Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Pain of Loss

1) If you're regular, Sunday Sevens is going away for now. I achieved a few goals. I got to use this blog more and I got be expressive in a way I don't get to (or want to) on social media. Now, as with so many things, it's become too much of a commitment-- pressure if you want to call it that, to blog weekly. And, I feel that my blogs are becoming forced and not inspired, creative or interesting. My hope is that I'll continue to blog as I see topics that are fitting. When football season returns, maybe I'll start ranking teams again...

2) Today, I want to write about loss and grief. Late Friday, I got the news that the Greatest, Muhammed Ali, died in Arizona. Who can you find that's as transcendent as Ali? Pele? Ali was great as a fighter but I admire his convictions. I didn't always agree with everything and I thought he was too boastful for my tastes, but he was a man who stood up for injustice. He was a humanitarian that graced many people's lives and inspired hope. The world will never have another Ali. 

I like this video, it's not all Ali, but he sort of stars in it.

Yesterday, a church family lost their son, only 18 years old, in a car accident. The family is an active, core part of the church. I cannot imagine the grief that they have to endure, losing their oldest child, The siblings were at church today and I was able to hug them. I know loss, because losing mom was the hardest thing I had to endure. But I don't know how it is to lose a child. So much heartbreak.

And then I found out this morning that a former student of mine lost the baby she was carrying. I don't know exactly how far into the pregnancy she was, but it is a heartbreaker for her, her husband and their families.

This weekend just kept punching me in the gut. Despite that, it was a marvelous weekend. I got to take a guy around Pisgah on Friday afternoon, woke up early and met another friend for ride in Dupont Saturday morning, hung out with Rachel, Elena and Nora Saturday night, cleaned and read, was encouraged by Brian Land's teaching at church this morning and then encouraged again by the Baccalaureate service at North this afternoon. 

I live a blessed life. I hurt and ache for my friends. I mourn that we all lost Muhammed Ali. But I am thankful for all that I have been blessed with. And cling tight and appreciate all that you have. Don't take losing it for you to appreciate it.

Monday, May 16, 2016

S7s- May 15: Hexed?

1) Yesterday was the Regional Track meet at AC Reynolds. We had one qualifier, Odyssey Gaines in the 200m Dash. She's our first stat qualifier in three season. She tried to get out of running the 200, but I made her run. She was in the slow heat and won. Better yet, her time was good enough to be second overall. I told her after her run that I was proud of her effort and she gave herself a good chance to qualify (finish in the top 4). After the fast heat, I told her she'd be close. I was surprised she was second, I would have been thrilled with third or fourth. 

We had some bad luck yesterday. Our 4x200 ran phenomenal. They went 1:49 and was the third team to cross the finish line. Then someone said there was a zone violation. Being the referee, I hustled to see what it was. It was lane 6, our lane. Heartbreaking. It would have been disappointing if we finished 6th and got DQed, but it was devastating because they went from being state qualifiers to being disqualified. As their coach, what can you say? Most of them were running again in the 4x100, so I told them to rally and be ready for their next event.

In the 4x100, we were running well and in the mix and the second handoff got dropped. I didn't even see it happen. It looked good and when I was looking for the third exchange, there was no North Henderson. Their spacing was good, they just dropped the baton. The thing is, these were what I consider my two most reliable athletes in terms of handoffs. If I had to pick two to do an exchange, it would be these two.

I'm proud of my kids. We were 5th in the 4x400 and 6th in the 300 hurdles. Some good efforts in the field events. Despite not qualifying our relays, I'm proud of their effort. There's a reason this happened. We were hit twice with really unfortunate luck in two of our best events-- the events we had the best chance to qualify in. I don't know why things work the way they do, but I'm confident we're all better people after this. Even if we're not happy people at the moment.

2) The 4x100 gave me flashbacks to last year's state championship tournament. Mitchel Langford loses an improbable match in the finals. I truly believe that if Mitchel and Mainz wrestled 100 times, Mitch would win 98 or 99 times. Mainz wrestled a good match and earned that victory but I don't doubt that Mitchel was the better wrestler. The same way that Dan Gable was better than Larry Owings. If my two girls do 100 handoffs, 95% of them are great.

I had a friend tell me that you've got to strive for 100%. 1% is bad. If 1% of parachutes failed, that would be terrible. In Mitchel's case and in the 4x100, we fell victim to that 1%.

3) North Henderson will be host for next year's track regionals. Why do I do this to myself?

4) Went out to dinner with the coaches after the meet. Had my bike. Headed over to Bent Creek to get a ride in. Towards the end, I lose a pedal. It comes off the spindle but is still clipped into my shoes. This is my fifth pair of Crank Brothers pedals and the newest. The first to fail. I slowly and awkwardly pedaled back to the car, just about a mile. It was hard with only one good pedal and trying to keep the other foot on the spindle. I was convinced someone had a voodoo doll of me or put some sort of curse on me.

I took a picture and posted it to Instagram. Also tagged Crank Brothers. They messaged me back and it looks like they're going to replace the pedal. That's good customer service!

 5) Spent the evening at the Grove Park for the WNC Sports Banquet presented by the Mountain Amateur Athletic Club. North Henderson was well represented, especially wrestling! Josh Blatt was a finalist for the 3A/4A Male Athlete in an Olympic Sport (Connor Fenn of Asheville School won), the team was a finalist for 3A/4A Male Team- Olympic Sport (won by Enka Wrestling) and Pete Willingham won a $1000 scholarship. Caroline Marsh, a volleyball player, was a finalist for 3A/4A Female Athlete- Major Sport.

6) "Are you interested or committed?" -Jerry Moore, former Appalachian State Football Coach and WNC Sports Hall of Fame inductee.

7) I'm really bummed out about the Spurs losing. I wanted Tim Duncan to win and retire. It will be an interesting off season for this team. Who do they sign? Who retires?

