[Photos courtesy of Ray Toohey.]
BALLSTON SPA – Coach Ray Toohey has an amazing lineup for his Varsity football team this year including four “vital” players.
Jake Cook is the starting linebacker and tight-end.
“A natural leader and phenomenal player with a very sound technique. He had 94 defensive tackles last year,” Coach Toohey said.
Tyler Barnes, starting defensive end and offensive tackle, “he’s also a state champion wrestler. He’s a tough kid, about 185 pounds but playing like he’s 210,” Toohey said of Barnes.
Jason McCarthy, only a junior but is on his third year on the varsity team, is the two-way starter running back linebacker.
“Jason was one of our top running backs and defensive players last year, he is an exceptional player,” Toohey said.
Joe McDonald, “Joe took a couple years off and came back to the game last year. He ended up being a starter on defense last year and now he’s a two-way starter for us. A great athlete and a great leader.”
Ryan O’Reilly, Jason Onsman, Matt Corwin, and Matt Murphy assist Toohey.
“Right now, it’s all about getting the scheme down,” Toohey said.
There are five sophomores on varsity and, “every single one of them is either starting or involved in the rotation somewhere. They are very good players. They are kids that have earned out trust through off season commitment too,” Toohey spoke highly of the sophomores.
“More than anything, we’re thrilled at the amount of kids we have this year. We have 41 kids and I know compared to some of the other Double A’s that may not sound all that impressive but we’ve never had 40 kids on the roster that I’m aware of. We’re very happy with where we’re at numbers wise. These are all kids that really buy in and care a lot about team goals,” Toohey said.
“We don’t have a ton of seniors,” Toohey continued, “but the ones that we do have are great. And most of our starters are sophomores and juniors so the future looks bright. We know that playing at the Double A level, there is never a week where it’s anything other than competitive. It’s a war every week.”
The Ballston Spa Scotties play their first game against the Albany Falcons on Saturday, September 2 at 1:00 p.m.
[Photo provided by Maura Manny.]
SARATOGA SPRINGS — On August 24, 19 additional students from the class of 2017 graduated from Saratoga High School in the MacFadden Administration Building.
Assistant Principal Kevin Wolpert, “spoke about the resilience each student displayed to
get their high school diploma and how proud he was of each of them,” according to the press release.
Superintendent Michael Piccirillo and Board of Education President JoAnne Kiernan presented the diplomas.
[Photo provided by Saratoga Springs Public Library.]
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Jennifer Ogrodowski is the youth services director of Saratoga Public Library and she took the time to describe the upcoming programs in the library this fall.
“We are really excited to unveil our One-Thousand Books Before Kindergarten Program. We have not done anything like this before,” said Ogrodowski.
e One-Thousand Books Before Kindergarten Program is an educational program that promotes reading to newborns, infants, and toddlers. is pro- gram will start at the library Sept. 1.
As far as the library as a whole, “we have everything from yoga to S.T.E.A.M. family events to multi-cultural stories, and we also offer parenting programs,” Ogrodowski noted, using an acronym for science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.
For infants specifically, the library is offering new music, movement and play programs for ages up to 18 months. Music, Movement, and Play will be 45-minute classes in which caregivers can bring infants to
the Crenshaw Story Room to engage in musical play, peek-a- boo, singing and bouncing, and other activities suitable for that age range.
“Music, Movement, and Play should be a lot of fun,” Ogrodowski exclaimed.
On Wednesday, Oct. 11 at 6:00 p.m. in the H. Dutcher Community Room, there will be a Roller Derby event. Different members from roller derby teams come and talk to the kids in attendance, they’ll share video clips, and listen to all the stories and fun the roller derby members have.
“As part of our long range plan we’re focusing on sustainability this year and in the years to come so I think that’ll have a nice impact on some of the pro- grams that we o er and some of the ways that we go about library procedures and things like that. We’re really trying to incorporate that initiative into our daily lives,” Ogrodowski said.
