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[Photos by Ruthann Thivierge]
SCHUYLERVILLE - The Schuylerville girls varsity soccer team, coached by Michael Kopp, have had an amazing season so far. They are currently 10-2 in their league and in first place in Foothills North Division. In their senior game last Tuesday, they won against Amsterdam.
Pre-season started for them on Aug. 14, however, during the summer they had informal gatherings for eighth through twelfth grade to utilize the soccer field for an hour and a half a few nights a week in June.
Kopp has 10 seniors on his team, which he has been coaching for three years now, which he describes as a “blessing as a coach.”
So next season will be a new learning experience for him. Players from JV will be brought up and the familiarity of the practices, plays, and teamwork will be starting fresh.
“It’s the familiarity and the reality that all of that is coming to an abrupt halt. We are only guaranteed two more games. We take it one game at a time,” he said.
Schuylerville is a Class B school, which is based on student enrollment, but the conference that they play in is primarily Class A teams.
“Theoretically,” Kopp explained, “we play tougher teams and opponents.”
On Tuesday, Oct. 10, Schuylerville lost to Mechanicville, and it was the first home game they have lost since 2015. The other two losses this season were to Scotia and South Glens Falls, which were both away games, with both schools ranked very high in New York State.
“They handled [the home game loss] well. I think they knew the mistakes that we had made, which were few but against a top-level team. They all nodded their heads. They knew what happened. This is a very seasoned group,” he explained.
Schuylerville has one more league game left on Friday, Oct. 13 against Queensbury and then the sectional seeding meeting on Monday where it will be determined which seed Schuylerville will have, they will be in the top four. This meeting will also determine who they are playing against and when the game will be. Sectionals are at the end of next week and if they win, it will be the first sectional win for Schuylerville girls’ soccer.
If Schuylerville defeats Queensbury on the 13th, they will be the Foothills North champions.
“I think our mental attitude is where it needs to be at the start of every game and virtually for every minute of the game,” Kopp said proudly.
“These kids have been in battles against tough teams starting out as sophomores. They’ve tasted success; there is not a lot they haven’t seen. They take everything in stride and they don’t get down on themselves. When we lost earlier this year there were tears of shock. They weren’t down about it, they were shocked. Some teams get accustomed to a defeated mentality but we literally intend to win every game we go out there for,” he said.
Emily Vallee, a senior, is the reigning Foothill Offensive Player of the Year, which she won as a junior by being voted on by all of the coaches.
“Our main objection is to win a sectional title, which Schuylerville has never won so that has been an objective of the program since well before I got here. We’re on the precipice to do this year,” Kopp explained.
“The fundamentals and the tactics of the game have not really changed in the three years we’ve been playing together, but the skill level has,” he said.
“I always tell them, every time you touch the ball, it makes you a better player,” Kopp said.
[Photos by www.PhotoandGraphic.com, Lori Mahan, and Ruth Thivierge.]
Three area teams remain undefeated this season. These teams are the Saratoga Springs Blue Streaks, the Schuylerville Horses, and the Burnt Hills – Ballston Lake Spartans.
How is it possible that three local teams can all be undefeated? The teams represent different classes and leagues, based on school size, with Saratoga being the largest of the classes, Section 2 Class AA, in the Empire Football League. We sat down with each coach this week to get their take on the current season.
BURNT HILLS – BALLSTON LAKE
Coach Matt Shell is very happy with how well the season has gone so far.
“The kids are working hard, we’re excited to be in the position that we’re in. We have a big game this week and we have to make sure we’re ready to play at such a high level.”
He’s happy with his offensive line and continues to see improvements on the defensive line, which has a few new players this year.
“Our defense has improved week to week,” he said.
In game one, they played Queensbury, which Shelly described as a “real good game.”
Averill Park was a tough team to beat but they were able to thanks to making some big plays at key times in the game.
“The team just works really hard and they’ve been doing a good job. Their work ethic has been good and fundamentally, they do a good job of working on the basics of the game to improve,” Shell said.
With practices Monday through Thursday, the Spartans stay busy and motivated.
Coach John Bowen is equally enthusiastic about his team’s season.
