Category Archives: sports Column

A Vision of Splash to Success

Competitive Summing: My time spent as a completive swimmer, I met many challenges in and out of the pool./ Photo courtesy of Pixabay@www.pixabay.com.
Competitive Summing:
My time spent as a completing as a swimmer, I met many challenges in and out of the pool./ Photo courtesy of Pixabay@www.pixabay.com.

The vision to in vision the splash to success is not an easy road for every competitive  swimmer. But when I look back at my time as a competitive  swimmer I have many great memories of time spent in the pool.

My typical day was long and began very early like around 5:30 a.m. The sun sleeps as the desolate city streets await the morning rush hour. Driven by the inexplicable compulsion I would enter the Forest Park Swim Center inching my way toward the cold dark locker room, I would slip into my still damp drags suites and make a mad dash through the chill of the morning air, stopping only to grab pull-buoys and a kick-board on my way to the pool.  The pool artificially warmed to fifty-five degrees; the temperature differential propels the spooky ambience of a werewolf movie. Next come the shock. Head first immersion into tepid  water sends my heart racing with a quick set of warm-up laps. As I finish, the coach emerges from the fog. He offers no friendly accolades, just a rigid regiment of sets, intervals, and exhortations.

Thus starts another workout—4,500 yards to go, then a quick shower and five-minute drive to school. Then it’s back to the pool; the afternoon training schedule features an extra 5,550 yards. Tomorrow it all starts over again. The goal is to cut my times by anther tenth of a second. The end goal is to do that tiny, unexplainable difference at the end of the race that separates success from failure, greatness from mediocrity. Somehow I accept the pitch–otherwise; I would still be deep in my mattress, slumbering beneath the blankets. In this sport, the antagonist is time. Coaches spend hours in specialized clinics, analyzing the latest research on training techniques, and experiment with workout schedules in trying to defeat time. Yet there are no shortcuts to winning and workouts are agonizing.

I took part in my first swimming race when I was ten years-old. My parents, fearing injury, directed my athletic interests away from football and into the pool. Three weeks into my new swimming attempt, I somehow persuaded the coach to let me enter the annual age group meet. To his surprise (and mine), I pulled out an “A” time. I furthered my achievements by winning “top 16” awards for various age groups, setting club records, and being named National First Team All-American in the 100-Butterfly and Second All Team in the 200-Medley. From that point, I  moved up to the Senior Championship level, which means the competition now included world-class swimmers. making the finals was difficult from here, as I was aware–at this level,  one measures  success  by mere tenths of a second. In addition, each new level brings extra requirements such as more weight training, longer weekend training sessions, and more travel away from home. Time with friends is increasing spent in the pursuit of the next swimming goals.

Sometimes in the solitude of the laps, my thoughts transition to events in my personal life. “My grandmother reoccurrence of cancer, which had spread to her lungs. She had always been driven by good sprites and independence, but suddenly my family had to  except that she now faces a limited timeline.”

Then I few weeks later, I learned that my grandfather who lived a good distance from me had stomach cancer. He had successful sugary but my family knew back then that a full recovery was not guaranteed.”  When I first learned they were both struck with cancer, I felt as if my goal, to cut my times by fractions of a second, seemed irrelevant, even ironic, given the urgency of their goals: to prolong life itself. Yet my family has learned to draw on each other’s strengths for support–their fortitude helps me overcome my struggles while my swimming achievements provided them with a various sense of victory. When I share my latest award or triumph story  with them, they smile with pride, as they had stood on the awards stand.  A grandparent is the only one who would  understand what the medals mean to them.

My grandparent’s strength has shored up my determination to succeed.  I have learned that, as in swimming, life’s successes often come in small increments. Sometimes even the act of showing up at a workout when your body and psyche feel like it  separates a great result from a failure. The difference between success and failure is defines  the ability to overcome strong internal resistance. I know that by consistently working towards my goals–however small they may be-I can do whatever I set as my goal, both in and beyond the swimming pool.

