Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Kaylee Hoffman did the same thing, but she did it in a game against Scott City. Further more, Hoffman is 17 times the athlete I ever was and had just signed a full-ride basketball scholarship to the University of Wyoming.
Her story, and maybe her legend, came from the 3A state basketball tournament where she played on her busted knee and helped Thomas More Prep win their first girls' basketball title.
So with all that over and done, she gets the surgery and is now rehabbing her left knee back to full strength, but here's the catch; you watch her walk around and, other than the gigantic scar on her knee, she doesn't look like she has any problems.
I hobbled around for months and dropped my crutches once and immediately picked them back up. I don't think she was ever on crutches! She is ahead of schedule with her knee work, which makes the Wyoming coaching staff very happy.
But the TMP coaching staff is still missing her on the diamond. In addition to being an all-state basketball player, Hoffman had a rare opportunity to become a four-time all-state softball player, but the knee is keeping her on bench.
She is still involved and goes to all games but she would rather be in the circle than filling out the book. And they miss her leadership, most of all. Something Wyoming will gain next season.
I even find myself not watching the pros play. I mean if Venus or Roger were playing their final match of their career I would probably watch... but for the most part I pass on the grunts and groans that come from the skinniest of athletes as they hit the ball with all their might.
However, yesterday I covered a tri-match and to say the least, I was surprised by how much fun I had watching those boys.
Dodge hosted Garden and Great Bend so it was 5 and 6A schools, which makes for better competition. Some of those guys could really hit the ball hard.
Of course you had the occasional lobs over the net, but for the most part they were hitting the ball hard.
Andy Larkin from Garden was the most entertaining for me to watch. It seemed like his wicked serve couldn't be returned by nearly everyone he faced. He ended up getting the first place medal for the No.2 singles and helped Garden to a team win.
While I was at the courts I even found myself thinking how I might want to take up the sport. Seems like a great and fun way to break a sweat. Now I just need a partner to teach me so I don't swing and completely miss the ball. I'll keep you readers posted how my training goes!!!
I'm glad I gave it a chance!
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Congratulations to Hesston senior Joel Murray, who shot a hole-in-one last week at the Buhler Invitational. His achievement occurred on the 13th hole at The Highlands Golf Club. Joel finished with a score of 83 and earned a medal.
An interesting story unfolded Saturday when the Wichita East and Wichita North swimmers faced off in a dual. The teams have a controversial history since last year’s City League meet. It appeared North had won the league tournament, but some of the Redskins jumped in the water to celebrate before the race was over. That resulted in a disqualification for the event – and handed East the league title. On Saturday, the Aces’ 99-71 victory over North kept them undefeated in the league this season.
League tennis is heating up in the area. The City League tournament will be Saturday, May 1. Several other league tournaments – many featuring top-five teams in the coaches’ rankings – will be Monday, May 3. They include the Ark Valley Chisholm Trail Division I, featuring top-ranked Hutchinson; the AVCTL Division II, featuring ranked teams McPherson and Winfield; the Central Plains League, featuring ranked teams Wichita Independent and Conway Springs; and the Mid-Central Activities Association, featuring ranked teams Hesston, Smoky Valley and Wichita Collegiate. Those tournaments should provide several entertaining matches.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
We are into the thick of things in the spring sports season, so that must mean it is time for a little spring football.
K-State and KU will both host their annual Spring Game's today and a slew of local talent will be making their case on the gridiron this season.
One of the most intriguing players to watch this season will be 2007 Wichita Northwest graduate Chris Harper. Harper who initially picked K-State as his school of choice, opted to spend a year at Oregon before deciding to make the trek back to Manhattan. After sitting out last season per NCAA regulations, Harper is expected to make an immediate impact as a wide receiver for the Wildcats this season.
Another pair of Wichita high school graduates will look to continue their success on the field for K-State this season. Kapaun Mt. Carmel product Tysyn Hartman earned honorable mention All-Big 12 honors last season as a sophomore and standout safety for the Wildcats, picking off five passes and recording 54 tackles.
Kevin Rohleder, Bishop Carroll, appeared in all 12 games for the Wildcats last year as a junior linebacker. Rohleder finished with 29 tackles on the year including a career-high five stops against Oklahoma.
