2012 November

World-record Speedskater and WNBA Finals MVP Voted October’s Athletes of the Month

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J.R. Celski, the world’s fastest speedskater ever in the 500-meter race, and Tamika Catchings, the WNBA Finals Most Valuable Player for the Indiana Fever, were chosen as the United States Sports Academy’s October Athletes of the Month.

J.R. Celski

Celski and Catchings are now candidates for the Academy’s male and female 2012 Athlete of the Year Award. For the 28th consecutive year, the Academy will oversee the worldwide online voting that runs this year for three weeks from Dec. 1-21. The winners of this prestigious award, which has been done in conjunction with NBC Sports and USA Today, is slated to be announced Dec. 25, Christmas Day.

In 2011, the male Athlete of the Year was No. 1-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic of Serbia and the female Athlete of the Year was No. 1-ranked golfer Yani Tseng of Taiwan. Both of them dominated 2011’s ballot that drew as many as 50,000 votes a day from across the world.

The 22-year-old Celski did what has never been done before. The American became the first and only short-track speedskater to break the 40-second barrier in the 500 meters. Celski set a world record of 39.973 seconds in a World Cup final in Calgary. His skate broke the record of 40.344 set by Russian Vladimir Grigorev in the preliminaries of the event. Celski also finished third in the 1000-meter finals.

Meanwhile, Catchings led Indiana to its first ever championship. The 33-year-old forward won the MVP for leading her team over the defending champion Minnesota Lynx. In Game 4 of the five-game series, the Fever were crowned the new champions as Catchings scored a game-high 25 points. The 12-year veteran added eight assists, grabbed four rebounds and made three blocks in the deciding game. In the playoffs, Catchings averaged 19.0 points, which is the highest of any WNBA player who has played in five or more postseason games.

Tamika Catchings

Finishing second in the men’s category was New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who threw a touchdown pass in his 48th consecutive game Sunday, Oct. 7, breaking the record set by Johnny Unitas, who held it for 52 years. Brees, whose streak has continued, threw a 40-yard first quarter TD strike to Devery Henderson for the record. Brees’ streak dates to 2009. Unitas’ streak ran from 1956 to 1960.

The runner-up to Catchings on the women’s ballot was Suzann Pettersen, an LPGA Tour player who won back-to-back tournaments in October. The Norwegian golfer captured the HanaBank Championship when she sank a 5-foot putt on the third playoff hole and then rallied to win the Taiwan Championship by three strokes. Pettersen finished with an 11-under 205 and a 19-under 269, respectively. She now has 10 LPGA Tour titles in her career.

Third place winners for October were Miguel Cabrera, the Detroit Tigers third baseman who became the first major league player since 1967 to win the Triple Crown, leading the majors in in average (.330), home runs (44) and RBIs (139); and Serena Williams, who dismissed Maria Sharapova 6-4, 6-3, in Istanbul, Turkey, to finish the tennis season by capturing the WTA Championships.

The public is invited to participate in the worldwide Athlete of the Month nomination and ballot voting processes. Visit the Academy website at www.ussa.edu to submit your nominations each month, and then return to the website during the first two weeks of each month to vote for the male and female Athletes of the Month. The votes along with an Academy committee choose the winners who become candidates for the Athlete of the Year. The monthly and yearly winners are announced on the Academy’s website and in the sports university’s online edition of The Sport Update.

The United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, accredited, special mission sports university created to serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research, and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports. For more information about the Academy, call 251-626-3303 or visit www.ussa.edu.

Academy’s Alumnus of the Year Starts New Sports Technology Service Sparked from Doctoral Class

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The idea for inventor, innovator and business developer Dr. Mark Janas’ latest technology company evolved from a paper written for one of his United States Sports Academy doctoral classes.

Dr. Mark Janas (right) receives the 2013 Alumnus of the Year Award from Robert Campbell III, the Academy's Board of Trustees chairman.

