Ed Townsend | Democrat
Roscoe School Superintendent John Evans, right, and school board president Ed Park, left, assist in the official unveiling of the "Coach" Fred Ahart Gymnasium banner as "Coach"Ahart smiles with gratitude.
Story by Ed Townsend
ROSCOE January 7, 2014 “This is a team honor and all the coaches and players share in this honor," "Coach" Fred Ahart told the large audience January 4 at the official dedication of the Roscoe Central School "Coach" Fred Ahart Gymnasium.
This honor is reserved as one of the highest honors given a coach but Ahart strongly noted, "the coaches and players are equally important in this process."
Many of the speakers at the dedication and the Toast & Roast event held at the Rockland House all commented that “this is a great honor not only for him but the entire community.”
During the formal ceremony “Coach” Ahart commented about the students he has also coached from Livingston Manor, Liberty, Tri-Valley and Downville and the many friendships he has made with coaches and officials from the old Western Sullivan League, Section IX, the Basketball Coaches Association of New York (BCANY), the BCANY Hall of Fame, the NYSPHSAA Boys Basketball Committee and officials from the Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association. He especially thanked and pointed out three committee members of the State Boys Basketball Committee who were part of “making this day a very special occasion.”
Gratitude from Ahart also went out to those who officiate games and also the media for their efforts in covering the sporting events.
Ahart told the dedication ceremony audience, “that many people have asked me over the year what players were the best or would be my starting five and my response was all my players including the players on the bench.”
Ahart expressed high admiration for his family and in particular his wife, Becky, for their support in his many years of coaching.
Past and present players, including David Rosetti (1969-1979), Rusty and P.J. Pomeroy (1980-1989), Matt Csoka and Jason Closs (1990-1999), Troy Kirchner, Dustin Sullivan and Chris Ballard (2000-2009) and Brad Dreher and Liam Fogarty (2010-2014) all shared their favorite memories of “Coach” Ahart.
Rosetti in his opening remarks said, “I’m a fan of Fred Ahart and when I first met this young man he walked out of the old coach’s office, a pair of sneakers on, short sleeve shirt and a whistle around his neck, and I said to myself I think I’m going to like this man.”
Rosetti said he played for Roscoe during the years of 1972 to 1975 and “Fred was the greatest supporter and builder of confidence in me and in many others.
“As a teenager in Roscoe in the 70s the only game in town was sports and fortunately we had a man such as Fred Ahart who understood that all too well, much to the chagrin of his wife,” Rosetti said.
Rosetti also pointed out that “the coach toured the streets at night and upon seeing us he made sure to tell us to go home and stay out of trouble.”
Athletic accomplishments are honored in many ways and speaker after speaker had the highest praise for their coach.
A talented, accomplished and humble coach, Ahart made sure that everyone knew “I didn't do this by myself I did this with all of your support.”
Known simply and affectionately as “Coach” in the Roscoe community, Ahart is easily described today as one of the most outstanding and highly-respected coaches in not only Section IX but throughout New York State. During his 45 years at Roscoe, “Coach” has served the youth of Roscoe and the high school sports community in many different capacities: as the Roscoe athletic director, football, basketball and track coach; supervisor of the Saturday recreational and summer recreational programs; dean of students; member of the faculty advisers to the National Honor Society; Basketball Officials Signer, co-Chairman of the Section IX Boys’ Basketball committee; Section IX representative to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s Basketball Committee; chairman of the Section IX Eligibility Committee; member of the Section IX Athletic Council.
Over the years, he has been honored as Athletic Director of the Year in 1993, Football Coach of Year in 1999, and in 2010 he was inducted into the New York State Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.
He has indeed been a mentor to many athletes and students as well as the father of five and grandfather of 14.
The 66-year-old Ahart has served Roscoe under the leadership of 16 superintendents and was hired by William Jones to teach Physical Education/Health and to be the basketball coach.
Ahart’s athletic accomplishments include two Western Sullivan League football championships in 1989 and 1990, two division championships in 1989 and 1990, one regional championship in 1990, five Western Sullivan Basketball Championships 1984, ‘85, ‘86, ‘89, ‘98, three Section IX championships 1984, ‘86, ‘98, a New York State semi-final win (1986) in his only trip to the NYS tournament for Roscoe.
The biggest changes for Fred in his time at Roscoe came about in 2002 when he watched as the “little gym”where he’d spent 33 years of his career and was his “home away from home” become an auditorium and the school opened a state-of-the-art full-sized gymnasium for the next generation of athletes.
As Roscoe’s athletic director through all the changes, he also was part of merging football with their biggest rival Livingston Manor which ended in 2012, but with it came Roscoe’s merging with Downsville for football, soccer, girls' basketball, modified girls’ basketball, baseball, softball, golf and cross country.
The only Roscoe sport that has not merged is boys’ basketball.
Ahart graduated from Ithaca College in 1969 with a physical education degree and 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.
Everyone praised the efforts of this event’s organizing committee consisting of Debbie Henrickson, Becky Ahart and Maryanne Ahart Clancy.