Tuesday, December 27, 2011


I can blog from my phone now. Don't know if that means I'll blog more, but it's fun to think I might.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Playoff 2012

Here's the alternate postseason I proposed last year:
  • Eight team playoff
  • Champion of each automatic qualifying conference gets in.
  • Two at large qualifiers determined by BCS Rankings. Teams from Non AQ conferences are guaranteed a spot if they finish in the top 5 of the final BCS rankings.
  • Higher ranked team hosts in their home stadium in the first round
  • Semifinals are at two of the sites of the Fiesta, Rose, Sugar and Orange bowls on a rotating basis. The two bowls not hosting that year have first choice of non-playoff teams.
  • Finals rotate among the 4 BCS bowls.
This year it would look like this:
  • #8 West Virginia (Big East Champ) at #1 LSU (SEC Champ)
  • #5 Wisconsin (Big10 Champ) at #4 Oregon (PAC 10 Champ)
  • #6 Stanford (at large) at #3 Oklahoma St (Big 12 Champ)
  • #7 Clemson (ACC Champ) at #2 Alabama (at large)
Stanford would have been ranked ahead of Wisconsin but the rankings were reversed to avoid a conference rematch in Round 1.

Hypothetical Semifinals:
  • Rose Bowl: #4 Oregon vs #1 LSU in a rematch of the season opener
  • Fiesta Bowl: #3 Oklahoma State vs #2 Alabama
The other BCS Bowls played these games:
  • Sugar Bowl: Arkansas vs Boise St
  • Orange Bowl: Michigan vs Kansas State
The BCS final would be:
  • #1 LSU vs #3 Oklahoma State in the BCS Title game at the Superdome in New Orleans.
  • LSU slipped past Oregon in a much closer game than week 1, 35-30 to get to the game.
  • Oklahoma State played good enough defense to contain Trent Richardson to beat Alabama 27-17.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Threatening Gospel

I stumbled across this great quote earlier in the week. Nelson Mandela used part of it in his inaugural address, though it was originally by Marianne Williams:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

Then, today I read this from Tim Keller's The Reason for God. He was talking to a woman at his church who explained why she was threatened by the Gospel message of Grace:
If I was saved by my good works then there would be a limit to what God could ask of me or put me through. I would be like a taxpayer with "rights"-- I would have done my duty and now I would deserve a certain quality of life. But if I am a sinner saved by sheer grace-- then there's nothing that he cannot ask of me.
We are immensely powerful and God can ask us to do anything. No wonder the Gospel is so frightening-- it's simply much more comfortable be inadequate.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Monkey in Iowa

This post is simply a photo journal of Baron and his tag along adventures in Iowa:

Baron taking ride
The ride
Cactus Jess
Baron and Corn
Lunch in a Greenhouse
Amy and Baron
Baron and Einstein
Guarding the barrel
Baron in Churdan
Don't Jump
Bella and Barn
Baron likes wine
Jessie and Baron
Wrestling Champs
Mr Pork Chop!
Baron makes friends
Jessie, Baron and Friend
Tender Tom's
West Amana
Baron and Friend
The Hyvee guy

