LOCAL UMPIRE ALBERT TO BE HONORED THIS WEEKEND: Westville's Mike Albert will receive the 2013 Interscholastic Athletic Official Association Award in at this weekend's state finals.
Albert has been an umpire for 33 years. He's worked in 30 postseason tournaments, including three state finals.
VALPO'S KOWALCZYK EARNS ALL-REGION HONORS: Valparaiso reliever Karch Kowalczyk was named to the ABCA/Rawlings All-Mideast Region Second Team.
The Horizon League Relief Pitcher of the Year had 12 saves this season. He was also named the tournament MVP.
LAPORTE'S CONKLIN COMMITS TO IU-SOUTH BEND: LaPorte's Sierra Conklin has committed to Indiana South Bend.
Conkiln was an All-Duneland Conference player last season, finishing with 275 kills, 141 blocks and 134 digs.
TICKETS ON SALE FOR BEARS FAMILY FEST: Tickets for the Comcast Bears Family Fest are on sale through ticketmaster.
The event will start at 3 p.m. Aug. 3 at Soldier Field. Tickets are $8 to $12. For details, call (800) 745-3000, or go to www.ticketmaster.com.
MUSGRAVE MEMORIAL SATURDAY AT ILLIANA: The 12th annual Elmer Musgrave Memorial will take place Saturday at Illiana Motor Speedway.
Gates will open at 4 p.m.; time trials will be at 5:30, and the first race will start at 7. Cost is $15 for adults, $5 for children aged 8 to 12. For details, call (219) 322-5311, or go to www.illianaspeedway.com.
LEFFLER REMEMBERED AS FRIEND, TEAMMATE, FATHER: Tony Stewart remembered Jason Leffler as a friend, teammate and doting father to 5-year-old son Charlie Dean a day after the NASCAR driver was killed in a crash at a dirt track.
"Jason Leffler was a great racer and an even better friend," Stewart, the three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion who was once a teammate of Leffler's at Joe Gibbs Racing, said Thursday. "To not have him around to talk about whatever race one of us had just run, or were going to run, will be hard. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, especially his son, Charlie, who Jason loved more than anything."
The 37-year-old Leffler, a two-time winner on the NASCAR Nationwide Series, died Wednesday night after the crash in a heat race in a 410 Sprint Car event at Bridgeport Speedway, a 0.625-mile, high-banked dirt oval about 15 miles southwest of Philadelphia.
A spectator, 40-year-old Chris Taitt of West Deptford, said Leffler had been in second place, apart from other cars when his winged car slammed into a wall at the fourth turn. Taitt said the wing was "flattened like a pancake" and the seat appeared to be displaced.
The sprint car event was the track's highest profile event so far this year, with better-known drivers, more expensive tickets and a bigger prize — $7,000 — than the usual Friday and Saturday night events.
Sprint car races can be dangerous for drivers and spectators, with many facilities lacking the SAFER barriers that are standard in NASCAR and IndyCar
SOX'S VENTURA AN ALL-STAR COACH: Current Mets manager Terry Collins and former skipper Davey Johnson have been selected as coaches for next month's All-Star game at Citi Field.
Johnson, currently Washington's skipper, managed the Mets to their last World Series title in 1986. They were picked Thursday by San Francisco's Bruce Bochy, the NL's manager
Detroit's Jim Leyland, the AL manager, also chose coaches with Mets' ties: Robin Ventura of the White Sox and John Gibbons of the Toronto Blue Jays. Ventura played for the Mets' last NL pennant winner in 2000, and Gibbons is a former Mets player and minor league manager.
The All-Star game is July 16.
Around the horn
Purdue Athletic Director Morgan Burke discusses Boilermaker football and basketball on "Purdue Calumet Sports Insight" at 5:30 p.m. today on WJOB-AM (1230). ... Regional Radio Sports will air all four games of the Indiana-Kentucky all-star basketball series on WEFM-FM (95.9). Broadcasts will begin at 4 p.m. today and 3:30 p.m. Saturday. All games will also be available at www.rrsn.com. ... The Bears waived undrafted rookie CB Maurice Jones on Thursday. ... The NFL is limiting the size and kind of bags fans bring into stadiums, beginning with preseason games. The restrictions are designed to enhance security and speed stadium entry. With the exception of necessary medical items, only clear plastic, vinyl or thick plastic handbags no larger than 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches will be allowed.