LACONIA –I had a chance to speak recently to Scott Crowder. You’ll recognize him from the annual Pond Hockey Classic on Meredith Bay every winter. Although his name is forever associated with that event, we discussed something incredibly exciting for the Lakes Region.

“We just launched the Lakes Region Sports Coalition to bring together sport industry stakeholders, business leaders and tourism professionals who are in support of the development of a sports complex at the former State School property in Laconia.”  This is not just an idea at this point. The Lakeshore Redevelopment Commission is moving forward with feasibility studies and they have already contacted an industry leading sports facility agency to conduct  an economic analysis. 

Back a few years ago on my Lakes Region Voice of Sports show on WEMJ we discussed this very idea with Bob Giroux and the guys with Lakes Region Flag Football. Scott mentioned that he had been in contact with that group and many others. Another thought that went through my head as I spoke with him was how our spring teams struggled with outdoor time preparing for the season due to late snowstorms this year.  I have always maintained that something like this would be more than successful in Laconia. 

How did this idea come to him?  “Over the years I’ve traveled the country, gone to many events, sports facilities and complexes, worked in the sports management field and I actually sit on the Lakes Region Tourism Board.  So all of these things kind of came together and I have just been following what was happening with that property.”  I asked him how it came to the commission’s attention.  “Governor Sununu commissioned the Lakeshore Redevelopment Commission to find a development that would really benefit the local community.  A study was done to find the best use and it came back with three options, with one being a sports complex.”  Scott said this could become a world-class, mixed-use, multi-sport, indoor-outdoor sports complex that could be used year round.  The location of this proposed campus is up in the air and will be worked out through the process.  When asked if other things would be considered within the project such as entertainment, he said his group is open to any viable ideas that work within the sports complex model. “There are so many opportunities and so many ways to leverage this to make it a viable and valuable asset to the Lakes Region and the state of New Hampshire.  I don’t want to say the sky’s the limit, but it’s pretty darn close!”

What’s the next step?  “Our goal is to pull together all of the stakeholders and discuss the concept and let the commission know why we think it’s a good idea, why it’s justified and to make sure we get a fair look in the master planning process. We’re getting sports people, business leaders and tourism professionals who are in support of this concept to further research it together and see what it will look like.”  His group has created a Facebook page for this Lakes Region Sports Coalition as well as a website – www.sportnh.com/lakes-region-sports-coalition – to share their concept and generate support.  The Lakeshore Redevelopment Commission is meeting again on July 30 and he sounds very optimistic.  “So our hope is to have generated enough support to ensure the further research of this proposed scenario.”  They have over 200 signatures to their petition and it’s growing.

For the full interview with Scott, listen to WEMJ’s Lakes Region Voice of Sports at 9am Saturday and Sunday.  I also will investigate further and have future reports here in the Sun.  It’s a very exciting time for Laconia and this property that needs to be developed.

NOR’EASTER SOFTBALL:

            All Nor’Easter teams were in action this past weekend in Bow for the Turn 2 Tournament and did well. Early pool play saw the 14U squad open up with a strong 11-2 win over the Comets -Stephen team. Lilly Simpson pitched for the win allowing 3 hits, 0 walks and 10 strikeouts. Becca Fleming smacked a couple of hits in the win.  Game 2 saw Morgan Hall holding the Cape Cod Chaos in check allowing just 2 hits, 2 walks and striking out 7 in the 9-2 win.  Gilford’s Kim Daighnault was 2-3.  The Nor’easters came down to earth in game three as the Salem NH Blue Devils kept the girls off balance and quieted the bats for a 5-1 defeat. 

