Monday, April 22, 2013

“GO BIG OR GO HOME” - Cody Stephens 1994-2012

The Tarleton State University family honors those that have passed away within the past year at an annual ceremony known as Silver Taps. Amongst the several Texans honored was 18year old Cody Stephens who was recruited to play football for the Tarleton Texans.  Cody was a 6’9” 300 lb. offensive lineman from Crosby High School; he passed away in his sleep May 2012 of hypercardiomyopathy, a disease in which the myocardium becomes hypertrophied making it difficult for the heart to pump blood. Cody’s death weighed heavily on the hearts of the Tarleton Football family.

While Stephen’s condition was undetected, an Echocardiogram could have diagnosed the problem thereby allowing medical personnel to prescribe the remedy which might have saved his life. At Tarleton, athletes are required to take pre-season physicals that include screening for Sickle Cell, pre- and post-concussion,, and echocardiogram (EKG) stress tests. If Cody could have live long enough to make it to the campus pre-season physicals, his heart condition could have been detected.

Why is an EKG stress test NOT mandated for all pre-season physical exams at all level of play? The Texas University Interscholastic League (UIL) which governs high school sports mandates the same physical that has been used for decades in sports. With advances in medicine and technology, why hasn’t the UIL updated its screen procedures?

Scott Stephens, Cody’s father, has begun the “Go Big or Go Home” foundation to generate awareness of these heart conditions and is campaigning for the UIL to make heart screenings a routine part of physicals. The Stephens family has endured a great deal of sorrow in the loss of this magnanimous young man.  Please consider supporting this campaign to generate new policies for Texas High School athletes!.

For more information on the “Go Big or Go Home” foundation visit or

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Volunteering for the Perfect Job

Ever ask yourself, “What can I do to make myself more knowledgeable, or gain more experience in my career field”? There’s always the option of research, continuing education, or simply going out to apply for jobs in that field. The best way to gain experience in your chosen career field is to volunteer. To volunteer, means to willingly perform a service without pay, and doing so can help you gain contacts for networking, career experience, and other valuable job skills.

Having numerous contacts and networking with others in your profession can lead to a job that may not have been in the foreseeable future, or a career change and lead to higher job placement. It also helps to gain more career experience, and lets the volunteer know if this is the field that they really want to pursue. Lastly, it helps to gain valuable job skills by taking something you’re already good at and helping it to become great. For instance, if someone was to volunteer for a youth sports league and their responsibility was to increase awareness of the new league, they then have the opportunity to become more knowledgeable in marketing, public speaking, and communication.

Opportunities are always available, and to gain any kind of experience in a field that also helps an organization become better is more than anyone can ask for. Get out there, volunteer, and gain experience so you can get the job you truly desire.  Volunteering opportunities can be found in many places such as:
  • Places of worship like churches
  • Youth organizations
  • Online
  • Assisted living or nursing homes
  • The community

Friday, April 19, 2013

Clinical Exercise Research Facility (CERF)

The Clinical Exercise Research Facility (CERF) at Tarleton State University (TSU) offers health and fitness evaluations for students and members of the community.  The goal of CERF is to provide individualized safe and effective exercise prescriptions for those wanting lose weight and improve their overall fitness.  The exercise prescriptions, based on American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines, are focused around simple and positive lifestyle changes such as diet, exercise, and smoking cessation. The following equipment is used to evaluate health and fitness:
  • Mortara© Electrocardiogram (EGG):  Provides information about the heart during exercise.  An ECG can check for heart abnormalities while at rest and during exercise.  An exercise stress test is useful for individuals who are unsure of their cardiovascular health, but want to begin an exercise regimen.
  • VacuMed© VO2 & Lactate Plus© Analyzer:  Evaluates accurate fitness levels, and provides useful training information regarding ventilatory and lactate thresholds. A VO2 max stress test is beneficial to athletes who want to improve their fitness levels.
  • Cholestech LDX©: Measures cholesterol, glucose, triglycerides and hs-CRP with a simple finger prick.  
TSU Kinesiology graduate students and senior level Kinesiology interns are responsible for conducting health and fitness assessments in the CERF lab.  These students are able to obtain valuable real-world experience which prepares them for jobs in clinical, corporate or research settings as Exercise Science professionals.  These students are trained in using American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) exercise prescription guidelines, and check out CERF and let our students help you meet your fitness goals!

