Category Archives: Sports

Basketball and more — from childhood to adulthood

What in the World?

61fYLFYuXPL._AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-32,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_

What does sending a new book out into the world entail? A lot of hits and misses.  Comedy of errors. Insert favorite cliché.

It also involves marketing, which I am learning about at headache-inducing speed. But that’s apparently what we’re supposed to do while having a book on pre-order, and ahead of release date. Luckily, I find this new, enthralling dance fun. So far, anyway.

While going through the ‘to-do’ list ahead of release, I started with goodreads and updated my profile, as instructed.

Voila. So easy, I thought, let’s explore the site.

As I clicked away, there was a part about inviting folks to my page/book, so I clicked and it opened my gmail contacts. I clicked okay, and before I knew it an email was sent to everyone on my gmail contact list, with this message: “check out my book.”

Spam.

I hate spam.  So, if any of you were affected by this oversight, ignore and forgive me. I’m still learning the ropes.

Next on the ‘to-do’ list was a twitter chat.  If someone had articulated this term to me last year, I would’ve shaken my head at the weird word combinations.

Luckily, I have heard of twitter chats when we chatted our hearts away ahead of the blogging challenge. Thank God for blogging.

Fine, I replied. I will chat on twitter, if you want me to.

An hour later, another message:  Okay, you’re on for our twitter chat, Friday March 13th (why Fri. the 13th, of all days?) at 8:30 Central, 9:30 Eastern. Meaning 6:30 AM my time in CA.

Is there no end in sight to this strangeness, you ask?

No idea.  What I do know is that I have a hashtag for tomorrow’s twitter chat, which is #StrangerorFriend. If you happen to be at your computer, and feel like stopping by, come chat with me and my publisher on twitter. It’s something like a short, informal Q&A.

I’m afraid to look at the next item on my ‘to-do’ list.

Advertisements

Fun, Sun and Baseball

pic

At the ballpark with my son (in Dodger blue) and family members

With school almost out, vacation planned and anxiously awaited, a day at the ballpark, watching the L.A. Dodgers take on the San Louis Cardinals, seemed the best way to, shall we say, warm up for the beginning of summer.

I forgot how much fun going to a baseball game is. I grew up in Europe, with soccer, so it took me some time to understand and appreciate baseball — “America’s favorite pastime.” Even so, can’t say I watch it regularly.

But going to the game is different from watching a game. You can’t beat fun at the old ballpark.

So many different experiences — and some old standing traditions — one can enjoy, from watching the players throw balls to fans during warm up, to singing the national anthem with 30, 000 spectators, to watching the first ceremonial pitch thrown by a hand-picked personality — in our case, Cedric, The Entertainer — to hitting or chasing after a beach ball, to singing Take Me Out To The Ball Game, to cheering, to enjoying the famous ballpark hotdogs — in our case the Dodger dogs — and of course root, root, root for the Dodgers.

And that’s just one part of it. There are fireworks for evening games, giveaways, theme nights, and after the game, the kids (and their parents) can run the bases (go inside the stadium and experience a bit of the same feeling the players had experienced). And that’s exactly what we did.

At the end of the day, when I asked about everyone’s favorite part, the unanimous answer was, “Everything, because what’s more fun than summer and baseball?”

Well, I don’t know. But summer hasn’t even officially started yet, so I see more visits to the ballpark in our near future.

N is for Nadia Comaneci

I was seven years old in the summer of 1976, when Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci scored a perfect 10 (a first in modern Olympic gymnastics), and won the gold at the Montreal Olympics. 

Thirty-six years later, I still remember the day I sat in front of a TV in Bucharest, screaming Haide Nadia (Go Nadia).

In a country where gymnastics and soccer are the national sports, it was a moment of thrill and pride, and the beginning of every mother’s dream for her little girl to one day be like Nadia.

I grew up too tall and not gymnastically inclined. Even though I did my tumbling and twirling, my gymnastics phase ended faster than it began. But that didn’t matter. What counted was that we all got behind our Nadia, and loved her with every bit of our hearts.

Romanian champion Nadia Comaneci, aged 14, wawes on the women' s Olympic uneven bars event podium, 24 July 1976 in Montreal. Legendary gymnast, during her career Nadia Comaneci captured four Olympic gold medals and was the first to score 10 in her discipline. At left, silver medalis Rumanian Teodora Ungureano.

That might sound silly — this veneration of a star athlete. Not from our perspective. National pride was huge in the Romania I grew up in. We lived under a repressive system, a government that censored everything and dictated our lives while telling the world how happy we were.

What the government couldn’t take away was our sense of fellowship — a net of family and friends, insisting on enjoying and embracing one another.

When one of the twenty-three million family members tumbled her way into perfect Olympic glory, she made us all happy.

Years later, we got news of Nadia leaving the country. We listened to Radio Free Europe and Voice of America, anxiously awaiting word — did she get there okay? How was she doing?

Nadia went through her trials and tribulations, but eventually she was not only okay, she flourished. Married gymnast Bart Conner, had a child, and after the Revolution returned to teach gymnastic. A different person, but much the same.

Life changed for many of us, including myself. I no longer live in Romania, but I will forever claim Nadia as one of my own. My distant family member. My Olympic hero. 

I would love to hear from you. Do you have a favorite Olympic athlete or sport? One time you remember the most? What made it into a favorite moment?

—-

Photo credits: Nadia Comaneci,  turner.com/si/multimedia/photo_gallery, olympic.summer.moments/images; Nadia Comaneci, daylife.com/imageserve.

C is for Coaching

Ever coach a sport team, or observe a coach in action?

We watch sideline coaching on TV, but step into a gym (as I do every Thursday for my son’s basketball practice) and you’ll get a new appreciation for the volunteer coaches.

scan0020

Alas, Coach B is the best if you ask the kids.

Before the start of the season, with no gym available for practice, Coach B invited nine families to his house. It helped that he had a custom-made basketball court.

From day one, he made it a point to teach not only technique, but also discipline.

I love that about coaches and teachers. Not because I’m looking for them to discipline my kid, but all  great coaches and educators earn respect by proving themselves as leaders from day one. Right?

The kids are not allowed onto the court without their shirts tucked in, or late, and they had better follow instructions, or they sit out part of the game and run around the court several times.

He rewards them with enthusiastic clapping while jumping out of his seat for each basket or great play. He doesn’t just teach, he helps his students find their strength. 

And there’s a lot of patience involved.  Tricky to get a bunch of eight-year-old boys to listen, remember the strategy and follow instructions during the game. The coach does it with confidence.

Sure, they lose some games, but they gain poise, discipline and skill.

494px-All_sports_drawing.svg From a parent’s perspective, being part of a team with a coach who claps after every play, walks the sidelines to shout nuggets of strategy, or doles out high fives while insisting they can do anything they set their mind to, is a  success story.      

Whoever said volunteers are like gems nailed it.   Here’s to every teacher, coach, and volunteer in the world. May your hard work be recognized and rewarded!

Photo credit: Drawing representing a number of sports icons — photo by Angelo.romano, from Wikimedia Commons.