June 2016 Cape Cod Times Roundup

I don’t have some big lesson or story to report this time – covering a bunch of sectional championships, state semifinals and state championships in rapid succession was pretty exhausting, but writing about local teams winning it all is probably my favorite thing to do as a sports reporter, so I can’t really complain. And as much as I enjoy the talent on display in the Cape Cod Baseball League, I find myself kind of longing for the relative simplicity of high school sports again.

Of course, I’m sure that once the fall season gets underway, I’ll just start longing for the lighter workload of just five Cape League games on any given night.

Anyway, here’s everything I wrote in June for the Cape Cod Times.

Boys lacrosse: Falmouth gains South final with win over Sandwich

School baseball: Lions knock out Sharks in Div. 4 South quarterfinals

Baseball Side-by-Side: St. John Paul II 4, Monomoy 2

High school notebook: Camp helps Enneguess find the draw

Historic victory for Sandwich baseball team

Boys lacrosse: Falmouth falls in South final

Harwich slams Hyannis, 12-4

School baseball: Oriola leads St. John Paul II over Mashpee for another Div. 4 South crown

School baseball: St. John Paul II chasing another state title

School tennis: MV girls in state finals

High school tennis: Vineyarders go for second straight title

5-1 win in state semis send two-time defending state champ SJP II to another title game

School tennis: Vineyard repeats as girls state champs

High school notebook: Vineyard, D-Y champs return for state tennis tournament

Top-seeded SJP II goes after 3-peat title

Right up to final pitch, Oriola delivers

Harwich keeps on rolling behind shutout victory over Red Sox

McVey drives in 3 runs, helps Bourne halt losing streak

Hot-hitting Whitecaps total 14 hits in 12-3 win over Hyannis

Cape League Extra: Morris hopes to fit with Falmouth

Cape League notebook: Senzel’s summer pays off

Early attack: Bourne tops last-place Cotuit

Cape Cod Baseball League: Five-run fifth leads Kettleers over Anglers

Cape League Extra: Holba home, for now, in Bourne

Cape League notebook: Byrd returns after summer away

 

May 2016 Cape Cod Times Roundup

One of my most prolific writing months since joining the Cape Cod Times ended with a regatta in which a photographer cussed me out in public for getting seasick and sitting where the captain of the press boat told me to sit. Apparently I should’ve known this would happen after it happened last year – which this person was clearly still pissed about – and insisted on getting to Nantucket through alternate means so as not to get in her way.

I considered blowing up at her on social media about this later, but I decided against it because a) the person in question and I aren’t Facebook friends, so the likelihood of her ever finding out would be minimal, and b) many of my colleagues and editors at CCT and I are Facebook friends, and they probably wouldn’t think it very professional of me to air dirty laundry in a shameless plea for validation from my friends.

So the first two sentences of this post are all I have to say about the incident. I’d still be pissed about it, I ran my first official half marathon a day later and it went great, and as I type this I’m enjoying a week-long vacation. And feeling angry while on vacation is a waste of a vacation.

Anyway, here’s everything I wrote in May.

Continue reading May 2016 Cape Cod Times Roundup

April 2016 Cape Cod Times Roundup

I try to produce video at every game I cover this spring. There’s more time in between baseball or softball or lacrosse plays than basketball, making it much easier to take notes and record at the same time and then still produce a decent write-up for the print edition.

I shoot video on my phone, an iPhone 6 Plus, which I know has the battery and space to shoot for 2.5 straight hours, or the length of a high school football game. But because warmer temperatures still haven’t shown up on the Cape, lately my battery tends to get cold and shut down after only about 1-1.5 hours of continuous outdoor shooting.

Usually this means I get until about the fourth or fifth inning. That’s exactly what happened at one of the baseball games I covered below (Falmouth-Nauset, towards the bottom), and unfortunately almost all the scoring happened in the innings after my phone shut off.

I walked to my car, charged up the phone, then resumed recording for the final inning. But I was left with a lot of strikeouts by the winning pitcher and nothing about the offense behind him.

I could’ve scrapped the whole thing, but instead I came up with an alternative idea. I recorded a two-minute postgame interview with the pitcher, who’d performed more than well enough to merit it, then uploaded it and the game footage into my editing software.

Normally I’d write a script and do a voiceover for highlights, like you might see on “SportsCenter.” But this time I separated the interview into separate audio and video components, then systematically replaced portions of the video with shots of him striking someone out or fielding.

