Gameday: Blog en-us (C) Gameday (Gameday) Wed, 30 May 2012 07:16:00 GMT Wed, 30 May 2012 07:16:00 GMT Richland Rattlers Outlast Kennewick Nationals for 3rd Place Richland and Kennewick battled for 3rd and 4th place in Pasco's Memorial Day Youth Baseball Tournament on Monday.

Richland won 14-9

More Photos here

]]> (Gameday) Baseball Kennewick Nationals Little League Memorial Day Tournament Richland Rattlers Tue, 29 May 2012 05:00:00 GMT
Kamiakin wins State!!! TWICE!!!! - AHEM - THRICE!!! Kamiakin Braves took home the 3A State Softball crown today. They beat the Everett High School Seagulls 6-1.

"The fifth inning saw Kamiakin (28-0) bat around the order, with four singles and two hit batters. The two-out rally might have been avoided had a solid throw to the plate from rightfielder Cherise Shaver resulted in a third-out tag, but Deditius barely missed the runner, giving the Braves the game's first run. The next three Kamiakin batters reached base to put four more runs on the board before the two teams each added a run in the sixth."

Meanwhile In Baseball - Same Story!!!!

Kamiakin Braves took home the 3A State Baseball crown today. They beat Eastside Catholic 3-2.

Photos can be found here.


Kamiakin Girls Track also Won State

Photos can be found here



]]> (Gameday) Baseball High School Kamiakin High School Softball State Playoffs Track and Field Sun, 27 May 2012 05:30:00 GMT
Puyallup sneaks past the Bombers 1-0 In 0 to 0 struggle, Puyallup scores the go ahead run in the 7th inning and holds off the Bombers to advance to the 4A State Baseball Championship.

Each of the pitchers did a great job controlling the game with great help from their respective defense. Each team was able to keep runners from scoring for the first 6 innings. That was until Puyallup played old school baseball to move the runner around the bases with bunts and sacrifices to score the winning and only run of the game.

The Bombers could steal bases and were not deterred with the left handed pitcher, but couldn't string things together to drive a runner home. The loss ends Richland's attempt for another State championship.

In a fluke accident an errant pitch glanced off the home plate umpire ripping a chunk out his arm. A quick bandage from the onsite medics and he back behind the catcher.

More photos can be found here.


]]> (Gameday) Baseball High School Puyallup High School Richland High School Sat, 26 May 2012 04:45:00 GMT
Little League Night with the Tri-City Fever We have worked with the Tri-City Fever to put together Little League night.

Game is on May 26th at 7:05pm against the Sioux Falls Storm.

Ticket must be ordered before the day of the game
Call (509) 222-2215 to Purchase

Wear your Little League hat

]]> (Gameday) Arena Football Little League Tri-City Fever Sat, 19 May 2012 05:15:00 GMT
GRLL: Oswalt faces off with Elks Photos can be found here

]]> (Gameday) Baseball GRLL Little League Fri, 04 May 2012 05:00:00 GMT
Regional Teams converge on 2012 Lacrosse Shootout in Kennewick The 3-Rivers Lacrosse hosted the 2012 Shootout at Columbia Park in Kennewick.

Photos can be found here.

]]> (Gameday) 3-Rivers Lacrosse Lacrosse Mon, 23 Apr 2012 02:00:00 GMT
Tri-City Americans Lose 2nd game, Go down 0-2 in Series The Tri-City Americans drop their second game. They trail the Winterhawks 0-2.

Photos can be found here.

]]> (Gameday) Americans Hockey WHL Sun, 22 Apr 2012 06:45:00 GMT
2012 Baseball Preview Written by Tyler Brett


Columbia Basin Big Nine 4A


Richland Bombers
2011 Record: 10-2 (2nd place)
2012 Outlook: The Bombers will return seven players from their varsity squad last season. The offense will be led by seniors Corey Morris, who hit .480 last year with 17 RBI and five stolen bases, and Dylan Klute, who batted .375 in 2011. They will be asked to fill the void left by graduate Zach Rapacz, who hit .400 with five home runs and 19 RBIs, and Kenton Brunson, who hit .388 with three HRs and 18 RBIs. Pitching will be anchored by Junior Mason Hilty, who posted a 3-1 record last season as a sophomore with a 3.86 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 29 innings pitched. Expect the experience of last year’s run at state to propel the Bombers to a league title this season.


Davis Pirates
2011 Record: 6-6 (3rd place)
2012 Outlook: Davis will return nine players from their varsity team last season, including four players who were sophomores in 2011. The Pirates will look to replace the speed and hitting of graduate Jackson Marquis, who hit .482 last year and lead the CBBN 4A with nine stolen bases. There should not be too much of a drop off, however, as Davis returns three players who hit better than .400 last season, in seniors Damon Lybeck (.467) and Jens Jensen (.433), and junior Carlos Vijjaro (.410). The pitching staff will be missing two major contributors from last season in Jason Klingle, who went 3-0 with a league-leading 1.17 ERA in 2011, and Avery Mottet, who went 2-1 with a 1.75 ERA. The staff this season will be anchored by junior Trenton Dupree, who pitched 25 innings last season for a 4-0 record and a 3.50 ERA. The experience gained from a young 2011 Pirate team will help Davis improve on last season’s 6-6 record and make a push for the league title.