Sunday, May 8, 2016

S7s: May 8, 2016

1) With Ted Cruz and John Kasich officially suspending their campaign, Donald Trump is now the Republican nominee for president. I think:

  • The Cruz-Kasich plan to split states will go down as one of the worst play calls of all time. Granted, they probably would have lost if they did nothing, but it seemed desperate and played into Trump.
  • Carly Fiorina as the Vice Presidential candidate was another fumble for Cruz. As a friend pointed out, she brings nothing to the table. Her supporters were probably Cruz supporters anyway. And if Cruz is trying to pander to women, Fiorina did not help him with the female vote.
  • The same friend pointed out that Fiorina is now a failed CEO, presidential nominee and vice presidential nominee. Maybe she'll be the next Lincoln.
  • Trump is behind in most polls to Clinton and Sanders, but I think the election will be closer as we get to November. 
  • That said, unless Trump finds a way to win over groups he has alienated such as Latinos and women, then I find it hard for him to win the general election. 
  • But maybe Hillary is so unlikable that enough people don't turn out to vote and Trump steals the election. Clinton has to get out Hispanic, Black and women voters. If she doesn't she's in trouble.
  • I think Trump is going to disappoint his base if he is elected president. He says off the wall things and certainly "speaks his mind", but he's smart and is way more moderate (even left) than many of his supporters want to admit or care to see. Plus, he's friends with many of the people that he and his supporters demonize (including Clinton).
  • Trump has a chance. I wouldn't have said that two months ago. Running mates will make this election interesting. Unfortunately, no one is listening to policy. The candidate with the fewest gaffs stands a better chance. 

2) I've heard people lament that about the prospect of having to choose between Trump and Clinton. Some have said they are not going to vote, which is absolutely their right. But I still think it's important to make a choice. The problem is not that Trump and Clinton are our best candidates for the office, it's that they are the ones that want the office.

We the People, have created this. The office of the Presidency is not for the timid, shy or thin skinned. The office is so scrutinized, the campaigns so long and the spotlight so bright that it takes a certain person to want to be President. When you put yourself out there, you will be assailed on so many levels, but so will your friends and family. It's just not worth it for most people. It takes a certain ego, vanity and personality to embrace all the peripherals that are involved with running for any office, much less the President of the United States.

I said going back to 2000, that out of 300 million Americans, the best we could come up with were Al Gore and George Bush? They were not the best and we have had our share of underwhelming candidates but only because we're putting on the field the ones who want to play the game, not the ones who are the best at the game.

I think Joe Biden regrets not running. But I also believe that he's relieved he is not running, especially with all that his family has gone through. Very few people want to embrace the 24 hour news cycles, the lack of privacy and the critical opinion of the masses. In the age of digital communication and social media, I'm quite certain we would have villified George Washington and our other founding fathers that we hold in such high esteem.

3) Great weekend. Went camping Friday with Brian, Abel, Greg, Jordan and Tim. Good conversation and great weather. Mowed lawn Saturday, got a ride in with Dan, went to a 4 year old's birthday party, ate a Rocky's and saw my friends play music at Blue Ghost Brewery.

Today took the Ducati to Straightaway Cafe on HWY 9. Decent little place, nice to be out on bike. Tonight had dinner at Shawn and Amy's with the Ruiz fans. Amy showed us her bees, which a new hobby for her. It's really cool whenever you get to see people share their passions.

4) Happy Mother's Day. I miss my Mother but everyday I'm inspired by her and it's my goal that she would be proud of me.

5) We hosted the Conference Track meet last week. Boys finished 1st and won running away. It was a great meet for them. The girls had a great meet also. They finished 3rd, which was our goal. It was really close, there were 8 points that separated 3rd place and 7th place. On to Regionals next Saturday!

6) Best Sports moment in a while:

7) Keeping my neighbors up north in my prayers. This wildfire is massive and pictures heartbreaking. I have a feeling that we're in for a very bad wildfire season.

USA Today

Sunday, May 1, 2016

S7s: May 1- Springing into May

1) Kaida turned 4 last week. She had a party in SC yesterday. My brother, Chhay, also just got back from 6 months of deployment so it was a double celebration. And got to see a lot of other kiddos. It was great family time.

2) Speaking of birthdays, god daughter Sydney turned 9. She's growing so fast but she still thinks I'm great so I'll take that for now.

3) Yesterday was the North Henderson High School prom. I drove back from SC, got home around 9:00, changed and caught the end of the prom. I'm glad I made it back. It was great to see all the students dressed up and there were a few that I was very happy to catch. My wrestlers looked sharp and my track team was gorgeous. Everyone seemed to be having fun.

4) My favorite quote of the last week occured when we were outside I noticed what turned out to be fertilizer on the track. Not knowing what it was yet, I asked aloud what was on my track. One of my girls replied, "Grass seasoning". Dunno, I thought it was hilarious.

5)  We went to a meet at Western Carolina this week. The boys took first out of 15 teams. The girls placed 11th. I love WCU's facilities and Coach Williamson and his staff are great to us. The best thing about the meet is that, as coaches, we don't have to work any events or time. That's very rare. It was nice just to watch my athletes jump and throw.

6) I was really amazed by today's sermon. Charles McGowan was the guest preacher and he spoke on Matthew 16:13-17. 
13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
I have read the passage before, but read it all wrong. In verse 18, I always assumed it was Peter that was the rock the church would be built on. It turns out that it's actually Peter's answer in verse 16 that is the Rock: Jesus the Messiah is what the church will be built on. 

Also, verse 18, about the gates of Hades... I always assumed that Hades cannot overcome the church. McGowan says that the church is marching on Hades and the gates built to keep the church out cannot win. The church is based on the Messiah  and Jesus cannot be held back by mere walls. 

7) NFL Draft thoughts:
  • Laremy Tunsil better be a game changer. If he flops, the Dolphins have wasted another first round pick, a la Dion Jordan. 
  • I don't love the Dolphins draft. But not being splashy sometimes is good.
  • Panthers took three defensive backs in a row. Josh who?
  • I hope Jared Goff is more Aaron Rogers than Brady Quinn.
  • I like Denver's pick of Paxton Lynch. 
  • I also love that Denver got Adam Gotsis in the second round. Go Jackets!
  • DJ White makes plays. I hope he makes the Chiefs roster. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

S7s: Apr 24- Purple Rain

1) Prince. Such an icon. We all jammed to "Purple Rain" and knew all the words to "When Doves Cry" and "Little Red Corvette". The man was such a talent. He wrote his own songs and played all the instruments on several albums when so many artists today are only performers-- all their songs are written for them. He was also an enigma, with a hidden faith and converting to Jehovah's Witness later in his life.

