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Randolph T. Holhut/The Commons

Joy Young lets a shot fly during a recent practice of the BUHS Unified Basketball team.


Unified Basketball debuts at BUHS this spring

This spring season, there is a new sports team at Brattleboro Union High School.

Unified Basketball is debuting as an interscholastic sport at BUHS. It is part of a pilot program with the Vermont Principals’ Association, in partnership with Special Olympics Vermont, that created Vermont’s first interscholastic Unified Sports basketball league.

The BUHS team will play other schools around the state, and the season will culminate in a tournament in May. Fair Haven, Rutland, and Springfield are the other schools participating.

Special Olympics Unified Sports pairs up athletes who may have physical, developmental or cognitive disabilities with peer partners who compete together in various sporting events. The goal is bringing together students with and without disabilities on the same team, and shattering stereotypes and creating communities of inclusion in the process.

In unified basketball, there are three players and two partners on the floor. The flow of play is designed so that the players are given the maximum opportunity to shoot and score.

Thirteen students are on the inaugural BUHS Unified Basketball roster: Kayli Nicholson, Benjamin Thomas, Joy Young, Zach Smith, Jareth Chamberlin, Cody Hellus, Jacob Cochran, Brandon Scanlon, and Kayla Parro are the players, while Taylor King, Kelsea McAuliffe, Michael Scherlin, and Laol Short are the partners.

Todd Bell, a member of the Integrated Learning Services team at BUHS, is the coach. He is being assisted by Perrin Scott.

Bell said he was a Special Olympics coach for several years. “I really enjoyed it, so when Chris (Sawyer, BUHS Athletic Director) approached me about this, I was very interested,” he said.

The team has been practicing since the beginning of March, and Bell said he was impressed with the skills of the players.

“They’re doing a good job playing uptempo basketball, and I love how they’re coming together as a team.”

Bell said he was also impressed with the level of participation. “It was just word-of-mouth at first, and I was worried we wouldn’t have enough people. But once we get going, the kids will see the value in being part of this program.”

Brattleboro was to have played Fair Haven in its first game, but Bell said that school has had trouble getting a team together and had to cancel three times. Brattleboro’s next scheduled home game is against Rutland on April 25 at 4:30 p.m. at the BUHS gym.

Terriers win baseball opener

After a relatively easy winter, there was hope that the spring would start off as tranquil. Instead, snow, rain, and cold has made a total hash of the early season school sports calendar and has prevented teams from getting outside to practice and play.

Not having time outside makes a big difference in the quality of play for baseball and softball teams. In Vermont, most ballplayers are used to “gymball,” batting and fielding inside a gymnasium until the fields dry out. But there’s no substitute for getting outside and seeing live pitching and fielding balls off of dirt and grass instead of wooden floors.

A good example of this came last Friday, when Leland & Gray and Bellows Falls played their first baseball game of the season at Hadley Field — a game that the Terriers won, 14-1.

The game was to be played in Townshend, but Leland & Gray’s baseball field was still too soggy to use. Bellows Falls was more than happy to host the game instead, allowing the Rebels to be the home team.

Hadley Field was in splendid shape for early April, but a cloudy, windy, and sometime snowy 40-degree afternoon made for some brutal conditions for players and fans alike.

According to Leland & Gray coach Eric Durocher, it was only the fourth time that the Rebels had been outside, and it showed.

“We weren’t ready to play, and that is really not characteristic of Rebels baseball,” he said.

By contrast, BF coach Bob Lockerby said his team had been able to play four scrimmages and get about 18 innings of live baseball outside.

“You need to have the time outside,” he said. “There is so much that you just can’t work on in the gym.”

It helped the Terriers that their pitching ace, senior Zach Streeter, was in prime form for his first start of the season. He pitched four innings and gave up just one unearned run on two hits and one walk. He struck out nine batters.

Jacob Metcalf finished the game, throwing three innings of one-hit shutout baseball with six strikeouts.

Rebels starting pitcher Max Cramp looked good in the first two innings, but the Terriers eventually got to him and roughed him up for a total of nine runs in the four innings he worked.

Of the 12 players that played for BF in the opener, seven of them made their varsity debut. Nonetheless, every player in the lineup for BF reached base at least once, and all but one scored a run.

Brady Illingworth got two hits, drove in two runs, and scored three runs, while Metcalf drove a couple of runs in his debut and Clayton Groenewold had two hits and two RBIs.

Leland & Gray’s only run came in the fourth inning, when Nick Morrow reached on a bunt single and scored on a base hit by Walter Hamer.

Rec. Dept. offers spring break fun

• The Brattleboro Recreation & Parks Department. is offering several activities for the spring break week from April 18-22.

There will be additional open gym and game room hours, from 1:30 to 5 p.m. at the Gibson Aiken Center. This is a free, fully supervised program for any school-aged child. Along with basketball, there is foosball, air hockey, bumper pool, and arts and crafts.

The Rec. Dept. and Brattleboro Bowl will co-sponsor a Bowling Day on Tuesday, April 19, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Brattleboro Bowl on Putney Road. An adult must accompany children under 10. The cost per person is $7 and includes two games, shoes, plus a hot dog and a drink.

