Friday, December 30, 2011

Catching up with Versailles alum Justine Raterman...

The Raterman family

Fish Report recently chatted with Versailles alum and University of Dayton senior basketball player Justine Raterman! Justine is having an outstanding career with the Flyers and was honored back in October by being named to the Wooden Award Preseason Top 30, which is college basketball's most prestigious honor! We asked Justine about her college career, as well as her playing days at Versailles. Check out what she had to say!

F.R. Thanks for joining us on Fish Report Justine! Wow, you're halfway through your senior year! How does this year compare to your first three at Dayton?
J.R. This being my final year at Dayton I am really trying to enjoy moment. Whether it be traveling, playing, or spend time with my teammates, I recognize that this is my last couple months to be a part of something this special. On the court, I have grown every year as a leader and now being a senior I take that role with even more responsibilty. I am working hard to make this the best year of my basketball career.

F.R. What are your plans for life after basketball?
J.R. Basketball has always been a huge part of my life and it always will be. I hope to continue to playing after I graduate from UD and kind of go where the wind takes me. As for a career, I am interesting in coaching, using my math degree, or working in academics at a collegiate level. I am obviously not sure what I want to do yet, but I just hope to find something I love where I am happy and can help others as well.

F.R. Does your older sister Jacki, the coach of the Versailles Lady Tigers basketball team, ever try to tell you what you're doing wrong on the basketball court?
J.R. This question makes me laugh. Anyone that knows my family knows that we are a family full of coaches. I definitly have plenty of people to let me know what I need to improve on after every game. Some might think this would drive me nuts, but I love it. Even those days when I really don't want to hear it, I know that they come from a good place and I remember how blessed I am to have them in my life. Their support means the world to me.

F.R. Speaking of Versailles, take us back to your high school playing days and tell us one of your favorite memories with the Tigers.
J.R. High school basketball was jam-packed full of amazing memories for me. As many would probably guess, one of my favorite memories was winning state my senior year. It is something I will never forget. However, some of the most important memories are the random times I got to spend with teammates. Whether we were playing games that made us laugh until we were crying our eyes out, entertaining ourselves while being trapped in the blizzard of '08, or getting yelled at by Coach for not wearing kneepads, those girls made my high school experience unforgetable and I cannot thank them enough!

F.R. Final question. Can you give the younger basketball players back home some advice on what it takes to succeed and maybe play college basketball someday?
J.R. College basketball is a lot of hard work, and as most have probably heard, that hard work starts early. Many people have probably told young basketball players that they have to put the extra work in during the summer or off season and after practice and that they have to work harder than everyone else and make sacrifices. This is 100% true. One thing I have learned through the years though is to always remember to have fun. Basketball is supposed to be enjoyable; it is a game! So through all of your hard work and extra workouts, remember why you play and why you love the game. Everything will fall into place after that!

Great stuff Justine! Good luck the rest of this season and Go Flyers!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011 Year in Review...

At Fish Report we love history.  We post stories about history, we archive pictures and video to look back on history, and we hope that the interesting interviews we do on this blog will be preserved for future generations to read about.  Looking back on the year 2011, we picked our five favorite events that were reported on by us and we feel were a part of local history...

#5 - Ft. Loramie opens a new softball field

Ft. Loramie opened a new softball field in March with a game against Coldwater.  The Redskin's Denise Marchal became a part of history throwing the first pitch and teammate Macy Turner went in the record books for hitting the first home run.  Ft. Loramie won their inaugural game at the new diamond that will be used for generations to come.

#4 - The DeMange Band ends a 52 year run

For over a half century, parents and children in Shelby, Auglaize, Darke and Mercer counties danced to the music of the DeMange Band.  Fourteen siblings played in the band at one time or another starting in 1959.  Now ages 48 to 70, the group decided to play their final show at a Minster Civic Association dance in April.

#3 - Two MAC pitchers meet in an MLB series

In June, two high school alums from the Midwest Athletic Conference played in a Major League Baseball series against one another.  Marion Local alum and San Diego Padres pitcher Cory Luebke hosted the Washington Nationals and their pitcher Versailles alum Craig Stammen.  Both pitched in relief appearances on different nights and combined for 2.1 innings allowing 0 runs.  It was the only time they would meet all season.

#2 - Russia wins their first state titles in 40 years

Russia celebrated the 40th anniversary of their 1971 state baseball championship at a ceremony during the basketball season early in the year.  It was the only state championship of any kind that Russia had ever won.  Then in June, Russia senior Luke Pohlman captured the individual D-III state track championship in the 1600 meter run.  Classmate Katie Borchers followed up shortly afterward with another individual state title of her own in the 800 meter run.

#1 - Fish Report goes live

Perhaps the first live show to ever be broadcast in Russia debuted in November with the airing of Fish Report LIVE!  Hosts Craig Fiessinger and Ken Francis talked about local high school sports to a live internet audience of 13 people.  Reruns of the pilot episode were eventually watched by over 600 viewers.  Maybe we're a little biased, but it was arguably a moment for the record books.

So long 2011.  It's been a great year for history.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Meeting one of Ohio's best runners...

Meghan Vogel (left) and the Big Orange

It's no secret that I'm a fan of high school cross country.  I've blogged about it on these pages before and I imagine some of the Fish Report readers get enough of the 'over-coverage' I give it on the website during the fall season.  I've officially moved on to high school basketball now and I'm enjoying the start of an exciting season for both the boys and the girls.  However, this past weekend presented me the chance to blog about one more cross country story before 2011 is over.

Thanks to my neighbor (and Fish Report LIVE! co-host) I had the opportunity on Saturday to meet one of next years top returning D-III girls runners in the state of Ohio.  West Liberty-Salem junior standout Meghan Vogel was in Russia with her parents to visit Russia junior standout Lauren Francis and her parents.  Meghan individually finished 6th at the state meet a little over a month ago and led her junior class dominated team to a 3rd place finish overall.  Meghan's mother, Ann, is the coach of the Big Orange and her father, Jason, is her biggest fan.  The trio came to Russia for the first time Saturday night with some map guidance from their GPS.  Once they found our village, they attended the Russia-Minster boys basketball game and Meghan had the good fortune of sitting in the Raiders rowdy student section.  During halftime of the varsity game I was walking by the student section when I recognized Meghan and she appeared to recognize me as well.  I shook Meghan's hand and asked her if she knew who I was.  She said, "you're the guy from Fish Report, right?"  I had to smile as I'm not sure I've ever been identified that way.  I told Meghan I would catch up with her and her parents after the game and I was looking forward it.

Later that evening, after the Raiders victory, I did catch up with the Vogel's and we talked about everything from running to work to food to religion.  Meghan, Ann and Jason have a lot in common with us Russia folks, including a freshman brother and son that attends the University of Dayton.  I would also like to add that Jason is a pretty fair ping pong player, as I witnessed him giving quite a game to a Russia basketball player that is pretty good himself.  I did my personal best to convince the Vogel's how well they would fit into our community, particularly our cross country program, but I understand they have plans of their own back in West Liberty.  Oh well, I tried.  It was a real pleasure spending time with them and of course talking running.  My neighbor and I even managed to invite ourselves to West Liberty next summer to run the hills around Ohio Caverns with Meghan, Lauren and anyone willing.  I'm not suggesting we can keep pace with a couple of the best runners in Ohio, but perhaps we can say we did for a few minutes.

