Thursday, September 23, 2010

KHS Softball Says Goodbye to Seniors

It's always a bitter-sweet day when "Senior Day" rolls around in any sport.  I still remember mine from both high school and college.  As a player, it's hard to believe all the time that has passed, and still harder to believe that your playing time at your school is almost at an end.  I can't imagine what it's like for the parents, who've probably watched their kid play this sport for years and years. . . 

Well, these 4 soaked up the moment, and if the smiles in these pictures are any indication, it was well-earned, and just as meaningful to the coaches and administrators.  Our AD, Coach Townsend, worked the PA and introduced the seniors, Katie Just, Maggie Hallam, Kelsey Cross, and Ali Cavanaugh, and their parents with style.  Doc Holley was handing out sincere hugs, and I gotta tell you again how lucky I think our kids are to have a principal who truly cares for them.  No one does it like Doc Holley!!

Here's where I "rant" a little.  In this era of 24-7 Sportscenter Highlights and the spoiled athlete, I think we can easily lose track of the positive lessons sports teach, whether we're having a 20-win season, or struggling through a tough year.  We too often only look at the wins and losses to determine whether it was a "good" year or "bad".  Well, you're missing the boat if that's where you find yourself.  If you can maintain a positive attitude and continue to work hard when you're not always winning, you're getting it.  If you can develop long-lasting and meaningful friendships with your teammates, then you're getting it.  If your coach can look you in the eye and tell you "Thanks for the effort", then you're getting it.  These girls got it. . .

Thanks ladies, we're all proud of you!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Kirkwood Field Hockey Topples Webster

If you know anything about Kirkwood, you know that when we play Webster Groves, in ANYTHING, it always means more.  Today was no exception as the Field Hockey teams battled it out at KHS.  Kudos to the Wrestling team and pep band which made the day even more special.  You be hard-pressed to find a more enthusiastic cheering section at any Field Hockey game!  

The girls did not disappoint as they got hot in the 2nd half and really put it to the Statesmen.  Alynn Richardson recorded the hat-trick, and Lindsey Leeker netted two to pace the Pioneers.  Coach Woodard does an amazing job with these girls, and has them playing well as we head into the 2nd half of the season.  BRAVO Ladies!!!


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Marge & Wil

What an honor it was  for us (myself, Reza Benham, and Stephanie Cotta) to be asked to photograph Ms. K's wedding!  The location was the historic Casa Loma Ballroom in downtown St. Louis.  The evening was clearly about being with friends and loved ones, good music, and lots of dancing.  (With a strong bicycle connection thrown in for good measure).  Marge was beaming the entire night, and Wil was one proud groom.  Marge teared up during Wil's thoughtful vows, and during her daughter's toast, in which she described how seeing her Mom so happy made her so happy.  It was really sweet.

Steve Jonak did a wonderful job officiating the wedding and put the bride and groom and all those in attendance at ease.  He's always fun to listen to speak, and this was no exception.  

Dance lessons were offered as the Ballroom opened to the public and the fun began.  Marge and Wil come here almost every Friday, and you could tell they were ready to dance.  Some people make it look easy, and these two certainly did.

Shooting with Reza Benham and Stephanie Cotta was a real thrill.  They are talented photographers and even better people!

Enjoy your honeymoon, Marge and Wil. . .


Greentree Parade

It was a beautiful morning for a parade. . . maybe a little on the warm side if you had to march in it in hot uniforms, but luckily, I didn't.  I just watched it go by, then jumped on my Vespa scooter and rode ahead to see it again and again.  It was like 4 parades for the price of one!!

There were plenty of excited spectators lining the roads and they were not disappointed.  The KHS band rocked, the  cheerleaders & pommies rolled, and a few football players even made it on the KHS athletic float after their heartbreaking but inspirational game on Friday night, where they took the 2-time defending State Champion Hazelwood Central Hawks to the wire.  Coach Irvin has the school believing in this team, and the fun has just begun!

The KHS truck featured school board members and our district teachers-of-the-year.  Among those teachers was Kirkwood High School's Bob Becker, who has also been selected as the Missouri Teacher of the Year.  Bravo!!

The celebration continued at the Greentree Festival at Kirkwood Park under warm September skies.  It was another great weekend in Kirkwood. . .


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

KHS New Look Tennis Team!

'Headed out to Parkway South to catch the Kirkwood Girls Tennis Team in action, sporting their sharp new uniforms!  I gotta say, they looked fabulous.  Nice going!

