Baseball: Arizona & Hawaii

There are some things that they have a lock on in Hawaii when it comes to sports.  They own surfing, volleyball, paddling, and Little League Baseball World Series champions.  I told my father that they had teams from two different islands win against the best in the whole world.  He wanted to know how they did that?  The history of baseball in Hawaii goes back to the semi-pro and/or farm teams they had in their island baseball league days.  Still, it is quite an accomplishment when a team from Oahu, and the island of Hawaii both win a world series.

Are we experts?  Well, when it comes to baseball, Arizona is up there with any state with its programs.  They have a pro team that beat the Yankees in game 7 of the world series, in the 9th inning with a lead and Mariano Rivera closing.  Derek Jeter was there when Gonzales hit the blooper over his head.  They have won college world series at both Arizona State and University of Arizona.  Arizona State has the distinction of sending more players to the professionals than any other team in the NCAA.

What about the women?  What about both Arizona State and the University of Arizona winning NCAA Softball World Series?  Yes they have.  Plus, the junior college team in Prescott, Arizona has won the National Junior College World Series too.

One of the sports they had in middle school in Arizona was softball.  The teams were filled with baseball all-stars, and we played both fast pitch and slow pitch.  It was either a 2-1 pitcher’s dual or a 15-12 home-run derby.  We travelled around and played teams with Mexican kids, Native American kids, and others with their own area all-stars.  We were a mixed lot with desert rats of all colors and nationalities.  We were champions too.

So when my dad and I talked about baseball in Hawaii, it was two guys from a baseball state where the pros do their Spring Training every year.  It is a place where they won the MLB, NCAA and NJCAA world series.  Some of those kids from the next Little League World Series team from Hawaii should go to play at the Arizona schools.  You can play in the toughest baseball division in the USA.  You can play in the PAC-12 with USC, UCLA, Stanford, etc.

Arizona knows baseball.  Hawaii knows Little League World Series Champions.


Superhero Dual Disguise

Even now as I take a time out from reading up on adaptive tennis, hoping that we can do something with the Special Olympics, and to have both high school and college kids in this area work with me and others as assistants, helping the special needs tennis folks, and having their college and work applications stand out by doing good; I recall just yesterday a lady at a school where the socio-economic disadvantaged, English as a second language, and of course special needs kids abound.  She said, “You could teach here and be a hero.”

“No, not a hero, just doing what has to be done.”

You see, forget the thousands of children taught, coached, mentored, tutored, and worked with.  It was the dual doctoral degrees earned at the University of Oahu in BB and TB that I am most proud of.  I am not a hero I am sad to say; I was and am a tennis bum and a beach bum.  Forget the tears in my eyes when the kids I coached at Special Olympics won medals by themselves and for our team, helping me to my most cherished possession in tennis ever: my silver medal in the unified doubles.  We had to get silver, as we were playing against a parent-child team that I had coached-the balancing act of getting to the tie-break and just losing by a point or two-you say soldiers don’t cry?  I cried when every single kid got their medal, and I couldn’t get my partner his gold, as silver was the right thing for the coach to do.

And what crazy person takes out 10-12 years of their life, right in the middle of it, to coach and tutor their own child?  Of course I worked in conjunction with the schools like Sacred Hearts, Waikiki, and handed her off to Iolani (she picked her school).  Her coaching was done by Mid-Pac coaches, the USTA, and great players from Italy and Slovakia who could be professionals if they chose it.  That was passion that you heard when my voice rose above the din when she didn’t give 100%.  But, the father-daughter relationship is one where when it was time to hand her over to the school that fathered the modern Chinese leader, I am now just there in spirit if she needs me.

I am no hero.  Just a guy that is wrapping up his stint at the courts and the beach, to now teach and coach special needs folks again.  This time the certifications, doctoral work, collaborations and elbow grease will run through the kid, the classroom, the school, the neighborhood, the district, the state, the country, and the world.  But, above all else, the kid.  The kid in the classroom, the kid on the court.

And that is why at 4:45 a.m. on a Saturday, besides writing this pat on the back and admonishment for bumming too long, I read about special needs tennis, read about special needs and neuroscience, read about how technology can do good for special needs, and look at the latest special education pedagogy.

All the hero needs is coffee and the kids!

Cost Prohibition and Darwinism

As educators we often try to find a link between the real world and the math or the Shakespeare we are teaching.  Of course it is there, and it is up to the educator and their science and art of teaching (pedagogy), to find and show this link.

There are new things in neuroscience and education, according to Johns Hopkins School of Education, and in biomedicine according to MIT’s Technology Review, where advances are taking place that could do great things in the field of special education and mental illness.

I fear that money and power will decide who benefits and where the breakthroughs will be implemented.  A special education team working on a kid’s IEP could come up with the best plan for the child, then be stopped dead in their tracks when the money is short in this public school.

There are homeless folks now living in tents on the sides of Honolulu streets that could benefit from new technologies in the neurosciences and biomedicine.  No, no, not for you.  You can’t even afford a new pair of socks and a can of Vienna sausages.

