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Rachel Desautels of Williston, left, will be succeeding Nancy Heydinger of Vernon as executive director of Girls on the Run Vermont. Heydinger recently announced she was stepping down after nearly two decades of leading the nonprofit program.

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Heydinger retires after 20 years at Girls on the Run

Girls on the Run Vermont (GOTRVT) founder Nancy Heydinger of Vernon recently announced that she is stepping down from her post as executive director.

Girls on the Run is an international non-profit program that educates girls ages 8 to 13 in the importance of physical and emotional health. Through running and games, it helps girls learn greater self-confidence, a stronger sense of identity, a healthier body image, and a better sense of community.

In the two decades that Heydinger has been at the helm of GOTRVT, 45,000 girls statewide have participated in the program, under the coaching guidance of 6,000 volunteers.

Heydinger brought Girls on the Run to Vernon Elementary School in 2000. The first 15 girls who participated included her daughters Katy and Caroline. The following year, GOTR started up at Academy School in Brattleboro, and quickly spread to schools all over Windham County.

Today, 152 schools in Vermont have GOTR programs.

“Her leadership and commitment to this organization will have a lasting impact on not only the girls who have participated, but the thousands of coaches who have taught the curriculum and embraced the mission,” said GOTRVT board chair Sybil Keefe in a news release.

While Heydinger, who has been executive director since bringing the organization to Vermont in 1999, is retiring, she is leaving the organization in good hands.

The GOTRVT Board announced last week that Rachel Desautels of Williston will be the new executive director, effective Oct. 1.

Keefe said Desautels “has played a vital role in expanding our program to more sites, enhancing the training and ongoing support to our volunteer coaches, and expanding our presence with the opening of a Williston office. The Board of Directors is proud and confident in Rachel’s leadership, commitment to our mission, and vision for the future of Girls on the Run Vermont.”

Desautels coached her own daughter as a GOTRVT participant when she was a volunteer coach at Williston Central School for two years. She joined the GOTRVT staff as the northern Vermont program coordinator in 2014, and was then named statewide program manager in 2017.

Heydinger said her vision was always to step down after 20 years, and that she plans to stay involved with the organization as a volunteer herself.

“Girls on the Run Vermont has a solid foundation and the timing is right for a new direction,” she said. “Our phenomenal staff, committed statewide board, and our tremendous community support add up to an organization that is highly regarded throughout the state. Girls on the Run Vermont has never been stronger.”

Heydinger also expressed thanks for the thousands of Vermonters — coaches, board members, and 5K volunteers — who have helped GOTRVT thrive.

“Every day I get to share the joy of Girls on the Run with old and new friends—people who love our mission and are passionate about helping girls to be strong and confident,” she said.

Lonardo excels at New England meet

• Brattleboro junior Maggie Lonardo finished her remarkable season with a couple of outstanding performances at the New England High School Track and Field Championships in Saco, Maine, on June 8.

Lonardo had a fourth place finish in the long jump with a mark of 17 feet, 10.25 inches. She also finished fifth in the 100 meter dash in 12.47 seconds and anchored the 4x100 relay with senior Dory Abdallah, sophomore Alina Secrest, and ninth-grader Isabella Lonardo that finished 23rd in 52.57 seconds.

Also in the girls’ meet, Bellows Falls sophomore Abby Broadley was 23rd in the 3,200 meter run in 11.37.48, while junior Jaden Luebbert was 20th in the pole vault with a mark of 9 feet. Senior Macie Streeter was 30th in the javelin (86-2), and senior Emma Lawrence was tied for 28th in the shot put (31-10.25).

In the boys’ meet, Brattleboro senior Evan Koch was 24th in the 300 meter hurdles (42.58) and 27th in the 110 meter hurdles (16.86). BF senior Reno Tuttle was 25th in the discus (129-08).

Killington gets Women’s World Cup races for 2019, 2020

• After three highly successful stops by the International Ski Federation (FIS) Women’s World Cup, it was a virtual lock that Killington would become a regular stop on the World Cup circuit.

That was confirmed last week with the announcement that the Vermont resort would keep its spot on the Women’s World Cup calendar for 2019 and 2020.

More than 39,000 people watched the 2018 Killington Cup in person, as well as a global television audience. It doesn’t hurt that Killington is one of the favorite tour stops for U.S. Ski Team superstar Mikaela Shiffrin, who has won the slalom event all three years at Killington.

The snowmaking at Killington is a plus, in FIS’s eyes. The Killington crews start making snow as soon as it gets cold in October, which is why it usually is the first resort in North America to open, and the last to close. This year, the resort was open for limited skiing until June 2.

Tickets for the 2019 event, which takes place on Thankgiving weekend, Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, go on sale Aug. 21. They will sell out quickly, another reason why FIS loves Killington. The 2018 Killington Cup set an all-time U.S. attendance record for a World Cup event.

No Vermonters in the big leagues

• Here’s an interesting tidbit from last week’s Major League Baseball amateur draft, courtesy of Peter Abraham from The Boston Globe: Vermont joined Alaska, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and Wyoming as the only states that didn’t have a player selected in this year’s draft.

The state with the most selections? That would be California, with 180 players picked by MLB teams.

