Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

Okay, people! This is your first and last warning! Christmas is over! Turn the lights off and take those suckers down!

Whoo, glad to get that out of my system. I am not a grouch or a Scroodge, but enough is enough! I am thinking green here.

And now…on to the rest of my blog.

It is now time for people to make their New Year’s Resolutions, which for most people will be broken by the third of the year.

I got a request from a friend at the Poteau sorta Daily News and Sun for my resolutions. I thought about saying mine is for the Journal to become so popular everybody quits reading and advertising in the Daily News.

But I didn’t. I doubted that baby would ever see paper. And again, I am thinking green here.

So, in an effort to help my readers with their resolutions, I turned to Google for help and lo and behold, they had about 10,000 topics on New Year’s Resolutions.

Here are the top 10 resolutions based on one web site. No information on success or failure rate.

1. Lose weight (A lot of people need to do this, especially the Wal Mart shoppers who always seem to be in the way of where I am trying to go.
2. Manage debt. (No comment)
3. Save money (yes, another one I need to do. See No. 4 below for the major problem with this one)
4. Get a better job (uh, how about a job?)
5. Get fit (Yeah, right!)
6. Get a better education (not a resolution, but something even the Craigman needs)
7. Drink less alcohol (okay, I will stick with beer, or light beer which will help with No. 1 and No. 5!)
8. Quit smoking (I don’t! Good thing I only dip)
9. Reduce stress (okay, I’ll take a nap now!)
10. Volunteer (Does throwing the ball for my dog count here?)

I even did more research! (Yes, it is a slow news day). Two psychiatrists at the University of Maryland offered some tips on achieving resolutions!

Serious, I am not making this up.

One of them suggested the following: Create bite-sized jobs for yourself that you'll be able to accomplish. If your goal is too big, you'll feel defeated before you even get started."

Let’s face it, I feel defeated.

And yet, there were even more tips!

1. Avoid perfectionist thinking. Hmm, how about half you know what thinking? I am good at that.

2. View setbacks as lessons for growth. That is instead of the, boy I really screwed that one up thinking.

3. Don’t make absolute resolutions. This was an example one of them suggested, honest: Instead of saying you won't yell at your kids anymore, resolve to yell at them less often.

4. Don’t keep your resolutions to yourself. Yeah, make sure everybody knows how badly and quickly you fail so they can laugh at you.

5. Give them some meaning. That means don’t make resolutions that aren’t important to you. So this means I don’t have to make a resolution to carry out the trash each week and won’t have to do it, or feel bad when I don’t.

6. Take baby steps. Are there any others? This is also called procrastinating.

7. Fine-tune your spirituality. Whatever.

I hope this helps you with your resolutions.

And yes, I have decided on my resolution. My Resolution is to not make any resolutions, that way I can’t fail.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Just what the heck is going on? Global warming? Me thinks not. Maybe this is just a hint of winter then the weather will return to what has been normal over the last few years.

I don’t like the cold weather. I don’t care for snow, sleet or a mixture of the two. When I was a young (but a cool guy) I loved the snow. Probably because we didn’t have to go to school and the blood flow must have been better then.

It was cold, but not bad. Now, it can be 40 degrees and I don’t want to be outside. My ears hurt, my fingers don’t work that well and there is the whole bald thing to factor in.

I do like cool…just not cold. The last few years have been fairly mild in the winter so I guess we need a bad winter. But I vote no.

People around my age and up remember some good winter weather. Up to a foot of snow, frequent white stuff, etc.

Now if we get the bad stuff, it is usually ice. Ice is good in a drink but not to drive on.

If I wanted to live somewhere with a lot of snow, I would move north. But I live in LeFlore County, where we get the cold stuff in the winter and the hot stuff in the summer.

Some people say they couldn’t live where the weather was nice year round. They like the different seasons. Okay. I like the fall and spring (aside from tornados and allergies) but I would like to try living in a place where the weather is 70 to 75 year round, or maybe a little warmer during the day and cool in the evening.

But I guess if I did that, I would have to deal with gangs and earthquakes, plus the cost of living would be a little higher than LeFlore County.

