FORGOTTEN HOLIDAYS

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. 

When I first embarked on a career in communications, I was fully aware that I would have to work most holidays.

While I have met a lot of people in this industry who feel the complete opposite, I also happily acknowledged that as the low man on the totem pole when I first started out, I would probably be working ALL holidays.

And I did…for nearly ten years. And didn’t complain once.

My family has always been completely understanding that work may sometimes infringe on the normal “family times.”  Shortly after I got married, I negotiated a completely fair and reasonable arrangement for all the times I would have to spend away from home (aka, on the first day that I did NOT have to work, I am completely obligated to do whatever my wife tells me to do.)

Hey, whatever it takes.

One of my many benefits for working at RCN is that I don’t miss nearly as much time around the holidays as I used to. And even when I do, I usually get the chance to work from home for most of them, so I can at least be near some of the fun family activities that are going on.

For example, Labor Day traditionally coincides with the first Monday of the high school football season, which is the day to start gathering rosters, putting requests for information in with the coaches, athletic directors and support staff. Experience shows that you cannot simply wait until Tuesday to get started preparing for that weekend’s football game.  My experience has also helped in that I have developed great relationships with local football head coaches, so a call later Labor Day afternoon to these gentlemen is not looked at as an intrusion on their time either, but usually a friendly conversation in which I also get the information needed.

If New Year’s Day falls on a day before a high school basketball game, it’s also imperative you start working on getting your information BEFORE New Year’s Eve (most teams have a holiday tournament between Christmas and New Year’s, so it’s difficult to “cheat” and work too far ahead in advance) and then get in a quick conversation with coaches on New Year’s Day before putting the finishing touches on my game prep and disseminating the information to the graphics operators, statisticians, replay operators and other members of our production crew before truly settling in and enjoying that holiday.

Not the most festive way to ring in the New Year, but again, I wouldn’t trade my job for anything.

Perhaps the most hectic working holiday tradition has been the Memorial Day weekend.  Normally that Saturday/Sunday/Monday features several (and starting last year with the new expanded playoff system, no less than eight) high school baseball semi-final games.  In addition to running around the area to watch and make notes on these games and making contacts for accumulating the team’s info (since it’s the playoffs you can’t work ahead), the fun REALLY starts Monday afternoon and night.  This is when you have to compile/follow-up/edit/reproduce all the information to send it out to the crew to prepare for the district championship games, which sometimes start as early as the very next day.

Again, not complaining…just stating the facts, and I relish the challenge each year.

When people who don’t know me very well ask what my plans are for these holidays, especially Memorial Day, I simply say I have some work commitments and kiddingly refer to these working days off as my “forgotten holidays.”

Like a lot of the athletic directors and coaches who I have been speaking with over the last two months during the pandemic, I’ve been doing quite a bit of reflection about the situation we are in and taking stock of the time NOT spent running around frantically during these traditionally busy times…like what normally happens this week.

Coming from a military family, my father and grandfather instilled in me a very deep sense of loyalty and honor for Memorial Day and Veterans Day in remembering what is the true meaning of what these holidays.

One of my proudest early moments in my television career –  one that helped me win an award  – included being a host and producer of a public affair television show.  And one of the most memorable moments from that show included a feature I did on a group called the “Sons of the Revolution.”

Each year on Memorial Day weekend, these groups of dedicated individuals travel around to known cemeteries in Eastern Pennsylvania that house veterans of any war and perform a ceremonial service, complete with Taps and a 21-Gun Salute.

While each individual service never takes more than 30 minutes, it’s hard not to be moved by the experience and is something I feel everyone should experience at least once.  When I did the story, most of the participants were well past the retirement age, yet featured so much palpable energy, I would find it difficult for any witnesses not to be inspired by their efforts.

We followed this group around to three different cemeteries before compiling more than enough interview and b-roll footage to make for a very compelling video package.

Following our third service and after thanking the gentlemen for their hospitality and their own tremendous service, I left feeling an incredible sense of pride for my country, along with an obligation that it would not be the last time that I attended one of these events.

