Electric Football

By John Rezell

Imagine for a moment waking up as a small child on Christmas morning and running downstairs to find the tree dark and house more than a little chilly.

If you are really imagining this scenario through the eyes of a child, then you know the lighting and temperature are irrelevant. What matters are presents. And there are plenty beneath the tree.

When I think back to Christmases past, very few revolve around sports. My birthday lands in June, so warm weather and summer vacation bring plenty of sports presents. Christmas, for me, not so much.

On this particular morn, a Christmas Eve blizzard knocked out the power in the area, thus no lights and no heat. Needless to say, it didn’t matter. At first.

We dug into the presents as kids usually do. Then Mom handed me a big flat box. I had no idea what it was, so I ripped it open with a little added energy.

It took me a minute to figure it out. Then it hit me. Electric Football.

Growing up in Wisconsin during the Packers Glory Years, it didn’t get much better than this. Football was king. Neither team was painted. One team was white. One team yellow.

Without hesitation, I decided to pin a number on one player. I peeled off No. 24 from the decals and planted on the back of a yellow player. Willie Wood came alive.

We spent the next few hours playing with everything else under the tree while slowly adding layers of clothing. I never remember another Christmas without electricity. Nor a Christmas when electricity was in such dire need.

Eventually the electricity came back on, and a nanosecond later, the game began to vibrate. As players zoomed all around the field, I focused on No. 24. One of my heroes, the only Packer I honored with a number, Willie Wood, simply spun around and around in circles like a top, going no where, but certainly standing out from the rest.

Ah, the memories.

More than a few years later, another Wisconsin blizzard just after Christmas paid big dividends. My buddy Jack and I spent the better part of three days wandering around the neighborhood shoveling driveways and getting paid handsomely.

After putting my required portion of loot in the bank, I had enough to buy myself anything I wanted. We went straight to Sears where I got an update Electric Football Game, complete with painted players. The New York Giants and Los Angeles Rams.

We didn’t quite take it to the level some people do (you can watch this youtube video to see true obsessions with Electric Football https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zccZueUD42M). But inside was a catalog where you could order other teams.

Eventually, I had six or seven teams. The teams we didn’t like, we repainted ourselves. We had a league in the neighborhood with six teams. It was great fun. Eventually we repainted every team.

I had the teams packed away somewhere for decades. Last Christmas my little brother surprised me with a new Electric Football Game. Ah, the memories …

Do you have a Christmas sports memory to share? Let us know!

Contact John Rezell, Executive Editor, at jrezell@coveypubs.com.
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Round Rock Express Wins Service Award


ST. PETERSBURG, FL – Minor League Baseball named the Round Rock Express the recipient of the fourth annual John Henry Moss Community Service Award.

The award was created in 2013 by Minor League Baseball in honor of the late John Henry Moss, who founded what would become the South Atlantic League in 1959 and headed the circuit until 2007. The Express will receive their award at the Baseball Winter Meetings Banquet on Sunday, Dec. 4, at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland.

“The Round Rock Express is honored to be named the winner of the 2016 John Henry Moss Community Service Award as one of our core values is to passionately give back to the community and it is something our staff proudly promotes and practices throughout the year,” said Express president Chris Almendarez.

“We are able to make Central Texas a better place to live and play through this great game of baseball and this year. We were able to make an impact on an international level with the founding of Jana’s House, a home being built for orphaned girls in Zambia in honor of my wife, Jana. Receiving this award is a testament to the hard work of our staff, players and coaches and the community itself for continuing to support us in our charitable efforts all year long.”

The Round Rock Express engage in a wide variety of community service initiatives to provide assistance to area programs, charities and educational organizations in Round Rock and the surrounding communities. The Express have more than 75 community partners, 13 youth programs, 11 military appreciation initiatives, 25 in-game fundraising and awareness events and 10 community outreach initiatives.

“The Round Rock Express continue to be a model franchise when it comes to community service and engagement,” said Minor League Baseball president & CEO Pat O’Conner. “Despite working through an incredibly tough and emotional year, the club managed to do so much good in and around its community, and of course with their efforts to make Jana’s House a reality. Their efforts were second to none, and it is my honor to present them with this award.”

This year, the Express took the field in specialty jerseys six times to benefit community charities. In total, specialty jersey nights provided $31,710 to charitable organizations. Together with their hospitality sister company, Ryan Sanders Sports Services (RS3), the Express raised over $600,000 through in-stadium events such as auctions and raffles. The franchise donated a grand total of over $788,000 in 2016.

