Wild wild nights when the green was grass, three high schools ago

October 9, 2020

Wild Wild Nights - Four score, five years and three high schools ago, Bill Collick and I were new coaches on the Cape football staff of Bill Muehleisen. Friday night under the lights in 1975, behind the school in Lewes, the town rocked. Teachers were taking tickets and selling programs. Stands were packed; all the town muppets were there and half of them not only had been drinking, they were still drinking. It was insane and I loved it. The people had passion. The first game, Cape hosting Dover, there were NFL-caliber athletes all over the field. By the next year, games had moved to the new high school. The coach Jim Alderman era began. No lights and a grass field; the track was black. Saturday morning games began at 10:30 a.m. The crowd was more tame, but the atmosphere was no less magical. No one saw a state title coming in 1979. More changes came. The track was resurfaced blue, lights were installed and eventually a turf field appeared. A new high school opened in 2009 with a second turf field. Cape fans could follow their teams at both Legends and Champions stadiums. The track was redone in red, and the original turf field has recently been redone in brighter green with “Cape” scribed in both end zones. Legends is ready for another score or decade of sports. Cape is a showcase high school east of Route 1. And it sits right in the middle of the trail system just a mile from the ocean and bay as the gull flies.  

Copenhagen to Cleveland - Roy Jones, 30 years old from Baltimore, ran 19:58 Sunday morning in the Seashore Classic 5K to place third. Roy is a 6-foot-7-inch, 225-pound rower, and former high school and college runner who owns personal records of 1:55 in the 800 meters and 4:00 in the 1,500, which translates to a 4:17 mile. The long drink of water is “a freak,” as sports pundits like to describe athletes whose achievements make no sense relative to body type. Roy is also into indoor rowing, with his performances networked worldwide through computerized systems. Training in Baltimore, Roy can check his times and distances against athletes from Copenhagen to Cleveland. He is a 90th-percentile indoor rower representing the USA. He works in software development, an odd career for a hard body. The letter “M” on his chest stands for MadTeam Indoor Rower. He went to Linganore High School then UMBC, where he also competed in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. His twin brother, Tim, who competed in cross country and distance running in college, can go stride for stride with Roy. I honestly have never seen 6-foot-7-inch twins who can run 1:55 for the 800 meters and 4:17 for the mile. Just incredible.  

Getting cut -  If you are an athlete, you can be cut by a surgeon or by a coach. Surgically, you receive anesthetic and possibly my favorite “nerve block,” but if you’re cut by a coach after tryouts, you wake up before any drugs wear off in your house, which is not a recovery room. As the forever columnist who may go away someday, I don’t forget those sidelined by surgeries or those surgically removed from rosters. I honestly over a long career never was in a position to cut a kid. I don’t think I could have – I’d rather cut myself and make them head coach. There are examples and morals to unavoidable realities and Hallmark cliches (“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”), which wouldn't work on me under any circumstances. Grandmom Rose: “Life moves on and we all eventually run into a team we can’t make or a hurdle we can longer clear.” Now, on that cheery note, I’m going to start training for the next Boston Marathon. What’s the qualifying time for my age group? The answer is 4 hours and 20 seconds. I could walk like an Egyptian and meet that standard, but sadly when I ran 3:38 in the Lewes Marathon at age 30, I only qualified as a 60-year-old, which is just the wrong side of lying.   

Knock knock - It’s going to be an interesting fall as I knock on gym doors and plead at stadium gates for entry so I can cover and share photos and stories. Keepers of the gate can be non-trifling and tough, in no mood to mess with the likes of me with 40 years of credentials hanging around my neck. I've never negotiated entry while wearing a mask (“Just put the money in the bag!”), but it’s about to get real.   

Cycling Slovenia - The top two riders in the Tour De France 2020, Tadej Pogacar and Primoz Roglic, are citizens of Slovenia. Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks, one of the top players in the NBA, is also Slovenian, as is Goran Dragic of the Miami Heat. I was wondering if  Melania Knauss Trump, a Slovenian, would mention how proud she was of her countrymen. I honestly was not wondering. I knew it wouldn’t happen because Donald doesn’t cycle and he can’t touch the rim. And does anyone, excluding NBA scouts, know the difference between Slovenia and Slovakia? And could you find them on a map?  

Snippets - Cape has eight teams practicing after school each day, adding up to 261 athletes. The breakdown is football 60, soccer 49, hockey 45, volleyball 32, boys’ cross country 28, girls’ cross country 16, cheerleading 15 and unified flag football 16. The SoDel Cares 5K slated for Saturday, Nov. 7, is a live road race with a virtual option. Thompson Island Brewery along Route 1 is the start. If you go to the actual geographical Thompson Island, you’ll be virtually and in person the only one there. Go on now, git! 

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