In girls soccer: Rangers rout Enosburg in season opener

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Rangers junior Karamae Hayman-Jones prepares to send the ball deep into Hornets territory in Friday's win. Apart from playing air-tight defense, Hayman-Jones pitched in with an assist in the Rangers’ impressive season opener.  Photo by David Dudley

Rangers junior Karamae Hayman-Jones prepares to send the ball deep into Hornets territory in Friday’s win. Apart from playing air-tight defense, Hayman-Jones pitched in with an assist in the Rangers’ impressive season opener. Photo by David Dudley

copyright the Chronicle September 10, 2014

by David Dudley

Tyrah Urie scored three goals to lead the Lake Region Rangers to an impressive 7-0 victory against the Enosburg Falls Hornets Friday.

The heat and the humidity didn’t slow the Rangers a bit. Through the first ten minutes of play, they played sticky defense, consistently pressuring the Hornets.

Rangers Coach Brad Urie was pleased with his squad, who held the Hornets to only four attempts on goal throughout the entire game.

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In boys baseball: LR Ranger Messier delivers perfect game

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Matt Messier delivered a perfect game victory to the host Lake Region Rangers on Wednesday.  Messier would strike out the side three times among his 12 total Ks on the day as the Rangers went on to win 4-0 and improve to 8-5 in boys DII play.  Photo by Richard Creaser

Matt Messier delivered a perfect game victory to the host Lake Region Rangers on Wednesday. Messier would strike out the side three times among his 12 total Ks on the day as the Rangers went on to win 4-0 and improve to 8-5 in boys DII play. Photo by Richard Creaser

by Richard Creaser

ORLEANS — Lake Region’s Matt Messier performed a rare feat on Wednesday afternoon, retiring all 21 Peoples Academy Wolves in order, including 12 strikeouts.  His perfect game came with more than a little help from his teammates.

“I’ve been around baseball for 28 years, and I’ve never been part of a perfect game,” Lake Region Coach Eric Degre said after the game.  “It’s just incredible to be around this…this aura.”

While credit goes to the pitcher, without the help of his teammates, that perfect game would not have resulted in a win for the Rangers.  Clutch hitting and spectacular fielding all contributed to the historic moment, Coach Degre said.

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In girls softball: Rangers run wild in win over Winooski

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Michelle Thibeault pitched a complete game gem as the host Lake Region Rangers downed the Winooski Spartans 13-3 on Tuesday afternoon.  Thibeault didn't allow a single base runner through the first three innings while notching seven strikeouts in the game.  Kalah Poginy mans centerfield in the background. Photo by Richard Creaser

Michelle Thibeault pitched a complete game gem as the host Lake Region Rangers downed the Winooski Spartans 13-3 on Tuesday afternoon. Thibeault didn’t allow a single base runner through the first three innings while notching seven strikeouts in the game. Kalah Poginy mans centerfield in the background.
Photo by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle May 7, 2014

by Richard Creaser

ORLEANS — An aggressive running game, a sterling effort by pitcher Michelle Thibeault, and big innings with two-out rallies helped the Lake Region Rangers defeat the visiting Winooski Spartans on Tuesday afternoon. With the win the Rangers improved to 2-3 in Division II play after opening the season on a three-game losing skid.

The Rangers would strike first in the home-half of the first inning. Megan Menard started off the scoring with a single and stolen base before Alyssa Royer plated her. A pair of steals and a passed ball later, Royer would also come around to score giving the Rangers a 2-0 lead.

“The running game is a big part of our game,” Royer said after the game. “When we can move up the bases like that it puts us in a position to score when we get hits.” Continue reading

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War on Poverty: Fifty years later schools are the battleground

Lisa Grout is a social studies teacher at North Country Union High School in Newport.  She has a perspective on both poverty and how poverty affects student outcomes.  Photo by Richard Creaser

Lisa Grout is a social studies teacher at North Country Union High School in Newport. She has a perspective on both poverty and how poverty affects student outcomes. Photo by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle January 22, 2014

Editor’s note:  The following story is the first in a two-part series on the link between poverty and success in school.

by Richard Creaser

On January 8, 1964, President Lyndon Baines Johnson declared in his State of the Union Address an “all-out war on human poverty and unemployment in these United States.”

Fifty years later, the war rages on with the nation’s public schools as the battleground in this epic struggle.

