Monday, November 25, 2013


Big, bad day for the sport in Texas: Baylor was exposed as a season-long straw
man and the Aggies had better hope Johnny Football gets out of BR with no
party-boy probs.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Go Nick Go!!!!!!!!!

No, no, despite how obvious it might seem, LSU did not originate the idea of
Saban to Texas!! Though it is brilliant as an Alabama distraction in the run-up
to Bama's hosting LSU on Saturday.
Nick--go where you must, and please let no distractions interfere with what you
do vs.  LSU.
Or not.

Prayers For Tony Dorsett

I am heartsick about former Dallas Cowboy Tony Dorsett's diagnosis. I covered
him for many years, and always found him cordial. When he spent a late-career
stint at Denver, I was assigned to cover him at the Broncos' training camp in
Greeley, Colo. He was hospitalized in Denver with an injury, and I was driving
back and forth like maniac. When I caught up with him, he was on crutches in a
rock garden near the training facilities. He not only told me his story, but
probably saved my job for another day.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


Cathy Harasta: BRAD & BABE RULE RADIO: My Sunday pleasure: Brad and Babe calling NFL radio on the Cowboys home station. Who needs TV? Just heard Babe use the word "egregious&...


My Sunday pleasure: Brad and Babe calling NFL radio on the Cowboys home station.

Who needs TV?
Just heard Babe use the word "egregious" in connection with a penalty-- he
actually said it was not an "egregious" move. Love to hear a vocabulary range on
my football radio calls. Call me a sucker for descriptive modifiers. Don't even
care who wins when wordsmiths are at work.
I also love when Brad or Babe sounds petulant-- and the comrade catches it and
tweaks the petulant one.
Radio lives.

Monday, October 28, 2013


Ode to the BCS

Whenever I feel depressed
About the BCS
I take my major guess
That no one feels
A zest
For the BCS.

It loves the SEC
Which shouldn't bother me
But anyone can see
Is free
To rig the game
So totally.

When the standings
Make me steam
I turn to my old dream
Of making a nice quart
Of luscious, homemade
Ice cream.


See, LSU , how costly last week was?
It does not matter that you beat a no- name team by 48 because it is pretty much
too late.

Monday, October 21, 2013


OK, here are two ways, both of which sound implausible, that might get LSU (6-2) to the BCS title game despite its disaster at Mississippi on Saturday:
No. 1--At No. 13 in the first BCS poll, the Tigers would need to win out, which means beating Alabama and Texas A&M in November, and have all 12 higher-ranked teams finish with at least two losses. LSU also probably needs some of the teams chasing the Tigers to go flat.
Turns out that Sept. 21 LSU triumph over Auburn, 35-21, looks more significant. But LSU needs not only to beat Alabama but also to hope Arkansas can find a way to beat Auburn (6-1) on Nov. 2 and then have Auburn figure something out to defeat Alabama on Nov. 30. Then LSU would have SEC divisional tiebreaker leverage, but still would need to prevail at the SEC Championship.
No. 2—Stephen Rivers, the 6-7 QB-in-waiting. Why wait? Give him a whirl on Saturday against Furman. It’s not often that Furman comes to town.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


Winner Wonderland For U.s.

February 10, 2006
By CATHY HARASTA, The Dallas Morning News

DALLAS — The addition of extreme sports has helped transform the United States into a Winter Games power.
A new Ice Age, edgy and madcap, has helped shift the balance of power in Team USA's favor, setting the stage for perhaps a record-setting Winter Games in the Italian Alps this month.
The U.S. has capitalized on the Olympic program's new twists and more extreme sports. Considering returning medalists from the 2002 Games and greater depth in consistently successful sports, the U.S. might even -- gasp! -- win the Turin Olympics.
How over the top would that be?
Much of the nation's improvement reflects success in events that are new to the Olympics since 1992. Team USA's medal production has increased almost six times since the 1988 Calgary Winter Games.
In the last four Winter Games, 44 percent of U.S. medals were won in sports not on the program until 1992 or later and in skeleton, which returned to the Games in 2002 after a 54-year absence. Almost half of the nation's record 34 medals at the 2002 Winter Games also came in the recently added sports.
Traditionalists might sneer at freestyle skiing's theatrics, short-track speedskating's bump-and-grind mayhem and snowboarding's off-the-wall antics. But the "hot dog" sports have been gold mines for Team USA.
"There's sort of a rebelliousness and youth culture making the Games fresher and hipper," said Mark Dyreson, an author on Olympic history and a faculty member in Penn State's departments of history and kinesiology. "Part of this perhaps is the Americanization of global culture. The International Olympic Committee was very shrewd. They definitely took a look at the winter program. You've got to have the United States watching."
Moguls and short track speedskating led the new-look Games with their 1992 Olympic debuts. At the previous Winter Games, in 1988, the U.S. won just six medals to finish in the middle of the pack. That mediocrity changed beginning in 1992.
The addition of women's events in ice hockey and bobsled also helped the U.S. medal count, which hit a record 34 at the Salt Lake City Winter Games in 2002. The U.S. finished second to Germany (36 medals), altering the general perception of Team USA as not ready for prime time. Its previous top medal count was 13.
Of the 71 medals the U.S. won in the last four Winter Games, 31 came in events that were not in the Olympics before 1992 and in skeleton. Team USA's 2002 Olympic medals included 16 won in events that never had been Olympic sports until 1992 or later and in skeleton.
Five of the record 10 gold medals in 2002 came in skeleton and in events that were not in the Winter Olympic before 1998 (snowboarding's halfpipe and women's bobsled).
But if the U.S. ends up topping the medal table in Turin, some purists will scoff at the achievement, said Derick Hulme, an international relations professor at Alma (Mich.) College who has written in depth about the politics of the Games.
"The sense would be that it happened because of these fake sports," Hulme said. "It's perceived by the purists as being a bastardizing of the Winter Games.
"I don't think it would translate into a better image of the U.S. being perceived more powerfully."
Breaking with tradition, U.S. Olympic Committee leaders declined to set a numerical target for medals in Turin. USOC chief Jim Scherr said the committee's goal in Turin medals was "not to decline."
"If we create expectations, we can put additional pressure on athletes that may be detrimental," said Jim McCarthy, the USOC's 2006 chef de mission, or delegation leader, in Turin.
The U.S.'s strong results in recent World Cup seasons and championships, however, bode well for Turin.
"The U.S. could win eight or even nine medals in snowboarding alone," said Tracy Anderson, senior editor of San Diego-based Future Snowboarding magazine. "It's hip. It's youthful. There are a lot of activities in the Winter Olympics that don't appeal to the younger demographic."
Anderson said snowboarders wanted no part of the Olympics in the early 1990s but have helped the sport join the mainstream since it first appeared in the Games in 1998.
"The Olympics was considered too uncool," he said. "Snowboarding was considered a fringe, subcultural activity. It was sort of a punk thing."
U.S. moguls medal contender Jeremy Bloom said the Olympics needed the new events, which help define a new style and dimension of athleticism.
"It's important to have freestyle skiing and halfpipe (snowboarding)," Bloom said. "I love to jump and I love to catch big air."
Anderson underscored Bloom's point by noting NBC's report of a 23 percent ratings increase among 18- to 34-year-olds for the 2002 Winter Games over the previous edition.
"The challenge has been to try to make the Winter Games as relevant as possible," Hulme said. "The pragmatists are saying, 'Listen, we're fighting for our lives here. We have to make these Games relevant to people who are going to be watching for the next 50 years.' "

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Dave South

I remember writing about Texas A&M sports announcer Dave South decades ago, when
I wrote the sports TV-Radio column for The Dallas Morning News. I just tuned to
the radio pre-game coverage of the Auburn-A&M game and caught South's set-up for
the SEC matchup. I must say, South's thorough, neutral remarks and comprehensive
statistical rundown struck me as excellent. I was impressed, though I'd wager
that he might grow more emotional and verge on homerish in his play call after
kickoff! Anyway, it was nice to hear a local team sportscaster preview a game in
an informative, non-ridiculously biased fashion.
Saluting South, here (and I'm an LSU fan-mom).


