Spring 2019: Final Thoughts

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

As we officially welcome in the summer season – and start covering some of its corresponding sports teams and events – I wanted to take one final look back at a few outstanding accomplishments by the student-athletes and teams in the RCN viewing area this spring.

They should probably re-brand the local league titles as the “Parkland/Easton” tournament as both of these teams seems to always square off against each other for girls lacrosse championship games.  The Trojans did it again this year, capturing league and district titles – their fourth in a row and five championships in the last six years.  It’s an amazing run for a sport that wasn’t sanctioned by the PIAA just a little over a decade ago.

Parkland has also been dominating the local softball season once again this year.  The Trojans got to a state championship game last year and looked as strong—or better—than any team in the Lehigh Valley this spring.  They also won the EPC and posted a shutout in their District XI championship game (their second in a row and fifth in the last six years.)

Talitha Diggs, who was on our “SportsTalk” program several years ago with her mother, Olympic medal-winner Joetta Clark-Diggs, made history this spring by shattering a 33-year old record at the PIAA track championship, winning two gold medals.  A rising senior, Talitha will have another year of high school competition to add to her hardware before graduating from Saucon Valley High School in 2020.

Notre Dame-Green Pond’s baseball team also had a great run this year—capturing both Colonial League and District 3A titles this spring.  If you’ve been reading this blog regularly you’ll know I predicted early in the season great things for Notre Dame.  I also thought Crusader pitcher Steven Luke was going to be one of the most impressive pitchers in the Valley this season and he certainly did not disappoint.  The Crusaders have quite a bit of talent returning, so Head Coach Mike Bedics’ team should once again be one of the favorites in 2020.

Speaking of baseball, we are getting ready for our 2nd “SportsTalk” on location at Buffalo Wild Wings on Grape Street in Whitehall.  Our special guests will be members of the Blue Mountain Baseball League.

League President Bob Varju will be on hand, along with other league representatives, and coaches and players from several teams in the RCN viewing area.

The show will be on Thursday, June 27, from 7-8pm, and will be part of an event to raise money for a local charity.  You can find the flyer for this event right here on the RCN-TV website. Just print out that flyer and be sure to bring it with you so that the waiters/waitresses will be sure to dedicate 10% of your food bill to a great local cause.

And…we have a “make up” show at Buffalo Wild Wings THIS Thursday, June 20, as our first “on location show” with the Bethlehem Catholic girls basketball team was postponed due to bad weather.  Head Coach Jose Medina and his team will join us for this week’s program, which also starts at 7pm.

“You Got This”

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Aronimink Golf Club is a private country club located in Newtown Square, just west of Philadelphia. It is rated as one of the top courses in the United Sates – #78 in “Greatest Courses”, #44 in “Toughest Courses” and #55 in “Classic Courses”. Suffice it to say it ranks with the very best.

When the AT&T National was played there in 2010 and 2011, I had the pleasure of being invited to play a round each year with Scott Morse of Lafayette College; Joe Scott, the President of Easton Coach; and David Boucher, who was president of Aronimink Golf Club at the time.

It was a memorable round of golf. I can attest to the difficulty of the course, but also the beauty and historical significance of walking the grounds. I still recall it being one of my favorite days on a golf course.

I bring it up because there was a pro-am the week of the tournament and Joe Scott, a good friend and very good golfer, was a playing partner of Gary Woodland. I vividly recall Joe saying what a great person Woodland seemed to be. Joe said from that moment on, he would be a fan and root for his playing partner to have a great career. Woodland just won the US Open this past Sunday. And how can you not like a guy who does this:

Well, on this Father’s Day, as his father watched, Gary Woodland’s name became etched in golf history. Ten years prior, Gary’s father almost died of a heart attack. Doctors said he was gone for about four minutes before they were able to revive him. Gary said his father was always his biggest supporter. He served as his baseball and basketball coach, but not as his golf coach. He was his golf competition. “He never let me win”. He finally beat his father at the age of 13.

Woodland, too, is both a proud father and a bereaved one. His son Jaxson was born two years ago and weighed three pounds, but his twin sister did not survive the birth. Jaxson is fine. And the Woodlands are expecting twins again.

