Cross-country is a sport that moves to its own beat.
While distance running demands discipline and endurance, it also demands intelligence and self-awareness.
It doesn’t take place in a gymnasium or on a playing field in front of hundreds of cheering supporters. Cross-country happens on hilly and occasionally rain-sodden trails in the woods far away from the madding crowd.
While running is often a solitary pursuit, cross-country is also about running as part of a team and finding ways to push yourself, as well as your teammates, to keep improving with every race.
And, just as it takes a special type of person to be a cross-country runner, it takes an equally special person to coach the sport.
John Dimick of Guilford announced his retirement a few weeks ago after the end of his 42nd season coaching cross-country at Brattleboro Union High School.
His boys’ teams won state titles in 1992 and 1997, but that is not how Dimick’s career should be measured. Instead, it is measured through his influence on the lives of the hundreds of girls and boys who ran for the purple and white since 1976.
Dimick was honored with a brief ceremony between games of a varsity basketball doubleheader at the BUHS gym on Dec. 22. It apparently took some doing for him to even allow this modicum of formal recognition of his long career, but his modesty should not obscure his accomplishments.
A 1967 graduate of St. Michael’s High School in Brattleboro, Dimick attended the University of Vermont and was a co-captain of the cross-country team and was also on UVM’s nordic skiing and track & field teams.
Dimick, who graduated from UVM with a B.A. in history and a minor in art in 1971, says that long distance running was important part of his life growing up in Brattleboro. It also prepared him to be part of the golden age of U.S. distance running in the 1970s.
He ran his first Boston Marathon in 1969, qualified for three U.S. Olympic Team trials. had several top-three finishes in the AAU national championships, and won the U.S. Track & Field Federation’s 10-mile championship in 1975.
During his time as a competitive runner in the 1970s, Dimick was among the top finishers in the New York, Boston, Copenhagen, and Berlin Marathons, and won the 1979 Mardi Gras Marathon in New Orleans.
In 1979, Dimick was picked as the Vermont Athlete of the Year by the Vermont Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. He was inducted into the UVM Athletic Hall of Fame in 1984 and the RunVermont Hall of Fame in 2017.
Education was as big an influence in Dimick’s life as running. His father, Everett Dimick, was principal of Brattleboro Junior High School in the 1960s. John returned to UVM in 1972 to get a teaching certificate in special education and industrial arts.
That led to a long teaching career in Brattleboro as a special education teacher for 16 years, and as a middle school industrial arts and technology education instructor until his retirement from teaching in 2009.
Dimick not only coached cross-country in the fall at BUHS for 42 seasons, he also was part of the BUHS track & field coaching staff during the spring. There is a long list of male and female distance runners over the past four decades who found success at the collegiate level thanks to Dimick’s dedication and leadership.
In retirement, John is painting watercolor landscapes and has had his work displayed around Vermont over the past couple of years. He says many of his landscapes have been inspired by the scenery of a lifetime of running around Windham County.
Over the past three decades that I’ve been newspapering in the Brattleboro area, I’ve had the pleasure of watching John and the runners he coached in action. He was unfailingly generous with his time, and made sure his runners got the recognition they deserved.
Now, it’s his turn.
• Winning is a habit, and no group of players is as accustomed to winning as the sisterhood of Bellows Falls field hockey. Several are playing varsity basketball this season, and they’ve translated another undefeated championship season in field hockey into early success on the court.
The Terriers won their first five games of the season. Granted, all five of those wins were against Division IV schools, but this BF team is shaping up into something special. Aggressive defense and consistent outside shooting have been the keys to BF’s early success.
BF’s last two games before Christmas were a pair of road wins — a 46-40 win against Proctor on Dec. 18, and a 50-20 blowout of Arlington on Dec. 21.
The Terriers led Proctor by as much as 10 points in the first half, but the Phantoms managed to put together a couple of runs to keep things close.
Hallie Dickerson led BF with 20 points. Taylor Goodell added eight points, six rebounds, and six assists. Michelle Marchica and Emily Bazin chipped in seven points each.
• Brattleboro lost a close one to Burlington, 37-36, on Dec. 22 at the BUHS gym. The Seahorses led 23-15 at the half and looked like they would run away with it, but the Colonels played much better defense in the second half and gave the fans a dramatic finish.
How dramatic? Alyssa Scherlin made a couple of baseline runners and Natalie Hendricks drained a three-pointer to put the Colonels within one point with 14.4 seconds to go. Unfortunately, Brattleboro could not get their final shot to fall for the win.
Natalie Hendricks led the Colonels with a career best nine points, while Julie Hendricks added seven points. Scherlin had six points and five rebounds, while Hailey Derosia had five points, five rebounds, eight assists, and 12 steals.
On Dec. 27, the Colonels traveled north to face Champlain Valley and were soundly beaten, 63-22.
• Leland & Gray is still trying to get it together, as they had to start the season missing several of their key players.
