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FREE JALC’s Chelsea Wallace • Z-R’s Jim Mitchell • RLC’s Dey Tuach Dey

July 2010 • Vol. 3 No. 12

Nashville native and SIU grad Allison (Easley) deMiranda is helping put the ‘WOW’ in St. Louis Cardinals baseball


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Publisher/Editor Jim Muir

Account Executive Cheryl Hughey

Photographers

Christopher Kays Ceasar Maragni

Contributing Writers Teri Campbell John D. Homan Roger Lipe Ceasar Maragni Jim Muir Mike Murphy Joe Szynkowski Nathan Wheeler Tom Wheeler

For more information regarding Southern Illinois Sports Connection call Jim at 618-525-4744. For advertising information, call Cheryl at 618-353-8515.

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Th e L i n e U p Publisher’s Greeting..................6 Points to Ponder.......................9 Ask the Jock Doc.......................10 Faith on the Field....................12 In Focus...................................18 Murf’s Turf...............................20 From Where I Sit .....................29 RLC Report......... .....................30 JALC Journal...........................32

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So. Illinois Miners.....................46

Page 24 Page 34

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Publisher’s

greeting

G

reetings and welcome to the July issue of Southern Illinois Sports Connection. While there is no such thing as ‘down time’ at SISC the summer months – months when area high school athletes are busy sharpening their skills for the upcoming season – do provide us with an opportunity to take a deep breath, reflect on the past sports’ year while at the same time look ahead to the start of school and also the start of the another year of sports. So, with an eye firmly on the start of high school football, volleyball and cross country, let’s take a look at our July issue. Our cover story this month details what it takes to be a part of Team Fredbird – our fine-feathered friend that brings so much joy and excitement to St. Louis Cardinals fans who attend games at Busch Stadium. Allison (Easley) deMiranda, a Nashville and SIU graduate, takes us behind the scenes and details the always-in-motion group that delights Cardinal fans young and old. Along with our cover we also feature stories from Rend Lake College and John A. Logan College about athletes who have made an impact and a marked difference. The stories of Chelsea Wallace (JALC) and Dey Tuach Dey (RLC) are on the ‘must-read’ list. And we also feature a story about former Zeigler-Royalton basketball standout Jim Mitchell who is recovering from a near-fatal car/pedestrian accident. It should be no surprise to those who remember Mitchell that he would face his long road ahead of therapy that is ahead of him with the same tenacity that made him of the all time great players in Southern Illinois to ever lace up a pair of tennis shoes. And as always we have our usual cast of columnists exploring a variety of sport-related topics. In all, July is yet another table-full of great stories for readers to feast on. Finally, just to whet your appetite a little SISC is embarking on an ambitious journey beginning next month when we begin what will be a tedious process of picking the all time great basketball players in Southern Illinois history. We will announce the specifics in detail in our August issue (which by the way is our 3rd anniversary). While I’m going to keep most of the details close to my vest I can tell you that we’re covering the years 1950-2010 – six decades total. And one other little nugget to share, we will have a ballot in SISC for readers to get involved and vote on their top picks. OK, I’ve leaked enough info … you’ll have to wait until August for the rest. With that said, thanks for taking the time to read SISC and thanks also for your continued support. All the best and God Bless!

Jim Muir

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Points to Ponder Thoughts How much thoughtful preparation goes into a single competition for you? If we were to total up the collective hours of thought, contemplation, analysis, dreaming, visualization and anticipation among your teammates and coaching staff, the sum would be staggering. How much do you believe God thinks about you? How often are you at the front of his mind? Who could calculate such a number? We get a glimpse at how God thinks in Psalm 139 and verses 17 and 18. Here’s how David described these ideas, “How precious concerning me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.” David was overwhelmed with the concept that an all-powerful God would spend His time thinking of him. That’s a little staggering for me too! He has a universe to run, but He’s concerned with every detail of my life. The largest number David can conceive of is the number of grains of sand on the earth, but that’s a smaller number than the sum of God’s thoughts concerning each one of us. For me, that leads to a great deal of confidence. I draw great comfort from knowing that my life is not hidden in a corner out of God’s view. Rather He’s intimately aware of every facet of my life and my every concern. As you compete today, let these words from the Psalms result in a great confidence and assurance that every moment of this day is in the center of God’s attention for each one of us. His

thoughts toward us are precious, innumerable and always loving.

Team Unity

How would you describe the sense of team unity experienced by this team? What are the benefits that accompany a team with great unity versus a team that is full of strife, contention and selfish attitudes? Today’s scripture describes such unity in Psalm 133 and verse 1. There we read, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” Simple, huh? The psalmist says that unity produces an atmosphere that is good and pleasant. It’s simple to describe, but harder to produce. Team unity is good, leading to the best possible performance from everyone related to the team. Unity brings out the best in each player, coach, trainer, equipment manager, etc... Team unity is pleasant, smoothing out every potential conflict and contention. Every team is made up of vastly different people. It’s supposed to be that way. Team unity allows us to maintain a focus on our common goals, aspirations and values. That makes the living together pleasant. In today’s competition, let great team unity produce an atmosphere of goodness and pleasance. Strive together to see each teammate compete to his highest capacity. Keep your focus on unifying words and actions that make the whole process pleasant for everyone concerned. Compete in unified way and you’ll be unstoppable.

Humility

How do you react when team-

Roger Lipe mates or fans criticize your coaches’ decisions? Sometimes you might nod in agreement or even voice your displeasure. At other times you might simply remain silent or vigorously defend the staff’s strategy. What attitudes might be revealed by those various reactions? In Psalm number 131 and verse 1 we read David’s view on important attitudes. There we read, “My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.” Here’s one of history’s great leaders and he said that he had to guard his attitude from arrogant pride. We’ve all seen haughty eyes that look down on everyone else. The arrogant heart has an opinion on everything and is fully convinced of his superiority. Let’s guard our attitudes and put on humility like David. Let’s not be so proud or foolish to suppose that our few years of competition make us wiser than our coaches whose decades of experience far surpass our own. Let’s not concern ourselves with the great matters of the sport, or with things beyond our ability to understand. In today’s competition, be the competitor you were made to be. Do so with great humility and relax under the leadership of your wise, talented coaching staff. l

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Calcium: Your Diet’s Essential Ingredient for Bones Prevent Osteoporosis and Fractures Today!!!

James J. Lohse, MD, CAQSM

T

oday in America, we live in a society where youth participation in sports is at an all time high. At the same time, we are battling America’s epidemic of childhood obesity while trying to maintain a proper daily diet. Both the fear of obesity and poor American diet had provided serious risks for our children who play sports. In recent years, we are noticing a sudden change in athletes with regards to their sports performance, daily diet, and increase in injuries caused by a lack of calcium and vitamin D. This article will provide you with comprehensive understanding of calcium, vitamin D, and recommendations for a calcium rich-diet. So let’s answer some of the common questions and misconceptions of calcium. What exactly is calcium? Calcium is the essential ingredient for bone health which comes directly from our diet. Calcium provides the basis for new bone growth (height and fracture healing), maximizes peak bone mass (girth), maintains healthy teeth, and minimizes bone loss (osteoporosis) in your later years. Does calcium help other parts of your body? The daily functioning of your heart, muscles, and nerves comes from calcium, one of the eight essential minerals. Calcium plays an important role in contraction of your heart and muscles, transmitting messages from your brain through your nerves, and the release of hormones throughout the body. Newer research released states calcium helps in prevention of colon can-

cer, which is the third leading cause of cancer and deaths from cancer in the United States and maintaining an adequate diet with proper calcium has shown to keep the weight off. What happens when you don’t get enough daily calcium? When there is a decrease in the amount of calcium in your bloodstream, your own body will deplete the bone’s calcium reserves. This loss of calcium will cause your body to take calcium from your bones. By depleting your bone of the essential calcium will cause future bone injury and possibly fractures. As a parent, why is calcium so important with playing sports? Majority of the sports our children and adolescents play are either weight-bearing or encompass some form of contact. A calcium rich diet provides our strong bones with the necessary architecture to absorb the shock from contact and handle the daily repetitive bone stress from sports. Always remember, in addition to an adequate calcium diet, exercise is an important aspect of achieving maximal peak bone mass and overall health. Are there any changes to calcium as our kids grow to becoming adults? During childhood and adolescence, their bodies use the mineral calcium to build strong bones which are nearly complete by the end of the teen years. Bone calcium begins to decrease in young adulthood and progressive loss of bone occurs as we age, particularly in women. I have a son and daughter who both play basketball, are there any differences between girls and boys with regards to their calcium? Teens, especially girls, whose diets don’t provide the nutrients to build

