The year is over and as we anticipate 2013 it’s also a time to reflect on the past.
Like life, sports had its high and lows, its ups and downs and despite it all kept us entertained and inspired.
For every Jerry Sandusky story, there was a Gabby Douglas story, her gold medal victory in the all-around competition made our hearts swell with pride and joy. For every tragedy, there was a triumph.
We saw the deaths of some sports greats like Junior Seau, Art Modell, Hector Comacho, Leroy Ellis, Orlando Woolridge, Bill Stewart,Steve Sabol, Alex Karras and Angelo Dundee just to name a few; but their legacy lives on to comfort and guide us.
Black Monday brought the firings of several coaches, Andy Reid, Pat Shurmur, Chan Gailey, Lovie Smith, Romeo Crennel and Norv Turner; but also the return of Chuck Pagano to uplift and inspire us.
Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson came back from career-ending injuries rejuvenated, refreshed and re-invented leading their teams to play-off berths at a chance at winning it all.
Veteran Kobe Bryant on the downward turn of his career is leading the league in scoring averaging 30.1 points per game and fourth in minutes played averaging 38.7 minutes per game.
Lebron James earned redemption from becoming a most hated sports icon for leaving Cleveland to winning an NBA Championship and sportsman of the year. Dwayne Wade put sports in perspective by winning custody of his sons and writing a book,”A Father First, How My Life became Bigger Than Basketball.” Both men have grown into manhood admirably conscious of their image for not only their young sons, but young men everywhere.
Notre Dame Football is back! The last time the Fighting Irish were ranked number one was in 1993. The Irish go head to head against SEC powerhouse Alabama for the BCS National Championship, January 7th.
When the nation mourned during a heart-wrenching tragedy, sports teams reached out and embraced its fans from the Miami Heat players bringing their children out with them before a game to honor the Sandy Hook Elementary School victims, to Victor Cruz visiting with the Pinto Family to the Giants including Sandy Hook (Newtown) Community members in pre-game festivities, to college sports teams putting decals on helmets and uniforms in solidarity and support of the victims- sports did its own little bit of good in the world.
My favorite sports story of the year was Clarissa Shields, a U.S Olympic Boxer and the first woman to win a gold medal in the sport. Shields is a 17 year old woman from Flint Michigan who overcame enormous odds to become a champion. Her father was in and out of prison most of her life and she was raised by her grandmother who encouraged her to become whatever she wanted to be and not let race or gender dictate her dreams.
She fought with exuberance, love of the sport and pride. Pride for herself, her city, her family and her country; she didn’t back down from anything or anyone on her road to the gold medal. Along the way she became a role model of sorts for young women, troubled youth, and people without much hope. The Mayor of Flint called her a “rose in a concrete jungle.”
During her interview after winning the gold medal round, Shields was all smiles- one of those big ear to ear grins that draw you in and make you smile too. She was asked what she was feeling as she was fighting the match.
“I came to win. She (Russia’s Nadezda Torlopova) was banging, so I had to bang back with her and show her who the champion is. I want people to know that you can come from nothing and become something, that a girl from a small town called Flint, Michigan can become an Olympic champion.”
Shield’s free-spiritedness, drive, ambition and aggressiveness in the ring was inspiring and captivating. We can all apply the lessons learned from Shields to our own lives, namely to represent yourself well and to never lose your power. Isn’t that the essence of a Jersey Girl? Life and sports on YOUR terms? Living by your rules and doing it WELL?
Clarissa gave a shout out to her hometown at the conclusion of her interview with her arms raised, “Flint-town Stand-up!” she barked.
So for 2013 with a glass of champagne raised high I say “Jersey Girl Sports Fans, Stand up!!! Whoot! Whoot! Whoot! Whoot! Here’s to a fabulous 2013. Who you got??
Your Jersey Girlfriend,