So, my blogging about cross country in 2011 has finally come to an end and I'm thrilled I was able to get one more post in before the year is over.  In 2012 you can bet Fish Report will 'over-cover' high school cross country again.  We'll follow the Russia Raiders and all our favorite area teams...and yes, that now includes the Big Orange from West Liberty-Salem!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday...

I finally did it.  I finally rose up before dawn, 4:10am to be exact, and went shopping on my first Black Friday.  It wasn't planned.  For whatever reason my body woke me up at that time and I felt the urge to join in the hysteria I've always heard so much about.  The day before I quickly thumbed through a few of the sales flyers that were packed in the back of my newspaper and a couple of items caught my attention.  My favorite running shoes were on sale and a few electronics I've heard my kids talking about also seemed to be reasonably priced.  Before I headed out into the dark I nudged my wife who was asleep and asked her if she wanted to go too.  She said no, she would rather sleep.

I didn't travel far, Russia to Piqua was it.  Before I even got to my destination I got a text from my wife saying that now she was awake and wished she would have joined me.  Those running shoes were at the top of my list.  I seem to go through a pair about every six months and it was about that time again.  I arrived at MC Sports around 5:10am for a 5:30am opening, anticipating a long line.  When I pulled in my parking spot they were already letting people in and there were about 20 shoppers total.  I went straight back to the shoe department, grabbed my shoes, paid and left.  Might have been in the store 10 minutes.  Next stop was the mall...let's get ready to rumbleeeeeeee!  I walked into Sears, grabbed two electronic items for my kids (I can't tell you what the items were since it's Christmas presents!), paid and left.  Wow, that was easy.  I was already done and it was only 6:00am.  Since it wasn't even daylight yet and I'd crossed everything off my list, I decided to stop in at Home Depot just to check out the deals.  Thirty minutes later I was heading for home, back before 7:00am.

Granted, my wife's Christmas list is much, much longer and I'm positive if she would have been along we would have had to stop for lunch at some time.  However, it was my first Black Friday and the experience was great.  I didn't have to wrestle with any shoppers and I have a new pair of running kicks!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fish Report LIVE!...

Yogi Berra said it best, "when you don't know where you're going, you might wind up someplace else."  That kind of describes what happened recently when I thought my Fish Report website was legit enough to obtain some media credentials to the high school state cross country championships a couple Saturdays ago.  I wanted to do live streaming audio coverage of the race for all the local folks back home that couldn't make the trip and I even had a few personal requests to do so.  So I emailed in the media credential application as required and received a reply the following day that read, "Our analysis of your website is that is a personal blog, not a bona fide media website.  Therefore, we will not be able to give you a media credential for the cross country state championships."  I replied back asking what is required to become a bona fide media website?  I received another reply that read, "A bona fide media website is one that doesn't contain personal content or photos and essentially has articles and coverage like a newspaper."  So, for the 900+ daily Fish Report visitors out there, please understand we're not bona fide.

I was a little frustrated over the whole situation.  After all, I still wanted to cover the race, but I wasn't allowed inside the fence to do so.  That's when I suggested to my neighbor, a fellow cross country fan, that we do a state cross country championship preview show and stream it live on my new Fish Report LIVE! page.  I told him I would set up a studio in my basement and it would be just like ESPN.  He liked the idea and we decided to air our first show the Thursday night before the state meet.  Rigging up the set was a little challenging with wires going everywhere for internet, a webcam, and some lighting. We also had a lot of notes to help us out.  Once the show started however, it was 28 minutes of fun.  After we finished we both agreed, this is something we'll do again.

I'll admit, it's not ESPN, but the 13 people that tuned in that night and commented to us afterward all seemed to enjoy it.  We plan on talking about a variety of sports and with basketball season coming up you can bet we'll be talking hoops for a few months.  We would also love to have any special guests that care to share their expertise or opinions on the show; just email me and let me know what you're thinking.  I'm a big Twitter fan and we hope to eventually be able to read live tweets during the show.  I'm also using Twitter to send out messages while we're broadcasting, so if you have a Twitter account you can follow me at:  To go back to the quote I started this blog post with, Yogi was right...I wasn't sure where I was going and now I'm someplace else.  I'll give you one more Yogi quote that explains where we're at, "You can observe a lot by just watching."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

An annual tradition...

It's the most wonderful time of the year...  No, I'm not ready for Christmas yet.  I'm talking about the cool fall air and enjoying my annual trip to Troy this Saturday to watch the OHSAA D-III Southwest Regional Cross Country Meet.  I've probably attended this event 14 out of the last 15 years.  That means this Saturday will make 15 of 16.  For me, I can't think of another regional tournament sporting event I look forward to more.  I'll take it over football, basketball and baseball.  This puts me in the minority I imagine, but allow me to explain my reasons:

For starters, the regional cross country meet in Troy is traditionally, without a doubt, the best of the four regionals in Ohio.  I won't waste time arguing which schools are better than others, but I will point out that the Minster girls program holds the state cross country championship record with nine titles, including last years.  Guess which regional they're running in this weekend?  That's a rhetorical question of course.  The biggest reason I get a kick out of this event is what's on the line for all these that live on my street, kids whose parents I went to school with, and kids that enjoy the same sport I do.  The boys race will have 16 teams plus 21 individual qualifiers for a total of 133 kids from 31 schools.  The girls race will have 16 teams plus 18 individual qualifiers for a total of 130 runners from 31 schools.  Every kid realizes what's on the line and you can bet every kid will be giving absolutely everything they've got trying to make it to the State Meet the following week.  The top four teams and those individuals that finish in the top 16 advance to Hebron. It's truly inspirational to watch so many working so hard.  The Troy race also has a reputation for showcasing eventual state champions. Last year both the girls state champ, Tammy Berger from Versailles, and the boys state champ, Colin Cotton from Country Day, also won in Troy.  By the way, Tammy is back again this Saturday to run her last Troy regional.  I'll personally be pulling for the Russia Raiders girls and boys teams to make a return trip to the State Meet after both making it last year.  It's a remarkable spectacle with the best talent in the state and that's why I keep coming back every year.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Notre Dame experience...

Exactly one week after being on The Ohio State University campus for a Buckeyes tailgate and football game, I journeyed up to South Bend, Indiana last Saturday with a group of family for a Notre Dame tailgate and football game.  After two consecutive weeks of college football I'm starting to understand what the boys on ESPN's College Game Day feel like now!  This was my first trip ever to an Irish football game, so I was looking forward to the experience.

We departed Russia, Ohio at 6:30am.  That time is typically when I leave for my Saturday morning run, so being wide awake when the trip started was no problem.  Kick off was scheduled for 3:30pm, which was explained to me later is the normal starting time for Notre Dame games because of their TV agreement with NBC.  The 3+ hour drive from Russia, including a coffee stop at the Villa Nova in St. Mary's, wasn't bad with a van full of people to talk to.  Arriving in the city of South Bend didn't give me any indication that it's home to one of the most prestigious schools in America.  Heading to our parking spot was surprisingly easy, although we did arrive plenty early which probably helped.  From our parking spot in the sea of tailgate parties just getting started, I couldn't help but notice Notre Dame Stadium and the Joyce Center basketball arena, as they were the two biggest buildings in sight.  There was plenty of time to tailgate, so before we even set up we were scheduled to take a tour of campus.  Fortunately for us, the guy that spearheaded the whole trip and drove us to the game was also our tour guide.  It also helps that he's the father of a current Notre Dame student and has given this tour several times before.  Walking into campus was awesome.  I've never considered myself a Notre Dame sports fan, but for a Midwest guy that grew up aware of the history and tradition, it was cool to finally see everything I'd heard about.  Touchdown Jesus, the Golden Dome, Sacred Heart Basilica, the Grotto.  The beautiful fall day made everything picturesque and almost made the football game we were about to see seem secondary.  As we ended our campus tour and walked back to start our tailgate party, we passed the famous Notre Dame restaurant/pub called Legends, which seemed to be especially crowded on game day.  The tailgate parties at Notre Dame are like most other college campuses, the smell of brats and burgers filled the air along with some footballs getting tossed across the parking lot.  There was a particularly cool moment when the Irish football team was escorted right by us on some big tour buses.  You couldn't see the players, but I assume they were in there.  It was time to pack up our camp and head to the game.

