Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #308

March 10 – March 23, 2019

Welcome to issue three hundred and eight of the Sports Doing Good newsletter. This week’s 10 stories include:

  1. Is It Ever Too Late to Pursue a Dream? (Longreads)
  2. ‘A Steph Curry for girls’ – How Azzi Fudd could end up inspiring others in women’s hoops (Yahoo Sports)
  3. Nike and Mattel on why the least active generation in history needs physical playtime (Fast Company)
  4. The Long Fight for Pay Equality in Sports (New York Times)
  5. Wait, New York Has a Pro Rugby Team? Yes, and It’s a Winner So Far (New York Times)
  6. NCAA Tournament’s most inspiring coach is literally living for this (NY Post)
  7. Kelly Holmes on mental health and happiness: ‘I’ve been to the lowest point and the highest’ (The Guardian)
  8. Esiason heads up Mikey Strong Charity Hockey Game at Prudential Center (
  9. With NBA Connections All Over, UC Irvine Is No Ordinary Cinderella (Sports Illustrated)
  10. This 8-Year-Old Chess Champion Will Make You Smile (New York Times)

NHL & NHLPA Launch Female Hockey Advisory Committee (Beyond Sport)
‘Our inspiration is Afghanistan’ – East Timorese hope to copy cricket rise (Peace and Sport)
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Sports Award (Sport and Dev)
Lorena looking forward to life with Laureus (Laureus)
NBA Math Hoops Aims to Reach 300,000+ Kids by 2020 (Beyond Sport)

We present again our “Featured Video” offering(s). With the explosion of video content out there highlighting the good in sport, we want to showcase such content for your enjoyment and learning. This will be an ongoing effort.

Why This Olympic Swimmer Left Medicine for MMA (Great Big Story)
This Is About Legacy (Mikey Garcia) (The Players’ Tribune)
An angel found her wings (ESPN)

The stories we feature each week come from all kinds of new sources, e.g. global, national, and local; sports news; human interest stories; business cases; etc. As we felt, correctly, from the beginning, good news can come from almost everywhere. Our goal was and is to help find those stories and organize them in a concise, digestible way for you.

This week we have a story from Longreads ( “Longreads, founded in 2009, is dedicated to helping people find and share the best storytelling in the world. We feature and produce in-depth investigative pieces, profiles, interviews, commentary, book reviews, audio stories, and personal essays.” If the story of Dan Stoddard, a kind-of-middle aged college basketball player, is indicative of their content, we can guarantee we will go back to Longreads for more stories.

The other stories we feature this week include: young basketball star Azzi Fudd and her breathtaking potential; Nike and Mattel on why the “least active generation in history” needs physical playtime; the long, and still active, fight for equal pay for women in sports; a new New York team in a new rugby league; an inspiring coach, Greg Herenda of Fairleigh Dickinson, participating in this year’s NCAA tournament; English track star Kelly Holmes and her personal take on mental health and happiness; a charity hockey game with modest beginnings and impressive growth; UC Irvine, one of the schools “dancing” as part of this year’s March Madness; and the inspiring tale of 8-year old chess champion, Tanitoluwa Adewumi.

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.

Is It Ever Too Late to Pursue a Dream? (Longreads)
Algonquin had lost 10 of its first 14 games, so the final outcome — an 80-71 defeat — was immaterial, but Stoddard had joined the team to finally act on the lifetime of regrets he had accumulated, and he didn’t want to add another disappointment to the ledger. In September 2017, Stoddard enrolled as a freshman at Algonquin College, one of Canada’s largest public colleges. Not long after, the accounting major joined the basketball team. But Stoddard wasn’t just acting on a whim, a loosely conceived midlife crisis outfitted in size 14 Air Jordan 8s: Stoddard, who is known around campus as “Old Man Dan,” has serious hoop dreams. “You can call it lunacy,” he told me over tea with honey at Tim Hortons on campus. “I’m not saying I’ll make the NBA or go play overseas, but I want to get to a point where I can do it.” He knew others would think this experiment was crazy — during the Thunders’ preseason schedule, Stoddard heard the laughter from opposing coaches and players — and he even realized that his endeavor reeked of desperation, but he never felt the pull of quitting. “If I’m not talented enough, I can live with that, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to put in the effort to be the best player I can be,” he told me. “I don’t want to be wasting time hemming and hawing thinking about it.”