That company, ScoreTRAX, is an SMS subscription service that allows sports fans to stay up-to-date with scores and news from their favorite youth, high school, college, amateur and professional teams. As part of the service, the company provides fundraising tools and other value-added features for teams and schools, as well as effective, targeted SMS advertising for companies of all types.

To date, ScoreTRAX has sent out more than 1 million score updates from teams across the country. In August, the company launched a new program to engage coaches, athletic directors, and other sports professionals throughout the country to become regional content directors in their own individual businesses.

Janas created ScoreTRAX while earning his Doctor of Education in Sport Management with a Sports Medicine emphasis in 2011 from the United States Sports Academy in less than two years. Most full-time students complete the 66-hour doctoral program in about three years.

For his entrepreneurial spirit and ability to build new sports, medical and educational technology companies, Janas is the Academy’s 2012 Alumnus of the Year.

“I already had an MBA, which was a great asset in my work in healthcare and healthcare technology management, but I found working in minor league sports that many business people, including me, were often not well-trained specifically in the business of sport,” Janas says. “I really wanted to find a good solid curriculum that was totally sports-specific, and the Academy fit the need perfectly. I’m grateful for the education I received and the new business ideas spawned by my work at the Academy.”

In additional to developing ScoreTRAX and frequently contributing to the Academy’s blog, The Sport Digest, Janas oversees several businesses as the managing partner of In3, Inc. (www.in3development.com), a portfolio company with initiatives involving medical communication systems, e-learning management systems, RFP management systems and TouchMedMobile. Besides In3′s technology companies, Janas also oversees two minor league North Carolina basketball teams—the Cary Invasion and the Wilmington Sea Dawgs.

Janas plans to use his knowledge gained at the Academy and from his dissertation, “Making the Case for Sports Medicine Informatics,” to build specialized functions in TouchMedMobile for physicians who provide sports medicine services as part of outreach programs. TouchMedMobile is an iPhone or iPad application that integrates with third-party electronic health records.

“I’m continually looking at ways to turn ideas into business initiatives,” Janas says. “I’m honored to earn the Alumnus of the Year award and I will do all I can to live up to this award by making a mark on the sports industry and by representing the Academy the best way possible.”

Armstrong Mea Culpa Rings a Bit Hollow

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Lance Armstrong has long been a polarizing figure in the world of sport. Fans have celebrated his ability to beat cancer in the mid-1990s and then go on to dominate the sport of cycling by winning seven straight Tour de France titles between 1999 and 2005. Critics have long argued that Armstrong won while orchestrating the most sophisticated doping program ever seen in the world of sport.

During the past 15 years Armstrong repeatedly lashed out at anyone who accused him of using illegal performance enhancing substances. He used a team of publicists and attorneys to threaten and bully people. There are reports that the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the organization that oversees professional cycling, actually participated in a conspiracy with Armstrong to cover up suspicious drug tests and help him avoid random tests. This was allegedly done to protect the most valuable asset in the sport. UCI has recently set up an independent group to investigate these allegations.

Armstrong was successful for years in fending off attacks on his performances. Things changed in October 2012 when the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) released a 1,000-page report filled with evidence it had collected against Armstrong over the past decade. Included were affidavits by over 25 individuals who would have had personal knowledge of Armstrong’s activities, as well as details about suspicious drug samples. The evidence presented was seen as overwhelming.

Oprah Winfrey interviews American cyclist Lance Armstrong about his doping scandal.USADA scheduled a hearing on whether to impose sanctions against Armstrong. He chose for the first time not to fight allegations against him and waived his right to a hearing. USADA then rendered what amounted to a default judgment. It stripped Armstrong of his Tour wins and imposed a lifetime competition ban on competition. The World Doping Agency (WADA) subsequently agreed with USADA’s actions.

In November, Armstrong secretly met with Travis Tygart, CEO of USADA, in an effort to reach an agreement on what he had to do to have his lifetime ban (which can be lifted after eight years) shortened as much as possible so that he can compete in triathlons. That meeting reportedly went poorly.

