By Rob Potter
LIBERTY March 27, 2007 Last Thursday night, the Liberty High School gym was filled with parents and students who cheered loudly as high school athletes competed on the court before them.
Those fans shouted, clapped and even stomped on the bleachers a few times.
A handful of Liberty students showed their support for their teams by painting themselves red. The boys covered their faces, backs and bare chests with red paint, while the girls painted their faces, stomachs, and lower backs red to blend in with the red T-shirts they wore.
In the final moments of the competition, the cheers for the Indian and Lady Indian teams was positively deafening.
On the other side of gym, visiting fans proudly wore their school colors and held up signs of encouragement.
While similar displays of school spirit could be seen and heard in the Liberty gym at several basketball games this winter, Thursday’s athletic event did not involve shooting a ball through a basket. Instead, it involved throwing a yellow ball at an opposing player and hoping they would not catch the ball when it hit them.
Teams of outstanding senior athletes from Liberty, Sullivan West and Tri-Valley high schools were competing in a dodgeball tournament.
Justin Garritt, who is the President of the Liberty Class of 2007, began organizing the tournament a few months ago. He contacted SW Senior Class President Laura Stabbert and T-V Senior Class President Gabrielle Skidmore and the three of them began planning the event.
In addition to Skidmore, Stabbert and their classmates, Garritt said he received a great deal of assistance from the two Liberty Senior Class Vice-Presidents Valerie LaGattuta and Georgia Siegel as well as Class Advisor Maureen Crescitelli.
The tournament, which featured a boys’ team and a girls’ team for each school, was a fundraiser for all three senior classes. When fans walked in the door, they paid their admission fee at one of three tables. Basically, the Liberty fans supported their teams by paying at the Liberty table, SW fans paid at the SW table and T-V fans paid at the T-V table.
The first game of the night featured the Liberty girls versus the Sullivan West girls. After several minutes of throwing and dodging action, the Liberty girls prevailed.
In the next two games, the SW boys beat the Liberty boys and the SW girls topped the T-V girls.
The Liberty girls and Liberty boys then defeated the T-V girls and T-V boys in the next two games.
In the girls’ final, Liberty stopped SW.
The members of the Liberty girls’ team included: Caitlin Baker, Alanna Bierstine, Jessica Diaz, Michelle Fancher, Miranda Hardy, Valerie LaGattuta, Monique Mathis, Brittany Melchick, Maggie Sauchuk and Ellyn Wingert.
In the boys’ final, Liberty defeated SW.
The members of the Liberty boys’ team included: Sam Atkins, Matt Baxter, Troy Bertholf, Andre Brand, Kane Davis, Sean Dinnerstein, Mark Ford, Ben Froelich, Justin Garritt, Justin Green, Kelly Hamlin, Scott Hamlin, Mike LaGattuta, Eddie Lopez, Justen Mills, Pat Murphy, Rajan Patel, Zach Reising, Jeff Simpson, Gregg Skiff, John Snyder, Trevor Tompkins, Joey Torres and Nick Vazquez.
Garritt, who noted that he has helped to organize three dodgeball tournaments at Liberty Central School in the past, was very pleased with the three-school competition.
“Everything is going really well tonight,” he said during the 10-minute halftime. “Everybody is having fun and I’m happy with the event.
“I hope they do this again next year,” Garritt added.
Like Garritt, Skidmore and Stabbert felt the tourney was very successful.
“We are not allowed to play dodgeball in our school, so we were excited to come over and play in the tournament,” Skidmore said. “Even though we lost, we all had fun.”
“This was fun,” Stabbert said. “It was nice to play against our rivals.”