Displaying items by tag: basketball

Thursday, 13 June 2019 14:04

Rich Johns: Coaching Students Through Life

SARATOGA SPRINGS —  In 2010 schoolteacher, tennis and basketball coach Rich Johns, retired from the traditional structures of education and coaching and began a nonprofit known as Act With Respect Always (AWRA). The organization has flourished and has taken Coach Johns to schools as far as Duke University and as local as Saratoga Springs High. This month would be the sixth month that AWRA has trademarked it’s new Visibility Project. 
AWRA is an organization, and a mission in itself; to treat yourself and others with kindness and respect. Through speaking engagements, Johns uses his platform to promote others to create opportunities to make positive impacts in another person’s life. 
The new factor of AWRA - the Visibility Project, takes interacting with someone one step further – to be seen. 
“When you become visible, you’re strong, and you believe in yourself, I hope,” said Johns. 
This project promotes reaching out to others and letting them know their presence and visibility in this society is of importance. 
“Part of my mission before I leave a school is to stress to those adults in that environment, connect with them, and tell them I’m one of your solid five, and you can get in touch with me,” said Johns. “To me, making young kids know that they have this solid group with them, and they love you, they care for you, and they’ll do anything for you makes you visible."

At each speaking engagement, Johns attends, he makes a point to bring a book and postcards. This is not only to leave students, athlete and the teachers with something to incorporate but to provide an opportunity to encourage connection through the written word. 
The new AWRA T-Shirt that states “The Visibility Project” is marked with a large, vibrant yellow circle on the back. Literally visible at afar, but meaningfully visible to the wearer, who are all connected through the message of the Visibility Project. 
AWRA IS A 501 © 3 charitable organization. To get involved or to support the organization be visible, and connect with Coach Rich Johns through Facebook or Instagram or actwithrespectalways.com. 
Published in Sports
Thursday, 21 March 2019 13:04

Grace O'Reilly: Athlete of the Week

Photos provided.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Catholic’s Junior athlete Grace O’Reilly takes the values instilled in her at home onto the playing fields.
“I grew up in a family of three kids…both my parents played sports in high school. It’s in the family,” said O’Reilly.
O’Reilly participates in cross-country, track and field, volleyball, basketball and softball. Her father is also the Varsity coach for Spa Catholic’s softball team, of which both O’Reilly and her sister are players for.
Sometimes being the coach’s kid isn’t easy as the standards her father sets for her at home are also expected of her on the field.
“He (her father) knows me at home, so he knows the potential I have in the sports that I play, so he pushes me that much harder,” said O’ Reilly. “He does it with my sister, also. He knows our potential and he wants us to succeed.”
After some deliberation, O’Reilly would say that Yankee’s Derek Jeter would be her favorite athlete because she believes him to be a humble as well as a phenomenal athlete.
“He reminds me of the morals in my family, which are faith, courage, and strength. My dad has engraved that into the family - into our daily lives,” said O’Reilly.
Faith, courage, and strength are certainly at the forefront of the O’Reilly family’s minds, and it is evident in the way 17-year-old O’Reilly believes her parents to be the biggest inspiration in sports and in life.
“They’re (her parents) both constantly working and providing for us. They take time out of their day to make sure that we’re okay, to make sure that we’re happy. Even if they’re not happy.”
O’Reilly’s favorite sport is volleyball, and it’s because she enjoys being an independent part of a team, where each player has their part to assist each other in reaching an overall success. 
Much like on a sports team, a family operates the same way. O’Reilly notices that balancing school work and sports can be challenging, but with her family's support, she is able to flourish.
“My family supports me a lot so they can tell when I’m feeling down and they’ll say ‘hey, you need a mental day, or you need to not go to practice.”
For O’Reilly, family and fitness are one in the same. She hopes to continue to be a part of teams through college.
Published in Sports
SARATOGA SPRINGS — This past Sunday, The Saratoga Blue Streaks brought home the championship trophy, for the first time in 30 years by defeating Bethlehem, 69-58 at the Class AA championship game.
 
