The Lafoe Logging men’s softball team won the F Division State Championship Tournament. The tournament was held in Newport on July 27 and 28. After a number of years of not competing in state tournaments, Lafoe Logging entered the F Division Tournament and spent two days working their way through the brackets and, ultimately, capturing the championship. The team would like to thank Brian Lafoe from Lafoe Logging for his many years of sponsorship. Pictured above, from left to right, in the front row, are: Dave Bennett and Steve Devost. In the middle row are: Jessie Bennett, Jon Lafoe, Tanner Flynn, Joey Paxton, Jared Lafoe, and Tim Cloney. In the back are: Justin Bursey, Doug Oliver, Travis Waterman, Eric Trucott, and Scott Burdick. There are no plans to raise any money to go to the nationals or regionals.
by Bethany M. Dunbar
If obstacles with names such as the Arctic Enema and the Boa Constrictor — which involves muddy water, barbed wire, and culverts — sound like fun, then maybe the Tough Mudder is for you.
On Saturday at Mount Snow in Dover, a team from the Fortitude Fitness Systems of Derby and Lyndonville, and an individual local competitor, joined throngs of thousands to see what they were made of.
The Tough Mudder credo says it’s not a race; it’s a personal challenge. People are challenged to put other competitors — teammates or otherwise — ahead of a desire to complete the course in a particular time.
Still, anyone who does Tough Mudder is likely to have at least some competitive streak and is probably thinking about how long it’s taking.
Tyler Gosley of Barton completed the course in four hours and ten minutes. He had done it the year before with a big team in six hours.
“It’s really not a race,” he said. “It’s about leaving no one behind.”
He said random people helped him through some of the obstacles, and he helped others. It’s just part of the dynamic of the event.
Tough Mudder raises money for the Wounded Warrior Project, which Mr. Gosley said helps disabled veterans. He knows of one case where the project built a house for a veteran. It was set up with amenities that particular veteran needed.
The course goes up and down on Mount Snow. Parts of it have water, some parts have wires providing electrical shocks. The Arctic Enema is an obstacle with ice water and boards the competitors must swim under. One obstacle requires climbing hand over hand over a muddy pool of water with the use of monkey bars. Competitors must carry logs and climb curved walls, running up and down the mountainous trail in the meantime.
Mr. Gosley, who is a certified personal trainer, said he did not know how many people participated this year, but last year he heard it was 14,000 in one day. Competitors were started in waves of 600 each.
“It was awesome. The crowd, the energy was top notch. The weather — you couldn’t have asked for a better day.”
Kim Swett of Derby Line, a member of the Fortitude Fitness Systems team, did the Tough Mudder for the first time and wrote about her efforts in a blog: onemoosersjourney.blogspot.com.
Here is an excerpt:
Saturday morning dawned and the butterflies fluttering in my stomach ramped up the fluttering to break dancing. It got worse as I registered, had someone write my number on my forehead and my forearm, pinned on my number and approached the start. Luckily Carole had thought to tell me that before we got to the start we had to go over a wall. With help from Logan, Eric and Tyler I made it over. Hailey and Carole were waiting on the other side to remind me to lower myself with my arms before I jumped so it wouldn’t be as far.
The fear let up a little at this point and I got into the spirit at the start. The MC led us through, “The Star Spangled Banner,” ten seconds of silence for military personnel and then we all recited the “Mudder Pledge.” Everyone was pumped up, it was infectious. Suddenly for the first time I didn’t want to cry: I wanted to put my training and hard work to the test.…
It wasn’t easy, and she describes her successes and attempts in some detail. In the end, she is glad she took the challenge:
We made it to the top of the mountain near a chair lift and Hailey led me through some yoga stretches, though honestly in extended child’s pose I mostly hunched over and sobbed. My back hurt, I was exhausted and I was afraid I was going to fail. At that point I reminded myself where I started, I reminded myself of my training and I heard my coach’s voice in my head. “Do it! You can do it! Dominate this!” echoed and I pushed back to my feet. My team believed in me, my coach believed in me: I had to believe in myself too.
I’d love to tell you the rest of the course was a breeze, that I did it with no more tears and no more moments of wanting to admit defeat and ask for a medic. That was not the case, but every time I wanted to quit, my friends were there to coax one more step.
