His Job Remains a Kick

HORSESHOE BAY—Phil Dawson, who has been a field goal kicker in three different decades—college and NFL—did a superb job of stitching life’s lessons inside a pro football career, March 2, at the Horseshoe Bay Sports Club.
Candor was abundant, as the former Longhorn (mid-to-late 1990s) indicated not every NFL player hums the Nationwide tune.
“There’s a lot of insecurity,” said the 41-year-old Dawson, who recently re-signed for a fourth year in San Francisco. “You better show up and play. It’s intense; there’s anxiety and stress.”
The man who kicked a memorable, 50-yard, game-winning field goal—against a 30 mph wind—to beat Virginia, 17-16, in 1995, insisted, “There’s a lack of professionalism and drive among many players.”
He also handed out this statistic: “310,000 kids were on the gridiron as seniors in high school last year. 1.6% will make it to the NFL. Not one percent will last to Year Four to qualify for a pension.”
Phil Dawson also had these thoughts:
“Fundamentals are essential; not glamorous, but you {should} never graduate from fundamentals.
“Most people are not true to themselves in pursuing excellence.
“There will be setbacks.” Dawson went undrafted in 1998, but his dedication has resulted in a near-two-decade stay. “How do we respond to setbacks? Great ones choose not to lay down.
“Gifted people make it all look easy,” but, “no one will out-work grinders. They love pursuit, sacrifice, and commitment.
“Pursue excellence one day at a time—one kick at a time.
“Jim Harbaugh {former 49er head coach}: most competitive man I’ve ever been around.”
Stats: Dawson kicked 29 field goals in a row while with Cleveland; his club-record mark in San Francisco is 27.
Dawson made an interesting point when he said he thought kicking in big games would be a bigger deal than in the regular-season contests, but, “It wasn’t different; I’m zeroed in on every kick; nothing changes.”
I asked the second oldest man in the NFL—fellow kicker, Adam Vinatieri is 43—how long can he go? How does age affect kickers? “A touchy question,” he replied. He acknowledged you can do this longer than you can last in other positions. “Age is not as big a deal.” And he told his audience he practices a lot, 75-80 boots a day, and stays in shape.
Dawson also enlightened us with a comment about a statement we all declare from time-to-time, concerning certain field-goal attempts: “You never hear a kicker say it’s a chip shot. Trust me.”

It Happens Every Spring

I’ve written this commentary before, and I will be glad to stop the repetition if someone would listen to me!
The general theme is: the baseball season is too long; the specific subject today is Spring Training, the main culprit.
Are you going to tell me it takes four or five weeks to get ready for the 162-game endurance test? Does it take that long to hit .242 or author a 5.44 earned run average? 109 batters—a little over three a team—hit above .249 in the major leagues in 2015. Thank you, ESPN.com.
What would the .250s have hit if they had “only” two weeks in the sun in Arizona and Florida? .246? Lorenzo Cain of Kansas City—with that month’s preparation—posted a .307 average last season: fifth best in the American League. .307 has always been good, but Top Five?
Don’t tell me these guys don’t come to official workouts in pretty good shape with plenty of cage-work or throwing and catching the ball between late October and March 1. What else did they have to do in the offseason? Practice law—their second job?
Also, it has dawned on me after watching baseball for more than six decades, you get three or four at-bats a game and maybe several defensive chances unless you’re a pitcher or catcher. Don’t you think the offensive guys could take 14 days batting practice—facing some hard throwers—and get in dozens of swings a day? And infielders/outfielders could take a ton of ground balls, line drives?
One big problem is I imagine the folks in Arizona and Florida do not want any reduction in Spring Training, which would cut into their hotels’ $250-a-night income and all the other money made off tourists.
Make it up to them in some way: MLB could offer a special payout to the states.
Here’s where a two-week preseason could help. You also cut the regular season back to its old (traditional) 154 games and put on some double-headers, and you’re close to a season ending around Labor Day. You can’t get a legitimate champion in that length of time?
The World Series might end near October 1. That’s BEFORE college and pro football really heat up. Opinion: no one really cares about baseball once football begins except the fans in cities where their teams are in contention. Yes, baseball would be hurt in September—but NOT in October, too.
You know what? Maybe those .235 hitters would realize they have less time to beef up that average so they might work harder. Maybe .245 would become a real possibility.

Rhett Weaver is safe at second in action at home against St. Anthony of San Antonio. The Jackets had a rough visit to Wimberley last weekend, losing three-out-of-three games.

‘The Colors are Changing!’

