HS FB POLL: 9/20/21

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Before we take a look at this week’s “SportsTalk” high school football poll for teams in the RCN viewing area, I want to give people a heads-up of some “can’t miss” episodes of the RCN SportsTalk show over the next few weeks!

Our guests and show topics will include…

Coaches and players from this year’s PIAA State Champion  Allentown Central Catholic Vikings

Legendary Emmaus Field Hockey Head Coach Sue Butz-Stavin, who is closing in on 1,000 coaching victories for her career

Good Counsel Head Football Coach Andy Stefanelli of the DMV, discussing MaxPrep’s declaration that he’s playing one of the top five most competitive schedules in the country

Doctors and athletic trainers discussing the continuing concerns and issues in playing sports and suggested precautions to utilize to stay healthy in the COVID-10 era

Last but certainly not least, RCN’s Gary Laubach will talk Lafayette football, local sports issues and will also reveal some personal news about himself and his great career

Make sure you set reminders, schedule your DVRs and check out the shows through On-Demand (free for RCN customers) for some of the biggest shows and very important interviews!

Each new show will debut on Thursday evenings at 7 pm on RCN-TV!

**********

Now, it’s time to look at this week’s input from the RCN SportsTalk pollsters — a random collection of local coaches, athletic directors and media members.

Our preseason #1 team — the Parkland Trojans — are now the ONLY Eastern Pennsylvania Conference South’s undefeated team through the first four weeks of the season. Parkland defeated Freedom, 19-15 last Friday night. If you missed the game, RCN customers can watch it for free through RCN On Demand!

Our #2 and #3 teams (Freedom and Nazareth) face off against each other this Friday. You can watch that game live on RCN TV at 7pm.

Our preseason top Colonial League team — Notre Dame also remains undefeated, after a hard-fought win over Northern Lehigh. Northwestern, our number two preseason team, also is 4-0.

Below we have high school polls for both leagues in the RCN viewing area, along with the listing of all of the teams that are included in our respective categories.

Feel free to email me at Chris.Michael@rcn.net for your thoughts on this week’s poll and we might read and respond to your emails on this week’s SportsTalk show.

EPC-LV TOP 5

1) Parkland
2) Freedom
3) Nazareth
4) Emmaus
5) Central Catholic

Eligible Teams (in no particular order): Allentown Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, Easton, Freedom, Liberty, Dieruff, Allen, Parkland, Whitehall, Emmaus, Nazareth, and Northampton

COLONIAL TOP 5

1) Notre Dame-GP
2) Northwestern
3) Bangor
4) Wilson
5) Catasauqua

Eligible Teams (in no particular order): Bangor, Pen Argyl, Notre Dame – Green Pond, Wilson, Catasauqua, Salisbury, Saucon Valley, Northwestern, Northern Lehigh, Southern Lehigh and Palisades

Be sure to bookmark our high school football broadcast schedule here on the website and check it frequently as, with several games already postponed or canceled so far this season, there could be changes from day to day.

HS FB POLL: 9/13/21

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Here are three local sports observations before we take a look at this week’s “SportsTalk” high school football poll for teams in the RCN viewing area.

#1
We were happy to bring home a very special ceremony at halftime of the Liberty / Whitehall game last Friday, which featured the official retirement of Saquon Barkley’s high school jersey.

The current New York Giants running back gave a speech thanking his high school coaches, administrators and classmates and seemed genuinely touched by the event, which also  featured his brother and parents. The halftime ceremony included many former Zephyr coaches and players, including former New England Patriots center Dan Koppen, who won a Super Bowl ring with Tom Brady.

The RCN crew did a great job broadcasting the event. If you missed it, RCN customers can check out the ceremony for free through RCN On Demand!

#2
Covid reared its ugly head cancelling or forcing the rescheduling of four teams’ games in our viewing area.

That being said, it was great to be out and about broadcasting games from the stadium this past weekend for the first time in one and a half years. A big thank-you to the crew for doing a great job while observing Covid protocols to bring you the sights and sounds of this weekend’s RCN broadcasts. Also, thanks to the local athletic directors and personnel from the various school districts for welcoming us back to their stadiums!

#3
In local soccer, the Emmaus boys team was not too thrilled when the local papers published their high school soccer polls for the fall and the Hornets were NOT picked as the team to beat.

Emmaus was the defending district champion and came within a whisker of winning a state championship last fall (losing to perennial power Neshaminy, 2-1, in double overtime).  Even with a number of talented players returning from that squad, a few teams ranked higher than the Hornets in the pre-season polls.  Both their players and longtime head coach John Cari were very vocal about those predictions and made a few claims of their own.

You can hear their comments for yourself on this week’s edition of RCN SportsTalk, Thursday at 7pm on RCN-TV.  (We’ll also have more Emmaus-related sports news next week here at “The Shop!”)

**********

That brings us to this week’s input from the RCN SportsTalk pollsters — a random collection of local coaches, athletic directors and media members. We never announce or release the names of our non-media voters to get their honest opinions on the local football landscape while avoiding any thoughts of retribution or potential “bulletin board” material.  Our “media voters” usually reveal themselves when we have the pleasure of having them on our weekly SportsTalk program, seen on Thursday nights on RCN TV and available through RCN on Demand.

Below, we have high school polls for both leagues in the RCN viewing area, along with the listing of all of the teams that are included in our respective categories.

Feel free to email me at Chris.Michael@rcn.net for your thoughts on this week’s poll and we might read and respond to your emails on this week’s SportsTalk show.

EPC-LV TOP 5
1) Parkland
2) Central Catholic
3) Whitehall
4) Emmaus
5-tie) Freedom/Nazareth

Eligible Teams (in no particular order): Allentown Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, Easton, Freedom, Liberty, Dieruff, Allen, Parkland, Whitehall, Emmaus, Nazareth, and Northampton

COLONIAL TOP 5
1) Notre Dame-GP
2) Northwestern
3) Wilson
4) Bangor
5) Northern Lehigh

Eligible Teams (in no particular order): Bangor, Pen Argyl, Notre Dame – Green Pond, Wilson, Catasauqua, Salisbury, Saucon Valley, Northwestern, Northern Lehigh, Southern Lehigh and Palisades

Be sure to bookmark our high school football broadcast schedule here on the website and check it frequently as, with several games already postponed or canceled so far this season, there could be changes from day to day.

HS FB POLL: 9/7/21

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Here are 3 local sports observations, before we take a look at this week’s “SportsTalk” high school football poll for teams in the RCN viewing area.

#1  Hats off to our “SportsTalk” pollsters again–already shining through the first two weeks of the season!

While every other Lehigh Valley media outlet had Freedom or Easton as the “teams to beat” in 2021 in the EPC or in the entire region, our voters had Parkland in the number one spot and Emmaus third.  Both the Trojans and the Hornets were victorious last weekend, beating the Red Rovers and the Patriots respectively.  Great job RCN football voters!!

#2  The Colonial League also had some very entertaining contests last weekend.  

Northwestern had a thrilling 34-33 win in a Thursday night matchup, and Bangor and Wilson have jumped out to impressive 2-0 starts this year, winning in landslide fashion.  The league looks as balanced as ever through the first two weeks of the regular season.

Also, Notre Dame, the team we saw last week on RCN, continued to earn its #1 ranking in our poll beating last week’s #4 team Southern Lehigh, and, for the moment, knocked the Spartans out of our “Top 5” spots. 

#3  RCN broadcast the first ever Eastern Pennsylvania Conference South game from the “new” Cottingham Stadium last week–a broadcast that was picked up and shown across the state on the Pennsylvania Cable Network.  

Hats off to the crews of both RCN and PCN to bring home the historic game to audiences across the Commonwealth.  By the way, if you missed the Easton coaches and players talking about all the new aspects (and their favorite parts) of their new digs, check out last week’s RCN SportsTalk show..it’s available for free for RCN customers through RCN on demand.

**********

That brings us to this week’s input from the RCN SportsTalk pollsters — a random collection of local coaches, athletic directors and media members. We never announce nor release the names of our non-media voters to get their honest opinions on the local football landscape while avoiding any thoughts of retribution or potential “bulletin board” material.  Our “media voters” usually reveal themselves when we have the pleasure of having them on our weekly SportsTalk program, seen on Thursday nights on RCN TV and available through RCN on Demand.

