Tag Archive | sports

Enter Our Essay Contest!

chesternatscloseDEADLINE EXTENDED to Sept. 8!!! It’s the first-ever Ladies Room Sports Essay Contest! 

We thought we’d try something new and fun. After a couple months traveling (and pneumonia. Seriously. Pneumonia. In July.), our blog is back–and that could mean a $150 Visa Gift Card for you! And FREE entry!

Send your non-fiction piece, up to 500 words, about what you love (or hate) about sports, today or in your past. Taking your kids to the ballpark. Winning your first Field Day race. Losing your girlfriend to the quarterback. Or have you witnessed someone else’s sports story? How have sports, however tangentially, affected you or someone you know? Dugouts, dunks, dodgeball–we want to read it!.

Winner receives a $150 Visa Gift Card, and second place a $50 Visa Gift Card! Winners and various other selections will be published on the Ladies Room Sports blog.

Judges will consist of members of the esteemed Yale Writers’ Conference. And possibly a small dog.

Seriously though, we are looking for essays on how sports have made some impact, good or bad, on people’s lives. We also welcome more traditional sportswriting as long as they are short essays/creative non-fiction as opposed to a regular game summary. Think beyond the box score!

Send your entry (one per person, please, attachments or in email body are fine) to laura.boswell@ladiesroomsports.com. Deadline is September 8, 2015. Previously published work is OK as long as it fits the guidelines. And PS – Ladies Room editors will merely facilitate, so if you know us, it’s OK! Like the Publishers’ Clearing House says, “Go ahead, send it in!.” Please submit non-fiction only–but don’t worry, fiction writers and poets, your spot on the varsity team will open soon.

And finally, this is our first try at this, so please bear with us as we work out the kinks. Send questions to the address above and we will help asap! Enter now!

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Best Romantic Sports Movies

Oh, men. It’s hard not to pity them pretty much every day of the year.

But February 14 is especially tough for the fellas. Valentine’s Day is meant to celebrate mutual love, but we know it’s really all about the estrogen. So suddenly the pressure’s on for kiwi bouquets and “chocolate” (translation: brown. Brown?) diamonds, when we’d just love it if they shaved.

But guys need love too, so why not give him a movie night featuring a sports flick with a romantic twist for you? Here, based on my highly scientific poll of Facebook friends and my local bar, are my top 5 selections for romantic sports movies, plus a few honorable mentions.

Hoosiers_movie_poster_copyright_fairuse#5 Hoosiers (1986)
This one is more of a beautiful “bro-mance,” but I had to give a nod to the Indiana men’s hoops team for keeping their number-one spot despite losing to Illinois last week.

Gene Hackman plays Norman Dale, an abrasive coach with a checkered past, who takes over the tiny Hickman (Ind.) High School basketball team in the early 1950s. His star player has quit, and his assistant coach is the town drunk (Dennis Hopper). But slowly they win the respect and confidence of the town, whip the players into shape, and lead the team to a state title. (Coach Dale’s tape-measure demonstration of the championship court’s dimensions will inspire anyone feeling overwhelmed by a challenge.) Hopper earned an Oscar nomination for his performance.

Field_of_Dreams_poster

#4 Field of Dreams (1989)
This beloved tale of a flailing Iowa farmer (Kevin Costner) who hears voices telling him to build a ballpark in his cornfield is much more than a baseball movie. It’s a story of family, faith, and redemption as the spirits of Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta) and the other players of the 1919 Black Sox Scandal come out to play one more time. Also look for James Earl Jones as a curmudgeonly writer and Ben Affleck and Matt Damon as extras in their pre-Oscar youth. Best of all, it is a proven fact this film makes every man cry.

(For more about the gangsters and gambling that brought down the 1919 World Series, I recommend Eliot Asinof’s excellent book “8 Men Out,” also a 1988 movie starring John Cusack, David Strathairn, and even good ole Charlie Sheen—who actually had serious professional ball aspirations before acting took over his tiger blood.)

Jonathan Lipnicki, then and now.