To make a long story a little shorter: I finished Tough Mudder. I have the T-shirt and orange headband to prove it. A friend who completed Tough Mudder last year told me it was life changing. She was right. I hurt when I finished, I won’t lie about that, but I felt better. I found the mental and physical stamina to go on when it would have been easier (possibly even wiser) to stop.
The little voice that belittles and berates me was silent and has been silent since a Tough Mudder volunteer put that orange headband on me. I know that voice probably is not gone for good, it will sneak back in at some point, but now I will silence it. I’m strong, I’ve always been strong I suppose, but I didn’t believe it before now.
contact Bethany M. Dunbar at email@example.com
by Coach Jethro Hayman
After competing against each other in the state baseball tournament on July 4 weekend, a group of Lake Region and North Country coaches and players decided they were not ready to hang up their cleats. So they formed a hybrid 12U (ages 12 and under) all-star team to keep the season going. The Orleans County All-Stars entered the Alto Catsam tournament in Newport, New Hampshire, which is more than two hours south July 19, 20, and 21. The nine-team double elimination tournament featured some of the best teams from New Hampshire.
With only one practice, Orleans County headed down to see how the team stacked up. After trying a few other team cheers that were a mouthful, the Orleans County 12U identity was discovered: “1, 2, 3, Let’s Go OC!”
The team represented our area with distinction, earning the respect and admiration of both fans and opposing teams. Orleans County overcame several major obstacles to eventually claim the title. First, the blended team was made up of “rivals” with one practice to learn signs and positions. In a game as complex as baseball, the speed that the new team jelled was amazing. Second, they had the long drive in the oppressive heat. This was a tiring ordeal for players, coaches, and parents alike. Third, our Friday night under the lights game was canceled due to lightning midway into the top of the first inning. So many had to drive home through the storm and come back the next day. We could not believe our eyes coming over Sheffield Heights to see the trees down on the interstate! Fourth, the team had to play four games on Sunday to win the tournament. They played the first game at 10 a.m. and the last ended at 6:30 p.m. Sunday.
In the end, these obstacles were surmounted by the boys’ passion for the game. At one point after the third game on Sunday, the fans of the opposition watched the Orleans County players dancing to the DJ and said “where do they get the energy?”
I would guess that these boys get the energy from their love of the game, enjoyment of their brotherhood, and the support of their fans. Not only did Orleans County take home the tournament trophy, they took home some new friends and special memories.
Alto Catsam 2013 Tournament Summary
Game One: Orleans County’s offense was too much for Lebanon in a 13-3 rout.
Orleans County refused to relinquish the lead after grabbing it early against Lebanon, recording a 13-3 victory on Tuesday July 16. With seven runs in the first three innings, Orleans County left no doubt about the eventual outcome. An RBI single by Parker Brown during the first inning and a walk by Dylan Gagnon and a two-run single by Rian Hayman-Jones in the second inning supplied the early offense for Orleans County. In the third, Nick Bingham racked up two RBI on a triple followed by an RBI double by Gabe Riendeau. In the fourth, Orleans County scored six on an RBI double by Asom Hayman-Jones and a two-run double by Noah Gonthier. Aiden Gariepy had an impressive outing against Lebanon’s lineup. Aiden held Lebanon hitless over two innings, allowed no earned runs, and struck out five.
Game Two: Orleans County drubs Kearsarge Valley, 9-3
Kearsarge Valley had a tough outing on Saturday July 20, as Orleans County dominated in a 9-3 win in six innings. Orleans County scored four runs in the first on a groundout by Noah Gonthier, an RBI double by Parker Brown, an RBI double by Asom Hayman-Jones, and a passed ball. Parker B racked up three RBI on three hits. Orleans County answered Kearsarge Valley’s top inning with two runs of its own in the second. Orleans County scored on an RBI single by Noah and an RBI single by Parker B. Orleans County tacked on another three runs in the fourth. Parker Perron kicked things off with a single, scoring Dylan Gagnon. That was followed up by Parker B’s single, bringing home Rian Hayman-Jones.
Game Three: Orleans County musters more hits but falls 2-1 to Connecticut Valley.
