It’s not that often that a coach draws inspiration from their athletes to get back into high-level competition. It’s even more unusual that the return to a sport after a long absence results in medals.
Dave Johnston has been a co-coach, along with Amanda Dixon, of the Brattleboro Union High School nordic ski team for the past four years.
A retired teacher who has lived in Brattleboro since 1981, the 65-year-old Johnston used to race competitively until about two decades ago, when he took a hiatus from ski racing.
Working with the Brattleboro skiers got Johnston’s competitive juices flowing again. “Their grit and determination inspired me,” he told me during an interview last week.
Johnston got the thrill of a lifetime by placing first in his age group in the 10-kilometer freestyle race at the Masters World Cup earlier this month in Beitostolen, Norway. He was also second in the 15K freestyle race, and fifth in the 30K freestyle race.
This competition attracted 1,200 skiers, ranging in age from 30 to 93 and hailing from 25 nations. “There weren’t many Americans who medaled,” Johnston said. “There were lots of Finns, Norwegians, and Russians in these races. It was pretty exciting to be competing against them.”
Johnston won the 10K race in 25 minutes, 47 seconds. He was second in the 15K in 39 minutes, 47 seconds — just 3 seconds behind the winner, Sakari Matkainen of Finland — and completed the 30K in 1 hour, 28 minutes, and 58.9 seconds.
It was even more exciting that it was Johnston’s World Cup debut, and that it was happening during his first trip to the country where nordic skiing was born.
“The stadium in Beitostolen is beautiful,” Johnston said. “You walk through the tunnel to the starting line and hear all the fans cheering and ringing cowbells. You think of all the world-class skiers who skied there. It was all pretty special.”
North-South games wrap up hoops season
• The 2018-19 high school basketball season came to an end on March 23 with the annual Vermont Basketball Coaches’ Association (VCBA) North-South All-Star games at Windsor High School.
There were six local seniors who were among the representatives for the South in the event.
Brattleboro’s Adam Newton played in the Division I-II boys’ game and also won the VBCA 3-Point Shooting Contest for Division I-II. However, the North team won that game, 118-89.
Brattleboro’s Hailey Derosia and Lauren McKinney played in the Division I-II girls’ game, which the South won, 84-70. They had a trio of familiar faces behind them on the bench, as the Colonels’ coaching staff of head coach Paul Freed and assistants Matt LeBlanc and Meghan Pacheco guided the South to victory.
Twin Valley’s Jarrett Niles and Leland & Gray’s Sierra Fillion were in the Division III-IV girls’ game, which the South won 53-50. Leland & Gray head coach Terry Merrow assisted on the South’s bench.
Leland & Gray’s Lucas Newton played in the Division III-IV boys’ game, which the North won, 94-76.
Brattleboro junior Tyler Millerick was named to the VBCA boys’ “Dream Dozen,” as one of the top 12 underclassmen in the state.
MVL hoop all-stars named
• The Marble Valley League recently selected the girls’ and boys’ all-star teams for the 2018-19 season.
Brattleboro was well-represented on the A Division girls’ teams, as guard Hailey Derosia was a first-team selection, while guard Rachael Rooney and forwards Lauren McKinney and Alyssa Scherlin were named to the second team.
Taylor Goodell and Halle Dickerson of Bellows Falls were named to the C Division first team, while teammate Abbe Cravinho was a second-team selection.
Also named to the C Division second team were Arin Bates, Sierra Fillion, and Sydney Hescock of Leland & Gray, and Maria Page, Jarrett Niles, and Sadie Boyd of Twin Valley.
On the boys’ teams, Brattleboro’s Adam Newton was a first-team selection in the A Division, while teammates Tyler Millerick, Hunter Beebe, and Jack Price were all picked for the second team.
In the boys’ C Division, Leland & Gray’s Lucas Newton, Ryan Kelly and Isaac Wilkinson of Bellows Falls, and Dylan Howe of Twin Valley were all selected to the first team. Selected to the second team were Dylan Clark of Bellows Falls and Izaak Park and Jack and Colin McHale of Twin Valley.
Unified basketball season begins
• While the winter season of basketball is done, it’s now time for Unified high school basketball, and Brattleboro and Leland & Gray will again be fielding teams this spring.
