Monday, July 16, 2018
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Metro Sports Report

Ready or not, it's soccer season for girls

The Metro girls soccer teams finally got to test their skills against an opponent Tuesday at Kingston Stadium at the annual Jamboree.

With the season starting this week, the girls were excited to see how they stack up against other teams.

"We are just glad to quit practicing against each other," said Linn-Mar Coach Steve Dickinson. "The girls are getting a little tired of it, they wanted to knock the ball around against another team."

But even though the season is about to start, the teams have only been practicing for two weeks, so they are still getting used to playing soccer again.

""We can practice, but it is always different when you are in a game situation, it just adds a different flavor to it," said Xavier Coach Doug Graham

Each team got to play an exhibition game consisting of two 20 minute halves (normal games have 40 minute halves).


Jon Keller off to strong start for Huskers

Jon Keller tossed six scoreless innings, struck out the side on 10 pitches and allowed only one hit.

No, those aren't his statistics from a high school game for Xavier last year. Those are his stats from his start for Nebraska against fifth-ranked UCLA on March 4, the day he matched All-American Gerrit Cole pitch for pitch.

Keller threw 107 pitches against the Bruins and left after the sixth inning of a scoreless game. UCLA prevailed, 1-0, in 11 innings, but the rookie from Cedar Rapids proved he can pitch against anyone in the country that day.

"I was pretty nervous before the game," Keller said. "I just did my best to pound the zone and good things happened."

He struck out eight batters and fanned the heart of the UCLA order in the third inning, but the Cornhuskers lost and Keller got a no-decision.

"I was upset after we lost," he said. "I wanted to win so bad. I was numb after the game. Looking back on it, it definitely has boosted my confidence a lot. If I can do that against them, I can do it against anyone."


Earl Barber, an everyday hero, passes away

You probably didn’t know Earl Barber but perhaps you know someone like him.

Those of us advancing in age sometimes like to speak of “the good old days,’’ when life seemed simpler. People worked at the same job for years and years, making a decent paycheck for their family. Parents were supportive of their kids and their activities. Families took regular vacations. People were involved in their community.

Earl Barber, who died last week at age 85, was a lot like that. He worked at Link-Belt/FMC in Cedar Rapids for 40 years. He and his wife Virginia raised two girls and a boy. Earl gave a lot of his spare time to the Cedar Rapids Jefferson Booster Club and the local and state American Legion baseball programs, among other interests.

The thing that struck me about Earl is that he never missed a game in which his son played, at least until college. His son is Bruce Barber, one of my best friends. We were rivals in junior high school, he at Roosevelt and I at Taft. We became friends at Jefferson, where Bruce was a nice punter on the football team but a star for the J-Hawks’ baseball team in the mid-1970s. He was 14-5 with a 0.90 earned-run average in 1974, marks that still rank high on Jefferson’s all-time lists.


Spring no respite from concussion concerns

Last week, the most aggressive measure to address concussions in youth sports was signed into law in the state of Colorado. This year at least 30 states have introduced legislation (nine other states already have laws) governing concussions in youth sports.

Why are these facts important to Iowans? Remember February 28th, 2011? That was the day former ISU-Cyclone linebacker and NFL player Matt Blair, lobbied at the state capitol for legislation in Iowa that would require an athlete to have written medical clearance before returning to competition after leaving a game with a sports-related concussion. Hopefully, we’ll hear more on this Iowa legislation from Des Moines soon and prior to the upcoming football season.

Concussion injury can occur in any sport and the highest rate of concussion injury in high school sports occurs in football. What about spring sports in Iowa? Concussion injury rates in girls and boys soccer are on the rise, comprising from 15-20% of all reported injuries in those sports nationwide. Concussions are also being reported in baseball, softball, and even track and field. The rise in reported concussions over the last decade in youth sports (age 5-18) prompted the Center for Disease Control (CDC) last year to label concussion injuries as an epidemic problem.


Uthoff learns lessons at NeXt Classic

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. - Jarrod Uthoff is just 17 years old and still growing.

That was easy to forget this season when the 6-foot-8 senior from Cedar Rapids Jefferson was named Iowa's Mr. Basketball and the Gatorade Player of the Year.

Uthoff was one of the youngest, skinniest and most unselfish players on the court Sunday afternoon at the NeXt All-American Classic at the Sears Centre Arena in the northwest Chicago suburbs.

He held his own in the all-star game that featured 20 college-bound seniors, but also learned a few things.

"These guys are so much bigger than me, and stronger than me," Uthoff said after scoring 10 points and grabbing three rebounds. "I really need to get a lot stronger, but I've said that before. This really shows it."

Uthoff is tall enough, although he's still growing and could reach 6-10, but he'll need more weight and more strength to succeed at the University of Wisconsin.


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