Sports and Outdoors

Thursday, November 29, 2012

TinCaps Announce 2013 Field Staff

From the Fort Wayne TinCaps:

The Fort Wayne TinCaps, in conjunction with the San Diego Padres, announced their 2013 field staff today. Manager Jose Valentin and Pitching Coach Willie Blair will both return to Parkview Field, while former major leaguer Morgan Burkhart will begin his first season as hitting coach. Athletic Trainer Ricky Huerta will join the club for his first season in Fort Wayne.

Valentin, 46, led the TinCaps to the Midwest League Championship Series in a 74-win campaign during his managerial debut season. The veteran of 16 major league seasons was named the Low-A Manager of the year for 2012 by Baseball America in his first season on the bench. He sent three players to the Midwest League All-Star game and had two players named as Midwest League Post-Season All-Stars, marking the first time Fort Wayne placed multiple players on that list since 2003. He also managed Yeison Asencio, the first-ever Midwest League batting champion in the 20-year history of the franchise. The Manati, Puerto Rico, native played finished his major league career with a .243 batting average, 816 runs batted in and 249 home runs. In addition to playing for the Milwaukee Brewers, Valentin also spent time with the Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets, before retiring in 2009.

Blair, who spent 12 seasons in the major leagues with eight different teams, will lead Fort Wayne's pitching staff for a third consecutive year. During the 2012 season Blair oversaw the development of relief pitcher Matt Stites, who was named the Low-A All-Star relief pitcher of the year by Baseball America. Blair, a Paintsville, Kentucky, native and Morehead State University graduate, also guided Adys Portillo, who was 3-11 with a 7.11 ERA in 2011, to a 6-6 record with a 1.87 ERA in 2012 that netted the pitcher a July promotion to Double-A San Antonio. The TinCaps' staff ERA of 3.59 was fifth-best in the 16-team Midwest League.
Burkhart replaces former major league outfielder Jacque Jones as Fort Wayne's hitting coach. The 40-year-old Burkhart is a native of St. Louis, Missouri. During his major league career, Burkhart played for the Boston Red Sox in 2000 and 2001, and for the Kansas City Royals in 2003. Most recently, he served as the manager of the Windy City ThunderBolts, an independent team in the Frontier League. Prior managerial experience also includes three seasons at the helm of the independent Calgary Vipers.

Huerta, who served as the trainer for the Arizona League Padres last season, joins in the TinCaps in that same role. The 26-year-old Los Angeles native will be entering his fourth season with the Padres organization. 

The 2013 season marks the 15th consecutive year of Fort Wayne's affiliation with San Diego.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

“Talk” to DNR Christmas tree expert on Facebook, Dec. 5

From the Indiana Department of Natural Resources:

Facebook followers of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources can “talk” online with Forest Education Director Sam Carman about Christmas trees on Wednesday, Dec. 5, from 2-3 p.m., on the DNR’s Facebook wall.

Participants will learn how to choose a fresh Indiana Christmas tree and keep it fresh throughout the holidays. Followers will be able to ask questions online during the hour-long chat.

Future topics, instructions on how to join a conversation on Facebook, and commenting guidelines are posted at

To join a chat, go to the DNR’s Facebook wall,, and click “like” (if you aren’t already a “friend”).

Participants may begin typing in questions during the time slot. The DNR expert will answer questions as time allows.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Salamonie Lake hosts Senior Monday lunch, Dec.3

From the Indiana Department of Natural Resources:

People age 50 and over are invited to the monthly Senior Monday Carry-in Luncheon on Dec. 3 at noon at the Salamonie Interpretive Center.

The interpretive center is in Lost Bridge West State Recreation Area in Andrews. Visitors should note the new noon meal time.
Huntington County Master Gardeners will lead a gourd Christmas craft session after the meal.

Attendees should bring their table service, a prepared dish to share and $1 donation to help defray costs of the provided main dish. Advance registration is required.

To register or for more information, call Upper Wabash Interpretive Services at (260) 468-2127.

For more information on other UWIS programs, see or

Salamonie Lake is at 9214 West-Lost Bridge West, Andrews, 46702.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Norwell honors basketball teams past

Members of Norwell's 1973 and 1988 boys' basketball teams were honored before the varsity boys' game Saturday night at Norwell.

