sports column

EXCEPT FOR HER time in college, when she was a successful sprinter on the track, Tracey Thompson Turner has always been a passionate horsewoman, and still competes at a high level in an equestrian event called “Combined Driving.”
In the new (2015) field house at Middlebury College, against the north wall (nearest the main entrance), down on the actual playing surface, large boards behind glass list the individual record holders in track and field — men and women, indoors and outdoors. It’s hard not to take special note of the first name among the women’s outdoor records, right at the top: the record-holder in the 100 meter dash — “Tracey Thompson, 11.9, 1979.” That’s a record that has stood for over 40 years, and withstood the challenge of hundreds and hundreds of runners in this exciting event that often culminates a...

JULES TYGIEL’S HISTORY of the integration of baseball is among columnist Karl Lindholm’s favorite non-fiction books on the sport because of it’s first-class scholarship and narrative appeal.
SABR, the Society of American Baseball Research, is in its 50th year. Begun in 1971 by 16 serious baseball fans, the organization today has over 6,000 members. To celebrate it 50th anniversary, SABR is publishing a book of 50 essays, “SABR 50 at 50: The Society for American Baseball Research’s Fifty Most Essential Contributions to the Game,” one for each year. One of those essays, (“The Book”) from SABR’s research journal, The National Pastime, (1996) is by our sports columnist Karl Lindholm and is included in this volume. Here is a condensed version of that piece.   “I never play by the book...
My alarm went off at 4 a.m. I bolted upright, fumbled for my iPhone on the nightstand, and shut it off as quickly as I could, hoping to avoid waking my wife. Before I could even stand up, I heard a high wind whipping through the trees outside. The turkeys were not going to be out and about much this morning, I thought. They certainly won’t be very vocal in these conditions. They will cautious, not likely to respond to any call I made. I almost abandoned my plans and put my head back down. I’d be asleep again moments after I pulled the covers back up. But I knew it might be the only morning of...

MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE FOOTBALL players line up for the traditional handshake at the end of a recent game with Amherst College, signifying respect for one another’s mutual efforts. Photo courtesy of Middlebury College
“Shake hands and come out fighting.” When I was a kid watching the Friday Night Fights with my dad (brought to you by Gillette — “to look sharp and to feel sharp too ...”), that’s what the referee instructed in the ring center before the boxing match began. The combatants touched gloves and commenced to beat each other up, respectfully: after all, they had shaken hands, more or less. Whenever there was contretemps in the school yard or playing field when I was growing up, the adult who broke up the fight commanded, “OK, shake hands now.” That meant it was over and there would be no further...

THE NATIVE TROUT that our columnists caught were rarely longer than his hand but their coloring made each a tiny piece of art. Photo courtesy of Matthew Dickerson
I admit that I don’t usually do much trout fishing in April. Sure, after spending more than five long months (starting Nov. 1) with few opportunities to get out on a stream or river and cast flies, I always look forward to opening day of Vermont’s trout season (second Saturday of April.) But it’s mostly symbolic. I dust off my rod and reel and pull my vest and waders out of the closet. I dig through my collections of flies, tapered leaders, tippets and weights, see what I need for the new year. I pretend to organize. If the weather is not horrible, I might get out for a couple hours on...

THE VENICE BEACH Courts, where the movie “White Men Can’t Jump” was filmed and where Peter Lindholm played some of his first pickup ball in LA, is now empty due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Editor’s note: Peter Lindholm takes over the space in the Independent this week usually occupied by his dad, Karl. He offers a reflection on playing basketball, pickup hoops, in Middlebury, Vt., and in Los Angeles, Calif., where he finds himself now. 2008 I am 13 years old. My mom is out of town, a “Dad Week” for childcare. This means a few things: some yardwork (completed with an angelic attitude and absolutely no complaining,) pizza from Ramunto’s, and a sports movie plus ice cream to wrap up the day. All of this under the mantra — “don’t tell Mom.”  Tonight’s movie, my dad announces...

MATTHEW DICKERSON GOT away from the rigors of working at home and the strain of staring at screens all day by spending three-quarters of an hour fly fishing on Otter Creek below the falls in Middlebury. Photo by McKenna Poppenga
Five p.m. was rolling up on me and I needed to get outside. I’d been sitting at my computer all day, working remotely — preparing remote lectures for my classes, and holding remote office hours. I’ve learned more about Zoom teleconferencing than I ever wanted to know, including warnings about the new practice of “Zoombombing” (which is like photobombing except done into somebody else’s teleconference). Lured by the sunny blues skies and fresh air that I’d been separated from all day by my office window, feeling my productivity and concentration starting to lag, and knowing I had yet another...

THE COLUMNIST AND his pal hoary-pated Ben walking, not running, on the Middlebury College campus; Ben had already done a five-miler amid those brilliant autumn colors. Photo provided by Karl Lindholm
I ran a few times with Ben, quite a while ago. He worked at Redlands University in California and I was from here at Middlebury College. Our jobs brought us together on a nearly annual basis as we represented our schools in travels to universities in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the Pacific Rim.  He was a runner and I even at my fittest was a plodder. He was light and lithe; I was not. On our trips abroad, I told him, “I will run with you for no more than three miles at a 10-minute pace.” He would then take me on a loop that was twice that and push me to a pace that was at least a minute...
So what does a sports column look like in an age of COVID-19? In one sense, outdoor writing is quite different from more tradition sports media, because the outdoor sports themselves (fishing, canoeing, hunting, etc.) fall in a different category than competitive activities most folks associate with the word “sports.” Sure, there are competitive bass fishing tournaments, but only a small percentage of people who fish do so as part of an organized competition. The same could be said of hiking, canoeing and hunting. On the other hand, take away the competitive aspect of baseball, football or...

ON A PICTURESQUE late winter/early spring day — March 8 — the Middlebury men’s lacrosse team played against Connecticut College on Youngman Field. The Panthers defeated their NESCAC rival, 20-8, that day and three days later trounced Plattsburgh State in what ended up being the final Middlebury athletic event of the year. Many Middlebury seniors ended their athletic careers with a truncated season, including defending national champion women’s lax and baseball, which played a few games before shutting down. The competitive seasons of softball, tennis, and track and field never began. Independent photo/Karl Lindholm
We “shelter in place,” practice “social distancing” hoping to “flatten the curve” of the “pandemic” afflicting the world. These are terms that were largely unfamiliar to us only a very short time ago but are now staples of our daily discourse.  We isolate ourselves from one another in this chilly and lovely late winter/early spring season in the hope that we can come together in the warm embrace of the season that follows. But who knows when that will be? It could be a while. All is so uncertain.  Schools, from daycare to graduate school, have closed and sent their students home, wherever...


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