"The home of hometown heroes"

The AT&T Pebble Beach National  Pro-Am is always one of the most popular events on the PGA Tour.  TV viewers are thrilled by the amazing pictures of waves crashing and fog rolling in.  But this year’s event had a distinct Nashville flair.

Former Vanderbilt golfer and local resident Brandt Snedeker captured his second Pebble Beach crown, breaking the tournament record in the process.

When he first won the event a couple years ago, he was one of the hottest players on tour, rising to the No. 4 ranked player in the world.

The win had many people picking him to win the green jacket at Augusta a few weeks later.  

This year, after recovering from a number of nagging injuries, he needed to win just to qualify for the Masters.

Besides winning the professional side of the tournament in 2013, Snedeker paired with Toby Wilt and won the Pro-Am as well.

Wilt, another former Vanderbilt athlete and long-time Nashville businessman, was paired with Snedeker again this year.

The duo finished alone in second place after Wilt drained a putt for a birdie/net eagle on the 18th green.

If he missed that putt, he probably would have blamed his caddie - local businessman Richard Pinson, who looked right at home in his caddie bib.  All three men are members of the Golf Club of Tennessee right down I-40 in neighboring Kingston Springs.

And they weren’t the only Golf Club members representing this area proud.

Country singer Jake Owen proved just how skilled a golfer he is.  Paired with pro Jordan Spieth, Jake shot 67 on his own ball, including making a natural eagle and four birdies on one of the most intimidating courses in the world.

That score should surprise no one at the Golf Club who’s ever played with the former Florida State team member. 

It was fun watching Wilt and Owen battle it out like they were playing in the member/guest championship at the Golf Club.

It was also cool watching another Golf Club member, Clay Walker, serenade Sir Nick Faldo and Jim Nance after having his swing analyzed by Peter Kostis.

Once again this year, I was like the many other people who enjoyed watching the waves crash and fog roll in at Pebble Beach.  But this year’s tournament was especially fun for me because of the play of some good-ole-boys who showed the world how it’s done.

Congratulations men. Looks like you had a great time.  Hope so, cause its probably gonna be a lot tougher getting strokes from anybody at the Golf Club any more!

Our Area was Well Represented at Pebble Beach

Ensworth Game Brought Back Great Memories For a Bills Fan

Sitting and watching this week’s Ensworth Tigers BlueCross Bowl game, I couldn’t help but think back to 1991 and Super Bowl XXI.

Growing up in Buffalo, there were only two sure things, it was going to snow in the winter, and the Bills were not going to be playing football in January.

The 1991 Buffalo Bills changed all that.  Led by future Hall of Famers Jim Kelly, Thurmond Thomas, Bruce Smith and Andre Reed, the Bills won 13 games that year.  They destroyed the Oakland Raiders in the AFC Championship game by 50 points, and were heavy favorites to beat the Phil Simms-less New York Giants.

Heck, the Giants were even supposed to be there.  It was supposed to be a rematch from the regular season against the San Francisco 49ers.  That was the game that feature no punts, just one great play after another.

It was the high-powered K-Gun offense led by Kelly, against the team of the ‘80s led by Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Roger Craig.

But somehow the Giants beat the Niners and spoiled the game everyone wanted to see.

The game featured an up-and-coming young coach named Bill Parcells, against the cagey old future Hall of Famer Marv Levy.

As it turned out, it was Parcells who would be teaching Levy a few things.  Their strategy was to hand the ball to OJ Anderson, a good back but not great.

As it turned out, Anderson was the best back in history that day.  

After the Bills took the lead after the first quarter, Anderson took over the game.  He pounded for three, then four yards, again and again.  The Giants held onto the ball for what seemed li of the second quarter and scored a touchdown right before the half.  They got the ball to start the third quarter and did it again, holding the ball forever and scoring a touchdown to extend their lead. 

Kelly and the K-gun sat rusting on the bench.  It had been an hour and a half since they last took the field.  The plan was genius and carried the Giants to a 20-19 lead with less than two minutes left.

But the Bills never gave up.  When they took the field, all of us in my house were certain that Jim Kelly would come through.  He was the toughest quarterback in the league and we loved him.  He threw dart after dart to Reed and James Lofton and drove the Bills down the field and into field goal position with seconds left on the clock.

The always-steady Scotty Norwood lined up a 47-yard game winning kick…and missed it wide right!

Utter devastation rained in Buffalo the next few days.  Then something happened.

During the welcome home celebration, Kelly and the other stars were making speeches, talking about next year, then the crowd spotted Norwood, who could have understandably dodged the ceremony.  They started chanting his name. SCOTTY, SCOTTY, SCOTTY!!! He raised his head in disbelief. Kelly and Smith went to their teammate and hugged him  I’ll never forget seeing Marv Levy cry like a baby. 

I’ve never seen a team, or a city show such amazing character.  Some times life is about losing.  It’s a lesson that sports teach us.  Losing doesn’t build character, it reveals it. I was very proud to be from Buffalo that day, even though we lost the Super Bowl, and the next one, and the next one and the next one.  

