Sydney Shaw is on UConn's radar

By Lloyd Jones

CONWAY — The UConn womens' basketball team has won four straight NCAA championships and is currently riding a 90-game win streak. To stay on top of the basketball world, the team's coaching staff has to have an eye for talent.

The Huskies already have their eyes on an 11-year-old from Center Conway — Sydney Shaw.

The Pine Tree School fifth grader, practiced with the Huskies on Dec. 4, did shooting drills with Coach Geno Auriemma, and played horse with and beat her favorite player Kia Nurse (a 6' junior from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada). The following day she was an ambassador for the Huskies in their game against the University of Texas at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn.

It was a weekend that Sydney and her parents, Mellanie and Andy Shaw and her sister, Natalie, will never forget.

"It was honestly like being in a dream," Andy said. "As a parent you wish you could give your child the most amazing gift. I can't put into words just how amazing this was."

The experience came about due to Sydney's unselfishness and compassion for others.

"About six months ago, Sydney's amazing teacher Abby O'Haire (third grade at Pine Tree School) asked Sydney if she could have one wish what would it be," Mellanie, who is currently in remission after beating non-Hodgkin's lymphoma for the second time, said. "At the time, Sydney just wanted me to get better so that was her wish. Her teacher asked her again, if she could have one wish what would it be? She thought about it for days but didn't want to tell anyone because she thought it was an unrealistic wish. About a week went by and Sydney quietly told Andy and I that she had thought of a wish but didn't want to ask for it. She wanted to go meet her idol (Nurse) and favorite basketball team (UConn). If you know Sydney you know she lives and breathes basketball. Abby O'Haire wanted to put a smile on her face. She reached out to Shooting Star Fund and made it all happen."

According to its website, the Shooting Star Fund's mission, "is to improve the lives and lift the spirit of children who are facing serious physical or emotional hardship in order to restore their sense of well-being and trust in a caring community. Every gift is thoughtfully chosen with each child's interests in mind. They are meant to bring joy and show these special children that the entire valley community cares and supports them."

The organization started in the spring of 2008 by four local women who saw that there are young children in the Mount Washington Valley who struggle with extremely difficult situations such as serious accidents, the loss of a parent or a life threatening diagnosis. Wanting to let these children know that our community cares about them, these women organized, raised money through a dinner circle of friends, and in its first year of operation have begun the process of reaching children through school guidance counselors and nurses, fulfilling children's wishes, and letting children know that their valley community cares.

Founder and President of Shooting Star Fund, Ivette Emery, said "We grant wishes and thoughtfully select gifts to be a lasting source of joy for each special child."

Chole Pavlech, a guard for the University of Maryland last year, which reached the Final Four, now an intern with the coaching staff at UConn, was the contact for the Shaw family. She arranged the visit with the team.

The family got to sit and watch a closed practice on Dec. 3.

"We were sitting watching a transfer student from Duke (Azura Stevens), who is 6'6", work on her low post moves when Geno Auriemma came over to talk with us," Andy Shaw said. "He said to Syndey, 'Hi, I'm Geno Auriemma, and your name is?' She said, 'I'm Sydney.' You could see she was completely overwhelmed."

Auriemma asked Sydney if she had brought any of her basketball gear with her. Indeed she had.

"He said, 'Lace up your sneakers and let's have a shoot around,'" Andy said. "Sydney got to shoot on the court while I rebounded for her. She was having a blast and was getting more and more comfortable out there."

Sydney was working on her two-ball dribble, dribbling two balls at one time, one in each hand, working her way up and down the court.

"She had her back to everyone when the UConn team came out," Andy said. "The players were pretty impressed with Sydney."

The Huskies practiced for three and a half hours. When practice ended the players came over and introduced themselves to Sydney.

"Kia Nurse, Sydney's favorite player because of how she plays the game all-out," invited Sydney for a shoot-around and then the two of them played horse," Andy said. "Sydney beat her."

"I have never seen Sydney so excited," Mellanie said.

The family got to go into the UConn locker room where all 11 of the national championship trophies are stored.

