On May 6, 2008, the Sports Museum of America (SmA) opened in lower Manhattan with great fanfare. Founded by Philip Schwalb and Sameer Ahuja, SmA is the U.S.'s first museum of its kind to bring together over 25 different sports under one roof. You name it -- figure skating, NASCAR, fishing, lacrosse, hockey, football, softball -- any sport you can think of, SmA will have something interesting on it.
I attended both the opening day ceremony and the evening gala and what a thrill it was to see our sports heroes from all disciplines gathered together! For the night gala, Olympic and World champion Oksana Baiul (see below) arrived with producer and friend Frank D'Agostino. Oksana is currently rehearsing for Cold as Ice, which Frank conceived and co-wrote. Cold as Ice is a musical about three figure skaters hoping to make it to the Olympics, and Oksana plays "Maya." In the show, she skates (of course), acts, and sings(!), which she found "much easier" than skating. Frank also told me that Oksana's work ethic is unparalleled - first person to arrive at rehearsal and last person to leave. Look for Cold as Ice to make its Broadway debut at the end of the year/beginning of 2009.
By the way, this is how gracious Oksana is towards skaters and skating fans, or as she calls us, "my people." I was at the very end of the press line, Oksana and Frank were running late, and when they arrived, they made a beeline for me, knowing that I was waiting to speak to them. After my interview with them, they then doubled back to address the beginning of the press line.
Other sports figures who attended the evening gala included basketball and football greats, such as Earl "the Pearl" Monroe (who brought his lovely wife Marita, and their beautiful daughter, Maya), Charles Smith, John Starks, Rick Barry, Tony Dorsett, Justin Tuck, as well as Olympic gymnast Kerri Strug, jockey Edgar Prado (who won the 2006 Kentucky Derby), cyclist Alison Dunlap, champion water skier Camille Duval-Hero, and track and field greats Bruce Jenner and Carl Lewis, to name just a few. The night gala also included many nonsports celebrities, such as Molly Sims (model/actress from Las Vegas), Judah Friedlander (actor/comedian from 30 Rock), Miss USA 2008 Crystle Stewart, musicians G. Love, and actor Lonny Ross (also from 30 Rock).