On the verge of “Progress”

• If ever there’s a time of year when The Evening Sun staff has little on their plate, January more than makes up for it. As I’m sure most readers are well aware, it’s “Progress Chenango” time at the newsroom, a time when staffers drink unsafe amounts of coffee and forget what fresh air smells like. Fortunate for me, my share of Progress work is done for another year. But it’s just getting started for our Editor in Chief, who faces the weekend task of putting the behemoth of a project together. The rest of us will be taking turns Saturday to prod her awake by poking her with a stick, and occasionally wiping the drool off her keyboard.

• On Thursday, “Taking Back Chenango County” met at the Sheriff’s Office for the second time sine the group formed in December. First off, I have to say I admire this group because they’ve shown that they love the area – love it – and are eager to make a positive change. I think their efforts were clearly born of good intent and I wish every one involved the very best of luck in what they’re trying to accomplish.

That said (and at the risk of sounding like a downer) it will be interesting to see if anything comes of it. Admittedly, I didn’t attend either of the past two meetings; but I get the impression that many who did are people who genuinely want change but aren’t too eager to rise to the challenge (I have my own term for these types of people, but I’ll refrain for the sake of my “virgin ear” readers). I don’t think it’s fair that anyone show up to these meetings just to delegate their ideas to someone else. My feeling is if you really want to see something good happen, then get involved. If you have an idea, follow through. Be productive. Be hands on. Attending a an occasional meeting to pat yourself on the back is not “hands on” work, but merely cheering from the sidelines.

Regardless, good luck, Taking Back Chenango. If there’s one thing this area needs, it’s proactive measures.

• On an off topic, my job requires that I take photos for front page stories as often as possible. Unfortunately, because my primary beat is city and county governments, I don’t spend too much time with a camera in hand. On the rare occasions I do, I wonder if a monkey could snap a better picture. So what’s a reporter to do but learn more about the photography trade? I recently watched an online video from New York Times Magazine that featured tips and tricks from from a 60-plus year veteran cat photographer. What I learned – other than the profession of “cat photographer” is a thing – is it’s best to be eye-level with the subject, then grunt, bark, moan or groan to get a reaction… I’ll let you know how it works for me.

• Fellow reporter Matt White recently told me that white noise often helps with concentration and focus in the office. I’ve heard this before, so I decided to try it out today. I started with a 10-hour soundbite of a vacuum cleaner. That got old fast, so I switched to “noisy cafe,” then to the sound of rain. Then I started listening to Eric Clapton’s “Let it Rain.” Then the Beatles’ “Here comes the sun.” Before I knew it, things got out of hand and I was listening to the Black Eyed Peas, which I assure does not bolster concentration nor creativity. Maybe I’ll try the whole “white noise” thing again another day.

Top five games I saw in 2013

I thought it would be fun, as I wind down my career at The Evening Sun, to make a series of “top-five” lists on a variety of topics. Today, I look at the best five games I attended in 2013 in descending order. Interesting note, three of the five games on my list involved a loss by the local club.

5. Marathon 3, Greene 2
Greene’s boys soccer team brought an unbeaten record in the sectional semifinals against nemesis Marathon. The Trojans controlled the first half, but gave way to a big Marathon comeback. Marathon scored the go-ahead goal with 19.6 seconds left to apparently clinch the win. Greene, though, pushed its entire lineup forward in a swarm of green of white on the ensuing kickoff. The Trojans’ attack led to a last-second goal that was ultimately waved off by the official. It was a crushing loss, but a tremendous effort, nonetheless.

4. Sherburne-Earlville 14, Frankfort-Schuyler 0
The running joke among some faithful at S-E is that my attendance at a game is the kiss of death for the Marauders. It’s not an unfounded opinion. In 19 seasons covering local football, I have been to around two to three S-E games a year. In about 40 games, I would wager the Marauders have won maybe 10. Of those 10, this season’s win over Frankfort-Schuyler – a matchup of state-ranked teams – was perhaps the biggest since the club moved into Section III in 2002. S-E has come up short in nearly every big game, but the program turned the corner with this shutout victory. S-E finished with a 7-1 record, its best record in 11-man football in 42 years.

