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Seeks Contributions to Help Fund Trip Expenses
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Saratoga Storm is an amateur adult women’s hockey team, comprised of women of all experiential levels, their common bond is sharing a passion for playing the game of ice hockey. After several years of competing, they won their first state title in mid-March.
The Storm is now preparing to head to their national tournament in Minneapolis, MN, where they will face off against the best teams in the nation, over this coming weekend. The have started a GoFundMe campaign to defray the estimated $8,000 in team travel expenses. To date, they have raised about $7,300 of that total, and would like to ask for the community’s support in carrying the local banner to glory. Good luck to the Storm on their journey, and bring home the title!
To contribute, visit https://www.gofundme.com/saratogastorm
For more information, visit saratogastormhockey.weebly.com.
SARATOGA SPRINGS -- While the Spa Catholic Saints’ team has wrapped up their annual Spring Training session in Central Florida, one of their key players has assured he’ll be visiting the area again – and staying awhile.
Senior pitcher Joe Schmidt, the 2015 recipient of Spa Catholic’s Tim Stauffer Award for Pitching Excellence, has committed to Rollins College for his collegiate career. Rollins, a Division 2 School in Winter Park, Florida, plays its games in the Sunshine State Conference.
Schmidt had an outstanding season in 2015, in which he was named to the Western Athletic Conference’s All-Star First Team for the second consecutive season, among other honors. In 2015, he was undefeated, winning all five regular season games he pitched, and also was on the mound in both of the Saints’ playoff contests - starting the round one sectional game against Ravena, in which he had nine strikeouts in four innings - and coming in for three relief innings in the sectional semi-finals against Schuylerville four days later.
Overall, for 2015, Schmidt had 54 strikeouts and only 14 walks in 40 innings for the Saints. He allowed only six earned runs on the season. Schmidt’s ERA of 0.70 for 2015 placed him third on the all-time lowest season ERA record list for Saratoga Central Catholic Baseball.
ORLANDO, FL – Even with a mild winter, you could certainly do worse than an Orlando dateline! Particularly when the itinerary involves Walt Disney World’s Wide World of Sports Complex.
Behold the Saratoga Central Catholic Baseball squad, in the midst of an annual nine-day tournament trip. The Saints’ varsity will be stretching, batting, pitching and catching in the sunshine until February 26. After some more practice at home, they open up their season with a bang: at Canajoharie on Monday, April 4. Their home opener (also against Canajoharie) is at Veterans Memorial Park in Geyser Crest on Wednesday, April 6 at 4:30 p.m.
The first weekend of the season has the Saints hosting Galway on Friday, April 6 at 7 p.m. at Veterans, and play in The Phil Waring Memorial Tournament all day on Saturday, April 9 at both Veterans and East Side Rec.
Many thanks to Coach Lambert for introducing us to “team mom” Brooke O’Reilly, and to Brooke herself for these great snaps of the action in Florida.
- Arthur Gonick
SARATOGA SPRINGS – This is a squad that lets nothing deter them from reaching top form for its season opener at Mayfield / Northville on April 5. Coach Tonya Pellegrini Lawrence noted, “A great part of ‘our story’ is that we don’t have a conventional track and field area to practice.”
“In fact,” she continued, “We don’t even have a track- period! All this forces us to be resourceful. We use what we have: the stairs in school, Congress Park and the Downtown Saratoga sidewalks.”
The implication is that the Spa Catholic Track and Field team members are always “road warriors” – having no home track of their own means they are always venturing out to compete. In addition to the opener at Mayfield / Northville, the Saints’ track team will trek to Fort Plain and Canajoharie, among other distant places for meets. Galway is one of their shorter trips.
While next year’s move to the Wasaren Conference will greatly alleviate some of the travel distances (see story – page 43), this team will still be “road warriors” for the foreseeable future.
Coach Tonya Pellegrini Lawrence started the track and field program at Spa Catholic four years ago with her husband, and for the last three seasons her “co-coach” has been Damian Fantauzzi, who brings a wealth of experience (as well as being Saratoga TODAY’s sports columnist at large!) to the team, which this year will have 33 members between grades nine to 12.
Coach Pellegrini Lawrence was justifiably proud of the team, its members and the effort they put into their sport, “Our kids work hard and hold their own at meets without the conventional track and field.”
