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Longtime soccer official Eric Evans, seen here checking out an injured Brattleboro player during a 2019 playoff game, is always on the lookout for new officials for high school soccer games.

Sports

Vermont schools deal with shortage of sports officials

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.

With the start of the fall high school sports season on Friday in Vermont, we’re starting to hear about a shortages of referees to officiate the games.

It’s been a perennial problem in Vermont as more and more people are working in jobs that require longer and, sometimes, irregular hours.

Being a referee in soccer or field hockey, or a game official in football, means a significant time commitment, plus having flexibility to travel all over the state to do games. It can be tough to get out of work to officiate a 4 p.m. soccer game.

Retirements have thinned the ranks too, as have concerns about COVID-19. Running up and down a field for two hours requires a level of fitness that slowly diminishes as the years pass.

Certified high school soccer officials in Vermont get $85, plus mileage, for doing a varsity game, and slightly less for a junior varsity contest. The pay is similar for field hockey and football. But the men and women who do these jobs aren’t there for the money. It sounds corny, but most do it for the love of the game and for the many friendships made along the way.

Somehow, the schools muddle through each season, but the pool of available people to officiate games is steadily shrinking, and postponed or cancelled games will likely happen more often. That’s why the call has again gone out for more sports officials in Vermont.

The Vermont Soccer Officials Association is the place to start if you are interested in that sport. Eric Evans, the Southern Vermont assignor of officials, is the person to contact at evansvtlax@gmail.com.

For football, the Vermont Football Officials Association is the governing body. Jon Reed is the Southern Commissioner and can be reached at jonreed74@hotmail.com.

The Vermont Field Hockey Umpire Association can be reached at vtfieldhockeyref@gmail.com.

All three organizations have already held their pre-season clinics, but all are happy to talk with anyone who has the time, interest, and commitment to be an on-field official.

Dana goes for the gold in Tokyo

• Alicia Dana of Putney competed this week for the United States in Tokyo in the 2020 Paralympic Games.

This is the third Paralympics for the 52-year-old hand cyclist. In the 2012 games in London, she was fifth in the road time trial event. Four years later in Rio, she won a silver medal in the road time trial and was fourth in the road race event.

She’s again competing in the road time trial and road race events in Tokyo. She was sixth in the time trial on Aug. 31 and, at press time, she was set to compete in the road race event.

She was competing as a junior at the national level in cycling and cross-country skiing as an able-bodied athlete but, at 17, Dana had to adjust her athletic goals after she fell from a tree and was paralyzed from the waist down.

She began hand cycling in her late 20s and, in 2001, she began racing. Dana made her first U.S. Paralympics Cycling National Team in 2001 and competed at the 2002 world championships, but then stepped away from the sport for several years to raise her daughter, Willa.

Dana returned to competitive hand cycling in 2011, and has been a member of the U.S. National Team since 2012. Since her return, she won the overall World Cup titles in 2015 and 2017 and has won 10 medals in world championship events.

You may have seen Dana zooming around the back roads of Windham County on training rides on her recumbent handcycle. In the months leading up to the Paralympics, she said she was riding one to three hours a day, six days a week, either on the road or on her trainer in her garage.

As with the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, the 2020 Paralympics were delayed more than a year due to COVID-19. It has meant another year of hard training for athletes like Dana who have tried to maintain their competitive form in the midst of the uncertainty of a global pandemic.

A second tour for Claussen

• Leland & Gray Middle-High School in Townshend starts the 2021-22 school year with a familiar face in a familiar role.

Tammy Claussen is Leland & Gray’s new athletic director, succeeding Marty Testo. This is her second go-round in the job. A teacher at the school since 1990, she was the athletic director from 1991 until 2000, when she stepped aside from the position to have the second of her four sons.

The Brookfield native has been coaching varsity softball for more than two decades, and I would rank Tammy with longtime BF football and baseball coach Bob Lockerby as the two coaches I’ve covered who get the most out of their players year in and year out.

As she put it in a 2015 interview, “It’s the joy the students experience that brings me back year after year. I’m their softball mom, watching them grow as players and as people.”

