BENNINGTON >> Thanks to a snowstorm that just missed Vermont but slammed into Rhode Island and eastern Massachusetts, the annual Senior Night matchup between the Mount Anthony wrestling team and New England foe Bishop Hendricken was canceled with the Hawks stuck in traffic on the Massachusetts Turnpike.
But that didn't stop the Patriots and hundreds of current and former wrestlers and coaches from honoring long-time coach Scott Legacy, who was supposed to coach his final home dual meet on Friday as he moves to start the brand new Castleton University program.
"It's humbling," said Legacy, talking about the number of people that came for the ceremony. "I'm glad I was able to pull it together and talk a little bit, it means the world to me. I didn't know the scale that people would show up and I heard from a lot of alumni that couldn't be here who live [far away]."
With the gym packed, the voice of the Patriots, Mark Upright, had the unenviable task of telling the crowd that the match was canceled. He went on to start the ceremony for Legacy, reading off some of the state, regional and national awards he's won over the years.
Legacy has nearly 700 dual meet wins in his career, a number that puts him at 15th all-time in the country. He's coached 178 state champions, more than double the next closest person on the list. He's coached 27 straight state championship teams, a record that is the most in the nation in wrestling and fifth in any high school sport. He's won eight New England titles, a number no other coach can match and the Patriots have finished in the top 3 at New Englands 19 times in Legacy's 30 years leading MAU.
"My biggest thanks goes to my wife and my son [Scott II] and daughter [Amber], they gave up a lot of time with me, it's not easy to give up as much as they did," Legacy said.
Athletic director Tim Brown awarded Legacy with a plaque and a varsity letter, and Brown read the caption on the plaque as Legacy became emotional.
Then his nephew, Damian (DJ), read a letter from his father, and Scott's older brother, Shawn, who got Scott into wrestling way back when. Shawn wasn't at Friday's ceremony because he was in Brattleboro at his daughter Brianna's basketball game. His mom, Marie, attended, but his dad Harold has been ill and was unable to be at the ceremony.
"My brother's speech was superb. It was heartfelt and touching. It meant a lot and the letter was accurate, our parents always told us to put our kids first, so I understand what was going on," Legacy said. "I know he was torn up about [which event to attend]."
Before the night's festivities, some of the alumni talked to the current crop of Patriots in the wrestling room.
"The biggest thing I heard is that guys talked about it's 15 years later and I still hear Coach Legacy's voice in my head when I'm getting ready to make a decision," Legacy said with a laugh. "It's more real to hear that then it used to be. When I was younger and I used to hear about my career it used to bounce off me, I didn't think much of it. Now coming to the tail end of my high school career, to hear them say I made a positive impact is just amazing.
It's a battle sometimes, when they see me talking to the kids, I can be intense, but I'm not always talking about wrestling. I'm talking about life lessons they learned on the mat, that they need to apply off it, how to bounce back and have a short memory."
After that, all the seniors were honored, including Calvin Call, Tyler Raetz, Austin Condo, Zach Sauer, Dakota King, Bryce Bush and Zac Oldham, along with support staff members Mariah Sauer-Yerke and Mackenzie Glanovsky.
Then the team went through their warm-up, the seniors for the final time at MAU.
Afterward, some of Legacy's former wrestlers talked about what it means to be a part of the MAU program.
"It's amazing, coming in helping coach, he's inspired me to do so many things," said Jimmy Zupko. "If it weren't for him, I wouldn't have ever come to school. I look up to him, he's a father figure, someone to go to when I need it, he's always there to help out."
Bishop Hendricken will take part in Legacy's last official home event, Saturday for the Mount Anthony Duals.
"It's a family and everyone who's here pitches in and that's the epitome of it all, that's what family's all about," Legacy said.