My condolences go out to the family and friends of Mr. Tom Pickford, who passed away last week. Tom was a long-time educator, coach, and mentor mainly in the Berlin School system (junior high) and later, as a substitute teacher in the Gorham schools.

I first knew the name Tom Pickford, as a freshman at Berlin High School in the early 1960s, when Tom was one of the star players on the varsity basketball team. The only three guys I remember from that team were Tom “Tippy” Pickford, who played alongside another tall guy, Timmy Thomas, and Bobby Keene (if my memory serves me correctly). They made quite a trio of talented players.

In 1978, I became a colleague of Mr. P’s at Berlin Junior High, and we taught and coached together for three decades before he retired.

Tom was a dedicated, hard-working man, who was involved in so many extracurricular activities, in addition to his teaching, all for the benefit of the students he served. I was particularly impressed that he never let a medical condition stop him from “going above and beyond” as a teacher and friend to kids throughout his career and even though he could have, he never used a handicap parking spot and always took the stairs rather than use the elevator when going from one floor to the other in the junior high building.

A remarkable man. His passing was/is a shock to all who knew and loved him. Our thoughts and prayers go out, particularly to Nancy and the kids.

Berlin boys’ soccer

The Berlin High School boys’ soccer team went 1-0-1 over the past two games, with a hard-fought 1-1 tie (which included two overtimes) with Interlakes and a come from behind 3-2 win over Bishop Brady.

In the tie with Interlakes, Berlin scored first when Tyler Rousseau came out of a cluster of players to launch a low, hard shot that went through the goal-tender’s legs.

The Mountaineers maintained that one-goal advantage until the 78:16 minute mark of the second half when Max Hentz scored on a free kick from about 20 yards out.

The teams went into two overtimes, with no scoring.

As Coach Tony Valliere said: “It was tough to give up points in a game that we led in for nearly the entire game. I applauded the kids for being able to sustain the shift in momentum after Interlakes tied it up late, and then to make it through the overtime periods with giving up the winning goal. We had to deal with some injuries during the game, which gave us a taste of dealing with adversity. They handled it well.”

Shaun Goyette had five saves.

In the 3-2 win over Bishop Brady, the Mountaineers were down 2-0 going into the second half.

“We made some mental and tactical adjustments at halftime, moved a few players around and the kids showed a hunger to win the game,” Valliere said.

Ben Estrella scored two quick goals, one at 57:36 (with an assist from Tyler Rousseau) and then at 58:06, to tie things up and put Bishop Brady “on their heels.” That is when the team and the coach knew, Valliere said, “that it was only a matter of time before we would score another goal.”

That they did, when, at 68:16, Trevor Breault passed down the line to Rousseau, who gave a great cut-back pass to Breault who blasted it into the net from 24 yards out to give Berlin the lead and ultimately the 3-2 victory.

Goyette was credited with five saves.

Berlin’s record now stands at 5-4-1, with their next game scheduled for tonight against Prospect Mountain at Gaydo Field beginning at 3:30 p.m.

Gorham girls’ soccer

The Gorham girls soccer team had a 1-1 week with a 3-0 win over Groveton followed by a 5-1 loss to Littleton.

Coach Chris Partenope said: “We started out slow but did manage to score one first-half goal, at the 14-minute mark, when Bryanna Poirier hit the back of the net.”

Gorham did pick up the pace in the second half, when Ella Watson continued her scoring with regularity, by adding to the one-goal lead, with an assist from Karyla Ciccarello, at 27 minutes.

Later, Watson was involved again in the scoring by assisting on a goal by Grace Couture to give them a solid 3-0 lead.

Shortly after some severe weather moved into the region and the game was eventually called with Gorham securing that 3-0 victory.

The game against Littleton was, according to Partenope, “very competitive in the first half, with Ella Watson scoring the first goal of the game, assisted by Sophia Schoenbeck at the 4-minute mark.”

However, two minutes later, Littleton scored to tie things up, then took 2-1 lead at 37 minutes and held that going into the halftime break.

Littleton scored three more goals and held Gorham scoreless in the second half, to win 5-1.

Gorham’s goalie, Karly Cordwell finished the night with seven saves.

As Coach P said, “It just really wasn’t our day.”

Gorham is now at 6-4-1 in Division IV, with their next game on Friday at Colebrook.

Berlin High School field hockey

The Berlin High School field hockey team was back in action yesterday, hosting Kennett and will be a Newfound on Wednesday.

Their record is 4-4.

Gorham boys’ soccer

The Gorham High School boys’ soccer team battled to a 0-0 overtime tie with Littleton last Friday.  

