Susan Dunklee makes history again, returns home

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Olympian biathlete Susan Dunklee of Barton smiles in the cafeteria at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, where she trains as part of the Green Racing Project.  Photo by Natalie Hormilla

Olympian biathlete Susan Dunklee of Barton smiles in the cafeteria at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, where she trains as part of the Green Racing Project. Photo by Natalie Hormilla

copyright the Chronicle April 2, 2014

by Natalie Hormilla

CRAFTSBURY — Susan Dunklee of Barton returned to Vermont last week, having made history once again.

After her Olympic run in Sochi, Russia, in February, it was back to business as usual on the biathlon World Cup circuit.  In her final week of races, in Oslo, Norway, Ms. Dunklee had a career breakthrough:  She came in third in the 7.5-kilometer sprint, marking the first time in 20 years that an American woman biathlete graced the World Cup podium.

“Just to get up there, when it’s the same field, it’s pretty special,” she said in an interview last week.  She was referring to the wide field of athletes that participate in World Cup races.

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First annual March Madness Basketball Tournament held at Brownington school

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The Brownington girls team came in first place in the girls division for the Brownington Graded School’s first annual March Madness Basketball Tournament, held from March 14 to 16.  The team, pictured from left to right, starting in the front row, included:  Alaina Zenonos, Olivia Lacoss, Molly Horton, and Tia Martinez.  In the back row, from left, are:  Faith Kempton, Katie Willard, Kennedy Falconer, Bria Lacoss, and Coach Mike Lacoss.  Photos courtesy of Mike and Barb Lacoss

The Brownington girls team came in first place in the girls division for the Brownington Graded School’s first annual March Madness Basketball Tournament, held from March 14 to 16. The team, pictured from left to right, starting in the front row, included: Alaina Zenonos, Olivia Lacoss, Molly Horton, and Tia Martinez. In the back row, from left, are: Faith Kempton, Katie Willard, Kennedy Falconer, Bria Lacoss, and Coach Mike Lacoss. Photos courtesy of Mike and Barb Lacoss

copyright the Chronicle March 26, 2014

The Brownington girls team came in first place in the girls division for the Brownington Graded School’s first annual March Madness Basketball Tournament, held from March 14 to 16.  The Troy girls were runners up.

The Charleston boys, who called themselves the Mustangs, were the champions of the boys division.  The Brighton boys were runners up.

Nine teams from six schools played in the tournament, which was a fund-raiser for the eighth-grade field trip and the new Brownington Athletic Fund.  — submitted by Mike and Barb Lacoss

The Troy girls were runners up.  In the front row, from left to right, are:  Makayla Ban, Alicia Farrell, Brook Gentry, Sammy Barcomb, Katie Lacasse, Ally Santaw, and Mckenna Marsh.  In the back row, from left, are:  Darcy Mayhew, Abby Baraw, Rebecca McDonald, Abbie Desjarlais, Fayth Columbia, Jessica Carr, and Coach Shannon Bowman.

The Troy girls were runners up. In the front row, from left to right, are: Makayla Ban, Alicia Farrell, Brook Gentry, Sammy Barcomb, Katie Lacasse, Ally Santaw, and Mckenna Marsh. In the back row, from left, are: Darcy Mayhew, Abby Baraw, Rebecca McDonald, Abbie Desjarlais, Fayth Columbia, Jessica Carr, and Coach Shannon Bowman.

The Brighton boys were runners up.  In the front row, from left, are:  Jacob Kocis, Troy Sanville, Alex Barnes, and Josh Rivers.  In the back row, from left, are:  Asstistamt Coach Cooper Densmore, Nicholas Bingham, Zach Letourneau, Aaron Verge, Kyle Hackett, and Coach Bill Burns.

The Brighton boys were runners up. In the front row, from left, are: Jacob Kocis, Troy Sanville, Alex Barnes, and Josh Rivers. In the back row, from left, are: Asstistamt Coach Cooper Densmore, Nicholas Bingham, Zach Letourneau, Aaron Verge, Kyle Hackett, and Coach Bill Burns.

