Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Training camp report: Troy High

Troy High head coach Jack Burger demonstrates a drill to players during the opening day of practice on Monday. (Mike McMahon - The Record).

The Flying Horses will have a number of changes to the team in 2009, please check out our 48-page season preview section coming out on September 3 for more, but here is an update on Troy's involvement in the Play it Smart program.


TROY -- Isaiah Hunt definitely had the talent to play college football. The 6-foot-1, 225-pound offensive guard graduated from Troy High this June, but thanks to the Flying Horses’ involvement in the Play it Smart program, he will not be buckling up a helmet this fall.
Instead, he’ll be following his other dream in the recording studio.
Play it Smart, sponsored by the National Football Foundation, is overseen at Troy by head football coach Jack Burger and academic coach Harry Peterson, a longtime guidance counselor at Troy High. The results during the 2008-09 school year, the first for the program in Troy, were astonishing.
All the seniors on the 2008 football team took the SAT and all juniors and sophomores took the PSAT, a preliminary standardized test designed to prepare students for the SAT. Every senior in the program graduated on time and all of them will be furthering their education in college this fall.
Hunt, in particular, took full advantage of the Play it Smart benefits. He studied in SAT preparation courses and his eyes were opened to four-year colleges such as SUNY-Oneonta, where he’ll begin classes later this month.
"He could’ve played football, but he was also into music and mixing music and we helped him get into Oneonta," said Peterson. "His mother was thrilled. It was a goal that he couldn’t believe was going to happen."
Football season is right around the corner, as Monday, Aug. 17 is the opening day of practice. Just as the weight room is important 12 months out of the year for players to keep in shape, so too is a year-round approach to academics for these players.
Many of the football players at Troy High responded to the program by enrolling in advanced placement courses that offer a tougher course load and college credit with the appropriate grades.
"We’ve been very pleased about the boys stepping up to the challenge of difficult classes and not just taking the school level classes," Peterson said. "With the scholarships we’ve been able to provide, it’s cost-effective to take these classes. Besides being educationally sound, you get college credit in your back pocket. For the guys that go on to play football, that means you may be able to take one fewer course in the fall."
Those classes, of course, cost extra money to sign up for and that’s where Play it Smart steps in. The program’s budget, which is funded almost entirely from donations (the National Football Foundation also provides a small stipend), affords student-athletes an opportunity to take a course they may have been otherwise unable to take in the past.
The football team is conducting a golf outing at Frear Park on Aug. 30 that is open to former players and those looking to benefit the Play it Smart program. More information may be found online at www.troy.k12.ny.us
Todd Mulligan, a 2006 Colgate graduate who started the final 23 games of his college career and Adam Lord, a 2002 Bucknell alum, are among the former players coming home to take a few swings on the links.
The Play it Smart program has six goals: improve grade point average, increase the number of students taking college entrance tests and improve their scores, increase graduation rate, enhance life skills development, increase opportunities for community service and increase parental and family involvement.
"I’ve eaten lunch with Jack for the past 20 years and we have the same philosophy when it comes to academics with athletes," Peterson said. "Most parents think you can just play your way to a scholarship, but it doesn’t work that way. If you don’t do the academic work too, it’s not going to happen."

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