November 10, 2013

MATT DIFILIPPO — Stoneton teaches hard lesson

There are many reasons to look down on sportswriters.

We chose a profession where our job is to watch games in Maine, and we complain that it’s too cold outside this time of year. Most of us brag too loudly when we win an award given by other writers, and whine too loudly when we don’t get enough credit. Most of us look like the only exercise we get is walking to the door to meet the person who is delivering our pizza. All of us think we know about 10 times as much as we actually do.

There are idiots in our business — the ones who complain about getting paid to sit in the sun and watch baseball, the ones who yell “Dunk it!” when a girls basketball player is going for a layup — but thankfully, a lot of people don’t look down on us.

And thankfully for us, there are people like Joel Stoneton.

Stoneton is the coach of the Winthrop-Monmouth co-operative football team. On Friday night, he called for a fake punt on fourth down from his own 21-yard line with his team leading late in the fourth quarter. The play backfired, and Dirigo drove the short field for the winning touchdown.

I guarantee you that as soon as the play ended, Stoneton wanted that call back. But he can’t hit the backspace key and write a new line like I can. He had to deal with the call not working, and he had to deal with people blaming him for that.

But Stoneton had enough guts to make the call, and he was enough of an adult to talk about it afterward. Reporters asked him about the call, and he blamed himself, and blamed the loss on himself.

By doing that, Stoneton taught his players and everyone reading the articles a valuable lesson about accountability. Far, far too many people want to blame their unhappiness on someone else, so much so that it keeps them from being genuinely happy for others. Stoneton took full ownership for his decision, even though it was surely excruciating for him to relive those moments to reporters. If my 3-year-old son ever plays football, I hope it’s for a coach who understands things like that.

Other thoughts running through my head:

• I love being able to watch multiple state championship games at the same site. It was a lot of fun for field hockey, and I enjoyed the soccer games I saw on Saturday. My only suggestion would be to have two days of soccer, with four games Saturday and four games Sunday. Otherwise, the Maine Principals’ Association is doing a good job with the setup.

• Basketball season starts Friday for the Thomas College men and Saturday for the Thomas women. So come on, Terrier-land, get those updated rosters on your website!

• Belgrade native Kristy Bernatchez played field hockey for North Carolina this weekend in the ACC tournament. She started the semifinal game on Saturday and played significant minutes in Sunday’s final. She’s a freshman. And for all you people who think wanting to play Division I means you have to forsake all other sports in high school, Bernatchez played lacrosse at Messalonskee this spring.

• Is there a better matchup than Waterville vs. Winslow for the Eastern C football title on Saturday? How many great rivalry games did we miss over the years when these schools didn’t play each other?

• The first day for high school basketball practices is one week from today. That’s five days before the state championship football games. In case you’re wondering, softball pitchers and catchers can report on March 24 — 23 days after the last state finals in basketball.

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243mdifilippo@centralmaine.comTwitter: @Matt_DiFilippo

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