Category Archives: Personal

Empire State Senior Games

In early May I received a telephone call from Michael Houghton, a High School classmate.  Michael had entered a volleyball team into the Empire State Senior Games and then had a couple of his players back out on him.  Michael and I had talked and emailed about volleyball several times, but never played together.  Mike said he was desperate for players so I agreed to participate, although I was concerned I might be trying to play at a level over my head.

The Empire State Games are a set of annual Olympic-style competitions for amateur athletes from the state of New York, encompassing several divisions and allowing athletes of all ages to compete. The Senior Games consisted of a number of competitions specifically for athletes age 50 and older.  New York State is divided into six regions for the Empire State Games, and each region fields its own athletic teams through tryouts before the Games begin: Adirondack, Central, Hudson Valley,  Long Island, New York City and Western. The games at SUNY Cortland collected participants from the Western, Central and Adirondack regions.

NYS EmpireStateGames

The volleyball games were all day Saturday June 8, with 31 women and men teams entered.  Games were at the Lusk Field House at SUNY Cortland.  There were six nets with continuous play starting at 9am.  Games were broken up by breaks and working as linesmen and score keepers.  During breaks I walked laps on the tracks around the volleyball games to keep loosened up.

We had 6 teams in our 60-65 age group pool: two from Buffalo, a team from Binghamton, and one from Albany.  All the teams were established entities with a team from Buffalo having played together for 17 years.  We had not played together as a group and I hadn’t played a 6-2 set in over 13 years.  Our lack of familiarity and practice showed, but over the course of the day we improved and managed to finish in 4th place in our pool.  Our record tied us with another team but we lost a placing due to point differential.

Seeded 4th we played the #1 seed and lost two games.  Our 2nd game we were leading at the end but made too many mistakes at the end.  At the end of a long day we played the 3rd place team about 7:30pm.  They were tired and asked us if we wanted to play just 1 game for the bronze medal position.  We declined and decided to get our monies worth.  It was a wise decision as we dropped game 1.  We won game 2 and then played a close final match.  We were in the lead 8-6 at the mid-game court switch over.  We expanded our lead to be the 1st to 15 points and winning the bronze medal.

All our games were competitive.  Every team was comprised of good volleyball players and most all played an aggressive 6-2 offense. Our team was comprised of Craig, Phil, Michael and Phil in the front row with Jim, Larry and Chris in the back row.



Lacrosse vs. Whitesboro

After two successful games vs. New Hartford teams the HP lacrosse team took a 12-0 drubbing from Whitesboro.  Eric played attack and was more inclined to engage in the ‘dig the ball out’ scrums than previously.  He wore one white sock and one black sock to help his mom identify him on the field.



The Week of Keeping Score

the Volley Llamas had two Wednesday night volleyball games, one against Carolyn Niedzielski’s team which we won 2-1.  Liz subbed for Margaret and Jay played with us.  Our 2nd game was against the all-female SandStorm with Kathryn, Laura, Beth, Kayla, Amy and Amanda.  Again we won 2-1.

Our Thursday night Sand Fleas team played vs a new team (Team 5) and took all 3 games.  Then we played Nice Set of Tips and lost 1-2.  We had close games.

Eric started lacrosse this week and it is his new favorite sport.  Saturday’s opening game featured two games vs. New Hartford Red and then New Hartford White.  Eric played defense in the 1st game and was attack in the 2nd game.  He scored one goal in the 2nd game.  The HP team was happy as they achieved their 1st wins in three years of youth lacrosse.


It was 80 degrees on Saturday.  Afterwards, Eric and Trevor jumped in the pond to cool off.



Saturday evening I managed to finish mowing all my pasture.

Sunday Eric played AYSO soccer vs a good Utica team.  The weather cooperated and 10 the kids showed up.  I think we scored 4 goals (Sawyer, Nick, Andrew and Jonas) and we took an overwhelming number of shots on goal.  Eric must have taken 8 shots on goal.

