Rotterdam

Heels vs. cleats: Timing of prom, softball game cause Mohonasen girls to make decision

Mohonasen varsity softball players (L-R) senior Alexa Pavone, sophomore Martiza Gonzalez and senior Angelina Galusha at prom arrival at Mohonasen High School in Rotterdam on Friday, May 20, 2022.
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Mohonasen varsity softball players (L-R) senior Alexa Pavone, sophomore Martiza Gonzalez and senior Angelina Galusha at prom arrival at Mohonasen High School in Rotterdam on Friday, May 20, 2022.

ROTTERDAM – When the first pitch was thrown at noon Friday for Mohonasen’s Section II Class A softball playoff game against Troy, Mohonasen player Alexa Pavone was sitting in a salon chair, getting her hair done for prom.

Several players from the team had to make the decision to go to prom or play in sectionals after their originally scheduled game Thursday was postponed due to rain. The game was then moved to a noon start on Friday, following some back and forth between the teams and Section II organizers. 

Pavone said Thursday when the team found out that it was a stressful decision. 

“I feel very selfish for putting myself first and going to prom,” she said. 

The decision was made a little easier because her best friends who are also on the team – senior Angelina Galusha and sophomore Maritza Gonzalez – were both going to prom as well. 

Galusha said that’s one of the reasons she felt better about going as well. 

There were at least six girls that decided to go to prom over the game, said Jaime Galusha, Angelina’s mother.

It was also something Pavone said she had thought about since freshman year, when she had watched the older girls get their dresses, take pictures and do the walk-in at school. 

This year, it was her turn. But the obstacles, she said, made the day a little harder. 

The knowledge they had all likely played their last softball game together also stung.

“I played my last softball game with my two best friends without knowing it,” Pavone said. 

While they were spending prom together on Friday, Gonzalez was having a hard time not crying Thursday evening as she spoke about having played her last game with her best friends, whom she always took a picture with at the end of the game. 

“I kind of just wanted one more game,” she said. 

All the girls said they didn’t want to disappoint their coach, nor their team. 

“I feel bad for my team because obviously I love my team and I want them to win,” Gonzalez said. 

The mothers of the girls said this is a decision they shouldn’t have had to make, considering they didn’t have a junior prom last year due to covid, appointments had been scheduled and dresses had been bought. Nicole Pavone said her daughter’s prom was costing around $1,500. That’s with an $800 dress, $100 auto rental, hair and makeup at $135 each. That’s not counting shoes, nails, jewelry and more. Angelina Galusha’s was less, but still over $1,000, and Gonzalez’s dress cost around $500 alone, Nicole Pavone said. 

It also takes a long time to get ready.

“Even if they’re doing their own hair and makeup there’s still not enough time to play a game, come home, get ready and then be ready for pictures beforehand and the walk-in,” Jaime Galusha said. “I mean I get it prom starts later in the day, but this is kind of a big deal.” 

The parents said they were also upset not to see the girls be able to play in one more game. 

“In my mind I was like we had one more game to watch,” Pavone said. “But we got robbed of that.”

The parents don’t blame Mohonasen Superintendent Shannon Shine for the issue. 

“I think he really did try,” Angelina Galusha said about Shine trying to get the game changed. 

Upon learning about the conflict, the superintendent cleared his schedule and trying to resolve the problem became priority, Shine said in email correspondence with parents that was provided to the Gazette.

“When I learned of the situation in the first place, I, like you, thought the matter was unacceptable and I have done all that is in my power to change the situation and to advocate for our Lady Warriors,” Shine wrote. “The hard truth is that I do not always prevail and do not always get what I want, no matter how hard I want it or how hard I try, especially when some of the rules involved and the final decisions are not mine to make. I am unable to dictate my acceptable terms to either Section II or to Troy.”

The parents said the games could’ve been played over the weekend. However, in emails Shine said organizers noted the heat index being too high Saturday and staffing issues for Troy on Sunday as reasons for not being able to change the date. 

The prom vs. sports scenario plays out nearly every spring, with conflicts often arising in crucial situations for area teams.

Shenendehowa baseball coach Greg Christodulu remembers his squad looking to complete a memorable doubleheader — a NYSPSAA Class AA regional win at Joe Bruno Stadium in Troy followed by the players’ senior prom — in 2016.

“I don’t think one’s more important than the other but they have to coexist,” Christodulu said. “I mean, what better to punch your ticket to a Final Four and go to the prom? It’s a special day in everyone’s life.”

The 2016 team went on to become Class AA state champions and included current NBA Atlanta Hawks guard Kevin Huerter and MLB Atlanta Brave World Series champion pitcher Ian Anderson.

Two years later, Amsterdam girls’ track and field coach Stu Palczak saw a similar situation happen when his team’s 4×400 relay squad of Brenda Santana, Olivia Lazarou, Gabby Stanavich and Lauren Santiago was running in the Section II state qualifier at Shenendehowa on the same day as Amsterdam’s Senior Ball.

The foursome sprinted to a victory in the last girls’ race of the day, then immediately went into party mode.

“They got dressed at Shenendehowa after they qualified — and of course, 4×400’s always last,” said Palczak, who said his current team practiced Friday morning at 10 a.m., with several girls opting out to get ready for Amsterdam’s junior prom in the evening. “I remember Shen being very cooperative and helpful in letting the kids go into the school and get dressed, then shoot down to wherever they were holding the prom.”

“I think,” he added, “I was more anxious for them than they were.”

More conflicts could be ahead this year, something Christodulu’s well aware of. Class AA baseball and softball regional games are both being held June 4 this year, the same date of Shenendehowa’s senior prom.

“There are just not enough dates in the spring to satisfy all the activities that come to wrapping up an academic year,” Christodulu said. “The calendar is just stuffed with awards nights, proms, games, activities, students supporting one another at different programs.

“It’s always been the case, it’s not gonna get easy, it’s not going to get any better. That’s how the spring is.”

Section II is made up of 94 high schools and the organization conducts eight different sectional tournaments in the spring. Section II Executive Director Ed Dopp said the dates of sectional play and rain dates were published in March. 

He said date change requests are allowed by mutual agreement and approval by his office. However, those changes are only allowed under “unforeseen extenuating circumstances.”

He said the league presidents and the full Athletic Council are reminded in April and May that dates won’t be changed for school-related events such as prom. 

“The fact is we just do not have enough playable dates if we were to avoid everyone’s events,” Dopp said. “Because we can’t avoid them all, we don’t avoid any.”

Reporters Adam Shinder and Stan Hudy contributed to this article. Reporter Shenandoah Briere can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @SB_DailyGazette. 

Categories: News, Rotterdam, Schenectady County

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