Movie Buzz Raises Awareness of Concussions



(By Rick Sheridan. Published in the Dayton Daily News, and Athletic Business)

Will Smith is the star of a controversial upcoming movie based on a true story. “Concussion,” will be released in December by Columbia Pictures and it is already generating a lot of interest. Smith plays the role of Dr. Bennet Omalu, the pathologist who identified the first case of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (disorder or disease of the brain).

The movie has already been accused of toning down the dangers of head injury to appease the NFL. The film’s director, Peter Landesman, insists that “Concussion” was produced independently of the NFL and makes no compromises or concessions in its portrayal of the concussion and head-trauma issue.

CBS’s 60 Minutes did a segment about the long-term effects of concussions and head trauma in 2009. According to their research, up to three million sports related concussions occur every year. These concussions happen in many sports, but most happen in football.

Multiple concussions caused early retirement for several well-known players, including NFL Hall of Fame quarterbacks Troy Aikman of the Dallas Cowboys, Steve Young of the San Francisco 49ers, and New England Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson. The effects can be long-lasting, sometimes leading to permanent brain damage and the early onset of dementia.

Some of the symptoms to be aware of, according to the Kettering Health Network Comprehensive Concussion Management Program, include: dizziness, blurred vision, sensitivity to light or sound, balance problems, difficulty focusing, mood swings and sleep problems. They recommend that once a concussion has been diagnosed, the return-to-play decisions should be made by a concussion specialist, who is often a MD or Ph.D.

A traumatic brain injury or TBI can range in severity from mild (a brief change in mental status) to severe (prolonged period of unconsciousness or amnesia). TBI’s are often caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head that disrupts the normal function of the brain, according to the Ohio Department of Health’s Violence and Injury Prevention Program.

A large percentage of the scientific research on sports-related concussions has only come out recently. Faculty at the University of North Carolina studied retired NFL players and found a link between the number of concussions and the onset of dementia and depression.

As a result of the research and media coverage, many parents have been angered, and they may consider lawsuits against the high school or college. According to an Ohio State Bar Association website, this can be difficult to prove. They explain that the Ohio Legislature and the Supreme Court of Ohio has limited the ability of lawsuits that charge negligence or liability from sports and similar recreational activities.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year, U.S. emergency departments treat an estimated 135,000 sports or recreation-related traumatic brain injuries (TBI), including concussions, among children ages 5 to 18. Awareness and proper response to TBIs when they first happen can help prevent further injury and even death. Athletes who have previously suffered a concussion have a greater risk for another concussion.

Perhaps the new movie “Concussion,” along with the ongoing news media coverage of the situation will result in some positive changes.

Speaking skills from pep talks


(This article was published in Presentation Magazine)

Many of the winning sports coaches can deliver powerful speeches that are capable of motivating their athletes to accomplish great performances.

Characteristics of pep talks

Here are some characteristics of pep talks that Sellers (2012) identifies that are very similar to what is taught in the college-level Fundamentals of Public Speaking:

1. Don’t be afraid to show some passion

The top coaches believe in what they are saying, and are not afraid to get emotional and show some passion.

They often have a mastery of their tone and body language that inspires and motivates the players.

2. Include real-life examples the audience can identify with

The top coaches often include real-life examples in their pep talks that the players can relate to and identify with.

This might include an anecdote about a well-known player, a picture, a chart, an old helmet, a championship ball, etc.

3. Pause after key statements so your message can be processed

They know their audience. They know what will work and what won’t.

They make eye contact frequently with almost everyone in the room.

They pause after making key statements, giving players time to process what they said.

They are able to go from sombre to passionate in the same sentence.

How to give a speech before a championship game

Further lessons from sports coaches can be summarised from the article ‘How to Give a Speech Before a Championship Game’ (cited below):

4. Remind your audience why they are there

Remind your team how they got this far. There are reasons why your team is playing for the big game.

Talk to your team about everything they have gone through during the season, especially any obstacles they have overcome.

Your team will remember this part of the speech during the game, especially if they find themselves trailing at some point.

5. Remind them of what they have already achieved

Tell your team how proud you are of them.

It’s important to let your players know that they’ve already achieved so much by just getting this far.

Don’t be afraid to criticise poor performance at the same time.

6. Take steps to eliminate over-confidence

Emphasise how talented the opposing team is. Many teams lose big games due to over-confidence or a belief that the other team is a joke.

