Friday, August 25, 2006

The Essex Shootings

Needless to say, yesterday was not a good day in our community. The shootings yesterday in Essex have the area, and myself in a total state of shock. This is something that just doesn't happen in our area, but now it has.

I heard about the shootings while doing my usual prep work for the Ice Storm game, and my Sox show down in Middlebury. When I heard about them, reporter mode kicked in and I booked it down to the scene to do reports for WVAA. The scene itself was chaos, but organized chaos. The police had the situation under control, but there was still so much confusion, and so much information coming in, it was just staggering. This was my first shooting as a reporter, and I never want to have to cover another one for as long as I live.

What still has me in shock was when one of the witnesses to the shooting found out her sister in law was one of the dead. We were all talking to this woman before she found out, just trying to get some information as to what happened, and found out that she had not heard word on her. The police pulled her aside, we thought to get her away from us, but the reality was that she was being told her sister in law was one of the dead. When we heard the screams, we knew exactly what she was told, no one had to tell us. When I say that every hair on my body was standing up straight would be an understatement. Those are screams I think I will be hearing for a long, long time to come.

As a reporter you have to keep your professional distance so you can be objective about a situation. When you leave the scene of an incident like this, the reality of what you have seen kicks in. This was a horrible incident, something I hope no one ever has to go through. I haven't gotten those images out of my head yet, and I don't think I will for awhile.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Yeah, yeah, I am actually alive.....

Yes, I am alive, so the reports of my demise just aren't accurate. Baseball season has had me going out of my little mind, and with football season fast approaching, there hasn't been much time for a life. By the way, for the liberal folk out there, Air America has moved to AM 1070 with ESPN going 24 hours and is now on AM 1390. ESPN 1390 will have coverage of high school football on Friday nights, along with Saint Michael's College basketball and hockey. We are working on the high school schedule for both sports, so stay tuned for that.

Speaking of football, there has been football going on in Burlington, but not many people seem to know about it. The Vermont Ice Storm of the semi-pro Empire football league are in first place in the Northern Division of the EFL. The team is made up of about 50 guys, none of them are actually paid. The reality is these guys actually pay to play, and are hanging on to their football careers, and in some cases are looking for a college scholarship.

Let's see here, their coach is a college professor, and quarterback Brad Ruderman is a freaking engineer. Yes, the guy has a degree in Mechanical Engineering and is still playing football. Austin Partain is a nutsoid wide receiver who was born without the ability to be fearful of anything. Austin can not only run around tackles and make DB's go into therapy for all the times he makes them miss, he goes right through guys. At 5'8/160, I have seen him go through 260 pound linebackers without a scratch. Guys like Jason Young, Kevin Mattot, and the ageless Troy Canada, who at 40 hasn't lost a step, make it look like running the West Coast offense as easy as putting on your shoes in the morning. By the way, Troy isn't a guy who is just playing football, he is going for his freaking PHD.

These are good, solid ballplayers, but world class guys as well. This is a group of guys who bust their tails on the field, work regular jobs, but still find the time to go out in the community and make a difference. Defensive Tackle Pierre Cotton coaches basketball in the Old North End, and is a caseworker for the state. When I mentioned I was working on a benefit for one of the kids I have coached who has Hodgkins Disease, he offered to do anything he could to help. Many of the guys go out and work with basketball teams, football teams, and the Special Olympics. Forget working 40 hours a week, and going to practice, their attitude is they need to make a difference in the world. Why don't the guys who make a gazillion dollars a year have this attitude?

Oh yeah, they play good football too. A few weeks ago they took on Lake City, and it was a game for the ages. 37-31 in overtime, and for a football fan, it couldn't have gotten much better. Back and forth, back and forth, and a chess match between the coaches that was just incredible. Ruderman threw for three scores and then ran for two more. (His first two carries of the YEAR, and he scores on both of them.) The last score in regulation was a four yard Ruderman scramble with 30 seconds to go. Overtime was theirs. Eight plays, 73 yards in about two minutes, and it was time to head to Franny O's for the post game party.

This week, the Ice Storm take on Ottawa. If they win, they go to the playoffs with their seeding to be determined. The last regular season game of the year is in Plattsburgh for a rematch against Lake City in what should be a classic. This week is at home against Ottawa at Colchester High School, game time is at 7:30. Get there early, these guys normally fill the joint, but there is always room for more.