It was only at this point that Armstrong began to consider a confession that he had indeed been guilty of doping. After a month of discussion with his advisers, Armstrong decided to “come clean” in an interview with Oprah Winfrey to air on her OWN cable network. Cynics suggested that Winfrey was selected because she would not ask difficult questions.

The interview took place in a hotel in Armstrong’s hometown of Austin, Texas. It was scheduled to air over two nights beginning January 17. The interview and its public perception represent a huge gamble on Armstrong’s part. While Armstrong did admit in the interview to having been doping during all seven of his Tour wins, he did not provide details. He also would not implicate others except to agree with Winfrey when she asked if most competitors were doping during that period of time.

Armstrong’s net worth is currently estimated at some $125 million. He has, however, lost almost all of his commercial endorsements. He has been forced to sever ties to the non-profit agency, Livestrong, he established to raise money for cancer research. He is looking at tens of millions of dollars in lost income over the next decade.

Many believe that he had no choice but to confess in an effort to salvage his image and to eventually rehabilitate himself in the public eye to the point where he would be marketable again. He is, however, engaging in a balancing act with significant risks.

Several years ago Armstrong sued The Times of London newspaper over stories it ran in 2004 in which its reporter accused Armstrong of doping. The lawsuit was settled for a reported $1 million. The Times has demanded that Armstrong make his confession under oath and has hinted that it may sue to get its money back alleging fraud. Under British law the paper would also be able to ask for punitive damages.

Floyd Landis was a former teammate of Armstrong. Landis won the Tour de France in 2006 and subsequently had his title stripped because he was found to have engaged in doping, charges to which he admitted. Landis has filed a whistle blower lawsuit under federal law against Armstrong alleging that Armstrong defrauded the U.S. Postal Service of some $40 million in expenses it paid to Armstrong and teammates when it sponsored a team on the international cycling circuit. If Landis prevails, under the law damages would be trebled.

Other entities have indicated that they might also take legal action against Armstrong for monies paid out under false pretenses. It is at least possible that Armstrong could wind up being bankrupted by the various legal actions. The U.S. Justice Department ended its lengthy criminal investigation against Armstrong in February 2012 without bringing any charges. Officials there, however, are considering joining the whistleblower lawsuit filed by Landis.

One way Armstrong could earn money right now would be to write a “tell all” book. Such a book would have to go into great detail about his doping activities. This would provide material for the various parties suing him or thinking about doing so. So until and unless he settles all of his legal challenges, writing a book seems out of the question.

The Oprah Winfrey interview confirmed that Armstrong does now admit to doping as far back as 1996. She has stated, however, that he “was not as forthcoming as I had thought he would be.” This is the dilemma facing Armstrong. He claims he “left it all on the table” in the interview. If he truly wants forgiveness, however, he is going to have to provide details about his activities. His aggressive and often nasty actions taken against critics have angered many people. It he wants to rebuild his image to the point of being a marketable figure again, he is going to have to provide a lot of details. Doing so could, however, lead to more serious legal problems.

I believe that it is significant that Armstrong only came forward to confess his sins when he was completely backed into a corner. Even now he appears to be trying to put a spin on his message and to limit what he actually confesses to in terms of providing details. As WADA has stated, “Only when Mr. Armstrong makes a full confession under oath—and tells the authorities all he knows about doping activities—can any legal and proper process for him to seek any reopening or reconsideration of his lifetime ban commence.” Armstrong is a little like a small boy who is caught taking cookies from a schoolmate’s lunchbox. The little boy is sorry, not because what he did was wrong, but because he was caught.

Armstrong also sought to in a sense minimize his actions by stating that he did not do anything that others were not doing. Known facts suggest that his doping enterprise was vast in scale and involved perhaps dozens of people. Armstrong was a kingpin in the world of doping. He should not be forgiven until and unless he provides information that helps clean up the sport of cycling once and for all.

Greg Tyler is the Library Director at the United States Sports Academy. He has also taught courses at the Academy in sports law. He worked for years in youth sports as a coach, league administrator and as a soccer referee. He has a law degree and practiced law for a number of years.