This year I did some research and was happy to find that this group is not only still fully operational but continues to perform services in Eastern PA–albeit limited somewhat this spring due to the Coronavirus and social distancing constrictions.  Included in this year’s event was with a special tribute to two World War II veterans on the 75th anniversary to the end of that conflict.  While I don’t think my twelve-year-old son got as much out of the experience as I did, I sincerely hope it’s something that sticks with him for a while and an event that he will not soon forget.

It also made me realize that 15 years had passed between me making that initial commitment to return to see these special people’s ceremonies and returning to witness another one in person.

While we have a whole new brand of modern day heroes keeping us safe during this pandemic, Memorial weekend is also a time for reflection and a reminder that, no matter what else we have going on, we should set time aside in our lives to honor and salute the brave men and women who courageously gave the ultimate sacrifice in serving our great nation.

Shame on me for sometimes forgetting this message.

 

 

 

 

Buzz Saw

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 other agency, organization, employer or company.

Over the winter, Jesse Dougherty, Washington Nationals Beat Writer for the Washington Post, sent me an early copy of his new book, “Buzz Saw.”

His book chronicles the unbelievable run the Nats had last year, including their amazing mid-May transformation from cellar-dwellers to the eventual World Series champions.

The official book’s release was in late March, to coincide with what was supposed to be Major League Baseball‘s Opening Day.

Even though he sent me the book in early January, as has been my tradition over the last several years, I usually save reading my non-basketball reading material, fictional and nonfiction, until after the high school basketball season ends.  I try to take a few days to recover from one of our busiest times of the year.  One of my favorite things to do to reset my batteries is to enjoy some good reading material.

Please understand. I really like to enjoy reading and take my time, stretching it out over a several days to thoroughly enjoy the experiences.

Ironically, because of other projects and taking on new duties as we adjust to our “new normal,” I put reading this book on the back burner in lieu of developing new ways of going about our businesses in the wake of the coronavirus.

But this weekend I blocked out significant time out to delve into this book – as a fan of Jessie’s writing, I knew I would thoroughly enjoy it.

I was definitely not disappointed.

“Buzz Saw” is a raw, realistic view of the Nationals season, looking largely from the viewpoint of General Manager Frank Rizzo. Starting from the previous offseason, the book goes through the turbulent and downright bleak first six weeks of the season. Dougherty provides insights on the Nationals front office and everything Rizzo and Manager Dave Martinez were going through, including a more negative than normal Washington fan base.

A large part of the book deals with the time in and around May 24th – when the Nats as a team hit rock bottom in more ways than one.  The team was having significant health issues, including Martinez’s own hospitalization.

The book may not be for younger baseball fans, complete with realistic and frank conversations between management and players.  It is very comprehensive, discussing the players’, coaches’ and media’s perspectives, the fans’ views and includes an incredible attention to detail while recollecting the key moments during the Nationals season.

Jesse had promised me he was going to be a guest on “SportsTalk” again during spring training to talk about the 2020 edition of the Nationals baseball and give his expectations for the new season.

Those plans have been put on hold until we get some better news on the health front and get closer to the official restart of baseball’s preseason workouts (hopefully sooner rather than later.)

Until then, baseball fans, whether a Washington baseball fan or not, you will thoroughly enjoy this inside look on MLB’s reigning champions and their improbable run from worst to first within a four-month span.

Enjoy!

PROGRAMMING NOTE: We will have another “all remote access” live edition of RCN SportsTalk this week. Among our guests includes long-time Bethlehem Catholic Baseball Head Coach / Athletic Director Mike Grasso, talking about all the highs and lows during his amazing 45-year career, which came to a premature end this spring.

Over the next few weeks, we will also have conversations with a few other head coaches in the RCN viewing area (all of them with at least 20 or more years at their current school) who are retiring this spring.

 

The Entry That Might Have Been

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.

When the government ordered massive shutdowns in March due to the coronavirus, I was literally putting the finishing touches on my blog post that was going to run that week, when I received word that our studio would be closed for the near-term.

