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The Commons
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Sports

Bigelow accepts UConn scholarship offer

Originally published in The Commons issue #434 (Wednesday, November 15, 2017). This story appeared on page C1.



Brattleboro Union High School pitching star Leif Bigelow made it official on Nov. 8, when he signed a letter of intent to play baseball for the University of Connecticut, starting in the fall of 2018.

But first, his mother had to show up. She was a few minutes late to her son’s signing event at American Legion Post 5, but Lisa Jablonski would not have missed the moment for anything.

“I’m so proud of him,” said Jablonski. “He’s very devoted to baseball, and he worked so hard to get this far.”

She and her family joined her son’s friends and teammates from BUHS and Post 5, a couple of his former youth baseball coaches, and other well-wishers in the Post 5 banquet hall.

Bigelow, a senior at BUHS, is now poised to achieve his goal of playing collegiate baseball for a Division I school.

“I went to a few showcases throughout high school and my dream was always to play college baseball,” he said. “Last year, UConn contacted me and I went on a couple visits, they offered me a scholarship, and about a week later I accepted the scholarship. I’ve been committed for about a year and my plans haven’t changed to go there. Now it’s going to be official, so it’s pretty special.”

Jablonski said Bigelow will be the fifth person in his family to attend UConn, but he will be the first to receive a full athletic scholarship.

“I didn’t really have a dream school,” Bigelow said. “I just wanted to go somewhere that had good baseball and I didn’t really want to go too far from home, so it’s a perfect match.”

The reputation of UConn’s baseball program was enhanced by the breakout season of Houston Astros center fielder George Springer.

UConn’s all time home run leader (he hit 46 from 2009 to 2011), Springer hit .285 with the Astros during the 2017 regular season, with 34 home runs and 85 RBIs, then won the Most Valuable Player award in the World Series with five home runs as the Astros defeated the Dodgers. He is good with the glove too, as Springer showed in the World Series why he is considered one of the top center fielders in the American League.

Bigelow, a 6-foot-3 righthander who also plays shortstop, says he knows the odds of making it to the big leagues, let alone playing in a World Series game, are long.

Right now, he says his fastball tops out at 85-88 mph, “although I haven’t thrown with a radar gun lately.” His slider and off-speed pitches are also works in progress, but they have been effective in his high school and Legion baseball starts.

But, for now, Bigelow is savoring what he called “the biggest accomplishment I have achieved so far in my baseball career.”

“I want to represent this great town, state and school well in the next four years as a Husky,” Bigelow said in his prepared remarks. “Thank you to all my friends, teammates and family for pushing me to be the best possible teammate and player. Playing with you guys for the past 10 years has built a brotherhood that will never be forgotten”

But the biggest thank you was left for his mom. “I would be nowhere as close to where I am now without you. You shaped me into the best possible person I could be and that deserves endless thanks. I hope to make everyone proud and I cannot wait to tear it up on the field this coming year.”

Terriers fall in football finals

• When Fair Haven and Bellows Falls met during the regular season on Oct. 13, it was a shootout and the Slaters barely escaped with a 35-34 win.

The top-seeded Slaters and the No. 4 Terriers met again on Nov. 11 at Rutland’s Alumni Field, this time with the Division II state football championship on the line, and Fair Haven was determined to get out to a fast start and keep their foot on the gas pedal until the end.

Fair Haven did that, and then some, as they rolled past the Terriers, 46-20. Slaters quarterback Cam Colutti ran for four touchdowns and threw for two more TDs as they racked up 575 yards of total offense. Running back Aaron Szabo carried the ball 24 times for 212 yards and a touchdown, and wide receiver Brandon Parker caught two touchdowns.

The Slaters got out to a 26-0 halftime lead with a good mix of running and passing. Colutti finished off three drives with three quarterback sneaks, and finished the fourth scoring drive with a 78-yard screen pass to Parker.

To the Terriers’ credit, they didn’t throw in the towel after the pummeling they got in the first half. Instead, they scored on their first possession of the second half, a 60-yard drive capped off by a 34-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Logan Cota to running back Shane Clark.

Clark scored twice more — on a 62-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Griffin Waryas, and a 40-yard run. Unforuntately for the Terriers, the Slaters responded to each touchdown with one of their own, and BF could not make a significant dent in Fair Haven’s big lead.

BF finished with 324 yards of offense, 240 of them compiled in the second half. Cota threw for 84 yards, while Waryas threw for 111. Clark had 91 yards of rushing and 146 receiving yards for the 8-3 Terriers.

It was a disappointing end for the Terriers, but they are primed for another playoff run in 2018. While they will lose Cota and Clark to graduaton, BF’s solid core of sophomores and juniors who made significant contributions on both sides of the ball are expected to be back.

North-South game is this Saturday

• The Vermont football season ends with the 17th annual North-South Senior All-Star Football Game on Saturday, Nov. 18 at Middlebury College. Brattleboro”s Isaiah Gilbeau and Durin Hoyer will play for the South squad, along with Jared Zobkiw, Shane Cota, and Shane Clark from Bellows Falls.

