Estes is just another case of forgotten Anaconda athletes

If you looked outside Monday morning after Sunday’s winter-style snow storm dumped a few inches of snow on us, the next sentence may make even more sense  …

Anaconda may as well be Siberia for its athletes.

Anaconda is often forgotten about by people not living here; unless you are taking advantage of the Old Works, throwing back an after-shifter at Club Moderne or any number of popular watering holes around town or coming to town for one of the big athletic events such as Goosetown or the Wayne Estes basketball tournament, that is.

The people who should be paying attention to the Smelter City and aren’t are the media outlets, primarily The Montana Standard. And I’m fed up.

If the faith I had in that paper wasn’t totally destroyed when they let go of former sports editor Bruce Sayler a year ago, it is now.

IMG_6102For example last week, AHS senior Mia Estes not only broke her school-record javelin throw of 137-0 by a remarkable distance of 6-feet, 10-inches for 143-10 (a story I did in a matter of minutes here), she also climbed into the top four nationally for her feat in the event. NATIONALLY! And not one word was uttered about her achievement.

I was humbled by Estes to know I was one of the first people she called after her accomplishment, because she knew how much I relish this sort of achievement on any playing field for Copperhead athletes. And why did she know this? Because I’ve showed my care year-in and year-out.

For example, what I’ve always done is make such an accomplishment a big deal in print. From my days at The Anaconda Leader and now at KANA 580 AM, I won’t let them fall through the cracks of anonymity. As media members, it’s important we applaud all local athletes. But in certain circumstances, such as a school record, unique accomplishment, feature story for a standout athlete or even signing a letter of intent to continue playing at the collegiate level, I’ve always made it a special occasion. Usually a lunch followed by some casual questions was my way of showing them how much I – and the city of Anaconda for that matter – care about them as Copperheads.

But from that Thursday afternoon until now, not one word had been written in our areas most prevalent daily newspaper based in Butte about Estes’ accomplishments (here’s that BS story with quotes from Dillon’s head track and field coach Tammy Meyers, who by the way isn’t responsible for speaking about other athletes, especially since she was worried about running the meet). However, Slim Kimmel of the Billings Gazette sure seemed to think it was newsworthy (post here). And even when The Standard and Gazette are managed by the same company, Lee Enterprises, Butte still can’t pick up and run with the small story published in Friday’s online edition (when, actually, that’s what they do with every other publication in order to fill the empty space continuously popping up in that paper). Then on Saturday, when Estes trumped her Thursday throw with an unbelievable toss of 146-3 at the Belgrade Invitational, the Standard ran a BS recap that didn’t even mention Estes as a winner from their local readership (that story here). That she beat one of her closest competitors in Class A from Sidney by some 18 feet should have been one indication, however the writer chose to disregard her achievement as non-newsworthy even as a basic recap?

In the days of social media, it’s so simple to get in touch with a prep athlete. A private message on Facebook or Twitter usually gets returned in a matter of minutes – so even when deadlines are looming, it’s relatively simple to get in touch with a certain individual with little to no effort. Plus, in the case of Estes who is still looking for attention in terms of recruiting for a possible collegiate career, it’s rare these athletes won’t give you a minute of their time even if it’s by text message. In fact, they are seeking it out in order to help get the word out.

This all goes back to football season as well. A couple deserving Copperheads were lost to most of the area readership, and the state for that matter, because their accomplishments weren’t important enough to follow (I made mention of that on my blog here). I will say I can sort of understand that instance because of the great success of Butte High, but still, if you’re looking at filling a local paper, I think you can cut the regional sports stories in lieu of covering more of the prep beat.

When guys like Bill Foley, Pat Ryan and even Carl Hennell – all under the leadership of Sayler, by the way – were at the Standard, the local prep athletes were the focus. You never saw one be sacrificed to the news of some obscure first-round 68 shot by Buster Cherry at the Turn ‘Em and Burn ‘Em Crematories Invitational in Hell, Alabama. However, it’s all you read now. Well that and whatever the Missoulian, Gazette or Helena IR send over. If I’m a guy like Bill Speltz or Fritz Neighbor of the Missoulian or Greg Rachac, Mike Scherting and Kimmel of the Gazette, I’m calling for a raise, especially since not only are they writing for their own newspapers, evidently they are producing great content, albeit regurgitated and often published several days after the original release, for The Standard as well.