Friday, October 18, 2013

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Presence of Herschel Walker can only help the Cowboys

Monday, July 15, 1996
Presence of Herschel Walker can only help the Cowboys

By Cathy Harasta
The Dallas Morning News
(July 15, 1996)
DALLAS - Quit snickering about the no-cut clause in Herschel Walker's new contract.

"No-cut" is Walker's middle name. The clause seems redundant, considering that a city bus has a better chance of a cunning, on-the-dime directional shift than the old/new Dallas Cowboy.

But then, Walker's running back resume never played him up as a cut artist. As a ball-carrier, he led with his head. In the uniforms of four NFL teams, one thing never changed: He ran with his head down as though an arrow emblazoned on the field kept him hypnotically on course.

Now that No. 34 is 34, he came cheap to a team whose image has suffered a cheapening in this very stinky, very "off" off-season. A prominent receiver now is reduced to representation by a lawyer on a smear campaign to discredit a topless dancer. But enough about Michael Irvin and what he has done for the perception of the pro athlete. Just look at the terrible things Walker has done.

Uh ... that'll just be a minute.

I'm still looking.

Bear with me.

In 10 NFL seasons, Walker had to have amassed a series of conduct-related incidents and prickly symptoms requiring critical attention.

There MUST be something.

Well ... Walker wasn't a very good bobsledder back in his Albertville Olympic run. You could savage him for that, except that few of Team USA's men immortalized themselves at those Games.

And didn't he fall asleep in his garage a few years back? Something about dozing off with music playing in his car.

And then there was the time he took ballet lessons. The nerve!

Plus, here's a guy who recently was released by a team with DAVE BROWN at quarterback. That tells you something.

But the reason a posse must be assembled is that Walker was a constant source of irritation; you hated to see a guy who did four-figures in daily sit-ups when he wasn't giving thanks to his Provider.

Where did the Cowboys come up with him, anyway? Herschel might spoil their image.

By now you know where I'm going with this. Walker will help the Cowboys.

They gave him a chance to ride off into that sunset that comes too soon for most running backs.

Dallas sounds like the sunset of Walker's choice. He will have a chance at a Super Bowl ring. Name me somebody more deserving of that shot than a veteran who only once has played for the winning team in a playoff game. Few entities, other than the Texas Rangers, have a shorter post-season history.

Walker seemed lately to get lost in various shuffles, having done next to nothing with New York last year. But when the Giants released him earlier this summer, an era seemed to end. The cut was not particularly big news. It made sense for the Giants.

Herschel, however, constituted a pro football time-line and a bargain for the Cowboys. As far as anybody can tell me, he avoided off-the-field trouble in travels that included stays in plenty of legendary trouble spots.

Walker gave the USFL enough credibility for the league to get a temporary leg up. He rode out the Tom Landry tenure with Dallas' first coach and made the turn into the Jimmy-Jerry experience.

Walker figured as the linchpin in what arguably was the NFL's most notorious trade. He became an NFC nomad, sometimes finding himself a bad fit, sometimes finding himself accused of being afraid of taking severe physical punishment, sometimes just about vanishing.

From Dallas, he went to Minnesota, Philadelphia and New York before completing the circle.

Naturally, he will not complete it with any form of upstaging Emmitt Smith. Walker, whose one-year contract worth $275,000 has a no-cut clause, mostly can help on third down. He'll toil on special teams. He'll be a backup and, maybe, a booster.

If somebody gets hurt, he'll be there.

And by what appear to be Cowboys' standards, he'll be square.

That will be a nice twist.

Welcome home, Herschel.

All content copyright 1996, KRT, The Abilene Reporter-News and Reporter OnLine

Madness marches its way into Bowl Alliance

Madness marches its way into Bowl Alliance

By CATHY HARASTA / The Dallas Morning News

Someone forgot to tell college football that it is not supposed to deliver late hits.
But somebody must have reminded the Big 12 that it is supposed to flex some muscle in the football department.
Surprise, surprise. The Bowl Alliance had to eat its script on Saturday, when conference championships acted part spoiler, part savior.
If anyone had said beforehand that almost 12 hours of college football would wrap March Madness-style tentacles around a December day, especially a critical shopping day, I would have said, "Dream on."
Texas did, turning its dream into about $8.3 million and assuring the Big 12 of a second team in the Bowl Alliance. Enter renewed faith in the conference's identity as a football heavyweight. With Texas in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl and Nebraska in the FedEx Orange Bowl, the Big 12 equals one-third of the Bowl Alliance, after the league opened its first football season without the expected punch.
A rogue elephant, wearing burnt orange, upended the post-season pairings and charged the atmosphere with unseasonable excitement.
March is when the Cinderella season is supposed to strike, not December. The NCAA Basketball Tournament is the brainchild that includes daylight for teams to play their way in. But the bowl system traditionally had more Scrooge than sizzle. At least it did until Saturday, when the set-up got a workover.
Talk about changing the face of the bowl season; Texas, in upsetting Nebraska in the inaugural Big 12 championship, altered just about every bone in the post-season's body. The plot thickened through Sunday, when Bowl Alliance announced its matchups in a TV selection show similar to the pairings program that comes on the heels of college basketball conference tournaments and sets up the Big Dance.
The past weekend revolutionized college football, not to mention the Longhorns' reputation and the Big 12's football credibility.
The Western Athletic Conference and the Southeastern Conference championships later Saturday acquired new meaning after Texas ruined Nebraska's day. In the end, the three Alliance bowls had to settle for the truth: Three will not do the job of delivering justice.
Three's not a crowd. Three's not enough.
The process, fortunately, is open to evolution.
The Alliance knew going in that its most glaring flaw was the absence of the Rose Bowl, which matches the Big Ten and Pac-10 champions. With the Alliance's intent of providing a national championship settled on the field, the capacity for trouble lurked in the Rose Bowl's detachment. Undefeated Arizona State could steal the Alliance's thunder this time by emerging with the national title.
But that problem exits with the 1998 season, when the Rose Bowl joins forces with the Alliance to make a foursome. The most serious injustice this season, however, concerned the WAC.
Any cooperative that excludes the WAC is unconscionable. WAC champion BYU, at 13-1, fell out of Alliance at-large consideration because even at 10-2, Nebraska was more desirable to the Orange Bowl and Penn State (9-2) appealed to the Fiesta Bowl as a strong generator of TV ratings.
Texas did BYU no favor by bouncing the Cougars from the Alliance payday. But the Longhorns did tremendous favors for the Southwestern Bell Cotton Bowl and for the longterm bowl outlook.
By introducing Cinderella to college football's post-season, Texas demonstrated that the Alliance can't assume anything too soon when it comes to pairings. If you are a fan, any time spontaneity asserts itself in sports, you can't complain.
The Cotton Bowl, with a 13-1 team in No. 5 BYU and a Big 12 team in No. 14 Kansas State, certainly can't complain.
"We have two teams that have never been in a New Year's Day bowl," Cotton Bowl chairman W. Mike Baggett said.
Though the Cotton Bowl failed in its bid a few years ago for one of the three coveted spots in the Alliance, the fact that a 13-1 team was shut out of that trifecta proved that the Alliance has room for improvement.
In 1998, talks among conferences and networks will begin, while existing contracts still are operating. Non-Alliance bowls will have an opportunity to assert their presence. Baggett said the Cotton Bowl wants to get into the Alliance-level act. "We are going to do everything we can," he said.
The excitement has only just begun.

