Tag Archives: Salisbury

Eddie MacDonald of Rowley Wins TD Banknorth 250

Eddie MacDonald with checkered flag in victory lane

Eddie MacDonald with checkered flag in victory lane

(Oxford ME) Well, at least part of his wish came true.

Before the qualifying races at Oxford Plains Speedway for the TD Banknorth 250 on Sunday afternoon (July 19th), Eddie MacDonald of Rowley told me, “It would be neat to have the two of us over there in victory lane when the day ends.”

Eddie (29) was referring to fellow racer Mike Johnson (42) from Salisbury.

But it wasn’t meant to be, as Mike had as much bad luck as Eddie had good luck.

Mike ended the day not qualifying for the TD Banknorth 250 despite three tries. “We had a bad transmission and could only get one practice in,” he said.  Mike’s best chance was in his first qualifying attempt when he started in the pole position.

On the other hand, Eddie practiced, qualified and later ended up on victory lane as the winner of arguably the most important annual sporting event in Maine.

Eddie described the victory as, “the biggest win I’ve ever had.”  He collected $25,000 for first place plus an additional $10,300 for keeping #17 in the lead for 103 laps.

During the race, the Triton graduate held the lead when he went in for a pit stop on Lap 129.  He returned to action and thirty-eight laps later he had made up the time lost and was back in front and never trailed the rest of the way.  A year ago, Eddie made a similar pit stop and got new tires only to find the car going slower after the tire change and had to settle for a frustrating 6th place finish.

Eddie was quick to praise his crew afterwards particularly for the work they did during nearly six hours of practice.  “I’d come in about every few practice laps for adjustments including tire changes.”  The frequent stops were partly for practice for the race itself and partly to make sure the car, and specifically the tires, were right unlike the previous year.

You put a tightly spaced field of 41 race cars on a small track (three eighth of a mile) for 250 laps and the likelihood of situations leading to cautions is great.  In this one, there were ten cautions.  The last caution, on Lap 212, was the closest Eddie came to being knocked out of the race entirely.  Right in front of the crowded grandstand a driver spun around right into Eddie’s path but Eddie was able to swerve and avoid contact and drive on from there to the win when racing resumed.

Eddie laughed when he told me that he had “cautions” on his mind as the race wound down.  “I figured that there would be a caution at twenty, ten, and even on the last lap.  I was praying that the caution flag didn’t come out and luckily it didn’t.”

Mike and Eddie are part of the Camping World East Tour.  Ahead for them are scheduled races in New York and Connecticut followed by a September 18th race at nearby (1 ½ hours) Loudon, New Hampshire.
Eddie won twice at Loudon in 2008.

Well-known driver Rusty Wallace was the grand marshal at Oxford while Kenny Wallace and his nephew Steven also took part.  The threesome drew plenty of attention from the crowd.

However, when the race was over it was Rowley’s Eddie MacDonald drawing the biggest cheers of the day.  He summarized the way things went best when he said, “Everything worked just the way we needed it to.”

( This story appeared in The Town Common on July 29, 2009. )

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Young Gymnasts Train Locally and Excel Regionally

Gymnasts Gabe Pellitier, Noah Piotte, and Taylor Gigandet train in Salisbury.

Gymnasts Gabe Pellitier, Noah Piotte, and Taylor Gigandet train in Salisbury.

It was not the easiest place to find but the foggy windows gave away the location of the All Around Gymnastics Training Center at 5 Fanaras Drive in Salisbury.

Owner George Teazis invited me to the gym on April 3rd.  Even on a rainy Friday late afternoon, I saw about thirty elementary-school aged kids actively involved in gymnastics. Hence, the foggy windows.

Three of the boys from the gym had done well enough at the state event in March to qualify for the New England Regionals held in Andover April 5th and I had a chance to chat with each of them before they attended the event.

Gabe Pelletier (11) is a fourth grader in Amesbury.  He said his interest in gymnastics, and I suspect his parents’ as well, began, “when I started doing cartwheels in the living room.” 

Gabe said his best event is the floor exercises although he really enjoys the rings, “because of doing dismounts and all that crazy stuff.”

