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Jan. 9, 2008
TEAM CLIF BAR and the ABA Basketball Vermont Frost Heaves
For the ’08 season Team Clif Bar has signed the Vermont Frost Heaves to a team sponsorship as the basketball team defends its 2007 ABA title. While the Clif offices are chock full of basketball fans, we haven’t really done a whole lot of work within the sponsorship side of the sport. So when the opportunity came along to work with the Frost Heaves it just made sense—for a number of reasons:
It never hurts to have national champions on the roster who can offer us useful feedback on our energy foods and drinks. And add to that that they play with the oh-so-stylish red, white & blue ball of the ABA in a very fan-focused league. But in addition to all the cool basketball details they’re also an organization that’s committed to sustainable practices—they’re setting a nice example within the basketball world.

We’re definitely excited to see where this sponsorship relationship leads. And if you happen to be in the Vermont area please check out the team as they shoot for back-to-back ABA championships!

Here’s some info about the team from Alexander Wolff, the team’s President & G.M.:

Among the words you’ll never hear in a pro basketball locker room are bonk and gorp. I know, because I’d spent a quarter century covering basketball as a writer for Sports Illustrated until, seized by momentary madness, I decided to start a pro hoops team in my adopted state of Vermont.

Believe me, I know of juxtapositions. As much as Clif products are associated with extreme and endurance athletes, Vermont is known for white-steepled churches on village greens—that is, as a milieu for things other than pro basketball. This did not impede the Vermont Frost Heaves, during our first season in the American Basketball Association, from putting together a 34-6 record to win the 2006-07 ABA title.

Indeed, in some ways we leveraged anomalies to achieve our success. No slick arenas in Vermont? All the better—we played in classic auditoriums in Barre and Burlington, gritty towns (Vermont has ’em!) where fans love the intimacy, atmosphere and tradition of the old buildings. President and G.M. (that’s me) can’t make up his feeble mind whom to pick as coach? We asked the fans to do so over the Internet, in the spirit of the New England Town Meeting—and the guy they chose, Will Voigt, a 30-year-old from the smallest high school in the state, was named ABA Coach of the Year.

People’s ‘tude toward pro basket’s in the dumpster because of selfish and antisocial behavior at the NBA level? We make sure the Frost Heaves stand for something more, as the first pro basketball team ever to offset its carbon footprint for a season; and stand among the people, as our guys mix and mingle after every home game, handing out mini-Clif Bars with autographs.

Some of our players are romantics aspiring to that NBA dream. Others are guys simply not ready to give up on the hoops life, or Vermont kids determined to seize on the good fortune of a pro team landing at their doorstep. One of them, center Erik Nelson, has a bit of the adventure-sports spirit in him. A star at the University of Vermont, he spent nine seasons in the Dutch first division before he and his wife decided last summer to move back to the Green Mountains. Erik has salvaged a dilapidated barn in East Montpelier, and intends to use the lumber for a home he’s building in Vermont’s Mad River Valley. And like the team he plays for—the Frost Heaves have our own online community, the Bump In the Road Club, named after what a frost heave is and stream free Webcasts, live and on-demand,—Erik understands the power of the Web. Working with a couple of collaborators, he cooks up brief art videos and “mash-ups,” which can be seen on his sites, and

I’ll introduce other guys on the team as the season unspools. Meantime, the Heaves are thrilled to be the first basketball team ever to affiliate with Team Clif Bar. We love the fact that Shot Bloks is one of the products in the Clif portfolio, given that shot blocks is something Erik and fellow bigs Dokun Akingbade, John Bryant and Issa Konare aspire to.

P.S.—The guy would be delighted if anyone cared to sample how they play the game: The Heaves (hmmmm—that word does have connotations of bonking, doesn’t it?) are 15-3 right now, with home games this weekend against Manchester (Saturday at 4) and Montreal (Sunday at 2)—both Webcasts are free.

Photo credit: Roger Crowley
Posted by:
Le Sensation American
Team Clif Bar

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We like getting our heart rates up, taking a big breath of fresh air, savoring delicious food. But we also love telling stories and here's where we type 'em up. (BTW, it works both ways; leave a comment—please and thank you.)

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