I thought of my father as I was watching the US Open unfold yesterday. He, too, would stand in the back yard and we would play catch with a baseball or football. He overruled my mom when she would not sign the papers to allow me to play football. He would encourage me to do well, to listen to my coaches, never interfering. He was a fan, but never a parent who intervened with my coaches. I had to earn my way on the field and in the gym.

Amy sent Woodward a tweet yesterday which read, “You got this”. I would like to think that my father felt the same way when I faced life’s challenges.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

1. I wrote this last week:
What would you do? Scott Berry bet $400 in Las Vegas at the beginning of the NHL season that his hometown St. Louis Blues would win the Stanley Cup. The odds were 250-1. In other words, if the Blues win Game 7, he will pocket $100,000. He could help his cause by betting on the Bruins now to insure he makes a profit or he could sell his ticket on the swap market. He says he was offered $75,000 to sell. He has declined all the offers. Wednesday night at 8:00 pm is Game 7.

UPDATE: The Blues won Game 7 and Scott Berry won $100,000! That’s a dedicated fan.

2. Much to the chagrin of the Phillies, the Atlanta Braves are at it again. The 2018 NL East champions have won nine of their last 10 games and went from two games behind the Phillies to 2 ½ games ahead of them. The Phillies are having serious problems on the mound, whether it be starters or relievers. They need to find some solutions quickly.

3. What did you think of the demeanor exhibited by the US Women’s soccer team in their 13-0 rout of Thailand? Should they have continued to run up the score or is it more embarrassing to the opponent if the US would have just stopped trying? Were the celebrations after every goal over the top and did those celebrations demean the opponent even more? Or should they have ceased the celebrations and shown what some have called decency and respect? As you ponder your answer, remember there is one thing about sports – it brings out the best and the worst passion in every participant and fan.

4. Blue Mountain League baseball coverage continues next Tuesday with Bethlehem Steel taking on the Orioles. Tom Stoudt and Chris Michael will be behind the microphone. The BML Game of the Week comes on at 9:30 PM. Join the RCN-TV sports team.

5. My blog will be back on Monday, July 1.

2019 Spring Sports All-Stars

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company. 

One of the really fun blog entries I write periodically is the one in which we publish the local “all-star” lists that come at the end of each high school sports season.

I say this for a few reasons…

  • It’s great to highlight truly special athletic performers
  • It’s a chance to spotlight athletes who play sports but may not always get much recognition
  • It’s a chance to see familiar names who show up in different sports throughout the year
  • In the case of scholar-athlete awards, a chance to recognize “student-athletes” for taking care of what school is truly meant for—getting a quality education

As usual, I also want to thank the local athletic directors and administrators of the respective leagues and sports for once again sending these lists to me each season, so that these athletes can get added recognition for their accomplishments.

So without any further delay, here’s the composite list of the “All-Star” categories that I received for squads in the RCN-Lehigh Valley viewing area…

Here are the Eastern Pennsylvania Conferences’ scholar-athletes All-Stars.

Baseball – Joshua LaRock – Allentown Central Catholic

Boys Lacrosse – Christian Combi – Easton

Girls Lacrosse – Anne Walsh – Easton

Softball – Courtney Grundauser – Easton

Boys Basketball – Adam Klinger – Parkland

Girls Basketball – Jenna Rogers – Northampton

Cheerleading – Julia Santos – Allentown Central Catholic

Boys Swimming – Matthew Gertner – Emmaus

Girls Swimming – Abigail Heilenman – Emmaus

Wrestling – Micheal Kistler – Northampton

Rifle – Sydney Jones – Emmaus

Boys Tennis – Kevin Ge – Emmaus

Boys Track and Field – Joseph Ozgar – Easton

Girls Track and Field – Abigail Heilenman – Emmaus

Boys Volleyball – Seth Fine – Parkland

Next, here are the EPC Girls and Boys Lacrosse All-Stars.

2018-19 EPC All-Star Voting Results – GIRLS FINAL

2018-19 EPC All-Star Voting Results – BOYS FINAL
The girls softball All-Star listing for the EPC.