Our seats were in section 133, which is an upper level, corner endzone view.  It was the perfect seat for watching what seemed like a couple hundred Notre Dame students do push-ups after every Notre Dame touchdown over Air Force.  Here are some other observations from the game:  The stealth bomber that flew overhead at the conclusion of the national anthem was the best flyover I've ever seen in person.  I love how there is very little sideline room on the field, making it feel like the crowd is right there in the action.  There were only two small scoreboards on each end of the stadium with no video screens or TV's for replays, bummer.  The Notre Dame band is really good, so good they were presented with the Sudler Award that day which is considered the Heisman trophy for college bands.  Finally, the stadium was unquestionably the easiest to navigate of any stadium I've ever been in.  It has two levels and it's round, simple as that.

The Notre Dame experience is definitely worth adding to your bucket list.  If possible, pick a nice fall day and allow yourself enough time to tour the campus!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Buckeye's experience...

I traveled to Columbus this past weekend for the Ohio State - Michigan State football game and brought along with me my wife, 11-year old daughter and 7-year old son.  For my son this was his second regular season Buckeyes game in the past two years and for my daughter her first.  The game resulted in 10-7 loss and Ohio State didn't play particularly well on offense.  There was a somber mood at Ohio Stadium and I actually heard a media expert later that day predicting the Buckeyes first losing season since 1988.  When I asked my kids if they had a good time, I was a little surprised when they both smiled wide and said yes.  I'm not positive they knew what the final score was and I don't think they really cared.  In their eyes it seemed to be a great day.  Their game day experience started with hot dogs and pop at a tailgate party of an old high school friend of mine.  When game time came they enjoyed cheering the team as they rushed onto the field and watching the huge American flag raised for the national anthem by some servicemen.  During the game they had fun trying to find where Brutus Buckeye was at in the stadium, doing the wave and chanting O-H-I-O with the crowd.  They were also especially thrilled when the OSU band did Script Ohio and made a special appearance in our section 12B to get the crowd fired up.  When the score was 10-0 and the game seemed to be out of reach for the Buckeyes midway in the 4th quarter, I suggested we head for the exits.  My son got this panicked look on his face and quickly asked why?  I realized at that time what a memorable moment he was having and agreed to stick around for another series of plays.  It was obvious he didn't care about the score, he just didn't want his Buckeye's experience to end.  As I drove the family home that night I realized what a good time I had also. I'm hopeful there will come a day when my kids start bringing me to games, whether it's at Ohio State or somewhere else.  And I'm positive when they get frustrated with their team and suggest we leave a little early I'm going to ask them the same question they asked me, why?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The (not so) BIG 4-0...

40th birthday encouragement

I hit a lifetime milestone recently and turned the BIG 4-0 back on September 13th.  You know, it's the age when you're supposedly over-the-hill, your body starts hurting more, you forget things more often, and you're just generally washed up from doing things younger people can do.  I've been warned about this age for as long as I can remember.  Heck, they sell black balloons and t-shirts just for the occasion, and I can't think of any other age that's more notorious.  Maybe turning 100?  But now that I've turned 40 I'm left wondering what all the fuss was about?  Does my body hurt more?  Not really.  I remember a time about 15 years ago when I went through a period with some lower back pain, probably the worse I've ever felt.  I lost 30 pounds and it went away.  Do I forget things more often?  Not really.  I could never remember anything anyway.  My wife claims I just remember what I want to.  Well duh, who remembers what they don't want to!  Am I washed up from doing things younger people can do?  Not really.  I can still beat some some younger folks when it comes to running, playing softball, and dancing like a fool.  So, after a few weeks of being 40 and taking time to reflect on this new era, I guess I feel pretty good about life.  There are a couple quotes I like that seem to make perfect sense now:

"Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."
"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because he stop playing"

As a matter of fact I feel a little smarter after turning 40.  Because now I realize turning 50 might be even better yet!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ft. Loramie football stadium upgrades...

I had the opportunity to attend Ft. Loramie's varsity football home opener last Friday against New Bremen.  It was my first chance to see the new updates to the stadium that I had read about in the newspaper around a month ago.  I've been in the Redskins stadium before, most recently for a track meet this past spring, so I had a pretty good memory of what it looked like before the updates.  My dad was with me for the game and explained a few interesting things I'll get to later.  After we parked my car, we walked towards the stadium from the south parking lot by the baseball diamond, so the first thing I noticed was an area with engraved brick pavers.  It's a nice feature that recognizes the support of so many in the Ft. Loramie community.  As we approached the front of the stadium the coolest upgrade had to be the new entrance.  Wow!  Ticket windows, a beautiful gate, and an awesome Ft. Loramie football sign attached to a couple of lighted brick columns (click on picture above).  As we walked to our seats on the 50-yard line I noticed the new press box located above the home fans.  It's impressive enough that three different media outlets were using it to cover the game.  After we sat down in our seats I couldn't help but notice across the field at the new visitor bleachers that replaced the small set of bleachers that were there last spring.  It's nice that the home fans aren't the only ones that benefited from the upgrades.  I commented to Dad how nice everything looked.  He explained that all the upgrades were done with private donations and with volunteer work.  He even stated that he was part of a service club that volunteered their time to paint the lines on the field that Thursday night before the game.  As I watched the game I also noticed two huge play clocks behind both end zones that made it easy for each team to see how much time time was left.  Dad explained those were newly donated as well.  I never grew up with high school football and I'm pretty positive my children never will, but I have an appreciation for it after Friday night's game.  The upgrades prove there's a lot of pride in the community and it was great to witness it from a visitor's perspective.  Nice job Redskins.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Chicago Cubs experience...

Previous to this past weekend, the last time I attended a Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field was 1996.  Back then I was in town for their series with the Cincinnati Reds and I went to both Friday & Saturday's games with my wife and three other friends.  That weekend I had two different experiences because on Friday we were seated in the grandstands and on Saturday our view was from the bleachers.  Two completely different perspectives.  The folks in the grandstands seemed more interested in the game, while the people in the bleachers were more interested in the party.  I'll never forget looking at my bleachers ticket and finding the row and seat number where we were suppose to sit.  When I told a lady she was in my seat, she smiled and said just to sit anywhere and have fun.  Fun we had!  We made friends with complete strangers, joined them in cheering on Sammy Sosa everytime he ran out to centerfield, and then turned around after each inning and partied with the Cubs fans.  I went home that weekend saying the Chicago Cubs are the most fun team in America.

