Archive for the ‘Youth sports’ Category

The Boy (my fifteen-year-old) discovered lacrosse at a very late age. He was eleven. He was able to play two years in the local youth league.

He’s a freshman in high school now. He’s already played football and has wrestled at this level. He’s working out with some friends and getting ready for lacrosse tryouts.

I have no idea if he’ll get a spot on the team. I just like the fact that he’s got a goal in mind and is going to fight hard to achieve it.

I like the fact that every coach he’s had in high school so far has encouraged his players to play other high school sports.

The CIAC, which governs middle school and high school sports in Connecticut, includes the following philosophy in its handbook:


Specialization in one sport during the middle level and high school years, to the exclusion of most others, and too often at the expense of other equally valuable and wholesome activities, is at variance with the basic philosophical premise of American education, which seeks to produce well-rounded individuals with interests and abilities in many areas. Students should be discouraged from devoting all their energies and time to a single sport, but rather should be encouraged to allow themselves the experience of more than one sport. Boards of education should advocate and enact policies which encourage students to seek broadly based athletic experiences as well as broadly based academic programs. The school athletics program as well as community based athletic programs must be kept in perspective as providing experiences of many kinds for our youth.

The objective of the greatest possible personal growth of the student is best served by a varied program of activities, academic and athletic, which keeps proper perspective on the total development of the youngster from adolescence to adulthood, and which allows the student to do and be other things as well. School boards, school administrators, athletic directors, coaches, community recreation personnel and the parents of the student-athlete all have the responsibility of insuring that the student is afforded opportunities in several areas.

The formative years should be a time of growing in mind and body, a time of expanding horizons and outlook, not of specialization and narrowing of interests.

Common sense, right? What type of coach would think he or she had the right to preach anything other than those exact words?

Folks, they are out there. They are at every level of youth sports and planted in almost every town in this state. And it disgusts me. It should disgust you as well.

This is one of thousands of articles on the subject that you can access with a simple search.

So, why am I whining about this today? I just finished telling you how The Boy has been encouraged to play a different sport every season. I just quoted the CIAC handbook. I think I noticed most of your heads nodding in agreement when I suggested it was a common sense approach.

Well, I’m pushing the keys ten times harder than normal today because I just had a discussion with a high school athlete whose coach is pounding him with requests that completely ignore the advice that is clearly printed out for every single middle and high school coach to see.

And one would assume that such advice is clearly printed for all to see because it is expected that each coach will show good judgment by following it.

So, what can be done? It’s almost impossible for the CIAC to know what each and every coach is saying to each and every athlete.

That leaves it up to you – you, the parent of that child. If your son or daughter mentions over a bowl of Wheaties that Coach Jones is upset that he or she wants to play another sport, you have an obligation to that child to have a conversation with that coach – or with your school’s Athletic Director, or with your town’s Superintendant of schools.

If it’s happening at the pre-high school level, you should immediately contact the league president or your town’s recreation department. It is a despicable act of selfishness and poor judgment for ANY coach or league to dictate or insinuate the sports that your child should be playing outside of that sport’s normal season.

Hear me now: If your child wants to play one sport exclusively and you have no issues with it, that’s your decision. But it should never be because you or your child are being pushed or coerced by a coach.

That kid I was talking about? He’s good at his sport. He has just decided that he’s got too many more years of high school left to feel like he is being bullied into playing or training for that one sport year round. He told his coach he was going to do what he wanted to do.

I hope he follows through. It would be a shame if he missed out on being able to enjoy another sport. Of course he is fifteen-years-old already. What is it with kids these days? They just can’t seem to make up their minds.


A few random thoughts today:

I hate when I’m finished with my shower and then realize that I forgot to bring a towel into the bathroom with me. Sometimes I’ll just grab the clothes that I’ve just taken off and use them.

It snowed a bit here in the Northeast over the weekend.

My favorite station on Pandora for when I’m working from home is Acoustic New Age. Check it out sometime. I’m still looking for an app that tells Pandora that I’m still listening though.