By Mark Baker
For Saratoga TODAY
Looking back over the last 3 decades, it becomes clear that the success and prosperity of the “City Center experiment” is no accident. It is due to the visionaries and risk takers of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s – those native sons and daughters, elected and civic leaders who put forward a selfless plan to better the community and allow Saratoga to steadily proceed to the success we enjoy today.
The Saratoga Springs City Center was the result of a courageous and “gutsy” “Community Plan of Action”. A volunteer led plan for Saratoga to be the author of its own economic development. From benches and trash receptacles on Broadway, flower and tree planting programs, development of the Saratoga Special Assessment District to the emergence of the Downtown Business Assoc., the people of Saratoga rallied to make Saratoga Springs, a year round destination and vibrant hometown community in which to live and work. The City Center was a major part of the resulting success.
The City Center stands once again as a lead element to the future prosperity and vitality of downtown. Never have the challenges been more demanding, the stakes higher and the rewards more clearly visible with the need for our community to stay active, competitive and financially viable by adding additional downtown parking. The City Center’s Parking Structure solution is the best answer to the need. This is the right project, in the right location, at the right time, to answer an identified need not only for the City Center but the downtown business community. It also places no financial burden on the taxpayer!
The City Center has taken full advantage of its past success and recognized statewide reputation as a quality, first-class facility with superb personal service in a world-renowned hospitality community. The City Center with its recent expansion has only grown in its ability to bring more people to visit our community and also service the growing civic role of the facility. In 2015, the City Center was occupied more than 85 percent of the time - 310 days. Most of that business creation is during non-summer months of July and August. We now need the tools and infrastructure to continue to meet the desired demand—available parking. There is an identified need for additional parking in the north end of the Broadway business district to serve our community needs and convention guests.
It is obvious that no plan (parking) or means for continued success is possible without the involvement and engagement of selfless volunteers who help drive a concept into reality. The people of Saratoga Springs have always taken great ownership and pride in the agencies and institutions that have helped this community to grow and prosper—the City Center is proud to be part of that inventory. It is due to the leadership, guidance and dedication of the City Center Authority and the City Council that we are strong and viable. With the continued support of the business community great things are going to happen in 2016 and the parking facility will become a reality.
Mark Baker is President of the Saratoga Springs City Center
New Conference for Athletics Beginning this Fall
SARATOGA SPRINGS – After a long process, all of the Saratoga Central Catholic athletic teams will be moving to the Wasaren (which stands for Washington/Saratoga/Rensselaer) League from the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). This move will take effect with the Fall 2016 sports season.
“This is something we have been trying to get done for a long time,” noted Spa Catholic Athletic Director “Phonsey” Lambert, who was in his office preparing to take the school’s baseball team, which he coaches, on their annual training trip to Florida (see page 42). Lambert noted that the way teams switch Conferences or Leagues is by an application process, in which teams have to vote unanimously to accept a new member, which is not an easy thing.
But the need to move was apparent, and it can be summarized in two words: travel times. While many schools develop rivalries with nearby schools, Spa Catholic had limited opportunities to do that in the WAC. Their nearest WAC rivals were in Galway and Schenectady. More to the point, Lambert said, “in the case of our league, nine of the 13 teams we might face in league competition were an hour travel time one-way.”
Indeed, it was often more. Spa Catholic would regularly be sending school buses to places like Northville, Middleburgh, Mayfield, Canajoharie and Berne-Knox. “It got to the point that in 2007, our Principal, Chris Signor, adjusted the start time of our school’s first period out of concern for the time our student/athletes were getting home from games,” Lambert noted.
The Wasaren League has a lineup that is much more “close to home.” Spa Catholic will be joining Waterford/Halfmoon in the Wasaren this fall, joining members Mechanicville, Stillwater, Cambridge and Greenwich, among others. “It is going to be a very manageable travel schedule now,” A.D. Lambert said.
It also stands to have a major favorable impact on Spa Catholic’s many sports teams’ travel costs, and therefore, a considerable savings for the athletic budget and the school’s budget overall. Less easy to calculate is the impact shorter travel times and therefore, more rested teams, will have on the Saints’ athletic performance, but suffice to say: It couldn’t hurt!
