ROTTERDAM — Josh Whipple is a Mohonasen guy.
He excelled as a three-sport athlete there, and for well over a decade has taught seventh-grade social studies and coached youngsters in the school district where he resides.
For just as long, he’s been announcing home basketball games where he roots on a team he once helped win the Suburban Council Gold Division title with a timely steal.
“My first six years I taught at Guilderland,” the 42-year-old Whipple said. “A friend called and told me they had a position open up. I was living right by Mohonasen at the time. It’s one of the best decisions I ever made.”
That was in 2004, when Whipple replanted his roots, and in a way, Mohonasen is where he’ll remain for all time as one of the newest inductees into the district’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
The class of Mohonasen and Draper graduates, to be honored in March, will also include Erika Lewis, Debbie Wilday, Tom Middleton, David Naseman and Ken Palen.
“I would have never put my name in the ring,” Whipple said. “It’s quite an honor.”
A well deserved one for a championship-winning player and championship-winning coach, who led Mohonasen’s junior varsity football team to three straight Super Bowls from 2005-07 and victories in two of them.
“Great kids and a great coaching staff,” Whipple said of his three JV teams that went 22-5. “The kids were hungry and coachable. We had a great run.”
Whipple has spent 13 years on the Mohonasen football staff and is currently its modified coach, and this winter he’s working with a girls’ feeder basketball team that includes his fourth-grade daughter Payton.
“I want to see Mohonasen sports do well, and I do love working with the kids,” said Whipple, who graduated from the high school in 1994. “Being someone who grew up at Mohonasen, we had a lot of success, and I want them to have that.”
The College of Saint Rose graduate had other stints at Mohonasen coaching lower-level basketball, baseball and softball.
“Josh has excelled as a coach and teacher at Mohonasen,” said Kevin Cummings, who, with Whipple, co-chairs the Mohonasen Athletic Hall of Fame committee. “He has helped a lot of kids out in our district. He is also a great role model for our students.”
Whipple was a three-sport varsity letter winner in basketball, baseball and football, and as a junior quarterback and defensive end he helped Mohonasen’s football team set a record for wins (7-2) in 1992. The Mighty Warriors went 6-3 the next year, when Whipple was named to the Daily Gazette All-Area second team.
His basketball team that winter and his baseball team that spring won Suburban Council Gold Division titles. As a senior baseball player, Whipple batted .372, hit four home runs and was 2-for-2 in save opportunities.
“The coaches I had growing up, men like Gary Przybylo, Fred Saccocio and Bill Twaits, were awesome,” Whipple said. “I learned a lot about sports and character.”
The ninth Mohonasen Athletic Hall of Fame ceremony is scheduled for March 6 at Mallozzi’s Banquet House, and more information can be obtained through the Mohonasen High School athletic office (518 356-8275).
Lewis was a softball star at Mohonasen, LIU-Brooklyn, at the Empire State Games and with the Adirondack Ice before coaching at Siena and RPI, where she set a school record for wins (211) and guided her Engineers to three league titles and seven postseason berths from 2002-10.
The Mohonasen Female Athlete of the Year as a senior in 1992 played volleyball and basketball, as well as softball. On the diamond, her teams won three straight league titles from 1990-92 and reached the state final four in 1992.
Wilday was a rare four-sport varsity athlete at Mohonasen, playing volleyball, field hockey, basketball and softball, and was named the school’s most valuable athlete as a senior in 1975. She later played all but volleyball at Mohawk Valley Community College before joining the Galway staff, where she remains as a teacher, coach and athletic administrator.
Wilday’s varsity basketball and soccer teams have both won over 300 games. In 2009, she received Section II soccer’s prestigious Golden Threat Award.
“One of her greatest strengths is the ability to energize her students,” said Angel Whisher, Wilday’s volleyball coach at Mohonasen.
Wilday’s father, the late Bill Baker, was among the first class inducted into the Mohonasen Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009 and a driving force in its inception.
Middleton did a lot at Draper, competing in football as an all-county player, track, wrestling and basketball, and was an amateur speed skating champion, as well. Upon graduation in 1965, he continued his distinguished football career at Boston University, and later coached lower-level grid teams at Draper and Schalmont while serving as an active member of the Rotterdam community.
Naseman and Palen picked up where Middleton left off as a schoolboy stars in Rotterdam.
At Mohonasen Naseman excelled in soccer, basketball and baseball from 1964-67. So gifted, he would go on to play both soccer and basketball at Boston University.
Naseman’s 1966 Mohonasen soccer team was among the school’s best ever with an 18-1 record and Section II Class A-B championship. That same fall Palen was a key figure on Draper’s 7-0 Colonial Council championship football team.
Palen also made his mark in baseball and basketball, where he helped Draper win the 1966 Section II Class C-D title. As a senior in 1967 he was tabbed the co-Rotterdam Player of the Year for his hoop exploits.