Syracuse takes advantage of the coaching skills that create ‘Shelley George miracles’

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on March 5, 2018 at 8:53 pm Contact Anthony: amdabbun@syr.edu Shelley George’s father always asked her one simple question.“Are you any good?” he asked.Every time Jim Freeman, a former NFL player for the Steelers and Rams, would challenge his daughter, she responded assuredly and confidently.“I’m the best,” George said.George has spent her entire life trying to prove to her father why she deserves to call herself the best. As a player, a coach and a person, George fuels that desire by taking on new challenges and demonstrating her talents. As an assistant coach of the Syracuse (9-2, 2-2 Atlantic Coast) women’s tennis team, George said she preaches the same philosophy to her players that her father taught her. Her presence on the sidelines during practices and matches has helped SU in her nine seasons as assistant coach.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“When I grew up in Iowa, we were brought up to believe that we could do anything that we wanted to do as long as we worked hard and believed in ourselves.” George said.George grew up playing basketball. But one day as a junior high schooler, she tagged along to her mother’s tennis lesson. After hitting a few balls, she caught a famous coach’s eyes. Don Klotz, a former University of Iowa coach whose name now adorns the Hawkeyes courts, saw George hitting balls with her mother and offered her lessons.From that moment forward, George fell in love with the sport. Every day before school, she would head to the courts and play. When the school day ended, she was off to basketball practice. Then, after getting home and eating dinner, her day came full circle as she went back to the courts for more tennis.She went on to a four-year college tennis career, two at St. Ambrose University and two at the University of Iowa. Then, George led the City High School women’s tennis team in Iowa City for 18 seasons.She served as the Missouri Valley President of the United States Tennis Association while working at the North Dodge Athletic Club in Iowa City. She produced numerous collegiate athletes and developed some of the top talent on the tennis tour, including Madison Keys, the No. 14 ranked player in the world.“Her serve is a Shelley George miracle,” Luke Jensen, a 1994 French Open doubles champion and former SU head coach, said of Keys. “Shelley taught her that serve and it’s one of the biggest on tour.”When Jensen and former Syracuse athletic director Daryl Gross called George in 2008 to offer an assistant role, the former Iowa tennis star saw the opportunity as a new challenge.George left her family, friends and blossoming future in the USTA behind. Jensen said she was one step away from potentially being president of the USTA, yet she took the job in Syracuse.“I thought it would be a really fun challenge,” George said. “Daryl Gross and Luke Jensen were the two biggest motivators to me, it was about developing collegiate athletes.”George coached under Jensen until he left unexpectedly during the 2012 season. With the job vacant, George applied to be the head coach. With all of her experience teaching young athletes in both high school in Iowa and college at SU, George seemed to be the natural choice to replace Jensen.Gross gave George a phone call informing her that Syracuse had other ideas.The former athletic director gave assurances that George would still have a job as an assistant, but the school decided to go a different direction. Under Jensen, the school focused on American talent. By hiring Younes Limam, SU pivoted to the international scene. Today, six of the team’s eight players hail from outside the United States.“We were going from an all-American program to an all-international program,” George said. “I had no international recruiting experience at that time.”But that didn’t stop George from doing what she does best: teaching.George crafted her coaching style through 32 years of experience working with young players. Syracuse’s top-ranked player, Gabriela Knutson, said she’s tough yet firm, reassuring but demanding. Jensen said George has a knack for communicating with the young women on the court, always seeming to find a way to get through to them mentally.Whenever Knutson finds herself struggling in a match, she yells under her breath as she walks back to her bench in frustration. Against Boston College on Feb. 16, Knutson trailed 4-1 in the first set. George took a seat beside Knutson and listened to her voice frustrations. Then, the coach offered her input. She talked the junior through her anger, helping her to relax and play her game. George suggested small changes in Knutson’s approach that could make a difference. After their talk, Knutson won 11 of the final 12 games of the match.Much like George helped craft Keys’ serve, Knutson said the biggest difference in her game in the last two seasons is her improved service. By focusing on hitting the ball at the apex of the ball toss and increasing knee bend, Knutson has turned her serve from an occasional liability into a weapon. George’s technical advice has helped move No. 18 Knutson up in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings.“She pushes me to reach my full potential, she’s had really tough love for me,” Knutson said. “But I will always turn to her if I have any problems.”Not only does George coach the players, but both Jensen and Limam have learned from how she relates to players on the court.George was always the first to pick up on disagreements within the team, Jensen said. Even when she coached for Jensen, who was formerly among the best doubles players in the world, he said George was the first to notice when certain doubles pairings weren’t effective.“She’s making me a better coach every day,” Limam said.Jensen added: “She’s a rock star in our game.” Commentslast_img read more

