Bob Sinford is a rock picker.

As boys soccer coach at Machias Memorial High School, Sinford spends much of his time performing the insignificant, mundane tasks which contribute to his successful program.

One of those tasks is picking rocks off the high school soccer field. That’s where the veteran coach works and ponders his team.

In Orono, women’s basketball coach Cindy Blodgett is another example of a behind-the-scenes coach.

This year, Blodgett decided to bring her charges together in the summer for group work.

Oh, make no mistake about it: She violated no NCAA rules because she wasn’t present when all these young women hung around with each other.

Blodgett was working on team camaraderie.

My father used to say to me that if you take care of the little things, the big things, like winning, would take care of themselves.

In Bob Sinford’s case, all that unnoticed stuff has resulted in 25 years worth of winning.

Heck, all Sinford’s Bulldogs have done in the tiny Class D coastal school is win two state titles — they’ve played in four; participated in nine Eastern Maine championship games — they’ve won four; and garnered numerous Downeast Athletic Conference awards.

In fact, Bob was named DAC Coach of the Year this fall.

As we make the change from fall sports to basketball and other winter games, fans everywhere are looking for the UMaine women to take the next step in the ongoing growth of the program.

I couldn’t help thinking about these two coaches as the weather turns colder.

In Sinford, the Machias area has a tireless worker, whose teams are always at or near the top — they were Eastern Maine Class D runners-up this year – of the pack in the popular game.

In Blodgett, Orono and its surrounding communities have a former star, trying to make her way into building a perennial winner at UMaine in coaching.

I have an idea. Maybe the university and the NCAA would let me send highlights to each player and participant from the book Cindy and I did a few years ago.

They’d quickly learn while reading excerpts of “Simply The Best: The Cindy Blodgett Story” what it takes to become a champion.

They’d read about the hundreds of hours away from practice that Cindy spent improving the individual aspects of her game, especially shooting.

A basketball player doesn’t go from an elementary school team — she made the eighth grade boys squad in Clinton when she was a third grader — all the way up to Division I and WNBA prominence without a work ethic like Blodgett’s.

Consider that, then consider Bob Sinford’s penchant for detail, and you come all the way back to taking care of the little things like rock picking to improve your program.

Watch those two programs. One is established. One could soon be on its way. But there is no excuse for lack of preparation.

30-Second Time Out

When Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling called me the other day to ask me to vote for Sen. John McCain for president, I wanted to ask him what his status was in Boston for ’09.

The message, of course, was prerecorded, but it was kind of neat hearing Schilling’s voice at the other end of the line.

The veteran pitcher likes all this political stuff, and he has expressed an interest in a career in government once he is retired from baseball.