Cross-trained Riley Shields goes from softball pitcher to hockey goalie

August 19, 2014

Six ways from Saturday - I don’t know if I’m coming or going or when push comes to shoving. Sports saturation on a Saturday is a good thing for the sportswriting photojournalist that I aspire to be. Last weekend, there were venues I couldn’t get to. That's what happens when you combine too many crowded-in events coupled with traffic that is permanently snarled like a Rastafarian Ridgeback. This Saturday, Aug. 23, is my oldest son Dave’s birthday - no cake for him - in addition to the Ed Dean 5K in Bethany, Cape hockey play day at Polytech, soccer team at Kirkwood play day, home football scrimmage versus Middletown 11 a.m., volleyball play day at Cape all day, topped off by the Hispanic Family Soccer League Championship games at Sussex Tech. The women’s game is at 6 p.m followed by the men’s game at 8 p.m. If my entire professional life is covering the diversionary leisure lifestyle of others, what do I do to relax? I watch the Little League World Series on ESPN.

Embrace them all - I have learned the best tactic for a family member who is once or twice removed from a blood-related athlete if not moved out of the house entirely is to embrace the successes of all athletes on a team and not see the world only through your own sort of selfish interest. Many people on the scene are great while others need therapy. As a parent and grandparent and even a player, I have been on all sides of the playing time and be-a-good-teammate issues. It’s tough, and the better the team, the tougher it gets, because lots of talent in motion is hard to evaluate, and perspective is very elusive. The players themselves are pretty good at supporting one another, and many have to deflect postgame criticisms from a parent or uncle who is always second-guessing the coaches. I remember talking to the Cape hockey team in preseason about three years ago as the experienced tribal elder of the working press and telling them, "Always listen to your parents except sometimes, and that sometimes is when they are filling your head with thoughts that undermine the team concept of what we are all trying to accomplish through sports."

Hey Buddy! - Men love each other; just ask their wives. I was talking to a buddy last Saturday who was talking about another buddy who has been a lifelong softball coach, saying, “The guy can’t take the parents anymore. Forget about not liking him; they don’t even like each other." It was batted about among hockey dads that softball parents may be the worst when it comes to the Elvis Costello lyric, “What’s so funny about peace, love and understanding?" It’s more like Lou Costello, “Who should be on first base?”

Kooky kids - Cape hockey got caught without a backup goalie to starter Christine Gooding, as 39 field players went into the witness protection program. Some successful coaches build their program from the back, but most don’t, which is a mistake because you need fearlessness, quickness and intelligence to play the position in that lunar gravity space suit. Last Saturday, I caught junior Riley Shields in the goalie garb and asked her, “What is up?” She answered, “They needed a goalie," and there you have a high school story and a cross-trained athlete who goes from softball pitcher to field hockey goalie in the same month of the summer.

On the hoof - Only a football coach would say to a fellow tribesman, “We look pretty good on the hoof; we’ll just have to see if we can play and have guys that will go out there and hit people.” Cape has a home football scrimmage Wednesday at 11 a.m. versus Woodbridge. This a good opportunity to see what’s up, and on Saturday at 11, also home, is another opportunity as Middletown comes to Cape, assuming the bus can get through the traffic.

Snippets - The lights in Legends Stadium are 1986 technology; it’s like pulling a Commodore 64 computer out of the closet and saying, “Let’s get down to work.” Champions Stadium lights came with a 20-year guarantee; if a light goes out, the company comes and changes it. Upgrade to white lights - no one looks good moving through the mist of a faded yellow hue.

Taylor Trimmer is a junior field hockey player for the Vermont Catamounts. Trimmer helped Cape win a state title in 2011.

The Taney team from Philly came back in their last at bat to beat Texas 7-6 on Sunday night. They play Las Vegas on Wednesday and the odds are long as the team from Mountain Ridge Little League looks like the best bet to win the American bracket and probably face Japan for the championship. This sure beats watching preseason football. Go on now, git!