Authors Posts by Jack Shea

Jack Shea

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Nova Smith, far left, and brother Nolan Smith, left in green, try to overtake the turkey. —Photo by Michael Cummo

A Grace Episcopal Church Pre-school student looked down at his medal and medallion-bedecked chest on Saturday morning at Owen Park in Vineyard Haven and analyzed his effort.

“Well, I finished fifth, but I did a good job,” he said. Indeed, he was one of about two dozen Grace Church pre-schoolers and alumni, aged three to eight, to complete the traditional school Turkey Run, a grueling but blessedly brief jaunt from Bunch of Grapes bookstore on Main Street up the hill to Owen Park.

—Photo by Michael Cummo
—Photo by Michael Cummo

“I think this is our 10th year,” said Penny Wong, race coordinator and director of the Grace Church Pre-school at the finish line. “The kids love it. Our alumni even come back to run it.
Every kid gets the same prize: a medal, a bottle of water and a clementine.”

Families enjoy the event as well, judging from the number of parents and grandparents congratulating the mite participants at the finish line before many headed back down hill to Waterside Restaurant and to Mocha Mott’s for a celebratory hot chocolate.

The feel-good event is also a significant fundraiser for the pre-school. “We may raise $1,500 this year, money we can use to pay for music and art enrichment programs and for off-Island field trips,” Ms. Wong said. “The enrichment programs are an important part of our (syllabus). Kids enjoy and learn from our music program presented by Jenni Powers and from the drama program developed by Phyllis Vecchia. Our field trips range from a visit to the Ag Hall in West Tisbury to the Roger Williams Zoo in Providence and the Woods Hole Aquarium. If parents are interested, there are still openings in our pre-school program.”

Island businesses have also become donors with Cronig’s, MV Savings Bank, MV Tech, Landswork Landscape, and Action Home Services all donating $100 to the event.

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Geraldine Brooks was one of the judges for last week's National Book Awards. —Photo by Randi Baird

Geraldine Brooks does not judge a book by its cover.

The West Tisbury resident and Pulitzer Prize-winning author actually read, cover to cover, about 200 books this year as a judge for the National Book Awards (NBA).

In fact, Ms. Brooks and a cohort of four other judges each read that many new novels this year from the more than 400 fiction titles submitted for judging in the fiction category for the prestigious literary awards, which were announced on November 19.

The fiction winner was Phil Klay, author of “Redeployment,” a collection of short stories reflecting a variety of human experiences with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr. Klay is a graduate of Dartmouth College and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. He served in Iraq’s Anbar Province from January 2007 to February 2008 as a public affairs officer.

“‘Redeployment’ was my favorite,” Ms. Brooks said last week in an interview with The Times. “A lot of the books were my favorites, that I had to let go of along the way. ‘Redeployment’ is a remarkable piece of writing and an important book. I think it will last in the same manner that ‘The Things They Carried’ reflected the Vietnam War experience.”

“Phil imagines himself in the heads of people whose [war] experience was different from his, goes way beyond anything he has experienced. I am very interested to see what Phil does next,” she said. “Redeployment” was picked from a short list of fiction works by authors Rabih Alameddine, Marilynne Robinson, Anthony Doerr, and Emily St. John Mandel.

Louise Gluck won the NBA poetry prize for her collection “Faithful and Virtuous Night.”

Evan Osnos, with “Age of Ambition,” won the nonfiction award, and Jacqueline Woodson won in the young people’s literature category for “Brown Girl Dreaming,” her memoir in verse.

The National Book Awards were founded in 1950 to promote the appreciation of American literature of the highest quality. The awards are underwritten by the National Book Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to literary excellence.

Books are submitted for a $135 fee by publishers, including some self-publishing companies, and the qualifying books are sent by the publishers to the judges. The bulk of them arrive midyear, and the judges begin reading them to select a long list of 10 books, then a short list of five books from which the winner is chosen — a gargantuan task of reading, thought, and discussion.

“We divided the entries first through an alphabetic sort by authors’ names, and each judge took a group. You were free to read any other book as well. We wanted to make sure that every entry got a good look,” Ms. Brooks said. All the judges read all of the long- and short-list books.

“There was a wonderful sense of where we are as a literary nation, based on diversity and unifying themes. Many books contained a consoling and redeeming aspect of the power of art. Stories save us in tough times. Survival is insufficient. In one postapocalyptic novel, the survivors take up Shakespeare. In another, a woman translates books no one will ever read. That’s where she finds her solace. In another book, Lila is an itinerant young woman who finds relief in the Book of Job,” Ms. Brooks said.

Ms. Brooks said the selection process was most difficult in the early stages of culling the works. “It was really tough until we got to the long list,” Ms. Brooks said. “Differing literary tastes required more negotiation. When we got to the short list of these worthy books, we agreed to a remarkable degree.”

The NBA board provides guidelines to judges (authors must be U.S. citizens and be living at the time of submission), and the judging group develops its own criteria. “Our criteria said: We are looking for a striking original with masterful craft and beauty of language, free of excess, imaginatively rich and compellingly resolved … a book to reread.… It should be a novel that will stand the test of time, so that when we look back a decade from now … we’ll be proud we chose it,” Ms. Brooks reported.

Ms. Brooks had an idea of the size of her task. “Tony [husband and author Tony Horwitz] judged the nonfiction award several years ago, so I had seen the books piling up when he was a judge,” she said.

Another judge this year was Sheryl Coulter, a Northern California bookseller: “Sheryl said she spent so much time reading this summer that her elbows were being rubbed raw. She went to a skateboard store and got a pair of elbow pads,” Ms. Brooks said.

Basic math indicates that each judge read well over a million words as a NBA fiction judge, not including note-making and discussion about the books. Certainly a labor of love: “I love books,” Ms. Brooks said.

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Volunteers for Vineyard Village at Home give Island seniors their wheels.

Mike Adell visits Eileen Cronin in her Havenside Apartments living room. Mr. Adell routinely drives Mrs. Cronin around on her errands, and the two have become friendly. – Photos by Michael Cummo

Mike Adell bounced out of his hybrid Honda last Tuesday morning and loped up the driveway to Havenside Apartments in Vineyard Haven to pick up the indomitable Eileen Cronin for her weekly food shopping trip to down-Island Cronig’s Market on State Road.

