Finn's Files: Triway softball, Waynedale baseball do the extraordinary

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Triway celebrates its state title.
Triway celebrates its state title.

Capturing a state championship is a monumental feat, but to have two teams from neighboring school districts do it in the same season is extraordinary.

Hats off to Triway and Waynedale, where state championship trophies in softball and baseball, respectively, now rest in the lobbies of the two schools.

Winning a state title requires immense talent, great leadership, clutch plays, and just enough good fortune. Oh, and let’s not forget about the coaching. Teams don’t win state championships unless their coaches are on top of their game. In the case of these two teams, Ron Rock from Triway and Lucas Daugherty from Waynedale skillfully guided their squads to the top of the mountain.

Waynedale's first base coach and Connor Gatti celebrate Gatti's game winning hit in the 8th inning of their 2-1 win over Milan Edison in a Division III  State Championship game on Saturday, June 11, 2022 in Akron, Ohio, at Canal Park.
Waynedale's first base coach and Connor Gatti celebrate Gatti's game winning hit in the 8th inning of their 2-1 win over Milan Edison in a Division III State Championship game on Saturday, June 11, 2022 in Akron, Ohio, at Canal Park.

As a result, the players, coaches, and fans of these two programs will forever be remembered in Wayne County sports history, and even as their trophies gather dust, the memories of what they accomplished and what it means to be No. 1 will never fade.

Comeback Kid

Multiple Media Outlets, including CBS Sports, are reporting that Urban Meyer will return to the college coaching ranks — sooner rather than later. The thought is he will “rehabilitate” his image as a television analyst before jumping back into the fray.

The prevailing sentiment is that Meyer will not want to be remembered for his disastrous season in Jacksonville, so anything he can do to repair his image would seemingly be a priority for him.

As for suitors, there is no limit to the number of schools that would be willing to take a chance on a three-time national champion coach.

Glass House Under Siege

The old saying that “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” may become a haunting refrain for legendary Alabama football coach Nick Saban.

With the advent of the name, image, and likeness (NIL) opportunities for formerly amateur athletes, more and more schools are able to do what Alabama and many other schools have allegedly been doing for years.

Even during my days as a student at the University of Pittsburgh almost 50 years ago, there were whispers of cash being passed to collegiate athletes through handshakes and in shoe boxes, and the practice probably dates back much further than that.

So, what’s the big deal? The practice of compensating amateur athletes is now legal and out in the open (although some programs will undoubtedly continue to look for other ways to gain an advantage surreptitiously), but the good news is that this might level the playing field, and that is a plus for competitive balance and the overall fan experience.

Game Changer

Deion Sanders has been described with variety of adjectives during his career as an athlete, media contributor, and now collegiate football coach. The most familiar, of course, is “Primetime,” which dates back to his playing days in the NFL, but there’s another popular cliché that might be even more appropriate — game changer.

He was certainly that during his years as a defensive back, most notably with the Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Cowboys, and as an outfielder with the Atlanta Braves, (sometimes, famously or infamously, playing both on the same day), but now as the head coach at Jackson State University, an HBCU (historically Black college or university) football power that had lost its edge in recent years, Sanders has turned the Tigers into a high-profile program, which is beginning to attract some of the nation’s top talent, including his son, Shedeur, and five-star recruit Travis Hunter.

Can Deion change the landscape of collegiate football? Why not? After all, he is the only athlete to have played in a Super Bowl and a World Series. He’s high-profile guy with a perpetual supply of swagger. It will be interesting to see what his team can do with major college talent, but if one day the Tigers find a way to unseat some of the traditional football powers, Neon Deion won’t be reluctant to reprise his familiar dance.

Mental Health Malaise

We tend to think of athletes, especially those at the professional level, as being infallible, but the recent troubles affecting former Cavalier Delonte West is just another argument to the contrary.

West, who has battled substance abuse and mental health issues throughout his life, was recently seen panhandling outside of a 7-Eleven Store in Alexandria, Va.

Clearly, anyone can be a victim of these maladies, regardless of how much money they may have made as a professional athlete.

Kevin Love courageously came forward to discuss his struggles a few years ago and put things in perspective for all of us when he said, “everyone is going through something.”

West’s dilemma and Love’s declaration give us all the more reason to stop bulling others on social media (or anywhere else for that matter) and start supporting one another, especially those who are having a difficult time.

Evenly Matched

The most recent edition of Sports Illustrated (yes, I still read the print version) broke down the closest and most lopsided rivalries in professional baseball, basketball, and football.

Not surprisingly, Cleveland showed up more than once. The Guardians and Tigers have met 2,271 times, and Detroit holds a narrow, one-game edge (1,136-1,135), which is truly amazing.

Equally unsurprising is the fact that the Browns are on the short end of one of the NFL’s most lopsided rivalries. What is surprising is the team that has the edge over them — the traditionally weak Detroit Lions, who hold a 16-5 advantage over the Browns in that series.

On the bright side, Cleveland leads its all-time series with the Atlanta Falcons, 12-3. Maybe Jimmy Haslam should petition Commissioner Goodell to swap the Ravens with the Falcons in the AFC North.

Currying Favor

Steph Curry elicits a range of reactions regarding his style of play and demeanor on the court. Some fans love him, some can’t stand him. But one thing cannot be denied: He is a winner.

With four titles in the past eight years, Curry and his supporting cast, which includes a shrewd front office and a generational head coach, may remain atop the NBA hierarchy for years to come.

Foul Language

Profanity continues to be a topic of debate in professional sports. Some say it is part of the game, others argue that it sets a bad example for young athletes.

I am firmly entrenched with the latter group, not only because of its unsavory influence on others, but also because it accomplishes absolutely nothing.

There’s no evidence to suggest that athletes who swear have more success than those who don’t, so why not clean up your act and clean up the game in the process.

This article originally appeared on The Daily Record: Column: Triway softball, Waynedale baseball's feats will be remembered