[Photo of Terranova provided by Tim Terranova.] [Photo of Patton provided by Michael Patton.] [Photo of Doug Silvernell by www.PhotoandGraphic.com]
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The three finalists have been narrowed down in the Saratoga Springs Central School District search for their new Superintendent. The three finalists are Dr. Michael Patton, Superintendent of South Glens Falls Central School District; Mr. Douglas Silvernell, Assistant Superintendent for 21st Century Teaching and Learning, Saratoga Springs City School District; and Dr. Timothy Terranova, Deputy Superintendent of West Irondequoit Central School District. Each finalist will give a presentation about their “entry plans” should they receive the job.
Terranova presented his entry plan on Tuesday, Sept. 26 at the Saratoga High School. He mostly focused on trust and relationships. His philosophy for his first year is to “engage the community,” according to his presentation.
“Instead of hit the ground running, hit the ground learning,” he said.
Terranova wants to support a smooth and effective transition that includes relationship building and understanding the teaching and learning that occurs in the district as well as understanding the culture and become a true member of the Saratoga Springs community. Terranova is from Rochester, New York and currently resides just outside of that area. He has worked for 24 years in the same district, West Irondequoit Central School District. If selected, he would utilize his entry plan in his post-hiring residence.
“Learning to work with leadership and teaching staff to continue and refine existing systems and processes that improve student learning. Figuring out what works and what doesn’t work. Continuing to strengthen community relationships, including my own family’s immersion into the daily life of Saratoga Springs and beyond,” Terranova concluded.
In regards to why Terranova chose to apply for this position, he said, “Great community and exceptional district with a community feel and a belief in continuous improvement while supporting the whole child, not just academically but socially and emotionally.”
Douglas Silvernell, who has maintained his position as Assistant Superintendent of 21st Century Teaching and Learning for the last five years, presented on Tuesday, Sept. 27. Coming from an adverse childhood and a background of poverty, Silvernell has always rooted for the underdog. If selected, his background of working hard continuously will help to form his entry plan.
His goals are to find a new high school principal, improve already impressive communication skills within the school system, and set boundaries for teachers and principals to make their own decisions within. He intends to take calculated risks in the best interest of the students, as he considers himself to be a children’s crusader.
“Protect those who need to be protected,” Silvernell said, “that is ingrained in me from my childhood.”
“This is a very strong district,” he said enthusiastically, “that did not happen by happenstance.”
Silvernell wrapped up his presentation by restating that he is extremely goal oriented and he has big goals should be chosen for this position.
Dr. Michael Patton, who is set to give his presentation on Tuesday, Oct. 3, has been the Superintendent of South Glens Falls Central School District for the past seven years and could not pass up the opportunity to work in Saratoga Springs School district.
“Having the opportunity to go through the first phases of the interview process and just meet with the different stakeholder groups within the community, I feel strongly that my core values match up with the mission and the vision of the school district. What I’m excited about is to focus on all children and what we can do as a school to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to promote student growth and make sure they can achieve their individual goals. I think every kid is unique and they have special gifts and talents to offer and so communities flourish when we have all individuals participating in our children's education. I’m a true believer in community partnerships and those are things we’ve been able to do here in South Glens Falls that we are really proud of. I think there’s just a tremendous amount of resources in Saratoga Springs that we can build upon and continue to improve not only the academic side but also the social and emotional support that our kids need in order to be successful in school,” Patton said of the opportunity to become a finalist in the Superintendent search.
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The parents interviewed for this piece spoke to Saratoga TODAY on the condition of anonymity because they feared retribution against their children for speaking publicly.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Kekla Magoon, the writer of eight fiction young adult novels, went to Saratoga Springs High School on Friday, Sept. 15 and spoke to the freshmen class. What was marketed to parents as an assembly on writing styles and techniques quickly turned into an assembly on Magoon’s book How It Went Down, a story about a young black man shot by a white man with conflicting narratives on what truly happened that day.
According to parents and students, Magoon utilized her book plot to discuss the Black Lives Matter Movement and police brutality across America and associated those two things with being a social justice warrior.
