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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, March 2, 2006


B-K-W boys' basketball

By Tim Matteson

BERNE — The season came to an end for the Berne-Knox-Westerlo boys’ basketball team last Tuesday. But Coach Andy Wright is already looking ahead to next year.

The Bulldogs lost to Hoosick Falls, 71-50, The Bulldogs trailed the whole game but fought hard.

"The score was not indicative of what happened," Wright said. "In the game, we were down by 17 points and we chipped it away to five with the press. No doubt about it they led the whole game. But we showed real heart."

The Bulldogs were going up against an experienced Hoosick Falls team.

"We’ve started two sophomores all year," Wright said. "And they are the second and third leading scorers on the team. Josh Skinner shot 35 three-pointers and I think he’s in the top 50 in the section. He is one of the top three-point shooters out of the thousand or so players in the area. The numbers don’t lie."

Skinner led the Bulldogs with 16 points against Hoosick Falls.

Wright is looking forward to next season when he gets to bring up some players from a successful junior-varsity team.

"We had a good j.v. program," the coach said. "The point guard is a varsity point guard and he’ll be starting next year. We just need to develop a post player. We need to fill the shoes of Andrew Elderd and Rick Ragone."

Elderd and Ragone are seniors who provided a lot of size inside for BKW the past couple of seasons.

The loss of those two players will change the way the Bulldogs will play next season.

‘We’ll run and gun’

"We’ll be out and running," Wright said. "We’ll run and gun and get up and down the court. We’ll press and play man-to-man. For three years, we’ve played zone," he said of the defensive strategy. "It’ll be the first year, I’ll be able to play man. It’s a great feeling for a coach to say that man-to-man we are better than the opponent."

The Bulldogs will also lose Tom Houck to graduation. Houck scored 13 points in last Tuesday’s game.

"Tom Houck is the kind of athlete that is tough to replace," Wright said. "His jumping ability and the way he could drive to the basket, we need to get that out of other kids. He had a lot of experience playing. We’ll miss Tom, Andrew, and Rick."

As far as the past season, Wright thought the Bulldogs could have been better than their 7-11 regular-season record.

"I was hoping to be a couple of games better," Wright said. "But we had the same record as last year. There were two or three games we should’ve won. But other than that, we’re heading in the right direction.

"The program has been put in place," Wright added. "We definitely turned this into a program. The kids will play in summer leagues and Amateur Athletic Union in the spring. Basketball is on the rise up here."

And the kids coming up have spent a lot of time playing basketball with each other.

"They’ve played together enough and they are friends off the court," Wright said. "We have four starters returning and three of them were starters. We have two starting positions open and we’ll bring up four or five players that have significant experience and minutes and a lot of time on the court. We have an athletic class with next year’s juniors and a tall class with the sophomores. Four are over six foot."

Wright said that having a freshmen team has also helped the program.

"They play a ninth-grade schedule and play 14 games," the coach said. "That gives them a lot of playing experience for the j.v."

Wright is confident that his team will challenge for a top spot in the Western Athletic Conference next year.

"Skinner and Lounsbury can play," Wright said. "And Rich Geist is tough. We have two kids with two more years and they have been playing varsity minutes. We had eight wins this year and we are capable of more good things.

"We are heading in the right direction," Wright added. "I wasn’t disappointed with the season, maybe a little bummed out. These kids like basketball and they play as much as they can. They’re all friends and they like each other."


B-K-W girls' basketball

By Tim Matteson

BERNE — The upset was oh-so-close.

The Berne-Knox-Westerlo girls’ basketball team came close on Saturday night to upsetting the number-one seed, Hoosick Valley, in the Class CC Section II tournament. In the end, BKW lost by just three points, 47-44.

"We put it all on the table," said BKW Coach Tom Galvin. "We played very well. We played great defense at times. We frustrated them and we made some big shots. With 1:40 left, we were up by two points and in position to win. I’m happy with the way the kids responded.

"We were the only ones that thought we had a chance," Galvin said. "Especially with the way we’ve been playing lately."

The Bulldogs used tough defense on Hoosic Valley and, as they have all season, got a big-time performance from Cara Swain on the defensive end.

"We played them a little bit with a box and one," Galvin said of the defense. "Cara was on their best player, who had been averaging in double figures, and held her to four points. She made a three-pointer and a foul shot."

Turnovers hurt the Bulldogs in the final minutes and gave the Indians the win.

"We turned it over a couple of times," Galvin said. "They were able to extend their lead a little bit. They had a couple of steals and went up by one. We were then forced to foul. We had a chance and got a rebound and got the ball, but turned it over. C. J. [Vincent] had a desperation shot but she had three girls on her. We had our chances."

Christine Sikule led the Lady Bulldogs with 19 points. She scored 12 of them in the first half on foul shots.

"She continued to step up in the second half and C. J. finished with 13 points," Galvin said. "All four of our big players had good scoring totals. They did a nice job of keeping it interesting."

Andrea Van Dyke added eight points and Brittany Krimsky scored four for BKW.

Galvin said that his players came in confident that they could play with the number-one seed.

"We knew we were able to play with anybody," Galvin said. "They were physical kids, but we weren’t intimidated. We can play physical basketball. Andrea came back to the bench during a timeout and said that they weren’t that good; we can beat them. I had a nice feeling throughout the game that we could win. It was nice; that’s what I wanted. We showed Hoosic Valley and the rest of Section II, that, even though we struggled early, that we were a much better team."

