Orillia River Sharks

                            RiverSharks are a blend of Veteran
Talent & Leadership

     There’s something a bit odd about singing “Happy Birthday”
to a newborn, yet the greeting “Happy Birthday” actually only
fits the occasion on the very day that baby comes into the world!
The other “birthdays” are really anniversaries of the Birthday
itself. With that said, Happy Birthday came for the Orillia Quaker
Riversharks just a couple of weeks ago as the Executive Committee
of the ISC gave a resounding approval to  the Sharks’ Charter,
declaring them Compliant, Reliant, and all together Sound, Serious,
and ready to battle their opponents for the 2006 season…

      So without putting it off any longer, let’s give you the
info on the team, its leadership, players, its schedule and maybe
some insight into the way the Sharks will attack the sport this
year! I know, you all think you have heard it already, yet not
one of you is certain you can rely on what you have heard, unless
you are either one of us, or getting it from us through this
official channel.

     So let’s start with answering a question…..Just What the
heck is a Rivershark?  It is an oxymoron, that’s what it is.

       If you were expecting a physical description, start with
pitching. Frank Cox, Robbie O’Brien and Mike White, that’s right
Michael White, The (Gulp) “Great White” will comprise our pitching
staff. That’s right, nobody has beaten me to the “Great White”
Pun.  When you think of it, why did it take so long for that
comparison to come up?  If anyone has left opposing teams in
a pool of blood throughout his career, Michael defines the term,

     That leaves Frank Cox as the “Bull Shark.” The bull shark,
incidentally, has recorded the highest accumulations for documented
“Hits” or Physical attacks on Humans. Kinda makes a batter think
a bit when he steps in the box against Frankie and his half-smirk,
half grimace.

     That means we can turn to Robbie O’Brien as the “Hammerhead.”
 A hammerhead Shark has those two ends of the hammer, a dual
threat. In this case Robbie represents a double threat to his
opponents both hitting as DH and throwing, as in “Against you!!!”
No other pitchers of the two aforementioned will step in to hit
this year.

     Speaking of “Pitchers who can hit” along with superior athletes,
probably one of the biggest eye openers I ever experienced, was
seeing Andy Jackson crush Homer after home run with the Windmillers
in 1999 and 2002 against me with the Smokers, and never had I
even suspected he was that good a stick when he played for me
in the 90’s in spite of his willingness to step in. It is with
great pride, I am reunited with a heck of a player, a whale of
a hitter and a tough pitcher who will take the ball when asked
and never hesitates. Since Andy sports gold locks, I guess that
makes him the “Lemon Shark.”

     Ok, time to change gears. The man who gave the team its
name, serves as our President, shapes policy with the rest of
the board, and contributes in all facets of softball matters,
is none other than Bob Nydick, the respected Prof at Villanova
U. Bob took the leadership bull by the horns in sorting out a
lot of crucial matters in travel league, Exec Committee dealings
and more. I personally find him affable, always enthusiastic,
loyal to players who have performed for him, and much much more.
Since Bob is from inland Pennsylvania, call him the “Land Shark.”
If any of you remember Saturday Night Live during Dan Aykroyd
and Chevy Chase’s tenure. That routine ranks as an all time favorite
and therefore is justly admitted to the many species of sharks.

     Our vice president is someone who needs no introduction,
and don’t worry, I would be proud to go hunting with him, unlike
some other VP’s I have been reading about. Paul Barneston, able
leader and independent icon of the sport since 2001, save for
the fact he is now affiliated with us, serves on our board and
will be the promotional arm north of the US/Canadian border as
a practical matter. I write semi-entertaining rundowns on our
team, its people and try to put an interesting twist on the season,
but if anyone is a seasoned promoter, it is Paul. He runs the
record setting Casino-Rama tourney, which raised the bar years
ago for the entire sport with award money, quality facility,
talent of the competitive field, and more than I dare say, lest
I get some other fine tourney promoters jealous. We are so proud
to have Paul. He will lead and be a tremendous resource both.
Call him the “Blue Shark” Orillia’s Blue Water Lake makes Orillia
the most physically serene and naturally beautiful venue the
sport will see all year.

