May 28, 2020

Dillos late offense overcomes errors (4/30/09)

Bolger claims victory in relief

April 30, 2009

The Armadillos, Williston’s entry in the Vermont Senior Men’s Baseball League, opened their season in Newport on Sunday against Newport Columbia.

Last season, the Armadillos’ 11-5 record seeded them just ahead of Newport, which finished with an 11-6 record. While Williston built an early 4-0 lead, a series of defensive errors allowed Newport to plate five unearned runs, and left the Dillos trailing 8-5 late in the game. The Dillos, however, rallied for seven runs in the eighth inning to defeat Newport 12-8.

“Our defense has always been one of our strong points. Once we overcome the rust of a nine month layoff, I am confident we will return to form. Today, unfortunately, the best way to describe our defense would be ‘porous,’” said player/manager Dennis Johnson.

On offense, the Armadillos rapped out 12 hits. While eight of the 11 players hit safely, the team was led by pitcher Bill Supple (3-4, 2B, BB, 3 RBIs, 2 runs), center fielder Ray Danis (2-5, BB, 3 runs) and third baseman Pat “Pookie” Martin (2-5, 2 RBIs, run).

The Armadillos jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning when Danis singled, Supple walked and Martin singled to load the bases. Danis scored when Newport’s second baseman bobbled right fielder Darby Crum’s (0-4, BB) grounder. Supple came in when “Bambino” Fitzgerald (1-4, BB, 2 RBIs) grounded into a third-to-second put out.

The lead increased to 4-0 in the second. After second baseman Billy Daw (1-5, RBI, 2 runs) and Danis singled, Supple brought both home with a double over the center fielder’s head.

Newport tied the game in the bottom of the frame, scoring four runs, three of which were unearned, on just three hits, as the Dillos botched two plays. One miscue came when Supple dropped a sacrifice bunt with runners on first and second and no one out. The other occurred when Martin misplayed a grounder with the bases loaded, allowing two runners to come home.

Williston bounced back with a run in the fifth to grab a 5-4 lead. Bolger singled, moved to second when Newport’s left fielder dropped Martin’s fly ball and scored on the Bambino’s single to right.

That lead was short-lived, as Newport scored three runs in the sixth on three singles, a walk and a two-run error by Johnson. Bolger relieved Supple with one out and runners on second and third, striking out Newport’s third baseman and inducing a ground out to first to escape further damage. Newport increased its lead to 8-5 in the seventh as their pitcher launched a 420-foot dinger to dead center.

The Dillos mounted what turned out to be the decisive rally in the eighth, as they sent 13 batters to the plate and scored seven times. Johnson (0-2, 2 BB) reached on an error and scored on Dann “DVDV” Van der Vliet’s (1-3, 2 BB, 3B, 2 RBIs, run) triple to left. After right fielder Chris Hughes (1-4, BB, run) walked, Daw grounded to short and DVDV beat the throw home. As Newport’s catcher dropped the ball trying to apply the tag, Hughes took third and then scored on third baseman Brian Mullin’s (0-3, Sac, RBI) sacrifice fly to center. Danis walked and Supple singled home Daw. Martin followed with a deep single to right center, plating both Danis and Supple. Crum, the Bambino and DVDV all then walked in succession, the last of which brought home Martin to close out the scoring.

On the mound, Supple went the 5 2/3 innings, giving up seven runs, two of which were earned, on seven hits and four walks, while striking out seven. Bolger picked up the win by pitching the final 3 1/3 innings, giving up just one run on one hit, while walking one and striking out four.


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Untimely death of teacher stuns community (4/30/09)

Myers credited for his dedication

April 30, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

“Fly Forever.”

Those two words, the motto of Swift House, have taken on a new meaning the past few days at Williston Central School. By all accounts, Swift House teacher Al Myers, who passed away unexpectedly over the weekend, embodied that phrase and inspired his students to live their lives to the fullest and highest potential.

Beyond teaching math, science, English and social studies, Myers taught his students to excel more than they ever thought they could, either in the classroom or upon the stage in the school’s musical productions. He taught lessons and left impressions that students — whether former pupils from his early days in Williston or today’s students who are feeling his immediate loss — will carry with them for a lifetime.

Yet for all the time Myers dedicated to his students, his influence extended far beyond the walls of his classroom. From the theater stage to the battleground of Civil War reenactments, from his home in Richmond to his family at church, whether he meant to or not, Myers devoted his life to inspiring others.

And for a man whose life touched so many, his death has left an entire community in mourning.