“As a history teacher, I just can’t help but see that this isn’t anything new,” said Lisa Grout, a social studies teacher at North Country Union High School.  “At times, it has been described as a racial divide, but really it’s something else — it isn’t a war on poverty, it’s a war on the poor.  We need to rid ourselves of this myth that anyone can do whatever they want to do if they really want it.  Our system just isn’t balanced evenly that way.”

In fact, the system appears to be heavily weighted against students from poor families.

A direct link between low household income and student achievement is known in the educational system as the achievement gap.  The evidence is most readily appreciated by examining student performance on the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) scores as tabulated by the Vermont Agency of Education.  Agency data for the reporting period of 2011-2012 for North Country is especially telling, although it’s important to consider that NECAP tests are only administered to juniors at the high school level.

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In girls soccer: Tigers stun Rangers with 2-0 upset win

LR girls soccer Menard

Lake Region’s Megan Menard (center) finds herself surrounded by Middlebury jerseys during Wednesday’s DII playdown game at Lake Region. The type of smothering coverage Menard encountered on this play from Tigers Gabrielle Ingenthron (left), Katherine Holmes (right) and Claire Armstrong (background) symbolized the intensity of Middlebury’s play. Photo by Richard Creaser

by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle 10-25-2013

ORLEANS — Coming into Wednesday’s DII playdown game, October 23, Lake Region (12-2) and Middlebury (2-12) appeared to be at polar opposites of the spectrum.  The host Rangers averaged nearly three goals per game and had been shut out only once this season, and that by the DIII powerhouse Peoples Academy team.  The Tigers had struggled to find the back of the net all season, having been shut out ten times including nine straight games to finish off their season.

All of Middlebury’s games this season have been against DI or DII schools.  Lake Region played two DII schools this season in Lyndon Institute and Lamoille Union with its other 12 games coming against DIII and DIV opponents. Continue reading

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In Barton: Shooting strikes the heart of two communities

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Carlton Bickford of Glover pled innocent to first-degree murder in the shooting death on Friday of Rachel Coburn of Barton.  Photo by Joseph Gresser

Carlton Bickford of Glover pled innocent to first-degree murder in the shooting death on Friday of Rachel Coburn of Barton. Photo by Joseph Gresser

by Tena Starr

NEWPORT — Carlton Bickford, 76, a retired electrician and well-liked longtime Glover resident, shambled into court in shackles Monday and pled innocent to first-degree murder in the shooting death on Friday of 72-year-old Rachel Coburn of Barton, who Mr. Bickford told police was his “girlfriend.”

Mr. Bickford, who has health and hearing problems, could not initially hear the court proceedings, and arrangements were made for a hearing device before the arraignment continued.

He will be held without bail, although public defender Jill Jourdan argued that he has a wife at home, children in the community, no prior criminal record and should be released on strict conditions and a $100,000 bond with $10,000 down.

The evidence of guilt is great, Judge Howard VanBenthuysen said as he ordered Mr. Bickford to return to prison in St. Johnsbury, where he will be held pending resolution of a case that has flatly shocked all those who know the accused and the victim.

What Mr. Bickford told police about what happened on Friday, the day of the shooting, is sometimes confused.  More than once he allegedly said he was worried that Ms. Coburn wanted to end their relationship, and if he couldn’t have her no one would.  He also said he feared Ms. Coburn would turn him in to police for threatening her, or for attempted murder, although he did not explain why she would accuse him of the latter.

He said there had never been violence between the two until that day.

Ms. Coburn, 72, worked in the cafeteria at Lake Region Union High School for about ten years.  Before that, she and her late husband, Lewis, owned Barton Cleaners until 2002 when it closed.  She’s described as a happy, hard-working, young-at-heart person.

“She was a really warm and friendly woman,” said Nicole Libby, Lake Region’s food service manager.  “She always had that smile on her face.  She was looking to try to make people happy.  She was a very thorough worker, and she had a wonderful, close relationship with a lot of the students.  A lot of the kids are really devastated by this.  She had a way of connecting with kids.

“Everybody is just floored,” Ms. Libby said.  “I had a great time working with her.  It just isn’t real.  She was one of those happy people; she just wanted to live life.”

