Some Team Nicknames Aren’t Intimidating

Ferocious, tenacious, aggressive, fierce, proud. These are the qualities we usually associate with our sports teams.

As coaches, we want the very mention of our team’s name to strike fear into the hearts of opponents. We want them sitting in their locker rooms the day before they play us, stomachs knotted in fear, thinking, “My gosh, tomorrow we play the Screaming Scarlet Eviscerators. Maybe my mom can write me a note so I don’t have to go.”

That’s why we give our teams nicknames that embody these traits: Lions, Hawks, Vikings, Wolves, Red-Eyed Panthers.

Keeping this in mind, it’s surprising how many teams are named for less than frightening things. A quick scan through a university directory reveals some interesting monikers.

For example, some team nicknames seem downright nice. I can’t imagine a friendlier contest than one between the Gentlemen of Centenary College and the Monks of Saint Joseph’s College. Or the Poets of Whittier College and the Missionaries of Whitman College. Heck, they probably don’t even hire referees for their games.

In contrast, one of the yuckiest matchups would have to be the Banana Slugs of U. of Cal at Santa Cruz versus the Horned Frogs of Texas Christian. How’d you like to mop the gym floor after that one?

And another messy contest in which the feathers are sure to fly: the Fightin’ Blue Hens of Delaware against the Power Gulls of Endicott College.

Some nicknames conjure up powerful images: The Austin College Kangaroos slam-dunking the basketball. The Fighting Parsons of NYACK College telling their opponents, “Don’t elbow me again, or I’ll give you a good blessing.” The Florida Southern Moccasins getting stepped all over by their opponents. The Rhode Island College Anchormen doing their own play-by-play TV coverage. The Retrievers of U. of Maryland-Baltimore County going for the long ball. And the Vandals of Idaho U. spraying graffiti on locker room walls wherever they play.

And then there are the totally uncoachable Mules of Central Missouri, in contrast to the Diplomats of Franklin and Marshall College, who’ll do anything you ask. And, of course, the Chokers of Grays Harbor College, who, for some reason, always seem to miss that game-winning shot.

Some schools, realizing their men’s team nickname may not be popular with their female athletes, have a separate women’s nickname. The Weevils of U. of Arkansas-Monticello mercifully become the women’s Cotton Blossoms. The Student Princes of Heidelburg College become the Student Princesses. However, some teams are not so sensitive to the image of their women’s teams. Surely the Jumbos can’t be a popular nickname among women athletes at Tufts. Ditto for the Pittsburgh State Gorillas or the Trolls of Trinity Christian College.

Finally, there are some team nicknames that just leave you wondering what they are—a great strategy for keeping the opposition confused and unprepared. How do you match up against a Gee Gee from the U. of Ottawa, or an Ook from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology? And what exactly is an Washurn U. Icabod, or a St. Louis U. Billiken?

If nothing else, the research I’ve done for this article has given me some great words to use in my next Scrabble game. For example, do you know what a Saluki is? Or a Catamount? Let’s break out that Scrabble board!

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

P.S. FYI:
Saluki: A hunting dog native to Asia and North Africa. Team nickname for Southern Illinois U.
Catamount: A wild cat such as a cougar or lynx. Team nickname for Vermont U.

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[tags]physical education,team nicknames[/tags]

The Fun Theory is a Physical Education Staple

The “Fun Theory” website is dedicated to the idea  that “something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behavior for the better.” It’s an initiative of Volkswagen, as a marketing tool to develop the image that their vehicles are fun, but the ideas are all user-generated and the concept is an excellent one. Here’s how it works: there is a cash award for the best ideas – videos are submitted to the site showing each submitter’s theory in action – and an online vote is taken to determine the winner.

Some of the ideas are simple, some require complex engineering, but the results are a lot of fun to see – and many seem highly effective!