Now, there’s no reason to even pick up that paper if you are looking for prep stories about Butte area teams and individuals. Why? Because you can get more content and more in depth looks at all of your Butte sports at buttesports.com - and you can get unlimited page views unlike at The Standard Web site. Foley is making sure his kids are being taken care of.

It’s why I’m doing my best to get the word out about the Mia Esteses of the world here on my blog, then posting it on Twitter and throughout Facebook on my page along with others dedicated to Anacondans.

I may not reach as many people as the Montana Standard (yet), but give me time. You may not like my stance on certain issues, but there’s no way you can question my love of Copperhead athletics. And if it’s the likes of Alan Dale that I’m competing with, there’s no way I can fail.

With all do respect to Dale, he hasn’t been on the beat long. And who knows what the higher-ups are telling him. Even though I doubt management is telling him, “don’t go out and find interesting human-interest pieces, especially if they are from Anaconda,” but you never know. We Anacondans aren’t near the athletes that are running rampant in the Midwest like Mr. Dale is used to coaching or covering, thus probably pretty uninteresting – insert sarcastic duh-duh-chhhh drum roll right about …. NOW.

As for Estes, she’s doing just fine. Her recruiting is being ramped up and I’m pleased to say that, after sharing my blog post with the likes of Kimmel, Fritz Neighbor at the Missoulian and both Montana and Montana State, she’s getting the recognition a quality young woman and overachieving student-athlete should.

And it’s even more gratifying seeing her exposure rise without the help of an organization that dared to “fire” a man like Sayler - a guy who never in a million years would have let such a great story fall through the cracks.

Employment specialist adds another dynamic to Anaconda Stand Down

Mike Hall for story

Mike Hall, an employment specialist for the Department of Labor’s Disabled Veterans Outreach Program, will be available at next weekend’s Stand Down in Anaconda

Beginning next weekend, American Legion Post 21 and its Auxiliary will be hosting their third annual Vets on Vets Stand Down at the National Guard Armory east of Anaconda.

The Stand Down focuses on the needs of veterans, young and old, and provides a vast array of services from providing mental and physical health options, clothing and outreach to veteran’s service officials. And all are completely free of charge.

However, the misconception of the event is that it’s tailored to the more seasoned veteran rather than a recently discharged member of the Armed Services.

Mike Hall, an employment specialist for the Department of Labor’s Disabled Veterans Outreach Program (DVOP), is a prime example of why Anaconda’s Stand Down is for everyone with a military background.

“I work with veterans who have come back from a conflict, and help them with skills assessments, schooling or occupational training they may need to return to being regular citizens,” Hall said. “I help them with Chapter 31 (Vocational Rehabilitation program) — it’s an effective way to bring them back full circle from deployment and back to some sort of normalcy.”

Hall, along with Dave Williamson of the Montana State Veterans Affairs office based in Butte, will be on hand to help any and all veteran who is unclear what, if any, services are in place to help ease their transition from active duty.

Although Williamson’s main focus is in veterans outreach for the VA — for example providing medical counseling and processing possible disability claims among other mental and physical health services — he works hand in hand with Hall to provide the veteran the best possible treatment and care following their discharge.

To go one step further, Hall, a former Air Force veteran in his own right, also builds relationships with local businesses in order to encourage the hiring of veterans.

“We just want to make sure they aren’t forgotten comrades,” Hall said. “These Stand Down’s give them basic mental and physical health screenings, even assist with surplus food and clothing in some instances.”

Anaconda’s Stand Down will take place Saturday and Sunday, April 27-28. Doors will open at 9 a.m. both days and is open to all veterans with a VA or military ID card, proof of discharge orders or a copy of his/her DD-214.

“We are all doing this for the greater good of our vets,” Hall added.

Javelin toss by Anaconda’s Mia Estes heard ’round Montana

Attention college coaches with a track and field program: Let the bidding begin.

Because you haven’t inked Mia Estes to a compensatory javelin scholarship by now, the business of lowballing this particular athlete will be as valid as Utah Jazz playoff tickets.

Why? Because as of Thursday, Estes shattered her own school record and completed one of the best javelin throws in … the United States.

