Raven seniors stand tall

Think about it. You are beginning a new high school. What do you do? Sports are important to a school, but where do the athletes come from? Will they be any good? Will they want to play for your school? These are questions with no answers, not at first.

So this is the grand experiment in 2010, and the Rocky River Ravens football team was the biggest petri dish at Rocky River High School.

 

A little history

At the start of the 2010 school year, some things were obvious for the football team. For example, all of the players trying out for the team were from another high school. The current seniors were sophomores then. Christian Irias and B-y Sandiemanie came from Butler High School, and Brandon Harris and Sidney Lawson were from Independence High School. Initially, was anybody on the team happy to change schools? “No,” was the unanimous response.

“It wasn’t easy at first,” Lawson said, “I played as a freshman at Independence then had to come here and start all over.”

 

The first year

Of course there were going to be growing pains. Beginning anything from scratch is difficult. Imagine starting a football team. The logistics of obtaining equipment, fields, and schedules was daunting at times.

“The field wasn’t ready when we started practice in June. We practiced at an elementary school,” says Sandiemanie.

“We couldn’t lift weights that first year either,” says Harris. “The weight room wasn’t ready until the second year, so we tried to work out when we could, either individually or in groups. I think that probably put us at a competitive disadvantage.”

Most of the players came from successful programs. They were used to winning. Now they were looking at enemy faces in the huddle. Trust was an issue the first year.

“These were guys we knew, but we knew them from the other teams they played on,” Irias said. “It was hard, mentally, to feel comfortable, because we didn’t really know each other yet. At least not well enough to gel as a team. Looking back I don’t think it was anybody’s fault, it just took time. Predictably perhaps, that first year ended with a team record of 0-11.”

 

Year two

By the beginning of the 2011 season, the team began to feel more comfortable with each other.

“The first year you would see T-shirts and stuff with the logos from the other schools, the second year not as much,” says Sandiemanie.

This was the year the team was able to lift weights together in their own weight room. Head Coach Jason Fowler feels this has been important to team building.

In 2010, the players came from different schools, and were accustomed to different offensive and defensive plays and schemes. But by 2011, the team had shaken off the newness and began to embrace the Ravens’ way of playing football as taught by Coach Fowler and his staff.

“At our other schools, they were more established and it was hard to get no- ticed,” says Harris. “But being here we had a chance to show what we could do. That was one advantage.” In year two, the record improved to 2- 9.

 

Year three

Those young pups who were sophomores in 2010 are now seniors. They’ve been through a lot, as football players and as young men. They’ve been through things their friends at their former schools have not had to endure.

“It was humbling to see those other schools have success while we struggled,” says Lawson. “But we tried to see the bigger picture.”

Now the younger players on the team look up to the seniors.

“We want to show them how it goes,” Irias added. “We want to leave a legacy as a successful team. Our goal has always been to get to the playoffs and then see what happens. That goal is within our reach this year if we keep improving and playing like we’re capable of playing.”

What about the school as a whole?

“The school is behind us now,” says Lawson. “We don’t see other school’s T-shirts anymore, just ours.”

More than halfway through the season, the team has already more than doubled its previous win total. The overall record this year is 5-2. The team has been competitive, even in its two losses. All of its remaining games are winnable. That is a far cry from where the team was about 30 months ago.

The last sentence on this season has yet to be written, but this much can be said—this is not a collection of players from other teams. This team is now the Rocky River Ravens.

Share

Madness brings out crowd

The parade, concerts, food, and rides are packed away, and downtown Mint Hill is back to normal, but last weekend, Madness was in full swing, flooding the streets with parade floats, vendors, food, and patrons.

This year’s Madness saw a notable increase in attendance, with record numbers for the Lions Club 5k run and an especially long parade.

“We had a real good event this year, it seemed like there was more thorough planning,” said Bob Lucas, member of the Camber of Commerce Board of Directors. “Certainly the people that visited expressed their appreciation for everything that went on, our vendors developed a lot of contacts in the community, and fireworks came off without a hitch.”

The chamber won’t know their monetary return on the event for a few weeks, when invoices are reported and the Chamber can evaluate the money generated, but so far, reviews from people involved have been positive.

“I was talking to some of my partners in the chamber and we have heard nothing but good reviews—our ride partner had a terrific event, our food vendors had a terrific event,” Lucas said.

Saturday morning, the parade made it all the way through the mile-long route rain-free and with more marchers than usual.

“It’s the first time that anybody can remember there were that many people lined on the street on either side of 51,” Ferretti said. “I think it’s the most we’ve had out there.”