I watched his Super Bowl halftime show again and forgot what a great preformance that was. He jammed in the rain. First time it ever rained at a Super Bowl. He played live music when most acts in the Super Bowl are pre-recorded. He danced on a slippery stage. He played Foo Fighters and Bob Dylan because he could and he was secure enough to not just promote himself.

Here's a clip from NFL Networks recalling that performance. "Can you make it rain harder?"

I love this clip from the Chappelle show also. Apparently, Prince wrote a song about pancakes after this skit.

2) Eric Clapton was asked how if felt to be the greatest guitarist in the world. He replied, "I don't know, ask Prince."

3) Harriett Tubman to replace Jackson on the $20 bill. Great move. I still think we get away from just having people. Let's put Grand Canyon, Arches and El Capitan on our money. Denali and Crater Lake. Statue of Liberty or the Gateway Arch.

Regardless, moving Jackson is a good move. He was a bigot, bad to women and presided through bully tactics and appointing favorites. He was our first populist president, but he'll never be a hero in my books.

4) My favorite play in baseball is a triple play:

5) I got to share my testimony at Watershed this morning. It was special getting to tell the students where I came from and how God has been with me on the entire journey. They've known me for years, but few know the story of my family and how I arrived at who I am today.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

6) Can Golden State win if Curry is hurt? Hornets got their first playoff in in 14 years! 14 years!

7) Track team had two meets last week. We ran at the Falcon Invite on Wednesday and finished 4th out of 7 teams. Had some season bests. Yesterday was the huge Blue Ridge Classic at Reynolds. I'm happy we placed in the 4x200. We ran season bests in the 4x200 and 4x100 as well as the open 200. 

Mallard Creek and Parkland dominated. I watched Parkland's Mckinley McNeil run 54 seconds in the 400. Her mom was actually talking to me when I was was doing 4x200 splits. She was very nice, asking which team was mine so she could cheer. Not knowing her or her daughter at this time, I asked how her daughter was doing so far and she replied, "State indoor champion in the 400 and 3rd best time in the country right now". Yeah, she's doing alright. Sounds like mom and daughter both have good heads on their shoulders. 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

S7s: April 17- Feeling clean

1) After almost 6 weeks of being without one, I own a working washing machine! I swung by Best Buy after Nora's birthday party. I've been looking on Craigslist to no avail. I figured I go new and take advantage of Best Buy's no interest financing. On the floor was an open box that they said was used as a display. It was over $200 off retail and they offered me another 20 percent off. So I took it. It's a Whirlpool Cabrio HE top loader. The reviews are mixed on the the High Efficiency washers, but I'm going with the idea that the new ones have evolved for the better. First load in the machine right now, so we'll see. At least I don't have to go to the laundromat or do my wash at school anymore.

2) Governor McCrory has issued an Executive Order clarifying HB2. It's a step in the right direction, but probably the damage has already been done. He wants to change the legislation to allow North Carolinians the right to sue for discrimination in state courts (my biggest gripe) as well as clarify some of the language. It may be too little too late. Many businesses are still not stepping back from calling for a full repeal. He's feeling the heat, though he is getting a lot of love from supporters of the bill. I think he regrets signing a bill that was so hastily written (1 day) and had so many flaws. The bill reminds me of when I would throw together a project at the last minute: sure I got it done and met the criteria, but when you looked closely it was full of errors and mistakes.

3) Some of this stems from "religious liberty". That's what Mississippi passed, that if you have religious convictions you can deny service to a gay couple. I guess I wonder whether I could deny services to someone of a different race or gender based on my religious convictions. I really do have mixed feelings on all of this. I don't want anyone to be discriminated against. But if someone is a bigot or hates homosexuals, they should be allowed to do so happily as long as they are not hurting anyone and they own a private business. They should advertise their position and let the market take care of it. Obviously, a restaurant that did not serve Asians would not welcome me, but I bet most of my friends would also not frequent that business. I sure wouldn't want to go there anyway. And if you really cared, you could take note of friends, neighbors and public officials that did go to those places and decide if you still want to be associated with them.

4)  My favorite news story of the week:

5) Also from NPR, I found this interesting. I have long told my students that writing things down helps you learn. Now, I have science behind me!

6) NBA Playoffs: I'm pulling for the Spurs. I don't know if they can beat Golden State, that team is special. So fun to watch. 

7) Lady Knights Track finished 3rd at the County Meet. The boys won! We had not county champions, but Lauren Francis finished 2nd in the 300 hurdles and our 4x100 and 4x400 finished second. We also celebrated our seniors.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

S7s- Apr 10: Sign of Armageddon

1) I can officially say it because she has told her students, but Dot Case is retiring. I'll blog more about Ms Case in the future, I'm sure I'll blog more about her later, but the fact that she is retiring has hit many of us hard. We knew it was inevitable, but after 47 years, Dot Case is calling it a career. I'm going to enjoy the last few weeks of having her as a colleague. I'll be forever grateful for all she has taught me over the years.

Here's a link to an interview I did of her a few years ago: Ms Case

And here she is, front and center, with her department that, despite many changes, she was the constant.

2) We hosted the WHKP Relays on Thursday. 16 girls teams and 17 boys teams. It was a great event, though we had some trouble with some results getting inputted because of the sheer numbers of field events. Some teams did not bring their full squads as Taco Bell was also this weekend, but we still had a great meet and I'm really proud of the effort of my squad. I was hoping to finish in the top half of the field and we finished 8th, so I met my goal. And who was there volunteering: Dot Case.

3) Bruce Springsteen cancelled a show in NC that was scheduled for today in Greensboro to protest HB2. I feel bad for the fans, because they're the ones that are hurt but I appreciate the stance that he has taken. The Boss has long been political. Keep in mind that his most famous anthem, "Born in the USA" is not meant to be a patriotic song.

Along with Paypal deciding to not follow through with their plans to build a center near Charlotte, HB2 has also made NC into the butt of national jokes. See this video by Funny or Die.