Walla Walla Blue Devils
2011 Record: 11-1 (1st place)
2012 Outlook: The Blue Devils are returning only six players from their 2011 league title winning squad, losing 11 varsity players to graduation. They lose last year’s league leader in batting average, Kevin Toon (.596), RBIs in Matt Watson (28), and wins and strikeouts in Drew Christina (8-0, 67). Watson acted as a Mr. Everything for Walla Walla last season, hitting .386 and stealing five bases to go along with his 28 RBIs. On top of that, he was second on the team in wins, going 3-1 with a 2.68 ERA while striking out 35 batters in 34 innings. Christina, meanwhile, leaves a big hole in the Devils’ rotation, as he was their certifiable ace in 2011. While going 8-0 and striking out 67 hitters, he posted a 1.50 ERA during 42 innings of work. The offense will look to senior Taylor Lemke, who hit .360 last season with two home runs. Meanwhile, the pitching rotation will hope someone can step into the ace role Christina vacated. Any time you lose more than 60 percent of your roster to graduation, you can expect a bit of a step back, but when they were as good as Walla Walla’s 2011 senior class, it’s almost a guarantee. It would be shocking if the Blue Devils were able to repeat last season’s league title, but they won’t slip too far.


Chiawana Riverhawks
2011 Record: 4-8 (5th place)
2012 Outlook: Chiawana was the youngest team in the league last season, returning 13 players from their varsity squad of 2011. They lose only three players to graduation, which will help the team maintain continuity. While the Riverhawks did not produce any players in the top tier of any statistical categories, the experience this young team gained in 2011 should help them come out ahead of the pack that finished in a three-way tie for fourth place last season at 4-8 and move closer towards the .500 mark. This team is still a few seasons away from making a legitimate run at the league title.


Wenatchee Panthers
2011 Record: 4-8 (4th place)
2012 Outlook: Wenatchee has struggled to break out of the middle of the pack in the CBBN 4A, regularly finishing with three to six wins over the last several years. Last season, the Panthers continued the trend, finishing at the head of a 4-8 logjam for fourth place. The Panthers were without a star presence last season and will likely find themselves in the same boat this year. Middle of the pack seems to be this team’s ceiling and will more than likely be where they finish again in 2012.


Eisenhower Cadets
2011 Record: 3-9 (7th place)
2012 Outlook: The Cadets finished last in the CBBN 4A division last season, and graduated seven members of last year’s varsity squad. Five players return this year, including two sophomores who got varsity experience last season as freshmen. While the team failed to win as many games as they would have liked, there is something to be said for experience, even terrible experience. Expect the young Eisenhower team to improve on their win total from last season, but not by enough to rise too far out of the cellar of the division.


Moses Lake Chiefs
2011 Record: 4-8 (6th place)
2012 Outlook: The Chiefs will be the team hit hardest by graduation, losing 14 players from last season’s varsity squad. Moses Lake will look to senior Bryton Redal, the only senior on this year’s team to be listed on the varsity roster last year, to lead the offense and improve on his .385 batting average and five stolen bases in 2011. He will try and replace the lost offense of Cameron Alverado, who hit .489 last season and stole seven bases, and Tony Hernandez, who hit .368. The pitching rotation will also need to retool and find a replacement for Mitch Yada, who finished last season with a 1.79 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 43 innings. The void left on the roster will be a setback to a team that struggled in 2011, and the Chiefs will slide into the cellar for 2012.



Columbia Basin Big Nine 3A


Kennewick Lions
2011 Record: 11-3 (2nd place)
2012 Outlook: The Lions boasted the youngest team in the CBBN 3A and returns 11 players from last year’s squad. Kennewick brings back five hitters who batted over .400 to replace the outgoing offense of Drew Loftus, who hit .477 last season and stole six bases. Trek Stemp (.574), Sam Guin (.550), Jarod Gonzales (.487), and Troy Fulton (.429) will lead the senior class in the 2012 season along with sophomore JJ Hancock, who batted .478 in 2011. The pitching staff will look to replace Frank Murillo, who pitched to a 4-1 record last year with a 2.45 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 20 innings, by asking for increased production from senior Stetson Plew, who threw a 2.62 ERA in 16 innings last season. The Lions will ride the experience of last season’s success to take the next step as the class of 2012 leads the team in its try for a league title.


