Bertram takes over as Fort Plain athletic director; Previously AD for Mohonasen, Cooperstown


David Bertram was named director of student engagement and athletics at Fort Plain on July 14. (Paul Wager); Background File

FORT PLAIN — For the first time in 45 years, Fort Plain has a new athletic director.

David Bertram was appointed to replace Charlie Karker on July 14 as he was named director of student engagement and athletics.

Bertram joins the Fort Plain Central School District having served public education for many years in assignments as an elementary teacher, boys’ varsity basketball and tennis coach and as an administrator.

“Mr. Bertram’s diverse experiences in education, from classroom to coaching, made him the ideal candidate for this new position. He will bring a breadth of knowledge to the job and possesses strong leadership skills,” Fort Plain superintendent Lauren Crisman said in a news release. “The position’s responsibilities will focus on strengthening the overall student experience by giving enhanced attention and support to our co-curricular, extracurricular and athletic programs K-12. In addition, Mr. Bertram will provide mentoring to new or novice athletic coaches.”

Bertram, who lives in Cooperstown, comes to Fort Plain after serving as athletic director at Mohonasen for two years. Prior to his time at Mohonasen, Bertram was an elementary school teacher, coach and athletic director at Cooperstown.

“Everybody has been great in Fort Plain. They’ve really welcomed me with open arms and everyone has been really supportive,” Bertram said. So far, I’ve been doing a lot of sitting back and listening. Charlie [Karker] has been great and he’s been in cleaning things out. After 45 years, you accumulate some things for sure.”

The decision to make the move wasn’t an easy one.

“I loved it at Mohonasen. It was a perfect job. I had a great support staff and administration there,” Bertram said. “I really wasn’t looking, but this position just popped up. When the opportunity came up, I threw my hat in the ring. The travel and gas prices were a big part of my decision. My new position will allow me to drive less and spend more time with my family. It’s just 25 miles from my house.”

Before completely moving on from Mohonasen, Bertram is working to ensure a smooth transition.

“I’m still finishing up at Mohonasen,” Bertram said. “I want to make sure there is a smooth transition at both Mohonasen and Fort Plain. I want what’s best for the kids at both Mohonasen and Fort Plain. I’m going to do what I can to make sure there are no hiccups at either place.”

Fort Plain’s gain will be Mohonasen’s loss.

“We posted the position immediately after getting notified that David [Bertram] was leaving. We had nine applicants for the position and four candidates will be interviewed by a full committee on Aug. 4,” Mohonasen superintendent Shannon Shine said. “We’re going to have a special board of education meeting on Aug. 10 for the sole reason of interviewing the two or three finalists for the position. We’re hoping to have an appointment ready for the Aug. 15 board meeting.”

Bertram’s replacement will be Mohonasen’s sixth athletic director in little more than a decade. Joe Scalise served eight years in the position before leaving in 2014 to work at the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake school district and was succeeded by Matt Stein, who spent three years at Mohonasen before taking a position at Shaker. Jason Friesen served as the school’s AD for less than a year in 2017-18, and Robert Stulmaker briefly served in an interim capacity before Dave Austin was appointed in September 2018.

Bertram, who was named Mohonasen athletic director in 2020, will be helping his replacement adjust to the role.

“I’m also looking at getting David [Bertram] appointed at his daily rate for a ½ day to help with the transition depending on the experience of the person that is named to the position,” Shine said.

In addition to serving as the director of student engagement and athletics, Bertram also will be varsity boys’ basketball coach at Fort Plain, replacing Casey Russom, who led the Hilltoppers to the Section II Class C title game last winter.

“I’m going to have the opportunity to coach again as well,” Bertram said. “I coached for a long time and that’s something I missed. I’m thankful that Fort Plain has the confidence in me to be athletic director and coach.”

In his 18 years of coaching boys’ basketball at Cooperstown, Bertram recorded a 256-87 basketball mark with five Section III titles, two regional crowns, and one trip to the state final. His tennis teams accumulated a 240-15 dual match mark with eight Section III championships. Bertram also coached boys’ basketball at Edmeston for two seasons and including those seasons, he has a career record of 276-109.

“There is a rich tradition at Fort Plain and together we will continue to work on delivering the best possible experience for our students,” Bertram said.

By Paul Wager

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