SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Saratoga Regional YMCA is restarting their Over 25 Basketball League this April through June. This league will follow up the youth league and Over 50 League, that end their seasons in late March. Similar to the Over 50 League, this league will not have any coaches, instead the captains of each team will act as a coach. Games will take place every Wednesday night, with two games at 7 p.m. and two games at 8 p.m. Games will be played four on four at half-court, so two can take place at a time.
As far as fees go, Mike Laudicina, program coordinator, says that “it all depends on what team the player is on, because the fee is by teams. Some teams have 10 players, so it’s less expensive.”
About 50 percent of the players who have signed up so far played in the youth league when they were kids and were too young to play in the Over 50 League, now they have a place to play organized basketball again.
“It’s a program that we used to have years ago when we were at the Broadway facility and when we moved here it was a little hard to run it because at Broadway we were in a closed gym and here, you know the players have to watch their language and different things because children walk around on the track. So when we first moved here, we thought it was better to drop the program, but we had so many people asking about it and we had hoped to get six teams and we have eight teams so far, so it’s something that is needed and wanted,” Laudicina explained.
This program will run every spring, and if successful, may also run in the fall, depending on gym availability.
“I don’t need to talk much about it because people are signing up already! I don’t even have sign-ups out, but the gentlemen involved have been going around and getting teams, but we do still have spots available,” Laudicina said.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Hunter Chandler, a 15-year-old sophomore at Saratoga Springs High School, is an all-star athlete: bowling, where he’s going to states this week, baseball, and potentially football next season. On the lanes, Chandler had the third high in the series at sectionals, sixth in the overall series, which he won via a rolloff with a teammate he had tied with, and second highest average in the council. On the baseball field, he is primarily a catcher and secondarily in the outfield. Chandler will be going to the state championships for bowling, due to his total 1,246 pin-fall in sectionals. His friend also had the same total pin-fall, which resulted in the two doing a three game roll-off to decide who would be going to states.
“Most of my family bowls and I enjoyed watching my brother bowl,” Chandler said.
“I feel like this bowling season was good for me but I also feel like it was good for the team. We managed to challenge ourselves to see what we could and couldn’t do, and what we couldn’t do we always ended up working out in practice,” Chandler explained.
Chandler enjoyed working under his coaches as well.
“The coaches would talk to you and ask you what you think you need to change, they let us do our thing and figure it out for ourselves and they’d offer advice if we couldn’t figure it out,” Chandler said. Out of the bowling alley, Chandler focuses on his academics.
“I think I’m doing well, last I checked everything looked good,” he said.
His favorite subject?
“Does gym count?” he laughed, “if I had to choose, I’d say Earth Science.” Chandler does sports yearround, which doesn’t leave much time for anything else.
“My mother has done so much for me, I owe her to do my best,” Chandler said, citing his mom, Tammy, as his inspiration.
“She’s the one that always brings me to practices and games. When I’m feeling down, she always helps me feel better,” Chandler explained.
Chandler is a part of the PTech Program, which is an interactive course that is for ninth through twelfth grade. In ninth and tenth grade, students take regular classes, in eleventh and twelfth grade, students spend the first half of the day at SUNY Adirondack taking classes and the second half of the day at the high school. Between those two years, student will earn their first year at college toward their associate’s degree, he is thinking about being in the advanced manufacturing field.
“I prefer hands-on work,” he explained.
Chandler will be bowling at states Saturday, March 10 in Syracuse.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) announced a major capital improvement project at Saratoga Race Course designed to create an enhanced hospitality area for racing fans and revitalize the section of the grandstand near the Top of the Stretch. The Stretch, located in the grandstand at the Top of the Stretch, will debut on opening day of the 2018 Saratoga summer meet and marks the first significant enhancement to the structure since the mid-1960s. Guests will have an opportunity to make their move to The Stretch, an all-new private hospitality area featuring modern and upscale amenities in a casual environment with breathtaking views of thoroughbreds rounding the final turn as they enter the dramatic stretch run. Highlights of the area include three types of boxes available in multiple configurations, a high-end raised circular bar, touchscreen tablets, and new premium reserved seating. Additionally, The Stretch will offer guests exclusive access to a fullservice kitchen and concessions, high-definition televisions and video screens, special events, table service, and private restrooms. Guests will also enjoy a relaxed dress code at The Stretch. Reserved seating options for The Stretch are now available for paid reservation on a seasonal basis. Inventory is limited and expected to sell quickly for what is anticipated to be one of the most popular hospitality options at Saratoga Race Course this summer.