The team went to dinner, but Nurse stayed and chatted with Sydney for an additional 15 minutes, according to Andy.

"Geno came over after that and said, 'Let's do some shooting," Andy recalled. "He asked Sydney if she could make a foul shot. She said yes. He said, 'All right, I'm going to teach you a game — it's you against Diana Taurasi (a four-time UConn All-America guard). For every shot you make, you get a point. If you miss, Diana gets three. Sydney lost the game 21-7.

"After that, Geno told Sydney to go to her favorite spot on the floor where she felt most comfortable," he continued, and Sydney picked one of the top blocks (above the key). She made six in a row at one point to take a 15-6 lead. Coach Auriemma looked at an assistant and said, 'We need to start scouting her now.'"

"She admires Geno and thinks he is an amazing coach," Mellanie said. "She was so speechless and it warmed Andy and my heart! Natalie was part of this experience too and it was such a wonderful memory us. Of course, I shed a tear and I felt so blessed to be a part of that joyous occasion."

The following day, at the Mohegan Sun, the Shaw family had seats in the UConn family section. Sydney was asked if she would like to be an honorary Huskie, which meant being on the court to high-five the players when they entered the arena. Participants got an autographed small basketball for their efforts.

"Kia was the last player introduced and before she came out she and Sydney waved to each other," Andy said. "Kia came out, high-fived with Sydney, and gave her the autographed ball."

Nurse comes from a famous family.

"We were sitting there and I looked to my right and there was Donovan McNabb (former NFL quarterback)," Andy said. "He's Kia's uncle. It was just amazing."

Prior to the game, during team warmups, the Shaw family got to meet Kara Lawson, former WNBA player and now basketball television analyst for ESPN.

"She sat next us and basically gave us the entire scouting report for Texas," Andy said smiling. "I can't even fathom our two days, you couldn't make this stuff up. It was a weekend none of will ever forget."

UConn won the game 72-54.

"There are no words to describe the (weekend)," Mellanie added. "We've never seen Sydney so happy."


Golf 9-30-16: Honoring Larry and Kathy and Arnold

By Joe Soraghan

"Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated; it satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening, and it is, without a doubt, the greatest game mankind has ever invented." — Arnold Palmer

For many of us, this past weekend was a time to celebrate the work of friends and a time to remember a legend. Family, friends, colleagues and members of the North Conway Country Club gathered on Saturday evening to honor and recognize the work of Larry and Kathy Gallagher.

For 25 years this team worked to help make NCCC one of the finest golfing venues in the Granite State. More than 200 people came together to acknowledge the couple. At the end of this golfing season, Larry and Kathy are retiring from NCCC and the work of running the pro shop.

The event had been planned for months by a committee of members who made this a memorable evening for all in attendance. Dick Goss, serving as emcee, kept things moving. Speakers delved into the different aspects of Larry and Kathy's professional lives and careers. Dr. Ed Duffy reflected on working with the pair as a past president of NCCC, and spoke of their professionalism and the effect on local golf with the success of the Junior Golf program.

Ken Donabedian talked of his time as Larry's caddy, when the goal was playing golf at the highest level. Todd Gallagher, Larry's brother, took us into the family with some light and heartfelt moments that brought both laughter and tears to the audience.

Two NHPGA members, Wayne Natti and Jim Sheerin, talked about Larry's competitiveness, and how well all the pros were treated when they played their annual event at NCCC. Finally, PGA Pro Kevin Walker, who will take over at the end of the season, told the audience what he has learned during his time working in the pro shop. He touched upon the "legacy of excellence" which started with John and Pat MacDonald and continued with Larry and Kathy Gallagher.

At the conclusion of the evening, there was a feeling of "family" which blanketed those in attendance.

Everything worked out perfectly. From the opening ceremony, with bagpiper and presentation of the flag, to the decorations, the fantastic menu, the speakers, the gifts, and the genuine appreciation from the honorees, the evening was special. Larry and Kathy, I wish you good health and continued happiness. For you pro, I hope you will find the time to "hit some balls", and remember, the "swindle" awaits.

