SARATOGA SPRINGS – Jill Ramos, program coordinator of Saratoga Springs Recreation Department (Rec Center), and John Hirliman, director, have a busy season at the Saratoga Springs Recreation Department. Right now, they are in the middle of their fall intro to ice skating program, which is designed for ages three to adult. The program is to learn the basics of ice skating. It continues in January for eight weeks. There is also a family skate session for parents and children 12 and under, open public skate sessions which is for all ages.
“Introduction to ice skating has been around in various forms for 20 years, we’ve been running these sessions since the rink opened over 20 years ago. They were a part of our old rink also, which was built in the 1970’s,” Ramos said.
The Rec also has adult hockey sessions, which are “open stick sessions” that give participants the ability to work on drills and shooting on goals. Also open figure skating sessions, which are geared toward figure skaters, giving them the ability to work on their jumps, spins, and dances. Coaches can attend both. They will also be expanding their skating schedule during the holiday season. The rink also offers skate rentals. Prices vary for everything offered at the Rec, on and off the rink.
“City residents who have a Rec card receive a discount on all of our programs,” Hirliman said.
All program and pricing information is available on their website, www.saratogarec.com, the public skating schedule is online as well.
“Saturday is opening day for our basketball program, which has also been going on for 20 plus year. We have close to 400 players and 70 volunteer coaches,” Hirliman said.
The basketball program is open to ages 3-18 and games take place during the week and on Saturdays from November through February.
“Right now, we are registering for our winter programs, which includes the introduction lessons and volleyball programs that start in January. We also have a partnership with the youth boxing program,” Hirliman explained.
“Our most popular programming is the intro to skating, basketball, soccer, and our summer camp,” Ramos added.
Their summer camp is for ages 5-15 and it is an 8-week day camp that goes on a variety of field trips, at least three per week, arts and crafts, and sport activities. Approximately 150 kids attend.
“We have volunteer applications for camp counselors on our website that can be submitted through email. Or someone can stop by the rec center and fill out an application and go from there. They are mostly all paid positions. Our biggest volunteer opportunity is through coaching basketball and soccer though,” Hirliman said.
Another popular program is their adult basketball program which has drop-in sessions weekly.
“Some nights you’ll have up to 60 people playing, it’s very popular,” Hirliman explained.
Every day after school is open gym, which is free to attend with a Rec card and you do not have to be a city resident to partake. Kids have the opportunity to throw around the ball, run the track, and enjoy the facilities. This is free until 5 p.m. every day with varying times on the weekends, depending on what other events are scheduled.
As far as donating to the Rec Center goes, “a lot of people ask how they can donate or provide us with items. We have a non-profit group called Saratoga Springs Friends of Recreation, they have a Facebook page. They’re the organization that if someone is looking to donate anything, they’re the outlet for being able to do that,” Hirliman said.
Saratoga Springs Friends of Recreation can be found at www. facebook.com/SSFriendsofRec. All program and pricing information is available on their website, www.saratogarec.com, the public skating schedule is online as well.
SARATOGA COUNTY — On Thursday, Nov. 9 two local gentlemen were inducted in the New York State Baseball Hall of Fame. Paul Mound, Union College baseball coach and creator of Saratoga Stampede, and John DeGregory, Schuylerville, a wellknown baseball player during his high school and college years at Sienna College. With over 400 people in attendance, MC Rodger Wyland, Sports Director for NewsChannel 13, spoke of Mound and DeGregory’s achievements in baseball, along with the other 14 members of the 2017 inductee class: Buffalo Bisons, Minor League Blue Jays Affiliate; Andy Van Slyke, St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates; Paul O’Neill, New York Yankees and Cincinnati Reds; BJ Surhoff, Milwaukee Brewers and Baltimore Orioles; Shawon Dunston, Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants; Marty Appel, New York Yankees Media, author; John Sterling, YES Network Announcer; Carl Yastrzemski, Boston Red Sox, Cooperstown Hall of Fame; Sandy Koufax, Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers; CB Bucknor, Major League Umpire; Phil Schoff, Syracuse, St. Johnsville; Walt Weiss, Oakland Athletics, Colorado Rockies; Omar Minaya, New York Mets, MLB Players Association; and Andy Yager, upstate umpire.
“When you’re getting inducted side by side with all those Major League Baseball guys, it’s very humbling. It was professional all around, a very special night,” Mound said of the evening.
Mound has been coaching Union College baseball since 2011 and has led the Dutchmen to their fifth consecutive 20-win season, the longest active streak in the Liberty League. He is the third coach in the program history to reach the 150-career win mark.