Epidemic of Cardiovascular Disease in the US

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is responsible for 1 out of every 4 deaths in the United States. Because CVD impacts such a disproportionately large number of Americans, it is considered to be an epidemic by many health professionals. Thus, it is important to understand what causes heart disease and how to prevent it.

CVD can be influenced by many local factors, but is primarily caused from poor nutritional habits and lack of exercise. Specifically, a thrombolytic blockage in arteries of the heart causes the cardiovascular system to increase its pressure load, creating more stress than it can handle. This blockage will create abnormally high blood pressure and will overwork the heart. CVD can also be influenced by type II diabetes and obesity.

To prevent or reverse CVD, Americans need to maintain a healthy diet and regular exercise regimen. Consuming excess foods that increase bad cholesterol (LDL), such as saturated fats, sugars, and sodium can raise the likelihood of developing type II diabetes and CVD. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that adults get 150 minutes of exercise each week.

If you or someone you know has a factor in CVD, it is vital to understand that this can be prevented and reversed!

Food & Metabolism

Everybody burns fuel (food) at different rates.  The rate at which you burn your fuel depends on your individual metabolism which can be impacted by your body’s reaction to stress and hormone levels, body ratio (lean muscle vs. fat), and physical activity.  Exercise and nutrition plans that might help one person lose weight, may cause another person to gain weight.   Therefore, it is important to choose a plan that is right for you.
When choosing a nutrition plan you should focus on foods which most effectively and efficiently fuel your body.  Haylie Pomroy, author of The Fast Metabolism Diet recommends that you focus on what is best for you and your metabolism.  Specifically, she states “The foods you eat and the lifestyle you choose should create energy and strength for you, not fatigue, obesity, sickness, desperation, or self-loathing.”  Many studies have revealed that “once you’ve slowed down your metabolism, the metabolic rate does not easily return to normal, even after resuming a normal diet.”  According to Pomroy, dieters who starve themselves end up sabotaging their progress.  “When you starve yourself, your body adjusts to subsist on a smaller number of calories by slowing down your metabolism. That means that whenever you go off your diet, you’re likely to gain weight with a vengeance. Your body is just trying to save you from future famine.” 
Take this into consideration when you are researching which nutrition plan, or diet as they are often called, is best for you.  Pay close attention to any strict or excessive restriction of any one nutrient.  In the end, a healthy, well-balanced nutrition plan will produce the most effective results and keep your metabolism charged.
Pomroy, Haylie, “The Fast Metabolism Diet” is available on

Golf: Player of the Year

Madrid, Spain native Isabel Jimenez Perea is a freshman at Tarleton State University (TSU). She started playing golf at the age of 7 quickly became a champion of the game. She has competed in many international tournaments such as the British Girl’s Championship, Portuguese International Championship, and the Madrid-Paris Match Play Championship. Isabel has had the honor of being one of five girls chosen from her state to represent Madrid in various tournaments.
After graduating high school in May 2012, Isabel was contacted by Coach Jerry Doyle about coming to Texas to play golf for Tarleton State University. After researching TSU and the women’s golf team, she made the decision to live in a new country (10-hours away from home by plane) and play golf for the TSU TexAnns. Competing in eight regular season tournaments, Jimenez Perea won three individual titles and placed in the top 10 in seven out of eight regular season tournaments. She had a stroke average of 76 per round leading up to the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference Championships.  Isabel and the rest of the TSU TexAnns won the Lone Star Conference Championship in mid-April and are now focused on winning the West Super Region IV Championship which will be held in Colorado in early May.     
Successful on and off the golf course, Isabel Jimenez Perea was awarded with two prestigious honors – 2013 Lone Star Conference Player of the Year as well as 2013 Lone Star Conference Freshman of the Year.

Controversy at The Masters

The Masters Tournament, often referred to as the Super Bowl of golf, is the most famed and cherished tournament in the golfing world. Yet the 2013 Masters Tournament was very controversial. 

Tiger Woods, one of golf’s greatest, had just regained his title of number one golfer in the world. As with most golf tournaments Tiger Woods has played in, the spotlight was shining bright on him the entire time especially on Hole 15. Woods took an approach shot to the green on Hole 15 which ended up bouncing off the flagstick and rolling off the green and into the water. When Wood’s took his drop for his next shot it appeared that he did what any normal golfer would do and drop it where he played his last shot. Tiger’s next shot landed beautifully on the green and set him up for a nice putt. Course officials noted the drop, OK’d it and let him finish his round. Tiger signed off on his scorecard to end his day, but that’s only the beginning of the story.