Myers died the morning of Saturday, April 25 from severe head trauma after falling off a ladder while working on the set of “The Wizard of Oz” in the Williston Central School auditorium. Students and staff found him Friday morning and alerted emergency personnel. Doctors at Fletcher Allen Health Care performed surgery before he passed away Saturday morning.

Myers was 57. He is survived by his wife, Deborah, and children, Briana Myers, Eli Myers, Meredith Gordon and her husband, Andy Gordon.

“The classroom and the theater were really my dad’s elements,” Meredith Gordon, Myers’ youngest daughter, wrote in an e-mail to the Observer. “He loved watching a student’s face when he knew that they were finally understanding how something worked. His school family was his second family and he knew each of those students as well as he knew us.”

A ‘second family’ copes

Flags flew at half-mast this week in the Williston School District, where Myers taught for more than 30 years. District Principal Walter Nardelli said grief rooms had been set up for students and staff. The school carried on as normally as possible when students returned from April vacation Monday, he said.

“Everyone is in shock at school and in the community,” Nardelli said in an e-mail. “Right now we move on one day at a time.”

Myers began teaching in Williston in 1973, fresh out of the University of Vermont, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology and a teaching certificate. From there, the classroom became his second home. Putting in long hours, Myers always made time for his students whenever they needed him, parents have said. His devotion earned him a special dedication in the class of 2008’s yearbook.

Seventh-grade student Allison Kahn said the past few days without Myers have been hard. She said she already misses his sense of humor and the fun-loving teaching style he brought to school every day.

“He was really funny, and I’ll probably miss his whistling down the hall the most,” Kahn said.

Myers’ death was also felt at Champlain Valley Union High School and numerous colleges and universities where former students now reside. CVU sophomore Amelia Munson said she’ll most remember the life lessons Myers taught her.

“He told me once that it’s more important to stand out than fit in,” Munson said. “I’ll probably never forget that.”

Brittany Jean, a University of Vermont freshman, said Myers’ patience and understanding while dealing with his students set him apart.

“Middle school kids can be hard to deal with, but I never once saw him lose his temper,” Jean said. “He took a lot of joy in watching us, his students.”

A dramatic life

Munson and Jean were veterans of the large and inclusive musicals Myers directed every spring. Myers oversaw classics such as “Fiddler on the Roof” and this week’s production of “The Wizard of Oz.”

Parents have credited Myers, with his technical expertise and keen eye for directing, for producing the musicals with the highest quality. Students said Myers extended his teaching style to the stage and motivated cast members to excel in their roles. The school has plans to dedicate the Williston Central School auditorium in Myers’ honor.

CVU freshman Mikayla Morin, who played one of the leads in last year’s musical, “Seussical,” said Myers worked hard to help her find her inner potential. She said he set high expectations, but cast members were more than happy to work hard and reach the great heights Myers aimed to hit, she said.

“He was one of the most honest and open people I’ve ever met,” said Morin. “He really believed in me and I’ll always carry that with me.”

“The Wizard of Oz” will be performed as scheduled this Friday and Saturday. Swift House teacher Julie Longchamp has taken over directing duties for the play and is following Myers’ notes on the production, said parent and Observer columnist Kathy Stamper.

Stamper said the student cast has been great in rehearsals and is determined to carry out Myers’ vision.

“The play will help us get through this, but we’re walking around with a hole in our hearts,” Stamper said.

Members of the Burlington-based Lyric Theatre Company, of which Myers was a longtime member, have also helped in creating some of the special effects Myers designed for the play, she added.

Lyric Theatre Company’s Executive Director Syndi Zook said the acting troupe wanted to help finish the work Myers started. Zook said Myers had been a member of Lyric since 1976, and she’s known him since 1980. She said as an actor, he had a great voice and gave convincing performances. As a director, Zook credited Myers’ patience, kindness and leadership.

“His quiet authority was a pillar in this organization,” Zook said.

Myers was also a leader on the battlefield, so to speak. As a captain with the Champlain Valley Reenactors, Myers commanded a unit of Civil War enthusiasts during mock battles and demonstrations representing Vermont.

Mike Frisbie, a fellow reenactor, became close friends with Myers while Frisbie’s daughters were in Swift House. It was Myers who convinced Frisbie to join the Champlain Valley Reenactors. The two frequently carpooled to reenacting events around New England and New York.

Frisbie said during the mayhem of the mock battles, Myers was always a guiding force.

“He was my captain and I would follow him anywhere,” Frisbie said.

Stefan Gunlock, Frisbie and Myers’ friend from the Champlain Valley Reenactors, said the unit would carry on in Myers’ memory.

