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Thursday, June 24, 2021

251: Tracking Elle Purrier St. Pierre in Montgomery

Posted By on Thu, Jun 24, 2021 at 7:38 PM

NIkki Woods at the Snow Shoe Lodge & Pub in Montgomery Center - SALLY POLLAK ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Sally Pollak ©️ Seven Days
  • NIkki Woods at the Snow Shoe Lodge & Pub in Montgomery Center
For the first installment of 251, an online series of dispatches from Vermont towns, I followed the stars. That is, I went to Montgomery, the hometown of soon-to-be Olympian Elle Purrier St. Pierre.

A star runner at Richford High School and the University of New Hampshire, Purrier St. Pierre qualified for the Olympics on Monday, when she won the 1,500-meter race at the track-and-field trials in Eugene, Ore. A 26-year-old speedster who grew up on a dairy farm in Montgomery Center, Purrier St. Pierre set personal and meet records to win in 3:58.03. She triumphed in high heat, even  after getting shoved off the track at the start of the race.

With this awe-inspiring achievement in mind, I drove to Montgomery on Wednesday. The Franklin County town welcomes visitors with a sign on Route 118: "Smile, You’re in Montgomery." Walking around the village and over two covered bridges, I came across a person who happened to be Purrier St. Pierre’s middle school basketball coach. (Back then she was Elle Purrier; St. Pierre is her married name.)

John Newton was playing hide-and-seek with his pug, George, when I ran into him.

“We would do sprints and she blew everybody away,” Newton told me. He remembered telling Purrier St. Pierre’s mother that her daughter was going to be a better runner than a basketball player. “But I never dreamed she would be that good,” Newton added.
Covered bridge in Montgomery - SALLY POLLAK ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Sally Pollak ©️ Seven Days
  • Covered bridge in Montgomery
It was a lucky surprise to bump into a former coach of Purrier St. Pierre’s, but the main purpose of my trip was to drink a Captain and Coke at the Snow Shoe Lodge & Pub in Montgomery Center. It’s Purrier St. Pierre’s local bar, and I’d read in the New York Times that’s her drink.

Bartenders Nikki Woods and Angela Wendt are northern Vermonters close in age to Purrier St. Pierre. Woods greeted me at the bar and took my order. I watched her pour a long, steady flow of rum into a 16-ounce glass before she squirted in a little Coke.

“Elle’s the child of a dairy farmer,” said Woods, 24, who grew up on a farm in Enosburg. “She already had all that muscle to begin with.”

Wendt, 25, is from “the other side of the mountain.” But she found a home in Montgomery, on the west side of Jay Peak, five years ago.

“This town is like a little patchwork quilt,” Wendt said. “A little nook where people can come and relax and be themselves.”

The early crowd at the Snow Shoe is a beer-and-whiskey bunch, big on baseball caps with sunglasses perched on the visor. A few people were talking about Purrier St. Pierre’s win, and the colorful language she used in a post-race interview to express her excitement.

“What do you expect from a farmer?” Brent Godin said. “God dang it!” (Godin said that, when he ran, he vomited.)

Marty Cota, 57,  was drinking a Coors light at the bar. He told me his best time in the mile — running in formation 35 years ago in the Air Force — was more than eight minutes. That’s more than twice the time of Purrier St. Pierre’s personal best at the trials.

“If she wasn’t running, she was running the hay truck up and down the hill,” Cota said. “She works hard all the time.”

Cota predicts she’ll “kill it” at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. He said her achievement is important for local kids.

“They have someone to look up to right now,” he said. “A hero — and Elle’s it.”

251 is a series of on-the-road stories, coming soon to a town near you.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Vermont Lake Monsters 2020 Season Canceled

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2020 at 6:55 PM

Burlington's Centennial Field - COURTESY OF VERMONT LAKE MONSTERS
  • courtesy of Vermont lake monsters
  • Burlington's Centennial Field
There will be no Hot Dog Heaven nights at Burlington's Centennial Field this summer. Nor will there be rousing renditions of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the seventh-inning stretch, or condiment races around the infield between innings. On Tuesday, the Vermont Lake Monsters announced that their 2020 season is canceled.

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Sunday, January 12, 2020

Noted Sportswriters to Speak at 'A Night of Hall of Fame Hoops'

Posted By on Sun, Jan 12, 2020 at 1:23 PM

Jack McCallum - COURTESY OF JACK MCCALLUM
  • Courtesy of Jack McCallum
  • Jack McCallum
If you were to put together a dream team of some of the most accomplished and influential basketball journalists of the last 40 or 50 years, you might start with Bob Ryan. The semi-retired Boston Globe columnist is as respected a basketball writer as there is on the planet, and as recognizable a figure in Boston sports as any non-player. That's due to his decades of coverage dating back to the late 1960s, when he started as a Celtics beat writer.

