by John Unrein
Miami, here we come. Fifty years of being displaced from professional football’s top game is over for the Kansas City Chiefs. Super Bowl LIV (54) will be played at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida on February 2nd at 5:30pm.
The last time the Chiefs were in the Super Bowl was on January 11th, 1970 during the fourth installment of the game named by Chiefs founder Lamar Hunt. Kansas City would defeat the Minnesota Vikings by a score of 23-7 to be world champions. Chiefs head coach Hank Stram’s offense was able to successfully matriculate the ball down the field under the guidance of “Lenny the Cool”, otherwise known as Len Dawson.
Fast forward to 2020, and the Chiefs have their work cut out for them against the NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers. They are led by head coach Kyle Shanahan.
You are not alone if the last name Shanahan rings a bell. Kyle is the son of former Denver Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan. The elder Shanahan has two Super Bowl rings on his hand from consecutive victories in Super Bowl’s XXXII and XXXIII (32 and 33).
Mike Shanahan has passed more on to his son Kyle than just being a winner. Kyle has learned from his father and mastered the art of the zone running scheme.
Anyone who watched the NFC Championship game witnessed the San Francisco 49ers shred the Green Bay Packers front seven on defense with inside and outside zone runs. Shanahan’s team got off the ball up front with purpose as his offensive line shredded the Packers defensive line and got to the second level against Green Bay’s linebackers with ease.
The 49ers would amass 285 rushing yards on 42 carries, leading to a robust 6.8 yards per carry average on their way to a 37-20 win over the Packers. San Francisco’s rushing performance was not far off their season average of 235.5 yards a game. Good for best in the NFL during the 2019 season.
The Chiefs, under the leadership of defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, will likely be working on bringing an eighth man into the box during game preparation in the form of strong safety Tryann Mathieu to solidify themselves against the run. This worked against the Tennessee Titans during the AFC Championship game as the Chiefs defense held Derrick Henry, the 2019 NFL season rushing champion, to just 69 yards.
San Francisco has countered against loaded eight man boxes by passing the ball in space to rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel and All-Pro tight end George Kittle. The chess game of the Chiefs implementing their defensive game plan and making adjustments as the game unfolds would be aided by Patrick Mahomes and the offense scoring an abundance of points.
Mahomes shared his thoughts after the AFC Championship game on the Chiefs making the Super Bowl and what it will take to win.
“Being able to win the Lamar Hunt AFC Championship Trophy here and do it for the fans of Chiefs Kingdom was awesome. Last year we fell short and we learned from it and have built every single day. Now we have the chance to go Miami and get the ultimate goal of winning the Super Bowl,” Mahomes said.
“If teams are going to put their attention on Tyreek (Hill) or (Travis) Kelce, we have a guy in Sammy Watkins (at wide receiver) that can beat your best corner. It’s huge to have Coach Reid. Being in the game and knowing that there’s going to be adjustments made matters because we have coaches who have been there before.”
Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid will be leading a team in the Super Bowl for the second time in his career. The last time Reid was at the summit of his sport was the 2004 season, when he took the Philadelphia Eagles to Super Bowl XXXIX (39), losing to the New England Patriots 24-21.
Reid has since adopted and implemented vast characteristics of the spread offense that make his team a matchup nightmare. The Chiefs were third in total offense and second in passing yards per game during the 2019 regular season. Kansas City averaged 419 yards a game on offense while heaving the football through the air for a 304 yard per game average.
Reid has indicated that the team will treat the week of January 20th as a full 49ers prep week and is looking forward to the challenge that lies ahead.
“We know that San Francisco is a heck of a football team. With all the distractions that present themselves (with the Super Bowl), we have to focus in and get ready to play against a good football team. That starts here with getting most of the game plan in this week (the first of the two weeks leading up the Super Bowl) while you’re in your own environment and keep things as normal as possible prior to getting down there (Miami) and all the different media obligations you have and things going on,” Reid said.
