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Soccer stories

You have no idea how much it hurts to write this column.

I went to a soccer game, er, match, Friday and I actually enjoyed it.

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First a disclaimer: I have never played soccer. I understand very little about the game. And I don't want anyone sending me anything about the merits, finer points or rules of the game. I didn't like it that much.

Now, back to Friday.

I went to the Thomson-Cross Creek match at The Brickyard mainly to get a couple of pictures of Jes™s Ramos, the Thomson Bulldogs' all-time leading scorer.

But I got much more.

I was early enough to watch the players practice, running through drills and stretching. It was an opportunity to see a side of team sports a lot of people don't get to see. The guys were having a ball, picking on each other, aiming their shots at teammates, trying to kill the fat guy with the camera with a soccer ball to the skull. Little things like that.

I guess being their target for a few minutes was payback for something I've spent the better part of my adult life (OK, so I'll never really be an adult, so let's call it my gray-haired life) doing: mocking soccer. Gleefully mocking soccer. I've even had fun at the expense of soccer players.

Admittedly, I'll tone that down now. I could never run that far -- I'd be breathless if I had to drive that far. I have a new respect for soccer players.

But let's not get crazy: this does not mean I'll be watching the World Cup or heading to Atlanta to watch professional soccer matches.

I'll stick with Bulldog soccer. There, I know I can at least borrow mouthfuls of sunflower seeds.

Speaking of athletic accomplishments, kudos to Franklin Langham. The Thomson native won the 2004 Rheem Classic in Fort Smith, Ark., over the weekend. The victory was his first on the Nationwide Tour in 11 years -- with a stint on the PGA Tour and an appearance in The Masters in between. Let's hope he's back on the big tour soon.

And finally, I also want to mention a milestone. A short fax brought me immense happiness last week -- an Augusta State University student was named as the first recipient of the Steven W. Patch Memorial Scholarship.

It's only $500 per year, but it means a mint to those of us fortunate enough to know Steve during his life. The money goes to help students at ASU who been affected by cancer -- whether they have it, are a survivor or are related to someone who has the disease.

After cancer claimed Steve in 1999, a group of his friends got together and spent three years raising the money to endow the scholarship.

I think Steve 'd be proud. At least, I hope he would.

And I'm proud to have had a part in making a memorial to a great friend that will last a long time.

Web posted on Thursday, April 29, 2004

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