For the fifth time, we gather in an entirely metaphorical way to celebrate the "Vealies," a time for recognizing the best in Copper Country high school sports.
Once again, please remember that a Vealie is more of an abstract concept than a tangible award, but all winners are offered a hearty handshake and an attaboy (or girl) at the DMG's Houghton office between the hours of 9 a.m. and noon on a weekday.
Team of the Year
Keweenaw Storm 18-U girls' hockey
Bending the rules a little to bring junior hockey into the fold, but for good reason. The players are either high school students or were quite recently, and besides, I gave a Vealie Award to myself last year, so it's not like I'm dealing a deathblow to this institution.
The Storm made a third consecutive USA Hockey Nationals tournament this year in northern California, rolling undefeated into the championship game, which they lost by one disputed goal in double overtime.
The true impact of their achievement may only been seen in 10 or 15 years when we see what infrastructure and recognition has grown for girls in their wake.
High Comedy Moment of the Year
Compressor at Negaunee Ice Arena
One of the many winter plagues that befell the Upper Peninsula this year was the annual ridiculous cold snap that causes school closures.
There are all sorts of good reasons to postpone a prep sporting event - many schools cancel sports if they cancel classes, no one would want to be stranded in a bus in those conditions.
But on a day in which the high temperature barely cracked 0, I did not expect the making of ice to be a problem that would postpone a Calumet-Negaunee hockey game. The making of jokes certainly wasn't.
Unsung Hero of the Year
The end of the winter sports season can be something of a struggle to the finish line. So this year's Vealie for Unsung Hero goes to everyone who didn't notice I was late to the Lake Linden-Hubbell at Chassell boys' basketball game this season because I drove to Lake Linden first.
Also, to those who knew about it and kept the humor light.
Quote of the Year
Jamie Dompier, Chassell girls' basketball
Sometimes stating the obvious is difficult. Particularly in a high school setting, if someone is, say, noticeably large, demonstrably slow, or just plain bad, it's difficult to express that directly in print. We have verbs like 'struggled' for this very purpose.
Jamie Dompier is not bad, not slow and is definitely not large at 5-foot-1. Which is why when she said this after a home win over Dollar Bay, she locked up her second career Vealie and first accomplished without the aid of an animal costume (see 2011).
"It was frustrating, but I can't let myself get down and get mad at myself. I know the girls look up to me even though they're pretty much all looking down at me, realistically."
Game of the Year
Hancock 1, Fond du Lac, Wis. 0 - Jan. 12
Sometimes a 1-0 scoreline can be rather difficult to write. Once you've described the one goal, what else is there to do?
Well, with the help of Hancock goaltender Jacob Givens, who wasn't playing high school hockey the season before, and a tight win over an undefeated Fond du Lac team, the only thing that made the game hard to write was determining the quotes and descriptions I had to leave out.