After multiple phone calls from at-home fans and reviews from the Rules Committee, Tiger was penalized 2 strokes for dropping his penalty shot 2-yds behind where he hit his first shot. Woods accepted the penalty, but not with good graces. Afterwards, Tiger made this comment about his shot and the ruling:  “Well, I went down to the drop area, that wasn't going to be a good spot, because obviously it's into the grain, it's really grainy there. And it was a little bit wet. So it was muddy and not a good spot to drop. So I went back to where I played it from, but I went two yards further back and I took, tried to take two yards off the shot of what I felt I hit. And that should land me short of the flag and not have it either hit the flag or skip over the back. I felt that that was going to be the right decision to take off four right there. And I did. It worked out perfectly.” (Fagan, 2013).  With this admittance to consciously dropping his next shot 2-yds back to have a better approach, Woods caught a lot of grief from fans and other golfers as well. 

Golf is a sport unlike no other. Sportsmanship and honesty is paramount. Many people believe he should have been disqualified by the officials or disqualified himself for the illegal drop. Critics say that he didn't handle it the “gentleman-way” and broke the unspoken, but highly encouraged, integrity of the game. 

With so many sports fans debating the fairness and integrity for this controversial shot, it is easy to question why fans don’t have a say in outcome of other sports. The answer is simple --- because then it wouldn't be a sport about the athletes, it would be about what the fans want to see. Was this an obvious 2-stroke penalty after review? Yes. Was the due-process handled correctly afterwards? I don’t believe so on the principle that during the round the officials ruled Tiger’s play fair. It’s a no-brainer --- the ruling on the field of play should stand and that should have been the end of it. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

DFW Dance Dream Teams

Audition season is in full swing in the Dallas professional dance world, and thousands of women are deciding which teams they will try out for this year. The largest auditions of the year are for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders (DCC), Dallas Mavericks Dancers (DMD), and the Dallas Stars Ice Girls (DSIG). Although many believe each audition requires the same elements, this is far from true. Similar elements required of each dancer include: the expectation that each is in great physical shape, at least 18 years of age, able to speak with confidence, able to perform in front of large crowds, and must reside in the Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) area.

The life of a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader (DCC) can be extremely challenging and busy.  The DCC directors have high expectations for those women who are fortunate to be chosen as a DCC.  Women auditioning for DCC are expected to be full-time students and/or hold a full-time job. The women are also expected to make multiple appearances throughout the season while maintaining a grueling practice schedule. Physical fitness is paramount as the dance style of DCC consists of high kicks, splits, and very stylized dance movements. Finally, those auditioning must be comfortable around cameras as the audition process is filmed for “Making the Team” which airs on CMT months after the team is selected.

Women auditioning for Dallas Maverick Dancers (DMD) are expected to be able to attend all rehearsals which are held three nights a week. The style of the DMD consists of hard hitting; highly energized pom and hip hop movements. The DMD must possess great fitness, power, and enthusiasm.  They are known for keeping the crowds entertained and energized.

Women auditioning for the Dallas Stars Ice Girls (DSIG) are expected to be able to attend all appearances and games throughout the season. This is one of the busiest teams in Dallas, as the Dallas Stars play in about 82 games a season although DSIG do not perform at away games. The DSIG style of dance consists of fast, stylized movements which incorporate several technical elements including turns, kicks, and controlled arm placements.

Although these teams provide a great career opportunity for any dancer, it is important to realize the expectations before walking into the auditions.  Preparation is the key to success!  All information for these teams can be found on the official websites of the Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Mavericks, and Dallas Stars.

