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Nikki Kimball and The Long Trail

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Today I had the pleasure of briefly saying hello to Nikki Kimball and captured a few pictures as she attempts to break a speed record on the Long Trail in Vermont.

The current record for running the Long Trail is held by Jonathan Basham, who covered the 273-mile distance in four days, 12 hours and 46 minutes. The women’s record is more than seven days.

The Long Trail is the oldest long-distance trail in the United States. The Long Trail follows the main ridge of the Green Mountains from the Canadian border to the Massachusetts-Vermont line as it crosses Vermont’s highest peaks.

I caught up with Nikki as she reached Jonesville and crossed Route 2 on her way up Camel’s Hump. She took a brief rest for food and drink, discussed the route with her team and took time to answer some questions of the film crew doing a documentary about her Long Trail adventure.

 

 

Here’s a quote from the documentary website.
http://thelongtrailfilm.com/
” ‘The Long Trail’ is a new documentary film starring Nikki Kimball, a world-renowned ultra runner, and her attempt to break a speed record on Long Trail, running 273 miles faster than any man or woman has ever done.  Nikki Kimball’s story is an inspiring one that will touch upon many subjects from the role of women and girls in professional sports to the science behind the human body’s ability to run great distances.  In addition to providing an inside look into contemporary running culture, this film will give viewers a perspective on human—and specifically female endurance—not seen before on public television, informing us all, regardless of our sex, of our true potential and inspiring us to reach it.”

Below is a picture of running pacer Dennis Ball rinsing a pair Nikki’s running shoes in the Winooski River before she arrives at a Route 2 crossing.

Nikki’s brother Bill joins her at the base of Camel’s Hump. I wish her the best and hope she achieves her goal. You can view some other pictures at Crowley Photos:

UPDATE: Nikki Kimball finsihed “running” the Long Trail in 5 days 7 hours 42 minutes and set a female record.

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August 15th, 2012 at 4:15 am

A Message for the Lady Solons

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Times have changed. Today we get instant news from Tweets, Facebook messages, blogs and online news. Times Argus Sports Editor, Anna Grearson, is amazing at keeping us in the action by sending online updates of current games around the area. She also takes notes of the game she’s watching for an article she’ll publish later that night.

Some of us still enjoy holding the daily newspaper in our hands, turning the pages and reading the local news. I save articles that really grab me and reread them many times. I want to share one such piece written back in 1988 by Times Argus Sports writer Stephanie Carter.

Stephanie graduated from Twinfield High and attended Norwich University, Duke University and North Carolina State. She was a reporter for the Times Argus fresh out of college. She was a newswoman for Associated Press, Burlington Free Press, press secretary for Governor Dean, acting commissioner for Vermont Dept. of Tourism and currently communication director at UNC.

In the late 80’s she wrote a weekly column for the Times Argus titled “Beyond the Score.” No, I didn’t steal the title. She gave me permission to use it. I want to continue her emphasis on sport outside the game highlighting player accomplishments and fan reactions.

The Times Argus Sports section back in the 80’s was much larger than today. It had 4 pages of local sports news. There were five sports writers; Tom Brown, Dave Moody, Greg Titus, Pete Hartt and Stephanie Carter. Moody, Titus and Hartt were also photographers. I always looked forward to reading the weekly columns; Wednesdays – Touching Base by Pete Hartt, Thursdays – Beyond the Score by Stephanie Carter and Fridays – An Idle Mind by Greg Titus. Each had a special focus and celebrated everything from racing, pro ball to high school sports. Today we have Jim Higgins – Local Angle on occasion and Anna Grearson – On Deck.

It’s playoff time and the #11 Montpelier High girls had a big win over #6 U32 Wednesday night.  They are traveling to #3 Fair Haven on Saturday to compete in a quarterfinal game.

Good Luck Lady Solons and here’s a message for you before the game. Read on!

A reprint from 1988 of Stephanie’s column in Beyond the Score. It’s as meaningful today as it was back then!

Thursday February 25, 1988  Barre-Montpelier Times Argus

“Savoring The Anticipation – And Memory – Of A Playoff Game” by Stephanie Carter

The Olympic Games were worlds away from Vermont last Saturday, but the pre game anticipation, tension and nervous stomachs of important competition were present in eight gymnasiums throughout the state as 16 girls’ basketball teams were gearing up for quarterfinal action.

