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Offbeat game preview

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by LemMan, Jun 9, 2006.

  1. LemMan

    LemMan Member

    Hey folks...

    This one of about three preview stories which ran before one of our football teams hosted a state semifinal.

    Do Debbie Crowe a favor. Don't read this story. OK.
    You can read it. But realize
    something: Crowe is not the biggest, most loyal or
    most enduring fan pulling for
    Manatee High football. Understand people have been
    going to games longer than
    Crowe has lived in Bradenton. And keep in mind Crowe
    and her husband, Bob, may
    own The Shake Pit. But it belongs to the people who
    frequent it.

    "I'm just the keeper of the Pit," Crowe said Tuesday
    afternoon as her
    burger-and-shake shop began to feel the push of the
    lunch rush.

    The Pit is the keeper of the buzz. The small shack
    located at 3801 Manatee Ave.
    W. is a hub for everything Hurricane, from its
    employees (Manatee linebackers
    Josh McCoy and Ray Morris) to the two giant Hurricane
    throws hanging in the
    restaurant's cozy dining area.

    While other eateries may use a marquee to trumpet new
    menu items or
    two-for-one burger specials, Crowe's doubles as a
    Greek chorus of sorts. Anyone
    wondering how Manatee's football team fared on a
    Friday night needs to glance at
    The Shake Pit's sign, which read "Canes Win, Feathers
    Flew, Now Off To Round 2"
    after Manatee knocked off the Cape Coral Seahawks in
    the opening round of this
    year's Class 5A playoffs.

    The Canes, who host Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aqunias
    in a state semifinal
    game at 7:30 p.m. Friday, are back in the final four
    for the first time since 1994,
    and the hype around the Pit is almost as palpable as
    the scent of burgers wafting
    from the grill. Newspaper clippings and other
    Hurricane trinkets hang from the
    shop's walls, and Crowe's cramped office is one part
    business, replete with fliers
    detailing child-labor laws and safe working
    conditions, and one part museum --- a
    jacket worn by a member of Manatee's '92 state
    championship team is on display
    near the door.

    It was a gift from a customer.

    "He saw the stuff in here, and he brought it in," said
    Crowe, who grew up in Moon,
    Pa., and has owned The Shake Pit for five years. "I
    told him, and I tell them all, 'It
    stays with (The) Shake Pit forever.' "

    Manatee's success this fall is a new experience for
    Crowe, who didn't own the Pit
    when the Canes won four state titles from 1983-92. But
    for the Manatee
    die-hards, it's a throwback to a time when playing
    football deep into November was
    expected. The Shake Pit is just one example of this
    fall's hysteria, which began to
    brew when head coach Joe Kinnan came out of

    "The community, at large now, is excited," said Gene
    Brown, president of the
    Manatee High Football Booster Club. "Sometimes, you
    have to have something to
    set you back to then go forward again. It wasn't a
    setback --- it was Joe retiring.

    "(It still would have been exciting) if another coach
    had come in and done this, and
    we were in the semifinal. But you still have that
    chemistry that Joe always has."

    Crowe has done her part to add some spice. She brought
    rocking ponies into
    Manatee's locker room when the Hurricanes played
    Lakewood Ranch, and supplied
    an inflatable whale --- "Shamu" --- for their game
    against the Punta Gorda
    Charlotte Tarpons. Yet Crowe is thoughtful in her
    revelry. In light of this season's
    battering batch of storms, she has dropped any mention
    of the word "hurricane"
    and has decided to base her ideas around candy canes.
    Any Shake Pit employees
    enrolled in other area schools are free to wear their
    school colors every Friday ---
    "Spirit Day" --- and Crowe, whose daughter is a
    junior-varsity cheerleader, lets her
    staff have Fridays off. Consequently, she has never
    seen a Manatee football game
    played to completion. Instead, she listens on the
    radio and stands in a doorway
    that Crowe refers to as a "lucky horse shoe."

    "It's cool what she's doing," said Shake Pit employee
    Bobby Santiago, a Bayshore
    graduate who has started to warm to Manatee football.
    "These kids are really
    good. And they don't have any real stars --- it's the
    whole team."

    Crowe shares a similar sentiment about rooting for the
    Canes. This isn't about
    her. It's about the kids who work hard and the fans
    who loyalty support them. It's
    about the alumni, some of whom will return to Joe
    Kinnan Field at Hawkins Stadium
    for a 6 p.m. pre-game cookout Friday, and the guys who
    broadcast every game on
    the radio.

    "Everybody in this community is for the kids," Crowe
    said. "And that's what we as
    adults are meant to do."
  2. LemMan

    LemMan Member

    I'm open to any comments/critiques anyone has.
  3. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

  4. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest


    See edit above.

    I remember this restaurant from your other story. Good idea to base a feature there. I think in the main, it's fine. Where I've questioned word choices, I'm concerned either about precision (words that don't mean exactly what you need them to mean); words that call uneccessary attention to themselves; or words that weaken a sentence rather than strengthen it.

    Also, a couple of compound/complex sentences that are sort of overstuffed. Too much information in too many clauses. Break them up into shorter sentences. It helps with both meaning and meter.

    And while I understand that Booster Lady calls them the Canes, I'd think your paper's style is 'Canes.

    I'd also like to see a (brief) description of her, and of the restaurant.

    Thanks for posting.
  5. flaming_mo

    flaming_mo Guest

    I stopped after the second sentence. I have too much respect for Debbie Crowe to do otherwise.

  6. pallister

    pallister Guest

    Style is Canes.
  7. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    Then I stand corrected. Thanks.
  8. LemMan

    LemMan Member

    Thaks jg. Good points.

    And Mo, Debbie Crowe thanks you

  9. Dale Cooper

    Dale Cooper Member

    More generally -- this is the type of story that every game preview, particularly high school, should be. No one needs an X's and O's preview of what each team has -- there are capsules for that. A job well done. I'm inspired, and all beat writers should take note.
  10. LemMan

    LemMan Member

    Thanks, Coop.
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