Words of wisdom from the jock
A few years ago, I wrote a hockey column that ticked off a lot of people.
It was a big surprise that I am not univerally beloved and that all do not share my opinion.
Anyway, members of the hockey community came in to voice their displeasure in a meeting with my editor and me. Lots of things were said which can’t be reprinted, but one person said something to me that has stuck with me always.
“You aren’t qualified to write about hockey because you haven’t played it.”
Earning a point in my column, I replied tactfully that most baseball beat writers wouldn’t have a chance at a 90 mph fastball and that very few who cover the Birds of Prey World Cup races could get down Golden Eagle without an ambulance.
I did not say that I don’t believe this theory for a minute. I haven’t played football, but I know if you don’t have a good offensive line, you can have Joe Montana and Jim Brown in the backfield, and it won’t matter.
The highlight of my baseball career was a walk-off home run in fourth-grade P.E., but I know that good pitching wins pennants and the World Series. (I hope San Francisco Giants general manager Brian Sabean is reading this.)
No, I’m not an athlete, but as a writer from watching and doing my homework ” talking to coaches, parents and athletes ” it is quite achievable to be knowledgeable in sports without having played them.
That having been said, I ran/twaddled cross country in high school and I play golf whenever I’m not attempting to achieve journalistic excellence for the Vail Daily, so all the wisdom I am about to impart is true gold from a jock himself.
It’s definitely a new era in running in Eagle County. Rob Parish and Kelli Witter, who helped build Battle Mountain into a powerhouse, are in Italy. By the way, congrats you two, on becoming engaged.
The Huskies’ big three of ” one more time ” Jonny Stevens, John O’Neill and Tony Crisofulli ” are off to college. So is Eagle Valley’s Jamie Fahrmeyer, who ran with the Huskies the last four years.
This is a salient point because we welcome Eagle Valley cross country as the country’s newest sports team. And this is a really good time for this to happen.
I don’t see Battle Mountain cross country dissolving into nothing-ness with graduation losses and Eagle Valley forming a new team. I don’t see Eagle Valley being rag-tag expansion team of sorts.
Remember that the county’s cross country program in Eagle-Vail was really deep. There weren’t just the 14 kids on the boys and girls varsity. There were 75 kids, admittedly mostly from Battle Mountain.
The returnees from the boys state-title team are a perfect example. Conor Wallace was the sixth runner on the squad at the state meet last year. He was still beating the No. 3 runners of the teams in Colorado Springs come late October. Andrew Hill, who will now be wearing Devils’ black and red, was the No. 7 runner on last year’s team and he’s going to be a leader in Gypsum.
Then there are all the runners who were stuck behind Battle Mountain’s aces. The so-called JV runners would have been varsity runners for a lot of teams around the state. That’s how deep the combined program was.
Battle Mountain will be fine, and I think Eagle Valley will surprise. Remember that we’ve had a long chain of kids commuting up I-70, starting with our own Ben Rogers, aka Sparky, in 2002. Having a team there will help bring runners out.
The one thing you must know about cross country, especially in Gypsum where it’s new, is that these are some of the toughest athletes you will ever find. I know it because when I ran/twaddled ” I was 5-foot-3 and 185 pounds in high school; not exactly the ideal runner’s build ” I was with these people everyday.
(I did beat the state champ who was also on our team. He cut part of the course at a road meet accidentally and was disqualified. I, however, was running slowly enough to stay on course, and finished, thus vanquishing Matt Metzger. HA!)
Come out and watch both teams on Oct. 11 at the Battle Mountain Invitational on Oct. 11 at Sylvan Lake State Park. You’ll be amazed.
I love covering these guys. I’ve played a lot of the courses they’ve played. I’ve played with a bunch of the Battle Mountain kids because I always have a season pass at Eagle-Vail.
These guys play a different game than I, and most weekend hacks, do. (By the way, I feel confident enough in my game to call myself a weekend hack because my handicap has plummeted to a 27. The Huskies’ Cameron Brown still has to give me 26 strokes, though.)
I remember covering last year’s tournament at Eagle-Vail, and talking to the players about their round. Eagle Valley’s Jamison Bair shot an even-par 36 on the front and then carded a 41 on the back for a 77, winning the tournament.
All of us mortals who have played Eagle-Vail know that 77 is superb. A 36 on the front is outstanding. Most of us would give a kidney for a 41 on the back, and given the difficulty of Eagle-Vail’s finish, that’s a good score for a competitive golfer.
“I was just kind of bleeding on the back,” Bair told me.
I’m sorry I’m going to be missing this year’s stops at Eagle-Vail on Wednesday and Cotton Ranch Thursday. This is fun to watch with the talent these two teams have. The Devils are loaded. The varsity five, or black squad, is being pushed by golfers like Austin Fahrenholtz.
Battle Mountain has two studs in Brown ” I still can get you with my handicap, Cameron ” and Dustin Martin. If the Huskies get a consistent third scorer in there, they could be a force at regionals along with the Devils.
As for next week’s tournaments, Eagle-Vail will be decided on the ninth and the closing stretch of 14-18. Cotton Ranch? He who survives the mesa wins.
Take it from a jock who’s played the game.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or email@example.com.