History of Jackie Robinson for Kids

Close your eyes and imagine you’re in a baseball stadium and stepping up to bat. Dodger stadium is packed full of cheering fans. Some are cheering you on, others are calling you horrible names from the stands. You take a deep breath and try to ignore them. You hold up your bat and look at the pitcher, who is preparing to throw the ball. He pulls back, then throws the ball and it comes flying toward at full speed. You swing your bat and hit the ball. With a crack it flies high over the field as you sprint from first base, then on to second, third and home. It’s a homerun! Your teammates congratulate you, but some in the stands are still calling you mean names. This is what happened to Jackie Robinson, the famous baseball player. But who was Jackie Ronbinson? How did he end up playing for the Dodgers? And why was the crowd calling him horrible names? 

Jackie Roosevelt Robinson was born January 31, 1919 in Cairo, Georgia. His father left the family when he was little, leaving his mother, Mallie, to raise him and his four other siblings. Soon after this they moved to Pasadena, California. In California Jackie and his family lived in a neighborhood where they were treated differently. They had come from Georgia where most of the other families were African-American, but in California families in their new neighborhood were not and were white. This was a time when racial discrimination was common. Racial discrimination is when a group of people are treated differently because of their race and color of skin in this case. For example, they aren’t able to have the same jobs — or they are segregated, which means they have to go to different schools or use different bathrooms or restaurants. Jackie loved sports, but because he was black wasn’t able to play in the same leagues as the other kids.

But this didn’t keep Jackie from playing his favorite sports anyway. Two of his favorites were basketball and baseball. He spent a lot of time practicing and became better and better. 

In high school, Jackie’s older brothers Frank and Mack, saw how good Jackie’s was and urged him try out for the school teams. At his high school fortunately there was no segregation and Jackie was able to play alongside his white classmates. There Jackie ended up playing football, baseball, basketball and track and did very well in all of them. On the baseball team he was the catcher and in football he was the quarterback. For the basketball team he was a guard. In track and field his best skill was the broad jump. Oh, and he also played tennis. As you can tell, Jackie loved sports! 

After high school, Jackie moved onto junior college where he continued to play all of his favorite sports and do very well. He broke several records there, but later switched schools and moved to Los Angeles to attend UCLA. At UCLA the teams were also racially integrated, which means Jackie was able to play on the same teams as the white athletes. In football their team went undefeated. In track and field he won the national championship for long jump, jumping over 24 feet! He also played baseball at UCLA and there met his future wife, Rachel. 

After college, Jackie played semi-professional football for a short while, but his career was cut short when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941. Soon after this Jackie joined the army and applied for Officer Candidate School. At the time Jackie and others who were black were not typically allowed to be officers, leadership in the military, but eventually they were accepted. He and his wife moved to Fort Hood, Texas to start Officer Training School. One day at Fort Hood, Jackie was waiting for the bus to arrive. When it did arrive, he climbed on the bus and sat at the front, but the driver told him he had to sit at the back because of the color of his skin. Jackie refused and would not move. He did these knowing he knew he might be hurt or put in jail for his actions. The driver called the police and they took Jackie away. Tragically, Jackie wasn’t able to continue Officer Training School, because of his choice to stand up against discrimination.

Jackie was transferred from Fort Hood to a base in Kentucky where he became a coach for the army until the war ended. 

A few years later, Jackie was at the airport and stood in a part of the airport that was segregated. He was asked to leave, but did not. This was another example where Jackie refused to be treated differently, defied the law and put himself in harm’s way by doing so.

One of Jackie Robinson’s famous quotes was: “I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me… all I ask is that you respect me as a human being.” He also said: “There’s not an American in this country free until every one of us is free.” More than anything, Jackie wanted to be treated fairly and for segregation between people of different skin color to end. 

For a brief time, Jackie played for a segregated league, with other players who were black like himself, but more than anything he wanted to play for the Major Leagues, but most teams wouldn’t allow him because of segregation.

Fortunately, the Brooklyn Dodgers were interested in including black players. The manager of the Dodgers, Branch Rickey, called Jackie and met with him asking if he was interested and also whether he’d be able to be strong even when others treated him poorly. Jackie agreed and began playing for the Dodgers international team, the Montreal Royals. The Royals were a minor league, but a big step forward in his goal to play in the Major Leagues. Jackie traveled with the team and struggled at first, but began to improve and eventually became the MVP (or Most Valuable Player) in his league. 

April 18, 1946 was a momentous day when the Royals played against the Jersey City Giants making it the first time players of different skin color in a minor league competed against each other. 

In 1947 Jackie Robinson was finally invited to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the Major Leagues. He played first baseman to a crowd of more than 26,000 spectators which included spectators who were black and white. At first, Jackie’s own team was unsure whether they were ready to play with him. They had come from families who believed in segregation, so it was new for them to welcome and become teammates and friends with someone who was black. But over time they became close and eventually supported him. During one game when the other team was harassing Jackie, a teammate Pee Wee Reese saw what was happening and put his arm around Jackie to comfort him.

Jackie finished the season with the Dodgers with 151 games. He had a batting average of 297, an on-base percentage of 373, and a 427 slugging percentage. He had 175 hits (scoring 125 runs) including 31 doubles, 5 triples, and 12 home runs, driving in 48 runs for the year. Jackie also led the league in sacrifice hits, with 28, and in stolen bases, with 29.