I thought that maybe money is trumping Darwin’s natural order of things.  Then I thought maybe in the evolutionary scale, money is part of the solution of who wins out and who perishes.  Oh, what a lovely thought for those that live by this creed.  Although some with a conscience feel funny to teach in a school that looks and feels like an old asylum or prison, while their child succeeds in the prep school.

We are at the time in the evolution of man where man/machine, artificial intelligence, robots, and biomedicine will soon rule the roost.  Form will follow function, like in all those bird beak differences in a single species in the Hawaiian Islands.

Like the ability to feed the world, we will have the ability to feed the brains of all the children, and to help the brains of many of the homeless.  Yet, power and money will dictate who, what, where, when and why.  Isn’t it funny that when you see the homeless and their plight, or you drive by the school where you think, “Thank God we got that geographic exemption so my kid didn’t go THERE,” that it is your neighborhood, city, state, country, and world where you have these thoughts?

Man and machine has conjured this us and them scenario.  It makes us feel good about the BMW and not the Ford Escort.  Soon, even those with the money and power may be in an us and them scenario where they are the ones being looked down on.  And, it will have nothing to do with money.

Sun Devils and Heroes

Sun Devils and Heroes:

A Second Attempt at the ASU Archives

 By Robert Allen Beckvall

I am going to write something new.  A family history concerning our many Arizona State University alumni, the good things they have done for the state of Arizona, and even those that have done good in the state while attending or working for other public universities.  Using the saying about the apples not falling too far from the tree, I am proud to be an apple whose family tree has grown proudly in Arizona desert soil, right in the heart of Tempe.  I hope this will suffice as my current professional writing.

The requirement from my professor Dr. McBride, who was one of the top men in his field at ASU when it came to Arizona history, was to write something about our “Mining Town Family”.  Dr. McBride was such a great educator and caretaker of Arizona history, he taught me at both Corona del Sol High School and ASU, both in Tempe.  He worked at the university and this top high school at the same time.

You figure that a man who had probably heard every story about Arizona, would not expect anything that would excite him in an undergraduate history course.  But, after I had interviewed Oma Johnson, from the Globe-Miami copper town area about her copper crusher foreman husband that had worked in the mines, he was so impressed with the paper, he asked me to enter it in the ASU archives.  This made my family, Sun Devils all, very proud. My mother was especially proud, as she was the second member of the family from Miami, Arizona that had made the trek to Tempe to attend ASU.

My mother’s aunt,  who is the miner’s sister, had gone to the Teacher’s College in Tempe.  She had attended, and become an Arizona educator before ASU was called ASU.  It came at a stiff price, as my grandfather supported her degree by going into the army.

The unfairness of my grandfather having to pay for his sister’s degree happened because the owners of the mine, who lived on the hill, did not award the siblings the scholarships to what was to become ASU.  These siblings, who were ranked 1st or 2nd in the high school senior classes of Miami HS, and fully fluent in English and Spanish, had to watch as the scholarships were awarded to those fortunate enough to be from a different socio-economic class.  They came from the wrong side of the tracks.  Add to this the fact that my grandfather’s dad had died when he was ten.  He had to be the man of the family while still a teenager.  So he went into the army to pay for his sister’s degree in Tempe.

Our family has had dealings in education at other Arizona universities.  Our uncle was the head of the English department at Northern Arizona University.  Your friendly narrator earned an MA from the University of Arizona in multicultural learning disorders under Dr. Todd Fletcher.  I am actually the third member of the family to go into education, and one of several veterans.  I even took a turn at working in the Veteran’s Services Office of ASU, which is part of the registrar’s office.  I worked for a great man named Richard Wade.  This office is now named after soldier and ASU great Pat Tillman.  An admired hero.

We have established our ASU lines, but barely touched on the other family alumni and what they have done for the school, the state of Arizona, and folks in general.

The daughter of the miner went to ASU.  There, she met a hard charging man who was making a name for himself in the college of business, where he received his BS and MS in accounting.  In his career at ASU, he received a single B grade, which he argued mightily to get it changed to an A so he would have the perfect 4.0.  He had another surprise in mind.

Jerome Marvin Beckvall passed the CPA exam with an almost perfect mark on the first attempt.  They created a plaque for him, which for many years adorned the wall of the ASU college of business.  He was recruited heavily by many CPA firms, and went with top company Touch-Ross.  His wife dropped out of ASU to have her babies, who would both become ASU alumni.

The son is writing this, putting his ASU English degree to some use, while the daughter followed in her father’s footsteps.  She earned a management degree, and became the office manager for the Dean of the Business College.  She began a relationship with an ethics professor from ASU that has lasted to this day, as she edits her textbooks, helps with test banks, and books her speaking engagements; she is her general right hand woman.

