Category: Sports

Inaugural HBCU World Series Starts May 24th, Aims to Diversify College Baseball

According to Yahoo! Sports, the first of what organizations intend to be an annual event will feature the North Carolina A&T Aggies and Southern Jaguars at the Chicago White Sox Guaranteed Rate Field. It will join The Andre Dawson Classic as ways to promote HBCU schools, which are slowly watching their baseball programs fold.

Erwin Prentiss Hill, CEO of Black College Sports Group 360 (BCSG), told HBCU Sports he wants the event to “promote education opportunities to urban youth” who may not know of the schools or how to navigate the college admissions process.

 From HBCU Sports:

“Greatness comes from historically black colleges and universities. The bottom line is to get more urban youth back to our HBCU’s, so that talented young men and women can add to the legacy of our outstanding predominantly black universities.”

Baseball’s decline in lower-income communities

The cost of playing sports can add up quickly for families. It’s especially difficult to have to pay for a glove, cleats, bats and even uniform costs, now that there are fewer programs supported through park or school programs.

Participating on a travel team is even costlier and can require more shuttling around from parents, who might already be working multiple jobs to get by. Little League is so high-stakes it’s must-see TV in August.

Billy Witz covered the lack of African-American players on HBCU rosters Monday for the New York Times and noted the decline of baseball through the eyes of Bethune-Cookman athletic director Lynn Thompson. Thompson said places where he played sandlot ball in the 1960s were paved over for basketball courts and parking lots.

Recently, however, the percentage of black players on Major League Baseball‘s opening-day rosters in 2018 was the highest in six years at 8.4 percent. Between 2012 and 2017, 20 percent of first-round draft picks were African-American. Those numbers are in part due to MLB’s focus on its Urban Youth Academies that started in Compton, California, in 2006 and its Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program, launched in 1989.

“It’s been a huge investment for us,” Renee Tirado, MLB’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, said last spring. “Obviously growing the game amongst our players is a priority, so that uptick has definitely been from a concerted effort.”

Perhaps a focus on HBCU baseball will bring those numbers even higher in the coming years.

To read more: https://theshadowleague.com/ncat-southern-inaugural-hbcu-world-series/

EDUCATION: LeBron James “I Promise” School Showing Early Signs of Success

This week, reporter Erica L. Green wrote an encouraging feature in the New York Times about the “I Promise” public school NBA superstar LeBron James opened last year through the LeBron James Family Foundation in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.  To quote the article:

“This time last year, the students at the school — Mr. James’s biggest foray into educational philanthropy — were identified as the worst performers in the Akron public schools and branded with behavioral problems. Some as young as 8 were considered at risk of not graduating. Now, they are helping close the achievement gap in Akron.

The academic results are early, and at 240, the sample size of students is small, but the inaugural classes of third and fourth graders at I Promise posted extraordinary results in their first set of district assessments. Ninety percent met or exceeded individual growth goals in reading and math, outpacing their peers across the district.”

To read more about the school, its current impact and see photos from it, click here.

Steph & Ayesha Curry Launch STEM Scholarship Program for Girls

Steph Curry (Photo via TechCrunch Disrupt in SF 2016)

Ayesha and Steph Curry announced the launch of a STEM scholarship program for young women from San Francisco’s Bay Area.

— Read on www.ebony.com/news/steph-ayesha-curry-launch-stem-scholarship-program-girls/

Olympic Gold Medalist Simone Manuel Helps to Provide Free Swim Lessons for Every Student at LeBron James’ I Promise School

GBN just learned from becauseofthemwecan.com about Olympic Gold Medalist Swimmer Simone Manuel‘s recent visit to LeBron James‘ “I Promise” school in Akron, OH.

We are happy to report that as an ambassador for the USA Swimming Foundation, Manuel did not just talk the talk, but plans to swim the swim! She is helping provide free swim lessons to every student at I Promise during a week-long camp in June of this year.

To read more details, go to swimswam.com.

Muhammad Ali to Have Louisville, KY Airport Renamed in His Honor

Muhammad Ali (photo from Stanley Weston Archive via essence.com)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, boxing legend, Vietnam War protester and civil rights activist Muhammad Ali will soon have his hometown airport renamed after him.

“Muhammad Ali belonged to the world, but he only had one hometown, and fortunately, that is our great city of Louisville,” Mayor Greg Fischer said. “Muhammad became one of the most well-known people to ever walk the Earth and has left a legacy of humanitarianism and athleticism that has inspired billions of people.”

Lonnie Ali, Ali’s widow, said in a statement she is happy that Louisville is changing its airport’s name “to reflect Muhammad’s impact on the city and his love for his hometown.”

“Muhammad was a global citizen,” she stated, “but he never forgot the city that gave him his start. It is a fitting testament to his legacy.”

To read more: https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/2019/01/16/louisville-airport-sdf-getting-new-name/2594657002/

LeBron James Named Associated Press’ Male Athlete of the Year

LeBron James (photo via usatoday.com)

by Kia Morgan-Smith via thegrio.com

Although he’s been sidelined for the next several games with a groin injury, it hasn’t overshadowed the moves LeBron James has made on and off the court

So for the third time the LA Lakers forward has been named the Associated Press’ Male Athlete of the Year, the Associated Press reports.