I guess I will have to settle for living like that in retirement. Three homes for the Craigman! One here for the start of football season until the end; a warm place for the winter; back home for the spring; then off to the north for the summer.

Now I just have to figure out how to pay for it. Legally. Maybe my upcoming N.Y. Times bestseller: “The Life and times of Craigman!” (advance orders are welcome and I will start writing as soon as I get motivated, or figure out how to make my rather boring life sound enchanting).

Here is my first chapter, which is as far as I have gotten.

I was a fat little Craigman when I was born, nothing to write home (or a book about). A few people knew their lives would never be the same. My life changed soon, about the time I got old enough to waddle. It was the 1960s! Times were a changin’ and not always for the best.”

Wow! Is that good? Kind of makes you want to read more, eh? Time to work on the rest of the tell-all (except the embarrassing parts)!

Monday, December 28, 2009

My Christmas!

Nobody asked how my Christmas went. But I know that is just because you are shy but really want to know.

Right? Uh, whatever.

It was nasty weather, as you may recall. Fortunately, I survived, which you can see as I am writing this blog.

But enough of the blather! On to the excitement!

The bad weather forced an early Christmas Eve dinner, not that I cared. The food was ready! After a massive feast, I braved the nasty weather to return my daughter to sender. It was near blizzard like conditions in the greater Cameron metro area.

After the prisoner exchange, I stopped by Wal Mart for something. It was shortly before closing time and the following announcement aired twice during my short visit: “Attention associates, the store will be closing in --- minutes so our associates can spend Christmas Eve with their families!”

I might not be the sharpest nail in the sheetrock, but I figured the associates knew what time they got to Escape from Wal Mart! (Hmm, sounds like a low-budget thriller starring Christian Slater or Cuba Gooding Jr.!) I wondered why they didn’t say: “Hey, get through shopping, idiots who are in Wal Mart on Christmas Eve! We want to go home!”

I would like to add that the freak factor was rather high that evening. When we went in, it was only snowing. But the sleet hit the fan (and cars and road) while I was inside and started covering everything.

I also made my first snowball of the winter! Unfortunately my target slipped behind cover as the snowball headed toward her. No, I was never a pitcher in baseball and didn’t know she could move that fast.

As I made my way home later that evening, the roads were getting a little yucky. I fell in with a convoy of several other vehicles going a whopping 40. I urged! I pleaded! I shook my head in a dramatic fashion! Nothing helped! They wouldn’t go faster. Maybe I should have extended the middle finger, but since it was dark and Christmas Eve, I held off.

On Christmas morning, I made a trip back to Poteau. Only one car and a truck in the ditch. I considered chuckling, but didn’t since it wasn’t that funny and it was Christmas.

But hey, on the day after Christmas, I braved Wal Mart in Poteau and Fort Smith and even went by the mall! Too many people. I have had nightmares of that day. That was plural, as you can tell by the “s” on the end of nightmare. It could have been another bad movie: “Trapped in Wal Mart the day after Christmas!” The return line stretched nearly out the door.

Let’s just say the Christmas spirit was not evident in a lot of the people. I wanted to say Merry Christmas to a few to see the reaction, but I didn’t. Okay, I didn’t want to get hit over the head with a 50-pound purse! Would you? Some of the people looked meaner than the people eaters in Night of the Living Dead.

I also coughed a lot from a combo cold/flu! I blame that on being out in the weather too much and all the germs at the mall and Wal Mart. Obviously the peeps did not know to sneeze into their elbow. Get me a personal injury lawyer! Pronto!

Overall, I survived. I checked the weather this morning. More snow tomorrow? What the Martin N. Hinds is going on?

I did see on Facebook that my buddy Janie (Pitchford) Hairrell’s birthday is today. Happy birthday! She’s almost as old as I am!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

My early basketball teams, coaches

A warning! This blog has nothing to do with Christmas Eve, Christmas or the upcoming New Year.

There, I feel better and hope that won’t disappoint you.

Instead, this blog is about basketball, and my mid-term all-county team and coaches of the year.