Former Garden Plain star Logan Dold spent last season making the conversion from offense to defense after spending the 2008 season as a running back. The junior is also expected to be a contributor on special teams this season for K-State.
The Jayhawks have just one Wichita product on their active roster. Wichita North's Darius Parish will enter his sophomore season after redshirting last year. He saw playing time during his freshman campaign in 2008 recording eight tackles on the year.
Offensive lineman and McPherson native Tanner Hawkinson will look to build off an impressive freshman season. Hawkinson was named a Freshman All-American first-team by the Football Writers Association of America. He was an All-Big 12 Honorable Mention pick by the league coaches.
Other local players on active rosters for K-State and KU:
Anthony Cantele, So., PK, Kapaun
Frank Delarue, Jr., RB, Kapaun
Evan Engwall, So., PK, Derby
Marcus Heit, RFr., LS, Derby
Jordan Voelker, So., DE, Newton
Nick Ward, Jr., OL, Andale
Wade Weibert, OL, RSr., Hillsboro
Jarett Wright, LB, Sr., Newton
Isiah Barfield, CB, Jr., Haven
Jordan Fee, LB, So., Hutchinson
Steven Foster, FB, Jr., Sedgwick
John Millsap, PK, So., Andover
Kale Pick, QB, So., Dodge City
Justin Puthoff, FB, Fr., Goddard
Riley Spencer, OL, Fr., Hesston
Huldon Tharp, LB, So., Mulvane
Friday, April 23, 2010
I have ironically working on this blog all week, and it all came to a head last night at Wichita Heights in the girls soccer game between Heights and Kapaun. After spending the last week doing my best to stick up for the brave men and women who officiate games, I couldn’t believe my ears last night.
Alright, now gather round. It’s story time!
From the time I arrived at Heights, the only words out of my mouth were, “I’ll take a hamburger, thanks,” at the concession stand during halftime.
So you can imagine my surprise in the middle of the second half when a linesman passed me running down the field and said, “You had better not be talking camera man! One more word and you are leaving!”
“Did you say something?!”
This exchange was followed by a smug look on his face that nonverbally said, “Just give me a reason pal. I heard what you said.”
Now, I have no way of knowing what he thought he heard me say. It was about the same time a fan in the stands behind me made a crack comparing the referee’s white beard to Santa Claus. Maybe that was it.
I don’t know.
The reason I got into sports writing is that I love competition. Every time I go to a game, I am hoping to see a close, competitive contest. And the Heights 3-2 win over Kapaun was a great game.
But believe me when I say that I really have no rooting interest in the outcome of a game as far as who wins.
The unbelievable assumption by this linesman, was not only was I going for one team over the other, but that I was emotionally invested enough to be yelling at a referee.
I tried to talk to the linesman after the game in an attempt to get to the bottom of what happened. But he bolted instantly and I didn’t get the chance.
The following is what I had been working on all week leading up to this incident. It is not something taken away from one game, but my observations over the course of three years of covering sports.
In the last three years of covering all types of sports in every season, I can count on one hand the number of outcomes that weren’t, “the ref’s fault.”
I cringe to think of the trillions of people who have spent the entire drive home furiously, red in the face, veins throbbing, blaming the result on an, “incompetent,” referee.
There comes a time when a ref owes an official explanation of a decision they have made. And believe it or not, there is a person designated to demand that explanation; the head coach.
Not the players, not the student section, not dad, not mom, especially not the camera man, and not anyone but the one and only head coach. If you are not the head coach, settle down a little bit.
One of my favorite things to see is both sides of a venue mercilessly voicing displeasure over the way a game is called. I am standing on one sideline, so I can only hear that side clearly.
But when the far side screams something at an official, the near side will scoff at how foolish those idiots over there are, right before taking a deep breath and pulling the trigger on an equally absurd statement.
Believe me. You sound exactly like those folks on the other side. You aren’t any more holy, or clever.
Take it from a truly impartial observer, you sound ridiculous when you let the ref have it. And by, “it,” I mean one of a million clichés.
One of the best ref clichés is, “Call It Both Ways.” I get what it means when you break down the English. It is a call for consistency. And because being judged as consistent is the highest praise an official can receive, to be inconsistent must be the biggest putdown.