Special Olympics Vermont, together with the Vermont Principals’ Association, created Unified basketball as a spring sport three years ago. Brattleboro won the inaugural state championship in 2016, and Leland & Gray started their team the following year.
Unified basketball brings together players who may have physical, developmental or cognitive disabilities with peer partners. There are three players and two peer partners on the floor, and the flow of play is designed so that the peer partners facilitate while the players are given the maximum opportunity to shoot and score.
The games are fun to watch, especially seeing the way that the players and peer partners interact on the court.
Brattleboro played their opening game at Burr & Burton on March 21, and lost 20-18. The Colonels’ home opener is set for March 28, at 4 p.m., against Otter Valley in the BUHS gym.
Rec. Dept. hosts Pickleball tournament
• The Brattleboro Recreation & Parks Department will be hosting a multi-level Pickleball Tournament on Saturday, March 30, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., for players 50 years old and older.
According to Sarah Clark at the Rec, they have enough players for the tournament, which will be played in the Gibson-Aiken Center gymnasium. If you want to get on the waiting list, contact her at 802-257-7570 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The entry fee is $25.
Clark said this tournament is being held to not only help spread the word about pickleball, but also to help raise money to make some facility improvements.
Topping the list is the installation of 24 open weave solar sun-controlled shades on rollers in the Gibson-Aiken gymnasium to help reduce the glare on the gym floors.
Some of the money will go toward repainting the Living Memorial Park tennis courts so that there will be four Pickleball courts, along with portable nets and a storage container for this new equipment.
Pickleball, which has been written about in this space, is a sport played indoors or outdoors on a badminton-sized court with a tennis-like net, paddles, and a hard-plastic perforated ball similar to a Wiffle ball, usually in a doubles format.
Both fun and competitive, the game is played much like tennis, with special rules to encourage rallies. It’s easy to learn and playable by all ages, although it ismost popular with folks over age 50.
Pickleball is said to be the fastest growing sport in the United States, with more than 3 million participants. There are now games for senior players at the Gibson-Aiken Center every weekday.
Clark invites folks to stop by on March 27 and check out the pickleball action. More information about the Rec’s offerings for spring can be found at www.brattleboro.org.
Sign up now for lifeguard training
• An information meeting for lifeguard/open water training and re-certification will take place on Sunday, April 7, at 1 p.m., at Guilford Central School.
This one-hour meeting will set up the course and the hours and days it meets. The goal is to get a sufficient number of lifeguards certified for the summer months when town pools and beaches open for the season.
There is a deposit of $50 to hold a spot for the training. Candidates for training must be at least 15 years old by this summer, and be able to swim at least 500 yards. Training is tentatively scheduled for the end of May around the Memorial Day weekend.
For more information, contact Beverly Baldwin Wright at email@example.com or 802-257-4902.
Senior bowling roundup
• Week 12 of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League at Brattleboro Bowl saw Team 3 (43-17) solidify its hold on first place, while Team 10 (38-2) trails in second place. Team 9 (36-24) jumped up into third place and Team 4 (35-25) moved up to fourth. Team 7 (33-27) is fifth, followed by Team 2 (32-28), Team 5 (30-30), Team 8 (26-34), Team 12 (25-35), Team 11 (24-36), Team 6 (20-40), and Team 1 (19-41).
Shirley Aiken had the women’s high handicap game (256), while Sally Perry had the women’s high handicap series (686). Marty Adams had the men’s high handicap game (292) and series (740). Team 12 had the high team handicap game (891) and series (2,568).
In scratch scoring, Adams led the men with a 635 series that included a 257 game. Duane Schillemat rolled a 232 game as part of a 624 series.
Josie Rigby led the women with a 202 game that was part of a 546 series. Jerry Dunham (573), Robert Rigby (557) and Fred Ashworth (552) were the only men with 500-plus series.
Montgomery rolled a 255 and and 237 game as part of a 685 series to lead the men. Joining him in the 600 club was Duane Schillematt, who had a 244 game as part of his 628 series. Warren Corriveau Sr. (556), Wayne Randall (542) and Charlie Marchant (532) all had 500-plus series.
Jerry Dunham had a 242 game to round out the top three men, while Aiken had a 199 and Perry rolled a 180 game to complete the women’s top three.