Charities get an EDGE

The Bedford Boy Scouts Troop 194 held its inaugural Charity Cup Challenge Saturday at The EDGE Sports Center, featuring a hockey game between the Bedford Police, Fire & DPW All-Stars and the Bedford EDGErs.

The final score was 7-4, in favor of the EDGErs but the real winners are Troop 194’s charities: The American Legion Post 221, Toys for Local Children, the Bedford Food Pantry and the Bedford High School Fallen Veterans Memorial Fund.

The game, sponsored by The EDGE Sports Center and the East Coast Wizards Hockey program, who donated the use of their facility and the ice time, drew more than 125 spectators who not only took in a spirited hockey game, but also took part in a silent auction of sports memorabilia and holiday gift baskets donated by local merchants and the Bedford Cub Scouts Pack 194.

The day’s events kicked off with the JROTC Color Guard presenting the Star Spangled Banner, and Boy Scout Steven DeVellis leading the Pledge of Allegiance, culminated in the awarding of the first annual Charity Cup to the winning team, the Bedford EDGErs.

Proceeds from the event will ensure the continued growth of scouting in Bedford, and will be donated to the American Legion in appreciation of their sponsorship of Bedford Scouting; along with the Bedford High School JROTC program for the BHS Fallen Veterans Memorial Fund – to be used in the creation of an enduring memorial at the High School to all the brave local men and women who have lost their lives in the US Armed Forces. Additionally, the Troop collected boxes of food for the Bedford Food Pantry for local families this holiday season, and TLC.

By Stephen Tobey | Bedford Minuteman

BHS Varsity Hockey Now Has The Edge

Bedford High School varsity hockey practice began earlier this week, as it has for decades on the first Monday after Thanksgiving. Not much new in that – except this marks the start of a new era for the sport, its players, families and fans, and the greater community.

Do you recall that scene in “The Wizard of Oz” when Dorothy emerges from her house and finds that the world has changed from black-and-white to color? That’s what’s happening on Hartwell Road as hockey players find themselves in their own local Oz – The Edge sports center.

“I’ve been over there a few times, and I’ve just been treated really well,” said BHS Head Coach Peter Marfione last week. “They’re willing to help us as much as they possibly can.” Added Chris Aufiero, director of athletics at the high school, “It’s going to work out great for the kids.” The first home game is scheduled for Dec. 12.

Senior Andy Westerkamp is looking forward to the “health benefits,” as he explained: When the team rented out-of-town ice, “we got up at 3:45 to practice at 5, and that really takes a toll on you after awhile. You’ve got to go to bed early, but sometimes you can’t because you have homework. With this new rink we go to practice every day after school at 2:30. And everything’s right down the street.”

“They used to be on a bus at the high school at 4:20 in the morning,” the coach confirmed. “Sometimes they had a game at eight at night. I don’t think anybody could expect them to be at their best.”

A year ago, there was nothing “down the street” but a wooded lot across from the former Raytheon systems complex. Groundbreaking didn’t take place until January. The developers, Brian DeVellis of Bedford and former Olympic hockey star Scott Fusco, said they were aiming for completion by the end of the year. Yeah, dream on.

Except they did it. The plan sailed through the permitting process, a few neighborhood concerns were addressed, and the project surged through the spring and summer. The rink opened early this month, and work on the indoor turf field and fitness center is nearly complete.

“It’s going to be a good atmosphere over there for the kids,” Marfione asserted. “Youth hockey will grow and hopefully will feed right into the high school.” There are bleachers alongside the rink, and “a couple hundred people can sit over there. Hopefully we’ll develop a following with the youth hockey. It’s going to take a couple of years, but I think the numbers will grow.”

His predecessor as coach, Bedford native Mike McGrath, is the facilities manager at The Edge. He expects the high school program to benefit “just in terms of sheer numbers — I think a lot of kids didn’t try out to avoid the 5 a.m. practice time.” McGrath, who said his new job is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, said the return of junior varsity hockey would strengthen the sport as athletes strive to move up the ladder and stay there.

Sophomore Cotter Ellis, the team’s goalie, mentioned the discomfort of playing “home” games in the same arena used by archrival Concord-Carlisle. “We had to get the worst times, the worst locker rooms,” he related. Now the ice is only five minutes away, and the team has its own room at The Edge. “We can leave our bags there. We don’t have to lug them around.” Aufiero concurred. “I can’t emphasize enough the value of having a locker room – they don’t have to drag their stuff around and find a place to store it in school.”

Aufiero noted that there will be significant financial savings. Bus transportation to and from Valley Sports Arena in West Concord for practices and games cost $150 per round trip, from the Monday after Thanksgiving to mid-February, he said Between practices and games, there were six trips a week.