The Charleston boys, who called themselves the Mustangs, were the champions of the boys division.  In the front row, from left, are:  Noah Rivard, Alex Fearino, Zachary Vill’neuve, and Michael Martin.  In the back row, from left, are:  Coach Tony Lamoureux, Cody Bingham, Austin Oleskiewicz, Curtis Bowen, Garrette Blake, and Coach Bob Bowen.

The Charleston boys, who called themselves the Mustangs, were the champions of the boys division. In the front row, from left, are: Noah Rivard, Alex Fearino, Zachary Vill’neuve, and Michael Martin. In the back row, from left, are: Coach Tony Lamoureux, Cody Bingham, Austin Oleskiewicz, Curtis Bowen, Garrette Blake, and Coach Bob Bowen.

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In boys basketball playoffs: Ghosts fend off Ranger comeback bid

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Clint Provoncha (left) had an MVP-type performance in a losing cause as the Lake Region Rangers fell 70-59 to Dylan Jacobs (right) and the Randolph Galloping Ghosts on Thursday night.  A Lake Region senior, Provoncha's 24-point night would lead all scorers in what would be his final trip to the Barre Auditorium. Photo by Richard Creaser

Clint Provoncha (left) had an MVP-type performance in a losing cause as the Lake Region Rangers fell 70-59 to Dylan Jacobs (right) and the Randolph Galloping Ghosts on Thursday night. A Lake Region senior, Provoncha’s 24-point night would lead all scorers in what would be his final trip to the Barre Auditorium.
Photo by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle March 7, 2014

by Richard Creaser

BARRE — The Lake Region Rangers (18-4) battled through 20 regular season and two playoff games to earn a berth in Thursday night’s semifinal at the Barre Auditorium.  Squaring off against the second-seeded Randolph Galloping Ghosts (20-2), there were no illusions about how tough a game this would be.  The DIII semifinal marked the first sell-out crowd of the Barre tournament, tournament officials told the Chronicle.

Both teams had fought hard to make it to Barre but only one would emerge to compete for the DIII crown.  On this night, with a 70-59 win, it would be the Ghosts.

“They play good ball pressure,” Ranger Clint Provoncha said of the Ghosts.  “They were really aggressive on defense and they never give up.”

Tenacity was the name of the game for both of these squads.  Though falling behind by a basket in the early goings, Lake Region managed a 7-2 lead until foul troubles upended the Ranger attack.  Halfway through the opening quarter, the Rangers had accrued five fouls.

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In boys basketball: LR Rangers advance to Barre

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LR Beauregard

Ranger Alex Beauregard (right) goes airborne on this lay up during Friday night’s DIII quarterfinal played at Lake Region’s Don Harter Memorial Gym. Peoples Academy Wolf Matt Bettis tries to block the shot. Photo by Richard Creaser

by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle 3-2-2014

ORLEANS — The Lake Region Rangers earned a berth in the final four with Friday night’s 59-42 win over the visiting Peoples Academy Wolves.  It was difficult at times to tell who was more charged up by the match — the players or the fans.

“The crowd support was phenomenal,” Lake Region Coach James Ingalls said after the game.

If the game could be described in one word that word would surely be energetic.  In a previous match-up against the Wolves Lake Region came out on top 57-53 so the stage was set for another tight game.

“The difference tonight was intensity,” Ranger Dakota McAlister said after the game.  “We’re rolling.” Continue reading

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In girls hockey: Lakers come out on top in defensive duel

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NCGHQrtr Morley

North Country Falcon Taylor Morley (left) comes in against Colchester Laker goalie Erica Hoffmann during Wednesday Metro Division quarterfinal game at Jay. Photo by Richard Creaser

by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle 2-27-2014

JAY — Last season the North Country Falcons girls hockey team (12-8-1) was rewarded for their Lake Division runner-up finish with a promotion to the Metro Division.  The 2013 Lake Division champion Harwood Highlanders also moved up a division but had quite a different experience with a 3-13-4 record.