“I would definitely say to this point that the success we’ve been able to have has been a direct attribute to the way the kids work Monday through Thursday. Friday nights are for them. It’s their time. You allow them to showcase everything they’ve worked for. We’ve got a great group of kids who are willing to listen to and employ anything we ask of them,” Bowen said.
Bowen makes sure that the team stays focused on the week ahead and nothing beyond that.
“I’ve been very proud of the fact that the boys have really kept their focus and not allowed themselves to get ahead of the schedule in any given week. They’ve been really dialed into that week’s opponent,” Bowen explained.
Coach Terry Jones is making a comeback after last season.
“I think it’s great to be at this point, especially considering all of our games have been in our division. Winning our first five games has secured us the number one seed in the Empire Division, which guarantees us a playoff game in week eight and in week nine if we win the game in week eight. That’s one of the goals we set out with, was to win our division. We’re not looking past any of our goals as far as the rest of the season goes, we’re focusing on Albany this week,” Jones explained.
Last season was difficult for the Blue Streaks, they had a number of injuries and were unsure of how the team would perform this season.
“For example, Wes Eglintine, is in his third year on varsity but as a sophomore, he saw very limited action as a quarterback because we have a two-year starter and then last year he was lost in the week one game and here he is in his third year. We weren’t sure how things would go for him as a quarterback. He’s been doing great!” Jones said.
Sequoia Cumming was one for two in the game last week and will be kicking in the homecoming game on Friday, Oct. 6.
“We’ve had a number of kids who have performed outstanding all year long. We’ve had some kids go down with injuries and other kids step in to fill their roles and we’ve had a number of kids who have performed outstanding and even above our expectations,” Jones explained.
“We knew the talent was there,” he said, “and we knew that if things came together we could get to this point, but you never know how 16 and 17 year-olds are going to perform when the lights go on.”
Saratoga Springs will have their homecoming game on Friday, Oct. 6 at 7:00 p.m.
Check back on the Saratoga TODAY Newspaper Facebook page after the games this week for updates.
SCHUYLERVILLE – One local student will soon be off to D.C. for the opportunity of her high school career.
Freya Birkas-Dent, a junior at Schuylerville High School, will begin a three-week position in the competitive and prestigious United States Senate Page program on June 11, which will run until June 30. Birkas-Dent will be sponsored by N.Y. Senator Chuck Schumer, and was one of only 30 students from across the country selected for the program.
Her responsibilities during these three weeks will include administrative tasks, such as filing paperwork and delivering documents and mail between offices. The program will also involve time in the Senate Chamber, during which pages will be responsible for arranging papers at each seat and holding doors, according to Birkas-Dent. She will also be attending page school, to “l earn about parliamentary procedure and the legislative process,” according to the Schuylerville schools website.
Birkas-Dent first became aware of the Senate page position while reading a book written by former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, in which he references pages as the people who perform various administrative tasks for the Senate. This interested her, and she began researching the position by visiting the websites of some of her Senators.
She first got in touch with the offices of N.Y. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, inquiring about page positions for the spring or fall, as she initially wanted to apply for one that would happen during the school year. Finding that neither Senator had available positions for those sessions, she applied to a number of Senators from different states, including Susan Collins of Maine and Claire McCaskill of Mo. This too failed to yield fruitful results, as she said that Senators prefer to sponsor pages from their own constituencies. Finally, Senator Schumer came through with a page position for the summer, which she accepted.
“I’m really interested in going into international relations or into government,” Birkas-Dent said about what inspired her to pursue a position like this. “We learn about this kind of stuff in the classroom, but you really don’t have a tangible experience with it. It’s kind of shrouded in secrecy what actually goes on there, so I don’t feel like I have a good understanding of exactly how it runs on a day-to-day basis.”
Birkas-Dent believes this position will give her the sort of understanding of the legislative process necessary for her to decide if it is a career path that she would like to follow. Some of the careers she has considered for herself include elected official, diplomat, or possibly working with a non-profit doing international relations work. Whatever career she ends up pursuing, she knows that she would like to go into the Peace Corps after college.
“I think the U.N. [United Nations] would be really interesting to be in,” Birkas-Dent said. “But I think it’s hard to get into as an American. So I’ve kind of branched out.”
