Best of luck to new college athletes

"Inside Pitch" -- sports commentary

As all the local high school athletes strap on their helmets, shinguards and knee pads for the start of the fall sports season, I am sitting here trying to figure out a way to fit every event into my oh-so-busy schedule.

That’s because my coverage area has gotten a lot bigger since last year, with a handful of former high-school stars taking to the field in the college ranks.

Becca Meierbachtol is right down the road at the University of Portland. Jacobe Krizman and Tommy Owyen are a little further down the road at Southern Oregon University.

Jon Munk and Todd Shypertt are a lot further away at Notre Dame de Namur University. And Matt Dallman is even further still at Chico State University.

I’m not sure if time will allow me to get all the way to Chico, Calif. (at least this season), but I plan to make at least one appearance in Ashland, and at least a couple more at U.P.

(After all, knowing a player on the defending national champs is only added incentive for this soccer nut.)

I’m also going to try to make it down to Western Baptist College in Salem to watch another local product, John Winters of Horizon Christian School. I talked to him right before he left, and I know it would mean a lot to him.

But that’s not the only reason I’m out covering these kids. I’m there because I know there are plenty of people in this community who are anxious to hear about them even after they have graduated.

There is always room in the Hood River News for a story on Beth Pendleton (University of Wisconsin swimming), Dana Huseby (University of Nevada track-and-field), Kellen Maurer (Mississippi State University golf), or Crystal Draper (Oregon State University softball).

Now let’s expand that to the Class of 2003, which, to my knowledge, produced seven college-level athletes. That’s five more than the Class of 2002, which produced only Jordan Thompson (Chico State, soccer) and Joel Stenberg (Whitworth, soccer).

Each of the recent grads figures to play a vital role on his or her new team, and of those seven athletes, six of them received some type of scholarship.

That’s really saying something, considering that the Class of 2001 and 2002 didn’t even produce half that number — combined.

But it’s not only about the money. It’s about the opportunity to play at the next level. It’s about raising the bar for future high-school athletes. It’s about making your hometown proud.

I know each of the 2003 grads that is playing at the college level this year, and I can assure you that none of them will let us down. They will give us something to be proud of, and if nothing else, something else to talk about.

High school sports season is here, and I can’t wait to do it all over again. But the athletes who have risen to the college ranks also deserve our support.

So while you’re out cheering for the Blue and Gold this season, don’t forget about the other amazing stories being written elsewhere.

I’ll do my best to make sure you won’t.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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