Person-to-person connection is as real as it gets

The zone where dreams and tripping intersect
August 13, 2019

It got real quick - The Tunnel to Towers 5K Aug. 10 at Cape brought together shared memories and stories of Sept. 11, 2001, when the United States was under attack and 3,000 of our citizens were killed in New York, Washington, D.C., and Somerset County, Pa. I spoke with Roger Whitford on the track at the end of the race. Roger and Carol moved from New York to Lewes seven years ago and live on Minos Conaway Road. Their son Mark was 31 years old that day, driving Manhattan Engine 23. His duty was to stay with the truck, but he donned full fire gear and went into the burning south tower. All six members of Engine 23 were lost. Engine 23 was later found intact. Mark was a high school and college heavyweight wrestler at Seton Hall, where he earned a degree in business management. I talked to Roger, who had tears in his eyes, and so did I. Nick Roth of Cape Gazette did an in-depth story on the Whitford family in 2016. But when I met Roger on the track Saturday, it was hand-to-hand real, one dad to another. I lost a son just two years ago. We share a sadness, but different stories, as we share America. 

Algebra teacher goes negative - F.P. Santangelo is the color analyst for the Washington Nationals. I like him because he is smart and funny and appreciates players on the other teams. He told a story about failing an algebra test in high school and telling the teacher, “I won’t need algebra where I’m going. I’m going to be a big-league ballplayer. She told me that was highly unlikely, but it happened.” FP added, “Kids out there listening, don’t let anyone stand in the way of your dreams.” But here’s the dilemma: Some young athletes trip out of their minds, and what if their dreams are totally unrealistic? I know, don’t discourage anyone, allow them to fail on their own, because you never know, but mostly, you do know. 

Preseason football - We all know the rewards are not worth the risk of playing front-line positions in NFL preseason games. Let the backups take the hits because 50 of those earnest “You can grow up and be anything you want” young men are getting cut and heading for the recycle bin. If that is a good plan for NFL preseason, then why not high school? If you lose a few starters to injury in high school, your season can go from promising to bleak quicker than you can say, “Are those dogs grilled or boiled?” Cape football has three away scrimmages; the first is Aug. 17 at Lake Forest. The first scrimmage is usually a 10-and-10 with no down markers. Starters go a couple series, then the backups get to play, then the starters are brought back. It’s been that way for 50 years, but playing hard with contact followed by taking a break then coming back to play hard some more is just not sound. But I’m a believer in the undertrained player who isn’t icing down bumps and bruises at night. I mean, really, when is the last time any teenage male iced down a bump?

Snippets - Sussex County Chapter placed third out of 36 teams at the recent USLA Lifeguard Olympics held in Virginia Beach. The top 5 teams were LA County, Monmouth County, Sussex County, Outer Banks and Smith Point. Alexandra Santer placed second in total points scored in the open women’s  division with 119. Kelsey Cummings of LA County was first with 137. Joshua McIntire of Sussex County placed ninth with 40 points. There are easily more than 100 separate scoring events, which also include age-group breakdowns. Dustin Venables was second in open men’s beach flags. Emily Ruppert of Sussex County was open beach flags champion. The open men’s 4-by-100 soft sand relay was won by Sussex County with the team of Reed Tanasovich, Nathan Jones, Jason Kaiser and Mitch Sgro. Sussex County also took second with Drew Mulcahy, Cooper Shawver, Mitch McGee and Billy Swontek. Sussex County captured second in the women’s 4-by-100 soft sand relay with the team of Hannah Venables, Alex Santer, Megan Perdue and Emily Ruppert. Go to to find expanded results. There is a 70-plus men’s beach flags competition. Sounds like a drinking game for spectators. Remember Monday, Aug. 12, began the 50-year celebration for Cape sports. There are now 23 sports in 2019. In 1969, we’re talking football, field hockey, boys’ cross country, boys’ and girls’ basketball, wrestling, baseball, boys’ track and golf. Argue amongst yourselves. Go on now, git!