4) Last week was ridiculously busy, so there was no riding for me. I did get up yesterday and get 60 miles in. Started at the house and headed down to Tuxedo via Mine Mountain. Rode old 25 into SC and got on HWY 11. Met my buddies doing the Assault on the Carolinas at the bottom of Ceasar's Head and we rode back to Brevard together. Great day.

Today, I got on the mountain bike and explored in Pisgah. Rode up Cove Creek Trail. Hit the top of Daniel Ridge and went down counterclockwise for the first time. Then finished with Butter and Cat Gap-- a 19 mile day.

5) You should see the numbers we have at Yellowjackets on Mondays. It's fun and there are over 40 elementary kids. We're doing great things over there. And we got awesome shirts.

6) Opening week of baseball. I promise I won't blog much about baseball. But I am impressed with Kershaw's first outing. And I'm more impressed that the only person to hit two homeruns off Kershaw in the last year is Madison Bumgarner. This is also the last season of the Braves in Turner-- and I hate that.

7) Oh the Masters. What an event. I was at Sanctuary Brewing, watching and commenting that no way Spieth would lose. Then came Amen Corner. A quadruple bogey. He looked mortal. I think Jordan Spieth is great and has fantastic ability. He deserves to by the number one player in the world. I hope that this round does not mentally shake him up for the future. I think the kid will bounce back fine. Two best moments, one good one and one bad one:

Sunday, April 3, 2016

S7s: 3 Apr- Bye, Break

1) Spring break is ending. Tomorrow, we're back for nine weeks left of the school year. Family and weather dictated that I stay close but I had a great week that included:

  • My niece, Suelee, was in town for the week. She had her two kids. I hung out with them a bunch. Eva is pretty stinking cute.
  • Went to Jack of the Wood for Trivia with some of the Enka crew. I learned that Charlotte is the second largest city in the Southeast after Jacksonville, FL. Atlanta metro is bigger, but the city itself is smaller. 
  • Had drinks with Michael Hodges. He's an athletic trainer in Buncombe County and he's doing the Great Divide this summer. I'm so excited for him. And jealous. It was fun getting to share advice and reliving the journey.
  • Cleaned the house a little. Got a bunch of stuff delivered to Goodwill and the recycling facility.
  • I learned that I need a new motor for the washing machine. Not going to happen. This one is going trash and I'm shopping for a new one.
  • I went camping in Turkeypen along the South Mills River. Just me and my hammock and some reading stuff. It was great to be solo and disconnected from technology. It was going to be two nights, but weather forced me to do just one. 

2) This is Shawn Evans. Today is is his Birthday. Shawn is a new friend of mine, but a great guy. He hired wrestlers last year when he had to move and paid them well. He's a heck of a biker, he joined me for a few days of the Great Divide last year. We also got a ride in today. And yesterday, he brought me a refrigerator because I had posted on Facebook that I was looking for one. They had an extra. 

3) I learned in my reading last week that the human hand may have evolved for combat. We are the only hominid or primate that can close our hands into a fist. The human jaw may have evolved to better sustain blows. Interesting. Look it up.

4) I've been reading a little more about HB2. I stand by my position that it is not about bathrooms. I learned that in addition to stripping municipal governments of local control it also has moved all discrimination lawsuits out of state courts. That means if I feel like I am being discriminated against because of my ethnicity, I cannot legally sue within the state court system. I must file a federal suit, that can often take longer and be more costly. It's as if the state of North Carolina does not want to protect its citizens from discrimination.

5) I am starting to get into better riding shape from the winter. Rode the Davis-Evans loop on Monday, climbed Elk Mountain to the Blue Ridge Parkway on Friday and then hammered 43 miles with Dan and Derek over Jeter Mt and out to Etowah yesterday. Finished that with a ride today and I'm almost at 90 miles this week!

6) Opening Day of baseball today. I'm interested, but not that much. I love Clayton Kershaw. I get bored of baseball though. Shorten the season! I am excited that this is Master's Week!

7) Special congratulations to Josh Blatt. After finishing 7th in Greco in Fargo last summer and winning the State Championship in February at 106, he went to the NHSCA Nationals and placed 2nd! That's amazing. Mitchel Langford placed 4th two years ago, that tells you the depth of these tournaments. Great job on being an All American.

We also had three other kids go to Virginia Beach... all our state placers. Morgan King, Will Baldwin and Paul Searcy all went 2-2. They won against some tough kids and lost some close matches. We were always competitive and hopefully this experience will help us for next season. Knights Wrestling has some high expectations. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

S7s: March 27: Break

1) Spring Break has begun. I have no plans really, I am going to the be at the track a few days. Suelee and her kids are in town for the week. She's transitioning between jobs. I'd like to camp, backpack or get out of town for a few days, but who knows. There's lots of stuff that needs to get done around here too: yardwork, fix washing machine, sort clothes and other things to give away. My big hope is that I and my students mentally recharge and my athletes heal up from their injuries and afflictions.

2) Today is Easter. This day means everything. It gives purpose to my life. There is a purpose. There's a seat for us as the table and we are not chained by our sins.

3) One of my favorite paintings is Caravaggio's Supper at Emmaus as told in Luke 24:13-35. The painting has so many gorgeous aspects, but perhaps my favorite is that it is an invitation. There's a open spot for us. We are welcomed at the table.

4) NC Passed House Bill 2 this past week. Basically, it's the state's response to Charlotte's city ordinance that allowed transgendered people to use the restroom of the gender that they associate with, not necessarily the gender they are born with. The framers of HB2 say it is about protecting women and children but the bill does seem overreaching and has implications that go beyond just bathrooms and who gets to use them. It overrides all local ordinances that protect certain individuals. I do have some issues with the bill, mainly:
  • It will get challenged in court and cost the state lots of money.
  • They called special session that costs about $42,000 just for this bill. It was that urgent?
  • I don't think it's just about bathrooms.
  • It runs the risk of affecting many people adversely, not just gay, lesbian and transgendered people.
  • Written into the bill was also a stipulation that local communities could not set a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum wage. 
  • For a party of small government and local control the GOP in NC sure is legislating a lot and taking away the ability of local municipalities to craft local ordinances that are good for their communities. 
5) Terrorists attacks in Belgium on Tuesday and Pakistan yesterday. Tragic and heartbreaking, as it always is. I don't want to write much because I don't know what to write. What else do you say. I'll share this link from NPR because the photos tell a much better story than I do.

