Tradition of Excellence

Nappanee, Ind.– At the northern end of the city lies the high school. You can’t miss it. The parking lot is home to one of the town’s two water towers. The entrance driveway bodes an electronic welcome board, flashing the date, time, temperature and any other news the front office at NorthWood High School deems necessary for the community to know on their way in and out of town.

The the soccer field lies to the north side of the building. To the south, the football is nestled against a wooded area with the scoreboard facing the main road on the far east side of the field. Along the backside of the school is a second gym, the baseball and softball fields. And every weekday, August through June, a little more than a thousand students crowd the halls. NorthWood brings together the two communities of Nappanee and Wakarusa. The school prides itself on having a long-standing tradition of excellence: Excellence in the classroom, excellence in the community and excellence in extracurricular activities.

Like any small town in Indiana, NorthWood is the driving force for unifying the community. It’s a gathering place for those with a love of sports, especially on Friday nights, August through October. In Nappanee, people gather at Andrews Field. To the football team, it’s an iconic field. To the student body, it’s a place to have fun and get rowdy cheering on the boys of fall. To the community, it’s a place to set aside difference and show support for the same cause.

The football field at NorthWood has a history of winning–a tradition of excellence. All of this started with Coach James “Jim” Andrews. Andrews was a four-sport athlete at then- Nappanee High School including MVP in football. He graduated in 1965 and attended Manchester College. After graduating from college, Andrews began his coaching career at Pierre Moran in 1969, before moving to NorthWood the following year. When he finally became head football coach in 1972, his team posted a 4-6 record. That was the only losing season Andrews would have for the next 19 years.

Sadly, Andrews’ legacy came to an end on March 8, 1992, when he was killed in a car accident. His coaching career ended with 150 wins to 67 losses. His teams won five Northern Lakes Conference championships, six sectional titles, three regional titles and twice were state runner-ups. Andrews was a 7-time District 2 Coach of the Year and served on the Indiana North All-Stars coaching staff in 1982 and 1987.

Shortly after his death, NorthWood named the field after him. Nappanee Chamber of Commerce honors an annual recipient with the Jim Andrews “Educator of the Year” Award. Bremen High School established the Coach Jim Andrews Memorial Plaque traveling trophy that is given to the winner of the NorthWood-Bremen football game each year. Andrews was survived by his wife, Sheri and three children, Trevor, Nate and Kelli. Now, nearly 24 years after his father’s death, Nate Andrews has returned to NorthWood as the head football coach.

In 2013, Nate was coaching the football team at Western High School in Russiaville, Ind. Following the team’s last loss of the season, he informed the young men that he was leaving and going back home. NorthWood welcomed him with open arms and he is on his way to having the same success as his father. Currently, the 2016 team is undefeated and ranked No. 2 in the Indiana high school sports poll. With an Andrews’ leadership, Andrews Field may very well see two more successful decades. With Nate Andrews coaching on the very field named after his father, NorthWood can continue the tradition of excellence.


Presidential debate…and some Monday night football game

Monday night. It would normally mean Monday Night Football in September. But there was another type of game occurring that ‘Trump-ed’ the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints games on Sept. 26.

The first 2016 Presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was a battle to say the least. Falcons, who? Saints, who? It was estimated that more than 100 millions viewers would be tuning into the debate and only about 10 million into Monday Night Football on ESPN. I personally wish I would have tuned into the game. It may have been less of a blood bath than the debate.

In pure Donald fashion, Trump quickly became angry and argued like a child by interrupting Clinton during the debate concerning jobs and the economy. Clinton laid our her plan by talking about taxes on the wealthy and tax cuts for the middle class as well as the small businesses. Trump simply yelled about how other countries were taking our jobs and how we have to get them back, but not once did he give an exact plan on how he would bring those jobs back.

And Lester Holt?


Holt, the anchor for NBC Nightly News seemed to just let both candidates run wild and free for much of the debate. Trump interrupted Clinton constantly. Trump interrupted Holt himself. Twitter blew up wondering where Holt might have run off to because it seemed that he vacated the moderator’s desk. Needless to say, it was like watching a sporting event where the refs weren’t calling anything.