Back at home, Birkas-Dent is involved with a number of groups and programs focused on environmental preservation. She is the president of the high school’s Environmental Club, and works with the Hudson River Community Advisory Group, which works on various things including dredging and floodplain sampling. She is also the captain of her school’s Climate Leadership Team, and with that group recently attended the Adirondack Youth Climate Summit. While environmental issues are important to her, she said that were she to get involved with politics in the future, they would likely be a side issue for her and not a core part of her hypothetical platform, given the divisive conversation surrounding such issues.
“I’m very excited,” Birkas-Dent said about beginning her new position. “I’m excited to meet people from all over the country. It’s a little bit nerve-wracking cause we don’t know yet what we’ll be doing exactly, but I think it’ll be a good experience and I’m really looking forward to it.”
SCHUYLERVILLE – After a disappointing 2016 season, the Schuylerville Girls Lacrosse team finally has their hands on gold.
Facing off against Catholic Central in the Class D Section II finals, Schuylerville bested the competition to take home the section championships. Coming off of the 2016 season, in which they came up short in the sectional finals against Scotia, this win was a huge moment for the team. This year, the team competed in the newly created Section D, whereas last year, they competed in Section C.
“The girls were beyond elated,” coach Erin Lloyd said about the team’s reaction to the victory. “They wanted to be able to call themselves champions, and they had worked so hard for it. Their energy was so palpable immediately. Even before the buzzer.”
Lloyd said that this season’s team used the disappointment of loss to fuel their growth. A lot starting sophomores from 2016 were back on this season’s team as juniors. Some of the major things that they worked on improving were their game knowledge and game sense, as well as their individual skills. Offensively, they focused on understanding the core components of the plays in their repertoire, while defensively they worked to increase the number of techniques they employed.
On the field this season, Lloyd noted that a major strength for the team has been their wide variety of big scoring players. Looking at the season’s statistics, she found that they had a greater number of consistent scorers than the average team. This made them harder to defend against, since the offenses were coming from more than a few players. Amongst the team’s many scoring players, Amy Moreau stood the tallest with 110 goals and 30 assists for the season.
Moving on from the sectional win, Schuylerville faced Section IX team Millbrook in a regional game on May 30 at the neutral Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School field. Despite the team’s momentum, their season unfortunately came to an with a score of 15-10. Lloyd noted that the strong team play that had carried the team forward to that point was somewhat missing from the game, likely contributing to their loss.
Lloyd believes that, like before, the team will carry forward the disappointment of this regionals loss to drive them next season. She anticipates only needing to fill two positions next year, those of departing seniors Brooke Carpenter and Alexa Goldenberg, and having most of the team in place should allow them to build on the successes and shortcomings of the 2017 season.
“I use the phrase ‘stepping stones,’” Lloyd said. “Last year we got to the sectional finals, and this year we won it and got to the regionals. So, being able to build on these stepping stones, I know that this year’s junior class that’ll be seniors next year are really gonna want to get back there again.”
All photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.
SARATOGA COUNTY – Voters across New York State took to the polls at their local schools to vote on proposed budgets, board of education elections, and the odd proposition. Across the board in Saratoga County, budgets were passed and propositions were approved. Here are some of things that area voters decided to approve:
Saratoga Springs City School District:
-$122,712,342 2017-18 budget: Passed
-Purchase of six 66-passenger school buses, four 30-passenger buses, one 23-passenger wheelchair bus and one SUV: Passed
-Establishment of Capital Reserves Fund to ““finance future construction, general improvements, reconstruction and renovations”: Passed
Ballston Spa Central School District:
-$90,340,742 2017-18 budget: Passed
-Purchase of buses and vehicles, $907,000: Passed
-Public library funding, $55,650: Passed
-Creation of Ballston Area Recreation Commission, $30,000: Passed
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District:
-$64,492,019 2017-18 budget: Passed
-Creation of student-held school board position: Authorized
Schuylerville Central School District:
-$34,849,537 2017-18 budget: Passed
-Bus leasing proposition: Passed
-Schuylerville Public Library funding: Passed
South Glens Falls Central School District: -$57,842,074 2017-18 budget: Passed -Purchase of five buses, one with wheelchair option, and one vehicle: Passed
Galway Central School District: -$21,058,918 2017-18 budget: Passed -Proposition to purchase four school buses: Passed
Mechanicville City School District: -$25,480,499 2017-18 budget: Passed -Proposition to purchase school bus: Passed -Sale of 0.44 acres of land on Elizabeth St. to Saratoga County for $1,000 for expansion of the Zim Smith trail: Approved
SCHUYLERVILLE – Continuing the trend of raising money to fight cancer last weekend, the Schuylerville Youth Lacrosse team hosted a benefit shootout to raise money for the family of community member Mike Podkladek, who is currently in treatment for a brain tumor. The event was held at Schuyler Park on May 13, and the team estimates that anywhere from 700 to 1,000 people were in attendance. In all, over $8,000 was raised for the Podkladek family.
