Springtime means baseball for 600 in Millstone league

By MARK ROSMAN

MILLSTONE — The sound of "Play ball!" will ring out on Saturday as 600 boys and girls begin a new baseball and softball season in the Millstone-Roosevelt Little League.

While the first games will be played this weekend, official opening day ceremonies will be held on April 15 and feature team parades and a team banner contest.

Day and night games are played on five fields at the Millstone-Roosevelt Little League complex, Perrineville Road.

In the waning days of March, as he looked forward to a new season, Tim O’Reilly, the league’s vice president, said teams were completing their preseason workouts. Enrollment is up a bit from 1999, when 550 youngsters participated in league play.

Among the changes put in place this year by the Little League are:

• Criminal background checks to be conducted on all managers and coaches.

• Code of conduct given to all managers and coaches.

"We want the coaches to be more aware of activities on the field and of how they conduct themselves with the umpires and players," O’Reilly said of the code of conduct. "We’re really stressing good sportsmanship."

• Increased minimum playing time in training and development divisions (Minor League and below) to three innings (up from two innings). Teams bat through their roster in these divisions.

"This change will provide the impetus for coaches to carry out our mission to teach the game to players ages 7-10 in the instructional leagues," O’Reilly said.

• Junior baseball expanded to include 14-year-olds.

The Millstone-Roosevelt Little League will host a golf outing fund-raiser on May 12 at the Gambler Ridge Golf Course, Upper Freehold, and a tournament for teams of 10-year-olds following all-star competition in July. Squads from Hamilton, Nottingham, West Windsor and Allentown are expected to join Millstone-Roosevelt teams for the event, O’Reilly said.

Members of the board of directors of the league are: Pete Hum, president; Tim O’Reilly, vice president/umpire chief; Joe Celli, secretary/safety officer; Mike Hennessy, player agent; Vincent Pugliese, treasurer; Bob Guiliano, field maintenance; Mike Adler, purchase agent; Stan Sandford, auxiliary/Senior-Junior commissioner; Drew McKenna, fund-raising; Tom Cassera, concession stand manager; Mike Alfieri, commissioner, Majors; Kathy Ras, commissioner, Minors; Bob Rothschild, commissioner, Colonial; Rose McNiven, commissioner, Softball; Frank Kuziemski, commissioner, Tee Ball.

Youngsters set for diamond play in Allentown-Upper Freehold

By mark rosman

ALLENTOWN — Opening-day ceremonies scheduled for Saturday will see 310 boys and girls from Allentown and Upper Freehold Township ring in the 2000 youth baseball and softball seasons.

The Allentown-Upper Freehold Little League will host a parade and team introductions in ceremonies beginning at noon on the baseball fields at Allentown High School. Several games will then be played, according to Bill Morris, vice president of the league.

The league is growing in enrollment by about 10 percent each year as new homes are being built in Upper Freehold, he said. The league’s tee-ball league has expanded from four to six teams this spring and may be adding a seventh team in the near future.

The league is open to boys and girls from Allentown and Upper Freehold age 5 and up. All of the 5-year-olds play in the tee-ball league, which Morris said is a good time for the children, and the adults who help the youngsters get their first taste of the sport.

Boys and girls also play in the Junior League for 6- and 7-year-olds. This league features coaches doing the pitching and a lot of instruction, Morris added.

As the youngsters move up, 8- and 9-year-old boys join the Minor League for baseball and 8-and 9-year-old girls join the Junior League for softball.

On the Major League level, 10- through 12-year-olds play baseball and softball in separate leagues on full-size Little League fields.

Morris said as league officials cast an eye toward the future, they are attempting to rekindle interest in Senior League baseball and softball for 13- through 15-year-olds.

Ed Kubik is president of the Allentown-Upper Freehold Little League. Other board members are Bill Morris, vice president; Doug Walsh, vice president, girls softball; Kit Ruggieri, secretary; Fred Payson, player agent; Chuck Wiedman, treasurer; and Al Mottola, safety director.

Tennis team’s goal for 2000 season: One more win than last time around

ALLENTOWN — Allentown High School boys tennis coach Robert Chianese said his squad’s goal prior to the start of the 2000 season was to try and notch five wins, which would top the 4-12 record the Redbirds finished with in 1999.

