The answer to the question from Jim Sacco about our VB coverage (Sorry Jim, it won't be a short one)



LURAY - I have to start out by thanking everyone that has checked in and enjoyed our efforts this past 60 days during the Volleyball season! Jim Sacco had asked me a question the other day about why I invest my own time and own money in covering High School Volleyball?
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Then Jim got tricky- he wanted a one sentence answer. My one sentence answer was at the end of the Day you could blame it all on Kaitlin Smoot and Katie Baker. He offered me another sentence to wrap that up but I couldn't even come close.
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Sunday evening came around and my wife Linda and I were at a showl being presented in Charlottesville. UVA has an organization called First Year Players and twice a year they put on a musical. Our youngest of five, Rebecca played a role in the production (Assistant Technical Director) so we headed over to see the show. The show had a four day schedule beginning on Thursday and running through Sunday.
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The production this time was Footloose and the seventh number in provided the answer but we have to go back a few steps first. My entire life has been about Sports, from playing them while younger through making adventures of them later in life. A different type of Sports Collector from most in that I didn't collect memorabilia but sets of adventures.
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When it came to Baseball I made the loop and attended at least one game in every major league stadium. I had hoped to finish a book telling the story about how average Joe Fan could make the loop for less than $10,000. The sad part of the story was that the most recent MLB strike took the fun out of baseball for me.
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I have to look back and laugh at the hockey version of the story and chuckle. There is a closet upstairs that has a NHL jersey from every team but there is a kicker to that. Each jersey was purchased in the home market of that team. Then one day the hockey players deceided they needed football player money and the sport shut down for over a calender year.
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Basketball is a true passion and my favorite two trips here were to watch an ACC game in every arena and then one at both the Mens and Womens tournament. The second was to visit all 40+ schools in the state of Virginia that play basketball. The first was a great deal of fun and the second took me places I hadn't seen before.
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The many adventures had been fun over the years but the more you followed sports the more you could see behind the curtain. The NFL with Mike Vick, Cinci's legal issues, steroids, Pac Man Jones and owners like Jerry Jones combined to make it hard to be excited about the direction of the league.
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Baseball developed its own sets of issues with the hearings in D.C, the Home Run chase of Barry Bonds (whether you were for or against his cause), the strikes, Sammy Sosa and his corked bat and the on going saga with Pete Rose. I was just happy to have Greg Maddux to root for and will be lost if he retires this year.
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Life for me is about finding the Good Story and praising people for their efforts. Two teams compete and there is a winner and a team that tried their best. I will be the first to admit that there aren't many residents in my corner of the world but that doesn't mean that I am going to move just to have company. I would find folks to believe in if it took me all...
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Back to the song from the show - Bonnie Tyler singing "Holding Out for a Hero" sums it up for me. A life time full of following sports and I was in search of something or someone I could believe in. There must be a good sports story filled with good sports figures and I made it my mission to find it. This led me to the dynamic duo of Kaitlin Smoot and Katie Baker of Strasburg High School.
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Smoot and Baker played Class A Volleyball for Strasburg High School until they graduated last summer. They teamed up to lead their school to a 28-0 record during their senior year and did so with as much Class as any two athletes I have seen. I don't have to worry about readers stopping and saying "But it is only Class A Volleyball" because if that is your mindset then it is pretty safe to say that you don't read much on this site.
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I don't chase the dramatics or try and beat someone to the scoop here, just search out neat people with a neat story to tell. Yes, I was searching for a Hero and found a pair of them and then some. No chest thumping, no trash talking, the old saying of there is no "I" in team and then there is the ability to lead. Just two well spoken, very respectful student athletes that wore Purple & White twice a week for a few years and did so with pride.
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You have to give a fair amount of the credit to the four parents of these two for and I have had the pleasure of spending a fair amount of time with Larry & Judith Smoot and Larry & Jane Baker. Neat people who have done a remarkable job raising their children at a time when that is not as easy as it once was.
