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Greetings From The Booth!
Some sad news from The Booth to report. Former WUSA9 sportscaster Ken Mease passed away recently. He was 80, and according to family members, had been suffering from dementia. Which would certainly explain why we didn’t see Ken at this year’s Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, where he was inducted into the SABF Sports Hall Of Fame. In addition to being a solid sportscaster on Channel 9 in DC, Mease was the longtime MC at the Apple Blossom Sports Breakfast, and was deserving of his HOF honor.
There are two kinds of Festival celebrities: those who fly or drive in, fulfill their obligations to the bare minimum, and head back out of town. I won’t name names. And there are those who fall in love with the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival and the Winchester area, and want to soak up all the vibe of the Bloom. Ken Mease was one of the latter. He came to embrace the Festival, and was a big part of it every year. Because of conflicting obligations, I’ve never attended a Sports Breakfast, but I had the pleasure of hearing Ken speak at some other Bloom events at which he made appearances. Over the years, he became one of us. We lift our pink and green cups to Ken Mease! He will be missed.
Changing gears, the high school football season kicked off this past Friday, with one notable exception. The Skyline Hawks were scheduled to play the Strasburg Rams in the opener for both teams. However, the game didn’t happen, because of some social media posts that threatened the safety of fans at Proctor Field in Strasburg. Details are still coming in, and local law enforcement are still investigating. Suffice it to say that officials made the right call to cancel the game, erring on the side of safety. That should always be the priority.
It’s a sad commentary that we live in an age where someone can shut down a sporting event with a negative social media post. Players on both teams had prepared all Summer (and longer) for what should have been a special night. The high school football schedule is just 10 games long, and for seniors especially, each one is precious. Now, it’s simply an unplayed game they can’t get back.
There are those who blame the worlds ills on social media. I say it’s simply a medium through which both good and evil flow. Social media has connected us in ways we would not have thought possible 40 years ago. It has also been a conduit for hate, bullying, and worse. We must all have our radar up so that our teams and fans can safely enjoy football on a Friday night.
Anything less is unacceptable.
Until the next time from the Booth…be safe, be diligent, and be true to your school!
Late Friday afternoon Shenandoah County Public Schools announced the cancellation of the Strasburg Ram’s first game of the season.
Strasburg Rams were to open the football season against Skyline High School on Fri. Aug. 26.
The cancellation stemmed from a social media comment threatening the safety of students and fans at the game at Strasburg’s Glenn Proctor Field.
The Shenandoah County School Board did not say what type of thereat was indicated.
Shenandoah County Sheriff Tim Carter did say the threat came from a student at Strasburg High School but there was not enough or sufficient evidence to press charges.
Anyone with any additional information can contact the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office at 540-459-6100.
For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.
Greetings from The Booth!
It is with great disappointment that I announce the end of my 22 year run as play-by-play man for our local university. I’ll leave out the details, and only say that I take away great memories from that part of my life. I’ll miss the travel, the game-day routine, and all the players, coaches, administrators, and broadcast partners that I got to know through the good seasons and the not-so-good seasons. I wish them only the best.
As they say, the end of one thing opens up opportunity for something new, and this Fall, I return to my roots to broadcast area high school football on Friday nights. I started doing play-by-play back in the 80’s and was fortunate enough to call Handley’s 1984 State Championship game from Scott Stadium at UVA. I also called their 1994 State Title game in the mud at Gate City, as well as several Sherando State Championship games, and the infamous “lights out” game between James Wood and Handley. There’s nothing quite like high school football, and I look forward to calling the games.
(I will also look forward to having Saturdays free, so I can watch my beloved WVU Mountaineers!)
Being that I am a movie geek, I wanted to celebrate the kickoff of high school football this weekend by highlighting three of my favorite movies about high school football that hopefully will get you fired up for your big game. Here they are, in no particular order…
Remember The Titans. An absolutely uplifting true story of the 1971 TC Williams high school team, who went through the challenges of integration and found common ground. Denzel Washington, who I think is one of the great actors of our generation, is outstanding as the head coach who is hired to replace his white counterpart (who remains on the team as an assistant). An amazing story, worth watching over and over.
All The Right Moves. A sometimes forgotten Tom Cruise movie from 1983, in which he plays Steph, a talented defensive back for Ampipe High in a dying Pennsylvania steel town. Steph, who has a chance at playing for a major university and escaping Ampipe, is the goat at the end of a big game and when the coach calls him out, the two have a confrontation, resulting in Steph not being allowed to ride the team bus home. A drunken Steph and several townies terrorize the coach’s home and he is thrown off the team. The coach and Steph eventually reconcile and when the coach takes a college job, he recruits Steph to play for him. Craig T. Nelson is great as the coach, and would later play the title role in the hit TV show “Coach.”
Friday Night Lights. Probably the gold standard of high school football films, FNL follows the drama of a team from Odessa, Texas in their quest for a state title. The movie also explores the almost religious fanaticism of high school football in the Lone Star State, and the peripheral world of boosters, influencers, and hangers-on. Kudos to Tim McGraw, who portrays a once-great athlete living his life vicariously through his son.
Enjoy the Friday Night Flicks and remember to get out there and “be true to your school!” Here’s to a safe and successful season for all our area teams, and I look forward to calling the action from The Booth!
In this edition of the SDPC, I pull my Wake-Up Crew partner Scott Bradley out of the bullpen and veer away from sports a bit by talking about County Fairs. Our “sports” tie-in is pro wrestling, which has been a big part of the fairs for me over the years. Enjoy the stories, and we hope to see you at a county fair near you in the coming weeks!
R-Dog (aka Randy Woodward)