The Saratoga Public Library is open Monday through Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sunday noon to 5:00 p.m. For more information, contact 518-584- 7860 or visit www.sspl.org.
[Photos provided by Gloria Griskowitz]
SARATOGA SPRINGS — On Aug. 6 through 13 the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta (RCHR) took place in Ontario, Canada.
The Saratoga Rowing Association (SRA) traveled to Ontario to participate with both women and men athletes, ranging in age from 14 to 23 years old.
“The RCHR is hailed as a top amateur rowing event in North America. Each year they welcome international competitors and visitors from across Canada, the US, Europe, Africa, Australia and Latin America. This year, the 135th Annual RCHR event brought in over 2800 participants,” according to the SRA press release.
Of 32 events entered by SRA, they won 12 heats, won three semi-finals, seven boats were in the top three finishers in the finals, and two boats won their finals earning a coveted RCHR Gold Medal.
“While the team performed well from top to bottom, and we placed many crews into the finals of many events, the big win for 2017 was the fact that the boat team won their first gold medal at this prestigious event. They raced against 63 crews from places as far away as Florida, California, Calgary, and China,” said SRA Executive Director Eric Catalano.
The Regatta only hands out gold medals, which is different from many other Regattas.
When asked why this Regatta only hands out gold medals, Catalano said: “They believe that every boat that makes it to a final is worthy of a medal, so they feel that gold is the only medal to be awarded. There is also uniqueness about the RCHR and the fact that you need to actually win to take home a Henley medal. This year’s medals were also a one-off unique, made for the 135th anniversary of the RCHR.”
“Winning a Henley gold medal is incredibly prestigious and difficult. It is cause for big celebration at SRA every time one of our boats ends up on the podium,” Catalano explained.
As with all team travel, the athletes were self-funded.
“SRA hires buses or vans and books hotel rooms for the entire team and then divides the costs amongst all the attendees. We only fundraise for extreme events like our trip to Australia in 2013,” said Catalano.
The Royal Canadian Henley is an annual event for the Saratoga Rowing Association and is the highlight Regatta of their summer season.
[Photos courtesy of Eric Huss and Lori Mahan]
SARATOGA SPRINGS – This past week Eric Huss flew three American Ninja Warriors, Jamie Rahn, Brian Arnold, and Jake Murray to his home in Saratoga Springs to host a week of camps for kids in the area. Selling out immediately and a wait-list of over 300 kids, Huss knew that his mission, to create a space “where kids could just be kids” was about to get even more fun.
Huss turned his prohibition era garage into a ninja gym because he was just trying to be a great dad. His kids love the show and compete in ninja type style competitions for fun. While in Colorado last year, Huss was able to meet and speak with these American ninjas and pick their brains about the obstacle courses. From there, he created his own.
Saratoga was taken by surprise to see the Warriors waiting in line for breakfast the other day, whispering excitedly to each other as they realized what was going on. They were in the area for only a week and in that short amount of time they threw a fundraiser and helped local kids dream of being a ninja come true.
“This camp is basically just 12 kids playing. There are only three rules; Have fun, no parents, no arguing,” Huss explained.
“There are plans to open a bigger space. An actual business,” Huss revealed.
On Monday night the ninjas and Huss threw a fundraiser for the Franklin Community Center where about 100 kids showed up with their families. For two and a half hours, the guys sat and signed things for kids, met with them, and about $300 was raised for the center.
“We wanted to do something for the kids that were unable to meet the guys and were on the wait lists,” Huss said.
Five free entries were given to kids who were the first to answer specific questions on the Ninja Garage Facebook page and they were then able to participate in the camp.
Safety and fun are Huss’ number one goals as a father and as the operator of his gym. The camp itself is structured with the ninjas showing the kids how to successfully use specific obstacles such as the quintuple steps and variations of that, plus different techniques to successfully complete those. They also help them with balance and precision work, upper body strength, and the warp wall, which is a huge obstacle on the show that Huss has recreated in his own garage. Huss receives no money for his gym. Instead, all of the entry fees went toward the ninjas who flew in to run the camps.