This is just based on the first part of the season. A lot can and will change by the end of the season when we will have a real all-county team.


Coach of the Year—I’ll give this to Scott Nelke of Poteau, although Brooks Cawhorn of Howe and Dustin Gist of Spiro also deserve recognition. Poteau’s program was down when Nelke took over but the Pirates are already one of the best teams in the county.

Poteau has lost only two games and will make a lot of noise over the second half of the season and in the county tournament. Cawhorn’s Lions have only lost one game, knocked off Red Oak and already won two tournaments while Gist and Spiro are also one of the best teams in the county and have wins over Poteau, Heavener and Pocola.

All-county team: Jordan Eagleroad and Marcus Sullivan of Talihina; Mike White of Spiro, Brandon Kirkland and Koda Glover of Heavener, Jaron Wiggington and Jared Wann of Howe, Josh Ross and Britt Brown of Poteau, Mikeal Brooks of Panama, and Patrick Dixon of Pocola. Taggart Lockhart of Talihina has missed the early part of the season with a knee injury but is expected to return at the first of the year, making the Tigers even that much tougher.


Coach of the Year—A fairly easy choice: Chris Brown at Howe. Despite losing eight of the top 10 scorers from a year ago, the Lady Lions are undefeated and have won two tournaments (just like the guys). One other coach who deserves some consideration is first-year coach Todd Hackler at LeFlore.

All-county team: Randa Grant and Chelsea Baggs of Howe, Taylor Collins of Heavener, Misty Johnson of LeFlore, Courtney Allison of Poteau, Megan Severe and Taylor Martindale of Pocola, Kacie Orzol of Bokoshe.

There will be additions for the all-county team which will be announced after the season is over. If I have left somebody out, please put the person's name in the comment box below, or if you have other comments and suggestions.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

My Facebook day!

As both of my blog readers know, I am not a Facebook fanatic! I do not feel the need to share what I am doing at every second of the day with lots of people who would put me on the ignore list or defriend me if I did.

I do use Facebook to update what is going on with the Journal, but that is it. I realize nobody really gives a flying flip what I am doing every second of every day. But in an effort to fit in with that crowd, I am going to list what my Facebook day would look like!

I know, nobody cares, so why am I writing a blog about what my day would look like if nobody actually would care to read it? Uh, beats me. I just thought it would be fun.

(Between 6:30 and 7:30 a.m.) Whoa, I am out of bed! Gosh, I wish I could have slept longer but I woke up. Man, I don’t feel good this morning because (please pick appropriate response) a. I didn’t get enough sleep! b. I slept too much! c. It is too cold! d. It is too hot! Or my personal favorite: e. ooh, maybe I shouldn’t have had that third helping of chili last night!

(Shortly after I have gotten out of bed) Hey guys, just used the restroom! I feeeeel so much better! (Please note, this can’t be used on the mornings after the third bowl of chili the previous night)

(Approximately 8 a.m.) Well, I just read the newspaper! Boy, I wish the Fort Smith paper would write about things I care about! The sports page featured 90 percent crud on the Razorbacks!

(8:15ish) Hmm, I wonder if I should shave? It's only been two weeks. I could probably wait another day!

(Approximately 8:30) Fixing to eat breakfast! (Five minutes later) Finished breakfast! Boy, am I stuffed! I might have to make another pit stop!

(A little later, depending on the circumstances post breakfast) Working on web site! Read my emails! Man, I get a lot of junk on my Yahoo mail account! Does Viagra know something I don’t?

(Mid morning) Still working on updating the web site. I checked my email for the fifth time! Got another email from somebody wanting me to take Viagra, for some reason. Also got some good stuff for the Journal!

(Around lunch) I am fixing to eat lunch! Gosh, I don’t know what I should have! But I know it will be good!

(A few minutes later) I am eating lunch! Bologna! Man, that really hit the spot. I wonder why nobody has commented on my status updates? I guess everybody is really busy today!

(Around 1) Boy, a nap sure would be good!

(A little later) I took a nap! Now I feel groggy and like it is my time of the month!

