NFL FINALS: A PREVIEW BY JOHNNIE KALLAS AND STEVE KALLAS on September 18, 2021.
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by Anthony Sorbellini
(Pictured above, right)
Sports Multi-Media Journalist
With the recent implications from COVID-19, the NCAA has decided to cancel all remaining Winter tournaments as well as suspending Spring sports. Given the current state of college athletics, many fans are associating with basketball and football. But what about the college seniors whose careers were effectively cut short?
Student-athletes know they are playing with limited time. Unless they are being scouted by professional scouts, a majority of players know their time is up after their final game. With the abrupt halt of the season, many Seniors effectively played their final game before their regular season even ended.
Look at it from this perspective: if I’m a college Senior and I’m not getting looked at by scouts for the professional level, I have the entire season to learn how to cope with the season ending. These students didn’t have that chance. I have seen all over social media the heartfelt, sincere, and heart-breaking posts of student-athletes saying goodbye to the game they have known since they were children: “This isn’t the way I imagined it would end” and “I don’t know how to move on from the game I’ve known since I was in Little League.”
There is no Senior Day. These athletes won’t have the chance to be honored the way they should be. Part of the allure of being a Senior is to go out and enjoy being the “face” of the team. You’ve been there the longest, you know what it takes, you’ve been there. Everything was taken away from you.
There have been talks and reports coming in the recent hours that the NCAA is looking into giving another year of eligibility to the Spring sports. But who is to say that these students would return? While it’s a good idea in theory, you have to think it through. These student-athletes are preparing for their life outside of sports -- they’re prepping for their professional careers. If they secure a job pre-graduation or even a few weeks post, they most likely won’t return to play. Or if they do return to play, how will that play out?
To be an athlete for the NCAA, you must be enrolled in six credit hours. What are the returning students going to enroll in if they already received their degree? Do they enroll in a graduate program? There are many implications which the student athletes and NCAA have to look at for this to work out. It’s unfortunate that this had to happen, and my heart goes out to all the Seniors. With the rules and regulations that the NCAA has set forth, there seems to be no way for this to be a win-win turnout for anyone involved.
By Steve Kallas
Author's Note: This interview was initially conducted for publication in the Mount Vernon Post. Thus, the first question is focused on sports Mount Vernon.
Westchester County Post's Sports Editor, Steve Kallas, was able to speak with Rick Wolff, long time host of WFAN’s “Sports Edge” radio program (Sundays from 7:30 AM to 8:30 AM on 660 AM and 101.9 FM). The “Sports Edge” is the country’s longest running show focusing exclusively on the issues of kids in sports, ranging in age from youngsters just starting out through high school and into college.
Mr. Wolff, a Harvard graduate who played professional baseball in the Detroit Tigers organization and coached with the Cleveland Indians, grew up in Westchester County and graduated from Edgemont High School. For more, visit his website HERE. To find his podcast archive, click HERE.
STEVE KALLAS (SK): Rick, how familiar are you with Mount Vernon sports?
RICK WOLFF (RW): Anybody who follows sports seriously in this area knows about the legacy of Mount Vernon athletes. As a kid, I recall watching [now Yankees broadcaster] Ken Singleton hitting monster shots when he played American Legion baseball. And, of course, I always made it a point to watch the McCray brothers and all the other outstanding Mount Vernon basketball players at the County Center during playoff times.
Those were glorious times. But youth sports have changed dramatically. Parents today look at their five- or six-year olds and wonder if they have what it takes to become the next Ben Gordon or Gus Williams. To me, there are two key ingredients: the God-given talent and an irrepressible desire to succeed. You absolutely need both, whether you grow up in Mount Vernon or anywhere else.
SK: What do you think about specializing in just one sport at an early age?
RW: I’d like to think that most sports parents these days have gotten the message that specialization in one sport at an early age can lead to worries about repetitive use injuries (which derive from playing one sport all year long) to concerns about kids burning out. The best way to prevent these worries from occurring is to make sure that your young son/daughter tries and plays a variety of sports. Yes, they may gravitate to one sport as they get older in high school, but, starting out, they need to explore all kinds of sports and play them. It’s a myth to think that having your youngster focus on only one sport will somehow accelerate or boost their proficiency.
For example, in the 2019 NFL draft, more than 90 per cent of the first round draft picks played a variety of sports growing up. The great Lebron James was an All-State wide receiver in high school while, of course, playing basketball. In fact, most of today’s top athletes played a number of sports growing up as opposed to specializing in just one.
Even for individual sports like tennis, golf, swimming, gymnastics, and figure skating, it is always wise to build in plenty of breaks and vacations when your youngster can step away from those sports and just enjoy being a kid.
