Keeping Score: Butova, Bertelli, and beyond

Published: 3/13/2020 10:03:39 PM
Modified: 3/13/2020 10:03:24 PM

Good morning!
At this writing the National Football Foundation’s regional award dinner was still a go for April 5 at the UMass Campus Center. Sponsored by the NFF’s Western Mass. Chapter, the event recognizes individuals from the Pioneer Valley who’ve used football as the linchpin to further themselves and others.

The top honor, the Henry Butova Award, is presented annually to the person who, in the words of the NFF, “is devoted to the game and distinguished himself after his playing days.” Previous winners include Buckland’s Jim Smith and the late Scott Creelman of Old Deerfield.

Smith coached at Deerfield Academy, Franklin Tech and Mohawk, and Creelman rose to be the CEO of Spalding Sports Worldwide in Chicopee after he captained Dartmouth to an undefeated season in 1963. Former DA grad Don Abbey, who grew up in South Hadley and played at Penn State, won the award two years ago.

This year’s Butova winner is AIC coach Art Wilkins, who retired in January after 26 seasons on the sidelines. “Rarely does a coach have enough years to survey whether or not the values imbued have taken fruit,” Wilkins said in his retirement statement. “I have had that opportunity.”

The Angelo Bertelli Award, named for the Notre Dame Heisman Trophy winner from West Springfield, is given to the Western Mass. schoolboy MVP. Previous recipients have included GHS standout Josh Mason, who set rushing records at Amherst College, and Jason Tudryn, who played at Northampton High School and was a four-year starter at UMass.

Tickets are $25 each and can be reserved by calling Schmitt at 413-374-1577, or the AIC athletic office at 413-205-3916.

Voters in Hinsdale, N.H., approved a ballot question on Tuesday to  allow retail sports betting in their town. The vote was 334-133 (71.5 percent) to let DraftKings build, buy or rent a place where people without smartphones can wager in person. Residents in nearby Swanzey voted down the measure, but Hinsdale has attracted out-of-state gamblers since the state allowed a greyhound track to open there in 1959. (It was shuttered in 2008).

According to N.H. Lottery marketing director Maura McCann, over 41,000 registered users have wagered more than $45 million on the state’s sports app that DraftKings rolled out on Dec. 30.

The Lottery will also have a parlay-wagering product called “SPORTS603” — that bettors can play at state liquor stores starting this summer.

The location and timeline for the sportsbook have yet to be determined.

The NY Post’s Mike Vaccaro reports that Bernardston’s Adam Harrington is likely on the short list of candidates to replace deposed Brooklyn Nets coach Kenny Atkinson: “Harrington, 39, worked with Kevin Durant in Oklahoma City and the two have a strong relationship,” wrote Vaccaro. Harrington got his sea legs last year coaching the Nets’ summer league team in Las Vegas.

Seasons are converging at UMass. Here’s a capsule summary of what’s been happening.

Coach Tory Verdi’s women’s basketball team finished 20-11, its best record since Joanie O’Brien’s squad was 20-10 in 1995-96. After beating St. Bonaventure in the A-10 tournament, the Minutewomen lost to St. Louis in the quarterfinals. The Billikens lost to Dayton, who beat VCU, 52-48, in Sunday’s championship game. Verdi will be hard pressed to replace two-time captain Hailey Leidel, who finished in the top 10 in nearly every offensive category, but can build around sophomore sharpshooter Destiny Philoxy and freshman rebounder Maeve Donnelly.

Greg Cannella’s lacrosse team would have been going for its fifth straight win today against Utah, but the school announced on Thursday that due to the COVID-19 outbreak, “the athletic department has suspended all home and away contests and team travel for varsity programs scheduled to leave campus for spring break training and competition. Beginning immediately, and until further notice, all UMass intercollegiate games scheduled on-campus have been suspended.”

The win streak began on Feb. 29 when Garber’s Gorillas scored 11 goals on their first 13 shots and held on for a 13-10 win against top-ranked Yale before 707 fans at wind-chilled Garber Field.

Women’s lacrosse was 4-1 and was scheduled to play at Towson (Md.) today at noon. Coach Angela McMahon has a 161-28 record since she was hired away from UConn in 2011. The Minutewomen are ranked No. 14 in the country by USLacrosse Magazine. Their next home game was scheduled for March 22 against Duquesne. Their most intriguing matchup would be the tilt against No. 5 Syracuse in Schenectady, N.Y., on April 30.