Westerkamp, who is president of the BHS Class of 2008, is starting his fourth year on the varsity, including a magical 2005-2006 season when the team dressed only 15 athletes but won most of its games and qualified for post-season play. “I think this is going to be a great spot for all the kids in town,” he said. “People are going to start enjoying hockey and going to the games. I’ve been to the free skate a couple of times and a lot of young kids are going to hang out.”

Andy’s mother Cissy, who grew up with nine brothers who played hockey, joined in that open community skating earlier this month. “Having a facility like this will not only benefit the kids but the town overall,” she testified. “It’s going to be an opportunity for families.” Cotter, who has been skating since age four, is certain that the new facilities will inspire more interest and involvement.

Aufiero hopes the relationship with The Edge extends to some conditioning programs and the turf fields, which will come in handy for practice sessions on snowy or rainy spring afternoons.

By Mike Rosenberg | Copyright 2007 Bedford Minuteman. Some rights reserved

New Sports Center Has a Real EDGE

Hockey games running from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. this past weekend were a welcome sight for Brian DeVellis and Scott Fusco, who had become accustomed to the ongoing construction that has allowed The EDGE Sports Center of Bedford to open in time for high school hockey season.

“You know, it’s just a big relief to finally get the doors open,” said DeVellis. “We had shot for the middle of October, so, given the fact that we were still clearing the site in June, that’s pretty good.” DeVellis and Fusco, the principle partners for the property, started the permitting process in January, according to Fusco. “So, it was a solid ten months, which is great,” he said. “All the town boards were great to work with. They knew we had a tight time frame so they did everything they could to get all the approvals in place,” Fusco said. The sports center, located on Hartwell Road, opened its doors this past Saturday to its Learn To Play Hockey program, which was followed by a weekend filled with skating and hockey. “Everything’s gone great,” said Fusco. “We’ve gotten positive feedback about the games and ice surface. I was happy with the way things went, and I think the people were, as well.

“I think it’s going to be a great deal for the town. For the first time they’re putting a middle school hockey team together,” he said. Around 26 kids tried out for the team, which is “great for town spirit and to build the high school program,” Fusco said. The EDGE will also open two indoor Field Turf fields later this month. “People are dying for the turf fields,” said DeVellis. “People are coming in now and requesting birthday times.”Fusco envisions the turf fields as a place for community recreation, saying, “Really anything that can be done on grass can be done on the turf.” The EDGE has already gotten calls from people interested in Ultimate Frisbee, football and baseball – even from a dog agility club.

Log onto www.theedgesportscenter.com for more information on programs offered.

By Patrick Ball | Bedford Minuteman

Ice Rink, Sports Facility Construction Under Way

Just six months ago, The Edge Sports Center of Bedford was an idea, well, two ideas, really. Now, the brainchild of Brian DeVellis and Scott Fusco, the gaudy steel skeleton across from Raytheon on Hartwell Road more closely resembles an athletic complex with each passing day.

DeVellis a Bedford resident, and developer by trade, identified the town’s need for more field space, specifically indoors. Fusco, a Winchester resident, runs a girls hockey program of selects ages 7 to 19 called the East Coast Wizards, and was looking to secure a rink where his program could play.

The pair joined forces to develop the completely privately funded Edge Sports Center of Bedford, after they were introduced by mutual friends.

They broke ground the third week in April, and thus far, “everything’s gone pretty well,” said Fusco.

Once complete, The Edge Sports Center’s facility will include a pro shop and concession area that will stand between the 200 feet x 85 feet regulation hockey rink and the indoor sports facility, with a total turf area of 225 feet by 95 feet and 10,000-square-foot athletes’ training center. The rink will have seating for about 300, the turf will have standing room only. Parking and entrances will be located at both the front and rear of the facility

If the current construction schedule sticks, the rink will be open by Oct. 1, for the start of hockey season, and the turf will follow suit a few weeks later.

DeVellis and Fusco plan on being completely up and running by Nov. 1.

They anticipate the rink will be used for “select” boys and girls hockey (Boston Junior Eagles and East Coast Wizards), local (Bedford-Lexington) youth hockey, two high school hockey programs (Bedford and Lexington) and drop-in hockey, as well as the learn-to-skate program, synchronized skating, figure skating and public skating hours.

Using the sports center as their home ice will benefit Bedford High School because not only will they save money by not bussing the players to and from the rink in West Concord, but the team will be able to practice after school instead of at 5 a.m. Also, there will be a separate locker room reserved for Bedford High School during the hockey season, so they won’t have to lug their equipment with them to and from the rink.

Fusco said The Edge Sports Center could result in a “big quality of life improvement” for the families of hockey players. There is a huge, untapped demand for ice time in the area, said Fusco. “We look at our market as a ½ hour radius.”