SK: What about the proliferation of travel teams, like AAU programs?
RW: No question that, if your son or daughter wants to pursue their potential in athletics, by the time they are 10 or 11, they will need to play for some type of travel program. Sports across America have become extremely competitive, and in order to get to the next level, they will need to start to hone their skills by facing better competition and, hopefully, receiving strong coaching. However, I do caution parents: travel programs, such as AAU basketball, do cost money. As a parent, you really need to do your homework to make sure that the travel program that your youngster plays for is well-run and has caring coaches.
Also, find out up front what kind of time and financial commitment your son or daughter is signing up for. You don’t want any surprises in the middle of the season. Find out what the cost is, how often the practices and games are, and, if the team travels to other cities, find out how often and what the expected cost is for hotels, food, gas, etc.
SK: What does “pack an extra parachute in life” mean?
RW: Grant Hill, now in the Basketball Hall of Fame, once told me that his parents told him “to always pack an extra parachute.” They meant that, while it was great for him to go out and pursue his dream in basketball, they also wanted him to have a back-up plan in life. That is, just in case his hoop dreams never got Grant beyond high school or college, or if he suffered a serious injury that cut his basketball career short, they wanted to make sure that he had other dreams to pursue in life.
In short, that was the “extra parachute.” It makes no difference what that other dream is: it could be teaching, doing computer programming, pursuing a career in medicine or nursing, whatever. Just make sure your son or daughter is not focusing on only one goal, that of playing in college or pro ball in any sport.
SK: Thanks for spending some time with us, Rick.
Rick Wolff is also a prolific author, especially on the subject of youth sports. His latest book, “Secrets of Sports Psychology Revealed: Proven Techniques to Elevate Your Performance,” is highly recommended.
Rick Wolff, prolific author and youth sports talk show host
Actually, quite a few people care. NFL players, for example.
Retired players whose friends died in slow and painful ways.
Boxers, ice hockey players (especially the fighters!), jockeys.
A documentary film was made about CTE in the NFL: League of Denial.
Parents of kids playing football, rugby, lacrosse, soccer are worried too.
Who else should be worried?
Domestic Violence Targets. Kids getting violently bullied.
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, has taken many lives
and will continue to do so until we decide to make it stop.
But are athletes and their families, teams and their fans,
and the NFL leadership ready to do what it takes?
Learn more about CTE HERE.
Well, it was. He's dead now.
(Find this graphic and more info HERE.)
CTE cannot be confirmed until the autopsy.
At this time, there are no ways to detect CTE in a live patient.
But there are symptoms, and we are learning more about what causes it. You don't need a major concussion to be at risk for CTE. A few "minor injuries" to the brain when you are young could start the CTE ball rolling.
Hear Steve Kallas discuss CTE on "Speaking of Sports" with host Janelle Allbritton, MPH, on WVOX below.
Westchester County Bowling Centers Promote Bowling, Fun, and College Scholarships for Youth
By Steve Kallas
It’s that time of year again! Winter leagues for youth and adults are starting at five bowling centers aroundWestchester County. There is still time for parents who would like their children to learn to bowl, get a little exercise, make new friends, and even earn money towards college tuition.
In addition, parents should learn about the SMART account, which allows children to accumulate scholarship monies through bowling participation (in some leagues) and opportunities in tournaments throughout Westchester County and the State of New York. The funds can be used by young bowlers as payment towards college tuition. It’s an amazing program that many people simply don’t know about (for more information on the SMART account, see the article below and visit Bowl.com).
See below for information about the five bowling centers in Westchester County that run youth bowling programs. Leagues for young bowlers are forming now, so be sure to check the starting dates and, IN ALL CASES, call your local lanes for the exact requirements for your child to join a league. Even if the“starting date” has passed, your child might still be able to join.
938 Saw Mill River Road
914-969-5592 • HomefieldBowl.com
Owned and operated by the Limekiller family, Homefield offers four Saturday morning programs for youth from as young as two or three up to the age of 20 (depending on the birthday for the older youth).
The “Tiny Tots” are ages 2-5 and bowl two games for $8 per week.
The other three divisions are:
• Bantams, ages 6-10 or 11; • Juniors, ages 10-13 or 14;• Seniors, ages 14-20 (bowlers who will be 20 in 2019 must check with their respective leagues to see if they are eligible).
Children with skill levels far above the average for their age group may be placed in the next older group.
These three divisions are $15 per week for three weekly games, and a SMART account is opened for every eligible bowler in these divisions.