Each year a new group of students tries out for the team, and each year the teams have a different approach to the season. This year Coach Mike Ushers had his team working on their goal from the very first day of practice.
 
“We talked about trying to be a tough defensive team. That’s something our guys have really bought into and take pride in,” said Coach Ushers. “When we work hard on a defensive end, it seems to help us play better on the other end of the floor.”
 
This season started off with a few ups and downs, and that their performances in a few early season games were not up to par. But the team knew that they had a fighting chance at making the 
playoffs once their game started to improve.
 
“It was great to see them mature and grow into their roles as the season went along. We had a lot of new faces and guys that were in smaller roles last year that had to step up and take on more responsibility this season,” said Coach Ushers. “It took a few games and a couple of months to figure out how we were gonna play our best. It’s been great to see them play their best when it matters most.”
 
Seven players are seniors and will be graduating in June. Coach Ushers has not yet thought about how he will shape his team for next year, as he tries to focus on one year at a time. Right now, he just wants his team to finish out their season strong. 
 
The Blue Streaks basketball team will be playing out in Syracuse this Saturday, March 9, as they compete against West Genesee in the Section III championships. The game will be held at Onondaga Community College at 3:45 p.m. 
Published in Sports
Thursday, 28 February 2019 13:10

Lauren Maher: Athlete of the Week

Photos Provided.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Catholic’s varsity athlete Lauren Maher is a year-round athlete who reminds us that the adrenaline rush of a sport is nothing without the sense of community that athletics generate.

 
Kristen, Maher’s older sister, and biggest inspiration, was on her way to soccer tryouts when she encouraged then nine-year-old Maher to take up soccer herself. That small dose of sibling bonding jumpstarted Lauren’s athletic career.
 
Shortly after, Maher joined some of her friends in trying their hand at hoops. Leading into middle and high school, Maher bloomed into an all-year jock as she joined not only the soccer and basketball teams, but her track and field and cross-country team as well.
 
The Spa Catholic soccer team captain says without hesitation that soccer is her favorite sport. In addition to playing for her school, Maher is also a player for Nirvana 360’s travel soccer team. Nirvana 360 has traveled to Washington D.C and Disney, where they played on the ESPN field.
 
Even with all the glam that comes with the sport, the engagement with her teammates is a part of what makes her love the game.
 
“I find it (soccer) the most fun and I connect with my team more. My favorite part about soccer is probably just being able to win with my team.” 
 
Playing and competing all year can be draining for any young athlete. Maher practices on the field, track, court and off, every single day. During basketball season, she only has one day of the week to rest. Luckily Maher has avoided serious injuries due to training herself to recover physically, mentally and by utilizing her strong familial support system.
 
“They (her family) always come to my games and push me to do better,” said Maher.
 
Maher is constantly motivated to do better at every meet and game. To get herself in the zone, she feeds off the energy of her teammates to keep her in a good mood and remind her of who she is competing for.
 
“I don’t know if I have a least favorite part,” said Maher. “I guess if I do something bad and let my team down.”
 
Maher hopes to continue playing soccer into college and to create more meaningful team connections.
Published in Sports
Thursday, 21 February 2019 12:35

Connor Johnson: Athlete of the Week

Photos provided.

Connor Johnson is an 8th grader at Galway Central Jr./Sr. High School who plays basketball at the YMCA Wilton Branch, as well as for his school and the Athletic Armature Union. 
“Connor enjoys helping and teaching the other kids there (at the YMCA) how to play basketball,” said Cynthia Johnson, Connor’s Mom.

Question: How old were you when you started playing basketball?
Answer: I started playing when I was 12. I started playing at the Y.

Question: What made you want to get into basketball?
Answer: It was something I always wanted to do. 

Question: Who is your favorite professional athlete?
Answer: Curry, Stephen Curry. I like that he’s little and going against the pros. He was doubted when he was a kid, and now he’s proven everyone wrong.