Hydration & Athletic Performance

Coaches want their athletes to stay hydrated so they can perform at their greatest ability. Most coaches have a basic understanding of nutrition and they seldom rely solely on water to keep an athlete hydrated. Sports drinks (PowerAde, Gatorade, etc.), carbohydrates (Cliff bars, granola bars, apples, etc.), vitamins, and protein shakes should all be on the field and in the locker rooms before and after games to help athletes prevent dehydration and increase performance levels for longer periods of time.
Sports drinks that contain potassium, sodium, chloride and a few other elements are actually absorbed quicker than water alone (Dr. Donald Kirkendall). Protein has quickly become a staple for athletes before, during, and especially after workouts and games. A quick digesting protein such as whey (a derivative from cow’s milk) can provide muscles with much needed energy as well as defend against fatigue during a workout or game. Protein can also aid in speeding up muscle recovery (Dr. Donald Kirkendall). Many athletes lose weight due to excessive sweating; thus, vitamins C and E are essential in minimizing free radical buildup (Dr. Donald Kirkendall). Lastly, carbohydrates are crucial for fighting and delaying the effects of fatigue that often occur in endurance events (Dr. Donald Kirkendall).
By providing proper hydration information and techniques, coaches can enhance the potential athletic performance of each player on their team.  Hydration is essential to success and often is the key to preventing injuries during workouts and games.


Track & Field: Thrower Highlights

In the sport of Track & Field, track athletes often receive a lot of press coverage while field athletes are rarely highlighted. Today’s blog will focus on Tarleton State University sophomore Danyelle Dillard who currently competes in three throwing events – shot put, hammer, and discus. Standing at 6’1”, Danyelle was redshirted during her freshman year but has definitely come out ready to throw this year. Her preferred event is the shot put, but the hammer throw is quickly becoming her favorite event.

Danyelle has set a personal record (PR) in the shot put for each meet that she has thrown in this year. At the Tarleton Invitational she placed second in the shot with a throw of 12.67 meters. During the McMurry Meet, Danyelle won the shot put competition with a remarkable throw of 13.78 meters which qualified for a provisional mark for Nationals. At the third meet of the year, hosted by Angelo State University, Danyelle recorded a huge 1st place throw of 14.42 meters. This shot put mark broke the school record for Tarleton State University and secured a 16th place ranking in NCAA Division II. As long as she stays in the top 20, she will have the opportunity to compete at the National Track & Field Competition in May at Pueblo, Colorado.
A strong competitor, Danyelle Dillard has a bright future in Track & Field as an athlete and future coach.

You Make the Call

Imagine that you are playing in a golf tournament and have just played one of the best rounds of your life. Now imagine that the next day you receive a phone call informing you that someone was watching the tournament from their backyard and spotted you committing an infraction. This person called the tournament officials and reported the infraction which ultimately causes you to be disqualified from the tournament.

Sound ridiculous? Well this is essentially what the Professional Golf Association (PGA) allows from its viewers.

It happened this past weekend at the most prestigious golf tournament in the world --- The Masters. Tiger Woods was penalized two strokes Saturday after a rules committee deemed he violated one of golf's ball-drop rules during Friday's play. None of the tournament officials noticed the infraction nor did the two golfers in the group playing with Woods. "After being prompted by a television viewer, the Rules Committee reviewed a video of the shot (after the drop) while he was playing the 18th hole," Fred Ridley, the Augusta National Golf Club's competition committee chairman, said in a written statement. So why would the PGA allow a random viewer call a penalty on a professional golfer?

PGA golfer Bubba Watson said TV viewers shouldn't be able to affect how players make rule decisions. "So when somebody calls in like that, yeah, it shouldn't be that way, it shouldn't be allowed," Watson said. "Nobody calls in during a basketball game or a football game."   Watson has a point; none of the NBA, MLB, NHL, or NFL would dream of allowing a fan call in to report a penalty during a game or even after the game is over.

Should viewers be allowed to call penalties on pro athletes during competition? You make the call.

The 7 Rules of Good Nutrition

Nutrition may arguably be one of the most important decisions you make on a daily basis.  Sound nutrition is often overlooked today in America and is especially important to athletes and those involved in physical fitness.  In order to make lasting change in an individual’s diet you must make it simple.  That is why I have broken it down into the seven rules of good nutrition.  Before I go any further, I would like to pay a special thanks to Central College Strength & Conditioning for this information.  During my undergraduate S&C internship experience at Central College I partook in many nutritional meetings with countless athletes one on one.  During each individual consolation I shared these seven rules of good nutrition with each of them.