It was even more disappointing because, that Thursday, I was really looking forward to our “SportsTalk” program — having a terrific blend of wonderful people on the show, discussing some very important issues.

As concern for the virus continues and we get deeper in the calendar – with people’s scheduling becoming more hectic with other responsibilities – it’s becoming doubtful that we will be able to have all of the people on the show at the same time that we were going to have on for that particular day. While we will probably have at least most of them on, at different times on upcoming shows, I just thought it was going to be a great blend of personalities and views, all on the same episode, that may not come together again as I would have liked.

So I’m going to do something a little different for this week and present the blog that I had written for that week, as is, right up until I heard the news — just to give you a taste of what might have been if everything came together just perfectly.

By the way, we will not have a shortage of firepower on this week’s show as some of the guests listed below will be on Thursday’s program. Others will be on upcoming shows over the next several weeks.

Also, for this Thursday, we will have District XI Football Chair Jason Zimmerman on to give us some insights on the road ahead for high school sports’ recovery and potential timetables for the fall football season.

But now, enjoy the blog entry as it would have been – right up until it prematurely came to an abrupt stop.

*****

Original Title: “Women in Sports Recognition”

While it’s not yet an officially “recognized” month, there has been a movement in recent years to have one month emphasize the importance of women’s contributions in the ENTIRE world of sports.  The goal of this initiative ranges from more actively promoting women’s sports programs in participation, recognition and promotions to featuring coaches, broadcasters and administrators in traditionally male-dominated areas, as well as encouraging more women to enter these fields.

You may remember last year at this time I featured Melanie Newman, a relatively new broadcaster who, along with Susan Cool, became the first all-female broadcast team for a major sports franchise (a Red Sox Minor League team) in the country.

Newman, by the way, was recently named to the Baltimore Orioles broadcasting team, making an incredible ascension from the low Single-A Minor Leagues to the Major Leagues within one year’s time–yet another example of what amazing excellence can be achieved when women are given an opportunity in sports.

With SportsTalk co-host Keith Groller unavailable for several shows over the next few weeks, I dare say we have a very special individual to work the co-hosting chair.

Joetta Clark-Diggs, a four-time Olympian, 11-time USA All-American, inducted into the United States’ Track and Field Hall of Fame in 2009 and owner of track times that are still ranked among the best in the world, will be joining me on the program once again to discuss different topics of interest.

This week’s guests include members of the Saucon Valley girls track team to discuss defending their record shattering times set at last year’s Pennsylvania state competitions in Shippensburg. Among them will be Joetta’s daughter, Talitha, who already has earned some major hardware in her very young career.

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: “Suddenly”

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.

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on RCN TV with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

In a career filled with tremendous individual accomplishments too lengthy to list in a single blog entry, Frank Sinatra’s performance in the 1954 thriller, Suddenly, is probably one of his greatest, underrated works as an actor.

After a decade of multiple number one hits and rave reviews as a happy-go-lucky leading man on the silver screen, Sinatra’s film career dipped in the early part of the 1950s.

But with a starring role in the iconic film, From Here To Eternity, Sinatra was back in the public eye and had the screen credit to play possibly the biggest “departure role” of his career.

In Suddenly, Sinatra’s character is John Baron, a psychopathic killer disguised as a government agent and a paid assassin who’s hell-bent on shooting the President of the United States of America at any cost.

Baron leads a small group of henchmen who ruthlessly take over an innocent family’s house, located next to the train tracks that will be escorting the President through the sleepy town of Suddenly, California.

Baron and his thugs take hostages and show no mercy in this gritty film, with many twists-and-turns in this fast-paced 75-minute flick.

This film further deepened “‘Ol’ Blue Eyes”’ range as an actor and was part of over a dozen highly successful films in the 1950s which further advanced his already successful singing career.

Two interesting bits of trivia concerning Suddenly.  An ill-conceived idea of colorizing this film in the mid-1980s went awry when they mistakenly painted Sinatra’s eyes brown throughout the film.