When I die, I don’t want to be displayed in a freaking casket with people touching me (I hate being touched) and looking at my double chin and how my goatee doesn’t fill in as nicely as George Clooney’s did in some movie I saw him in. Just sprinkle me somewhere and slap my nameplate on a bench along the bike trail.

I have a NY Giants football card collection with cards dating back to 1948. There are at least nine albums up there in the closet. Kids don’t collect cards like they once did. I remember riding my bike down to Midi Mart or Frank’s Stationary with a pocket of change and then sniffing the fresh cardboard and stale gum. Ah, the scent of a… football card.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice anywhere.” Martin Luther King, Jr. That’s my favorite quote.

If your kid is looking for a great African American figure to talk about in class during Black History Month, try the turn of the century cyclist, Marshall “Major” Taylor. He’s a world champion who most people have never heard about.

Hold on a second please. Where’s that bottle of water? I need a sip – just a sip. I didn’t think five minutes of typing would make me that thirsty.

Remember what Peter Parker’s uncle told him. And remember that if Peter hadn’t let that bad guy go, poor Uncle Ben would still be alive today.

At 49, I still feel like I’m a work in progress. Is that bad?

I can’t stand how impatient some of those investors on Shark Tank get. Sometimes Mark Cuban will say, “I’m a basketball guy so I’m giving you 24 seconds to make up your mind.” Holy cow! It takes me longer than that to punch in my four numbers at the ATM to get twenty bucks, let alone decide my entire future.

A brand new friend of mine emailed a wonderful poem to me last week. It’s called, Please Hear What I Am Not Saying. It’s about the masks we sometimes wear and the words we sometimes speak and how we are often just begging to be heard – to be seen – to be helped.

I’ve been writing a weekly column dedicated to issues surrounding youth sports for about a year and a half. There are a growing number of parents who are unhappy with how some of their community’s programs are being run. Most parents are worried about the repercussions that their child might ultimately suffer if they become one of those parents and express their concerns.

A Sporting Dad’s View covers many of these important topics. Take a click over and check it out. I’d love to hear what you are doing in your town to address some of these issues. And what would you think of a forum where an outside group would come in and meet with an organization’s board members, coaches, and parents with the mission of creating an environment where every child can thrive?

Yes Pandora, I’m STILL listening. Where’s that bottle of water? I need another swig.

When you are a hugely successful columnist you often have to deal with unpleasant people. Sometimes they are from your past and decide to crawl out to try to discredit your integrity.

The sad part is they don’t realize that nobody cares what they have to say. But I really got a kick out of this one because we once served on a youth sports board together.

And then I noticed that she was commenting on some of my columns here and there. And then she tried to crash in on my FB page so I blocked her. And I ignored her comments because some were under fake names and I think she may have even been fighting with herself in some of the posts.

And now she’s sending emails that speak of people and issues from years back. I don’t think she likes to be ignored. And if she does have any friends who read this blog, perhaps she’ll read it and REALLY start to act up.

So check this out. I’ve blocked all names…

Her initial email:
Ron I saw (Jane Doe) the other night at  (High School) Grad Party. She is still working the volunteer circuit. I guess it’s where her friends are. How is she doing? She seemed to be the same as always; talking really fast, not focusing on real life things lIke the person in front of her. Does she even realize that I am a human being and not just a “thing”. She’s been in (their town) too long. She, like many of us, needs to get real. I hope she realizes this soon.

My respond:
Haven’t spoken to her since (the league banquet at least 5 years ago – maybe more). 

Her email #2

Remember when you presented her with that black and white picture?  I thought that was from the heart?  I guess it was just a business relationship.
I heard that her and her husband split up.  At least the kids are grown up and it won’t hurt them much.
Looks like you’re finally understanding the youth sports deal and that COACHES are a huge part of the problem.  Coaches seem to be the biggest problem in fact.  Parents (helicopter parents) are out there, yes.  But most parental anger comes from the coaches playing “favorites”.  And the favorites are not always the best players, not the best sportsmanship.  The favorites are the sons of the Coaches business relationships and friends of the Coaches’ son also.  It’s ridiculous how blatant coaches can be.  They don’t even try to hide it !!
BTW, my husband  told me that (former player) was a recipient of the (award that I present to a player each year and is voted on by a panel of parents).  Are you kidding me???  That kid is the least sportsminded (sic) kid I know.  He’s a prima donna big time.
He lost one of the biggest games in (our high school’s) history.  He got sacked at the end of the game and his Mommy had to peel the kid off the ground and walk him off the field.  Yup, that’s what I call courage !!  He’s a big baby.
You should have given the (award) to (another player).  He’s playing at (college) now and he deserved the award.  Not the big baby (player).