3 Norwich 48, New York Mills 45
This came was completed just before the turn of the calendar as the NHS boys pulled off yet another miraculous comeback. Down 14 points with two minutes left in the third quarter, there was no indication Norwich’s fortunes would change. That never-quit mentality led Norwich back and to a triumphant victory in the Stop DWI Holiday Classic Region II title.

2. Harpursville 53, Unadilla Valley 51
Unadilla Valley’s girls were coming off a Midstate Athletic Conference championship the previous week, but had perhaps the toughest first-round sectional playoff game one could schedule. In a third seed versus sixth seed matchup, it was high-quality basketball from the opening tip with each team trading leads. Harpursville led by two late in the game, and survived a UV miss on a last-second putback attempt to advance. Not only did Harpursville advance in this game, it won the Section IV Class C title, and rode that momentum to an appearance in the state finals.

1. Westhill 59, Norwich 58
At number three we had a Norwich boys’ basketball comeback that led to a victory. About 8 1/2 months earlier, the Purple Tornado came up one-poiint shy in the state quarterfinals in a display of fortitude and perseverance. Norwich trailed Westhill by 16 points midway through the third quarter. Nothing was going right, but the patented comeback that has become an NHS staple left Norwich one point short. Norwich forced a late turnover and had possession of the ball with under 20 seconds to play. Unfortunately, it never got that winning shot off. “We just ran out of time,” said Norwich coach Tom Collier after the game.

Follow me on Twitter @evesunpat

A blog about a lot of nothing, or everything

Well, there’ve been requests via the almighty ’30 Seconds’ that we blog more. According to the poster, we should have enough time. So, here goes nothin’. Literally, this will probably be a blog about nothing.

The reporters and I have been working tirelessly on the annual Progress Chenango edition, set to be published the week of Jan. 27. This work is done on top of the regular daily workload, and they’ve been devoting many hours at interviews or sitting at their desks typing away.

This past week has been my busiest in recent memory, and now it’s all a blur. I can tell you I was at the Chenango County Sheriff’s Office four out of five days last week. I can only remember two of the reasons why at this time. Oh, wait – the third just came to me. I still have no clue what I did on Tuesday. I spent a couple hours with Chenango County Court Judge Frank Revoir, and that was interesting. An hour or more was spent with Norwich Police Chief Joe Angelino, and I thoroughly enjoyed that interview. Same goes for the interview I had with District Attorney Joe McBride.

Mind you, I have to write stories about each of the above interviews today, but am opting to blog first, because … well, I haven’t had enough coffee yet and this blog is more mindless.

In addition to my regular duties of building the paper, answering phone calls and emails, managing an editorial staff, drinking coffee, listening to music, and doodling on a white board, and writing, I’ve been doing some other things as a form of stress relief.

I covered county court on Friday because I felt like it. Another reason I wanted to go is because I reported on a meeting held at the CCSO Thursday night where McBride encouraged those in attendance to make a public presence at court, and I wanted to see if his advice was heeded. As for Friday’s court … nope. It was the usual staff, the judge and lawyers, defendants and family, and myself. Granted, some people hold jobs that don’t allow them the freedom to sit in a court room from 10:30 a.m. until noon, but I thought a few people might show and I wanted to follow up.

Reminder to the public if they do decide to check out court, it’s wise to leave your phone in your car, as well as any other cameras or recording devices, and – as always – bring no weapons. I like to go with four notebooks, a pen in my hair (and three extras in my purse … I tend to go places with allllmost dead pens), and four bottles of water. Even though this week will be busy, I want to cover court again Monday to see if members of the public attend.

Shifting gears, as most people know, the body of Christopher Gonzalez was found off of Route 36 on Friday afternoon. I believe I have mentioned the power of social media before, but if not, I’ll touch on that only briefly.

