Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Moonwalking Dilemma: A Devil's Advocate View of Current Events

* I am not excusing sexual harassment in any form. (And everyone should know my views on hazing of any sort by now.) And I am not predicting future PSU Sports Decisions with this post.  I am merely questioning political correctness and its effect on the status quo.

There can be no question that the Ohio State Marching Band has been at the pinnacle of performances over a long period of time.  With the recent revelations* of a "sexualized culture" and the firing of the band director credited with putting the cherry on top of its recent Band's performances, Ohio State has made a very important decision.

When a group or organization maintains its position at the top of its trade, many reasons can factor into it.  One thing that helps separate the "great" from the "good" groups is often the bonding that occurs within the group.  This is most often a positive thing, but sometimes can result in bad things happening.  Bonding can be strongest among a group that shares a secret that is often slightly outside the envelope.  A band having an annual practice in its underwear certainly fits that definition.  Having nicknames that are not something shared with anyone outside the group can be another. A team cheer with some profanities in it can be another. These don't have to necessarily cross the line.

Ohio State says it now has a "Zero-Tolerance Policy" on these matters.  Meaning anyone upset by anything, real or imagined, can complain and get their way.  The "victim" becomes the executioner in these situations.  Imagine the OSU Band having to march in burqas because a band member became a Fundamental Muslim during the season and is upset by the old uniforms.  That's zero-tolerance taken to the extreme, but the true definition of zero-tolerance.  Perhaps "a hard line" would be a better policy?

The elimination of a significant factor in the incredible bonding of its group means that the Ohio State Marching Band will be hard pressed to sustain its dominance in its field.  But did the "good" done to eliminate the "bad" of the sexualized culture do anyone anything positive?  Did the "bad" of marching in underwear and having a nickname of "Boob Job" harm anyone?

My opinion is that somewhat innocent shenanigans escalated to intolerable abuses and hazing over decades, and something needed to be done.  The Columbus Dispatch puts this much better than I can.  In fact, accusations of rape and inadequate handling of reports of sexual assault have been leveled.  But a zero-tolerance policy is only going to smear otherwise innocent, talented and intelligent students.

*The original alert about this came from a band member's mother.  There has been very few complaints over the year's from actual band members.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

More Academic Accolades

The United States Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches Association list of Academic All-Americans is out, and the Nittany Lions are well represented.

  1. Emily Giannotti
  2. Leigha Anderson
  3. Tal Ben-Artzi
  4. Shelley Black
  5. Abigail Benson
  6. Lauren Kenney
  7. Lexi Masterson
  8. Marta Klebe
  9. Robby Creese
  10. Cole Proffitt
  11. Rob Cardina
  12. Ryan Brennan
  13. Aaron Nodolsky
  14. Bernard Bennett-Green
  15. Matthew Fisher
The Womens Team was also recognized for their overall team GPA of 3.32!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Video Distance Measurement (VDM) Testing With Mark Heckel At The World Junior Championships

USATF Field Official Mark Heckel
Just woke up a few minutes ago to the sound of . . . ducks! Today is "test meet" day at the World Junior Championships here at Oregon. WE had an interesting walk through with the Seiko folks yesterday, especially with our first look at video distance measurement.
The premise is quite simple - two high speed (7 frames per second) high definition cameras are focused on the pit and calibrated. As the jumper leaves the board, they perform their own capture sequence. The software picks the most likely landing frame from all the frames it collects, and the images are displayed side-by-side. You then place a cursor, that has a superimposed line that indicates where it is parallel to the take-off board, at the landing point in the sand, on each view. The distance is then computed.
What's really cool is that this can all be done from the top of the stands! We will be situated some 30-40 meters from the pit, at the top of Hayward field, and the cameras capturing the images will be BEHIND us. You can zoom in to get the exact location of the landing as well. There is no reflector in the pit, no marker at all in the pit. It will be interesting to see it in action today.
I'm looking forward to working with our crew and getting to see this new way for us to do electronic measurement. Video and a new training will be forthcoming.


