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SARATOGA SPRINGS — Dr. David Gabay still occasionally finds his dreams drifting back to when he was fresh out of college.
“It’s funny, I still have the dreams where I wake up, and I’m still in chiropractic college and I have three months to graduate, and I don’t know where I’m gonna go,” Gabay said. “And now it’s 35 years later.”
Gabay first established his private chiropractic practice in Saratoga Springs back in May of 1982, just a few months after finishing school in December of 1981. He had completed his undergraduate degree at Stony Brook, and his graduate school had been the New York Chiropractic College, which was then located in Long Island. He initially stressed about which direction to take his career early on, not sure whether to go work some place as an associate, or to start up his own practice. Despite offers from respected chiropractors in Manhattan and Long Island, he followed the urgings of family friend Robert D. Scott to come check out the Saratoga area for a potential practice.
After staying with Scott for around two weeks, Gabay made the decision to take a risk on his own practice, starting out with a location on Myrtle Street. Having grown up in the Pine Bush section of Albany, it was something of a homecoming for him. Now, many years and accomplishments later, Gabay’s practice is still going strong on the second floor of a building on Maple Avenue, just across from the middle school tennis courts.
Gabay recalled an amusing exchange from the early days of his practice. Two of his first patients, local golf enthusiasts Mike McGraw and Denny Farone, were interested in checking out “the new guy in town.” Both men were in need of a chiropractor, but expressed concern over getting treatment from someone as young as Gabay.
“To this day, Mike remembers my response,” Gabay said. “I said, ’Well, do you want somebody who’s old or do you want somebody that’s good?’”
Gabay began to get involved in sports medicine in 1994 after Dr. Philip Santiago, the first ever chiropractor chosen to be part of the U.S. Olympic Team Medical Staff, established the Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician program to offer specialized training to chiropractors looking to work with professional athletes and Olympians. Gabay completed his certification over the course of three years, going to Meadowlands area of N.J. one weekend each month for classes and hands-on instruction. From time to time, he worked with the New York Giants while working towards his certification, occasionally attending games to help the players on-site.
A few years later, Gabay went to work at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, alongside a number of other professionals from a wide variety of medical disciplines. His and everyone else’s job there was to help get as many injured athletes off the bench as possible in time for them to compete in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Ga. Gabay stayed in the position right up until the athletes shipped out for the games. He was offered the opportunity to attend the games, but ut as a solo practitioner, Gabay could not be away from his practice for another 3 weeks.
Since then, Gabay has worked with U.S. bobsledding, skeleton, and luge teams at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, and recently procured funding and casted orthotics for Bobsled, athletes.
Some of the teams that Gabay worked with included the U.S. wrestling teams, the judo and taekwondo teams, the weightlifting team, the shooting team, and more. Some of the notable individuals that Gabay worked with during this time included three-time wrestling gold medalist and future Edinboro University athletic director Bruce Baumgartner, and gold medalist and future WWE performer Kurt Angle.
In his spare time, Gabay likes to work on restoring classic cars, for which he has a garage set up out back of the building where his practice is. Often on the weekends, he gets together with a group of friends to work on his latest restoration project.
(UPDATE, 11:42 a.m., 7/7: This online article has been changed with minor corrections, and so differs from the print article.)
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Saratoga Regional YMCA concluded the first phase of its outdoor development program by bringing adventure to our very own backyard.
Tucked into the woods on the south end of the Saratoga Regional YMCA (SRYMCA) on West Avenue is the brand new Adventure Course, which had its grand opening on June 22. The 4,340-square-foot course consists of a multiple rock-climbing walls, rope bridges, and tire bridges suspended at varying levels above the ground. Affixed to the top of the main rock wall tower structure is a zip-line, which brave participants can use to ride down to the bottom. When press and other attendees arrived for the grand opening of the course, SRYMCA Board President Alysa Arnold addressed the crowd from the top of the course before riding the zip-line down.
“Today, I am so excited that we are at the point where we have an amazing team that is well-trained, and this summer, kids and adults in our area are going to be able to experience this wonderful adventure course,” Arnold said from the top of the structure. “We have 300-plus campers this summer, and they are gonna have a lot of fun and learn a lot of life skills right on this course.”
Arnold went on to emphasize that the course was far more than just a way for kids and families to have healthy fun, but that it will also give them the opportunity to safely challenge themselves by going outside their comfort zones. Then, using herself as an example of this due to her fear of heights, she ended her speech and rode the zip-line down to a round of applause.
“This is one of those resources that helps us make sure that Saratoga is the healthiest county in all of New York State,” Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce President Todd Shimkus said, introducing the course to the gathered crowd. “As well as, hopefully, the world, someday.”