How well the girls responded to the challenge is how Coach Claude Paul will remember his 2014 squad, not their 1-0 quarterfinal loss to the Colchester Lakers on Wednesday night, February 26, at the Ice Haus in Jay.

“We didn’t really know what to expect except that it was going to be tough,” Coach Paul said after the game.  “In Metro teams run out two or three solid lines every night, for every game.  There is no tail-off in talent.” Continue reading

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In girls basketball: CA Chargers run ends against Phantom menace

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CA semi Bohannon web

Craftsbury’s Janet Bohannon (foreground left) goes in for the basket during Monday night’s DIV semi-final against the top seeded Proctor Phantoms at the Barre Auditorium. Bohannon keyed the Charger attack that gave Craftsbury a 15-10 first quarter lead. Also in on the play, from left to right, are Phantom Abby McKearin, Charger Lynn Brown and Phantom Alyssa Valerio. Photo by Richard Creaser

by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle 2-26-2014

BARRE — The Craftsbury Academy Chargers accomplished something this season that hasn’t been done since 1990 — they earned a berth in the semi-finals in Barre. A sterling 18-1 record earned the Chargers the right to play in Barre, but they had the misfortune to draw the 20-2 Proctor Phantoms as their opponent. Proctor is playing for its third straight DIV title.

CA semi Pennock web

Craftsbury’s Meghan Pennock (foreground left) finds herself in an all-too familiar place as she shoots from within a stockade of Proctor Phantoms. Pennock would lead Craftsbury with 10 points on the night. Surrounding her on the play are Phantoms Brodie Langlois (far left), Riley Coombs (obscured center), Mackenzie Hickey (foreground right) and Abby McKearin (obscured right).
Photo by Richard Creaser

CA semi MBrown web

Craftsbury’s Meghan Brown defends against Proctor Phantom Megan Elrick during Monday night’s DIV semi-final game at the Barre Auditorium. Proctor would go on to win 60-36 as the Phantoms attempt to win their third consecutive DIV state title.
Photo by Richard Creaser

“You see why they’re the two-time state champions,” Craftsbury Coach Rick Thomas said after the game. “They’ve got a team around them that is absolutely relentless. We’ve never played a team like this that is just always in your face.”
Despite the seemingly lopsided score, 60-36, Craftsbury actually played a fairly good game. Indeed, Craftsbury managed to stake and hold a lead through the first quarter 15-10. Janet Bohannon landed two three-pointers in helping to create a lead that was 11-1 at one point.
But as defending state champs are capable of doing, the Phantoms steadily chipped away at Craftsbury’s lead. Craftsbury’s one bad quarter, the second, enabled Proctor to establish a lead and maintain it through the rest of the game. Jordan Mitchell was scorching hot nailing four three-pointers in the second quarter alone en route to leading her team with a game high 18 points.
“We had done well in our zone,” Coach Thomas said. “Once they started hitting perimeter threes, there wasn’t much we could do.”
Proctor’s smothering coverage and aggressive attack forced the Chargers into a position they are not especially familiar with — drawing fouls. It was a losing proposition as the Phantoms thrived from the foul line shooting 14 for 23 on the night, a 61 percent conversion rate. By comparison the Chargers shot only 4 for 11 or 36 percent. Adding to the struggle was losing Bohannon in the final half of the fourth quarter due to personal fouls.
“Losing Janet was a big blow to our offense,” Coach Thomas said. “Nobody else could get loose.”
Turnovers were a major factor working against Craftsbury, Coach Thomas said. The Phantoms excelled at stealing, blocking and running the ball up-court. Losing possession against a team as strong as Proctor was essentially conceding a basket, he said.
Despite seeing his team’s drive for the title halted, Coach Thomas remains optimistic about the future of Craftsbury’s basketball program. The loss of seniors Bohannon, Meghan Pennock, Thalia Thomas and Emma Spiese will hurt, but a strong foundation remains, he said.
“Here we are in Barre and I had complete confidence in the two eighth graders I had out there,” Coach Thomas said. “Lynn [Brown] and Mackenzie [Blaney] are two very talented players. You see what we are losing in our seniors but you also see what we are gaining.”
Coach Thomas also praised his team for how they handled themselves in a very tough match. No matter proctor’s reputation or the score, the Chargers went out and gave everything they had, he said.
“That speaks volumes to the intensity that they believe in themselves,” Coach Thomas said. “There’s no doubt that they came in here believing they could win. It didn’t turn out that way but it wasn’t for lack of effort.”

