First of all, a big thank-you for all the comments, suggestions and feedback we received prior to, during and following our “Year-in-Review” edition of “RCN SportsTalk.” It takes a good deal of time to go back through all the games, tapes, files, et al, trying to review all of the sports events covered over a twelve-month stretch. It is extremely rewarding when our viewers call us asking in advance for the show and then let us know afterwards how much they enjoyed looking back at many memories, one last time, at the end of the calendar year.
Since it is a very busy program, we inevitably run out of time before we get through every item we hoped to address. Here are a few of the year-end topics and my responses that didn’t make it to this year’s show, along with a few predictions for the new year.
- “Most Underrated Coach in 2013.” Northampton softball head coach Sally Whittaker-Kahan guided her team to winning its first 19 games of the season. Led by an outstanding pitcher in Marly Laubach (no relation to RCN’s own Gary), they entered the league playoffs as the number-one team. Despite a semifinal loss in leagues, the K-Kids bounced back to capture the District XI title. After the season Whittaker-Kahan announced she would be stepping down due to a medical issue, ending a long run of success as a player at Parkland High School and Temple University, and finishing her coaching career on top.
- “Biggest Challenge Overcome in 2013.” The Allen girls and boys basketball teams each had major hurdles they had to overcome in 2013. The girls team found themselves without a coach, and retired head coach Tom Gallagher came on board late in the offseason. The Lady Canaries did not have high expectations nor returned many players from the previous year. Gallagher gave the program a huge lift by agreeing to take over in a very tough situation. Boys’ head coach Doug Snyder had to deal with several players leaving the team for various reasons throughout the 2013 season and still found a way to make the district playoffs. They lost more players prior to the start of this current season – not all of their losses due to graduation. But between Snyder’s coaching and the outstanding players that remain with the program, I am sure the Canaries will once again be a force in 2014.
- “Top Underclassman for a Team We Saw on RCN.” To be honest, I had a tie between Liberty’s Doug Erney and Nazareth’s Justin Albert. I think both teams had some off-field issues that may or may not have affected the rest of their teams. I feel both Erney and Albert grew into their roles as quarterbacks and showed solid decision-making ability combined with strong throwing arms. I think both the Hurricanes and the Blue Eagles will have better records in 2014 and those two players will be a big reason why.
- “Worst Decision Made by a Sports Personality.” Basically every move Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. made during the last few months of the year. He not only resigned nearly all of the aging core of players who have been underperforming over the last two seasons (with the exception of Roy Halladay, who retired), but also added older, inconsistent players (Marlon Byrd, Roberto Hernandez) via free agency. The list of question marks for next year’s team has only grown since the season concluded, with a series of head-scratching moves and acquisitions. Amaro needs nearly all those questions answered very positively in 2014 if the Phillies are going to have any chance at the playoffs — and to save his job.
- “Best Sports Addition in 2013.” Eagles head coach Chip Kelly. I normally wish fans would give head coaches at least one year (at the professional level) to adjust to a new team and implement his/her system. Birds fans were all over Kelly for his moves early in the season and his 1-3 start, and questions were raised if he was going to be a long-term answer to running the team. 2013 was a huge success for the Eagles and the team will be even better in 2014. Our co-host Joe Craig’s “Stone-Cold Prediction” for 2014, if time had allowed on the show, was that the Eagles will go to the Super Bowl.
- “Stone-Cold Lock for 2014.” There will be much greater interest in the Dieruff football program in 2014. While most local football experts thought a “good” season for the Huskies in 2013 would have been one or two wins, Dieruff exceeded everyone’s expectations this past year with five victories. They almost won a sixth game, which would have qualified them for the playoffs. The team looks to build on the success it developed in ’13 and, for the first time in quite a while, they will head into the this fall season as a team to watch. I envision Dieruff winning more games in ‘14, thanks, in part, to the new LVC, which will grant a more lenient and stable schedule for the long-term.
We’d love to hear your responses to these topics, along with your sports predictions for 2014. Please post your comments below and we’ll see if your predictions come true in the new year.
Don’t forget, you can see the entire show for free on RCN On-Demand by going to channel 1 or hitting the VOD button on your remote control, then click on RCN-TV, sports and then “RCN SportsTalk.” Be sure to check out all of RCN’s local programming, along with the latest movies and special events that are offered on RCN On-Demand.
Happy New Year everyone!