Sports

USA Swimming look to teach next generation of African American children to swim


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USA Swimming looks to boost the number of African American swimmers and three Olympic stars lead the way.

With African Americans not knowing how to swim still an issue in the black community three Olympic medalists look to inspire and teach the younger generation. These three being Maritz Correia McClendon, Cullen Jones and Simone Manuel. These three also discussed the lack of coverage of their sport, challenges they face as black athletes in swimming and the future of swimming on a panel alongside Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn hosted by ESPN’s Michael Eaves at the National Association of Black Journalists 2017 Convention in New Orleans.

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USA Swimming’s Maritz Correia McClendon (far left), Simone Manuel and Cullen Jones (far right) alongside ESPN’s Michael Eaves before a panel discussion at National Association of Black Journalists 2017 Convention in New Orleans (photo: Gino Terrell).

McClendon, in 2004, became the first African American to make the U.S. Olympic Team and was the first African American athlete to win a medal in swimming. Jones is a four-time Olympic medalist who became the first African American swimmer to hold a world record, which he done during the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing where he brought home a gold medal. Manuel, also a four time Olympic medalist, is best known as the first black woman to win gold in an individual event which she done during the 2016 Olympics Games in Rio.

Each of these three swimmers have gotten more media attention as they are black athletes who became “the first black” in their respective accomplishments.

“Its an honor for us to be Olympic athletes…but it’s also the icing on the cake of us being black athletes and being role models in our communities,” McClendon said.

While this rings true for Jones as well, being the first black swimmer to do things is at times bothersome for him.

“It shines light on a problem that our community has,” Jones said.

Pushing to teach more African Americans to swim

Attempting to push initiatives to get more African Americans to swim is something they are doing as 64 percent of children that demographic don’t know how, McClendon cited.

“When you hear statistics like that…we are three swimmers who have Olympic medals, that’s a platform we can stand on and shout even louder,” McClendon said. “We want to inspire the next generation so we see a ton more black athletes on the pool deck.

“We have a lot of young athletes looking for a sport to do. Why not try a life changing sport called swimming.”

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USA Swimming Olympic Medalist Maritz Correia McClendon (left), Cullen Jones and Simone Manuel pose for a photo before a panel during National Association of Black Journalists 2017 Convention in New Orleans (photo: Gino Terrell).

Through Jones’ “Make A Splash” initiative he’s had parents refuse to allow their children in the water because of their fear. This was also Eaves experience as he learned swimming because of his mother pushed him but swimming in the deep end and treading water still scared Eaves as it was a fear he got from his mother.

“That’s why so many black people don’t swim because somebody in our family is scared of water so they told us to be scared,” Eaves said.

Along with parents burdening their children with their fears there are three common reasons why African Americans stay away from water which include over lagging, parental backing and physical appearance, Jones said. However, its critical to overcome those fears to learn how to swim because its a “life saving skill.” After all, before Jones was an Olympic medalist he was a five-year-old boy who nearly drowned to death. While his father knew how to swim his mother did not but he learned at an early age just to have the skill and he later took it much further.

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USA Swimming’s Cullen Jones speaking during a panel at National Association of Black Journalists 2017 Convention August 11 in New Orleans (photo: Gino Terrell).

“You don’t have to become us in order to learn how to swim. The most important thing is to learn how to swim,” Jones said. “It’s a lot like riding a bike, once you learn it you know it for life.”

While they are continuing to break down fears in the black community to get more children to swim they are making progress. The number of black’s not knowing how to swim dropped six percent which encourages Manuel.

“It all starts with learning. You learn how to swim, you grow a love for the sport. You grow a love for the sport and you might make it to the same level as us,” Manuel said. “It’s getting there slowly but surely…there’s progress upwards.”

Future of Swimming

In 2000, and in 2004, there was only a “handful” of black swimmers competing to make the Olympic team, McClendon said, but in 2016 it was different.

“I went to the tryouts in 2016 and I was like ‘oh, wait a minute. I need more hands,’” McClendon said.

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USA Swimming’s Cullen Jones (left), Simone Manuel and Maritza Correia McClendon (right) having a good time on a panel at National Association of Black Journalists 2017 Convention in New Orleans (photo: Gino Terrell).