It took me 15 years to return.  This past weekend I was in town for a bachelor party with 20 other guys and part of our weekend was attending the Cubs Saturday afternoon game against the St. Louis Cardinals, their biggest rival.  This time our seats would be from a rooftop deck in right field.  Before the game I remembered my trip in 1996 and wondered if I would still enjoy the Cubs experience, especially from a rooftop deck where I would be so far away from the action.  I wasn't disappointed and would like to note that this game was better than my first two put together!  Any baseball fan or non-fan could enjoy one of these rooftops.  Not only can you watch the game from a rooftop stadium seat in the Chicago sunshine, you can also watch the action through a huge window from an air conditioned lounge on the second floor.  Here are some other benefits: all you can eat food, all you can drink beverages, TV's with live broadcasts everywhere, radio broadcast throughout the building, and the friendliest bunch of strangers you'll ever meet.  I'm going to guess that 33% of the fans on the rooftop that day were Cubs fans and the other 67% were Cards fans, Reds fans, Brewers fans, Yankees fans, etc.  Some were there to watch the game, but it seemed like most were there for the party.  Moral of the story: The Chicago Cubs are the most fun team in America.    

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Catching up with Ft. Loramie alum Jared Hoying...

Fish Report recently caught up with 2007 Ft. Loramie alum and professional baseball player Jared Hoying! After helping the Redskins win the 2007 state baseball championship, Jared played college baseball for the next three years at the University of Toledo. In June of 2010 he was drafted in the 10th round of the Major League Baseball Draft by the Texas Rangers. Jared played rookie ball in Spokane, Washington and ended the season being named the Northwest League MVP! He started the 2011 season playing for the Rangers Class A team in Myrtle Beach, SC. Fish Report got a chance to ask Jared a few questions and here's what he had to say:

F.R. Thanks for talking with us Jared! So give us a report, how has the season been going for you and the Pelicans?
J.H. Hey Fish Report not a problem at all, this actually gives me something to do in my hotel room in Frederick, Maryland. The season is going good I have had some ups and downs throughout, but I am learning a heck of a lot. I injured my shoulder the first game of the season stealing second and that kind of got me off track with my throwing and swing. Fortunately I started off good this second half and am feeling 100% again, so I just hope to build off that and keep learning and getting better!

F.R. Myrtle Beach sounds like a popular destination for family and friends. Has anyone come down from home to watch you play?
J.H. There have actually been quite a few people from Ft. Loramie that have come down and watched a few games. It just works out good because Myrtle Beach is already a popular place to be and it just so happens that I am playing ball down here too. I usually get the home town folks some tickets and get to talk a little bit after the games to catch up on whats all happening at home. After being around the same guys all day, every day it's nice to see some familiar faces in the crowd.

F.R. Speaking of back home, can you give us a quick update on your brother Justin? How did his first season of college ball go at Capital University and do you two stay in touch much?
J.H. Justin had a very successful season at Capital and it was fun to keep track of him while I was on the road. For only being a freshman he became their number 1 starter for most of the year. Not being heavily recruited out of high school it was fun to see him grow and mature as a ball player. We still stay in touch and usually talk a few times a week and text a bunch to see how our baseball games are going. But he has a girlfriend now so I think his time on the phone went to someone else! Haha he will get me for that one later! It's nice that he is still around home a bit so he can scout for deer and set out our trail cameras and deer stands for hunting season since I'm not around to do it.

F.R. You and Justin combined to appear in three state tournaments for Ft. Loramie and win two championships. How does that 2007 title rank for you after all your college and professional experience?
J.H. To this day that is still my favorite moment while playing baseball. Having played baseball with the same friends since little league and growing up with each other it was an amazing feeling to go out on top with those guys. Thoses memories will never be forgotten! To this day whenever I see some of the guys from Minster I always have to remind them about the regional semi-final game back in 2007! Cities change and teammates change, but there is nothing like winning with your friends that you have been with since t-ball.

F.R. That's pretty special stuff Jared. Fish Report watched some Ft. Loramie 10-year old baseball players win the Raider Classic tournament in Russia earlier this summer. What kind of stuff can 10-years old kids work on to become better players?
J.H. Good day for the Loramie boys, congratulations to those guys! The only advice I have is to keep playing ball and have fun while playing it! Because if it's not fun, baseball is a tough tough game to play because your gonna fail 70% of the time! Grab dad off the couch and just play catch and have him throw balls to you in the backyard, or grab a group of friends and play wiffle ball or a pick up game at the park. Baseball is a game of repetition so just keep playing hard and have fun!

Great advice Jared! Thanks for talking with Fish Report good luck the rest of the season!

Friday, August 5, 2011

So Long Scioto Downs...

Yesterday the news broke that the OHSAA Board of Directors voted 9-0 to change the site of this year's high school state cross country meet from Scioto Downs to National Trail Raceway, which is 15 miles east of Columbus. The move was the result of electronic slot machines now being allowed at the track and OHSAA not wanting to have its state championship meet at a facility where gambling will be taking place.  After 26 years of hosting the state meet, I couldn't help but feel a little sad about the end of an era.  Here are a few of my favorite memories...

I attended the very first state championship meet at Scioto Downs in 1985 and was able to witness the Ft. Loramie girls team bring home the Class A runner-up trophy.  That race popularized girls cross country in Ft. Loramie and runners like Kim Schmiesing, sisters Shawn & Heather Hoelscher, Denise Barga, Stacie Hoehne, and Connie Berning were the first of a very long line of area athletes to run on the Scioto Downs course.  The following season the Minster girls were runner-up and during the 26 year span the Wildcats were either champions or runner-up an amazing 13 times.  One particular Minster star, Sunni Olding, won the D-III individual title in 2000, 2002, and 2003.  Another great memory for me is from the 2007 meet when the Versailles girls came in as underdogs, qualifying fourth at the regional meet behind Minster, Ft. Loramie, and powerful Seneca East.  Sisters Mary & Margaret Prakel, Taylor Huffman, Katie Mestemaker, Kristen Schulte, Mindy Henry, and Valerie Barga shocked Ohio and won the championship by one point over Gilmour Academy.  Lastly, my favorite personal memory was in 2010 watching our Russia Raiders, both the boys and girls team, compete together.  I didn't know it at the time, but Russia was just one of only three schools to have both their boys and girls run the last state meet at Scioto Downs, which is kind of cool.

The new course at National Trail Raceway is suppose to be fan friendly, something critics of Scioto Downs say the old course lacked.  Apparently the new venue will let fans in some areas of the stands see everything but a 600 meter section of the race.  Last year's state meet drew 12,000 fans, making it the largest high school or college cross country meet in the nation.  Hopefully the new place can keep those numbers up.  Finally, I'd like to note that one of the best things I've always heard runners share about Scioto Downs was their memory of the roar of the crowd from the grandstands (click on picture above).  I hope that's something that's not lost this year.  I'll miss the old course, probably the history more than anything.  So long Scioto Downs.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sweet sounds of summer...

Yes, there are good things in life for free.  I'm reminded of that the few Thursday nights this summer I've made it over to Cruizer's Bar & Grill in Russia and heard local musicians entertaining on the outdoor patio.  There's no cost to listen and the music I've heard is really, really good.  A couple Thursdays ago I listened to Maria Stein native Steve Rosenbeck, who I consider kind of a local legend since he's played in some extremely popular bands over the years and even played a couple gigs in Nashville.  Steve didn't bring the typical band sound to Cruizer's, it was just him and an acoustic guitar playing easy listening classics and modern hits.  It was the perfect sound for a summer night.  Steve was so good the large crowd actually called him back on stage for an encore.  He reciprocated the love by pulling former singer Jim McGowan of Ft. Loramie from the crowd to sing 'The Breakup Song' (see picture above) and then Marie Daugherty of Russia was brought up to join Steve in singing 'Amie'.  Pretty cool for a Thursday night!