Mike Podkladek, along with wife Beth, is a member of the Schuylerville community and the parent of three – Jordan, Callie, and Braden. In the past, he has frequently volunteered in his children’s sports, including softball, football, hockey, and lacrosse. In November of 2016, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor that required surgery. After having his initial tumor removed, pathology reports came back which said that he had Grade 4 Glioblastoma, an untreatable cancerous brain tumor. He has since been fortunate enough to be entered into a clinical trial at Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York City, where he and his wife travel to for treatments every other Tuesday.
The event saw 14 5-6 grade youth lacrosse teams from across the area in attendance. During the scheduling meeting back in March, Schuylerville coach Wayne Durr asked the others teams if they would be willing to attend the event. Upon hearing that it would be a benefit, many local programs cancelled their round robins in order to attend. Teams from Ballston Spa, Burnt Hills, Columbia, Glens Falls, Queensbury, Saratoga Springs, Scotia, and Stillwater made it to the event. Each team competed in three games and took part in a “Fastest Shot” competition.
The Podkladek family is still accepting donations from the public through a GoFundMe page. Any readers interested in donating to the family should go to www.gofundme.com/mike-podkladek-family-support-fund.
SARATOGA COUNTY – On May 16, residents across New York State will be able to vote on the proposed budget for their local school districts. In the interest of helping potential voters in the Saratoga County area make an informed decision, we have gathered together information about what will be on the ballots for a number of major local school districts.
Saratoga Springs City School District residents will be voting on four major things: the 2017-18 budget, the Board of Education election, and two propositions. This year’s proposed budget amounts to $122,712,342, which calls for a 3.64-percent spending increase over last year. According to the district’s website, this proposed budget was designed to “preserve the outstanding quality of education for students within the district.” On the Board of Education election ballot are three candidates running for three-year terms: Anjeanette Emeka, who works in academic affairs at SUNY Empire State College, Jennifer Leidig, President and CEO of Ambiance Commerical Systems and Vice President of Ambiance, and Dr. Stephan Verral, a Board Certified Dermatologist in private practice at Gateway Dermatology in Glens Falls and Malta.
Proposition Two will authorize the district to spend $1,075,000 on six 66-passenger school buses, four 30-passenger buses, one 23-passenger wheelchair bus and one SUV. Proposition Three will authorize the creation of a “Capital Reserve Fund” to, according to the district website, “finance future construction, general improvements, reconstruction and renovations.” The fund would pull from existing funds and would not result in a tax increase.
Ballston Spa Central School District residents will be voting on a proposed 2017-18 budget, to fill three Board of Education seats, and on additional propositions. This year’s proposed budget is $90,340,742, and represents a 2.1-percent spending increase, which would result in a 0.6-percent tax increase across the district. On the Board of Education ballot, voters will chose between candidates Michael O’Donnell, Katie Thimineur, Lillian McCarthy, and Jeanne Obermayer to fill three seats. Propositions on the ballot this year include a “School Vehicle Replacement Proposition” that allows the district to spend up to $907,000 to purchase and replace buses and vehicles, permission to collect $55,650 for public library funding, and $30,000 for the Ballston Area Recreation Commission.