Coach Tina Binette said, “It was a cold blustery day, both teams played hard and with intensity but neither team could score. We worked hard together, set up some runs and tried to make plays but could not put the ball in the net.”   

Gorham’s goalie, Ben Harmon definitely kept his team in the game, making 16 saves.

The next game is in Friday at Colebrook.

Mountain biking

Adam Labonte has informed me that through a “collaborative effort, Berlin and Gorham now has a combined Mountain Bike Club that competes every Wednesday in races.

The team is comprised of two athletes from Gorham High School, two homeschoolers and six from the Berlin Middle School.

Recently they competed races at the Stratham Hill Park, hosted by Portsmouth High School and finished right in the middle of the pack, in sixth place out of 12 teams. Pretty remarkable considering most of the local racers are in the middle-school age bracket.

The host school and coaches involved in the races were so impressed with the performances of the local racers that they gave special recognition to the team, with the presentation of the biggest trophy of the day. Great job to all the kids and their coaches.

National Guard

Melinda and I were quite fortunate, honored and blessed to be invited and to attend the “C Company, 3-238th Medevac 2019 Departure Ceremony” at the N.H. Army National Guard and Army Aviation Support Facility in Concord, this past Saturday.

We were invited by my Godson 1SG Matthew Hawkins, a Milan boy and former Berlin High School student/athlete, who is the first sergeant of the 238th, and were there with quite a large group of Matt’s family and friends from the area.

“The Army Aeromedical Evacuation uses dedicated medical assets (including HH-60M Blackhawk helicopters) to evacuate and provide enroute care of U.S. and Allied Forces from the point of injury on the battlefield to a higher level of care.”

Numerous high-ranking military personnel and Gov. Chris Sununu were keynote speakers at the send-off ceremony.

The 238th will be headed off for more intense training before deploying to the Middle East later in the year. God Bless the troops and the USA!

While there we did “bump into” Matt and Kelly( Mclain) Rouleau, who is also in the military in the Concord area.

From there we headed up to Plymouth to watch the Plymouth State University football team soundly defeat Fitchburg State, and catch up with a few of my “old” football teammates and fraternity brothers at the same time.

It was great reminiscing with them and bragging about how fast, strong and courageous we were in the early to mid 1970s.

I got my first-hand view of what “tailgating” is. I thought it was when people set up tents, grills etc., eat, drink, play corn-hole games and visit, prior to the game. Then you attend the game and maybe go back tailgating after.

It was amazing how many of these people don’t go near the game, before, during or after, and don’t know who is playing or what the score is. Why bother to go to the trouble of traveling, packing, unpacking etc and not even watch the game? I can do that on my back porch.

The point of going to the game is to watch the game. We try to get there early to watch warm-ups and then walk the sideline on the opponent’s side of the field so we can be close to the action, to hear and see the “sounds of the game.”

Cross-country

Gorham High School’s cross-country coach Rob Hamel’s kids competed in the Jerry Blair Belmont Invitational this past week, a meet that consisted of mostly Division III schools, and they are the ones Gorham will face in the state meet.

Noah Fortin continues his improvement and, as Hamel said, “turned it on in that race,” finishing 18th out of 163 runners.

His time was 18:32, and even though he was in 20th place early on, he moved up to 18th and held that spot through the finish line.

Zoe Grondin ran a 24:11, which was good for 42nd place in a field of 115 runners, and Anna Roberge ran another “gutsy race and truly showed how much strength and grit she has as she finished strong.”

Berlin High School cross-country runners competed in the Kennett High School invitational and the boys finished fifth out of 10 teams.

They were first in Division III schools, with the bulk of the competition coming from Division II schools — a good test for the Mountaineers. Joe Young was sixth overall with a time of 17:54; followed by Brayden Landry, 7th, at 18:56; and Brody Day, 24th at 19:06. The 39th, 40th and 41st finishers came from Berlin — Zach Griffin (20:14), Cole Ruediger (20:18) and Jace Arsenault (20:21) respectively. David Young (48th) rounded out the top seven Berlin finishers, with a time of 20:40.

On the girls side of things, Grace Clorite was 57th with a time of 25:20, Cora Treiss was 66th, 26:53, and Alyssa Delafontaine finished 68th in 26:56.

Coach Lord was pretty happy with the performances of his runners, especially against so many larger division schools. If things go as planned and hoped for, many of these runners the Mountaineers will face in the Meet of Champions.

Both Berlin and Gorham teams will be headed up north to Pittsburg this Friday for their annual invitational.

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