After Further Review
So many things racing through the mind as we sit here contemplating and anticipating, the start of spring:
• Watching all these sports teams practicing inside as they walk past the still snow-covered and mushy ballfields each day, brings back memories of spring baseball years ago. First of all Ephrata folks, give thanks for the amazing facility you have on Park Avenue in the former Science Press building. My experiences in the spring were as both a baseball player in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, and then again as a coach in the late ‘80s to mid-90s. In those days, not only did we not have anything even remotely close to that facility, we also didn’t have any of the very cool equipment inside &tstr;save one pitching machine which hurled only tennis balls. Now even as a somewhat healthy young man, trying to see an old faded tennis ball shoot out of a beige pitching machine, in a beige gym, took all the eye power a 16- to 18-year-old could muster. It really was no way to judge a player’s ability -at least that’s what I kept telling my buddies as I flailed away at ball after ball. I tried to keep this in mind years later when watching players during tryouts. I would plead with coach Tom Tomasky not to judge players who missed a lot of balls and instead, try to figure out who could play other ways. Now again, we really didn’t have any nets, tunnels or other equipment to aid us. There was really just a lot of running in the hallways, taking grounders off the basketball court floor and long-tossing from one end of the gym to the other. In the end, you just did your best to try and judge who will best be able to help your team and hope against hope that you can get outside as quickly as possible. Then, after about two weeks of spring sports weather, you are more than ready to go back inside again. Enjoy!
• It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been 20 years since perhaps the greatest example, in my time here, of public input influencing the decision of a government body and administration. In the years since the time the EphrataAreaSchool District decided to scrap the idea of putting in a KindergartenCenter -where all the kindergarten classrooms around the district would be located in one building -I have mentioned countless times how the public’s outcry against this concept made the difference in getting it shelved. So many times we have heard people say they aren’t going to go to a meeting because “it won’t make any difference.” Sometimes they are right…sometimes the dye is cast or the voting body just doesn’t agree with the view of visitors who may or may not truly represent the majority of the residents. But then again, the “KindergartenCenter” story shows that it indeed can happen. Though this certainly is not the only example, it may be the one which got the most publicity and had the most passion. There is no question, it always pays to let the councils and boards know how you feel.
• It’s hard to believe my son is now 16. I know I talked about him, and his sister, more back in the days when they said funny toddler lines, had new experiences in elementary school or just did things that were interesting to me as a parent that I’d hope would also be interesting to others -or at least be something to which they could relate. I know often our thoughts turn quickly to driving at this age, and yes, I have thought about it and not with the same enthusiasm I had when turning 16 -but really most of my reflections of him being this age is its place between the hands of time. I think when you first become a parent -when the kids are all around you constantly, needing your attention in nearly everything you do -you get the sense that this time period will go on forever. When Morgan went past this age, we celebrated mightily for our Sweet Sixteen but I knew the “baby brother” was still on behind. Well, now that brother has crossed into that age group, started looking at those college brochures, and needing me less and less to get through his days (though surely not “as less” as he would like), I understand how quickly this time of life is coming to an end. I realize the parenting doesn’t, and shouldn’t, stop when they go off to school, the military or start working full-time -but perhaps, especially with the youngest, it still marks a significant change in life and I suppose that exit down the road is starting to come a bit more clearly into view. But it’s all good…Happy 16th buddy!
• For some, the start of spring is signaled by flowers, birds, green grass, trout fishing coming soon and, of course, the onset of days when you can put the blankets away, open the windows and walk down the street in shirtsleeves. For me, the clear signal actually has nothing to do with the outdoors. Of course I am talking about “March Madness.” Even if you are no fan of college basketball or sports in general, I would think you’d have to be a little fascinated by not only colleges and their fans rallying around their teams, but also the excitement it creates in the middle of a workday on a Thursday and Friday each March, when productivity has to be at all-time low throughout the country. This was the case long before the outbreak of social media and increased accessibility to all the games -and that’s just for those who are actually at work. It is a well-discussed fact that elective surgeries such as vasectomies and shoulder repairs skyrocket on these days, so that fans have a built-in excuse to miss work and lounge around watching basketball. I wonder if it’s too late to get scheduled for a “corn-ectomy?”
• Speaking of basketball, if you want to get a good debate going in downtown Denver or Reamstown, ask someone 55 or older who was better -the 1974 district champion or the 1977 state champion Cocalico Eagles boys basketball team? Many might assume automatically that the state champs would be the answer and perhaps they have gotten more pub over the years with plenty of household names like Becker, Dinger, Fassnacht, Ross and DiMatteo -but we have discovered there are plenty who think the 1974 squad was at least as good, if not better. One of the key factors that has to be brought into the discussion is the flu bug that swept through that squad in the eastern final when they lost to an Exeter team they had beaten a few weeks earlier. No one knows the answer for sure but it makes for a great debate. Be sure to check out the “Whatever Happened To…” feature on Carl Unruh of the ‘74 team in this edition.
•And of course, if we mention Denver, we just have to mention and bid a fond farewell to Donald Weaver, who passed away March 8 at the age of 93. Don was not only a great community man and legendary figure at borough hall -he was someone whose personality made a lasting impact on people. When former Cocalico editors Rick Reitz, Eric Stark, Jenn Todd and John Spidaliere were told of his passing, they all had a fond anecdote to share. Job well done sir. Our sympathies go out to his family and friends.
•And finally this week, though he already got shout-outs in the “Did You Hear?” section, I want to tell everyone that my good friend and loyal sports editor Todd Ruth also has 50 good built-in reasons to stay home Thursday and enjoy the tourney. Happy day pal!