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?DUM QUOTE OF THE YEER. Douglas S. Looney in Sept. 29 SI: "Our new love is Iowa. Hey, Hawks, you are a big-time power, and we won't forsake you." Turns out the 8-3 Hawks were only a little-time power, and we forsook them in a New York minute.
PEN PALS, REAL PALS
In a time of too many downers in collegiate football, it was the perfect pick-me-up. This fall, Jack Spleen, a fourth-grade teacher at John S. Clarke Elementary in Pottsville, Pa., asked each of his students to write a letter to the college players of his or her choice. Each letter included eight questions, both light ("What are your favorite foods?") and serious ("What is your advice on becoming a success?"). Amazingly—or perhaps not—65 players (approximately 90%) responded. Many not only filled out the questionnaire, but also wrote letters.
Miami's Vinny Testaverde penned a three-page letter to Pat Ginther, 9, that had such sage advice as: "There are a lot of people in this world who are successful. Not all of these people become successful feeling good about themselves." He also wrote, "Don't ever be afraid to ask for help. Only dumb people don't ask questions." Most significant, in closing Testaverde said, "Please write back to let me know how you and your class are doing."
Pat and his friends did just that. They sent a cassette tape of the class singing happy birthday to the Miami QB (he was 23 on Nov. 13) and asked him a few more questions. This time Testaverde responded with a five-page letter.
But this wasn't just the Vinny Testaverde Letter Writing Show. Penn State quarterback John Shaffer counseled, "Don't ever worry about failing. It's those who never try who never fail." Alabama's Mike Shula wrote, as did Ohio State's Jim Karsatos, Notre Dame's Wally Kleine, Colorado State's Steve Bartalo, Arizona State's Jeff Van Raaphorst and Oregon's Chris Miller. The players predictably advised against drugs, often citing what has become the nation's best-known caveat: "Just Say No." Said Michigan's Jim Harbaugh, "Drugs never benefit anyone."
Spleen was overjoyed with the response. "This really accentuates the positive, doesn't it?" he said. "And it meant so much to the kids."
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