The Adventure Course is just one part of the first phase of SRYMCA outdoor development initiative. Other aspects of the first phase have included an enclosed pavilion for rainy days and a traverse wall on the north side of the West Avenue location. Planning for the course began approximately three years ago, with construction taking about a year to complete, beginning with the procurement of building permits. The actual time that it took to physically construct the course was around three months. The costs for constructing the course were covered through community fundraising, according to Chief Operations Officer Kelly Armer.
“The best way children learn is through play,” Armer said. “And this is a great structure to add [for that].”
The next phase of development for SRYMCA will begin soon, with plans to build a new pool and another gym, as according to Armer, they are quickly outgrowing their current space. There is currently no set timeline for this second phase.
All photos by Thomas Kika.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Saratoga Springs Little League celebrated a season of competition on June 17 with the first-ever Adirondack Cup. Held at West Side Rec, the day-long event kicked off at 9 a.m., pitting the top-seeded teams from both the major and minor divisions of the league against their counterparts from Glens Falls Little League (GFLL). A total of 18 match-ups played out, culminating with the No. 1 seeded major and minor teams from each league facing off, which led to victories for Saratoga Springs Little League in each case.
Majors champions PBA bested their GFLL opponents, Warren Tire, with a strong 16-1. PBA was dominant from the outset, scoring six runs on Warren Tire in the first inning. Minors champions Julie and Co. bested GFLL’s Hudson River Community Credit Union, rallying back against their opponents’ early 3-point lead. Prior to the event, each team had claimed the Saratoga Little League titles in championship bouts on Thursday (Julie and Co. vs. HT Lyons) and Friday (PBA vs. Byrne Orthodontics).
Beyond the numerous match-ups, Saratoga Springs Little League went above and beyond to make the gathering feel like a proper celebration for all the young athletes in attendance. Special announcers were brought in for the games, and music was played between innings. A bounce house was also set up for the enjoyment of the children in attendance.
“This was a celebration of both leagues in their entirety,” league vice president David S. Karpinski said. “We always love to conclude our seasons with a sort of playoff type event.”
Moving on from this season, 36 out of the around 300 players from the normal leagues have been chosen to compete on the All-Stars team. Practice for this higher-level team began on June 20, and the first game will take place June 26 against Mechanicville/Stillwater.
All photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Blue Streak history was made at the recent Section II boys tennis tournament.
Entering the competition on May 24 as the No. 1 seeded doubles team, senior David Romano and eighth-grader Nick Grosso went all the way, finally besting the team of Govind Chari and Shamanth Murundi of Bethlehem to become the Section II doubles champions. Capping off an exceptional 18-0 season for the Saratoga Tennis program, Romano and Grosso helped bring home the program’s first ever doubles title. This comes off of the program taking its first-ever sectional team title in 2016. From this win, they will move on to compete in the State-level competition at Flushing Meadows, the same site as the US Open.
Both Romano and Grosso have been in the Saratoga Tennis program since their seventh grade years. This was their first year working together as a doubles team. As a senior and an eighth grader, they are working with an age-disparity that they say is very much not common in varsity tennis.
“I’ve never seen it, in my six years,” Romano said about the age gap. “It works out, cause we both know and respect each other’s games a lot, and he’s one of the hardest workers that I’ve known, and I think together we make a great team.”
“Seeing David out on the court when I was little, you know, it just kept me moving,” Grosso said. “Kept me going, kept me trying every day to be a player like him some day. I think that’s what kept me going, and that’s where I’m at right now.”
Coach Tim O’Brien singled-out the team’s ability to communicate on the court as one of the reasons that they have been so successful. Romano attributes this to their knowledge of each other’s styles, including their strengths and weaknesses on the court, allowing them to cover for each other fairly quickly.
“There have been plenty of times when I shouted for help and he was right there,” Romano said.
Romano will be attending Brown University in the fall after graduating. While there is a very strong tennis team at Brown, Romano was hesitant to say that he would be up to the task of making the team. He does, however, intend to offer his services to help the team in whatever way he is able. Grosso, meanwhile, will be moving up from middle school to high school in the fall, and is not feeling too much pressure about it. Given his experience with high schoolers during his two seasons on the tennis team, he feels confident in his ability to make the transition smoothly. If anything, he expects the change to do wonders for his game.
Elsewhere at the Section II championships, singles players Seungmin Kim and Max Lee made it to the quarterfinals.
“The key to it I think has just been having a foundation of great kids and leaders, on the court and off the court,” O’Brien said about what has made this season’s team so dominant. “It begins with them.”
Photos by Photoandgraphic.com.