  • We dominated the 1st quarter.  I don’t think they had a shot on goal.  Sawyer and Nick each scored and we missed on several other opportunities.
  • We controlled the 2nd quarter.  Andrew had 2-3 runs with the ball, one resulting in a score.  He does exactly what we ask of our players,  keep possession of the ball and advance it under control.
  • The 3rd quarter was OK.  Jonas scored.
  • My line-up for the beginning of the 4th quarter was a disaster.  Nick and Nicco were on defense, got beat and argued.  Jonas and Carter were the middies and Jonas forgot to come back and play defense.  It seemed I was yelling at him constantly to move and not watch the game around him.  Zach and Logan on offense lacked the skills and/or speed to keep possession of the ball enough to advance it down the field.  Zach got called for kicking a player a couple of times, had a melt-down and asked to come out of the game.

I had a discussion with the referee buddy about ‘free substituting’ during dead balls during the last quarter so I didn’t have kids who only played 2 quarters.  He didn’t understand how that could be possible so I showed him my roster rotation sheet.  I think that convinced him – he permitted me to substitute on a dead ball near the 5 minute mark.  I put Eric, Sawyer, Hunter in and we shored up the defense and rode out the rest of the game.  We got a couple more nice shots on goal, but didn’t capitalize on them.

We had a couple problems..  The biggest one is in front of the goal.  We didn’t follow our shots in and by this I mean the players around the shooter.  In my opinion everyone on offense stopped to see if the goal went in and we missed opportunities where the ball came off the goalie and was available for a tap in.  Hunter and Nick especially missed those opportunities.  We didn’t always rotate on defense.  Jonas especially tend to  stand in his ‘spot’ regardless of which side the ball is coming from.  Maybe some 3 v 2 defensive drills is in order.

Nick is fast, fearless with the ball but can’t dribble with his head up.  When he got the ball near the goal he inevitably got double and triple teamed but was too focused on the ball to see it coming or see an open team mate to pass to.  Once when I was yelling to get his head up, he did pick his head up and promptly tripped over the ball and fell down…

The coach of the Utica team complimented our boys.







After the game we went to Tony’s Pizza with Jennifer and then took Eric to his Sunday night Odyssey soccer practice.



A long sport’s filled week.


Memorial Day Weekend

Our weather turned wet, rainy and cool on Friday and stayed that way through Sunday evening.  Some of the outdoor chores we planned for early in the week got delayed until the end of the weekend.  So mowing the lawn, planting tomatoes and beans in the garden, mowing pastures and deploying the floating dock all got delayed to Sunday and Monday.

Eric had lots of play days.  On Friday DeVante rode the school bus with Eric and the boys played lots of MineCraft together as well as ping pong.


Saturday Eric had Jack over for the day.  Jack’s morning baseball game was cancelled due to the weather.  Sunday Jennifer took Eric out to play miniature golf at Gold Rush.

Eric Minature Golfing

Monday Eric got invited to Jack’s house and went swimming.

We picked four loads of rocks off the minnow pond dam and dumped them into the overflow, hoping to raise the level of the pond.  I then unhooked the slip scoop and pulled out the old stone boat I had built.  We loaded our floating dock onto the stone boat, dragged it down to the pond and deployed it.  The 55 gallon drums shifted to one side and clearly need a better method of securing them.


I started mowing the pasture and got the front portion of the pasture completed.

I planted egg plant, tomato plants, and pole beans  in the remaining garden space.  New this year are a full row of potatoes, broccoli and egg plant.  I think I have ~36 tomato plants in the garden.


We had a bobwhite, rare in our area, blown in by the high winds.  He/she hung around our deck for a couple of days.



Spike Out Cancer Tournament

Volleyball under grey skies

Morning Session

Kathryn and I played in the morning session of Amy’s Spike Out Cancer tournament with Scott and Bill on our team.  The weather was cool and damp. the Tournament raised over $1200 for the American Cancer Society and everyone seemed to have a good time.  We finished shortly before 2pm and went to Eric’s soccer game in Barneveld.  We got there just at half time.  Eric had scored two goals in the opening quarter.

