Bob Ryan passed away last week at the age of 94. He was not related to me but we were good friends. I first met him back in the 60’s when he coached the Rome Free Academy junior varsity boys basketball team for Lew Bennett. He knew the game and his players loved him. He coached some of RFA’s all-time great basketball stars like Mike Davis, Harry McQuire, Tracey Stubbs, Pete Yousey and Dennis Skibitski.
He became part of Tom Hoke’s legendary football staff in the 70s, 80s and 90s. He was the defensive back coach and together with Don Bruce, and Tom Myslinski they formed the greatest coaching staff in Rome pigskin history.
I use to sit with him at Smith Post baseball games back in the 90’s watching his grandson Kevin Colmey pitch. His buttons were bursting every time Kevin pitched Smith to another victory.
I actually had breakfast with him and Frank Didio at the Iron Kettle for many years. He loved talking about coach Hoke and the RFA football team.
I also served on the Rome Sports Hall of Fame selection committee with him and he knew his Rome sports. Our city has suffered a great loss with the death of coach Bob Ryan. May he rest in peace.
Debbie Puffer passed away last week from brain cancer. Her husband Mark and daughter LeRyiah have been taking care of her for many years since her diagnosis. She was part of a Duke University study were they inject her brain with the polio virus. 60 minutes did a segment on her on their Sunday night show and it gave her five more years to live. She was one of Rome Catholic’s most beautiful moms back in the 90’s and her daughter LeRyiah who graduated in 1999 was just as good looking as mom.
Debbie fought for her life and for many years as she traveled back and forth to Duke for more treatment. She was a testament of courage and fought the good fight. She is in heaven now and her suffering is over. She is what our city of Rome is all about and she will be missed by so many.
The RFA girls lacrosse team beat Whitesboro last week 11-7. The Black Knights are still undefeated with a 3-0 record. Kaitlyn Salce scored six goals for the Black Knights while Callie Ott stopped three shot attempts in goal. Head coach Doug Rowe is doing an outstanding job.
Pick of the week: Rory Mcllroy to win the Masters this weekend. I am also rooting for Phil and Tiger just like the old days.
Geek of the week: My New York Giants. They just signed Sterling Shepard for $41 million. Can this very average receiver be worth this much money? He scored four touchdowns last year so that comes to rewarding him 10 million a touchdown. Go figure!
Rome Sports Nickname: John Sanborn “Chief.” He was a 6-foot-6 center for coach Jim Kenny’s Rome Catholic High team back in 1996. His team went 23-1 and holds the city record for most basketball victories in a season.