Crushing Corinth

The Bulldogs beat Corinth, 66-37, in the first round of the sectional tournament last Wednesday.

"We did a lot of the things we needed to do," Galvin said on Wednesday. "We had great defense. When they got off the bus, we wanted them to feel like they wanted to get back on the bus. We battled hard."

BKW used pressure defense to stifle any offense Corinth tried to use. The Tomahawks only scored seven points in the first quarter and did not get a field goal until 1:37 remained in the first quarter.

The Bulldogs scored 11 points to start the game and held an 11-1 lead with 4:52 left in the first quarter.

Sikule started the game with a three-pointer and VanDyke made two foul shots.

VanDyke scored on a drive to the basket and Sikule made two free throws after she was fouled after making a steal.

Brittany Krimsky made a jump shot and BKW had a 10-point lead.

The Bulldogs led, 16-7, at the end of the first quarter and 39-17 at halftime.

BKW kept the lead by outscoring Corinth, 12-10, in the third quarter and 13-10 in the fourth.

Every player, including the ones called up from the junior varsity, got into the game.

"We wanted them to walk out of here and say ‘I can’t believe they’re 8-12," Galvin said. "We underachieved at times and we finished 8-12, but I felt we dominated. We wanted to smother them early with the press. We kept doing that and the kids busted their butts. We smothered them. They were bigger than us but I knew we had an advantage with our guard play."

Vincent led the Bulldogs with 27 points. VanDyke added 16 and Sikule scored nine. Krimisky chipped in seven points.

Playing a game like Saturday’s will only benefit his young team, Galvin said. The Bulldogs will lose only two seniors — Sikule and Sarah Furman.

"We had our end-of-the-year meeting today," Galvin said on Tuesday. "The girls were still pumped up. They realize they are talented and we have good momentum heading into next year. Nine of the 11 players are back next year. I see only good things."

But Galvin will miss the seniors.

"Christine came to play," Galvin said. "We’ll miss her offense. And I’ll miss Sarah Furman. She did not play a lot but her attitude was great. She never complained about playing time and worked hard. Both are kids that are very valuable to the program. Furman never quit and never complained. I’ll definitely be sorry to lose them. It will be a challenge to fill their spots."


Guilderland boys' basketball

By Tim Matteson

GUILDERLAND — The Guilderland boys’ basketball team put a scare into the number-one seed in the Class AA tournament.

The Dutchmen battled and actually led Christian Brothers Academy, the Big 10 league champion, before falling, 59-49.

"We played the best we could," said Guilderland Coach Ron Osinski about last Wednesday’s game. "I don’t know if we could play much better. We hit some shots. Given what we were playing against, we did the best we could."

Osinski was also pleased with the way his defense played.

"We held them under 60 points," the coach said. "Unfortunately, we didn’t score more than 50. In the third quarter, the same shots we took in the first half we missed. I don’t know if they had more intensity on defense but it played into their hands."

The Dutch were able to hang around late in the contest due to some missed free throws by CBA. But they couldn’t get under double digits in the final minute.

"They were up by 12 at the most with 50 seconds left," Osinski said. "That was due to missed free throws, but we couldn’t make a basket."

The Dutch also watched their lead evaporate in the third quarter when CBA got some good three-point shooting.

"They hit three three’s that stretched their lead," Osinski said. "They were back-breakers."

"It was scripted almost the same as two years ago," he added, referring to the Class AA title game. "They hit a couple of threes and we were down in the third quarter. We were able to come back to make a game of it. This last game, I was pleased we were up at halftime. We were in the game and in the last couple of minutes we had a chance to win it.

"They are a good team and have blown a lot of people out lately," Osinski added. "And that didn’t happen with us. The kids felt pretty good. It was an uphill climb. It wasn’t like a few years ago when we played Schenectady and were the four or five seed. We were the number-eight seed. The breaks just didn’t go our way."

Sophomore Brett Marfurt led the Dutchmen with 21 points. He also played some tough defense.

"He played well," Osinski said. "He defended [Greg] Holle and held him to 21 points and he is tough to defend."

Marfurt, along with classmate Drew Smith, will provide Osinski with a tandem that could lead the way for the next couple of years.

"Drew got eight games in," Osinski said. "I told those two and the younger kids, win or lose, they can understand what we want to do. They got good experience."

The Dutch will lose three starters to graduation — Jimmy Googas, Matt Doherty, and Luke Pagano. Googas led Guilderland in scoring this season.

"Three out of our top six players will be coming back," Osinski said. "Two of them we get for two more years. Brett was our second-leading scorer."

Osinski is pleased with the way the Dutchmen played against a top-seeded team.

"Really, we could’ve gone out there and they could’ve beaten us by 40," he said. "We competed and they knew they were in a ball game. We made them work the whole game and we had the feeling we could win the game up to the last 30 or 40 seconds. We pushed the number-one team on their own court. That’s all you can ask for."


Guilderland girls' basketball

By Tim Matteson

GUILDERLAND — The Guilderland girls’ basketball team got into trouble in Saturday night’s game against Amsterdam.

Foul trouble, that is.