"We are hoping we can win one more match than last year," Chianese said Tuesday, indicating that he has only one retuning singles player from 1999 (senior Norm Castro). "We find that the kids who come out and play tennis for us basically just started learning the game within the past few years.

"Individually, I look at the kids’ growth. I’m hoping to get them to improve their skills and be more competitive" as the season progresses, he said.

Now in his 11th year as head coach at Allentown, Chianese said he has enjoyed working with the athletes over the years in teaching them the game and watching them improve throughout the season. As for 2000, it’s no different.

"This year’s team consists of a great group of kids who are eager to learn a lot about the game," the coach said of his 10-man roster. "Unfor-tunately that doesn’t always translate into more wins, but they have good spirits and a very positive attitude and they all work very hard."

Leading the way for the Redbirds at first singles is Castro, who Chianese said was playing well in 1999 until a knee injury halfway through the year shut him down for the remainder of the campaign.

"Norm has worked on his game and has improved his speed and I would definitely say he’s a little better than last year. He gets around the court real well."

As for the next two singles slots, Chianese said three students are competing for those two positions: senior Ryan Mich, junior Erik Hierhager and sophomore Jordan Engelhardt.

"Erik shows a lot of promise," Chianese said of his junior. "With more motivation and desire, he should be No. 2. As for Jordan, we call him ‘The Backboard’ because he always gets the ball back even if he doesn’t have the greatest form. He has great desire and refuses to lose. He causes a lot of players to miss points."

Whichever one of the three players mentioned above doesn’t play singles will play doubles and will be paired with either senior Seth Gartland, juniors Jim Farrell or Cory Mintz or sophomore Robert Mirabella as one of the two doubles teams. Any combination of Gartland, Farrell, Mintz and Mirabella will make up the other doubles team, the coach said.

"Right now we are mixing and matching to find the right combination of who plays best with each other," Chianese said of his rotation.

Chianese said seniors Jason Schad-wald and sophomore Brian Mc-Gaheran will also contribute to the team this year.

Allentown opened the season on Monday against Monsignor Donovan in Toms River and was shut out, 5-0. Chianese went with the following rotation in the Redbirds’ opening match against the Griffins: Castro, first singles; Mich, second singles; Engelhardt, third singles; Hierhager and Farrell, doubles; Gartland and Mintz, doubles. Gartland and Mintz had the most competitive match, losing 7-5, 7-6 (15-13 in the tiebreaker).

"It was pretty fun to watch," Chianese said of Gartland’s and Mintz’s match. "They staved off seven match points to stay alive."

Allentown will play its home matches at the Miry Run Country Club in nearby Robbinsville. The Redbirds are scheduled to host Hamilton West on Friday.

— Dan Miller

Wall racing season opens

Freehold’s Chaz Okerson and Colts Neck’s Chris Kilbride jump started their bid for 2000 track championships at Wall Stadium on Saturday night by driving to opening night wins at the Wall Township one-third mile oval.

Okerson dominated the Pro Stock Division’s 25-lap feature. He steadily drove away from runner-up Kenny Reaves of Piscataway, who was nowhere in sight when Okerson took the checkered flag.

Charlie Kremer III of Toms River, Jim Vogt of Farmingdale and George Andretta of Neptune finished third through fifth.

To win the first 15-lap Truck Series main event, Kilbride had to hold off defending champion Tim Buckley.

Toms River’s Tim Arre signaled that he’ll be a force in the Modified Division following his win Saturday in the 30-lap headliner. Arre motored by early leader J.R. Helberg of Union on the fifth lap by taking the low groove on the banked oval. Once in the lead, he was never challenged.

Howell’s John Blewett III gave chase to Arre late in the race and finished second.

Opening night 2000 will long be remembered by Dan Kirchner of Millburn. He not only opened the season with a win in the 20-lap Street Stock Division, but for him it was his first win at Wall Stadium.

Howell’s Russ Cook and Farming-dale’s Craig Wallis, the defending champion, made Kirchner earn the win as they pressured him through the second half of the race. Kirchner held up under the pressure to get his well-earned first win.

