Lori Mahan

Lori Mahan

Thursday, 23 August 2018 14:23

SRYMCA Fall Basketball League

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Registration for the Saratoga Regional YMCA fall basketball league will be in full swing on Monday, September 10.

“We’re hoping to add two more teams to the fall league and that’s like what the growth has been, two teams each year, which is what we’re looking for this year,” explained league coordinator Mike Laudicina.

The decision to start early was based on the success of the summer league, which went from having six teams and 46 kids the year before and 72 kids and a two-team expansion this summer.

“I’d like to finish a little bit earlier because last year near the end, baseball was starting so we were losing a lot of players. It’s not fair to the team if somebody is a good athlete and they make the football team and they leave and all of a sudden you go from a team that depended on one person,” he explained.

A lot of the same kids who played in the summer also play in fall as well.

Other than starting early, “everything is going to be about the same as last year. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” Laudicina laughed.

The coaching staff is full, with new coaches from the summer league also carrying over into the fall. However, the fall league is still looking for two team sponsors. The fall league will carry on its’ tradition of their end of season banquet courtesy of Saratoga Honda.

“I wasn’t sure we were going to be able to do the banquet again like we did last year but by getting that donation from Saratoga Honda, that money will go and pay for the banquet. Last year, I budgeted $2,200 because that would always cover it, and last year we doubled in size so all of a sudden I had a $5,000 bill and I didn’t have the budget to cover it,” he said. 

Saratoga Honda has that covered this year.

“In the summer league we ended up with a lot more girls, which is good, because that means that they’ll sign up for the fall. We had a young lady who played in the league two years ago, who was so timid, and quiet and would run back and forth with her hands down, she didn’t want the ball, but she wanted to play basketball. She didn’t want to make a mistake, but this year, she was a terror,” he laughed.

Laudicina’s goal for the basketball leagues is always healthy competition. He never wants one team to dominate over the others the entire season.

“You want everybody to be competitive. Everybody won games, and everybody lost games,” he said.

As always, scholarships are available to those in need. To sponsor a team or sign up your child, contact Mike Laudicina at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 518-583-9622 ext. 145.

Photos provided.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — On Sunday, August 12, Saratoga Rowing Association’s (SRA) Junior Men’s Coxed Four team placed second in the Junior World Championships, which took place in the Czech Republic. The team members are: Henry Bellew, Owen King, Chase Haskell, Michael Fairley, and George Doty. They are coached by Chris Chase Fairley is from Saratoga Springs.

“He is part of our high school team, he goes to Saratoga High. One of the coaches for the Junior World Championships is Chris Chase, who is our regatta director and our freshmen boys’ coach. He used to also be a teacher at Saratoga High School,” SRA executive director Eric Catalano.

In July, the Under 23 team also competed in Poland, they placed first in the U23 Women’s Double Sculls, featuring Sydney Michalak and Ashley Johnson. The Seniors team will be competing in Bulgaria September 9-16. Catalano describes the Senior World Championship as the “in between Olympics” competition.

With the Men’s Senior Quad heading to Worlds next month, their coach Emanuel Valentin had nothing but positive things to say.

“These four guys are incredibly driven to achieve their goals. Two of them (Sam and James) moved from their respective cities, NYC and Philadelphia, to train with Michael and Alex on two days’ notice.  Michael is a fulltime student at RPI is also enrolled in the ROTC program.  Alex just graduated from SUNY Albany with his Law Degree. With limited time together, we make large steps everyday towards improving and are looking forward to representing the USA,” said coach Emanuel Valentin.

“For a rowing organization, I feel like this is a homerun or the trifecta, of being able to get the current athletes into each of those world championship events,” said Catalano.

Photos provided.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — It’s that time of year again, sweater weather, pumpkin flavored everything, and for the Recreation Department, it’s soccer time.

“Our soccer program has been around for several years,” said Jill Ramos, program coordinator of the Saratoga Springs Recreation Department.