Hoyer, a 5-6, 210 pound linebacker/offensive lineman, and Gilbeau, a 5-11, 210 pound offensive/defensive lineman, were part of the Colonels’ squad that finished 2-7 with wins against Mount Anthony and Spaulding.

Zobkiw, a tackle, was a stalwart on the BF offensive line, opening holes for Cota and Clark.

The game, which features the top seniors from Vermont’s 31 high school football programs, kicks off at 12:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students, and will be available at the gate starting an hour prior to game time. All proceeds benefit the scholarship and grant programs of the Vermont chapter of the National Football Foundation.

The game also serves as an audition for the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl to give the Vermont coaching staff a chance to see the prospects in person.

More records for ‘Real Bill’ Kathan

• ‘Real Bill’ Kathan, the self-proclaimed World Exercise Champion, has had a busy fall filling up the record books with eclectic athletic feats.

In September, the 65-year-old Dummerston native ran a mile along Route 12 in Keene, N.H., in 6 minutes, 38.37 seconds as he balanced a baseball bat on his finger.

In October, he took three walks up the winding trail that leads to the top of Wantastiquet Mountain in Hinsdale, N.H.

The first walk on Oct. 16, he balanced a pool cue on his fingertip and made it up the 2-mile trail in 51 minutes. Two days later, with a baseball bat balanced on his fingertip, he got to the top in 37 minutes. On Oct. 19, he balanced a 7-iron golf club on his fingertip and reached the summit in 51 minutes, 30 seconds.

“The trail was slippery in the morning from the river fog, so it was tough going,” Kathan said during a recent visit to The Commons.

Since, as the kids say, it didn’t happen unless you have the pictures, you can watch some footage of Kathan’s Wantastiquet walks at www.wmur.com/article/man-claims-to-have-set-world-record-while-walking-up-mountain-in-hinsdale/13053455.

Then, on Halloween, Kathan walked from the parking area at the start of the Wantastiquet trail along the Connecticut River in Chesterfield, N.H., to the Putney Food Co-op, once again, balancing a baseball bat on finger. The 8.6 miles of walking took 2 hours, 48 minutes.

Kathan says t he Guinness World Book of Records and Ripley’s Believe It or Not have both been notified of this fall’s athletic feats, along with the video documentation to back them up.

A member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Vernon, Kathan says his secret for fitness is a simple one — “exercise and trust in the Lord.”

Save your spot at Ward’s Cove

• The Windham Sailing Club is accepting applications for sailboat moorings for the 2018 season. There is a limited number of mooring spots available for small sailboats at Ward’s Cove on Harriman Reservoir in Wilmington. A moderate fee is assessed to cover associated costs.

Those interested in applying can visit www.windhamsailingclub.org for more information and an online application. Applications are processed on a first-come, first served basis.

The club reminds everyone that Harriman Reservoir is owned by Great River Hydro, LLC, and all users are expected to comply with their written rules and regulations.

Get ready for the Turkey Trot

• A longstanding tradition in Brattleboro, the annual Turkey Trot is a run/walk event held each Thanksgiving Day, with a 1-mile kids’ run at 9 a.m., followed by a 3-mile run at 9:15 a.m.

Both courses are out-and-back on Upper Dummerston Road, starting and ending near the Brattleboro Country Club. There’s no entry fee, but you must pre-register by 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 23, if you want to be officially timed. There is no race-day registration.

Participants can pre-register online at www.redcloverrovers.com. Check-in time on race day is between 8 and 8:45 a.m. Runners are asked to come early and allow extra time to navigate the busy BCC parking lot.

Once again, runners are asked to bring a non-perishable food item to donate for the Groundworks Collaborative Food Shelf. Food will be collected at the bib pickup point, and taken to Groundworks after the race. You can learn more about the food shelf, and make a donation online, at GroundworksVT.org.

Strollers are welcome, but dogs are not. The road will be open, so runners and walkers need to keep to the left and be aware of traffic. For more information, contact Katherine Innis at profkitty@gmail.com or Deena Chadwick at deenabydesign@gmail.com.

Senior bowling roundup

• After Week 10 of the fall season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League, Team 5 (31-19) is now in first place, with Team 7 (30-20) just one game back in second place. Team 3 is now tied with Team 1 for third (both 28-22). Team 2, Team 8, and Team 9 (all 25-25) are tied for fourth place, followed by Team 10 (24-26), Team 6 (20-30), and Team 4 (14-36).

Josie Rigby had the women’s high handicap game (261), while Carole Frizzell (670) had the high handicap series. Bob Wistrom had the men’s high handicap game (288), while Robert Rigby had the high handicap series (691). Team 5 had the high team handicap game (904) and Team 3 had the high series (2,574).

Robert Rigby (669) had his second straight 600-plus series with a pair of 200-plus games (232, 257). Josie Rigby (578) had her second 500-plus series with a high game of 235. Wistrom (536), Peter Cross (524), Marty Adams (512), Warren Corriveau Sr. (542), Fred Ashworth (524), and Charles Marchant (520) joined Josie in the 500-club. Wistrom (222), and Marchant (203) both had 200-plus games.

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