And Cruizer's has been doing this every Thursday night with different musicians since the beginning of June.  Another really good performer on the schedule is singer/songwriter Mark Cantwil of Russia.  Mark even just recorded a solo album which is now getting play on internet radio.  He entertains the crowd with some of his original material and a lot of familiar favorites.  Fittingly, Mark is the last scheduled performer on Cruizer's summer concert series, playing on August 25th.  Also appropriate is the guy playing the week guessed it, Steve Rosenbeck again.

Finally, if you like listening to young talent, also on the schedule July 28th is the group Almost Brothers.  I've heard them both as a duo and trio and can tell you they're awesome.  I'm also excited about the young guys from Empty Bottle coming to Cruizer's for the first time on August 11th, which is a scaled down version of the band Empty Tank.  There are many other entertainers on the Cruizer's schedule as well, and variety is a good thing.  The fact that's it's free is even better.

To see the full schedule of performers, click here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Country Concert has it figured out...

Traffic out of Kentucky Speedway (click for larger view)

The folks at Country Concert should be proud of themselves this past weekend.  While they were successfully hosting thousands of country music fans in the little town of Newport, OH, about 150 miles down the road Kentucky Speedway was having a nightmare trying to host thousands of NASCAR fans in the little town of Sparta, KY.  If you haven't heard the story out of Sparta yet, a bunch of those racing fans never made it to the event on account of traffic and parking, and for those that made it there, getting out wasn't any fun either (see picture above).  For a link to the story click here.  Sparta's population is about 230 people, which is probably pretty similar to Newport.  Coordinating the logistics of Country Concert and Kentucky Speedway for these little towns has to be a major task, probably more than I realize.  I'll give a first hand account of Country Concert having attended it personally this past weekend and tell you traffic wasn't an issue coming or going.  I also spoke to two parking attendants who were remarkably helpful and polite.  Judging from the Twitter comments I read out of Sparta Saturday night, there wasn't much polite to say about their mayhem.  And speaking of Twitter, while I was reading those Twitter comments a message popped up that Susie Brown of the JaneDear girls, one of the musicians at Country Concert, was now following my Twitter account.  Well done Country Concert!

Friday, July 8, 2011

An interview with Sidney author Terry Pellman...

Local author Terry Pellman of Sidney, Ohio just released his new book Averton and Fish Report got a preview! Check out our interview with Terry about the book and some answers to some other questions:

F.R.  Thanks for chatting with us Terry! So tell us, what's the new book about?
T.P.  Thanks. Averton is the story of a small Ohio city being used as the staging ground for an attempt to break the United States apart and form a heartland nation separate from the coasts. The extremist group responsible is an off-shoot of a paramilitary organization from the late 1960's. Through acts of terror, blackmail and deceit, the group is able to compromise the chief of police in the town of Averton.

F.R.  Wow, sounds interesting! Are you going to give away the ending for our Fish Report readers?
T.P.  No, but I encourage readers to find their way there. One hint: I do not make regular use of happy endings. I prefer bittersweet endings, and I find that "regret" is the most interesting state of mind for fiction.

F.R.  Is this your first book and how long did it take to write from start to finish?
T.P.  This is my third book, but the first to be available as an e-book download from the publisher, in this case Authorhouse. This book was first written over the course of a year back in the 90's. I completely re-wrote it three years ago. The original draft took about a year of my spare time.

F.R.  What's your opinion on what it takes to be a best-selling author like a J.K. Rowling or Dan Brown?
T.P.  You have to have something that grabs the attention of an editor or agent. Then it has to land on the right desk at the right time.

F.R.  Last question. For any aspiring authors out there, any tips on publishing a successful book?
T.P.  Edit your work over and over, then go over it once more. Keep sending it out, and wish for criticism, rather than avoid it.

Great stuff Terry and thanks for taking the time with us!  To get your copy of Averton, click here!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Catching up with Miss Ohio Ellen Bryan...

Fish Report recently chatted with the newly crowned 2011 Miss Ohio Ellen Bryan!  Ellen is a 2007 graduate of Celina High School and a 2011 graduate of Ball State University.  She won the title on June 18th and will soon be representing Ohio in the Miss America competition in January!  Check out our interview with Ellen:

F.R.  Congrats on being named Miss Ohio Ellen!  We’re assuming life just got a little busier!  What’s a typical week like for Miss Ohio?
E.B.  Thank you very much!  The job of Miss Ohio involves a lot of traveling.  I just returned home after being in 4 states in 5 days.  And I'm currently packing my bags to leave tonight to be on the road for 4 days again. (Good thing I like to drive!).  So while a typical week involves a lot of time on the road, it also is about providing as many opportunities to meet as many people as possible.  I'll be making one or two appearances a day - most of them involving community service and giving back to others.

F.R.  We understand that the contestants all have a community service platform? What is yours?
E.B.  My personal platform is Promoting Lightning Awareness - When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors.  I chose to raise awareness for lightning safety because my sister was struck by lightning in June of 2000.  She was 17 at the time and going to be a senior in high school.  She lived through the incident, but is still in a wheelchair and unable to speak still today.  I just wanted to be Christina's voice, tell her story, and hope that it prevents someone else from being in her position.

F.R.  In 2009 our Russia Homecoming festival was lucky enough to have Miss Ohio Erica Gelhaus in attendance.  Do you know Erica and did you watch her when she was competing?
E.B.  I do know Erica!  We are both from Mercer County and my first year competing for Miss Ohio was the year she won.  We became quick friends.  I learned so much from watching her year as Miss Ohio and loved going to Las Vegas to see her compete for Miss America.  She is such a good friend and has been a big help as I get settled into the position of Miss Ohio!

F.R.  Erica also spent a couple hours signing autographs and talking with the crowd.  What do people need to do if they are interested in booking you?
E.B.  They can either call my booking manager at 419-522-6677 or email  They can also visit my website for more information and to follow my year as Miss Ohio!

F.R.  Finally, for all the young ladies out there that compete in local competitions or aspire to be a Miss Ohio some day, any advice?
E.B.  Be yourself.  I know it sounds cliche, but it's the absolute truth.  When I entered my first pageant as a sophomore in college, I felt so out of place.  It was something I never I thought I would do in my lifetime!  But once I let go of trying to be the perfect "pageant girl" and just focused on being the best Ellen Bryan I could be, that's the moment I became Miss Ohio.  As long as you're yourself on stage, you won't be disappointed in the results - win or lose.

Excellent advice Ellen! Thanks for chatting with Fish Report and have a great year!

Friday, June 17, 2011

West coast dining...

Our family just returned from one of those once in a lifetime family vacations across the country from Ohio to California.  The kids are all the perfect age and I'm not sure when and if we'll ever do it again.  Because of this I'm also not sure if we'll ever get another chance to enjoy two of the best meals we ate all trip.  We experienced some nice sit-down dinners, but at the end of our vacation I think we all agreed that the food we'll remember most were the burger and fries we had at In-N-Out Burger in Palm Desert and the frozen yogurt treat we ate at Tutti Frutti in Santa Monica.  The menu at In-N-Out is as follows: Hamburger, Cheeseburger, Double-Double, and French Fries.  That's it, not real complicated.  They stick to what they do best and I'll take it over McDonalds, Burger King, and Wendy's anyday.  Tutti Frutti was as fun as it gets for my ice cream loving family.  Grab your own bowl, fill it as high as you want with any choices of frozen yogurt flavors, and then dump all the delicious toppings on it you want.  You just pay for how heavy you make it.  Genius.  The sad part is neither of these fine establishments has a location in Ohio or anywhere close.  Maybe that's why we'll always remember it.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The best in track and field...

