TERRE HAUTE —
The last time most of us saw Steve Weatherford was Jan. 24 when he punted four times for the New York Jets against the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC championship game.
Although Weatherford averaged an impressive 51 yards per punt that day in Lucas Oil Stadium, the Colts ended up winning 30-17 to earn the right to face the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV.
Weatherford will be back in action next Saturday, but for a different reason. He’s returning to his old high school — Terre Haute North — to put on a free football camp for players in grades 9-12.
That’s right, I said “free.”
Camp activities will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. A free lunch will be provided for camp participants.
There’s that “f” word again.
“This year is kind of a trial run [for the camp],” Weatherford explained in a phone interview Friday.
“Eventually, I’d like to do two different things. I’d like to do the kids camp and I’d also like to do a celebrity dinner/auction type thing as a fundraiser someday. I’m still kicking some things around with [Vigo County School Supt.] Danny Tanoos. We might set up a scholarship fund … but I think a lot of people in Terre Haute would have a good time with it.”
But first things first — the 2010 Steve Weatherford Vigo County School Corp. All-Star Camp.
“I’m very excited about it,” he emphasized. “The guys I’ve got coming are excited. It should be fun for everybody.”
Weatherford said if heavy rain or storms hit next Saturday, the entire camp will move inside to North’s gym. He prefers to be an optimistic weather forecaster, however, predicting 84 degrees with a light breeze and no precipitation.
Camp attendees will learn about football fundamentals for various positions, weight training and conditioning, how to prepare for college football and how to handle life after football as well as receive autographs from the pros and be part of a “team picture” with the pros.
Applications for the Steve Weatherford Vigo County School Corp. All-Star Camp are available at any Vigo County middle school or high school and at the VCSC central office.
Helping Weatherford with coaching duties will be quarterback Eric Ainge and cornerback Marquice Cole of the Jets, offensive lineman Michael Toudouze of the Colts and tight end Jamie Petrowski — another North graduate — of the Carolina Panthers. Other Vigo County coaches and former players will assist Weatherford and his crew.
For more information about the camp, call (812) 462-4458.
Preparing for his fifth pro season, his second with the Jets, the 27-year-old Weatherford sounds like he can’t wait to see how the new-look Jets will perform in 2010. As most NFL fans know, they’ve added LaDainian Tomlinson, Antonio Cromartie, Jason Taylor and Santonio Holmes to an already-talented team since last season ended.
“We’ve got so many [past and current] Pro Bowlers now … it’s really exciting,” Weatherford noted. “This is the first time in the five years I’ve been in the NFL that I’ve really looked forward to training camp. I love my coach. Rex Ryan is the best coach I’ve had as far as being really good to the players. The guys on the team have a lot of respect for him.
“You look at us on paper. We’ve got the No. 1-rated defense in the NFL. But you flip over to the offense, with Mark Sanchez developing as a quarterback, and we’re pretty scary there too.”
Thinking of my upcoming fantasy football drafts, I couldn’t resist asking Weatherford about Tomlinson, who some experts think is on the decline as a running back at age 31.
“He’s a great guy,” Weatherford stressed. “I think he’s more excited about this season than anybody else is. He thinks he’s really got something to prove… I’m really fired up to see what he’s going to do this year.”
Weatherford acknowledged that the Jets are likely to pass more frequently than they did last season, but don’t expect them to copy the Colts’ offensive philosophy.
“We’re going to throw more than we did last year,” he mentioned, “but our meat and potatoes will still be shoving it down your throat [with running backs Shonn Greene and Tomlinson].”
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Weatherford says, personally, he feels great since undergoing a surgery in March in Morristown, N.J., to correct a rapid heartbeat, which was caused by a genetic condition. And even though the Jets have added another punter — T.J. Conley — to their roster, he looks forward to reporting to training camp Aug. 1 at Cortland, N.Y.
“I’ve had to compete for my job every year,” Weatherford pointed out. “It doesn’t bother me. Frankly, I punt better when there’s competition. I guess that’s what keeps me working as hard as I do.”
Weatherford said he’d like to continue playing in the NFL at least another five years and win at least one Super Bowl, preferably this season.
“This is the best shape that I think I’ve ever been in, as far as being ready for training camp,” he said. “I’ve lost 10 pounds, but I’ve had testing done that determined I actually have more muscle now than I had before.”
Weatherford admits that he still thinks about that loss to the Colts in January, but there’s nothing he can do about it now.
“At halftime [with the Jets leading 17-13], I would have bet the farm that we were going to win that game,” he said. “But Peyton [Manning] just has an uncanny ability to dissect defenses, even defenses as complex as ours is.”
