Sunday, January 25, 2015

Losing Legends, Icons and Growing in 2014

This is a late but better than never.  It seems like when a year comes to a close, most if not all media outlets do a year in review.  As individuals, we pause to reflect on our own lives and make resolutions for the future.  The resolutions may life changing or they could end up on the scrap heap in our throw away society.

In reporting and broadcasting high school sports for the past 25 years, no two coaches dominate a conversation like that of Joseph "Jazz" Diminick of Mount Carmel Area and Robert Probert of Shamokin Area.  Diminick was a football and track coach often receiving statewide and national attention in football while Probert had statewide and collegiate coaching respect throughout the state and country.  They were also PIAA officials in various sports.

We lost both this past year.  I only played two games against Coach Diminick and none against Coach Probert.  Both were in the twilight of their coaching careers while I was in the dawn of reporting and broadcasting.  Most of their personal interaction with me came from genuine mutual respect.  Both actually liked my work and complimented me personally.  I even got to officiate with Mr. Diminick.

I can't speak for former players if they loved or hated playing for either.  I am sure as time went on in former players lives, they were glad they did with much appreciation.  I don't know what the world of scholastic sports will bring in the next half century in the coal region.  I knew at one time when you left the region, you were looked at in high regard due to the influence of these two men.  They will be missed.

On August 16th, 2014, Shamokin said goodbye to Harry's Grille.  The eatery opened by Harry Sanzatto in 1941 and remained in the same spot operated by the same family for generations.  The restaurant was known for a variety of fine food at reasonable prices. 
2014 was a bridge for change in my and my sons' lives.   Jonathan, my younger of two boys, completed his final year of Little League Baseball.  Although sports are far from being the be all cure all, his final year and final play brought about some excitement and pride.
It started out with Jonathan not wanting to play in his final season.  It then moved to reluctant practice and playing a new position.  As the season wore on, the team started to click together.  Jonathan was having fun playing a kids game.  Isn't that what it is all about?  
In his final play as a Little League player, Jonathan had the walk off hit to deliver the league championship for his team.  Although most of this will be forgotten by players and fans who were there by opening day 2015, he was able to see that you can overcame anything with hard work and perseverance.  That is what he will keep in his trophy case.  

Sunday, January 11, 2015

My Day with Stuart Scott

ESPN personality Stuart Scott was laid to rest yesterday after his bout with cancer ended on Sunday, January 4th.  During tributes over the past week, video of Scott inside the "treatment room" jarred memories of my own battle with the dreaded c-word.  Although one has love support, you are often left to wonder how much time one has left in the world.  No matter how many people are in your life, it can be a lonely experience. 

I never met Mr. Scott or ever saw him at a sporting venue where I was in attendance.  My presence at a professional event has been on a steep decline over the past decade or so.  How did I spend a day with Mr. Scott?  Flashback to March 24th, 1985.

That day fell on a Sunday.  The location was the campus of Alabama-Birmingham.  The event was the Southeast Regional Final with the Villanova Wildcats going up Dean Smith's North Carolina Tar Heels.  We all know how the tournament would unfold over the next 9 days. 

Due to a very limited spending account (I was broke), I was a freshman back at campus in St. Mary's dorm on Villanova's  watching the game.  Did Scott hitch a ride with the university radio station?  Probably one of his friends or colleagues will know.  I do know that we both watched the game with high intensity rooting for our university and a trip to the Final Four.  For two hours in our lives, it was shared together.

As the days, months and years go by, I will remember Scott not so much for his hip-hop commentary.  I will remember him for how he lived life to the fullest.  I will remember to try to do the same with my second chance given to me over 12 years ago when I have doubt.  I will also remember the excitement that March 24th, 1985 brought us both. 

RIP Stuart Scott - "Cool as the other side of the pillow"