Taylor Gigandet (11) is from Byfield and attends Newbury Elementary School.  He told me that he started gymnastics about four years ago.  “My sister was doing gymnastics and I would stay home and do nothing,” he said.  “My mother asked if I wanted to start and I did.  I really enjoy it.”

Taylor’s favorite event is his best event – high bar.  “I get my highest scores on it and can do advanced tricks.”  That ability earned Taylor the gold medal in the high bar and fifth overall at the New England Regionals on April 5th at Andover High School.

Noah Piotte (14) is from Haverhill.  “My grandmother got me into gymnastics about four years ago,” he recalled. “She thought it would be good for me.”

Noah said that his favorite event is the rings because, “it takes the most strength.” 

Noah is now the New England champion in the parallel bars. He also finished fourth overall at Andover.

“George (Teazis) is training me to be a coach,” added Noah.  “I’ll probably help coach some of the older kids.”

Several days after the interview, George called me with the results of the New England Regionals and added that, “he was extremely pleased with how his boys did.  We go at it all year and the boys have worked hard.  They will now move up to a more difficult level and hopefully be ready to compete at that level by November/December.”

George reports that his facility is a busy place.  “We have about 300-400 kids come here during a typical week.  I say sometimes that my wife (Debbie) and I live here.”

“We have been here for about 15 years,” he said, “and I have been coaching for 34 years.”  He laughed when he told me, “I just got a call from a former student who told me she wanted to bring her daughter here.” 

Gymnastics are not easy, according to George.  “It is the hardest sport in the world,” he explained.  “Pound for pound gymnasts are the strongest athletes in the world.  There is plenty of work involved to get good at it.”

Most of the gymnasts I have seen are not only strong but also short.  “Size matters in gymnastics,” said George.

I learned that in competition gymnasts are not divided by age but by ability.  “Older doesn’t mean anything in gymnastics,” he explained.  “A seven or eight year old can be competing on the same level as someone fifteen or sixteen.”

“We enjoy teaching kids,” he added.  “We think that they enjoy it here.  It keeps some of them out of trouble.  They learn about making a commitment to something positive which gives them a good sense for later life.”

(This story appeared in The Town Common on April 15th)

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All Around Gymnastics Training Center of Salisbury

Gabe, Noah, and Taylor from the All Around Gymnastics Training Center in Salisbury.

Gabe, Noah, and Taylor from the All Around Gymnastics Training Center in Salisbury.

Gymnastics?  I got them as an assignment for The Town Common. 

What do I know about gymnastics?  The only time I’ve ever seen them has been on TV especially during the Olympics.

I know that the people involved are small and daring.  They clearly do things you would be apprehensive to watch live with lesser skilled people performing.

Anyhow, I got the assignment to cover the accomplishments of the All Around Gymnastics Training Center in Salisbury.

I arranged for an interview on April 3rd.  If you know my “sense” of direction, you could easily find a place that is down the street from Salisbury’s Hodgies.  Unfortunately, Hodgies opened the day AFTER I did the interview.

This gym was hard to find on a wet late afternoon.  There were no outside markings that gave the name away, as far as I could see.  The giveaway was the fogged up windows.  Picture a school bus on a rainy day.

I entered a place that had an assortment of gymnastic equipment.  Outside that area was a windowed room where parents could watch what was going on.

I could see that the participants were almost exclusively elementary school age.  There was a lot going on, sort of like a school cafeteria.

The owner, George Teazis, saw me.  I knew he was Greek because of his name and because I had talked to him on the phone.  I was there to talk to him and to the three boys from that gym who had qualified for the New England Regionals. 

Two of the boys were fourth graders and eleven while the other kid was fourteen.  The older kid had obviously been lifting a lot as you can see in the picture. 

I tried to ask each kid similar questions.  One of them was very curious to know what paper the story would go in.  I tried to explain that I didn’t work for ESPN.

After the boys, I waited for George and had the chance to see, what could have been, an eight year old go through a floor routine.  This little girl did flips and spins as George coached her and was very impressive.

George has been coaching for 34 years and has worked with literally thousands of kid,s I suspect.  He was quite demanding of the kids but since he knows what it takes to be a good gymnast he had everyone’s attention.  He said that there’s not a lot of fooling around and the kid’s train hard. 