contact Richard Creaser at nek_scribbler@hotmail.com

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In girls basketball: CA Chargers head to semi-finals

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by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle 2-23-2014

Craftsbury's Meghan Pennock (left) uses some fancy footwork to cut past Whitcomb/Rochester's Lindsey LaPerle during Saturday's DIV quarterfinal in Craftsbury.  A late run enabled the Chargers to finally break through the Hornets' defense and grant the Chargers a 43-35 win to advance to Monday night's semi-finals in Barre. Photo by Richard Creaser

Craftsbury’s Meghan Pennock (left) uses some fancy footwork to cut past Whitcomb/Rochester’s Lindsey LaPerle during Saturday’s DIV quarterfinal in Craftsbury. A late run enabled the Chargers to finally break through the Hornets’ defense and grant the Chargers a 43-35 win to advance to Monday night’s semi-finals in Barre.
Photo by Richard Creaser

CRAFTSBURY COMMON — Thalia Thomas’ last-second three-pointer in the final moments of the third quarter proved to be a decisive basket as the fourth-seeded Craftsbury Chargers defeated the visiting fifth-seeded Whitcomb/Rochester Hornets 43-35 on Saturday.  The win propels the Chargers into Monday night’s DIV semi-final against top-ranked Proctor at the Barre Auditorium.

It was a tight game throughout with the two teams deadlocked at 7-all after the first quarter and Craftsbury leading by a single point headed into the half.  When the Hornets tied up the game at 26-26 with less than 30 seconds left in the third it truly seemed anyone’s game.  And then Thomas landed Craftsbury’s lone three-pointer of the day to give the Chargers the edge they needed to put the game away once and for all.

“I think everyone had a lot of nerves going into this game,” Thalia Thomas said after the game.  “It was something we had to work through, to get back into our game.  It took a little while but we did it.”

Coach Rick Thomas was pleased with the effort his team put up against a tough Whitcomb squad.

CAGBvWhit shoot

Craftsbury Charger Lynn Brown, an eighth grader, shows excellent form against Whitcomb/Rochester Hornet Savannah Shepard during Saturday’s DIV 43-35 win. The Chargers win propels them into a tough DIV semi-final against league-leader and number one seed Proctor in Barre on Monday night. Photo by Richard Creaser

“To face a team like Whitcomb/Rochester three times and come away with wins each time is a testament to this team and how focused they are,” Coach Thomas said of his Chargers squad.  “This is what they’ve played for all season.  They know that they are one win away from playing for the state title.”

All three of the Chargers wins versus the Hornets have been decided by fewer than ten points.  Whitcomb’s deadly sophomore duo of Lindsey LaPerle and Phoebe Parrish combined for 29 of the Hornets’ 35 points on the night including two three-pointers apiece.  That level of outside threat proved a great challenge for the Charger defenders.

“They’ve got some great shooters,” Thalia Thomas said of her Hornet opponents.  “They were killing us on back-cuts.”

The game was also an unusually foul-filled affair for both squads.  By the time the final buzzer sounded one Hornet was bounced from the game and both Craftsbury and Whitcomb each had two players on the verge of elimination.

“Yeah, there were a lot of fouls,” Thomas said.  “I don’t know if it was from playing with more intensity because it was a playoff or that the refs were just making more calls.  It’s something we need to watch out for.”

Coach Thomas also praised the athleticism of the Hornets and the challenge the team has presented in each and every meeting.