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Favorite Pro Teams Part 2: The Reason Why I Selected This Mix of Teams

Boston Red Socks: It will not be long now until every Major League team will be back on the diamond. This photo was down loaded from photo Flicker website. photo Attribution  Some rights reserved by Keith Allison.
Boston Red Socks:
It will not be long now until every Major League team will be back on the diamond playing games that really count. This photo was down loaded from photo Flicker website. photo Attribution Some rights reserved by Keith Allison.

This column has been brewing for  months now, ever since  the National Football League playoffs began this past season, after a Facebook message exchange with a friend who is a(Seattle native  and die-hard Seahawks fan). We were having a conversation about who might make the playoffs. As we were chatting about the Patriots and Steelers potentially colliding in the playoffs, my good friend suddenly said, “At least if my Steelers lose, I’ll be happy for you, because the Pats made it.”

The above communication gave me the idea of my last post  of selecting a few of my favorite professional teams. But before I get into my reasons for selecting this unseal mix of favorite teams, let me define what a die-hard, faithful fan is to me.

My definition of a loyal and faithful sports fan is one who roots for his or her favorite team no matter what the outcome of the game is. Someone does not jump off the team bandwagon because of a loss or poor season. The true and faithful sports fans stands behind their favorite teams with support of that team’s efforts no matter what occurs during the season. Now that does not mean that a die-hard sports fan does not watch other teams because I certainly do watch other teams besides my list of favorite teams.

Just like any sports fan out there I love to root for a winner. But my most favorite kind of team to root for is the underdog teams. There are both winning and underdog teams on my favorite pro team list. I love rooting for the underdog team because when these teams do well, it comes as a surprise to the majority of fans but not me.

As a person who was born into a military  family and raised all over including some foreign countries, I have had the time and opportunity to see many different sports and teams.

Despite having a rollercoaster year with  injuries to key players like Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant, two players who play a major role on the floor for the Los Angles Lakers organization. The Lakers still remain my all-time favorite in the (National Basketball Association)NBA. If I had to pick only one team as my favorite professional team this would be the team.

The Lakers are a favorite of mine because of their style of play on the floor. The team plays a fast-pace game that pushes the basketball up the floor to score quickly on the competition. But when need be, the loveable purple and gold can slow a game down and play defense when required. They also have players who can take over a game when needed and make sure the basketball is distributed to the right players to get the scoring needed for a victory.

As a young child I also grew-up admiring Ervin “Magic” Johnson in my b-ball game, wishing and dreaming I could play the game just like him. He has also been a role model of mine since my younger days as an athlete and he still serves as that role for me today. Over time Magic Johnson has shown me that he has a very human side to him and has made mistakes in his life. The honesty about the errors of his ways  has  made me really admire the man. With his basketball career behind him Johnson  has grown into a successful business man but not without a few bad business  decisions in his early business startup days due to some bad advice he was given.

But I enjoyed watching the Dallas Stars because of the speed  and action in the game. As the local hockey team it was easy to become a fan due to the community involvement and projects the Stars had going on in Dallas and surrounding communities. But I could do without the fights and violence during an NHL game. Some players and fans say the fighting makes the game safer for the players but this fan just can’t see the reasoning in that fact.

I like the Stars because of there lunch pal approach to hockey. The boys come in and play hard every game for their fans and as a fan I appreciate that approach in the game. The players are all very approachable in the Dallas community when you see them out in public while they believe in giving back to the community and league in which they all play in.

With the opening of spring training for Major league baseball it will be exciting for this fan to see the Boston Reds Socks back on the diamond come opening day.

This organization is a fun team to be a fan of because they often get off to a slow start and come on strong  in September and October. But this season should be different as some changes in the roster were made during the off-season. The farm system of the Red Socks are strong and healthy, as the media has reported that some Boston minor leaguers will see playing time at the major league level before the season is completed.

New York is a great sports city  divided by two NFL clubs, the NY Jets and the NY Giants.  A fan in the Big Apple is usually either a Jets or Giants fan but very seldom a fan of both teams.

I have been a Jets fan what seems like forever because I love supporting the underdog team. In the early days of my elementary education a neighbor of mine claimed I looked a lot like Joe “Willie” Namath, the Jets Hall of Fame quarterback. The truth was I did back then with the way I grew my hair.

