Track has a no-cut policy and most state titles in Cape history

March 8, 2019

Carnival barkers - Spring track and field has big numbers at Beacon and Mariner middle schools, and at Cape Henlopen High School. I didn’t write tryouts because all you have to do is go out. The coaching challenge is to shake quality loose from quantity. The best news is track cuts no one, and every athlete finds an event in which to compete. I never in my coaching history had to cut an athlete. I think I would have cut myself first. With 10 spring sports, every kid can a find a home; although, not necessarily in their preferred neighborhood.

Come get these memories - "Every time you go away you take a piece of me with you." – Daryl Hall, a Temple guy. Al Shrier took a piece of all Temple athletes with him when he passed away March 4 after 65 years as Temple sports information director. He was on the job from 1953 through 2018. I had occasion to resource Al for information and access over the last 50 years after leaving half my game on the field in the mid-60s as a scholarship athlete. He was always the same, "Hi, Dave, how have you been? What can I help you with?” He knew us all, every player and coach, from Hall of Famers to South Hall Slackers. Al was the Reading Terminal of Temple sports history. We were all crosshatched into one big story that was inside his head. Shrier remained one of my role models in the sports world. I’m good at remembering and valuing any athlete who crossed my path, and I know today there is one less person who values the time I walked the North Broad Street campus 55 years ago with one goal in mind. “Destination anywhere, east or west, I don’t care.”

Big Tent - Philly is a sports town, a neighborhood, chock-full of storytellers who never forget a player or game. A bunch of baby biographers and legend makers living as blue-collar guys. Twenty years ago, I was sitting on a barstool in Penns Landing with a high school friend of mine, Bitter Ed, aka The Baron – he was a regular. Eddie said to me, “Tell this idiot bartender that I could dunk when I was in high school at Bishop Egan.” The bartender said, “Bishop Egan hasn’t been any good since Dave Frederick took them to the title game in 1964.” Eddie nodded toward me, “This is him sitting right here.” The bartender shrugged, “So, what do you want from me? I should throw him a Mummers Parade?” Later that night (June 1999), I survived a rollover traffic accident, but that’s an entirely different road to tumble down.

Yo Tommy - A Temple friend of mine, Tommy DeFelice, quarterbacked West Catholic to a 20-20 City Championship tie with Southern High in 1963. A WC star runner going for the game-winning conversion was tackled and dropped at the goal line by linebacker Georgie Gambone, who also played for Temple. Both Tommy and Georgie stood about 5-foot-5, and both were examples of, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” Tommy has been a college basketball official for 39 years, and in 1975, he was part of a Sports Illustrated story for taking the head football job at Bok Tech in South Philly, not winning a game, and being outscored 375-0. His storyline continued to multiple Public League titles, which included a 43-game winning streak. “Everyone gets their turn in the barrel,” Tommy said. “Sometimes you’re at the bottom and sometimes you’re at the top.” Tom stayed too long with the barrel metaphor, but I get it. “Success is not what makes you happy,” DeFelice said. “Happiness is what makes you successful."

Dead in your face - Halfway through the fourth quarter at Dover and down by 20 to Saint Elizabeth, a bunch of Cape basketball fans sitting cross court from the bench just got up and left. First of all, I credit them for being there on a dark Monday night in March. But c’mon man, the players see you bailing on the ballgame. A true sportsmanship moment of support was lost. Just know that the players noticed.

Snippets - David Erickson is part of the pitching staff for Liberty University. Will Wagner, son of Major League ace reliever Billy Wagner – 16 seasons with five teams including the Phillies – is the leading hitter for the Flames. Billy Wagner went to Ferrum College in Virginia and was a classmate of Cape health teacher Candy Brown, whom I always call Billy Wagner. “Billy and his wife Sarah and I were close friends in college,” Candy said. Play days and road races fill the weekend sports calendar, but all are pending weather and field conditions. Websites4sports is the place to go for schedules, scores, rosters and schedule changes. Grandson Davey is a member of the newly formed Cape Unified track team. His wrestling buddies Roy Jones, Sam Jones, and Gary Hayes were out on the track working with him while he was working them. Go on now, git!

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