Members of Norwell's 2011-2012 boys' basketball team, which finished runner-up in the Class 3A state finals, receive their runners-up state rings, during the same game.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Wells County Extension Office calendar

  • November 27 — Council on Agriculture, Research, Extension and Teaching, DeKalb County Office Building, 215 E. 9th St., Auburn IN, 7 p.m.
  • November 28 — Wells County 4-H Jr. Leaders, Community Center, 4-H Park, Bluffton, 7-8:30 p.m.
  • December 6 — Wells County 4-H Council, Community Center, 4-H Park, Bluffton, 7  p.m.
  • December 10 — Wells County 4-H Association, Council, Leaders & Livestock Superintendents, Community Center, 4-H Park, Bluffton, Carry In Supper, 6 p.m.
  • December 11 — 4-H Scholarship Workshop, Community Center, 4-H Park, Bluffton, 7-8 p.m.
  • December 13 — Ag Outlook Breakfast / Program, Community Center, 4-H Park, Bluffton, 7 a.m. No fee. Register to attend: 824-6412
  • December 13 — Private Pesticide Applicator Training, community Center, 4-H Park, 9:30 AM. $10 fee. Register by calling: 824-6412

Monday, November 19, 2012

Duck stamp art on display at Salamonie Lake

From the Indiana Department of Natural Resources:

Winning artwork from the 2012 Indiana Junior Duck Stamp Contest will be on display at Salamonie Interpretive Center through November.

The display features 12 first-place winners from four age categories.

More than 450 students in grades K–12 entered artwork for the contest, which involved drawing a native North American water bird, including ducks, geese or swans. The concept was for the students to learn “conservation through art.”

The Salamonie Interpretive Center is in Lost Bridge West State Recreation Area, Highway 105, in western Huntington County. The center is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Salamonie Interpretive Center hosts holiday decorating party

From the Indiana Department of Natural Resources:

Join the Salamonie Interpretive Center staff on Nov. 17 to help decorate the Interpretive Center for the holidays.

The event is from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The center will provide lunch and the decorations. Donated decorations will also be accepted.

Register by calling (260) 468-2127.

The center is at 3691 S. New Holland Road, Andrews, in Salamonie Lake’s Lost Bridge West State Recreation Area, off Highway 105, in western Huntington County.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Some state park and reservoir fees to change in 2013

From the Indiana Department of Natural Resources:

Visitors to Indiana state parks and reservoirs will see some changes in user fees in 2013, but the daily entrance rate of $5 will remain the same. 

“Our goal, as always, is to provide the best state parks and facilities we can for our visitors,” DNR director Rob Carter said. “We’ve made minor fee adjustments in the past to keep pace with the costs of meeting that goal. It’s now time to make a few additional changes, while also keeping in mind family budgets and the economic challenges Hoosiers are facing.”
Some of the changes in fees include: 

• Annual entrance permits will increase from $36 to $40 for Indiana residents. The annual out-of-state entrance permit will increase from $46 to $60. Annual entrance permits also may be used for entrance to the interpretive center at Falls of the Ohio State Park.
• Camping rates will increase by $1-$4 depending on the type of facilities, but weekday campers will still get a better rate.
• Swimming pool fees will increase from $2/person/day to $3/person/day. A family swimming pass will be $50 for a 25-visit pass, which can reduce the per person/per day cost back to $2. Swimming passes have no expiration date, and can be used from one year to the next.
• Cabin rates will increase by $5/day in some locations.
• The annual motorized lake permit will increase from $20 to $22.
• Some state park inn rooms will increase from between 99 cents and $4.95/night depending on location and amenities.  

For a complete list of fees, see Fee adjustments are effective beginning today (Nov. 15). Camping, cabin, shelter, inn and other reservations made prior to this date will be honored at the old rates. 

In 2006, the Indiana Natural Resources Commission approved a fee structure that gives the DNR director flexibility in setting rates for entrance, camping, swimming, boat launching, and many other facilities and services. None of the fee changes for 2013 move pricing at or even near the top of the ranges established by the Commission, and many activities remain free after paying the gate entrance fee. Some of those activities include hiking, biking, visiting nature centers, enjoying most interpretive programs, picnicking and birding. 

Visitor fees provide about 67 percent of the funding for services, staff and the natural and cultural resources visitors enjoy when they visit a state park or reservoir. About 33 percent of the funding comes from monies appropriated by the General Assembly from general fund tax dollars.

“Modest, periodic adjustments in fees help us maintain services,” said Dan Bortner, director of the DNR Division of State Parks & Reservoirs. “This approach was championed by Col. Richard Lieber, the founder of our state park system, from its very beginning in 1916. It is a philosophy that we still believe in today. 

“There aren’t many places you can go and enjoy a weekend with several thousand acres of forest, prairie or wetlands wrapped around you. A visit to one of our state parks or reservoirs is still a great value.”

Recreation users will have a great opportunity for savings through the end of the year by purchasing online either an SPR Go! Value Package or a Holiday Gift Pack. Pricing on both of these packages will remain the same through the end of 2012 as it was in 2011. The sale of these packages begins today through Mother Nature's Mercantile at

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

CheckIN Game phone-in option added for fall turkey, deer firearms seasons

From the Indiana Department of Natural Resources:

The DNR online CheckIN Game system now offers hunters the option to report their harvested game from any telephone.

