Monday, August 17, 2015

The Classroom of Youth Sports

The Classroom of Youth Sports

 STA JV boys soccer @ Portsmouth 9-5-14

by Charlie Umland, UVAC Marketing Intern

  Youth sports are a great activity for kids, not just for physical fitness, but also for mental growth. It is important to keep in mind that the benefits of youth sports are the learning opportunities on the path to adulthood, rather than the opportunities of on-field success. As a high school soccer coach, and a life-long athlete, I have been around sports for a long time, and seen all sides of the game. I’ve seen how parents can affect sports for kids, and what sports can teach kids.

     Personally, much of what I have learned on my way to becoming a young adult has come through sports. If handled properly, youth sports can be a fantastic way for kids to develop and learn. Values such as dedication, commitment, teamwork, and respect, are just a few examples of what kids can take away from sports. Another important aspect of sports is failing. Failure is a great learning experience, and sports are one of the few areas of life where failure is prominent. Whether it is an individual disappointment, like striking out, or it is a group failure like a loss, it is important to have these moments. Sports teaches children that things don't always go their way, and these moments can encourage one to improve and avoid future failure and disappointment. I had a hockey coach who would praise us for falling over while we were practicing skating, because it showed we were pushing our limits and trying to improve.

    Parents should have a positive impact on their child’s experiences in sports. As one example of many, I remember telling my parents that I wanted to quit a hockey season a few weeks after it started. They told me that I had made a commitment, and had to stick it out. I never ended up regretting playing a sport season in my life, and I learned the value of standing by a commitment. When you can adopt the mindset that you need to go through with something unpleasant in life, it becomes more enjoyable as you work towards making the most out of a bad situation. In other words, “faking it ‘til you make it.”

    Parents can also have negative impacts on youth sports for their children, and for teams. I have learned what type of parent I don’t want to become through seeing the actions of some parents on the sidelines of games. When I hear parents screaming at officials, or constantly shouting their child’s name during sporting contests, or even yelling “shoot!” regardless of the situation, it makes me realize that we can get too carried away with winning and losing in youth sports. Observing these types of behaviors is a reality check for me as a coach, and a human. It can get to the point where we take the fun out of the game and turn it into something it’s not. That’s not to say that parents are the only ones that can get too carried away and competitive, it happens more frequently with players. Whether it’s playing dirty, or treating the referee or their coach with disrespect, bad behavior is a common part of the game.
    In a coaching class I took at the University of New Hampshire a few years ago, Rainer Martens, the author of our textbook- Successful Coaching, made a case for parents not going to every one of their children’s sporting events, especially at a younger age to make their kids know that sports are not the most important thing in the lives of either the parents, or the kids. While I don’t think that this necessarily has to be a step taken to teach this to kids, I think it brings up a good point that maybe parents do give the wrong impression to their children without trying to. I remember a teammate on a Little League team who got stressed out and thought he couldn’t hit when his dad was there, so his dad would watch from afar. I don’t know whether this was because the father put pressure on his son to perform, or it was a perception that his son had, but either way, that doesn’t sound like a positive situation for a 5th grader in Little League. 

    I am all for winning, and I am a very competitive person when it comes to sports, but as a JV boys soccer coach, I have found that sometimes I get more upset with a loss than the players do. Wins and losses shouldn’t matter in youth sports, but progress, and learning on and off the field should. Kids will remember games that they lost, just like they remember games that they won, but the emotion felt about the game is gone not long after the final whistle, win or lose. After my first season, the team had a mediocre record. Despite this, I heard from parents only positive things about their son’s reaction to the season, and their improvement as players. To me, that was the most rewarding thing at the end of it all, hearing feedback about happy players who felt that they had improved.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Gyrokinesis! Your body will thank you


You may not know what that word means, but when you start taking Gyrokinesis classes your body will thank you.

For more than ten years I’ve had serious back problems, my pain was sufficiently substantial that I sought the advice of four different spine surgeons all of whom suggested that a spinal fusion might help.  These consultations did not increase my confidence that, for me, a spinal fusion would make me feel better and reduce my pain.

Around that time, my wife suggested I try UVAC.  I am not a swimmer, but began to run with a flotation belt in the lap pool. You may have seen me there.  For several years I came to the pool daily sometimes in the morning, sometimes after work. After a while Garrett gave me workouts in the gym. Though I felt better, I still was not as pain free as I wanted to be.

One day last fall as I was leaving the pool, I saw what turned out to be Monica Ha’s Gyrokinesis class taking place in the glass-enclosed room next to the Welcome Desk.  Eight or ten people on small stools were twisting and turning in ways that I was sure I could not do. Physical therapists told me I should not bend my spine in some of the directions these people were turning.

In spite of that advice, I spoke with Monica and decided to try Gyrokinesis. Gyrokinesis, I found out, uses principles found in swimming, dance, yoga, Tai Chi, and gymnastics and the classes emphasize continuous, flowing movements with corresponding breath patterns.

