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K-Wings sign first three players of season

September 3, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Leave a Comment 

Kalamazoo Wings have been clamoring for weeks, wondering when the K-Wings would announce the signings of players for the upcoming season.

The wait is over.

The K-Wings announced the signings of three players, all of whom have previous ties to the team.

Last year’s team captain, Elgin Reid, will be returning for his third season with the team. Reid scored 10 goals and 23 assists last season, ranking second in scoring for defensemen on the K-Wings’ blue line.

“Elgin has been a leader for our team the past two years,” said K-Wings Coach Nick Bootland in a statement released by the team. “He possesses the practice habits that can make the players around him excel.”

Reid was named as last season’s Harold Zeigler Auto Group’s Defenseman of the Year.

Returning for his fifth season as a K-Wing is last year’s assistant captain, defenseman Sam Ftorek.

“He (Ftorek) is the ultimate team-first player, who will do anything to help his team win,” said Bootland. “Sam’s skill set will be a valuable assist on the power-play.”

Ftorek has played in 918 regular season games as a professional, 266 of those as a K-Wing. Ftorek is currently the ECHL’s active leader in games played with 697 and is tied with Wes Goldie for third place in all-time games played in the league.

Last season, Ftorek scored nine goals and 27 assists and was given the Pepsi Sportsmanship Award.

Forward Justin Taylor, who was traded just 11 games into last season, is returning the K-Wings this season.

Taylor, who with the K-Wings and the Idaho Steelheads, reached the conference finals each of the past three seasons.

“Justin brings excitement to our locker room,” said Bootland. “As a younger player, he has leadership qualities and knows how to compete in practice and sticks up for players.”

In Taylor’s first two seasons with the K-Wings, he scored 48 goals and 46 assists and was named as the Rookie of the Year in his first season with the team.

Preseason Games

In preparation for the regular season and to give all players a chance to shine in order to make the team, the K-Wings will play three preseason games.

Training camp will kick off on Oct. 7 and the K-Wings will play their first preseason game on Wednesday, Oct. 9, as the Toledo Walleye make the trip to Wings Stadium.

On Friday, Oct. 11, the K-Wings will host the Fort Wayne Komets in a game that will be held in The Annex as Wings Stadium. The K-Wings will then travel to Toledo to take on the Walleye the following night.

Time flies

September 3, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Leave a Comment 

It is hard to believe that school starts in just a few days.

It seems like just yesterday that students were packing up their desks and saying their goodbyes for the summer.

Being that I was a student teacher when the last school year ended, I realized just how emotional the last day can be for both students and teachers!

Many students were in tears either because they would miss their friends, were moving away or maybe a little scared of leaving the comfort of elementary school.

* And yes, even teachers are known to become a little sentimental at the end of the school year. When you spend that much time with the students, getting to know them, encouraging them and helping them on their path to success, you become attached to them.

But the school bell is about to ring on another new year and that process will begin anew.

It is hard for me to believe that my oldest is moving on to yet another grade. It is even harder for me to believe that this time next year our youngest will be entering kindergarten. Time flies.

My daughter is still at the age where she is excited about going to school, seeing her friends and yes, even learning. It gives us such a great joy to see the dedication she has to learning and trying her best. Sure, there are times when the motivation just isn’t there, but for the most part, she is one eager learner.

Hopefully that is a trait that sticks with her and her sister for the extent of their lifetime.

The community of Three Rivers and the surrounding area lost a great friend with the passing of Bruce Snook. My encounters with Mr. Snook were few, and for that I am sad. But the legacy he left behind is one of extreme and impressive dedication. When a town, such as Three Rivers, loses someone of Mr. Snook’s caliber, you have lost a strong and sturdy pillar of the community. His loyalty to bringing out the best in Three Rivers and its citizens was a sight to behold.

I came to “know” Mr. Snook from hearing his voice on the airwaves during his time at WLKM. I am sure that I can speak for many of us when I say his voice is one that was so well known that any time you heard it, whether on the radio or across the room, it brought a smile to your face.