Jonathan Lipnicki, then and now.

#3 Jerry Maguire (1996)
It had us at “hello.” A love story cloaked in the cutthroat world of pro football player management, this film follows the rise, fall, and rise again of agent Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) as he begins living according to his conscience, not his wallet. Along for the ride is quirky single mom Dorothy Boyd (Renee Zellweger) and her son Ray (Jonathan Lipnicki). But the sweetest sub-story is the fierce love between Arizona Cardinals’ receiver Rod “Show me the money!” Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.), Maguire’s one last client, and his indomitable wife Marcee (Regina King). Watch for a cameo by Eagles lead singer Glen Frey as the Cardinals’ general manager.

By the way, “Jerry Maguire” is not Cruise’s first sports movie. In “All the Right Moves” his Stefen “Stef” Djordjevic is a talented high school defensive back trying to escape a Pennsylvania mill town. Cruise met future (ex) wife Nicole Kidman on the set of NASCAR flick “Days of Thunder.” And my college volleyball teammate Dana lobbied for “Top Gun” based on the famous jeans-shorts beach volleyball scene. Positive, Ghost Rider.

Bull_Durham_movie_poster

#2 Bull Durham (1988)
That low rumble you’re hearing is every man reading this questioning why this 1988 baseball classic isn’t number one. Sure, it seems like a home run. A veteran catcher mentoring an upstart rookie pitcher for the Durham (N.C.) Bulls. A sassy groupie with a literary degree and lingerie she…shares with the team. Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, and Tim Robbins (the latter two partnering on set for a real-life, 20-year relationship). The Church of Baseball, lizard eyes, the soul, the small of a woman’s back, good scotch, and “long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days.” Kevin Costner even hit two home runs while filming. But it’s still not our number one…

Let’s pause here because I could compile a list of romantic baseball movies alone. A few more…

  • In “The Natural,” Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) returns to baseball 16 years after being shot by a beautiful stalker, then leads his 1930s baseball team to the top with his lucky bat, “Wonder Boy.” Kim Basinger and Glenn Close play his leading ladies. Also look for Robert Duvall and Darren McGavin (Ralphie’s “old man” in “A Christmas Story”).
  • In “The Rookie,” Dennis Quaid portrays real-life pitcher Jim Morris, a 35-year-old Texas high school teacher and coach who rediscovers the wicked fastball his father had dismissed as a silly dream. With support of his players and a devoted wife, he reaches the pros as the oldest rookie in 40 years. And of course patches things up with the old man.
  • And in “Major League,” aging catcher Jake Taylor (Tom Berenger) joins “Wild Thing” pitcher Rick Vaughn (Charlie Sheen) and Willie “Mays” Hayes (Wesley Snipes) to revive the cellar-dwelling Cleveland Indians and reclaim his lost love Lynn (Rene Russo). Look for now-Allstate spokesman Dennis Haysbert as very scary voodoo disciple and hitter Pedro Cerrano.    

rocky-statue-philadelphia-600#1 Rocky (1976)
Long before his Rambo bandana and machine gun, Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa only had his southpaw (left-handed) fists, a meat locker, and a dog named Butkus. A poor, kind-hearted Philadelphia debt collector and part-time fighter, Balboa falls in love with the frumpy, virginal sister Adrian (Talia Shire) of his friend Paulie (Burt Young). In the meantime, he is selected by the current heavyweight champ Apollo Creed for a U.S. Bicentennial match-up, intended to be more of a public relations stunt—until Rocky goes the full 15 rounds. He doesn’t win, but he does land his most treasured prize, the love of Adriannnnnn!, who blossoms before our eyes through the love of a truly good man. Stallone wrote the movie, which was shot in only 28 days but won three Oscars, including Best Picture.

Also, find Burt Young as Leo Poplar, a dementia patient seeking help from struggling attorney and high school wrestling coach Mike Flaherty (Paul Giamatti) in the heartwarming “Win Win.” Flaherty’s world is crumbling when Poplar’s tattooed, chain-smoking teen grandson appears on his doorstep with a mysterious past—and a hell of a talent for wrestling.

