Summer is for strength, speed and nutrition

Justin Heatherington hands off to West Cox
June 4, 2021

Fish out of water - I’m a Cape person, but mostly a kid person, so June 1 I walked onto the screaming green turf of Sussex Academy that was covered by more white deck chairs than the Love Boat to snap photos of seven senior athletes who were signing commitment letters to play sports in college. That ceremony was followed by end-of-year sports awards, but I was out of there like a pilot boat heading for the Lewes canal dock. Michelle Archer, Rehoboth Buddy Walk chairperson, daughter of Butch and sister of Kyle – her mom Brenda is a substitute school nurse in Cape district – and wife of Sussex Academy boys’ lacrosse coach Justin Hetherington, gave me a heads-up, so I rolled west like a covered wagon to “cover” the event. Justin, from Annapolis, played his college lacrosse at Elon. He was named Henlopen Conference Coach of the Year and is retiring from coaching because it’s just too hard for him to get to practice from his job. Here’s the funny part: he works as an estimator for Schell Brothers. Justin hands off to West Cox, who played high school ball at Boys Latin in Baltimore, class of ’99, and was a long stick middie at Washington College, graduating in 2004. West manages the family farming business in Milton and works as a substitute teacher at Sussex Academy.  

Steve Bastianelli - Steve is the athletic director at Sussex Academy and always has his little camera. He's cool and efficient, pleasant enough, and I’ve never had a conversation with the guy. At the outside signings and awards ceremony, he had it wired up tight, yet loose enough so everyone had a good time. Steve won three state titles as a Sussex Central wrestler: 105 pounds in 1974, and 119 pounds in 1975 and 1976. As head wrestling coach at Saint Mark’s, Steve won 10 state titles in 1986, ‘87, ‘88, ‘91, ‘92, ‘95, ’97, ’98, ‘99 and 2002. During that time, Steve produced 58 individual state champions. I don’t blame him for not talking to me. I got nothing. And that’s just the skinny – there is much more. 

Blinded me with science - The fitness triad for competitive athletes for me is strength, speed and nutrition. A dedication to and blending of those three elements will result in better performance and endurance, and the ability to explode with maximum force. A furious focus between the lines is required, and not everyone can get there. Perhaps no one can, but all athletes can increase their chances by hard work off the field. Nowhere in what I wrote does it mention, “You’ve gotta fight for your right to party.”  

The Dance - Naomi Osaka is one of the top female tennis players in the world, worth $50 million. And she doesn’t want to do the post-match dance with the “tennis media” because it’s forced and fake. That goes for all post-game pressers where the athlete is required by rule to show up. I found the unspoken feeling inside the locker room or media room to be condescending on the media side, which elicits short-sentence answers on the part of the athletes, most of whom don’t know the first names of the people paid to cover their sport. In the NFL, you can sit in the press box and just wait for post-game quotes to be delivered to your laptop, and after pushing the soft pretzel aside, you can copy and paste them into your story. Personally, when is the last time any normal person with solid self-esteem wanted to ask questions of a person who had no interest in talking to them?  

Snippets - I am carefully planning my summer sports calendar by writing down the events I am definitely not covering. The NCAA 64-team Division I baseball tournament begins Friday, June 4. Virginia, with Zack and Jake Gelof in the lineup, will play at South Carolina at noon, Friday, June 4, on ESPN2. The region's No. 1 seed, Old Dominion, will face fourth-seeded Jacksonville at 7 p.m. The Liberty Flames, with Cape’s Mason Fluharty and David Erickson on the roster, received an at-large bid and will play in the Knoxville, Tenn. regional against ACC champion Duke on Friday. Tennessee will host Wright State in the other regional game. The Salisbury Seagulls baseball team heads to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for the Division III College World Series. That tournament also begins Friday, June 4. There are five Henlopen Conference players on the Salisbury roster. Maura Johnson, the 2022 Cape Teacher of the Year, scored three goals in Cape’s first state championship of girls’ lacrosse in 2009, an 11-7 win over St. Andrew’s. She was a sophomore. The Beach Blast girls’ lacrosse tournament will return to Cape this year the weekend of June 25. There are usually 100 teams over three days, with Friday devoted to middle school athletes. Go on now, git!


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