It took some fine-tuning to get it all synced up properly, but the end product turned out really, really well. I managed to both take a creative approach to producing multimedia content and fairly represent the game I’d covered. This is definitely a format I’ll use again.

The moral of the story is that a little creativity can turn a minor failure into a major success.

Here’s everything I wrote in April for the Cape Cod Times.

Continue reading April 2016 Cape Cod Times Roundup

March 2016 Cape Cod Times Roundup

So a buddy of mine from college and I occasionally do these podcasts about comic books and science fiction. They’re fun, often long, and they give me a chance to talk about stuff I sometimes feel like nobody else in my life cares about to the same degree as I do.

My editors at the Cape Cod Times know I do these. I have no idea if they’ve ever listened to any of them, but they’ve explicitly said my doing them is neither a conflict of interest nor a poor reflection of my professional image, and I’m free to continue.

I’m part of the CCT’s “Innovation” team, which is tasked with exploring different technologies and mobile applications that could potentially improve and diversify how we report the news. And at the introductory meeting for the team, higher-ups from the parent company specifically mentioned podcasts as something newspapers should explore.

I never thought these podcasts would impact my career in any way other than as a hobby. But after hearing that, I volunteered to be one of the test cases for a weekly podcast, which I of course devoted to previewing the spring high school sports season on the Cape.

My sports podcast took almost exactly half an hour. It was a fun conversation, barely any “ums” or pauses, and as far as I can tell, what we recorded required barely any editing.

As I was walking back to my desk after, I heard the guy I worked with tell my team leader, “Matt just killed it on the podcast!”

I’m certain my experiences doing these nerdy podcasts on the side made it much easier to do my first professional podcast. I’m confident I’ll get even better at podcasting the more I do it on the side, and should the CCT decide to make podcasting a weekly thing, I’ll be able to help make it a huge success.

The moral of the story: anything you do can advance your career if you think creatively about how to apply it.

The podcast, and everything else I wrote in March, appears below.

Boys basketball: Gibbons scores 23, but Sturgis East falls to Southeastern in Division 4 South Sectional

South Sectional girls basketball: Currence’s 1,000th point helps Mariners roll

High schools: Cape Cod Academy gears up for lacrosse

Division 4 boys basketball: Top-seeded Lions too quick for Bristol-Plymouth

Girls basketball South Sectionals: Falmouth Academy cruises into semifinals with win over St. John Paul II

Girls basketball South Sectionals: Falmouth Academy ready for tourney rematch

Girls basketball South Sectional semifinals: Falmouth Academy’s unbeaten season ends in 57-41 loss to GNB Voke

Boys basketball tournament: St. John Paul II goes down to Cohasset

High schools: Seahawks sailing team heads to Ireland

Barnstable’s gymnastics program emphasizes fun while winning state titles

Tribute: Pratchett meant the (Disc)world to me

Falmouth Academy’s Sarah Stokey conquering Iditarod Sled Dog Race

Podcast: Spring high school sports preview

SJP II’s Oriola to play baseball at Endicott

High schools: Weather or not, spring seasons begin

Family name, hoops create special bond between SJP II’s Katie Wojciechowski and uncle Steve

High school notes: Red Sox to honor Barnstable gymnasts

School baseball: Sturgis West looking to build on success

Sticking from the beginning: D-Y fields girls lacrosse team

June 2015 Cape Cod Times Roundup

Here’s everything I wrote for the Cape Cod Times in June 2015.

School lacrosse: Falmouth Academy girls win tourney opener

Girls lacrosse tournament: Blue Knights knock out Warriors

School baseball: Nichols leads Monomoy

School softball: Hadley Tate carries a big stick for St. John Paul II

High school baseball: Lions pounce on Wildcats in tourney opener

East Division predictions: Y-D Red Sox ready for title defense

Softball: Navigators and Dolphins knocked out

Sharks baseball bites Upper Cape

Cape League season opens with high hopes

Boys tennis South Sectionals: Barnstable knocks off No. 1 Brookline for title

Courageous Championship: grieving Marsh pitches SJP II to South title

Figure skating: Theatre on Ice at HYCC

SJP II baseball team in finals again

UNBEATEN SEASON: Vineyard girls claim tennis title

High school baseball: Lions ready for another state final

Victory caps incredible ride for Lion seniors

Local golf: Clark qualifies on home course

Early slugging for Mariners in 5-3 win over Whitecaps

Local baseball: Team Cape Cod rolls on

May 2015 Cape Cod Times Roundup

Here’s everything I wrote for the Cape Cod Times in May 2015.

