Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Watervliet announces Athletics Hall of Fame class of 2010

The Watervliet City School District today announced its Athletics Hall of Fame class of 2010.

Athletes
Mary Littlejohn Adams (1987) - soccer, volleyball, basketball, softball
Tony Carroll (1991) - football, track
Robert Christiansen (1963) - soccer, track
Janice Crudo Teson (1976) - basketball, softball
Lyle Darmetko (1986) - football, basketball, baseball
Tony Fruscio (1989) - football, basketball
Dominic Fruscio (1993) - football, basketball, baseball
Donald Kelly (1975) - basketball, track
Gene Madaio (1954) - football, soccer, baseball
David Pitaniello (1971) - football, baseball, bowling
Peter Strand (1987) - football, basketball, baseball
Corey Wasula (1991) - soccer, basketball, softball

Tony Fruscio, a member of the Watervliet Athletic Hall of Fame class of 2010, is now the head varsity football coach at the Albany Academy. (Record file photo).

Coaches
Joe King (1973-79) - head coach, varsity football

Joe King, who brought the Cannoneers' football program to prominence in the 1970s, has been the head coach at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for the past 22 years. (Record file photo).

Teams
1991 boys basketball (28-0, New York State Public High School Athletic Association and Federation Tournament of Champions Class C winners)

Contributor
Watervliet High School Dad's Club - Started in the mid-1960s by Watervliet parents as a support group for Watervliet athletics.

The new inductees will be honored at the third annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which will take place on October 17, 2010 at Michael's Banquet House. Tickets may be obtained by contacting the Watervliet athletic department at 629-3303. Watervliet's homecoming football game will be played on October 16.

For more information on the Watervliet Hall of Fame, visit the school's website by clicking here.

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Update (9:25 p.m.): Andrew Santillo and I were able to speak with a few members of this year's class and here is an excerpt of a story that will run in Thursday's edition of The Record:

Andrew Santillo and William Montgomery
The Record

WATERVLIET -- Joe King remembers vividly returning home from a game at Hudson, the final game of the 1974 football season for Watervliet.

The Cannoneers had just won their final game of the year.

"I remember coming back up and seeing the lights of the city of Albany," King said. "Coming back on the bus, it was neat. The kids were coming back as winners for the first time in a long time."

King, who begins his 22nd season today as coach at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, coached the Cannoneers from 1973-1979 and he will be honored by being inducted into the Watervliet Athletic Hall of Fame in October.

"I’m excited," he said. "I had some great experiences at Watervliet and some of the fondest memories I have as a coach were while I was there."

King says he remains in touch with some of the players he coached at Watervliet, more than 30 years after their time in high school.

"It’s a unique town," King said. "A lot of people stayed there (after high school). Those who have moved still come back. It’s a blue-collar town, my kind of people and people with a lot of good qualities."

King coached a lot of great players during his years at Watervliet, including Tim Sherwin, who went on to play in the National Football League.

"For a town that size and the size of that school, there have been pro athletes out of there and just some great players," King said. "I’m honored to be considered a part of (the Hall of Fame)."

Another of the inductees was Peter Strand, a three-sport star (football, basketball and baseball), who graduated in 1987 and currently coaches junior varsity volleyball and boys basketball and serves as the Cannoneers’ head varsity baseball coach.

"It’s a big-time honor. I’m very surprised," Strand said. "There are so many good athletes from Watervliet and to be a part of the third class, I am very honored."

When Strand was a student, he played for coaches Dan Reinfurt (football), George Mardigan (basketball) and Tony Curro (baseball), all of whom were part of Watervliet’s inaugural Hall of Fame class in 2008. With so many former Watervliet athletes now serving as coaches themselves - Tony Fruscio and Brian Fruscio coach at the Albany Academy, Andre Cook is the head men’s basketball coach at St. Edward’s College in Austin, Texas and current Cannoneers football coach Erick Bernard and basketball coaches Walter Bowden and Gordie Johnson themselves are Watervliet graduates - it’s no wonder the Arsenal City has become the coaching capital of Section II.

"I knew what I wanted to do after my junior year in high school," said Strand. "I wanted to teach physical education and take over one of the three main programs at the school."

Not only were the coaches of the 1980s influential, they also had a growing base of hometown talent with which to work.

"In the 1980s, most players stayed close to home rather than go to Catholic Central, CBA or La Salle," said Tony Fruscio, who played football and basketball and graduated in 1989. "Some of the best of all time from this area were Watervliet kids, but they played at other schools. In the ‘80s, that started to change with most guys staying home and going to Watervliet."

Stand started his coaching career at Cohoes High School, but couldn’t pass up an opportunity to assist Reinfurt on the football field in 1992.

"I’ve been coaching at Watervliet for about 15 years and one of the things that stands out is that kids never give up," said Strand. "They always compete at a high level. That’s one of the fringe benefits of the job. The kids work so hard that things just kind of fall into place."

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