 

 

 

Alabama Escapes LSU and Keeps National Title Hopes Alive to Earn Academy’s Game of the Week Honor

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Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron led the No. 1 ranked Crimson Tide to a last minute touchdown drive that kept last year’s national champions on course to defend their title in Miami.

With Alabama’s hopes of a second straight national title on the line, McCarron calmly guided his team down the field against Southeastern Conference rival and No. 5 LSU. The winning touchdown with 51 seconds left in the game at LSU’s Death Valley came on a screen pass to T.J. Yeldon who scampered 28-yards to give the Tide a 21-17 victory.

Last year's United States Sports Academy's College Football Game of the Year was Alabama's shutout, 21-0, of LSU in the national championship game. Daniel Moore's painting of the 2011 Game of the Year can be purchased online at newlifeart.com.

The stunning victory in the slugfest between the top-ranked teams earned Alabama selection as the Week 10 winner of the United States Sports Academy’s 2012 College Football Game of the Year Contest.

Alabama (9-0) remained undefeated thanks to McCarron overcoming a dismal second half. McCarron connected on 4 of 5 passes on Alabama’s final drive, including three straight. Before that drive, McCarron was only 1 of 7 on passes in the second half as LSU (7-2) took the lead, 17-14, with just under 13 minutes remaining in the game.

Led by quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who threw for 298 yards and a 14-yard TD, LSU had fought back from a 14-3 halftime deficit. The Tigers were on the verge of putting the game away, but kicker Drew Alleman missed a 38-yard field goal, and McCarron took over from there.

On the game-winning play, McCarron recognized an LSU corner blitz and tossed the ball quickly to Yeldon. The freshman running back broke one tackle and faked out another defender, racing to the end zone for the winning score. He finished with 76 yards on 11 carries for an average of 6.9 yards per attempt.

A national panel of experts selects the weekly winner of the Academy’s College Football Game of the Year Contest. Each week’s winner is considered for the award honoring the best College Football Game of the Year at the end of the season.

This committee is currently chaired by Jack Lengyel, the former athletic director at the United States Naval Academy. Lengyel was also a college football coach best known for being the head coach who resurrected the Marshall University football program, as depicted in the 2006 film, “We Are Marshall.”

Daniel Moore, the American Sports Art Museum and Archives (ASAMA) 2005 Sport Artist of the Year, is commissioned by the Academy each year to create a painting honoring the selected College Football Game of the Year. The Academy, also known as America’s Sports University, donates the painting and $5,000 to the general scholarship fund of the annual winner.

Professional Golfer on Third Heart Wins Academy’s 2012 Mildred “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias Courage Award

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PGA TOUR golfer and two-time heart transplant recipient Erik Compton holds the distinction as being the only professional golfer in the world to compete with a transplanted heart. The 33-year-old has had three different hearts in his life but that hasn’t stopped him from achieving his dream of earning his TOUR card and playing on the PGA TOUR.

Erik Compton (right), who has received two heart transplants and still plays on the PGA Tour, receives the United States Sports Academy's Mildred "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias Courage Award from Duwayne Escobedo (left), the university's director of communications.

Compton was diagnosed when he was nine-years-old with viral cardiomyopathy, a condition where the heart muscle is inflamed and unable to pump as hard as it should. His first heart transplant came in 1992, when Compton was 12. Compton had his second transplant following a major heart attack in 2008.

Erik Compton, a two-time heart transplant recipient and PGA Tour player, receives the United States Sports Academy’s Mildred “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias Courage Award from the sport university’s Duwayne Escobedo at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic Wednesday, Nov. 7 in Orlando.

Despite the heart transplants, he reached his goal of earning a PGA Tour Card for 2012 and has now earned the United States Sports Academy’s 2012 Mildred “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias Courage Award. Zaharias, too, wasa golfer. Zaharias was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1953, and one month after undergoing surgery, she won her 10th and final major with a U.S. Women’s Open championship.

The Courage Award is presented annually to an individual who demonstrates courageous action in overcoming adversity to excel in sport. This individual should exhibit the qualities of courage, perseverance, grace, and strength in sport achievement.