Points to Ponder

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bones to their maximum potential are at greater risk of developing the bone disease of osteoporosis, which increases the risk of fractures from weakened bones. Do we need to take vitamin D with calcium? Calcium can’t do its job without vitamin D. This important vitamin helps your bones use the calcium they get from the foods you eat. Vitamin D enhances the intestinal absorption of calcium. Not many foods contain vitamin D, so it is added to common foods like milk, orange juice, yogurt, and cereals. You can also get vitamin D from canned tuna or salmon or from sunlight. My kids don’t like or eat dairy? I would recommend and encourage eating non-dairy sources of calcium such as calcium fortified fruit juice like orange juice, cereals, and breads. Additional sources include vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts and collard greens, foods with dried beans like chili, bean soup, and red beans, as well as canned fish with edible bones such as salmon and sardines. I heard too much dairy makes you fat and elevates your cholesterol? With regards to milk, particularly whole milk, as soon as your child is older than 2, I recommend choosing a diet that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol and moderate in total fat. Therefore after 2 years of age, choose a low-fat (1%) or fat-free (skim) milk or products most often. Dr James J. Lohse is a board certified physician in both family medicine and sports medicine who is currently practicing at Brentwood East Family Medicine conveniently located in Brentwood, TN.

Roger Lipe


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Faith on the

Field Sports Liars

By Roger Lipe

T

here exist in sport two liars of the highest order. They lie to novices and to sport’s most highly achieving. They lie to both the obscure and the most famous. These liars fluently speak every language on the earth and deceive without conscience or conviction. They both whisper and shout with equal effectiveness. These masters of deception never tire, never take a day off and never worry about being caught. They monitor every practice, match, game and even one’s most private thoughts and emotions. Success and Failure lie to our souls about our identity, our worth to and our standing before God. Those who achieve highly hear Success’s lies related to the unimportance of ethical issues, teamwork and character. Failure lies by stating that even one’s margin of victory may be a failure because the spread is deemed to have been insufficient. Both Success and Failure are measured by the world in terms of results as expressed in wins and losses, points per game, home runs, yards per carry, championships won, world records, batting averages, strike outs, earned run average, and on and on and on. Success and Failure speak truthfully about one’s performance. There is truth in their descriptions of the game’s final score and the endless list of statistics which accompany sports today. The problem for many of us is how Success and Failure spin those results into lies related to who we are and from where we derive our personal worth.

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Success lies by inflating our sense of importance. It says, “I must be the best player on the court today.” “My team could never do without me. I can do whatever I please.” “I don’t care what the others do, I will get mine today.” “I must have God’s favor because we’re winning.” It flatters us with words which excite our egos by reciting our accomplishments and comparing us to those lesser souls not faring so well. “My success is obviously the mark of God’s approval.” “If the Lord was not so pleased with me, I would not be winning like this.” Success lies to your soul as it mimics the voices of sycophantic fans, hangers on, groupies and fawning media. Success distorts the truth of our identity by telling us that it’s to be found in achievement. Its greed is never satisfied. Success deceives our souls’ sense of worth by whispering that performance makes us worthy of love and dignity; that losers are not worthy of such delights. It tries to convince us that wins are the indicators of a life in Christ. These are lies one and all. Failure’s condemning voice whispers in our soul’s ear, “You’re not good enough.” “You can’t compete at this level.” “You should just quit.” “You aren’t worthy to wear this uniform.” Failure shouts at us when we’re running on the pitch, “You can’t guard this player, she’ll embarrass you.” It laughs heartily as we stumble and fall, the pain in our body echoing Failure’s derisive comments. Worse still are Failure’s accusations that our lack of success is a sign of God’s displeasure.

“You must have sinned badly to have failed so miserably.” “God is angry with you; that’s why you struck out three times today.” “A real Christian wouldn’t play this badly.” “Maybe God wants you to give up this silly game and get on with more important things” “If you were a better Christian, you would be more successful than this.” Failure assaults us in the condemning voices of the coaches from our past who used shame to motivate, our never satisfied parents or angry teammates. These voices remind us of our most bitter failures and disappointments. Failure lies by distorting the truth of our unlimited value to Christ (Romans 5:8), our identity in Him (Ephesians 1:3-14) and our being totally without condemnation before him (Romans 8:1). All these lies gnaw at our souls, impeding our progress as lovers of God and hindering our Lord’s gift of fulfilling enjoyment of sport. Both Success and Failure speak these lies with equally damaging consequences to our hearts, minds and souls. There is more wisdom to be found by focusing our hearts and minds on the process of training, competition, personal and team development in sport. Take care to listen wisely to the reports of success and failure. Understand that statistics, win/loss ratios and other measurements of sporting achievement speak truthfully about performance, but they lie about identity, worth and significance. These can only be found in an abiding relationship with Christ Jesus.


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DifferenceMaker Chelsea Wallace wanted to get closer to her family and the John A. Logan softball team reaped the rewards “She came to us simply because her family had moved to Du Quoin. It just fell into our lap and we were glad to take her. If we don’t get her, we probably don’t win the regional and go to nationals.” – Bruce Jilek, JALC softball coach

• Region 24 M

ost Valuab

le Player

• Great R ivers Athle tic All-Con ence fer• Posted 1

6-6 spring record wit strikeouts h 114 against on ly 33 walks and a 1.36 earned-ru n average • Led the Vols to a s ingle-seas record of on 39 wins an d fi r st nationa tournamen l t appearan ce JALC sophomore pitcher Chelsea Wallace is consoled by Vols’ assistant coach Byron Kuehner after Logan was ousted from the national tournament last month. (Logan Media Services photo)

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John A. Logan College sophomore righthander cuts loose with a fastball in national tournament game action in late May. Wallace was the driving force behind Logan’s first-ever appearance at the softball national finals in Saint George, Utah. (Logan Media Services photo)

By John Homan

N

ever underestimate the value of a great pitcher. A year ago, the John A. Logan College softball program was rocked by news that one of its better players, catcher Natalie Timmermans – who was an Olympian with the Netherlands national team and still had one year of eligibility with Logan – was going to leave the Volunteers a year prematurely to play for a four-year school in Oklahoma. The move was unexpected to say the least. But when one door closed for the Vols, another opened, and in waltzed Chelsea

Wallace, who just so happened to be a great pitcher. Wallace transferred to Logan from Catawba College, a Division II school in Virginia. She left there because she wanted to get closer to home. “That was mostly it. I wanted to be close to my family, which moved from Danville, Ky. to Du Quoin,” Wallace said. “Coming to Logan turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. There was such a closeness on the team that I had never experienced before. The chemistry was so good. For the most part, everyone got along with one another well. And I couldn’t have been

treated any better.” Wallace struggled early in the spring season, but soon hit her stride. “I remember not pitching all that well against Lincoln Trail during one game early in the spring and realized that I needed to focus more on getting ahead of the hitters. From that point on, things got better.” And so did the Vols. Logan won all eight games it played on its Florida trip and then followed up with a strong thirdplace finish in the rugged Great Rivers Athletic Conference behind Lake Land and Wabash Valley. The next step was breaking

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Vols’ star pitcher Chelsea Wallace earned Most Valuable Player honors based on her performance in the Region 24 tournament. (Logan Media Services photo)

Coach (Bruce Jilek) did such a good job of slowing things down for me and making me concentrate harder on what I was doing. It was all about focus. Sometimes, that got tedious, but it definitely made me mentally tougher. I was able to deal with adversity better. He allowed me to figure things out for myself. And I thank him for that.” – Chelsea Wallace –