Yes, the United States.

IMG_6102Estes’ throw of 143-10 is by far the best in Montana this year, and according to the senior prep from Anaconda High, it’s also fourth-best out of all high school competitors in the nation.

The feelings from her throw were unique, to say the least — ones she won’t forget any time soon.

“I felt like I couldn’t breathe, and I couldn’t hold still,” Estes remembered after the throw was measured and called official.

Leading up to the record-breaking toss, all she wanted to do was go at the final approach aggressive.

“When I got in the runway, I took a step back because I wanted to attack my approach hard,” she remembered. “My dad (and coach Ron Estes) was standing at the 140-(foot) line and I just concentrated on throwing it over his head.”

It wasn’t long after the spear left her hand that she knew it was the best she’s ever thrown.

“When I let it go, I heard people whistle. I knew I had thrown it over the mark,” she said.

Her jubilation couldn’t be contained. Never the emotional type, this moment was too much to keep bottled up.

“I ran to my dad and just started to cry,” Estes said. “I have wanted this for so long.”

After speaking with Slim Kimmel of the Billings Gazette, he reassured me her mark was as advertised. He also pointed out Estes is just six feet from the Montana state girls’ record.

With that knowledge, it’s painfully obvious Estes will go to work right away in order to try to achieve the next goal on her plate.

“It seems unreal that it’s within reach and it makes me want to work harder to achieve that,” she said.

Until that time, Estes’ college recruiting is sure to heat up. Going in to the season, she was getting some interest from state schools Montana State and Montana along with some private schools on the East Coast. Expect her suitors to grow exponentially now.

“I thought I had an idea where I wanted to go but as of right now, I have no clue,” she said.

Good. It’s not typically the case that a small-school athlete can choose his/her path after high school. After today’s toss, her potential and upside is through the roof — and exactly what college coaches look for in a prospective athlete.

For example, take this week’s UNLV Invitational in Vegas. Two of the University of Montana women’s competitors second- and third-place qualifying throws failed to reach Estes’ Anaconda High School record of 137-0 let alone her throw Thursday in Dillon. Now there’s more to throwing the javelin than just stepping to the line and letting it go, there’s elevation, wind, temperature, etc. to consider. However, knowing Estes has this type of potential is very impressive — especially since she’s basically a “free agent.”

And it couldn’t have happened to a more respectful young lady.

Way to go Mia! Now that’s Copperhead Pride!

Local organizations, businesses make upcoming Stand Down a success

Dave Baker barbershop

Dave Baker, left, of Golden Age Barbershop in Anaconda

 

Without the help of local organizations, businesses and volunteers, the Anaconda Vets on Vets Stand Down wouldn’t be a success.

But because Southwestern Montana contains a significant amount of families with military members including a large number of veterans, those who are giving their time to the third annual event understand the services provided at the Stand Down are top notch.

The Stand Down, set for Saturday and Sunday, April 27-28 at the National Guard Armory east of Anaconda organized by Anaconda’s American Legion Post 21 and Auxiliary, focuses on the needs of veterans, young and old, and provides a vast array of services from providing mental and physical health options, clothing and outreach to veterans service officials. And all are completely free of charge.

IMG_5994

Ott Lemm, center, a member of the American Legion and Anaconda Search and Rescue, is a prime example of the collection of groups helping with this year’s Stand Down

The events provide a centralized location in order for veterans to receive a broad range of necessities including food, clothing, medical, legal and mental health assistance, job counseling and referral, and most importantly, companionship and camaraderie.

One of the local businessmen eager to lend a helping hand was Dave Baker of Golden Age Barbershop in Anaconda. Although Baker won’t personally be at the event, he provided a healthy amount of free vouchers for haircuts for those who walk through the doors.

“I like to think I’m helping out the veterans,” Baker said, who has been in business in Anaconda for over a year.

And while Baker won’t be there in person, other providers of dental, vision and blood pressure testing, for example, will be.

Admission to the event is simple: the veteran must provide a VA or military ID card, proof of discharge orders or a copy of his/her DD-214.

Doors will open at 9 a.m. both days.

For more information on how to become a part of the Stand Down, call Nardacci at 560-2242 or Campbell at 691-6210.