SCHUYLERVILLE – Continuing the trend of raising money to fight cancer last weekend, the Schuylerville Youth Lacrosse team hosted a benefit shootout to raise money for the family of community member Mike Podkladek, who is currently in treatment for a brain tumor. The event was held at Schuyler Park on May 13, and the team estimates that anywhere from 700 to 1,000 people were in attendance. In all, over $8,000 was raised for the Podkladek family.
Mike Podkladek, along with wife Beth, is a member of the Schuylerville community and the parent of three – Jordan, Callie, and Braden. In the past, he has frequently volunteered in his children’s sports, including softball, football, hockey, and lacrosse. In November of 2016, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor that required surgery. After having his initial tumor removed, pathology reports came back which said that he had Grade 4 Glioblastoma, an untreatable cancerous brain tumor. He has since been fortunate enough to be entered into a clinical trial at Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York City, where he and his wife travel to for treatments every other Tuesday.
The event saw 14 5-6 grade youth lacrosse teams from across the area in attendance. During the scheduling meeting back in March, Schuylerville coach Wayne Durr asked the others teams if they would be willing to attend the event. Upon hearing that it would be a benefit, many local programs cancelled their round robins in order to attend. Teams from Ballston Spa, Burnt Hills, Columbia, Glens Falls, Queensbury, Saratoga Springs, Scotia, and Stillwater made it to the event. Each team competed in three games and took part in a “Fastest Shot” competition.
The Podkladek family is still accepting donations from the public through a GoFundMe page. Any readers interested in donating to the family should go to www.gofundme.com/mike-podkladek-family-support-fund.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – This year’s senior game carried extra importance for the Saratoga Varsity baseball team.
In addition to honoring the team’s senior players, the May 13 non-league game against Schuylerville was also used to raise money for cancer research. To this end, the team raised money in a number of ways, including selling t-shirts. Saratoga Coach Andy Cuthbertson decided that the money should be raised in the name of Tracy Hogben, a long-time Saratoga Springs City School District substitute teacher, recent full-time employee at Lake Avenue Elementary, and parent of five children currently enrolled in the district alongside her husband, Gordon. Three of their children – Gordon Jr., Harrison, and Griffin – play baseball for Saratoga.
On Oct. 18 of last year, Hogben suffered a seizure at home, which led to her diagnosis on Oct. 25 of a Right Frontal Lobe Primary Brain Tumor. After 13 days at Albany Medical Center and a craniotomy, Hogben was found to have an Oligodendreglioma, a Grade 2 primary brain tumor.
Hogben attended the benefit game and threw out the first pitch in front of around 500 people in attendance. Both the Saratoga Springs and Schuylerville communities have taken part in raising money, and have, as of May 16, raised $4,989. Donations are still being collected, and once collection is finished, the money will be donated to the Albany Medical Center Brain Tumor Research Fund.
“The community did a fantastic job of stepping up to support one of our own families in need,” Robin Chudy said. “The money raised will be a donation to Albany Medical Center as it will provide resources to continue to look for possible cures for cancer.”
According to Chudy, many parents got involved by setting up food tables for the game, as well as by creating a program for the game that included pages dedicated to the Hogben family, as well as pages for all seven senior players. Far from just working towards a noble cause, it was a great day all around for the Blue Streaks as they beat Schuylerville 6-0.
Al photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – A handful of senior athletes from Saratoga Springs will be embarking on an exciting new journey next fall.
Saratoga Springs High School (SSHS) seniors Matthew Chmiel, Hunter Choy, Dane Feldhaus, Will Navin, and Gregory Polmatier will each be attending military academies this coming fall after graduation. Chmiel, a member of the Varsity Tennis team, will be attending the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado; Choy, a member of both the Soccer and Track & Field teams, will be attending The United States Military Academy in West Point, New York; Feldhaus, a member of the Varsity Football team, will be attending the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York; Navin, a runner with both the Cross Country and Track & Field teams, will also be attending West Point; and Polmatier, a member of both the Varsity Lacrosse and Boys Volleyball teams, will be attending the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
Chmiel is a three-year veteran of the Varsity Tennis team at SSHS. Last year, he and the rest of the team made it all the way to claim sectional titles. He currently plays doubles. He first started considering pursuing a military career after high school only a few years ago while witnessing a friend go through the application process. Not having any military history in his family, it was not something he ever thought about in his youth. He attributes his decision to apply to the Air Force Academy to his interest in studying aeronautical engineering, as well as to a general interest in military aircraft.
“I’m very excited,” Chmiel said. “I’m humbled to have the opportunity. It was such a competitive process. I know that there’s gonna be a lot of work ahead of me, but I’m ready to put in whatever it takes.
