A few more notes from the notebook of a high school sports correspondent.
Last Friday was another first in my young career: I covered a boy-girl doubleheader. The assignment was fairly simple: watch two games, write one story and submit two boxscores. It was the host team’s winter homecoming, so there was an extra-long gap between games. Seemed like I would have no issues cranking everything out.
The only problem was the boys coach I needed to interview spent roughly 20 minutes with his team in the locker room after the game. By the time I asked my questions and got back to my seat, there were only five minutes left until the girls tip-off. Thus, I spent halftime of the girls game doing the boys stats, which completely through off my routine.
Fortunately, though, neither game was terribly competitive, so it was easy to sum each one up, add coaches’ comments, and get everything in well before deadline.
Last night I headed out again, this time to cover the best player in the county. It was a “special” night for her, as it was A) her final regular season home game and B) she was being recognized for being nominated to the McDonald’s All-American game. She was also approaching the county record for most career points scored, so lots of plot lines going into the game.
Apparently there was some early game – eighth graders? – which pushed the JV game back, which put the varsity tip at 8:10, or 40 minutes later than scheduled. It was a blowout – my team led by 19 at the end of the first quarter and the margin never got closer – the senior had a big game, and everything was coming together nicely for my story.
I interviewed her then waited for her coach. And waited. And waited. Finally, with only 30 minutes to deadline, I gave up and went to do my stats and write my story without comments from him. Which is a shame, because he’s one of my favorite coaches to talk to.
I had high hopes for the story, but after doing stats I had 15 minutes to put it together, and it ended up being rushed and far too brief. Disappointing. The team has won 16 games in a row; their only loss on the season came on a buzzer beating shot back in November. They’re in the same sectional as the school that has won the state championship four years in a row, but that school is in rebuilding mode, so it looks like they might finally make it out of sectionals. Lots of material for a good story but I was too busy making sure I got the basics in and then filed before 10:15.
Although I’ve covered more good games and winners this year than in the past, I still wonder if I’m a curse. The home boys team in Friday night’s doubleheader is talented but mercurial. They have a 6’7” guy who doesn’t seem to understand how to use his height. They have a fantastic sophomore guard who can light it up. They have a fine point and a big wing who can shoot. Yet they’ve only won two games this year. Naturally both of those games were against teams that I’ve been covering. It’s difficult not to ask the losing coaches “How in the hell has that team only won one/two game(s) this year?” but I figure that’s not a wise thing to ask a coach who just lost to a bad team.
My favorite coaching moment of the year came in the JV game last night. It was a tight game, and the home team was getting most of the close calls, but I didn’t notice any interaction between the visiting coach and the referees. In the final minute, the players were milling about during a dead ball and the visiting coach stomps his foot loudly and screams “TIME OUT!” Apparently he had asked for one but the refs had not heard him. I figured it was just the emotion of the game.
A few moments later the same thing happened. He quietly called for a time out, the refs didn’t hear, and he stomps his foot and screams at them again. This time you could hear the crowd gasp a bit and one of the refs came over and had a long conversation with him. It was weird. It’s not like he was screaming at the refs after every call, or even yelling at his players during play. But I guess if a ref standing 50 feet away in a loud gym doesn’t hear him gently call for a time out he gets pissed.
One thing that never gets old is watching kids bounce their heads to the side anytime “What Is Love” gets played. Some of these kids were 4-5 years old when <em>A Night at the Roxbury</em> came out, yet they know exactly what to do.