What a letdown the 2010 season was for Arizona Cardinals fans. Thankfully the lackluster campaign ended Sunday with the Cards’ 38-7 loss to the equally lowly San Francisco 49ers.
It’s tough to pinpoint a single reason for the demise of the Cards, but most certainly Kurt Warner’s decision to retire played a big role in Arizona’s decline.
After cutting loose Warner’s so-called successor, Matt Leinart, at the onset of the season, coaches and Arizona bigwigs couldn’t find a capable replacement in Derek Anderson, John Skelton, Max Hall or Richard Bartel.
The team also failed to sign several other key players, including Karlos Dansby, Anquan Boldin and Antrel Rolle, from the past two season, which also contributed to the dismal campaign.
Then, several players who were counted on to be game changers didn’t produce.
Along the way, there were also some questionable coaching and strategy decisions.
All added up to a putrid 5-11 season that has fans wondering if the team can ever regain the luster it owned during the team’s back-to-back division titles and playoff runs in 2008 and 2009.
The good news for the Cards is the team plays in the NFL’s weakest division (West), where a break-even record can win the division championship and a first round playoff role.
This means, it shouldn’t take many changes for the Cards to once again become a division title contender.
Second guessing is an easy thing to do, but it appears not signing the veterans of two years ago was a mistake.
Maybe letting Leinart go was also a mistake.
In all this one thing is perfectly clear — when the Cards travel to Flagstaff next summer for preseason camp, they must have a better plan than they did this year.
Special Olympics coach Ruby Lane is searching the Rim Country to find unified partners for the Payson SO snowshoeing team.
“Right now, we have only one unified partner and (to compete) we must have two,” Lane said.
Unified Sports involves mixing two Special Olympic athletes with two partners who do not qualify as SO athletes.
With the growing popularity of the program, Special Olympics athletes and their teammates without intellectual disabilities now practice and play together on Unified Sports teams.
SO officials explain the concept as “a moving and exciting initiative for higher ability athletes of all ages, from youth to adults. Mixed teams provide the public direct opportunities to experience firsthand the capabilities and courage of Special Olympics athletes.”
Also on the Special Olympics scene, a frantic call for someone to coach a trio of Payson SO ice skaters has gone out.
The three — Jenna Palandri, Jacquelyn Karrys and Becky Radimaker — have been practicing and competing for the past three years without a coach.
Certainly, that is not an ideal situation.
The lack of a mentor has prompted longtime Gila County Special Olympics coordinator Becky Derwort and Lucy Karrys — Jacquelyn’s mother — to issue an impassioned plea for a volunteer coach.
“We really hope and pray someone will step forward and help us this year,” said Lucy Karrys.
In preparing for state competition, which will be held Feb. 5 in the Valley, the three girls are practicing locally in a dry land training regime on roller blades.
Several times each month the three travel to the Polar Ice Center in Chandler for on-the-ice practice.
Professional coaches in the Valley help with the choreography and each athlete chooses their own music. Often athletes repeat the routine they had the year before to improve it.
At the state competition, the Payson Olympians skate a dance routine to their chosen music and donned in their personal costume.
To volunteer as a Unified Partner or as a coach, call Derwort at (928) 474-9142.
Learning to survive
The next Shoot for the Heart outdoor seminar, set for 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 6 in Building C at Mountain Bible Church, is entitled Cold Weather Survival.
On hand to host will be Barry Jones, a retired manager of the California State Parks Winter Recreation Program.
During his about one-hour presentation, he will give hints and strategies on how to survive outdoors during cold winter months
He will provide checklists on what to carry outdoors, types of clothing, survival techniques, shelters and first aid.
He will highlight how to survive in cold weather while stranded on a highway, on an ATV or snowmobile or while camping. Jones will also detail survival in summer thundershowers and cold lake swimming.
In addition to the presentation, door prizes will be given away.