All content copyright 1996, AP, KRT, The Abilene Reporter-News and Reporter OnLine

Lady Tigers shrug off distractions, remain focused

Lady Tigers shrug off distractions, remain focused

Updated: March 17, 2007, 6:56 PM ET
By Cathy Harasta | Special to

AUSTIN, Texas -- The LSU Lady Tigers brought their game faces Friday. As if preparing for their NCAA Tournament opener the following day wasn't enough to focus on, they knew they'd also be in for substantial scrutiny. The pot boiler in Baton Rouge, created by former coach Pokey Chatman's abrupt resignation March 7 and the subsequent investigation into the motive behind her departure, threatened to overshadow preparations for their first-round game.
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiLSU guard Marian Whitfield passes the ball away while under pressure from guard Erica White during a workout before the NCAA Tournament.

But the controversy appeared not to have messed in the least with LSU's concentration. Just as junior star Sylvia Fowles has blocked more than five dozen shots this season, the Lady Tigers showcased their ability to block out distractions as they continue their quest for a fourth consecutive Final Four berth.
"You never want to let anything in this time of year," guard Erica White said. "We've practiced well and I'm sure we'll be able to carry that over into the game."
But the players also remembered that no off-the-court commotion should make this a joyless quest. The game faces softened occasionally as the players came to terms with the spotlight beyond Baton Rouge.
A shiver of glee made LSU freshman guard Allison Hightower jump as she described her arrival at her first NCAA Tournament. It didn't bother her that athletic trainer Micki Collins was tending to Hightower's painful lower back.
Hightower, from Arlington, Texas, will have family in the stands when third-seeded LSU (26-7) opens against UNC-Asheville, a No. 14 seed, at the Frank Erwin Center on Saturday night (ESPN2, 10 ET).
"I'm very excited because this is my first time after always seeing the tournament on TV," Hightower said. "Hey, March Madness is here."
Regrouping and rehearsing became the key components as the team hit the stage for its first NCAA Tournament news conference in its post-Chatman era.
After 18 years in Baton Rouge, first as a player and then an assistant coach, Chatman, 37, stunned the women's college basketball world with her March 7 resignation. Thus began a swirl of innuendo that was buoyed by reports that Chatman allegedly had an inappropriate relationship with a former player. The plot thickened when subsequent reports named LSU assistant Carla Berry, a former LSU basketball teammate of Chatman's, as the person who told university officials about Chatman's alleged improper conduct.
Berry spent most of the team's Friday practice standing, arms crossed, on the sideline. She intently watched each drill but rarely smiled or called out an instruction. But Berry customarily takes a less active role than assistant coach Christie Sides, who was far more vocal and animated.
LSU sports information director Brian Miller said Berry did not want to take any questions.
"No, she's not talking, no, no," Miller said.
But acting head coach Bob Starkey unintentionally stole the show when he leveled with reporters concerning what he and the players were prepared to discuss.
"We made a decision that once we got on the plane, our focus is going to be on who we're playing," said Starkey, 47, who until last week was one of Chatman's assistants (this is his ninth season on the LSU women's staff).
Fowles let her game face slip to praise Starkey and salute the quality of the emotion he brings to the program.
"Y'all got to see him during a game," said Fowles, a candid leader admired for her attitude, not to mention her Friday pledge to take advantage of any chances to dunk, if they arise.
But Starkey, who has coached at LSU since 1990, when he was hired as an assistant men's coach, had to know the team couldn't be entirely insulated from what has transpired the past 10 days. The blogs have been brutal, taking all sorts of shots at Berry.
During the news conference, a question was asked concerning whether the team found it odd to be at the tournament without Chatman. Moderator Bill Little, a veteran of such functions and a legendary media relations expert, intervened.
"Let's move on," Little said. "I think we've covered that subject."
Later, Little said he thought the question didn't need to keep coming up: "I think we've just hurdled the hurdle."
Not so for the Lady Tigers.
"We've been working very hard," Hightower said. "We decided not to talk about it."
It, however, has loomed large for players who can't have found the past week any picnic. LSU's players, in fact, took midterm exams Thursday morning before the afternoon flight across the state line. Unlike many of its counterparts, Louisiana's flagship university does not get its spring break for another two weeks.
"This is a business trip for the basketball team, strictly business," Miller said. "The team has a pretty structured itinerary."
The LSU band members, however, enjoyed a Friday afternoon at the South By Southwest Music Festival. Roy King, director of the Bengal Brass Basketball Band, said a good time was had by all.
And Collins, the athletic trainer, smiled when asked if the team was holding up OK.
"Absolutely," she said.
Fowles summed up the task: "We know what we've got ahead of us."
Cathy Harasta is a Dallas-based freelance writer. E-mail her at

Family, friends relishing Folk's hero status

Family, friends relishing Folk's hero status

Those who know him best aren't surprised that kicker Nick Folk has achieved hero status in Dallas, writes Cathy Harasta.

Originally Published: October 10, 2007
By Cathy Harasta | Special to

IRVING, Texas -- There always was a doctor in the house when Dallas Cowboys rookie kicker Nick Folk was growing up.

Folk medicine was good medicine -- the ultimate home remedy. But Nick and his two younger brothers, Greg and Erik, never could put one over on their mom. Kathryn Folk, a pediatrician, generally could spot a fake stomach ache from at least 53 yards away.

After Nick Folk's 53-yard game-winning field goal against the Bills on Monday night salvaged the Cowboys' perfect start at 5-0, he laughed as he recalled his only sick day during high school. His mother and father, Anton, an accountant, taught their sons never to look for excuses and to take their responsibilities seriously.