“As I’m sitting there looking at the names of the people that are up on the podium in front of me, I’m sitting there going ‘what am I doing here?’” Mound laughed.
“I never got into doing all of this stuff to get recognized. I got into it simply because I love the game and I always wanted to give kids an opportunity like I had as a kid. When you start reflecting back on it, you think, ‘holy cow, I guess I did do more than I even realized I did,’” Mound said.
Mound’s high school baseball coach is also in the New York State Baseball Hall of Fame, along with three other people from his baseball organization, Saratoga Stampede.
DeGregory had a self-described, “very long and very productive career as a baseball player at whatever level I played at. Unfortunately, I wasn’t given the opportunity to play at the pro level but I played in Sienna, I played in Connecticut in the Norwich City League for two years, and in the Albany Twilight League,” DeGregory said.
DeGregory is no longer active in baseball, he is currently working at Newport News and has done so for the last 30 years. In his early adulthood, he tried out for the Houston Astros and was offered a playing contract with them that he turned down.
“There were some circumstances that I decided not to pursue the contract, I thought I would be given more opportunities and it just never happened that way but I was able to adjust and I have a great career in the naval nuclear program that I’ve been a part of for almost 35 years. I am really happy that although it didn’t work out for me in a baseball sense, I do have a very successful career outside of baseball,” DeGregory said.
“I was very honored to be a part of that ceremony and I am proud to be a part of that group of inductees and all of the other inductees over the years,” DeGregory stated.
“I would relive the night 100 times if I could,” Mound laughed.
“The event was fantastic, we were sold out. John DeGregory and Paul Mound were all well deserved, all gentlemen. They are well-respected within the local community. Paul is a tremendous success with Stampede and has done a remarkable job building Union baseball into a powerhouse. Degregory is the best hitter I ever saw, played with, or played against,” said Rene LeRoux, Executive Director of New York State Baseball Hall of Fame.
[Photos by www.PhotoAndGraphic.com]
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Renee Banagan is a senior at Saratoga Springs High School who has been playing field hockey for the Blue Streaks since seventh grade modified. She is the team goalie.
“I actually didn’t play field hockey last year, I took a break for the Robotics Team but I have been on the team since modified. I’ve just been with it ever since then and this year we actually ended up winning the Section II championship in the Class A division, which is really awesome. We made it to regionals and ended up losing to Baldwinsville, but that’s okay. We all just really wanted to win sectionals this year and we did that. We became a really strong family through this past month of field hockey and that was really cool. Field hockey is by no means an individual sport,” Banagan said.
Banagan had nothing but praise for her coach, Joanne Hostig, “playing for her is a lot of fun. She really cares about us and how we play on the field. She gives us every resource that we could really need to be at our best for every game. We’ve had personal trainers come in, we’ve had a lot of new equipment this year, and since Saratoga doesn’t have turf space, we’ve been able to rent out a lot of turf spaces thanks to our awesome Booster Club. So she really just tries to provide us with anything that we need to be the best that we can be.”
Banagan is also on the school’s Robotics Team and has been active since eighth grade.
“Way back in eighth grade, Mr. Sweeney, a technology teacher at Maple Ave Middle School had heard about this robotics program called VEX Robotics and he bought a starter kit and he told any kids that wanted to come in after school and help build a robot for a competition could drop by and help out. So me and ten other kids went and did that. I fell in love with it. The next year we bought a few more robot kits and grew into a couple separate teams and ended up competing all around NYS,” she explained.
This year, the Robotics Team was a state finalist, earning them a spot in the world competition in Kentucky. Banagan is in the TECHSMART Program, and through that she is earning a year’s worth of college credits and with a grant that they provide her, she is able to go to Hudson Valley Community College for a year free of cost.
“I think I might take advantage of that,” she laughed, “I’ll finish my associates degree in mechatronics, which is what I’m currently working towards, and then hopefully I’ll transfer to a four-year school like RIT and finish with a mechanical engineering degree.”
On top of robotics and field hockey, Banagan has been to Uganda twice, with a third trip this upcoming February, through AOET (AIDS Orphans Education Trust Fund).
“My neighbor is part of the New England Presbyterian Church and through that church there has been a lot of people who have gone to Uganda with this organization. My neighbor knew that I’d always wanted to travel so they informed me about this and I went for the first time in 2016. It was a two week medical mission trip. We were bringing over medical and school supplies for local schools over there. We performed somewhere around 600 physicals on children,” Banagan said.
Travel expenses for AOET are out of pocket. The money they fundraise goes into the organization, which has two schools in Uganda, a primary and a secondary school, and a medical clinic. The program also has a sponsorship aspect where people from around the world can sponsor a kid for $38 a month. This money provides them with schooling, access to the medical clinic, and at least one meal a day. Banagan’s trips typically line up with school breaks, resulting in her only missing one week of school instead of the full two that she’s gone.
