It's time to unload Ol' Santa's Sack
Well, it's almost that time to say goodbye to 2011 and usher in 2012, but before I do that, Good Ol' Santa has decided to make his usual stop here at THE TIMES NEWS Sports Department to find out who's been naughty or nice since he stopped here last time around.
It's been one heck of a ride since last Christmas.....coaches have come and gone, school districts are feeling the budget crunch thanks to some of the moves by the higher ups in Harrisburg, we've lost colleagues and friends that remind us that there are more important things in life than playing sports every day or counting wins and losses like they meant more than waking up every morning and seeing the sun shine.
It's the Christmas season, and Santa has put together a list for those he thinks deserves a special thanks for keeping their teams on the right track and for those who have helped us in a positive way this past year in no special order:
KEN PIONTKOWSKI - Two hundred more wins as head boys basketball coach at Pleasant Valley after hitting the milestone this season.
DOC FALLABEL - A return to the PIAA State Volleyball Championships with a fine group of players returning next season.
CHRIS DEUTSCH - A couple of more big wins in the Colonial League so his Northwestern girls can make the girls basketball playoffs again.
MARK ROSENBERGER - A chance to finally see his Jim Thorpe football team play a home game on its newly, renovated field next fall.
MICK STEFANEK - An injury-free rest of the season so his first year at the helm of the Palmerton boys basketball program can be a successful one.
KYLE SPOTTS - All of the past records of Lehighton High School sports team so he can keep track of the Indians results and individual accomplishments as the school's new athletic director.
EMMETT McCALL - Since he's a Phillies fan and he's never been there, a trip to finally see a game at Citizen's Bank Park.
CASZY KOSCIOLEK - Some quick growing up by his youthful Tamaqua boys basketball team since it's been a long time that the Blue Raiders have tasted a winning season.
JOE TOUT - Another group of underclassmen to fill the holes like his Northern Lehigh seniors did this past fall after losing so many skilled football players from the 2010 championship team.
RICH OERTNER - The same success he had while coaching at Northern Lehigh as he tries to rebuild the boys basketball program at Lehighton.
SHAWN McFARLAND - A luncheon date with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones so he can tell him how he really feels about Jason Garrett and how he's running the former "America's Team".
LON HAZLET - A good off-season in the weight room and summer workouts so his Panther Valley football team can pull out some fourth quarter wins next fall.
JIM MOLL - A couple more wrestlers so his Northwestern Lehigh matmen can have a full lineup and be able to compete with the big boys again.
JIM TERWILLIGER - A chance to groom a young quarterback to be just like he was in his high school and college playing days to guide the Pleasant Valley Bears next fall.
STAN DAKOSTY - Seeing his Marian football team return to the post-season.
ROD HECKMAN - Center ice tickets to see the Flyers and Rangers battle it out in the Winter Classic at Citizen's Bank Park.
CHRIS WALKOWIAK - Some offensive fireworks and a renovated football stadium that will hopefully be decent enough to watch his Palmerton football team play in next fall.
BRIAN POLAHA - A trip back to the District 11 baseball championships and to states like the Lehighton baseball team did in his first season as coach two years ago.
SAM BONNER - Another shot at a post-season gold medal that eluded his Tamaqua High football team this past year.
JESSICA FREW - Wins over both Southern Lehigh and Moravian Academy in Colonial League and District 11 field hockey playoffs for her Northern Lehigh field hockey team next season.
BRAD HURLEY - A Triple-A membership or a Mercedes-Benz since he has more car problems than Jeff Gordon, Jimmy Johnson or Tony Stewart do on a Sunday afternoon.
NADIA GAURONSKY - Another MVC girls basketball championship for her Pleasant Valley Lady Bears.
PAT CRAMPSIE - A .500 or better record for his Panther Valley boys basketball team so it can make the District 11 playoffs this year.
JASON ZIMMERMAN - A C.C. Sabathia workout digest.
T.J. ENGLE - A Palmerton Flag Football No. 1 foam finger.
PAUL BRUTTO - A couple of Erin Bradys and Rachel Connelys so his Marian Fillies can make another state title run.
RON RABENOLD - A few more cross country runners so the Lehighton boys and girls teams can compete with the rest of the MVC next fall.
DAVE LAVIN - A shot at the District 11 AA Team Championship and to see his Palmerton wrestling program saved from budget cuts for another year.
JAKE PERCEY - A baseball coach to continue Pleasant Valley's long standing run of competing in the District 11 tournament.
JOE BEREZWICK - A post-New Year's run so the Tamaqua Lady Raiders can finish in the top echelon of the Schuylkill League in girls basketball again.
BOB FORD - A return of "MeatFest" in 2012 and a year's supply of his favorite beverage.
ANDREW REMSIG - A longer stint as Palmerton AD than the last five people that have held the position have had.
ANDY STEINMETZ - His own computer so he has an easier time banging out his stories after covering events for us.
And to MIKE HAINES, LOU RUSNOCK, SCOTT PAGEL, PETE CAR, JASON BORIS, NANCY SCHOLZ, RON GOWER, BOB URBAN, DENNY McLAUGHLIN, BILL O'GUREK, FRED JAMES, JIM ZBICK, AMY MILLER, KAREN CIMMS, CHRIS PARKER, GAIL MAHOLICK, TERRY AHNER, LINDA KOEHLER, KATHY KUNKEL, ANDY LEIBENGUTH, DONNIE SERFASS, DONNA PLASKO, PAUL McARDLE, BRIAN CARROLL, ROB KOVACS, DREW BENYO, DUSTIN McANDREW, KRISTEN BLACK, JOSH WANK, NANCY FILER, TIM ROBB, ANTHONY DIXON, DAVE YOB, CHRIS PACHUTA, CLEM McCARROLL, RICH EMMERT, ANGELA LOBIEN, TJ O'CONNOR, JOHN GESISKIE, STACY SETLOCK, RON CANN, JIM HAUZE, MATT FISHER, LEN BRYLEWSKI, JUSTIN SMITH, STEVE KRECHEL, JOSHUA SHILKO, MIKE HROMYAK, DAVE OERTNER, CHRIS STITZEL, JEFF MINNICH, GEORGE FIAR, TOM KANGER, JEREMY DORMER, NORB LEINHARD, MARK ALLISON, JEN YELITO, BRIAN GEIST, JOHN PATTON, JEFF MILLER, RAY BRESSI, PAUL HADZICK, DON DELICH, TODD HERZOG, SHAWN ALBERT, GARY HEYDT, JEFF NIETZ, ERV PRUTZMAN, JIM TKACH, LEN SMITH, TOM SMELAS, JOHN COOPER, JEFF READING, BERNICE BOTT, TODD WEAVER, JOE DEANGELO, JEN HORNER, GLENN REIMER, JAMES GILBERT, STEVE CAFFREY, JILL BARRON, DAVE SHERRY, KELLY BLEAM, BARRY HAHN, TIM HINTON, FRANK MILLER, JACOB MARUSHAK, JOHN BOYLE, MIKE LEHTONEN, BRIAN XANDER, DAVE KERSCHNER, MIKE GOMBERT, MARK KEIP, FRANCI O'GORMAN, MIKE WERTMAN, JACK AND NATALIE KMETZ, BOB PARFITT, RICH GEORGE, DAVE SMITH, MARK SHANTON and to anyone I might have accidently missed, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year!!!!