“They’re taking another quarterback?”
This is the first thing I heard while sitting at the bar — I mean, eh…coffee shop, when the Washington Redskins drafted Kirk Cousins just three rounds after taking Robert Griffin III as No. 2 overall.
While it may still be early, the start of training camp and pre-season practices still spells excitement in Sussex County, with the return of high school football.
Teams are reloading. Teams are rebuilding. There are new coaches, new players, new goals and new expectations. And while there’s a reason for the phrase “any given Sunday,” which can be easily translated to the high school level to read “any given Friday night,” we’re taking a look at what challenges lie ahead for the Indians in the Henlopen South after the first few pre-season scrimmages of 2015.
The 2014 division champion, Lake Forest, and state championship runner-up Laurel look to be tough to beat yet again this season, while Delmar and Woodbridge look to also be a challenge, and both Milford and Seaford have new head coaches trying to turn things around. But just like any season, anything can happen when those Friday night lights switch on and a new year gets under way.
Every year, the Indian River High School boys’ soccer team graduates its fair share of irreplaceable players. But, every year, the storied program also sees its fair share of new players establish themselves as the next class of, well… irreplaceable players.
The 2015 season will be no different, with All-State/All-Conference selections Luis Cruz, Danny Garza and Sean Whelen all moving on to play at the collegiate level.
But according to head coach Steve Kilby, there’s still no shortage of talented underclassmen who are ready to step up into impact roles for the Indians this year — talented underclassmen ready to step up just like Cruz, Garza and Whelen once did.
“We’ve lost those players down the middle, but we’ve got guys that are stepping in and doing a great job,” said Kilby. “Everybody’s stepping up, and I think playing a little bit quicker, a little bit stronger, a little bit faster, which is the thing you want to see.”
Taking over Cruz’s former position at center mid will be junior captain Mac Smith, who finds himself starting for the Indians for a third straight year. But with Smith’s experience and versatility, it’s likely that he’ll see a multitude of roles throughout the season.
For three straight losing seasons, the Indian River high school volleyball program has been ready for a turnaround. However, with two new coaching hires and the shifting of former head coach Jay Clark into a new role, the Indians may finally have the pieces in place to make it happen.
First-year head coach Jim Barnes will take the helm for the Indians this season, allowing Clark to move into an assistant role, where he’ll be able to focus on working with the girls on more technical aspects of the game. Freeing up Barnes and Clark to focus on the varsity will be junior varsity coach Joyce Bunting, who rounds out the coaching trifecta.
“We all have different talents and traits that work perfectly together,” Barnes said of the new coaching staff. “Jay’s really good with technique. My strength is really the motivation, the enthusiasm, the understanding of the game and where to put the girls on the courts. And now we’re able to get Joyce Bunting to be our JV coach. She has a lot of experience coaching. I really respect her.”
Delaware’s hunting seasons kicked off Tuesday, Sept. 1, with the opening of the archery and crossbow deer season and mourning dove and resident Canada goose seasons on private lands and state wildlife areas.
The Delmarva Shorebirds gave fans a show during their final homestand of the 2015 season this week, stringing together a four-game win streak in their series against Hickory.
As I lay looking up the Texas-shaped water splotch on the ceiling — the one I’ve been meaning to paint over for approximately two years now — I wondered how I could possibly be so miserable when just yesterday I had lain in the very same place, looking up at the very same Texas-shaped water splotch, and been perfectly content. I had been perfectly happy, even. Maybe, even happier than I had been in a long time.
After their most successful season in over a decade, the bar for third-year head coach Jodi Stone and the Indian River High School field hockey team has officially been raised. This year, they’re aiming to score more goals. This year, they’re aiming to break the .500 mark. This year, they’re aiming for a Henlopen South title.
And after posting a 5-9-1 record in 2014, with three of those losses decided by two goals or less, and returning the majority of their 2014 roster, for the first time in more than a decade, the Indians could very well hit their target.
“We feel really good about this year,” said senior defender Callie McDowell of the expectations. “Last year, we had four or five games where we lost by one, could have tied, or did tie. We’re looking to put those in the win column this year. Every year, we just keep getting better.”
“We’re raising the bar,” added Stone. “We’re definitely there. We turned the corner last year.”