“Patrick’s legs help. They (defenses) have the ultimate respect for him. We are seeing one or two of our guys doubled as receivers on every down. If the defensive line misses or gets out of their lane a bit, then it opens up running space for number 15. I have confidence that our guys up front on the offensive line will rise up to the challenge this week with the quality of players they will be facing along San Francisco’s defensive front.”
The defensive line of the 49ers boasts five former first round draft picks. They are loaded with talent. The group includes former Chief Dee Ford, along with Nick Bosa, DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, and Solomon Thomas.
The quintet has afforded San Francisco to have the number one overall defense in yards per game allowed this season in the NFL at 252.5. Furthermore, they have been stout against the run only allowing a paltry 41.5 yards a game, good for best in the league this season as well.
The offensive arsenal that will attack the 49ers defense for the Chiefs is full of draft picks and acquisitions from the team’s former general manager. The same goes for the defensive side of the football.
Somewhere, John Dorsey is smiling. The list of current players that become Chiefs under Dorsey’s watch as general manager is impressive.
Starters Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Eric Fisher, Mitchell Schwartz, Dr. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Tanoh Kpassagnon, and Chris Jones round out the list. Dorsey definitely has an eye for the type of talent it takes to play in the National Football League. Hiring Brett Veach to work in the Chiefs front office also was not a bad move by Dorsey.
Veach has added to Dorsey’s shrewd roster moves as the current general manager of the team. Trading for Frank Clark along with the free agent signings of Anthony Hitchens, Damien Wilson, and Tyrann Mathieu have fueled a quick turnaround for a team that has transitioned to a 4-3 defensive scheme this season under Spagnuolo.
The Chiefs have shored up what use to be an Achilles Heel. Kansas City was ranked third in the league in rushing defense this season at 89.5 yards a game. Such seamless transitions are rare in the National Football League and typically take longer than one season; especially with the memory of Rex Burkhead of the New England Patriots running the ball across the goal line last year in overtime to end the Chiefs season in the AFC Championship game.
The United States has seen nine Presidents since the last time the Chiefs appeared in a Super Bowl. Cell phones, Homeland Security, DVD’s, space shuttles, iPads, ATM’s, and American Idol have become a part of the American fabric since 1970. Kansas City will be the home team in this year’s Super Bowl and will get to dawn the same red jerseys they wore in Super Bowl IV (4). Las Vegas has pegged the Chiefs as 1.5 point favorites in the game. The team has an awesome opportunity to bring the Vince Lombardi Super Bowl trophy back to Kansas City.
Photo credit: Lee’s Summit Tribune | Joey Hedges, photographer.
The Kansas City Chiefs have come a long way since their training camp preparation on the campus of Missouri Western University.
Photo credit: Valley News staff
by John Unrein
The Grain Valley Lady Eagles basketball team took an 11 point lead into halftime against a tough conference opponent in the Fort Osage Indians on Tuesday, January 21st. Grain Valley was initially unable to build a sizeable lead due to a Fort Osage team that played tough man to man defense and was efficient at moving the basketball for open looks with screens.
Junior Forward Jordyn Weems started the third quarter determined to stretch her team’s lead while also drawing the assignment of defending the leading scorer for Fort Osage in Junior Guard Kiyley Flowers. Weems was up for both tasks.
“My confidence is growing because Coach Draper gives me a job and I do it. Offense is not my special suit and I have been working to improve there. It seems like it’s starting to come together. Coming off my injury last year, I felt like a Freshman again at certain points early in this season,” Weems said.
“The challenge tonight defensively for us was not losing the player we were assigned to guard. We had good help off the screens along with being quick to recover if we were screened. My favorite part of the game tonight was seeing us relax at the start of the second half due to us getting up and down the court in transition as well as creating turnovers. It provided a confidence that calmed us.”
