The games people play usually have a winner and a loser, but the thrill of success is often transitory.
What stays with you longer than the final score are the friendships made, the challenges overcome, the lessons learned.
These values tend to get tossed aside in the hyper-competitive, winner-take-all society we live in today. But these values matter, and it always makes me glad to see the young people who participate in high school sports uphold them today, and carry them on through their tomorrows.
It is not a prime year for lacrosse at Brattleboro Union High School in terms of wins and losses, but last week, both the girls' and boys' varsity teams had a chance to taste a bit of success.
• For the Colonel boys, they got their first win of the season on May 21 with a 15-4 victory over Otter Valley at Natowich Field.
The Otters looked a little sleepy after an early wake-up and a two-hour bus ride from Brandon to Brattleboro for a 10 a.m. start. The Colonels took full advantage, racing out to a 5-0 lead after one quarter and a 9-2 lead at halftime.
Otter Valley found their legs in the second half, but Colonels coach Chris Sawyer said his team maintained their poise and didn't let up.
“We've had games where we've had a three- or four-goal lead, and then we have spells where we give three or four quick goals because we lost focus,” said Sawyer, referring to an 11-10 loss two days earlier to Stratton Mountain School. “Today, we allowed ourselves the chance to win.”
Aiden McMahon and Riley Dionne scored six and three goals, respectively, to lead the Colonels, while goalie Thad Sawyer made 12 saves to end an 11-game losing streak.
“It was a long time coming,” said Coach Sawyer of the victory. “This is a feeling that we haven't had in a long time, and it means a lot. It validates the effort that this team has put into working hard and improving on a daily basis. I'm happy for these players.”
• The Colonel girls had their second taste of victory this season on May 19 with a 23-4 shellacking of Stratton Mountain School. The next evening at Natowich Field, the shoe was on the other foot as Brattleboro was on the receiving end of a 19-4 shellacking by Rutland.
Rutland scored seven goals over a seven-minute stretch of the first half to take control of the game. Ava Ferencz got Brattleboro's only goal in the first half, assisted by Sophia Mikijaniec as the Raiders led 14-1 at the half. In the second half, Willow Romo got a goal and Jenna Powers scored twice.
Loretta Cooley had four goals and two assists to lead the Raiders. Camryn Kinsman had three goals and one assist and Kathryn Moore had two goals and three assists.
Coach Sarah Armour-Jones admits that her team is young and the roster is shorthanded, but the players always work hard and they try to lift each other up and stay positive in the midst of a difficult season.
After every game, her players sit in a circle and do what Armour-Jones calls a “shout-out,” where every player says their piece about what they took away from the game, what they saw that was great, and what could be done better next time.
“We've always emphasized that,” said Armour-Jones. “We focus on the positive and try to learn something every game.”
When she asked the players if they wanted to call it a year after their last regular season game, or accept a playoff bid and take a long bus ride for a game that will likely end in a lopsided loss, the players unanimously said they wanted to play on and have one more chance to be together.
You can't help but like a team that thinks like that. You can't help but like that they are looking beyond the scorebook to the things that matter in high school sports, and in life - teamwork, camaraderie, and challenging yourself to be the best you can be.
And that's why I keep watching these games after all these years.
• Brattleboro ran into a hot pitcher in Mount Anthony's Mia Paligo, who struck out 12 and walked just two batters in the Patriots' 5-1 win over the Colonels at Sawyer Field on May 17.
The Patriots got eight hits off losing pitcher Leah Madore, who struck out 11 batters and walked no one.
Brattleboro got five hits off Paligo, as Aliza and Kayli Speno, Taylin Bauer, Brittney Wright and Brenna Beebe all hit safely.
The Colonels bounced back with a 12-3 win over Otter Valley in Brandon on May 21. Madore struck out 14 to pick up the win and helped her cause at the plate with a pair of doubles. She had a no-hitter going until the final inning, when the Otters scored their three runs.
Aliza Speno went 4-for-4 and scored three runs to lead the Colonels' attack, which pounded out 11 hits in all. Brattleboro finished the week at 7-4 and are ranked eighth in the Division I standings.
• Grace Wilkinson and Hailee Henslee had the hot bats as Bellows Falls clobbered visiting Woodstock, 23-5, on May 17.
Both hit home runs as Wilkinson went 4-for-4 and drove in six runs, while Henslee had three hits and two RBIs. Jenna Dolloph also drove in four runs. Winning pitcher Aliyah Farmer struck out four and walked four in a five-hitter.
On May 20, Bellows Falls was three outs away from a win, but the Poultney Blue Devils rallied for six runs in the bottom of the seventh to beat the visiting Terriers, 12-11, on May 20.
