Monthly Archives: March 2010

Will Phoebe Prince’s Death Wake Up the Parents and Grandparents of Teenagers??

Phoebe Prince ended her life on January 14, 2010 in South Hadley, Massachusetts.

The investigation into Phoebe Prince’s death in South Hadley (MA) should be a wake-up call to parents and grandparents of teenagers.  It was to me.

I started thinking about what the kids in my life have to fall back on when family, friends, and school become troubled, and in Phoebe’s case, when they all get troubled at the same time. 

I refused to buy the, “It can’t happen to my kid,” folly and ignore the issue.  This line of thinking would be like living on low-lying land on Plum Island (MA) and choosing to believe that you will always be safe during storms.

“We get along well with our kids.”  “They have lots of friends.”  “They’re doing well in school.”  Among those nine kids indicted in South Hadley, there are surely relatives who said those same things before Phoebe arrived in the summer of 2009.  Who could have imagined that an apparently minor thing like one young girl moving into town could lead, in months, to everything coming unglued for a group of teenagers? 

Family, friends, and school are wonderful things but not worth putting our ultimate trust in.  Each comes with an uncertainty similar to that experienced by the realistic, low-lying homeowners on Plum Island. 

I trust God when it comes to my ultimate security. You and your family ought to consider doing the same thing if you have not already.

As I understand it, Phoebe had no one to turn to.  She did not know that God loved her.  If she had, she could have felt secure in Him despite all the trouble with family, friends, and school. She would have known that God cared for her even if she believed that no one else did. That knowledge may have prevented the choice she decided to make. 

The first four books of the New Testament have numerous stories of Jesus interacting with the Phoebe’s of His time.  He healed, comforted, and blessed many that had troubles that seemed insurmountable.  We face no trouble that He cannot help us get through in our day as well. 

 If you see the limitations of secular solutions then now is the time for you to try God. 

How is that done? First, understand that God is perfect and you are not.  Sounds obvious but some folks get hung up there.  In addition, because of your lifetime of imperfections of all types (small and large), you deserve to end up separated from God.  However, God loved you and sent Jesus to die (Good Friday) for the punishment you deserved because of your imperfections. 

Making God your ultimate life support takes three steps: (1) admit to God that you are imperfect, (2) believe that Jesus died to cover your imperfections, and (3) give your life to God.

Do those things and you will be adding Someone to your life that will never leave you no matter what the circumstances.  He will be there in the mountains of life and the valleys. 

There is a story in the Bible about a foolish man and a wise man.  The foolish man built his house on the sand.  The wise man built his house on a rock.  When the storms came, one house collapsed and the other did not.

You know that life will produce storms for you and your family.  Is your ultimate security and their ultimate security in something solid enough to make it through?

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Over-30 Softball Leagues Available for Men and Women

Christine Miller (left) and Jen Miller-True (right) operate a softball league for women over thirty of any ability.

Two area leagues offer softball opportunities for men and women over thirty. 

Skill level and most recent playing experience are not detriments to participation.

In Groveland, Dirt the Skirt Sports Corporation (name came from the movie, “A League of Their Own”) is in its second season. “We offer women over thirty the chance for some fun and exercise playing softball,” said league president Christine Higgins.

“I was an athlete in school,” said Christine, a Boston attorney, “but life had sort of gotten in the way for the last 10-15 years of continuing in sports.  So I decided to organize a softball league.”

The overwhelming response to the women’s league has been a surprise.  “Last year we had 100 members and this year we’re anticipating over 150 members,” said league VP Jen Miller-True.  “Many women have been looking for this type of league for some time and we’re the first to provide it.”

On the other hand, the Over-30 Men’s Softball League in Ipswich is well established.  “This is our 38th season,” said league secretary Peter Rockett.

The origins of organized, over-30 softball for men in Ipswich had little to do with softball or exercise.  “A group of guys in Ipswich, back in the ‘70s, were looking for a way to raise money for scholarships for seniors at Ipswich High School,” Peter explained.  “The idea of organizing for that purpose, around softball for over-30 men, was suggested and then begun.  No one else anywhere was doing anything like this.”

The women’s league uses fields in Groveland. The league is open to players from anywhere.  Games are on weekends from May-August and there are practices during the week. 

The Ipswich men’s league uses fields in that town. Players must be from Ipswich or a surrounding town or work in Ipswich. Games are once a week.  “The only time we get together is for doubleheaders on Sundays,” explained Peter.  “Not having practices appeals to some players’ time schedules but the possibility of getting a muscle strain or worse is a real one especially early in the season.”

A common theme with both leagues is the attempt by management to keep the teams balanced.  The Ipswich league, with four teams of sixteen players each, has a complete redrafting of players every two years in an attempt to keep teams even.  The Dirt the Skirt League, with seven teams and possibly three more, has tryouts to evaluate players before attempting to place them on teams.