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Since I'm such a fan of bulleted lists, here are my thoughts, observations and likes of a week across Iowa on bikes with friends:
  • Who'd guessed that Credit Island in Davenport would be so dramatic? High heat, humidity and bug factor. Then awakened from our tents to police telling us that a severe storm with 60 MPH winds is coming and we could evacuate to a shelter in town. We didn't. We moved under a picnic shelter.
  • Next night, in Glenwood, we were evacuated into the high school to hide from another severe storm.
  • No more storms the rest of the week (I consider that lucky-- I hate riding in rain).
  • Oldest Rider: 80s. Youngest: still in diapers being pulled by mom in a trailer.
  • Number of dogs doing ride: at least 2 that I saw.
  • Never knew how many different bikes there were: recumbents, trikes, tandems, three seaters, trailers being pulled, unicycles, penny farthings, roller blader, skaterboarder, hand trikes, elliptical bike, beach cruisers, mountain bikes, 30 year old bikes, new bikes and everything in between.
  • People would just lean $6,000 bikes against a building or tree without locking them and sleep or go inside. I thought that was cool.
  • I liked the guys who had good music playing from their bikes or trailers.
  • Things you had to find in every town: a place to lean bike, shade, what kind of pie being served and a bathroom for the girls.
  • If you like pie, do RAGBRAI. I count at least 10 different pies I tried.
  • If you like food on a stick, do RAGBRAI. Examples- I had eggs, beef, chicken, ice cream, corn and probably some other stuff-- all on a stick.
  • Elk Horn, Iowa on Day 2 was a fun town. Kimballton too.
  • I liked seeing all the people in their yards watching, waving, spraying you with water.
  • Towns were so creative and welcoming--- pep bands, cheerleaders, dancers, mermaids and such as you entered towns.
  • There were lots of homes that if the owners weren't outside, they left chairs and shade for you to enjoy.
  • Great meal at the Church of Christ in Carroll. Nice service too.
  • One of the best part of my day: coffee at Benji's, sitting on the mats and watching the riders go by. It was a good reflective time.
  • Some people took the ride (and themselves) too seriously. No one in my group though, we would have booted them.
  • Enjoyed passing people who were on their expensive carbon racing bikes.
  • Enjoyed even more some of the WTF looks I got from those same guys as I passed on my steel touring bike with rack, pannier and monkey attached.
  • Did not like not being able to keep up with some of the fast pacelines.
  • Liked sharing the paceline with the two girls from the Hawks Triathlon Club. Took all I had to stay with them.
  • Liked that Steve told the boys to raise the price on their 50 cent Gatorade.
  • Did not like the number of times I saw the spelling "Gaterade".
  • Twister Hill was a fun challenge-- I also liked hitting 43 MPH on the downhill.
  • Free Chocolate Milk!
  • The best Busch Lite ever.
  • Wine-arita!
  • Bloody Mary at 9:00 AM.
  • The kid selling water in camp in Carroll is going to be a good businessman.
  • Sleeping in air conditioning on the hottest night (Altoona). Meeting Steve was cool too.
  • Leo, our tour guide on the Boone train was the highlight of the train ride.
  • Kate is a great tour guide.
  • Amy always finds a spot to camp.
  • I could always recognize Jessie's biking cadence.
  • We almost taught Kate to ride standing.
  • Another great part of my day: getting my face dirty eating watermelon.
  • Ice Cream was always fabulous, even the half melted one I bought from the cross country team in West Amana.
  • I miss peeing in corn fields.
  • I am over heat rash.
  • I enjoyed practicing my slow riding and track stands as I tried to maneuver through towns.
  • I hope to never see Loin Cloth man again.
  • Iowa is much dewier than North Carolina.
  • Iowa grows more hogs than North Carolina.
  • High Fives and free shirt coming into Boone was nice.
  • The closest I've ever felt to an Olympic champion was the faux arch, painted field on the road and bleachers filled with people yelling for you as you finished in Coralville.
  • The guys who wrenched on broken bikes all week were saints to put up with some of the ungrateful riders.
  • Iowa Highway patrol did a wonderful job controlling traffic in the heat. And they played music for us too! Amy liked Lady Gaga.
  • I cannot imagine all the planning that goes into putting this event on. I've hosted wrestling and track meets at the regional level so I know a bit about putting on large events. This scares me.
I'll probably think of more. As you can see, there were few negatives for me. I had a great ride, great friends, no injuries or bike issues so other than the heat rash I can't really complain.

Ride across Iowa

Last week, some friends and I made the dash across Iowa on our bikes as part of RAGBRAI XXXIX. It was challenging, entertaining, enlightening and unforgettable. The riding was easy. Seriously. The heat and sun were challenges and getting to the host towns and trying to find your bag to set up camp were the hardest parts for me.
Team Heang and Chicks!
Go Hawks

Iowa is a great setting for an event like this. The people are so accommodating and every community pulled out the stops to host over 10,000 bikers. Including support crew and vendors, some overnight towns welcomed nearly 20,000 people to their homes, schools, parks and other public places. Our overnight towns ranged in size from 6,000 people to 17,000-- so welcoming all these guests was a logistical terror. But I felt like they did their best. And then there were the towns we passed through during the daily routes. Some counted their population in mere hundreds, yet they did so much within their limited resources to host thousands of hungry, thirsty, tired and sometimes cranky riders. For just one day. Then they went back to being Griswold, population 940.
Bike Ferris Wheel

I would definitely do the ride again. The rest of the team (outside Steve and Baron), I'm not so sure. I think they'd do it again with some stipulations: fully supported (preferably an air conditioned RV), more sunscreen, perhaps 2 way radios and something garnishings our helmets. It was definitely a treat to see so many different walks of people with different styles and levels of equipment and ability all participating in this event.