On the PGA TOUR this season, Compton has made the cut 16 times in 25 events, has one top 25 finish and has earned nearly $360,000. He finished 137th in FedEx Cup points. In addition, he has spent his spare time helping to raise awareness and educate Americans about organ donation.

“I hope that by sharing my experience others can see the importance of finding out more about organ donation,” Compton said. “After my second transplant, I knew I wasn’t done with golf and consider when I made the cut in the 2008 Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic less than six months later to start my comeback. That makes receiving this award at this tournament all that much more meaningful to me.”

The PGA TOUR honored Compton for coming back from heart surgery during The Masters in April 2009, awarding him the Ben Hogan Award.

Prior to this year, he played in 30 PGA TOUR events as a non-member from 2000 to 2011 through sponsor exemptions and qualifying, making the cut 18 times. His best PGA TOUR finish was a tie for 25th in the 2011 Northern Trust Open. Compton has played in one major, the 2010 U.S. Open.

In 2010, Compton advanced to the Tour’s final round of qualifying school. He finished tied for 100th, which granted him conditional Nationwide TOUR status. In 2011, Compton won the Mexico Open—his first win on a major golf tour. Compton finished 13th on the money list that year which was good enough for a PGA TOUR Card for 2012.

International Olympic Committee's Dr. Tomas Sithole Visits Academy to Discuss Olympic Education

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Dr. Tomas Sithole, the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Director of International Relations, held discussions at the United States Sports Academy in Daphne, Ala., with the university’s senior leaders about Olympic education, youth sports and sports art.

Dr. Tomas Sithole (right) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) visited the United States Sports Academy to meet with Academy President and CEO Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich (left) and to discuss the Olympic Values Education Program (OVEP).

Academy President and CEO Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich sits on the IOC’s Commission for Culture and Olympic Education that is overseen by Dr. Sithole, the Director of the Department of International Cooperation and Development of the IOC. That commission advises the IOC on the promotion of culture and Olympic education and supports the IOC programs and activities related to the education of youth through sport.

The Academy worked five years ago with the IOC to develop an online version of the Olympic Values Education Program (OVEP). Dr. Sithole says he would like to see the program reach even more nations across the globe in the future. The program is slated to be discussed further at the  8th edition of the IOC World Conference on Sport, Culture and Education Nov. 25-27 in Amsterdam, which both Dr. Sithole and Dr. Rosandich are attending.

In addition, Dr. Sithole says he’s pleased with the role the Academy plays in advancing sport art. The Academy has  conducted the U.S. Olympic Committee’s (USOC) Sport and Art contest the past four Olympiads. Martin Linson, an emerging artist from St. Charles, Mo., earned the gold medal in the USOC and then the IOC competition for the 2012 London Games for his sculpture, “Omnipotent Triumph” that pays tribute to Paralympic athletes. He is being honored by the Academy as its 2013 Sport Artist of the Year.

“We want to engage young people across the world and promote sport education and Olympic values,” says Dr. Sithole, who visited the Academy after attending the United Nations for talks about using sport to enhance the development of youth and peace.

 

Oklahoma Athletic Director Joe Castiglione Receives Academy’s Carl Maddox Sports Management Award

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During his 14-year tenure at the University of Oklahoma, Joe Castiglione has presided over one of the most successful eras in sports at the school earning him the United States Sports Academy’s 2012 Carl Maddox Sports Management Award.

Robert C. Campbell, III (left), United States Sports Academy Board of Trustees Chairman, presented the 2012 Carl Maddox Sports Management Award to Joe Castiglione (right), University of Oklahoma Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics Programs and Director of Athletics, at the 28th Annual Academy's Awards of Sport celebration on Thursday, Nov. 1.

Oklahoma’s Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics Programs and Director of Athletics since 1998, Castiglione recalled when he started his career in college administration at Rice University he first met Maddox, the former Athletic Director of Louisiana State University and Mississippi State University.

