We here in central Pennsylvania are truly blessed to have the Altoona Curve and the beautiful Blair County Ballpark in our backyard. My thanks, as an ardent lover of sports in general, go out to Chuck Greenberg, Todd Parnell and all others that have contributed to a great venture.
A true family atmosphere truly is apparent.
But hold everything! There does happen to be one negative fly in the ointment, so to speak. I have addressed this matter in years past. However, it seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
On April 23, along with some friends, I was in attendance at a School Kids Day game, and things were great. On June 17, the evening former President Jimmy Carter paid a visit, the negative culprit was present in full blast.
From the first pitch to the final out, the entire ballpark reeked with the putrid, foul smelling, eye irritating, grease smoke put out from the deep fryers and grills of the refreshment stands.
There were 15 men in our church group together seated in section 213. One member of our group is on a permanent portable oxygen unit. When the game ended we did not, out of respect for our brother, stay to watch the fireworks. The grease smoke was getting to him.
In this day and age of modern technology, why can nothing be done to eliminate this negative problem?
On Friday, July 18, I plan to be at the ballpark with another church group. Do we all need to bring a self-contained breathing apparatus to enjoy the game? Go Curve!
Ruling on LL forfeits unfair
Last week, the Sheetz baseball team from the Logan Township Youth Baseball Association was forced by league officials to forfeit five games. The reason behind the forfeitures - a 7-year-old player who played on a Major League team for Logan Township and a Minor League team for East End.
According to league bylaws, no player may play in two leagues.
The entire team roster and team players were approved prior to start of the 2008 season, and Sheetz coaches assumed that all of their players were eligible. The 7-year-old in question was either a substitution late in the game to allow all team members time on the field or he started the game and was taken out at the end of the first inning.
Parents and team coaches approached league officials last Sunday evening to ask the league to reconsider their ruling against the Sheetz team since this ruling affects more then just the 7-year-old player in question and the team manager. The forfeits caused the Sheetz team to drop from second place to fifth place.
I'm wondering if the forfeits are aimed at the Sheetz manager for bringing new players into the league faster than any other manager.
I could understand if the player in question was a 13-year-old who continuously pounded baseballs over the fence, but it appears the disciplinary actions being taken are punishment against one man for having a good team and being able to recruit good players to this league from all across the area.
The last time I checked, youth baseball was all about the kids not the coaches and the disagreements between them.
Keep sports in perspective
Youth sports are in full gear. With that in mind, it might be a good idea to take stock in what is really important. Quality time spent with friends and family ought to be appreciated as one of the great things we can all share.
With gas and food prices rising at record levels, many of the adults on the sidelines are facing stresses far beyond the field of play. The seemingly absurd rise in fuel costs will likely mean that many of us will travel a bit less and possibly have a little less exciting time this summer.
These pressures are likely to raise the stress levels of many parents and coaches. However, such tensions ought not spread onto the field of play. When involved in a game, whether as a fan, a coach, a parent, or a referee, we should all hold our personal frustrations in check and push hard to be good sports. Doing so will ensure that more folks enjoy the competition and that summer offers the right kind of learning experiences and positive memories for our kids.
A case for Keech
I would like to take this opportunity to recognize a man who definitely deserves recognition. I have heard enough criticism and feel obliged to share with you the true story of coach Tim Keech.
My life with coach Keech began when I was a junior at Bellwood-Antis High School. I made a deal with a friend to go out for the basketball team in order for him to play football our senior year. I had not played basketball for five years so if there was anyone on the team who deserved constructive criticism, it was me.
However, coach never went about it in the wrong way. He was always there to help me out and correct me when I was wrong to make me a better person and player.
That year we were expected to have one of the best teams in Bellwood-Antis history, but we ran into a speed bump early on in the season. A fight broke out in the locker room between coaches and players, which left some members of the team in tears and others debating whether to play that season. We knew that this very instance would either make us or break us. The following weeks proved the positive relationship between the players and coach Keech.
Our team grew to be one of the most united groups that I have ever been a part of. It was soon after that we were met with another obstacle. One of our key players almost lost his life when his appendix had ruptured. Once again, the team pulled together and coach Keech took us to visit our teammate at the hospital to let him know that he would still be with us on the court every step of the way.
That year, the 2003 Bellwood-Antis Blue Devils won the District 6 championship in one of the best comeback games of all time. The locker room was filled with tears of joy and the team presented coach Keech with a very emotional gift to thank him for leading us in one of the most memorable times of our lives. I have heard parents complain that their son does not get enough playing time; well I spent mostly all of that championship season watching from the bench, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.
I made the best of that season by motivating the team and playing my heart out at practice to make my teammates better and coach Keech never failed to recognize that. Others judge him by his crazy sideline antics, but coach Keech's actions only prove his love for the players and the game. How can you judge someone when you are only a spectator at a game that lasts 32 minutes?
I hope this article shows you a man who pulled a team together and led them to a championship season, a man who's love for the game is only surpassed by the love for the kids that he coaches, a man who has left an everlasting impression on my life. Every one of us left that high school not only remembering Tim Keech as our basketball coach, but most importantly as our friend.
I will admit that I am embarrassed of the actions taken toward coach Keech and would like to assure the Bellwood-Antis School District, parents, and players that they may replace his position, but will never replace the memories and positive impact that he has had on our lives.