The problem is, “Call It Both Ways,” has been used so much that it has completely lost all of its meaning. It is simply a vibrating pocket of air. The public release of this phrase should be considered as socially unacceptable as the public release of a similar pocket of air from the other end of the human body.
To give you an idea of how much brain activity that goes into, “Call It Both Ways,” I can, and will always, be able to point to this year’s 5A state championship basketball tournament in Topeka. After hearing a fan say, “Call It Both Ways,” for the 734th time, my curiosity got the better of me. I gathered all my strength and strained to make the tremendous effort it took to shift my gaze to the scoreboard.
The call in question evened up the team fouls at 5-5.
“Call It Both Ways,” indeed.
Another of these clichés is, “How Much Are They Paying You.” This one can take many different forms, but the implication here is that one team or the other has paid off an official in order to get them to throw the game.
Because, even in these hard times, nothing is more lucrative than putting on a striped shirt and fixing high school sporting events.
Exactly how do these transactions go down? Is there a secret exchange of briefcases? Maybe it takes place in a secret mowed clearing in the middle of a wheat field. Are there codes and secret handshakes?
Perhaps there is an underground bidding war before the season starts in a bunker underneath a football field somewhere. I wonder what kinds of precautions are taken to ensure no one is tailed.
Or, are you trying to say that a coach or athletic director has slipped an official a five, 10, or even 20 dollar bill just before the game?
Just right out in the light of day?
I know you are risking your ability to ever officiate again, but here’s 10 bucks. Go get yourself a nice cheeseburger after the game.
Then there is the good old, “What Game Are You Watching.” If the referees are in possession of technology that allows them to be secretly watching TV from the inside of their glasses or contact lenses, I want it! If they are unwilling to share it with me, the least they could do is give me some score updates.
Come on guys, a little common courtesy.
They could be listening to another game on the radio through an ear bud with the wires strategically hidden underneath the striped shirts.
But that wouldn’t be watching another game at all would it. And besides, AM reception inside a gym is tough to come by.
How about keeping it simple with a, “You Have Got To Be Kidding Me.”
Ah ha ha! You should see the look on your face! I got you good! No, but really, there is no foul on the play. I was just razzing you.
Let the game be the game. If a call doesn’t go your way, it is up to the players to pick themselves up and take it out of the official’s hands.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Track Performance Lists
What do you think? Let us know your thoughts on the list. What athletes will make a run at top spots in each class? Is there anybody we are missing?
Sam Bradford will likely go number one to the Rams (unless they trade with the Browns) and even though it doesn't look like it, Bradford could easily turn into the next Ryan Leaf. You remember Leaf, right? The can't-miss-pick that teams and analysts were wondering if he or Peyton Manning would go first. The Colts picked right and the Chargers are still scratching their heads over what happened when Leaf floundered on the field and, worse, off it.
But Leaf is only one of many draft picks that have flopped in the NFL, and the same can be said for college recruits. It's a big guessing game.
Everyone has seen some prep football star dominating opponents, not for one game but for several and recruited to play for KU, K-State or Nebraska. He was a can't miss, had all the measurables and the grades were right on, too. You thought to yourself, "I can't wait to see him on Saturdays!" And then when he is still sitting at third on the depth chart behind someone else, you wonder aloud, "What happened?"
It's a big guessing game. I had a teammate in high school who was all state two years in a row and had multiple full ride scholarship offers. He went to the University of Colorado and wound up being the Big 12 freshman of the year at safety. We all got excited to see him on Saturdays and then, maybe Sundays. Never saw him again. Got into trouble off the field, slipped on the field and never saw his black jersey at Folsom Field again.
Terrible when it happens but it happens all the time. It would be great to look into the future and know whats going to happen but for my knowledge no such device exists.
So for now, the college coaches will keep guessing and hoping they get it right.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Clint played doubles his first three years of high school, but he switched to singles this season since his partner, Jake Brucks, graduated. Clint and Jake placed 10th at the Class 6A state tournament in 2008, and they finished seventh in 2009.
Clint said he has built up every year as the season progressed, and this spring appears to be no different. He placed second in singles April 17 at the McPherson Invitational, where he lost the final to Quinn Dippel, who finished third for Smoky Valley last year at the Class 4A state tournament.