Make sure your players know just how good the opposing players are – and that they never let their guard down during the game.

7. Encourage self-belief

Explain to your team why you’re going to win the championship game.

Many players and coaches believe that it is a risk to have this much confidence heading into a championship game.

Any good coach or player will tell you that if you don’t believe you’re going to win a game, you won’t.

Do everything you can to make your team not just believe, but know that they’re going to win the championship game.

8. End your speech on a high

End your speech emphatically and dramatically. You could end it with a quote from a famous coach or player or by yelling your closing points.

The hope here is that your players will come roaring out of the locker room ready to win a championship.

In conclusion, public speakers should examine sports coaches’ pep talks as a way to improve their own performance and delivery.

Although sometimes the coaches’ language is too rough for typical public speaking, we can still learn some amazing skills from the best pep talks.

Rick Sheridan
Rick Sheridan
Many of the techniques are similar to the skills that we learn as public speakers, only they are often delivered with more passion.

Here a few great (YouTube) pep talks to get you started: (From the movie, Coach Carter). (Pre-game football speech by Tony Arcuri, Indian Hill Braves football team). (Delivered by famous U.S. athlete Ray Lewis). (We Are Marshall- movie). (Top 10 sports movie speeches)
With thanks to Rick Sheridan, a journalist and assistant professor of communications at Wilberforce University in Ohio, USA.


How To Tips for Pregame Speeches, by Mike Sellers, 2012. Retrieved, October 7, 2014, from
How to Give a Speech Before a Championship Game. (n.d.) In WikiHow. Retrieved, October 8, 2014, from

Chico Baseball Team Chooses Manager


(This is an article I wrote for the North Valley Business Journal)

The Chico Heat professional baseball club announced the signing of former major league player and manager Bill Plummer as the team’s manager and head of baseball operations, at a press conference on September 19th at the Chico Heat administrative offices in downtown Chico. The 49-year-old Plummer was joined by his wife Shelly, Heat President Steve Nettleton and Vice President of Operations Bob Linscheid.

“It’s very nice to have the opportunity to come back to an area that you are very comfortable with and where I have a lot of friends and family. I’m very excited about coming back and working in this area,” Plummer said. He has daughters in Santa Cruz and Reno and a sister in Sacramento, and looks forward to visiting them often while living here in this area. Plummer attended Chico State and received a BA in Physical Education.

As a player for the Cincinnati Reds, Plummer played in three World Series and was a member of two World Championship teams. During his 14 years as a catcher in professional baseball, Plummer played with the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, and the Cincinnati Reds.

Plummer’s managerial experience includes everything from serving as Seattle Mariners head coach, to managing a Winter League team in Caracas, Venezuela. Most recently, Plummer managed the Jacksonville Suns, a minor league affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. At the press conference he stressed the challenge and importance of recruiting good players.

“To me, I think that the most important thing is the players. I’m used to working with organizations where the players are already brought to me, so this will be a much different roll for me. We will start from scratch without a surplus of players to chose from.”

Players in the minor leagues come from college seniors who have not been drafted, players released from major league teams along with other minor league players who want to relocate to this area.

Western Baseball League rules require that the teams consist of at least 6 rookies, no more than 6 veterans with more than 4 years experience, and 10 “limited service” players with I-3 ears experience. High performing athletes are often transferred to the major leagues.

The Western Baseball League is independent and not affiliated with any specific professional baseball teams. League teams have the option to sell a player’s contract to a major league team when they are ready. “One of the advantages is that we own ail the contracts of the players and have the ability to maintain our continuity so that we don’t loose important players during the playoffs,” said Steve Nettleton, president of the Chico Heat. “Some of the fellows just love the game of baseball and want to play out their careers in the minors,” Nettleton added.


The Chico Heat will begin spring training in May and start their 90-game season on May 16th. The Heat will play approximately 45 home games at Bohler Field, located on the west side of the Chico State campus. The Heat will play in the Western Baseball League, which consists of teams from Long Beach, Palm Springs, Salinas, Reno, Bend and other area cities. Last year the Long Beach Riptide won the league championship.

UW recruits among nation’s best


(Here is an article that I wrote for United Press International).

Wisconsin football coach Barry Alvarez Wednesday unveiled his 1993 recruiting class and said he believes the new players will help turn around the Badger program.

