March 27, 2015

Hoosier at the helm


Otley’s lifelong passion helps team shatter record

By Mal Boright
Observer correspondent

In the past three seasons, Champlain Union High girls basketball has risen from a solid competitive program to record-setting heights under the direction of Ute Otley—who hails from Indiana, where the sport is the personification of preoccupation.

And the coach is making sure that the deep roots basketball has in the Hoosier State are taking hold in the CVU community.

Helping all of this along are three consecutive Division 1 championships and the current 71-game winning streak that last year snapped the Vermont Division 1 record set in the ‘90s by Essex High under the guidance of Vermont Hall of Fame coach Jean Robinson.

One of the first things one gleans from a conversation with Otley is that the program she runs includes much more than just the high school level. Her influence goes deep—into third and fourth grade and through junior high.

Otley has coached and administered at all levels. She conducts clinics for coaches and youngsters and even her varsity and junior varsity players participate.

Much of the youth work comes from Otley’s experiences while growing up in Indiana, where some would call a basketball rim (with net attached, of course) the state flower.

She is a native of Valparaiso, where some of her first hoop memories are those of a 6-year-old shooting baskets during her dad’s corporate league games.

“There would be a time-out and I would go out on the floor and shoot,” Otley recalled.

Her father, John Bowman, a hoops lifer, had coached high school basketball for “four or five years,” before taking a corporate administrative position at Bethlehem Steel.

When she was in the eighth grade, Valparaiso High played its way into the Indiana Final Four at the hallowed Market Square Arena in Indianapolis. Otley and the junior high players were rewarded with a bus ride to the semi-final and final if Valparaiso won.

“Valparaiso won the morning game and back then the championship game was held the same day,” Otley said. “So we were given the afternoon at a mall and then went back for the championship game in the evening, which Valparaiso lost.”

One of the stars on that team worked with Otley in the gym.

“She told me to get my left thumb out of my shot and I did,” said Otley. “It must have been peer involvement because my dad had been telling me that for four years.”

A solid high school career was nearly interrupted after her junior year at a time Otley was being heavily recruited by Division 1 powerhouses including nearby Notre Dame (her number one choice).

At an elite Blue Star camp in southern Indiana that summer, Otley had what she calls her three best days in basketball followed by her worst day.

The camp had 300 of the best players in the Midwest. In a one-on-one tournament, Otley advanced to the final four. In the camp semifinal, she drew Tanya Edwards, later to play at Tennessee.

“I got out to a 5-0 lead with my moves,” Otley recalled. Then Edwards put the hammer down.

“All of a sudden it turned around and she physically overpowered me and won it, 11-8.” said Otley.

The worst came a day later when in an air collision going for a rebound, Otley fell and tore a knee ligament.

 “A knee ligament (ACL) then was a big deal. It meant I might not play anymore,” she said.

Her father got her quickly to a hospital for surgery. After the operation came the rehab once the knee and leg came out of a cast.

“The physical therapist told me I would need a year of recovery time. I replied that our first game is Nov. 28.”

“He said, ‘six months? That is highly unlikely,’” Otley said.

The unlikely became likely as Otley went through a “lonely” rehab summer including running in pools, exercise biking, dribbling basketball everywhere and other exercises. Two weeks before the start of her senior season, she was cleared to play.

“My first game back, I was wearing two giant knee braces, but I scored 26 points, like I had never been away.” she said.

But while she was back in full basketball mode, the injury gave recruiters second thoughts.

“A lot of those schools went running,” Otley said. One of those shying away was Notre Dame.

One that didn’t was Dartmouth College.

“No doubt you’ll be back as you were before,” the Big Green people told her. The persistence paid off and Otley came east to Hanover, N.H. following her high school graduation in 1986.

Otley and Dartmouth had a huge season her senior year, going 23-3 while knocking off Big Ten schools. Two of the defeats were to Connecticut and then very strong Boston College.

She praises the coaching of Dartmouth’s Jackie Hallah, noting that many of the techniques and plays the Big Green used are in the Otley tactics book today. Hallah is now head coach at Carnegie-Mellon.

But coaching was not in the life plan, at least at the beginning of her post-commencement life.

Her husband, Brian, took a job in New York and Otley happened to see an advertisement from Jericho (N.Y.) High seeking a girls basketball coach to guide its first year of varsity hoops.

“No one else applied,” she said. The first year coach and first year varsity players went 1-16 that season, but Otley had found her calling.

“I loved it,” she said.

In addition, she took advice from administrators and earned her teaching certificate. A social studies job opened up and now she was both teacher and coach.

In her second year behind the coaching whistle, the team improved to 12-5.

After two years there, it was on to Atlanta for five years, where just opening the gym during the long, hot summers would bring out hoop hopefuls otherwise bored out of their minds.

