Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Big Vision Foundation Teaches Children About Life's Great Game

"What they learn on this field can help them in the business world, in their marriage, or with anything they do in life. Those players who do become successful, whether it's on the field, or in business, can come back and tell the stories of what they learned here. That makes it rewarding and worthwhile," Dan Clouser, President of the Big Vision Foundation, said.


Standing with Clouser, in the middle of a 118-acre Berks County Youth Recreation Facility (BCYRF) was a rewarding experience. We spoke after he managed the first game that was played at newly renovated Charlie Wagner Field on May 31, 2014.
Looming aside of us in left field was Leesport, Pennsylvania's replica of the 'Green Monster', the likes of which previously could only be found at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. The recently completed 30-foot-high structure (aptly dubbed the 'Mini-Monster') is the only other known partition of its kind in the baseball world.

Great baseball men

I've been consistently impressed by the sincerity of Clouser's words, combined with his generous actions, whenever I've met with him. The same was true on that day.
"A lot of hard work has paid off. We had a great turnout for the ceremony. It was great to see. Charlie Wagner's son was here.
"It's like reaching a pinnacle. But, it's also just the beginning of what we want to do.
"There used to be just a big hill out there (remnants of it can still be seen). Being that I'm a (Boston) Red Sox fan and that I knew Wagner personally, this particular part of our renovation is more near and dear to my heart.
"Charlie was a great, great man. To be able to honor him and his legacy with this wall and the fact that he was an employee of the Red Sox for 70 years, it's just amazing. It's hard to put into words," Clouser said.
The ever-dapper Wagner was born in 1912, pitched in the major leagues from 1938 through 1946, and lived until 2006. The lifelong Berks County resident served as a Red Sox scout for many decades after his professional playing and coaching careers ended.

Big Vision

The Big Vision Foundation was originally founded in 1989 as the Berkshire Red Sox Baseball Club. Ongoing success allowed the non-profit to evolve into a major community-minded organization. Their mission statement is clear, "The Big Vision Foundation strives to teach and develop the necessary skills in our youth in order to get them more involved in their communities, families, and with their peers."
Clouser, who authored 'The Beauty of a Diamond, Through the Eyes of a Coach', leads a passionate team that created a uniquely remarkable destination in this lush section of Southeastern Pennsylvania six years ago. The organization leases four baseball fields from the BCYRF, each of which are dedicated in honor of a Berks County resident who played major league baseball.
"I grew up reading about the guys who played. It's like the scene from 'Field of Dreams', baseball is that one constant in America. Everything else changes, but baseball relatively stays the same," Clouser said. 

Teaching baseball history

"We wanted to educate the kids that come here about people like Wagner, Whitey Kurowski, Vic Wertz, George Bradley, Rocky Colavito, Dick Gernert, and Randy Gumpert. It's important for us to let them know the rich history that the game of baseball has and that there is always a connection there," Clouser said.
Bradley's historical significance was forged when he threw the first-ever Major League Baseball no-hitter. The St. Louis Brown Stockings' right-hander, who also played third base and the outfield, defeated the Hartford Dark Blues 2-0 on July 15, 1876. 'Grin' went an astounding 45-19 that season. His 1.23 ERA, 0.887 WHIP, and 16 shutouts (still a single-season record) led the National League.

Vintage Festival

The Big Vision Foundation's summer season began with the Unique Pretzel City Classic that was held on May 31 and June 1. Included among its many scheduled events is the First Annual Berks Vintage Base Ball (phrase spelling is historically accurate) Festival, which will pay homage to Bradley's legacy on July 26, 2014.
Adult reenactors, using period uniforms, equipment, and rules will form vintage teams from the 1860s, 1870s and 1880s. They will play simultaneous games on the BCYRF fields, which will demonstrate how baseball evolved in the mid- to late-nineteenth century.

