Sunday, March 27, 2011

Lebron James Gives Again


Last year at Sporting Chance Press , we wrote about the LeBron James team selection "reveal" that was televised after the decision itself was discussed ad nauseam in the media. It was an odd bit of media hype over a move that would typically have been reported in the normal course of a radio or TV newscast. However, through ads and sponsor contributions, it was reported that LeBron raised an estimated $2.5 million from the event for Boys and Girls Clubs of America. This is a huge sum of money for any one-time charity event.

This year, LeBron James partnered with HP to donate 1,000 computers to Boys & Girls Clubs of America. In addition to this philanthropic action, working with help from Intel and HP, LeBron has also developed an animated web series called "The LeBrons." A kids program that will be compared to the "Cosby Kids," The LeBrons (image shows above) features four different characters: Kid LeBron, Athlete LeBron, Business LeBron and Wise LeBron. According to its basketball star creator, the series provides life lessons and inspiration that can help empower kids to become their best. The show is scheduled to debut on YouTube beginning April 4, 2011.

While many may again criticize LeBron for the ego that seems to be present in all his activities, others might suggest that he knows how to develop and grow a brand as well as anyone. In LeBron's case, his brand is his name and not some corporate name stenciled into computer hardware or software -- nor a cute Internet moniker. Thus, his extensive use of "LeBron" will open him up to more criticism that would likely not be leveled if he was a typical corporation pushing its brand.

Appreciating Walter Payton


Bears Senior Director Patrick McCaskey's latest book called Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and Devout was pubished in January by Sporting Chance Press. Included in McCaskey's book are people he has known who were superb athletes who led exemplary lives.

According to McCaskey, "Walter 'Sweetness' Payton was the Bears' first round draft choice in 1975. He was simply the best football player ever. He could run, block, catch, pass, punt, and kick. There was nothing in football he could not do. He missed one game in his entire career and trained with legendary discipline and intensity coming into each training camp in superb condition.

In 13 seasons, he scored 125 touchdowns and he accounted for a record 21,803 combined net yards. He gained 100 yards or more from scrimmage in 108 games. Eventually, as Payton's stature grew, numerous organization especially in the Chicago area set out to honor him. In McCaskey's role with the Bears, he was asked to introduce and honor Payton at many gatherings. McCaskey saw first-hand in many different settings the love fans expressed for Sweetness and his affection for them as well.

Who can quantify what Payton meant and still means to the city of Chicago, the Bears and football fans--and others. He continues to inspire by his character.

Chicago's Walter Payton College Preparatory High School honors his memory in a living way (school photo above). The school colors are the Chicago Bears orange and navy blue, and the school team name is the "Grizzlies."

Payton Prep is home to a World Language Lab, Distance Learning Lab, Computer Centers, 10 science labs, an Astronomy Lab/Planetarium, a Media Retrieval Center, Recital Hall, and 17 classrooms equipped for computer use to ensure that students have access to the newest technology available.

In 2010, Walter Payton College Prep won the top award at the Intel Schools of Distinction contest in Washington, D.C. The Star Innovator Award is presented to the school that best exemplifies innovative math and/or science programs. In January, Chinese President Hu Jintau stopped by Payton Prep where he was serenaded by the Schools "Sounds of Sweetness" vocal ensemble.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

J.D. Thorne Speaks about His Favorite Subject: The 10 Commandments of Baseball --A Real Gem for the Diamond


This spring, Sporting Chance Press author J. D. Thorne will begin another year of speaking engagements in his quest to educate and entertain the public on the "10 Commandments of Baseball." The Baseball Commandments, a simple list of baseball principles that were penned by legendary Cubs-Yankees-Red Sox Manager Joe McCarthy, quietly became the underlying rules of behavior for baseball for the last 90 years.

