Clearing off the old sports desk

Editor's note: Scooter Chapman is off this month, generating new ideas for his weekly column. I'll be your moderator/word hound for this week. Bear with me.

There are a million great sports stories going on right now, from the fire sale going on near Safeco to the Seahawks getting ready, to Sequim High fall sports right around the corner to ... well, you get the idea.

I wanted to touch on a couple of things:

Heads up!

For those who missed Dr. Stanley Herring's presentation and community forum regarding concussions in Sequim back in mid-June, he's coming to Silverdale this September.

Herring, a clinical professor at the University of Washington and team physician for the Seattle Mariners and Seahawks, is slated to speak at the free Heads Up: Concussion in Youth Sports workshop from 9-11 a.m. at Ridgetop Junior High School. His talk is called, "Concussion, the Invisible Injury."

For youths, parents, coaches and anyone interested in the health of young athletes, the workshop details when to seek medical care, what's important to watch for, when athletes can return to play and how to avoid more serious complications.

The workshop also shows "Help! My Bell Just Rang," a video featuring conversations with athletes from Sequim, Port Angeles and Chimacum.

Jean Rickerson, mother of the concussed Sequim High quarterback Drew Rickerson, helped organize the workshop. Call her at 452-6765 for more details.

Youth sports

Congrats go out to the local Little League and Sequim Babe Ruth all stars who played hard and fought like heck for wins this summer.

Sequim's junior softball team earned a win at state and finished fifth, but several Sequim squads lost close games that, had a couple runs come their way, might have made the jump to state, too.

It's in this vein that local coaches have started a couple of travel teams, one softball and the other baseball.

Dave Bentz and Dean Rhodefer are heading up TNT, a softball team of local stars that are planning their first tourney Aug. 22-23 in Mount Vernon.

"I've been approached in past about travel ball for our girls because everyone else does (a team)," Bentz said. "When Dean (Rhodefer) approached me, we talked and ... decided to go for it. This will let us compete at the Little League level but also get the kids ready for high school."

Thanks to a $500 donation from Bob Reandeau and Puget Sound Executive Services for uniforms, a donation from Del Gott from Diamond Construction and help from Reef Tanning, Westside Pizza, Napa in Sequim and Schuck's Auto Supply in Port Angeles for various things at their first fundraising car wash, team TNT is ready to go. Others helping out include Sean Clift, Melanie Bentz and Karen Lewis.

The team is a nonprofit group and they do have an account at Sound Community Bank for those who want to support the players.

Sequim also has a newly formed baseball travel team for 12-year-old and younger players, coached by Rhodefer and Bill Bates. The unnamed Sequim team took fourth out of eight teams in a tournament in Port Angeles the first weekend in August.

"It's the first time the kids have seen this kind of competition," Bates says.

The team has one more tourney this year: Aug. 29-30 in Mukilteo.

Bates says he hopes to see the travel team pick up where it leaves off come next summer. For the kids' sake, we all do, too.

A rare tennis camp

In the most recent Gazette, I ran a picture of some youths playing "tennis soccer" from a Boys & Girls Club camp in July.

Don Thomas, who along with teaching pro Bill Thomas of Arizona helped lead the camp, called to tell me this was no ordinary clinic. This was "Tennis Across America," a U.S. Professional Tennis Association-sponsored event that was one of only two approved sites in the state (Yakima was the other).

For three hours a day and two weeks long, the clinic is designed to promote grassroots interest in tennis, with events encompassing physical exercise, agility drills, rudimentary skills of the games and a lot of fun.

"The whole idea was for the kids to have fun and learn the sport," Thomas says.

Last year, with the USPTA blessing, and combining with the Boys & Girls Club's tennis camp, Thomas and company saw 47 youths out on the courts.

This summer? A total of 108 youths, ages ranging as young as 5 and as old as about 15, flocked to the five tennis courts at Sequim High School. The average daily attendance was 70 youths, Thomas says, and it could have been much more.

"I'm just flabbergasted by the success of the program," he says.

The day I visited, the campers were finishing up a few drills and capping the day with some fun "mixed sports" activities.

What I missed was impressive: a morning warm-up followed by a series of agility drills (learning the lines, split step/shuffle, two-ball relays, ball-balancing relays, red light/green light, "coach says," ball-bouncing drills, medicine ball exercises and doubles movement) all in the span of 40 minutes or so. That was followed by a series of backhand drills, then a break then overhead or forehand drills, then the tennis-with-baseball/golf/soccer-style games, then cool-down. All of this finished by noon. Talk about intense.

"Listening is probably the first and most important element that you teach a student at such an early age," Thomas told a group of camper parents, "then development of eye-to-hand coordination."

Kudos to Thomas, the club and 22 volunteers who helped make it all happen.

M's try a jigsaw puzzle

Want to see how a Major League Baseball championship team is built? Yeah, me too.

Mariner fans are hoping Jack Zduriencik knows what he's doing after a slew of trades before the deadline gave the Seattle Nine a new look.

But we're calling it what it is with that dangerous "R" word - rebuilding - even as the Mariners are hanging around in the wild card chase.

If a team isn't rebuilding, why send Jarrod Washburn and his American League No. 5-rated ERA to Detroit?

Wash seems like a decent guy and even though he talked about staying here for good, I got the sense that after being shipped around for nearly a whole season in 2008, he'd probably skip town after 2009.

We'll see if the Luke French kid can make the deal worth it. He's looked shaky in a couple of Mariner starts, but give it time. Mauricio Robles, the other piece of the deal, is a single A left-handed pitching prospect. Both are younger than 23, which is nice.

Seattle gave up on C-1B prospect Jeff Clement and tossed the light-hitting yet well-liked infielder Ronny Cedeno and three minor prospects to Pittsburgh, and got Nate Snell - he of the oh-my-goodness 2-8 record and you-weren't good enough-to-stay-on-the-Pirates'-major-league-roster? - along with periodically hard-hitting Jack Wilson.

Nice move. I like it. Cedeno was popular among the players because he can field but was hitting lighter than a dry cappuccino (oh-for his last 26 at-bats as an M), making him the target of fans' ire.

Wilson, the M's new shortstop, should go over better. He can hit (.308 in 2004, .296 in 2007 and .272 last year) and play some 'D.' Clement seemed to have it all at a young age, but it turns out the high school record for home runs counts for squat when one can't field too well, stay healthy or hit consistently.

Perhaps he'll turn out like Adam Jones, who left Seattle as a piece in the painfully lopsided Erik Bedard trade and promptly became an all-star. I think Jeff Clement will be to baseball what Jeff Bridges is to ... baseball.

Snell, on the other hand, is the curiosity. He had a bad ERA for Pittsburgh (5.36 in 15 starts) but looked really sharp in his first start as a Mariner, going six innings and giving up just two runs in a no-decision. Then he tanked in his next start, giving up six walks in an inning-and-a-third. Here's hoping he'll keep it together.

The M's also gave up on Wladamir Balentin, as they chucked him to Cincinnati for Robert Manuel, an inexperienced right-hander pitcher, and shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, who was packaged to Kansas City for two minor-league pitchers: Danny Cortes (AA) and Derrick Saito (A).

But both Cortes and Saito have put up solid minor league numbers and the M's get rid of a bunch of dollars in cap space. Solid moves, Jack.

That's all for now. See you in the funny pages.

Michael Dashiell is sports editor of the Sequim

Gazette. Reach him at

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