As I walked through downtown Houghton on my way home last night, I came to the realization that summer truly has arrived.
It is unlikely to snow for at least a few weeks and what snow does fall now probably counts for 2014-15.
Upon considering these facts, the realization that I have not yet disbursed the Vealies, my annual 'mythical' recognition to the best of the 2013-14 school year in prep sports, troubled me. After all, you and I survived a lot this school year. There was 300 inches (roughly) of snow, postponements on a nearly regular basis and general ennui.
You put up with a lot. Once you get back from your bonfires and your music festivals and your vacations, know that all Vealie winners can receive a hearty handshake and an attaboy or attagirl when visiting the Daily Mining Gazette between the hours of 9 a.m. and noon on weekdays.
Team of the Year
Soon after arriving in the Copper Country in 2008, I received a few complaints about a lack of ink dedicated to the success of the Calumet volleyball program.
Five years later, I got a few good-natured reminders during the season that Calumet articles were getting a little short.
Here's the problem: Blowouts are hard to write much about, both because in volleyball they tend not to take a lot of time, and because there is only so much one can say about 25-5, 25-4, 25-6 or something like that.
The 2013 Calumet team was maybe not quite that dominating, but came pretty close, sweeping all of its WestPAC matches and reaching the Class C state quarterfinals. With many key players returning, they'll have their sights on the standards set by that 2008 team, which reached the state championship match.
I was a little concerned about awarding multiple Vealies to the same program, but since I know a few of those 2008 Calumet girls are already married and starting families, I assume that means either the statute of limitations has passed or I'm just starting to get extremely old.
Quote of the Year
"Brandon Veale is trying to take a selfie!" - Ellen Twardzik
I may be old, but I still know enough about technology to get myself into trouble. Keeping up with the kids these days can be a challenging task, but we at the Daily Mining Gazette do our best to engage with all our readers via social media.
I joined the iPhone hordes in November. Thanks to Instagram, the world knows about my cooking projects, the misspelled street signs I come across and the venues I frequent. One of them was Calumet High School (of which I was Foursquare "mayor" for quite some time until the office was abolished).
During "Yooper Day" at CHS, which took place during the MHSAA boys' basketball playoffs, I was concerned I would not get credit for being in theme despite my credentials because I was not wearing flannel or an ice-fishing hat with earflaps.
So I took a picture with the kids in the background to compare and contrast. But now, after getting caught in the act, everyone confuses me with Ellen DeGeneres or Kim Kardashian or something.
High Comedy Moment of the Year
To spare you all the embarrassment, I'm going to take one for the team and give the award to myself. There are many potential situations to nominate, but I'm going to go with my decision to take the ball for a halftime three-point shootout at a Houghton basketball game and then come up woefully short.
Hopefully, you were getting a Dilly Bar at the concession stand or something.
Game of the Year
Houghton-L'Anse girls' basketball, parts one and two
It's rare that any team (with the exception of maybe Marquette) can beat Houghton in consecutive seasons. L'Anse did that in December, and in Houghton's gym, as Madi Swanson scored her 1,000th career point in a 60-45 win.
Even more rare is the team that beats coach Julie Filpus' Gremlins twice in a season. L'Anse wasn't able to do that after Houghton held them off 45-43 in a Feb. 1 matinee that was almost entirely a one-possession game.
The only disappointing thing about their season series is that Houghton's being elevated to Class B this season meant there would be no rubber match in the postseason.
Brandon Veale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/redveale.