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Commentary: End of the school year tid bits
by Dan Eckles
Jun 13, 2012 | 1471 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I became the Sparks Tribune’s sports editor in late 1996. After a while you start to reflect a bit. As high school graduations came and went last week, I realized so had the 16th school year that I’d been around to watch unfold.

I know there are 365 days in a year but it sure seems like one goes by a little faster, like a few days get shaved off of that 365 total each time the calendar concludes. I never experienced that feel of time seemingly passing faster until I became a parent. I’m sure more than a few of you out there understand.

So with another school year done and gone, I thought it was time to comment on a few tid bits about regarding the recently completed spring sports season.

•Fleet-footed Reed track standouts Adriana Newell and Gabby Williams deserve a few rounds of congratulations after winning multiple individual state championships at last month’s 4A state track & field meet. Newell put on a show in winning the 100 meters and helping Reed come from behind to win the 4x400m relay. Williams was impressive in racking up wins in the high jump and the two hurdles races.

A few kudos should also go out to the Reed softball program. Many believed Reed could hang around in the league title hunt, but the Raiders blew their Northern 4A foes away, rolling to a 19-1 record in conference clashes and winning the league title by three games. Additionally, after years of talk, Raiders supporters walked the walk and got an on-campus softball field constructed and finished in about an eight-month window.

•The older I get the more I also recognize the significance of saying thank you to those who make my life easier. Each of our local schools has these people. It starts at the top of the athletic departments with the athletic directors. Sparks’ Rob Kittrell, Reed’s Ron Coombs and Spanish Springs’ Art Anderson handle their AD roles with grace and professionalism.

They keep us updated on game time and site changes, many of those which come as a result of northern Nevada’s ever-changing weather conditions. The trio is always helpful when we call and prompt at returning messages when needed. And we sports writers are an inquisitive bunch. We call a lot.

There are also volunteers within given programs that are a huge help. Scorebook keepers like Connie Gammon at Reed, Frank Lawrence at Spanish Springs and Janice Bria at Sparks help catch us up and help us keep our game sequences accurate.

Assistant coaches like Larry Cooper at SSHS softball and Marco Pinto with SSHS baseball were always on the ball about sending along complete boxscores and linescores from their dandy iPads. Technology is grand.

My staff greatly appreciates the help of all of those individuals.

•At Reed, Raiders baseball coach Ray Charles is still being held in limbo over his teaching and coaching future. He has now been on administrative leave for more than a month with no idea on what kind of timeline he faces before hearing a decision from the school district

Charles has openly admitted he made some mistakes, but every source I get tells me those are of the paperwork variety and not the student safety kind.

I’ve known Charles for 13 years. I think he’s a stand-up guy and a good high school athletic coach. I’ve known him to be deeply invested in his student-athletes.

Assuming what I’ve heard is accurate, I hope he can come to a quick and fair resolution with the school district, one that gets him back in the classroom and on the baseball diamond, helping our student athletes.

•It was good to see Reed baseball back in the postseason after a three-year hiatus. The Raiders’ baseball program had been one of the North’s premiere programs for more than two decades before it fell on a few seasons of hard times.

The RHS crew is hopefully back on the right track. Northern 4A baseball is a better, deeper field when Reed is competing with the top teams when May rolls around.

•Charles and his staff at Reed can take some of the credit for Raiders’ turnaround, but any good coach will tell you success is more about the athletes than the coaching.

High school coaches definitely take too much heat from their athletes’ parents and other critics. Many of those naysayers are more worried about the success of an individual on a team than than the success of the entire team.

I look at programs like Bishop Manogue boys basketball and Spanish Springs baseball. Those programs won Northern 4A titles in the 2010-11 school year but struggled in 2011-12. Manogue coach Bill Ballinger and Spanish Springs skipper Ben Hofmann are both stellar coaches in their respective sports.

They didn’t forget everything they knew over the summer of 2011. But their rosters and talent changed immensely. You can bet those coaches, and many others like them, go some unjust criticism at times. Athletes have to perform, regardless of coaching strategy.

Manogue basketball managed just seven wins on the season but still found enough in league play to qualify for the postseason. Spanish Springs baseball stayed in the playoff hunt until the final day of regular season play before missing out on a regional tournament berth. A good question might be where would those programs have been without their regional championship-winning coaches at the helm.

•While the school year and its sports seasons are long gone, the good news is we don’t have to wait long for another one. The first day of official football practice is August 9. I can’t wait.

Dan Eckles is the Sparks Tribune’s sports editor. He can be reached via email at: deckles@

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