Sunday, February 26, 2017

Texas College and University Basketball Arena Rankings - 2016-2017

Four-Year Colleges
1.  Texas A&M University (Reed Arena)
2.  Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (American Bank Center)
3.  McMurry University (Kimbrell Arena)
4.  St. Edward's University (Recreation and Convocation Center)
5.  University of Incarnate Word (Alice P. McDermott Convocation Center)
6.  University of Texas-Dallas (UT Dallas Activity Center)
7.  Southwestern University (Corbin J. Robertson Center)
8.  Trinity University (Sams Gymnasium at William H. Bell Center)
9.  University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley (Sam Williams Court at UTRGV Fieldhouse)
10.  Hardin-Simmons University (Mabee Complez)
11.  East Texas Baptist University (Ornelas Gymnasium)
12.  Texas Wesleyan University (Sid W. Richardson Center)
13.  Texas A&M-Kingsville (Steinke Physical Education Center)
14.  Our Lady of the Lake University (Mabee Gymnasium at University Wellness and Activities Center)
15.  Jarvis Christian College (Rand Gymnasium)
16.  Dallas Christian College (Gymnasium)

Two-Year Colleges
1.  Lee College - Baytown (Lee College Sports Arena & Wellness Center)
2.  Lamar State College - Port Arthur (Carl A. Parker Multipurpose Center)
3.  San Jacinto College - Central (Anders Gymnasium)
4.  Angelina College (Shands Gymnasium)
5.  Weatherford College (Graber Athletic Center)
6.  San Jacinto College - North (Nichols Gymnasium)
7.  Blinn College - Brenham (Physical Education Building)

Sunday, February 19, 2017

San Angelo to Abilene to Fort Worth; February 19, 2017

Open weekends are fun.  That's actually a code word for "challenge".

So many options.  Not enough time.

One that popped up late in the week was that the top two men's NCAA wrestling teams were facing off in a dual meet in Stillwater, Oklahoma -- #1 Oklahoma State and #2 Penn State.

I couldn't figure out how to squeeze in a race and make it there before tickets went on sale for remaining seats at 1 p.m.

There were 5Ks on Friday afternoon on the Baylor campus and Saturday evening on the Texas A&M campus, produced by student organizations.

However, it was that Saturday race.  I really like to try to race in some place new.  Haven't been able to make that happen in four weeks.

As far as seeing a collegiate contest, the intrique of knocking out two arenas in four hours in Abilene was the most enticing.

Question turned out to be:  What was I going to wrap around it?

Had great Tuesday and Wednesday evenings this week, but Thursday night was the culmination of an emotionally crappy week.

I ran at the track and saw both of my good friends, Jim and Leanne Rosser.  Jim actually walked a mile with Mary Carter, while his wife, who's training for this year's Boston Marathon, knocked down seven.

Both nights included great dialogue and banter with my best friend - besides my daughter, Bill Dwyer.

Wednesday evening, I went to a reception that was being held at Whole Foods Market for USATF 100-mile National Champion Ronnie Delzer, who ran 13 hours and 44 minutes at Rocky Raccoon two weeks ago.

Then I went to hang out at the track and bantered a lot again with Bill and Layton Gill.

After talking with Layton, it seems like my trip planning has rubbed off a little bit on him!

Like I mentioned earlier, Thursday just totally sucked.

I definitely wanted to try and make sure that I was in church on Sunday morning, regardless what else I did during the trip.

A long walk Thursday evening, though, cleared up a lot of things.

Well, long, that is, for chilly temperatures walking The Woodlands Waterway.  While it wasn't any more than about 47-48 minutes, it was enough.

I had some work functions that I needed to attend to Friday morning.

I rented a car again to keep miles off of my car, this time from Enterprise close to the house.  However, I couldn't get on the road until about 12:15 p.m.

My plan was three baseball games, two basketball games, one race and one church service.

