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Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

This morning the family and I ventured south to Seward Park for the kids’ third Seafair Kids Triathlon.

It was a memorable morning, but not necessarily for the best reasons.

Things got off on the wrong foot.  No sooner had we parked at Seward Park than I realized I had forgotten the kids’ bike helmets.  I raced back to Laurelhurst, found the helmets and raced back.  I got there just in the knick of time and I didn’t have the presence of mind to inspect the kids’ transition areas.

Big problem.

The kids left the water just fine.  Finn was in roughly 7th place and Reese was a few spots behind him.  But things went downhill from there — for Reese.  While Finn had a fairly slow transition, he recovered to finish 10th overall out of 99 and no. 1 among eight- and under competitors.

For Reese it was quite another story.  First she couldn’t get her shoes on properly — my mistake for not opening them wide enough to slip in.  Worse, though, was her bike.  It turns out when they laid it down they twisted the front wheel, and no one — including me — noticed.  That caused the brakes to lock, which made the bike barely rideable.   So unrideable was it that Reese went from middle of the pack after the transition (slow because of the shoes) to dead last in the entire field — by about fifteen minutes.  I was very proud of her for doing the 1/2 run in tears — quite a showing of resolve.

Lesson learned: failing to prepare is preparing to fail.  I should have packed the kids’ gear yesterday.  Had I have done so, I would likely not have forgotten the helmets, and had I not forgotten the helmets, I would have had time to properly set up their transition areas.  Instead I played golf.

Reese’s resulting disaster is on my hands.  I put golf over the kids’ preparation.

It will not happen again.

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A follow-up to Saturday’s entry in re: Finn’s Zeeks Pizza Panthers team winning Northeast Seattle Little League’s Farm Division championship.  The theme of my victory speech yesterday was simple: we won the championship — and never lost a game in two years — because of the players’ willingness to work just that much harder than the next guy.  I did not realize how true that was until today.

To wit:  All year long our achilles heal was base running.  Too many instances of running off the base on fly balls resulted in double plays.  By no means were base running problems unique to us, but it troubled me a great deal.

The extra work Finn and his buddy Carter Ellis did the night before the championship game contributed mightily toward the Panthers’ championship.

On the evening before the game, during Laurelhurst Elementary’s ice cream social, I called a special practice.  Finn and his teammates Mats Bashey and Carter Ellis were the only ones who showed up.  We hit a little — I had to throw ’em a bone — but 90% of our focus was on fly ball base running (run off the base just far enough to get back if it’s caught, etc.)   That practice built on our pre-game practice before our previous playoff win.  We later supplemented it with another ten minutes before the championship game.

In the 5th inning of Saturday’s championship game, Carter was on 2nd base.  Wyatt hit a fly ball and third base coach Rick Frederking mistakenly told him to get flyin’.  Carter led off generously, but didn’t do what his coach said and, consequently, got back to second base as soon as the ball was caught.  As Carter was not doubled up, the inning continued with two outs.  Jack Frederking followed that up with a single that turned into a home run thanks to three errors.  Elias Lara followed that up with the same thing.  A 12-6 lead and thanks to the five-run limit rule, we were champions

Had Carter been doubled up, the Bombers would have batted in the sixth inning down 9-6.  I have no idea what would have happened, but I do know the Bombers really wanted to win.

None of this donned on me until Monday night, when Rick Frederking opined that Carter “bailed (him) out” on the aforementioned play.  I pieced it all together and asked Carter’s dad to ask Carter what gave him the presence of mind to run the bases as he did.  His answer: “I remembered what we had worked on the night before.”

Wow.

By no means was Carter the only one who went the extra yard during the season.  Many guys did it throughout this season and last.  In Saturday’s game, however, it is literally the case that his willingness to go the extra yard — during the ice cream social, no less — played a huge part in our victory.  It may not have won us the game, but it certainly prevented the Bombers from getting another chance to win, and knowing how good that team is, that was almost as good.

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For the last four years I’ve coached a Zeeks Pizza baseball team.  We started in tee ball, first as the Pirates then the Penguins.  In 2016 we graduated to “Farm” (coach pitch), first as the Pilots and this year as the Panthers.

Through all this time we never lost a game.  Sure, we didn’t keep score in tee ball, but in the two seasons we did, we never lost a game.

Pretty good.