Then, about five years ago, the Otleys came back north to CVU and the Redhawks and future Redhawks.

She said over the seasons her coaching style has toned down so that when things go wrong on the floor (primarily mental miscues) it is a “quiet fury,” the players see from the bench.

“In Georgia I probably yelled more, but kids tend to tune that out,” Otley said, adding that coaching on the sidelines is more related to strategy, motivation and observing all-important match-ups.

The youth development and encouragement programs are a major part of Otley’s approach. As she is quick to point out, “You never know when a kid is going to light up, or who will grow to 6-3.”

She said when a youngster comes out and has success, he or she will feel a little better and then want to come back. Key partners are junior varsity coach Cathy Kohlasch, freshman coach Katie Kuntz and former head coach Dick Carlson.

Otley thought back to her Dad, who encouraged her at every opportunity and sent her to the elite basketball camps. He was also a tough one-on-one foe.

“I was 17 before I finally beat him one-on-one,” she said. “He never took it easy on me. After that win I thought I was ready for the big time.”

While the basketball season wound up a couple of weeks ago, CVU interim athletic director Pete Coffey observed that the work goes on.

“Her (Otley’s) basketball season is far from over,” Coffey said, noting that because this is so, “athletes coming up through can understand the commitment necessary to be a part of this.”

One of those is Sadie Otley, a junior who has just completed her third championship season as a backcourt starter.

So who now rules the family one-on-one? The question was not asked, but from seeing her in action these past three years, it is known that Sadie can quick as a flash drive to the basket, or fake the drive and launch cord-snapping treys from outside the arc.

Growing pains?


Allocation process spurs debate between developers and neighbors

By Adam White
Observer correspondent

The Williston Development Review Board approved 18 allocation units for fiscal year 2016 at its annual growth management meeting Tuesday, setting the stage for six projects to proceed to the next step of the development process.

Some of those units were shuffled between years and projects, as the board sought to establish a fair and realistic growth rate in the first year of a new allocation system that will stretch over the next decade.

“The whole goal of growth management is to regulate the pace of development,” Town Planner Ken Belliveau said during the meeting. “It’s not perfect; there’s some lumpiness to it.”

“Clear as mud,” was how acting DRB chairman John Bendzunas jokingly described the process later in the meeting.

The largest project under consideration, a 35-unit development proposed for a vacant field across from the Williston Golf Club on North Williston Road, received its full request of allocation on a staggered schedule, with seven units green-lighted for FY16 and the rest spread out over the next seven years.

Developer Chris Snyder said the initial five years’ worth of allocations—a total of 24 units—would likely be banked until a start date some time in 2020, so as to increase the feasibility of the project from a financing standpoint. Allocation units expire if permits for the project are not pulled within a five-year period.

Several neighboring property owners were present at the meeting, and expressed concerns about facets of the project.

Shannon Hiltner of 548 North Williston Road said that while other nearby developments such as Chatham Woods were designed with considerable setbacks from the busy thoroughfare, the proposed configuration of buildings in the Snyder/Bryan project would be “very dense” and “close to the road.”

“We do not feel this fits the context of the area,” Hiltner said.

Hiltner, who is a member of the town’s Planning Commission, also said the water table in that area is “extremely high.”

“Every time it rains, it floods,” Hiltner said. “The water has to go somewhere.”

Pat Troxell of 253 North Williston Road said she worries about the traffic impact of adding 35 more dwelling units to such a well-traveled road.

“North Williston is already a mess at certain times of the day,” Troxell told the board. “What is your part in considering traffic?”

Belliveau replied that a traffic study would be required as part of the project’s discretionary permit process, as determined previously by the board.

Additional points raised about the project included potential debris in the nearby woods and disruption of existing silt fences in the area. Bendzunas said Belliveau typically brings such complaints directly to the board if and when they arise, and has the authority to issue zoning violations if appropriate.

Another project provoking debate at the meeting was a duplex proposed by Alex Pintair for a subdivided lot at 7997 Williston Road, in the village.

Kevin Brochu of 76 Slate Barn Drive said the project was “significantly different” from what was proposed in the pre-application process, resulting in issues that he felt had not been properly addressed.

“It is now two homes instead of one, the property lines are completely different, and the footprint … as originally shown is now not even existent,” Brochu said.

Pintair’s response was that the proposed building’s overall footprint would be relatively small, on what he called “a massive space” by village standards.

“It has always been a single building; the only thing that has changed is space (inside),” Pintair said. “Where the internal walls are is what has changed.”

Brochu said he and his wife, Zuzana, have sought legal counsel on the matter.

“We are prepared to file an appeal, should growth management allocation be granted,” Brochu said. The project ultimately received its two requested units.