Vermont hasn’t had a major leaguer since 2014, when Daric Barton last played for the Oakland Athletics. And that comes with an asterisk. Barton was born in Springfield Hospital, but moved with his family to California, where he played high school baseball. He was drafted in 2003 by St. Louis, and traded to Oakland in 2004. He played at first base for the Athletics from 2007 until 2014.

It’s tough for a baseball player from Vermont to get noticed. You rarely, if ever, see a major league scout at a Vermont high school baseball game. The spring high school season lasts about eight weeks, and the American Legion Baseball season in the summertime goes by in a flash.

That narrow window of playing time for players from northern New England is a big reason why, in the last 150 years, there have been only 38 players born in Vermont who have played Major League Baseball.

Summer track program offered

• The Brattleboro Recreation & Parks Department track and field program for ages 6 to 14 (coed) will be held on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 6 to 7 p.m. starting June 18 and running through July 18 at Brattleboro Union High School.

The cost is $20 for Brattleboro residents and $35 for non-residents. Brattleboro Area Middle School track coach Cindy Shippee will lead the program. Participants will take part in events such as dashes, long jump, triple jump, running relays, and softball throw.

Participants can choose to participate in the VRPA Track & Field meet on July 20 in St. Johnsbury. Athletes aged 7 to 15 on Aug. 31, 2019 are eligible to participate in the meet this year, unless they were a high school freshman in the 2018-19 school year.

For more information, visit www.brattleboro.org, “Like” the Rec. Dept. on Facebook, call the office at 802-254-5808, or stop by the office at 207 Main St., Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon or 1 to 5 p.m.

‘Tour de Grace’ benefits Grace Cottage Hospital

• Registration is open for the 2019 Tour de Grace Bicycle Rally, which takes place on Saturday, June 29, from 8 to 10 a.m. The scenic route is 19 miles, mostly downhill, and mostly on the backroads.

The Tour de Grace starts at Stratton Mountain Resort and ends at Grace Cottage Hospital in Townshend. The route goes down country roads, through Jamaica Village, on the Old Route 30 trail, over the Townshend Dam and through the Scott Covered Bridge.

Sturdy tires are recommended, and helmets are required. Buses will return riders and bikes back uphill to Stratton. Registration is $25 in advance, $30 on the day of the ride. The event will be held rain or shine. More information, a route description and online registration are available at www.gracecottage.org/events or call 802-365-9109.

Vernon Rec Dept. summer activities beginning soon

• Swim lessons for Vernon youth begin July 8 and continues through Aug. 1 (Monday through Thursday). If interested, contact the Rec. Dept. on Facebook, call 802-254-9251, or visit vernonvermont.org for sign-up forms.

Other Rec. Dept. events include a summer pool party and campout for kids entering grades 3-7 on Aug. 2, and a sports camp for kids entering grades 3-7 on Aug. 5 through 8 (Monday through Thursday).

Free diving lessons for kids of all ages with Alex Tyson will take place Aug. 5-8, while tennis lessons for all ages and skill levels will begin July 2 and run every Tuesday through July 30. Archery training will take place every Thursday between July 11 and Aug. 8.

Golf tourney benefits Make-A-Wish

• The 20th and final Lynch-Menard-Podgurski Make-A-Wish Golf Classic and Auction will be held on Saturday, July 13 at the Crown Point Country Club in Springfield.

Last year, this event raised $17,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Vermont, which brings the total contribution over the past 19 years to $301,000.

Signups for golf foursomes will be accepted on a first come, first serve basis at the Polish American Club on Rockingham Street in Bellows Falls, or by contacting Mike Shaughnessy at 802-380-0443 or mshags@sover.net.

The auction will be held at American Legion Post 37 on Rockingham Street in Bellows Falls beginning at 3 p.m. Event organizers are expecting nearly 100 items up for auction.

Tickets for the auction can be purchased at Post 37 on Friday July 12, from 5 to 8 p.m., or on Saturday before the auction starts. All proceeds will go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Vermont. For more information, visit www.vermont.wish.org.

Senior bowling roundup

• The Great Lakes (21-9) and Team 5 (20-10) traded places in the standings after Week 6 of the spring/summer season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League at Brattleboro Bowl, with Team MNR, Team BDR, and Team DDL (all 19-11) now in a three-way tie for third.

Team JKL stands alone in fourth (18-12), followed by Stayin’ Alive (16-14), 3 Stooges (14-16), The Dentists (11-19), Tres Amigos (10-20), Stars & Strikes (9-21) and Tornadoes (5-25).

Edna Fletcher had the women’s high handicap game (265) and series (683). Marty Adams had the men’s high handicap game (257), while Wayne Randall had the high handicap series (683). Stars & Strikes had the high team handicap game (692), and BDR had the high handicap series (1,887).

In scratch scoring, Warren Corriveau Sr. rolled games of 222, 195, and 190 for a 610 series. Adams had a 216 game as part of his 505 series, while Randall had a 192 game as part of his 545 series. Fred Ashworth had a 193 game.

Sonya Shippee (478) once again had the women’s high series, with a high game of 175. Nancy Dalzell had a 186 game, and Fletcher rolled a 173.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #514 (Wednesday, June 12, 2019). This story appeared on page D4.

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