Because I didn't take the toll road in Austin on 290 and 183, it slowed me down a little bit as I ventured west to San Angelo.

Google Maps showed just under six hours, but I didn't pull onto Knickerbocker Road until about 6:35 - 6:40 p.m.

Lubbock Christian was playing at Angelo State and they were playing a doubleheader.  I could see the lights on, but I first needed to charge my phone (because my cigarette lighter charger wasn't working in the rental car that didn't have a USB charger).   Crazy iPhone5 that I have.

So I went to Chick-Fil-A to eat and charge the phone.  It wasn't enough.

So I literally drove a very short distance down Knickerbocker to the Fairfield Inn that I was looking at staying, went into the lobby with my laptop and made a reservation.

I checked in and continued to wait for my charge to complete enough to boot the phone on.  At this point, I just decided to forget the baseball game and get the rest I needed to run the Shannon Trail Race Series #3 15K at Burkett Trailhead State Park in San Angelo State Park.

The alarm was set for 6 a.m., but I was starting to toss and turn at 5 a.m.

I made it to the Park and was registered by about 7:20 a.m.

It was a little chilly so I decided to stay with my white long-sleeved USA Space City 10-Miler technical shirt and over top my blue Lunar Rendezvous Run tech shirt.

They had a trail briefing that said that the 5K course was about 3.45 miles and that the 15K would likely be about 9.8 miles.

The 5K didn't start until about 8:05 a.m. and then the 15K was 10 minutes later.

The trail set out before us was probably 30% technical, mostly rocks and/or gravel, 65% dirt or packed dirt trails and then another 5% park roads.

Maybe even less than five percent, actually.

They also told us that the water stop would be at about 4.5 miles and then there would be another one about two miles from the finish.  And the suggestion was made to carry water.

I had hydrated through the night pretty well and had downed most of the bottle of water, but I decided not to carry it.

We hadn't made it a mile and not only did we see a pretty big sized longhorn, but a cyclist came up behind a group of five of us that were trailing one section of the 15K.

He wasn't looking to try and get by us or anything, but after learning that I was new to the area he told me about the first technical section of the trail called "Playground".

More importantly, he also told me that when we got to Bell's Point that there was city water there.

By the time I got there, he was actually there and then I saw him at another spot before I made it to the 4.5-mile aid station.

There were lots of places to run, but also some challenging sections.  Nothing totally insurmountable, though.

My biggest fear was, of course, snakes.  It is why I tried my best to keep moving and not to walk too much or too long.

All was good.  I covered the 9.8 miles in 2:07:27 - so somewhere a little over 12 minutes per mile.

Given that it was a smaller field in the 15K, I might have placed in my age group, but I didn't stay as my plan was to be able to leave Abilene by 11 a.m.

I saw the cyclist, walked over, extended a hand of thanks and thanked him for being out there for me.  It literally felt as if he was an angel out there to watch over me.

That race was one in my 127th Texas city or town and 65th different Texas county.  I'll add another next Saturday in Victoria.

I got on the road for Abilene no later than 11:10 a.m.

You go north through Bronte, which I stopped at a Stripes store to grab a quick lunch to eat on the way, and then on into the city.

It was pretty easy to keep it at 75 miles per hour most of the way.  Only saw one DPS officer.  They had somebody else stopped.

What's neat about making the drive to these locations is that you see road signs to towns that you've only previous known because they play Texas high school football.

I ended up arriving at McMurry University before the National Anthem at 1 p.m. to see their women's basketball team wrap up the regular season in the American Southwest Conference against Concordia University (Texas), from Austin.

I left at about 2:40 p.m. to be able to make the short drive to Hardin-Simmons University.

I could have ended up staying as the women's game between the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and Hardin-Simmons had gone long.

The men, though, eventually got their game started and blew through the first half.

And even though HSU had overcome a 10-point plus deficit to tie the game and take a brief lead, I left at 4:40 p.m. to be able to make the short drive to Abilene Christian to catch a baseball game there.

