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Sports Columns

Jaywalking: Still going strong

Joe Leonard fights on. If you frequently read this column, you may remember reading about Leonard a few years back. He is one of the head honchos for Team Ravenous, the local mixed martial arts team that has now been around for nearly a decade. What makes Leonard such an extraordinary person is that since 2007 he has battled Crohn’s Disease, an inflammatory bowel disease resulting in surgery to remove part of his large intestine. He has dealt with plenty of other disease-related issues over 0

Keeping Score: Whip gets a Ford

Good morning! All eyes were on Punxsutawney Phil this week when up popped Andrew Ford, a junior college quarterback unearthed by UMass coach Mark Whipple. The 6-foot-3, 211-pound Pennsylvanian was two-time All-State and a Gatorade Player of the Year, but past performance doesn’t always equate to future gridiron success. Ford played at Cedar Cliff near Hershey, the same high school as tight end Kyle Brady who played at Penn State and then spent 13 years in the NFL. A 3.8 student and member of the 0

On The Trail: Rattlers revisited

The deluge of timber rattlesnake comments continues following two weeks of discussion here about the state’s plan to establish a population of the venomous snakes on Mt. Zion, the large, isolated Quabbin Reservoir island and no-man’s land that’s off limits to humans. MassWildlife’s justification for the proposal is that no reptile is slipping faster toward extinction than the timber rattler, and thus it’s high time to reverse that troubling trend. That said, state officials and proponents can’t with a straight face pretend they didn’t expect 0

Jaywalking: Kingpin

Jim Girard is among a Franklin County dying breed. The Greenfield native is one of the nation’s best ten-pin bowlers. He may, in fact, be the best. Now in his mid-50s, Girard owns 11 career perfect 300 games (called Keglers) and has bowled an 800 series (scoring at least 800 points in three straight games) 10 times. He owned the all-time house average for a season at the French King Entertainment Center in Erving when the center eliminated ten-pin bowling in May of 2000. Since 0

Keeping Score: A long story

(Second of two parts) Good morning! When the mercury dips below 50 in South Florida, people don’t come out for the newspaper, but Burmese pythons will come out from the underbrush. “This cold weather’s perfect,” said Brian Wood, an alligator hunter who’s lived in Florida for more than 40 years. “They’ll get up on the dykes and try to stay warm.” Otherwise a Burmese python’s blotchy brown skin markings make it nearly impossible to detect, and biologists are scrambling to control a burgeoning population of 0

On The Trail: Rattler feedback

Lots of feedback here and there about last week’s column confirming a MassWildlife proposal to establish a population of endangered Timber Rattlesnakes on a secluded, unspecified Quabbin Reservoir island since dubbed “Rattlesnake Island” by the Boston Globe. “What are they, nuts?” were the most common words uttered. Followed by, “Why would anyone do that? I don’t like snakes.” Well, the decision likely wasn’t based on public perception of rattlesnakes. No, not quite. More important was the reality that the population of a once prevalent New 0

Jaywalking: Diamond mentor

Joe Mignault had no clue what he was in for when he arrived at the baseball field one Saturday 28 years ago for his son’s T-ball practice. It was the third Saturday of the program and that day the coach of the team showed up and emptied the equipment out of his trunk. He said he didn’t have the time to coach the team anymore, apparently opting to spend his Saturday’s on the golf course rather than coaching youngsters on the diamond. A few of 0

Keeping Score: Snake catchers

(First of two parts) Good morning! The nine-foot long Burmese python slid out of the cotton bag and made a beeline down the grassy slope toward the swamp. The only obstacle between it and freedom was me, but that was quite by accident since I simply wasn’t paying attention. That’s been the fate of creatures big and small that have wandered too close to a predator that once never existed in the Florida, but is now tops on the animal food chain. The slithery creature’s 0

On The Trail: Rattler flap

It’s true that the bright waxing moon in the cold winter sky shouldn’t evoke visions of vipers. Yet, go figure, a long persecuted New England snake is indeed this week’s unseasonable topic. “Snakes, in January?” you ask, bemusedly scratching at your temple with your index finger.” Yeah, snakes in January. Better still, Timber Rattlesnakes — those venomous vipers of colonial New England lore that once sent shivers up the spine of many a man, woman and child working around the wood pile or traipsing barefoot 0

Jaywalking: Grimard heading Down Under

It’s always nice to see our local athletes thrive at the next level. Yes, many of our top athletes get the opportunity to play at the collegiate level. For most, that means playing on a team that competes in Division II or III. Now, it is difficult for a small newspaper to keep up on the local athletes who move on to college, unless, of course, Sports Information Directors regularly keep the press releases coming. Enter Lauren Grimard, a college sophomore who has not disappeared 0