I decided to give it a try. In the beginning I simply did my best to copy whatever movements Monica made.  I found that with Monica’s direction I could make the movements without pain. Over time, I began to develop greater core strength and flexibility. During classes Monica worked with me, and others, explaining and showing me how to arch my back and curl my back.

Soon I noticed that my back was not bothering me whenever I turned over in bed at night. Before starting Gyrokinesis, I could walk for no more than ten minutes before my pain forced me to sit down.  Now, I can take our dog for long walks. I feel stronger, stand straighter, and sleep better.  Friends and family members who haven’t seen me for a while comment that I seem to have grown taller.  I have not felt this good in over ten years.  I’m thrilled.


Monday’s and Tuesday’s at 5:00PM 

I encourage you to try it.   Your body will thank you!

by Carl Yirka

UVAC Member and Gyrokinesis enthusiast

Monday, June 8, 2015

UVAC Goes Solar with Norwich Technologies!


June 2, 2015

Upper Valley Aquatic Center  (UVAC) and Norwich Technologies announced plans to build a 500 kilowatt (AC) solar electricity project in Hartford, Vermont for the benefit of UVAC and its members.

This significant project brings substantial economic development in the Town of Hartford, providing additional jobs and local economic benefits from the rapidly growing solar energy industry.

Feeding into Green Mountain Power Corporation’s electricity distribution network, this Project is projected to save UVAC a significant amount on their annual electricity bill over the 20 year contract period. “This is a terrific way for UVAC to save money on its electricity budget, while adding renewable electricity to the grid” said Richard Synnott, Executive Director of UVAC.

Norwich Technologies has become a leading developer of solar projects in the Upper Valley, with over 2 Megawatts of new capacity currently under development. “We are very excited to be associated with this project”, said Joel Stettenheim, Co-Founder and President of Norwich Technologies. He added that “this array will preserve local farmland for the next generation while providing clean energy for the current one.”

Questions regarding the project can be sent to Norwich Technologies at or by phone at (802) 281-3213 or Upper Valley Aquatic Center UVACSWIM.ORG, or by phone 802-296-2850 ex 103.

Possible Questions and Answers on UVAC Solar Project

1.              Q:  How is the System being funded?
A:   The UVAC Project will be owned by a private party because UVAC, as a non-profit entity, cannot take advantage of the available tax credits. Once those benefits have been realized over the first six years of the Contract, UVAC will have an option to purchase the Project for its remaining life, which would allow us to save even more money.

2.              Q:  How are the Renewable Energy Credits being handled?
A:   Initially, the RECs will be shared equally between UVAC and the developer, Norwich Technologies. The RECs are expected to be sold initially as part of the financing for the project. As a community resource funded primarily by member dues and user fees, we have a duty to our constituents to manage our resources as efficiently as possible. Without selling the RECs, UVAC would not realize all of the savings it can achieve from the Project. At any time, however, UVAC can elect to take all of the RECs from the Project, and always has the right to sell them or retire them. 

3.              Q:  Who will you sell the RECs to?
A:  Most commonly, the RECs are sold to a broker on the public market. However, they can be purchased by anyone. If anyone would like to approach us to buy our RECs with the specific intention of then retiring them, we would be happy to facilitate that.

4.              Q:  Where will the project be built?
A:   Since we cannot generate this much electricity on our land at UVAC,  we will be leasing land just down the road on Route 5 for most of the array. We have consulted with the neighboring landowners and are in the process of public consultation for the project generally. A small array will be on UVAC property to display the technology to our members and guests and as a reminder that we are committed to green technology.

5.              Q:  What is the environmental benefit of the array?
A:   The estimated clean solar electricity generated by the array is 13.9 gigawatt hours (13,890,000 kWh) over the first 20 years.  The estimated avoided C02 emissions over the 20 years is 12.7 million pounds.  This is equivalent to the burning of 1,650 tons of coal, 8,920 barrels of oil or 429,000 gallons of gasoline.

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Benefits of Water Exercise: A Testimonial

Last year I had surgical repair of a “full-tear” rotator cuff injury. But I kept running, three to four miles per day.

Then last December my left knee gave out. Doctor diagnosed “arthritis” and physical therapist diagnosed “Baker's cyst”. Running was over.

But what would I do for aerobic exercise??
My good spouse suggested trying UVAC for some of the low-impact water exercise activities. So even though I have always failed at swimming, I signed up for the 60-days-for-60-dollars trial and began water zumba – where you can stand on the bottom. Soon afterward I added water volleyball – you can wear a ski-belt for boyancy. And when my 60 days were up I took out a regular membership.

The water zumba was pain-free and a terrific work-out using rhythmic dance moves, led by an experienced instructor on the deck. You don't have to even do it “right” because you are up to your shoulders in water – can't be seen! “The main thing is to have fun!” our instructor says almost every session.

