Cleaning up the sports editor’s notebook

November 17—Time to clean up the sports editor’s desk.

There are always articles that come across the Republican Herald’s sports desk that don’t get all the attention they deserve. Especially during peak times of the year, like the last two weeks of fall sports playoff games.

They deserve your attention as local sports enthusiasts. They’re important enough that we probably should have pieced together bigger stories about them, if we hadn’t rushed to cover our local teams playing for the leagues.

So, we clean up the plate with some local sports news you need to know:

All-Star time

A pair of fall sports will be holding all-star contests for their senior champions in the coming days.

The Schuylkill League Volleyball Coaches All-Star Game is set for 6:00 p.m. tonight at Martz Hall in Pottsville. The players are divided into four teams, who play one versus 30 match against each of the other teams in a round-robin format.

Event listings are available on page B2 of today’s issue. The event is free and a concession stand will be available. Come see once again some of the best volleyball players in the league.

The Lehigh Valley Health Network SCFCA All-Star Game will be held Wednesday, November 23 at Rotary Field in Schuylkill Haven. Kick-off set for 7pm

The annual North/South football clash of senior stars is coordinated by the Schuylkill County Football Coaches Association. Pat Mason of the Nativity is the head coach of the South, while Sam Bonner of the Tamaqua will lead the North.

More information about the game will appear in next week’s newspaper.

Sharing knowledge with students

Monday night was a tough game for Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Brandon Graham, who committed a costly penalty late in the fourth quarter attributed to the Eagles’ first loss of the season, a 32-21 setback against the Washington Commanders on Monday Night Football.

About 14 hours later, Graham shrugged off that frustration to spend time via Zoom with Tyler Dean’s seventh grade orientation class at Schuylkill Haven Area Middle School.

The 13-year NFL veteran participated in a program called “Community Tuesday with Character Playbook,” sponsored by Everfi, an online driving program that Dean uses for his lessons.

Community Tuesday is a virtual event that invites middle school students from across the region to join a discussion with an Eagles player. In Character Playbook, students make decisions in real-life scenarios such as navigating social media, reflecting on their emotions, and building healthy peer relationships.

Dean’s class of 22, Schuylkill Haven, was one of several groups who attended Tuesday’s Zoom session, during which the Super Bowl 52 hero discussed topics such as mental well-being, conflict resolution and violence prevention. One of Dean’s students even had the opportunity to ask Graham a question.

Awesome chance for a group of teenagers to interact with an NFL star.

Busy week for the World Series champion

It’s been a pretty hectic month for Orwigsburg native and 2007 Blue Mountain graduate Andrew Ball.

Ball, 33, was hired just under a year ago as assistant general manager of the Houston Astros after serving as director of baseball operations with the Los Angeles Angels from 2016 to 2021. In his first year with the club, he won a World Series ring.

Contacted by phone Wednesday, Ball said he was in Philadelphia for Games 3, 4 and 5 of the World Series and attended a victory parade in Houston after the Astros won the series 4-2 over the Phillies. “It was a pretty cool experience,” he said.

In the two weeks since then, however, it has been chaos as the Houston front office has seen a huge shakeup, leaving Ball essentially one of the last men standing in a busy and key juncture of Major League Baseball’s offseason.

General manager James Click, whose contract expired on October 31, was fired just days after the title celebration. So did assistant GM Scott Powers, while another assistant GM, Pete Putila, left to become the general manager of the San Francisco Giants. Click came to Houston from Tampa Bay in 2020 after previous general manager, Jeff Luhnow, was fired following the Astros sign theft scandal.

According to published reports, Ball and Bill Firkus, who was recently promoted to assistant general manager, run the team’s day-to-day operations. But owner Jim Crane, who is a “very hands-on owner” and heavily involved in the team’s baseball decisions, essentially ran the show, opting to re-hire manager Dusty Baker on a one-year deal, negotiating a new three-year deal $34.5 million with reliever Rafael Montero and talks with right-hander Justin Verlander, who has opted out of his contract and is a free agent.

According to MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart, Crane said he likely won’t be hiring a new general manager until the new year. ESPN’s Jeff Passan ran a story Tuesday detailing the entire mess.

“It’s kind of cliché to say it’s been a roller coaster ride, but it feels like it,” Ball said. “It’s been a wild couple of weeks.”

Let’s hope things work out for Ball, who also previously worked with the Tampa Bay Rays, was the baseball operations manager for the York Revolution and an associate scout for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Whether it will be in Houston or somewhere else remains to be seen.

Unfortunately, a quiet exit

Official preseason practices for winter sports begin on Friday, with the regular basketball, swimming and wrestling seasons kicking off on Friday, December 1.

When the Blue Mountain women’s basketball team begins practice Friday, the Eagles will have a new leader for the first time in 17 years.

Rose Carper, assistant athletic director and PE/ER teacher at Blue Mountain High School, was named the Eagles’ new head coach in June to replace Ruth Weidman. Carper had previously served as an assistant coach with the Blue Mountain boys’ basketball team.

Weidman did not retire or leave the position on her own. When the district opened the position, she reapplied, but she was turned down for the job.

In the end, there wasn’t a real fuss around the decision…it appeared as a paragraph in the June 25th edition of this paper as part of a longer story by the Blue Mountain School Board. The sad part is, it’s a quiet end to one of the greatest coaching careers in Schuylkill County women’s basketball history.

Weidman was the high school girls basketball coach at Schuylkill County for 31 seasons, the first 14 at Nativity, the last 17 at Blue Mountain. She finished with a career record of 613-237 (. 721 winning percentage), which, according to available records, is third all-time behind only Paul Brutto (754) and Ron Rhen (675).

Weidman compiled a 353-84 record at the Nativity from 1991 to 2005 that included two PIAA Class A titles, three PIAA silver medals, five District 11 Class A championships, three District 11 runners-up, four District 11 Schuylkill League and two Schuylkill League runners-up. -place finishes. Her Golden Girls made the PIAA playoffs all 14 seasons, going 35-12 in the state playoffs.

She went to Blue Mountain for the 2005-2006 season and had a 260-153 mark with the Eagles which included three PIAA appearances, the 2020 District 11 Class 5A crown, and four trips to the Schuylkill League playoffs. In his 31 seasons, he has had only two losses, in 2012-13 (8-14) and 2020-21 (7-12).

Weidman didn’t just coach basketball. While at Nativity, Weidman was also the school’s girls softball coach for 17 seasons—coaching Nativity to the 2003 District 11 Class A title—she coached golf for three seasons and was the school’s athletic director . She also coached field hockey in Hamburg during that time, leading the Hawks to a PIAA state championship.

Weidman was also Blue Mountain’s athletic director for several years and still teaches physical education/health at Blue Mountain Middle School.

Congratulations on a great career Ruth.

Coaching changes

Some other coaching changes in the area:

Jordan Lehman is the new men’s basketball coach at Pine Grove, replacing Frank D’Agostino III, who stepped down after last season.

A graduate of Pine Grove, Lehman stepped down as head baseball coach at Tri-Valley after leading the Dawgs to back-to-back District 11 titles. That position remains vacant after the Tri-Valley school board filed a decision to hire a coach in the October meeting.

Pottsville graduate Kevin McFarland was hired Monday as the new men’s basketball coach in Hamburg.

Blue Mountain baseball coach Bill Dobrolsky has resigned after coaching the Eagles to a Schuylkill League title last spring. Jarrod Kramer, son of former head coach Tom Kramer and an assistant to Dobrolsky, was named the Eagles’ new head coach.

Contact the writer: [email protected]; 570-628-6026; @pubsportsboss on Twitter

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