Below we have high school polls for both leagues in the RCN viewing area, along with the listing of all of the teams that are included in our respective categories.

Feel free to email me at Chris.Michael@rcn.net for your thoughts on this week’s poll and we might read and respond to your emails on this week’s SportsTalk show.

EPC-LV TOP 5

1) Parkland

2) Emmaus

3) Nazareth

4) Freedom

5) Whitehall

Eligible Teams (in no particular order):
Allentown Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, Easton, Freedom, Liberty, Dieruff, Allen, Parkland, Whitehall, Emmaus, Nazareth, and Northampton


COLONIAL TOP 5

1) Notre Dame

2) Northwestern

3) Northern Lehigh

4) Bangor

5) Wilson

Eligible Teams (in no particular order):
Bangor, Pen Argyl, Notre Dame – Green Pond, Wilson, Catasauqua, Salisbury, Saucon Valley, Northwestern, Northern Lehigh, Southern Lehigh and Palisades


Be sure to bookmark our high school football broadcast schedule here on the website and check it frequently as, with several games already postponed or canceled so far this season, there could be changes from day to day.

 

HS FB POLL: 8/30/21

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Here are three local sports observations, before we take a look at week one of our “SportsTalk” high school football poll for teams in the RCN viewing area.

#1
COVID news entered the high school sports picture last weekend as two games–one of them less than 48 hours before kickoff–were scrapped because of a reported case of the outbreak.  While many coaches were pretty much told to “proceed as normal” a couple months ago, they spent a good portion of the last several days going back and revamping team procedures, how practices are conducted, implementing mandatory mask-wearing and other practices that we were all hoping we would not need to discuss during the sports calendar year.

#2
As usual, the EPC-South dominated the opening weekend of high school football with only one “North” team securing a victory. Many victorious teams won their game by over 50-point spreads. Things figure to get much tighter this weekend.  Easton will host its first Lehigh Valley opponent–Parkland–at their new stadium this Friday night.  The game will also feature the #1 and #3 ranked teams in our poll (see below) and should be a good contest to watch on  RCN-TV this weekend.

#3
A great idea to follow local sports action this fall is to bookmark the RCN-TV broadcast schedule posted here on our website.  Before the season even kicked off last week and the COVID-cancelled events occurred, there were multiple changes to this fall’s schedule due to school district changes, stadium occupancy issues and other factors.  Therefore, it is very important you keep checking back to our schedule as things change more than ever!

**********

That brings us to this week’s input from the RCN SportsTalk pollsters — a random collection of local coaches, athletic directors and media members. We never announce nor release the names of our non-media voters to get their honest opinions on the local football landscape while avoiding any thoughts of retribution or potential “bulletin board” material.  Our “media voters” usually reveal themselves when we have the pleasure of having them on our weekly SportsTalk program, seen on Thursday nights on RCN TV and available through RCN on Demand.

This year, instead of having a big school and small school poll as in seasons past, we are going to break the two polls down into EPC and Colonial League schools within the RCN broadcast area.  This season will be unique in which Colonial teams will be cross-scheduling and playing teams from the Schuylkill League, so our poll will be an interesting barometer for teams in the Lehigh Valley since many local teams will not be playing the majority of teams within their own leagues!

So below we have high school polls for both leagues in the RCN viewing area, along with the listing of all of the teams that are included in our respective categories.

Feel free to email me at Chris.Michael@rcn.net for your thoughts on this week’s poll and we might read and respond to your emails on this week’s SportsTalk show.

EPC-LV TOP 5

1) Parkland

2) Freedom

3) Easton

4)  Emmaus

5)  Nazareth 

Eligible Teams (in no particular order):
Allentown Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, Easton, Freedom, Liberty, Dieruff, Allen, Parkland, Whitehall, Emmaus, Nazareth, and Northampton


COLONIAL TOP 5

1) Notre Dame

2) Northwestern

3) Northern Lehigh

4) Saucon Valley

5)  Bangor

Eligible Teams (in no particular order):
Bangor, Pen Argyl, Notre Dame – Green Pond, Wilson, Catasauqua, Salisbury, Saucon Valley, Northwestern, Northern Lehigh, Southern Lehigh and Palisades

On this week’s “SportsTalk”…

Our guests will include members of the Easton football team talking about their fall sports program and also giving their thoughts on a special night this Friday–the first EPC-Lehigh Valley Division game at the “NEW” Cottingham Stadium.  Construction was completed a few weeks ago on the exact same spot as the “old” stadium–that same block has been holding high school football games for nearly 100 years.  Friday will be a special night for local sports fans, and RCN will have the historic game live at 7pm!

A New Season!

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

High school football season is nearly here!

Much like last year, the emphasis on the preseason activities over the last few weeks has been less “X-s and O-s” and more talk about COVID protocols, adjustments made this preseason, “possible” changes for the fall (and staying “flexible”) and the increased emphasis on keeping everyone safe.

That being said, it should be an intriguing year on the field for high school football as the current plan for this fall looks more “normal” than in 2020 — but that could change.

One of the things I’m most looking forward to in the upcoming sports year is welcoming new on-air personalities to our sports broadcasts. You’ll be seeing and hearing more about them in the coming weeks and months, but here’s just a little bit of information about the new members of the RCN TV sports family…

Megan Kane: A multiple league and district winning head coach at Southern Lehigh High School and an assistant coach with the multiple-MAC champion DeSales University women’s basketball team. Known as one of the best prepared coaches in the area, she will be the first woman to broadcast a men’s game in Lehigh Valley history.

Okezie Alozie: One of the top Lehigh Valley running backs in the early 2010s. Okezie went on to have an outstanding Division I college career at the University of Buffalo and earned tryouts for several NFL teams. He was named an All–American Honorable Mention by Pro Football Focus and an All–MAC selection in 2015 as a Safety & Linebacker. Okezie returned to the Lehigh Valley in 2016 to reside with his family in Bethlehem while coaching 7on7 football for Diamond Athletics. 

Josh Young: A three-sport standout at Freedom High School and a two-sport athlete at Franklin and Marshall College. He earned the NAACP student-athlete award in high school and was on the diversity council in the Bethlehem School District. He’ll be working the sidelines this fall in-between his commitments to attend games to cheer on his younger brother, Joe, for Harvard University football games (his brother is the team’s starting quarterback.)  A former wrestler, you may also see him giving his opinions “on the mats” for RCN telecasts in the winter months.

Dante Terenzio: Local wrestling coach and sports writer for The Morning Call. He has been a frequent contributor on the “RCN SportsTalk” programs and will be handling football play-by-play this fall.  When available, he will also assist with our basketball and wrestling broadcasts, in-between coaching, teaching and chasing after his two young baby girls (his second was born this past February).

Please welcome these new announcers and their unique viewpoints, experiences and insights on local sports.  Be on the lookout for more new faces joining our family in the months to come!

**********

Before the high school football season gets underway it’s time to unveil our preseason top five teams for both the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference and the Colonial League.

Below we have high school polls for both leagues in the RCN viewing area, along with the listing of all of the teams that are included in our respective categories.

Feel free to email me at Chris.Michael@rcn.net for your thoughts on this week’s poll and we might read and respond to your emails on this week’s SportsTalk show.

EPC-LV TOP 5

1) Parkland

2) Freedom

3) Emmaus

4) Easton

5) Bethlehem Catholic

Eligible Teams (in no particular order):
Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, Easton, Freedom, Liberty, Dieruff, Allen, Parkland, Whitehall, Emmaus, Nazareth, and Northampton

COLONIAL TOP 5

1) Notre Dame

2) Northwestern

3) Northern Lehigh

4) Southern Lehigh

5) Saucon Valley

Eligible Teams (in no particular order):
Bangor, Pen Argyl, Notre Dame – Green Pond, Wilson, Catasauqua, Salisbury, Saucon Valley, Northwestern, Northern Lehigh, Southern Lehigh and Palisades

Be sure to bookmark our high school football broadcast schedule here on the website and check it frequently as, with several games already postponed or canceled so far this season, there could be changes from day to day.

On this week’s “SportsTalk”…

We’ll have our official high school football preview show, featuring observations and predictions about the upcoming season, as well as interviews with local coaches and players as we get ready to kick off the season this Friday night.  Tune in this Thursday at 7pm on RCN-TV and get ready for the fall season!