Outside was a springlike thaw with cool temperatures and plenty of sunshine. But inside, amidst banners and corsages and fans clad in school colors, a brew of nerves simmered.

Inside the Locker Room

Twenty-five minutes before game time and ankles are being taped, warm-up jackets being put on and taken off. It’s players trying to act like it’s just another game after the coach just threw up in the bathroom.It’s drilling each other on which offense is “two” and which defense is “C”. It’s remembering where you go on the press.For seniors on the higher seeded teams, it’s realizing that this is the last time they’ll play on their home court. It’s the worry that this may be the last game of their career, period.

In the Stands

Nervous parents lean forward snapping gum and wringing hands. They’ve traveled to their kids’ games since sixth grade, trying to be supportive, while not over-emphasizing the importance of sports. It’s wanting their kids to do well, but wanting them to know they’re still O.K. if they don’t win, knowing that the next 24 hours will be a whole lot brighter if they do win. It’s wondering what their kids are going through. Younger brother and sisters have come along to cheer, not certain what “quarterfinal” means, but glad to be out of the house on a Saturday afternoon. Classmates arrive in a variety of dress and mood Many wear school colors and some carry signs. Others sit back cooly for the ride. They all hope that the team wins; it’s nice to have something concrete to cheer about at school.

Back Inside the Locker Room

Fifteen minutes before game time, and for most players, it’s a struggle between knowing that basketball is not the end-all and be-all of life, yet knowing that for the next hour-and-a-half, it will be. It’s wanting to give 100 percent and worrying that you’ll have a 65 percent game that just won’t cut it. It’s daydreaming about making a jumper at the buzzer to win the game by one; it’s the nightmare that you blew it at the foul line and lost the game. It’s intense sweat in a clean, ironed uniform, looking for tape to cover barrettes. It’s looking around at teammates who have been a major part of your life for four years, knowing that they won’t be next year. It’s realizing that you got only three hours of sleep last night, but you’re far from tired.

Out on the Floor

Twelve minutes to game time and one player emerges from the locker room to find a pack of gum, and then retreats. Another struts out to pick up the usual warm-up ball. The door closes again. Then the team comes out for real to receive the biggest pre-game applause they’ve ever heard. As they splinter into two lanes for layups, it’s wondering if this is the final warm up or does it go on from here? It’s trying to block out the microphones and wires of radio, ignoring cameras, while getting a charge that they’re there. It’s players stretching and giving adrenalin-filled “high fives.” The visiting team has traveled with it’s familiar tunes and plays them now for motivation and the comfort of continuity. They have never seen this particular gym before. For the home team, it’s wanting to go out in style, winning the final game on the same floor that has been the site of running laps and sit ups and scrimmages and new plays and pulled muscles for years. It’s sneaking glances at the other team, trying to pick out the star, convincing yourself that the six footer isn’t that tall.

The Final Huddle

Hands, freezing and shaky, join before the opening buzzer. Mouths drop open to reassure each other, but no one can understand what anybody’s saying (it’s just too noisy) until the final “Let’s Go.” Then, everybody knows what to do.

Vermont high school basketball tournaments are a chance for players to be stars. For most of those who participate, organized basketball will never again be a part of their lives, and they will never be in such good physical condition. But for 16 teams, a Saturday quarterfinal is a reward for hard work and learning about teamwork. It’s a chance to be in the spotlight.

For all of its pressure and mixed messages, a basketball quarterfinal is something that won’t ever be forgotten. It is one of those frozen moments, and no matter how far from the high school gym your life takes you, that game won’t ever be lost.

 

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March 9th, 2012 at 4:11 am

Firsts and Lasts

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Vermont Girls Ice Hockey Coaches Association announced the 2011-2012 Lake Division All Star Selections today, February 27. Player of the Year went to outstanding player Abby Marmer of Burr & Burton Academy and Coach of the Year goes to Mike Vasseur of Harwood Union. But it was the selection of 1st Team Goalie that got my attention. Mary Cain gets that honor and sets another first for the season. She is the first goalie to get the award without recording a win during the season. It just demonstrates the respect coaches around the state have for her game and how incredible she is in the net. Earlier in the season she had 71 saves in one game – a first for any goalie in Vermont. She had 747 saves this season – another first. Her save percentage is around 0.878.

