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More than Just a Basketball Star, Bill Russell Helped Change America

by Makya Rodriguez, age 17

Bill Russell was a huge representation of the Black community, a good friend of Martin Luther King Jr., and a great leader in basketball. Russell was able to show respect for the sport in and out of the court. At a young age, he was able to outshine others in basketball.

Bill Russell was tall, fast, and smart. He played basketball in high school, and college and even led his team in the Olympics of 1956, right before he joined the NBA to play with the Boston Celtics. Bill Russell attended and played at the University of San Francisco during his time there. He didn't stand out at first until his senior year when scouts were looking to draft him. Before that, Bill Russell had one initial goal in mind: to play for the U.S. Olympics in basketball. Russell played in the summer of 1956 in Australia for the U.S team, going 8-0 winning the Gold Medal.

To many, Russel stood out mostly due to his unique playing style. Russell played a central position in the sport. He was not as big and strong as other centers, but his success came from his teamwork, rebounding, and other skills. He also learned to have a different defensive play style than other centers. Instead of focusing on defending the other team's centers, he would utilize his speed advantage and height to defend the other team's forwards and block their shots. [Read More]

WNBA Basketball Might be Coming to Milwaukee

by Owen Ayite-Atayi, age 15

LeRoy Butler is a former Green Bay Packers player and is very well known in Wisconsin. Butler played for the Packers for 12 years and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a phenomenal player and helped the Packers win the Super Bowl in 1996.

After Butler finished his football career, he wanted to make a leading effort to try to establish a Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) team in Wisconsin. The WNBA currently has 12 teams and is looking to add on more as seasons continue. The league was established on April 14, 1996, by David Stern, the commissioner of the National Basketball Association (NBA). According to The Athletic, Milwaukee is one of many cities that is in consideration to add to the WNBA.

A group that is controlled by Butler is trying to raise 100 million to prove to the WNBA that Milwaukee is dedicated to starting a new and healthy WNBA franchise. [Read More]

Greatest Game in Football History? The 1967 Ice Bowl!

by Jacob Dunn, age 12

The “Ice Bowl” was a Green Bay Packers football game that forever left its imprint on NFL history. It is also one of the most important sporting events in Wisconsin history.

On Sunday, December 31, 1967 the Packers and Dallas Cowboys were set to play in the league championship game for the second year in a row. However, cold weather conditions came out of nowhere overnight. Temperatures fell quickly and by game time it was -16 degrees with cold and brutal winds.

The Saturday before the game, two television networks came to broadcast the game to national audiences. The city of Green Bay was packed with people who labeled the city “Titletown USA” because the Packers had won the previous two titles. Now they were looking for their third straight championship. [Read More]

How the Milwaukee Bucks Won Their First Championship

by Owen Ayite-Atayi, age 14

The National Basketball Association, informally known as the NBA, has featured lots of fascinating teams and players over the years. Most people know about the Milwaukee Bucks because they won the championship in 2021. But many of the team’s current fans are not familiar with the team’s rich basketball history.

The Milwaukee Bucks started as an expansion franchise in 1968. Like most first-year teams, they were not very good. Then, in 1969, the team drafted a player named Kareem Abdul Jabbar. [Read More]

From Seattle Pilots to Milwaukee Brewers

by Julian Medina, age 14

Where did the present-day Milwaukee Brewers originate? The Milwaukee Brewers baseball team, formerly known as the Seattle Pilots, was established in Seattle, Washington, in the 1960s.

In 1969, the team was accepted into the American League Western division; however, their first season was unsuccessful. With only 64 wins and 98 losses, the team placed last. Despite having 677,944 fans who attended games over the season, the team still faced myriad problems such as a poor quality stadium, low attendance, and poor weather conditions. As the upcoming season was approaching, the Seattle Pilots’ owner could no longer pay the team. [Read More]

The Last Championship of the Homestead Grays

by Jules Da Costa, age 14

The Homestead Grays were one of the most popular and triumphant teams in the Negro League Baseball. It cultivated the best and most well-known Black baseball players, such as Josh Gibson and Buck Leonard.

The Homestead Grays formed in 1912 in a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with many steel manufacturers. They started as a little-known team and lasted less than 50 years but left a huge legacy on the history of Negro League Baseball. They went into business after Major League Baseball (MLB) quit signing Black players. The Homestead Grays played in the Negro Leagues for 38 seasons until 1948. Homestead Grays players Buck Leonard and Josh Gibson were both inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame even though neither had played in the MLB.

Many people were drawn in to see this team play. In 1948, which was their final season under a league, they defeated the Baltimore Elite Giant in the Championship Series to win their ninth league pennant. In the 1948 Negro League World Series they beat the Birmingham Black Barons to win their third World Series title. [Read More]

Innovative Coach “Air Coryell” Changed the Way Football Is Played in the Modern NFL

by Giovanni Tecuatl Lopez, age 17

When you think of the greatest football coaches of all time, Donald David Coryell might not make your list. However, as former coach of the St. Louis Cardinals and San Diego Chargers, his legendary “Air Coryell” offense has made its way into every team's playbook. Donald David Coryell’s wide range of offensive plays greatly influenced the sport and changed how the modern NFL stands today.

