Showing posts with label England. Show all posts
Showing posts with label England. Show all posts

Friday, March 31, 2023

Windham student to represent USA at world dog agility competition in England

By Ed Pierce

A Windham student is walking on air this week after learning that she’s been selected by the American Kennel Club to compete with two of her dogs in the 2023 AKC Junior Open Agility Championships in England this July.

Annaka Miller of Windham, 16, has been
selected to represent the USA by the
American Kennel Club as a competitor
in the 2023 AKC Junior Open Agility
Championships in two events with her
dogs Shamu, left, and Cody. The 
competition will be held in England in
July and Miller needs to raise $9,000
to make the trip.
Annaka Miller, 16, will compete as an alternate on the USA team in the Small Dog category with her Corgi, Shamu, and she also earned a place on the USA team in the Intermediate Dog category with her border collie, Cody. Miller is a sophomore at Gray New Gloucester High School.

She’s one of 24 junior dog handlers and their K-9 companions to earn a position on the USA Junior Team for the global competition which tests teen competitors at the highest level of dog agility.

“Training daily and traveling the world to compete at the highest level of dog agility takes mental and physical skills, commitment, dedication and heart”, said USA Coach Susan Cochran. “The Junior Open Agility World Championships is just as spectacular as the Olympics.”

Competitors in the world championships and their handlers undergo two rounds of testing at the event measuring jumping ability and agility. USA team members represent 14 states across America including Maine, California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Miller said that she first learned about the competition at a boundless junior agility camp from some previous participants.

"I’ve been working with dogs for about 13 years since I was 3 ½ when I started,” she said. “I have six dogs of all different breeds.”

According to Miller, she’s been training with Shamu and Cody over the winter months to get ready for England and she believes the standard event in the Junior World Agility Competition will be the hardest for her.

“The most difficult event to train for is the Standard course and I think there are more things that could go wrong in the standard course because it has more of a variety of obstacles,” she said. “It changes by week usually in the winter less due to snow, usually we train each dog at least an hour on different things not always agility related.”

“Working with dogs in general can pose a significant challenge all in itself”, Miller said.

“I think a lot of the time it can be hard to focus and deal with distractions,” she said.

To best prepare for the competition, Miller says that she’s been perfecting everything for the agility courses and sharpening skills that she and her dogs already have.

“It takes a lot of time, hard work, and perseverance to get ready for this and build the connection we need,” she said.

Spending time with her dogs getting ready to compete makes all her hours of training worthwhile.

“Cody is 7 and Shamu is 10. They both have two personalities, crazy when they are getting ready to run, and snuggly before and after,” she said. “They both adapt to various places well.”

Miller, who is interested in pursuing a career in radiology while continuing to work with dogs in the future, says she’s excited about visiting England and the opportunity to experience a different culture there.

“I’m not sure what to expect but I’m hoping to have a good time and doing my best and hoping the dogs do too,” Miller said. “My friends at school don't really seem to understand what the competition is but they are happy for me. Friends at shows and family are super excited and really proud, just ready to see and hear about the whole thing.”

To get to the event, Miller figures she has to raise about $9,000. Unlike the Olympics, these junior competitors do not have sponsors and are responsible for funding their trip.

Cochran said the public can help them through donations which go directly to the USA Team, a specific handler such as Miller or a dog breed. Donations may be made through the Team’s PayPal account: PAYPAL.ME/AGILITYJUNIORS

Miller said that she also will be doing various fundraising at some local events in the near future to help defray her expenses for the trip. <

Friday, October 29, 2021

Raymond’s Jordan-Small Middle School celebrates ‘Tom Gumble Day’

Jordan-Small Middle School seventh-graders Bryce Jarvais,
left, and Zach Gagne thank Groundskeeper Tom Gumble 
after JSMS staff, coaches and the boys' and girls' soccer
and cross country teams honored him on Oct. 25 at the
school for his hard work on the first-ever 'Tom Gumble
By Matt Pascarella

Staff and coaches at Jordan Small Middle School (JSMS) along with students from the boys and girls’ soccer team and cross-country team noticed that Tom Gumble, their groundskeeper for 13 years, wasn’t getting proper recognition and threw him a surprise honoring at JSMS where he was presented with gifts and a plaque stating Oct. 25 was officially “Tom Gumble Day.”
Gumble is not someone you may recognize but has done a lot for the schools in RSU 14, with his main focus being at JSMS and Raymond Elementary School. He’s painted the Windham eagle head on the high school football field and recently painted the Raymond Roadrunner on Jordan-Small’s soccer field.

“The reason you play on such great fields is Mr. Gumble,” said JSMS Athletic Director Jack Fitch. “I feel real fortunate that we have Mr. Gumble here taking care of our facility. You’re awesome.”

Seventh-grader Phinlee Acosta-Afthim said she likes how much effort Gumble puts into making everything so nice. Without him, their school wouldn’t be what it is today. She thanked him for all his hard work and everything he’s done to create a safe and happy environment to play in.

Gumble is originally from Romford, England. He has always loved the outdoors and worked as a fencer and landscaper.

While he and his wife were visiting family in Maine, they were invited to his wife’s nephew’s football practice. Gumble stood on the high school stadium field in 2006 and had a surreal moment. “I don’t know what it was, I was looking around the stadium and was like “I’m going to work here someday,” he said.

When Gumble and his wife moved to Windham, he struggled to find work. He saw an ad for public works and was later contacted by the district facilities department looking for summer help.

Gumble said the rest is history as that summer position became a fulltime one and once Windham and Raymond schools consolidated, he was given the option to be based in Raymond. Though he was hesitant at first, looking back, he said it was the best thing he ever did.

He said it could be easy to say no to a particular task in his job, but Gumble realized he could make a real difference at JSMS.

Anything and everything connected to the grounds from field maintenance to helping an employee clean off their car in the snow, there isn’t much Gumble won’t say ‘yes’ to.

Everyone is appreciative of the time Gumble puts in.

“For soccer games, being able to play on good turf, he’s done a really good job with it. He’s super kind and hard working,” said seventh-grader Zach Gagne. “He’s an amazing guy and is very appreciated for what he does for the schools and it’s such an honor to have him here.”

Cross-country coach John Keller appreciated the work Gumble did for their quarter-mile trail. Gumble made the trail safe to run on.

“It was very root covered and he covered the roots with gravel and crushed stone, that was immense,” said Keller. “Tom works so hard and hasn’t been recognized for it and deserves it. He does the work of three people.”

Eighth-grader Katie Plummer likes that Gumble is a hard worker and nice person.

Gumble sincerely loves the grounds. He said you couldn’t beat the views on the soccer field with the White Mountains in the distance.

He was blown away at the presentation of “Tom Gumble Day.” He said he would forever be indebted to the schools and their employees for doing this.

“I know the coaches, the teachers, we’ve kind of become one big family,” he said.

Gumble said being an immigrant, he tried harder. He realized some of it was circumstance and luck but wanted to tell the kids they are very fortunate to live in a country where if you work hard, you can be anything you want.

He said that he feels a real sense of community and would like to thank RSU 14 for giving him the opportunity to work there, coaches Jim Beers and John Keller, JSMS Principal Randy Crockett, physical education teacher Joni Merrill and all the students, parents and employees of Raymond school system, saying that they’ve all played a part in his success. <