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down the mental barrier of beating the top two teams when it mattered most – the Region 24 postseason tournament. After sweeping Kaskaskia College to advance to the semifinals, the Vols began chipping away at the Wabash Valley and Lake Land mystique, first upsetting the Warriors on a two-strike, two-out, two-run homer off the bat of first baseman Hanna Brindisi. An inspired Logan team then ran roughshod over the top-seeded Lakers and into the finals. After watching the Lakers eliminate Wabash Valley a few days later, the Vols took it to Lake Land and earned a hard-fought win. Picking up the victory was Wallace, who for her efforts was named Region 24 Most Valuable Player. “That was a special moment both for the team and me,” Wallace said. The Vols had never won the regional tournament before, thus advancing to the National Junior College Athletic Association World Series in Saint George, Utah. Despite battling flu symptoms, Wallace willed the Vols to a thrilling one-run win ironically over Wallace State of Alabama in the opener of the nationals. Logan wasn’t as fortunate in games two and three, however, falling to Yavapai, Ariz. and Temple, Texas. “It’s true I wasn’t feeling well, but I wanted to do what I could to help the team. I wanted to be there for them like they had been there for me,” Wallace said. “I did the best I could. It just wasn’t good enough.” Not good enough to win the nationals, perhaps, but good enough to get the Vols there for the first time ever and earn them a ninth-place overall finish out of 16 teams. “Wally was a blessing for our program,” said Logan assistant


coach Angie Jilek. “She is a great person who always looked out for her teammates. With her success this past season, she has been the focal point of NCAA Division I coaches this summer. She deserves all the recognition and attention she has received.” As June faded to July, Wallace was being heavily recruited by Fresno State, Indiana State and Bowling Green, Ohio. “Wally has a bright future ahead of her and will work hard to be successful,” Jilek said. “She wants to be an athletic trainer and we hope she is able to see that dream realized.” Vols head coach Bruce Jilek said sometimes you have to catch a break to be successful and Logan caught a huge break with the signing of Wallace. “She came to us simply because her family had moved to Du Quoin. It just fell into our lap and we were glad to take her,” he said. “If we don’t get her, we probably don’t win the regional and go to nationals.” Wallace said she appreciates

out for myself. And I thank him for that.” Wallace, a right-handed thrower, was consistently clocked at 63 and 64 mph and as high as 65. She finished the season with 16 wins against six losses. She struck out 114 in 144 innings and walked only 33. Her earned run average was a dazzling 1.36. “Softball always has been and probably always will be an important part of my life,” said Wallace, who just turned 20. “If I’m not playing in some old ladies league years from now, I’m sure I will be watching games somewhere. I don’t know what I would

“Wally (Wallace) was a blessing for our program,” said “She is a great person who always looked out for her teammates. With her success this past season, she has been the focal point of NCAA Division I coaches this summer. She deserves all the recognition and attention she has received.”

JALC pit celebr cher Chelse ates aft a Walla ce e captur ed the r the Volunte ir firsters 24 soft ever R ball titl eg e in m Kaska id-May ion skia C o at ll top-se e g e , d eded L e ake La feating Media nd Servic es pho . (Logan to)

– Angie Jilek, JALC assistant coach – what Jilek was able to teacher her as a pitcher. “Coach did such a good job of slowing things down for me and making me concentrate harder on what I was doing,” she said. “It was all about focus. Sometimes, that got tedious, but it definitely made me mentally tougher. I was able to deal with adversity better. He allowed me to figure things

do without it and I don’t know how I could ever forget my experience with Logan: the comfort, the closeness, the competitiveness, the sincerity. I will miss all that.” For now, the fire-baller will relax her golden arm and sort through her college options before arriving at a decision. “I’m just letting my body heal up a bit and will soon figure out

where I want to go from here.” Chelsea is the daughter of Clint and Lisa Wallace. She has a younger sister, Jessy, who will be a junior this fall at Du Quoin High School and is a catcher and outfielder with the softball team.

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In

Focus By Ceasar Maragni

I

’ve been a St. Louis Cardinals fan since I was a little boy. Stan Musial was my favorite player and I still consider him the greatest Cardinal ever. He’s been in the Baseball Hall of Fame ever since his first year of eligibility in 1969. My favorite Redbirds manager is Whitey Herzog, and thanks to voters on the Hall of Fame’s veteran’s committee, he’ll be joining Musial and other greats of the game already enshrined in Cooperstown soon. As I’ve been thinking about Whitey’s induction, his impact on Cardinal nation, and the great teams he managed during his tenure in St. Louis, I also recalled the day I was surprised to learn that I was being pictured along with him in the ball club’s ticket sales promotion booklet back in 1982. Whitey was a no-nonsense, roll up your sleeves and get the job done kind of manager. He had a few basic rules he expected all of his players to follow. Herzog wanted them to be on time, bust their butts, play smart and have fun doing so. He molded his teams into a style that became known as “Whitey Ball.” Whitey Ball was based on solid pitching, speed and defense to win ball games instead of de-

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pending on home runs to score. A Herzog team almost always featured a pair of base stealing threats at the top of the lineup, with a power threat hitting third or fourth, followed by more base stealers. Since the National League at that time featured a lot of cookie cutter stadiums with artificial turf and deep outfields, Whitey Ball was ideally suited to those venues and that era. Speedsters like Willie McGee, Vince Coleman and Lonnie Smith thrived in Herzog’s system, as did power hitters like Jack Clark. His managerial philosophy worked well both in Kansas City, where he guided the Royals to six American League division championships, and in St. Louis where his Cardinal teams won three National League Pennants and one World Series Championship. For fans in both cities, his fly around the bases style of baseball almost always assured a day at the ball park would be a fun event. In addition to his winning ways on the field, Herzog was almost universally loved by fans and journalists alike because of his frank, brutally honest, and often witty remarks about the game he loved and the players he managed. Among them were, “Baseball has

been good to me since I quit trying to play it.” “I’m not buddy-buddy with the players. If they need a buddy, let them buy a dog.” “The only bad thing about winning the pennant is that you have to manage the All-Star Game the next year. I’d rather go fishing for three days.” And “If you don’t have outstanding relief pitching, you might as well piss on the fire and call the dogs.” Oh, and about the time my favorite manager and I appeared together in the Cardinals’ preseason promotional booklet, that’s me just behind the home plate umpire’s right shoulder, as he and Whitey went over the ground rules just prior to a game’s first pitch. I was looking into one of my cameras to make sure I was pre-focused on second base. Back then I had a beard, just like Herzog’s ace relief pitcher Bruce Sutter. And even though I pitched some in high school, trust me, I was no Bruce Sutter. But come to think of it, our Waltonville High School teams back then were always ready on time, we busted our butts, we tried to play smart and we certainly had fun doing so.


2010 Wooden Bat Fall League The 2010 Wooden Bat Fall League, sponsored by Southern Illinois Fall League (SIFL), is open to high school baseball players. This league is designed for athletes who want to improve their level of play, compete with and against top players in the region, and develop their talent in an effort to get to the next level. In the last four seasons, SIFL has seen twenty-seven former participants move on to play at the college level. The league runs for seven weeks, with each team playing a Sunday doubleheader. All games will be played in the Carbondale region. Registration for this league is $250.00, due by July 30th. If you pay by July 23rd, you can receive a $25.00 discount on your registration! This year, each participant will receive their own Dinger SIFL wooden bat. A SIFL game day tshirt, balls, umpires, and insurance will also be provided, but players are responsible for any other baseball equipment including helmets, gloves, pants, and cups (and we don’t mean the kind you drink from). Players are encouraged to wear their high school baseball team hat for games; this helps each player represent their high school baseball program!

Registration Information Please Print Clearly Name________________________________

Phone_______________________________

Street or P. O. Box Address_______________________________________________________ City, State, Zip___________________________________________________________________ Email address____________________________________________________________________ High School___________________________

Graduation Year______________________

Primary Position_____________________ Secondary Position____________________________ Bat Size (circle one) 32”

33”

34”

T-shirt size (circle one)

S

M

L

XL

XXL

Other extra-curricular activities that may cause schedule conflicts_________________________ Schedule Teams – Minimum of 8 teams Roster – 12-14 Players Per Team Game Dates: Week 1 Sunday, August 8th Week 2 Sunday, August 15th Week 3 Sunday, August 22nd Week 4 Sunday, August 29th OFF FOR LABOR DAY Sunday, September 5th Week 5 Sunday, September 12th Week 6 Sunday, September 19th Week 7 Sunday, September 26th Refund Policy We will make every effort to complete all seven weeks, but games are subject to cancellation due to the weather. This year, in an effort to avoid scheduling conflicts with school activities, we will not offer any rain dates. There are no refunds to participants who chose to withdraw from this league after they have registered.

Please return this registration sheet along with the registration fee payment to: SIUA C/O Darren Coffel P O Box 172 Dowell, IL 62927 For questions or concerns please contact Darren Coffel at 618.924.0860 or dcoffel53@hotmail.com.