Double Feature?
Finally, if you really want to show your man you care, my guy friends strongly (strongly) recommend the following sports comedy classics:

Caddyshack: A group of country club workers take on some testy members in a golf tournament as Rodney Dangerfield cracks his groaners and dullard groundskeeper Bill Murray hunts down groundhogs. Boogers and turds also guest star.

Slap Shot: Thanks to Washington Capitals broadcaster Sky Kerstein for requesting this Paul Newman hockey picture, every fan’s favorite about a failing town’s failing team that turns to full-on violence to sell seats. (Also features Melinda Dillon, the mom from “A Christmas Story.”)

Tin Cup: Among others, my buddy and sports guru Bob Somerville voted for this golf love story as a top-5. But since Kevin Costner has already claimed two spots, we’ll tee him up here. Roy “Tin Cup” McAvoy is a former star now drinking and lazing around his Texas driving range. But when Dr. Molly Griswold (Rene Russo) and her pro-golfer boyfriend David (Don Johnson) come along, McAvoy finds renewed purpose for his game and his lovelife. Also features cameos by real-life PGA players.  

missiDodgeball: A True Underdog Story: OK, this one’s mine, but I love it. Thin Vince Vaughn. Ben Stiller as a hypercompetitive owner of a mega-gym. A beautiful attorney with a mean arm (Stiller’s real-life spouse Christine Taylor). And a national dodgeball competition where they all lay everything on the line. Also features my high school pal Missi Pyle as menacing, unibrowed “Purple Cobra” Fran Stalinovskovichdavidovitchsky.

Sports are about more than winning. They are about character. Determination. Forgivenes. And love, which is what makes these movies (and many others I’ve left off) so enduring. We all want the trophy, but love is the real triumph, and I hope you find it this week.

Or at least some of these movies on Netflix.

Super-rority: Game Day Recipes from my Homegals

“Delta Delta Delta, can I help ya help ya help ya?”

OK, I wasn’t a Tri-Delt, but how about “Kappa Kappa Gamma, can I lend a recipe-hand-a?”

pillsbury snackadium

Really, Pillsbury? Really?

Meh? Well, whether you pledge Greek, American, Asian or otherwise, the second-best part of game day is the food. And who better to ask for party recipes than your girlfriends, like my rockin’ Centre College sorority sisters or my DC digital divas? Here are some great, casual Super Bowl dishes from some lovely ladies for you to serve or bring along to the party.

First, an easy onion dip from Leslie, Kappa dorm-mate, proud West-By-God-Virginia farm gal (who introduced us to the vast healing properties of Bag Balm), and host of far too many late night Paul Simon sob sessions (mostly me):

Equal parts: 1 cup diced yellow onion; 1 cup grated Swiss cheese; 1 cup real mayo. Sprinkle with paprika, bake at 350 until warm and bubbly. Delish!

Next, from Eve (@naive), designer extraordinaire and yearly host of DC’s best Super Bowl chili cookoff, Eve’s Sweet & Smoky Turkey Chili (full recipe below—takes a little concentration, but well worth it): It’s a recipe of taste/feel in terms of seasoning, so you should adjust as you like. The cinnamon and chocolate are what make it really unique, so you may want to be light on those until you get the taste you want.

From Dana, dear Centre friend, mentor, and amazing mom, a Super Bowl approach you might not normally think of: fondue: It’s spicy and cheesy. Just grab a jar of Alfredo sauce and a block of pepperjack cheese. Warm to melt the mixture, then serve in small crock pot, and dip in veggies or cubes of bread. Yum!

Kat, classmate, BFF, Louisville lover of dogs and decorated writer with an operatic voice offers her Smoked Salmon Spread (#2 below)

And of course, the twins: Lani and LeeSa, Centre volleyball’s Towers of Power, my Kappa “big sisters,” and “girls gone wild” when “wild” meant “party til 2a.m., then study your butt off til dawn for your double majors that land you both top jobs on Capitol Hill.” See Lani’s “Jalapeño Popper Spread” and LeeSa’s “Buffalo Chicken Calzones” (#’s 3-4 below). (Also check out Lani’s beautiful jewelry offerings from Stella and Dot!)