Hunters who use this option will talk to a live person who will enter their information into the online CheckIN Game system. The phone-in option is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the fall turkey and all deer seasons. The number is 1-800-419-1326.

Because of staffing costs, a $3 fee will be charged for each CheckIN telephone transaction. Payment can be made by Visa or Mastercard only.

The online system and on-site check stations remain free options for hunters to check in game. To access CheckIN Game online, visit

Before using the phone-in option, hunters should have their customer ID and all harvest information ready. Customer ID numbers can be found on any hunting, fishing or trapping license. Lifetime license holders and those who do not have their customer ID will be able to look up their number through the phone system.

Once a transaction is completed, hunters will be given a confirmation number, which must be written on their temporary transportation tag.

“The new phone-in option allows hunters who do not have Internet access the ability to check-in their game from home or in the field with a mobile phone,” said Mark Reiter, Division of Fish & Wildlife director. “This makes check-in easy and convenient for all hunters.”

Monday, November 12, 2012

Fort Wayne Headwaters Park skating begins Nov. 18

The ice rink at Fort Wayne’s Headwaters Park is scheduled to open on Sunday, Nov. 18. Admission to skate is $3 for those 14 and younger and $5 for those 14 and older. Skate rental is $2. There is free skating for children under 14 every Wednesday, beginning Nov. 21.

Friday, November 9, 2012

DNR offers free admission to veterans and active-duty military, Nov. 11

From the Indiana Department of Natural Resources:

All veterans and active-duty military personnel, and all in their vehicle, will be admitted free to DNR state parks, reservoir properties and state forests on Veterans Day, Sunday, Nov. 11.

“This is our small way of saying thanks for the sacrifices these men and women have made and continue to make for our freedom,” said Robert E. Carter Jr., director of the DNR.

Veterans and military personnel should present ID or evidence of military service at the entrance gate.

Indiana’s state parks, reservoirs and state forests are open year-round with plenty of activities in late fall and early winter. Visitors can experience nature on one of the dozens of unique hiking trails throughout the state, or enjoy the warmth of a campfire at one of the campgrounds.

At state parks and reservoirs, visitors centers offer a learning experience while seven state park inns offer lodging, dining and gift shops.

Standard gate fees, generally $5 per in-state vehicle and $7 per out-of-state vehicle for state parks and reservoirs, will be in effect for Monday, Nov. 12, which is a state holiday.

Extension calendar

• November 10: Indiana 4-H Congress, State Fairgrounds, Indianapolis, 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
• November 12: Northeast Indiana 4-H & FFA Forestry, Entomology and Crops Career Development Contest. Whitley County 4-H Fairgrounds, Columbia City, 5:30 p.m.
• November 12: Veterans Day — county offices closed
• November 13: Extension Advisory Board, Community Center, 6:30 p.m., 4-H Park.
• November 15: Extension Homemakers Fall Program Fair, Community Center, 4-H Park, 3:00-4:00 p.m. "So What's On Your Plate?" $3 payable at the door, 4:30-5:30 p.m. "Oh My Achy Feet." No charge. Pre-register at 260-824-6412.
• November 19: Wells County 4-H Association, Community Center, 7:00 p.m., 4-H Park
• December 11: Extension Homemakers Holiday Luncheon, 11:00 a.m., Community Center, 4-H park.
• December 13: Ag Outlook Breakfast/Program, 7:00 a.m., Community Center, 4-H Park, no fee. Register to attend at 260-824-6412.
• December 13: Private Pesticide Applicator Training, 9:30 a.m., Community Center, 4-H Park. $10. Register by calling 260-824-6412.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Indiana winners announced for Wendy's High School Heisman

Two of Indiana’s most outstanding high school seniors were honored with distinguished recognition as State Winners of the 2012 Wendy’s High School Heisman Award.  Lauren Honer of Angola High School in Angola and Jordan Scheller of Gibson Southern High School in Fort Branch will now go on to compete for the national award that celebrates their hard work, dedication and exceptional records in athletics, academics and community leadership.

“Colleges want well-rounded students and with admissions growing more selective, a national award like the Wendy’s High School Heisman can really help students stand out,” said Archie Griffin, two-time collegiate Heisman Trophy winner. “Lauren and Jordan are inspirations to others in their school and community, and we’re honored to welcome them into the Heisman family.”

Awarded in conjunction with the collegiate Heisman, the Wendy’s High School Heisman, now in its 19th year, has set the standard for high school student-athletes and gained tremendous prestige among universities and colleges nationwide.

Honer and Scheller were chosen from 45,000 applicants, surviving rounds that narrowed contenders to one male and one female winner from each school, and then to Indiana’s respected group of 20 State Finalists.