“Everybody had an unforgettable experience with him,” said Gunlock. “He was such an extraordinary human being.”

Myers was also devoted to his church, according to his daughter. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Myers frequently read during church services. Meredith Gordon said her father studied the Bible frequently and wore out many copies of the book.

Lasting memories

Family, friends and former students of Myers have taken their remembrances online to Facebook, a social networking site. Hundreds of comments are posted on four tribute pages from people sharing memories of Myers, from his guitar playing and classroom sing-alongs to his ability to recite lines and lines of Monty Python dialogue.

Stephen Mease, a friend of Myers and a freelance photographer for the Observer, created one of the Facebook pages after hearing of Myers’ death. He said he was “struck” by the hundreds of messages posted on the site.

“It’s amazing how many lives one person can touch,” he said.

Stamper said Myers was such a community presence that his loss will be felt for a long time, but those who knew him will hold onto his memory forever.

“I feel for his family because they shared him with so many people, and now he’s gone,” she said.

A celebration of Myers’ life is in the works and scheduled for noon on May 16 at Williston Central. The school is putting together a scrapbook of Myers’ time at the school and is asking parents and students for contributions. The scrapbook will be presented to Myers’ family.

Donations in Myers’ memory can be made to the Lyric Theatre Company, P.O. Box 1688, Williston, Vt. 05495, or to the Vermont Historical Society, Pavilion Building, 100 State St., Montpelier, Vt. 05609.


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A Williston without Al Myers (4/30/09)

    Observer photo by Stephen Mease
Al Myers gives an opening night pep talk to the cast of Williston Central School’s 2006 production of ‘Fiddler on the Roof.’ The much beloved teacher died unexpectedly over the weekend. See story below. More photos under Web Exclusive Photos.

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Sports Notes (4/30/09)

April 30, 2009


Early season test for track and field team this weekend

Champlain Valley Union High track and field coaches Eli and Kasie Enman will get a look at how their team members stack up against leading opponents Friday and Saturday in the annual Burlington High Invitationals.

The two-day event gets under way Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. and continues Saturday, starting at 2 p.m.

The Redhawks had some other business Wednesday: A three-team meet at Colchester High, which was scheduled to start after press deadline.

In a multi-school vacation meet last week in Essex Junction, Tony Sulva led a small contingent from CVU with a second place finish in the 800-meter race and third in the 1,500.

Jonathan Slimovitch was third in the 3,000. Sam Chevalier captured third in pole vault and Dale Conger third in the shot put.

CVU seniors named to Vermont all-star teams

Seven Champlain Valley Union High senior athletes will play for Vermont basketball and hockey teams this summer against teams from New Hampshire in the annual senior all-star games.

In boys hockey, not only will five players come from the Division 1 state championship Redhawks, but co-coaches Doug Hopper and Will MacKinnon will be calling the plays for Vermont from behind the bench.

CVU players on the boys squad are defensemen Chris Howard, Owen Smith and Ben Soll. Forwards are Brady DeHayes and Tim Reichert.

Nicole Bonneau was named one of three goalies for the Vermont girls team after four standout seasons between the pipes for the Redhawks.

The Twin State Make-A-Wish Hockey All-Star games will take place June 27 at the University of Vermont’s Gutterson Field House.

Making the Vermont boys basketball team roster is John Donnelly, who will see action in the annual Twin State basketball contest in July.


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Double trouble for CVU girls lacrosse team (4/30/09)

April 30, 2009

While the Champlain Valley Union High girls lacrosse team unleashed a mighty offense Tuesday against Mount Mansfield Union in Jericho Center, the Cougars responded with two weapons of their own and handed the Redhawks an 18-11 defeat.

Halley Fisher knocked in seven goals and sidekick Kim Liberty fired in six to pace the 3-2 Cougars.

CVU also had a significant weapon in sophomore Amanda Kinneston, who chalked up six goals and an assist.

Ellie Beckett popped a pair of scores while Erika Gobeille, Abby Giles and Michaela Cornbrooks each added a goal.

Michaela Gobeille and Amanda Lacallaide combined for 13 saves in the CVU nets.

Last Saturday’s game at Rutland was postponed. No make-up date has been announced.

— Mal Boright, Observer correspondent


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CVU softball team eyes first win (4/30/09)

April 30, 2009

Victims of a six-run explosion by Mount Mansfield Union High Tuesday in Jericho Center, the 0-4 Champlain Valley Union High softball team will be on the road Thursday against 1-1 Colchester High.


    Observer photo by Karen Pike
Champlain Valley Union High second baseman Kayla McCarthy makes the play at second base during Saturday’s game against Spaulding High.

