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Tuesday, March 28, 2017: Four small schools forced to drop varsity baseball

   Leading off today: It's time to catch up on a few days of news, notes and quotes to wrap up the winter season and head into spring sports in New York.

   Teams dropping like fly balls: Four Northern Athletic Conference programs will not field Section 10 varsity baseball teams this spring do to a shortage of players.

   Lisbon, Hermon-DeKalb, Clifton-Fine and Salmon River will not compete in the sport this spring, Section 10 Athletic Coordinator Carl Normandin told The Daily Times over the weekend. Salmon River will field a JV team, while the other three will maintain modified programs.

   Lisbon (with Canton), Hermon-DeKalb (Edwards-Knox) and Clifton-Fine (Harrisville) have made arrangements with nearby schools that will allow their varsity candidates to play.

   Bad news for M-W hockey: Official word went out to Monroe-Woodbury hockey players and their families last night that the program is on the chopping block as the administration prepares its annual budget.

   M-W has been the only Section 9 school playing the sport for the past several seasons.

   In part, the email notification from Superintendent Elsie Rodriguez read:

   "As part of the district annual budget planning process, district leadership reviews all interscholastic offerings to ensure we are maximizing student participation in a fiscally responsible manner. We believe that involving the greatest number of students in interscholastic sports is very important.

   "In my role as superintendent of schools, I often have to make difficult choices. The decision to eliminate the Monroe-Woodbury Varsity ice hockey team certainly falls into this category.

   "For the past six years, Monroe-Woodbury has been the only Orange County public schools district to maintain an ice hockey team in Section IX. As a result, the M-W team must travel outside the region to compete. Our intent was to maintain the team until other Orange County districts reinstated their hockey programs. We have since learned that these districts are developing other program offerings rather than bring back hockey, and Monroe-Woodbury is now looking to do the same."

   M-W's departure would leave the state tournament with only eight hockey-playing sections. If that's the case -- and with Section 7 having no Division I programs -- it would seem likely that an at-large team (rotated among the various sections) would be added to the tournament in a fashion similar to what's been done for the Division II quarterfinals the past three seasons.

   Coming home: Transfers related to families moving are commonplace, but this story has a bit of a twist.

   Hannah Smithers played varsity softball for General Brown as an eighth-grader and played two years for the Lions before transferring to Lyme when her family moved. She was Lyme's starting catcher as a sophomore and junior, but found herself in limbo after Lyme administrators issued a warning last June that there would probably not be enough upperclassmen available to field a team this spring -- in fact, she probably would have been the only senior on the roster.

   "I planned on not playing softball because I just didn't think another school would take me, but I really thought about it, and then we started pushing for other schools to take me on," Smithers said.

   With the help of Lyme administrators, the family started looking for nearby school districts willing and able to let her play in a combined-schools agreement.

   While she'll continue attending Lyme, Smithers is returning to the General Brown program for her final season.

   Football commitment: Archbishop Stepinac football standout Trill Williams, who committed to Rutgers and the quickly re-opened his recruitment earlier this year, says he will enroll at Syracuse University in 2018.

   The 6-foot-2 cornerback/running back is projected as a defender in college.

   Following up: I hadn't been making the trip to very many Federation basketball tournaments in no small part because I didn't feel like wandering that far down the

  


RoadToGlensFalls.com

Thruway from Rochester on back-to-back weekends.

   But with the NYSPHSAA beginning a three-year run in Binghamton for the boys final fours earlier in the month and Glens Falls taking back ownership of the tournament of champions, I had a reason to attend both events. That allowed me to once again attend the New York State Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which has become one of my favorite fixtures on the calendar.

   A dozen new members were enshrined (see the list here), with many handing out thank yous to the people most influential in their athletic careers. As usual, there were funny stories told as well -- and none was funnier than the tale spun by Ossining girls coach Dan Ricci, whose team won four straight NYSPHSAA drowns beginning in 2013:

   "A lot of times when you come home with your state championship you get the police escort and fire trucks and all that stuff," Ricci said. "So, the state championship team is coming home -- fire trucks, police cars -- and there's a kid in front of us crying.

   "I say to the kid, "What are you crying about? We just won a state championship.' The kid says, 'Coach, it's the best day of my life.'"

   "I say, 'What do you mean?'

   "He says, 'We just won a state championship and the school's burning down!'"

   A few of the better one-liners from the ceremony, held at the Glens Falls Civic Center ahead of the final day of the Federation tournament:

   Former South Jefferson coach Pat Bassett: "I coached four or five games on that court down there and I'm more nervous now."

   Retired North Rockland girls coach Rich Korn: "It's important to have a family that loves you whether you win or lose. Unfortunately, neither of my athletic directors saw that as part of their job description."

   It should be noted that Korn thanked those ADs a few moments later as he wrapped up his remarks.

   Tom Miller, who won more than 400 games at Section 10 schools: "I was blessed to have coached at three schools. I was smart enough to stay one step ahead of the posse."

   Alfred and Cortland college coach Jeannette Mosher, who spoke midway through the ceremony, got the day's second-biggest laugh: "I think I was put in the middle for a little estrogen in between all the testosterone."

   Joe Murphy, the longtime floor supervisor at the Glens Falls arena: "I'm here to demonstrate it's OK for a grown man to cry in public ... and I'll be doing just that shortly."


  
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