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Thursday, July 9, 2015: Column explains why high school sports rule

   Leading off today: At the height of the frenzy over the U.S. women's run to a World Cup crown, basketball free agency, A-Rod's latest milestones, the arrival of the Sabres' projected savior at rookie camp and the start of Wimbledon, a former colleague of mine drove home a bicycle kick, threw down a dunk, knocked one out of the park, slid a puck through the five-hole and served up an ace.

   Bob Chavez, a veteran Rochester-area newspaperman who recently look over as sports editor at The Daily Messenger in Canandaigua, wrote a column with a simple and dead-on premise: There's so much to love about high school sports.

   Chavez's column identified reasons the high school sports scene is so attractive. Some were obvious -- rivalries and proximity -- but he had some real nuggets in there that made me smile: Example:

   "Position switches in baseball. High school baseball is one of the highest levels of the game where we'll see the left fielder trot in to become a relief pitcher. That's just cool."

   You can take a look at the full column here.

   Reminder to reporters: I sent emails to a bunch of reporters across the state last week giving them the opportunity to be guest bloggers of sorts here this month. The premise I gave them was that it was the chance to be "H.S. Sports Czar for a Day," offering up suggested improvements or innovations either for a specific sport or for scholastic athletics in general.

   To date, I've heard from three folks who've said they plan to chime in. I hope to begin running their offerings next week. If there are other reporters who intend to participate, please start pulling your thoughts together.

   Progress report: I'm about 98 percent of the way through compiling results for the seventh annual NYSSWA Kerr Cup All-Sport Championship and have identified the boys, girls and overall team champions. I'm projecting announcing the results here on July 21.

   I won't let the cat out of the bag altogether, but the overall champion is a first-time winner of the award.

   Logical thought: Christ the King guard Rawle Alkins, who is one of the nation's most coveted rising seniors in boys basketball, announced last week he will transfer to an as-yet undetermined prep school because he does not want to wait for a September eligibility ruling from the CHSAA.

   New York City reporter Joe Staszewski followed up with a column saying Alkins was left with no choice, pointing out that an unfavorable ruling from the Catholic High School Athletic Association regarding his ability to suit up would have all but forced him to leave Christ the King and relocate out of state after classes had already started.

   Based on everything I've been able to dig up, the CHSAA eligibility committee would really have no precedent for ruling in Alkins' favor in September's scheduled meeting. The member schools have seemingly been pretty clear in the past that Alkins' situation -- he started a four-year eligibility clock by playing varsity ball as a Florida eighth-grader -- leaves him unable to play as a senior.

   That being said, Royals coach and AD Joe Arbitello makes a valid point. Alkins' uncertain status has been well known since early this year, so one has to wonder why the eligibility committee could not have been convened in late


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  • spring or early summer to make a ruling.

       "At least make the ruling so he wouldn't be messed up academically," Arbitello said. "If the kid waits until September, are you really doing the right thing academically for the kid? So they need to get out of the 1950s and realize this is 2015."

       Coaching change: Jose Havens will replace James Ducharme as football coach at Cohoes. Ducharme stepped down after nine seasons in a career move; The Saratogian reports he decided in December to complete his educational leadership certification, leading to his appointment as assistant principal in the Schuylerville school district.

       Exit interview: The Daily Gazette did a Q&A with ex-Saratoga Springs AD Bob Stulmaker, who is retiring as assistant director of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association.

       Passings: I haven't seen it reported anywhere, but retired Section 5 coach Vito Costanza died Saturday at age 89 of complications from lung cancer.

       Costanza won a total of eight varsity letters in three sports before graduating from SUNY Brockport in 1950. He went on to teach physical education for 35 years at Edison Tech, where he coached basketball and football for more than two decades, also coaching baseball and golf along the way.

       Costanza was also a basketball referee and worked on the original men's basketball staff at Nazareth College after the school went co-ed.

       Longtime Western New York sports figure Bob MacKinnon died Tuesday at the age of 87.

       Best known as the men's basketball coach at Canisius College from 1959-1972, he began his sports career as an all-star on championship teams in baseball, basketball and football at Buffalo McKinley. He began his coaching career at Canisius High with a 36-2 mark over two seasons at Canisius High in the early 1950s.

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