Orleans County lost 2-1 in six innings at Newport, New Hampshire, on Sunday, July 21, at 10 a.m., despite outhitting Connecticut Valley five to two. Rian Hayman-Jones brought the heat against Connecticut Valley during his outing. Connecticut Valley managed just two hits, scored one earned run, and struck out six times during his three and two-thirds innings of work. Orleans County scored its only run of the game on an RBI single by Nick Bingham in the first inning. It didn’t take long for Connecticut Valley to respond as it scored one run of its own in the first. Connecticut Valley never trailed after scoring one run in the fifth on a wild pitch.
Game Four: Kearsarge Valley falls 14-6 at the hands of Orleans County.
Orleans County pounded Kearsarge Valley on Sunday, July 21, 14-6 at Newport, New Hampshire, in six innings, at 12:30 pm. Orleans County scored seven runs in the sixth on an RBI single by Parker Brown, an RBI single by Dylan Gagnon, a hit by pitch, a passed ball, a wild pitch, and a two-run home run by Rian Hayman-Jones. Rian racked up three RBIs on four hits. The top of the second saw Orleans County take an early lead, 2-0. The attack began with a single from Rian. Orleans County added more runs when Gonthier scored on an RBI single by Rian. Kearsarge Valley tied the game in the third on a steal of home. Orleans County stayed on top until the final out after taking the lead in the fourth, scoring five runs on an RBI double by Parker B and a two-run single by Noah Gonthier.
Game Five: Orleans County dominates Connecticut Valley 16-2.
Rian Hayman-Jones sparked Orleans County to a 16-2 victory over Connecticut Valley on Sunday in Newport, New Hampshire, with a strong game at the plate and on the bump. Rian went 3 for 5, had 4 RBIs, and scored three runs with a single, double, and a home run. Rian shut down Connecticut Valley while he was on the mound. Rian held Connecticut Valley hitless over two innings, allowed no earned runs, walked none and struck out five. The game was close until Orleans County broke it open in the top of the fifth inning. Leading by a run, Orleans County loaded the bases for Asom Hayman-Jones who knocked in two runs with a line drive. A few plays later, Kodi Smith singled, bringing in another run, and then Rian drove in two more with a single up the middle. Orleans County batted through the order scoring 9 runs with RBIs by Noah Gonthier and Parker Brown. In the top of the sixth, Nick Bingham singled, Dylan Gagnon doubled, setting up Aiden for a two-run double, who was followed by Rian’s home run to center field. Singles by Parker Perron and Parker Brown gave Asom a chance to deliver with another RBI. The offensive explosion was too much for Connecticut Valley.
Game Six: Aiden Gariepy threw a no-hitter as Orleans County defeated Connecticut Valley 10-0.
Aiden Gariepy was untouchable on Sunday at evening, throwing a no-hitter in Orleans County’s 10-0 victory over Connecticut Valley that clinched the tournament championship. No Connecticut Valley batter was able to locate Aiden’s pitches during the game. Aiden threw a no-hitter, striking out nine batters while recording his momentous feat. Nine runs in the opening three innings allowed Orleans County to easily put away Connecticut Valley. An RBI double by Parker Perron and an RBI double by Parker Brown during the first inning helped Orleans County put some runs on the board early. Parker B had a busy day at the plate, collecting two extra-base hits. Orleans County was sparked by Rian Hayman-Jones and Parker P, who teamed up for six hits and four RBIs.
by Richard Creaser
NEWPORT — Solid defense and great team chemistry have propelled D&D Electric onto the national stage. The Newport-based team has earned a berth at the Amateur Softball Association of America’s national eastern C and D division championships in Canton, Ohio, at the end of August. D&D Electric earned the berth by winning the D division state tournament held at Gardner Park in Newport over the weekend.
D&D Electric defeated Accura Printing of Barre, 4-2 to clinch the title and remain undefeated throughout the tournament. Coach and pitcher Rhonda Howard credits solid defense, particularly from fielders Krista Sargent and Christiane Brown, for keeping Accura off the board and securing the win.
“They had some really great catches to keep them off the bases,” Howard said. “It was a really close game but we came out on top.”
Slow pitch softball is a game within a game. The slow arc of the ball is deceptive in its movements. Unlike a batting practice lob, the ball can be imbued with off-speed movement. Controlling the arc and controlling its location are essential elements to the game.