The Lady Dutch saw senior Jessica Tice foul out after picking up her fifth foul in the third quarter and other players played close to the limit as Amsterdam was able to pull away for a 48-37 win in a Class AA quarterfinal game played at Shenendehowa High School.

"We were in foul trouble all game," said Guilderland Coach Frank Cacckello after the game. "I told [assistant] Coach Mazzone that the difference in the game will be who stays out of foul trouble and we didn’t today."

Guilderland led at halftime, 21-19, and the game was close until Amsterdam went on a 9-0 run that started at the four-minute mark of the stanza. Guilderland scored again on a foul shot by Tice with 1:50 left in the frame.

The Lady Dutch trailed 37-27 at the end of the period.

The foul trouble took away some of the aggressiveness on defense the Dutch have used all season — especially from Tice. Junior guard Nikki Branchini was also in foul trouble for most of the contest.

When Tice fouled out, the Dutch lost depth as another player had been sidelined earlier in the game due to an injury.

"We lost Tricia Loux, who as our backup [forward] gave us production off the bench," Cacckello said. "We had to change things and they beat us in the second half. They took advantage of our weaknesses in the second half."

Defense struggles

The Dutch defense struggled to defend Amsterdam’s inside players, Mallory Nelson and Brittany Stahura. Nelson led the Rams with 22 points and Stahura added 14.

"Tice and O’Connell had difficulty with their two post players," Cacckello said.

Guilderland saw its halftime lead evaporate as Nelson scored six consecutive points to give Amsterdam the lead. She then scored on a three-point play to give the Rams a seven-point lead, 28-21, with 5:45 left in the third quarter.

But the Lady Dutch would not go away; they got back-to-back baskets.

Kristin Pezze hit a jump shot and Megan Carroll made an inside basket to pull Guilderland within three points, with 5:04 left in the quarter.

But Stahura scored an inside basket for Amsterdam to end the Dutch’s mini run.

The Rams would score seven more points to open up a big lead.

Foul shots by Tice and Melanie Ostrowski cut the lead to 10 points at the end of the third quarter.

Guilderland was outscored, 18-6, in the third stanza.

Any comeback attempt was thwarted in the fourth quarter as the Lady Dutch were outscored, 11-10, in the frame.

"Our press took some things away from them," Cacckello said. "But it is hard to play from behind."

The Dutch were also missing one of their weapons in Tice as she sat on the bench late in the third and for all of the fourth quarter.

"She knows enough not to foul," Cacckello said. "Without her, we weren’t going at full strength at all. But what are you going to do" She is smart enough not to pick that fifth foul up. And that took away a lot of the things we need to do on offense and defense."

Tice finished the game with seven points as did Pezze. Rachel Rabbin, playing in her last high-school game, led the Lady Dutch with 12 points.

Tice and Jen Keefe are the other seniors on the team.

"I hate losing seniors," Cacckello said. "But there is a finality in basketball. I hope they take all they learned through the program. They gave a lot to the team. I see [graduated] kids at games. They had a big role on the program without a doubt."

The Dutch do return a lot of players, including Pezze who led the team in scoring this season. She scored 26 points in the Dutch’s first-round win over Schenectady. Branchini, who like Pezze is a junior, added 17 points in the 61-41 victory.

"We had a good year," Cacckello said. "We have a good nucleus coming back. I had an unbelievable time coaching these kids. The saddest things about losing is that I won’t see these kids in the gym. That’s how special they were to me."


Voorheesville boys' basketball sectionals

By Tim Matteson

VOORHEESVILLE — A bomb of a shot blew up the season for the Voorheesville boys’ basketball team.

Schuylerville’s Chris Carson hit a long-distance three-point shot at the final buzzer to hand the Blackbirds a stunning 37-35 loss in a Class B Section II semifinal at the Glens Falls Civic Center on Wednesday night.

Carson’s shot came from the three-point line that marks the distance for three-point shots used by professional basketball teams.

"He picked the right time to hit his first three-pointer of the season," said Voorheesville Coach Don Catellier. "It was a bomb. We gave them a bomb and he was able to hit it. That’s what happens sometimes.

"We knew the ball was going into his hands," Catellier said. "It was a good basketball game. Someone had to lose and, unfortunately, this time it was us. Last year was our turn and this year is was their turn."

Voorheesville beat Schuylerville by one point in last year’s sectional championship game.

Carson’s bomb put an ending to what wasn’t a great performance by the Blackbirds. They threw the ball away many times, especially in the early part of the contest.

"We killed ourselves," Catellier said. "We beat ourselves early. We didn’t do what we wanted to do and the game came down to the last second and then anything can happen."

The Blackbirds found themselves down in a hole in the first quarter. They trailed, 11-1, with 2:16 left in the opening stanza and 11-3 at the end of the quarter after Andy Catellier made a jump shot.

Flying Birds

But Voorheesville came flying back in the second quarter.

The Birds got defensive and held the Black Horses to four points in the second frame and scored nine of their own to just trail by three points, 15-12, at halftime.

The rest of the game was a nip-and-tuck affair all the way until the final horn sounded.

Voorheesville took its first lead of the game when Greg Klopfer hit a floater in the lane with three seconds left in the third period.

The basket sent the Birds into the final stanza with a 28-27 lead.