Weems would contribute 7 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 well timed steals. The decisiveness displayed with her passing, driving the lane, and stepping in front of passes to create turnovers fired up her teammates and Lady Eagles Head Coach Randy Draper.
“I was really pleased tonight with the way we played defensively. We got a couple of kids in (Malia) Guttierrez and Weems that are tough and athletic players that match up well against the good scorers of our opponents. Sound rebounding allowed us to sprint out in transition and get a couple of easy ones. In this game every easy basket is valuable,” Draper said.
“Weems is starting to figure out how to play to her strengths. She caught the basketball in places where she could hurt them and that got Grace (Slaughter) open more. It’s a bonus for us that teams are starting to have to worry about other people offensively when they play us.”
Freshman Guard Grace Slaughter drove the lane and worked for position under the basket while showcasing a drifting shot with her left hand; quite an impressive feat considering Slaughter is right handed and learned to shoot efficiently with her left hand due to an injury in middle school.
“I broke my right collar bone in sixth grade, and it required surgery. I now write with my left hand. For six months straight I was shooting the basketball left handed in the gym. It has allowed me to be comfortable finishing drives with my left hand along with drifting that direction shooting with my left hand,” Slaughter said.
“We knew tonight that Fort Osage was an athletic team. Kiyley Flowers was going to handle the basketball and shoot a lot tonight. Coach Draper preached staying on her, crashing the middle, and hitting the boards to prevent them from having second chances. Seeing Jordyn take off tonight was awesome. She played lock down defense at times on Kiyley (Flowers).”
Slaughter would score 28 points, pull down 8 rebounds, and contribute 1 block. The strength of play by both Weems and Slaughter assured the 53-32 win for Grain Valley over Fort Osage. The Lady Eagles improve to 10-4 on the season.
Up next for Grain Valley will be a chance at redemption when they host the Kearney Bulldogs on Thursday, January 23rd. Kearney is responsible for one of Grain Valley’s four losses. Draper provided insight on the importance of the upcoming game.
“Kearney is next for us. That’s one of our four losses. They beat us by twenty points last time. We are looking forward to the matchup again, and it will be a lot of fun. I love how much we’ve improved. It will be a challenge for us as they (the Bulldogs) are a really good team as well,” Draper said.
by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
Having read several Broadcasters this past week, I can assure you not only school, but life was very different in 1940. The school was apparently the center of everything social in Grain Valley, as every issue mentions at least one school dance or party. There was the school dance, the hayride, the school carnival, the Pie and Box Social and the Halloween Party, all within the first two months of school.
Also, school assemblies are mentioned frequently. From the back-to-school assembly during the first week to marionettes, the junior play, and a musical presentation, there was apparently an assembly every week.
During American Education Week, held the first week in November, there were daily topics which included the following: Enriching Spiritual Life, Strengthening Civic Loyalties, Financing Public Education, Safeguarding Natural Resources, Perpetuating Individual Liberties, and Building Economic Security. As I perused the topics, I found that although the topics are 80 years old, not much has changed. Or has it?
On spiritual life --“America was founded upon a spiritual foundation by earnest pioneers seeking to govern themselves and to worship God in their own way….great teachers of all faiths in schools, public and private, encourage religious feeling and practices as the foundation of moral conduct. The schools guide pupils to enriched spiritual living thru the development of character, the encouragement of right conduct, the opening of minds to new horizons, the practice of tolerance, a steady emphasis upon the sacredness of human personality, and a constant leadership in the search for truth, goodness and beauty.”
On civic loyalties –“Although government of the people, by the people, and for the people has not solved all our problems, who would exchange it for the tyranny and force which prevail today in so many parts of the world?”
On financing public education –“The public elementary and secondary schools of the United States cost 2 billion dollars a year (an average of $75 dollars per pupil).” Okay, so times have changed.
