Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Santiago Pilgrimage Spawns Flowering of Literature: Hiking the Camino

We plan to cover "Pilgrimage" in our next Sports and Faith book.  We all know the term pilgrimage is a journey to a holy place made by people looking to find a more spiritual meaning in their lives. Those who go on the pilgrimage are pilgrims, seekers, trekkers, pellegrinos (ital.), or peregrinos (span.).  Pilgrimages were very popular in Christian circles for a long time.  In some ways, certain pilgrimage journeys have fallen out of favor. But in recent years, many Christians are adding them to their "bucket lists."  In the Christian world, there a pilgrimages to the Middle East, Rome, Lourdes, Fatima, Santiago and more.  Millions fly into to these places, but historically people walked to many and the journey was very important and meaningful.

The popular 2010 film, The Way, featured the resurgence of el Camino de Santiago de Compostello.  The Camino de Santiago is a pilgrimage that mostly runs through northern Spain to the burial place of St. James at the Cathedral in Santiago. An ancient pilgrimage that can begin in many different places.  One of the most popular tracts begins just across the French border in Saint Jean Pied de Port. The French route is 500 miles long and it takes people around a month of fairly difficult walking to make it. 

Pilgrimages like the Camino de Santiago, the Way of St. James, illustrate a theme that we present at  Sporting Chance Press.  Pilgrimages involve substantial physical assertions dedicated to God and illustrate just how we "pilgrims" can dedicate our mind, body and soul to our creator.  In our Sports and Faith series, the idea behind Patrick McCaskey's books is not simply to show how athletes can be faithful, but to illustrate a fanatical desire to dedicate all we do for Christ.  For many people in modern times, the physical has been left out of the equation.

The Camino de Santiago has also spawned a recent flowering of literature by a diverse group of pilgrims.  One that I was interested in is simply called Hiking the Camino by Franciscan Priest Father Dave Pivonka published by Servant Books an imprint of Franciscan Media. Father Dave Pivonka's book looks at his Pilgrimage journey from the eyes of a young priest at his 10th anniversary of his ordination. His story gives us "pellegrino"-wannabes a taste of the journey--sore feet and all--but it also gives readers a taste of the faith experience that Fr. Dave experienced along the Way.  It seems that everyone's Camino  experience is unique, but with some similarities.  The pilgrims that make the trek find crowded hostels, physical hardship no doubt, and a lack of privacy that most Americans would find challenging.

In Hiking the Camino, we follow Fr. Dave's passage from the start.  He makes a decision to go; receives permission; finds a fellow priest to accompany him; gets his equipment; begins his journey; and then suffers along the way and experiences many great things that will cause him to forever think of his life before the Camino and after the Camino. 

I have to say that I was well disposed to reading Fr. Dave's book as I am a big Camino fan.  It was great to read Fr. Dave's narrative in that it gave me a sense of not only what one might experience, but it also examined Fr. Dave's outlook, his sense of love and holiness. His book offered a good example for myself.  I will never go on the Camino de Santiago myself, but I will use parts of Fr. Dave's experience to model my own journey to Christ.

About Sporting Chance Press:

Our goal at Sporting Chance Press is to provide entertaining books that can give readers a lift in sports and in life. We publish books that give readers insight into the hero within each of us. When sport is at its best, there is a payoff constantly taking shape – a payoff "at work." We are improving—whether it is building self esteem, improving health, developing strong social skills, or learning the habit of achievement. There is a discipline needed in preparing for sports contests and life contests. Getting our bodies and minds in shape for the competition is critical. If we can approach sports training and life with enthusiasm, the contest is pure joy. If we can approach sport and life with passion and not pressure, we can achieve and release that fearless hero within. 
Lawrence Norris

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Knock Knock...Who is there?...Read..Read Who...Read my book.

Pillars of the NFL: Coaches Who Won Three or More Championships examines the football lives of the greatest coaches in the history of the NFL.  It's written by Patrick McCaskey, Senior Director of the Chicago Bears.  If you know Patrick, you know he is as enthusiastic about the Bears as he was when he joined the organization over 40 years ago when he graduated from Indiana University.  

One of the good things that happens when you are a football person and you work on a book like Pillars is that your appreciation of the men covered becomes ever greater and you also learn to value different approaches to the game.  

There are certain similarities between some of the coaches approach to the game. For example, Bill Belichick's serious, disciplined and well organized approach to team development is an awful lot like Paul Brown's. But you learn the differences as well. Brown was extremely well organized--so much so that he did not believe in long practices and lengthy nights for his coaches. I don't think Belichick agrees with that. And today there are many head coaches like Joe Gibbs whose assistant coaches work practically non-stop in extraordinary hours in preparation. 

Both Gibbs and Bill Walsh were said to be football geniuses.  Gibbs half time adjustments were famously productive and insightful. Walsh could make an apposing coach look silly, his game plans were so effective. But Gibbs was so confident in his management abilities that he started another sports career with his NASCAR team.  Walsh thought he quit the NFL too early and then he went back to coaching Stanford, but he worked a long time on a detailed football book called Finding the Winning Edge that can only be bought for hundreds of dollars today. 

George Halas like some other NFL founding fathers had to be concerned with the health of the league practically as much as their teams.  Only the Bears and the Cardinals survived since the first meeting at Ralph Hayes Hupmobile showroom in Canton, Ohio. Halas and Curly Lambeau had similar backgrounds in that they both were running their teams with survival as a premier objective and also actively being player-coaches the first decade of the league.  The differences though were many. 

I can go on and on, but you'll just have to buy yourself a copy of Pillars of the NFL for yourself.  Chances are  you will learn some things about some of the great coaches and maybe come to appreciate more the differences in approaches and how such varied approaches can work.