Saturday, February 09, 2008

MIKE MCMURRAN First Capitol News Sports Editor


The Academy of the Sacred Heart Sixth Grade Girls’ Basketball team poses with their individual, as well as team trophy, for capturing the Silver Division of the 2008 Assumption 6th Grade Girls Silver Tournament. Players are (front row): Sarah Heise, Brianne Bannon, Maggie McMurran and Elizabeth Francis. (back row): Paige Theby, Kayla Simon, Allison Swearingon, Isabella Tambone and Grace Schwendemann.

All is well on the home front. As I write this the “Super Tuesday” primary is in full swing. I must admit I was torn between Obama and Clinton until I talked to my dear old friend Bobby Barton. I had sent Bob an email sharing with him how I was close to jumping on the Obama bandwagon – his reply solidified my decision.

“You forget Mike, I’m a Republican. And as a Republican I’m hoping like hell Hillary wins. Ain’t nothing like a Clinton running for public office that brings the crazy Christians, in force, I might add, out to vote.” I thought about what he said, and using backdoor philosophy decided the best way to insure a Democrat in the White House come January was to vote for the Senator from Illinois. And so I did.

In reference to my most recent column, I must make a couple of adjustments. Andrew Clark, who plays baseball for the Lookouts and soccer for ASH, also suits up for Chesterfield in the football season. I really hate to overlook anyone, and in the situation that I do, fell free to contact me.

Another gentleman approached me and suggested that whenever he saw Joe McMurran playing baseball, 90% of the time he was catching. If you remember, I had his favorite position and players as third base and Scott Rolen. Well, such was true until was promoted to the Bantam League, when rather than have coaches pitch, players pitch as well as players catch. Catchers, by the way, can also throw out potential base stealers, something Joe has gotten pretty good at. His team finished poorly, probably in dead last, but they will return.

Which kind of brings me to my next piece of critical mail: “Let’s see here, you’ve coached high school football, and quit. Coached kindergarten soccer, and quit. (Referencing Dee’s soccer team). You’ve now come to the conclusion it’s time to quit coaching your son’s baseball team. Let’s face it, you’re a quitter just like everybody else with the Fish Wrap News.”

Someone is paying attention to what I write, but not close enough attention. You see, I gave up coaching high school football to be Daniels head football coach. Dee plays for the O’Fallon Junior Renegades – he just completed his first year. My plans are to stick with the boys up to the point they enter high school. With my years of high school football coaching experience that should be no problem.

I did coach Joe’s baseball team when they were in kindergarten thru third grade, but I’ve found out they boys have outgrown what I can teach them. It’s not as if I am just leaving them out there by themselves. It seems Mr. Steve Heying has been coaching his older son Cody in baseball for some eight years or so. As luck would have it, Cody is now a freshman at Mary Institute Country Day School – so Steve has a giant void in his life. Steve’s youngest son, Andrew plays on the Titans, and Steve asked if he could step up and help out. “Steve my dear buddy, not only can you step up, you can step right over me and take over the team; I’ll be happy to be your assistant.” And I am.

It’s really not fair to factor Dee’s soccer team into the equation. I volunteered to coach that team until someone, anyone would step up and take my place. I knew my knowledge of the sport was very limited, so much so I advised everyone on the team to send their sons to Tony Glavin for some real instruction. Most did, and Greg Padavan finally stepped up and took the boys over. So now I am really only Dee’s head football coach and Joe’s assistant baseball coach.

Oh yeah, except for Maggie’s basketball team. Maggie and her classmates are all in sixth grade. They started playing competitive basketball in the fourth grade. I make all of her games, but frankly would have rather been at the dentist. I was sitting next to Mark Francis and shared with him how down right terrible they were. No offense, no defense, no skills – really, no concept of the game. Being Mr. Positive, he suggested, if you can do better, you coach the girls. I think he was calling me out.

Well, as things usually work out, the old head coach was accepted to medical school, and after all of a quarter of a second debating, decided medical school outweighed coaching the Bad News Bears of Girls’ CYA Basketball. Dr. Richard Heise was the heir apparent to the title, but the idea scared him to death. “I’ve watched basketball on TV but that’s about it,” was all he could muster up to say. If someone didn’t step up, the girls would either be broken up, or worse yet, not have a team to play for at all. I did it for two reasons: (a) Dr. Richard Heise is a very, very nice person, and (b) Maggie Kurtz McMurran is my favrite daughter.

Contrary to what the St. Charles CYA Web Site says, we finish 7-3 in the regular season – quite an improvement from 2-8 the previous year. Most importantly, the girls began having fun, they began to play basketball in their free time and they began to improve.

This year I really thought we had a chance to win our division. But I forgot how the St. Charles County CYA does their factoring – with a wind chime. Even though on their very own web site we were listed 5-5, we were move up to the next division. We’re holding our own. We’ve one 1 game and lost 3, by a total of 8 points. Every game is exciting, and frankly, we are in every game to the very end.
Then “The Miracle” happened. We entered ourselves in the 2008 Assumption 6th Grade Girls Silver Division Tournament last month – AND WON THE DAMN THING! Nine girls, one with a sprained ankle, an assistant coach who watches basketball on TV. and a 53 year-old head coach who “quits everything you start,” came together for four games, and took home the Championship Trophy.

Congratulations to the girls. Please see the accompanying picture.