Summer 2013: Newsletter # 6

[For those of you who missed the special segment on SportsCenter, here is Athletic Director Charlie Malcolm’s overview of Pemi-Tecumseh Day 2013!]

The day arrived with great anticipation for the lads of Lower Baker and Winnipesaukee.  From the date the “hat” made the long drive from Moultonborough Neck Road to the friendly confines of the Baker Valley, our friends at Tecumseh have been busy recruiting athletes and exploring ways to get as many athletic boys as possible to remain or return for the big contest against Pemi. Here at camp, last week’s cheers were loud in the mess hall, the preparation was moderately frantic, and the sunsets were spectacular.  Each Pemi team practiced for four days, though many campers still took advantage of opportunities to climb mountains, chase butterflies, and perform at campfire.

As always, the Tecumseh Day bugle sounded at 6:30 AM, with the morning mist gliding through the valley to meet the boys.  The seniors blasted rock music and led the Juniors and Intermediates in exercises and a charging Polar Bear before heading up to breakfast for a quick meal before the buses carrying the 10s and 15s left camp at 7:37 AM.  This year, Tecumseh sent advanced vans with each starting unit ahead of their buses and arrived earlier then usual.  You immediately got the sense that Tecumseh was particularly serious about this year’s contest.  Over the last three seasons, Pemi has actually won two more total events than Tecumseh, so clearly, Tecumseh was determined to get back to their winning ways of the Blue and Grey.

Morning Events at Pemi:

SurajThe 11-and-under tennis team stepped onto the courts in the first time slot and played a very competitive match.  Spencer Hill won his number-one singles match 8-0 as did four singles Quinn McConnaughey 8-5. Unfortunately, Suraj Khakee lost in a tie breaker 9-7 at number-two singles, demonstrating outstanding sportsmanship throughout the match.  Number-one doubles of Scott Cook and Ryan Bush won their match-up, though Pemi 11s eventually fell 4-3 in their opening match.

The 12’s soccer game was the most challenging event to watch on many levels and exemplified Tecumseh’s singular determination to make a statement that this year would be different.  Pemi’s footballers were playing Tecumseh’s strongest unit loaded with newly recruited club-level talent.  Timmy Coe fought tenaciously for Pemi at midfield but to no avail as Tecumseh skillfully possessed the ball.  The boys from Winnipesaukee scored early and often and by half time Pemi was down 4-0.  In the opening moments of the second half, Tecumseh scored a 5th goal and coach Roberts made the wise move of pulling many of his top players, most of whom would be playing tennis in the next contest.  Tecumseh chose to keep the ship moving full speed ahead, adding seven more goals in the second half.  Coach Roberts did a remarkable job subbing in players and keeping the boys engaged despite the difficult circumstances.

The 13’s swim team kept the contest close in the early stages before falling to a deep and talented Tecumseh team 33-17.  The highlights of the meet was the work of Ezra Nugiel, Kevin Lewis, Lyle Seebeck, Noah Belinowiz, Lucas Janszky, and Robert Cecil as they swam their hearts out.

From the opening pitch, Tecumseh was also off to the races in the 11’s baseball game.  Charles DeVos and Ryan Cowles made some nice plays in the field while Suraj Khakee delivered Pemi’s only two hits on the day.  The team’s character and mettle were tested throughout the contest as Tecumseh poured it on during a 13-0 rout and our boys had difficulty handling the set-back.

On the tennis court, a strong Pemi 12’s team received victories from Timmy Coe, Gavin Sultan, and Ben Ackerman. With the overall score knotted 3-3, the doubles team of Lucas Gaffney and Ben Burnham fought back from a 7-2 deficit before falling short.  It was this effort by Pemi that provided a glimmer of hope that the boys could begin to rally and meet the challenge of the day.

PattersonThe 13’s soccer team played an aggressive Tecumseh group in what would be a highly competitive match.  Pemi took control of the first fifteen minutes of the match, as Carson Hill, Patterson Malcolm and Ted Orben combined to create a dangerous attack. Tecumseh gradually began to put Pemi back on their heels, but the tenacious play of Lyle Seebeck and Nick Toldalagi denied Tecumseh quality scoring opportunities.  Throughout the match, Sam Berman played well in the net for Pemi.  Ten minutes into the second half, Ted Orben sent Malcolm in on a partial breakaway, but the Tecumseh keeper bravely came off his line and stuffed the play for a game-saving play, even though he was injured on the play.  As the second half wore on, Tecumseh’s overall fitness and desire to win eventually wore down Pemi and they pushed home three quality goals late in the contest for a 3-0 victory.  The 13’s soccer team and the fight and determination from Gaffney and Burnham suggested Pemi could compete if they were willing to embrace the challenge.

