“A Great Day To Be A Hornet”
It’s that time of the year to say “Happy Birthday USA” as we fire up those grills, watch the fireworks displays (or set off our own), and head to various bodies of water to cool down. There are fireworks displays all over the area, so, as we say, check your local listings for a celebration near you. With the dry conditions, let the pros handle the pyrotechnics!
The Gas Can gang struck again yesterday (Thursday) as the Nationals bullpen blew their 13th save of the season, a 5-4 gut punch from the Cubs, who scored 3 in the ninth against Blake Treinen, who needs to be DFA’d as soon as possible. He certainly has major league stuff, but doesn’t seem to have the constitution that a closer needs to have. The Nationals lost a big part of their lineup yesterday, as Trea Turner, in the midst of a 34-steal season, was hit by a pitch and suffered a wrist fracture. It will be interesting to see how the Nats overcome that loss.
Now, on to today’s headline topic. Out of the blue yesterday came the announcement that Shenandoah University Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Doug Zipp had resigned his post in order to take a similar post in Ohio, where he will be closer to family and friends.
Under his watch was the re-branding of the Hornet logo, the move into the Old Dominion Athletic Conference, and the construction of the long-awaited James R. Wilkins Athletic and Events Center. And Shenandoah teams that have become more competitive. Football was in the title hunt until late last season, Baseball is an ongoing dynasty at SU, and so on.
But I think the most important part of Doug’s legacy will be the concentration on the “student” half of the term “student-athlete”. The NCAA pays lots of lip service to that term, but it is at the Division-III level that academics is most important. Under the watchful eye of Doug Zipp, the nearly 500 student-athletes at Shenandoah raised it’s collective GPA from 2.78 to 3.08! Not only that, but those student-athletes bonded with the area by performing 5000 hours of community service.
But it’s the SU football road trips with Zipp and Scott Musa that I will cherish most, and I will leave you with a Doug Zipp story that will certainly become a classic as the years go by. A few seasons ago the aforementioned SU broadcast team was headed to a Hornet away game somewhere in the ODAC, and we were trying to get to I-66 from Doug’s Stephens City home. Using the car’s GPS, we were led through the hinterland of Warren County, and before we knew it, paved roads turned to dirt roads, until we ventured onto a private drive somewhere behind the Blue Ridge Shadows golf course. After a discussion with the unhappy property owner, and lots of diplomacy from Zipp, we were able to get back to civilization unharmed.
The following Monday I told that story on my morning radio show, with the “Dueling Banjos” from the movie Deliverance as my soundtrack. The phone immediately rang, and on the other end was the property owner whose land we had ventured upon. He said, “I’m the guy you’re talking about on the air!” We shared a laugh and all was good. We still laugh about that today.
Doug’s favorite phrase was/is “It’s a good day to be a Hornet,” and there have been many many more good days than bad under his leadership. Our loss is Ohio Wesleyan’s gain.
It’s actually sort of a sad day to be a Hornet…
Until next time…have a great and safe 4th and GO HORNETS!