Brian Hoffman column: WORLD CUP FEVER

I like soccer as much as the next guy, but only if the next guy is a football-basketball-baseball junkie like myself.

We’re currently in the middle of the World Cup tournament, and I’m not sure who to root for. Russia is the host team, and I’m not going to root for them. I know it’s popular to love the Russians in some areas of our society these days, but I’m staying out of that.

I’m having a hard time getting too excited about this World Cup without the United States in the tournament. It’s still hard for me to believe a country of our size, with our facilities and resources, can’t make the World Cup field.

Look at some of the countries who did made it. Sweden played South Korea the other day. Sweden is a little, cold country with lots of blonde haired guys who President Trump would like to see immigrate here. Maybe if we start getting more Swedes to come here we can make the field in the World Cup, and I guarantee you we won’t be seeing any little Swedes in tents in Texas.

Then we have South Korea. A couple months ago we were protecting them from Trump’s new little buddy, who has been know to execute folks who don’t fall in line. That might be a way to improve the soccer program, it seems to have worked wonders for the North Koreans.

And here’s a riddle for you. What’s the favorite soda of North Korea? Answer at the end of the column.

Mexico might be good, since they’re our neighbor to the south. Of course, the Mexicans are taking heat for slurs against the Germans in a recent match. And do you think your great-grandfather would have foreseen a day when the Germans were the “object” of slurs? Yes, times certainly change.

Argentina always makes the World Cup. They’re the ones the Mexicans should be insulting. From the shows I watch on the history channel they seem to have more Germans than anywhere except Germany.

Iran made it. If you watch the news, you’d think soccer would be the last thing on their minds.

Senegal is in the field. When I think of Senegal I think of tall basketball players who like to shoot threes, not soccer players.

My point is, some of these are small countries without our resources and populations more like a New England state. We should at least be able to make the field of 32, and if we’re not in the World Cup I don’t have nearly as much interest. Hey, when the Eagles aren’t in the NFL playoffs I’m not as interested. I’ll watch ‘em, but I won’t buy chicken and scream at the TV.

And the answer to the question “what’s the favorite soda of North Korea?” Why, 7-Up of course. It’s the “Un-Cola.”




Curtis Peery, a graduate of Salem High and Roanoke College, has been named athletic director and assistant basketball coach at Massanutten Military Academy in Woodstock, VA.

Peery was a standout forward for Salem, graduating in 2005, then went on to play at RC, graduating in 2009. He’s been an assistant coach at Ferrum College for the past two years, and the two years prior he assisted Page Moir with the Roanoke College program. Prior to that he spent five years as an assistant at Maryland-Eastern Shore with RC all-time great Frankie Allen.

Curtis will assist William Byrd grad Chad Myers with the post-graduate program at Massanutten. Chad has built the team into a national post-grad power in the hills of Virginia. Massanutten was the top-ranked team in the post-grad ranks for part of last season and was the number two seed in the end of season tournament before being upset in the round of eight.

“It’s like a college program,” said Peery. “I’ll be recruiting, scouting, working with the ‘bigs’ in practice and involved in player development.”

As athletic director Curtis is also in charge of scheduling all sports at Massanutten, and the school fields a full slate of both men’s and women’s teams. In fact, as a military school it has teams most schools don’t have, like a rifle team and a drill team.

“I’m excited to have this opportunity,” said Peery, who officially started last week. “We have some really good basketball players coming in. Most of them can play at the Division I level but don’t qualify academically and have to go to a prep school.”

Frank Mason III, a former NCAA Player of the Year at Kansas, is a Massanutten graduate who is now a member of the Sacramento Kings. Mason will return to MMA for an Alumni Game on this Saturday, June 23, at 5 PM. Frank is originally from Petersburg, Virginia and played a year of Post-Graduate basketball  at Massanutten Military Academy during the 2012-13 basketball season.




Salem’s Jake Bowery has been added to the roster of the University of Pittsburgh swim team.

Bowery graduated from Salem High last week and had previously announced his intentions to swim for the Panthers. He’s one of 12 roster additions for the upcoming 2018-19 season, including transfers from Arizona and Indiana as well as 10 freshmen.

“You want to add quality athletes with each recruiting class, but to be able to do it with the numbers that we did this year is very exciting,” said Pitt head coach John Hargis. “We believe that each of these kids has the potential to leave Pitt as an accomplished student and a phenomenal athlete. As a coaching staff, we’re looking forward to training with this group in the future.”

Bowery is a three-time Virginia 4A Championships qualifier in various freestyle events, highlighted by his fifth-place finish in the 100-yard freestyle in 2017. The versatile Spartan swimmer is capable of swimming freestyle events all the way up to the mile, which he recently swam at the 2018 Virginia Senior Championships.

“I chose Pitt for the countless opportunities in and out of the pool,” Bowery said. “Between the stellar academics and strong swimming program, Pitt is the place I see myself growing.

“It’s so exciting to swim in the ACC and at a great university like PITT. I’m interested in medicine, and PITT has one of the best pre-med programs in the country. I’m so fortunate to have had great coaches at Salem High School, as well as my Virginia Gator travel coach, Doug Fonder.”

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