"I went to school sick that one day, but got sent home when I threw up," said Folk, who had four field goals on Monday night and is 10-for-11 this season. "It was tough. But I learned that if you can do stuff with a little bit of pain, it's better."
Nick Folk
Rick Stewart/Getty ImagesIn a big spot on a big stage, rookie kicker Nick Folk calmly delivered for the Cowboys.

Dallas beat Buffalo, 25-24, after Folk's successful onside kick with 20 seconds left and the 53-yarder he had to make twice. The first was nullified when the Bills called a timeout.

Those who know Folk best shared the drama as the 22-year-old Arizona graduate captured the pro football spotlight. That the Hollywood native became a star thrilled but did not surprise his parents, brothers, friends and former coaches. They know Nick as a conscientious mentor who still regularly calls his former Wildcat teammates to offer uplifting advice.

At the family home in Woodland Hills, Calif., Folk's mom was holding one of Folk's dogs, Tiger, on her lap as she watched the game on TV.

"I was screaming in the dog's ear," Kathryn said. "I remembered the time when Nick was at Arizona and had a field goal with seven seconds left to beat BYU."

Anton, who goes by Tony, said he tried to quiet his wife.

"We had the windows open, and I thought the neighbors might think I was doing something to her and call the police," he said. "We have a lot of confidence in our kids. I was basically their athletic advisor and my wife was their academic advisor."

Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said Folk made a strong impression on the club with his performance at the combine.

"We drafted him, obviously," Phillips said. "The thing I like is that he kicks the ball straight."

Folk's composure also adds a soothing touch. Said Phillips: "It makes me feel better."

Football wasn't Folk's first love. He and his brothers played soccer ardently as kids. Tony, who was born in Austria, had played the sport at the semi-pro level in California.

"I am an immigrant, and my father was involved in soccer," Tony said. "I was four when I came to California, where I grew up watching the Los Angeles Rams and loved football."

Kathryn, a descendant of the first governor of Massachusetts and settlers who arrived in America on the Mayflower, said her sons managed to avoid some of the problems she sees plaguing teens in her medical practice.

"Our sons always wanted to do their sports since they were about four years old," she said. "I see a lot of kids who get pulled into bad choices. I am thankful for every minute I spent on one sideline or another."

Greg, 20, plays soccer at UCLA, having participated in the U.S. Soccer Residency Program in Florida and captained the U.S. team at the Pan American Games.

"Nick always set the standards for me and Erik," Greg said. "He was a good role model."

Erik, 18, plays football at Washington, where an injury has kept him from being the kicker this fall.

Nick said his parents created an atmosphere that allowed skills to blossom.

"My parents put us in soccer to get us running around," said Nick, who will turn 23 on Nov. 5. "I got into kicking in middle school and knew a player a year ahead of me who kicked and played soccer."

At Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, Calif., Nick, a four-year letterman in football and soccer, hit a 52-yard field goal. But his conscientious attitude and willingness to help teammates most impressed football coach-athletic director Kevin Rooney.

"He's a good guy," Rooney said. "He was a very good student. When I was watching him on TV Monday, I was making a lot of noise. He's doing so well."

Though Nick, 6-foot-1 and 222 pounds, had chances at college soccer scholarships, he found the best fit in the Arizona football program. He steadily improved to become a first-team All Pac-10 punter. He hit a 62-yard field goal in the Wildcats' 2006 spring game.

"He's the kind of guy that you dream about coaching because of his work ethic and his attitude," said Joe Robinson, the Wildcats special teams coordinator who nicknamed Folk "Slick Nick" because of his shaved head. "It's really hard for kickers to establish themselves as team leaders. I've never seen anyone who so influences others."

Folk frequently calls his former Wildcats teammates.

"He's a fun guy and very laid-back," said Arizona long snapper Garon McHone. "He's also perfect under pressure. I was watching the expression on his face Monday night. It was really cool. In that kind of situation, if you make the kick, you're the man."

Arizona kicker Jason Bondzio said Folk inspired confidence in other kickers.

"He always told me that an extra point should look the same as a 50-yard field goal in terms of trajectory," Bondzio said. "I think he could have made that 53-yarder from 65 yards."

Tony knows his son's contract does not let him take the risks involved in his hobbies of skiing and snowboarding. But Tony pointed out that a family has to relax somehow, right?

"Fly-fishing doesn't violate his contract," Tony said. "He loves to go. It's a good way of relaxing."

As for his first experience with Texas life, Folk said it agrees with him.

"We have some of the greatest athletes in the world -- T.O., Tony Romo," Folk said. "You learn a lot and want to pass it on to the younger guys. I like everything about being here."

Cathy Harasta is a Dallas-based freelance writer.

Track star girlfriend pushes Texas' Ross

Track star girlfriend pushes Texas' Ross

Former Texas Longhorns cornerback Aaron Ross might have an extra edge among NFL draft hopefuls, Cathy Harasta writes. He gets to train with his girlfriend, Sanya Richards, a world-class track star.

Updated: April 2, 2007, 4:23 PM ET
By Cathy Harasta | Special to

AUSTIN, Texas -- Former Texas Longhorns cornerback Aaron Ross might have an extra edge among NFL draft hopefuls. He gets to train with a world-class athlete whose Olympic gold medal reminds Ross that hard workouts produce shining moments.
Sanya Richards, the world's top-ranked 400-meter runner, also happens to be Ross' girlfriend of 3½ years. She has helped position Ross, the 2006 Thorpe Award winner as the nation's top defensive back, as a projected first-round pick in the NFL draft April 28.
Aaron Ross
Josh Merwin/US PRESSWIRECornerback Aaron Ross, who led Texas with six interceptions last season, is also a fine punt returner. He returned three punts for TDs at UT.

When Ross first glimpsed Richards at the Texas Relays, he had no idea of her achievements. The attraction began with the most basic of instincts.
"I saw her," he said, a grin widening across his face, "and I really liked how she looked."
But their rapport deepened, the relationship bloomed, and he has been keeping up with her ever since. Well, maybe not every step of the way.
Their 20-minute runs and weight-lifting sessions have given them time together in their fast-paced lives and have helped prepare Ross for the NFL. Her influence spread from the track to the dining table; Richards said Ross will pass up a steak to follow her lead of grilled chicken and steamed veggies.
She really puts him to the test, however, when he joins her in one of her track workouts.
"Sometimes, it's maybe 10 200s," Richards said of her sprint series. "He'll do as many as he can."
Not that other support systems didn't kick in for Ross. A loving family and high school sports success boosted his chances at Texas, where Ross helped lead the Longhorns to the 2005 national championship. "They were made for each other," Ross' mother, Cheryl, said of her son and Richards. "They're so close. They encourage one another. They remind each other that good things come to those who wait."
Aaron Ross and Sanya Richards
Erich Schlegel for ESPN.comRoss and Richards balance their relationship and sports careers. "The No. 1 thing is that we always talk things over," she says.
Waiting forced Ross, 24, to do some soul-searching between his high school and college careers. But he made crucial strides after a setback that would have demoralized many promising young football players. After he signed a letter of intent in February 2001 to attend Texas the following fall, a high school transcript mix-up forced him to wait two years to become a Longhorn. The missing credit involved a ninth-grade course that was not offered every term. A paper chase ensued. Ross had split his high school years between San Antonio, his birthplace, and Tyler, Texas. The transcript resolution was so protracted that Ross stayed in Tyler and worked odd jobs before eventually retaking the class in question with high school freshmen and sophomores. He felt out of place and frustrated while waiting to get to UT. But writing poetry helped Ross cope with his emotions. As a high school junior, he had discovered the art of putting rhyme to words when adversity overwhelmed him. His mother, a San Antonio resident, said her son found solace in writing poetry because it instilled patience. And it was a poem that first allowed him to tell his mom how much she meant to him. "I'm not good with words," Ross said, "but I speak from the heart." He said he's now grateful for having sat out the two years because he continued to work out and gain maturity. "The most impressive thing about Aaron is that he has a great heart and he wants to do what's right," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "He's been so passionate about trying to do what's right to be successful. He's not sensitive. He doesn't get his feelings hurt easily when you try to coach him." Ross, named Longhorns captain his senior season, won over teammates, coaches and others with his attitude. "He's so patient," said Richards, who last season broke Valerie Brisco's 22-year-old American record in the 400 (48.83 seconds) with a time of 48.70. "He had to sit out two years and then as a second-string player at Texas, he always had a smile on his face. "He'll always be a trouper."
Projected as first-round pick