However, the final statement might still be applicable, “…millions are unemployed; hunger exists amid plenty; crime takes a vast toll; ill health ravages the underprivileged. These conditions need not exist in a wealthy nation. They can be corrected by improving the individual and promoting the general welfare, which the schools seek to do.”
On safeguarding natural resources –“There is still time to safeguard resources so that we shall have plenty if we consistently strengthen the conservation movement. The schools will be a mighty factor in this vital educational campaign.”
On perpetuating individual liberties –"Education perpetuates individual liberties by developing a people able to govern themselves and determine that America shall remain the land of the free and the home of a people unafraid of the duties that liberty entails.”
On building economic security – “Certain broad objectives are generally agreed upon as necessary, including (1) conservation of natural resources, (2) upbuilding of human resources, (3) extension of taxation according to ability to pay, (4) fair play between capital and labor, (5) social security, and (6) unemployment insurance….to help develop these qualities in all the people is the task of the schools.”
Learn more about the Grain Valley Historical Society at www.grainvalleyhistory.com.
The following information is derived from the Grain Valley Police Department daily calls for service log for the week of January 8-14, 2020.
by Denise Sullivan, Nutrition & Health Education Specialist, MU Extension-Jackson County
During the cold winter months, turning to canned, dried or frozen vegetables and fruits is still a good way to get more plants on your plate. In fact, many dried legumes or their canned counterparts often make their way to hearty, cold weather meals.
Legumes are a unique food, which includes beans like kidney, pinto, lima, garbanzo and black beans, black-eyed peas, split peas and lentils. Legumes are an excellent source of plant protein, as well as iron and zinc, making them an excellent alternative to meat for meeting protein needs.
However, legumes also count as part of the vegetable group because of their abundance of dietary fiber and nutrients like folate, magnesium and potassium. Regardless of which food group you classify them, legumes are a good addition to anyone’s diet.
Protein found in legumes is beneficial in building and repairing muscle tissue. Legumes are also rich in complex carbohydrates, containing both insoluble and soluble fiber, beneficial in digestive health, heart health and insulin resistance.
Beans also contain complex sugars called oligosaccharides, which are non-digestible, fermentable fibers, which research is revealing to be beneficial for gut health and other health conditions.
Certainly, the most economical way to purchase legumes is in the dried form. A ½-cup serving of dried beans is about one-third the cost of canned beans. Preparing dried beans is a simple process, but does take some lead-time.
First, spread beans on a large tray and pick out any foreign objects like small stems or stones, as well as any broken beans. Next, place in a colander and rinse under cold running water. The third step is soaking, either with the cold-water overnight method or a hot soak, which involves boiling for two to three minutes before soaking for four or more hours. Whichever soaking method is used, the water should be drained and fresh water added for the final step of cooking.
Using fresh water for cooking reduces much of the gas-causing carbohydrates. As the beans rehydrate, additional water is often needed during cooking. Herbs and spices can be added anytime during cooking and some studies show that bay leaf reduces uncomfortable gas.
Acidic ingredients like tomato products or wine should be added near the end of cooking, as they can interfere with the tenderness of beans.
A pressure cooker is another great alternative to preparing dry beans quickly. Combining pressure and heat dramatically reduces cooking time by about one-third. Check your appliance manual for specific directions.
Lentils and split peas are great choices for beginners, because they do not require soaking before cooking. With these legumes, simply remove any foreign debris, rinse and cook according to recipe directions.
If you do choose the convenience of canned beans, it is a good idea to look for low or no sodium options to help stay in line with current general dietary recommendations of 2300 milligrams of sodium per day. If there is not a reduced sodium option, draining and rinsing the beans can reduce sodium amounts significantly.
A 2009 study conducted at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, showed that draining beans removes, on average, 36% of the sodium in canned beans. Draining and rinsing removes, on average, 41% of the sodium.
The recipe below is tasty with any type of bean; however, black beans and black-eyed peas are my favorites. If you missed your ‘good luck’ dose of black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day, go a head and sneak them in now!