Learning valuable life lessons

"Baseball is a sport that does have an incredible history. It's also a reflection of life.
"We try to teach the kids that it's a game of failure and that they should learn from those failures. That's the way life is. The most successful people in the world failed many times before they succeeded," Clouser said.
Families and friends gathered on green fields. Children playing baseball under the cover of a brilliant blue sky. The inviting aroma of grilled hot dogs and hamburgers wafting my way.

Yes, it was a perfect setting for this story. But, I felt that scene wasn't an exception. Instead, it's a routinely shared community experience within that great space.

(I hold all copyrights to this article which originally appeared on Yahoo's platform in 2014. Photo credit: Dan Clouser.)


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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Philadelphia Flyers: What if Ed Snider hadn't taken a risk?

Ed Snider traveled to see a sporting event with a friend nearly 50 years ago. That New York Rangers hockey game made such a positive impression on him that he later took a business risk. In so doing, the Philadelphia Flyers were born.

Risk and reward

Rewards aren't guaranteed in business, or in life. Snider used his free will when he decided to invest in a National Hockey League expansion franchise in the late 1960s, with no guarantee of success. 
If his team would have flopped, it might have gone the way of the Cleveland Barons. A hardcore reference that has been noted for all hockey aficionado's. 

Brains and talent

As the Flyers built their 1970s reputation and won back-to-back Stanley Cups against the Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres, arenas around the League were filled to capacity along the way. Everyone wanted to see one of the world's greatest shows. 
Yes, the team hasn't won the Cup since then. But, it has gone to the last round six times since those fabled 1973-74 and 1974-75 seasons.

So, what if?

If Snider hadn't taken the risk, hockey may not have started in Philadelphia as soon as it did. Where's the evidence that any other person, who may have founded the franchise at any other point in time, would have made a go of it?

The sheer amount of media members that cover the team's home games indicate that there is more than a small, hardcore, contingent of Flyers fans in the region, as has been suggested over the years. It's likely a broader group, as evidenced by the amount of street and inline hockey programs that exploded in the 1980s and ice hockey programs that have been created at high schools across the surrounding region during the past two decades.

In other words, the base has grown since the fall of 1967.

Also, the Reading Royals wouldn't exist if it weren't for the Flyers. And that ECHL hockey team, located in a small town over an hour from Philadelphia, attracts almost four thousand fans per game.

Loyalty counts

Don't forget that Snider built the CoreStates Center in 1996 (now known as the Wells Fargo Center) with almost total private funding. All sports facilities could be built without making the public become a partner through forced, back door, taxation.

There is no sense of entitlement within the Flyers organization. They have earned their way through Snider's example. His straightforward business approach is simply this: Work hard, don't be afraid to spend money and try to win every single season.

Flyers' fans are smart and have always recognized that their team consistently tries to succeed. And with that, loyalty will continue to reign.

(I hold all copyrights to this article which originally appeared on Yahoo's platform in 2011. Photo credit: cdn1.vox-cdn.)


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Monday, January 12, 2015

An interview with the Invincible Vince Papale

(I hold all copyrights to this article which originally appeared on Yahoo's Voices platform in 2011. Photo credit: APB)

Family matters

Millions embraced the movie "Invincible" when it was released in 2006. That feature offered a snapshot of Vincent Francis Papale and his unlikely football career with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The passion in Papale's voice was most noticeable during the afternoon I spent with the Glenolden, Pennsylvania native. Not passion about himself, but about the people who have been and are significant in his life. He began by telling me about his own children.
"I'm really blessed. My life is my family. Everything is about them," Papale said.
He and his wife Janet have been married since 1993. They have two children, Gabriella and Vincent Joseph.
Gabriella, their daughter, is 17. She is an outgoing high school junior whose combined goals are to become a broadcast journalist and a Victoria Secret model. She is a cheerleader and works as a manager for the lacrosse team. Like her mother Janet, she is also a dancer.
"Gabriella is great with children. I support what she wants to do and also think that a tremendous profession for her would be as a school teacher. She is one of fifteen students who have been chosen at her high school to go to New Orleans later this year. They will be helping to rebuild homes in the areas that were affected by Katrina."
Vincent Joseph is Papale's 14-year-old son, whose dream is to follow in his father's footsteps and play in the National Football League.
"Vinny rules the world. His favorite player is Wes Welker of the New England Patriots. He's funny and has a lot of voices and characters, like Jim Carey. He's a gentle, kind, kid who participates in a program at school called 'Peer Leadership', which is an anti-bullying initiative."
Due to budget cuts, that program had been on the chopping block. Through the Papale's efforts and the involvement of Dick Vermeil, funds have been raised that will allow the program to continue for at least the next two years.