Weatherford, who has a 2 1/2-year-old son (Ace) and 8-month-old daughter (Carney) with his wife Laura, also admits that he’s preparing for a players lockout by NFL owners in 2011. His family lives in New York and he leases his former home in Mandeville, La.
“I’ve got mouths to feed, but I’m putting a couple bucks aside in the event that [a lockout] does happen,” he said. “I don’t foresee it happening, but you just never know.”
David Hughes can be reached by phone after 4 p.m. at 1-800-783-8742, Option 4, or at (812) 231-4224; by e-mail at email@example.com; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.
TERRE HAUTE —
The last time most of us saw Steve Weatherford was Jan. 24 when he punted four times for the New York Jets against the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC championship game.
- Hughes News & Views
Hughes, News & Views: Odds in favor of Richard Sherman being mentioned here
I’ve explained my post-2011 NFL allegiances before, but allow me to summarize them one more time for any new readers to this column.
I eased into liking the Indianapolis Colts as my favorite team in the late 1980s. Like plenty of other Wabash Valley sports fans, I became Colts-obsessed when Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne and others turned them into an elite franchise in 1999 and the early 2000s.
When the Colts beat Da Bears 29-17 in Super Bowl XLI on Feb. 4, 2007, I yelled as loud as anyone in Terre Haute.
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When I covered the semifinal round of the IHSAA boys tennis sectional at Terre Haute North last week, it seemed like there was an empty seat in the bleachers.
In reality, I noticed few — if any — empty seats because plenty of spectators wanted to watch the host Patriots battle No. 14-ranked Terre Haute South for the right to advance to the next day’s sectional championship match.
In the end, junior Nathan Bogle pulled out a dramatic three-set victory at No. 1 singles to help South edge its crosstown rivals 3-2 on its way to capturing the sectional title.
Yet there was something missing.
The person who would have been in that empty seat I imagined, Nathan’s father Jim Bogle, had been battling cancer for close to two years and could not attend the sectional.
Sadly, cancer claimed his life Thursday morning. He was 52.
Hughes, News & Views: Doug Shouse going into ASU Hall of Honor
One thing you can say about members of Terre Haute’s Shouse family: They never have had a problem with running and jumping.
At least not until knee problems hit.
An outstanding athlete since the days I played pick-up basketball games with him and his brothers in the Terre Haute Boys Club and Indiana State University Arena gyms in the mid to late 1970s, a young Doug Shouse knew how to turn heads with his dunks and athletic fast-break moves against college guys and mediocre players like me.
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At 7 feet tall, former Terre Haute resident Greg Oden stands out in almost any crowd.
So to persuade the increasingly healthy Oden to play during the 2013-14 NBA season — for the first time since Dec. 5, 2009 — a team needed to offer something unique to stand out.
Like, say, a chance at a ring.
Enter the Miami Heat, who have won the last two NBA championships behind the “Big Three” of four-time NBA Most Valuable Player LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
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When I talk to my old weightlifting buddies around the country on the phone, through texts or on Facebook, we frequently reminisce about “the good ol’ days.”
Imagine that — guys over 50 living in the past.
Anyway, I recently discussed with Jim McCarty — who now lives in Daytona Beach, Fla. — about a “Terre Haute’s Strongest Man” contest he organized in the mid-1980s inside the National Guard Armory on Maple Avenue.
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Gather around, my friends. I think I may need an intervention.
After winning the championship game of our Tribune-Star newsroom free fantasy football league in 2003 — the first time I ever participated in the popular hobby — I became hooked on dominating as many leagues as possible.
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It’s no secret that Mark’s Par Three is not the most difficult golf course in Vigo County.
But it’s enjoyable for beginners and golfers of modest skill levels and it doesn’t lack for activity during warm-weather months.
Open since 1964, it’s had its fair share of players test their skills, probably several better than 43-year-old Brian Brown of Terre Haute.
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One previous time, I believe, my annual May questions column ran one day late into June.
Can you forgive me for this being the second time?
With apologies out of the way, below are questions that have been taking up valuable space in my head lately.
Some are serious, some not so much. Most are sports-related, but don’t blame me if a few are not. After all, newspaper sportswriters don’t eat, sleep and breathe sports 24/7 (contrary to what my Lisa might tell you).
Here we go:
• How funny will the reaction of the national media be when the Indiana Pacers knock off the unbeatable Miami Heat tonight and Monday to take the series and head to an NBA Finals showdown with the San Antonio Spurs? Hint: Several ESPN “experts” will need to change their underwear next week.