It was a very short drive.  Even shorter than it was from McMurry to Hardin-Simmons, but finding a place to park was another story.

I ended up parking on the far west side of the track and field stadium.

To get to Crutcher Scott Field, you have to walk by the new 8,500-seat football stadium that will bring football back on campus for the first time since 1942.

Michigan State out of the Big Ten was in town to play Abilene Christian.  They had won on Friday night and then the first game of a double-header earlier in the afternoon.

I sat for an inning or two on the Michigan State (first base) side of the field and then stood up near the top of the bleachers.

While there, a gentleman noticed that I was wearing my Liberty University baseball hat and asked if I had gone to school there.  I replied, "No, my daughter will be walking in May."

He had played college basketball, he said, with one of Liberty's former men's head basketball coaches, Randy Dunton.  I had known an individual, Stephon Leary, who coached for Dunton during his second stint at Liberty.  (Leary also played basketball for the Flames.)

I talked with him and another father of a Michigan state player.  One of their sons played second base and the other played right field, I believe.

Great conversation and was glad that I engaged.

It got to be about 7:05 p.m. and I was beat.  I went to the hotel, checked in, then left to go get a bite to eat and got to bed around 11 p.m.

I realized Saturday evening that the Penn State at TCU baseball game had been moved up from 12 noon to 11 a.m.

This meant that I needed to find a new church to attend on Sunday morning.  I had originally chosen Alliance Baptist Church, which is affiliated with Baptist Bible Fellowship International (BBFI), but with the time change I then selected North Fort Worth Baptist Church.

They had a worship service that began at 9:30 a.m. and it was a traditional service, meaning a choir, organ and sing out of the hymnals.

I set the alarm for 5:45 a.m., with a goal to be out of the hotel no later than 6:30 a.m.

I achieved that goal and had time to grab a little breakfast at McDonald’s.

I pulled into the parking lot a little after 9:20 a.m. and once inside, I was greeted by David White, who gave the opening welcome comments.  He saw my Liberty shirt and we traded some pleasantries about the University.  I was warmly welcomed for being in attendance, which I appreciated.

The church was in the middle of a series of sermons and this week’s was that “Saved people serve people”, which I believe to be true and something that believers should strive for daily.

I try to and believe that I succeed a fair amount of times.

Getting to Lupton Stadium wasn’t too bad as I got onto 35W and headed south to Interstate 30.  I exited off on to University Drive and went south to Berry Drive where I went west.

I had to park along the street in front of some homes west of the track and field stadium and walk all the way around to behind the dugout.

A lot of beautiful upgrades had taken place there I learned over the last 3-4 years.

TCU, of course, was at the College World Series again last year before losing to Coastal Carolina for one of the teams that made it to the Finals.

By the time I got inside Penn State was up 2-0 in the first inning.  TCU had won the first two games of the Series on Friday and Saturday.

And by the time I left near the bottom of the fifth inning, TCU had gone ahead 6-2 before Luken Baker, who hit 11 home runs in his freshman season a year ago after coming out of Conroe Oak Ridge, launched a shot just to the right of the scoreboard in left to left centerfield.

I made it home by about 5 p.m., got a bizarre text, spoke with my daughter for about an hour and 20 minutes and then visited my parents, grandmother and nieces before coming home to finish this blog post.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Texas College and University Basketball Arena Announcer Rankings - 2016-2017