(After a cup of coffee) Ifeelenergizedagain! Notinabadmoodanymore. Guess everybody is still busy, no comments!

(Midafternoon) Think I’ll turn on the television and see what is happening! Man, there’s like 10 zillion shows featuring irritable judges and spouses cheating on each other and lying about it!

(Sometime later, after I have tired of watching people shout at each other) Going to visit my special friend!

(Approximately 4 p.m.) I wonder why nobody is home? I keep knocking but nobody answers the door and I hear movement inside! Maybe it’s the dog?

(6ish!) Going to cover a basketball game!

(A few minutes later) Driving to a basketball game! Is Facebook messed up? Still no status comments, everybody must still be busy! Going to stop at a convenience store to get something to eat!

(Around 6:20) At the gym at (insert whoever here)! Gosh, my stomach sure is queasy! I wonder why?

(6:30) Game is fixing to tip off! Man, I feel like I am about to explode!

(6:45) End of first quarter! Man, this game is exciting! It is 5-4!

(7) My stomach just groaned so loud the girl fixing to shoot a free throw paused and asked if I was okay! She must have been concerned cause she missed both. Halftime, 15-14! Lots of attempted threes! Not a whole lot of drives so my pictures will probably not be good!

(7:20) Went to the restroom! Looked like something had died there so I hope to make it home without a major accident! Second half has started! Whoa, another three attempt!

(8) I wonder how old those corn dogs were I ate for dinner? Everything is a little blurry and it feels like the Grambling band is performing in my stomach!

(8:15) First game is over! Final score 20-18! Now on to boys!

(8:30) Hey, the boys are starting! I wonder why the school administrator is eyeing me funny?

(9) An officer of the law takes me aside and asks if I have any contagious diseases! I tell him I am just here to cover the game. Said he had some complains from the 10th row. He looked dubious!

(10) Game is over! Almost as many fouls as there were points! I guess the officials thought they were getting paid per foul!

(10:30) I am home! Is that an EPA van parked out front? Checked Facebook and still no comments! I didn’t know people were that busy! Going to write my story and post it and pictures! I bet lots of people are ready for that!

(11:30) Well, long day! I finished my story and pictures! Guess I’ll go to bed! Goodnight FB friends!

Then, I sleep!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My early LCT blog

The brackets and seeding for the LeFlore County Tournament were decided on Wednesday evening.

I am no expert, which most people notice quickly and don’t hesitate to inform me, but I have seen nine of the county schools play basketball this season and will add two more to that list when I watch Talihina play at Wister tonight.

The only other schools I have not seen are Arkoma and Whitesboro, but I plan on seeing them some time this year.

I also have a ranking for county schools on the Journal. Let’s see how the old Craigger did as opposed to how the coaches seeded the schools, shall we? Yes, we shall!

Girls Boys
Journal Coaches Journal Coaches
1. Howe 2. Heavener 1. Talihina 1. Talihina
2. Heavener 2. Howe 2. Howe 2. Spiro
3. Pocola 3. LeFlore 3. Spiro 3. Poteau
4.LeFlore 4. Pocola 4. Poteau 4. Heavener
5. Poteau 5. Bokoshe 5. Heavener 5. Howe
6. Panama 6. Poteau 6. Pocola 6. Panama
7. Spiro 7. Panama 7. Panama 7. Pocola
8. Talihina 8. Wister 8. Wister 8. Wister
9. Bokoshe 9. Spiro 9. Cameron 9. Cameron
10. Wister 10. Talihina 10. Arkoma 10. Whitesboro
11. Arkoma 11. Whitesboro 11. Whitesboro 11. LeFlore
12. Whitesboro 12. Arkoma 12. LeFlore 12. Bokoshe
13. Cameron 13. Cameron 13. Bokoshe 13. Arkoma

As you can see, there are some differences, not that it matters a whole lot. The main differences in the two are in the boys where I have Howe rated second while the coaches had the Lions fifth.

If you look at the team, they are not as athletic as some schools ranked above them. But they are a solid team with good basketball players and I think Howe deserves my ranking because they just knocked off Red Oak on Saturday night.