MMU’s sixth inning bash produced an 18-14 victory over the Redhawks for the 1-2 Cougars.

Emily Himberg continued her solid hitting for CVU, lashing two hits, including a double and scoring a pair of runs. Sara Eddy-Stewart also connected for a pair of hits.

The Redhawks were held to five hits Saturday in a 10-7 loss at home to 2-1 Spaulding High of Barre.

Cassidy Maglaris produced two of the Redhawks’ hits and drove in a run.

— Mal Boright, Observer correspondent


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Tennis teams still unbeaten (4/30/09)

April 30, 2009

With three wins in their first three encounters, the Champlain Valley Union High boys and girls tennis teams will go up against an old rival Thursday when they take on South Burlington High.

The boys will meet their 2-1 counterparts at South Burlington, while the girls will host the 1-2 Rebels at Davis Park in Shelburne. Both sets of matches start at 3:30 p.m.

On Monday, both teams had little trouble in dispatching Bellows Free Academy of St. Albans, sweeping to 7-0 triumphs.

Playing at home, the boys got singles wins from Marc Vecchio, Tabor deGroot, Corey Dawson, Liam Kelley and Lucas Auger.

The doubles teams of Brad Barth-Tim Averill and Trevor Ogden-Asa Cloutier also scored wins.

On the road in St. Albans, the girls singles winners were Anna Clare Smith, Abby Stoner, Colleen McCarthy, Kate Farley and Jessica Novak. Victorious doubles tandems were Megan Henson-Wells Griffin and Laura Andrews-Samone Schneider.

— Mal Boright, Observer correspondent


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Tough tests await CVU boys lax combine (4/30/09)

April 30, 2009

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

The lacrosse rocket known as the Champlain Valley Union High boys lacrosse team will find some possible turbulence in the next few days as the schedule enters a challenging time.

With a perfect 6-0 record following Tuesday’s rain-dampened, 10-3 home triumph over 2-4 Mount Mansfield Union High, the Redhawks will be home Friday to a strong Bellows Free Academy of St. Albans team.

On Monday, coach Dave Trevithick and his laxmen make the short trip to Essex High for their first meeting of the season with the defending state champion Hornets, the team that has nipped them in the last two Division 1 title contests.

In caging the Cougars Tuesday, the Redhawks took control of the game from Tim Reichert’s (as usual) capture of the opening face off. Dominating first period play, Jake Marston, Nick Hart and Sam Spencer all scored for a 3-0 lead by the start of the second period. The lead was increased to 5-0 at the half.

Hart finished with his first three-score game of the campaign. Reichert got two tallies. Spencer, Marston, Dean Priest, Nate Wells and Peter Hiser had a goal apiece.

Eric “The Stopper” Palmer made 15 saves in the CVU cage.

In Saturday’s 10-3 victory at Rutland, Spencer and Marston bagged three goals each to pace the Redhawks’ invasion of southern territory.

Thus far in its early season rumble, CVU has struck for 64 goals, an average of better than 10 per outing, while giving up but 26, or 4.3 per game.


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Spaulding High drops Redhawk baseball team (4/30/09)

April 30, 2009

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

The Champlain Valley Union High baseball team may be 0-3, but coach Tim Albertson sees better things on the near horizon for his youthful Redhawks.


    Observer photo by Karen Pike
Champlain Valley Union High outfielder Collin Teator makes a diving catch during Saturday’s game against Spaulding High School.


    Observer photo by Karen Pike
Champlain Valley Union High shortstop Andrew Nick dives for the ball during Saturday’s game against Spaulding High School.

“We are improving,” the first-year coach said Saturday following a narrow, 5-2 home loss to visiting Spaulding High of Barre. “We played well against a very good team.”

The Redhawks took a 2-2 tie into the top of the seventh and final inning against the now 3-0 Tide, a team that popped CVU 11-1 the previous Saturday in Barre.

An opportunity to get that elusive first win Tuesday against visiting Mount Mansfield Union was put off until after press deadline on Wednesday by a game time drizzle that began just before the two teams were to take the field.

In giving Spaulding a time of it Saturday, CVU got a workman-like pitching performance from junior Theron Fuller, who scattered seven singles over the first six innings. Fuller limited the Tide to lone tallies in the second and fourth frames before weakening in the top of the seventh, when the visitors struck for three runs fueled by a single, two doubles and two walks, one intentional.

Fuller, who whiffed four, gave up five runs, four earned, before giving way to junior Collin Teator. Teator recorded the final out.