He ended up winning the Major League Rookie of the Year award. A rookie is someone who is new to the major leagues. 

Over the years, Jackie continued to improve at his game and in 1949 joined the all-star team. In 1955 the Dodgers went to the world series and beat the Yankees for the championship. 

Later after retiring from baseball, Jackie Robinson was active in politics and later continued to speak out about equality in Major League baseball. He later had a baseball stadium named after him and the Rookie of the Year award was later called “The Jackie Robinson” award. In 1997 his jersey number “42” was retired, which means no one was able to use the same number because it would also be reserved for Jackie. 

Jackie once said: “”A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” Think about what that means for a moment. What does it mean to have an impact or make a difference in the lives of others for good? How can you make a difference in the lives of others for good? 

He also said: “Life is not a spectator sport. If you’re going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion you’re wasting your life.” A spectator means just watching others. It’s fun to watch others, but Jackie’s saying it’s even better to get out and play yourself. Think of something you like to watch? Have you ever considered doing it yourself? 

Spend some time thinking about what Jackie Robinson experienced in his life as he dealt with racial discrimination. Racial discrimination is when someone treats someone else differently due to their race, which means where they come from, the color of their skin, and what they look like. It was very hard for Jackie to be called names and treated poorly due to his race — to be forced to sit at the back of the bus, for example. But Jackie knew that all people are the same on the inside. We are all human, and all want to be treated equally and loved and cared for. We all have the same hopes and dreams and desires to lead a happy life. Jackie wasn’t afraid to stand up for himself and tell others that they were wrong. Often it takes time for people to change, but many people around Jackie did change. His teammates eventually accepted him and those watching baseball realized Jackie was the same as any other player and should be treated that way. Take the time to think about someone you know who might be a different race or appear to be different than you in other ways. As you get to know them you’ll realize you have more in common than is different. It’s also important to let others know they should be respectful of all people. If you hear someone say something mean about a different race or tell a joke, let them know those words can be hurtful and are not ok. 

History of Babe Ruth for Kids

Close your eyes and imagine you are sitting in a stadium with crowds of people all around you. You smell buttery popcorn and freshly cooked hot dogs. “Peanuts! Popcorn!” A vendor yells from across the aisle. “Get your peanuts, popcorn!” As everyone gets seated there is a feeling of excitement in the air. The loudspeakers start playing, “Take me out to the ballgame!” The crowd sings along. You hear the crack of a baseball against a bat. The game has begun! 

If you’re familiar with baseball do these nicknames sound familiar? The Sultan of Swat? The Great Bambino? The Colossus of Clout? These are all nicknames for one of the most famous baseball players to have ever lived, Babe Ruth!

Babe Ruth’s real name was George Herman Ruth Jr. and he was born in Baltimore, Maryland on February 6, 1895. His grandparents were immigrants from Europe, so the first language he spoke was German. Growing up, his dad owned and ran a saloon. There, Ruth really did whatever he wanted. He didn’t have many rules and just ran wild with his friends through the streets of town. And with his dad being busy with the business, Ruth got into a lot of trouble. In fact, he got into so much trouble and his parents couldn’t control him that they put him in St. Mary’s Industrial School. This was a special school for boys who needed more structure than their parents were able to give them at home. At the school, one of his teachers, Brother Matthais, loved baseball. He taught the boys how to play and Ruth got into the game, too. Ruth ended up living at the school for 12 years and there got a basic education and learned some life skills. He used these skills and became a shirtmaker and could make things out of wood, known as carpentry. 

Ruth kept playing baseball and when he was 19 tried and made the minor league team for the Baltimore Orioles. The other players teased Ruth because he was the favorite or “darling” of the owner, Jack Dunn. Because of this they started calling him “Babe”!  This is how Babe Ruth’s famous nickname was born! Even though Babe Ruth was a big success with the Orioles, the owner ran into money trouble and he was forced to sell his best players to the Major Leagues.

From there Ruth was sent to play for the Boston Red Sox. When Ruth first started playing, he was a left-handed pitcher but really wanted to bat more, so he started playing outfield and first base. Ruth tried to hit almost everything, and because of that, he struck out a lot! But he was very determined and never gave up. He even said that “Every strike brings me closer to the next homerun”. And the Red Sox fans loved him, because he did hit a lot of homeruns! One year he hit home runs in 4 games in a row. The next year, he helped the Red Sox win the World Series in 1918. 

In 1919 Ruth was sold to the New York Yankees. The Red Sox sold him because the owner wanted more money and Babe Ruth was worth a lot. And the New York Yankees wanted him because they hoped he could help them win a World Series. There were lots of mixed reactions to him being traded. Some Boston fans were devastated to lose Ruth, while others thought he was too much trouble. While he wasn’t playing baseball, he spent a lot of time partying and sometimes getting into trouble. But the Boston fans who liked Ruth, believed that trading him started an 84 year “curse”, during which the Red Sox did not win a World Series. It was called “The Curse of the Bambino”. Before he was traded, the Red Sox had won 5 of the 15 World Series that had been played. But after they sold Ruth they didn’t win another World Series until 2004. 