Sunday brought a beautiful day for golf, albeit a bit on the cool side. When players had completed their rounds and retreated to their homes, word started spreading about the passing of golfing legend, Arnold Palmer. The stories regarding his golf, his persona, and contributions to golf have been shared on the news. Palmer wrote the following piece about his feelings for the game when he could not play due to his bout with prostate cancer. I think this paragraph sums up his passion for golf, and some feelings many golfers share:

"There were reasons I had to get back to golf. I've always said that when you play a round with someone, you can tell just about everything you want to know about him. I now recognize that the golf course is where I learn about myself. All the qualities we define as 'character' — discipline, concentration, honesty, humor, composure — get exercised over 18 holes of golf, even if it's only a casual round. The golf course is where I feel most comfortable with people I know casually. An instant camaraderie develops when you tee it up with someone, and it doesn't matter if that person is a banker or a bricklayer."

There are numerous reasons why Arnold Palmer was referred to as "The King." That paragraph tells you much about the man, and the golfer.

This unusual weekend held events that parallel our lives. We work at a job, hopefully one we love. We earn respect and success with our time and effort. We spend time enjoying other endeavors, and with those who mean the most to each of us.

Club Notes:
• North Conway Country Club, 50 Norcross Circle, North Conway, (603) 356-9391: The Mixed Scotch Tournament was held last Sunday. Sixteen teams competed in this annual event. Two teams tied for first with a score of 65. After a match of cards, it was the team of Gay Folland and Al Worcester taking first place. Second place went to Donna Wallace and Crawford Butler, while third place went to Nancy and Al Goyette. The Shootout will take place on Oct. 16, at 1 p.m. Ten members have qualified to play in this fun event.

Eagle Mountain Golf Course, Carter Notch Road, Jackson, (603) 383-9090: The Fall Don Ho continues to provide players with some competitive golf. The New Team is in the lead with a score of -31. There is a two-way tie for second between the Golfaholics and GB Carrier who are at -26. Individually, it was Keith Deluca who claimed closest to the pin, while Chris Roule, Nickie Lynn, Nate Ela and Jeff Frechette took long drive honors. The Thursday Eagle League saw Dave Powell, Gretchen and Dennis Soraghan take first place. Second place went to the team of Roger Aubrey, Jeanne and John Chanley. The closest to the pin winner was Michael Smither.

19th Hole

The 2016 Ryder Cup is being played this week at the Hazeltine Golf Club in Minnesota. In 1970, the U.S. Open was held at Hazeltine. The course was criticized by players for having too many blind shots. Scores that first day were abnormally high: Nicklaus shot 81, Player 80, and Palmer 79. No player was more critical of the layout than eventual runner-up, Dave Hill. His comments were legendary. When asked about his experience, he said, "They ruined a good farm." After the second round, he was asked, "How did you find the course?" He replied, "How did I find the course? I've been trying to find it since I came to Minneapolis. Just because you cut the grass and put up flags, it doesn't mean you have a golf course." When asked what it lacked, Hill replied, "What does it lack? Eighty acres of corn and a few cows." The Hazeltine Club has been revised since Hill's experience, and will give players a great test.

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10-7-16 Golf: A changing of the season