1. Eat Every 2-3 Hours- Keep your body fueled throughout the day.  By eating many smaller meals and snacks in between your body is unable to store these calories as fat and instead each calorie is utilized.
2. Eat a Lean Protein Source with Every Feeding- Aim for 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight.  Lean protein sources include chicken, beef, turkey, fish, eggs, pork, protein shakes, cottage cheese, ect.
3. Eat a Fruit/Vegetable with Every Feeding- Aim for 10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.  Also, eat as many different colors as possible (eat the rainbow).  Different colors of fruits and veggies correspond with different vitamins and minerals.
4. Time Up Your Carbohydrates For Best Times During the Day- Try to consume the majority of your carbs in the morning and pre and post-workout.  Avoid around dinner and before bed.
5. Drink Non-Calorie Containing Beverages Most of the Day- All beverages contain calories except water and green tea.  Aim for 1 gallon of water per day to avoid dehydration.
6. Eat Healthy Fats- All fat is not created equal.  Healthy fats include olive oil, fish oil, flax seed, and the fat found in eggs (omega-3).  Healthy fats are used as an anti-inflammatory and joint lubricant as well as an energy source.
7. Prepare Your Food Ahead of Time- This will help you to eat on the run and be able to eat every 2-3 hours.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Altitude Training for Endurance Athletes

Elite endurance athletes are usually traveling the world – not only for races, but for training. These athletes want to maximize their training, so they spend some time (usually a few weeks to a month) training at high altitude. Altitude training is generally found in mountainous regions at elevations above 4,000 feet.  In the United States, the best athletes in the world train at altitude hot spots such as Mammoth Lakes, California, Flagstaff, Arizona, and Boulder, Colorado.   However, these altitude hot spots are also popular for college and high school cross country teams with summer training camps being held to improve running and endurance.

Exposure to altitude training has many physiological benefits that can improve VO2 max. Some of these benefits include a more efficient circulatory system, increase in the number of red blood cells, a more efficient nutrient exchange, and an increase in mitochondria. These are the type of physiological changes that runners and cyclist seek for improving their fitness levels and enhancing performance. Altitude training is very difficult for athletes not acclimated to the elevation. Breathing is more difficult and athletes will often fatigue more quickly. However, because of the boost of aerobic benefits, returning to lower elevation makes it easier to train and race.

If you are a serious runner or cyclist, consider spending some time at a high altitude location to improve your training and boost your performance to another level. 

A Coaching Philosophy - Belief

The great thing about college football is that you get to choose your own players through recruiting. A team can add players up to the 14th day of school; at that point the roster is set. It is a coach’s job to prepare the athletes to be confident in what they are trying to accomplish on the field. Preparation equals confidence; athletes prepare during the off-season in strength, speed and agility work. At the end of 8-10 week off-season cycle, the athletes are tested in the areas of strength and speed.   Every player wants to know how much bigger, faster, and stronger they have gotten during the off-season grind. For athletes who do not reach their conditioning goals the coaches have two options – build them up or tear them down.  My coaching philosophy is that athletes should be ‘coached up’.
Assume a great defensive back runs a 40-yard dash in the 4.3 to 4.5 range.  If this same athlete is tested at the end of an off-season cycle at a 4.6 he is going to feel slow intrinsically. This is where confidence comes into play, if he feels slow he’s going to play slow.
Numbers don’t always tell the truth, there are great skill position players that don’t necessarily have the fastest 40 dash times – yet they are great players. If the athlete has great hips, balance and a dedication to his trade nothing will stop him for performing on the field except lack of confidence. A coach must ‘coach up’ a player otherwise he has failed to prepare that player through practice and motivation. Recruit good players and then coach them to believe in themself as well as believe in the coach in driving them to achieve greatness.

The Effectiveness of Team Bonding

In sports, we often see the potential of a team and how good they can be; however, they need that extra ‘umph’ to become a great team. In order for teams to be the best, they need to know each other on and off the court – team bonding is essential to success.
Team bonding is anything that is done as a team off the court and outside of the work area to enhance leadership, group cohesion, and conflict resolution. Team bonding activities are usually fun and adventurous activities that bring the team together in order to create a sense of belonging and commardere. Team bonding activities can be having dinner as a team, doing volunteer work together, or engaging in the adventure of a Ropes (Challenge) Course together.  All of these activities promote individual differences, develop team identities, and allows the emergence of leaders to become the voice of the team. Once these players have “broken the ice” and have something in common, it becomes easier to communicate in the practice and game arena and healthy bonds begin to form between teammates and even coaches. Team bonding helps to build communication, loyalty, and dedication which in turn helps the team succeed on and off the court.
As a coach, I recommend that you consider team bonding activities as the first step to making your team a success!

