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Matt_Brown/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Christmas came a little late for a volleyball player at the University of Louisiana Monroe.

Albany Schaffer, a junior walk-on on the ULM Warhawks volleyball team, thought she was attending a regular team meeting when she got a surprise that will change her life.

#NewProfilePic pic.twitter.com/c84xhSHUHj

— Albany Schaffer (@albschaffer21) October 2, 2018

Schaffer’s coach Russ Friedland had each player on his team draw a teammate's name out of a hat and write them an encouraging note. They went around in a circle and read them out loud, saving Schaffer for last.

What Friedland's team didn’t know was that he had availability for one more full scholarship for the spring, and when Schaffer read her note, it was much more than just words of encouragement.

“You are and have been one of the most hard-working and dedicated players on this team,” the note read. “You are a great teammate and leader in this program. Today, your hard work pays off for the spring semester of 2019.”

Schaffer covered her mouth in shock and fought back tears to get through the last sentence: “You’re going on full athletic scholarship. Congratulations.”

Today, @albschaffer21 was rewarded for the unbelievable work she puts into our team! So proud of the example she sets for us each and every day! #signed #fullride #scholarship⁠ ⁠ @NCAAVolleyball @NCAA @AVCAVolleyball @espn @espnW @SunBelt @ULMWarhawks @ULM_Official pic.twitter.com/XFARrtKYg0

— ULM Volleyball (@ULM_VB) January 15, 2019

What Friedland's team didn’t know was that he had availability for one more full scholarship for the spring, and when Schaffer read her note, it was much more than just words of encouragement.

“You are and have been one of the most hard-working and dedicated players on this team,” the note read. “You are a great teammate and leader in this program. Today, your hard work pays off for the spring semester of 2019.”

Schaffer covered her mouth in shock and fought back tears to get through the last sentence: “You’re going on full athletic scholarship. Congratulations.”

"I kept clicking on the screen because I thought my phone was frozen," Schaffer said. "My mom is never quiet, so that was new to me too. She was speechless."

Schaffer also called her dad who responded, “Oh, Albany! That is so awesome!”

Her teammates yelled in the background of the calls, “Yeah, Albs! You deserve this so much!”

"They were being the greatest teammates ever telling me how happy they were for me," Schaffer said. "Everyone was coming up and giving me hugs."

“Albany is one of the hardest working players on and off the court,” Friedland said. “She’s very eager, hungry to learn and isn’t afraid of being challenged. She’s the teammate everyone knows has their back.”

"I was working as a waitress in the offseason and trying to pick up shifts to pay rent. Even little things like books get expensive and a lot of times I'd have to share with someone," Schaffer said. "With this scholarship, I can really just focus on volleyball and school."

More than just some of the financial pressure being off, Schaffer said this scholarship is the icing on the cake of a long time dream.

"Ever since I was little it was my dream to play Division 1 volleyball," Schaffer said. "I feel like I'm exactly where I need to be."

Congratulations and keep up the great work, Albany!

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Jeff Kravitz/AMA2018/FilmMagic For dcp(NEW YORK) -- After weeks of rumors and silence, a couple of this year's Super Bowl performers are speaking out about their roles in the game and the controversy surrounding both the national anthem and the halftime show.

Maroon 5 has been criticized for accepting the halftime gig in the wake of the NFL's treatment of Colin Kaepernick, who took a knee during the anthem in 2016 to protest social injustice. Since then, the former 49ers QB became a free agent and hasn't been picked up by any NFL team, which many feel is unfair targeting of him because of his political stance, not his performance.

As a result, Maroon 5 reportedly had a hard time finding guests to join them for the event. After finally signing on, Travis Scott and Big Boi received the same criticism for agreeing to perform at the game.

Meanwhile, it was announced Thursday that Gladys Knight would sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the big game. She spoke to Variety and said it's unfortunate that the anthem and Kaepernick's protest have become conflated.

"I understand that Mr. Kaepernick is protesting two things, and they are police violence and injustice," Knight wrote in her statement to Variety. "It is unfortunate that our National Anthem has been dragged into this debate when the distinctive senses of the National Anthem and fighting for justice should each stand alone."

Knight goes on to say, "I am here today and on Sunday, Feb. 3 to give the Anthem back its voice, to stand for that historic choice of words, the way it unites us when we hear it and to free it from the same prejudices and struggles I have fought long and hard for all my life ... I have been in the forefront of this battle longer than most of those voicing their opinions to win the right to sing our country’s Anthem on a stage as large as the Super Bowl LIII."

She closed with the hopes that the anthem can unite, not divide next month.

"I pray that this National Anthem will bring us all together in a way never before witnessed and we can move forward and untangle these truths which mean so much to all of us,” she said.

