ITHACA, NY -- This is one of those summer smorgasbord columns that will provide some updates on some athletes recently featured, but first, I want to write about a young man whose passing last week hurt my heart more than anything has in a long time.  His parents are former colleagues and longtime friends, and Jared Brooks brought a unique, unmistakable and undeniable energy to everything he did, from running down a soccer ball to traveling the world. 

The local soccer community lost a beloved member last week when Jared passed away at age 23. Fellow soccer player and TC3 soccer alum Colton Wigsten called Jared “a scrapper who just never quit running.” I wrote a story about Jared for this column in 2016. He was also featured on the cover of this paper in 2015, and in the words of his longtime coach Lamar Peters, “In that cover photo, Jared was running like a kid that had somewhere to go.” 

Lamar, who is now the head of the local soccer club — Waza FC —was kind enough to take the time to talk about Jared's impact on the soccer community. “Whatever team he played for — the high school team, the club team — he was the energy guy,” Peters offered. “If he was having a good day, it was a party for everybody, and on his best day he was the best. He was just a dynamite kid.”  

“I started coaching Jared when he was about 13, up until last Sunday,” Lamar added. “I watched Jared and his crew do all that wonderful stuff at Ithaca High (two straight STAC and Sectional titles and one of the elite teams in the state), and he was a huge part of that group's success.”  

Lamar conveyed how much he loves Jared's parents, John and Aj, and his sister, Marley.  “Theirs is a wonderful family,” he stated, “and it has been a great honor to be not only Jared's coach and friend, but his mentor as well.  He was the kid I most identified with, I really 'got' his energy.  Man... that kid was walking fire.”  


Now a couple of updates... When triathlete Taylor Knibb joined Kyle Dake on the “Cornell Alumni on the 2021 U.S. Olympic Team” list, I mentioned that we would keep our eye on hammer thrower Rudy Winkler.  Winkler, an All-American at Cornell (class of '16), represented the U.S.A. at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, and he was gearing up to try to qualify again.  

Now, I am not much of a physics guy, but when I watched the video of Winkler's throw at the Trials, I was dumbfounded that a human being could pick up a 16-pound ball (the same weight as a heavy bowling ball) attached to a four-foot wire, spin three times in a small circle and generate enough force to throw the implement 271-feet, 4 inches.  For those as math-challenged as I am physics-challenged, that is 29 feet short of the length of a football field. Winkler's throw shattered the American record, and would have won Gold in six of the last seven Olympics. The feat is easily viewed on YouTube, and I highly recommend checking it out.  Congratulations Rudy, and good luck in Tokyo. 


Another update on a recently-featured local athlete... It may appear that I spend too much time watching YouTube, but I have watched — and advocated that all baseball fans watch — the dozen or so clips featuring Ithaca College graduate Tim Locastro's impressive performances as a Major League Baseball player. Widely regarded as the game's fastest man, Locastro's name has showed up in the same sentence as MLB legends like Tim Raines ( Locastro broke Raines' record by successfully clinching the first 28 base stealing attempts of his MLB career), and the fans of the Arizona Diamondbacks loved Locastro's raw speed and obvious love for the game.   

We all know how much fan loyalty means to baseball executives, and when the New York Yankees took the field last weekend, their lineup read, “Batting ninth, starting in leftfield, Tim Locastro.”  That's right, the Auburn native and former I.C. Bomber is now a Bronx Bomber. Good luck, Tim.  I plan to get to a game this season, and I can't wait to see you in pinstripes.

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