After Ryan, you might tab his onetime Globe colleague Jackie MacMullan, now a senior writer for ESPN. She's authored or coauthored some of the seminal books on the NBA's golden age, including 2009's When the Game Was Ours with Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. And since she played Division 1 hoops for the University of New Hampshire Wildcats, Jackie Mac would be an asset if and when a pickup game broke out.

Middlebury's Alexander Wolff would be a natural choice, too. He's a longtime Sports Illustrated writer and author of the 2016 book The Audacity of Hoop: Basketball and the Age of Obama.

And speaking of SI writers, the captain of this little dream team would almost have to be Jack McCallum. After all, he wrote the book on the real Dream Team.

'Dream Team' by Jack McCallum
  • 'Dream Team' by Jack McCallum
McCallum, 71, is a former SI senior writer who started at the magazine in 1981. He's the author of Dream Team: How Michael, Magic, Larry, Charles and the Greatest Team of All Time Conquered the World and Changed the Game of Basketball Forever, a 2012 book about the 1992 U.S. men's Olympic basketball team.

He's also the author of, among numerous other books, :07 Seconds or Less — My Season on the Bench With the Runnin' and Gunnin' Phoenix Suns, for which he embedded himself with the Suns for the entire 2005-06 NBA season.

Presently, McCallum is teaching a sports journalism course at Middlebury College for its winter semester, the second year in a row he's taught that class at the school. McCallum's son Jamie, also an author, is an associate professor of sociology at the college — though the sportswriter says it was actually another Middlebury prof who suggested he teach the class.

As part of that intensive course, on Wednesday, January 15, McCallum moderates 'A Night of Hall of Fame Hoops,' a panel discussion with Ryan, MacMullan and Wolff at the McCardell Bicentennial Hall at Middlebury College. (BTW, if you wanted to round out our dream team's starting five, you could include sportscaster Curt Gowdy. Each panelist, including McCallum, is a recipient of the Curt Gowdy Media Award from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, hence the evening's title.)

Ahead of the event, which is is free and open to the public, Seven Days spoke with McCallum by phone.

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Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Second Down: Buffalo Bills Hire Former Dartmouth Football Coach Callie Brownson

Posted By on Tue, Sep 3, 2019 at 12:15 PM

Callie Brownson - FILE: SARAH PRIESTAP
  • File: Sarah Priestap
  • Callie Brownson
On most Sunday afternoons during football season, a certain subset of NFL fans routinely descends upon Ruben James, the college-y sports bar and dance club on Main Street in Burlington. Unofficially, RJ's is the city's "Bills bar," where Buffalo Bills die-hards gather to root on — and in recent years, largely lament — the downtrodden AFC East club.

It's been a rough couple of decades for Bills fans since the early-1990s glory days of Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas and Marv Levy, when the team ruled the AFC and made it to four consecutive Super Bowls. But in early September, at least, hope springs eternal for NFL fans. And as a new season begins this week, there's reason for guarded optimism in Buffalo — and by extension, at RJ's.

When fans tune in to watch the Bills play the division rival New York Jets this Sunday, much of the intrigue will center on Buffalo's nimble, rocket-armed, second-year QB Josh Allen and a feisty defense. But locals might also recognize a familiar face roaming the Buffalo sidelines.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Sail Away: Community Sailing Center Launches Free Program

Posted By on Tue, Aug 20, 2019 at 5:00 PM

Sailors in a CSC boat - COURTESY OF THE COMMUNITY SAILING CENTER
  • Courtesy of the Community Sailing Center
  • Sailors in a CSC boat
An old chestnut in sailing circles is that the best two days of a sailor's life are the day he or she buys a boat … and the day he/she sells it. For landlubbers, the joke is that, while sailing can be a blissful pastime, it's also a notoriously expensive and consuming hobby.

This week, the Community Sailing Center in Burlington announced a new initiative that will take away much of the hassle and virtually all of the expense of sailing for those looking to get out on the water.

