A little bit of this and a little bit of that while waiting for the kick-off of the Super Bowl:
Patriots legacy- How old are you? I’m not getting personal; I just wondered what your perspective of the Patriots was? You see I remember the Friday Night when the Patriots were born. I listened to the game from Boston University’s Nickerson Field on WBZ Radio. There was no TV. The Patriots coach was Lou Saban. It would be a great story if I could tell you he is Nick Saban’s father, but it appears they were not related, despite the fact Lou’s wife said they might be second cousins when Lou died.
You have had to be around from the beginning to fully appreciate what this team has accomplished. The Pats are looking for their fifth Super Bowl title Sunday night and they have all come in the new century. The franchise has an opportunity to join the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49’ers as five time winners trailing only the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have captured six Super Bowls.
The Pats finished 5-9 in that birth year and that Friday night game was a 13-10 loss to the Denver Broncos. It took them years to find a home field, until finally owner Billy Sullivan built one. Their problems went downhill from there.
There were many obstacles, which hindered this franchise before super fan Bob Kraft took control. Those obstacles began with the biggest problem of all, when the bathrooms at Sullivan’s new field didn’t function on opening night.
It is phenomenal where the Pats have come and the heights the combination of Belichick and Brady have led the franchise too. A victory Sunday would bring the northeast of America one step closer to leaving others in the dust. It really is an amazing story.
The missing Hanna Simpkins- Through no fault of her own, Hanna Simpkins was left off the list of area athletes presented last week, who have gone on to compete at the college level. Simpkins played both basketball and volleyball at Fall Mountain, but it was the sport of volleyball she took to the next level and is still hard at work.
Simpkins is a 2016 graduate of Fall Mountain and was a mainstay in different phases of their volleyball program. The Wildcats have the only volleyball program in our reporting area. A couple of years back, Simpkins was a part of a team, which was the best in Fall Mountain history and made the rest of the state know, the Lady Cats knew a thing or two about the sport.
Volleyball coach Michelle Swift let us know the bottom line of the sport at the school. Volleyball took the fall slot of field hockey for the Wildcats. Interest grew but due to proximity of other schools who compete in the sport and off season opportunities, camps, etc., growth with success is difficult. Simpkins has flourished nonetheless.
Simpkins played for Swift’s team her first three years of high school. The pinnacle of success came her junior year when the team stood some kind of chance against good teams. Following that season, most of the talent graduated and Simpkins was left to lead and help teach the young and inexperienced.
“I don’t know where to start,” Swift reflected when speaking of Simpkins. She went on to say, “really, Hanna is a self taught volley ballplayer. I did what I could, but living here, it’s difficult to grow in the off-season. Hanna and her family made sure she had those experiences; whether they were camps, travel teams or what. I am sure it was a lot more fun for her when we had other talented players, yet she did all she could do when she was a senior and led the way with our youngsters. Over her time here, she proved to be a solid leader, a strong captain and a good teammate.”
Simpkins is now competing at Mount Ida College in Newton, Massachusetts. Her college coach Craig Martin says he found her late and only because of her participation in the Junior Olympic program.
Martin says, “her freshman year wasn’t easy. She started for us at the beginning at middle hitter, but then we thought we should move her to the outside.”
Swift felt that was a good move for Simpkins at the college level, because of her size and it would allow her to use angles more efficiently.
“The transition was tough at times for Hannah,” Martin said, “but she kept working. We had her coming off the bench for a while, but then she made it back to the starting line-up. She is working hard in the off season to make herself better.” Swift added that if I wanted a word to describe Simpkins, it was “competitor.”
During her freshman season at Mount Ida, Simpkins finished fourth on her team in scoring and in categories such as kills and kill percentage. She has three years of eligibility remaining and Martin is looking forward to her future.
“I am not surprised he says she is working hard,” Swift says, “that is what she does.”
Hard work has certainly paid off so far.
Fall Mountain cat paws- The Wildcat football program should have a new head coach before too long however Gordon Danserau is still accepting applications as the process moves along. Danserau says they have candidates in the pool that can make it work but because of a busy Athletic Director schedule for the next few weeks and the possibility that Nick Saban will choose to apply, it will be awhile longer before the school actually goes through the interview process.
Danserau also tells us the school will be hosting three basketball tournaments in 2017. Fall Mountain will play host to both a boys and girls Junior Varsity Tournament later in February. Then, due to the fact Keene State will no longer host a Girls Basketball Tournament around the holidays, Fall Mountain will put together one of their own at the varsity level. Schools with interest should contact Danserau at the school. If he has his way, all three tournaments would have eight team fields.