Column: Line Drives — Being in right spot is half the battle

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

“Awesome picture.”

“Great photo.”

“Perfect shot.”

Those are just a few of the comments I’ve gotten in the last couple years on photos I’ve taken.

But I’ll admit: Getting those pictures has more to do with Lady Luck than it does my abilities as a photographer.

Half the battle behind a good sports photo is being in the right place at the right time.

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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 — Talking after defeat is difficult

[This is my column in the Oct. 15 issue of The Commercial Review.]

“This is the hard one.”

That’s what I said to Jay County High School girls soccer coach Giles Laux moments after his Patriot squad lost to Yorktown in the sectional championship Saturday afternoon.

He had no words.

Hours later, again at Yorktown Sports Park, I stood between seniors Nathan Heitkamp and Colton Compton to speak with them about their heartbreaking defeat in penalty kicks to the Tigers in their sectional final.

“What’s going through your head right now?” I asked.

They had no words.

All three of them had to fight back emotion. Laux, whose team had won back-to-back sectional championships — Abby Champ coached it to the 2013 title — was able to hide behind his sunglasses. The others were not.

They just looked away.

Laux and I had to continue the interview a few minutes later.

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Column: Line Drives — Mentality led to turnaround

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

Some time ago, Fort Recovery High School football coach Brent Niekamp knew the Indians were about to make a big turn.

It was 2011, to be exact. The Tribe had gone 4-6 that season — the third consecutive year with a losing record after going 5-5 in 2007.

“There was something about those guys,” said Niekamp, who has been leading Fort Recovery since 2005. “We played with a lot of toughness. We didn’t get intimidated by anybody.

“You could tell there was a different way that we played.”

Although the Indians had lost 21 games in three years, the margin of defeat was getting smaller each year. They were fighting back. They were playing well.

It just didn’t turn into many victories.
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Column: Line Drives — Tribe’s leader calm, relaxed

[This is my column in the June 3 issue of The Commercial Review.]

Ask anyone on the Fort Recovery High School baseball team and they will give you the same answer.

“Laid back.”

“Relaxed.”

Take one look at the guy, and it is easy to see what they mean.

Watch him in action, manning the coaching box down the third base line or nearly walking on the field to give his defense instructions, his knowledge for the game shows.

What he’s done in five years leading the Indians has earned him the respect of his peers.

“I can’t say enough about Jerry Kaup,” said St. Henry coach John Dorner following his team’s 2-0 victory May 8 against the Indians. “What he’s done with this program here, to be (then) No. 1 in the state … He has done a tremendous job with this program and I wish him luck.

“I think (Fort Recovery) can go a long way in the tournament this year.”
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Column: Line Drives — Tribe baseball making history, again

[This is my column in the May 14 issue of The Commercial Review.]

Following up a year in which multiple school records were set is a tough task.

So how does the Fort Recovery High School baseball team move on from the best squad in history?

Easily. The Tribe has simply put the 2014 team in the rearview and created a new legacy.

Here’s just a taste of the Tribe was able to do last season:
•Win the most games (20) in program history.
•Win the most Midwest Athletic Conference games (six) in history.
•Win 13 straight games after dropping its season opener to Celina.

There were some individual records broken as well in 2014:
•Mitch Stammen stole 27 bases, breaking Dale Griesinger’s mark of 25 set in 1949.
•Jackson Hobbs’ 0.76 ERA was a new record, besting Kevin Schoenherr’s 0.80 from 2006.
•Jacob Muhlenkamp set a new record for career games played with 96.
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