TopOfTheCircle.com

Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Archive for Life

Jan. 4, 2022 — Lessons from a first snow

Last evening, I drove home after picking up some groceries. Since I knew there was going to be a snowstorm of some kind today, I picked up more than I usually would.

I do remember one interesting thing from observing the roadways heading home. You didn’t see the white lines on the pavement indicating that the road had been pretreated.

Part of the lessons learned from a 1999 snowstorm that hit the East Coast was that, before the first snowstorm of a given season, you had to make an effort to try to treat the roadway with salt or brine so that the sodium, aluminum, and chloride atoms would be wedged in crevices in the asphalt.

During that December 1999 snowstorm, it took three hours to take a 15-mile trip (trust me, I did it). Since then, you’ve seen numerous highway crews getting out ahead of snowstorms pretreating roadways.

That, however, was a lesson which was seemingly forgotten in Virginia today. A 48-mile stretch of interstate roadway was allowed to ice over with anywhere from two to four inches of ice, along with a 14-inch snow pack which rendered conditions impassable for thousands of motorists.

As a student of public administration, it’s a lesson in pro-active vs. reactive management. Though I’ve heard all manner of justification as to why the Virginia Department of Transportation didn’t put down a layer of saline on the roadway, the fact remains that crews were not on the road in the numbers needed to deal with a snowstorm ahead of time.

Instead, the Commonwealth of Virginia chose to be reactive. And, as it turns out, woefully late in managing the situation.

Thankfully, nobody was injured or killed because of the traffic conditions. I’ve seen these kinds of weather events result in fatalities.

Dec. 31, 2021 — 189 right, 124 wrong

Today, I finished my Trivial Pursuit CLASSIC Edition Year-In-A-Box calendar, a calendar full of questions about everything from Spam to surfing to Sam Houston. The questions in this calendar were a little easier in parts, and my yearlong score reflected that. I got 60 percent of answers correct.

It’s nothing compared to James Holzhauer, Ken Jennings, or Amy Schneider, but it’s not half-bad for a sportswriter. And yes, I keep score.

Dec. 27, 2021 — Desmond Tutu, 1931-2021

On Oct. 22, 2006, a black man wearing white and gold robes walked into one of the overflow rooms at my church and uttered the following:

Lwaye u!xolo lukaThi!xo, olugqithisele kuko konke ukuqonda, luya kuzigcina iintliziyo zenu neengqiqo zenu kuKristu Yesu.

The man was Desmond Tutu, the Archbishop of Cape Town and a worldwide activist for human rights and nonviolent protest. He died over the weekend at the age of 90, having dedicated his life and ministry to lifting up the poor, disadvantaged, and downtrodden.

The service was part of a commemoration of the Episcopal Church’s admittance of women to the priesthood. It attracted such a following that the cathedral opened overflow space in our wooden space as well as the stone crypt underneath the main body of the church.

It’s the only time in my life I received the post-Communion blessing with Xhosa clicks (symbolized by the exclamation points in the above text).

And he, like that blessing, were completely unforgettable.

Rest in power, Bishop.

Dec. 18, 2021 — Waking up to a secondary nightmare

As the story goes, the Spanish flu epidemic of 1917 wound up extending an entire year because populations had gotten careless about spreading the strain that caused the deaths of 50 million people worldwide.

So, should we, as a civilization, be perturbed about a recent spike in Coronavirus cases that have caused the shutdown of sports teams in soccer, basketball, football, and hockey this week?

Sure, it’s one thing when high-paid professional athletes get sick. But what should be more worrying is whether or not fans — the general public — develop the illness.

The summer of 2021 was not just one where the COVID-19 vaccine became readily available, but one which saw full capacity at many outdoor facilities for sporting events. But with sports moving indoors, their supporters are also moving inside.

Now, I grant that the recent Delta and Omicron variants are treatable through current means, and are mitigated (somewhat) by current vaccines.

But when you get news that a friend, who works for a major arts organization in a major metropolitan area, has contracted COVID for a second time, it is something that makes you want to hide away for a while until the curve flattens.

Nov. 25, 2021 — Giving thanks

Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers.

We’ve spotlighted student-athletes in this space who have great reason to give thanks this holiday season. One is Molly Katzman, a field hockey player from Ladue Horton Watkins (Mo.), who was born with a rare genetic defect.

You can read and view a story on the senior from KSDK-TV in St. Louis by clicking here.

Nov. 11, 2021 — Lending a name

It was a decade and a half ago when Holly Charrette, a former field hockey player from Cranston (R.I.) East, became the first known field hockey player to die in the Iraq conflict.

Today, in Johnston, R.I., there is a six-bedroom facility dedicated to transitioning women veterans from the battlefield back to civilian life. It bears the name, “Holly Charrette House.” Run by Operation Stand Down Rhode Island, it was opened in July of 2010 and became Rhode Island’s first and only transitional housing for homeless female veterans.

