Ever wonder what your favorite broadcasters do during the baseball offseason when they're not announcing games for you every night on MASN?
Here's a look at how one broadcaster has been filling his offseason hours along with his own reflection on the impact sports can have on people's lives.
In the weeks since the end of the Orioles season I have had the opportunity to become a field hockey expert following my daughter Allie's Fallston High School team.
OK, you're right. I'm busted. There's no way I've become a field hockey expert. Too many rules and too many whistles. So I just sit there with my wife Bonnie and enjoy the game with the other parents and cheer at the appropriate times, which after four years of high school field hockey I think I have figured out.
This was another outstanding season for the Fallston team. As defending 3A state champions they were the team that every team wanted to beat. Every game all season was like a playoff game; it seemed to make them better and better and they answered every challenge. And with a hard fought 4-3 victory over Atholton High School in the championship game, Fallston had successfully defended it's title, back-to-back State Championships for the Cougars.
Allie scored a goal in the title game, which at the time gave Fallston a 3-1 lead. What a moment. Watching your daughter score a goal in the biggest game she'll ever play in is bigger than anything I've witnessed in my broadcasting career and was very emotional for our family.
But the success Allie and her teammates achieved on the field over the last two seasons is not what I will focus on from her field hockey career. The memories of the games and the back-to-back titles will never fade from the girls' memories. And it's a tremendous athletic achievement. But more important is what they learned from their coach Alice Puckett. From what I have observed, those lessons will help them each and every day as they now look forward to college and ultimately their chosen careers.
I have been around a lot of coaches in my lifetime. And Alice Puckett is what a coach should be all about. Yes, she teaches the fundamentals of the game. Yes, she can be tough at practice. Yes she can be demanding for the cause. But what she also taught my daughter and her teammates is what working together can do for the good of the group. How learning from a mistake is more important than dwelling on the mistake. And how regardless of how they got the job done, make sure you pull for each other and work as a group for the good of the team. The focus is always on "TEAM".
The most difficult job for a coach is balance. Every team has its stars and every team has its role players. Bringing out the best in each player is a task because the effort of every player and the contributions of every player, large or small, can make the difference in a game. Allie wasn't a starting player on the Fallston team. But she knew her role and she played as hard as she could while she was in a game because that's how she was taught; and she understood that the team goals where what mattered, not any individual goals.
Alice Puckett, in my observation, has had a tremendous impact on her players, especially in what they will take away off the field. The entire program, JV and Varsity is one big family and every player is part of the family. The Fallston field hockey program has enjoyed tremendous success on the field under Puckett who has now won 11 state championships. But her players are also there for each other off the field. And that support and affection never ends, as evidenced by the many former players who drove the 80-miles to Washington College in Chestertown to watch the title game--once part of the family, happily always part of the family.
In fact, the biggest moment of this 2008 season may not be the 3A state title, but how the girls rallied behind a teammate who had a serious health matter late in the season. It was emotional and the girls were afraid, but they came together like a family because they are a family. They are sisters and they reacted as sisters react. That was an unexpected life lesson that had to be dealt with. And Puckett and her coaches made sure the girls were able to deal with it. It was bigger than field hockey and that's how it was approached.
Orioles fans have heard manager Dave Trembley talk about character and how important it is to have on a team. I share his view that the name on the front of the jersey is more important than the name on the back of the jersey. It's all about team and the sacrifices along the way that bring a team together to succeed. The sum of the parts is what matters, not the individual parts. And caring and pulling for each other makes it all work.
Allie and her Fallston teammates now have two state championships to their credit. That's a tremendous achievement and will never be forgotten. But more importantly, they will take with them the life lessons taught by Alice Puckett.
They may not realize it now. But they will look back on their field hockey experience and someday fully understand the lessons they have learned. And they will be better for it.
Life in the real world isn't fair or easy. It's how you handle life's challenges that matters. And Alice Puckett made sure her players understood that and, in her own way, has helped prepare them for it.
Congratulations Allie and the 2008 Fallston Cougars. And thank you Alice Puckett for all you have done for every girl who has learned more than field hockey from your coaching. The memories will never fade and neither shall the life's lessons.