“Bieber Fever is allowed under NCAA rules.”
— NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn, after Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin told ESPN she returned a gift package sent to her by Justin Bieber because she feared it would violate her amateur status. Bieber sent Franklin the gift after hearing she liked his music. No word on what the Colorado High School Activities Association would say. Franklin has said she will swim during her senior season at Regis Jesuit High School.
Hooray for Jeeray
You don’t have to tell Nicole Jeray to make the most of every waking moment.
The 42-year-old golfer from Berwyn suffers from narcolepsy, a neurological disorder that causes uncontrollable sleep at any time.
Jeray had just finished competing in five pressure-filled days of the LPGA’s qualifying-school tournament Sunday in Daytona Beach, Fla., making birdie on the final hole and shooting a 2 under. She figured she had made her ninth Tour in 20 years.
“I was all ready to go celebrate,” the former Northern Illinois star said. “But then I looked at my phone for the live scoring and realized there might be a playoff.”
Physically and mentally exhausted, Jeray decided, “I better close my eyes, so I’m ready.”
So while the other hopefuls were finishing the round, Jeray slept in her car. Twenty minutes later, her longtime boyfriend and sometime caddie, Jody Keepers, awoke her with the news — Jeray was one of seven players vying for four spots in a playoff. She had only minutes to prepare for what she thought might be her last shot at the Tour. She hit a few balls at the range, stroked a few putts on the practice green and headed back out on the course.
It took five more holes and a 20-foot birdie putt for Jeray to regain the exempt status that had eluded her since 2009.
Jeray was diagnosed with narcolepsy in 1996, the year after she finished in the LPGA’s top 30.
“I was actually relieved to find out it was that and not Lou Gehrig’s disease or something,” she said. “I didn’t know what I had. It could have been so much worse.”
Still, the early treatments weren’t promising for anyone, much less someone who makes her living playing golf eight hours a day. “I could never get excited because it would cause paralysis,” she said. “I used to fall 10 times a day.’’
For more about Jeray and her fight against narcolepsy, go to http://www.nicolejeray.com/swinging-for-sleep/.
Northwestern’s Liberman will wear yarmulke
Northwestern’s Aaron Liberman is expected to become the second player in Division I basketball history to wear a yarmulke during competition. The freshman walk-on from Valley Torah High in Los Angeles has yet to appear in a game because of shin splints and might be redshirted.
The Wildcats will provide the 6-10, 215-pound forward/center with a purple-and-white yarmulke for home games and a purple-and-black one for the road. Liberman also plans to wear a tzitzit, a knotted fringe or tassel worn on the corners of garments, underneath his jersey.
Liberman led Valley Torah to a 25-5 record and a CIF Southern Section championship during his senior season. It was the first time a Jewish school had claimed a sectional title in basketball in California. He spent a year in Israel before coming to NU.
The only other player to wear a yarmulke during competition was Tamir Goodman, who played for Towson.
144 years later, White honored
It took 144 years after he recorded what some historians regard as the game’s first professional hit for James “Deacon” White to receive baseball’s greatest honor.
On Monday, White was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Pre-Integration Era Committee. He will be enshrined in July 2013.
White moved to Aurora to live with his daughter when he was in his 80s. In 1939, shortly before his death at 91, White was disappointed to learn he had not been elected to the Hall.
White is considered the premier barehanded catcher of the game’s earliest days. He started his career with the Cleveland Forest Citys in 1868.
According to the Society for American Baseball Research, the Cleveland squad played in the inaugural season of the National Association, considered by many as the first professional baseball league. In the first inning against Fort Wayne, White doubled. For many, that marks the first hit in professional baseball.
White played 20 seasons, won two batting titles and led the league in RBI three times.
‘‘You can talk all you want about the great catchers,” teammate and Hall of Famer Pud Galvin said, “but the best who ever worked behind the plate was Jim White.’’
Matt Hanley, Sun-Times Media