Beginning in September, the CSC will offer weekend sailboat rentals gratis through its new Free Sailing Program, which is believed to be the first of its kind in the United States.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Bandwagon Preview: UVM vs. Florida State

Posted By on Tue, Mar 19, 2019 at 2:59 PM

University of Vermont Catamounts - UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT
  • University of Vermont
  • University of Vermont Catamounts
Put on your dancin' shoes, Cats fans. Saturday, the University of Vermont men's basketball team earned a ticket to the Big Dance, aka the NCAA Division 1 tournament, by dominating the University of Maryland Baltimore County Saturday in the America East conference finals. As an added bonus, in doing so the Catamounts avenged last season's crushing finals loss to those same UMBC Retrievers — if you recall, UMBC went on to make NCAA tournament history in 2018 as the first 16 seed to beat a 1 seed.

UVM's reward? (Other than sweet, sweet vengeance?) A 13 seed in the tourney and a date with fourth seeded and heavily favored Florida State at 2 p.m. on Thursday, March 21, in Hartford, Conn.

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Monday, June 25, 2018

Refugee Communities Find Cause for Celebration During Difficult Year

Posted By on Mon, Jun 25, 2018 at 4:09 PM

Interpreter Poe Poh (left) and Thaw Theet at Leddy Park in Burlington - KYMELYA SARI
  • Kymelya Sari
  • Interpreter Poe Poh (left) and Thaw Theet at Leddy Park in Burlington
For the last seven years, Thaw Theet has always attended local festivities to commemorate World Refugee Day, which is observed across the world on June 20.

"I came here as a refugee," said the South Burlington resident. "Even though I am now a U.S. citizen, I will never forget where I came from." Though Theet understands English, she's shy about conversing in the language and chose to speak through an interpreter instead.

Theet, an ethnic-Karen from Myanmar, isn't alone in wanting to honor her history. Last Saturday, upward of 300 people — refugees, former refugees, social service providers and community partners — gathered at Burlington's Leddy Park to celebrate World Refugee Day.

"It's a happy day for me," said Theet, 33.

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Friday, April 20, 2018

Seven Questions for Vermont SABR Chair Clayton Trutor

Posted By on Fri, Apr 20, 2018 at 1:38 PM

Clayton Trutor - COURTESY OF CLAYTON TRUTOR
  • Courtesy of Clayton Trutor
  • Clayton Trutor
Vermont baseball nerds, rejoice! This weekend, the Vermont chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) takes the field after a long rain delay, metaphorically speaking. The Gardner-Waterman (Vermont) SABR chapter holds its spring meeting at the Robert Miller Community and Recreation Center in Burlington this Sunday, April 22.

The local SABR chapter was founded in the 1990s by noted local baseball historian Tom Simon and others. But according to current chair Clayton Trutor, the collective of baseball researchers, historians and statisticians had fallen dormant in recent years. Trutor is attempting to jumpstart the chapter and hopes to hold meetings at least twice per year.

"It's an opportunity for members to present their research on the history of baseball and the statistics of the game," Trutor tells Seven Days. He adds: "There will also be a trivia contest."

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Monday, February 26, 2018

Abenakis Gather for Traditional Snow Snake Game in West Barnet

Posted By on Mon, Feb 26, 2018 at 9:01 AM

Winners of 2018 Snow Snake Games, left to right: Nate Chenevert, Gavin MacNeille, Rhonda Besaw and Bryan Blanchett - KYMELYA SARI
  • Kymelya Sari
  • Winners of 2018 Snow Snake Games, left to right: Nate Chenevert, Gavin MacNeille, Rhonda Besaw and Bryan Blanchett
Last Saturday, about two dozen people gathered in West Barnet to play the traditional Native American winter game of snow snake. The games also coincided with the official opening of the Nulhegan Abenaki Cultural Center.

"This is an ancient Native game," explained Donald Stevens, chief of the Nulhegan band of the Abenaki nation. "You slide a stick down the track. Whoever goes the farthest wins."

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Monday, December 18, 2017

Volleyball Tournament Brings Bhutanese Communities Together

Posted By on Mon, Dec 18, 2017 at 1:02 PM

Volunteers and members of Green Mountain Bhutanese Organization - KYMELYA SARI
  • Kymelya Sari
  • Volunteers and members of Green Mountain Bhutanese Organization
Some say that sports bring people together. That was literally true last Saturday, as Bhutanese communities from Rochester and Syracuse, N.Y., were in Burlington to meet old friends and compete in the second interstate volleyball tournament.

Hosted by the Green Mountain Bhutanese Organization, the daylong event was held at Edmunds Middle School.

"Because of this sport, we can bring our community together, to spend leisure time together," said GMBO president Raghu Acharya.

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