As promised, this week’s newsletter comes from Charlie Malcolm, Pemi’s Director of Athletics for decades. No one is better positioned than he to give you an account of our annual battle with Camp Tecumseh, our avid arch rivals ever since the opening years of camp. For those who have experienced it, our longtime rivalry is as spirited and intense as any between Harvard and Yale or Ohio State and Michigan. It is also marked by the highest level of sportsmanship, something of which both they and we are especially proud. Now, with no further ado, here’s Charlie.
Introduction: The Challenge
In all my years as Athletic Director of Camp Pemi, I can’t remember an earlier start to mess hall cheers directed at lifting the community for our upcoming contest with Tecumseh. In the very first week of camp, the seniors started chanting the number of days left to Tecumseh Day. It felt a little odd, given half of the boys chanting were first half campers. With each week, the spontaneous cheers grew a little louder. After victories over Camp Moosilauke and Kingswood, our local rivals and friends in the Baker Valley, the cheers grew louder yet, and more spontaneous. At the core of this vocal group are our fifteen-year-olds who have been on the shores of Lower Baker for six or seven years, many remembering the euphoria of defeating Tecumseh in 2012 and desperately wanting to finish their Pemi career with an historic victory.
Taking on Tecumseh, a significantly larger camp (220 enrolled there to our 170) driven almost exclusively by athletic competition, Pemi has won “The Hat” five times in the last five decades (1967, 1970, 1983, 1998, and 2012). We’ve tied a few days and have had some bitterly close defeats over the years, but our friends from Lake Winnipausake have good reason to enter these contests with an air of confidence. Their teams tend to be a little deeper, and their camp’s unyielding commitment to sports prepares kids to grind out close matches with consistently commendable sportsmanship.
As for your boys from Pemigewassett, it takes a special blend of talent, tenacity, and moxie to win a majority of the twenty events and take home the bronze “Hat” that is bequeathed to the camp with the most wins. With five age groups competing in baseball, soccer, swimming, and tennis, the day is a challenging endeavor filled with essential lessons that serve our boys well as they define and shape their character through their experiences and actions.
With the arrival of our second-session campers, the Pemi community started to shape its respective teams for the upcoming contests. Starting every season on Monday of Week 5, the teams practice during our daily occupation schedule. This year coaches and campers endured some tropical rainforest weather as the camp and lake received some much needed water. On Friday last, we woke up at 6:20 AM as our Seniors lined the Intermediate Hill, blasted music, led morning exercises, and finished with a communal polar bear at the Senior beach. After a quick breakfast, the Eleven’s, Twelve’s, and Thirteen’s departed for Camp Tecumseh while the Ten- and Fifteen-and-unders waited for the arrival of Tecumseh at Pemi
Morning at Pemi
The day kicked off at Pemi with two outstanding contests. The Ten-and-under baseball team scored three runs in the first inning and held a 3-1 lead heading into the last stanza. Paul “Bagels” Schwaegler pitched a gem, striking out seven batters in three-plus innings of work. Unfortunately, Tecumseh rallied in the last inning and scored six runs with aggressive base running, timely hitting, and a few Pemi errors. This was a young Pemi team featuring three eight-year-olds from Junior One (Noah Littman, Clayton Johnson, and Wyatt Dolinsky) in the starting line-up, suggesting this team has a bright future. While the Tens battled on the diamond, the Fifteens locked into a very competitive tennis match. Pemi eventually lost another close contest 4-3, but anyone who watched the doubles team of Andrew Roth and Will Ackerman battle their equally impressive Tecumseh partners witnessed one of the best doubles matches of the day. After dropping the first set 6-4, our boys made some tactical adjustments as Roth lobbed the ball a little deeper and Ackerman moved more centrally and aggressively eliminated dangerous lanes. The boys eventually forced a tiebreaker after tying the second set 6-6, and then forced a super tiebreaker after winning the first tiebreaker 7-5. In the super tiebreaker, Ackerman and Roth dominated, delivering a well deserved 10-4 win. The sportsmanship and mutual respect of all four participants made for a great match and set the tone for the day.
