Jake Force
Rants by Jake

At Home With Dan Shaughnessy

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A profile I wrote on Mr. Shaughnessy for a class during the Fall semester

Dan Shaughnessy buys seven newspapers at a nearby 7-Eleven and jogs a mile every morning before getting to work as Boston’s most-revered sports reporter.

Shaughnessy welcomes me into his Newton home on Sunday, November 21. The foyer boasts a parquet floor, an iconic staple of the Boston Celtics, a team he’s covered for nearly four decades.

On this Sunday, the Shaughnessy house is busy with guests, dogs, grandkids and football on TV. As we watch the Indianapolis Colts annihilate the Buffalo Bills, Shaughnessy and I discuss how a Buffalo loss will cede control of the AFC East to the New England Patriots. (We all know how that turned out this year, though).

Two of Shaughnessy’s grandsons, Nico, 4, and Jack, 2, are in the living room with us. Jack checks his grandfather’s pulse with a toy stethoscope while Nico jumps up and down on the couch, reporting every tackle. Nico’s sister Lucy, 2, joins us for a few minutes before a nap.

During the pandemic, the Shaughnessy house hosted eleven people—including five children ages four and under—and three dogs. “Everything broke,” Shaughnessy says of the 1900s-era house. “The fridge. The hot water heater.”

On Nov. 16, Shaughnessy, 68, released his latest book, Wish It Lasted Forever, about his journey covering the Boston Celtics in the 1980s, when they won three championships and competed in two others. The book doesn’t include anything directly from Celtics legend Larry Bird, because, according to Shaughnessy, no one in the Boston media can get in touch with him.

“We don’t need him,” Shaughnessy says, adding that the book includes the story of Bird hustling $160 from him and details why Bird hasn’t spoken to him in decades.

When Larry Bird mysteriously injured his shooting hand during the Celtics’ 1985 NBA Finals loss to the Lakers, the Boston rumor mill pointed to a bar fight. Shaughnessy, always suspicious, lurked in bars around Faneuil Hall and found the man Bird had fought. When Shaughnessy ran the story, Bird stopped speaking to him. “With the fight, he affected the product the fans were buying, and that had to be reported.”

That logic is the essence of Shaughnessy’s nature as a reporter. If he knows it, he prints it. “With Larry, deep down I know he really likes me. We had a lot of fun.”

His time covering the Celtics made him the Dan Shaughnessy we know today, but he found his calling long before that. While at Groton High School, working for the Public Spirit out of Ayer, Mass., he covered the school basketball team under a pseudonym, because he also played for the team. “I once ripped myself for missing two free throws.”

At the College of the Holy Cross, he worked as the campus sports reporter for The Boston Globe, a common practice for the newspaper then. He also covered youth sporting events around Boston and “got to know the city on Globe time and in Globe cars.” Shaughnessy wrote some 400 stories for the Globe between the ages of 19 and 23.

“They wouldn’t hire me full time, and I didn’t stomp my feet.” He notes the effort to bring more women into the profession at the time. After freelancing for two years after college, colleague Peter Gammons found him an opening at the Baltimore Evening Sun, where he was put on the Orioles beat in 1977. Later, he moved to the Washington Star baseball beat. When the Star folded in 1981, Shaughnessy finally made it to the Globe, where he’s been ever since.

“I wanted to come back, and I did.”

Despite his reputation as a take-no-prisoners sports columnist, the man himself is pleasantly approachable and even mild-mannered in person. However, he feels personally responsible to get answers to any urgent questions about Boston sports, especially when no other reporters are willing to press the point.

After Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s mysterious benching of cornerback Malcolm Butler in Super Bowl LII, Shaughnessy showed up to the first workout of the next year to ask Belichick the question on everyone’s mind.

“‘What was that about?’ And he wouldn’t go there,” Shaughnessy says. “He said, ‘I’m only here to talk about this year, this season.’ Well maybe guys on your team this season want to know why that happened last February when they didn’t get rings… But I just thought we had to close the books on it, give it one more shot.”