A less humorous antidote: Sinatra unsuccessfully attempted to purchase and destroy all copies of this film as well as the 1962 classic, The Manchurian Candidate, after a rumor surfaced that Lee Harvey Oswald watched both of these films before deciding to shoot President John F. Kennedy in 1963. Both films starred Sinatra with plot lines involving assassination attempts, although he handled the protagonist duties in Candidate.

Suddenly also stars Sterling Hayden (the crooked Captain McCluskey in The Godfather) and is a must-see for Sinatra followers and fans of thrill-seeking film noir works alike. 

Suddenly is featured on the “RCN Movie Theater/Retro Special” on Wednesday, May 13, at 9pm and Saturday, May 16, at 8:30pm on RCN-TV.

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website. 

 

 

 

Advancing Technology Advantages

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 other agency, organization, employer or company.

Gary Laubach stole my thunder in his blog the previous week in which he talked about the new technology we started using in our first “all-remote” edition of the “RCN SportsTalk Show.”

In observing the health requirements and mandated safety procedures of the times, we started broadcasting the show with all of our guests remaining in their homes.

For our next “SportsTalk” show, we took things up a notch. Utilizing my RCN high speed internet (a huge shout out to my colleagues out in the field keeping it going strong), the show originated from my home to connect with members of local high schools spring sports programs.

In scheduling that episode’s guest list, I thought the experience would be therapeutic for our guests as coaches and players could express their frustrations in talking about their seasons being cancelled but additionally give viewers some unique perspectives on how they are dealing with their canceled seasons during the pandemic.

Another benefit of this particular program was allowing senior athletes to not only break the monotony of their quarantine but also to reveal some very heartfelt stories about their playing days, with some realizing that their sports careers have already come to a premature end.

Initially, I thought doing the show from my home might be an advantage over our usual setup. Instead of trying to find interesting guests who had to be available on Thursday between 6 to 8 p.m., I suddenly had great flexibility in scheduling.

Sure enough, the first three groups I contacted were eager to be on the show.  When hearing what time would work for them…the first said mornings work best, the 2nd said another day at 2pm was ideal and the third said they’re not available until sometime after 5pm.  Normally this would be a major problem, but now, this was not an issue.

The days leading up to the program recording date were rather nerve-wracking for me. I have been spoiled for the last 15 years of having eight or more incredibly capable crew members putting all the technical aspects of the show together.  While grateful to be given the responsibility to try something new, I realized I now was pretty much on an island by myself.  Any significant technical glitch would reflect badly upon my ability to be the pseudo – director / audio person / cameraperson / floor manager, et al for this project.

I had actually been testing the equipment for weeks with various people, some who had utilized similar technologies while picking their brains in order to properly prepare for this first day of recording.  As a television veteran, I also knew that I had to prepare for every possible thing that could possibly go wrong. (Murphy’s law frequently applies in TV productions:  “If it can go wrong, it will go wrong.” The trick is not to let people know at home that it does.)

But very early in the proceedings, I started to realize something I had never considered before.  Let me explain.

One aspect of hosting the show that I feel I have done a very capable job of over the years is to make guests feel relaxed. Well-established speakers can easily sit down and talk on a live television show for 60 minutes without hesitation.  I realized very early in my career that even veteran athletic directors, administrators and other people who do a fair amount of public speaking on their own, can very easily freeze-up when the bright lights click on.

I relish the challenge of having people arrive at our studio, terrified by the thought of the TV cameras focusing on them when they first arrive, and making sure they thoroughly enjoy the experience and want to return again by the time the show is over.

But by utilizing the equipment from my home to connect with high school athletes speaking from their own living rooms, I could sense right away how relaxed they were and how quickly they opened up and expressed their feelings and revealed heartfelt stories.

Although I’d like to think I come up with some pretty good questions from time to time, they made my job rather easy this week, wasting no time in providing emotional responses for the situation they and many other student-athletes are dealing with right now.