We put all that on the line yesterday in the Farm Division final against the Metier Bombers.  Christian Shewey’s Bombers came as the no. 2 seed and, next to us, by far the best team in the league.

We got the job done.

Barely.

Things started out well enough.  We had a 4-0 lead after one inning and a 4-1 lead through two.  But the Bombers rallied for five runs in the third to take a 6-4 lead.  I thought we were in big trouble and I think most of the Panthers did, too.

But we rallied big time.  After the game was interrupted for a “4th inning stretch” featuring Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” we rallied for five in the fourth to take a 9-6 lead.   Thanks to some base running blunders on the Bombers’ part we shut them down in the top of the fifth, which meant that three runs — and a 12-6 lead — would seal the deal.  (A five-run limit per inning would make a six-run lead insurmountable in the last inning.)

Three runs is exactly what we got.

What made the victory so sweet was that everyone, from the top of the order to the bottom, contributed.  As for Finn, he went 1-for-3 batting at the top of the order.  He scored a run with a nice slide at home plate and made two nice plays at third base, one on a towering pop up and another with a bullet throw to throw the runner out at first.

All in all, a fantastic finish to an incredible run of little league baseball.

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Last night wrapped up Finn’s first year in the Seattle Celtic soccer program.

And a solid year it was.

Finn was probably the team’s second-leading goal scorer and he was asked back to play next season on the Celtic Gold team.  Not a promotion, but not a demotion either.

Last night was a fitting finish.  A 2-1 game in what was undoubtedly the best — and closest — game of the season.

 

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To this point in his life, Finn has enjoyed — and been quite good at — team sports.  Soccer, baseball, basketball — if he hasn’t been the best player on his teams he’s at least been in the top two or three.  His aggressive style of play, particularly in soccer, has earned him fans and accolades among the parent class.  I’ve left more than a few games thinking I’d have paid to watch him play.

That all changed with this season’s Laurelhurst Legends basketball team.

A member of the team, but not really.

The team did fine.  Save for one mid-season loss, we won every game handily.  But for Finn it was a season lost, if not worse.  It started well enough: despite his lack of height, Finn was still among the better players on his squad.  In one early season game he poured in 14 points to lead the team.

But things changed somewhere along the way.  His teammates, almost all of whom are classmates in a different 2nd grade homeroom that Finn, froze him out of the offense.  If he didn’t get the ball via steal or rebound, he didn’t get it at all.  In the third- and second-to-last games of the season (both of which I refereed), his teammates passed him the ball exactly twice (that’s 1x/game).  In last night’s season finale, he was on the receiving end of exactly three passes (two more were intercepted by a teammate).   That’s in stark contrast to the 20-30 touches for the next most insignificant player and a world away from the 80-90 touches for the team’s big dogs.  His spirit was understandably sapped.  Shoulders shrugged, head down, this just wasn’t the same kid who’d started the season.  He tried to get open for a while, but in the end he’d noticeably given up.  It was as if he’d said “I’m not going to get the ball, anyway.  I may as well save my energy.”

Memories fade with time, but as I write this I suspect Finn may have played his last organized basketball game.  On our way to the car he lamented “I don’t ever want to play another basketball game again.”

I can’t say I blame him.

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Finn’s first season in select soccer has been a mixed bag.  His team started off slowly but has gotten it together of late.  He’s played well but hasn’t been the dominant force he was at times in LVR.

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Until this weekend.

Finn’s Seattle Celtic Gold team played two games at Tukwila’s Starfire soccer facility.  They won both — 9-2 on Saturday, 10-1 on Sunday.  Finn scored seven of his teams nineteen goals — three on Saturday, four on Sunday.

Not seven in one game, to be sure, but not bad, either.

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Today the kids and I headed north to Jackson Park Golf Course for the eighth annual Jackson Juniors tournament.  With us was the Gouk family and my buddy Joel Aro, who caddied for Finn while I looped for Reese.

It went quite well.

Reese’s score of 49 on the nine-hole executive course was good enough to win the girls 9-and-under division.  Emerson Gouk’s 51 was good for second place.

Seven-year old Finn also had a 49 in the boys 9-and-under division.  Two kids beat him, however, with 47’s.  Still, third place in his first-ever tournament — not bad.

Suffice it to say, we all eagerly look forward to our next time out.

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