1.  Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Women's  (Extremely professional.  Handles all facets very well.)
2.  University of Texas-Dallas Women's  (Great voice.  Professional.  Nothing alarming or annoying.)
3.  University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley Women's (Another incredible voice and great talent.  Pretty solid atmosphere; he just oversells it sometimes.  Needs to say first and last name of the opposing player when they score a basket, even if understated.)
4.  University of Incarnate Word Women's (One of the best natural voices I've heard all season, but he doesn't need to scream at times and "Cardinals Basketball", like "Aggies Ball!" is annoying until you can tune it out.)
5.  Texas A&M University Women's (Really, really good.  Excellent balance in his voice inflection for both teams, but the "Aggies Ball!" call is more annoying than Dave South himself.)
6.  Dallas Christian College Women's (Solid voice.  Does everything that you expect from an announcer.  Balanced.)
7.  St. Edward's Men's (Excellent voice.  Handles all of the calls well.  Actually, I don't think he ever announced who scored a basket for either team, which is not always a bad thing.  Needs to learn how to not sound like he's reading from a script at times that he is/was.)
8.  Texas Wesleyan Men's (Solid voice.  Very, very professional.  Basically wasn't even aware of him even though he checked off all of the important boxes.)
9.  Texas A&M-Kingsville Men's  (Great voice.  Over-the-top on player introductions and a few home team basket calls, but otherwise balanced and professional.)
10.  San Jacinto College - Central Men's  (Yoeman-like work.  Sound wasn't loud enough at times, but the young man is everything you'd expect from a solid announcer.)
11.  Our Lady of the Lake University Women's  (Strong voice.  Solid announcer.  Only announcer I've heard all year mention their name and that they were the "Voice of the ..."  As I was told once before, "Your job is to inform.  You are not the show.")
12.  Blinn College (Brenham) Men's  (Solid voice.  Over-the-top on player introductions, but nothing else detracts from an acceptable performance.)
13.  Southwestern University Women's (Clear voice.  Checks off all of the professional things you do as a basketball public address announcer.  Acoustics aren't the best in a great facility.)
14.  Angelina College Men's (Really good voice.  Just inconsistent on what is and isn't announced.  Therefore, hard to follow.)
15.  Lee College (Baytown) Men's  (Strong voice.  The acoustics in an otherwise beautiful facility don't help him; doesn't seem to adjust to that fact.  Hard to understand, as a result, at times.)
16.  Trinity University Women's  (Solid voice.  Just could hardly hear him.)
17.  San Jacinto College - North Women's (Solid voice.  Same thing as Trinity.  Could hardly hear him and he only made pre-game introductions and an announcement at halftime.  Believe he doubled as the official scorer.)
18.  Lamar State College-Port Arthur Men's  (Excellent voice, but doesn't announce everything and hardly anything for the opposing team.)

A.  Weatherford College Men's (No announcer.  Actually not a bad thing.  Better than a bad one.)
B.  Jarvis Christian College Men's (Actually no announcer.  There were player introductions, but they were using a Fender Sound System from a corner of the gym and you really couldn't make out a thing that was said.)

Unknown:  East Texas Baptist University Women's  (Actually.  Not even sure there was one!)

Busy February Weekend; February 13, 2017

I partly scheduled myself a busy weekend these last couple of days so maybe this coming weekend I’ll take break.  (Don’t put any money down in Las Vegas on that chance though.)

I’ve been working on trying to see many of the different Texas college basketball arenas or gymnasiums this season, which started in early November.

And, of course, as long as I’ve been running, I like to race in different cities – Texas or elsewhere.

When I can combine the two, I consider it a bonus.

The lynchpin to the trip was a race that was brought back after road construction cancelled it – the 11-Mile Race from Kilgore to Longview.  It was on Saturday morning.  (I’ll do a race report on a separate blog.)

I was able to get a hotel room at the Fairfield Inn on points for Friday night that ended up being about four miles or ten minutes from the race’s finishing location in Longview.

I had also noticed that Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, west of Longview, was hosting a basketball doubleheader against LSU-Shreveport.

Additionally, I realized that I could make it over to Marshall after the race and see a game at East Texas Baptist University.

Then I needed to be able to make it back to race announce the Galveston Marathon for the sixth time in seven years.

A friend of mine texted me over the weekend and said, “Lots of driving.”  (Yes indeed.  831 miles.  And I didn’t put them all on my car.)