Open gym is held weekly, for more information check out www.facebook.com/SaratogaNinjaGarage/.
[Photo Courtesy of the Saratoga Hurricanes]
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Saratoga Hurricanes, a 16u travel softball team with 13 players from Ballston Spa, Shenendehowa, Schuylerville and Saratoga County. The team traveled to Ocean City, Maryland to play in the USSSA World Series which had 76 teams, in which the Hurricanes finished second, come from as far as Colorado to compete.
“I think one of the things that is important to know about the team, is that six girls on the team are actually 14 and under eligible. So they were actually playing up a level of competition,” Coach Dave Garrison remarked.
In the start of the competition, each team plays three games in a pool in order to get their seed number. The Saratoga Hurricanes were number one in their pool. They also won seven additional games in bracket play. The Hurricanes then went on to win three more games to enter the finals. They beat a team from Michigan, Ulster County, and Canada. In the finals, The Diamond Girls of Buffalo, New York beat the Hurricanes 6 to 2.
Coach Dave Garrison has been coaching softball for 16 years and has been head coach for the Saratoga Hurricanes for the last two.
When asked how the girls felt about coming in second in the finals after losing to the Diamond Girls, Garrison said, “the girls were really excited about it. It was honestly a player one through thirteen team effort. The girls all really played their roles well and it was honestly why we were able to go as far as we did.”
Four home runs were scored during the competition. Alexis Garrison hit two, Sophia Caputo, Jenna Rivers, and Teagan Andrews each hit one.
“What is really good about travel softball for girls, is what they’ll remember about this tournament that wasn’t just about softball. On Friday the semi-finals were rained out. You sit around and you wait. Well, the Hurricanes and the Diamond Girls and the team from Michigan, all met out in the parking lot and started turning up the music. They had a big dance off and all the girls were dancing in different groups and really having a fun time. And it was really cool to see teams that were competing on the field be able to take a break away from it and understand that ‘hey you know what, when it’s all said and done, we’re all friends.’ And that’s something that is really cool to see,” Garrison reminisced.
The Saratoga Hurricanes are already holding try-outs for their upcoming season that starts up again after Labor Day Weekend.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – On Tuesday, Aug. 22 and Wednesday, Aug. 23, educators from across the Capital District gathered for a two-day program and became students again to participate in hands-on activities and curriculum lessons focused on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.).
The event, SEMI Foundation’s High Tech U, is in its tenth year in conjunction with New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) and was held at the union’s headquarters in Latham. The curriculum for this event is designed for local classrooms in the new school year.
Since the inception of the event, more than 600 New York State educators have partaken and nearly 40 teachers did this week alone. A reception to celebrate the tenth year took place Wednesday at NYSUT. There were industry instructors from Applied Materials, KLA-Tencor and Global Foundries, all of whom were supporters of the program this year.
“This has been an incredibly fruitful partnership,” NYSUT President Andrew Pallotta said.
The goal of the event was to educate the educators.
“Teachers never stop learning and NYSUT is proud to offer this well-regarded, proven professional development opportunity to so many of our members,” Pallotta continued.
New York State United Teachers is a statewide union that was formed in 1960 and now has over 600,000 members.
The SEMI Foundation has been around since 2001 and their mission is, “a commitment to helping high school students gain a better understanding of how Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics are used to solve ‘real world problems,’” according to the organization’s website.
Since its inception, SEMI Foundation has reached over 6,900 students in 12 states and nine countries.
