Sam Sherman and his parents, Bryon and Stacie Sherman, above, and Bo Bramer and his parents, Tina and Pat Bramer, below, at Monday's ceremony at Taconic High School.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Deciding where you are going to go to college can be a long, painstaking process that stretches out over months.
Or, sometimes, you just know.
Taconic senior Sam Sherman has known for a long time that he could play college baseball, and he had been talking to several different schools about his future plans.
Merrimack College was not one of those schools until very recently.
"It was one of my last fall games, I just reached out to them, I had never talked to them before," Sherman said. "He said, 'Yeah, we'll come see you play.'"
The coaches liked what they saw, and Sherman definitely liked what he saw of the North Andover school. So on Monday morning, there was Sherman on the auditorium stage at Taconic, flanked by his parents and alongside his high school teammate, each signing National Letters of Intent — Bo Bramer for Fordham University and Sherman at Merrimack.
"As soon as I stepped on campus, I loved it," Sherman said of Merrimack. "It's awesome. They have a nice field. They're defensive-minded, and I'm a defensive type player, so that's really what put it over the top for me."
Bramer, too, is excited to be joining a program that suits his game.
"People who know me know that I'm a speed guy," Bramer said. "I like to use my speed to help the team. And they led the nation in stolen bases two years in a row, so that was really attractive for me. I'll have a chance not only to use my speed but enhance it."
Last spring, Bramer stole 19 bases as a junior on Taconic's 19-0 State Championship squad. He also hit .451 in the leadoff spot.
Sherman batted .364 while pitching and playing in the infield. On the mound, he went 4-0 with a .910 earned run average and struck out 34 batters in 23 innings.
On Monday, they joined a long line of recent Taconic student-athletes who have moved on to compete at the NCAA Division I level.
"Mr. Bishop, our principal, unfortunately cannot be here today," Pittsfield Public Schools Athletic Director Jim Abel said during Monday's ceremony. "But he did point out that, by his count, the Taconic baseball program itself has produced 17 student-athletes who have gone to continue their academic and athletic careers at the NCAA level in just the last five years.
"That's not just baseball players. You include basketball players, golfers, football players. That's 17 student-athletes from the baseball program who have gone on to further their academic careers at the NCAA level in just five years."
That individual accomplishment has helped fuel a remarkable run of success for the team, which has captured three state championships in the last five years and went to four straight state title games.
"I love to compete," Bramer said when asked to reflect on how his experience at Taconic helped prepare him for the "next level."
"I love to show everyone in the light what we do in the cage or in the gym."
Bramer and Sherman's coach loves that the two seniors celebrated on Monday represent the program the right way and continue to light the way for youngsters who would follow in their footsteps.
"This is what it's all about, for these kids to be moving up and playing at the highest level," Kevin Stannard said. "They're quality kids. They're fantastic students, which goes hand in hand, because, for baseball, I never have to worry, 'Oh, is this kid failing? Is he not going to be at practice because he's got detention or making up something?' I don't have that problem. They're student-athletes, and their grades are fantastic.
"We've been fortunate these past five years to have such a great run in quality kids. Seeing these kids going on to play, whether it's DIII, DII, DI, at least they're going on and moving forward with their baseball career."
In his remarks to a crowd of students and well-wishers, Stannard noted Bramer and Sherman's long histories of dedication to the sport, commenting that he first noticed them as Little League All-Stars.
In a news release announcing Monday's signing ceremony, Bramer said he and Sherman are products of an athletic legacy in Pittsfield.
"The local coaches, and the players that came before us, always treated us well," he said. "That had an influence on us. We admired them. Those experiences and connections played a role in the success we've experienced – and we hope to help play a role in continuing that legacy and culture."
Stannard on Monday also noted the contribution of the training each player received at Rip City Academy in Dalton.
That sports academy also played a direct role in helping Sherman find the right college fit.
"I was sitting at Rip City one day, and [PHS grad and academy coach] Kevin Donati said, 'What about Merrimack?' " Sherman said when asked how he came to contact the school. "He sent me the contact information, and I reached out.
"I was thinking UAlbany, but once Merrimack came in, I was like, 'Merrimack is the place for me.' They're building a program there. I want to help build that."
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Community College (BCC) presents "RUNWAY," an exhibition of original paintings by local artist Grier Horner, on view in Koussevitzky Gallery Monday, Jan. 24 through Monday, Feb. 28, 2022.
The gallery is open Monday–Friday from 9 am to 5 pm. Admission is free.
Horner was born in New York City in 1935 and lived in and around New York until enrolling at Brown University in 1953. After graduating, he worked a short stint in the mailroom of a Manhattan ad agency, followed by reporting jobs at The St. Albans Messenger in Vermont and at The North Adams Transcript, until landing at the Berkshire Eagle. There, he spent 32 years, first as the City Hall reporter and then as the associate editor, earning a Pulitzer Prize nomination for a series of stories on child abuse. He retired in 1997 and took up painting and photography, honing his skills by taking classes at BCC.
"To me painting is magic, performed not with a wand but with a brush. It has elements of sorcery," Horner says.
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