The road to join the Wasaren took awhile for the Saints. They had applied for entry in 2014, when Schuylerville left to join the Foothills Council. Spa Catholic lost out to Mechanicville, but many Wasaren member schools encouraged Lambert by noting that they were keeping the door open to expanding the league.
The key event occurred last April, when Granville, then a Wasaren member, applied and received entry into the Adirondack League. By October, the expansion-minded Wasaren was reaching out to both Spa Catholic and Waterford/Halfmoon; and Spa Catholic received unanimous approval to join, effective next fall.
While the shorter travel will certainly make competition for the Saint’s logistically easier, how do their rivals in the new league stand up? We asked Damian Fantauzzi, one of Spa Catholic’s Track Coaches (and our sports columnist) for his analysis.
“I see the move as a major challenge for the athletic programs of Saratoga Catholic,” Fantauzzi said. “The Wasaren League is made up of comparatively larger schools, with solid sports programs. The Wasaren schools have a rich history of successful teams, over decades, throughout Section 2 history.”
He continued, “Since I'm a basketball coach/junkie, I see basketball as possibly the biggest challenge for the Saints, for both boys and girls. It might take two to five years for Saratoga Catholic to become competitive with all sports. The Saints do have an excellent history in baseball, and will have formidable competition with some of the Wasaren schools that have had great success with the game.”
Overall, Fantauzzi concluded, “I believe it's a good move for Saratoga Catholic and a good fit for the Broadway school, it will be fun and challenging for the students, as the Saints develop new rivalries.”
OZONE PARK - The 2015 Belmont Stakes, which saw American Pharoah crowned as a Triple Crown winner and was widely praised as the most successful mega-event in the history of the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA), has been chosen as a finalist for Sports Event of the Year by Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal.
The first three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, highlighted by the 147th running of the Belmont Stakes, generated more than $165 million in total wagering and was the culmination of a year-long, organization-wide planning effort that saw unprecedented community involvement and articulated NYRA's focus on enhancing the full guest experience. The sold-out crowd of 90,000 on Belmont Stakes Day and an average of 20.6 million viewers on the National Broadcasting Company Sports Group witnessed American Pharoah's run into history.
“We are honored to be nominated as Sports Event of the Year," stated Christopher K. Kay, President and CEO of the New York Racing Association.” The selection as one of the finalists validates the steps undertaken to make the 2015 Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, and those for future years, a big hit with sports fans: a three-day event filled with world-class horse racing, outstanding entertainment and unparalleled dining and hospitality. We congratulate the other nominees on their achievements."
Joining the 2015 Belmont Stakes as finalists for the Sports Event of the Year Award are Super Bowl 50, the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup Final, Mayweather vs. Pacquiao boxing match, and the Bojangles Southern 500.
Winners of the 2016 Sports Business Awards, a celebration of the top achievements in the sporting industry in 17 categories, will be announced live on May 18 at an awards ceremony at the New York Marriott Marquis.
The Saratoga Wilton Soccer Club's U14 Girls Rayas Azule team participated in the Inaugural Minisink March Meltdown Soccer Tournament. The girls delivered a fabulous performance and finished the tournament with an impressive 3 - 1 record, earning second place. They scored numerous goals while the defensive team and goalie, Natalie Jillson, held the opposing teams to only two goals total for the entire tournament. The team was coached by Joe Powers and consisted of Lauren Maher, Kiara Bullard, Brooke Keefer, Casey Powers, Sophia Keshmiri, Maddy Tousignant, Emma Wroebel, Helena Bartlett, Cassandra Cooper, Natalie Jillson, Leah Radovic, Amber Flynn, and Elizabeth Herman (not pictured).
The Saratoga Wilton Soccer Club's U13 Girls Venature Azzurri team participated in the Inaugural Minisink March Meltdown Soccer Tournament on Saturday, March 12t at the Hudson Valley SportsDome in Milton, NY. The girls delivered an amazing performance and were undefeated in the tournament!. They scored a total of 12 goals while the defensive team and goalie, Hailey Baldwin, held the competing teams to only one goal against. The team was coached by Joe Powers and consisted of Haley Blatchford, Hailey Baldwin, Emilia Brueggemann, Katie Claeson, Annie Naughton, Maddie Buck, Kylee Martin, Hailey VonAhn, Madi McMaster and Schuyler Eddy.