There's no arguing that 2011 was the best ever for area athletes in high school track and field.  There may be some arguing over the best high school girls track performers from the last five years.  Here are Fish Report's Top 10 from 2007-2011 and their accomplishments:

#10 Megan Fullenkamp - Ft. Loramie (2009)
2009 - 4 X 400 2nd, 4 X 200 6th, High Jump 9th
2008 - 4 X 400 5th
2007 - High Jump 6th
Note: Ran her relays with classmate Ally Puthoff who was our #12 pick.

#9 Maria Dahlinghaus - Minster (2011)
2011 - 4 X 400 1st, 800 5th, 4 X 800 6th
2010 - 4 X 800 5th, 4 X 400 8th
2008 - 4 X 800 4th
Note: Ran the 4 X 800 with 2010 alum Jessica Albers who was our #11 pick.

#8 Christine Borchers - Versailles (2009)
2009 - Shot 1st, Discus 5th
2008 - Shot 2nd, Discus 4th
2007 - Shot 9th, Discus 12th
Note: Got that elusive title in the shot after three years trying.

#7 Janel Olberding - Ft. Loramie (2011)
2011 - 4 X 400 2nd, 4 X 800 2nd, 800 10th
2010 - 4 X 200 3rd
2009 - 400 2nd, 4 X 400 2nd, 200 8th
Note: Qualified in six different events over her career.

#6 Ashley DeMange - Versailles (2011)
2011 - 4 X 200 2nd, 4 X 100 3rd, 200 8th
2010 - 4 X 200 2nd, 4 X 100 4th, 200 8th, Pole Vault 8th
2009 - 4 X 100 3rd
Note: The only girl on our list to compete and place in four events in one year.

#5 Katie Borchers - Russia (2011)
2011 - 800 1st, 4 X 400 7th
2010 - 800 7th
2009 - 800 6th
2008 - 1600 11th, 4 X 800 12th
Note: The only girl on our list to qualify all four years.

#4 Laura Gehret - Anna (2009)
2009 - High Jump1st
2008 - High Jump 1st, Long Jump 7th
2007 - High Jump 10th
Note: One of only three girls on our list to defend her state title.

#3 Mary Prakel - Versailles (2009)
2009 - 4 X 800 1st, 3200 3rd, 1600 4th
2008 - 3200 1st, 4 X 800 2nd, 1600 4th
2007 - 4 X 800 2nd, 1600 4th, 800 13th
Note: The only girl on our list to run three events for three consecutive years.

#2 Gretchen Walter - Lehman (2011)
2011 - 100 1st, 400 1st, 200 2nd 
2010 - 400 1st, 100 2nd, 200 2nd
2009 - 100 3rd, 200 3rd
Note: The only girl on our list to win two titles in the same year.

#1 Tammy Berger - Versailles (2012)
2011 - 3200 1st, 1600 2nd, 4 X 800 7th
2010 - 3200 1st, 4 X 800 2nd, 1600 3rd
2009 - 4 X 800 1st, 3200 2nd, 1600 3rd
Note: The only girl on our list to win titles three years in a row (and she's a junior).

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Thanks for the memories Shaq...

I was sad to hear the retirement announcement of Shaquille O'Neal this week.  Not that it wasn't time or that I didn't expect it, but in my opinion he will be missed as truly one of the 'good guys' in the NBA.  I'm six months older than Shaq and I remember being amazed by him when I was in college and he was playing at LSU.  As a matter of fact, I thought he was so good I picked the Tigers to make the NCAA Final Four all three years he played (of course they always lost in the first or second round!).  Shaq went on to the NBA and just seemed unstoppable for so many years.  I imagine it's similar to the way Kareem and Wilt looked to their generation.  More than his dominance though, outside of the game he was a larger-than-life, fun guy and never seemed to take things too seriously...and that's what appealed to me.  The NBA will live on with superstars like LeBron, Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose, but none of them are as enjoyable to watch as Shaq.  So thanks for the memories #34 and thanks for making basketball fun for the last 20 years.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Catching up with Russia alum Vania Brandt...

Fish Report recently caught up with 2005 Russia alum and new Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader Vania Brandt! Vania was just named a 2011 Ben-Gal this past Friday and we got a chance to ask her a few questions. Here's what she had to say:

F.R.  Thanks for the interview Vania and congrats on making the Ben-Gals team! What's the process for getting selected and how many ladies were you competing against?
V.B.  The process for becoming a Ben-Gal is quite a challenge. My first official clinic (practice) at the stadium was on April 2nd. Clinics were held every Saturday in April in order to prepare us for the tryout process. Ben-Gals from the previous year would teach these clinics and go over a myriad of things involving fitness, dance, diet, and cosmetology. All of this is intended to help us get a feel for the Ben-Gal style. There were about 100 girls who initially tried out for the team. The tryout process consists of three different cuts, including the finals. Throughout the process we were required to learn new dances on the fly and immediately perform them, as well as consistently display several different dance techniques. During the first and second set of tryouts, roughly 35 girls were cut.  The finals consisted of 64 girls competing for 32 spots on the team. Finals were open to the public and took place at The Syndicate in Newport, KY. Over 500 people showed up to support us! We had such a talented group of girls who tried out this year and I am so proud of every single one of them for what they accomplished. Not every girl can say that they made it to the finals to become an NFL cheerleader!

F.R.  How much time does being a Ben-Gal involve? Is it just working Sundays during the season?
V.B.  Being a Ben-Gal is very time consuming. We have practice every Tuesday and Thursday night from 7:00-9:30, and are also required to do a minimum of 10 community service appearances. Most people are not aware of this, but there are also stringent requirements to even be on the team. You have to have a full time job or be full time student, so it is a very professional organization. These women are amazing and I am so grateful to be a part of the team!

F.R.  Hopefully your family is all Bengals fans! Any chance they will be able to watch you up close on game days?
V.B.  Absolutely! Orange and Black run through my family’s blood! They are so supportive and will be cheering me on at the games! I get one free ticket for each home game and will be giving that to my boyfriend, Nathan. He’s a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, so hopefully this will convert him! Even though he’s not Bengals fan, he is so happy for me and has supported me every step of the way. He’s already bragging to his friends that he is dating a pro cheerleader!

F.R.  Are you able to give any credit to your cheerleading days at Russia for your success today?
V.B.  Definitely. Getting comfortable performing in front of large crowds at the Russia basketball games was an invaluable experience. I also did gymnastics for 6 years, which helped me grow as a performer.

F.R.  Final question, any advice for all the cheerleaders back home on what it takes to get to the next level?
V.B.  Determination. I tried out for the team last year, but didn’t make it. I took the advice from coaches and practiced consistently this whole past year. There were times where I felt like giving up because the process is so challenging and I was afraid of failure again. You just have to stay positive, keep your head held high and do everything you can to improve and show them that you can do it! Hard work and strong dedication will pay off! 

Thanks for talking with us Vania and good luck this season!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Catching up with Marion Local alum Cory Luebke...

Fish Report recently caught up with 2004 Marion Local alum and San Diego Padres pitcher Cory Luebke! After successful years in high school with the Flyers and three years at Ohio State, Cory was drafted after his junior year of college in 2007 by the Padres. The left-hander was called up to the bigs in September 2010 and has been with the club ever since. With the 2011 season underway, Fish Report got a chance to ask Cory a few questions and here's what he had to say:

F. R.  Thanks for talking with us Cory and congrats on getting your first win of the season on April 25th! San Diego is about as far away from Maria Stein, Ohio as possible. Do your family and friends get many opportunities to come to the ballpark and watch you play?
C.L.  No problem and thanks. Haha, yeah I don't think I could be much farther from Maria Stein. My family has always shown a ton of support and comes to see me as often as they can. My family has been to San Diego, Arizona, Chicago and Milwaukee. It is always good to have them in town. Anytime we head east they try to make plans to meet up.

