It has been a spectacular girls high school basketball season.
Saturday’s showcase at the Barre Auditorium for the girls state championship games was the perfect snapshot to reflect the entire girls basketball season, All three games were competitive and in our area, West Rutland’s second consecutive state title was as riveting as could be.
The Golden Horde, with an unbeaten season on the line, trailed Blue Mountain entering the fourth quarter and responded like champions during that final eight minutes to pull the game out.
But the most important game in the girls basketball playoffs was the one not played. It was so important because it is bound to have implications in the future.
Mid-Vermont Christian’s elected to forfeit its first-round playoff game and, thus end its season, because the opponent Long Trail School has a transgender player.
The head of the Quechee school Vicky Fogg cited fairness and safety concerns for the Eagles to play against a biologically male player.
News of the forfeit was aired by numerous national news outlets including the TV networks, People magazine and CNN.
What will be the repercussions in Vermont and beyond? Will other school’s girls basketball teams refuse to play against transgender students, citing that it jeopardizes their players’ safety and the fairness of the game?
It will be an issue the Vermont Principals’ Association will grapple with and there are no easy answers.
It’s impossible to know what direction this issue will go.
One thing is for sure, Mid-Vermont’s decision means there is a fork in the road now and the VPA, which has a difficult job, has another controversial issue added to the many others that it faces.
The issue was a subject discussed at one of the tables on Sunday at Castleton University’s football banquet.
One of the people at the table brought forth something that has not been part of most of the discussions of the case. How must the transgender student have felt as all of the talk and controversy swirled around the schools in Dorset and Quechee and even in far off corners of the country?
The transgender athlete is well liked by teammates. That is an easy conclusion to draw just by attending a few of the Mountain Lions’ games.
The athlete is a hard worker, brings skills to the post and is a tenacious rebounder.
Regardless of your stance on the issue, you have to feel for the athlete.
When Castleton University left the North Atlantic Conference for the Little East Conference several years ago, baseball coach Ted Shipley knew that he was in a different world.
His Spartans had won an unprecedented five consecutive NAC championships before they left.
Shipley knew that kind of domination was over. The Little East is one of the strongest NCAA Division III leagues in the nation. Last year, it produced the national champion with Eastern Connecticut doing the honors.
Eastern Connecticut was not even the preseason choice of the league’s coaches to be the conference champion in 2023. The University of Southern Maine earned that distinction.
Southern Maine has not been able to play a game yet after three postponements. Eastern Connecticut is 3-0 and ranked No. 3 nationally behind Birmingham Southern and Salisbury.
The LEC looks to be as strong as ever this year.
“Every team in the league is good,” Shipley said.
That includes the Spartans who have shown promise early in the season.
Little East Conference play for Castleton begins on March 25 in Boston with a doubleheader against UMass Boston.
It could be a fun season.
The Little East is not only strong in baseball. The conference has a team in men’s basketball (Keene State) and in women’s basketball (Rhode Island College) that have made it all the way to the Sweet 16.
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