EPC All Stars Official Media Copy

The All-Conference tennis All-Stars:

2018-19 Boys Girls Tennis All Conference

Here’s the link for the boys and girls Colonial League track-and-field championship records set:

http://www.colonialleague.org/files/2019/03/CLChampionshipMeetRecords19FAT.pdf

… the link for the Colonial League / EPC final results

http://www.colonialleague.org/files/2019/05/CL-EPC-TF-Results-050819.pdf

… and the track-and-field All-Stars:

19EPCTFAllStars

If there are any additional honors or student-athletes who should be singled out for outstanding achievements during this past spring sports season, please don’t hesitate to email me directly at chris.michael@rcn.net so we can recognize them here at “The Shop” and/or on our weekly “RCN SportsTalk” program!

 

 

The “Barr” is Higher

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Our wrestling fans and there are many of them are not easy to please.  They want more dual meets on television; they want the tournaments televised; they want to argue the opinions of others, etc.  In other words, they love their sport and they are willing to speak up about it.

It’s rare when you find common ground.  I think I have found it – Scott Barr – the RCN-TV wrestling announcer.  The locals love his knowledge and relish his opinions whether they agree or disagree.  Wrestlers and wrestling fans certainly know who he is. And now, it appears, he has also been discovered by the national media – more on that in a bit.

Scott started with us in 1985.  I previously knew Scott as a former student of mine, a member of our very successful Scholastic Scrimmage team, and, eventually, a fellow teacher.  He wrestled in high school and had moderate success.  But when it came to in-depth understanding of just about anything, he doggedly would do the research.

Many years ago, I found myself doing high school wrestling for the RCN telecasts.  I played football, basketball, and baseball.  I did not wrestle.  I certainly needed someone alongside me who truly understood the sport and was very verbal.  I immediately thought of Scott.

He was terrific from day one.  He not only knew the sport; he set out to become as knowledgeable about it as anyone with whom I ever worked.  It became his passion to the point where, in 1997, he authored a book about District XI wrestling called Wrestling Country.  And just this past April, Scott was inducted into the District XI Wrestling Hall of Fame.

He is equally adept at other sports having done baseball, soccer, boxing, volleyball, kickboxing, etc.  I am always confident going into a broadcast with Scott by my side.  And, perhaps, his greatest skill is demonstrated every year during the Dream Come True Telethon when he mans our auction segments.  QVC announcers have nothing on him.

That brings me to the National Wrestling Media Association.  Their Mission Statement is, “The National Wrestling Media Association (NWMA) is the national professional organization for journalists who cover the sport of amateur wrestling. This includes reporters, editors, publishers, webmasters, photographers, broadcasters, sports information directors and other media professionals who share an interest and involvement in the sport.”

Scott has been nominated by this group as their Broadcaster of the Year.  That’s right – the RCN-TV guy!

Scott Barr

The other nominees are Shawn Kenney and Jim Gibbons.  Kenney works for ESPN and does play-by-play for college football, basketball, baseball, tennis, and the NCAA and ACC wrestling championships.  Jim Gibbons is a three-time wrestling All-American, former Iowa State wrestling coach, and is a wrestling analyst for the Big Ten Network and ESPN.  He won NCAA championships as a wrestler and a coach.  This is formidable company, for sure.

I know the cliché in award shows is that, “It is just an honor to be nominated”.  But, in this case, truer words could not be spoken.  When you look at the space Scott is occupying with the other nominees, it truly is an honor for both our RCN wrestling coverage team and, more specifically, for Scott himself. The winner will be announced later this year.  I would love to see a huge upset in this heavyweight class.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. As I write this, the NBA finals are not over quite yet, but the Toronto Raptors are one game from clinching the championship. And I don’t know if there is a better basketball player right now than Kawhi Leonard.  He makes almost 60% of his shots, over 40% from 3-point land, and 90% of his free throws.  And… he makes everyone around him better.  Stephen Curry with Kevin Durant may be better as a pair.  Without Durant, Leonard is the best.
  1. What would you do? Scott Berry bet $400 in Las Vegas at the beginning of the NHL season that his hometown St. Louis Blues would win the Stanley Cup.  The odds were 250-1.  In other words, if the Blues win Game 7, he will pocket $100,000.  He could help his cause by betting on the Bruins now to insure he makes a profit or he could sell his ticket on the swap market.  He says he was offered $75,000 to sell.  He has declined all the offers.  Wednesday night at 8:00pm is Game 7.
  1. I woke up this morning to the news that David Ortiz (Big Papi) was shot in a bar in the Dominican Republic. The gunman was beaten rather badly by the patrons in the bar.  Ortiz, according to the doctors, had serious injuries, but is out of danger.  Why he was shot remains a mystery.
  1. The Notre Dame baseball team continues its run towards a PIAA state championship this week. The championship game is Thursday with the semifinals scheduled for Monday.  Go Crusaders!
  1. Blue Mountain League baseball coverage continues next Tuesday with Martins Creek taking on Northampton. The BML Game of the Week comes on at 9:30 PM.  Join the RCN-TV sports team.