“A good pitcher can have a great impact,” Dori Austin of The Rez in Waterbury said. “A good pitcher can place the ball to make a hitter hit it where you want it to land. That’s why you will hear the good pitchers moving their players around.”
The ability to dictate the flow of the game separates the good pitchers from the rest, Ms. Howard agreed. It’s also a matter of learning the hitting habits of your opponents and playing to their weaknesses, she said.
“If you know the teams, you know where they are most likely to hit it,” Laura McClure of Burnett Scrap Metals from Burlington said. “It does help to play against teams you normally would play. You start out already knowing something about them.”
Playing against unfamiliar teams requires patience and a willingness to watch your rivals in action against other squads. It was not unheard of for at least some opponents to watch games in progress, scouting out their rivals in preparation for the next round.
Slow pitch is less about big, dramatic hits and more about small ball — the art of generating hits and moving your players along the base paths.
“Defense plays a huge part in this game,” Ms. Austin said. “You need to work at getting people on base and taking advantage of any play that lets you score runners. You have to earn every run.”
As competitive a sport as it might be, particularly at the state tournament level, no one has forgotten that having fun is also part of the equation. Many of the players at the tournaments have not only played with their teammates for years, but they have also played against one another for years as well.
“When you get to a tournament like this, sure, it’s about winning games and moving on,” Ms. McClure said. “But you also have that social aspect. It’s about good friends meeting up with friends they haven’t seen in a while.”
Cans of beer, canopies and the smell of hot dogs give the tournament a festive air. The fact that Ms. Austin is also driving around on a motorized cooler only adds to the carnival-like atmosphere. The scooter-cooler is a handy way to get around and keep beverages cold, but it also has a story behind it, Ms. Austin said.
“I wrote a letter to talk show host Ellen Degeneres and she read it on air,” Ms. Austin said. “A little while later they sent this cooler from her show. They featured the Cruzin’ Cooler on her show and she sent us one.”
Ms. Howard, Ms. Austin and Ms. McClure have all been part of teams that have competed at the national level. It is, they agreed, an incredible experience as players and fans of the game.
“The level of softball you see when you get to nationals is just phenomenal,” Ms. Howard said.
Does that high level of play intimidate the Vermont teams at all? Not in the least, Ms. Howard said.
She played on the Newport squad that went to nationals in 2007.
“The teams from the south, where they can play pretty much all year, yeah, they have some advantages,” Ms. Howard said. “We play sometimes in the winter, in the snow. But ball is ball. You go out there, give it 100 percent and see what happens.”
Ms. McClure’s team, though relatively new, includes a core group that had participated in eight straight C division state titles. Team chemistry matters as much as field time when it comes to tournament play, she said.
“It takes it to a whole other level,” Ms. McClure said of the national tournament experience. “It’s an awesome experience and it’s just always great to be able to travel as a team.”
Winning the state tournament or being the runner-up is only part of the ticket to the national tournament. Each team that advances to represent Vermont now faces less than a month to raise the money to get them to Ohio. D&D Electric will hold a team meeting later this week to formulate a plan, Ms. Howard said.
“We don’t have anything definite planned right now but we have a few ideas,” she said. “We are thinking of a big garage sale, holding a car wash, and approaching local businesses to sponsor us.”
Anyone interested in supporting D&D Electric in their bid for the eastern national C division title can contact Ms. Howard at (802) 673-4156 for more information.
contact Richard Creaser at firstname.lastname@example.org
by Richard Creaser
LYNDONVILLE — The Orleans County All-Stars, composed of players from two Lake Region and one North Country squads, earned runners-up honors at the 13-to-15-year-old Babe Ruth district tournament held in Lyndonville over the weekend. Team manager Mark Royer had nothing but praise for his team.
“I told the boys after the game, we came here with pride, we played with pride and we left the field with pride,” Mr. Royer said on Monday. “It was an honor to coach them.”
The caliber of sportsmanship displayed by the Orleans County team was such that even the umpires took note, Mr. Royer said. The umpires admired the way the players remained composed and respectful, even at their worst moments.
The district tournament pitted the Orleans County squad against all-star teams from Lyndon and St. Johnsbury. The double elimination tournament took place Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with St. Johnsbury emerging as the district champs following Sunday afternoon’s match-up against Orleans County.