Well, the test meet yesterday went OK (as test meets go, I guess), but today, when we had to put things into action, it was REALLY interesting.
The VDM method for measurement is REALLY exciting! I have to tell you that we had no issues with using it, and in the decathlon long jump (with 17 competitors in my pit), we had a very easy day. There were a few times when I wanted to look at the before and after images, and to see the changes in the surface of the landing area, from a distance of about 35-40 meters, and see them better than you could with the naked eye - was incredible.
I will post some video later, but the clarity and the speed at which we not only got the images, but how quickly they were measured, was even more impressive that I thought it would be. I didn't clock it today, but i will tomorrow morning. I'm really curious to see how quick we are between jumps.
The other aspect of using the VDM is that each jump is recorded. At 7 frames per second, starting with approximately the take-off from the board and ending about +2 seconds after the athlete lands, really allows you to see the changes in the surface, and to get the most accurate mark - perhaps too accurate, since you can togle the images back and forth to look for even the slightest changes in the landing surface.
The groomers on both pits did a great job, keeping the surface almost drag smooth. We found that if they raked and brushed parallel to the scratch line, we could get very good, clear images of the landing and the changes in the surface.
By using radio communication between ourselves, the pit boss and the athlete control judge (i.e. flight coordinator), we were able to keep things moving, and clear from clutter. In reailty, one could perhaps conduct the vent with as few as 5 officials - 2 in the landing ares to groom, a board judge, a timing/wind gauge judge, and the athlete control judge. But, don't be scared - I'm not advocating taking away positions! You still need your plasticine folks, and a chief free to handle issues that come up.
It was a bit different not seeing anyone in the landing area with a stick or reflector, and to only see the board judge raise a flag and place and remove a cone, but I thought these things made the competition better to watch.

Here is a short (< 7 minutes) video that is a raw explanation of the VDM (video distance measurement) technology being used at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championship in Eugene. I will be producing a better version, under the TFO Training Associates label, when I get home. For now, view and enjoy!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Queen is Taking a Pounding Lately

The recent IAAF Diamond League Meet in London had its Shot Put competition held at the front of Buckingham Palace.  With the great photos that have emerged from the event,it is a wonder that the competitors didn't knock down the front door.

Pip, pip, cheerio.

Our very own Joe Kovacs placed 4th in the event with a heave of  20.94M (stupid metric system... 68' 8.25").  That still has him tied for 2nd in the overall race (8 pts.) with David Storl of Germany behind Reese Hoffa's 11 pts.

Big Joe with Big Ben.

And with all those big men inside the gates of the Queen's home turf, the only animal testing positive for PEDs was one of her own horses!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Another 4 x 800 World Record Makes These Guys Honorary PSU Track Alumni Golfers!

Charles Rogers, the baby of the group.

When Charles Ross (91) discovered that it hadn't been done before, he knew he had an opportunity.  So he got a few of his fellow 90 year-old-plus friends together and entered the USATF Masters Championship Relays.  That mean he and his friends, Champion Goldy Sr. (97), Orville Rogers (96), Roy Englert (92) and Charles Boyle (91), combined to set World Records (and Here) in the 4 x 100, 4 x 400 and 4 x 800 Relays! (Goldy was on the 4 x 100 team and Charles Boyle took his place on the other races.)

4 x 100M (90+)   2:22.37  WR
4 x 400M (90+)  12:41.69 WR
4 x 800M (90+)  28:17.10 WR

Champion Goldy Sr.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Another PSU Track/XC and Rugby Link

Last year's episode of arson of the golf course shed housing supplies for both PSU Rugby and Cross Country was one link.  Two disgruntled rugby players had too many adult beverages and decided to take their frustrations out on the innocent shed.  I suppose the XC course supplies have been replaced in time for the Coach Groves Spiked Shoe Meet this year.

Dane Rauschenberg represents another link between Dear Ole State's XC and Rugby teams.  Before embarking on his incredible endurance sports career, Dane played on PSU's Rugby team.  Dane is from Titusville PA, not very far away from The Blog Muse Rob Whiteside's home in Harmonsburg, and also my former team captain John Zeigler's Meadville.

Dane relates that when he was running his 52 marathons in 52 weeks, he had the Georgetown Running Company  (I've been there!) as a sponsor and was getting tired of the cheer "Go Hoyas!" from the crowds.  So he inquired about getting a PSU singlet to wear instead, to reflect his PSU Pride.  He relates at the time he didn't know much about Coach Groves (or he might not have asked!).  But in a true reflection of Coach Groves (not the image others might believe) Coach came through for him.

Dane was quick to add that he rarely wears the singlet now because he did not run for PSU back in the day.  I assured him that our Alumni Singlets signal support for the PSU Program and are not an exclusive perk available only to ex-PSU Track athletes.

Another sale will be coming very soon.  And don't forget the new dri-fit work-out shirts which are suitable for the out-of-shape joggers (sloggers?) like me!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

PSU is 800U: World Record Masters Edition

Congrats to our very own PSU Track Alumni Golfer and frequent longest drive winner Beth (Stever) Shisler on her new World Record!  She teamed with Sarah Allers, Claudette Groenendaal & Lorraine Jasper to set the new 50 and over 4 X 800M World Record!  The USATF Masters Outdoor Championships were held at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC.

Beth Shisler
10:24.21 - Beth-2:41, Sarah-2:40, Claudette-2:35, Lorraine-2:26.

