Phantoms’ head coach leads players to success on and off the field

By Brian Devine

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Photo of the 2016 Phantoms Soccer Team. Head Coach, Ryan Griffith (left), and assistant coach, Steve Weatherby (right), led the Phantoms to their first playoff appearance in four years with a 7-5 regular season record. Photo by Ryan Griffith.

In his 13th year as head coach of The Phan- toms, DCCC’s soccer team, Ryan Griffith led his club into the play- offs with a 7-5 record in the NJCAA region 19 standings. Although the Phantoms were defeated in the first round against Sussex County Com- munity College, Griffith’s team showed resiliency as they won their final three regular season games to clinch a playoff spot.

What Griffith is most proud of is how his players fare off the field. Griffith says he instills values such as teamwork and dedication in his team, and he wants his players to use these skills to succeed in school as well as in their daily lives.

Griffith says he started playing soccer once he was old enough to walk, and received coaching from his father. When Griffith was a student at DCCC, he played for the Phantoms, which is how he began his coaching career.

As an athlete for the Phantoms, he took on responsibilities such as running practices and was offered the coaching position the following year.

In a recent interview with the Communitarian, Griffith talks about the team’s season, and his coaching philosophy.

Q: How did it feel to make the playoffs this season?

A: It was fantastic. It’s been four years since we made the playoffs. It was quite an accomplishment for the guys. Going into the season, that’s where we wanted to be. Our expectations were a little bit more than what we achieved this year, but overall it was still a really good achievement based on the personnel we had on the field and definitely our goalie, Kyle {O’Brien}, who never played soccer before.

He pretty much took one for the team and decided to become goalie three weeks before the season started. So we had to turn him from a novice defender to a novice goalie in a matter of three weeks before the season started. I knew we were going to have some growing pains there, which we did throughout the season. And the guys on the field were very supportive. All 16 guys were actually very supportive of Kyle’s decision to play goalie.

Overall, it was a great season. It’s fun every year because they essentially start out as competitors against each other, and then they become brothers at the end. And some, not necessarily all, because it usually takes two years the majority of the time, the players go from boys to men. They grow. The maturation process between the lines becomes real, and outside the lines as well.

Q: In your 13 years coaching at DCCC, would you rate this season as one of the most successful?

A: I rate every season as successful because, essentially, soccer is one of those games where you have to rely heavily on your teammates. Every season is a success based on what they accomplish as individuals coming out of the season.

The whole idea is to grow: grow as a soccer player, not just from skillset, but from the understanding of the game. And then obviously, from a student athlete perspective, we always stress that the student comes first.

Last year, for instance, we had the highest GPA of any athletic group, so we want to continue that going forward. But every year is definitely a success. It’s not just based on soccer alone.

Q: How hard is it to find students willing to commit to the team if they also work outside of school?

A: Unfortunately, we run into this issue every year. It’s tough even from the time I played because in community college, most student athletes have either part-time or fulltime jobs. They have school and other responsibilities as well.

And then from a transfer standpoint, you have to weigh if they are going to give up one or two years eligibility based on how serious they are about their athletics. So it is hard, and obviously from the community college standpoint, there aren’t scholarships from the athlete perspective.

They are coming here based on the previous talents of the team before, word of mouth, and obviously myself and coach Steve {Weatherby} as well. So it is tough to retain these guys and getting players.

And with 13 years, like I said, every year has been successful. And it’s great to forge these relationships with these kids because when you look back on it now, guys I coached in the first five or six years, they reach out to say, “Hey coach, I appreciate what you’ve done for me, not just as a player but as a man. ” These guys are married, they have kids. They say, “We’ve seen what you’ve done with your kids on the sideline, and now I have a son.” Stories like that. Those hit home.

Q: What was the best moment of the season?

A: I would say in our final game. Obviously, it was a defeat and a tough one, but they finally as a collective group played the entire 90 minutes, even after they were down one goal. It was good to see them committed to the game. They committed to each other. And they committed to the process. I was very, very pleased by that. Although they lost, it was the happiest I was the entire season because they didn’t give up at all. There was no quitting.

Q: What was the lowest point?

A: I wouldn’t consider any of it a low point. It’s only the process. Obviously, you start at the base, so if there’s a low point, it would be training camp, starting from scratch. But there’s no actual low as far as morale or anything like that. You just start at the base every season, and you progress throughout the season.

B: As a coach, what is the most important attribute you look for in a soccer player?

A: Teamwork. The ability to work with others. It’s not an individual sport. You have 10 guys with you on the field at a time, so collectively, it’s a group effort at all times.

Q: How do you motivate players to play together as a team?

