Allen Takes Over Wildcat Baseball Program

courtesy photo
Shaun Allen, Craftsbury Academy alumnus, will be the new varsity baseball coach at Hazen Union this coming spring, replacing Spencer Howard.

HARDWICK – Craftsbury Academy (CA) alum Shaun Allen will be the new varsity baseball coach at Hazen Union this coming spring, replacing Spencer Howard who stepped away from the program after four successful seasons.

Howard helped put Wildcat baseball back on the map in the state of Vermont during his tenure, guiding Hazen to a 46-24 record and back to the Division III state title game at Centennial Field for the first time since 2007 when he did the same as a player under the late great Dan Hill.

Allen takes over a program that graduated a historic senior class led by Tyler Rivard, Lyle Rooney, Jadon Baker, and James Montgomery, but his hire helps bridge a gap between two schools that have recently signed a three-year agreement to merge their athletic programs. Allen and William Garske led a reboot of the baseball program at CA last spring, playing a full junior varsity schedule for the first time in five years with hopes of earning the nod from the Vermont Principal’s Association (VPA) in 2024 to compete at the varsity level. While Allen admits that taking over the Wildcat program is a very big change in plans, he, along with newly hired A.D. Sarah Hunt, hope that this provides eager student athletes from both schools a stable base to compete at the varsity and junior varsity level.

“I never thought I’d be wearing red instead of blue and taking over the program at Hazen is as big of a surprise to me as anyone, but change is inevitable and accepting it is important. I think that this is a great opportunity for me to help bring the athletes from both schools together. It’s still unclear of the future years to come, but the athletes at Hazen have been very welcoming of the CA athletes so far and the team is really starting to take shape. Hazen graduated a top notch group of athletes from the baseball team last spring and we’ll work hard at producing the next set,” said Allen.

Allen played five seasons for the varsity baseball team at CA, graduating in 1996. The varsity baseball program has been dormant at CA since 2015 and his frustration with that as well as the absence of Tee Ball or Little League in the Craftsbury community for over a decade led him and a group of volunteers to take action four years ago. Allen as well as John Amell and Mark and April Royan created Craftsbury Baseball. Interest within the community as well as surrounding communities exploded with over 80 kids participating in Craftsbury youth baseball programs and leagues last summer alone. Youth, middle school, and junior varsity programs are the key to sustaining interest in the sport according to Allen and he hopes to do just that with the new partnership between the two schools going forward.

“We’re going to have a large varsity baseball team of 17 or more kids from both schools at Hazen this spring. What is missing here is the JV program and we know that. We are encouraging all the kids to stick with it and help us create this VERY important transition slot. Having a JV program is the key to a successful varsity program as it allows the younger players to continue to develop instead of riding the pine while watching older kids play. With a group this large we will be able to create scrimmages which will be beneficial, but the real pressure scenarios that live action games create can’t be fully duplicated. I have high hopes for this year and years to come as we work to develop young talent for the future,” said Allen.

Allen already has his pitchers and catchers working in the gym as they prepare for their season opener on April 9 at BFA-Fairfax.

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