Alvarez said at a news conference he is pleased with the caliber of the 21 players who signed letters of intent to play at Wisconsin and the efforts of the Wisconsin coaches in signing the recruits. The recruiting class has been ranked ninth in the United States by a panel of sports experts on ESPN’s Scholastic Sports America.

“We are very pleased with this year’s recruiting class. They blend extremely well with last year’s class,” Alvarez said. “We’re on the verge of turning the corner. We’ll be a better football team.”

One of the players mentioned by Alvarez as a top recruit is Royce “Rocket” Roberson of East Chicago, Ind. Roberson was the Gatorade player of the year in Indiana and was selected as a high school all-American by Parade, Blue Chip and Tom Lemming’s PFR magazines. He selected Wisconsin over Illinois, Purdue and Michigan State.

Possibly the most sought-after recruit was Carl McCullough, a 6-foot 3, 205-pound back from St. Paul, Minn. McCullough was a consensus all-American, making elite teams by USA Today, Parade and several other publications.

McCullough was ranked as the No. 2 overall player in the Midwest by the Detroit News. He rushed for 1,917 yards and scored 29 touchdowns in 1992.

Only three of this year’s recruits are from Wisconsin, but Alvarez vowed to increase that number in the future by working more directly with area high school coaches.
Wisconsin recruits include Daryl Carter, a back from Milwaukee, Todd Halbur, a lineman from Wisconsin Rapids and lineman Brian Flanigan of Southern Door, who was rated the No. 1 player in the state by Wisconsin Prep Gridiron Report.

The 1993 recruiting class includes sets of teammates. Roberson and Damon Glenn played together at Central High in East Central, Ind., and Rob Lurtsems and Jason Suttle played on the same team, at Burnsville, Minn (continued).

How to Manage Your Emotional State As an Athlete


(Here is part of an article I wrote for WikiHow).
For more information, please go to:

For an athlete to perform effectively they should be able to control their emotional state. Being in control of your emotional state is not an exact science, but there are techniques that can make a difference. Here are some of the tools to help change their response to the various stimuli.

1 Control your distractions. You should maintain a positive, effective focus in the face of distractions, obstacles, setbacks or negative comments from other athletes.

2 Take care of your emotional strength. The ability to summon whatever levels of emotional strength are necessary to get the job done positively and successfully in a variety of difficult situations.

3 Be careful about the words you use to describe your sports experience. For example, instead of looking at the situation as a “major problem” try to see it as a “minor challenge” and work through the available options.

(Article continued on

Peaceful Warrior Workout



(This article was originally published in both Natural Beauty & Health, and by Magical Blend magazines).

Well-known author and Olympic champion Dan Millman has developed a quick, effective Peaceful Warrior Workout that incorporates elements from calisthenics, dance, gymnastics, martial arts, and yoga. The entire routine can be completed in less than four minutes a day, in a relatively small space. The Peaceful Warrior Workout consists of 16 different exercises that stretch every part of the body. One movement flows smoothly into the next. By doing each movement a couple of times each, you can complete the entire workout in under four minutes, making it fit easily into anyone’s schedule. It can even be done in regular clothing.

The Peaceful Warrior Workout is based upon several realistic principles of exercise:
1. A little bit of something is better than a lot of nothing;
2. Simple is powerful, because we will actually do that which is simple, accessible, and convenient;
3. The hardest and most important aspect of exercise is getting on our workout clothes;
4. We don’t have to “get motivated” to brush our teeth; neither do we have to motivate ourselves to do the Peaceful Warrior Workout. Motivated or not, we just start doing it. Once you start, it’s quite easy to continue. (An object at rest tends to say at rest; an object in motion tends to stay in motion.)

“You can direct your energy and attention toward trying to fix your mind, find your focus, affirm your power, free your emotions and visualize positive outcomes so that you can finally develop the confidence to display the courage to discover the determination to make the commitment to feel sufficiently motivated to do whatever it is you want to do. Or you can just do it. It always comes down to just doing it,” Millman said.