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Murf’s

Turf By Mike Murphy

G

ee, is it just me or did that whole “I Love Soccer” stuff fizzle out when the USA got knocked from the World Cup? I can proudly say I never succumbed to the hype and at times looked around at others who seemed under some sort of weird spell. For me it’s just wait …wait … wait…until the real football season. In Carbondale, they continue to get “Saluki Stadium” ready for the home opener. It will be exciting to have a new stadium christened and a potentially awesome team to call it home. I am excited to get a glimpse of the new schemes offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer will bring to SIU. Remember this guy’s offense last season at NAIA University of Sioux Falls averaged…averaged 51.7 points per game and never scored less than

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Are We Ready for Football Yet?

25 points in any of the team’s 15 games last season. I hope the new scoreboard at Saluki Stadium can keep up. The success of SIU Football has even gotten talk started again of the program jumping back to what was once known as Division I. Don’t think that would happen for several reasons including watching the mighty struggles of nearby Western Kentucky over the past few years. The Hilltoppers have been playing a Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly 1-A) schedule for the past three years although only officially competed as an FBS school in 2009. WKU is 1-23 against FBS schools over the last three years and currently are saddled with a 17 game winless streak, the longest in the country. They fired head coach David Elson in November and are statistically last in the country in total defense, scoring defense, and next to last in rushing defense. More importantly, average attendance at the Hilltoppers recently renovated 25,000-seat stadium is 16,000. Season ticket sales have dropped over the past couple of years from 9,000 to 7,500. This is the appropriate spot to mention SIU Football just set a record for season tickets sold. I say let’s just sit back and enjoy SIU Football and keep things in perspective and keep trying for another national title. Let’s Meet Here Next Month.


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FROM THE “GARAGE”

By Tom Wheeler

Basketball Camp Memories – 40-plus years and counting

A

fter speaking at Chip Basso’s Sesser-Valier’s basketball camp last month I was reunited with S-V coach Scott Haley. Reminiscing about camps Scott remembered coming to ‘Hoop with Wheels Camp’ at Christopher High School with a van load of Waltonville Spartans driven by his father Alan. Scott had forgotten that our camp ran Monday-Saturday from 8-12 for two weeks. The cost for these 48 hours of instruction was $25.00 which included receiving a basketball, a tee shirt, sweat bands and awards. Times have changed, but how could Coach Haley remember, he spent all day sliding into the bleachers, usually head first. This got me thinking of basketball camps I have spoke at so I went to the “garage” for memories. Here is what I came up with in my 40-plus years of doing “Wheeler Theater” named by former Iowa state coach Ronnie Smith. My first speaking engagement was

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at Eldorado for Coach Bobby Brown. I took with me Keil Peebles of Johnston City and my own Bearcat Glenn Ramsey. TJ was very young but he learned to shoot in front of a camp full of people that day. TJ was now a fixture, we returned to Eldorado for Coach Joe Hosman years later. I remember sending half my paycheck back to Joe when I got home and then he invited us down to Massac County where TJ stayed after camp to play with Joe’s sons Zack and Andrew who were very young.. I must have been cheap because current Hamilton County track Coach Roger Lee kept having me back at his Belle Rive Junior High outside Mt. Vernon. Or maybe it was because I brought TJ, Notre Dame’s Sean Connor, and University of Alabama’s Bruce Baker and once I brought two 5th graders, Travis Webb of Benton and Shane Hawkins of Pinckneyville.

Coach Lee never knew who I would show up with. Other memories, like speaking at Louisville North Clay for current Effingham Coach Ronnie Reed and getting a speeding ticket on the way home which my wife will finally find out about as she reads this article. At Waltonville camp one summer for Coach Ed Belva, we took a University of Evansville player named Scott Shreffler along to demonstrate and I remember it was TJ’s senior year and he had been lifting heavy for football and couldn’t make a shot. At New Baden, current Purdue associate head coach Paul Lusk had a camp where we did our thing and we spoke twice at Thompsonville, once for coach John Robinson and once for Coach Kyle Brockett when I used my young nephew Connor for demonstrations. The most nervous I ever was doing my thing was in1985 and we spoke at the Sloan-Reed-Lee camp in McLeansboro. Working in front of Coach Jerry Sloan was nerve racking but we used props in this demonstration including a Mr. T mask, a Richard Nixon mask and a gorilla mask, somewhere we also threw in a Steve Martin “arrow through your head” device. Campers included Mike Henson and Dwayne Summers, who went on to lead Coach David Lee’s West Frankfort Redbirds to third in state the next winter. While TJ was


demonstrating his shooting a current Fox letterman named Wade Thomas (now Johnston City’s coach) rebounded for him. I remember speaking at Pinckneyville High School for Coach Dick Corn and made the comment “if your coach doesn’t ever talk to you he may not care about you, but if he is on you every day he cares”. I’ll never forget when a Panther just spoke out loud and said “Coach Corn must love me then!” I guess I am a lucky guy, for so many years my son went with me and now my grandson Hunter. We spoke at McKendree University for Lebanon’s Chad Cruthis, DuQuoin for Gib Girlach and later John Kretz, at West Frankfort for David Lee and Kevin Toney, at Johnston City for our brother Steve and also Brock Babington, then at Patoka and Newton for younger brother Wendell. At AnnaJonesboro, for Coach Craig Partridge, I took current Benton Assistant Jason Hobbs. This year at the Zeigler-Royalton fundamental camp for Coach Matt Morgan, Hunter had help with his demonstrations as McKendree players Andy Wolfe, John Steppe, Ian Ridge and Kyle Heckert were in attendance. It was great for the campers to see these very classy Bearcats. If you were never at one of these camps to play “Coach Says” then this story doesn’t mean much, but if you were one of those campers from Little Wheels to all the gyms I have visited you had to smile remembering those push ups you did. Why does an “ole” coach like me continue doing this, well you see, I love it, love it, love it!

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Team Fr Nashville native and SIU grad Allison (Easley) deMiranda is helping put the ‘WOW’ in St. Louis Cardinals baseball

Allison at Busch Stadium

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redbird! Allison with Red Schoendist

By Joe Szynkowski

S

inging “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh-inning stretch just isn’t enough for baseball fans anymore. They need kiss cams, T-shirt launchers and trivia. An over-the-shoulder diving catch in center field to rob a double? That’s great. But picking the winning color in the scoreboard hot dog race? Now that’s impressive.

From the minors to the majors, baseball parks have transformed from stadiums of serenity to cathedrals of constant stimulation. Fans fork over their funds and walk through the gates expecting to be wowed. Here’s my money. Now entertain me. Allison (Easley) deMiranda understands that concept. And she is here to help. “I just love being in front of people and trying to make them have a good time,” said

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Allison with legendary Cardinal Stan Musual

deMiranda, one of the ten members of the St. Louis Cardinals’

fans to feel the same way.” A Nashville, Illinois native and

“I just love being in front of people and trying to make them have a good time. It’s an awesome experience for me, so I want the fans to feel the same way.” – Allison (Easley) deMiranda, Team Fredbird member –

Team Fredbird. “It’s an awesome experience for me, so I want the

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SIU grad, Allison is married to Matt deMiranda, a former multi-

sport standout from Waltonville. The deMiranda’s live in St. Louis. deMiranda landed her “dream job” of dancing on the dugout three years ago while attending SIUC. It was during a men’s Saluki basketball game at the Missouri Valley Conference tournament in St. Louis when she met DJ and television personality Todd Thomas, known around Busch Stadium as “That One Guy.” “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do since I started going to Cardinals’ games,” deMiranda said. “I just gave Todd my contact information and we kind of went from there.” But deMiranda and her teammates do more than dance at Cardinals’ home games. They participate in many of the community-focused Cardinals Care programs, visit patients at local hospitals, participate in charity golf tournaments and are often requested for numerous other charity events. “We do some great work with the fans,” deMiranda said. “And getting to go to every home game and be so involved is just amazing. There’s just something about Cardinals’ baseball that seems almost like a religion. It’s just followed in such a different way than other baseball teams.” deMiranda, 27, jokes about her lack of dance experience. She was never a cheerleader at Nashville Community High School, but did play volleyball and golf for the Hornettes. She graduated from SIUC with a degree in speech language pathology and currently works with autistic children in St. Louis. Her side job with the Cardinals pays $55 per game and “the perks are amazing.” Some of the most exciting times for members of Team Fredbird come prior to Friday night home games, when


they help coordinate fan interaction with former and current Cardinals during Busch Bash. “I got to meet Ozzie Smith one year during Busch Bash,” deMiranda said. “He’s my favorite all-time player and he was just so nice and down to earth. “It was when his son, Nikko, was a contestant on American Idol. I told him I thought his son was really talented and he just got the biggest kick out of that. He was so excited to talk about his son.” deMiranda’s passion for the Cardinals is apparent, and is one of the biggest reasons she landed the gig. “The second I met Allison, I knew she would fit in great with the rest of the team,” said program director Kristin Casey. “There wasn’t a doubt in my mind she’d make a great Team Fredbird member.” Casey has worked for the Cardinals for seven years, experiencing the closing of the old stadium and the opening of the new one, one World Series title, two “Allison is just an amazing person. She is smart, personable, beautiful inside and out and more than anything a caring person. She takes time out to talk to fans and kids. She wants the Busch Stadium experience to be more than just a good game and she understands that the little things make the game and experience special.”

