Get to know Cleanthony Early, the star forward who wants to lead Wichita State back to the Final Four
Last spring, Cleanthony Early and the Number 9-seeded Wichita State Shockers became the darlings of the Big Dance when they won four straight games to reach the Final Four. (They lost to eventual champion Louisville.) The Shockers' hot streak has carried into this season: They enter the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball tournament as the nation's only undefeated team at 34-0 and are the top seed in the Midwest bracket. Early, a 6′ 8″ forward, was leading the team with 16.0 points and 6.6 rebounds a game. SI Kids asked the former junior college player about the emotions of the NCAA tournament, what music pumps him up, and how he expects to close out his senior season.
Life is good for Iouri Podladtchikov these days. The man nicknamed I-Pod has made a rapid ascent to the top of his sport. He won silver in snowboarding halfpipe at the past two Winter X Games and gold at last year's world championships. But he really made his mark at the 2014 Olympics, winning gold by completing a move that he calls the "YOLO flip," which knocked off defending champion Shaun White.
It's been a month since he rose to Olympic glory, but the 25-year-old Swiss national is still beaming. On a recent visit to the SI Kids office in New York City, he happily chatted for an hour about his Olympic experience, his biggest influences, and where he plans to keep his gold medal.
For Torin Yater-Wallace, just being able to compete in the Olympics was a blessing. In December, the 18-year-old freeskier suffered a serious chest injury and two broken ribs after a crash during an event. He recovered enough to compete in Sochi, but his result was disappointing — he finished 26th in the men's ski halfpipe.
Still, Yater-Wallace says he did enjoy the Olympic experience, getting to hang out with his teammates and also working with his sponsor Pop-Tarts on their Crazy Good Winter campaign. SI Kids caught up with the former SportsKid of the Year finalist for a quick Q&A after the Olympics.
The Winter Olympics will have its share of legends, from Shaun White to Meryl Wilson and Charlie White to Teemu Selanne. But older athletes aren't the only ones traveling to Sochi with dreams of gold medals. The next generation of snowboarders and skiers will also hit the slopes, trying to make some history by knocking their heroes off the podium.
When the 2014 Games begin on Friday, keep an eye on Sarah Hendrickson, Ayumu Hirano, Torin Yater-Wallace, Arielle Gold, and Mikaela Shiffrin. These high-flying teenagers are going to turn some heads in Sochi!
It’s no stretch to say that Swin Cash is well-schooled in the art of winning. She won two national championships in college at UConn, two Olympic gold medals with Team USA, and three WNBA titles with the Detroit Shock and Seattle Storm. The Pittsburgh native has also experienced her share of championship glory off the court as a die-hard Steelers fan.
SI Kids caught up with the Chicago Sky forward in New York City to talk about Peyton Manning, Super Bowl predictions, and braving the frigid temperatures brought on by the polar vortex.
Despite entering the league with very little experience playing football, several athletes have made a successful leap to the NFL
The first time BYU defensive line coach Steve Kaufusi saw Ezekiel Ansah was at the school's indoor track, where the sophomore from Ghana was training as a sprinter. Ansah stood 6′ 6″ and weighed about 250 pounds — not exactly the typical body type for his sport. "I thought, What's he doing running track? He should be playing football," recalls Kaufusi.
Ansah had great speed — he ran the 100-meter dash in 10.91 seconds. But there was one problem: His body was so big that he would sometimes bump into runners in the lanes next to him. Ansah's track coach recommended that he try football instead, and brought him into BYU head football coach Bronco Mendenhall's office. Ansah had never played football before (or even lifted weights) but his raw athleticism impressed Mendenhall and his staff, and they offered him a walk-on roster spot. "He had an NFL body: the quickness, great lateral movements," says Kaufusi. "It was just a matter of teaching him how to play football."
What's it like to play at the World's Most Famous Arena? I got a chance to find out a few weeks ago when Foot Locker invited a group of journalists to play in a scrimmage at Madison Square Garden in New York City as part of its Hottest Month Ever campaign.
After changing into our game gear in the MSG visitor's locker room, the journalists-turned-hoopsters milled about in the tunnel outside the court, waiting for the green light to go on the floor. Let's just say we didn't look like the most athletic bunch. "I want to see someone dunk like Blake Griffin," joked one Foot Locker employee.
"Blake Griffin? More like Peter Griffin," cracked one journalist, referring to the dad from Family Guy.