Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Jim Brown, More than a Lacrosse

Front row: Bill Russell, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, and Kareem Abdul Jabar. June 4, 1967 press conference given by the top African American athletes of that time in support of Ali’s opposition to the Vietnam War draft.
Growing up playing lacrosse in the 1970s and 1980s, I never saw Jim Brown play. What I knew about him was based on seeing him on myriads of NFL highlight films particularly as Walter Payton came ever closer to breaking Browns all time rushing records and from my Dad. “That Jim Brown is bad!” my dad would often say, impressed by Browns black cool style and black militancy as he destroyed one color barrier and stereo-type in American society after another. Brown refused to accept racist customs and submit to white privilege and my Dad admired Big Jim for that. He like Malcolm X, Bill Russell, Ali, Kareem, and the two brothers, Tommy Smith and John Carlos, who gave the black power salute during the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, Brown would not compromise his views for fear that it would hurt his career and pay check. I met Jim Brown in 1984 when we (Syracuse) played Hobart College the Div III national champions in 83 in Manhasset High School’s Lacrosse Day of Champions on the island, a great event. This coincided with Brown’s induction into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1983. More on this tomorrow.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Helping Boys Become Men and Girls Become Women

Fred Opie coaching 1 and 2 graders in Sleepy Hollow, New York 
 Too many club and high school coaches cannot resist the temptation to win at all cost.  They let their best players get away with poor choices instead of teaching them early on how to be a responsible women or man. Coaches need to focus on developing decision making, health relationship, empathy, loyalty, and skill development. Coaches focus on transforming boys in the men and girls into women instead of your win loss record. As a coach you are hurting your players and program when you play favorites and overlook unacceptable behavior among your players. Discipline even bench selfish and unruly standout players. In the long wrong you will do more to help that player succeed in the future. 

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

UNC Hall of Famer Tom Haus

UNC’s All-American Defensemen and Hall of Famer Tom Haus 
UNC's 1986 NCAA National Championship team
I don’t remember much from my first game in a Syracuse University jersey in March of 1984. I know we won and I held my own against UNC players. But I clearly remember the dominating play of Hall of Famer and UNC defensemen Tom Haus that day. Tom was a big thick guy, about 6’2’’ 195 and he ran like a deer. One of his college teammates tells me he was a “terrific athlete and ripped but I never saw him lift weights at UNC.”  Haus wore heavy sweat pants and a pair of blue canvass Converse high tops. Haus covered Hall of Fame attackman Tim Nelson (Nellie) and stripped him of the ball and started fast breaks—I believed he scored one or two goals that day. Hause was striaght up nasty as a player! He ended his career at Carolina as a three-time first-team All-American and three-time Defenseman of the Year—still the only person to do that; Nellie did the same at the attack position. “The guy didn’t care about lacrosse and never really worked hard at it” says a former UNC teammate. “He was great at lacrosse all his life but it didn’t mean the world to him. He did not go hard in practice but he was a gamer." When UNC won the championship in 86 it was Haus that shut down Hopkins Hall of Famer Brian Wood in the semi-finals and UVA Hall of Famer Roddy Marino in the finals. He was inducted in the National Hall Fame in 2005 and UNC retired his #13 jersey.