As today is Veterans Day, please remember who gave all in service to our nation. It is particularly poignant that the state of Rhode Island remembers Charrette in this way.

Oct. 11, 2021 — The medicine game

Today, a day celebrated amongst many as Indigenous Peoples Day, we think about the origins of a game that has become incredibly popular amongst a growing segment of America over the last quarter-century.

That game was originally called baggataway, but is now known as lacrosse. It was a game which originally settled disputes amongst native tribespeople before European conquest of the Americas, but has also come to be a cultural touchstone amongst current members of the Haudenosaunee.

As the game grows across the United States, it is useful to understand how important location is. While the original Six Nations does have great lacrosse, so does the area of the Piscataway, which encompasses much of the Delmarva Peninsula.

As you head west, however, many of the native games played by tribes involved sticks, but not with the ball being played in the air. Instead, a lot of the games involve the ball being played on the ground, as if to be more connected to the earth.

Implements in games played by Native Americans are on display to this day at the National Museum of the American Indian in our nation’s capital. The implements are a smorgasbord of shapes and curves, meant to carry, shield, or propel whichever the chosen instrument of play is — a ball or a chain of small stones.

Your Founder would like to remind you that he was born on land formerly occupied by the Chocktaw and Chickasaw nations, was raised in the Lenni-Lenape territory, was educated in the Massachusett and Haudenosaunee territories, and currently lives in what was the Piscataway and Nacotchtank tribal lands.

My parents were born and raised in what was Taino territory in the Caribbean, although they were of southern European origin.

So, why this disclosure? I think in order for us to be truly American, we have to understand that we are still very much a melting pot of people coming from around the world, even though it has come at great cost to the original occupants of this land.

Oct. 7, 2021 — A game-changer for young people

This morning, word came that Pfizer made a formal request to the Food and Drug Administration to authorize its Coronavirus vaccine for children age 5-11. It’s estimated that up to 28 million children in the United States would be eligible for the shots if the FDA panel green-lights the vaccine.

For most of the duration of the global pandemic, the target demographic for people getting vaccines have been persons over the age of 18, fully grown adults and the elderly. But in the last few months, as the vaccinated population has risen, the demographics have skewed towards younger groups.

As in-person schooling has become the norm in many American school districts this fall, there has been a greater effort in getting vaccines in students under the age of 18, especially student-athletes. Indeed, there are several large and prominent school district across the U.S. are mandating vaccination for people wanting to play winter sports, almost all of which are played indoors.

The Pfizer vaccine for the 5-11 age group will almost certainly prompt more districts to mandate vaccines for high-school aged student-athletes.

The way I see it, anything to make the atmosphere safer for everyone involved is a good thing.

Oct. 4, 2021 — Multiple outlets, a good thing

This site hasn’t been affected at all by today’s outage of social media presences like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram.

Indeed, the great thing about what we’ve done over the past 23 years on this site is to build in a measure of redundancy. For the blog, we designed this site to have a front and a side door; there are three ways to get to these words.

It’s much the same with our social media posts. Although our Unfiltered series is based on what we have on Instagram, you can access the post through Twitter or Facebook. Our TikTok videos can be found through Instagram.

So, we’re still here, still writing, and still listening to what is going on so that you, the readership, can be informed.

July 10, 2021 — A “delta variant” surge that is not to be ignored

This morning, I saw a frightening graph on my Twitter feed.

It showed that, in several countries around the world, there has been a massive upshoot of COVID-19 cases in several countries over the last two weeks. One of the most stunning surges is in The Netherlands, which ended most restrictions June 26th, then saw an absolute moonshot of a trend. Holland had under 1,000 cases a day on July 2, but yesterday zoomed to 6,926.

Similar surges have occurred in England, Indonesia, Greece, Spain, and Portugal, shows data from a Financial Times analysis.

These surges are coming at the absolute worst time when it comes to the world sporting calendar. We mentioned earlier this week that the government of Japan has imposed a state of emergency just two weeks before the start of the Olympics, which means that events are going to be held without fans in the stands.

In the last day or so, it was also announced that the Curacao men’s national soccer team is being withdrawn from the CONCACAF Gold Cup after positive tests within the team, meaning that today’s fixtures are having to be altered in order to have Guatemala participate.

Too, the Capital Cup, an international club competition featuring D.C. United and three Central American teams, has been riven with COVID withdrawals. Puebla, a mid-table pro team from Mexico’s first division, withdrew four days ago because of 10 new positive cases. Today, another Capital Cup team, Alianza FC of El Salvador, also withdrew because of COVID-19 protocols stemming from a positive test, leaving only the hosts and Costa Rican side Alajuelense, which will play tomorrow to finish off what was supposed to have been a six-game competition.

I can’t help but think that, as the United States has been able to get at least one injection to roughly 70 percent of the population, other nations, which may not have the economy, health systems, or logistics to inoculate their citizens at a similar level, are seeing our success as a license to open their nations up.

This is not good.