I have to stop reading these depressing articles and books about some of today's professional athletes who turn out to be less than advertised. When I was a teenager, I had dozens of sports idols—from the late Bill Sharman, to Roberto Clemente and more—in almost every sport. They were true heroes in my eyes. Now I come to today's athletes and the latest book that had my head shaking. It's called "Wheelmen: Lance Armstrong, the Tour de France, and the Greatest Sports Conspiracy Ever" by Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O'Connell. The title says it all but I recall that many Americans, myself included, who originally were not into bicycle racing, watched the Tour because of Lance Armstrong. In this book, we discover that many of the riders on many of the competing teams were into blood doping and EPO blood transfusions. Many other teams looked at it this way: if someone else is doing it, it's unfair and therefore we should also do it.
In short, all the time that we spent in front of the television set watching that race and others could have been put to better use. How depressing, and that's just one sport. I tend to believe that other sports, yet untouched by scandal, will become tainted.
I have been told that Wilde Lake High graduate Annie Leslie, who suffered a brain aneurysm in California recently, is back home and undergoing rehab. I also was told that Jeremy Downey and some of his fellow comedian friends hosted a "Laugh for Leslie" night at the Phoenix Emporium and raised funds to help defray some of the medical costs. I am hoping that people will continue to support Annie in her rehab. Anyone who would like to contribute should go to CrowdRise.com/AnnieLeslie.
I went to Atholton High School this weekend following the induction of its latest Hall of Fame class and had the chance to talk to three of the four inductees. As an added bonus, I also got to chat with one of my all-time favorite individuals and coaches, Wendell Thomas, who started the boys soccer program at Atholton and has coached lacrosse for 29 years.
The inductees I met have all done very well after leaving high school. Laurie Atherholt, who was in the Class of 1990 and who lettered in cross country, indoor and outdoor track, was the County's Runner of the Year before heading to the Naval Academy. She had just returned from Afghanistan where she was serving as a helicopter pilot completing two combat tours. The Class of 1993 was represented by another cross country and indoor and outdoor track star, Bryan Townsend, who was awarded seven Most Valuable Player awards in those sports. He is currently an Associate at Whitman, Requardt & Associates. Keith Kierzkowski (1988) was honored for lettering in football, wrestling and baseball. He was a two-time regional and state wrestling champion and is currently with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. Travis Fales (2006) was inducted after starring in football and lacrosse for the Raiders. Travis was first team All-County and second team All-State as a football lineman. He was selected to the Baltimore Super 22 team and went on to earn his doctorate of Physical Therapy at Lebanon Valley College. He is currently the Director of the Chesapeake Physical and Aquatic Therapy office in Catonsville.
If these inductees are an example of the quality of young people who have gone on to distinguish themselves in a number of different careers, than we can say that the Howard County Public School System must be doling something right.