Just like how Tiger Woods inspired a wave of African Americans to pick up the sport of golf, Eaves said Reece Whitley could be that guy for swimming. Whitley was named the 2015 Sports Illustrated SportsKid of the Year after earning a silver medal FINA World Junior Championships; so with three successful black Olympic medalists who have paved the way for him those swimmers on that panel are excited to see what the 17-year-old will do.

“He has a huge smile. [All the media attention] it doesn’t faze him at all. He’s Reece Whitley,” McClendon said. “He takes it in stride and I think it’s because he’s seen the stuff that we’ve done before.”

The young star certainly made quite a first impression on Jones.

“The first time I met him I shook his hand and he gave me a hug. I was like ‘I love this kid,’” Jones said of Whitley.

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USA Swimming’s Cullen Jones during a panel at National Association of Black Journalists 2017 Convention in New Orleans (photo: Gino Terrell).

Whether Whitley’s superstar talent will boom diversity in swimming is contingent on the media’s coverage. With swimming not being a priority sport to large media outlets on non-Olympic years, its crucial USA Swimming go the extra mile to push his brand.

“USA Swimming has to promote him and we have to take interests of it,” Washburn said.

As far as the young phenomenon taking off or, any young athlete for that matter, Manuel spoke after the panel for a brief one-on-one interview sharing what it takes to be a successful young athlete.

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USA Swimming’s Simone Manuel sitting on a panel during National Association of Black Journalists 2017 Convention August 11 in New Orleans (photo: Gino Terrell).

“For young rising stars and added pressure on them, I definitely say really do your best to ignore some of the outside distractions, that might be some social media…you got to stay focused and stay grounded and really work hard to achieve your goals and dreams,” Manuel said. “Do your sport because you are passionate and you love it.”

Focusing on how she’s done it she credits her support system.

“I always say that swimming is a journey and I didn’t want to be done in 2016 and that’s why I continue to swim,” Manuel said. “My swimming is not perfect and I still love it and that’s what keeps me motivated. When I don’t have the same love for the sport that’s when I’m going to be done.”

By Gino Terrell

This article was originally published in MCXV.

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Sports

Cam celebrates Chosen’s birthday with a game winning drive to clinch playoffs


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At the two yard line with the game on the line after the snap the ball slipped out of the hands of Cam Newton.

“Well I thought the idea was to put it on the ground, get them to freeze for a second and pick it up for a score,” head coach Ron Rivera said during the post game press conference to shed some light on the situation. “But the best part is it didn’t ruin my Christmas, which I really appreciate.”

With Newton’s child Chosen celebrating a birthday this past Sunday, Newton made sure he was in the best of spirits. After the fumble, which almost seemed like a basketball dribble, Newton managed to posses the pigskin and get behind behind his offensive lineman to power it in for a touchdown almost as if he was driving the lane finishing with a hot step for an easy bucket. He then took the football and pretended to light a candle on the football before giving it to a fan to spread some joy after his 15th career game winning drive.

“I almost gave it up but it was the element of surprise,” Newton said of the game winning run.

The touchdown put the Panthers up 22-19 with 35 seconds remaining. When Panthers defense pounced on Jameis Winston inside the pocket for a sack the ball squeaked out his hands and Julius Peppers was rewarded with possession after fighting for possession against Winston. Though the game was close the Panthers managed to pull out a win capped by a 59-yard drive to win the game when they found themselves down 19-15 with three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

“There’s a lot of things that we can correct that we will correct but I got to give credit to Tampa Bay. I mean, they came in and didn’t roll over,” Rivera said.

Panthers defense will need to do better at getting off the field, Rivera said. Buccaneers went 6-11 on third down conversions and converted at times when Rivera felt the defense could have buckled down to get a needed stop. Winston thrown for 367 yards against the Panthers and the Panthers offense were held to three field goals in the red zone. They were able to overcome these obstacles to win and that’s what impressed Rivera.

“When we had a chance to drive down we did. We gave ourselves a chance to win this game,” Rivera said.

The “keep pounding” aspect is what Newton admired as well.

“I’m proud of our resilience,” Newton said, who also displayed some after having to leave the game in the second quarter for an injury.

Lavonte David got Newton in the groin area when he attempted to wrap up Newton on a designed quarterback option.

“I don’t think it was intentional, just his hand hit the wrong spot. I plan on having more Chosen’s one day and he didn’t help it,” Newton said.

As for the offensive struggles throughout the game it didn’t bother their confidence on the final drive.

