Category Archives: Sports

Dorian Kail Does The White House

Yesterday’s “06880” post about the 25th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act — and the formation of a possible town commission on disabilities — resonated with Dorian Kail.

The Westport native manages the professional wheelchair division at New York Road Runners (including the marathon). She’s been awed by the accomplishments of the men and women who use wheels to run.

One of her top athletes — the fastest wheelchair marathoner of all time — is Tatyana McFadden. She won a lawsuit against her high school to allow wheelchair participants in sports.

Last week, McFadden invited Kail to the White House, to celebrate the ADA’s anniversary. McFadden and Kail met the president; Kail also had a quick conversation with Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Bob Dole (who as a senator helped pass the ADA).

Dorian Kail and Vice President Joe Biden.

Dorian Kail and Vice President Joe Biden, at the White House.

Thanks for all you’ve done, Dorian. Keep on pushing — and keep helping these remarkable athletes run.

Dorian Kail and Tatyana McFadden stroll through the White House.

Dorian Kail and Tatyana McFadden stroll through the White House.

Former senator Bob Dole -- now 92 years old -- asked for a selfie with Dorian Kail.

Former senator Bob Dole — now 92 years old — asked for a selfie with Dorian Kail.

Rob Brink’s Running Times

Usually, Dan Goldberg says, he and his friends don’t get each other birthday presents. A drink at a bar is a big deal.

But Goldberg’s 30th birthday present for longtime friend — and former Staples High School (Class of 2003) track teammate — Rob Brink made the New York Times.

On Thursday, the sports section described the caper. Goldberg — a private equity guy — flew in a top distance runner from Arizona to race with (and against) Brink, a grad student at Cornell University business school.

The kicker: that elite runner is a woman.

The Times story noted that Brink — the “most competitive person” Goldberg knows — regularly beats him, his twin Mark and their fellow runners. “It kind of feels like a present to ourselves,” Goldberg said, anticipating that Sara Slattery would kick Brink’s butt.

After all, she’d run a 1-hour, 13-minute half-marathon — 4 minutes faster than Brink’s personal best.

In Brink’s favor: 12 weeks before, Slattery gave birth to a baby girl.

The story — written in typical Times let’s-see-what-those-crazy-millennials-are-up-to style — describes Slattery’s gifts for Brink (running gear, energy tablets and a watch); the pre-game dinner at Goldberg’s apartment (at which Slattery described the pain of childbirth as “worse than racing”), and the combination of excitement and fear all the friends felt about the coming gender showdown (Brink will “say he hasn’t been training, which is a complete lie,” Goldberg said).

Sara Slattery and Rob Brink, at East River Park. (Photo/Hilary Swift for New York Times)

Sara Slattery and Rob Brink, at East River Park. (Photo/Hilary Swift for New York Times)

The 12-mile workout consisted of 8 1,000-meter intervals, drills, and 20-minute “jogs.”

Slattery gave Brink everything she had. She set a brutal pace. The race was all everyone — especially Goldberg and his buddies — hoped it would be.

During the last interval, Brink pulled ahead. Goldberg ran with him as inspiration. Near the end, they slowed down so they could finish together with Slattery.

Brink called Slattery “amazing.” Six weeks earlier, he said, “I was running an ultra-marathon. You were giving birth. I am totally wiped.”

He called it “the best birthday ever.”

(To read the entire New York Times story, click here. Hat tip: Rob Sobelman)

World Orphan Disease Community Gets A Local Push

MadisonMott is a relatively small Westport branding and marketing firm with a big portfolio.

madisonmott logoFrom funky Saugatuck digs, they handle logos, identity development, web design and massive content management platforms. Clients like the Yale School of Music, a French wine seller and a Puerto Rican property love MadisonMott’s blend of hip creativity and pure professionalism.

ClearPharma is a fledgling Westport company seeking to make a big name in the “orphan disease” world. They’re creating an online software platform called onevoice. It’s designed to build communities by providing the 2 things that patients and families who suffer from 7,000 rare illnesses most crave: emotional support and curated disease information.