I don’t know The Food Network’s Robin Miller, but her No-Fuss Guacamole is easy, and because it can be made in a sealable plastic bag, your kids can help with the squishing, and there are no dishes to clean! (Hang on through the 15-second ad first. Man, I hate those.)

Finally, two vegetarian options from yours truly. First, Trader Joe’s Sausageless Italian Sausages—I swear you can’t tell they are made of vegetables (Thank you “The Fabulous Mizz Rhonda” for introducing me to them.)

I’m also a big fan of Asian lettuce wraps—you can use regular chicken chunks or veggie (I like the Quorn brand myself). Marinate in mandarin sauce, then spoon into bibb lettuce leaves with diced cucumber, carrots, sesame or chia seeds, sliced almonds and Chinese crunchy noodles.

Happy snacking!

Eve’s Sweet and Smoky Turkey Chili
(serves 10-12)

1 pound ground turkey (not breast)
5-7 links sweet Italian turkey sausage
1 package diced pancetta (approx. 8 ounces)
(2) 28-ounce cans of fire-roasted crushed tomato
(1) 8-ounce can plain tomato sauce (I like Hunt’s)
(4) 16-ounce cans black beans
(2) 16-ounce cans dark red kidney beans
1 beer (or more if you are pre-partying)
(2) bay leaves
(2-3) cloves minced garlic

Also, for taste: olive oil; chicken stock; chipotle or regular chili powder; chipotle tabasco sauce; cumin; cinnamon; cayenne (IF you like it spicier); brown sugar; Hershey’s Natural unsweetened cocoa powder; aged balsamic vinegar

1. In a skillet on medium/high heat, brown the turkey. Add chipotle chili powder, tabasco, cumin, cinnamon to taste. If you like it a little spicy, add just a dash of the cayenne, no more.

turkey chili

A smoky, lightly chocolate-y chili everyone will will love.

2. Add a small amount of the beer to deglaze the pan and add 2 tablespoons of the cocoa powder and a splash of the balsamic vinegar3. Stir/cook until the meat is coated. Put meat aside.

4. Repeat steps 1-3 with the sausage (cut open the links and break up the sausage in the pan).

5. In a 5-quart dutch oven, on medium heat, add two turns of olive oil, the pancetta and garlic. Cook until the pancetta is crispy but not burnt (keep an eye on your garlic, too). Reduce the heat to low.

6. Add the crushed tomato, beans, 1/2 of the can of tomato sauce (reserve some if you want to make the chili more soupy later) and the cooked turkey and sausage.

7. Stir well so that everything is mixed together.

8. Add two bay leaves, 1/2 cup of chicken stock, 1/2 cup of the beer, and season well with the chipotle chili powder, tabasco sauce, cumin and cinnamon to taste.

9. Add 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 1/4 cup of Hershey’s powder and 1 tablespoon of the balsamic vinegar.

10. Cook on LOW for at least 3 hours (best if 5-6), stirring every 20-25 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning at that point. You may want to add more sauce if the chili has become thicker than you’d like.

11. Remove the bay leaves and serve!

Kat’s Super Smoked Salmon Spread
(2) 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
12 ounces smoked salmon, chopped
3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbs. horseradish
Juice from half a lemon (fresh squeezed only)
1 tsp. chopped fresh dill
3 Tbs. chopped red onion
2 Tbs. capers

Using a medium bowl, stir cream cheese until sfot. Fold in the salmon, Worcestershire, lemon, horseradish, dill, and onion. Mix well. Serve with a sturdy cracker like pita or bagel chips.