I received 11 messages to my personal Facebook account on Friday that simply said “Hey, what’s with the body found?” or “Body on Pratt Rd!” or “Know anything about the body?” I called the State Police and asked, and was told there was no information. I knew the State Police were leading the investigation, but gave it a shot and called the CCSO too, and hit a dead end, as expected.

One more message was sent via Facebook, and I thought, “Okay, fine. I’m not finding out anything by calling authorities, and I don’t have to build Monday’s pages until Sunday, so I have time. I’ll grab my camera and drive around.”

After traveling down 36 for a short time, I ran into a bunch of police vehicles, so I pulled over at a safe location, got out of my car, and took a bunch of photos. Thank you, Facebook friends, for the heads up.

Reporters attempted to get in touch with police who would confirm reports, but it took a little time. We were told that they would have a statement around 4 p.m. At that time, we were able to release the information we had.

I had planned – for weeks – to spend this weekend in New Hampshire, my favorite place to chill. After this week, I really, really needed to get away. However, I had to cancel my plans because there is so much work to do. I hope to get out there the final weekend of January, otherwise it will be the first month since June that I have not made the journey, and that really bums me out. My time there re-boots my brain, calms down my nerves, and makes my heart and head happy. I come back ready to roll, and it’s such a refreshing feeling. Hopefully the universe will cooperate for a Jan. 31 weekend trip.

Hmm … what else has been happening?

Oh, despite how busy I have been (and will continue to be), I still need to have a life. I checked out the local band The Suspicious Hats at The Blarney Stone Pub on Friday night, and that was fun. They always put on a good show. This was, however, two-fold, as I also needed photos for a story I’m working on about live music in the area. My ginger ale with cranberry juice and a slice (or three) of lime was tasty every time I ordered it. The band played some of my favorite tunes.

I opted to do zero work on Saturday, since I was supposed to be in New Hampshire anyway. It felt nice, but leaves me a lot to catch up on today. Oh well. I love to write, so I can’t complain.

Side-note for the fun of it: I have some of the most hilarious, entertaining friends on the planet. My day of zero work was spectacular.

I realized I need to try more things. I’ve never been on a motorcycle. I only theoretically know how to drive a car with manual transmission. I’ve never jumped out of a plane. I need to check off a couple of those. Soon.

Long-time Sports Editor Pat Newell will be high-tailing it to New Mexico after the winter sports season ends. I am happy for him and his other half to take part in new adventures on the other side of the country, but I’ll miss him. I should find out if he likes cake. Or brownies. Or cookies. And if so, I should make some for him before he leaves.

That being said, we’re on the lookout for a new Sports Ed. If you’re interested, please send resume, cover letter, and writing samples to abiviano@evesun.com.

I feel like I add this in just about everything I write, but:

Dear school bus drivers,

You are not entitled. You’re entrusted with the safety and care of transporting kiddos to and from school. Four-way stop signs apply to you. So do red lights. So do speed limits. In a school zone, you should not be traveling faster than 15 mph. In the city, you shouldn’t exceed 30 mph. The last thing that needs to happen is an accident with a school bus full of children and another vehicle, or a bus-on-pedestrian accident. Seriously. Slow it down and pay attention. I’m sure parents and the general public would appreciate your cooperation. If you want me to stop for you when you put out your stop sign, you need to follow the other basics of travel.

Thanks.

On a related note, the light at the Hale St and Midland Drive/Prentice Street intersection is back in operating order. While it was a four-way stop during the few days it took for repairs of the signal, I witnessed so many people running through the sign. It really makes sense to pay attention when you’re driving, especially since that intersection is so close to the school, and the area sees heavy traffic in the mornings and afternoons throughout the week.

We had some cold temperatures lately, and complaints came from all over. Newsflash: It is January in Central New York. It gets cold. Don’t worry, spring will arrive soon enough and it’ll be muddy and rainy, and I’m sure people will have to gripe about that one. I allow myself one complaint per season. I’ve already used my winter complaint, and I got it out of the way early.