But, in Holt’s defense, he was moderating two big personalities. Clinton has been in politics for the last 37 years, and Trump is a billionaire born with a silver spoon in his mouth. So, I too, would have ditched the post to take shots with the production crew.

“This was the most abnormal event I’ve ever witnessed,” Chuck Todd said after the debate.

Both candidates took some time talking about taxes, jobs, the economy, emails and the rest of the usual stuff. I, for one, felt like I got a better understanding of what Clinton’s plans are, while I still have no idea how Trump plans to stop ISIS or bring jobs back to the country. In all honesty, since he’s a pathological liar, he probably has no plan at all and is waiting to see if he wins; then he’ll gather his generals (as he says) and pick one of their plans. Who knows. Don’t get me wrong, not really a fan of Clinton either, but at the end of the day, the one more qualified and with a better temperament should be the next President.

Oh yeah, and there was a Monday Night Football game on ESPN. The Atlanta Falcons defeated the New Orleans Saints 45-32. You didn’t miss much. Drew Brees and the Saints are now 0-3. Yikes.






For the third straight season…

For the third straight season, the Indianapolis Colts start the year 0-2. For the third straight season Andrew Luck fails to deliver in the fourth quarter two Sundays in a row. And for the third straight season, Colts fans are asking themselves: “What the F—?”, as Indianapolis falls 34-20 to the Denver Broncos on Sunday.

IndyStar‘s Nat Newell sent the Twitter world this wonderful stat. Not quite sure if that helped Colts fans or made them feel worse. Either way, he’s not wrong. Either way, he proved there’s always hope, until there isn’t.


The Colts traveled to Denver to take on the Broncos at Mile High Stadium. Denver, led by Trevor Siemian and C.J. Anderson, marched the Broncos up and down the field for 400 yards. The Colts’ defense? Nearly non-existent. And it wasn’t any better on the offensive end.

The first half was ugly, especially for Luck.

And those were just the halftime stats. Yet, the Colts managed to stay in the game. They entered the locker room trailing 13-6. So things could have turned around in the second half. Even IndyStar’s Zak Keefer had hope, stating on Twitter: “One thing that’s always impressed me about Andrew Luck: He’ll have an awful half (like he just did), throw it away and find a way to win.”

Coming out of the half, the Colts marched down the field with the ball, scoring on a five yard sweep by Ryan Turbin. With 8:06 left in the third quarter, the game was tied, 13 all. After being stopped on 3rd-and-2, the Broncos would score on a field goal and then their defense would take over.

Luck struggled all day against the Broncos defense. and this drive late in the third was no different. Luck was picked off by Aquib Talib, who ran it back for a touchdown. At this point, Luck was just 8-for-23 and now with a pick and only 86 passing yards.

On the next scoring drive, the Colts scored with Luck finding Frank Gore who tip-toed into the end zone. This closed the gap to 23-20 with 4:02 left in the game.

This may have been the Colts’ best chance to build momentum and win the game. Then came Von Miller. Miller had been after Luck all afternoon. By the end of the game, he had sacked the QB three times, being only the fourth player to do so next to Chris Clemons, J.J. Watt and Mario Williams. In the final two minutes of the game, Miller sacked Luck and Shane Ray scored on the 15-yard TD return.  By games end, Luck was sacked five times.

The Broncos deflated the Colts offensively and defensively. The Colts were plagued with injuries and already had a weak secondary, which ultimately caught up with them. Indianapolis is not used to this. Indianapolis cannot take much more of this. Sunday’s loss left Colts fans wondering where owner Jim Irsay is going with this team. When will the Colts start winning again? Because all Colts Nation knows right now is 0-2.

No. 1 Cathedral shuts down Bishop Chatard

20160906_185718_1The week is labeled “Chatard Week” and starts with the volleyball match between Indianapolis Cathedral and Bishop Chatard and ends with the two schools meeting under the lights for Friday night football.

But the volleyball match between the cross-town rivals comes with more weight than spectators might realize. For the Fighting Irish, the ‘W’ would mean continuing the tradition of excellence and extending their record to 8-0. But for head coach Jean Kesterson, the ‘W’ means practices are paying off.

“Our goals are the same as last year: to try and get better with every practice,” Kesterson said. “We want to improve each week, and the wins will take care of themselves. There’s a culture here. The girls trust each other and are embracing the grind.”