Cinder Block City

Life wasn't like a movie when Papale was growing up with his parents and an older sister. They lived in a housing project, in the Glendale section of Philadelphia, which he referred to as 'Cinder block city.'

"They built the place on a golf course and there was a creek that ran through our backyard. That is where I hung out when I was young."
Papale's mother, Almira Sage, was one of nine in her family. She was a professional baseball player in the 1930's, but don't think "A League of their Own." She barnstormed up and down the East Coast in a women's hardball league. She was also a diver, swimmer and a dancer. His mother wanted to be an Olympian, but the Great Depression, World War II and having to work to help her family, prevented that from happening.
Vince's father, Frank Papale, went by the nickname 'Kingie' and was also one of nine. Frank's mother died when he was born. His father, Vincenzo Papale, persevered through that hardship and through the discrimination that many Italian immigrants faced in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Vincenzo was a pig farmer, a cello player, a semi-pro football, a baseball player and a runner. He participated in the Penn Relays, as his namesake grandson would also come to do many years later.

Kingie and Almira

'Kingie' met his future wife, Almira, at a football game after getting into a fight with a player from the opposing team. That player turned out to be his future brother-in-law.
Like other men in the area, he provided for his family by working at a blue collar job on the Delaware River. He called Westinghouse his workplace home for 40 years. Because of the long hours his Dad spent at his job, young Vince caught passes that were thrown by his mother in their backyard.
The blending of prevalent athletic family genes and a strong free will, naturally made competitive sports a part of Papale's life.
"I knew I was good at sports from Day 1. Every July Fourth we raced at Glenolden Park. I would win all of the races for the 8 and under, 9 and under, 10 and under. People would bet on me. I ran barefoot and was known as Seabiscuit."
But, life wasn't all fun and games. One day in 1958, as Papale was coming home from school, he saw his mother being taken away in an ambulance. She was later diagnosed with Tinnitus, which is a ringing sensation in one, or both, ears. The condition permanently influenced her health and the life of her family.

A good coach makes a difference

Papale grew in size and experience during his teenage years. The roots of his nature were also forming through a number of positive influences, as many important coaches came into his life.
"One of the reasons I give, is because people gave of themselves to me," Papale said.
A lasting relationship was formed when Papale met George Corner, who was his first male teacher at Interboro Junior High School. An imposing man, Corner was also was the school's football and basketball coach. One day Corner passed by the lunch table where Papale was eating.
"I had been saying some unpleasant things about my mom and he told me that he didn't appreciate what he had heard."
Corner relayed to him that his own mother and sister had serious health issues when he was young. He told Papale that he understood how his mother's condition could affect his home life. He also told him that he would be there if he ever needed him.
"I leaned on him a lot and he took me under his wing."
Papale was 4 feet 5 inches tall and weighed only 75 pounds when he was in the seventh grade. By ninth grade, after he had grown to be 4 feet 11 inches tall and had gained another 20 pounds, he decided to try out for the football team.
"Coach Corner let me try out for the team and I made it. I also ran track and was a guard on the basketball team."

Marty Stern

His track coach, Marty Stern, became another mentor. Stern had just graduated from West Chester and like Papale was tough, despite his small stature.
"He was a little guy, who wasn't much bigger than me, but he could run like the wind. I had great speed, but he refined my style and made me feel really special."

New school - old coach

Papale initially faced a different atmosphere than he was use to when he first went to high school. The head football coach told him that he was too small to play on the team and so he didn't become a member of it. However, he did play basketball.

