SARATOGA COUNTY — Saratoga Youth Hockey (SYH) is offering the opportunity of a lifetime for anyone interested in ice hockey… Two programs that allow anyone with an interest to test the sport out for free.
“Our goal of these programs to is to grow the hockey community in Saratoga and the surrounding areas and also making it much more affordable to get involved with hockey,” said Travis Higbee, board of director member and Learn to Skate Learn to Play coordinator.
These programs involve a partnership with the New York Rangers, which was announced in November 2019.
The first, Learn to Skate Learn to Play, is a 10-week program (that began on January 4, 2020) that runs until March 21 for one hour in the morning. Due to the partnership with the New York Rangers, any child who signs up for a 10-week session receives free hockey equipment to keep.
Half of the kids who are actively participating in this program come from the second program: Try Hockey for Free.
This event will take place on February 22 and the goal is to “get kids on the ice with little or no skating/hockey experience. The New York Rangers coaching staff is onsite and provides all the equipment to borrow for the day,” explains the website.
“This is a Grassroots experience for Saratoga. This time last year at Learn to Skate we had about 30 kids signed up and now we have 65,” Higbee explained.
Currently, 50 kids are signed up for the Try Hockey for Free program, but Higbee is adamant that there are plenty of spaces left.
“The goal is to take kids with zero or very little experience and in skating and/or hockey and get them to Try Hockey for Free. Step two is to get them engaged in the ten-week Learn to Skate Learn to Play program, where they actually get to participate. Then we look to convert them into our Saratoga Youth Hockey programs,” Higbee said.
SYH has age-appropriate programs for all kids who are interested. Mite is for ages fives to 8, Squirt is for 9-and 10-year-olds; Pee Wee is for 11-and 12-year-olds; Bantam is for 13- and 14-year-olds; and Midget is for 15 to 18-year-olds.
“The nice thing about the Rangers having done this in multiple locations in the past, 80% of the kids who did Try Hockey for Free signed up for Learn to Skate Learn to Play. 80% of those kids then convert to either the Mites or the Squirts. It’s great participation and great continuance that they stick with hockey,” Higbee explained.
“It’s literally taking a kid who never potentially played hockey or skated and then getting them into it and eliminating the burden of needing all of the equipment,” he said.
These programs are time friendly and affordable.
For more information, visit these links: www.syhi.org, juniorrangers.leagueapps.com/events/1483549-try-hockey-for-free-at-weibel-arenas-w-saratoga-youth-hockey, and learntoplay.nhl.com/rangers/6257.
Blue Streaks Hockey
SARATOGA SPRINGS — On Tuesday, January 21, the Blue Streaks had a massive win over the Mohawks, 9-0. It truly was a team effort with eight players scoring goals: Joe Amodio had two; Andrew Blanchard, Will Detora, Grady Frasier, Sam Jacob, Mack Ogden, Luke Shapiro, and Jax Todorovic each had one goal. Goalie Brad Blake had nine saves.
On Friday, January 24, the Blue Streaks played a closer match against La Salle. Saratoga took the win, 8-5. Joe Amodio and Will Detora each had two goals; Sam Jacob, Charlie Leary, Riley Lefebvre, and Griffin Sarver each had one goal. Goalie Brad Blake had 10 saves and other goalie Jesse Bradley had seven saves.
On Wednesday, January 29, the Blue Streaks played The Storm, winning 6-0. Joe Amodio and Andrew Blanchard each had two goals; Charlie Leary, Ryan McCoskey, and Michael Montague each had one goal. Goalie Brad Blake had 12 saves.
SRYMCA/Saratoga Honda Youth Basketball Scores
Cudney’s v. Blend Realty
Cudney’s-41: Ben Van Valkinburg-15, Marcus Vary-10
Blend-15: Jacob Alexander-6, Finn Kelly-3
PBA v. Olsen’s Associates
PBA-39: Stephon Lindsay-9 , Bryant Savage-9
Olsen’s-29: Colin MacGregor-9, Xavier Rusico-7
Vahanian & Associates Financial Planning v. Village Photo
Village Photo-54: Josh L-15, Jacob Krygruski-9, Patrick Deshane-9
Vahanian-32: Tommy Maurer-9, Paul Steves-7
Pashley Construction v. Spa Cafe
Spa Café- 49: Brian McCarthy-12, AJ Covota-10
Pashley’s-47: Quin Frank- 15, Raymond Garcia-10
Teams for Dreams Basketball Tournament to Support Local Scholarships
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The inaugural Teams for Dreams three-on-three basketball tournament will be held April 4 to support local scholarships.
