Interviewing high school athletes can be a painful process. Teenagers can be shy, aloof, a master of the one-word answer or, at times, not in the mood to talk.
Heading into my 10th high school sports season at the Observer-Reporter, I've interviewed hundreds of local athletes. Most are friendly and happy to talk, unfortunately, not everyone has something to say.
There are those blessed with the gift of gab at a young age. The following are the 10 best scholastic student-athlete interviewees in my time at the O-R:
1. Perry Ivery. The former Fort Cherry football standout and 2001 O-R Offensive Player of the Year was consistently excellent. Plus, this quote still stands as the best I've ever received from a high school athlete: "We're going up to Beaver County and renaming that bridge the Fort Cherry-Rochester Bridge."
2. Lanfer Simpson. Not many athletes give good interviews after a heartbreakng defeat in the state playoffs. Simpson, a former Waynesburg star, did, even as tears rolled down his cheeks. Often funny and occasionally vulgar, Simpson was also quite articulate.
3. Andrew Sweat. The current Ohio State freshman, Sweat always took the time to talk, and I talked to him on countless occasions. Smart and insightful, Sweat wasn't afraid to discuss details on recruiting visits or the rigors of practice. Plus, Trinity's star linebacker did most of the talking.
4. Mike Sutton. Sutton was Wash High's top athlete way back in 1999-2000, my first full year with the O-R.
5. Dan Mozes. Another Wash High product, Mozes spoke his emotions and he spoke them very quickly.
6. Adam Penn. People may not remember this Canon-Mac track champion, but the standout long jumper oozed personality.
7. Mike Yancich. Sweat's teammate at Trinity, the current Penn State linebacker offered insightful comments.
8. Andrew DiDonato. The WPIAL's second all-time passing leader, DiDonato was humble, courteous and a good speaker.
9. Jocelyn Lindsay. The WPIAL's and PIAA's first female pole vault champion, Lindsay knew how to give a good quote during her days at Waynesburg.
10. Emily Correal. The Peters Township girls basketball standout recently granted an interview while receiving treatment. Plus, she's intelligent and friendly.
Generally speaking, coaches are much better interviews than players. Two coaches, however, stand out during the past 10 years and deserve mention.
John Menhart and Russ Moore.
Menhart is the former football coach at Carmichaels and one colorful interview. The same can be said for former Waynesburg and Ringgold football coach Moore, who never shied away from controversial statements.