Tammy has also been a physical education teacher at the school, putting her degree from Springfield College to good use. In 2007, she was named Teacher of the Year by the Vermont Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, and she has also served in leadership positions in that organization.

Besides being a great parent, coach, teacher, and administrator, she also is one of the best singers of the Star Spangled Banner I have ever heard. It’s always is a treat to hear her rendition of the National Anthem before a game at Leland & Gray.

We both started our careers in Windham County at about the same time and I am happy to see, after three decades, Tammy continuing to bring her energy and enthusiasm to one of the most important jobs in our communities — teaching students and helping them become better people in every way.

Good luck with the new gig, Tammy!

Tournament soccer returns to Ludlow

• Black River High School in Ludlow may be just a memory, but its signature fall events — the Black River Invitational Tournament and the Josh Cole Memorial Soccer Tournament — live on.

The Black River Invitational Tournament will be played under the Dorsey Park lights on Sept. 3. It features some of the top girls’ soccer rivalries in southern Vermont. Proctor, the defending Division IV champs, face Otter Valley at 6 p.m., followed by Green Mountain versus Leland & Gray at 8 p.m.

On Sept. 17 at Dorsey Park, Windsor will take on the Leland & Gray boys’ soccer team in the opener of the Cole Tourney at 6 p.m., while Proctor and Green Mountain do battle at 8 p.m. The winners meet in the title game the following night.

Black River closed at the end of the 2019-20 school year, after 82 years of existence, following a school merger vote that created the Two Rivers Supervisory Union.

The school had a long history of soccer excellence, with seven state titles for the boys, and six championships for the girls. The decision to continue these two soccer tournaments is a way of honoring that legacy.

Both tournaments were canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Their return is a welcome addition to the local soccer scene this season.

Softball tournament raises $6,000

• Shirley Squires of Guilford wrote to us a few days ago to let us know that Carson’s 2nd Annual Tournament For a Cure, a benefit softball tournament held Aug. 14 and 15 in Brattleboro, raised $6,000 on behalf of her great-grandson Carson Rhodes, a 3-year-old who has been dealing with a rare genetic condition known as non-ketotic hyperglycinemia (NKH) since birth.

The Rhodes and Squires families have been raising money for NKH research. Carson is one of only a few hundred people worldwide who have NKH. The hope is that gene therapy can help improve his life, and all the others dealing with NKH.

It’s not too late to help. Carson’s family also has a GoFundMe page that can be found by searching “Carson’s Cure for NKH” on gofundme.com.

Senior bowling roundup

• The spring/summer season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League at Brattleboro Bowl wrapped up on Aug. 26 with Team 6 (59-31), finishing with a 5-0 week to claim the season title. Team 2 (54–36), which led most of the season, held on for second. Team 4 (50.4-39.5) also had a 5-0 week to finish the season in third place, followed by Team 7 (49-41), Team 5 (46-44), Team 1 (43.5-46.5), and Team 3 (34-56).

Pat Bentrup once again had the women’s high handicap game (231), while Carole Frizzell had the high handicap series (626). Chuck Adams had the men’s high handicap game (249), while Peter Gilbert had the high handicap series (667). Team 6 again had the high team handicap game (862) and series (2,500).

In scratch scoring, Chuck Adams led the men with a 644 series that featured a 243 game. Marty Adams had a 187 game as part of his 540 series, while Warren Corriveau Sr. had a 180 game as part of his 532 series, and Duane Schillemat had a 511 series with a 187 game. Jerry Dunham rolled a 509 series.

Nancy Dalzell had the high scratch game (181), while Frizzell has a 178 games to finish with a high scratch series of 473 to lead the women. Andrea Papanek had a 171 game.

• The fall league season will be starting in a few weeks, and the Brattleboro Recreation & Parks Senior Center and Brattleboro Bowl say they will be continuing to offer the Senior Bowling League on Thursday mornings, beginning at 9 a.m.

This league is for anyone 50 years old and older and everyone from beginners to experts are welcome to join this friendly and fun bowling league. The fee is $10 for three games. For more information, contact Nancy Dalzell at 802-722-4020.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #628 (Wednesday, September 1, 2021). This story appeared on page C4.

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