No need to travel for great sports

Our Corner

Maybe it is the amount of caffeine consumed by folks here in the Northwest that fuels our storied overachiever status, but don’t we expect the same from our pro, college and high school athletes?

There seems to be an espresso stand everywhere you look these days and we lean heavily on that magically motivating mocamojo in coffee or caffeinated soda (lime Diet Coke in my case) to lift us, especially during the dreary winter months, the drudgery of which isn’t helped by the abysmal economy.

But let me get to the point – maybe our professional athletes in Seattle should take a cue from the hyped-up Seattle fans who shell out thousands of dollars to watch them lose....constantly.

While it is heavenly to just hang out in what in my humble opinion is one of the most beautifully appointed pro baseball parks in America, it would be nice if Starbucks slapped it’s famous mermaid logo on the outside of that Seattle ball yard and fittingly called it Starbucks Grounds....get it, coffee grounds?

The Starbucks name would capture the demeanor of the Jet City and surrounding hamlets and, maybe, the players could enjoy a quick jolt of espresso as part of their pre-game regimen, like that famous Italian Olympic skier, Tomba LaBomba, who would knock back a cup of that boosting black syrup before he braved the slopes. Can you imagine the increase in double plays? The M’s would be doing everything at a double time pace and it would quicken the grand old game for those who maintain that baseball’s tempo is a tad to leisurely.

But Starbucks has fallen upon hard times, laying off legions of its baristas and closing hundreds of coffee cabanas around the globe. So, Starbucks would probably balk at bankrolling that million dollars a year to have its monicker gracing the stadium. Besides Schultzie already had his shot at funding a franchise in Seattle and look what happened.

The Mariners lost more than a hundred contests in 2008 and we woke up one morning to discover that we no longer were the proud fans of a National Basketball Association squad. Oh well, long live the sensational, sizzling, sexy Seattle Storm, which in 2006 was the last Puget Sound professional sports organization to festoon a world championship banner from the Key Arena rafters.

So, we had to look to the mighty Seattle Seahawks to fill that cheering-for-a-winner void. Although they have been playing a little better lately – mostly because they have healed and have been blocking, tackling, running, passing and catching in the friendly confines of loud, louder, loudest Qwest Field – the Seasquawks were most assuredly not our salvation in 2008.

The college gridiron season in the Evergreen State was an exercise in fruitless football futility as even the annual Apple Cup, featuring universities on opposite sides of the state and different ends of the spectrum socially – turned into a woeful, unsightly clash of the cellar dwellers, in which it looked like neither team was going to wake up and smell the coffee.

I read recently that the Seattle Pacific University women’s soccer contingent won the 2008 Division II National Title – at last, something for us fuel-injected Seattle sports fanatics to hang our moth-eaten rally caps upon. We must stay optimistic though, because both the University of Washington and Washington State University might provide some memorable basketball highlights this winter to warm the cockles of our hoop hearts and send us tumbling headlong into the insanity that is hyper-driven March Madness and the Final Four.

Where is all this talk of good intentions gone bad leading to? Maybe we have the solution for fending off our frustration right under our noses. Maybe we don’t have to travel such great distances to be entertained in this wide wonderful world of sports. Maybe we can make that odyssey just down the road to one of our local high schools.

Enumclaw High had the best Class 3A high school wrestling program in the state last season and is a power again this year. I personally witnessed the EHS boys’ basketball team claim eighth in the state in 2008, though with any luck they could have finished fifth at least.

Additionally in 2008, the girl’s Cinderella basketball, volleyball and fastpitch Hornet units all answered the roll call at their respective state tournaments, topped by the champion girl golfers. The track team’s stars shone bright at state. And who could forget the 2008 Enumclaw football team, which made it to the postseason for the first time in a decade?

And what of Bonney Lake and Sumner?

The Panther diamond dudes have been regulars at the state 3A baseball tournament for the last couple go rounds, even though the high school was just opened four years ago and its wrestling, track, volleyball, basketball, football and fastpitch teams aren’t to shabby either.

Sumner? Katrina Drennen wowed us all with her harrier heroics in cross country and blazed the trail for SHS female distance runners like Hillary Norris and Ashlee Sincraugh. The SHS girls soccer and fastpitch teams both went deep into the 2008 postseason and a powerful Sumner volleyball bunch (29-2 overall) took fifth at the state tournament.

White River High’s cross country teams were plenty competitive in the fall, the girls’ basketball team is always solid under coach Chris Gibson and the boys’ hoop squad is rebuilding under veteran coach Bill Hawk. White River’s wrestlers have a long tradition of success and fans there appreciate it.

There are plenty of sporting events to see in the immediate vicinity and you won’t have to beg the bank for a small loan, just so you can take the whole tribe out to watch big brother or little sis light up the scoreboard for the home team. In these turbulent economic times, is that not a good thing?

Have a merry and safe holiday season, don’t forget to call a cab if you get in trouble and we’ll see you at those high school sporting events, amigos.

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