“I always try to go in ahead of time and get my work. I always talk to my teachers, just to make sure they know what’s going on. They’re so great about helping me stay on track with what I need to know,” she said.
This year, her favorite teacher is Ms. Narkiewicz, her physics teacher.
“She’s a really great teacher. She really cares about her job and her students and she wants to build basically a class that’s going to help benefit us the best it can,” Banagan said of Narkiewicz.
Banagan said that the best part of her senior year is, “the freedom I have. It’s really awesome just to be able to do things with my friends after school.”
SARATOGA SPRINGS — On Saturday, Nov. 10 more than 60 Skidmore athletes raked leaves for senior citizens throughout Saratoga Springs. The volunteers split into five different groups, conquering more than a dozen yards.
In how the idea came to be, volleyball player Bailey Hutchins, a junior at Skidmore College, decided to combine her honors forum position and SAAC (student-athlete advisory committee) position to create a citizenship project, which is required for her to complete her minor.
A citizenship project is required of all honors students and is described as, “students should use their talents to contribute to campus and/or community life. A Citizenship Project will give [the student] the opportunity to develop a creative endeavor outside of the classroom or as an extension of a classroom experience.”
“I began thinking of ideas this summer when I was interning at the senior center on what I could do within the community that could be practical and meaningful. With the help of Lois, the executive director of Saratoga Senior Center, we determined an unmet need of the senior population was raking leaves in the fall,” Hutchins explained.
A total of 40 rakes were donated by Allerdice Hardware, Skidmore Facilities, and Skidmore Community Service.
“It was a chance to help seniors, even on a small scale, to live independently and age in place. We received a lot of positive feedback and gratitude. Even enjoying snacks seniors provided,” said Hutchins.
[All photos by Lori Mahan]
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Katie Ploss has been the troop leader of Troop # 3087 for the past three years. Her troop consists of 15 third graders who decided they wanted to build a Buddy Bench for their Greenfield Elementary School.
Lucy Ploss, one of the Girl Scouts, described the Buddy Bench as, “something that people can use to go to when they are lonely.”
The bench will be displayed on the playground for years to come. It is a place for any kid who is feeling lonely or left out to sit on and find a friend.
“The bench means that if someone is friendless they can go and somebody might sit down with them,” said Maya Balouskas, Girl Scout.
Ploss said that they started raising money for the bench in August; the girls decided a garage sale would be the best option for money raising and they all contributed items to sell in the Greenfield Town Wide Sale. By the end of the weekend, they had more than met their goal of $350. Once the bench was bought, the girls brought it to the school.
“We had every student in the entire school do a thumbprint in the shape of a rainbow on the back of the bench. We had a plaque made and then we put the school name on the back of the bench as well. Now the girls will implement how to use the bench. The principal has brought attention to the bench being outside and what it’s meant for, being kind and being there for people who are lonely,” Ploss explained.
“The Buddy Bench means kindness to me. Kids can have someone to play with and not be left out for the whole recess,” said Girl Scout Eliza Watson.
“The girls are doing a great job explaining to people what it’s used for and so for years to come it’ll be used by all the students in the school. We just really look forward to seeing it bring kindness. It’s really just about keeping the Girl Scout promise of being courageous, strong, friendly, and helpful, and the girls are doing a great job of showing how to carry that out,” Ploss commended.
In total, the bench cost approximately $350. The Buddy Bench can be found at the Greenfield Elementary School.
[All photos by www.PhotoAndGraphic.com]
SCHUYLERVILLE — From noon to 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 12 four troops in the Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York (GSNENY) chapter worked on achieving their First Aid badge or pin by learning about 911, the basics of first aid, such as using household items in a first aid situation and identifying cardiac and stroke symptoms, and meeting with local fire and EMS personnel from the General Schuylerville Emergency Squad and the Saratoga Hose Company, along with LifeNet paramedics. Coordinator Kim Austin has been Troop #3085 Leader for three years and was given this idea by other troop leader Lana Cawrse.
“We were lucky because one of the other troop leaders, Lana Cawrse, has a brother-in-law who is a paramedic for LifeNet, Andrew Cawrse. They had basically initiated this over a family dinner and when we talked about it and decided to open it up to all of the Schuylerville troops, a lot of that fell into my hands. LifeNet generously donated their helicopter and Hudson Crossing donated the location,” Austin explained.
