Former Henninger basketball coach to be character in Tim’s new book

It seems like kind of an odd association, but former Henninger High School boys basketball coach Joe Mazella will be the name of a teacher in Tim Green’s next book – “Left Out.”

Green, the Skaneateles lawyer/author/speaker whose latest literary focus is writing books for young people and speaking to students on the virtues of reading, said Mazella’s name was selected after he held a five-day contest on Facebook, where followers could vote.

The former Syracuse University football star, who played in the NFL before launching successful careers as a lawyer and author, said he began writing books for “middle grades” – kids from 8 to 14 years old – about 10 years ago.

At first, Green used names of his children and their friends as characters. Several years ago, he came up with the idea of holding online contests to come up with names.

“One day I thought, instead of making up names why not solicit names from people who follow my Facebook page,” he said. “Sometimes it’s just someone who has a lot of friends on Facebook. But it seems like lately it ends up being, more often than not, someone like Joe who was wildly popular.”

Mazella was a well-known coach, teacher and administrator at Henninger whose teams won five Section III basketball titles and a state championship in 2002. The Eastwood resident, who coached former Syracuse University guard Lazarus Sims and NBA player Andray Blatche, died in 2009. His death, from self-inflicted wounds, was blamed on the over-perscription of anti-depresant drugs.

Green said other local people who have, or will, appear as book characters include Cicero youth Griffin Engle, who died at 7 in 2014 after a battle with brain cancer and Christian Brothers Academy baseball player Jack Sheridan, who is battling leukemia.

Engle appeared as a character in the book, “Kid Owner,’ and Sheridan will be in Green’s newest release, “Home Run,” a baseball-themed work.

Skaneateles author Tim Green (Harper-Collins books)

“Really it just feels good,” he said, “because people are happy to remember someone. They’re happy to know they’re going to be in this book. It’s something that’s just fun. Instead of throwing away the opportunity. I thought it would be nice to provide people – like all of Joe’s fans and supporters – an opportunity, even if it’s just on Facebook, to say how much they miss him, how much they loved him, everything he did for them.”

Mazella’s widow, Janice, said her three daughters, who still live in Syracuse, were excited to see their father win the contest.

“I’ve gotten tons of calls,” she said, from people who saw the Facebook posts about her late husband, whose calling hours and funeral were attended by thousands.

Janice Mazella didn’t miss the obvious marketing angle of using her husband’s name.

“He’s pretty smart to have done that,” she said.

 

By Nolan Weidner | nweidner@syracuse.com


Booklist Review for Home Run

The fourth episode in Green’s Baseball Great series continues to throw tough challenges at young Josh, both on and off the playing field. Here the 13-year-old superstar really rides the emotional roller coaster as he continues to love his divorced, bitterly incompatible parents and also falls into a batting slump exacerbated by the demands of a harsh, possibly unscrupulous new coach. The baseball action is exciting, if not so intense as the domestic Sturm und Drang, and is capped by a rigged home-run contest that leads to a surprise happy ending. Sports play a strong enough role to put this solidly in that genre, but the domestic issues broaden its potential audience.

Reviewed by Booklist


Tim Green to appear at Hickory Creek Middle School in Frankfort

FRANKFORT – Hickory Creek Middle School in Frankfort will host author Tim Green at 6 p.m. Feb. 3 at 22150 W. 116th Ave., Frankfort.

This presentation is funded through a grant from the District 157-C Education Foundation.

After studying writing at Syracuse University where he was an All American football player, Green was drafted in the first round of the NFL draft by the Atlanta Falcons where he was a top defensive player for eight years.

While he played in the NFL, Green also studied law and began his writing career. By the time he retired from football in 1994, Green had already published his first book and become a lawyer. Green also worked as a television broadcaster for a variety of shows.

After writing more than a dozen books for adults, Green wrote a series of novels for young readers set in a world of sports taken from his own experiences as an athlete and a coach.

Green has visited over 1,000 schools and spoken to nearly a half million students across the United States about the importance of education, character, and the joys and benefits of reading.

Green’s book “Unstoppable” was a Rebecca Caudill nominee.



Former Falcon gets students exercising their minds

Each time former Atlanta Falcons defensive end Tim Green finished a chapter, he asked the 75 or so students assembled in the library at Parkside Elementary School in Atlanta earlier this month if he should stop. Each time, they egged him on, pleading for him to continue.

He was reading “Kid Owner,” the 16th of his childrens books, all published by Harper Collins. Afterward, the students would be ushered down the hall for an hour of rope climbing, football throwing, running and other activities.

As part of its Play 60 program, launched in 2007, the NFL has advocated for kids to have 60 minutes of physical activity a day to keep their bodies healthy and in shape. Green takes that a step further, with 20 minutes of reading to exercise the brain as well.

“I’m not curing cancer or creating world peace,” he said, “but it’s my own way of giving back.

“Teachers have been saying for years that reading for about 20 minutes a day enhances a child’s skills,” Green said. “The idea that all you have to do is play for 60 minutes a day to be physically fit, that’s something the NFL is promoting across the country. Kids can also read 20 minutes a day and make themselves stronger mentally and build their character.”

Writing books was a suitable part of the retirement plan for Green, now 52 and living in New York. He’s also a licensed attorney.

Green’s first book, “Ruffians,” came out around the time he retired from the league in 1993. He wrote 16 adult books before being approached by Harper Collins about writing for a younger audience. He never knew the move would be life-changing.

“The difference? I love the audience,” he said after reading to the Parkside students. “I love kids getting excited about reading.”

Soon, an idea was formed to combine the NFL’s Play 60 program with a reading component. A world-class athlete himself, Green said it was a natural fit to incorporate exercise into his reading sessions at schools across the country. And many states have begun programs pushing children to read 20 minutes a day outside of the classroom, which has been proven to improve literacy, listening skills and academic performance.

“My mission,” he said, “really is to get them to read.”

The NFL has committed more than $325 million to Play 60. To date, more than 73,000 schools have had programs created for more than 38 million students.

“We are thrilled former NFL players like Tim Green are positively impacting our youngest fans by encouraging kids to stay active and live healthy lifestyles,” an NFL spokeswoman said via email.

During his Atlanta trip, Green also read and gave out books at other schools. Some of his trips are funded by the schools he visits. From those earnings, he buys books for those at less-fortunate stops.

“That’s why I do it,” Green said after passing out copies of a book to the students at Parkside. “I love seeing that reaction to know that kids are enjoying my stories. I do well enough to where I don’t have to ask them to buy books.”


Marlon A. Walker – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution