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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
DADE CITY - Pasco lost its first battle in almost a month to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
For a few minutes it felt like fight night.
Ding, ding, ding! Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Dr. Donald McBath Activity Center for tonight's main event, Pasco's softball team vs. the Pasco drama department.
All that was missing was 50 Cent rapping alongside Colena Lazar.
Pasco's softball team gathered on the bleachers - their corner, if you will - hoping to get in a final practice before today's highly anticipated Class 4A state semifinal in Plant City.
They were forced inside because smoke from somewhere in Georgia was choking Pasco's campus.
In the other corner - okay, on the stage - was Pasco's drama department.
They already were bumped twice and were adamant about staying put. They had to practice their marks and lines for The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, set to open Tuesday night.
A few softball players started playing catch, the pop of their mitts downing out poor Ichabod Crane.
Refereeing the bout, via cell phone, was principal Pat Reedy.
Ding, ding, ding. And with that Round One.
The teams went toe-to-toe, the softball team throwing balls, the drama team throwing lines.
It ended in one quick, dramatic knockout.
Would you believe the softball team was beaten down by the acting squad?
Reedy raised the arm of the drama team, but Pasco coach Shamalene Broner was pleased with the concession - 45 minutes on her field instead of two hours in the gym.
Practice inside would not have gone well.
No one knew of the move indoors until well into the school day. Some girls wondered how they were going to practice in flip-flops.
Practice already was off to a late start. And by the time freshmen Shaba Brown and Megan Newsome were done trading stories about who had longer leg hair - they haven't shaved since a 5-0 loss to Naples on April 14, worried it might bring on bad luck - it was 3:15 p.m. The coaches were just arriving.
Once Pasco got booted out of the gym it was almost 4.
The girls hurried the field and began stretching and loosening up.
Monday was devoted to mostly offense, so Tuesday was a defensive workout.
How did it go? Let's just say Pasco better play more sound today.
Tyler Crisp's dad was the lone parent to catch the end of practice from the bleachers behind home plate. He drove down from Bushnell and plans to go to today's game.
I couldn't stomach the thought of telling him the softball team got bullied out of the gym.
Broner expects even more people to show up for today's game though the boys' epic battle with Orlando Bishop Moore was moved to tonight, also because of that darn smoke.
She noted her game is at 5 p.m. and the boys don't play until 7, so there's no reason you can't see both.
Broner wrapped up practice and kept telling the girls one thing, "Relax."
She sounded more concerned with grades than Okeechobee.
"It's crunch time, " she said. "It's the end of the year. Take care of your grades."
And with that, the girls were off preparing for just another day of school.