And the kindness. The people I met were for the most part unequivocally kind-- whether it was a fellow rider, a new friend in camp, a vendor or a local and their water/pie/melon stand. Everyone was genuinely kind and grateful. That's the other thing, the people of the communities were grateful for our presence. Sure, they profited off the riders, but I felt a gratefulness that we were visiting them in their towns. They were small towns with little other than a Main Street, water tower, grain elevator, bar/restaurant, post office and sometimes a school and/or bank but the residents were extremely proud of their homes. That, I can respect.
Supported the wrestlers

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


In two days, I leave for Iowa to do something that has been on my "to do" list for a few years: RAGBRAI. RAGBRAI is an acronym (Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa) and has been described to me as "the best of Americana", "a rolling party" and "the best way to spend a week in the summer."

We'll see if the ride lives up to the hype, but I'm really looking forward to spending the week with with the 'Chicks'.

Actually, I'm gonna shut up. Check out this post, by one of the 'Chicks', that does a much better job of describing what we're getting ourselves into next week (and see an image of the sweet shirts we had made up).

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Journey

It is good to have an end to journey towards,
but it is the journey that matters in the end.

- Ursula Leguin

Floating On Water

Monday, June 20, 2011


On Saturday, I did a 5K. It was a fundraiser for an old friend, Ray Wallen. Ray was injured in a boating accident on Lake Norman a few weeks ago. The accident resulted in one of his legs being amputated. Ray was an all state runner and a member of the wrestling team at West Henderson so it was a bit disheartening to see our old friend in a wheelchair. But, because he's Ray Wallen, he was full of spirit and optimism.

It was a great occasion. Our friend, Ryan, flew in from Colorado to show his support. He won the race in the 18s. I ran a respectable 28:30ish. I was pleased with the effort, though I'm paying for it now.

The best part, however, was the reunion of old friends and teammates. It was great to see all these people come out to support Ray. They were there, young and old, runners, joggers and walkers. Lots of people I have not seen in many years. It was fun and festive. Not the best circumstances to reunite, but it was great to see everyone rallying for a cause. Here's some of our old cross country teammates and Coach Price, who led this group to state titles in 1993 and 1995.

Times-News Article on Ray

Ray Wallen Benefit website

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Pursuit of Happiness

I have long believed that we put too much stock into happiness.

This is from Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback column, who gave this excerpt of this year's Commencement speech at Rutgers University by novelist Toni Morrison:

"I have often wished that Jefferson had not used that phrase 'the pursuit of happiness' as the third right ... I would rather he had written, 'life, liberty and the pursuit of meaningfulness' or 'integrity' or 'truth.' I know that happiness has been the real, if covert, goal of your labors here. I know that it informs your choice of companions, the profession you will enter. But I urge you, please do not settle for happiness. It's not good enough. Personal success devoid of meaningfulness, free of a steady commitment to social justice -- that's more than a barren life; it's a trivial one. It's looking good instead of doing good.''

Happiness just seems so self serving. And fleeting.

Now Joy, on the other hand...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

My Awesome Kids

So I was hanging out with some students the other day when I overheard this conversation:

BM: If you show me that dance, I'll love you forever.
BW: (mockingly) Why does your love always have conditions?
BM: (as meekly and innocently as possible) Because I want things.

It was a conversation in jest between two really great kids, but I loved it. When we fail at love, there is only one reason why: We have made love about us.

In church-speak, we always talk about God's unconditional love. It's a hard thing to wrap our heads and hearts around sometimes, because that is so rarely the way we love.

But, oh if we could...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Don't Kill Me

If I can get through tomorrow and Friday, I will have made it the entire week without driving my car. I commuted on my motorcycle today [Wednesday] and Monday and on my bicycle yesterday. Actually, yesterday I biked to school, rode back into town after school to go to the bank and run home and then rode back to school for a function. In all, nearly 25 miles yesterday-- saved just over a tank of gas in Pompey, my trusty Maxima.

Gas prices have fallen in the last week, but they will go up again. Part of what we need to do is find alternatives to conventional means of transportation: mass transit, carpooling, work from home and, yes, bicycling.