Clint went 3-0 in pool play April 20 at the stacked Maize Invitational. He faced Daniel Ritchie of Wichita Collegiate for the No. 1 singles title. Daniel was the third-place finisher at the Class 3-2-1A state tournament in 2009.
Clint defeated Daniel 8-5 for the victory Tuesday on his home court – a special achievement his senior year. He admitted he wanted a little revenge since Daniel beat him 8-1 earlier this season at a Goddard tournament.
His transition to singles play hasn’t always been easy.
“I’ve definitely been more patient than I was starting off,” he said.
Clint’s goal is to qualify for state and finish among the top 10. That wouldn’t be an usual accomplishment for Clint, but it would be a first for him in the singles bracket.
Clint and Jake were regional champions in doubles competition last year, when Maize won the regional tournament by beating teams such as Goddard and Wichita Northwest. Maize will host its regional in May.
After graduation, Clint will play tennis for Bethel College – where, he pointed out, he will have to compete in singles and doubles.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Tonight a plethora of college coaches and assistants will be in town to watch Perry work out. It's a closed door session of course. Here's a quick list of teams and coaches we know will be around:
Kansas, Bill Self
Kansas State, Frank Martin
Kentucky, John Calipari
Louisville, possibly Rick Pitino
Wichita State, Gregg Marshall
Stanford, Johnny Dawkins
Texas A&M, assistant
That's a pretty impressive list. Especially considering Perry has already gotten offers from at least 5 of those schools.
The best part about this is it couldn't happen to a better kid. Every time I've interviewed Perry, or talked with his parents, or asked his teammates and friends about him, all they've ever been is positive. I understand Perry has excellent grades and he's extremely humble about his game. Very happy for him. And I must say, I'm getting anxious about these guys coming in, can you imagine what Perry must be feeling right now?
Saturday, April 17, 2010
This past season football fields around the City League received turf fields, which was a big deal.
Well a high school in – you guessed it, Texas – is getting a new field as well. And that’s an understatement.
In September construction on Allen High School’s new football stadium will begin. Allen is located about 30 miles north of Dallas. The stadium which will hold 18,000 seats will cost an estimated 59.6 million dollars to build.
The new stadium will have two large scoreboards, a video screen and a sunken horseshoe design to go along with a two level press box. It will also include a “Wall of Honor” plaza, a wrestling workout room, an indoor golf hitting area, multiple concession stands and six sets of restrooms.
The stadium will reserve 4,000 seats in the end zone for students, and 1,000 seats for the band. That must be one heck of a band…certainly has to be one of the largest.
Not that this will be the only nice thing about the school’s facilities. Allen already has an existing multi-purpose athletic building, a natatorium, and state-of-the-art practice fields.
Not bad for a high school if you ask me. From what I’ve been able to gather it seems like “super schools” are the thing in down there. Instead of building multiple schools in a district, they just build a few big ones.
While this gives you the opportunity to see some big-time, high-profile athletes early on, does it take away from the experience of participating or watching high school sports? At these schools there may be over 500 kids trying out for 100 spots on a varsity roster. Needless to say, several of these kids will never get to experience what it was like to play sports in high school.
So, should the City League and area schools like Maize, Goddard, Andover and Andover Central all just consolidate? Make like 15 schools into, let’s say two?
Now that would be wild.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Today I had the opportunity to hear Joe Drape (New York Times writer and author of “Our Boys: A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen,”) speak to a class I am taking at Wichita State.
If you haven’t read this book yet, I highly recommend it. And if you are from a small town, it is a must read.
Drape talked about having the built-in story arc of the 2008 football season, but the football was only the spine to give shape to a story about raising children in a small town. Smith Center head coach Roger Barta has used the football team to build a culture of family in which seemingly everyone in town has a stake in.
Little traditions like the post game Circle Up, end of the year visits to the sixth grade class to get them excited about becoming Redmen in the upcoming year, and the introduction of a youth football program, amongst other things, have all led to a sense of togetherness within the community.
But maybe the most fascinating part of this story is Drape’s gradual integration into Smith Center. When he arrives, he is an outsider, who is more or less indifferent to the wins and losses, beyond what an average season would have done to the storyline.
