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The Commons
Photo 1

Randolph T. Holhut/The Commons

Daniel Paille of the Boston Bruins talks with reporters last week at the High 5 Adventure Learning Center in Brattleboro.


Students get some leadership advice from a Bruin

Originally published in The Commons issue #267 (Wednesday, August 13, 2014). This story appeared on page C4.

At the end of September 2010, the Boston Bruins were preparing for the 2010-11 National Hockey League season — and trying to get rid of the bitter taste of blowing a 3-0 lead to the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference semifinals of the Stanley Cup playoffs as only the third team in NHL history to lose a seven-game playoff series after winning the first three games.

So the Bruins came to the High 5 Adventure Learning Center, on the Austine School campus in Brattleboro, for two days of team-building exercises. It wasn’t the only reason the Bruins won a Stanley Cup, but the Brattleboro trip did play a role in building up the mental toughness, resilience, and team chemistry needed to win a championship.

High 5 has worked with the Bruins to provide specialized, team-building programs ever since.

Daniel Paille, a left winger, was starting his second season with the Bruins when they came to High 5, and the experience definitely stayed with him. He was in Brattleboro last week to assist with High 5’s Edge of Leadership Summer Program for high school students.

According to High 5, Edge of Leadership “helps young people discover and refine their leadership skills and then use them effectively in their own lives, schools, and communities. Students and teachers participate equally in the program and all participants are coached to unlock their own potential.”

Students from Keene (N.H.) High School, Princeton (N.J.) Day School, Manchester (Conn.) High School and Youth Service Bureau, Lincoln-Sudbury (Mass.) High School, and Essex (Mass.) Agricultural and Technical High School are participating in this summer program.

High 5’s executive director, Jim Grout, said that Paille’s participation in the program “raises the bar quite a bit about kids believing, ‘maybe there is something to this leadership and team building.’”

Paille, 30, has scored 79 goals and assisted on 80 others in his eight years in the NHL, and has promised to help create public service messages and engage in development and fundraising support for High 5.

“When we came here four years ago, we didn’t know what to expect,” Paille said. “But we definitely bonded as a group by the end. For me, having been through the process, I think I can relate a positive experience to the kids and have them relax and enjoy the experience.”

Whether he was holding the belay line or carefully making his way across the high-wire rope bridge, Paille was having as much fun as the students. But he knows there’s a purpose to the fun. He says the experience of Edge of Leadership takes teens “who are quiet and not overly confident and brings them out of their shells. It pushes you past your limits.”

Paille said he and his wife have enjoyed hanging out in Brattleboro and are looking forward to more visits. “It was definitely an easy decision to come here,” he said.

BST wins Vermont Swim Association Championship

• After two days of strong swimming and statewide competition at Upper Valley Aquatic Center in White River Junction, the Brattleboro Swim Team recently captured the Vermont Swim Association Division II Championship.

Fifty-five swimmers from BST came away with a team total of 1,356.5 points. Competing against 19 other teams, BST ended the season by winning the Division 2 state title and finishing fifth overall.

The Brattleboro Swim Team begins practicing the Monday after school lets out. This gives only them six weeks to prepare to compete at the Southern Vermont Swim League Championship and the Vermont Swim League State Championship meets. The majority of the BST swimmers swim only these six weeks over the course of the year, unlike teams which swim year-round.

To accomplish what this team has done this year “is almost unbelievable,” according to BST assistant coach Chris Brewer. Even more impressive: every BST swimmer who participated in the state meet turned in a personal best time in at least one event.

The coaching staff — Head Coach Dan Morse and assistants Beverly Wright, Diana Pimer, and Brewer — have come together over the past two years to help each and every swimmer reach their highest potential. Each coach brings their own style of coaching to the pool deck, and this allows the coaches to meet the needs of all swimmers.

At the BST awards ceremony Aug. 4 at the Kiwanis Shelter at Living Memorial Park, the coaches had high praise for the team. Achievements were noted for Andrew Brooks, Matt Brooks, Ben Cooper, Matthew Dulmaine, Trevor Fay, Lillian Fisher, Anna Gaskill, Calvin Gould, Eva Gould, Will Hill, Owen James, Isabelle Magbie, Kali Taylor, Willem Thurber, and Cameron Wright.

The team is losing two accomplished swimmers: Ben Cooper and Anna Gaskill, who graduated high school this year and are no longer eligible to swim in the league.

Cooper was 6 when he started BST and will attend and swim for Hamilton College in the fall. Gaskill has been swimming with BST since she was 5. She will attend and swim for Colby-Sawyer College.

According to Coach Chris Brewer, “As a coach, what is incredible to see is the strides and growth we see over such a short, six-week season from all swimmers. They come to practice and work hard. I am so proud of each and every swimmer.”

Hadley Field’s light saga appears over

• The decision came too late for the baseball season, and the schedule has already been set for the football season, but the Hadley Field sports complex at Bellows Falls Union High School will finally be able to use its lighting system.

The Westminster Development Review Board recently issued BFUHS the last zoning permit it needed for the lights, ending a long-running saga that had kept the lights off.

Longtime Westminster resident Alvin Southwick, who died in 2011, had donated money to the school to put up a lighting system for Hadley Field’s baseball diamond and football field, as well as new scoreboards at all the BFUHS fields.

The lights were installed in 2012. Soon after they were turned on, Ruth Gale, whose home is about 50 yards away from the baseball field, objected to the lights on the grounds that they were too bright and shone inside her home.

Her complaint set in motion a comedy of errors for the school and the town. It turned out the project had never received a required Act 250 permit. The initial zoning permit from the town was revoked.

The contractor, who apparently never secured all the permits it needed to install the lights, admitted it never fully tested the lights for glare, neither did it test the soil that the light poles were built on. The field was closed briefly before the start of the 2013 football season before the structural integrity of the light poles was tested and found safe.

Under the final Act 250 permit, the Hadley Field lights cannot be used more than 46 nights a year; they must turned off by 11 p.m.; they cannot be mounted more than 70 feet from the ground; and they must have visors to deflect the light and reduce glare.

So, unless something else happens between now and next spring, we will see night baseball at Hadley Field, and next fall, Friday Night Lights for football.

Leagues forming at Brattleboro Bowl

• Brattleboro Bowl on Putney Road will start putting together its bowling leagues at the end of August and start rolling away after Labor Day.

Don’t think that you have to be a great bowler to be in a league. Brattleboro Bowl’s handicap system makes bowling fun and competitive for all levels of bowlers.

Brattleboro Bowl offers free learn-to-bowl clinics on Friday, Aug. 22, from 6 to 9 p.m. Bowlers at every skill level can reach Brattleboro Bowl at and 802-257-1177.

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