Mr. Bickford turned himself in to the Lyndonville Police Department Friday afternoon, allegedly saying he had just killed his girlfriend with a shotgun following an argument.  He said he had then tried to kill himself, but only managed to graze his shoulder.  He allegedly told police they would find Ms. Coburn’s body in her house, along with two bullet holes in the ceiling from his unsuccessful attempt to shoot himself.

Both the accused and the victim have an extensive network of friends and family that is intertwined, and that has contributed to the grief and bafflement that follows the tragedy.

“It’s totally unbelievable,” said Butch Currier of Glover, who has been friends with Mr. Bickford since the 1960s.  “I’m just dumfounded.  I don’t know why, and everybody else is wracking their brain trying to think of some reason why.  I even woke up the next morning and wondered if I’d had a bad dream.  I didn’t believe it.”

Mr. Currier said he has sugared with Mr. Bickford for 20 years.  “He did all my boiling for me.  We’ve done a lot together, fished, rabbit hunted, owned property together.  I just can’t say anything bad about him.  He was always funny, always doing something to make you laugh.”

The killing was doubly painful for Mr. Currier.  Rachel Coburn was his aunt.

“Again, you can’t get anybody to say anything bad about Rachel,” Mr. Currier said.  “She was happy go lucky.  She had four kids, loved her kids, her grandkids.”

State Police Detective Sergeant David Petersen’s affidavit describes a confused and distraught man who had been crying when he showed up at the Lyndonville Police Department Friday afternoon.  It also describes an extramarital relationship that started about four years ago when Mr. Bickford was doing some electrical work for Ms. Coburn.

The relationship, which Mr. Bickford said was nonsexual and “the least of what he wanted” when it started, was apparently on the rocks and went very wrong earlier on Friday.

Shortly after Mr. Bickford showed up at the Lyndonville Police Department, Officer Brandon Thrailkill notified State Police.  Mr. Bickford allegedly told Detective Petersen that he would find Ms. Coburn’s body in her West Street home in the hallway near the cellar stairs.

“…he started to tear up and said it was the dumbest thing he had ever done in his life,” the detective’s affidavit says.

Mr. Bickford said he’d had an argument Friday morning with Ms. Coburn, with whom he’d had a romantic relationship that his wife and son were aware of.  He said the two mostly drank coffee and played cribbage.  His wife had talked to Ms. Coburn about the trouble the relationship was causing.

Rachel Coburn.

Rachel Coburn.

He’d gone to Ms. Coburn’s about 8:30 Friday morning with his usual coffee and newspaper.  An argument had ensued, but he said he thought he could work things out.  A couple of hours later he left, thinking he could “think it over and keep things clear in his mind,” court records say.

When police asked if the argument was about ending the relationship, Mr. Bickford was initially vague, saying he did not think so, but perhaps Ms. Coburn had.  Later, he indicated that his distress was due, in part, to her wish to stop seeing him, the affidavit says.

He returned later that morning with a 12 gauge double barreled shotgun, which he told police he’d taken from his son’s house so his wife would not see him taking a gun from their own house.  When police interviewed Mr. Bickford’s wife, Mary Jane, she said that the guns at their house were locked up, and she had hidden the key.

Mr. Bickford apparently made no bones about the threat of violence when he returned to Ms. Coburn’s house that morning.  He said he loaded the gun in the driveway and put it on the stove while the two continued to talk.

“When asked if he made any threats to use the gun, C. Bickford remarked something to the effect of ‘I don’t know; I probably did to the point of if I couldn’t have her nobody’s ever,’” Detective Petersen’s affidavit says.

Mr. Bickford also told police he believed Ms. Coburn was going to turn him in for attempted murder and suggested he had no alternative but to kill her, Detective Petersen’s affidavit says.

In the midst of the couple’s second conversation that morning, the phone rang.  Mr. Bickford told Ms. Coburn not to answer, but when she made a dash for it, “that’s when I shot her,” he allegedly told police.

He did not want Ms. Coburn to answer the phone because “she was going to seek help,” court records say.

“She tried to get by me once to get out the door and I wouldn’t let her and then when the phone rung I just told her don’t answer the phone,” Mr. Bickford allegedly told police.  “Visit with me.  And she made one wild dash to go to the phone.  I guess that was it.”

“No, I didn’t intend to kill her,” he said, according to the affidavit.  “But when she started threatening me with having me arrested and all of that, I don’t know, I didn’t have much choice.”

He told police that when he returned with the gun, “I didn’t know just what was going to happen, but I wanted to be in control.”

