Chasing the political balls like a reluctant retriever

Athletes are revved and ready to get after each other
May 19, 2020

Chasing the ball - Two dogs and 25 years ago on Christmas Eve, I visited Rick Townsend in Nassau to pluck a puppy from a litter of Golden Retrievers. I sat in a corner chair and they all sat on the floor facing me. I showed them a ball, then threw it across the room. Nine of them fiendishly chased it, crashing into furniture and each other. One kept sitting there looking at me. “I’ll take this one,” I told Rick. “I don’t want a ball dog and I don’t hunt. I just want a laid-back truck-riding buddy.” That dog became Barkley, because like Charles he was a round mound of rebound who owned the circle where he sat. Transition to 2020, when old dogs Darby and Fredman live on the planet where politics and sports intersect, but we don’t chase round balls tossed from the Oval Office onto the White House lawn. Every day, the air cannon of controversy lobs several political piñatas into the atmosphere, and pundits whack at them all day long. All sports and all peoples seem to get  snared into the hyper-phrenic pandemic pandemonium offering opinions and solutions like public health experts coughing behind drywall masks. 

Seining for sports - Back in the previous millennium, in a Ford Galaxy far, far away, I’d cruise Seaside Sesame Street looking for any type of sports action, figuring there was a story waiting for me to find it and report on it. Once I waded into a Sunday pickup soccer game in Rehoboth featuring Mexicans and Salvadorans on one side versus Guatemalans and Nicaraguans on the other. The skill level was incredible. The language was colorful. I was really digging it until I heard, “Vamos ahora, git!” Many years later, I covered and took photos at the Sussex County Hispanic Soccer League Championships. It was “fuera del gancho!” 

Sweet T - I advised big, strong academic-athletic superstar Tiara Duffy during her junior year of high school playing field hockey: “Never smile out on the field and let people know how sweet a person you are. Run them over, then pick up their stick and hand it to them.” Tiara was the Afro-American two-sport star with the 4.0 GPA, and she walked on at the University of South Carolina for softball and into the starting lineup. Last week, Tiara knocked down a master’s degree in public health from Eastern Virginia  Medical School. Tanesha is her mom; Tykia is her sister, and we must never forget Aunt Binky. 

One and a Half Men - Cape’s Mike Connors has been named to a newly created position as half-time athletic director, splitting his time between being an assistant athletic director and teacher of physical education. Mike will assist newly named Athletic Director Kevin Smith. Mike is the organized guy who gets things done, from cleaning the Champions Stadium field turf to organizing Leo Club fundraisers that take up half the student parking lot. Mike responded to my text query about his new  position as follows: “The main goal is to maintain, organize, and administer the overall program of Cape high school and middle school interscholastic athletics, in a support role to the athletic director. With this being a new role in the district, there are many details that still need to be coordinated. With student enrollment continually increasing at Cape, the PE, Health and Driver Ed department is in need of additional support. I have been teaching for 20 years, with this year completing my 14th year at Cape.  Prior to Cape, I taught for six years at Roberto Clemente Middle School in Montgomery County, Md. During those six years, I worked as a PE/health teacher and athletic director. I earned both my bachelor of science, kinesiology in 1998, and master of science, health science in 2000 at Towson University. I was fortunate to have been offered a graduate assistantship at Towson University and served as the director of intramural sports during that time. I am looking forward to this opportunity to work alongside Kevin Smith, and hope I can bring my prior experience from Towson and MCPS to this new role for Cape. I have a great connection with Cape students, colleagues and the school community, and am excited to work with our student-athletes.” Good luck, Muppet Mike.

Snippets - Athletes should train like there is a tomorrow, because we just went through no tomorrow and no season, which was no fun at all. I’m jonesing for running to return; Happy Trails to you until we meet again. Go on now, git! 

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