Southridge Suns
2011 Record: 13-1 (1st place)
2012 Outlook: The Suns rode the Player of the Year, Ty Jackson, to a CBBN 3A league title last season. Jackson led the Suns with a .545 batting average with three home runs, 26 RBIs, and four stolen bases while also pitching 23 1/3 innings for Southridge, going 5-0 with a 3.00 ERA and 27 strikeouts. His presence will be missed, but Southridge does return nine players off last season’s varsity roster. Senior Matt Mendenhall, who hit .519 with five home runs and 26 RBIs, will try and replace the production of Jackson, along with AJ Henderson, who hit .543 with four stolen bases, and Bryce Jackson, who hit .478 with 21 RBIs. The pitching staff will look to junior Connor O’Neil to lead them this season and build off his 19 2/3 innings last season where he struck out 19 batters and posted a 1.78 ERA. The Suns will miss the outstanding senior season of Jackson, and they will slip slightly back, falling just short of the league championship.


Hanford Falcons
2011 Record: 8-6 (4th place)
2012 Outlook: The Falcons graduate nine players from their 2011 varsity roster, bringing nine back for this season. Senior AJ Hoskins, who hit .547 with three home runs and 22 RBIs with six stolen bases, will step into the leadership role on the offense left by Blake Eastman, who hit .477 his senior year. In the pitching rotation, senior Colin Serkowski, who recorded three wins last season, will be asked to step in to replace the production of Dan Scheibe, who recorded a 3.44 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 36 2/3 innings pitched. The Falcons will use the experienced and productive returning varsity players to improve on their 2011 win total making a failed push for the league title.


Kamiakin Braves
2011 Record: 10-4 (3rd place)
2012 Outlook: The Braves will bring just five players back from last year’s varsity squad, losing 10 players to graduation. Senior Drew Oord, coming off a 2011 season where he hit .489 with 26 RBIs, will be turned to as the lead to replace the production gone with Blake Raekes, who hit .531 with 25 RBIs and four stolen bases, Justin Berneski, .523 with 18 RBIs, Joey Jansen, .517 and nine stolen bases, and AJ Griffiths, who hit .404 in 2011. In the pitching rotation, the Braves will look for a replacement for Garrett Anderson and his 6-0, 1.86 ERA, and 39 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings during the 2011 season. First in line will be junior Logan Jackson who threw 17 strikeouts in 16 innings with a 1.75 ERA last season. The missing production from the 2011 senior class will be a big hurdle for the Braves to overcome and the team will fall back a bit from their 10-win 2011 season.


West Valley Rams
2011 Record: 5-9 (6th place)
2012 Outlook: The Rams will lose 10 seniors from last season’s team, returning just six players. West Valley will be without their leading offensive producer from last season, Steven Wager, who hit .400 with three home runs. Wager also contributed in the pitching department, going 3-2 last season with a 2.56 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 27 1/3 innings. The team will search for someone on this year’s squad to fill the void left by Wager. The Rams will struggle to recoup the lost production and will stay in the lower tier of the standings in 2012.


Eastmont Wildcats
2011 Record: 7-7 (5th place)
2012 Outlook: Eastmont will only return four players from last year’s varsity squad, losing 12 players to graduation. The Wildcats will struggle to replace the outgoing production at the plate from Tygar Garces, who hit .457 last season, and Jay Seabeck, who hit .406 with three home runs. Their pitching staff will also struggle without Ian Sagdal who went 4-1 last season for Eastmont, posting a 2.46 ERA. It remains to be seen who will step up into the lineup and offset the loss of those players, but Eastmont will have to find out quickly, or risk falling further off of their 2011 win total.


Pasco Bulldogs
2011 Record: 2-12 (7th place)
2012 Outlook: The Bulldogs had a rough 2011 season, finishing in second-to-last place in the division. The outlook does not appear any brighter this season, as Pasco will struggle to make up the gap between them and the rest of the CBBN 3A ahead of them. I would not expect too much noise from this squad this season, as they need another few seasons of solid rebuilding in order to become a contender again in the league.


Sunnyside Grizzlies
2011 Record: 0-14
2012 Outlook: The team that failed to win a game in 2011 will not have a terribly bright outlook in 2012. Sunnyside has proven themselves to be far behind the rest of the league in terms of their ability to win games, and will need to make some drastic improvements to make a move out of the cellar, but it won’t happen this season and the Grizzlies will spend another season at the bottom of the standings. 

]]> (Gameday) 2012 3A 4A Baseball High School Richland High School Southridge High School Tue, 03 Apr 2012 03:45:00 GMT
Big Changes for Eisenhower  

Big Changes
for Eisenhower

IKE gets a new head coach, new field,
new players and a new season.


Written by Daniel Huston

With the 2012 Girls’ Softball season around the corner, Eisenhower is going through some big changes. A new coach, new players, new field, and above all, a new season.

The team that went 8-12 overall last season and fell short of the district playoffs by one game is currently looking for a new head coach now that Harry Pratt has resigned. Pratt plans to go back to school and pursue another career. Eisenhower is currently interviewing candidates and is expected to announce the hiring of their new coach as soon as the process is complete.

The team is returning a young, strong, and experienced group of girls who think they have what it takes to take the program to the next level.