“We knew what we’re capable of,” Newton said. “We just wanted to get in a rhythm and find a way to gain some cushion [but] when you let a team like that stay involved things like that happen.”

On that final drive Buccaneers were jamming Greg Olsen all down the field and paid special attention to wideout Devin Funchess, Rivera said. Newton finding other targets was huge, he said.

“They were trying to take out our two most effective [but] Cam came up big for us, finding the guys open down field,” Rivera said.

As the Panthers clinched their fourth playoff appearance in five seasons they have an opportunity to win NFC South. Beating Atlanta Falcons (9-5), who are fighting for the final wildcard spot, and a New Orleans Saints (11-4) week 17 loss will give them their fourth divisional title in five years.

Whether or not the scenario works in the Panthers favor winning week 17 is the team’s top priority.

“We’re playing this game to win,” Rivera said during Tuesday’s press conference. “I want to keep as much momentum going forward as possible.”

By Gino Terrell

This was originally published in MCXV December 26, 2017.

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SpaceX confirms launch over Los Angeles, one celebrity not buying it


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In the “City of Angels” there was something floating over them.

With a projectile shooting accross the skies in Los Angeles Friday, it raised some eyebrows. However, SpaceX, a company that designs, manufactures and launches the world’s most advanced rockers and spacecraft, confirmed the projectile was a rocket they launched for an experiment. The city’s mayor Eric Gracetti confirmed it as well.

“It’s a #SpaceX Falcon 9 launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base,” Garcetti tweeted Friday.

This was a relief to atleast two people on Twitter who thought it was a nuclear launch.

“When you see #SpaceX trending and realize it wasn’t a Nuke launch [by] Trump,” Twitter account Big Uzi tweeted Friday along with a gif of Denzel Washington patting his heart.

Another thought it was an outside attack on America.

“When you though[t] North Korea got tired of Trump talking sh*t and they was ending it all #SpaceX,” Twitter account DKT tweeted Friday with a photo of Taraji P. Henson hiding behind a car.

In addition to a nuclear launch another common theory was that a UFO was hovering over Los Angeles.

“Wtf is in the sky…,” The Greatest Showman star Zendaya tweeted. After seeing a tweet from SpaceX it gave her “some kind of closure” knowing it wasn’t what she thought it was initially.

“Cause I was almost positive it was some UFO alien shit…,” Zendaya tweeted.

Even after SpaceX had confirmed it was their launch one celebrity wasn’t buying it.

“I’m calling bullshit on SpaceX’s excuse. That shit’s a UFO and there’s been others that have been seen that are just like it!!” Demi Lovato tweeted Friday night.

By Gino Terrell

This article was originally published in MCXV December 23, 2017.

Sports

Panthers focus on beating Buccaneers to clinch playoff berth


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Panthers are one win away from clinching their fourth playoff appearance in five seasons.

Under head coach Ron Rivera the franchise is becoming a perennial winner. If they can get past Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday they will get one step closer to their ultimate goal which is to win the Super Bowl. Rivera posts a record of 66-51-1, including a 3-3 post season record, and three NFC South titles since he took the reins as head coach in 2011. He was coming in after Panthers finished dead last in the NFL at 2-14.

“We’ve developed a consistent winner. Last year was a little bit different unfortunately but being able to bounce back and put ourselves in position…it means we’re playing quality football,” Rivera said during Wednesday’s press conference. “Inside that locker room there’s a group of young men that want to win. They put a lot on the line and worked really hard at getting where we are today.”

While Panthers (10-4) host Buccaneers (4-10) they anticipate a competitive match up. If Monday night is any indication Buccaneers will be looking to spoil Panthers season as they nearly took Atlanta Falcons (9-5) to overtime in a 24-21 loss that night.

“Tampa is not going to come in and lay down, I promise you that much,” Rivera said. “They have a lot of pride, they’re coming to play hard…we’ve got to answer their challenge.”

Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston thrown for three touchdowns and 299 yards in Monday’s loss. With no interceptions on the night he accumulated his highest quarterback rating of the season at 130.5.

“Obviously we are out of the playoff picture but we still have a lot of play for,” Winston said during Thursday’s press conference. “Our season isn’t over, especially not to me [and] to those guys in that locker room.”