I also like to think a great interviewer knows when to be a good listener while helping them to find ways to express themselves as they deal with their own stresses.  Again, a skill I’d like to think I have an abundance of, was hardly necessary on this occasion.

When one of the coaches called me immediately after we completed recording this week’s show to thank me for the opportunity, I didn’t pause in my response.  I told him that it was not only a very enjoyable experience for me as an interviewer, but probably, in terms of evoking emotional stories, one of the best shows we have done, and the kids themselves deserve all the credit.

I know coming into a television studio and sitting under the bright lights for an hour is a unique experience not very many people ever have the opportunity to experience.  I look forward to the time we can do the show again, live, with guests joining me in the studio.

But I think this week’s program shows that there is also something extra special in talking with people in their natural environment.  One that can provide even greater personal insights we might not have gotten otherwise.

Either way, it’s nice to know that we here at RCN TV keep finding new ways of serving our customers, especially during these unusual times in our society.

You can see last week’s “SportsTalk” show featuring local high school athletes and coaches discussing how COVID-19 has affected their sports seasons, through RCN’s Video on Demand.

We’ll be continuing our “all – remote” editions of the program for at least the next few weeks.  Coming up this Thursday, Tom Housenick of The Morning Call will sub for my usual co-host, Keith Groller, to talk about Major League Baseball’s hiatus and rumors concerning its return, plus high school wrestling off-season news.  We will also have Mike Hofmann, a local historian, previewing his new book on high school football.

Sorry, Charlie

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.

Twenty-four-hour, all-sports radio stations have had an interesting few weeks trying to come up with new topics to discuss when there are literally no new topics in sports to discuss.  One program I heard recently on Philadelphia’s 94 WYSP (the station where I covered the Eagles for eight years) did bring up a Baseball Hall of Fame discussion, which led to a debate on who should and should not be in.  Among the names discussed includes one of the most positive personalities that I have ever met.

I have met, talked with and interviewed hundreds of very interesting head coaches in my day.

Among the professional head coaches and managers that I have interviewed: Doug Peterson, Andy Reid, Ray Rhodes, Larry Bowa, Gabe Kapler, Ryne Sandberg, Brett Brown, Mo Cheeks, Larry Brown … to name a few.  But I would be hard- pressed to find a more genuine and likeable pro sports coaching personality than former Phillies manager Charlie Manuel.

When I (and just about any other media member—save Howard Eskin) have had a chance to speak with Charlie about, well, anything, he was as accepting and as gracious as any person you could ever find.  He treated all members of the media the same and never gave anyone a hard time for a question he didn’t particularly like…something you can’t often say when dealing with people who have accomplished as much in a career as Manuel did.

In the Delaware Valley, he’s now a legend.  Winning a World Series will do that for most managers.

Manuel was on a list of 10 candidates but fell short of being elected into The Hall last December by the new “Today’s Game Era Committee,” and Phillies fans have been making a push for his name to return—with even more support—again to this year’s ballot.

Sadly, if pressed for an answer, I would have to agree that Manuel should NOT be enshrined, and if I was on any of the groups that have that power (of which there are too many—which is a subject for another blog entry) I’m afraid I would not vote him in.

Why?

A look at the facts…

Manuel won just one World Series.  In all, he won six league division titles and two pennants—all with seriously loaded offensive lineups.  While his ability to reach and connect with players, both on and off the field, was one of his best attributes, it’s hard to quantify that into the numbers game that is so key to getting that extra boost necessary to put you into the elite that is found in Cooperstown.

Instead, Manuel will more likely be remembered for that likeable, good-natured human being trait that I mentioned at the outset of this passage, than any extraordinary number or statistic you could provide in his defense.

The Hall of Fame is a place reserved for strictly the best of the best, based purely in terms of the game of baseball at the highest level and the Shrine is filled with people who had less than admirable personality traits.

Perhaps then, it is only fitting that Charlie will probably not be among them.

One-Third Season Review

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.

It’s been a tough year so far in 2020, with bad news continuing last week for sports fans in our viewing areas.