The tournament started out well for Orleans County as they defeated Lyndon on Friday night. Orleans County faced St. Johnsbury in the first game of the day Saturday morning and lost 10-0 with the game called in the fifth inning by the ten-run mercy rule.
“Even though we lost 10-0, St. Johnsbury was only ahead 5-0 coming into the bottom of the fifth,” Mr. Royer said. “If we could have caught a few breaks it might have been a completely different game. We played well, but just couldn’t cash in those runs.”
Orleans County finished off Lyndon in the nightcap to set up a rematch with St. Johnsbury on Sunday afternoon. Because of the double-elimination format, the St. Johnsbury squad was playing for the championship while Orleans County played to force a second and deciding match.
The rematch proved the capabilities of the Orleans County squad as they managed to carry a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning. Unlike in the first meeting, Orleans County generated some offense by finding holes in an otherwise tight St. Johnsbury defense.
“We definitely hit the ball better,” Mr. Royer said. “The ball found the grass. That’s what we would say in the dugout, ‘Make the ball find the grass.’”
St. Johnsbury plated two runs in their half of the sixth inning and carried it over into Orleans County’s final at bats. St. Johnsbury would hang on to the lead and with the win, clinch the district title.
“We pitched really well and played solid defensively,” Mr. Royer said of the championship game. “After they shut us down ten to nothing on Saturday there was no head-hanging. We knew we had something to show them and we showed it on Sunday.”
Mr. Royer admired the way his team handled their loss in what may have been the biggest game of the season. Baseball is just a game, he said, but the way you handle the outcome speaks volumes for the depth of a person’s character and that carries over to life off the diamond.
“Even when you try your best you won’t always get the result you want,” Mr. Royer said. “Your effort and your attitude are the only things in life you can control. It’s how you handle adversity and how you get back up and try again that really matters.”
contact Richard Creaser at email@example.com
For a story on the Babe Ruth district three 13-year-old title win by the Lake Region All Stars, click here.
by Richard Creaser
ORLEANS — The tournament may have been small, but the competition wasn’t. However, the Lake Region squad defeated Lyndonville to earn the Babe Ruth district three 13-year-old title over the weekend. The two teams squared off at Lake Region Union High on Saturday and Sunday to determine the winner under scorching conditions.
“I’m not sure I could have gone out in that heat and played three games with that level of intensity,” Coach Jason Kennedy said Tuesday. “I think they’re just a great group of young guys who really love the game of baseball.”
Even though there were only two teams vying for the title — the Lake Region team being composed of players from both the Lake Region and North Country Union High School areas — the competition still followed the double elimination tournament rules. As such, the tournament played out more like a major league divisional series than a one and done playoff game.
The Lake Region squad struck first, taking the first game of the tournament 6-4. That first game, it would later seem, was merely an effort to gauge each team’s strengths and weaknesses. Lyndonville rebounded with a decisive 19-12 victory in game two, setting up a tense and exciting championship match on Sunday afternoon.
Lake Region would break out the big bats to post a five-inning, 19-9 victory to capture the district title and advance to Friday’s state tournament in Brattleboro. Though the score may have seemed lopsided, taken as a whole both teams put up a tremendous effort, Coach Kennedy said.
“Our bats really came alive on Sunday,” he said. “Both teams really hit the ball well all weekend. We had to earn that win.”
Although the Lake Region squad is composed of players from different teams, finding that team chemistry wasn’t a big problem, Coach Kennedy said. Many of the players had played against one another at different levels of baseball throughout their young careers.
“They may not have played together, but it’s not like they were meeting each other for the first time,” Coach Kennedy said. “They all wanted to be there and to play baseball. They have a drive and a desire to do well.”
The state tournament kicks off with Lake Region playing against host Brattleboro at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, July 19, at Brattleboro High. The winner of the state tournament will move on to compete at the New England Regional Tournament in Manchester, New Hampshire, starting on July 26.
contact Richard Creaser at firstname.lastname@example.org
For a story on the 13-to-15-year-old Babe Ruth district tournament, click here.
Hartford’s Cal Ripken All-Stars won the state championship in baseball for players age 12 and under at Barton Sunday, according to an account from Coach Jethro Hayman of the Lake Region All-Stars.