Guests now enjoy more than 1,000 new high-definition televisions throughout the property; 950 picnic tables available for free on a firstcome, first-serve basis in the backyard; new high-definition video boards; enhanced Wi-Fi and sound systems; a renovated and redesigned Saratoga Family Zone; and the renovation of the upper and lower Carousel, amongst other items.
“Over the past five years, we have placed a tremendous emphasis on enhancing the guest experience at this much beloved sporting venue. We first made a commitment to expand the number of free picnic tables in the backyard with improved sound, video and Wi-Fi, and then to make a day at Saratoga more affordable than ever for fans with our season pass and Season Perks programs,” said New York Racing Association CEO and President Chris Kay.
“We have also dedicated significant resources to showcase the history of this grand place, from the Whitney Viewing Stand to the Saratoga Walk of Fame, to the restoration of the Paddock Mutuel Building. Now, for the first time in many decades, we are creating new boxes for people of all ages to enjoy a day at historic Saratoga Race Course,” he continued.
In 2018, the grandstand will also be outfitted with a new copper roof which will offer protection from the elements and improve the experience for guests. “The new copper roof will protect the grandstand from weather damage and provide an aesthetic experience in keeping with the building’s historic character,” said Matt Hurff, partner at the Saratoga Springsbased Frost Hurff Architects who serves as a consultant to NYRA.
“The Stretch will offer guests the best of both worlds - modern, comfortable and technologicallyadvanced amenities, seamlessly integrated into the charm of America’s oldest continuously operating race course,” Hurff explained.
The Stretch will offer a total of 32 new modern boxes, each offering unique configurations accommodating parties ranging from four to 12 guests, in comparison to traditional clubhouse boxes which each seat five guests. The options include tiered boxes, which each feature a halfmoon table and total of eight seats split evenly on two levels. The lounge boxes offer comfortable couch-style seating and accommodate four to twelve guests. Lastly, the flex boxes contain three tables which each seat up to four people, and can be configured to host four, eight, or 12 guests, depending on availability and the size of the party. Guests will also enjoy an upscale circular bar, featuring a full range of beverage options, which is raised to offer uninterrupted views of the unique sightline from the Top of the Stretch. The bar will be bordered by a drink rail facing the main track with a total of 20 raised seats. Additionally, a two-tiered dining area alongside the bar will feature four, six and eight-person tables. The front section of The Stretch will contain approximately 200 premium reserved seats, which are each flanked by a table. The boxes, reserved bar seats, and dining tables will feature touchscreen tablets offering access to livestreaming, mobile wagering via NYRA Bets, and mobile food and beverage ordering. All hospitality at The Stretch will first be available to the general public on a seasonal basis. Remaining inventory will be available for partial ticket plans beginning in April (based on availability).
The 2018 meet at historic Saratoga Race Course will again be highlighted by the Grade 1, $1.2 million Whitney and the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers, the centerpieces of two of the biggest days in North American racing. The 40-day meet, which includes 69 stakes worth $18.8 million in purses, will run from Friday, July 20, through Labor Day, Monday, September 3. After opening weekend, racing will be conducted six days a week, Wednesdays through Mondays. For more information about Saratoga Race Course, visit www. NYRA.com/Saratoga
GLENS FALLS — Tony Hammel, varsity basketball coach at Glens Falls High School for 25 seasons, is taking to his retirement very well. Over a 25-year career, Hammel saw a lot of great team’s cycle through.
Starting in 1991, “we started off with good athletes and it took a lot of work to get us to a point where we were successful year in and year out. In order to get to that point, I had a lot of help. I had a great assistant, Dave Casey, JV coach Steve Zurlo, and the parents that we had of the kids that were playing for me, they were great. They’d take the kids to different tournaments during the summer and the off-season and it was just a lot of people helping get to where they are right now,” Hammel reminisced.
Hammel remembers all his teams, some for humous reasons.
“On our 1999 team, we didn’t have anybody over 6 foot on that team. We were fortunate enough to make it to the state tournament, anyway. Those kids were tough, hard-nosed, grinded out, defensive players. They were fun to coach and fun to watch. People would watch us warm up with that team and they’d say, ‘who are these guys? What are they doing here?’ They were small, but they were tough.”
