Cape muppets sing Al Green’s ‘Let’s Stay Together’

Friends along the fence
April 19, 2024

Not a fan - I am the guy who has never left high school sports since I walked into freshman homeroom at Bishop Egan in 1960, prompting a burned-out teacher to say, “Sit down and don’t turn around, meathead.” Twenty-five years later, track athlete Peter Cox of Cool Spring would nickname coach Fred “Cabbage Head,” and Walter Gray grew up thinking that’s my actual name. I've seen schools grow so big – like a water head – that new schools were created. I’ve seen high schools split in half. I’m not a fan of the split-in-two models for a community like Sesame Street by the Sea, thereby fracturing free-ranging muppets into different zones. Cape Henlopen is a place and a concept. Tampering with that would be a huge mistake. 

Rope line - In politics, it’s working the rope line (rope a dope comes to mind); in outdoor sports, I call it friends along the fence. My specialty, because I’m friendly, is introducing myself to people I already know. That is always funny and bad for at least one person, either the foggy memory muppet or the fence hanger who is only an approximation of the person you used to know well. I’ve run into a new phenomenon I never saw coming, and that is retired guys who come to games or track meets to watch a neighbor's kid compete. Often it's like Atlantic Lacrosse or a middle school track meet. Some call it giving back; others call it getting out of the house. In either case, it beats ducking when you walk past the bathroom mirror. 

Morgan’s Message - It’s about mental health. Morgan Rodgers was a Duke University lacrosse player who took her own life in 2019. You can read her story online. A phrase I don’t accept is "the stigma of mental illness.” I don’t think it applies across most of American sports culture, but too much pressure and singular focus produce too many stressors. We talk about a better game than the one we actually play. I can feel the heaviness of high expectations from the sidelines. Balance and perspective are hard to achieve when excellence is the standard you seek, and if attainable, it is not sustainable. “Don’t worry, be happy.” 

Triangular times two - Three teams of boys and girls over 18 events, high school track meets take hours to complete, with every attempt of every event recorded. I have fun photographing the carnival atmosphere of it all, but like an aging curator in an art museum, I can’t hang like I used to. There are no numbers worn by athletes, so unless you talk to them after events, you will not know their identity with certainty. And you know Sussex County muppets rarely self-identify; most prefer you to guess and miss so they can make fun of you. 

Garth Brooks - “I got friends in small races.” I’ll be at the 10th annual Oy Vey 5K at 9 a.m., Sunday, April 21, at the Jewish Seaside Community center on Holland Glade Road. There will be a kids’ race and a 1-mile, dog-friendly fun walk. “Does your bulldog bite?” The CoDel Running Festival and Boston Marathon weekend was so nice, but give me a race with a hundred runners and post-race kugel – it just doesn’t get any better. 

Limp Bizkit - A nu metal band released a late ‘90s album called “Chocolate Starfish.” Great title. I’m thinking “Strawberry Seahorse,” kind of catchy. I saw marathoner Martin Rodriguez on Wednesday still limping badly as he came up lame at Monday’s Boston Marathon. I asked him if Limp Bizkit was the theme of this year's race. At least a half-dozen runners I know who did Boston were hurt or hobbled. Some powered through in record slow times while others rode the DNF bus to the finish area. The downside of long distance is months of training and meeting a qualifying standard only to be body-betrayed on race day. Road running is a sport that will beat you up. Mental toughness and fierce focus are major components. I always wanted to do the Boston Marathon on a Tuesday on a motor scooter.

Snippets - If you follow local lacrosse athletes on like I do and don’t see names you are looking for, it may be they stopped scoring, are injured, or playing time is diminished for no apparent reason. I can tell you Mikey Frederick at Mercer sustained a shoulder injury three games ago and his playing time is close to no time, yet he still leads his team in points. Sawyer Walker (Cape) scored a career-high four goals as Xavier beat Eastern Michigan 13-12. On April 6, Joe Coveleski scored four goals in Florida Tech’s 16-14 win over Embry-Riddle. Go on now, git!           


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