Sunday’s Redbird Ramble 5K

    Brian Harshman of Hamilton Square is joined by his son, Sean, 7, after winning Sunday’s Redbird Ramble 5K run in Allentown. SEAN GUTHRIDGE Brian Harshman of Hamilton Square is joined by his son, Sean, 7, after winning Sunday’s Redbird Ramble 5K run in Allentown. SEAN GUTHRIDGE

Redbirds set to open season

    JERRY WOLKOWITZ Allentown High School senior Dana Thompson warms up prior to the March 22 Shore Basketball Coaches 2000 All-Star Classic at Freehold Township High School. Thompson scored 10 points for the South, but the North all-stars prevailed, 77-75. JERRY WOLKOWITZ Allentown High School senior Dana Thompson warms up prior to the March 22 Shore Basketball Coaches 2000 All-Star Classic at Freehold Township High School. Thompson scored 10 points for the South, but the North all-stars prevailed, 77-75.

By dan miller

ALLENTOWN — In Richard Dawson’s first year as head coach of the Allen-town High School baseball team in 1998, the Redbirds finished at 9-12. Last year Allentown finished at 10-10 and qualified for the state tournament for the first time in nine years.

So as Dawson prepares his team for the 2000 season which is set to begin Saturday vs. Monsignor Donovan High School of Toms River, continued progress is all he’s hoping for out of his youthful squad.

"We have a very young team this year," Dawson said, noting that he has only five seniors (compared to 10 in 1999) and may have three sophomores in the starting lineup on opening day. "We would like to set up a good foundation and establish ourselves over the next few years. We (the coaching staff) are just hoping the kids will continue to improve and progress as the season goes on. There is a lot of heart and desire on this team and I have seen it in the scrimmages we have played so far."

While making the state tournament and improving on last year’s record would be nice, Dawson said he’s not putting any lofty expectations upon his youthful squad’s shoulders.

"We are just trying to stress the fundamentals of the game in practice," the coach said. "Of course, it would be good to be .500 and be competitive, but we just want them to enjoy themselves and grow as a team. That’s the most important thing."

Allentown has gone 2-3 in scrimmages, beating Trenton and Neptune while losing to Peddie, Hamilton West and Jackson. Dawson said the teams Allentown lost to were competitive schools, so he’s been satisfied with his team’s progress to date.

Many players are still locked in battles for starting spots as the opener nears, but Dawson said he is pleased with the fact that he seems to have more flexibility at certain positions this year.

Leading the way as the aces of his pitching staff, Dawson said he is hoping that junior Don Provost and senior Mike Macallister will form a solid 1-2 punch for the Redbirds.

"They have both worked hard and come a long way in the off-season," Dawson said of his two righthanded pitchers. "I am really pleased with what I am seeing out of them."

If Louis Cote can shake off elbow problems that have plagued him in the off-season, Dawson is hoping the sophomore will receive some considerable time in the rotation. Junior southpaws Kyle Patton and Sean Watkins and sophomore lefty James Petersen are also expected to see time on the mound for Allentown, Dawson said.

Senior third basemen Sean Stone will also serve as the team’s closer.

"Sean was one of our better players last year," Dawson said. "He had shoulder surgery in the off-season and had a long rehabilitation but he is coming along fine. We are bringing him along slowly. He’s playing regularly at third base, but we’re trying to get him an inning here or there on the mound when we can."

Dawson said he’s hoping for big things from Stone offensively, indicating that if he’s fully recovered from his injury "he could be a big help to us." In 1999, Stone broke Allentown’s single season record for runs batted in with 37. He also had four home runs and batted .366.

Rounding out the rest of the starters for Allentown, the name of the game is competition. At catcher, Dawson said the starting spot is up for grabs between senior Brian Gentz and junior Billy Weidman. Sophomore Dave Petersen is expected to back up those two players.

Patton, a junior, and senior Frank Bucco will see time at first base. The coach said Bucco filled in admirably for Stone at third base last year after Stone got hurt, finishing the year with a .300 average and three homers.

Watkins will also see time at first base, although he will be used primarily as the Redbirds’ designated hitter.

There will be a new starter at second base for Allentown this year. Sophomore Mario Zapicchi has earned the opening day honors.

"Mario has worked real hard and is a good kid," the coach said. "He has progressed really well and loves the game."

While Stone is a lock for third base, Dawson said he’s still unsure of the starter at shortstop between Cote and junior Dan Alvarez.