Hammel remained humble in his coaching career, always surprised when year after year, his team moved forward in sectionals and, twice, to states.
“Our first time we got to go to the Civic Center was in 1995, that was the biggest deal. I remember getting cards from elementary kids and different things like that saying, 'congratulations, you made it to the Civic Center,' and we got beat by 40 points. Two years later we made it again, and we got beat by 42 points. Then in 1999, we made it again and we won our first sectional championship. That year we went out to LeMoyne to play in the regionals and we were fortunate to win out there. We then went back to the state tournament at the Civic Center and that was a huge event. The hometown team coming back and I said, ‘you know what? This is never going to happen again, I can’t see it happening,’” Hammel said.
However, in 2003, the Indians were back at the Civic Center, winning another sectional championship, made it back to states again as a result, where they won their first game in the semi-finals and lost the second game by 20 points.
“I always say we won half of a state championship because we were up three points at halftime,” he laughed.
After 2003, Hammel didn’t think states would happen again, “and then Jimmer comes along with that group. Even though Jimmer was a great player, he had some real good players around him,” Hammel said.
“We went down to the draft and just to see the excitement and everything around Jimmer was pandemonium. It was surreal. We went to his final game at Brigham Young University his senior year and we all went out to dinner afterward, and people would stop his car just to get his autograph. He was like a movie star,” Hammel said of Jimmer Fredette.
Hammel taught third and sixth grade in the district and always said, “I had the best job in the world. It was great, I went from eight-year-olds all day and then I was able to work with sixteen to eighteen-year-olds. A lot of the time, I always told my team, my eight-year-olds were smarter than them,” he laughed.
“I had a lot of support throughout my career, including my wife Pat. She filmed all our games, she helped with the organization and paper work with our Super Hooper Camp, and she even made lasagna every Sunday for the team to enjoy after practice in the early stages of us building the program. She was an intricate part of us being successful,” Hammel said, praising his wife.
“Coaching was a great experience, something I’ll never forget. I was very lucky to have the job that I had,” Hammel said as he pulled into the golf course.
After retiring from coaching in 2015 and teaching in 2016, Hammel took to the golf course and started enjoying his time off.
SARATOGA SPRINGS - Nearly 100 students from grades three through five will be on stage for Lake Avenue Elementary School’s Drama Club performance, “A Puzzling Adventure” starting at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 9 and Saturday, March 10. This show marks the 13th year of the school’s Drama Club, founded by Mrs. Beth Dennett, a former Saratoga Springs School District long-term substitute and now a tenured English teacher at Queensbury High. Many of the shows over the past two decades were written in collaboration with Dennett’s sisters and all of them included at least one of her five children, if not on stage, helping behind the scenes. “A Puzzling Adventure,” holds a special place in Dennett’s heart for another reason. It was written by two of her former Saratoga High students, Davawn Hartz and Ben Jacob. Davawn, now a junior at Columbia University, wrote it to share with the kids how much fun theater can be.
“I greatly respect and admire Mrs. Dennett’s commitment to children’s theater programs” noted Hartz, who was also a counselor at Beth’s Backyard Players Summer Theater Camp.
“We wanted to give her a theatrical thank you for inspiring us for so many years,” added Jacob, who is majoring in music composition at NYU.
He and Davawn developed the show’s concept two years ago and are thrilled it’s finally being produced.
“Our goal was to write an inclusive show that was a little quirky but had a strong message of staying true to yourself and pursuing your passions,” explained Jacob.
The 2018 show will also be Dennett’s last year as Director, since the youngest Dennett will be graduating from Lake Ave. Elementary in June. According to school principal, Dr. Barbara Messier, the Drama Club parents all say the same thing about Dennett.
“She has an amazing gift of instilling a deep-seeded confidence in children that stays with them as they grow. The fact that two former students wrote this show for her while in college is testament to Beth’s giftedness,” praised Messier.
Each year, Dr. Messier, dressed in her finest, welcomes the audience by saying it is the school’s most shining night.
“We are forever grateful to Beth Dennett and her dedicated production staff, including Johnny Martinez, Laura Faulk, Amy Ripchik, Kelly Winters, Joseph Wagner and Chris Podeswa, for giving so many years to this extremely popular, characterbuilding club,” Messier said.
