Things learned, observed in Humphreys Blackhawks athletics
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer marvels at how Blackhawk Nation is soldiering on in the face of adversity:
-- Their cross-country coach, Mitchell Moellendick, calls the building of start-up Humphreys sports teams a “work in progress.” School opened Monday, temporarily quartered in the old unit school because the new high school isn’t yet ready. A tennis coach has yet to be named. Volleyball tryouts began Wednesday under the watchful eye of Ashley Gooch, Taegu American Class of 2005 and the boys volleyball head coach; girls coach Faye Hobson is away on emergency leave. Powers of attorney and physicals are still pouring in from prospective athletes.
-- But despite the adversity the school has faced in getting off the ground, there are signs of progress.
-- After fielding anywhere from six to eight players per day at two-a-day football practices, coach Tim McDaniel reports the Blackhawks are now up to 21 on their roster, with more expected. Humphreys will play what DODDS Pacific calls a non-varsity schedule, as will neighboring Osan and Matthew C. Perry of Japan, which would permit seniors to suit up for all three teams; if they called them junior varsity, seniors could not.
-- A great many former Osan students who live on Humphreys now don’t have to commute the 45 minutes to Osan Air Base and back. Osan no longer needs to use activity buses to cart students home to Humphreys, a relief to both schools and their administrations.
-- Great to see Moellendick back in a high school after three years of opening Casey Elementary up north. Moellendick was the heir apparent as the resident track and field expert in the Kanto Plain while at Zama prior to Casey. Provided he is named track and field coach, Moellendick can convey his vast wealth of knowledge and expertise at Humphreys’ new regulation eight-lane track. It’s only one of two regulation tracks on bases in Korea (the other at Casey’s Schoonover Bowl), and Humphreys will likely host all four DODDS Korea track meets next spring.
-- Great to see Gooch back at a DODDS school after starting much of the four seasons she played basketball for her mother and Taegu American athletics director Michelle Chandler. Now, Gooch becomes the coach and teacher. “I’m excited … It’s going to be different,” she said. Her Blackhawks play Osan on the 11th and Seoul American and her old school, Daegu, on the 13th and 14th.
-- Were the football team to be playing a varsity schedule and Stripes would preview them as they normally do varsity teams, this is what their team capsule would look like:
Camp Humphreys, South Korea
Head coach — Tim McDaniel, first season (assisted with Taegu American in 2006).
Key performers — Osie Cruz, Jr., RB-DB; DaQuan Wilson, Jr., RB; Austin Rudd, Jr., FB-OG; Manasseh Nartey, Sr., HB; Alex Fisher, Jr., OG-FB-LB; Brandon Williams, So., QB-LB (transfer from Louisiana).
Strengths — Decent backfield. Good core of seven diligently recruiting more peers. Unity, coachability, accountability.
Drawbacks — Same as you’d have with any first-year program. Small size and inexperience in the line on both sides of the ball.
Overview — Just starting up.
-- Blackhawks football will likely join the Far East Division II ranks next season as a full-fledged varsity team. I firmly believe that a year or two years from now, when Blackhawk Nation is firmly entrenched and the campus and its sports teams begin to thrive, all the growing pains will somehow be forgotten. Good luck, Blackhawks!