“He had a great reputation and was so well respected. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would get an award named after him,” Castiglione said at the Academy’s 28th annual Awards of Sport show Thursday night in Daphne, Ala. “This is an incredible honor. But you don’t get awards by yourself. I really have to thank so many wonderful people who I have worked with who helped to make this possible.”

The Academy annually presents the Carl Maddox Sport Management Award to an individual like Castiglione for their contributions to the growth and development of sport enterprise through effective management practices. The award honors individuals who exhibit mastery of all the management functions, are well known in the sport arena, and have an abiding belief in the need for ethical behavior in sport management. It is named in honor of Maddox, who also served on the United States Sports Academy Board of Trustees.

Castiglione has experienced success on and off the field. While winning seven national championships and 49 conference titles over the past 14 years, the university’s athletics department has also closed the books in the black each year. He also demands high standards in academics and ethical behavior for the Sooners’ 21 sports programs that includes nearly 600 student-athletes. The current cumulative grade point average for OU’s nearly 600 student-athletes is above 3.0.

Under Castiglione, OU’s sports programs have finished in the top 15 in the annual Learfield Director’s Cup rankings the past three years. As one of the few NCAA Division I programs that is totally self-sustaining, the Oklahoma Athletics Department provides more than $7 million annually to the university’s Academic Budget.

In addition, the university’s record pace of improvements to its sports facilities has been funded entirely through private contributions. Castiglione has been instrumental in a major campaign that has raised more than $125 million in three years, and $330 million overall. He has served in numerous leadership positions in collegiate sports and currently is the past president of both the Division I-A Athletic Directors Association and NACDA, and a member of the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Committee.

The United States Sports Academy is an independent, nonprofit, accredited, special mission sports university created to serve the nation and the world with programs in instruction, research and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports. For more information, call 251-626-3303 or visit the Academy’s website www.ussa.edu.

Arizona Ends Southern Cal’s National Title Hopes to Earn Academy’s Game of the Week Honor

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Arizona overcame a 15-point deficit in the third quarter to stun Southern California, 39-36, and end any national title hopes the Trojans may still have had.

Last year's United States Sports Academy's College Football Game of the Year was Alabama's shutout, 21-0, of LSU in the national championship game. Daniel Moore's painting of the Game of the Year can be purchased online at newlifeart.com.

Unranked Arizona earned selection as the Week 9 winner of the United States Sports Academy’s 2012 College Football Game of the Year Contest for its upset of No. 9 USC in a game in which the two teams combined for 1,206 yards of offense.

Arizona trailed Southern Cal, 28-13, to start the third quarter but then the Wildcats’ scored four straight touchdowns with quarterback Matt Scott leading the way. He threw TD passes of 7 and 9 yards and rushed 10 yards for a TD. Scott completed 27 of 50 passes for 369 yards and three touchdowns and ran 15 times for 100 yards and one score.

It was enough to top record-setting days by USC wide receiver Marqise Lee and quarterback Matt Barkley. Lee eclipsed the Pac-12 record for receiving yards, finishing with 16 catches for 345 yards and two touchdowns. He ended up with 469 all-purpose yards. Meanwhile, Barkley matched Carson Palmer’s school record for 400-yard games with his third and threw for a USC record of 493 yards.

In the end, the Southern Cal duo could not connect on a desperation heave with five seconds left in the game when an Arizona defender batted the throw to the ground in the end zone.

A national panel of experts selects the weekly winner of the Academy’s College Football Game of the Year Contest. Each week’s winner is considered for the award honoring the best College Football Game of the Year at the end of the season.

This committee is currently chaired by Jack Lengyel, the former athletic director at the United States Naval Academy. Lengyel was also a college football coach best known for being the head coach who resurrected the Marshall University football program, as depicted in the 2006 film, “We Are Marshall.”

Daniel Moore, the American Sports Art Museum and Archives (ASAMA) 2005 Sport Artist of the Year, is commissioned by the Academy each year to create a painting honoring the selected College Football Game of the Year. The Academy, also known as America’s Sports University, donates the painting and $5,000 to the general scholarship fund of the annual winner.