When he was a senior in high school an old mentor came back into his life, as coach Corner accepted a position as the head football and track coach.
"Coach Corner did the same thing that Dick Vermeil did for me years later, he broke the rules. Normally, first year seniors aren't allowed to come out for football, but I was. I wound up leading the team in receptions and touchdowns. I went on to become an honorable mention wide receiver as a 5 foot 7 inch, 160 pound player."
Papale broke his wrist shortly after Thanksgiving, 1963. Because of how bad it was shattered, he was told that he would never be able to use his hand again. But, he willed himself through to recovery.
Corner asked him to go out for track in the spring so that he could get into shape for the upcoming football season. Papale wanted to pole vault, but Corner said that he had promised his father that he wouldn't allow him to do that.
As a boy, Papale had practiced vaulting in his backyard using metal clothes line poles. Because they were so easily bent, he started using bamboo poles instead. Those poles, that were originally used in the middle of rugs, helped him vault up to 8 feet in the air before he landed on a makeshift bed of mattresses.
Papale has bamboo poles in his backyard these days as well. He will be using them to help his son practice vaulting.

The hairy eyeball

During his first track meet against Media, Papale's father unexpectedly appeared.
"I didn't know that he was going to be there. He came walking up in his Westinghouse blues and gave me the 'hairy eyeball' look, but didn't say anything."
Papale's father saw his son set the school pole vault record that day. He went on to win county, suburban and district championships. He also finished fifth in a state competition.
On Father's Day 1964, he went head-to-head against the best pole vaulters in the Tri-State area. Three of his competitors had been given scholarships to Villanova, LaSalle and St. Joe's. In dual meets he led off by winning the 440 meter relay and ran first and second in the high hurdles. He also won the long jump, the triple jump and the pole vault competitions.
Papale jumped 18 inches higher on that day than he ever had before. Four colleges offered him track scholarships before he left the field.

Onto college

By the time Papale was ready to go to college, he had grown to be 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighed 185 pounds. He was accepted into the West Chester state teacher's college. Walt Buechle was their freshman football coach and said that he would let Papale try out for the football team as a walk-on freshman.
Even though the school didn't have a football program, Papale decided to attend St. Joseph's University where he received a track scholarship. When he was a junior, he won the United States Track and Field Federation award at Madison Square Garden as a result of his14 foot 6 inch vault.
"Great coaches instill discipline, fundamentals and consistency. They are organized and fair. You know exactly where they stand," Papale said.
College coaches Rich Branton, Bob Cindico, Lou Nicastro and Kevin Quinn taught him that he could be a tough guy and a nice guy at the same time.
"My coaches were all school teachers. One of the big factors that is currently being lost in sports is the teaching element."


After graduating from St. Joe's with a Masters degree in Marketing and Management Science, Papale accepted a job as a track coach at a familiar location, Interboro High School.
During the spring of his first year as coach, Papale called for a weekend practice session to help his track team prepare for an upcoming meet. Because it was scheduled during the Easter holiday weekend, all senior team members chose to boycott practice. Papale decided that his runners needed to face consequences for their actions. So, he suspended them from participating in the upcoming meet.
"The first dual meet we were going to have, I was going to bend and let them back in, but I didn't. We lost that meet by one point."
One of the runners who did understand the value of discipline and sacrifice was Freddy Leopold. He had practiced and was going to participate in that dual meet.
"Freddy came from 50 yards behind in the mile relay. He got to the finish line and gave it everything he had, but was a yard behind the winner. Even without the seniors participating, if we had won that event, we would have won the meet."
Papale still has a photo of him holding Leopold in his arms after the race. The young runner pictured went on to serve his country as a medic in the military. He was killed after stepping on a land mine in Vietnam.
"To this day, I still get chills when I think about him in that race."

The NFL and Hollywood

Invincible became a movie because its subject, Papale, never stopped pursuing his dreams. In the 1970s, while teaching and coaching, he also played semi-professional football and was a member of the World Football League's Philadelphia Bell.