Mr. Adell is one of several dozen volunteers at Vineyard Village at Home (VVH) who make independent living possible for about 120 Island seniors. He is 77 now, fit and enthusiastic.

He has had a big life as a globe-trotting corporate executive and successful entrepreneur. He did not expect the personal payoff he’s received as a VVH volunteer.

“These people are phenomenal. I learn so much from them. Amazing life stories. This service is not a task for me, it’s an opportunity. I’ve made friendships through (VVH) volunteering,” he said. Ms. Cronin, ready to go, greets Mr. Adell and a reporter at her door.

Now in her early 80s, Ms. Cronin has had a lifetime of being ready. The Melrose native’s husband, a Monsanto engineer, died unexpectedly in his mid-forties, leaving his wife and four children. Ms. Cronin went to work, became the financial aid officer at Middlesex Community College and raised the kids. The Wall of Fame in her apartment is adorned with pictures of happy faces of these successful kids and their families, including Island businesswoman and community service volunteer Kate Desrosiers.

Ms. Cronin shows up as a happy, forward-looking woman with inbred Mom genes. On the way to the Honda she reminds a reporter to retie his shoe. “You don’t want to trip on the laces,” she said. On the four-minute drive to Cronig’s, Mr. Adell and Ms. Cronin catch up on life and kids. At Cronig’s, Ms. Cronin grabs a cart and heads inside while Mr. Adell and I repair to the Black Dog Cafe for coffee and a chat.

“We really need more volunteers,” Mr. Adell said. “This is a wonderful experience. There’s a bonding and friendship that occurs. I have six or eight people that I see on a regular basis.” He offered snapshots of the lives of several of his new friends, including several who survived the rigors of World War II in Europe.

Mr. Adell’s stories bring to mind Tom Brokaw’s book, The Greatest Generation, about the people born in the first half of the 20th Century who are now America’s senior citizens. He said he enjoys the social aspect of this generation of accomplished people, watching them change as they interact with the world they worked to create.

“You can just see them emerge in public and social settings, see their strength and humanity,” he said.

Back at Cronig’s, Ms. Cronin was at the checkout line, just in front of Marjory Potts, a West Tisbury senior who is shopping in advance of a memorial celebration last weekend for her husband, Robert Potts, a New York and West Tisbury journalist who died last month.

Hilarity ensues in the check-out line, even causing those in the queue to smile and chuckle. “I’ll tell you, the help Vineyard Village gave to Robert and me was enormous,” Ms. Potts said. Volunteers came and sat and talked, and later in his illness, they would read to him,” she said.

In the obituary for her print and radio journalist husband, Ms. Potts solicited volunteers to VVH service.

One reason VVH needs more help is that the organization has been ahead of the demographic curve. According to a report issued by the University of Massachusetts, Martha’s Vineyard has the oldest population in Massachusetts and the 2010 over-65 population of 16 per cent will be become 32 percent by 2030.

A nonprofit startup, founded by Polly Brown of Tisbury in 2007, VVH provides services that enable seniors to live independently. Island volunteers, many of them seniors themselves, provide rides, social interaction and access to the community for nearly 120 Island residents. VVH is modeled after the Beacon Hill Village in Boston, a model for 70 grassroots senior service organizations nationwide.

The point, Ms. Brown said, is to allow well-functioning seniors to stay in their homes and participate in their communities. “We provide referrals for home maintenance, health care workers, food preparation and the like. Mostly, we drive people to places they want to go — exercise class, discussion groups, medical and beauty appointments, friends’ homes, grocery shopping, etc.

“We rely on volunteers to drive our members. On a recent Tuesday, we needed 16 drivers! We do about 50 rides a week, every week,” Ms. Brown told The Times in a recent email.

“We began in January 2007. We used the Beacon Hill Village as a model and did some focus groups here, asking people what they wanted and needed,” Ms. Brown said in an interview this week.

“There has been rapid growth in the aging population and a lot of people live off long dirt roads,” she said. “Summer is not such a problem. Winter can be lonely; many people limit their night driving, but we like to get people out. We try to have parties, which makes it difficult to transport a large group back but we go to the high school culinary arts center, for example.”

The volunteer process is simple. “Tell us what you want to do,” Ms. Brown said. “We have a Google spreadsheet volunteers can access for signups. Volunteers choose what they want to do when they can help. There is no particular schedule.

”It’s quite remarkable to see how many volunteers and clients become friends. A young woman who volunteers with us visits a woman who has become a surrogate grandmother and participates in holiday and family celebrations.

“What we are really doing is giving back to Island residents who have given so much themselves to the community.”

Last Tuesday, as we left Ms. Cronin chuckling over our bumbling attempts to hang living room curtains, Mr. Adell said, with a laugh: “Know what? I’m going to keep doing this until they’re driving me around.”

Residents who wish to look into VVH service may call Ms. Brown at 508-693-3038, or email her at vineyardvillage@gmail.com.

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Andrew Engelman is proud of being conservative while Don Keller supports liberal causes. —Photos courtesy Engelman and Keller

Updated 12:10 pm, November 21

“I realize that it is not about who is right or wrong, it is about how we treat each other. We will always have differences of opinion, as we all see reality through our individual filters. The debates will continue. Good, intelligent, and honest men and women will disagree. What is important is to listen — to have some respect and some courtesy. ”

Opposites attract — a law of nature. But when you have two guys on different ends of the political spectrum, such as conservative Andrew Engelman and liberal Don Keller, is it possible for them to meet in the middle?

Turns out it is, if the opposing forces are men of goodwill. And with such men, we spectators might observe an experiment underway: an experiment in the art of civil discourse.

Ah, the digital age. Social media have provided us with endless opportunities to interact and to disagree with one another. Too often, the exchanges deteriorate into mindless attacks authored by the inarticulate and socially maladroit. Now, it’s true that the particular Island residents that are the subject of this story have been regularly lambasting each other by name for their opinions, generally around climate change, in the Letters to the Editor and in the Comment sections of The Times this year.

