Quick Hits: CHASING CHALLENGER

first_imgAmerica’s Most Celebrated Eagle calls Tennessee HomeIf you’ve attended a live professional sporting event in the last 23 years, you may have been lucky enough to watch Challenger the bald eagle take flight.He’s been a fixture at events across the country, having enjoyed hundreds of plane flights out of his home base near Nashville, via Southwest Airlines, and thousands of hours riding in a specially equipped van, en route to perform his aerial magic.Now 29, Challenger is the first bald eagle in U.S. history trained to free fly into major sports stadiums, arenas, and ballrooms during the national anthem. His first flight took place in 1995, during the Bassmaster Classic in Greensboro, N.C. Since then, he’s been an inspiring performer at more than 350 events, including five World Series, the NCAA Final Four, Celebrity Fight Nights, numerous NFL match-ups (particularly home games of the Philadelphia Eagles), and even the White House.Challenger has appeared on national talk shows, in commercials, and in educational films. Even his arrival to airport gates is greeted with an excitement and enthusiasm that rivals most celebrities. Tennesseans may also recognize his image from specialty license plates, and he boasts the unique title as the only animal to ever have a specialty coin with his image printed by the U.S. Mint. Challenger was also in attendance for a historic milestone for his species, when bald eagles were removed from the endangered species list in 2007.Perhaps his most important role is that of ambassador for the American Eagle Foundation, a non-profit organization established in 1985 to protect and preserve bald eagles and other birds of prey.Located in Pigeon Forge, the AEF has served as Challenger’s home for almost three decades. He was first discovered in Louisiana at only a few weeks of age, having been blown out of his mother’s nest. For several months, Challenger was hand-raised by humans who released him back into the wild that same year, but who unknowingly kept him too long for Challenger to develop his natural survival instincts. After several unsuccessful attempts at re-introduction into the wild, he was brought to Al Cecere, the founder, president, and CEO of AEF.When Challenger, who was named for the fallen space shuttle, arrived uninjured in 1989, Cecere had an idea: why not train Challenger to free fly during the national anthem, as a way to raise awareness about the then-endangered species while also paying patriotic tribute? He and his staff began to train Challenger in falconry style, which is based on food-based rewards and positive reinforcement.After a few years, the six-pound eagle had learned the routine. Now, he performs across the country almost every week of the year except during the summer, when he is molting.Photo: Julia Cecere / American Eagle Foundation.Once an event is lined up by AEF and individual teams/organizations (which cover travel costs for Challenger and his team while also donating to AEF), five AEF staff members accompany him on the road. Challenger’s special carrier, handled by two staff members, is dark inside, to keep him calm. The interior also has a perch as well as a sliding window. Challenger’s team books the front two bulkhead coach seats for his carrier, with a staff member sitting beside him and additional team members in the rows behind and adjacent. Often, Southwest flight crews will let Cecere take the microphone to give a brief talk about Challenger once the plane is airborne.Cecere, who is 70, always travels with Challenger; Cecere’s daughter, Laura Sterbens, typically travels with him as well. “It’s amazing how many millions of people he’s inspired, not just sports fans, but military members and everyday people,” Cecere says.Wherever he is performing on a given day, Challenger typically takes flight from a higher location than ground level. It’s a path he’s familiar with, as he’s already been through several rounds of rehearsals the previous day as well as the morning of the event. The idea is for Challenger to know all of the elements, so if a singer will be standing on the field, or if fireworks will be going off, he’ll be prepared as he spreads his six-foot wingspan and takes flight. Challenger is outfitted with two GPS trackers, clipped to his tail feathers in case he decides to fly beyond the stadium, but Cecere says they have never needed them.At a baseball game, Cecere will typically stand on the pitcher’s mound, with Laura next to him, holding a lure, which is swung in a circular motion to attract Challenger’s attention. When Challenger sees the lure, he knows a treat is not far behind (he is also trained to specific whistles as well as hand motions).Once he’s released, Challenger flies either directly to Cecere or he takes one or two circles around the arena, whichever path he chooses. When he successfully lands on Cecere’s glove, Challenger earns his favorite snack: Atlantic wild-caught salmon (purchased at Whole Foods, along with bottled Fiji water). Three other handlers are positioned on the field, all wearing headsets, so if Challenger is confused about where to go, they can assist him. Because birds have to gradually descend from heights, sometimes Challenger overshoots his landing, in which case he’ll make one more loop before settling on to the trainer’s outstretched glove.After the event is over, Challenger will often pose for photos, fluffing his feathers for the camera. Then, it’s back to the hotel to rest before another flight and performance in a new city.Bald eagles can live up to 50 years or more in captivity, and Challenger shows no signs of slowing down. At the AEF, which has released over 450 eaglets into the wild through their rehabilitation and breeding programs, Challenger is flown every day for exercise and to build his stamina for when he takes the stage.“Remember what the eagle stands for—independence—and yet the eagle was almost lost because of our negligence,” Cecere says. “We came together as a country and brought it back from the brink, and now it’s flourishing across the country again. Challenger is our ambassador for what it is that we do.”last_img read more