With Ruth, the New York Yankees did very well! In fact, they won the World Series 4 times, and they won the American league title 7 times! When Ruth was traded to the Yankees he became a full time outfielder, and was now able to bat all the time. He hit home run after home run and the New York fans loved him! During his first year, the Yankees had a record number of people at the stadium, 1.2 million people. It was the first time that any Major League Baseball game attendance had reached 1 million. During his 13 years with the Yankees, he became the highest paid player up to that point, making 2 ½  times more than any other player in the league. At the time, Ruth even made more than the president of the United States! On the team he was part of a group of players called Murderers Row. They got that name from the power of the hitters. The players were Earle Combs, Mark Koenig, Lou Gehrig, Bob Meusel, Tony Lazzeri, and Babe Ruth. 

Sadly, Ruth spent many years of his life drinking too much alcohol and not taking care of his health. He also spent most of the money he made on things he didn’t need and that didn’t help better his life. Because of his poor health choices, he began to have trouble running the bases and catching the ball. He played his last full season with the Yankees in 1934. 

Ruth wanted to become a manager of a team himself but didn’t have any luck finding a position. But like hitting home runs, Ruth was never one to give up. He once said “you just can’t beat the person who never gives up.”  

Eventually he was traded to the Boston Braves as a “gate attraction.” This means he was hired not necessarily because he was good anymore, but because he’d been famous and would cause people to pay to come to the game to see him. 

He retired early that year in 1935. The next year he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. 

Babe Ruth became popular at a time when baseball became very popular in the United States and known as “America’s Pastime.” One reason was because the world had just gone through the first World War and then the 1918 flu pandemic, which were very tragic times and many lives were lost. America needed something good and positive to focus on. Baseball and sports figures like Babe Ruth became a symbol of that optimism and fun pastime. He also symbolized an American Dream that someone who came from very little money and didn’t have a well-known family could become famous. His life also showed us that it’s important to take care of yourself and set rules for yourself. If we want our bodies to work well we need to take care of them by eating good foods and exercising.

Babe Ruth worked very hard and took risks to become one of the greatest home run hitters of all time. He once said, “Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.” This means there are many things you can worry about in life or fears that may keep you from acting. But like Babe Ruth said, if you worry too much about “striking out,” you’ll never get those things done and “swing the bat” and make the moves you need to take the next step in life. For you this might mean trying out for a sport or learning how to draw or some other skill. Don’t worry about what others might say or do, don’t worry about “striking out” and just act like Babe Ruth! 

The Origins of the Olympics and the First Modern Olympics for Kids

Have you ever been in front of a crowd? If you have, what did it feel like? Can you imagine thousands of people watching you, waiting to see what you do? Also imagine if you were competing in your favorite sport. That sounds really intimidating, doesn’t it? This is what it feels like for someone participating in the Olympics, which will be held again this month! 

Believe it or not, the Olympics are a tradition that have ancient roots, all the way back to 7th century BCE Greece, over 2,500 years ago! They happen every 2 years and switch between the Winter and Summer games. Usually around 200 countries come together to participate. It is an amazing show of worldwide unity and putting aside differences to celebrate sport and achievement.

The Ancient Olympics were part of a festival to honor the Greek god Zeus, who was the father of all the other gods and goddesses in Greek mythology. They were held every 4 years at Olympia, which was named after Mt. Olympus, the home of the Greek gods. The competitors came from everywhere in the Greek world. From Iberia, present day Spain, to the Black Sea, near Turkey.

Although some sources say that it’s possible that the Olympics began in the 9th or 10th century BCE, the agreed upon year the Olympics started is 776 BCE. It is said that the only event for the first 13 festivals was the stadion, a foot race 600 ft long. The first recorded person to win the race was a cook from the city of Elis. I thought it was pretty cool that a cook won the first race. Eventually other sports were added which included running races, jumping, wrestling, boxing, horse-related events, discus, and so on.

The Olympics were held in Ancient Greece for almost 1200 years. The Olympics became less frequent starting in the 2nd century BCE when the Romans invaded Greece. Sometimes they would interfere by trying to declare themselves the winner. Not very fair, right? The Olympics came to an end in 393 CE when Emperor Theodosius I declared an end to all pagan festivals. Pagan began festivals that celebrated the Greek gods.

It was 1,500 years until the Olympics finally returned. A man from France named Pierre de Coubertin was visiting the ancient Olympic site in Greece when he had an idea. He was very interested in physical education and wanted others to be, too. He thought that starting the Olympics games back up would inspire others to be physically fit, too! 

He shared his idea to start the Olympics in November 1892. Two years later he got permission to create the International Olympic Committee, which is the same group in charge of the Olympics even to this day! A Greek man named Demetrius Vikelas was elected to be the first president. Through Coubertin and Vikelas’ hard work, and many people across the world donating, enough money was raised to help Greece host the Olympics. Two years later in 1896 they held the first modern Olympics in Athens, Greece. People from all over the world came to watch the first modern Olympics and over 80,000 people filled the stadium during opening ceremonies! More people attended this event than any sporting event in history. There were 280 people participating from 14 different countries. Some of the different sports were cycling, fencing, gymnastics, shooting, swimming, racing, weightlifting, tennis and wrestling. 

During the first modern Olympics winners were awarded silver medals and the runners up were awarded copper medals. As you may know today the medals are gold, silver, and bronze. The United States won 11 silver medals and Greece won the most medals overall, 46. Runners up were Germany, France and Great Britain. A highlight of the Olympics was Greek marathon runner, Spyridion Louis, winning the marathon and the most competitive participant was German wrestler, Carl Schumann, who won 4 events. 

The first winter Olympics were held in 1924. For 70 years, both the Summer and Winter Olympics were held during the same year. It wasn’t until 1994 that they were split and began switching every 2 years.

