Red Right 88

Cleveland sports fan and sports writer

Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

quit my job decided to drive west

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I love high school sports as much as you do

Maybe more.

I don’t toot my horn very much, but if pressed, I would say the thing that makes me proudest about the West Life sports pages is the excitement of the Westlake girls cross country team.

Weird, maybe, but only when taken out of context. I learned a long time ago that it doesn't matter how much I do. Putting together this 12-page tab has not been an easy task, but I know the first call will be about that one name that is misspelled on page eight or from the parent upset that their kid's name was left off. The good thing is that in the past, a phone call of each nature turned into two of our most loyal readers. But back to the point. Sometimes it is easy to cover the Bay boys soccer team. The Rockets thrilled us all last fall as they took the season down to the final possible second. That team graced our pages so much, it had to drive their rivals a little nuts. Some might think it is harder to cover the Westlake girls cross country team. Last season, they did not finish near the front very often, and their times did not compare very well to some of the other local teams. Yet it was the parent of a Bay soccer player who ripped me a new one for a lack of a coverage (compared to the Bay girls team.) Out of Westlake, it was all gushing praise for the weekly review of their team.

I can't take any credit for my coverage of most teams. I admit that I never saw the Lady Demons run last year, just like I never watched a single Bulldog wrestle for Olmsted Falls. Yet Falls' living legend of a coach, Bill McGrain, gave me an award for covering his team (and fed me, too.) What I am proud of is that West Life gives every team the same opportunity to be covered. Each week, every varsity coach is given space to share what happened that week. Some coaches love this. Westlake's girls cross coach Travis Haselswerdt, no matter what finish his team would have, found something postive to share about his kids each week. And so I just copied, pasted and occasionally edited whatever he wrote into something to share with you. My goal this year is to convince every varsity coach to do the same thing.

The View from Row Z high school sports column is designed to keep us in touch with each other. This fall, West Life sports pages will be the home base for nine high schools and 72 varsity teams. We hope you will check with us each and every week. I am extremely grateful for the number of coaches who have bought into the concept. It has allowed me to create close relationships and often allows me access to feature stories I could never have known about otherwise.

And that doesn't mean that I will rely on the local coaches to do my work for me. Our photographer, Larry Bennet, and I attend more high school games than anyone else in the Westshore. We are your hometown newspaper. No one captures high school sports better than Larry. To confirm this, just check out his Web site,, every week. It has a lot more photos than I could ever print, and you can buy your favorites.

Last year in this space, I mentioned all the great seniors that graduated, and I was hopeful that many more would fill their shoes and provide more exciting memories. It certainly happened, and I am sure even more will step up over the next 10 months.

Time certainly flies. I started as a stringer for this newspaper in the first days of January 2003. My freshmen from that first season are now freshmen in college. So here is to Stacie Dorian, Rinnie Mayer, Eileen Bringman, Dan Schaefer, Marcia Borgman, Matt Kurz, Bruce Sundberg, Christina Thomas, Krista Hanson, Kurt Thomas, Zach Haudenschild, David Armstrong, Matt Fahrenkopf, Mary Gannon, Evan Helgesen, Kurt Gee, B.J. Baran, Kayleigh Zajaros, Amy O'Hara, Caity O'Hara, Austin Chelko, Tom Ludwig, Claire Tramba, Nate Toennies, Paris Pugliese, Jeff Doyle, Sarah Kazanas, Derek Voytovich, Ken Sanger, Lauren Evans, Richard Semrau, Scott Blackburn, Sam Morrison, Chelsea Cahill, Molly Corrigan, Bethany Moore, Hannah Smith, Elaina Sub, Kirsten Gambrell, Katelynn Riley, Josh Kassil, Molly Bartkiewicz, Lindsay Fattlar, David Solarz, Jacqui DiLillo, Dan Schade, Jessie McGrath, Charles Pelini, Katie Gallagher, Zach McGrain, Don Belford, Alex Brown, Amanda Paydock, George Bartulica, T.J. Murphy, Katie Berry, Laura Derov, Mandi Bäck, Maggie Lusina, Zach Feador, Steve Price, Cody Thomas, Jennifer Sherman and Shannon Eccleston.

And here’s to the seniors of this year that will create memories that will last for a lifetime, regardless of the final score of their final game. The West Life sports section is meant to be your scrapbook. So go fill it.