My response #2
Lol. I’ve always understood the problems of youth sports. 

(He) was very deserving when he won the award. 

Her email #3
Perhaps (he) was deserving in (your league’s) terms ‘cuz (your league) was an easy league to play in.  Put (him) under some real pressure in Pop Warner in (another town) and he would have a verrrry difficult time.

The kid is a big baby.  And to think that you overlooked (another player); the most deserving (league player) ever of that award !!  What a political shame.  It’s clear you were looking out for the parent who had the biggest mouth — (the father of the recipient).
(The recipient) is the most MARKETED kid ever.  His parents should own a marketing company. They would be brilliant.  And you fell for it.  Marketing your kid should be illegal.  If I was as good as (the father) at this trick, my kid would have everything like (the recipient) and his younger brother get.  With not much talent at all I might add.  Greedy family.  They will step over 12 dead bodies to get to their goal and they are not even on the football field !!  But they will use their money, power and influence to get it.  Sickening family.
Remember, like (a former coach and parent), I am from the neck of the woods that KNOWS THEIR SPORTS.  Not like the CT folks. 
You should be ashamed of yourself for letting politics rule (the league).  You kicked me in the ass when I was (on the board) and I was only trying to do something good and safe for the kids and you used politics.  Sickening.
I can’t believe people take your Blog seriously.   You don’t know _ _ _ _ about real sports.

Back to my commentary now
So there you have it. A crazy email from another adoring fan. Should I be scared? I’m sure I haven’t heard the last from her. Especially because I have not replied to her last email.

This is an example of what’s out there my friends. I have to laugh when a person like this tells me that I don’t know about youth sports and I’m a part of the problem.
Ugh – Can I get some bodyguards please?

This is also from 2003. A pigskin is another name for a football. I believe I was trying to write this from the viewpoint of the football and everything that it had witnessed during a season of youth football. However by the end of the poem, the vantage point becomes rather blurred as the focus becomes a man who can no longer coach in the league.  I was part of the board that had to tell him he could not return the following season. I read this during the banquet that year.

I’m just a pigskin
not thin-skinned
but straight laced and oblong

I journey deep down field
and into the cusp of the hyper bowl
that you call your own

I’m elliptical
if you care to know why
I’m not in the place
where you thought I might land

You have no idea what I see
as they scurry back to the huddle
to await my measured spot

Or how their faces glower
from the middle of the pile

Or how they grimace with pleasure
like crusaders
in celebration of being rash

And you have no idea what they say
and how they taunt
and how they bawl
as they pick each other off the turf
like moist lint
on the screen

Those demented little hogs
hold me
like a floatation device
while they tread mud and drown
in their own sloppy delight

Then one little player
cannot find
his father
because he is too busy
to be bothered
with a field
with a cell phone
with a chance
to just play
or watch

I’m just a pigskin
and I cannot begin to explain
why I am here

But I like the hands as they grab
and the arms as they stretch
and the legs as they gallop
like an infant lying on his back

And his mother remembers
what is was like to cuddle
her little boy
as she holds herself back
from the mud pit

I am just a pigskin
passing through here
like a postcard
or a postscript

I am a segment
of your memory
the photos that stay locked
of your upper stories

There’s a coach staring
past his car
arms across his chest
different from the rest

He’s weeping inside
saying goodbye
to his game plan
as the sun rudely sketches
the rough lines on his face

I am just a pigskin
but I too weep when I am sad
and I scream red and I bleed
when I am hurt

And I lose sleep and I toss and I turn
end over end
and I yearn and I yearn
and I yearn
for that coach to know
that he’s still a friend
and that I will miss him

I’m just a pigskin
if that’s what you think
if that’s
what you think

A local radio host made a comment on his show last week that I’d like to disagree with.

