Men in tights must wear shorts sailing over the high jump bar

Legendary Dover coach Bob Neylan passes away
August 2, 2022

Bob Neylan - Henlopen Conference track coaches from my era of the mid-‘70s to mid-‘80s included Jim Blades (Lake), Charlie Bell (Dover Air and Caesar Rodney), Bill Degnan (Woodbridge and Cape), Bob Neylan (Dover) and Dave Frederick (Cape). It was July 30 that I learned Bob Neylan had passed away June 18. Blades, Bell and Degnan had already passed away, leaving me the only one left standing. I saw Neylan last winter and spring working meets as a referee/starter. Bob was a relentless terrier for the rules of track. Neylan is the only coach in my 10-year stint that I did not have a winning record against. Neylan's Dover teams just wore Cape out, and we were 85-13 over 10 years. Bob’s record at Dover from 1973-82 was 107-13, which included four team state championships. I think those four guys were all better track coaches than I was, but I was wackier, which matched my wack-crazy athletes from that era. Bob was chairman of the DIAA State Outdoor Track and Field Committee for 11 years. I'll miss Bob on the track scene; we were simpatico from another galaxy far away. Bob was 79 years old.

Sailing without shorts - Rodney Smith jumped out of his pants in 1984, winning the state high jump championship by clearing 6-feet-11-inches. The bar was supposed to be at 7 feet, but the officials measured it by meters, then failed the English conversion test. Rodney was jumping in blue tights minus his gold shorts, and by rule, he was out of uniform. I saw him clear 6-6 looking like one of Robin Hood’s merry men. I grabbed a shot put guy. “Get down there, call Rodney over to the fence, and give him your shorts.” “What am I supposed to wear?” the kid asked. “Consider yourself the world's largest jockey; that's what they call them, jockey shorts.” Later Bob Neylan, the meet director, came up to me as I was mid-hot dog at the concession stand. “I hear your boy Smith was jumping out of uniform minus his shorts. If so, we have a problem,” Neylan said. “You hear some dumb stuff up in that press box,” I said. Rodney later stood, gold medal around his neck, holding up shorts way too big. Standing next to him was a shot put guy wearing sweats over jockeys while eating a coach-bought hot dog. Neylan looked at me knowing that if pressed like a pair of chinos, I would lie like a Persian rug. Those were some fun times. 

Not about the money - Sports personality Jim Rome often says, “When someone says ‘it's not about the money,’ it’s always about the money.” You saw that last week as 100 million people giggled about the prospect of winning a billion dollars as if that would be anything but problematic to the average person leading a productive life. Student-athletes almost always leave college if offered big money, which is relative. Amend the song lyric “Stand by Me” to “You Can’t Buy Me,” then write your own lyrics. Juan Soto didn’t sign with the Nationals (as of Sunday) for a $440 million package. I believe it’s because he wants out of Washington in exchange for a place that wins in a marketplace that cares. You don't have to read between the lines. Soto, always smiling, has a great eye and is patiently waiting for a walk.  

Snippets - Rising freshman athletes will leave for college in the early weeks of August. It's like the dog who chases the car and finally catches it. Now what? This is a period of self-actualization and realization. Introspection and circumspection. And that’s just the parents. Sound advice: Never question a college coach about playing time or your kid’s place on the depth chart. There are lines you don’t cross because you can just never get back. The flip side is to encourage your student-athlete to be solidly self-assured and to request a sit-down with the coach if they feel unsettled about any team issues. When your kid grumbles, don't get “ready to rumble!” NFL training camps have opened, with padded practices beginning Aug. 16. Basically, 90 players were invited to each camp fighting for 53 roster spots. So basically, 1,100 hopefuls will be cut by opening day. Will Devon Allen, 27, world-class hurdler out of Oregon with 4.3 speed, make the Eagles’ roster? There is a list that ends with “Go on now, git.” Allen is likely to be on it.   


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