All posts in "Support"

Use our schools. The Brits are kicking our tails.

Published a few months ago in Elsewhere , Pittsburgh , Schools , Support - 0 Comments

Macro and Micro views from around the globe

The sporting landscape in Pittsburgh, as well as the USA, is frail and full of missed opportunities. Communities often fumble on their offerings. A holistic design is seldom part of the mix. The problems with the media, with political leadership and self-interest, especially in the school administration sectors, are ripe.

Those in the UK, Australia, Canada and elsewhere, seem to get it while those in the United States fumble the vision of what sports can and should do for more people -- from participants, coaches, boosters, classroom-educators, fans, reporters, sponsors and politicians. 

The United Way of Western Pennsylvania is, as of the fall of 2019, making some efforts to consider sports as part of its day-to-day mission. Hooray! 

The strengths-based model has been adopted by Sport England's “use our school” initiative. It is “committed to helping people and communities across the country create sporting habits for life” within the facilities in schools. The UK schools have, by and large, only a fraction of the sporting facilities that are present in the typical schools in the United States. Meanwhile, the greater majority of schools in the UK do already use the school sports facilities for community sports. 

In Pittsburgh, the facilities are generally present, but modest in terms of being modern and functional. Few, if any, are inspirational. All of the facilities could use some upgrades of some types, especially in terms of being accessible from the sidewalks without needing to transverse throughout a maze of hallways to reach the sports venues. But the important message concerning the Pittsburgh Public Schools facilities is their closed status. The facilities are generally used for physical education classes in the school day and with school teams. However, for most afternoons, evenings, nights, weekends, holidays and summer-time hours -- these facilities are closed and locked to community programs. 

A use our schools initiative for Pittsburgh Public Schools sporting facilities would be a fantastic start for the United Way's efforts.

Pittsburgh's inventory of strengths and a strength-based model is also a welcomed as an early planning step.

The UN desires implementation partnerships for programs that lead to lifelong health and wellness, yet the UN's vice-president for Global Advocacy — World Vision, Mr. Charles Badenoch, stated, Unfortunately today there is a dearth of data on the effectiveness of partnerships. We need to learn from what works and what doesn’t work across all sector partnerships at all levels.

The Talent Plan in GBR sports

Drilling down on the personalities of the youth

This video talks about the different motivations and viewpoints from different kids. Frankly, the slogan that fits often is "Different strokes for different folks."

Why do some coaches and programs win so much

Published a few months ago in Support - 0 Comments

Why do some coaches win so often? Well, truth be told, some coaches are in the right places at the right times and have built or inherited (and sustained) supportive relationships within their greater realm of their communities. Of course, these are special people, but I'm more of the opinion that most coaches have special personalities.

To support my main point(s) above, look at the recent and first rankings of the NCAA football polling for entry into the national championship tournament. Baylor is undefeated and ranked 12th and another undefeated team, Univ of MN Gophers, are 18th. It is not what you have done, but who you are, sadly. And, these are programs in big-time conferences. Navy, Memphis, SMU, ha. That's for another day. Look to see what teams are 20-25. There is no harm in putting undefeated teams to the top 10. Sure, they'll play other games and everyone won't be undefeated for long. But 18th is a disgrace. And, it happens over and over. These early polls are a way to keep repression alive and justified.

If U of MN beats PSU this week, will it move up to top 5? Doubt it.

This makes a great case, given the long view, for coaches to job hop and climb the ladder by getting better and better positions.

But, it also makes great sense for coaches to really work on their relationship skills and capacity. Getting to the right places in the right times with superior relationship building skills and winning with the highest rankings are more of a guarantee.

This is one reason why swimming is so great, BTW. Great coaching and support matched with some excited kids can make a big splash and climb very high. We race the clock. We don't use rankings to suppress as much as other sports. But, swimming still has its hang-ups and ceilings in other, more subtle ways.

Three cheers for the great coaches and the great programs. They are an inspiration and their models, especially in terms of their relationship development, is worth the investigation, study and replication. Furthermore, I'm a super-fan for the underdogs, the upstarts, the one's who are bold enough to turn their green turf fields a blue color and build programs (and brands) that come from "nowhere" and make waves of change.

Struggle on!

Sometimes the greatest gift you can give another person is to simply include them.

Gift of inclusion!

Citiparks Championship Swim Meet should be open to a wider audience of city kids

Published a few months ago in Pittsburgh , Support - 0 Comments

The swim team at The Pittsburgh Project should be able to enter this swim meet too. We want in! We've asked for years. 

Perhaps with the new folks at City Hall, Kathryn and Ross, this can be changed. Perhaps, with the new energy for the recruitment and training of lifeguards, this can be put onto the table as a good will deed too. 

It will be a better meet with more participation and more energy.

Rich Kids’ Sports, …. Oh my …. counting water polo in the mix to get into Harvard

Published a few months ago in Elsewhere , Support - 0 Comments

The Atlantic, and an economic professor, begins to shape a message about rich kid's sports, and college admissions. 

At Harvard, nearly 1,200 undergraduates—or 20 percent of the student body— participate in intercollegiate athletics. That’s more student athletes than Ohio State University, whose total undergraduate enrollment of 46,000 is nearly seven times larger.

Swimming championships in the city. Swimming wasn't mentioned as a rich kids' sport in the article. 

Shady Side Academy won’t play a game of football in September — F for Foorfeit — due to lack of healthy players

Published 6 months ago in Elsewhere , Football , Support - 1 Comment

Solution: Water polo

Water polo is a physical game that can fill the desires of the athletes that wish for a play in a hard game.

We need more water polo in western Pennsylvania for many reasons. Fewer injuries. Fewer players. Both boys and girls get to play, either on the same co-ed team or else with different varsity and perhaps even JV teams. Plus, it helps to promote water safety and get kids ready for swimming season in the winter. 

