Cactus to practice, Freds jet back from desert to ocean

July 15, 2022

Cactus to practice - Cape Henlopen head football coach Mike Frederick and Cape Gazette Emeritus Man Dave Frederick were together in Las Vegas last weekend for the wedding of Jackie Frederick Wiatrowski to Damien Brantley, son of Junior Brantley, former keyboardist for the Fabulous Thunderbirds. Mike flew back to be with the Cape team for three days of an overnight football camp at Delaware State University from Monday to Wednesday. I flew back for field hockey open fields Tuesday night. The Allen Iverson practice rant happened in 2002. “We’re not talking about the game, we're talking about practice.” Later, when Iverson was traded to the Phoenix Suns, Philadelphia sports comedian and impressionist Joe Conklin amended the famous rant, “You know what they got in the desert? Cactus, man! Not a flower. We are talking about cactus!”  

M & M’s - Madi Mastriana and Cadence McMahon, rising juniors and hockey buddies, can transition from hot and exhausted to smiling friends at the drop of a hockey hat. Cadence looks cooler because she was not playing at open fields after a day of soccer, while Madi was fresh off the field. Cadence and I talked about all the reasons girls’ soccer should be a fall sport like in all the states surrounding Delaware. Cape hockey and girls’ lacrosse both benefit in different ways because girls’ soccer is a spring sport in Delaware. Hockey because they don’t lose talent to soccer, and lacrosse because upstate soccer powers don’t have athletes freed up to play lacrosse. 

Go hard or go home - I first read that slogan on a field hockey shirt and at open fields at Champions Stadium Tuesday night. It is a reality. Go hard end to end and blue line to blue line or don’t even bother coming; just stay home caressing your water bottle. We ain’t got time for half-steppers and lollygaggers. I don’t know the rules of coaching constraints in the off-season. They are more obscure and difficult to comprehend than the rules governing prayer circles after a game. I know coaches don’t instruct at open fields. Instead, they just provide some organization and supervision. I did hear a player say, “Jesus, Mary and Joseph,” but only after she missed a wide-open cage not guarded by a goalie.  

Tabby Cat - Her name is Tabitha. She is from Ghana and engaged to my great-nephew Jake Frederick Wiatrowski, the twin brother of the bride. I was playing the role of the annoying old guy from back East with a clunky and noisy camera. I framed Tabby’s face and captured the beauty and soulfulness of her personality. I don’t know what she is doing in a sports column, but then again, I’m not sure what I'm doing writing one.

Golden Knights NHL hockey - Anyone can buy a Las Vegas Golden Knights T-shirt, and Sunday it was doubly weird that I was wearing one sitting in the lobby of the Red Rock Casino surrounded by middle-aged men wearing the same shirt and carrying clipboards. They were checking in players for an in-person prospect camp at City National Arena. For players drafted in 2020, 2021 and 2022, it was their first opportunity to hit the ice for Developmental Camp with the Golden Knights. Athletes coming in looked so young and athletic, and I heard a couple young guys causally dropping friendly f-bombs just to make conversation while describing their impressions of Las Vegas. 

Airplane ear - As an airplane descends, it causes the pressure in your inner ear to be temporarily out of balance with the pressure inside the cabin. And the older you are, the more susceptible, and the more you will suffer. I do know Susan and I were the only ones on the plane with fingers in our own ears – wet willy joke book – for like 100 miles. Either that or we were targeted with Havana Syndrome. 

Name droppers - We were standing in a dinner line at the Red Rock Casino talking to a wedding-connected couple we just met. We were explaining that Cape Henlopen is where Mike Frederick was the new football coach and it was the same school where we had taught. Right on cue, a large digital screen flashed a photo of country star Jimmie Allen, who will be appearing at the Sunset Station Outdoor Amphitheater July 29. I said to Susan, “Go ahead, you take it.” Afterward I said, “It’s a weird place where we live. All Black people carry guitars and play country music.”   

Snippets - The Dewey Beach Patrol soft sand relay team, the defending USLA national champions, won the Mid-Atlantic regional competition July 13, with a team of C.J. Fritchman, Hank D’Ambroigi, Mike Frederick and Eid Nouhra. A Sussex County chapter of guards will jetty off to Hermosa Beach, Calif., for the USLA Nationals  Aug. 10-13. LA County won last year with 1,197 points, followed by Sussex County with 717. Cape basketball hired Steve Re back as head coach of boys’ basketball. The Vikings are coming off four straight losing seasons. Re’s last season was 2018, when Cape was 18-2 and the No. 1 seed in the state tournament. But in a Northern Division playoff game versus Smyrna, the issue was “crowd in control,” then “a row and a ruckus” jumped off. There were more videographers than peacemakers. And Cape’s dream season was basically lost. Go on now, git! 


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