The Morning at Tecumseh:

The Doc Nick’s Wonders ten-and-unders found themselves facing a very talented baseball opponent.  Tecumseh’s side-arm pitcher mowed down the Pemi bats while he and his teammates delivered a blistering offense.  Defensively, Jamie Acocella and Whit Courage made great plays in the field as Pemi fell 13-0.

Fortunately, the 10s left their disappointment behind on the little field as soccer coach Bryce Wallis skillfully regrouped the troops and focused their efforts on the challenge ahead.  Tecumseh scored ten minutes into the game, but Pemi answered when Charlie Howe picked a ball out of a scrum near the 18 and chipped the ball over the Tecumseh keeper for a 1-1 tie at half.  After numerous spectacular saves by Gordon “Banks” Robbins in the Pemi net, Tecumseh seized the lead six minutes into the second half, but Pemi kept pushing forward as Eric Bush and Max Blohm worked tirelessly on Tecumseh’s massive soccer field to create scoring opportunities.  With the time running down, Pemi gave up a late goal for the 3-1 final score, but the boys deserved tremendous credit for their extraordinary effort.

MaxArthurThe 15 tennis team garnered victories from the Duval brothers at number-one doubles and Bill O’Leary at third singles, while Arthur Root and Max Pagnucco, and Jack O’Connor and Will Jones delivered doubles triumphs for the 4-3 victory.  However, the 15’s baseballers found themselves down 5-1 early despite outstanding defense from Ben Chaimberg in center and a Zach Leeds at short.  With Pemi trailing 6-2 in the last inning, Hugh Grey hit a triple to deep left center to ignite a Pemi rally.  Pemi narrowed the score to 6-4 with key base hits from Julian Hernandez-Webster, Arthur Root, Will DeTeso, and Bert Oberlander.  With the bases loaded and one out, Leeds hit a sharp comebacker to the mound that resulted in a game-ending double play. It was a frustrating loss, given Pemi had ample opportunities to score but hit the ball hard at people and just couldn’t deliver that one timely hit to break open the game.  As the Tecumseh team stormed the field, Pemi made the long walk back to the mess hall knowing they had gone 1-3 in the morning events at Tecumseh. The news from Pemi would be even worse.

Lunch at Pemi and Tecumseh: “We can still win!!!” and “I’m not going to sugar coat this!”…

After Tecumseh left the dining hall, Pemi gathered around the piano to briefly discuss the morning and re-calibrate their efforts for the afternoon.  Pemi clearly was facing a very prepared and motivated opponent, clearly out to send Pemi a message that last year’s victory was not well received in the Tecumseh community.  I spoke to the Boys about our commitment to each other and importance of being great teammates, especially when the contests were not going well.  There was a brief moment of silence when, all of the sudden, a voice blurted out, “We can still win!”  Well, down 9-1, Las Vegas would make that a historic long shot. Nevertheless, there was something in that young voice that broke the somberness of the situation and inspired all of us to rake a little harder, and perhaps, not take ourselves so seriously.

At Tecumseh, Kenny brought together the boys under the big oak tree overlooking Winnipesaukee.  “I’m not going to sugar coat this,” he confessed. “The results from this morning were disappointing. We can mail it in now — or we can choose to play for something that matters to us.  We have this choice before us.”  With Pemi trailing 9-1 at lunchtime on the road with our youngest campers in tow, the fifteen-and-unders had to come to grips with a very tough situation and respond.

At Pemi, when the 11’s arrived at the Dining Hill, they were an age group in turmoil.  They had let a winnable tennis match slip away and had been creamed in a baseball game.  Some of the lads weren’t necessarily handling the adversity and pressure of the day with the grace and determination necessary to move forward.  This is when excellent counseling could come in, as Payne Hadden, Will Meinke and the rest of the 11’s staff refocused the boys and guided them to one of the best performances of the day on the soccer pitch…

The Afternoon at Pemi:

…From the opening whistle, Pemi outhustled Tecumseh to every 50/50 ball, and seized a 1-0 lead when Sasha Roberts sent Ryan Bush in alone for the score.  In the second half, Tecumseh pushed forward but the defense of Will Laycock, Owen Lee, and Henry Seebeck held strong until Pemi goalie Jasper Nussbaum made an incredible save on a penalty kick to preserve a much needed victory.