One of Beth’s well-known mantras is, “There are no small parts, only small actors.”
Now close to 1300 of those small actors have had the pleasure of playing a part in Dennett’s Drama Club legacy at Lake Ave.
“A Puzzling Adventure” will no doubt be a delight, and especially exciting for writers Davawn and Ben, but given that it is Beth’s final performance as Director, it will be a bittersweet adventure as well.
SOUTH GLENS FALLS — Beginning in 1978, South Glens Falls High School has hosted a marathon dance to raise money for local families and charities in need. Raising $1,500 that first year, which was donated to a local EMS Squad, every year the numbers have climbed, resulting in $831,191.15 in 2018. High school students in grades nine through twelve gathers for 28 hours of dancing for a crowd that fills the entire bleachers.
Donating to a dancer is not the only way to contribute; vendors, raffles, and silent auctions also fill the school and donate their proceeds. At the end of the dance, awards are presented to the students who raised the most money, the raffle awards, the live auction, and the highly anticipated tally of the money raised.
“What struck me this year was really how many different school districts and businesses outside of South Glens Falls participate and have fundraisers for Marathon. It’s as if for this one incredible weekend, all the surrounding communities are united as one- united as Bulldogs. I was a student co-chair for the Marathon from 2009-2011 so I remember how much work goes into the dance and how dedicated the students are to make sure it is the best Marathon for our recipients,” said Kelly McFarlane, an alumnus of South Glens Falls, via email.
“I’ve been photographing SHMD since around 2001 or 2002,” said photographer Gus Carayiannis, “and it never ceases to amaze me to see and feel the passion and energy the students have for the marathon dance. They really form a unique bond with the recipients that is beautiful to see each year, and it makes you realize that they are becoming equipped to do some pretty special things when they leave high school.”
With 42 recipients in 2018, $831,191 will go a long way. According to one recipient, The Family of Austin Naylor, during the application process, applicants are asked to specify an amount and the reason it is needed. Each recipient gets their money directly deposited into an account with their name on it.
“We requested $30,000 for a wheelchair-accessible van that can be a reliable and safe vehicle for Austin to travel in and one that will last as many years as possible,” said Crystal Irwin-Naylor, Austin’s mother.
Austin Naylor was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy in April 2013.
“I felt amazed and excited at the dance and what they do for people who are in need,” Naylor said.
Irwin-Naylor says her son now shows “a great interest in volunteering at the dance every year from here on out.”
“I love getting to reunite with past recipients and hearing their stories of how the dance gave them hope and strength when they needed it most. As individuals, we sometimes think that we can’t make a difference, but this dance shows that every single person makes an impact and together we change lives,” McFarlane expressed.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Saratoga Regional YMCA launched its Annual Campaign on Feb. 26 to ensure that everyone in the community has access to vital community programs and resources that support youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Every day, the Saratoga Regional YMCA works to support the people and neighborhoods that need it most by addressing community issues, nurturing the potential of every child and teen, improving our community’s health, and giving back and provide support to our neighbors who need it most.
“Throughout our region, countless people know the Y. But there’s so much more to our Y than one might think,” said Andrew Bobbitt, Chief Executive Officer of the Saratoga Regional YMCA.
“The Y allows our community to connect and engage with their friends and neighbors. In essence, you become a part of the Y family. As a charity, we’re dedicated to continuing to bring our community together, addressing their most pressing needs, and ensuring everyone has access to our programs and services,” said Bobbitt.
This year, the Saratoga Regional YMCA hopes to raise $400,000. The Annual Campaign provides lifechanging experiences and makes our whole community stronger through YMCA child care, summer camp, aquatics, sports, wellness and many other vital programs and services, assuring that no one is turned away due to lack of funds. Last year, charitable gifts from YMCA donors made it possible for the YMCA to award $488,490 in financial assistance. This year they anticipate that number growing to over $500,000.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Patrick Deschaine, an eighth grader at Maple Avenue Middle School, is currently a star on the YMCA Youth Basketball League.
“I love sports, they’re the biggest part of my life,” Deschaine said.
Deschaine has been playing on the YMCA team for the last two years.
“One day I was at the Y playing basketball and Mike Laudicina called me over and asked me if I wanted to play in the league for sixth through eighth grade,” he explained.
