Sports Editor’s Playbook, Monday, Jan. 3, 2011


Patrick Newell

– I had the pleasure of speaking with Oxford Academy and Harvard graduate J.P. O’Connor over the holiday break. O’Connor, whose family still resides in Oxford, won an NCAA national wrestling title for the Crimson this past March becoming just the third Harvard wrestler in school history to achieve that feat. O’Connor made his plans known shortly after his national championship that he would finish his undergraduate degree, then continue his post-college wrestling career, while also focusing on his long-term goal of becoming a doctor. O’Connor said that he posted a 12-4 record competing in freestyle tournaments the past few months, and he is also studying for the MCATs for entry into medical school. Just to keep himself busy, O’Connor has served as a wrestling coach for MMA fighter Yves Edwards, a respected lightweight fighter. O’Connor was asked if he – like many other outstanding collegiate wrestlers – had any desire to competing in the fast-growing sport of mixed martial arts. “I’ve spent too long cultivating the brain cells that I have,” O’Connor said.

– One month into the sports season, and three basketball teams have yet to taste defeat. Norwich’s boys, G-MU’s boys, and Bainbridge-Guilford’s girls have a combined 21-0 record. In each case, that unblemished record may be somewhat of a surprise. Norwich returned no starters off of its STAC Central Division championship club from last year that reached the Section IV, Class B finals. Five of Norwich’s eight wins have come on the road, and the Tornado are winning games by over 19 points per contest. G-MU’s record is a bit surprising especially since it went 6-11 last year for head coach Bill Hartman. The Raiders return just about their entire top-six, and have shown lock-down defense allowing only 32 points per game. The fact that B-G is winning games is no surprise, especially when you consider Bobcats head coach Bob Conway has over 400 career wins and no losing seasons in my 16 seasons covering area sports. One might have expected at least one slip-up during the first month, but with such a veteran group of returning players – four of five starters back – Conway has his team finding ways to win close games. Four of the Bobcats’ wins have come by eight points or less including victories of two and three points over Unatego.

– How many people write down the wrong year (the previous year) in the first week of the new year? My typical goal is to limit that mistake to no more than a couple of times. Typing out 2011 in the title of this blog was the first time I have noted the new year in written or typed form, and it does not feel unusual at all. I hardly write down the date on paper at all – except for my check writing to pay those relentless bills that are oblivious to date and time.

– I missed out on The Evening Sun staff’s team-up with The Toddster in the final DVD Patrol of the year when each of our writers named their favorite movie of 2010. No question, the best movie I saw at the theater last year was “Toy Story 3.” This is a story that has aged well, and so, too, have the characters. I mark the span of this trilogy by the growth of my own children, and perhaps it is that connection that had me transfixed on this movie. In this final episode, Andy is growing up, and his toys seem to be forgotten – except Woody. Andy’s favorite toys, bagged up and mistakenly tossed in the trash, escape with the hope of finding a better life. It’s quite an adventure that at times tugs at your heartstrings, and the poignancy of one moment toward the end had me fighting off the tears. Realizing that my own children were growing up hit home as well.

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