One big difference on the girls is the coaches have Bokoshe at fifth while I have them at ninth. No offense to the Lady Tigers, but I feel like both Poteau and Panama are better teams and would win head-to-head.

The Journal and coaches also have Pocola and Panama at different positions. They are two similar teams with good coaching and players.

My darkhorse for the boys is Poteau. I have the Pirates at No. 4 while the coaches selected them third. But if any team has a chance at knocking off Talihina, Poteau would be my choice. The Pirates are the biggest team in the county, are also well coached and have some good guards.

Everybody is pointing to a Heavener and Howe matchup in the girls. But a team to watch out for is LeFlore. The Lady Savages have some good scorers and one of the better players in the county in Misty Johnson.

The Journal had Pocola selected above LeFlore, but this is one that could go either way. Overall, Pocola has better athletes, but it would not be a big surprise to see LeFlore finish third.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Once upon a time...

The following admission is not one I like to share.

Once, I was an official in football and basketball. I called football for two years and basketball for one year (yes, that was all it took!)

Actually, I am still an official, but only from a distance. I see good officials, some that aren’t so good and others that…never mind.

There have been plenty of times I was not pleased with officiating in pro, college and high school.

And yes, I have voiced my displeasure. There have been times where I even yelled, mainly at the television. I try to behave in public. You will see why shortly.

Some people are not as well behaved, even in high school and junior high games.

I might catch myself helping an official at times, but I don’t say things as a personal insult and try to limit my comments, since I am technically working and supposed to be impartial.

Well, I am impartial when it is two county teams playing each other. If it is a county team playing against an out of county team, I want the county team to win. It just might not seem that way in my stories as I try to be balanced.

I cringe, groan and might make a comment to whoever is unlucky enough to be sitting by me, but I never yell or stand and wave my arms and tell the official he or she is blind, an idiot or needs to quit officiating, which I have heard many times this year and in years past.

That is because I realize what the officials are going through. I have seen many games where the officiating seems slanted to one team over another, even this year. I don’t like this and try to convince myself that is not the case.

After all, we are dealing with people and after officiating (especially basketball), I know how difficult it is to call games. In high school, the officials are part time. This isn’t there main job and most of the officials do it because they love the sport and enjoy it.

I wouldn’t want to call basketball. I doubt most of the people sitting in the stands could do better, or would want to try.

Coaches, fans and players get frustrated. I still do. I remember getting called for fouls when I never even breathed on an opponent.

And yes, I even got hit with a technical while playing. An official called a foul on me and I turned the opposite direction and made a comment about the call. Unfortunately, the other official happened to be looking in my direction and did not appreciate what I said, not that I blame him.

I got a seat on the bench for doing that and a lecture from my parents. Sadly, my mother didn’t see or hear what I said but some snitch felt inclined to share my comment. I was told that if I wanted to continue my athletic career, I should not use that type of language, especially at a public event.

I tried to do better after that, and still do.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A good night to be a Lion...and Lady Lion

Saturday night was a special night for Howe’s players, coaches and fans.

The Howe contingent got to see both their teams take the first-place trophies in the EOSC Tournament.

Just getting into the finals was good and one win would have been great. But two wins was extra special, especially because of the opposition and the brilliant play by a player on each of the teams. Plus the endings just added to the celebration.

The Lady Lions downed Indianola, which had been ranked 11th coming into the game while Howe was seventh. Howe trailed early in the game by 10 points, fought back to take the lead only to see Indianola rally.

Howe trailed by three points with 1:44 left before going on an 8-0 run to take the lead and clinch the win in front of a packed crowd. The final score was 72-69. Two players from Howe, Chelsea Baggs and Randa Grant were named to the All-Tournament Team with Baggs winning the MVP award.

To win, Howe had to overcome a spectacular night from the Lady Warriors’ Whitney Barnes, who scored 36 points despite constant pressure.

If the first game was the main course, the nightcap was dessert. Howe would face Red Oak, the second-ranked team in Class B. The Eagles were undefeated on the season and won the Class B state championship last year.

