Leading off today:
Medina rising senior Jalin Cooper, one of Section 6's outstanding three-sport athletes, said Wednesday he will continue his football career at the University of Toledo, making him the 13th member of New York's Class of 2018 to make a Division I choice.
Cooper had 11 Division I offers, including Rutgers and Washington State. Cooper was third-team all-state in Class B last season after scoring a team-leading 16 touchdowns and finishing with 1,213 all-purpose yards. He was sixth-team all-state in basketball and competed this month in the state track and field championships, placing in the top five in both Division 2 sprints.
"It was kind of stressful with all these schools contacting me but it was a good stress," Cooper told The Buffalo News. "It's good feeling wanted."
Cooper is not home-grown, and his journey from Chicago to Medina is a scary story of abuse within a dysfunctional and nomadic family. How he survived in a drug and gang culture is likely beyond the grasp of 98 percent of us, and trying to summarize his story here in just a few paragraphs would be futile.
Suffice it to say that being taken in by teacher/coach Eric Hellwig's family after being abandoned by his mother in July 2014 was a huge change for the better.
"I told Jason, if he wants to stay with us for a while, I have no problem with it," Eric Hellwig said.
"I just knew he wanted to be successful. And I truly believe that's why he left his house. Living there, he'd never be able to succeed."
Physically, emotionally and academically, Cooper is maturing in ways unimaginable three years ago, but he acknowledges work remains.
"I'm not done," he said. "I want to work so much more. If I can get a position on a college team, if I'm starting, if I get that position, it's just going to make me want it more."
Non-decision decisions: If you follow the news closely in any other part of the state or merely casually in Western New York, you know that the hearings on the proposed removal of former gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino from Buffalo's school board were Job One at the New York State Education Department in recent days.
While testimony in that controversy was being taken and lawyers sparred, news was being made elsewhere in NYSED in the form of a documents release by the office of Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. As is often the case, rulings on several appeals were released all at the same time, and two in particular caught my eye and led me to rant a bit Tuesday on Twitter.
Given 48 hours to reconsider my position, I'm not inclined to take back anything I said. I think the NYSED folks purposely punted on making decisions, using the "it's a moot point" copout in both instance. In the case of an Orchard Park football player, terming the appeal moot saved Elia from having to admit she erred last fall. In the case of a Walton boy seeking to play field hockey, I think she has handed future litigants a gift.
And various sectional and state officials are left to scratch their heads over how to handle future appeals that land on their desks. They're going to be damned if they do, damned if they don't.
Where to start?
Last September, Elia ruled that fifth-year senior Jacob Kohler could practice and play for the Orchard Park football. Kohler's progress academically and socially had been hindered early in high school by autism, but participating in cross country and then football had been helpful in his maturation.
Still, Section 6 had correctly ruled that he did not meet the criteria required for granting Kohler a fifth year of high school sports eligibility. For whatever reason -- and pressure from elected officials cannot be ruled out -- Kohler gave the go ahead for participation pending her final ruling at a future date.