With this being a divisional game Buccaneers will pose as a tougher challenge against Panthers than they have for most teams this season. However, tight end Ed Dickson says it’s still up to Panthers to take advantage of their opportunity to lock up a playoff spot by winning.

“We control the narrative. We control how we play, how we respond to things, how we come out in our house in front of our fans,” Dickson told reporters Thursday.

As Cam Newton came into the season coming off shoulder surgery he’s playing his best football right now, Rivera said.

“I think he’s hitting his stride right now,” Rivera said.

Throughout the season Newton had limited reps in mini camp, training camp and in practices which limited opportunities for him to get comfortable with the younger talent Panthers brought in this season. Progressing through the season he’s finally found his groove.

The first half of the season Newton completed 63 percent of his passes but was sacked 22 times and thrown 10 touchdowns to 11 interceptions accumulating a quarterback rating of 79.1. The past six games Newton has a quarterback rating of 95.2 throwing 11 touchdowns to only one interception. He’s averaging 7.2 yards per carry with 123 more rushing yards the past six games compared to his first eight performances where he averaged 4.3 per carry running for a total of 255 yards on the ground.

With the Panthers offense progressing in the later portion of the season the team is peaking at the right time, Greg Olsen told reporters Thursday.

“Every year you can isolate different parts of the season and they’re like entirely different stories. The idea is to always be playing your best football late,” Olsen said. “For the most part…the last few years we’ve been able to progressively get better as the seasons gone on. I think that’s the sign of a good team, a disciplined team, a well coached team.”

This season the team went through a rash of injuries, trading Kelvin Benjamin and many young players on the offense filling in and trying to find their roles. There were times where the defense constantly had to carry the offense and that’s when Newton vowed the team’s offense would get better. Showing flashes against New England Patriots, week four, and again in Detroit, week five, against the Lions the Panthers have been consistently putting on good offensive showings since week nine when they’ve got their running game going again. With the team picking up steam in the month of December the timing couldn’t be better for Olsen.

“Its nice to see all that come together here as we get into the critical time of the year,” Olsen said.

By Gino Terrell

This article was originally published in MCXV December 22, 2017.

Sports

Cam Newton “cool” with Diddy’s interests buying Panthers and wanting to bring in Colin Kaepernick as competition


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Rap mogul Diddy expressed interest in buying Carolina Panthers and Cam Newton is okay with the idea.

Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, who has a 48 percent stake in the team, plans to put the team up for sale at the season’s end. The announcement came earlier this week following allegations against Richardson for sexual and racial miscduct towards Panthers employees. With the team up for grabs after this season Diddy, who announced earlier this year he’d like to start his own professional football league, took interest in owning Panthers and made it public.

“I need to send a message out to everybody in the beautiful state of Carolina,” Diddy said on Instagram. “I will be the best NFL owner that you can imagine. I will immediately address the Colin Kaepernick situation and put him in the running for next year’s starting quarterback. Its just competition baby, its just competition.

“Also, I will have the best halftime show, the best selection of music and we will win Super Bowl after Super Bowl.”

After Wednesday’s press conference Newton was asked about Diddy’s comments.

“Its amusing,” Newton said of Diddy’s interests in the Panthers. “He’s a person that has a lot of influence.”

When it comes to Diddy’s plan to bring in competition Newton would be okay with it.

“I’m cool with it. If whatever happens, happens. They say either two things happen in competition: either you’re better or you’re worse, so I’m all for it,” Newton said. “But as far as a person that I’ve always looked up to Puff Daddy, Diddy, whatever you want to call him, for that to be even mentioned that’s cool in its self.”

As far as Richardson’s plan to put the team up for sale its a bit premature, Newton said.

“I take sexual assault extremely serious but allegations that’s a different thing,” Newton said.

For Newton, he’s relating to the situation from personal experience. Newton faced an allegation that his father, Cecil, auctioned him off to play for a Division I college that was the highest bidder in 2010 when he transferred and played for Auburn. Newton was almost suspended in the midst of the season after the claim, a claim that was ruled false after the conclusion of the investigation. While Newton won Heisman and led the Tigers to their first national title in 53 years since the claims were made Newton was treated as if he was guilty throughout the season until the investigation ruled otherwise.

“In this day and time its almost you’re proven guilty before you’re proven innocent versus the judicial system where you’re supposed to be innocent until proven guilty,” Newton said. “What I’ve heard were allegations.”