There are many symbols around the Olympics, like the flag and the motto that have deep meaning.

The Olympic flag was originally created by Coubertin in 1913. It is a white background with five rings: blue, yellow, black, green and red. The five rings were to represent the 5 continents: Europe, Africa, Asia, America and Oceania. Coubertin chose those colors because together they represented the colors of all the countries participating. He took the rings interlocking from the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, interlocking rings symbolized to Jung continuity and the human being. It was a flag created to represent everyone, truly an international symbol.

The Olympic motto is “Citius, Altius, Fortius”, which is Latin for “faster, higher, stronger” It was suggested by Coubertin at the original International Olympic Committee meeting. It was a saying that a friend of his, Henri Didon, who was a priest and a teacher came up with. Coubertin said “These three words represent a programme of moral beauty. The aesthetics of sport are intangible.” It was officially introduced at the 1924 games. 

The Olympic creed was said by the Bishop of Central Pennsylvania, Ethelbert Talbot, in a sermon during the 1908 Olympics. He said, “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”

The Olympic Anthem is played when the Olympic flag is raised and even though it was performed at the first modern Olympics in 1896, it wasn’t made the official anthem until 1958. It was composed by Spyridon Samaras; the words are from a poem by the Greek writer Kostis Palamas. The poem is a celebration of the Olympics, and the sense of a worldwide friendship that comes with Olympics. A small part of it says, “As now we come across the world/To share these Games of old/Let all the flags of every land/In brotherhood unfold   Sing out each nation, voices strong/Rise up in harmony/All hail our brave Olympians/With strains of victory”. The anthem shows just how much the Olympics are meant to unify us.

Anciently, the prize for winning (only first place was recognized anciently) was a kotinos, a wild olive branch intertwined to form a circle. The kotinos was made from a sacred olive tree by the temple of Zeus near Olympia. But of course now first, second and third place are awarded medals. The front of the medal shows an image of Nike, the Greek goddess of victory and the back shows the host country of the games. Olympic diplomas are then given to fourth through eighth places. 

There is a modern Olympic tradition that was introduced at the Berlin Games in 1936. Months before the games are held, a torch is lit at the site of the ancient Olympics in Olympia, Greece. To do this the Sun is used to light the torch using a parabolic reflector (kind of like a giant mirror shaped like a bowl). The torch is then taken out of Greece to the host country and travels around before the games, staying lit the entire time. Sometimes on it’s way to the host country it is taken to really exciting places. The flame has gone underwater, to the North Pole and even to Outer Space! It has been carried by both famous people and ordinary people. The first day of the Olympics is called Opening Ceremonies. The day of Opening Ceremonies it is taken to a cauldron that is used to light the ceremonies. Here all of the participants parade around the stadium carrying flags representing their different countries. It’s an exciting day for the participants and for the world!

Today the Olympics includes many more sports than the first modern Olympics which beyond the traditional sports include basketball, baseball, volleyball, BMX, diving, soccer, hockey, karate, skateboarding, surfing, and trampolines.

The Olympic games come from the desire to be a part of something more, and while no country is perfect, it is incredible to see what we can accomplish when we work together, instead of apart. As we go into this exciting worldwide tradition this month and next, think about what you can do to contribute to unity in your world. Unity or to unify means to come together, to work together, to be one. Think about what this means as a family, friends, in your school and community. Our small efforts always have a bigger effect than we think they will. How can you make a difference?

Also, as you watch the Olympics, think about sports you are interested in, or might be interested in! Physical activity is good for your body and mind. Studies show that exercising makes you happier! When you move about and play and exercise chemicals in your brain are released that make you feel better and feel less stress. Isn’t that cool? I know for me it feels to get out and run or ride my bike or swim with my kids. It clears my mind and it gives me added strength or energy. Spend some time thinking about how you might add more physical activity to your life, and maybe by watching the Olympics you’ll be inspired to try a new sport.

The History of Michael Jordan for Kids

Close your eyes and imagine you are a basketball player racing down the court with your team. From the stands a huge crowd is watching and cheering and millions more are watching you on TV. You’ve played hard all night. You’re sweating and breathing heavy. Your legs ache and you want to take a break, but you know you’ve got to keep going. It’s the championship game for all colleges across the United States. The game is tied, there are only a few seconds left, and your team is losing by one point! The clock is running. You dodge your opponent to an open spot on the court. The point guard sees you open. The ball is flying across the court toward you. You grab it, jump, take aim for the basket, and shoot. The ball spins gracefully through the air and falls through hoop! You made the shot! The crowd goes wild! With seventeen second left your team wins the game. Your teammates pick you up and carry you off the court in celebration. 

This was the winning moment that made North Carolina freshman Mike Jordan into Michael Jordan, who became the most famous basketball player of all time.  

Michael Jordan was born on February 17, 1963 in Brooklyn, New York.  He was the fourth of five children in his family.  When he was just a toddler, his family moved to Wilmington, North Carolina. When Michael tried out for the school’s basketball team they said his was too short to play and he didn’t make the team.

Instead of feeling bad for himself, Michael worked harder.  He practiced every day and made the team the next year. Eventually he became the star of his basketball team.  He trained very hard and by the time he was in his final year of high school colleges were asking him to come play for them. 