Howe took the game to the Eagles from the very start. The only way Red Oak stayed close was the shooting of junior Dwight Camp, one of the best shooters I have seen in high school.

At one point, the 6-4 junior knocked down three straight baskets from well outside the three-point line, from different spots. All three shots touched little as they went through the gym.

But Howe kept its composure despite the play of Camp. In the second half, the Lions built a lead of nine points, but their two big guys fouled out and after Red Oak cut the lead to one, it looked bad for Howe.

Howe came back and took a lead, thanks to some clutch free-throw shooting, only to see Red Oak tie the score with 8 seconds left. The Lions roared down the floor and made a basket as the buzzer sounded, only the officals called walking and waved off the basket.

Red Oak scored first in overtime. Howe bounced back with a three-point basket by Jared Brown to take the lead and Jace Johnson added another basket to give the Lions a three-point lead.

Howe hit its free throws down the stretch, including six straight in the final 40 seconds to clinch the win and shock the Red Oak players, coaches and fans.

Camp finished with 32, but the balanced play by Howe was the difference. The Lions had four players in double figures, including Jared Wann, who scored 20 points in the finals and was MVP. Jaron Wiggington was also named to the All-Tournament team.

The only thing that could top this would be a double win in the finals of the LeFlore County Tournament. That will be extra tough, but judging from Saturday night, don’t count Howe out.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Thanks to worked!

Many years ago, I helped picked all-this and all-that teams.

That was back in the 1980s when I worked at a newspaper in Texas. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and I am that old, even though I obviously don’t look like it.

For the most part, it was an easy decision. When I decided to do an All-County football team for the Journal, I knew it would not be as easy.

First, because it is a little closer to home. I live here, know a bunch of the kids and coaches. I wondered how the players, coaches, fans and especially parents would react if their favorite player was not selected.

So I knew that there would be some upset people. For anybody upset, I apologize and know how it feels. But I can honestly say (or write) that I did my best and tried to be fair and impartial on all the selections.

I also hope you like the team. I did a lot of work, helped by a lot of people. Instead of strictly replying on coaches, I also opened up the nominations to our readers and we received some good input.

There were also letters sent out to the head coaches at all eight schools playing football. We received nominations from coaches at five of the schools and I want to thank the coaches for taking the time to fill out the ballots, along with the fans who sent in nominations.

The team would not have been possible without your help. I am pleased with the selections, just wish we had gotten information from all the county schools.

To all the players and the coach selected, congratulations. I really enjoyed covering the games this year and getting to watch and meet many of you. During the season, I traveled to Spiro (twice), Talihina (three times), Heavener, Poteau (three times), Sallisaw and even to Hennessey to watch our county players play.

The coaches and players were great, as were the fans and readers. I look forward to next year and the All-County teams in all the other sports. Again, thank you.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A different look

As many of you know, I enjoy photography.

My main interests are sports, bugs and landscape.

I like to do my pictures a little different, from getting inches away from bugs (yes, some that sting and I have been stung and bit) to using different angles and views.

On Tuesday, I went to Heavener's game at Spiro. As I mentioned in a previous blog, I love Spiro's gym. It is one of the few gyms I have been to that has lighting good enough that I don't have to use a flash.

Before going to the gym, I wanted to capture the look of the beautiful gym and action all in a different view from the normal shot.

So I gave it some thought and decided to try the image you see below.

I took my 10-22 mm Canon lens and set it at 10 mm, which is as you can see very wide angle. I set the speed at extremely slow to capture the blurred motion which is evident in the picture. To see a bigger version of the shot, click HERE.
Then, I sat the camera on the floor, held the camera still with one hand while I pressed the shutter. the ISO was at 100 while the aperture was f-22.

I did not apply any special effects to the picture such as blurring. The blur is from the slow shutter speed which shows the players and coaches moving. The Spiro cheerleader on the right was still, although she did almost kick me in the face later on, which I hope was an accident. You can also see the scoreboard at the center of the court.
Just thought I would share this picture and how I took it with you.

Monday, December 7, 2009



I don’t often ask for help or like to ask, but I need your help.

