Jaynie Ellis

Jaynie Ellis

Thursday, 18 March 2021 15:04

Cancelled: Speech Not So Free at Skidmore

SARATOGA SPRINGS — A Young Americans for Liberty chapter has been rejected from forming at Skidmore College, and its organizer believes that the decision signifies the already present “cancel culture” on campus. 

Hannah Davis, a junior Political Science major at Skidmore College, began to organize a chapter of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) over winter break. After starting an Instagram page to raise awareness, opposition towards the group began in the form of negative comments on posts. In addition, an author under the username AC created an anti-YAL Change.org petition. The author lists past events held by other YAL chapters in the description of the petition that show “patterns of racism, homophobia, and transphobia.” The petition has since gained over 1,700 signatures. 

Most of this attention comes after the Club Affairs Committee at the college denied the chapter an 8-week trial period. Which, to Davis’ understanding, was to see if the club had interest and could be allocated funds. A chapter/club is not made official until after the trial period and a SGA (Student Government Association) Senate vote. 

YAL is a student activism organization whose chapters are affiliated with the national political group and Congressman Ron Paul, promoting libertarian ideals such as individual freedoms and small government. However, individual chapters on each college campus are free to create and pursue their own goals, although the organization does advise against certain speakers or events. 

“They don’t believe that government should be involved in people’s personal lives, and in the matters of marriage and other social issues that people on my campus value a lot,” said Davis. “That is where I thought we were going to reach common ground.”

Davis decided to form the club because of the culture existing at Skidmore that she has experienced herself. She describes the lack of political variation and speakers in the classroom, as well as the negative athlete versus non-athlete attitudes that align with the hostility between political viewpoints on campus, as reasons behind her chapter’s goals of reducing polarization, promoting free speech and analytic thinking, and holding the faculty and college accountable to provide students with a nonpartisan learning environment. Davis emphasizes that her chapter is working towards goals that are specific to the campus and vary from other chapters. 

“I’ve gotten a lot of pushback saying that this is in response to something specific and that’s not the case,” said Davis. “This decision was not in response to any other club, any other organization, or any other efforts on campus. This was very much three years of what I considered limited viewpoints on campus being discussed.”

Davis has spoken to the Club Affairs Committee about their decision, and plans to make an appeal to the SGA Senate; the administration of the college is not involved in these decisions. 

Skidmore College President, Marc C. Connor, said in a statement to the Times Union: 

“The student leaders whom our students have elected as their representatives have the right to vote to decide the outcome of this process…I encourage all members of our community to exercise their freedom of speech and freedom of association and to engage with each other with patience, courtesy, and respect for one another.”

Saratoga TODAY reached out to Skidmore College’s SGA for a comment, but received no response. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — A local high schooler is a finalist for the first annual Empire State Winter Games Athlete of the Year Award. 

Hunter Goodwin is only a freshman at Saratoga Springs High School, but has already accomplished great things in his sport – ski cross. 

Ski cross, as he describes it, is a mix of alpine and slope skiing. Four skiers start at the same time and compete on a course of rollers, jumps, and bank turns. Hunter’s mother, Nicole Goodwin, describes it as “roller derby on skis.” 

Hunter started skiing around the age of three. His parents introduced it to him, and then put him into the Mountain Adventure program at Gore Mountain. It was after he tried out for the alpine team at West Mountain, that one of his coaches, Matt Lynn, told him about ski cross. 

Hunter now trains through the NYSEF (New York Ski Educational Foundation) Freeride Program at Gore Mountain. When he races, he represents the Adirondack Series of the USASA (United States of America Snowboard and Freeski Association). Hunter has already earned three back-to-back gold medals this year in USASA competitions at Gore and Whiteface. In a normal year, without COVID, he would have traveled to places like Vermont and Colorado to compete also. 

The first annual Empire State Winter Games (ESWG) Athlete of the Year Award presented by BlueShield of Northeastern New York is their way of honoring winter sport athletes across New York State, in place of their typical event at the end of January. The qualifications are as follows, according to their website (www.empirestatewintergames.com): an athlete who (a) has participated in the Games before, or 2021 would have been their first year competing, and (b) exemplifies sportsmanship, leadership, community service, academic excellence, and overall, what it means to be an Empire State Winter Games Athlete. Coaches, parents, and peer athletes could submit nominations. One finalist is chosen from each sport by the respective ESWG Sport Coordinator. Finalists then submit a video for ESWG to share on social media, where the community will vote. The athlete with the most likes will win Athlete of the Year, announced on March 9. 

