We’re talking about practice, not a game

May 19, 2023

Spring strafing - I sometimes do a touch-and-go late-afternoon flyover, landing at sports practices where I always learn more in 20 minutes than I do watching a two-hour game. Leading into spring tournaments is an exciting time; there are also tons of football guys working out together and soccer boys on the Bermuda grass just kicking the ball around. I see football breaking the 100-player number this season, which has never happened. Head coach Mike Frederick, my nephew, enters his second season. 

The past is prologue - Stare up at the nighttime sky on a starry night and you are looking deep into the past. Stare across the fields, tracks and courts of sports looking for stories that haven’t happened yet, but in a universal sense perhaps they just haven't reached us. The Cape boys’ teams of track, lacrosse, volleyball and baseball are on a planetary collision course with Salesianum. Different worlds in the same orbit. A baseball head-to-head game is hard to predict until brackets are released. The baseball tournament is an asteroid field of strong teams. Salesianum went Broom Street last winter, sweeping state championships in swimming, wrestling, basketball and indoor track. Sallies spring coaches of volleyball, track and lacrosse can look out the portal of the sports space shuttle and know Cape is coming for them, posing a major threat. You don’t get as good as Sallies by taking a casual approach to competition. The Cape lacrosse girls are hunted like Klingons in a Star Trek movie. Thirteen straight state titles and a 174-game in-state win streak, with a 39-0 record in state tournament games going back to 2009. Tatnall is on a quest, while Archmere and Sussex Academy are talented and tough outs. 

Behind closed doors - The more prestigious the university, the more qualified applicants it gets to reject and the more special circumstances get kicked in for athletic recruits. And once those closed-door meetings go down, there follows a walk across the quad to the office of financial aid where parents with advanced degrees leave befuddled, realizing their scholarship athlete child who cleared the 14% admission hurdle will only cost them $40,000 a year out of pocket for the next four years to go to school there, only to earn a non-marketable degree. The best deal is always academic grant money that you don’t have to pay back.  

Mel Counts - Nickname “Goose,” drafted by the Boston Celtics seventh overall in the 1964 NBA Draft. Counts was a 7-foot guy who could handle the ball and shoot outside; he’s still alive at 81 years old. He was traded five times, but there was never any hype that Goose was a generational game-changing player. Victor Wembanyama is likely the No. 1 pick of the lottery-winning San Antonio Spurs. They are touting Victor as a 7-foot-4-inch game changer, but let's be real: He is 19 years old, very skinny and wingy, and about to enter a grown-man league. He may be Mel Counts 60 years later. 

Shawn Bradley - Nickname “The Stormin’ Mormon.” A 7-foot-6-inch player out of Brigham Young who was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers in 1993. He wore No. 76. Bradley was athletic but described as rail thin. Bradley would be traded to the Nets and the Mavericks. He was struck by a car in 2021 while biking. He suffered a severe spinal cord injury resulting in quadriplegia and is now a wheelchair user. Wembanyama will take the court with high expectations. Seems like a nice young man. He'll make lots of money, and the NBA fans will beat on him like a calypso drum. 

Snippets - Charter School of Wilmington defeated Saint Mark’s 16-6 in girls’ lacrosse and will face Cape Henlopen in the quarterfinal round of the state tournament at noon, Saturday, May 20, at Champions Stadium. Ursuline will play at Sussex Academy also at noon, Saturday, while Caesar Rodney is at Tatnall and Tower Hill is at Archmere, both of those games at 11 a.m. Beacon boys’ lacrosse, under coach Frank Pallone, closed out the season undefeated at 10-0-1, capping their run May 11 with a 13-0 win over Mariner. During the season, Beacon clinched close wins over Smyrna 5-4, Sussex Academy 6-4, Sts. Peter and Paul 8-6 and Postlethwait 6-3. The tie came against Fifer 5-5. Beacon had a roster of 35 players, including 20 eighth-graders. Mariner, coached by Jacob Kee, completed the season 4-7 with 27 players on the roster, including 16 eighth-graders. The 2022 DIAA Track & Field Championship is Friday and Saturday, May 19 and 20, at Dover High School. Track action begins Friday at 3 p.m. and takes a full day Saturday with field events beginning at 9:30 a.m. and track finals commencing at 11 a.m. Go on now, git!


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