Jo Limekiller has run the junior bowling program at Homefield for over 40 years. She and Tom Solomine of Bowlmor White Plains Bowl are truly the “deans of youth bowling” in Westchester County, with a combined 80 years of experience and dedication. Limekiller told the Westchester County Post: “We’ve been doing this for a long time. Part of the attraction, in addition to making friends and improving as bowlers, is that, at the end of the league year, all of the Bantams, Juniors and Seniors have a check deposited in their own SMART account to start them on their way to some savings for college monies to pay tuition.”
The Juniors and Seniors leagues will begin bowling on September 14, 2019 at 8:45 AM. You can still show up at that time and join the league. The Tiny Tots and Bantams leagues will begin bowling on September 21, 2019 at 8:45 AM. You can still show up at that time and join the league.
The Bantam, Junior and Senior leagues are all named Pagliaroli Scholarship Leagues in honor of David Pagliaroli, who was a junior bowler (and a member of the Westchester County Junior Bowlers Association), who passed away in 2000 at the too young age of 18. Indeed, every February, Joette Healy of Homefield runs a tournament in honor of David Pagliaroli where $6,000 in SMART scholarship money is awarded to youth bowlers.
Bowlmor White Plains
47 Tarrytown Road
White Plains, NY
914-948-2677 • Bowlmor.com
This youth program is run by the afore-mentioned Tom Solomine. The leagues are divided into different groups depending on ability. The cost is $18 per week for three weekly games and it runs from 9:30 AM - 12 PM every Saturday. The program begins on Saturday, September 7, 2019.
Tom Solomine also runs the Junior Bowling Tournaments (JBT) of Westchester County. There is one tournament a month for seven months. The first one will take place at Bowlmor White Plains at the end of September. At the conclusion of the seven JBT tournaments, the top five bowlers receive scholarship money into their SMART accounts. In addition, there are regional tournaments in March; the New York State Finals are held in May in Syracuse, NY, and also award SMART scholarship money.
790 Yonkers Avenue
Paradise runs their “College Bound Junior Bowler” League every Saturday at 9:30 AM. The cost for three weekly games is $20 a week ($5 if absent). The 6-8 year-old beginners bowl with bumpers; the two other groups are ages 9-12 and 13 and up. Children with skill levels far above the average for their age group may be placed in the next older group.
There is also a Thanksgiving Tournament and SMART scholarship money is available.
2192 Crompond Road
Cortlandt Manor, NY
914-737-4550 • CortlandtLanes.com
Junior League costs $12 a week for three weekly games and consists of two 15-week seasons. It begins at 9:30 AM on Saturday, September 14, 2019. A breakfast buffet helps to celebrate the trophy awards at the end. Cortlandt Lanes also has a Friday After School League and a Sunday Parent/Child League.
Jefferson Valley Lanes
3699 Hill Boulevard
Jefferson Valley, NY
914-245-7770 • www.JeffersonValleyLanes.com
The youth league, which starts at 10 AM on Saturdays beginning on September 7, 2019, is divided into two age groups. The 12 and under group bowls three weekly games for $11 per week. The 13 and over group bowls four weekly games for $12 per week. Jefferson Valley also has a Sunday Adult/Child league.
In this writer’s opinion, it’s best to show up for the first week if you want to get into a league, but if you can’t, try to join as soon as you can. Some websites have more information about this issue than others, so call the lanes for the most up-to-date information. The five bowling centers have much in common with their league activities, but there are variations among them to discover to make sure you are choosing the center that is the best fit.
Bowling is a great sport, a lot of fun and, as is discussed in the box (see also Bowl.com), can provide some scholarship money to college. It’s a great opportunity for many young children and teenagers.
Babe Ruth received only ONE award for Most Valuable Player in baseball. It seems inconceivable that he didn't receive more. He's BABE RUTH! So the question is, WHY?
The (SMART) Account:
Scholarship Management and Account Reporting for Tenpins
The “mission” of SMART is:
“In order to help youth bowlers achieve their educational goals and reach their full potential, we will provide effective and convenient access, safekeeping and prudent management of all scholarship funds until distributed to youth bowlers in compliance with all required regulations.”
The SMART account is basically an account set up for a youth bowler free of charge where various scholarship monies can be deposited into the account until a child goes to college. There are many specific rules and regulations (set forth in detail at Bowl.com). Basically, the short version is that you can bowl in some leagues and tournaments and accumulate monies towards college tuition.
At the time you want to use that SMART money, a check will be written directly to your child’s college (not to your child) in whatever amount has been accumulated over time. It should be noted that if your child never attends college, your child will not be able to access that money. The point of the program is to encourage everyone to attend higher education and help a little bit with the tuition.
For complete information, speak to your league representative if they provide SMART accounts (some do, some don’t) and go to Bowl.com for further details.
This is truly a wonderful opportunity for both you and your children.
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