Monday, August 14, 2017

Sporting Chance Press Publishes Pilgrimage Book in Sports and Faith Series: Great Year to Cover Fatima and Other Holy Sites

At Sporting Chance Press we published a book called Pilgrimage; it is the third book in our Sports and Faith Series by Chicago Bear Vice President Patrick McCaskey. This year, pilgrimages have been especially important with the 100 year anniversary of 100th anniversary of the apparition of the Virgin Mary at Fatima. 

Locally, Bishop David Malloy is celebrating a Fatima Anniversary Mass on October 12 at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Rockford, Illinois, at 7 PM. At the Mass, the Bishop will offer the consecration and services of the priests of Rockford Diocese to Our Blessed Mother. 

Sporting Chance Press Pilgrimage book by Patrick McCaskey
Pilgrimage explores various Christian shrines and holy places popular with today’s trekkers and seekers. Awakened by modern fascination with places like the Way of Saint James, many athletes whose achievements are celebrated in this Sports and Faith book, have made pilgrimages part of their faith journey. The Holy Land, Rome, Lourdes, Fatima, Assisi, and several other places of interest and their origins are examined. 

Author Patrick McCaskey has peppered the book with his own poems and narratives on all things McCaskey. The popular author’s poems and his own literary and papal pilgrimages are here. McCaskey shares personal episodes that readers will find simple, insightful, and touching. Pilgrimage shares stories of exemplary athletes and others who are successful in sports and life. These writings are often the product of the author’s efforts on behalf of Sports Faith International, an initiative that honors devout athletes and coaches. In Pilgrimage, some of those featured have left sports for religious vocations—a college volleyball star, an Olympic Speed-skater, and a professional (female) football player! Add to these, stories on coaches, teams, and athletes of all shapes and sizes, including some who have struggled mightily with their sport and their calling.

Sports training as a metaphor for religious growth and is found throughout. Athletes train seriously for sustaining endurance, improving their skills, and maximizing performance. Many faithful Christians use such training to make a difference for the unfortunate, teaching young people, and working tirelessly for others. These efforts are featured. Pilgrimage includes some stories you may not expect: The story of Lou Gehrig, the great Christian gentleman of baseball. EWTN sensation, Bear Woznick, devout Catholic, radio and TV host who challenges people to abandon themselves to God, and live a life in pursuit of God’s will in the boldest, most rewarding way possible. Then there is Mark Philippi, a nationally recognized Strength and Conditioning Coach and Power-lifting champion. Another story features West Point graduate and army officer, April Ortenzo, who is following her family’s example of service and sacrifice to others.

Pilgrimage is a well-rounded offering that helps readers on their own faith journey through the examples of many others. Some readers may not be able to make a life-changing journey across continents and oceans, but this book can give readers some insights and enrichment. For those seeking adventure and travel in their future, here’s a personal introduction.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Willpower, Good Habits, Temptation, and The 10 Commandments of Baseball

In sports, we often talk about willpower. And willpower has certainly made a difference in many athletes careers as well as in most of us regular folks' lives.  An athlete who has willpower for workouts and practice, also needs it for studies. You can be a good athlete, but if you don't apply yourself in the classroom, you may flunk out of school and end up with a lot less options. On the other hand, a good athlete who applies his or her efforts in the classroom may end up with a scholarship or may be able to succeed in other ways.

But, if you are using willpower alone, you may find yourself running out of gas when the going gets tough. There are other lessons from life that can help.

Good Habits

Good habits ingrain actions that may have taken willpower in past, but now puts them on automatic pilot.  The person who thinks too much of the doing the things that need to be done and relies solely on willpower is going to have problems. Good habits lead you to act in positive ways without sweating it. 

If parents teach their children to be honest, the kids can take that with them through life. 