A: You have to motivate each player separately and then collectively as a group. Once you get through to each player, and get their buy in, then you can get through to the entire group. But you got to start with each player. And then collectively, you can build from there.

And that’s basically getting to know each player. Once you figure out what makes them tick, whether it’s from a practice session, from technical work, tactical, to just straight up from a motivational speech, you have to find out what makes them tick. And then, you find out what makes the group tick, and then you go from there.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

A: I guess for next year or any players coming in, we are looking for primarily selfless players. Anyone who is willing to commit to the team. Once you commit to your brothers on the team, we will find a spot for you here at Delaware County Community College.

Together Everyone Achieves More — TEAM. I’d also like to add that without my assistant Steve, none of this would be possible.

Contact Brian Devine at Communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

On the air with Mike Missanelli

By J.P. McClatchy

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Michael Vick (middle) is interviewed by Mike Missanelli from 97.5 The Fanatic along with Nina Tiami (left), PR Director of Aloft Hotel. Photo courtesy of Hugh E Dillion/phillychitchat.com

Alone in the booth at 97.5 the Fanatic studios, Mike Missanelli looks into the dis- tance waiting for the “on air” sign to light up, signaling it’s time for another talk with the sports fans of Philadelphia.

“I aim to always hear both sides of a particular argument because it makes the subject matter more listenable to the public,” Missanelli says.

Over the years, Missanelli has become one of the most popular sports radio personalities in Philadelphia, ranked second behind WMMR in the May 2016 ratings, with more than 105,000 followers on Twitter.

Missanelli believes his key to success on the air is continuing to be creative with how he implements segments like General Knowledge Wednesdays, during which he quizzes listeners on a variety of topics to add a personal touch to the show.

This afternoon, the board is flooded with listeners waiting to get on the air.

Missanelli says he is always excited to discuss Philadelphia sports, especially the Eagles because it’s his favorite team to talk about with listeners.

“Football, football, and more football,” Missanelli says. “The Philly audience is plugged in and engaged with any type of Eagles talk.”

Missanelli grew up in Bristol Borough Bucks County, a very small industrial town on the Delaware River. He graduated from Penn State University in 1977 and played second base for the Nittany Lions baseball team. He also obtained a law degree from the Delaware Law School of Widener University in 1986, while still working at the Philadelphia Inquirer.

He says he became a radio host by accident.

“I had been a newspaper reporter for many years at the Philadelphia Inquirer and many of us from the sports department started going on sports talk radio,” Missanelli says. “The 610 WIP management liked what they heard and they offered me a position to be an evening drive host at more money than I was making in newspapers, so I took the job.”

Besides doing radio on WIP, Missanelli had a show on 93.3 WMMR called “The Philly Guys,” which lasted two years. The show included popular Philadelphia comedian and man of a thousand voices, Joe Conklin, and Vinnie “the Crumb.”

In 2006, Missanelli was fired from WIP after an altercation with his producer and, to this day, there are conflicting reports on what actually happened that day.

In 2008, Missanelli was hired by the newly named ESPN 950, making them a contender against WIP as far as ratings went, a first in Philadelphia. Missanelli signed a new multiyear contract with the now called 97.5 the Fanatic in 2010 and has been there ever since.

Although Missanelli has not been writing for awhile, he says he still misses it a great deal and has been writing a column for PhillyMag.com. Recently, he has discontinued writing for the site due to budget cuts.

Today, Missanelli tries to eat some of his soup in between breaks. He is already prepared for the next segment with special guest Jayson Stark, an MLB writer for ESPN, to discuss what is happening around the league in Major League baseball.

As a sports radio personality, Missanelli is able to talk with some of the brightest minds in the sports world, including Philadelphia’s most historic athletes on his radio show.

Out of all the guests he has on the show, he says his favorite is always former Sixers’ power forward and NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley. Missanelli loves when Barkley occasionally comes in and co-hosts the show with him.

“All you have to do is wind Charles up and you can talk to him about almost any subject, sports or not,” Missanelli adds.

Missanelli hopes to encourage and solicit entertaining conversation each day with callers on the hottest local sports topics of the day. He says he wants to make it fun for people to listen to his show, so he tries to keep it as creative as possible.

“I love the everyday interaction with people,” Missanelli says. “There is always a different day and a different spin you can put on a topic.”

Contact J.P. McClatchy at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

Phantoms look to rebound following 3-1 loss

By Brian Devine

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Freshman German Gauman, number 9, looks to pass to Shamour Young, number 15 during the second half of the Phantom’s 3-1 loss against Harrisburg Area Community College on Sept. 27. Photo by Brian Devine

After a 3-1 loss against Harrisburg Area Community College on Sept. 27 at the Marple Campus field, the Phantom’s men’s soccer team fell to 4-4 on the season and was handed their second consecutive loss.