The 2016 season brought considerable sadness to the Round Rock baseball family with the passing of Jana Almendarez, creating a renewed sense of purpose. Rallying around one another, the Express staff adopted a yearlong motto of “One Team” that transcended the front office to the players and coaches, sponsors, fans and the entire Central Texas community.

In the months that followed Jana’s passing came record-breaking attendance numbers, inspired events like Military Appreciation Day and Cancer Awareness Night, and the undertaking of Jana’s House, a home under construction in Zambia that will house 12 orphaned girls in Jana’s honor.

The Express go to great lengths to serve the youth of their community by hosting year-round baseball and softball camps, partnering with libraries for reading competitions, holding Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts nights at the ballpark and much more.

The Round Rock mascot, Spike, made over 117 appearances throughout the season at fundraisers, assemblies, youth sporting events and other community gatherings. Additionally, the Express made players available for public speaking events and autograph sessions.

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Cedar Rapids launches Fat Bike Rides and Expo


CEDAR RAPIDS, IA — An interactive, fun night ride, free expo, raffle and a three-hour endurance ride on a 3.75-mile course are all part of the GO CR Fat Sac & Fox Enduro Ride set for December 9-10.

GO Cedar Rapids along with the Cedar Rapids Parks Department and Linn Area Mountain Bike Association (LAMBA) are coming together to host the largest Fat Bike event in the Cedar Rapids Area.

The event kicks off Friday, December 9th with registration and an interactive on trail/off trail night ride that begins at 7 p.m., taking riders on trails and pathways that are not part of the normal bike trail system. Along the way riders will make pit stops at several Cedar Rapids locations for food, drink and surprises. Friday’s ride ends with a celebration at the SAG Wagon Deli & Brew.

Saturday’s events begin at the Indian Creek Nature Center with a free expo for riders, fans, and the public starts that at 10 a.m. The expo will include panel discussions, Fat Bike demonstrations, and a fun family area with bike related games and activities along with a Fat Santa Kids ride.

A raffle for a 2017 Specialized Fatboy SE Fat Bike (MSRP $1400) will also be part of the event. Attendees will be able to stay for lunch with multiple onsite food vendors then cheer for the riders of the GO CR Fat Sac & Fox Enduro Ride which begins at Noon.

The enduro ride will take place on a 3.75-mile course using parts of the Sac & Fox Trail. Individual and team riders will ride as many laps as possible in the three hour race.  Winners will be awarded in both individual and team categories. Awards and celebration will take place Saturday night at Broken Spoke, Cedar Rapids.

Updated information, tickets, merchandise and raffle tickets along with host hotel information and rates are all available through the event website: GOCRFatBike.com.

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Gulf Coast Triathlon Joins Ironman Family



TAMPA – The rights to own and operate the Gulf Coast Triathlon have been acquired by IRONMAN.

Renamed the IRONMAN 70.3 Gulf Coast triathlon, the event will keep its historic roots and take place on Saturday, May 13, 2017, joining the iconic IRONMAN Florida triathlon on one of the world’s most beautiful beaches in Panama City Beach.

“Panama City Beach has been a home to IRONMAN for 18 years, and each year it is an unforgettable experience for athletes from around the world,” said Jeff Edwards, Vice President of Operations for IRONMAN. “We are pleased to add such a well-regarded event in a location that we are very familiar with to our spring calendar, as we continue to offer athletes an opportunity to race in a beachside setting with a welcoming community.”

“The Gulf Coast Triathlon Foundation Board of Directors would like to thank all the people and organizations who have supported the Gulf Coast Triathlon for the last 34 years. Their involvement has allowed to us to put on a stellar long-course triathlon all these years and give back to the community where we live and operate,” said Dave Garret, Gulf Coast Triathlon Foundation Chairman. “To ensure the continued presence of our triathlon, the Board felt the time was right to bring in an organization with the larger resources needed to operate in the competitive sports world that exists today. Our hope is that the people and organizations that supported us will now put their efforts in the new IRONMAN 70.3 Gulf Coast triathlon event. We look forward to seeing the continued benefits of this event for many years to come.”

The race will begin with a 1.2-mile, open water swim in the Gulf of Mexico, along white sand shores. Competitors then bike 56 miles on an out-and-back course which travels through the rural areas of Bay County and Panama City Beach.

Much like IRONMAN Florida, it is flat and fast for athletes looking to obtain a personal best. The 13.1-mile run will feature some of the most picturesque beach front areas that distinguish the area, with a spectacular finish at the Edgewater Beach & Golf Resort.

With 27 miles of white sand beach, Panama City Beach proves to be a great destination for athletes and families alike, with multiple state and beachfront city parks, nearly 100 public beach access points, and an untouched seven-mile long barrier island.