Head coach Ron Rivera, like Newton, won’t be quick to judge Richardson until the investigation runs its course. An investigation they both welcome as they take sexual assault and racial misconduct seriously.

“He has truly helped me and given me every opportunity. He was the first owner in my nine interviews to give me that chance. That’s all I can speak of,” Rivera said of Richardson during Monday’s press conference. “I know the allegations are serious. I know the league is doing an investigation, and everybody should be heard and respected. At the end of the day, who am I to judge? We need to have all the answers before we can do any of that. I just think that as we go forward as a football team, I think it’s important to remember that we’re still here obviously to play football.”

See what Ron Rivera wears during his Wednesday press conference this a week as a nod to Cam Newton’s attire.

By Gino Terrell

This article was originally published in MCXV December 21, 2017.

Sports

Ron Rivera rocks Cam Newton brimless hat shirt


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Ron Rivera barrows a little sauce from Cam Newton.

Panthers head coach Rivera sported a long sleeve shirt with Newton’s face plastered on it during Wednesday’s press conference. The image of Newton was of him wearing his infamous brimless hat that he wore during a postgame press conference after Panthers defeated Minnesota Vikings two weeks ago.

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Ron Rivera rocks a Cam Newton brimless hat t-shirt during Wednesday’s press conference (courtesy of Carolina Panthers Twitter account)

Ron Rivera t-shirt Ron Rivera rocks a Cam Newton brimless hat t-shirt during Wednesday’s press conference (courtesy of Carolina Panthers Twitter account)
Newton said then the look was inspired by Andre “3,000” Benjamin when he saw images of him in G.Q. Benjamin is one of Newton’s favorite music artist as he’s from his hometown Atlanta, Newton said.

“I done used drip, sauce, swag. I ain’t want to wear something that everybody done seen a lot,” Newton said of his attire that day. “I’mma give credit where credit is due. I was reading a G.Q. magazine and one of my favorite artist…Andre 3,000…I seen the pictures and I sent them to my plug, shout out to Berto.

“He had a brimless hat. I had never seen that. I look at NBA, NFL, baseball, ain’t nobody seen no brimless hat so I wanted to put the first one behind the scenes with the brimless hat so you seen it here first. Cam Newton, brimless hat, drip.”

After last Wednesday’s practice both Rivera and Newton sported the same t-shirt during their press conferences wearing one with Greg Olsen plastered on it. It read “Vote for Greg Olsen. Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year” to support Olsen as he’s the representative for Carolina Panthers this year for the honor.

This week Rivera rocked the shirt with Newton in honor of what he did earlier this week when he played Santa giving back to children at a local school.

“Its a cool t-shirt…its really just a celebration of Santa Cam. Last night he went out and delivered over $100,000 worth of stuff to needy and deserving folks,” Rivera said Wednesday.

While Rivera rocked the shirt with Newton, Newton wore one for his daughter Chosen.

“Chosen, Happy Birthday” it read with a cake on sneakers and two arms pointing at her name with a #2 candle lit.

While Panthers are focused on a Super Bowl run both Rivera and Newton are staying loose and having a little fun. Typically, when Newton is having fun that’s when he’s at his best. No greater example than his 2015 MVP season when he dabbed his way to 45 total touchdowns that season and led Panthers to win an NFC Championship.

By Gino Terrell

This article was originally published in MCXV December 20, 2017.

Sports

Ron Rivera on Panthers gearing up for Super Bowl run: “Everything we do will be about that”


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Carolina Panthers just keep finding ways to win close games.

A 31-24 win over the Green Bay Packers Sunday keeps Panthers in position to possibly win the NFC South. Now 10-4 they are tied with the New Orleans Saints (10-4) with two games remaining. They’ll need to be at least one win ahead to win the NFC South but if they don’t win the division their ultimate goal is still very much in reach as they are currently slotted in fifth seed holding down a possible wild card spot.

“Lets make sure we focus on the things we need to focus on and that’s us as a football team,” head coach Ron Rivera told the team in the locker room after the win. “Let nothing get in the way in what our ultimate goal is…that’s to win the Super Bowl and that’s the bottom line…everything we do will be about that.”

The defense managed to force four turnovers with the offense playing turnover free football and scoring four touchdowns. With the team clicking on both sides of the football in Sunday’s game, Cam Newton said the team is peaking at the right time.

