Perhaps the next time MAACO Bowl Las Vegas executive director Tina Kunzer-Murphy extends an invitation to new UNLV football coach Bobby Hauck it will be for something a little different.
But their first collaborative effort wasn’t a bad way to begin a relationship, based on the smiling faces of roughly 500 football players ages 8 to 14 who attended a free football clinic at Rebel Park on Friday through the auspices of the NCAA Football Youth Initiative.
The coolest thing about the clinic, other than the Gatorade, the sideline water machine that Kunzer-Murphy couldn’t quite get to work and the smiles on those youthful faces was that a lot of them come from backgrounds where the normal cost of such a camp would preclude them from attending.
Kunzer-Murphy said an NCAA representative told her the clinic was “one of the best” of the 20-such events it sponsors. And I’ll bet she doesn’t say that about Pete Carroll.
Indeed, without the participation of Hauck and his players, it might have been like Bill Murray serving “Meatballs” to Chris Makepeace at Camp North Star in the movies, only with Brian Doyle-Murray starring instead of his kid brother Bill.
“Two minutes,” Hauck said when asked how long it took to commit when Kunzer-Murphy approached. “But I wanted to do it at a time when we could get our players involved, because it’s a great thing for them.”
Mark Gianopoulos, the gung-ho chief of the Southern Nevada Youth Sports Association who before that was a gung-ho Merchant Marine and before that a gung-ho employee of Exxon — before the oil spill, he says — was responsible for about 200 of the football neophytes. Roughly 70 percent of those, he said, come from modest backgrounds.
“Bobby Hauck deserves serious accolades for doing this,” Gianopoulos said. “And it looks like he’s enjoying himself, too. What he has done is brought Texas-style football to Las Vegas.”
If Gianopoulos’ name sounds familiar, it might be because he was the one who chased 17-year-old Pat Lizotte down the halls at Valley High School in 1982, after Lizotte shot Clarence Piggott, the school’s psychology teacher, through the heart.
So if he wants to say that Bobby Hauck is bringing Texas-style football to Las Vegas, he’s entitled.
■ Red Rock Little League: For being named national winner of Little League Baseball’s 2010 ASAP (A Safety Awareness Program) Award, for which it will receive a trip for two to the Little League World Series, $500 and Musco lighting for one of its fields. Little League Baseball reports the ASAP program combined with the lifetime ban of Bad New Bears skipper Morris Buttermaker have resulted in on-field injuries being reduced by 75 percent.
■ Fifty-Niners: When Stuart Appleby shot 59 last week to win the Greenbriar Classic, it rekindled a memory of one of the other four PGA Tour 59s ever recorded, by Chip Beck at old Sunrise Country Club during the third round of the 1991 Las Vegas Invitational. I covered that year’s LVI but didn’t see Beck’s 59 — probably because I was watching somebody more famous, like Greg Norman, shoot 77.
■ Caps bursting in air: During the “bombs bursting in air” part of the national anthem before Thursday’s 51s-Memphis game, the 51s’ bullpen lobbed their caps skyward, as if to simulate the effect. While I am not sure this is exactly what Francis Scott Key envisioned from the deck of the HMS Tonnant, it eliminated the need for fancy scoreboard graphics.
■ International Development Management: The developer that had “planned” to build the Fabulous Wet ’n’ Wild Slip ‘n’ Slide Spectrum near Sahara Avenue and the Las Vegas Strip has withdrawn its application for now. Somewhere, another boy cried wolf. But it’s getting so that you can barely hear him.
■ Heluva statistic: Las Vegan Kurt Busch will make his 350th Sprint Cup Series start at today’s Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen, which only goes to show that time flies when you are driving around in circles. And that NASCAR has plum run out of good names for its races.
■ Naked hot dogs: The only condiment stand I could find at Cashman Field on Thursday was behind home plate — and it didn’t have onions and relish. First J.P. Arencibia gets called up (two-run homer on the first pitch he saw in the bigs on Saturday), now this. I swear to Tony La Russa that if they start serving mustard in those messy little packets instead of the big vat with the pump on top, somebody’s goin’ down.
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at email@example.com or 702-383-0352.