursday night’s initial round. The idea isn’t as unusual now as it was even a decade ago, before Cam Newton won an MVP, Russell Wilson won a Super Bowl and Robert Griffin III won rookie of the year. In many ways, the fact two black quarterbacks are at the top of the draft seems unremarkable. The way it is supposed to be. Still, for all the advances the path still remains harder for African American quarterbacks. Sure, players like Newton and Griffin were picked No1 and No2 respectively in their drafts but Wilson fell to the third-round and Dak Prescott, who led the Cowboys to a division title as a rookie last year, was a fourth-round selection.

DeShone Kizer is projected to go in the first two rounds of the draft. Photograph: Getty Images

Meet The Muslim Woman Who Inspired Nike To Enter The Hijab Business
“Our design team that obsesses over athlete insights all thought, Oh my gosh, this is the thing! This is what we can solve for her,” says Megan Saalfeld, senior director of communications at Nike. “Pretty much immediately, we began to percolate about what it would mean to create a performance hijab.” “We already have a robust innovation pipeline and so many tools at our disposal,” Saalfeld continues. “We had all these lightweight, breathable materials that would work well and seams that would not irritate the skin.” The end result was the Nike Pro Hijab, which goes on sale next spring—online and at select retailers— and will cost $35. It’ll come in three colors—black, vast grey and obsidian (a navy blue)—and yes, it is emblazoned with the brand’s signature swoosh. The Nike head covering solves a need Al Haddad had struggled with until the day she found a stretchy hijab at a local market that seemed to stay in place. Every night after she was at the gym, she would wash it in the sink, then hang it out to dry so she could wear it the next day. Al Haddad never dreamed of becoming a competitive athlete. In fact, very few girls in the Arab world do. Al Haddad has a distinct memory of a fun moment in fifth grade when the girls and boys played soccer together in gym class. But shortly after that, boys and girls often went to gender segregated middle and high schools. Even in the few co-ed schools, sports classes were always separated by gender.
(Video, Caption: Published on Apr 21, 2016. Five years ago, Amna Al Haddad was a young journalist in the United Arab Emirates with an unhealthy lifestyle. This April 25, she hopes to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Cybernetics, Cesarean Sections and Soccer’s Most Magnificent Mind
The emails contain poems composed by Frade — Pepijn Lijnders, a former Porto coach now working at Liverpool, shares them with the Brazilians Philippe Coutinho and Lucas Leiva — but also “articles I have read, interviews with interesting coaches, book recommendations and summaries.” Frade is as likely to include a paper on robotics or neuroscience as one on soccer itself, the product of a brain fizzing and whirring, its synapses forever fusing links between unrelated thoughts. His answer to the question “What is tactical periodization?” for example, starts with a discourse on the structure of a cell, takes in cesarean sections, where alligators might live in the Mississippi, chameleons and quantum mechanics, and ends, no small number of hours later, with a discussion of the principles of cybernetics. “He is a living, breathing genius,” said José Tavares, the head of Porto’s youth academy and a student of periodization drafted now as Frade’s hard-pressed translator. “He does not think like the rest of us.”

Former Northeastern swimmer helps athletes fund their dreams
Emily White was a music industry major and a scholarship swimmer at Northeastern University in Boston. In 2012, she combined her two interests to start Dreamfuel, a platform that helps elite and youth athletes raise money to help get them to the next level. Dreamfuel has since been contacted by the president of the Afghanistan National Swimming Federation to help start its first women’s national team and completed a campaign to give an LGBT soccer team in Mexico the opportunity to attend the World Outgames this year. White also just released a book called “Interning 101,” a guide for college students. We talked to White, a 2005 Northeastern graduate, about the skills athletes get by using her platform, how she transitioned from athletics to a professional career and how she keeps fitness as a part of her life.

Emily White is the founder of Dreamfuel and a former swimmer for Northeastern University. Adrian Buckmaster

Trailblazing kicker Becca Longo embracing spotlight she deserves
It’s clear Longo has the necessary traits to handle the opportunity, on the field as a competitor and off it as an ambassador. To start, she has the skills – going 30-for-33 on point-after attempts through eight games last season with the Bears, according to MaxPreps, after she started to play her sophomore year. Longo sent a highlight video to Adams State in December and received a visit that same month. When she toured the campus in February, Longo fell in love with it. “Everybody was just so warm and welcoming,” said Longo, who will also play basketball. She’s also relatable, picking up the sport as a way to connect with her older brother. The two would toss the ball around in the backyard, and Longo’s interest in playing peaked once she found out her brother had a girl, Heidi Garrett, on his high school team in California – she holds the national record for a kick by a female at 48 yards. To top it off, she’s personable, with her charismatic personality hard to miss Saturday as she interacted with fans while scrawling her name on posters.