Bucs face Worcester State in elimination game today

New field opens Little League season today

High school girls lacrosse: Blue Knights shut down Red Raiders

Barnstable Little League in the limelight with new complex

High schools: SJP II’s baseball coach Mark Santos will become school’s athletic director July 1

Boys lacrosse: Blue Knights fall to ACL champion Marshfield

Softball: D-Y’s Sammi Feinstein strikes out 10 in 6-0 victory over Falmouth

Sharing the Games: Falmouth mom supports 3-sport daughter through 12 seasons

Jackie Smith pitches SJP II to another win

NCAA baseball: D-Y grad Orava and Falmouth grad O’Rourke back on Cape for college tourney

Girls lacrosse: Falmouth Academy beats SJP II to finish off 14-0 regular season

D-Y hammers Sandwich in softball tourney title game

High school athletics: MIAA to require background checks for officials

Cape Cod Showdown: Knell’s blast leads D-Y over Sandwich

44th annual Figawi: Prefontaine and crew tack on a 28th flag and another adventure to 11-time winner Helios

Softball: D-Y blasts Mashpee, plays for league title today

LACROSSE: D-Y is No. 3, Nantucket No. 4 in boys seedings

Baseball: Mashpee’s win clinches South Shore League Small title

Thousands turn out for Best Buddies Challenge

March/April 2015 Cape Cod Times Roundup

Here’s everything I wrote for the Cape Cod Times in March and April 2015.

March: Snowed out: Weather blasts away at spring seasons

School lacrosse: Sandwich edges Barnstable, 9-8

Spring breaks in time for golf

April: Softball: Falmouth blasts Martha’s Vineyard in season opener, 15-3

Barnstable grad is finalist in NESN competition

Baseball: Dolphins overcome 3-run deficit for win

Girls Lacrosse: Rogorzenski leads Barnstable to a 10-8 win over Falmouth

School tennis: Barnstable overpowers Nauset

Girls lacrosse: Amelia Way scores 4 goals in CCA’s 14-4 win over Sturgis West

Softball: Unbeaten D-Y defeats Vineyard for 5th straight win

School volleyball: Sawyer Jr. leads Red Raiders over Quincy

Monomoy softball powers up

High school Girls lacrosse: Lakers dominate Canalmen in SCC showdown

Girls lacrosse: Nauset uses draws to defeat Barnstable, 10-8

College baseball: MMA’s Bob Corradi gets a boatload of hugs — and jersey 12

School softball: Willette walk-off homer powers Sandwich

Matt Santos helps lead defending state champion St. John Paul II

Boys lacrosse: D-Y beats Nauset in ACL showdown, 11-5

DigBoston: Boston Cannons Season Opener Story Live

Boston Cannons midfielder Paul Rabil has developed quite a cult following among Massachusetts’ lacrosse-playing youth. Learn more at DigBoston.com

Though I certainly find lacrosse’s Native American origins fascinating, I didn’t love my first lacrosse game (BU-Notre Dame). I figured I needed to give the game another shot, and the Boston Cannons’ season opener Saturday at Harvard Stadium provided just such an opportunity. Simultaneously, I figured it would make a great 52 Games for DigBoston.

The second time around, I had a lot more fun. And I added a new press pass to my collection!

Check it out!

DigBoston: BU Women’s Lacrosse Story Live

These two women’s lacrosse players may look goofy, but on the field they’re all seriousness. Read more at DigBoston.com.

I love writing about sports I’ve never encountered before. The research (i.e. reading the Wikipedia article), the preparation (i.e. watching a YouTube video or two), it all makes me feel like I’m developing further as a sports writer, not just using the same tricks over and over again.

So needing a live story for this week’s 52 Games before heading to bars for the next few weeks for postseason college basketball games, I chose BU’s women’s lacrosse game Saturday against Notre Dame.

Check it out!

Brookline High: Prioritizing Player Safety and Concussion Management

National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell announced on Oct. 18 that the NFL, in an effort to curb the large number of in-game concussions players were suffering, would take a stronger stance against helmet-to-helmet hits. The next day, three players were fined $175,000 for hits in their most recent games.

Some NFL players criticized Goodell’s decision, but brain-trauma researchers praised the move as the NFL’s first acknowledgment of the serious dangers posed by concussions.