With the Bills-Colts game at halftime, Shaughnessy takes me upstairs to his office, a sports lover’s paradise. On the TV, he’s been watching a DVD of Celtics-Lakers game 4 from the 1984 NBA Finals for the new book. At this point, he’s done 58 book-talk interviews for the book, with many more remaining.

Above a packed bookshelf is a collage from his childhood bedroom with various cutouts of athletes and other sports-related images. “It went all the way around my bedroom, and that [the part he currently has in his office] was the piece I was able to salvage. Scotch tape holds for 50 years. It’s amazing.”

Against the wall sits a knee-high stack of pandemic-era newspaper sports sections, a sports Rolodex for these unusual times. A sign taped to the back of the door reads, “Zooming, please keep out,” for when he’s on a call.

Shaughnessy discusses the current virtual nature of his job due to the pandemic and how reporters aren’t going to as many games as usual. He explains that the readers don’t notice if the reporter watches the game on TV then Zooms into a press conference. He argues, though, that young reporters need to attend the games.

“I’m not a fan of people who are 22, who have never been anywhere or done anything, it’s just that you’re not covering it by watching TV.”

Shaughnessy also has no problem admitting inconvenient truths, including how his boss, Globe owner John W. Henry, also owns the baseball team he covers. “Let’s call it what it is, and that’s a conflict of interest.”

Shaughnessy and Henry haven’t spoken since 2009, when Shaughnessy wrote about Red Sox star David Ortiz testing positive for steroids. “I admire [Henry] for the fact that I’m still employed,” although he adds, “I can’t carry the water of the guy who owns the team.”

The Ortiz story is one that still puzzles Shaughnessy. “I talked to him with the tape recorder going,” he says. “I don’t know what he thought I was going to do.” Alas, Big Papi hasn’t spoken to Shaughnessy since.

Shaughnessy, a baseball writer first and foremost, doesn’t go easy on steroid users. He never casts his baseball Hall of Fame vote for someone known to have used steroids. He admits to long being suspicious about the sheer dominance of Ortiz’s play and confesses the two of them were never close. “He’s a great guy, but I’m still suspicious.”

Ask him if he cares that David Ortiz hates him, and he’ll tell you he was just doing his job. He doesn’t care if his writing ticks you off. “I’m not here to protect people.”

He cares about getting to the truth on behalf of the fans. He’s impartial to the outcome but ferocious for the passionate Boston fans and always conscious of his reputation and responsibility. His words have indeed ignited fires, such as the website that supposedly exists to “embarrass and critique” him. Perhaps one would be frightened by such a threat. Shaughnessy, however, is rather unfazed.

“You want to give the reader something they can’t get anywhere else. So it helps to have people know who the hell you are,” he says, adding that, “Whatever’s best for me is what I’m rooting for. I like the story.”

In the end, his priorities are straight. “As long as family and friends like you, that’ll have to do.”

Chris Herren doesn’t want to talk about his story anymore…He wants to talk about yours

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“This assembly is about you, not me” – Chris Herren

Chris Herren is done telling you the “former Boston Celtic” part of his story. He’s finished telling you about his battles with alcoholism and drug addiction and how his story turned out. He wants to focus on your story. Or maybe it’s your son, daughter, brother, sister, cousin or friend who can use Chris’s story as an inspiration and a guide for looking inward.

Chris grew up a basketball phenom in Fall River, Massachusetts. He scored over 2,000 points and was a McDonald’s All-American in his four years at BMC Durfee High School while playing in an environment that he compares in football terms to Friday Night Lights. Winning was mandatory. He played college basketball first for Boston College and later transferred to Fresno State. His dream of playing professional basketball came true on June 30, 1999, when the Denver Nuggets selected him 33rd overall in the NBA draft.

After being traded to his hometown Boston Celtics the following season, Chris later played professional basketball in Italy, China, Turkey, Iran and Poland. Despite his successes on the court, a grueling battle with drug addiction and alcoholism eventually derailed his basketball career and almost claimed his life more than once. Since getting sober 13 years ago, Chris has spent the second act of his life helping others overcome similar struggles.