After receiving many offers, Michael accepted a basketball scholarship to North Carolina university. A scholarship is where a college pays for all of your schooling. In college Michael studied geography and played on the basketball team.  He helped his team make it to the championship game. During the final seventeen seconds his team was losing but Michael took a jump shot and won the game! Scoring the winning shot made Michael famous, and after college he joined the Chicago Bulls, a professional basketball team.

From the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, everyone loved to watch Michael Jordan play basketball. Because he could jump so high, he earned the nicknames “Air Jordan”, “His Airness” or just “MJ.” He had amazing leaping abilities and could do slam dunks from the free throw line in slam dunk contests. During games he was known for doing trick dunks and dunking over other players. He also used other trick moves like the reverse layup.

During the summer of 1984, Jordan played for the U.S. Olympic basketball team. The team won the gold medal at the games that year, which were held in Los Angeles. In the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona Spain Jordan and his team became known as the “Dream Team” and won their second gold medal there.

Over the years, Michael worked with a number of large brands in their advertisements, including Nike, Hanes, Upper Deck, Gatorade, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Chevrolet and Wheaties. He even acted in a few movies like Michael Jordan’s Playground and Space Jam. The movie mixed live action and animation and had Michael act with cartoon legends Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck on screen.  Nike created a whole line of shoes and sports clothes named “Air Jordan” after him. Many kids at the time wanted to be like Michael Jordan and wear the shoes with his name.

In 1985, even though he was a very wealthy basketball player, Jordan knew school was important so made sure he finished the college degree in geography he had started. 

During his second season he tore his ACL and was hurt badly, but after this went on to become the first player since Wilt Chamberlin to score more than 3,000 points in a single season.

In 1989, Michael Jordan was married and later had three children. He was close with his children and taught them to play basketball too. Many years later Michael’s oldest son, Jeffrey, made the basketball team at the University of Illinois. Michael always tried to help his children do their own thing and not feel they needed to be as successful as he was or successful in the same way.  He said that the thing that he has tried to tell his children is that they should set their own expectations. Expectations are strong beliefs of something you want for yourself in the future.

By the late 1980s, the Chicago Bulls were becoming the team to beat and Jordan was a huge part of the team’s success. The Bulls made it to the Eastern Conference Finals in 1990 and won their first NBA championship the following year by beating the Los Angeles Lakers. A NBA superstar, Jordan became known for his power and agility on the court as well as for his leadership abilities.

During his time on the Chicago Bulls team, Michael Jordan led his team to six NBA championships and he won the Most Valuable Player Award in the tournament five times. He became the most famous basketball player in the world and kids everywhere were inspired to play basketball like Michael Jordan and dress like him and wear his number, 23. 

At one game Michael Jordan wore a nameless no. 12 jersey because his no. 23 jersey had been stolen! One funny fact about Michael is he was known for sticking his tongue out when driving to the basket or dunking a ball. 

In 1993 Michael’s father died and this was a very hard time for him and his family. After many years of success playing basketball, Michael retired and decided to play minor league baseball. He played for a team called the Birmingham Barons, as an outfielder. 

In March 1995, after a short time playing baseball, Michael returned to the basketball court, and re-joined the Chicago Bulls.  He eventually helped them win the championship against the Seattle Sonics in the 1995 to 96 season.

In 1997 during the NBA Finals, Michael became sick with the flu. Many didn’t know if he would play this very important game against the Utah Jazz. His trainers told him he should take a break and get feeling better. But Michael wanted to help his team and played anyway. There were many times where he could barely stand during the game, but he ended up scoring 38 baskets and helped his team win the game.

The next year was 1998 and Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls were in the last game of the NBA Finals again. This would be Jordan’s last game playing for The Bulls. The Bulls were losing to the Utah Jazz by one point and there were only 5 seconds left before the game was over. Jordan maneuvered back and forth, then took a jump shot and made the basket! The Bulls won the game thanks to Michael! 

After retiring from the Bulls, Jordan played a few years later for the Washington Wizards. He donated all of the money he made to families and those who suffered during the September 11th attacks.

In April 2009, Jordan received one of basketball’s greatest honors: He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Attending the induction ceremony was a happy but sad time for Jordan because being at the event meant “your basketball career is completely over,” he explained.

In 2003, Michael retired from basketball for a second time.  He decided to focus on his businesses, including owning a basketball team.

Michael Jordan is still considered a basketball legend.  He was known for his competitiveness and his very strong work-ethic.  He spent hours watching videos of his opponents so that he could learn how to defend them. He also had a special “Love of the Game Clause” written into his basketball contracts that said he was allowed to play basketball against anyone at any time, anywhere. This was rare and unusual for a player to request, but Michael loved basketball so much that he didn’t want to be limited by his contract from what he could do.

Michael Jordan was successful because he had natural talent and a drive to succeed.  He worked hard every day at his goal of becoming the best basketball player in the world.  People respected his work ethic and his drive helped him become one of the greatest basketball players of all time.  Remember, he didn’t make the basketball team the first time, but kept working at it until he became better despite being short at the time.  

One of the Michael Jordan’s most famous quotes is: “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Even if you fail at something, that is okay, because you tried. Everyone who is good at anything has failed many times, but they kept trying and trying and getting better. Not doing something right the first time is okay. You’ll never become better at anything if you aren’t afraid to mess up sometimes.

Is there something that you love to do that you would like to become even better at?  Is there a sport or activity that you would like to turn into a career when you are older?  Practice those things that are interesting to you and focus on becoming the best that you can.  The important thing, as Michael Jordan said to his own kids, is to set your own goals and your own expectations for yourself.

