THIS + THAT: #ForeverBlackRiverPresidents

Sitting in front of the computer starting to type as the first flakes of the next storm begin to fall. My initial reaction is “no more” and then I remember how much I loved the snow as a youngster. I guess it’s fine to bring it on. My friends at Okemo smile at my recollections of snow.

There are some local rivalries this winter that should bring some excitement on a cold night. Alphabetically, Bellows Falls, Green Mountain, and Springfield all compete against each other in girls’ basketball. They all have good teams and could win a game in the post season. These local match-ups are scheduled: Springfield at Green Mountain on Monday, Jan. 22; Bellows Falls at Springfield on Thursday, Jan. 25; Green Mountain at Springfield, Monday, January 29; Springfield at Bellows Falls Thursday, Feb. 1; and Bellows Falls at Green Mountain, Thursday, Feb. 8. The Terriers defeated the Chieftains 42-27 in the first meeting in this series. But Green Mountain stand out Hannah Buffum was just returning from a bout with pneumonia, and chances are that short-changed the gals from Chester, just a few points.

Buffum has certainly been a welcome transfer at Green Mountain. She had a strong fall season in goal for the girls’ soccer team and was one of the pieces to a puzzle put together by Carolynn Hamilton that made the 2017 Soccer Chieftains one of the best of all time at the school. Hannah is the daughter of Jeff Buffum, who was a solid basketball player for Bellows Falls in the mid-80s. Hannah played at Leland & Gray to begin her career.

Thanks to the people who contact me each week in response to my articles. Sometimes a writer has more of an impact than they think with a certain article. The column I wrote a couple of weeks back about the cooperation of Black River and Green Mountain figuring out a solution to the Black River gym problem brought a multitude of responses. One came with a hashtag #ForeverBlackRiverPresidents. So appropriate.

When researching the Black River Gym article, I thought deeply about the name of the facility and felt my advancing years was getting in the way of me remembering the official name. I made a call to bring me back to the living and lo and behold, all these years, there never was an official name, until now…

One person told me that new principal Karen Trimboli had given the facility a name. Thus, I called Trimboli, and she said, before she arrived on the high school scene, a buildings and grounds committee took numerous different suggestions from students, faculty, and community members before tagging the community use room with its name. Trimboli tells me, “The hall hosts so many events other than sporting events, they were looking for a different name than Café-a-gymatorium.” The committee settled on Presidential Hall. I don’t know about others, but I absolutely love it.

The Black River boys’ basketball team’s 1-5 record won’t catch many people’s attention. However, after talking to their coach Don Richard, I really believe this team is better than other recent editions of the President family. I get the feeling that they may jump up and bite a few teams this year. They might be a tournament draw that everyone wants to stay away from.

Unless a miracle comes along, Black River will close its doors in June 2020. They are not the only Vermont school headed in that direction over the next few years. There is plenty of talk around the state about whether there will still be a Division IV in a few years. I spoke to Bob Johnson, who heads the sports division of the Vermont Principals Association, and Bob admitted informal discussion of such a nature had taken place, but as of now nothing is even close to official. Odds are though, five present Division IV schools won’t exist in two years. By the way, take a guess how many Division IV schools are presently competing in soccer, basketball, baseball, and softball. The answer is below.

Most readers will have some type an eye on the Patriots vs. Jaguars game this Sunday. If you are a real sports fan, just stop and think how phenomenal it is, in this day and age with salary caps and balance, that one professional team could go to seven straight league title games. That is absolutely incredible. I am a Patriots fan, but I am not one of those fans of the Flying Elvises, who say there is no way they can lose and have been saying that and been obnoxious about the league being against them at every turn and all that. But, there is history…

I always believed, as far back as I could remember, that the Yankees won the World Series almost every year. That statement was meant to cover my childhood years. I really believed that the Yankees basically were baseball. Today, I counted up the totals and from the time I really started following the sport until I entered the adult work world, the Yankees won the World Series one time in those 14 years. I guess because they won the American League pennant eight of those years and just before that period of my consciousness, they had won six of seven pennants and 14 out of 20, all the chatter about them was passed along from my elders and I learned to hate those pinstripes. In a related story, during my youth and early adult years, I met so many obnoxious Yankee fans, I characterized all of them that way. Now, I have to admit, many of my friends have become obnoxious Patriot fans. I now understand why, but, honestly…why did either group have to be that way.

DIVISION IV ANSWER– On the surface, Division IV in Vermont is alive and well, but there are some real glaring facts that have already shown up in Division IV girls’ sports. The fall season has a healthy outlook with both girls’ and boys’ soccer fielding 17 teams this past fall in the division. Some girls’ hoops teams have already put together some member to member teams in basketball and softball and some schools don’t have softball at all any more. The state presently has 14 girls basketball teams, while the boys have 16 in Division IV and the spring has an even sadder answer, where baseball only fields 13 teams now and the girls’ 10. Once Black River closes, this area will not have a team in Division IV.

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