The growth management process involves scoring of projects on various criteria by the town’s planning department, and the DRB can alter the resulting scores before deciding on allocations. Five of the staff-recommended scores for the six projects on this year’s agenda were approved as calculated, while the board added five points to Snyder’s project to account for connectivity to existing paths and trails in the area.

Other projects that received allocations at the meeting were Finney Crossing (seven units), a single-unit project at 665 South Brownell Road, and three units each at 186 Spruce Lane and on the east side of South Brownell Road near the Williston/St. George town line.

POPCORN: “Chappie” My Fair Robot



3 popcorns

3 popcorns

“Chappie” My Fair Robot

3 popcorns

By Michael S. Goldberger
Special to the Observer


Sci-Fi fans, techno geeks, open-minded moralists, dabblers in sociology and gamers should all find common ground in director Neill Blomkamp’s “Chappie,” a slightly rambling but nonetheless satisfying conjecture on the possibilities of artificial intelligence. Gritty but often sweet, and as explosive as any modern special effects-laden film when the plot arrives at the push comes to shove part, where it mostly excels is in the philosophical, gray areas of human and robotic ethics. [Read more...]

PHOTOS: St. Patty’s Day fun


Emily Spine (left) and Rachel Henning kept their senses of humor while serving the crowd celebrating St. Patrick’s Day at McGillicuddy’s in Williston on Tuesday evening. (Observer photos by Marianne Apfelbaum)

[Read more...]

PHOTOS: Brick Church concert

Friday Concert_003 Ben 03-13-15

Former Williston resident Ben Kulp performed as part of the Brick Church Music Series in Williston on March 13. (Observer photos by Al Frey)

[Read more...]

PHOTOS: Williston Kids Day


Observer photos by Al Frey

Children, parents, grandparents and guardians from all over northern Vermont turned out for Williston Kids Day on March 14. The event included games, musical theater, bouncy castles, balloon animals, face painting, a photo booth and more. Families also got to meet representatives from the Williston Fire and Williston Police departments. Attendees raised $1,245 for the Williston Community Food Shelf through a suggested admission donation.


Observer Kids_010 Day 03-14-15

Sariah, 3, shows off a sticker to her dad, Chris Hanudel, given to her by Sergeant Justin Huizenga of the Williston Police Department

[Read more...]

Healthy Food for Two: Without limits


By Ania Robertson

The word Ayurveda means “Knowledge of life” and comes from the Sanskrit terms ayur (life) and veda (knowledge). It is one of the world’s oldest holistic (whole-body) healing systems. It was developed thousands of years ago in India. It is based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit. The primary focus of Ayurvedic medicine is to promote good health, rather than fight disease. In Ayurveda, good nutrition and digestion are considered among the most important foundations of our health.

I serve this sauce as a dip with fresh veggies, and my guests are usually surprised that this white sauce is dairy free.

 I like to use fresh horseradish root, and every time I grate it, I feel wistful because of the memories of my loving grandmother, who used to cry, as I cry, over the freshly grated horseradish root. She did not know anything about Hippocrates, Ayurveda or science. She used to say that it is good for our sinuses and tear ducts, and I strongly believe in it.

The pungent root of horseradish herb has been used traditionally in Ayurveda as mucolytics for curing sinus infection. While it has been recognized as a safe herb for internal and external usage, you should always start with smaller amounts. [Read more...]

Hoe Medicare covers in home care


By Jim Miller

Dear Savvy Senior,

How does Medicare cover home health care? Because of my illness, my doctor suggested I get home health care, but I want to find out how it’s covered before I proceed. 

—Need Some Help

Dear Need,

Medicare actually covers up to 28 hours a week for in-home health care to beneficiaries, if you meet their specific requirements. Here’s how it works.

[Read more...]

Hub Happenings


Lenny’s customers raise money for Special Olympics 

Lenny’s customers raised $5,625 for local athletes with intellectual disabilities, the company announced last week.

Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel held an Olympic donation event, and the store and its customers collectively raised $4,513 for Special Olympics Vermont and $1,112 for Special Olympics New York. Customers were challenged to make a platinum, gold, silver or bronze level donation and to receive a discount on their purchase.

Merchants Bank appoints Ackerly [Read more...]

The Hub: Willistonian opens new brewery


By Stephanie Choate
Observer staff

Vermont’s newest brewery has been decades—and countless batches of home-brewed beer—in the making.

“The idea of opening a brewery was planted in my head probably 25-plus years ago,” said Williston resident Garin Frost, who is set to officially open Frost Beer Works this Saturday in Hinesburg.

“The types of beers we focus on, for better or worse, are the types of beers that I like to drink,” Frost said. “I really love IPAs. I was late to join the IPA bandwagon, but since I did a few years back, it’s been hard for me to brew anything else.” [Read more...]