On September 8, the youth fall soccer programs kick into full swing. The fall soccer program consists of: Little Kickers, which is a parent/ child introductory program for pre-k students introducing them to the game and teaching basic fundamentals through activities; Big Kickers, which is for kindergartners, a step up in knowledge and games from the Little Kickers; both are weekend programs. City residents pay $60, school district residents pay $85, outside of the district residents pay $110. The Youth Soccer League, for kids in grades 1-12, plays twice a week, typically on weeknights and on Saturdays. City residents pay $75, school district residents pay $100, outside residents pay $125. All soccer programs are co-ed. Youth League is broken into teams, number of teams depends on how many players, and each team plays within the league. “We have a good retention for coaches. They are usually parents of players, a lot of times, who played in college or play in adult leagues themselves. So, we’re able to pick from our pool of players themselves,” Ramos said of the coaching staff. There are scholarships available for people, contact the Recreation Department for more details.

“The soccer program is one of the biggest programs that we run, and it will typically have about 470 players for the fall. We also have a spring league and summer clinics,” Ramos explained.

Both the fall and spring leagues are equally popular. The Recreation Department also has a Pickleball League, which was started last spring, and is continuing in the fall for players 18 and up. The pickleballers meet on Mondays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the recreation center.

“Pickleball has become very popular with adults. It’s a combination of tennis, badminton, and table tennis. They play with smaller rackets. It’s neat. We have drop-in session three days a week starting in September and they’re very popular. We’ll have all four courts playing,” Ramos said.

The league in the fall will follow the ladder style system. The teams are set up so it is similar skill levels and they play on double round robins with other teams within the league and the points help determine who they play the next week. Introduction to Ice Skating will now have an early fall session, on top of their winter, spring, and summer sessions. The early fall session is for the skaters who just finished with summer and don’t want to lose momentum and for those who want to get a head start before the winter session. Introduction to Ice Skating is for ages three and up and the early fall session will begin October 2.

“We’re busy all year round,” Ramos commented.

For more information on all the Recreation Department has to offer, visit www.saratoga-springs. org/151/Recreation-Department.

Photos provided.

SARATOGA COUNTY — Larry Sharpe, a Queens native, was thinking about moving to North Carolina due to his disappointment in the state of being New York is in. However, he decided to run for New York State Governor instead, believing that real change starts at home. A Libertarian and United States Marine, Sharpe has lived his whole life as a New Yorker.

“I am a kid born in Manhattan. I was adopted. My adoptive parents took me to the Bronx. My mother was a German immigrant, my father was in the Army, met her over there and got married, came over here. I was raised in the Bronx, around East Stadium, until I was 11. Then we moved out to Long Island, Suffolk County,” Sharpe explained.

After entering the United States Marine Corp at age 17, he barely graduated high school, only doing so because his recruiter had guaranteed him a job.

“That was a lie,” he laughed, “but that’s what he told me, and I went anyway.”

He attended college as a fulltime Marine, earning a 3.7 GPA majoring in Anthropology.

“Because then it mattered to me, I wanted to be a good student,” he said.

Sharpe graduated and went on to be a successful business owner. He is currently a consultant, trainer, and teacher that helps other businesses to grow. He has also taught at the graduate level at Yale and Columbia as a guest instructor and as a CAPS instructor for Baruch College.

“We have to change the education system fundamentally in New York State. It is broken, it is an embarrassment. It’s about $60 billion, only $22,000 per student and we’re having, at best, mediocre results,” Sharpe said passionately.

He is advocating for fundamental change by implementing the following: No more standardized testing until you’re in high school.

“Standardized testing is bad for several reasons: it gets teachers to teach to a test and not to an individual student; it is a way of people punishing teachers instead of rewarding them; it’s a way to fund schools, which is completely incorrect and wrong; and worse, it actually makes kids who are bad test takers feel stupid. Now they are labeled the dumb kid. That’s a bad thing,” Sharpe explained.

K-12 is anachronism that shouldn’t exist.

“We should be kindergarten through tenth. At tenth grade, take a test, whether you’re at private school, public school, homeschooled. We should be supporting homeschooling far more than we support it. It’s embarrassing how bad we are. If you have the time, the energy, and resources to teach your kid at home, please do so. I want to encourage you and lower your tax burden. I want to still allow you to have access to all of the things you’re paying taxes for already... You pass your test at tenth grade, you get a high school diploma from that district. You’re finished at that point,” he said.

He has a plan of “four choices” for what to do next: College, trade school, get a job, start a business. How does he plan to pay for this?

