Anniversaries and championship seasons bring the pressure and the pleasure
Numbers game - I always say numbers track your life, and if you say them out loud, one of two things happens: People either clap or back up. This Memorial Day marks the 30th anniversary of the Cape Gazette, and May 31 is the 54th wedding anniversary of Susan and Fredman. If you’re clapping while backing up, be certain to activate your warning beeper. I remember a conversation with Dennis Forney in front of King's Ice Cream. “Trish and I are starting a new paper, and we’d like you to be the sports editor [we had all worked at The Whale together]. We can pay you $50 a week.” “You ain’t paying me no $50 a week,” I said. “I’ll do it for nothin’, but homey don’t work for no $50 a week.” And man, it’s been nothing but fun. The Gazette is a unique creature in the small seaside marketplace. Now let's sit around the barbecue grill and chew the fat. Sports talk generates the most exaggerations and yarn spinning. Just remember, I have a freakishly good memory, and if you lie to this Philly boy, I will call you on it quicker than you can say “Jack Rabbit.”
School-record sprinters - Fifty years and three high schools ago, Cape track coach Tom Hickman placed a school records board on the wall near the bottom of the steps leading into the gym. Cape has a 50-year tradition of harnessing the talents of fast people. Wednesday night at the Meet of Champions at Abessinio Stadium, the 4-by-100-meter relay team of Maurki James, Konner Knarr, Trey Johnson and Thomas Messick set a new school record of 42.51 seconds in a blistering race where they actually placed fourth. The Sussex Central team of William Harrsion, Brayden Elliott, Malik Kelsic and Timothy Wright ran 41.96 for the win.
Forty-year record - Cape’s 4-by-800-meter relay team of Trey Leggins, Liam O’Donnell, Cardin Benjamin and Ben Clifton ran 8:05 at the Meet of Champions, placing second to Saint Mark’s 8:04.38. The 1983 Cape school record of 7:59 set by Darren Purcell, James Johnson, Hank Stack and Danny Harmon stays on the records wall inside the Legends Stadium fieldhouse tunnel for another year. The Sussex Academy team of Logan Serpico, Brett Parker, Ryan Moody and Justin Friscia placed third in the race with a school record and personal best of 8:14.5.
First-time state champs - I was on the conversation record for saying the Cape boys’ volleyball team was even money to beat Salesianum for the state championship of boys’ volleyball sponsored and sanctioned by DIAA for the first time. I was at Delaware State University covering the state semifinals of girls’ lacrosse. Jeff Trench sent me my first update when I pulled into Dover Wawa, a Cape win in the first game. I knew it was on like Kubla Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan, but let's not go down that road. The down-home fire truck escort was idling; all that was needed was two more wins and a 40-mile drive south back to Sesame Street by the Sea. Congrats to coach Tyler Coupe, and all the coaches and players for reaching so high as to hang a state championship banner that will look over the Big House court for all time as a reminder of the good times.
Four meters - Striped game officials and site managers with badges are attracted to my size 8 head like a grainy photo to a refrigerator magnet. “You have to be four meters from the out-of-bounds line,” I was told before the Cape lacrosse game. I responded to the head ref woman, “You control the venue, but I must warn you, I will cheat like a high school junior on an AP exam.” If all the photographers walked away from a big game, the totem would topple because we are all at the bottom. And that's cool. I ain’t complaining, I'm just saying.
Snippets - A Thursday morning newspaper deadline reminds me of the Bruce Springsteen lyric, “Hey, baby, don’t you fret, we are living in the future and none of this has happened yet.” A dozen years ago, T-shirt guy Greg Skoglund asked me to pick up two boxes of state championship lacrosse shirts, saying, “I know you’re going to the game.” It was at Dover that night. I responded, “Are you crazy? Talk about bad omens!” But those boxes ended up in my 4Runner, and when I arrived 90 minutes before the game, I parked in the shade of the same tree where the team that didn’t know they had lost was sitting on the grass. A small part of me wanted to show them the T-shirts, but the larger part of my double-XL self said, “No, I will carry this secret to the closest hot dog stand.” Go on now, git!