But Schuylerville regained the lead on a jump shot by Carson and later added a jumper by Blake Thomas, who will play football at Cornell University in the fall.

Voorheesville came back with three straight points — a foul shot by Evan Christner and an inside basket by Nick Duncan that tied the game, 31-31.

Again, Carson, a junior, came up big, hitting a jump shot that gave the Black Horses the lead with 5:03 left.

Schuylerville got a foul shot from Ryan Denisoff but Voorheesville answered with a turnaround jump shot by Duncan that made the score 34-33 with 1:58 left in the contest.

Both teams struggled to score until Duncan scored an inside basket with 19 seconds left to give the Birds the lead, 35-34.

Schuylerville got the ball back and called a timeout with 13 seconds left. Then the Black Horses couldn’t get a shot but the ball was knocked out of bounds on the baseline by a Voorheesville player.

On the ensuing in-bounds play, Carson went off a couple of screens, got the pass from Thomas, and fired up his shot that sent the Schuylerville players into joy and the Voorheesville players into dejection.

Carson led all scorers with 19 points. Dan Quirk added seven for the Black Horses.

Voorheesville was led by Duncan’s 12 points. Christner scored eight points and Andy Catellier added seven points. Klopfer finished his career with six points.

Handling Hudson

Andy Catellier struggled all day shooting the basketball, but the one shot he made was the biggest of the game.

Catellier hit a three-pointer with 2:57 left in the contest to propel the Birds on a late push to beat Hudson, 52-46, in a Class B quarterfinal game on Saturday at Hudson Valley Community College.

Catellier’s shot broke a 43-43 tie and the Blackbirds outscored the Blue Hawks, 6-3, in the final two minutes to hold on for the win.

"I thought we played well at the end," said Coach Catellier after the game. "We haven’t played in a week-and-a-half and it showed. Hudson is a good team. They had a four-game winning streak. They played hard."

Catellier said that the quickness the Hudson players had provided a tough match-up for his team.

"They were a quick little team," Catellier said after Saturday’s game. "Everyone battles us. We couldn’t do anything right for a while. But Evan stepped up tonight. He was huge."

Voorheesville sophomore Evan Christner had a big game inside for the Birds. He led the team with 18 points.

Christner also hit two big free throws with 23 seconds left that helped seal the win.

"I told him that he is no longer a sophomore," Catellier said. "He came to play and I’m happy for him."

Duncan scored 15 points for the Blackbirds and Klopfer added nine.

Wednesday’s loss ends the careers of three seniors who have started on the varsity for three years. Duncan, Klofer, and Catellier have led the team for the year and helped the Birds reach the Class B state semifinals last year.

"It’s a good group of seniors," Coach Catellier said. "They’ll be hard to replace. They went 39-8 over two years and they took the team to the state semifinals and made the [sectional] semis this year.

"The younger guys will have a lot to live up to and big shoes to fill," Catellier added. "But we will be back this year."

Rob Bareis, Mike Hopper, and Jake Norris are the other seniors on the team.

Despite the way the season ended, Coach Catellier is happy with the season.

"I’m very pleased," he said. "We won the Colonial Council for the first time in 23 years. The kids have a lot to be proud of."


Voorheesville girls' basketball

By Tim Matteson

VOORHEESVILLE — A rough and unexpected season for the Voorheesville girls’ basketball team came to an end last week.

The traditional small-school powerhouse finished the season with just two wins after leaving in the first round of the Class B Section II playoffs. Voorheesville lost to Hudson, 62-48, last Tuesday.

In the past decade, the Blackbirds have always made it at least to the sectional finals.

"In the Hudson game, we spotted them an 11-0 early lead," Voorheesville Coach John McClement said on Friday. "We were even the rest of the game. We were able to cut it to four but we didn’t get any closer. In the last few minutes of the game, they were able to get some easy transition baskets.

"The slow start killed us. We thought we had a good draw. We would play at Hudson, and Cohoes we would’ve played at Cohoes tonight and then at Schuylerville," he said on Friday. "Last time we played Cohoes, it was a one-point game. I thought we had a good draw and had a shot at the semifinals."

A strong run in the sectionals would have overshadowed a difficult season on the court for the Lady Blackbirds; it seemed to get worse after a tough loss to Holy Names at the midway point.

"I think the real turning point for us was the second Holy Names game," McClement said. "It was a one-point game, but we got beat because of an official’s call. That call killed us. It was tough and hard to recover and to overcome from that loss. If we win that game, it’s a different second half. It was a big blow."

Holy Names won the game on a last-second foul shot.

The Blackbirds also had to deal with injuries and illness during the season. They lost leading scorer Brigit Feeney.

"We lost Brigit in our next game due to injury," McClement said. "It was a lot to overcome. But I give the kids credit; they never got negative. It could’ve easily gone the other way. The kids stayed positive and continued to work."

The bad luck was something the Voorheesville team hasn’t seen in a number of years.

"We saw a lot of adversity in one season," McClement said. "In 12 years, we’ve been fortunate not to have seen a lot of adversity."

Call to varsity

McClement did get the opportunity to bring up some junior-varsity players, though maybe a little earlier than he would have liked. The younger players got a lot of experience.

Ninth-grader Casey Becerra, and sophomores Courtney Bourque and Erika Schultz got the call to the varsity.