People always ask me how it felt watching my team lose four straight Super Bowls.  Well I would take that team back right now.  No question.

Jim Kelly is still showing the world what tough looks like, this time in his fight against cancer.

Marv Levy cried at Kelly’s Hall of Fame induction, and Smith’s and Thomas’ and Reed’s.

As for Scotty Norwood, he didn’t play much football after 1991.  But that wasn’t the end.  He went on to be a very successful businessman…in Buffalo. .

The message to Ensworth players, you can’t win them all. No one does. You complete, you leave it all on the field, you do the best you can, but sometimes you come up short. However, you can always show great character.  And Thursday night, you did. Congratulations!.

Thank You For Granting Us an Early Christmas Wish

On behalf of the staff here at Bellevue Sports Weekly, I want to sincerely thank all of you in this community who have embraced what we are doing with our paper through your advertising support and editorial contributions.

It has been an early Christmas wish come true and we are very grateful.

I am particularly proud of this issue.  It represents the beginning of where I want the paper to go.

When we first set out on this venture, we knew we would not physically be able to cover all the terrific stories that deserved to be told.  We would need the help of the community, to come to us with ideas.

And with this issue, people have come!

People like Theresa Greer.

After only one issue, Theresa found us and wrote us about her and her husbands club, the Music City Archers.

I’ve lived here five years and never knew there was a place you could go and learn to shoot a bow and arrow and even qualify for Olympic events.  Now I do, and after reading about the Greers’ story on Page 8, you will to.

And through the Greer’s I met Tami Hornick.  Tami is a hunter and outdoors enthusiast who joined the Music City Archers to practice and get ready for dear season.  The paper needs an outdoor section, and with Tami’s help, you will see one.

I also had the great pleasure of talking with Todd Snead of the Bellevue Sports and Athletic Association.

Todd found our paper and called to introduce himself and talk about his obvious passion - little league baseball.  He sent in the story that appears on Page 6.

It’s a terrific story of how our community came together and built a wonderful place for our children to play and our parents to come together with a common purpose.

Not even an act of God could stop them, as they banded together and rebuilt what the flood of 2010 destroyed.

I want to personally thank Todd for getting the news out about our paper.  After he emailed his membership and told them about us, our  likes of Facebook increased 435 percent!  We have more hits on our website, and more of our papers are being picked up and read off our newsstands. 

That is exactly the way we wanted to grow, so thank you Todd for your help.

And before I go any further, I would also like to thank the more than 100 area businesses who have allowed us to place our paper inside their doors.  We’d be a secret without you!

Another story I am very excited about came from a young man named Brian Masterson.  He runs Rise Lacrosse in Nashville and recently started teaching our children at the new field house at Boost FitClub. His story is on page 9.

I thought I had a lot of enthusiasm, but after spending five minutes with Brian, I found out what enthusiasm really looks like.

Through his efforts, I’m sure lacrosse is going to continue to grow in popularity and competence in our community, and I’m excited to continue to bring it to you.

Two other people I was happy to meet this week were Tommy Holt and Drew Ducker.  Tommy runs the Nashville Soccer Factory and Drew is a former Vandy star who has become a Futsal expert.  He is coming back to Nashville to teach Tommy’s clinic January 3-4.

I have always been a huge soccer fan and I’m really excited about their camp.  Please read their story on Page 4.

Finally, I was happy to meet with the good folks at the Bellevue YMCA and the Gordon Jewish Community Center.

Both facilities host basketball and swimming teams and other athletic events that we are going to be happy to cover for you, like the soccer leagues we bring you on Page 7.

So again, let me say thank you to everyone who has helped us get this paper off and running.  I’m excited about what 2015 holds for us.

We will be taking the next two weeks off to enjoy with our family, and I hope you do the same. Please have a wonderful holiday, and we will see you again on January 7th!

It really didn’t matter who scored more points in Monday night’s College Championship Game between  Oregon and Ohio State, the NCAA came out the real winner.

They finally got it right.  No more debates about who got a raw deal, or who really is the best team.  It was decided on the playing field, as it should be.

Whether you love Ohio State or hate them, they earned the title.  They overwhelmed Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship to get into the playoff, then beat Alabama, the best in the SEC and Oregon, the best from the Pac 12.  And they beat them all in convincing fashion.

Instead of letting a computer decide, (I think Arnold Schwarzenegger proved in the Terminator movies that that’s never a good idea), the players decided who the best team was.  

I hope the Big 12 understands how important it is to have a clear champion and institutes a playoff next year.  I’m sure TCU would have liked to have one this year.

Maybe the next step in improving the process even further, is to increase the number of teams in the playoff.  How do you have five “Power” conferences, and then only invite four of them to decide who’s the most powerful?

I know, people say the schedule is too long already.  Well maybe Ohio State can drop a game against Youngstown State and Alabama could skip Florida Atlantic.  

Do we really want to watch superior teams destroy much smaller programs.  That kind of treatment went out with the Roman Empire.

It was great watching great teams play meaningful games against each other.  It was thrilling.  It was great competition.  It was absolutely the right thing to do.