OK, I'll admit, I'm not a tennis aficionado. . . my college roommate, Curtis, and I used to head down to the tennis courts for a study break.  We'd start out playing tennis, but it would inevitably evolve into some other game in which you would try to hit the ball as far as possible with something other than a tennis racket, and then have to run and touch something before the other guy pelted you with a tennis ball struck with something completely different . . .  there was usually considerable bruising. . . Which reminds me of one of my favorite stories of all time.  It was a gloomy cold February in Joplin, MO, and we'd been stuck inside all winter.  Then one Saturday, it was like 70 degrees and sunny.  Everyone headed outside.  Curtis and I decided to play a game of stickball between the 2 dorms, while our other roommate, "Greek" decided to sit on the porch and study.  I was pitching and uncorked what I thought was an unhittable fastball.  Remarkably, Curtis connected with the sweet spot of his broom handle and rocketed a line drive that somehow went straight off of Greek's head, knocking him out of his chair and launching the ball completely over the parking lot.  We both looked at each other, worried that we might have killed him.  We dropped everything and ran over to see how he was, and like most people who get rocked in the head, he was not thinking clearly.  He was angry, and in an accusatory tone asked, "Why didn't you say WATCH OUT!?"  Curtis responded, "Well, it happened so fast, we just didn't have time!"  To which Greek angrily replied, "Well, you could've at least said "WHA. . . "  Might be the hardest I've ever laughed. . .   

But back to today.  The first thing you notice when you see our tennis team is "Oh, that's a great kid.  And there, another great kid.  And another, and another. . . "  And then you notice they play really good tennis.  And then you notice that they really have fun doing it.

The highlight of the afternoon for me was when I went to watch Caroline Killeen's doubles team play.  Her partner accidently sent a serve right square into the middle of her back.  You can see the great face Caroline made just after getting hit.  Curtis would have been proud. . .


Monday, September 13, 2010

It's Poster Time!

I've been keeping busy coming up with ideas for team schedule posters.  It's a lot of fun getting to shoot these awesome athletes and then turn the pics into what is hopefully a fun and memorable keepsake once their season is over.  Somtimes ideas come from movie posters, the Girls Golf was inspired by the HBO series "Band of Brothers"; some from college sports posters, Girl's Field Hockey was inspired by football poster from the University of Montana and Football by a poster from Penn State.  The volleyball poster idea was borrowed from a poster I saw years ago, and the soccer poster was inspired by an old baseball card.

Thanks for checking in!


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Random Thoughts. . .

  • The only thing better than a 3-day weekend, is the 4-day week that follows.  It's just so humane. . .
  • I finally learned the names of my homeroom kids.  What a difference that makes.  I'm ashamed it took me so long.
  • I love being able to put a "100%" on a test.  I gave my first Alg 2 test this week and was able to do that on the very first test I graded!  Thanks, Justine!
  • I've been lucky.  I've been able to watch some great athletes in my time at KHS.  I got to see Alvin Morrow hit a baseball off a building 500 ft away. . . I got to see Kent Layman play football at Mizzou after breaking his back his senior year in high school.  Now he guards the President . . . I got to see Randy Holbrook's silky jumper, Darrell Redmond's never-quit relentlessness, and Antoine and Anthony Smith's smooth play, all at the same time.  I got to see Darrell Lee sprint across a football field to catch runners who always ran AWAY from him.  (And I got to see him shatter a backboard when Steve Spurier was in the gym recruiting him). . . I got to see Chris Pirtle, at 5'11",  dunk two-handed after taking off just inside the FT line. . . I got to see Matt Krapfl throw to Jeremy Maclin and Mike McNeill. . . you get the idea.  Well, that's how I feel when I watch Matt Irvin coach.  You just know you're privy to something very special.  

Making Lemonade

The new stadium is behind schedule.  That effects the football teams, the soccer teams, and the field hockey teams.  But I think it might be overlooked that it also effects the pommies, the cheerleaders, and THE BAND!!  But do you hear anyone complaining?  NO!!  What does the band do?  They just take their show on the road and out-perform the home team's band!!!  Have I mentioned lately that OUR BAND ROCKS?!?!!  

Friday, September 10, 2010

Kirkwood Beats Seckman, McHugh is My Player of the Game

One of the great things about having a blog, is that I can write about what I want to write about, and tonight I want to write about #18, Mike McHugh. . .

I remember Coach Irvin talking about this kid after the first camp this summer.  He was really excited about his ability and the type of kid he was.  I have to be honest, I didn't really know who he was talking about.  Fast forward a couple of months, and what do you know, this kid is on my class list for my first hour Pre-Calculus class.  He hasn't played in a football game yet, because he suffered a leg injury before the first game.  He's pretty quiet, and doesn't have much to say until about a week and a half ago, when he walks in looking like Jay Leno.  His chin was huge.  He started telling the class how it just got bigger and bigger the day before, and ultimately, he had to have it drained.  Turns out it was a serious infection.  He spent this past weekend in the hospital, and has been going back every morning to get it cleaned and checked out.  I know this much, if it was me, I wouldn't have been out of bed for a week, but Mike was back in school trying to stay caught up.  Then I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw him dressed out for the game tonight.  He'd been cleared to play.