 

SUMMER “MELTS” 2021

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Despite much uncertainty and a few local organizations hampered by possible health issues, we were able to bring many of our regular summer sports activities to our RCN TV audience over the last couple months.

While a couple annual events were canceled because of COVID, we did bring you to high school baseball championship games, the McDonald’s all-star football classic and, with the exception of two rainouts, a full slate of Blue Mountain League baseball “game of the week” contests.

Below are the melts (aka, “highlights”) from all of these events. If you missed the broadcast or wanted to see them again, many are still available for RCN viewers to watch for free through our on-demand services. To purchase a copy of these games, you can call 610-443-2909 to order DVDs.

RCN Sports: Northampton Giants vs Limeport Dodgers (7/21)

RCN Sports: McDonald’s All-Star Football Classic (6/21)

RCN Sports: Orioles vs Limeport Bulls (7/21)

RCN Sports: Orioles vs Northern Yankees (7/21)

RCN Sports: Pleasant Valley Bears vs. Emmaus Hornets (5/21)

RCN Sports: Parkland Trojans vs. Emmaus Hornets (5/21)

RCN Sports: Northampton Giants vs. Hellertown Royals (6/21)

We will continue to get you ready for the fall sports season on our Thursday night RCN SportsTalk show.  On this week’s show, we’ll continue featuring some of the new head football coaches in our viewing area by introducing you to the new Liberty coach along with several of his players on this year’s team.

Next week, we will interview the new athletic director at Wilson Area High School…a man who was on our program almost 10 years ago as a star player on that same school’s district winning football squad.  We will reminisce a little with him along with talking about a few key, and somewhat controversial, issues heading into the fall scholastic sports season.

BASKETBALL’S “LOST IN TRANSITION”

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

I have been holding off on writing this week’s blog topic for some time now.

It was not an easy entry to write and one that I frankly didn’t enjoy writing.  I also know full-well that some people might take offense to it.

But, for people who REALLY care about our kids, its’ time has come.

*******

I have been around basketball a long time.

I grew up watching local legendary head coach Dick Tracy teaching the game… which included a close-up view of his state championship winning team (somewhere in my parents basement, I still have their title win’s T-shirt).

I spent my college and early career years having the privilege of seeing another legend, John Chaney, work his magic during his famed early morning workouts at Temple University.

When I covered the Philadelphia 76ers for Sportsradio WIP, I had the opportunity to witness shootarounds under the watchful eye of Hall of Famer Larry Brown.

I currently have the good fortune of being around some of the best high school and college coaches every winter and summer…and I’ve spent a good amount of time listening to all of them.

For several years now, I have heard coaches at higher levels comment on the problems they have with the way the game is being played.  The three most fundamental issues that I hear these coaches say are…

Kids don’t like to play defense

Kids “fall in love with” and shoot too many “three-s”

Kids don’t utilize the bounce pass

In full disclosure, I was not a great athlete and never played varsity basketball myself, but I do listen to people.  Based on the individuals I have been and am around on a regular basis, my experience does tell me that you won’t get many tried-and-true basketball minds ANYWHERE to disagree with any of these three statements.

I have also spent a good amount of time in recent years watching youth basketball.  Again, based on my experiences being around the game and by listening to many coaches, officials and other knowledgeable people who watch our youth basketball in Eastern Pennsylvania, I constantly hear the following three statements more than anything else…

Kids don’t like to play defense

Kids shoot too many “threes”

Kids hate making bounce passes

See any similarities?

I’ve been expressing these sentiments to a lot of people this past winter and I have gotten very interesting responses and some great ideas. One suggestion made by RCN-TV’s own statistician, Jack Ebner, was to eliminate the “three point shot” all the way up to the ninth grade level.  That way, kids can actually learn to play the game from inside the arc and not rely on just shooting long-range jumpers.

The response to that idea (and other, similar suggestions) from the youth coaches and organizers I spoke with the last several months? “Oh, the kids will NEVER go for that.”

Now, I want to make it clear that coaching youth programs is not an easy position.  There are many great local youth coaches that put in more time, energy and quality teaching strategies than others.