The Keri Strug Story for Kids

Have you ever heard of the Olympic Games? The Olympics is a huge sporting event that happens once every two years, where countries from all over the world come together in one place to compete. It starts off with a big parade and is an exciting time for everyone in the world. A young girl named Kerri Strugg was one of the Olympians who competed in the games.

Kerri was born in Tucson, Arizona and started taking gymnastic classes when she was only 3 years old. She went to gymnastic practice very often and worked very hard at improving her skills. It wasn’t always easy, but she loved gymnastics and wanted to be very good at it. She loved swinging on the bars and doing cartwheels and flips on the mats. And by the time she was 8, Kerri was competing against other gymnasts. Soon after this she started practicing very seriously with a special coach so she could go on to the great Olympics games. Her family even decided to move so she could practice with the best coach. It probably wasn’t easy moving schools, having to make new friends, but she was determined to reach her goal.

When Kerri was only 14 she went to her first Olympics in Barcelona Spain. She was the youngest girl on the team and got to fly far across the ocean with the rest of her team. At the Olympics they worked very hard and did their best and ended up winning a Bronze Medal — which is a very great award, but it is 3rd place. More than anything she wanted to win a Gold Medal. But for many years the Gold Medal in gymnastics was won by the Russian and Romanian teams, who were very good.

In between Olympics, Kerri continued to practice every day. She continued to learn more and build stronger muscles and improve until she could be the best gymnast she could be. There were times she fell and got hurt and it was hard to get back up, but she had a goal in mind and kept going. One time she was swinging around a bar and hit another bar and it hurt her so badly she had to go to the hospital. It took a long time for her to train her body so she could compete again, but nothing stopped Kerri. 

Around this time her coach from the first Olympics, Bela Karolyi, started to work with her again. She continued to do well in other competitions, preparing for the Olympics. But finally the Summer Olympic Games came again. This time it was in Atlanta Georgia, and Kerri joined her team of other gymnasts who became known as the Magnificent Seven. When Kerri got to the Olympics, she saw the Russian gymnasts and remembered how good they were. They always seemed to win and Kerri and her friends wanted the Gold Medal so badly. 

When the games began, the Russian gymnasts were doing very well. They had also trained very hard and also wanted the Gold Medal. For many days the Russians were receiving higher scores and Kerri and her team wondered if they could win. On the last day it was Kerri’s turn and she ran as fast as she could across the mat, did a cartwheel, then a back-handspring and flipped several times and landed on the mat, but her feet didn’t land right and she heard a “snap!” Then she fell and her ankle hurt very badly. She wanted to cry, but held it in and limped off the mat. 

By this time the score was very close and she would have to do a flip one more time if she wanted her team to win the Gold Medal. But her foot hurt and she didn’t know if she could do it.

“You can do it!” her coach, Bela said to her. “You can do it.” Everyone was cheering her on. They believed she could do it again, even though she was in so much pain.

When it was her turn, Kerri took a deep breath, tried to forget the pain in her foot, and started at the beginning of the mat. She wanted to win so much. She knew she could do it. She heard the crowds cheering. She started running even though her foot hurt. She did another cartwheel and back hand spring and many flips. When she came down on the mat she landed with both feet! It was amazing! The crowd cheered wildly! She had done it! With her hurt ankle she had done the flip and landed on both feet! The judges gave her a very good score.

But this was all she could give and after raising her arms to the crowd and the judges, she fell down. Her coaches ran to her side, because they could see she was hurt. She was taken to the hospital so they could bandage her leg.

On the final day of the Olympics Kerri was carried out to the crowd by her coach, Bela, with her bandaged leg, and there she and her team listened to the Star Spangled Banner, America’s song as they received Gold Medals. After all of their practice and hard work their dreams had come true! 

This was Kerri’s last Olympic Games, but as she got older she went on to do other good things that weren’t in the news, but still important. She became an ice skater and also finished college. Kerri then went on to teach elementary school in California and later got married and became a mom to two kids. 

Like Kerri, when we have goals we can work toward them. Every day we may need to do something to make them happen. We can dream and dream, but in order for those dreams to become true we have to do something about them, even if they are small. What you do doesn’t always have to be in the news or make you famous, but if it’s improving yourself or helping others around you, that is what is most important.

Wayne Gretsky Story for Kids

Gretzky and Messier are rushing down the ice on a 2 on 1. Messier takes the puck deep into the zone, throws it out front to Gretzky, Gretzky one-times it and he scores! Number 99 from number 11, what a duo.

Wayne Gretzky #99 – “The Great One” as most hockey fans know him was born and raised in Brantford, Ontario, Canada. He was the oldest child with 1 sister and 3 brothers. His mother’s name was Phylliss and his dad’s name was Walter. 

Wayne, his brothers, and friends grew up learning to play hockey on a backyard ice rink built by his dad. They nicknamed the backyard rink “Wally Coliseum”. Walter would set up different drills for the kids to practice different hockey skills. He would have them skate around bottles and cans on the ice and flip pucks up over sticks he laid down. This taught the kids to be fast thinkers and good with the puck. Wayne picked up the skills very quickly, He became very good at a  young age.

When he was 6, Wayne played on a team that was mostly 10-year-olds and was the best player on the team. The jerseys were way too big for Wayne, so he had to tuck his jersey in to keep it from hanging. He continued to do this all the way through his NHL career.    