     Then there is the “Tiger Shark!” Denny Bruckert is our Field
Manager, Board Member and a strong hand in leadership. Denny
is involved in all player transactions, makes the decisions on
the playing field, as such, he is far from a shrinking violet.
Still tenacious, after having won more National Titles and World
Titles than any of his contemporary managers in the last two
decades, his record speaks for itself. Denny has announced open
competition across the board for all positions, yet notes this
competition will be mostly manifested by surprises at some positions,
excepting pitcher. “We are set there with whom we have,…” says

     Assisting Denny will be Julian Fernandez, late of a Pennsylvania
team, coaching first, and also catching in an ad hoc role. That
makes Julian the “Sand Tiger Shark” of the coaching staff. Julian
is a quiet yet influential force on this team. A man of few words,
yet much a team mate and one of the guys, Julian brings excitement
and a relaxed look to this sport. You can’t miss his smile and
eager eyes, when you see him competing from the coaches box,
behind the dish, talking with one of his pitchers, or the guy
next to him on the bench in the dugout.

     Call him the “Chameleon Shark,” Lee Jacques will contribute
to the coaching staff as an assistant to Denny, but Lee turns
into the skipper on the field when we compete in the Travel League
for weekday games and selected weekend head to head matches.
Lee’s careful eye, steady leadership and coaching experiences,
renders the Sharks ever ready for a feeding frenzy on  opposing
     We now turn our attention to the players that have been
assembled. As mentioned above, there are no starters on this
team as we expect to use a rotation that will provide an opportunity
for all players to earn playing time.

     Our Catching position is one of the deeper positions we
boast on our team, with DeWayne McKenzie, a veteran receiver
with all the polish that goes with a contending team’s roster
of battery mates. I confess to not knowing DeWayne very well,
but from what I have heard, you won’t be able to shut me up bragging
about him, once I get to know him better.

     Speaking of behind the dish, if there was even a man who
keeps you on your toes mentally, yearning for his companionship
whether in the dugout or on the field, it is Sean O’Brien, one
of the best catchers this sport has seen in the past decade,
and maybe the best handler of pitchers since the immortal Tim
Wahl hung the cletes up as a Smoker after the 2002 season.

     Speaking of retirement, it is no small statement to mention
that David Boys, maybe the best shortstop ever in our sport,
has retired after earlier committing to this team, and then subsequently
having had to resign to accept a promotion in his business career.
David will be missed by the sport, and will get a proper retirement
story once I get a chance and speak with him, sometime before
he shows up as a full time civilian at a tourney. I am sure he
will be seen watching competition at a tournament somewhere this
summer, wearing his trademark khaki shorts with a smile as bright
as a sunrise, it is now official, pretty boy has walked into
the sunset. David ranks as one of my favorite players ever. I
am also proud he last performed as a Smoker, and was a team mate
on the Sharks, albeit for too short a time.

     Speaking of Sharks, I will miss Mike Smith on this team.
Now there was a guy who endlessly promoted the Pennsylvania QR
sharks, admittedly a part of this Orillia DNA. I pause at the
thought I will be wearing the team’s Shark uniform a few times
this year at tourneys I am able to attend in my role, but not
see Mike.

     I will also miss the guys from Circle Tap we had hoped to
bring on this team but ended up on competing rosters. They are
great Guys and I will enjoy seeing us compete against them. Isn’t
it great in our sport, that we enjoy our adversaries so much
as friends and people? Even though I never was able to call Jody
Hennigar a team mate, I still enjoyed this extraordinary man
for 14 years. (I met him when he pitched for the ’92 Clearwater
Bombers) It takes years to appreciate the people in our sport,
but one of the endless factors of magic in this sport is the
charisma of our opponents and the camaraderie we share just because
we all eat and drink Fastpitch.