SEMI High Tech U’s program features workshops that are activity-based and taught by tech professionals. The activities include lighting up the room with an experiment facilitated by an engineer; making your own wafer with a manufacturing engineer; launching hacky sacks with quality engineers to see the importance of statistics; becoming a human calculator; and flexing your teamwork skills to solve a real-world problem, among other diverse S.T.E.M. activities.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Michael and Greg Veitch are a father son duo that has spent their lives living in Saratoga Springs. Several generations of their family, since at least the 1890s, has been involved in horse racing. Michael Veitch has been a writer for The Saratogian and The Pink Sheet since 1979, his specialty on the New York Racing Association (NYRA), so it only made sense that he would write two books on the history of the Saratoga Race Course.
He has never owned racing horses and always felt that as long as he was writing about them, “whether it was innocent or not, I didn’t think it was proper for me to own a racehorse. I think that I need to stay on the sideline and be free to write what I wish to write and I’ve had that privilege.”
Foundation of Fame covers the track from its inception in 1863 up until 1900.
“I decided to start at the beginning, which is 1863, and I was rather surprised to find out that as far as I know, no one had ever covered those first 37 years, in particular, recording all of the major stakes winners and things like that. I broke it off at 1900 because that was the year that William C. Whitney purchased Saratoga and in my view, saved the race track,” Michael said.
His second book, “Summit of Champions,” covers the track from 1901 up until 1955.
“I selected 1905 as a natural break point because that was the year that the Saratoga Association for the Improvement of the Breed, the real true private owners of the race track, went out of business, having been in business for 90 years. 1955 is the creation legislatively of NYRA,” Michael clarified.
Michael plans to write a third and final book in his trilogy which will cover the years 1955 up until 2008 because that is the year the track surrendered its’ properties to the state of New York.
Michael talked about both books in great length at the museum’s event Monday night. He has served in a lot of capacities at the National Museum and Racing Hall of Fame for nearly 25 years. He was a trustee of the museum and remains a chairman on the historical review committee.
“I have been happy to have something for Saratogians to put their hands on that is fairly well researched history of the track. It’s the joy of having Saratogians say, ‘I really enjoyed your book,’” Michael said.
Greg Veitch is the Saratoga Springs Chief of Police and has been for the last four years. On Monday night, he discussed his first book, “All the Law in the World Won’t Stop Them,” a book that is a retelling of a whole history of Saratoga Springs that a lot of people “may not remember. It paints a vastly different picture of Saratoga,” Greg stated.
This book focuses on the crime, corruption, and gambling in Saratoga Springs up until 1921, right before prohibition.
“As a kid, one of the earliest memories I have is going to a family reunion at the Olde Bryan Inn where my family used to live. So one of my earliest memories is having the older men at the reunion tell me all about my great-grandfather who may have possibly been involved in a gangland murder in the 1930s in Saratoga Springs. Well, I had this story in my head for my whole life, I’ve become a police officer and 10 years after that I found myself down in the archives and on a whim, I picked up the oldest case file that we have and it’s the same story that my great-grandfather was allegedly involved in. Except, my great-grandfather is nowhere near this murder. I did a presentation for the history museum for that murder and when I was done, someone walked up and said, ‘hey you should write a book,’” Greg said.
Researching that murder led to the discovery of other murders during that timeframe in Saratoga Springs that he found interesting. Nothing in the books comes from any old case files the Saratoga Police Department has. It took Greg about five years to find a narrative and flow that he considered fitting and interesting for his book. His book is based on previous stories that have been mentioned in local gangster autobiographies and he has expanded on them.
“I hope people enjoy and appreciate the book. One of the motivations for doing this was to kind of have a central resource for people who wanted to understand this part of Saratoga history. If nothing else, it’s a record of what happened then, to the best of my abilities to tell it,” Greg said.
“As far as our talk went, I was thrilled to be doing something like this with my father. I think that’s pretty unique,” Greg concluded.
“I’m very proud of Greg,” Michael added.
