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Sports taking shape in June

Here are a few tids and bits as we welcome in June, hoping it brings progress following all the rough times we’ve all experienced or seen experienced lately:

– Now that we’re coming to the near end of the school year, the focus will soon be on the fall season possibilities for school sports. Of course, the great unknown is whether there will be classes on site in buildings, etc.

“I know, it’s frustrating,” Hollis Brookline High School girls volleyball coach Becky Balfour said. “I go from from feeling sort of hopeful, that maybe this could happen. I’m wearing a couple of hats. I have my teacher hat and I have my coach hat.

“Teaching-wise, I just can’t see a way we can be in the building with business as usual. I just can’t see that, not without a vaccine. And OK, that makes me concerned, well if we can’t be back in the building, what does that mean for sports. … I hope we can come up with a plan.”

Balfour is hoping that perhaps even with no students in the building in classrooms, some sports like volleyball can still be played, perhaps without fans, as the numbers would be fewer and more spaced out than in a classroom setting. Makes sense.

– New Hampshire lost a good one late this past week, as longtime baseball and softball umpire Ray Valliere passed away at the age of 87. Valliere, who was based in Manchester but entered the NH Veteran’s Home in Tilton a few years ago, is a member of the NHIAA Officials Hall of Fame, and there are certainly a lot of former ballplayers in the area who remember him. He was certainly well liked, well respected and was so good at his craft he umpired the Olympics 1992 in Barcelona, Spain and in Atlanta in 1996.

– Still on pandemic possibilities: It’s clear communities in the Nashua area are going to have to make a decision soon regarding use of athletic fields. The weather has improved, the summer leagues we described in the Sunday/Weekend Telegraph will need spots to play if the phases outlined by Governor Chris Sununu and his task force continue on schedule.

The unrest locally and regionally continues as fields in the area, for the most part, remain closed. What’s annoying to many coaches, etc. is the fact that youth sports was given the go-ahead to have limited participation workouts by New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu over a week ago.

The usually mild mannered Trevor Knight took to social media over the weekend to voice his opinion:

“Amherst, Merrimack and now Nashua won’t let us on turf or grass fields,” the former Nashua South and UNH quarterback standout wrote. “Pretty wild to me seeing as the state has released a statement over a week ago saying we are allowed to be outside on the fields. Sports in this state will continue to be behind every other state.”

– Sincere condolences go out to New England Patriots safety Devin McCourty and his wife Dr. Michelle McCourty, whose daughter Mia was stillborn just a week ago. Both have made social media posts declaring their grief and also their gratitude to friends, family, and teammates for the outpouring of support they’ve received. Very, very sad.

– Think golf courses aren’t in their glory now after losing the month of April? That’s because right now, they’re the only game in town, the weather has improved greatly and people seem to be flocking to courses in southern New Hampshire. Heck, everywhere.

“The demand we’ve seen for golf has been like any other,” NHGA Executive Director Matt Schmidt said. “I’ve been in golf administration for 13, 14 years now. And I’ve certainly never seen anything like this. The demand has been off the charts. Which is good for the game.”

And with the summer coming, it’s just going to get better.

It’s too bad in the area we’ve already lost Buckmeadow and will likely lose Green Meadow by season’s end.

– When we told you about HB girls volleyball seniors Sammie Sheppard’s (University of Pacific) and Kaleigh Whalen’s (University of New Hampshire) college volleyball plans, Sheppard was still awaiting word from Pacific as to whether or not players at Pacific could begin practice as scheduled for the upcoming fall season. Word is, so far, so good.

“We didn’t get too much information,” Sheppard said, “but my coach (Greg Gibbons) told us that as of now, we will comeback on campus and start training mid-to late July.”

– With a chance for yours truly to briefly interview him during Super Bowl week in Atlanta in 2019, Brian Flores made quite an impression and should grow as a head coach and become a very good one entering his second season with the Miami Dolphins.

But a statement he issued over the weekend on the current civil unrest plaguing the nation proved his leadership even more.

“I lead a group of young men who have the potential to make a real impact in this world,” he said. “My message to them and anyone else who wants to listen is that honesty, transparency, and empathy go a long way in bringing people together and making change. I hope the tragedies of the last few weeks will open our hearts and minds to a better way of communicating and hopefully create that change.”

Tom King may be reached at 594-1251 or tking@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow King on Twitter (@Telegraph_TomK).

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