Beyond The Score

Central Vermont Sports Blog

A Message for the Lady Solons!

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Times have changed. Today we get instant news from Tweets, Facebook messages, blogs and online news. Times Argus Sports Editor, Anna Grearson, is amazing at keeping us in the action by sending online updates of current games around the area. She also takes notes of the game she’s watching for an article she’ll publish later that night.

Some of us still enjoy holding the daily newspaper in our hands, turning the pages and reading the local news. I save articles that really grab me and reread them many times. I want to share one such piece written back in 1988 by Times Argus Sports writer Stephanie Carter.

Stephanie graduated from Twinfield High and attended Norwich University, Duke University and North Carolina State. She was a reporter for the Times Argus fresh out of college. She was a newswoman for Associated Press, Burlington Free Press, press secretary for Governor Dean, acting commissioner for Vermont Dept. of Tourism and currently communication director at UNC.

In the late 80’s she wrote a weekly column for the Times Argus titled “Beyond the Score.” No, I didn’t steal the title. She gave me permission to use it. I want to continue her emphasis on sport outside the game highlighting player accomplishments and fan reactions.

The Times Argus Sports section back in the 80’s was much larger than today. It had 4 pages of local sports news. There were five sports writers; Tom Brown, Dave Moody, Greg Titus, Pete Hartt and Stephanie Carter. Moody, Titus and Hartt were also photographers. I always looked forward to reading the weekly columns; Wednesdays – Touching Base by Pete Hartt, Thursdays – Beyond the Score by Stephanie Carter and Fridays – An Idle Mind by Greg Titus. Each had a special focus and celebrated everything from racing, pro ball to high school sports. Today we have Jim Higgins – Local Angle on occasion and Anna Grearson – On Deck.

It’s playoff time and the #11 Montpelier High girls had a big win over #6 U32 Wednesday night.  They are traveling to #3 Fair Haven on Saturday to compete in a quarterfinal game.

Good Luck Lady Solons and here’s a message for you before the game. Read on!

A reprint from 1988 of Stephanie’s column in Beyond the Score. It’s as meaningful today as it was back then!

Thursday February 25, 1988  Barre-Montpelier Times Argus

“Savoring The Anticipation – And Memory – Of A Playoff Game” by Stephanie Carter

The Olympic Games were worlds away from Vermont last Saturday, but the pre game anticipation, tension and nervous stomachs of important competition were present in eight gymnasiums throughout the state as 16 girls’ basketball teams were gearing up for quarterfinal action.

Outside was a springlike thaw with cool temperatures and plenty of sunshine. But inside, amidst banners and corsages and fans clad in school colors, a brew of nerves simmered.

Inside the Locker Room

Twenty-five minutes before game time and ankles are being taped, warm-up jackets being put on and taken off. It’s players trying to act like it’s just another game after the coach just threw up in the bathroom.It’s drilling each other on which offense is “two” and which defense is “C”. It’s remembering where you go on the press.For seniors on the higher seeded teams, it’s realizing that this is the last time they’ll play on their home court. It’s the worry that this may be the last game of their career, period.

In the Stands

Nervous parents lean forward snapping gum and wringing hands. They’ve traveled to their kids’ games since sixth grade, trying to be supportive, while not over-emphasizing the importance of sports. It’s wanting their kids to do well, but wanting them to know they’re still O.K. if they don’t win, knowing that the next 24 hours will be a whole lot brighter if they do win. It’s wondering what their kids are going through. Younger brother and sisters have come along to cheer, not certain what “quarterfinal” means, but glad to be out of the house on a Saturday afternoon. Classmates arrive in a variety of dress and mood Many wear school colors and some carry signs. Others sit back cooly for the ride. They all hope that the team wins; it’s nice to have something concrete to cheer about at school.

Back Inside the Locker Room

Fifteen minutes before game time, and for most players, it’s a struggle between knowing that basketball is not the end-all and be-all of life, yet knowing that for the next hour-and-a-half, it will be. It’s wanting to give 100 percent and worrying that you’ll have a 65 percent game that just won’t cut it. It’s daydreaming about making a jumper at the buzzer to win the game by one; it’s the nightmare that you blew it at the foul line and lost the game. It’s intense sweat in a clean, ironed uniform, looking for tape to cover barrettes. It’s looking around at teammates who have been a major part of your life for four years, knowing that they won’t be next year. It’s realizing that you got only three hours of sleep last night, but you’re far from tired.

Out on the Floor

Twelve minutes to game time and one player emerges from the locker room to find a pack of gum, and then retreats. Another struts out to pick up the usual warm-up ball. The door closes again. Then the team comes out for real to receive the biggest pre-game applause they’ve ever heard. As they splinter into two lanes for layups, it’s wondering if this is the final warm up or does it go on from here? It’s trying to block out the microphones and wires of radio, ignoring cameras, while getting a charge that they’re there. It’s players stretching and giving adrenalin-filled “high fives.” The visiting team has traveled with it’s familiar tunes and plays them now for motivation and the comfort of continuity. They have never seen this particular gym before. For the home team, it’s wanting to go out in style, winning the final game on the same floor that has been the site of running laps and sit ups and scrimmages and new plays and pulled muscles for years. It’s sneaking glances at the other team, trying to pick out the star, convincing yourself that the six footer isn’t that tall.

The Final Huddle

Hands, freezing and shaky, join before the opening buzzer. Mouths drop open to reassure each other, but no one can understand what anybody’s saying (it’s just too noisy) until the final “Let’s Go.” Then, everybody knows what to do.

Vermont high school basketball tournaments are a chance for players to be stars. For most of those who participate, organized basketball will never again be a part of their lives, and they will never be in such good physical condition. But for 16 teams, a Saturday quarterfinal is a reward for hard work and learning about teamwork. It’s a chance to be in the spotlight.

For all of its pressure and mixed messages, a basketball quarterfinal is something that won’t ever be forgotten. It is one of those frozen moments, and no matter how far from the high school gym your life takes you, that game won’t ever be lost.



Written by Roger

March 8, 2012 at 11:18 PM

One Response

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  1. Thanks for bringing this back, Roger, and Stephanie, for writing it! What a treat for players and those of us who love the game and/or have been there!!

    Newton Baker

    March 9, 2012 at 1:00 PM

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