“We play this game for one reason and that’s to try to get yourself mended up for the long haul…we’re equipped to do that,” Newton said.

What impressed Rivera most about Sunday was how both sides took advantage of their depth. Rotating guys in and out not only makes the team better but keeps the opposition on their heals, Rivera said. In addition the offense spreading the ball around it keeps them dynamic, Rivera said.

“Its pleasing to see those types of things come to fruition,” Rivera said.

Constanty bringing pressure to Aaron Rodgers led to three sacks but more increased interception opportunities. Rivera credited coordinator Steve Wilks for dialing up blitzing calls.

“There’s a certain confidence that you show in your guys and guys feed off the energy you bring,” Rivera said.  “I’m very happy for those guys because they worked at it…pass rush was solid, underneath coverage was where they needed to be…the whole group has worked hard and you see it.”

Daryl Worley, James Bradberry and Colin Jones picked off Rodgers.

“The guys that deserves credit today, the defensive line played great but, the DB’s played awesome today,” Luke Kuechly said. “Those guys made the difference today.”

With Jones finally having his shot Rivera was impressed to see his production.

“All Colin has done was continue to wait for the opportunity. He continues to work hard in practice, he’s got good ball skills. He’s actually one of our fastest guys on the team and its good to see him get an opportunity to come out and produce for us,” Rivera said.

Trailing 14-10 going into halftime, Panthers tied the game on their first possession right after the break. In 3:26, they capped off a 7-play 73-yard drive with a 30-yard touchdown strike from Newton to Greg Olsen.

“We had to pick up the intensity going into the second half,” Newton said. “The moment wasn’t too big for certain people.”

Throughout the season Rivera has emphasized scoring on possessions heading into the half and coming right out of the half as those possessions can quickly turn around a game. He was happy to see the offense do it against the Packers to put them back on top.

They were able to ride with the momentum and Newton put on a clinic completing 20 of 31 of his passes for 242 yards and four touchdowns.

“He’s been on point,” Rivera said of Newton. “As we continue to go forward this is the type of energy that we need from our quarterback.”

While the Panthers were in control in the fourth quarter they allowed the Packers to dangle in the game. With a chance late in the fourth quarter to tie the game James Bradberry forced a fumble off a peanut punch which was recovered by Mike James. Panthers took possession with 1:50 remaining and were able to call kneels for the victory.

“I’m just happy that we winning but we know how to keep a game interesting,” Newton said. “We have to be more discipline offensively making sure the ball ends with us on the field.”

With that said, Olsen is content they’ve won two consecutive games against strong teams fighting for playoff spots.

“That’s two playoff type wins back-to-back here at home. Its a playoff environment, playoff caliber teams. These are hard games to win in December,” Olsen said. “These are the games you have to win if you want to give yourself a chance.”

Panthers will take on division foes Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-9) in week 16 before closing out the regular season with another NFC South match up against the defending NFC Champions in the Atlanta Falcons. While the win is exciting, Ed Dickson was already looking ahead as soon as the Packers game ended.

“We have bigger goals on the table,” Dickson said. “I’m already looking on to Tampa Bay.”

Read about Greg Olsen’s impact inside the huddle as well as when he’s playing healthy on the field.

By Gino Terrell

This was originally published in MCXV.

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The fastest woman alive: A look back at Carmelita “The Jet” Jeter’s career and charity


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Though retired, the three-time Olympic medalist continues to give back and spread her knowledge.

Carmelita “The Jet” Jeter, also known as “the fastest woman alive,” has had a career that keeps on giving. Having lent a hand to many foundations and organization she setup her very own “The Team Jet Track Clinic” to help better a path for kids ranging from 5-17.

Carmelita "The Jet" Jeter
Carmelita “The Jet” Jeter (courtesy photo)

Growing up in southern California Jeter wasn’t in a track club, having only done what was available in high school, and only played basketball in her yard outside of school. Understanding that access to things like this isn’t easy for kids who grew up like her is why she set up shop. Prior, she helped with “After School All Stars” a program where many celebrities and athletes like Kobe Bryant help broaden the horizons for low-income students.

While receiving compliments from parents about her clinic its not only because she’s teaching them health, fitness and track tips, she serves as a life role model to those children. She preaches the importance of making school a priority and having a plan “B” as well as a plan “C” in life. Along with that she shares the many lessons she’s learned from her personal life so they can learn from her experiences.

