Cape Crushers may Bristol Stomp Cape Lite

Coaches in back are Troy Virden, Doug Nichols, Barry Betts and Tony Willey. Players in row three are (l-r) Jillian Martin, Haley Rauch and Hannah Jones. In row two are Kaisey Reed, Hannah Betts, Ashley Nichols and Kaeli O'Neill.  In front are Elissa Leach, Jordyn Virden and Reagan Jackson. SOURCE SUBMITTED
July 17, 2012

Bristol Stomp! The Cape and Canal softball teams were hiding under car roofs on rubber wheels July 15 evening, riding out a thunderstorm in Greenwood that produced deafening hail for anybody standing out in the open wearing a batting helmet. The game, scheduled for 7 p.m., began after 8. Cape broke open a 7-7 game after four innings to win going away 13-7, securing the state championship for major league softball girls. The automatic berth in the Eastern Regionals scheduled to begin in Bristol, Conn., Friday, July 20, was suddenly not so secure as a squall of controversy circled the Cape team. Evidently the Little League tournament conflicts with a travel ball World Series Tournament in Salisbury, Md., the same weekend.  Some players - maybe half the team - also play on the aptly named Cape Crushers.  Some parents were already committing to the travel side of the street, creating a conflicted championship moment.  Hail, hail, the gang’s all not here?

Step up or step off? - Young people in sports sometimes make wrong decisions that basically haunt them forever. An athlete can miss a free throw, boot a routine ground ball, drop a sure touchdown pass, miss a wide-open net in overtime.  All are part of the game, remembered forever but forgiven instantly. But up and walk away from a team and your buddies will never let you up; you will always be “that person.” It isn’t fair - part of being young is being dumb - but I could easily name 50 Cape athletes over 30 years of sports coverage who walked away from teammates, and that has become their signature statement of a lifetime.

Championship quitter - The time was December 1963, the high school football city championship of Philadelphia and the place was a snow-covered Franklin Field as 35,000 fans took sides in a religious war featuring the Catholic combatants of Bishop Egan versus those pagan public school kids from Roxboro. Egan coach Dick Bedesem, later head coach at Villanova, benched our starting defensive right tackle in the first half because the Roxboro Polish left tackle was driving him like an El Camino on the way to a sock hop. The kid quit the team at halftime. The coach cried, teammates shouted, “Freak him and the El Camino he rode in on!” The game ended in a tie, proving God is not Catholic but ambivalent.

Testimony from 40 years away - I passed the most incredible hour at a sports banquet I ever experienced while sitting in a chair keeping quiet. Athletes from the 1971-72 track teams of Tom Hickman came to the podium July 15 in the Cape cafeteria one at a time to talk about their coach and what he has meant to them as they reflected back 40 years on who they were then from where they are now. “Awesome” was the most frequent word used to describe the breakfast ceremony to celebrate Coach Tom Hickman’s inclusion into the Legends Stadium Ring of Honor. The event was recorded and should become part of an in-service for coaches to reinforce the power embedded in the privileged position given to anyone honored with the title Coach. Here is a quote from Gay Knapp Marini after the event: "It was so very moving, what Hickman has done, how many lives he has touched and changed for the better. So very emotional watching the state Cape track teams of '71 and '72 talk about a man that taught us how to be better human beings and that made us all proud to be from Cape.” Catch the word "us." Gay was and still is on the Cape team.

Cape Crusaders - The Cape Crusaders fourth-grade team coached by Rodney White placed third at the Boo Williams National Tournament held July 5 to 8 in Hampton, Va. The team won five straight before losing, then came back to beat a team from New York by 20 points for the third-place trophy.

Snippets - “You know what you should do? “ “No, what?” “Hey, make sure you don’t forget to recognize the following people...” “I recognize them, don’t worry.” “Be sure to mention how we’re related to the family and how...” Man, organizing an event then emceeing the affair requires a suggestion box; it’s a good thing I can think on my (one good) foot. Mike Mock, the Cape principal who battled the cantankerous track coach Tom Hickman, then put up with me for another 10 years, was at the Hickman celebration Sunday, and after a kidney transplant from his son John and pushing 70 years old, still looks like he could hurt somebody. Coach Tony Georgiana, 92, a charter member of Legends Stadium, was there, all tan with perfect hair and hanging with his homeboys. Coach Bob Edgerton, who always looks the same, was also there and was thanked by Emory Howell for being his first track coach back in middle school. Coach Edgerton asked me to look into the coaching career of Ed Hurley of Rehoboth High School, which I intend to do. Here comes the Kenny Lingo shooting-from-the-corner stories. Go on now, git!

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