Watermel Run 5K in Laurel showcases a downstate sisterhood

Local culture survives in Bulldog Country
September 1, 2020

Sisterhood - My day at the Watermel Run 5K Aug. 30 began at 7 a.m. in Laurel at Janosik Park, which I found on my first visit. I got lost going home, heading west on Sandtown Road, which I can only assume terminates in Sandtown. We have no shortage of watermelon auction jokes on the Cape side of the county going back 50 years – it usually centers on the size and shape of someone’s head. And so I’m in Laurel taking atmosphere shots as two young women are setting up for the day. I introduce myself, figuring they will be at best disinterested. Terra Ann Eby – not related to the wrestling family – is an ag teacher at Sussex Central, member of the Mar-Del Watermelon Association and a 2012 Watermelon Queen. Sister Kaila Muncy is just along to help. She tells me she owns a yoga studio in Milford and is a massage therapist. Before I can say, “Do you know?” she adds, “Your daughter-in-law Suzannah is one of my clients.” 

Simpatico sisters - Margaret Bernholdt, 79, (No. 9427) of Harrington was proud to announce that her little sister Mary Zeitler, 77, (No. 9714) had completed her chemo cancer treatment and that she is a survivor and Watermel Run 5K finisher. The sisters managed to finish last and first in the same race.

Big boppers - Jason Pyryt, 48, standing 6-feet-2-inches and wearing No. 232, ran a 22:46 5K, good for 10th overall. Jason is a former Middletown football guy. His workout buddy Ryan Dougherty, 37, is an imposing 6-feet-6-inches and weighs 272 pounds. He ran 34:23 and is a former basketball player for St. Elizabeth. Both men have done the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics each of the last five years. They suggested that I try it. I employed my “I can tell it but can’t sell it” Polar Bear stories because it ain’t like we’re drinking buddies; although, if I were going to start back up, these would be good buddies to have. 

Pent-up demand - Cape hockey coaches are running a Sunday morning fall league at Champions Stadium for the younger players grouped by grade level. The K-4 crowd goes from 9 to 10 a.m., followed by grades 5 through 8 from 10 to 11:15. “We sent an email to our summer camp kids and it just blew up,” said coach Debbie Windett. “We have over 100 kids. We’re going to see if we can expand the times.” I’d say start and close each Sunday with a prayer and call it church; after all, hockey is a religion at Cape and at Delmar too. There is a fall league for field hockey at DE Turf scheduled to begin Tuesday, Sept. 15, with games on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Cape lacrosse coach Lindsey Underwood is working on a fall playing schedule and possible Sunday games at DE Turf. And really, all the fall sports have plans on both the boys’ and girls’ sides, including volleyball, soccer and cross country. September often brings waves, so surfers are going to surf and kayakers are going to yak and dogs are going to bark. Throw in surf fishermen, and all halibut is going to break loose on the beaches. 

Join the hunt - I have never hunted, but I respect the culture and take all precautions like avoiding the hunting grounds unless I know the season. I don’t want to be mistaken for a ring-necked pheasant. Really, go to your local gun store and ask for a fall schedule, adding, “Hold the gun.” Check out these sentences from an online hunting guide: “Archery and crossbow hunters may bag antlered bucks through October antlerless seasons. Delaware has legalized deer hunting with a handgun during shotgun season but it is illegal to hunt with a shotgun and a handgun at the same time.” And if you hear birdshot falling on your roof, just know the boys may be driving bobwhite quail without power steering across an open field. Gray squirrel season is Sept. 15 to Feb. 6, many of them need to go, and the lowly groundhog open season is July 1-June 30, otherwise known as anytime.    

Snippets - If I sat on the DIAA  board of directors, I’d vote to allow fall sports to play through the pandemic because those athletes are out playing a sport somewhere sometime all the time anyway. I’ve heard all the arguments and counter arguments (Corian or granite countertop joke book), just don’t shut down access to games to photographers with pensions. Look, I don’t know the South Lawn from the Rose Garden, I just know a televised presidential speech delivered to a thousand maskless, shoulder-to-shoulder, well-heeled white people sends a message to us all: “Go out and play anyway; that’s what rich people do. Anyone seen my croquet set?” A Let Them Play rally on the Georgetown Circle is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 8. Go on now, git! 

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