Editors Note: This is the first in a series of stories about the athletic directors at local high schools.
By Ted Waddell
ROSCOE March 17, 2006 I came to Roscoe right after college, and Ive been here ever since, said Fred Ahart, who is now in his 37th year as athletic director and coach at Roscoe Central School.
He had several job offers after graduating from Ithaca College in 1969 with a degree in physical eduction. But Ahart picked the small rural school district in northwestern Sullivan County because, in addition to being head of the athletic department, he could immediately get into coaching.
In his first decade at RCS, Ahart was an assistant football coach and for the next 27 years served as the head coach of the Roscoe Blue Devils varsity football team.
Last autumn, he teamed up with Livingston Manor Coach Kevin Clifford to co-coach the Devil Cats, a varsity football team made up of players from the two neighboring school districts.
Adhering to his own long-standing policy, Ahart never singles out individual star athletes from his decades of guiding scholastic sports teams. But he wanted to recognize the accomplishments of several squads, both on the gridiron and basketball court.
Football Section IX champions: 1989, 1990; Regional champions (Section IV vs. Section IX): 1990; League or Divisional champions: 1989 (Western Sullivan League), 1990 (WSL), 1995 (Division 5) and 2002 (Class D).
Basketball Section IX champions: 1984, 1986, 1998; WSL champions: 1984, 1985, 1986, 1989 and 1998.
Ive always liked sports and athletics, and enjoy working with kids, said Ahart, a 1965 graduate of Candor High School, where he was a four-letter (football, basketball, baseball and track) student-athlete.
In his final year at Ithaca College, Ahart returned to his high school alma mater as an assistant coach for the j.v. basketball team.
During his first year at Roscoe, girls sports were pretty much limited to play days...it wasnt a fair situation. But in the 1970-71 school year things started to change, and he began to add an interscholastic sports program for girls.
It took a few years to build it up, recalled Ahart, noting that back in the 1930s, RCS had an active girls sports program.
To further assist RCS students improve their physical fitness and well being, Ahart and other school officials were pleased that the district received a Carol M. White Physical Education grant during the 2003-2004 academic year.
On a recent school day, a group students were playing basketball or walking around the court in the new gym, wearing small monitors that record time on task, calories burned, mileage covered and the number of steps taken during the phys. ed period.
After the class was over, they lined up to record their stats for the day in Aharts log book.
The district is currently in the process of implementing grant-funded watch monitors that will document students heart rates and pulses.
Schools Join Forces
In 2006, the trend in athletics at RCS is merging programs with neighboring Livingston Manor Central School in an effort to build feeder programs and give more kids at both schools a chance to complete in sports.
Because of our unique small size, we are looking toward ways of giving our students more opportunities, Ahart explained. We need to develop more sharing of athletics.
Last autumn, the Devils Cats varsity football team finished the season with a 2-7 record. But Ahart said that people should not judge the combined team just by its stats.
Neither school would probably have been able to field a team [because of low numbers], he said. The kids meshed together, I was very pleased with the football program.
The Devil Cats competed in every scheduled game at three levels: modified, j.v. and varsity.
The varsity squad had a couple of close games against the Eldred Yellowjackets, who went on to win Section IX Class D title.
It was the best experience of my coaching career, working with the kids from both communities, said Ahart.
Building on success, Roscoe and Manor are combining forces to field three merged teams for the upcoming spring sports season: baseball, golf and track.
Baseball will take to the diamond as the Livingston Manor-Roscoe (LMR) Devil Cats. RCS Principal Scott Haberli will be the Head Coach, while the Assistant Coaches will be Clifford and Christopher Cosmark.
Livingston Manor already has a developed track team. The Co-Coaches are Scott Branning and Pete Feinberg. Roscoes Dan Parisi will be the Assistant Coach.
Roscoes existing golf program is led by Coaches Becky Ackerly and Cheryl Bowers, and Manor students will be invited to sign up much like Roscoe athletes will compete in track with kids from The Home of the Wildcats.
In almost 40 years as an athletic director/coach, Ahart has received numerous honors, including three top-picks. In 1990, he was named Football Coach of the Year by a daily newspaper based in Middletown. In 1993, he was honored as the New York Athletic Administrators Associations Athletic Director of the Year. And just last month, Ahart recorded his 400th win in varsity hoops as the Blue Devils defeated Margaretville a Class D team from neighboring Delaware County. On that Thursday night in February, the RCS Blue Devils topped the Margaretville Blue Devils, 68-60.
Ahart wears a lot of sports caps. He is co-chairman of Section IX basketball, serves as the Section IX representative to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) Basketball Committee, is the Section IX appeals coordinator and is a member of the Section IX Athletic Council. In the mid-1990s, he served as Section IX president.
Ive been fortunate to have a lot of outstanding athletes attend Roscoe a very special group of people, Ahart commented. I consider the person on the sidelines or the bench just as important as the ones out there playing regularly theyre all part of the team.
Athletics are an important part of the education process for each student, he added.