“I would describe it as a success because I was able to inspire so many people throughout the year,” James said. “I got to go back to China, to Paris, to Berlin, I opened up a school. And all these kids I was able to see, all over the world and in my hometown, I was able to inspire, to make them think they can be so much more than what they think they’re capable of being. That was my outlook for 2018.”

“So yes, it’s been a pretty good year.”

James received 78 points in the ballots given to U.S. editors and news directors, the AP reports. The Boston Red Sox Mookie Betts was second with 46 points. The Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin placed third, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes came in fourth and Triple Crown winner Justify was fifth, according to the outlet.

In his 16th season, James still reigns on the court. He’s continued to be a force helping to usher his teams to the NBA Finals for eight consecutive years. He left Cleveland to make magic happen with the LA Lakers. And in the midst of aligning his career goals with his life goals and dreams he opened a school called “I Promise” in his hometown of Akron, Ohio for at-risk kids.

James is also an involved father who takes time out to be his kids’ biggest cheerleader from the sidelines during their basketball games. And he’s been an advocate off the court, using his voice and influence to speak out on social justice causes.

Read more: https://thegrio.com/2018/12/28/lebron-james-ap-male-athlete-of-the-year/

Shaq-A-Claus Surprises Students at Two Georgia Schools, Gives Out Backpacks – theGrio

Screen Shot 2018-12-10 at 12.50.40 PM

by Kia Morgan-Smith via thegrio.com

Shaquille O’Neal’s one big ole’ holly, jolly good guy who spent the day doing good and giving out backpacks to kids at Eagle’s Landing Middle School in Henry County Georgia last week, WSBTV reports.

Shaq-A-Claus shared the love and surprised the school with an unplanned visit. He greeted kids in the National Junior Beta Club and congratulated them on a job well done, said school district spokesman JD Hardin.

Then he attended a pep rally and spoke to students about making good life choices, before handing out some backpacks, Hardin said.

Shaq took to Twitter to thank his partners for teaming up with him.

“Again.. I would like to Thank  all my partners for their support with Shaq A Claus 2018. This will be an awesome event for the kids Merry Christmas”

Read more via Shaq-A-Claus surprises students at two Georgia schools and gives out backpacks – theGrio

All-Female Officials Team to Referee Title Game in CIAA, the Nation’s 1st African-American Football Conference

CIAA-2018-Football-Season-All-Female-Officials-Team-10.27.18-Game-l-r-Elbert-Lassiter-Sharlanda-Demingo-Ruth-Onyekwelu-Christina-Thurman-Joysha-Gay-Bobbie-Torain-e1541857363762
The all-female officials team, plus referee Elbert Lassiter (far right) and umpire Leonard VanHoose (far left), for the Oct. 27 game between Winston-Salem State and Shaw University. (From left to right) Sharlanda Demingo, Ruth Onyekwelu, Christina Thurman, Joysha Gay, Bobbie Torain. (photo via the undefeated.com)

by Mark W. Wright via theundefeated.com

Sharlanda Demingo had to make a call — and a tough one at that.

Her son, Amadious, demanded that she quit one of her jobs so he could see more of her at home.

“He was in middle school and playing basketball,” Demingo recalled of the conversation with her then-12-year-old. “He was in the band, and I would miss his games sometimes because I was always out, either at a basketball game or at a football game, so I couldn’t go to his marching band events.”

When Amadious’ grades started to suffer, things got real. “It seemed like he started struggling in school, too, so I had to pay attention to that.”

At the time, Demingo had been pursuing her passion as a referee, in basketball and football. As much as she knew she had to put her time in, success there couldn’t come at the expense of family. “So I decided to pursue football primarily and if I wanted to do basketball, I’d do some rec games on the side but not continue to pursue basketball.”

It was the best call she could have made — there’s been zero second-guessing.

Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, Demingo developed a love for basketball after joining the Air Force in 2002. After completing basic training in Lackland, Texas, her first duty station stop took her to Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany, where she started officiating basketball, following in her father’s footsteps.

“Growing up as a little girl, my dad used to officiate basketball, so I used to go to the games with him,” said Demingo, who continued refereeing after her tour ended in Germany and her second stop — in Hurlburt Field, Florida — began.

By 2006, when she got out of the military and moved to Atlanta, Demingo had added football to her repertoire — and now she will be part of an all-female, five-person officiating crew poised to manage the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) football championship game, between Fayetteville State and Bowie State, Saturday in Salem, Virginia.

Bowie State enters the game 8-2 overall, 8-1 against Division II competition and 6-1 against CIAA opponents. It is led by quarterback Amir Hall, the leading passer in Division II who was the 2017 Black College Player of the Year. It’s Bowie State’s third appearance in the championship game in five seasons.

