Lebanon — Lebanon High baseball coach Doug Ashey knew early on that Caleb Broughton had the skill and work ethic to compete at the next level. Jim Broughton, Caleb’s father and the head baseball coach at Colby-Sawyer College, had the same feeling.
The younger Broughton validated that hard work on Friday, signing his letter of commitment to play NCAA Division I baseball for Bucknell University, the one school that showed real interest in his talent, in the foyer of Lebanon High.
“That was a big priority, to get into a good school,” Broughton said after the ceremonial signing. “Baseball came second, but it just worked out that I got both. I’m pretty happy.”
Broughton has played three seasons for the Raiders at second base and shortstop, making a name for himself through what Ashey called a dedicated work ethic. He is only the second baseball athlete from Lebanon to be accepted by a D-I collegiate baseball program, the first being Jake Woodward, the son of former Raider and Boston Red Sox pitcher Rob Woodward; the younger Woodward was recruited to play for St. John’s University in 2010.
“He’s one of the hardest-working players I’ve had,” Ashey said. “I’ve had a lot of good, hard-working kids. He comes every day, he practices hard every day. He doesn’t take a day off.”
That hard work was on display at the Headfirst Honor Roll Baseball showcase in New York late last summer, which links “high potential high school baseball players with a platform that allows them to interact with coaches and evaluators from the nation’s best academic colleges and universities,” according to its website. It was there that Bucknell’s coaching staff first approached Broughton, and it didn’t take long for Broughton to realize they had a real interest in him.
“It was a long process,” Broughton said. “A lot of showcases and different stuff like that. Really, it came down to the last showcase I had. I got lucky; I had a really good performance. Bucknell saw me, they liked what they saw, they had me come out for a visit. It really just worked out.”
Being a collegiate baseball coach — albeit in NCAA D-III — Jim Broughton was able to help his son along through the recruiting process, providing a measuring stick for just what kind of skills and academic standing his son needed to be a viable recruit for D-I programs.
But the thought of recruiting his own son, he said, never crossed his mind.
“I don’t try to go after those kids because they’re going after bigger schools baseball-wise,” Jim Broughton said. “He’s been practicing with us for the past couple of years. Every winter, he comes down and practices with us. The guys on the team can see his ability. He probably could have started for me a few years ago.
“It’s a big relief,” he added. “We started looking at schools over a year ago. Driving around, we were looking at Ivy League schools. … He’s put his time in here (at Lebanon) in the classroom to be able to look at the schools he was looking at.”
Bucknell, which plays baseball in the Patriot League, was 18-34 last season. Broughton said the mixture of academic standing and competitive baseball was what drew him to the Bison, even though Patriot League baseball athletes are not granted scholarship funding for their sport.
In spite of that, Jim Broughton said the financial aid package they were able to acquire made Bucknell a real possibility.
Caleb Broughton plans to study economics next year. Even though he’s still unsure in what capacity he’s going to contribute on the field as a freshman, he said he’s excited to get started.
“It’s a dream come true,” he said. “I’ve made it to the next step, and now there’s the possibility of making it farther.”
Thetford Moving Ahead With Varsity Indoor Track: Thetford Academy athletic director Blendon Salls confirmed that the school’s athletic department is beginning the process of making its indoor track and field team, which has operated as a club team but competed individually in VPA Division III, part of its collection of varsity sports offered during the winter season.
Salls said he is meeting Vermont Principals Association executive director Bob Johnson next week to discuss steps necessary to be recognized as a varsity team and that budget increases for next year’s athletic department have already been asked for to accommodate coaching salaries and transportation expenses.
“We’re moving forward like we’re going to be varsity,” he said. “We’re talking to the younger kids coming back next year like it’s going varsity, to the coaching staff like it’s going varsity. I think it’s going to happen.”
The Panthers have become a competitive force in Vermont indoor track and field since it began in 2011. Last year, Thetford’s boys would have placed second and girls third among D-III opponents if its team scores had counted. Caleb Davidson has emerged as one of Vermont’s top shot putters, and Hannah Harkins is a threat in the triple jump and pole vault.
“Bridget (Dugan-Sullivan, Thetford’s former athletic director) had, in the past, talked about doing it,” Salls said. “I think there was reluctance and hesitation from the coaching staff. We had a few Rivendell kids working and competing with us. As a club, you’re allowed to do that. But once we become a varsity team, you can’t recruit kids into a co-op.”
The Panthers included several athletes from Rivendell last winter, according to Salls.
Hartford Fundraises for Julie Barber: Hartford High’s girls basketball team raised $1,170 for Lebanon High’s Julie Barber during the team’s Monday night game against Woodstock.
Donations were collected at the door to support the Raiders’ girls hockey player diagnosed with a spinal tumor in the beginning of December, combined with the sale of Barber Strong T-shirts, a concession and bake sale and entrance fees that all went to the Barber family. The fundraiser was the idea of Hartford senior captain Stefani Wagar’s idea, who is family friends with the Barbers.
“We did a picture thing and posted it on Facebook. Then, we had the idea of doing this benefit game to raise money for her so when she comes home, they can try to make the house livable for her,” Wagar said. “It was a lot of work to get it all together.”
Both teams came out for warm-ups in Barber Strong T-shirts before the game and came together in solidarity during the pre-game ceremony. A GoFundMe fundraising campaign on Barber’s behalf had reached $47,950 as of Friday afternoon.
To contribute, visit https://www.gofundme.com/help-the-barbers-help-julie.Josh Weinreb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3306.