Pitch and Play

March 13, 2006

SI senior writerAlexander Wolff has founded an ABA team, the Vermont Frost Heaves (Dec. 19,2005), which begins play in November. Last weekend he made a play forfunding--as well as a little playing time.

IF SKIING andbasketball share anything besides a season, it's their status in my life asmutually exclusive pursuits, for I've always been too engrossed in hoops tolearn the ropes of the slopes. Yet last Friday, at Vermont's Bolton ValleyResort, two local venture capital firms hosted an event called Peak Pitch, inwhich entrepreneurs shared a chairlift with prospective investors in green skibibs and spent the ride up the hill trying to wheedle money out of them. Newsfrom Turin that Bode Miller had sprained an ankle playing hoops seemed to augurnothing good for another convergence of the two sports, but the Frost Heaveshave too much at stake for their boss (me) to let a mogul come between him and,well, a mogul. Chaperoned by my ski instructor, Tim, I survived five runs, evenif no investors asked me for wiring instructions.

Two days later Itook advantage of the ABA rule that allows the home team to suit up anyone itchooses. For their home finale against the Harlem Strong Dogs, the MarylandNighthawks decided to dress both Gheorghe Muresan, the 7'7" formerWashington Bullet, and 6-foot me. I quickly realized that the end of a probench features a subculture of its own. At one point Gheorghe was speakingRomanian to some guy in a brown leather jacket who had taken the seat next tohim.

After beingsnapped out of my Billy Crystal movie reverie, I played the final two minutesof the Nighthawks' 126-120 victory. That the 15-footer I sank came a full beatafter the horn didn't trouble my teammates, who dealt me heartfelt digits, orthe dozen kids who asked for my autograph. The ABA is a jubilee of feel-goodfund-raising, wacky promotions and kids. At halftime one boy approached Randy(White Chocolate) Gill on our bench to ask for a handshake. The league'sthree-point champion begged off because, in loosey-goosey ABA fashion, he hadtucked into some nachos and didn't want to soil the fan's hand. "Noproblem," the boy replied, still wide-eyed. "It would be yourcheese."

My business planbegins: "Most sports fans can catalog their gripes about probasketball--remote players, soulless arenas, overpriced tickets. With a strokethe Vermont Frost Heaves will redress all three...." I found myself wishingthose green-bibbed skiers from Friday morning had been able to see what I sawon Sunday night.

> For more onthe team, check out SI.com/frostheaves and www.vermontfrostheaves.com.

PHOTOCHRISTOPHER HERCIK (LOGO) TWO PHOTOSMITCHELL LAYTON (2, WOLFF)HISGIANT - The author/backup guard bonded with Muresan.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)