In perhaps the most intense game of the season, a narrow early victory over Norton, Drape hadn’t been in town long enough to have any of the extreme blood pressure consequences a game like that can have on a fan.
But as the time passes, Drape becomes more and more personally invested. The town welcomes him in, and there is no escaping the fact that he becomes a part of the town as well.
He said he and his wife were on pins and needles watching games at the end of the season.
There was some apprehension from Barta from the beginning. He didn’t want some big city writer to come in and give him the “Friday Night Lights,” treatment. But Drape set out to write an anti-“Friday Night Lights.”
When Drape first came to Smith Center to do a story on the Redmens’ 72 points in the first quarter of a 2007 playoff game, he got a sense that the town was an example of what can happen when things are done the right way. This is the premise of the book.
It uses football as a vessel to show what the town has invested in the growth of its youth. Wins and losses are secondary to making the kids better people every day.
It is not a look into the negative, win at all costs, behaviors that have been used in so many football stories it is a cliché. It is a look at how the sport, and the support of a community, can bring out the best in people.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
But I'm out of high school and I can't tell you the last time I threw a pitch, swung a bat or threw a javelin or ran a mile. (Actually, I ran one this morning at the gym) But I'll tell you what I did swing the other day and several days before that - a golf club.
It truly is the game of the future. And by future I mean your future when you get older. Like me. Everybody does it, whether they are good at it or not, it seems every former high school jock turns to golf when their playing days are over.
And if you are a prep golfer NOW, you already have a jump on the future swingers you will meet at the driving range in the coming years, when college is over.
Now, do not, I repeat DO NOT, put down your mitt or hang up your track spikes and start playing golf right now. Don't do that. But in a few years, when a couple of your friends start golfing and then you want to learn, don't say I didn't warn you.
I personally grew up in a small town, but went to school at a consolidated school. About 1000 students total, and about 200 in my graduating class, so I didn't ever feel the struggle of not having enough kids out for a sports team.
Spearville is starting to feel the pressure of the lack of numbers.
The Lancers baseball team has only 12 players on the team this season. Of those 12 players, seven of them are seniors. So you do the math..... 12-7 = 5. Obviously you can't field a team with only five players.
Which begs the question... Will there even be a Spearville baseball team in 2011?
The really sad part is, kids aren't being lazy and just not coming out for a sport, they just don't have boys in the school. The 2010 freshman class has only four boys in it. That's good for those guys dating ratio... but not so good for a stellar baseball team, or any team for that matter.
Most of the youngsters are positive about getting newcomers out for the team next season. Coaches tell me that the eighth grade class coming to high school next year has parents that really encourage their kids to play sports.
While it won't affect the seniors that are graduating, they are disappointed about the lack of interest in the sport. Those boys are just hoping they can build a winning tradition newcomers want to be a part of.
For the baseball teams sake... Lets hope the Lancers go undefeated this season.
Fawl placed eighth at the state golf tournament his sophomore year, and he finished second last spring in Class 5A competition at Emporia.
He placed third at this year’s McPherson Invitational behind Thane Ringler of Hutchinson and two-time defending state champ Michael Gellerman of Sterling. Fawl repeated the third-place finish Tuesday, April 13, at the Newton Invitational – again behind winner Ringler.
He is coming off a basketball season that concluded with first-team all-league honors for Fawl and a fourth-place finish at state for McPherson. During sub-state and state alone, Fawl averaged 15.4 points, 4 rebounds and 3.4 assists for the basketball team.
I’m really not one to complain, and as a person from a town that is sans baseball diamond, maybe I should keep my big mouth shut.
But can we start to rethink the design on some of the bat and ball complexes?
Covering some games a couple of weeks ago, I was reminded of a trend I would have liked to forget. Four different games were taking place with varsity and junior varsity baseball and softball games all going on at once. And the way the park was set up, all four home plates were tucked in together and facing out.
This setup makes it extremely convenient to jump from game to game, and (most importantly) lends itself to a centralized concessions cart for easy access to delicious hamburgers and beverages.
It also means that as you watch one game, you are sitting directly in the shared foul territory of the three other games with your back turned.
Think Denard Span of the Minnesota Twins giving his mother a souvenir in a spring training game this year.
