Great-grandfathers on game day, hands across the generations
Captain and Chief - The connections are there, but you have to see them, and you have to know the families and have the awareness and sensitivity and a knowledge of traditions. The social network has always existed in the wild, and if you’re on Facebook, then it’s unlikely you are recognizing real faces that are in the bleachers. On Monday, I saw Capt. Rowland Marshall at Beacon Middle School watching his great-grandson Luca Miller play lacrosse for Sussex Academy against Beacon. Captains are like coaches in coastal Sussex, there are lots of them, but if you say “Cap,” Rowland Marshall is first to come around on the wheel. I stopped at Cape to catch some track on my way home and snapped a photo of senior Jacob Irwin running the two mile. I know he’s the son of Stephanie Warrington, and afterward I saw Jacob walking with his great-grandfather Jack Warrington. Jack at one point was Lewes police chief after a career with DSP. If I hear “Yo, Chief,” I either think I’m on the streets of Philly, or that Jack Warrington just walked into Lloyd’s IGA.
Mostly it matters - I get to see girls’ and boys’ junior varsity lacrosse games and some middle school stuff, mostly because of a blood connection. I don’t want to track the sports life of every family and miss my own. The question I ask myself, as I’m always the only person in the 4Runner, is, “Does a strong JV program signal strength at the varsity level?” There are successful teams that just run varsity programs, but is that sustainable? I think these days, it’s not. Cape’s JV lacrosse programs, girls and boys, are powerhouses that rarely lose. Baseball JV is 9-2, girls’ soccer is 4-3-1 and softball is 0-7. And with the exception of girls’ lacrosse, junior varsity coaches don’t enter game data, except for the final score. It’s heroic to coach JV, but why not go the distance and celebrate the athletes? Otherwise, they wallow in obscurity like pygmy hippos in Liberia.
The vibe is alive - The vibe I get from most NBA players is that they are tired and rich, and come crunch time, many are more likely to disappear than to go all out for the glory of the city they represent. Playing 82 games before playoffs with more air miles than Chuck Yeager takes a toll on the body in ways not studied. Pilots aren’t allowed to fly tired – a scary concept – and most don’t run to the gym for a pickup game when they land at the airport. The Sixers and Celtics are looking unlikable; so much for seeing the renewal of that classic matchup in Eastern Conference finals.
See the field - In sports with moving parts, it is wise to teach the athlete to see the field and teammates to ”read on the run.” The best example I saw last week was Beacon lacrosse player Jahden Cannon, who sees the field like an unselfish point guard. When it’s go time, Jahden can go to goal, but if he sees a player open, that ball is coming by rocket to his pocket. Beacon was locked in a 4-4 game versus Sussex Academy May 6. The final score was 8-5. Jayden had two goals and two assists in the final four scored. See the game and feel the game; let it come to you. Lacrosse is an Indian game and that was understood, and if a behind-the-back shot was called for, then let it rip.
Snippets - Sussex Academy middle school lacrosse coach West Cox played high school lax at Boys Latin and college for Washington College. A pretty impressive pedigree. Beacon lacrosse coaches are part of Cape’s state championship tradition. Jimmy Derrick and Corey Mahoney played on the 1998 team. Joey Vavala and Steve Spence were on the 2001 and 2002 teams, while Mark Tappan was on the 2008 team. Vavala said goalie Anna Lopez – seventh-grade goalie – was arguably his team MVP in the win over Sussex Academy. Beacon will have a girls’ team next year and they will lose Anna. Jack Schell of Sussex Academy – son of Preston – is a marauding midfielder. Just a seventh-grader, he is big, has skill and can run. Preston was a sub-4:30 miler back in his running days. Go on now, git!