J.D.'s quest to cast attention on the origins and creator of the Baseball Commandments began a few years ago when he was asked to speak at the Positive Attitude Development class at the Duluth Federal Prison Camp for their February meeting. Looking for inspiration, he remembered a little keepsake card that reproduced the Commandments among his dad's effects. The Baseball Commandments are not religious in nature, but they certainly espouse good ethics and habits. Most people who have been involved with baseball will have a sense of these principles:

1. Nobody ever became a ballplayer by walking after a ball.
2. You will never become a .300 hitter unless you take the bat off your shoulder.
3. An outfielder who throws back of a runner is locking the barn after the horse is stolen.
4. Keep your head up and you may not have to keep it down.
5. When you start to slide, S-L-I-D-E. He who changes his mind may hav to change a good leg for a bad one.
6. Do not alibi on bad hops. Anyone can field the good ones.
7. Always run them out, you can never tell.
8. You will never become a .300 hitter unless you take the bat off your shoulder.
9. Do not find too much fault with the umpires. You cannot expect them to be as perfect as you are.
10. A pitcher who hasn’t control, hasn’t anything.

The experience of speaking on the Baseball Commandments inspired Thorne to write a book on the subject that we publish here at Sporting Chance Press called The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy’s Principles for Baseball (and Life).

From men's clubs at synagogues and steepled churches to public libraries -- from community service clubs to Universities -- from alumni associations to old time baseball clubs — Thorne continues his presentations that not only distill old baseball stories that illustrate the commandments, but gather in new ones from his audiences. The 10 Commandments of Baseball book can purchased from the Sporting Chance Press web site. J.D. Thorne can be contacted through his publisher, Larry Norris at lmj.norris@sportingchancepress.com .

The 10 Commandments of Baseball Sold at Burghardt Sporting Goods



Milwaukee area's Burghardt Sporting Goods in now selling Sporting Chance Press's The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy's Principles for Success in Baseball (and Life) in its store at 14660 W. Capitol Drive in Brookfield,Wisconsin. Burghardt is a family owned business that continues a sporting goods tradition that began in 1881. It seems especially fitting that Berghardt carries the book which was written by Milwaukee baseball aficionado and practicing labor attorney, J.D. Thorne.

The 10 Commandments of Baseball is an enjoyable mix of professional baseball stories and the author's affectionate retelling of his own amateur baseball experiences. Whether male or female, young or old, the reader is pulled into great baseball moments that make the baseball commandments come to life with compassion and humor. The focal point of the book is the classic, but little-known, 10 Commandments of Baseball, the baseball principles created by Major League baseball's most successful manager, Joe McCarthy.

As spring begins, the baseball principles are part and parcel of the best baseball coaches "curriculum." The Baseball Commandments promote things like run 'em out, never give up, take the bat off your shoulder, make the right play, respect authority and so much more--these principles are not only great for developing young players--they help develop character beyond the baseball diamond. The book is a fun read for all ages and a keepsake for those who love baseball.

Author, J. D. Thorne not only promotes the Commandments through his book, but he also speaks at many civic events/clubs, libraries, and other public venues about them. If interested in booking J.D. Thorne, he can be contacted through his publisher, Larry Norris at lmj.norris@sportingchancepress.com

Growing Number of Bookstores Carrying Sports and Faith Book


The list of bookstores that carry Patrick McCaskey's Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout continues to grow. The book can be purchased at:

Bishop Lane Retreat Center
7708 E. McGregor Road
Rockford, IL 61102

C & A Inspirations
313 N. Mattis Avenue, Suite 112
Champaign, IL 61802

Christian Shop Ltd.
(Pictured above)
325 East Dundee Road
Palatine, IL 60074

Church of Saint Mary’s
175 E. Illinois
Lake Forest, IL 60045

Holy Apostles Parish Bookstore
5211 Bull Valley Road
McHenry, IL 60050-7429

Little Way
50 Brink Street,
Crystal Lake, IL 60014

Love Christian Center
249 South Schuyler Avenue
Kankakee, IL 60901

Olivet Nazarene University Book Store
One University Avenue
Bourbonnais, IL 60914-2345