“Last season was fairly successful,” says assistant coach Gary Jimenez. “Even though we came short of the playoffs, we graduated a great group of seniors who helped change the attitude and culture of our program.” The group that Jimenez speaks so highly of turned the program around and made IKE a legitimate league opponent for the first time in years. This season the team and coaches are looking forward to the leadership and strong play from returning players like Morgan Frost (shortstop) and Samantha Solomon (second base). These two together make up a strong infield. Also, Abigail Watkins (pitcher) and Josue Saldua (catcher) make a solid combo battery for opposing hitters. Ralynn Kelly (outfield) is also ready to take on any challenges in the outfield.

The big changes don’t stop there for the IKE softball team. As you drive by Eisenhower High School you might notice the construction taking place on campus. If you pay close enough attention you might notice that this construction is taking place where the baseball and softball teams practice and play their home games.  

The major construction project started in June 2011. The project is what Yakima voters approved by passing the May 2009 school bond measure. The district-wide plan has three phases. They include the replacement of Eisenhower High School in phase one, new sports facilities in phase three ($112,653,200), a major modernization of Davis High School ($85,697,044), and a number of other schools around Yakima. Currently phase one is on schedule, phase two is on hold, and phase three doesn’t start until phase one is complete. The project is being paid by state and local funding. The total cost is estimated to be $218,095,817 and is expected to be completed in June 2013. 

For the next several years, the IKE ladies are practicing and playing games at the Kiwanis parks across town. “The construction process will pay off in the long run, but it does create some difficulties in the short term,” says Jimenez. Practicing across town “will create some logistical issues on a daily basis.” For example, the school district operates an extra bus to carpool players back and forth after school. But don’t think this will hold the girls back from moving forward and achieving their season goals.

Make sure to follow up and catch a game as the Eisenhower girls compete in the talented Big 9 conference. They will use last year as a stepping stone as they face rivals Davis, Moses Lake and Richland, and compete for a 2012 playoff spot.

]]> (Gameday) Eisenhower High School Softball Mon, 02 Apr 2012 18:30:00 GMT
T.O. Talks Sports with the Tri-Cities  

T.O. Talks Sports with the Tri-Cities

Tony Ott reflects on more than 30 years as a sports radio personality in the Tri-Cities.


Written by Dave Wilson

Tri-Cities sports fans, if you haven’t heard the news, Terry Ott is back, and talking some serious sports. Ott, also known as T.O., spends two hours a day, Monday through Friday, talking sports with community members and local sports personalities on KONA 610 AM Information Radio.  I recently caught up with the local sports radio personality, and in my opinion, T.O. deserves the spotlight!  Ott was kind enough to share his thoughts and answer questions regarding his 30-plus years of experience working in the Tri-Cities sports market.  A huge thank you is in order for the entire staff at Cherry Creek Radio, especially General Manager Tami Peterson and Sports Director Michael McDonnal.


GDM: How did you get into sports radio?


Ott: I fell in love with radio back in the late 1970s. I loved the theatre of radio. Then I met Kirk Williamson, who was a popular sports personality in the Tri-Cities at that time and things began to change. I submitted a demo tape which failed badly, and Kirk told me to go home and read the newspaper out loud to myself in a corner of my house so I could get used to hearing my own voice. I was told I needed to learn how to breathe the right way—I really had no training or background at all in broadcasting. 

Ten years went by, and then in a twist of fate, I reunited with Williamson in 1988 as the Tri-Cities introduced hockey for the first time. Williamson asked me to carry a wireless microphone amongst the crowd to interview fans but when the microphone failed he asked me to join him in the broadcast booth. This is when I began my color commentary with the Tri-Cities Americans hockey team, which ultimately was a catalyst to my Talk Sports radio show that launched in February of 1989.


GDM: What are your most memorable interviews or stories?


Ott: I’ve been asked this question before and I tend to give a different answer every time because I think every interview and story is memorable in its own way. For example, I interviewed Darrell Evans, who was a superstar third baseman for the Detroit Tigers from 1984 to 1988. It happened to be the same day as the Hall of Fame voting.  Evans was on the ballot for the last time, and he did not get voted in. I received the news across the wire and assumed Evans already knew, so I read the results which he was hearing for the first time! It was an awkward three or four seconds of empty air time. It was a traumatic moment for me as a broadcaster because I could hear the devastation in his voice. 

I’ve had world-class wheelchair athletes—including wheelchair racers who have no feeling from the waist down—strapped literally with their lives in a wheelchair. It really puts things into perspective. 

I would make trips to the local ballparks and present trophies to the athletes of the week. I ran into one of those 12-year-old athletes of the week at a local high school football game this year. He is now grown up with a family of his own and he said he still has that trophy. Each interview and story has been a great moment for me. I’m a sports fan.


GDM: In your perspective how has the world of sports changed from the time you started in the industry?


Ott: I would have to say that money has definitely skyrocketed…I won’t say it is totally out of control, but as sports fans we are the base of every single athlete and ownership group and team out there. If we have the power to keep them going we also have the power to stop it. If sports fans don’t get it, they better start getting it. If you don’t like the prices you don’t have to go. If the fans stop going things will eventually change—it’s a business in that respect. 

