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Displaying items by tag: athlete

Thursday, 16 May 2019 13:23

Joey Laurer: Athlete of the Week

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Springs High School’s varsity pitcher Joey Laurer learns dedication and time management from his familial inspirations. 

Laurer began playing baseball at the age of two, and swimming competitively at seven, as he followed in the footsteps of his baseball playing uncle, Jerry Faiola and swimming father, Kurt Laurer. 
While Laurer states that baseball is his favorite, he excels in swimming as he broke the school record for the 100-meter breaststroke with a time of 1 minute, one second and 10 milliseconds – qualifying him for states. 
It isn’t enough to say that Laurer is an exceptional athlete, but he is a scholar-athlete, as he is a member of Saratoga Springs National Honor Society and a familiar name on the school’s honor roll. Laurer attributes his inspiration to his Nonna (grandmother). 
“Because she has fought through cancer four different times. Just her character and strength.” 
When Laurer is not in school or practicing, he is giving back to his community as an Eagle Scout, where his Eagle project was to re-paint the West Side Recreation Center Field building. 
“It wasn’t too tough (balancing his schedule), I don’t think, because I just try my best to make sure I stayed on top of everything I had to do. It’s taught me some valuable skills like time management.” 
Though baseball is near and dear to his heart, it is not a game without disappointments. 
“You always have to stay humble, and you’re working hard so that you can do your best to succeed as much as possible.” 
In addition to having a positive mindset, constant support from loved ones is highly encouraging. On and off the field, his biggest supporters are his family, including his parents, his sister, and grandparents, who are constantly encouraging him throughout his athletic career. 
“(They are) picking me up after a tough game. Telling me what I need to do better. Just always being supportive of what I want to do, and where I want to go with it,” said Laurer. 
Laurer would also like to thank his friends, aunts, uncles, coaches, scout leaders and teachers for their constant support throughout his academic and athletic career. 
Though only a junior, Laurer has verbally committed to playing Baseball at Siena College, where he plans to major in pre-med. 
Published in Sports
Thursday, 11 April 2019 13:19

Athlete of the Week: Nick Grosso

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Nick Grasso, a right-handed tennis player at Saratoga Springs High School believes that one’s character both on and off the court is an athlete’s most notable quality.

Grasso began playing tennis while attending a summer camp at eight years old. He would see experienced tennis players practicing at the camp, and he thought to himself that maybe he should give it a try. After discovering his natural talent with a racket, tennis soon became his favorite sport.

“The fact that it’s an individual sport. When you do something well or you play a good match it’s solely because you played well yourself or if you lost its also on you. I like that individual factor, that the results are dependent on you,” said Grasso.  

Though playing tennis may be an individual sport, Grasso has a strong team behind him. His friends coaches Tim O’Brien and Kurt Decker, and Rich John’s from Act With Respect Always, are a few people who constantly support Grasso, and keep tabs on how his game is. However, the biggest support system Grasso can name are his parents. 
“Tennis is not an easy sport to play because in the U.S. it’s still growing a little bit,” said Grasso. “It’s long driving to the tournaments; three to four-hour drives but they are always willing to support me and drive me.”  
Grasso’s two biggest inspirations couldn’t be any more different athletically speaking, but it’s the off-the-court commonality that Grosso resonates with. One would be Swedish tennis player Roger Federer, due to his sportsmanship and the way he carries himself. On a more personal note, Grosso admires his grandfather, as he is friendly and outgoing and tries to make friends with everyone.
“I like to try to bring that when I’m playing because I would much rather be remembered for my sportsmanship and being kind rather than being someone who’s not so kind but playing well,” said Grasso.
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
Thursday, 14 March 2019 12:39

Vincent Santilli: Athlete of the Week

Photos provided. 
SOUTH GLENS FALLS — Section 2 Champion wrestler Vincent Santilli demonstrates how values taught through sports transfer into everyday life.
Santilli, 17, is a senior three-season athlete at South Glens Falls High School. While he plays both soccer and lacrosse, this year he excelled in wrestling as he took home the gold at the Section 2 Division I tournament 1st.
Stacked against two previous competitors from Queensbury and Niskayuna, going into this match Santilli expressed, “I knew I had to do well, and that I had to wrestle my best ever."
Wrestle to his best he did as he won sectionals and progressed to state. Unfortunately, he did not make the top six at the podium.