Ross and Richards fed off each others' insights to post career years in 2006. Although both said they look forward to the draft, they expect the day to be suspenseful.
Scouting report: Aaron Ross
Strengths: Has fluid hips, shows a second gear when tracking the ball and can turn and run with receivers vertically.

Weaknesses: Lacks ideal upper-body strength, hasn't shown the ability to consistently slow receivers down at the line of scrimmage and frequently gives receivers a big cushion.

Complete scouting report Insider

Ross is one of four cornerbacks projected to go in the first round in the latest mock draft by draft analyst Todd McShay. The others are Michigan's Leon Hall, Pittsburgh's Darrelle Revis and Arkansas' Chris Houston. Ross' teammate, safety Michael Griffin, is also projected to go in the first round by McShay.
The 6-foot-½, 197-pound Ross led Texas last season with six interceptions, and his 80 tackles ranked third on the team. His position coach, Texas co-defensive coordinator Duane Akina, said it shortchanges Ross to call him merely a cover cornerback.
"We talk about that like it's an insult," Akina said. "He's very much an excellent cover cornerback, but he's also a very tough and physical player. He's very unselfish."
Said Ross: "I feel like I'm one of the best defensive backs. I hope the [NFL] coaches see the same thing. [But] you don't know until the phone rings."
Aaron Ross and Sanya Richards
Erich Schlegel for ESPN.comRoss and Richards, an Olympic champion sprinter, often work out together.

That's why he and Richards, 22, have left little to chance.
"We always watch film together and pick out things we see," said Richards, who was born in Jamaica and became a U.S. citizen in 2002. "The No. 1 thing is that we always talk things over."
Richards finished 2006 ranked No. 1 in the world in the 400 by Track & Field News. She went undefeated at that distance and posted the four fastest times in the world. Track & Field News named her the Woman Athlete of the Year, as did the International Association of Athletics Federations.
Ross, who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds at the combine in February, and Richards said they have never officially raced each other. They vary their running and weight training based on where they are in their respective seasons. Richards, who graduated from Texas last year, lives in Austin and trains three or four days a week in Waco, about a 90-minute drive north.
Despite having speed in common, Ross and Richards aren't taking the fast track to the altar. Patience has factored into their life plan. Both now focus on what they want to achieve in their respective sports.
Richards said they plan to get married in 2009, after she competes in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where she could be the face of Team USA. Ross was practicing with the Longhorns and couldn't attend the 2004 Games in Athens, where Richards helped Team USA win a gold medal in the 4x400 relay.
"Man, the 400 is a beast," said Ross, who ran the 100 and 200 in high school.
But as is sometimes customary with two-career couples, Ross and Richards will be together only in spirit April 28. He expects to be surrounded by family and teammates in Austin during the draft while she is competing in the Penn Relays in Philadelphia.
Richards said she expects to receive Ross' draft news by text message. Perhaps he will send word in a poem.
Ross read one of his poems when he accepted the Thorpe Award. It honored those he loved. In one of the couplets devoted to Richards, Ross acknowledged how much of a game-breaker she was in his development: "Before the season we vowed to be our best and with you at my side it was hard to be anything less." Cathy Harasta is a freelance writer based in Dallas. She may be reached at

Malone Beats Odds to Reach Vancouver: Texas speedskater wouldn't be denied after trading in his wheels for blades

Malone beats odds to reach Vancouver

Texas speedskater wouldn't be denied after trading in his wheels for blades

Updated: January 24, 2010, 3:21 PM ET
By Cathy Harasta/Special contributor |

DENTON, Texas -- The Unicorn Lake neighborhood in a football-focused college town didn't have a flashy sports bar when Jordan Malone, his roller skates stirring up a fine dust, followed his mother's moped on the subdivision's streets some dozen years ago.
He was 12, fighting dyslexia and asthma, on the day his mom, Peggy Aitken, bumped the moped into a curb and fell off. They'd decided that she would follow him while he skated on that day, trying to increase his times. She'd hurt her shoulder, but it wasn't that serious.
Malone's resolve was.
[+] EnlargeJordan Malone
Doug Benc/Getty ImagesJordan Malone of Denton, Texas, fell short in an attempt to qualify for the 2006 Olympics after breaking his ankle a month before the trials. He didn't miss out on this year's team.

His coaches, teammates and family said that nobody defines "serious" quite like Malone, who won a spot on the five-man U.S. Olympic Short-Track Speedskating Team for the Vancouver Winter Games that open on Feb. 12.
When Malone qualified for the team in September, most of his hometown was concentrating on football. University of North Texas coach Todd Dodge conducted his weekly radio show from the 2-year-old PourHouse Sports Grill, just blocks from where Malone learned to skate.
But on a misty January night, the lively bar showed taped short-track speedskating as more than 100 people gathered in support of Denton's Olympian.
"It's unique to have a hometown boy in the Winter Olympics," bar owner Rick Moore said. "We're in uncharted waters, or, I should say, on uncharted ice."
Prominent in the crowd was Malone's grandmother, Mimi Aitken, congenial, excited and wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with "Jordan Malone, USA."
"I had it made in preparation four years ago," she said. "It's a storybook tale. Mind you, he wasn't born an athlete. He worked dreadfully hard every step of the way. He just knew he'd have to work harder and longer. He never looked for a handout."