Softball coach Kristi Stefanoni’s team is off to a slow start (4-7), forsaking wins for warmer weather. At the University of South Florida Tournament in Tampa, the Minutewomen split two games against USF, lost once to Iowa State and twice to Wisconsin. The A-10 season was scheduled to start March 21 at Fordham, and the home opener was originally set for March 25 versus Siena.

The UMass baseball team is 1-8, but coach Matt Reynolds isn’t expected to do a lot with the pittance of scholarship money he gets to lure talent. The Minutemen were swept three straight at Georgia last weekend by a cumulative 27-2 score, and were scheduled to be in South Carolina this weekend for three games against 13-3 Wofford College.

Five years ago, the New York Times Sunday Magazine published a cover story by Mark Liebovitch about Tom Brady (“Tom Brady Cannot Stop”).

Brady was still a youthful 37, but Liebovitch asked Tom Brady Sr. how he thought the Brady Era would end. “It will end badly,” said his father. “It does end badly. And I know that because I know what Tommy wants to do. He wants to play till he’s 70.”

Brady becomes a free agent on Wednesday and though the gossip’s been rampant, his confidante Charlie Weis told Sirius-XM last week that Brady texted him: “Nobody knows anything.”

Agents and teams can’t start bargaining until Monday, what’s referred to as the legal tampering period. Brady’s fate will likely be determined in this 54-hour window that ends Wednesday at 4:01 p.m. when the wires will be flooded with news of signings.

Despite the all-Brady-all-the-time radio chatter, the Sporting News’ Todd Haislop ranks four other unrestricted free agents ahead of Brady — Dallas QB Dak Prescott, Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones, Cowboys wideout Amari Cooper and Saints QB Drew Brees.

Cheating is rampant from baseball to cycling to the Paralympic Games (according to Sports Illustrated), so it’s no surprise the feds busted 27 thoroughbred trainers, veterinarians and vet pharmacists who were alleged to be using performance enhancing drugs to win prestigious multi-million dollar races.

No indeed, these weren’t slinky types from backwater tracks, but the well-dressed sort like trainer Jason Servis. Using his magic potions, Servis took an ordinary thoroughbred named Maximum Security from the claiming ranks last year to winning the $20 million Saudi Cup two weeks ago. Maximum Security also won the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park, and would have won the Kentucky Derby but was DQ’d for interference.

“These defendants engaged in this conduct not for the love of the sport, and certainly not out of concern for the horses, but for money,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman.

SQUIBBERS: Congratulations to the GHS hockey team and kudos to the Recorder sports department for its coverage of the Green Wave’s triumphant run to the state title. … Montreal legend Henri Richard, the Pocket Rocket, died in Quebec on March 6. “He was my father’s favorite player,” Montreal coach Claude Julien told the Montreal Gazette’s Stu Cowan. “By far.” … The Canadiens stayed at a beachfront hotel in Fort Lauderdale the night before they lost to the Panthers, 4-1. Eddie Shore would’ve put them up at a Super 8. … Longtime Amherst College golf coach and assistant football coach Tracy Mehr died last month at age 91. “He took a special interest in local kids, superstars or not,” said Greenfield’s Steve Kramer, “and he followed their progress after graduation. He was special.” … UMass goal scorer John Leonard stayed on the ice long enough to lose eight pounds during last week’s 1-0 win against UVM, according to a source who spoke to his father. … Two masked bandits stole $270,000 from Aqueduct Race Track on Saturday night. The NY Post reported the robbery happened in a secluded area between the clubhouse and money room. At this writing, the culprits were still on the lam. … Wonder how Jerry Remy feels working next to junior announcer Mike Monaco. Please Mike, lose the laugh. … May the luck of the Irish be with you on Tuesday, and every day thereafter. “If you hold a four-leaf shamrock in your left hand at dawn on St. Patrick’s Day, you get what you want very much but haven’t wished for.” — Patricia Lynch (from

Chip Ainsworth is an award-winning columnist who has penned his observations about sports for four decades in the Pioneer Valley.

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