For the first time in nearly four decades, the Indian River High School football team won’t open their season with Ray Steele or Jimmy Bunting at the helm. But while both coaches will certainly be missed, newly appointed head coach and IR alum/former All-State selection Phill Townsend is ready to lead his squad into a new era, while at the same time building upon the impressive legacy and proud tradition set by his predecessors.
“We miss Coach Steele, but you just keep moving on, doing what you’re doing. I’m not really changing too much, I’m just tweaking it,” Townsend explained. “He did such a great job, and Coach Bunting before him. I’m just continuing their legacy, bringing my own twist.”
And just as the Indians’ will see a new, yet familiar, face holding the clipboard on Friday nights, they’ll also see some new, yet familiar, faces making impacts on the field, as voids left several by key seniors from 2014 need to be filled and former underclassmen step up to fill them.
Frankford was the site of some national pickleball action last weekend, when the First State Pickleball Club hosted their Summer Classic on their official courts at John M. Clayton Elementary School.
Pickleball players from as far as Florida and Arizona made their way to Delaware for the tournament, with around 100 of them joining spectators and guests to form the number “50” on the courts for an aerial shot in honor of the sport’s 50th anniversary.
Several local players finished strong, with the full results of the tournament as follows:
Shorebirds fans will get their final chance to see their team in action in 2015 as Delmarva approaches their final homestand of the season, spanning from Saturday, Aug. 29, to Wednesday, Sept. 2.
They’ll face Hickory during the five-game stretch, before hitting the road to take on Lakewood for the final games of the 2015 season.
Athletes and supporters can bring their walking shoes, kids or dog to join some of the Bethany Beach Patrol lifeguards on the new 1-mile walk course at the Bethany Beach Patrol Alumni & Seashore Striders’ 7th Annual Ed Dean Memorial 4-Mile Run, to raise money for a scholarship to benefit a current lifeguard on the Bethany Beach Patrol.
This year’s race will take place rain or shine on Saturday, Aug. 29. The course begins beside Magnolia’s Seafood Bar & Grill on Cedar Neck Road and continues on roads and trails through the Fresh Pond State Park in Ocean View.
Earning a scholarship from the alumni in memory of the former captain Ed Dean is a true honor for a guard, organizers noted. First, the scholarship is an investment in the academic promise of a lifeguard in the name of a long-time educator. And second, it is also a reward for the selflessness of saving lives and devotion to the camaraderie that makes the Bethany Beach Patrol so successful, they said.
The fourth annual Bethany Beach First Responders Sprinternational Triathlon-Duathlon-Aquabike, sponsored by Meris Properties, will be on Sunday, Sept. 20. Triathlon-Duathlon-Aquabike proceeds will benefit the Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company and first responders, with options to support Autism Speaks and Share-A-Lot. Triathlon, duathlon and aquabike races are now open for registration.
The Bethany Beach First Responders Sprinternational Triathlon-Duathlon-Aquabike begins at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 20. It is a USA Triathlon-sanctioned event, produced by Focus MultiSports. The event will start with a point-to-point ocean swim. The transition area will be on Garfield Parkway and Atlantic Avenue in downtown Bethany Beach. The bike and run will encompass Bethany Beach, North Bethany, Indian River Bridge and South Bethany. The race will end on the Bethany Beach boardwalk, with an after-party at Mango’s catered by sponsor Bethany Blues. The awards ceremony will be at the boardwalk bandstand.
I think my imagination was initially kindled by the picture of my mother, Alice Barnes, and Carolyn Hughes standing in the doorway of an inn at Bethany Beach, Journey’s End, called “Fort Maggie,” for “Auntie” Margaret Hughes, the proprietor during the war years, when the husbands were otherwise engaged in Europe and Asia.
The Delaware National Guard was busy guarding against the possibility of a German invasion on the Atlantic coast, so the inn had been, at least, partly, “mobilized” for the “duration.” The two young women were dressed in semi-military attire, grinning and saluting the camera. It’s a great picture — full of life, humor and, maybe most important, a healthy dash of silliness.
My very first memories are of Bethany Beach, although I can’t really be sure, of course. I was born during the war, in 1943. When my father, Ned Barnes — an officer in the OSS — shipped out to Burma and India, Alice, my mother, and a couple of other women in Washington who were lucky enough to have been friends of Carolyn’s, discovered they could move to Journey’s End in Bethany, with their infant children in a few cases, for a large chunk of the year.