The girls got back on track in the first elimination game on Sunday blowing by the Hurricanes 13-0 in 4 innings. Simpson again was stellar in the circle, allowing only 1 hit.  She also went 2-2 at the plate and Becca Fleming saw her average jump with a 3-3 day. Kelley Allen ripped a double and triple while Gwen O'Keefe was 2-2.  A little revenge against the Salem Blue Devils came in the quarterfinals. Morgan Hall allowed 1 hit surrendered 2 walks and 1 K. Kara Stephens was 1-2 with a double, Courtney Turpin went 2-3 and Norah Dunleavy collected a hit and 2 walks in the win.  The weekend ended against a very strong Comets/Riviera team. Coach Bill Clary said it was a very long game.  “In the 4th inning we had to endure a 3-hour delay for thunder.”  During semifinal games there is no time limit and the games must be a complete 7 innings. “The girls played well against a team with only 1 loss all season.”  Lilly Simpson took the loss and was relieved by Kelley Allen who gave 3 strong innings of relief. Morgan Hall came in to pitch the last inning. Allen and Hall kept the Comets from inflicting any more damage but the girls just couldn't produce timely hits. “Sierra Halligan hit the ball hard all weekend and had a triple which lead to the only run of the day in this game” according to Clary.  Norah Dunleavy was 1-2 with a double in the 6-1 loss.  All in all a solid performance for the 14U team.  “Girls played well all weekend, almost error free. Defense wins championships but you need to score 1 run more than the other team.  Onto Hudson this weekend.”

The 18U team put up a good fight in Bow and made it to Sunday’s elimination round.  Game one against a very tough Comet Blue squad found the ladies down late when Liz Fleming drew a crucial walk to load the bases.  Carly Catty stepped up and blasted a grand slam for the lead and eventual 10-4 win. Catty was 2-3 with 4 RBI, Jill Lachapelle went 2-4 with 2 RBI Meeka Boulduc and Emily Harris each collected a pair of hits. In game 2 against the Rochester Slammers Catty again assaulted the fences with a double and single, Hope Duval got into the act with a two bagger and single while Boulduc, Harris and Lachapelle each had hits, runs scored and RBIs in the 6-5 win. A strong Hurricanes Wise team in game 3 gave the Nor’Easters their only pool blemish with a 2-2 tie in 7 innings. Coach Rob Boulduc said the girls were solid.  “Emily Harris Pitched a great game giving up only 3 hits and 5 k's, Meeka went 2-3 with an RBI and Jill put us up in the first with a solid drive.  The girls played great defense too.”  Sunday came and it seemed like the Nor’Easters extended their slumber with some quite bats and no runs through 4 innings against the Hurricanes. But the alarm went off and alive came the offense in the 5th inning according to Boulduc. “Down 2-0 and with 2 outs Liz Fleming hit a single to start, stole second base and Carly Catty hit her in with a single. With the bases loaded, Jill Lachepelle hit a grand slam to put us ahead.”  The Hurricanes came back and stole a 7-5 win, ending the weekend for the Nor’Easters.  Catty again was great with a 2-4 game, Harris, Bolduc and Fleming each had a hit while Lachapelle had 4 RBI in a single swing!

Lakes Region Summer League Basketball –

It may have been the heat, the competition or just a plain ol’ Gilford-Laconia rivalry, but the two school faced each other in summer league action and it had a regular season feel to it. The stands were unusually filled with spectators and the up and down action was fast and furious.  It also got a little chippy according to Coach Steve McDonough.  “I don’t think Greg (Madore, Gilford Coach) or I like to see that.  I think we would have liked to have seen our kids handle things differently.”  Despite the chippy nature, the game was great.  For the first time this summer the Golden Eagles had a full complement of players to go with regular contributor Greg Madore and that did not go unnoticed by McDonough.  “They have been on the wrong side of some lopsided scores this summer but when they have everyone they are a very good team.”  Madore and Aidrian Seravo played well and Corey Westin made some amazing passes as the expectations grow for him and his team.  Laconia was led by some younger JV players from last year, including Caiden Perry at the point, as he joins the rotation of guards on the varisty squad.  Carter Greenwood and Joey Lennon made some big plays in their minutes while Ryan Chandler had a great game and made a nice feed to Ryan Chaisson for the game winning 3 with a couple of seconds left for the 52-49 Laconia win.

Inter-Lakes snuck past Belmont 51-48, with Eli Swanson and Eli Dupigny standing out for the Lakers while Aiden Rupp and Nate Sottak continued to impress for the Red Raiders. Winnisquam surprised Hopkinton 51-44 with regulars Phil Nichols and Kyle Mann standing out.  Coach McDonough reported that it was good to see an old summer leaguer return and contribute. “Adam McCloud came back and coached the Bears and it’s great to see a kid that played every summer here that he played in high school give back and fill in for Coach Dame.  He’s like a mini Coach Dame on the sideline and it’s great to see.” 

Week 6 is set for Monday with the playoffs the following week.  Should be a fun finish to the season.  Monday night games start at 5 p.m. at LHS. 

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