Greg’s book can be purchased at Northshire Bookstore on Broadway and Michael’s can be found on Amazon.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Man O’ War, voted the greatest horse of the 20th century by Sports Illustrated and The Blood Horse, is still considered to be the fastest horse ever. Author Ann Reilly was surprised that there was very little literature written about him so she decided to write a fiction book with historical accuracy. Her book, Man O’ War and Will Harbut: The Greatest Story in Horse Racing History, is a fictional account told through the voice of Will Harbut. Taking place at Glen Riddle Farms, owned by Sam Riddle, Man O’ War lived out his days there after being retired to stud two years after his racing career began. Visitors would come to tour the stables and Harbut would take them around to all of the other popular horses, such as U.S. Triple Crown winner War Admiral and Crusader, hyping the visitors up for the main attraction, Man O’ War. It is estimated that one to three million visitors came to the farm over the years Man O’ War spent his retirement there. Harbut was extremely dedicated to being a groom, especially to his favorite, Man O’ War.
What started as a joke in Kentucky, that Harbut and Man O’ War could not live without each other, proved accurate when Harbut had a stroke and could no longer care for him. He would still visit the horse until he passed away Oct. 3, 1948.
“There was a moving story told by Man O’ War’s new groom. Man O’ War kept staring down the drive way and refused to go in the stall. The new groom couldn’t get him inside; he was just staring down the driveway. So some think he was looking for Will, some think he saw Will’s spirit, but it took him like 15 minutes to get him to walk backwards in to the stall. And then he laid down and passed away two days later on November 1,” Reilly retold.
Sam Riddle held a state funeral in honor of the horse. Riddle had a casket built big enough for Man O’ War and mourners came to bid farewell. The funeral was radio broadcasted by NBC Radio.
From a very young age, Reilly has been knowledgeable about Man O’ War. Her grandfather would take her to his memorial, set up where he trained in Maryland, and would educate her on the horse and his racing career. Reilly’s grandfather’s neighbor was friends with the Riddle’s and would also regale Reilly with stories about Man O’ War, sparking her interest very early on.
“When I realized there had been nothing done on Man O’ War, I wrote a movie script first and I didn’t get anywhere with it by banging on doors. So then I went backwards and wrote the book,” Reilly said.
Reilly has a PhD in sports psychology and has written for several equestrian magazines, such as Sidelines Magazine, where she wrote the sports psychology column for 12 years. She has also written for a number of other horse magazines, along with writing a book on sports psychology called A Sport Psychology Workbook for Riders. Reilly mainly works with riders and has worked with horses in the beginning stages of their career and horses all the way up to Olympic level. She is also an avid rider of thoroughbreds.
“A lot of people, probably 60 - 70 years old, don’t have a clue about Man O’ War. So that was another reason I wanted to write this book,” Reilly said.
Man O’ War produced a lot of successful offspring including Triple Crown winner War Admiral whom was sired with Brushup.
This year is Man O’ War’s 100th birthday celebration. In honor of that, the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame hosted a birthday party for Man O’ War on March 29 of this year. Man O’ War made his first appearance in Saratoga Springs in 1919, appearing first in the United States Hotel Stakes on Aug. 2. Man O’ War won easily, beating a colt named Upset by two lengths, even though he had 130 pounds on his back. Also on March 29 of this year, the Kentucky horse park where he is buried hosted a big celebration in his honor. Many people came out to celebrate this legendary horse.
Man O’ War is also featured in the Man O’ War Project is a non-profit organization whose mission is “to support the first university-led research trial aimed specifically at veterans diagnosed with PTSD to determine the effectiveness of Equine-Assisted Therapy for treating PTSD (EAT-PTSD) and to establish manualized guidelines for the application of EAT-PTSD,” according to their website.
On Aug. 26, Travers Day, Reilly will be hosting a book signing in the Saratoga Pavilion at the Saratoga racetrack.
“This book is more about the human and horse bond,” Reilly concluded.
Her book is on sale now at the Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame gift shop and will be available to purchase at her signing on Aug. 26. It is also available on amazon.
