Tracking middle school talent - where does it go?

March 26, 2013

Talent drain - The last three years I have taken photos of the middle school track extravaganza about four times a year on the track at Cape Henlopen High School. Beacon and Mariner are always there with appearances by Georgetown, Millsboro and Selbyville.  What I do know is there is lots of talent that doesn’t show up in high school on several Sussex County teams, leading me to believe this is an underserved athletic population. It's just accepted some high school teams aren’t going to be very good, and it’s kicked back on the kids, who are blamed for not coming out.

Island Boys - I walked past a minivan with the back hatch open on my way to the starting line of the Shamrock Shuffle 5K and 15K on March 23.  A reluctant runner, a big guy like me, took up the entire storage compartment. He was 48-year-old Pat Nasta, who ran the 15K at a 9:07 pace, not too shabby.  His buddies were banging about on the outside cracking jokes and said to me, “Now there’s a picture you should take.” I asked them what part of Long Island they were from and they were amazed. “How did you know?” "Seriously?” I responded.  "My buddy (I got buddies, too) Mike DeStasio is from there, and you guys sound like him, act like him and a couple of you look enough like Mike to be his brothers." The Island Boys said they came to Rehoboth because of all the bars, but real bar guys don’t get up on Saturday morning and slow crawl a 5K. Saturday night, it may have been a different story.

Patrick Peterson - A 53-year- old runner from East Islip, N.Y., completed the Shamrock Shuffle 15K (9.3 miles) at a 7:41 pace, which is pretty good but non-remarkable. Peterson is a former American record holder who ran the London Marathon in 2:10 and finished in the top four in the New York Marathon three times. He told Race Director Tim Bamforth, ”I’m just old and fat now.” Peterson is road racing royalty, anonymously trying to stay fit. If not for Tim’s peculiar knowledge of all things running and jumping, no one would have even known he was in the race.

Guam guy - Former Cape runner and Coast Guard Academy graduate Brett Morris, 23, was in the 5K race as his dad “Mike the Bike” sat by the finish talking about the NCAA wrestling championships.  Brett, who finished fifth, is an ensign who was recently stationed in Guam aboard the Coast Guard buoy tender Sequoia. Brett also just finished Boarding Officer School in Charleston, S.C., which I’m sure involves giving orders to Colombians at sea. “Put the machine gun down; we are coming aboard.” Actually, as per usual, I have no idea what I’m talking about.

Another quick exit - Cape girls' lacrosse team defeated visiting Holy Cross 9-8 March 23, and while the Cape celebration pile was still on the field, Holy Cross coach Jenne Reis was all over the official - something about a time out and yellow card not called. The Tartans joined last year’s one-goal losers at Cape, Episcopal Academy and Severn School, who also left in a huff, deducing the Delaware officials cost them the game. I really don’t know if Maryland and Pennsylvania teams prefer a game called tighter or looser by officials. I do know they play a physical style. Cape battled back from a deficit and rang the bell one more time than the Tartans did, while Sam Broadhurst had 12 saves.

Stereotypes shattered - New Mexico, coached by Steve Alford, started more white players than Harvard, coached by Tommy Amiker, and got beat - which had nothing to do with color, but fans took notice. Florida Gulf Coast beat Georgetown, the highlight of the tournament a lob pass to a flying white dude who went 12 feet up to snag the ball and tomahawk it home. It was just fun to watch. Experts from the field of academics, sports and biomechanics have held symposiums to see if race is a determiner in academic and athletic performance and have concluded, “We have no idea,” but most likely it is more about opportunity and attitude and work ethic of the individual. By the way, Tom “Satch” Sanders, a player on eight NBA title teams with the Celtics, was the first Afro American coach in the Ivy League, coaching at Harvard in the mid-70s.

Snippets - Grand Mom Rose: “Keep your weight loss numbers to yourself.  That way you have less to explain when you pass yourself coming back in the opposite direction." Go on now, git!

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