As a member of the Varsity Soccer team, Choy made it to the position of Captain after serving as the starting goalkeeper. He has also competed in Track & Field events. Attending the Military Academy at West Point has been an almost life-long dream for Choy, ever since he read a biography of General George S. Patton in second grade that inspired him to serve his country.
“I’m super excited. It’s been a long time coming,” Choy said. “It’s been a very long process and I’m extremely humbled to be able to pursue this career in the army.”
Feldhaus’s athletic history at SSHS began on the freshman baseball and football teams in ninth grade, and since then he as played on both the JV and Varsity football teams. For a long time, he knew that he wanted to get involved with either the Navy or the Marine Corps, but was never sure in what way. Having been urged to study engineering by his mother, he found the Merchant Marine Academy at a college fair, and found that it satisfied both goals, to serve his country and to study engineering.
“It’s been a long process, maybe like a 13-month application. It just never really seems to end,” Feldhaus said. “So, I’m really excited to get there and get it going.”
Navin has been involved with the track team since his freshman year at SSHS. Over the course of his varsity career, he has been the Captain of the Track & Field team, competed in the Suburban Council All-Stars team two years in a row, and set a school record in the 4x800 meter relay. West Point has been his goal since elementary school, having always wanted to serve his country from a young age.
“It’s hard to believe it’s still true,” Navin said. “I really can’t believe it, and I’m really excited.”
Polmatier has been involved in athletics since seventh grade. His varsity career began in his sophomore year when he joined the Varsity Lacrosse team. He has since served as the Captain of that team in both his junior and senior years. He also played on the Varsity Volleyball team in his junior and senior years, serving as Captain for the team as a senior. He believes that his love of sports and his desire to attend the Naval Academy in Annapolis are tied up in the same principles.
“When I’m having the most fun ever is when I’m competing with a group and working hard,” Polmatier said. “And that’s kinda the core of what the military is, just teamwork and relying on that person next to you, which is why I have a fondness for sports, and what’s led me to my interest in the military academies.”
Each of the student athletes said that they intend to continue on with athletics while attending their respective schools.
All photos by Thomas Kika.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – A strong season is continuing apace for the dominant Saratoga Springs High School varsity girls lacrosse team.
In a league game against Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake on their home turf on April 22, the Blue Streaks dominated the visiting team from start to finish, ending the game with a strong 16-6 victory. The team made good on their intentions to dominate the game from the beginning, putting up the first point of the game, and by halftime, they had massive 10-1 lead. This win puts the team 5-0 in league games, with their only loss coming at the hands and sticks of Niskayuna in a non-league game. Coming up soon will be big games against formidable teams, including Shenendahowa, Shaker, and Bethlehem.
“We have really excellent momentum,” Coach Elaine Lotruglio said. “We’ve had one loss, and it was close. I think we’re in a real good place [going forward].”
Lotruglio was impressed by the rhythm of the game, noting that the younger team was really coming into its own. Compared to previous years’ teams, this team skews much more towards the lower grade levels, with five freshmen and four sophomore players. Lotruglio guesses that by the time these young players make it to their senior year, their familiarity with one another will make them a force to contend with.
“They love to be together,” Lotruglio said about the team’s chemistry. “They pass well, and they’re learning each other’s moves, so to speak.”
A strong practice routine is also helping the team put up impressive numbers, in particular their warm-ups developed by the players themselves alongside assistant coach Elise Britt, a personal trainer and Maple Avenue Middle School health teacher. Lotruglio also noted how the team pulls certain shortcomings from each game they play so that they can work towards fixing them in future practice sessions.
Alongside the younger players, this season’s team has four senior players, Olivia Oskin, Cameron Parry, Emily Fischer, and Francesca Mangino, the latter three of which have signed their letters of intent to play inter-collegiate lacrosse in the fall. Lotruglio also highlighted the skills of sophomore Lindsey Frank, junior Ellen Payer, and junior Katie Wendell.
“They all just have a lot of fun together,” Lotruglio said.
All photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – It was a situation that would be tense for any baseball team in any game: tied with the rival team, 4-4, in the bottom of the seventh inning. This was the situation that the Saratoga Springs High School varsity baseball team found itself in on April 14, when it faced rivals Shenendahowa in a non-league game at Shuttleworth Park. This was not just any old non-league game, however: to give some extra heft to the game required under new Suburban Council guidelines, the two teams came together to create the I-87 Cup, which will fought over each year by both teams in a non-league game.
Enter junior Brian Hart, who with just the right swing of the bat hit a homerun, cinching the Blue Streaks’ victory and making them the inaugural holders of the new title.
