Wednesday, November 30, 2016

It's amazing how connected we are via Social Media.

I was talking to a friend whose 17-year-old son, a high school senior, is being recruited to play college football. Although he has been invited to visit several NCAA Division I schools, none have offered him a scholarship ... yet.

A Division II university, did offer him a scholarship. The father's response? I hope you already sent out a tweet about it. The goal of the tweet wasn't just to share the good news with the senior's friends, family and followers, but to let those other schools know there is potential confidential for the young man's athletic skills.

I had to chuckle at this whole premise. Back in the day, when I was being recruited to play collegiate volleyball and basketball, I received letters in the mail and phone calls from coaches. I still remember the time I was on the phone with a coach, and call waiting chimed in. I asked to be excused to take the other call, thinking it was my sister (this was pre-caller ID and cell phones). It was another coach calling to recruit me, who didn't appreciate it when I asked to be called back because I was on another call with a coach. I guess the oops on my part was admitting who was on the other line!

Today, there may still be snail mail contact letters, but email, Twitter, recruiting websites, and all of the video options available today certainly make the process I went through seem antiquated.

Who won my recruiting war? I played a year of volleyball at Northwest Missouri State University. I loved my teammates, but the coaching wasn't up to par. It's definitely a situation of "I wish I knew then what I know now." But NWMSU had one of the best Division II journalism programs in the country (and still does!), so I stayed for the academics.

That's the other piece of advice I've given my friend's son - you're probably not going to play football beyond your college years (despite my sister hoping to ride his "gravy train for years) - so be sure that you choose your college for the academic program you want to pursue as much as for the football program.

So next time you see a tweet that an athlete has been offered a scholarship, there's probably more to the message than what you would think.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

It's a busy time of year for the National Federation of Press Women - membership renewals will begin and the online Communications Contest will soon kick off. Stay tuned for more information!

But before we go there, this is my pitch/reminder/plea for everyone to go vote on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

I must admit that one area I don't miss about no longer working in the newspaper industry is the length of elections. As an Iowa resident, I can attest to the fact that elections last too long. Have Hillary and The Donald been at it for two years or three? OK, we've been down to those two major party candidates for only several months now, but before that, we had a plethora of potential presidents parading through our state.

In addition, there are always local and state races that deserve our attention. The election can't all be about the race for the White House.

Like me, you are probably ready for the election to be over and for America to move on, whether we have our first woman president or first millionaire reality TV competition show host as president. Either way, it's our duty and honor to vote. In the immortal words of Nike, Just Do It!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Every once in a while, something on Social Media will drive me crazy.

Case in point: while scanning my Twitter timeline, I noticed @SherryPollex was having to defend her tweets and social media promotions.

What has been Pollex's main focus the past two years? Fighting ovarian cancer for two years after her diagnosis at age 35.

I started following Pollex's fight because I was a fan of her boyfriend, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver .

They have fought ups and downs on and off the track, and have been an inspiration to almost everyone. I say almost everyone because a mean-spirited Twitter user accused Sherry of self-promotion.

What that person must not have been aware of is that Pollex and Truex have been longtime supporters of the fight against childhood cancers, which is the core of the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation, @MTJFoundation.

Pollex became even more of an inspiration to me after we thought my sister Julie had ovarian cancer. It was diagnosed a few days later as colon cancer that had spread to the ovaries. We were happy because colon cancer seemed far less scary (code for more survivable) than ovarian.

Then, just a few months ago, our only "girl" cousin in the Hoffman family, Becky, was diagnosed with stage 2 ovarian cancer. Like Pollex, she shaved her hair off before it inevitably would fall out.

Pollex recently revealed a short hairdo as her hair has begun growing back. I'm looking forward to seeing Becky with her hair back, too.

Thanks for being an inspiration by sharing your story on Twitter and Social Media. Don't let the haters ever stop you!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Have you been following the controversy of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick?

