The sad eyes of injured athletes reveal the hurt inside

June 10, 2022

Sad eyes - Injured athletes have sad eyes like a locked-down lab on a rainy day. The jointed and velcroed brace or hobbling boot is the cone collar of the grounded athlete. Luke Bender aka Wingspan Gumby left the wrestling lineup last winter to get Tommy John surgery. The Vikings endured the loss of Luke, a defending state champion, and won the Division I dual-meet state title without him. Luke is a hard-to-read athlete. I saw sadness in his eyes – he was a part of the program, but at times seemed off in the shadows of the spotlighted mat. Baseball lost sophomore Gage Joseph to start the season. Gage, a pitcher/outfielder, is a total stud player. The Vikings went on to win the state title with a deep roster including nine seniors. Cape girls’ lacrosse won its 13th state title in a row and ironically lost No. 13 sophomore Carrie Clausius to an ACL injury in a preseason scrimmage. Five seniors put the No. 13 back on Carrie for the championship celebration. Carrie was the most happy/sad lacrosse person I’d seen on the field since junior Jenna Steele in 2011, when Cape won its third in a row. Brody Smith, a junior, was certain to be an impact defender for boys’ lacrosse this season, but a preseason ACL tear robbed him of the chance and Cape of his talents. I had knee surgery while at Temple in 1964. My son Dave, and granddaughters Anna and Katie, all had reconstructive ACL surgery. Remember to stretch – yeah, that will stop it! – and keep a regular goat yoga routine. We certainly have enough goats around here. 

Take it to the limit - “So put me on the highway and show me a sign. And take it to the limit one more time.” – Eagles. DIAA, which governs Delaware scholastic sports, limits practice minutes to 90 or 120, except preseason, when athletes are permitted to be tortured multiple times a day – just don’t forget to hydrate them. Travel ball has no such restrictive limitations. Pick a sport and you can play multiple games over a long weekend, which is “taking it to the limit one more time.”   

Carbon 14 - Better known as Half Life in Lewes and Cape Henlopen, where Half Stockley has been a one-name muppet for longer than anyone can remember, unless you have 50 years of local history rolling around inside the open gym of your skull. Half drove the baseball state championship bus Monday night. He also drove the bus for the 2018 state champions, and for two boys’ state championship teams in 1975 and 1976. Even Fred Harvey said, “That man has driven a lot of championship teams back to Cape.” And he has been a member of the Lewes Fire Department for 45 years. There have been some legendary bus drivers of Cape sports teams going back to George Warren, Don Hanley and Harry Moore.

Magnanimous - Cape girls’ and boys’ lacrosse and baseball all had good shots to win state titles this May. Two out of three ain’t bad unless you’re the left-out No. 3. The Cape boys’ lacrosse team members were raucous in-person supporters of girls’ lax and baseball, but somehow the top of the mountain success makes sliding down the hill a little harder to handle. I wonder if Mike Evick, whose daughter Katelyn was the starting catcher for Sussex Central, which lost to Carvel 8-7 in the state championship, looks at baby brother Ben, whose son Brogan recorded the final out in Cape’s state championship win over Appoquinimink, and thinks, “Gonna be some long Thanksgiving days coming up. Me and Baby Brother used to run together.” War. 

Remembering ballers - In the reflected hue of the Cape baseball state championship, I pause to remember late great players Benny Wiltbank, Obie Maull and Lynn Baynum. And late baseball coaches Bob Cassady and Rex Dickerson. The past is always intertwined with the present. 

Raspberry beret - Tanya Karaman is a nurse and part of the running scene. She didn't have to be so nice ... I would have liked her anyway. She won the 50-54 age group at the Seashore 5-Miler in a time of 41:57. Tanya looks in harmony with the flora and fauna, the rising sun off the ocean casting a soft light on her colorful fitness. And that is good because at the upcoming Father’s Day 5K on Wilmington Avenue, Tanya is just as likely to be trailed by a trash truck. “I'm a labor and delivery nurse at Bayhealth Sussex,” Tanya said. “I have five kids – three are all grown up. I basically started running about three to four years ago. I had no idea there were local races that anyone could sign up for and run, but one of my friends got into running and did some 5Ks and it seemed like fun, so I thought I'd train for one and see how it went. And boom, I was hooked! Started looking for harder/longer races and did a couple half-marathons, then got a stress fracture in the middle of the Rehoboth Seashore Half in 2019. Had to take the winter off to heal, then just as I was getting back on my feet, COVID happened. I basically just run seven to eight miles a day and do some light weightlifting once or twice a week. In 2020, I ran my first full marathon virtually and very slowly. This year, I decided I wanted to try to qualify for Boston and convinced Martin Rodriguez to coach me. Missed on my first try by a couple minutes, but succeeded in April in Salisbury. Right now, I'm just looking forward to the Striders Summer Series.”

Snippets - I remember my first Tuesday column in the Gazette was titled “Off the Hook.” I was writing about lifeguard stand partners Chico Barranco and Tommy Coveleski, and said, “Tell me why you should feel safe when two 50-year-old bald guys are side-stroking to your rescue sharing rides on one buoy.” We all laughed, with Tommy saying, “When you come around on the wheel, you get skewered. Big fat German guy takes no prisoners.” “What a minute, TC. Who?” Go on now, git!  


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