Lagron Miller
4517 N. Sterling
Peoria, IL 61615
[Country Cottage Kiosk LaSalle Mall –also supplied by Lagron-Miller]

Lake Forest Book Store
624 N. Western Ave.
Lake Forest, IL 60045

Saint Anne’s Gift Shop
15160 S. LaGrange Rd
Orland Park, IL 60462

St. Peter's Books & Gifts
110 W. Madison Street
Chicago, IL 60602-4102

The Book Stall At Chestnut Court
811 Elm Street
Winnetka, IL 60093

Sports and Faith is also available from the publisher's web site www.sportingchancepress.com.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Athletes, Owners and Saints Come Together in Sports and Faith



As appealing as sports are to a large part of our society, we know the stereotypes of the dumb jock live on. It gets worse as players move up in success. Professional athletes are often portrayed as selfish and pleasure seeking--and much worse. For every incident of bad behavior reported about an athlete no matter how true or false, thousands of reputations are tarnished.

Regardless of the bad news, we know that athletes are achievers. They train harder than the rest of us. They focus on goals and they punish themselves on a daily basis to reach those goals. Many have simple country upbringings and go on to face an incredibly complex and vexing urban social scene. In addition to many ruinous temptations, the athlete also faces career ending injuries that come as fast as a 90 mph fastball or a charging middle linebacker.

Several NFL franchises offer young players help in their spiritual growth to combat all the challenges and temptations. Players are not forced into it, but the franchises work with the players themselves to offer things like Christian Bible studies, chapel services and Mass. Often players believe that they have special God-given gifts that offer them great advantages in life, but ones they must hone and develop to honor the giver.

Owners encourage their athletes to help others as well. Many owners and players work tirelessly with charities and wonderful organizations that set out to improve the lot of those less fortunate. Often they go way beyond what we see at the latest celebrity golf tournament or celebrity dinner. Some do it very quietly.

Then there are the charities themselves and the saintly superstars who have made a difference in thousands of lives. When the owners, players and the charity superstars come together-- tremendous good can be done. Often these three forces come together in shared faith. The owners and players mostly help the charities attract contributions and the superstars help others with those resources. Athletes and owners also contribute their own funds.

Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout is Bears Senior Director Patrick McCaskey's story of the wonderful people he has known over his 36 years as part of the Bears family--people who show what it means to live "faith." Many of these people demonstrate that sports are not an impediment to a faithful life at all. They can go hand in hand.

The author has lived sports and faith, and shares that living with the rest of us in his book.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Top Talent Shines in Military Time



Years ago I attended many theater productions in Chicago when my cousin was making his way up the chain of theatrical roles that would eventual lead him to leads at top venues like the Goodman Theater. He would eventually be known for his great character roles especially that of Scrooge, which he played for many years. It was great fun watching the eclectic group of theater goers who faithfully showed up for each performance. The audience itself was a special community of theater-lovers who supported the art with passion.

I had that same feeling when I witnessed the enthusiastic skating fans who lined up last Saturday for "Military Time" Figure Skating Show at the West Meadows Ice Arena in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. The show featured Sporting Chance Press author, Nicolette House and her skating partner Aidas Reklys.

Military Time was not your average suburban crowd as a lot of European fashions and languages dominated. One thing they all had in common was their love of skating.

Regardless of your ethnicity, for fans of figure skating, "Military Time" was a special treat that should not go unnoticed. First, for those who love romantic skating dances, there was Aidas Reklys and Nicolette House, the ice-dancing couple who produced the show and played the romantic lead in the performance. Although Reklys-House are still young, they are old pros on the international skating scene and their routines were polished and evocative. The Military Time theme was reminiscent of the old movies from Hollywood’s golden era that tugged at the heart strings showing a young couple separated by war.