Along with a helicopter for the girls to explore and learn about, two fire engines were present and the girls got a thorough tour of the compartments in both engines and a lesson on evacuating from a home in the event of a fire with their families and pets.
“I think the most exciting part of the day was being able to explore the helicopter and try on the gear and participate in a mock rescue. They also learned from the paramedics, Andrew and his partner Brian, about splinting broken limbs with household items like bags of peas and chopsticks. They also learned stroke awareness, identifying the signs of a stroke,” Austin said.
Though it was only 40 degrees that day, Austin said they were lucky that it was a “warm 40 degrees,” so the girls and their leaders could comfortably learn what was being offered to them.
“Every year the GSNENY allows them to earn another 1st aid badge or pin so they continue to increase their skills through the curriculum and they build confidence by seeing people participate in these things. The best thing is they were interacting with real personnel who do these things every day and who they might encounter in these situations. It may make them want to be involved in this type of occupation in the future,” Austin said.
The girls’ parents were excited about what was being offered to their daughters. “From the parents I talked to, they were very excited the girls were having such a rich experience and got to have 20 minutes with each station. They were excited to see the girls learn that much at such a young age,” Austin explained.
“It’s great when we can bring all the troops together for a really great learning experience that is memorable for the girls and continue to build community support for Girl Scouts. We’re not just about cookies and crafts. Our goal is to build the next generation of leaders, which I feel is certainly true in this situation,” Austin vocalized.
[Photo by Corbin Olsen]
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Coach Jeff Geller has been the boys varsity soccer coach at Saratoga Springs High School since 2001. Geller has been playing soccer for as long as he can remember. He has played everything from travel soccer, being fortunate enough to travel the USA and Europe, high school soccer, and collegiately at Siena College.
“Soccer is an amazing game because it takes an amazing amount of both technical skill and tactical awareness to be successful. While it’s great to be big, fast, and strong, it’s more important to have a great touch on the ball and make positive decisions quickly. While many people consider soccer ‘boring’ due to the low score-lines, I find the hundreds of ‘mini-battles’ within the game to be very exciting,” Geller explained.
The captains of this year’s team were Simon Smith, Conor Murphy, and Aidan O’Malley. Simon Smith, Aidan Rice, and Evan Farr also made first team Suburban Council; Conor Murphy made second team Suburban Council, and Aidan O’Malley made third team Suburban Council.
This season as a whole was described as “great” due to the fact that the team have spent numerous years playing club soccer and preparing themselves for this season.
Geller had nothing but positive things to say about his players and coaching staff.
“In the attack, Aidan Rice was a crafty forward to the ball, Eren Kilic was always a threat with his tough play, and Luke Clark was strong using his physical presence to keep the ball. Our midfield trip of Aidan O’Malley, Simon Smith and Evan Farr worked well together to possess the ball and find ways to advance the ball forward when it presented itself. We had a stellar defensive group this year with Conor Murphy, Jon Irons, Ryan Postlethwait, and Ben Leombruno giving 100% every match to keep the ball out of the Blue Streaks net. Goalkeeper Alex Henderson often had little to do in the back due to the strong defense but would often come up huge when called upon. The player who impressed the coaching staff tremendously this year was TJ Bradley, perhaps one of the fastest players in Section II, who would come out of nowhere to save the day for us in the back with his blazing speed,” Geller commended.
On the field, the team is described as a “well-oiled machine,” and off the field, the boys are known to be excellent students and very respectful young adults.
The team won the Suburban Council Championship with a record of 12-1-2, with a tie in the first round of Sectionals. They defeated La Salle in the quarterfinals and tied CBA in the semi-finals. After regulation and two overtime periods, the Blue Streaks lost 4-3 in penalty kicks that would decide who would advance to the Sectional Championship game.
“It was a heartbreaking way to end the season but we had our chances during the match to win in regulation but were unable to convert. Our final overall record was 13-1-3,” Geller said.
“Our goal is always to fight for a Suburban Council Championship and hopefully win a Section II title. We have been to the Section II semifinals the past three seasons, something no other team in the Suburban Council has accomplished. We have a huge core of juniors and sophomores returning next season so we will strive to replicate this season’s accomplishments or perhaps make it even further. If the boys continue to work hard in the off-season and come back next season ready to compete, I look forward to great things. It was a pleasure to coach this group of fine, young, student-athletes” Geller stated.
[Photos by www.PhotoAndGraphic.com]
SARATOGA SPRINGS – On Wednesday, Nov. 8 Saratoga Central Catholic High School held their third annual Mega Bowl, a volleyball game with faculty versus senior athletes of all sports. From the start, the whole crowd was excited and the senior athletes created a “pumped up” atmosphere. The faculty players were good sports, teasing the seniors with floor routines and special handshakes every time they’d score a point. Maria Izzo, varsity volleyball coach, was the very amused referee for Mega Bowl.