 

King Part II: Karli follows big sis to Orediggers’ back row

Karli King 1

Karli King with a dig against Butte Central

The beauty about volleyball: size doesn’t matter. And although the 5-foot-5 defensive and service specialist with quick reflexes and a superior work ethic won’t be seeing any net play any time soon, there’s no doubt she can eventually work her way into the Orediggers’ lineup. Especially when she can learn from one of the best defensive players in NAIA in sophomore Kimmy Kavran.

That’s why when soon to be second-year head coach Brian Solomon signed yet another local standout in King, I smiled. Sure, King, one of three Copperhead co-captains alongside Brooke Chapman and Mia Estes, was an oft forgotten member of the Copperhead team which tied for first in the Southwestern A. From knowing Karli since her seventh grade years when I coached her in basketball, one thing you can count on from her is 110 percent all of the time. Any personal accolades are just icing on the cake.

Most liberos are used to having to do all the dirty work with little fanfare. However, without a good defensive specialist, most teams get stuck in awkward and unbalanced rotations. There’s no secret why Anaconda was such a dangerous team during the conference season, and defense was the reason.

Solomon keeps loading up on locals, doing what most coaches in the Frontier and Big Sky conferences have forgotten in recent times. However, there’s no secret to the successes these teams are having when the local players start bringing in the fan support with family and friends. It’s smart business, and Solomon is playing a winning hand, in my opinion.

Karli King mugKarli was an honorable mention libero for the Copperheads last season, helping the team to a share of the 2012 Southwestern A Conference regular-season title. Anaconda finished 7-3 in the Southwestern A and tied with Corvallis for the top spot.

She was amongst the team leaders in digs (182, 3.8 per/game) and aces (17, .35 apg), sitting second on the Copperheads in both categories.

King won’t be alone on the Montana Tech campus, either. Former Copperhead All-Stater Korey Krumm, a FIrst-Team All-Frontier middle blocker in her own right, will surely ease the transition from prep to collegiate volleyball. Having big brother Matt roaming the campus as a senior won’t hurt either.

Good luck Karls! We’re all pulling for you here. You are the true meaning of Copperhead Pride.

King is the daughter of Mike and Roxi King of Anaconda and the sister of former Oredigger volleyball player Kirstin King.

Third Annual Vets Stand Down set for Anaconda’s NG Armory

Stand Down Nardacci

Anaconda American Legion Post 21 member Nick Nardacci is one of the important cogs in bringing the third annual Vets on Vets Stand Down to the Smelter City.

In roughly two weeks, a contingent of Anaconda area retired and honorably discharged servicemen and women will do their part in extending a helping hand to veterans in Southwest Montana.

The third annual Vets On Vets Stand Down will take place Saturday and Sunday, April 27-28 at the National Guard Armory east of Anaconda.

The event, organized by Anaconda’s American Legion Post 21 and Auxiliary, focuses on the needs of veterans, young and old, and provides a vast array of services from providing mental and physical health options, clothing and outreach to veterans service officials. And all are completely free of charge.

The concept of Stand Down, as related specifically to the homeless veteran crisis in the early 1980s, was the brainchild of two Vietnam veterans, Robert Van Keuren and Dr. Jon Nachison, with the support of Vietnam Veterans of San Diego. The first Stand Down was held in San Diego during the summer of 1988 and has continued to grow in popularity. In 2009, more than 190 events were held throughout the US.

The events provide a centralized location in order for veterans to receive a broad range of necessities including food, clothing, medical, legal and mental health assistance, job counseling and referral, and most importantly, companionship and camaraderie.

In addition to these services, Anaconda’s Stand Down will a step further by offering dental and vision providers, blood pressure testing and even vouchers for free haircuts provided by local barber Dave Baker of Golden Age Barbershop.

Nick Nardacci, co-organizer of the event with Dennis Campbell and Grant Ellison, says the services provided at the event have proved to be quite a success in the past.

“We have so much available for the vets,” he said. “We are happy to offer these services to all the veterans.”

Admission to the event is simple: the veteran must provide a VA or military ID card, proof of discharge orders or a copy of his/her DD-214.

Doors will open at 9 a.m. both days.

For more information on how to become a part of the Stand Down, call Nardacci at 560-2242 or Campbell at 691-6210.