Posted: Friday September 15, 2006 4:02PM; Updated: Friday September 15, 2006 4:02PM
Impressions of Vermont thus far. Kevin H. shared a vision from the Champlain Valley Fair: "I saw someone drunk driving. In a wheelchair."
Indeed, for deadpan drollery, Harrington is the leader in the clubhouse. A few weeks ago I'd asked idly if anyone had any preferences regarding uniforms, and he'd said, "Just so long as we're not wearing wifebeaters with our names on the back."
But nothing had us in stitches quite like Kevin Mickens' description of himself, not six years ago, before stopovers at Allegany J.C., George Mason, Portugal and Uruguay, as a parochial schoolboy at Baltimore's Mount St. Joseph's. Wrapped in a navy blue blazer.
I hadn't realized what a late bloomer Kevin is. He didn't start playing until age 17. Now, 23 and 6-foot-8, if he's still Little Lord Fauntleroy, he's Fauntleroy with a wicked first step.
Gingerly -- and only after the meal had been consumed -- I broached a delicate topic. In nicknaming the team we hadn't given much thought to the truncation of Frost Heaves. Now that a few headline writers have used HEAVES, it has occurred to us that we're named after a verb that describes an unappealing bodily function. I had to ask: Was it really true that two of our guests had already thrown up on the job?
Indeed, it turns out that, after one of their very first workouts, coach Will Voigt had so tested the players that Ty lost his cookies on the floor of the Municipal Auditorium in Barre.
Then, not a week later, while practicing at the Sports & Fitness Edge in Essex, T did the same thing. But what has elevated Bennett to legendary status is what he did afterward. He wordlessly left the practice floor, went downstairs, fetched a bucket and some towels, and cleaned up after himself. Then he resumed his place among his teammates as if nothing had happened. (Advantage: Bennett.)
As they piled into Ty's Expedition for the drive back to their extended-stay suite hotel, we could only hope that the Frost Heaves Four had had enough, but not too much. Vanessa and I thought we could hear the vehicle -- and, mercifully, not the players -- groaning.
Save the dates
We finally posted it yesterday: A schedule! We invite you to go to the thoroughly logical URL of vermontfrostheaves.com/schedule to view it in all its chronological glory.
It took the basement session in that LaGuardia Airport hotel, of which I've already written, as well as a succession of follow-up e-mails and conference calls, to hammer the sucker out. But to see it at long last, with those 18 home games split evenly between Barre and Burlington, is a very good feeling.
After opening on the road (Nov. 10 in Quebec City and Nov. 12 in Montreal), the Frost Heaves return for our Green Mountain lidlifters on Thursday, Nov. 16, in Barre against Quebec City; and Saturday, Nov. 18, in Burlington versus Buffalo.
We're already fitting Bump the Moose for his tux.
A particular shout-out to the Chicago Rockstars and Bellingham (Wash.) Slam, both of which will be making the considerable schlep to Vermont. The Rockstars, an expansion team founded by former NFL lineman Marques Sullivan and co-owned by my former college classmate John Rogers, are carving out a niche in the Chicagoland 'burbs by, true to their name, marrying hoops with music. The team will stage post-game concerts and, to flush out new recording talent, American Idol-type contests.
As for Bellingham, the Slam were an exemplary ABA franchise last season, when they drew good crowds, went 20-15, and reached the Great Eight of the ABA Playoffs. And while this season they'll no longer feature ABA All-Star Caleb (Kin of Ice) Gervin -- George's nephew has signed to play in Finland -- the Slam has re-signed four of their top players and can be counted on to field a first-rate team.
Thank you, Chicago and Bellingham. And thank you, JetBlue. Even if you don't wind up transporting our opponents, you've driven airfares in and out of Burlington down enough so teams can afford to come play us.
Franco-Canadian Anti-Defamation Update
The Quebec City ABA franchise against whom we'll open the season, and play in our home opener six days later, has decided to drop its politically incorrect nickname. No longer the Jumping Frogs, Quebec City will instead go by the phonetic -- and therefore linguistically neutral -- Kebekwa.
Nonetheless, there will still be a jumping frog in the logo. Or a grenouille sautante, if you will.