On Wednesday, April 20, at 10 a.m. at West River Park on Route 30, the Rec. Dept. will present “Pitch, Hit & Run,” a baseball program for youth ages 7 to 14. Participants hit, field, and throw for a composite point total. Local champions will advance to sectional competitions in the area. Sectional champions advance to team championships hosted by all the Major League Baseball teams. For more detailed information, check out www.mlb.com/pitchhitrun.

The week culminates with the annual Super Bike & Fun Day, presented by the Rec. Dept., Windham County Safe Kids, and Brattleboro Police at the Living Memorial Park Multi-Purpose Area on Saturday, April 23. (Rain location is at the Nelson Withington Skating Facility). This program will run from 10 a.m. to noon with activities including bike registration, fun stations, and bagels donated by The Works.

Staff from Rescue, Inc will be there to help with bike tuning; children should bring their bikes. Windham County Safe Kids will be selling helmets at $10. Anyone over the age of 16 years will need to pay full price for the helmets. The sponsorship of the reduced cost for helmets was made possible by the Kiwanis Club.

If there are special needs or more information required for any of these activities, call the Recreation & Parks Department at 802-254-5808.

Brattleboro Mallers off to a strong start

• The Brattleboro Mallers 9th and 11th grade Boys AAU basketball teams recently played for the King of the Mountain Championship in Rutland.

The 11th-graders opened up with an 82-68 win over Footprintz Academy from Queens, N.Y. Ian Fulton-Black from Brattleboro and Jake Blaisdell from Keene, N.H., led the way with 23 points each.

Brattleboro then took on a Champlain Valley high school AAU team, the CVU Hawks. The Mallers came away with a 57-41 victory. Tyler Martin netted 14.

The Albany (N.Y.) Warriors didn’t put up much of a fight in a 69-44 loss to the Mallers. Fulton-Black scored 21, Brendan Emond had 16, and Tucker Llewelyn chipped in with 13.

The championship game was a rematch with the CVU Hawks, and Brattleboro would rally to win, 61-51. This was the 11th-graders’ third championship in three weeks and they now have a 10-0 record. The team is filled out with Calvin Lafland, Tony Martinez, Dylan Grover, and Troy Felisko.

• The ninth-graders scored a season high in their opening game win 65 to 41 over the Middlebury Mayhem. BAMS eighth grader Chris Frost led the way with 14 points. In the second game, Brattleboro fell to the Glens Falls (N.Y.) Tribe 66 to 40. Hunter Beebe had a season high 16 points.

Next up was the Lake George, N.Y., Elite club, and Brattleboro eked out a 39-37 win. Beebe would score the Mallers last six points, clinching the win with two free throws with only 5 seconds left. Logan Patnode made four three-point baskets.

The team would capture two easy wins in the quarter finals and semi-finals over the Chester Stampede (61-24) and the Rutland Demons (56-35). Tyler Millerick and Dave Erunski each had 21 points, respectively, in the wins. The Mallers and the Tribe faced off in the championship game, and the Tribe won, 65-43. Beebe led the way again with 16 points. The ninth-grade roster includes Adam Newton, Jackson Buettner, Elliot Bauer, Ben Power, and Jack Price. Both teams are coached by Dave Arakelian.

SEVCA’s Fools’ Run participants raise money for homeless

• On Saturday, April 2, Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA) held its first “Couch-to-5K” event, named the Fools’ Run in celebration of April Fools’ Day.

SEVCA’s Wellness Committee conceptualized the event as a way to encourage SEVCA employees and residents of the surrounding community to get active and live healthier. Despite the threat of showers, around 30 participants arrived ready to run or walk, some dressed in festive costumes for their trek up nearby Henwood Hill.

The event also served as a fundraiser for SEVCA’s housing assistance program, which helps prevent homelessness among at-risk families and individuals and re-house those who are homeless.

More than $2,000 was contributed by sponsors and participants associated with the event. SEVCA typically provides housing assistance to over 400 Windham and Windsor county households per year, with funding raised through a variety of private and public grants and contributions.

Kimberly Eckhardt of Landgrove crossed the finish line first, with a time of 26 minutes.

Townshend 5K Family Run/Walk is May 7

• Enjoy a morning of good, healthy fun in the great outdoors at the seventh annual Grace Cottage Hospital “Spring into Health” 5K on Saturday, May 7. The family-friendly 5K starts at 8:30 a.m. on the Townshend Common. The race will be timed for competitors, but is open to all, whether you run, walk, skip, or stroll. The course is 3.1 miles of mainly flat, paved road along Grafton Road (Route 35).

After the race, there will be awards, raffles, and general merriment. There is also a free Fun Run for kids 8 and under on the Common at 9:15 a.m. The event, held rain or shine, wraps up around 10:30 a.m.

Register online for an early bird rate of $15/13 & up (free for those 12 and under!) at www.gracecottage.org/events or by calling 802-365-9109. Online registration closes at noon on Wednesday, May 4. The first 100 to register will receive a free performance t-shirt. You can register at the race for $20, but no guarantees on getting a t-shirt.

This event, sponsored by People’s United Bank, raises funds for patient care at Grace Cottage Hospital. For more information, visit www.gracecottage.org/events or call (802) 365-9109.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #352 (Wednesday, April 13, 2016). This story appeared on page F4.

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