Cain was also named to the Annual Essex Rotary All-Star Hockey Classic which will be played on March 17th in Essex. It was also announced that she is an Academic All Star with a GPA above 3.5. Congratulations Mary! You’ve had an amazing career as a high school goalie and we’ll look forward to watching you play in the All-Star Game in Essex in March.

Mary Cain makes a stabbing save against U32 in her final game.

Others named to the Lake Division 1st Team are Kristen Dukette and Erin Easton (Northfield), Emma Cummings (Harwood), Lucy Stillman (Rice), and Brooke Sabol (Burr & Burton).

I’d like to take a minute to tip my hat to retiring Head Coach Chris Turley of Montpelier. Coach Turley had his last coaching moment walking off the ice at the Civic Center in Montpelier after shaking hands with U32 players during the final game of the season. He headed into the locker room to talk with his team. Chris and his staff of volunteers (Peter Farrell, Paul Rumley, Sam FitzPatrick, Brian Cain) started the Montpelier High girls hockey program ten years ago as a club program and it evolved into a varsity sport. He was all about players being successful by developing character while developing hockey skills. He will be missed. Chris is done as is the MHS girls hockey program.

Coach Turley leaves the ice after his final game as a coach.

There is a possibility that Montpelier players will still be able to play hockey next year. A merge is being discussed with area schools and if the decision-making adults can cross mascot lines the kids will benefit and Montpelier girls will be on the ice next year.

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February 27th, 2012 at 8:11 pm

WHAT a GAME!

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What a Game!

Sport is about the contest. It’s about the atmosphere in the arena and the drive of the players. It’s about the desire to win. All that filled the Civic Center in Montpelier Saturday night when two winless teams faced each other and a dramatic hockey game broke out.

Montpelier High and Woodstock High girls hockey teams met and battled for three periods of action-filled play. It was Senior Night and the players from both teams were recognized during the pre-game ceremony. Flowers, pictures and reflection of four years of competition were center stage. Coaches, parents and players made the most of it. After the ceremony (L/R) Junior Tess Adams, Freshman Chole Golonka, and Sophomore Julie Connor completed the festivities by singing a beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner to start the game. Check it out below.

The game was physical and penalty-ridden. Montpelier jumped out to a lead and Woodstock responded. It went back and forth until the final minutes of the game when Woodstock broke a 3-3 tie and topped it off with an open net goal as time expired giving them the win, 5-3.

That’s what happened but this is the story. Montpelier scored almost as many goals tonight as they did all season. Tess Adams “The “Tasmanian Devil”, and Rachel Ebersole “The Rock”, scored early to put Montpelier in the lead. Woodstock tied the game. Then Freshman Chloe Golonka (who not only took up hockey for the first time this year but also had to learn to skate at the beginning of the year) made a beautiful unassisted score off a rebound to put the Solons ahead in the third period, 3-2.

Chloe Golonka puts MHS ahead 3-2 against Woodstock.

Woodstock’s next 3 goals were all part of the drama. Two teams sacrificing life and limb got after the puck and settled it at the end of three periods of hockey. I enjoyed every minute. Two teams playing their hearts out near the end of the season.

It was disappointing to watch the Solons fade toward the end but they have to be proud of their effort and hopefully they know what joy they bring to the ice for an old dog like me. You would never know the records of these two teams watching the style of play and the energy of the coaches, fans, and players during the game. It doesn’t get much better!

You can check out pictures of the game at Crowley Photos.

Three games remain next week: North Country, Rice and U32. I hope to watch all three!

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February 19th, 2012 at 10:27 am

Historic Hockey in River City!

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A huge shout out to a couple of Montpelier High girls on the hockey team; Mary Cain and Rachel Ebersole.

First, congratulations to Mary Cain for her outstanding play at the Kreitzberg Arena against Northfield where she endured 77 shots on goal in one game! She stopped 71 of them. She made a historic save in the first period and the puck was snagged by the coaches. It was her 500th save of the season! That’s right, 500th save this season. How long did it take Tim Thomas to get 500 saves while playing in Vermont? Mary’s save percentage is around .910 which is top shelf in any arena.