I’ve written this before, but my attacks were on Texas and Texas Tech. I didn’t like the Longhorns wearing black on the basketball court, and I really didn’t like seeing Tech in all that gray in football.
I’ll bet Chris Christie will get back into the GOP presidential-nomination race and then beat Hillary Clinton, before Texas wears black at DKR Texas Memorial Stadium. I never understood why anyone would think black looked better in basketball or croquet than burnt orange—when black is not your school color.
Anyway, moving on, my latest target is a school I like just a bit: Baylor. I saw the Bears lose to West Virginia in basketball recently.
I could handle the defeat, but those lime-yellow “did you see my highlighter?” uniforms, that look like the color belongs as a topping to some foo-foo dessert, were awful! I know this is nothing new. Okay, it’s been awful for a while.
Baylor could wear a sharp-looking gold on the road or a dark green. Would look excellent. This lemon-lime mixture is a bad imitation of the Crayola usage on an Oregon jersey, another Green & Gold school gone nuts.
Can you imagine dressing the Yankees in purple and red? The Cardinals with vultures on their bats? Cleveland in beige and orange instead of one of my all-time favorites: deep Brown and Orange?
Jack Nicklaus should have been allowed to wear a $6 T-shirt at Augusta. Tiger Woods would have been a great representative of an American at St. Andrew’s by wearing an Uncle Sam cartoon at a British Open. Maybe Sam could have been saying, “We want you—and your Jug...ha ha, ha...”
Makes as much sense as these new-look team uniforms. New-look is actually a ridiculous description. Sometime, between 100-162 years ago, schools voted on colors, and they’re supposed to keep those—or, if they want to change to black or lime-the-loser, please let us all know.
What’s next? Changing the school song? Maybe Adele would loan A&M, “Hello,” or an easy one would be, “I Walk the (Good Old Baylor) Line.”
Notre Dame could chunk “Cheer, cheer for....”, and use, “Dome, dome on the Range.”
We’ve got a lot of work to do to satisfy everyone who loves different colors, so set up some committees at your favorite school. Don’t worry how radical the possibilities may seem. Who knows what will work: light cyan, lemon meringue, liver chestnut, or plain-old, but deceptive, violet?
Red & White and Blue & Gold are out. Our slogan for this mission: “We’re going to paint the town Aquamarine!”

Dalton Dewveall has had quite a successful senior year: football, tennis, and, oh, yes, powerlifting.

Strength Makes a Statement

Strength Makes a Statement

Dakoda Trull deserves a grimace or two after the weight he pulled off the floor throughout the winter of 2016.

One Jacket is heading to state, and two who missed were also outstanding in the Powerlifting Association, Region II, Class-4A Meet, March 12.
“Great accomplishment,” declared head coach Clint Easley. A robust nine from Llano made it to the prestigious event at Robinson High School near Waco.
Dalton Dewveall, who plays a bit of tennis—see Spring Sports Special—and football, achieved one of his major goals. In the 132-pound class, he lifted 390 pounds in the squat; 210, bench press; and 410, deadlift. The 1,010 total—his PR—earned him the silver medal, and he qualified for the final competition next month.
On January 14 in Burnet, after winning the first meet of the year, he told me, “I gotta go to state.” Dalton was third in region in 2015, which wasn’t good enough to advance.
Dewveall’s biggest moment before Saturday was hoisting a thousand pounds for the first time in Lampasas, January 21. “I wanted it and had set that as a goal,” and he danced and hugged his way through the Badger gymnasium.
Christian Rodriguez’s superb year ended with a third-place finish at Robinson in the 165-pound division. His squat total was 500; 295 in bench; 465, deadlift. 12-60 total.
Dakoda Trull (242 category) also claimed a bronze medal at region with maybe the best-ever grab in Jacket school history: 1,385 pounds. 590-295-and-500 were the lifts.
Just a sophomore, he told me in Burnet, the reasons behind his success: “Hard work and dedication. If you are willing to put in the work and have the ability, skill, and mindset, anything is possible.” A Class Act is no act.
“Heartbreak for those two kids {who were third},” admitted Easley. “So close.”
The Llano boys finished seventh in a field of 25 schools. John Heflin, Colton Center, Nolan Keller, Quint Pincelli, and Brent and Mason Greenwood also pulled their weight—and a lot more—in the Region II gathering.
Dalton Dewveall is the last man standing in Black and Orange, but both the boys’ and girls’ teams had great campaigns.
Emily Ozanne and Meredith Moore, March 3, claimed bronze in their regionals, while Felicia Perez was fifth.
Easley, in four years here, has certainly strengthened the program. If there were a weight for success, it’s over.

Special Victories

The Llano Special Olympics Yellow Jackets participated in the 2-day Special Olympics Basketball Tournament, March 4 and 5 in San Marcos. The event brought together students from elementary to high school from schools across Central Texas. The team participated in unified basketball where half the team has special needs, and the other half can assist and play with them. Others participated in the Individual Skills Competition.
This year was Llano’s first time to compete in the Unified Team division. The team plays full court 5-on-5 basketball. The team took home a bronze medal, and each player received a medal.
Team members included Jima Johanson who scored well in every game, Selena Blaise who managed the ball well, Jhalil Amos who was excellent in her defensive strategy, Marcus Collum who could reach over everyone and take the ball, and Jesse Burkes who brought the ball down the court well. Llano’s unified partners included Cody Clough, Marina Kingery, and Emily Ozanne.
The focus is on providing opportunities for the kids. It’s not only a great opportunity for special needs’ students but also for the partners (the general education athletes). It allowed students with intellectual disabilities to represent their schools in a way that couldn’t, before this team was established.
Ashton Brown and Angelo Crott competed for the first time, and both brought home Gold in their Individual Skills’ divisions. Mary Shafer also earned a gold in her division. Mitch Dunn and Tristan Inge earned silver.
The athletes will take a couple of weeks off and then begin preparing for their Track and Field competitions.