A caller commented on how soft our kids are becoming. His example was that even after a season where his son’s team had not won a game, each child was still given a trophy. He went on to joke that if they had won one game a ticker tape parade would have probably been held in their honor.

The host agreed with him and called it the “wussification” of our youth.

He continued that the practice of every child making a team after the age of 9 or 10 was also a contributing factor to turning these children into wussies.

Here is the gist of the host’s point. “They (our children) need to realize that not everyone is going to be good enough to make the team. And how is this going to prepare them as adults when not every person is going to get the job they are after?”

I’m not sure where to begin. Perhaps I should state that I’ve been involved in both coaching and administrative positions in youth sports for over twenty years.

So let’s start with my firm belief that there should be a spot for every child in youth sports leading up until at least high school. I understand there are elite travel teams and that’s fine. For the players that do not make the cut however, they need to land on another team in a less competitive or equally as competitive environment.

Robbing our children of a chance to have FUN playing a sport regardless of their skill level is not going to send them into adulthood ill prepared. In fact it is at this very level where a majority of these children will have the only opportunities in their lives to play organized sports. Because yes, once high school rolls in, it becomes a competition to win the playing spots that are available.

I’m here to tell you that the playing field is usually not a level one when it comes to the fairness of how a child is judged. This is the premise to my contention and the lessor known and more controversial aspect to youth sports… the ugly politics some parents use to pollute many of our leagues. For those of you that have not witnessed it, let me give you some examples.

We’ll take baseball. The highest level typically is filled with 11 and 12 year-old players. And quite often there are barely enough spots to enable them all to play at that level together with the friends and classmates that they’ve been with since the age of five. However, Mr Coach wants his 10 year-old son along with his buddy’s 10 year-old son to play together on his team. These two children, while perhaps talented enough to play up a level, should in my opinion yield to the older players. But Mr. Coach has now taken an opportunity away from two deserving 11 year-olds who are told that they need another year at the lower level to sharpen their skills. They are in essence cut from a team of their friends and peers. In all reality this move is going to put them further behind and in some cases to the point where it can take them a couple of years to catch up to the other kids in their age group. Many times the child becomes discouraged and will leave the sport before realizing his full potential. I’ve seen it happen more times than I care to share with you. It’s wrong.

Now for the most alarming scenario of them all. And if you don’t think this exists my dear readers, you have not been paying attention. We have before us a group of three overzealous youth soccer coaches. They have egos much larger than any parent coaching a youth sports team should be allowed. All three of these egos are aboard for the ride so they need lots of space. They have been “grooming” a group of kids to become the next World Cup Champions. They play multiple sports together. When one of the less-talented “outsiders” makes a mental or a physical mistake on the playing field he is yelled at as he comes off the field to the point of tears. After the game he is ridiculed in front of his teammates. More tears. He drops out of the sport because he is deemed by this group of Knuckleheads to not be good enough to succeed on THEIR team. They have systematically squeezed him out. Now open your eyes and take a good look at this castaway. HE IS SIX YEARS OLD.

Fast forward four years. He is now ten. He’s been playing in the backyard with Dad and a few other of the neighborhood kids. Hey he’s actually really good and he’s regained his confidence. He’s ready to give it another shot! Good for him right? Aww but guess what? He’s been out of the loop for too long. While he’s probably good enough to make the elite team, he’s been long forgotten by the Knuckleheads who now control that division in the league. But he can play down a level. We wouldn’t want to put him with the other ten year-olds after such a long layoff, that would be an example of the wussification of youth sports.

Not only is it wrong, but it is proof that when an organization is run by a group that has its own agenda in mind, the children will end up paying the price.

This only begins to support the need to let every child play team sports regardless of skill-set. There is plenty of time once high school begins for our children to learn that as they get older they can expect the stakes to become higher. It’s all part of the natural progression towards adulthood.