One parent, who is choosing to remain anonymous to protect their child, said “my son was very distraught because his grandfather, uncle, and now cousin are all police officers. He had to leave his class to hear defamation of police officers like the family members that he idolizes. My son was made to feel like his police officer family members were bad guys.”
“I asked Superintendent Piccirillo and interim Principal Whaley why impressionable ninth graders would be subjected to controversial and inflammatory material without any balance. I asked why no permission slip was needed to miss class like for any other field trip, which is how this was billed. I also asked where in the grade nine English standards social justice advocacy and Black Lives Matter fits, whether this is part of the New York State curriculum,” another concerned parent said.
Another concerned parent described in their own words how their children described the assembly to them, “they said it was about an author and she wrote a book about Black Lives Matter.”
This information led the parent to research the author and discovered that Magoon is the writer of many books, not just on the Black Lives Matter Movement.
“I asked them, ‘did they say anything specifically about President Donald Trump?’ They said no, well not really. When she was talking about one of her books, it was about a young immigrant fighting an evil dictator. ‘You know, similar to what we’re all doing now.’ The kids knew she was talking about Trump,” the parent said.
This parent has not called the school yet but a number of their friends have.
“I’m just disturbed with all of the things happening at the school,” they said.
The students were asked to complete an assignment using news articles but were told to, “only use CNN News because Fox News is fake news. One of the children in the class said there was a bulletin board on the wall that said ‘Fake News’ with Fox on the left and ‘Real News’ with CNN on the right,” the parent explained.
“Why was this author picked? Who approved it? Who watched a video of hers before she came into the school? I try to tell my kids that all lives matter. Singling that out, I feel as though there is an agenda there. I just continue to try and educate and tell my kids that no one knows the full circumstances of when people are killed. We don’t know, we weren’t there. We can only go by what the media tells us,” the parent continued.
One other anonymous parent wondered if the school was not aware of the subject matter and did innocently invite Magoon to speak about writing and to inspire the kids and perhaps she, “went rogue.”
The school has been contacted by multiple concerned parents for explanation and “they refuse to provide answers to these questions and won’t put anything in writing,” a father explained.
“They teased this up as if she was an author just talking about writing. Why was she talking so much about the other topics,” she said.
“I feel as though the school has a political agenda,” she said.
After another incident last year involving an unflattering President Trump cartoon, concerned parents went to the school who said that they would be putting their teachers through sensitivity training.
“I want to see the results of this training. I want to see one, what they did, and two, I haven’t seen any big change coming out of the school that they’re showing both sides. If they are going to be pushing political agenda, which is against school rules, then why aren’t we seeing any Conservative views? Why aren’t we seeing anything from the other side? How about the Military? Why aren’t they showing things about people in the Military who have lost their lives? I feel as though there should be a broader spectrum. My boys did not take away any writing techniques from that assembly,” one parent concluded.
“I don’t want somebody my kids are supposed to be looking up to talking about white men and police brutality when I and my kids do not believe that there is racism in our school,” another parent said, who is choosing to remain anonymous due to job security.
She continued, “I don’t think politics should be talked about in school. I love our school, my kids love our school, I love our city, I love our town. I’m very proud of our school district.”
As we went to press, the school had not responded with a comment or statement.
[Readers are encouraged to post respectful comments regarding the article below.]
[Photo by Barb Tyler Photography]
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Saratoga Rowing Association is putting on its’ annual season-opening regatta on Saturday, Sept. 30 beginning at 8:00 a.m. This 2-mile race is held on Fish Creek in Saratoga Springs. To the right is the schedule of the one-day event. Visit www.saratogarowing.com for more information.
“We look forward to this regatta each fall as it serves two major purposes; it gives our new and younger athletes race prep before larger regattas later this season and it allows us to work through the many logistics that must be well coordinated to off the significantly larger Head of the Fish regatta next month,” said Chris Chase, Regatta Director.
“It will take over 225 people and 3,200 volunteer hours to run the three days of regattas this fall. That’s in addition to all the work put in by our dedicated coaches and staff. Starting off with a smaller regatta really does help us get those systems up and running once again,” Katherine Smith, Director of Development and Volunteer Coordinator stated.
