BURNT HILLS — A career as the most decorated girls’ volleyball coach in Section II history was never in Gary Bynon’s plans.
“Way back then, I just wanted to coach basketball,” Bynon said. “I never coached or played volleyball, they just told me, ‘In two weeks you start as the coach.’
And, as Bynon nears what he believes will be the waning years of his storied coaching career, he’s back on the basketball court at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake this winter. Nearly 25 years after his first stint as a varsity basketball coach with the Burnt Hills boys’ team from 1990-97, Bynon is coaching the girls’ squad this winter.
Which, of course, made for an interesting start to preseason, as Bynon was getting things going with the basketball team at the same time as he was coaching the Burnt Hills girls’ volleyball team to an eighth New York state championship.
“We did them both,” Bynon said. “Slept well last week.”
That season wrapped up last Sunday when the Spartans hoisted the Class A championship plaque with their victory over Walter Panas at Cool Insuring Arena, and by Monday the focus for Bynon — and a few of his volleyball players who are playing for him again this winter — had moved on to hoops.
Three members of Bynon’s state championship volleyball team will be suiting up for him on the basketball court this winter — seniors Carlie Rzeszotarski and Callie Chevalier, along with freshman Sarah Robbins.
Rzeszotarski, a Colgate volleyball commit who was the 2020-21 Gatorade New York State Girls’ Volleyball Player of the Year and the most valuable player of last weekend’s Class A state tournament, is returning to basketball after taking off during last winter’s season that saw the Spartans go 3-9 during a condensed, six-week schedule played under restrictions brought on by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“You get really emotional when you coach kids like that and spend so much time with them,” said Bynon, whose team will open its season Dec. 3 against Troy at the Averill Park Tip-Off Tournament. “It’s nice to still be able to work with them. Sunday, the volleyball piece was a storybook ending, but to be able to come back into practice and work with them, it’s good stuff.”
Bynon, who coached the junior varsity girls’ basketball team last winter, is hoping to impart on the program some of the philosophies that have produced his legendary volleyball teams.
“Trying to change a little bit of the thought process here in the program,” he said. “I’m getting pretty close to calling it one of these years. I wanted another chance to coach basketball, and I saw that opportunity.
“You’ve got some good athletes here. And, more than that, they’re great kids. They want to learn. We did some good stuff last week, but now we’re starting to get into the nitty-gritty.”