Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dream Big

I always said I wouldn't lose sight of my blog, I promised I would maintain a consistency of posts from week to week, and for the past few months I have lost the purpose of my original goal. Weeks pass, and although I mean to blog at some point, I have no determination to. However, today in school through a school assembly was I able to pick up the pieces of my neglected writing.

As part of a service learning project done by two students, a speaker from the organization, Rachel's Challenge visited Salem High School. For those that don't know, Rachel's challenge is a nation wide program that tells of the remarkable story of Columbine victim Rachel Scott. Not only do students learn about Rachel's foundation for compassion and kindness, but truly learn how to make a difference in their high school as well as instills the want in students to have a positive influence.

Throughout the presentation, the speaker would occasionally tell a story or two about people who have approached him following various assemblies. When talking about the importance of setting goals as Rachel did, he recalled the time when Michael Jordan had spoken with him following his presentation. From his back pocket, Jordan revealed a journal. In the journal was an endless list of goals he wished to accomplish. The ones that had been accomplished were highlighted in yellow, and the ones that were not yet obtained remained in black ink. Jordan started the journal the day after he was cut from his high school basketball team. The speaker gives a statement Jordan used during their conversation, "We can't lose sight of our goals. We have to teach these kids to dream big again." As part of the program, the importance of setting goals for oneself is taught. Although not the message of the program, there can be no success without an initial goal.

I guess under the circumstances, I'm dreaming big again.

For more information on Rachel's Challenge please visit their website:


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What's That Strange Smell?

As I have not found time recently burdened by my busy schedule, something happened last Friday night that struck me, and immediately I knew I would have to blog about it. 

No different than any other Friday night, my friends and I piled into one of my friend's cars and headed to the stadium for the football game. As always the trunk is piled to the roof with baseball equipment. As we settled into the car one of my friends remarks: "What's that strange smell?" I personally noticed nothing peculiar about the scenario and hadn't a clue what he was talking about. My other friend responded instantly: "Oh that smell? That's baseball". As I quickly noticed the smell myself, I had realized my friend was right. The car had acquired the smell of baseball. 

Although baseball does not literally have its own scent. It is a scent that is keen in the mind of anyone who has ever walked out onto a baseball diamond. The smell of grass, freshly turned dirt, and sweaty uniforms all concoct together to make that distinct smell of baseball. The smell itself stays with you forever, and at every field, stadium or dome, the smell is exactly the same. 

In addition to the clangs of bats, movement on the base paths, and the occasional snap of gum and punch of a glove, this baseball smell is essentially part of the game. It's almost a rule of the game itself or something that "just is", its not intentionally put there and we don't question it other than in this case. Before every Little League game right before the first pitch I would inhale a long deep breath in through my nose. The scent would be picked from my brain knowing almost instantly what that smell is, baseball. And at this moment, I knew I was in the right place. Whether you may be a fan, player, coach, or merely just a "passer byer" of the game, we all know that distinct smell that continuously calls us back to the sport we love. 

"People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball.  I'll tell you what I do.  I stare out the window and wait for spring."  ~Rogers Hornsby

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Matter Of Life and Death.. and If You Don't Win It's Death!

With the leaves changing color, and as children go back to school, every high school student knows that means one thing; the beginning of high school sports. Although a matter of opinion, it is pretty inevitable that football reigns king during in the fall. In every city, and in every state around the nation, people from small towns to big cities flock to their local high school stadiums to support the team.

I've always marveled how a simple yet entertaining sport to some is transformed into a religion to others. In small towns all along the Southern United States, high school football is THE only thing that matters to these small southern towns. At meager ages of seventeen and eighteen years old, kids in these beyond serious football programs are put on the same level as professional athletes by those that watch them on the field on Friday nights. In today's sports world, high school athletics, especially football is being viewed more and more. The hit T.V. show Two A Days was a series on MTV that went inside a high school football team from Hoover High School in Alabama. It was truly stunning to see a city devoted entirely to a high school football team. The practices and program as a whole from other schools do not compare with the programs constructed at these high schools. The athletes seemingly don't stop training, practices are run all year long and during the season players are expected to practice twice a day, before and after school. 

High school football is literally a way of life for these towns. And, with a win comes praise for players and coaches until the next Friday, but with a loss brings a burden of questions and harsh remarks from fans. The only problem is, the fans and the city are all in the same. It is almost a no brainer that in these football programs if a team does not produce results, a new coaching staff can be expected the following season. It seems a silly concept that a football team and politics are almost identical. The towns containing these programs are almost in their own little world, electing a quarterback or coach is almost like electing a mayor or senator for anywhere else. High school football is closely watched all over the nation. To some a social event and to others a way of life. Some of us just watch, while others eat, sleep, and breathe high school football. 

Saturday, September 4, 2010

ABDE.. Wait? Wheres the C

In all sports, there is always one, if not several members of any team are given the responsibility to lead his or her team throughout a season.  The dictionary defines "captain" simply: "the person in command of the ship" and in this case the team on and sometimes off the field. Personally, in order to be a captain one must portray not only skill and a desire for the sport but must be disciplined and have a remarkable character as well. Keeping in mind however, a captain is not always the most skilled player, but should be a player that possesses outstanding leadership qualities. Regardless of who the captain on any particular team may be, the coach or other players have nominated this person for a reason, and for this reason alone should that player(s) be captain.