The Fifteens would have to shake off their disappointment losing that close tennis match and take on a very talented Tecumseh baseball team with a polished high school pitcher on the mound. Unfortunately, our team fell 2-0. Nevertheless, Pemi received a courageous effort on the mound by Charlie Bell and great leadership from Jamie Acocella behind the plate. Kevin Miller made a nice catch in center field, and Marshall Neilsen delivered Pemi’s best hit of the day, but it wasn’t enough to push Pemi to a much-needed victory at home. As with the Ten’s baseball team, the core of this fifteens’s team is made up of fourteen-year-olds who will be returning next summer to avenge their loss. As for the Ten’s soccer team, they fought gallantly against a very strong Tecumseh squad. The score was knotted at 0-0 until Tecumseh took the lead with five minutes to go in the first half. Bagels Schwaegler had nearly pushed Pemi ahead when his long chip from midfield was parried off the crossbar by the agile Tecumseh goalie. Jake Landry anchored the Pemi defense and kept Tecumseh’s dangerous players at bay while Robbie Judd made dangerous runs on the attack and relentlessly pressed the ball all over midfield. Unfortunately, Pemi’s lack of depth eventually caught up to them and they conceded five second-half goals before a thunder clap delivered some mercy, ending the match 6-0 for Tecumseh.
Morning at Tecumseh
While Pemi found themselves down 4-0 at home, our Eleven’s, Twelve’s, and Thirteen’s got off of the bus and immediately put Tecumseh on their heels. Our Elevens consist of only twenty-five campers to build four teams: ten boys need to play tennis, fifteen for soccer, nine for baseball, and ten to swim. Historically, this age group has struggled against Tecumseh because we just don’t quite have the numbers to create the depth and experience to beat a formidable opponent. Internal prognosticators and Las Vegas were predicting a tough day for this age group, however, none of us fully understood the character and strength of the group that is split between Lower Lowers and the Junior Camp. The magic started with Eleven’s tennis where two athletes found themselves down in their respective matches and Tecumseh looked like they had three matches well under control and just needed one more to win. First, Oliver Phillips came back from 5-2 deficit in an eight-game set and proceed to win the next six straight games to prevail 8-5. Sam Young was down 3-0 and worked his match back to 7-7, then delivering an inspiring and clutch tiebreaker 7-1 to push Pemi to their first victory of the day, 4-3.
According to Tecumseh, the Twelve’s are their deepest and most athletic age group, and they began the day with soccer. Their Pemi counterparts wisely chose to come out in a defensive shape and spring counter attacks wide on the flanks. Charlie Orbin and Jacob Kunkel anchored the defense in front of goalie Alex Rolfe. Rolfe was outstanding, making critical saves throughout the match to keep Pemi in striking range. Nate Broll worked tirelessly at midfield as Pemi held Tecumseh’s best team to two goals. When news arrived at Pemi of the 2-0 Tecumseh victory, a Tecumseh coach commented, “Wow, you must have a great soccer team. That Tecumseh team is easily our best team in camp.”
Down at Tecumseh’s impressive waterfront, the Thirteen’s swim team also delivered an inspiring effort in their swim meet. Coach Ken Moore’s mermen unleashed a scintillating performance in the individual events, as they delivered a series of first and second place finishes. Ben Herdeg and Andreas Geffert finished 1-2 in the breast, John Kingdon and Dexter Wells the same in the butterfly, and Will Sewell and Finn Wilkins ditto in the freestyle. Not finishing in the top three but equally impressive was Lucas Gales, who knocked twenty-nine seconds from his freestyle time. Well done Lucas! At the wrong end of a 28-14 tally heading into the two relays, Tecumseh delivered an incredible comeback as they snatched a first and second place finish in both the medley and free relays to leave the meet at a 30-30 tie. The Thirteen’s would have to shake off their resulting disappointment and go up to the soccer pitch and play a talented Tecumseh team, but part of the magic of Tecumseh Day is watching how the athletes and coaches deal with large momentum swings, as each age group must reset its emotional energy and focus for the next challenging event.