“I knew this game was going to be like this,” Coach Thomas said.  “They are amazing athletes and they knew how to put pressure on us.  The way they managed Janet  showed a respect for her abilities,” he said about Janet Bohannon.

While Bohannon struggled in the early goings with stifling coverage that limited her to only seven points through the first half, her offensive potential was simply too great to hold permanently in check.  Bohannon would explode for seven points in the final quarter alone and contributed 11 total points in the second half keying the Chargers win.  She finished with a game high 18 points while teammate Meghan Pennock would record nine points on the day.

How well the Chargers fare against Proctor will be largely dependent on ball control.  In Saturday’s game ball control was often an issue especially when the Hornets got the ball to Parrish and LaPerle.  Turnovers are deadly against skilled teams and Proctor has been one of the most skilled teams in the division.  Proctor has recorded wins against upper-division teams in 13 of its 18 wins on the year.  In fact, of its two losses one was against DIV second seeded Mount St. Joseph and the other against DII Fairhaven.  Proctor dismantled DI Burr and Burton 66-33 in only the team’s third game of the season.

“There are definitely some nerves going up against Proctor,” Thalia Thomas said.  “We’ve never played them but we know they’re a good team.  We don’t know anything about them but they don’t know anything about us either.”

CAGBvWhit steal

Craftsbury Charger Sarah Dunbar (foreground right)snatches the steal and bolts down the court during Saturday’s DIV quarterfinal against the visiting Whitcomb/Rochester Hornets. Also in on the play are Hornets Casey Holtz (far left), Phoebe Parrish (second from right) and fellow Charger Thalia Thomas. Craftsbury Coach Rick Thomas (standing, center) observes the play. Photo by Richard Creaser

The game will truly hinge on which team is most readily able to adapt as the game wears on, Coach Thomas said.  Forcing Proctor to surrender turnovers while limiting their own turnovers will play a critical role in the contest, he said.

“We need to communicate better and make sure we secure the ball,” Coach Thomas said.  “A team like Proctor is going to make those conversions on our turnovers so we need to be very mindful of that.”

Contact Richard Creaser at nek_scribbler@hotmail.com

- Richard Creaser

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In boys basketball: Total team effort propels LR Rangers in win

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LR boys Harper web

Lake Region Ranger Logan Harper (center) works around Richford Falcons Bradley St. Pierre (left) and Brett McAllister during Wednesday night’s varsity match at Lake Region. Photo by Richard Creaser

by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle 2-13-2014

ORLEANS — The Lake Region Rangers boys varsity basketball (13-4) team kept their season longest seven-game winning streak alive with a 52-20 win over the visiting Richford Falcons (4-13) on Wednesday night, February 12.  The win was a near mirror image of the Rangers’ last win against the Falcons 58-24 back on January 9.

Wednesday’s contest enabled Lake Region Coach James Ingalls an opportunity to send out his underclassmen, giving his regular starters more rest time headed into the impending playoff season.  Coach Ingalls said he liked seeing the quality minutes his second string brought to the table.

“I think it speaks to how deep a rotation we have,” the coach said after the game.  “The boys put up some real quality minutes.  We had a total team effort and that earned us the W.”

Nine different players hit the score sheet for the Rangers with Alex Beauregard and Dennis Newland leading the attack with 11 points apiece.  Richford’s Jeremy Franklin led the Falcon attack with seven points on the night.

Sophomore Trent Bathalon was one of the Lake Region players who benefited from increased playing time in the game.  Bathalon finished the game with seven points including a three-pointer recorded in the final quarter of play.

LR boys Bathalon web

Lake Region’s Trent Bathalon (left) goes airborne on the shot against the visiting Richford Falcons on Wednesday night, February 12. Bathalon would record the basket on this shot as the Rangers downed Logan Hogaboom (center), Brett McAllister and the Falcons 52-20. Photo by Richard Creaser

The Rangers’ solid defensively play limited Richford’s scoring chances while enabling Lake Region to mount an offensive outpouring.  The Rangers were highly efficient in controlling the play in the paint both offensively and defensively.

