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Sunday, July 12, 2015: Henninger ace re-injures eye in freak accident

   Leading off today: A Section 3 standout projected as a high Major League Baseball draft pick next spring is recovering from a freak injury to his previously injured right eye. reported Saturday that Henninger pitcher Jeff Belge underwent emergency surgery at Scottish Rite Hospital in Georgia on Friday after rupturing the globe of his right eye. It is the same eye Belge injured eight years ago when a stone shattered his cornea.

   Belge was rated the No. 2 pitching prospect in the nation by MaxPreps prior to the 2015 season. He was in Atlanta last week pitching in a tournament sponsored by Perfect Game USA. The player's father told the website Belge was wrestling in a hotel room with a teammate who inadvertently poked him in the eye. He described what happened as the eye deflating like a balloon.

   In an interview last summer, Belge said he sees little out of his right eye beyond some colors and outlines of objects. The eye has 20/300 to 20/400 vision. A doctor uncovered the bandage on Belge's right eye Saturday, and the pitcher was able to recognize some shape and movement, which his father called a "minor miracle."

   Belge will likely have stitches for two to three months. He hopes to be back throwing by the end of the year.

   Rough day for Section 3: The news of Belge's misfortune was revealed the same day that a former Syracuse-area star had his MLB season ended by a ruptured left Achilles tendon.

   Atlanta Braves closer Jason Grilli of Baldwinsville collapsed while running toward first to cover the bag in the ninth inning vs. the Colorado Rockies on Saturday in Denver.

   Grilli, 38, had 24 saves and a 2.98 ERA in his first season with the Braves.

   Done, for real this time: Johnsburg's Gene "Geno" Maiorana is retiring from his second lengthy stint as a boys basketball coach, announcing his retirement at age 75.

   In 1998, he stepped down after 20 seasons at Southold, where he taught for 34 years. After moving upstate, he spent most of the past 16 years on the bench at Johnsburg.

So what'll he be doing next winter? He'll be back at Johnsburg as an unpaid volunteer assistant to new coach Andrew Snide.

   Football changes: A pair of Section 3 football programs have promoted from within. Cortland selected 14-year assistant Pete Reif to replace David Darrow, who retired, and New Hartford opted for JV coach Kyle Hutchinson.

   Hutchinson replaces Todd Hobin, who was recently the football coach at West Canada Valley.

   Meanwhile, the new assistant at Schuylerville is hardly new at all.

   After a year away from the sport, veteran Troy head coach Jack Burger has joined John Bowen's staff at Schuylerville to work with quarterbacks, the backfield and the secondary.

   Burger spent 19 years running the Troy program before retiring from teaching in January 2014. He guided the Flying Horses to seven Section 2 titles and two state championships."

   Bowen is an established coach in his own right, and this could be a step toward a further uptick in the Schuylerville program that went 9-1 and played in a sectional final in 2014. football site

   "This is (Bowen's) program. I'm coming in to help him in any way I can," Burger said. At this point in my career, I'm just happy to get back to coaching kids."

   Words of wisdom: I've been in the sports business for more than three decades, but I haven't really accumulated much in the way of keepsakes or memora-bilia. Among the items I do treasure, though, is an autographed copy of "The Essential Wooden," which lays out lessons in leadership learned by, refined and taught by UCLA basketball legend John Wooden.

   The book, a recent gift from a friend, is 192 pages and it is literally impossible to go more than three pages without coming across a nugget worth remembering when it comes to managing players -- and lots of lessons I wish I had known in my days of managing people.

   Along those lines, John Thomson of The Journal News pulled together a pretty cool weekend feature about some Section 1 coaches who've learned that a well-timed quote or adage can capture a player's attention, teach and even entertain -- especially in this era of short attention spans.

   "It's not like I go out there and I'm Socrates," Fox Lane girls lacrosse coach Bill Broggy said. "The premise is 'know thyself;' to get the students and my players to know themselves, to know their surroundings. I bring it onto the practice field. I talk to the kids about achieving everything you can. I know it sounds crazy, but there is an application to it."

   Some of the coaches quoted in the story are people I follow on Twitter, including Bob Cimmino of Mount Vernon and Spencer Mayfield of White Plains, both of whom can turn a phrase and aren't shy about hitting the retweet button when they see something interesting.

   "Young people, much like myself, can be motivated by simple words," Cimmino said. "Not all the right words will hit all the right chords, but sometimes a sentence that I said in a certain situation will be thrown back at me 15 years later by a successful person."

   You can read the full story here.

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