By the time Wayne had turned 10, he had already scored an amazing 378 goals and 139 assists in one season with his Brantford hockey team. His amazing play attracted attention even outside of his hometown, and he appeared in several articles in the news.

Playing hockey at such a high level, unfortunately, upset a lot of his teammates’ parents, so at 14 his family moved to Toronto both to escape the pressure of his hometown and to help further his hockey career.

At age 14, Wayne played Junior B hockey in a league that included 20-year-olds. He earned Rookie of the Year awards  in the Metro Junior B Hockey League in 1975–76, with 60 points in 28 games. The following year, as a 15-year-old, he had 72 points in 32 games with the same team, renamed the Seneca Nationals.

Even though he had  two great first seasons in Toronto, he didn’t get chosen first overall in the Ontario Major Junior Hockey draft. The Greyhounds chose him 3rd overall. That was the first time that Wayne ever wore the number 99.

From junior, Gretzky moved onto play with the World Hockey Association in 1978. Wayne signed on to play with Indianapolis but only ended up playing 8 games for them before being sold in a deal with the Edmonton Oilers, who were at the time another WHA team.

In his one and only season as part of the WHA, they chose Wayne to play in the All-Star Game. Wayne had the honor of playing with his idol Gordie Howe and Gordie’s son Mark.  

On his 18th birthday, the Edmonton Oilers signed Wayne to a 10-year contract, which was the longest contract ever written for a pro hockey player. The deal was worth 3-million dollars. That same year Wayne finished 3rd in the league with 110 points. 

At the end of Wayne’s first season, the WHA league had to end  because of money problems. 3 teams from the WHA including the Edmonton Oilers joined the National Hockey League (or NHL) for the next season. As part of joining the NHL, the 3 teams could protect only a few players. Edmonton protected Wayne so that he would continue to play for them.

In his first NHL season, Wayne won the award for MVP (most valuable player) and tied for first in scoring with 137 points. This still stands as the highest number of points ever scored by a first-year NHL player.

During the 1981-1982 season, Wayne set a record when he scored 50 goals in only 39 games. The previous record was 50 in 50 and had been in place for 35 years. 

He ended that season with 212 points in 80 games, becoming the only player in history to break the 200 point mark. He was named Male Athlete of the Year, Sportsman of the Year, and Newsmaker of the Year in 1982.

During his time in Edmonton, Wayne held or shared 49 NHL records and won the Stanley Cup 5 times over a 7-year period. 

A huge honor came for Wayne when he was named an officer of the Order of Canada in 1984. He was then promoted to the Companion of the Order of Canada in 2009 for everything he had done for the sport of hockey. , and  as one of the best players of all time. Also, for his acts of giving, and as a volunteer, and role model for many young people.

Wayne had a major influence on the style of play for the Edmonton Oilers and the NHL as a whole. He inspired others to play as a team, which helped lead the Oilers to become the highest-scoring team in NHL history.

Gretzky was the first Canadian star hockey player who made the game and his play about the team. Most teams before Wayne focused only on getting the puck to their best players so they could score. Wayne and the Oilers changed this.

He improved his teammates because he included them in every play. If they wanted to play with Wayne, they needed to play their best and play as a team. Wayne knew he was too small and not strong enough to carry the plays all by himself, so he used his teammates fully.

Wayne stayed in Edmonton until 1988. Just 2 hours after winning the Stanley Cup, Wayne found out that he was being traded to the Los Angeles Kings. The deal happened quickly and involved a few other players from the Oilers that Wayne requested be included in the trade to join him in LA.

In Wayne’s first game in Edmonton after being traded, he received a 4-minute standing ovation. They sold out the rink and at the time it was the Oiler’s biggest crowd ever.

Wayne’s first season in LA saw an increase in the number of people attending the games and huge growth in fan interest in a city not typically known for following hockey.

Wayne stayed in LA from 1988 to 1996 before moving to the St. Louis Blues in 1996 for one season. They then traded him to the NY Rangers where he played until retiring from hockey in 1999. 

During his career, Wayne played in multiple international tournaments including the World Juniors, Canada Cup, World Championship, and the Olympics.

No one player has ever had such a huge impact on the game of hockey like this small Canadian boy did. Despite all the challenges that he faced growing up being a star hockey player, Wayne kept going and didn’t let the negativity stop him.

Even with the nickname The Great One, Wayne Gretzky has shown himself to be one of the nicest, most caring, and compassionate people that has ever lived. He never acted like he was anything special and always put his team first. We can all learn a lot from Wayne.

Bethany Hamilton Story for Kids

In 2005, a surfer named Bethany Hamilton won the National Scholastic Surfing Association National competition. Fifteen-year-old Bethany absolutely destroyed the competition in the Explorer Women’s final. She accepted her award at the competition dinner to 500 people standing and clapping for her. Bethany thanked God and her coach, Ben Aipa, for helping her win.  

After winning third-place in the Open Women’s surfing competition in 2003, the world knew it was only a matter of time until this special girl achieved Nationals gold. What they didn’t know was the amazing journey that Bethany would take on her way to finally winning gold.

Bethany Meilani Hamilton was born on February 8, 1990, in Hawaii. She began surfing at the age of 8 and gained her first sponsorship by age 9. Bethany was home-schooled from 6th grade through high school by her mother, who was a stay-at-home mom. Her father worked as a server at a town cafe.