[Photo by Thomas Kika]
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Mike Laudicina, basketball league coordinator at the Saratoga YMCA, originally started the league in 1991 for kids who did not make the JV or Varsity teams at their school, so they would still have a chance to play basketball.
“We found that there were so many young people who were good enough to play on those teams but they can only have so many there. So we started with six teams and ended up when I originally retired in 2009, 24 teams in the league,” said Laudicina.
Laudicina retired in 2009 and then decided to come back in a smaller capacity in 2015.
“I had this passion for basketball and if somebody else comes in and doesn’t have that same passion, sometimes it’s not the same thing on that front burner. So they called me up in 2015 to come back because I had retired. I came back and there were only four teams, 26 boys,” Laudicina explained.
The fall basketball league is co-ed, just how Laudicina prefers it. He is a father of boys and girls and has always demanded that his league be for boys and girls.
“I don’t like leaving out girls because sometimes they’re better than the boys. Especially in the younger years, because physically they’re about the same,” Laudicina said.
This year’s league will have 12 teams and approximately 15 girls playing. When Laudicina came back after retirement there were four teams and this year they are shooting for 12, six in the junior division and six in the varsity division. The junior division is for grades five through eight and the varsity division is for grades nine through 12.
“The league gets kids in here from all over; it’s not just Saratoga, it’s Ballston Spa, Mechanicville, Corinth. The whole area, because there really is nothing for these kids to do so it keeps them out of trouble. They have one practice a week for an hour and then our games are on Sunday mornings, around 10:30 a.m. and goes until all the games are done,” Laudicina explained the league.
There are two coaches per team and nine scheduled games and at least one playoff game as each team makes the playoffs. If your team succeeds in the playoffs, there will be 12 games total.
“The great part about this, is that so many of the coaches played in the league. They want to give back, it’s all volunteers. It’s great to see them come back and say, ‘you know what, it was great for me and I want to make it great for somebody else,” Laudicina said.
Registration fees are $74 for YMCA members and $125 for non-members.
“We have sponsorship money for everything at the Y. Anyone can be sponsored and get scholarships,” Laudicina clarified.
If interested kids come in and they don’t have an active home life and they want to play but they can’t afford to or don’t have the parental involvement to, Laudicina will help them fill out paperwork and get sponsored so that they can still play.
“Some people see the price and they say ‘jeez, that’s a lot’ and they can’t afford to bring their kids in, but there are scholarships that can help!” Laudicina said encouragingly.
Last year the league had around 63 players and 10 of them were fully sponsored. The Over-50 Basketball League had a player pass away and in his honor, they made a collection and they donated it to the younger kids for sponsorships. So that is used to help.
Registration begins Sept. 18 and runs through Nov. 19 with games beginning Dec. 3.
“On November 19, we have something we call Skills Assessment. It’s not a tryout because a tryout means you might not make it. Everybody makes the team; we just want them to be evenly matched. Last year, we had eight teams and in both divisions, there were no teams who didn’t win two or three games and nobody who won every game. Everybody gets to play in the league; everybody has to sit down too. So if you have a star player, they can’t play the whole game,” Laudicina said.
Laudicina has already seen success since he has restarted at the YMCA with his summer league program.
“I couldn’t believe it, up until the day we started people were trying to get in. Once we ordered shirts and everything, there was nowhere to go. So we had a few I couldn’t get in,” he said.
First and second place winners of the fall league receive trophies at the yearly banquet put on by the Elks Club on Maple Ave. The Elks Club also sponsors a team. There is also a James Cudney Award which is for a senior in high school who demonstrates what it means to be a wonderful teammate, student, and volunteer.
“When the league started, I was the youth director here. Kids used to come up to my office and say to me, ‘I saw the paper!’ And I would say, ‘yeah I know! You scored however many points.’ I knew everybody’s name, and I knew what he or she did and it made them feel important. That’s the other thing, to make these kids feel important,” Laudicina wrapped up.
Registration begins Sept. 18, visit www.srymca.org for more information.