I became friends with Chris’s son, Chris Jr., in sixth grade. In 2012, a day before starting eighth grade, the Herrens and my family moved into houses on the same street, on the same day, and the rest is history. Today, Chris Jr. is one of my very best friends. Chris Sr. and his wife, Heather, routinely make the friends of their three kids feel at home and welcome at their house. They want to know what’s going on in your life and how your family is doing. They make sure everyone has eaten. If a big pay-per-view boxing match or UFC fight is on, they buy it for us. They never minded when kids would stay at their house for days on end. They understand all too well how important it is for kids to feel like they belong.

Over the years, Chris has made more of a name for himself as a speaker than he ever did as a basketball player. He’s spent his recovery from addiction sharing his story and message. He’s spoken in front of nearly everyone you can think of, from local high schools to every level of professional and college sports. He’s spoken at churches and treatment centers. He’s helped celebrity athletes like Lamar Odom and Johnny Manziel with their addiction battles. He’s seen a million faces and impacted them all in one way or another.

He certainly had no idea his story was going to turn out this way, and admits that in the beginning of his recovery, he never envisioned his current path. His story was eloquently told in a 2011 ESPN 30 for 30 feature documentary called, “Unguarded.” The film gave Chris an opening for the second act of his life.

“I’ll never be this public speaker booked out two years in advance,” he said, still in amazement over how the documentary changed everything. “You know, I’m not going to be presenting to the New England Patriots and the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks and Alabama football and the LA Kings. I would’ve laughed at you.”

But that’s his life today–sharing his story, listening to others tell their stories and helping people find their way out of the maze of addiction.

“‘Unguarded’ totally changed everybody’s life around me,” Chris tells me over the phone. “It had an unbelievably positive effect on all of us. It changed us. It put us in a totally different lifestyle, and that’s the power of ESPN and that’s the power of storytelling. I mean, it opened doors for me that continue to open.”

Indeed they do. In 2018, Chris and Heather co-founded Herren Wellness, a treatment center at the Jacob Hill Inn Estate in Seekonk, Massachusetts. It’s been such a success that a second location was opened in Fall River, and a third in Warrenton, Virginia. The success of the program has created unforeseen problems, but not bad problems necessarily.

“Most patients go through a 90-day program,” he said. “And, yeah, that’s good for business, but honestly, one of the problems we’ve actually faced is getting people to leave. They don’t want to leave.”

Even after rehabilitation, Herren Wellness patients feel forever connected. Tristan, a close personal friend of mine, had a recent battle with alcoholism, and after stays in multiple treatment centers, was finally successful at Herren Wellness. He, too, didn’t want to leave at the end of his stay.

“Chris, his wife Heather, and the people he wrapped around me through my recovery will be a part of my life forever,” Tristan told me via text. “The candid, ever-present compassion and empathy that Chris feels is contagious. The positive, life-changing decisions I make daily have some connection to what I’ve learned from him. My family, dear friends, and I will always be grateful!”

Chris credits much of this success to Herren Wellness being different from your average treatment center.

“Addiction just tears away your self esteem,” he said. “And that’s what we look to build back up. Recovery isn’t just about not doing drugs or drinking, it’s about the whole person. So we focus on the holistic approach with workout programs, personal trainers, hyperbaric chambers. There’s very much a physical and body aspect to it as well, so we really emphasize that.”

He also relates this to his experiences at treatment centers and how they failed to reach him personally.

“You know, when I got to treatment,” he said, “I was given a big blue book and told to read it and talk about it every day. And that’s not going to work for everybody. You know, not everyone is going to believe in the finding God part, because not everyone recovers that way.”

Today, Chris is mostly concerned about the first day of addiction that no one wants to talk about. Chris explains that focusing on what the end of addiction looks like will never help you see the full picture of someone’s struggle.

After speaking enough times and hearing enough stories in return – he presents roughly 250 times per year all across the country – Chris’s message has changed: we pay far too much attention to the worst day of addiction and not the first day.

“The First Day” is the title of his most recent film that first aired on ESPN and is now available for rental on thefirstdayfilm.com.

“Everybody wants to show pictures of drug addicts and tell stories about how ugly it was in the end instead of asking very simply, ‘why would you take a chance at letting this begin?’” he said. “And every kid out there takes a chance at letting it begin. The scary thing about addiction and alcoholism, nobody knows who has it. Growing up as a kid, when you’re drinking in somebody’s basement, you have no idea who’s going to be the one to struggle.”

