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June 13, 2018     The Monroe County Reporter
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* orter June 13, 2018 PLAY HARD HAVE FUN ENJOY THE GAME F R 0 M T H E | When I was a student at UGA, I took a French class in which a test question involved writing a paragraph in French about what historic sporting event you wished you t been able to attend. For that test, I recall selecting the famed 1982 U.S. Open golf duel between Jack Nicklaus and eventual champion Tom Watson along the cliffs of scenic Pebble Beach that occurred two years before I was even born. But in hindsight, there was another famous sporting event in Northern California earlier that same year that I easily could have chosen. The date was Jan. 10, 1982, and the place was gusty Candlestick Park, located at the former site of a landfill along the west shore of the Frisco Bay in southern San Francisco. The event is simply known as "The C " atch, and the man who became a football legend that day died on Monday, June 4. Dwight Clark and I had just two things in common. We're both 6'4", and we're both from the South. But beyond .that, Dwight Clark experienced a life that few others could even comprehend. 7. Clark, a lanky 10th round draft pick out of Clemson in 1979, not only became a San Francisco 49ers football superstar, but he won two Super Bowl rings, was best friends with arguably the biggest sports icon of the 1980s, Joe Montana, and once dated Miss Universe. After retirement in 1987, the two-time Pro Bowl receiver settled in to a nearly two-decade career in NFL front offices, including three more champion- ships while working for the Niners. But Clark's great fortune changed dramatically over the past decade. A real estate investor late in his life, Clark lost much of his wealth in the 2008 housing bubble crisis while also enduring a divorce from his wife of nearly 25 years. While Clark built back his savings and eventually remarried, it was in the past two years that he faced the toughest setback of his life. Clark announced in March 2017 that he was suffering from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), better known as Lou Gehrig's Dis- ease. Many people first became aware of the incurable motor neuron disease when the great Yankee slugger Gehrig fell ill in the late 1930s. Others learned of it for the first time just four years ago when the ALS research organizations raised money via the viral Ice Bucket Challenge. Despite millions of investment in research to find a cure, sadly there's still not one. And as a result, Dwight Clark died at 61 from ALS complications on June 4. Clark's legacy reaches far beyond football. Univer- sally beloved in NFL circles as one of the most genu- ine, gregarious athletes ever, superstar teammates like Montana and Jerry Rice weighed in with tributes to Clark on June 4. But one other one piqued my interest as well. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, perhaps the greatest football player who's ever lived, posted an Instagram message about Clark on Monday. Brady, a San Mateo, Calif. native, noted that he attend- ed the Niners' 1982 NFC Championship Game against the Dallas Cowboys as a four-year-old, crying because he couldn't see the field over the standing Niners' fans. Brady even said he met Clark a few years later in a Bay Area orthodontist office, shaking his hero's hand. Few sports venues have ever been as maligned as San Francisco's Candlestick Park. With its swirling winds, poor water pressure, intense fog and uneven playing field, in many ways it was a professional sports nightmare. But outside of the old Yankee Stadium, I'm not sure there's been an American sports venue in the past century that has given sports fans as many lasting memories. Legendary wordsmith Rick Reilly once said the Stick was "a 70,000 seat toilet stall where Picassos hung." And the greatest "art" ever exhibited in Candlestick was that created by Dwight Clark on Jan. 10, 1982. When Joe Montana and his sidekick Clark arrived in San Francisco in 1979, it was fitting that the lowly 49ers played their games on a dump site. But their arrival occurred in tandem with that of new head coach Bill Walsh, whose wide-open West Coast offense would soon take the stolid NFL by storm. It was in 1981 that Walsh's vision would take shape, led by his unassuming star quarterback and his sure-handed wide receiver. After losing two of their first three games, the Niners reeled off 13 wins in 14 contests, setting up a home NFC title contest against the hated Dallas Cowboys. Trailing 27-21 with 58 seconds left and facing 3rd- and-3 at the Cowboys' six-yard-line, Walsh called a play known as "Change Left Slot -- Spring