Childhood is where we learn our likes and dislikes. It’s where we are allowed the mistakes and second chances that won’t affect the outcome of our lives. It’s where we discover courage and fear and about striking out or scoring touchdowns. But how would we have ever harnessed the power or our full potential if SMACK in the middle of the big experiment we were told to pack up and go home?

Finally I’d like to give my thoughts on another topic that the host and this particular caller talked about. The host indicated that political correctness and its intrusion upon old school sporting terms was getting out of control. His example was “suicide sprints”. It’s when kids sprint back and forth on the court or field from line to line. He laughed about his son’s coach changing the name of the exercise to “lines”. I wonder if the host has ever had to deal personally with the horrors of suicide. Or if he realizes the epidemic of teen suicides in this country. It may seem silly to some but not to the family that has been through it. Not to the sibling of a brother that is now gone. Does he need to hear, “Ok it’s time for suicides!”. Of course not. Is it a big deal that we rename such sprints? Of course not.

Many, many years ago my oldest son’s best friend was a “little person”. His mother couldn’t understand why the local youth football league had to have the word “midget” in its title. She even lobbied for change. Put yourself in her position. Forget about everything else that surrounds these discussions and imagine if you were the parent of a “little person”. Do you not think that he’s already getting teased enough and having the word tossed around in a derogatory manner? Do you not think it’s a bit hurtful to hear the word being associated with a circus side-show?

Thirteen years ago I joined a local youth football league’s board of directors in another town. My first motion was to replace “midget” with “youth”. It passed unanimously.

Do I have all the answers to correct the problems that I’ve spoken about today? Not all but probably 75% of them. But it takes a group of open-minded adults to make the proper changes. It takes checking egos at the front door. And it takes just a little bit of compassion and common sense. Until that perfect storm can converge and conquer the mentality of the Knuckleheads, youth sports will continue to be held hostage by their reckless egos.

   There is very little in my thirteen-year Farmington Valley Youth Football career that I am more proud of than the founding of the Distant Replay Award. It began more as a tribute to the first recipient, Carl Morrissey, for setting the standard of how I believed players should carry themselves on and off the field.   
   Carl was a fierce competitor as well as a gentleman on the field. If you think that’s a bit of an oxymoron I’d beg to differ.  He never missed a game or a practice (and as the child of a board member his parents expected him to pitch in on Sundays before and after his game). He excelled in school and gave back to the community as a volunteer. He and another player set-up the league’s first website and Carl maintained it even while in college. While in high school he was in charge of the announcer’s booth on game days.
   The award quickly catapulted to a level that took me by surprise and now every year our little panel agonizes for days and days until we agree and come to a decision on who will be the recipient.    
   This was the 11th season that a “retiring” A-squad player was presented with the Distant Replay Award. The premise behind the award is to promote a sense of lineage within our young league.

     Distant Replay is a book that details the 25th Anniversary Reunion of the 1966-67 Green Bay Packers as recounted by Hall of Fame guard Jerry Kramer.
   Mr. Kramer’s underlying message is one of togetherness and the satisfaction of knowing that you can always return home. As stated on the inside flap of the book, “It is the love story of a bond among men that has endured for two decades.”
   Each year the MudHogs welcome the previous season’s recipient as a guest speaker to our annual banquet to share some of his experiences since leaving us. He also has the honor of passing along the copy of Distant Replay that he has had in his possession for the past year. There is space inside the book for each recipient to write a message for those that follow.  
   The award is presented to a MudHog that has excelled both on and off of the football field. He is a positive influence for his classmates as well as his teammates. He is not necessarily the most talented football player on his team. He is respected by his peers; unselfish, unassuming, and unspoiled. He leads by example.
   The award is not for winning  a contest in the purest sense of the phrase. There is no competition involved. It is simply a means of promoting a MudHogs family that extends beyond rosters, seasons, victories, or town borders. It is more like an invitation to all former MudHogs, regardless of hometown or future high school, to come back for a visit, throw the football around, and say hello to the family.
   This past Tuesday we held our annual baquet where we announced a new recipient for the award as well as welcomed back last season’s recipient.

