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Not-for-Profit, Award-Winning Community News and Views for Windham County, Vermont • Since 2006
Life and Work

Vernon girl helps her AAU basketball team win a national championship

Ari Harrison of Vernon was having a great sophomore year with the Brattleboro Colonels girls’ basketball team until injuries cut her 2011-12 season short.

Harrison says she’s determined to make her junior season on the court more successful. Part of her preparation for the 2012-13 high school season is playing AAU basketball, something she’s done since she was in the fifth grade.

This summer, Harrison played for the Mass Frenzy team that competed in the AAU College Showcase and the National Girls Basketball Tournament held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla.

After nine days of top-level competition, Mass Frenzy came away with the 11th Grade Division I Classic National Championship.

Having had a taste of what it is like to win a championship, Harrison said she hopes to bring what she has learned from the Frenzy to BUHS.

“The most valuable lesson I learned at the Nationals is that it is not the individual, it is the team,” she said. “You need to stick together, have heart, and believe in each other.”

That was important for the Frenzy as the team battled through injuries and a grueling two-game-a-day schedule in Orlando.

Mass Frenzy is one of the top AAU programs in New England. Team founder and head coach Ralph Loos said he is proud that nearly all of the girls who have played on the western Massachusetts-based team since it was started in 2004 have gone on to play college basketball.

“With our high school age group, we focus on having basketball help enhance the higher education goals of our players,” he said. “We want to be sure that basketball helps them reach their goals athletically and academically.”

Never too old...

• George Whitney, a retired veterinarian, took up running at the age of 80 to get himself into shape. Now 93, he still jogs three miles every morning.

If you want to know how he did it, come to Brooks Memorial Library in Brattleboro on Saturday, Aug. 18, at 13:30 p.m. for a discussion of his recent book, Come Jog With Me.

Whitney served as a captain in the Army’s Veterinary Corps during World War II and ran a small animal veterinary practice in Orange, Conn., for nearly 50 years before retiring. After the death of his wife, Dorothy, in 2008, he moved to Brattleboro to live with his daughter, Lee.

He is the author of four books, This is the Beagle, The Health and Happiness of Your Old Dog, A Time for Action, and Animal Anecdotes. He also co-authored several books with his father, Leon F. Whitney, and blogs about running, and other topics, at http://docgeorgewhitney.blogspot.com.

Whitney describes Come Jog With Me as “a book from an older runner to older non-runners,” and he firmly believes that running flushes toxins from the body, improves overall health, and extends one’s lifespan. Coming from a 93-year-old, it’s tough to argue that point.

Cyclists to tackle Dirt Road Randonnee

• Hundreds of bike riders from all over the country and beyond will converge on the farm fields of Deerfield, Mass., on Saturday, Aug. 18, for the Deerfield Dirt Road Randonnee.

Known as D2R2, the event is a fundraiser for the Franklin Land Trust, a local nonprofit that works with landowners to protect farms, forests, and other natural resources in the region. It provides riders with the opportunity to experience first-hand the benefits of land conservation as they ride through some of the most scenic and historic landscapes in western Massachusetts and southern Vermont over pavement, backroads, and dirt trails.

D2R2 riders can choose from four distances: 40 mile, 100K, 150K, and 180K. The 40-mile Green River ride is flat and about 50 percent dirt roads, and is a great way for families or those looking for a slower pace to participate. The 150K takes about as much time as 100 miles on pavement, with lots of hills, while the 180K is one of the hardest rides in the country and strictly for the hard-core.

Riders can register by contacting the Franklin Land Trust at 413-625-9151, or by going to www.franklinlandtrust.org. Meals, snacks and cold drinks are included with registration.

‘Bump your Rump’ at Grafton Ponds

• If you’re looking for a more intense cycling experience, Grafton Ponds Outdoor Center will host its second annual “Bump Your Rump” six-hour mountain bike race on Saturday, Aug. 25.

This cross-country mountain biking race measures competitors’ endurance and skill; the more laps completed, the higher the bragging rights. The course is five miles long and located throughout the single track and ski trails within the Grafton Ponds trail network.

Registration opens at 7 a.m. and the race will begin at 9 a.m. Register online at BikeReg.com. Racers can ride on their own or create relay teams of up to four people. Registration for the race is $50 per person, which includes a barbeque lunch after the race. Awards will be given to the female and male contestants with most laps completed. The event is open to all ages and is co-sponsored by Grafton Ponds and West Hill Shop of Putney.

CRVBL roundup

• Last weekend was the final weekend of the regular season for the Connecticut River Valley Baseball League.

The top two playoff spots are settled. First place Chester topped the Newport Polar Bears, 8-2, on Sunday to give the Crush a 13-3 record. At 12-4, the Claremont Cardinals clinched second place when the Ludlow Athletics forfeited Sunday’s game.

There is still a battle between the Keene Black Dawgs and the Walpole Sky Blue for third place. Keene (9-6) got by the Saxtons River Pirates, 9-8, in 12 innings, while Walpole (8-7) won by forfeit over Ludlow. Keene is scheduled to play at Walpole on Aug. 15 in the final game on the CRVBL schedule. A Keene win gives the Dawgs sole possession of third, while a Walpole win forces a tiebreaker.

With the forfeits, Ludlow fell to sixth place with a 6-10 record. Newport is fifth at 8-8. Saxtons River, the Putney Fossils, and the Brattleboro River Rats are all tied for seventh at 5-11. On Sunday, Putney beat Brattleboro, 4-3, to create the three-way tie.

The CRVBL playoff tournament starts this Friday evening with games at Hadley Field (BFUHS) and Walpole, N.H. at 6:30 p.m., and at Barnes Park (Claremont, N.H.) and Black River High School (Ludlow) at 7 p.m. Eight teams pair off in four best-of-three game series on Friday and Saturday. The four remaining teams will meet in two semi-finals on Sunday (11 a.m. at Walpole and Hadley Field), with the League championship game scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday at Walpole.

Softball roundup

• The Division 2 playoffs were held last week in the Brattleboro Area Men’s Softball League, and In Pursuit 365 won the championship last Wednesday.

In Pursuit won a 17-16 slugfest over Westmoreland Auto on Aug. 6 to open the double-elimination tournament. The following night, In Pursuit got by Zooters/Green Mountain Creamery, 4-2, to clinch a spot in the title game.

Roadhouse Bar, which lost their Aug. 6 opener 13-12 to Zooters, then battled back to beat Westmoreland Auto, 18-11, on Aug 7, and edged Zooters 14-13, on Aug. 8 to reach the championship game.

In Pursuit then took care of business and beat Roadhouse, 10-1, for the title.

The Division 1 playoffs began last Thursday, and the Brattleboro Elks and the Moose were the winners in the first night of play. Still to come are the Division 3 and 4 tournaments.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #165 (Wednesday, August 15, 2012).

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