Here’s one idea with a fitness slant. You’ll often see an escalator beside a set of stairs – in subways, airports, malls, etc. Usually, the stairs are vacant while the escalator is highly used. In the situation shown on the video, 97% took the escalator while the stairs were typically used only 3% of the time. So a group of engineers got together to make the stairs more fun. They completely changed the user percentage – after their “fun” change, 66% of users took the stairs while the escalator percentage dropped from 97% to 34%!

“Fun” is a theory that physical education teachers have been practicing for decades. One of the main goals of good physical educators is to make fitness fun, because that’s the best way to motivate students into making physical activity part of their daily lifestyle.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]physical education,fun theory,fun activity,fun fitness[/tags]

Inspirational Video for the Underdog – Beating the Odds

Does your team have an upcoming competition against an overwhelming favorite? Do they think they don’t stand a chance? Do you need a way to fire them up and get them to believe?

Then have them watch this inspirational video, produced as a Nike advertisement in 2010.

Here’s a sample of the script:

“Just remember, out here, the results don’t always add up. No matter what the stats may say, no matter what the experts may think, and commentators may have predicted, when the race is on, all bets are off. Don’t be surprised if somebody decides to flip the script and take a pass on yelling ‘Uncle.” And then suddenly, as the old saying goes, “We got ourselves a game.”

There’s just one caveat about the language. The video contains the phrase, “Just because they’re strong doesn’t mean they can’t get their asses kicked.” That might not be appropriate for the classroom or for younger students.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]inspirational video,sports inspiration,underdogs,underdog,coaching,physical education[/tags]

A Lesson From the Winter Olympics – Don’t Regret Taking a Risk

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The Winter Olympics have been my constant companion since the first minutes of the opening ceremonies. In fact, they’re on my office TV as I write this blog.

I’m a proud Canadian and have watched a number of Canucks, some of them favorites in their event, finish off the podium.

Skeleton racer and race favourite, Melissa Hollingsworth dropped from 2nd to finish fifth on her last run of the competition. Chris del Bosco, in sight of the finish line with a solid bronze medal in his pocket, took a risky jump and hit the deck. He finished fourth. Bobsledder Lyndon Rush crashed his sled after an excellent start – he was in third place at the time. A number of our Canadian downhill and grand slalom skiers fell on the icy slopes at Whistler.

I couldn’t be prouder of them.

Why? Because these athletes could have played it safe and settled for a performance that might have netted a minor medal but would have, in their mind, been mediocre. Instead, they rolled the dice and went for it all.

There is no big payout without big risk.

It’s a concept I am constantly trying to teach my young athletes. I ask them never to regret taking a gamble and pushing for more. Sometimes taking a risk works and sometimes it doesn’t, but they’ll never know their limits unless they try.

Thank you, Mellisa and Chris and everyone who has taken a gamble on that biggest of stages. For some of you, it has paid off wonderfully. For others it hasn’t. But it’s better to test your limits and crash then to always wonder how much better you could have been. It’s what competing and pushing for excellence is all about. It’s what the Olympics are supposed to be all about.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]Winter Olympics,Olympic skeleton,Olympic ski cross,Olympic bobsled,Olympic Downhill[/tags]

Rocco’s Attitude Provided a Tremendous Lesson for Aspiring Athletes

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Imagine your sport. Imagine playing the all-time best player in that sport. Then imagine playing that athlete head-to-head in front of the world…and almost beating him/her.

That’s the situation that faced golfer Rocco Mediate in the U.S. Open last week.

Mediate is a 45-year old journeyman golfer – just recovered from back surgery and ranked only 145th on the tour – who found himself in an incredibly surprising and intimidating situation. Barely qualifying for the tournament, he had put together an incredible three days of golf and found himself facing Tiger Woods in an 18-hole playoff for the the U.S. Open championship.

Imagine the potential for disaster. This wasn’t a one-hole sudden-death playoff in which one or two bad shots would end the tournament. It was a full 18-hole extra round, toe-to-toe against the best player in history, with each hole televised for a huge international audience. It represented the potential for a crushing defeat and incredible humiliation.

