Water ski teammates test skills, have fun

Published on Wednesday, September 01, 2010

HOLLAND – In a classic “Cinderella” story, members of the Holland Aqua Riders took first place at the 26th Eastern Region Water-ski Tournament this summer.

Held at the Oxbow Marina in Northampton on July 31 and Aug. 1, the tournament is one of the sport’s largest competitions.

They competed with some of the best teams and skiers, outfitted with the latest in high-tech equipment due to sponsorship, said Aqua Rider Gary E. Naples.

In contrast the Aqua Riders, who have no sponsor, use their personal equipment, some of it dated.

“Competing were some pretty big show hitters,” said Naples. “Some of the skiers performing on these teams are on the U.S. team, work for Sea World, and their teams are heavily funded. For us to win was a true David-and-Goliath story.”

Cousins Jay Drudi and Nick M. Lyman, along with Naples make up the Holland Aqua Riders’ jump team, said Karen B. Drudi, mother of Jay Drudi.

These extreme-sport athletes brought home the trophy with jumps featuring serious style and class.


They performed a pin wheel.

In the third pass, a helicopter, front flip and back flip were simultaneously performed by the team members on the ramp, Naples said.

“This is a high-difficulty maneuver,” Naples said. “It requires the skiers to know exactly what the others are doing because all three of us are on rope the same length, going at tremendous speed and trying to execute the flips simultaneously.”

The tournament was the first time Drudi, of West Springfield, Lyman, of Agawam, and Naples, of Holland, successfully completed the pin wheel, Naples said. Last year they had attempted the maneuver and Lyman and Naples suffered broken wrists.

“Truthfully? I had to be bribed into doing it,” Naples said with a laugh.

The jumping team’s practice had been none-existent the past season due to schedules, the old injuries and the teams’ personal jump needing constant repair, Lyman and Naples said.

“I don’t know how we succeeded. It must have been 70 percent skill and 30 percent luck,” Naples said. “Thankfully, the three of us have been jumping together for almost a decade so we know each other’s moves pretty well.”

“Water skiing is my favorite sport,” Lyman said. “I’ve done it my whole life and this team means a constant attempt to try new moves and perfect skills we already have.

The team’s first pass consisted of a triple helicopter where all three jumpers executed a 360-degree turn off the jump simultaneously, said Karen Drudi. Their second pass consisted of a front flip with one jumper doing a back flip while a third skier cut under the jumpers simultaneously, she said.

“We do this to go out and have fun,” Naples said. “We try and test ourselves and there isn’t any pressure to perform. That and the camaraderie of the event can’t be beat, and next year, we will go out there to have fun. Nothing will change.”

Copyright © 2010 The Republican



Hardwick Community Fair to Celebrate 248th year

Published on Wednesday, August 18, 2010

HARDWICK – The Hardwick Community Fair will be celebrating its 248th year on Aug. 20 and 21.

Hardwick Committee

Featuring crop judging, a lumberjack chain- and hand-saw contest, a tractor show, a frog race for the kids and much more, fair organizers are expecting a delightful and entertaining two-day run this year, according to Emily M. Bancroft, publicity chair.

As always, there will be an emphasis, Bancroft said, on keeping it community oriented.

“I have been a resident all my life and have gone to this fair since I was itty bitty,” she said. “It hasn’t changed too much. We’ve added a few things like cattle, but most importantly, the atmosphere hasn’t changed. It is just a nice small agricultural fair where everyone is welcome to come and have a good time.”

This year the fair is being dedicated to Carl Dewey Sr., said Audrey L. Mazeika, director of administration and fair secretary.

“Carl is a man like no oth- er,” Mazeika said. “For (approximately) the last 50 years Carl has served this community and the fair in a variety of ways. For years he has been our committee chair person for field crops, and his knowledge of the farming and dairy industry has made him the foremost person to go to for advice in the region.”

The committee chair person judges and appoints other judges to examine a variety of crops, Mazeika said. This includes bales of hay, hay silage and corn.

“Carl exemplifies service to the community, and his fair judgment and skills are above reproach,” said Fay Butler, president of the fair committee. “The Hardwick Fair is bragging rights for the year. It is an important community element where pride in ones placing in the agricultural competitions is something to be remembered for years. Carl’s knowledge of the field truly only allows the best to win.”

Due to health reasons Dewey is retiring this year, Butler said.

“Carl is such a hard worker and dedicated to this fair that he even found his own replacement!” Butler said. “His work for the community is why the fair this year is being dedicated to him.”

Emily M. Bancroft

Originating in 1762, the Hardwick Fair is the oldest fair in the United States, Mazeika said. The farming and dairy industry is in the towns’ blood.

In the past 20 years the number of farms in Hardwick has decreased from 19 to about 10, Mazeika said. The agricultural aspect of the fair helps keep the spirit and pride in ones work alive.