His loss will be felt for quite a while in Three Rivers, but think of the legacy he left behind. That legacy is something we can all learn and grow from and that is best way we can honor him. I am sure Mr. Snook would be too humble to accept the accolades that will surely be coming his way over the next few days and weeks and he would instead thank the community. For your many years of selfless promotion of the city that you called home, we thank you. You will be missed.

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.

“It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”

— Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Don’t just live life; build one

August 18, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Leave a Comment 

Once in a while, a celebrity can say something that is not only intelligent, but also meaningful. They may even say something transforming, moving or life-changing.

Sadly, it seems that when movie stars, athletes or those “15-minutes of fame” pop culture idols open their mouths that is not what you get. More often than not their words amount to nothing more than a bunch of self-promoting drivel about their new movie or abilities in the world of sports.

As we know, however, our “elite” members of society are not always quite the idols that we place up on that pedestal. All too often we are usually left with a sour taste in our mouth based on what they say or do.

However, we look up to them or want to be like them, just the same.

But once in a while, they surprise us. And that was the case recently with TV and movie star Ashton Kutcher. While accepting an award at the Nickelodeon Teen Choice Awards, Kutcher, who is currently on the CBS comedy “Two and a Half Men,” spoke directly to today’s youth.

His words were pretty impressive and I just hope that the children that were watching really listened to what he had to say.

After saying that his real name is not even Ashton, but actually Chris, he went on to talk about the three amazing things he learned about life when he was Chris. Or in other words, before he became a super star.

1. Opportunity

“I believe that opportunity looks a lot like hard work,” Kutcher stated. Listing off the jobs he held in his life, from working in a deli to sweeping floors in a factory, Kutcher says “I never had a job in my life that I was better than. I was always just lucky to have a job. And every job I had was a stepping stone to my next job. And I never quit my job until I had my next job. And so opportunities look a lot like work.”

2. Being sexy

“The sexiest thing in the entire world is being really smart and being thoughtful and being generous. Everything else is crap, I promise you. It’s just crap that people try to sell to you to make you feel like less. So don’t buy it. Be smart. Be thoughtful. And be generous.”

3. Living life

“Steve Jobs said when you grow up, you tend to get told that the world is the way that it is. And your life is to live your life inside the world. And try not to get into too much trouble, and maybe get an education, and get a job and make some money and have a family. But life can be a lot broader than that when you realize one simple thing. And that is, that everything around us, that we call life, was made up by people who are no smarter than you. And you can build your own things. And you can build your own life that other people can live in. So build a life. Don’t live one. Build one. Find your opportunity and always be sexy.”

The show that Kutcher is on is known to be quite raunchy and often distasteful, and Kutcher, himself, is no angel.

But whether you like him, his acting, movies or TV shows, the message is relevant. Today’s youth, and in some ways all of us, need to hear messages like this, because all too often we are told that we can’t do something. We are told we have to look a certain way or live our lives a certain way because, well, that is just the way it is.

Is that how you build a life? If that was the case, I would have given up my dream of becoming a teacher years ago, because I did not finish college when I was in my early 20’s, as is “customary.” My life and career took a different path, but each stop along the way helped me to get to my eventual goal.

Life should not be defined by a strict set of rules that you feel you have to adhere to because that is just the way it is or based on how you look, but rather what you make of it and yourself.

You are the driver of that car called destiny. If you can believe in yourself, you can do amazing things. That is actually one of the reasons why I have always wanted to become a teacher; because I want to make sure students know this and help cultivate that spirit of enthusiasm about life and their future.

Let’s face it; our future is in the hands of today’s youth. We need to make sure they are on the right path in order to build their life and get out of the shadows of feeling that they cannot succeed for reasons that should not even exist.

Rival player named assistant coach for K-Wings

August 1, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Leave a Comment 

KALAMAZOO — If Kalamazoo Wings fans thought they had seen the last of Fort Wayne Komets player Colin Chaulk, they need to think again.

After spending 10 of his 15 professional seasons with the Komets, where he was a part of six championships, and being a major thorn in the side of the K-Wings for years, Chaulk retired this past April. But that doesn’t mean that fans have seen the last of Chaulk: in fact, they will be seeing much more of him this season.