BF pitcher Izzy Stoodley, despite striking out 10 batters, issued a bases-loaded walk to Elizabeth Woodbury for the winning run. Woodbury had three hits for the Devils, while Laura Winter and Kaylah Bennett added two hits apiece. Farmer and Henslee had two hits apiece for the Terriers, who ended the week at 9-5 are ranked No. 2 in Division III.
• Despite a 13-1 loss to West Rutland on May 18, Leland & Gray ended the week ranked No. 4 in Division III with an 5-4 record. They'll have a lot of games to make up this week, which is the final week of the regular season for both softball and baseball.
• Twin Valley is still searching for a win. On May 21, undefeated Proctor came to town and left with a 25-7 win in five innings. The Wildcats are 0-7 on the season.
• Brattleboro swept a doubleheader from Mount Anthony at Tenney Field on May 17.
In the first game, the Colonels rallied from a three-run deficit to win, 8-5. Alex Carpenter, Willem Thurber, Turner Clews, Alex Bingham, and Jolie Glidden all had one hit. Glidden was the winning pitcher with a complete game effort.
The Colonels then mercy-ruled the Patriots, 11-1, in the nightcap. Clews drove in five runs and Bingham, who was the winning pitcher, drove in three runs to help his cause.
Brattleboro kept rolling with an 11-3 win over Otter Valley on May 21 in Brandon. The victory improved their record to 10-2, which put them into third place in the Division I rankings.
• Bellows Falls is making a habit of staging dramatic finishes to their games. Against Fair Haven at Hadley Field on May 21, Caden Haskell scored on a passed ball in the eighth inning to give the Terriers a 5-4 win.
The Slaters had a 4-0 lead after three innings, but BF kept chipping away at that lead until Haskell broke a 4-4 tie in the bottom of the eighth.
Jack Cravinho and Jamison Nystrom each pitched four innings for BF. Nystrom was the only player on either team to have two base hits. It was the 10th straight win for the Terriers, who are ranked second in Division III with a 11-4 record.
• Leland & Gray cruised past West Rutland, 15-6, on May 18. Parker Richardson and Jeremy Graves each had multiple hits for the Rebels, who improved to 4-7 overall.
Track & field
• The Brattleboro boys and Bellows Falls girls were winners in a multi-team meet at Hadley Field on May 17.
Orion Masterson captured the 1,500 and 3,000 meter runs to lead the Brattleboro boys, who won with 104 points overall. Bellows Falls was second with 83 points, followed by Mid-Vermont Christian (36), and Twin Valley (10).
Hadley Gleim, Stephanie Ager and Breanna Stockman each won two events for the BF girls, who won the event with 147 points, Brattleboro's Isabella Lonardo and Ava Whitney won two events each for the second-place Colonels (77 points). Mid-Vermont Christian was third with 16, and Twin Valley did not have enough athletes for a team score.
• At the Green Mountain meet in Chester, the Leland & Gray boys' and girls' track teams placed fourth and sixth, respectively. Hunter Fillion was runner-up in the discus with a throw of 30.56 meters, while Emma O'Brien was second in the javelin with a toss of 18.59 meters. Nick Petronic (triple jump) and Raena Sanderson (high jump) each finished third in their events.
• Woodstock edged the Brattleboro boys, 4-3, on May 17. Nathan Kim and Will Taggard won singles matches for the Colonels, while Dorian Paquette and Ben Berkson-Harvey teamed up for a doubles win.
The Colonel boys then rolled over Mount Anthony, 6-1, on May 20 at the BUHS courts. Kim, Taggard, Ty Smith, and Max Naylor all won a singles match and the doubles teams of Jackson Heller and Elias Gradinger and Berkson-Harvey and Eben Wagner swept their matches. Brattleboro ended the week at 7-5.
• The Brattleboro girls lost to Mount St. Joseph, 5-1, on May 21 at the BUHS courts. The Colonels got their only win at No. 1 doubles, where Amelia Lafland and Ava Bark beat MSJ's Maura Whitman and Tashina Forrest 6-0, 6-0. They are still searching for their first victory of the season.
• Leland & Gray is rolling toward the postseason as the Rebels beat Brattleboro, 14-4, on May 20 in Townshend. Jackson Fillion had a team-high three goals for the Rebels, while Abe Newton, Emma O'Brien, Warren Roberts and Andrew Tolbert all had two scores each. Nick Petronic had a goal and an assist, and Trevor Hazelton, Roberts and Fillion each dished out three assists for the 5-2 Rebels.