However, these men are informed, articulate, socially aware, and as it turns out, men of goodwill. Several weeks ago, Mr. Keller explained in a letter to the editor what happened recently, after an online exchange:

“I let him know [in an online comment] that I appreciated that he cared enough to voice his opinion, while I contemplated how to shred his arguments. At his suggestion, we met for coffee one morning. We had a wide-ranging conversation for two hours about our backgrounds, beliefs, biases, and opinions. I came away from that encounter with a real appreciation for the man and his convictions.

“But thinking about the bigger picture, I realize that it is not about who is right or wrong, it is about how we treat each other. We will always have differences of opinion, as we all see reality through our individual filters. The debates will continue. Good, intelligent, and honest  men and women will disagree. What is important is to listen — to have some respect and some courtesy. That’s what really makes a society a pleasant place to live….”

Recently, The Times sat down with both men at the Black Dog Cafe to record the dynamic and, you know, maybe capture some fireworks.

The fireworks looked initially promising, judging by appearances and background. Mr. Engelman, 70, is a squared-away, conservative guy. He was raised in post-World War II Latvia under the Soviet system before his family hopscotched its way to the US of A, via Germany and an Australian refugee camp, just in time for 14-year-old Andrew to begin high school. Mr. Engelman became a U.S. citizen at age 19.

Retired from a career with multinational chemical companies, he is now chairman of a Christian ministry and splits his free time between the Island and Florida. Mr. Keller, on the other hand, is a refugee from Exit 3 on the New Jersey Turnpike. He said he arrived on the Vineyard in 1986 to ride his bike and “to have happy thoughts.” Now 62, he operates a small construction company in Vineyard Haven.

We asked them some questions about their views on the world and their relationship. Their answers were incisive, included brightly colored good-natured jibes, and were marked with respect. No fireworks.

MVT: Describe your feelings about each other before you met.

Mr. Engelman: All I had to go on were his thoughts. I didn’t know his heart. Today I see a person who has a good heart and a liberal, therefore wrong, view.

Mr. Keller: My view was that Andrew was a right-wing radical — uncompromising — but who cared enough to write, to put himself out there in liberal Island la-la land. It’s easy to see why conservatives see liberals as people who think protecting the dunes at Lambert’s Cove beach is the major [environmental] problem. I can see his viewpoint there.

MVT: Did you have concerns or trepidation about meeting each other?

Mr. Engelman: None. I have strong convictions that I may be able to convince [him] about. Maybe I’ll learn. We are informed by life experiences. [Ours] are different, and I’ve learned about his temperament, his heart.

Mr. Keller: No. I’m not a fearful person.

MVT: What is your relationship like now?

Mr. Engelman: I’m very comfortable sitting here next to him, because he embodies lots of friendly things; smart, straightforward, a sense of humor. Just because you’re a liberal doesn’t mean you aren’t a nice guy. We don’t engage in ad hominem attacks.

Mr. Keller: I respect people who are not apathetic. I want to make a difference.

MVT: What has changed?

Mr. Keller: You know, I met someone with a different opinion who has invigorated my life. We all have an innate desire to do good.

Mr. Engelman: I am grateful Don and I got together. Don has shown a predisposition to talk through things, not rejecting me as a nut. Fact is, he’s the first guy in nine years who’s tried to have a chat. That’s a credit to him that he allows people to express why they believe certain things.

MVT: What are your commonalities?

Mr. Keller: We don’t really know, because we were anonymous to each other before.

Mr. Engelman: Hostility is in the eye of the beholder.

The two men agree on more issues than would be readily apparent. They share a concern for a decline in American society. Mr. Engelman attributes that to “too many people in the cart and not enough people pulling the cart.” Mr. Keller is okay with the status of the cart, but sees a national political system riddled with arrogance for the electorate.

And they agree that an underinformed and ill-informed populace is not making our societal life easier. “Samuel Johnson [the 18th century English writer] said that most ideas are not propagated by reason but are caught by contagion,” Mr. Engelman said.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Mr. Engelman is 72 and chairman of a worldwide Christian ministry. He is 70 and is the former chairman of FOCUS, an Island based national Christian Ministry. The story also mischaracterized Mr. Keller’s original decision to move to the Vineyard.

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The annual Island Cup bonfire was held on the girl's softball field Thursday night before the upcoming football game against Nantucket. — Photo by Michael Cummo

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Vineyard athletic teams and their fans gathered around the fire to support the football team and cheerleaders. — Photo by Michael Cummo

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The annual Island Cup bonfire was held on the girl's softball field Thursday night before the upcoming football game against Nantucket. — Photo by Michael Cummo

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The football team burned a Nantucket coffin to signify their hopeful defeat of the other island's football team in Saturday's game. — Photo by Michael Cummo

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David Macias, center left, and Luke McCracken react after throwing the Nantucket coffin in the bonfire. — Photo by Michael Cummo

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From left, Austin Chandler, Gavin Fynbo and Andrew DiMattia shy away from the heat of Thursday night’s bonfire. — Photo by Michael Cummo

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Firefighters helped control the blaze on Thursday night. — Photo by Michael Cummo

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Firefighters attend the bonfire on the MVRHS softball field. — Photo by Michael Cummo

Look for a real tussle Saturday in the 36th edition of the Island Cup as the emergent Nantucket Whaler high school football team (8-2) meets the rejuvenated Vineyarders (5-5) at 1:30 pm on Dan McCarthy Field in Oak Bluffs.

Of course, won-lost records generally mean little in the nationally known rivalry between the islands and this year both teams enter the tilt with good momentum. After an 0-4 start, the Vineyarders have parlayed a multi-threat offense and tenacious defense to win five of their last six games, the last two via shutout.

Across the sound, first year Nantucket High School head coach Brian Ryder has a fired-up squad that enters Saturday’s Island Cup game off a 14-6 double-overtime win over West Bridgewater on Saturday. The Vineyarders pitched their second consecutive shutout on Friday night, 28-0, over Bellingham. The Vineyarders have surrendered just 13 points in their last four games.

Over three and one-half decades, Island Cup dominance has ebbed and flowed. The Vineyarders have won the last nine Island Cup games and the Whalers enjoyed a 9-1 run before Mr. Herman took the Vineyarder helm 28 years ago. Last year’s 14-0 victory gave the Vineyard an 18-17 edge in the rivalry.