“It was definitely a surprise,” said Hunter, about being nominated and winning the ski cross category. “I have been going to the Empire State Winter Games, this would have been my third year and the first two years I got gold in ski cross. It’s a cool thing knowing that people nominated me for ski cross, and I didn’t realize it would take me to the overall award.”

Hunter has been able to balance skiing and school easily, doing homework during the week and training on the weekends. For him, training consists of practicing his starts, full tucks, and absorption jumps on the course, or wide turns down the mountain. Hunter mainly focuses on skiing, but he also skateboards and trampolines. Despite all his success already, and at such a young age, Hunter has big goals for the future.

“I want to podium at nationals,” said Hunter. “And, my highest goal is to get to the Olympics.”

We wish you good luck Hunter!

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Harness kicked off its 80th season of live harness racing on Monday, March 1. Races will run three days a week, every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, with a first post at noon through the first four months of the season.

The 2021 season will feature a full slate of New York Sire Stakes action, along with new betting options. In addition to the Pick 5 with a guaranteed pool, Saratoga will be introducing two new bets geared toward building jackpot-type payoffs, the Jackpot Super High Five and the Pick
Six Jackpot. 

Due to state COVID-19 guidelines, no spectators are allowed at the track; however, fans can wager remotely on the races through Saratoga Casino Hotel’s online wagering platform, saratogabets.com, or on any other New York State approved online wagering platform. 

For a complete schedule, or for more information on the raceway’s safety procedures, visit saratogacasino.com. 

Thursday, 04 March 2021 15:27

Toga Hockey: 2 Shut-Outs and Counting

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Saratoga Springs Varsity Boys’ Ice Hockey Team is having a successful season that they weren’t sure they were going to get in the first place.

The Blue Streaks have 10 regular season games, and their current record is 5-3. This year, the league is split into a North and South Division, with teams playing each other twice within their division. The Blue Streaks are in the North Division, and started their season in the beginning of February. Unlike other winter sports, ice hockey will still have playoff games at the end of the season. The quarterfinals start on March 10 and the finals will be held on March 13. 

The reason behind the different divisional format is that the state allowed high-risk sports to resume, but left the decision up to the counties. The northern counties opened up sooner than southern counties and the Albany region. Therefore, the division split so they could start practicing and playing as soon as possible, just when they had started to lose hope of having a season at all.

“Just getting the season started was a challenge,” said Tim Horst, the Saratoga Springs Varsity Boys’ Ice Hockey Coach. “Once we got into our season, it gave us great perspective on what challenges are – what we can control and what we can’t.” 

The team has great offensive ability and control of the puck. Their team defense is also strong. The four senior captains –Will Detora (forward, #4), Devon Wormley (forward, #10), Andrew Blanchard (forward, #7), Griffin Sarver (defense, #11) – are great leaders and contributors to the success this season. In total, there are 13 seniors on the team, and they are all grateful to be out on the ice.

“It made for allowing us to have a season even better, because those would have been 13 players that wouldn’t have been allowed to play their final season of high school hockey,” said Coach Horst. 

The team has had two identical 3-0 shutout wins so far this season – one against the Mohawks, a combination team of Niskayuna and Schenectady, and the other against Shenendehowa. Coach Horst was able to list several things the team did well to win those games. 

“I think we did a good job of playing team defense and keeping the other team to the outside, not allowing any odd-man rushes or Grade A scoring chances,” said Coach Horst. “Also, our goal tending did a great job of making the first save and not giving up any rebound or second or third opportunities.”

The Saratoga Springs Varsity Boy’s Ice Hockey Team also had a 5-2 win over BHBL/BS (Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake/Ballston Spa) on senior night this past Friday, Feb. 26. Senior night was the only game fans (just parents) were allowed at this season. All other games have been, or will be, livestreamed instead on the school district’s YouTube Channel. But that doesn’t compare to actually having their fans in the stands. 

“We have really good fans. Our school and our community supports our team really well,” said Coach Horst. “We miss our fans, and can’t wait for them to come back.”

Thursday, 25 February 2021 17:14

The Season Begins: Spa Catholic Basketball


SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Varsity Boys’ Basketball Team at Saratoga Central Catholic School is adjusting to a new coach and playing basketball during a pandemic. 