The First State was well-represented by the First State Pickleball Club when dozens of Delawareans recently made the trip to Minneapolis for the 2015 National Senior Games, in which 12,000 athletes from across the country showed up, having all qualified in statewide competition, with Delaware being led by the grand dame of Delaware athletes, Marion Lisehora.
Five Delaware players medaled in the competition, with six others finishing in the top 10 of their national category.
“It’s an honor to be competing on the national stage against some of the best pickleball players in the U.S.,” said First State Pickleball Secretary Cheryl Martin. “Our club players were in serious contention, competing at a high level with the best. The state of Delaware was well-represented on the podium.”
Imagine the horror of arriving at the airport to learn the airline has no record of your plane tickets. Now multiply that by 32 people and add $40,000. That’s the heart-stopping travel nightmare that a Little League team from Hagåtña, Guam, experienced when they and their parents tried to board a plane for the Little League World Series in Delaware.
The teenage girls were excited to represent the Asia-Pacific region for the Senior League Softball World Series, played this week in Roxana. After playing in the 2010 series, Jessilyn Balajadia, 21, was returning to coach her little sister, under their father, manager Jesse Balajadia.
Luckily, they planned to fly early, on July 31, and stay a day in Philadelphia, with plenty of time before opening ceremonies on Aug. 2. But when they arrived at the airport in Guam, there were no reservations.
Landing just shy of greatness, Lower Sussex Little League put on a good show last week in Connecticut.
Locally considered the Major League All-Star softball team, the age 11/12 girls were named the Mid-Atlantic champions, though they were first runner-up in the overall Little League Softball Eastern Regional tournament.
Next week, the Lower Sussex Little League Complex in Roxana will be inundated with softball players from around the globe, for the Big League and Senior League Softball World Series.
World-class players ranging in age from 13 to 18 will compete in the two tournaments, which begin Sunday, Aug. 2, and run through Sunday, Aug. 8.
I found out that I had a clavicle this week. Then, I found out that is was broken. Really broken, actually. Like snapped in half and sticking out all over the place broken. Like Owen Wilson in Act III of the movie “Wedding Crashers” broken.
It turns out that, after defying injuries while dropping into the Fenwick shore break for the past 15 years, fate (or Poseidon or Tom Cruise or whatever other mystical forces of the universe and the ocean that were supposed to be watching over me) finally dropped the ball.
The good news is I’ll be back in action in about four to six weeks. The bad news is the Little League World Series gets under way on Sunday and, while my photo-shooting arm should be alright, my mustard-spreading arm is hanging in a sling.
But like all great athletes — or at least sports reporters who write about great athletes — the show must go on, mustard-less hotdogs and all. So, in a misguided attempt to alleviate some self-pity, I decided to take look at a few other tough guys (or girls) who have successfully battled through injuries over the years.
Last summer, the “90 Seconds Movie” helped put some of Delmarva’s top surfing talent on the map. But this Friday, when the event makes its return to K-Coast Surf Shop, the men behind the curtain have something a little different up their sleeves for year two.
“We just wanted to show our gratitude to our local photographers and help get their work out there in the public eye,” explained local professional surfer Colin Herlihy, who helped orchestrate the event, along with videographer Joey Dwyer and Crazy 8’s owner Eugene Stiltner. “Last year, it was all about the local surfers, videographers and editors. This year, we wanted to pay homage to our local photographers.”
After giving out awards in categories such as “Best Air” and “Best Barrel” last year, local photographers this year submitted their 90-second slideshow for the “Framed” show, competing in categories including “Best Water Shot,” “Best Sequence Shot,” “Best Empty Wave or Lineup Shot,” “Best Usage of White Balance” and “Best Delmarva Lifestyle Photo.”
This year, for the first time, two local Challenger Division teams will participate in the first Challenger Exhibition Game at the Senior League Softball and Big League Softball World Series Tournaments in Roxana, on Wednesday, Aug. 5, at 5:30 p.m.
In 1989, the Little League Challenger Division was established to provide a Little League experience to children with physical and intellectual challenges. In 2001, Little League gave two Challenger Division teams the opportunity to play a game at the Little League Baseball World Series. First played in 2008, the game at the Little League Softball World Series has become a tradition in Portland, Ore., and will be take place on Saturday, Aug. 15, at 12:30 p.m.