The athletes themselves have changed; they are bigger, faster and stronger.  Twenty years ago I walked onto the practice field of the Seattle Seahawks and I could almost be compared in physique to an NFL player. Not now, today’s athletes are beyond big—they are monsters.  

Another major change over the years has been the media exposure. The media has blown up in sports. It is a multi-billion-dollar business.


GDM: Game Day Magazine focuses on the local sports scene. Based on your knowledge of other sports communities and programs around the United States, how would you rank the Tri-Cities? 


Ott: I’ve watched other programs around the country and I can tell you we are absolutely blessed. This is one of the most athletic and talented areas in the country, per capita. High schools are gifted in the fact that not only do they teach well and keep things traditional and have a sense about what they do on a daily basis, but they keep things fair, the athletes are great, and the community is very supportive—I’m very lucky to work in this community.  


GDM: What advice do you have for aspiring sports broadcasters or personalities?


Ott: As I’ve said to my own children, it doesn’t matter what they do. I don’t care what they do, but they have to have one ingredient, and it has to be with them—that they love what they do. If you don’t have that—to go after something, and you’re just doing it—you’ll end up hating it. I encourage anybody; if you’re looking to do sports or not, if you don’t have a passion for it, try something else. Go find your passion, go do your thing that you like the most. 


GDM: Well said, Mr. Tony Ott!


You can catch up with Tony daily, Monday through Friday, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on KONA 610 AM Information Radio for more sports talk.

]]> (Gameday) Radio Tony Ott Mon, 02 Apr 2012 18:00:00 GMT
Fifteen Years of Motivation  

Fifteen Years of Motivation

Students work hard for Eric Hisaw, Walla Walla High’s Big 9 Track and Field Coach of the Year.


Written by Lisa Cummins


hen the Columbia Basin Big 9 track coaches voted to award the 2010 Big 9 Track and Field Coach of the Year, Walla Walla High School’s Eric Hisaw earned the honor. For his part, Hisaw saw the award as one that he would have liked to share with others. “I wish it was a staff award instead of an individual award because it’s a reflection of the staff and the students,” he said.

Football and track have been in the coach’s life since his freshman year of high school. He used to be a student, helping his team members in any way he could to make sure they reached their goal of being the best. He has now been standing on the sideline, coaching and giving inspiring words of encouragement to his students for the past 15 years. 

He graduated from the University of Idaho where he majored in Physical Education and minored in Spanish.  He now teaches and coaches, just like his parents did. “I always knew I wanted to teach,” Hisaw said. “The kids are great and I want to influence other people’s lives just as my parents did.” 

His past coaches were truly inspirational in his eyes. He thanks his high school football coach Tom Oswald, his college track coach Mike Keller, his college quarterback coach Greg Olson, and his college head football coach John L. Smith for teaching him so much about life and giving him the desire to help others in his coaching career.

Hisaw displays his knowledge and love for sports out on the track. The Walla Walla High School track team has had a great run the last ten to twelve years with the girls receiving no less than third place in recent years. Hisaw is hoping to win titles on both sides this year. “We are reloaded and ready to go chase down that Big 9 league title for both boys and girls teams this year,” Hisaw said.

Some of the promising track members for this upcoming season are senior hurdler Kyle Jameson, junior long-jumper Jonah Hoe, junior thrower Logan Reardon, and senior distance runner John Paul Wolpert.

“I think he is an excellent coach. Kids work hard for him because they trust him and trust the program he has set up for them,” Jonah Hoe said. “I like having him as a coach because he is an energetic, positive role model who will build you as an athlete but also as a person.”

This is his eleventh year as head track and field coach and first year as head football coach. Though the Wa-Hi football team didn’t have a stellar season this year, he describes the team’s effort as incredible. “We made a lot of strides this year and had a lot of bridges to cross,” Hisaw said. “They had zero problems working together, and they got better throughout the year due to their hard work and trust in one another.” This year’s football team had more fun playing together than in previous years. They got along better and learned they needed that family bond to be successful.

Coach Hisaw runs a training camp set up on the Wa-Hi campus to help students stay in shape between sports. He opens the weight room up to anyone and everyone for an hour after school, four days a week. He says right now they have between 12 and 25 students attending, but he’s hoping a lot more will take advantage of the opportunity.

He started out as a football player and track member but has come a long way and is now an admirable physical education teacher, football coach and track coach. He likes making a positive impact on people’s lives as well as seeing confidence grow in his students. He is a truly inspirational coach.

]]> (Gameday) Sat, 31 Mar 2012 03:45:00 GMT
Fever win Again - Move to 5-0 The Fever win again. See photos of the game here.

First ever marriage proposal during half-time of Fever game.

]]> (Gameday) Arena Football Fever Sat, 31 Mar 2012 02:45:00 GMT
GRLL West Richland Public Works plays against Atomic Auto Body More great photos can be seen here.

]]> (Gameday) Baseball GRLL Little League Tue, 27 Mar 2012 05:00:00 GMT
The Flagrant Foul Fiasco  


The Flagrant Foul Fiasco

Under national condemnation, the small community of Connell is forced to protect its native son and its reputation.

