Archive for May, 2011

Donovan Foster had a hot and bloody hand in the second half against Falls City.

Blood dripped throughout the game and after as the team received congratulations from family and friends. But the blood and pain didn’t stop him from throwing three second-half touchdowns and leading his team to its second straight trip to the semifinals with a 24-21 Class 1A, Division II quarterfinal win over Falls City.

“It hurts and the blood goes everywhere when it gets like that,” said Foster. “I have to wrap it up some times when the ball starts slipping and I can’t grip it. I just do whatever I can to keep playing.”

Ganado (9-4) plays Cayuga (12-1) at 5 p.m. on Saturday at Woodforest Bank Stadium in Shenandoah. The game is a rematch of a 42-7 Cayuga semifinal win last season.

Foster threw for 129 yards in the win over Falls City, but it was the confidence he displayed in a fourth quarter which showed his character. His final two passes of the game were a 20-yard, fourth-and-12 touchdown to Josh Labay and a 15-yard completion to Wesley Demicelli to set up Glenn Sparkman’s 29-yard game-winning field goal.

“He was really composed out there in the fourth quarter and threw the ball well,” said Ganado head coach Mike Rabe. “He is a real level-headed kid on the field. He never gets panicked or felt the situation was too big for him.”

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound senior didn’t start playing quarterback until his sophomore year. He admits it’s been a work in progress becoming an all-around quarterback but knows the work is paying off. For the season, Foster has nine touchdowns and 577 passing yards. Those numbers aren’t through the roof, but he’s limited his interceptions to two and has added nine rushing touchdowns and 791 yards rushing.

“I wouldn’t call myself a passing quarterback, but I’ve been working a lot with coach Rabe on it,” said Foster, who was last year’s District 27-1A first-team quarterback. “He’s given me tons of pointers and I’ve gotten better than when I first started.”

In staying calm under pressure, Foster also gained the respect and confidence of his teammates who have been there since his passes could barely resembled a spiral.

“He’s come a long way from when he first started playing quarterback,” said Ganado senior Ross Rakowitz. “He wasn’t much of a thrower when he first started back there. Now he can throw the ball right where he needs it to go.”

Foster, who also plays cornerback for the Indians, will start playing basketball when the football season ends and said he’ll also play baseball and run track this year for Ganado.

All that can wait though. A date with Cayuga and a chance at revenge is all the senior cares about right now.

“We are going to have to play great defense and our offense has to step it up,” Foster said. “It’s going to be fun.”

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The memories of leaving San Marcos with a state volleyball championship still brings a smile to Amber Bain’s face a month after her Louise Lady Hornets claimed the Class 1A title.

“It was so loud that I couldn’t hear anything until they came across the loud speaker and said, ‘Louise is the Class 1A champions,'” Bain said. “Everyone was crying and so happy at that moment. I couldn’t believe what was going on.”

Bain and the Lady Hornets capped the 2009 season with 23 straight wins, a District 30-1A championship, Region IV championship and beat Bronte 25-19, 28-25, 25-11 for the state title. The 5-foot-11 senior was named the state tournament’s MVP after having 25 kills and six blocks in the game. Since then she’s started playing basketball for the Lady Hornets and is preparing for FFA competitions, but it’s her team’s accomplishments in volleyball that are still being talked about.

“It has been constant congratulations for us from everyone,” said Bain, who is the 2009 Advocate All-Area Player of the Year. “There have been so many people from other towns even that have come up to me and said, ‘good job’. I don’t know them, so it’s kind of weird but it’s exciting to know that you did something like that. It’s been a really cool experience for all of us.”

Along with being named the Advocate’s Player of the Year, Bain is a first-team all-state member and the District 30-1A MVP. She will also participate in the 2010 Texas Girls Coaches Association all-star game.

“When it came time to deliver, she came through for us,” said Louise head coach Bryan Branch, who was named the Advocate’s Coach of the Year. “She is calm and even-keel. I knew she was going to handle the stage and played her game. It was just another game for her even though the stage was huge. She always played with confidence in herself.”

Bain finishes the season with 502 kills and 193 blocks. She said she plans on attending Sam Houston State University next year and will try to play for the volleyball team. Branch has no doubts she has the ability to do anything she puts her mind to athletically.

“She set the standard for our volleyball program,” Branch said. “I think everyone tries to be as good as her everyday. That is a great thing, because it pushes everyone to get the most out of themselves.”