[Photos provided by Union College Athletics]
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Union College baseball coach Paul Mound is being inducted into the New York State Baseball Hall of Fame on Nov. 12.
“There is a local organization that runs the only baseball hall of fame organization that is not affiliated with Cooperstown in the country, only New York State offers it. They recognize people that have had an impact on baseball and it doesn’t matter if that impact was professional, umpiring, or if it was sponsoring a little league baseball team. So if you’ve had a longstanding effect on kids in the game of baseball, that’s what gets recognized. In addition, there are some pretty impressive Major League Baseball (MLB) players who also get recognized,” Mound explained.
Coach Mound has been the head coach at Union College for the last seven years. His impact on the baseball program is unprecedented. When he took over the position, he knew that he had to start from the ground up and was very honest with his coaching staff and players.
“We broke every record in Union baseball history. We went 26 and 13 in 2013; I had the conference player of the year, Tyler Heck, in 2013. He was actually offered three MLB contracts as a free agent. In 2014 we won the conference title and the Liberty League Championship and advanced on to the NCAA and that was the first time Union had ever gone to NCAA. In 2016 we won the conference title and NCAA again. We’ve also won the Liberty League Championship three times in the last five years. It has been quite a run for us,” Mound remarked.
Baseball started at Union College in 1860 and was the first sport to ever be played on that campus. In 1860 and 2000, Union’s team won 20 games in a season. When Mound took over the program, the average win-loss record was eight and 28.
“We were abysmal,” Mound laughed, “and two years into my coaching there, we won the Liberty League Championship for the first time in the school’s history.”
“I would say that the program has been building under Coach Mound, I have lived it and I have seen it,” said David Peretti, former captain of the Union baseball team.
Originally from Amsterdam, Mound’s love of baseball started in high school. He played for a program in the 1970’s that held the Guinness Book of World Records title for the most consecutive wins in the history of the game. This record was only recently broken eight years ago. The team he played on in high school won 77 consecutive games.
“I had some pretty great teammates. My high school catcher was a guy named Gary Tuck. He was the Yankees catching instructor during the Joe Torre era and he was the guy responsible for converting Jorge Posada from a second baseman into a catcher,” Mound said nostalgically.
Mound also created the Saratoga Stampede Baseball Club in 2001. This is a travel baseball program that joined the American Legion Baseball League in 2005. Creating this league is also part of the reason he is being inducted. He also coached Saratoga Thunder, a softball team, for a number of years. They held an excellent record of 200 wins and 20 losses, approximately.
Mound was also inducted into the Amsterdam Baseball Hall of Fame in January.
Mound received the call in July that he was to be inducted into the New York State Baseball Hall of Fame.
“They called me in July. They said, ‘congrats you’ve made the cut and you’re going to be inducted on November 12 and here is a list of guys you’re going in with.’ To be honest with you, I said to the guy who runs the committee, ‘what am I even doing on that list?’ Just kind of crazy,” he explained in awe.
Three other Saratogians have been inducted over the years. Fonzie Lambert from Spa Catholic and Dale Wong, also from Spa Catholic, both inducted five years ago, and Pat Pepino who was inducted two years ago.
“To think that there are four of us in that short of a span inducted is extremely humbling,” Mound said.
Mound is assisted at Union College by his son Jeff Mound who is in his eighth year of coaching, Andy Brown, who is also in his eighth year of coaching, associate head coach Art McDonald, who has been coaching alongside Mound for 18 years, and pitching coach Ryan White who is in his second year coaching.
“My entire Union coaching staff, aside from Art, are all prior Saratoga Stampede players,” Mound explained.
He credits his success to the support of his players, community, and the city of Saratoga Springs.
His previous players have nothing but kind things to say about him.
“Coach Mound is really an amazing coach and guy. I’ve never done better than when I played under his wing. He’s the sort of guy who would do anything for you. He’s a great coach and a great guy. He really turned the program around and I don’t have enough positive things to say about him,” said Tyler Heck, former Union College baseball player, who played for three years under Coach Mound.