Mr. Hayman said the Lake Region team gave the Hartford team a great challenge, but it was an uphill battle as the Hartford team was big and intimidating and had a pitcher who could pitch 70 miles an hour. He said the Hartford team has a good chance to win at the New England level.
“We earned their respect,” Coach Hayman said. He said the other team’s coaches told the local team they were extremely impressed with the level of play from the challengers.
The final score of the championship game was 9-2. Mr. Hayman said some of the other teams were not able to score against the Hartford team. Some games were called off after the stronger team got ten runs ahead, through what is known as a mercy rule. Not so with Lake Region’s team, which Mr. Hayman said never gave up.
The runs were earned by Parker Perron and Asom Hayman-Jones, on a bunt by Josh Royer. Mr. Hayman said the other team was not expecting a bunt, and it was well executed and it worked.
He also was proud of his team for throwing against the Hartford runners each time they tried to steal. He said they did not let them get away with anything without an effort, catching them twice in attempted steals.
“They never quit,” he said.
Mr. Hayman said the game on Saturday night between Lake Region and North Country was the best game of the series, in his opinion. There were eight lead changes in the game, and Lake Region won it finally, eight to seven. The game didn’t end until after 10 p.m., which means the Lake Region players were up late both nights before their state championship game on Sunday.
“It was a great event.”
by Richard Creaser
BARTON — By any objective measure, the greater the number of delays, the harder it is for pitchers to stay warmed up. Friday night, opening night of the Vermont U12 Cal Ripken Baseball tournament, was just such a night. Fans and players alike sought what shelter they could find as the umpires cleared the playing field behind the Pierce Block in Barton Village. Overhead menacing skies threatened, but so far, had failed to surrender anything more than loud noises.
Twice the game would be called for thunder delay, a mandatory period of 20 minutes to allow any danger of lightning strikes to pass. Given the fact that tall light poles and chain link dugouts constituted the bulk of structures closest to the field, the precautions seemed justified.
No sooner had the second thunder delay come to an end when a light rain began to fall. The players, coaches and umpires gamely took to the field, playing half an inning before the intensity of the rain increased and even the most die-hard of parents and fans scrambled to their cars, under the trees or, through forethought and good planning, popped open their umbrellas. Game one of the tournament was off to a rather poor start.
Coming out of the third delay in as many innings, the field now given a good drenching, the quality of play suffered somewhat. Pitchers struggled to control sopping wet baseballs from atop a greasy mound. The ring of aluminum bat on plastic cleats became a familiar sound as the players took breaks to remove the accumulated muck from their spikes.
“I got a lot of dirt stuck in my cleats,” Hartford reliever Chris Nulty acknowledged. “I was having a hard time staying on the mound. I would throw and then start to slip.”
Nulty was the second pitcher to take the mound for Hartford, Hunter Perkins having been pulled after an accumulated hour-long delay. Though Nulty struggled, loading the bases and allowing North Country to tie up the game, he was far from defeated. Nulty went on to record a three-run inside the park home run to begin Hartford’s rally from a long, painful inning.
North Country’s Aiden Gariepy, though subjected to the same routine dashing delays as his Hartford counterpart, would likewise struggle to recover his form. Fastballs adopted unexpected movement, jinking and juking like knuckleballs, rising or dropping unexpectedly. The role of the catcher became one less of calling pitches and catching strikes than one of simply arresting the ball’s forward momentum and hoping to keep it out in front.
Hartford moved on to the winner’s bracket, ousting North Country 15-5 in five innings. Despite the ten-run mercy-ruled game, an hour of delays pushed back the start of game two.
The slick conditions persisted into the evening portion of the tournament as the Lake Region All-Stars took on Central Valley. The lights, coupled with a persistent haze, gave the outfield a rather Field of Dreams quality. However, what came out of the shrubbery on this night was not Shoeless Joe Jackson but, rather, a determined and ravenous horde of mosquitoes.
Despite the weather and the little miseries that accompanied them — or perhaps because of an ample supply of popcorn and hot dogs provided by the Barton Academy and Graded School’s eighth grade class — the players returned to the field and the fans got up and stretched, tried to dry out a bit, and went back to the business of baseball.
