Alex Mancini has worn several hats in his athletic tenure at Fonda-Fultonville Central School. Come June, he’ll be replacing them all with a golf cap.
The school’s former football coach announced Friday that he’ll be retiring as its athletic director after 19 years in the position. Mancini will also be ending his 32-year career as a social studies teacher.
“When I got out of coaching, I could have done it for a few more years, but I didn’t want it to become all consuming,” Mancini said. “This is the same kind of situation. I’m 55 years old. I’ve got 32 years in, and it’s time to move on to something else.
“I got to work with a lot of quality student-athletes, and a great number of quality coaches. Some of them are still here. It’s been a very rewarding experience.”
Mancini has overseen a sports program that’s produced numerous league and Section II team and individual champions.
“We’ve had a pretty good run, especially over the last 10 years,” Mancini said. “Our cross country, basketball and baseball teams, to name a few, have been very successful.”
Fonda-Fultonville athletes have competed in several leagues during Mancini’s near two-decade run as the Braves’ AD.
“I guess you could say I’m part of the transition team,” he said. “When we went from the Tri-Valley League to the WAC [Western Athletic Conference], I was part of that, and two years ago, we moved to the Colonial Council. We went from being the big fish in the pond to being in the middle. We’re still kind of finding our way, but we’re going to be OK.”
Mancini’s football teams competed in the Tri-Valley League, Northern Adirondack League, Capital Conference and the Section II Class B circuit, and had success at every stop. In his 21-year run that began in 1985, his Braves went 149-46-1, won 11 league championships and reached eight Section II title games with victories in 1987 and 1999.
Mancini coached his sons, Mike and Matt, who, like their dad, played quarterback for the Braves.
“That was a fun experience, working with my boys,” said Mancini.
Mancini played at Cortland and served as a graduate assistant at the college for a year. He began his teaching and high school coaching career at Mohawk in 1980. Following a four-year stint there (his teams went 19-12-1), he served as an assistant coach at Fonda-Fultonville for a year, and then took over the head coaching spot.
“I’ve got a great wife and two healthy, successful sons,” said Mancini. “I did what I wanted to do for 32 years. A lot of people can’t say that. I consider myself very fortunate.”
Stahler departs with titles
Marie Stahler has stepped down as Canajoharie’s varsity girls’ basketball coach after a 10-season run which was capped by a pair of Western Athletic Conference championships.
The Cougars shared the WAC Northern Division title with Fort Plain this season at 11-1, and shared the WAC Southern Division championship with Berne-Knox-Westerlo last season at 10-2.
The Cougars also won the WAC overall crown in 2010-11, and went 16-3 overall.
“Canajoharie hadn’t won a title in 37 years. That was a very special group. It was nice to see the girls believe in themselves, work for it, and get it done,” Stahler said of her 2010-11 team that won 11 straight games to begin the season, and beat Galway and Berne-Knox-Westerlo in the WAC tournament. “That was a great group of people, very dedicated and unselfish. It was such a nice feeling to see them accomplish that.”
Stahler’s daughter, Mackenzie, played a key role in attaining both of the titles, and is currently considering several colleges where she’ll continue her basketball career. Stahler’s son, Payton, is a member of the St. Lawrence University team.
“I want to see my kids play. I need my Friday nights off,” said Stahler, a math teacher at East Hill Middle School. “That was the No. 1 thing.”
Stahler played basketball at Fonda-Fultonville and St. Lawrence, and began her coaching career at Broadalbin in 1980.
“I was in 10th grade when Title IX was passed, and it was a battle in those early years,” said Stahler. “All I ever wanted to do was make things better for girls in sports.”
Stahler coached at Broadalbin and Broadalbin-Perth for eight seasons, where her varsity teams won 104 games and three Tri-Valley League titles, and twice made it to Section II finals.
She coached one of the area’s all-time great basketball players in Katrina Springer. The 1988 Broadalbin-Perth graduate holds the Section II single-game record with 54 points, and is No. 2 all-time with 2,704 career points.
“She never played basketball before seventh grade,” Stahler said. “I use that as inspiration when I’m coaching young kids. I tell them it’s all about drive and focus.”
Stahler’s teams won a combined 226 games, with her last edition gaining 14 victories.
“We’ve got some really good players coming up. I didn’t want to leave the program on a bad note,” said Stahler. “I think we have a chance to win it [WAC] again. There’s talented girls coming through.”
Schalmont High School football and wrestling standout Nick Gallo has won a National Leadership Grant sponsored by NCSA Athletic Recruiting and the National Football League Players Asociation.
The Leadership Grant is awarded to a select national pool of student-athletes who qualify based on leadership in their community, academic and athletic achievement, and a required written essay.
As a recipient, Gallo and his family will receive assistance from the National Collegiate Scouting Association in finding the right college fit.
Gallo picked up his 100th wrestling victory this season and captured both the Section II Division II Class 1 title and Section II Division II overall championship at 152 pounds.
Gallo’s play at linebacker helped Schalmont’s football team repeat as the West Division, Section II Class B and regional champion.
Running star commits
Shaker senior Mike Libruk, a cross country and track champion, has made a verbal commitment to attend Tennessee of the Southeastern Conference.
Libruk was named to the all-state first team following the cross country season. He helped Shaker win Suburban Council and Section II Class A titles with first-place runs, and also helped Shaker claim the Federation championship with a fourth-place effort.
Libruk’s indoor track season included victories in the 1,000 and 1,500 at the Section II Division I meet, which the Blue Bison won for the fourth straight time.
Schenectady soccer star Gabrielle Santorio signed with Tennessee in February.