Lucas also noted this year’s larger parade.

“It was really interesting to stand out on Hwy. 51 and look from the intersection of Lawyers Road and look both ways and see the parade lined up as far as you can see,” said Lucas.

Prior to the parade, the Lions Club 5k race drew plenty of attention on its own, with record number of runners.

“The Lions’ 5k race, they were over the top,” Ferretti said. “There was something like 369 registered runners for the race, the most that we’ve ever had.”

The only problem this year was a short rain shower that lasted about an hour, which hardly put a dent in the festivities.

“The only thing is we had that little shower in the middle of the afternoon, but that was out of our control,” Lucas said, “But seemed like everyone hung in there with us and once we looked off to the west, we were able to see some blue sky and wound up, we had a terrific evening.”

Looking to 2013, the Chamber has to rethink the general layout of the event, because the old town hall will be converted to the police station, presenting a

new set of logistical challenges.

“The Chamber’s going to sit down with the mayor and the chief of police and the fire department and everybody that was involved,” Ferretti said.

That conversation should happen by February or March of 2013, with the main concerns being where to put the events and rides that, next year, won’t be able to be located in the same area.

Overall, the event was considered a huge success by the Chamber, Ferretti and Lucas saying that everyone they spoke to gave positive feedback and showed intentions to be back for 2013.

“I think it was fantastic, actually,” Ferretti said. “I’m getting tons of positive feedback, whether it be email, text, or phone calls, I think that it was great this year.”

Share

Grassroots meteorologist provides Mint Hill forecast

The brain of the Mint Hill weather station: the solar-powered black and white cylinders stand five feet from the ground, measuring temperature, humidity, air pressure, and rain, transmitting data every three seconds, 24 hours a day. PHOTO COURTESY OF CHRIS MULLIS

Mint Hill is home to a weather station that provides a large amount of weather data at the local level. A 34-foot pole stands just a few miles from downtown, measuring temperature, humidity, air pressure, rain, and light, while transmitting data every three seconds to be uploaded to MintHillWeather.com.

The weather station is the solo project of Mint Hill resident Chris Mullis, who grew up in Charlotte, being introduced to the world of science through the Charlotte Amateur Astronomers Club. His passion for astronomy led him to a doctorate degree at the University of Hawaii.

Astronomers develop a relationship with the weather, as they depend on clear skies for observations. They also share with meteorologists the fundamentals of data collecting as scientists. So it was easy for Mullis to cross over to the meteorological world a couple months ago when he constructed his weather station and built his website.

Alongside dozens of charts, graphs, and columns of information are visual aides. The live sky camera, daily videos, and blog illustrating phenomena of the sky provide fascinating visuals from a local perspective. Visitors can see a full-screen lightning flash from last Saturday morning, a meteor from the August 12 Perseid shower, or simply watch the sky grow brighter from the rising sun any given day.

“Visual information is the most powerful type of information,” explained Mullis. “Science begins with observation, and what better way to question the natural world than by looking at it.”

His inspiration for this latest scientific endeavor was in large part his children. As they progress through their education, Mullis wants to keep their curiosities alive. He talks to classrooms of young children about astronomy and meteorology, hoping to instill the importance of questions.

“I’m a grassroots agitator for science education and asking why and questioning the simple stuff; pausing to look and think, ‘why is that?’ I’m taking this weather science and using it as a reason to have a conversation about science and technology. I’m not trying to generate new meteorologists or new astronomers, I’m trying to get kids and citizens to think about science and technology.”

For that reason, he regularly takes out the telescope at home for his children. For special astronomical occasions, the neighborhood kids visit for observations.

MintHillWeather.com was not created just as a tool for teaching science. It’s a useful site for anyone wanting the local weather forecast. Radar images come from Weather Underground in exchange for the high quality data Mullis collects. Current conditions and forecasts provide the casual weather-watcher with the information they need to make the day’s or week’s plans. Scrolling down the home page, more detailed information can be found like precipitation and the UV index, useful for gardeners.

Visitors can also find advisories and astronomical observation charts. The current solar image is always available, illustrating the mind-blowing size of the sun (look for the Earth and Jupiter scale markers). Mint Hill residents can obtain information from the website in a variety of convenient ways. The website is easy to remember and navigate. Following the forecast on Twitter (twitter.com/MintHillWeather) provides live weather conditions on the hour every hour. The Facebook (facebook.com/MintHillWeather) page posts current conditions and the forecast every morning and afternoon. The site also has a mobile version for smart phone use.

Share