"When we lost Brigit in the Lansingburgh game, we were down to seven healthy players," McClement said. "We had some girls that had some illness and weren’t at 100 percent.

"The j.v. had a wonderful year. They had the best record in the Colonial Council. We brought some kids up and they had a tremendous opportunity. They took tremendous advantage of it.

"The future is bright. The kids saw both ends of the spectrum. They were successful on the floor and, when they moved up to the varsity, they certainly stayed positive.

"They came in and fit right in with the kids that were already there. The same with the kids we brought up for sectionals. The last week, we had a great week of practice."

The team will lose three seniors in Feeney, Amanda Markert, and Laura Haskell. Feeney and Markert were on the team as sophomores.

"Amanda played up that whole season," McClement said. "And Brigit was up for the playoffs when we lost in the regional final to South Jefferson. That connection remains. They understand it and know what it was that got us there. All the positives that happen for them, this is not the way they wanted to finish their senior years."

McClement said the seniors did not get down and became leaders to the younger players.

"When we brought the younger kids up, they made them feel comfortable," McClement said. "They accepted them. They were very positive having to deal with adversity."

Though the season has ended for the three seniors, the next season has already begun for the younger players.

"Next year has already started," McClement said. "Most will be playing in the spring and AAU [ Amateur Athletic Union] and stuff like that. We’ll have big numbers up from the j.v."

Despite the down year, McClement said that things won’t change for his team as it prepares for next year’s campaign just as it didn’t change this year.

"They certainly came in with high expectations," McClement said. "This is Voorheesville; we didn’t drop expectations because we weren’t successful. We are looking forward to the kids that came up after the ’Burgh game and ended up with eight varsity games to teach them the pace. It’s quicker and more physical.

"More or less, they got a jump on it," McClement added. "We had enough talent to be successful. We had some tough breaks, but you make your luck. We worked hard; it just didn’t always work out."


A pair of good skates perform and share their love of the sport

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

LAKE PLACID — For Barbara Kelly and Maggie Atkins, skating is like breathing — essential yet natural. They’ll do it to the end.

The pair met when Kelly, 79, a Lake Placid native, formed a coffee club. Atkins, 74, an Englishwoman who had followed her daughter to the United States, joined.

They hit it off and were soon skating and performing together.

Their performances have included skating to "Together" from Gypsy, dressed in dramatic black. "What we do, we’ll do it together," the ladies sang a reprise.

Some of their numbers have been humorous. One featured skating with a walker to the tune of "The Old Gray Mare."

Saturday, they were lunching at the Olympic arena in the center of Lake Placid as they planned awards ceremonies for winning skaters in the Empire State Games.

All around them, the place was abuzz, not just with talk of the state competitions but of the Olympic competitions in Turin, Italy. Updated computer reports were posted on a board at the complex, which people clustered about to read results.

Atkins and Kelly are acquainted with many world-famous skaters who have performed on the ice in Lake Placid.

About a tenth of the United States team competing in Italy for this Olympics, 21 American athletes, had competed in the Empire State Games, according to Fred Smith, director of the games.

Kelly and Atkins were planning grand ceremonies for Saturday night and Sunday at noon in the rink built for the 1980 Olympics.

"Maggie is first assistant," said Kelly. "We have a podium and carpets. I do the scripts and all that junk," she said, pulling the scripts from her bag as she spoke.

She works on organizing a half-dozen large skating events each year.

"It gives us a chance to interface with a lot of people," said Kelly. "And it’s a sport we love."

She went on to say, "We skate for free since we’re over 70." They are currently the only two to take advantage of the offer, she said.

The pair shared their opinions on the recent Olympic figure-skating competition.

"We knew the Japanese girl was by far the best," Kelly said of gold medalist Shizuka Arakawa "Most skaters don’t have any musicality."

"They don’t go by the phrase and beat," agreed Atkins. "The difference between skating and really good skating is moving with the music."

The Russian skaters have a tradition of being trained with music, said Kelly, and therefore do well.

"Musicality makes the difference," said Kelly. "That’s why we do well."

Placid life

While the pair agree about skating to the point where they can finish each other’s sentences, they were raised on different sides of the ocean in different worlds.

Kelly’s roots in Lake Placid are deep.

Her father was a golf pro and both of her parents were fishing guides. Her grandparents were Lake Placid natives, too.

Kelly, née Tyrell, looked out the window of the Olympic arena Saturday at the school fronted by a skating oval, ringed by flags from around the world.

"I went to kindergarten there and graduated on those steps," Kelly said, gesturing to the school.

Her education propelled her to college in Troy, at Russell Sage, where she met her husband, an RPI engineer. The couple raised a family of five children while living in Connecticut and Colorado.

"My husband used to joke that we had eight children but threw three away because they couldn’t sing a 440A," she said, explaining that was the note to which orchestras tune.

Kelly had both the basics of skating and singing instilled in her during her school years in Lake Placid.

"Everybody could skate for two dollars a year," she said.

She also participated in the pomp and ceremony of Lake Placid’s winter festival, serving on the royal court in the 1940’s, the year Perry Como was king. The hallway of the arena is lined with pictures of the royalty, stretching through the decades.

Kelly’s skating talents lay dormant in her adult life, however, until she was in her fifties.

"I went on the ice one time for fun and was asked to try out for the precision team," recalled Kelly. She made the team and then went on to compete successfully in the Adult Nationals.