“Defensively we played very, very well,” Coach Ingalls said.  “I thought our press was really good and we boxed them out really well.  I’m a bit of a defensively-minded coach so I was glad to see that tonight.”

Bathalon credits control around the basket and solid passing for the Rangers’ success.

“I feel like the cutting and movement was a really big thing for us,” Bathalon said.  “When we keep control and don’t rush we play better.”

Though the two squads were fairly evenly matched on height, the Rangers appeared to dominate offensive and defensive rebounds.  Limiting the number of repeated shots the Falcons could take on net was a critical component in the Rangers’ success.

LR boys Newland web

Lake Region’s Dennis Newland (center) and Ranger teammate Alex Beauregard (not shown) turned in a team best 11 points apiece as the Rangers downed Richford 52-20 on Wednesday night. Richford Falcon defenders Brett McAllister (left) and Kyle Doan (right) can only watch as Newland buries the basket. Photo by Richard Creaser

“They got a lot of big guys and play a tough, physical game,” Bathalon said of the Falcons.  “We had to work around them to get the chances we got.”

That physical play, while useful in keeping the Rangers away from easy baskets, did eventually take its toll.  The Falcons gave up 12 free throws in the last two quarters alone putting their struggling offense in an even deeper hole.  By comparison, Richford only surrendered a single free-throw to Lake Region in the entire first half.

“Things were definitely starting to get a little chippy out there,” Coach Ingalls said.  “I didn’t want to escalate things so I started using my bench more.  I can honestly say I’m happy with how they played this game.  There really wasn’t anything glaringly obvious that we need to address.”

The Lake Region Rangers hold their final regular season home game on Friday, February 21, as they take on visiting BFA-Fairfax.  The game has a scheduled 7 p.m. start.

contact Richard Creaser at nek_scribbler@hotmail.com

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In boys basketball: Gray’s return to NCUHS bad news for Falcons

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NCBBall Gray cmykcopyright the Chronicle February 12, 2014

by Richard Creaser

NEWPORT — It was a bittersweet homecoming for Kendrick Gray, who returned to the North Country gymnasium for the first time this season on Friday night.  Gray, a former North Country Falcon freshman, now plays for the Rice Green Knights (12-3) as a potent sophomore forward.

“Coming in as an opponent was pretty nerve-wracking,” Gray said after Rice’s 74-39 win.  “I just wanted to do my best and everything kind of came out.  I wasn’t expecting to have as good a game as I did.”

Gray exhibited the kind of skills that made him a fearsome opponent for any team.  His 17-point performance, tops among both teams, including shooting 4 for 9 from the free throw line, a three-point basket, and five other baskets including a crowd-inciting dunk in the first quarter.  The fact that his heroics inspired cheers from both halves of the crowd was not lost on the amiable sophomore.

“I knew I couldn’t hide forever and I’d have to come back sometime,” Gray said smiling.  “I love my Newport peeps.  I love this place.”

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Young pitchers and catchers take up yoga

copyright the Chronicle February 12, 2014

by Richard Creaser

NEWPORT — Jay Gonyaw has operated a clinic through the Junior Legion Baseball Program for area pitchers and catchers for the past eight years, first at IROC and now at North Country Union High School.  His coaching experience, however, goes back even further.  Mr. Gonyaw is also the coach of the North Country Falcons junior varsity squad.

“I coached my first time when I was 18 years old,” Mr. Gonyaw told the Chronicle on Tuesday.  “So I’ve been around baseball and coaching baseball a long time.”

What Mr. Gonyaw has noticed lately is that his young athletes often aren’t quite in the condition they should be.  To remedy that, he’s introduced an unlikely new element to his coaching regimen — yoga.

A number of factors contribute to the fact that  kids aren’t as limber as they once were.  They range from the widespread use of technology to a more stringent focus on single or double sport athletic training.