This, according to Chris, is where the real sadness of addiction lies.

“There’s tragedy in that, the first day,” he said, “when a kid feels like they have to change themself in order to fit in.”

The first day, however, is only part of the equation. The other part is a one-word question about alcohol and drug use that so many parents fail to ask and discuss with their children.

“Parents never ask their kids why,” Chris said. “They want to know who they were with, where they were, who bought it, when they did it and what house or whatever. The only question that needs to be asked is ‘why?’ Parents won’t ask it because parents are afraid of the answer.”

The “why” is what Chris believes are the uncomfortable subjects that parents like to think don’t apply to their kids.

“And ‘why’ is the insecurities,” Chris said. “‘Why’ is ‘Dad, I just feel more at ease when I have four beers in my system.’ ‘Dad, I can talk to girls much easier when I have four beers in my system’… Nobody asks why, and ‘why?’ is the one that hurts. And ‘why?’ is the beginning. But parents are afraid to deal with those issues.”

Chris sees this as a vital issue with kids today. He worries about our nation’s ever-growing mental health crisis, especially in teenagers, and how it makes them more susceptible to substance abuse. That, along with the proliferation of drug and alcohol abuse in movies and TV shows, such as HBO’s “Euphoria,” and some of the conversation surrounding it, have contributed to those worries.

“You wouldn’t believe how many parents I have calling me about that show,” Chris said. “I have this famous person calling me about their kid and saying ‘my son thinks he’s a character on ‘Euphoria.’ Can you please talk some sense into him?’”

Chris’s why in his teenage years wasn’t what it is for most kids. He was the Durfee basketball phenom. He was playing under the shadow of his brother, Michael, a Durfee basketball legend. He had NBA potential. And he had thousands of people packing into gyms on Tuesday nights, not to watch Durfee or their opponent, but to watch him.

His two sons, both standout basketball players, have faced similar pressure. Chris Jr., now 23, faced constant, intense pressure in middle school, high school and college due to his NBA bloodline. The youngest Herren child, 13-year-old Drew, will enter high school next year poised for basketball stardom. For Chris Sr., the parental focus has never been what happens on the court, but about managing the pressure that comes with it.

“Christopher [Jr.] has gotten that the worst,” Chris said. “Drew and Chris [and Samantha] have the luxury I didn’t have of growing up in a household where someone will say, ‘Hey, are you feeling okay? You know, you have this immense pressure on you and how are you feeling about it?’”

He knows that no kid wants their parents constantly over their shoulder, criticizing their every move. Having played professionally, he understands that his expectations for his sons are inherently high, but learning how to control those expectations is something he says parents need to recognize.

“We’re father and son,” he says. “Not coach and player, and I’m not good at separating the two. And once I learned that, I think we’re all better off for it.”

When Chris Jr. was playing high school and college basketball, his father wasn’t often seen at his games for multiple reasons–one so he wouldn’t become the story, and so his presence wouldn’t add to an already high-pressure situation for his son. Between that and his travel schedule, if Big Chris was there, that meant it was a big game.

While we hear a lot about the horrors of heroin, fentanyl and other opioids, Chris said news about those substances takes the focus off the one that inflicts more harm than any other.

“What really does the most damage is actually alcohol,” he says. “It’s so much harder to make someone realize they have a problem because it’s everywhere. It’s legal. With heroin, merely doing it means you have a problem. It’s not that simple with booze. Alcohol has been given this amazing pass through the years, and it’s caused a lot of harm. It will slowly and methodically chip away at you. And, you know, nearly eight in 10 of the people at Herren Wellness are there for alcohol.”

Chris feels alcohol harmed his family during his childhood. Many of his first drinks were Miller Lites that he stole from his father, who, according to Chris, had a drinking problem.

“I hated drinking those fucking beers growing up because it tasted horrible,” he said, “and I could see what it was doing to my family, to my mother especially. But drinking those beers was my escape.”

