Tuesday, January 29, 2013

7 in 5!!!!!!!

There are many things we take for granted in everyday life.  Most of the time we don't realize all the work that goes into something until we need that exact service.  Recently, our community has suffered through 7 fires in 5 days including blazes that were raging in bitter cold temperatures and also being investigated for arson.  Our local volunteer firefighters

Having some first responder and emergency training in my career, I will try to offer up how a day went for a volunteer firefighter on Monday morning when the temperature was struggling to hit 20 degrees.  Those who didn't have an immediate work obligation were out the door as soon as possible while those who did made the necessary arrangements in order to respond. While several fire companies assembled there was a on scene commander to oversee the operation and traffic control.  Other personnel were accounting for residents while others battled the blaze to prevent it from spreading and determining if a possible human rescue was needed.  All the time no volunteered questioned why they were there in harm's way.  They simply knew it was their duty as a trained volunteer.

While their equipment may have been just packed away, they would receive two more calls at 7 pm and 10 pm.  They didn't know what to expect, but answered each time.  I seen a firefighter and fire police at 6:30 am on my way to work.  One could only ask, was they engaged for 24 straight hours?

We actually have it pretty good in Pennsylvania.  We have a group of people who train long and hard in a variety of conditions, upkeep expensive equipment to gain another year of service, and are ready to answer the call when alarm sounds.  They don't ask for much just ask for a little support in return. 

With lack of volunteering for anything being down in today's society, our volunteer firemen have received a bad rap for a variety of reasons.  In the end, they still forge ahead and get the job done risking everything on every call.  There are some that pay the ultimate price

There are times like this when arson was involved and possible loss of life on the table, we get off too easy by just saying thank you.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Shamokin Names Yaacov Yisreal New Head Football Coach

Yisreal sits down with reporters

 Introduction by President Brian Persing

Shamokin Area welcomed former Penn State standout Yaacov Yisreal as their 11th head coach since 1965.  Yisreal comes over from Halifax after coaching the undermanned Wildcats to back-to-back 4-6 seasons.

After some questions and missteps about the hiring practice, the board approved Yisreal by a 9-0 vote. A candidate who was considered a finalist for the job had pulled his application from the process.  Yisreal comes to Shamokin by way of Chicago through Penn State meeting future wife Jill Martz at State College.

Shamokin Area has been a graveyard of coaches since enjoying some success on a state level under Dave Zielinskie the early 1990's.  Since then the Indians have gone through 4 head coaches including an unsuccessful second stint by Zielinskie.  To make matters worse, Shamokin has not beaten rival Mount Carmel since 1995. Shamokin's two main rivals, Southern Columbia and the Red Tornadoes have won 11 state titles since 1994.

What has happened to Shamokin over the last 20 years where nearby schools such as Selinsgrove, Mount Carmel and Southern have all mined PIAA gold? Every time the football coaching job has opened, the battle cry has been for more discipline on and off the field.  In addition to discipline, another new cry has been the youth programs need an overhaul.

Having played in high school football in the 1980's before extensive weight training and before the high fructose corn syrup and video game era, I think players were more self motivated to do well. Each coach that has come in the last 20 years have enjoyed some degree of success, but have been able to maintain or build upon it. For the most part, I believe have been held to different standards than other coaches in the district.

One thing I have seen in the last 32 years including 4 as a player is I have seen Shamokin decline in the number pure athletes that we once had competed.  I am not knocking our current group, but years ago you had many athletes excelling and dominating at three sports not just one. If you look at some of the success Shamokin enjoyed over the last 20 years, it has been tied to a strong running attack with a running back rushing for over 1000 yards. 

Changing Shamokin's fortunes on the field require a change in culture off the field.  One of the hardest things to do is to take a step backward to move forward.  Southern and Selinsgrove were growing areas so it was a little easier.  Mount Carmel has always been good and they have been able to maintain, but here have been chinks in their armour over the last several seasons. 

In speaking with Yisreal right after he had been hired, he had said that he wants to make his presence felt in the community.  He also stated that he had been part of top notch high school program, a top university program and was exposed to excellent NFL coaches.  As an undersized D-1 defensive back Yisreal beat the odds to make himself into a quality player and learned the game.  All he asking is he get the same effort from his players.

In measuring a coach, all you have to do ask one question.  Do you want your son to play for Yisreal. The answer is easy and resounding yet.