Photo/ Courtesy United States Sports Academy

Mobile resident Harry R. Fisher, left, recently donated a set of three Olympic art posters by artist LeRoy Neiman to USSA President and CEO Dr. T.J. Rosandich, right, at the American Sport Art Museum & Archives.

Olympic Day is celebrated each year on June 23, marking the date when the modern games were proposed in 1894. The objective of the international celebration is to promote fitness, well-being, culture and education while observing the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect.

Americans began observing the day in 2009, and last year more than 560,000 individuals participated in 2,400 events. Locally, the United States Sports Academy in Daphne is inviting the public to see its large collection of Olympic memorabilia and art from painters, sculptors and mixed-media artists at its American Sport Art Museum & Archives (ASAMA).

The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. prior to Olympic Day this Saturday. The ASAMA collection includes the Olympic Room, which is located in the academy’s library. Many different types of Olympic memorabilia are on display there, including pendants, pins, medals, sculptures, books and manuscripts dating back to the earliest days of the Modern Olympic Games.

In its lobby is a series of prints from Spanish artist Cristobal Gabarron. Shortly after the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, USSA officials commissioned Gabarron to create a piece for the centennial of the Modern Olympic Games. He produced 26 pillars representing each Olympiad since 1896. The pillars are positioned in the shape of a star — patterned after the academy logo — first placed in front of the Olympic MARTA station in Atlanta for the 1996 Summer Games.

The Olympic theme continues at the Sport Sculpture Park outside on the ASAMA grounds. Visitors will find several large sculptures by “found art” sculptor Bruce Larsen of Fairhope. His “Borzov the Sprinter” greets guests at the front entrance. The larger-than-life sculpture — consisting of gears, hoses, a hydraulic cylinder, hubcaps and other found objects — is named for Soviet sprinter Valeriy Borzov, who won gold in a pair of sprint events in the 1972 Munich Olympics. Other Larsen pieces on the grounds include “Nastia,” named after U.S. gymnast Anastasia “Nastia” Liukin, the all-around champion at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The Sport Sculpture Park is also home to an oak tree descended from the saplings given to medalists in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Gold medal sprinter John Woodruff planted his in Connellsville, Pennsylvania. A sapling from Woodruff’s oak tree was later given to the academy. Today, it stands nearly two stories tall.

ASAMA also recently received a donation of three LeRoy Neiman Olympic art posters from Mobile resident Harry R. Fisher.

“I had this wonderful LeRoy Neiman art hanging in my house for many years and I have enjoyed it greatly,” Fisher said. “But now it is time for visitors to the American Sport Art Museum and Archives to enjoy it as much as I have.”

The posters, which feature swimming and gymnastics, were distributed by Fisher’s former employer, ARAMARK, to commemorate the 1988 Summer Olympic Games, which were hosted in Seoul, South Korea.

It is the second recent gift to ASAMA’s Neiman collection. Fairhope resident Jeff Hosterman donated an autographed print of Neiman’s “Portrait of a Tiger” to the academy.

The academy presented Neiman with its 2007 Sport Artist of the Year Award. He was the official artist at five Olympiads, creating on-the-spot images on live TV during the 1972 Summer Games in Munich and the 1976 Summer Games in Montreal. Neiman was the official artist of the Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid in 1980 and in Sarajevo in 1984, as well as the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles in 1984.

Founded in 1984, ASAMA is dedicated to the preservation of sports art, history and literature. The ASAMA collection comprises more than 1,800 works of sport art across a variety of media, including paintings, sculptures, assemblages, prints and photographs. For more information, go to www.asama.org or call 251-626-3303.


Boat ramp reopens

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Marine Resources Division has permanently reopened the Fort Morgan boat ramp. MRD had closed the ramp for renovations in February.

Improvements include the construction of two double-lane launch ramps to allow up to four boats to be launched simultaneously, expanded finger piers to assist with the launch and retrieval of vessels, new shoreline bulkheads and dredging within the immediate basin.

“Boating access is important to everyone here on the Gulf Coast, and we are excited to provide expanded access to the Gulf of Mexico and Mobile Bay from the Fort Morgan peninsula,” said Scott Bannon, MRD director.

For GPS coordinates and directions to the Fort Morgan boat ramp, visit www.outdooralabama.com/ft-morgan-boat-ramp.


Ready for some football?

Organizers have announced the 20th annual Dollar General Bowl will be played on Saturday, Dec. 22, at 6 p.m. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN from Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

It will pit teams from the Sun Belt Conference and the Mid-American Conference. In the 2017 contest, Jalin Moore ran for 125 yards and a career-high three touchdowns as Appalachian State beat Toledo 34-0.

For more information about the game and other events, visit www.dollargeneralbowl.com.


Busy at the beach

Since 2009, the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) has crowned numerous Global Sports World Series champions resulting in approximately $80 million in economic impact for south Baldwin County. This summer, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach will welcome 968 teams to the area for more summer fun and games.

“USSSA reflects the core of our beach visitor base — families,” said Beth Gendler, vice president of the Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Sports Commission. “Each summer, we have the privilege of welcoming thousands of the families to Alabama’s beaches to experience quality competition on the fields and new adventures in the destination. Those guests take home lifelong memories and leave behind economic impact.”

Numerous USSSA world series events take place in June and July at the Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Foley sportsplexes. For information, visit GulfShores.com/Sports, or call 800-745-SAND (7263).