   For those that are interested, I’ve supplied the details of all the nominees and the speech of our 2009 Distant Replay Award recipient below just as it was read to the 550 guests in attendance:


(ME) When I announce your names please come up to the stage and line up here…

The nominees…

 Harrison Gill, Scott Bernard, Gabe Folkwein, Cam Daley, & Dan Hardiman

5 nominees

5 distinct personalities

5 extraordinary stories

5 wonderful young men

 How do you choose one of these young men from this group?

A panel of seven parents had the difficult assignment of narrowing 5 down to one.

Let’s learn a little bit about each finalist…   

Cam Daley

 From Coach Kennedy:
     Cam was an outstanding football player for us this year and some may argue that this is why his teammates looked up to him.  I would argue that what he did on Sunday only supported who he was on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.   Cam is the consummate team player, who never challenged a coach or disrespected a teammate or an opponent.
     I once asked what Cam said in the huddle after a second long touchdown had been called back due to a penalty.  The answer was simple.  Cam got back to the huddle and said, “Let’s try to do it again.”
     In asking my sons what they liked best about Cam, the response was “quiet football“.   I never heard the phrase before but it was explained that it meant Cam led by his actions with very few words. 

From the mother of a teammate:
     I admit Jimmy Murphy dazzled me with his ferocious tackles in A-squad last year.  But I have never seen a player like Cam Daley in this organization.  I can honestly say I enjoyed watching him as much as my own boys.  I’m just so glad my son had the good fortune to have Cam on his team!  He has made my son a better player…

How Do You Choose?

Gabe Folkwein

From Coach Aldridge:    
     There hasn’t been a practice all season where this young man hasn’t smiled and caused others around him to laugh and smile along with him!  Whether it was the hot days of late August or the cool days of early October, you could count on Gabe to say something that would be uplifting to our team… “Hey, look at that rainbow!”  Or, “Check out that full moon!”
     His attitude is as great as his smile!  He is a team player and role model who would make any parent proud!  His sportsmanship is as unyielding as his positive attitude!
     Our team has had its share of challenges this season.  We are winless at 0-7 as I write this.  This would be enough to make most boys lose hope.  Not this MudHogger!  Even with the news that he had fractured his wrist, he still smiled and talked about healing in time for the All Star game!

From His Parents:   
     Gabe may not be the best player in A squad, and he might not be the one that leads his team, but he has a huge heart…and I think that is something that is special and that not every player that takes the field has.  Gabe was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when he was 7 years old.  Back in Virginia, at that time, he was in his second year of pee-wee football.  He got minimum plays, but he made an impression on his coaches.  They gave him a special award for having the biggest heart on the team.  Six years have passed since then, and I still think that he proves, from season to season, on and off the field, that he has a huge, caring heart.
     This year, he is a totally different kid.  He has a huge heart but his head has been in the game, and that has shown on the field. 
     Gabe works hard at school; harder than some others simply because his disability requires him to do so.  And even though his grades aren’t straight A’s by any means, he works hard and puts his all into every assignment that comes his way.  He loves to help kids at school so he belongs to a club called Peer Support.  He works with other kids that have disabilities such as Down’s syndrome and Cerebral Palsy. 
     More than anything, though, he cares about his teammates.  This year’s team has been plagued with injuries.  Gabe has consistently expressed concern about what has happened to his newly found friends.  He just wants everyone to have fun. And that’s really what the league is all about.

How Do You Choose?

Dan Hardiman

From his mother:
     Dan started playing tackle football with the MudHogs in second grade.  That same year, Dan started playing the cello.  He soon started with private lessons through the Hartt School and most Saturdays during the school year are spent playing with the highest level Suzuki orchestra at the Hartt School.  He taught himself to play the guitar and the drums and now wows fans at IAR with the band he formed with his friend Rob Lynch and occasional others.
     In addition to his interests in football and music, Dan is also a Boy Scout with Troop 68, with the rank of Star.  He has spent countless hours serving his community through various scout projects, does lots of hiking and camping, and has so far earned 19 merit badges.  His recent work on the Personal Fitness merit badge inspired him to begin a regular program of weight lifting and running.