The real reason I like the Jets is Head Coach Rex Ryan. He has his own way of doing things with this organization. This fan likes Ryan because he says what he thinks to both his team and the media. The head coach always tells his team to play like champions and go hard until you hear the wistle being blown by the referee.

The local fans love and support both their team and head coaches. The Jets have a strong  fan base and fans spend a ton of money supporting this team.

I understand that my selection of favorite professional teams makes for an unusual mix  for some blog followers. But to me the selection of these teams make perfect sense. I enjoy being different when it comes to my choices of sports teams. Being a little different makes life interesting for me. So I hope this post clears up why I picked the teams in my last post as my favorite teams.  If not feel free to contact me and I will be happy to clear up any questions on the issue you might have. All comments are welcome here, good or bad.

Sports Seasons May Come and Go but a Faithful Fan will last a Life time

Kobe Bryant: The engine that makes the LA Lakers go.photo credit: Keith Allison via photopin cc
Kobe Bryant: The engine that makes the LA Lakers go.photo credit: Keith Allison via photopin cc

As a self-admitted sports junkie I love to read, watch and play sports. A fan of professional sports from childhood, I have established a few favorite teams and follow them with passion. Sports fans all have their favorite sports and teams to watch and follow. There can be a million different reason a sports fan likes or follows a certain team. Below are a few of my personal favorite sports teams.

Some Personal Favorite Teams of a Self-admitted Sports Junkie:

My favorite professional sports teams are:  the Los Angeles Lakers, the Boston Red Socks, New York Jets and Dallas Stars.

I love a winner but most of the time I root for the underdogs of sports because not knowing for sure what will happen sometimes makes watching a sports event more enjoyable for this sports fan. Nothing I  hate more than a lopsided game that is dominated by one team but I realize those types of games happen in the world of sports occasionally.

Los Angeles Lakers:

As a die-hard Lakers fan I grew-up watching Ervin “Magic” Johnson and the Lakers dominate the NBA, winning  5 championship titles in the 1980’s . The squad even won back to back titles under the direction of Pat Riley as head coach. Magic was a great player and quite the Floor General during his time in a Lakers uniform. He even played all 5 positions in one game, as I recall, to help his team pick up the win.  Today Magic is a successful business man and has a share of ownership in the Lakers.

Die-Hard Lakers’ Fan with Magic Johnson As My Role Model:

Another Laker that caught my attention during his playing days was Kurt Rambis. He was a white-boy who could really play the game of

Laker Fans in 2009 Laker faithful sporting their team back in 2009. Mario Pineda  mstickmanp / Picture taken by above named in June 2009. Picture down loaded from flicker. . Taken on June
Laker Fans in 2009
Laker faithful sporting their team back in 2009.
Mario Pineda mstickmanp / Picture taken by above named in June 2009. Picture down loaded from  photo flickr.com

basketball. He knew his role on the team and played it well. Nicknamed “SuperMan” he looked like Clark Kent, with those glasses of his. He would fly down the lane with the ball like “SuperMan”, only without the cape. He retired from professional basketball in 1985, after a 14-year career. He has served as an assistant coach to the Lakers. Rambis was Head Coach of Minnesota Timberwolves 2009-2011. On August 8, 2009, Rambis was announced as the new head coach for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Rambis succeeded Kevin McHale, infamous for taking him down in Game 4 of the 1984 NBA Finals.

The stars of today for the Lakers are players like Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash. Unfortunately Kobe is out with injuries but he is expected to return soon per media reports. With Bryant and Nash out of the starting line up at the same time the team suffered on the floor and in the win column on the stat sheet.

 the Lakers have been in a world of hurt in the win column. Wins have come few and far between for this year’s squad. But as a true and faithful fan of the Lakers I know things will get better soon for the Western Conference team. A loyal fan does not abandon his team just because they have fallen into a loosing skid. He remains true to his team, as I will continue to be despite the current situation of the team or out come of this season.

New York Jets:

Now that the Super Bowl is over, I will openly admit my favorite NFL team is the New York Jets. Yes, the Jets are a true underdog but that is one of the many things that makes them loveable to me as a fan.

