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Are College Sports Really Putting Athlete Safety First?

Are College Sports Really Putting Athlete Safety First?

George Plaster is a sports talk radio pioneer. He joins us on this episode of the Sport Fuels Life Podcast to discuss his career and weighs in on the latest sports news, from coronavirus, professional sports bubble competition, toxic team cultures and what’s actually motivating athletic directors and universities decision on whether or not to play this season.

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Do You Know Your Football Trivia?

Do You Know Your Football Trivia?

While college football teams across the U.S. decide what to do about their 2020 season, we’ve been getting our football fix by rewatching Friday Night Lights (Texas Forever!) and making trivia quizzes. Find out how much you really know about your favorite sport by taking this quiz now!

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3 Reasons You Need A Mindfulness Walk

3 Reasons You Need A Mindfulness Walk

LeBron James, Derek Jeter, Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh are all successful athletes who have discussed the value of meditation to assist them in their performance during the game.

But why should you try a walking meditation? We’ve got three great reasons!

  1. It Clears Out Mental Fog.
    Taking a walk outside interrupts the monotony of the day, breaks cyclical thinking and helps you balance your perspective.
  2. It Strengthens Your Focus
    Meditation helps train your mind and let unhelpful thoughts pass by without the gravity to pull you into feelings of overwhelm and stress.
  3. It Helps You Stay Present
    When you walk, you can let the worries of the day fade away for a moment. Meditation teaches us to let go of the judgement we usually carry in our own minds and to practice self compassion and curiosity.

We’ve created a calming new playlist for you to use as you walk. Check it out below!

You could win free shoes for a year!

You could win free shoes for a year!

It’s our biggest giveaway ever. Help us plan our next move by sharing your opinions.

Take this survey to enter for a chance to win free sneakers for a year.

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Is the Sports “Bubble” A Good Model To Resume College Games In The Fall?

Is the Sports “Bubble” A Good Model To Resume College Games In The Fall?

In an effort to finish the 2020 season, the NBA has moved 22 of its 30 teams to a restricted access area at Disney World in Florida and has delivered on its promise to print “Black Lives Matter” on the game court in Orlando. The WNBA has returned, launching bubble games on July 25th, with a united mission to bring awareness of the police killing of Breonna Taylor). 

The return of basketball is good news for fans all over the country.  If you’re curious what safety precautions look like for players, coaches and staff, and how this model, with some modifications, might translate for future competitive play for high schools and colleges nationwide, we’ve got the breakdown.

The NBA has an extensive set of safety rules and precautions that individuals who participate in the bubble must follow in order to remain eligible to play. In addition to no fans at the games, athletes are living together for three months in isolation in a unique basketball commune that Lebron James described as a youth basketball tournament for grown men.

Anyone (from players and coaches to management staff and reporters) who has entered the NBA bubble has been tested for COVID-19 daily, since the week of June 23. During games, players have assigned seats on the bench, have been asked to refrain from licking their fingers during practice and games and are even wearing special biometric devices that measure their vital signs. The teams are all divided between three Disney hotels and are required to practice strict physical distancing and wear masks in common areas unless they are eating or participating in physical activity. Any player who tests positive for Coronavirus will be quarantined for a minimum of 7 days. While this system is extensive, it’s hardly foolproof and requires vigilance. Several players have already been benched in quarantine due to violations against the NBA’s rules.

This bubble experiment now has the attention of the NCAA officials and student-athletes who would undoubtedly like to return to their own courts when basketball season is slated to begin this November. The NBA’s model could offer college basketball a framework on how to safely resume competition, while The Daily Tar Heel reports that eliminating fans at the college level could change the entire atmosphere for players.

For now, many sports fans are just thrilled to be getting basketball game coverage on ESPN. Other organizations who have returned to play without a bubble format may already be regretting that decision. Miami Marlins MLB team has reported a total of 14 confirmed cases of positive COVID tests as of this week, possibly putting the entire MLB season in jeopardy and raising even more questions on how to safely return to competitive sports..

We want to know what you think! Should professional sports be returning to the game already, or should they have remained sidelined for 2020? What ideas do you have in your own sports world—leagues, high school, college, or recreationally—for safe competition? Tell us in the comments below!

Can vulnerability contribute to building a positive team culture?

Can vulnerability contribute to building a positive team culture?

Studies show that the pressure and culture of high performance athletics can lead to chronic fatigue, mental exhaustion, burnout, depression and anxiety. Student athletes all over the country often struggle silently for fear of looking weak to their teammates and coaches, believing a false definition of what mental toughness actually looks like.