Honer and Scheller will compete against winners from other regions across the country for a chance to be named one of 12 National Finalists in Wendy’s annual quest to find the nation’s top scholar-athletes. These 12 outstanding students will go on to compete for the National Winner title in New York City on December 7. National Finalists will be featured during a televised ceremony on ESPN networks and will receive gold medals and $2,000 awards for their high schools. One male and one female National Winner will each receive a crystal Wendy’s High School Heisman trophy, a $500 Wendy’s gift card, and a donation from Wendy’s in the amount of $10,000 to their respective high school. Additionally, the winners will be recognized during the collegiate Heisman Trophy broadcast December 8 on ESPN2.

For more information about the High School Heisman program and to view all the state winners and finalists, visit

Monday, November 5, 2012

Sorrells, Erba lead Indiana all-star cross country teams

State champion Connor Sorrells of Barr-Reeve and record-breaking Ashley Erba of Warsaw lead this year’s Indiana All-Star Cross Country Teams.

The Indiana Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches (IATCCC) announced its 12-runner boys and girls lineups that will compete Saturday, Nov. 17, at the annual Mid-East Cross Country Championships in Kettering, Ohio.

Similar to the Indiana-Kentucky All-Star Basketball series, the Mid-East meet brings together top senior high school cross country runners from four states – Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Illinois – for a unique state vs. state competition.

Last year, Ohio won the boys championship, while Indiana took home the girls trophy.

Hoosier team members were selected on the basis of their performance at the IHSAA state finals in Terre Haute on Oct. 27.

Sorrells, from tiny Barr-Reeve High School (enrollment 203), won his school’s first individual state championship by covering the tough 5,000-meter (3.1 mile) LaVern Gibson course in 15 minutes, 21.3 seconds. He passed early race leader Zach Panning of Fort Wayne Concordia and powered away over the final 800 meters.

Sorrells is the first champion from a true “small” (Class 1A) school since Gayle Lundquist of Battle Ground, who won the individual title in 1960.

Erba, the girls state runner-up, waged historic battles with state champion Anna Rohrer of Mishawaka throughout the entire cross country season. Rohrer is a sophomore and not eligible for All-Star consideration.

Erba, the 2011 state champ, broke course records almost everywhere she ran, including the huge Culver Academies Invitational and New Prairie semistate. At the state finals on Oct. 27, she clocked 17:29.2 and broke her own state meet course record by 36 seconds, but still finished second to Rohrer.

Erba won the IHSAA’s Mental Attitude Award. She has verbally committed to run for Providence College next year.

Erba is also a national high school champion in track and field. She won the girls 5,000-meter run at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals in June, 2012. Her 16:18.21 clocking in that race is the meet record.

Joining Sorrells on the boys All-Star squad are two pairs of teammates – Jonathan Harper and Alex Hess from Carroll  (Fort Wayne), as well as Warsaw’s Jacob Poyner and Robert Murphy.

The girls squad also has two pairs – Bobbie Burgess and Grace Lachmund from West Lafayette, and sisters Bethany Neeley and Brittany Neeley from Eastern (Greentown).

Elkhart Christian’s Joel Hartman – who didn’t even qualify for the semistate as a junior – is his school’s first representative on the All-Star team.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

HU gymnasium to be named Platt Arena

From Huntington University:

On Saturday, November 10, Huntington University and the Board of Trustees will honor Forester men’s basketball legend Steve Platt by formally naming the Merillat Complex gymnasium after him.

The ceremony to name the gymnasium Platt Arena will take place at 3:00 p.m. in the Merillat Complex prior to the championship game of the men’s basketball Ness Bros./Hall of Fame Tournament.

During his college basketball career, Platt helped the Foresters achieve an overall record of 78-38. He was a four-time All-District Player of the Year and an NAIA All-American, and was featured in Sports Illustrated magazine. Platt still holds several school records and remains Indiana’s all-time collegiate leader in scoring with a career total of 3,700 points. 

As our men’s basketball coach, Coach Platt led the Foresters to 329 wins, including a runner-up finish at the 2006 NAIA Division II National Tournament. He was recognized by Fort Wayne’s News-Sentinel as one of Northeast Indiana’s Top 50 Athletes of the Century. Steve was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 1996 and the NAIA Basketball Hall of Fame in 1987. 

“This is a fitting honor for someone, who as a basketball player, helped put Huntington College on the map with his athletic achievements, and as a coach, took our men’s basketball program to unprecedented heights during his tenure,” said Athletic Director Lori Culler. “We are grateful for all he has done as an ambassador for Huntington University.”

The naming ceremony is open to the public.

The Huntington University Foresters compete in 16 intercollegiate sports for men and women. In the past decade, Huntington has produced 46 NAIA All-America honors and 202 All-America Scholar Athlete honors. Huntington University is a comprehensive Christian college of the liberal arts offering graduate and undergraduate programs in more than 70 academic concentrations. U.S.News & World Report ranks Huntington among the best colleges in the Midwest.