This past season Santilli used his role as a team captain not only to help motivate his teammates but to instill a sense of team camaraderie in a sport that is heavily focused on the solo performance on the mat. Though a team player, Santilli's favorite aspect of wrestling is going solo to the mat, for the sense of accountability he embodies.
“When playing a team sport you have other people to rely on in a game and if you make a mistake, it might be made up for somewhere else, but in wrestling, it's all you,” said Santilli. “If I mess up it's only me and I have to make up for myself. It kind of helps me with my everyday life. Like in school or a job - I’ve got to be responsible.”
For most student athletes, being responsible means keeping your grades up and showing up to practice, but for a wrestler, making and keeping to your weight class is an additional task to take on.
"An hour before I had to wrestle at the state tournament, I had to lose two pounds...things like that are really tough. But It helps me stay disciplined not only at practice but at home."
In life, many things that are unexacting happen, and it’s an important value to take the obstacles and grow from them. Santilli thanks a minor injury for being a contributing factor in him winning sectionals.
"If I didn't hurt my pinky, I wouldn't have learned to wrestle intelligently and strategically. I don't think I would've won sectionals. I wouldn't have been as focused."
Focusing may be something that Santilli thinks he developed over the course of this season, but his condensed academic and extracurricular schedule shows that this is a skill he’s established through his high school career.
What many may not know is that during the week of states, Santilli was also one of eight student chairpersons for the South High Dance Marathon, which raised $837,859.97 for varying charities.
Santilli hopes to continue his development on and off the mat as he ventures to college. 
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, 05 November 2015 14:32

Protecting Against Backyard Predators

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Wild animals observed in their natural habitat can be a fascinating sight. A deer spotted on a morning walk, squirrels seen playing in the trees, and birds soaring the skies above are looked at with wonder and curiosity. But what happens when wild species begin encroaching into where people live, in particular, species that can pose a dangerous threat? In the last month alone, there have been two bear sightings in Saratoga Springs, locals are distraught over losing livestock to coyotes and, though there is no proof for certain that coyotes are the culprits, there is a noticeable increase in the number of cats going missing in the Clifton Park area.

Without a doubt, people often consider bears and coyotes two nuisance species worth avoiding at all costs.

Unfortunately, there are certain species in general that are thriving living among humans. “Those are raccoons, skunks, coyotes, deer and geese. Those five are the big ones. But bears and coyotes are the scary ones, because there is a predatory component to them; they have big teeth, and because they do kill pets and bite people,” said Allen Gosser, the State Director for Wildlife Services at the United States Department of Agriculture.

Now, while coyotes and bears may be dangerous, Gosser points out that they are not lurking behind every tree. In fact, most coyote nuisance calls come from down state, in Westchester County, and bear disturbances are more common in the Catskills. However, residents upstate still need to be prepared as there is still a possibility of a coyote or bear encounter.

But why are these species coming into residential, urban environments in the first place?

“There is really good cover in residential areas. A lot of wild animals, like coyotes, are very secretive,” said Gosser. “They’re living among us, except we just don’t know it, usually because they are nocturnal.”

Good hiding places are not the only thing drawing in wild animals; they are also attracted by human food. Garbage cans and pet food left out are easily smelled and picked up.

“Coyotes are omnivore and bears are the same way. There is a wide range of what they do eat. Coyotes in particular will exploit any food they can,” said Gosser. “Some people that see coyotes will start feeding them, and that’s the worst thing you could do. You’re going to get them habituated. You’re not only inviting an unnatural situation, but these animals are also known rabies carriers.”

One of the most dangerous threats wild animals pose in close proximity to humans is the possibility of spreading the rabies virus. Though attacks are rare, frightened or aggressive animals can bite pets, children, and adults alike, which always carries with it the risk of rabies infection.  Rabies can only be detected post-mortem by examining the brain, which means that the bite victim will most likely have to undergo post-exposure therapy as a preventative measure.

“If anyone gets bitten by any sort of wild animal, they should immediately see a health professional,” said Gosser. Wildlife Services at USDA seeks to prevent rabies by trapping and vaccinating wild animals, preventing further exposure.

Homeowners have several options when it comes to protecting their home from coyotes, bears and other wild nuisance species. If animal activity is suspected on your property, it is best to remove all attractants to the animals (see “Prevention Tips”). They can also call a local, licensed trapper or a Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator (NWCO) to come and remove the animal from the property. These professionals are trained in how to best deal with and handle potentially threatening animals.

 

But what do you do if you find yourself face to face with a wild animal expectantly?

“Stand your ground and be big. Some people even say flap your arms. Personally, I think it’s important to remain calm,” advises Gosser.

