Sports

Sussex Riptide athletes hold bike regatta ahead of Special Olympics race

Coastal Point photos • Shaun M. Lambert: Sussex Riptide, a group of Sepcial Olympics Delaware participants, and the Ocean View Police Department took part in a bicycle regatta, traveling through Bear Trap Dunes in Ocean View on Thursday, Sept. 21.Coastal Point photos • Shaun M. Lambert: Sussex Riptide, a group of Sepcial Olympics Delaware participants, and the Ocean View Police Department took part in a bicycle regatta, traveling through Bear Trap Dunes in Ocean View on Thursday, Sept. 21.Before the Special Olympics Cycling Classic at Dover Air Force Base on Sept. 23, Sussex Riptide athletes gathered at the Ocean View Police Department for a pre-race hurrah.

“This is a nice cooldown before the Dover race. When they get there, they’re amped up and ready to do — whereas this is more of a social event,” said Riptide coach Adam Rones.

“They all enjoy it — it’s a fun day for all of them,” added coach Tony Gough.

The athletes, with a full-blown escort from the Ocean View Police Department, pedaled from the OVPD all through Bear Trap — about a 45-minute ride — before returning to the police department for a celebratory pizza party.

“I like it,” said athlete Jillian Calanna, 23, who also participates in tennis and bowling. “I like being with the athletes and socializing.”

Saturday's Tour de Sussex offers a scenic county bike tour

Enough with the cars — try seeing Sussex County by bike.

The fourth annual Tour de Sussex returns on Saturday, Sept. 23, at 8 a.m., rain or shine. It’s sponsored by Delaware Technical Community College. Proceeds will provide scholarships for Workforce Development students.

Indians fall to Polytech, 39-21

Coastal Point • Susan Walls: An IR runner hits the gap to gain some yards in 39-21 loss to Polytech on Friday, Sept. 15.Coastal Point • Susan Walls: An IR runner hits the gap to gain some yards in 39-21 loss to Polytech on Friday, Sept. 15.A week after their 21-20 surprise season opener victory over Caravel Academy in the Blue/Gold Kickoff Classic, Indian River’s varsity football found themselves 39-21 prey to the Polytech Panthers last Friday at home. The Panthers’ special teams scooped up the opening kick off and returned it to the Indians end zone. A swift extra point kick gave the Panthers an early 7-0 lead.

IR’s punt return team quickly answered with their own punt return and kick, tying it seven all with 7:59 minutes remaining in the first quarter. The Panthers’ punt-return team got them to mid-field for the start of a tie-breaking drive that ended with senior wide receiver Douglas Reed grabbing a pass near the end zone that he carried across the goal line. The extra point kick split the goal posts giving the Panthers a 14-7 lead.

The Panther offense got another six points, but missed the point-after kick. With 6:50 remaining in the first half, IR scored on another punt return and point after, making it 20-14 Panthers — where it stayed until the first half expired.

6th annual first responders triathlon hits Bethany this weekend

Coastal Point • File Photo : Bethany Beach FIrst Responders Tri-Du-Aquabike partcipants learn to enter and exit the ocean during training for the event back in 2013.Coastal Point • File Photo : Bethany Beach FIrst Responders Tri-Du-Aquabike partcipants learn to enter and exit the ocean during training for the event back in 2013.Athletes of all age and skill level will descend upon Bethany Beach this weekend for the 6th annual Bethany Beach First Responders Tri-Du-Aquabike.

The event was created to support the first responders of the Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Department.

“All the proceeds go to the Bethany Beach first responders at Station 70,” said Race Director Rick Hundley, noting the event has raised close to $100,000 since its inception.

While the event itself will take place on Sunday, Sept. 24, with transition area opening at 5:30 a.m., activities will begin this Friday with a welcoming party at The Starboard in Dewey Beach.

Dont’ give up on Pickleball

There have been some — not many — folks who took pickleball lessons but later slowed down their participation. When I spoke with them, I mostly heard expected answers: a new grandchild, a pulled muscle, etc. But several told me that they didn’t feel they were getting any better, or were not athletic enough.

IR surprises CR in varsity volleyball, 3-2

Special to the Coastal Point • Bruce Walls: Siera Johnson blocks a shot.Special to the Coastal Point • Bruce Walls: Siera Johnson blocks a shot.A young Indian River High School girls’ volleyball team opened their 2017 season by surprising an older, more experienced Caesar Rodney team, 3-2, on Tuesday, Sept. 12, on their home court in Dagsboro.