(photo, Stoddard) Caption: Photo by Brendan Burden

‘A Steph Curry for girls’ – How Azzi Fudd could end up inspiring others in women’s hoops (Yahoo Sports)
So how good is Fudd? Prominent workout guru Rob McClanaghan, who has trained four NBA MVPs, saw Fudd getting in extra work by herself after the first day of Curry’s camp. He asked her if she wanted to work out, and she eagerly agreed. Right away, McClanaghan noticed a rare level of investment, quizzing him on the nuances of footwork. “That’s like Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose and Steph Curry – that’s what the great ones do,” he said. “This inch or this inch. She loves details like you see in the great ones.” That notion was echoed by Kara Lawson, the former star player who is a respected local analyst for the Washington Wizards and national analyst for ESPN. Lawson’s instinct to be cautious about projecting Fudd too much kept intersecting with her true feelings, as she projects an unlimited ceiling. “She’s as complete as anyone I’ve seen at this age,” she said. “She plays like she’s 30.” McClanaghan said she flashed a rare ability to learn things and then immediately incorporate them into her game. He taught her a complicated same-foot step back, a move favored by James Harden, that he said is equal-parts difficult and unorthodox. She adjusted seamlessly after just a few reps.

AzziAzzi Fudd looks on with fellow SC30 Select Camp attendees.
(Photo credit: Cassy Athena for Under Armour)

Nike and Mattel on why the least active generation in history needs physical playtime (Fast Company)
Down agreed, emphasizing that the power of play is fundamentally about providing access and a level playing field to all children, “breaking down those barriers,” and giving them the tools and experience for success later in life. The panel closed with a question about the importance of play for adults. What needs do we grown-ups have for our own active, unstructured activities? Richards-Ross and Casimiro agreed that the drives and needs for activity never stop, no matter how old we get. But in a conversation focused on setting up the next generation for success, the final thought turned back to how one of the most valuable parts of play of adults tracks directly back to its usefulness for youths. “I think we’re all kids at heart. We’ve got to remember that,” Casimiro said. “The same kind of intentionality that applies to the work we do for kids needs to apply to us, if for no other reason, because we are their role models.”

Play time Left to right: Fast Company editorial director Jill Bernstein; Jorge Casimiro, chief social & community impact officer, Nike; Sanya Richards-Ross, 4x Olympic gold medalist, entrepreneur, and author, Chasing Grace; and Chris Down, chief design officer, Mattel [Photo: Celine Grouard]

The Long Fight for Pay Equality in Sports (New York Times)
Last week, all 28 players on the U.S. women’s national soccer team — the greatest women’s soccer team in the world — filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation, another move in its long-running battle for equality. The athletes — including the stars Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd — are not just taking issue with their paychecks but also with where they play, how they travel to matches, and the medical treatment and coaching they receive, in what they called “institutionalized gender discrimination,” as my colleague Andy Das reported. “We’ve always, dating back to forever, been a team that stood up for itself and fought hard for what it felt it deserved and tried to leave the game in a better place,” Rapinoe told The New York Times on Friday. The women’s team holds a record three World Cup championships and four Olympic gold medals. The issue of pay inequality in sports is of course not just soccer’s problem. Women across all sports are paid less, and many have fought for equity in salary and in prize money.

US Women's SoccerMembers of the U.S. women’s soccer team are using the slogan “Equal Play Equal Pay” to promote their wage fight. From left, Alex Morgan, Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd and Becky Sauerbrunn.
Credit U.S.W.N.T. Players Association

Wait, New York Has a Pro Rugby Team? Yes, and It’s a Winner So Far (New York Times)
James Kennedy wants you to know something about Rugby United New York right away. “We’re not the Knicks,” he said. Though New York City’s new professional rugby union team is an expansion team, he said, it will not wind up at the bottom of the standings like its basketball brother. Kennedy, the team’s owner and chairman, did not hedge when he spoke about the team’s chances in Major League Rugby. “We are certainly playoff bound,” he promised. And why not? The team is 4-1, having played only road games so far in a 16-game season, and is ready for its home opener, against the Toronto Arrows, on Friday night at MCU Park in Coney Island. New sports leagues — Major League Rugby is in its second year — have a habit of failing, and a professional rugby outfit would seem to be particularly perilous in a country where even many die-hard sports fans don’t know a scrum from a line-out. But Kennedy expects a good crowd on Friday and beyond. “I’d say we’ll average 4,500,” he said, adding that their first game in the 7,000-seat stadium was “close to a sellout.” The team could be helped by popular pricing: $20 to $35 a ticket.