Those Miller Lite cans were Chris’s beginning. When you ask him what his rock bottom was, he’ll go back to the beer cans, and he’ll refer to them as “the beginning of the bottom.” He believes that with more focus on moments like those and less focus on him losing his basketball career to addiction, the better we will begin to understand this disease. But Chris wants us to stop using the phrase “rock bottom,” because it diminishes everything that led up to that moment.

“The phrase ‘rock bottom’ kills people,” he says. “It’s the only illness that we face in this world that people wait until their loved ones get as sick as they can possibly get before they’re offered help.”

If you ask Chris what his journey has taught him, his answer is simple.

“Empathy,” he said. “To be caring, kind, empathetic toward people. To understand them and not judge by first impression or by looking at somebody. Because I think everyone has a struggle inside of them. And when you’re struggling, no matter how big or small, it’s always easier when you have someone to help you through it.”

Collection of Jake’s Takes from WMLN

Radio, Sports

Talk show on WMLN-FM Curry College Radio, Milton-Boston. I’m a spoiled Boston sports fan who mostly just complains about how every team in this town is doing everything wrong. I also discuss league / national stories when they’re important. Sometimes I talk about the news and various pop culture topics. I play music on the show, mostly songs from my favorite albums with release anniversaries that given week. But if you want to hear that part of the show, your lazy ass can join me on Wednesday Nights from 9-11 pm to hear the show live. Otherwise, the slackers who missed it can listen here.

Click here to listen on Spotify.

The Iron Horse: Lou Gehrig

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It remains one of the greatest feats in baseball history, in all of sports history, really. Twenty-one hundred and thirty consecutive games played, a record that stood for 56 years until Cal Ripken Jr. finally surpassed it. The streak earned Lou Gehrig his nickname, “The Iron Horse.” The day after that 2,130th game, Gehrig approached then-New York Yankees manager, Joe McCarthy, to take himself out of the lineup. That request marked the beginning of the end for a baseball legend, by then battling perhaps the most debilitating disease known to man—Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a disease that would later come to be known as  “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”

An article on Gehrig in the ESPN archives calls his legacy one of irony. His nickname, The Iron Horse, implies he was a man of indestructible stature. Yet, at age 35, he contracted an incurable disease that rendered him weak, frail and eventually dead at 37.

Aside from being one of baseball’s greatest hitters of all time, Gehrig was also known for being the number four—or “clean-up”—hitter behind the legendary Babe Ruth. The duo endures as one the greatest in all of sports history. Every year on June 2, the day of Gehrig’s passing,  Major League Baseball celebrates “Lou Gehrig Day” to commemorate the slugger’s legacy, writes Bill Francis for the Baseball Hall of Fame’s website, adding, “His accomplishments and what he stands for as an icon of American sports culture have long been a pillar of the Hall of Fame’s guest experience.”

What Gehrig means to sport and American culture spans far beyond the game of baseball. He remains a symbol of what a commitment to greatness and excellence means for athletes. And, he endures in American history as one of the great examples of courage.

A human machine from an early age, Gehrig weighed a remarkable 14 pounds at the time of his birth on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. He was born to German immigrants, Christina Foch and Heinrich Gehrig on June 19, 1903. Two of his sisters died from measles and whooping cough. A  brother died as an infant. One might consider Gehrig a miracle baby. Perhaps the only bigger miracle than him surviving his childhood was the magnitude of what he would live to accomplish.

Before ascending to greatness in the Major Leagues, Gehrig gained attention for his play in a special high school championship game in Chicago. He then attended Columbia College where he would play baseball and football, according to Columbia’s 250th anniversary website. On April 30, 1923, Gehrig cut his college career short and signed with the Yankees as a free agent. He claimed it was because he needed the money. Keep in mind, this is before the MLB held an annual entry draft, which didn’t start until the 1960s.

Gehrig in his Columbia baseball uniform. (Photo courtesy of wikipedia).

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My Feelings on Tuukka Rask Retiring? Mixed …

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Kevin Dupont at The Boston Globe wrote a great column commending everything Tuukka Rask did for the Boston Bruins but also noted how Rask’s best was never enough for some fans. 

Sorry Rask, but guilty as charged (hand-raised emoji). 

