Some random thoughts after perusing The A-T Sports Tab

When it showed up today, I knew I had several hours of reading ahead of me. I’m speaking of the Winter Sports publication from The Advertiser-Tribune. I like several different sports, but basketball season may be my favorite time of the year.

After looking over the pages, several thoughts entered my head. The main story was about the fortunes of Hopewell Loudon’s girls basketball team. It is expected to have a great season and I think it will. Here then are my thoughts from reading the tab:

MAKAYLA ELMORE IS THE REAL DEAL! I watched her play last season and came away suitably impressed. The 6-3 junior was a first-team All Ohio selection last year. One might think that a girl this tall would be able to tower over the opposition even if she had no other skills.

The first part of the last sentence is indeed possible, but if you think she is just tall, you better think again. This girl has some serious skills and likely will play on the perimeter when she gets to college. That won’t be a problem for this kid. She is only going to get better and she WILL play big time college basketball in a couple of years.

KAIA WOODS DEFINES QUICKNESS! I watched Woods play for Columbian last season and I came away thinking she might be the quickest basketball player I had seen. EVER!

Watching her fly up and down the court was breathtaking. My only concern was whether she would break the nose of an unsuspecting teammate with one of her passes. She is going to help the Chieftains in many ways. She can score, pass and defend.

These two may get much of the ink, but there are other kids on this team who can play. The Lady Chieftains will be a joy to watch.

TEMPER YOUR EXPECTATIONS! It seems that many have already crowned these girls state champions. It could happen. Then again, it might not. They are moving up to Division III this year. That may be a good thing, but it may not. It would be a shame if they do not win the state crown and people think it a disappointing season.

For Hopewell-Loudon players, coaches and fans: the end result is important, but the joy of getting there may be even more so. You must enjoy the ride!

I would suggest people just go to games and appreciate what they are watching. Anything beyond that is a bonus.

BOB GASE IS OLD! I don’t mean that as a bad thing, but I coached against Bob some 37 years ago. That was the last time I coached and here’s Bob still going strong. Even though I can’t imagine the time and energy it takes to coach these days, I know Bob is a good coach and a good guy. It’s great to see that he still has the passion required for the job.

Here’s wishing Coach Gase and the Chieftains the best on their upcoming season.

VETERAN ASSISTANT COACHES! It was interesting to see some of the assistant coaches who popped up in the team pictures. I’ve always thought it takes a special person to be an assistant coach. They put in the same hours as the head man, but get little of the notoriety. Of course, young people just getting started in the profession have to be an assistant first, but did you see some of the grizzled guys still involved in the sport?

Guys my age like Rick DeMoss (Carey), Paul Gnepper (Upper Sandusky) and Steve Lucius (New Riegel) are serving as varsity assistants. All had very productive careers as head coaches and are still lending their expertise to their respective teams.

Perhaps they like not having the pressure of running a program. It is fewer hours, less commitments and yet they still get to be around young people. It is amazing to me to see them still at it after all these years.

OLD FORT HAS A BOWLING TEAM! I was talking to a friend of mine from Old Fort the other day and he mentioned that he had this exchange with his wife: “did you know Old Fort has a bowling team?”

Well, it’s true and there may well be one person primarily responsible for this. Hayden Tarris has been bowling for several years. He has spent the last two years recruiting classmates for the possibility of forming a bowling team once they got into high school.

He induced enough interest, got the backing of school officials and presto — Old Fort has a bowling team.

They had their first match recently and though they lost to Fremont St. Joseph High School, the program has officially launched. In Hayden’s first high school bowling game he shot a 258! I’ve written about him before, and in case you weren’t aware of it — he’s really good.

Here’s hoping Old Fort kids enjoy the sport as bowling is indeed a great activity. It is a sport that you will be able to continue to play until you are very old. The wins and losses will come and go, but the fun you will have will be the ultimate prize.

I would like to wish good luck to all area athletes as the winter sports season progresses. I can remember (vaguely) when I was a high school athlete.Enjoy this great time of your life.

It will pass all too quickly.

Al Stephenson is a sports columnist for The Advertiser-Tribune.

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