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The Top 9 MLB Players of All Time

The Top 9 MLB Players of All Time

Major League Baseball just announced a 60-game 2020 season will begin the last weekend in July, and most players are returning to training camps this week.

Several athletes, however, have opted out of play this year, citing personal safety amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including Ryan Zimmerman, Joe Ross and Ian Desmond. MLB says that more than 100 pages of health and safety precautions have been accepted by the players association to keep players and personnel safe. Only one day after the 2020 season plans were revealed, executives from several MLB teams revealed positive coronavirus test results within their organizations. Under the terms between the league and its athletes, players who decide on an individual basis not to take the field this season would have to forfeit their salaries, unless they are considered high-risk for contracting the virus.

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Tennis Ace Tim Wilkison Shares Coaching and Competitive Insights

Tennis Ace Tim Wilkison Shares Coaching and Competitive Insights

Tim Wilkison, who toured professionally for over 25 years, lives in Charlotte, N.C.  Ranked World No. 23 in September 1986, Tim is perhaps best known for his diving volleys at Wimbledon that earned him the nickname “Dr. Dirt”.  He now coaches at all levels and works with many organizations to teach and promote the sport and benefits of tennis. Here are some highlights on playing, coaching, and living from his conversation with Sport Fuels Life.

Commitment matters.  After Tim started playing tennis exclusively at age 12, he marked off the days on his calendar when he practiced at least two hours (usually longer).  Since he didn’t have access to indoor courts, he spent rainy days hitting balls against the wall of an indoor gym.  He practiced four years in a row without missing a day.

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Understanding Your Why with Coach Mike Srock

Understanding Your Why with Coach Mike Srock

Accomplished speed and strength coach Mike Srock, from James F. Byrnes High School in Greenville, South Carolina, wants his players to have purpose in everything they do. Read on below to learn how his program has pivoted during COVID-19 and what he’s doing in preparation when in-person practices and competition to resume.

Coach Srock says that one characteristic of a great coach is being quick to adapt and adjust how they relate to their athletes. He notes that today’s coaches have received a master class in out-of-the-box thinking thanks to COVID-19. “As this global pandemic has gone on and everything has been shut down, it has really adversely affected the entire high school population so much–even beyond just sports. School has always been a support system for these kids. I mean we actually feed them, keep them engaged and teach them how to be responsible upstanding individuals. I think all that is paused now because we can’t have personal contact.”

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More than just Speed and Strength Training

More than just Speed and Strength Training

Mike Srock, winning speed and strength coach at James F. Byrnes High School in Greenville, South Carolina, chatted with us about challenges that today’s coaches face and how athletes have changed over the course of his decorated 45-year career.

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5 Sports Films That Highlight the Struggles of Legendary Black Athletes

5 Sports Films That Highlight the Struggles of Legendary Black Athletes

Team Connection is committed to connecting athletes, coaches, and fans to celebrate the unifying power and magic of sports.  We are also learning from each other.  One of our team members, Eric Lamar, recommended this list of movies to show what systemic racism looks like in the world of sports.  We’ll be showcasing other educational materials in future posts and welcome your suggestions.

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Achieving The Perfect Balance, With Coach Mike Srock

Achieving The Perfect Balance, With Coach Mike Srock

Mike Srock is a renowned speed and strength coach for James F. Byrnes High School in Greenville, South Carolina and has helped win 13 state championships in football, volleyball, softball and cross country. He has been awarded numerous Coach of the Year titles for his incredible work, and was inducted into the South Carolina High School Strength Coaches Hall of Fame in 2017. His drive and passion are  infectious, and his perspective and wisdom are inspiring.

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Tune In To The Sport Fuels Life Summer Classics Playlist

Tune In To The Sport Fuels Life Summer Classics Playlist

Whether you’re planning to spend the majority of your summer on the golf course or strength training and conditioning in your garage, this week Sport Fuels Life has a fun mix to add a little joy and get your summer sizzlin’ with these upbeat summertime classics. From Paul Simon to Eddie Money, we have the retro vibes you forgot you needed.  

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Top 5 Ways To Boost Mental Wellness

Top 5 Ways To Boost Mental Wellness

May is mental health awareness month, and thanks to the coronavirus, the spotlight on mental wellness is brighter than ever. The Sport Science Institute believes that mental health is “part of, not apart from, athlete health. Mental health exists on a continuum, with resilience and thriving on one end of the spectrum and mental health disorders that disrupt an athlete’s functioning and performance at the other.” There are many ways you can improve your overall mental wellness; and in this time of uncertainty, one of the most important things we can do is tune in to our inner thoughts and emotions and learn new ways to be our best advocate.