Fayetteville State enters the title game with a 6-2 record, 6-1 against Division II competition and 5-1 against CIAA foes. The Broncos had two games canceled because of Hurricane Florence. But that didn’t stop them in the conference’s Southern Division, and they claimed its championship spot in Week 9 with a win over Livingstone and Shaw University’s win over Winston-Salem State.

For the CIAA, having female officials covering football as well as other sports in the conference is vitally important — something its commissioner, Jacqie McWilliams, has championed from the beginning.

“Our teams, sports fans, students and the overall community benefit from having balanced, diverse and inclusive teams officiating all of our sports,” McWilliams explained. “It’s important to me the CIAA lead by example.”

Read More: Two female officials part of crew set to referee CIAA football title game

Simone Biles Wins Record 4th All-Around Title at World Championships

Simone Biles competes in the Women’s All-Round Final during day eight of the 2018 FIG Artistic Gymnastics Championships at Aspire Dome on November 1, 2018 in Doha, Qatar. (photo via cnn.com)

by Jill Martin via cnn.com

Simone Biles has won the all-around title at the world championships for the fourth time, the most ever in women’s artistic gymnastics.

Biles, 21, uncharacteristically struggled in the competition Thursday in Doha, Qatar, just days after tweeting she’d put off having a kidney stone removed until after the competition.

But despite a fall on the vault, a fall on the balance beam and stepping out of bounds during her floor exercise routine, Biles still won by 1.693 points — the largest margin of victory of her four titles.

Fellow American Morgan Hurd took bronze, while Mai Murakami of Japan won silver.

In addition to the all-around, Biles, who returned to the sport this summer, led the US this week to team gold. She still can add to her medal haul in the individual vault, uneven bars, beam and floor events.

Source: https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/01/sport/simone-biles-wins-fourth-all-around-title-world-championships-gymnastics/index.html

Retired NBA Star and ESPN Analyst Jalen Rose’s Tuition-Free High School Achieves 93 Percent Graduation Rate

Jalen Rose and a graduating class of the JRLA. (Photo credit: Gary North)

by Christina Santi via ebony.com

Other than being an ESPN analyst, Jalen Rose also works tirelessly to serve his local community. The retired NBA player opened in September 2011 the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy (JRLA), an open enrollment, tuition-free public charter high school in Northwest Detroit. It serves 400 students in ninth through 12 grade from metro Detroit with a 9-16 model, in which students are supported not only through high school graduation but through college graduation via a college success team that works with current students and alumni.

The JRLA has a 93 percent graduation rate and 100 percent college and post-secondary acceptance rate.

Rose spoke exclusively with EBONY.com about why the school is important, what he hopes his students get from their time on campus and the controversy surrounding the national anthem.

Why do you think it’s important to give back to your community by opening a school as opposed to other ways you can help?

Education is a valuable tool that unlocks the future of so many young people, and the dynamics in our country have changed, which is [why I chose to] be the founder of a tuition-free public charter high school that gets zero state funding for the facility. It was important not only from myself but our co-founder, Michael Carter, as well. [We wanted] to not only be able to influence the dynamics of our scholars graduating from high school nine through 12 but [also] to give them that level of support and guidance that allowed them the opportunity to graduate from college, which was 13 through 16.

We’re proud and unique in a lot of ways to carry a nine through 16 model, whereas we approximately have 450 kids in the building this upcoming school year and around 300 in college or university community college, military and trade school. In June, it will be the first time we have JRLA scholars that graduated from colleges across the country that will have the opportunity to attend our graduation and speak to the graduates of our senior class. So that is what I think allows our scenario to be really unique and I’m proud of that dynamic.

Several people I know in the education sector complain about how the curriculum is more based on setting kids up to pass state exams as opposed to teaching skills that would benefit them in the future. How would you say the JRLA enriches your student body with skills that will help them in the future?

That’s not a school thing, per se. That’s a society thing that has continued to foster throughout our country and look no further than the dynamics of how many people work in a field that was their major in college.

I’m one of the few that I know.

I am too, communications: radio, TV & film. So that dynamic in our educational system [whether it be] public charter, magnet, private, college, university, high school, elementary school and middle school is all theory. So, to me, that’s one conversation.

So now what we’re able to do, as a charter school [is] craft programs that allow the young people to get skills other than reading, writing and arithmetic.

We have a leadership course. We teach young people about decision-making, problem-solving, sex, drugs, violence, gangs and etiquette. [Our school] has advisory, where we get to know our scholars up-close and personal, [including] what makes them tick and their interests; we try to steer them in that direction. We’re also unique because while most public schools and charter schools are not open in July, we are.

The JRLA has something called Summer Session, which is not summer school for students who failed classes. Through this program, we create other experiences, college experiences on-campus experiences and we provide each of our scholars with an internship.

It’s crucial for us to get our scholars out in the community to do charity work and to give them the life skills they will need to be successful in the endeavors that they have, and it’s more for us than just obviously the curriculum that’s required to graduate from school. Continue reading “Retired NBA Star and ESPN Analyst Jalen Rose’s Tuition-Free High School Achieves 93 Percent Graduation Rate”