Group Pic: (Front to Back) Allison de Miranda, Katie Neill, Tara Davis, Candice Timmerman, Lindsay Hearne, Maggie McAllister, Fredbird, Sara Killough, Abbey Miller

Allison deMiranda (left) holds an autographed picture of Stan Musial during a recent pregame ceremony honoring retiring Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox. Also pictured are Katie Luster, Bill DeWitt, Red Schoendist and Tony LaRussa.

– Kristin Casey, Team Fredbird program director –

presidential visits and an all-star game. She has also seen Team Fredbird evolve into a crucial part of Cardinals’ games. “They have much more responsibility and authority at the

Allison on the jumbo-tron at Busch.

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games,” Casey said. “It’s wonderful to see each of them become more confident as they have grown with their roles. When I started they did two ball shoots a game and maybe one other in-between inning promotion. Now, they run events in the courtyard at least three days every home stand, and interview fans, players, workers and sponsors.” Casey is involved in everything from corporate sales to marketing and promotion for the Cardinals. She handles hiring, scheduling and uniforms for Team Fredbird, which she says is one of the highlights of her job. “I truly look forward to seeing the girls each game,” she said. “We are together so much during the season and I often see them more than my friends or family. The laughter, camaraderie and true friendships keep me sane during the long hours and long homestands.” deMiranda said one of her favorite parts of being on Team Fredbird is interviewing the players, especially the ones who show their appreciation for Redbird fans. “I interviewed (pitcher) Adam Wainwright earlier this season,” she said. “You can really tell that he’s there for the fans. I’m also pretty impressed with (shortstop) Brendan Ryan. On camera day last year, fans got to come down on the field and play paparazzi for a little while. Ryan wouldn’t leave until he took pictures with everyone.” deMiranda hopes to impact as many fans as she can during her time with the Cardinals. She is, after all, one of them. “Allison is just an amazing person,” Casey said. “She is smart, personable, beautiful inside and out and more than anything a car-

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ing person. She takes time out to talk to fans and kids. She wants the Busch Stadium experience to be more than just a good game and she understands that the little things make the game and experience special.” Joe Szynkowski is a freelance writer for SISC. He can be reached at joeszynkowski@ hotmail.com.

Allison holds Home Run Derby trophy during the 2009 MLB All-Star Game held at Busch Stadium.


From where I

SIT By Tom Wheeler

They Call Him A.B.

G

ary Martin worked the Carterville Lions basketball games with me this year on 103.5, ESPN FM. Being an athlete from Murphysboro; he was not familiar with most Black Diamond gymnasiums. One of his first questions was always “Does this gym have a name?” The next time the Lions play at Zeigler-Royalton (if they ever do again) I can proudly tell him, the Tornado’s gym is now Art Brandon gymnasium. On January 22, 2010 the Z-R school district honored their long time (37 years) teacher/coach/dean of students/athletic director by naming the high school sports center after him. At Z-R Coach Brandon coached football, track and basketball, coaching both the boys and girls for a combination of 33 years. His two best boys teams was in 78-79 and 79-80 when the Tornados won their first regional since the district was formed (1963). In 79 they beat Norris City before losing to Carrier Mills in the sectional at Norris City while in 80 they lost their sectional championship to Benton after beating Metropolis at Eldorado. In these four sectional games ZR’s all time leading scorer, Jimmy Mitchell averaged 42 points a game. During this span of time the Tornados also won 23 consecutive Black diamond games. I asked Mitchell, whose son Tyler ended up fourth on the all time scoring list, about Coach Brandon. “We did what he said; guys today question their coach,” Mitchell said. “He made it clear that this is the way it is, if you didn’t like it that way go play somewhere else. He put the fear of God in you that’s for sure. Back then everyone in school wanted to be

part of the basketball team, in fact, during the 78-79 seasons not one player ever missed a practice, and we loved to get to practice to play.” Current Z-R varsity basketball coach Jamie Moyers was also a participant of this era. He not only played for AB, he also worked along side him as Jamie is in his 8th year of teaching at Z-R. “The most important things I would say about Art is that in anything he did he had a way of making you feel that your part in it mattered,” said Moyers. “When I played basketball for him, even though I was a role player, he had a way of making me feel that whatever I did was important to him, the team and to our school.” Moyers said Brandon left big shoes to fill. “Art personified Z-R sports for many years,” Moyers said. “Since he has been retired I will say we have all at Z-R learned what it meant to have such a strong personality to be a guide and a stabilizing figure in what many times was a tumultuous environment, dealing with so many issues. You just don’t replace an Art Brandon.” Longtime ZR Junior High Coach David Russell laid it on the line when describing AB. “Art’s advice was not always what you wanted to hear-but like your parent’s advice, when you grow up you know that they were right and they were looking out for you-that is how I feel about Art,” said Russell. “The longer I coached I understand what he had said to me and what it meant. My favorite Art Brandon quote “there is a lot out there”-that was just Art’s way of saying you don’t have a clue

what you are doing so just do what I tell you.” Adam Rosho, another staff member at ZR and BlackDiamond. com historian and number one ‘stats’ man remembers playing basketball in physical education one day. Rosh was playing that tough “Rosho” man to man pressure defense when all of a sudden he hit a stone wall. The pick was set by Coach Brandon who played with his athletes. “AB just had the classic Art Brandon smile and laughed,” said Rosho. “I actually had a mild concussion from the pick. AB didn’t move, but it was the hardest I was ever hit. I learned one thing from AB – don’t set blind picks on your students.” Congratulations to ZR Superintendent George Wilkerson and the board of education for honoring Art while he and his family can enjoy it. So many times a school will wait until the coach has passed and then say “we should do something for him.” I know how proud I am for him and what an honor for his family, wife Mary Ann, and children Brian and Nikki. That’s the way it looks From Where I Sit.

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RLC

Report By Nathan Wheeler

RLC says goodbye to most decorated Warrior in schools’ history

R

end Lake College recently said goodbye to its most decorated student-athlete in more than 40 years of Warrior athletics. Stephen Sambu won his ninth and 10th individual

national championships at RLC by taking first place in the outdoor track 5k and 10k on May 22, in Hutchinson, Kan. That makes Sambu the most decorated 30 l july 2010

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Warrior in history, with 10 national titles – a ring for each finger (and thumb!). He boarded a plane bound for Tucsan, Ariz, in the early morning hours of June 18, to start his career under Wildcats head coach James Li at the University of Arizona. Sambu, 21, of Eldoret, Kenya, is a two-time NJCAA national cross country champion who led RLC to the team title last Fall. From the moment he won his first national cross country title in November of 2008, college coaches from across the country put a big target on his back. But with the pressure, Sambu thrived and went on to win every national race he entered except three – the indoor

