Jonathon Norcross

Jonathon Norcross

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Ever watch Aaron Judge crack a fly ball to the Yankee Stadium short porch in right field and think to yourself, “hell, I could do that”? Well, it’s time to put up or shut up.

A baseball and softball training academy that allows kids and adults alike to practice hitting, pitching, and fielding is coming to Saratoga Springs. D-BAT, which has about 160 locations around the country, is opening its first facility in New York State at 30 Gick Road this summer.

Franchise owner and general manager Adam Britten said the 18,000-square-foot academy will include 13 cages; three industrial-sized pitching machines that can hold hundreds of baseballs or softballs; Rapsodo, a ball launch and flight monitor; Pocket Radar guns that measure pitch speed; and HitTrax, a system that provides real-time stats and performance metrics.

“You can use HitTrax for basically any ballpark. You can put in Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium, and you’re actually simulating hitting at those ballparks and it shows your distance and everything else with almost spot-on accuracy,” Britten said.

Although D-BAT academies attract kids across different age groups and levels of play, parents and older folks are welcome too. A parents’ lounge with four TVs will allow adults to take it easy while their kids train. And if you’re getting up there in age but still want to crack a few dingers, you can do that too.

“We’re really excited to provide an outlet for not just kids, but for adults,” Britten said. “It is more than that demographic of 6 to 18 year olds. You get 3 year olds to 75 year olds.” 

Although the academy focuses primarily on baseball and softball, the space can also be used for lacrosse, field hockey, flag football, and other sports.

“I have cricket, I have cornhole leagues; all these leagues are reaching out because there’s a need for indoor space,” Britten said. 

That need was obvious to Britten, a Saratoga native who has been heavily involved in youth sports throughout his life. He’s the president of Saratoga Battle, a basketball program with 150 kids, and he’s the assistant coach of the Saratoga Central Catholic varsity basketball team.   

“I grew up in these programs along with my brothers, and my dad was always a coach, so it kind of comes second nature,” Britten said. “But there’s never been a facility like this locally big enough to support rain delays, the eight months of winter we get. Kids aren’t playing baseball year-round like they should, like they are down south or in the midwest.”

Britten plans to open up shop this summer and is already giving potential customers tours of the facility. For more information or to keep tabs on the academy’s progress, visit or follow the company on Facebook and Instagram.

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND — Mystik Dan, winner of this year’s Kentucky Derby, will compete in the Preakness Stakes, trainer Kenny McPeek announced last Saturday. 

“All systems go,” McPeek told the Associated Press. “The horse is doing fantastic.” 

The decision impacts the upcoming Belmont Stakes at the Saratoga Racecourse. If Mystik Dan is able to pull off another victory at Preakness, he’ll be competing for a Triple Crown in Saratoga Springs this June.

“If we’re looking at a non-Triple Crown year, I would say that the Belmont Stakes is still going to have the buzz and excitement that you see [at] the Travers Stakes,” NBC racing analyst Donna Barton Brothers told Saratoga TODAY last month. “But if you’re looking at a Triple Crown year, then you can take Travers and multiply it by at least two, if not more.”

BALLSTON SPA — The Ballston Spa High School girls track and field relay team won the 4x100 in two events last week: the Glenn D. Loucks Games in White Plains and the Shen Invy in Clifton Park. At Loucks, their time of 48.14 was both the fastest this year in New York State and a new school record, according to Assistant Coach Matt Germann.

The relay team consists of Tatiana McCray, Harriet Healey, Gabrielle Bozeth, and Petrina Zborovszky. At Shen, they finished with a time of 49.19.

Individually, the girls also impressed. At Shen, Bozeth won the 200-meter dash and Zborovszky won the 100-meter. At Loucks, Healey finished third in the 400-meter hurdles and Bozeth took third in the 100 meter dash.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The baseball parking lot at Veterans Memorial Park in Saratoga Springs was overflowing as the 17-0 Saratoga Central Catholic Saints varsity baseball team faced the 15-0 Mechanicville Red Raiders on Monday, May 6. The matchup between two undefeated teams could only end one way: someone’s record was about to become blemished. 

