About BTiell Sports Reports

Dr. Bonnie Tiell writes a monthly column for the Tiffin Advertiser Tribune Sports Department (http://www.advertiser-tribune.com/). This blog archives each column and dates back to the 2008 Olympic Academic Experience in Beijing, China. Check out the Blog Archives to read more. Check out info about the TU Olympic Academic Experience at http://www.tuolympics.blogspot.com/ and contact Dr. Tiell at btiell@tiffin.edu

Saturday, September 5, 2009

August 15 - A hero for Tiffin and lessons beyond the playing field

Published Aug 15, 2009 - Advertiser Tribune

Last month I commented on the great female role models in the community who serve as collegiate coaches. With the gridiron season rolling around, the timing is perfect to commend not only another role model, but a real hero who recently relocated to Tiffin to help coach the Dragons football program.
Sure, coach Dave Walkosky is fortunate to have Brian Ferguson on staff, with his previous experience on the payroll of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a professional team in Europe (Rhein Fire). Our entire community is more fortunate to have Vince Davis on Walkosky's staff - not because he has three years of (semi) pro coaching experience (with the Manasota Stars), but because he exemplifies life lessons that are much bigger than the game of football. You see, Coach Davis is a foster and adoptive parent.

Dan O'Brien, 1996 Olympic Decathlon gold medalist, was a foster child. So was NBA player Alonzo Mourning and NFL quarterback, Daunte Culpepper. There also are a few famous sport personalities extolled for becoming adoptive parents, such as Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Babe Ruth. It's difficult to find examples of athletes or coaches who choose to serve as foster parents. Davis is a diamond in the rough whose humanitarian efforts serve as an inspiration.
Davis worked for many years in a sex offenders program in his home state of Florida. When the agency he worked under shut its doors, Davis and his wife, Rachel, shifted their social service efforts to become foster parents. Since 2001, the Davis's have fostered more than 600 children while caring for as many as 18 children in their home at one time. Busy setting up school for the three children they brought to Ohio this month, the couple maintains close contact with older foster children who are finishing high school back in Tampa. Davis is hard at work in preseason, and mom's hard at work looking for a job to help pay the bills as the couple considers fostering more children in the Tiffin area.

The Davis family includes 7-year-old Lorenzo "Nookie" Davis who was adopted by Vince and Rachel when he was 5-months old. Nookie is an inquisitive little guy who was absorbed in his portable PlayStation game when I spoke to him last week. He only is a year younger than the 8-year old from Glenville, W.Va., who died earlier this month after collapsing during a youth football league practice. Nookie also is four years younger than the 12-year-old from Hanoverton, OH, who had an asthma attack, collapsed and died the same week following his junior high football team practice. Finally, Davis' little boy is nine years younger than the 16-year old who was hospitalized and died following a routine football practice in Tennessee on July 30.

One of my favorite professors from my days at the University of North Carolina (Dr. Fred Mueller), directs the National Center for Catastrophic Research, where these three incidents soon will be added to the grim statistics on sport-related fatalities. The center cites more than 100 direct deaths in high school football and nine in college football since 1982. Indirect football fatalities (e.g. heat stroke) have totaled 42 at the collegiate level and 177 at the high school level. At least 39 players across all levels have died from heat-related causes since 1995, and that number has increased by at least three this year.
Most heat-related fatality cases have occurred during the month of August, which has prompted the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) to urge an end to two-a-day practices in the month. In Florida, contact drills are prohibited during first three days of practice and in Texas, the minimum break between sessions is one hour, which the NATA wants to change to three hours.
A Georgia-based company (Hothead Sports) is marketing a tiny heat sensor that can be placed inside a football helmet to monitor a player's body temperature. The sensor is being marketed for construction workers and the military. At a cost of $99, it is doubtful these sensors are affordable enough to provide at the youth and high school level.

The game of football is never free of hot-topic preseason stories. Consider the recent anecdotes of Michael Vick trying to get in the good graces of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and his new team (Philadelphia Eagles). Then there is Cleveland Brown Donte' Stallworth, who pulled down a year-long suspension without pay for involuntary manslaughter, and the news of Ben Roethlisberger's denial of rape allegations fleeting in the wake of the credibility of his accuser.
College football has its share of recent scandalous stories, especially in Davis' home state of Florida. The Florida State Seminoles still are recovering from 61 academic fraud allegations in an online music course, and there is a recent report citing 24 arrests of Florida Gator football players under the watch of coach Urban Meyer. Sure, other sports don't have that many problem children . just look in the mirror, Rick Pitino.
How great it is to acclaim the heartwarming feel-good story about Davis' role as a foster parent. It is too rare that we are blessed with such positive stories when it comes to sports commentaries. Stay tuned for September's reports, featuring one of the most exciting months in the sports world and plenty of inspiration to agitate those great Buckeye and Browns' fanatics.

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