He allegedly told Detective Petersen that he had “nothing to gain from shooting Coburn and should have walked away from the whole setup.”

Mr. Bickford said he believed he shot Ms. Coburn in the abdomen and chest area from a distance of ten or 15 feet, and he did not check on her after shooting her because he knew she was dead, Detective Petersen’s affidavit says.

A babysitter at a neighbor’s house that day told police she heard two loud bangs, but did not see anything or anyone.  She said it sounded like someone was moving furniture.

Mr. Bickford told police that, at first, he had no intention of using the shotgun, but said that Ms. Coburn “ran her mouth about me using her the way I had been using her, and she was probably correct.”  He said he believed Ms. Coburn would find a way to “put him away for threatening her.”

“The lady’s dead.  I shot her and I’m guilty as hell,” he told Detective Petersen, according to the affidavit.

In a later interview that evening, Mr. Bickford told police Ms. Coburn had told him he could “get out.”

“He further noted, upon returning to Coburn’s house he told Coburn if I couldn’t have her nobody was going to,” Detective Petersen’s affidavit says.

“I was 100 percent wrong,” he told police.

Mr. Bickford frequently expressed remorse as he talked to police.  At one point, he said he would do anything to bring Ms. Coburn back, “but it was too late.”

“C. Bickford remarked he had more problems now than he did before,” Detective Petersen’s affidavit says.  It goes on to say that Mr. Bickford said he “wished he could go back and change the past.”

After the shooting, Mr. Bickford told police, he drove around Orleans and Caledonia counties for a while then went to the village office in Lyndonville, which he believed was the police station.  There he was given directions to the police station, where he turned himself in.

The murder has pretty much consumed the thoughts of many who knew the two.

“When I saw it on Facebook, I thought it was a hoax,” said Sue Squires of Glover.  “My mouth started getting wide open.  I’ve known Carlton all my life.  I don’t understand it.  He’d help you out in any way he could.”

“When you think of Carlton, you think of Carlton as a joker and with a smile on his face,” said Sharon Bickford.  “It’s such a tragedy.  You just sit here in a whirlwind trying to make something of it.

“I’ve known Rachel all my life,” Mrs. Bickford said.  “She was a nice lady, very friendly, cordial, always had a smile on her face, very personable.  She just loved life.  For everybody that knew both of them it’s an awful shock, for the whole community.”

Family and friends are simply trying to process the tragedy, Mrs. Bickford said.  “Never in a dog’s age, never, that’s not him,” she said about the charge against Mr. Bickford.

“What to hell happened?” Mr. Currier said.  “Chances are I’ll never see Carlton again.  Without a doubt I won’t.”

He said he wonders if the multiple medications Mr. Bickford took for a variety of health problems may have affected him.

Conviction on a first-degree murder charge carries a sentence of 35 years to life.

Mr. Bickford was denied the services of a public defender.  Judge VanBenthuysen said that because of his assets and income, he would have to retain an attorney himself.

contact Tena Starr at tenas@bartonchronicle.com

For more free articles from the Chronicle like this one, see our Editor’s Picks pages.  For all the Chronicle’s stories, pick up a print copy or subscribe, either for print or digital editions.

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In boys basketball: Lake Region improves to 6-0

by Harris Kinsey

copyright the Chronicle 1-9-2013

After playing three consecutive games on the road, the Lake Region boys varsity hoped to get a win at home. They played hard and came out on top 75-65 over Missisquoi Thursday night, January 3.

Drew Gallup paced Lake Region with 20 points.  Clint Provoncha and Caleb Prue added 17 points apiece to guide the Rangers.  Matthieu St. Amour of Missisquoi led all scorers with 39 points but didn’t get much help, as the other players for Missisquoi just couldn’t get it done against Lake Region’s defense.

In the first quarter Missisquoi scored first on a shot by R.J. Machia to go up 2-0. Then a steal and a layup by Drew Gallup tied the game at 2.  Then St. Amour hit a three pointer.  Missisquoi 5, Lake Region 2.

Lake Region scored again to pull within one, but St. Amour hit two more threes.  Missisquoi 11, Lake Region 4.

Lake Region then came back with strong defense and timely scoring.  The first quarter ended with the score 15-13 in favor of Missisquoi.

Lake Region came out with a great showing in the second quarter.  The first score of the second quarter came on two free throws by Provoncha to tie the game at 15.