Because when it came to her life “it wasn’t the yellow brick road,” Jeter said.

The reason why this program runs so deep with Jeter was because it all started with a bigger picture. And that was to support her aunt who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. With the help of Nike Jeter set a trend sporting hot pink spikes on the kicks she raced with in efforts to support breast cancer research. Even after the passing of her aunt in 2012, she continued to advocate for the cause amongst African American women and became an ambassador for Susan G. Komen for the Cure of Los Angeles.

It was “based off love and the loss of someone,” Jeter said of her clinic. It wasn’t just about track.

Finding her passion with running

Growing up in house where her father had a basketball court in the yard and even painted a three point and free throw line her father’s house was quite the destination on Saturday nights. In her neighborhood it was the place to be to have fun and stay out of trouble.

Continuing with basketball she played in high school and that’s when her freshmen coach noticed how fast she was. Coach recommended she join track. At first hesitant, she figured to give it a try. Arriving to track with cornrows and high tops when she ran all eyes noticed her blazing speed. She began to love it and saw it as a sport where she can get more attention from her father as her brothers all played basketball including Eugene who went on to play professionally.

“I liked the fact that I did something else,” Jeter said.

While she had the talent and was receiving college offers she began to notice that academics were holding her back from opportunities. With a GPA slightly above 2.0 and barely passing the ACT she didn’t get the scholarships she felt she deserved but caught a break on a five-year scholarship at California State University.

“I didn’t take the classroom seriously,” Jeter said of her mentality then.

When she found out that grades could have her ineligible to compete and that she could lose her scholarship that set off a light bulb in her head. Having made an Olympic trial in 2004 she made sure her grades were up to par to compete.

“Every life lesson I learned came from things I did. [It helped me] push and want to do better,” Jeter said.

Becoming “The Jet”

She become an icon on the Dominguez Hills track and field squad as the school’s first U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier and would graduate from the university with a degree in physical education. Making a named for herself in high school and college the name “Carmelita Jeter” spoke volumes. But when it came to the pro’s she made a named for herself as “The Jet.”

“Everybody started calling me that,” Jeter said.

And it stuck because she became the third fastest woman in history in 2009 after setting a championships record clocking a 10.67 on the 100 meter. An accomplishment that came after what she called a failure when she receive a bronze during the 2009 World Championships when she was the favorite to win.

“I was running off of anger, pain, frustration,” Jeter said. 

But when she finished the race she was as emotional as can be.

“I cried, I screamed. Rolled around, kicked my feet. I was very proud of myself,” Jeter said.

Through that performance she learned a valuable lesson that she continues to tell others to this day.

“Its okay to fail,” Jeter said. “Everything comes out of failure just make sure you learn from it.”

What it takes to be a “great” professional athlete

“To be great it has to become your lifestyle,” she said. “You have to be a student at all times...Its not easy, it was harder to stay number one than to get there.”

Part of her lifestyle included a pre-performance ritual she did to make sure she was at her best by the time she lined up. This included having oatmeal, bacon, sausage and potatoes to make sure her stomach wouldn’t be empty. She also watched Mike Tyson’s documentary to give her an edge when she lined up.

“So much truth to it,” she said of the documentary that motivated her.

While she’s received many awards throughout her career including the 2012 Los Angeles Sports Woman of the Year, her favorite was being a recipient of the Jesse Owens Award which is the highest accolade in the sport, given by USA Track & Field to the outstanding U.S. female track and field athlete.

Given an award named after an iconic African American hero in athletics was a proud moment, Jeter said.

“That man was amazing and to have my name on a plaque with his name, it was like ‘mom,  I made it,'” Jeter said. “My highest honor.”

What Now?

This past November Jeter has officially retired from track and field. She’s currently in the process of writing a book that will reveal her experiences.

As of lately, she’s been busy continuing to give back to the community. Whether it was a toy drive in Compton where she beat Master P in a foot race or getting ready after her interview for a “tee time” in Los Angels where the track runner with hoop skills will show off her skills on the green in a celebrity golf challenge, “The Jet” is always quick to give back to the community.

By Gino Terrell

This article was originally published in MCXV.

Sports

Greg Olsen is back, catches first TD this season


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Greg Olsen caught his first touchdown this season.

