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Monday, July 1, 2019: Girls basketball coach is the latest North Salem departure

   Leading off today: It's not entirely clear what's happening at North Salem, but whatever it is certainly isn't good.

   Less than an hour after ousted AD and boys basketball coach Henry Sassone said the district has to "develop a more nurturing, supporting atmosphere so that coaches want to come and stay at North Salem," girls basketball head coach Eric Buzzetto resigned in light of an unmistakable signal that he was also about to be let go.

   "I have created many great relationships over the years with my players and fellow coaches and I will never forget them," Buzzetto, who had coached for a decade, wrote in his resignation letter. "I just feel at this point North Salem athletics is going in a direction that I don't want to be a part of."

   Buzzetto was informed by principal Vince DiGrandi prior to the start of a Monday morning school board meeting that his re-appointment item was removed from the agenda.

   Said Buzzetto: "In my 10 years, I don't have one blemish, no letters in my file -- nothing at all. It's almost like if you're friends with Henry Sassone, you're not going to last here at North Salem.”    The special school board meeting was dominated by community members voicing support for Sassone, who was informed last month that Superintendent Kenneth Freeston's recommendation to reappoint him has been rejected by the board.

   The district has posted a job opening for an interim athletic director and the board did not reappoint the 400-game winner as the boys basketball coach Monday.

   The school board allowed Sassone's supporters to speak at the start of the meeting, but members did not respond to comments or explain why Sassone is being retained only as a physical education teacher. However, The district's legal counsel told the North Salem News after the meeting that Sassone does not hold the required administrative certification to be reappointed as AD.

   Marc Miller, who played on the Sassone's 2008 Section 1 championship team, quoted a tweet from the week of Sassone's 2018 induction into the New York State Basketball Hall of Fame in which his former coach was described as a "class act" and "one of the hardest working, most humble coaches" that the Twitter commentator knew.

   Miller, who coaches modified softball in the district, then addressed DiGrandi. "Principal DiGrandi, do you happen to know who that tweeter was?" Miller asked, to no response. "I'll take by your silence you know that it was you."

   The tweet sent by DiGrandi was deleted within the last week.

   A pleasant surprise: Rochester native Dr. Saadiq El-Amin pledged $1,000 to each of the 60 members of the University Prep graduating class at Thursday's commencement ceremony.


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   The Atlanta orthopaedic surgeon was a track and field standout at Rochester Wilson Magnet and Penfield during his scholastic career.

   "Your principal doesn't know this, the board doesn't know this," El-Amin told the graduates. "We are kind of related as kindred spirits because my mentor was on the founding board of this school, he helped me when I was small. So, in his honor today -- Dr. El-Amin Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Institute is going to donate $1,000 to each and every one of you."

   A classy gesture: Jon Schwind never got to play in the majors by the time his pro baseball playing days ended two seasons ago, but he's about to get a role in next week's MLB All-Star Game courtesy of a grateful former teammate.

   Schwind, an all-state player for Hilton in 2007 and 2008, will be the hand-picked pitcher for Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Josh Bell during the Home Run Derby on July 8 at Progressive Field in Cleveland.

   Bell and Schwind were roommates for two years while in the Pirates system. Schwind, 29, is an assistant hitting instructor with Pittsburgh's International League affiliate in Indianapolis.

   Sportsmanship awards: The New York State Public High School Athletic Association has selected Columbia and Arlington high schools as its winners of the 2018-19 Sportsmanship Promotion program.

   The award is presented to schools that develop proactive approaches in sportsmanship, and winners were selected from 45 schools chosen by their respective sections as plaque winners.

   Columbia was cited for the seventh consecutive year. After another Section 2 school was the target of racial insults at a girls soccer game, Columbia's team greeted them with flowers and hugs two nights later. This episode was featured in the monthly magazine published by the National Federation of High School Associations.

   Arlington's Student Athletic Council, comprised of one representative from each varsity team, promotes sportsmanship and provides suggestions to the athletic department on improving sportsmanship throughout the school.

   Speaking of awards: My weekly column for the Press & Sun-Bulletin wraps up 2018-19 by handing out the year-end awards for high school sports.

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