This is not the end of the Tempe, Arizona connection.  Do you remember that lady that had dropped out of ASU?  She went on to earn top marks at an Arizona business college.  She ended up taking a job at the Tempe Police.  She met someone there who would serve both Tempe and ASU proudly, and went on to marry her daughter.  The copper miner’s daughter worked her way up from the Tempe Police, to the City of Tempe.  The matriarch of the ASU-Tempe family now spends her retirement as the President of the Lionesses in Prescott, Arizona.  Her husband is the former president of the Lions Club.  Her daughter continues to work with the ASU ethics professor, while the former Tempe policeman worked with children in the court system as a volunteer advocate for their welfare.  They have moved to Prescott, along with the former ASU CPA.

The daughter of the former policeman & textbook editor earned top marks at NAU, and is now chasing her dream of becoming a vet, helping out Arizona animals.  She has travelled as far as Costa Rica to work with exotic animals.  Their son went to chef school and is working in a world class resort in Scottsdale, while his bilingual children attend a good Arizona elementary school, splitting time between the Prescott, Tempe and Mexican families.

The son of the ASU Arizona businessman and the Lionesses President, started to work with kids when he was seventeen years old.  He took a summer job through the City of Tempe, with a childrens hospital.  He began coaching kids at the age of eighteen.  While in the army, he volunteered for head start, headed up a reading tutoring program, coached kids on army and air force bases, and worked with abused children.  He worked in Mexico in education, was a guest in China at a sports/academic facility, and taught a tennis lesson at a deaf and blind school, while the principal did sign language for him.  He drove and counseled gang members, seniors and special needs folks.  He coached Special Olympics, and was asked to be the National Chairman for the USPTA Special Needs Tennis Program.

This educator and coach has gone on to teach in public, private, charter, Catholic, Christian, Buddhist and a business school.  He has worked with PreK-12th grades, and has worked at Mesa Community College and Arizona State University in various positions while earning his undergraduate degree.  He has volunteered time and money through sports at the following: Ronald McDonald House, Toy for Tots, American Heart Association, Raise a Racquet for Kids, Summer of Tennis, and other special needs organizations in Arizona, Colorado, and Hawaii.

Currently he is working as a special education teacher, regular classroom teacher, and coach at both public and private schools in Hawaii.  He works at schools that need experienced educators with many disadvantaged kids that have socio-economic needs, special education needs, and those that need help with English as their second language.

The goal is to have a world class university, team with the DOE-Hawaii, and work with the Sullivan Center at Iolani School to produce real world best teaching practices for the kids and the special needs classroom.  This is the best education leadership and innovation, as current practices in the brain sciences, the pedagogy of special education, the latest in medical work, and the best ideas in technology will all be brought to the special kids by this educator with much help from various factions from the education community in Hawaii, Arizona and beyond.

A lifetime of service from the family in education through Arizona universities, and a lifetime of service through soldiering, volunteering, coaching, and of course teaching and working with special needs kids has been gladly given.  I look to continue a lifetime of service in pursuit of the highest degree in education and then post-doctoral work, that will get right to the heart of the matter in both classrooms and sports courts, helping to have young people live better and pursue their dreams.

As a many time team and doubles champion under the guidance of USPTA Professional James Munsil and Tempe area educator/coach Robert Cox, you first work hard as an individual.  Then, you carefully and wisely choose your TEAM & PARTNER.  From there you take on all challenges, like the challenges of teaching and coaching.  I am asking you to be a teammate and a partner, so that we can champion best practices in the lives of children and to bring a leadership and innovation through action.

The daughter of the educator/coach is a scholar/athlete and has worked with her father at Buddhist, Christian, and public schools.  She has done volunteer time at a senior home, for the USTA and at her own school.  She has donated items to her former elementary school in Waikiki, and will try to follow in the footsteps of her family who is listed in the Who’s Who of Chinese doctors which goes back twelve generations or so beginning with her mother, grandmother, and great grandfather.  Another good apple, from a tree in China.

APRIL 6, 2015

Arizona State Degrees Awarded to our family:

Teacher’s College-Teaching Degree (ASU)-aunt, ASU-BS & MS Accounting-father, ASU-BS Management-sister, ASU-BA English-RAB, ASU-BS Business-stepsister, UA-MA Multicultural LD-RAB, NAU-BS Psychology & BS Biology-niece

Worked at or Attended Arizona State Schools:

NAU-Head of English Department-uncle, ASU-mother & brother in law, great niece and nephew-AZ elementary school, Business College-mother


When my Chinese girls pray at the temple, they light incense in the four directions:  North, South, East and West.

When the witches were going to do a water spell they too lit candles in the four directions, so said Harkness.

If we work with a private Christian university in Metro Phoenix, that is a direction.  If we work with a cutting edge university in the desert of Tempe, Arizona, that is a direction.  If on an island, working with a university in the beauty of Manoa, of course that could be a beautiful direction.  And, there is a school where the “Father of Modern China” attended.  They have a statue of him there.  If we could work with their kids, with their technology and science departments, where kids would be helping kids, we could have kids in both public and private schools pointed in divine and wonderful directions.

Standing in the middle of this beautiful wilderness, it sounds to me like no matter where I point my boots and walking stick, it will be a beautiful trip.