Sarah Allers is coached by Phil Peterson, a PSU Track Alum for Coach Lucas AND Coach Groves in 1965 to 1969.  Welcome to the warm embrace of our wonderful group!  And do you golf?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Monaco is 800 Heaven

There were many good races at the Herculis Monaco Diamond League Meet, but the one that turned my head was the 800 M, where the world record holder returned to form with a splendid 1:42.98Which got him 5th place!

1 AMOS Nijel BOT 01:42.45 WL,MR
2 BOSSE Pierre-Ambroise FRA 01:42.53 NR
3 AMAN Mohammed ETH 01:42.83 SB
4 CHERUIYOT Ferguson RotichKEN 01:42.84 PB
5 RUDISHA David KEN 01:42.98 SB

In other races, Leonel Manzano and Matt Centrowitz (I'll forgive him his NCAA throat-slash gesture, reluctantly) ran splendid times in the 1500 M of 3:30.98 and 3:31.09 for 8th and 9th place!



Friday, July 18, 2014

Updates in Totally Unrelated Things: Red Klotz, "The Best Outside Shooter Ever" and Higgs In Action!

As sports go, I was originally hoping to be a world-renowned basketball player.  My game didn't quite live up to my dreams, so I reluctantly turned to a more solitary sport, running.

Red Klotz, the long-time Coach of the Washington Generals and the greatest ambassador the sport of basketball has ever known, died last week.  His snub at the Basketball Hall of Fame (They let Nike Chairman Phil Knight in recently!) needs to be corrected.

Player/Coach/Owner Red Klotz in his 70's against the Harlem Globetrotters.

Long-time runner and good friend Tim Kelly recently finished a book on his life that is garnering praise from every angle.  It is being mentioned on national sports shows to highlight a remarkable man and promote his inclusion in Basketball's most prestigious organization.  Red represents the best of America's great sport of basketball, but more importantly, he represents the greatness that America can produce outside the sport. May he RIP.  (Red is probably just now taking over the coaching duties of the top team in Heaven and upping their game.) I recommend the book as a companion to the book Pistol (about "Pistol" Pete Maravich) as the 2 books to read to appreciate the history of America's home-grown sport. I'll bet Coach Red is allowing Pistol Pete to fire away from anywhere on the Heavenly court.  Red certainly knew a customer draw when he saw one!

And I was once the 2nd leading scorer on my Junior High team at 2.8 points per game.  Yeah, you read that right, 2.8 was second best on my JH team.  That's because Curt Clawson, a seventh grader was on my team averaging 18.4 points per game against 8th and 9th graders!  Curt eventually became what his Coach, Gene Keady of Purdue called "the best outside shooter he has ever seen." (Curt never played a game with a 3-point line though!) He said this with Michael Jordan sitting next to him at his retirement celebration.  With Curt just a man in the back of the auditorium.  When Michael demanded a 3-point shoot-out (with substantial wagering!), Curt beat him like a rented mule with the whole crowd moving to the gym for the spectacle.

Congressman Curt Clawson

Now Curt is the newly elected member of the US House of Representatives for his district in Florida, replacing the disgraced former member caught with cocaine.  Curt is also someone who upholds the ideals our Founders wanted America to reflect.  As a Mormon, he lives up to strict standards in his personal and professional life some of us can only wonder about.  His lessons from his sporting career mirror those all of us have been exposed to.  Coach Keady and Coach Groves may have never met, but they were both old-school types with similar views on what coaching means.  I wish Curt well in the cesspool that is our Government.  I really want him to make a difference.

And in lighter news, the Higgs Boson was finally seen in action!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Penn State Cross Country Loses a Champion

You may not have ever heard of Stanley Lindner Jr., but a part of him lives inside each and every one of you.  Stanley was a Letterman on the 1950 NCAA National Championship Cross Country Team.  He passed away this week, but left a world better off than the one he entered. His story is an impressive one.   My condolences to all his family and friends are on behalf of everyone from our group.

Stanley Lindner Jr.

But with the Rusty Boots legacy we have been using as a way to link all PSU athletes, we know we all have a spark of Stanley with us at all times.  If you so inclined, say a little prayer for him and his family and friends and say a thank you for all the good he did during his lifetime.

Addendum:  I was originally alerted to this by Ryan Foster, Director of Operations.  That the PSU Track and Field Team has such a great relationship with our motley crew is a testament to everything we wish to accomplish. (That is, celebrating the past and present of PSU Track/XC, and  thus fortifying the future of PSU Track/XC.)

Addendum II:  Stanley was the father of Susan Lindner, an early 80's hurdler for Coach Schwartz and the Nittany Lions.  Thanks to Coach Schwartz for the info.  My sympathies go to her at this time.
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