Column: Line Drives — Four years hold special memories

[This is my column in the June 30 issue of The Commercial Review.]

Four years.

Saturday marks four years as sports editor of The Commercial Review.

I didn’t expect to be here this long.

No, that’s not to say I don’t want to still be here — I do — nor am I on my way out the door.

If you don’t mind, I think I’m going to stay for a while longer.

I just never thought I’d hit four years.

I thought I’d put in a year or two and move on. It’s the epitome of small-town, community journalism — get a foot in the door, gain experience, go elsewhere.

But I don’t want to.

And I’m glad I haven’t.

It’d be hard for me to imagine not being around to see the culmination of the high school athletic careers of four local athletes.

Four years ago I came to Portland not knowing what I was getting myself into.

Four years later, the class of 2017 is the first group of student-athletes I’ve gotten to cover all the way through high school.

There are four in particular whose careers have stuck out the most.

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Column: Line Drives — Question from a fan was a surprise

[This is my column in the Nov. 19 issue of The Commercial Review.]

It was a question that caught me off guard.

Saturday in Monroeville, the Jay County High School girls basketball team had just finished beating the host Heritage Patriots.

It was the second win in as many games — also the second game I covered this winter sports season — and the eighth consecutive regular season Allen County Athletic Conference victory for Jay County.

Usually I’m the one asking the questions following a game. Sometimes, I even catch the athletes off guard with one of my inquiries.

The table was turned Saturday.

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Column: Line Drives — Indians deserved playoff game

[This is my column in the Nov. 12 issue of The Commercial Review.]

It was more than two decades in the making.

The Fort Recovery High School football team hosted its first playoff game in program history on Friday.

There is a certain buzz that surrounds football games on Friday nights, and what happened in Fort Recovery last week was special.

Even before arriving at Barrenbrugge Athletic Park, the pomp and circumstance was in full force.

Pop-up canopies were peppered throughout town, grills fired up and the smell of tailgate food permeated the air.

It was hard not to get caught up in the moment.

Nearly an hour before the game started, the home side of the stands was just about half full.

It was easy to see the implications of the game.

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Column: Line Drives — Lapse in security needs answers

[This is my column in the Nov. 5 issue of The Commercial Review.]

How does it happen?

Given the surge in security measures taken at sporting events since Sept. 11, 2001, how is it that fans are able to smuggle things into professional sports stadiums?

Take Monday night’s football game between the Indianapolis Colts and Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Those of us who watched the game on TV were treated to footage of two people who rappelled and displayed a sign from the upper deck of the stadium protesting Bank of America’s involvement in a liquefied natural gas plant.

Initially it was unclear what they were doing. Gregg Doyel, a columnist for the Indianapolis Star, tweeted a photo claiming that they were technicians fixing a TV camera.

Makes sense.

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Column: Line Drives — Coaching changes are now personal

[This is my column in the Oct. 29 issue of The Commercial Review.]

At all levels, coaching changes are a part of the sports realm.

It’s not very often I am affected much by the hiring and firing of coaches.

Sure, at the local level, coaching turnover has an impact on my professional life.

The sudden departure of longtime Jay County High School boys basketball coach Craig Teagle in July left me and others scrambling to get answers, even late into the evening.

From a personal standpoint, it’s tough to see coaches with whom I’ve had a great working relationship with, like Teagle, move on to other opportunities.

It leaves a sort of an uncertainty, wondering what a new coach will bring to the position and the rapport he (or she) and I will build.

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Column: Line Drives — Playoff outcome hard to predict

[This is my column in the Sept. 10 issue of The Commercial Review.]

I hate making predictions.

Especially when it comes to trying to predict the outcomes of games.

Trying to foresee the future of the entire NFL season is, well, nearly impossible.
There are so many variables that can happen.

Players get hurt. These days, they get suspended too.

But it’s always fun to see how these NFL preview columns turn out. More than likely I’m always wrong. But sometimes I’m right.

In the past two years, I’ve made some bold predictions. Without hesitating I’ve picked the Detroit Lions to win the NFC North. Detroit hasn’t won its division since 1993. Last season I had the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl. The 49ers did not make the playoffs for the first time in four years.

Alas, it’s time to predict the next six months of professional football.
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Column: Line Drives — Apology nice, but not needed

[This is my column in the Aug. 27 issue of The Commercial Review.]

In sports, apologies aren’t necessary.

Coaches don’t need to apologize for being particularly hard on a player.

They want the best out of their players, and they will try to push them to become better athletes.

Players, if mistakes are made, don’t need to say they are sorry for doing something wrong.

After all, they’re just kids anyway. Kids aren’t perfect.

The blunder will be used as a learning experience, something the athlete can be sure to never do again.

Last week, I was wrong.
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