Then Lake Region’s defense took over the quarter.  They forced turnover after turnover.  Mainly on steals, but they forced bad plays.  Their defense was so good that Missisquoi didn’t score until the 1:55 mark of the second quarter on two free throws by St. Amour.  They only hit a three and a two-point shot for a total of seven points in the entire quarter.  Lake Region turned many of those turnovers into baskets, and scored 18 points in the quarter.  At halftime the score stood at 31-22 in favor of Lake Region.

Lake Region came out in the third quarter and picked up where they left off.  Caleb Prue scored the first points of the quarter for Lake Region.  Lake Region’s defense was just as good as in the second quarter, and held Missisquoi scoreless until the 4:33 mark of the third quarter, when St. Amour made a free throw.  Missisquoi was held to 14 points in the third while Lake Region also scored 14 points.  After three quarters of play Lake Region led 45-36.

The fourth quarter turned out to be the most exciting quarter.  Matthieu St Amour took over the quarter with 16 points to lead a hard charge by Missisquoi.  However, Drew Gallup contributed ten points of his own in the quarter for Lake Region.  Caleb Prue scored the first bucket of the quarter and Alex Larose answered back a minute later for Missisquoi.  The game went back and forth the whole quarter.  Missisquoi pulled close, but Lake Region made key free throws and hit timely shots down the stretch to put the game away.  The final score was Lake Region 75,  Missisquoi 65 .

After the game LR coach James Ingalls said, “We played very well tonight.  Our calling card is our defense, and again our defense was very tough.  Our defense leads to offense for us as we like to run the floor, and tonight was no different.  Everybody contributed tonight.  It was a real team effort.”

Lake Region’s next games are January 5 at Lyndon, and then Monday, January 7, against Winooski at home.

For more free sports stories, look in our sports category on this site or subscribe to our print or online editions.  Click on this link for a full winter sports schedule.
 

 

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In LR girls basketball: Six players gone; overall outlook still good

by Harris Kinsey

copyright the Chronicle 12-5-2012

With six of last year’s players graduated, the Lake Region Union High School girls basketball team is younger this year, but the outlook for the season is still good, said Coach Mark Tinker.

“We have a lot more youth, but we still have some good players on the team,” he said.  “The only real difference is that we’re younger.”

The team has four seniors, three juniors, and two sophomores.  With some good talent on the junior varsity, the future also looks good.

“If we’re going to be successful, we need contributions from everybody,” Coach Tinker said.  “Drew Neal, Ashley Locke, and Sarah Burnham are the three with the most varsity experience.  As seniors, they need to prove leadership and contributions every game.”

The season hasn’t officially started yet, so it will take a while before each player discovers her role on the team.  The question mark this season is how they will mesh.  Coach Tinker suggested it’s his job to figure out successful groupings.

“Each of the players needs to learn their roles and how they can contribute to this team,” he said.  “I need to juggle the lineups to see which players play the best together out on the floor and be successful.”

There are some similarities to last year’s team.  “We’re not very big,” said Coach Tinker, “This is nothing new.  Our tallest player is about five-foot, eight, so we need to play with attitude, but the players on this team are capable of playing bigger than they really are.”

The team also has girls who can play at different tempos.  Some can run the floor and be a fast-break team, and some can slow the game down into a half-court set.

“It all depends on who is on the floor and how we play,” Coach Tinker said.  “We have a little more quickness than we did last year with sophomore Tyra Urie, but we still have the ability to slow the game down if we need to.  It all depends on who is on the floor.”

Asked if there are any real starts on the team, he said, “We don’t have one person on the team that can be counted on to go out there and score 20 points every game.  It’s more important this year than in the past years that we play as a team.  Winning will really need to be a team effort this year.  We have a tough schedule, but if we play as a team I think we can be very competitive.”

Lake Region has switched to Division II this year, so the girls will have a tougher schedule than in recent seasons.  The girls will play their first two games away — against relatively new Division II rival Oxbow on December 11, and at traditional rival Lyndon on December 14, before coming home to play against Oxbow in front of home fans on December 21.

“Our future teams look good,” Coach Tinker said.  “We have some players on junior varsity that could get called up for the playoffs.  The season is only a week old so I’m still going to evaluate our younger players to see who is ready for playing on the varsity.”

Coach Tinker has high expectations again this year for his team.