I love rain – as a matter of fact I’m listening to Trevor Hall’s tune “Good Rain” right now – so it’s always hard to come up with a complaint about spring. I guess mine will be something like, “Man, it’s cloudy but warm, I wish it were raining so I could go play in the puddles.”

It has been weeks since I’ve seen my best friend. She lives a 1.5 minute drive away. We just had a conversation about our mutual hate for “skinny jeans.” She is the best.

Alright, hopefully this is sufficient enough to keep the masses at bay for a little bit. Time to make some more coffee, and get to work.

Please be kind to one another. You don’t know what someone else is going through.

Columbo was never on Facebook

Time to make good a new year’s resolution – blog more.

Despite my prolonged hiatus from the blogoshpere, let it be known it wasn’t for lack of trying to post something. Progress. It seems, however, that every time I tried to blog over the last two weeks, something else took priority. Progress. And that something consumed a lot of my time and attention. Progress. And no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get away from it. Progress.

For those who can’t quite crack the subliminal code ever so cleverly and discretely woven in, “Progress Chenango” is underway. My own griping aside, the 10-section behemoth that is Progress Chenango serves you – the reader – as an in depth snapshot of various Chenango County businesses, local governments and non profits, the ground they’ve made in the last year and the goals they’ve set for the year to come. From a reporter’s perspective, all those extra stories equate to late nights at the office, living off burnt coffee and whatever we find in the community refrigerator, and trying to make sense of the night time conversations overheard on Lackawanna Ave. (things that can’t be unheard, unfortunately). As our editor put it: wake, write, sleep, repeat. Sound about right.

I feel I wouldn’t be doing justice to my job as a reporter without recapping a tragic series of events that occurred over the last week. On Monday night and Tuesday morning, Mayhood’s Sporting Goods was burglarized not once, but twice. Stolen merchandise included 22 handguns, several long guns and ammunition. On Wednesday, police released the name of Christopher Gonzalez as a suspect wanted for questioning in relation to the burglaries. And for reasons and causes unbeknownst to the public, Gonzalez was found dead on County Road 36 on Friday – the same day police announced they had also arrested Gonzalez’s girlfriend, Brandy Bousson, as an accomplice in the burglaries just two days prior.

All that said, I encourage everyone to let investigators do their job. Of course, nothing can stop the rumor mill once it’s started. But for the sake of the family and respect for the deceased, I say let the issue be until further information is disclosed.

It just occurred to me, Columbo was never on Facebook. “Just one more thing…”

Lastly, I wouldn’t be doing my job as a reporter if I didn’t also bring notice to the heavy traffic at the intersection of South Broad and the Price Chopper Plaza in Norwich. I was stopped at a red light three times before I made it through. I suspect the Norwich mayor has something to do with it. Scandal? Maybe. Minor inconvenience? You know it.

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Jan. 9, 2014

Basketball Statistics
At the midway point of the season, two basketball teams have the same number of losses with which they started – zero. Norwich is 7-0 and ranked among the top 10 Class B boys teams in New York, while Sherburne-Earlville’s girls improved to 10-0 Thursday night, and recently made an entry into the Class B poll at the 18 spot. Individually, the top three scoring leaders for the boys are David Dufresne of Unadilla Valley at 22.6 points per game; Austin Jasper of S-E, at 19.9 points per tilt; and Zach Wentlent of Greene, who averages an even 19 points per tilt. UV earns a sweep of the scoring leaders with Taylor Davis of the Storm headlining the girls at 17.6 points a game; Lilly Berg of S-E is next at 15.8, and Greene senior Jess David is presently averaging 14.1 points per game.

Rankings
Speaking of the aforementioned rankings, they are available on the New York State Sports Writers Association website, and are updated weekly. Coaches tell me that rankings don’t mean much in the regular season, but they sure do mean a lot to fans – and sportswriters who need something to dress up a game story. In truth, the final poll after the state championships are completed is the only time rankings really matter to coaches.