F.R.  On Easter my 6-year old son opened up a pack of Topps baseball cards and was pumped to get a Cory Luebke rookie card! How does it feel to have your own baseball card and what's it worth if he needs to sell it?
C.L.  I do feel pretty lucky to have a baseball card. I know when I was little I always enjoyed collecting cards. Haha, lets just hope he does not need to sell it now. Don't think there is much of a market for them. For his excitement I'm guessing there are several kids opening packs wondering who the heck this is.

F.R.  During spring training Fish Report posted an article from a San Diego website about you winning a quarterback competition among your teammates. What was that all about and did you inform those guys you played in the best high school football conference in America?
C.L.  It was during the NFL combine we have a young talented pitcher we recieved in the Gonzalez trade who had signed a letter of intent to play at Tennessee. Buddy wanted to see if he was legit so a quarterback competition was arranged. It was a good time and involved about 12 or so targets along with targets on the back of moving golf carts. I think I sent the same article to Coach Goodwin and titled it "Can't believe you ever benched me." We got a good laugh out of it. I think I just had a good day.

F.R.  Speaking of high school, back when you played baseball for the Flyers, do you have any favorite memories or games you'll never forget?
C.L.  I don't know if there was anything specific about baseball, but I think just the overall enjoyment of being able to play all three sports with your friends throughout high school is something I won't forget.

F.R.  Finally, any advice you can offer for the young kids from our area that want to play in the big leagues some day?
C.L.  I believe what helped me out was never looking to far ahead. When in high school and college the big leagues can seem miles away. I just always tried to take things one step at a time and to be honest with myself. When in college I tried to work on what would get me drafted. In rookie ball I tried to improve on what would get me to A ball. In A ball I worked on what would get me to AA, and so forth. I think it was just a combination of knowing what your strengths are and working hard on your weaknesses. It is a process that never stops. I try to never become content and to always keep working on something that I know will make me better.

Great stuff Cory! Thanks for talking with Fish Report and good luck with the Padres!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Softball memories...

The softball team from Cruizer's Bar & Grill in Russia hosted a softball tournament this past weekend at Russia Park and I couldn't help but remember the end of my own playing days some 13 years ago.  Back then our team was sponsored by Mo's Place, which actually occupied the same building as Cruizer's does today.  Men's softball seemed to be a more popular sport in this area back then, although I'm told by current players it's still popular in the Mercer County area.  For me, it was almost all I wanted to do from about age 20 to 28.  Nothing was more fun than competing on the diamond against other local teams and then enjoying some camaraderie with a cold beverage in the bleachers afterward.  In our early years we'd play in 3-day tournaments on the weekend and then a league game during the week.  We'd travel on overnight trips to the state tournament and once we even played in an all-night tournament that lasted from sun down to sun up.  It was perfect us single guys.  As our playing years went on we attended a lot of teammate weddings, started bringing little kids to the ballpark, and played less and less softball.  Those 3-day tournaments turned into 1-day tournaments and league night became a thing of the past.  Family life got busier and we all gradually retired from the sport we had so much fun playing.  Great memories and great friends all thanks to softball!

Note: Click on the picture above to get a close-up of these weekend warriors.  Notice the little girl in the corner is now a Russia sophomore and standout athlete for the Raiders!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Catching up with Minster alum Randy Stueve...

Fish Report recently caught up with 1990 Minster alum and Ironman Randy Stueve! Randy, now a pharmacist in Durango, Colorado, competed in the Hawaiian Ironman World Championship back in 2008. In 2011 he's back on the Ironman circuit will be racing Ironman St. George (Utah) coming up on Saturday, May 7th, which is reportedly one of the toughest Ironman courses out there. Before the big race Fish Report got a chance to ask Randy a few questions and here's what he had to say:

F.R.  Thanks for talking with us Randy! What kind of activity does the Ironman involve and why is the St. George course so tough?
R.S.  Thank you Craig, it's great to be back! An Ironman triathlon consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike leg, and a 26.2 mile run. There are numerous Ironman races around the world, but in only its second year, the St. George course has garnered a reputation for being the hardest course in North America and one of the top three hardest in the world. The bike course has about 6600 feet of elevation gain. There are harder bike courses out there, but it's the run that sets St. George apart with around 2400 feet of elevation gain. That's a tough marathon to throw at tired legs!

F.R.  When was your last previous race and how did that turn out?
R.S.  Last November, I raced Ironman Cozumel. I'd been getting back into shape all summer, and I really wanted to peak for this race. Unfortunately, I was involved in a bike accident two weeks out from the race. A deer and I collided! I was doing about 25mph and a doe shot across the road and barreled right into the front of my bike. My bike and I cartwheeled down the road for a bit, and it took me awhile to regain my bearings. I remember opening my eyes and slowly moving all my extremities to see if anything was broken. Fortunately, my only injuries were road rash and strained muscles along my ribs and spine. My bike, however, was totaled. It took a lot of rehab and a borrowed bike, but I made it to the start line. I had the swim of my life, but my back couldn't handle much more than 40 miles on the bike. The run was even worse. I did finish, but I was very disappointed. I'm still waiting on a get-well card from that deer! Also considering getting a deer permit next fall.

F.R.  You must have been a big runner and swimmer in high school. Is that how it started?
R.S.  Ha! I was on a swim team in 4th grade, but that was it. I played football and baseball in high school and didn't do much more than intramural sports in college. I didn't get into triathlon until 2002. My first race was a disaster, so I did a second race just to get it right. After that, I was hooked. In 2005, I moved out to Durango, Colorado so I could pursue my passion full-time.

F.R.  If you ran the Minster Oktoberfest could we put our money on you to win? 
R.S.  Not if you're smart. I'm not a pure runner, and it usually takes me a bit to get warmed up first. My fastest 10K ever was a 36:01 during a triathlon last September. For some reason, I'm able to maintain my run speed coming off of the bike better than most. That's where I make up a lot of ground in races.

F.R.  Last question, when you're competing in an Ironman, is it harder physically or mentally? 
R.S.  That's a great question. It's certainly a mixture of both, but I think it comes down to what your goal is for a race. If you're a beginner, the physical aspect is the bigger hurdle...simply getting in the necessary training to complete the race. Once you've reached the level where you're competing for a podium spot or a Kona slot, then it's more of a mental game. If you look at the start line at an Ironman, there are maybe 10-20 pro's that are physically capable of winning. The difference is where they are mentally. That mental focus you carry with you in your day to day training comes out on race day, and it separates the winners from the rest of the field. It's true in most aspects of life. Your top-performers are able to tap into something special that elevates them.

Great stuff Randy! Thanks for talking with Fish Report and best of luck in St. George!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Simplifying my life for free...