The water volleyball is nothing but fun with a terrific group of good-natured players who support each other while furiously whacking six beach balls simultaneously back and forth for a wild series of two-minute workout games. Aerobic exercise indeed!

Thanks to these low-impact aerobics in the water several times a week I feel healthy again with full range of motion. Another recent pay-off came during a visit to our lawyer-daughter in Philadelphia. When she invited old Dad to go indoor rock-climbing with her, I gulped and took a chance. Thanks to UVAC, I got up every beginning route – pain-free.

Thanks, UVAC!!

Robert Spottswood, M.A.
Norwich, Vermont

Upper Valley Aquatic Center Member

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Steamed Baby Artichokes from Gathering Flavors by Dena Testa Bray

Hello All:

Are you looking for something simple and beautiful to make this weekend?

I spied these beautiful baby artichokes at the grocer earlier this week. I was drawn to their colors—rich greens and purples with a hint of gold—and their shape is unique and lovely. So beautiful, I didn’t want to cook them as much as I wanted to admire them. So, I decided to cook them in a way that respects their natural beauty while bringing out their flavors. These Steamed Artichokes with Lemon and Butter are tender and delicious. Steaming them allows them to be kept intact but makes the outer leaves tender and easy to pull off, douse with butter and bite right into. As you peel back each layer, more circles of more tender leaves unfold, leading you to their tender and sweet heart.

Make them for someone you love.


Steamed Baby Artichokes from Gathering Flavors by Dena Testa Bray
Yield: 8 Servings


  • 8 baby artichokes, rinsed and trimmed
  • Sea salt
  • ½ cup butter
  • Juice of one lemon


  1. Place the artichokes in the bottom of a large pan. They should be arranged with the stem down. Add enough water to each artichoke is covered by to about half. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  2. Bring the water to a boil, then lower it to a simmer. Cover and simmer until the artichokes are tender, about 20 minutes. The artichokes are done when the inner leaves can be pulled out easily.
  3. While the artichokes are steaming, melt the butter in a small pan. Add the lemon juice and stir. Add a bit of sea salt, to taste.
  4. When the artichokes are tender, drain the water off. Place one artichoke on each of 8 small serving plates. Drizzle with the melted butter and lemon juice.
  5. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  6. Enjoy.


  1. Cooking times will vary dependent on the size and freshness of your artichokes.
  2. This recipe is written assuming the artichokes will be served as a side dish. For a main course, serve two of the steamed artichokes instead of one. Sprinkle with a bit of your favorite cheese or some chopped eggs.
  3. This recipe was published on Gathering Flavors originally. Click here to read the full post  with additional serving suggestions.

Dena Testa Bray is a UVAC member, blogger and the owner of Dena Testa Bray Web Design Services.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

NeuroKinetic Therapy

NeuroKinetic Therapy

by John Grainger MS, CSCS, UVAC Fitness Program Coordinator

In February Garrett Wilson, Katherine MacPherson, and myself traveled to a NeuroKinetic Therapy training seminar in Attleboro, MA.  NeuroKinetic Therapy (NKT) has been developed over the last 30 years by a massage therapist from California named David Weinstock.   NKT is based on the theory that over time we develop functional and dysfunctional movement patters.  Dysfunction can occur for many reasons: repetitive stress, acute injury, chronic injury, poor posture, scars (surprisingly, a very common one), and even injuries from 15 or more years ago.  

Many times that “tight” muscle that you might feel in your upper back is probably tight because it is working for another muscle around it.  Usually that muscle that isn’t working does a similar function or even an opposing one.  One of the most common dysfunctional patterns is where the pectoralis major is over working for the mid and/or lower trap.
A good example is me: after returning from a trip to Florida, I had an extremely tight and sore medial gastrocnemius.
Katherine performed NKT on me when I returned and found that my posterior tibialis was not being recruited by my brain and my medial gastroc was trying to do all the work.
Once the medial gastroc had been released using a lacrosse ball and the postior tibialis was recruited again, my calf loosened up greatly.  

The biggest difference between NKT, Self-Myofascial Release (e.g. foam rolling), most chiropractic work, massage therapy, and even sometimes physical therapy, is that usually once an overactive muscle is released the inhibited muscle(s) (those that are not working) aren’t activated.  Another thing that is common is too much resistance is used and the wrong muscles are recruited.  This is the dysfunctional movement pattern that we are trying to avoid.  Even though a massage may feel great and when you get off the table you are able to do things (like touch your toes or reach your hand up your back) you couldn’t before, if you don’t activate the muscles that are inhibited the dysfunctional movement pattern will return.  That is the reason why you feel like you need to go to the chiropractor or the massage therapist once a month to get “fixed.” NKT helps change the dysfunction into function so that the chronic pain or discomfort goes away for good with simple exercises.