Despite its international scope, MadisonMott is proud of its local roots. And onevoice creator Dan Donovan — a native Westporter — likes to use as many local resources as he can.

Their partnership was solidified thanks to Staples High School soccer. Donovan captained the state championship 1981 team. MadisonMott founder/CEO Luke Scott also played for the Wreckers, graduating 10 years later.

onevoiceShowing a flair for learning about new and totally unfamiliar subjects, Scott and his team jumped into the project. MadisonMott first created a logo for onevoice.

Very quickly, they moved onto more technical challenges. The online platform — to be rolled out later this year, linking thousands of diseases that pharmaceutical companies traditionally have not cared about, and medical researchers overlook. To promote the platform, MadisonMott built the product website. “It’s the coolest site I’ve ever seen,” Donovan says.

Donovan brought Scott to trade shows, including the World Orphan Drug Conference in Washington, DC. They left with 69 leads — nearly all of them solid. Donovan credits a lot of the success to MadisonMott’s deep understanding of what onevoice is trying to accomplish.

“They’re as much a part of us as my own team,” Donovan says.

“And they’re almost part of us,” Scott agrees.

A screen shot from the onevoice platform.

A screen shot from the onevoice platform.

“This is a very tangible thing,” Donovan — who had a long career in pharmaceuticals, then formed his own company focusing on medical publications — says.

“We’re meeting patients and families who are impacted every day by rare diseases. This is so meaningful.”

“We’re a marketing and branding company,” Scott says. “But it’s nice to know we can help impact lives.”

The marketing industry has already paid notice. The Connecticut Art Director’s Club presented MadisonMott with 2 gold awards, for the OneVoice logo and website.

Soon, the entire orphan disease community will take note too.

Cedar Point: Come On In, The Water’s Fine!

It’s called the Cedar Point Yacht Club. But don’t let the name fool you.

For 128 years, Cedar Point has had a low-key presence in Westport. More sailboat racing than “yacht,” with a clubhouse that’s more “house” than “club,” it exists in happy anonymity on Saugatuck Island, at the western edge of town.

There are no amenities. No fancy lounge or restaurant. No pool or sauna. No tennis courts. Cedar Point is simply a place where serious sailors of all ages, backgrounds and types gather to sail.

Cedar Point Yacht Club, from the air.

Cedar Point Yacht Club, from the air.

It’s one of Westport’s best-kept secrets. And if you’d like to see what this non-yacht-club yacht club is all about, here’s your chance.

This Saturday (July 18, 12-5 p.m.), Cedar Point will treat anyone who shows up as if they’re a member.

Watch the fleets go out to race. Enjoy hot dogs and a bouncy house for the kids. Walk the docks. Tour members’ yachts boats. Relax at the private beach.

There are also free classroom sailing lessons, and a free on-water sailing lesson (weather permitting).

And — keep this quiet — if you mention you’re an “06880” reader, William Adler will arrange for you to go out on a sailboat with a Cedar Point governor.

The club is on Saugatuck Island’s Bluff Point Road. Getting there is half the fun — by car or boat.

(For more information, email BobKarpel.CPYC@gmail.com)

Cedar Point Yacht Club logo

Remembering Jinny Parker

Jinny Parker — legendary Staples High School field hockey, volleyball, track coach and physical education teacher; national champion (women’s track team); fierce and outspoken girls’ sports advocate; state leader, and all-around great woman — died July 9 in New Hampshire. She was 90 years old.

(And yes, it’s spelled with a “J.” Throughout her 26 years at Staples, people wrote her name as “Ginny.” They still do, when referring to the school’s field hockey field, named in 2002 for her. But around that time, she signed a letter to me “Jinny.” I asked her about it. “All my life they’ve been writing it wrong,” she said. “I never bothered to correct them.”)

Sue Windrick —  one of the many former athletes who revered her, and stayed in touch for decades after graduation — says: “I loved that woman! I learned what it meant to work hard, to work as a team, because of Miss Parker. I would do anything to make her proud of me. I thank her for taking a chance on a mediocre field hockey lover, and saying, ‘You can always do more than you think you can.'”