6) NCAA Basketball tournament is down to four: UNC, Villanova, Oklahoma and Syracuse. I have no preference. I still don't know if the upsets are a result of parity or poor seeding.

7) Went on an epic bike ride with Stephen Willis, Robert Duggan and Robert's friend David yesterday. We started at Andrews Geyser and rode up to Ridgecrest. Then we went up Rattlesnake Trail and hit the Toll Rd. Rattlesnake was super steep and hard. I pushed. The Toll Rd was not too bad, just long. At the top, the rocks became loose and larger, so it was hard pedaling sometimes.

After almost 16 miles of climbing, we reach Heartbreak Ridge. What a fun downhill! Long and mostly rideable. It was a great time! We were so tired though from the slog. We thought that we'd shuttle Kitsuma, but I was hungry and everyone agreed, so we went up to Black Mountain and had food and drinks at Fresh Wood Fired Pizza. It was pretty good. Great route, I can't wait to ride Heartbreak again.

A photo posted by @heanguy on

Monday, March 21, 2016

S7s: 3/20- March Madness

1) NCAA Wrestling from Madison Square Garden this weekend. I watched some of the semifinals on Friday and was amazed. The Finals last night were terrific.

  • Nolf vs I-Mar, Snyder vs Gwizz both lived up the the hype.
  • How good is Nashon Garrett? A pin 21 second in the semifinals?! Against the defending national champion! 
  • NYC was a great venue, despite my skepticism going into the tournament. 
  • I am so impressed with Penn State and the level of wrestling they are able to achieve. Cael Sanderson has become a legend as a coach as well as a wrestler. And they're loaded for a good run for a few years. 
  • Congratulations to Virginia Tech for finishing 3rd and NC State for a top 10 finish. 
  • No champions for the Iowa Hawkeyes, but three finalists and a top 5 finish for Coach Brands' team.
  • He didn't wrestle last night but he was interviewed several times: Jordan Burroughs is a winner, class act and great ambassador for the sport of wrestling. 
2) There was another national tournament happening this weekend. I followed very little basketball. I know my bracket is in the 12th percentile right now. Wrestling was more compelling to me.

3) Lady Knights Track had two meets this past week: the Jus Running Relays on Tuesday and Times-News Invitational on Saturday. Some solid performances. 10th place yesterday at Times-News. We're still a work in progress, but you can see we've got some great athletes. We need to get healthy. Spring Break will be much needed for my athletes. 

4) All Area Wrestling Teams announced by our local media outlets.
  • Times News Wrestler of the Year was Josh Blatt. Well deserved and great honor for Josh.
  • All-Area Wrestlers for the Times-News: Morgan King, Will Baldwin, Paul Searcy.
  • Basketball teams had 17-18 players on the Times-News teams, while wrestling only had 9 total. Wrestling has 14 weight classes, basketball has 5 positions. Seems Daniel Dowling, Cele Cardenas should have made it. Possibly Pete Willingham, Damian Murphy and Joshua Feliz. Rosman High School underrepresented also.
  • Citizen-Times All-WNC: Josh Blatt, Morgan King, Will Baldwin
  • Searcy one of the best wrestlers in WNC but I can't argue with having Wilson on the team-- they split this season, but Conan placed higher at Regionals and State. 
5) I read this article the other day: In Love with Donald Trump

It's so good. Christians don't agree with Trump, his character or his morality. But people love his message. Why? Because we pursue the things we love and he's selling us what we love. And the love of many Christians is less in Christ and more in the offerings of the world.

6) Obama made an appointment for the Supreme Court. I know nothing about Merrick Garland. He may or may not be a good Justice. I do believe that the Senate has a duty to hold hearings on Mr Garland. It doesn't mean that they have to appoint him, but his case to be Justice needs to be heard.
  • There's the argument that if the roles were reversed that Democrats would block the nominee from being confirmed or heard. It's like gerrymandering: just because the other side does it doesn't make it right. The nomination process can take months, so if we're looking at the next president appointing the next Supreme Court Justice, we're looking at the Supreme Court sitting with one Justice short for nearly two years.
  • Any wonder why Congress has an 11% approval rating according to the Pew Research Center? 
  • In case you're wondering, Gallup Poll for March 13 had the President at 51 percent approval.
  • The Republicans are going all in, especially if they have to nominate a third party candidate or block Trump at the Convention. Between that and the refusal to hold hearings on the President's nominee, they are playing a dangerous game with perception. If enough moderates are turned off by the stance of the GOP led Senate, they may be putting their majorities in the House at risk. A longer shot is that they lose their Senate majority. 
7) Speaking of the President, he made an official visit to Cuba today. I am looking forward to more normalized relationships with Cuba. The policies of the last 60 years haven't worked there. I can't wait to visit the island. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

S7s: 13 Mar

1) Watershed Youth High School Retreat was this weekend. The place was Carolina Point, a camp run by Young Life on the NC/SC border near Brevard. It's a beautiful site and still growing. We had the camp to ourselves and were blessed with great weather. The theme of the week was the Wedding Feast in Matthew 22. God clothes us in his garments and invites us to celebrate with him. It's good stuff. The kids were amazing and there were some changed hearts. I'm always fortunate to get to share in these opportunities and experiences.

2) NC Primary is Tuesday. I can't wait to vote. Not even decided which primary I'm voting in yet. It will be a last minute decision.

3) NCAA Basketball tournament is ready to roll. I have followed very little college basketball, but I'll still make a bracket. Right now, Let me study the bracket and get back to you on who I think will win.

4) Here's one reason why wrestling is so great-- Seth Curry would never give this interview:

5) More sports: what a huge loss for the NFL-- Marshawn Lynch, Peyton Manning and Calvin Johnson all retire in the same year. Megatron will always be my favorite, I got a lot of joy watching him play while he was at Georgia Tech:

6) Just when you thought you knew it all:

7) Track season has begun. We had our first and second meets last week. The weather was great. Not brutal like March often is. The team is deeper that we were last year. We don't have the top tier talent, but we've got some strong performers. And I'm really impressed with some of our new kids. We placed 6th at Reynolds on Tuesday and were 3rd in a home meet on Thursday.