Obviously, the Coronavirus and the resulting postponements and cancellations is the big story in both sports and the world in general.  

The PIAA last Thursday canceled both the winter HS championships and the entire spring sports season, which has made our high school broadcasting campaign come to a premature end.  (although we are going to have a TON of things to talk about on upcoming “SportsTalk” shows.)

So as we reached the end of the scholastic season, yet are only one-third of the way through 2020, we’ve already had some very big events in our viewing area that will stick with me for quite some time.

Here’s a few of my memories and thoughts on 2020 so far…

1) The passing of Rocky Groller

While he had been sick and in declining health for almost a year-and-a-half, it was still a shock when, very early in the new year, Sports Talk co-host Keith Groller’s dad passed away – a few hours before we were going to do our first show of 2020.

I had crossed paths with Keith’s dad off and on for several decades.  Every time I ran into him I always remarked how congenial and thoroughly entertaining he was to me and the people around him and extremely knowledgeable about all aspects of sports.

Some will remember him for his athletics at Allentown High School.  My initial thoughts, however, were of his work serving the community for most of his adult life as a local firefighter.

When Keith called me to tell me the news late that afternoon, and with very little time to do a detailed dedication segment on that day’s show, I quickly drove up Airport Road to take a snapshot of his beloved East Side Fire Station and did an impromptu tribute to Keith’s dad. 

Rocky obviously got a much greater and more detailed send off a few days later in print and at his funeral from his son, but it was an incredibly emotional way to start off our year.

2) The Lack of Attention for Swimming Teams

With basketball and wrestling taking the lion’s share of the media and fans’ attention every winter sport season, the sport of swimming is largely overshadowed in terms of getting publicity.

I featured a few swimming teams on SportsTalk this winter, including an Emmaus team that was breaking all kinds of records and will probably continue to do so with many of this year’s athletes returning for next season.

The crowning moment for this sport is the PIAA championships when, for perhaps the only time in these student-athletes’ lives, their efforts are broadcast on television by the Pennsylvania Cable Network (RCN down position 97).

Sadly, in a year in which there were so many positive stories to report for this sport and many schools across the state represented, the health issues caused the stoppage of the championship meet the day before they were to take place.  The seniors who should have ended their high school careers with their greatest moments in front of their biggest audience, missed out on that golden opportunity.

3) My “Encore” Shows

One of my more enjoyable tasks over the last month has been to go back through some of our older SportsTalk shows and pick out some fan favorites.

Since the program started, I’ve tracked which shows our viewers have commented on the most and frequently have people request to see shows broadcast again (of course, our more recent programs are available through audio podcasts here on the website for you to hear for yourself at any time.)

In going back through my records, I’ve stumbled across some great memories of the wonderful people that I have had the opportunity to talk with and were honored they came in to share their own experiences with us.

It’s made me even more happy that I have gotten quite a few comments from viewers catching these shows over the last few weeks.  I appreciate people reaching out to tell me that they either missed that particular show the first time but were glad they caught it this time, or people telling me they really enjoyed seeing these programs again. 

Thanks to all of you for your feedback!

4) The Nazareth Girls Basketball Team

For the first few months of 2020 at every opportunity I had, I pointed out what an abundance of talent we have for girls basketball in Eastern Pennsylvania this year.

My statements in January and February proved true as, for the first time in decades, we had no less than three teams advance to the PIAA quarterfinals – all three were still alive when the PIAA postseason was stopped.

We had several great teams on SportsTalk this winter for both girls and boys basketball as well as wrestling and girls and boys swimming and diving (and for the record, all were very appreciative and sent some wonderful thanks of appreciation for being on).  By far the most emotional responses I received, both in “print” and through phone calls, was from the Nazareth community.

The Blue Eagles were riding an emotional rollercoaster after coming within a whisker of beating Bethlehem Catholic for the EPC title.  They continued their run by going to double overtime (with several dramatic last-game shots) to win the District 11 title. This was followed by two more State playoff wins, which made this year’s team a record-setter on several levels…only to have their quest for gold come to an abrupt halt. 

