Leland Stein III

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Coach English: Love conquers all. Pamela gives the gift of life to her husband, a kidney.

In sports column, Uncategorized on September 29, 2011 at 7:18 pm

Coach English: Love conquers all

 Pamela gives the gift of life to her husband, a kidney.

 By Leland Stein III

 Life is strange. For most people they sleep, wake up and eat and sleep and wake up and eat. It is a gift that too many take for granted. As long as things are moving along most of us never think about how and why that happens.

 For one family, Donshell and Pamela English, they have come face-to-face with the reality of the everyday function of the body. Not that every organ in the body is not important; however, the English family has had to come to a hallelujah meeting with their kidneys.

 The kidneys play a vital role in our health. As the renal organs, kidneys job is like a chemist which is to constantly monitor the quality of the blood. Its main job is to ensure that the blood circulating around our body is pure and are free from harmful organisms like bacteria, viruses, waste products, excess water and many more.

 The bean-shaped organs that act like the waste disposal of the body, became the focal point in the lives of Donshell and Pamela. They are both teachers and have been married for 18 years, and, have two children Kaylen and Kendall.

 Donshell was an exceptional athlete at Cass Technical High School graduating in 1986. He attended Eastern Michigan University, where he was instrumental in helping the team win the MAC Conference Championship and the California Bowl in 1987. He played defensive end and served as team captain.

 Strong and athletic, Donshell appeared to have everything a person could want sitting right in front of him. Taking over the Southeastern football program in 2002, in two years he took the Jungleers to its first Public School League (PSL) Division IV Championship, and was runners-up for the City Championship.

Donshell and Pamela English

It did not stop there as he guided Southeastern to a two year record of 22-3 (2008 and 2009). English and the Jungleers won a city title in 2008 and took all on an unforgettable ride to the state semifinals and played in one of the most memorable and talked about games in PSL history – a close loss to Sterling Heights Stevenson.

 At the peak of his success life and his kidneys took control forcing him to resign from the game he loves to focus on getting his health in order.

“Fourteen or fifteen years ago I was told my numbers were not right,” Donshell recalled. “I did everything the doctors told me to do as far as medicine and other stuff. It all worked out okay until 2007 when I started feeling bad and having pain. Eventually they diagnosed me with diverticulitis. I had to have surgery where they removed part of my colon and I had to wear a colostomy bag for a year. Man my life changed unbelievably.”

 Through coaching, teaching, and the kids, he managed to find a deterrent that helped him not dwell of focus too much on the health issues that took over his life.

 “Being a coach in the inner city is a full time job,” he explained. “There is so much more than just coaching needed if you want to do the job right. I had to make sure they were going to class, I had to clothe some of them, feed some of them and be a father or big brother when needed. Football became a safe haven for many of my kids.”

Donshell was one of the PSL’s best coaches and mentors, plus coaching was also a safe haven for him until January of ’09. Not feeling too good for a while he finally went to the doctor and his test results showed creatinine level had climbed to 15. The next morning he had his first kidney dialysis and stayed on a schedule of dialysis three times a week until this past June.

 “We were at a meeting and the question came up about a donor kidney, so I raised my hand and said I’d try,” Pamela recalled. “After some test I found we were a match and it was a no-brainer from there. It was life and death and the quality of life possible for my husband and the father of my kids.

 “We never had any doubt that my kidney would take, because we have a strong faith in God. After the surgery recovery went good for both of us. We have had great support from our church and family. We are trying to live life to the fullest. We are happy!”

 Said Donshell: “Everything is working fantastic. It is a true blessings I’m done with dialysis! I hope to be back coaching next year.”

 Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com or Twitter @LelandSteinIII

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Curt Flood HBO special off base

In sports column, Uncategorized on August 15, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Curt Flood documentary off base

By Leland Stein III

HBO has produced some memorable sports documentaries in recent years, like Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson, the integration of black football players at Southern universities, Jerry Tarkanian’s Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV, Ali versus Frazier I: One Nation Divisible, Do You Believe In Miracles? The Story of the 1980 U.S. Hockey Team and Nine Innings From Ground Zero just to mention a few of my favorite.

HBO Sports recently released “The Curious Case of Curt Flood.” He challenged Major League Baseball when its owners had a plantation mentality where teams owned players forever. Only the owners could they trade, discard and set salaries.

Then in October 1969 Flood was traded from the Cardinals to the Phillies and he said no I will not go. What he actually told reporters was, “In the history of man, there’s no other profession except slavery where one man is tied to one owner for the rest of his life.”

I agree, it all went again America’s preaching about freedom, a right to choose, capitalism and fairness.

People reacted to the slavery comparison like he’d set fire to their shoelaces. “Slavery?” many exclaimed. “Heck he is getting paid $90,000 to play a game!” Flood interjected, “A well-paid slave is still a slave,” thus he started down the horrendous and dreadful path of suing MLB, striving to get the reserve clause declared illegal.

With that as the backdrop, I was eager to catch the HBO documentary, but the title kind of knocked me back, “The Curious Case of Curt Flood.” What did that mean? Was it curious like bizarre or like weird or strange?

Flood fitted into my sphere as a noteworthy, courageous and socially conscious athlete. Like Jim Brown, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Carl Lewis, Muhammad Ali, Spencer Haywood, John Carlos and Tommie Smith. All men that were not afraid to stand on what they believed were necessary and worthy issues that confronted them beyond the playing fields. 

The film reminded me that Flood’s stand was remarkable considering the climate. As pitcher Bob Gibson, Flood’s Hall of Fame team and roommate and fellow black athlete honestly said in the documentary: “Was I behind Curt? Absolutely. But I was about 10 steps back just in case there was some fallout.”

Flood was an exception outfielder and hitter, who helped the Cardinals win a World Series title, but he saw his career essentially ended in 1969 when at age 31 he challenged the reserve clause that made MLB players the property of the owners of the teams with which they signed. Sounds extreme, it was.

MLB athletes had it only a little better than track and field athletes, who could not get a dime for their superior efforts. That’s why legends like Jesse Owens was relegated to race horses after his record setting four gold medal effort in Germany in front of an enraged Hitler.

Instead of focusing the narrative on a young Flood’ unprecedented challenge to the so-called American Pastime’s unfair labor system and his appearing at a civil-rights rally in the deep South, at a time when black athletes ducked controversy the way they ducked the Klu Klux Klan, HBO spent a lot of the documentary focusing on all that was wrong with Flood.

As one reporter noted: “This courageous athlete is depicted as an alcoholic, a womanizer, a woeful husband, a dreadful father, a lousy businessman, and, oh yes, he was a chain smoker who died of throat cancer. In the history of warts-and-all biographies, this one slithers near the top of the list.” 

Flood lost the Supreme Court ruling 5-3 as MLB kept its antitrust exemption. His life unraveled as he fled to Denmark, then Spain. Instead of focusing more of the isolation he felt that and the loss of his livelihood, the documentary went for the jugular and his flaws. The man that ushered in arbitration, free agent, and salary cap deserved better. LeBron James and Alex Rodriguez all owe their monetary wind falls to Flood.

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com and Twitter @LelandSteinIII