Smiling on the way down is the champion’s way to fall

A man walks into a barcode
May 16, 2023

Sundown smile - Bailey Fletcher cleared the pole vault bar at 14-feet-6-inches May 12 at Lake Forest and was smiling all the way down to the landing zone. A Henlopen Conference champ, he took three good attempts at 15 feet, then rushed off to Philly to join friends at the Taylor Swift concert. My first concert at age 17 in Philly was Patti LaBelle and the Blue Belles rocking their hit, “I Sold My Heart to the Junkman.” Don “Tarzan” Bragg, the Olympian out of Villanova, straight-poled 15-feet-8-inches in 1960.  

Digital divide - Gramps on a hot red track. Rebecca Pepper sees me fumbling with my phone. I hand it to her and she takes a photo of a barcode on Pat Pollock's phone, then taps an app and says, “You are good for live results for the Henlopen Conference Track Championships.” I go to Safari, which pops icons from the last 50 sites visited. I am a lost dog in the Great Marsh looking for fresh water. I remember why I’m there: just to get pictures, not to harness digital bits of related knowledge. On Sunday morning, sitting at the home computer, I go to, which gives full results for every race for boys, girls and unified for the Henlopen Conference and New Castle County championship meets. I become Yellow Tablet Pencil Man comparing Cape boys to Salesianum to see if the Vikings have a chance in the state meet. The DIAA meet is set for Friday and Saturday, May 19 and 20, at Dover High. Bring cash and your phone, and prepare for bar-coded barriers.  

Girls’ lacrosse bracket - Cape is the No. 1 seed  followed by Tatnall, Archmere and Sussex Academy. Cape will host the winner of Charter and Saint Mark’s at noon, Saturday, May 20. Sussex Academy will host the winner of Ursuline and Newark Charter at noon the same day. In other games on Saturday, Tatnall will host the winner of Caesar Rodney and Wilmington Friends at 11 a.m., while Archmere will host the winner of Tower Hill and Sanford at 11 a.m. The semifinals are Tuesday, May 23, with the finals set for Thursday, May 25, at Delaware State University. 

“Somebody Told Me” - Southern feature writer, columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Bragg cobbled together a compendium of columns and newspaper features he titled “Somebody Told Me.” He chose the title because people would often ask, “How do you find out about all this stuff?” and Bragg would reply, “Somebody told me.” I could relate as a columnist over the last 42 years, except that in the final long chapter in my book of stories, the addendum to my off-road, stream-of-consciousness style will be titled, “Nobody Told Me.” I have retreated inside my own loop where I know everything, but from pond walks to pickleball, I’m just missing stuff I must subconsciously want to miss in the first place.  

Noble endeavors - I spent eight hours over two days in 80-degree beatdown heat taking 3,000 photos of boys’ and girls’ Henlopen Conference athletes at Lake Forest competing for their schools, their teammates and themselves. I see it and feel it as a place of promise. I’m stopping the action of the future in motion, providing memories best remembered in still shots. None of it is about money or the Cape Gazette. I told my wife Susan Friday morning, “I know this sounds noble, which I try not to represent, but I spend all the time because those athletes and families deserve it and they appreciate it, plus I need more daylight for Vitamin D. I'm starting to look like a Betty Crocker uncooked biscuit.”

Snippets - Molly Mendes (Cape) finished her freshman lacrosse season at Division II Rollins College in Florida (15-4) with 14 goals and 13 assists for 27 points. Rollins lost to Tampa University (18-2) 15-13 in the NCAA tournament. Cape junior Carrie Clausius has verbally committed to Tampa. Mercer University women lost to Notre Dame 21-6 in the NCAA Division I tournament 21-6. Jackie Wolak, sister to Cape’s Andrew, had six goals and an assist for the Irish. The Mercer loss ended the stellar four-year career of Chloe Schaeffer (Cape), who finished her senior season with 32 goals and 14 assists for 46 points. Jackie Wolak later had five goals and two assists in a 16-15 Notre Dame win over Florida. Lindsay Monigle had two goals and an assist as West Chester beat East Stroudsburg 10-8 to advance in the DII tournament. Josh Reinhold (Cape) was named Coast to Coast Conference Rookie of the Year playing shortstop for the Christopher Newport Captains. Josh is just the third CNU player to win the award. Josh started in all 38 games with a .359 batting average. Get out there and catch some sports action. Wear a hat and bring some water. Go on now, git! 


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