The Thrill of Victory, The Agony of Defeat

Let’s get the worst out of the way, first. I went to the track yesterday, a last chance for foolishness at Fairmount’s “horse hookey,” the last matinee racing before the start of the school year. At this point in my personal education, I know enough to get myself in trouble at a horse track. There’s something about the same horses, the same riders, the same ticket takers, the same beer vendors, the same scenes played out over an entire summer that make you think you’ve got it figured it. But you don’t. That’s the worst place to be, in the realm of half-knowledge. That nebulous place in which you feel you can work some kinda angle, but you can’t.

You’re a sucker. And when you can’t afford to lose $30 and you lose $30, at least you know you’re a sucker.

At that point, you need a pick-me-up.

And, as sports go, on any level, you can hook into the crushing lows and jubilant highs.They come and they go.

Yesterday afternoon, still mulling over those failed straight exactas and boxed trifectas, the word came in and the word was good.

All four kids that I coached last fall, now heading into their freshman years of high school and trying out for their respective soccer teams, made said teams. Four-f0r-four and I couldn’t be happier!

Three cheers to all these lads, who I’ll be following this fall:

Kyle Davis, Dubourg

Jordan Griffin, Saint Louis University High

Sean Groh, Gateway Tech

Dashawn Wilson, St. Mary’s

My high school experience was marred by moments that went the other way, by sheets of paper posted to a wall without my name. And I don’t, for a second, assume that these kids (and the boys that didn’t try out for teams this fall, but spent countless hours on South Side soccer fields over the last seven years with me) have it made, now that they’ve simply cracked a roster. But I always wanted them to have a chance at some successes in high school. I’m happy, satisfied, pleased as punch to have played a bit of a role in these cats improving their games over the years. And all did, noticeably.

I might be banning myself from pro sports for the time being, but I’m suddenly a local prep fan. Gotta fill those late-afternoon hours somehow, and living vicariously is a healthy and affordable way to go.

Bye-Bye Soccer

STLUtdGroupA pair of weekends back, my soccer coaching efforts paused, at least for the next year, or so. After seven years of whistling and cajoling and wheedling camp opportunities and driving car loads of Somalis and occasionally yelling, it seemed a good time to stop, to pursue those always-vague “other opportunities.” Mind you, the time spent with the kids, in retrospect, was totally worthwhile. Knew that all along.

Worked with maybe 75-80 kids over that time, in multiple city parks, on playing surfaces that could sometimes be called, generously, “rough.” There were memorable rainstorms, a handful of road trips, occasional flashes of brilliance and lots of just, plain, simple nice afternoons and evenings spent with the game. But all good things come to an end. I’m thankful for the folks that entrusted their kids to me; and am thankful to the kids themselves, who taught me quite a bit about patience and perseverance. Still not sure I can run a decent practice session, but I do know how to handle young personalities a whole lot better than before.

With the coaching portion of soccer behind me, for the moment, I’ve been toying with a concept. Almost a project. Certainly a radical one, on a purely personal level.

Of late, I’ve come to question the value of taking in professional sports, whether in person, or watching/listening at home. If I were to count the amount of hours spent on just watching soccer on TV, or at some quarter-full stadium, I’d probably start crying. If the time spent, alone, on watching the World Cup over the years came back to me, my book shelves would be completely read, my attempts to watch the 100 greatest films would be finito… who knows how many half-baked projects, currently stacking up to my eyeballs, might be done, or at least in a better state of completion and organization? Yikes.

As of 12:15 CST, Wednesday, June 9, I’m toying with sitting out the World Cup, FIFA South Africa 2010. No TV. No internet check-ups. No trips to Barrister’s, The Amsterdam, O.B. Clark’s. No Germany matches. No U.S. matches. No finals or knockout rounds. No talking about the game. Nothing. Nada. In soccer parlance, nil.

Can it be done?

Will check back in a month on this, right around the time that pre-season training for the Cabrini teams will start. Ugh.

March’s 13

Cycling off the drug Coumadin (aka Warfarin) right now, so forgive any jumpies or jitteries in this post. Or just in life, generally, as the constitution’s in a bit of an agitated state. So, let’s see if writing clears the cobwebs. We’ll consider this the mass comm edition of the 13 series.

Facebook, St. Louis Hoosiers: Suppose it was a matter of time for a hoosiers page to crop up on Facebook. Suppose that I’m also slightly jealous in not having thought of it.

New crush on old band I, The Attack: Learn up on ’em.

New crush on old band II, Bubble Puppy: Learn up on ’em, too.

New crush on new band, Sleepy Kitty: Where you been hidin’ on me?

Crispin Glover, “Alice in Wonderland”: How is it possible that director Tim Burton worked with Glover and somehow removed the weirdness? And is that in any way a good thing?

When kids kill, “Kick Ass”: Hadn’t heard of the comic. Had only just heard of the film. But when free tickets are dangled, you gotta say “yes.” Now, the story was amusing, the visuals were awesome and the overall vibe was fun, but… seeing 11-year-old’s go on violent (if fictional) killing sprees? At least a bit uncomfortable with that. Gosh, I might be turning into a social conservative!

Meditation advice, Thomas Duckworth’s: Let’s say that you’ve just watched a film of wanton killing. Or you’re cycling off of a drug. Or you just need to calm your ass down a bit. Tune in, click on, space out.

Worst eight-minutes of the year, “Old Dog, New Trick” Q/A session: Last weekend, Jon Scorfina and I were treated to a sold-out show at the Savoy, an old movie theatre turned into a banquet, in the heart of NoCo. The audience chatted and laughed through the film, bursting into applause anytime a recognizable name or face was mentioned. Then came the Q/A with Jon and I, at which point… no one wanted to say anything. It’s been a bit of time since I stood on a stage, bathed in lights, staring out at a sea of people with nothing to say back. Luckily, John Nieman, of KSHE book fame, was able to chat things up a bit before we pulled the plug on the segment and allowed Steve Scorfina to get back to rockin’. To say those few minutes were a painfully awkward bit of time would be understatement. Thankfully, laughter heals all.

The World Cup, Der Mannschaft: It’s time to get serious about World Cup preparations. Test me in a week/two on German tendencies, lineups, formations and substitution patterns. And, after this summer’s event, I am officially renouncing and giving it on the game. Just to put that out there.

Membership drives, KDHX: April 1-11. Oh. My. featurettes, Julia Smillie: Golly, I know somebody who’s an all-world blogger!

Deaths, Angelo Poffo: Wayne St. Wayne just informed me that Angelo Poffo, pops to wrestlers “Leaping” Lanny Poffo and Randy “Macho Man” Savage has passed. A grappler, himself, he died at the ripe age of 84. This type of knowledge isn’t passed around every day, by just anyone.

Videos, Quail and Egg Show on natto: To come full circle, I’m looking for natural substitutes for anti-coagulants and the Japanese sticky paste natto is apparently The Good Stuff. Came across a video about natto today and I feel the need to share, not as much for the actual content (which I find quite delightful), but for the fact that there’s no topic not covered in a whimsical three-minutes on the web: