Many great series come in trilogies: The Godfather, Back to the Future, The Matrix.
It's a high standard to meet, but the Third Annual Vealies are aiming high. As you may remember, the Vealies are presented annually to those people and teams that made high school sports in the Copper Country fun to cover this year.
It is a prestigious honor, but once again, the awards are intangible. No shiny medals or big trophies here, but all Vealie winners are reminded that they can collect a hearty handshake and an attaboy (or girl) at the Daily Mining Gazette offices in Houghton between 9 a.m. and noon on weekdays.
High Comedy Moment of the Year
I take a lot of weird photos. Most of the weirdest end up getting deleted right away. But one that ended up being in demand was taken during a timeout of a Chassell-Ontonagon boys' basketball game. The referee asked me to take a photo posed with the person in the Chassell Panther outfit. That person popped his/her head right off, everyone smiled, and it was back on the floor for both mascot and ref. I won't blow anyone's cover, but we'll say that they were related - and that photo is unrelated to any I've taken this season.
Unsung Heroes of the Year
The scene: Running late for a Houghton-Hancock hockey game at Houghton County Arena, I arrive to find that parking is hard to find. Attempting a shortcut, I park on a downhill near the Zamboni door and tight against a snowbank. Well, actually, I basically parked in the snowbank. (Hey, it was the last week of the regular season - I was down to my last 13 brain cells.) Despite going out during both intermissions to shovel, I was going exactly nowhere. That was, until after the game, when several members of the Houghton hockey team: including but not limited to: Connor Hannon, Austin Erva, Ray Brice and coach Corey Markham pushed this reporter over the corner of the bank and on my way. Thanks, guys.
Quote of the Year
"I'm a tank." - Tom Dunstan, Dollar Bay freshman
Tom comes from a long line of loquacious Dollar Bay Dunstans, starting with father (and DB track coach) Steve and extending through 2009 Vealie award winner (High Comedy Moment of the Year) Jeff. At the 45-degree Houghton County track meet in Lake Linden this May, an unfunny afternoon if
there ever was one, Tommy comes up and starts sharing his secrets for cutting through the wind to me interview-style before I could even ask the questions. If you know Tom, his description above might not be entirely accurate yet. However, it's nice sometimes when the interviews come to you, especially at a track meet.
Game of the Year
Unfortunately for me, some of the best games this year (like the Chassell-Baraga double-overtime district thriller, Hancock's comeback from 5-1 down to beat Houghton or any of L'Anse's three overtime football losses) were assigned to other writers, making them ineligible for this category. And though I had a double-overtime and an overtime game during basketball season this year, my favorite was the Jan. 4 Houghton at Chassell game won by Taylor Dillinger's lay-up at the buzzer. Houghton trailed by 10 in the first half, but pulled even for a stretch drive with six lead changes and five ties.
Team of the Year
There are a lot of banners in Calumet Colosseum, and there are a few more to come. But even by their lofty standards, this was an impressive year in Calumet. A clean sweep of games against local teams, a trip to the state championship game and the state's co-Mr. Hockey as a junior. They were packing them in all season at the Colosseum, and for good reason. This was a team worth watching.
Brandon?Veale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.