I picked up a rental car from George Bush Intercontinental Airport location Friday afternoon and headed north up through Huntsville, Trinity, Crockett, Palestine and Tyler.

I made it to Hawkins (which is due north of Tyler) at about 6 p.m. and stopped to eat at the first local place that I saw, Richie’s Grill.  The game would start at 7:30 p.m.  I, therefore, had plenty of time.

When I travel, I like to eat at local, non-chain restaurants, if I can.  Sometimes I’ll use something like Yelp or Foursquare to look for places, but this choice was sight unseen.

I had an enchilada plate.  I’ve had better and much worse.  The waitress was friendly, the service was prompt and those both worked for me.

Pretty good basketball game as LSU-Shreveport’s men defeated Jarvis Christian.  They were favored, led most of the way and were pushed at times by Jarvis Christian.

It was the 25th college basketball game that I witnessed this year – all in different gymnasiums or arenas.  All but five of them were in facilities that were new to me.

It was about a 40-minute drive east on State Highway 80 over to Longview.  I checked in the hotel around 10:30 p.m., worked on the information that I needed to announce the Galveston Marathon on Sunday and went to bed around midnight.

I was up at 6 a.m. and out the door to the race location by 6:30 a.m.

I had a good race.  Saw Steve Allen from the Seven Hills Running Club in Huntsville and June Harris, a friend from Houston who does many of Robby Sabban’s Running Alliance Sport races.  I learned that she was from the Longview area originally.  I had seen her name in the race participant list online before the race so it was good to visit a little that morning.

I got some breakfast at Chick-Fil-A in Longview.  (Ugh.  They gave me the senior discount for the gray hair at the temples.)  And then was on my way to get showered, checked out, over to Office Depot to get my materials printed and laminated and on the road to Marshall.

I missed the first 45 seconds or so of the women’s basketball game between the University of Texas-Dallas and East Texas Baptist University.

On the way into the arena, there was a college baseball game about to get underway and in the parking lot there was a van from Centenary College of Louisiana.

The son of our church’s associate pastor just signed a letter of intent to play baseball at the NCAA Division III school next year and I texted my long-time friend, the associate pastor, to share.  (He already knew that they won Friday’s opener, 10-0 – which didn’t surprise me.)

Basketball contest No. 26 was a little sloppy.  The University of Texas-Dallas got up by about 20 early and then the margin didn’t change much the rest of the way.

I could have actually gone to two more games in Tyler at Tyler Junior College (at 4 p.m.) and Texas College (at 7 p.m.), but it would have made for a rough drive home when I had to get up early to make the trip to Galveston.

I headed home, got to The Woodlands around 7 p.m., stopped and got something to eat, made it home, loaded my vehicle with my speakers and such and was ready to go to sleep by 9 a.m.

The alarms were set for 3 a.m. and the goal was to leave by 4 a.m.

I don’t think I really ever got to sleep until about 10:30 p.m.

I was able to leave on-time, but I didn’t get to Stewart Beach in Galveston until about 5:45 a.m. as I took a detour – via 225, 146 and NASA Road 1 – to get around a complete closure of I-45 just south of Beltway 8.

I put in eight hours of work announcing the race and left Galveston at approximately 2:10 p.m.

Way, way too many stories to tell in the context of this post.

I had been invited to a friend’s birthday party, which was in the Clear Lake area.  There was no way I was going to show up in the condition that I was in.

So I drove all the way to Spring, arriving at 3:55 p.m., showered, took care of an item or two and was back on the road before 5 p.m.

I had mapped things out with Google Maps before leaving and found a little bit of a different route to where my friend lived, but I still didn’t get there until 5:55 p.m.

I had asked my daughter to change the time of our weekly Sunday night phone call from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. so that I could be there for a little bit and then step aside to talk to her.

There were some running friends that were at the party and I kind of stayed close to them for the first 25 minutes or so that I was there.