Don’t stick a fork in me
Earlier this week I officially announced my impending departure from The Evening Sun. Don’t stick a fork in me just yet. I still have hundreds of game reports to bring to the readers, and I hope a deep run in the playoffs will extend my stay. Over the next few weeks, I will share some of my favorites on various local sports topics from the past 19 seasons.

Follow me on Twitter @evesunpat

Sports Editor’s Playbook, 2013 year-end edition

Knowing that this is my final winter sports season at The Evening Sun, we’re beginning to wax nostalgic. As 2013 comes to a close, I have reviewed some of the highlights of the previous 12 months of high school sports, and have pinpointed those moments here. We start with the end of the 2012-2013 winter sports season, and bring you through to December 2013. Not every sport is recounted, but that does not diminish the accomplishments of those not mentioned here.

    Winter Sports (January-March)

Wrestling
A half-dozen local wrestlers finished among the top six in the state at the 2013 New York State Division II Wrestling Championships. Norwich’s Frank Garcia and Tristan Rifanburg along with Greene’s Christian Dietrich were one move away from winning state titles, but settled for runner-up finishes. All three are back this year, and are among the favorites in Feb. 2014. Also placing in the state tournament were Greene’s Mike Beckwith, and B-G/Afton’s Mark Viviano and Chris Cirigliano.

Girls’ Basketball
Unadilla Valley finished with its best record in school history (15-2), and captured the Midstate Athletic Conference championship beating Unatego. The Storm, though, ran into formidable opposition in Section IV tournament play facing Harpursville in the opening round. Harpursville survived a last-second UV shot attempt to prevail by two, and went on to win the Section IV crown and advance to the Class C state finals. Although it made an abrupt departure from the postseason, the Storm were among the best Class C teams in the state.

Boys’ Basketball
Norwich overcame a number of injuries and illnesses to claim it second straight Section IV Class B title beating Whitney Point by 22 points. In intersectional play, the Tornado made a strong second-half rally against Westhill only to fall a point short of reaching the state semifinals. Through the first month of the 2013-2014 season, Norwich is again on top of its game entering January 2014 with a perfect 6-0 mark.

Boys’ Swimming
Norwich threatened to win a division title, was third in the Section IV Class B meet, and had a number of top-five individual finishes. The Tornado have continued that momentum to start the 2013-2014 season, and again could challenge for a division championship.

Indoor Track and Field
On the same weekend Norwich’s basketball team was winning a sectional championship, Norwich junior Matt Murray became the best 600-meter sprinter in the state. Murray became the first Norwich athlete to win an indoor track and field state title when he won the 600 meters in early March. If he decides to defend that title this season, he is the odds-on favorite.
 

    Spring Sports (April-June)

Track and Field
The largest accumulation of standout athletic performances this past spring came on the track. Norwich’s Murray and Brooke Bonney won sectional titles, as did B-G/Afton’s Julia Knapp. All three also placed in the Division II state meet. Knapp was fifth in the 100-meter hurdles; Murray took fifth in the 800 meters; and Bonney was fifth in the discus and sixth in the shot put. All three was also champions in their league and class meets. Additionally, Unadilla Valley’s Dylan Thomsen continued to set new records in the distance events, and won a MAC title in the 1,600 meters with a school-record time.

Golf
Norwich repeated as Class B champion taking the team title by a whopping 16 shots. The Tornado linksters were led by overall low medalist, junior Corey Johnson, who shot a 3-over-par 73 at Maple Hill Golf Club.

Softball
G-MU’s girls had the best season amongst the area teams that we cover. The Raiders finished with double-digit wins and won a first-round sectional postseason game before falling to eventual Section IV Class D champion Afton.

Baseball
While no team in Chenango County advanced past the quarterfinal round of the playoffs, we did see one of the most impressive seasons turned in by a Norwich pitcher in some time. Hurling against some of the best hitting teams in New York, junior left-hander Cody Barnes had the highest single-season strikeout total by an NHS pitcher in over 25 years striking out 81 in 40 innings, while also recording all five of Norwich’s victories.

