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Images from the video the Hoosac Valley girls basketball team created for Facebook this week.

Hoosac Valley Girls Promote Social Distancing, Support for Frontline Workers in Video

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — The two-time state champion Hoosac Valley girls basketball team is sending a dual message with the video it created for social media this month.
Like a lot of basketball teams, the Hurricanes have caught the craze of posting a video montage of players who cannot gather in one place but can virtually unite as a ball is passed from outside the frame to each team member and then relayed to the next, who catches and passes in their own backyard or driveway.
The videos are a fun take on the concepts of social distancing and staying connected during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hoosac Valley coach Ron Wojcik decided to put a different spin on things.
"I started talking to my wife, and we said not only social distancing, but we could also do a thank you for the medical personnel, the first-responders, all those who are out there working right now," Wojcik said. 
"We wanted to get a police officer and a firefighter and an EMT involved."
The resulting four-minute video includes some additions to the roster of the 2020 Massachusetts Division 3 co-State Champions: Windsor firefighter Charlie Riley, Adams Police Officer Nick Dabrowski and Jenn Gale, a 2014 Hoosac Valley graduate, former basketball standout, current assistant coach and Emergency Department nurse at Berkshire Medical Center.
The video can't be embedded but it can be seen here on Facebook.
Wojcik said he got the idea after seeing a video featuring another Hurricane alumna, Kailynne Frederick, who participated in a similar project with her teammates on the Norwich University women's basketball team.
"We contacted the captains and coaches and everybody was excited about it," Wojcik said. "The captains let the players know what to do and the set up. The basic rules were catching a pass from the right and throwing to the left."
Sometimes, that was tricky. In Wojcik's own case, he had to take a "pass" off the low roof of his garage while his wife handled the filming.
And some of the players got extra creative in their vignettes.
"Riley [Robinson] didn't tell me what she was doing," Wojcik said. "She took 25 charges on the year, so [on the video] she took a charge from her sister.
"Abigail Hugger said, 'You know how you get on me for not catching the ball or babbling it … ."
So Hugger is the only player to not actually touch the ball in the video, instead reaching for it as it sails over her head and then turning to the camera and shrugging.
"It was funny what the kids did," Wojcik said.
The Hurricanes never had a chance to play for a second straight outright state crown when games were suspended and schools closed just after their state semi-final win. Because of the closure of the high school and social distancing rules, most of the kids have not had a chance to see one another in nearly a month after more than three months of intense, daily connection as members of a varsity team.
In addition to promoting social distancing and thanking the front-line workers battling the pandemic, the video served another purpose: helping the Hurricanes reconnect.
"All of them are talking about it," Wojcik said of the video, which was shared on Facebook 41 times in the first five hours after its posting. "Everyone is going stir crazy trying to do different things.
"I think it's tough, especially for kids. I can't imagine being in high school and not being able to spend time with your friends."
Wojcik, who teaches technology at Taconic High School in Pittsfield, handled the editing for the video, which uses Bobby McFerrin's 1988 hit "Don't Worry, Be Happy" for a soundtrack.
"At first, we were almost going to go with, 'We Are the World,' but it didn't go along with it," Wojcik said. "It's a great song, but it wasn't the right beat for the basketball part.
"But when you listen to this one, it's snappy and upbeat and if you listen to the words, it mentions people not being able to pay the rent, so it's kind of timely."

Tags: Facebook,   girls basketball,   HVHS,   video,   

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Father Tom Tent Site Becoming a Reality in Cheshire

By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Correspondent
CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Father Tom Tent Site is inching closer to its "official" opening. 
Named after the former pastor of St. Mary's Church, the Rev. Thomas Begley, the site will serve through-hikers of the Appalachian Trail and give them a place to regroup for a night or two while charging electronics, replenishing their water supply, and getting rid of refuse
Highway Superintendent Robert Navin said he hopes to have the water line completed this week, which would leave just a few loose ends to tie up before making the official announcement. One very loose end is the COVID-19 pandemic and the unique safety concerns that constantly arise from the virus. 
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