Written by Ryan e Rowe

Sports play a societal role in engendering jingoist and chauvinistic attitudes. They are designed to organize a community to be committed to their gladiators,” Noam Chomsky once famously said. 

In the matter of the flagrant foul fiasco, of Connell High School basketball fame, Chomsky appears to be a prophet of sorts. 

More than 6.5 million viewings of wazzumichael’s YouTube video have demonized Cole Vanderbilt (#34) and everyone associated with him. Comments target Vanderbilt, the team, Coach Garza, and all of Connell, WA, as a clan of roughnecks, blind to violence. These days Connell fights an uphill battle of saving face, while at the same time attempting to shelter Vanderbilt from publicized societal and athletic condemnation. In the end, Connell may realize that the two actions cannot coexist.

Connell’s local newspaper has encouraged the community to commit to its gladiators. Katherine Bingham of the Franklin County Graphic, based out of Connell, quotes local bystanders Jamie Utecht and Daniel Purkeypyle, both Connell High School graduates, in the article “Lessons to be learned as video thrusts North Franklin into viral world.” No matter how unaffiliated to the high school basketball team, the bystanders’ comments position the viral video as an issue to be dealt with by the entire community, rather than one for the high school administration alone. 

In comparison, the Tri-City Herald seems to maintain some distance from the fiasco by quoting only superintendents and athletic directors in Craig Craker’s article, “Basketball video first goes viral, then national.” Thus Connell and its newspaper find themselves in the position of being left alone to face the millions of disputers and rabble-rousers who have banded together, demanding that the coaches and administration—or anyone at all—take action regarding the hostile on-court behavior demonstrated against Highland High School’s basketball team.

Fifteen minutes of fame would seem like a dream come true to any small town athlete who ever hoped to become a household name, if featured in clips of poised play and acclaimed victories. But with wazzumichael’s video and its five minutes and 17 seconds of smash-mouth game play—of a kind seen more often on a football field than a basketball court—Cole Vanderbilt has instead become a target of instantaneous hatred. 

According to comments attached to the video, anyone or anything remotely associated with Vanderbilt’s performance is criticized, from “the coaches and parents” by ginarossify, to pointing out his use of “Doc Martens” on the basketball court by quisqueya100. However, most notable in these trending comments is how Vanderbilt’s actions are used to label his character. For instance, olywa1978 shared this opinion: “I can just tell that #34 is one of those jock bullies that think they’re big and bad and feed their own egos and ‘cool point’ collection by picking on smaller, weaker kids. Somebody needs to completely destroy that kid!” 

A majority of the viewers who commented on the video used the debacle as an opportunity to describe Vanderbilt as the epitome of a bully, encouraging other readers to “bring him down” on behalf of all bully victims. One went so far as to create a Facebook page dedicated to distributing his personal information—including his cell phone and his family’s home phone numbers—resulting in hate mail and death threats. 

In cyberspace, this is the modern equivalent of grabbing the torches and pitchforks, and the small community of Connell faces the daunting task of protecting its infamous basketball player from the outside world.

No matter the stance, every function of media seems to fuel the rabble-rousing. Attention to the flagrant foul fiasco reached its pinnacle when the video clip aired on CNN, with ESPN’s LZ Granderson nationally embarrassing Vanderbilt and the high school he represents by saying that Vanderbilt was “physically trying to intimidate and bully, not just be physical with the player.” 

Although the fiasco seems to be on its last leg of attention, the high school administration’s sheltering of the student-athlete from discipline and its hiding behind a wall of silence has left the community of Connell with a repugnant scar. 

In the absence of any public disciplinary action, Connell is perceived as an enabler of bullying, and its image has not been helped by the basketball coach’s characterization of Vanderbilt as a “teddy bear,” which has itself been met with scorn.

From this experience, we see the kinds of battles small communities face when forced into the limelight, and we see how easily coverage of  sports gives birth to public controversy. All the world is a stage, especially in a spectator sport like basketball. It is now an era when every trespass can be captured and exposed and every person held accountable for his or her actions.

The Connell community has been put to the test, and hopefully can rebuild its reputation with the ethics and fair play it knows its “gladiators” are capable of performing.



]]> (Gameday) Basketball Connell High School Flagrant Foul Fri, 23 Mar 2012 17:00:00 GMT
The Will to Win  

The Will to Win

Richland’s Coach Jacobs has high expectations for his baseball team.


Written by Stephen Johnston


s I waited in the office, students hurried to and from classrooms. Baseball season was quietly coming around the corner as it seems to do every year. The Super Bowl has ended and thoughts of sports drift to springtime, specifically baseball. 

I had not waited very long when Ben Jacobs came to greet me, and it was a very interesting visit.  The excitement surrounding the coming baseball season was easy to pick up on.  This year certainly holds exciting prospects for the Richland club. Not only will they have a chance to snatch another title, but the big game will be played at GESA Stadium in Pasco.

