Frost Heaves dominate ABA

While Marqus Blakely and Mike Trimboli continue to wow capacity crowds in Catamount Country this winter, there is another basketball team making an impact on the Burlington community just a few blocks away at Memorial Auditorium.In their second year in the semi-pro American Basketball Association (ABA), the Vermont Frost Heaves have already netted their first championship and are currently ranked first in the 25-team league.The team features standout players from around the country, including former Catamount Erik Nelson and Burlington native B.J. Robertson. As team founder Alexander Wolff said, the level of play in the ABA is no joke.”The best ABA teams are on a footing with the top-20 college programs,” Wolff said. “The quality of play inthe ABA is at a level that always surprises the first-time fan.”Wolff, a writer for Sports Illustrated since 1980, developed the team as a family operation – his wife, Vanessa, is assistant GM – out of his love for basketball and his belief that a team could prosper in Vermont.”Once word got around that in Vermont they do right by their players, and the fans show support, players actively wanted to come play for us,” Wolff said.Wolff said Vermont’s enthusiasm for the team was the first step towards the Frost Heaves’ success. “We could be choosey,” Wolff said.The ability to be “choosey” has certainly paid dividends for the Frost Heaves – in their first season last year, the Frost Heaves won the ABA championship and are currently ranked first heading in to the ABA playoffs.Not only is the team winning, but in a minor league where fans in big cities can be hard to come by, the fans are showing up to games as well.”To be met more than halfway by so many people in our inaugural season just thrilled me and everyone in the organization,” Wolff said.This season, the team is looking to extend their fan base even further by reaching out to the UVM community.On Saturday, the Frost Heaves featured former UVM basketball players Germain Mopa Njila and David Hehn as part of their “March Madness Day.”UVM students, such as senior Nick Dion, have joined the organization as interns looking to gain experience in the world of professional sports.”One reason I got involved is I felt obligated to support something positive that my friends didn’t really know about,” Dion said.Dion agreed with Wolff in the belief that the Frost Heaves are playing the best basketball in Vermont right now.The Frost Heaves’ regular season schedule concludes next weekend at the Boston Blizzard and the team will host the ABA All-Star game at the Barre Auditorium on March 21 and 22.