Aside from a header goal by freshman Shamour Young late in the first half, the Phantoms had trouble generating offense throughout the afternoon. Head Coach Ryan Griffith said these struggles are the result of players trying to do too much by themselves, and not because of a lack of talent.

“When we start playing as individuals it doesn’t work,” Griffith said. “We’ve got to play together as a team.”

Griffith added the team could still be demoralized after blowing a late lead in their previous match against Northampton Community College on Sept. 22. The Phantoms were leading 2-0 with five minutes left in the game, but ended up losing 3-2 in overtime.

“We’ve got to get back to basics and play our style of soccer,” said assistant coach Steve Weatherby.

Perhaps the biggest turning point of the game was when Phantom’s captain James Warren Cooke exited during halftime with a groin injury. Before the injury, Cooke made a strong impact with a goal saving play in the first half.

Cooke sprinted across the field and blocked a powerful kick by Harrisburg which would have put the team in a deep 2-0 hole, if not for his hustle.

“I didn’t think I would get there, but I tried my best and I did,” Cooke said.

Towards the end of the first half, the Phantoms evened the score to 1-1. But their momentum was short lived.

Within 30 seconds of the second half, Harrisburg scored to go up 2-1. They later added another goal that extended their lead to 3-1 and put the game out of reach.

“We didn’t play well,” said freshman Chris Birch. “The other guys played better than we did. We just got to come back next game.”

Despite allowing three goals, Coach Weatherby has been impressed with Goalkeeper Kyle O’Brien, saying he’s excelled. O’Brien entered the season with very little experience, and had to learn the position on the fly.

“He’s a very quick learner, and has done a tremendous job for the amount of pressure he’s been under,” Weatherby said.

Weatherby added the progress he’s made since the beginning of the year has been substantial.

“Oh yeah absolutely,” Weatherby said. “He’s been an allaround better soccer player and keeper.”

Despite losing two consecutive games, the Phantoms have made steady progress from last season. They have already eclipsed their win total from last year as they finished the 2015- 2016 campaign with a 3-10 record.

After the defeat against Harrisburg, the Phantoms fought back two days later with a 5-2 win on Sept .29 against Montgomery Community College. The Phantom’s final game this year will be on Oct. 19 on the road against Williamson Trade School where they will look to end their season on a high note.

Contact Brian Devine at Communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

Ryan Howard’s Philly legacy

By J.P. McClatchy

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Philadelphia Phillies’ Ryan Howard warms up before an at-bat against the New York Mets on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pa. The Phillies won 5-2. (Clem Murray/ Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)

It’s fitting that Howard’s first and last home run with the Phillies came against the Mets, whom he tagged with 48 home runs all-time against them, which tied for the fourth most home runs hit against the Mets.

He received a touching ceremony beforehand in front of the home crowd at Citizens Bank Park to honor him for his career with the team.

“Philadelphia will always be home,” Howard said during the pregame ceremony.

Later, Manager Pete Mackanin pulled Howard from the game in the top of the ninth inning and the fans sent him off with a standing ovation as he exited the field.

Howard played in 112 games this year, posting a .196 batting average with 25 home runs and 59 RBI’s in 331 at-bats. He had seven seasons with at least 25 home runs with the Phillies and he is now tied at 67th on the all-time home runs list with 382 along with Frank Howard and Hall of Famer Jim Rice.

Howard will finish his Phillies career ranked second in home runs (382), second in RBI (1,192), fourth in slugging (.515), first in grand slams (15), seventh in games played (1,569), tenth in doubles (270), fifth in total bases (2,940), and seventh in walks (709).

“Ryan, on countless occasions, put us on his back and carried us to the finish line,” Former Phillies second baseman Chase Utley said. “He was such an important part of our success, and I hope Philadelphia recognizes that.”

Howard broke into the league in 2004 and one year later, he was named National League Rookie of the Year, posting a .288 average with 22 home runs, 63 RBI’s, and a .924 OPS in only 88 games.

Howard followed up the Rookie of the Year by being named the National League MVP after a monster season where he hit a franchise best 58 home runs in a single season and knocked in 149 runs, leading the league in both of those categories, just barely missing out on the Triple Crown.

Howard had six straight seasons with 30+ home runs and 100 RBI’s, helping propel the Phillies to five National League East titles from 2007 to 2011 and two World Series appearances, with the Phillies winning it in 2008.