I know, the Ducati is somewhat cheating since it uses gas. But one of the reasons I bought it was to save gas. The 50 or so miles per gallon is so much better than the 23-25 mpg of my car.

That being said, please look out for me. And people like me. We are everywhere. Whether I'm on my motorcycle or bicycle, you are bigger than me and will win any collision.

I realize there are a lot of idiots on motorcycles. I really don't need to be fast. I do like the rush of riding. But I get that at 40 MPH. I don't need to go 90. Look for me and my bike as you approach intersections, change lanes and make turns. Drive with extra caution; it could save a life.

I also know there are a lot of people who say bicycles don't belong on the roads. Fair or not fair, until the laws are changed, cyclists are entitled to the same rights on the roads as cars. I believe that we do a terrible job of educating motorists about the rights of cyclists and how to share the road with them. Here are a few things I'd like to pass along as someone who has done a lot of road riding in a lot of places and a decent amount of commuting here at home:

  • I did not wake up in the morning thinking, "What can I do to inconvenience the world?" Trust me, if I could go faster I would.
  • If I do not ride on the far right of the lane, it is intentional. I am trying to force you to go around me instead of "squeezing" by me in the lane.
  • Another reason I sometimes don't ride on the far right is for my own safety. Riding more in the lane gives me room for error in case there is an obstacle or drain or something. Plus, the road is cleaner, thus safer. If you've ever walked or ridden on a road, you'll realize how much debris there is closer to the edges-- pebbles and rocks, trash, nails and bolts, glass, etc.
  • Many states have passed laws that require motorists to give cyclists 3 feet (or 1 meter) when passing. See article in USA Today. Of course, North Carolina is not one of those states. Though it's not a law (yet), it's still a good rule of thumb to follow.
  • That being said, if you are on a four lane road and the left lane is free, why not get over when you pass? I ride Four Seasons Boulevard to work, one of the main thoroughfares in Hendersonville. Where I have to share with cars, the speed limit is only 35. If it were 55, I would not ride it. Yet in my four trips yesterday, there were at least 8 cars that, with no traffic in the left lane, either "squeezed" by me or barely moved left to pass.
  • I really believe more people would commute if it were safer. Some of the ones I've talked to are just terrified to share the road with these large cars and inconsiderate drivers. And probably rightfully so. To me, it would be a good investment in future paving projects to add bike lanes. They look aesthetically nice, promote safe commuting and minimizes conflicts between cars and cyclists. I noticed that almost most of the roads in rural Colorado had paved shoulders (photo below). While not designated bike lanes, they allowed me to ride out of traffic and a safe place to pull off if you were in a broken down car.

Again, it's spring and the weather is warmer. The people on two wheels are coming out. Please be aware of them. They would really appreciate it.

Example of how North Carolina is behind: I took this photo last summer during my bike tour on US 64 between the NC/TN border and Murphy, NC.
I understand the need for rumble strips. They've saved lives. They've alerted me when I have driven. But why not put them on the white line? What could have been a decent place for a cyclist to ride was made useless. I had to ride in the road with traffic going 55-60 MPH. Fortunately, there was not a ton of traffic, so cars could mostly get over into the left lane. But still-- Oregon, Colorado and even Kansas would never allow this.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Track 2011

Track season is over. We competed yesterday in the 2A State Track meet at NC A&T in Greensboro, NC. It was a hot and sunny day, but full of records being broken. It was a fast day.

North Henderson was not left out of the mix either. We had a great day. The 4x800 of Daphne, Emily, Catie and Elena set a new school record (old record 9:58.74) on their way to a runner-up finish in the first running event of the day. Their goal was the school record-- we thought if we broke that we might have a chance for the State Championship. Our 9:57.78 was a great time, but Carborro smoked a 9:49 to win. It was still a great effort by our ladies and they were thrilled and I was very proud.

They wrote their goal on their palms.

Just so everyone knows what a great race they ran, their best race before last weekend was a 10:43 at the conference meet. They really stepped it up and ran a 10:06 last week at the Regional Meet to finish second and qualify for state. The first place team was a second ahead of us. Yesterday, that team ran almost 9 seconds off last week's pace while these girls gutted out a time almost almost 9 seconds faster. As a coach, I only ask for their best effort. I think I got that yesterday.