My friend started to introduce me to some of the others that were there.

It is funny.  I’m an introvert -- and in a fairly big way.

Am I uncomfortable in some of those settings?  I can be.  My friend told me later that they could see it.  Yikes!  

However, I do fairly well in making connections with people and establishing an even give-and-take with people to kind of share the conversation.

I think it worked fairly well though, but I tend to pick my spots.

It turned out to be a good evening.  I’m glad I went.

I had considered not going just because I’m not always the best in some of those situations.

Even though I can handle myself very well in front of large crowds announcing and produce in both my career field and outside of work, I don’t consider myself to be as “world cultured” as everyone else.

I watch very little television as I just feel like I have so many other things that I can be doing.

I’ve been trying to read more, especially since I have a lot of alone time.  But there’s just so much that I’m not “up on”, which leaves me at a disadvantage in some social settings.

I’m a simple person, plus an introvert likes to control their surroundings and use their alone time to recharge which, for me, includes documenting life like I’m doing now.

On the bus ride from the finish in Longview to the start in Kilgore, I positioned myself in the middle of the bus.

No sooner was I seated there was a group of runners, mostly women, that talked the entire 11-mile, 25-minute ride and at times loudly.

My senses were screaming at me when I got off the bus in Kilgore.

However, my friend made an effort to invite and include me – without pushing me.  I felt it was important to honor that.

I’m the type of individual that if you press the issue – even if you really enjoy my company (which I’m honestly flattered by) – I will recoil.

I think it all worked out good though.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Kicking Off February; February 1, 2017

Haven't written in a little while and not sure how much I will or want to share.

Still working through some things that are challenging to me.

As I shared from earlier in the month, I've really changed my incoming Facebook news feed.

I've disconnected from a few, unfollowed nearly everyone and have been unliking pages that I'm just not getting anything from.

Have also started to do the latter from Twitter too.

Unfriending.  Touchy subject, I suppose.

Outside of work, I'm involved in event production, specifically and primarily races (i.e. 5K's, 10K's and the like).

There was an event that I ran its first year and then announced its second and third year.

This race took place this past weekend, but I never heard from the event producer at all -- even after e-mailing them.

Thankfully, I don't need the money.

And my ego doesn't need to announce that race, specifically.

I just felt that after I took the courtesy to confirm whether or not they needed me that it was reasonable to expect a confirmation of some type even to say, "You suck.  You're really not that good!"

It was sad.  Disappointing.  Common courtesy gone out the window.

In that case, I simply disconnected.  There's a couple events later in the year that I'll have to work with them, but I'll cross those bridges when I get there.

The other is just a little strange for me.

It involves a woman.

Nothing has happened, nor will there ever be likely.

I didn't ask for it, but was given a phone number.

I've texted about once a week, had a short 7- to 10-minute exchange and the conversation draws to a close.

I never push any of it further, but communication is never initiated from their direction either.

Just too one-sided for me.

If you want just friendship, text me.  How else will you get to know me, even as a friend?

It tells me that you don't want anything more out of it, which is cool with me.

However, I'm losing or have almost lost all interest, even in just being communicative.

It's a shame.  They're a very intelligent and beautiful woman and I kind of feel like I'm playing out of my league anyway.

But I don't even know if any of that is why they gave me their number.

Thing is, I won't see them in person for quite some time as they've shared their race schedule through mid-May on Facebook and what I'm doing just won't overlap.

Oh well.  They flattered me by getting three pictures with me - one in October, one in November and the final one at the Expo in January.

I'm thankful for that, and always will be.

I have flaws just like everybody else.

Question is, can somebody understand them, look past them or help me with them?

Maybe there's nobody and if so, I'll continue to figure out the rest of life by myself - and some great friends who already, and easily, make themselves known and real to me.

More to come, I suppose, and thankful to God for every day I've given, even if I spend a good bit of many of those days by myself.