It was a sentiment shared by the players. The night game has a certain mystique about it, recalling the major leagues and all those golden heroes of the diamond. Maybe it’s just a function of the background being lost behind the lights, but everyone seems to stand a little taller. There are no network TV cameras, but the dim glow of shaky handy cams and the luminescent sparkle of camera phone flashes fills the night.
“This is my second one,” Lake Region catcher Parker Perron says of night games. “You don’t really do anything different. You just don’t want to look right at the lights.”
Tracking pop-ups and running down baseballs in the outfield are probably the hardest parts of night baseball, he said. The lights tend to be off to the sides and pose little problem for the catcher, he added.
The night game also holds the power to magically ward off bedtime, a fact not lost on the players. Rian Hayman-Jones marveled at the hour when his walk-off three-run inside the park home run allowed the Lake Region team put away Central Valley 11-0.
“It’s pretty fun to be out playing baseball at 11 o’clock at night,” Hayman-Jones said afterward.
Adding to the fun was a strong sense of teamwork that enabled Lake Region to advance to the winners bracket. A loss to North Country in the district playoffs spurred the Lake Region squad to do better, Hayman-Jones said.
“Losing that game made us work harder as a team,” Hayman-Jones said. “We just had to work harder and play better.”
Despite being made up of players from Glover, Barton and Irasburg, the Lake Region All-Stars played as if they had spent the entire season together. Indeed, this U12 team is largely composed of the same players who came within one out of being the U10 state champions two years earlier, Coach Jethro Hayman said.
“Some kids have gone and others come in, but this is basically the same team,” Mr. Hayman said. “They’re very close. They’re like brothers, and it shows.”
Like brothers, some of their dugout chatter spoke of their fellowship. Parker Perron admired a bat and asked Parker Brown, the bat’s owner, if he could use it in his next at-bat.
“You don’t have to ask,” Brown replied. “Unless you’re gonna use it to hit rocks or something.”
That good-natured rivalry and the spirit of fellowship that is the game of baseball would prevail. Bernie Gonyaw, the state commissioner for Vermont Cal Ripken Baseball summed it up best.
“What better way to spend a Friday night than to spend it watching baseball under the lights?” Mr. Gonyaw mused. “It’s the only place to be.”
contact Richard Creaser at email@example.com
For an article on the tournament champions, click here.
This past weekend, June 29 and 30, North Country and Lake Region completed the 12U (age 12 and under) Cal Ripken baseball district championship. Last Thursday, June 27, North Country took it to Lake Region, beating them 10-0 in five innings. This put the pressure on Lake Region to defeat Northfield Saturday, then win back-to-back games over NC to take the title. Lake Region cruised on Saturday, despite a change in venue to Barton due to the saturated field at Gardner Park and a one-hour rain delay. They scored 12 unanswered runs with a total team effort led by Rian Hayman-Jones, Parker Perron, and Josh Royer going 3 for 4 at the plate. Gabe Riendeau pitched very well with seven
strikeouts, setting up the showdown with North Country.
In the first game Sunday at noon, Lake Region broke open the game in the third inning with 5 runs followed by 5 more in the fourth. Parker Brown knocked in three runs with a double and single and the clean up hitter Asom Hayman-Jones tallied four RBI’s with a triple and a single. Rian Hayman-Jones recorded six strikeouts, gave up no walks, and allowed one infield hit in 4 innings as LR evened the score 10-0.
That gave Parker Brown a chance to avenge his previous outing against the NC ace Aiden Gariepy and he delivered pitching a perfect six inning game. It looked to be a pitching dual until, with two outs in the bottom of the thirrd, Lake Region’s Jack King connected for a triple to deep center which brought up the lead-off hitter Rian Hayman-Jones. With two strikes and Aiden Gariepy bringing it, Rian finally squared one
up sending it to the fence in deep center for a home run. In the fifth inning again with two outs, Rian hit a double and was knocked in by Parker Perron’s hit, who was then plated when Parker Brown helped his own cause with another RBI. Parker Brown had a 1-2-3 sixth inning and Lake Region completed the improbable comeback. Congratulations to both teams on some great baseball and good luck to both heading into this weekend’s
12U state championship to be held in Barton.