Mr. Ryder has lived the rivalry, playing for the Island Cup for several years in the mid-1980s under legendary Nantucket coach Vito Capizzo. Mr. Ryder became an All-American at Dean College (Franklin, Mass.), then a scholarship player at Tulane University and had a stint in professional football including being a New England Patriots draft choice in 1991.

Mr. Herman has been pointing his charges to the Cup after their slow start. “Our goal has been to have a winning season and we’re on track for achieving that goal. A tough challenge, though. They’re having a very good year. They are a physical, athletic group. Brian has done a good job.

“The team that can stay within themselves has the best chance. We can’t let emotion get the best of us. That’s our best opportunity to be successful. We’ve worked on that all week, along with the football things. Don’t get excited too early, peak at the right time.

“They are going to want to try to run the ball down our throats. We saw their game against West Bridgewater. They can throw it, but I think they prefer smash-mouth, the type of game I enjoy, personally.”

The Vineyarders have presented a more balanced offensive scheme in recent games. “We are more in synch now. It’s hard to be balanced when you are behind,” Mr. Herman said of the season-opening four-game skid. “But against Bellingham, every one of our skill players touched the ball.”

Asked for the inside story on his game strategy, Mr. Herman answered with a comment former assistant coach Bill Belcher always supplied to the question: “Score more points than they do,” he said, noting that Mr. Belcher is making the pilgrimage up from his Florida home for the

game. “The weather is encouraging at this point and I’m glad we’re playing this weekend, when it should be played, rather than after Thanksgiving,” he said.

Nantucket is peaking as well, Mr. Ryder said. “We have a lot of positive emotion coming out of a double-overtime win.” he said. “So it’s a perfect setting this coming week for our hopes of bringing back the Island Cup.

“The Vineyard is a good team, well-coached. As a coach and as a man, Don Herman’s actions speak for themselves. They play one division above ours and they have dangerous weapons — Mike Mussell at quarterback, good receivers and backs that also come out of the backfield. They spread you out, you can’t key on one guy. We have our work cut out for us.

“We match up fairly well. We’re big. Now, big is one thing. Being a football player is another. We’re a much more physical and aggressive team than we have been. We have some big and talented players.

“Nantucket has always had a stiff defense. That was my goal this year, to bring that back to the program. Nantucket football is a big part of my life, providing me with a college education. This is an opportunity to give back what I received as a player here.”

“That’s a reason why I wanted to get back. It’s slow going, not perfect, but the goal is to build commitment, accountability, and a work ethic that will be of value in their lives long after their playing days.”


The MVRHS Football team will face off against Nantucket on Saturday. —Photo by Diane Caponigro
The MVRHS Football team will face off against Nantucket on Saturday. —Photo by Diane Caponigro

2014 VARSITY ROSTER

#

NAME

CLASS

HEIGHT

WEIGHT

POSITION

3

Mike Mazza

12

5’11”

158

SE/DB

4

Mike Mussell

12

6’0”

186

QB/DB

10

Ennis Foster

10

5’10”

160

SE/DB

16

Tucker McNeely

11

5’11”

175

QB/DB

17

Jack Slayton

12

5’10”

161

RB/DB

18

James Sashin

10

6’5”

221

TE/DL

19

Spencer Schofield

12

5’8”

160

QB/DB

20

Curtis Farrell

11

5’10”

159

SE/DB

21

David Macias

12

6’0”

163

RB/LB

22

Jacob Cardoza

11

5’10”

152

RB/DB

24

Isaac Higgins

11

5’9”

188

RB/LB

27

Ben Clark

11

6’2”

200

TE/LB

33

Austin Chandler

11

6’1”

173

RB/LB

42

Justin Donahue

11

5’5”

183

RB/LB

45

Luke McCracken

12

6’1”

194

RB/LB

50

Elijah LaRue

11

5’8”

225

RB/LB

51

Liam Smith

12

5’10”

203

OL/LB

53

Andy DiMattia

11

5’9”

234

OL/DL

56

Jimmy DiMattia

11

5’10”

249

OL/DL

58

Crockett Cataloni

11

5’10:

212

OL/DL

60

Dan Costello

12

5’10”

200

OL/DL

61

Andrew Fournier

12

6’1”

200

OL/DL

64

Cooper Wilson

12

5’10”

211

OL/DL

72

Ian Shea

11

6’5”

217

OL/DL

76

Austin Fournier

12

6’1”

200

OL/DL

78

Luke DeBettencourt

10

6’4”

262

OL/DL

83

Paul Mayhew

11

5’9”

151

SE/DB

84

Gavin Fynbo

12

6’5”

177

SE/DB


2014 JUNIOR VARSITY ROSTER

#

NAME

CLASS

HEIGHT

WEIGHT

POSITION

1

Zach Moreis

9

5’5”

142

QB/DB

5

Elijah Matthews

10

5’6”

131

SE/DB

7

Jerry DaSilva

9

5’6”

110

SE/DB

11

Cooper Bennett

9

5’2”

85

SE/DB

12

Sam Bresnik

9

5’5”

115

QB/DB

14

Andrei Bernier

10

5’10”

160

SE/DB

25

Travis Viera

9

5’5”

150

OL/DL

34

Matt Scheffer

9

5’7”

152

RB/LB

43

Harrison Dorr

9

6’1”

147

OL/DL

47

Colby Scarsella

10

5’9”

179

OL/DL

52

Alex Vasiliadis

9

5’9”

159

OL/DL

54

Nick Andrade

9

5’9”

209

TE/LB

55

Zach Rydzewski

10

5’7”

176

OL/DL

57

Curtis Fournier

9

6’1”

191

OL/DL

68

Connor Bettencourt

9

5’9”

214

OL/DL

71

Wilson Redfield

10

5’9″

205

OL/LB

74

Cody Caseau

10

5’11”

165

RB/LB

77

Sam Rollins

9

5’10”

207

OL/DL

79

Perry Bliss

9

6’2”

260

OL/DL

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Rise Terney read from "Seven" at the West Tisbury library on Sunday. —Photo by Michael Cummo

On Sunday afternoon, an overflow audience listened silently for several hours to the reading of Seven, a documentary play about seven women around the world who survived personal and systemic abuse to give women a voice, to become safer, and to change their national cultures of enslavement of women.

