(July 21, 2015) -- Chris Culnan has a checklist in mind at the start of every sports season.
"My three goals have never changed," he said recently. "I want to make sure every kid has a good experience, be sure we're producing good student-athletes and compete for sectional championships.
"Everyone here shares those goals. When we're all working towards them, we're in great shape."
Culnan's eighth year as athletic director at Shenendehowa coincided with the school's most successful showing in recent memory. As a result, the Plainsmen scored points in 11 of a possible 28 sports in the just-concluded year to run away with the overall championship in the seventh annual NYSSWA Kerr Cup All-Sport Championship.
The Kerr Cup is named in honor Neil Kerr, the retired Post-Standard sportswriter who has been the driving force behind the New York State Sportswriters Association for more than four decades. It includes all NYSPHSAA members in a competition in 28 sports.
Shenendehowa finished with 57.17 points to easily outdistance Victor (44.5) and Bronxville (43.17). The winning margin of 12.67 points was more than the combined winning margin of all the champions in the first six years of the competition.
For good measure, Shenendehowa also has been recognized as a school of distinction by the NYSPHSAA for the second straight year for the combined academic performance of its athletes.
Culnan didn't need an award to tell him what kind of year it was. There was a great vibe in the hallways virtually the whole way. "The school spirit was at an all-time high and the support of the community was incredible," he said.
It started in the fall when the boys soccer, boys cross country and girls volleyball teams won sectional championships. The cross country team finished second at the state meet, and the other two squads plus football went to the NYSPHSAA final fours.
"A lot of people would have looked at that and maybe thought that was a good enough year right there," said Culnan, who taught at CBA for six years and then was the boys basketball coach and an administrator at Rensselaer for four years before arriving at Shenendehowa. "But the next thing you know, (boys) basketball, wrestling and skiing are winning, too. It really is a fantastic feeling ... exciting."
Girls track and softball capped the year with Shen's eighth and ninth Section 2 titles, but boys basketball proved to be the sole New York State Public High School Athletic Association champion and also put the school in a rare position -- that of underdog, as Section 2's largest school began the season unranked in New York.
"We're a large school district and we're not going to apologize for it," Culnan said. "We've always embraced the idea it's hard work, but the players the staff and the coaches are going to work at reaching their maximum potential."
Throw in consistent support and enthusiasm from the superintendent and school board, and it's easy to understand why Culnan is loving his job.
"Athletics is part of the total educational process," he said. "Whether it's sports, academics or the arts, the district is quick to celebrate the accomplishments and promote the good being done. That's a great formula."
Breaking down more numbers
Shenendehowa's best previous finishes in the overall scoring had been 10th last year and 11th in 2012. The