“You see it when a kid transitions from playing in one sport season and switching over to a different one in the next season,” Mr. Gonyaw said.  “They have to be in great shape to play at a high level in one sport, but when they switch they end up sore.  They’re going from working one group of muscles to a completely different group of muscles, and their bodies just aren’t ready for that.”

The ability to adapt from one sport to the next has also declined as varsity athletes begin to focus more on a single sport instead of the two or three sports that athletes of his generation played, Mr. Gonyaw said.  Working on the muscle groups that are used most ignores the benefits that a more complete workout experience delivers to those muscle groups you use less frequently.

Back in the day when outdoor activities formed a major part of a child’s life, multiple muscle groups were always being tested.  Kids rode bikes through town, played soccer in the park, or swam at the local beach.  As “free-play” activities have diminished, so has exposure to different kinds of body workouts.  And that has affected the ability of athletes to meet the physical demands of their sports, Mr. Gonyaw said.

“I see a lot of kids coming into my clinic or at the start of the season and they are pretty stiff,” Mr. Gonyaw said.  “It got me to thinking that the traditional stretching routine maybe isn’t working as well as it used to.  So I started to think outside the box.”

So Mr. Gonyaw and his fellow trainer Eric LeBlanc arranged for yoga instructor Rebecca Marcotte of Barton to come in and work with his players.  The first 30 minutes of each weekly session are dedicated to yoga stretching and the final 60 minutes to pitching and catching.

“We’ve been at it for five weeks of our seven-week clinic and we’re already seeing a big difference,” Mr. Gonyaw said.  “I’ve had kids ask me why we didn’t do this sooner, so they’re really buying into it.  They’re seeing the value of what we’re doing.”

While the clinic focuses on pitchers and catchers, the benefits of yoga would apply equally across the diamond and the outfield, Mr. Gonyaw said.  Pitchers and catchers are the only players with direct interaction with every pitch but that doesn’t mean that the position players, or batters for that matter, wouldn’t benefit as well.

“A centerfielder or a left fielder might go a couple of innings without needing to do anything,” Mr. Gonyaw said.  “But then they need to be ready to run at full speed and make the catch or make a throw right away.  That puts a lot of strain on the body.”

Not only will yoga help players perform at a higher level of readiness, but it should also help to avoid some of the more common injuries that occur during the season.  As short as the high school baseball season is in Vermont, by the time an injury has healed the season is effectively over for that player.

“I think we will see some early results when we start the daily practices in the spring,” Mr. Gonyaw said.  “The real test will come at the end of the season when we see how many injuries we have or how many sore arms we have.  I really think that this is going to make a huge difference.”

Mr. Gonyaw intends to bring back yoga for his clinic in future years, and he also hopes to incorporate a ten- to 15-minute yoga routine in his daily practices and pre-game regimen.  As the student athletes become more comfortable with the yoga routines, he expects that players may also start to recognize the meditative benefits of yoga as well.

“I know of yoga mostly as a good way to stretch out your muscles and joints,” Mr. Gonyaw said.  “But I can see a time when a batter or pitcher can step back and refocus for the next at-bat.  The mental part will come.”

Mr. Gonyaw’s annual pitching and catching clinic is open to a wide range of ages from 12 years old to 17 years old and to kids from all over.  This year’s group includes four catchers and 13 pitchers who work with Mr. Gonyaw and Mr. LeBlanc, a former pro baseball player.

“Eric really has an amazing understanding of what it takes to pitch at all levels,” Mr. Gonyaw said.  “He understands the mechanics of each pitch and the benefits of a good stretching routine.  That really enhances the experience for everyone.”

The positive feedback from players so far indicates that Mr. Gonyaw’s unorthodox yoga regimen has hit a home run.  How well the yoga stretching philosophy extends beyond the kids in his clinic is yet to be seen.

“I definitely think there’s something here that would benefit all players in all sports,” Mr. Gonyaw said.  “If it helps them perform better and avoid injuries, it’s been totally worthwhile.”

 contact Richard Creaser at nek_scribbler@hotmail.com

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