The Eleven’s carried their momentum to the baseball field, and Sam Young stepped on the rubber and delivered one of the most dominant pitching performances in Pemi baseball history. He recorded 17 of his team’s 18 outs, striking out fourteen batters to push Pemi to a dominating 10-1 victory. Giacomo Turco, a former Tecumseh camper who took a fair amount of ribbing for switching camps, delivered a 4-4 effort at the plate, driving in six runs to pace Pemi to an impressive win.
The Thirteen’s quashed their disappointment after tying the swim meet and garnered the strength and perseverance to play an incredible soccer match on Tecumseh’s imposing Grant Field. Pemi found themselves down 1-0 on a deflected shot taken from a poor angle. Six minutes later, Pemi’s Daniel Rudolph lofted a shot that slipped through the tips of the Tecumseh goalie’s fingers and into the back of the net. Tecumseh responded with a scrappy corner kick goal just before the end of the half. With three minutes to play and Tecumseh still holding a majority of the possession, Pemi scrapped and hustled their way to create opportunities. Aidan Chiang, who provided Pemi with box-to-box pressure, launched a shot with the outside of his foot. The Tecumseh keeper made the initial save, but the hustling Will Sewell raced in and pushed the rebound past the scrambling net-minder to tie the game 2-2. It is this type of perseverance and competitive spirit that is also the hallmark of the day.
The Twelve’s also rebounded from their challenging 2-0 loss in soccer to deliver a dominating 7-0 victory in tennis. The four singles players of Ryder McCoy-Hansen, Luke Brown, Chris O’Connor, and Nate Broll made quick work of their Tecumseh counterparts. The doubles team of Charlie Orben/Brady Waldron ran their opponents all over the court while the pairings of Fischer Burke/ Wim Nook and Alex Rolfe/Logan McManus methodically seized control of their respective matches and finished the morning at Tecumseh on a powerful note. The Eleven’s, Twelve’s, and Thirteen’s went 3-1-2 in their six matches to keep Pemi’s overall chances alive heading into the lunch break.
Friday Afternoon Events
The Ten- and Fifteen-and-unders began their contests under increasingly threatening skies. After four or five games in tennis and 20 minutes of scoreless soccer in the 15’s soccer soccer match, the boys were cleared from the field and the games were postponed until Sunday. At Tecumseh, the weather held long enough for the Eleven’s, Twelve’s and Thirteen’s to complete the first events of the afternoon. The Eleven’s soccer team ran into a formidable opponent determined to win their first event. The team held strong and were only down 1-0 at halftime, but the depth and speed of Tecumseh eventually was too much and the team fell 6-1 in the second half. The 12’s baseball team received great pitching from Fischer Burke, however, a porous defense put the team down five runs. In the top of the 4th inning Pemi was squaring up on the ball and cut the lead to 5-2. Wim Nook sparked the rally with a base hit. Unfortunately, a distant thunder clap ended Pemi’s comeback and the remainder of the game was cancelled when Pemi clearly had the momentum. Thirteen’s Tennis fell 5-2 to a talented Tecumseh team with Owen Wyman and Jonah Reay winning for Pemi. With the thunderstorms settling in around Tecumseh, the camps would need to complete Eleven’s and Twelve’s swimming, and Thirteen’s baseball.
After parent’s visiting day at Pemi on Saturday, the boys had an early lunch on Sunday and restarted their competition with Tecumseh. The locations were changed for the different age groups to avoid having the same kids ride on the bus for second day.
The Ten’s and Fifteen’s traveled to Tecumseh to finish their soccer and tennis match, followed by their swim meet. The Fifteen’s soccer match started with a combined 50 minutes of scoreless soccer. Both teams generated a handful of quality chances and competed aggressively. The defense led by Will Ackerman, Luca Tschanz, Kevin Miller and Timmy Somp held strong in front of goalie Gordon Robbins. Mac Hadden and Luca McAdams battled Tecumseh for the middle of the pitch. Tecumseh held a little more of the play, but Pemi countered with dangerous counter attacks that generated critical corner kicks and throw-ins. With eight minutes to play Tecumseh sent a corner kick into the Pemi box and the eventual scrum and failure of Pemi to clear the ball resulted in a scrappy, opportunistic goal. The Fifteen’s fought hard to the end, but could not find the equalizer and suffered a 1-0 loss.