Dupont is right, though. Rask did do a lot for the Bruins. He’s won more regular season and playoff games than any goalie in franchise history — that long history dates back to 1924. He has the most shutouts (52) in franchise history. Rask also boasted of a solid .921 career saves percentage and a 2.28 goals-against average. 

Last week via the Bruins’ social media, Rask announced his retirement from his 15 years in the NHL, all of which was spent with the Bruins. “… it is with a heavy heart that I announce my retirement from the game of hockey,” Rask wrote, adding that Boston is “the best sports city in the world.” 

Let’s clear up a few things. I have always liked Rask. However, at the end of the line, when the Bruins tried to bring him back for one more kick at the can, it was clearly time for them to move on. 

Read the rest of this article on the Boston University News Service.

Tom Brady’s greatest plays and his epic snub of the Patriots

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What is the Tom Brady moment you’ll always look back on? 

Is it the young kid leading an improbable game-winning drive against the big, bad St. Louis Rams with less than two minutes to play in Super Bowl 36? Or is it the famous snow bowl against the Raiders several weeks prior? Or maybe the iconic comeback from down 28-3 with 2:10 to play in the third quarter of Super Bowl 51? I know that one takes the cake for me. 

Brady’s most exciting moments span far beyond the Super Bowls that allowed him to shine on the global stage. 

This has always been one of the best parts about growing up a Boston sports fan — the victories that led to the championship titles. The ‘04 Red Sox didn’t win their first World Series in 86 years without first making a miraculous comeback against the Yankees in the playoffs. The 2011 Bruins claimed their Stanley Cup title only after a tumultuous first-round playoff series with their sworn enemies of almost a century, the Montreal Canadiens.

 Everyone remembers the championships. But what surrounded them was pretty awesome too. So, in that spirit, here are just three of my favorite Tom Brady moments that weren’t in the Super Bowl. 

Click here to continue reading Jake’s story from the Boston University News Service.

Curry and Covid: A Tale of Survival

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In this three-part story, The Currier Times will examine the effect the pandemic and the financial struggles have had on the college. In this first installment, we’ll look at the current state of higher education in the area and how those issues have applied to Curry. The second part will examine the retrenchment process and how the college decided what—and who—had to be cut. The third part will look to the future and what it holds for the institution.

Read the three part article:

Part One: https://curriertimes.net/2021/05/19/curry-and-covid-a-tale-of-survival/
Part Two: https://curriertimes.net/2021/05/20/part-two-retrenchment-takes-hold-but-questions-remain/
Part Three: https://curriertimes.net/2021/05/21/as-pandemic-wanes-where-does-curry-go-next-part-three/

Boston University Graduate School Entrance Essay

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Attention Deficit Disorder, Nonverbal Learning Disorder, Processing Speed Disorder… All that disorder made for an uphill battle while chasing a lifelong goal of working in sports media. In order to achieve that goal, I always knew I had to stay in school no matter how difficult it might get—and school was extremely challenging for me from the beginning. IEPs, meetings, emails and responses to intervention, my parents and I had it all. After fifth grade, I was inexplicably “graduated” off the IEP that was keeping me afloat in school. With the challenges of middle school looming, my doctor prescribed Concerta, which instantly changed my life. Concerta made it possible for me to focus on my schoolwork and helped me control the impulse to act out in class. My classroom performance increased as did my self-confidence. As I grew, so did the dosage, but with the higher dosage came more noticeable side effects. The meds killed my appetite to the point where I was often hungry and tired at hockey practice every day after school. I wasn’t eating enough to produce the energy needed to perform at practice.

By junior year, I’d had enough of Concerta’s side effects. Five years on the meds had provided a blueprint of how I could do better in school. And while I made the decision to no longer take it, I still consider Concerta a critical part of how I made it to college. By acting, behaving and studying the same way I did when I was on it, I applied what worked without the pill doing it for me. 

Senior year, my parents were concerned about whether I should play hockey, because my grades had slipped a bit since I’d been off the meds. I had to make it work, because giving up hockey simply wasn’t an option. I was determined to prove everyone wrong, to show them that yes, I can finish senior project and get an A on it. Yes, I can get into college. And yes, maybe I can even get better college grades than anyone in my immediate family ever did. Determination kicked in along with maturity.

