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Jocelyn Hebert/Green Mountain Club

This soggy section of the Long Trail near Stratton Mountain illustrates what hiking trails in Vermont often look like in the spring.

Sports

Schools get ready for this spring’s sports season

Randolph T. Holhut, deputy editor of this newspaper, has written this column for more than a decade and has covered sports in Windham County since the 1980s. Readers can send him sports information at news@commonsnews.org.

BRATTLEBORO—Local athletes and their coaches and families can take a bow for how they got through an abbreviated winter high school sports season in Vermont.

With the exception of one COVID-19 situation that cropped up at Leland & Gray just before the basketball playoffs, all our local schools got through the season unscathed by the pandemic.

That is a big deal, especially in light of all the schools in northern Vermont that had to make early exits from the playoffs due to COVID-19.

The championship seasons of the Brattleboro boys’ hockey team and the Green Mountain boys’ basketball team were just a little bit sweeter because of the big payoff from the sacrifices that everyone made to keep the virus from spoiling their seasons.

And for all our other teams that got a chance to compete in their respective sports, they will always remember the 2020-21 winter season. From rides in buses with the windows wide open to winter’s chill, to open air locker rooms, to showing up at the gym or rink in uniform, to playing before rows of empty bleachers, to having to wear face masks during games, it was far from a normal season.

• Now, the spring season awaits. Last spring, due to the pandemic and the closure of Vermont’s schools, it was the season that never was. This spring, it looks like things will be closer to normal, with a full schedule planned for all sports.

Pitchers and catchers began practicing on March 29 ahead of the baseball season, and the softball, lacrosse, and track teams began their practices on April 5.

The spring sports season in Vermont is set to begin on April 17, and it will be a very busy day for Colonels sports on the Brattleboro Union High School campus.

The track and field team has a scheduled meet with Bellows Falls at 10 a.m. At 11 a.m., the girls’ tennis team hosts Mount Anthony at the BUHS courts, the baseball team hosts Hartford at Tenney Field, and the softball team hosts Hartford at Sawyer Field. Also on April 17, the BUHS girls’ lacrosse team will travel to Middlebury for an 11 a.m. game.

Brattleboro boys’ tennis opens its season on April 19 at Woodstock, while the boys’ lacrosse team opens its season in Rutland on April 22.

• Bellows Falls also gets going on April 17 as the girls’ tennis team hosts Rutland at 11 a.m., and the baseball team hosts Mount Anthony at Hadley Field at noon. The softball team opens its season on April 19 in Rutland against Mount St. Joseph.

BF will join Brattleboro and Leland & Gray in fielding Ultimate Disc teams. BF’s debut game is set for April 23 at Sharon Academy. Leland & Gray’s Ultimate opener is April 20 in Townshend against Mill River, while Brattleboro hosts Leland & Gray for its opener on April 26.

• Leland & Gray will again have a track team this season, and they will open at Green Mountain on April 17. The softball team also has its home opener that day, at 11 a.m. against White River Valley. The baseball team has its opener at Bellows Falls on April 22.

• Twin Valley will get its seasons started late. Softball begins on April 26, when they host Burr & Burton in Whitingham, while the baseball team gets started on May 1 at Poultney.

The first baseball game since 2018 at Baker Field in Wilmington will be played on May 3 against Stratton Mountain School. Twin Valley didn’t field a team in 2019, and the 2020 baseball season was wiped out by the pandemic.

• For fans, the rules we had during the fall season will apply — a 150-person limit at venues, with screening and temperature checks upon entry. And don’t forget your sanitizer and face mask.

Rec. Dept. outdoor venues reopen

• The Brattleboro Recreation & Parks Department announces that the following facilities at Living Memorial Park are now open for the season: Perseverance Skatepark, the Dog Park at Living Memorial Park, the Fred Harris Tennis Courts, and the Rotary Disc Golf Course. Morningside Cemetery, a favorite walking site, has also reopened.

The Rec. Dept. encourages everyone to get out and enjoy outdoor activities. In doing so, they ask that you continue to follow all COVID-19 guidelines, including wearing a mask and maintaining social distance when possible. Also, since they do not regularly sanitize or disinfect the playgrounds and park amenities, be sure you wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before and after usage.

Also, Vermont guidelines for recreational sports activities, and for youth and adult outdoor sports and leagues, have been updated, so teams may now resume practices and games for the spring season..

BOC sets 2021 paddling schedule

• Larry McIntosh of the Brattleboro Outing Club wants to let everyone know that the BOC will host 18 paddle trips, from April 24 to Oct. 9. Details will be posted at www.BrattleboroOutingClub.org under the “Summer Paddling’.

“Paddling is good for both body and soul,” Larry says. “It allows us to exercise, as well as getting into nature, away from the four walls, into a clean, safe and open environment.”

Of course, COVID-19 is still with us, so paddlers will need to be more conscious of their surroundings and actions. Mask wearing, physical distancing, and group size rules should be followed. Larry also has these tips for “pandemic paddling:”

• Car-pooling should be done only with other fully vaccinated paddlers, unless it’s with someone you live with. Avoid congested parking areas, and don’t congregate around launch and landing sites, or rest stops.