Seven is a relentless telling, and then retelling, of personal and gender atrocities against women in Northern Ireland, Guatemala, Afghanistan, Russia, Cambodia, Nigeria, and Pakistan. The play was staged by The Friends of the Vineyard Haven Library, directed by Leslie J. Stark, and presented by Island residents Connie McCreery, Charlena Seymour, Nora Nevin, Linda Vadasz, Sofia Anthony, Ellie Beth, and Elaine Bart.  

Initially staged in 2008, Seven has been performed around the world, though unsurprisingly, not often or at all in the seven subject countries. In five years, Seven has become an anthem for women’s equality and an important tool for women’s rights activism.

In a startling performance this year, seven NATO generals took the stage in camo uniforms and insignia to tell the stories of Inez McCormick (Northern Ireland), Anabella De Leon (Guatemala), Farida Azizi (Afghanistan), Marina Pisklakova (Russia), Mu Sochoa (Cambodia), Hafset Abiola (Nigeria), and Mukhtar Mai (Pakistan), seven women who militated successfully against impossible odds in cultures with thousand-year traditions of subjugating women.  

Seven was created as a collaboration of seven women playwrights who interviewed the women activists and produced an interrelated story delivered in a present-day, objective, reportorial style that more shockingly illuminates the content. The story of Mukhtar Mai, a lower-caste illiterate Pakistani villager, is searing. Her brother has been accused of sexual misconduct by four men and brought before village elders for adjudication of a crime for which execution is the punishment.

She is brought by her father and uncle to the elders to beg for mercy. A plea for mercy in her culture must be made by women since it is beneath the dignity of men to beg. She is willing to do this to save her brother, but the headman is more interested in her humiliation and orders the four accusers to “do with her what you will.”

The four armed accusers drag her into a stable and gang-rape her, then throw her into the street, bloody and near-naked. These men are also the four who raped her two-year-old brother before accusing him of the sexual misconduct that has brought her to them. She files a report with bored and unsympathetic police who order her to affix her thumbprint to a form. “We will fill in the details of report,” she is told.

Mukhtar Mai feels the powerlessness of her situation. “A man is like gold, a woman like a piece of white cloth. If the gold falls into the mud, it can be shined brighter than before but a white cloth that falls into the mud is ruined forever,” she tells playwright Susan Yankowitz.

In her culture, women devalued in this way are encouraged to commit suicide.

But though no Pakistani woman has ever successfully brought charges against a man, she persists and finds a sympathetic government eye. The accused men laugh at her efforts but are not laughing when they are found guilty, fined heavily, and sentenced to death.

Some months later, Mukhtar Mai receives a settlement of 500,000 rupees, about $8,000.  “I do not want money. I want to learn to read,” she exclaims, and uses the money to begin a school for girls in her village. At the time of writing, Mukhtar Mai had completed the fifth grade in the school she founded. She has begun two more schools, educating girls and boys. One of the things literacy has taught her is that the Koran specifically forbids violence against women rather than condones it.

Mukhtar Mai learned the same things early in life as Hafset Abiola learned in Nigeria: “I learned fear, I learned to be silent. I learned to submit,” Hafset Abiola, now a Nigerian state minister, recalls of her early education in the village.

In Moscow, Marina Pisklakova speaks with an acquaintance on fear of her life from beatings by her husband. “Report this to the police. Someone must be able to help,” Ms. Pisklakova counsels. “There is no help. No one can help. The police say being beaten by your husband is proof of how much he loves you,” she says. There is a protocol for wife-beating that counsels men to beat their wives with a rod because the pain is more intense, hence more loving. Men are cautioned only against beating their wives in the face so that she may not be seen in public and to avoid beating her in the stomach if she is pregnant. The two women continue to talk over a period of weeks, then the calls stop.

Ms. Pisklakova does the research and finds her friend was correct. There is no enforcement or protective agency in the world’s largest bureaucracy devoted to helping or protecting women. Today there is. At great personal risk, Ms. Pisklakova began the first domestic violence hotline in Moscow, pushed officials to discover that 15,000 battered women were killed and nearly 60,000 hospitalized each year in Russia. Today her National Center for The Prevention of Violence operates 170 crisis centers across her country.

And on it went last Sunday afternoon. Asia, Europe, South America, The Far East. Christian countries, Islamic countries, Pagan worship countries. The message is that cultures that are completely alien to each other have used and continue to use a common system to abuse women. These stories are not ancient history. They occur daily across the globe.

We see that the Pakistani cops who laughed at Mukhtar Mai had the same mentality as Russian policeman in the 1990s who called to tip off the husband to be careful with his wife beating behavior after a Pisklakova client reported his domestic abuse.

When the two-hour reading concluded, a grim-faced audience of 70, overwhelmingly women, sat stunned momentarily before applauding the players for their efforts.

Refreshments were served, but many rose and filed silently out of the meeting space. “I can’t measure my reactions right now. I don’t have the words right now,” one woman said as she exited.

Noting the reaction of the audience, Bonnie George of Chilmark said, “It is necessary to hear these stories over and over again to make change. There cannot be enough publicizing of abuse against women.”

Seven is an experience of benefit to every man and woman of good will and a cautionary tale for those who are not.

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Jay Kaufman's debut novel is set in a fictional version of Edgartown.

The Mystery Of The Cliff House by Jay Henry Kaufman, oversize paperback, copyright Sept. 2014 by Jay Kaufman, 81 pages. $7.19. Available now on Amazon.

This week, reading Jay Kaufman’s first novel, a children’s book, I was reminded that the books we read as children have great power and enormous impact on our adult lives.

The Mystery of the Cliff House title rang a bell. I realized that the title was taking me back more than 50 years to the Hardy Boys detective mysteries, specifically to a title in the series with a vaguely similar name: The House on the Cliff. I found myself able to recreate that 12-year-old mind, recall his passion for reading and his life perspective at that time. Reading is a powerful trigger.

