I am responding to the concern expressed by Heather Carey in her Aug. 29 letter "Kids cut from teams need options."

My wife and I are raising three children who have participated in team sports (football, rugby, wrestling) at the youth, high school and collegiate levels.

I understand Ms. Carey's frustration. Many of the traditional sports teams (e.g., baseball, basketball, softball, soccer) have small rosters and are highly competitive. Many ordinary athletes struggle to make these teams. Good, but not great, athletes often get cut during tryouts.

What can be done? Many high school athletic directors have recognized this problem and have expanded participation opportunities. The athletic director at our high school has recently added water polo and bowling to our school's list of sports.

Every student can benefit from the physical and social development that team sports foster. New England prep schools have long understood this. Most require tudents to participate in a sport in one or more seasons each school year. How do they do this when many sports, like field hockey, traditionally have small rosters? These schools deliberately offer a diverse array of sports including rowing, fencing, skiing and squash that allow for expanded roster sizes.

As the former director of sports camps for Ohio State University, I recognize that many athletes attend summer camps to develop skills and raise their recruiting profiles.

But these sports camps can also offer a young athlete the chance to experiment with a new sport in a low-risk setting. Not all college camps, however, can create this learning environment. Parents and their athlete children must look for camps with patient and good-spirited instructors. These instructors are coaches who understand the power of sport beyond the field.

These coaches measure their legacy in an athlete's developing sense of self-confidence and self-esteem.

So don't give up, parents. Encourage your child to pursue new athletic opportunities that allow then to make the cut and get into the game.

Mark Wilson

New Albany, Ohio

A lesson for us all

in citizenship, civility

Everyone in Fairfield owes a big thank you to Jeanne Harrison for cheering up our roadways by painting so many fire hydrants in town.

When I first noticed one in my neighborhood painted like a smiling little holiday soldier, I wondered who had the caring imagination and had taken the time to do such an anonymous task for all to enjoy.

A few weeks later this spring, I was driving down Bronson Road and saw Jeanne on the roadside showing a couple of neighborhood girls how it was done. I turned around and went back to talk to her as she painted. She asked if I wanted to help paint but, devoid of artistic talent myself, I asked if I could at least chip in to buy the supplies, and she accepted. She asked if I had a business card with me, so I gave her one, we said good day, and I continued on my way. What a wonderful lady I thought, and she's paying it forward by teaching the girls how to be good citizens, too.

A few weeks ago, I received a post card from Jeanne with a smiling hydrant soldier on the front and a note of thanks on the back. As if painting the hydrants weren't enough, sending a written thank you card to a virtual stranger for a minor favor is a real class act, the likes of which has virtually disappeared from today's digitized society. We can all take a lesson in citizenship and civility from Jeanne Harrison. We all thank you!

Scott Tiefenthaler


Did eyesore town project

get full public review?

My neighbors and I feel completely bamboozled by the construction of an unsightly solar-panel canopy currently underway at the Recreation Department parking lot on Mill Plain Road.

This location is directly across from a residential neighborhood, in front of businesses whose signs are now obscured, next to St. Thomas' charming old cemetery and on one of the principal approaches to Fairfield Center.

There must certainly be other, better places to put solar panels, including roofs, that would not also necessitate the added expenditure necessary to construct the 20 or so steel poles there now.

Although this was placed on the RTM agenda in August 2013 and approved the following month, at no time were any of the businesses or neighboring residents ever specifically notified that this location was under consideration. We think it was a procedural misstep not to have our Zoning Commission hear this plan and allow for public comment.

Moreover, I have been unable to find the building or design specifications for this project on the town website, and there is no mention in the September 2013 RTM meeting minutes of any having been reviewed by RTM members.

Ideologically, I have no problem with the idea of a solar energy initiative, and some panels already are installed on the roofs of town-owned buildings, such as the one rented by the Fairfield Theatre Company and some schools.

I'm just heartbroken that no one seems to have considered the negative aesthetic impact a large industrial-looking solar field has at the Mill Plain Road location. I wish more thought had gone into this decision and I hope it's not too late to correct.

Elise McKay