George got me to confirm that the story would appear April 15th. 

Today I got a call from George updating me on how the three boys had done at the Regionals.  That helped me a lot with the story because it gave it closure.  Two of the boys had won first place medals in individual events.

I now think, after doing the story, that seeing some of these young gymnasts in action might be a good take.

(I have prepared an article about this training center for The Town Common.  When it is posted on their website I will bring it onto this blog.

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Red Sox World Series Trophies on Display in Salisbury

(Let it be understood that the above picture did not accompany the story below.  However, being on hand to do the story about the trophy visit for The Town Common I couldn’t resist jumping in for a picture as well.  Hey, any longsuffering Red Sox fan would have done the same thing, wouldn’t they? 

During the last Open House I was part of at Ipswich Middle School in early 2002 I told the parents that I had been teaching for a long time, in fact I had been around to see the Bruins, Celtics, and now the Patriots capture championships.  I asked the parents how much longer I’d have to teach before the same thing would happen to the Red Sox.  Some wanted to know how old I intended to live to!

My father took me to my first Red Sox game in the 1950s.  I recall being in awe of how close the left field wall was.  I remember Ted Williams as someone who refused to wear a tie and had no use for the media.  The only modern athlete I can equate him with is Rasheed Wallace.  No question, though, that Ted was a great hitter but of course despite having him the Red Sox were always also-rans.

I remember getting caught up in the excitement of the 1967 & 1986 Red Sox.  I am glad that Boston management welcomed Billy Buckner back this year on Opening Day.  No one person loses a game or a Series but his error will always flashback in my mind every time a grounder goes through some unfortunate player’s wickets.

In my opinion the greatest Red Sox moment was when they came back in the AL Championship series in 2004 against the Yankees after being down 3-0.  Neither the Yankees or the Red Sox have been the same since it happened.)

(Duford Family poses with Red Sox trophies – (left to right – Jeff, Duffy, Roger, Ron, Jerry, Rudy, Scot)

A veritable sea of red appeared on May 14th at Winner’s Circle in Salisbury for an appealing event organized by the Massachusetts Lottery. Attendees got a chance to see the Boston Red Sox World Series championship trophies from the 2004 and 2007 seasons and get pictures taken with those trophies.

With a line of excited fans within the restaurant and out the back door, it was obvious that the opportunity to see both World Series trophies at one time was very enticing to many in the area.

It has been a while since the Red Sox won the first of those trophies after a four-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals in October of 2004 but the memory of that event is still fresh in the minds of many.

“The win in 2004 was the best,” said Mary Hargreaves of Salisbury Beach after having her picture taken.  “For all those years people made fun of the team.  When we finally won it I was almost numb.”

George Roux of Salisbury agreed.  “It was ten times better than the 2007 one.  I don’t have one t-shirt that has, ‘2007 World Series Champs,’ on it.  All of them say ‘2004.’

For some on hand at Winner’s Circle, memories of the Red Sox stir emotions.  “I grew up with the Red Sox,” said Pam Henshaw of Amesbury.  “I went to the games as a little girl with my father.  He passed away before they won a World Series.  My mother and I watched games together and she saw both World Series wins.  She passed away in March.”

Plenty of youngsters came by with their parents to get a picture taken standing behind the trophies.  Not everyone was certain that the kids in the audience understood the magnitude of what the Red Sox accomplished.  “I’m not sure that these kids know how hard winning a championship can be,” said Ron Duford, a member of the family that owns Winner’s Circle.

His brother Jerry said that winning the first one in 2004 was crucial.  “The Red Sox have been rolling ever since.  They’re now contenders each year.  I’m optimistic about this year.”

Jerry explained that he and his two brothers grew up in Salisbury and that what is now Winner’s Circle had been their residence from 1955-1973.  “We lived here until 1973 and then converted it into a bring-your-own-beer game room.  Later it was changed into what it is now.”

Jerry added, “We were very fortunate to have the Lottery pick us to show the trophies.  We put our name in to get them but never knew when the trophies would be available.”

Many area Red Sox fans are pleased on May 14th that Winner’s Circle persisted.

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