Middle school sports a venue to perfect stop-and-chat culture

September 30, 2022

Hockey dads - I took a sports holiday Wednesday, so I decided to check out the Sussex Academy at Beacon Middle School field hockey game. The field is slow and slightly undulating, so the ball doesn’t roll fast or true. Several dads talked to me about hockey stuff, and I just told them, “Enjoy the journey, because you have a good chance of becoming a crazy person before your daughter processes out of high school.” Beacon is the absolute truth, not just a good team, but one of the best ever, including all those PattyJo Mock teams. And they have veteran high school coach Lynn Richardson as their head coach. Sam Purple, who is awesome, is the assistant. Beacon just wore down the Seahawks. Beacon won the A game 8-0 and B game 10-0, and Sussex Academy has a solid program. They were just outgunned on a Wednesday afternoon on a field where families bring their own chairs and talk knowledgeably about a sport most never played. Beacon is now 3-0, having outscored opponents 28-0. Scorers in the 8-0 win were Atia Sabbagh with three goals, and single goals from Teagan Baker, Isabel Mastrangelo, Mairead Rishko, Angeline McCarthy and Haley Gamuciello. Belle Hudson played great in goal for the Seahawks. Mariner hockey is 3-0 with wins over Georgetown, Millsboro and Delmar. Hannah Pepper is the head coach, assisted by Rebecca Pepper with George Pepper as a volunteer. 

Stop-and-chat guy - Larry David created a character in his sitcom “Curb Your Enthusiasm” that he calls stop-and-chat guy. Sussex County culture is stocked like a pond with rainbow trout with stop-and-chat people, because it sure beats working. I was working the Sussex Academy at Beacon field hockey game Wednesday afternoon and was stopped by a fit young man with a badge on his belt who asked, “Are you Dave Frederick?” I said, “I am if that’s a radio on your hip, but if it’s a gun, you must be looking for my son the principal.” Craig Dickerson, a probation officer, quarterbacked Seaford in 1987. His daughter Olivia plays for Sussex Academy. Craig and Dave both graduated in 1988. We shared stories of Craig’s late dad, coach Ron Dickerson, whom everyone just called Captain Dick. The entire time I kept the camera on my shoulder. I was a stop-and-chat guy. I respect the culture. I've now lived in Sussex County over half my life. The first 18 years don’t count because I didn’t know where I was. 

Displacer pacers - Caesar Rodney boys’ cross country beat Cape Wednesday 27-30; the win was clinched when the Riders’ sixth and seventh runners placed ahead of Cape’s No. 5. Only the top five runners count (low score wins), but runners six and seven can knock others back to a higher number. Like most number systems, it is brilliant bordering on dumb, which sounds like my personality profile. 

A careful commentary - I recently wrote a column paragraph about cheering at athletic events for people who have access to the press box, scoring table or sidelines. These are unwritten rules of decorum, meaning no one knows where they begin and end, and they are rarely enforced. I do know the unwritten rule, “Never call a Black man boy in any context, especially in anger.” I’m dancing around this issue because I defend anyone’s right to be situationally stupid and understand good people being offended by dumb stuff hurled in their direction. When I first came up with the idea of Multiple Muppet Disorder, I meant we are all many people at the same time, but who are we at any given time? A Pennsylvania man at a Friday happy hour – he was a principal – looked across the bar at Fisherman’s Wharf and said, “You’re that guy in the newspaper. You’re a lot fatter in person. Why don't you upgrade your photo?” Doc Pepper, an electrician and Sussex County philosopher, said to me, “You can’t be the teacher and funny man in the newspaper, and be knocking tourists off of barstools. You have to pick one.” Doc then looked at the principal and said, “My man is a pretty big rig. You can keep shoveling clams into your face while he makes a decision, or your best bet may be to just apologize.”

Snippets - Bill Cordrey Field will be dedicated at 1 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 8. Dave’s Dewey Dash is still scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 1, at the Rusty Rudder. Race starts at 9 a.m. Check out for details. Weather forecast is not good unless you’re Portuguese (water dog joke book). Go on now, git!  


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