Four local seniors have been selected to play for the Vermont team in the 68th annual Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl, set to make its return this summer after a one-year hiatus due to COVID-19.
Brattleboro’s Henry Thurber and Elijah Isham and Bellows Falls’ Jack Burke and Jack Herrington are the local representatives on the Vermont Shrine Team, which will be coached by Brattleboro’s Chad Pacheco.
The four will be among the best senior high school football players in Vermont and New Hampshire who will face off on Saturday, Aug. 7, at 5:30 p.m., at Castleton University’s Dave Wolk Stadium.
During the 2020 pandemic season of 7-on-7 football, Thurber played quarterback and free safety for the Colonels, while Isham was a lineman. Burke played at split end for Bellows Falls, while Herrington was a lineman.
For Thurber, being selected to the Shine team has extra meaning.
Tom Haley of the Rutland Herald pointed out that Thurber wrote for his player bio in the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl program about his father, Ross, spending a lot of time in the Shriners Children’s Hospital as a kid.
“My dad spent a lot of time in the Shriners Hospital as a kid. He had a leg length discrepancy and had to get surgery and spend a long time recovering,” Henry wrote. “He is my hero and I look up to him in all aspects of my life. He taught me how to work hard and be a better man. The honor of playing in this game is tremendous and especially with my father’s connection to the Shriners Hospital.”
“Ross was a great athlete at Brattleboro,” Pacheco told the Herald. “Henry is one of the best kids you will ever come across. He is all about the team.”
Henry is a farm boy, through and through. Ross and Henry’s mother, Amanda, run Lilac Ridge Farm in West Brattleboro. Henry will be going to the University of Maine this fall to study forestry.
More than 200 players from New Hampshire and Vermont, all graduating high school seniors, were nominated by their head coaches. Screening committees, chaired by the Shrine Head Coaches, selected the two teams.
The New Hampshire team will be coached by Kingswood Regional’s Paul Landry.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the teams were only able to meet remotely by state and, as restrictions are lifted, each team should be able to meet throughout the summer for practice.
The Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl has raised more than $4.5 million for Shriners Children’s Hospitals since it began in 1954.
The cruelest month?
• You almost had to figure it would happen this way.
We entered last week after seven weeks of mostly dry weather. Since the beginning of March, there have been no big rains or late snowstorms and the baseball and softball diamonds were in pretty good shape.
Then came a big nor’easter late last week, which wiped out opening day in Brattleboro on April 17 for track, baseball, girls’ tennis and softball.
Spring can always be a weird season for weather. Some of the coldest games I’ve covered, aside from being inside the meat locker that Brattleboro’s Withington Rink can feel like in mid-winter, have been baseball games in April.
Baseball and softball in Vermont in April can mean a cloudy and blustery afternoon with temperatures in the 30s and snow flurries. It can mean snowbanks just beyond the outfield fence. It is the sting in your hands when you hit a ball and the chill in your bones when you play in the field.
Then again, baseball and softball in April can also mean an 80 degree day in the sun, a gusty north wind waiting to turn a fly ball into a home run, or days of showers and postponements stacked upon postponements.
April may not necessarily be the cruelest month on the Vermont calendar, but it certainly can be the most unpredictable and variable when it comes to weather.
Senior Center tennis group resumes
• The Brattleboro Senior Center will be offering Senior Tennis on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 9 to 11 a.m., this spring for anyone 55 years old and older.
This program will be held at the Living Memorial Park Fred H. Harris Tennis Courts. This is a freelance program with no instruction and no officials. Participants must have their own equipment. All abilities are welcome.
For more information, call program leader Ruth Lane at 802-254-6772 or Sarah Clark at the Brattleboro Senior Center at 802-257-7570, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senior Bowling League returns
• After a long COVID-imposed hiatus, Nancy Dalzell, secretary of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League, says the league will resume play on Thursday, April 29.
The league is open to bowlers of all abilities over age 50. If you would like to join them, call Brattleboro Bowl at 802-257-1177 or stop by the alleys at 9 a.m. on the 29th to sign up.
Nancy says participants will still need to be masked and “hopefully, be fully vaccinated (not mandatory, but definitely preferred).” She says she has had both of her shots and is excited and ready to get the league back in action.