“I am proud to use my voice to unite and represent our country in my hometown of Atlanta,” Knight said https://t.co/kfYnJOIVxl

— Variety (@Variety) January 18, 2019

Super Bowl 53 will take place at Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium Feb. 3.

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Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images(LOS ANGELES) -- The Los Angeles Angels have reportedly reached a deal with reliever Cody Allen to be their closer next season.

Citing league sources, ESPN reports the Angels and the right-handed free agent have agreed on a one-year contract, which is pending a physical.

Allen, 30, has been with the Cleveland Indians since he began his MLB career in 2012. While he had a subpar season last year (4.70 ERA with 27 saves), he has racked a 2.98 ERA and 149 saves during his time in the majors.

At the end of the 2018 season, Allen elected to become a free agent.

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iStock(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Thursday's sports events:

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Washington 101, NY Knicks 100
Charlotte 114, Sacramento 95
Philadelphia 120, Indiana 96
Toronto 111, Phoenix 109
Denver 135, Chicago 105
OT L.A. Lakers 138, Oklahoma City 128

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Boston 5, St. Louis 2
NY Islanders 4, New Jersey 1
NY Rangers 4, Chicago 3
Toronto 4, Tampa Bay 2
Anaheim 3, Minnesota 0
Winnipeg 5, Nashville 1
L.A. Kings 2, Dallas 1

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL
(5) Gonzaga 73, Loyola Marymount 55
(6) Michigan St. 70, Nebraska 64

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Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office(PALM BEACH, Fla.) -- He hasn't played in the NFL since 2007, but Tony Beckham proved he can still deliver a hit when it comes to protecting his family.

The 40-year-old Beckham said he caught an alleged peeping Tom outside his Palm Beach County, Florida, home leering through the bedroom window of his teenage daughter and fondling himself.

"We had a good conversation," Beckham, 40, told ABC affiliate station WPBF-TV in Palm Beach County of the stranger.

During the "conversation," the suspect, 48-year-old Geoffrey Cassidy, suffered a black eye and fractures to his face, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.

Cassidy was arrested and booked at the Palm Beach County Jail on suspicion of lewd and lascivious behavior. He was being held on $1,500 bond Thursday, according to jail records.

Beckham said he was leaving home for work about 6:40 a.m. on Monday when he saw the peeper standing outside his daughter's bedroom window with his pants partly down and masturbating.

"I couldn't believe it. I was just like, 'Is this for real?" Beckham said. "I thought I was getting punked, like this isn't happening."

He said he yelled at the man who took off running.

Beckham, a former defensive back for the Detroit Lions and Tennessee Titans, quickly caught the man and held him for police.

"I'm sorry that it happened to me. I'm sorry that it happened to him," Beckham said. "He's never going to do that again on this side of town."

Beckham said he's worried that Cassidy has done this before.

"If he was brave enough to do it right here, I know it is not the first time he has done that before," said Beckham, adding that he wants to make the community aware of Cassidy.

Beckham's wife, Amanda Beckham, told WPBF-TV that she's concern about why Cassidy allegedly targeted her family.

"I don't know if this was his first time coming here, if he's been here before or where he's seen us or how he picked us out, but it's scary," she said.

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Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- After trying it out last season, the NBA Referees Association will be answering questions in real time on social media during two upcoming games.

The idea was tested out during last seasons' finals. Fans can tweet questions to referees at their official Twitter account, @OfficialNBARefs, or by using the hashtag #RefWatchParty. Officials watching the games would respond from the official account, pointing out incorrect calls and answering questions from fans.

This season, the NBA league office is working with the referee union on the project. Refs will now be watching games at the NBA's replay center in Secaucaus, N.J. There, they'll have access to all the camera angles available to on-duty officials so that they can accurately answer questions.

Fans can tweet their questions during Monday's Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Lakers matchup, or during Wednesday's San Antonio Spurs at Philadelphia 76ers game.

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Phil Ellsworth/ESPN Images(NEW YORK) -- Fresh off of a successful 2018 season, Tiger Woods is set to make his debut at next week's Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.

Woods will enter the tournament as the 12th-ranked player in the world, after winning the Tour Championship in September. The 43-year-old has not played in an official event since the victory. 

 The tournament starts on Jan. 24th. It will feature a competitive field, including defending champion Justin Day and top-ranked golfer Dustin Johnson.

Woods has only announced one other tournament appearance for 2019 -- the Genesis Open at Riviera. It's run by his foundation and begins on Feb. 14th.

 

Trust us, you don't want to miss this! 🐯 Buy your tickets now > https://t.co/VymU2A0bBo #SeeYouAtTorrey #FIO19 pic.twitter.com/vTXqbDDWZa

— Farmers Ins Open (@FarmersInsOpen) January 16, 2019

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Anthony Causi / ESPN Images(OAKLAND, Calif.) -- Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry made history from beyond the arc Wednesday night.