Lani’s Jalapeño Popper Spread
(2) 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened (you can use light but not fat-free)
1 cup mayo (light)
(1) 4-ounce can chopped green chilis
2-4 Tbs. pickled jalapeños, chopped
3/4 cup grated parmesan
3/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
Stir together cream cheese and mayo until smooth (use blender or processor). Add chilis and peppers. Put this mixture into a greased 8-9 inch dish (pie plate works). Sprinkle the mixture of parmesan and breadcrumbs on top of cheese mixture. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Serve with crackers, toasted French bread, or Frito Scoops.

LeeSa’s Buffalo Chicken Calzones
**Chicken requires overnight marinating, so allow this in your plans or just buy precooked buffalo chicken.**

1 can pizza dough
2 cups cubed chicken breast
2 cups buffalo wing sauce
1/4 cup chunky blue cheese dressing
1/4 cup diced celery (this is optional but yummy)
1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
1 cup mild cheddar cheese, shredded

1 Day Before: Pour cubed chicken into a bowl or food safe storage container. Top off with 3 Tbs. buffalo sauce. Stir to coat. Cover and store in the fridge to marinate overnight.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Heat a large skillet over medium to medium high heat. Cook chicken and additional 2 Tbs. buffalo sauce. Stir well, cooking chicken for 5-10 minutes or until fully cooked. Transfer to a clean bowl. Add an additional 1/4 cup buffalo sauce to chicken. Stir to coat. Set aside.

Prepare a baking sheet with silpat, parchment, olive oil or cornmeal. Stretch dough into a large circle or rectangle. Coat one half of the dough with chunky blue cheese dressing – almost to the edge but not quiet. Top off with cooked buffalo chicken and celery. Sprinkle with a mixture of both cheeses – roughly a handful will do. Fold over the dough. Roll and pinch the edges to seal. Sprinkle with a touch more cheese.

Bake for 12-15 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes, then cut with a serrated knife into as many slices as desired.

January Juggling

Welcome to The Ladies Room! I’m your humble janitor, Laura Boswell — sportswriter, broadcaster, college hall-of-famer, and passionate fan of all things athletic. (@lauraeboswell)

Each Monday, I’ll give a quick rundown of the last week’s best sports stories and why they are useful for anyone, but especially women — to use at the water cooler, to bond with your kids, and to have more fun with your spouse/partner. And all in the time it takes to toast a Pop-Tart.

Well, except this first installment, because I need to explain a few things:

Despite the title, the intent is good fun, not to condescend to women. Really. I am one. Many women love sports (44% of NFL fans are female*). Many men do not. But…

This is not a “women’s sports” column. It’s an agnostic look at some of the week’s best and worst stories, period. It may be a running back. It may be a badass basketball babe. Or a badminton player. Or a running back texting a picture of his junk to that badminton player. From the Seahawks to Seabiscuit, everyone will get a turn.

It’s also about sports’ practical applications: Using a recent baseball stat to ease an awkward elevator ride with the boss. Explaining why your son wants those $200 Nikes. Demonstrating algebra to your sixth-grader using hockey. Kicking butt in your fantasy football league (maybe even winning cash, if I gambled, which I do not. Especially on NCAA men’s basketball tourney brackets. Nope, not me.)

I also hope to add tips from athletes, explanations of basic rules and signals, inspirational stories, and the fun stuff — dating gossip, tailgating recipes, science project ideas—whatever you want, just ask.

Basically, this blog is for anyone who wants a quick round-up of key stories, a good laugh, and to use sports to boost confidence in job interviews or at cookouts, and — most important — just to better enjoy games. Sports have led me to success at work, to meeting great people, to staying healthy. You deserve the same.

And on a larger scale, sports cross every American industry — entertainment, politics, fashion, education, religion…They are a social currency you should know. I live in Washington, DC. I hate politics. But I’m an American and I need to know the issues. And sports are waaay more fun than the fiscal cliff.

So. Want respect from the boys’ club? Learn sports. Need conversation? More friends? A date? Learn sports. Want your kids to be healthy, active leaders? Teach them sports.

