By Rob Potter
GLENS FALLS The man known simply and affectionately as “Coach” in the Roscoe community is now officially a Hall of Famer.
Fred Ahart, who has been the Coach of the Roscoe Central School varsity boys’ basketball team since the 1969-1970 school year, was one of nine men inducted into the Basketball Coaches Association of New York (BCANY) Hall of Fame during a ceremony on Saturday morning in Heritage Hall in the Glens Falls Civic Center.
The plaque bearing Ahart’s name and photo listed his accomplishments during his 40 years of coaching boys’ basketball teams at one of the state’s smallest high schools. Those accomplishments include leading the Blue Devils to numerous league and sectional titles, at one time guiding his teams to victory in 30 consecutive league games and 29 consecutive wins at home and serving in many league and section positions, including League President and Basketball Chairman and Section IX President.
Noting that Ahart’s guests at the ceremony filled nine tables, BCANY Executive Director Dave Archer wondered aloud, “Is there anybody left in Roscoe?”
A total of 134 of Ahart’s family members, former assistant coaches and players, school administrators, opposing coaches and community members attended the event, which included a delicious brunch. The inductee with the second highest number of guests at the ceremony had 24.
Upon receiving his plaque from fellow BCANY Hall of Fame member Dave Powers, who is the longtime girls’ basketball coach at Tuxedo High School, and two of his former assistant coaches, Chris Russo and Jason Semo, who are now the head boys’ varsity basketball coaches at Monticello and Liberty Central Schools, respectively, Ahart stepped up to the podium to give his acceptance speech.
“I am shocked and overwhelmed by this turnout,” Ahart said as he looked out at those 134 people who had traveled from Sullivan County and points beyond to share in his special day.
He noted that it was a true honor to be inducted in the BCANY Hall of Fame with fellow Section IX Coaches Jerry Kaplan, Dick O’Neill and Paul Zintel. Ahart said that O’Neill nominated him for the honor, but unfortunately was unable to attend the ceremony.
Ahart said that while he was coaching at Candor High School during the 1968-1969 school year, he met legendary Coach Claire Bee, who won more than 350 games in his 20 years of coaching the men’s basketball team at Long Island University.
“This is not an individual honor, this is a team honor,” Ahart said.
He then thanked all of his former assistant coaches and players, past and present administrators and staff members at Roscoe Central School, fellow coaches, Section IX and New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) committee members and athletic directors and staff members at other Sullivan County high schools.
Ahart then spoke of the important role his family has played in his success on the basketball court.
“They are more than supporters, they are involved,” he said.
At the top of that list of family members is his wife, Becky.
Fred noted that Becky has been the varsity girls’ basketball coach at Roscoe Central School for many, many years. In addition, she coaches AAU basketball teams in the summer and has helped the Blue Devils’ basketball program by keeping the scorebook at games, helping run the scoreboard and keeping statistics.
Fred Ahart noted that he and Becky have four daughters Maryanne, Katie, Michelle and Kelly. All of them played basketball for Becky and helped keep statistics at the boys’ games.
In addition, Fred and Becky’s son, Ralph, played on Roscoe basketball and football teams coached by Fred.
The Ahart family has grown to include a new generation, as Fred and Becky are the proud grandparents of 12. One of those grandchildren, John Clancy, played football and basketball for Fred. John’s sister, Paige Clancy, recently completed her second year on the Lady Blue Devils’ varsity basketball team coached by Becky.
And John and Paige’s younger brother, Daniel, has played on Roscoe youth basketball and football teams the past couple of years.
“I would like to thank everyone who came up here for me and I would like to congratulate all of the other inductees being honored here today,” Ahart said. “It is truly an overwhelming honor.”
Following the induction ceremony, Becky Ahart smiled brightly as she said that “today has been great.
“I’ve had as much fun as Fred has,” she said. “He has been able to reconnect with a lot of people. This opened up a lot of avenues for communication.”
Among those people Fred and Becky Ahart heard from was Mike Gminski, who is a former National Basketball Association (NBA) player. The couple met Gminski many years ago when he bought a home in the Roscoe area from local real estate agent Pat Pomeroy. In the offseason, Gminski would visit Roscoe and work out in the RCS gymnasium to keep his hoops skills sharp.
Becky Ahart said that it was nice so many of her husband’s former players could attend Saturday’s ceremony. In addition, they represented the many stages of Fred Ahart’s coaching career. For example, Bill Hendrickson, Ed Laders and Chip Malone all played for Ahart during his first three seasons at Roscoe Central School (1969-1970, 1970-1971 and 1971-1972).
Other former Roscoe players in attendance included Dan DeVantier, Kevin DeVantier, Phil Eggleton, Dave Eggleton, Lou Farragher, Kevin Feeney, Jayson Harris, Joe Ladenhauf, P.J. Pomeroy and Rusty Pomeroy.
The eight other men inducted into the BCANY Hall of Fame with Ahart on Saturday were Dick Bihr, Rich Castellano, Tim Leary, Bill Merna, Dean Schott, Ken Strube, Cecil Watkins and Bob Zeh.