Deb Holliday Kintigh adds: “She was a gem in my treasure box.”

In 2004, as I was writing my history of Staples — 120+ Years Of A+ Education — I asked “The Old Gray Mare” (her field hockey athletes sang the song on bus rides home, and her license plate read “TOGM”) for an interview. She responded to my questions by email. Here’s what she said:

——————————————————-

After 8 years of teaching, I gave it up for a year at Boston University to get my master’s. Not entirely a good move, for while I was well qualified, I was not affordable. So when I got wind of an opening at Staples I applied, went down and was interviewed by [principal] Stan Lorenzen and [athletic director] Frank Dornfeld. I was offered a job, and I took it. I never regretted my hasty choice.

Jinny Parker

Jinny Parker

I was very nervous about following Karen Sniffen, a legend. The p.e. program had all the usual stuff – team sports, tennis and badminton – about which I knew nothing. I changed it to stunts and tumbling, and got away with it. Interscholastic sports were field hockey, basketball and softball. I was paid an extra $150 a year to coach field hockey, basketball, softball, tennis, cheerleading and intramurals. Our girls ran the gamut from jocks to duds but we had fun, and we did pretty well with what we had.

In those days the “official” view of girls’ sports was very apprehensive. They focused on play days and sports days – nothing too strenuous. I attended various area and state meetings, and didn’t know whether to laugh, cry or get mad. I had coached in Maine and New Hampshire and never lost a kid, so that attitude drove me nuts.

The period from 1955 to 1981 saw tremendous changes in both p.e. and sports for girls. The “wise ones” finally discovered that girls were tougher than they thought, and had the same desires for activities that boys did.

We had a well-rounded program, and I think some of the gym-haters actually learned something and even enjoyed it. Some kids were horrified, though, when they were given written tests on sports rules. They said, “I thought you were a gym teacher, not an English teacher.” Yeah, spelling and penmanship counted.

Jinny Parker, during her Staples High School days.

Jinny Parker, during her Staples High School days.

Interscholastic sports were something else. I was privileged to become a state committee member. We met monthly, and quietly tried to move girls’ sports to an equal plane with boys’. It worked, but there were quite a few bumps in the road.

Our first “breakthrough” came when we wanted to have a state volleyball tournament, as most schools could scrape up a team. Only the referees knew the rules, and they whistled like mad. At noon we had a conference and sort of got things straight. It was one heck of a learning experience.

There was a real nice bunch of young coaches in Connecticut, and we all had the same idea: good girls’ sports. All the hard work was done long before anyone even thought of Title IX. Most of us had the good fortune to work for good athletic directors, who let us move ahead. Budgets were always a problem, so progress was slow.

But the programs you see today in Connecticut were well underway in the ‘60s. My national champs in track were in 1966! I look back fondly on those building years, even though most of us are now retired, and most people think it took the feds to give girls the great athletic opportunities they enjoy today. But Connecticut was way out ahead, and the CIAC [state organization], FCIAC [Fairfield County league] and DGWS [Division for Girls’ and Women’s Sports] were responsible.

I was also fortunate to work with Frank Dornfeld and Albie Loeffler. They let me and my colleagues do what we thought best for our programs. They were gentlemen in all the interactions I ever had with them. Men and women often had different ideas about the p.e. program, as can be expected, but there were few conflicts – mostly who gets which gym or field space, and for how long.

Lowlights followed shortly after the birth of Title IX, though I don’t think there was any valid connection. I’m talking about the advent of coed p.e. classes. Our giant computer spit out 25-30 kids’ cards per class. It made little difference what a kid wanted, or where he or she really belonged. I felt worst for the little immature sophomore boys who got stuck in a class with me – by then old enough to be their grandmother – and who could be flattened by some of the girl varsity basketball players who were in that class too. Those little guys could have profited from a male role model, not an old goat like me.

Jinny Parker coaching field hockey in 1970. The Staples High School field is now named for her.

Jinny Parker coaching field hockey in 1970. The Staples High School field is now named for her.