My old Dell died, so we tried to pair two new computers to time and score. It didn't work perfectly. We had a system that was fine, but my project before April 7 is to make sure that our computers are communicating. Hosting meets is an ordeal, but we have great facilities and the right equipment. It's just a matter of having all the pieces in place (technology, volunteers, weather).

Sunday, March 6, 2016

S7s- 6 Mar: Make up edition

1) I missed last week. My Sunday was just too busy. Did a long ride in Pisgah, had to take wash to laundromat since washing machine is dead and worked on getting things ready for our team banquet on Monday.

2) Our team banquet was on Monday. Just another reminder on what a great group of guys I have. We ate lots of food and share some laughs. I handed out awards and recognitions. Our superlatives were as follows:

  • Most Valuable: Paul Searcy
  • Most Outstanding: Josh Blatt
  • Coach's Award: Will Baldwin
  • Most Improved: Daniel Dowling

Last night also took a few of our kids to the Southern Conference Wrestling Championships. What a great time and great tournament. The last match at heavyweight was between Appalachian State and Chattanooga. Chattanooga led by 2.5 points in the team race, so the winner of the individual bout also clinches the tournament for his team. Appalachian got a late takedown to seal the win and the the team title. Fantastic finish!

3) Track is off and running. I am having a blast with a great group of kids. Hopefully, we'll have some success. Our meet on Thursday was cancelled due to snow. Everyone is itching to compete. We'll be at AC Reynolds on Tuesday and hosting a meet at North on Thursday. 

This was a great image my assistant coach took.

4) Super Tuesday was last week: Trump and Hillary had good days. Sanders is still in the mix, especially after Saturday's caucuses in Kentucky and Kansas. Cruz is surging, Kasich hanging in there and Rubio slipping. Here are some political thoughts:
  • Trump basically advocated war crimes by increasing torture and bombing innocent targets. He rescinded the next day, but the damage is done. I think that helped Cruz yesterday.
  • Kasich, if he hangs around long enough, may get the nomination. The question is, can he make it to the convention?
  • I was getting text updates from my friends in Colorado on their caucus experience. First, no caucus for the Republicans. Second, the turnout was super high! The fire marshall forced Steve out of the Middle School they were in and onto the soccer field.  
  • One of the reasons for high turnout was Colorado Cares. Colorado is looking to possibly go single payer for health care. Steve said that 3% salary tax would cover everyone, along with a 8% rate from employers. That's cheaper, by a lot, than most premiums. 
  • Trump nomination, or being blocked at the convention could be bad for the Republican party. There could be a shift or split. The GOP as we know it could meet the same fate as the Whigs. 
  • Another thing to consider is that the longer Trump stays around, the more it could hurt the Republicans. And he may very well win the presidency, but he may cause the party to lose their House majority and close Senate races. I really think it would be bad for the Senate to block an Obama Supreme Court nominee if the Republican party wants to keep their majorities in Congress.
5) Enjoy your next career, Peyton Manning. He'll be great in the booth or as a coach. He didn't need to play another season. Thanks for the memories.

6) Man, what a tough week for losses: Pat Conroy, Nancy Reagan. Two wonderful part of American history.

"I wanted to become the seeker, the aroused and passionate explorer, and it was better to go at it knowing nothing at all, always choosing the unmarked bottle, always choosing your own unproven method, armed with nothing but faith and a belief in astonishment."
Pat Conroy, "Lords of Discipline

7) Brian Land spoke today on Mark 5. The story of the bleeding woman who touched the robe of Christ has long resonated with me. She reaches, in desperation. Her faith was enough to heal her. Everyone wanted signs and miracles and she, a shunned woman, knew that Jesus was the miracle. 

"Love Alone" my favorite Caedmon's Call song. The chorus sings "Love Alone is not enough/to hold us up/ we've got to touch your robe/so swing your robe down low

All we have to do is believe and reach for his garment and He can heal us. "Don't be afraid, just believe" - Mark 5:36

Monday, February 22, 2016

S7s: Feb 21- State Championship Edition

1) This is my 16th year as the head coach of North Henderson Wrestling. I always tell my kids that our goal is February. We've had a great February so far with a conference championship and Regional Runner-up. We qualified six wrestlers to the state tournament, held this past weekend.

What a weekend it was for us. Our team finished tied for 2nd overall and we had four state placers. Josh Blatt fought his way to overtime in the 106 Championship finals. We were down by two with 30 seconds left and took our opponent down. In overtime, we were able to catch our opponent on his back and secure the fall. That ended up being huge. It moved us ahead of Piedmont for second place. The only team that could catch us was Hickory Ridge. Their 113 pounder was down most of the match and, in dramatic fashion, got a takedown and back points late in the third period. The win bumped Hickory Ridge into a tie with us.

Paul Searcy took 3rd at 145, Will Baldwin was 4th at 138 and Morgan King was 5th at 113. Considering our 220 was scratched at weigh ins, I'm really proud of the effort of the Knights. We were only 3 points behind Enka and we had opportunities to catch them. But our guys battled, showed character and excelled when it was demanded of them. We're excited to be returning all our state placers and we'll be shooting for that goal of a championship next year.

2) Lots of great memories from the weekend, but this photo is going to be talked about for years. Wayne Nock is now internet famous. This was right after the pin was called in Josh's match. Priceless. We were stunned, you can say...

3) Cele, our 220 pounder, was disqualified because of a cold sore. It was truly a heartbreaker. This is a kid we really love and who loves his teammates. I took him home after practice every day his freshman year and most days his sophomore. He started off as an mediocre wrestler but stuck with the sport and became one of the best in the state. I hate he did not get a chance to compete for a state title. I think that he hates knowing that his points could have earned us a state title as a team. 

All things happen for a reason. I don't know what the reason is here, but I trust that God has great things in store for Cele, our kids and myself through this experience. 

4) Last week was my birthday week. The people at school were really nice and made me feel special without embarrassing me. I had a small dinner after practice with some friends and some of my favorites.

5) I didn't love To Kill a Mockingbird, but I can appreciate the importance of Harper Lee's novel. We've lost another American icon.