West Indies played into England’s hands after 1st Test win, feels Walsh

first_imgLONDON: Former West Indies captain Courtney Walsh feels the Jason Holder-led side became defensive after their win in the first Test of the recently-concluded three-match series against England.The Windies lost the next two games at the Old Trafford after winning the first Test in Southampton, thereby losing the chance to retain the Wisden Trophy. “They were probably thinking ‘we’re 1-0 up, let’s play safe and try not to lose the next two’ and I think that played into England’s hands, especially in the last one with the history of the ground,” Walsh told Sky Sports. “To win the toss twice and not bat first, it is a good question for them to answer. I think it probably cost us. “But you still can’t take anything away from England, they played some very good cricket, they had some top-class bowlers and Broad came in with a point to prove in the second Test and just continued with that momentum. Once momentum swung England’s way, they were dominant,” the legendary fast bowler added. Meanwhile, Former England captain Alec Stewart heaped praise on all-rounder Chris Woakes, saying he is an unsung hero in the team. Woakes returned figures of 5/50 as England beat West Indies by 269 runs in the third and final Test at the Old Trafford to clinch a 2-1 series win and regain the Wisden Trophy. In the two Test matches that he played in the series, Woakes picked up 11 wickets, five less than Stuart Broad. “He’s almost the unsung hero of the England set-up because we talk about Broad and Anderson then the pace of Archer and Wood, where as Woakes just goes quietly about his business,” Stewart was quoted as saying by Sky Sports. “I’m a massive fan of Woakes, especially in England. His record in England is outstanding. It’s a real feather in his cap that he got the nod when Chris Silverwood said ‘we are picking our very best bowling attack for this Test match we have to win,” he added. (IANS) Also watch: #NewsMakers: Amending EIA Notification, 2020 Impact on NorthEastlast_img read more

New Clippers Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic, Avery Bradley see positives