Following Cathedral’s 2015 perfect season, 4A state championship title and national title, the Fighting Irish graduated six seniors, leaving opponents to wonder if this year would be different.

While they lost Megan Sloan  to Louisville, Audrey Adams who went to Xavier University, Meaghan Koors to Indiana University, Anna Jensen to Ball State University, and Kenndell White who is co-captain as a freshman at Penn State, but that isn’t keeping this year’s squad down. In fact. Kesterson was quick to point out to MaxPreps that the 2016 team still has a core group from last year’s national team.

That showed Tuesday night as the Lady Irish breezed their way to victory in three straight sets (25-14, 25-12, 25-13). Senior All-American and Northwestern-commit Nia Robinson led Cathedral with 13 kills as the Trojans struggled against Cathedrals offense. Following Robinson’s lead were juniors Emily Kleck with five kills and Mattison Norris and Joey Landeros with four kills each. Defensively, seniors Payton White (an Auburn commit) and Cassie Brooks (an Evansville commit) held their own with 13 combined digs.

The Trojans never came stood a chance against Cathedral. While the cross-town rivals have met before, the atmosphere surrounding this match-up was intense. Having faith in her team, Kesterson sat on the bench while her team warmed up for the match. In the end, it was the hard work and consistency that led Cathedral to victory.

Cathedral continues to take this season one game at a time. Both Robinson and Payton White expressed the need for constant improvements and things they can individually work on to help make their team better.

“Every day is a process,” Robinson said after the game. “Each day we’re working hard and getting better. And we’re not the same team that we were last year, but we’re working hard to be even better.”

In similar fashion, this year’s squad has hopes of repeating the state championship title. Opponents from around Indianapolis will continue to look for weaknesses in Kesterson’s team. But if Tuesday’s game was an indication of where this team is athletically, then greater things are yet to come for the Lady Irish.

Why the Cubs are the best in MLB right now

I’ll just put this out there…I’m a PROUD Cubs’ fan. And not just because they’re doing well this year. Nope. I’m not one of those bandwagon fans that’s not hopped on the Cub’s train in Chicago. I have been a Cubs fan for as long as I can remember, so of course I’m happy when I see headlines like this while scrolling through my Twitter feed daily.

It’s been 108 years since the Cubs’ last World Series win. That’s way to long, and Manager Joe Maddon knows that. But I don’t think that’s what his club house is focusing on. What I think has made the Cubs so successful this year is that they are focusing on one game at a time…taking this stride day-by-day while trusting in their manager. Over the last few years, Maddon has made sure that his guys are relaxed and having fun, enjoying the game they (and Chicago) love so much. He’s also added depth to his bench and starters, rotating players to as many as four different positions. As Tom Verducci points out in his Sports Illustrated  article, Maddon has also added depth to his bullpen and Kyle Hendricks is part of that depth.

Hendricks is Hernandez because, although Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester are the nominal aces, he can beat any pitcher in any game. His stuff is that good.

Hendricks, 26, has thrown 2,514 pitches this year—not one of them has been as fast as the average big league fastball, 92 mph. But don’t let anybody tell you that he has fringe stuff just because he lacks velocity. His stuff is nasty. He has precise mechanics that allow him to repeat his delivery with minimal effort, which leads to impeccable command. Moreover, Hendricks throws pitches that are unlike almost anything hitters see. He actually throws his trademark sinker with slider spin—a hitter can see a slider’s tell-tale dot as the baseball whirls toward the plate—giving it unusual movement. He also has the best changeup in baseball.

I, for one, have become an Arrieta fan, but I love the strength of the entire bullpen. They also possess MLB’s best defense, which I partially attribute to Maddon’s rotation style and the fact that he gives his starters time off while playing the bench. It’s smart. The bench wants time to play and the starters need breaks. Everyone gets experience and everyone wins. He’s also bringing up guys from the Triple A Iowa team, scouting what he’s dealing with they need anyone at any given time.

The Cubs are taking the league by storm this year and it could (should) pay off. As Verducci points out in his article, there are no obvious flaws and on paper this Cubs have every reason to make it and win a championship this year. But, I prefer to not put the cart in front of the horse and am, too, taking this season day-by-day. Ask me how I feel about their chances come October.