In 2004, the year Kelly turned 76, she won first place in the Adult Nationals, skating to a number composed by her son, musician Joe Kelly, to the tune of "Seventy-six Trombones."

Her song was "Seventy-six Old Bones" and involved "rows and rows of pros dressed to kill as for a special date."

Yearning to dance

Atkins, from her earliest years, longed to be a dancer.

"My mother was on the stage — way, way back," she said. "The shows she did weren’t exactly burlesque,"

"Was it vaudeville, bump and grind"" asked Kelly.

"You could say vaudeville," replied Atkins, "but not bump and grind."

She explained, "The showgirls would come out there and do what they called dressing the stage."

Her mother was on stage, bare-breasted, with other young woman, creating an artistic montage, said Atkins.

"They couldn’t move," she said. "They did tableaus when the curtain would go up, then the curtain would go down."

Atkins said she hasn’t seen the recent film, Mrs. Henderson Presents, in which Judi Dench portrays a rich widow who puts on just such shows at the Windmill in London.

"I do remember the Windmill," said Atkins.

Atkins trained as a dancer. "I was always dancing," she said. "They sent me to the local dance school....All I ever wanted to do was be on the stage...I wanted to do ballet."

But since she was barely five feet tall, that was out. She started skating at age 18.

"You have that rhythm in your skating from being a dancer," said her friend, with admiration.

"I learned enough to get in the local ice show in Blackpool," said Atkins. "I started joining shows and toured around."

She is included in the book Hot Ice, on the history of the Blackpool Arena.

One of her most memorable skating parts was playing the bluebird in a London production of Snow White.

"Walt Disney himself came to see us and liked the show," said Atkins.

End game

"I never in my wildest dreams thought I would finish up here," Atkins concluded.

"I knew I would finish here," said Kelly.

The pair looked at home in the arena on Saturday. They greeted passers-by, like a pro skater from Italy and his wife and young daughter.

They also greeted another old friend, Linda Friedlander, whom Kelly described as a highly-ranked tennis player.

"The rest of my opponents are dead," quipped Friedlander as she hurried on her way.

"This is our place," said Kelly. "When you look out," she said, gesturing to the scene beyond the window, where snow was falling, muting the colors of the international flags, "you get that Olympic feeling."


Neck and neck, Adirondack fights for gold, and wins

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

LAKE PLACID — Nicole Stagg is a team player.

The 26-year-old Voorheesville native was a member of the Adirondack women’s ice hockey team that upset the traditional winner at the Empire State Games to bring home the gold medal.

"It was awesome," said Stagg on Sunday. "I was just glad to be a part of it."

The game was played in the Jack Shea arena, built for the 1932 Olympics, and named for a Lake Placid native who won two gold medals for speed skating and later became the town supervisor. It’s part of the same complex that houses the rink built for the 1980 Olympics where, in the midst of the Cold War, the United States beat the Russian team in what has become known as "The Miracle on Ice."

The crowd Sunday was wrapped up in its own miracle. The spectators stomped, rang bells, banged the boards, and roared as goals were scored first by one team and then the other.

"I’m not used to that many people watching. We usually get one or two, mostly somebody’s boyfriend," said Stagg who, along with six other Adirondack team members, regularly plays with the Hudson Valley Waves.

The Empire State medal winners were determined Sunday in the final game of 15 games played by six teams during the weekend. The Adirondack team squared off against the Western New York team in a closely matched, very physical game.

Powerhouse Western New York had won the gold for the last several years while the Adirondack team had won the silver medal.

The final score Sunday was tied — 3 to 3 — giving the undefeated Adirondack team first place.

The Adirondack team members skated into a joyous huddle when the final horn sounded, celebrating their gold medal.

Among them was Andrea Kilbourne, a native of Saranac Lake, who won a silver medal when she skated for the United States Women’s Hockey Team at Salt Lake City in 2002.

"She was definitely a leader," said Stagg of Kilbourne., a forward like Stagg. "She made that first line dynamic."

The 3 – 3 tie on Sunday gave

Adirondack first place with four wins and a tie. Central, with four wins and one loss, won the silver, and Western — with three wins, an upset loss to Central, and Sunday’s tie — won the bronze.

New York City was fourth; Long Island, fifth; and Hudson Valley, sixth.

"It was intense," said Stagg of the level of play at the Games. She, and those from other teams, too, noted that, across the state, women’s hockey is becoming more of a force.

"A lot of colleges have women’s ice hockey now," said Stagg. "It’s really growing."

She said of the matches at the Empire State Games, "Almost every game was really exciting and close."

Stagg also said, "I’m probably one of the least experienced. I was nervous about that." She was relieved she didn’t fall, Stagg said with a laugh, adding, in a serious tone, that her contribution was "just skating my hardest."

Although she played in the earlier games, Stagg didn’t see ice time in the final match. "I was there as a supporter," she said.

At the end of the game, she was touched when one of the leading players, forward Susan Duggan, said to her, "You had the hardest job of all."

Stagg’s parents were in the stands to cheer her on. When her mother, during Saturday’s game against Long Island, briefly talked to another onlooker, her father said urgently, "You’re missing your daughter; she’s on the ice!"