When I look back and think about the history of the Jets one name that pops up is Joe “Willie” Namath. As every Jets fan knows, we have not won a Super Bowl since 1968,  however, the Jets best finish since The Super Bowl  was 1982 in this fans opinion. It was the 1968 season that put Namath in the Hall of Fame. The professional football legend for his play in Super Bowl III. Some may also remember Namath for his panty hose

Head Coach Rex Ryan New York Jets Fans love Rex Ryan and the Jets. They spend a ton of money each season to support their team win or lose. Photo Courtesy of WikiCommons.
Head Coach Rex Ryan
New York Jets Fans love Rex Ryan and the Jets. They spend a ton of money each season to support their team win or lose. Photo Courtesy of WikiCommons.

commercials that showed the softer side of the tough football player.

Namath is still involved with the Jets organization of today from time to time. He has done interviews with the press where he has been asked about Gene Smith, Jets current starting quarterback, who just completed his rookie season with the team. It seems Namath has been impressed with Smith and likes him as the Jets quarterback, per media reports.

As a fan I think Smith has a bright future in the NFL, once he gets more experience under his belt. The Jets Draft choice out  of the University of West Virginia sure was a joy to watch this past season, keeping in mind the first-year player has a learning curve at the professional level before he can join the likes of Payton Manning or Tom Brady. Smith still has a lot to show the Jets before he can lock down the starting quarterback position permanently moving forward in his career with the Jets.

 Statically 1982 was  the best year for the Jets.  I remember the Mud Bowl and never realized just how dominate the team was that season on the offensive side of the ball. New York faced a schedule that gave up 18.26 PPG, yet the Jets offense had 27.22 PPG for a 49.04% scoring efficiency. The defense was poor that season and they faced poor offenses, but they accomplished their job on the field. Quarterback Richard Todd had his best season in the NFL that year and running back Freeman McNeil dominated the Jets ground game.

 The Jets, notorious for being bad finishers, may have been helped by a shortened season, but that should not take away from how well the team played in their 9 game season. Their big problem was the fact that the Dolphins, having a great defensive club, had their number and beat them three times that season, including the AFC Championship where the Dolphins intentionally allowed the field to become mud to slow down the Jets offensive talent.

Rex A True Jet Favorite with Fans:

Rex Ryan is another true Jet favorite for me. The Jets organization recently resigned Ryan, the popular coach to a contract extension , removing the lame duck label from Ryan and keeping him with the franchise through the 2015 season – and possibly beyond. The team announced the extension for Ryan, who had one year remaining on his contract, but provided no further details regarding the length of the deal or financial terms were not released when first reported by the media.

Ryan is a fun and interesting coach to watch at press conferences. He does not beat around the bush and try to hide things about the team from the media. He is direct and to the point and says what is on his mind and tells you how he truly feels. That’s what makes him likable for me. He also does not hesitate to tell the press that it’s non of their business, if  they ask a question he feels they do not need to know.

A young rookie favorite of mine is Geno Smith. He was impressive in his rookie campaign considering this past season was his first season in the NFL. He still has a lot to learn about the pro game, while the Jets are still learning about him, he has a bright future in the NFL that is as bright as sunshine on a sunny day. Look for him to improve as a Jet quarterback as he gets more experience under his belt as a NFL QB.

The Jets have always been a favorite team of mine. Not because they have won countless Super Bowls, it’s because they are the hard working man’s team. The team always comes to play when they step on the field no matter who they are playing that day. They always work hard and they believe they can win any game they play in and win as a team.

Boston Red Socks:

With spring training for Major League Baseball opening in February, I can not wait to see my Boston Red Socks get back on the field to pursue another  World Series title. It will be interesting to see how their roster has changed due to off-season trades and signings.

As a Red Socks fan I love their competitive edge and their will to win. As the world champs of baseball they will have teams gunning for them this season, as they re-load the roster and try to hang on to their title. It is also hard to repeat as World Series Champions but the boys from bean-town just might have the roster to get it done.

John Oly Olerud John Olerud as a member of the Boston Red Socks in July of 2005. Photo credit Liz Martin owner/ Picture taken from Flickr Photo website.
John Oly Olerud
John Olerud as a member of the Boston Red Socks in July of 2005. Photo credit Liz Martin owner/ Picture taken from Flickr Photo website.