Jackson County Public Works Environmental Health Division inspects all restaurants, grocery stores, schools, mobile food and temporary food establishments in the City of Grain Valley. The following violations were reported in the last 30 days:
Valley Pub & Patio
640 NW Yennie
There were dead flies in the bottom of the reach in freezer in the grill area. Correct by 2/25/2020.
There was dust on the ceiling tiles and the ceiling vents in the grill area above to-go containers. Correct by 2/25/2020.
There was food debris inside the reach in freezer. Correct by 2/25/2020.
Grain Valley North Middle School
31608 N Pink Hill Road
There is ice buildup in the walk in freezer on the floor. Repeat violation, correct by 3/5/2020.
144 McQuerry Rd.
Inspection date: 1/6/2020.
No violations recorded.
901 SW Ryan Rd.
Inspection date: 1/7/2020.
No violations recorded.
210 NW Jefferson
Employees drink and food was stored on a shelf where food is prepped. Corrected on site.
Casey's General Store #2808
101 S Buckner Tarsney Road
The interior of the microwave had an accumulation of stuck on food debris. Corrected on site.
There was no date marking on containers of marinara sauce in the make table coolers. Corrected on site.
Boxes of single-serve items stored on the floor in stock areas. Corrected on site.
Ceiling vents in the kitchen area have accumulation of dust. Second repeat violation. Correct by 3/8/2020.
109 AA Highway
The scoop utensils for foods on the make table were stored on a dirty surface. Correct by 3/8/2020.
701 SW Eagles Parkway
There is a leak underneath the warewashing machine. Correct by 3/15/2020.
Prairie Branch Elementary
2100 Dilingham Road
There is a leak underneath the warewashing machine. Correct by 3/15/2020.
The filing period for mayoral and aldermen candidates ended January 21st, with only one minor change since Valley News last reported on candidates.
Ward II incumbent Yolanda West originally filed for election but has withdrawn. Voters in Ward II will now choose between Joey Burgett and Rick Knox.
In Ward I, incumbent Jayci Stratton has filed for re-election and remains unopposed. In Ward III, Bob Headley has filed for re-election and will run unopposed.
Two candidates have filed to challenge Mayor Michael Todd, who is up for re-election in April. Jeff Craney and Chuck Johnston have both filed as candidates for the mayoral race.
The election for both City candidates and school board candidates will be held Tuesday, April 7, 2020. In order to be eligible to vote you must be registered at your current home address by the fourth Wednesday prior to the election in which you wish to vote.
Residents may register in person at the Jackson County Election Board office at 215 N. Liberty, Independence, MO 64050 or any one of the authorized locations in this jurisdiction. Locations in Grain Valley include the Mid-Continent Public Library Grain Valley branch and Grain Valley City Hall. Residents may also print and complete the Missouri Voter Registration Application form found at the Election Board website, www.jcebmo.org, and deliver in person to JCEB or mail to Jackson County Election Board, P.O. Box 296, Independence, MO 64051.
Candidate Profile: Chuck Johnston
Valley News will feature a candidate for City or Grain Valley School board in the weeks leading up to the April election. Information is provided by the candidates and edited for space and clarity. This week, we profile Chuck Johnston, candidate for Mayor.
I have been married to Diana since 1981. We have two sons, 8 grandchildren, and 1 one great granddaughter. I served 4 years in the United States Marine Corps from 1967 to 1971.We built a home in Grain Valley in 2001 and have lived here ever since. I have worked at OOIDA since 1988; the first 25 years as manager of the insurance claims department. I retired in 2014, and within 7 months found out retirement wasn't something I was good at or really wanted to do. I went back to work at OOIDA in 2015 and still work there.