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How Tennis Fuels the Life of Elite Tour Coach Craig Boynton

How Tennis Fuels the Life of Elite Tour Coach Craig Boynton

We talked to accomplished ATP Tour coach Craig Boynton and ended up so inspired and informed that we will be featuring his insights in three successive blog posts.  The first deals with how sports have impacted his life, how he balances being an elite, globe-trotting coach with being a father and husband, and how good communication can be a real advantage.

As context, Boynton has worked with players such as World Number 1 Jim Courier, Mardy Fish, John Isner, and Steve Johnson.  He is currently coaching Poland’s Hubert (Hubi) Hurkacz who is ranked 29th in the world.  Coaching those kinds of players and the toll of worldwide travel and competition would take a toll on most families.  Here’s what Craig had to say about how sport fuels his life.

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U.S. Olympic Medalist Sandi Morris Gets Creative with her Quarantine Training

U.S. Olympic Medalist Sandi Morris Gets Creative with her Quarantine Training

Sandi Morris has a spirit of ingenuity and determination that pushes her through life’s challenges, so when the world went on pause for COVID19-related quarantines, Sandi knew it was time to double down. She’s always found a way to compete. This characteristic is what has catapulted her professional pole vaulting career to elite levels. She has competed in the sports world’s most renowned global competitions, including solidifying her place in history at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games by earning a silver medal. We caught up with Sandi recently to see how she’s making the most of quarantine, what she’s doing to stay in a consistent training routine, as well as where she finds the inspiration to push herself to the next level. 

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Have a Family Dance Party to Promote a Healthy Lifestyle During Quarantine

Have a Family Dance Party to Promote a Healthy Lifestyle During Quarantine

Even if you’re not a parent or an athlete with siblings, chances are high that you’ve reached your limit of finding things to do at home during quarantine to keep yourself or your children entertained. This week we’ve got just the thing you need to promote an active family lifestyle (and give your Netflix account a break–we know, you just saw there’s a brand new follow up episode of Tiger King. We promise that Joe Exotic can wait!)

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Stay Motivated with this Sport Fuels Life Playlist

Stay Motivated with this Sport Fuels Life Playlist

Our awesome Sport Fuels Life team has created our very first Spotify playlist!

We’re calling the inaugural playlist “We Don’t Quit” because it features a few of our favorite pop and hip-hop songs for your stay at home quarantine workout. These beats are sure to help get you energized and infuse you with the confidence to believe that you can do hard things. 

Check out the playlist here, and be sure to follow us on Spotify for even more playlists (we’re launching one a week for the month of April!)

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Nick Gwiazdowski Brings His Heart To The Mat

Nick Gwiazdowski Brings His Heart To The Mat

We recently caught up with Nick Gwiazdowski, a North Carolina State graduate and wrestler who won back-to-back national championships in 2014-15. More recently he earned the gold medal at 125 kilograms (275 pounds) on March 15th at the Pan Am Olympic Qualifier in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. With the abrupt changes in the sports world unfolding at the same time as Nick’s gold medal performance, eventually leading to the delay of the 2020 Olympics, we wanted to get his take on the effect COVID19 is having on competitive sports, wrestling, and his training.

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How is the COVID19 Quarantine Impacting Baseball Players and Coaches?

How is the COVID19 Quarantine Impacting Baseball Players and Coaches?

Billy Godwin is currently the Head Baseball Coach at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and has over 30 years of coaching experience. Before Godwin was a coach, he was an athlete. He earned an athletic scholarship as a pitcher for Barton College, in Wilson, North Carolina. He also worked for five years as an area scout for the New York Yankees and spent several years as Head Coach for two other North Carolina institutions– East Carolina University and Louisburg College. 

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Overcoming Obstacles with World Champion Chelsea Werner

Overcoming Obstacles with World Champion Chelsea Werner

If there is anyone who knows what it’s like to dream big and achieve, it’s the amazing Chelsea Werner. She’s a four-time U.S. Special Olympics Gymnastics National Champion, a two-time defending World Champion, a fashion model and an advocate for inclusion. We’ve been following Chelsea’s journey since we spotted her on the TODAY show a few years ago, and we’re thrilled to share her story of overcoming obstacles and thriving with Down Syndrome. Read on below and prepare to be inspired!

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Celebrating This Year’s Exceptional NCAA Basketball Athletes

Celebrating This Year’s Exceptional NCAA Basketball Athletes

On March 13th, the 2020 NCAA basketball tournament was canceled by the NCAA because of concerns regarding the spreading coronavirus (COVID-19). That decision resulted in #MarchSadness across the United States. It’s the first time the annual NCAA Tournament will not be held since it was first launched 81 years ago, in 1939.