If the nuisance animal is also a game animal (goes into season for hunting), licensed hunters are allowed to take them if they are in season. Always check the local hunting regulations and guidelines first to determine which animals can be hunted and when. Self-defense is also taken into consideration if the animal poses a direct threat of harm to you or your family.

Knowing when certain wild animals will be most abundant and prominent is another important part in avoiding them. Be on the lookout for bears in late winter and early spring, as well as harvest times when crops are in the field. Coyotes are often spotted in mid to late summer.

For more information about nuisance species, including coyotes and bears, visit the New York Department of Environmental Conservation’s website at dec.ny.gov or the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s website at aphis.usda.gov. 

 

Prevention Tips to Keep Nuisance Animals off your Property:

-Make sure that garbage bags are securely tied and that trash can lids are placed on firmly. Locking trash bins are also available that are made specifically to keep out wildlife.

-Do not leave food out. When possible, feed domestic animals indoors so their food does not attract predators.

-Do not operate refrigerators or freezers outside or on porches.

-Limit or eliminate bird seed, which is known to attract bears and coyotes.

-Do not let domestic pets run free without supervision.

-Block off and seal crawl spaces where animals could find their way in.

-Fencing the yard may be a solution for keeping out wildlife, preferably one that is set at least 6 inches into the ground and four feet high or taller.

 

-Advise community members to take the same precautions. 

Published in News
Friday, 01 May 2015 14:32

Saddle Up for Dogs, Divas & Dudes!

Details Announced for Second Annual Glamor Western Gala

SARATOGA SPRINGS – When you pull off a great, fun event, the challenge for the second time around is to keep it fresh and exciting, while still remaining faithful to the concepts that made it successful in the first place. This has been accomplished, and then some, as the details for the Second Annual Dogs, Divas & Dudes Gala were discussed with Gala Chairwoman Michele Riggi, who knows a few things about throwing a great party. 

 

“The thing that makes this event distinctive,” Ms. Riggi said, “is that we have a season of galas, so many events to choose from. But this is the one where you can be casual: Just pull on your jeans, throw on your boots, grab a cowboy (or cowgirl) hat and you are good to go! Not to mention, you can bring your dog to our party—we even have complimentary dog sitting for when you need to get up and participate in all the things we have planned.” She said. 

 

The short course is that the Second Annual Dogs, Divas & Dudes Gala will occur on Thursday, June 11, at 6 p.m. Saratoga National Golf Club. Many of the elements that made this event so distinctive are back in place, but with several enhancements to assure that you’ll be thoroughly entertained. Tickets and sponsorships are available now – and the proceeds will once again go to Cornell University Veterinary Specialty’s Department of Oncology. 

 

A $500 admission ticket gets you cocktails, dinner and a preferred seat for the featured entertainment that evening, plus a meet and greet with the featured artist. Other sponsorship packages, ranging from $1,000-$10,000, are available for those wanting to buy admissions for you and your posse (or company), with upgraded seating and other enhanced perks.  

 

One incredibly noteworthy enhancement is this year’s celebrity headlining guest performer – Country music star, Warner Music Nashville singer/songwriter Chris Janson, who will be coming to Saratoga Springs in between gigs in Missouri and Colorado. Janson is sporting a major hit single “Buy Me A Boat” that reached #1 on the iTunes country charts. It was announced earlier this month that cable network CMT will actually be financing and producing the music video for this original song. This is significant because it will be the first time the network has undertaken this type of project. 

 

Another feature of this year’s gala is that you can buy a “show only” ticket for $100, which includes a balcony seat, hors d’oeuvres and a meet and greet. 

 

Speaking of CMT, appearing and returning as special Honorary Chairpersons for the gala are Doug and Beth Chapman – the stars of the hit TV series Dog & Beth: On The Hunt. Dr. Margaret McEntee from Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine also returns as an honored guest. 

 

There also will be a small but select live auction, with unique items available, including a dog home for your best friend custom-built by Bella Builders and a one-of-kind wall clock commissioned by Ms. Riggi herself.

 

But perhaps it’s the overall ambiance of the event that makes Dogs, Divas & Dudes so easy to recommend. The entire atmosphere of a transformed Saratoga National into a big rhinestone-studded county hoedown – from trick roping demonstrations to mechanical bull riding to barbeque to music and just plain fun (all with your dog, no less!) and benefitting a great cause…. Well, pardner, it all adds up to make the date of June 11 worth circling on your calendar, and reserving your place ASAP so you don’t get left out when something really unique comes to town again. 

 

For more information or to purchase tickets to Dogs, Divas & Dudes, contact Michele Riggi at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone (518) 583-4935. 

 

Published in News