This story originally ran in The Cincinnati Enquirer on May 10, 2018
Other than the grounds crew sweeping puddles from the thawing ice, U.S. Bank Arena sat quietly three days after the Cincinnati Cyclones’ first-round playoff exit.
The only noticeable commotion was inside the tunnel to the locker room, where players arrived for their end-of-season exit interviews and exited both the arena and the 2017-18 season with their hockey bags around their shoulder.
Among them was Devante Stephens, a 21-year-old defenseman who just finished his first season of professional hockey and his entry-level contract.
“It was good,” Stephens said April 25 of his rookie year. “It wasn’t what I planned out because I was injured for a lot of it. But when I was playing, it was my first year as a pro and a good development year for me.”
For Stephens, it was a year of movement.
After his exit interview, he had a 2,500-mile, 38-hour drive home to Vancouver, Canada. Throughout the season, constant call-ups to the Rochester Americans in the American Hockey League meant the defensemen often felt like he couldn’t unpack before another call to go play in another city.
“I’m literally a living suitcase,” he said with a smile. (continue reading here)
This story originally ran in The Cincinnati Enquirer on Aug. 24, 2018
Mike Orlando said there were plenty of times when he wondered if it would ever happen.
After all, when he got to Archbishop McNicholas High School, the field was dirt. When the team practiced, he called the field a mud hole. As for the practice field, there were rocks.
But on Friday night, there were no rocks. There was no dirt and no mud hole. Instead, the football field that used to not have stands had packed bleachers, and for the first time in school history, lights illuminated the Penn Station Stadium turf field, where McNicholas lost 21-7 to Goshen to open the new season. (continue reading here)
This story originally ran in The Cincinnati Enquirer on March 3, 2018
Northern Kentucky spent all season preparing for five days.
It was always about March 2-6 in Detroit, when the Norse would play their “best basketball,” win Motor City Madness for a second-straight year and play in the NCAA Tournament again.
Approaching the Horizon League conference tournament, NKU head coach John Brannen said he didn’t want his team to think it could just “flip on the switch” and play great basketball. But then March 2-6 arrived and on March 3, in NKU’s first game, that switch never came on.
NKU lost 89-80 to Cleveland State on Saturday night at Little Caesars Arena in the Motor City Madness quarterfinals. The No. 1 seed after securing their first Horizon League regular season title in program history, the Norse had an early 15-point lead and lost to the No. 8 seed. (continue reading here)
This story originally ran in The Cincinnati Enquirer on July 12, 2018
Ben Rhodes grew up at the Kentucky Speedway.
He drove past it going to go-kart races. He’s raced on it, and when the gate’s unlocked and no one’s watching, he sneaks in to look around and occasionally send selfies.
For Rhodes, a Louisville-native, the track might not be his literal home, but it’s as close as it gets in the racing world. And on Thursday night, Rhodes won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Buckle Up Your Truck 225 at the Kentucky Speedway.
As he crossed the finish line, fans in the bleachers above roared beneath the sound of his engine. The local kid won his second career race, and to this point, his self-proclaimed biggest win yet. (continue reading here)
This story originally ran in The Cincinnati Enquirer on July 30, 2018
His introduction was quiet.
On Friday, he stepped out of the Futbol Club Cincinnati locker room, met his new teammates and took in the atmosphere. The next night, he went unnoticed sitting beneath The Bailey while those teammates signed autographs for hundreds of fans on the field.
Even Monday afternoon, when he was publicly unveiled as an FC Cincinnati player, Fatai Alashe settled for a supporting role in the press conference while Fanendo Adi was unveiled as the club’s first Major League Soccer Designated Player.
Perhaps it’s Alashe’s personality, or perhaps Cincinnati supporters are unaware of the young talent their club just signed. Maybe it’s a mix of both.
Regardless, head coach Alan Koch knows he might have a signing with untapped potential who can provide a foundation for Cincinnati’s looming MLS franchise. (continue reading here)
This story originally ran for The Cincinnati Enquirer on July 7, 2017
If Cincinnati truly is on the forefront of soccer in this country, Futbol Club Cincinnati President and General Manager Jeff Berding wanted to make his message clear:
“There’s no backseat to the boys.”
On Friday morning at Nippert Stadium, Berding announced the reigning FIFA World Cup champion U.S. Women’s National Team will host New Zealand on Sept. 19 at Nippert in a friendly match. This will make the national team’s fourth visit to the city and first since 2008.
“We’ve had the opportunity to put Cincinnati on the national stage,” Berding said. “This is strong proof, soccer, our sport, strives in our city.” (continue reading here)