In October 2003, after having placed 3rd in the Open Women’s division earlier that year, Bethany’s life changed forever. Bethany went for a morning surf with her best friend Alana, Alana’s father, and her brother. There she was attacked by a shark and lost her left arm just below the shoulder. 

Her friends helped paddle her back to shore. Then Alana’s father made a tourniquet out of a rash guard and wrapped it around the bottom of her arm. She was rushed to the hospital and a doctor living in a hotel nearby raced to the rescue. 

During later interviews, she said that she felt normal when she was bitten and felt very little pain from the bite at the moment of the attack, but felt it go numb on the way to the hospital and she ultimately lost her entire arm during the surgery that saved her life.

Despite what happened, Hamilton was determined to start surfing again. One month after the attack, she got back on her board. First, she used a custom-made board that was longer and slightly thicker than standard and had a handle for her right arm, making it easier to paddle. She learned to kick more to make up for the loss of her left arm. 

After teaching herself to surf with one arm, she returned to surfing on November 26, 2003, just 26 days after the attack. She entered her first major competition on January 10, 2004. She now uses normal short boards to compete.  

The shark-bitten surfboard that Hamilton was riding during the attack, as well as the bathing suit she was wearing at the time, are on display at the California Surf Museum in Oceanside, California.

Even though she lost her arm, Bethany has had an impressive career with numerous 1st place awards. But more important than the medals is her story of overcoming such tragedy where many would have given up.

Bethany’s story has been turned into multiple books, including a few written by her. She has appeared on many tv shows, magazine articles and in 2004 was named the Best Comeback Athlete and also received the Courage Teen Choice award.  

The last two books written by Bethany were based around the theme of being unstoppable. One of her books is named “Be Unstoppable: The Art of Never Giving Up” and has inspired readers to be bold, enjoy life, and trust God each day. Bethany is very devout in her religious beliefs and is always quick to share them.

Bethany married her then-boyfriend Adam in 2013 and together they have three sons, Tobias, Wesley, and Micah. The family still lives in Hawaii where they surf and spend time together. Her kids all know about the attack in 2003 but she has used this as an important lesson for them on staying strong.

Bethany has always given her time and money to help others, including her own foundation, Friends of Bethany. Her foundation reaches out to amputees and youth, encouraging them to overcome difficulties by offering hope and encouraging them to have faith. 

Within the Friends of Bethany Foundation there are four different programs:

  1. Beautifully Flawed: retreat designed for young women ages 14–25 who have experienced traumatic limb loss.
  2. Shine Forth: Night filled with stories and inspiration to overcome, free community event to gather together and share comeback stories.
  3. Anchored in Love: Conference for girls and young women ages 12 and up, a one-day event designed to help girls and young women discover their true beauty, purpose, and worth. 
  4. The Forge: Men’s retreat where young male amputees come and focus on faith, fitness, and healthy living.

Bethany has done so many amazing things in her career as a surfer despite the adversity she had to overcome. She never stopped, she never gave up, and she never stayed scared. She knew that she had to start surfing again right away because she wasn’t going to let the shark attack take anything else away from her.

She’s used her position as a professional athlete to promote living a fit and healthy lifestyle and to inspire other young athletes and amputees that anything was possible for them in life if they just didn’t stop.

Everyone in life will face many setbacks, but it is how we react to these setbacks that define us. Do we stop moving or do we remain unstoppable? We all need to be more like Bethany, we need to be strong and we need not let fear define who we are or we can become.    

Thanks for listening to this episode about Bethany Hamilton and be sure to tune in for a new episode next Monday.

Bob Feller For Kids

Tonight our story is about a boy named Bob Feller. Bob lived on a farm with his family where they grew corn. Bob loved baseball and always looked forward to playing catch with his father after a long day of work. He practiced throwing a baseball everyday, but he always did his chores first. Bob always put his family and his work first because his father taught him the importance of hard work and priorities. Having priorities, means doing important things first such as work and school before other things like playing with toys. Bob’s father saw how good he was becoming at baseball, so he decided to start growing wheat instead of corn because it would give them more time to practice together.

When Bob grew a little older he began playing with a team in his town. An important man with a baseball team saw how fast Bob threw the ball, so he hired him to play for the major league team, the Cleveland Indians. Bob was only 17 years old when he pitched his first major league baseball game. He quickly became well known as one of fastest pitchers in major league baseball. His fastball was recorded to be 104 to 107 miles per hour. That is very fast! Bob Feller also became the first pitcher to win 24 games before the age of 21.

Bob also had a great love for his country. After Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States entered World War II, Bob joined the United States Navy. The Navy said that Bob didn’t need to go into battle and that he could stay where it was safe, but Bob said he wanted to be with the other soldiers where he could fight for his country. He was assigned to a battleship. When the war ended, Bob received many awards for his hard work.

After the war, Bob returned to playing with the Cleveland Indians and in 1948 they won World Series which is the biggest championship in baseball. Bob was one of the greatest pitchers in baseball. He said that his skill and speed in pitching came from hard work milking cows, picking corn, and baling hay on his family farm. Even with all Bob’s success in baseball, he always put important things before baseball, such as his family and his country.

Like Bob you can put important things first in your life, such as helping around the house, learning new things, and helping others. You can also practice at sports or other talents in order to become good like Bob. Practice is what you do to become better at something. Bob Feller showed us that even when someone becomes famous, they can still think about others by serving their country and doing good things.