Remembering Jackie’s big brother, Olympian Mack Robinson

Mack Robinson

Mack Robinson

As this year’s Olympic Games commence in London, I couldn’t help but remember learning about an Olympic sprinter from the 1930s named Mack Robinson.

In today’s world of multi-million dollar contracts, appearance fees, and endorsements, it’s easy to forget what many world-class athletes had to endure, even at the peak of their careers, not so very long ago.  Where today’s Olympic track & field stars can become mega-celebrities like Bruce Jenner or Carl Lewis, for an African-American track star in the 1930s, there were no riches or lasting fame.

According to Matthew “Mack” Robinson, running came “naturally.” From 1936 through 1938, few people in the entire world could run faster or jump farther.  One of the greatest track and field athletes of his time, Robinson’s accomplishments have been somewhat obscured by those of Jesse Owens and Mack’s own younger brother, baseball legend Jackie Robinson. Continue reading

The impact of a champion

Shannon Quigley Runningbear

Shannon Quigley Runningbear at an event at UCSD in 2005

This Sunday the fourth annual Shannon Runningbear Beach Volleyball Tournament takes place in Long Beach. The tournament, organized and run by friends of the late educator, raises funds annually for a program at Long Beach City College that provides basic skills education and mentoring to at-risk students. Shannon created this program, named the STAR Program, and was a force of nature in ensuring its success and the success of its students.

Shannon was a close friend of mine through the years, dating all the way back to our time in college at UCSD together in the late 1980s, where she was an NCAA national champion athlete in both volleyball and track & field (a campaign honoring her is underway at UCSD to construct a new track & field scoreboard at the site of her greatest athletic achievements).

As this year’s beach volleyball tournament approaches, I went back to a piece I wrote immediately after her passing in 2009. Here it is… Continue reading