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How To Keep Sport Alive During Social Distancing

How To Keep Sport Alive During Social Distancing

With all the uncertainty that our nation is facing while dealing with COVID-19 (Coronavirus), and the cancelling of all our sports events and community gatherings to help flatten the curve of the disease, it can feel overwhelming for our young athletes and coaches. If you’re feeling helpless, we’ve got a dose of inspiration for you!

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The Value of Strong Coach-Athlete Relationships

The Value of Strong Coach-Athlete Relationships

As a coach, you are a critical element in the strength of the glue that holds your team together. It’s important to cultivate proper technique and skill as well as a positive competitive environment in your players and team; but studies have shown the true key to success lies beyond focusing only on their physical progress and abilities. Coaching is about equipping each individual athlete for success in life and building strong relationships where your players feel safe, seen, heard and supported. Psychology Today says that “many athletes, even at the elite level, desire coaches that have a strong sense of regard for them as individuals and have an understanding of them and what is going on in their lives.” But what are the practical steps you can take as a coach to enrich the team experience? 

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Building Confidence And Developing A Winning Mindset with Elle Purrier

Building Confidence And Developing A Winning Mindset with Elle Purrier

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we connected with Elle Purrier, the stellar track and field athlete who just last month broke the 37-year-old American indoor mile record, to discuss training, setting goals and women’s empowerment in sports. 

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Get to know Bri Scott

Get to know Bri Scott

Bri Scott is Team Connection’s stellar volleyball account manager, she played Big Ten volleyball at The Ohio State University, has coached and even co-founded ProVolley Training, which exists to provide a fun and competitive learning environment for high school teams, as well as a skill tune-up for individuals looking to improve their game. She’s sharing her #sportfuelslife journey with us in today’s blog post! Read on to get to know more about this stellar member of our team!

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What Fuels New Orleans Saints Defensive Lineman Shy Tuttle

What Fuels New Orleans Saints Defensive Lineman Shy Tuttle

Shy Tuttle had a pretty remarkable NFL rookie year during the 2019 season. He hails from Midway, North Carolina where he discovered his love of sports as a member of his high school’s basketball, football and track and field teams. He went on to play four seasons of college football with the Tennessee Volunteers before signing with the New Orleans Saints in April 2019. He made his NFL debut on September 9 and soon became a household name in NOLA, thanks to his first career interception that went viral. Just before our interview, Shy recently shared his inspiring journey (and ice cream for the whole school!) with the students of Midway Elementary School in North Carolina.

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How to Build Confidence for the Game

How to Build Confidence for the Game

My father has often said that “no one can give you confidence, but yourself.” True confidence is a virtue and only those who put in the work will be able to know the type of certainty and grit that comes from having full confidence in your own abilities. Mastering your skills is critical to the game as well as in life. You’re becoming an expert at what you do because you’ve practiced it a million times, the 10,000 hours rule applies here. If you look at the great athletes, they are regarded as great because they work tirelessly on their game, from technique to speed and execution. Michael Jordan was able to nail down a free throw with his eyes closed because he had practiced relentlessly. He mastered the form, the muscle strength, the distance and all the other attributes required to perform a foul shot. Because he has watched the ball go through the net countless times, he was never afraid of stepping on the free throw line and knocking one down with his eyes closed.   

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Building A Winning Team Culture

Building A Winning Team Culture

Megan Zimlich is an accomplished track star and, among her many other fantastic qualities, is an important player on our team here at Sport Fuels Life and Team Connection. When it comes to building a successful team culture, she believes that honest assessment, getting specific with setting goals, and making accountability a priority are all vital elements. Read on below to learn more about Megan!

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How To Create Winning Cultures For Your Team and Life

How To Create Winning Cultures For Your Team and Life

Team Connection’s Key Account Sales Manager, Ikenna Smart, knows exactly how sports can change a life. His incredible story of self discovery and community through his basketball career led him to start his own foundation, donating shoes to those in need in his home country of Nigeria. We asked Ikenna to share with us his thoughts on what it takes to build a winning team culture, and his thoughtful responses are sure to ignite your own Sport Fuels Life passions. 

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How Herb Bolick is Serving Up A New Kind of Sports Community

How Herb Bolick is Serving Up A New Kind of Sports Community

Team Connection’s President and Founder, Herb Bolick knows firsthand how being a team player helps everyone to shine bright. He’s spent over 25 years working professionally as a tennis player and coach, and he was inducted into the North Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame in 1993. Read on below to get to know the man at the helm of Sport Fuels Life, and learn more about why he’s passionate about helping you build authentic and active sports communities.

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