3k and mile as a freshman, and this year in the indoor mile, in which he was runner-up. In addition to his two cross country crowns, he holds track and field championship hardware in the 2009 indoor 5k and outdoor 5k, 10k and 4x800 relay; and in the 2010 indoor 3k and 5k, and outdoor 5k and 10k. He was named Athlete of the Meet at the 2009 outdoor national championships. His accomplishments at RLC go on and on. Earlier this year, Sambu set the national record in the indoor 5k. With a time of 13:51.59, he became the all-time fastest junior college 5k runner in history. It happened on Friday, Feb. 12, 2010 at the University of Arkansas Tyson Invitational. In February, he signed a national letter of intent to run for the NCAA DI Arizona Wildcats this coming fall. He said while it is an exciting adventure, he will miss everything about the place he has called home for more than two years. “I don’t want to leave, but I can’t stay,” an emotional Sambu said days before leaving the college. “It is my time to leave. My last two years, I have enjoyed everything – classes, the community, everything. [Former Warriors coach and athletic director Brent McLain] did a lot of things for me. He helped me a lot. I will not forget Vickie [Simpson] and Pastor Mark Minor and the family at Whittington Church. They took care of me. They are like


our parents over here. I will never forget them.” For every bit of quality he offers on the course, he shows even more excellence away from athletics. Sambu is a genuine, exceptional person who loves life and those closest to him. As a testament to that: One of his fingers won’t be wearing a national championship ring. He gave it to Brenda Moore, a custodian at the college. He said it was to show respect and appreciation for the way she looked out for him and his fellow Kenyan athletes while they worked alongside her as members of the parttime maintenance staff. Moving from Kenya to Southern Illinois in 2008 wasn’t without difficulty. He had to adjust to living in a new place and worked hard to succeed in an American classroom. Last year, his cousin was gunned down by rebels while visiting Sambu’s aunt in Kenya. “We don’t even know who killed him,” he said. “That really makes it hard to be gone. But I call. I call my mother and father every weekend or every two weeks. It is expensive for me to call every day.” His accomplishments in the U.S., are a source of pride and happiness for his family, he said. “They are very, very happy. I’m the only one here. They are very, very proud of me.” He wants to run professionally after Arizona, but his focus now is on education first and athletics second, he said. His plan is to couple business management and economics degrees toward a career running his own business. He is also planning to visit Eldoret next December. Sambu said he feels like he did what he came to do at RLC, which gives him a wonderful feeling of accomplishment. “It really feels good. Everything in my two years in junior college

has made me really happy. I have a lot of friends now.” He knew some RLC studentathletes before arriving in 2008 – Peter Kiplagat, Julia Sambu (Texas A&M Corpus Christi), Lilian Lagat and Boaz Lalang (Adidas). But he became friends with many other Kenyan and American students while attending the college. Some Kenyan students he became friends with at RLC include Peter Sigilai (Tennessee), Dey Tuach Dey (Arkansas), Matthew Kotut (Texas A&M Pan-American), Ben Cheruiyot (Auburn), Elkanah Kibet (Auburn) and Robert Kapsoiyo. Sambu was discovered while at Biwott Secondary school in 2006. He was training at his brother’s running camp for women. After being noticed by recruiters, Sambu was asked if he wanted to go to school in the U.S., on a running scholarship. He quickly relocated to a training camp where student-athletes go through time trials. It only took him one 5k to qualify for an athletic scholarship in the states. If it hadn’t been for a communication problem with the U.S. embassy and another community college Sambu had been accepted to, he may have never became a Warrior. He left the embassy, unsure of what had happened, but was soon contacted by RLC’s Kibet, Lalang and McLain who convinced Sambu to enroll at RLC. Forecasted state funding shortfalls for RLC next year are endangering the possibilities of other Kenyan athletes following in Sambu’s footsteps. Already the college has been compelled to put a hold on future scholarships for international student-athletes. RLC President Charley D. Holstein commented on the situation, calling it a “one-year moratorium” on international recruiting at RLC in response to forecasted shortfalls in state funding and the overall

number of international athletes at the college. “I hope that will change,” Sambu said. “There are a lot of students who want to come to America. In Kenya, there are a lot of guys like me. They can run like me. It’s not good if they don’t get the chance to get an education the way we have. If they get the chance to come to Rend Lake or another school, they know it’s a once in a lifetime chance.” “With few exceptions, our international athletes have contributed significantly to our athletic programs, have excelled academically, and have been contributing members of our communities,” Holstein said. “Beyond their athletic prowess and academic excellence, they bring cultural diversity which, from my experience, they are more than willing to share with their fellow students and fellow community members alike.” Sambu graduated this Spring with his associate degrees in arts and science. Last week, he learned that being a national champion gets him an automatic induction into RLC’s Hall of Fame in five years. He’ll be on the hook for a homecoming at his alma mater around 2013. “That feels great,” he said. “I feel honored.” For all things athletic at RLC, visit the college online at www. rlc.edu/warriors.

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JALC

Journal By Teri Campbell

Logan Athletes Receive Academic Honors

J

ohn A. Logan College’s student-athletes achieved great success on the athletic fields this year. Six players were selected NJCAA AllAmericans, and

the teams captured three NJCAA National

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Tournament berths, four Region 24 titles, and two Great Rivers Athletic Conference championships. The Volunteers’ and Lady Vols’ accomplishments extended into the classroom as well. Allison Powell, a sophomore center on the women’s basketball team, earned NJCAA Distinguished Academic All-American honors for maintaining a grade-point average of 3.8 or above through 45 semester hours of work. Powell graduated from Logan in May with a near-perfect GPA of 3.93 and plans to transfer to Southern Illinois University in the fall and major in elementary education. “I enjoyed going to Logan,” said Powell, a native of Metropolis. “I had really good teachers, and I studied a lot. I worked hard for my grades. College is a lot harder than

high school. I feel like Logan has given me a good foundation and prepared me for the classes I’ll take at SIU.” “Allison is very deserving of this award and I’m glad she was recognized,” said Marty Hawkins, head women’s basketball coach at Logan. “I’m really proud of my whole team. This group took care of its business in the classroom this year, and all eight of our sophomores graduated. As a coach, it’s rewarding to see your players work hard and take advantage of their educational opportunities.” Two other athletes were named Academic All-Americans by the NJCAA for carrying a minimum GPA of 3.6 through 45 semester hours. They were Jenny Bernhardt, a sophomore women’s golfer from Murphysboro, and Coulterville product Cale Wine, a right-handed pitcher on the baseball team. In addition to the NJCAA honors, 19 student-athletes were chosen Academic All-GRAC for achieving GPAs of at least 3.2. These included six women’s basketball players: Powell, Tiffany Williams (Shawneetown), Cheshi Poston (Chicago), Jordan James (McPherson, Kansas), DaLita Scott (Hammond, Indiana), and Katelyn McMahan (Wolf Lake). Three baseball players: Marco DiRoma (Bolton, Ontario), Derek


Locascio (Naperville), and Wine, and four softball players: Brittany Ashton (Carterville), Nicole Cheek (Pinckneyville), Celci Mueller (Murphysoro), and Mandi Kellerman (Pinckneyville) also made the academic all-conference squad along with men’s golfers: Adam Butler (Paducah), Joe Goelzhauser (Evansville, Indiana.), Marcelo Rozo (Bogota, Colombia), Matt Smith (Chester Springs, Pennsylvania), Jamie Stocks (Trico High School), and Filip Timmerman (Santiago, Chile). “I’m pleased so many of our athletes were honored for their academic achievements,” said Jerry Halstead, JALC athletic director and head baseball coach. “It takes a great deal of dedication for student-athletes to juggle all of their responsibilities so it’s gratifying to see them perform at a high level both athletically and academically. With all of our studentathletes we emphasize the importance of going to class and doing their schoolwork. We want them to know that getting an education is as valuable as anything they accomplish in sports. We want our athletes to be well-rounded people and prepared to face whatever challenges lie in their future.”

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The Long Journey of Dey Tuach Dey From “Unaccompanied Minor” to a major university

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By Nathan Wheeler

D

ey Tuach Dey has been on many paths. He is probably running on one right now at Rend Lake College where he became a national champion in track and an All-American in cross country. After the summer, he will be on a new path at the University of Arkansas where he has accepted an NCAA DI track and cross country scholarship. For Tuach, it’s the next step on a miraculous and tragic journey that began 13 years ago. Listening and watching while Tuach talks about his childhood is heart wrenching. His head falls into


It was the last day he saw his parents. Soldiers came into the village and started killing everything – men, women and children. Dey and his parents fled in different directions. He hid, waited and watched the devastation unfold. As he started to head back to find them, he was stopped by a man. Kach Pathod was fleeing the area with his family and he insisted on taking the seven year old with them. He most likely saved Tuach’s life. It was the beginning of a paternal friendship that will last a lifetime.

would circle their camp at night. They would collect firewood during the day to keep the fire ablaze at night. He doesn’t remember Pathod ever sleeping, he said. Their leader would stay up with his gun, keep the fire going and guard the group, according to Tuach. They would eat fruit when they could find it. When they couldn’t find fruit, they resorted to other food sources. “Kach killed a gazelle,” Tuach said. “It was uncooked. Everyone

“It happened and God has a reason why. Coming to America changed my life. I started running in America. I’m really excited about Arkansas. I really feel good about it. I think Rend Lake will hear my name coming from Arkansas. Rend Lake … it opened the door for me to be who I am today.” – Dey Tuach Dey –

his massive hands more than once. He shakes. It’s like the memories are causing him physical pain. He rubs his head as if to wipe them away, but they will be there forever. He cannot erase the things he saw or undo what he was forced to suffer through when war entered his Sudanese village and changed his life forever. He was seven – the son of Tuach Dey Mut and Nyamuonga Lul Chuol. One of his daily chores was to collect cow dung early in the morning to burn throughout the day and ward of insects that could endanger their livestock. “I think about that day a lot,” he said. “I will never forget it, all of my life. I will not forget it.”