If you are lucky enough, someone from the other crowd will yell, “heads up,” just in time for you to turn your head in an attempt to spot the incoming projectile, right before it hits you in the face. Or, you can take the hit on the back of the head with no warning and take the pain as you would ripping off a bandage; instantly with no warning.
Me, I’ve been hit in the head enough that it would be hard to incur any further brain damage. And as a former catcher, being pelted with a baseball doesn’t bother me. But using a ton of protective gear to knock down a ball you see coming the whole way is different.
It isn’t just the spectators in danger of getting a knot on their heads like Hasim Rahman after fighting Evander Holyfield.
The games themselves have to be stopped due to baseballs raining down on the softball diamond. This could provide my camera with the opportunity to capture a hilarious lowlight. Or it could provide a situation where no one is laughing but the dentist who just had his overseas vacation paid for.
Most of these diamonds have already been built. The damage is done. But if anybody is considering building a new complex, please consider the fact that balls don’t always stay within the field of play.
If you have ever been drilled with a foul ball, share your story with Catch It Kansas.
Monday, April 12, 2010
There are many champions and quality runners in attendence from all over the Midwest at this meet. Who will you be watching? What events should be classic? Will you make the trip?
Saturday, April 10, 2010
When watching the news, sporting events, etc., I loved it when they’d give us a camera shot of what was going on “behind the scenes.”
I remember when SportsCenter did this a few times a while back, broadcasting the show you would normally see on ESPN, while a whole “behind the scenes” episode was airing simultaneously on ESPN2.
While working at CatchItKansas and KWCH isn’t quite as a big of a production as ESPN, there’s still plenty of things going on behind the scenes.
During the airing of the CIK shows on Friday nights, things get a little crazy. Videos coming in from all over the place, scripts to be written for all of those highlights, and making sure Bruce makes it to his chair in time for the show.
Among other things I’m usually in charge of putting together the 5-Star Performance highlights and script for the show, and a lot of times we don’t settle on our choice until sometime right before the show or during it. So we’re scrambling to pull the best highlights for that player and working to come up with a script all against the clock.
We try to keep it pretty laid back most of the time, but when it comes to game days, you never know what to expect and that’s what makes this job so much fun.
There are a lot of working pieces that have to be in place to make the shows go smoothly, several that never get seen on your TV screen, but it’s worth it when you see the final product or your highlights come across the tube.
Everyone has questions about what goes on behind the scenes, wondering who’s pushing the buttons to make the highlights roll, or how we get video edited in time for the show when the game just ended 20 minutes ago.
So my question to you…what do you want to know about the inner workings of CatchItKansas. Hopefully I’ll be able to help you out.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Last year, Northwest went undefeated in City League duals, including a 5-4 victory over Carroll. However, Carroll prevailed at the league tournament and the squads shared the crown.
Northwest coach Mike Thomas said he knew that Monday’s contest would result in a 5-4 score, but he wasn’t sure if the Grizzlies would be on the winning or losing end. Sure enough, the final tally was 5-4, but Carroll edged Northwest this time. It makes for an interesting league race.
Another tough matchup occurred on the soccer field, where Maize and Kapaun Mt. Carmel battled for the Titan Classic championship Saturday at Wichita South. The Maize and Kapaun girls were state qualifiers last year, and although both teams sustained heavy losses to graduation, they appear to be as strong as ever.
That probably should come as no surprise since Maize and Kapaun each enjoy strong soccer traditions. The score was knotted 1-1 Saturday at the end of regulation and through two overtimes. Like last year, Maize lost the Titan Classic final in a shootout.
Finally, Winfield softball players had reason to celebrate March 30 when they snapped a 32-game losing streak. The Vikings split a doubleheader with Parsons to claim their first win since 2008. Parsons eked out a 3-2 victory in Game 1 on its home field. However, Winfield won the nightcap 8-0.
The Vikings followed up Tuesday by sweeping a doubleheader at Maize South. They will take a three-game winning streak into their April 13 home competition against Derby.
***Quick disclaimer: I went to a private Catholic school in Florida. Pensacola Catholic High***
I am really sick and tired of hearing people whine about how schools like Collegiate and Kapaun and Bishop Miege have such an unfair advantage over public schools in the same classification. I am specifically sick of hearing coaches gripe and complain about those schools and how their teams simply cannot compete for reasons out of their control. Give me a break!
