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hysl-logo2I’ll be there, as will both of my kids!

REMINDER!  Breaker Tryouts Tomorrow! BREAKERS TRYOUTS: 2013/2014 COMPETITIVE /DEVELOPMENTAL TEAM TRYOUTS April 20 (Sat) AND April 28 (Sun) ~ ROTARY FIELD, Eureka (Zoe Barnum) … Girls U10 9:30 am -11 am Boys U10 11 am – 12:30 pm Girls U12 & U14 12:30 pm -2 pm Boys U12 & U14 2 pm – 3:30 pm Please arrive at least 30 minutes prior in order for parent/guardian to complete registration paperwork. No fees collected until first team meeting. Players must bring cleats, shin guards (socks over) and water bottle. For more information, go to
For the Eel River Soccer League, the tryouts are also tomorrow, with U-10 and U-12 at 10 a.m. and U-14 at 1:00 at Newburg Park.
For Mad River
MRU Evaluations:
U12 & U14: Saturday, May 4th, HSU Field
House. Times TBA. ** All players MUST be pre-registered to
attend tryouts **

U-10 Evaluations Sunday, May
19th, Pacific Union School, Back Field. Times TBA. ** All
players MUST be pre-registered to attend evaluations

Nation Magazine has a special “sports issue” within which various lefty writers give tribute to their favorite sports heroes – most of them from childhood when we are most influenced by them.  Likewise, my favorite sports hero played during my childhood, and I’ll discuss him in a minute.

If you were to ask me about my second favorite hero I would be hard-pressed for an answer.  Obviously we look for character as well as skill, and perhaps we look to deeds off the playing field/court.  Obviously figures which broke the racial barriers qualify such as Joe Louis, Jackie Robinson, Arthur Ashe, and…. well almost, Tiger Woods.  We look to Billie Jean King and Shirley Muldowney for examples breaking sexual molds.  Or figures like Greg Louganis who won a host of Gold Medals including a performance in which he continued to compete after splitting his head open on the diving platform, and yet was deemed lacking in character and heroism required for the Wheaties recognition because of rumors, later confirmed, of his homosexuality.  We have war heroes like Pat Tillman, made even more famous by military controversy rendering him popular even among anti-war activists.

I always liked Rams quarterback Pat Hayden who succeeded despite being short (for an NFL quarterback), and while becoming a Rhodes Scholar.

There are heroes whose careers suffered at least setbacks due to brave political stands such as Muhammed Ali, Tommie Smith, John Carlos, and even to a lesser degree John McEnroe who turned down a match against Bjorn Borg in South Africa to honor the boycott of the time – the winner would have taken home one million, the loser $750,000 (Borg had accepted the invitation).  By the way, if you’re interested, here is a list of sports figures with their campaign donations.  Seems like tennis players (except former teen star Andrea Jaeger who is now a nun and gave to the GOP) and basketball players tend to be liberal, while golf players, car racers, and football coaches (except Bear Bryant, who was a liberal?) tend to be conservative.  And there are a few on the list who can’t seem to make up their mind on what their politics are, or completely ignore ideology if they like a particular pol.  The link for former Bengals quarterback Boomer Essiason is broken, which makes me curious.  He was quite a vocal supporter of the NFL strikers despite a number of quarterbacks (who were of course the best paid) crossing the picket line prompting him to call Joe Montana a “scab.”  Of interest in the political evolution department, tennis star Pam Shriver appears to have abandoned her conservative roots – donating to Republicans in her youth, but Democrats later in life, including a donation to Maxine Waters!

Anyway, enough of that.  My favorite sports hero is…. Willie McCovey.  He exemplified the rags-to-riches phenomena coming from very humble roots.  I was only really into baseball from the second grade to about the fifth, when he was traded from the Giants to the Padres.  I went to several games a year at Candlestick, and always looked forward to the number 44 visible from our usual seats behind first base.  He was a clutch hitter in so many instances.   In his last years Willie Mays batted third before McCovey’s “cleanup,” and if Mays made it to second base McCovey was most often walked.

This is a pure sports pic.  I mean, other than being a nice guy off the field, his heroism for me is purely on the field and laced with nostalgia.  He was there for me at a formative time of childhood.  I began to lose interest as a fan when he was traded.  I still watched games, but once Bonds, Sr., Tito Fuentes, Juan Marichal, Chris Speier, and McCovey had moved on to other teams or retirement, I stopped going to the green pages every morning to check the stats and standings.  McCovery actually came back to the Giants briefl, but as I moved into teen years, I got into other things and didn’t pay as much attention.  The Giants always choked anyway.

So who was/is your favorite sports hero and why?

The video covers three of the game’s four goals (not including the final penalty shot).  Lots of commentary about how the US played “better” throughout the game, but that’s what they also said of Japan’s previous two games against Germany and Sweden.  Could it be that maybe Japan had a winning game plan in all three games?   Nah.  They’re just the world champions right now.  Let’s diminish it, like this fellow posting on Youtube.

