This isn’t a real estate tip: The key to a good house is its driveway.
My parents bought an empty lot in a developing neighborhood, when our family moved from our first house. A construction crew built it from the ground, up. It’s two stories, plus a basement.
We added a sun room, years later, on top of a wooden deck I jumped off of as a kid only to knock myself out on the landing, but that’s a coincidence.
There’s a two-car garage at the end of a cement driveway that’s comparatively flat to what I deal with now, though not as level as my grandpa’s. His driveway, oh, is excellent.
I park on an incline that is at least 45 degrees, now. It’s nobody’s fault, except maybe Earth, and it makes this winter an even bigger adventure, though I contemplate using that word because it has a positive connotation.
This isn’t zip lining in Hawaii, it’s winter in author Gary Paulsen’s “Hatchet” book series and main character Brian is being attacked by a bear.
My tires go through a gauntlet to get up the driveway and every day I slide on the road I know it’s because any tread the wheels had is burned into the face of the mountain at home.
The driveway challenges me to invent new ways to conquer it and I’ve adapted. I’ll take it at a gradual angle, like a NASCAR driver making a turn at Daytona.
It’s a “Turn right to go left” kind of thing, like Lightning McQueen on dirt in Disney/Pixar’s “Cars”.
I bought a shovel last week because my common kitchen mop was bent like a hula hoop from digging my car out of a snow drift created by a plow, way back when the first snowstorm hit.
I didn’t make it out of the driveway that first day, which was fine because everything was canceled. I called Korea-bound baseball player and former Newton star pitcher Ross Wolffrom home and wrote a story.
Too often, I make it to work and games are canceled anyway. I get it. I couldn’t drive a bus in this either, not that anybody would let me try.
In high school, I asked the local hockey arena to teach me how to drive the Zamboni for a story I was writing in the school newspaper. I figured there was only so much damage I could do in a glass-enclosed circle of ice, but they figured I’d destroy the city. We never found out who was right.
The arena’s owners exercised caution then, as school administrators are now.
I’ve heard calling school is like deciding to go to a classmate’s birthday party or stay home. It’s all about who is and isn’t going and when everybody is going to the party, it’s hard not to join them — but if you can get a group of friends to join you for a movie instead, that’s an easy decision.
The first thing I should’ve done to solve my driveway riddle was buy a shovel, but that’s why I’m not a school administrator. My decisions don’t make a lot of sense, sometimes.
Altamont’s decision to play its boys game on Friday, when everyone else canceled, didn’t make much sense to me only because it was out of the ordinary.
But Indians head coach John Niebrugge’s response, on Twitter, registered with me. We tweeted at him, asking if they were still playing St. Elmo/Brownstown, and this part of his response was perfect: “Gives us something to do!”
Hey, John, it gives us something to do, too.
St. Anthony girls head coach Bart Wiedman gave me an excellent quote in early January, after three days of mass cancellations. Like Friday’s game, the night’s lone survivor, St. Anthony and Shelbyville played each other Jan. 9 as the only two area teams in action. Wiedman said his team just needed to play basketball.
The only thing I needed to do Monday, after writing this column, was get back up my driveway. I don’t enjoy it, but I always find a way to get it done.
Maybe the shovel I bought is more commonly used for scooping cow pies, but it made my driveway easier to climb. I shoveled my spot three times Friday and my arms were shaking, but it was worth it.
It’s all about getting up the mountain and staying up, and my emergency break is the strongest arm I have.
In many cases, my parents can mosey their SUV straight into the garage and I’ve never appreciated that more than when I go for a visit and my car sits in the garage like it’s wrapped in a baby’s blanket.
That’s what makes the driveway a key part of any good home. It will still be a task to get up mine this spring, but my parents will have the same, easy cruise onto theirs.
Here’s hoping the school buses share my parents’ luxury this spring. I’d rather area coaches and players worry about winning games than getting in and out of their driveways safely.
If they need tips, I got some.
Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or email@example.com.
Winter weather causing problems for teams, reporters
This isn’t a real estate tip: The key to a good house is its driveway.
Effingham's season comes to a close with 11-1 loss to Salem
A 1-0 lead for Effingham Post 120 rapidly evaporated, and the post’s Junior Legion season came to an end with a 11-1 loss in five innings to Salem Post 128 Tuesday night.
The game was for the final spot of District 23 in the divisional tournament, with Newton Post 20 and Breese Post 252 Gray punching their tickets by winning their district divisions.