With the goal of successfully completing college, I was tested by Curry College’s PAL Program to determine whether I qualified. PAL is designed to help students with conditions such as ADHD, Dyslexia and other learning challenges to navigate college. Their testing found I had a Processing Speed Disorder, something copious other tests had missed. They were shocked that I’d successfully completed high school without any significant support. Knowing I needed the kind of help PAL provided, I applied early-action to one school—Curry College. They sent a big envelope a few months later, and the rest is history. The PAL Program was exactly what I needed—someone in my corner. I didn’t need everyday homework help and usually didn’t request extended time on exams, which is one of PAL’s biggest selling points. However, I would go to my PAL Professor, Dr. Webber, for things like picking my classes, advice about communicating with professors and tips on time management, which was my greatest challenge. I’m perfectly capable of finishing assignments, but my ADD can make concentrating a major struggle. Meeting weekly with Dr. Webber helped remind me that school is the main reason I’m there. She taught me to advocate for myself, which might be the most important factor in getting through college. We often talked about how participating in classroom discussions goes miles further than the gradebook indicates. Even if you aren’t caught up on material, “Try your best to participate,” she’d say. “It doesn’t go unnoticed.” Dr. Webber and PAL gave me tools and strategies that put graduate school within reach. 

You asked me to write about a moment of truth in my life, and I can honestly say my proudest moment thus far was making the Dean’s List my sophomore year. What a thrill that was for me and my parents. Of course, I wondered if it was a one-off. Then it happened again and again. I’ve made the Dean’s List five times now, each time a victory more than seventeen years in the making. My greatest accomplishment will be finishing college in May with an excellent GPA, an expanded worldview and a passion for writing and reporting that I hope to perfect in graduate school. My second greatest accomplishment would be acceptance into your esteemed Master’s of Journalism program. 

Through The Ups and Downs, Zach White Remains Focused on the Work Ahead

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As Curry hockey and lacrosse standout Zach White closes in on his final days before graduation, he reflects on his time here at Curry as well as future expectations as a professional hockey player.

He’s come a long way since having only six points in 22 games his sophomore hockey season, but the challenges and successes along the way have helped him become fixture on the Curry campus.

“There was one point where I was on the verge of tears because I had twenty-something breakaways and scored on like one of them,” said White.

His numbers greatly improved over the next two seasons with 32 points and 39 points, respectively. Tying for second place nationally for division III with 23 goals this year also added depth to his resume. The decorated two-sport captain has recently joined Hockey Club Cholet, a professional team from the French Ice Hockey Federation.

But to get the full Zach White picture, you need to go beyond the nationally recognized scoring numbers, being a two-sport captain and of course, beyond signing pro contracts. Do some digging, and you’ll find a guy whose raw passion to compete is unparalleled.

“When you have your captain, the nation-leading scorer out on the ice a half hour before practice working on things by himself, and then you have a freshman walk into the rink while Zach White is already out there, think about how that impacts your team culture and the message it sends that freshman,” said Curry head hockey coach TJ Manastersky.

“Zach White works hard and puts in all this extra time, but I don’t think Zach thinks of it as working. He’s just doing what he likes to do. This is who he is.”

At White’s last junior hockey showcase tournament for the New York Apple Core (Eastern Hockey League), Manastersky and White had to re-introduce themselves due to the Colonel coach forgetting their first encounter a year prior at Curry’s 2014 Accepted Students Day. Impressed with what he saw, Manastersky offered White a spot on the Curry hockey roster. White began as a nursing major the following fall.

“It was huge just to get college coaches to look at me,” White said, “because kids come out of high school and play three or four years of juniors, and I’d only played one year.”

It was indeed huge. At five-foot-seven-inches tall and a hundred and fifty pounds, White is used to having to impress with his skill and raw passion, and he has experienced heavy skepticism before.

“I would be the first one on and last one off the ice ever since I started here,” White said, “and I knew what I had to do to get to this level, because everybody said ‘you’re not good enough,’ ‘you’re too small,’ ‘you’re this and that,’ and I just said ‘whatever’. So I knew I needed to stand out in some way.”