“It would be a disappointment to not reach the final four at least,” says Jacobs. One could see why by looking at this team. Although Richland has lost quite a few players, they still command a respectable group of seniors. Victor Weitz, Corey Morris, Dilan Klute, Conner Moore, Dalton Johnson and Tyler Fuller will all lead this year’s club. Not to mention, they have a recent history of success in the tournament. 

Last year they finished third. The year before last they finished second and the year before that they finished first. They also won it all at Safeco Field in 2007 (pictures proudly displayed in the coach’s office covering almost every inch of the walls). There is no doubt that the seniors would love to go out on top. “GESA Stadium is no Safeco, but it would be special to play at home,” says Klute.

Overall, this culminates into five straight final fours for the ball club. However, repeating this success will not be easy. Jacobs is aware of the target on their backs. Similar to any sport where one team has dominated the landscape, the opponents (and the media) put you on a pedestal. “Walla Walla celebrated for around 10 minutes after they beat us last year,” recalls Jacobs, who was also quick to point them out as one of their biggest rivals. Don’t worry, Davis and Wenatchee, Jacobs remembers you as well, although he holds much respect for these clubs. Klute added Kamiakin to that list. It is never easy to repeat success despite the preparation put in or how good a team looks on paper.

Still, there is a quiet confidence about this team. Speaking with both Jacobs and senior starter Dilan Klute (OF/1B/pitcher) resulted in more or less the same attitude (team chemistry evidently solid). I pressed Jacobs to name an MVP of the team and he could not, hinting that everyone must hold their own on the team. “Newcomers have to play like seniors,” said Jacobs. Klute was a little bolder saying, “Critics say we won’t be as good as last year—don’t underestimate us,” but he did admit there is some pressure to reach their goals given all their recent success.  However, I got the impression from both that Corey Morris would have a big impact on the team’s success this year (Morris’s name came up more than a few times during the visit).

Klute is looking for a big year as well. His personal goals for the season include winning the state title, having a good personal season, and maintaining team chemistry. Klute hinted that team chemistry was a problem last year that was quietly corrected behind the scenes. However, he did mention that “we are a lot closer than previous years.” I got the impression he wanted to move on from that and focus on the season. Fortunately, he has a good backing with his teammates and Corey Morris, whom he has known since he was nine years old.  “Morris is the natural leader of the team. If you were ever around practice you would see Morris makes it fun and brings the team together,” says Klute.

Whether or not all of this camaraderie and team chemistry will lead to wins remains to be seen. The good news for Richland is that they have as good a chance as ever to claim another title this season. They still maintain a strong core of upperclassmen, and Jacobs has bestowed a winning mindset on the team. Spring training starts at the end of February.

]]> (Gameday) Baseball High School Richland High School Fri, 16 Mar 2012 03:45:00 GMT
Fever win Home Opener 70-44 The Tri-City Fever win their first game of the season. The Fever crushed Everett 70-44.

See more photos here.


]]> (Gameday) Arena Football Fever Sun, 26 Feb 2012 07:30:00 GMT
State Gymnastics Champion
Southridge freshman Kiya Bjorge is the first girl from the Tri-Cities to take the all-around state title.

Written by Heidi Fryer

Few people have the chance to make history in their lives, and rarely before they are even old enough to drive.  Kiya Bjorge, a freshman at Southridge High School in Kennewick, WA, became the first female gymnast from Tri-Cities to capture the all-around title at the 3A state gymnastics championships on Feb. 17–18.  The only other gymnast from Tri-Cities to do this was male—her club coach, Brett Garland, in 1978.  “We could start a club,” jokes Garland.  It would be an exclusive club, to say the least.
Bjorge’s road to the state title began when she was two years old.  “I was taking dance in the upstairs room of the [gymnastics] gym, and I looked down and said, ‘I want to do that.’” The 15-year-old has now competed in gymnastics for three different area clubs, plus Southridge High School, and is currently a Level 9 at Garland’s Gymnastics.  All this club experience means is that she is used to stressful situations.  “[At state], I wasn’t really that nervous.  I’ve been in big meets before, so I just relaxed and had fun.”  This attitude proved to be successful, as Bjorge also won the floor and vault, and placed third on beam and fifth on bars.
For the past four months, Bjorge has been juggling club and school practices, which combine to keep her in the gym more than 30 hours each week.  As a freshman, she is taking a fully loaded honors schedule, and finished first semester with a 3.6 GPA.  “She’s a really hard worker,” says her mom, Heather Bjorge, who is also the Southridge assistant gymnastics coach and teaches her daughter in honors algebra.  “Her grades are really important to her.”
Balancing grades and practices was not easy for Bjorge, but she enjoyed competing with a new group of athletes and making friends with her high school teammates.  “The team really came together,” Bjorge says, which is evident in their increasing team scores.  This year the Southridge gymnasts improved each week, ending the season with their highest team score (148.65) in over seven years at the regional championships in Spokane.
What’s next for the youngest star of the team?  “I want to compete in college and maybe get a scholarship,” says Bjorge.  As for this year, her high school season may be over, but she is just beginning her club season, which will culminate with Western Nationals in Boise in May.  “I love it,” Bjorge says of the sport.  “My teammates are like my family, and it’s cool to do big tricks that other people can’t do.” 