     Needless to say, I will also miss Smokers who have retired
when they were still all world as Trent Rubley did. Trent was
slated for this team, and was our first casualty of the Prawn
rule. But frankly, the Trend Setting Softball School he runs
with Jody Hennigar down the street from me, would have inevitably
short circuited any possibility of Trent going another year,
just like David Boys.

     I see that I have already spun quite a bit of yarn, just
continue this later if you feel it is too long, but I dare you
to put it down, given the excitement the Sharks’ presence means
to the sport, and the rivalries being born.

     So Who’s on first? Yes, that’s the man’s name. But on the
Orillia team, Abbot & Costello can only tip their hats to the
likes of Pat Graham & Todd Moyer. Patty has been a steady force,
playing for my friends Tim Cox’s and Billy Simpson’s Owen Sound
teams.  He is one of the fiercest competitors the sport has been
treated to in over ten years I have known him, and he still can
beat most infields with a clean base hit one inning, followed
by a bunt single his next at bat. Defensively, you never hear
of him recording an “E.” If ever there were a golden glover,
Pat is the man.

     Todd, on the other hand is a gifted athlete whose hitting
speaks volumes and presence on the field is respected at all
times. I have watched Todd over the last few years develop into
a quality hitter at the major level and I was always impressed
with how he rests the bat on his shoulder and then quickly explodes
on the ball. We look forward to Todd playing first base and getting
some addition time in the DH role. Todd has plenty to accomplish
with the Sharks and is poised to contribute this year to a Championship
effort in a big way.

     Moving over to second base, if ever there were someone who
sets the standard to all in his position it is 2004 ISC World
Tourney Co-Top hitter, Rhys Cassley. Rhys has worn the World
Title ring twice in the last three years, and ever since coming
up with Dan Milne from New Zealand in 1999, he has been a top
performer in our sport. He is one of the most physically gifted
athletes ever to wear this uniform as a position player, much
taller than most of his colleagues, yet at least as coordinated,
and every bit as competitive. If a team needs to be strong up
the middle, you can’t go wrong with Cassley as one of those you

     The two most exciting players I observed last summer in
St Thomas at the Canadian Championships were Ian Fehrman & Steve
Mullaley. We will get to Mullaley later when we cover outfielders,
but Ian is a hitting machine and maybe one of the brightest newcomers
on the scene as well. He plays shortstop on this team with the
retirement of Prawn David, and he will very capably fill those
shoes as a player. Fehrman can take an outside pitch over the
fence in right, turn on an inside offering and park it in left,
then smash an 0-2 pitch up the middle and make the pitcher jump!!!
He is slick fielding and has speed to burn. I single out our
successful recruitment of Ian as a major reason I chose to stay
involved in this sport on a competitive team. I look so much
forward to seeing Ian play and help us win.

     If you see Patty Graham at one corner, at first base, look
for the other corner occupied by Paddy Mackintosh. As The MVP
of my Calgary team in 2004, being reunited with Paddy Mack is
a big reason I leave Florida a few weeks of the year and come
to compete in ball. Paddy is an excellent third baseman, and
defines the term, “Clutch Hitter.” As a Western Canadian import,
Paddy is an example of some DNA diversity we sport in our makeup
for 2006. So, yes we stand “Pat” at both corners…

     Just when you think you have suffered enough at the hands
of Shark infielders, watch out for Derrick Zechman who will complement
Cassley at 2nd, Fehrman at short, and Paddy Mack at 3rd. Admittedly,
I do not know a lot about this “kid,” but I am told that I will
love his style of play. During the last three seasons, he has
been a regular at second, short, and third. This will serve him
well as we expect him to get plenty of playing time at all three
positions. I am told that he has a unique style in the field
that earned him the nickname of “Flounder.” I also checked out
his hitting stats and I found that he hits for average with some
power when needed. Balanced, we Sharks are, and what is more,
we NEVER Sleep.