Dream delayed

Malone's 2006 Olympic dream ended at the trials, where he skated valiantly on a broken ankle -- just one in a series of injuries that he took in stride during a roller sports career that took him around the world and to the sport's summit. The former world inline champion switched to ice in 2004. The next year, he won a world bronze medal as a 5,000-meter relay member.
Many of his supporters said that they admired the wiry, eager kid whom they recalled from a now-defunct Denton roller rink. They vowed to attend Malone watch parties at the PourHouse during the Vancouver Olympics.
"This means the world to my son," said Peggy Aitken, who moved with her son from Colorado to Denton when Malone was 10 months old. "He broke his ankle a month before the 2006 Olympic trials, had surgery three weeks before the trials and still finished seventh."
Malone's Olympic debut will reward him for his endurance. He has had almost every injury known to athletes in the course of the 20 years since he first put on a pair of skates at age 5.
He will skate in the 500 and 1,500 meters and the 5,000-meter relay in Vancouver. Those closest to Malone, 25, said that he defies the notion that Texans who grow up far from frozen ponds can't cut it in the Winter Olympics.
"I've never seen any of the Olympic sports live except for hockey," Malone said by phone from training in Salt Lake City. "I'm getting more excited about Vancouver every day. But at the same time, we're going through our normal routine. I think that when we're on the plane on the way to Vancouver is when I'll say, 'Holy crap, this is awesome.'"
Longtime Denton businessman Frenchy Rheault, a Dallas Cowboys season-ticket holder, might have been among the few at the PourHouse who has steeped himself in Winter Games lore. But for those who had forgotten, or never knew, that Herschel Walker made the U.S. Olympic Bobsled Team for the 1992 Albertville Games, Malone has become the man of the hour.
"Jordan will be going up against the world," Rheault said. "This is really special. I love the Olympics. I love short track."

Against all odds

Malone's Grandma Mimi, who lives in the Denton County town of Sanger, about 50 miles northwest of Dallas, said her grandson always has amazed her.
When Malone suffered a partial tear of the ACL in his left knee in October, his grandmother barely flinched, though the last thing his family wanted was to have an injury cost him an Olympic berth again.

I take it one lap at a time. When you have 27 laps, and seven to go, you just tell yourself that this is just one lap.
-- Olympic speedskater Jordan Malone

"Mind you, he had a lot going against him," she said. "As a child, he was undersized. He had ADHD [attention deficit hyperactivity disorder], dyslexia and asthma. He overcame it all. He'd say, 'There's nothing wrong with me, Grandma.'"
The knee injury might have presented Malone, 5-foot-6 and 140 pounds, with a brutal flashback to the broken ankle that thwarted his 2006 bid. Instead, he got to work strengthening his hamstrings and doing everything possible to compensate for the sketchy ligament.

"His knee doesn't seem to be a factor," U.S. short-track assistant coach Larry Daignault said. "He looks stronger than ever. He's amazing."
Malone said that he expects no trouble with his knee.
"Our sport isn't hockey," he said. "It isn't soccer. I take it one lap at a time. When you have 27 laps, and seven to go, you just tell yourself that this is just one lap."
He brings a spark to the team, said Malone's Olympic teammate J.R. Celski of Federal Way, Wash.
"Jordan is probably the most full-of-life person I've ever met," said Celski, who will room with Malone in Vancouver. "There's not a day that he doesn't make you laugh. Texas is not known for brewing Winter Olympic athletes. It's pretty cool."

Malone said that some of inline racing's tactics apply to short track. He said the U.S. team, which includes five-time Olympic medalist Apolo Anton Ohno, wanted to train at the Vancouver Olympic venue.
"They wanted $25,000 an hour," Malone said. "They didn't want us to do anything on it."
But an ice surface no longer is foreign to Malone. His route home to Denton last year, when he got to spend April near the streets where his career began, went through Bulgaria, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands.
"I always love getting home," he said. "I get to be lazy. When I'm away, I miss my barber and eating at Master Grill and Golden Fried Chicken. I can't find anything to match it."
Cathy Harasta is a Dallas-based writer who covered the last six Winter Olympics.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