That’s why I decided to ask Head Coach Rich Bickert and his players to come into our studio.

When I schedule guests for shows, I always try to balance a number of variables and not just feature the teams/sports conversations that would automatically grab everyone’s attention.  One of those variables is to be a resource for our viewers and to act as an arm for them for expression. Clearly, they not only earned the opportunity for recognition with their outstanding season but our efforts at RCN to feature them touched a nerve and did more than simply talk about some great basketball.

As we have all said and thought over the last few months, it’s been an “interesting” year. I’m hoping for the rest of 2020 we will have quite a bit more positive memories to reflect upon.

High School All-Stars 2020 (Round 1)

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.

The local principals, athletic directors and, in some cases, the newly created “High School Coaches Association” have given permission to release information on the first set of high school sports all-stars from the past winter sports season. The High School Coaches Association was formed by local coaches after the Colonial League administrators chose not to participate in creating league all-star teams this year.

First, here are the All-Star basketball team members for the Colonial League:

1st team

*Abe Atiyeh (Moravian Academy), *Brendan Boyle (Notre Dame-Green Pond), *Daryl Coleman (Southern Lehigh), *Kody Kratzer (Palmerton), Nate Owens (Bangor), Jihad Range (Wilson)

(* identifies unanimous choice)

Note: Saucon Valley high school declined their votes.

2nd team

Chris Andrews (Southern Lehigh), Patrick Foley (Salisbury), Justin Hosier (Palmerton), CJ Miles (Bangor), Zach Moyer (Northern Lehigh), Derek Troxell (Catasauqua)

Honorable Mention

Liam Carey (Palisades), Connor Fehr (Pen Argyl), Luke Hallman (Northwestern), Nick Henry (Northwestern), Kyle Hoff (Southern Lehigh), Jared Jacobs (Notre Dame-Green Pond), Derelle McKinney (Wilson), Abel Saft (Moravian Academy), Bobby Snyder (Palisades), Quintin Stephens (Salisbury).

Here is the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference’s All-Star listing for local wrestling…

Weight Team Wrestler Name School Grade
106 1st Charlie Bunting Nazareth 9
106 2nd Cael McIntyre Bethlehem Catholic 9
106 3rd CJ Horvath Freedom 9
113 1st Luis Vargas Freedom 12
113 2nd Andreo Ferraina Nazareth 11
113 3rd Andrew Harmon Bethlehem Catholic 9
120 1st Luis Vargas Freedom 12
120 2nd Andreo Ferraina Nazareth 11
120 3rd Andrew Harmon Bethlehem Catholic 9
126 1st David Kreidler Central Catholic 11
126 2nd Matt Mayer Bethlehem Catholic 11
126 3rd Noah Reichelderfer Northampton 11
132 1st Dagen Condomitti Northampton 9
132 2nd Patrick Noonan Stroudsburg 12
132 3rd Evan Gleason Bethlehem Catholic 11
138 1st Kenny Herrmann Bethlehem Catholic 12
138 2nd Steven Storm PM East 12
138 3rd Ethan Szerencsits Northampton 12
145 1st DaShawn Farber Nazareth 12
145 2nd Matt Lackman Bethlehem Catholic 12
145 3rd CJ Fritz Northampton 10
152 1st Cole Handlovic Bethlehem Catholic 12
152 2nd Jagger Condomitti Northampton 11
152 3rd Jake Dressler Nazareth 12
160 1st Nathan Stefanik Nazareth 12
160 2nd Kai Clark Whitehall 12
160 3rd Jamir Jiminez Bethlehem Catholic 11
170 1st Lenny Pinto Stroudsburg 11
170 2nd Connor Herceg Nazareth 12
170 3rd Dominic Falcone Easton 11
182 1st Caden Wright Emmaus 12
182 2nd Isaiah Reinert Easton 11
182 3rd Drew Clearie Nazareth 11
195 1st Isaac Kassis Dieruff 12
195 2nd Jon Owens PM West 11
195 3rd Joe Capobianco Nazareth 11
220 1st Stephen Schott Nazareth 12
220 2nd Matthew Cruise Easton 10
220 3rd Makei Hubert Northampton 10
HWT 1st Blake Lambert Northampton 12
HWT 2nd Karam Chakif Dieruff 12
HWT 3rd Sebastian Khamis Stroudsburg 11
EPC Conference Wrestling MVP Cole Handlovic Bethlehem Catholic

Congratulations to all the local wrestling for their honors this year.

