Unfortunately, a Similar Feeling

by Ken Brown

I’m not going to lie. When I learned of the news of the passing of Jared Cushing last Monday, I was floored. I enjoyed following and interacting with him this past summer as he guided his Green Mountain Wild Babe Ruth team led by Hazen Union’s Andrew Menard and Lyle Rooney to a state championship. I had just talked to Jared the week before about an article I needed his input on and in an instant, he was gone. It was unfortunately a similar feeling I experienced in the pit of my stomach when the Hazen community lost Finn Rooney and Dan Hill.

I wanted to give Andrew and Lyle a hug and tell them it was going to be okay, but that is impossible given where I live. Luckily, we have amazing people like Hazen head baseball coach Spencer Howard and Super Sports Mom Brenda Menard in this community to carry out these acts of love in times like this.

I’ve dealt with a lot of loss in my life as I’m sure many of us have and as I approach the age of 50 I find myself to be much more self reflective in the face of tragedy. It makes me want to go back and tell my 17 year old self to be kinder and more compassionate. I was a chubby underachieving athlete in high school, but just talented enough to make my varsity teams as a freshman. I was picked on by my teammates who were upperclassmen and regrettably I returned the favor when I thought I was “the man” as a junior and senior. I would do it different if I could go back, but you can’t go back, so I can only share what I’ve learned.

Leadership in sports and life isn’t always about your performance, but about how you treat people. I consider it a privilege that the Hardwick, Craftsbury, Twinfield, Cabot, and surrounding communities allow me to cover their student athletes, sons, and daughters every week. They don’t know me and probably never will but, in a way, I feel like I get to know them and so I will offer this unsolicited advice. Try to be cognizant of the power you have to affect another persons day. Lead not only with your work ethic and performance on the field or court, but with your ability to observe, listen, and understand. Before you tear down a younger teammate that you feel doesn’t belong, ask yourself first what that kid might be going through in life outside of school. That kid probably wants to be you someday and you have the power to shape how they might treat people in their lives. Life is an ongoing hard lesson and I am still learning. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Hazen and Blue Mountain communities. Rest in peace Jared Cushing.