McFadden makes inspirational return to Columbia [Bits & Pieces]

Tatyana McFadden, the Columbia-raised Paralympic world champion, was in town last Thursday evening at Atholton High School to accept her plaque as one of the 2014 inductees into the Howard County Women's Athletics Hall of Fame. As expected, she — along with fellow inductee and Atholton grad Allison Valentino Fondale — received a standing ovation from the crowd.

Tatyana, who had one of the most overwhelming years of any athlete on the planet, will be heading to Sochi, Russia to compete as a member of the United States Para-Nordic Ski Team later this month.

This 2008 graduate of Atholton High School and a recent graduate from the University of Illinois has an inner drive that cannot be measured. At the age of 24, she has already beaten the odds as a child with spina bifida growing up in an orphanage in Russia and when she won her case against the Howard County school system, allowing her to compete against able-bodied athletes. She would like the term disability changed only to ability.

To add Para-Nordic Skiing to her athletic repertoire won't be an easy task, but I have learned over the years to never bet against Tatyana McFadden in whatever she decides to do in her lifetime.

Camera work pays off for Williams

There are just too many parents who do not attend their children's athletic events. They drop their children off at the gym or at the field and head off to run errands. That is not the case with Tom Williams, whose daughter — Kacy — played soccer and basketball for Hammond High School.

"I have gone through five camcorders, but I want my daughter and grandchildren to know that I am there," Williams said.

How much film does Tom have? He doesn't know for sure. But he feels that it has all been worth it. When the colleges wanted footage of Kacy playing, Hammond's Athletic Director, Joe Russo, just had to go to Tom to get the film.

We need a few more parents like Tom. Having them in the stands gives kids a bit more incentive to do well and it's always nice to see a familiar and loving face in the crowd.

Super Bowl Stinker

How many talking heads does it take to sufficiently hype the Super Bowl? For the past two weeks, we have heard countless former athletes and sportscasters explain their picks. The pontification seems to take forever. This guy can't play in cold weather, this guy is better than this other guy, this guy will do this and win the game. After all this gibberish, we end up with a non-competitive game. After a mistake by the Denver snapper on the opening play, the Broncos never got into any kind of rhythm. The game was over from the start. What a bummer.

Musselman's milestone

We have had a number of coaches who have compiled extraordinary records over their careers. One of them is Howard Community College's Steve Musselman, who, in 27 years with the Dragons, has been national Division III Coach of the Year three times. He has been the regional Coach of the Year 13 times in cross country, while his teams have won four state JUCO titles and one district title in cross country. Now we can add a high school Hall of Fame induction to Steve's amazing career.

On Jan. 18, he was inducted along with his teammates from the 1972 Bishop McNamara state championship track team. Steve specialized in the one and two-mile runs, and the distance relay events. It was the first state championship of any kind for the Mustangs.

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