As Century Ends, Legend of Thorpe Stays Strong

As Century Ends, Legend Of Thorpe Stays Strong
The Dallas Morning News
SHADY SHORES, Texas - Bob Wheeler parted the weeds at a northeastern Pennsylvania grave site 31 years ago to find a piece of American history shrouded in mystery. Then and there, Wheeler - a high-school student from Rochester, N.Y. - vowed to move whatever mountains stood in the way of justice for the late Jim Thorpe.
Wheeler and his family had attended a game at Yankee Stadium. He persuaded his parents to make a side trip to the town of Jim Thorpe, Pa., before driving home.
The detour was only the beginning of Wheeler's 15-year, 28-state, 12,000-mile odyssey. After viewing Thorpe's mausoleum, untended and forgotten, Wheeler devoted himself to getting authorities to reinstate the 1912 Olympic gold medals that had been stripped from Thorpe.
"Jim Thorpe had been my hero since I chose him for the subject of an oratory contest when I was in the seventh grade," Wheeler said recently at his home near Denton. "He riveted me and inspired me because of the honor and sincerity with which he competed."
Wheeler, president of an Arlington, Texas-based public relations firm, and his wife, Dr. Florence Ridlon, a sociologist, united their skills and tenacity to champion the cause of the great multi-sport athlete, a Sac and Fox Indian born in Oklahoma Territory in 1888.
Ridlon, as it turned out, found the critical evidence that proved Thorpe had been improperly stripped of the medals he won in the pentathlon and decathlon at the Stockholm Olympics. She found the pivotal document in 1982 - 69 years after the medals were revoked.
In 1913, the Amateur Athletic Union and the American Olympic Committee (now the U.S. Olympic Committee) found Thorpe guilty of professionalism because he had played in some baseball games with the Rocky Mount (N.C.) Railroaders of the East Carolina League in 1909-10.
Avery Brundage, Thorpe's teammate on the 1912 U.S. Olympic team, served as International Olympic Committee president from 1952-72. Brundage, who finished sixth in the pentathlon and failed to complete the decathlon in Stockholm, never used his power to restore the medals to Thorpe, who died in 1953, or to his survivors.
Wheeler said that travesty and an atmosphere of rigid mind-sets impelled him on his quest.
He chose Thorpe for the subject of his thesis toward his master of arts in American history from Syracuse University. In 1975, Wheeler published a wrenchingly detailed biography, "Jim Thorpe: World's Greatest Athlete."
Thorpe, a world-class high-jumper and three-time All-American in football, played pro football and baseball. He was an outstanding golfer, swimmer, rower, gymnast and tennis player. He excelled at basketball, bowling and billiards. He was masterful at handball, figure skating, hockey, lacrosse, hunting and fishing. And Wheeler cited a 1913 news clip that listed Thorpe as the winner of a ballroom dancing contest.
Thorpe's son Bill, 71, a retired LTV employee who lives in Arlington, said he admired the energy and persistence of Wheeler and Ridlon.
"You've got two of the finest people alive in Bob and Flo," Bill said. "Bob went on the road with his tape recorder. His biography of Dad was the best to ever come out. Bob and Flo never gave up."
Said Wheeler: "It would have been unconscionable not to pursue setting the record straight about Jim Thorpe.
"In my heart, I wanted to get Jim Thorpe's medals restored because it was the right thing to do."
Across the country
In gathering material for his book, Wheeler began by spending one summer hitchhiking to towns in 17 states. He interviewed Thorpe's family, friends, teammates and competitors.
Wheeler said he left home that summer with $200 and returned with about the same amount. He said people were eager to help him, often inviting him to stay in their homes.
From a rocking chair in Gettysburg, Pa., former president Dwight Eisenhower, who played football at West Point, told Wheeler what it had really been like to try to tackle Thorpe. Ike had missed, colliding with a teammate instead, the general told Wheeler.
"It was like interviewing your grandfather," Wheeler said. "When I was getting ready to leave, he pulled out his wallet and offered me money because he didn't want me hitchhiking."
During his quest, Wheeler shot holes in a number of myths that surrounded Thorpe. There had been accounts making the rounds for decades questioning Thorpe's grades. Among Wheeler's discoveries was a report card in the possession of a retired schoolteacher who had instructed Thorpe at the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania. The teacher's notation indicated he was a "very good" student.
Some reports had said Thorpe spent the sea voyage to the 1912 Stockholm Olympics in a hammock, basically goofing off. Wheeler opened a streamer trunk owned by one of Thorpe's survivors and found a photograph showing the decathlete jogging around the ship's deck to train during the passage.
Wheeler also documented that Glenn S. "Pop" Warner, the legendary football innovator who coached Thorpe at Carlisle, sent the athlete to the playing stint of summer baseball that formed the crux of the medal-stripping.
"You could say Pop Warner mandated it," Wheeler said. "Pop made the telephone call to the manager."
Thorpe made $15 a week playing summer baseball.
Despite Wheeler's discoveries that aided the public perception of Thorpe, Wheeler still lacked documentation that could hold up legally in reclaiming the medals. In 1973, the AAU had restored Thorpe's amateur status, but nothing had changed regarding the Olympic medals.
In February 1982, Wheeler and Ridlon founded the Jim Thorpe Foundation in Washington, D.C., using proceeds from sales of his book.
"The Summer Olympics were coming up in Los Angeles in 1984," Ridlon said. "We were afraid it might be the last time for the Summer Olympics to be in this country, and that it might be Jim Thorpe's last chance. It was a matter of timing."
Desperate to keep the quest alive, Wheeler chose to make ends meet by caddying at the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., where he could talk up his foundation's work.
"We were living on nothing," Ridlon said. "All these people did what they could to help us."
At the country club, the golfers not only embraced the Thorpe cause in spirit, but they opened their wallets. Wheeler opened his hand one day to look at the tip from a golfer and found $2,000 with a note to use it for the foundation's crusade.
Florence Ridlon said she and her husband had found the IOC unresponsive and arrogant. She sought a rule book from the 1912 Olympics.
"The IOC said there were no rules or regulations written for that Olympics," Ridlon recalled. "These international Olympic people still had no sense of the issue."
So, on a July day in 1982, she stood among the metal shelves in an off-limits area of the Library of Congress. The sports archivist had given her permission to search the stacks. Some instinct she still can't pin down made her stick her arm down behind the shelves.
She groped around until her hand made contact with . . .
"It was a little pamphlet kind of thing with an orange cover," she said. "It had slipped down behind a set of metal shelves. When I saw it, I just stood there in shock. Nobody was around; I probably could have screamed, but I was actually breathless. I don't think I could have spoken. I still get emotional about it."
Wheeler said he remembered she was crying when she phoned him at the foundation that day.
She had found a copy of the Swedish rules and regulations for the 1912 Olympics. Rule 13 read: "Objections to the qualification of a competitor must be made in writing and be forwarded without delay to the Swedish Olympic Committee. No such objection shall be entertained unless accompanied by a deposit of 20 Swedish Kronor and received by the Swedish Olympic Committee before the lapse of 30 days from the distribution of the prizes."
Almost seven months had passed between the time that Thorpe was awarded his medals in Stockholm and the revelations that led to his disqualification. The document that Ridlon found contained the legal technicality that she and her husband could take to the authorities.
"Flo is the smartest person I've ever met," Wheeler said of his wife of 28 years. "The historical ending wouldn't have been possible without her."
Wheeler said he found an ally in William E. Simon, a former USOC president who lobbied the top levels of the Olympic movement. Simon urged Samaranch to propose restoring Thorpe's amateur status. The IOC executive board passed the resolution on Oct. 13, 1982. Thorpe's daughter, Gail, was quoted at the time: "My father is the only person who has had to win the same medals twice."
The original medals, believed to have been stolen from a museum in Scandinavia, never turned up. Samaranch gave replicas to Thorpe's children during a Jan. 18, 1983, ceremony in Los Angeles.
Wheeler and Ridlon were included in most of the festivities. The next year, Wheeler went to work in public relations for ABC Sports, whose officials told him they liked the thoroughness of his Thorpe crusade.
Crusade created new career
Red boxing gloves used by Muhammad Ali decorate one wall of the study in Wheeler's lakeside home, where he and his wife live with their son, Rob, 10.
Wheeler is president of The Avail Group, which handles public relations and event management.
Most of the artifacts in the Wheeler home reflect sports history.
The upstairs hallway is a literal shrine to the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. One collage features a picture of Vinko Bogataj, whose spectacular fall during a ski-jumping competition provided the signature "agony" video for ABC's "Wide World of Sports."
Wheeler, ever the sports documentarian, matter-of-factly said Bogataj now drives a forklift in a chain factory in Transylvania.
One wall is dedicated to Thorpe. The words, "To Great Friends," are inscribed on a photograph of Thorpe's son, Chief Jack Thorpe, posing with Wheeler and Ridlon.
"When I walk down the hall," Wheeler said, "I just get such a great feeling."
As the 20th century winds down, sports historians and media companies, reviewing a hundred years of athletic achievements, have sought out Wheeler. ESPN interviewed him as a source for its countdown of the century's best athletes.
But does Wheeler think Thorpe has the support to outduel more recent superstars, such as Ali and Michael Jordan, for the honor of the century's top athlete?
"If people are informed, Jim Thorpe would win," Wheeler said. "What he's got against him is that voters were not alive when Thorpe was in his prime."
Copyright (c) 1999 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