@spyroshadji Your team sucks. You won off pure luck. I’d be surprised if you could name 3 things your country is better than US at. And we ARE better at soccer if you go by our history, even though its the least popular sport here.

Doesn’t that one make you feel proud to be American?

In any case, the US team has shown nothing but class in post-game interviews.

Unfortunately, this video doesn’t have Sawa’s dramatic last minute goal, but it’s still a fun watch.  Wambach, man!

Addendum:  The previous clips were nixed by FIFA copyright assertion.  This one apparently meets Fair Use requirements.

When the men were playing the World Cup last year, a plethora of commentary came out of the weirder elements of the right wing ranting not just because they find the game boring (not enough scoring/instant gratification), but because they find it boring assume that American kids find it boring.  Ergo, the fact that more American kids participate in soccer than any other organized sport must have be a socialist/feminist plot.

Well, add the women’s soccer team to the conspiracy.  The US women played one of the most exciting games I’ve seen in beating Brazil in an extended time goal.  The drama was intense throughout the game with some questionable calls, some odd gamesmanship, and brilliant play from both teams.  The star is Abby Wambach, who was nearly lost to a life threatening disease a few years ago, took a spectacular touch from Megan Rapinoe to head the ball into the goal – all in the last seconds of the game.  It is the latest goal made in World Cup history.

The previous record had been set yesterday when Japan kicked their way to the biggest upset in World Cup history in taking the home team Germany out of the tournament.  It was Japan’s first world cup win against a European team, and the first World Cup German loss since 1999.  They play Sweden in the Semifinals on Wednesday, while the heavily-favored-to-win US plays against France.

Here are some highlights of the US-Brazil game though the final moments aren’t up yet.

Here’s Japan’s late game goal against Germany.

So here’s a question, and maybe I’ve asked this here before.  Why are the US women at the top of the world soccer game, and yet the men’s team lucky in the few occasions when they even qualify for the World Cup?  I know that the best male athletes are drawn to basketball, football, or hockey which make more money.  But we’re a large country with a huge pool of athletes.

My theory – Title IX.  Most other countries have no equivalent.  Since it passed in 1972, women’s collegiate sports has increased 450 percent.  And that’s a socialist/feminist plot!

Addendum:  Here’s the literally last minute Wambach goal.

Carlos Santana takes on Atlanta’s baseball fans to their faces, literally, and gets booed.

Quite the moment.

There are too many boxing movies, including the most recent addition receiving the Academy Award nominations.  I’m sure my list will evolve as people bring up the movies I’m forgetting.  No limitations other than the boxing prohibition – can be based in real events or fictional.  The criteria for greatness of a sports movie to me is the art in the presentation.  Most sports movies are essentially made for TV movies which pretty much lay out the same plot, and unless there are some great redeeming qualities, I’m pretty much ignoring the movies which end in the ninth inning with two outs and two strikes…..

1.  Eight Men Out – One of John Sayles’ better movies about the Chicago “Blacksox” throwing of the 1919 World Series, examining the social factors of the incident.  It takes some poetic license, including the popular, but entirely fictional, “say it ain’t so Joe” moment.

2.  Friday Night Lights – from which the terrific series arose, about a small Texas town for whom high school football is a huge deal.

3.  Chariots of Fire – About two British runners for the 1924 Olympics and the contrasts between them (and their faiths).  The Vangelis soundtrack is deservedly iconic.

4.  North Dallas Forty – Loosely based on the actual Dallas Cowboys team, and an indictment of the use of drugs to exploit players.  A little preachy, but very well done.

5.  The Natural – Maybe a little too sappy and inspirational, but isn’t that what sports movies are for?  Okay, okay, it was two outs and two strikes in the last inning.  But sometimes cliches can be artfully delivered.

6.  A League of their Own – Another 9th inning  two outs and two strikes movie and lots of poetic license.  But it was worth it just to watch Gena Davis make the catch doing splits.  A nice piece of almost lost history too.

7.  Brian’s Song – I got something in my eye when I saw this one.  No really!

8.  The Longest Yard – great film, but I’m self-conscious of the fact that I keep picking Baseball and Football movies.

9.  Bad News Bears – A great ending and incredible performances from kids in an era where much acting wasn’t expected from kids.  But this really wasn’t a kids’ movie.  Some very serious themes of child abuse, alcoholism, delinquency wrapped into a film that is probably appropriate for teens.  Lots of swearing too.

10.  Hoosiers – One of Gene Hackman’s best performances.

Is pool a sport?  If so I’d put The Hustler as number one – one of the best movies of all time of any genre.  I might even include the far less great but still very good sequel The Color of Money.

Oh, and no, I didn’t forget the metaphor for liberal theme with spiritual undertone movies put out by Dreamworks and the like.  If I have to sit through another movie like Field of Dreams, A River Runs Through It, The golf one with the angel appearing as an African-American caddy, and the one about the race horse who died in Willits (as a metaphor for the New Deal) I’ll probably gag.

