Fallsburg cross country trail designer and financier Brian Cavanagh during construction of the course. He noted that large rocks had to be pried out of the ground as winter was setting in.
Story by Eli Ruiz
SOUTH FALLSBURG November 22, 2013 Fallsburg High School’s cross country trail completed in November of 2012 was literally built on “technology.”
Back in the late 90s during the height of dot com mania Fallsburg cross county/track and field coach Brian Cavanagh made a $27,000 investment in a fledgling web-crawler-based search engine named Inktomi. “It was considered the Google of its time,” says Cavanagh. “It took my wife and I dozens of years of saving $2,000 a year to reach that initial $27,000.”
Doubling his money on that initial investment, Cavanagh decided to try his luck again, the very next day. “I think I have a good nose for tech stocks, I’d do my research but some of those early investments were gut feeling,” he offered.
So Cavanagh took another gamble, this one of the $46,000 variety, on a company fresh off its Initial Public Offering (IPO). This one was called eBay.
A month later Cavanagh’s investment looked like a loser: “It went from the initial $46,000 down to just $26,000.”
But just a month later, e-bay’s stock exploded and Cavanagh’s holdings were now worth $85,000. That was just the beginning within a year, his portfolio ballooned into a $762,000 windfall.
“I went out and bought a new car, a hot tub, and went to Disney World,” said Cavanagh. “My son Kieran was also born that same November and I said to my wife, ‘well, his college is now paid for.’”
A few years later Cavanagh would unload his eBay stock and invest in Apple. “When I bought the Apple stock I said, ‘any proceeds that I can earn from this I’m going to commit toward the cross country trail building project at Fallsburg,’” said Cavanagh.
Once again his investment would pay dividends as his $25,000 in Apple soon doubled.
Cavanagh wanted to give to his athletes and the community, much like when he first began his initiative to revive the Fallsburg track program in 1986 and purchased much-needed equipment out of his own pocket. And that was before he scored in the market.
“I just found it a lot easier and quicker to buy the things myself rather than wait for budgeting approvals and such,” relates Cavanagh.
In November of 2008, with stock proceeds in hand, Cavanagh turned his attention to getting a proper cross country trail built at Fallsburg High School.
“Early on in getting a new cross country trail built, we had more than 110 volunteers, primarily students,” he says. “We’d be out there working with axes, shovels, moving rocks and boulders, and cutting out routes. It was tough work, but these kids were having fun doing it.”
After the hard work was done, Cavanagh, who plotted and designed the trail, paid for Nastro Construction to come in and grub it.
“Once we had a trail that was 8 to 10 feet wide the next step was to bring in gravel and surge stone,” explained Cavanagh.
Nastro Construction eventually carved out over 3,600 feet of trail on a 49-acre parcel on the grounds of the school. Aproximately 650 square feet of gravel was trucked in to complete the new circuit.
“These guys [Nastro Construction] were working up to 12-hour days out there, even into November ,” says Cavanagh.
On November 17, 2012, four full years from when Cavanagh and his army of volunteers started the work with hand tools, Fallsburg High School opened its new cross country course. In addition to the hundreds of hours are labor, Cavanagh contributed a total of $48,000 of his own money to the project.
And he’s recieved lots of positive feedback. “When the Sullivan Striders running club (of which Cavanagh is one of the founding members) ran on the trail, “they absolutely loved it,” he said. “We hosted Newburgh, Goshen, the Family School and Burke and all the teams had tons of positive things to say about the trail. The kids feel it’s a fair yet challenging course. They say it’s fun and that it’s beautiful. They love it!”
As for his part in building the school’s new cross country trail, Cavanagh defers the credit to all the volunteers who helped make it a reality.
“Sure I spent some money on it but ultimately this was the joint project of more than 110 people, plus the school district,” explains Cavanagh. “Without even one of those individuals or entities, the final project would not have been completed.”
“If I’d just kept all that money to myself...well, anybody can do that, and I just don’t see that as a noble thing to do,” says Cavanagh.
“What is noble is to help people out. We have a responsibility as humans, and in society, to help people out, and we should. Plus the end result was just absolutely worth it. It’s just gorgeous.”