JL: I’m a little hurt, if not totally angry, that you stole my “Top 5″ idea and used it on your favorite venues. I thought we agreed yesterday that we would do a dueling “Top 5″ on our favorite coaches to interview and cover. Way to steal my thunder and my fans, too.
JC: Get over it, Jeff. Quit whining. Feel free to blog as much as I do.
What’s our top five topic going to be today? Let’s do the five favorite coaches to interview. Wait a second, is this all-time or current coaches?
JL: This is all-time. I realize you will have a much larger frame of reference since you’ve been doing this twice as long as me, but I feel like my list can be just as interesting and thought-provoking. I mean, I’ve met a lot of characters in six years.
JC: Fine, so I’m old. Get over that, too, young ‘un. All right my No. 1 is Dale Faber, who coached at Bishop Carroll and was excellent. He was hilarious, win or lose. But the best quote he ever gave me actually got him in trouble. It came after a particularly ugly loss. I asked him about how ugly it was. He said, “It was uglier than watching Roseanne Barr and I play one-on-one naked.” He had a funny comment about every situation and it was tough to listen to him when he was actually serious because you were waiting for the punch line.
JL: I missed the Dale Faber days at Bishop Carroll unfortunately, but I’ve dealt with him a little bit now that he’s the men’s basketball coach at Friends. As for my No. 1, I’m going with Ronnie Allen, the boys basketball coach at East. I don’t know if I have a particularly good reason, but there’s just something about the guy that puts me at ease when I’m talking to him. Even though he calls me “Lutz” and I don’t think he knows my first name, we’ve developed a good rapport over the years. I try to make him laugh sometimes, and I’m successful about two times out of 10.
My second choice, someone who could have easily been No. 1, is Bobby Bribiesca, the soccer coach at Northwest. Even though soccer isn’t completely on my radar as a sports fan, I haven’t dealt with a coach during my time at The Eagle who is as passionate about his sport as Bribiesca, one of the original City League soccer coaches. He makes me wish I knew more about soccer, because I think it would be fun to shoot the breeze with him and I know he talks about the game a lot. He’s probably the most consistently nice person I’ve met on this job — he never has a negative comment, never raises his voice and never shows even an ounce of bitterness or anger over a loss.
JC: These are so thought-provoking. But I thought we were only doing basketball coaches, Jeff. Now Iâ€™ve got to think even harder. Thanks a lot.
I like Ron Allen, too, because he always has something smart alecky to say to me. I think he knows my first name, though. And Bobby B., what a great guy, especially because heâ€™s always available.
My No. 2 would have to be Collegiateâ€™s Mitch Fiegel. The guy can talk. Ask him one question and heâ€™s gone. He gives so much information in such a short span that he makes my job easy. Besides, is there really a nicer guy out there. OK, maybe Bribiesca trumps Fiegel, but itâ€™s not by much.
Trying to come up with my No. 3 was a little tougher because Jeff messed everything up by going outside basketball. But Iâ€™m going with Carroll football coach Alan Schuckman. I genuinely like this guy — he’s so classy, so kind, such an outstanding coach. Heâ€™s always friendly, win or lose, always makes his players available, provides all the media with the nicest preseason information sheet. I could go on and on. Hmmm, maybe I should make him No. 1.
JL: You sound like a correspondent with all this love for Mitch Fiegel, who gets plenty of props from the college students just breaking into the business. I’ve got a little internal debate going about my No. 3 choice, but I’m going to go with Joe Auer, the boys basketball and former baseball coach at Heights. My father has had a few run-ins with Joe over the years, and I wonder sometimes if Joe holds that against me. I hope not, because I really like the guy, and he’s always completely honest when I interview him after a game. He starts talking before you even ask a question, which makes a reporter’s job much easier. He’s another guy that’s good to shoot the breeze with, because he’s a baseball fan like myself. He gets marked off a few points for being a White Sox fan, though. But nobody’s perfect.
JC: I’m with you on Auer, Jeff. Truly a good interview. I especially like that sometimes his quotes show him for the government teacher that he is. I give him extra props for once listening to my 5-year-old sing his entire Christmas song that he was singing in a preschool program. It was the longest song Iâ€™ve ever heard. As for Ebright, a very nice guy, who I only see in football season.
Onto No. 4.
Hutchinson football coach Randy Dreiling. This guy cracks me up. Itâ€™s not that heâ€™s Faber-funny, nor is he Schuckman-nice. Heâ€™s just cool and funny and crass and will say whatever he thinks no matter what. Heâ€™s ripped me for not picking his team in our weekly predictions, heâ€™s called me out for being a jinx, heâ€™s been more honest than most people could ever be, heâ€™s said things I could never put in the paper, heâ€™s made fun of my football throwing motion.
And yet, I love interviewing him.
JL: I know I’m running a little bit behind on responding to your choices, but I have to give my thoughts on Alan Schuckman. I always get a little tounge-tied with him when I interview him after games, mostly because all the Carroll games I’ve covered have been played in sub-zero temperatures and it’s all I can do to keep my lips from sticking together when I talk to him. But speaking of Carroll, my No. 4 is their baseball coach, Charlie Ebright. This is a classic example of quantity over quality. Charlie doesn’t always necessarily give me the best quotes or information, but I’ve covered his team so much that we’ve become sort of like comrades and I’ve pretty sure I’ve memorized his cell phone number from calling him so much for preview stories in the spring. I also identify with his team somewhat (My diploma from North just got taken away for writing that) and I’ve gotten along with his players — guys like Bryan Bye, Josh Bird and Ryan Jones.
What I like about our lists so far is that we haven’t had any duplicates. It speaks well to our different personalities, taste in people, and ability to get along with each other about 45-percent of the time. My No. 5 is Andover Central girls coach Stana Jefferson. I’ve questioned her ability in the past because she seems sort of passive sometimes, but I’ve figured out within the last year or so that she’s just always in control, and her calm demeanor carries over to her team’s style of play. She’s another one I can get along with off the floor, and we had some interesting conversations during the Class 4A basketball tournament last season. She thinks I jinx her by predicting success for her team, so I’ll go ahead and do it one more time: Stana, your Jaguars WILL win the state championship this season!
JC: And finally, my No. 5 is former Carroll wrestling coach Jamie Finkeldei. My feelings on Jamie are strong because he always hooked me up at state wrestling. Covering the state wrestling tournament, especially when it was 4A, 5A and 6A, is no easy task because you’re trying to keep on top of everything and miss nothing. I rely so much on coaches to keep me up-to-date on not only their team and wrestlers but whoever else is doing well or was upset. Jamie always did just that. I’d make my rounds of the mats, talking to coaches, and Iâ€™d always stop by where Jamie sat. He’d give me everything I needed and more.
JC: I’m a big fan of Stana myself. We talk more than basketball, mainly due to both of us having young children.
Well, that’s it. Our first Top 5 chat is finished. I know I had fun and Jeff is agreeing with me (maybe we actually get along 46 percent of the time).
We want to do this again, but we want to know if you liked it or hated it. And feel free to give us some topics to try.