Daphne also had a good day individually, placing 6th in the 300 Hurdles. Catie finished 7th in the 800. Daphne had never run under 50 seconds before yesterday. She ran 49.41 in the preliminaries and grabbed the last spot in the finals. In the finals she set another personal record of 48.96 to grab sixth place.

The boys were led by Kaleb's 6th place finish in the 400 and Brandon's 7th place finish in the 300 Hurdles.

And as tradition, the girls always choose a theme and dress up and surprise us at dinner. This year: Old Ladies. It was, needless to say, fun.
Old Ladies?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

... And I Feel Fine

Harold Camping says the world is going to end on Saturday, May 21.

We're running the 2A State Track meet in Greensboro on that day. I hope it at least waits until after 10:00 AM when we run the 4x800 because we really have a great shot to win. Our girls are seeded 2nd, just one second behind the 1st seed...

I'm not too worried, because if the world does end it's not like I have a lot of control over it. However, the tune up on my mountain bike and new tires on my car (both in the last two days) would seem somewhat redundant. But there are things I'll always feel like I missed out on. If the world ends on May 21, I'll never have...
  • Seen the earth from a spaceship
  • gotten to do RAGBRAI.
  • visited Iceland
  • watched the final episode of the Simpsons
  • hit a hole in one
  • shook the hand of the President of the United States (or any world leader)
  • correctly adjusted the rear derailleur on my mountain bike
  • been stranded on a deserted island
  • slept in an igloo
  • read the entire Koran (or the Bible for that matter- I always get bogged in Habakkuk)
  • been skiing
  • gotten around to finishing my teleportation machine
That's a long list and May 21 is just 26 hours away.

Oh well. Go Knights this weekend at NC A&T.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Obama and Osama

It's been a week since the announcement that the United States, after a decade, had finally found Osama bin Laden. You know the story, so I won't rehash it here. I've read many different perspectives on the President's role and none of them have changed my mind that you are always going to believe what you want to believe.

This was making it's way to the feeds of some of my friends on Facebook:
Let's be clear on this: OBAMA did NOT kill Bin Laden. An American soldier, who Obama just a few weeks ago was debating on whether or not to PAY, did. Obama just happened to be the one in office when our soldiers finally found OBL and took him out. This is NOT an Obama victory, but an AMERICAN victory!! REPOST IF YOU AGREE

Sure, everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but there was something that bothered me about these postings.

I'm all for praising our soldiers, but this took stabs at the commander in chief. Some people will say it does not, it just directs praise in the right direction. The tone, however, speaks very differently. It assumes Obama's role was fairly minor (he just happened to be there) and it was the SEALs took the initiative, made the decisions and acted on the intelligence on their own. If so, they are rouge and I don't want them on my side.

But they are not rouge. They are doing exactly what they were trained to do: follow the orders of their superiors to the best of their abilities.

A few notes:
  • The evidence was strong, but not conclusive that Bin Laden was in the compound. The decision to send the SEALs was not a light decision. It involved a lot of wrangling for the President and within his staff.
  • Bombing would have been easier, but then there is the risk of not being able to identify the body.
  • What if it wasn't Osama Bin Laden hiding out there? Or what if it was a failure-- ala Bay of Pigs or Carter's attempt at rescuing the Iranian hostages? This was a huge gamble that if it did not work would have been disastrous to the President's political career. There were many reasons Jimmy Carter was only a one term president and the failure in the Iran Hostage Crisis didn't help.
  • Political opinions aside, could you imagine what this would have been instead of a dead Bin Laden we find some wealthy recluse and his family? Or if our soldiers were ambushed and the images that we're fighting to release or not release are the burned and mutilated bodies of American soldiers like we saw in Somalia, on which the book and movie Black Hawk Down was based? The video of slain Army Rangers being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu still gives me shivers when I think of it.
  • Oh, and there's the entirely different and yet crucial issue of staging a raid in a sovereign nation without their knowledge and approval.
Barack Obama essentially had three choices: sit on the intelligence until it was more conclusive, bomb the compound from high above or send in the SEALs. The toughest decision was the latter. I'm not sure that if I were the guy calling the shots, that would be the choice I make. It was a decision that put American soldiers in harm's way, threatened our already somewhat fragile relationship with Pakistan and had the makings of a political disaster if not successful.

