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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016 3 years ago

SIDELINE SCENE: World Series fever sweeps through local schools -- Observer Preps

Local high school coaches and teachers are rooting on the Cubs and the Indians.
by: Steven Ryzewski Senior Sports Editor

It might not shock anyone to suggest that several local high-school coaches and teachers bleed blue. 

But, if you add to that the qualifier that it is “Cubbie blue” running through their veins, that might make the statement a little more surprising.

That’s right — in addition to their duties as coaches, administrators and teachers at our local schools, several people from within the local high-school community have anxiously been keeping up with the Chicago Cubs as they have made a run to the World Series.

At West Orange High alone, there’s Athletic Director Adam Miller, assistant football coach and teacher Joe Light, volleyball coach Ross Usie and lacrosse coach and teacher Bill Baker. 

Former principal Doug Szcinski is also a diehard fan.

At Ocoee High, there is Athletic Director Steve McHale and at CFCA there is David Theobald, a teacher.

Truthfully, we’re probably missing someone, but the fact remains that they all love their Cubbies.

West Orange assistant football coach and teacher Joe Light made it up to Chicago for Game Four of the 2016 World Series.

“We shoot emails back and forth all the time and then when we see each other in the courtyard we shout at each other,” Light said of the Cubs Coalition at West Orange. “(My dad) just taught me that good guys wear (blue) pinstripes.”

Light may have taken the most drastic action of any of the aforementioned fanatics, traveling to the Windy City over the weekend. Although he did not pay the outrageous prices being asked for an actual ticket to Game Four, which took place Saturday night, Light said he and friends enjoyed the atmosphere in Wrigleyville that day leading up to the game and watched at a nearby sports bar — with thousands of their (newfound) closest friends.

“It was insane,” Light said. “Everyone is just kind of embracing the atmosphere.”

The Cubs, as is widely known, have not won a World Series since 1908 — back when indoor plumbing was a luxury. Of course, they’re not the only long-suffering franchise in the equation, though. Cleveland has not won a world championship since 1948 — a fact that Bill Chambers, a longtime guidance counselor at West Orange and former athletic director at Ocoee High, knows all too well.

Chambers, who was born in the suburbs of Cleveland and has been rooting on the Tribe ever since, says he is not to be mistaken for a bandwagon fan.

“People think I’m a Johnny-come-lately, but I’ve got people that I coached with 35 years ago (who) are texting me, ‘Good luck to the Indians’ and stuff like that,” Chambers said. “I’m glad they’re back — I’m still disappointed from 1997 when they lost (the World Series) in seven games to the (Florida) Marlins.”

Chambers, who still helps coach the West Orange junior varsity baseball team, is friends with all the Cubs fans on the staff at the school — even if they are, temporarily, the enemy. And just to show that sportsmanship isn’t dead, Light said he picked up an official World Series T-shirt for Chambers while in Chicago.

Across the board, fans of these franchises are mostly just appreciative to see their teams playing on baseball’s biggest stage — and, given the television ratings for the World Series through six games, so is Major League Baseball.

But, for teams that haven’t exactly made a habit of making the World Series, there is also the sense of urgency and anxiety that come along with not knowing when the next opportunity might come.

Just take it from a lifelong Indians fan, such as Chambers: “You never know for sure whenever you’re going to get a second chance.”

Steven Ryzewski was the Senior Sports Editor for the West Orange Times & Observer and Southwest Orange Observer....

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