“What I appreciate from Coach is that he will match your investment and then some. If you showed him the passion and hard work, he would double that back for you. Whether this is in baseball, a job hunt, or whatever life is throwing at you, Coach was happy and proactive to help you get to where you wanted to go,” said Peretti.
“I don’t intend to stop,” Mound said, “I’m about 70 wins away from setting the all-time winnings coach record at Union College in their history. I intend to keep that rolling because that’s the goal I’ve had since the day I started there.”
[Photo provided by David Henahan]
SARATOGA SPRINGS – On September 12 SUNY Cobleskill Presidents Marion Terenzio and SUNY Empire State College President Merodie Hancock announced an agreement to open a “seamless new pathway for business students to earn a graduate degree,” according to the official statement.
This agreement streamlines the process for qualified Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) students at SUNY Cobleskill to transfer into the Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Business Management program at SUNY Empire. Upon qualifying, SUNY Cobleskill BBA students are able to cross-register for up to nine credits of SUNY Empire MBA coursework. To qualify for cross-registration, BBA students must have completed 75 credits and have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.
“SUNY Cobleskill is dedicated to creating learning pathways tailored to continuous and suitable student progress from secondary school through to their desired goals. This new partnership with SUNY Empire State College gives our business students a valuable opportunity to continue seamlessly to a graduate degree program” said Terenzio.
“Today’s agreement with SUNY Cobleskill is all about getting students to complete their MBA in the most convenient, time and cost efficient manner possible, while at the same time, ensuring students receive the high-quality SUNY education they expect, need, and deserve,” said Hancock.
As to how this agreement came to be, Rosalyn Rufer, Ph. D. and interim associate dean of SUNY Empire State College explained, “Former SUNY Chancellor Zimpher repeatedly spoke about shared resources and ‘systemness’ at our SUNY University Faculty Senate Meetings. During one such meeting, I was sitting with Chuck Moran, department chair of Cobleskill’s business program; he was speaking about his business programs at Cobleskill. It gave me the idea of how we could partner and provide an accelerated program for this BBA students through our MBA program, similar to what we do with our BME (Business Management and Economics) students.”
With this accelerated program, full-time Cobleskill students can finish their master’s degree in two semesters. Aside from being a streamlined program, Cobleskill students are able to remain on their campus and avoid traveling to SUNY Empire and scheduling conflicts. All of the MBA classes are online.
“What makes this feasible is the 100 percent online delivery of the Empire State College MBA program,” Rufer said.
All photos by Lori Mahan.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Sequoia Cumming, a senior, is the first female football player for the Saratoga Blue Streaks. She is the kicker for the team and has attempted two kicks thus far this season.
Head Coach Terry Jones, who was an assistant coach for the football team from 1999 until 2007 when he became the head coach, said this is the first female he’s ever had on his team.
“We had an informational meeting last spring for anyone interested in playing football and she showed up. At that meeting, everyone there was given information about summer workouts and everything and she did not miss a single work out all summer. She was one of only two players on our freshmen, JV, or Varsity teams who did not miss a single workout. And here she is. That’s the story,” Jones explained.
Sequoia had her own reasons for playing, “It started out as health reasons, I wanted to take up a sport that was vigorous in the weight room and cardio and physical activity. I did play sports all my life but never through the school so they were never that challenging. I just wanted some kind of crazy goal that I could reach and football was it.”
Coach Jones said that there is no real difference between her and her fellow male team members.
“The only difference is she changes in the locker room across the hall from the rest of the guys. Other than that, there’s no difference. She’s not treated differently at practice; she doesn’t expect to be treated any differently. She’s not treated any differently in the weight room, either. The team has been very open and accepting and I guess the biggest difference, is when I say ‘alright guys let’s go,’ obviously I mean everybody. She just laughs and goes ‘I know,’” Jones explained.
Cumming said her biggest obstacle is the fact that she’s completely new to football. She played soccer her whole life but “kicking a soccer ball is much different from kicking a football. So, it’s just trying to get better at that throughout the whole season. It’s a work in progress,” she said.
Her biggest achievement so far has been in the weight room.
“Seeing your numbers increase in there and seeing it pay off on the field is amazing,” Cumming said.