Shoemaker Still Reins Supreme

But At 56, He`s Looking Forward To A Future As A Trainer

May 22, 1988|By Cathy Harasta, Dallas Morning News.
    •  16
ARCADIA, CALIF. — It rained on the morning of March 19, 1949, the day a stringy, 17-year-old exercise rider named Bill Shoemaker forgot to wear an extra pair of goggles. The Golden Gate Fields track in Albany, Calif., was an orbit of mud for Shoemaker`s inaugural race as a jockey.
His mount, a filly named Waxahachie, was a familiar companion from early morning exercise gallops. But the mud congealed on Shoemaker`s goggles during the six furlongs. He could not see where he was going, and Waxahachie went on to finish an unremarkable fifth.
Shoemaker, however, went on and on. He remembered to wear spare goggles on wet days. And he went on to an unprecedented riding career, including more thoroughbred victories (more than 8,750), stakes race titles (991), earnings
(more than $119 million) and purses of more than $100,000 (248) than any other jockey.
In his 40th year of riding, Shoemaker is looking ahead and preparing for the longer run, the time beyond riding.
Oh, his eyes are sharp and his hands steady as ever. The end still is not in sight. After-some say if-Shoemaker retires from riding, he says his new tack likely will be training horses. And Shoemaker is preparing for that time, getting up early to work the horses stabled in the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Charlie Whittingham at Santa Anita Park.
``I enjoy the morning parts now as much as the afternoons of racing,``
said Shoemaker. ``Maybe I even enjoy the mornings more. When I don`t think I can do it (ride) physically, I won`t do it.``
It is that simple for the soft-spoken, Texas-born horseman, who says he never has forgotten a horse among the thousands he has coaxed to the finish.
``Forget Waxahachie?`` said Shoemaker, who lives in nearby San Marino with his wife Cindy and their 7-year-old daughter, Amanda. ``Never. That was the beginning.``
- - -
The beginning was a humble one for William Lee Shoemaker, born in the West Texas farm community of Fabens. Though he says many of the stories about his birth have been embellished over the years, the one about the shoebox as his first cradle is true.
Shoemaker`s maternal grandmother, Maudie Harris, tenderly arranged the infant, who weighed about two pounds, in a pillow-lined shoebox and warmed the box on the open oven door.
``That one`s true,`` Shoemaker said with a laugh. ``They kept me warm.``
But Shoemaker said tales of his Depression-era childhood that included picking cotton have been exaggerated. It was not strictly a time of toil, he said.
``We had a great time,`` said Shoemaker, who lived on a ranch near Winters, Tex., after his parents divorced. ``I was on a ranch and around horses. It was fun, and I enjoyed myself with my grandmother and grandfather. I have happy memories of Texas.``
He rode his first horse on that ranch near Abilene when he was 4 or 5, using a nearby fence as a ladder to climb onto the old horse`s back. Shoemaker said that mount might have been exhilarating for a preschool child, but it was years before riding became his mission.
When Shoemaker was 10, he moved to El Monte, Calif., with his father. His father, B.B. Shoemaker, found work in a tire factory.
He was a freshman at El Monte High when he first learned from a schoolmate what a jockey was. Shoemaker went to work on a La Puente ranch, where he made up his mind to become a jockey. He dropped out of high school to work and board at the ranch, where the atmosphere provided him with the focus that was to become his destiny.
Harry Silbert, who died in 1987 at the age of 75, became Shoemaker`s agent in 1949 and booked almost all of Shoemaker`s mounts. Shoemaker, who lived with the Silbert family when he was starting out, regarded Harry as a father figure and overriding career influence. In his recently published autobiography, ``Shoemaker: America`s Greatest Jockey,`` Shoemaker wrote of Silbert: ``We never had a contract, and we never had an argument. He took me on as a kid and made me a man.``
- - -
Alan Sherman, a 19-year-old apprentice jockey at Santa Anita, said Shoemaker never puts on airs.
``He has been my idol all my life, and now I play cards with him in the jockeys` room,`` Sherman said. ``He plays little jokes on you, like sneaking up behind you and pressing a warm steel coffee spoon against your arm.``
Between games of ``racehorse rummy,`` which pass the time for jockeys waiting for their races, Sherman said Shoemaker, if urged, will tell stories of long-ago horses. Sherman said he is amazed at Shoemaker`s longevity.
Said Sherman, ``I don`t think I`ll still be riding when I`m 56. He just loves the sport so much.``
- - -
Shoemaker attributes his long career to three factors: ``I`ve had some injuries, but I have not had a career-breaking injury,`` he said. ``And as a natural lightweight, I don`t have to reduce. Also, I`ve had good horses to ride.``
Others say Shoemaker brings out the best in virtually every horse he rides.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Cathy Harasta: Michael's Life: A Gift To All Who Knew Him

Cathy Harasta: Michael's Life: A Gift To All Who Knew Him: Michael’s Life: A gift to all who knew him Young Knight championed the cause of epilepsy awareness By Cathy Harasta The Texas Catholic Debb...

Monday, October 14, 2013


Mitt Saves The Games

July 28, 2001|By CATHY HARASTA; The Dallas Morning News

DALLAS — Meet Mitt Romney -- or you'll wish you had.
For those not yet acquainted with the Salt Lake Organizing Committee's president, ``smooth'' doesn't even begin to describe this man's methods in bringing respectability to a financially challenged Olympic Games edition.
Every Olympic move Romney has made has been swift to the extent that you wonder if he is Mark Spitz in a business suit.
Romney might not have intended to maneuver himself into the role of resurrector of a needy U.S. Olympic movement. But that's what happened.
The latest in a series of significant milestones for the Romney tenure occurred last week. SLOC -- a candidate for last rites not so long ago -- moved into the realm of potential profitability. This is the same SLOC that owned a $379 million budget deficit in February 1999, when Romney took control of a scandalized outfit that had sponsors turning squeamish.
But deals with Allstate Insurance Co. and Campbell Soup Co. last week helped balance SLOC's books, and then some.
This positive news for the Salt Lake City Winter Games, just more than six months away, followed a mid-July International Olympic Committee session in Moscow that underscored the United States' position as an outsider in the global Olympic movement.
New IOC president Jacques Rogge of Belgium has recognized the necessity of making the IOC's relationship with the U.S. Olympic Committee more buddy-buddy. He will visit Salt Lake City and USOC headquarters in Colorado Springs next month.
But the USOC still struggles in the leadership department. The able Scott Blackmun still retains the title of acting CEO. New USOC president Sandra Baldwin has demonstrated she wants to play ball with the global sports powers. But Baldwin still is new on the job, having won the post in December.
So make it Romney. No question he is the most plausible individual to shape the U.S. Olympic movement's charge toward improved status within the IOC. Watch him shape it by using charisma and contrivance -- quite a one-two punch.
From wondering if Salt Lake City should bow out and return the 2002 Games for re-assignment, Romney emerged as a capable budgetary wizard.
He has said the taxpayers would end up with a windfall -- magic words to taxpayers.
After the Olympic movement's worst scandal -- an influence-peddling saga that savaged Salt Lake City's image -- Romney has the 2002 Games positioned to make money. A sponsorship gap of about $47 million remains, but SLOC's contingency fund more than makes up for it. A recent report put SLOC $9 million in the black.
And to prove Romney has a sense of humor, SLOC recently released a list of Mitt's top 10 bloopers and a special commemorative pin embossed with ``Mitt Happens.'' The pin is shaped like a catcher's mitt.


By CATHY HARASTA The Dallas Morning News
Bela-force pushes gymnast past limit

The way Bela Karolyi saw it, you go for two.
He will be second-guessed for the rest of the Atlanta Games, maybe forever, but gymnastics was a team sport on this historic Tuesday evening. It was not just any medal, but a team gold medal. A team gold medal for a nation that had never won one in women's gymnastics.

So when Kerri Strug sprained her left ankle on the next-to-last vault in the final rotation, Karolyi did not stop her from vaulting once more."The team was a team formed by very strong personalities," he later would say.

What he did not say was that his personality prevailed, with the force of brass knuckles. Bela-force pushed gymnastics to this point, and, by gum, it would not let up now.

Karolyi did not stop Strug, though she told him she was unable to feel any sensation in her left leg after landing her first vault."She is a tough girl," he said. "This is toughness. We needed the second vault." He needed it.