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Royals’ Prolific AD Departs

Moreno Leaves For Post in Hartland

South Royalton — Dear Hartland Elementary School: If you aren’t familiar with the therapeutic effects of the occasional blast of Led Zeppelin or Aerosmith, you’ll learn soon enough.

Those were just a few of the album rock gems Jeff Moreno employed as South Royalton School’s athletic director between innings of the Royals’ home baseball games recent springs. Other elements of his leadership the past five years: sponsor banners on the outfield fence, media notes, painted field logos, a resurrection from flood-borne field destruction and at least four new sports programs.

Some of what he did — but not all — will likely go ramblin’ now that Moreno is leaving SoRo to become Hartland’s principal.

“It’s best for my family,” said Moreno, whose 15-year tenure at the school included stints as a teacher, coach and, most recently, assistant principal. “Being an athletic director and administration, both full-time, is a demanding job. This is the natural next step in my professional career, and they have a great school down there. When the job became open, I threw my name in.”

The problem with being a high school AD while raising a young family can be described by paraphrasing a line from one of Moreno’s classic rock stand-bys: Sometimes, it seems the train keeps a-rollin’ all night long.

Moreno and his wife, Kim, have three children, two boys (6-year-old Bennett, 2-year-old Quincy) and one girl (Flynn, 5). Moreno began coaching Bennett in kindergarten-level sports this year, which helped him realize it might be time to change to a job with less of the nighttime requirement that often befalls athletic directors.

“I’m out four nights a week right now,” Moreno said. “(Bennett) is just starting to get into his own after-school activities. I coached, on top of our varsity boys basketball team, his kindergarten team. I want to do more of that.

“When I’m up here on duty at games, or just after school for all hours dealing with stuff, it doesn’t allow me to do that. I will still have a lot of evening responsibilities, but not as much as a at a K-12 with two hats.”

Moreno said he took pride in getting South Royalton’s track and field program going and “seeing that become so successful, not just in terms of state championships but … seeing that it has spawned the institution of cross country, Nordic skiing, bowling, of other individual sports so that we now have one in each season.

“We’re capturing a whole different group of athletes. I’m very proud of that. Participation has nearly doubled.”

Moreno is buoyed by the fact that he’s going to a school with a solid youth track program.

“It’s bittersweet,” the 1994 Hartford High graduate added. “I’m excited about Hartland; I went to high school with a lot of people from Hartland, and a lot of my friends are in Hartland still. It’s a great, great school, but 15 years at South Royalton have been full of great experiences.

“It’s tough packing up the office now, and at the same time I’m excited to get started in Hartland. It’s a weird place to be.”

Moreno isn’t the only Upper Valley high school AD leaving for an elementary school posting. Jamie Kinnarney, SoRo’s former boys basketball coach, is departing his job as Randolph High athletic director after two years to become principal at Williamstown Elementary.

Go West, Young Ladies: The Hanover High girls ice hockey program is about to begin a series of fundraisers that the Marauders hope will make possible a trip to an elite high school tournament in Minnesota in December.

The Schwan Cup is set for Dec. 30-Jan. 1 at the eight-sheet Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, Minn. Last winter’s tourney drew high school girls teams from North Dakota, Michigan and Illinois as well as Minnesota, but coach John Dodds’ squad is likely to be the farthest flung this time around.

“There are hotels, plane flights; we have to rent a couple of decent-sized vans when we get there,” Dodds said last week. “None of this is paid for by our existing program account or the school, so we have to cover everything.

“The flights alone are $450-$500, and that’s if we buy them now. The problem is we’ll have kids that make the team and we’ll probably have to buy more (plane tickets). Plane flights are not cheap, so we’re shopping around for the best deals. … Expenses add up quickly.”

Fundraising begins today. Sustainable Farmer in Windsor, next to the Harpoon Brewery, will donate 20 percent of all pizza and ice cream sales between 5-8 p.m. to the Marauders. (The event was to be held Friday night, but was moved because of rain.)

Future fundraisers will include running the concession stand at the Lions Club All-Star Lacrosse Games on June 22 at Hanover High; car washes; a barn painting; a summerlong raffle; a skills contest booth at the Norwich Fair; a September family and dog fun run; and a skate with the team in December.

Dodds estimated it will cost about $1,000 per player to travel to the Schwan Cup, which guarantees at least three games to teams in the tournament. Hanover sent a squad to Blaine in 2000 when Harry Roberts coached the Marauders.

“I just want to get them out there and give them good competition and try something different,” said Dodds, whose team won its fourth consecutive NHIAA Division I state championship in March. “The challenge would obviously be great, and the girls were excited about it when I brought it up.”

Anyone interested in assisting the program is welcome to contact Dodds at 603-643-6077 or jdodds@golfskiwarehouse.com.

An Ace for Woodstock: Having taken a gung-ho approach to hosting the VPA boys golf championships since last summer, Woodstock Country Club head professional and Woodstock High golf coach Jim Gunnare is hopeful of welcoming it again soon.

Reviews were largely positive of Wednesday’s tournament, believed the first held somewhere other than Middlebury College’s Ralph Myhre Golf Course in VPA history. More than 100 competitors from 29 schools participated, and although most rounds ranged between five and six hours, Gunnare said he received mostly favorable responses.

“I’m very happy with how the golf course held up,” he added. “I’ve had nothing but great compliments from the coaches and the players on the condition of the golf course, how fun it was, how picturesque it was. I hope we have it next year.”

As a resort course, Woodstock needs to get itself in shape quickly each spring to welcome guests from the nearby Woodstock Inn. High school players were the beneficiaries.

“Middlebury, as far as conditions go, is not even in the same league as Woodstock,” Division III medalist Henry Sherman of Mid Vermont Christian said. “The greens are rolling really well. The fairways are nice; the bunkers are nice. At Middlebury, you’re kind of rolling the dice. … It’s a good track, but it doesn’t challenge you as much as far as placing your shots at Woodstock does.”

Rutland (D-I), Lyndon (D-II) and Rivendell (D-III) claimed team championships on Wednesday. Mount Abraham’s Jona Scott posted the only below-par round, a 1-under 69.

Notables: Two Upper Valley sports officials were recently honored with awards at the Vermont State Athletic Directors Association’s spring meetings at Randolph’s Three Stallion Inn. Hartford’s Mark Hamilton received VSADA’s distinguished service award for his work toward adding bowling to Vermont’s high school sports offerings. Windsor’s Bob Hingston was selected as the state’s small-school athletic director of the year. Honors also went to Essex’s Ed Hockenbury (state award of merit from the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association) and South Burlington’s Mike O’Day (large-school AD of the year). … Former Lebanon High girls basketball player Leanna Travis was among 35 Granite State high school students to be honored as New Hampshire Red Sox Scholars at the team’s May 26 game with Cleveland at Fenway Park. Part of the Red Sox Foundation, the program awarded $1,000 scholarships to each of the 35 recipients, up from 10 handed out when the program started in 2010. … As they often do at states, Hartford High golf coaches Roy and Mike Hathorn scouted about for possible participants in the Julian Cup, the annual matches pitting graduated Vermont and New Hampshire seniors against each other. Woodstock Country Club will host this year’s edition on June 27.

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.