The turf section of the complex will have one big piece of turf and netting can divide the turf into two fields arranged perpendicularly – the larger measuring 160 feet x 95 feet and the smaller being 125 feet x 75 feet – or into three fields.

He anticipates the turf will be used by youth and adult indoor soccer and lacrosse for practices and training. Baseball and football could eventually be played on the turf, which will be made available to high school sports teams as needed. Programs for younger kids, likely run by the Recreation Department, will be offered as well, said Fusco.

“The space is big enough you can pretty much do anything,” he said.

Amy Hamilton, director of Bedford Recreation, said the Recreation Department has had several meetings with developers to determine how it makes the most sense to work together – as far as who runs what and so forth.

“We’ve been talking about various programs specifically, and how it would be best to manage the programs,” she said. “We’ve just been, you know, working together, feeling our way with them to determine what’s best for the community.

“They’re easy to work with, and they absolutely want to work with the community,” said Hamilton. “It’s an exciting time for everybody.”

Some details still need ironing out, and The Edge Sports Center is looking for potential employees to work in maintenance, marketing and managing retail, as well as zamboni drivers.

More information on the facility is available at www.theedgesportscenter.com

By Patrick Ball | Copyright 2007 Bedford Minuteman. Some rights reserved

Golfing Great Visits Site of Posh New Course

STRATHAM — It was up on a rise overlooking an old cornfield and a shag bark hickory tree that golf great Arnold Palmer met the members of the Golf Club of New England.

The event, held under a white tent to shade the 150 guests from the sweltering sun, was billed as a ground-breaking for the millionaires’ golf club, which will cover 450 acres of Stratham and Greenland when it is done. And although Palmer never laid a hand on a shovel at the event, he did touch a lot of hearts. “He’s the most gracious man I have ever met,” said John M. Kehoe Jr., president and chief executive officer of The General Chemical Group and GCNE’s president. “This is great,” agreed Craig Benson, founder of Cabletron Systems in Rochester.

Introducing Palmer to the crowd underneath the tent, Kehoe called it “an absolutely unadulterated thrill. “This is the finest ambassador of the game of golf ever,” he said. He also announced that the road leading from Winnicutt Road to the new course will be named Arnold Palmer Drive. GCNE hired Palmer Course Design Company to design the chic, state-of-the-art course. Palmer, who stood beside the makeshift stage, bowed graciously at the honor of having the road named for him. And when he took the stage, the golf great brought laughs from the crowd.

The levity came when a GCNE member asked if Palmer would return for the opening of the course next year. “When we open this up, will you come up and play the first round of golf with us,” the man asked. “God hopes I will,” joked Palmer, apparently referring to his 71 years and his health. “I don’t even buy green bananas anymore,” he quipped. Palmer called the rolling Stratham and Greenland fields and forest that will be created into fairways “fantastic.”

In fact, Kehoe said Palmer’s enthusiasm for the Stratham site is the reason they chose his design company to build it. “When you come to New Hampshire and have a piece of property like this, it makes you drool,” said Palmer, whose company builds six to 12 golf courses a year. “The naturalness of this land is going to make it a classic golf course.” Palmer, who just finished the Fleet Boston Classic on Sunday, a Senior PGA Tour event, will compete in the U.S. Senior Open on Thursday at the Salem Country Club in Peabody, Mass.

Brian DeVellis, the design consultant who went through two years of permit-seeking to make the golf course come true, said he was happy to see Monday arrive. “It’s been a long haul,” he said, smiling. GCNE spokesman Brad Sweet called yesterday’s event a great success. “It was unbelievable.” More than 140 members have shelled out $55,000 each to join the posh new club. They were joined yesterday by local officials and the press for the Palmer visit. Kehoe announced that GCNE expects to receive its final Army Corps of Engineers permit mid-week and will begin building the golf course in earnest by week’s end.

The 18-hole, 7,200-yard, 72-par golf course will feature a $4 million golf clubhouse. In addition to the clubhouse, the Stratham side of the course will include 10 member homes and four of the 18 holes. The maintenance buildings will also be located in Stratham.

A total of 146 acres of the golf course are in Stratham. The remaining 295 acres are in Greenland. The 12,000-square-foot clubhouse will feature an 18-table dining room that can accommodate 72 diners.

The founding fathers of the club are Craig Benson, founder of Cabletron Systems in Rochester; Stephen W. Foss, chairman and chief executive officer of Foss Manufacturing Co.; John M. Kehoe Jr., president and chief executive officer of The General Chemical Group; Neil Garvey, president of Tyco Submarine Systems; and L. Dennis Kozlowski, chairman and chief executive officer of Tyco International.

By Susan Nolan | Exeter Newsletter

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