Right Option" Clark, who was supposed to reverse his path to the right corner of the end zone, was the secondary option on the play. However, Montana was flushed well out to his right by pressure from Dallas' fearsome pass rush. With be Cowboys' Ed "Too Tall" Jones bear- ing down on him, Montana lofted a pass to the back of the end zone. Clark leapt as high as he could and reeled in the catch over Dallas corner Everson Walls, tapping both feet down along the end zone line. The # See DUMA,S,Page 2B tit (Above) The Lad`/Dawgs defeated the Orange Crush in the Monroe Count`/Recreation Department 12U softball cham- pionship game on June 4. Lad`/Dawgs team members include: head coach Shirle,/Wall, Elizabeth Ackerman, Ella Britt, Qua'Nesha Brown, Marleigh Encinas, Megan Grant, Peyton Hitt, Hannah Huff, Sarah Huff, Madison McKinnon, Juliana Moss, Hannah Simpson, Lola Talton and Lonna Waites. Orange Crush team members include: head coach Landon Sparks, Mar`/Ella Andrews, Taylor Black, Kuen Brown, Tr,/stin Brummett, Ahzoria Hard`/, Lindsie Jones, Anna Grace Mullis, Lane,/ Sparks, Heidi Sparks, Adelyn Turner and AI,/ssa Wilcox. (Below) The Diamond Divas defeated the Red Hots in the Monroe rec 9U sotball championship game on June 4. Diamond Divas team members include: head coach Justin Hickman, Ad,/son Andrews, Kh,/auna Buckner, Caroline Hickman, Isabella Hickman, Kalli Holderfield, Kenad,/Holliman, Br,/nleigh Newman, Isha Patel, Ava Riley, K,/lee Sanders, Kaiden Stancill, Ellie Taylor and Harmon`/Torbert. Red Hots team members include: Sk,/lar Amerson, Reagan Baggett, Mary Frances Britt, Pa,/ton Caule,/, S,/dney Collins, Jhonleah Johnson, Kadence King, Joriya Knight, Jordan Lucear, Kate Nelson, Eva Powlas, Lucy Rankin and Anna Thompson. (Photos/Keith Edge) By Abby Cox Pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, near Seattle, Wash. when three dads created it to entertain their kids. Although there is more than one version of the history behind the name of pickleball, it is rumored that it originated after one of the co-founders' family cocker spaniel, Pickles. The dog would chase stray balls and hide them in the bushes. Therefore, it was "Pick- le's ball;' leaving the name to suck. Being one of the fastest grow- ing sports in the U.S pickleball is a combination of badminton, tennis and ping pong. Pickleball is played on badminton-sized courts with a tennis height net, a hard paddle that is wood or composite and a perforated plastic ball, similar to a wiffie ball. The Monroe County Recreation Department introduced this popular sport to the community in March 2018 and now offers the chance to play pickleball on Sunday nights from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Keith Edge, recreation director, eagerly welcomes newcomers and expresses that he would "love for more people to come:' Edge said, the involvement grows, we would like to potentially see some tournaments that are categorized Rec director Keith Edge (right) exchanges postgame fistbumps after a hard- fought pickleball contest on June 2. (Photo/Abby Cox) by age, and it's also in our plans to build some outside courts:' Pickleball is easy for beginners to learn, but can develop into a fast- paced, competitive game for experi- enced players. In addition, the game has developed a strong following due to its friendly, social nature, and its multi-generational appeal. "My favorite thing about pickleball is that it's for all ages;' Edge said. "But right now, it's kind of an introductory sport. Doing things like this is a way to raise awareness about it because when someone says 'pickleball; people don't normally know what you're talking about" Pickleball is now played all over the world--through community groups, PE dasses, YMCA, retirement com- munities, local recreation centers, parks and more. There are more than two million people playing pickleball in the U.S. alone, and the game is growing exponentially. Edge said, "Even though pickleball is still growing, everybody that plays always comes back." Monroe MP team up for 11 football The Monroe Coonty Recreation Department and the Mary Per- sons Bulldogs are teaming up for a one-day Youth Football Camp on Saturday, Aug. 11. The camp, free to kids from 2nd- 6th grades, will be held from 9 a.m. to noon at the MP Football Practice Facility. MP head football coach Brian Nelson and his staff, as well as "members of the MP varsity football squad, will serve as instructors for the camp. The camp will include: a t-shirt (if registered by July 20), lunch, offense/ defense drdis, a tour of the MP foot- ball facility, game film, etc. For more information, contact the Monroe County Recreation Depart- ment at (478) 994-7795 or visit www. mocorec.org.