In the outfield, Scot Walsh-Riddle will anchor centerfield and will likely be flanked by sophomore Dave Griffiths in left and sophomore James Petersen in right.

"One good thing about our team is that a lot of our guys play multiple positions," Dawson noted. "They are pretty interchangeable."

Dawson said he’s hoping for good production out of Stone, Bucco and Watkins and he’s counting on Walsh-Riddle to take charge in the dugout and be a good team leader. But, he pointed out, the success of Allentown this season may fall on the young arms of the pitching staff.

"The mainstay of our team will be how our pitching staff carries us," Dawson said. "If our top two (Provost and Macal-lister) do well, that could take some pressure off some of our younger players."

Dawson said he’s hoping his team will be able to manufacture a lot of runs this year on the base paths.

"We’re going to be very aggressive on the basepaths since we have a very fast team," Dawson said. "We’ll be doing a lot of stealing. We have a lot of station-to-station players here."

Finally, Dawson said, he’s hoping the community will show their support for the Redbirds throughout the season.

"These kids are very well-schooled and enthusiastic about the game," the coach explained. "There will be some growing pains, I’ll tell you that right now, but I think it will pay dividends in the end."

Noonan keys Irish to wins on gridiron, wrestling mat

Ray Noonan

By dan miller

MILLSTONE — When Ray Noonan recently learned he had been invited to represent his high school at an annual dinner sponsored by the Delaware Valley Chapter of the National Football Foun-dation and College Hall of Fame which will take place Sunday at the Hyatt Regency in Princeton, he was obviously very excited.

"This will be my first black tie affair," said Noonan, 18. "It should be a lot of fun. My parents will be there and my grandparents will be flying in from out of town to attend and all my coaches will be there as well. It should be very exciting."

The foundation, which invites students from high schools throughout Burlington, Hunterdon, Mercer and Bucks counties, will be awarding 28 scholarships totaling $35,000. The highest scholarship to be presented will be $5,000.

Students were invited based on a combination of their achievements in football and academics. Noonan, a senior at Notre Dame High School, Lawrenceville, holds a 3.75 grade point average.

Allentown High School senior Scot Walsh-Riddle was also invited to attend the dinner to represent his school.

Noonan is a very busy young man. In addition to maintaining excellent grades, the Millstone Township resident has devoted much of his time to playing sports and was a key member of Notre Dame’s football and wrestling squads this year.

As a co-captain of the football team, Noonan adjusted well to his new position of center in helping to lead Notre Dame to an 8-2 record, a dramatic turnaround over 1998 when the team finished at 2-8. Notre Dame qualified for the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association playoffs, but bowed to Holy Cross of Delran in the first round.

Still, the year was still a great success for the squad and Noonan was voted to the first-team All-Colonial Valley Conference squad.

Noonan said his coach switched him from offensive tackle to center last fall to help better prepare him for college football.

"The coach felt that with my size (6-1, 265 pounds), it would help get me noticed more to switch over to center," he said. "It gave me a chance to touch the ball more. I didn’t play defense at all this year and it all worked. We were very well-conditioned."

After the football season concluded, Noonan turned his efforts to his other favorite sport, wrestling.

As a heavyweight he finished the season with a 21-7 record, a second-place finish in the Christian Brothers Academy Tournament and a third-place finish in the Mercer County Tournament.

In the District 17 tournament at Hunterdon Central High School, Flemington, Noonan finished second, losing to the same opponent in the championship match (Dan Ederstein of Hunterdon Central) that he lost to earlier in the season at the Hunterdon Central tournament. His season ended in the first round of the region tournament.

Notre Dame concluded its season with a 5-7 dual meet mark and Noonan was also selected to the first-team All-CVC squad.

Noonan said he almost didn’t wrestle this year after a disappointing junior campaign.

"Last year I went 4-6 and broke my hand in the middle of the year and was out for the rest of the season," he said. "I wasn’t going to come out (for wrestling) at the beginning of the year, but our new assistant coach (Brian West, who is also an assistant football coach) convinced me to come out.

"I was ready to concentrate solely on football, but Brian showed me some new moves and training techniques which really helped me with both sports."

Noonan, who graduated from the Millstone Township Middle School, said he didn’t start wrestling until his freshman year at Notre Dame.

