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Where has the Middie Magic gone? Why Middletown High School’s marquee sports are struggling

Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 9:00 AM

Talks about importance of youth programs

To be successful in high school sports, four criteria must be in place: Quality facilities, coaching consistency, talented athletes and a youth program.

In Middletown, where the district renovated Barnitz Stadium and built a state-of-art Wade E. Miller Arena on the high school campus, facilities can’t be blamed for the two worst football and boys basketball seasons in the school’s once-proud athletic history.

The football team, under Lance Engleka, who resigned after two seasons citing death threats he received on social media, finished 0-10 in 2016 and 1-9 in 2017.

READ MORE: Who’s the greatest Middie athlete of all-time?

The boys basketball team — for a school that has won seven state titles, but none since 1957 — was 8-16 last season and 6-16 this season heading into the Division I tournament.

Add up those two-year records of the football and boys basketball teams — the district’s marque teams — and you get 15 wins, 51 losses, a .227 winning percentage. After reviewing records for the last century, that appears to be the worst two-year, win-loss mark in Middletown High School history.

The Middie Magic, it seems, has vanished. And there’s plenty of blame to go around.

Let’s start with the coaching staffs. Middletown used to be known for its long-tenured coaches, but of late, it’s been more like a coaching carousel. There have been three football and three basketball coaches in the last five seasons.

READ MORE: 7 things to know about the city’s history for its 185th birthday

Supporters of the program and MHS athletic director Aaron Zupka believe Darnell Hoskins, who’s completing his second season, and first-year football coach Don Simpson were the proper hires.

Lynn Darbyshire, a member of the selection committee, has been impressed by Hoskins, Hoskins’ assistant and former Dayton Dunbar coach Pete Pullen and former Miami University Middletown coach Jim Sliger, who is the freshmen coach.

“We got it right,” Darbyshire said. “Things are in place.”

But to be truly successful, these coaches — all coaches — need talented players, especially to compete in the powerful Greater Miami Conference with the likes of Colerain, Princeton, Lakota East, Lakota West and Mason.

READ MORE: Middletown High School’s greatest basketball players

Middletown used to churn out Division I players every year. At one time, five former Middies started on the Ohio State University football team and rosters of Division I college basketball teams were littered with Middies.

But the Middies haven’t produced a Division I basketball player since Vince Edwards signed with Purdue four years ago. Jalin Marshall, a wide receiver for the New York Jets, was the last Middie to earn a scholarship at OSU in 2014.

So where did all the players go? Middletown, once the largest school in the GMC, now has an enrollment of about 1,500, the lowest of the 10 schools in the league. The largest school, Mason, has about 3,500 students.

The biggest reason for the Middies’ athletic struggles appears to be its lack of a youth program.At one time, Middletown offered youth baseball and football leagues, but over the years, as interest waned, those leagues folded and the fields were converted for soccer. There are no baseball diamonds at Smith Park, the city’s largest park, and the youth football games have been moved to Douglass Park.

When was the last time you saw a pick-up basketball game at Douglass Park or Sunset Park?

“It’s painful at times,” said Lynn Darbyshire, a member of the selection committee for Middletown coaches who has attended most of the boys basketball games. “We are not prepared at this level to be competitive.”

For that to change, the district must retain students and attract families, Zupka said. Middletown certainly benefited when the Carter family (Butch, Cris, John, George) and Edwards family (Bill Jr. and Vince) moved to the Middletown area. More athletes are leaving Middletown than enrolling.

Zupka also wants the varsity coaches to get more involved at the lower levels.

“We have to offer more support to organizations and kids,” said Zupka, who has instructed his coaches to provide youth camps and skill development opportunities. “We got the facilities and we need to use our facilities to get kids to our doors, to engage kids at a younger level. We got to get the kids earlier. That’s our biggest challenge. Building that consistency from the bottom up. Shame on us. We got to do a better job. That’s a point of emphasis.”

He called them “gaps in areas of opportunities.”

If the athletic department does “one thing right” in the next few years, it will “get that youth infrastructure together,” Zupka said.

Then he allowed: “If we don’t take care of that it will not change.”

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Live updates from the 2018 Vectren Air Show: Flying acts take to the air

Published: Sunday, June 24, 2018 @ 9:23 AM
Updated: Sunday, June 24, 2018 @ 11:47 AM

Blue Angels at the Air Show - June 23, 2018

UPDATE @12:19 p.m.

Flying acts have now started at the 2018 Dayton Vectren Air Show. The Tuskegee Airmen are now in the air.

UPDATE @11:50 a.m.

Flying acts will begin soon. 

Watch live coverage of the acts here.

FIRST REPORT

Gates are open for the last day of the 2018 Vectren Dayton Air Show.

The first acts take to the skies at noon and fly through 4:15 p.m. Gates close at 6 p.m.

>> Saturday highlights of the 2018 Vectren Dayton Air Show

Today’s lineup of feature flying acts include: the Tuskegee Airmen, P-51 Mustang, U.S. Army Golden Knights, Vicky Benzing, B-17 Movie Memphis Belle, Redline, Sean Tucker, U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor, U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight, CareFlight dedication, Tora Tora Tora, Jet Waco and the U.S. Navy Blue Angels.

PHOTOS: Images from Saturday Air Show

>> RTA offers express shuttle service to Vectren Dayton Air Show

>> How to avoid traffic and parking headaches at this weekend’s Vectren Dayton Air Show

>> Parking lots in good shape for Vectren Dayton Air Show

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Missing adult alert for Hamilton Co. man canceled

Published: Sunday, June 24, 2018 @ 8:14 AM
Updated: Sunday, June 24, 2018 @ 10:41 AM

UPDATE @ 10:39 a.m.:

The missing adult alert issued for James Marques was canceled. 

FIRST REPORT:

A statewide missing adult alert has been issued by Colerain Township police for a 79-year-old man.

Police say James Marques was last seen leaving his residence for a trip to the store in a light blue 2007 Ford Focus, Ohio plate DXZ4199.

Marques was last seen wearing a white T-shirt, jeans and a blue windbreaker jacket.

Marques is 5’10’’, 150 pounds, has gray/brown hair, hazel eyes and suffers from dementia.

Police have reason to believe he may be in Indiana.

If you have any information on Marques or his whereabouts, please call 911 or 1-866-693-9171 to be transferred to the investigating law enforcement agency. 

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Injuries reported in 2-vehicle crash involving motorcycle in Dayton

Published: Sunday, June 24, 2018 @ 10:23 AM


Police and medics were on scene of a crash that involved a motorcycle and a black Pontiac Grand Prix in Dayton this morning.

>>Dayton police searching for driver of stolen vehicle involved in serious crash

The accident occurred at South Smithville Road and Oakdale Avenue around 9:55 a.m., according to dispatchers.

We are working to learn more and will update this page as information becomes available. 

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Author of national best-seller stops in Dayton for book tour

Published: Sunday, June 24, 2018 @ 7:37 AM

Fans of author Joshua Pollock have the opportunity for a meet and greet during his national book tour for The Heartfulness Way today and Monday. 

Since its introduction to the U.S. market on June 1, the book, written by Pollock and Kamlesh D. Patel, leader of the Heartfulness Institute, has quickly become a national best-seller at Barnes & Noble and on Amazon. 

The two-day area Meet and Meditate event begins today from 10:00 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Dayton Natural Path Meditation Center on 3153 Lantz Road in Beavercreek. 

Monday, Pollock fans can attend from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Dayton International Peace Museum on 208 West Monument Avenue. 

Pollock will sign books, answer questions and hold a spiritual meditation. 

To register for the event, click here.

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