Every once in a while I get excited about some new technology or internet thing, and a lot of times I can do without.  For example, I love the Motorola Droid X phone, but could care less about Apple's iPhone.  I'm crazy about Twitter, but just can't get into Facebook.  About six months ago I stumbled upon Dropbox and it's undoubtedly simplified my life.  In a nutshell, I installed this free service on my computer at home, at work, and my phone. I can drag a picture or document from any of these devices and drop it in my Dropbox.  I can then pull up that same picture or document on all the devices.  How does that make my life more simple?  I was on my way to Cincinnati a few months ago and forgot an important document saved on my computer at home.  I called home and told my 13-year old daughter to go into my word documents and drag that file into my Dropbox.  Presto!  I instantly had the file in the Dropbox on my phone!  If you enjoy things that are simple and free, you might want to check it out: 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Catching up with Versailles alum Craig Stammen...

Fish Report caught up with 2002 Versailles alum and professional baseball pitcher Craig Stammen! After successful years in high school and college at the University of Dayton, Craig was drafted in the 2005 Major League Baseball Draft by the Washington Nationals. In May 2009 Craig made his first big league start and played for the Nationals for most of the 2009 and 2010 seasons. Craig started this season playing for the Nationals Triple A team, the Syracuse Chiefs, in Syracuse, NY. Fish Report got a chance to ask Craig a few questions recently and here's what he had to say:

F.R.  Thanks for talking with us Craig!  First question, how does a guy travel between Syracuse, Washington DC and all the cities you play in from night to night...with one suitcase or two?
C.S.   The travel is probably the hardest thing throughout the season. Going from hotel to hotel and then back to your apartment doesn't really seem like you get a break. I make sure that I have my car with me at our home city so that I can keep most of my stuff with me throughout the season, i.e. golf clubs. However, when we are on the road only one suitcase and small carry on type bag is all I need to get thru the road trips.

F.R.  We've noticed you have over 2,800 followers on Twitter, including Fish Report! Who are all these people and what are you tweeting about?
C.S.  That's a good question, because I probably don't know most of them. I'm guessing there is either a large amount of farmers from Darke, Mercer and Shelby counties on Twitter or there are just a few loyal Nats fans hitting up the Twitter universe! I do not really tweet much, but usually its about something sports related. Like everyone else I like keeping up to date on the Flyers, Irish and Bengals. So, if you have Twitter, follow me!!!!

F.R.  By the way, back home Versailles is off to a great start in baseball this spring! Do you keep in touch with the Tigers program at all?
C.S.  I wish I knew more about what was going on with their season. Every once in a while I will catch something on the internet about how they are doing. With the newly renovated baseball field, it should only help the program. Maybe Fish Report could give me more updates on Tigerball baseball!

F.R.  Back when you played in high school, where there any moments or games you'll never forget?
C.S.  There are several because we had a very close group of guys that had played together for a long time. We knew we were pretty good and I think that only made it more fun for all of us as we played our senior season only losing two games. Our best baseball of that season was actually played at the Russia Invitational, where we beat Russia and then St. Henry both in run rule games where we outscored them 31-1. Later in the season, in the sectional final, again at Russia, probably my most memorable moment from high school as an individual was a game winning 3 run homerun in the bottom of the 6th to give us a 3-0 win vs. Twin Valley South. Josh Bruns shut them down striking out 14 or 15 guys! As a pitcher now, you always remember your hits! I would mention my favorite basketball moment(s), but I'm afraid I would offend some of your readers!

F.R.  And our last question is for all the kids that want to play in the major leagues some day. What does it take to get there?
C.S.  I consider myself very lucky and blessed to have been able to make it to the major leagues. I'm not sure there is a blue print that if you follow it, you will get to play major league baseball. But, I do know that it has taken a great deal of hard work, help from great coaches along the way, a lot of luck, some divine intervention, and a personal commitment to never stop believing in yourself and realizing that anything you set your mind to can be accomplished.

Great stuff Craig! Thanks for talking with Fish Report and good luck this season!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Well done Russia...

The first track meet in Russia School history took place yesterday, April 18th, between the Russia and Houston Junior High girls and boys teams.  I'm sure that will be the answer to a trivia question many years down the road.  The Raiders won both meets and of course every event set a track record.  Fish Report was on hand to witness the historic night and would like to congratulate everyone who worked so hard to make a dream a reality.  In the past year I've witnessed the track being used for practice by sports teams and for exercise by community members.  Now it's hosted the first track meet.  Well done Russia!

Friday, April 15, 2011

High school softball is exciting...

If I ever had any doubts about high school girls softball being exciting, they were erased last night watching the Russia-Loramie girls game at Russia Park.  The game had a little hype before the first pitch.  For starters, it's an annual rivalry, and to top it off both teams were unbeaten in the early SCL schedule. Russia pitcher Katelyn Herron and Loramie pitcher Paige Ordean were brilliant, both pitching shutouts through 6 innings.  You might think a scoreless game couldn't be that exciting, but as the innings progressed, the drama intensified and you just knew the first team to get a break was probably going to win.  It happened for Loramie in the last inning.  After a Darian Rose double and Katelyn Turner walk, Pam Meyer hit a heroic two-run single that scored the only runs of the game.  Russia's Jessie Zumberger singled in the bottom of the 7th getting my hopes up the Raiders might hit a bomb and tie it up, but the rally stalled and the Redskins won Round 1.  I'm positive I'll be attending a few more softball games before the season it over.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Catching up with Russia Raider alum Brent Pleiman...

Fish Report recently caught up with Russia alum Brent Pleiman!  Brent played for the Raiders basketball team from 2002-2006.  Among his many high school accomplishments, he was a two-time Shelby County League Player of the Year, 1st Team All-Ohio, and still holds the Russia record for points in a single game with 46!  Brent went on to play college basketball and finished his successful career at Ohio Wesleyan in 2010. Fish Report got a chance to ask Brent five questions and here's what he had to say:

F.R.  Thanks for taking the time to talk to us Brent.  So tell us what you've been up to since you hung up the laces?
B.P.  Hey Fish Report, thanks for having me on and for the great coverage.  Currently, I live in Worthington, Ohio on the north side of Columbus with some friends from college.  I work in audit and tax for GBQ, which is regional accounting firm serving businesses all over Ohio.  My girlfriend, Shannon, is in college at OWU and will graduate in 2012.

F.R.  Since you finished your playing days at Ohio Wesleyan, do you play competitively or recreationally anymore?
B.P.  Yes, I am playing in a couple of Recreational Leagues with some college teammates.  We are currently 3-0 in the spring league.  It is pretty competitive as there are a lot of former basketball players along with some former Buckeye football players that make appearances from time to time.

F.R.  Living over in Columbus, do you get a chance to keep up with the program at Russia anymore or get to any of the games?
B.P.  Yes, I always follow them online to check out the score and try to make it back for a game or two when I can, but the college basketball schedule and studies kept me very busy.  I plan to make it to more games in the future since Jacob (brother) enters high school next year.

F.R.  Looking back at your years with the Raiders, what stands out as one of your best memories?
B.P.  There were a lot of good memories.  I always remember the fun we had playing in games but also the good times we had off the court.  I would have to say the best memories are playing in the regional’s at Oxford my senior year and winning the outright league title my Junior and Senior years as those titles came down to the last weekend of the season.

F.R.  Finally, do you have any advice for any of the younger players learning the game and trying to succeed?
B.P.  I think it is important to always be working on your fundamentals.  It is great to play a pickup game or open gym and that is very important to check your improvement, but working on individual fundamentals really makes the difference.  Be a student of the game as there is always more to learn.  For those who watched Butler play in the recent NCAA’s, they play hard nose solid defense and have role players and therefore, everyone is pulling together for one common goal...To win.  And always remember, whether you win or lose; you need to always go back to practice and work hard to get better.

Great advice Brent!  Thanks again for taking the time to talk to Fish Report and we hope to see you around Russia!

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