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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

ABA in Barre UPDATE

There's an ABA team starting up in my town known as the Vermont Frost Heaves. Just like with the old ABA, the new one has proven to be kooky and entertaining - and our team will be joining the fray this fall.

Some of the interesting elements for this minor of the minors team are:
1) It's being undertaken by Sports Illustrated writer and Vermont resident Alexander Wolff (his trials and tribulations are being documented in the mag);
2) team payroll's are capped at $120,000;
3) team will be owned by the community ala the Green Bay Packers;
4) concession stands will feature locally produced food and drinks;
5) the 11th Man Rule enables someone from the community to suit up for and play in every home game; and
6) fans vote on team matters.

The last point is of great interest right now as I, a member of the Bump in the Road Club, have been asked to vote on the team's head coach. The two individuals both have backgrounds as assistance in the NBA, NCAA Division I, and even as head coaches abroad (Tralee Tigers of the Ireland Super League and the Ulriken Eagles of the Norwegian pro league). For such a fun and challenging start-up, each prospect seems eager and wild enough to take the job. I originally thought the native Vermonter, Will Voigt, who played high school ball up the road in Cabot would be the hands down winner in this contest. But then I read the introduction from his challenger from Chicago, Rus Bradburd.

Where Voigt's intro talked about the importance of a high-pressure defense and up-tempo offense, Bradburd's took an entirely different tact. He instead talked about how he sees "a team that will be responsible citizens within the community—socially, educationally, and environmentally." He continued with "I hope that the Frost Heaves can be an impetus for positive change at this unique time in our nation’s history." "Holy freaking cow," I thought, "this guy's trying to get a coaching job using the peacenik approach!" Seriously, who does that.

He continued with a run down of times where American sports have been on the forefront of social change (Joe Louis, Jackie Robinson, Mahammed Ali, etc) and also when it's "lead to a mindless herd mentality," such as when "fighter jets fly overhead at the Super Bowl in a numbing show of military force, while D.C. schoolkids don’t have adequate supplies." Just in case there was any ambiguity, he comes out and puts it on the table - he's a member of Athletes United for Peace.

I have no idea if a peace lover who's all-time favorite ABA player was the Burt Reynolds look-a-like bad boy Wendell "Mr. Excitement" Ladner can overtake the local "play it safe" kid (the obvious Dr. J is his #1) for the head coaching job. But it certainly has the potential to happen, because this is the ABA. This is Vermont.

Nada Surf - Where is My Mind.mp3 (Pixies cover via MyExBestFriend)

UPDATE:
You’ve picked a coach.Will Voigt, the 1994 graduate of Cabot (Vt.) High School who is currently coaching in Norway, will lead the Vermont Frost Heaves of the ABA for their inaugural season.
Some 739 of you cast ballots—more than 60% of the Bump Club membership. That’s a better turnout than in Presidential elections and in the typical New England town meeting. Thanks to everyone who voted.I’ll be back with more details in another Bump in the Road Club posting tomorrow. In the meantime, congratulations to Coach Voigt, and thanks and best wishes to our other finalist, Rus Bradburd.
Alexander Wolff
President and G.M.

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