Week two this season Olsen broke his foot against Buffalo Bills. He was placed on injured reserve but after rehabbing returned to the team’s active roster week 12. His first game back he had one catch for 10 yards and in week 14 he had no catches in a Panthers 31-24 win over the Vikings. Getting him back in the fold for the offense was a priority, head coach Ron Rivera said during last Monday’s press conference.

“He’s too valuable a weapon for us not to use,” Rivera said.

While he was getting open against the Vikings Cam Newton targeted 11 other players, Rivera said. Making Olsen amongst one of Newton’s top progression options was key and it appears he did that week 15 against the Green Bay Packers, Sunday.

Olsen racked up nine catches for 116 yards and one touchdown on a 30-yard completion from Newton.

“He’s BAAAAACK! #KeepPounding,” Carolina Panthers tweeted out the highlight to Olsen’s first touchdown catch of the season.

Rivera was pleased to see him wheel in more targets as well.

“Its good to see Greg Olsen back on the field and watch him play the way he did,” Rivera said after Sunday’s game.

Newton was able to throw of 242 yards and four touchdowns with a quarterback rating of 128. Not only does Olsen’s on field production help Newton but his leadership, Newton said.

“He’s the chaperone in the huddle,” Newton said of Olsen.

Relaying calls to Olsen, he makes sure Newton makes the right call, if not he makes adjustments, and then relays the play to the offense. Now that Olsen is picking up his game he’s becoming another dangerous weapon on the field.

“With Greg being back a couple of weeks…he starting to get back to his regular self just finding the open holes, the open zones,” Newton said.

By Gino Terrell

This article was originally published in MCXV December 17, 2017.

Sports

Panthers prepared for Aaron Rodgers comeback


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They expected his return all along.

Carolina Panthers (9-4) will take on the Green Bay Packers (7-6), who are still in contention for a playoff birth. A collarbone injury has kept Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers out since October 15 and earlier this week the team announced he’s been cleared by doctors to return Sunday against the Panthers.

Did the news surprise Panthers as they didn’t get the official word until Wednesday?

“No,” head coach Ron Rivera said during Wednesday’s press conference. “It was said he could have comeback and that’s how we prepared for it.

“I told our guys it doesn’t matter if he plays we still have to play the Packers.”

This was a sentiment Julius Peppers shared as he will be playing against a foe he rivaled with for four years with Chicago Bears (2010-13) before he became his teammate on the Packers for three seasons (2014-16).

“Its the same team…he does elevate that team when he’s out there but we’ll be ready,” Peppers told reporters Thursday.

One advantage Panthers have in their favor is Peppers understanding tricks Rodgers use during a game. One being his method to play uptempo to throw the defense off their game. By playing Panther defense they won’t allow Rodgers to dictate the tempo, Peppers confirmed. Hard counts and catching 12 players on the field, when subbing, are two other things the defense will need to be on their toes for when playing against Rodgers, Peppers said. But when it comes to whether Peppers will construct the gameplan there’s no need for the former Packer to do such, he said.

“I let the coaches kind of detail those things from the film study. Technique things and game plan, I’ll let the coaches do their job,” Peppers said.

After all, through 13 games Panthers rank fifth in defense. Understanding the defense will have their hands full Cam Newton is glad he only has to handle his part on offense.

“I’m lucky not to be having to play against him (Rodgers), as far as schematically this week, but I believe our defense has that under control,” Newton said. “I’m trying to make sure this offense is at its premium on Sunday.”

After Jonathan Stewart’s performance last week where he ran for 103 yards and three touchdowns he was named the week 14 NFC Offensive Player of the Week. Continuing the tradition of Panther football effective running is key to their success, Newton said.

“We know who we are, we know what our DNA is. The better Stew is, the better this offense is,” Newton said. “We have to run the football, that’s our niche as an offense. We need Stew involved, we need C-Mac and Fozzy, and CAP…our offensive line has to get physical. That’s our nature as long as I’ve been here.”

To get the win against Minnesota Vikings last week it came down to a run by Newton to put the team in position to win when Panthers found themselves in a tied game late in the fourth quarter. Newton is willing to do the same and expose himself as a runner as long as its going to help his team win.

“I have no problem with running the football,” Newton said. “I’m just trying to put as much pressure on the defense as possible and give them things other quarterbacks can’t give them.”

“I’m just in it to win football games…I know why I play this game.”

By Gino Terrell

This was originally published in MCXV December 15, 2017.