How would YOU handle this situation? How did Rocco? In fact, he maintained an attitude that I wish every young athlete could replicate. Here are two quotes that demonstrated his approach, both delivered with a huge smile on his face:

“I’m up against the best in the world. Everyone is expecting me to not win, but I can’t wait to see how I do.”

And after Rocco played Tiger, and lost only after 19 holes of intense play.

“I got what I wanted. I got the chance to beat the best player in the world. I came up just a little bit short, but I think I had him scared for a while.”

That’s right. This playoff was a scenario he had dreamed about since he was a kid. It had finally become reality, so I know he felt doubt and anxiety. But he decided to relish the realization of his life’s dream, not fear it.  And this attitude showed on the course. He played loose and relaxed and had fun… and almost won the tournament. In fact, if not for an incredible putt by Woods on the 18th hole to once again tie the game, Rocco Mediate would have won the U.S. Open.

He provides a valuable lesson for aspiring athletes. If you finally get what you’ve been dreaming about, don’t dread it…embrace it!!

Want to see an interview with Rocco Mediate after the tournament. Check out this YouTube clip:   Rocco Interview

By the way – summer vacation is almost here for most of our physical education readership (at least, for those of you in the northern hemisphere), so I’m going to lighten the schedule for the PE Update blog. We’ll publish only every two or three weeks over the summer.  Heck – you’ll probably all be out trying to become the next Rocco Mediate and won’t have time to read blogs!

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]golf,sports,attitude,physical education,athletes,Rocco Mediate,Tiger Woods[/tags]

A Good Luck Message From A Caring Coach

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As the scholastic sport season winds down, I’d like to post this message from a coach to his athletes. Circumstances beyond his control left Colin Ward, the head track coach at Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School, unable to attend the city championships with his athletes – athletes with whom he’d been working for months.

While he couldn’t be there in person, he sent a message that encompasses practical advice with inspirational words. It also embodies the true spirit of scholastic sport.This is the message he sent before the meet.

Coach’s Send-Off
I want to say good luck to all of you as you head into the City Championships! I wish I could be there to see all of our training pay off. I want you to know, you all have the capacity to exceed yourselves, most of you have worked very hard to get to this point, and with these few tips you will be able to make the most of your experience this week!

1. Cheer for each other and watch each other! Most people need an audience, or at the very least, appreciate the words of encouragement that come from friends and team mates.

2. Support each other. Some people will have great days and simply need to be congratulated, others will have bad days, and just need a friend to sit with.

3. The little things matter! Our team usually does better when the conditions are horrible because we pay attention to details. That means……..

  • Rest the day before, and get a good sleep before and during competitions.
    •    Eat well and drink lots of water,
    •    STAY OUT OF THE SUN AND WIND
    •    Dress properly. You should have the clothes to stay warm in any weather. The engine only works when it is hot! If you get cold, you may as well throw away months of training.
    •    Cool down! Most of you know to warm-up properly, but if you don’t cool down you are slowing your recovery. A light jog for 10 -20 minutes is a good use of time after an event.

4. Focus on the positive. You might not do as well as you were hoping to, but beating yourself up over it won’t do any good. Focus instead on what went right, then think about areas for improvement. This is not always easy to do in the heat of the moment, but it is worth keeping in mind.

5. Have fun!! High School will be over before you know it. Enjoy these moments with your team and friends. Years from now it won’t matter how you did, it will just matter that you did.

And post videos and pictures for me, I’ll be following the events closely.”

This is the final blog post until September. I won’t post during the July or August vacation period because I’m not sure there’ll be anyone to read them. Have a great summer!!

Dick Moss, Editor, 
PE Update.com

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

To check out the PE Update.com website, click here
Physical Education Update

[tags]physical education,track and field,coaching,coach>[/tags]