But Staples certainly was a special place, or I wouldn’t have stayed for 26 years. I never aspired to college work or administration, so I couldn’t ever think why I should leave. No one ever threatened to fire me, though one chap might have liked to try.

Westport sure grew while I was there, but along the way I met some very nice people – parents mostly, as well as Tip Schaefer, Lou Nistico, Joe Cuseo, Jim Calkins and a host of others.

I probably would be a failure today, as discipline was a prime component in my dealings with kids. I hear from a lot of them from time to time, and I haven’t found they suffered much. I made mistakes, but not bad ones, I guess.

I spent 3 years teaching in a paper mill town – kids with green teeth, and 2 sisters who liked p.e. because they could shower. They lived in a tarpaper shack in the woods. They taught me a lot.

Westport was a shock after that, for the kids had everything and didn’t know it. I think Westport parents want only what is best for their kids, but as a child of the Great Depression, I am convinced that a batch of diversity is an excellent learning tool.

(For Jinny Parker’s full obituary, click here. A graveside committal service is scheduled for Thursday, August 6, 2 p.m. at the North Newport Cemetery in New Hampshire. Memorial contributions may be made to the Senior Citizens’ Outreach Program: Sullivan County Nutrition Services, c/o Wendy Callum, P.O. Box 387, Newport, NH 03773. 

Route To The Royals

Westport is known for many things. Producing professional baseball players is not one of them.

So we’ll take full credit for Joey Markus — even though his athletic career in Westport consisted of just a season in Little League.

Joey Markus in Little League...

Joey Markus in Little League…

But the 9th round draft pick of the Kansas City Royals has a decent local pedigree.

His father, Steve Markus, graduated from Staples in 1976, and played baseball and football there.

His mother, Robin Greenhut Markus, was a 1981 grad. She captained both the volleyball and ski teams.

Joey’s academic career in Westport consisted of a few months at Coleytown Elementary School. His family then moved to DeLand, Florida, where he was a power-hitter who played several positions.

Delayed puberty and and growth plate issues in his shoulder hampered his high school career. He coached the high school girls softball team one year; as a senior he was a designated hitter on a team that reached the state finals.

Still, he received a full athletic scholarship from Indian River State College in Fort Pierce, Florida. Last year, he finally pitched. Scouts liked what they saw: 1 6-6 left-hander who throws 91-93 miles an hour.

Joey is playing now for the Burlington Royals, a Rookie-level team in the Appalachian League.

...and as a Burlington Royal.

…and as a Burlington Royal.

 

 

Market Thursday

In its 10th year, the Westport Farmers Market is stronger than ever.

Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Imperial Avenue commuter parking lot is filled with smart (and hungry) shoppers.

Pushing strollers or wielding walkers, shoppers make their way from booth to booth. Butchers, bakers, pizza makers — and everyone in between — offers fresh food. (The definition of “farmers” is loose, but the qualifications are strict.)

The Staples boys soccer team was there today too. They volunteered to help carry bags to cars. Any tips went to the Farmers’ Market Gillespie Center project — which is run with Staples’ culinary classes, through Chef Cecily Gans.

It all comes around. And it all tastes very, very good.

Fresh produce is one of the Westport Farmer's Market's most popular attractions.

Fresh produce is one of the Westport Farmer’s Market’s most popular attractions.

Staples soccer players (from left) Sebastian Wick, Kenji Goto, Noah Schwaeber, Graham Gudis and Timmy Liles get ready to volunteer at the Westport Farmers' Market. Matteo Broccolo and Daniel Brill were also there, working elsewhere.

Staples soccer players (from left) Sebastian Wick, Kenji Goto, Noah Schwaeber, Graham Gudis and Timmy Liles volunteer at the Westport Farmers’ Market. Matteo Broccolo and Daniel Brill were also there.

Simply Delicious offers turkey meatballs, blueberry beet gazpacho, kale and corn empanadas, and much more.

Simply Delicious offers turkey meatballs, blueberry beet gazpacho, kale and corn empanadas, and much more.

The Nutty Bunny sign says it all.

The Nutty Bunny sign says it all.