In the Warriors’ matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans, Curry knocked down nine 3-pointers, becoming the first player in NBA history to sink eight or more 3-pointers in three consecutive games.

Curry finished the game with 41 points, helping the Warriors beat the Pelicans, 147-140.

Another NBA record was also set during Wednesday night’s game: A total of 43 3-pointers were made between both teams, marking the most ever in a single game.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The UCLA gymnast who nailed a flawless floor routine that has been viewed tens of millions of times opened up about the body shaming she has faced as a gymnast and how she reclaimed her joy in the sport.

Katelyn Ohashi, a 21-year-old senior, said she faced body shaming since the age of 14.

"In the gym, outside of the gym, on the internet, so it’s something that you can never really escape," Ohashi, 21, said Thursday on ABC News' Good Morning America. "As a 14-year-old, it’s kind of hard to cope with, because you’re still developing as a person, and so everything really impacts you."

In addition to the support of her coach at UCLA, Valorie Kondos Field, Ohashi has learned to use poetry to help her cope.

"I am my own size and no words or judgmental stares will let me compromise," Ohashi said on GMA, reading from one of her own poems. Field and Ohashi's UCLA teammates were by her side on Saturday when she flipped and did splits during her flawless floor routine at the 2019 Collegiate Challenge in Anaheim, California.

The video of the performance posted by Ohashi's team, the UCLA Bruins, has more than 39 million views and counting.

Ohashi performed to songs by Tina Turner and Earth, Wind and Fire, as well as the Jackson 5 and Michael and Janet Jackson. Her teammates could be seen in the background, cheering her on and even performing bits of her choreography.

"Every time I get on the floor, that’s always been my favorite part of gymnastics, and being there with my team and my coach and being able to see them dancing with me, it just feels like home," Ohashi said on GMA.

One of Ohashi's tumbling passes in the floor routine was such a high level of difficulty that the team had to resubmit it in competition because "it wasn't in the code of points," according to Ohashi.

Her flawless routine was her fourth career perfect 10 on the floor, according to the UCLA Bruins.

Prior to her reign at UCLA, Ohashi spent four years on the USA Gymnastics Junior National Team, even beating out future Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles at the 2013 American Cup.

After suffering a fractured back and two torn shoulders, Ohashi stepped away from the elite circuit. She recalled being told by doctors after the American Cup that she may never be able to compete in gymnastics again.

"It was almost like this weight was lifted off of me, but then at the same time I realized that was the only thing I knew how to do," Ohashi said. "It was taken away from me at the same time."

When Ohashi defied doctors' expectations and returned to competing at the collegiate level, she made sure that she was having fun, according to Field, her coach.

"Her freshman year she comes to us and halfway through our competition season she says, 'I just don’t want to be great again,'" Field recalled. "When we delved into it, she just said, 'When I was great, there was nothing joyful about it. I wasn’t happy so why would I want to go back there?'"

"At that point, I knew I had to earn her trust," Field said.

Ohashi's viral, flawless performances show she has found joy in her re-emergence as a college-level powerhouse at UCLA. A floor routine performance by Ohashi to the music of Michael Jackson also went viral last year.

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Stanley Weston/Getty Images(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) -- Louisville, Kentucky's airport is now the greatest of all-time -- well, according to its namesake.

The Louisville International Airport, one of the busiest in the country for cargo transport, is now the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport.

The airport announced the change Wednesday afternoon, saying, "On Wednesday, January 16 2019, the Board of the Louisville Regional Airport Authority voted to meaningfully recognize the legacy of the humanitarian, boxing legend and Louisville native, Muhammad Ali by renaming the airport in his honor."

Ali, the former heavyweight boxing champion and a civil rights icon, was granted the honor one day before his birthday. He was born in Louisville on Jan. 17, 1942 and died in June 2016.

Born Cassius Clay, he changed his name in 1964, the same year he won the heavyweight championship for the first time by defeating Sonny Liston. It was just two years later, though, that he refused to be drafted to fight in Vietnam, was sentenced to five years in prison and was stripped of the title. Though he appealed the criminal case, he was denied a boxing license nationwide and did not fight for three-and-a-half years in the prime of his career.

After the conviction was overturned on appeal, he returned to the ring against Joe Frazier in 1971 in a fight dubbed "The Fight of the Century." Ali lost for the first time in his pro career. He won the title for the second time in 1974 when he defeated George Foreman at the "Rumble in the Jungle."

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer tweeted, "Muhammad Ali belonged to the world, but he only had one hometown."

Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., called the decision "only fitting because he seemed to fly when he was in the ring."

"For millions of people around the globe, our airport is their first impression of Louisville, and I can think of no better way to introduce travelers to our community than Muhammad Ali and the values he embodied and fought for his entire life," Yarmuth said.

The airport will retain its location identifier initials of SDF.

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