Off the court, teammate Kirsten Machicek describes Bain as someone you wouldn’t expect to be a dominant force in competition.

“She is on the shy side, but is extremely sweet,” Michicek said. “You have to know her for her to open up, but she is a great friend.

“She is unbelievable and knows exactly what she needs to do to help the team win.”

Bain competed last year in the triple jump, 100-meter hurdles, 400 relay and 800 relay at the Class 1A State Track and Field Championships. That experience along with competing in five events at state as a sophomore gave her experience and helped her this year in volleyball.

“She is a tremendous athlete,” Branch said. “She is a great track athlete, she jumps out of the gym in basketball and she is always working to get better. Her goal was to win and she led us to that point by example.”

Bain remains focused on the future and obtaining more goals, but the 2009 volleyball season may go down as her best high school memory.

“It was a great year being with all my teammates,” Bain said. “There was never a fight between any of us all year. We came to practice to get better and we worked great together in games. We were all like sisters and best friends all year.”

Memorial’s Brandon Cady more than makes up for not being the biggest, tallest or fastest player on the field.

“He has a great motor that never slows down,” said Memorial defensive coordinator Clint Finley of his sophomore linebacker. “Even when he’s confused, he can correct mistakes because he’s going so hard. I wish every kid had his intensity and motor.”

Cady has played at the weak-side, strong-side and middle linebacker positions this season. He leads Memorial with nine tackles for loss and has 13 solo tackles in his first year at the varsity level. Cady, a 5-foot-6, 175-pound defender, was on the freshman team last year but has caught on quickly to make an impact for the Vipers who would make the playoffs with a win against San Antonio East Central on Friday.

“I’ve had to work on wrapping up and holding on,” said Cady of the challenges of playing Class 5A varsity football as a sophomore. “I like to hit them as hard as I can, but when they’re a lot bigger than me I have to just hang on sometimes. I may not make the tackle, but I try to get to the ball every single play.”

The Memorial defense will be tested on Friday against East Central’s Chris Johnson. The Hornets’ senior running back has run for 1,416 yards and 14 touchdowns, but the Vipers’ defense has been strong this season against the rush. A big part of their success can be attributed to Cady, according to head coach Mickey Finley.

“He just very physically tough,” Finley said. “I don’t think he’s afraid of anything out there on the football field. He’s young and makes mistakes, but we can put up with mistakes as long as our guys are going all out. His biggest problem is over-pursuing because he’s in such a hurry to get there and hit someone.”

Along with drawing praise from his coaches, Cady has won over the support of his defensive captain, Preston Turner.

“He’s going to become a great player by the time that he’s a senior,” said Turner, who is a three-year starter and one of the most intense Vipers. “He’s going to have to work on his reads and keys, but that’s just part of being a smart football player. He’s been great for our defense.”

Cady is alone as the only Memorial sophomore getting substantial playing time this season. Freshman Brandon Salazar has been playing at receiver, but Cady has had the biggest impact of the underclassmen on defense.

“It singles me out a little because I’m the only sophomore, but I’m used to it now,” Cady said. “The seniors used to pick on me a little, but they don’t any more.”

What they are doing is enjoying having a teammate like Cady, regardless of height, size or classification.

Mickey Finley has been through almost everything during his 31 seasons as a head football coach.

He’s been to state championship games and has coached in every classification at 10 schools throughout Texas.

Now, entering his second season at Memorial, Finley is in the process of trying to turn around a program that has won three games in the past two seasons. The Vipers have not made the playoffs since 2005, and Finley knows from experience communities start to get restless.

“When you have been doing it as long as I have you learn that your job is on the line every year,” Finley said. “Pressure doesn’t affect me very much. It’s something I’ve become used to, so it doesn’t bother me. I’m going to keep coaching the same way as I’ve always done.”

Finley’s way has often resulted in success. He led Cuero to the Class 3A state final in 1993 and 1998. Finley also guided Schulenburg to an 11-1 record and a trip to the area round of the Class 2A playoffs in 2006, the year before he moved to Victoria.

Finley has been the head coach at Klondike, Comanche, Iraan, Cuero, Arlington, Cleburne and Schulenburg during his career.

Lessons have been learned at each stop, including how to deal with criticism.

“You always have to sit and listen to people talking bad about what you’re doing,” said Mickey’s son Clint, who played for his father at Cuero and is the Vipers’ defensive coordinator. “But you grow used to it and have thick skin. You never like it, but I know it doesn’t bother him like it used to.”