In 1976, Eagles coach Dick Vermeil announced open tryouts for the team. At 30, Papale became the oldest rookie to ever make the roster of an NFL team. The feat was all the more remarkable because he had not played college football.
He went on to be voted Special Teams Captain by his teammates. Due to his charity work, he was named Eagles Man of the Year in 1978. By 1979, a shoulder injury ended his gridiron glory.

Business career

After retiring from the NFL, Papale worked in the mortgage banking industry and became a sports broadcaster. He also won a battle with colorectal cancer in 2001.
The Disney movie Invincible and Papale's first book, Invincible - My Journey From Fan to Team Captain were both released in 2006.

Invincible Kids

"Everyone has their invincible moment."
Today, he is a sought after speaker who has also initiated an 'Invincible Kids' program. This effort allows him to give voice to the spirit of children around the country who have overcome great odds and serve as inspirational role models.

Board of directors

Papale has recently been voted onto the Board of Directors, Charity Division, for the NFL Alumni Association.

"One of our initiatives is to help players who haven't been as fortunate as I have been."

New playbook

Consistency is one of the principals that Papale lives his life by. It is also something that he speaks about in his forthcoming book, Papale's Playbook: You Can Be Invincible In Tough Times...Analyze, Adapt and Achieve, which is due to be released later this year.
Never believe that people who achieve and maintain success do so by chance. Individuals like Vince Papale are smart and have consistently worked to have earned all that they have accomplished.

How we respond to the 'Invincible Moments' in our lives defines who we are and who we can become.

Details about Papale's life, as well as all of the positive efforts that he is involved in can be found on his website: vincepapale.com. Currently, he is also a spokesperson for stopcoloncancernow.com.


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An interview with Blessed2Play sports talk show host Ron Meyer

"Like a feather in the wind, I was living a life that was not directed. I reflected on my own life and my battle with Myasthenia Gravis. It reminded me that I am blessed to perform athletically. All athletes are truly blessed2play." - Ron Meyer

Blessed2Play is a weekly sports talk show that is unlike any other. Founder and host Ron Meyer has interviewed famous athletes like All-Pro wide receiver Danny Abramowicz, World Series Champion Sal Bando, and Olympian Kirsten Holum.
Holum was a speed skater at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan. She later chose to leave competitive skating and become a Catholic nun. Sister Catherine Mary's faith is the common bond between Meyer's guests. Each has a sports connection and is also Catholic.
I've had the occasion at various stages of my writing career to interview those who interview others. I have found that these individuals are more than strong conversationalists, they also have a deep insight into human psychology.
The true quality of any conversation with another person can be somewhat measured as you are having it. But my interview was recorded. So, I had the opportunity to analyze our conversation as I prepared this feature during digital replays. While doing so, Ron Meyer's depth of intelligence and the sincerity in his character was even more fully recognized.

The Pitch

It took time for Meyer, now 44, to achieve the lasting personal and career success that he has. His life was not always as directed as it is now. Along his path, the idea for Blessed2Play developed.
"I always thought it would be a great opportunity to have a show like this. There wasn't a radio show interviewing Catholic athletes. So, I pitched the idea to Barbara Gaskell who is the General Manager at WILB in July, 2010. She liked it and we began developing the show later in the year," Meyer said.
Blessed2Play, which is produced by Dan Clark, is broadcast live Saturday's at 1130AM (with an encore Saturday at 930pm. A "Best Of" segment also airs Sunday at 1230pm) on WILB 1060 AM in Canton, Ohio. The show can also be accessed through the station website: www.livingbreadradio.com and through archived podcasts. Listeners can connect with the show by email: info@blessed2play.com.
"One of the things that I try to do is put myself in the seat of the listener. I try to draw out the story of the person I'm interviewing. During the first half of the show we talk about their career and in the second half we talk about their faith life."
"When athletes are interviewed, it's often about what they do, not who they are. Our talents don't define who we are, they define what we do. One of the outlets where the athletes get to talk about who they are is on my show. The best witness that we can give is about our faith and our life."