The United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, accredited, special mission sports university created to serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research, and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports. For more information about the Academy, call 251-626-3303 or visit www.ussa.edu

Concussion Safety Advocate Chris Nowinski Receives the Academy’s 2012 Distinguished Service Award

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For his tenacious work to elevate the issue of concussions into the national spotlight and to help make sports more safe to play, Chris Nowinski received the United States Sports Academy with a 2012 Distinguished Service Award.

Chris Nowinski (left) receives the United States Sports Academy's 2012 Distinguished Service Award (DSA) from the Academy's Board of Trustees member Dr. Don Wukasch (right) on Wednesday, Oct. 24 at the Sport Legacy Institute awards dinner in Boston.

The DSA was presented to Nowinski at the Sport Legacy Institute’s awards dinner Oct. 24 in Boston by United States Board of Trustees member Dr. Don C. Wukasch, who is a former heart surgeon and currently a psychoanalyst in Northhampton, Mass. The award is given annually to those individuals who have made outstanding contributions to national or international sports through instruction, research or service.

Nowinski wrote the critically acclaimed book, “Head Games: Football’s Concussion Crisis,” in 2006 and it served as the basis of the recently released documentary, “Head Games,” directed by the acclaimed Steve James.

A former All-Ivy League defensive lineman at Harvard University, Nowinski first began his investigative work and advocacy on concussions when he was forced to retire as a WWE professional wrestler in 2004 after suffering a series of concussions. He still suffers with memory loss, headaches and other symptoms from all the hits to his head.

Nowinski emphasizes that he is pro-children and is not anti-sports and adds that he will not stop providing awareness about brain trauma to athletes, parents, coaches and medical professionals until scientists find a way to diagnose and treat concussions.

“If I had a 6-year-old playing football, I would be freaked out and rightly so,” says the 34-year-old Nowinski. “You’re playing Russian roulette with their future.”

To learn more about the effects on the brain from concussions, Nowinski in 2007 co-founded the Sports Legacy Institute (SLI), a non-profit organization he serves as executive director. He also serves as a co-director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at the Boston University School of Medicine.

It often falls to Nowinski to ask grieving families for their loved ones brain for study by the Boston center, which has about 70 brains of athletes and military veterans in its “brain bank” to research and study degenerative brain disease known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE.

Research goals include figuring out who may be more at risk for concussions; developing better methods to diagnosis concussions and enhance return-to-play guidelines; and even finding a cure, if one exists. For now, experts are focusing on solutions such as raising public awareness and implementing changes to sports to minimize the potential for concussions.

Nowinski also serves on the National Football League Players Association Mackey/White TBI Research Committee and on the board of directors of the Brain Injury Association of America.

 

Academy Honors Katie McCleary for Instructional Design Achievements

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The United States Sports Academy recently honored Katie McCleary a Certificate of Merit for her outstanding work in Instructional Design, while the department lacked a director and two designers.

Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich (left) presents a Certificate of Merit to Katie McCleary (center) in recognition of her dedication and contributions to the Department of Instructional Design as Dr. Stephen Butler, Director of Curriculum and Design, looks on.

McCleary, the Academy’s Interaction Information Designer, maintained the department by herself for nearly two months before it became fully staffed again. Instructional Design is primarily responsible for developing and maintaining the Academy’s sports-related courses in its bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs that are 100% online.

Dr. Stephen Butler joined the Academy Oct. 1 as the Director of Curriculum and Design. He has served as an administrator, faculty member, and curriculum developer in higher education at several universities. He was a highly decorated and honored member of the United States Air Force until his retirement in 2002, after nearly 24 years of service. Dr. Butler holds a doctorate degree in Administration of Curriculum and Instruction from Auburn University, a master’s degree in Educational Administration from Chapman University, and a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education from Florida Atlantic University.

Jennifer Ponder-Pepper also recently started at the Academy as an Instructional Designer. Previously, she worked the past two years in instructional design to help improve the online courses offered by Columbia Southern University in Orange Beach, Ala.

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