By Joe Soraghan
"The emblem on the necktie reserved for members of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, is the Saltier Cross, on which St. Andrew was to be stretched before he was crucified. Only the Scots would have thought of celebrating a national game with the figure of a tortured saint." — Alistair Cooke, journalist and golfer
It's fall, the leaves are turning, and things are winding down on the golf courses. This will be the last golf article for this season. It has been a very interesting golf year.
Locally, our club superintendents have done a great job in a year where water has been at a premium. Players have benefited from their tireless efforts to produce optimum conditions. Play has been strong all season long. The pro shop staffs at our local courses have been there for golfers every step of the way.
The bartenders, waiters and waitresses have provided food and drink and have put an exclamation point on some great days of golf. To all of those folks who work to make our golf outings such great experiences ... Thank you!
At the highest level of golf, we saw four different winners in the major tournaments this year. Young players and seasoned veterans combined to display skills of which most of us can only dream. Tiger was not the story this year — it was the golf.
Yes, there were blips during the pro season. The rules violations during some of the key events of the season left many of us scratching our heads. The passing of Arnold Palmer brought an end to an era of golf that will never be seen again. Mr. Palmer brought golf to a high level with his play. The standards he exemplified, in his conduct, both on and off the course, set the bar at the highest level. With that being said, golf needs to look at the direction in which it is heading.
Last weekend, the Ryder Cup was played at Hazeltine Country Club in Minnesota. Players from the United States and Europe faced off in formats that are not the norm for tour players. "Four ball" and "alternate shots" are two of the different games the players used. The golf was outstanding, with matches like the Mickelson, Garcia and Reed, McIlroy competition becoming immediate classics that will be replayed for viewers for years to come.
With the U.S. team winning the Cup by a score of 17-11, golf should have been the story. Watching this event, which is played every two years, I could not help but feel that fan behavior would determine the outcomes of certain matches. There is no place in golf, or in any event, where vulgar, personal attacks and confrontational acts become part of the game. It seems that golf is on a course of compromise with how certain societal behaviors have become accepted. Golf has prided itself on how players should conduct themselves. Only golf begins its Rules of Golf with a section on etiquette and behavior. Why do fans, who want to watch the best golfers in the world, want to impact the outcome?
If you have been to Fenway Park, Gillette Stadium, the "Garden" or any other professional sporting event recently, much of the focus is not on the field of play. With large Jumbotrons and fan-centered activities occurring, I can't help but think that the games have become more about the fans than the actual game. Fans are taking selfies while play is happening. Heads are turned toward the large screens the arenas have installed, and fans are trying to see if their faces will be shown throughout the arena. When did the need to be seen become the goal of fans?
The tournament at Hazeltine took on the look of one of our sporting venues. It had the great players, competition at the highest level, a major league course and a great atmosphere. For the most part, fans were there to support their team and voice that support. But it took only a minority of the fans to taint the event for those who conduct themselves properly and are there for all the right reasons.
Rory McIlroy has said that when the Ryder Cup is played in Europe in 2018, he hopes there will not be any retaliation toward the U.S. team. I hope he is correct. But as long as you have fans who want to be seen and heard as much as the participants, and there is the technology that accommodates this, the fan-centered problem will continue to exist.
Club Notes:
• North Conway Country Club, 50 Norcross Circle, North Conway, (603) 356-9391: The 2016 Member Appreciation Tournament is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 15. This annual event not only highlights the final tourney of the season, but a fine meal, and member recognition follows the round. Sign up in the pro shop. The 16th of October will highlight the "Shootout." This pits 10 members, who have accrued the most points in pro shop events, against each other.
Indian Mound Golf Course: Center Ossipee, (603) 539-7733: The final Nine and Dine was held last week. The winning team members were Diane Robertson, Bruce Robertson, Charlie Hadlock and Joann Hadlock. Diane Robertson was the overall champion. The $ Scramble is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 23. This a 10 a.m. shotgun start and the cost is $85 per player. This is a five- person scramble and one pro is allowed to play on each team. There are no handicap restrictions. Your entry fee goes toward skins, cash prizes, and food. Wayne's Cross Country Golf Outing is scheduled for Oct. 30. This is an 11 a.m. Shotgun start and costs $39 per player.
Hale's Location Golf Course, West Side Road, North Conway, (603) 356-2140: Hale's is offering a $20 twilight rate that begins after 3 p.m. Nine, Wine, and Dine continues with the fee being $55 per player. The pro shop has begun its Fall schedule with opening starting at 8 a.m. and closing at 5 p.m. Congratulations to Colette Spenard who had a hole-in-one on No. 6! The course is scheduled to close on Sunday, Oct. 30.
Eagle Mountain Golf Course, Carter Notch Road, Jackson, (603) 383-9090: The Fall Don Ho League completed its season last week. Taking first place was the New Team at -37. The Sea Dogs, -34, were second and third place went to the Golfaholics at -33. Ann Bennett took closest-to-the-pin honors, while long-drive winners were Jen Bartlett, Nicki Lynn, Noah Packard and Eric Pendleton. This year's field consisted of Kimball and Neysa Packard, formerly of the Eagle and now operators of the Farmstand Bed and Breakfast in Chocorua, who started the Don Ho 33 years ago. The Eagle plans to stay open as long as the weather remains nice. On Oct. 23, a fundraiser will be held for Angels and Elves. The fee to play that day will be $20 and half of all greens fees will go to the charity.
Lake Kezar Golf Course, Route 5, Lovell, Maine, (207) 925-1002: Lake Kezar is very much still open so give them a call for tee times.
Wentworth Golf Club, Route 16, Jackson, (603) 383-9641: Call for tee times.
19th Hole:
A true sign of remembrance and respect for Arnold Palmer was seen on the 17th hole of North Conway Country Club last Sunday. A player who went out early in the morning placed an Arnold Palmer golf ball on a tee on the 17th. When players approached the ball, feelings of respect came over each and every individual. One guy saw the ball, without realizing the symbolism of the gesture, and was going to hit it into the pond. When he saw the Palmer signature, he backed off and said, "That's an Arnold Palmer ball, I'm not touching it."
Have a great fall and winter, and thanks to everyone who has provided me with great information and stories.
Joe Soraghan may be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