“It is so difficult for the local farmers to earn a living compared to the major farming corporations,” Mazeika said. “Somehow, we hope to keep the knowledge and pride alive in our communities by keeping the fair traditional and showing people what we can produce here at home.”

Crafts, cattle and crops are being shown for judging, Bancroft said. Booths will feature a variety of locally produced products, and food will be plentiful.

“We really just want people to come on down and have a good time,” Bancroft said. “That is what our fair is about!”

Copyright © 2010 The Republican


Sturbridge knitters share creativity, fellowship

Published Wednesday, August 11, 2010
STURBRIDGE – Do your Friday nights entail colorful bundles of yarn and countless knitting needles?

Continental knitting.

Well, maybe it should.

Hosting Friday night get-togethers, the Mountain Laurel Yarn Boutique at 440 Main St. bursts with creative people stitching together useful and innovative pieces.

Knitting and crocheting are the time-honored crafts being shared at these every-other-week events, according to Helen M. Duda, the boutique’s owner.

“This time is used to relax, talk and work on our individual projects,” Duda said. “It is an energetic group with many kind hearts. Everyone is willing to share their patterns or a new skill.”

Approximately 12 people attend the Friday night sessions, and they would enjoy having more.

Women make up the majority of the group; however, a couple of men have thrown their knitting needles into the ring as well.

“I grew up watching my mother knit,” said Robert Foster. “Now I’ve been knitting for about a year and a half. I find it relaxing after working all day.”

The crafts provide a portable outlet for amusement and creativity, Duda said. You can take it to an appointment, in the car, it really can go anywhere, she said.

Sandy L. Tremblay

Donna M. Craven travels from Staffordville, Conn., to attend Duda’s Friday night group, she said.

“This group provides a great time, with kind and talented people,” Craven said. “I’ve been knitting for some time now, and finding like-minded people who enjoy it as much as I do is a blessing.”

It is not only the people making these meetings a popular hit, said Michelle S. Foulis. The schedule and lack of required attendance make it all very convenient, she said.

“With a job, children and everything else on my plate, this group gives me a time to run away and relax with some great company that I didn’t even have to cook for!” Foulis said.

Many of the group members work in the nursing and education fields and find knitting and crocheting to be soothing.

“Knitting is therapeutic for a number of people,” Craven said. “I can’t sit still and watch TV, but I can sit still and knit.”

Copyright © 2010 The Republican


Palmer police Benefit from tournament

Rock Jean-Guillaume

Published Wednesday, July 28, 2010


PALMER – The Palmer Police Association’s fifth annual golf tournament teed off on June 25.

Golfers from across Massachusetts came out to support the Palmer Police Department and cheered each other on at the Mill Valley Golf Links in Belchertown.

“We are incredibly grateful, especially in this poor economy, that people are still supportive of the police association,” said Chief Robert P. Frydryk. “The record number of participants and local business support is amazing.”

Approximately $5,000 was raised, he said, enough to cover all scholarships the Palmer Police Association plan to give for the year to students from Pathfinder Regional Vocational Technical and Palmer high schools.

Contributions to the Palmer Little League and the Police Department itself will be made using portions of the $5,000, Frydryk said.

The police association recently purchased handcuff sanitizer for the department. Equipment like this, funded by money that the town does not have in the budget, is appreciated, the chief said.

The community’s help and support in raising money for the police association is appreciated, said acting Sgt. Erin F. Sullivan.

“We are incredibly grateful for everyone’s support,” Sullivan said. “By golfing here today, people are helping us raise money for community programs, such as the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program, local athletics and scholarships.”

Karen A. Lunsford, Bill H. Passy and Matt P. Stenuis

For the first year ever, 126 golfers – a complete 31 foursomes – registered to play, Frydryk said.

Golfers brought their swing and a good attitude to the tournament.

“I came out to support the Police Department and hang out with my friend Wendy,” Rock Jean-Guillaume said with a laugh. “The only reason to be on a golf course is to have fun, and that is what I plan to do here today.”

Frydryk himself was a member of a foursome which turned in an 8 under par score of 64.

“I could never make a living out of (golf), but I enjoy the game,” Frydryk said. “I come out two or three times a week before work, very early. I take the time to clear my head and get a little exercise in.”

The winners of the tournament were a foursome from Kszepka Insurance with 15 under par 57. Paul Kszepka played with his two sons Kyle, 19, and Nicholas, 21. To round out their foursome Mike Boutot joined, said Paul Kszepka.

In addition to the record number of registered golfers, 48 sponsors, most local businesses, sponsored a tee or hole for the tournament.

All fund-raising was done by members of the police association, the department and other helpful community members. “We aren’t a big fan of private fund-raising organizations,” Frydryk said.

Only 28 to 30 percent of the money raised gets returned to the town when private fund-raisers are involved, he said. By raising the money themselves all funds can be returned right back to the community.

“We just want everyone to have a good time, and hope that they continue to support our cause well into the future,” Frydryk said.

Copyright © 2010 The Republican