Why am I so upset you ask? Well, the reason didn't really hit me until I covered the Royals opening day on Monday. Trust me, I'll explain.
The Royals lost on Monday the same way they lost last year: strong start from starting pitcher, pathetic showing from relief pitching, slacking off in offensive production. After the game I went into the clubhouse to do the usual post-game interviews with men who make millions of dollars to play a game for their entire lives. My photographer Greg and I made our way over to Billy Butler who was 1-4 in the game with 2 RBI. Butler started saying how we needed to look at some of the positives of the game like how the Royals were able to get 4 runs off the starter Justin Verlander; that that was a big accomplishment. I looked Butler dead in the eyes and asked him, word for word, "Billy, don't take this the wrong way, because yes getting 4 runs off of Verlander is great. But you got zero offense at all off the Tigers bullpen. How is that a positive?" He proceeded to stutter for a minute, look around, and finally concoct a very cliche answer on something or other that I stopped paying attention to after about 5 seconds. There was ZERO accountability in his answer. Nothing. Nada.
How does this relate to the public school vs. private school debate you may ask? It's all about accountability. For years I have interviewed high school coaches and all of them, especially ones in this community, will always give the same stock answer when I ask about really good opponents: If you want to be the best you have to beat the best.
For the last two years, Collegiate has been the best in basketball. Hands down. But so has public school Wichita Heights. Neither of them went undefeated this season. Do you forget so quickly that the Spartans lost to Great Bend in tournament week? Collegiate and Heights are currently the best but they are not untouchable. I personally believe people need to stop complaining and simply get out there and beat the best because it's not impossible. If you lose to a team you only have yourself to blame.
Ok, another argument that's cropping up is that schools in more rural areas have no chance of competing against urban private schools in the same class because they have a smaller population. Again, are you kidding me? Easy response to that: if you are so concerned about your child having a future in athletics, DON'T LIVE IN A RURAL AREA. Either move or stop whining.
Do you know kids aren't require to take economics in high school anymore? Well, I guess you do if you're reading this article. But if you remember your economics classes (how could you forget that torture?) you will remember a simple concept. There are always going to be ebbs and flows in everything in life. Same goes for sports as a whole. Right now Collegiate and Heights are at the top of their games. But what happens next year to Collegiate when that group of seniors is gone? What will happen at Heights when Perry Ellis and Evan Wessel go to college? There are good classes and not so good classes, and right now both of those schools have great classes. It will all change pretty quickly, trust me.
When I was in high school I played volleyball and soccer. My soccer team my sophomore and senior years was pretty solid. By my senior year I had been playing goalie for three seasons and I was pretty darn good. I had been playing with the same defenders in front of me for three seasons and our midfield had only changed for the better with some speedier girls on the pitch. We made it to the regional finals that year only to find out we had to play our arch-nemesis: Bolles. I hate Jacksonville Bolles High School. There are very few things I can say I hate, Bolles is one of them. Honestly, this team did recruit. It was a private boarding school in Jacksonville that gave us athletes like Atlanta Braves stud Chipper Jones. This place is like a fortress. And yes, they were always in our region. That senior year we held them to a 1-0 lead in the first half. After that we were exhausted. We ended up losing 6-0. It was a tough game but it was an end that we were all too familiar with. Losing to Bolles was just commonplace.
So how did we react to that? We were mad at ourselves for losing. We were upset that we didn't condition hard enough, we didn't practice better, we didn't focus enough. Never once did we say, well we just lost because Bolles recruits. It's unfair that Bolles has such good players. No, never said it, never even thought it. We were good but we weren't great. Bolles had a great team and we knew it. We also knew that we could've beaten them if we had worked harder to get there.
What happened to taking accountability for our actions? What happened to working harder instead of complaining about losing? Losing happens, anyone who tells you otherwise is a politician or a soccer mom. And losing isn't the thing that matters, rather it's how you take the loss that shows true character.
Quit blaming private schools for being good in sports recently and start trying to make your team better by working harder.
Also, don't you find it funny that parents and coaches are so up in arms about the athletic advantages of private schools, but not once have the academic advantages ever been a problem for them? Funny how things play out these days.