 From Coach Dlugolecki:
     This was my second season coaching Dan.  Although he has been one of the larger players on the team, he is typically a quiet kid on the sidelines despite his size.  He was a top player drafted this season demonstrating that he has certainly matured as a football player.  More important, he is a well rounded individual that truly cares about people. 

How Do You Choose?

Scott Bernard

From his parents:
     During the past 5 years, Scott has remained serious about his school work, typically maintaining an “A” average in his classes.  He has become increasingly more active in leadership roles at his school serving repeatedly as student council representative and now an Executive Board member, as well as the Chairperson for the Student Council’s Service Committee leading new service outreach programs for the Avon community. Scott has sought opportunities for continuous personal improvement picking up guitar, winning awards and becoming published several times as a poet and artist, winning the travel league championship as a soccer goalie, and representing Connecticut and the rest of the Northeastern United States at the Jr. Olympics Championships in Nebraska as a finalist in javelin.  
     You can tell Scott it can’t be done, but he won’t listen… The MudHogs have taught him to believe the impossible is possible when you are standing across the line of scrimmage from a guy that’s twice your size. And it only takes one last-minute sprint across the goal line to believe that you can accomplish more with a team than alone… that’s what Scott’s all about – that’s what MudHogs football has helped him learn…

How Do You Choose?

Harrison Gill

From Coach McLaughlin:
     Harrison is the type of young man every coach dreams of having. If you ask him to do something, he does it without saying a word and he does it to the best of his ability.  He was defiantly one of the leaders on our line offensively and defensively. He is a very quite kid, and leads by example.
     He is one of the toughest players I have coached.  During our 1st playoff game this year he was hurt and lying on the field.  I ran out on the field with the EMT and we asked him were he was hurt.  Harrison said he was ok, the EMT asked, then why are you lying on the field.  He said he was ok and it didn’t hurt anymore.  He is so tough and didn’t want to come out of the game.  He came out unwillingly for a few plays and was right back at it giving 100% effort again.

From his parents:
     Academically, Harrison has excelled in the class room.  He currently has a 92.8 average in 6 core subjects.  In addition to his class room work, Harrison plays the saxophone for the 8th grade band.  
     There is never a time when Harrison has a bad thing to say to a teammate or coach.  He is always a good teammate and a good sport.  He will help a player up after a big hit, congratulate a player on a good play, or try to encourage a player when things don’t go their way.  He is the first one to console his brother Tucker after a tough loss or help his sister Macy practice her MudHog cheers.  He tries to help them both learn the lessons he has learned: patience; persistence; and passion.

How In The World Do You Choose?

Before announcing the recipient of this year’s DRA, I’d like to welcome back the 2009 Distant Replay Award Recipient:

Terrence Brophy


When I began thinking about this speech, and as I was reading the book, “Distant Replay”, everything came back to one point: I just love the MudHogs! When I was remembering what the past recipients of this award said in their speeches, they mentioned hard work, determination, and team work. All of which were true. However, I thought there was more to it than just that, more to it than just on-field success.
     There was a bond made between the players in the book I received that was full of love and reliability in their own personal life. This book got me to thinking of things as if I was writing my own “Distant Replay”.  Just recently, my high school freshman team played Avon. This rivalry has always been strong, and I found a couple of my past MudHog teammates on this team. When I was knocked down, I found just as many of my old MudHogs teammates from Avon helping me up, as I did my own Canton team. When I got injured going out for a pass, I heard multiple, “are you okay’s?”  from Avon.
     There’s a certain bond that you make in this sport that you can’t find in any other. Down in that mud pit at Farmington High School, you are fighting, breathing heavy, sweating, bruising and picking each other up every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
     After that Avon game, I didn’t greet some of my old teammates with just a good game, or a nice seeing you. I found Jake Ernst, and Sean Neagle, some of my closest MudHog teammates, at the fifty yard line and gave them a hug as if they were my brothers. I was also thinking of my former teammates from Burlington and Farmington, Trevor Watts and Drew Invergsten.
     Additionally, in the book, the players loved their coach, Vince Lombardi. I learned so much from my MudHogs coaches, Mr. Neagle, Mr. Earnst, Mr. Watts and Coach Rob, and took so much from them. They always stressed it wasn’t the size of the player that mattered. It was the size of the heart. This was important to me as I was an undersized player. Also, when I did got knocked down, they were never mad, they knew that if I got back up and chased after that play, I was just as successful as the person who knocked me down. A memory that really shocked me was that in my favorite season, my team went winless. I knew that I played as hard as I could and had fun and that’s all that mattered.
     In conclusion, this award I received brought back memories, and reminded me of how great this league is. I hope all of you listening to me right now appreciate your time in MudHogs, and with your teammates, as much as I had. Take something from this league, and from this speech.
     Best of luck to the next recipient of this award, it is a real honor. Thank you all for listening, and have a great rest of the evening.