That said, I’m already behind — partially from fighting a two-week mutant death flu, but also because in the last two weeks alone, storylines that would be considered fantastic any time have coincided with others almost too stunning to believe. So let’s catch up:

Band of Brothers: The media has been salivating for it, and so have I. For the first time, two brothers will coach against one another in the Super Bowl. Jim Harbaugh (San Francisco) and John Harbaugh (Baltimore) will lead 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and Ravens’ veteran linebacker Ray Lewis in New Orleans Feb. 3. Lewis, a beloved but controversial 13-time Pro Bowl selection, will retire after this season at age 37.

A Bicycle Built for BOOO!: After years of brazen denial (he called one accuser a “whore”), cyclist Lance Armstrong finally admitted to Oprah (and NOBODY lies to Oprah) that he did indeed use “PEDs”—performance-enhancing drugs—winning a record seven Tours de France. The admission raises many moral questions: Does having cancer allow one special privileges to remain competitive? Are PEDs OK if others are allegedly using them too? One certainty: Lance is banned from Olympic sports, and his credibility “lives strong” no longer.

Class Dismissed: PEDs also made history in baseball this month–no player was elected to the 2013 Baseball Hall of Fame. Behemoths Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa (hitters) and Roger Clemens (pitcher) were all blackballed, likely due to their suspected use of steroids. Steroids have become so pervasive, players have testified about it (and confessed) before Congress. Boys younger and younger are using steroids to get a jump on the competitive, and potentially lucrative, college/pro sports industry. Could yours be one of them?

Move Over Honey Boo Boo: In other baseball cheating news, Cincinnati Reds star Pete Rose has long been banned from baseball, despite a still-unmatched 23-year career, for admitted gambling on his own team. Now he and fiancée Kiana Kim have their own The Learning Channel (of course) reality show, “Hits and Mrs.” (My bet? Terrible. So it will be a huge hit.)

Venus Outshone: Superstar Venus Williams lost to Maria Sharapova Friday at the Australian Open, the first of the four tennis Grand Slam events (also French Open/ Wimbledon/U.S. Open). But as of this writing, sister Serena is the predicted tourney winner. Also in women’s tennis, Gertrude “Gussie” Moran, who dared to bare at Wimbledon 1949 with a short skirt and ruffled briefs, has died at age 89. (She lost the match but became a media darling, “Gorgeous Gussie.”)

Ice, Ice Baby: After a months-long “lockout”—a money dispute between players and owners—professional hockey is officially back on. Stanley Cup winners the L.A. Kings, however, lost their first game 5-2 to the Blackhawks. Now, a quick quiz for the kids. Q: Hockey normally has 82 games; this season, 48. What percentage of the season did the lockout cost fans? A: 41% (divide 48 by 82, then subtract from 100%)

Hoax and Heartbreak: In an ongoing mystery, adored Notre Dame linebacker and Heisman Trophy finalist Manti Te’o has been called both victim and conspirator in a bizarre online prank. He met girlfriend Lennay Kekua on Facebook, but she allegedly died of leukemia this fall. Now it’s been revealed she never existed, and 22-year-old Ronaiah Tuiasosopo was behind the scam. Tuiasosopo has confessed, but larger issues include Te’o’s draft status, his possible use of the situation to garner sympathy, and other “catfishing” scams aimed to fool celebrities into befriending false personas.

In Other News: Skier Lindsey Vonn has recovered from a severe bacterial illness to win her first World Cup event in five weeks…Revered Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver died at 82 on a baseball-themed cruise… The top-ranked Louisville men’s basketball team fell to #6 Syracuse 70-68… #13 Butler upset #8 Gonzaga on a buzzer beater. (added 1/21): Hall-of-Fame Cardinals hitter Stan “The Man” Musial passed away Saturday at age 92 (thanks for the heads-up, Bob Somerville!)

OK there we go. I know we’ve missed some stories, and I’ve botched some grammar, I know, I know, I know. It’s a work in progress, I hope you’ll hang with me. Til next week…

*ESPN Sports Poll/U.S. Census