The Saratoga Springs Rotary Education Foundation has partnered with Saratoga Financial Services to sponsor the event, which will be held at Saratoga Springs High School.
The tournament will feature men’s, women’s or coed teams of three or four players competing in various youth and adult brackets. All skill levels are welcome. Build a team and support a good cause. For pricing and to register, visit SaratogaSpringsScholarships.org. Registration closes March 1.
The Saratoga Springs Rotary Education Foundation invests in students’ potential because everyone deserves the opportunity for a brighter future. Each year, the foundation awards about $70,000 in scholarships to local high school students to further their dreams. Visit saratogaspringsscholarships.org to learn more.
NATIONWIDE — Speaking to What's Your 99?, the kindness you bring every day to others, Coach Rich Johns presented the importance of understanding yourself and that respect and kindness begins and ends with you, the individual.
By stressing the word empathy and its meaning, one can have a more fulfilling life. You need to be 'looking' to see empathy in everyone you meet.
If one is empathic and kind your, 99 will shine through.
Addressing mental health is a key component to AWRA and The Visible Project stresses the importance of always being kind. The kinder you are the more visible you become.
"When you give kindness, it comes back to refresh your own daily mental health," Coach Johns stated.
I want everyone to have a Solid 5 to go to. What is a Solid 5? They are the people who you can go to anytime, anyplace for physical and emotional support without judgement.
“I always stress that I am a Solid 5 for each person in my presentation,” Johns said.
Coach Johns traveled to Duke University recently and presented to about 200 freshmen student-athletes who are a part of the Duke Freshmen Action Program. He traveled with three Saratoga Springs CSD students: Kelsey, Emily, and Conner McFadden, who traveled with their father Dennis, to help Coach Johns with his presentation.
For more information, visit www.actwithrespectalways.com.
Photos by Lydia Huibregtse.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Nacre Dance Group is pleased to announce the second annual Empire State Youth Dance Ensemble (ESYDE) performance at the Spa Little Theater on February 29 at 2:30 and 7 p.m.
Nacre Dance Group's mission is to elevate dance through education, performance and opportunity. This program of Nacre Dance Group provides pre-professional training and performance opportunities in classical and contemporary modern dance to a select group of talented teenage dancers in the capital region.
The performances slated for February 29 (2:30 and 7 p.m.) at the Spa Little Theater in Saratoga Springs will showcase dancers from three area dance studios: Dance Force in Schenectady; Dance with Ginny Martin in Glenville; Isabelle’s School of Dance in East Greenbush; as well as additional area dance students selected through an open audition process.
Each studio will represent a piece of choreography that transports the audience through the early years of modern dance to current contemporary work.The program includes modern dance classics Air for the G-String (1928) by Doris Humphrey and Floor Plastique by Ted Shawn. For the 2020 season, Nacre has been working with the American Dance Legacy Initiative’s Repertory Etude Project (Rhode Island) to present “Rooms Etude” and “Battleworks Etude.” Etudes are short dances based on signature works of American choreographers. The Rooms Etude (arranged by Lorry May) is based on Anna Sokolow's masterpiece, Rooms. This piece is a study in character and intention and provides dancers with many of the tools of the actor. Battleworks Etude (Choreography by Robert Battle, arranged by Erika Pujič) is a powerful tour de force that includes movement elements from four of Robert Battle’s signature works--Flock, Jewel Lost, The Hunt, and Rush Hour—representing the early years of Battleworks Dance Company (2002-2010).
Nacre Dance Group builds new traditions in dance by showcasing contemporary choreographers of today. Students have been working with choreographers Anthony Alterio and Na’Keisha Barber on new choreography that bring a neo-classic style to the stage. Anthony Alterio holds an M.F.A in Dance from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI and is Assistant Professor of Dance at SUNY Fredonia. Na’Keisha Barber attended Slippery Rock College, PA and is an independent choreographer based in NYC.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — “There's been a lot of talk of me being a one-man show but that's simply not the case. We win games when I score 40 points and we've won when I score 10.” - Kobe Bryant
Charlie DiDonato is a 16-year-old sophomore from Saratoga Springs who plays on the 9-12 grade youth league team at the Saratoga YMCA. He is known on the court for his point scoring ability as a power forward.