I just recently figured out how to get this video out of an email to me and uploaded with Youtube.  Last fall the two Sohum U-10 teams squared off in a very offensive battle.  The Sohum Ninjas were undefeated at the time (and I believe went undefeated for the season), but my son’s team, the White Lightening, was hungry.  After a see-saw battle the Ninjas scored about 30 seconds before the end to take an 8-7 lead.  I think the Ninjas got a little complacent.  What can happen in a few seconds, right?  Well, Asher later said “I really wanted that goal.”  Playing center forward, he had the kick-off and sped through the Ninjas’ defenders to pound in the tying goal (final score – 8 to 8, our team’s highest score of the season).  Thanks to Andrea Jensen’s sister for catching it on video.

It happened on Asher’s birthday, which he celebrates jointly with his friend and teammate Desi who was born a day earlier.  Each of them bagged three goals that game, and then the whole team and other friends celebrated their birthdays, the win, and the Giant’s clinching against the Phillies in a sleepover later that night.

Okay, you can stop rolling your eyes.  I’m done bragging about my kids for the day.

So this morning we had finished up my daughter’s soccer game in Redway, and my son was playing up in Fortuna.  Our game was the last U-6 game, so we had to put away the goals and cones.  I had a little time to kill so I wandered over to the the U-10 girls game and watched some great playing.  I got into conversations with some of the parents, as U-10 boys teams took the field.  I guess I hung around too long, because for the lack of a ref the coaches approached me, and so I got roped into officiating my third game of the season.

It’s not that I’m particularly good at it.  I’m just willing to do it, which seems to be the paramount qualification lately.

So I asked for some help from parents on the sidelines, and apologized ahead of time because I have a tendency to miss the off-sides calls.  A few of the parents responded that they knew I’d do fine, and one of the mothers added with a big smile, “and if you don’t, you’ll be reading all about it on your blog!”

Anyway, we can use a volunteer ref or two on Saturday mornings.  The league might even pay you, though I don’t know what kind of arrangements have to be made.  If you’re interested, contact the Eel River Valley Youth Soccer League.

Soccer is getting huge, and that’s good for kids on a number of levels.  Today’s Eel River Soccer Jamboree at Newburg Park Fortuna was the most enjoyable I’ve had yet.   Huge participation and lots of happy healthy kids in an atmosphere so much better than the Little League experiences of my youth.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have a soccer league where I lived as a kid.  Little League was fun, but unfortunately they let some of the parents drink beer while watching, and it wasn’t fun.  The soccer leagues now will actually throw parents off the field if they’re yelling at the kids or refs.

Almost everybody on my son’s team of last year moved up to the Under 10  (U-10) league and remain together.  Mid-season last year they really caught on to passing, and though we didn’t have a lot of power we won a number of games scoring a goal and winning with ball control – probably like four games won 1-0, kind of like international play!  Well, they haven’t forgotten how to pass over the past year, and now they’ve got more power.  They’ve added a couple of players, but all on the team are on the young side of the two-year split which means they’ll probably play together again next year.  I’m proud to report that my son Asher scored the first goal of the season within a few minutes of starting.  He also assisted in a goal later in the game with a great pass to Noah Kulchin, probably our strongest player, who got by a defender and the goalie to score.  It was a high scoring game by our standards – 5 to 4.  We won.  They won.  I’m on the sidelines now and I get to be the parent who tells the coach how he should do his job, etc.

Unfortunately I missed my son’s goal because I was coaching/reffing my daughter’s U-6 game.  At the end of last year’s season she told me that I had coached Asher’s team for three years and this year should be her turn.  So Jana and I are jointly coaching her team, the Blue Dragons.  She’s a powerhouse, and she scored three goals today – one for her team and two for the opposing team.  We have some bruisers on her team (going to have to work on that) and some of the other team’s 4-year-olds were a little intimidated by the whole thing anyway, and didn’t want to play.  They were a couple of players short, so part way into the game we gave them Lilith (my daughter) and Lucca.  It evened things up a bit, and they had a great time.  It may be the hardest age to coach, but it may also be the most fun.

I heard that the other Sohum U-10 team, who had some hard games last year, but are older and still together now, won their game 7-0.  Asher’s team, being coached by Dan Kulchin, looks forward to the challenge.

My kids’ teams are being sponsored by Redway Liquors and Deli (so funny – reminds me of the Bad New Bears being sponsored by a bail bonds company – but both are legit businesses!) and Humboldt House Inn respectively.   If you want some great sports entertainment, come out to Redway School on any Saturday morning starting in two weeks and through November.

The shot is of my son (on left) in action last year, taken by Clover Willison whose son is in green.

Addendum: Well, I just heard that there may not be a varsity football team at South Fork this year, because so many of the players want to play soccer (and that Arcata is having a similar problem).  Maybe they need to scour the halls for nerdy kids who might not otherwise make a team.  Didn’t they make a movie or two about this?

After Germany crushed Argentina 4-0, an unusually high World League score especially between two superpowers, I expected Germany to roll through to the Cup.  But Spain had something to say about it yesterday, and to top it off to my own satisfaction, a short guy was the hero!


January 2021