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Sunday, July 5, 2015: Catching up on some recent headlines

   Leading off today: It's not often that you can say a football coach with a 39-69 record did about all that could be done under the circumstances. But that description fits Tony Ricco, who has decided to step down after 13 seasons at New York Mills.

   "He did a great job for us," AD Andrea Dziekan told The Observer-Dispatch. "He put a lot of time and effort into it and he was very committed."

   With an enrollment only two-thirds of the largest Class D schools, New York Mills has been consistently outmanned over the years and couldn't even field varsity teams in 1998 and 2001. The Marauders were 3-5 in 2013 and 1-7 last season, when they played in the National Football Foundation, a league designed to help struggling small-school programs rebuild.

   Last year's opening-day roster of 23 players included 17 underclassmen.

   "Every year, we had to be creative to come up with ways to use all of our kids to the best of their abilities," Ricco told the paper. "But I loved it. Some of our best teams, we had only 20 kids. ... But I enjoyed coaching. I dedicated a lot of time and I love New York Mills."

   Ricco, a 48-year-old father of two, plans to spend more time with his family. He will remain a physical education teacher in the district.

   Softball selections: Hamilton senior pitcher Becca Rogers earned her second consecutive softball Class D player of the year award, the New York State Sportswriters and Coaches Organization for Girls Sports announced over the weekend.

   Rogers culminated her career with her fifth straight selection to the all-state first team. She shared the classification's player of the year honor with Deposit eighth-grader MaKenzie Stiles.

   A pair of senior catchers also were recognized as players of the year: Katie Weimer of Orchard Park was the choice in Class AA, and Chenango Valley's Chelsea Henige shared the Class B honor with Cohoes sophomore pitcher Isabelle DeChairo.

   The other players of the year were Averill Park pitcher/first baseman Caraline Wood in Class A and Addison pitcher Kiwi Burrell in Class C. Both are seniors.

   The full all-state team can be found in our reference section.

   On the comeback trail: Last week, I mentioned that PSAL star Wesley Rodriguez has disclosed he will need to undergo Tommy John surgery before embarking upon his college and/or professional pitching career.

   On Saturday, another former New York baseball star made a triumphant return 15 months after undergoing that very same procedure.

   Patrick Corbin pitched five solid innings and picked up the win as the Arizona Diamondbacks downed the Colorado Rockies 7-3. Corbin, 25, was a star at Cicero-North Syracuse and then was drafted in the second round in 2009 out of Mohawk Valley Community College.

   He appeared in four minor-league tune-ups before returning to the major-league roster last week. The left-hander, who had the surgery March 25, 2014, allowed two runs, scattered eight hits, struck out three and walked none.

   "It's great to be back," he said. "You have a lot of emotions going. When they announced my name pre-game the fans gave a pretty nice applause, that gave me some chills and some butterflies. After that I calmed down. I just wanted to go out there and don't overthrow, throw a lot of strikes and I felt like I was able to do that."

   Concerns raised: I've mentioned a couple of times that the NYSPHSAA begins a deal in 2016 in which Spalding products become the official balls for postseason competition in a number of sports. It's a five-year program that has received approval from all 11 sections and is shaping up as a financial bonanza.

   Under the formula worked out by the NYSPHSAA, which accounts for the number of schools and students, Section 5 is projected to receive $46,540 per year. Other examples: the Section 6 take is $42,862 a year, and Section 9 is scheduled to bring in $28,084 a year.


  • NYSPHSAA boys lacrosse
  • NYSPHSAA girls lacrosse
  • NYSPHSAA baseball
  • NYSPHSAA softball
  • Past years' brackets

  •    Still, that doesn't mean everyone is happy. I haven't seen the subject tackled elsewhere, but Chris Metcalf of the Livingston County News found some coaches and coordinators who are concerned with the quality of some Spalding products.

       "The Spalding ball would not be my first or even second choice to use, but just like everything these days it's a business and it is tough to pass up the money the state was offered," said Cal-Mum basketball coach Dan Dickens, fresh off the school's first Section 5 championship in 36 years. "Both teams are using the same ball so at least there is no competitive advantage."

       Vic VanVliet, the Section 5 girls soccer chairman and a coach for 20 years, is not a fan of Spalding products.

       "I think the (soccer) ball is awful and I have never heard anyone say it was a good ball," he said. "It's a playground ball. Just the other day I was looking for Spalding tennis balls and couldn’t find any at Dick's and a bunch of other places. I bet if I went to Wal-Mart or Dollar General I could've found some."

       Good reading: I've been out of the loop for a couple of days this holiday weekend. If that's also the case for you, here are two pieces of reading worth your time as you catch up:

       (1) Andrew Legare of the Star-Gazette wrote a tremendous piece about a Horseheads special education teacher who died June 14 at the age of 39. Here's his lead:

       "Lou Gehrig's disease took Brendan McCarthy away from us in less than two years. Its power, however, paled in comparison to that of McCarthy, who took just two minutes to make a lasting impact on me.

       "The opportunity I had to talk with McCarthy, and to see how his fight with amyotrophic lateral sclerois inspired so many others, puts him on a level with the likes of Ernie Davis and Joel Stephens in terms of bona fide heroes I have written about."

       (2) The Huffington Post profiled John Urschel, a 2008 all-state lineman for Canisius High who went on to a fine career at Penn State and now plays in the NFL.

       From the story:

       "To put it mildly, Urschel is a rare commodity. He's 6 feet 3 inches tall, a 308-pound offensive guard for the Baltimore Ravens and a man who once stated matter-of-factly that he loves 'hitting people.' But he's also a 24-year-old with ambitions of obtaining a Ph.D. in mathematics after his football career ends. (Specifically, he hopes to continue his research in numerical partial differential equations and machine learning, if that means anything to you.)

       "By the look of things, that won't be impossible. Urschel already holds a master's degree in mathematics from Penn State, where he earned a 4.0 grade point average. And last December, he and a team of researchers submitted a paper entitled, 'A Cascadic Multigrid Algorithm for Computing the Fiedler Vector of Graph Laplacians.' The paper was accepted into Journal of Computational Mathematics earlier this year."

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  • 5/27: Football gets approval to add a game
  • 4/29: Officials turning focus toward the fall
  • 4/23: Boys all-state basketball (large schools)
  • 4/22: Westhill hoops star dies in crash
  • 4/16: Boys all-state basketball (small schools)
  • 4/8: LuHi girls coach Slater steps down
  • 3/24: NYSPHSAA ends winter sports season
  • 3/18: Davis, Poole capture BCANY honors
  • 3/18: Weekly NYC boys basketball recap
  • 3/13: Dutchess Co. teams idle until April 30
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