6) Oh, South Carolina. Nice job in the primaries. I still can't believe that people follow Trump, but I understand it reflects a part of the American soul that we've kept hidden. There is a lot of fear and hatred still in us. That said, I believe that Cruz is much more dangerous than Trump. 

7) I'm tired. But I'm grateful for what I do. We teach and mold. We challenge and shape. We laugh and cry. Moments like this weekend remind me that I get to be a part of something special. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

S7s: Feb 14

1) Big burden off my shoulders today. We hosted the 3A West Regional Tournament over the weekend. 24 schools and the top 4 finishers in each weight class advance to the State Tournament next weekend in Greensboro. It's a huge undertaking that requires weeks of planning and organizing volunteers, supplies and prepping for the tournament.

We pulled it off. The tournament ran great. The volunteers were fantastic and there was some great wrestling all weekend. I spent the better part of the last two weeks getting things ready and now that the tournament is over, there is a lot of relief.

On top of hosting a great tournament, we wrestled really well as a team. The Knights finished 2nd overall to Enka and we qualified 6 wrestlers to the State Tournament. Josh Blatt was champion at 106. Paul Searcy (145), Daniel Dowling (182) and Cele Cardenas (195) finished 2nd in their weights and Morgan King (113) and Will Baldwin (138) were 3rd place. It was a great weekend to be a Knight. On to States...

2) Today is Valentine's Day. Even if I were in a relationship, I'd think Valentine's Day is stupid. Good day for Hallmark, restaurants and florists though.

3) Rest in Peace, Antonin Scalia. 

4) Went and saw the Revenant today. Stunning, especially when you learned that the crew and actors were on set in really extreme conditions. Some scenes made me cold. Others made me grimace. It's based on the true story Hugh Glass. Or is it. The movie is exaggerated a bit from the actual story but if Glass was indeed mauled by a bear and dragged himself 80 miles back to a settlement. Movie also made me miss the west. 

5) Track season officially starts tomorrow. Congratulations to my friend and now former TC Roberson Track coach Andy Morgan. He's starting his new gig as track coach and HEAD Football Coach at McDowell. Wish you the best, Andy. Roberson is a premier program, I wonder who will take over there. Citizen-Times

6) This is not okay: 5 DWI and Still Driving

There has to be a better way of keeping people who have charges off the road. I understand innocent until proven guilty, but this woman is a repeat offender. We are fortunate someone is not dead. 

7) Got a ride in last week before the Super Bowl. 43 miles. Up to Pinnacle Mt Rd on the ECR, all the way to Sky Top in Dupont, to Reasonover Rd, left on Green River Rd, climb Cabin Creek and then home. I barely made it home. Didn't have enough carbs. Was bonking. Looking forward to more saddle time after wrestling is over and when the weather improves. We're in the middle of the coldest week of the winter. 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

S7s: Feb 6

1) Sunday Sevens is Saturday Sevens this week. Tomorrow is the Super Bowl Sunday, I doubt I'll be blogging much tomorrow. That said, I'm hoping for a good game. I think the final score will be 27-24. I have no idea who will win.

2) Knights Wrestling fell in the first round of the State Duals this week. We lost to Piedmont 31-30. There were several opportunities for us to make up at least that one point, if not more. Piedmont wrestled really well and they're a great team, nothing bad to say about them. They earned the win.

  • I do wish the NCHSAA would seed the dual team state playoffs. Tournament is already paired, we knew a month ago we'd get Piedmont and I believe that both teams are among the best in the state. That's the luck of the draw. In another pairing, two teams with losing records met in the first round.
  • Enka and Piedmont met for the West Championship (State Semifinals). We lost to both teams by a combined 5 points. Between those two teams, they won 14 matches and we won 14 matches.
  • Congratulations to Enka and Mitchell for making the state finals. They both lost to formidable opponents, but getting there is a feat.
  • We beat Mitchell and dropped a 4 point loss to Enka. We also beat 2A Regional Finalist Chase. Our team has been challenged and wrestled up to the challenges. 
  • Regional Tournament is at North next weekend.
3) I got a bike ride in today. 30 miles out to Etowah and back. I am not as fit as I want to be. Sean and Robert really hammered a strong pace and I couldn't keep up. Two more weeks of wrestling and hopefully I'll get more bike time. Maybe by then, the trails will dry out a little also.

4) I have been an opponent of gerrymandering for years, no matter who does the gerrymandering. I often here Republicans use the argument that the Democrats did it when they were in control. It doesn't matter. It's wrong and not democratic. And the fact is, North Carolina is the most gerrymandered state in America. Map below is NC in 2003 and then 2013.

This week, a federal court invalidated two of North Carolina's congressional districts, the 1st and 12th. In Congress, Part of Buncombe County is in a district that stretches to Gastonia! Representatives have no accountability since they are often in districts with little or no competition. And we let it happen over and over. Hopefully, this is change.

5) Near tie in Iowa for the Democrats. Bernie probably takes New Hampshire, so does that make the race interesting. Sanders has a lot of momentum. I wonder if he's electable in a general election. His best chances are probably against Cruz, who though he won Iowa, I don't see as electable as a Rubio or even Bush. I still like Kasich. Cruz is just so unlikeable. He's most popular with the far right, which doesn't necessarily make a great general election candidate.

6) Is this Martin Shkrelli the most hated man in America? Maybe. His smirk makes me want to punch him. His testimony and the reason it's going on is an example of what's wrong with our health care system. Insurance and big pharmaceuticals have pushed costs higher. Hospitals bill what insurance will pay and we pay more in higher premiums. The leading cost of personal bankruptcy is health care costs. You don't have to like Obamacare, but please don't tell me the system is fine.

7) We're in February! Black History month. Birthday Month. President's Day! Regional and State Wrestling. Beginning of track! 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

S7s: Closing January

1) Last week was a sort of Winter Break for students of Henderson County Public Schools. They were out Monday-Wednesday. I went into work each day and was somewhat productive. Much of my time revolved around getting our wrestling match scheduled. On Thursday, we had a two hour delay. Friday was a regular schedule. It was sort of weird and difficult, since this was the first full day with my second semester students.