    Fall Sports (August-November)

Football
Sherburne-Earlville claimed a division title in Section III play, earned its highest state ranking, and hosted its first playoff game since joining Section III in 2002. The Marauders finished with a 7-1 record, its best mark in 11-man football in over 40 years. Norwich qualified for the postseason a fifth straight season, but suffered an opening-round playoff defeat to Johnson City

Boys’ Soccer
Greene won yet another MAC league championship, remained unbeaten through the regular season and first two rounds of the postseason before losing in the Class C semifinals – by a single goal – to Marathon.

Girls’ Soccer
Greene senior Paige Wilcox built on her all-time scoring mark finishing with nearly 150 career goals, the highest known total in Chenango County history.

Girls’ Tennis
Norwich coasted to a STAC East division title, and lost just two matches the entire season.

Field Hockey
Greene again advanced to the Section IV finals, but missed intersectional play for the first time since 2005 losing to Whitney Point by a single goal.

Girls’ Swimming
Oxford’s Abby Voce had the top individual performance at the class meets. The eighth-grader was second overall in the 50-yard freestyle.

Follow me on Twitter @evesunpat

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Dec. 17, 2013

For the first time in the 30-plus-year history of the Norwich Pennysaver Girls Basketball Tournament, a champion was not crowned. Held last weekend, the longtime event – one that we at The Evening Sun cover extensively – was reduced to three teams when Vestal bowed out of the tournament. Norwich coach Josh Bennett said Vestal officials gave notice in late November. With winter schedules set months in advance, it was impossible to scramble for a fourth team to fill the unexpected vacancy.
As we said, no tournament champion, no all-tournament team, and for first-time tournament entries Utica Proctor and New Hartford, just one game instead of the two that were scheduled. It’s not the first impression you want to make when welcoming newcomers to your tournament, and both schools would be justified in not returning.
The reason for Vestal pulling its girls out of the tournament was a conflict with another school event. Not another sporting event, state testing or even an emergency school assembly. A high school with an enrollment pushing 1,200 kids pulled its 20 to 30 junior varsity and varsity girls out of a two-day event for a school dance.
Yes, you read that right.
“Both Joe (Downey, Norwich athletic coordinator) and I made countless calls and emails (to Vestal) to confirm everything,” Bennett said last weekend.
Bennett was furious with how the tournament played out, but after long discussions with the Utica Proctor and New Hartford coaches, hopes those schools will return to next year’s tournament.
It’s safe to conclude Vestal will not be invited back. One of the core principles of athletics is making a commitment – mind and body – to your team. When you’re school does not honor all of its commitments, what message does that send to the kids?

Follow me on Twitter @evesunpat.

Often, bad news is good news at a masqurade.

