Hoosick Falls athletes bond at leader workshop


HOOSICK, N.Y. -- Going through a teeter-totter challenge where balance is paramount, Hoosick Falls senior three-sport athlete Shayne Richard, known for being a quiet leader on the field, was surprisingly vocal during the task to remain balanced -- something that surprised Panthers' athletic director and former girls soccer coach Tom Husser.

"He's usually very quiet, but he was coordinating how to stay on the [teeter-totter] without it hitting the ground and the kids respected him," Husser said. "He became a leader."

The activity was part of an summer Athlete Leadership trip where 26 athletes and seven coaches from Hoosick Falls went on a three-day event at Raquette Lake in the Adirondacks back in July.

Attendees worked on problem solving, team bonding, assuming leadership roles, and school pride -- it's the second year in a row that Hoosick Falls and superintendent Kenneth Facin has sent their athletes on such a trip.

"it was great watching one of our [bowlers] working side-by-side with a [football player]," Husser said. "It didn't matter what sport they played at school, here they were just a team."

That togetherness has been apparent in on-field results as well. In 2012, three of the four fall sports reached state play. Recently, the wrestling team has finished in the top three at sectional and class tournaments, while the girls soccer team and girls basketball teams have done well in the Class B and C tournaments.

Coaches Mike Lilac (baseball and boys basketball), Denise Campbell (field hockey), Brittney Pine (girls soccer), Landon Nelson (wrestling), Chris Farley (softball), Kevin Monahan (girls basketball) and Husser all worked side-by-side with the athletes on two ropes courses and an obstacle course.

"A lot of that success is that [many] of the coaches have done it for a long time," said Husser, who stepped down as soccer coach last season after 13 years leading the Panthers. "They build the whole program, not just varsity."

There was little down time for the athletes, kept busy with kayaking, canoeing or other activities, including wall-climbing and the rope courses. They also had nightly group meetings on "what is a leader" and brainstorming ideas of how and what athletes can do to make the program better.

"It's a good example with Shayne, he's a success story of the athletic development program," said football coach Ron Jones. "As his confidence has grown and he's had success in his sports, it's cool to watch him develop as a leader."

Those leadership skills play out for all the athletes off the field as well. As part of the trip, time is set aside to discuss issues including drugs, alcohol, academics and other things that affect high school athletes, like social media presence.

"Everyone looks out for everyone else, so that they make good decisions," Husser said. "Being a leader is about protecting your teammates. There's much more out there to test them now, so they have to grow up and mature quickly."

As fall sports approach, fans will see first-hand how the workshop works.

"The community support is amazing and the town takes pride in it," Husser said.


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