RUNYMike Petri, left, Rugby United New York’s team captain, lateraled to Will Leonard in a 27-24 win against NOLA Gold in February. Credit Craig Bourdeaux

NCAA Tournament’s most inspiring coach is literally living for this (NY Post)
“I’ve always had that dream, too, but [UMBC coach] Lane Odom beat me to it,” Herenda joked. “I feel like the gap has really closed from the top teams down. But we can’t and won’t look at anything other than Prairie View. Anything is possible, but we have to take care of business first.” Anything is truly possible, even a chance to dance in the NCAA Tournament 11 months after a life-threatening situation for Herenda, whose team has won its last eight games since Feb. 14. “Even though everybody knows he’s crazy on the sidelines, coach pushes us so hard and I love that guy to death. [His illness] honestly motivated me as a player,” Holloway said. “Coach always says it’s just us, this is a special family, and we really appreciate that,” added forward Kaleb Bishop, a junior out of the now-closed St. Anthony High School in Jersey City. “Just seeing him go through that, seeing pictures of him in the hospital, to be in this position now, we dedicate that to him.”

greg-herendaGreg Herenda (Credit: Stefan Jeremiah)

Kelly Holmes on mental health and happiness: ‘I’ve been to the lowest point and the highest’ (The Guardian)
Unlike most athletes, Holmes retired from the sport on a high a year later. But even she struggled with retirement. “When you retire, you go, ‘Who actually am I?’ because all you know is the athlete who wakes up in the morning, knows what’s expected of them. Then you leave.” She says she was lost. She started the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust to support other athletes who weren’t coping with retirement, encouraging them to mentor disadvantaged young people. “An enormous amount of sportspeople were really struggling with detachment from sport, losing their identity.” Holmes was one of the lucky few, inundated with offers – to write books (five and counting), give motivational talks, make TV documentaries, sit on boards and work with charities (notably Mind). She is still ferociously competitive. She proudly tells me she has won 25 trophies since retiring. When we met in 2004, she was on the road campaigning to win Sports Personality of the Year, which she duly did. She served as the country’s first national school sport champion for three years when Gordon Brown was prime minister. She reels off the trophies she has won since retiring – for philanthropy, mentoring, charity work.

Kelly HolmesAt a parkrun celebrating the NHS Photograph: Scott Wishart

Esiason heads up Mikey Strong Charity Hockey Game at Prudential Center (
The fight to get Mikey Nichols back on his feet is getting stronger each year. The 22-year-old who was paralyzed during a high school hockey game five years ago will be at Prudential Center on Friday for the 5th annual Mikey Strong Charity Hockey Game to benefit spinal cord research and quality-of-life initiatives, the Nichols Family Trust and the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. What started as a charity game at Ice World Sports Complex in Middletown, New Jersey in 2015 has grown so big it will be played at the home of the New Jersey Devils for the second straight year. “The support from the community of athletics has been nothing short of just great,” said Boomer Esiason, former NFL quarterback and current co-host of “Boomer and Gio,” a morning show on WFAN, a sports-talk radio station in New York. “To open up a major NHL building like the Prudential Center, on a Friday night, for a charity hockey game, is nothing short of a miracle, especially in this area.”

Hockey fundraiser

With NBA Connections All Over, UC Irvine Is No Ordinary Cinderella (Sports Illustrated)
UC Irvine coach Russ Turner looked down at his iPhone. Less than thirty minutes had passed since the 13th-seeded Anteaters knocked off fourth-seeded Kansas State, 70-64, on Friday. Already, he had 205 text messages. “Hold that––now 206,” he said, voice raspy from exhorting and berating and, finally, celebrating. In a previous life, Turner was an assistant coach with the Warriors, and he says he’s modeled elements of his swarming, shifting defenses on tactics gleaned during his NBA time. “You can do it if you have smart players,” he explains. “We do.” In some respects, the Anteaters fit the Cinderella profile––unheralded players, smaller program, slightly weird nickname. At the buzzer today, they leapt and roared and punched the air, as Cinderellas do. But the players also say they expected to be here. Turner’s preseason goals: to win the league, win the conference tournament, and not just get to the tourney, but advance. And, as guard Max Hazzard points out, “That doesn’t mean one game.”

UC IrvineSports Illustrated

This 8-Year-Old Chess Champion Will Make You Smile (New York Times)
What’s even more extraordinary is that Tani, as he is known, learned chess only a bit more than a year ago. His play has skyrocketed month by month, and he now has seven trophies by his bed in the homeless shelter. “I want to be the youngest grandmaster,” he told me. Tani’s family fled northern Nigeria in 2017, fearing attacks by Boko Haram terrorists on Christians such as themselves. “I don’t want to lose any loved ones,” his father, Kayode Adewumi, told me. So Tani, his parents and his older brother arrived in New York City a bit more than a year ago, and a pastor helped steer them to a homeless shelter. Tani began attending the local elementary school, P.S. 116, which has a part-time chess teacher who taught Tani’s class how to play. Tani enjoyed the game and prodded his mom, Oluwatoyin Adewumi, to ask if he could join the chess club.

TaniTani, as he’s known, carrying his chess trophy home from school, accompanied by his mother and brother. Credit Christopher Lee for The New York Times


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