Bad news is rampant. It’s everywhere, everyday. From the 24/7 news channels spewing fourth from their prospective social and political soap boxes to the press and mass media, it seems everywhere we look we’re fed nothing but bad news. There’s a reason…It doesn’t keep the lights on.
Due to the fact that the amount of sex in broadcast and print is largely regulated by our ethics, (and by ethics I mean the FCC) horrible news of society’s shortcomings and “poverty porn” are a close second; Those are the stories that pay the bills.
The big box news networks routinely and predictably punctuate the news hour with a “happy” segment, which is just one point of media’s “Keep them Fat, Dumb and Happy” pyramid of success. The upbeat segment is just a little hook to simulate some dopamine and keep you numb.
I’ll agree that it’s tough, often seemingly impossible to find a stitch of legitimate good news. Again, there is a reason. It’s not sexy. It doesn’t sell.
I work in the media, and in doing such I see what lies on both sides of the fence on a weekly basis. Folks will complain about there being no “real” news in the paper, others will laud over the reciprocal negativity printed in cold black Times New Roman.
There’s an interesting balancing act that regularly takes place here in the newsroom. I’m sure plenty of our readers assume that we just print and write whatever the heck we want with no regard to anyone, most likely only where they’re on the short end of the stick.
Likewise, no one seems to have a problem with what we print if it happens to coincide with their beliefs.
The fact of the matter is that we spend a great deal of our time deciding what to write, constantly weighing wither or not a particular subject matter is too liberal, anecdotal or conservative in nature. We argue, yell and disagree; once in a while a door will get slammed shut. The goal is to make the stories that are newsworthy available to the community. Not everyone in the community will ever agree with everything published here.
There is some good news to be found, however. Sometimes a positive story blissfully falls through the cracks. If the story is really good, it will perpetuate and resound through a great many people with the aid of social media. Love it or hate it, the Social media forums of Facebook, Twitter, et al. do sometimes serve a legitimate purpose.
Sometimes, a tragedy occurs, and a community comes together to do whatever they can for a family that is in need or in mourning.
Other times, it’s just a simple status post on Facebook revealing a random act of kindness that were bestowed upon unknowing.
Stories like these are my favorite. They, believe it or not, make me want to do good things and bolster the sentiment of good will.
While we all have our own problems, stresses and anxieties; I still maintain that we can all benefit to a degree by doing something for someone else… even if it’s someone you don’t know. You’ll never see an abundance of these testimonials in the commercialized media, though.
You will likely never hear about the person who payed it forward at the coffee place this morning or read a breaking news article about the teen who ushered an elderly woman across the busy street. You’ll probably never hear about the guy who made shoveling snow a contest amongst his six children in order to motivate them to clear the neighbors walks. And you shouldn’t. This is not news. This is human nature at it’s best.
I’m not so sure I’d want to live in a society where performing random acts of kindness was so significant that we had to print it on the front page of the paper everyday. If doing something that has a beneficial implication for another human were so remarkable that we demand to read it in the headlines, whats the point? Who’s ego are we stroking?
How about we complain less about the lack of good news, and make some good news? Think About it.

Norwich adjusts on the fly

Norwich varsity boys’ basketball coach, Tom Collier, said he was in the unfamiliar position of not having a scouting report on Whitney Point. Sure, the Tornado met the Golden Eagles in the Section IV Class B championship game last season, but only two starters from that team returned, and Point had won its first two games this season by an average of 30 points.
In Saturday’s Tom Schwan Tournament opener, Norwich and Whitney Point traded baskets for about a quarter and a half. “It was kind of like two boxers feeling each other out,” Collier said in describing the early play. “We weren’t sure of the type of stuff they would be running, so we made adjustments until we figured it out.”
The tenor of the game changed quickly. Soon after Whitney Point made a tying three to make it 18-18, Norwich shifted to another gear. Over the final half of the second quarter, Norwich scored 16 unanswered points, and rolled into halftime with a 34-18 lead. Storm Cook fueled the Norwich offense early in the game with his aggressive play under the basket, but it was the guards – Mike Sutton, Matt Burke, Chris Trevisani, and Carlos Ithier – who sparked the offensive eruption.
The momentum of the second quarter carried over well into the third quarter. When Mike Oralls made a layup with 2:30 left in their quarter – the final two points of his 20-point evening – Norwich had stretched its lead to 64-26. Doing the math, over a 9 1/2-minute span, the Purple Tornado outscored the Golden Eagles, 44-8. “Let me tell you, Whitney Point is a good team, and they’ll win a lot of games this season,” Collier said. “We started pushing the ball on offense, and they just weren’t able to match up with us.”
Collier said he also made an adjustment in Norwich’s full-court pressure, one that led to numerous Whitney Point turnovers. Those turnovers were converted into easy buckets. “We just throw waves of players at people, and we wear teams into submission,” Collier said. “We had a lot of good players last year, and I think we have even more this year.”
Chenango Forks is next on the docket for Norwich, who play at the Blue Devils tonight.