Newton Post 20 falls short against Breese Gray 9-3
While the District 23 title ultimately exceeded Newton Post 20’s grasp, their season will continue in Bethalto.
Newton took on Breese Post 252 Gray for the Junior Legion District 23 title as the two division winners, but Breese’s bats proved too much for Newton in an 9-3 loss for Post 20.
“The innings where they put some runs on us, we gave them some extra outs,” said Newton coach John Grunloh. “You’ve got to make the plays when you play better teams.”
Barnes' one-hitter boosts Post 120; Effingham beats Dieterich 1-0
Ryan Barnes hasn’t seen a lot of time with Effingham Post 120’s junior legion team this season, but he showed up in a big way Monday night in a 1-0 win over Dieterich Post 628.
The win kept Effingham’s season alive one more day in the Junior Legion District 23 tournament, as the post will face Salem Post 128 at 5:30 p.m. today for the district’s final spot in the divisional round. Salem Post 128 downed Mt. Vernon Post 141 1-0 in the West Division loser’s bracket, setting up the final with Effingham today.
Newton Post 20 tops Effingham Post 120 7-5 late
Most of the games at the Junior Legion District 23 tournament have seen pitching take control, but the pitchers in Sunday night's Effingham Post 120/Newton Post 20 game faced an uphill battle.
While Brock Mammoser started the game for Post 20 on the hill and struggled, he came through with the biggest hit in the game, putting Newton up for good in a 7-5 win over Effingham.
Dieterich Post 628 eliminates Teutopolis Post 924 3-2
Errors proved to be Teutpolis Post 924's undoing against Dieterich Post 628, as Dieterich's sixth-inning rally in an 3-2 win were boosted by three Teutopolis errors
To lead off the sixth, Trenton Poe reached on an error by Brock Bueker, and came around to score on an infield single by Ryan Radloff with a throwing error on Bueker. Poe was already on third when the ball went in the Teutopolis dugout, awarding Poe home to tie the game.
Bryce McClain followed with an RBI single to score Radloff and put Post 628 up for good. Dieterich scored again on a Briar Schmidt groundout where first baseman Brant Bueker tried to get an inning-ending out at second, but the throw was wild and brought home McClain.
Teutopolis, Deters down Altamont Post 512 2-0
TEUTOPOLIS — Lucas Deters didn't get a ton of run support from his Teutopolis Post 924 teammates, but he didn't need much in a complete-game shutout, and Teutopolis ended Altamont Post 512's season with a 2-0 win Sunday afternoon.
Deters' efforts at the Junior Legion District 23 tournament kept Teutopolis alive in the loser's bracket to face Dieterich Post 628 immediately following the win.
Two-out rally pushes Dieterich to win; Post 628 beats Vandalia Post 95 4-3
Down one with two outs and Vandalia Post 95 ace Zach Schaal coming in in relief, Dieterich Post 628 had a tough task to keep its season alive.
But down 3-2, Cole Hartke and Charlie Thoele laced back-to-back singles to score Briar Schmidt and Flach, respectively, to take a 4-3 lead.
Clayton Campton held the lead in the seventh, striking out two and getting Post 95 in order to keep Dieterich's season alive.
Late Newton rally downs Robinson 4-2
Newton Post 20 rarely had an answer for Robinson Post 69's Brayden Burch, but thanks to a few key Robinson errors, Newton took their District 23 opener 4-2 Friday night.
With the game tied at 1-1 in the bottom of the sixth, Mitch Jansen led off with a walk, followed by Tim Weber reaching on an error by Robinson shortstop Zander Laino and a bunt single by Luke Geier.
Mike Carr came through with a bloop single to center, scoring Jansen to put Newton up 2-1.Burch struck out John Grunloh and Joe Stone, but second baseman Cameron Neese booted a grounder by Mitch Bierman and two more runs scored.
Teutopolis takes down South Central 3-1
Teutopolis Post 924 scored its first run two batters into the game and would never trail from there, holding off late rallies from South Central Post 519 to win 3-1 at the Junior Legion District 23 tournament Friday night.
Post 120 pulls away from Dieterich
A pitcher’s duel between Effingham’s Will Clausius and Dieterich’s Charlie Thoele broke not at the plate, but on the mound.
Tied 0-0 in the bottom of the fifth, Effingham Post 120 got its first run via a bases-loaded, two out balk. The lead would hold up as Post 120’s offense sparked, and Effingham beat Dieterich Post 628 5-0 in the Junior Legion District 23 tournament opener.
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- Effingham's season comes to a close with 11-1 loss to Salem