“It was a great feeling, just running around the bases,” Hart said. “Seeing everyone at home plate, all excited, and I was excited, just to touch the plate and celebrate with my team… Yeah, they were all excited for me, and it was a special moment for us.”
“I kinda said to him in the on-deck circle, it’d be nice if you hit one over that wall, kinda jokingly,” Coach Andy Cuthbertson said. “And, you know, sure enough, he did that.”
Hart has been playing baseball for Saratoga since little league, or, “most” of his life, as he said. Going forward in the season, he believes that the Blue Streaks can go on to win a sectional championship.
“We’re looking to make a long run,” Hart said.
“The one thing about Brian, even when he was a 10th grader last year, he is very composed,” Cuthbertson said. “He doesn’t get very worked up, and that’s quite an attribute to have as a 10th grader, and now as a junior, sometimes I almost think in my mind that he is a senior, and I have remember that, wow, I have him for one more year. What a nice treat for our program.”
All photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – A crowd of cheering friends and families filled the bleachers in the Saratoga Springs High School’s blue gym as 14 young athletes embraced their futures.
In a special ceremony held on April 12, the Saratoga Springs City School District honored 14 senior athletes as they signed their letters of intent to play inter-collegiate athletics at the universities of their choice in the fall. Athletic director Peter Sheehan addressed the attended crowd – which included other student athletes allowed to attend before their various practices and meets by their coaches – before the actual signings, thanking them for their attendance and congratulating the athletes on their achievements.
“We are so very proud of each and every one of you, and of the time and effort you’ve put in to make this day possible,” Sheehan said.
The athletes honored at the ceremony were, in the order they were seated at the table from left to right: Sarah Winters, who will play field hockey at Skidmore College; Francesca Mangino, who will play lacrosse at SUNY Brockport; Cameron Parry, who will play lacrosse at Quinnipiac University; Emily Fischer, who will play lacrosse at Clarkson University; Tucker Pierce, who will play lacrosse at Westminster College; Elizabeth Maguire, who will play soccer at Le Moyne College; Gabe Olsen, who will play soccer at Mount Ida College; Daniel Varsames, who will play soccer at Utica College; Michael Moran, who will also play soccer at Utica College; Autumn Boxley, who will swim at George Mason University; Victoria Breslin, who will swim at Le Moyne College; Morgan Hoffman-Smith, who will swim at Ithaca College; Nick Cavotta, who will run track and field at Winthrop University; and Mary “Mimi” Liebers, who will run track & field at the College of the Holy Cross. Griffin Taylor, who will play lacrosse at SUNY Oneonta, was not present at the ceremony due to attending a meet at his soon-to-be school, but he was mentioned by Sheehan and was present on the list of athletes at the ceremony.
“I just loved the campus as soon as I stepped on campus,” Parry said about her choice of Quinnipiac. “I knew that that was the place for me. The coaching staff was just really welcoming, and all the girls on the team were super welcoming, and I just really got a good feel for the team and for the… kind of program that I’d be going to.”
“I’m very excited,” Liebers said about attending Holy Cross in the fall. “I’ve always known I wanted to do college sports, and track has been my main sport for five years now. So getting to continue track in college is a dream come true… I wanted a D-1 program, but I particularly liked the Patriot League. And I just loved the school, and I knew I needed to see myself at the school without track, so it all just fell into place.”
“I was looking at schools in the south, and I found Winthrop, it has my major in business and a minor in sports marketing, which is just awesome for me,” Cavotta said about his choice of Winthrop. “It’s a beautiful school. It’s down south, lot of warm weather. Not a huge school, which I like, so I can get some more individual time with my professors. It just has everything I could look for in a college.”
“Super proud,” Cavotta’s mother said about her son’s achievement. “I like the school. Like he said, it’s a nice small school, homey, they focus on academics and education, and parent involvement.”
Notably, two of the athletes at the ceremony, Varsames and Moran, will be playing the same sport, soccer, at Utica. This is fitting, as they have been close friends for years.
“That’ll help a lot,” Varsames said about attending school with someone he is so familiar with. “We both know how each other plays. It’ll help team chemistry, obviously. We’re best friends, so it’ll be fun… [We’ve been playing together since we were] probably like around 10, 12 maybe.”
“I think we have an outstanding group of coaches, we have very supportive parents who allow our student athletes to have opportunities, both in-school and out-of-school, that kinda give them a chance to compete at the collegiate level,” Sheehan said about the SSCSD athletics program. “I think that’s important to have that year-round commitment and to have those year-round opportunities.”
All photos by Thomas Kika.