Thirsty? Choose between champagne tea...

Thirsty? Choose between champagne tea…

...and "coffee for humanity."

…and “coffee for humanity.”

It doesn't get more natural than honey -- direct from the bees, with no middleman.

It doesn’t get more natural than honey — direct from the bees, with no middleman.

 

The Duck As You’ve Never Seen It Before

You can count on a lot of things at the Black Duck: Great wings. A down-home vibe. Sports on TV.

Almost always, that means men’s sports.

But tonight the TVs were tuned to the Women’s World Cup semifinal.

When Carli Lloyd stepped up to take a penalty kick late in the scoreless match, everyone — including the bartenders and wait staff — stopped to watch.

Black Duck - Women's World Cup

She nailed it. The US added an insurance goal, to beat Germany 2-0.

We play England or Japan on Sunday.

You know at least one place to watch the championship game.

ESPN: “Go Wreckers!”

This afternoon, Tom Haberstroh was a guest on David Lloyd’s “Sportscenter” ESPN show.

Haberstroh jokingly asked fellow NBA analyst Chris Broussard if the San Antonio Spurs could make him into a pro player.

Broussard laughed: “I don’t know. I’ve seen you play!”

David Lloyd, Chris Broussard and Tom Haberstroh on ESPN's "Sportscenter" this afternoon.

David Lloyd, Chris Broussard and Tom Haberstroh on ESPN’s “Sportscenter” this afternoon.

Lloyd — a 1979 Staples High School graduate — alertly noted that Haberstroh played hoops at Staples.

Sure, it was more than 2 decades after Lloyd graduated. But that gave Haberstroh a perfect opening. He drove the lane, and took it.

“Go Wreckers!” Haberstroh said, as the segment wound up.

Most of Sportscenter’s millions of listeners had no idea what that meant.

But Haberstroh, Lloyd and all of us do.

BONUS FUN FACT: Haberstroh also was featured on Colin Cowherd’s ESPN radio show. It’s produced by John Lawrence — another former Staples athlete. Quite a day for the Wreckers!

Remembering Jay Emmett

Jay Emmett — one of the entertainment world’s leading executives in the 1960s and ’70s, and a powerful influence in everything from Batman to the New York Cosmos — died last Monday night, at 86. The cause was heart failure, at his home in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Emmett was a longtime resident of Westport, while he built his career in movies and sports marketing.

He began his career working for his uncle in a family-run comic book publishing company that owned the rights to a number of superheroes, including Batman and Superman.

Jay Emmett

Jay Emmett

Emmett founded the Licensing Corporation of America, which expanded from licensing comic book and cartoon characters such as Bugs Bunny and Tweety Bird into sports marketing, leading to partnerships with Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association.

In 1964 Emmett joined Warner Communications — now Time Warner — and was named president, under chairman Steve Ross.

Emmett oversaw great growth in the company’s music and movie divisions during the 1960’s and 1970’s. When the company established the original New York Cosmos, he was instrumental in signing Brazilian star Pelé. The franchise went on to draw more than 70,000 fans each game.

Emmett’s close friendship with Washington attorney Edward Bennett Williams led to his meeting Larry Lucchino, a Williams protégé. Emmett helped Lucchino’s teams — the Baltimore Orioles, San Diego Padres and Boston Red Sox — set home attendance records.

Emmett’s love of sports led him to partner with Sargent and Eunice Kennedy Shriver in the early 1970’s. They worked to develop the Special Olympics into one of the most important charitable institutions in the world. Emmett served in a number of capacities, including as a member of its international board of directors

Family and friends in Westport remember Emmett for his charismatic personality, infectious enthusiasm for life, and his outspoken nature. In recent years, Emmett derived great pleasure from the success of his children and grandchildren.

Emmett is survived by his sons Steven and Andrew, and daughters-in-law Deborah, Marlene, and Geri. He leaves behind 6 grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife Martha and son Paul.

A public celebration of Emmett’s life will be held at Fenway Park this summer. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to the Special Olympics.

To express condolences and/or make donations, click here.

special olympics