Spaulding righty Sam Fuller, who was hitting his spots with good pitch placement, cruised through the first four innings, allowing singles by Andy Leckerling and Shane Montani while striking out four.

The Redhawks pulled to within 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth. Leckerling struck out but reached when the third strike pitch went to the backstop. After a second out fanning, Teator singled Leckerling to third and freshman Andy Nick drove him home with a pop infield single that fell out of reach inside third base.

Cheered by that success at scoring, the Redhawks tied the contest in the sixth. Back-to-back two-out singles by pinch hitter David Titus and Leckerling drove home Jared Badger, who had reached on a fielder’s choice.

But Spaulding struck back in the top of the seventh, the key sock a bases loaded double to left center by Rueben Stone that pushed home two runs and put the Tide in front to stay.

Spaulding starter Sam Fuller departed after the sixth with six hits allowed — two by Leckerling — seven strikeouts, no walks and two hit batters.

The Redhawks committed one error. Sparkling plays included a superb rolling catch in left by Teator, plus a stellar stop and throw by freshman second sacker Lawrence Halverson.


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Filmmaker spreads message of peace to students (4/30/09)

April 30, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

Williston seventh and eighth graders were encouraged to strive for world peace on Monday, with a presentation by British documentary filmmaker and peace activist Jeremy Gilley.


    Observer photo by Tim Simard
British documentary filmmaker Jeremy Gilley talks to Williston Central School students about Peace One Day and how they can involve themselves locally and globally. Gilley visited the school Monday.

Gilley, who founded the internationally recognized Peace One Day, came to Williston to kick off a new project that looks to educate American students about peace and becoming better global citizens.

“If we’re going to live a united and sustainable world, it’s because of the work of young people like you,” Gilley told Williston Central School students during an hour-long assembly.

Peace One Day is celebrated the world over on Sept. 21.

Gilley, who visited Williston two years ago to talk about Peace One Day, said his new program — Peace One Day Education Resource — has already been a success in schools in the United Kingdom. The program gives schools a packet of 17 lesson plans, as well as a DVD of the feature length film “The Day After Peace.”

During the assembly, Gilley presented a clip of the film, which chronicles his efforts to raise awareness of an international peace day and spread the word throughout the planet. The film follows Gilley around the world as he interviews world leaders, global citizens and famous actors and musicians on his quest. Actors including Angelina Jolie and Jude Law are featured, as are musicians Lenny Kravitz and Sir Paul McCartney.

Gilley was also in the process of creating another film about his experiences, bringing a documentary film crew with him during the Williston kickoff event.

He said Williston was his first stop before moving on to New Hampshire and Maine. He’s launching the first phase of the education resource in New England, with 4,000 schools receiving packets.

“This makes them aware of what they can do to help,” Gilley explained.

To help fund Gilley’s work, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream stepped in to cover the cost of the education resource packets. Sean Greenwood, the company’s public relations director, said Peace One Day fits right in with Ben & Jerry’s social activism cause.

“These are the tools that give kids the abilities to make a difference,” Greenwood said.

Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s and a Williston resident, said he was “astonished” at Gilley’s work over the past 10 years.

“He’s one of those really amazing people that believes in his heart that people can make a difference,” Greenfield said.

Greenfield provided ice cream for a picnic after the presentation, and also introduced Gilley to the students.

Gilley, a trained actor who was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, found his life’s calling in working to eradicate war and violence on the planet. He knew it wouldn’t be easy.

“I wanted to make a difference,” Gilley said. “I wanted to change the world, but I didn’t know where to start.”

Using his past film experience, Gilley set out to rally the world to his cause in 1998. In 2001, the United Nations unanimously adopted a resolution recognizing Peace One Day every Sept. 21.

“It’ll grow, it’ll really grow if you get behind it,” Gilley said while talking to the camera in “The Day After Peace.”

According to Gilley, Peace One Day has been a success, with actual ceasefires occurring and aid workers being able to deliver medicine and other goods while fighting stopped.

Gilley spent time with students answering questions about the film and brainstorming ways to spread the word about the day. Ideas included everything from being kind to fellow students to becoming pen pals with people in other countries.

Eighth grader Davis Mikell said he was interested in spreading the word about Peace One Day and what could be done.

“It made me aware of what I can do to help,” Mikell said.

Student Kari Lavalette also said she was keen to do something special for Peace One Day and make people aware of its existence.

“I was surprised that not as many people know anything about it,” Lavalette said.

Gilley said youth enthusiasm from all over the world is what drives Peace One Day to be a success.

“If everyone is celebrating Peace One Day around the world, we’ll have terrific change,” he said.


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