Clifton Park — Petra Acker is a 24 year old from Clifton Park, New York currently training to earn a spot on the 2018 Winter Olympic Team. She is a Long Track Speed Skater, specifically long distance events. Acker trains with the US All-Around National team in Salt Lake City, Utah under coach Tom Cushman, she also has two coaches back home in New York, Pat Maxwell and Paul Marchese, who also participate in her training.
“It’s a team effort and I have great people on my side!” Acker gushed.
This will be her third Olympic Trial, after participating as the youngest competitor at the 2010 trials at just 16 years old. She has competed on the World Cup circuit for many years, along with the Junior World Championships at 15, which was her first international competition. Last year, Acker took on the World Single Distance Championships in South Korea at their Olympic venue as part of the team pursuit, which took sixth place.
Acker trains for six hours a day, “some days are more, some days are less,” she said.
Her training incorporates different types of cross training, especially during the summer months.
“Daily, you can find me running on the track, cycling, inlining, lifting weights, doing dry land, which specifically targets skating muscles and techniques, and skating both long track and short track,” she explained.
Acker keeps her schedule rigid and busy, “In racing season, we general get to the rink around 8:00 a.m. and finish around 12:00 p.m. Then I’ll eat lunch and try to sneak in a little nap if I have time. Around 2:00 p.m. or 3:00 p.m. we will start our second session, which usually lasts two to three hours. Then I’ll go home, eat dinner, and pass out pretty early.”
Acker was a homeschooled student and needed to fulfill a physical education. Her mom contacted Acker’s grandfather, Howard Ganong, an internationally ranked Masters skater, and asked him if he would take her to the rink and teacher her how to skate.
“Despite holding on desperately to the sideboards and falling my way around the rink the first few times, I loved it. Eventually when I could skate on my own, he would time me and I would always respond with, ‘okay let’s go again, I know I can go faster!’ The rest is history,” Acker recalled.
Acker has faced a few setbacks in her career, as any athlete can.
“Going into the 2014 Olympic Trails, I had been skating well and had a strong chance of making the team. I ended up finishing fourth in my distance which didn’t qualify me. That loss broke my spirit and for the next year and a half I really struggled. My results were really poor so I moved back home to New York from Utah and decided to take a break from the sport. After a few months off, I decided I wanted to continue and I’ve now come back even stronger with a renewed passion and greater focus,” Acker said.
That renewed passion and focus certainly paid off. “I skated personal best times last season, finishing on the podium in all my events at the US Championships. I’m feeling more fit than ever so I am hopefully anticipating skating some more personal bests this season,” Acker informed me.
Acker is ready to move forward with her skating dreams.
“With the heartbreaking setback of missing the 2014 team, and the death of my father last year, I think my greatest achievement in the sport is that I’m still here and I’m still fighting,” she said.
Acker’s father took her to all of her practices and also fell in love with the sport, becoming involved as an official.
“Skating was ‘our thing” and both him and my mom have unconditionally supported me since the beginning. His dream became seeing me accomplish my dream of becoming an Olympian, and he went above and beyond anything I could ask to help me realize that. Whenever I have imagined making my first Olympic team, the greatest moment was imagining crossing the finish line and having my dad’s face be the first I see and the tears and hug we would share. He always told me, ‘skating is what you do, not who you are.’ I know he loved me and was proud of me even if I never become an Olympian. I want to finish this journey we started together for the both of us, and that is an inspiration that fuels me,” Acker explained.
“I love waking up every day and having the opportunity to challenge myself and push my limits. There is an insane amount of pressure being an elite athlete, sometimes that can be extremely draining, but it also teaches you how to cope with difficult situations that can carry over into other areas of life. I don’t like the stress that comes along with racing, but I love the intensity and adrenaline rush you experience from competing, especially when you see all the hard work translate into a good performance,” Acker finished.
Acker will be competing in the Long Track Qualifiers on October 11 through 15 in Salt Lake City, Utah. She will also be competing in the Long Track Olympic Trials January 2 through 7 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.