• Paddlers should also be totally self-sufficient and able to load, unload, and move your own watercraft. In the event you have to ask for help, or offer help, be conscious of physical distancing. Keep track of your own trash and recycle.

• When paddling, remember to stay at least two boat lengths from other crafts. Try not to follow closely behind another boat, since the virus could be shedding, or particles from the boater ahead may drift back on you. It’s best to paddle in a line abreast, rather in a file, one behind the other. Be conscious of the wind direction, and use it to stay healthy, and not down-wind from another paddler.

• If you are not able (or don’t know how) to rescue yourself in the event of a tip- over, and the water is deeper than your waist, paddle near the short, where you can swim or walk your boat to safety. Requiring rescue endangers both you, and the person coming to your aid, since physical distancing parameters will be compromised. And always wear a life jacket.

BOC-hosted paddle trips are free, and open to the public. Just show up with your own boat/board, and required safety gear Trips are as follows:

• April 24 and 25: Connecticut River/Hinsdale Setbacks. Meet at 9:30 a.m., Walmart parking lot (Route 119), Hinsdale, N.H.

• April 28: Herricks Cove, Bellows Falls. Meet at 9 a.m., Hannaford parking lot (south end), Putney Road, Brattleboro.

• May 5: Tully Lake and Long Pond, Royalston, Mass. Meet at 9 a.m., Walmart parking lot (Route 119), Hinsdale, N.H.

• May 12: Ashuelot River, Keene, N.H. Meet at 9 a.m., Hannaford parking lot, Brattleboro.

• May 15: Somerset Reservoir. Meet at 8:30 a.m., Coffee House, Junction of Routes 9 West and 100 South, Wilmington.

• May 19: Spoonwood Pond, Hancock & Nelson, N.H. Meet at 9 a.m., Hannaford parking lot, Brattleboro.

• June 23: Connecticut River, Brattleboro to Hinsdale. Meet at 8:30 a.m., Marina Restaurant, Putney Road, Brattleboro.

• June 26: Sunrise Paddle & Nosh, Harriman Reservoir, Wilmington. Meet at 5:30 a.m., Royal Diner, Route 9, West Brattleboro.

• June 27: North Hartland Lake, Hartford and Hartland, Vt. Meet at 8:30 a.m., Hannaford parking lot, Brattleboro.

• June 30: Connecticut River, Dummerston to Brattleboro. Meet at 8:30 a.m., Marina Restaurant, Putney Road, Brattleboro.

• July 7: Lowell Lake, Londenderry. Meet at 8:30 a.m., at the Jamaica Country Store, on Route 30.

• July 10: Gale Meadows Pond, Winhall. Meet at 8:30 a.m., at the Jamaica Country Store.

• Sept. 8: Spoonwood Pond, Hancock & Nelson, N.H. Meet at 8:30 a.m., Hannaford parking lot, Brattleboro.

• Sept. 11: Pillsbury Lake State Park, Washington, N.H. Meet at 8 a.m., Hannaford parking lot, Brattleboro.

• Oct. 3: Somerset Reservoir, Somerset. Meet at 8:30 a.m., Coffee House in Wilmington.

• Oct. 6: Harriman Reservoir, Center Section, Wilmington. Meet at 9 a.m., Coffee House in Wilmington.

• Oct. 9: Leader’s Choice (whereever the colors are peak). Meet at 9 a.m., Hannaford parking lot, Brattleboro.

Also, BOC’s annual Consignment Sale & Swap of human & wind powered watercraft is scheduled for Saturday, May 8 at a location to be announced. More information can be found on the BOC website closer to the date. For more information, contact Larry at 802-254-3666, or Lmacyak@gmail.com.

Tread lightly during mud season

• The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation and the Green Mountain Club remind hikers to help protect Vermont’s trails during the soggy months of April and May.

March was warmer and drier than usual, but mud season conditions prevail on hiking trails and will persist in many places in Vermont until Memorial Day or later. The wet soils on and around hiking trails are very susceptible to erosion so, to protect fragile soil and surrounding vegetation, some trails may be temporarily closed.

The Green Mountain Club and other trail organizations are working hard to get the trails ready and opened in time for the traditional kick-off of the season on Memorial Day weekend. Be patient and give the trails a chance to dry out this spring.

Respect the trail closure signage you see, and be sure to visit www.trailfinder.info before you head to the trails. Trailfinder can help you can find trails close to home and learn whether they are open or not. Staff will be updating trail conditions on Agency of Natural Resources lands on a weekly basis, so check back frequently.

The period of snowmelt and muddy trails varies considerably throughout Vermont depending on elevation, solar orientation, depth of snowpack, and amount of spring rainfall. Even as it warms up in town, higher elevations still hold cold, wet, snowy, and icy conditions that persist deep into spring and hikers will need better traction and warmer clothes.

A list of hikes better suited for mud season can be found at fpr.vermont.gov/recreation/mud-season or at www.greenmountainclub.org.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #607 (Wednesday, April 7, 2021). This story appeared on page C4.

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