“Very simple actually. The New York State Constitution says we must pay for the last two years of school. Right now, we’re paying 22k a year per kid. Here’s what I’m going to do, when I was in the Marine Corp, when I got out, I got the GI Bill. You get ten years to use x amount of dollars, use it, go to college. Every kid at 16, gets the equivalent of the GI Bill. They get the Student Career Bill. Ten years, $20,000, do what you want. I promise you, prep schools are going to pop up all over the place, that are good at what they do because now the kids are choosing. Trade schools will pop up all over the place, too,” he stated.

Funding. Flat block grants per number of students.

“You have x number of students, multiply that by y, there’s your money from the state. I would like for the money to come only from the state, not from the counties. I prefer no school tax at all. You cut school tax, how much money are we saving? A lot,” Sharpe explained.

“Here’s what I know, freedom plus accountability plus transparency equals innovation. What’s going to work in Buffalo isn’t going to work in Rochester or Watertown, and I’m okay with that. I want happy kids. I want satisfied parents. we do that, we win,” he said simply.

Gubernatorial primaries will be held on September 13, 2018.

“Let teachers teach,” Sharpe said.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Camp Abilities, held at Skidmore College, is a one-week educational sports camp for children and teens who are blind, visually impaired, and deafblind. This camp is a service project of the Saratoga Springs Lions. The campers participated in Beep Baseball, Goalball, Swimming, Tandem Biking, Track and Field, Ice Skating, Horseback Riding, Paddle Boarding, and Golf for the second time since the camp began. There are twenty-five kids divided in two groups by age range. Ages 9-13 and ages 13-19.

“That way, when they’re doing track and field, it’s a lot more competitive,” Phil Klein, a Lions Member, explained.

“Because all these kids are competitive,” he laughed.

Each camper has their own counselor, with four nurses on staff, two of which are available twenty-four-seven, and four sports specialists. The golfing activity was broken down into four segments: chipping, putting, driving, and short game. Mike Purcell, a champion blind golfer, ran the golf activity.

“Mike Purcell left Martha’s Vineyard just to get here. He said he took some harassment from his friends. ‘What are you doing? It’s your day off!’ and he said, ‘no I’ve got something more important to do’ and that was to come here and go through this with these kids,” said Ed Stano, first-time President of Camp Abilities.

“The campers enjoyed the golfing very much last year,” Klein said.

“The guys here at Saratoga National are fantastic. They’ve been terribly supportive, they’ve really been kind with us,” said Stano.

There are three other Camp Abilities across New York State: one on Long Island, one in Binghamton, which is the original, and one in the winter time in Utica where the campers do winter activities such a skiing. Counselors come from all over and only receive a small stipend for their position. They are doing it for the love of the camp.

“We depend a lot on fundraising, grants, other Lions Clubs. We’ve been very fortunate, we couldn’t do this without Skidmore College. A lot of times, this is the first opportunity these kids have had to spend a night out of the house without their parents so, we look at it as a really great experience for them and it does our heart a lot of good doing it. We’re now five-years old and it took two years to plan the first year, so we’ve been doing these seven years. It’s fun, the kids have a great time, and it gives them a feeling of self-reliance, an ‘I can do this if I’m allowed to,’” Klein explained.

This year, roughly 15 campers returned with ten new kids taking part.

“It’s all about the kids. The way I described it is, the best thing to do is track. You see a blind kid, he starts at the beginning of the week, he doesn’t know how to run, because he’s never been allowed to run. By the end of the week, he or she is running, because it’s things that we, as sighted people, take for granted. Simple things like that, but when you see the kids do that, it’s heart wrenching in the best way,” said Stano.

Thursday, 16 August 2018 14:00

The Suzuki Method

Photos provided.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — On Tuesday, August 7, Yumi Kendall, a cellist with the Philadelphia Orchestra held a master-class in conjunction with Demetria Koninis of Spa City Cello Studio.
Kendall is a direct descendent of the Suzuki Method, which her grandfather brought to the United States in the 1960’s. The Suzuki Method, created by Japanese violinist Shinichi Suzuki, who “realized the implications of children all over the world learn to speak their native language with ease. He began to apply the basic principles of language acquisition to the learning of music and called his method the mother-tongue approach. The ideas of parent responsibility, loving encouragement, constant repetition, etc. are some of the special features of the Suzuki approach,” said the official website.