"I've lost track of how many points so far this season," he laughed. “The first game I had 28 points and then after that I just stopped counting,” he explained.
He discovered the Y program by practicing there for his try-outs at the school in 8th grade. He saw a flyer and his mom suggested he sign up.
"Basketball is something I picked up around six years old. I played through a recreation league first and then I just liked it from there,” DiDonato explained.
DiDonato played on the high school team his freshmen year and then tried out this year and got cut so he's unsure if he'll retry for that team next year or not.
“It’s a more laidback atmosphere at the YMCA, I’m able to have more fun instead of playing intensely like I would on the high school team,” he said.
He is on the Spa Cafe Team, coached by Dallas Wells, who has coached him for a few seasons. DiDonato requests to be on his team because he’s used to his coaching style, which he feels propels him to success.
“Coach Wells is laid back for the most part. Sometimes he'll get on you, he motivates me a lot. When he needs you to play a certain way, he'll tell you,” DiDonato explained.
“Dallas is one of the best coaches I’ve ever had,” he raved.
DiDonato says shooting is his most valuable basketball skill but acknowledges he needs to work on his ball handling.
"When I was younger, I used to be taller than everyone else because I had my growth spurts before them. I was always a center and now as I get older, I’m not going to be taller than everybody so I just need to adapt to that.”
So far, the Spa City Cafe team is having a great season. “We’ve had a pretty good season so far. We've lost one game only, we're pretty good. We have good chemistry, I'm good friends with most of the kids on the team through school and stuff so that helps,” he said.
Still, he acknowledges that sometimes you don’t always have the best game. "When you put in all of that dedication and you don't have the best game, it's like dang, but you keep your head up and push through,” he said.
DiDonato also plays summer league and is coached by Wells then as well.
His best basketball moment to date occurred last summer: “I had 27 points and I made the two game winning free throws in a really tight game. It was an amazing moment. It was pretty intense.”
DiDonato is 100% dedicated to basketball and does not play any other sports; he puts his whole heart into the game. His favorite team is the Knicks and he was in the middle of a game when he heard the news about Kobe Bryant.
“I was really surprised, it's heartbreaking,” he said.
In his spare time, he enjoys hanging out with his friends and is looking for a part-time job. He is also a high honor roll student.
He credits his parents, Gina and Charles, as his biggest supporters.
His advice to the younger kids at the YMCA youth league is this: "Just know that it takes time and work to get to where you want to be, it doesn't happen overnight."
SARATOGA COUNTY — The Saratoga County Fair announced that up to ten $1,000 scholarships will be awarded to current New York State high school seniors and also students enrolled in college. The New York State Association of Agricultural Fairs and the New York State Showpeople’s Association sponsor the scholarships. The qualifying students must be active at the Saratoga County Fair or the New York State Showpeople’s Association. All applicants from Saratoga County must submit their applications through the Saratoga County Fair or NYSSA no later than Friday, April 3, 2020. Information is available at the Saratoga County Fair office, 162 Prospect St., Ballston Spa, through Cornell Cooperative Extension Saratoga County and local high school offices. Applications must be printed and completed from the web at www.nyfairs.org. For more information, contact the Saratoga County Fair office at 518-885-9701.
SOUTH GLENS FALLS — The South Glens Falls High School South High Marathon Dance (SHMD) is a student driven event that raises money for individuals, families, and organizations in need of financial assistance. With over 80% of the high school’s population participating in this two-day event, the students are trying to break last year’s record of $837,859! This event has grown into a celebration that brings the entire community together like nothing else, with activities taking place year-round. In its 42-year history, the Marathon Dance has raised over 8.1 million dollars for more than 530 beneficiaries - not just within South Glens Falls, but many surrounding communities as well. After reviewing roughly 180 applications, the student committee has selected the following as beneficiaries of SHMD 2020:
The families of...
Charles Aiken, Ryan Alger, Jennifer Annis, Lillian Baker, Janet Baker Pratt, David Bennett, Alice Charette, Esme Clark, Connie Himes, Nolan Jacox, Isabella Lauzon, Milana Lefebvre, Joshua McCane, Kelsey Murphy, Robert Murray, Robin Neumann, Nick Clark, Stephanie Rosa, Jennifer Ryan, Danita Shortte, Linda Tucker, Royce Younes.
