Sports Editor’s Playbook, Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Patrick Newell

I was at a meeting Monday night that included Norwich High School AD, Steve Griffin. Midway through the meeting, “Griff” spoke with great pride describing the selfless actions of the Norwich varsity baseball team. Noting the proliferation of precipitation the past few weeks, the senior baseball players pooled their money to purchase tarps. Those tarps were then placed, with the aid of underclassmen on the team, on the pitching mound, around home plate, and near first base – all areas were water tends to pool. A note about Griff: He remains steadfast in his optimism, and is one who sees the good in people first. He was the same way 15 years ago when he reported games to me as varsity coach of Oxford’s girls’ basketball and varsity baseball teams. Griff never uttered a negative word about his players, an opponent or a game official. He was always gracious in victory or defeat, and the school district will lose an excellent role model when he retires at the end of December.

Part of my job each year is to put together a special section that focuses on local racing. We call it “Race Day,” and this year marks the 17th edition. For those not fully aware, auto racing in Afton is back full-time – pending the weather. The track, now named I-88 Speedway, is promoted by Chenango County residents Jamie Page and Ron Ford. Page and Ford used to race against each other, but developed a friendship over the years. Not wanting to see racing end at Afton, the two friends came together last year to promote the track, and now have it nearly ready to go for the 2011 season. We’ll have further details when we publish Race Day on April 21.

Each year we ask that drivers submit profiles for Race Day in which drivers jot down their racing accomplishments, give a shout out to sponsors, while also featuring a picture of the vehicle. We are about 12 days away from our submission deadline, and profiles are coming in slightly faster than a trickle. The profile form is available at this link: I was also told by Utica-Rome director of operations, Barb Clark, that she will be posting the profile form on the track’s Internet website in the near future. And if you pick up The Evening Sun, we typically have the profile in our sports section at least two or three times a week. In case you’re wondering, yes I am making a plea to drivers. To me, it does not matter if someone rides a motorcycle, drives a car or motorcycle or has a pulling tractor. I’ll take them all, and if you’re e-mail savvy, do not hesitate to send your information and photo to me at