Congrats to Arnold, Gray

Published 12:21 am Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Congratulations to Cathedral Coach Peter Arnold and senior player Juan Gray for their being selected by The Natchez Democrat as Coach of the Year and Player of the Year for the Metro Area. The pair helped lead the Greenies to the South State Tournament and helped the team set a Cathedral record for wins. Arnold was an all around good athlete during his high school days at Cathedral. He was an outstanding end on the football team and a sharp shooting forward for the Green Wave basketball team. He was a stellar member of the golf team, which I modestly admit to having coached at that time.

The golf team did win several dual matches, playing many times at Duncan Park, and traveling to Fernwood in McComb, Caldwell Parish, La, and to Co-Lin (now Wolf Hollow).

I was only mildly disappointed that Memphis could not hold on to win the NCAA Basketball Tournament. A team that misses that many free throws at the end of a game does not deserve to be champions.

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And, to cap it off, when Kansas brought the ball in during its last possession, all Memphis had to do was foul and they could have avoided Kansas’ three-point goal. The game would likely have ended with Memphis still holding a one-point lead.

As I am writing this week’s column, the Masters Golf Tournament is in the final round. I was disappointed that Phil Mickelson played himself out of contention Saturday, with a couple of bogies followed by the awful double-bogie on the 16th hole. I had hoped he would make a run for his third green jacket. All of the pundits seem to be counting Tiger Woods out of it. He is six shots out as the final round begins, but in my opinion, don’t count him out.

There are many who think the advent of youth baseball years ago sounded the death knell for minor league professional baseball, and they may well be right. The shrinking number of minor league baseball teams is only a fraction of those in the 1950s, but I think there has been a benefit to that. First, those youngsters who do choose a professional baseball career out of high school or college are better prepared fundamentally than those in the old days who only played sand lot baseball. Secondly, by remaining in high school to graduate and even go on to college, the boys better prepare themselves for life after baseball.

Last weekend three youngsters in Madison County were killed in a tragic auto accident. Two of those boys were teammates on the Canton Academy baseball team, and the third youngster was a student at Madison Central High School. He had played youth sports with the other two boys, and all had many friends throughout the area. The entire Madison Central baseball team attended the visitations and most attended the funerals. The baseball team from one of Canton Academy’s hottest rivals attended one of the funerals in their baseball uniforms.

Don’t ever tell me youth sports can’t foster sportsmanship. In Natchez, even more so than in a large metropolitan area, most of the kids on the local high school teams have played youth sports with or against each other for many years. The rivalries will always be there but there does not seem to be the bitterness often seen in other parts of the country.

And, That’s Official

Al Graning can be reached by e-mail at