500th Save of the Season

Second, Rachel Ebersole made one of the sweetest unassisted goals of the season. She weaved through defenders and covered 3 zones of the ice. She approached the net from the left side with a defender on her right shoulder. She used her speed and power to ward off the defender and cut in front of the net to score in the lower right corner – Poetry on Ice!

SCORE! "Poetry on Ice"

You can view images of the girls hockey season at CrowleyPhotos.

Their next game is Saturday against Mt Mansfield @ 7PM at the Civic Center in Montpelier.

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February 10th, 2012 at 10:44 am

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Confused by Concussions?

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There’s been a lot of talk about concussions lately and there’s a ton of information to get confused about. Every athlete takes a shot in the head at some point and it’s important to know what’s going on and how to deal with it before getting back to competing.

For example, could heading the ball in soccer lead to degenerative brain disease, like that seen in athletes of other contact sports; boxing – MMA? The January issue of Neurosurgery discusses this topic and others.

So take the time to get some baseline information and become aware of what’s happening to you when you get hit in the head and how to handle it so you avoid long term damage.

SportsConcussions.org explains: “a concussion is a brain injury that can occur in any sport. The good news is most of them heal within a short period of time, like any other sports-related injury.  But what makes concussions unique is that they are invisible and it’s hard to know exactly when an injured brain has completely healed. So take all the time you need, and be patient.  It’s not worth the risk.”

These sites are full of great information but If you’re looking for a brief and very informative explanation about concussions just watch and listen to Dr. Mike’s Visual Lecture below. It’s one of my favorite sites!

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January 15th, 2012 at 9:46 pm

Degree of Difficulty

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High School Basketball: Degree of Difficulty

It’s time for me to rant a little about the current style of play that is dominating high school basketball in central Vermont. Mid-range shooting has all but disappeared. Players like to shoot the three or drive to the hoop drawing 2-3 defensive players and attempting acrobatic feats that rival an Olympic diver on a three meter board. Players make twists, turns, spins, and crash into players in the lane hoping to draw a foul or maybe just chuck up a no-look basket.  The only alternative – a 3-point shot.

Where has the mid-range game gone? The great players know how to “stop and pop” to make a simple 10-12 foot high percentage shot and score an easy two points. It’s rare to see a player make a move that backs up the defense and then quickly stop and shoot an easy uncontested mid-range shot.

What we see instead is a desperate go to the hole move and a low percentage shot. Game scores are low and style of play is hectic. If we gave points for degree of difficulty like in diving then basketball would a very high scoring game.

I think players like Lebron James have had a lot to do with this style of play. James is an incredible athlete and fabulous individual player. He shoots the three or drives to the basket making unbelievable scores. He has never won an NBA championship but he is fun to watch. So are the Harlem Globetrotters.

It’s not fun to watch a young player without James’ abilities try to score with the degree of difficulty seen in a James score.

I think any player that put the mid-range shot into his/her game would dominate today. It’s such a simple move. If you have a 1/2 step advantage on a defensive player, you just slide behind the defender then stop and shoot a simple 10-12 high percentage shot. It’s a two – three dribble drive move and it can’t be stopped 99% of the time. Today the defense would be backing off and waiting to jam you as you start one of those impossible low percentage high degree of difficulty moves.

The only player in central Vermont that I’ve seen effectively use the mid-range shot is U32’s senior guard Karla Clithero. She has quickness and will stop and pop the 10-12 footer occasionally. She’s a very unselfish player and could take over any game if she looked to score more often.

Annie Jones, a junior forward at Montpelier High, is one of the better shooters in girls basketball. She is very athletic and drives strong to the basket from the right. Sometimes she gets caught in traffic and if she ever added a mid-range shot to her game, Montpelier would be a much bigger threat.

Arlo Patterson, MHS senior guard, has a good 3-point shot and makes very aggressive moves to the basket. He’s a player that would really benefit from a high percentage mid-range shot. Because of his quickness, he’s able to get defensive players scrambling backwards when he attacks the basket and with his leaping ability could pull up and take an easy 10 footer for 2 points anytime he wanted.

