The sudden passing of former St. Francis University basketball player Jeff Churchill came as a shock to yours truly.
Anticipating my 30th season as the radio voice of the Red Flash, there are many players and moments that stand out in my mind.
Early in his freshman year, Jeff took a hard defensive charge in a game at Bucknell. He hit the floor with a resounding crash. Jeff immediately jumped up and raced down court ready to play. I recall commenting on the air, ''You Red Flash fans will love this kid!!''
Jeff Churchill - hard worker, tough competitor, great young man. He is on my all-time Red Flash traveling squad.
Altoona is perfect NABF host
Our baseball team from the Bronx spent four memorable days last week in Altoona participating in the NABF Altoona Senior Regional Tournament.
Although our bats were cold, and we lost to both home teams, ReMax and Martin Oil, we were completely won over by Altoona's hospitality in hosting the tournament.
Tom Stout and Michele Sanders of the George B. Kelley Amateur Baseball Federation organized a flawless tournament. The fields at Vets and Mansion were in top condition, and so were the umpires.
Our team, the Outsiders, doesn't often get to see other parts of the country and so Mr. Stout took it upon himself to open our eyes to Altoona's railroad heritage.
We were guests at the impressive Railroaders Memorial Museum, courtesy of Cyndi Hershey, and we drove up to Horseshoe Curve.
Jack Morgan invited the boys to the Altoona Association of Model Railroaders Clubhouse, and we marveled at the detailed ingenuity of the layouts.
We learned that railroads - and baseball - are passions in Altoona, and both have a proud history and continuing presence in your city by the mountains.
All who helped make the Altoona NABF tournament successful deserve credit so that even the team that came in last place felt like winners.
Outsiders Baseball Association, Inc.
Tourney directors deserve credit
For nearly 30 years I've umpired summer baseball in the Cove/Altoona areas, and for nearly as many years teenagers from Martinsburg, Roaring Spring and Williamsburg always looked forward to participating in the annual Seitz 14-15-year old baseball tourney in Altoona this time of year - until now.
Due to lack of interest, teams or whatever the case may be, my understanding is only a handful of communities were willing to enter the double-elimination classic this year.
But under the direction of Doug Easly and Steve Schon of Martinsburg (both coaches in the Cove summer rec programs), in less than 10 days they managed to put together a small, but exciting and entertaining six-team tourney last weekend featuring teams from Altoona, Somerset, the Cove, and the Nanty Glo/Ebensburg areas.
What made this baseball tournament a classic was the total professional effort these gentlemen and other tireless workers did in just a few days.
The ballfield at Central High School was given a complete makeover, the scoreboard was resurrected for summer use, vendors were on hand to sell hot food, 50-50 raffles and special prizes were awarded each game, a PA system was put in place, and even licensed PIAA umps were used for all 11 games.
Credit not only Easly and Schon for their Herculean efforts on making this tournament a success, but also like to thank all the fans from Altoona, the Cove, the Ebensburg and Somerset areas who traveled great distances to be involved in this first event in Martinsburg - and to help make it a weekend success.
PSU needs to be more selective
I have loved Penn State football since I have been able to put blue and white together and understand the game of football.
However, over the past few years it appears, at least on the surface, coach Joe Paterno has been recruiting from the prisons. Doesn't he or his staff investigate the kids and families to which he offers scholarships?
Mirror stories on criminal charges against Penn State football players makes one want to skip the sports pages some days. As Mirror editor Neil Rudel recently pointed out, the newspaper is nice to take to the porch swing in the morning with a good cup of coffee.
However, some mornings I am tempted to ignore the sports pages when there is one more story on a PSU football misfit.
It was refreshing to read this past week that Paterno finally tossed two players, defensive tackles Phil Taylor and Chris Baker. All I can say is, it is about time!
In the future, perhaps JoePa could be a little more selective in who he brings to State College. What looks good on the outside isn't always good on the inside.
It's like a bad egg that sits in the sun too long. Unless it smells, it is sometimes difficult to tell it is bad until the egg is cracked open. Football cracks a lot of eggs, but the bad ones stink. Those you quickly toss.
William Snyder Jr.
Change entire leadership
It seems the holier-than-thou attitude, including mine, of Penn State football fans who were quick to criticize the poor behavior of players from schools, such as Pitt, Miami, Oklahoma and others, has come back to haunt our arrogance.
I found Joe Paterno's answers to the ESPN interview disappointing as they appeared defensive and elusive.
Then again, his post-game interviews since the late 1990s have had the same timbre.
Not only do I think this should be Paterno's final year, but change the leadership in the entire athletic department and coaching staff. The practice of hiring Penn State grads, even though many are highly qualified people, to coach and administer has become incestuous.
The men's basketball program is non-existent, and the football program is no longer competitive with the Ohio States and Michigans.
Paterno could possibly have another decade of the energy required to sustain himself on the sidelines of Beaver Stadium. I don't think his program has that kind of sustainability.