Nicole Stagg said later of the fast-paced play, "You’ve got to rely on your instincts and remember the main things about hockey you know."

Cliffhanger

In the final game, Adirondack scored the first goal with 3:18 left in the first period. Danielle Dillabough made the tally with an assist from Susan Duggan. The Western New York goalie was flat out on the ice but couldn’t stop the puck.

A minute later, with the crowd still cheering wildly, the Western goalie was successful at stopping another attempt.

Then, with just 1:97 left in the period, Western scored on a shot by Jennifer Skalski with an assist by Shawnee Oberholtzer.

At the end of the period, the teams huddled by the boards as they listened to their coaches.

The Adirondack players, altogether, yelled, "Go!" as they skated back to play.

"Western!" yelled their opponents.

The intense play continued in the second period. As skaters were knocked to the ice, they rebounded instantly. Then, with just over three minutes left in the period, an Adirondack player stayed down.

Silence fell over the arena. When she got up and skated off, with help, spectators for both teams applauded.

With 2:07 left in the period, the crowd erupted as Adirondack’s Suzanne Fiacco tallied, bringing the score to 2-1.

With the start of the third and final period, the play again was fast and furious. Adirondack’s goalie, Rachel Hutchenson, made a remarkable save just two minutes into the period, only to have Western score a minute later. Nicole Paulk made the tally, tying the score at 2-2.

Altogether, Hutchenson made 12 saves in the game and Western’s goalie made 24.

After Western scored, two Adirondack players — Melisa Hohman and Danielle Dillabough — circled by the goalie, Hutchenson, touching their stick or glove against her as a sign of support and encouragement.

"In women’s sports, generally there’s a lot more support," said Stagg later, when asked about the stick-touching encouragement. "Women back each other up," she said, hastening to add they can also play tough.

That, too, was evident in Sunday’s game, as the players checked each other squarely, time and time again, smashing into the boards.

Four minutes after their second goal, Western scored again with a tally by Julie Ruczula, putting the traditional powerhouse ahead, 3-2.

But then, two minutes later, with 6:37 left in the period, Adirondack’s Susan Fiacco scored again, with an assist by Kilbourne. Now the score was tied once more, 3-3.

As the clock ran down, the intensity increased.

Two minutes later, a Western player lay on the ice as several of her teammates huddled over her. Again, the crowd fell silent. A man hurried onto the ice to help her. The crowd cheered as she got to her knees, and then quieted again until, finally, she rose to her feet, and skated off, with help.

The play continued at a frantic pace until the final horn sounded. That’s when the Adirondack team skated to a group embrace.

As the medals were awarded — first the bronze, then the silver, and finally the gold — each player skated forward to cheers. Duggan had both her kids skating with her.

"It was a great game," said Stagg.

"A hard worker"

Stagg has always been a team player. At Voorheesville’s high school, she was the catcher for the softball team and then, at the State University of New York College at Oswego, she played varsity softball all four years.

Stagg majored in graphic arts and now works as a graphic designer for a Clifton Park publisher. "I’ve always been a little out of the mold," she said. "In college, I was about the only art student that did team sports."

Stagg had a minor in athletic coaching and, in the last season of her senior year, had to choose a sport to study as a coach. Her boyfriend at the time gave her a pair of skates for Christmas that year, so she chose ice hockey.

Many hockey players start skating as young kids; not Stagg.

"I had Rollerbladed, and I had skated a couple of times with friends, but that was it," she recalled.

Stagg said of her college introduction to ice hockey, "I really enjoyed it."

After graduating and moving back to Albany County, she started playing pick-up hockey with men and women at the BIG (Bethlehem Ice Group) arena.

Members of a women’s team, the Hudson Valley Waves, encouraged her to try out for their B team.

"I was hesitant," recalled Stagg. "It was competitive but supposed to be fun, so I gave it a try."

She played on the B team for two years and then tried out for the A team. "There were college players and women who had played from high school all the way up," said Stagg.

She felt intimidated at first, she said, but the coach, Steve Anderson, encouraged her to try out. "He thought I was a hard worker," said Stagg.

She made the team and has played with the Waves for three years.

Asked if she considered herself a pioneer in a sport that, a generation ago, didn’t exist for women, Stagg laughed and said no.

She went on to say, "A few people on the Waves team are real pioneers. They are older women who picked it up late in their college years."

The youngest member of the Waves team is 22, Stagg said, and the oldest members are in their mid-forties.

Stagg is inspired by her teammates.

One of the women who played for the Waves was Gretchen Ulion Silverman, a member of the United States Olympic team that won a gold medal in Nagano, Japan in1998.

Stagg recalled when the Waves played in Toronto. "We went to the Hockey Hall of Fame. As we were walking through, Gretchen said, ‘Wait a minute. That’s my jersey.’"

Stagg admires the way some of the players have fit in having a family with playing the sport.

"One of our captains — she’s in her late 20’s — she has what we call the nine-month flu," said Stagg, referring to her pregnancy. "She’ll be back," Stagg said, confident the captain will return to the game she loves.

Stagg liked the way the Adirondack team, after winning the gold medal Sunday, posed for photographers with the children of the players in the picture, too.

Seven of the 20 members of the Adirondack team are Waves — Andrea Poley, Andrea Pratt, Molly McMaster, Christina Beam, Susan Duggan, Jessica Spiak, and Stagg.