I commend the SEALs for a job well done. No one injured, much less killed. And they'll receive no credit for that's part of their job to be "quiet professionals". They will become anonymous and disappear into society like nothing every happened.

I commend the President for doing what politicians should do: make tough decisions.

Now I challenge him, House and Senate leaders and local and state governments to continue to make tough decisions. We need leaders in this country. We're not always going to work together and agree, but we need people who are willing to put country above politics. Maybe an electorate that could do that would be great too.

Opinions? Leave them in the comments. But please abide by the rule I tell my students: "We don't have to all agree; but we can disagree respectfully." For the most part, they get it.


"I just miss - I miss being anonymous. I miss Saturday morning, rolling out of bed, not shaving, getting into my car with my girls, driving to the supermarket, squeezing the fruit, getting my car washed, taking walks. I can't take a walk."
- Barack Obama

I was explaining to my students a few weeks back why I don't envy Kate Middleton. Her life will never be the same. Besides the obvious of always having security, handlers and staff, her highness will never just be able to take a stroll like the rest of us.

Being in high positions and celebrity does have it's perks. I'm not sure they are enough to make me trade in my anonymity.

Oh, but it was a nice wedding.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Terry Varnadore

I've never been to a military funeral before. The bugle, gun salute, presentation of the flag was a thing for movies. Today, it became reality. Terry Lee Varnadore was laid to rest this afternoon at Mills River United Methodist Church. The helicopter he was piloting crashed in Afghanistan last week cutting short the life a young man, husband and father.

Terry Lee was a freshman wrestler my senior year at West Henderson. I remember him taking lots of beatings. We weren't hazing him- we were a team that ended up winning a state title that year and had several state placers and champs on the roster. He experienced lots of growing pains in our wrestling area. But he always came back for more. And he got better. Before his career was over, he went on to advance to the state tournament twice.

I commented to Coach Smith about the great things he said about Terry Lee in the newspapers. His reply to me was that he was "one of those it was easy to find plenty of good things."

We always show honor to those who serve and have fallen because of their sacrifice. But often time, it's just that: we're honoring their sacrifice. With Terry Lee, we honored his life. You'd be really hard pressed to find someone with a negative comment about him. He met his future wife in Kindergarten. He was respected in school and by all accounts he was highly regarded in the Army. Terry Lee was a true hero.

I sat with Coach Smith, some of his current wrestlers and Mike Connelly, one of the captains on that wrestling team back in 1996. When, during the eulogy, Brent Hall, Terry's best friend and another wrestler, looked over and said that the men they wanted to most please in their lives were their fathers and Coach Smith, I couldn't handle it. I could relate to that sentiment because that man made a difference to me. The same way he made a difference to Terry Lee.

Terry's burial was a thing to behold. Again, I'd never seen it before. American flags everywhere. The steady breeze made sure we saw the Stars and Stripes in all her glory. Amazing Grace on the bagpipe, Taps on the bugle. Firefighters and law enforcement at attention above the crowd. And there was a flyover. Six helicopters from various nearby agencies flew low and slow over the funeral. I was reminded of his career in the military as a chopper pilot but I was also reminded that he is being carried to a great place.

And that our journey is not complete.

God rest your soul.

All Photos: my friend Patrick Sullivan- Times News

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

State Champion!

This past weekend was the NCHSAA State Championships and it was a great weekend for North Henderson. We left the tournament with two state placers, including the 2A State Champion at 103 pounds!

Colby Langford is a sophomore wrestler at North Henderson. The kid was not even a starter at the regional tournament last year as he wrestled behind some kids he could not quite beat out. This year, he had a great opportunity and made the most of it. Colby finished with a record of 52-3. In the state tournament, he had pins in 3 out of 4 matches including the finals match. No only did he collect a fall in the third period of his finals match, he avenged a 5-4 loss from the finals of the regional tournament the previous week.

Colby finishes the season tying the North Henderson school record for wins in a season with 52. The old record was held by our last state champion, Brett Williams (2006). He also set a new record for pins with 36. Best of all, Colby is a great kid with a great attitude. He's a terrific student (even if I had to make him take my honor's class), has a supportive family and has taken ownership of this team as a sophomore. Pretty cool that we get him for two more years.
Colby sported the old Edneyville (the school North replaced) singlet in the finals

I don't want to leave out German Ramirez. German finished 4th in the state. Wish you could have met the kid as freshman. He's one of the greatest success stories that I've had as a teacher and coach. German had just moved to the United States and spoke no English but somehow ended up on the wrestling team. We had to translate everything (luckily, we had some Hispanics since my Spanish is nonexistent).