Dan describes four essential physical qualities that contribute to a sense of complete and balanced fitness:
Strength: muscular power and control; the ability to move effectively even against resistance in the field of gravity.
Suppleness: flexibility, elasticity, or optimal range of motion.
Stamina: endurance; the ability to persist over time.
Sensitivity: including balance, rhythm, timing, reflex speed, coordination.
“The proper fitness routine you practice depends on the level of fitness you desire. Training for a triathlon requires a more rigorous kind of training than getting in shape to play golf or tennis or run through an airport to catch your flight. Athletics is life; life is athletics. I don’t recommend people dedicate their life to their training. I recommend they dedicate their training to their life, to the bigger picture, and really connect up what they’re doing. I mean, who ultimately cares if someone can hit a ball into a cup on nicely mown grass, or hit a ball over a net rapidly so someone else can miss it? A fully balanced individual who seeks harmony in all aspects of existence, utilizing universal principles in total awareness of one’s movements, thoughts, motives, even breath.”

Here are Dan’s general guidelines for learning and practicing this or any workout:
 Respect your body’s learning process; go gently at first.
 If you feel discomfort or if a particular element feels too difficult at first, find a way to make it easier for yourself-work around the problem area.
 Do all (or some version of all) the exercises, and in the order presented. You’ll benefit most from the elements that give you the most difficulty, so don’t skip them.
 Each time you flow through the workout, ask yourself, “How can I do each movement a little better?” That way you are always improving.
 Enjoy the routine to music, or in silence, as a moving meditation. You can perform the movements vigorously, or in slow motion.
 Do the Peaceful Warrior Workout each morning or at another regular time so it becomes a natural part of your daily routine. The key to making this routine part of your everyday life is to commit to doing it every day for thirty-six days. At that point, your subconscious will recognize it as a habit. If you skip even one of the first thirty-six days, the next day is day one as far as the subconscious is concerned.

Specific guidelines
 Exercise is only as beneficial as the posture in which it is performed. Relaxation, breathing, and posture are key. If possible, use a mirror for the first few days to check your technique.
 For moves done to both sides, you can begin to the left or to the right, but stay consistent.
 Pay special attention to deep breathing as you flow through the elements. Breathe as deeply as possible without strain, coordinating your breathing with each element; feel as if the breath is moving the body. Inhale through the nose; exhale through the nose or mouth.

A sample exercise from the Peaceful Warrior Workout (Possible sidebar in the article with an illustration):

Stretch-Back Swing-Down

 Palms are together in front of you as you inhale and raise arms overhead.
 Let your arms bend and drop behind head as you stretch gently backwards.
 Begin exhaling as you straighten your arms and body, then continue exhaling as you swing your arms forward and down in a wide arc, bending your knees and letting your head drop and relax forward.
 As you finish your exhale, your arms swing back behind you and you momentarily straighten the knees for a stretch.
 Then bend your knees and begin inhaling as your arms swing forward, palms together, rising upward into the second repetition.

 One foot-width
 Three repetitions
 Inhale up and back, exhale down
 Buttocks firm when stretching back
 Bend knees on down- and up-swing;
 Straighten legs momentarily at end of downswing

 Inspiring warm-up
 Gentle stretch of the spine
 Invigorates entire body
 Frees obstructed energy for exercises to follow
 Begins to clear tensions around heart and solar plexus

“For peaceful warriors, it’s not about fighting people or seeing them as adversaries, it’s about the inner battle. A peaceful warrior combines a peaceful heart with a warrior spirit. ‘Warriorship’ is a term many find provocative. It’s to do with a particular lineage on the planet. It is different from, say, being an athlete, where all you may win or lose is a game. The warrior lineage has to do with living in the moment of truth, as it relates to one’s actual life. When these warriors had a competition there was much more at stake than just a game; thus they couldn’t afford to ignore any aspect of personal growth. If their body was in excellent shape but their mind is distracted, they were as good as dead, so warriorship was a holistic form of training long before it became popular. It’s about training the mind, body and emotions and integrating all three, Dan added.”

Athletes in Action Fifth Annual Night of Champions a Success


(This article was originally published in an Athletes in Action newsletter and on their website).

An inspiring line-up of Olympic and professional athletes mingled with members of the public at the Athletes in Action fifth annual Night of Champions on May 6, 2010, at their World Training and Resource Center, in Xenia, Ohio.

The main focus of the event was to honor two new inductees into the prestigious AIA Hall of Faith. Jennifer Johnson Jordan, a top-rated professional beach volleyball player and Olympian was the female recipient of this national award and Jim Tressel, head football coach of The Ohio State University Buckeyes was the male recipient. The inductees are chosen for their faith, leadership, character and integrity on and off the field of competition.