Coaching Football: Technique or Scheme?

Coaching football is a complicated profession often made more difficult by the fact that every armchair quarterback has an opinion. While some coaches focus more on coaching schemes other coaches focus more on technique; yet, both are important parts of the game of football. As a coach, I believe in the basics --- you can’t teach a baby to run until you teach that baby to walk. Likewise, a coach can’t teach an athlete new plays until that athlete learns how to perform the technique that will make him successful in the game.
Technique.  Many of today’s coaches have gone away from the fundamentals of football and this is one of the reasons that so many players are injured on the field. Players now do not know how to tackle correctly, thus causing injuries to themselves and to their opponents. ESPN recently wrote an article on Donnovan Hill who was paralyzed after making a tackle. The article asks the question whether or not proper tackling technique was taught? I would argue NO - Donnovan was not taught the proper tackling techniques. In the video of the tackle you can clearly see that Donnovan had his head down when he made the tackle. To make a safe tackle the tackler needs to have his head up. Technique could have saved Donnovan from this horrific accident.
Scheme. Scheme is great but only once technique is mastered. A coach in the first part of the season should take the first meeting to just talk about technique then move into installing his offense or defense. This allows players to learn the technique that is wanted before going to the practice field. Scheme will come along much better once technique is mastered. If a quarterback doesn’t know how to take a snap how will he be able to perform any part of the scheme?
Being a great coach is all about teaching. Anyone can tell a player where he needs to be on a play. It takes a great coach/teacher to show the player how to get there and the proper technique to be successful.

Importance of Fitness in Our Nation’s First Responders

Imagine this scenario:   Firefighters are enjoying a calm evening around the fire station and then suddenly they get a call for a structure fire.  The firefighters are expected to work at high aerobic capacities for at least the next hour in order to extinguish this fire.  The question is: Are the firefighters healthy enough to complete the task and survive? 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates that there are approximately 1.1 million active volunteer and career firefighters in the United States of America.  The vast majority of these firefighters are volunteers that serve rural communities with populations less that 25,000 people. The majority of career firefighters in the United States are required to pass some kind of physical fitness assessment, however volunteer fire departments around the country do not put an emphasis on physical fitness for their firefighters.

Contrary to common beliefs, the majority of on-duty firefighting deaths are not due to the actual fire the firefighters are trying to control, but instead due to underlying cardiovascular disease.  Approximately 45% of on-duty deaths are due to cardiac events, which occur mostly during fire suppression, training and alarm response (FEMA).  In order to help prevent this alarming trend, the National Institute for Occupation Safety and Health (NIOSH) has repeatedly suggested the need for annual ‘fitness for duty’ medical evaluations and the need for mandatory cardiovascular fitness and wellness programs for firefighters.

With these alarming statistics regarding the deaths and poor cardiovascular health of firefighters, it is crucial to inform this occupational cohort of the dangers of an unhealthy and sedentary lifestyle.  In order to prevent future deaths of our nation’s first responders, we should take the advice of NIOSH and implement mandatory fitness and wellness programs for firefighters.

Firefighter Fatalities Statistics and Reports', 2013) <

Coach Mike Rice: Anger Management

Rutgers University’s Head Men’s Basketball Coach, Mike Rice, was fired Wednesday, April 3rd for video footage that caught him physically and verbally abusing his athletes during practices. This video footage was leaked onto ESPN and many mainstream news channels on Tuesday, April 2nd. 

After watching the video footage of Coach Rice abusing his athletes, one might wonder what was done to try and prevent this behavior. In the videos, Coach Rice can be clearly seen abusing his athletes by hitting them with basketballs and shoving them, while also verbally abusing them using homophobic and vulgar language. Rutgers Athletic Director, Tim Pernetti, said that in the past “he personally reprimanded him, attended Mr. Rice’s practices and even assigned the university’s sports psychologist to work with the team” (Eder, 2013). Two weeks after officials were shown the video footage on November 26th, 2012 Rutgers suspended Mr. Rice for three games and fined him $50,000. Mr. Pernetti did not offer much explanation at the time other than to say that the punishment was related to incidents at practice involving players. 

