CLAREMONT — Another winter season has ended, and it was the best I have been involved with since joining the Eagle Times seven years ago. We are under new management with Jay Lucas purchasing the newspaper, and there are lots of new faces at the Eagle Times prepared to bring the glory back to the region with an invigorated attitude. Local sports teams keep bringing hope and excitement to our area.
It’s always a challenge to win championships and to have successful and competitive teams, but our area produced. It seems every year that more students choose not to be involved in sports. Many athletic directors and coaches struggle to field teams, but to the ones who commit to playing and pushing forward, we appreciate you more than you know, and so do your communities. There is nothing like covering teams and watching some struggle while others are successful; the ultimate reward is hoisting a championship trophy. The desire to compete is undeniable.
It was wonderful to witness the Newport men’s team under Rob Clark grab their first win in a long time. To follow the Stevens women’s team and my buddy Steve Condon to their first semi-finals appearance in almost 50 years was special.
Seeing the stands full of the Terriers’ purple in Barre was incredible. I couldn’t be happier for Coach Evan Chadwick, Athletic Director Ian Fraunfelder, and Principal John Broadley. More than one team will be returning most of their lineup for next season, including women’s teams from Newport, Fall Mountain, Bellows Falls, Springfield, and Windsor. The future looks bright.
Windsor has been to so many playoff games that I feel as if Kabray Rockwood and I are besties. He is truly one of the nicest coaches I know. Being at the “Aud” to cover Windsor basketball feels like an annual event that I should mark on my March calendar.
The fans are a topic of their own. Newport has theme days and Jeff Miller joins in with surf moves and the Stone Head. His rowdy student section has its own Facebook page in Terrier country.
The ESPN booth in Sunapee is pretty cool, and the student section and sidelines in Windsor are probably the most animated. The balcony at Stevens is often hopping. The energy the fans bring is like nothing else. There wasn’t a game I attended that had someone sing the National Anthem, and there wasn’t a pep band to be found, but the cheerleaders at Stevens, Newport, and Springfield were great. Youth games at halftime should be mandated at every school.
Covering my friends Larry Dougher and Kraig Harlow in their first year of coaching at Windsor and Springfield was memorable. Both have bright futures. But Kraig should cut down on the coffee a wee bit.
You get to know the players, and the relationships are rewarding even if every time I cover Jamison Nystrom, he gets injured. Sorry J. When I cover athletes across different sports, I get to know them and their parents fairly well. It’s a good feeling to walk into a gym and get a handshake. Thanks for covering us, whether as ticket takers, referees, dads, or scorekeepers.
To all the coaches who take the time to send me in the book or just text me a message, thank you very much. Ross still needs to be better at emails, by the way. Whether it’s Pete, Stephanie, Mitch, Tim or Matt and Ray, you are incredible, and the help is so valuable. Jim Perry’s stats are perfect.
If there is a humbler player than Maison Fortin, prove it. When players like Macie Stagner or Taylor Fellows see you at a game and take the time to come over and say hello, it demonstrates that good character is alive and well. Kiley Bundy is always eager to chat with an infectious grin.
Sydney Perry is an absolute jewel to interview; her wit and ‘look you in the eye’ confidence are just a bit intimidating. Tanner Gintoff and Cole Moore are incredibly passionate about their teammates and always pass the accolades to them. There isn’t a happier kid whose smile lights up a room like Travis McAllister, but Alyssa Paquette is a close second.
Whatever is in Sunapee’s Liz Tschudin’s water should be sold, because that young lady is like the energizer bunny in every sport I cover her in. Congratulations on being named the D4 player of the year.
There isn’t a better place to cover a game than the Barre Auditorium, but the gyms in Windsor and Claremont are my favorites. I wish the NHIAA would follow the lead of the VPA and have semi-final and championship games at a non-high school gym.
When I started covering sports, my first championship team was the Stevens Cardinals football team. They walked off the turf at the University of New Hampshire and returned to the city to a parade and enormous crowds.
We’ve made trips to so many championship games, including Fall Mountain women’s soccer, Newport football, Sunapee men’s and women’s soccer, and Bellows Falls football and field hockey. And, of course, Windsor in football, basketball, baseball, and field hockey.
I think this is the best part-time job ever, but I wish we had more people to help cover games. This season alone, I covered 49. The rest of the staff were in the stands for even more. We get everything in on time and send it to the paginators and editors to make alterations and assign headlines. I have a few folks who have shown an interest in joining our sports staff. We need help, so consider being a part of our team and send us an email at email@example.com.
I wish I could hire Doug Beaupre for his camera work. He always seems to get fantastic shots of his Cardinal teams, even some of me. (Sorry about breaking your camera, my friend.)
We have been posting teasers on Facebook to inform readers what stories to expect. The reactions have been record-breaking.
It costs money to have reporters at games. Please support our advertisers. Anyone who buys a subscription will help us provide local coverage. It amazes me how good my team of reporters and photographers is and what we accomplish with a part-time, dedicated staff, but we need everyone’s help.
I stand behind the women’s team from Mid-Vermont Christian in their decision to forfeit a basketball game. They were matched up against Long Trail with a transgender player in a first-round playoff match-up. Mid-Vermont Christian is being penalized and is not allowed to compete in playoffs because of its decision.
Hopefully smart folks will realize that what this team did was right, and cooler minds will correct this unjust punishment. I have always felt that private schools should have their own league. I think it’s unfair to stack teams. Transgender teams should have their own divisions to play against similar opponents.
Thank you to Kristie Lisai, Denise Hopta Hunter, Emily Winslow, Bill Murphy, Hannah DuBois, Doug McPhee, and everyone else who has made the sports section here at the Eagle Times something I am very proud of.
Congratulations to my friend Tom Haley of the Rutland Herald for his Vermont Media award for all his great coverage. He is truly the best at what he has done for so many years.
Finally, thank you to all of our readers for your support.
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