Question: Who are you most inspired by?
Answer: The most inspiring thing to me is my family, and my grandparents. But other things that inspire me are my coaches, my friends; the YMCA is a inspiring thing for me.

Questions: Who are your biggest fans?
Answer: My papsy, my mom and my family.

Question: What is your favorite thing about basketball?
Answer: I like the competitive side of it and I like that there is a lot of action. 

Question: Least favorite?
Answer: Injuries and getting hurt. 

Question: Have you had many injuries?
Answer: Not a lot, but I have had rolled ankles here and there. 

Question: What do you do to get hyped up for a game?
Answer: The people around me pump me up saying ‘you’re gonna do good out there!’ I warm up and stretch.

Connor is already looking at colleges in hopes of continuing to play basketball, the sport he loves, wherever he attends. 

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 13 February 2019 19:00

Nick Budesheim: Athlete of the Week

Photos Provided.

SCHUYLERVILLE — Clarkson University will be ushering local varsity basketball player Nick Budesheim into the next phase of his basketball and academic career.

Budesheim comes from a family of Celtics fans, which inspired him to pursue basketball himself when he was in the fourth grade. Though Budesheim also plays for the school’s soccer team, basketball quickly became his favorite sport.

“I just found that to be something that you can do by yourself, it motivates you constantly,” said Budesheim. “Everything about it makes me love it.”

There was not a thing that Budesheim could find that didn’t bring him joy. As he’s matured, Budesheim has learned that the less pleasurable aspects such as early and long practices, running and conditioning are not all that bad, as they only help him to improve his game.

A rigorous sports schedule incorporated into applying to colleges can become overwhelming for any scholar-athlete, but not for Budesheim.

“You just have to find a balance and always keep your head up,” said Budesheim.

Budesheim finds inspiration from his family and friends, who are also his biggest support systems. Their support has aided him through every game, alongside a small before game superstition of his. 

“I always chew the same kind of gum…extra polar ice,” said Budesheim.
 
Though his time playing for Schuylerville is coming to an end, he does want to leave the up and coming athletes of Saratoga County with a few words of wisdom.
 
“Work hard when no one is looking,” explains Budesheim.  “Know that if you put in the work, that’s gonna make you a better basketball player.”
 
Published in Sports
Thursday, 07 February 2019 16:42

Aidan Holmes: Athlete of the Week

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga High School Junior Aidan Holmes has a burning passion, and growing appreciation for the game of basketball.
Basketball is a family affair for the Holmes family as Aidan’s father was also a player on the Saratoga High basketball team and needless to say Holmes was inspired to follow suit. 
“I’ve always had a basketball in my hands since I was little,” said Holmes.
Holmes began playing organized basketball when he was in the second grade by starting in the Jr. NBA at Gavin Park and continued all the way through middle school where he progressed to the Junior Varsity, then Varsity team – of which he is now one of the two team captains. Along the way, he spent some time playing for travel teams, modified leagues and the Capital District Youth Basketball League.
Aside from being the inspiration to pursue basketball, his family is his leading support system.
“My whole family supports me no matter what’s going on,” said Holmes.  “After a bad game, they’ll say ‘good game’."
While off the court, Holmes can be found training at 518 Athlete, working with his trainer Aidan Howley.
“He does a lot of things to help motivate me to be better each and every day and be a better me than from the day before,” said Holmes.
As much love and support he receives from his family and trainer, Holmes projects the same energy towards his teammates.
“I love seeing all of them every single day. And that’s made me like the game even more,” said Howley.
For many people there tends to be a least favorite aspect for any activity one engages in but for Holmes, he’s learned to grow from his dislike of early morning practice and has found a new appreciation for it.
“Now I like doing that (early practices) as much as I like playing the games,” explains Holmes.
“I realized that sooner than later I’m gonna be looking back on it. So, I don’t want to take anything for granted anymore.”
Holmes plans to continue playing the sport, at any level, or league, for as long as he can. It’s clear that once there is still a basketball in his hands there will be joy in his life. 
Published in Sports
Thursday, 31 January 2019 11:11