“We may have a tough schedule ahead, but I have a lot of confidence in my team,” he said.  “We still have the ability to go out there and win games.  As long as we play as a team, we will be successful.”

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Profile: Margaret Pitkin’s Wild Blue Yoga

by Natalie Hormilla

Margaret Pitkin of Craftsbury strikes a pose — the mermaid — in her home studio. Photo by Natalie Hormilla

copyright the chronicle June 20, 2012

CRAFTSBURY — Even if you don’t take yoga classes around here, you’re probably familiar with Margaret Pitkin.  Maybe you grew up with her in Albany, or went to school with her at Lake Region, or maybe you’ve seen the many posters of her in various asanas — also known as yoga poses — in flyers of her tacked to local bulletin boards.

Those who do know Ms. Pitkin through yoga likely know another fact:  that she’s Vermont’s first and only fully certified Anusara yoga teacher — or she was, until she gave up her license in light of Anusara founder John Friend’s very public fall from grace earlier this year.

But to fully understand the significance of such a decision, let’s back up to the beginning.

Ms. Pitkin first got into yoga about ten years ago, while attending Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she was studying geology.

“I was pretty skeptical,” she said, of yoga.  “Growing up here, I wasn’t exposed to it.  I thought it was something for people from southern California.”

Ms. Pitkin, who has the limbs of someone you just know is disciplined, says she couldn’t touch her toes when she first started.  “People never believe me when I say that.”

She took classes from Deb Neubauer, a well-known yogini who taught in the Anusara style.

“So basically I did Anusara from the beginning,” she said.

After graduation in 2004, Ms. Pitkin returned home and began attending a yoga class at the Craftsbury library.  It just happened to be an Anusara yoga class.

After about a year of being home, she began traveling back to Northampton to study with an old philosophy teacher, which Ms. Pitkin considers a cornerstone of her approach to yoga.

The following spring, she drove to Los Angeles, California, to visit her sister, Roberta, and to attend a teaching workshop taught by Mr. Friend.

“That was my first time with John Friend,” she said.  “That made me feel really solid about Anusara, because I really liked him.”  She said he was very positive and good at making people feel comfortable.

When she got back to Vermont, her yoga teacher was pregnant and needed a substitute teacher.  Ms. Pitkin said she didn’t want to do it at first, because she didn’t feel qualified and was scared of speaking in public.

“But once I started doing it, I really liked it,” she said.  “It was easier than I thought to articulate my experience.”

She began training with Ms. Neubauer in Northampton regularly, and attending many teacher trainings and immersions all over the country.

“I’d fly to Miami, California, Arizona,” she said.  She said she spent “thousands of hours and tens of thousands of dollars,” to study and train to become an Anusara yoga teacher.

“Since 2006, I’ve spent about one weekend a month traveling to some sort of training, up until about the end of 2011,” she said.  “Which was right when some of this stuff started to come out.”

The “stuff” are the allegations made by many Anusara yoga teachers and community members against Mr. Friend since the short-lived website jfexposed.com launched earlier this year.  (The site has since been shut down.)  Some are sexual in nature:  that Mr. Friend had affairs with several of his female teachers, some of whom were married; and that he formed a “Wiccan coven” with several female teachers and employees.  Some are financial:  that he froze employees’ benefits plans and gave moneymaking opportunities to members of the “coven” over others.  And some are just unprofessional:  that he was forcing employees to personally accept deliveries of marijuana at his offices, that he was showing up ranting and unprepared to the teaching workshops that cost students hundreds of dollars a pop, that he was manipulating his better known teachers by withholding opportunities that only he could make possible.  The list goes on.

“When it first came out, I had a bad feeling about it, but I wanted to wait and see,” Ms. Pitkin said.

She said she had seen him publicly shame people at workshops and that she did feel his teaching had slipped from when she first began studying with him.  She said that if anyone spoke up, Mr. Friend would bully them out of the community.

“He had so much clout internationally.  If John decided he was going to promote you, you’re made,” she said.  “The way he set up the whole power structure of the whole thing, it was like if anybody had a problem with John, it was their fault.  Like, ‘you’re not really being open-hearted.’”

Ms. Pitkin formally resigned from Anusara in May.

The Anusara yoga school was founded by Mr. Friend in 1997, and has grown to have over 1,000 licensed teachers all over the world, according to anusara.com.

