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PIAA sends wrong message

March 8, 2008
The Altoona Mirror
This letter is concerning the first round PIAA basketball playoff game involving the Bishop Guilfoyle boys team.

I am from the Spring Cove School District, and the outcome of the game was really none of my concern. What is my concern is that we are sending a very wrong message to student-athletes with the way that this game was handled — with BG being awarded a forfeit by the PIAA.

The other school was penalized for not being willing to put 20 or so student-athletes, along with coaches, cheerleaders and equipment managers onto a bus and drive through four to eight inches of snow.

I was in the Ebensburg area that Friday (March 1), and approximately noon time it started snowing there. By 5 p.m. in Altoona, there were already approximately three inches of snow, and the roads were treacherous.

That means that the other school, near Natrona Heights, would have seen the snow start around 9 a.m. The game was scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in Ebensburg. We know Ebensburg is a different world in snow.

Also to be taken into consideration is that the school itself was already dealing with a loss of a student due to a car accident a couple of months ago. These games and conditions have to be a judged on a game-by-game basis.

Are you telling me that this one game with three hours notice in advance could not be re-scheduled for the following day? Were there no gyms available or referees available between here and Pittsburgh that Saturday?

Regardless of who the two teams were, we tell one team who wants to err on the side of caution in a snowstorm they will have to forfeit, while we tell the other team they win, and don’t have to leave the comfort of their homes in the same storm.

Three months of hard work by student-athletes is thrown away by the PIAA because of the inconvenience of a few extra phone calls on a Friday night or Saturday morning. When students do something wrong, adults, officials or whoever are the first to criticize. When they try to do something right, we penalize them.

Is this the correct message?

Mark Weaver


Nevins ranks among greats

I was glad to see Joey Kitt’s shot in the 1995 District 6 championship game included in Buck Frank’s series on the 20 biggest shots in Blair County basketball history over the last 50 years.

I like that former Central coach Reggie Nevins was mentioned because I feel strongly about him as a role model and mentor to all the players he’s coached throughout the years.

Coach Nevins was the local version of Bobby Knight — discipline, preparation, knowledge of the game and teaching ability. The only difference in coach Nevins’ and coach Knight’s credentials was Reggie’s lack of anger. Don’t get me wrong: The necktie and towels flew from time to time, but it was always for a good reason.

I only hope my two young sons grow up with a teacher/coach to guide them through their formative years like I and many others who attended Central had in Reggie Nevins.

Darrin Johnson

Inverness, Fla.

(Editor’s note: The writer played basketball for Nevins at Central High School in 1992-93).

Soccer would hurt B-A football

This is written in response to the letter from Shawn Shaulis in last Sunday’s Mailbag regarding soccer at Bellwood-Antis.

The first and most important issue to understand is that B-A is a Class A school. We graduate approximately 100 to 110 kids a year. We are a small community that strongly supports the school and its student activities.

Approximately 10,000 people residing in Bellwood Borough and Antis Township are generally the limited number of folks who show this support. Therefore we have a limited amount of activities that can be associated with the school.

I have a daughter who was in gymnastics at the Tyrone YMCA but had to quit once the Y discontinued its services. I would like to see a gymnastics team at Bellwood and possibly fencing, water polo and horseback riding.

Oh, that is right we do not have the facilities or the monies to be able to offer all of these worthy sports to the students. I know, respect, and commend Jeff Bartlett (he is a fine man and an involved parent) although his desire to bring a European sport to a small town in central Pennsylvania USA, I don’t grasp. Soccer to me is un-American.

I also disagree with Shaulis in regards to a soccer team at the school not affecting the football program. I have several acquaintances from other towns in our area, and they have all related to me that after a few years, soccer will have a huge negative effect on football. They stated that less boys will play football, and a lot of the smaller, faster athletes will play soccer.

As a lifelong resident of Bellwood and an ex-football player and now a youth football coach, this concerns me. A sport very few desire in our community will be a detriment to one of the things that help to define people from Bellwood, that obviously is our successful high school football team. I welcome new people into our community but they should not try to force their activities on the old-school mindset of the good people in Bellwood. We were here first.

I respectfully ask that the B-A school board, athletic director and superintendent carefully consider the pros and cons of letting a soccer program into our school.

Shannon McCaulley


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