Many (including myself) are not paid for their services.  Also, parents paying money for their kids to play at youth programs hold a great deal of weight and influence into a program’s execution.  Most youth coaches don’t have a lot of support to stand their ground when dealing with these “paying customers.”

But there seems to be a growing disconnect (and it’s getting worse every year) between learning the game in youth leagues and properly executing it at higher levels.  There’s increasingly less coaching and more coddling going on in youth sports — and, in the long run, it’s not good for the kids’ benefit.

At some point, if you want young people to learn the game of basketball, you have to TEACH the right way to play it.  Just because it’s “not something they want to hear” doesn’t mean it’s not something you tell them.

The game that Coach Tracy, Coach Chaney and many, many great basketball minds loved and cherished has truly evolved…our society now dictates that if you (or your kids) don’t like what one coach says or does, you just go find someone who does–or at least one who will tolerate an ignorance for the game.  And the more athletically blessed you are, the less you need to listen…and the “higher” the level you can do this at.

Is this really the message you want young people to learn?  Shouldn’t youth sports really be about teaching the way the game should be played?  Don’t you want kids learning how to develop good listening and application skills and having coaches stress things like fundamentals and teamwork?

Unfortunately, I think we all know the answer to these questions.

BML Baseball Update 2021

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Coming up this week on “RCN SportsTalk,” it’s our annual chat with members of the Blue Mountain League, along with a friendly reminder that you can check out our “BML Game of the Week” every Tuesday evening in July on RCN-TV.

Scheduled to appear on this week’s program are BML President Bob Varju, Vice-President Ted Plessl, Secretary/Treasurer/Media Relations Liaison Tim Fisher, along with new team managers Nate Kester (Northampton Giants) and Joey Troxell (Hellertown Royals).

In addition to taking a look at the first two-and-a-half months of this summer’s baseball action, there are a number of topics we will focus on.  These include:

  • The personal history of Giants’ Nate Kester–he started in the league in 2010, ironically with current VP Ted Plessl (who was then manager of the now defunct Bethlehem Hawks). He started his BML career as a senior in high school and played with that team through 2014.  He then changed teams to Northampton after the Hawks folded, and struck up an amazing, close relationship with then Giants manager and longtime BML player Ed Wandler.  Kester describes Ed as a “father” to him and offered him the managerial job this past year when Wandler had to retire due to health issues.
  • “Change of Scheduling”
    Over the last year, they have changed the way they compile the regular season schedules.  It’s now based largely on avoiding traffic/congestion issues and also working around community ballparks’ priorities (the BML use to have first dibs, but now are sometimes second or third in priority for getting fields, so the BML now has to work around other leagues’ schedules).
  • To that end, the BML now starts with a Sunday/Tuesday/Thursday plan, then adjustments are made and Saturdays are left open for rain/rescheduled games…or allowing for a family day if a team wants to avoid playing on that day–if possible. More scheduling issues and changes for this season will be discussed.
  • They have added roster spots to allow for more players on each team, combined with a deadline that “freezes” the roster (which just occurred this past weekend) for the playoffs.

Regarding the almost annual issue of “losing daylight” for their championship series (which usually takes place in mid-August, when the sunset time moves in front of 8pm), a proposal is made every year to have the finals at Limeport Stadium (which has lights)…only to be rejected.  We’ll learn more about this idea and discuss why this suggestion is NOT employed to avoid having games being called “on account of darkness.”

There’s many more issues we will discuss, along with some general thoughts on baseball overall, the top teams and players will be identified, and much more!  If you like local baseball and want to learn more about the BML…tune in this Thursday at 7pm on RCN-TV, set your DVRs and/or watch the show through RCN On-Demand!

 

The Sports Talk Shop: Summer Hoops – July 2021

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

We continue to keep you posted on the local summer high school basketball leagues in the RCN viewing area.

On the one hand, a few of the regular league and tournaments have been held–some with the same number of teams as usual, others with dramatically lower turnouts.

The Holy Name girls tourney was held recently (a month later than “normal”) and Jim Thorpe came into the Lehigh Valley and surprised some very good teams by bringing home the championship.  Nazareth, Easton and hosting Allentown Central Catholic were the local contributors that played very well.