Coryell first started gaining recognition during his time at San Diego State University (SDSU) from 1961-72. Here, he led the Aztecs to a 104-12-2 record using a then-rare pass-heavy offense. The Aztecs had three undefeated seasons, making them well-known and placing them into Division I. Working alongside Coryell were famous individuals like John Madden and Joe Gibbs, who served as assistants at SDSU.

Coryell developed his unique style while studying the philosophies of head football coach Dutch Meyer who developed Spread Formation Football, a technique where the defenders are spread horizontally. In addition, Coryell analyzed Sid Gillman, head coach of the Rams and Chargers, who innovated the downfield vertical attack. With this information, Coryell was bold enough to transition his efficient I-formation, a formation that leaves a balance between passing and running plays, into a new playing style, changing the way of the game for his future career. [Read More]

Participation in Girl's High School Basketball Declines

by Owen Ayite-Atayi, age 15

Enthusiasm for girls' high school basketball peaked two decades ago. Almost all seats were filled with families and students. All the girls’ basketball teams had full freshman, junior varsity and varsity players.

Now, participation in girls basketball has dropped to 19 percent while girls’ track and field has increased by 10 percent. Soccer and volleyball are also sports that have increased in girl’s participation. Overall, participation for both boys and girls high school sports have decreased by four percent. The majority of female athletes are focusing on an individual sport nearly year-round like cross country. Many girls see basketball as a difficult and not “cute” sport to play, coaches say. Natalia Bryant, the daughter of Kobe Bryant, told Teen Vogue that she preferred volleyball over basketball because she does not like to run.

Erica Delley, a first-year head coach at Dallas’s Kimball High School says, “Its sad. That's why I came back, to make a difference and try to encourage kids to play.” Not only has participation decreased in girls basketball at Dallas Kimball High School, but other schools are experiencing the same issue, such as Nebraska. [Read More]

Lessons From a Soccer Superstar

by Shalmat Shalom, age 14

Ronaldinho is known as one of the greatest fútbol or soccer players of all time.

Growing up in Brazil, Ronaldinho was always surrounded with soccer players: his father, brother, and uncles all played the game. Like all professional players, he had both achievements and challenges.

Ronaldinho’s father was Joao Moreira, a welder in a shipyard who had previously been a professional soccer player. His mother Minguelina de Assis, worked as a cosmetic saleswoman and later became a nurse. Ronaldinho looked up to his father who sadly suffered a fatal heart attack when Ronaldinho was only eight years old. [Read More]

The Greatness of Hank Aaron

by Owen Ayite-Atayi, age 14

Hank Louis Aaron was one of the greatest African-American Major League Baseball (MLB) players. Hank was known for breaking Babe Ruth’s Hall Of Fame and Most Valuable Player (MVP) home run record. He hit 755 career home runs, to Ruth who racked up 714 hits for the Boston Red Sox.

Hank Aaron was a phenomenal MLB player, who went on with his MLB career to have 2,297 runs batted and 3,000 hits. In the 1970 season, Hank became the first player to hit 500 home runs and top it off with 3,000 hits in a single career. He won 3 Golden Glove awards for his outstanding out-fielding. In Hank’s 1957 season, he led the Milwaukee Braves to a World Series and took the victory in a thrilling game against the New York Yankees. Hank won the MLB’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in 1957 and was an outstanding player for the following seasons.

After Hank’s Milwaukee Braves' 1965 MLB season, he switched teams to play for the Atlanta Braves located in Atlanta, Georgia. Hank was having an outstanding season as usual, but once he relocated, many people began to hate Hank because he broke so many all-time records in the MLB. Racist people began to threaten Hank with harmful letters. Hank overcame all the hate and pressure and broke a record to end off his season by hitting 755 home runs. [Read More]

The Life and Career of the Great Bill Russell

by Owen Ayite-Atayi, age 15

Bill Russell was the pillar of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played for the Boston Celtics. Russell was not just a once-in-a-lifetime player, he was also an activist who spoke about racial injustice.

Bill Felton Russell was born February 12, 1934, in West Monroe, Louisiana. During this time, segregation was a strict law in the southern states. Growing up, he faced racism and Jim Crow laws. In 1942 when Russell was eight years old, he and his family moved to Oakland, California.

Coming out of high school, Bill was a 6’9” center who continued to pursue his career on the University of San Francisco basketball team, San Francisco Dons. During Russell’s university career he averaged 20.7 PPG (points per game) and 20.3 REB (rebounds). He was named captain by his teammates. In 1956, Russell was recruited to play for the United States basketball team in the 1956 Olympics. [Read More]

UW Field House, a Madison Landmark

by Owen Ayite-Atayi, age 14

The UW Field House is a landmark building initially built in 1930. It serves as the home to the UW volleyball and wrestling teams. Other UW teams are included as a part of the Field House family, such as the basketball, boxing, and track and field teams.