Presented by IceTalent Inc. (wwwicetalentinc.com), "Military Time" was the second show produced by Reklys-House in the Northwest suburbs and like their first show, "After Dark," that debuted last year, it enlisted crowd-pleaser “Jumpin Joe” Jozef Sabovcik. Veteran of many ice shows, Sabovcik is an acrobatic figure skater who gets “big air” with his jumps and draws some of the biggest applause at every venue he performs.

Pairs skater Rodney Brubaker and his new partner Mary Beth Marley performed beautifully. Brubaker, who hails from Algonquin, won two U. S. Championships with a former partner and has teamed up with Mary Beth Marley from Naperville as he begins another trek toward to the pinnacle of skating pairs. Several fans waited after the show with cameras in hand to have pictures taken with this pair.

One of the really wonderful things about the IceTalent presentations is the intimacy of the shows and the ability to rub shoulders with the stars afterward.

While the program was in progress, I saw a Hollywood “leading man” handsome skater running laps in a hallway in preparation for his performance. As he anonymously warmed up, I checked the program and found out that I was watching Ilia Kulik, Olympic Champion from Russia. For many fans, getting that close to Kulik is worth the price of admission. One of the young local skaters in the show jogged alongside Ilia who gave the boy a warm smile and pat on the back. That’s just not the same experience you will see at the larger venues.

A cast of local skaters including the Starlights, a precision skating team that is pure joy to watch, rounded out the program. Tickets ranged from $17 to $25, and judging from the big smiles in the lobby, great fun was had by all. Look for more local shows from Ice Talent that feature international talent up close and personal. IceTalent shows are great for young skaters and fans of all ages--a local treasure that should not go unnoticed.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Chicago Bears Patrick McCaskey Finds Fans in Kankakee


Chicago Bears Senior Director Patrick McCaskey signed copies of his new book, Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout, on Saturday March 5, 2011 at Love Christian Center. Located at 249 South Schuyler in Kankakee. Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout is published by Sporting Chance Press of Crystal Lake, Illinois.

McCaskey's book is a personal chronicle that introduces readers to sports figures whose exemplary lives inspire in many different ways. Customers came to buy the book and chat with the Bears Senior Director who is no stranger to Kankakee. The Bears training camp takes place each year at Olivet Nazarene University in nearby Bourbonnais.

Pictured are local football fans and readers at Love Christian Center with Mr. McCaskey.

House-Reklys Show Featuring Ilia Kulek March 12, 2011



Sporting Chance Press author Nicolette House is back skating with her ice dancing partner Aidas Reklys in a new ice show that also features Olympic Champion, Ilia Kulek and Olympic Medalist, "Jumpin Joe" Sabovcik. The new show, Military Time, the creation of House-Reklys, follows a soldier's journey as he joins up, heads out for training and then serves--all culminating in the casts' high energy "USO show." Military Time offers high quality figure skating entertainment that is appropriate for all ages.

Nicolette House is the author of Maddie Takes the Ice published by Sporting Chance Press. Maddie is a middle grade novel and an America's Battle of the Books selection for 2011.

Nicolette's new ice show, MILITARY TIME, will be performed on Saturday March 12, 2011 at 8 p.m. at the West Meadows Ice Arena, 3939 Winnetka Circle, Rolling Meadows, IL. Signed copies of Maddie Takes the Ice can be purchased at the Show.
For more information see Ice Talent.

Friday, March 4, 2011

McCaskey Book Signing: March 5 in Kankakee


Chicago Bears Senior Director Patrick McCaskey will be signing his new book, Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout, on Saturday March 5, 2011 from 1:00-4:00 p.m. at Love Christian Center. Located at 249 South Schuyler in Kankakee, Love Christian center offers a large assortment of Christian books, gifts, jewelry, Sunday school materials, music and much more. Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout is published by Sporting Chance Press of Crystal Lake, Illinois.

McCaskey's book is a personal chronicle that introduces readers to sports figures whose exemplary lives inspire in many different ways. From the quarterback Priest to the NFL owner who called the neighborhood kids into his house for prayers, here are some people we'd all like to know.