Actually, it’s not just for me. It’s also for two of my best friends, Gabby and Rufus.

See, Gabby and Rufus are two of my dogs. I have moved and can’t take Gabby and Rufus with me. So they need a home, a very good home.

Gabby is approximately eight years old and is half Akita and half Rottweiler. She loves people and going on walks. I am not sure about moonlight dinners. Gabby is a good watchdog and is an outside dog.

Rufus is four-years old and is a full-blood Boxer. He has a great personality and loves people. Rufus is good with little ones and loves to be with people.

Rufus has been neutered and Gabby has been spayed so no puppy worries! They are both good-sized dogs but both are very loving and have good personalities.

If you are interested in either Gabby or Rufus, please call me at (918) 649-4712.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Hoopsters, baby!

The basketball was a little ragged at times. Okay, it was frequently ragged. The officials, understandably, looked the other way as players took several steps while holding the ball and frequently double, triple and quadruple dribbled the ball.

None of the coaches or fans complained. The coaches were too busy trying to give instructions and the fans were too busy laughing or encouraging the little ones.

This was not a high school, junior high or elementary game. Nope, it was Hoopsters action at the Heavener High School gym early on a Saturday morning.

A friend, Ralph Perdue Jr., told me his daughter was playing and as a good buddy, I showed up to try and take some pictures.

I messed up the time and showed up early, but that’s okay. I came back, talked to a few friends and watched the little ones arrive. On one end, the older kids played while on the other end, the REALLY little ones played on a court with lower rims than normal.

Baskets were few and far between, about what you would expect from children ranging in grades from kindergarten to third grade.

The teams sported t-shirts proudly proclaiming they were the Lady Lakers, Replacements, Lil Stealers and my personal favorite, the Dribblin Divas.

The talent level varied among the players, as did the size. There were some tall kids, short ones and a bunch in between. Some of the players wanted the ball and didn’t mind the contact while others preferred standing around and watching the action, running to the other end of the court when their coaches or parents told them to go that way.

I sat on one end and watched the battle between the Lady Lakers (yes, all girls) play the Replacements.

The Replacements took an early lead and despite a rally by the Lady Lakers, held on for the win.
I must admit, I didn’t catch the final score. Not that it really mattered. The little boys and girls were playing for the right reason: just to have fun.

There were frequent substitutions, and not just during time outs.

Nobody let out a boo, questioned a coaching decision or shouted at the officials.

I liked that. It was basketball the way it should be played. They had fun. Basketball is a game, after all, designed for physical fitness and for the kids to have fun.

None of the players will worry one bit about the loss. The fans and parents won’t retreat to a forum and question the sanity of coaches or officials or discuss strategy that might have made a difference in the outcome.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Rating the county gyms

Two days ago, I wrote a blog about how impressed I was with Spiro’s new gym.

I have been to all the county gyms, aside from Talihina and Whitesboro. I decided to rate the gyms and get input about where I was right or wrong. I have heard good things about Talihina’s gym, don’t know anything about Whitesboro’s gym and since I haven’t actually seen them, they will be left out of the ratings.

This will only cover high-school gyms so CASC will not be listed.

1. Spiro—a great gym, no doubt. Spiro has set a standard all other schools should strive to meet. All chairback seats, great lighting, scoreboard in the center of the court and much more. Also can hold more fans than any other gym in the county.

2. Howe—the second-newest gym in the county. Good lighting, plenty of seating.

3. Heavener—this gym is one of my favorites, even though it is now almost 30 years old. Lots of seating, good floor, decent lighting.

4. Poteau—I don’t have fond memories of this gym since we got our tush kicked the only time I played there, but still a good gym. This gym opened the same year as Heavener, the fall of 1980.
5. Wister—another pretty new gym. Wister should be proud of this facility.

6. LeFlore—It has been about 10 years since I last visited LeFlore’s gym, but it was nice back then.

7. Panama—an old gym that has stood the test of time.

8. Pocola—another old one still in decent shape.

9. Arkoma—a good gym for a small school. Will host part of the county tournament this year.

10. Bokoshe—It has been a while since I was there but it is another good gym for a small school.

11. Cameron—The last of the old-time gyms. Wooden bleachers, little room around the court, not a whole lot of parking. But hey, it was built in the 1930s, I imagine. The only school to not build a new gym in the last half century. Banners galore on the walls, looks like it could have been used for the movie "Hoosiers".