Jones agrees, “It’s a long process to be the backup kicker, which she is right now, but she doesn’t complain, not a word. She comes to work every day and works hard every day, works to get better every day, and she has gotten better. She’s gotten stronger, her endurance and her abilities when she does kick. They’ve all improved. She’s stronger in the weight room. She was saying she thinks she’s in the best shape of her life. She’s made a lot of new friends and gained a lot of respect of a lot of people.”
The coaches and teammates immediately embraced Cumming, “We’re just one big family, we all work together, and we’re all just trying to get to the same place,” Cumming said.
“Every year during the pre-season we have an event called Meet the Players Night where we bring in the teams and they’re introduced in front of family and friends for the first time in their uniform. I’ve been at Saratoga since 1999 as an assistant and I’ve been the head coach since 2007, and I’ve never seen a player get an ovation from the entire crowd, but she did this year,” Jones laughed.
Cumming on the team has definitely sparked the school body’s interest, but not in a negative way.
“A lot of people ask me about it, they’re curious which I understand. A lot of people say ‘hi, good luck at the game! What time is practice until tonight?’ They’re very interested,” Cumming explained.
When asked if she would continue the sport in college she wasn’t sure.
“I haven’t really decided yet, I think it would be cool to take it on as a club sport in college but I am definitely going to be an avid watcher throughout the rest of my life,” Cumming said.
The Seahawks are her favorite football team.
As with any team sport, there is a magic that happens between a team who are all on board with the same goal.
“Before our first game in Niskayuna, there was this whole energy that I feel like you couldn’t find anywhere else. It was really cool just to see the teammates light up and realize that this is our time to really just prove ourselves on the field,” Cumming explained with a sparkle in her eyes.
“She’s very well liked by the players, I think she’s very well respected by the players for how hard she works out there,” Jones wrapped up.
One thing is certain, Sequoia Cumming is the first female football player in Blue Streaks last 18 years, and that is certainly something to be proud of.
Photos provided by Kim Schaffer.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Pierce Byrne is a 9-year-old with a big love for baseball. His favorite team is The Mets and Giancarlo Stanton, Chris Bryant, and Jose Altuve are his favorite players.
“My dad has played catch with me since I was really little. Then when I turned two, I got my first helmet and first real Mets jersey from my aunts and my grandma sent me my first t-ball set from Ohio,” Byrne said.
In June, Pierce went to Yankee Stadium after winning an MLB Pitch, Hit, and Run local competition at Gavin Park held by Saratoga-Wilton Youth Baseball. He won three out of the four categories; Pitching, hitting, and overall in the 7/8-year-old group.
The National Competition at Yankee Stadium was state level in which he came in second. Had he won first place, he would have advanced to the all-star game. The competition consisted of each kid throwing six pitches and seeing how many strikes they got, hitting a ball off a t and calculating how far and straight it went, and then they ran the bases and calculated the time it took. It was based on a point system and if you came in first, you advanced to the all-star game in Florida. Byrne has competed in similar competitions, the Elks Hoop Shoot and MLB Home Run Derby.
“So I was able to compete at the sectional level that was also held at Gavin Park. Then the champions competition at Yankee Stadium, but only if I had one of the top three overall points for all of the Yankee market which included New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut,” Byrne said.
Byrne is a pitcher, first baseman, third basemen, shortstop, and catcher. He also plays basketball.
“Stepping onto the field was unbelievable! It was so much different than being in the stands. There was a crew cleaning and prepping the field for the game and for us. There were even bomb sniffing dogs going around the field. When I looked around the stands, it was like a dream come true,” Byrne said of the Yankee Stadium experience.
“It was certainly a good competition and Pierce is a fantastic player,” said Steve Kantscheidt, Community Outreach board member of Saratoga-Wilton Youth Baseball.
Byrne was not able to meet any of his heroes at the competition but he did get to see Aaron Judge hit a 459-foot home run.
Byrne’s said his favorite thing about baseball is, “playing with my friends, hitting long balls, and throwing strikes.”