Prior to this acknowledgment, the NFL had repeatedly denied any association between concussions suffered in play and the emotional and behavioral problems that many ex-football players reportedly suffered from. But at the high school level, schools such as Brookline High School in Massachusetts have long since accepted the dangers of concussions, and they’ve instituted comprehensive programs to properly diagnose them and manage recovery.

“We can’t stop them,” says Brookline High’s athletic director, Pete Rittenburg. “The critical thing is making sure that they’re recognized, and not letting someone return to play too soon.”

To improve concussion recognition and management, Brookline High works with Dr. Neal McGrath, a neuropsychologist whose organization, Sports Concussion New England, is based in Brookline.

McGrath says the partnership with Brookline High began during the 2004-2005 school year, a year after McGrath’s son suffered a concussion while playing football for the Brookline Warriors.

“To my knowledge, there was no school that had a comprehensive concussion management program going,” McGrath says, and he sought to create one at Brookline High. After the program’s pilot year, Rittenburg took over as athletic director.

“We sat down with him and met with him to explain what had been developed and what was available, and Pete, coming fresh into the job, was right on it,” McGrath says. “He sought the funding for it, and he’s made sure that it’s remained a priority in the Brookline athletic department.”

McGrath defines a concussion as a “mild traumatic brain injury,” and “a disturbance in brain function that is caused by a traumatic blow to the head.” McGrath says that a body blow that results in whiplash can also cause a concussion.

McGrath says that concussions usually result in a combination of symptoms that fall into one of four categories:

• Physical, including headaches, dizziness and blurred vision;

• Mental or cognitive, including memory loss and attention lapses;

• Sleep-related, including trouble falling or staying asleep and fatigue; and

• Emotional, including feelings of anxiety, depression or irritability

While physical, emotional and sleep-related symptoms are tracked using clinical evaluations and interviews, McGrath says that cognitive impairment is far more difficult to track. In order to help its trainers and team physician determine when a student-athlete’s cognitive abilities have returned to normal, Brookline High uses the Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing, or ImPACT, program.

ImPACT tests memory and reaction time through a series of computer-based tests in which the athlete is shown a series of words or designs. The athlete must then decide if a certain word or design was in the previously shown sequence or not.

Rittenburg says that all athletes playing “collision” sports – which include football, soccer, field hockey, basketball, lacrosse, gymnastics, diving, rugby, baseball, and softball – are tested before the season begins to determine baseline cognitive levels.

Alex Jzyk, Brookline High Schools’ athletic trainer, says that approximately 1,000 student-athletes play for Brookline High each year, many playing multiple sports. When a player suffers a concussion, Jzyk says, that player will usually take the ImPACT test at least three times before being cleared to play: between 24 and 72 hours after the injury, once the athlete is symptom-free, and once after exercise.

“We manage this very well,” Jzyk says. “We do it for the right reasons.”

McGrath says he focuses his work on high school athletes because there are more high school athletes than college or professional athletes, but they’re already playing with bodies strong and fast enough to cause concussions after a collision.

McGrath also stresses concussion management at the high school level because of second-impact syndrome, a condition where the brain suffers a second injury before fully recovering from the first. This causes massive swelling in the brain that can lead to permanent impairment and often – McGrath says it’s as high as 50 percent – death.

In the Fall 2007 issue of SportingKid Magazine, the National Alliance for Youth Sports said that second-impact syndrome is found almost exclusively in athletes under 18 years old.

Rittenburg and Jzyk have made sure that athletes who suffer concussions are given as much time as they need to heal. Rittenburg says that not only are athletes kept off the field until they’re symptom free, but Brookline High also excuses athletes from full academic workloads until they’re fully recovered. McGrath says pushing oneself mentally while in recovery is like running while still healing from a sprained ankle.

Brookline High pursues many avenues of educating parents on concussion care and management. McGrath has taught seminars for parents of athletes at the school. The athletic department’s website links to McGrath’s website and features a “Concussion Home Care Sheet,” designed by McGrath and Rittenburg. And, starting with the spring 2011 season, athletes will be given a packet of information to take home.

Brookline High may have been the pilot school for this organized concussion management program, but it is no longer the only one. Sports Concussion New England lists 34 youth sport programs, high schools and colleges as partners on their website. These partners include Franklin High School, the 2010 Massachusetts boys’ soccer champion, and Brookline-Jamaica Plain Pop Warner football, whose D Red Team was the 2010 state champion.

Jzyk says that Brookline High’s athletic program may not produce as many championships as other schools and programs, but their commitment to player safety is strong.

Says Jzyk, “Their safety is more important than a winning season.”