My favorite Red Socks player John Olerud announced retirement from baseball on December 6, 2005. At the time of his retirement, his 2,239 career hits represented the 143rd-highest total in Major League Baseball history. His career .398 OBP ranks 65th all-time, and his 500 doubles are good for 44th all-time. His 17-year career spanned 2,234 games.

One player on the Sock’s active roster that I love is Pitcher John Lackey. What’s not to love about Lackey. He is a player that some fans wanted gone off the Boston roster, who fans love to hate.  Going into the 2014 season, as of January, Lackey is a Boston Red Sock.

Lackey was poison. He was overpaid, weighed too much, churlish, and a bad example for the Sox’s young pitchers. His five-year, $82.5 million contract, signed in December of 2009, signified the beginning of the decay of the Red Sox. Lackey was the symbol of throwing money at problems, putting TV ratings and instant gratification ahead of scouting and player development.  That was a storyline back in the 2013 season per media reports.

Boston has a lot of young talented players coming up from the farm in 2014 that are projected to break into the big leagues this coming season. Look for the Reds Socks to be in battle for another World Series title in 2014, with the load of talented players they have on the club.

Dallas Stars:

It is  exciting  to be a Dallas Stars fan. After a few  seasons of frustration and disappointment, the Stars are once again the team to watch. With the potential to be the hard-working and exciting team we’ve loved since they came to Dallas in 1993. While most fans first thought the Stars would be bad. This team was  better than first reported to the public. I don’t think many ever expected this level of continued success in Dallas.

The Fans in the State of Texas Love The Dallas Stars:

Unfortunately, there isn’t the same level of enthusiasm for these Dallas Stars that we’ve seen in the past. While the die-hard fans are just as crazed and rowdy as always it’s been frustrating to see such a promising young team skate to the smallest crowds in franchise history. The club has said through different media outlets all season long that if the Stars would just keep winning then the fans would start to come back; sadly, that doesn’t appear to be the case.  So far this season the Stars are holding down 5th place in the NHL Central Division with a 22-20-8 record.  

Dallas Stars in action during a game.photo credit: Kaz Andrew via photopin cc
Dallas Stars in action during a game.photo credit: Kaz Andrew via photopin cc

 Mike Modona A favorite with NHL Fans Will Be Missed on the Ice:

Mike Modono was my favorite Stars player to watch on the ice when he played for the Dallas Stars. His style of  play made hockey exciting to watch  for me. I love the speed in which the game is played. As a fan I feel I could do without the fighting that goes on during a game. Fighting in hockey does not have any place in the game because it has no outcome in the final score of a game. The only outcome I can see to fighting in hockey is players getting hurt while having large medical and dental bills.

The most memorable year for me was the 1999-2000 season when the Stars won the Stanley Cup, which is given to the best hockey team in the NHL for a given season. Modono and Bert Hall helped lead the club to the cup that season and boy what a great season it was, Dallas’s first Stanley Cup ever.

There are millions of sports fans across America and around the world with many different favorite teams, for many different reasons. Above are just a few of  my favorite teams.  For whatever reason or reasons a fan picks his or her favorite team or teams, I am sure your reasons are good. Let me know who your favorite teams are, and why?

emembered for his performance in the New York Jets’ stunning 16-7 upset of the heavily favored Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. However, during his 13-year tenure from 1965 through 1977 he was one of the game’s most exciting, proficient and publicized quarterbacks. – See more at: http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.aspx?PLAYER_ID=161#sthash.NypTzKoE.dpuf
best remembered for his performance in the New York Jets’ stunning 16-7 upset of the heavily favored Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. However, during his 13-year tenure from 1965 through 1977 he was one of the game’s most exciting, proficient and publicized quarterbacks. – See more at: http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.aspx?PLAYER_ID=161#sthash.vLWieEgE.dpuf
best remembered for his performance in the New York Jets’ stunning 16-7 upset of the heavily favored Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. However, during his 13-year tenure from 1965 through 1977 he was one of the game’s most exciting, proficient and publicized quarterbacks. – See more at: http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.aspx?PLAYER_ID=161#sthash.vLWieEgE.dpuf