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If you quit a team, the fans will forget you before you can say jack rabbit

February 21, 2020

Fair game - “But mom, it’s not fair.” “Life’s not fair, kid, get used to it.” Sports are often harsh and not fair. They will exalt and levitate an athlete into the air, then chop them at the knees on the way back down to the ground. An athlete steps between the lines and into the fray, and they become fair game for the fans, pundits and sportswriters. Mostly, we celebrate what we see and criticize what we don’t understand. We all have enough sense to steer clear of internal family conflicts (team dynamics) if we are not connected cousins. Sports teams often harp “We Are Family.” And some school-aged kids actually quit families or get thrown out, but it’s rare and drastic. I don’t use the term quit when an athlete decides to leave a team. “You will finish what you start because if you quit once, it makes it easier the next time.” How many times have you heard that cliche? But we also teach kids to make good choices. 

Winding up - The high school wrestling season is about to get real, with two-day conference and state tournaments scheduled over the next two weekends. The Henlopen Conference Championships are at Milford Central Academy with the states the following weekend at Cape Henlopen. You can follow it all live on trackwrestling.com. Seeding is sadistic, let’s be honest. The person with the worst record must deal with the best in the opening bout. In some brackets, the showdown between the two best grapplers hasn’t happened all season, but reach the finals, then they deal with whoever comes out to shake their hand. 

Fast tracking - Like Marvin Gaye, “I heard it through the grapevine.” Cape is moving quickly, having closed applications and now setting up interviews for the position of athletic director. Suffice it to say there has been a lot of interest. I interviewed and was rejected twice for the position of AD, both times a smart move on their part, enabling me to maintain my free radical status in sports, an uncharged molecule not owing anything to anybody. Anyway, it’s a hard job, but the good ones like Bob Cilento make it look easy. Like a blind man in a windstorm, I’m running out of contacts. 

Brick and mortar - I got a voting ballot for the 2020 Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. There are 30 chapters. I’m in the Bucks County Chapter and there’s a HOF room with my photo, my brother and nephew at a rest stop on I-95 North heading toward Princeton. That’s right, we made it to the big time. You may say the room is flush with Fredericks. But the granddaddy of Pennsylvania Halls of Fame, 30 chapters flowing into one, is totally virtual, and that’s the way halls of fame are trending and that goes for trophy cases as well. Time for Cape to construct a digital trophy case. 

Cayden Steele - The St. Joseph’s at Temple women’s lacrosse game was 30 seconds old when a young man was in my hip pocket saying, “You can’t go beyond the pylon.” I said, “Dude, I’m the only photographer here and you’re on me that fast? Slow down, man, there’s a lot of road still in front of you.” And as I walked past the home stands, another young man looked back at me and said, “Hi, Fredman.” It was 2019 Cape graduate Cayden Steele who was on the state championship lacrosse team and interned at the Cape Gazette. Cayden had three ACL surgeries on two knees over big feet during his high school career. He is the younger brother of field hockey and lacrosse player Jenna Steele who also carries an ACL scar. Jenna is an assistant field hockey coach at Shenandoah University after coaching at Mary Washington and Randolph-Macon. Cayden is a sports reporter for Temple News, and he hosts a two-hour radio program once a week. “I just love it here and love Philadelphia,” Cayden said. Cayden will succeed in a business where everybody is talking with not enough writing and doing the hard work. And not many reporters are getting sidelined with ACL tears, as long as they don’t go beyond the pylon. 

Snippets - Randolph-Macon won the ODAC Conference in basketball with a perfect 15-0 record; the team is 23-1 overall and ranked No. 2 in the country for Division III schools. Sophomore Ian Robertson (Cape) has played in all 24 games, averaging nine points per contest. He can cut down the net from the first step on the ladder. Luke D’Ambrogi, a freshman lacrosse player for the Catholic University Cardinals, has scored a goal in each of the first three games, but the Cardinals are off to an 0-3 start. Speaking of sports, I’ve still got my ear to the track in a town where the train doesn't run. Go on now, git!