“Panama City Beach looks forward to welcoming competitors from around the globe to compete in the IRONMAN 70.3 Gulf Coast triathlon,” says Richard Sanders, VP of Sports and Events for Visit Panama City Beach. “Having IRONMAN united with an event and a course known for beautiful beaches, personal records, and good weather, is a perfect opportunity for athletes and their families to have a real fun race.”

IRONMAN 70.3 Gulf Coast will offer 50 slots to the 2017 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship taking place on September 9 and 10, 2017 in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

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Philips Arena Plans $192.5 Million Renovation


ATLANTA — The Atlanta Hawks have agreed to an 18-year lease extension and are planning a $192.5 million renovation of Philips Arena, with the city providing the bulk of the funding according to a story from the Associated Press.

The city of Atlanta will contribute $142.5 million toward the project, which will most noticeably alter the look of the luxury boxes stacked on one side of the arena. There will be new amenities, a variety of different-size suites, improved sightlines for basketball, a state-of-the-art video system, and connected concourses throughout the 17-year-old facility.

Philips Arena originally was built to host both the NBA’s Hawks and the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers. The hockey team moved to Winnipeg in 2011.


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Mosquito Control System Could Offer Relief to Florida


A Florida-based landscape and irrigation distributor offers a mosquito control system that delivers an odorless and invisible mosquito repellent vapor using a cartridge that is heated by the same low-voltage electrical source used to power LED landscape lighting.

Kenney Outdoor Solutions offers the NuTone Haven system. The cartridges are housed in a lighting fixture and are activated when the lights are turned on, providing mosquito protection over a wide area within 15 minutes.

There is also a version of the system that operates independently of a lighting system for areas that require mosquito protection but not lighting. According to NuTone, in testing at sites located throughout the U.S. and Thailand, the system proved 92.5% effective against mosquitoes.

“Now that Zika-carrying mosquitoes have arrived in Florida, our clients are looking for affordable and effective ways to protect the public from this threat,” said Doug Kenney, the regional manager of Kenney Outdoor Solutions. “With the NuTone Haven system, we can offer them a solution that is safe, non-disruptive, easy to use, and that doesn’t break the bank. It will give them an easy way to reassure their customers that they are being proactive about the Zika threat and mosquito protection.”

While mosquitoes have always been considered a public health nuisance, the fact that they transmit the Zika virus has increased the threat they pose to the public dramatically.

Florida is the only state that has reported locally-acquired cases of Zika. Travel-related cases have been reported in all 50 states. Florida is at the epicenter of the fight to prevent mosquitoes from spreading the virus to other parts of the country. The CDC has expanded its Zika health advisory for Florida to include all of Miami-Dade County, and is acknowledging that the virus is likely in the U.S. to stay.

Kenney Outdoor Solutions is currently offering the Nutone Haven to professional contractors for installation in the Florida market. Contractors who are interested in learning more can contact Doug Kenney at 800-878-8676 extension 6555.

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USA Masters Games Head to San Diego

The 2017 USA Masters Games will be held in San Diego, with the primary dates set for  July 12-16, according to Hill Carrow, CEO.

The USA Masters Games, the National Sports Festival for Adult Athletes, is a multi-sport event for competitors aged 21 and older.

The first USA Masters Games was held in Greensboro, NC, in July with more than 2,500 registered participants competing in more than 400 events in 24 sports at 19 venues.

Athletes aged 21 to 91 hailed from 10 countries on 6 continents and 45 states. There were 11 World Records, 15 American Records, 6 Zone Records, and 47 State Records set. Athletes were treated to exciting Opening and Closing Ceremonies, , the Games Village, social activities, and live entertainment.
Carrow announced the games will be held annually, with the next edition scheduled for the summer of 2017 in San Diego.
Venues in San Diego are high quality and conveniently located. Competition sites will include the University of California San Diego (UCSD), University of San Diego, Mission Beach, Qualcomm Stadium, and the Chula Vista Elite Training Center (formerly the U.S. Olympic Training Center), among others. Opening Ceremonies will be held at Qualcomm Stadium, home of the San Diego Chargers, while social events will highlight San Diego’s favorite entertainment locales.

“The USA Masters Games now has a proven track record as a major competitive and fun event,” Carrow said on the USA Masters Games website. “San Diego, with its extensive multi-sport experience — both the Winter and Summer California State Games are permanently located there — makes for an ideal setting for the Games’ second edition. The high-powered and deeply-experienced Local Organizing Committee, led by the California State Games and supported by the San Diego Exploratory Foundation and the San Diego Tourism Authority, will take the Games to the next level in 2017.

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