Two of my children, Willie and Hallie Morse, competed for State College Area High School and against Altoona Area High School, and I simply wanted to let folks in District 6 area know how many of us here in State College mourn the passing of Erin Dodson.
As you may or may not know, my son Willie was struck by lightning on Aug. 5, 2005, right after his career at State College, and our near-death experience was covered by Jim Lane in the Mirror.
During Willie's extremely difficult recovery, he was able to resume playing at Colgate University where the Patriot League honored his comeback in 2009. His comeback was a team effort of many, including scores of local coaches, athletes, parents and fans from all over the tri-county area.
Even the parents of Justin Henry, assistant basketball coach and former player from Lewistown, called to encourage us. Amazingly, Justin had died from a lightning strike one year earlier.
Kraig Hetz, John Swogger, Don Appleman and countless others overwhelmed us with letters and calls of encouragement and support. Willie, presently coaching college kids in Maryland, and my daughter, Hallie, who is still playing Division I volleyball in North Carolina, were deeply saddened by the news of Erin's passing.
Bernard and Michelle Dodson need to know that the loss of their precious daughter reminds us of one of the real values of our local rivalries. Through the fiercest of competitions, I found that in times of personal tragedy there is significantly more than the blood, sweat and tears shed on the fields or gyms.
There is a compassion grounded in hearts that breed true champions. In recent years, I had more than a few conversations when I saw Erin at basketball games or volleyball matches. Each time, I would let her know that we were pulling for her, and she would turn it around and end up inspiring me.
That spirit, which permeated her entire being, will be sorely missed in all of District 6. To her mom and dad as well as to her sisters Cassandra and Stephanie and to her grandparents and entire family please know:
I very humbly state that I think I speak for an awful lot of parents, athletes, fans and people who were touched by Erin. We will really miss her. We mourn the loss of a daughter, sister, fiance, competitor, student-athlete and friend.
Though we can do little to assuage your pain, please know that you are all in our thoughts and prayers. Somehow, I believe that in years to come, every time a center jump or a serve happens I will be reminded of all that is good in those things we call games.
In that, Erin's spirit will surely live on.
Players could solve their 'slavery'
Rashard Mendenhall of the Steelers has the perfect right to his opinion on the death of bin Laden. Freedom of speech is part of our way of life here in America.
Whether Steeler fans embrace him or not will depend on his performance on the field. That is the way our society works.
The other statement made by Mendenhall as well as a few other professional athletes, comparing their sports to slavery, is easily resolvable.
Simply refuse to take part in the draft and sign a free- agent contract a year at a time.
That way the player has the right to leave his employer at the end of each year, and he can go elsewhere if he chooses. Current players could sign only one-year contracts in the future with the right to go elsewhere when they choose.
Or, the players can unionize, negotiate a wage scale and working conditions like real union members do.
Individual contracts could be eliminated all together, and the players could leave their employer any time they choose and look for work elsewhere.
In essence, if we give these athletes the same rights as the working class and gave employers the same rights as other employers, sports slavery could be eliminated.
Mendenhall shows his intelligence
Pittsburgh Steeler running back Rashard Mendenhall can't keep his mouth shut concerning his take on the killing of bin Laden and his connection with 9/11.
As he put it, bin Laden was shot in cold blood by our outstanding Navy SEALS and never had a chance to defend himself.
Then before this, he and another NFL tailback linked the NFL lockout to slavery. Both these guys are idiots for what they said.
They are ignorant and quite evident are my feelings that these guys didn't graduate from the University of Illinois and the University of Oklahoma, respectively. If they did, then somebody was taking course exams for them.
Our Hollywood celebs and some of our professional sports players are the last people to be talking about subjects they know nothing about.
The best advice is to talk about subjects in your own professions that you know something about.
Feel excitement of Miracle League
The opening day of Blair County's Miracle League Baseball this past Saturday went great.
The weather, though breezy and cool, held off the rain for the morning games. You could feel the excitement as the announcer called for the teams to line up.
The national anthem was sung by Patrick Stalter, Skylar Dell, Sophia McMillan, Katie Burke, Rebekah Price, Forrest Chathams, Miracle League helpers and announcer Dennis Smith.
The first game of opening day was played by the Curve and Pirates teams, followed by the Orioles and Phillies, A's and Yankees and the Red Sox and Dodgers. Miracle League games are played every Saturday starting at 10 a.m.
The 2011 Miracle League schedule can be seen at pamiracleleague.com/schedule.html and at the Miracle League of Blair County on Maryland Avenue in Altoona.
Another soon-to-be-successful year for Blair County's Miracle League Baseball has begun.