With the grandstands full, spectators plopped down camping chairs in nearly every available spot with a clear view of the diamond. The sun set slowly beyond the left field wall as the middle innings rolled on and Mechanicville took a 2-0 lead heading into the fourth inning.

The Saints struggled offensively, notching only three hits. Ryan Gillis pushed across the team’s lone run with an RBI in the bottom of the sixth. But the late spur wasn’t enough to overcome the Red Raiders’ four runs, two of which were the result of Saints fielding errors. Mechanicville took the W and ended the Saints’ undefeated streak. 

After suffering their first loss of the season, Spa Catholic would have an opportunity for revenge at Mechanicville High School the following afternoon. But they again couldn’t overcome the Red Raiders, losing 5 to 2. Although the Saints limited their fielding errors this time, Mechanicville’s 10 hits were too many to overcome.

With a 17-2 record, the Saints went into their final game of the regular season against Christian Brothers Academy last Saturday night. The game turned into a nailbiter after Spa Catholic erupted with six runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. But then a walk-off single by Jason Pescetti sealed the deal, giving the Saints an 8-7 victory. 

In the end, only Mechanicville got the better of Spa Catholic, stealing two games away from a team with an otherwise perfect record. Saratoga finished the season 18-2 overall, and 12-2 in the Wasaren League. The Saints’ .857 winning percentage was second only to Mechanicville.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — At the Saratoga Springs City School District’s Board of Education meeting on May 9, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Lisa Cutting led a presentation that cited 2022-2023 data regarding the district’s chronic absenteeism, graduation rates, and enrollment numbers, among other figures.

Dr. Cutting discussed the data alongside Dr. Danielle Bouton-Wales, Director of K-12 Stem and Secondary Instruction; Dr. Michele Whitley, Director of K-12 Humanities and Elementary Instruction; and Mrs. Abigail Adams-Snell, Director of Assessment, Accountability and Improvement.

Chronic Absenteeism

Chronic absenteeism, defined by the New York State Education Department as students missing at least 10% of the school days for which they are enrolled, declined from 2021-2022 to 2022-2023, according to the data. 

After skyrocketing in 21-22 to 17.8%, or 660 students, chronic absenteeism rates among 1st through 8th graders declined to 15.5%, or 571 students, in 22-23, which is about 10% less than the state average. Similarly, 9th through 12th grades hit 28.1% (553 students) in 21-22, but then declined to 25.5% (505 students) in 22-23, which is about 5% below state average.

“For four years, I’ve been talking about chronic absenteeism,” said Board President Tony Krackeler. “It’s a topic that is very important to me. I want to give you congratulations on real progress in combating that. The numbers show it’s a big success story of this district.”

One change in dealing with absenteeism is the district’s use of ParentSquare, a service that sends automated absentee notifications and allows parents to communicate directly with attendance clerks.

Graduation Rates

Graduation rates have remained relatively consistent over the last few years, remaining in the range of 91.9% to 93.8%. These rates are notably higher than the New York State average of 86%.

Student Enrollment

K-12 enrollment decreased from nearly 6,000 in 21-22 to 5,798 in 23-24. When broken down by ethnicity, enrollment has remained relatively steady across all groups. But the district is seeing an increase in economically disadvantaged student enrollment, from 1,435 (or 24% of all students) in 21-22, to 1,687 (29%) in 23-24.

Thursday, 16 May 2024 13:19

Cosmic Capes Comics Closing Up Shop

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Cosmic Capes Comics, a comic book store located in The Springs apartment complex on Weibel Ave, will be closing soon, owner Mike Miller announced to customers in an email last week.

