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Displaying items by tag: Gavin Park

Friday, 21 September 2018 12:16

Pickleball League at Gavin Park

WILTON — Pickleball, which has been at Gavin Park for the last nine years, takes place Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and Tuesday and Thursday from 6:15 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. Pickleball is a racquet sport that combines elements of badminton, tennis, and table tennis. Two or four players use solid paddles made of wood or composite materials to hit a perforated polymer ball, similar to a whiffle ball, over a net. The sport shares features of other racquet sports, the dimensions and layout of a badminton court, and a net and rules similar to tennis, with a few modifications. Pickleball was invented in the mid-1960s as a children’s backyard pastime but has become popular among adults as well. It is only $3 for a resident and $5 for a non-resident. Alan Ross has been leading the Pickleball courts for the last three years as the communications person and has been playing Pickleball for the last five years.

“I handle the email list for communications, and right now we have over 135 on our list,” Ross explained.

Ron Kermani, a Pickleball player for the last three years, joked that the group has made Ross “the Commissioner.”

“It’s kind of like the small town where they don’t have an official Mayor or anything. I kind of assumed the email list, another gal was running it and she had a serious fire at her house about three years ago, so, I volunteered to temporarily take over. And that’s how that Commissioner bit came about, but I enjoy it,” Ross said.

Gavin Park recently relined the outdoor tennis courts for Pickleball and marked two more on the basketball courts, now the Pickleballers have six outdoor courts and six indoor courts, where they play from midSeptember to mid-June.

“It really caught on with seniors, which is why most of us are here,” Ross said, gesturing to the packed pickleball courts.

“There are thousands of players now and it has been elevated to the point that it’s developed its own structure. There are national and international tournaments. It’s still neat because it’s a grass roots kind of thing and that’s how it’s grown here at Gavin. You’ll also find it at East Side Rec and Clifton Park Y, and in Queensbury,” Ross listed.


“Anybody who has played racket sports, it’s a natural transition. Or someone who hasn’t even held a paddle before, after a half an hour was loving it. It’s an easy game to pick up, the rules are very simple, and for $20 you can buy a paddle and balls at a store and get on the court,” Kermani said.

“Within the first three months of when I started playing, I lost 20 pounds and I’ve kept it off,” Ross explained.

“My legs and hips have never hurt so much in my life,” Kermani laughed.

Schools are now beginning to teach Pickleball as well.

“It’s spreading,” Ross said excitedly.

For information on Gavin Park’s Pickleball and more, visit townofwilton.com/departments/ parks-and-recreation.

“We welcome beginners and usually one of the more experienced players will show them the basics and get them started,” Ross said.

Published in Sports

Photos provided by Kim Schaffer. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Pierce Byrne is a 9-year-old with a big love for baseball. His favorite team is The Mets and Giancarlo Stanton, Chris Bryant, and Jose Altuve are his favorite players.

“My dad has played catch with me since I was really little. Then when I turned two, I got my first helmet and first real Mets jersey from my aunts and my grandma sent me my first t-ball set from Ohio,” Byrne said.

In June, Pierce went to Yankee Stadium after winning an MLB Pitch, Hit, and Run local competition at Gavin Park held by Saratoga-Wilton Youth Baseball. He won three out of the four categories; Pitching, hitting, and overall in the 7/8-year-old group.

The National Competition at Yankee Stadium was state level in which he came in second. Had he won first place, he would have advanced to the all-star game. The competition consisted of each kid throwing six pitches and seeing how many strikes they got, hitting a ball off a t and calculating how far and straight it went, and then they ran the bases and calculated the time it took. It was based on a point system and if you came in first, you advanced to the all-star game in Florida. Byrne has competed in similar competitions, the Elks Hoop Shoot and MLB Home Run Derby.

“So I was able to compete at the sectional level that was also held at Gavin Park. Then the champions competition at Yankee Stadium, but only if I had one of the top three overall points for all of the Yankee market which included New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut,” Byrne said.

Byrne is a pitcher, first baseman, third basemen, shortstop, and catcher. He also plays basketball.

“Stepping onto the field was unbelievable! It was so much different than being in the stands. There was a crew cleaning and prepping the field for the game and for us. There were even bomb sniffing dogs going around the field. When I looked around the stands, it was like a dream come true,” Byrne said of the Yankee Stadium experience.

“It was certainly a good competition and Pierce is a fantastic player,” said Steve Kantscheidt, Community Outreach board member of Saratoga-Wilton Youth Baseball.

Byrne was not able to meet any of his heroes at the competition but he did get to see Aaron Judge hit a 459-foot home run.