Dolly Carins: Athlete of the Week

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Dolly Carins, 16, is the only Junior serving as one of the three captains of the Saratoga High School Girls Varsity Basketball team.
Carins was introduced to the world of basketball when she would tag along with her dad and brother for her brother’s practices. While her brother eventually left the sport, Carins’ basketball career was only beginning. In the 7th grade, Carins was playing for her school’s JV team, when halfway through the season she was bumped up to Varsity.
Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics would be Carins’ most admired athlete.
“Just because I think he puts a lot of time in on the court, said Carins. “And then watching him play, it gets better every time I watch him… I really like him a lot.”
She certainly follows his lead with a dedication to the sport outside of her scheduled practices.  As she prepares for her season to begin, she spends her autumn mornings waking up at 5:30 a.m to begin her hour of shooting practice by 6:15 a.m, four times a week.
Carins attributes her success to her support systems, both on and off the court. When asked who her biggest fans were, without hesitation she said, “my parents. They are always at every game, they love coming.” 
For many athletes, the scoreboard and games are the most glorified aspect of their sports careers, but for Carins, winning comes in second to what she values most about her time in the sport.
“I like the relationships that I’ve made with my teammates throughout all of the different teams that I’ve played for — I think those last a lifetime. When I’m older I think I’ll remember that more than I’ll remember winning and losing a game. “
Even during a loss, which Is Carins’ least favorite aspect of the sport, she keeps a positive attitude for the sake of her teammates. “We can’t let that (losing) ruin us for the rest of the season,” said Carins. “We just have to come back better.”
Carins plans on taking that determination and can do attitude throughout college, where she hopes to play basketball before pursuing a stable career.
Published in Sports

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Ty Stacey is enjoying his first year as head coach for the Spa Catholic girls’ basketball teams. It’s a drastic difference from his day job as a probation officer. Stacey is taking over for Damian Fantauzzi, who coached the team last year. Stacey said Fantauzzi left to spend more time with his grandchildren and he coaches cross-country and track in the spring. Stacey’s coaching experience varies: he was head coach at SUNY Adirondack for the men’s team for years.

“I’ve been coaching my son in various AAU teams and baseball and basketball ever since. The girls that I have this year are extremely committed to learning and developing their skills as basketball players but also their athleticism. I have some girls that play five sports throughout the year. So, they aren’t only benefitting as a basketball player but they’re benefiting as a complete athlete,” Stacey explained.

Stacey played basketball as a student at Saratoga Springs High school; he also played at SUNY Adirondack and St. Joseph’s in Rutland, Vermont. Stacey is a probation officer for Saratoga County and finds a correlation between his coaching and day job.

“The way I look at it is, we’re all the same. It’s just the same lessons in a different arena. We all make mistakes, it’s our responsibility to learn from them and change our future and develop new skills and be responsible,” Stacey said.

Stacey gets help on the court from Alphonse Lambert, the schools’ athletic director and bowling and baseball coach, and Fantauzzi, who still stops by and takes notes. John Catone, the boys’ basketball coach, also stops by practice from time to time and vice versa for Stacey.

“We’ll watch each other’s practices a little bit and get different ideas, different approaches, but it’s not like we’re in direct collaboration. I will work with coach Lambert and Damian Fantauzzi, who has already come and watched one of the games. They’ll send me emails with their observations and their thoughts, which is tremendously helpful because one person can’t be everything,” Stacey explained.

The team consists of 11 players, only one of which is a senior.

“We’re very young, we are striving to get better as the season goes. We’ve already shown improvement from last year to this year. Since we’ve lost our top scorer from last year, we’re trying to figure out where our scoring is going to come from. That’s going to be the goal here, to see who’s going to provide it, and that could change each night. The future is promising. This year I think we’re going to surprise some people and I can guarantee that the girls are going to compete every night. They are a good group of kids,” he said, complimenting his team.

Before every game, Stacey likes to inspire them in a simple way: by reminding them to put in the work.

