Monday, February 21, 2011

Never Say Never

I was in my teens when I was in a car accident that left me near paralyzed.   I had to learn to walk again.  So when I saw the story of  16-year-old Lenny Martelli of Pennsylvania walking after being paralyzed in a snow board accident, it struck a chord.
I was moved because Phil Martelli (not related) of Saint Joseph University's basketball team inspired him to walk, using the same motivational talks he uses for his players.
Lenny and I both defied the doctors' prognosis when they said we would never walk again.  But, it was through sports motivation that our healings came.
In my workshops, I constantly tell parents that one of the best things they can do for their children is to put them in sports.  It gives you determination, motivation, and the confidence to succeed against all odds.
Never say never.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Do What Is Right For You: A LeBron James Lesson

LeBron James continuous to take a tremendous amount of heat for leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to play for Miami. After he left the Cavaliers, they too have taken tremendous beatings as well, from opposing teams.  And James has nearly single-handedly turned the Heat into a serious title contender.  Before he joined the team, the players badly needed help to get back to the championship level.
Still James has been called by sportscasters and writers "the most hated athlete in American sports."  Why?  When he left the Cavaliers many felt he betrayed the team for spoils, and that he is a "sell-out."
“Fans are passionate,” James said. “They believe that you should live your life and your career through them, and when you don’t do that, they automatically turn. I know that personally.”
I am not going to pass judgement on whether LeBron should have stayed with the Cavaliers.  However, I do want to say this.  You cannot make life decisions based on what others want you to do.  Could you honestly say you would stay on a job and pass up a more lucrative career because others felt you should? 
Life is too short to live for others, even fans.  And, if you are a basketball player, you know that life on the court is one of the shortest careers you could possibly have.
So whether you believe that James should have stayed, or gone on to Miami like he did, remember in your own life, live for what you feel is best for you, not others.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

This Inspirational Coach Gives the Ultimate Gift

The Wake Forest baseball coach Tom Walter who has donated a kidney to a freshman player, has also given the gift of inspiration to players, and to others hearing about his incredible, selfless act.
When Walter learned his outfielder, Kevin Jordan, suffers from a disease that can lead to kidney failure, he stepped up to offer his own when there was no match in Jordan's family. 
How many times have you heard coaches say their team is their family?  Walter not only says this, but takes it to heart making the ultimate sacrifice, most would only give for blood relative, if at all. 
Walter feels Jordan was courageous having decided to enroll at Wake Forest despite his illness, not knowing anyone on campus, and becoming a sick teenager away from home having to be in his room on dialysis.
Imagine the scene when the coach walked into the locker room one day to inform his players that he was about to donate a kidney to Jordan,  a 19th-round draft pick of the New York Yankees last June. The team broke out into applause, astonished the man who tells them they are a family, shows them beyond words.
"I wanted to help this young man," Walter, 42, said.  "When we recruit our guys, we talk about family and making sacrifices for one another. It's something we take very seriously.  
The lesson of compassion and selfless giving Walter has shown Jordan and the team, is something they will never forget not only playing baseball, but in the game of life. 

Feeling Ignored? Remember Aaron Rodgers' Dream

Who would have thought the kid out of high school ignored by every major college football program in the country would one day lead his team to a Super Bowl victory and capture the MVP honors?  It sounds like a fairy tale, but it's a dream come true for Aaron Rodgers, and a reminder for anyone to keep believing in themselves when others don't.
Rodgers only got a chance to play college ball because a recruiting coach was looking for someone else.  In his heart, he must have known it was his fate.  And, even though the quarterback from Chico, Calif., was snubbed by his beloved 49ers, did not give up.  
It doesn't matter what others think of you.  Follow your dreams.  Their opinion, does not have to become your reality.
Rodgers endured life in the shadows behind Brett Favre, but last Sunday, he was the meteorite, leading the Green Bay Packers to the team's fourth Super Bowl championship, in front of the largest TV audience in history.
The quarterback's pursuit to follow his dreams sounds like a sappy Disney movie plot, but it's Rodgers' story.  He never gave up, and never stopped believing in himself. Not only is he now living, the career of his heroes, but advertisers say if Rodgers chooses, he can easily make $3 million in endorsements.
"It's a dream come true," said Rodgers'. "It's what I dreamed about as a kid watching Joe Montana and Steve Young.  We won the Super Bowl!"

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Thomas Robinson, Grief and Basketball

Thomas Robinson is taking a leave of absence from playing basketball for the University of Kansas after his mother Lisa Robinson, suddenly died at age 43.  (The  cause of her death to be released next month resulting from an autopsy.)  Robinson recently lost two grandparents as well.
The mature sophomore forward is going back to his native Washington, D.C. to care for his nine-year-old sister, Jayla, the last surviving member of Robinson's family. 
Reading about Robinson, and his admirable concern for his sister,  struck a chord in my own life.  I remember in 1996 also trying to deal with the sudden lost of my sister, a family friend, and my mother-in-law, who I adored, all within the first two months of the year.  I was grown then, but it also brought back memories of my father being stabbed to death by a stranger when I was in college. 
No one can tell you how long to grieve.  Grief is an individual journey.  However, I can testify that in all my sudden losses, what helped me tremendously was being able to run  five miles a day, and play basketball while I was still grieving.
Exercise not only reduces stress, but it helps to improve your mood to be able to cope during tragedy.  The difficulties and setbacks one experiences dealing with the after math of death is overwhelming.  However, exercise helps you to get through those tough times , and feel hope in the middle of darkness.
There is no doubt, when death occurs in your life, you feel depressed.  One Duke University study indicated that, for mild and moderate depression, regular moderate exercise was even more effective than taking medication.  According to the study, exercise helps for both short term and long-term results against depression.
It was no wonder that Robinson returned to the court two days after burying his mom.  He found comfort playing basketball against Kansas State.  Robinson scored 17 points with nine rebounds, leading No. 3 Kansas to a 90-66 victory over Kansas State. 
When Robinson returned to practice before the game he said, "It feels amazing because I have not been playing basketball for a whole week, and that is unheard of to be sitting around for four days and not play," Robinson said. "I was so anxious to get back on the court, whether it is practice or the game. I just could not wait to be back in Allen Fieldhouse again."
Hang in there Thomas.  We're rooting for you!