Adopt A Soldier Alzheimer’s Association, Angel Names Association, Buddies Blankets and Bears CAPTAIN Community Human Svc Dysautonomia International, Food for Thought, Gateway House of Peace, Habitat for Humanity, Kelly’s Angels, Inc., Moreau Community Center, Rebuilding Together Saratoga Co., The Open Door Mission, Upstate NY Autism Alliance, Veterans and Community Housing.
The Marathon Dance Event, Supported Throughout the School Community
The 2020 Marathon Dance will be held March 6 and 7 at the South Glens Falls Senior High School. Opening ceremonies will begin at 7 p.m. Friday evening. Community members can donate to the dance in a variety of ways. Each of the 800+ students signed up to participate is required to collect a minimum of $150. You can choose to donate to an individual student’s total online, or the Marathon Dance in general, through the “Donate” tab on the website at www.shmd.org. The District’s middle and elementary schools also conduct Marathon Dance fundraising activities, including Ballard Elementary Cupcake Challenge, Harrison Avenue Mini-Marathon, Moreau Elementary Glow Dance, and Tanglewood Elementary Walk-A- Thon. Additionally, Oliver W. Winch Middle School is holding their annual basket raffle through March 3, with drawings March 6. Fifth graders and certain middle schoolers even have their own time slot to participate at SHMD!
Donating Goods and Services to SHMD
Community Fundraising Events
• Glens Falls National Bank through March 5
• Massie’s: February 3
• Josten’s: February 6 and 7
• Wicks from the Sticks: February 7, 22 and 27
• Fitzgerald’s: February 8 and 27
• Pretty Hot Mess: February 8
• Johnny Rocket’s: February 10 - 14
• Coach’s Corner: February 10
• Craft on 9: February 11
Activities and Fundraising at the Dance
• Downtown Social DMB Night: February 15
• Southy’s Soft Serve: February 21 and 22
• Kingpin’s Alley: February 22
• Common Roots: February 22
• Eagles Club: February 22
• Talk of the Town: February 24
• Southy’s Pizzeria: February 26
• Pizza Jerks: February 28
• St. Michael’s Breakfast: March 1
Many fundraising activities are conducted at the dance itself. Activities include the annual cut-a-thon which will take place throughout the weekend, as well as the sale of Marathon Dance apparel, photos, hair wraps, face painting, ice cream and more. The annual 50/50 raffle provides an opportunity to be one of the many to win a $500 prize. The concession stand provides a variety of food and beverage options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The live and silent auctions will also take place during the dance. The silent auction begins Friday evening and ends early Saturday evening, followed by the live auction which begins at 6 p.m.
Visiting the Marathon Dance March 6 and 7
This event is open to the public from 7 to 10:30 p.m. on Friday, March 6, and any time after 7 a.m. on Saturday, March 7. Only registered participants, and others as indicated in the official schedule, are permitted on the gym floor. Additionally, seating is limited in the main Bulldog gym where the dance takes place; spectators may be directed to alternate viewing areas. Information regarding parking and shuttle buses is available on the website and Facebook page. Please visit the website at www.shmd.org, and follow SHMD on social media for additional information and to view the Marathon Dance live the weekend of the event!
Student Chair Committee
Natalie Barden, Hunter Clark, Jaime DeSimone, Jenna Farrell, Jillian Harrington, Savannah Kreppein, Bryce Law, Isabella Osborn, Austin Peltier, Aidan Taylor, Brooke Terry.
Dan Albert, Tom Myott, and Jody Sheldon.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — “Gymnastics has made me strong. I feel like it broke me down to my lowest point, but at the same time, it has given me the greatest strength anyone could ask for.” – Olympian Shawn Johnson.
Ava Dallas is a record-breaking 17-year-old junior at Saratoga Springs High School with a passion for gymnastics that she pursues, regardless of the injuries or other things she sacrifices to succeed.
“I started when I was really little, around two years old, and I stopped for a while but then I started to get serious about it when I was 10,” she explained.
“Just watching college gymnastics on TV and the summer Olympics, I got really inspired and then I started taking classes at the Y and then I joined the team there.”