The thing he looks most forward to about the upcoming season is, “being back on the field.”
Photos provided by Joe Rigabar.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Saratoga American Little League and Wilton Youth Baseball have combined their forces to form Saratoga-Wilton Youth Baseball. In October, Interim President, Joe Rigabar, is being sworn in. Originally involved with Saratoga American Little League, as president, after his oldest son Jack began playing t-ball, he approved of the combination of the leagues.
“My oldest son started playing t-ball about four years ago when he was five years old and one of my neighbors at the time was the president of the Saratoga American Little League and realizing that his kids were starting to get older and age out of the program, and knowing that I was a baseball guy, he asked me to be a little bit more involved and join the board,” said Rigabar.
The two leagues decided to combine about 18 months ago after a decline in numbers in each league, spurring a conversation about dissolving the leagues and then creating a combined one.
“There’s a lot of history there that comes from before my involvement in it, but when we started the conversations up again, probably about 18 months ago, it was driven by the declining numbers of kids playing baseball here in Saratoga and Wilton and while we were still able to produce enough players to have enough teams to have fun. Wilton’s numbers were declining as well and it made all the sense in the world for us to come together and join forces and the result has been incredible. Better than anyone has ever anticipated. In fact, we’re seeing numbers on the rise over the last 18 months and I think there’s excitement over baseball again in Saratoga and Wilton which is great,” Rigabar explained.
This merger did not have a significant impact on the different set of rules between the leagues. Wilton has always played Cal Ripken Baseball and Saratoga had a dual-charter with Ripken and Little League but over the years Saratoga American Little League had gravitated more toward the Cal Ripken rules.
“As the kids get older, they get to the point where they want to start playing baseball more resembling the game,” Rigabar said.
The changes were small after the merger happened. The pitching mound is 50 yards versus 46 yards now, the bases are 70 yards versus 60 yards so it “resembles more to the game of baseball and it was easy for us to come together in terms of rules,” Rigabar clarified.
“As we merged, I was very involved with representing Saratoga American Little League and Jared Dinsmore, current president, was the president of Wilton Youth Baseball and we came together along with a committee and really drove this thing through. We officially merged last fall and there was a discussion around who should be the president. I felt very strongly that Jared should be the president, his son was 12 at the time and so it was his last year playing youth baseball and he had just done a really nice job with the league throughout his tenure there and it was obvious to me that he should be the one to take over that president’s role. Then over the course of the last couple months, after we completed the season, and started thinking about fall ball, he decided to step down,” Rigabar remarked.
Aside from being incoming president of the league, Rigabar is also coaching a recreational minors team with some friends and he has coached the all-star team the last few years.
Fall Ball started on Sept. 9 and will run for six weeks, through Oct. 14. T-Ball is ages four to six, rookie is ages seven to eight, minors is ages nine to 10, majors is ages 11 through 12, and Babe Ruth is ages 13 – 15. Over 300 kids are playing this fall. Games take place on Saturdays during Fall Ball.
“It’s a lot of work and effort and responsibility and it’s also very rewarding to see the league and to be out there on Saturday mornings to walk around and see kids with smiles on their faces. So it has been a very smooth and natural transition as we head into the next year,” Rigabar said confidently.
Rigabar played baseball his entire adolescence and through college.
“I played little league growing up. My father was the athletic director and varsity baseball coach at my high school so I played throughout high school and went on to college to play at Providence College. I played shortstop,” he explained.
Rigabar is a die-hard Yankee fan for life. His father used to take him to games when he was younger and he is to this day, a big Derek Jeter fan.
“My fondest memory as a baseball fan is more recent. It’s the opportunity to coach my oldest son Jack and be out on the field with him and his buddies. That’s what’s most enjoyable for me,” Rigabar said proudly.
The league is always looking for coaches and volunteers. Spring ball registration starts in January. The league is not limited to Saratoga Springs and Wilton families; it is open to the surrounding areas as well. Currently, there are players from South Glens Falls, Glens Falls, Hudson Falls, Corinth, and Schuylerville.
