Sadness has gripped the sports world, and beyond, following the death of legendary women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt. Tributes have and continue to pour in from those who knew Summitt, played for her and admired her. I did not know Pat Summitt personally, but she nevertheless had a meaningful impact on my life. To begin, I began watching women’s college basketball because of Summitt. I recall randomly coming across a women’s game on television some years ago and being struck by the strong, determined and passionate coach on the University of Tennessee sideline. I didn’t know who she was, but I could tell I was witnessing something different. There was an aura about her; a confident air that was at once impressive and appealing. From that day, I began to follow and root for Summitt and the Lady Vols. In time, Summitt’s significance for me extended beyond the hardwood and spoke to me on a much deeper level. As I learned more about her career and accomplishments, and watched her teams consistently compete for, and often win, national championships, Summitt’s unparalleled body of work became an inspiration. Here was this woman, competing in a space not created for […]
On February 19, 2016, Focus Features released the motion picture Race, a biographical film about Jesse Owens, who won a record-breaking four gold medals in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. Owens was a childhood idol and later a close friend of Herbert P. Douglas, Jr., who, himself is an Olympic medalist and former corporate executive. Born on March 9, 1922 in Pittsburgh, PA, Herb starred in high school in gymnastics, basketball, football and track & field. Later, he attended the University of Pittsburgh, where he captured three AAU and five intercollegiate championships and set a Pitt long jump record that lasted for 23 years. At the 1948 London Olympics, Herb won a bronze medal in the long jump, becoming the first Pittsburgh native to capture an Olympic medal. After graduating from Pitt with a master’s degree in education, Herb began a career in corporate America working first for Pabst Brewing Company, and later Schieffelin & Co., distributors of Hennessy Cognac and Moet & Chandon Champagne. While at Schieffelin, Herb founded the International Amateur Athletic Association, Inc. and created the Jesse Owens International Trophy Award and the Jesse Owens Global Award for Peace in honor of his hero. Recipients of […]
(Photo Credit: USA Today) Becky Hammon is one of the most decorated players in the history of women’s basketball. Born in Rapid City, South Dakota, she played basketball at Stevens High School, where as a senior she averaged 26 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists per game on her way to being named South Dakota Player of the Year. Hammon went on to play college ball at Colorado State and distinguished herself as one of the nation’s top scorers. In the 1998-99 season she led the Rams to a 33-3 record and an appearance in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen. That season she was also an All-American and was named WAC Mountain Division Player of the Year, as well as Colorado Sportswoman of the Year. During that season she also surpassed Keith Van Horn as the WAC’s all-time leading scorer. For her career at Colorado State she set University records in points, points per game, field goals, free throws and three pointers made, and assists. Despite her collegiate accomplishments, Hammon went undrafted in the WNBA draft, and subsequently signed with the New York Liberty as a free agent in 1999. She starred for the Liberty through the 2006 season before being […]
He never threw a pitch. He never stole a base. He didn’t hit a single homerun. Yet, Dr. Frank Jobe left a mark on Major League Baseball that will never be erased. In 1974, Dr. Jobe became the first to perform an elbow procedure that has become famously known as “Tommy John surgery.” The procedure, which involves grafting a tendon from the forearm into the elbow to replace a ruptured ligament, has saved the careers of hundreds of Major League players and has allowed scores of other athletes to continue competing on the field of play. The procedure was first performed on pitcher Tommy John, who at the time was a 12-year Major League veteran. Following the groundbreaking surgery, John went on to pitch another 14 more seasons, including three seasons in which he won 20 games – all without ever missing a single day due to a problem with his surgically repaired elbow. Without the surgery, John’s career would have ended in 1974; instead, he retired from the game in 1989 at the age of 46, having won 288 Major League games (including 164 games after the surgery). Tommy John surgery has now become a common procedure that has […]
Eusebio da Silva Ferreira stands as the most famous name in Portuguese football (soccer) history. Born in Mozambique, Eusebio was the first world-class striker from the African continent. Known as the “Black Panther,” Eusebio scored more than a goal per game in Portuguese league matches (an incredible 320 goals in 313 matches). As remarkable as that may be, perhaps his greatest work was revealed at football’s premier event, the World Cup. In fact, during the qualifying rounds for the 1966 World Cup, Eusebio scored seven goals. He then went on to top that tremendous achievement by scoring an unprecedented nine goals in six World Cup matches in leading Portugal to a third-place finish. To this day his performance stands as the greatest feat ever in World Cup play. In January 2014, Eusebio passed away at the age 71. Although he is no longer with us, Eusebio yet remains the most celebrated name in the history of Portuguese football.
Althea Gibson August 25, 1927-September 28, 2003 In 1950, Althea Gibson became the first athlete to break the color barrier in international tennis. Six years later she won the French Open championship, becoming the first person of color to win a Grand Slam title. In 1957, Gibson won both Wimbledon and the U.S. Nationals (the precursor to the U.S. Open), a feat she repeated in 1958. She was the number-one-ranked female player in the world and in the United States in both 1957 and 1958, and was named Female Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press in both years. For her career she won 56 national and international titles, including 11 Grand Slam titles. During this era, however, tennis was an amateur sport, so any income she earned was largely limited to expense allowances. Following her U.S. Nationals victory in 1958, Gibson turned pro, but there were few tournaments and prizes for women, and even fewer invitations for Gibson to compete. A few years after turning pro, Gibson retired from tennis. Following her retirement Gibson, who was an accomplished jazz singer, saxophonist and actress, recorded an album and appeared with John Wayne in the movie Horse Soldiers. In the […]