Monday, June 25, 2012

Doug Landis Is An Artist

Once again, my inspiration for my post came from a friend. I learned of an extraordinarily talented artist who found his passion by breaking his neck! This is a wonderful story of how a sibling challenge has helped a young man with a hidden talent, find it and make a career out of his new-found passion. Hmm, does that sound familiar?

Here is Doug Landis plying his trade:

It is the photo on his home page. You can see more of his art, purchase it and read his story by going to his website if you click here:

He broke his neck wrestling while in high school. My injury came in a football game. I know  many guys who broke their necks in that fifteen to twenty-four year age bracket. I tell all my audiences to measure their necks by putting their index fingers and thumbs around their necks. I ask them to touch their fingers, note where they touch, then, bring their hands around in front of them and look at how big their necks are. I tell the adults to look at a picture of their necks when they were teenagers, and I tell the younger students to look at pictures of their parents when they were teenagers. I get some interesting reactions from all age groups!

Eighty percent of all spinal cord injuries happen to young males between fifteen and twenty-four because the neck musculature is the last muscle mass of the body to develop.

When I got hurt, I had maybe a thirteen or fourteen inch neck. Now, it is about twenty inches all the way around. Part of that large neck comes from aging, but some of it comes from a disease I call secondhelpingitis!

You can see Doug has a large neck. I am guessing it is off the strength charts because as he states in the video on his site, he uses his neck to move the pencil. He only uses his teeth to hold the pencil.

His is a fascinating story. Of course, I believe everyone has a fascinating story. You ought to hear some of the stories I get after a speech, or at the end of a school day! I am often the last one to leave.

I look forward to your comments.



Monday, June 18, 2012

"It's cool to be smart."

"It's cool to be smart." was a quote from young Francois Rice, a student at the University of Maryland Baltimore County or UMBC.

It is one of many great quotes from a segment of my favorite television show, 60 Minutes, that aired last night. It was a rerun from last November. I missed it then, so it was new to me. If you have you not seen it, you will love it. At least, that is my opinion.

I believe it is a wonderful story about attitude, learning, passion, mentoring, the self-fulfilling prophecy and many more lessons we can learn about ourselves, especially in accomplishing goals.

I will not go on about it; you can view it by clicking on this website:;storyMediaBox

What did you think?

As always, I look forward to your comments.



Saturday, June 16, 2012

Discrimination Takes A Blow

I know it has been almost two weeks since I last posted, but I have my reasons. I will not go into them here, but it has been an extraordinary period.

I want to tell you about a couple who both have cerebral palsy and live in Mississauga, Ontario, a suburb of Toronto, and have been given permission to keep their newborn son, William, to raise on their own.

I first learned of their situation shortly after William was born through a friend I met at one of the Virginia Youth Leadership Forums I spoke at a few years ago. It is great fun for me to keep in touch with these young people as they finish high school, go off to college and share their stories as several of them keep me informed of their lives and accomplishments.

Anyway, back to Charlie and Maricyl's story. They were initially told their baby would be taken from them because of their disabilities. At a family conference they showed they were capable, with an extended support system, to raise their child on their own. It truly is a wonderful story of the system working. You can read the Toronto Star's story by clicking here:

The article was written in early May. I wonder how they are doing? 

As always, I look forward to your comments.



Sunday, June 3, 2012

Is Coaching Changing?

I grew up as a CK. If you were a CK, you know what that stands for. For those of you who did not grow up in a family with a father and/or mother who was or is a coach, CK is a Coach's Kid.

I loved it! It afforded me many opportunities none of the other students had. It started before I was even old enough to go to school. My dad played for a living and I got to go along for the ride. I talk about it quite bit in my ebook I Still Believe in Tomorrow.

I grew up with a ball in my hands. Literally, My first basketball came along before I did! Here is a shot of my dad and me at six months old:

I love the wallpaper and my bib overalls!

It was not long after I started walking before I was learning how to dribble!

I want to share one more picture of my first coach and mentor before I get to the point of this post. My dad started coaching me in organized sports in summer league baseball when we lived in Edgerton, Minnesota and I was eight or nine years old. This shot was taken in our backyard in Sibley, Iowa the summer of 1968 and I was thirteen:

In Iowa, they played their school baseball in the summer because there were always rain outs and cold weather in the spring, so they could rarely get a full schedule of games played. The benefit for us athletes was, we could participate in four sports. It was GREAT!

Now, the Minneapolis StarTribune claims: Coaches no longer make decisions in a vacuum. Some parents second-guess every move, and some coaches resent it. ... You can read the Updated: May 24, 2012 online article by clicking here.

I can relate to this story because my dad's contract was not renewed twice because he did not do a few of the points on the following list. So, the movers came, hooked up to the trailer and it was off to the next town. One of them was his home town in 1960! With all due respect to the author of the referenced article in the StarTribune, Jason Gonzalez, this phenomena is not new.

It is my experience parents have always had a problem with coaches for a number of reasons like:

1. Their son or daughter's team did not win enough
2. Their son or daughter did not get to play enough
3. Their son or daughter got cut from the team
4. The coach was too disciplined
5. The coach was not disciplined enough
6. The coach was too loud
7. The coach was not loud enough
8. The coach picked on their son or daughter
9. The coach had favorite players and treated them differently
10. The coach did not win the big game.

The article refers mostly to high school coaches, and a recent rash of resignations and firings because coaches have had it with their decisions both on and off the field. There are a number of reasons given in the article, but their main reason was the coaches were bullies.

Many of us have heard of the recent rash of scandals in the college coaching ranks. I find them disgusting! We have heard the old adage There is a bad apple in every barrel. It happens in every profession, and coaching is no different. However, there are the vast majority of both men and women coaches out there, at all levels of competition, who are good, honest, decent people who are doing a great job coaching! There are also good men and women who spent their entire careers teaching young men and women to be good people, not just good athletes! I like reading about people like John Wooden, and recently retired, Pat Summit.

Those are just two examples of great coaches. I had several I could list as well. Do you have any good coaching stories you would like to share?

I look forward to hearing about them.