Byrne’s said his favorite thing about baseball is, “playing with my friends, hitting long balls, and throwing strikes.”

The thing he looks most forward to about the upcoming season is, “being back on the field.”

Published in Sports
Thursday, 03 August 2017 13:54

Meet Gavin Park's New Director, Mark Marino

[Photos by www.photoandgraphic.com]

 

WILTON - Mark Marino, a Massachusetts native, decided to move to the Saratoga Springs area a number of years ago after he and his wife realized the school systems were better here and there would be more job opportunities. Marino attended Norwich Military University with a degree in physical education and moved on to be an Officer in the Army. From 1981 until 1984 he was stationed in Watervliet, where he got a taste of the area. For 14 months Marino worked at the Capital District YMCA until his position was eliminated. From there, he decided to pursue being a physical education teacher like he had planned. For 10 years he was a substitute teacher in Waterford and also owned his own landscaping business for a number of years. These jobs combined with his military background made him the perfect candidate for the director of Gavin Park position. On July 6, the Wilton Town Board voted to approve Marino’s appointment as director of Gavin Park.

“I always wanted to be a physical education teacher and athletic director, this job is the best of both worlds,” he said.

A key element in his hiring was his career background, especially his landscaping business. He knew what the grounds should always look like and what it would mean to maintain them. He was experienced in managing people, he taught and worked with kids for many years, he is an officiate for three different sports, and he was also an athlete. He was a prime candidate.

In regards to Art Johnson, Town Supervisor, Marino exclaimed,“I am very grateful Art is my boss. He was essential in bringing me on board and I really appreciate them giving me the opportunity to do this.”

Gavin Park offers a wide variety of different programs. Tracy Kubis is the assistant recreational director, she is essential to the summer camp and summer programs. Ross McNeal helps Kubis to coordinate and execute the programs.

The main thing Marino is looking to add personally is a hiking activity, geared toward ages 14 – 18.

“I would love to see that age range get off social media and have more face to face time.  I think a hiking program could provide that,” he observed.

Marino said there is not much to add to the park right now because Stephen Porto left it in such a good place after his 10 year tenure. Porto added new fields but also created the concept of Splash Park. Splash Park is a water park for kids 12 and under but most frequented by kids six and under. Sprinklers and other fun contraptions run on a 15 minute sensor, shooting out water for kids to splash around in.

“We try to provide a lot of variety for people so it doesn’t become stale or feel stagnant,” he remarked.

Campers get their fill of variety. They visit all beaches in the area, The Great Escape, Valley Cats games, and other fun activities happening daily.

Only five weeks into the job, Marino said his main goal right now is to “make sure that all the fields, courts, and nettings, along with anything else related to what people are using, are safe and well maintained.”

On a daily basis, Marino arrives at 8:50 a.m. and meets with Kim Brock, who runs the financial side, to discuss payroll and other related things. Then he takes out the golf cart and rides around to every field to make sure everything is proper and clear. He then has meetings with people and in between it all, leaves his office door open.

“I believe in an open door policy. My door is always open for anyone to come in and discuss any concerns or issues,” he expressed.

His day then wraps up at five o’clock and he heads home, excited for the next day to begin.

“In all the jobs I’ve had in my life, I really feel well-received here. I believe in the team effort and being transparent and having open communication and an open door. Everyone here does their job very well and that’s a credit to the overall organization, the town board, the parks and recreation commission, and Gavin Park as a whole. It’s just a very well run organization and it has been for years. My goal is to maintain that level in the years to come. This is a job where I really look forward to coming to work,” Marino said sincerely.

Marino is especially grateful to Maintenance Supervisor John King and his staff for all their hard work physically maintaining the grounds in a timely and organized fashion. He could not speak highly enough about his staff as a whole, from the camp counselors to the maintenance staff to the financial department.

“I want to give a lot of credit to the staff. You can’t run an organization well without having a good staff and again players like Tracy, John, and Michelle, they all do such a great job,” he said.

For more information on all that Gavin Park offers to the town of Wilton, visit www.townofwilton.com and navigate to the parks and recreation department.

Published in Sports
Thursday, 20 July 2017 11:18

Saratoga Sevens Rugby Tournament

WILTON - Men and women of all ages gathered on July 15 for an all-day rugby tournament hosted by Saratoga Rugby Club (SRC) in Gavin Park. This tournament was a qualifier event for the national series. Teams from as far as Barbados and as close as Saratoga took part in the event.