Dallas then switched to a club team which was more serious and eventually made the choice to join the school’s team full time. She was with Stepping Star for three years and then switched to the high school team because she wanted something more team oriented and with less hours in the gym. From November to the end of February, the gym is where you can find her.
"Right after the season is over, we have about a month and a half off and then we go back to practicing on Sundays and then when it gets into the summer, we practice twice a week,” Dallas specified.
Dallas currently holds the Section II record for vaulting, which is 9.475.
"My freshmen year on the team, I broke the record for the first time and then last year I broke it once in the beginning of the year and then once again at the end of the year at the state meet,” she explained.
However, she is still recovering from a stress fracture in her back from over the summer.
“It was very hard for me to do anything because it was so painful. When I went to the doctor, he advised that I slow down and possibly stop to prevent any further injury. I didn't want to do that and compromise my junior season so I modified my routines to do skills that didn't hurt me and now I’m building back all of my skills and all of my routines to get back to where I want to be,” Dallas said.
Dallas also coaches the little girls the basics of gymnastics at the Wilton YMCA.
"Coaching the little girls definitely provides a different perspective on the sport. As a coach, you have to think about putting the skill into words that the little kids would understand and sometimes it takes multiple times to explain things so it really makes you think about every single little part of each skill that you do. Also, to see them enjoy it as much as they do, it really brings a new enjoyment for me,” she mused.
Her family supports one another tremendously. Her sister cheers at Syracuse and the family goes to watch her games whenever they can.
She cites her father as her biggest fan: "it means a lot, I can always look over and see him cheering for me… He's like my number one fan," she laughed.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — On Friday, January 24, Saratoga Springs high school celebrated their six senior boys on the varsity basketball team; Aidan Holmes, Bryce Emery, Garrett Myers, Grayson Dumortier, Dan Spillane, and Aidan Dagostino. The team is coached by Matt Usher and assistant coached by Geoff Loiacono.
The team played Bethlehem in a rematch from last year’s Sectional Championship, which the Blue Streaks won.
“It was a tight game to the end. Blue Streaks were down 58-56 with 7 seconds left when Luke Britton hit a 3-point shot on a pass from Aidan Holmes for the win,” Alicia Holmes, a booster club member, explained.
The final score was 59-58.
Holmes scored 11 points; Emery had five points; Myers had four points; Dumortier had three points; Spillane and Dagostino each had two points. Luke Britton, junior, had a team high of 19 points.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Skidmore College will host Be Instrumental — a musical instrument drive to benefit elementary school students in the North Country, including Ticonderoga Elementary School band program students. The drive will accept gently used brass, woodwind and percussion band instruments. The drive began Wednesday, Jan. 22 and concludes Saturday, Feb. 8.
In tandem, Skidmore students hosted “Band-Aid” — a benefit concert on Jan. 25 at Lively Lucy’s in Falstaff’s Pavilion on the Skidmore College Campus. The event price of admission was an instrument or a monetary donation of any amount. All proceeds went toward the Be Instrumental drive.
When Evan Mack’s 10-year-old son came home from band practice and told him that some of his classmates were playing plastic instruments or instruments held together by tape, the senior teaching professor of music at Skidmore College was stunned. He also learned that many students could not afford to rent musical instruments.
Mack, an accomplished composer and pianist, teamed up with Michelle Hubbs, director of the Office of Community Service, as well as Skidmore students Madison Pappas ’22 and Neil Mellstrom ’20 to create Be Instrumental — an instrument drive aimed at giving the gift of music to children in Ticonderoga Schools.
“Learning to play on a quality, working instrument is so important. When you give children a functional instrument, what you’re really giving them is the opportunity to explore what they’re capable of and to fall in love with music,” says Mack.
Skidmore students have been asked to bring gently used instruments that they no longer use back to campus when they return from winter break for the drive. “So many of our students have played an instrument at one point, in high school or even college, but no longer use that instrument,” says Mack. “These same instruments can now inspire a new generation of students.”
Several local businesses and organizations in the Saratoga region will help spread the word and encourage participation. Esperanto, Smashburger and Kru Coffee are offering incentives to those who support the drive. Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) will provide a special classical music package to whoever donates the most instruments. Cole’s Woodwind Shop and Saratoga Guitar & Music Center have volunteered to clean and prepare donated instruments before they are distributed to schools.
Ticonderoga Elementary school will be the primary beneficiary, but all surplus instruments will be distributed to other area schools.