IR took the first set 25-19. CR, who had beaten Concord High School the prior Friday night, responded with a 25-21 win in the second set. IR fought back, winning the third set 25-19. CR held on, winning the fourth set 25-18, but IR sealed the win in the final set, 15-13.

Leading the Indians’ charge was freshman Raychel Ehlers, who was 14-4-0-4-0 for the night.

“I’m proud of the way we played tonight,” Ehlers said. “It was our first game of the season, and we came out strong. I knew I did good and hit the ball hard, but it was a team effort.”

So when did it start and what’s with the pickle name?

Special to the Coastal Point • Vaughn Baker: The Ocean View Crew’s Steve Melofchik gets ready to hit a serve from behind the baseline.Special to the Coastal Point • Vaughn Baker: The Ocean View Crew’s Steve Melofchik gets ready to hit a serve from behind the baseline.This year is the 50th anniversary of the first pickleball court, and the 2017 tournament in Ocean City, Md., celebrated that event. Here are some lines from the poem to honor that event:

It was the year 1967, we all were feeling GroovE…

The hippies created their very own lingo,

The words of which never appeared in bingo,

Hippies had their own symbol, the famous Peace sign,

Which they stole from England, too stoned to self design,

Spent much of their time in flip-flops at 9th Street in the sand,

Listening to great music like Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Hello GoodBye, Penny Lane,

Strawberry Fields Forever, All You Need Is Love, all hits main…

The first permanent pickleball court was built, the game itself two years before,

Only the Lord above knows where and why they came up with the pickle score

With taste of playoffs, Indians hope to rise even higher

Coastal Point photos • Shaun M. Lambert: An Indian River player takes a shot after winning control of the ball.Coastal Point photos • Shaun M. Lambert: An Indian River player takes a shot after winning control of the ball.Last year's Indian River High School field hockey team advanced to their first DIAA tournament appearance in 10 years, then lost a thrilling 2-0 game to defending state-champion Cape Henlopen. This year the team is aiming even higher.

The Indians were expecting back seven starters from last year's team, and coach Jodi Stone is banking on that experience and white-hot momentum to take the team to greater heights this season.

Their first home game is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 12, at 4 p.m., against Woodbridge.

Indians look to rebound

Coastal Point photos • Shaun M. Lambert: Matthew Allender gives a stiff arm and makes a cut during a run against Sussex Tech on Thursday, Aug. 31.Coastal Point photos • Shaun M. Lambert: Matthew Allender gives a stiff arm and makes a cut during a run against Sussex Tech on Thursday, Aug. 31.The Indian River High School football team, under coach Phill Townsend is looking for a fresh start this season.

Last year's team finished a disappointing 2-8, after starting things off with high hopes for competing for a Henlopen South title. The team did continue to battle through the very end of the season, fighting hard against rival Sussex Central, before falling 54-21.

The Indians' first home game will be Friday, Sept. 15, at 7 p.m. against Polytech High School.

Hitchens taking second-generation racing to the next level

Coastal Point • Tyler Valliant: Scott Hitchens shows off his car before racing in the Big Block Modified class for the first time on Wednesday, Aug. 30.Coastal Point • Tyler Valliant: Scott Hitchens shows off his car before racing in the Big Block Modified class for the first time on Wednesday, Aug. 30.Sometimes kids watch what their parents do and then go off and do something completely different. And sometimes, like Scott Hitchens — who spent much of his childhood watching his dad, Greg Hitchens, race cars — they feel the pull to do those same things themselves.

At 24, Hitchens is at the top of his game in the Short Track Super Series class, in which he has been driving the No. 15 car — sponsored by his dad’s business, Millsboro-based Greg Hitchens Enterprises. He is poised to be the top points winner in the class when the season wraps up later in the fall.

“I’ve pretty much got that wrapped up,” he said without a trace of braggadocio.

Maybe that’s because Hitchens has already started a new challenge, where he’s no longer the top dog. On Wednesday, Aug. 30, he raced in the Big Block Modified class for the first time, driving the No. 65 car, sponsored by Blades HVAC, at the Georgetown Speedway.

Adams earns $2,200 at Cody Hopkins Memorial Race

Special to the Coastal Point • Bruce C. Walls: Stephen Adams (far right, holding trophy) celebrates his winnings.Special to the Coastal Point • Bruce C. Walls: Stephen Adams (far right, holding trophy) celebrates his winnings.Stephen Adams, of Four Oaks, N.C., made another profitable trip to U.S.-13 Kartway in Delmar, Del., on Friday, Aug. 25. This time, he fattened his wallet with $2,200 in purse earnings during a special memorial race for Milton native Cody Hopkins, who died in a June 19 auto accident. Earlier this year, during the first of five ‘Battle at the Beach,” races this season Adams had pocketed $3,000.

