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Which do you choose: 2 rights or 1 wrong?

November 16, 2009
By MIKE MATHISON, Sports editor

The good and bad around the sports world ...

"People seldom improve when they have no other model but themselves to copy." - Oliver Goldsmith

Mike Drake was the offensive coordinator at Kent State and recruited Cribbs to play football for the Golden Flashes.

He played quarterback in college and played his freshman and sophomore seasons under Drake, who Cribbs says was his father figure after moving from Washington, D.C.

Drake, who left Kent State after being diagnosed with the cancer, passed away in 2005 to lymphoma.

Drake's son, Michael, was a senior this year at Stow High School and during the summer Cribbs was approached with the idea of walking the younger Drake during Senior Night.

Done.

Drake figured he would walk with mom and sister when Cribbs showed up moments before the introductions.

"I looked, then looked away, then said, 'Why are you here?''' Michael recalled. "I was shocked.''

A receiver, cornerback and holder for extra points, Michael said Cribbs offered advice before his final game.

"He said, 'Play your heart out. This is it. Give it your all. Don't ever stop on any play. Keep pushing,''' Michael said. "I almost felt worried. I didn't want to look bad for him.''

That was on Oct. 30.

There was no publicity about the event until a story in the Akron Beacon Journal on Saturday.

"He ... stood by me and tried to talk privately to me,'' said Michael's mother, Patty. "He knew this was about every senior boy and cheerleader and band member. Josh was fabulous. It was the most personal thing he's ever done. Then he bowed out.''

"(Michael) didn't expect it. It was something that I had to do, I felt obligated to do,'' Cribbs said.

"It turned out to be a great evening. Everybody was trying to hold back tears. His mom kept crying, his sister, and I was trying to be strong for them.

"It meant a lot to them for me to be there and it meant a lot to me to be there. Just seeing them, how choked up they were, it was about to bring me to tears.''

"Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anyone else expects of you. Never excuse yourself." - Henry Ward Beecher

I understand Brooke football coach Tom Bruney missed last week's game because he allegedly couldn't do that. But, to me, berating an official and hollering loudly to get a timeout because said officials would not recognize you, are different.

Now, there is a gymnastics coach in Kansas who couldn't keep her yap shut and it cost her team a state championship.

Shawnee Mission Northwest coach Jackie Cipollini apparently asked officials questions about the scoring of the balance beam.

Apparently those questions, which would also be her failure to keep her mouth shut, resulted in a one-point penalty on her team and it went from first to third.

"Our coach made an inquiry and it ended up being an issue that's not allowed to be inquired about," Shawnee Mission Northwest athletic director Richard Grinage said. "It clearly states what you can appeal and her conversation with the judge was about issues you are not allowed to inquire about."

He did not say when was being asked about, but did say, "It was a non-appealable, game-played judgment. It would be similar to a called ball or strike."

"The Shawnee Mission Northwest Cougars gymnasts showed their strength, their pride and their confidence. They were the team to beat," Cipollini told The Kansas City Star. "People in the stands stood and watched.

"We were the strongest team and had the highest score with 103.9 points, but, because of a ruling that has never been enforced in 30 years; we got a 102.9 and were third place."

Nice apology?

"Look up and not down; look forward and not back; look out and not in; and lend a hand." - E. E. Hale

"I was used to people just stopping by or knocking on the door every now and then," said Blevins, a senior defensive lineman for South Pittsburg High School in Tennessee, to Stephen Hargis, a reporter with the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

"But there was something different about the guy waiting outside the door this time. I knew it wasn't one of the drug dealers that would come by sometimes looking for my mom."

Rance Castle was at the door, introduced himself and simply said, "Get your things if you want to come live with me."

"Nobody really knows this, but for a couple of weeks last year I would wait for everybody else to go home and then I would go up into the press box and sleep there," Blevins said. "I was ashamed, but I had no other place to go. I didn't want to go back to the hotel and see some of the things my mom was doing, so I would just do homework or walk the track to pass the time.

"Then I would climb the steps, curl up on the table in the press box and, I'll admit, there were a lot of nights I would just lay there and cry."

"It was my choice," Blevins said. "I knew it would be better for me, but the toughest thing I've ever had to do was see my mom cry and have to look at her and tell her I love her, but I had to go.

"When I got in the car to leave, I kept asking myself if this was a dream. I used to pray every single night for God to help get me out of the situation I was in. I couldn't believe it was actually happening. I would have been on the streets, in jail or dead by now if that prayer hadn't been answered."

Castle and his wife set simple rules - no drugs, no lying and Blevins had to be home and studying by 9:30 on school nights.

"When I heard about his situation I didn't hesitate," Castle said. "I knew he needed some help and I just felt like I could do it. He's never given us a single minute's problem since he came to live with us, and we'd feel lost without Jonathan now.

"I've got four other grandsons besides him, and he's every bit as much a part of our family as any of them."

"The difference was like night and day," South Pittsburg football coach Vic Grider said. "All that baggage he had been carrying was gone. He became a better student and a better teammate to the point that he's a leader for us now.

"Ninety-nine percent of his problem was his anger over the situation he was in, and the sad thing is none of us really knew just how bad he really had it."

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at mmathison@heraldstaronline.com)

 
 

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