BROADALBIN — In 2019, Broadalbin-Perth athletic director Tucker Gifford was juggling three jobs at once. Now, he’s down to just one.
Gifford, the Patriots’ boys’ varsity basketball coach since the 2004-05 season, also led the girls’ varsity program from 2017-2019. After 18 seasons at the helm of the boys program, he decided to step down from that position to devote his time to leading the district’s athletics as a whole.
“It was more of a time commitment thing from my end,” Gifford said. “By focusing on the athletic director position, now I can spend a lot of time with every sport.”
As athletic director, Gifford was in the unique position of finding his replacement as boys’ basketball coach.
“It’s not every day that you get to hire your replacement,” he said. “It was definitely a different experience for me.”
Last month, Jonathan Randolph was named to replace Gifford.
“I think he saw a little bit of himself in me,” Randolph said. “I’m trying to continue the legacy of the program and push it forward if I can.”
The new coach is a Niskayuna graduate and has coached at his alma mater at various levels.
“I was the junior varsity coach for four years. I also coached the freshman team and I was a varsity assistant under Ben Smith,” Randolph said.
He is excited as he prepares for his first opportunity to lead at the varsity level.
“I can’t wait to get started. I’m beyond happy to have the job,” he said. “I’m just thankful that I was able to get an interview and grateful that I was considered.”
Gifford said that he thinks Randolph will do well as his successor.
“We were fortunate to find a coach who I believe is an up and comer,” he said. “He’s had a lot of experience at Niskayuna and I think he’s ready to take the next step here. I think he’ll do well and he fits what we’re looking for here.”
For Gifford, it means that for the first time since the 2003-04 season, when he served as an assistant to Jim Zullo, that he won’t be shepparding the Patriots through the season.
“I’ve been with the program for a long time. In fairness to the boys’ basketball program, I know what you need to invest to have a successful program,” Gifford said. “I think we were able to find a good replacement.”
RUSSOM NAMED GIRLS’ COACH
In addition to a new boys’ coach, Broadalbin-Perth also will have a new girls’ coach as Casey Russom takes over for David Bush.
Russom, the boys’ basketball coach at Fort Plain for the past 11 seasons, was also appointed last month.
“I think the girls’ program is fortunate to have found such an experienced coach,” Gifford said. “Even though he’s been a boys’ coach for several years, I think Casey will do really well with our girls’ team.”
For Russom, the move to Broadalbin-Perth means he will be coaching his daughter Molly, a sophomore, while also being able to watch his son Landon, a junior.
“The whole idea for me with stepping down was to be able to see more of my kids’ games,” the new coach said. “I was planning to sit in the stands, but when this opportunity came up, I felt it was too good to pass up. It will be nice to see my kids play. I’ll be coaching Molly, and Landon’s games will be on the other nights. That was my No. 1 goal for making this move.”
In addition to spending more time with his children, Russom will be coaching alongside his wife, who was named assistant coach.
“My wife, Marcie, is going to be a varsity assistant for the girls’ team,” he said. “I think it will give the girls an opportunity to be around a great female coach and I think she will be a great influence on the girls.”
In his final season at Fort Plain, Russom led the Hilltoppers to an 18-5 overall record and the Section II Class C championship game, where they dropped a 64-60 decision to Maple Hill.
“It was a hard decision to step down from Fort Plain. I love the kids there, especially last year’s group,” Russom said. “I’ve coached something or another my entire time in Fort Plain, so I’ll miss it for sure.”
One thing that Russom won’t miss is the travel to and from games.
“That will definitely be a nice change,” he said. “There were plenty of times when we would go through Broadalbin on our way back to Fort Plain, and when I got to Fort Plain, I had to drive back home to Broadalbin.”
Russom said he’s looking forward to taking over the Patriots’ girls’ program.
“I’m kind of intrigued as to how it will go. It will be an exciting and new journey,” he said. “I’m going to have the same expectations for the girls that I always have for my team. It’s really not that different. We have a great group of girls at the upper levels. I’m hoping that that group inspires the younger group to get more involved. The older girls have a tremendous job of working hard and committing to the sport.”
After coaching boys’ basketball in the Western Athletic Conference for more than a decade, Russom also will be adjusting to coaching girls’ basketball in the Foothills Council.
“There’s going to be a learning curve as far as understanding the different teams in the Foothills Council,” he said. “I saw most of the girls’ varsity games last year, so I know what to expect a little bit.”
Gifford said that he is optimistic about both of his new hires.
“I’m impressed with both of our new basketball coaches. I think they’re both going to do a great job for us,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what happens.”
Categories: High School Sports