Against Black River in Ludlow on Dec. 18, the Rebels lost a 27-25 squeaker to the Presidents. Sidney Hescock scored 11 points for the Rebels in the loss, the first game that they had played in 10 days. Two nights later in Townshend, the Rebels lost to West Rutland, 47-27. Hescock led Leland & Gray with 12 points, while Sierra Fillion added eight points.
The Rebels then snapped their three-game losing streak with a 45-21 win at Poultney on Dec. 22. Ellie Longo scored nine points in her season debut, while Hescock and Fillion added seven points each and Arin Bates chipped in five.
• Green Mountain beat up on Twin Valley, 56-13, in the opening round of the GM Holiday Tournament in Chester on Dec. 18. Hannah Buffum led the Chieftains with 12 points. Twin Valley enters the new year with a 1-3 record.
• Brattleboro entered the holiday week with a pair of home losses against northern rivals.
On Dec. 18, the Colonels lost to St. Johnsbury, 65-62. Alex Carlisle scored 24 points to lead the Hilltoppers, while Adam Newton was the Colonels’ high scorer with 17 points.
Against Burlington on Dec. 22, the Colonels started strong, but the Seahorses finished stronger in a 64-54 victory. Khalon Taylor led Burlington with 22 points, while Tyler Millerick led the Colonels with 15 and Hunter Beebe and Newton each added 11.
• Green Mountain defeated Twin Valley, 47-38, in the opening round of the GM Holiday Tournament in Chester on Dec. 18. Zane Andrews led the Chieftains with 22 points.
In the consolation game on Dec. 20, Springfield beat Twin Valley, 57-49. The Cosmos trailed 26-17 at the half, but rallied to beat the Wildcats.
Springfield’s Damian Warner and Noah Zierfus scored 27 and 20 points, respectively, more than half of them coming in the second half. Dylan Howe led Twin Valley with 21 points.
• Rutland put a ninth-grader in goal against Brattleboro, and Kristen Pariseau got a win in her varsity debut. Pariseau made nine saves for the Raiders in an 8-0 victory over the Colonels on Dec. 19.
Rutland has 11 ninth- and 10th-graders on the varsity this season, and they provided most of the scoring as Alyssa Kennedy and Alexis Patterson had two goals each and Molly Abatiell added another. Seniors Brianna Beauchamp and Maggie Schillinger added the rest of the goals.
• Sophomore goalie Austin Wood made six saves as Brattleboro won its first game of the season, a 4-1 victory over Lyndon at Withington Rink on Dec. 19.
With no seniors in the lineup, the Colonels will have to grow up fast. Thankfully for coach Eric Libardoni, his players appear to be quick studies in terms of learning what it takes to win.
Jack Pattison and Anthony Palomba scored first period goals for the Colonels. Mason Foard and Gabe Heiden added insurance goals in the third period. Palomba also had assists on Pattison’s and Heiden’s goals.
• Brattleboro opened the nordic ski season with a multi-team meet on Dec. 15 at Prospect Mountain in Woodford.
Jakin Miller of Mount Greylock won the boys race in a time of 15 minutes, 59 seconds for the 5-kilometer course. Evan Koch led the Colonels with a fifth place finish, followed by Henry Thurber in sixth, Nolan Holmes in ninth, and Galen Fletcher in 11th. Brattleboro edged Mount Anthony, 31 to 39, to win the boys’ meet.
Brattleboro’s Sarah Gallagher won the girls’ race in a time of 18:52. Mount Anthony’s Natalie Jelley was close behind in 19:09. Liz Morse took 10th, Elery Loggia placed 13th, and Bella Takacs wound up 10th, 13th, and 14th, respectively, to round out the scoring for the Colonel girls, who were narrowly beaten by Mount Anthony, 30 to 38.
Rutland and Burr & Burton also had skiers at this meet.
• Two-time Olympian Sophie Caldwell is off to a good start on the World Cup circuit this season. The 28-year-old nordic skier from Peru, Vt., was second in the women’s 1.5-kilometer sprint event in Davos, Switzerland on Dec. 15.
Caldwell had the fastest time in qualifying at 2 minutes, 46.28 seconds. She was just 0.72 seconds off of Sweden’s Stina Nilsson’s winning time of 2:41.34 in the final.
Last season, Caldwell finished third in the overall World Cup sprint standings. She was only the second American to finish in the top three at the end of a World Cup season, teammate Kikkan Randall is the other.
Caldwell is also part of another first. She and her teammates on the U.S. nordic ski team were included in the latest Warren Miller film, Face of Winter.
It was the first time that cross-country skiers have been featured in the latest annual installment of this long-running series of films that usually showcase jaw-dropping feats on downhill skis or snowboards in some of the most beautiful places on the planet.
After Randall and Jesse Diggins combined to win the first-ever Olympic gold medal for the United States in nordic skiing at the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea, Warren Miller Entertainment decided to send out a crew to film Team USA training in New Zealand in preparation for the 2018-19 World Cup season.
If you want a little taste of the film, go to www.skimag.com/videos/the-making-of-face-of-winter-us-cross-country-ski-team to see a trailer.