On Saturday, Aug. 29, the 15th Little League Baseball World Series Challenger Exhibition Game will be played at Volunteer Stadium, featuring teams from State College, Pa., and Houston, Texas. Teams will also play at the Junior Softball World Series in Kirkland, Wash., on Thursday, Aug. 6, at 10:45 a.m. This year, for the first time, Little League International is supporting the participating leagues with a $15,000 grant to help offset the costs for the teams to participate in the Exhibition Game.
The Cripple Creek Golf & Country Club is giving youngsters a chance to hone their skills this summer, offering some new opportunities with their Junior Golf Program.
“Our goal is to promote the game of golf to kids,” said Cripple Creek pro Matt Keller. “We want the kids to learn the game through self-discovery.”
“We created the program and opened it to the public, thinking it would be a great opportunity for young kids to learn about golf,” added Junior Golf Chairman Michael Loftus. “Golf is lifelong. No matter the age, you can enjoy.”
For a $150 one-time fee, participants will get access to the practice range and putting green at the course every day after 2 p.m. From Sunday through Thursday after 3 p.m., they’ll also be able to Play unlimited open rounds of golf on the course. And every Tuesday through Aug. 11, members of the program will be able to compete in four- and nine-hole tournaments against other members.
Last July, Lower Sussex Little League had never won a state championship for softball. Less than a year later, they’ve won three — and they’re in the running for a fourth.
Right now the Pyle Center is lively with action from local softball All-Stars, but soon it will be lively with international ones, as well.
Both the Big League and Senior League World Series will return to Roxana on Sunday, Aug. 2, and span through Sunday, Aug. 8, drawing some of the top Little League talent from around the world.
Two-time World Series champion ASOFEM Little League will make their ninth consecutive appearance in Roxana in Senior League action, with teams from British Columbia (Canada) and the Philippines going against them, and Prague (Czech Republic) marking the first Czech team to play in a softball World Series.
I was all set to write about the great white shark that tried to eat Mick Fanning while he was surfing in the J-Bay Open this week, but then something more exciting happened.
He’s surfed some of the heaviest waves in the world at Pipeline. Paddled out with the great whites at Jeffrey’s Bay. And even sucker-punched Jason Segel on set of the movie “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.”
But before his second trip to Delaware, pro-surfer Kalani Robb had only been skimboarding once.
“That was something new for me,” said Robb of the spontaneous skim session with local groms at the state line beach on Tuesday, July 21. “There was enough waves this morning that we just skimmed.”
Robb was in town with Catch Surf stars including newcomer Tyler Stanaland, getting shown around town by fellow Catch Surf team riders and Sussex County’s very own Brian Stoehr and Bill Baxter and Catch Surf East Coast sales manager Ryan Savage.
It took almost three and a half decades to get there. But it only took six and a half innings to get back.
After the Lower Sussex Little League All-Stars clinched the program’s first state title for softball at the Major League level in 2014, they’ve done it again at the Junior League level less than a year later — rolling District I (Camden Wyoming) 20-6 on Saturday night to earn a trip back to the regional tournament in Connecticut.
But despite the convincing final, Lower Sussex only led by one run after three innings.
“It was just butterflies,” said head coach Mike Patille of the close start. “Once that settled down, once we started driving the ball, that went away — we played our game.”
“After people got on base, we came together — we just started hitting the ball,” added third-baseman Kaylah Briddell. “We never give up. We always have faith and confidence in our team.”
Briddell led off the first inning with an infield single, getting to second on an obstruction call and rounding third the next at-bat, on an RBI-single from pitcher Nicole Patille, to make it 1-0.
The precedent had been set the year before. And the night before, too.
After the Lower Sussex Little League Junior All-Stars had won the program’s first state championship as Major Leaguers in 2014, they won the program’s second state championship as Junior Leaguers on Saturday night.
So, when this year’s Major Leaguers had a chance to win a state title of their own on Sunday night, they delivered — holding on for a 6-2 win against District I (Middletown-Odessa-Townsend) to earn a trip to Bristol, Conn., for the regional tournament.
“We get to do what they did last year,” said catcher Savannah O’Shields, whose sister Abby O’Shields pitches for the Junior League team and played for the Major League team last year. “I really wanted to get there, because my sister got there — so I had to get there [too].”
After a sixth-inning triple from right-fielder Ursula Barrientos and ensuing RBI from Morgan McGee led to a 7-5 comeback win against MOT on Friday, July 17, the girls found themselves in a back-and-forth battle again on Sunday, July, 19.