“I just remind them that they need to do their job and everybody else knows what job they’ve got to do, and it’ll all come together. The girls are pretty self-motivating, makes my job easy that way and it just reinforces the learning process every game. Learn as you go, learn as you play, and that’s how you benefit,” Stacey said.

To catch a Saratoga Central Catholic basketball game, check out the Sports at a Glance page.

Published in Sports
Thursday, 17 May 2018 14:33

Four New Hall of Famers

[Photos provided]

SARATOGA COUNTY — At 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 20 at the Hilton Hotel in Troy, the Upstate New York Basketball Hall of Fame will be inducting 15 people into the basketball hall of fame. Four of the inductees are local to the Saratoga Springs area: Tim DeGregory, Carl Luciano, Dan Tallman, and Rich Johns.

Rich Johns, a long-time educator and coach at Saratoga Springs Central School District, is receiving the John Cahill Community Service Award.

“I’m honored by the induction. I’m looking forward to it. Johnny Cahill was one of the top referees in the country for years. I got the call and I sent a letter to a buddy of mine and I said, ‘I’m getting in, but not for my basketball skills,’” Johns laughed.

“I’m honored by it, community service has always meant so much to me, but to do it in this arena with so many athletes and coaches, what an honor,” Johns said.

Tim DeGregory, a former local player from Saratoga Central Catholic, now working in the IT industry, had a very successful basketball career via Spa Catholic and RPI.

“I had a pretty successful career at Spa Catholic playing basketball. I had very good seasons my junior and senior year. I went on to RPI where I played on the varsity team four years and was the leading scorer my junior and senior year of college. When I graduated, I was second on the all time scoring list,” DeGregory said, explaining some of his basketball accomplishments.

DeGregory and his wife, Brenda, have three children in the Saratoga Springs Central School District; Mira, Abby, and Andy.

“Mostly I want to thank my parents and brothers as well as various coaches, like Bob King at Spa Catholic, coach Griffin at RPI, and those that helped me along the way,” DeGregory said.

Dan Tallman is a former local player, playing at Saratoga Springs Central School District and Skidmore College.

“I was at a Spa Catholic game when Rene LeRoux had mentioned that they were going to put me in next year’s class, 2019, and then I got a call a few months later that a gentleman who was supposed to be inducted this year could no longer make it due to health reasons. So, they wanted to know if I wanted to get inducted this year,” Tallman explained.

Tallman played basketball his entire life; he was a center in high school, a forward in college, a threespot at the semi-pro level. He was also voted MVP his senior year at Saratoga Springs High School.

“My moms age is 82 and life has no guarantees. Mom would be very happy to see that, this is a proud moment for her. Without her, none of this is possible. She’s the best,” Tallman said of his mother, Mary Verns Tallman.

During college, Tallman attended Utica College his first year, then SUNY Adirondack for his sophomore year, “it’s still the best basketball year ACC ever had,” he explained.

He went back to Utica for his junior year and then finished his college career at Skidmore College under Damian Fantauzzi, his high school coach.

“He is actually the man who got me impassioned to play the game, he was my idol. I looked up to him and his word was gospel. I wanted to be just like coach,” Tallman said of Fantauzzi.

Carl Luciano has been refereeing for the last 25 years and still has plans to continue.

“I had done a Division III National Championship game back in 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia and I think Rene LeRoux was there for that and I think he’s gone to a lot of local games so throughout the years he’s seen me referee a lot of high profile games. I’ve been very fortunate to work a lot of high profile games and I’ve done a pretty good job on them. I haven’t been on ESPN for the wrong reasons,” Luciano laughed.

Luciano has been teaching second grade at Division Street School for the last 20 years and is an alumnus of Ballston Spa High School.

“It’s a great honor. Some of my former mentors are in there so it’s nice to be recognized even though I’m still currently a ref. Hopefully I still have a few years left. There are a lot of fellow referees that are just as good as me. I don’t think I’m better than any of them, I just think I’m fortunate enough to work a lot of the games that I’ve done. It takes a good person to be a referee,” Luciano said.

Published in Sports
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