Deschaine, however, was asked by Mike Laudicina, basketball league coordinator, to move up in the league to the high school division for grades nine through twelve.
“This is my second year playing and I like it, it’s pretty fun,” Deschaine said.
“First of all, he is in the eighth grade which would be in our junior division but he’s so big and so good that I asked his parents if he could move up to the ninth through twelfth graders. He did, and he has flourished. He’s a great team player, a leading scorer,” Laudicina said via phone.
He also enjoys baseball and considers that to be his main sport.
“I focus more on baseball, but basketball is a game I play competitively, and I still have a lot of fun with it. I like competition, it’s fun, but playing with younger kids doesn’t really make me better or get me to where I want to be so playing with older people makes me better and gets me to where I want to be,” he said of the YMCA league.
Deschaine plays on the Village Photo team for the YMCA, as a center or power forward. For baseball, he is a pitcher and first basemen.
“I didn’t really start playing basketball until I was in fourth grade, but I love every sport and basketball came naturally to me. I started playing at the rec center with some of my friends and I played there for three years and then I moved on because that league was getting a little too easy so moving up to the Y and playing with the high schoolers, it’s just more competition and it makes it more entertaining for me,” he said.
“He’s just an all-around good kid. Always looking to help. He helped a little in the summer with summer league. He’s a kid of very good quality, not just a good ball player, but a good student in school too. He’s really adapted and is playing very well. I would be ecstatic if he was my son, he’s such a good kid that if I could have a son like him I definitely would,” Laudicina said, highly praising Deschaine.
Other than sports, Deschaine said that school is going well, and his favorite subject is science “because we’re doing a lot of labs. I like hands-on activities way better than taking notes all class.”
Next year he will be a high school freshman and he is excited to be involved in high school athletics.
“It’s going to be a fun experience playing with older kids,” he stated.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Four racehorses, three jockeys and three trainers account for the 10 finalists selected to the National Museum of Racing’s 2018 Hall of Fame ballot, as chosen by the Museum’s Hall of Fame Nominating Committee. The finalists are: racehorses Blind Luck, Gio Ponti, Havre de Grace and Heavenly Prize; jockeys Robby Albarado, Corey Nakataki and Craig Perret; and trainers Mark Casse, John Shirreffs and David Whiteley. Hall of Fame voters may select as many candidates as they believe are worthy of induction to the Hall of Fame. All candidates that receive majority approval (50.1 percent or higher) of the voting panel will be elected to the Hall of Fame. The former rule capping the number of inductees at four has been eliminated by the Museum’s Executive Committee. All the finalists were required to support from two-thirds of the Nominating Committee to qualify for the ballot.
The results of the voting on the contemporary candidates will be announced on Monday, April 16. The induction ceremony will be held at the Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., on Friday, Aug. 3 at 10:30 a.m. The ceremony will be open to the public and is free to attend. The finalists were selected by the Hall of Fame’s Nominating Committee from a total of 90 initial candidates suggested by turf journalists, thoroughbred industry participants and racing fans. To be eligible, trainers must have been licensed for 25 years, while jockeys must have been licensed for 20 years. Thoroughbreds are required to be retired for five calendar years before becoming eligible. All candidates must have been active within the past 25 years. The 20 and 25-year requirements for jockeys and trainers, respectively, may be waived, at the discretion of the Museum’s Executive Committee. Candidates not active within the past 25 years are eligible through the Historic Review process. Visit www.racingmuseum.org for more information.
[Photos by www.PhotoAndGraphic.com]
- Division I
- Record: 46-1
- Ballston Spa Senior
- State Champion for Ballston Spa during 2016-2017 wrestling season.
- Pinned Matt Rogers of Wantagh in 17 seconds in Saturdays’ semi-final round.
- Lost to Grant Cuomo, Brewster, in state finals. Cuomo outpointed Barnes, 13-10.
- Barnes is North Carolina State bound in fall 2018.
- Division II
- Record: 40-1
- Schuylerville Senior
- Three-time State Champ (2016, 2017, 2018)
- Pinned Vince Miceli, Port Jefferson, at 1:33 in the final win.
- Anderson is Binghamton bound in fall 2018 on a full ride scholarship with an injury guarantee.
- Anderson’s father and coach, Buck, is now retiring after coaching wrestling for the last 30 years.