I kid you not, most people wouldn't even be up and walking around (much less playing a sport where one of the pieces of equipment actually goes across your CHIN) after what Mike went through this past week.    I would guess that just putting a helmet on was a painful experience, so when I saw him enter the game, I couldn't believe it.  Then, on his very first play of the year, he caught a beautiful 16-yard pass for a touchdown!!  I can't remember when I've been more excited to see a touchdown scored in a high school game!  I was going NUTS!!

Mike, I know you have many great moments ahead of you, but you'll be hard-pressed to impress me more than you did tonight.  I'm so proud of you!

More game photos at

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Spencer's Senior Session

The first "Senior Session" of the year was an absolute BLAST!!  Thanks to Spencer and Lorna (did I get that right?)  Lorna is Spencer's friend and was a huge help with all the lights and stuff.  Spencer was a student of mine as a sophomore. . . the first thing you noticed about Spencer back then was his hair.  It stuck up all over the place.  But when you looked past the hair, you saw a bright and thoughtful kid.  Now he's just plain "cool".  WAY cooler than I ever was, that's for sure.  

Spencer took me to a top-secret location where we shot the graffiti pics.  We talked about his art and how sometimes you've just got to hang out and do a little bit of nothing.  Then we headed back to the house, picked up a change of clothes, Mom, and Lance the dog.  We headed to the park and got some more great images there.  Spencer had the coolest shoes, so we featured those in one of the shots.  Can you believe he got those for $4.00?!  

What great fun!  Thanks, Spencer.  I really had a blast!


Rooting for the Purple!

I was trying to remember the last time I rooted for a team in purple. . . Wasn't the Lakers.  I've always hated the Lakers.  Maybe the Minnesota Vikings back when I was a kid?  At least until they played Green Bay.  I rooted for Green Bay because they had Bart Starr at Quarterback.  I thought that was a cool name.  Also, I had gotten a kid's sized Green Bay Packer's football uniform (complete with helmet) for Christmas one year.  That was great.  My brother got a New York Giants uniform.  We immediately put them on and went out in the back yard and ran our heads together.  Then we read the warning. . . "not to be used for actual contact".  Ooops. . . 

Wait, where was I?  Oh yea, purple. . . the Pioneer Field Hockey team was forced to resort to purple pennies as their opponent not only had the same colors, but the exact same style of uniform as well.  I think the other team was doing everything they could to throw the Pioneers off their game, but it didn't work, and the Pioneers racked up a 3 - 2 victory.   Julia M. had two goals to lead the Pioneers.  

Kirkwood's Becker Name Missouri Teacher of the Year!!

Sometimes, we get it right. . . not always, but every once in a while, the good guy wins.  Well, this time it's right. . . Bob Becker was selected as Kirkwood High School's Teacher of the Year, and then selected as the representative for the State of Missouri as it's Teacher of the Year.  'Couldn't happen to a better teacher or a better person.  I've been lucky enough to teach at the same school as Bob, but his influence on me started long before I ever became a teacher.  I remember my 8th grade Principal pulling me aside at recess one day and telling me, "Randy, you're going to be a teacher one day."  I cried for the next week!  I couldn't think of anything I would like to do LESS than be a teacher.  Fast forward 8 years or so. . . My Mom decided to go back to school to become a chemistry teacher.  She worked tirelessly to earn her degree, and then I saw her work even HARDER and more hours once she got her teaching job.  (That just confirmed my earlier fear of becoming a teacher.)  She got Cancer, but didn't miss a day of work, even when she was going through chemo.  She cared deeply for her students and wanted to make a difference.  I think my Mom was a great teacher, but she would come home from some conference and talk about this teacher she saw presenting named Bob Becker, "Now he's a teacher!" she'd say.  I started thinking, "Maybe that teaching thing ain't so bad. . . "  When I got hired at Kirkwood, and my Mom found out I was actually working with Mr. Becker, she would ask me to say "hi" to him.  This was after she had already retired.  I know, if she see's this blog, she'll be excited to learn that he's being recognized for all his work.  

Bob does more than just teach.  He's always organizing something. . . a canned food drive, a blood drive, groups to go work for Habitat for Humanity. . . anything to make the world a little better.  He inspires kids with his teaching and colleagues with his example.  

It's funny how things work out.  I'm in my 19th year of teaching now, and absolutely love it.  I think my Mom would be proud of the work I've done.  So I just want to say, "Thanks, Bob."