One certainty with both softball leagues is the variance in skill levels.  Some players come with resumes while others, as Christine, who played softball at Revere High School, puts it, “don’t know which hand to put the glove on.  We work hard to accommodate all skill levels.”

Another variable is age.  “The age goes up to about sixty so far in our league,” said Jen, who was co-captain of Triton’s softball team for two years. “I still hope that I can be playing when I’m in my 50s and 60s.”

Any discussion of age with the Ipswich Over-30 league turns to Joey Rosenberger, listed on the league’s website as the League Historian/Director.  “Joey goes back to the beginning of the league,” said Peter, who joined in 1995.  “He’s in his mid-70s and still plays two games each Sunday at second base.  He’s in great shape and loves playing and being with his friends.”

Both softball leagues have websites (www.ipswichover30.com and www.dirttheskirtsoftball.com ) where additional details and contact information is available. 

Christine said, “Our motto is: Haven’t played in ten, twenty, or thirty years?  Neither have we.  Come out and join us and have some fun.”

(This story appeared in The Town Common on March 23, 2010.)

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Pentucket Falls in State D3 Finals to Lee 56-42

Lee girls pose with D3 state championship trophy after pulling away from cold-shooting Pentucket in the last quarter.

(Worcester) Defense can only take a team so far.  They must light up the scoreboard to win.

Pentucket (26-1) went incredibly cold in the final quarter and it cost them as they lost the D3 state finals to Lee, 56-42, on Saturday morning at the DCU Center in Worcester.

Lee (24-1) neutralized Pentucket’s normal defensive advantages by using the same approach (pressure defense) nearly as effectively.

It was on offense that the Wildcats won the game.  Although Lee was only 15-for-47 (31.9%), and most teams don’t usually win shooting 31.9%, those numbers were good enough on this day because the Sachems were just 12-for-67 (17.9%).

However, despite all the subpar shooting, Pentucket was in contention even as late as two minutes into the last quarter. Sarah Higgins nailed a jumper to bring the Sachems to within a point, 39-38, and left the outcome very much in doubt. Unfortunately, after that, Pentucket connected on just 1-of-17 shots with three air balls in the mix.

During the fatal last six minutes, Pentucket’s ability to put together consistent offense vanished and their ability to control Lee defensively took a similar route.  While the Sachems struggled to score, the Wildcats put up points in ten of their last thirteen possessions (17-4 run) and had more than enough offense to win the state title.

Both teams played fullcourt defense and the exertion required executing it and reacting to it may have taken the shooting legs out from under the Sachems late.  Lee, on the other hand, had foul trouble in the first half and some of their players were benched and got some extra rest because of it.  That unwanted rest may have been given Lee the extra energy they played with in the late, game-deciding minutes.

Katie Eckert (15 points) chased by Emily Lane

Pentucket started the game slowly (trailed 11-4) despite forcing six turnovers in the first three minutes. Katie Eckert (15 points) tallied Lee’s first nine points with a couple of 3’s.

Behind 13-6, the Sachems rallied for seven straight into the start of the second period to tie the score with Ashley Viselli (19 points) getting the last points on a three assisted by Erin McNamara.

Pentucket’s best show of offense was late in the second quarter when they put up ten unanswered points to take a 27-21 advantage with two minutes left in the half.  Ashley Viselli scored five while sister Nicole had two free throws and Sarah Higgins hit a trey.

The Sachems had a 28-24 halftime margin.

When a team (Pentucket) has won 26 straight and leads at halftime, you can’t help but expect that they are on their way to a state title.  However, the Lee girls’ basketball program has more state championships (now seven) than any other athletic program in the state.  They had also reached the state semifinals in seven of the last eight years.  Point?  This team knows something about winning.

This year’s Lee team is a team with multiple point guards and that became important in the second half.  Lee ended up with only eight turnovers in the second half and, as a result, Pentucket had less success using their pressuring defense to limit an opponent’s opportunities on offense.

The Wildcats were able either to get to the basket or the foul line during  the regrettable (for Pentucket) final period.  Lee was 11-for-15 on free throws in the last quarter.

Tara Dooley (#22) defends Erin McNamara (#3)

Erin McNamara (4 points) faced a very good defender in Tara Dooley (9 points) but had shot attempts that we’ve seen her connect on as recently as the Archbishop Williams game (state semifinals – 28 points).  Versus Lee, Erin was 0-for-6 on 3’s and 1-for-14 overall.  To see how sad she was as the game slipped away had me hoping that someone got in her ear about the fact that no one player wins or loses a team game.

What a great run the Sachems had this season!  A quick look at their roster would suggest that this might not be the last time I’m writing about them in an MIAA tournament connection.

( All stats are unofficial. )

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