The group began to walk. They walked away from the killing. But the path to safety and security at an Ethiopian refugee camp held dangers of its own. It would take four months to reach the camp. The brutality that unfolded over that time, across unforgiving African plains, haunts Tuach every day. He remembers Pathod raising him onto his shoulder and crossing crocodile-infested waters, red from the blood of victims being killed just feet from them. “We crossed the rivers and they would come and ...” He stops there. “If they get you … you are dead. They hate people.” The crocs were not the only killers along the way – there was starvation and dehydration. When they could, they would place their faces deep inside elephant footprints and lap up the muddy water that had not yet evaporated. Tuach remembers Pathod letting him drink first, before his own family. Lions and other wild animals

was so hungry and we just wanted to eat. So he cut it and we ate.” After four months navigating the wilderness and enduring dangers no person – let alone a seven-year-old boy – should endure, they arrived at the refugee camp in Ethiopia. Tuach and six other children his age were housed together in a tent at the camp. Media reports about the “Lost Children of Sudan” surfaced across the globe. Tuach said those reports were about the children who fled to a camp in Kenya. And while he was not one of them, his story was the same. The “Unaccompanied Minors,” as his group was called, were all children who had lost their parents to war or had been separated from them in the chaos. He lived nine years in the camp. Each day involved chores like distributing food and collecting water rations in the morning and evening. And there was school. He said if it hadn’t been for United Nations representatives holding classes, he probably would have never attended

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school. “I liked it because I wanted to learn and meet friends at school,” he said. Pathod gathered Tuach and the other children together every Saturday to talk about what they had been through. Tuach said it was so they would never forget. His memories are thick now. In April, Tuach received a phone call from Africa. It was his friend who also lived in the refugee camp. He said there was someone there who wanted to speak with Tuach. When she spoke, the voice wasn’t familiar, Tuach said. “One thing I did recognize,” he said. “She called me ‘Chuol.’ Then I knew that it was her.” It had been 13 years since he had heard his mother call him by his boyhood nickname. She had walked

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“He has survived years in a refugee camp in Ethiopia and has managed to stay positive in spite of all his trials. He is an inspiration to me. His life has been so difficult, but in spite of it all, he looks to the future and works hard to make his life successful. He never gives up. That’s why he is and will continue to be a success story.” – Vickie Simpson – three days to the nearest phone. Albeit a long-distance reunion, that phone call provided the answer to a big question that had tortured Tuach for years. “Until then, I did not know they were alive. My mom was crying. At first, she did not trust that it was me. She didn’t think I was still alive. Until then, I did not know they were alive. I didn’t know what to say. I was quiet.” He asked about his father. She told him he is alive, but gravely ill. Tuach had sent his friend $100 months before. When the friend found Tuach’s family in Sudan, he knew the right thing to do was to give it to them. Little did Tuach know, that gift to his friend would be used to buy medicine that saved his father’s life. “She said, ‘Your dad is alive because of the money you sent,’” Tuach said. “It really feels good. She said, ‘He refuses to die before he sees you.’ I want to see my dad before he is dead.” His desire to return to Sudan and be with his father is great. But his mother’s wish is for Tuach to continue on his path to Arkansas. “She was happy. She likes what I’m doing right now.” After the call, Tuach had trouble sleeping and concentrating in class. He said he would try to focus on what his instructor was teaching, but his mind kept drifting off to the past. Now, months later, he is taking summer courses to complete his degree at Rend Lake. He will major in business management at Arkansas. He has also been working to become a

naturalized U.S. citizen. There are some in Colorado who are still helping him with this. Tuach moved to the U.S. in 2007. He landed in Thornton Colo., as part of a UN program called Red Abana. “United Nations representatives came and talked to me one day in the camp, asking me if I would like to go to America. The first thing I was thinking was how am I going to go to America when I don’t know where my parents are.” UN officials told the children about the U.S. They were told it was a good place to live. Tuach recalls stories floating around the camp about a place with no sickness or crime, and where a person could drive a car after they turned 10 years old. In retrospect, he offers a wide grin. “I thought if I lived there, I would change my life to a good life,” he said. Although he claims his best sport was soccer, Thornton High School coaches saw another future for the young man. Tuach joined the cross country and track and field teams and quickly found success running. He won a state championship in the 800m at Thornton High and finished third in the 1600 state finals after being tripped in the race. As a senior, disaster struck in the state championship cross country meet. With a sizeable lead, it looked as if he would bring Thornton an individual cross country state championship as well. Then, in the final leg, Tuach suddenly stopped and sat down. He had torn his meniscus and would not finish the


race. He healed and signed with former coach Brent McLain at RLC. In November, he helped RLC to a national cross country title by placing 11th for a spot on the NJCAA All-American Team. He is currently dealing with a slight stress fracture he suffered shortly after the championships. Tuach will turn 21 next month. When asked what he thinks his life might be like now if things had been different and he still lived in Sudan, he offered an interesting response. “I probably would be a soldier. The war is still going on. Everything is about Christianity and Muslims. Everybody has a gun. When you are 15 years old you have a gun, so you go to the war and you fight.” He dreams of returning to Sudan, to see his mother and reunite with his father before he dies. For now, it is safe to travel in and out of the area where his parents are, he said. “That’s’ why I’m thinking about going. If … I might not get to come back, I would not go. I really want them to come to America to stay with me. It might not be a good idea for them … maybe my little brothers and sisters can come to America. I’m going to help them as long as I’m still alive.” He misses Pathod too. He said he wants to bring them all to the U.S., so they can live with him here. He has built close relationships with some local residents. Rend Lake trustee Bill Simpson and his wife, Vickie, are known in the area for offering their helpful hands to international athletes at RLC who are adjusting to their new home. Tuach also mentioned Amy Cook, a counselor at the college who worked closely with athletes on tutoring, study habits and other tools; and Pam Minor and her husband, Mark, the pastor of Whittington Church where Tuach attends. “They are important to me,” Tuach said. “Anytime I need help, they are there. Vickie has helped me a lot. ... She helps me make good decisions about the future.” “Dey Dey is a survivor,” Simpson said. “He has survived years in a refugee camp in Ethiopia and has managed to stay positive in spite of all his trials. He is an inspiration to me. His life has been so difficult, but in spite of it all, he looks to the future and works hard to make his life successful. He never gives up. That’s why he is and will continue to be a success story. I will always remember Dey and be in admiration of the type of beautiful person he has become.” Tuach is a talented runner, focused on school and sport, with dreams of one day running professionally. “It is hard. But I’m working hard every day. If all this wouldn’t have happened, I wouldn’t be where I am today. It happened and God has a reason why. Coming to America changed my life. I started running in America. I’m really excited about Arkansas. I really feel good about it. I think Rend Lake will hear my name coming from Arkansas. Rend Lake … it opened the door for me to be who I am today.”