But Howard’s career took a turn for the worst in game five of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals, the last time the Phillies made the playoffs, when he tore his achilles after making the final out in the game, and he was never fully able to get back to his old form.

From 2012 to 2013, Howard played in a total of 151 games, combining for 25 home runs and 99 RBI’s, but it seems the achilles injury got the best of him because after that, Howard never reached 30 home runs and 100 RBI’s in a season ever again.

Although, he endured a great deal abuse for his lack of production in recent years, the fans saw that he never let it get to his head and think he deserves credit for sticking it out after he watched player after player from the 2008 World Series team leave the Phillies.

“He loved the pressure and wanted to be the man at the plate when the game mattered most,” Former Phillies shortstop and MVP Jimmy Rollins said. “During our run, we leaned on him many times for big hits and clutch home runs and he found ways to deliver.”

Howard’s departure marks the end of a remarkable era in Phillies franchise history. His career with the Phillies may be over, but he has continued to express his will to keep on playing baseball in 2017, testing the waters as a free agent.

“There’s still more in the tank,” Howard said during the recent postgame press conference. “I tell my wife all the time, I don’t know when it’s time. I just want to get it all out of the tank and have no regrets.”

Contact J.P. McClatchy at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

Colin Kaepernick : The dichotomy of rights and morality

By Brendan Gunn

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From left, San Francisco 49ers’ Eli Harold (58), quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) and Eric Reid (35) kneel during the national anthem before their NFL game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group/TNS)

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has caused a national controversy. His decision to protest during the national anthem to bring awareness to the social injustices minorities face in this country, which he has continued to do since the 49ers first preseason game on August 14, has sparked debate.

The protests have gained traction with other athletes and coaches across all sports, including Delaware County Community College.

The head coach for the Phantoms volleyball team, Chris Adamkiewicz, says athletes should act upon these injustices rather than simply protest.

“I am all for my players trying to fight hate and oppression, just not during the national anthem, but in true action and volunteer work to eradicate such behaviors,” said Adamkiewicz, who spent the previous two seasons coaching at Valley Forge Military College. “Do acts that contribute to change. Do not just take the easy way out and protest with no action or solutions behind your protest.”

Meanwhile, others say the protests are an excellent way to bring awareness to social issues.

“We all have platforms in whatever positions we have and we use it as such,” said Suni K. Blackwell, DCCC’s athletic director. “Kaepernick has a huge platform and he’s using it to bring awareness to what he believes in, which is a righteous and good cause.”

According to a government oversight report released in November 2015, the U.S. Department of Defense paid over 50 professional sports teams and leagues for patriotic displays during games.

This includes the payment of the NFL in 2009 when the league made it mandatory for teams to be on the sidelines during the national anthem. Prior to 2009, the league did not televise the national anthem, nor have the players on the sidelines; instead, they were in the locker room.

It has also been documented that the writer of the Star Spangled Banner, Francis Scott Key, was a notorious slave owner, which could make some athletes and fans contemplate whether he even had African Americans in mind when he wrote it.

So are the players disrespecting the military like skeptics say, or are they just taking advantage of the system to bring awareness to their beliefs?

“I believe these protests are a good thing because they are peaceful protests, and the issues the players are protesting need to be taken seriously,” said Brian Vendetta, 22, a DCCC student majoring in Liberal Arts and former high school athlete. “The players have stated multiple times that they have respect for the military members and the protests have nothing to do with them or the work they put in to protect the country.”

Despite some backlash, in the weeks following Kaepernick’s first protest, his jersey became the highest selling jersey on the NFL’s official site, and sold more units than the previous eight months combined.

Kaepernick pledged to donate all funds received from the sales to inner city communities and charities.

In addition to the proceeds from the jersey sales, Kaepernick is due to make $11.1 million this season and has vowed to donate the first million he receives to charity.

After his team’s third preseason game, Kaepernick changed his way of protesting from sitting down to kneeling, after former NFL player and military veteran Nate Boyer called him to discuss the matter.

Boyer let Kaepernick know, even though Kaepernick was not trying to disrespect the military, he was inadvertently doing so.

Boyer and Kaepernick came up with the idea to kneel because when soldiers honor a fallen soldier they kneel at his casket before sending him off, so this way Kaepernick can protest for his beliefs without accidentally disrespecting the military.

Kaepernick, along with many other athletes, continues to protest during the anthem, and says he has no intentions of stopping in the near future.

“I want to see a healthy discussion come out of these protests,” Blackwell said. “I want to see people with open minds and open hearts paying attention to what’s going on, here, in our United States of America. No rights should be put on a different playing field just because it’s socially acceptable, or won’t ruffle a few feathers.”

Contact Brendan Gunn at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu