Column: Line Drives — People make decision to leave difficult

[This is my final column at The Commercial Review, and it appears in the Oct. 31 issue.]

I got into the news industry for the wrong reasons.

Playing sports in my younger days, I relished the chance to see my name in the newspaper.

As a Little Leaguer, I excitedly checked the mailbox for the weekly edition of The Township Times to see if my performance from the previous week made print.

Sometimes it did. Others it did not.

Fast forward to college, and after switching majors twice I settled upon sports journalism. It gave me the opportunity to stay around something that consumed my life for so long and also, again, it gave me a chance to see my name in the paper.

Early in my career I tried to keep track of the number of events I covered, the stories I wrote and the photos I’ve taken. It became tedious, mundane and just plain pointless.

Here’s why.

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Column: Line Drives — Bobo’s passing leaves hole in team, community

[This is my column in the Aug. 22 issue of The Commercial Review.]

Caleb Kunkle never made things about himself.

(He’d probably be upset with me for writing this.)

He always put the needs of others ahead of his own, especially on the football field.

If that meant pushing his body to its brink, so be it.kunkle catch

“He pushed the limits,” Jay County High School football coach Tim Millspaugh said. “Because he did that, he was willing to put his body in harm’s way where most other people would not.

“If Michael Schlechty runs through a hole and there’s a smaller kid in the hole, a lot of those kids would step out of it. Caleb would have never done that. He was a very physical football player. Some people do not gravitate to a physical game, and he thrived on that stuff.”

Known as “Bobo” by his circle of friends and teammates, Caleb had high aspirations for his senior year. As a junior, he was second on the team in tackles, was first in tackles for loss, caused three fumbles and recovered another.

He wanted to be an all-state defensive player.

Those plans changed abruptly on Aug. 11, 2016, when he was involved in a single-vehicle accident on his way to JCHS for the first day of school.

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Column: Line Drives — Effort in loss served up crow

[This is my column in the March 1 issue of The Commercial Review.]

The best of us must sometimes eat our words. – Albus Dumbledore, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.”

It’s not easy for humans to admit when we’re wrong.

Wednesday I was wrong. I underestimated the Jay County High School boys basketball team.

Earlier in the day someone asked me if I thought the Patriots had a chance to beat the host Wayne Generals.

I gave him a two-lettered answer.

Let me explain.

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Column: Line Drives — Differing journeys lead to same location

[This is my column in the Feb. 8 issue of The Commercial Review.]

Jordan Schricker and Spenser Clark will step on the mat Saturday for what could be the final time.

While both seniors — Schricker at Jay County and Clark at South Adams — hope to advance one more weekend, the path they have each taken to get to Saturday’s IHSAA semi-state meet have been nearly identical.

They placed third at 145 and 220 pounds, respectively, during the sectional meet Jan. 26. A week later at regional, Schricker had the same finish while Clark placed fourth.

Though their postseason credentials are strikingly similar, the journey to this point in their respective careers couldn’t be any more opposite.

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Column: Line Drives — Senior impacts in other ways

[This is my column in the Jan. 24 issue of The Commercial Review.]

Shelby Caldwell has been the face of the Jay County High School girls basketball team for two years now.

As a junior, she was the team’s leading scorer with 15.1 points per game. The year before she averaged 12.7 points through her first three contests before suffering a season-ending ACL tear, and her 8.2 points per game as a freshman were third on the squad.

In this, her senior year, she’s scoring nearly 18 points per game. She set the program’s single-game scoring record with 41 points on Dec. 20 in a 77-17 win over Blackford.

Friday she became just the third player in team history to reach 1,000 points.

Other teams try to keep her off the scoreboard, and only one this season — Fort Recovery on Dec. 29 — had any success at doing so. Caldwell finished with just two points, her lowest total since her final game as a freshman.

While most eyes have been on Caldwell this year, another senior has been lighting things up all the same; just in a few other, less noticeable statistical categories.

Scorers get a lot of the credit. Points are the stat that directly leads to victories and defeats.

But there are other aspects of the game — on both sides of the ball — that are just as important as putting the ball through the hoop.

And Kendra Muhlenkamp has been succeeding at doing those other things.

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Column: Line Drives — Girls deserve the support too

[This is my column in the Jan. 17 issue of The Commercial Review.]

“Obviously they’re playing their best basketball of the season here in this stretch.”

That’s something I heard recently about the Jay County High School girls basketball team.

It’s a statement that is spot on, too.

The Patriots are 13-7 on the season, have won five in a row and 11 of their last 12 games.

During that stretch, senior Shelby Caldwell scored 41 points Dec. 20 against Blackford to break the school record of 40 held by Shannon Freeman and Lyla Muhlenkamp.

(She’s in line to become just the third player in program history to score 1,000 points soon. She currently sits at 973.)

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Year in review: 2018

Heading into 2018, I had made a handful of resolutions.

Some I accomplished, others I didn’t.

I didn’t use my Minolta cameras once. I was almost 75 miles short of my attempt at running 600 miles. For the most part I ate better, but can still use some work (can’t we all?). I traveled to Iceland and Ireland in June, but didn’t quite explore Indiana and Ohio more than I had hoped. Aside from not writing as many columns as I would have liked to, I feel like I was a better photographer in 2018 than I was in the previous year.

A lot of other things happened in 2018, too. Some good, some bad.

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