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Longtime volleyball league has seen its ups and downs

  • The Peterborough Recreation Department adult co-ed volleyball league meets Tuesday nights at South Meadow School and has been around for close to four decades. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • Shawntel Rines makes sets up a teammate for a spike during Peterborough Recreation Department’s adult co-ed volleyball league on Tuesday night at South Meadow School. Rines plays for Donny Bumps, one of five teams in the league. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin

  • The Peterborough Recreation Department adult co-ed volleyball league meets Tuesday nights at South Meadow School and has been around for close to four decades. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • The Peterborough Recreation Department adult co-ed volleyball league meets Tuesday nights at South Meadow School and has been around for close to four decades. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • The Peterborough Recreation Department adult co-ed volleyball league meets Tuesday nights at South Meadow School and has been around for close to four decades. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • The Peterborough Recreation Department adult co-ed volleyball league meets Tuesday nights at South Meadow School and has been around for close to four decades. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • The Peterborough Recreation Department adult co-ed volleyball league meets Tuesday nights at South Meadow School and has been around for close to four decades. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • The Peterborough Recreation Department adult co-ed volleyball league meets Tuesday nights at South Meadow School and has been around for close to four decades. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • The Peterborough Recreation Department adult co-ed volleyball league meets Tuesday nights at South Meadow School and has been around for close to four decades. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • The Peterborough Recreation Department adult co-ed volleyball league meets Tuesday nights at South Meadow School and has been around for close to four decades. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • The Peterborough Recreation Department adult co-ed volleyball league meets Tuesday nights at South Meadow School and has been around for close to four decades. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • The Peterborough Recreation Department adult co-ed volleyball league meets Tuesday nights at South Meadow School and has been around for close to four decades. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • Dominic Viglione, left, of TMI can’t quite get to an errant pass during Peterborough Recreation’s Tuesday night adult co-ed volleyball league. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin

  • The Peterborough Recreation Department adult co-ed volleyball league meets Tuesday nights at South Meadow School and has been around for close to four decades. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • The Peterborough Recreation Department adult co-ed volleyball league meets Tuesday nights at South Meadow School and has been around for close to four decades. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • The Peterborough Recreation Department adult co-ed volleyball league meets Tuesday nights at South Meadow School and has been around for close to four decades. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • The Peterborough Recreation Department adult co-ed volleyball league meets Tuesday nights at South Meadow School and has been around for close to four decades. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, March 06, 2019 9:27PM

Paul Simpson couldn’t quite remember the year. Neither could Jonathan Nash.

It was sometime in the early 1980s when they started playing in the Peterborough Recreation Department adult co-ed volleyball league. Prior to Tuesday’s league play, the two were trying to remember who asked who to join the league. Each one thought it was the other, and then they agreed it was probably Nash who was first. But Simpson, who has been the league coordinator the last two years, was maybe only a year or two behind.

“I’ve always liked sports,” Simpson said. “And I had some friends that played and they said ‘Paul, you should play volleyball with us.’ ”

The TMI teammates are two of the elder statesman of the league that dates back long enough that no one still playing is quite sure the exact year it began – the same goes for those at Peterborough Rec. Those who played back in that first year no longer take the court, but Simpson and Nash have been around long enough to see it through its ups and downs.

“We want to keep it going because sooner or later we won’t be able to play,” Nash said.

In its heyday, the league was made up of three divisions and had upwards of 20 teams. This year, there are five teams – up one from a year ago. But no matter the number of teams and players, the league has carried on year after year.

It is held each Tuesday night, November through playoffs at the end of this month, at South Meadow School. Players travel from all over, as far as Milford, Keene and Townsend, Massachusetts to take part because there just aren’t as many leagues around as there used to be.

Laura LaFortune of Dublin didn’t have a high school program, so she learned to play the game at the YMCA in Keene. She has been a part of the league for more than 30 years, spending some time as the league coordinator, and was always an A division player until she found herself wanting to transition to a lower division four years ago – when there was more than one.

“It’s exercise, it’s fun and it’s competitive,” LaFortune said.

It just so happened there were five others also looking to create a team – three men and two women – so the Gold Diggers were born. There must be three of each gender on the court at all times, and on Tuesday the Gold Diggers found themselves with only five players. But it didn’t matter, they went out and had fun anyway.

“We just happened to be six players looking for a team,” LaFortune said. “And it worked out.”

Stephanie LaPlante, 24, played volleyball in middle and high school in Milford. She’s been part of leagues in her hometown, Amherst and Mont Vernon. She joined the Peterborough league three years ago at the urging of some friends and her team Enough For Now currently sits atop the standings

“It’s a way to keep with the sport,” LaPlante said. “And it’s a nice friendly atmosphere. We all knew each other before and our team is definitely more on the fun side.”

While there is a competitve nature to each match, the players aren’t just there to win. Sure they want to and it’s evident in how they dive on the ground for spikes and run all over the court to corral an errant pass, but there’s more to it. There are people on the other side of the net that have become friends, whether in every day life or during the volleyball season. The ages range from 18 (the minimum) to those in their 60s.

“Part of it is the athletic side of it, part of it is the social aspect,” Simpson said. “We compete, but we have fun too.”

Sarah Vaillancourt made it to the state championship game as a member of the Mascenic girls program in the late 1990s and played for HardRock Volleyball Club. Then it was time to get married and have a family, so she stopped playing until this year when she joined TMI at the urging of Simpson, who was one of her coaches in high school.

“I played so much in high school, you kind of miss it,” Vaillancourt said. “It brings back fun times of the past. I was rusty I’ll admit, but it comes back to you.”

The talent level varies. There are former college players and high school coaches, and those who picked up the sport later in life as a way to get some exercise in the cold winter months.

“I like to stay active and it’s a great way to get a workout in,” Nash said.

Unlike some larger rec sports leagues, every team shows up to play two matches each Tuesday night during the two and a half hour time slot. The SMS gym is split into two courts, which are setup by whoever shows up first. The odd team out fills the role of referees for the match and they rotate until each team has played twice.

Team and players are welcome to sign up for next season beginning in the fall. Contact Peterborough Recreation at 924-8080 for more information.

“We’d like to encourage more people to play,” Simpson said. “It’s a nice group of people and everyone goes out there, trying their best.”