By David Hughes
TERRE HAUTE — Don’t panic, Indianapolis Colts fans.
No, I can’t promise that Marvin Harrison’s knees will be 100-percent healed by the Sept. 7 season opener against the Chicago Bears. We’ll all have to wait and see on that.
But anyone thinking their upcoming training camp won’t stay on schedule can rest easier, Matt Sinclair told the Tribune-Star.
Sinclair should know. He’s director for recreational sports and athletic facilities at Rose-Hulman and director for all 10 Colts camps since they debuted at the eastside engineering institute in 1999.
Sinclair said recent heavy rains and flooding, which caused extensive damage throughout Vigo County, had no long-term effect on Rose-Hulman’s football facility at Cook Stadium. That includes Phil Brown Field and the nearby practice area.
“We’re right on schedule,” Sinclair emphasized Friday.
Players will report July 24, with camp to run from July 25 through Aug. 15.
Sinclair admits he was concerned about the fields when so much rain drenched Terre Haute last week.
“There’s always a concern,” he explained, “but we have a tremendous amount of drainage. Really, by the end of last Saturday, you could hardly tell anything had occurred. The practice fields have looked great.
“Really, it didn’t put us behind at all. Luckily for us, we start the preparation really early, usually in mid-May. That Bermuda [grass] had a good root stand already.”
Sinclair said he read about what happened to the football field turf at Indiana University’s Memorial Stadium, which became unplayable because of heavy rains and strong winds. “That’s an advantage of having a national-grass field [at Rose-Hulman],” he mentioned.
Sinclair said his crew is preparing pretty much the same way it would without the heavy rains — “aerating [punching holes in the ground to loosen soil and open up growing room for the roots], getting [the fields] top-dressed with sand, just the normal cutting, and making sure we stay on top of the disease control and fungus.”
Sinclair hopes we don’t get any more of the crazy rain we’ve already received this month. But if we do, there still shouldn’t be any problems at Rose-Hulman.
“These fields have such good drainage,” he noted. “They can handle torrential rains, especially this much in advance.”
After taking a quick tour of the fields before Friday afternoon’s shower hit, the only weather-related issue I noticed were some small puddles along the south sideline of the practice fields. But the grass looked neatly trimmed in all playing areas and no goal posts were floating toward Wabash Avenue.
Even though Sinclair is speaking positively about the fields and preparation for another Colts camp, he insists that he never takes anything for granted. He talks to Colts officials almost daily about the camp.
“It’s been a successful formula for them and it has been for us,” he said. “There’s no reason for too much to change. We’re just dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s.”
I I I
n Retired but not forgotten — Considering he hasn’t fought since 2001, retired Terre Haute boxer Terry Ray wondered last month why he started receiving fan mail from out-of-state people he didn’t know.
Ray, 45, eventually learned the reason. National boxing journalist Lee Groves had sparked renewed interest in Ray’s career.
Writing for the www.maxboxing.com Web site, Groves delivered an extremely well-researched article — described as a “Closet Classic” — about Ray’s nationally televised clash with Kenny Keene for the World Boxing Federation cruiserweight championship in October 1994 inside Hulman Center.
For the record, Keene won the bloody, 12-round bout on a majority decision to retain his title.
This was one of my all-time favorite events to have covered, so I hope Mr. Groves does not mind if I quote an excerpt from his entertaining trip down memory lane:
“There is, however, one category of fighter that is often overlooked — the honest workman. He is the gladiator who is not blessed with the superlative talent that attracts multi-million dollar TV contracts and the attention of Hall of Fame trainers and promoters. Though he emerges victorious time after time, the media refrains from writing stories on him because he is considered too bland. Instead, he makes do with what he has and makes the best of it.
“He is the fighter who clocks in at the gym every day and quietly goes about his business. He absorbs whatever instructions are given to him and he does the best he can within his skill set to carry them out. His greatest assets are those that can’t be seen but only perceived: Steadiness, reliability and tenacity.
“Kenny Keene and Terry Ray are two members of this proud but understated fraternity.”
If you enjoyed watching Ray box during his pro career, or even if you’re too young to remember his bouts but heard about his legendary wars in the ring, you will appreciate this article.
David Hughes can be reached by phone at 1-800-783-8742, Option 4, or at (812) 231-4224; by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.