By TJ ENGLE
I'm not the best person when it comes to remembering things, especially when it has to do with events that happened years ago.
But, over the last two weeks, the past has caught up with me a bit when I ran into some familiar faces.
When I was covering Northern Lehigh baseball during its run in the Colonial League and District 11 playoffs, I began to reminisce about the times when the Bulldog players were only young 'pups' playing Little League Baseball.
However, when I first covered Northern Lehigh this year against Palmerton in April, I started to recognize some of the names in coach Erv Prutzman's lineup.
Names like Matt Gill, Jake Kern, Tyler and Dylan Bolton, Eric Snyder, Chad Mazepa, Trevor Yashur, Joe Seremula and Marcus Kremposky, just to name a few, sent me back to the days when I was writing for a weekly paper in the Lehigh Valley.
More memories came back when I was at the Bulldogs' Colonial League semifinal game against Pen Argyl at Limeport. There I recognized some of the coaches like John Bolton and Chuck Wasilkowski, who I had talked to when I covered games in the Northern Lehigh Surburban League seven years ago.
But, it really didn't sink in though until I crossed paths with Steve Kern in the high school parking lot after Northern Lehigh's 2-1 victory over Minersville in the district quarterfinals.
I quickly traveled back nearly a decade, to a time where this year's 2010 Colonial League champion varsity players were perfecting their games on various little league teams in the NL Surburban League.
Gill, Kern, Mazepa, the Bolton boys and Nick Heyer were members of the Legion-Moose team; Snyder, Yashur and Kyle Wasilkowski, played on the Walnutport team; Joe Dugan, Seremula, Andy Hoch and Kremposky all played for Slatedale; Zack Palasky took the field for Skeet Club; Kirk Bender played for Emerald; Joel Seyler was with Friedens.
"It's nice to see all of the kids out on the field that we coached and brought up through the system," said Kern. "When they were younger, and littler, you could tell they had the drive to play baseball. They just had the competitiveness. They just wanted to play baseball. It was hard to get them off the field. In fact, they just loved to practice and play.
"And, it's neat to see now that they're on the varsity level and they're still out there playing the game. It just followed with them their intensity, competitiveness and love for the game. That's whether they're on or off the field."
It goes to say that it's amazing how you're able to watch these young 8- and 9-year-old Little League players or any other baseball players from the TIMES NEWS area grow into 15- and 16-year-old young adults, who definitely love "America's favorite past-time" and have given it their all out on the field since they were young children.
Kern doesn't believe these Bulldogs have their heart set on just the collection of accolades they have achieved already. They want more.
"I'm just so proud of them," Kern added. "They got their whole lives ahead of them and it's going to carry through even to next year. They're going to have a great team again. They'll still have the competitiveness and the drive to get there again.
"It's hard to hold these guys back. They're a great team. As Coach Prutzman said before, 'You have people who want to play baseball and you got players.' And, these guys are players. They play baseball. They know the game inside and out. And, they do very well at it too. They represent the area from where they came from very well."
But, as I finish, it's just an amazing feeling how memories can last a lifetime. And, they could be triggered when you're least expecting them to be.