This was Stagg’s first time skating at the Empire State Games, a long-held goal. She tried out last year and was named an alternate. This year, she made the team.

"I was really excited to make the team, to be a part of it," she said.

After the two tryouts, the Adirondack team members had just one practice together.

"Quite a few play together yearly," said Stagg. "It’s kind of like a reunion."

She went on, "We had a team dinner after our practice Thursday, and rallied for the weekend."

Stagg said of her experience on the Adirondack team, "The great thing is you’ve got your teammates to help you through. It’s rewarding because you known you’re skating your hardest and contributing."

She concluded, "I’ve always been a team-sport person. I like the way everyone comes together for a common goal."

What will Stagg be doing the day after winning the gold"

"I have practice tomorrow," she said.


Skiing and shooting
Roosa, a biathlete, wins three silver medals

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

LAKE PLACID — Darwin Roosa won three silver medals at this weekend’s Empire State Winter Games. He has them displayed on a bookcase in his Bozenkill Road home along with other medals of silver, bronze, and gold.

Roosa, at 56, has participated in the winter games for half of his life. At an age when many people experience physical decline, Roosa’s goal is to do better next year.

Roosa is a biathlete. That means he skis cross-country with a rifle and, in the midst of pounding heart and pumping adrenaline, stops, stock still, to carefully aim at targets and steadily pull the trigger.

Last year, he brought home a silver medal for the biathlon in the masters division at the Empire State Games. This year, he did the same, but he added two new competitions — both in cross-country skiing.

Saturday, Roosa competed in the 8-kilometer freestyle race, coming in second in the Masters VI division, with a time of 30:06.

Adam Linick of Queensbury was just ahead of him, at 29:18, winning the gold, and Byron Dieterle of Delmar was 13 minutes behind him, at 43:58, winning the bronze.

Freestyle, Roosa explained, uses a "skating technique."

"You’re on your edges, pushing yourself along," he said. "It’s very fast."

He contrasted this with the "classic" striding style of cross-country skiing, where the skis run parallel to each other.

On Sunday, for the 8-kilometer "pursuit" race, the competitors’ order was determined by the results from the day before.

Roosa came in second again, with a time of 1:02:32. Again, he was just behind gold medalist Linick, who had a time of 1:00:40. Roy Keats of Schenectady came in third, with a time of 1:03:52.

Snow had been sparse in the Adirondacks this winter, so the cross-country races were moved from their usual site at Mount Van Hovenberg to the Intervale Ski Jump Complex, where the trails were covered with manmade snow.

Then heavy snow fell throughout Saturday, making for a slow course. Sunday, skiers battled not only heavy snow but freezing temperatures.

"The culmination"

As an athlete, Roosa’s first love is biathlon.

Raised in Northville in Fulton County, he was always avid about outdoor activities. He began cross-country and downhill skiing as a student at Oneonta State and began racing in the 1970’s.

Looking for something "new and different," he added a rifle in 1982. He practices with a .22 caliber rifle.

"In the summer, we run to bring up the heartbeat and then shoot," he said, explaining this mimics what happens in biathlon competition.

He is a member of the Helderberg Rod and Gun Club, its only biathlete, and enjoys practicing there with others who range from pistol-users to trap-shooters.

Roosa trains for the biathlon year-round, favoring workouts that are "aerobically demanding." He runs and cycles in the summer and also does roller-skiing on the roads around Settle’s Hill.

His ambitious workouts are a contrast from his day job, which involves desk work. For 25 years, he worked at the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation, involving the public in environmental education; he now works for the state’s Office of Employee Relations, promoting training.

His wife used to enjoy biking and cross-country skiing with him, Roosa said, but has been busy lately as principal of an elementary school in North Colonie.

Roosa belongs to the Saratoga Biathlon Club, one of five in New York State, which has produced Olympic athletes like Joan Smith and Curtis Schreiner. The clubs compete against each other in qualifying races.

"The Empire State Games," he said, "is the culmination."

"A lot of people don’t understand biathlon," said Roosa, noting the sport is not very popular in America.

"During the Olympics," he said of the recent television coverage of the games in Italy, "biathlon was just in little pieces at odd times."

Roosa traveled to Russia and Finland in the 1980’s and marveled at the biathlon competitions there.

"In Europe, it’s a big spectator sport," he said. "People fill the stands. The leaders flip-flop based on the shooting. The competitors are national heroes."

Saratoga club members and their families formed Roosa’s cheering section this weekend; they were both participants and spectators.

The conditions were difficult this year, Roosa said. The shooting range is at Mount Van Hovenberg, but there was no snow to cover the ground there on Friday. Usually biathletes ski the course to the shooting range and then aim to knock down metal targets.

This year, the ground was bare so the shooting event was held separately from the skiing. "We had to shoot on paper," said Roosa. "It was windy; the snow had just started and you couldn’t really see the targets."

The skiing took place later at the Intervale Ski Jump Complex.

Roosa doesn’t dwell on the past, though. He’s already making plans for next year.

"My goals are to become a better shooter, a faster skier," he said.

Roosa plans to compete in all three events again next year. "The improvement is there, slow and steady," he said. "I’ll work out to make my body more efficient for next year."

Roosa concluded with a quip, "I’m not ready for the Olympics — yet."


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