Schuylerville Central School District residents will vote on a proposed 2017-18 budget, to fill two Board of Education seats, and on a few propositions. This year’s proposed budget is $34,849,537, representing a spending increase of 2.1-percent. The district’s website claims that this budget will allow for the continuation of programs and services for students, and for the continued “investment in literacy and technology with the continuation of a literacy coach and technology integration specialist.” On the Board of Education ballot, voters will choose from Stanley Barber, Michael Bodnar, and Veronica Wood to fill two seats. Additional propositions will include a proposition for bus leasing and another for the Schuylerville Public Library budget.
Finally, voters in the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District will vote on a 2017-18 budget, on three Board of Education candidates, and on an additional proposition. This year’s proposed budget is $64,492,019, which will represent a 2.48-percent spending increase. The Board of Education ballot will include candidates Peter Sawyer, John Blowers, and Don Marshall. Proposition Two would authorize the district to create a new Board of Education position to be held by a student from the high school.
The state-wide school budget vote will take place on May 16, from 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. Visit your district’s website to find out where your polling place will be this year.
SCHUYLERVILLE - The Hudson River village that played a vital role in the turning point of the American Revolution can add “The Demon of Screamin’” to its feathered cap of historical significance.
Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler and daughter Liv Tyler - an actress perhaps best known for her role in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy - visited the adjoined Saratoga villages of Schuylerville and Victory in January after learning of their 19th century ancestral ties to the community.
Those local connections came to light in an episode of the TV series “Who Do You Think You Are?” which premiered on the TLC channel this week.
Steven Tyler’s great-great-grandfather, George Washington Elliott, was a drummer who was present at the battle of Antietam and at Gettysburg. He set down roots in Saratoga County while in his 20s, shortly after the Civil War.
“I can see my dad in his face,” Liv Tyler told Saratoga County Historian Lauren Roberts, after being shown a photograph in a 1912 brochure during a segment that depicted “Mr. and Mrs. George Elliott and family, Schuylerville, N.Y.” with their 17 children.
Liv Tyler, the daughter of Steven Tyler and Nashville based singer, songwriter and pop culture icon Bebe Buell, was filmed while driving around Saratoga and visiting the office of the Saratoga County Clerk in Ballston Spa. She was joined by her dad at Prospect Hill Cemetery in Victory, where in the shadow of the a 155-foot tall Saratoga Monument, they visited the burial sites of their ancestors.
“I thought it was a fun show and great piece of history about her family,” said the Saratoga Town Historian Sean Kelleher. “When you start doing these family searches, you just never know what you’re going to find.”
It is not known what prompted the relocation to the Schuylerville area of George Elliott, who had African-America roots. In the 19th century, the greater Schuylerville area counted two Abolitionist Societies who lobbied politicians, published abolitionist papers, and invited speakers into their communities - Frederick Douglass among them, according to Village of Schuylerville Historian Kristina Saddlemire.
In the village by the latter part of the 19th century, local kids found their winter recreation ice skating on the frozen canal. They attended classes at Schuylerville’s Union Free School, a four-story building that stood on Green and University Streets, and played host to a visiting music teacher from Northumberland who would arrive by pony and provide piano lessons for the entire family.
Research conducted independently of the show points to at least one member of the Elliott family being employed at the historic textile mill building in Victory, Kelleher said.
The family were members of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Schuylerville. Of George and Eliza’s 17 kids, 15 were born in Au Sable Forks.
“Two of the children - Jennie May, and Arthur - were born in Schuylerville,” said Don Papson, co-founder and curator of the North Star Underground Railroad Museum, in Ausable Chasm, N.Y.
Jennie May Elliott was born in 1889, and Arthur Earnest Elliott two years later. According to a 1976 obituary, Arthur was a groundskeeper who had been employed By Skidmore College and lived in Saratoga Springs for many years. Jennie May’s descendant, Mary Briscoe, currently lives in Watervliet. She recalled meeting many of her relatives as a young girl growing up in Victory, where she lived until the age of six, before relocating during the 1940s. Watching the TV episode, Briscoe said she was able to learn more about her own ancestors, particularly those who lived during the Civil War Era and beyond.