The SSA football team had a 2-0 conference record, 3-1 overall. The squad and school have a proud tradition but it needs to forfeit an important conference game because it doesn't have enough healthy players. The problem in high school football is with the injuries, among other things.

Some have speculated that perhaps -- total rumor alert -- that grades might be an issue too. Who knows. 

Citing a lack of healthy players, Shady Side Academy notified Apollo-Ridge on Monday that it will forfeit this week’s football game.

Shady Side athletic director Gene Deal called the decision heartbreaking.

The Indians started the season with 23 names on the roster but finished last week’s game with only 14 healthy players, Deal said, a total that included a handful of freshmen.

The team is missing seven starters to injury, he added, and is particularly thin on the offensive and defensive lines.

“We’re worried about the kids we have,” Deal said. “We don’t want to put them in an unhealthy situation.”

The game was scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at Owens Field in Apollo.

“We were caught a little off guard,” Apollo-Ridge football coach John Skiba said, “but I know from watching (Shady Side) film, you could see different guys each week and it looked like they were getting thinner and thinner standing on the sideline. So it wasn’t a big surprise.”

The game would’ve been a key matchup in the Class 2A Allegheny Conference, where Shady Side Academy (3-1, 2-0) is second and Apollo-Ridge (4-1, 2-1) is third.

The night also is homecoming for Apollo-Ridge.

“I feel terrible for them,” Deal said. “I’m a big believer in, if you say you’re going to do it, you do it. I have the greatest respect for (the Apollo-Ridge) program and some of the great games we’ve had through the years. Believe me, we didn’t make this decision lightly.”

Apollo-Ridge won’t have a football game Friday but will hold all other homecoming festivities, the school announced on Twitter. Superintendent Matthew Curci said the school district considered postponing homecoming but the next two games are on the road.

“We feel badly about missing this opportunity,” said Curci, a former football player at the school. “We will still have our homecoming parade and community tailgate. The band will perform on the field at 7 p.m. and we will crown a queen and recognize the (homecoming) court. There will be no admission and the concession stands will be opened.”

Deal said football coach Chuck DiNardo was hopeful over the weekend that a few injured players might be ready in time. Shady Side had dressed around 18 players for most games this season.

“He said, ‘Give me until today to piece something together,’” said Deal, but they agreed Monday that the team wasn’t in position to play.

Shady Side isn’t the first WPIAL school to forfeit this season. Bishop Canevin forfeited to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in Week 4 because it didn’t have enough healthy players.

In Week 1, Northgate’s administration announced that it would forfeit to McGuffey to avoid injuries. However, once McGuffey scheduled Clairton to fill that open week, Northgate traveled to Norwalk, Ohio, and played St. Paul High School instead.

Deal was optimistic that Shady Side would return to the field next week but couldn’t make any guarantees. There are two players with ankle injuries that might return soon, but others could be out for a while.

“We’re hoping but I don’t know,” Deal said. “We’ll do what we can do to finish the season.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at or via Twitter .

Weekends are necessary for sporting success

Published last year in Pittsburgh , PPS , Schools , Support , Swimming - 0 Comments
NO on wall

Being fit, and being an athlete, requires weekend workouts. 

Kids and families want the weekend workouts. 

Hill District Rebels practice group

Age group football teams gather on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the year. This is a posting on Facebook in March calling for weekend practices -- and it is liked by more than 50 people.

Winter Tri Practices

Meanwhile, in the northern reaches of western Pennsylvania, at Slippery Rock University, the kid triathletes are working on their swimming, biking, running and transitions at a clinic on the weekends too!

Videos and images of an indoor Tri workout with work on transitions in the gym

Weekend Tri Practice at Slippery Rock University with the group from Joella.

The swim pool at Obama Academy sits empty on Saturdays and Sundays. No swimming allowed. No pool permit ever permitted by the schools principals.

Not at Pittsburgh Obama, however

Since the opening weeks of Pittsburgh Obama Academy, the principals prohibited Saturday practices for the various swimming programs. First it was Dr. Wayne Walters. Then it was Principal Colbert. Neither would sign-off on the necessary paperwork to allow for practices in the swimming pool. No pool permits were ever granted for varsity and middle school students who attended the school for any Saturdays. 

Total discrimination, for years. And, each year, the issues were raised.

Other schools have Saturday practices and even many have Saturday meets. Not at Obama. 

As a result of these roadblocks from the principals, the team often had to make other arrangements. Obama would hold practices at Arsenal Middle School. And, then the route was for the creation of the Saturday Swim School at other schools. Practices were shifted elsewhere, including Oliver High School and Allegheny Middle School

Go figure.

Frustrations hurt the students. In the 2017-18 season, the lack of permits for use of the swimming pool also was extended to AM Swim Practices, something that was done for the prior 10 years. 

Varsity squad on Saturday, January 13, 2013 at Arsenal Middle School because the Obama Principal would not grant access to the varsity swimmers at their own, home pool.

Varsity squad on Saturday, January 19, 2013 at Arsenal Middle School because the Obama Principal would not grant access to the varsity swimmers at their own, home pool.

Westinghouse wrestler knew to move out to Penn Hills

Published last year in Pittsburgh , PPS , Support - 0 Comments

Athlete who once attended Westinghouse High School moved out to Penn Hills and returned to Pittsburgh for the NCAA Division I championships in March, 2019. 

Wise of him to get out of Pittsburgh Public Schools because of sports. 

Click the button below to read the article in the P-G. 

Wrestling at OSU, formerly Westinghouse then Penn Hills

Wrestling at OSU, formerly Westinghouse then Penn Hills

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Snip from Post-Gazette

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