Eric Murdock, the former Player Development Director at Rutgers University, released video footage of the abusive behavior to ESPN. Murdock had been outspoken about Rice’s behavior and felt that he was fired because of his forthcomings. University officials stated that Murdock left Rutgers University and could have actually kept working there (Associated Press, 2013). It was stated that “after Murdock left, he spoke with university officials about his allegations against Rice. He also used an open public records request to obtain hundreds of hours of videos of basketball practice. It's not clear who shot the original footage, but it was edited into the half-hour video later given to the university that touched off a scandal last week” (Associated Press, 2013). Murdock is filing a law suit against Rutgers for not fulfilling his employment demands and firing him for false reasons. 

After Mike Rice was fired from as Men’s Head Basketball Coach, Athletic Director Pernetti soon resigned his position on April 4th. This abusive situation has ruined many careers and has tarnished the image of Rutgers University. The verbal and mental abuse has surely left a lasting impression on the athletes on the receiving end of Rice’s tirades. Should we review the behavior of our coaches on and off the court and how they interact with their athletes?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Coaching Philosophy: Demerits or Punishment?

For years many dance teams have incorporated the use the merit/demerit system to enforce discipline into their programs. When a dancer forgets a practice item, shows up late, or doesn’t follow the rules they are given demerits. In order to participate in the upcoming performance and/or eliminate the possibility of losing a spot on the team roster, the dancer must work off demerits by earning merit points. But is this really the most effective way for coaches to deal with problems?

When I was in school, dance team members could work off demerits, or earn merit points, by buying water for the team, working more hours at fundraisers, and cleaning the locker room. Looking back, I believe that the coach was simply taking the easy way out and avoiding the underlying issue of making the dancer aware of the problem(s) that originally caused the demerit and correcting that negative behavior.

I have noticed that other athletic programs have harsher, on-the-spot punishments for athletes who fail to follow the team rules. For example, if a football player is late to practice he would be expected to run sprints or complete some type of physical punishment for his actions. Are these on-the-spot punishments more effective than demerit systems?

This year, my head coach and I incorporated the on-the-spot type punishments into our dance program. If one of our dancers was late to practice, we required them to stay after practice and run/workout to make up for the rule infraction. Although the team quickly got the message and started showing up on time, their parents became concerned that we were being too tough and did not like that we were not following the typical merit/ demerit system.  

As a coach, it is important to stress that the members of the dance team are receiving physical education credit, thus the strict discipline should be enforced. The physical consequences for breaking team rules will only make the dancers stronger in the long run.  I am trying to find the best way to transition my students into less of a demerit/ merit system, in hopes of building stronger discipline, and better athletes. The question is ‘will my parents support the plan to incorporate more physical consequences as form of punishment?’.

The Diet Craze: Non-Organic vs. Organic

Healthy eating should be a lifestyle, not a diet.  As I mentioned in my last blog,, I will discuss some popular diets as well as some styles of eating over the next several weeks.  After you read the pros and cons of the featured styles for eating healthy, you can decide which nutrition option best suits your lifestyle. 
Non-organic vs. organic food often caused heated debates among health wellness proponents.  But the main question is “what is the difference?”   An organic diet does not necessarily mean that you are eating healthier in the form of calories and nutrients.  Organic pertains to the way food is grown or raised. 
The guidelines listed below must be followed when fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and meat are labeled as organic.  These are the important differences between non-organic and organic foods.  The choice is yours, you decide!

Chemical fertilizers are used for the promotion of plant growth in fruits, vegetables, and grains.

Natural fertilizers like compost and manure are used to feed soil and grow fruits, vegetables, and grains.

Synthetic herbicides are used to kill weeds in crops.

Crops are rotated and weeds are removed by hand or mulch.

Synthetic insecticides are used to eliminate pests and disease in crops.

Beneficial insects and birds, mating disruptions or traps to reduce pests and disease in crops.  Spray pesticides, when used, are created from natural resources.

Animals used for meat or dairy products are given antibiotics, growth hormones and medications to increase growth, production, and prevent disease. Housing for these animals is often overcrowded and unsanitary.

Animals used for meat or dairy products are given organic feed and allowed access to outdoors.  They are also part of a plan that includes rotational grazing and clean housing.