But hockey wasn’t enough. In the summer of 2015, Zach attended a prospects’ day for Curry lacrosse. After talking with head lacrosse coach Tim Murphy and showing his game film from high school, White landed a spot as a face-off man on the 2016 squad, cementing his role as a two-sport Colonel.

He talks of an amazing four years here at Curry, and his resume speaks for itself: a seasoned leader on two teams with amazing stats and an involvement in the community. He also managed to set up a floor hockey tournament this year with kids in the Miller gym, the mission being to spread bullying awareness.

“My goal in life is always to help people and I figured this was the best way to do it,” said White.

However, the fruits of being a revered captain across two sports and a well-liked person around campus have certainly come with struggles.

Aside from a sophomore scoring drought, he’s also experienced chronic back pain for the majority of his Curry tenure. His main job on the lacrosse field was face-offs, a position that can cause pain in a multitude of areas. That, along with doing the full workout regiments for both hockey and lacrosse, contributed to his pain. However, he was fortunate to have trainers guide him through a tailored workout regiment, which several multi-sport Colonels now use.

“When I would be returning to hockey workouts, the trainers would help me make a regiment where I’m not really lifting as much, I’m just strengthening my core and my back so that I wouldn’t be injured throughout the lacrosse season and then have to recover through another whole year.”

He refuses to let the pain stop him, and he remains poised to compete at a high level.

“It’s a grind for sure. My back is killing me now, but it’s just adversity. I want to win so bad, and I want our team to do so well. All the pain kind of goes away when you step on the field.”

But back pain is just part of the challenge his workload has brought. Time management becomes much trickier when you play on one team, never mind being the leader of two. He would eventually have to switch his major from the time-and-work-consuming nursing to criminal justice, which was a better fit for his athletic schedule.

“I’ve gone through struggles that a lot of people who haven’t played sports won’t understand,” White said. “Things like schoolwork and trying to make time for friends and family. Like I haven’t been able to really go see my family, so that’s very strenuous on me because my mom is very close with me. [My girlfriend] is definitely a motivator for me as well. She’s helped me with a lot of struggles.”

Along with the burden of a time-consuming schedule, there have also been deeper struggles. One of which was losing friend and former lacrosse teammate, Wade Prajer, who took his own life after withdrawing from Curry following his and White’s sophomore year.

“It was really hard on all of us,” White said, “especially because he was such a good guy, and nobody really saw it coming because that type of thing you don’t really notice, ever. So it definitely was hard hearing that.”

Aside from losing a friend and former teammate, the death of both his grandmother two summers ago from cancer and his grandfather just two months ago from a stroke have weighed heavy on the ever-so-resilient White.

“It definitely sucks because they were my number one fans,” White said. “It chokes me up a little bit, because they’re the people who want to see you graduate. They want to see you play pro hockey, and it just sucks not having them be able to see that because they put so much energy into seeing it, they were at almost every game.”

Through it all, he stands strong and ready to embark on his pro career. And as Manastersky put it, he is definitely reaping the fruits of his labor. He will step into a significant role for his new Cholet club, which brings pressure, but like any challenge, he’s embracing it, because that’s what Zach White does.

“Zach is a game breaker,” Manastersky said, “a guy who at a moment’s notice can go down and score… He’s going to do great [in France].”

Red Sox vs. Cubs at Fenway Park

Rants, Written

Last night when me, my friend and my cousin realized we had gone to the wrong part of the stadium looking for our seats, we turned around and started to head back the other way. When I turned around to start walking, I saw a man standing there talking to a couple of fans. But this wasn’t just any man, it was a man who goes by the name of Theo Epstein. Thats right, we saw the curse breaker at the game last night.

I could see that Theo was a bit aggrevated when we asked him to get a picture with him but I knew as soon as I saw him that I would have missed out if we hadn’t gotten a picture with him

The Red Sox got the win 5-4. My dad was raised a Cubs fan so this was a cool experience for both of us to see the Red Sox and Cubs play at Fenway for a second time after also seeing it several years ago.

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