 

 

Baseball Video Recaps

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company. 

There was some great local high school baseball playoff action on RCN-TV once again this spring.

In case you missed all the action, here are video highlights from the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference playoffs and the District XI Championships for Classes 5A and 6A.

Don’t forget …. RCN customers can still relive all of the baseball playoff excitement by watching all these title games—for free—through RCN On-Demand.  These games will be available to watch up for up to 60 days after their initial broadcasts dates.

Coming up over the next two weeks here at “The Shop,” we’ll take a look at some of the top student-athlete performances and top teams from this past spring sports season.

Also, if local athletic directors, coaches, administrators or statisticians would be so kind as to send the different “all-stars” lists to my attention, we’d love the opportunity to highlight the top players in the area here on this blog and/or on our weekly “SportsTalk” program!

Please email those lists to me at chris.michael@rcn.net and thanks, in advance, for your assistance!

A Prom Story

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.
This is not my usual blog about sports, so if that is what you were expecting, just stop reading now.  I truly will understand.

Instead, since the local papers this past month have been featuring photographs from proms of the Lehigh Valley high schools, it made me reflect back on my own prom many, many years ago.  Things have not changed much.

I know I was nervous.  I was meeting my date’s parents for the first time.  They were Ukrainian and spoke very little English.  I was leery about my ability to show them my charm and wit if they would have trouble understanding me.  But, I figured what are a few minutes of idle “misunderstanding”?  I would be in and out.  No harm done.

Of course, when I showed up at the house, their daughter was not ready.  I was left alone.  I quickly discovered that Europeans feel that hospitality means sharing an alcoholic drink.  I was certainly aware that I could not legally drink, but I was also aware that it might be rude to turn down the offer.  And, what could one drink hurt, anyway?

The drink was called a “kamikaze”!  Yes, the same term used by the Japanese when a pilot was going to end his life during a military battle.  It contained nothing but alcohol.  The mixture was a special brew concocted by the host.  It was as powerful a potion as you could imagine.

After a couple of sips, I no longer cared if their daughter ever got ready.  I was feeling GOOD!!  She could take her time and I would allow myself to be entertained.  I even began to believe that after a few more sips, I was beginning to understand Ukrainian.

Luckily and probably to my benefit, my date came down the steps.  She looked absolutely beautiful.  I now was woozy from the drink and just as woozy from her appearance.  She looked absolutely beautiful.  I remember how nervous I was pinning on the corsage.  It was in an area where only bad things could happen.  Somehow, I managed to get the task accomplished.  There was no blood.   The required pictures were taken and off we went.

The prom was held in the high school gymnasium.  When we arrived, parents had formed two lines, much like cheerleaders form when their team is running out on the field.  The “oohing” and “ahhing” was nice.  I guess we looked pretty good.  The only thing missing was a PA announcer prefacing our arrival to the gym door with formal introductions – probably would have been a nice touch.

We waited for others to arrive.  One classmate had rented a big Cadillac and we wanted to see him arrive.  He pulled into the parking lot.  We noticed that he could barely see over the dash.  It appeared he had to look through the vent of the car just to know where he was going.  He decided to back into a space.  I’m sure when he turned around to see where he was going, all he saw was the headrest.  He backed right into a concrete pillar.  There was glass and metal everywhere.  Those of us who watched offered our condolences.  We convinced the couple to have fun and we would deal with their accident later.  Little did we know he would later damage the front of the car when pulling into his driveway and banging into a telephone pole (true story).

The prom went off without a hitch.  Up next was the after-prom party, held at a classmate’s home.  It was fun; there was drinking, but not by me (despite my earlier experience with the “kamikaze”). Beer was the drink of the night and I hated the taste of beer, so I did not partake.  As everyone began to get weary, I vividly recall the final sounds of the prom – fellow classmates vomiting throughout the night in the bathroom.  In case you’ve never experienced it, it is very hard to get sleep while others wretch their guts out.

