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12 - July 22, 2011 Salem Patriot

by Chris White It was only a few weeks ago when the Cleveland Cavaliers selected highly touted point guard Kyrie Irving from Duke University with the number-one overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. One thing that stands out about this pick is that Irving played in less than a third of his team’s games last season (missing 26 games in all), as he was sidelined by a toe injury. This brought a couple thoughts to mind. First, I hope the NBA takes the chance to restructure its age restriction rules during this current lockout. The league’s owners are not allowing the players to go to work until a new collective bargaining agreement is done. This lockout is focusing mainly on issues like salary cap and revenue sharing, but one bargaining chip the players’ association holds is to push the league’s minimum age back to 18. The current age minimum is 19 and has only complicated things since it took effect in 2006. Too many high school stars were flopping after making the jump from high school ball to the pros, so the NBA hoped at least one year in college would help players mature. But in Irving’s case, it really didn’t do much of anything besides hold him back for a year. Considering he was the number one selection after barely playing this past season, he most likely would have been a top-10 pick coming out of high school. To me, lifting the age restriction is more about giving an 18-year-old man the options he deserves after working so hard than it is about whether it’s wrong or right to jump to the NBA from high school. And honestly, one year in college can help a player grow personally and athletically, but it certainly won’t make a person grow up in every case. Above all, it’s just not right to take away a young man’s opportunity to make millions of

Salem Patriot

dollars playing basketball if he has the talent to do so. The decision should be left up to the athlete, even if he’s 18. This brings me to my next thought regarding how much pressure today’s young athletes can face in determining what’s best for their futures. While the Area News Group’s five towns (Hudson, Litchfield, Pelham, Windham, and Salem) most likely won’t produce an athlete who has the option to forgo college and jump to professional basketball at 18, there are still plenty of decisions to be made by the area’s high school student-athletes before entering college. Do I take a scholarship offer from a

Division 1 college to play one sport, or do I go Division 3 where I can play multiple sports? Do I go to a big university with a better team or do I go to a small school where the coach is telling me I’ll play right away? I love this athletic program, but the school doesn’t have what I want to study—should I consider a different major? Do I even want to keep playing sports in college? The list of things to consider gets pretty intense pretty fast, and with the summer recruiting season in full gear I’ve put together a quick list to guide our high school student-athletes who are considering athletic opportunities at the next level: 1. Decide what you want and go get it. If you don’t quite know what you want out of your college experience yet, get together with your family, teachers, and coaches to talk about things like what you want to study, what sport(s) you want to play, or even how far you’re comfortable with traveling. Don’t sit back and wait for college coaches to call you. Take the initiative and contact the schools that meet your criteria.

2. Like usual, school comes first. Any coach will tell you (or should tell you) the number-one reason you go

Five Steps to Future Athletic Success Inspired by the NBA Draft

to college is to get an education. You should never go to a school just because you like the coach. The reality is he could leave to take another job before you even have your first day of classes. A good way to look at this is to ask yourself if you would be happy at this institution even if you had to stop playing your sport. If you suffer a career-ending injury and can still be happy with where you are, then you’ve found your school.

3. Go on as many visits as you can. Just like how you would determine your favorite foods or television shows, the more colleges you experience, the better you will figure out what you like and don’t like. And you don’t have to wait for coaches to tell you when to visit. Go take a regular tour of a college and then see if you can stop by the coach’s office afterward. Or call ahead to let the coach know you’re visiting. College coaches love hearing from prospective student-athletes no matter who they are.

Sports Sports

4. Establish plans and back-up plans. It won’t sound like it when they talk to you, but with every coach you meet, you’ll be on their recruiting depth chart along with other prospective student- athletes. So why not make your own list of schools to pursue? Just like a regular student, make a list of dream schools, target schools, and safety schools and take your athletics into account as well. Also, remember to value the importance of building good relationships with the coaches you are being recruited by. You never know where things may lead, and those relationships may even come in handy five, 10, or 15 years down the line.

5. Trust yourself. It sounds so simple, but you should always keep in mind that your future is ultimately your decision.

Junior Blue Devils

Take Babe Ruth District Softball Championship

submitted by Dianne Wright The Salem U10 Junior Blue Devils won the Babe Ruth District Softball Championship on Sunday, July 10, on their home field. The Junior Blue Devils were hot throughout the tournament, scoring over 63 runs and holding their opponents to only six runs. In the first match, the Blue Devils beat Southern New Hampshire 10-0. Brianna Marino was outstanding, pitching striking out nine consecutive batters early on. Abby Latham and Maddie Rastello had multiple hits to help the offense. Lamprey River was the next victim, losing 19-2. Maddie Grasso and Alexis Lefebre had multiple hits for Salem. Always a matchup, Salem went on to defeat Windham 12-2. Victoria

Andrade had four hits and, as always, was outstanding as the Blue Devil catcher.

In the elimination round, Salem once again beat Lamprey River 12-2,

with Abby Latham’s hot bat contributing multiple hits. In the Championship game, Salem defeated Windham 10-0. Maddie Rastello and June Milos had key hits to seal the bid for an invitation to the Babe Ruth State Tournament. The Blue Devils are coached by Eric Marino, and assisted by Rob Grasso and Peter Lefebre.






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