Mr. Kaufman, a longtime Edgartown resident, has written a kids’ mystery book that is a complex, more grown-up version of the straightforward adventures of Frank and Joe Hardy. He is to be commended for this work, particularly since he has taken up his pen after 36 years as an eye surgeon, including a stint as chief of the ophthalmology department at Newton-Wellesley Hospital near Boston.

The book is clearly set on Martha’s Vineyard, around Edgartown and Chappaquiddick, and concerns the adventures of Lucy, Eve, and Nate, aged six, eight, and eleven years old.  The kids hear rumors of very old fossils being found on Little Island (Chappaquiddick) at the site of an excavation being carried out near the harbor to move a house that has been endangered by erosion.

Nate, at six years old, is all about prehistoric creatures and successfully lobbies his sisters to check it out. They row across the harbor to investigate and are met by the homeowner who is, by turns, either friendly or churlish.

A subsequent short trip by ferry, where the kids spot a mysterious, long dark shape swimming in the water, and close-up investigation reveals that there are fossils near the house and the homeowner’s shiftiness convinces the kids that something else, something not quite right, is going on.

As you know, we do not disclose the denouement of plots on this page in order to encourage folks to read the book under review. We can say that Mr. Kaufman builds suspense — and some danger — into the story. It’s a good yarn.

What we will say is that this book, like many in the modern children’s genre, incorporates realpolitik situations that were unmentioned in the Hardy Boys generation. The kids, for example, are ministered to by their grandmother, a loving, perspicacious soul, guilty only of a propensity to provide the mini-adventurers with enough snacks to feed a platoon.

She is looking after the kids because their mom is working in Boston while their dad is on military assignment in Afghanistan. The kids learn to deal with parental absence. Interestingly, Mr. Kaufman also provides insights into the kids’ dream lives, offering the lesson that real experiences often show up in dreams.

If the author seems to be channeling the pre-adolescent mind, it’s because he is. The Times caught up with Mr. Kaufman this week by telephone at New York’s Penn Station.

“The children’s characters are inspired by the personalities of my three grandchildren who are the ages of Lucy, Eve and Nate: one is maternal (Lucy), another is more of an in-your-face personality (Eve) and the third is more philosophical and intellectual (Nate),” Mr. Kaufman said.

“I absolutely wanted to create real life situations which called upon their courage, curiosity and the ability to process information,” he said. “I’ve been concerned that the vocabulary might be a little advanced, but I risked it to allow opportunities to inform young sensibilities.”

Mr. Kaufman has a good eye for both the pre-adolescent and adult human condition. He has staged two plays, including Cross Talk, conversations between two ideologically opposite parents with a son in the military in the Middle East. The play ran for two sold-out weeks at The Vineyard Playhouse several seasons ago. Mr. Kaufman has also published a short story based on his own experiences with the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division during the Vietnam War.

“I’m a flag-flyer. My experience in Vietnam was part of the motivation to write this book. In the context of why we write, I want to get my ideas and beliefs on paper. I start with a premise and put a person in a situation, expecting the character to behave rationally. Generally, the character takes over from there.

“There is nothing complex about this book,” he said. “It’s a story of the old virtues: taking responsibility, being brave. I have thought of a sequel. This is a first effort. If it gets any traction, I will do a sequel with the same characters, a mystery that goes back and forth between the Island and Boston.”

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Richard Ferry (left), a former Marine and current distance runner, with his grandson Ben Ferry of West Tisbury, a current Marine. —Photo courtesy of LCPL Benjamin Ferry

Gung-ho gets it done.

Former U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) captain Richard Ferry and his grandson, Marine LCpl. Ben Ferry, of West Tisbury, are good examples.

We all need heroes in our lives and Ben Ferry is a lucky man. He didn’t have to go looking for his. His grandfather qualified for the job a long time ago.

And as his luck would have it, Ben Ferry today finds himself serving in the same Marine unit in which his grandfather served 60 years ago.

 

Lcpl Ben Ferry (third from left) with three colleagues, Lcpls Aaron Jittu, Mike Genna, and Cody Friday. —Photo courtesy of LCPL Benjamin Ferry
Lcpl Ben Ferry (third from left) with three colleagues, Lcpls Aaron Jittu, Mike Genna, and Cody Friday. —Photo courtesy of LCPL Benjamin Ferry

LCpl. Ferry, an automatic weapons rifleman with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, is currently stationed in Okinawa, Japan, a few hundred miles south of the Chosin Reservoir in South Korea, where his grandfather fought and was twice wounded in one of the longest and bloodiest engagements of the Korean Conflict in the early 1950s.

Today, Mr. Ferry, 83, lives in Indian Harbor, Fla., where he is the president and regulatory affairs manager for the Valjean Corporation, a personal care product company. Mr. Ferry served for 15 years in the Marine Corps and became an attorney after attending law school at night. He moved his family to the Island in the late 1960s when the Steamship Authority (SSA) retained him as a legal consultant, handling real estate and other asset purchases, as well as negotiating contracts with vendors on SSA vessels.

Along the way, Mr. Ferry has been active in political campaign management, including former mayor Kevin H. White’s first mayoral campaign and organizing regional Democrats for the Bush-Cheney presidential campaign.

Three of his six children live on the Island full time, including Ben’s father, James, and Michael, who are construction contractors. His daughter, Paula Morrissey, is a nurse at Windemere extended care facility here.

“He was the go-to guy on the Island,” Michael Ferry recalled this week. “He focused on the task at hand. I remember one time Frank Sinatra tied up his boat in Edgartown and we had a chance to go aboard but we had another commitment that Dad insisted we (honor). So no Frank Sinatra,” he said with a chuckle. “He’s an inspiration to everyone in the family.”

In an email to the Times from Okinawa, Ben Ferry credited his grandfather for the positive impact on his life. “It is no secret across Martha’s Vineyard that like a lot of other natives, I got in a little bit of trouble in my youth,” he said. “In order to change that, I had to work extra hard to get into the Marine Corps and my grandpa stood beside me, encouraging me the entire time. There were countless people who said I could never do it, I would never last, but my Grandpa stood beside me and helped me through it. I talk to my grandpa almost bi-weekly just to check in, see how he is doing, see if there are any stories he has to tell me, and I share stories with him from my time in the Corps that only another Marine would understand.”

LCpl. Ferry is aware of the value that bonding and relationships have on forming young lives. He credits his parents, his Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School hockey coach, Matt Mincone, and West Tisbury police chief Dan Rossi as positive forces in his young life.

The Times spoke with Richard Ferry from Athens, Greece, where he is preparing to run a 10K this weekend. Mr. Ferry took up running at age 80 and sees his new pastime as no big deal. “You can do anything you want to do as long as you put your mind to it,” he said.

Grandpa cut to the chase. “[Ben was] a good kid who needed a kick in the ass,” he said. “The Marine Corps gave that to him, and he has done a really good job.” Mr. Ferry was the speaker at LCpl. Ferry’s recent graduation from advanced infantry training at Camp LeJeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina.

This photo illustration depicts Lance Cpl. Benjamin Ferry and his grandfather, Richard T. Ferry, side-by-side while each was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines. —Photo by Staff Sgt. Joseph Digirolamo
This photo illustration depicts Lance Cpl. Benjamin Ferry and his grandfather, Richard T. Ferry, side-by-side while each was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines. —Photo by Staff Sgt. Joseph Digirolamo

The elder Mr. Ferry, a West Roxbury native, came to the Marines in a slightly circuitous route himself. In a recent interview a Marine public information officer shared with the Times, Mr. Ferry credits Boston Red Sox Hall of Famer Ted Williams for his Marine career.

Mr. Ferry and his friend Neal Mahoney, son of former chief Red Sox scout Neal Mahoney, were at Fenway Park in 1949, talking with Mr. Williams, a decorated World War II and Korean Conflict Marine fighter pilot.

“Ted asked what we were doing in town. Neal admitted that we had caught the ride with his father because we wanted to go to the Federal Building to join the Naval Reserve, [mainly] so we could get an ID card and alter the date of birth [so] we could drink,” he said. “Of course, Ted thought that was funny, but he asked, ‘what are you, a couple of (wussies)? If you want to drink and be men, why don’t you join the Marine Corps like I did?’” A year later, Mr. Ferry found himself in Korea, at war, in temperatures that dropped to 35 degrees below zero..

Mr. Ferry is a member of the “Frozen Chosin,” the nickname for the Marines who fought at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. He unfurled a “Frozen Chosin” flag this year as he crossed the finish line in a USMC 17.75K run.

“I am in no way a combat veteran,” Ben said. “I would not want to take away from those brave men who are combat veterans such as my fellow Islanders U.S. Navy Seal Tom Rancich, U.S. Navy Corpsmen Matt Bradley, U.S. Marine Jake Merrill, U.S. Marine Michael Halt, U.S. Army Mike Blake, and, of course, my grandfather.

“When we as service members sign our names on that dotted line and raise our right hands and swear to serve and protect the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, we acknowledge what we are getting ourselves into and accept what the consequences may be. The thing I did not initially realize when I signed the contract is that I signed that contract not only for myself but I also signed for my family, my friends and my community.”

LCpl. Ferry has a clear career path today. “My plan is to do my four years active in the infantry and then re-enlist in the infantry reserves so that I can finish my last year of college and earn a Criminal Justice degree, with a concentration in anti-terrorism and homeland security. After that I intend to re-enlist in the reserves until I am able to retire. After completing my degree I will attend the police academy and try to become a police officer.

“My end goal — no matter whether it be service with the FBI, Border Patrol, an Anti-Terrorism Unit, or a local police officer — is to blend my military career and, hopefully, my law enforcement career until such time that I can retire from both and go fishing just like every Islander dreams of doing,” he said.

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Martha’s Vineyard wide reciever James Sashin catches a Mike Mussell pass, which ended with a touchdown, on the first drive of the game. – Photos by Michael Cummo

The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) Vineyarders ran big plays early and often to beat the Bourne High School Canalmen, 41-6, Friday night at Dan McCarthy Field in Oak Bluffs.

After stifling Bourne on downs in the game’s opening possession, senior quarterback Mike Mussell unleashed a 39-yard strike to a wide-open sophomore James Sashin for the score barely two minutes into the tilt. James Sashin added the first of his six extra points for a 7-0 Vineyard lead.

The Vineyarders took over on downs after the ensuing Bourne possession and on the first play from scrimmage, junior back Jacob Cardoza scored on an 80-yard burst up the middle for a 14-0 lead as a thin Halloween night crowd was settling into their seats shortly after MVRHS cheerleader Oshantay Waite sang the national anthem.

Vineyard running back Jacob Cardoza scoes a touchdown.
Vineyard running back Jacob Cardoza scoes a touchdown.

The rejuvenated Vineyarder squad (3-5), which has won three of its last four games after an 0-4 start, has been piling up impressive numbers over the last two weeks. On Friday night, Mike Mussell was 5 for 7 passing for 158 yards with three TD passes as well as receiving a touchdown pass from James Sashin. Mike has 14 TD passes thus far this season.

Juniors Jacob Cardoza and Ben Clark each scored twice. Ben Clark had 117 yards rushing to lead the team. Jacob Cardoza, with 101 yards rushing, also eclipsed the single season reception yardage record (576 yards) set in 1992 by Albie Robinson.

The first half offensive onslaught continued with a 40-yard pass from Mussell to Cardoza and a 64-yard catch and run by Jacob Cardoza. Bourne scored on a 28-yard run by Dylan Kehoe. The point-after failed and the teams headed to the locker room with the Vineyarders leading 27-6.

Ben Clark closed out the Vineyarder scoring in the second half with TDs in the third (24 yards) and fourth quarters (66 yards).

Head coach Donald Herman, who has endured the worst start (0-4) in his 29 years on the Vineyard sidelines, said he was heartened by the effort on Friday night.

“Yeah, we had some big plays,” he said. “It’s nice to see that we are starting to figure some things out. We were able to take advantage of some of the defensive schemes that Bourne was playing, but the important thing was that our kids executed well.”

Asked for his takeaway from this game, he provided the following assessment. “We are on track to being where we want to be, one step closer to a 6-5 winning season. We’ve won three of our last four and we have three games left and a lot of work to do to get there.”

