Sunday, January 06, 2008

Wrestling and The Clash

I've done a lot of things in wrestling without actually having had a competitive match since 3rd grade. (Long story short: injuries ended my high school career after 6 practices.) This year I'm helping coach the proud but few (7, curently) South Park Burros wrestlers. We're a relatively young and inexperienced team, so my lack of actual wrestling experience hasn't been worth worrying about. I just try to rely on my own observations and my experience with the myriad of head coaches with whom I've worked since high school:

  • Rick Caldwell (currently the head coach of Waverly-Shell Rock, IA...more on them later)

  • Leonard "Butch" Wingett (currently teaching at Clarke Middle School in Osceola, IA...coaching status unknown)

  • Steve Price (currently an assistant coach at Johnston, IA...good to see him coaching again)

  • Don Briggs (still teaching at the University of Northern Iowa when he's not exploring the world)

  • Mark Manning (currently the head coach at the University of Nebraska)

  • Brad Penrith (still UNI's head coach)

  • Bob Masse (still head coach at Florence, CO and last year the Gazette's small school coach of the year)

You can add to that an even larger list of assistant coaches: Pat Norem, Lance Keller, Kurt Chesmore, Joel Greenlee, Alan Fried, Joe Stephens, and Steve Hamilton, to name a few. I've watched many practices and tried to learn something from every one, but one of the best things I learned about wrestling came from Bob Masse at Florence at one of our banquets. He put into words what I've always felt was the best thing about this sport: "Wrestling is family." It doesn't seem to matter how the coaches or wrestlers change, the feeling of family stays the same, and that's why I wanted to get more involved here at South Park.

While we had a free Saturday on our schedule here, I've kept busy keeping up with wrestling news from around the country. Oklahoma State upset Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye, UNI beat #10 Chattanooga on the road, and Waverly-Shell Rock won the Clash, recognized as the high school national duals. The Waterloo Courier's coverage of the Clash has been excellent:

Friday: Prep wrestling's best teams set for weekend 'Clash'
Saturday: Clash duals: Go-Hawks go 3-0, but face true test today
Sunday: Go-Hawks win Clash with nation's best

It's great to see Coach Caldwell and his kids win the closest thing you can get to a national team title. It's been 14 years since Caldwell left Iowa Falls, but I can guarantee his practices are still wicked tough and his wrestlers step on the mat prepared for anything.

While I'd love to head home to UNI next weekend for the National Duals, it looks like I'll be sticking with my coaching duties and heading for Westcliffe. Go Burros!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Broadband Internet in South Park

When I moved to Fairplay a year and a half ago, one of my major concerns about living here was the lack of broadband. The only options at the time were two I weren't willing to accept: satellite service from WildBlue and HughesNet. It's not that the service they offer is all that horrible, but the service agreements and contracts (you know, all that fine-print stuff most people don't want to read) were just plain ugly to me. So ugly, in fact, that I went with dialup, something I never thought I'd ever have to do again.

Fortunately, another Fairplay resident named Jerry Wilson with the same distaste for satellite, similar broadband needs, and greater entrepreneurial spirit decided to take matters into his own hands. He bought a T1, put up a big antenna, and resold wireless broadband to people around town. The service is called Parkspeed, and as you can see from the website, it's pretty low-key and still a way for Jerry to satisfy his gaming habits. Despite some intermittent packet-loss problems early on, I've been a happy customer, mostly because Jerry has been so quick to try to resolve any problem I've had, including replacing equipment at no cost.

While Qwest still seems to have to plans to bring in DSL, we've recently gotten two more options here in Fairplay. One, WhisperTel, is another wireless provider who is expanding their operations by placing an antenna on Hoosier Pass. While they offer more speed for less money, hidden a click or two below the service is a mandatory $10/month equipment rental fee, along with service agreements that are more-or-less agreeable. For now I'll stick with Jerry and Parkspeed, and await what competition does to the local market.

The most recent player to market I just noticed today (and thus the impetus for this post): my Verizon wireless phone is now reporting that it receives an EVDO signal. This is probably the one option least known about by the average broadband seeker, but it isn't limited to making your mobile data service much faster. There are adapters available to use the EVDO network on computers, and users should report speeds between 500-700kbps, faster than my current service. Unfortunately, the service agreements are perhaps the worst of all, defining limits for monthly upload/download and apparently the types of connections and content allowed. Ugh.

Not exactly fiber to the home, but progress nonetheless. Happy downloading!