Yoga stretches into the mind of an athlete

Sharing stories 60 years past prime
July 28, 2023

Yoga stretches into sports - I remember when yoga stretching seeped into football practices in the ’70s. Many coaches of that period had issues with relaxation and peaceful thoughts, preferring persecutory calisthenics, from holding feet 6 inches off the ground to mountain climbers, with some duck walking sprinkled into the mixture. Many American athletes are genetically and culturally locked into the “no pain, no gain” model where good nutrition means extra bacon on a submarine sandwich. On Tuesday, I watched my friend Hiba Stancofski (a Lebanese yogi) lead a group of young women through a yoga stretching routine in 90-degree heat, and I wondered, “Are there any cold-climate cultures that practice yoga or extremely hot places with lots of flies and mosquitoes buzzing about?” The answer is complicated enough to say that the daily practicing of yoga will help keep you limber and reflexed into the zone where there is always playing time in your own mind. 

Sixty years past prime - John McMahon (LaSalle High School) and Dave Frederick (Bishop Egan), former Philadelphia Catholic League All-Catholic linemen in 1963, sat down in a Lewes Beach cottage July 25 and swapped stories and sports philosophies as our hostess, Marylou Jackson, served as a moderator, scrolling through her iPad and occasionally bringing John back to Planet Here and Now. John lives in Tampa, Fla., and every couple of years he takes a three-week solo driving vacation to visit relatives and friends, and anyone else who will give him a bologna sandwich and a room for the night. Part of being a product of Philly sports culture is you keep track of every athlete who ever crossed your face, as we offensive lineman like to say. Country singer Clint Black has a lyric: “All I'm asking is where are you now?” Anytime I look at any team photo, from six to 60 years ago, I wonder what happened to everyone. That inquisitiveness is quintessential row house Philadelphia. 

Trucking and ducking - I keep on trucking and trudging through the kaleidoscope of sports venues, but like a runner with bad eyesight, I pick my spots. I’ve been working on expanding my social media profile where I represent no one but myself and everyone is in the family hype business. 

Six wild cards - Major League Baseball awards three wild card spots in each league. It is done to maintain fan interest; otherwise, who would watch the Phillies, who are now 11 games behind the Braves with 61 games left to play? And yet there is another lesson. There are long-haul championship teams (give them a trophy), and then there are the sprinters who just get into the playoffs where the postseason is a bonus with low to no expectations. Just look at the Phillies team last year getting to the World Series and actually winning two games. There are five National League teams – the Reds, Diamondbacks, Giants, Phillies and Marlins – within one game of each other battling for three wild card spots. It’s the major league reason fans keep watching the regular season. 

The yips - Philly is the wrong town for a professional athlete to get the yips, unless getting booed followed by, “You suck!” is a proven remediation therapy. The Mayo Clinic website explains: “The yips were always associated with performance anxiety; however, it now appears that some people have the yips due to a neurological condition affecting specific muscles. This condition is known as focal dystonia.” Focal dystonia, yips, head case or choke artist booting ground balls and batting .247 with a $300 million long-term contract will get shortstop Trea Turner booed and castigated every day of the week and twice during a doubleheader. Speaking of which, what is with that haircut? Yes, personalized put-downs are coming. Trea Hey Kid will wish he was only getting booed. 

Snippets - Erin Coverdale, former Cape and Franklin and Marshall field hockey player, has been named a full-time assistant coach at Dickinson. The Red Devils are a Division III team playing in the 11-member Centennial Conference, which includes Johns Hopkins, Franklin and Marshall, Bryn Mawr, Ursinus, Washington College, Haverford, Swarthmore, Dickinson, Muhlenberg, McDaniel and Gettysburg. Tori Huk is the new field hockey coach at Indian River, having previously coached at Polytech. Dominique Scott has resigned as the head field hockey coach at Sussex Tech, and Robin Verdery takes over the head coaching duties. Shannon Lord is the head volleyball coach at Sussex Tech. Now I’m off to same-day surgery on my left wrist. I hope they don’t talk about me while I'm knocked out. Go on now, git!


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