“It’s really all about having fun, hopefully developing a love for baseball, and teaching fundamentals of the game, and getting them ready for the spring where a lot of kids are moving up a level. Anybody can play, everyone plays equally, and we rotate positions. We keep it fun. If you’re looking to play baseball, we’d love to have you,” Rigabar said excitedly.
Photos provided by Dan Forbush and GSNENY.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Pitney Farm has had a very busy summer with numerous activities and projects. The Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York (GSNENY) teamed up with them to create a fairy village. The GSNENY also kept busy this summer at the farm by painting rock markers, creating scarecrows, planting sunflowers, and growing food for Franklin Community Center. When it came time to create their fairy village, the Girl Scouts used natural materials such as bark, stones, and twigs.
“Girl Scouts in Brownies had the opportunity to earn the painting badge and outdoor art creator badge in a program at the farm on Saturday, Aug. 26. Juniors had the opportunity to earn the drawing badge and the outdoor art explorer badge on the same day. The last requirement for both Brownies and Juniors on the outdoor art badge is to design with nature. The fairy house decorating project fits in perfectly to complete the badge,” said Jess Clauser, Girl Scout leader at Dorothy Nolan Elementary, who is leading the art program in the Community Gardens.
“The Girl Scouts are an important and delightful aspect of the garden. They are full of enthusiasm and spirit. My goal is to share the love of gardening I developed as a young person with others and hopefully they will enjoy being in nature, growing healthy food, and get a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in preparing foods that they have had a hand in growing with their families and friends,” said Natalie Walsh, Gardens Director.
Walsh has been the garden's director since the spring and her responsibilities include overseeing the development of the gardens.
The GSNENY fairy village will be on display Saturday, Sept. 16 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
“For the fairy house/garden decorating project each girl will get a small wood birdhouse as their starting off point. The houses have been pre-painted with milk paint and approved for use by Natalie. The houses are many different shapes and painted many different colors. The girls will decorate the houses, and then come to the event and the farm to place them into the fairy garden. The first event will be a fairy tea party! The girls can dress up or wear their fairy or butterfly wings if they own them, but it is not mandatory,” Clauser said.
Snacks such as cakes, cookies, and sandwiches will be provided at the fairy tea party and each girl will take a picture with their fairy house. They will have the opportunity to pick out a place in the fairy garden and situate their house.
“I have been involved in every aspect from the planting of the first seeds, to the construction of the raised beds, organizing volunteers, reaching out to the community and more. I have helped new gardeners get started, taught gardening skills on Saturday mornings, planned and planted the sunflower fields, organized events and publicity, and met with community members to let people know what a wonderful resource exists here. Each day is different,” Walsh explained.
Also at Pitney Farm this summer, community organizations such as the Mentoring Group, Saratoga Bridges, Saratoga Transitional Services, the Girl Scouts came regularly and worked in the garden.
“The farm under community ownership is brand new this year and the Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York got in on the ground floor. Our first project was painting and decorating rocks for the herb garden,” said Clauser.
“In fact,” Walsh said, “Saratoga Bridges has helped me harvest food that I then deliver to the Franklin Community Center’s food pantry. Community supporting community. That’s a big part of the Community Garden’s mission. We are currently working on creating even more community involvements through the schools and senior center.”
This summer, Pitney Farm also ran a series of classes for adults on gardening and art classes for children to experience the garden through painting and drawing.
There are several children activities in the garden, including, a mini farm created by Judy Brunner. A pasture with fences and a pond with many animals you’d see on a farm surround this mini farm.
The garden also had much success with their food production; many tomatoes, kale, Swiss chard, tomatillos, herbs, melons, pumpkins, and much more had healthy crops.
In the spring, community members planted their own Mammoth sunflower seed, which they tended to all summer.
“Now the plants are fully grown and will be measured at 2:15 p.m. on Saturday the 16th. They are measured for height. The tallest wins,” Walsh said.
The Pitney Farm also rehabilitated their old barn this summer with the help of many community members, Habitat for Humanity, and students from local schools.
The Community Garden has more planned for the fall and they need volunteers to help make it happen. If you’re interested, visit www.pitneymeadowscommunityfarm.org for more information.