The Nazareth boys basketball team has come on strong of late and captured the “JamFest” title in Allentown the previous weekend.  The Blue Eagles had a very young team last winter and those underclassmen might just be hitting their stride.  Keep an eye on Nazareth this winter — they should be fun to watch once this upcoming season gets underway.

Also, the summer league in Forks Township had a good month.  Notre-Dame, Wilson, Lehigh Christian Academy and Bangor have been some of the top teams that I have seen so far.

Meanwhile, areas like Catasauqua, the Slate Belt, Stiles and other regions continue to struggle this summer–either having issues fielding teams and/or conducting their regular tournaments.

TOC Director Eric Snyder was just on RCN SportsTalk last week to provide an update on the struggles many squads are having this summer.  Eric, the longtime head basketball coach at Catasauqua High School, chose our program to announce some significant breaking and exclusive news concerning his career — along with sharing some controversial opinions on some key local basketball and baseball topics.

If you missed last week’s show, be sure to check it out (free for RCN customers) through our On-Demand services!

Also, checking back next month for our final update on the scholastic summer basketball scene!

CATCHING UP & GIVING BACK

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

I’ve always said, I’ve been very fortunate to meet some amazing people in my life.

From the time I first broke into the broadcasting business until now, I remain just as lucky to stay in very close contact with some wonderful people and consider many of them close friends … even when we don’t see each other in person very often or as much as we used to.

Their generosity in sharing their time and advice to me has been the main driving force behind me continuing to speak to students at local school districts and making myself available to young aspiring broadcasting students.  I’ve never hesitated to give people my email (which is chris.michael@rcn.net) to give advice or answer any questions about the communications industry. I’m proud to say that there’s a long line of former students with whom I worked or gave advice to, who have gone on to achieve some wonderful accomplishments in this business.

I am also not alone in being a big fan of “giving back.”

I had the opportunity to check-in with a number of “old friends” recently.

A few include…

I frequently would cross paths with long-time Pittsburgh Pirates play-by-play announcer Lanny Frattare when I covered the Phillies in the early 2000s.  Lanny was one of a number of extremely classy and generous Major League Baseball broadcasters–nearly all of them were always congenial, friendly and very helpful to a (then) young announcer who was looking for tips on advancing in his career.

Frattare has used his vast knowledge of the communications industry along with his ability to work well with young people by working as an assistant professor for Waynesburg University for over ten years now.  In addition to being a great instructor, he’s constantly staying in touch with his former students and is very quick to reach out to alums with potential job opportunities for them.

When I covered the NFL and other pro sports teams for CBS Radio in New York City, a frequent colleague in the press box and on practice fields was Michael Longo.  Mike was not only a wonderful person and a great help to me in my earlier years (and still was in good shape when I saw him at a Phillies game two years ago) but was part of a dynamic broadcasting partnership.

His wife was Donna McQuillian, who may have been THE nicest person to me on my first professional sports reporting gigs.  McQuillian was, like me, a Temple University broadcast alum and immediately took me under her wing in showing me the “ropes.”  McQuillian was an early pioneer–she was the ONLY woman covering Philly pro sports teams for many years and was a true professional in the locker rooms and during live reports.  Both Michael and Donna were extremely giving of their knowledge and worked with young people throughout their careers.  Sadly, we lost Donna a few years ago to cancer, but Mike continues to work with aspiring broadcasters for a trade school in New Jersey.

Former colleague and frequent “SportsTalk” guest Jon Marks has also kept busy.  In addition to hosting the afternoon drive time show for Sportsradio WIP in Philadelphia, he splits his “spare” time hosting a national sports show on the weekend and teaching broadcasting students at a couple schools in the Delaware Valley area.

Even though he and his wife have been extra busy the last few years — they have two adorable and highly energetic kids — Jon continues to work with up-and-coming on-air personalities.  He’s actually one of three of my former co-workers at my old stomping grounds in Philly who teaches communication courses.

Giving back is something everyone can do and there are many ways to accomplish this.  I am extremely grateful to have so many quality role-models…both for my career and for myself as a person.  I consider myself very fortunate to have learned their valuable lessons and still have the opportunity to chat with many of these classy individuals to this day.