By Terry Schwinghammer
Shifty Tyler Meurer busts a move during the Wabash Valley All-Star Game. Meurer and Miner teammate Avery Gentry will represent Linton in the IFCA North-South All-Star Classic July 14 in Indianapolis.
Once spring sports season wraps up many sports fans - and sportswriters too - are starved for action.
But there’s plenty going on in the summer months to whet the old appetite until the next school year and fall sports season begins anew.
Since I started writing for the Greene County Daily World in August of 2014, I’ve covered three First Financial Wabash Valley Football Coaches Association All-Star Classics.
And I must say it’s become one of my favorite events to cover.
It’s a fun week for the players and coaches alike. WVFCA President Greg Barrett and All-Star Game Director Tom Jones do a bang-up job of putting on a first-class production.
The All-Star game itself is a showcase of the best graduating senior talent in the Wabash Valley. For those who won’t be going on to play at the next level it’s a chance to “pad up” one last time. And for many, it’s their first crack at the “big stage,” cavorting on the field turf at Indiana State University’s Memorial Stadium.
And they play a pretty good brand of football too at the WVFCA All-Star Classic.
Yes, everybody plays. But, everyone’s good and has earned the right to be there. The 2015 game was the first WVFCA All-Star Game I’d covered. And I thought it was the best high school game I’d ever seen to that point - a back-and-forth affair that came down to the very end.
And it’s not your typical All-Star game where they don’t play a lick of defense.
Granted, with a short week to prepare the offense is always ahead of the defense. But it isn’t like the NFL Pro Bowl, where nobody hits anyone, or the NBA All-Star game, where nobody guards anyone…
Both of which I find unwatchable…
Or the Indiana basketball All-Star exhibitions, where the Junior All-Stars outscored the Indiana All-Stars 122-110? Who scores over 100 points in a high school game, unless it’s against a vastly inferior opponent?
For the players selected to participate, All-Star week is a week of team-building, camaraderie and new friendships formed. And it’s neat to see all these players from different schools come together as a unit as I have witnessed.
And to a man, the players agree it’s a fun week. The practices are less intense than their regular season practices.
But that doesn’t mean the players and their coaches are any less serious about winning.
Admittedly my interest in the annual midsummer showcase of gridiron talent stems from the fact the Linton Miners have been well-represented throughout the history of the Classic.
Buy hey, we are a local interest publication…
And two Miners still have another All-Star Game to play.
The Indiana Football Coaches Association has selected Linton-Stockton football players Tyler Meurer and Avery Gentry to represent the South All-Star squad in the 51st Annual IFCA North-South All-Star Classic.
The All-Star Classic will take place Friday, July 14 at Indianapolis North Central High School.
It is the first time Linton-Stockton has ever had two players represent the school in the All-Star Classic.
Meurer and Gentry become the fourth and fifth Linton-Stockton players to represent the school in this prestigious event.
Dylan Morris was the third. Morris was an offensive lineman for the South All-Stars in last year’s Classic.
Adam Brewer was a member of the South All-Stars for the 2006 All-Star Game. John Turchi played in the inaugural event in the Summer of Love, 1967.
In addition, Linton-Stockton coach Brian Oliver was appointed head coach for the South All-Stars.
Obviously the Linton Miners have gotten people’s attention throughout the state.
There has been no shortage of summer basketball shootouts since the school year ended. In fact there have been so many I can’t keep track of them all.
A shootout falls somewhere between an open gym and a regular game. It’s more organized and more competitive than an open gym. But it isn’t as structured as a regular-season high school game.
In a shootout teams from opposing schools scrimmage each other. The teams play two 20-minute halves with a running clock until the final minute.
The shootouts give players a chance to see how they might stack up against the opposition in the coming winter. And the format provides coaches with a useful tool to evaluate their players’ progress over the summer months.
But it isn’t a comprehensive look. Many multi-sport athletes are involved with football workouts or travel baseball and generally participate in few, if any of the shootouts.
Which brings us to the subject of travel baseball…
When I attended the Miner Shootout June 20 I Tweeted, “Football yesterday, basketball today.”
The previous day I’d been to the first practice for the Wabash Valley All-Stars.
Steve Fields - who many of you know - replied to my Tweet, saying, “But it’s baseball season!”
Several Greene County high schoolers are competing for various travel teams this summer.
Shakamak’s Lane Gilbert and Linton’s Cory Anderson are playing for the Indiana Prospects 16U Smitherman team.
Linton’s Kip Fougerousse is playing for the Prospects 15U Hinds team.
Fougerousse’s team is playing in the PG Super 25 National Championship Saturday, July 1 through Thursday July 6 in Ft. Myers, Fla. Fougerousse is the starting pitcher for Saturday’s tournament opener.
White River Valley’s Brayton Cornelius is playing for Indiana Nitro 17U Gold team.
Cornelius’ Nitro team is also competing this weekend in the WWBA National Championships in Atlanta, Ga.
The Indiana Nitro organization is based in Zionsville.
Those are the only area players I’ve been able to find travel team information for.
My colleague Andrew Bowen was asking me not long ago about the local Babe Ruth teams. Andrew seemed shocked when I told him Babe Ruth baseball no longer exists, at least in Greene County - as far as I know.
It’s nearly impossible to field a competitive Babe Ruth team when many of the area’s top players are suiting up for travel teams.
Andrew then asked, what about the kids who can’t afford travel ball? Great question.
It is an expensive proposition, what with the fees to sign up and the travel to places like Ft. Myers and Atlanta.
I guess the only alternative is American Legion baseball.
I do know Jasonville has a Legion team this year. Last year they didn’t.
Post 172 out of Jasonville is comprised mostly of younger Shakamak players.
I have not heard anything about any other Legion baseball teams in Greene County. And I know Andrew has been trying to track down information.
So if anyone out there knows anything, please keep us posted!
Terry Schwinghammer is a sports writer for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at (812) 847-4487, ext. 27. He can also be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.