Archive for June, 2007

Still coachless in Casey

The June basketball season has come and gone, and Casey County still does not have a boys basketball coach. That’s a tough spot for any team, let alone one as starved for success as Casey, which has gone more than 10 years without a winning season.

The Rebels have been in capable hands, with assistant coach Phil Williams leading them through the June schedule and athletic director Victor Black handling administrative chores. But on Friday it will have been seven weeks since Perry Walters resigned, and that’s a long time at this time of year.

Progress has been slow because Casey is in transition between two principals, and the hire will fall to new principal Barry Lee. The wheels should begin turning much faster when Lee takes office next week, especially because Black has already done some preliminary work.

No Comments »

Dead for a long time in Tennessee

The Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s mandatory dead period is upon us, and many coaches are counting the days until they and their players can have a little time off. The dead period begins June 25 and continues through July 8.

Our neighbors in Tennessee are introducing a dead period in 2008, and they’ve taken it a step further than Kentucky officials did. Their new dead period will eliminate coaches’ contact with their athletes throughout the month of June.

According to this story in The Leaf-Chronicle of Clarksville, Tenn., a number of football coaches in that area believe the dead period will have a negative impact on their sport. But as one Clarksville coach said, if everyone is playing by the same rules, where’s the harm?

Coaches, especially in football and basketball, know they have to get a lot done in the summer so they won’t get outworked by the coach across town or across the county line. But they’d also like to have some semblance of a life, so many of them are looking forward to getting some time off without having to worry about their rivals getting an edge. And shouldn’t athletes be able to take a vacation with their families, have some time to hang out with friends or just get the chance to sleep late, play video games and just be kids for a while? Of course they should.

The Clarksville story also says the KHSAA is considering limiting (but not eliminating) coaches’ contact in June, and it will be interesting to see how far that gets. Obviously, it would have to be worked around the three spring sports that play well into June: baseball, softball and track and field.

Whether that’s too much dead period or not remains to be seen. But the idea behind the dead period is a good one, and the good it does negates any inconvenience it might present for coaches.

* * *

As long as we’re looking across state lines, here’s an interesting story from The Indianapolis Star about a woman who has been hired to coach boys varsity basketball at a Class 2A school in northwest Indiana. The paper says it’s only the second time this has happened in Indiana, and I’m pretty sure there are only one or two similar instances in Kentucky as well.

No Comments »

A dark night for football

The stars will not be out tonight at Centre College, and that’s too bad.

This would have been the night that the Mid-State Football Coaches Association staged its annual all-star game. For six years, the game has been a fixture on the day before the Great American Brass Band Festival. But there is no game tonight, and there doesn’t seem to be much chance that there will ever be another.

With no fanfare and not much of a protest, the coaches of the 19 schools that make up the MSFCA simply decided not to play their game this year. After six years, it has fallen victim to declining interest among the coaches who must organize the game and the players who would participate.

“The past two or three years the interest levels have been down,” said Garrard County coach Steve Stonebraker, who served as the game director for a couple of years and who writes the “Coach Stoney” blog for “And it’s mainly among the kids.”

The game, played for five years at Centre and once at Harrodsburg, has been a showcase for graduated seniors who aren’t picked to play in the Kentucky-Tennessee all-star game — which of course is most of them. Many of those players were headed for small colleges, and some had no plans to play college football at all.

But fewer players have taking the coaches up on their invitational in recent years. The South team was undermanned throughout the six-year series and had a very small roster for the last two years. The North, which led the series 5-0-1, had bigger rosters, but its numbers were on the decline as well.

Then there was the matter of finding coaches to organize the game. Danville assistant Jerry Perry, a key figure in organizing the coaches’ association and its annual spring combine, was the first game director. Stonebraker followed for a couple of years before being succeeded last year by Donnie Walker, who was then the coach at Franklin County. After Walker left Franklin, there wasn’t exactly a rush to take his place.

“It’s a lot of work to put on … and it takes a lot of time away from your own team,” Stonebraker said.

So the game appears to have passed quietly and peacefully.

“Honestly, there just wasn’t a whole lot of talk about it this year,” Stonebraker said. “I only heard talk from a couple of coaches, and only one of my kids mentioned it.”

That’s a shame, because this was a game worth playing. Yes, the commitments of time and money needed to play it were significant, and the contributions of the coaches and others who gave those things should be applauded.

They should also be continued. Perhaps the answer is to give each school in the coaches’ association a turn at running the game. Or maybe it should be done by someone outside that loop. Then again, there’s a good chance they already considered those ideas. Maybe a significant sponsorship would have helped save the game. Maybe not.

And maybe there really aren’t that many players who care whether such a game gets played or not. But if there are still enough interested teenagers, there ought to be a way to keep the game going. Regional all-star games have been sustained for much longer than this in other areas (northern Kentucky comes to mind), and it’s sad and surprising that this one had such a short life span.

No Comments »

These are title towns for track, too

The results of the state track meet can be a little hard to digest, with 108 individual state championships and six team trophies handed out over two days. No other sport comes close to crowning that many champions, with swimming a distant second with 24 individual and two team champions.

But look a little closer at all that agate type, and you’ll see that this relatively small area does big things in track and field year after year. While no local school has won a team track title since 1997, hardly a season has gone by since without one or more individual event wins by local athletes.

By my quick count, 11 local athletes from three different schools won or shared championships in seven events last weekend. Here’s the roll call:

  • Casey County: Chaz Grider.
  • Danville: Ross Hempel, Allie Payne, Andrea Payne, Caroline Stroup, Candice Taylor,
  • Mercer County: Brandon Ford, Cory Jackson, Chrys Jones, Russell Mays, Tyler Mays.

Those boys and girls may not be riding on fire trucks, but any state championship is worth celebrating. And the fact that this area consistently cranks out champions and championship contenders year after year speaks very well for the local track programs and their coaches.

* * *

A special tip of the hat goes to Chrys Jones, the Mercer County jumper who broke two state records and is the only athlete to hold records in two different classes — and quite possibly the first to ever do it.

Jones capped his spectacular high school career by breaking the overall state record in the triple jump that had stood for 29 years and the Class AA record in the long jump. His triple jump feat gives him two records in that event, the Class AA and overall records he broke Friday and the Class A record he broke last year with Harrodsburg.

Jones is the kind of athlete who’s easy to root for, and he’ll surely break more records when he starts jumping for Centre College next spring.

1 Comment »

WP Login