FFCS Hall announces this year’s inductees

FONDA — The Fonda-Fultonville Athletics Hall of Fame Selection Committee is proud to announce the induction of two alumni athletics champions into this year’s class.

Matthew Mancini and Jennifer Sponenberg will be honored during a halftime ceremony at the homecoming football game on Saturday.

Matthew Mancini, Class of 2006

Matthew Mancini was a three sport athlete in football, baseball and basketball at FFCS. He was a four-time varsity letter holder in football, earning 26 wins as starting quarterback. He helped take the team to sectionals three times, and the team twice won the Class B West Divisional Championships. He earned All-Conference and All-State recognition, was twice named the John L. Jackson MVP and was granted various awards from the NYS High School Football Coaches Association, the National Football Foundation and local news media outlets. He held every FFCS passing record upon graduating, and ranks among sectional and statewide passing records.

On the diamond, Mancini and his teammates were the undefeated Western Athletic Conference champions his junior and senior years. As the starting first baseman, he helped the team earn All-WAC and All-State recognition, and he was voted the best defensive player his senior year. He earned a WAC Scholar-Athlete Scholarship and holds a career .420 batting average.

After graduating from FFCS, Mancini played four years of varsity baseball at Hamilton College. He also lettered in football as a freshman.

In his professional career, Mancini has interned with the Washington Redskins and the football operations of Georgetown University and Princeton University. He is currently the director of football operations of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point.

Jennifer Sponenberg, Class of 1992

Jennifer Sponenberg was a league and sectional indoor and outdoor track and field champion for five years at FFCS. She competed in the triple jump for both state and national championships. She reset her own record seven times during the 1991-92 season, and she is still the FFCS girls triple jump record holder for indoor and outdoor track. Team honors include outstanding field performer for outdoor track in 1991 and indoor track in 1992, and she was named the co-MVP for the outdoor track team in 1992. Sponenberg was also a member of the 1988 cross-country team that placed fifth in the state championships.

Sponenberg continued her studies at Cortland University, competing in the NCAA championships for indoor track 1993 and outdoor track in 1994. She set school triple jump records for indoor track at the Cornell Invitational as a freshman in 1993, and for outdoor track in 1994. She also received the prestigious Red Letter Award from her coach in 1994, and earned a bronze medal at the Empire State Games that year.

Sponenberg’s achievements off the track are perhaps even more admirable than her athletics career. She was diagnosed with brain cancer at the end of her senior year at Cortland in 1996. She had three classes left before graduating with a degree in elementary education. Whenever she had a remission, she took a class in Empire State College. She took her last class while she was in chemotherapy. She graduated in December 1999, and her last treatment was in March 2000. In September 2001, she began to substitute teach.

When Sponenberg finished her brain cancer treatments, she joined Relay for Life and participated for many years, serving as keynote speaker four times.

“I always remind them that they are here because they have chosen to celebrate life, and not to be victims, but survivors,” Sponenberg said.

By Paul Wager

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