]]> (Gameday) Gymnastics Southridge High School Tue, 21 Feb 2012 18:00:00 GMT
Connell’s Record-Breaking Running Back Started Out "scrawny" Matt Hadley’s phenomenal career started with his work ethic and a  willingness to learn.
Written by Scott Forsyth

I first met Matt Hadley at the tail end of his freshman year.  Having no connections with the football team at that time, I was asked by an assistant coach to come down to the high school and help out with the after-school lifting program.  I’ve always wanted to give back in this regard, as I was taught in my youth by a phenomenal lifting coach and an incredible person named Dean Moore, of Richland, WA (a local legend).  He was my track and field coach in high school and the man who taught me Olympic lifting.  He threw for WSU, and both his sons threw in college (WSU and University of Arizona).  If not for him I would never have learned the skills that I teach at Connell High School and to him I owe great gratitude.
So when I first met Matt it was at the high school weight room.  I took the offer to help out at the high school and was introduced to him that day.  He was 15 years old and relatively scrawny.  I had heard so much about his older brother Spencer, who received a scholarship to play football at BYU, that I was anticipating a mighty specimen, but mighty he was not—at least at first appearance. 
I had him set up a bar for cleans and I observed his form.  When I coach lifting I will typically have the athlete do the lift with little instruction so I can see his strengths and weaknesses then correct them from there.  After he performed the first set I told him his form was not good, not good at all; in fact, it was terrible.  I proceeded to show him the basic principles of a proper clean and had him do it again, and he did much better.  He was a freakishly quick learner and, for someone so young, was highly adept at making his body do complex movements based on verbal instruction alone.  I knew right then that I was working with someone very special. 
Years later Matt told me that he hated me after our first meeting.  I can understand why.  I don’t sugarcoat anything when it comes to lifting.  If your form is bad I will let you know.  That’s how I was taught.  My coach demanded good form and I demanded it too.  Funny thing is I remember going home that night and talking to my wife about this new student, how I thought he was the real deal, how quickly he learned.  He reminded me a lot of myself and I was excited to give him the knowledge that I’d been given.
So what did he accomplish in three years?  His cleans went from 155 (four sets of 4-6 reps) to 285 (four sets of 4-6 reps) and a max of over 315; his bench from 165 (four sets of 4-6 reps) to 265 (four sets of 4-6 reps) and a max over 300. He became bigger, faster and stronger. But it wasn’t easy. We are talking about a kid who in the summertime would come to the gym and perform a rigorous workout, such as cleans, clean pulls, snatch, shoulder press, shrugs and abdominals—all to failure.  After the lifting was done he could often be seen carrying 135 pounds for 100 yards, followed by a dead sprint of 100 yards, done ten times, for a total of 2,000 yards (signifying the rushing yards he would work to achieve during the football season).  After his workout he would go home, change his clothes, and put in an eight to ten-hour day on his family’s dairy farm (wrestling calfs, dehorning, putting up fence, etc.)  It was not easy. 
Now Matt’s success was not due to his genetics alone.  Although he had elite talent, it was not what drove him to be one of, if not the greatest, running backs in the history of the state of Washington.  It was his work ethic that drove him to success. Never have I seen a kid who can flat out do work like Matt can.  As a coach it is inspiring: Put on more weight, run faster, jump higher, be quicker.  He would give me everything he had.  He wanted to be the best that he could be.  It was his dream to play at BYU alongside his older brother, and there was nothing that would stop him from achieving that.
I still remember the first game I coached Matt.  It was the first game I had ever coached.  We were getting ready to play Othello and it was obvious that Matt was nervous.  A lot was on his shoulders.  Being the younger brother of a star athlete put a target on this young man’s chest and he was feeling it.  As he was fielding punts in pre-game, I remember telling him to be confident, in fact the words I used were “quiet confidence.”  I explained to him that he was ready for this, that he needed to  be confident, to internalize everything and put his best effort on the field.  That he did.  He had an interception and several touchdowns that game, very admirable for a sophomore. 
That quiet confidence would grow game by game until at year’s end he had put up 32 total touchdowns, earned, with his team, a state championship, and garnered himself 1A player of the year honors. 
Now we all know the rest of the story: 124 career touchdowns, 746 career points, 50 touchdowns in a season (all state records), and a phenomenal career.  I know if that were me I would let everyone know about it.  I would have my own t-shirt, hat, etc., showing off my accomplishments.  But that ain’t Matt.  He is the first to tell you that he couldn’t have done it without his teammates.  He gives credit to everyone but himself.  And I guess that is what this kid is all about.  He is a genuinely good human being.  He is, in my opinion, the total package.  BYU is fortunate to have him. 

]]> (Gameday) Connell High School Football Mon, 05 Dec 2011 06:15:00 GMT