Hangovers abounded the next day, but the prom officially ended with everyone arriving home safely.

By the way, my date that night became my wife.  I drank a few more kamikazes in her home before her parents passed away and I still get a little woozy when she gets all dolled up and I am awaiting her at the bottom of our staircase!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. The Dodgers just swept the Phillies and the Yankees took the weekend series with the Red Sox. They appear to be the best teams in baseball right now.  It could be a throwback to the day when the Dodgers were in Brooklyn and the Yankees in the Bronx.  It would be a great World Series.
  1. They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. We’ll see.  Bill Belichick’s daughter, Amanda, was just hired to coach the Holy Cross women’s lacrosse team.  That means she will coach in the Patriot League against Lafayette and Lehigh.  She recently coached at Wesleyan and they went from #49 in the national rankings to #17 under her guidance.
  1. I am not sure how the Golden State Warriors do it, but they sure make NBA basketball fun to watch. They work exceptionally hard, play tough defense, and overcome injury after injury.  They could lose this series because the Raptors are very good, but it will not be because they don’t give it everything they have.  That’s all you ask of a professional.
  1. Congratulations to the Liberty and Notre Dame baseball teams and coaching staff for winning the District XI baseball championships. And congratulations to the District committee for giving the players the opportunity to play their title games at Coca-Cola Park.  What a thrill for them.
  1. Blue Mountain League baseball coverage begins next Tuesday and continues to the playoffs. The BML Game of the Week comes on at 9:30 PM.  Join the RCN-TV sports team.

 

 

Summer Hoops ‘19: What to Watch

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company. 

There were some interesting storylines during our winter high school basketball season in the RCN coverage area.

Fortunately, a number of those storylines are returning—and should make for an intriguing “off-season” as summer basketball action starts to get going this week.

If you will be heading out to see some of the late spring/summer basketball action over the next few months, here are the key things to watch for (and if you can’t make it out to your local playgrounds, we will once again be out and about in our local communities covering the action).

Watch to Watch #1:  How Emmaus boys’ basketball responds

I think Steve Yoder has done a remarkable job turning this into a great and consistent program after decades of this team being less than relevant for more than any one-two year cycle.

That being said, there’s no sugar-coating this—the 2019 Emmaus boys basketball season ended in disappointment.  They reached –and failed to win—four championship games over the previous nine months.

In districts, they lost their last three games and didn’t even win the District XI consolation game—a huge disappointment for a team that had eight graduating seniors and had great expectations…none of which were achieved.

That being said, the cupboard is not completely bare and it will be imperative for some players to step up this summer and show that they can fill in some of the many holes currently on the team, in order to keep this program just about the best in the Valley.

Watch to Watch #2:  Can the Allen Boys Basketball Team Do it Again?

As opposed to Emmaus, virtually no one expected Allen to win a District XI title last winter.  This includes Head Coach Doug Snyder, who admitted as much in a March appearance on our “RCN SportsTalk” show (if you missed it, you can check out the podcast at rcn.com/rcntv/sports-talk )

Now, with the target squarely placed upon a team that still features many underclassmen leading the way, can the Canaries handle the increased pressure and develop the consistency needed to take the squad to the next level?  This summer’s play could be what may very well be a landmark campaign for the  program—in more ways than one.

Watch to Watch #3:  Can anyone catch Bethlehem Catholic girls basketball?

If you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ll probably remember back before the winter season started that I predicted a competitive girls basketball season but one that would see Bethlehem Catholic girls advancing further in the state playoffs.

Fresh off the Lady Hawks’ state championship victory (I guess I can brag that my prediction from last December came true?), it should be interesting to see which of a number of talented girls basketball programs—many of whom have most of their team members returning, steps up their game over the next few months and gives us a good indication of where Becahi’s top competition will come from as they look to defend their title.

Keep checking back to “The Shop” over the next few months as we keep an eye out on the happenings on the local courts this summer!

HS Baseball Playoff Preview

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.
Gary Laubach, the RCN Sports crew and I will be out and about the next two weeks preparing for, and then broadcasting a number of District XI baseball championship games.