2006 Grain Valley Citizen of the Year
2008 Pillar of the Community, Grain Valley
24 Years operated the GV Santa Bus (My favorite activity)
10 years Alderman Ward II Grain Valley
1-year Mayor Pro Tem Grain Valley
6 Years Board of Directors State Bank of Missouri
15 Years Grain Valley Economic Development Council
10 years volunteered as cook for Night Out Against Crime Grain Valley
10 Years Board of Directors Grain Valley Assistance Council
7 Years Treasurer of Grain Valley Chamber of Commerce
10 Years held every officer position in the Grain Valley Lions Club
5 Years Board of Directors Grain Valley & Oak Grove Police Dept. Victims’ Rights Committee
I have taken an active role, as my history shows, in this city since I started working in Grain Valley. I care deeply about his community and want to see it prosper. I feel the city needs to take a different path on its past spending practices. We need to do more to repair streets, curbs and infrastructure that have been overlooked too long. We need to stop investing tax dollars in properties that don't directly benefit the city.
I have a well-rounded background that I feel makes me the best candidate available to guide this city in those endeavors as your next Mayor. I'm asking for your support, the voters of Grain Valley, to help me get this city back on the right path.
by Tracey Shaffer, RDN, LD
We have all seen that friend, co-worker or relative that has recently dropped a lot of weight and fast. When we ask what they did to lose the weight they tell us the latest fad diet and we begin to wonder if that isn’t the way to go.
It’s easy to get caught up in the promise of popular diets but it’s also easy to get confused. Unfortunately, nearly all of those who follow a fad diet with quick weight loss gain all, and sometimes more, of the weight back. The worst part is that because quick weight loss plans tend to cause you to lose muscle, the weight gained back is fat, not muscle, and you end up worse off than when you started.
Fad diets are flashy and they sound easy. But unfortunately weight loss is not easy and most fad diets fizzle. If you want to be a successful loser, evaluate weight loss plans carefully and look for these red flags.
Magic or miracle diet – There are no magic foods or miracle diets that magically melt away fat. What works for one person is not guaranteed to work for another.
No need to exercise – The key to successful long-term weight loss is regular exercise. Simple activities like walking or biking are important for healthy weight and for overall good health.
Easy – Weight loss is not easy. Successful weight loss requires making positive changes to both eating habits and physical activity patterns.
Eat specific foods – No individual food can cause weight loss. Weight loss means sticking to healthful eating habits that include a variety of foods.
Quick weight loss– Studies show that gradual, steady weight loss increases your chances of maintaining a healthy weight. Aim to lose one to two pounds per week.
Lists good and bad foods – There are no good foods or bad foods, just good diets and bad diets. All foods can fit into your weight loss plan in moderation. Look for a plan that you can realistically follow for the rest of your life.
Ultra low calories – Diets with less than 1200 calories don’t have enough nutrients to be healthy. And, a diet very low in calories leads to binge eating and muscle wasting.
You can succeed at losing weight. The key is to be patient and do some research before jumping into the latest fad. Healthy eating and exercise are the only tried and true strategies for losing weight and keeping it off.
A healthy diet begins with breakfast. Get out your slow cooker and have a healthy breakfast waiting for you in the morning.
Tracey Shaffer, RDN, LD is a registered dietitian at the Blue Springs Hy-Vee. She can be reached at email@example.com. The information is not intended as medical advice.
Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.
by John Unrein
One word can be used to sum up the Grain Valley Eagles win against the Clinton Cardinals on Tuesday, January 14th. That word is hustle. The Eagles Boys Basketball team would stretch a 16-10 lead at the end of the first quarter into a 66-39 victory in their opening game of the 95th annual Pleasant Hill Boys Basketball Invitational.
The hustle that defined Grain Valley’s win was a team effort. Seniors AJ Salisbury, Caden Matlon, Josh Kilpatrick, Gavin Oyler, and Seth Dankenbring were all active in providing contributions in helping to assure the outcome. Salisbury is becoming a swiss army knife for the Eagles, capable of fulfilling many roles for the team.