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the s i e H e s u a c day be y r e v e d o eve i G l e k b I . s i h “I than t h hroug t e m t h g u o r meo s e f i l y one that b m r o rpose f u p a e b t s u there m ine.” l e h t n ell – w o d e wher – Jim Mitch 38 l july 2010

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Tornado Tenacity Former ZR basketball standout Jim Mitchell was seriously injured in a car-pedestrian accident and is now using the same toughness that marked his storied career to recover from the near-fatal injuries By Jim Muir

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uring the late 1970s Jim Mitchell was a virtual scoring machine for Zeigler-Royalton High School basketball, a player who combined athletic ability and a blue collar work ethic to lead his team to backto-back sectional championship appearances while writing his own name in the record books. And it’s that same never-give-up attitude coupled with a good dose of Z-R Tornado’s tenacity that sustains the personable Mitchell these days as he slowly recovers from a near-fatal car-pedestrian accident that happened in mid-April. “It was on April 19 and my son (Tyler) had a car accident and I was leaving work to go check on him, it was just a little fender-bender,” said Mitchell. “It was by the railroad tracks there on Route 148 in Zeigler and I was walking across the highway when this car came up over a little hill there and hit me.” The collision sent Mitchell flying approximately 20-30 feet after impact. Mitchell was taken to Herrin Hospital and then transferred to St. Louis University Hospital with life-threatening injuries. “I don’t remember the trip to St. Louis,” said Mitchell. “I don’t remember anything about it at all.” As a result of the accident Mitchell had internal injuries, a broken ankle but the biggest concern was a crushed pelvis. “The doctor told me I had a 14-centimeter break in my pelvis, he said

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that is unheard of,” Mitchell said. “They said because I was big and strong it probably saved my life. I just thank the Lord that I could take the blow.” After going through emergency surgery Mitchell was transferred to an intensive care unit where he remained for more than three weeks. It was during the days in ICU when Mitchell took a turn for the worse and family members were called in. “I had two nurses with me and one day I told them, ‘if you two and God don’t help me I’m not going to make it,’” Mitchell recalled. “I had had enough, I was tired, and just physically worn out from fighting and I couldn’t take it any longer. They contacted my wife and told her to get in touch with everybody because I probably wasn’t going to make it.” Mitchell was both emotional and inspirational when he recalled what took place within a matter of hours. “By the time my wife and the family got there I was sitting up in bed,” Mitchell said with tears rolling down his cheeks as he recalled the difficult day. “God blessed me … God blessed me … that’s all I can tell you. I don’t know what happened but I know that something did. I was tired, I was done and from that moment on I started getting better and I’ve gotten stronger everyday since. I thank God everyday because He is the one that brought me through this. I believe there must be a purpose for my life somewhere down the line.” From that point Mitchell spent two more weeks in St. Louis University Hospital and then was transferred to Herrin Hospital where he started physical therapy treatments. After a one month stay at Herrin Hospital Mitchell was sent home where he remains

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bedfast and takes in-home physical therapy. While the physical road to recovery has been a difficult one for Mitchell he was also faced with an emotional situation involving his youngest son Tyler, who recently graduated from Z-R High School where he was a multisport standout. “I had never, ever missed one of Tyler’s games, ever. I don’t care if it was T-ball or little league I never missed a game,” said Mitchell. “When I missed his first baseball game when I was in the hospital I cried all night. It just killed me – it hurt bad.” Through the wonder of technology Mitchell was able to watch Tyler’s high school graduation and also a standout performance by his son in the Lion’s Club All-Star game held at Rend Lake College in early June. The commencement ceremony and

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basketball game was streamed live and Mitchell was able to watch via a laptop computer from his hospital room. “I’m a sports junkie so it meant the world to me,” said Mitchell. “It was just fantastic to be able to see it. A 1980 graduate, Mitchell still holds the all-time scoring record at Z-R tallying 2,561 points (23rd on the IHSA all-time scoring list for the entire state) and was a four-year member of the Black Diamond All-Conference team. He also was AllSouth three years, conference MVP two years and while leading the Tornados to back-to-back sectional championship appearances. The Tornados were defeated by Carrier Mills in 1979 and by Benton in 1980. During his senior season Mitchell averaged 24.9 ppg., 14.2 rebounds per game and hit 63 percent of his field goal attempts. Asked about his prognosis Mitchell said he continues to improve daily and hopes by late July to be able to stand under his own power. He said the outpouring of love and support from Zeigler residents and the entire region has been “unbelievable.” Mitchell said friends and family members installed a handicap accessible restroom in his home and that church members have provided the family with meals nightly. Several fundraisers have also been held to support the family, Mitchell said. Along with his miraculous recovery Mitchell said the accident has also taught him how quickly that life can change. “In the matter of a heartbeat life can change,” said Mitchell. “My advice would be to slow down and take life one day at a time and enjoy everyday. In a split second life could change and be over, it almost was for me. I’m just very blessed.”

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When the occasion calls for a gift. . . Give a Southern Illinois Sports Connection subscription. Just $34.95 per year Send Check or Money Order to: SISC, PO Box 174, Sesser, IL 62884

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Former Saluki Stars Making Strides with Miners By: Tony Piraro

Southern Illinois Miners Media Relations Intern

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atcher Mark Kelly, pitcher Shawn Joy and rookie shortstop Michael Stalter ended their prolific college baseball careers last season at Southern Illinois University. Now, all three find themselves on the same team once again, but with drastically different responsibilities. The former Saluki stars understand that Manager Mike Pinto views them as integral role players, on a team loaded with talent. No longer will the three be depended on, as they were in college. But, they have taken their transitions in full stride. In fact, all three have already contributed to the Miners in a major way at one point or another this season. Not everyone on a baseball team can be a star, but everyone on a good team must be able to contribute when called upon. Mark Kelly played four seasons at Southern Illinois University where he hit .354 with 10 home runs and 155 RBIs in 185 games. As a senior in 2009, he led the team in batting average (.333), hits (73), RBIs (39), doubles (15) and total bases (100). He threw out an astonishing 51 percent (23 of 45) of attempted base stealers in 2009. Kelly was named to the AllMissouri Valley Conference Team in 2007, 2008 and 2009. He was a twotime recipient of the Salukis’ “Itchy” Jones Most Valuable Player Award. In 2008, Mark Kelly was awarded the State Farm MVC “Good Neighbor” Award for his community service efforts. Southern Illinois starting catcher Brendan Akashian says that Kelly has played a crucial part in the success of his game-calling this season. Akashi-

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an believes listening to Kelly has improved his overall knowledge behind the plate and pitch selection. So far the help must be working, as the Miners record when he’s catching speaks for itself this season (24-4). Kelly is a Hanover Park, Ill. native, where he played his high school baseball at Hoffman Estates High School. He was signed by Southern Illinois on October 20th, 2010 out of Southern Illinois University. Kelly picked up his first professional hit on June 1st, against the Kalamazoo Kings. Southpaw Shawn Joy finished his college career at Southern Illinois University in 2007. That season, he had the second most strikeouts and the second fewest walks allowed by a starting pitcher, going 5-2 and posting a 3.54 ERA in 16 appearances. After signing with the New York Yankees organization out of SIU, he made his professional debut with the Gulf Coast League Yankees on June 24th, 2008. After signing with the Miners on May 10th of this year, Joy was brought in to strengthen an already deep Southern Illinois bullpen. Currently, Joy is the only left-hander on the Miners staff of 11 pitchers. He has played the critical role of long-reliever in 2010 and is currently 2-0 with a 3.45 ERA. Joy picked up his first win with the Miners against Windy City after a rain-suspended game forced Joe Augustine out of the game for a third time. Last, but certainly not least, is the newest member to the Miners this season, rookie shortstop, Michael Stalter. Stalter was signed by the Miners on June 15th, after starting shortstop Brad Netzel was placed on

the disabled list. So far, the former Saluki has provided a solid glove and serviceable offensive numbers across the board. Stalter is batting .231 in 2010 with 2 RBIs and a stolen base. He scored the game-winning run in his professional debut against Windy City after recording two hits in his first two professional at-bats. At Southern Illinois University, Stalter was one of three Salukis in 2009 to start all 52 games in the field and was a mainstay at shortstop. He ranked second on the team with 61 hits and five home runs, while batting .295 and driving in 31 runs on the year. Stalter ranked third in the MVC with 166 defensive assists and was selected “Saluki of the Year.” In his senior season, Stalter was SIU’s second-leading hitter in league play with a .316 average. Mark Kelly, Shawn Joy and Michael Stalter have each had his fair share of success with the Miners in 2010. In fact, these three have helped the Miners to a Frontier League record of 25-4. They have also been major contributors on the current Southern Illinois 13-game winning streak in June. If a team is going to be competitive during the long haul of a baseball season, they are going to need contributions from all 24 men on the roster. Thankfully, Pinto is getting everything he has asked for, and more, from the three former Saluki standouts.


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r rrio a W red nside u t i a Fe See

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July 2010  

Volume 3, Number 12

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