“I gave up my license, which means I can’t use the word ‘Anusara.’  Technically that’s all it means.  Which, if you think about it, is … ridiculous, because that’s the only thing I’ve ever studied,” she said.

Ms. Pitkin can still teach any other style of yoga.

“Anusara yoga was invented by John Friend, or at least, it’s credited to him, and then he made it into a corporation,” she said.  “So it was a business and a style of yoga.  He trademarked the name, the idea of the Universal Principles of Alignment.”

One of the defining traits of an Anusara class, as opposed to some other styles of yoga, is the touchstone of a philosophical theme woven into the approach to each class.

Ms. Pitkin says the philosophical component is one of the things that really drew her to Anusara.  She said the physical component is powerful, and that she’s even healed injuries with yoga, but that “it’s not the piece I find absolutely indispensable, for myself.  If someone said, ‘ok, you’re going to a desert island and you only get one practice,’ that’s probably the one I’d get rid of.  I’d bring my books.”

Asked how her classes have changed since leaving Anusara behind, Ms. Pitkin said, “I think that’s still in process.  There was a real community of arrogance in Anusara that I bought into.  Like, ‘I know so much, I’ve studied so much,’ like Anusara was the best style in the world.  There was this culture of ‘I’m the best’ and John really built it that way.”

“The main thing that’s changed for me is that I’ve lost my arrogance about what I know and do not know,” she said.

She said one student “felt like my presence as a teacher has changed.  She felt like I was more humble and more respectful of people’s experience.”

She said that yoga is about release, and that it helps you see more clearly, including yourself.  She said that the changes in her life before and after yoga have been extreme.

“I was really mean,” she said, laughing.  “I feel like I was pretty shut down.  I had a lot of defense mechanism-type walls up.  How I engaged with the world was to attack it.  The amount I’ve softened is amazing.”

It doesn’t sound like the end of Anusara is the end of her yoga practice.  “If anything, it’s going to get way better.  I’m going to get better.”

She said she wants to let her whole Anusara experience fall apart, “like compost.  In order for something from the past to be nutritious for the future, it has to dissolve.”

As part of her yoga studies, Ms. Pitkin has been in a two-year-long meditation course with Paul Muller-Ortega of Santa Barbara.  She studies Neelankantha meditation, which involves “listening to a lot of teleseminars on my iPod.”  She also studies philosophy with both Mr. Muller-Ortega and Douglas Brooks, who is a professor at the University of Rochester.  This is another facet of her yoga studies, which requires a lot of time and travel.

“It’s pretty much what I do in my free time,” she said.

She said the types of philosophy she studies “both could fall under the very broad category of nondual Hindu Tantra.  In a very broad sense, it’s the basic sort of belief that there is not a separation between matter and spirit.  That there’s really only one essential thing that’s making up everything.  That all the structures of the universe are working via that same essential power, or flow of energy, or however you want to put it.”

She said nonduality is about “pulling yourself out of the duality of life — pleasure and pain — and to not be at the whims of the roller coaster of life.”

Ms. Pitkin currently teaches seven weekly classes in Craftsbury, Burlington, Hardwick, West Glover and Morrisville.  She also teaches workshops in those towns as well as Montpelier.

She said that when she first started teaching she didn’t think supporting herself from full-time yoga would be possible.  “Because I mean, look where we live.  Where are the people that would take yoga class?”

She’s been able to teach full time since this winter.  In the summer, she does still work two days a week for Annerscaping, the landscaping company owned by Anners Johnson of Albany.

She used to work landscaping full-time while still teaching classes.  “It’s taken a long time to build up, to get my name out there basically.”

She says the reality of being a successful yoga teacher is a lot of time spent not teaching, but “working on my website, answering e-mails, trying to come up with descriptions.  A lot of the work is on the computer.”

“I love teaching,” she said.  “I get a little burned out on the constant e-mail — Internet thing, but teaching is not like work to me.  I get so much out of it.”

Ms. Pitkin lives in Craftsbury with her partner, Gabriel Tempesta.  She will turn 30 in August.

She plans on doing yoga for the rest of her life.

“I’ll definitely be like 90 and still teaching yoga,” she said.  “That’s my plan.”

She’s even got a name for her new style of yoga.  “I’m calling it Wild Blue Yoga, which is just a blend of what I’ve learned.”

contact Natalie Hormilla at natalie@bartonchornicle.com

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