I remember working at a shopping mall as a teenager. A women bought something at our store, but left without her purse. One of the clerks saw it (he had learned good habits) and without hesitating he alerted the other employees that it was there. A teenager near by heard how the purse was left  (who had not developed good habits) and he came over to claim the purse--saying that his mother had left it and told him to come by and see if it was there. Another employee (who was inexperienced) turned it over to him and he promptly  headed for the exit. My brother who was also working at the store knew better and yelled at the boy to stop.  Within about 30 seconds several of us were chasing the boy down the mall--he finally dropped the purse and escaped. 

Avoid Temptation

In church circles, they tell you to avoid the temptation of sin to avoid every kind of evil. I say avoid the "nasty." You may have some forewarning in advance, so keep your head up on this one and save yourself from a lot of misery.  When taking that business trip avoid going out with the party crowd especially if the party can provoke other things.  A co-worker may be friendly and lively, a good person to sit with at dinner after a long day at a trade show or a meeting, but if you have this sense that it can turn into something else, excuse yourself from going to the dinner--you have something else to which you have to attend. 

When you face a situation that seems to drain you of willpower, experiments have shown that you may be likely to give in to something that comes along very soon after the first situation.  It reminds me of when  you deal with one of your kids who asks you for permission to do something so obviously stupid that you wear yourself out in the argument. But shortly after that argument, another request is made to do something you don't like, but it is less harmful and you give in.  You have to keep your head at all times.

I suspect that many parents talk about the "home rules" and get their kids to understand them before they get a bunch of requests that might wear them down. My mother used to tell us that "this is no flop house" that we were not going to come and go at all hours as we got older. On the other hand, our friends were free to come home with us at a reasonable hour and spend the night.  This was no small sacrifice on my mother's part as our house was tiny and it meant that there were often several young men often spending the night--sometimes on the dinning room floor and other times playing cards in the kitchen till all hours.  But all of us were safe and our friends regardless of their own situation at our home were always welcome at ours. 

If you use enough emotional tools it should help you prevail. There are many books today that talk about kids acquiring an emotional toolkit. 

There are also many good behaviors and habits that come out of faith based education and training. Of course, bad behavior can come out of faith when it is corrupted by people who misuse it.

Larry Norris is the Publisher of Sporting Chance Press. Readers of this post may like The 10 Commandments of Baseball. The 10 Commandments of Baseball discusses 10 great principles of legendary manager, Joe McCarthy, that have been taught in baseball settings for over 100 years. The book is also produced with great historical photos and many buyers have told us that it is a "keeper" and holds a permanent place in their library. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Great Thoughts from the Greatest of the NFL

We've published a book called Pillars of the NFL by Patrick McCaskey that covers the football lives of the top 10 coaches in NFL history. A study on the great men of the NFL is a worthwhile exercise. And the book is very interesting. These men were very different and yet they were all winners. The book is large, but it briefly covers each coach. It also includes illustrations by Bill Potter and some great historical photos.

Great ideas came and continue to come from NFL thought leaders. Here are five personal principles (paraphrased in some cases) culled from NFL legends that coaches/trainers should help instill in their “players.” These are general principles that should be of interest to people in every walk of life.
Illustration, Copyright Bill Potter

1. “Never go to bed a loser”—George “Papa Bear” Halas

George Halas's Chicago Bears became a premier sports enterprise and this little principle was his way to promote great effort every day.  Halas was a man’s man and he could be blunt. I like this quote because I am sure it comes honestly. I can’t see a speechwriter coming up with this one.

2. Treat everyone with kindness, but never let anyone mistake kindness for weakness—Art Rooney, Sr.

Rooney was a boxer, baseball player, and a sports promoter whose family continues to play a leading role in professional sports ownership along with many philanthropic causes. This reflects the reality and sometimes when people work with very successful men, they ask for things—not necessarily trying to take advantage of them, but just in course of business or even for charity. This was a saying for Rooney and his family to follow.

3. Love and respect all, but fear no one—Wellington Mara

Wellington Mara owned the New York Giants football team and he was one of the most advanced thinking owners. Mara also spent a lot of time on league business. Like George Halas, he was one of the men responsible for seeing the NFL survive as well as his team. Coming from New York, Mara had a lot of critics and at times he had to be very tough. He had to be fearless.