At Lincoln Sudbury High School (LSHS), the role of captain will no longer be present in any part of the athletic program at the school. You must be wondering, that this decision is for a good reason. However the cause of this action is in fact unbelievable and childish. In order to "not hurt other players' feelings", captainship will not be aloud at LSHS. According to local newspapers and athletic director, it was a complaint made by a number of parents, who felt as though those who have received captainship have done it in an unfair and in an unsystematic way. In stead of captains, the decision has been made by the AD to allow a board of students willing to volunteer, as part of a sports leadership committee, students of any age are aloud to join.

It seems as high school sports grow more and more popular we see parents getting more and more involved and often times in ways that are more negative than positive. As part of a recurring issue in sports programs, negatively involved parents wish to control everything from playing time of their child all the way to who gets hired as coach. In this particular case, we have seen that parents have pushed their "issue" so far that a change was made. Whether or not the change was for the better, or for the right reason is debatable.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

For the Love of the Game

As the month of August draws to a close students and teachers around the globe have their minds wrapped around the idea of school approaching only days away. With the summer days slowly falling behind us, we find ourselves losing our fight and exuberance for the excitement and freedom of summer. Our "get up and go" attitude slowly diminishes, for we know school is just around the corner. However, there are still two hundred some odd kids still thriving in the summer sunlight and in the night's warm breezes. In the town of Williamsport, PA, there is a haven for any child that loves the game of baseball, and for these two hundred kids, it is a dream come true.
From all over the world kids from the age of eleven to thirteen, contend yearly in regional tournaments in hopes to make it to Williamsport and to the Little League World Series. There are fifty thousand Little League programs around the world, and only sixteen make it to the coveted fields of Williamsport.

To some there is nothing greater than professional sports. However, in professional sports today there is cheating, scandals, and greed. There is only one thing that drives these little leaguers to play the game of baseball, love. It is undoubtable that in every little leaguer's heart contains a love for the game of baseball. Instead of being driven by money, fame, and records, these kids are seen playing the game with a passion that we see rarely in professional athletes, the drive that every athlete once had. Williamsport has players striving toward victory that is driven by a love for a game that they hope will never come to an end.
As the LLWS drew to a close today with Japan defeating Hawaii in the championship game, the kids from the sixteen teams will return to ordinary life and begin to ready themselves for the upcoming school year and Williamsport will only be a memory they will someday share with their children.

For most, the summer of 2010 was an ordinary summer, but to two hundred-forty kids it will be a memory that will last a lifetime.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Dedication To Kevin Fennell

On Friday night at the A's game, more than just a lesson on how to pick up girls was learned by anyone who picked up on it. As much of a sports maniac as I am, I'm probably the only one who connected the dots in such a way. I recall a lesson, strategy, or whatever you want to call it from the ball boy. For those of you who missed it, as foul balls gradually rolled to the ball boy Kevin Fennell, he nonchalantly walked over to the stands and gracefully gave the baseballs to the women sitting a few rows back, Jackie Lynch. Four balls were fouled off near Fennell and all four went not to the countless children sitting near by, but to Lynch. By the end of the night, Fennell did indeed receive her number and plans to go on a date tonight to Lynch's favorite restaurant. Clearly a successfully planned scheme by Fennell. What can i say, the kids got balls.

Back to the whole connection to sports thing. If Fennell hadn't taken the risk in the first place there would be no success. Sure, if there was no attempt there would be no failure, but without risk there can be no success. Risk is to me what makes sports, sports. If every team and every athlete out there played it safe, there would be no draw to the games that we love as fans. The sole factor to "interesting" games is the ability of both athletes and mangers to take risks during the game.

There comes a point in every game when a manager/athlete must make a game altering decision, to dive for the ball or let it one hop to you, to sub this player for that player or leave him in. Sports are built around a persons ability to change the game itself. Although we find that some risks hinder the team's shot at winning, the mistake helps the opponent to gain an advantage for the time being. In this case, we see a huge risk has paid off and from an unsuspected "player", if he qualifies as such. Hats off to Kevin.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

And With The First Selection In The 2010 Draft...

In an endless world of sports comes an endless world of opinions on sports. With every action and outcome in sports comes a reaction of those who watch. Every Average Joe out there that watches sports or at least has  an interest knows that their opinion differs from the next Average Joe. So one would think, that a sixteen year old aspiring writer, that both plays and watches sports must have an opinion like the rest of them.
This is undoubtably true.
With every pitch, pass, and punt follows an opinion only moments after being concocted in this very head. There is only one thing in this world that makes my mind tick in such a way, sports.

There is only one purpose and one purpose only of this blog and that is to practice. I was told on countless occasions "no newspaper or magazine will hire a sports writer that doesn't know how to write". If one day I wish to become a writer, a little practice is needed. Hopefully, at some point the practice pays off.  As said before, every watcher of sports has an opinion, mine can be found here. From soccer pitches in England to baseball stadiums in California, I am likely to have an opinion.

The way I see it, everyone needs to start somewhere. Athletes and writers alike all start somewhere. Athletes in backyards and playing fields and writers at desks or on computers. My career starts here, on the blog.

I suppose no progress is made without criticism, comments, or God forbid complaints. I  am looking forward to reading comments from anyone who has the interest in reading. Hopefully, this post is only the first of many as I hope to begin an endless chain of sports blogging.