There are a number of interesting story lines for the high school baseball postseason, including:

WATCH OUT FOR YOUNGER TEAMS

Traditionally, the teams that have more experience are the ones that do the best this time of year.  This season might be an exception as I’ve seen a number of younger players, not only with exceptional skills, but also student-athletes with a high baseball “IQ,” at Notre Dame, Palisades and a few other schools.

KEEP AN EYE ON THE CHAMPS

Perhaps more than any other scholastic sport in the Lehigh Valley, baseball is probably the toughest sport to win both league and district titles within the same season.  I privately had a coach a few years ago admit that he did NOT want to win the leagues, because that traditionally puts the whammy on his team for districts—the latter playoffs are the ones that count towards the state playoffs.

The level of play in local baseball is so even that it’s been extremely rare over the last few decades for a team to win titles within a two-week span.  Northampton (in the EPC) and Notre Dame-Green Pond (in the Colonial League) won championships last week and are poised for a good run, but can they fight history and a strong collection of teams to win a district gold next week?

CAN LIBERTY BOUNCE BACK?

I stated on our high school baseball playoff preview show on the last edition of “SportsTalk” (which you can hear the podcast of the show right here on the RCN-TV website or watch it for free through RCN On-Demand) that Liberty’s undefeated run in the EPC during the regular season was one of the most impressive feats I’ve seen accomplished in some time.

Given the competitiveness and parity in the league (not to mention some outstanding pitching depth), to run the table in the league with so many strong teams…it would have been hard to believe the Hurricanes could accomplish a similar run throughout the playoff season.

Can Liberty come back and still be competitive in Districts?

Absolutely.

The ‘Canes still probably have the most depth (especially pitching) among all the 6A teams in the Lehigh Valley.  Liberty’s draw is not an easy one (they face Nazareth first and then the winner of Parkland/Pleasant Valley on Sunday) but certainly could see its way to the district championship game.

On paper, they are clearly one of the best teams in the area, but I believe a real key could be how well they play in their first game of the district post-season against the Blue Eagles.

It should be an exciting two weeks!

 

Be sure to check back here to the RCN-TV website to get the latest information on our broadcasts dates and times of the teams competing for District XI gold metals!

Athletes – Lehigh Valley

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company. 

I picked up the paper this morning and read that Sage Karam, former Nazareth wrestler and son of Liberty wrestling coach, Jody Karam, qualified for his sixth Indianapolis 500 race next Sunday.  That is quite an achievement.

Just last week, I was having lunch and in walked Larry Holmes.  Larry Holmes lived and grew up in Easton and became the heavyweight champion of the world.  He never left the area, invested money here, and has always been a good example of what hard work and perseverance can accomplish.

Current conversation about great local athletes now centers on Saquon Barkley, not only as a football player for the New York Giants, but also as an ambassador for the best qualities in a person.  Just this past week, he returned home to the Whitehall area, made a number of appearances and was patient enough to give admirers his time and focus.

Holmes, Karam, and Barkley made me realize that the Lehigh Valley has produced a number of outstanding athletes who prospered at the top of their game.  There are certainly too many to talk about in one blog, but here are a few that came to mind, in no particular order:

Mario, Michael, and Marco Andretti: For racing fans, this is THE family in the Lehigh Valley.  Mario and Marco still live in Nazareth.  Michael now is an owner and will again have a team in the Indy 500 this coming weekend.

Matt Millen: The former Whitehall and Penn State graduate won four Super Bowls, became an outstanding analyst for NFL broadcasts and is now the top analyst for BIG 10 football.  He recently had a heart transplant and will return to the broadcasting booth in the fall.

The Nasty Boys:  Brian Yandrisovitz (“Knobbs”) and Jerry Saganovich (“Sags”) were THE top WWF wrestling tag team in the ‘90’s.  Both are Whitehall High School grads.

Michelle Marciniak: The Central High School grad is a former college basketball All-American.  At Tennessee, she competed for two national championships and won one in 1996 and was named MVP.  She went on to play five years in the WNBA.

Ed McCaffrey: A phenomenal basketball and football player at Central Catholic, Ed had a great college and pro football career at Stanford and the NFL.  He won three Super Bowls as a 49er and a Denver Bronco.

Marty Nothstein: The Emmaus graduate was an Olympic gold and silver medalist in cycling.