"I tried basketball but it wasn’t for me and our (wrestling) coach asked me if I wanted to give it a try," Noonan said. "I love the one-on-one competition of the sport. You have to find the will to win in yourself. It’s all up to you."

As for his future, Noonan said he is trying to decide between two colleges he would like to attend next year: Fairfield University in Connecticut and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. Both have excellent academic programs and are offering Noonan the opportunity to play on their football teams, he said.

"Fairfield is an NCAA Division I-AA football school and I have been in close contact with the head coach there," he said. "RPI is a Division III school which was 9-1 this year."

Noonan said he plans to major in business and finance and is looking at pursuing a career in business or perhaps the stock market. He said his busy schedule — he works part time at a restaurant in Freehold Township — actually helps him maintain his good grades.

"I’ve always found my grades to be better during football and wrestling seasons because I get myself on a schedule," he said.

To go along with the sports honors he has garnered, Noonan received Notre Dame’s top business education award this year.

St. Paddy’s 10-mile run Sunday in Freehold Twp.

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JERRY WOLKOWITZ
Getting set to host the 11th annual St. Paddy’s race that begins and ends at Liberty Oak Park, Freehold Township, are (l-r) Jack Lucey, Linda Hyer, president of the Freehold Area Running Club, Race Director Marcia Shapiro and Avram Shapiro. A field of 700 men, women and children is expected for Sunday’s 10-mile event.

 

Hundreds of runners and racewalkers will take to the roads of Freehold Township on Sunday when the Freehold Area Running Club hosts the 11th annual St. Paddy’s 10-Mile Run.

For the sixth time, there will be an ac-companying Windmill Leprechaun 5K race. The starting point for both races is Liberty Oak Park, Georgia Road. The 10-mile race will take runners and walkers over the scenic back roads of Freehold Township before heading back to the park for the finish.

Kevin Devine of Morristown won last year’s St. Paddy’s race in 55:54, while the women’s winner was local standout Annie O’Dowd of Old Bridge. She ran 1:05.41.

Megan Phillips of Spring Lake Heights was second to O’Dowd last year and is returning to take another shot at winning one of the region’s most popular road races.

The course record is 49:17 set by Phil-adelphia’s Bill Frawley in 1998.

Another Quaker stater, Laura Mason, holds the women’s course record. She ran a sizzling 56:51 in 1994.

Ken Holryd of Jackson won the Leprechaun 5K in 16:50 while Howell High School’s Lindsey Gallo was the women’s winner in 18:32. It was Gallo’s second straight win in the event.

Starting time for the 10-mile race is 11 a.m. with the 5K following at 11:15 a.m.

Race day registration begins at 9 a.m.

Proceeds from the races will benefit Freehold Township recreation programs, the PBA Torch Run for Special Olympics, CentraState Healthcare Foundation and other local causes.

Call the FARC hotline at (732) 431-2627 or consult the Web site at www.farcnj.com for more information.

NFL players featured on football camp staff

The Joe Namath-John Dockery Instructional Football Camp will be held from June 25-30 at Nichols College, Dudley, Mass. The camp is for boys ages 8-18.

Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath heads the staff of professional instructors which includes Vinny Testaverde, Marvin Jones and Ray Lucas of the Jets; Joe Mont-gomery, Roman Oben, Dave Patton and Sam Garnes of the Giants; and Chris Slade, Shawn Jefferson and Adam Venatieri of the Patriots. In addition, more than 50 college, high school and pre-high school coaches will be in attendance. Call (203) 775-2079 or (718) 833-6009 for more information.

Coach pleased with team’s

effort during hoop season

By dan miller

ALLENTOWN — The Allentown High School girls basketball team saw its 1999-2000 season come to an end March 2 with a loss to Ewing in the first round of the Central Jersey Group III state tournament.

But the Redbirds and their coaches, led by first-year head coach Lynn Hoyer, are certainly not hanging their heads about what could have been. Instead, they’re taking a more positive approach.

"I am proud of the heart and commitment shown from everyone on this team that they displayed in every game we played," Hoyer said. "The entire season was a learning experience for me (as a new head coach) but I think we are on the right path with this program. Personally, you are satisfied with your accomplishments but you are always looking ahead to see what you can do to improve it."