Hopkins’ parents and other family members attended the race. Before the features started, his father, Bill, honored his son’s memory by driving Cody Hopkins’ #27 kart five times around the 1/8-mile dirt oval.

“It means a lot to me to have all these people here tonight,” Hopkins said, choking back tears. “We used to race every Friday and Saturday night. We started out in Big Block Modified. We got out of that and started racing karts with the kids. It means a lot to me to come back to this community and the racing aspect of it. My nephew races here, and it’s great — it’s just great to have all these folks here tonight.”

Pickleball Points — Pickleball from Delmarva to Mars

Coastal Point • Submitted: Dom Travaglini hits a shot up the middle against Suss-exfactor.Coastal Point • Submitted: Dom Travaglini hits a shot up the middle against Suss-exfactor.Whenever I teach a new student to play pickleball, I first ask then what sport they previously played, because it helps me explain pickleball to them in terms they already understand. I also sometimes ask about their profession, because an artist processes information differently than an engineer.

When Dom Travaglini moved to Fairway Village and was learning pickleball, I asked him his profession. Wow — he was an honest to goodness rocket scientist and was responsible for the mechanics of providing continuing power to the Mars Rover.

But when I asked Dagsboro’s Captain Dick Carl what he had done in his career, it was certainly an eye-opener when the retired master-chief explained he is still employed as a paddlewheel riverboat captain. Captain Carl pilots the paddlewheeler the Dorthy Megan from Suicide Bridge near Hurlock down the historical Choptank River, which you might know because James Michener centered it in his book “Chesapeake.”

Pickleball Points — Performance at the championship level

Whenever I teach a new student to play pickleball, I first ask then what sport they previously played, because it helps me explain pickleball to them in terms they already understand. I also sometimes ask about their profession, because an artist processes information differently than an engineer.

The word ‘competition’ gets a bum rap

Coastal Point • Submitted : Multiple gold-medal winner Georgia Billger recently managed the successful Cucumbers & Pickles event for First State Pickleball Club, to help novices advance their game.Coastal Point • Submitted : Multiple gold-medal winner Georgia Billger recently managed the successful Cucumbers & Pickles event for First State Pickleball Club, to help novices advance their game.Like each of you, I have my pet peeves. Of course, it is appropriate that I rename them to “Pickle Peeves.”

It astounds me when people say they are not competitive, or don’t like competition. I don’t know where the word “competition” got such a bad rap. Was it with no-scoring baseball?

I am glad my mother did not try to protect me. It is from rejection and sport losses that I learned to train harder and learned to think more creatively in overcoming obstacles.

My major life lessons came from or were reinforced by competition in sports, where I learned how to self-evaluate and minimize or overcome my weaknesses, and I learned how to win and lose gracefully. Most of these skills I took forward with me into the military and then the business world.

I know that competition against top talent in a tournament venue helps me significantly raise my level of play. The win itself is secondary — simply a grade on my report card. In fact, it is so secondary that I can hardly remember the score afterwards. For me, it is the matching of skills, wits, focus and experience.

I once asked Wimbledon champion Arthur Ashe if he remembered playing me in a very long exhausting match in the Maryland State Championships when we were kids, and he quickly said, “No.” I suddenly felt shorter than my shadow, and it must have been apparent. Ashe, ever the gentleman, said, “But how many wins do you remember? I remember my losses.”

I think part of the problem stems from how you approach competition. I never feared playing some whirlwind hotshot. My losses did not devastate me. They were a rude awakening to where I needed to improve.

SODE athletes enjoy classic summer-camp experience

Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: Special Olympics Delaware Summer Camp attendees try their hands at archery.Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: Special Olympics Delaware Summer Camp attendees try their hands at archery.Approximately 120 Special Olympics Delaware (SODE) athletes from across the state were able to enjoy a classic summer-camp experience this month at Camp Barnes near Bethany Beach.

“This is the 17th camp,” said Jon Buzby, director of media relations for SODE, who also helped start the camp. “When we started it 17 years ago, we developed it to truly fit into our mission, which is sports training. So, the athletes, when they came here, we did sports — we did volleyball, we did soccer, we did bocce, we did basketball. Everything we did was something they trained and competed in during the year.

“As time went on, what we realized is we were limiting the population that could come to camp because it was so strenuous, as the sports we were offering were more of our high-level sports. “

Buzby said the change-over to the typical summer experience was gradual, but while it was happening, the camp also grew.