Saturday, July 30, 2011

Oh those Bears

Item first: A newspaper article about our Clairton Bears who tiptoes into Texas aboard their first flight EVER (no kidding, It was the first airplane ride for every single one of the 14 Bears who traveled).

South Xtra: Clairton stuns 'big boys' in Texas 7-on-7 tournament
Thursday, July 28, 2011
By Nicholas Tolomeo, Tri-State Sports & News Service
Mid-July brought a lot of firsts for the 14 member seven-on-seven football tournament team contingent from Clairton High School.

The group hopped on an American Airlines direct flight from Pittsburgh to Dallas. It was the first time any of the 14 players had flown.

They spent two nights in the Hyatt Summerfield Suites, the first time many of the players from the dying steel town stayed in a new hotel complete with rooms featuring 32-inch flat-screen, high-definition TVs.

Other firsts included dining at the well-known Campisi's Italian restaurant in downtown Dallas and touring Dallas Cowboys Stadium.

But once the Bears stepped between the lines and tournament play began, they were right at home. Clairton shocked nearly everyone involved with the tournament by finishing as runners-up in a field of 161 teams, most representing schools that are much, much larger.

The Clairton High School team will open the 2011 season riding a 31-game winning streak that includes back-to-back PIAA Class A titles. The squad features Pitt recruit Trenton Coles and Tyler Boyd, a rising junior. Coles and Boyd are recognized as two of the top athletes in the WPIAL regardless of classification.

One player who didn't make the trip was Karvonn Coles, a junior projected as the Bears' starting tailback this season. He sustained a serious knee injury before the trip and will likely miss the upcoming season.

"They are so good," Clairton coach Tom Nola gushed. "They were as good as anybody down there."

Coincidentally, Coles, Boyd and the rest of the Bears almost never got a chance to get down there.

Thomas Jefferson was the only team to defeat Clairton at the Woodland Hills seven-on-seven tournament and TJ was in line to receive the bid to the Dallas tournament. But the Jaguars had another commitment. Then those involved with the tournament heard of Clairton's record over the past few years and extended an invitation to the Bears.

With a $10,000 price tag for flights and hotels, it was unlikely the Bears would get to see how their talent stacked up against the rest of the country.

Then some Clairton alumni led by Bill Bennett stepped in. A 1960 Clairton graduate and former Bears quarterback, Bennett, a Phoenix resident, heard of the news online.

Item second: Bill Bennett, who deserves the bulk of the credit for putting the package together and lobbying Red Bull until they considered giving them a fair look sent the following email:

If you will bear with me for one more article re the Clairton Bears miraculous performance in the Red Bull 7 on 7 National Championship, I promise you will not be bombarded with their every success in the future. Here's the recap that appeared in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

If Red Bull follows through on their promise to cover the Bears opening game and then feature them in a five part series about the tournament that is supposed to air in November on national tv, I will forward email about that and one more if they win another PA state championship.

To those who have offered to "donate", before starting a funding campaign I am trying to get a 501(c)(3) number and aggregate all emails for Clairton alums in one place. After that is accomplished, I will forward email with directions. Just when you are about to give up on mankind, the generosity of "strangers" keeps one working on worthy causes. I assure you the Bear players are most appreciative of even the smallest donation. They literally have nothing but the ground they practice on. Thanks for your interest and help.


We will provide further information once a mechanism has been decided upon to offer donations to support the victorious trip to Dallas.

Item third: It is with deep sympathy that we offer our condolences to Sue Wessel on the recent loss of her husband James. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Sue and her family.

Item last: Everybody I talk to about high school alumni is amazed at the cohesiveness of CHS alumni; their loyalty, their reunions, and the annual Reunion in the Park. This year the reunion will again be held at Clairton Park over the Labor Day weekend. Information can be found at:

A little blogging music Maestro, From the musical, "My Fair Lady," On the Street Where you Live.

Dr. Forgot

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