Dan Koppen: Another Whitehall grad who centered the ball to Tom Brady for eight NFL seasons and to Peyton Manning for one year.  Koppen won two Super Bowls with the New England Patriots.

Andre Reed: This Dieruff grad is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame after an outstanding career with the Buffalo Bills and the Washington Redskins.  Andre always returns back to Allentown and has done so much for the community.

I could go on and on – Chuck Bednarik, Tom Brennan, Pete Carril, Billy Packer, Curt Simmons, etc.  The list goes go on and on.  And I know you could add to the list and you would certainly be right.

Is it any wonder that I have enjoyed so many years following local high school and college sports right here in the Lehigh Valley?  And the numbers will continue to grow.


ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)
 

  1. Before going to Mississippi State as the head football coach, Joe Moorhead was the offensive coordinator at Penn State. He was very familiar with the Lions’ back-up quarterback, Tommy Stevens.  Now Stevens will have an opportunity to play for Moorhead again after transferring to the Bulldogs.  It will be interesting to follow his success after getting beaten out of the starting role this spring at Penn State.
  1. The Astros, Dodgers, Yankees, and the Cubs are all hot and all starting to occupy places that were expected in the standings. The Phillies are still the best in the NL East with the Braves chasing them.
  1. I picked the Bucks and the Warriors to make it to the NBA final. It appears that prediction will be correct by the end of the week.
  1. Congratulations to the Northampton baseball team and coaching staff for winning the EPC baseball championship. To do it, they had to beat undefeated Liberty in the final 3-1.  Liberty was the third #1 seed to go down to defeat in the championship game.  It was Northampton’s first title since 1998.
  1. District championship baseball will be LIVE from Coca-Cola Park this coming week on RCN-TV. The games are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, May 28 and 29. But it always seems to rain!

 

 

Speaking Engagements

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company. 

One of the great tasks I have at RCN is speaking at banquets and emceeing recognition and retirement events as well as other engagements that come down the pike throughout the year.  But my favorite opportunity is speaking in various formats with young people in our community.

I always have been a firm believer of “paying it forward” (probably even before the movie of the same name came out) and over the years I’ve remained in contact with quite a few people who used my advice to get into the communications industry, or remember something I shared, sometimes as simple as time-management tips that students used in college—regardless of whether or not they got involved in broadcasting.

One of my biggest highlights each year is being a part of the Diocese of Allentown’s “Catholic Schools Week.” Not only because I get to meet some great young people of the Greater Lehigh Valley area, but, as a personal highlight, it culminates in the “Celebrity” basketball game.

Granted, when I first started participating in the “climax” of this annual week of events, the main objective was to show kids in 7th-10th grade a good time as they took on a collection of media members, politicians, business leaders and other local dignitaries (aka , we used to try to let them win).

Now, many of us “celebrities” who participate in this game every year must admit that the focus has shifted from letting them win to trying to stay competitive with the catholic school’s new youths — ones who appear to get faster and quicker every year.

Win or lose, it’s an extra benefit for me to get an inside look at who the next basketball stars are going to be within our local catholic programs—teams that have continued to enjoy success year after year (see the note below).

But at the end of the day it’s a great opportunity to reach out to our young people, get some exercise and have some fun.  Being visible and a part of our community in the RCN viewing area has never been more enjoying and rewarding for me and I continue to look to participate in as many speaking engagements and local events as time allows.

Now, where did I put the ibuprofen and rubbing alcohol?

 

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Special programming note:  be sure to mark your calendars for our first remote “SportsTalk” show of the spring and summer seasons.  We’ll have three exciting shows again this year from the Buffalo Wild Wings on Grape Street in Whitehall, PA.

Our first show will feature the PIAA State Champion 4A Bethlehem Catholic Girls Basketball team.  Head Coach Jose Medina will be on hand with his coaching staff and players to talk about their gold medals and a thrilling run through the league, district and state playoff races—winning titles in all three levels.

His team is already hard at work preparing for the upcoming summer league programs—which is team travels quite a bit for—and can give us details on where his girls will be playing over the next few months (we’ll have a preview of local summer league hoops coming up in a few weeks right here at “The Shop.”)

Keep checking back to the RCN-TV website for more details on this and our other “SportsTalk” remote shows coming up over the next few months!