Akinwunmi Heads NFF’s Reform Committee

first_imgAmaju Pinnick Given three months to complete restructuring of Nigeria footballDuro IkhazuagbeAmaju Melvin Pinnick’s desire to bequeath a sustainable football culture for the country got a boost wednesday with the naming of a first-of-its-kind Reform Committee for the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF). The committee is a fulfilment of the promise made by Pinnick when handed a fresh four-year mandate at the NFF’s Elective Congress in Katsina last month. He said in his acceptance speech then that the administration of the game in the country would be reformed to bring it in line with global best practice.First Vice President of the NFF, Seyi Akinwunmi, is saddled with completing the restructuring the country’s football in three months. The constitution of the committee whose membership cuts across a broad spectrum of football stakeholders was endorsed at the 74th Annual General Assembly of the federation in Asaba last week.NFF 2nd Vice President/LMC Chairman Shehu Dikko will serve as Vice Chairman, with other Board members Ibrahim Musa Gusau and Chidi Ofo Okenwa also in, as well as NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi.There are also Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi (Chairman, Osun State FA), Rt. Hon. Margaret Icheen (Chairman, Benue State FA), Porbeni Ogun (Chairman, Bayelsa State FA), Nasiru Saidu (Chairman, Sokoto State FA), Alh. Garba Mohammed (Chairman, Yobe State FA), Dr. Kweku Tandoh (Executive Chairman, Lagos State Sports Commission), Godwin Dudu Orumen (Executive Chairman, Edo State Sports Commission), Alh. Farouk Yarma Adamu (Commissioner for Youth Empowerment, Gombe State), Chief (Mrs) Dilichukwu Onyedinma (Director of Sports, FCT), Alh. Abba Yola (Chairman, NFF Technical Study Group) and Isaac Danladi, Chairman of NPFL Club Owners).Others are Alh. Shuaib Gara-Gombe, business mogul Yemi Idowu, Sampson Ebomhe and sports journalists Tony Ubani, Felix Awogu, Osasu Obayiuwana, Godwin Enakhena and Chisom Ezeoke, as well as one representative each of the Nigeria Football Coaches Association, Nigeria Referees Association and the National Association of Nigeria Professional Footballers.Already, the committee has appointed George Etomi and Partners as independent Secretary/Legal Adviser (with liberty to seek other legal advice). The law firm will do all the collation and categorization of data. The Chairman, Akinwunmi who is an attorney, has also appointed leading journalist, Mr. Colin Udoh, as his Special Assistant with specific responsibilities for research and social media enablement.Akinwunmi revealed yesterday that the committee will have a dedicated website and relevant email addresses (@Nigeriafootballreforms), “for people in every nook and cranny in Nigeria and also in the diaspora to be able to contribute to this debate and reform, as we will post all and any relevant document for review and general discussions.There could even be scheduled Q and A session on particular topics to be handled by specific persons.“In line with FIFA and CAF best practice, of these members shall be selected a 9 (nine) – Member Bureau that will serve as the engine room to drive the committee work and manage the day to day activities of the committee. There will be a minimum of six meetings (twice a month) and a 2-3 Day retreat at the end of the exercise. All other interactions would be done online.”It was further gathered that the committee will visit each of the geopolitical zones (not all the members) to have town hall discussions and meet specific groups, as well as engage a permanent media team to cover every meeting and interaction across the country on a retainer basis (ultimately, materials would be produced and archived for posterity).Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more

Drunken mother arrested after concocting tale that daughter was kidnapped

A Palm Beach County woman was arrested Sunday after she admitted to police she made up a kidnapping story to cover up the fact that she had been drinking and was too drunk remember where her daughter was, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office has reported.An Amber Alert for Natly Irias, 6, was issued Saturday after her mother, Maria Irias, said a man offered to give the pair a ride home from a store and drove off with the child in the car when they reached the house, deputies said. Irias later admitted to deputies that her daughter had not been kidnapped at a store, but that she’d been drinking and couldn’t remember her whereabouts. Shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday, sheriff’s spokeswoman Teri Barbera said Natly had been found.Irias was arrested on charges of child neglect and filing a false report of a non-existent crime. read more