The 12’s baseball team stepped onto the diamond to face another very talented side from Tecumseh. Tecumseh quickly shut down the Pemi bats while their talented short stop from Philadelphia delivered a 3-4 effort as our rivals built a 6-0 lead.  Noah Hooper and Jack Elvekrog pitched well for Pemi to keep us in the game and James Minzesheimer broke up the shut-out in the sixth inning with a clutch base hit for the final 7-1 score.  Despite the loss, Pemi played eighteen boys in this game while keeping the game close.

OwenFriedAfter Carson Hill delivered steady victory over an overtly frustrated Tecumseh opponent for Pemi’s 13’s tennis team at first singles and Jackson Trevor and Ketan Parekh won handily at first doubles, Pemi found themselves down 3-2 and needing some clutch victories to defeat the Tecumseh line-up.  After Robert Loeser defeated his gritty opponent with his own unyielding determination at fourth singles, the doubles teams of Owen Fried and Ted Orben at third doubles clinched the match when they chose to play aggressively at the net. With victories in 13’s tennis and 11’s soccer, Pemi appeared to restore some of their missing mojo.

The 12’s age group had lost all three contests heading into the swim meet.  The team came together and fought hard in the water to get a result.  Pemi won the medley relay (Elvekrog, Mangan, Boruchin, and Silver) and received first-place finish in the breast stroke (Byron Lathi) while taking second place finishes in the breast (Jack Elvekrog) Butterfly (Grady Boruchin) and free style (Luke Silver).  To win the meet, Pemi needed a second and third place finish in the free relay.  Coach Payne Hadden wisely broke up his first relay team to share some speed with his second team, and the decision was a splashing success as Pemi took first and third place to win the meet 27-25!  Well done, coach!  Well done, boys!

The 11’s mermen team swam hard but didn’t quite have the horses to deliver the victory. Frank Applebaum won the butterfly while Henry Seebeck took the breaststroke. Scott Cook actually came out of the Health Center and swam well, taking third in the IM (which Pemi won.) Medley Relayers Spencer Hill, Seebeck, Applebaum, and Ryan Bush came in ahead of their rivals, but overall the team came up short at 24-31.

OscarThe 13’s baseball team, fresh off their well-earned victory in tennis, came out and played a flawless baseball game.  Oscar Tubke-Davidson stymied Tecumseh’s bats with outstanding pitching while the defense of Patterson Malcolm at short, Jivan Khakee at third, and Grady Nance in center closed the door on any potential big innings.  Key hits by Nance and Billy Rudnick pushed Pemi to a 3-2 victory – and a 2-2 split on the day for the thirteen-and-under age group.

The Afternoon at Tecumseh:

The 10’s tennis team fell 5-2 to a very strong Tecumseh squad.  Even with Whit Courage winning fourth singles and Jamie Acocella and Eric Bush taking second doubles, Pemi unfortunately came up short in two tie-breakers in what was a very close match. Nevertheless, it was clear to everyone that the ten-year -olds had given it their all.

While the 10’s were playing tennis, the majority of both camps came to watch the fifteen-and-under soccer match.  Without much fanfare, but with a quiet determination, Pemi’s 15’s stepped onto the pitch determined to win this match.  Historically, the 15’s game is one of the most watched and hotly contested fixtures of the day.  Tecumseh rolled out a physical, kick-and-run side against Pemi’s smaller, more technical team.  In the center of the pitch, Julian Hernandez-Webster and Nick Bertrand controlled the ball and built Pemi’s attack down the flank where, Theo Long, Arthur Root, and Brandon Somp worked their magic.  When Tecumseh did hit long balls over the top, Ben Chaimberg shut down and denied any significant opportunities. Zack Leeds, shaking off his disappointment from the 15’s baseball game, delivered an incredible effort on the left flank, fighting through many hard Tecumseh challenges.  Twenty minutes into the game, Leeds pressed forward to keep the ball in Tecumseh’s half and was fouled, creating a free kick.  It was from this restart that Charlie Scott opportunistically redirected a ball home for the 1-0 Pemi lead.  Later, Hernandez-Webster, working off a set-piece corner kick carefully crafted by Coach Mark Baddeley, volleyed home Scott’s serve for the 2-0 victory.