The pressures of winning have not been lost on the players. They know it is their turn to show what they’ve learned.

“We’re the ones playing and the only ones on the field,” senior fullback Alex Barbosa said. “We have to step up and do things the right way. They have taught us how to play, now it’s up to us to go out there and do it.”

The head coach of any football team will be a lightning rod, attracting praise and negative attention.

Experience has taught Finley that talent and execution are the biggest factors in determining the outcome of games.

“I really hope we’ve put together a good football team,” Finley said. “Not for me, but for the sake of the kids. They’ve worked so hard to get better. They deserve to feel the success that they’ve been working for.”

Memorial has worked throughout the offseason to improve, and has expanded its multiple-option offense. The Vipers will run a no-huddle offense this season, a move Finley hopes will play to their strengths.

Finley also expects to see improvement from the defense.

“Our kids are more familiar with the program and what we’re trying to get accomplished,” Finley said. “We’re so much stronger than last year and can play a base-type defense. I felt last year we had to do a lot more stunts that got us in some trouble. I think we can stand toe-to-toe and win those battles this year.”

The pressure to make the playoffs may not permeate the locker room, but the Vipers don’t want to think about going 2-8 again.

“The whole town is looking for us to be a winning team,” junior defensive lineman Preston Turner said. “It’s a lot of pressure for us, but we’ve been working really hard since the last game we played. It’s up to us as players on how this season is going to go.”

Originally published August 29, 2008

AUSTIN – Nothing the Hallettsville Lady Brahmas could have accomplished would have taken away the pain the team, school or community felt after the tragic death of Tyler Bludau.

No victory can accelerate the grieving process or make people forget.

Even with the team’s first trip to the state softball tournament, there is still a piece of Hallettsville that is missing and will not return. A 15-0 win in the championship game wouldn’t have changed it. That is the reality of a horrible situation.

All the Lady Brahmas could do was play softball and move forward in their lives. They played with the purpose of LB for TB, and it hasn’t been easy for the 15 players, two statisticians, three coaches and their fans. No one knew how to react after Tyler’s death. After all, does a simple game like softball even matter after something as terrible as a friend’s death?

The team pulled together and never stopped talking to each other in an attempt to avoid silence. They also pulled together and created cheers.

The bleachers at McCombs Field on Saturday were full of Hallettsville fans, most wearing maroon shirts with “LB for TB” on the back of them. Signs of encouragement and remembrance were on the fences and in the dugout. Players had Bludau’s baseball No. 3 and the letters TB painted on their faces.

Tyler Bludau was not there physically, but his memory was overwhelmingly evident.

“We were doing this for Tyler,” Hallettsville senior Callie Herrington said. “It has been really tough for everyone, but we pulled through together.”

After the final out of a 32-10 season was made, the Lady Brahmas stood down the first base line as the second best Class 2A softball team in the entire state. They had just lost 3-0 to Brock in the state championship game, but their heads were held high and they were composed well beyond their age. Their parents and the community (including Tyler Bludau’s parents) stood in the stands smiling and cheering as the team were handed the Class 2A runner-up trophy and medals.

Nothing has been easy the past two weeks, but Hallettsville made it further than any other team in its program’s history ever had.

The Lady Brahmas had found their escape, gave the community a reason to cheer, to smile and to feel proud. And the town did the same for the Lady Brahmas.

“The support shown to us by the community is just awesome,” said Hallettsville head coach Mike Mikeska. “Words can’t describe the emotion I felt looking into the stands and seeing everyone here for us.”

Lady Brahmas for Tyler Bludau says it all.

HALLETTSVILLE – Going through hitting drills with music blaring from car speakers is how the Hallettsville softball team spent the first day of at least a two-week hiatus from the start of the playoffs.

The Lady Brahmas are the second seed out of District 26-2A after losing 4-1 on Tuesday against East Bernard (31-2) for the top seed.

They were set for a Class 2A bi-district match up against Salado (15-7) on Friday. That’s been pushed back now, along with all other U.I.L. events due to the swine flu outbreak.

“We have always been a team that stays loose during practice and leading up to games,” Hallettsville catcher Emilie Jansky said. “Hopefully, we can stay that way while we wait to play. I don’t really like that we aren’t going to play, but we’ll be all right.

Hallettsville (22-7) is making its 13th consecutive trip to the postseason. The Lady Brahmas advanced to area last season where they were eliminated by Rosebud-Lott.

