Sports headlines are filled with heroic moments on the field: a game-winning shot, the walk-off hit, a play that totally changes the momentum of a game.
Beyond those headlines, sometimes in total obscurity, there are players, coaches and other individuals from all walks of life doing their part to make a difference off the field, from the youth level to professional sports. These are the real winners that players, coaches and parents can learn from in building a positive youth sports culture.
Here are this week’s heroes.
Don Jones II: Defensive back, San Francisco 49ers
The 27-year-old Jones recently made a promise to take Lindsey Preston, a special needs child, to her school prom. On a Friday night in April, he returned to his home county in Alabama to make good on that promise.
Jones’ mother had been Lindsey’s teacher in elementary school, so he was already acquainted with the family. He had a great time dancing and putting smiles on the faces of those in attendance.
“Anything I can do to make some kids smile, I would be more than willing to do,” Jones told local reporters.
According to Lindsey’s mom, Jones went out of his way to make all the kids feel special.
Dwyane Wade: Guard, Miami Heat; James Shaw: Waffle House employee
During the recent shooting at a Waffle House in Antioch, Tennessee, 29-year-old James Shaw disarmed the gunman, who killed four people during the shooting spree.
Shaw appeared on “Ellen,” telling host Ellen DeGeneres that he loved basketball, and that Dwyane Wade was his favorite player.
Right on cue, Ellen brought out the 12-time NBA All-Star, who presented Shaw with a check for $20,000, which matched the amount Ellen awarded the restaurant employee-turned hero. Wade told Shaw he was the kind of role model he would like his own children to look up to.
See the video here.
Chris Renn: Colorado youth coach
As a police officer, Renn knows a thing or two about the importance of safety. The father of three and youth coach is well aware of the widespread neglect for safety in sports. He believes keeping young athletes safe should be a top priority for all levels of youth sports.
“Safety of all sorts is the No. 1 priority with any coach,teacher, parent or anyone that deals with youth,” Renn told The Coloradoan newspaper.
Stephanie Magni: High school coach, Needham, Massachusetts
At this year’s Boston Marathon, Magni ran for more than personal accomplishment: she did it for a cause.
Magni, who coaches softball and field hockey for Needham High School, was inspired to compete in the race for a charity that resonated with her personally. She chose the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, which helps cancer patients pay their rent, mortgage, and other bills while undergoing treatment.
“Cancer has been something that my family has dealt with my entire life,” Magni told USA Field Hockey.com. “I decided if I was going to raise money for the Marathon, I would do it for a cancer organization in honor of my family, which is why I chose the Joe Andruzzi Foundation.”
Magni has raised over $10,000 for the foundation. She finished the race in 5:45:56 in less than ideal weather conditions.
From GameChanger and Stephen Kerr
Like this article? Check out Five Reasons Good Sportsmanship Matters.