This event is held to raise money for the school, as the MC for the evening joked, “we really need your money, so donate. I am accepting personal checks and cash donations of up to $100 or even pocket change. But really, this goes to a great cause, we have a great school. Thank you.”
With that, the first set kicked off. Faculty came in hitting hard and it was hard to miss the amused expressions on the volleyball seniors faces. The seniors team consisted of boys and girls from all the different sports offered at Saratoga Central Catholic, including senior volleyball player Ani Crocker. The first set was won by the faculty, 25-20.
The second set saw some amusing anecdotes as the ball came down and one senior girl hit it with her shin exclaiming, “I’m a soccer player!” The crowd went wild with laughter. The faculty dominated this set again, winning 25-16.
The third set saw a change up in the seniors roster, bringing in MVP volleyball player Grace Fornabia. It was then clear to the faculty that they would have to step up their game as Fornabia effortlessly made the points rise. The third set was won by the seniors, 25-10.
During halftime, there was a $1 volleyball serve game. Crowd members could pay $1 to serve the ball and see if they could make it into any of the three trash cans set up. Grace O’Reilly, junior varsity volleyball player, came the closest to sinking the ball.
Since the faculty did not win the third set, a fourth set was required. The seniors won the fourth set, 25-23, creating a tie between teams and requiring a fifth and final set. The faculty fought hard in the fifth set to keep their winning title for the third year in a row but ultimately, the seniors won for the first time, 25-21.
The mix of different specialty athletes versus faculty members made for an amusing but athletically skilled game. The point of the game was to raise money and have a good time. That certainly seemed to be accomplished.
SARATOGA SPRINGS - Skidmore College faculty and staff are joining together for the twelfth consecutive year through a program called Skidmore Cares, a program to raise donations of food, provisions, and school supplies to assist those in need in Saratoga County.
On Tuesday, Nov. 7 a kickoff luncheon was held on campus where approximately 150 Skidmore faculty members attended, including President Philip A. Glotzvach who, along with his wife Marie, founded Skidmore Cares in 2006, which has raised a total of $82,636 in the last 12 years.
“The power of our community is truly remarkable,” said Marie Glotzbach, “Phil and I are most grateful for the philanthropy of our colleagues who each year help to make Skidmore Cares more generous than the last.”
SARAT0GA SPRINGS – On Tuesday, Oct. 30 New York State Senator James Tedisco (R, C – 49th Senate District) toured the F. Donald Myers Education Center in Saratoga Springs. Members of Future Farmers of America (FFA) and SkillsUSA led the tour, providing Senator Tedisco with information about the Career and Technical Education programs they are enrolled in. Students in the Exceptional Learners Division made presentations about their Boys Town Merit projects.
FFA is an American 501 youth organization, specifically a career and technical student organization, based on middle and high school classes that promote and support agricultural education. SkillsUSA is a United States career and technical student organization serving more than 395,000 high school, college, and middle school students and professional members enrolled in training programs.
Tedisco is a former special education teacher, guidance counselor, athletic director, and coach.
“I think this program is a building block. When you are standing on a building block you have an advantage over a lot of other young people. This is a program that gives them that information, that education, to be ready for industry. Preparation is what education is about. This is real preparation,” Tedisco said.
WSWHE BOCES Superintendent of Schools, James Dexter told the senator that all CTE programs, as well as most Exceptional Learning programs include internships, or job shadowing, which provides students with real world experiences, and exposure to prospective employers or continuing education opportunities.
Environmental Conservation and Forestry Program Instructor, Dennis Flynn spoke about FFA and the national convention his students recently returned from.
“The forestry program has an articulation agreement with Paul Smiths College. Students can finish this program with five college credits at Paul Smiths. Nine of my students who completed the forestry program in 2017 are attending Paul Smiths this year,” Flynn acknowledged.
Also during his visit, Tedisco had the chance to see a Regents math class. Shayne Bishop, an instructor in the Exceptional Learners Division, showed the senator how he works with students to engage them in mathematics.
“We like to connect the real world with some of the algebra and geometry that we are working on. This is just one class of many,” Bishop stated.
Senator Tedisco made a comment that when he meets local businesses they tell him that while there are many good jobs to have but not enough skilled workers to work them.
“We are fortunate to have great relationships with industry partners,” Dexter assured Tedisco.
“The kids did a great job, you are all dong a great job. Now we, the Senate and the Assembly, need to do our job and make sure the funding comes through to keep supporting these programs,” Tedisco said.