Basketball is such a simple game when played properly. You pass the ball, you catch the ball, you shoot the ball. Add some team movement, strong rebounding and pressure defense and you’ve got a great game.

My advise to young players is take the easy high percentage shot and take less of those high degree of difficulty shots that result in low percentage attempts. It makes for better basketball.

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January 14th, 2012 at 2:34 pm

MHS Girls Hockey vs Stowe

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I had a little treat today at the Civic Center in Montpelier when two MHS players, Tess Adams and Chloe Golonka, sang a duet of the National Anthem at the beginning of the girls hockey game against Stowe High School. You can hear them in the video below.

I could only stay for the first period which ended in a 0-0 tie. It was the best period of defensive hockey MHS has played this year. They really got after the puck and were very good at breaking up Stowe’s speed and passing game. You can see photos of the first period on CrowleyPhotos website. Just go to the SPORTS gallery and follow the High School Sports menu.

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January 12th, 2012 at 9:17 am

MHS Girls Hockey update

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Brief update on the progress of the Montpelier High girls hockey team:

Saturday night (1/07/12) MHS played U32 and with less than two minutes remaining in the game the score was 2-1 with U32 in the lead. The Solons called a timeout to plan strategy for the final 120 seconds of the game. MHS won the faceoff and headed down the ice toward the U32 goal. Montpelier pulled the goalie but unfortunately U32 gained control of the puck and scored a goal on an empty net making the final score 3-1.

They lost the first game of the season 10-0 and in this game had a chance to tie with just a few seconds left in the third period. It’s so much fun watching them improve daily. More and more players are showing that desire to win as their skills improve.

Below is a audio slideshow of highlights during the game. The National Anthem is sung by MHS center Tess Adams. You can access the pictures at Crowley Photos website under the SPORTS gallery – High School Sports.

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January 9th, 2012 at 2:05 am

MHS Girls’ Hockey Note

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The Montpelier High girls’ hockey team began as a club program in 2002 and has grown into a competitive varsity sport. Over the years they have beat some very good Vermont teams and like any team there are years when the numbers are down and it’s time to rebuild. This is one of those years. They have a bunch of new players learning to skate and learning what it means to be a hockey player in Central Vermont. They’re off to a very slow winless start. I have to add a scoreless start as well. Each game the players show improvement and the more experienced players are doing what they can to help the new players learn quickly.

One of the constants about the Montpelier High girls’ hockey program is that they know how to have fun. Enjoying each other and enjoying hockey has always been a strong part of the program since it’s club days and that has to do with the attitude and coaching style of Chris Turley and his staff.  They do whatever it takes to get the kids involved and excited. Over the years it was not uncommon to see the coaches paint their faces or walk the ice in their bare feet after a game all in good fun and sometimes as a consequence of a pre-game deal with the players. In any event they have been a lot of fun to watch.

This year however is different. They are not competitive. They are not getting many shots on goal. I’m looking forward to the first goal of the season. I’m sure there will be some big time celebrating.

The fun for me as a fan and a photographer is watching senior goalie Mary Cain. She is (to put it simply) amazing! The Solons have played four games so far this season and are 0-4-0. They have had 28 goals scored against them in 12 periods of play. You’re probably wondering how I can claim that Mary Cain, the goalie, is amazing when she’s given up 28 goals in four games. Well, she has had over 200 shots on her in four games and if you do the math she averages about 16 saves a period. Now that amazing!

Here’s a short Soundslides clip of pictures I took during the first two periods of the North Country game to give you an idea of just how amazing she really is. There were 42 shots on goal. She stopped 38. I’m sure the third period was just as active.

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The Solons have a tough home schedule the next few games facing U32 (1/7), and undefeated Stowe (1/11). But Saturday (1/14) they host Rutland and I expect to see some much improved players helping Mary with less shots on goal and maybe scoring a few for themselves.

No matter the outcome of winning and losing (and losing sucks!) these players are not just out there skating around watching Mary make awesome saves. They are improving, getting more competitive and having a good time doing it.

Go watch a game and see if you have as fun watching as I do.

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January 4th, 2012 at 5:33 pm