Speaking of which: so far, so good. Really nice group of kids. Also, smaller class numbers than last semester, which makes for slightly easier management and more opportunities to collaborate and do discussions. I am really looking forward to this group, though I'll apologize in advance for February. Hosting the Regional Wrestling and then going to the State tournament means I don't get to be in the classroom and miss out on some instruction.

2) The snow made me miss Pompey. The Mazda doesn't have the clearance of the Nissan (not that the Maxima had that much more clearance). Backed into a snow bank, which turned out to be an ice bank. Small paint scratch beneath the rear bumper. I also liked having manual transmission in the snow and ice. Really, the car handled fine in the snow.

3) 62 people are valued as much as 3.6 billion.

The wealthiest 62 people worth more than the poorest half of the world. I know the right screams of the dangers of socialism, but the widening wage gap, struggles of the middle class and the cost of health care worry me more than the dangers of socialism. I'm not advocating that the United States go welfare state in the European model, but I'll go on record that the system is broken. Costs have risen while wages have been stagnant, making the American dream difficult to achieve. Not impossible, but exceptional. And if you get to a safe place financially, you're one major injury or cancer diagnosis from having to declare bankruptcy. In the meantime, the profits and net value of the wealthiest individuals and corporations have skyrocketed comparatively. Middle class income has barely changed in the last two decades. It's a gamed system that is rigged to benefit the top of society and make it difficult for the everyone else.

4) Photo of the week, I still need to go to Iceland:

5) While I hate that someone died, I'm hoping that the standoff at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon is coming to an end. I biked through Burns, Oregon when I went coast to coast in 2010. I had fond memories there. I stayed at a hotel to get out of the sun and ate at the Meat Hook. Ran into Charlie, who ended up rescuing a lost sock monkey a few days later. 

These guys who led the occupation are not patriots. They claim to love America but then disregard the laws and authority. Anyone else would be labeled threats or terrorists, but we let these guys persist because there are so many like them. Their interest is self serving and not community or national. They were never welcomed by the community they were holding siege. If change is what they wanted to invoke, what a pathetic effort they gave. In the end, nothing changed, they looked foolish and one person is unnecessarily dead.

6) Best Meme of the Week:

That said, tomorrow will be interesting and fun to watch as Iowa kicks of primary season. My prediction is that the Republican winner in Iowa, whoever it is, does not win the nomination. I think Clinton wins in Iowa with Sanders putting up a good fight.

7) So, we were not able to practice on Monday or Tuesday. That's after having to cancel practice Friday. We wrestled our last match against Tuscola on Wednesday. The match was supposed to be at Tuscola, but we moved it to Brevard. Brevard had matches against Tuscola and East Henderson left. We were able to get the win and finish and undefeated conference season. 7-0 and Conference Champions!

We carried that momentum into Saturday. We took 10 kids into the finals and had 7 champions. We also had two third place wrestlers, a fourth and a sixth. We were able to win the tournament, the first sweep of the conference and the tournament for us since 2001. We've won the tournament a few times but finished 2nd in the regular season. But I'm really proud of an great group of guys. They work hard, are good students and care for one another. 

We wrestle Tuesday in the first round of the Dual Team Playoffs. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

S7s: Blizzard of 2016

1) Big news of the week was the snowstorm that everyone was anticipating. They were calling for 8-16 inches in and around Asheville with more in higher elevations. I predicted 4 inches. From Thursday night to Saturday afternoon, we got around 12-13 inches at my house. It was 7 inches on Friday afternoon with the snow still falling. I had a lazy day and read and did some work. I did not venture out at all on Friday. On Saturday, I shoveled and walked around. Went to Sanctuary Brewing and had one of their coffee porters and saw my buddy Stewie. Today, church was cancelled and I slept in. Met Robert for a ride up to Jump Off Rock. The roads were slick, so we took mountain bikes. Very slippery coming down, but we made it safely. My toes took forever to recover from being numb.

2) Monday was Martin Luther King holiday. Tuesday was a teacher workday. Friday was a snow day. The first day of the new semester was Wednesday, so this has been a short week for teachers in Henderson County. Shorter for me because I was in Chapel Hill on Wednesday. I had to attend the Regional Wrestling Director's meeting. It was a long drive, but I got to see some of my favorite coaches like Butch Ross and David Perry. I also got to have coffee with some former North Henderson kiddos who are attending Chapel Hill. And since I wasn't going to make it back in time for practice (and then they sent the students home because of weather), I drove the extra 30 mins to Raleigh to see Suelee, David and the great nephew & niece.

3) Ran into this quote this week. Made me think about the world around me. I feel like that is what happens too often in our society.  Look at our politics. We are driven by fear. Man, what an amazing world we'd live in if we were motivated by love and hope and not driven by our fears. 

4) Speaking of great quotes, this is my favorite Martin Luther King, Jr one:

5) More migrants drown trying to reach Europe. 45 in once incident last week. If you follow my blog and my thoughts, you'll know that I have a heart for refugees. This is a fate that so many are willing to face. To me, it reveals the fate that they are trying to escape. 

6) Rivalry week for Knights Wrestling. We had matches against West Henderson and East Henderson. We had lots of highlights:
  • Monday was a JV tournament at Enka. Every kid we took either finished first or second. Future is bright for Knights Wrestling.
  • Tuesday, we hosted West Henderson and won in dominant fashion: 70-3.
  • Thursday, we wrestled a match that was scheduled for Friday but was moved up in anticipation of the weather. We beat East Henderson 60-18. It was Senior Night and a good way to send off our graduating class.
  • We also got a nice write up in the Citizen-Times this week, Record Season for Knights wrestlers

7) Looks like I get my wish, as Carolina is about 5 minutes from putting away the Cardinals and a 34 point lead. 
  • Does Peyton get to pull an Elway and go out a Super Bowl winner?
  • Cam is MVP, can he finally bring a title to Carolina?
  • Both defenses are legit. Denver made Brady look mortal for most of the game. Carolina seems to be rattling Carson Palmer and Arizona. 
  • I would like to see Manning go out on top. The Panthers are the team I pull for after the Dolphins. Mixed emotions. I guess I'll go with Carolina but I would not be upset if Denver won. 
  • Denver might be my 3rd favorite team. And they have Demaryius Thomas!