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Brattleboro pitcher Leif Bigelow is getting wooed by top college teams and may be coming up soon on the radar of pro baseball scouts.


Colonels, Terriers ready for football openers

Brattleboro and Bellows Falls start the high school football season this Friday night at 7.

Bellows Falls hosts Springfield at Hadley Field for the annual renewal of a rivalry series that dates back to 1914.

The game for “The Trophy” used to be the final game of the season for the Terriers and the Cosmos. With realignment, the two schools are in different divisions now, with BF in Division II and Springfield in Division III. So, the only way to continue this century-old series was to make it the first game of the year.

Last year, BF rolled over the Cosmos, 48-0, with running back Jahyde Bullard scoring three touchdowns. Bullard is back to power the Terrier offense toward another trip to the Division II playoffs. Last season, Bullard ran for 1,094 yards and 15 touchdowns.

BF made it to the championship game last season, but lost to undefeated Burr & Burton, 28-7. The Terriers and Bulldogs will meet again on Oct. 21, in a possible preview of this year’s title game.

Brattleboro opens its season on the road against Hartford. The Colonels finished 4-5 last season in the debut for head coach Chad Pacheco, and played in their first Division I playoff game since 2006, an agonizing 19-16 loss to Champlain Valley.

He has many of his core performers from last year, including his workhorse senior running back, Cheick Diakite, who earned all-State honors last season as he ran for 1,272 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Bigelow impresses at showcase

• One can’t accuse Leif Bigelow of resting on his laurels.

After being named the Most Valuable Player in the Vermont American Legion Baseball tournament and leading Brattleboro Post 5 into the Northeast Regionals, he participated in the Perfect Game Northeast Underclass Showcase from Aug. 12-14 in Northborough, Mass.

Perfect Game is an organization that runs events around the country to connect top baseball prospects to college and professional baseball opportunities. The college recruiters and pro scouts like to monitor these showcase tournaments in the hope of finding the next big star.

Bigelow, a right-handed pitcher and shortstop for the Brattleboro Colonels and Post 5 and a member of the BUHS Class of 2018, is definitely on the scouts’ radar. He’s 6-3 and 160 pounds, but he rated in the 97th and 99th percentiles for his outfield and infield throwing, respectively, at this year’s Northborough showcase, an invitation-only event for the Northeast’s top high school players in their sophomore, junior, or senior years.

On the mound, he topped out at 85 mph on his fastball to go along with a 75 mph slider and a 75 mph changeup. Bigelow was described as a pitcher with “a loose arm action with life to his fastball and the ball comes out clean.” As a hitter, he was described as having ”a smooth stroke, quality hands, and good bat speed” with a “line drive approach with some strength off the barrel and more coming.”

Last summer, Bigelow was rated as a “very good all-around prospect” and was named to the 2015 Northeast Underclass Showcase Top Prospect List. He received an honorable mention on Perfect Game’s 2016 Underclassmen Preseason All-American Team, and was lauded as much for his 3.5 grade point average as for his baseball skill.

He still has two more seasons with the Colonels and Post 5, but Boston College and Florida State have already expressed an interest in Bigelow pitching at their schools.

It’s tough for Vermont baseball players to get noticed outside New England, which helps to explain why so few Vermonters ever made it to the major leagues. The only Brattleboro native to make it to the big leagues is the late Ernie Johnson, who spent nine years as a relief pitcher for the Braves (1950, 1952-58) and the Orioles (1959) before going on to a nearly four-decade career as a radio and television broadcaster for the Braves.

It would be nice if Ernie had some company.

Higley, Pelz-Walsh named Castleton football captains

• The college football season starts this weekend at Castleton University, and two former Brattleboro Colonels will be team captains this season.

Senior cornerback Tyler Higley and senior receiver Soren Pelz-Walsh, both BUHS grads, were selected as team captains for the Castleton Spartans, along with linebacker Darren Callen.

Pelz-Walsh was the Spartans’ top receiver last season, with 60 catches for 968 yards and seven touchdowns. Higley, who was a quarterback for his first two seasons at Castleton, switched to defense last season and set a school record with seven interceptions.

The Spartans host Plymouth State on Saturday, Sept. 3, at 1 p.m.

Want to improve your fitness? Run off to the circus.

• It happens every biennium. People young and old watch the Olympics, get swept up in the excitement and awe-inspiring athletic feats, and wonder if maybe they could “do that.”

Our friends at the New England Center for Circus Arts (NECCA) in Brattleboro say their circus training might be just the thing to scratch that itch to up one’s level of fitness.

Serenity Smith Forchion, co-founder of NECCA, says that “the diversity of circus training — upper and lower body, core, fine motor skills and broad muscle movement training — offers a fun way to cross train for almost every Olympic sport.”

Most Olympians won’t ever see a big payday for their athletic prowess. But professional circus troupes, such as Canada’s Cirque du Soleil, roll out the welcome mat to these men and women.

Smith Forchion says she has worked with many ex-competitors when she and her twin sister and NECCA co-founder, Elsie Smith, were performers with Cirque du Soleil, including rhythmic gymnasts who performed acrobatic hula hooping and trampolinists who flew off the Russian swing to land on stacks of acrobats.

Circus coaches are also sought after to improve the training of Olympic competitors, says Smith Forchion.

NECCA consulting mime teacher Mario Diamond worked with Canadian ice dancers to hone their theatrical physicality, the Forchion’s original acrobatic coach Lu Yi worked with the Japanese synchronized swim team to teach them to balance and throw each other, and the English rhythmic gymnastics team sought choreographic development from an aerial dancer.

But don’t scared off by these stories of Olympic-level athletes doing circus training in Brattleboro. Students of all ages and abilities are enrolled at NECCA, with more than 60 classes a week from beginner through advanced levels.

“Circus has it all covered with teamwork and individual development, fun and fitness, non-competitive but individually challenging and, unlike competitive sports, anyone can do it at any age and to whatever level is personally appropriate,” says Smith Forchion.

There’s still time to register for the fall session that begins Sept. 6. To see a full list of classes and to register, go to or call 802-254-9780.

Senior bowling roundup

• The summer season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League ended with Team 10 (58-27) as league champions. The race for second and third place was resolved as Team 9 (51.5-33.5) finished strong to take second, nipping third-place finisher Team 4 (51-34) by just one-half game.

Team 3 and Team 8 ended up tied for fourth place with identical 49-36 records. Team 6 (42.5-42.5), was fifth, followed by Team 5 (37-48), Team 1 (34-51), Team 2 (33.5-51.5) and Team 11 (27.5-57.5).

Team 3 had the high handicap game (674) and series (1,934). Sally Perry had the women’s high handicap game (257) and Arlene Blum had the high handicap series (679), while Warren Corriveau Sr. had the men’s high handicap game (242) and Dick Cooke had the high handicap series (676).

Corriveau (215) and Marty Adams (201) had the only 200-plus games. Four men rolled a 500-plus series: Corriveau (584), Adams (573), Fred Bump (529) and Jerry Dunham (505).

Highest season averages for the women belonged to Sonya Shippee (154), Shirley Aiken (152), and Lorraine Taylor (146). Fred Ashworth (176), Corriveau (174), and Dunham, (173) had the men’s season-high averages.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #372 (Wednesday, August 31, 2016). This story appeared on page E4.

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