Camps, competitions and the cost of being a player

July 26, 2019

My school is broken - Eve Parker is 7 years old; her family is new to the Cape district. I asked her at the GameBreaker Lacrosse camp, "Do you know where you'll be going to school?” She said, “No, I don't, because my school is broken, so I don't know." I think she meant under construction. “All the girls ran a one-lap warmup to start the day at GameBeaker Lacrosse camp and she finished first. She’s a true character,” said her coach Anna Frederick. I also met Annabell Bonk, and told her I knew her dad. Brandon Bonk was a 6-foot-5 long pole defender, an all-state and all-American player at Cape, and a D1 college prospect, but Brandon’s quest was to be a farmer, which is what he does somewhere south of Dover. Bonk’s Cape teams, coached by Mark D’Ambrogi, won state titles in 2001, a 19-9 win over Tatnall, and 2002, an 8-4 over Saint Mark’s, coached by Dave Reynolds. 

Talk the talk - Practices for fall sports start Monday, Aug. 12, sensibly moved forward from Aug. 15, because to start in the middle of the week makes no sense. Lots of talk out there these days coincides with social media postings, but if you can’t walk the walk, the talk part is just that, all talk. I always remember when Bill Parcells took over as head coach of the Cowboys in 2003, a reporter asked him, “Are you ready to build a program?” Coach Parcells snapped, “I’m not here to build anything. This ain’t junior high. I’m here to win, and if I don’t win, I’ll be gone.” Parcells had the star removed from the helmets of Cowboys rookies until they made the team. That tradition continues. I remember when coach Ron Dickerson of Seaford had the S removed from all helmets until the players started playing like Seaford teams past. But look, teams just have to win now, or all the talking in the world isn’t helping anyone because no one is listening. 

Smashing Pumpkins - Let’s shakedown 1979. In the fall season of Cape sports, the Vikings won three state titles, in football, field hockey and boys’ cross country. Cape immediately began to overthink athletic successes as overemphasis and overindulgences. And the school board began listening, instead of responding to critics, “Be quiet; who did you ever beat?” At a board meeting, an angry band parent stood up and complained, “I understand we buy track shoes for the track team, but no one is buying shoes for the band. Why is that?” I was the track coach and I didn’t know how my program became part of the marching band, but I do know running down one to build up another never works out, and Cape, on the heels of its greatest glory, began a slow descent into unnecessary de-emphasis. Field hockey: The state championship team was coached by Carolyn Ivins with a record of 16-0-0, with 15 shutouts and 63 goals scored and two allowed. Diane Travis scored 74 goals in three years. First-team all-conference players were Diane Travis, Adele Mears, Teresa Gruttadauria, Terri Yingling and Delia Clark. Second team was Terry Ward and Corinne Billger. Football: Coached by Jim Alderman, the Vikings went 8-0-2. They beat Saint Mark’s in the semifinals and Caesar Rodney in the championship game. There were only two players more than 200 pounds on that team, with 25 under 180 pounds. Six players from that squad are deceased. They still seem like kids to me even though they graduated from high school 40 years ago.     

Caps, camps and travel - There was talk back in the ’70s that some kids weren’t playing Little League baseball because of the cap fee, otherwise known as the cost to play. Those types of arguments persist in 2019, along with the reasoning that some sports are just boring to some kids, like soccer and baseball. I’m at the age where adult children are over 40, and if they need money for any reasonable reason, I’m giving it to them under the stipulation they don’t pay it back. The zone where sacrifice meets privilege, I guess. 

Flashback - Mitch Whitman played football just his senior year in 2005. The St. Andrew’s transfer was easily among the top 5 running backs ever to carry the mail for Cape. His older brother Tyler was a state champion in golf who went on to play at Maryland. Mitch's first game, the second of the season – he had come out late – he came off the bench versus A.I. du Pont and rushed for 176 yards and two touchdowns. Freaky speed and power. I remember he growled when he got tackled. The kid was an absolute beast. He was on the 2004 St. Andrew’s state championship lacrosse team along with Brice Howard that was coached by Dave Reynolds. 

Snippets - Rumors are flying at Cape about what athletes may be coming back to the mother ship and who they may be bringing with them. I do know unless you live inside the Cape school district, you ain’t getting in because school choice is closed. Luke Grayum is a rising senior at the Shipley School on the Philadelphia Main Line. Luke was an instructor this week at the GameBreaker Lacrosse camp at Beacon. He is coming off a season for the Gators of coach Mark Duncan where he scored 55 goals and dished off 55 assists. He is a lefty attackman who has verbally committed to play at the University of Richmond. Luke had 46 goals and 29 assists as a freshman. He also plays basketball and participates in DECA, which prepares emerging leaders for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management. Cape played at Shipley in 2017 and won 9-0. The following year, the teams played an even-up scrimmage. Shipley is stacked pretty well for the 2020 season and Cape has openings on the 2020 schedule. NFL camps are about to open, and we all needs sports distractions from the whirling and whining of politics. Go on now, git!