Hoyer’s words come in the aftermath of the Redbirds’ 61-31 loss to second-seeded Ewing (20-3). The Blue Devils controlled the game from the opening tip by jumping out to leads of 20-5 after the first quarter and 37-12 at halftime. It was too much of a deficit for seventh-seeded Allentown to overcome despite the fact the Redbirds outscored the Lions in the fourth quarter, 13-8, when the outcome was already determined. One of the differences in the game, according to Hoyer, was the number of turnovers made by Allentown.

"When you commit 29 turnovers in a game of this magnitude, that does not help you," the coach said. "I know the girls had the jitters going into a state game, but we just didn’t show Ewing what we had. We were too nervous out there."

Hoyer said her squad was well-prepared for Ewing, but the Redbirds simply didn’t have an answer to Ewing’s aggressive defensive pressure and full-court presses.

"When Ewing went to double-team us, we turned the ball over," she said. "The mood on the way to the game was good. It was a quick ride to Ewing, something we’re not used to. The girls were up and ready for the game. It just didn’t work out like we wanted it to.

"As far as emotion was concerned, we tried," Hoyer said. "Unfortunately, we just ran scared and handed Ewing the ball too many times. I give a lot of credit to (assistant) coach (Melissa) Fifield. She kept the girls encouraged on the bench, just like she did during last year’s state game."

In her final game, senior Dana Thomp-son led the way with 13 points and 12 rebounds against Ewing.

Although she did not score, Hoyer said senior point guard Desiree Painchaud put in her usual consistent effort by contributing in other aspects of the game.

Junior Kelly Harchetts had nine points, including two three-point field goals. Senior Tiffany Smith, who turned in some productive games toward the end of the year, was forced to miss the state game with an injury, the coach said.

Looking back on the 1999-2000 season, the Redbirds finished with a record of 11-12 and qualified for the state tournament for the second consecutive year.

While saying she was pleased when assessing the season using that perspective, Hoyer said her squad didn’t accom-plish some of the team goals the players had established before the year began, some of which were to win the Jackson Christmas Tournament (the Redbirds finished second) and win a state tournament game.

Separate from the games themselves, Hoyer offered the following perspective about what made her proud to coach this team.

"Just to watch the girls grow throughout the season, on the court, was especially pleasing," Hoyer said. "For example, watching younger players like Laura Scimeca and Kelly Allen step up and play some good games for us was great to see. I also give a lot of credit to Tiffany Smith (who transferred from Neptune) because it’s tough to break into a new system in your senior year. I thought she made great strides.

"I was also proud of the commitment put in night in and night out by Desiree Painchaud, Dana Thompson and Leslie Van Hise, our three (senior) captains," the coach said. "When you look back at what a Lady Redbird is supposed to represent, you can just look at those three. Also, Kelly Harchetts played with a broken finger throughout most of the year. She missed four games, but she always wanted to be out on the floor contributing for us. She never gave up and always kept pushing herself. When the chips were down for this team, they never gave up. It was great to see the attitude, hard work and commitment all these girls put into the games and practices all year."

Looking ahead to the 2000-01 season, Hoyer said she will be losing four seniors (Thompson, Painchaud, Van Hise and Smith) and she is hoping that some of her younger players such as Scimeca, Allen and Harchetts will grow into leaders on the floor for the Redbirds next season.

In addition, the coach said there are other younger players who could play a valuable role in the team’s success. This group of up-and-comers includes Dee Acciani, Stephanie Smith, Michelle Mac-Innes, Amanda Szbanz, Lashunda Harden and Julie Mozulay.

"The outlook is good," Hoyer noted. "We’ll be looking for summer leagues to play in. We’ll also have (local) clinics set up."

As for switching from the Shore Conference to the Colonial Valley Conference (CVC) next season, Hoyer said she is looking forward to it.

"The CVC is going to be tough," she said. "We have a lot of homework to do."

Finally, Hoyer said the support she received from the community and the athletic staff at Allentown was invaluable to her team.

"The parents were extraordinary as they always went above and beyond the call of duty," she noted. "That’s what makes the coaches’ jobs a lot easier. They worked hard to support our program. The parental commitment was great for our girls. It’s also great to work with a (supportive) athletic director (Dan Venet), and our trainer (Becky Hazlett) was great all year as it sometimes seemed like she was working in an infirmary with all the injuries we had. A lot of credit goes to her."