Formative Years

Meyer's father once set a New York state record by scoring 68 points in a high school basketball game. He credits that athletic example and his coaching with helping him to excel in sports at both the high school and college levels. After high school, he played baseball for a nationally ranked Junior College team and for the Manalapan Braves in the Jersey Shore semi-professional baseball league.
After moving to Florida, while working at a hotel resort on the beach, the bright lights of Hollywood shined on him. Meyer was approached about a casting call for a movie. He was intrigued, went to audition, and was chosen for a small part in a major motion picture. It was during the two weeks before shooting was set to begin that an unexpected development changed the course of his life.

Myasthenia Gravis - "Grave Weakness"

The following is an excerpt from "A Journey to Faith" that Meyer wrote for Catholic Men's Quarterly in 2006.
Shortly after receiving this inspiring news my life would hit the proverbial brick wall. Just days before my acting debut a friend recognized my right eye was drooping and made me take notice. I ran to the nearest mirror to confirm this anomaly. A visit to a local eye doctor was in order. The doctor conveyed he believed this to be more serious than an eye ailment and encouraged me to see a neurologist. My plans for motion picture stardom were now stymied and I decided to head back north to seek further medical opinions.
I entered Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY where doctors commenced a battery of tests. The tests confirmed the doctor's suspicions and I was diagnosed w/ Myasthenia Gravis (Grave Weakness in the vernacular) one of the forty muscular dystrophy diseases with severe implications that could change my life.
My world was rocked and overcome with fear and uncertainty. Myasthenia who? Doctors conveyed the condition would likely cause weakness in my limbs and at its' worse stage my breathing, which can result in death. On top of this harsh and frightful news the guys in the white coats disclosed there was no known cure for this disabling condition. During the next two months my conditioned worsened to the point where both eyelids became significantly weaker and drooped so badly it became hard to see. Ordinary activities such as driving, reading, playing sports, and communicating through my eyes became challenging and sometimes impossible.
Depression set in and the fear of the disease progressing further ruled my thoughts every waking moment. One Sunday, needing a peaceful refuge, I decided to visit the local Catholic church after not being there for many years. I walked in and proceeded to take my seat in the pews located on the side of the altar before the start of Mass, a perfect place for a skeptical young man that might have to dash out if need be. I followed the congregation as their bodily postures changed during the progression ofthe liturgy. I looked the part but didn't quite know the reasoning behind the sit and stands.
As the priest commenced the Eucharistic Prayer everyone dropped to their knees, eyes fixed toward the altar. I recalled from my days attending Mass in grammar school that before communion was the time everyone was conscientiously quiet and bells would ring from the altar boys shake. The priest went through the words of consecration and at the elevation of the Sacred Host; Our Lord infused in me a love and belief in his real presence contained but not trapped in the Eucharist. My droopy eyes gained full strength as the host was raised and the scales of unbelief were no longer.
Although my eyes returned to their weakened state after the Mass I recognized for the first time there is a God who loves me and is willing to guide me on a journey to him. These events repeated themselves during the following Sunday's liturgy. This was the start of my pursuit of God or better stated the hound of heaven was on my tail.
My condition was a struggle, although it never progressed as the doctors anticipated, I did feel its sobering effects. Finally, I was regulated on a medicine that alleviated most symptoms and allowed me to function without some of the disease's serious disabling applications. I was able, once again, to pursue my competitive athletic inclinations. (End of excerpt.)
(While the disease did continue to affect his eyes, it never spread to his limbs.)
"The doctors told me that the disease probably would go into my limbs, could eventually affect my breathing, and I could succumb to it. For one month, I was waiting for the inevitable to happen. So, I didn't go to church because of that. I went because it was a peaceful refuge. I would have given myself fully to that life and who knows how it would have turned out. When I chose the alternate path that I did, it led to a solid foundation."
At 21, Meyer moved to Arizona and was put on a medication that allowed him to maintain a fully functioning life and also to achieve significant athletic accomplishments.
He played baseball for two years while attending Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio and was the team MVP in 1993. He played in the US National Singles Championships and the US National Doubles Championships. He also played in the International US Open Racquetball Championships. He won two state divisional racquetball titles in West Virginia and two in Ohio. At the 2011 West Virginia State Racquetball Championships, he and his partner Gary Gross were crowned State Doubles champions.
Beyond sports, he also went on to earn both a Bachelors Degree in Communications from Franciscan University and an MBA from Point Park University, Pittsburgh in 2002.