     When you think outfield, one of the most respected athletes
of the grassy part of the field is Dan Loney. Dan has experience
going back to the Napanee Express, played on many Northeastern
based competitive teams in the USA and always been a favorite
of his teammates. Dan is fast as lightning, an athlete who never
gets out of shape, hits for average, and makes game saving plays.
His arm is rarely challenged. Put him in center, left and right…..

     Mike Taylor, a right fielder by trade, with his rocket of
an arm and dangerous bat, Butch, as we know him, is one of the
most positive energy guys on the team. He is envied for his talent
by many, and has worn the championship ring for both World and
National titles at a very young age. I surely hope his work commitments
do not too much hinder his appearances, as he is a very special
person both on and off the field.

     As maybe the soundest player fundamentally, we have on the
roster, Stacy McLean brings youth and experience simultaneously
to the table as well as a great glove, smart base running and
a clutch bat. A first time team mate of mine, Doc Simmons laments
losing him more than many you would think of. Given the stable
of horses Doc Simmons amassed, Stacy shares some pretty elite

     Well I saved Steve Mullaley for next to last. No, not because
his hitting nearly ended my final ISC run as manager, not because
he tore up the Canadian’s in September of 2005, not because of
the future for this team he represents, but for none of the above.
This guy is the stuff dreams are made of and will be in the headlines
more times than you will probably want to see him if you are
opposing the Sharks this season. Denny Bruckert has not stopped
talking about him since day one of this team’s organization.
Now he is with us, Denny is happy, and so is the rest of the
team. Welcome Steve!

     Lastly there is me. Peter “Benchley” Porcelli. I am the
Publicist and the PR arm for the Sharks. Call me “Jaws.”  I admit
to having the biggest mouth in the sport, so who can disagree
with me being yet another distinguished Shark? I will find a
way to contribute every turn I can, that I promise. Yes, I know
that after this article we will go back to being just Riversharks,
but for the sake of shameless promoting, I have seized on the
opportunity to intro our guys and group with a summer personnel
preview. I even try to stir the image of hot beaches and summer
temperatures we will enjoy at many venues when the weather warms
up and we play ball. Whether it be Orillia in July, Woodstock
to start the season, or the Magic of Monkton, the Sharks will
be present wherever there is glory to be garnered.

     I also want to add that our updated website will be up and
running very soon. If you have not seen it, check it out at www.QuakerRiversharks.com
. It is one of the best softball sites I have seen and everything
you wanted to know about the Sharks can be found there. It was
developed and is maintained by Todd Evans.

     After opening the season in Woodstock, we make our splash
in Orillia June 9-10-11 for the Travel League, followed by the
ISC Qualifier at Innerkip on June 16-17 & 18. We then have a
week off before invading Monkton sans Barrie Penman for the tourney
run by the incomparable Brian Ballie.

     One of Denny Bruckert’s and my favorites, the Boys of Summer
in Wisconsin is next July 7-8-9, followed by Prime Time at Orillia
July 14-15- & 16. July 21-22 & 23rd sees the Sharks cross the
Border to the USA in Allentown for the Walsh Memorial, then back
to the Travel League tourney on July 29-29 & 30.

     Denny and I defend our US National Title with many from
this team as The Tampa Bay Smokers Aug 4-5-6, then it is back
into our Shark suits to “fin”ish up the season at the ISC World
Tourney starting August 11.

     We feel the Orillia Riversharks represent a new trend in
Ball, with a base in a locale where most of its players are from,
playing primarily in that same locale, draw its fans  from, and
combine both local sponsorship money with outside funds to produce
a balanced and competitive team with the right principles at
its base. We support the new direction the leadership in our
sport is taking us, and anxiously prepare to show growth with
a future where attrition, infighting and cutthroat competition
had recently been perceived as the order of the day. And just
when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…….
  Peter J. Porcelli, II
Reply To: PeterJPorcelli(at)AOL.com

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