The Philadelphia Orchestra is in residence at Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) every summer and last year they did a Suzuki cello play-in with Yo-Yo Ma hosting, which is how the cello teachers met.

“We modeled the master class a little bit after the Suzuki Institute’s, which are actually a week long, they’re a kind of retreat where the Suzuki family and Suzuki teachers come together in places all around the world every summer,” Kendall explained.

“So, we modeled this one day after the Suzuki things that were happening globally. This was just one peek-a-boo into the potential that Saratoga really has for something larger. Actually, I encourage them to consider having a Suzuki Institute, because it seems to be really good Suzuki energy in Saratoga Springs based on this one day that we had together,” she continued.

The students from both music studios gathered for a halfday-long master-class that was met with wonderful feedback.

“The feedback was just generally applause and thank yous when it was appropriate in the given context and a big thank you to their main teachers who do the work teaching them week after week and to the parents, day after day. Even though I was coming in as a guest clinician, and I received the gratitude and the rewards that I would want, it’s really the teachers and the parents who deserve the credit because they’re the ones who are doing the day-in day-out work with their children,” Kendall stated.

Kendall had nothing but praise for the student’s teachers and families.

“First of all, they’re set up really well because they’re in good hands with really good Suzuki trained teachers like Demetria and Kathleen. So, the students were very receptive and very eager. The belief in the Suzuki Approach is that ‘every child can’ meaning that every child has potential and that with the family’s involvement, the teacher’s approach, and the student’s presence, every child has the ability to learn an instrument. It’s with that loving approach, combined with the daily discipline of practice, that I think helps the children be particularly receptive in a new environment and in a new circumstance, which this was for many of them,” she said.

Kendall credits her own family for her talent, stating she is a “Suzuki kid” and also a Suzuki trained teacher.

“I’m not a whole person without both [teaching and playing]. Performing is a part of myself that demands excellence and a sort of performance pressure that I crave, and I love and I also love sharing the stage with my Philadelphia Orchestra colleagues. That’s as essential to me as teaching. The self-growth process as a teacher where I continue to learn and grow myself and the challenge that comes with interacting with small children and helping them in their growth. So, both of those things to me are integral to who I am, and I cannot separate those out. They’re both as important as breathing,” Kendall concluded.

Kendall cites the “mothership” Philadelphia Orchestra as the main reason that she and the other teachers were able to gather and teach these students.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The National PTA has recognized Division Street Elementary School as a 2018-2020 PTA School of Excellence for their commitment to building an inclusive and welcoming school community where all families contribute to enriching the educational experience and overall well-being for all students.

“Research shows that when families and schools work together, students do better in school and schools improve,” said Jim Accomando, president of National PTA.

“Division Street Elementary School and the Division Street PTA have worked hard to strengthen their family-school partnership and create an environment where all families feel welcomed and empowered to support student success. We are pleased to recognize them as a National PTA School of Excellence,” Accomando continued.

National PTA’s School of Excellence program helps PTAs become partners in identifying and implementing school improvement initiatives based on PTA’s National Standards for Family-School Partnerships. Schools that exhibit improvement at the end of the school year are honored as a National PTA School of Excellence, a distinction that spans two years.

“Division Street School is delighted to be recognized as a National PTA School of Excellence,” said Dr. Greer Miller, Principal of Division Street Elementary School.

“Our school is such a collaborative environment where the teachers work hard to engage the families in their students’ education, and to provide a wellrounded educational experience for all students. The PTA also does a phenomenal job with providing our students a strong Cultural Arts Program of assemblies and classroom presentations on a variety of topics.  Parents and staff work jointly on different school-wide initiatives, goals, and moving our school forward,” Dr. Miller stated.

Division Street Elementary School and the Division Street PTA are one of only 278 PTAs and schools nationwide recognized as a 2018-2020 School of Excellence.

“I would also like to thank Mrs. Connie Woytowich for doing an outstanding job as the PTA President for the past two years and assisting with the submission of our application for this wonderful award,” said Dr. Miller.

Congratulations to Division Street Elementary School on this outstanding achievement.  For more information about the National PTA School of Excellence program, visit www. PTA.org/Excellence.

Photos provided.