On April 3, 1970, the Badgers first hosted a National Basketball Association (NBA) playoff series game with the Milwaukee Bucks against the Philadelphia 76ers. The game had a sold-out crowd with the tickets costing under ten dollars. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had a stellar night at the Field House, scoring 46 points against the 76ers.

In 1986, the Field House became the permanent home of the UW volleyball and UW wrestling teams. The UW basketball team moved to the Kohl Center in 1998, making it the permanent home of the basketball team. The Field House has had many improvements in the past 20 years including brand-new media facilities, visiting teams’ locker rooms, and wood flooring. [Read More]

On His Way to the Hall of Fame, Wayne Embry Helped Build a Winner in Milwaukee

by Jules Da Costa , age 14

Have you ever heard of Wayne Embry? He became a National Basketball Association (NBA) Hall of Famer who played for various teams in the NBA. Embry was instrumental in making pro basketball successful and popular in Milwaukee.

Wayne Embry started off his basketball career as a player for the Atlanta Hawks in 1958. However, he soon found himself traded to the Cincinnati Royals, the team in his home state of Ohio. Embry, with the help of Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson made the Royals one of the best teams in the league. Embry was mostly known for his rebound and defensive plays but he was also phenomenal on offense too, scoring with his well-known hook shot. He was later named team captain of the Royals.

After a short retirement, in which Embry was talked out of by his friend Bill Russell, he became a player for the Boston Celtics. There, he helped the team win the NBA Championship in 1968. Soon after the Milwaukee Bucks became a team, they drafted him from the Celtics. While Bucks didn’t win many games that year, Wayne Embry was still crucial in the building of the Milwaukee Bucks as we know them today. [Read More]

Play Ball! New Youth Baseball League Launches in Madison

by Josepha Da Costa, age 17

On a sunny Saturday in early July, several Simpson Street reporters headed to Elver Park to watch a baseball game. It wasn’t just any game though; it was a little league game played by kids from all over Madison, including one of our own staff writers, Max Moreno!

This little league program stands out from the rest of the little league teams in the area. It was started by Corey Marionneaux, former baseball player and the President of the Black Men Coalition of Dane County. He created the program after learning that kids who looked like him weren’t getting an opportunity to play baseball here in Madison.

“As I researched more, I learned that we have historically low numbers of Black Americans participating in the sport of baseball right now. So, I decided to do something about that,” said Marionneaux. [Read More]

Badger Basketball to Host Games at American Family Field in Milwaukee — by Jules Da Costa, age 14

For the first time in Wisconsin, college basketball will be played on a baseball field. The University of Wisconsin men’s and women’s basketball games will be played at American Family Field, (formerly known as Miller Park) home to the Milwaukee Brewers. [Read More]

Lisa Byington Makes History as Basketball's First Female Play-by-Play Announcer — by Josepha Da Costa, age 17

While the Milwaukee Bucks came up short in this year’s playoffs, it was still a great season. The team won its division, defeated the Chicago Bulls in a five-game playoff series, and once again excited Wisconsin basketball fans. [Read More]

The Rich Basketball History of Madison La Follette High School — by Josepha Da Costa, age 16

The 2021-22 Madison La Follette High School basketball team had a very successful season. But this isn’t the first time La Follette has had an excellent team. In fact, the school has a rich basketball history and the Lancers have won three state championships. Many La Follette players have gone on to play college basketball for major programs like the University of Wisconsin and Creighton University. [Read More]

Michael Jordan's 1995 Return is One of the Greatest Comebacks in Sports History — by Zayn Khalid, age 12

Michael Jordan stands as one of the greatest athletes of all time, and is considered basketball's most renowned players. Jordan is one of the fastest players to adjust from different sports. [Read More]

El largo camino de los Milwaukee Bucks hacia el campeonato — por Zayn Khalid, 11 años de edad; traducido por Yoanna Hoskins, 17 años de edad

Durante los 50 años anteriores a la temporada 2020-21, los Milwaukee Bucks no habían ganado un campeonato de NBA. Los playoffs de los Bucks en 2021 y la victoria en el campeonato fue uno de los años más emocionantes de la NBA. [Read More]

Oscar Robertson: the Milwaukee Bucks' Superstar — by Amare Smith, age 18

Oscar Robertson grew up in a poor family. By the age of two, he and his family had moved to Indiana, a state where basketball was beloved as a very popular and growing sport in the 1950s. Oscar made tennis balls and rags into basketballs and used peach baskets as basketball hoops to practice. [Read More]

New Baseball Stadium Opens in Wisconsin — by Max Moreno, age 10

A new baseball stadium built for the Lake Country DockHounds opened this summer in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. [Read More]