Rutherford County sports resolutions
I'm sure you know by now after the barrage of New Year stories, columns, television programs commercials that, yes, we are in a new year.
With a new calendar comes the time-honored tradition of New Year's resolutions. It's a chance for us to evaluate ourselves and set goals to become better people in some fashion over the next 365 days.
Some people vow to lose weight, stop smoking, stop drinking, be a better friend, be a better husband or even a better sports editor — not all of those apply to me.
I could sit here at the keyboard and peck away telling you about how 2013 treated me and how I plan to make 2014 special, but that's my business and chance are you couldn't care less what I plan to do. And honestly, I don't need to tell anyone. That's just more people asking me if I'm sticking to my resolutions and I like to keep my failures to myself.
So instead of spewing my resolutions that affect very few people other than myself to thousands of readers, I'll focus on something a tad more universal: Rutherford County sports.
In 2014 I'll have a front row seat to all things Rutherford County sports and there are certainly a few things I'd like to see happen. So for the remainder of this column I'm no longer Travis Durkee. I'm the personification of Rutherford County sports, you can call me "RuCo."
In 2014 I vow to...
1. Win multiple state titles
Ah yes, the peak of high school athletics - a state championship. Quite possibly the easiest resolution to make, yet the toughest to fulfill.
In 2013 I saw just one state championship as Chase wrestler Josh Stephens capped an undefeated season with a state crown at 145 pounds. The title came in March giving me nine more months to pocket another, however, I went without.
This year will be different.
East Rutherford basketball looks to be a contender despite being losers of three early-season games. Those three loses have come against an Olympic team that finished last year 30-0 with a 4A state title, a Shelby team that seems to have the Cavaliers' number after beating the six straight times and a Gaffney team that is considered to be the best in the state of South Carolina. And those Lady Cavaliers led by superstar Rachel Camp and a host of key players ... don't sleep on them. The Battle at the Border shootout may not be the only title they earn this season.
East Rutherford baseball has gone, what seems like, an eternity without adding another piece of jewelry to Bobby Dale's hand. The Cavalier faithful are hungry for more hardware ... and so am I.
Then when fall rolls around I hope to see those Thomas Jefferson Gryphons best their performance on the soccer pitch from 2012 and hoist a state championship trophy as opposed to a regional runner-up plague. And I can't believe it, but those Chase Trojans will be a force once again in 2014 as they return several key pieces from a 2013 team that earned the school's first-ever conference title.
2. Become relevant on the gridiron
You may have noticed that I didn't mention any football teams in my first resolution. That's because I've always been told to keep my resolutions realistic. It's never good to set yourself up for failure.
I know it stings, Rutherford County sports fans. I don't like it either, but my football programs strike no fear into opponents. In 2013 I landed just two teams in the playoffs, both of which were bounced in the first round. No longer will I accept mediocrity. No longer will I consider "improvement" a successful season.
Yes, Thomas Jefferson had its best regular season with an 8-3 record. But that record against a soft conference coupled with a first-round lost to lower seed on your home turf is not enough. Continue to raise the bar, Gryphons.
And yes, R-S Central managed to pull itself out of the gutter and finish with a .500 regular season record, but is that what I should consider my crowning football achievement for 2013?
3. Bring back the Owls
Now I know the Owls never left, but the quality of baseball that Rutherford County expects apparently did.
A 17-32 record and missing the Petitt Cup playoffs is unacceptable. This season will be better.
In 2014 fans will flock to McNair Stadium because of the top-notch baseball, not the bottom-barrel beer prices (which are also nice).
4. Continue improving youth programs
If I have anything to be proud of in 2013 it's the fact that my youth programs garnered local, state-level and national attention.
I sent a group of 13-year-old boys to California (scary, I know) to play baseball in the Little League World Series. I sent a handful of youth football teams to national tournaments in which one came home with a championship.
Indeed Rutherford County, we are rich with young talent. And in 2014 I plan to nurture that talent. I plan to invest in that talent with programs run by honest individuals who refrain from dipping their hands into the cookie jar. I plan to invest in them with proper coaching and training by the fine sports minds that litter this county. And I plan to invest in this talent with proper parent behavior.
As proud I was watching my young athletes excel this year, I was equally disgusted at some of the antics I saw in the stands and on the sidelines.
I saw opposing parents argue in the stands. I saw parents yelling at coaches through fences at machine-pitch baseball games. I saw a football coach grab an 8-year-old player by his facemask, yell into his face and call him names until the young man crumpled onto the bench with tears rolling down his face.
That isn't what sports is all about and that is not how this county should represent itself.
And there you have it. Those are the top resolutions for Rutherford County sports. I have a wonderful foundation, but there is always room for improvement. Isn't that what a fresh start is all about?