Hughes, News & Views: Terre Haute runner sets up race to help Boston
Having competed in the Boston Marathon once before in 2003, 35-year-old Majel Wells of Terre Haute thought she should give it another try in 2013.
“My goal was just to finish and enjoy Boston,” she reflected this week. “I had an injury [runner’s knee] beforehand, so I wasn’t too worried about beating my time from 2003 [4 hours, 10.20 seconds].
“But nobody cares about what your time is at Boston anyway.”
From what I’ve heard over the years, she’s right. Unless you’re a super-serious runner, the Boston Marathon has been more about taking in the atmosphere and having fun than placing in the top 50, although Wells was pleased that she beat her previous time by finishing in 3:55.19 on April 15.
Obviously, her race time wasn’t the most vivid memory that Wells took away from her 2013 Boston experience.
Hughes, News & Views: Former South players to play in Saylor benefit game
I had my first phone conversation with Mike Saylor since mid-February on Thursday and he sounded good.
The former Terre Haute South High School boys basketball coach, who’s been battling cancer this year, has been traveling back and forth to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston for chemotherapy treatments.
Recent South swimmers Roach, Bray heading to DI nationals
I’m sure most of you with office jobs can relate.
When work gets busy, sometimes it’s easy to skim over our emails. After all, how many times do we need to read the same nonsense from alleged Nigerians wanting to make us rich if we’ll send them several thousand dollars first?
So after having three consecutive days off, that almost happened to me when I returned to work Tuesday. Then I realized that the message from Jeff Thompson, Terre Haute South High School’s boys and girls swimming coach, contained significant news.
NCAA Division III basketball tournament returns to Rose-Hulman
The last time Rose-Hulman served as host for the NCAA Division III men’s basketball tournament, its game was played inside an old World War II airplane hangar.
You “old-timers” should know the building I’m talking about and the matchup wasn’t really that long ago — March 6, 1997, to be exact.
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When I learned in February 2009 that a rare form of appendix cancer would devastate my life and cause me to miss work for several months, Mike Saylor was among the first to offer assistance.
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Now might be too late for giving Christmas presents, but the book “Trophies and Tears: The Story of Evansville and the Aces” is a fascinating read for longtime Indiana basketball fans, particularly those older than 40.
Written by award-winning Kyle Keiderling of Henderson, Nev., and released in hardcover format in mid-December, the 480-page “Trophies and Tears” documents the rich tradition of the University of Evansville men’s basketball program through recent interviews and research of old yearbooks and newspaper/scrapbook clippings.
The book contains many cheery moments — behind-the-scenes details of all five NCAA College Division (now known as Division II) championships won in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s by the Purple Aces and their legendary coach Arad McCutchan — although some of those moments don’t seem so cheery from an Indiana State perspective when the Sycamores found themselves on the losing end of scores.
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There’s plenty of tragedy in the world to bring us down if we let it, so let’s have a light-hearted column today — my annual Christmas gift requests for Santa Claus.
I already know one of my gift wishes is becoming less likely to happen. That would be for the Indianapolis Colts to face the Denver Broncos in the AFC playoffs.
Colts' loyalty tested by Manning, Broncos
We’re approaching the halfway point of the NFL season and so far it’s been surprisingly enjoyable.
I wasn’t sure how I would handle following two favorite teams — 1a.) the Indianapolis Colts and 1b.) Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos — but the new arrangement hasn’t caused me any loyalty conflicts yet.
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My name isn’t attached to them, but I’m the one who usually puts together the “Sports on the air” television/radio listings that appear daily on this newspaper’s Scoreboard Page.
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If Kylie Hutson were a cross-country runner, she’d be approaching the final stretch of her biggest race in about three weeks.
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Bryan Egli and Joe Puthoff, both Rose-Hulman basketball starters I covered in the late 1990s, took their degrees from the prestigious engineering institute and found successful careers in the Indianapolis area.
Egli, also a former West Vigo High School multi-sport standout, lives in Carmel and works for Thieneman Construction in Westfield. Puthoff lives in Indy and works for Rolls Royce Aircraft Engines.
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Almost 10 years ago, February 2002 to be exact, the New England Patriots upset the high-powered St. Louis Rams to win Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans, the Winter Olympics entertained spectators in Salt Lake City and Terre Haute South High School’s girls basketball team started its tournament run toward a Class 4A state title.
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Last week, I was all set to beg Santa Claus to give the Indianapolis Colts a certificate good for one NFL regular-season victory.
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