The Ten’s tennis team was swept by a deep Tecumseh tennis team 7-0 so both teams slowly walked down to the waterfront for the final swim meets of the day. One of the important and more meaningful aspects of the Tecumseh Day is the pairing of our Ten’s and Fifteen’s. Both age groups needed to dig a little deeper for the last event of the day. The Ten’s, consisting of only eight swimmers, swam their hearts out and were only down four points heading into the final relays. Pemi received commendable efforts from Ben Kriegsman who won the backstroke, Nick Vitale first place finish in the freestyle, and a second place finish by James Cullen. The Medley Relay team of Kriegsman, Vitale, Henry Radin, and Cullen delivered a critical first place to keep the meet close. Unfortunately, Tecumseh’s depth was too much as they won the meet on the final freestyle relay leaving the final score 35-23 for Tecumseh.
The Fifteens having lost close matches in tennis, baseball, and soccer needed to reach a little deeper and finish strong. As they left the soccer pitch they knew the Ten-and unders would look for their leadership. The Fifteen’s swimmers received an outstanding coaching effort from Charlotte Jones who began training this team the first week of camp. From the opening whistle it was all Pemi as they dominated the individual events. Mitchell Chin and Simon Taylor went 1st and 2nd in the backstroke, Nick Ridgeway and Matt McDonough 1st and 2nd in the butterfly, and a 1st and 2nd in the breast by Thomas Nielson and Max Blohm, and first place finish by George Fauver in the freestyle. Fauver went on to lead his Medley Relay team with Mitchell Chin, Thomas Nielson, and Nick Ridgeway to a first place. In the final relay of the day, with Pemi well in the lead, the free relay team of Fauver, Eli Brennan, Nick Ridgeway, and Mitchell Chin finished the meet with an emphatic 43-17 victory that lifted the spirits of everyone who traveled to Tecumseh. It was a great finish for an age group that provided excellent leadership in our preparation for Tecumseh Day, but it was also a clear statement of the incredible impact a dedicated coach can have on a group of young athletes.
At Pemi, the Eleven’s and Twelve’s swim teams finished their respective meets with grit and determination. The Eleven’s were swimming for their third victory of the day while the Twelve’s entered the meet 1-2. A deep Tecumseh Twelve’s swim team made quick work of Pemi and rolled to an impressive 49-11 win. Pemi Eleven’s, an age group that had already delivered a gutsy win in tennis and a dominant victory in baseball, went out and won every race of the meet. In the individual races Pemi received first places from first time swimmer Bauer Brown in backstroke, Boone Snyder in the breaststroke, Ben Cavanaugh in the butterfly, and Hayden Davis in the freestyle. Lucas Vitale swam against five Tecumseh challengers in the Individual Medley and delivered an impressive first place. Not surprisingly, the Pemi Eleven’s medley relay team of Vitale, Snyder, Davies, and Davis won as did free relay team of Davies, Cavanaugh, Brown, and Vitale. With the 37-23 victory in swimming, the 11’s finished 3-1 on Tecumseh Day, an incredible effort for 25 campers.
The last event of the day to finish was the Thirteen’s baseball game and those fortunate to watch this game thought it was likely the best contest of the “day.” Tecumseh jumped out to 3-0 lead on two singles, a catcher’s interference, and some aggressive base running. Pemi responded with a run in the bottom of the first as Jonah Reay got the offense going with a base hit, stolen base, and some contact hitting. Oliver Giraud locked into a pitchers’ duel with Tecumseh and bought the team critical time to get back in the game. With two outs, and the game tying run on third base, a swinging bunt led to the Tecumseh catcher racing back to home and diving to tag the Pemi runner to end the game, 4-3 Tecumseh. In many respects it was a fitting end to the 2018 Tecumseh Day. The final score was 13-5-2 in Tecumseh’s favor. However, there were plenty of opportunities at all different age groups to win close matches in Pemi’s favor. Our boys competed , experienced some adversity, learned about perseverance, celebrated some victories, and felt the disappointment of a defeat. Many thanks to our Tecumseh friends for their wonderful blend of competitive spirit and sportsmanship. We look forward to Tecumseh Day 2019!
~ Charlie Malcolm