FFCS coaches happy spring sports are back

FONDA?-?After a period of uncertainty, not knowing if there would be a 2013 spring sports season at Fonda-Fultonville High School, the athletes and coaches received news that funding was restored and there would indeed be a spring sports season.

But now what?

“We started doing open gyms a couple of mornings during the week, but I had to wait until it was official before I could start,” Braves varsity baseball coach Rick Palumbo said. “We usually start open gyms the first week in January, but we didn’t this year because if we weren’t going to play I didn’t want to get the kids’ hopes up. They were convinced that we probably weren’t going to have [a season]. A lot of them had been working on their games and felt they had the rug pulled out from under them. Then when it was reinstated, they were pretty happy.”

The Lady Braves softball team also is preparing to begin preseason workouts.

“We have the gym schedule from our athletic director Eric Wilson,” Lady Braves coach Kari McDougall said. “Being a central school, we have three gyms in the building and they are all used almost non-stop. We are community-based, so we share the gyms with community sports like Biddy Basketball. There is not a ton of open time so when we go back to school this week we will start setting up some times for the girls to start coming in and working out. It is difficult because we have girls playing basketball and a girl on the bowling team and that needs to be their top priority right now. But I have some pitchers already pitching and when we get the batting cage set up, that will be open for them also.”

The track and field team will not have to worry about gym time as many of the athletes are involved with the school’s indoor track team.

“Everybody is starting to get warmed up and we are looking forward to a little time off,” coach Mark Therrien said. “I think they are relieved. They were concerned, but now they are relieved that they are going to finish up the year with all the friends from the other schools. They have adjusted like kids do. They are finishing up their winter sports and will be ready to go outdoors.”

Having a season also means that the FFCS girls track and field team will have an opportunity to win its third straight Section?II title after winning the Class B crown last season. The FFCS boys placed second at the Class B?meet.

The coaches also are putting the finishing touches on the schedules.

“Our league schedule is 16 games,” McDougall said. “Even though we have been back up and running only two weeks, right now we have a 19-game schedule and we are waiting to hear from a couple of other teams but we will be playing a 20 game schedule.”

McDougall said that there was outstanding cooperation and patience from the members of the Colonial Council and other local teams.

“I am fortunate for the reputation that Fonda-Fultonville softball has and the Colonial Council rep was been in contact with me non-stop,” she said. “He kept asking ‘what do you want us to do? I want to keep you on the schedule.’ I told him to keep us on the schedule. We feel we are going to pull through and make it happen.”

During the 2012 season the Lady Braves hosted the inaugural Ron Papierniak Tournament with Amsterdam, Gloversville, Mayfield and Fonda-Fultonville participating.

“We had a very successful first Ron Papierniak Tournament last year,” McDougall said. “It was all local schools and we want only local schools to participate. The schools that were active last year, I contacted and they wanted to comeback. I chose the date of May 11 so we don’t interfere with SATs. They said they would have a backup plan but that we were their first choice.”

Palumbo said the Braves’ non-league schedule has come together with the cooperation of other local teams.

“I kept saying canceling the season wasn’t going affect just us it was going to affect all the teams we play,” he said. “Nobody can just go out and find a game because the schedules are pretty much set already. I have our schedule all done. We have spots for five non-league games because we have a 15-game league schedule. I called Mike DeMagistris [Gloversville coach] and told him to hold our spot in their tournament because there was a chance we were going to have a team. I called Aaron Mraz [Johnstown], Brent Watterson [Canajoharie] and Brian Spagnola [Amsterdam]. They all graciously held our spots for us and it all worked out.”

The school will be able to field teams at all three levels of competition – varsity, junior varsity and modified – this season.

The Braves’ varsity team reached the Section?II?Class B semifinals last season.

“We have all three levels,” Palumbo said. “The schools’ booster club has been raising money all year for the modified teams.?The coaches are going to coach for free, and luckily for us, Brown’s Coach graciously donated the buses this year and that is a huge expense. Hopefully everything works out. The kids are ready to go and I think it is going to go without a hitch right now. We don’t have a budget to work with so we need to do some fundraising to get a few things the school normally would get us, but it is what it is.”

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