Just another plaque on the wall

November 18, 2022

The Room - All in all, it's just another plaque on the wall. Last season, I wanted it for Mikey, and I wanted it for me. The ultimate insider honor. A plaque on the block wall, up there with all the other state wrestling champions over the last 50 years. The block room, the exposed pipes, the old clippings, so basically, what wrestling is all about. Champions for life are made in The Room. You can never out-tough these athletes. Fifty years of state champions including Willie Vann (1973), Tyrone Gibbs (1975, 1976), Randy Johnson (1977), Perry Walls (1978), Charles Turner (1980), Jon Lobiondo (1989, 1990), Jared Hill (1991), Matt Graviet (1999), Thomas Ott (2012, 2013, 2014), Aaron Mattioni (2014), Anthony Caruso (2016, 2019), Cory  Lawson (2016, 2017), Andre Currie (2020), Luke Bender (2021), Mikey Frederick (2022) and Lucas Ruppert (2022). Moments after Mikey Fred’s hand was raised, he fought his way to the solitude of The Room. I pointed to the late Willie Vann’s plaque on the wall and said, “Willie’s brothers Kevin and Eugene Brittingham just watched you win a state title. You should go out and meet them so I can take your picture. It will be the most enduring photo of this moment. We honor history (The Room) and connect the community.” I saw and seized the moment for him, and for me and for all of us.

Carbonada - Why the long face? Carbonada was a horse and no one talks to a horse, of course, unless it’s Debbie Stephens competing in equestrian events in 1997, and Carbonada is a horse with a name you don’t ride through the desert. Coach Jim Alderman got on my case in 1997 for making an Ultimate Frisbee player an Athlete of the Week. He talked about equestrian sports in which he was heavily invested, from the horse trailer to his turbo diesel dually Dodge. I said, “Get me a photo of the stupid horse and we’ll make it an Athlete of the Week.” Here’s the write-up: “Why the long face Carbonada? The nine-year-old mare from Bald Cypress farms in Angola belongs to Jim Alderman. Carbonada is being ridden in competition by Debbie Stephens, a world-class trainer and equestrian. Carbonada, a German Warmblood Holsteiner mare (you go, girl) was champion in the prelim class at Hampton Classic on Long Island. Carbonada’s favorite singing group is Hall and Oates.” This all resurfaced when Mike Connors told me there was a Cape kid, Elizabeth Tietbohl, signing with the University of Lynchburg for equestrian. Mike smiled and said, “I’ll bet that’s a first even for you.” I told him the Carbonada story. Mike shook his head and silently stole away on an electric cart with no name.   

Early signings - There is an early college signing period for all sports except football. These Cape athletes signed Nov. 17 after the Cape Gazette’s deadline for Friday’s paper. Photos can be found at and in the Tuesday print edition. Elizabeth Tietbohl, University of Lynchburg, equestrian; Mackenzie Brown, William & Mary, field hockey; Grace Hudson, Belmont Abbey College, field hockey; Mikaylah Lindsay, Winthrop University, lacrosse; Luke Burton, Flagler College, lacrosse; Brexton Carter, McDaniel College, lacrosse; C.J. Fritchman, Salisbury University, lacrosse; Cody Trivits, Randolph Macon College, lacrosse; Alex Taylor, Roanoke College, wrestling; Ryan Baker, Lehigh University, cross country and track. 

Uncontested layup - Over-the-hill players shooting uncontested layups are comical as their body parts fight with each other while ligaments and tendons string along a song, “The joints are jumping but you ain’t.” I watched an intricate recycling full-court timed drill at girls’ basketball practice. The end game was making layups. Missing a wide-open layup is only trumped by a missed dunk, which sends all fans into convulsions and conniptions of laughter. “You watched our worst practice of the year,” coach Pat Woods messaged me. I honestly thought the practice was pretty slick and the players looked good. Ever watch wrestlers play basketball? Now that is funny. 

Snippets - Randy Rickards scored a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds, but the Wildcats of Wilmington University dropped a 71-68 home game Nov. 16 to visiting Shippensburg. The No. 25 Salisbury University football team with Cape players Jaden Davis and JRoc Burton plays at No. 2 Mount Union Saturday, Nov. 19. Mount Union is 10-0, the 31st time they have been undefeated. Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni graduated from Mount Union with a degree in education (we all got jokes). Nick Sirianni’s brother Mike is the head coach at Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, Pa. (insert Freddie “Boom Boom” Washington and George Jefferson jokes here). Cape’s Mr. Kotter of 1975 signing off. Did I ever tell you about my Uncle Cholly? Go on now, git! 


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