In a move that caught many by surprise, the K-Wings announced that Chaulk had been hired as head coach Nick Bootland’s assistant for the upcoming season.

During his years as a Komet, Chaulk was a player that fans loved to hate, but he is confident they will warm up to him in his new role.

“They (the fans) can expect someone that’s fair, honorable, loyal and expects hard work (from the players),” Chaulk said. “Whatever needs to be done, it will be done to make sure that all excuses are taken away when the puck drops.”

Discussions with Chaulk actually began last summer but ended before the season started. Once Chaulk announced his retirement, Bootland approached him again.

“Things were cooling off with Fort Wayne and they were deciding to go forward in a different direction, so I decided to go for it,” Chaulk said.

After several meetings and phone calls, Chaulk was sold on the idea. “I guess since early spring we have been communicating back and forth, and every time we talked on the phone, it was a 30-40 minute conversation,” he added.

“The time I spent with Jim (Burlew, General Manager) and Nick was very impressive,” Chaulk said. “Their vision and how they run their business is similar to how I believe things should be done. I feel like we are compatible, and I am excited to get going.”

After being the “face” of the Komets organization for the past 10 years, Chaulk understands why fans there are a bit perplexed by the news, especially with the Komets hiring a new coach in early June.

“It wasn’t like I called the team around the corner to see if they were willing to give me an opportunity,” he said. “They (the Komets) didn’t accept an interview from me,” he said. “I guess my name was in the hat, so to speak, but I don’t think I made the short list.”

Chaulk does not harbor any hard feelings, however, and said that he is not one to look behind; rather, he chooses to push ahead and move on.

“I definitely do not want to be where I am not wanted,” he added.

Bootland and Chaulk have been crossing paths for many years, starting back when both were players in the OHL. Both men played under former K-Wings coach Mark Reeds, and both were named as captains of their respective squads.

Chaulk recalls Bootland, as a player, being “a big horse, a big body” on the ice. “He was an offensive threat who would put the puck in the net, beat the hell out of you, and could block a shot,” Chaulk said with a laugh.

“I remember him being a fierce competitor and the healthy battles we had many times a year,” Chaulk continued. “I am excited and glad to be on his side now.”

Bootland had high praise for Chaulk, as well. “After he (Colin) announced his retirement, we (K-Wings) pursued him for this role because of all the intangibles he brings,” Bootland said in a press release. “Colin has always been a student of the game, which is evident with the accolades he has earned as a top defensive forward many times throughout his career.”

“I’m excited to get to work,” Chaulk said. “I’m excited to be a team member, a helping hand for Nick, and ready to get the team together and start winning some games.”

The process is a roller coaster

July 6, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Leave a Comment 

When I decided to change course in my career and move from the banking and insurance world to that of education, I knew things would not be easy. In addition to going back to school to FINALLY secure my degree in elementary education, I knew the job market was already saturated with prospective teachers. Or in other words, a college education is not a free ticket to securing employment. That is true in the world of education or any other field.

The past two years of taking classes, writing papers, taking tests, over 100 hours of teacher observations, student teaching and making sure I was meeting all of the requirements set by the state and the college, was a job in itself. Especially since the majority of people who enter this profession are doing so at a much younger age.

I guess you could say that I am the Ronald Reagan of up and coming teachers. Reagan, who was nearly 20 years older than his 1984 competitor, Walter Mondale, had this memorable line during a Presidential debate on Oct. 21, 1984; “I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”

As I have said before, however, teaching is something I have always wanted and dreamed of doing, so to me, it has all been worth it, even if I am competing against those who are nearly two decades younger than me. Age is just a number in my opinion, and while those whipper-snappers may have age on their side, I can still battle when it comes to desire and passion!

All kidding aside, the most frustrating part is happening now.
The job search.

Looking for a job is never an enjoyable process. Making sure your resume and cover letter look good, securing references, letters of recommendation and going over potential interview questions in your head over and over is at times more stressful than actually starting a new job.

With a flooded job market, however, you need to be prepared and on top of your game.