4. You don’t necessarily have to like your players, but as a leader you must love them—Vince Lombardi

School-teacher Lombardi was a legendary motivator who focused on basics and preparation. He was the toughest football coach of his time. His players were ready to hang him from the rafters in Green Bay, but then they started to win. The players learned that as tough as Lombardi could be, his purpose was to make them as good as they could be.  And he was accomplishing it.

5. Focus on your job—focus on what you do and do it right—Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick runs the tightest of organizations. He can often be heard in key situations telling a player, “just do your job.” Belichick has had some great results from players in his very special system. He can cut things down at times to very defined roles.  Some people don’t last in Belichick’s system, but other excel because they learn what is expected of them. And that makes all the difference in the world. 

Principles are often short and sweet, but have a deeper meaning for people as they consider their implications. 

Copyright Sporting Chance Press

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Pilgrimage Goes Round to Famous Sites

Our new book, Pilgrimage, looks mostly at traditional religious sites and provides information that readers will find useful and interesting.  Places like Lourdes, Fatima, Rome, the Holy Land, Mexico (Gaudalupe), Canterbury, and others are discussed. In Rome and the Holy Land, there are many churches built to celebrate certain events and people.
  • What was the history of the construction of St. Peter's?
  • What was the greatest church in Rome in the early days and who built it?
  • What miracle was performed at Tabgha and what church commemorates it?  

Saint Francis, Saint Claire, Saint Issac Jogues, Saint Giles, Saint Bernadette, Saint Thomas Becket  and many other saints are examined as the book goes round to the pilgrimages sites. 

And like other books in our Sports and Faith Series, the author, Patrick McCaskey, looks at top athletes who lead exemplary lives.  Many of these athletes have identified pilgrimages that have inspired them to action. There are three Religious Sisters featured: Volleyball player, Sister Miriam James Heidland; professional football player, Sister Rita Clare Yoches; and Olympic Speed Skater, Sister Catherine Mary. The author creative writing and poems are scattered throughout along with a chapter on his literary pilgrimages that features his favorite writers.  

One More Time for Lawrence Norris on the Skinny and Houli Radio Show  in Chicago

I wanted to re-post information on my appearance on the Skinny and Houli Radio Show in case the link goes dry. 

Mike Houlihan's booming voice shook the rafters as we began the show the Skinny and Houli Radio Show  in Chicago.  Houli and Skinny were the consummates hosts and encouraging as things went along. 

Listen to the Podcast

Great Book 
I was having a media event for The Brown and White, my fictionalized memoir of my freshman high school days.  The story takes place in 1967-1968 during the Vietnam War, Chicago's historic neighborhood changes, the changes in the Catholic Church from Vatican II, and the assassination of Martin Luther King.  It was a time of turmoil. Yet, the theme of the book is one of growth that I hope in a funny kind of human way pays homage to my family, my teachers, and friends. The book brings back a lot of memories for readers who will no doubt think of their own experiences as they read it.

It was a great experience to be on the Skinny and Houli Show.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Chicago Catholic Article of The Brown and White

New article in Chicago Catholic--my interview about

Click Here


Forty plus years in the making, The Brown and White is a fictionalized memoir that tells the story of Collin Callaghan's freshman year at a Chicago Catholic High School. Collin is a white boy who is living in turbulent times in a changing city. He clings to his neighborhood and his family as he heads out each day with his classmates on the Brown and White, the ancient school bus driven by free-spirited Willie. Memorable characters abound as this story unfolds. Collin's lovable family, especially his Irish Catholic policeman father and his Irish immigrant mother face life together. Collin and classmates blaze their own humorous and passionate trail through the late 1960s. A unique cast of terrific teachers are there to see the boys through. Laughs and life meet readers head on as they travel on the Brown and White.

Lawrence Norris is the author of The Brown and White, a fictionalized memoir of Chicago Catholic high school days that takes place during the late 1960s. See story in the Chicago Catholic. Skinny and Houli Radio Show Podcast with Norris--begins after the first Skinny and Houli dialogue.