Sunday, December 02, 2007

Thanks, Coach Hoskins!

There aren't that many football coaches around anymore with the tough presence you expect from a football coach. Looks tough, speaks tough, and his presence embodies what the game is all about.

One of the last of those old-school football coaches has retired. Dave Hoskins will no longer head up the juggernaut that is Elk Grove Thundering Herd football. His team for the second year in a row lost in the City Championship game, but not without a great fight which ended on a badly thrown ball that became a turnover. We can all gripe about little things that should have and could have been over the past couple years that might have earned Hoskins another Section Title, yet how many other high schools can show the consistency over the past ten years in their football program?

Coach has helped many a kid become a young man. He always competed in every game. His teams came to play and if they lost it wasn't by much.

When Coach was upset over the direction the booster club was heading (the Board members wanting their kids to start, etc.) he told them to shove it and he was going to teach drivers' ed. Out of the history department came Bob Lee and that one year Elk Grove became an ordinary program, with extraordinary talent. They lost and lost badly to Laguna Creek, Florin, Nevada Union and a couple others, missing the playoffs. Lee spent the game in the booth, not on the sidelines and it was a mess.

The administration (and frankly alot of us Thundering Herd fans) said this wasn't acceptable and back came Hoskins. I remember the next year Elk Grove went back to the playoffs led by Tony Kays, whose now roaming the NFL (I think with the Bengals), after setting records at UC-Davis. Then, the next season the team started 0-4, playing Del Oro, Jesuit, Nevada Union. Then the Herd won seven in a row. The playoffs started in Vacaville against an undefeated team in the Bulldogs. We scored with about three seconds to go in the game and instead of kicking the extra point to tie, Hoskins said go for two. Joe Allen scored on a sweep to the left and the Herd won, 32-31. It was one of the gutzi-ish calls I've ever seen, but that was Hoskins.

More than that I personally appreciated how my son grew as a man under Hoskins. My son flourished as a football player under him. And there's hundreds of other young men that will always remember Coach fondly.

I know there's going to be a younger guy coming on to replace Hoskins. Likely, he's bring in one of these spread, finesse offenses that is so popular today, but I just hope the toughness and the mystisque that is Thundering Herd football, brought to Elk Grove doesn't leave with Dave Hoskins.

Thanks, Coach.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Had Tickets, But Couldn't Get In!

My friend, Lon Pray, and I had tickets to the 49er/Raider pre-season game. We dropped off my son, Joel, at Menlo College and left the campus, just 15 miles south of Candlestick Park and headed north on Hwy. 101, one hour prior to kickoff. Two and a half hours later, we finally exited at Candlestick (Monster) Park. That's how heavy the traffic was going north. It was halftime.

We thought that maybe we could get in the parking lot and catch the second half, at least.


It took us another hour to just get to a parking lot entrance that was open. That's how bad the traffic was from cars trying to get in. It was near the end of the third quarter. We figured by time we'd get out of the car, walk into the stadium and find our seats, it would be the fourth quarter. We headed home.

Joe Starkey, the radio play-by-play announcer, remarked how many empty seats there were. Joe, they were with us, trying to find a parking place, gave up and went home.

I'm never going back to Candlestick Park unless I can take a helicopter in.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Take Care of Your Parents

Mom and Dad likely took care of you when you were little. They taught you right from wrong and hopefully nutured you into a fine person. Us parents need to remember that's our biggest responsibility when the kids are still at home.

But, when Mom and Dad are getting older, it's time for all children to give back. I just came back from a week helping my parents, both 77 years old, doing odd jobs around the house. I'm finding they rely on us kids to help them do stuff that physically they can't do for themselves any more.

I've now spent one week each of the past two summers by myself going to my parents' home in Lousiana and help them. They really appreciate it. I leave my wife and children at home to go help my parents and can focus more on what they need to do and not be concerned with entertaining my kids or anything else while I'm there.

We accomplished much!

Just remember when your parents reach retirement age there's going to be that opportunity for you to give back to your parents. Don't pass up this beautiful chance. It's really gratifying to see their storerooms cleaned up, garages put in order, shrubs trimmed, etc.

I can tell you they really appreciate your, you spend time with the people who brought you into the world and you may not have very many more years to spend with them.

Don't squander this kind of opportunity.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Bridge Collapse In Minneapolis

I used to drive over that bridge quite often when I lived in the Twin Cities. If you ever have the opportunity to be in downtown Minneapolis, walk to the Riverfront and look at each bridge that crosses the Mississippi River. You'll note every bridge is a little different from the others. The Hennepin Ave. bridge is a suspension bridge. The University Avenue bridge I remember as a stone arch bridge. The I-35W bridge that collapsed was a steel girder bridge in an arch array.

I wouldn't be that surprised if MnDOT, the state's highway department, comes out with some kind of report that the design was faulty. If not that, I will imagine the issue is that the materials used couldn't withstand the extreme temperatures over time. In Minnesota you can have days on end with temps as low as 15-30 below zero, then you can hit 90-95 in the summer.

I saw a written report out of the Star-Tribune tonight that quoted some one who escaped the collapse at the last moment. That person said she saw a MnDOT worker jack hammering the road surface. Don't laugh, but maybe one wrong "jack" and a chain reaction may have started which led to this tragedy.

Watch this story over the next few days.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Worst Week in Sports

The week of 7/23/07 may have been one of the worst, if not the worst weeks in the history of sports.

1. Barry Bonds is trying to break Hank Aaron's home run record, but there's more people talking about how to separate his career marks from everyone else because of a drug he may or may not have taken. How about the talent it takes to hit major league pitches? Have you gone to a batting cage and tried to hit a ball coming at you at 90 mph?

2. One of my favorite baseball organizations, the Oakland A's, are really playing lousy. Where's Eric Chavez been? They are pitching around Nick Swisher, Jack Cust is now swinging the bat like he's still playing for the Sacramento RiverCats. And is Kotsay on the team? Bobby Crosby was last seen with a boo-boo on his right hand. Too bad, because I still think the A's have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball.

3. Michael Vick, perhaps one of the most talented athletes in the NFL, if not in all of sports, may not play again because he liked to see dogs fight ... or let folks use property he owned to do it. Seems to me he made a really bad decision or two ...or three.

4. This NBA ref, Donahy, may have used his influence to sway the betting lines enough so that he and his buddies made a few thousand bucks at their favorite sports bookies' place. This one of all I list is the most disappointing and perhaps the most deadly of them all. I've told friends for years I mildly watch basketball because officials are too influential on the games. A ref can decide to blow his whistle on every possession or keep it in his pocket. Those guys dictate how a game is played (or not played).

I don't see how the integrity of the NBA can survive this one. And I wouldn't want to be an official having to make a call at a key time in a game. Can you imagine the heat the guy with the whistle would have to endure if the call changes the complexion of a game or comes at the key time in a big game? Folks would wonder if he had money on the game, too.

Football and baseball officials have some influence on games, but not to the degree as the guy officiating basketball. (I will say, though, I wonder about a few ghost calls in last year's City Championship football game between Elk Grove and Vacaville). I predict the NBA will have a huge turnover in its officials and likely its commissioner within one year.