If you're not familiar with the situation, I am surprised. If you watch TV, cruise the Internet or delve into Social Media, you've been inundated with the story.

I just have to ask: where do you draw the line on freedom of speech and expression? This guy decided he would protest racial inequalities and issues by not standing during the National Anthem of one of the 49ers' preseason NFL games. He was resoundingly trounced throughout all of the aforementioned mediums.

Just two weeks ago, U.S. Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas raised ire by not placing her hand over her heart during the playing of the National Anthem during the gold medal ceremony for the U.S. team. She was also chastised for her lack of patriotism.

I ask again, where do we draw the line of how to properly express or protest something within our rights? I don't have the answer. I'm not sure anyone does.

But I do have this challenge for Kaepernick: aren't there better forums to protest the racial issues you are trying to bring into the spotlight? Could you have done something different, something that wouldn't offend those who have served their country? They paved the way for you to have the freedom to be a professional football player in a country where you can express your opinions.

As my millennial friends would put it: "Just sayin'."

Monday, August 1, 2016

I had a wonderful time celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Colorado Press Women last week. President Sandy Nance was my fabulous host.

The CPW organizers had the perfect program - remembering the history and memorable moments throughout the years - and learning more about the women who founded the group.

Please enjoy these photos from Tuesday, July 26 - the actual 75th anniversary. Congratulations to CPW, and here's to 75 more!

Happy Birthday to Colorado Press Women!

The pitch from NFPW to Colorado.

The meaning of a word can certainly change over time!

CPW COA Carol Anderson (left) listens to COA Director Sandy Graham during the COA award presentation.

President Sandy Nance holds the proclamation.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Are you like me - frustrated by what is happening in our country and our world?

I will pray for Nice, Dallas, Orlando and every other place that needs it. I also pray for peace, for our country and our world.

As long as someone out there doesn't believe that #AllLivesMatter, we will have discord and violence, whether it be racially, religiously or politically motivated.

Do you remember the immortal words of Rodney King, way back in 1991? "Why can't we all get along?" He was referring to racial riots after he was beaten by Los Angeles police officers. It's amazing when you realize that happened 25 years ago.

What is incredibly sad about that is similar incidents are still happening today. For better or for worse, we may be hearing more about these issues because of Social Media. For better, we have new worldwide forums for discussion and free speech. For worse, we have those who use these platforms to spread discord and inflame others.

In 25 more years, who knows where we will be in America and across the globe - in a state of peace or in a state of chaos? Only time will tell. Until then, if you're like me, just keep praying.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

My, how times have changed. I checked Twitter this morning, as I often do in the morning, to see what's trending.

In Britain, they weren't worrying about #Brexit. Instead, Brits were bemoaning their men's soccer team loss to Iceland (yes, Iceland) in the Euro tournament.

But what caught my attention more was the outpouring of thoughts and support for Pat Summitt and her family.

Summitt coached Tennessee women's basketball for what seemed like forever as she was only 22 when she was hired for the job. Her accomplishments in the sport are almost without comparison.

But she was forced to step down several years ago when she was diagnosed with early onset dementia - Alzheimer's type. She passed away overnight at age 64.

My mother, Loverta, was about Pat's age when she began showing symptoms of the same disease. In fact, my sister Julie and I can confirm first realizing the severity of the illness when mom attended the 2005 NFPW Conference in Seattle with us.

Of all things, I had scraped my leg on the rope playing sand volleyball and the scrape had become infected. I don't know how many times I told mom that it was a scrape from volleyball, but she kept insisting it was poison ivy. This happened repeatedly during the trip.

Before we left for Seattle, mom had loaded one of those weekly pill containers to take on the trip. Fortunately we noticed it had disappeared and packed another one before leaving for the airport. To this day, that set of pills has never been found. We don't know where mom put it; we had even checked the trash cans throughout the house.

My mom passed away in 2012 at 74 - far too young - and the same is true of Summitt, a great lady and a great coach.