Overall, I have never been much of a bucket list guy. Oh, there have certainly been things I have wanted to do, but I have just weighed them against other choices I have had to make as I went along.
However, there has always been one sports destination that I always thought I would visit some day. Now, for the first time, I am not so sure the trip will ever take place. I had a trip planned to Wrigley Field in Chicago this June. The Red Sox were playing a three-game series there the weekend of June 19-21. If I ever had an item on the bucket list, that was probably it.
Presently, there are about three chances I will make that trip – or three chances those games will even be played. The chances are slim, slimmer, and none. I put all my money down on the latter one.
I actually will be surprised if baseball is played in front of fans this year at all. Thus, it is probably good that I never actually ever had an official bucket list because I would hate to have to say I didn’t get to fulfill the top item on my list.
One might say, just put the trip off until the next time the Sox visit Wrigley. Such a thought makes some sense on the surface, but not common sense historically.
Chances are the next time the schedule puts the Sox in Chicago, it could be 8 or 12 years down the line. By then, this old scribe will have likely kicked the bucket or be too fragile to kick it without falling down.
Having said all that, the truth is things have never been quite the same since we moved the clocks ahead early in the morning of March 8. Before a week had passed, all sports from high school to college had been shut down and before a second week had elapsed, everyone had been ordered to stay at home – except Tom Brady who departed New England for Tampa Bay.
On the surface, you would think something like this could only be seen in the movies, but by now you don’t have to pinch yourself to realize that this is our world as we live it today.
Let us all hope that soon we will be blessed with a touch of normalcy. In the big picture, the missed journey to Wrigleyville is a blip on the radar, especially compared to so many area high schoolers likely losing a year of spring athletics.
As this column was being penned, the high school seasons were expected to be officially canceled. I would gladly trade the trip for these student athletes to have their season played, at least in part.
Here instead are a few local nuggets you may have missed over the past couple of months.
Fall Mountain and Bellows Falls finished ahead of the pack when it came to this past winter’s sports competition. I was trying to place them in an order, but in the end, I awarded them both the top spot.
The Wildcats’ claim to land there was led by their girls’ basketball team, once again proving to be the class of the hoop world in the region. They advanced to the New Hampshire Division III State Championship game, just as they did one season ago. Conant captured top honors this year 51-42. Monadnock claimed the top spot in 2019 51-44. There is something about those scores that adds to the deja vu feeling. The Lady Wildcats are obviously the most consistent team in their division in New Hampshire.
The reason Bellows Falls has earned placement right alongside Fall Mountain is that both their basketball teams were very strong this year. The boys’ team earned the third seed and the girls the sixth despite their 15-5 record, but both did meet their match in their state quarterfinal Division III encounter. The play of both teams brought all kinds of excitement to Holland Gym and these two Purple and White squads brought lots of fans to the seats.
Both schools also had championships claimed in the lesser limelight sports. Fall Mountain captured both the boys’ and girls’ Division III cross country skiing titles, while in Bellows Falls individual titles were earned at the Vermont State Championship Track Meet at the University of Vermont. Abby Broadley captured first place in the 3,000-meter run while Jon Carrington was the individual winner in the Shot Put.
Springfield is mentioned next, just by the fact that in Vermont they still must compete at the Division II level in the winter sports. The recent casts of lady hoopsters have regularly challenged the ranks of that class. In a strong Division II field this winter, playing a very difficult schedule, a 10-10 record is way better than it sounds. There was no way anyone was going to touch undefeated Fair Haven, the team that ended the Green and White season. The Cosmo boys were able to go a respectable 7-13 and qualify for a postseason game for the first time in four years. There was a state title earned by a Cosmo this winter, as Cadence Wheeler not only captured the Vermont State Winter Track Triple Jump title, but in the process also set a state record.
The Springfield boys’ hoop team landed a tenth place seed with their 9-11 record. They appeared to have been one of those teams that often played strong games against very tough competition but lacked the offensive consistency when it counted on too many occasions. As many as five times, they lost games by single digits against top contending teams, showing a potential that wasn’t fully realized. Despite the final score, they had their moments in their playoff loss to Thetford, which showed how good they could be when they were on top of their game.
Both Leland & Gray teams won enough games to go the playoffs, but this was not their year.
I wish I could tell you the basketball records at Black River saw some victories in the win column, but unsurprisingly that wasn’t the hand dealt to either the boys’ or the girls’ teams.
But if there was ever a case in which a team won by just having played the game, this was certainly it. Any victory by either team would have been an upset, and these players were certainly an example of playing for the love of the game. They are likely the last group of athletes to officially wear a President’s uniform and to go out night after night and give it the “old college try.” That was spectacular in its own right.
Since many students departed to other institutions of learning for one reason or another, these two sets of athletes tried and tried again but could never blow the proverbial house down or a victory their way. But there was greatness attached to both teams – actually even fielding teams this past winter was great itself.