9-23-16: Golf: Fall, golf, New England ... perfect!

By Joe Soraghan

"When it comes to golf, Scottish people are famously reserved, undemonstrative, difficult to impress. Golf is like church in Scotland, church like golf." — Joe Posnanski, author of "The Secret of Golf: The Story of Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus."

One of my favorite golf movies and books is "The Greatest Game Ever Played," by Mark Frost. This is the story of Massachusetts native and golf amateur Francis Ouimet and his win in the 1913 U.S. Open, at the Country Club in Brookline, Mass.

Ouimet outplayed the best professionals of the time, Harry Vardon and Ted Ray. A scene in the movie that I know to be accurate, but would dissuade me from playing, is the rain-plagued morning round. Golfers wore tweed coats and wool pants during their rounds. There were no Gortex coats, rain gloves or water-repellent material to fend off what Mother Nature provided.

Added to the clothing issue, hickory-shafted clubs with leather grips made a difficult game almost impossible for any player. By that standard, today's players have huge advantages over golfers at the turn of the 20th century.

The calendar tells us that autumn has arrived. Autumn is a beautiful time to play golf. With fewer golfers playing on courses that are in tremendous shape, take advantage. Hopefully, your own game is peaking along with the foliage. Don't let the change in seasonal temperatures and the conditions that arrive with the change stop you from playing golf.

We hear from players this time of year a lot of reasons not to get out and enjoy. "I don't play if the temperature is below 60!" "There are too many leaves on the ground!" "I don't like to dress as if I'm going skiing!" If you are smart and dress properly, and if you make some adjustments to your game, cool-weather golf can be a lot of fun. The bottom line is, you are still playing golf.

One of the guys who plays with us during the golfing season really dislikes playing in the cooler temperatures. His play is determined by the weather, and his No. 1 complaint concerns his hands. He has a difficult time, a sometimes painful condition, that makes hitting a golf ball very difficult. Nobody enjoys hitting a golf ball, or performs well, when they are battling the elements in an already difficult game.

But you can be proactive in making your late-season rounds more comfortable. If possible walk as much as you can. Get those juices going, abandon the cart whenever you can. Use a golf ball with a low compression rate. Golf balls deliver maximum performance when the temperature are in the low 80s. When the temperature drops 3 or 4 degrees (according to Callaway), you lose 3 or 4 yards. Don't leave your bag in the trunk of your car overnight. When a golf ball is cold, it will affect your play. A low-compression, softer ball will allow you to maintain the "feel" you expect from a ball. Finally, dress properly. Ouimet, Vardon, Ray and players from a different era did not have the clothing and equipment that is available to all of us who choose to continue playing. Yes, you might need to lower your on-course expectations, but you can still go out and enjoy a round of golf.