As one parent wrote to me in an email several years ago:
     “Being nominated is the same as winning.   It may not seem that way to a 12 or 13-year old.  This is a great reflection on them, on the program, and on the way they are perceived by their coaches and parents.  This award is important for just that reason.  We need to recognize kids that are doing it right, setting an example and giving the young kids something to look up to.   We choose one winner because that’s what tradition tells us to do, but we must be sure to let these kids know that we are equally proud of all their accomplishments and proud that the choice was so difficult.” 

 The recipient of the 2010 Distant Replay Award is:

Cameron Daley

 From Cam’s Mother:
     Cameron is such a great role model and teammate.  He has never offered anything but positive words to teammates and opponents.  He celebrates his teammate’s victories while helping to encourage them to learn from their mistakes. 
     Cameron works hard in school.  He is an honor roll student and a member of the CMS Band.  He represents his school on 3 sports teams.  He was a past member of the Substance Free Students club.  He is a member of our church youth group in which they do outreach community service work. 
     Cameron displays the same values in all those activities as he does in football.  To Cameron, if asked what his favorite sport is, he will say Football.  This is his passion in life.  I am proud to be the mother of a boy who has learned one of the most valuable life lessons with an organization such as this.  I believe the MudHogs have helped define who he is on and off the field.
     MudHogs Football isn’t all about winning and losing football games. To me, a MUDHOG is being your best!!  He handled the disappointment (of losing the Championship Game) with such poise and style.  He was congratulating the other team members – former teammates and friends he has made along the way.  True sportsmanship – to the end!

Ladies and Gentlemen… one more time for Cameron Daley.

I fell asleep early last night.

When I awoke at 1am, I watched 24 and then switched to SportsCenter.

Mark “the Bird” Fidrych had died. He was found under his dump truck on his farm outside of Boston earlier on Monday.

My father coached my younger brother’s Little League team in 1976. It was the same year that Fidrych became a pop icon as a kid who won 19 games for the Detroit Tigers and the first player to win The Rookie of the Year Award and named the starting pitcher of the All-Star Game.

I had a front row seat in the dugout that season at my brother’s games. I was 4 years his senior and getting my first shot as a teacher.

I proceeded to encourage my brother to act like the Bird whenever he took the pitcher’s mound.

He was a little reluctant but I was able to convince him into putting on his own little “Bird” show one warm early evening in Forestville. I made him talk to the baseball between pitches. I yelled out for him to kneel on the mound and use his hands to fill in the holes with the pebbly dirt.

I don’t think my brother was completely comfortable raking the mound with his fingertips at the beginning of the inning and talking to the baseball before sending it toward the batter. But, holy mackerel, for a few short innings that spring, my little brother was my little bird.


To many baseball fans, Harry Kalas was the voice of the Philadelphia Phillies. I remember him as the soundtrack to my football memories.

Mr. Kalas was also a narrator for NFL Films. As a young man in my early twenties, I’d stay up all hours of the night recording anything and everything that NFL Films had to offer.

I have hundreds of hours on VHS tape of NFL history lessons with Mr. Kalas as my instructor and host.


As adults, we tend to lose more and more of our childhood memories as each day turns into the next. Losing two contibutors on the same day is way too much to replay at once.