Becca Longo takes a swing during the Larry Fitzgerald celebrity softball event (Photo: Patrick Breen, AZCentral)

MLB’s first African-born player set to take the field as Pirates promote Gift Ngoepe
Ngoepe, who was born in South Africa, was raised by a mother who worked for an amateur baseball team in the Johannesburg area and who died in 2013 of pneumonia. He was spotted by a Pirates scout at an MLB academy in Italy, and the organization signed him in 2008. Ngoepe’s rise to the majors has been slow, as he has had to make cultural adjustments along with improvements to his game. Widely viewed as the organization’s most talented defensive player, he changed in 2015 from being a switch-hitter to only batting from his natural right side, and he showed a better approach at the plate in the spring. “It was a long journey,” Ngoepe said (via “I kept with it. There were a few times I wanted to stop. It’s the people that are behind you that keeps you going every single day. That kind of kept my fight. My ninth year, and I made it to the big leagues.” “It’s a fabulous organizational win for everybody,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “I would love for him to have $1 for everybody who’s looked at him and said he’ll never make it. … He’s just continued to press on and play and probably many times believed when not a whole lot of other people did.”

What The University of Cincinnati Athletic Department Teaches Us About How To Treat Women In The Workplace
With only 22 percent of NCAA Division I schools earning an A or B (University of Central Florida was on the only other A), there is much room for improvement. We asked the Bearcats how they do it. The result is more common decency than radical policies.  “Work/life balance has evolved into work/life integration,” says Maggie McKinley, executive senior associate director of athletics.  “Hiring, retention, and true career development require constant monitoring and being aware of the whole person. Understanding wants, needs, and goals of the total person provides the best opportunity for success.” If she hadn’t been able to have Isaac nearby, Alvey says, she likely would have been “pulled away mentally from being in the moment of volleyball.” Equally important, Alvey says, are the intangibles that don’t cost money. Everyone in the department knows little Isaac by name. And when Alvey sees pictures from the games, she is happy to see Isaac sitting on the laps of players’ family members. “That stuff is really important; it shows people really do care and like you as a person,” she says. And it works: Alvey was named the American Athletic Conference Coach of the Year.

Cincinnati Bearcats head volleyball coach Molly Alvey

Korea clinches berth into 2018 IIHF Worlds top division for first time
Korea will be participating in the IIHF men’s World Championship for the first time in the country’s history next year when the tournament is played in Denmark. Sanghoon Shin’s shootout goal against Ukraine clinched victory and helped Korea grab second place in the Divison I – Group A standings, which meant promotion to the top division in 2018. The last Asian team to play in the top division of the World Championship was Japan in 2004, so this is big progress for the hosts of next February’s Olympic Games. “It’s very important for us [to be promoted]. We get to play against top-division teams and get this experience,” said Korea head coach Jim Paek, who won two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins during his NHL career. “For many years we haven’t been able to play against such countries so it’s important to get this experience.”… You can tell just how much this means to Paek, who took the job in 2014 with the objective to build a program in Korea in time for the PyeongChang games. He’s had to pepper his roster with some North Americans, but the majority are natives as the country has invested resources into becoming a strong hockey nation.

Ashton Eaton, Brianne Theisen-Eaton are redefining success after retiring
“I think it’s a question of direction and not of speed,” he said. “Because if we set our mind to accomplish something, you can pretty much bet we’re going to work like hell to try to get there. Whatever speed that is.” The only thing missing is a finish line. Track and field — whether the decathlon, heptathlon or any other event — always has a clear conclusion: reaching the medal podium, for example, for Eaton and Theisen-Eaton. Not so in retirement, which in stark contrast lacks a distinct end point. It’s left Eaton and Theisen-Eaton on their own schedule. No set training time, no competition dates set months in advance. No medals. They can choose the next step. So what does come next for the couple that left track and field at the top of their games? “I think the key is setting really clear goals,” Eaton said. “The simple thing is track as the goal was very easy — it was just, win these meets. In life you just have to pick your own. And when you accomplish it, I think you set another one. So there’s not an end. I don’t think there ever should really be an end. But defining that is probably the hardest part at first.”

Ashton Eaton celebrates with wife Brianne Thiesen-Eaton after winning his second consecutive Olympic gold in the decathlon in Rio. (Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Hunter Greene is the star baseball needs. First he has to finish high school.
Not only did Greene start at shortstop for Notre Dame as a freshman, but coach Tom Dill also called him the best infielder he’d ever worked with, a list that includes big league vet Brendan Ryan. At 15, Greene was the state player of the year and a centerpiece of the 18-and-under national team, conducting pregame meditation for the group on bus rides through Japan. Greene does yoga with a private instructor three times a week. He dabbles in Korean. He wonders if he could ever play “The Star-Spangled Banner” on his violin before taking the field. He listens to hip-hop, mainly Travis Scott, but he’s also kind of country: He owns a dozen Bass Pro Shop hats and casts into Castaic Lake. He spends free periods painting with Joseph Lee, his AP studio art teacher; bright colors and bold images are Greene’s trademarks. “I’m trying to get more opaque,” he says, revealing a recent canvas. He launched a sock drive this winter for the homeless in downtown Los Angeles, after reading an article about a shortage, then handed out 2,300 pairs on Skid Row. He has received four certificates of recognition from L.A.-area politicians for his community service efforts. He delivered his first speech promoting youth baseball when he was eight, from a stepstool at Industry Hills Golf Club, and he spoke on a Pitch Smart panel about limiting arm injuries among young players at last year’s All-Star Game alongside John Smoltz and Jack Morris.

Hunter Greene is the star baseball needs. First he has to finish high school.

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