“All of us played our tails off tonight. Coming off the North Kansas City loss last week we wanted to turn the page and play our best. We as a team found a good rhythm tonight moving the basketball and finding who’s open,” Salisbury said.
“My teammates have really good court vision. We were unselfish tonight in moving the basketball and it paid off. Doing that allowed us to have fun and win the game.”
The tools that Salisbury is continuing to develop in his repertoire of shooting, passing, rebounding and defending are padding the stat sheet as well as his team’s confidence. Salisbury would score 17 points, contribute 9 rebounds, 5 steals, and 1 assist on a night that saw himself and the rest of Grain Valley’s starters head to the bench with four minutes left in the final quarter with the outcome secured.
Eagles Boys Basketball Head Coach Andy Herbert is not surprised by Salisbury’s growth or the effort he put forth in the team’s win.
“AJ is our band aid guy. He’s the one that not enough people talk about, but when you look, he’s typically doing something good. He doesn’t say much and he’s a tough nose kid that plays the game the right way,” Herbert said.
“He’s (Salisbury) a great cutter without the basketball and our guys did a good job finding him in open spots tonight. That unselfish play was part of the formula for our win.”
Matlon and Kirkpatrick were active in creating offense for the Eagles when screens and ball movement did not yield open shots against Clinton’s man to man defense. Matlon weaved through defenders driving the lane for contested layups. Meanwhile, Kirkpatrick would drift from the post to the arc in locating open looks at the basket. Both would finish with 14 points.
“Matlon created a lot for us in the second half. He wasn’t his typical explosive self tonight. He got banged up in practice yesterday. His IQ allows him to see things happen before they develop on the court. We have guys that have played together for so long that they know what the other one’s going to do and that contributes to our success,” Herbert said.
Dankenbring and Oyler divided five fouls among them in avoiding the Cardinals having easy scoring opportunities. Their hustle on the defensive end of the court for the Eagles allowed them to play sound man to man defense for much of the game.
Herbert reflected on where his team is at during this point of the season.
“I thought last Friday (against North Kansas City) we took a step. Every year there’s a game where you see things click for your team. I thought last Friday in our loss we figured some things out that we will need moving forward,” Herbert said.
“The chemistry and comradery that have always been there were solidified through the adversity we faced. This is a good and tough group that like each other and that matters as it can’t be replaced. I don’t know as a coach if your ever completely where you want to be, but we are in a pretty good place right now moving forward.”
Senior Gavin Olyer attempts a shot in the post.
Photo credit: Valley News staff
Senior AJ Salisbury attempts a free throw.
Photo credit: Valley News staff
I was concerned about Joey (that’s not his real name). Joey came into my public speaking class and announced sheepishly that this would be his fourth time! I smiled and said, “Well, I’m not sure what happened the other three times, but I’ll help you get through this class. Perhaps the fourth time will be the charm. After all, no one wants to take public speaking more than once!” Joey looked unconvinced.
Joey was a good student; he just had a few tough breaks. Like many kids, he had come to play sports. Getting an education was secondary. Unfortunately, the sports thing didn’t work out. He was drifting. He lacked purpose.
Joey was a little timid, but he surprised me. He was pretty sharp and was completing his work. I imagined great things for him. He wasn’t much of a talker and was a closed book. He approached me at the end of class in week three saying, “I’m gonna need you to sign this.” He gave me a form and a pen. I had seen this form several times before and it was no big deal. It was a validation that a student was coming to class. I tried to make light of it, “Just the date and my name so that they knew you came to class?” I asked. “Yeah, I just got in some trouble,” he said. “No need to elaborate,” I responded. “I’m just glad you’re here and you’re doing well.”
Joey missed a class, but no big deal. He told me in advance. Then, at about week ten Joey missed two in a row. He was still on track to pass, but he missed a couple of vital assignments.
I sent him an email saying I missed him in class and to let me know that he was okay. I promised any type of aid to help him get back on track. No response. He missed the next class too—it was now three in a row. I sent him a desperate email pleading for information assuring him that, although it was late in the semester and he was way behind, he could still pass the class. Silence.
In frustration, I contacted the head of the Communications department and explained my dilemma. “I’ve never really had this happen,” I complained. “I’m not sure what to do.” She gave me some great advice. “It’s a tough thing to deal with, Wayne, but students have the right to fail.”
She was right. His absence was hitting me hard and I was taking it personally as if I had let him down. I am passionate about education now and a perpetual student, but, it hasn’t always been that way.
My mind went back to my senior year in high school. I was always just a mediocre student in school. Things really went downhill the last couple of years. I just barely skated by in eleventh grade and then tanked as a senior. I wasn’t unintelligent, I just didn’t get it and didn’t want it.
As a senior, I just decided to skip school. Not just days, but weeks. In fact, I missed more than a month. I wasn’t sick. I just didn’t want to go and hid it from my mom.
“Who needs an education?” I thought. As a senior in high school, I was a lead guitar player in a band and my future was already laid out. I was going to be famous. I was also into drugs and the party life. I could care less about school.
Several dramatic events changed the course of my life. First, I was busted for not being in school and my mom found out. The school allowed me to enter a work program where I went to school half a day and worked half a day. In addition, I would have to go to summer school. I ended up graduating with my class, but on the day of graduation, they handed me a blank piece of paper. My diploma would not come until after the completion of summer school. I begrudgingly finished.
The second dramatic event was being taken home in handcuffs by the local police for possession of drugs. Because I was seventeen, I was taken home and not to jail. I was in big trouble and had to go before a judge and perform community service. The final life-altering moment was recognizing my need for a savior and entering into a relationship with God through Jesus and getting involved in church.
Some years later, something clicked. I believed God was calling me to become a pastor. Now, I actually wanted to go back to school and get an education. By now, the educational fires had been lit and I was passionate about learning and excelling academically. A switch had been turned on.
It was called a “mishap”. On January 24, 1961, a U.S. B-52 bomber carrying two hydrogen bombs broke apart over rural North Carolina. The two bombs fell into a field. Thankfully, they didn’t detonate. The results would have been catastrophic as the bombs were 250 times more destructive than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
Finding the two bombs became priority number one for our military. The first bomb was routine. A safety parachute deployed, and the weapon landed safely and remained in one piece. Crews were easily able to find, deactivate, and haul the bomb away. The second bomb proved more troublesome.
The major problem with the second bomb was that the parachute did not deploy. The bomb catapulted to earth at 700 miles an hour. Although it did not go off, it was deeply buried in a swamp. Crews worked frantically to find the component that contained the arm safe switch and the 92 detonators burrowed in the swamp.
When they found the arm safe switch, they were horrified to find it was in the “on” position. They deactivated the device. It then took the crew 8 days to find and remove all the explosive material. The core, however, was never recovered. It is still buried in rural North Carolina and believed to be about 200 feet below the ground. The best that workers could was to encase the area in concrete.
Most of this information was a mystery and hidden from the general public. The details about the “mishap” were not fully known until 2013 when the information was declassified. The story is unbelievably frightening. The event could have been devastating.
I wish Joey’s story ended differently. Joey never came back to class and I never heard from him again. With him went a piece of my heart. Maybe because I saw part of me in him. Joey failed the class. He chose to. I couldn’t force him to care or force him to pass. He was one of the ones that got away.
But, Joey’s story is still being written. It’s his story and it’s classified. Every semester I look to see if he’s on the roster, but it hasn’t happened yet. One day, perhaps, he’ll be there, and who knows, maybe the fifth time will be the charm. Success is up to him. The switch just needs to be turned on. When it does, I’d like to be there to see it happen and I’d love to be a part of the process.
Wayne Geiger is the Pastor of First Baptist Grain Valley, an Adjunct Associate Professor of Speech, and freelance writer.