While the Vineyarder offensive production was impressive on Friday night, Mr. Herman had kudos for his defense and the kicking game, featuring sophomore James Sashin whose punting work was impressive, including one booming 40-yard kick into a stiff wind.

Some fans came to the game dressed in Halloween costumes.
Some fans came to the game dressed in Halloween costumes.

Bourne produced an effective running game which kept the quick-strike Vineyarders offense off the field for extended periods of time. Longtime Vineyarder fan Richard “Stoney” Stone, sitting gamely atop the bleachers in frigid conditions, offered this appraisal. “I think Bourne has had more time of possession than we have,” he said.

In truth, Bourne did run the ball effectively against a Vineyarder defense that bent but didn’t break, coming up with big plays to stop the Canalmen four times on downs, including one series in which the Vineyarders tallied tackles for lost yardage on three consecutive plays.

“We’ve got an excellent linebacking corps,” Stoney said. “Austin Chandler (15 tackles to lead the defense Friday night) is having a fantastic season with Ben Clark, David Macias. Luke DeBettencourt, Andy DiMattia (14 tackles on Friday night) had very strong games.”

He noted that David is the only senior in the group. “We started some sophomores on Friday and we’ll start them again,” he said.

Which bodes well for the future? “We need numbers. Overall the numbers  are low,” he said. In fact, the Vineyarders suited up only 28 players on Friday night to face a 1-7 Bourne team with only 23 players in uniform.

At halftime, a passing Bourne fan agreed. “It’s tough. You know, most of our kids have been playing together since Pop Warner and they’ve kept playing into high school,” he said.

The Vineyarders play next Friday at Joseph Case High School in Swansea. The game against an 0-8 Cardinal squad begins at 6 pm.

They meet Bellingham High School at home on November 14 before hosting Nantucket for the annual Island Cup matchup at 1:30 pm, Saturday, Nov. 22. The schools’ JV teams play at 10:30 am.

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Sophomore lineman Zach Rydzewski tackles a Coyle & Cassidy running back.

A smaller, out-manned Marthas’ Vineyard Regional High School junior varsity squad showed up Monday afternoon and gave the Coyle & Cassidy High School junior varsity team all they could handle at Dan Patrick Field. The Vineyarders lost 7 to 6 in the coulda-woulda-shoulda game of the year.

Vineyard quarterback Zach Moreis returned the opening kickoff for a 65-yard touchdown run to give the Vineyarders (0-6 on the season) a 6-0 lead. The point after attempt failed. The Warriors answered late in the first half after returning an interception inside the Vineyard 5 yard line. Three plays and a kicked extra point later, the Warriors had a 7-6 lead that would stand up.

The Vineyarders played smart and inspired defense throughout a game that Coach Jason Neago described as “a significant game, a great effort and a turning point in our season.”

An important point, considering that Coyle & Cassidy employs a sophisticated offense, featuring a shotgun set for both the run and the pass. They use lots of misdirection and pitches in their run game and twice ran a double reverse to which Vineyarder defenders reacted well.

Running back Andrei Bernier runs for a huge gain against Coyle & Cassidy. —Photo by Michael Cummo
Running back Andrei Bernier runs for a huge gain against Coyle & Cassidy. —Photo by Michael Cummo

The Vineyard defensive line clogged the middle effectively against the run and created lanes for linebackers to get into the Warrior backfield to make five tackles, each for a loss. Zach Rydzewski, Colby Scarsella and Curtis Fournier had huge games on defense.

The Vineyard offense was more straightforward, with freshman quarterbacks Moreis and Adam Resnick on quarterback running draws and sweeps and sophomores Andrei Bernier and Elijah Matthews busting off-tackle and up the middle. Andrei was a horse on Monday, punishing defenders at the line, dragging linebackers and defensive backs with him for extra yards.

Moreis was an offensive key to Vineyard ball control, reading defensive formations and running for open space. In fact, he was off to the races on three runs until a last defender made a shoe-top tackle. In addition to TD-saving tackles by C&C defenders, the Vineyard coughed the ball up twice inside the C&C 10-yard line. Hence the coulda/woulda/shoulda perspective.

Both teams played hard-nosed ball, neither took a down off, and play raged up and down the field all afternoon. With only 15 Vineyarder players suited up compared with 28 C&C players, the question became whether the Vineyarders, playing both ways, would wilt under constant C&C pressure. Of particular note was the discipline with which the Vineyarders played in a penalty-free second half and only one in the game.

They did not wilt and had a chance late in the fourth quarter after stopping C&C deep in Vineyard territory with 1:32 left. Vineyard coaches and Moreis handled the clock masterfully, with the heady freshman once avoiding a sack to pick up yardage before making it out of bounds to stop the clock. The game ended with the Vineyarders in C&C territory and a C&C interception of a desperation pass with 30 seconds left.

Vineyard running back Elijah Matthews bursts through a gap in the Coyle & Cassidy defense. —Photo by Michael Cummo
Vineyard running back Elijah Matthews bursts through a gap in the Coyle & Cassidy defense. —Photo by Michael Cummo

In the post-game huddle, assistant coaches Chris Scarcella and DT Kaeka congratulated their squads before Coach Neago reminded the players that had a C&C rematch on November 17.

Speaking with The Times after the game, Mr. Neago said, “This was our breakout game, I feel. We brought it today. Intensity we’ve been looking for, start to finish. We have players who represent that. Cooper Bennett (a freshman wide receiver at 5 feet, 2 inches and 85 pounds): did you see the blocks he threw that sprung Zach for long gainers? That kid is the heart and soul of our team.”

Mr. Neago knows football players. As a product of high school ball in Massillon, Ohio, a football mecca, Mr. Neago, first-year Vineyarders’ JV coach, also played for the Air Force Academy for two years before a military career.

Both the Vineyard and Coyle & Cassidy varsity squads are looking to reload in 2015 after mediocre 2014 campaigns. The JV performance on Monday showed both schools that help is on the way.

The Vineyard JVs (0-6) have four games remaining, including the rematch with Coyle & Cassidy (3-4) in Taunton.