The tournament opener is Friday night at 6 p.m. The first game on Saturday starts at 2 p.m., and the championship game is scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m.
— submitted by Jethro Hayman
by Richard Creaser
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — Steve Clifford, a 1979 graduate of North Country Union High School, has been named head coach of the NBA Charlotte Bobcats. Mr. Clifford accepted a two-year, $6-million deal with a club option for a third year. Mr. Clifford spoke with the Chronicle about his new position on Thursday, June 6.
“My dad was a really successful coach at North Country, and I think that’s really where it all started,” Mr. Clifford said, referring to his father, Gerald Clifford. “There were a lot of nights spent sitting around the kitchen table talking basketball. We definitely were a basketball family — it was a big part of how we lived.”
By the time he graduated from North Country, Mr. Clifford had already taken his first steps on the path to the NBA. He entered the University of Maine at Farmington, graduating with a degree in special education.
“I always knew, even from a young age, that teaching and coaching were something I wanted to do,” he said. “It was while in college that I started off coaching at Woodland High School.”
Mr. Clifford made the transition from high school varsity to the collegiate coaching world with a four-year stint at St. Anselm’s College in New Hampshire. Over the next 14 years he would find himself at Fairfield College, Boston University, and Siena College before landing a head coaching position at Adelphi University.
During his time at Adelphi, Mr. Clifford led the program to an 86-36 record and four straight 20-plus win seasons, including four appearances in the NCAA Division II tournament. Mr. Clifford would then serve one year as assistant coach at East Carolina University before making his first foray into the NBA.
Mr. Clifford’s career in the NBA began in 2000 as an advance scout for the New York Knicks and as an assistant coach from 2001-2003. He then went on to serve as assistant coach to Jeff Van Gundy with the Houston Rockets from 2003-2007 and then as an assistant coach to Stan Van Gundy with the Orlando Magic from 2007-2011 before landing with the Los Angeles Lakers for the 2011-2012 season.
“I didn’t set out to be an NBA coach,” Mr. Clifford said. “I’ve just always loved my job and went where the opportunities presented themselves.”
There are a few simple sounding things that have helped guide him to his current position, Mr. Clifford revealed.
“It starts with finding a profession you have a passion for,” he said. “I go to work every day and I’m excited by it and challenged by it.”
It’s also important to focus on each and every task you encounter. You need to take pride in what you produce each and every time, Mr. Clifford said. When you take pride in your work, others will take notice.
Next you need to be able to handle the good and the bad. It’s never easy to accept bad news, but it is a fact that life doesn’t always give you exactly what you want or how you want it, regardless of what profession you’re in, Mr. Clifford said.
“How you deal with adversity is a big part of life,” he said. “Throughout my career I’ve been fired four times. It’s never easy but you have to pick up and move on.”
But success is not a plateau but an ever-evolving goal. ”You need to strive to continually evolve,” he said. “It’s not always easy in this world but you need to be ready to jump at the opportunities that present themselves.”
Along with success there are always drawbacks as well. Some sacrifices will have to be made, even as the head coach of an NBA franchise, Mr. Clifford said.
“The demands of the job will affect your personal life and your family time,” he said. “That’s the biggest negative. It’s the kind of job where you can’t just half do it. It takes a lot of your time and you have to be prepared for that.”
As head coach you’re always under the microscope of the fans, your employers and the media, Mr. Clifford said.
“There’s nothing else I could do to make the kind of money I do at something I love,” he said. “Dealing with the reality of what it is is a big part of being able to move on and do better. You don’t get all of the great things without all of the bad things.”
Taking the helm of a team, at any level, is a test of leadership. It involves establishing credibility with your players and setting a direction for the team, Mr. Clifford said.
“The detail parts are so important,” he said. “Coaching, to me, at any level, is hard. The difference is this: If you’re coaching at the high school level, you’re the best coach that guy has ever played for. By the time you get to the NBA, they’ve played for a lot of great coaches.”
Standing out among great coaches isn’t easy. Despite the challenges, Mr. Clifford is certain that it’s a challenge he’s willing to accept.
“It’s great,” he said. “It’s something you never take for granted. There are times when you’re driving home and you’ve just seen the brilliance of Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard and you have to think this is the best job in the world.”
contact Richard Creaser at firstname.lastname@example.org