I will continue reaching out to athletic directors and league and district administrators over the next few weeks trying to recognize as many All-Stars as we can in our Pennsylvania and DC markets.

Keep checking back to “The Sports Talk Shop” each week for those lists!


PROGRAMMING NOTE:

For this Thursday’s edition of “Sports Talk,” we are going to bring back one of the most popular spring sports shows we’ve ever done.  It will be our “Former High School Baseball Coaches” show, featuring some of the winningest baseball managers in eastern Pennsylvania history.  I know I had a lot of fun hosting this program and our guests told me after the show they had a ball being on.  (One coach just thanked me again for having him on when I saw him a few weeks ago at a basketball playoff game.)

If you missed this program when it originally aired or wanted to hear some great stories involving some really good baseball coaches and players, be sure not to miss it.

State Playoff Recaps #2

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. 

The high school basketball season came to a grinding halt once the PIAA followed the NBA, NCAA, NHL, Major League Baseball and other major sports organizations in cancelling sports events due to the Coronavirus.

It was disappointing that a number of schools in the RCN-TV viewing areas in both Pennsylvania and Washington, DC were literally having their greatest seasons ever.  However, caution won out and the 2020 campaign for several local teams came to a quick end, or, in Pennsylvania, “on hold.”

In the DMV, where play was stopped right before the respective championship games, the governing bodies made the quick decision to declare all remaining teams “co-state champions.”

In Pennsylvania, it’s a much tougher call with three rounds of playoff games yet to be played and 96 schools on the boys and girls side still “alive” in state play, waiting anxiously for their season’s fate to be determined.  According to a statement released by the PIAA last week, those basketball playoff games, as well as the swimming championships, are still technically postponed until a later date.

One Lehigh Valley athletic director shared with me that, after checking with the Pennsylvania Department of Education late last week, the earliest possible start to any spring sports action would be April 7.  Another AD had opined to me on Saturday that the winter playoff games could resume as early as April 13, if all went well in dealing with the coronavirus situation.

However, President Trump’s message Sunday night calling for continuing social distancing, reduced travel and “stay home” initiatives through at least April 30 have suspended those plans now as well.

With the PA state playoff games in mind, here are highlights of our last (for now) high school state basketball broadcasts on RCN-TV for this season.

 

Don’t forget, all of our high school broadcasts are available for purchase–check out the contact information here on our website for details.

Just because games are halted doesn’t mean there’s no sports news to report.  One of the things I am working on this week is contacting our local athletic directors, administrators and coaches as we get a jump on recapping the winter sports season’s All-Star teams and post-season award listings.  Check back next week for those honorees!

 

State Playoff Recaps #1

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.

Before the high school playoff season came to a grinding halt due to the world health concerns, we had a number of competitive PIAA state basketball teams on RCN-TV, involving teams in and around our coverage areas.

Check out some of our high school basketball postseason highlights…


 


PROGRAMMING NOTE:

Out of concerns for our residents with the current medical issues going on right now, we are not going to be bringing in any guests on our live “SportsTalk” programs on Thursday evenings.  Instead, we are going to be bringing you encore editions of some of our most popular shows over the last few years.  Keep tuning in at our program’s regularly scheduled times for some of your favorite all-time guests and topics on our show.

Once the sports world starts resuming activities, we’ll resume our live programs each week.  I am in contact with a number of interesting guests that I have been in continued contact with to reschedule once our shows resume and we will also have features on your favorite local sports teams once the spring seasons are permitted to return to their respective fields of play.