Think back to past cold-season rounds. You have played with your friends. You come into the clubhouse with a flush in your face and a nose that is running. But there is a bounce in your step that comes with the cooler weather, a football game is on the 19th hole TV, and you can rehash your round with friends. This is not a bad way to spend an autumn afternoon.

Club Notes:

North Conway Country Club, 50 Norcross Circle, North Conway, (603) 356-9391: On Sunday, Sept. 24, the Mixed Scotch event will be held. This is one of the last club tournaments of the season. In Champ of the Year competition, Gay Folland won for the ladies and Dan Kelleher for the men. The Fall 4/Ball was held last weekend. Taking the top spot on the ladies' side was the team of Toni Belding and Denise Jaronski. For the men, it was Scott and Brian Terry. Congratulations to all the winners and the competitors.

Indian Mound Golf Course, Center Ossipee, (603) 539-7733: In Rivers Edge Quota action, there was a tie between Mark Bernard and Steve Brown. Both players posted a +4. Closest-to-the-pin honors went to Larry Ewing. In Nine and Dine it was the team of Wayne Grenier, Linda Jones and Pete LaBonte taking first place. Two Kennett golfers, who play out of the Mound, will play in the State Tournament at Beaver Meadow, on Oct. 6. Josh Rivers and Riley Fletcher will travel to the Concord course and play against the best high school players in the state. Coach Julie Rivers is looking forward to next season with her young players, who gained some experience this year. The KHS Hockey Tournament will be held on Saturday, Oct. 1. The Indian Mound "Cash Scramble" is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 23. Call the pro shop to register and for information. Congratulations to Ron Force, who shot his career round last week. Also, congratulations to Burt Kelley for shooting his age-84! Great job Burt.

Wentworth Golf Club, Route 16, Jackson, (603) 383-9641: The 2016 Turtle Invitational was held last week. Taking top honors was the team of Roger and Reggie Leblanc, George Lemieux and Ellen Eiermann with a score of 62. Second place went to Clark and Diane Mitchell, and Steve and Ann Frost, who posted a 64. The third place team of Del and Marilyn Desmaris, Danbo Doucet and Mary Collins shot a 65. In Ladies' League, a stroke play event was played using 100 percent handicap. Sheila Hastings took first place, with a 67. In second, with a 69, was Diane McDonald. There was a tie for third between Beth Ellis and Sandi Poor, who posted a 71. The Fall 4/Ball is scheduled for Oct. 2. Sign-up in the pro shop before Sept. 25. On Oct. 8 and 9, a Ryder Cup event will be held.

Eagle Mountain Golf Course, Carter Notch Road, Jackson, (603) 383-9090: After three weeks of Fall Don Ho action, the New Team is on top with a score of -22. GB Carrier is in second at -19 and the Golfaholics in third at -18. Harland Fallen got closest-to-the-pin honors while Bobbie Box, Mary Hansel, Nate Ela and Chuck Seavey won long drive honors. The Eagle held a member scramble on Saturday. Taking first place was the team of Denis Lavoie, Deanna Giroux, Bill Regan and Lori Babine. Second place went to Dan Andrews, Paul Doucette, Hidalgo Kardell and Gretchen Soraghan. Gretchen also got closest-to-the-pin honors and rolled in her putt for the birdie. In Thursday Eagle League action, the team of Russ Veale, Diane O'Neil and Jim Doig took the top spot. Second place went to Rita Stoessel, Haig Zeytoonian, Laurie and Tom Felton. Closest to the pin went to Ellie Veale. The Mixed League saw the team of Roger Blake, Sandra Taylor, Mary Walden and Ellie Veale take top honors. Closest to the pin went to Judy Regan.

19th Hole:

Recently, on the European Tour, a player got to the green, marked his ball, and then turned and threw it to his caddy. The caddy didn't have time to react, and the ball went past him into a greenside lake. In the Rules of Golf, you must complete a hole with the same ball. The caddy frantically searched the water, found nine balls, none of which belonged to his player. The player took a two-stroke penalty and later posted that his caddy should have caught the ball. Where does it say in the caddy job description, "Good hands are a must"? Enjoy the weekend, cooler days are ahead.

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