ALBANY — CAP COM Federal Credit Union and its charitable giving arm, the CAP COM Cares Foundation, have once again completed their annual backpack program. Each year the Foundation aims to deliver hundreds of backpacks to school-aged children in need. This year the program has delivered 743 backpacks, which have been donated to 26 organizations and schools in the Capital Region community. New backpacks were filled with school supplies including notebooks, folders, pencils, crayons, rulers, glue sticks, and more. Thirty-two CAP COM employees volunteered their time to assemble, pack, and deliver the backpacks over a week’s time. Backpacks were delivered the week of July 30 – August 3 to youth at the following organizations: Capital District YMCA, Centro Civico, Commission on Economic Opportunity, Equinox Youth Shelter, Franklin Community Center, Girls Inc., Joseph’s House and Shelter, Marillac Family Shelter, Shelters of Saratoga, St. Catherine’s Center for Children, St. Paul’s Center, and 10 schools associated with CAP COM’s School Banking program.

“We believe it doesn’t take much, but it does take us all. With the help of our volunteers, we were able to supply hundreds of backpacks to local children,” stated Paige Rueckert, Community and Youth Advocate at CAP COM.

“These children are our future, and we hope that through this program we empower them to embrace education and learning all year long,” Rueckert continued.

Thursday, 09 August 2018 13:17

Above & Beyond Hike Dedicated to Amy Raimo

Photo provided.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — On July 27, Adirondack Trust Company President and CEO Steve Von Schenk and his son Paul made an attempt at the Adirondack Great Range. The plan was to climb 10 peaks (covering 25 miles), all in one day. The purpose of their hike was to raise funds and build awareness for Saratoga Hospital's Addiction Medicine Program. After 16 hours of hiking, they completed 8 of 10 peaks (20 of 25 miles). For this one-day event, Paul von Schenk raised more than $11,500, for a grand total of over $65,000 for the Above & Beyond Challenge, sponsored by
the Adirondack Trust Company.

"We also dedicated this hike lovingly to the memory of Amy Raimo, who died tragically a few weeks ago. Amy was the head of the Saratoga Hospital Foundation and was a champion of this cause and the entire Hospital. She cared deeply for the Hospital, and her absence is sorrowfully felt. In her last post to us, she said, 'Rock the Ridge, guys!!!' And we did. Rest in peace, Amy,” said Von Schenk.

To learn more about the Above and Beyond Challenge, or to donate to this awesome cause, visit www.classy.org/event/ above-and-beyond-challenge/ e181066.

Thursday, 09 August 2018 13:15

Local All-Star Moments

SRYMCA/Saratoga Honda Summer Youth Basketball League

Saratoga Financial Services  43 – Village Photo 34
In a game that was close with five minutes left until the final buzzer, Saratoga Financial Services pulled ahead for good to get a 43 to 34 victory over Village Photo. The winners were led by Rodell Evans with 18 points and Jacob Alexander with 16 points. Jordon Cousar had 14 points while teammate Ben VanValkenburg hit for 12 points in the loss.

Cudney’s Launderers 30 - PJ’s BAR-B-QSA  27 
This game was a defensive battle from beginning to end with Cudney’s Launderers coming out with a three-point win over PJ’s
BBQ. Nick Scalo had a team high 11 points, Stephon Lindsey, Ian O’Rourke and Bryant Savage each scored four points in the victory. Christian Mello dropped in 11 points for PJ’s.

Synergy Promotions 35 Saratoga PBA  34
Berkshire Hathaway Blake After trailing throughout the game, Synergy put on a lastminute push and defeated PBA by one point in one of the most exciting games of the season. Pat Deschaine scored 18 points and Carter Cigan added another five points in the one-point win. Trey Stanislowski was high scorer for PBA with 14 points
while Neil Graber got another four points.

Berkshire Hathaway Blake Realtors  63 – Saratoga Springs Firefighters  22
Berkshire Hathaway Blake Realtors got out to a 20 point halftime lead and cruised to an easy 63 to 22 win over the Saratoga Firefighters. Getting five players in double figures in scoring led by Logan Bevan’s 19 points along with some timely three-pointers from Jacob Armer who wound up with 12 points matching teammate Stephen Bebee’s 12 points, Aiden Bevan and Niko VanValis each contributed 10 points. Arion Rose led his team in scoring with 14 points in the defeat.

Page 18 of 44