“For nearly three years, I have had the pleasure of opening and running Cosmic Capes Comics, and meeting so many great people,” Miller wrote. “While this experience has exceeded my expectations — you taught me much about comics, running a retail store, and how to remember names — I will soon be moving back to the midwest and closing the store in its current location. My wife and I have enjoyed our 14 years here in upstate New York, but the pull of family is too strong.”

Miller said he would consider opportunities to re-open the store once he’d completed his move. He also announced that Cosmic Capes would be holding a “20% off everything” moving sale beginning May 8.

“Thank you all for a wonderful run here in Saratoga Springs. You’ve allowed me to pursue my dream of owning and running a comic book store,” Miller wrote.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — “I love just being able to make people’s toast,” said Wilson Keenan as he sat inside his new bakery in Saratoga Springs. “If you had to tell me, ‘you can only make one thing,’ I’d probably make bread.”

The seemingly simple ambition of supplying Saratogians with their weekly loaf of bread has been an all-encompassing task for Keenan, who has gone through a lot while moving his successful bakery from the Catskills to Saratoga Springs. Working 18-hour days, raising $125,000, spending savings accrued from nearly a decade of working in tech; these are all steps on Keenan’s path towards making people’s toast. And with the opening of Bakery Suzanne in April, Keenan is another step closer.

“I knew I needed to move if [my bakery] was going to grow,” Keenan said. So the baker began searching for a larger market that was still within a few hours of New York City. 

“When you look outside of the Catskills, you start to look at maybe Woodstock, Kingston, Hudson; these towns that still rely pretty heavily on seasonal people and weekenders. That wasn’t as exciting to me because I was like, well that’s just an order of magnitude, maybe 40% better than where I was, but it’s not really long-term potential.”

Keenan found what he’d been looking for in Saratoga Springs, in a location that might seem a bit unorthodox but made logistical sense: the Saratoga Motorcycle Center.

“Auto garages make the most sense because we need to be able to move in ovens,” Keenan said. “We brought them up from the Catskills and there’s only so many spaces where you can move something like that in.”

As Keenan opened up shop, construction was still underway inside the garage-turned-bakery, and sparse shelves in the retail area were quickly being filled with Saratoga’s signature blue sparkling water bottles. At the moment, Keenan is running a relatively small operation that includes himself, one other baker, and two people working the retail counter. Keenan said he hoped to have another full-time baker come June or July as his business continues to grow.

“In the Catskills, I was making 400 loaves of bread when I left,” Keenan said. “It would take me quite a long time to sell 400 loaves of bread here, now. But fast forward a year or two, that will happen.”

Bakery Suzanne, named after Keenan’s mother, specializes in sourdough bread and pastries. The menu includes country loaf, baguette, and southern sesame breads; as well as croissants, pain au chocolat, canelé, and a country ham and cheese sandwich, among other items. 

The shop is housed in the former location of the Saratoga Motorcycle Club at 4284 NY-50, right next to the X-Files Museum. It’s currently open Friday through Sunday, from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. 

BALLSTON SPA — The Ballston Spa Central School District’s Board of Education approved a proposed 2024-2025 budget of $107,179,996 last week.

There are three Community Budget Presentations being offered for district residents to learn more about the proposed budget. The presentations are scheduled for Monday, May 13 at the Ballston Town Hall; Tuesday, May 14 at the Malta Community Center; and Wednesday, May 15 at the Milton Community Center. All of the presentations will begin at 6:30 p.m.

District residents can vote on the budget on May 21 from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. Residents of Malta can vote at the Malta Town Hall, while residents of Ballston, Milton and Charlton will vote at the Ballston Spa High School.

Voters will also choose two Board of Education members from three candidates: Jason Fernau, Fabrizia Rodriguez, and Tim Turbiak.

