Another day, another Mercer County cage coaching casualty.
On Thursday, Tom Burns was notified his position as Kennedy Catholic High girls’ basketball coach was being opened to new applicants.
“I don’t want to say a whole lot,” Burns began. “You walk in(to a meeting), and thirty seconds later, you’re out.
“ ... ‘Off-court drama,’ that’s the reasoning,” related Burns via a Thursday afternoon telephone conversation.
“We decided to open the position. We decided to move in a different direction and open the position,” said Kennedy Catholic athletic director Jim Piccirilli.
Burns recently concluded his 6th campaign at Kennedy with a 24-3 ledger. He guided the Lady Golden Eagles to their 4th District 10 Class A title during his tenure, and this year completed a 3-peat. KC copped PIAA playoff wins over North Catholic and Port Allegany before being ousted by eventual state runner-up Vincentian Academy in the state quarterfinals.
After a season-opening setback at D-10 Class AAA titlist Franklin, Kennedy captured 15 consecutive conquests, lost to Vincentian in the postponed finale of Penn State-Beaver’s holiday tourney, then reeled off 9 more victories before being vanquished by Vincentian (68-51) for the 2nd straight season.
“I can’t understand it,” admitted Burns. “Last year there was a parent issue — a fabricated parent’s issue that, obviously, people couldn’t let go. I’d heard rumors all year long that this was going to be my last year, but didn’t put a lot of weight into them.
“It’s always been about the kids, to me,” Burns continued. “Whether or not I’m coaching them, it doesn’t matter; what matters to me is that the kids are okay.”
Burns’ daughter, Rachel, was one of this season’s seniors and she surpassed the career 1,000-point plateau, as did Akron University-bound Alex Ricketts. Earlier this week Ricketts was selected 1st Team All-State by Pennsylvania sports writers.
“I think it’s a well-deserved award for her,” Burns said regarding Ricketts. “She’s worked hard, harder than most kids in the area, to achieve that. I think her four-year tenure for me was ... in my opinion (statewide sports writers) got it right this year, making her First Team. She’s been an outstanding player for me and Kennedy Catholic High for the past four years, and she’ll go on and be a great player at Akron.”
Burns recently had been selected by Youngstown-area’s MyValleySports.com as its coach of the year, so he admitted Thursday’s revelation,
“ ... is disheartening. There’s a lot of upset parents that don’t understand. I don’t think anybody ever will.
“It’s a political move, but it’s happening everywhere,” he added.
Recently, 10-year Hickory High boys head coach Nick Cannone was notified his position was being opened after 7 straight winning seasons.
A telephone call to Father Marc Stockton, president of the Shenango Valley Catholic School System, was not returned. But Piccirilli, speaking on behalf of the school’s administration, said, “Any time (a school) opens a position, everybody’s welcome to re-apply.”
“ ... It’s been a good time, but I’m most upset for my little Hannah,” Burns said regarding his youngest daughter, a 14-year-old 8th-grader.
“ ... That’s my old school,’ Burns said regarding Kennedy Catholic, “but I guess you just roll with the times ...”
Another day, another Mercer County cage coaching casualty.
GC coach Bell retired — sort of!
You can take the man out of coaching, but you can’t take coaching out of the man.
Former Grove City High football coach Jeff Bell has spent his first few months of retirement hearing the ping of a baseball ricocheting off an aluminum bat instead of clap of shoulder pads coming together.
“My grandson Maddox (Bell) and a few of his friends play on a traveling team, so I’m helping out with that,” said Bell, who retired as the Eagles’ football coach this past winter. “They’re a good group of kids to work with and this is a lot more enjoyable. It’s a lot less stress.
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THE TALENTED — albeit underachieving — Detroit Lions commence camp July 27 in Allen Park, Mich. as the National Football League prepares for the 2014 season.
Racing to fight cancer
Former Hickory High athlete Amanda Budzowski is on the run — the run to raise money to fight cancer.
Budzowski is part of Team in Training, an organization that has raised more than $1.4 billion for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society since forming in 1988. Her division is known as IRONTEAM and she is currently training for the 140.6-mile Ironman triathlon in Mont Tremblant, Canada, in August.
SPORTVIEW: Pirates, Indians need fast start after All-Star break
SO FAR, so good. I’m referring to the start of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cleveland Indians after the All-Star break on Friday night.
Both teams rallied to win. The Buccos beat the Colorado Joints — err, I mean Rockies — by coming from behind in the 8th inning. Since they legalized marijuana sales in that state, it gave new meaning to John Denver’s song “Rocky Mountain High.”
Rutters earn spot in national motocross event
The brother-sister racing duo of Elijah and Dannah Rutter of Mercer are set to travel to Hurricane Mills, Tenn., to compete soon in the prestigious 33rd annual Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships presented by AMSOIL at Loretta Lynn Ranch.
Elijah, 18, and Dannah, 16, earned a ticket to the event with their performances at qualifiers and then regionals and are among the top 5 percent of riders in the U.S. Overall, 20,000 hopefuls from across the U.S. competed and there are only 1,446 qualifying spots at nationals.
Notebook: Sharon football greats meet, reunite at inaugural golf scramble
Mid-July, with the temperature 80-plus degrees at Avalon at Buhl Country Club; however, it felt like a fall, football Friday.
The inaugural Sharon Football Boosters 4-man golf scramble took place recently, and served as a Who’s Who in the Tigers’ triumphant tradition.
SPORTVIEW: All is right with the world - LeBron has come home!
HAPPY DAYS are here again. The prodigal child has returned!
The announcement that “King James” is returning to Cleveland has created a level of euphoria not seen since the Browns won the city’s last major sport championship a couple of years ago.
What’s that? Oh, yeah — make that 50 years ago (1964).
Full text of LeBron's essay in SI
LeBron James announced his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday in an essay that he wrote for Sports Illustrated. The following is the full text of that essay.
Snyder, Gordon, Popatak named to All-State team
Grove City High’s David Gordon, Sharpsville’s Greg Popatak and Lakeview’s Logan Snyder recently were named to the Pennsylvania High School Baseball Coaches Association all-state team.
Synder was selected 1st-Team in Class A as a designated-hitter, while Gordon was honorably-mentioned in Class AAA and Popatak similarly was honored in AA. Gordon gained his laurels as a pitcher; Popatak as a 3rd baseman.
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Little League Tournaments
Sharon won the District 2 Major Division (12-year-olds) Championship, while Greenville 9-10 and West Middlesex 11 teams notched tournament victories in recent action.
Hermitage Brennan Chiropractic won the Mercer County 14-under championship recently.
Following are game reports:
The First Tee of Sharon celebrates 15th anniversary
Professional golf star John Cook has received many honors and awards in his illustrious career, but probably none mean as much as those similar to the one he received Monday afternoon at The First Tee of Sharon.
During a special ceremony to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the local program, a permanent plaque was unveiled in his honor describing the contributions he has made to junior golf.
SPORTVIEW: John Cook here Monday for First Tee; other celebs on July 11
THE RETURN of Tiger Woods to a PGA event sparked a lot of interest this past week. The return of John Cook to Buhl Farm Golf Course Monday will do the same locally.
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It is open to the public at no charge.
Hickory honors Tri-Athletes
Hickory High honored its 2013-14 tri-athletes in a recent ceremony, the latest installment in a program that began in 2003-04.
Fifty student-athletes (grades 9-12) were cited for having competed in at least one sport in the fall, winter and spring while maintaining a minimum B (85 percent) grade-point-average during the first three 9-week grading periods of the academic year.
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- GC coach Bell retired — sort of!