New Faces on the Sidelines this Winter for Craftsbury Academy

by Ken Brown

CRAFTSBURY – The Craftsbury Academy (CA) girls’ and boys’ varsity basketball teams will have new head coaches on the sidelines when the season tips-off in December. 

The girls’ varsity basketball program at CA was resurrected last season after a three-year hiatus under the leadership of first year athletic director Gabriela Silva. Silva also served as the head coach during the pandemic-shortened season, assisted by Mariah LeVangie. LeVangie will take over head coaching duties this season, with Silva assisting when she can. CA alum and 1,000-point career scorer Janet Bohannon will also assist with varsity coaching, as well as coaching the middle school program. Eighth grader Ella Gillespie led the Lady Chargers in scoring last season and, with growing interest in the program and players returning with varsity experience, the arrow on the Lady Charger rebuild is pointing up.

“Mariah did a great job last season. I’m excited to see her develop this team as a head coach, with her ability to teach the game one-on-one with the girls. Janet was a great player here and she is a huge addition to the program. We have a talented group of athletic girls who are still young, but they led the charge in bringing this program back to the varsity level last season and they are excited to keep building it. We are excited for the future and can’t wait for the season to start,” said Silva.

Sean Ryan takes over head coaching duties for the boys’ program after Tyler Gillespie stepped down after one season. Ryan supervises, teaches, and councils in the Montpelier private school system and also has an extensive background in coaching and officiating. The Chargers have struggled with participation numbers the last few seasons, but Silva likes what she’s seen so far in early sign ups for the boys’ varsity team.

“Sean really stood out amongst our final candidates for the position and we’re super excited to watch him continue to develop the boys’ program. He has a lot of experience in various aspects of the game and has a great track record in teaching and working closely with kids. Early sign-ups have been really encouraging so far and we will get a couple of seniors back in Jas Zendik and Blair Locke who return to CA for their final season. We are excited for the future of both of these programs, and I just think it’s great that we are able to give the kids an opportunity to play and compete,” said Silva.

Fans will return to gymnasiums around the state this winter, but masks will still be required for all fans, coaches, officials, and players. The Vermont Principal’s Association has also put out a statement to administrators to promote sportsmanship before high school events after several instances of unsportsmanlike conduct took place in Vermont high school soccer this past fall that included various forms of hate speech between players and fans. 

“We will be taking all the appropriate measures to mask and social distance to be able to bring the fans back to our gymnasium. We will also separate the home and away crowds like we did during our fall season. I’m very lucky to have an amazing team around me who helps in keeping the environment as safe as possible. Our hope is to have full capacity crowds and we’ll monitor things as the winter goes on and change and adjust as the situation does. We are excited for Mariah and Sean to lead our teams from a coaching and teaching standpoint, but they also bring an incredible amount of positivity into the program that we were seeking. We want our kids to be competitive and have fun, but also be respectful towards the sportsmanship side of high school athletics that is so important,” said Silva.

Practices will tip-off for Craftsbury Academy on November 29.