NCAA Gets it Right With Football Championship Playoff

 Can you point to one moment in your life that changed everything?

I can.  I was in the fifth grade, and like any 10-year-old boy of that time, I wanted to be a professional baseball player. Even more than wanted to be, I was convinced that I was going to be.  Never really imagined doing anything else.  Consequently, I never really paid much attention in class.  Why bother. After all, Mickey Mantle didn’t need the new math to figure out how to hit the curve, and he made more money than the President of the United States.

Then came that moment.

My hometown newspaper was running a contest, a writing contest. Being a person who loved competition of all sorts, I was interested. 

They invited students of all ages to submit an essay.  The subject: Who do you believe is the greatest American, and why.

My first thought was Mickey Mantle - obviously!  But I decided to sleep on it and decide in the morning.  That was April 4, 1968.

When I came home that day, I was excited to tell my mom about the contest.  She was watching the TV, and tears were in here eyes.

“This just in,” the newsman said. “From Memphis, Tennessee.  The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr was shot today on the balcony of his motel.”  He was dead.

“It’s like the President all over again,” my mother cried.

It was five years earlier, that same newsman broke the news from Dallas.  She never thought she would live to see a day like that again, she said. “That poor, good man.”  

I had no idea who Martin Luther King was.  My uncles used to talk about him, I recalled, but couldn’t remember the conversations.  His death upset my mother so, and my teachers as well.  I wanted to learn all about him.

I watched the TV coverage without fail.  I remember seeing the footage of his “I have a dream” speech for the first time.  I had never heard anyone speak that way.

I went to the library and researched old newspaper clippings.  I read about his devotion to non-violence, amid violence all around him.

I saw photos of him standing behind Lyndon Johnson as the president signed the Civil Rights Act.

I read about his marches and his pleas, to white men and black men, to come together as one nation.

I chose to write about Martin Luther King and I won that contest. That moment changed everything for me.  I fell in love with history, and the written word.

Of course I was still 10 years old and convinced I was going to play for the Yankees some day, but just in case, I had a plan B.

I lettered in three sports in high school, and edited our paper for three years. I volunteered to cover games for the local paper and I will never forget the feeling I had when I saw my byline above the first story of mine they published.

When the Yankees passed on me when I graduated, I joined the service, and became an Air Force journalist.  Where ever the planes would go, they’d send me and I would write about the mission.

When I got out of the service, I took a job with local papers, before starting my own.

For 47 years since that moment in 1968, I have always remained, in one form or another, a writer.

When I started this paper, I extended an open invitation to any young writer to come join us and cover local games. 

 In today’s issue, Jacob Young, a student at Hume Fogg, earned a front page byline for his coverage of the Ensworth boys’ basketball game last week. 

Talking with him, I could hear that familiar excitement and enthusiasm for  writing that captured me.   

He did a great job and I’m looking forward to giving him more assignments and seeing him grow as he learns.

And I hope there are more of you out there who will take advantage of this opportunity.  You might not be an experienced writer.  You may even be a kid dreaming of playing for the Yankees.  Just give it a try. I’m not saying that it will be the moment that changes your life, but hey, you never know!

 An Invitation to Anyone Who’s Ever Dreamed of Writing

I love sports.

What a surprise, I know. But I really do.  I was one of those kids who had a football and baseball glove in my crib the day I was born.

 From that day forward, I have found nothing that beats the thrill of participating, either as a player or spectator, in a great game.

This Saturday, I saw a great game.

The Ensworth Tigers ventured to the Christ Presbyterian Lions home court to take on the number one randed Division AA school in the state.

Of course they didn’t have to venture far, the two schools are about a Bubba Watson drive from each other.  And that was obvious by the crowd, just about a 50-50 split.  The Ensworth fanatics had the bodies painted in black with numbers sketched in.  The CPA fanatics wore khakis and beach attire.  Both were raucous.  It was awesome!

Then there were the teams.

Both schools know what its like to compete at the highest level, and their athletes proved it Saturday.

Being the home team, and ranked so highly, the Lions were favorites. But the tenacious Tigers were buying no part of that argument.

Both teams battled the entire game. Just when it seemed one would gain the advantage, the other team came storming back.

There were great shots. Amazing defensive plays. Turnovers, and overcoming turnovers.

Like any great game, this one came down to the wire.  When CPA was up by four with seconds to go and possession, it looked like it was over.

But again, with the heart of a champion, the Tigers stole the ball, hit a huge 3-pointer, then got the ball back again after a turnover.

The crowd was standing and roaring right up until the last shot rattled out giving CPA the win.  

What an environment.

When I got home, I turned on the TV to Sports Center and listened to more stories about Deflate Gate and Spy Gate. 

Then breaking news about the Yankees quest to deny Alex Rodriquez millions in performance bonuses.  Which of course reminded me of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemons exclusion from the Hall of Fame, MLB writers basically telling you to ignore the last 20 years.

Saturday night reminded everyone what sports can be, and should be. 

Watching Local Sports Beats the Pros Any Day

From The Publisher - Mike Hastings