Any past Pemi fifteen-year-old who has swum his last race at Tecumseh after a long day knows something about this coming-of-age experience on the Tecumseh waterfront.  This year’s fifteen-and-unders arrived at the waterfront feeling proud about their efforts and the result on the soccer pitch, and they channeled those feelings towards their junior companions.  Facing an historically deep and talented team with little prospect of victory, the 15’s put their total big brother energy behind Doc Nick’s wonders.  The tens, who had gone down in defeat in each of the previous contests, needed this boost of support.  The 10’s swim contest was easily one of the best of the day.

The Junior Camp Boys immediately seized control of the meet when Jack Griffiths, Charlie Howe, Grady Burke, and Kevin Miller delivered a first place in the Medley Relay.  It was all Pemi from that point forward, as Finn Lincoln, Peter Dunkel, Whit Courage, Harrison Tillou, Max Blohm ,and Ted Applebaum all delivered points for Pemi.  These boys worked hard all week, and it was impressive to see them deliver an effort and performance when swimming for pride.

Returning the Hat:

With the ring of the Mess Hall bell at Pemi, the dining hall quickly quieted for the anticipated transfer of the hat.  Danny Kerr reminded the participants to review their preparation and performance after the fashion of ski racer Bode Miller, telling them that as long as they felt they had done everything they could to play their best, they should let go of any disappointment over the result.  If they came up short on this checklist, he said, then they should make adjustments and move forward.  Mark Luff, the Tecumseh Program Director and long-time ambassador forn all things Tecumseh-Pemi (he also directs Tecumseh’s G&S), reminded us all of the unique combination of friendship and competition between these two camps.  He declared that the closeness of recent year’s contests had increased the rivalry between the two camps, yet not at the expense of the relationship.

After Danny and Mark spoke, it was my turn to give The Hat back to Tecumseh.

“Over the years, I have asked several Tecumseh campers if they knew the story of The Hat – what actually happened in early August of 1967.  They replied, “Yeah, your Director said he liked George Munger’s hat and Mr. Munger said if you beat us, you could have the hat.”  Well, knowing Tom Reed Sr.’s values and purpose in life and the deep respect George Munger likely had for competition and the work necessary to achieve at the highest levels, I can guarantee you that exchange didn’t happen. You see, back in 1967 Pemi and Tecumseh played home-and-home matches, and when Pemi lost 9-3 on the initial day, the Pemi community was upset with their performance and dedicated their remaining summer to beating Tecumseh – which, after an amazing weeks-long preparation effort, they managed in the second meeting of the year (hyper link to History of the Hat) It was Munger’s deep appreciation for Pemi’s effort that led to the tradition of The Hat.”

“Last year you lost to Pemi, and your camp community made a similar commitment to each other to reverse the result.  Your baseball teams were incredibly prepared, your soccer teams ran through the ball, your tennis players delivered clutch performances in numerous tie-breakers, and your swimmers hit the water with purpose.  In the end, winning the hat represents all of your commitment and journey together. The actual score of the day is a bi-product of hard-work and dedication to each other – and in this spirit of respect for your efforts, Camp Pemi returns this Hat to Camp Tecumseh.”  The Pemi community then rose and delivered the traditional cheer, and both camps filed out for flag lowering and a few more handshakes.

So in the end The Hat was lost, but perhaps more important life lessons were gained in the day’s journey as Pemi had to get off the mat and compete.  Counselors stepped up and delivered high quality coaching and counseling, Pemi athletes learned the importance of commitment in times of adversity, and the boys found opportunities to lead when times were challenging.  All of these learning experiences and the ranges of emotion one experiences on Tecumseh Day make up one of the many great chapters over the course of seven weeks on the shores of Lower Baker.  By the time you have read this newsletter, a group of seniors will have climbed Katahdin or the Presidential Mountain range.  Another group of uppers will have completed the Mahoosucs, and another the Kinsmans. Dozens of boys will have completed their distance swim, taken their first nature occupation, performed at campfire, or finally mastered their part in this year’s G&S, Iolanthe.  (Good seats are still available!)  Life goes on, and we are all a little richer for our annual testing with our ancient rivals. Win or lose.

Charlie Malcolm

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