first_img Anything is possible as Clippers approach the NBA trade deadline PreviousClippers head coach Doc Rivers talks the media during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)The Clippers introduce Boban Marjanovic, one of their newly acquired players, during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)The Clippers introduce Avery Bradley, one of their newly acquired players, during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG) SoundThe gallery will resume insecondsThe Clippers introduce Tobias Harris, one of their newly acquired players, during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)Clippers head coach Doc Rivers talks the media during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)The Clippers introduce Boban Marjanovic, one of their newly acquired players, during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)The Clippers introduce Boban Marjanovic, one of their newly acquired players, during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)The Clippers introduce Boban Marjanovic, one of their newly acquired players, during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)The Clippers introduce Boban Marjanovic, one of their newly acquired players, during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)The Clippers introduce Boban Marjanovic, one of their newly acquired players, during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)The Clippers introduce Boban Marjanovic, one of their newly acquired players, during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)The Clippers introduce Boban Marjanovic, one of their newly acquired players, during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)The Clippers introduce Boban Marjanovic, one of their newly acquired players, during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)The Clippers introduce Boban Marjanovic, one of their newly acquired players, during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)The Clippers introduce Boban Marjanovic, one of their newly acquired players, during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)The Clippers introduce Boban Marjanovic, one of their newly acquired players, during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)The Clippers introduce Boban Marjanovic, one of their newly acquired players, during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)The Clippers introduce Boban Marjanovic, one of their newly acquired players, during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)The Clippers introduce Boban Marjanovic, one of their newly acquired players, during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)The Clippers introduce Boban Marjanovic, one of their newly acquired players, during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)The Clippers introduce Boban Marjanovic, one of their newly acquired players, during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)The Clippers introduce Boban Marjanovic, one of their newly acquired players, during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)The Clippers introduce Avery Bradley, one of their newly acquired players, during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)The Clippers introduce Avery Bradley, one of their newly acquired players, during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)The Clippers introduce Avery Bradley, one of their newly acquired players, during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)The Clippers introduce Avery Bradley, one of their newly acquired players, during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)The Clippers introduce Tobias Harris, one of their newly acquired players, during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)The Clippers introduce Tobias Harris, one of their newly acquired players, during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)The Clippers introduce Tobias Harris, one of their newly acquired players, during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)The Clippers introduce Tobias Harris, one of their newly acquired players, during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)The Clippers introduce Tobias Harris, one of their newly acquired players, during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)Clippers head coach Doc Rivers talks the media during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)Clippers head coach Doc Rivers talks the media during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)Clippers head coach Doc Rivers talks the media during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)Clippers head coach Doc Rivers talks the media during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)Clippers head coach Doc Rivers talks the media during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)Clippers head coach Doc Rivers talks the media during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)Clippers head coach Doc Rivers talks the media during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)Clippers head coach Doc Rivers talks the media during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)The Clippers introduce Boban Marjanovic, one of their newly acquired players, during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)NextShow Caption1 of 38The Clippers introduce Boban Marjanovic, one of their newly acquired players, during a press availability at their training center in Playa Vista Thursday morning, February 1, 2018. (Photo by Axel Koester for The Daily Breeze/SCNG)ExpandPLAYA VISTA — Tobias Harris was on the phone Monday, at home in Detroit, talking to his mother via FaceTime and hearing about his siblings’ collegiate trials and tribulations. They weren’t getting enough playing time to suit them and Lisa Harris wanted to share the news with Tobias.Suddenly, she changed topics and asked how things were going with him and the Pistons.“I said, ‘I don’t know, Mom, I think a trade is about to happen,’” Harris said Thursday morning. “I just said it because I had seen some rumors. My mom has been through two trades with me already and she was, like, ‘Well, if you need me, I’ll come and pack.’”Just then another call interrupted their conversation. That’s when he got the news he had been traded along with Avery Bradley and Boban Marjanovic and two draft picks to the Clippers in exchange for Blake Griffin, Brice Johnson and Willie Reed. Doc Rivers said Harris, a forward, would start at small forward, with Danilo Gallinari shifting to power forward. Marjanovic will back up center DeAndre Jordan. Bradley and Teodosic will form the backcourt. There won’t be much time for defining new roles.It all must happen “quickly,” Doc Rivers said, “because we have no choice.” The Clippers are 25-25, a half-game out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference standings going into Thursday’s games.“I’m open to bringing whatever I need to bring to this team,” said Bradley, who played for Rivers with the Celtics for the first three seasons of his career. “One thing that is one of my strengths is defense and I know I’m going to bring that instantly to this team.”Bradley said coming to the Clippers with the other two would ease the transition.“It’s a good feeling,” he said. “It’s like moving to a new state with your family. I couldn’t have asked to be a part of a package with any better players than those guys. They’re not only good players, but they’re great people. Having them here is going to make it that much easier for me.” Oram: In trading Blake Griffin, the Clippers gave up what they have so often been without — a superstar “He always is dancing, but I had to show him a couple of things to get his flow right,” Harris said, laughing. “Boban is one of my best friends. When I got word of the trade and I heard Boban and Avery were coming, too, that made it better.”Marjanovic said Teodosic told him “all great stuff” about the Clippers and Los Angeles.“Nothing to complain about,” Marjanovic said.The newest Clippers were introduced to their teammates Thursday and practiced with them for the first time. They’ll practice again Friday before playing together for the first time Saturday, when the Clippers host the Chicago Bulls at Staples Center.Related Articlescenter_img Whicker: Clippers aren’t tearing down the house, just replacing the window “She’s telling me a story and I was getting a call and I said, ‘Hold on, I’m about to be traded,’ and she was, like, ‘No, no, I’ve got to tell you this story,’” Harris said, laughing at the memory all sons seem to share of phone calls with their mothers.“And I said, ‘No, Mom, I’ve got to take this call.’ I took the call and then I called her back and I said, ‘I just got traded.’ and she was like, ‘Let’s go.’ That’s how my mom is. She was, like, ‘All right, let’s go. We’re going to L.A. Let’s go do it.’”Harris, Bradley and Marjanovic each knew one person well in Los Angeles, so the trade wasn’t as jarring as it could have been. Harris played against Clippers guard Austin Rivers in AAU games when they were youngsters. Bradley played for Clippers coach Doc Rivers in Boston. Marjanovic and fellow Serbian Milos Teodosic have been friends since they were kids.What’s more, Harris and Marjanovic were best friends while with the Pistons the past two seasons. Marjanovic served as Harris’ dance instructor in a hilarious YouTube video in which he showed off his moves to the 6-foot-9 native of Islip, N.Y. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more