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Saturday, May 26, 2019: A little adversity can go a long way toward succeeding

   Leading off today: Saturday's action in New York high school sports included two stories about young athletes who kept following their dreams after setbacks and continued working toward their goals. It's a reminder to many of us that there's value in hard work and optimism.

   First up is the story of Guilderland baseball player Dylan Jones, the hero of a 5-0 win Saturday over Colonie in the Section 2 Class AA quarterfinals. Jones allowed six hits and four walks but the senior right-hander consistently worked his way out of jams.

   Not bad for a guy who got cut during varsity tryouts a year ago and had no other option to play because Guilderland does not allow juniors to participate on the junior varsity.

   "The kid didn't even make the team last year," Guilderland coach Doug LaValley said. "It says so much about him. He came back and wanted it."

   Jones became a workout warrior of sorts, taking every opportunity to get so much better that LaValley would have no choice but to keep him on the team this spring.

   "He did winter workouts with us and was always in the weight room. He did more than he had to," LaValley said. "For all the people that choose to (quit), here is a young man that shows what character is all about. He has a lot of character.

   "I get choked up thinking about it. I love the kid. He has done everything I have asked of him."

   Meanwhile at the other end of the state, Jake Kaminski was wiping out memories of a discouraging end to the previous year's track and field season. After qualifying for the NYSPHSAA indoor track and field championships last season, the wheels fell off for the Cheektowaga high jumper in the spring.

   We won neither his league championship nor the Section 6 title and did not qualify for the outdoor state meet.

   He decided there was no way he was letting that happen again. Though he narrowly missed the medal platform, Kaminski did get back to the 2019 state meet, where he cleared 6-foot-4. That was the first indication that two-a-day summer workouts had the desired affect on his strength and stamina.

   And on Saturday he used a combination of skill and luck to reach literal and figurative new heights, breaking a 33-year-old school record by clearing 6-7 during the ECIC meet in Hamburg.

   "My approach was a little off," said Kaminski, who also won the triple jump and ran a leg on the championship 1,600 relay. "I was a little shocked when I jumped because I knew my approach was off. I just barely made it. The bar bounced up off the standard and landed back on."

   Kaminski's all-around effort was pivotal in Cheektowaga piling up 125.5 points to win the small-schools title.

   More baseball: Two days after Joey Vetrano was named the state's player of the year by Gatorade, the Lakeland junior lefty threw a one-hitter as the Hornets beat Nyack 3-0 in the Section 1 Class A semifinals.

   Vetrano retired the last 18 batters he faced to improve to 9-0 and help his team win its 21st game in a row. Vetrano has not allowed a run in his last four outings and has allowed just one earned run since the opener on March 26.

   "I was focused," Vetrano said. "It was a great accomplishment. I was really honored to get it, but between those white lines I'm focused."


   A full dance card: Emily Gresham had a busy couple of days last week -- and her life could be even more chaotic this week.

   On Tuesday, the Chenango Forks sophomore competed in the Section 4 girls golf championships and carded an 80 at Soaring Eagles Golf Course in Horseheads to finish second.

   On Wednesday, she was with her lacrosse teammates during a 13-12 victory over Whitney Point in overtime in the Section 4 Class D championship game.


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  •    That win advanced Chenango Forks to the first round of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association tournament in Vestal on Thursday night.

       That will be followed by Friday's practice round at Deerfield Golf and Country Club in Brockport. The 26-hole NYSPHSAA girls golf tournament begins Saturday.

       Battling addiction: Suffolk County is expanding its pilot program and will be funding widespread training to help coaches handle athletes struggling with addiction to non-performance enhancing drugs.

       The program started in three school districts in 2018, with more than 60 varsity and JV coaches trained in the 75-minute curriculum developed by Stony Brook University's Center for Prevention and Outreach.

       The expanded program is being funded with by Suffolk County's operating budget to avoid burdening school budgets.

       "For many athletes, their relationship with a coach is based on respect and trust and, in many cases it may be the most influential relationship they have with an adult," Suffolk County majority leader Kara Hahn said. "This unique place in a player's life provides the coach with an unparalleled opportunity to understand the circumstances the athlete is facing and provide meaningful guidance and support."

       Going old school: Chris Metcalf of the Batavia Daily News served up a good read last week about "old-school" coaches, not so much a dying breed as one being murdered by parents overstepping their bounds.

       He wrote:

       "There's nothing more genuine than a player/coach relationship. It's a real connection. Sometimes it's not always seen on game nights. Instead, it could be preached in practice on a Thursday night well after the kids have gone home from school. An old school coach doesn't have a fixed time table on when he preaches accountability, he does it by instinct.

       "What many of these kids do today when they get home from their coach being tough on them is immediately tell both mom and dad how much they dislike their coach always being 'tough' on them. What these kids don't seem to get from that same mom and dad is telling their kid to 'listen to your coach and respect your coach.'

       "Unfortunately, they don't get that same type of support many of us used to get from our parents back in the day.

       "Remember this is a 'me' and it's all about 'me' society we live in today.

       "Coaches aren't getting the support from the kids' homes like they used to.

       "I remember complaining one time to my dad that my coach was really hard on me. 'He yells at me more than the others,' I said.    "His response, 'Don't worry about him being hard on you, worry about him when he stops being hard.'"

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