The evening began with a VIP event hosted by news anchor Dan Edwards, the morning host for news on WDTN in Dayton. He briefly introduced an all-star list of athletes including: Anthony Muñoz, former Cincinnati Bengals lineman who was All-Pro for 11 consecutive years, Doug Yates, U.S. Olympic karate contender, Dan Christie and J.D. Grigsby, both former University of Dayton basketball stars, Trina Smith, head coach of the Wright State University volleyball team, E.J. Junior, former Alabama All-American and two-time Pro-Bowl selection, and current Central State University football coach, and several others.

“The Night of Champions represents the very best aspects of our faith being represented in the community. We see and hear concrete examples of teamwork, leadership, love, commitment, perseverance and humility with a firm connection to sports and the triumph of one’s personal faith. This is something that goes way beyond sports and transcends into the very nature of our inner character and testimony. AIA has delivered a landmark platform for excellence to shine brighter and speak louder than any words will ever be able to….it is an honor to attend this event and celebrate the accomplishments of the recipients,” said Chris Grindrod, program director of WEEC FM, and a member of the audience.

Jennifer Johnson Jordan was pleasantly surprised to see both of her parents in the crowd. Her father, Rafer Johnson, won the gold medal for the decathlon in the 1960 Olympics. He took a turn at the microphone and described his intense competition with a Russian athlete in the various events in the decathlon.

Clark Kellogg, the lead college basketball analyst for CBS Sports and former player in the National Basketball Association was the master of ceremonies at the banquet honoring Jordan and Tressel. Kellogg, who played for Ohio State, joked with Anthony Muñoz, formerly of the University of Southern California, about the OSU/USC rivalry.

Jim Tressel delivered a rousing keynote speech at the Schindler Banquet Center. He described his faith in Jesus as a crucial part of his success as a coach and his ability to inspire and motivate his players. Tressel was introduced by Jim Schmidtke, AIA staff member at The Ohio State University.

The Tressel family is actively involved with Athletes in Action, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the OSU Thompson Libraries and the James Cancer Center at The Ohio State University Medical Center.

During the first part of the banquet, a silent auction offered high quality sports memorabilia, including a jersey signed by Brett Favre, an autographed team photo from the 1964 Cleveland Browns and other items. Proceeds from Night of Champions benefit the World Training and Resource Center and further the development of the Sports Complex and Conference Center.

(This article was originally published on the Athletes in Action website)

Ohio State University football team visits Athletes in Action Sports Complex


(This article was originally published in an Athletes in Action newsletter and on their website).

On Friday, August 20, the Ohio State University football team spent the entire day in a retreat and practice session, at the Legacy Center in Xenia, Ohio, home of Athletes in Action.

The day featured 2 practice sessions by the 2009 Rose Bowl and recent 5-time defending Big Ten champion Ohio State Buckeyes. The morning started out with a light practice session, and continued, after lunch, with a full inter-squad scrimmage. The practices were closed per NCAA regulations.

The Buckeyes are ranked #2 in some 2010 pre-season forecasts. The team has nine returning starters, and the expectations are high for the first preseason game on September 2 against Marshall University.

The team had access to the 253-acre Legacy Center, and they used the 4 dormitories, the conference and retreat center along with the state-of-the-art sports complex with its high-quality synthetic turf.

Athletes in Action staff member Jim Schmidtke reported that the OSU coaching staff was extremely impressed with AIA personnel and the facilities. One of the OSU coordinators said to Jim, “Your people were fantastic. Being in a place with such a meaningful history gave the young men a sense of destiny.”

Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel is a strong supporter of AIA, and he will be starting his 10th season at Ohio State after several successful seasons as head coach at Youngstown State.

Jim Schmidtke first met Tressel when he was a quarterback coach at OSU in the early 1980’s. “He is really the same guy now. I remember telling my wife then that he was one of the best coaches I had ever met. Last night Coach Tressel was talking to the players about this facility, and the players were hanging on his every word,” Schmidtke said.

Mark Householder, President of Athletes in Action, added, “Hosting part of the OSU football camp was a dream come true for AIA. We hope this is the beginning of a long-term relationship with Ohio State football.”