The local 2013 sports was filled with sweet success for area teams. Here’s a look back through the eyes of your hometown sports editor.
Hall football fans will remember 2013 as the year the Red Devils returned to glory, making the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and winning its first playoff game since 2006.
St. Bede advanced to the State Softball Tournament for the first time in school history, landing a fourth-place finish.
The Hall basketball team won the Colmone Classic for the first time since 2004, defeating defending champ Mendota 56-54
• Scariest moment: I’ve seen a lot of athletes over the years take bad hits and breaks like Joe Theisman, Brandon McCarthy and Kevin Ware. One that really hit at home was when I saw St. Bede’s own J.A. Happ take a line drive off the bat of the Ray’s Desmond Jennings off the side of the face on May 7 in St. Petersburg, Fla.
It was a scary scene shared by those back in the Illinois Valley, who know and have followed the former St. Bede Bruin from his days on the area sandlots and diamonds.
While being carted off the field, Happ had the emergency personnel take his cell phone and call his mother back home in Peru so he could tell her he was OK. The next day, he returned a text to me, saying, “I’m going to be alright.”
Happ said he was overwhelmed by the show of support he received from the entire MLB community and all his friends and family.
He sustained a broken orbital bone and later diagnosed with a sprained knee that would sideline him for a month.
“I feel fortunate,” Happ said, knowing it could have been far worse.
• Saddest moment: The most recent stands out most with the passing of young Cora Peters. The beautiful Bureau Valley High School senior touched and inspired many as her story of faith and friendly spirit spread in and around Bureau County as she battled cancer. It is good to know she is at peace now and with her Lord.
• Tough-luck award: St. Bede ace pitcher Laine Schweickert struck out 23 batters and loses 2-1 in 10 innings to Putnam County.
• Strangest story: Opening night of the prep football season when the Friday Night Lights gave way to thunder and lightning. All area games were postponed and resumed the next day.
• Second chance at love: After 42 years apart, boat racer Charley Bradley married his high school sweetheart June Perry on the shores of Lake DePue prior to this year’s boat races. They had long planned to spend their lives together when tragedy struck on Feb. 26, 1972. June and her family watched as her father was killed in a racing accident. Upon that point, June didn’t want anything to do with racing and pushed everything away associated with, including Charley.
Both of them had been married three times before being reunited two and a half years ago.
“It’s 42 years in the making,” Charley joked about their wedding.
• Show of sportsmanship: I remember watching the Sherrard-Princeton football game how No. 64 stood out on the football field like a man among boys. The 6-4, 300-pound senior Ben Corlatt of Sherrard routinely knocked down the Tiger players play after play and then routinely checked on the well being of downed opponent.
At the end of the game, Corlatt checked on PHS’ Turner Jamison as was Turner’s mother, Julie. She asked Corlatt if he had been the one who had been hitting her son out there on the field, and then she thanked him for his show of sportsmanship and compassion.
Sherrard coach Brett Lee told me that Corlatt was “a great kid with a solid perspective on life.”
• Lesson learned: Brian Strom had a moment when he shared a life lesson with his son, Caleb, while judging the long jump competition at Princeton track meet this spring. The young Storm landed with what appeared to be a personal best jump only to hear the word “scratch” ring into his ears. The judge: his father, Brian. While disappointed, Caleb was not surprised by his father’s show of honesty, saying he’s a pastor after all.
• Best quote: When I asked if he would remain as football coach in a perfect world, outgoing Bureau Valley coach Jeff Ohlson said, “there is no perfect world.”
• My best sports moment of the year: Watching the NLCS with my daughters in St. Louis and having our Cardinals go back to the World Series.
• My biggest disappointment of the year: Cardinals not being able to get past the Red Sox
• Sadly missed: I always include in this end of the year look-back the loved ones who have passed away in the past 12 months. This year includes many: Jan Monier (BV sports booster/mom), Greg Colmone (Hall sports booster/longtime PA announcer), Brandon Bowman (former BV basketballer), Carl Ellberg Jr. (aka Carl the Plumber), Parker Humphrey (newborn daughter of BV softball coach Brian), Pat Balconi (golfer), Walt Windt (former PHS AD, coach), Lefty Novak (former DePue Little Giant), Bill Lamb (Princeton historian/photographer, good friend), Dave Van Drew (former WZOE announcer, good friend), Diane Nyman (longtime Princeton Lincoln schoolteacher), Bill Anderson (former Ohio High School basketball great), Jessica Sergeant (former BV runner) and Cora Peters (BV student).
Most notable among national sports figures lost was Stan the Man Musial, the face of the St. Louis Cardinals organization.
• Looking into my crystal ball for 2014: I see more success for our area sports and my baseball team in St. Louis.
I wish you all a blessed 2014.
Kevin Hieronymus is the BCR sports editor. He started his 28th year at the BCR on Jan. 1. Contact him at khieronymus @bcrnews.com.