Steven Tyler’s mother, and Liv Tyler’s grandmother, Susan Ray Tallarico – whose maiden name was Blancha - was the daughter of Bessie June Blancha (Elliott), who in turn was the daughter of Robert J. Elliott and Edna Wheeler. Robert J. Elliott was one of the sons of George and Eliza Elliot, the first members of the family to settle in Saratoga. Their connection to Schuylerville and Victory seems to have lasted at least until the early part of the 20th century.
“Robert J. Elliott married Edna Wheeler. She was the daughter of Charles E. Wheeler, who as much as I can figure out was a photographer in the village,” Papson said. Advertisements published in local newspapers in the early 1900s take note of photographer C.E. Wheeler’s a shop located on Broadway in Schuylerville.
The historians best pin-pointed the family home as having sat on Pearl Street in the village of Victory and just around the corner from St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church on nearby Grove Street in Schuylerville.
SCHUYLERVILLE – The Schuylerville branch of the National Honor Society inducted 45 new members in ceremony held on April 12. Inductees were chosen based on several criteria, including scholarship, character, leadership, and community service. Students and other attendees were also treated to words from guest speaker Khamel Abdulai, the director of training and talent management at Excelsior College and adjunct professor at the College of Saint Rose.
The inductees are as follows:
- Hailey Abruscato
- Cameron Alber
- Brandon Aschauer
- Grace Beaulac
- Freya Birkas-Dent
- Kassandra Brennan
- Alison Burnham
- Amanda Carlstrom
- Emily Carlstrom
- Lillian Claus
- Cassaundra Darrah
- Thomas Donovan
- Ryan Durie
- Samantha Ellis
- Hannah Eustis
- Elizabeth Fordyce
- Zachary Galcik
- Aidan Garry
- Sidney Gregorek
- Morgan Gunter
- Mikhail Hailu
- Grace Hanehan
- Nathan Hefner
- Jack Hemingway
- Jessica Hinners
- Devynn Hough
- Caitlin Kelleher
- Johnathan King
- Kadon Lane
- Jessica Melita
- Amy Moreau
- Teghan Murray
- Cassie Patrick
- Matthew Peck
- Lyndsey Prince
- Christine Putman
- Casey Renner
- Trent Thomas
- Tristan Turner
- Emily Vallee
- Dominic Vito
- Alice Voell-White
- Emily Warmt
- Katelyn Weed
- Derek Willson
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Amateur boxers came together in Saratoga Springs this past weekend to fight for a good cause.
On March 25, the Saratoga Springs City Center played host to a night of amateur boxing to honor and raise money for celebrated Capitol Region boxing promoter, Bob Miller. Miller, a 60-year industry veteran and founder of the Uncle Sam Boxing Club in Troy, was in a serious car accident on Oct. 15 of last year that left him paralyzed. Shortly after, the Miller family established the Bob Miller Fund, a GoFundMe campaign with the goal of raising money to help cover Miller’s expenses, including “his medical care, the equipment (e.g., wheelchair, braces) he will need, and lodging for Linda, our father's wife, and the immediate family so that we can continue to support him during his long rehabilitation away from home,” according to the page’s description.
Doors opened for the event at 6:30 p.m., with the first bout commencing at 7:30 p.m. A total of 13 bouts took place over the course of the show, which drew around 850 attendees. According to city center executive director Ryan McMahon, when factoring in volunteers and trainers, the total attendance number for the night was closer to 1,000.
“Very strong,” McMahon said about the night’s attendance figures.
Some of the bouts on the card included Schuylerville-native Joey Barcia against Francis Hogan of Boston, Alison Watson of Vermont against Jamere Shelby of Albany, Malachi Davis of Albany against Richard Hogan of Boston, and the Uncle Sam Boxing Club’s own Tugar VanDommelen against Gianni Gragnano. In addition to the boxing, other fundraising activities at the event included a raffle and a silent auction.
At time of writing, event organizer Dave Wojcicki estimates that the event raised around $15,000 for the Bob Miller Fund. When asked if the city center would possibly work with Bob Miller and company in the future, McMahon was optimistic.
“We would love to,” McMahon said. “Bob is a long standing client and fixture in Saratoga Springs boxing.”
Anyone interested in donating to the Bob Miller Fund can find the campaign’s page at www.gofundme.com/bob-miller-fund-2unsxys.
All photos in this story are by PhotoAndGraphic.com.