Gavin Park was an excellent venue with the large open fields perfectly accommodating for the several matches happening at once. Spectators moved from field to field to take in all of the action involving several different teams. Between 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., there were approximately 90 matches on four different fields. Wilton was chosen to host this year because it is equal distance from New York City and Boston. Eric Huss is the original creator of the event and this time he handed the reigns over to his board of directors. Even though they were crunched for time this year, the club still managed to host approximately 40 teams equaling 500 players. Stephen Aguglia, Vice President of SRC, was proud of the event and stated that for the amount of people they had present and the short amount of coordination time they were working with, the tournament was only behind by a few minutes between different matches.

“We coordinated with two different leagues and the town of Wilton along with many volunteers. We knew that there would be a lot of potential pit-falls that we were anxious about but we managed to pull it off and the feedback we’ve received has been positive,” Aguglia noted.

Rugby, being the physical sport that it is, had already caused a few injuries just an hour after the tournament began. By 11 a.m. the EMT’s reported there had already been one broken nose and several scrapes and bruises. Coaches and EMT’s alike kept reminding the players to stay hydrated. Luckily, no ambulances were called.

“Small injuries and dehydration are the norm,” an EMT clarified.

Jamie Everett, a local graduate from St. Lawrence University, has played on the White Plains Team for five years. Everett commented on how his team “had a tough start,” but that they were happy to see how open the fields were, having plenty of room to move around and warm up before each match.

“This is a tourist destination for a lot of reasons,” Aguglia continued, “Saratoga is a great place to visit in the summer time and we are looking to partner with local businesses in the community moving forward into next year. The potential is there to create something even bigger now that we have more time on our side.”

The Barbados team has their own invitational that has packages in place for participants with the team’s local businesses and airlines to create a smooth journey. The Saratoga Rugby Club would like to expand their tournament in a similar way and reach out to Montreal and Ottawa teams. On the women’s side, New York Rugby Club, from NYC, took first place and Old Blue Women, also from NYC, took second. In the men’s bracket Old Blue, NYC, took first place and The Bulldogs from Connecticut, took second. All four teams will be moving forward to nationals.

Regardless of the overall division outcomes, the diversity on the field made for an entertaining tournament to watch. From the different coaching styles to the different playing techniques, the Saratoga Sevens Rugby Tournament was not an event to be missed.

All photos by www.photoandgraphic.com

Published in Sports

SARATOGA TODAY — Overcoming repeated bouts with rain, the 5th Annual Saratoga Lacrosse Shootout brought some of the best high school lacrosse teams from across the country together at Gavin Park for a weekend of high intensity competition. Taking place from June 30-July 2, the event saw teams mostly from New York, a good number from New England, and a couple from as far away as Arkansas. These teams competed for a Championship title, and the wider event also featured professional player clinics, coaching clinics, opening night ceremonies and festivities, a players-only lounge, 3-vs.-3 mini lacrosse tournament, Mazzone Catering, and a vendor village.

All photos by www.PhotoAndGraphic.com

Published in Sports

WILTON – Soccer teams from across the Northeast came together at Gavin Park in Wilton and at the Saratoga Youth Lacrosse Association fields on the PBA Range property this past weekend to put on a show for around 160 college coaches at the 15th Annual Mad Dog Mania Showcase Tournament. The aim of the tournament was to provide high school soccer teams a venue at which to demonstrate their talents in the hopes of being recruited for a college team. At this year’s tournament, 131 teams from eight states competed, and while the number of individual players was not counted, tournament director Nancy Stangle estimated that there must have been over 1,800 players.

The event drew in teams from all around the Northeast, including 15 local teams and some from as far as Maine. According to Stangle, most of the teams at the event were from schools in the 3-4-hours-away range. Coaches in attendance came from all across New York State and beyond. Stangle said that most every local college was represented, including Skidmore, Union College, Siena, the College of Saint Rose, and SUNY Albany, and according the Mad Dog organization’s official website, coaches from Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania made it to the event.

While the organization has never tracked the rate at which players from its tournaments successfully get recruited, Stangle cited anecdotal evidence from friends and families of players over the years to say that a good number of them are successful thanks to the tournament. A press release from Mad Dog Mania also cited an unnamed college coach in attendance at this year’s event as saying that they had targeted around 30 players as worthy of further consideration.

In that same press release, Mad Dog Mania also touted the economic benefits of their annual tournament. According to them, approximately 4,500 individuals journey to the tournament each year, resulting in around 1,000 hotel rooms being booked, with many participants partaking in local shops and restaurants.
“Numerous participants and spectators have said that they plan to return to this area for personal visits,” the release from Mad Dog Mania stated. “After attending the soccer tournament and seeing all that the region offers.”

All photos by www.photoandgraphic.com

Published in Sports

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