Hero Rush

Kathryn recruited a team of 5 for the Hero Rush. Hero Rush is the tough, crazy, fear-facing fun 4-5 mile race with 17+ totally unique firefighter and “hero” themed obstacles.



Clint, Beth, Valerie, Kathryn and Chris.

Team Photo Race Completion

AYSO U10B Soccer Games 1-3 Summary

The U10 Boys opened up their season with a home game vs Oriskany-Westmoreland and played to a hard-fought 0-0 tie.  Each team walked away from the game regretting lost opportunities; both missed shots and shots not taken.  Week Two’s game was at Sauquoit and the team lost 0-2, again missing a couple of shots and passing up on opportunities.



Week 3 changed the team’s fortunes as they scored 6 goals in a 6-3 win over Whitestown.  Nick scored 3 goals, including one off a perfect crossing pass from Eric.  Carter and Eric each scored one and Whitestown accidentally kicked in one of their own.

Mighty Run

Kathryn and Eric competed in the Mighty Run.  Eric did a 1/2 mile kid’s run with 14 obstacles: mud pits, balance beams, spider’s web, tubes, log over/unders, and a Drill Sargent.

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Eric and I left shortly after the kids run, picked up Devante and went home.   Kathryn, Pam and Sue did a later run and came in in the low 600’s of a group of 680 total.    The course map and obstacles are shown below.

Mighty Run Course Map

The Tired Wall    Finish Line Mud Pit

  Walking the tires

Kathryn through mud pit Carrying log

Kathryn&Pam Running  Kathryn on Waterslide


The Mighty Run – Utica OD Article on Kathryn

From The Mighty Run features strategy, obstacles — and mud By BEN BIRNELL Observer-Dispatch Posted Apr 29, 2013 @ 06:00 PM

Kathryn Muller doesn’t mind getting dirty. That’s good, considering the Holland Patent resident is participating in The Mighty Run, the inaugural 5K adventure race Saturday that focuses on strategy and features 12 obstacles. The run is on the Masonic Care Community’s sprawling 400-acre campus in Utica. Event organizer JP Kidwell said all proceeds will go to the Masonic Care Community.

Kidwell said people from seven states have signed up, and he anticipates about 2,000 will participate. “For a first-time event, the size of our field far surpassed our expectations,” Kidwell said.

According to the event’s website, participants can expect mud crawling, monkey bars, river running and cargo nets among the course’s obstacles, and it is geared toward individuals and teams at all levels of fitness which will also get a complementary cbd oil roll on by fresh bros to use in during training. The event also will feature a half-mile run for children, ages 5 to 12. The events aren’t timed. Kidwell said the race was planned with the whole family in mind.

It will be Muller’s fourth foray into events such as The Mighty Run. “I’ve always been someone who enjoys climbing and crawling and trying to figure stuff out,” said Muller, 59, who will run on a team named “The Grand Mudders,” with close friend Pam Heller. “It’s just something fun to do and get exercise.”

The Mighty Run will be the second such event for Heller. She said she likes the camaraderie of the event. “Climbing over things is not something you usually do,” said Heller, 62, a Vernon Center resident. “We laugh and have fun together.”

In their first race in September, Muller and Heller participated in the Dirty Girl Mud Run in Buffalo. Muller said she was instantly hooked. “That was so much fun,” said Muller, a licensed clinical social worker. “I came out of that race thinking, ‘I’ve got to do more of these.’”

Muller participated in Syracuse’s Run of the Dead in October and the Daniel Barden Highland Mudfest in April in Deansboro. “For me, it’s not about winning or finishing in a certain time,” said Muller, who hasn’t participated in competitive racing. “Winning, for me, is having fun and completing the obstacles.”

Muller’s 10-year-old son, Eric, also is getting involved. After seeing his mom run in Buffalo, Eric took part in Deansboro and will participate in the kids’ run this weekend. “He’s a pretty active kid,” she said. “Plus, mud attracts 10-year-olds.”