Archive for June, 2008

Norwich sports making progress

Thursday, June 26th, 2008
Patrick Newell

Norwich’s varsity softball and baseball teams have lost way more games than they have won since I first covered their programs in 1996. In 13 seasons, Norwich varsity softball has never won more than five games over an 18-game season. For the boys, this past season was just the second winning campaign this decade.
Those glaring and dubious statistics clearly are not acceptable by anyone’s standard, but I am starting to see evidence of change; change at the grass roots level that could mean a significant turn for the better within the next two to three years.
In Friday’s sports section, there is a softball article about the Norwich 14-and-under fast-pitch softball travel team. The team is off to a rousing, positive start, and is building off the successes of the spring sports season. It is the second straight year this age group has represented Norwich in the Oneonta Summer League.
No, this isn’t the highest level of play these young girls can possibly face, but it is decent competition, and Norwich has a large collection of girls playing softball out of the season. In my dozen-plus years here covering sports, I cannot ever remember an entire Norwich team playing summer travel ball.
Steve Griffin, Norwich High School’s director of athletics and physical education has actively followed local Norwich sports for years, well before he was the AD. He noticed a pervasive culture of losing. And not just losing, getting trounced by the opposition. “That (losing) doesn’t sit well with me,” Griffin said. “I don’t like losing programs, and I don’t want kids to think that it is okay to have a losing season, and to get beat game after game.”
What is true in Norwich, though, is true everywhere: A program’s success is usually a direct correlation to the numbers of youths participating, active parental volunteerism, and quality coaching at the base levels.

*The rest of Patrick Newell’s column appears in the Friday, June 27 edition of The Evening Sun.

Final ode to local sports season

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008
Patrick Newell

Before heading into the summer months, I have one last ode to the 2007-2008 high school sports season, and that includes local results of note at the New York State Track and Field Championships held in Buffalo last weekend.
No, we did not miss any state championship winners. The best of the bunch who attended last weekend were two seniors, Kati Holowacz of B-G/Afton and Peter Schmidt of G-MU, and Oxford freshman Katie Woodford.
Holowacz, who will attend the University of Buffalo in the fall on a track scholarship, lowered her own school record in the 1,500 meters timing a 4:42.13 for fourth-place in the Division II finals, the best overall finish in the area. She’ll move on to compete in the Federation meet this weekend.
Schmidt, who was a standout basketball player in the winter, showed his versatility taking fifth in the D-2 pentathlon scoring 2,896 points.
Last was the Blackhawks’ Katie Woodford. Those in track circles are aware that Woodford earned a spot to the state meet knocked off higher seeded Bethany Norris of B-G/Afton in the Section IV state qualifier by less than a tenth of a second in the 400-meter dash. Woodford proved that finish was not a fluke taking home a sixth-place finish timing 58.97 seconds.
Elsewhere, Norwich’s record-breaking 400-meter relay team of Katie Benenati, Elisha Eddy, Cleo Daoud, and Sarah Bonnell did not place winding up eighth.
*The rest of this column appears in the Wednesday, June 18 Evening Sun sports section.

Predicting the future

Monday, June 9th, 2008
Jessica Lewis

With high school graduations taking place this month, I’ve been thinking a lot about my own graduation, and about how much life can change in a few short years. When I graduated from high school, each student was asked to write where they saw themselves in ten years. As it turns out, it’s not so easy to predict the future. After reading back through my yearbook this weekend, I discovered that very few of my classmates are doing what they predicted after seven years. It made me wonder if anyone can truly predict where they will end up or how their life will go.

My own prediction was pretty depressing. I was never a very outgoing person. In fact, I was terrified of making the transition to college and out of my parents’ home. I predicted that in ten years I would be living very close to home and that I would still basically be the same shy, scared-of-my-own shadow type of person that I had always been. I guess I was partially right.

I’m still scared of my own shadow, but I never would have imagined that I would be in a career that basically forces me to talk to new people everyday and put my opinions in a public forum for all to see. In high school, the idea of having to talk to people I didn’t know was almost enough to send me into a panic attack. Public speaking made me queasy, and I avoided at all costs letting people read anything I had written.

If my guidance counselor had told me I should consider a job in journalism, I would have laughed at her. I spent a lot of time in high school agonizing over what I wanted to do with my life, but in the end, I guess you never know how much you can change or where life will take you until it happens.

Vikings looming large

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008
Patrick Newell

I do not have official enrollment numbers in front of me for this year, but based on my figures from a couple of years ago, Otselic Valley is far and away the smallest school in Chenango County. As small as it is in sheer numbers, the Vikings are looming large in Section III.
I have been accused in the past of “forgetting” the smallest school in our area. I would beg to differ on that one. We make the effort each sports season to give photo coverage in addition to the game write-ups that come at least twice weekly for each sport. It’s hard to miss the significance of this school’s athletic achievements the past two years, particularly on the boys’ side.
This is a talented group of young men, and I know the men assessment is as true as it gets. How do I know? The team’s coach, David Loomis, is one of the great coaches I have ever dealt with in what is now the end of my 13th season covering sports at The Evening Sun.
He is firm, disciplined, principled, organized, efficient, and he brings out the best “team” performance in his individuals. Long flying under the radar, Loomis was named Section III, Class D coach of the year by his peers after last season’s phenomenal 20-win campaign. That came on the heels of a 2006-2007 campaign in which the Vikings won the Class D-2 sectional title. Not one to extoll his own virtues, Loomis deferred his accomplishment to the players, saying something along the lines that superior talent makes a coach look good.
There is no denying, plenty of talent resides in the South Otselic area. Tonight, the Vikings have an opportunity to win a Section III baseball title when they face Rome Catholic at 7 p.m. at Rome. When you attend a school as small as OV, pretty much half the student body needs to participate to field a team. In many cases, the number of players are just “bodies” filling roster spots. In this instance, however, the Vikings do not just have quantity, there is an abundance of quality.
For the complete story, read the Wednesday, June 4 edition of The Evening Sun.