The other day I posted a message on my Facebook page asking the following question: “What is more frustrating, interviewing for a job and not getting it or receiving an email saying that they went with another candidate without ever being interviewed?”

I was not asking the question as a way to garner sympathy for my lack of success (so far) in my search for a teaching job. I was merely wondering what others thought.

The majority of people that responded seemed to feel that being sent an email without being interviewed was worse.

I agree.

But I do acknowledge that employers know what they are looking for. When you are receiving hundreds of resumes and applications for one or two jobs, you need to narrow your search. Employers will weed out, for lack of a better word, the applicants whom they feel do not fit the mold they are looking for.

It still stings, though. You want to be able to get that chance to shine, answer the questions and wow them with your charm, intelligence and overall zest for the position you are applying for. When you are not given that chance it can be rather deflating.

I know my time will come, but until then, this process is quite a roller coaster. But it is a ride I chose and I fully believe was the right choice. Good things will come.

As the great Walt Disney once said, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”

And pursuing I am!

Comerica Park reflections

July 3, 2013 by Mark McGlothlen · Leave a Comment 

I have been a Detroit Tigers fan for many, many years. I grew up listening to them and the late, great Ernie Harwell on the radio. I watched them on TV when Al Kaline and George Kell did the play-by-play.

As a child, I would cut out articles and pictures about the Tigers and tape them to my bedroom wall. And every Sunday I would take the sports section from the paper and copy down all of the players’ stats from the past week in my notebook. Yes, I was a big Tigers nerd.

These days I watch them just about every night, whether for a few innings here and there or for an entire game. I love my Tigers. But one thing I have not done as much as I would like is attend games live and in person.

I ventured to Tiger Stadium just three times in my life. My brother Terry and his family took me to my first game in the late 80s, and I went on two bus trips over the next two years.

Even more shocking, especially since it has been over 20 years since those bus trips, is that I have never been to Comerica Park.

A friend and I have been talking about going to a game for the past few years. We agreed that a bus trip would be fun because you are with a group of other die-hard fans, meet new people, and just have a good time without having to worry about the drive and parking.

A few months ago I added our names to a waiting list for a sold-out trip that was being sponsored by a local brewery. I found out this past Wednesday afternoon that we could go, but my friend was unable to get time off work, as the game was the next day. Gotta love the short notice.

My friend Andrew was able to go, so we boarded the bus and headed to the game. I was as giddy as a child at Christmas. I was finally going to see IN PERSON the field where my beloved Tigers play. As we ventured into the park, Andrew joked that I was acting like a tourist: I was looking at everything in amazement, snapping pictures and just taking it all in. For Andrew, this was his third game of the year and one of many in his lifetime. I, however, was in my element.

As I strolled the concourse, I thought of another die-hard Tiger fan, my Grandma McGlothlen, and imagined how much fun the two of us would be having at the ballpark watching our favorite team.

The day was not perfect however. The Tigers lost, there were no home runs, I forgot sun block so my knees are currently on fire, and the trip home was anything but a joy ride.

Weather and other traffic-related issues caused our two-and-a-half-hour trip to extend to nearly four hours. That led to many of the tired and slightly intoxicated passengers (I said this was a trip sponsored by a brewery) entertaining themselves in a slightly annoying way.

What started out as a fun sing-along of 1980’s theme songs turned into a continuous ballad of songs from heavy metal, rock, hip hop, and the like.

Even worse, a few of them actually thought they could carry a tune and enthralled us with Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.”

As I departed the bus, I turned to the driver and said, “This may sound strange, but you look really familiar to me.”

“I thought the same thing about you,” she replied.

After a short Q & A, she informed me that she used to be a security guard at Wings Stadium years ago.

Small world.

All in all, it was a great day. As the theme song from the 80s show “The Facts of Life” goes: “You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both, and there you have the facts of life.”

Although I would do it again in a heartbeat, there is one thing I would change. Prince Fielder, when you can win the game with ONE swing of the bat, please do it. It was rather annoying listening to the two ladies in front of me complain about how much you make and how badly you were playing.

Most athletes are overpaid. Just another fact of life. GO TIGERS!

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