Clyde Cole Tournament notes
After marking its golden anniversary last season, the Clyde Cole Wrestling Tournament entered the first year of the next 50 this past weekend at Oxford. Before the finals, the Oxford Rotary, sponsors of the tournament, honored former Oxford teacher and coach – and current Section IV sports coordinator – Ben Nelson with its yearly dedication. It was a well deserved honor for Nelson, who has helped promote high school athletics for over 45 years.
One thing to note in the tournament is the official tournament program, one that is extensively detailed with pictures and tournament statistics. Within those statistics is a listing of every person who has won a tournament title since its inception. According to the program, only two athletes have won six Clyde Cole titles, and both wrestled during my tenure at the paper. Oxford’s own, J.P. O’Connor, was a champion from 2000-2005. O’Connor would also win four state titles, and eventually a national collegiate title his senior year at Harvard. Eric Decker of Unatego and later B-G/A also won six Clyde Cole titles. Decker also became the first Section IV wrestler to win six Section IV championships. Decker went on to win three state championships.
I did locate one interesting tidbit. Before Tristan Rifanburg won a state title for Norwich four seasons ago, the most outstanding NHS wrestler I covered was Joe Downey. In his freshman and sophomore years at the CC, Downey ran into a Queensbury wrestler, Dan Stine, who would win one state championship and earn a Division One wrestling scholarship. Downey missed the Clyde Cole tourney his junior year due to injury, but came back his senior year to win his lone Clyde Cole title. That Downey captured just one Clyde Cole tournament speaks to the depth of wrestling talent this yearly event has brought to Chenango County for over half a century.

Follow me on Twitter @evesunpat

If you love me, you’ll send me to rehab…again.

So many topics to blog about this week, so little time. Okay, that last bit was a lie. I have all the time in the world.
Christmas? Doesn’t everyone write about that? Thought so. Forget it.
Drug addicts? Sounds good to me. Here goes.
As a quick disclaimer, I’ll probably part the seas with this one. Inevitably, there’s the possibility that people are going to feel very strongly one way or another about my opinion, which is fine. That’s as it should be as far as I’m concerned. Feel free to fire back with how horrible and insensitive you may think I am based on my opinion. Likewise, feel more than obliged to send me a gold star if the feeling should strike you. I like stickers just as much as the next eight year old.
I guess what peeves me the most about the “addict” label in our society is the way that our government wields the definition around like some sort of justification for criminals. It seems that nowadays, if you just so happen to be under the influence of your drug of choice, the courts pity’s your debilitating circumstance and offers you a road to recovery.
I understand that life is a struggle for some. I’ve been through my fare share of woes, and I know that times are often hard, but hear this: People kick the habit everyday. True Addict’s that want to succeed and have a better life often times do, with no support.
Recently, a well written article went into our paper about shock treatment programs as an alternative to incarceration in New York State. A local Judge said that he was persuaded, in effect, after touring one of the facilities and now will send more convicted “drug offenders” to shock rehabilitation vs. incarceration.
I’m not so convinced. Let’s look at the numbers of repeat offenders. After 36 months post release from Shock, 50% of those who successfully graduated are re-incarcerated whereas 55% of candidates rejected from admission to shock (those who just end up in jail) re-offend and are incarcerated . So is Shock really all that successful at rehabilitating the individual? You go ahead and draw your own conclusions, but I’ll maintain that they do not.
You can find these figures in the Department of Justices’ National Institute of Justice Program focus handbook here: www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/shockny.pdf, I promise I’m not making this stuff up.
I guess my point is: the system cannot force an individual into rehabilitation, so why do they even try? Criminals have the system down to a science. Addicts are often very intelligent, albeit manipulative, attention-seeking individuals. Sit in on and open-forum Al-Anon meeting and you’ll be sure to find victims who are past enablers of addicts. They can tell you first hand how addicts identify people like themselves, whom they can control and use them to their advantage and personal gain. Sit in on a sentencing or two in county court, read the headlines… “addicts” (hard drug users) are regularly granted second and third chances while people under the influence of alcohol or marijuana are not granted the same “understanding” or variance.
Calling a criminal and addict and forcing them into a rehabilitation program is a thin veil and is in my opinion overused. We are becoming a society of enablers, and it disgusts me.

© 2014 Snyder Communications/The Evening Sun
29 Lackawanna Avenue, Norwich, NY 13815 - (607) 334-3276