Sports Editor’s Playbook, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011

Patrick Newell

When anyone dies at age 31, it’s always too soon. I learned of Krista Bartle’s sudden passing on Friday morning. It was just a day removed from the engagement announcement of her brother Jared that appeared in our newspaper – a most tragic contrast of news items in our paper. I didn’t know Krista Bartle outside of our field hockey communications, but I covered her as part of Oxford’s field hockey team during the late 1990s when the Blackhawks fielded some exceptional teams. After college, Krista came back to Oxford to work at her family’s business, while also helping out as a field hockey coach at various levels of play. Like so many of the Oxford field hockey alumni, Krista was forever tied to her alma mater’s field hockey program. With no other qualified applicants ready to step up, Krista was thrust into the varsity head coaching position a year ago. I could tell she wasn’t comfortable with the “media” responsibilities of her new position, but she saw a program in decline due to lack of participation, and she wanted to help. Krista kept the field hockey team moving forward, and her knowledge and enthusiasm for the game were impressed upon a small contingent of willing student/athletes. The continuation of the program this year was again touch and go, and ultimately the field hockey team survived. When I attended Oxford’s first week of practice in August, Krista was not at the helm. I wasn’t completely surprised since the Blackhawks have had five head coaches over the past 10 seasons. I saved all of my e-mail communication with Krista (yes, I am an e-mail pack rat), and looking back this past weekend, I noticed the increasing comfort and detail in her reporting of events. My lasting memory of Krista is strictly limited to my contact with her as a player and coach. I know she loved field hockey, and although she probably would have preferred to coach at the lower levels, she stepped up to a position for the betterment of young kids and the program as a whole.

Anyone doubt the value of Paul Wonka to the Oxford football team? Even when he isn’t churning out big yards, his presence on the field sets up the rest of the players. Harpursville stalled Wonka for much of last Friday’s game “limiting” him to 100 yards rushing on 29 carries. The Hornets’ effort to stack up the junior tailback backfired as Oxford threw the ball for a season-high 234 yards and four touchdowns in a 35-13 come-from-behind victory. Just a week earlier, Wonka ran for 158 yards against a state-ranked Bainbridge-Guilford defense geared up to stop Wonka. No individual back this season has had that type of success against B-G – not even Walton’s stable of star runners. For those not in the know, Walton has stood alone as the number one ranked Class D in the state for most of this season. B-G coach Tim Mattingly came away impressed after his team prevailed over the Blackhawks. “He’s one heck of a runner,” Mattingly said of Wonka. “He’s quick, physical, and tough to bring down. He’s able to pick his holes, and he does a great job with cutback runs. We knew he would carry their load and we made sure to stay after him, yet he still ran for 158 yards.”

Greene senior soccer player, Alex Driscoll is approaching a milestone. Averaging nearly two goals a game this season, Driscoll scored his 22nd goal of the season in the Trojans’ 2-1 MAC division-title-winning victory over Unatego last weekend. Driscoll has 96 career goals, and with three games this week, will likely become the first boys soccer player since Greene’s Jordan McMullen (1999) to reach 100 varsity goals.

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat