The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

February 24, 2013

Sports Editor Don McCormack's Mailbag: The Mailbag makes its return

Star Beacon

On Heartbreak Highway


I read this, and all I could think of is how (my daughter), Keegan, broke down on Wednesday during Senior night (at Edgewood).

It surprised me, then I was crying because I understand how important sports are. Playing made me a better person and these seniors are all realizing its coming to an end.

I know Keegan loves it‚ it’s her life. :)

Tamera McTrusty

(via Facebook)

Tammy, you, too, felt the pain of Heartbreak Highway in three sports during our high school days, so you know it firsthand, too. — DM


Remembering those days and those kids — you made me cry, Donnie.

More, please...

Deanna Blough

(via Facebook)

Deanna, apologies for the tears, but thank you. — DM


Eloquent way to capture the emotion that accompanies the end of any season, especially on the hardwood. Keep writing, Don.

Love reading your work.

David Negin

(via Facebook)

David, not sure if the word “eloquent” had ever previously been associated with me, but thank you. — DM


Great article right there.

Jim English

(via Facebook)

Thanks, Jim. I know you know this pain, too. — DM


A few years ago, I went back and scrapbooked a lot of my senior year clippings, much of which was basketball. (My mom’s aunt saved EVERYTHING).

One of the pictures I found was of me, fighting back tears and accepting my district runner-up plaque, after losing at Edgewood to Villa Angela-St. Joseph my senior year (1992).

It had run in the Beacon next to an article about the game.

Even though I went on to play in college, that moment still sticks with me, and I know exactly what you are talking about, and exactly how that pain feels.

Amy (Wolf) Cohen

(via Facebook)

Amy, I remember that game — and that photo — very well. — DM


I enjoyed your Heartbreak Highway column... wish you were still writing.

It brought back memories of the greatest Class A team I ever saw in this area. I was junior-varsity coach at Badger in the early 1980s. The 1980-81 varsity won 26 in a row before losing in Columbus by two points to Columbus Academy.

We had common opponents with you. We destroyed PV, 80-41, and St. John, 79-45. But yes, Newton Falls was a challenge. They were in our league and we won both times by six points. We also snapped Indian Valley South’s 52-game home winning streak in December 1980 (coached by Charlie Huggins, Bob Huggins’ dad).

Dale Blaney made first-team All-Ohio two years in a row — 1981 and 1982. He made the final 14 of the Los Angeles Lakers in 1986 before walking off. They kept 12 for their roster. Bill Bogan is currently head coach for the Howland Tigers. Dale’s brother, Dave Blaney, has been on the NASCAR circuit for many years.

Getting back to your story, yes, it is devastating when you lose your final high school game. It was for me in 1967 when Pymatuning Valley lost... was destroyed, by Gilmour Academy in the sectionals at Fairport.

Don, I know exactly what the Heartbreak Highway feels like. I have experienced it more than once.

Sid McPaul


Sid, I remember that Badger team very well! In fact, I saw the game you referenced against PV and all of us who went to watch sat there and thought the same things — who the heck are these guys (the Braves) ? And, who the heck is that guy (Dale Blaney)?! — DM

On John Bowler


Great article, Don. Hope you keep writing them.

A lot of readers will be happy to see this as they have been asking about you and missing your articles.

Rusty Webker


Thanks, Rusty. “A lot of readers” may be wishing for a reversal soon! — DM


Nice column. Good to see you’re writing again — I’ve missed it down here in South Carolina!

Keep it up.

John C. Pearson

Harbor High School

Class of 1958

John, thank you, now send some South Carolina sunshine to these parts ASAP, please! — DM


Great to see your words again in print, er, I mean on the Star Beacon website.

Hope all is well in the homeland...

Tom Eden

Boulder, Colo.

Edgewood High School

Class of 1980

Thanks, Tom. — DM


I read the article, and it was a great story about an outstanding individual, written by an outstanding person.

It brought back memories for me that I enjoyed.

Thank you for a great story.

Lib Vitale

(via Facebook)

Lib, as a former high school official yourself, I’m not surprised you like those words. Thank you. — DM


This is the Don McCormack writing we all love and miss. Coach Bowler has done a great job with the Edgewood boys.

What’s more important to me is the class act those guys are in the classroom and throughout the entire school system.

It is infectious, and you can’t measure that!

Barb Heath

(via Facebook)

Barb, thanks so much. — DM

On Linette Derminer


I was there that day at practice it was scary. I’ve known Ken since we were kids and used to share a locker with him in 5th grade. God bless Mrs. Derminer for beginning this foundation to ensure safety for students during sports.

Miss you, Ken.

Love you.


Becca, my heart goes out to you, too. That had to be the most difficult of days for everyone present at the tragedy. — DM


You’ve definitely made my mornings a little bit better the past few days. Thanks.

Beyond my appreciation for you columns appearing again, I also appreciate the efforts to supply AED units for high school athletes. My son plays lacrosse, occasionally in goal. Since I have seen articles detailing this type of risk, having these units available really does help alleviate some of the worries associated with watching him play.

Ray Lillie

(via Facebook)

Ray, Linette deserves kind words from each and every one of us, no doubt. — DM


When the Jefferson Youth Football League received an AED from the Ken Heart Foundation last summer, I volunteered at one of their bingo events in Ashtabula.

What a great organization and a great group of people promoting a great cause!

Stephanie Kaiser Hamski

(via Facebook)

Stefanie, I couldn’t agree more. — DM


And things like THIS are the reason you should keep on writing.

David Negin

(via Facebook)

Thanks so much, David. — DM


All I can say is “wow.”

Definitely scares you because you never know. Thank you to her for doing what she has to help others.

Rusty Webker

(via Facebook)

Rusty, food for thought, indeed. — DM


Funny thing is... I mistakenly leaned against that box on that wall on the very same night. My thoughts went back to the boy, as well. He is the reason the box hangs in that gym and why all of our children are safer.

Her mission still touches us all.

Danielle Smock

(via Facebook)

Danielle, this just shows how successful Linette’s tireless efforts have been. — DM


It is good to know that the mother in this story did not crawl in a hole after her son perished. She has shown true grit and courage to leave a lasting legacy of her son’s tragic ending. Her son must be awfully proud of her right now.

Tom Eden

Boulder,  Colo.

Welcome back

Hey, Don,

It is great to have you back in the Beacon. We missed your sports take, but more, your human take on events.

Hope all is well.


Jim and Cindy Steward

Jim and Cindy, I appreciate the sentiments very much. — DM

Unwanted return


I had hoped you had retired or had been fired.

But I see your still there at the Beacon.

Waiting for your next reference about your mother.

Your a tool.

J.S. Campbell


Aw, what Mailbag would be complete without your words of wisdom, Mr. Campbell?

You’d be wise to leave my dear mother out of this.

And, as a tool, I apologize for throwing a monkey wrench at you, but it’s “you’re.” — DM


I had been asking around and heard you were no longer at the Beacon.

Unfortunately my sources were wrong.

Caleb Johnson


Caleb, are you and the esteemed Mr. Campbell related, by chance?

Sorry to disappoint, though — DM


Soon you and your paper will be out of business to so we won’t have to see your (flipping) picture again.

My cat’s favorite target in his litter box is you.

Dan  Friedman

(via Facebook)

Dan, now I know why the cats were always trying to cover me up when I was a little kid playing in the sandbox. — DM