Former Castleton University field hockey coach Tammy Landon calls Carolyn Griggs “my dream recruit.”
Landon was recruiting her when Griggs was a standout for Mount Abraham Union High School coach Mary Stetson. Landon went to watch Griggs play for the Eagles and was in steady communication with Stetson.
“Mary felt that staying in Vermont would be a great fit for Carolyn,” Landon said.
“Family was very important to Carolyn. I think it was important to her to have her family be able to come and watch her play,” Stetson said.
“She potentially could have played at a higher level,” Landon said.
She would know. Landon played field hockey for Springfield College back when its field hockey program competed at the NCAA Division I level.
Griggs played for the Spartans from 2005 through 2008 and amassed numbers that have her ranked third all-time at the school in goals with 63 and 10th in assists with 19.
Her final season was a special one. She knocked in 22 of her goals that year with 11 assists.
Landon said Griggs was the leader of a great group of seniors.
They won the North Atlantic Conference championship game that year by edging St. Joseph of Maine 4-3 with Griggs scoring two of the goals.
Then, they battled Cortland State hard in the NCAA playoffs before falling 2-1.
“She was talented and had a great field hockey mind as well as great athleticism,” Landon said.
It has all earned Griggs a place in the Castleton University Athletic Hall of Fame. She was to have been inducted this fall but COVID intervened and it is hoped that Griggs, Mat Parker and Mike Cronin will be inducted as members of the newest class in the fall of 2021.
Stetson knew what Castleton was getting.
“She was a dream to coach,” the Mount Abe coach said. “She was the last to leave practice. She was a great role model and leader for the team.”
It did not take long for her impact to be felt in high school. She scored the winning goal in the state championship game against Otter Valley as a freshman.
Following graduation from Castleton, Griggs returned home and helped Stetson in coaching the Mount Abe team.
Now, she has a family and is busy with three young children.
“She is a great mom. Carolyn puts her heart into every thing she does,” Stetson said. “I really respect her.”
“She embodied everything about team and integrity,” Landon said. “She was well liked and respected by her teammates every year.”
Mount Abraham defeated Burr and Burton Academy for the Division II state championship in field hockey this fall.
That was a surprise to Stetson. The surprise was not that her perennial power won that game. The surprise was that there was a game.
“Before the season, when they were saying we are going to play games and have a championship, I said, “OK, we’re going to play games but we’re not going to have a championship.’” Stetson said.
“We all did the right things and we were able to get through the season.”
Rutland High School softball coach Dick Wright missed by one person of being the last Bristol High School graduate to receive a diploma.
He has never forgotten the lessons he learned from Mike Nason that senior year at Bristol High School when the school was transitioning to Mount Abraham Union High School. Nason was the principal that year.
“I learned so much basketball that year from him by sitting in his office and having him debrief my games,” Wright said. “If he had been my coach for that time, I would have played in college.”
Wright recalled that Nason, a Chester High School graduate, drove from Chester to Bristol each day that year.
Nason had a terrific basketball and baseball career at Norwich University. He scored 1,320 points for the Cadets and was the basketball team MVP in 1959. He was inducted into the Norwich Hall of Fame in 1984.
Wright said he learned from Nason just how unimportant personal statistics are about what really is important in sports and life.
Nason had a long career as a school administrator with stops at places like Bristol, Milton and Saranac Lake (N.Y).
During that career, he touched a lot of people. Obviously, the Rutland High School softball coach was one of them.
Mike Nason and his brother Charles Nason Jr. played basketball for the Chester High School team coached by their father Charles Nason Sr.
They won a state championship together for Chester High in 1953.
Chester High was the forerunner of Green Mountain Union High School and GM’s gym is named for Charles Nason Sr.
Like his father, Mike coached a Vermont high school boys basketball team to a state title. That happened in 1967 when he piloted North Troy to a 76-50 victory over Brighton.
The Brighton team was coached by Rod Willard, another Chester High graduate. Again, the small, small world of Vermont high school athletics.
Willard is the grandfather of recent Poultney basketball player Levi Haviland and his brother Silas who returns to play for the Blue Devils this season.