Jason Fernau was elected to the Board of Education in May 2018 to a three-year term and re-elected in May 2021. He was selected as the President in July 2021, 2022, and again in July 2023, after previously serving as the Vice President of the Board. He also currently serves on the WSWHE BOCES Board of Education. He is a Ballston Spa High School (BSHS) graduate and has been a resident in the district for over 45 years. He is the parent of two BSHS graduates, a son and a daughter. In his position statement, Fernau wrote that he was “committed to setting expectations for instructional excellence, safe and welcoming school environments, positive partnerships with our local Town and Village governments, fiscal responsibility to our taxpayers, and making sure that every student is engaged and challenged in their educational journey.”

Fabrizia Rodriguez has more than 13 years experience advocating and representing families as an attorney with a focus on Child Welfare Laws and Immigration Law. Additionally, Rodriguez has experience in grant writing for Capital District BOCES and Centro Civico Inc. She served as a Parent Liaison for the Amsterdam School District and supported initiatives to enhance communication and involvement between school and family. Rodriguez has been residing in the Town of Ballston since 2018, and is the proud mother of two sons, a fifth grader and a third grader at Gordon Creek. She is the current Vice President of Ballston Spa Community Youth Football Inc. In her position statement, Rodriguez wrote that if elected, she would “advocate for modernized resources and tools to best support our staff in developing outstanding Ballston Spa citizens.”

Tim Turbiak was elected to the Board in May 2021 and began his three-year term in July 2021. During his time on the Board, he has served on the Policy Committee for the last two years, and as the liaison to the PTAs over the last 3 years. Tim moved to the area in 2019 from Brooklyn. Over the years he has helped organize a number of fundraisers, helping organizations such as Toys for Tots, Meals On Wheels, the Wounded Warrior Project, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. He currently resides in Ballston Spa with his wife Eliana and their two children. In his position statement, Turbiak wrote that if re-elected, he intends “to help build on that progress as well as address the new challenges we face. I will advocate for policies and practices which promote inclusion, limit - if not remove - obstacles which may affect learning, and encourage our students to come to school and want to learn. I will support the district in providing the resources needed so each student has their individual needs met, and accomplish the ultimate goal to obtain a meaningful diploma.” 

In addition to the budget vote and education board member elections, there will be three additional propositions on the ballot. Proposition 2 is for School Vehicle Replacement in the amount of up to $1,075,000 to purchase and replace school buses and vehicles. Proposition 3 allows the district to spend up to $595,000 to replace two bus lifts in the district’s Transportation Facility. Proposition 4 is for the Ballston Spa Public Library in the amount of $63,344 towards the expense of operating the public library.

ALBANY — Two Saratoga Springs High School seniors were awarded the Capital Zone High School Student Leadership Awards in Physical Education at the Italian American Community Center in Albany last month. 

Lira Bonitatibus and Louie Longobardo were recognized for their “high level of physical performance, scholastic achievement, exceptional leadership qualities, and outstanding service to the school or town/city community,” according to the Capital Zone. The students were nominated by Saratoga Springs High School physical education teacher Kelsey Allen.

Bonitatibus will attend Clemson University in the fall to study health sciences in the field of health promotion. Longobardo will attend SUNY Brockport to study physical education.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Coach Rich Johns, a former tennis coach at Saratoga Springs High School, continued his “Act with Respect Always” program with a series of speaking engagements over the last few months.

In April, Coach Johns spoke at a Saratoga Springs Rotary Club meeting, as well as the New York State Recreation and Park Society’s annual conference at the Queensbury Hotel in Glens Falls. Late last year, he also spoke at Hoosick Falls High School. 

According to Johns, “Act With Respect Always” is a pay it forward movement stressing the importance of one’s personal character. In his speeches, Johns introduces several concepts, including:

• The 99% (What’s Your 99) and the 1% (Accept The 1), a personal character assessment plan that aims to bring the concept of mindfulness to everyone

• The Visible Project, which encourages everyone to send notes of gratitude to a friend, relative, teacher, or anyone else that has shown them kindness

• The Solid Five (Who Are Your Solid5), or five people who can be relied upon for non-judgmental physical and emotional support

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