Hazen-Craftsbury Partnership    Hopes to Create New Opportunities

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HARDWICK/CRAFTSBURY – Partnerships between the athletic programs of Hazen Union and Craftsbury Academy (CA) in soccer, baseball, and softball this past season were successful in trial runs of the schools’ cooperation that will begin in earnest this coming fall and extend over the next three years.

Almost all Wildcat and Charger sports teams at the high school and middle school level will play as one program under the Hazen Union umbrella starting this fall. Exceptions will include varsity softball, where head coach Ashley Gravel successfully rebooted the program at CA six years ago and took on an expanded roll this past spring, forming a Lady Charger team that consisted of athletes from CA, Hazen, and Peoples Academy under the CA logo. CA also intends to continue to field their own cross-country teams in the fall. Their boys’ varsity cross-country program has won the last four Division III state titles under recently retired head coach Mike LeVangie. The Charger’s elite ski programs in the winter sports season will also stay in house and the intent is to continue to grow the CA varsity bowling program that has had success in its first two seasons. The agreement allows flexibility from season to season as participation numbers at both schools fluctuate. The co-op between the two schools had a trial run in both varsity soccer teams, girls’ basketball, softball, and baseball this past year, and Hazen Union athletic director Aaron Hill was pleased with the initial results.

“I thought the first iteration this past year went really well. The co-op is going to give the opportunity to be more flexible to create junior varsity teams for more sports, which will create more opportunities for athletes to develop before competing at the varsity level. We didn’t really have that option this past season as we were transitioning, but that is our goal starting in the fall, and I thought all of the players and coaches did a really nice job adjusting to everything on the fly. I’m really excited about continuing to form this relationship between our two schools at the middle-level starting this season. We’re going to have the opportunity to form multiple teams at the youth level, which is going to give kids so many opportunities to develop, compete, and form relationships with other kids from a different school, and that is huge and exciting!” said Hill.

Changes in coaching this coming fall at Hazen will have longtime girls’ varsity soccer coach Harry Besett replacing Alison Paradee as the boys’ varsity coach. Newly hired CA music teacher and Burlington grad Jay Terrian will take over for Besett. CA has also hired Lisa McCarthy to replace Matt Foster as principal and Stephen Welch will take over Charger athletic director duties for Sarah Hunt starting this month.

“Harry did a great job with our girls’ team the past six years, making the Division IV state title match in 2020, but I think he was ready for a new challenge, and he’ll do a great job with our boys’ program. Jay is a big-time musician with a lot of soccer experience at all levels, both coaching and playing. He kind of fell into our lap when he moved back into the area, he has a wealth of experience in the game, and we’re excited to have him on board,” said Hill.

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