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Spiro did it right

I knew Spiro had a new gymnasium prior to Tuesday night.

Several people had told me how nice the gym was but wanted to see for myself. I am not easily impressed and didn’t expect to be surprised.

I went to the new gym Tuesday night to cover Spiro’s game with Poteau. I had been to Spiro’s old gym several times over the years, even played in it. The gym was a dump and needed to be sent out to pasture like the old gyms in Talihina, Heavener and Poteau, among others.

So when I pulled into the parking lot, I was surprised at the number of parking spots. I had been to the gyms at Sallisaw and Muldrow and was impressed.

As I walked to the entrance, I could see the chair-backed seats on both sides and the walkway leading around the court.

My first thought was whoever designed this facility did it right. Two concession stands, nice restrooms, plenty of room in the lobby, a nice stage area at the far end, even a scoreboard mounted from the ceiling in the middle of the court. This was the first time I had seen this at a high school.

They even had game clocks attached to both baskets. I made my way down to the court level and checked out the lighting. It was great! No need for a flash for my camera! Plus, there was plenty of room on the baselines so I could keep back far enough to avoid getting trampled by the officials while taking pictures.

I heard different numbers on the seating ranging from 1,400 to 1,600. That seemed about right. Plus, all the seats had backs on them. All the seats were also back away from the court with no seating at the bottom, although seats could be set up on the stage to increase the number of seats, if necessary.

The only negative I heard was that the railing is tough to see over if you are sitting in the first three rows. In the second game, I sat in the second row and had no trouble seeing the action.

I did not count the number of seats, but was confident more people could fit in Spiro’s gym than any other one in the county, including Carl Albert’s.

There was some talk about holding the finals of the county tournament in the new gym before it was announced Friday’s semifinals and Saturday games would again be held at UAFS.

Some coaches weren’t crazy about playing the finals at Spiro since it would not be a neutral location. I don’t necessarily blame them. But a facility this nice needs to be used as much as possible, such as all the semifinal games being held there with the finals held at UAFS since the crowd might be bigger than Spiro’s gym could held.

Seeing such a nice facility made me thing about how great it would be if a facility this nice with twice the seating could be built in Poteau. That way the county tournament would not have to be held across the state line and all the district, regional and area tournaments in the southeast could be held in Poteau.

With the economy struggling, it would be difficult to build a facility like that. But can you imagine the impact such a facility would have for Poteau and the county?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

All County team coming soon

Perhaps I am a glutton for punishment, or maybe just don’t know any better.

But yesterday, I posted a story and ballot for the upcoming All-County football team which will appear in the Journal on Dec. 11. I also mailed ballots to all the football coaches at the county schools.

I hope to hear back from all the coaches. I would also like to hear from assistant coaches, fans and the players. The selections will be based on this input along with my personal input.

I saw five of the eight county teams this year. The only ones I did not see play were Pocola, Arkoma and Bokoshe. The players from those schools will get the same look as players from other schools.

If a player had a good season and somebody feels like that player deserves recognition, he will certainly get looked at.

The final selection will be mine. So don’t gripe to your coach or superintendent if a player is not selected. Gripe at me, just make sure the player was nominated first.

We will have a Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Newcomer of the Year and the Spirit Award.

Several nominations have already arrived. Hopefully, many others will come in. All positions are open. If you do want to nominate a player, include as much information as possible.

We will also have a first-team offense and defense and a second team for offense and defense, along with honorable-mention selections.

So, since this will generate some controversy why did I do this? Simple, for the people who coach, play or watch football. Some kids will feel honored, others won’t. I know this and have a pretty good idea how those players will feel. Plus I hope it will attract readers.

Here is the ballot.

You can submit your ballots by email or mail them to: LeFlore County Journal, P.O. Box 550, Heavener, Ok. 74937.