“We will probably take a day or two off during that time, but we are going to be practicing like normal to stay sharp most of the time,” Hallettsville head coach Mike Mikeska said of his plans for dealing with games being suspended until at least May 11. “It may be a little difficult because our routine is going to be broken, but every team is going through the same thing. We just have to keeping working hard.”

The Lady Brahmas are not strangers to adjusting. The team was without three starters who played basketball and did not join the team until two weeks after the season started because of their run in the playoffs.

Those players immediately came to the softball field after being eliminated from the basketball playoffs and have experience of not being in the typical softball routine.

“We know we can’t lose the passion for the game or lose focus,” said Hallettsville senior Callie Herrington, who was on the basketball team and has signed to play college softball with Centenary College. “We have to keep building even during this period without any games. We are playing really well with our defense really doing great.”

Haley Leopold leads the team with a .490 batting average, while Timisha North is hitting .417. Pitching-wise, twin sisters Lauren and Lindsey Steffek lead the team in wins with eight and seven respectively. Cherise Klekar tops the team with 63 strikeouts, giving the Lady Brahmas a three-pitcher rotation to go along with a team batting average that is over .300.

“Our strength is that we are a complete team,” said Leopold, who has signed with Western Texas College to play softball. “We are really solid on defense and pitching and we’ve been hitting.”

The Lady Brahmas do not know when or where they will play Salado, but feel like they’re peaking at the right time.

“We have three great pitchers who I won’t hesitate to turn to and I’ll stack our hitting up against anybody,” Mikeska said. “We’re all feeling really good about where we are at.”

Kellen Winslow, then a tight end playing football for the University of Miami, received massive criticism for mixing the vocabularies of sports and war during postgame comments.
“It’s war,” Winslow is quoted in an Associated Press article in 2003. “They’re out there to kill you, so I’m out there to kill them… I’m a soldier.”
In his article, “The Politics of the Pitch: Claiming and Contesting Democracy Through the Iraqi National Soccer Team”, Michael L. Butterworth examined a similar controversy involving President George W. Bush’s use of the Iraq soccer team’s success during the 2004 Olympics. Using Iraq’s soccer success as a “rhetorical metaphor” is an intercultural communication issue which involves different cultural mindsets, politics and sport.
This is seen in one of the Bush administration’s slogans during the 2004 presidential campaign which stated, “Freedom is spreading through the world like sunrise”. The advertisement, which came after a first-round win for Iraq over Portugal and portrayed the victory, was released while the Iraq war was being fought.
Iraq had not been allowed to compete in an Olympic game since being banned in 1990 and was used as a symbol by the press and politicians. To some, it works well because it showed how through America’s intervention and “liberation” of the Iraqi people freedoms that were once not available were now available for Iraqis. To others, including some members of the soccer team, the appropriateness of the comparison of sporting success with the realities being experienced in Iraq was not accepted. An unidentified member of the Iraqi soccer team disagreed with the metaphor and sent Bush a message
stating, “You cannot speak about a team that represents freedom. We do not have freedom in Iraq, we have an occupying force.”
Butterworth argues President George W. Bush is taking credit for the Iraqi soccer success and also him trying to cast his own cultural values and definition of democracy on Iraq. President Bush’s communication did play well to those who believed freedom was increasing throughout the world and his message was seen in a positive light. His ultimate goal of reelection was achieved.
Connecting sports and politics is not attempted with regularity, while examples of sports language such as trenches, bomb, kill and warrior are commonly used by athletes and announcers as description. An example is in the sports culture with a ‘bomb’ being a pass from a quarterback to a receiver which goes for a long touchdown or gain. In war, a ‘bomb’ destroys objects and severely injures or kills people. The differences are obvious to most, but being cognizant of the possibility of negative reactions should always be on the minds of communicators.
Some will dismiss Butterworth’s arguments as political disagreement with President George W. Bush or political correctness in the cases of sport/war metaphors, but weighing the pros and cons while delivering a message requires knowledge of all potential audiences. Using metaphors can work in communication, but it’s clear from history dangers exist when attempting them. In Winslow’s case, an apology was quickly made but damage was irreversible.
“After speaking with the press, I immediately regretted my comments and felt embarrassed for my family, my team, the University of Miami, our fans, alumni and
myself,” Winslow said. “I cannot begin to imagine the magnitude of war or its consequences.”