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Start with Kaitlin & Katie and then you have what I like to call the Umbrella effect. These two lead to Head Coach Suzanne Mathias and Athletic Director Matt Hiserman of Strasburg. The five fellow seniors on the team as well as the underclassmen that returned this season. Keeping with my theme of there not being winners and losers or villains in my world led me to the Kritter family from Rappahannock County.
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Elena Kritter went toe to toe with Strasburg all through High School and this led me to getting to know another amazing VB family. Three daughters all playing competitive VB and Mr. Kritter helping coach as well. The Kevin Bacon six degrees of separation doesn't end there as Katie has moved on to play Division III VB at Bridgewater College.
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Katie raves about her 1ST year Coach, Mr. Greg Spector and that is good enough for me. It wasn't always easy to find the time and energy to make the BC matches this year but never the less it was too much fun to pass up. Already looking forward to seeing Katie and her Lady Eagles play again next season.
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The other connection that came with BC was a name on the roster- Candice Guy. Guy was listed as a sophomore from Fishersville, Virginia and attended Wilson Memorial High School. There were a couple other local names on the roster as well in Blair Wampler (James Wood) and Erika Dirnagl (Sherando). I had covered matches with Wampler during my time with the Northern Virginia Daily but Erika played for the Warriors one year before my time covering the sport here in the Valley. Wampler suffered an injury prior to the season and wasn't able to play this year but should be back for the 2009 season.
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New team, new Coach, new school and same ole Katie Baker.It was fun to see her again on Saturday night trying to cheer her beloved Rams on in the State finals. The letter she wrote the team prior to the final four was inspiring but then again I wouldn't of expected anything less from an exceptional young lady.
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Candice Guy being on the same team with Katie Baker led me to another group of special people that are connected to the Wilson Memorial VB team. Kala Guy is the little sister to Candice and the daughter to Mr. & Mrs. Guy. This family and Jim Sacco of The News Virginian simply took things to the next level.
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You could make a case for Kala Guy being the best High School VB player in Class A in the State of Virginia. She just collected the Player of the Year Award for Region B and will be in line for more awards at the State level when they are announced. Yes, she is a talented VB player and my favorite part of her game- team leader! Once again there is no I in team with this young lady and a tip of the cap for that. I still say she would look nice wearing a BC Lady Eagles jersey next to her sissy next season.
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That brings us to Mr. Jim Sacco of the News Virginian and the amount of energy he brought to the table this season with Region B Volleyball. I have only known Jim a short time but I do really believe that he subscribes to the same thought on Volleyball being just as important as any other High School sport. Both of us will be pulling for Dae Quan Scott (R.E. Lee) and Pickle Nuckols (Buffalo Gap) on Friday night when they both lace up the spikes in their Regional Finals contests.
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Chip Crabill and myself (and hopefully Jim) will be broadcasting on ESPN-1240 from Brookville when R.E Lee plays and I will be the first to admit I really hope that one if not both schools advance to the State Finals. Just not any more or any less than I pulled for Strasburg and Wilson Memorial to make it to VCU last week.
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To complete the circle I have to tell you about Kaitlin Smoot and her Virginia Tech Club Volleyball team playing in a tournament at James Madison University this past Saturday. The story has to begin back on Friday morning when I had a 3 hour meeting with Dan Simpson of the Washington Post following our night of delivering newspapers. I was 12 hours into my work day when I jumped in the car and headed toward Richmond for the Strasburg vs. Wilson Semi-Final
match.
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After the completion of the match it was off to Cumberland High School for the Buffalo Gap playoff game. Standing in the rain and the fog for a few hours just added to the day/night. Good news was that Buffalo Gap won 46-12 and would live to play another game. The bad news was the clock reading 3:00 A.M. when I had finished all of my responsibilities for the night.
The JMU tourney was slated to begin at 8:30 A.M. and this was on the only time that Kaitlin would be playing in our area this year. Cumberland to Lynchburg (postings for the night) and then to Harrisonburg for the tournament. Four and 1/2 hours later, VT stood at 2-0 with two games remaining in pool play. But now it was 1:00 P.M. and play was scheduled to resume back in Richmond in just 4 more hours.
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Time to head out and make my way back to the Siegel Center both feeling and looking a little rough (How rough - the guy working the table at VCU might of mistaken me for a homeless person instead of a reporter). Why would someone do that to themselves for a 48 hour stretch?
It wasn't for the Volleyball match at JMU, it was just a chance to hang out with one of my Heroes.
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As the Great Paul Harvey would say - Now you know the rest of the Story...

Comments

Anonymous said…
You're a good man Jerry Carter.

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