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Imagine this life if you will: You are a senior in high school. You can throw a fastball 90-plus miles per hour. You are a starter on a very good basketball team. And you also happen to be one of the better quarterbacks in the Midwest.
It’s been announced that after 30 years, Dierdorf & Hart’s Steakhouse will be closing its doors in Westport Plaza. Since opening in 1983, the establishment has served as a go-to meeting place for many a business deal and countless special occasions for local families. The restaurant was locally owned and operated by former football greats DAN DIERDORF and JIM HART, and managing partner LOU GARESCHE. Lunch service ended last week, and dinner service will continue until Saturday, May 18.
Ryan Robertson arguably posted the best career stats of any high school player in our town's history. Now that he's returned home, Robertson is coaching his children's basketball teams.
Sports today has become specialized—too specialized. Because of the popularity of select sports, kids are forced to quit sports they are proficient in so they can make that fifth select hockey, soccer or basketball practice of the week. That's why stories like Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders don't happen much anymore. In high school, it's tough to be really good at two sports. In college, the two-sport athlete is almost non-existent.
It was the spring of 2005. Mike McNeill was a junior in high school. He was at home in Kirkwood, and he had just gotten the mail. There was a letter from Nebraska, but he wasn't quite sure what it meant. He thought they were offering him a scholarship. He asked his mom to read the letter. Afterward, she thought the same thing. They weren't quite certain. So they actually called the Nebraska recruiter and asked, "Does this mean you are offering a scholarship?" The recruiter laughed before telling them yes, they were offering.
Howard and Alice Handelman, Professor at Missouri School of Journalism at Mizzou
In the history of St. Louis basketball players in the NBA, David Lee takes a backseat to very few. Ed Macauley, Bill Bradley and Jo Jo White are the only players from our area who have accomplished more than Lee.
It happened at almost every Westminster Christian Academy baseball game in 2009: Scouts--sometimes as many as 25 of them, all behind home plate--pointing their radar guns at the pitcher. He stood 6 feet, five inches tall. He rarely changed expression. He never smiled. He was 17 going on 27. Jacob Turner was locked in. He knew Major League Baseball would be timing and watching almost every pitch he would throw his senior season.
For one last time, the area’s top soccer players will take the field to compete with and against one another. The 28th annual Missouri Athletic Club Senior All-Star high school soccer game will take place Saturday at the renovated Anheuser-Busch Center. The girls all-star game kicks off at 6 p.m. The boys will start just after 8 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students. It costs $2 to park.
Dan Tlapek sat under a canopy and rang the sweat out of his shorts. It wasn’t just hot on the artificial turf at Lindenwood University. It was the oven that’s behind the barbecue in the back of hell’s kitchen. Hot would have been pleasant. This was torture.
At age 7, he started driving a pickup on his family’s farm. When he was 12, his father gave him the keys to a 1968 Ford truck to drive around the property. Curtis Francois got the racing bug early and hasn’t shaken it. Fast forward to a Tuesday night in March: It’s 7:30, and the husband and father of two is observing drag-racing in the pits at his track, Gateway Motorsports Park. You do what you love. So this real estate developer does the real estate stuff in the morning, and then goes to the track and stays late.
FRIDAY, APRIL 6
Melissa Bruno is different. At least that’s what her team tells her. She doesn’t believe it, but her players can feel it, see it and hear it even if they can’t put their finger on it. Bruno, 29, should be different. She’s starting her fifth season as the head coach of the Cor Jesu soccer team. She learned plenty over the last three years since her current crop of seniors were just freshmen. Maybe the most significant change is the birth of her daughter, Rylan, the second week of January. There are few things that change one’s outlook on the world like a child.
It took Alec Abeln half a heartbeat to decide he wanted to be a Missouri Tiger. Maybe it was because Mizzou was always close to his heart. Maybe it was because it’s in his DNA. A 6-foot-3, 270-pound junior offensive lineman at St. Louis University High, Abeln always wanted to be a Tiger.
Paul McRoberts dove onto Norm Stewart Court on the floor of Mizzou Arena and erupted into a cheering, screaming, hugging mess. The 6-foot-4, 185-pound McRoberts’ greatest wish had just been granted, and he was letting it out. He let out all his frustration of coming so close the last two years. He let out his anger at being doubted. But, mostly, he let out his joy of finally reaching the mountaintop.
Courtney Powell tried to delay the inevitable. A senior guard for the Westminster girls’ basketball team, Powell walked into school Monday with her uniform in her bag and her heart broken into a million pieces. Monday was when it all came to an end. When Powell, 18 handed in her uniform, it would be the last time she’d hold her Wildcats jersey in her hands—the last time she would have a tangible piece of the program she loves so dearly in her possession. “I just want to hold onto a piece of the season,” the 5-foot-7 Powell says. “It’s going to be hard giving it back.”
The talk all weekend on the sidelines of Mizzou Arena was centered around one thing—What is wrong with St. Louis basketball? For the first time in a long time, maybe ever, St. Louis had a team playing in each of the girls’ and boys’ Class 4 and 5 state semifinals.
Paul McRoberts (23) of Soldan puts up a shot between Hillcrest's Dorial Green-Beckham (32) and Austin Petry during the Class 4 state championship game Saturday at Mizzou Arena. (Paul Kopsky | STLhighschoolsports.com)
Rob Schaefer, Coronado Ballroom...
Shane Matzen stood surrounded by 300 of his closest friends. The Marquette boys’ basketball coach was inundated by hugs, handshakes, well wishes, thanks-yous and attaboys. Matzen’s back was raw from all the slaps it took. While he worked his way around the crowd, those who couldn’t be there shared their joy and appreciation by blowing up his phone with text messages, emails, Tweets and calls. His pocket was vibrating so much it looked like his hip had a twitch.
FRIDAY, MARCH 9
We have had some pure shooters from St. Louis County over the years. However, nobody has ever shot the ball better than Parkway West alum Scott Highmark, who became one of the all-time great Billikens. If shooting were a virtue, Highmark would have been a saint. Technique, range, concentration—he had it all.
Austin Smith saw this scene before, only from a different angle. Before the championship matches of the state wrestling tournament commence, the participants are paraded out onto the floor of the Mizzou Arena and introduced to the crowd. It’s an incredible spectacle. The atmosphere crackles with anticipation and excitement.
Sadie Stipanovich doesn’t have butterflies in her belly before big games. She has pterodactyls flapping around in there. The junior center for the Westminster girls’ basketball team, Stipanovich gets so nervous her friends can see it on her face. “They’ll say, Look at Sadie—she looks like she’s going to throw up,” Stipanovich says with a laugh.
FRIDAY, FEB. 24