Now look at German. He speaks great English. He's an excellent and admired young man. He's a terrific and tough wrestler. He's a wonderful teacher. He'd be a great wrestling coach someday...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Regionals

The Regional Wrestling tournament is one of the most exciting and heartbreaking events for me each year. The top 4 individuals in each weight class advance to the state tournament the next week. For the rest of the wrestlers, their season is over. For some, it's the end of their careers.

This year, we had 3 wrestlers advance to the State Tournament. I'm very excited for them, especially since they all have legitimate shots at placing in Greensboro. But I am deeply saddened for my non-qualifiers. I had 4 seniors fall short. Two of them were eliminated in the last round, the consolation semifinals. Win in that round and you're in the top 4.

You know, I like to win. I like to win a lot. But this job is special because of the relationships I build with these guys. Putting my arm around these guys to console them is the hardest thing I do in coaching.

Sure, it's just a match but you haven't met Ley Kicklighter. Ley was the worse athlete we had four years ago. Soft, uncoordinated, and not strong. But he connected with wrestling and each year got a little better. This year, he was solid. Not great, but solid. A kid who I wasn't sure could fight out of a wet paper bag when he was a freshman was about 2 seconds away from qualifying for state. Oh if only he could have held that cradle...

Or Robert Sprude. He left us for a year to attend the NC School for Science and Math. Then he got kicked out for academics. We have a phrase, "Sprude Rule", that means if a coach says it you must stop talking because Robert talks so much. Robert is cerebral and awkward as a wrestler. But he finds ways to win. He will never intimate you with his looks. He is actually the goofiest looking kid, not athletic but rather dorky. He was two points away from qualifying.

These guys are the reasons I coach and the reason, over 24 hours later, my heart is still broken. Brant Harris and Duncan Wilkie were two wins from making it. Their four years were not in vain because I believe wrestling teaches great lessons for young men. They've matured, been challenged and overcome obstacles. They've been a family. They'll be fine. I know it. But it still doesn't make it any easier for their coach to see them leave.

Minor Annoyance

This past week I stopped to fill up my car. It was a place in Shelby, NC. I put my debit card in like I almost always do and proceeded to fill the tank. Except I didn't...

The pump cut me off at $35.00. Apparently, that was the limit. I was annoyed. Whenever I stop for gas, I always fill the tank up. Here, I was about two gallons short.

I understand the need for prepay and even the need for a limit in case someone's account is short. But seriously, $35.00? When gas was $3.04 per gallon? I own a midsize sedan, but I'm not sure $35.00 would fill up a small car like a Honda Fit or Nissan Versa.

This was a photo I took on Feb 18, 2008. I guess gas prices aren't that much more three years later. Nevertheless, I'm glad I've got alternatives to the car if I need to get around.
49/366 - 18 Feb [sticker shock]

Sunday, February 13, 2011


I am utterly fascinated by the events in Egypt. It took 18 days and no military offensive to get Hosni Mubarak to step down. Egypt is at a milestone in its great and glorious history dating back as one of the world's first civilizations.

How will we remember Egypt? Will it be the new Berlin... when, in 1989, a fall of a wall led to a democratic revolution and reunification of a country? Or will we remember it more like China in 1989, where a group of students, if only for a brief moment, captivated the world? In one place, we see sweeping change and progressive improvement. In the other, we were left with continued oppression of the population.

Today, the military announced that parliament is dissolved and their constitution suspended. Egypt is at a crossroads. Beyond pharaohs, pyramids and the Nile, how else may modern society remember Egypt?

Egypt, it's your choice. Don't screw it up.

These photos were taken from flickr. I did not take these photos nor did Iask permission of the artists. Sorry. Click to see who deserves the credit.

Egypt Revolution , Power to the People .. for change
Revolution -268
27 January: Protesters spread images from the protests
Wrapped in sorrow
30 January: A man in a wheelchair talks to a soldier
25 January: The Tunisian and Egyptian flag held aloft
EGYPT-PROTEST/25january -يناير25- يوم الغضب المصري-
The messages on Tahrir Square