Bill Haskell, Head Coach of the Varsity Boys’ Basketball Team at Saratoga Central Catholic School, has been coaching for 41 years, with most of his career spent as head coach at SUNY Adirondack. When he retired, he was asked to come help the program, and this is his first year as head coach at Saratoga Central Catholic School. According to Coach Haskell, this season has been the most difficult in all of his 41 seasons. However, his assistant coach, Bill Luciano, and the JV boys’ coach, Daniel Kumlander, along with the boys on the team, have made the transition and COVID adjustments easier to handle. 

The team’s season started Feb. 1 after getting clearance from the Saratoga County Department of Health, and within six days they had their first game. They have a 14-game schedule within the makeshift league formed by Saratoga County, and are finished playing by March 13. They play Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Coming up this weekend (Friday, Feb. 26 and Saturday, Feb. 27) is a tough series with Mechanicville, one of the top teams on their schedule.

The team is fairly young, but has varsity experience, with three seniors, one sophomore, and some juniors who played on varsity last year as sophomores. The team’s leading scorers are senior forward Hayden Day (#14), junior guard Robbie Bolen III (#3), and junior guard Anthony Barile (#5). Day, who is also the team’s leading rebounder, and senior forward Aiden Lambert (#24), a rebounder and 3-point shooter, are team captains who contribute greatly and keep the team’s spirits high in their leadership positions. 

Versatility is the team’s greatest advantage, as they have players skilled at multiple positions and their offensive skills are spread out amongst the team. As well, based on percentages, their 3-point shooting is strong. The team is working on Coach Haskell’s slower style of play and how to overcome being outmatched physically.

“The formula we try to follow is our shooting percentage, offensively, and defensively, to rebound and have fewer turnovers than the other team,” said Coach Haskell. “That overcomes the discrepancy in size.” 

Other new challenges for the coach and the team include: being able to hear each other from opposite sides of the court through their masks, drawing up plays on the whiteboard while being socially distant at time outs, dealing with mental and physical fatigue from back-to-back games, and also the lack of fans in the bleachers.

“I tell my guys, you have to create your own energy, because the way that you warm up and the way that you prepare for the game makes up for the lack of fans,” said Coach Haskell. “I think they are just so thrilled to be out there playing that it doesn’t matter if there are people watching or not.”

However, he does believe that these games are providing a sense of normalcy during the pandemic. And, although there are no sectional or state championships at the end of the season, he still expects his team to put in the effort and enthusiasm. 

“I never talk to our team about winning,” said Coach Haskell. “I always feel that if you execute offensively, play together, communicate, really work hard on defense, battle on the boards, and do all the right things, then you have a chance at the end of the game [to win].”

You can check out the team’s website for their schedule, record and stats, player profiles, and more at www.sccbasketball.com.


SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Saratoga Central Catholic School Varsity Girls’ Basketball Team is proving that they can adapt to this season’s adverse conditions.

The team’s season started on Feb.12 and ends on March 13, with only a week of full-contact practice before they had their first game. They have a 14-game schedule, and are playing three games a week – Tuesdays and back-to-back home and away games on Friday and Saturday. The Varsity Girls’ Basketball Coach, Regan McFerran, believes that their biggest challenge so far this year has been the limited time frame to prepare for games. 

The girls’ program has also seen some limitations with numbers, and they have no JV team this year. 

Their roster includes six varsity returners (four seniors and two juniors), as well as three more juniors, sophomore, and freshmen. They have six strong starters, and strong players coming off the bench. Junior guard Ashley Upson (#4) is their leading scorer, and senior forward Molly O’Reilly (#30) brings great defensive energy. As a team, their strengths are defense, and something else you can’t necessarily teach in practice. 

“Our greatest strength with these girls is their resilience,” said Coach McFerran. “They are a group that is highly motivated, and their work ethic is unbelievable.”

Per a decision made by Section 2, there are no spectators allowed at the game, resulting in an unfamiliar gym atmosphere that might be hard to overcome for some teams – but not for these varsity girls.

“With a sport like basketball, energy in the gym is something you look forward to, something that can play a role in a close and competitive game,” said Coach McFerran. “The girls have done a great job of providing their own energy and understanding that they have to bring it every single day for themselves and their teammates.”

Even with no sectional or state championships this year either, the team is still looking on the brighter side of this season. 

“These girls are happy to be here and to be playing a season they were not sure they were going to get,” said Coach McFerran. “So, my biggest expectation for them, and our biggest emphasis has been, don’t take these games for granted…leave it all out on the court and get better every day.”

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