Meyer was present at the 8th World Youth Day in Denver, 1993. He was inspired by a speaker who was a skier, swimmer, and a competitive kayaker. That man was Karol Wojtyla.
"There were a million people present and Pope John Paul II connected with each one of us. When he would talk, the crowd would hush. He was calling us to something greater and told us that we didn't have to sell out. Be not afraid."
While in Arizona, Meyer was affected by Mother Angelica's shows on the global television network she founded, EWTN. He eventually went to work for the network and has spent the last eleven years as their Mid-Atlantic Regional Marketing Manager.
Meyer is also married with three daughters. He referred to his wife Julie, his daughters Anna, Angelica (who was named after EWTN's founder), and Maria as his gifts from God.

More Than Statistics

"Sports is etched into the fabric of Catholicism throughout history. If you are an athlete, you are called to give your best. When you step onto the field you have to give your all. John Paul II (who was a competitive athlete himself) had the philosophy of self donation, giving oneself to whatever you do. This not only applies to sports, but to other areas of life as well."
"Athletes are under so much pressure today. Everyone says they are making so much money. But, there is also a lot of hardship. Often times reporters have the obligation to learn about the story behind the talent. It is something that the audience wants to absorb."
Meyer cited the ESPN show, Outside the Lines, as one that offers a positive example of how the full picture of an athlete is properly presented.

World Famous Guests

Guests on Blessed2Play have sports backgrounds that are as varied as their personal lives, but common threads are sewn between them all. Recent interviews have included those with:
Rich Donnelly, who was a major league baseball coach for 25 years. He tells a haunting story, called "The Chicken Runs At Midnight", that ties the battle his daughter lost to cancer with the 1997 Florida Marlins World Series victory clinching event.
NFL ALL-Pro wide receiver Danny Abramowicz. He discussed his career, how he overcame alcoholism, and how his current television show "Crossing the Goal", is one that men can connect with.
Three-time World Series Champion Sal Bando, who was captain of the A's and a conduit between legendary owner Charley Finley and his teammates. Father Burke Masters' Mississippi State Bulldog team was ranked number 2 in the United States. He went 6-6 in the Super Regionals game against Florida State. His performance included a grand slam, known as "the shot heard 'round Mississippi ", that vaulted his team into the College World Series. Sister Joan of Arc, a former Notre Dame Women's basketball player. Chris Godfrey, a Super Bowl Champion guard with the 1987 New York Giants.
"The common links between these individuals are faith and the pursuit of virtue. Life is filled with many quagmires. Some of the athletes I've interviewed have been on the other side of the fence. They found out that they were still unfulfilled even though they had money, fame, and glory. They were forced to redirect their lives. They were all searchers and seekers of truth."
Upcoming guests include: Antonio Soave, creator and host of the television show "Soccer Academy", who is also a former All-American high school and professional soccer player. Kerry Fraser, former NHL referee. Pat McCaskey, co-owner of the Chicago Bears. Father Kevin Lixey, who heads the Department of Church and Sport at the Vatican. Diane Holum, mother of the previously referenced Sister Catherine Mary (Kirsten Holum), who won a gold medal at the 1972 Olympics and also mentored Olympian Eric Heiden. Ryan Lefebvre, who is the play-by-play voice of the Kansas City Royals.

"There has been a steady stream of guests, because athletes want to talk about more than just their numbers. It is a blessing for them to play and for me to talk with them," Meyer concluded.

(I hold all copyrights to this article which originally appeared on Yahoo's Voices platform in 2011.)


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