Bob McGuire was not on the interview committee for Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake’s new director of physical education and athletics, but he gave a big thumbs-up to the guy they picked to replace him.
McGuire has seen Joe Scalise in action, and seen him get things done.
“He’s a very reputable individual in the Suburban Council,” McGuire said of the 37-year-old Scalise. “I’m very comfortable with him. He has that enthusiasm you need.”
Scalise is moving from one Suburban Council school district to another, having spent the last eight years as Mohonasen’s director of physical education, athletics and health education.
“Mohonasen is a great place. I’ve enjoyed it and built great relationships,” said Scalise. “I have nothing but positives to say about my experience there, but this was a great opportunity for me. It’s something I’m excited to be a part of.”
Scalise was selected for the BH-BL athletic director position from a pool of over 40 candidates. The interviews were conducted last month, and his appointment by the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Board of Education became official on July 1.
He begins his new job Aug. 1, taking over an athletic program that has grown to be among the state’s finest, in terms of victories, as well as academic success. Three times, Burnt Hills has been honored by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association as a Scholar-Athlete School of Distinction.
“Both of my kids play in the [Burnt Hills] youth lacrosse program. From that experience, going through the [interview] process and now getting ready to transition, you see how the the community, coaches and athletes all set high goals for themselves,” said Scalise. “There are high standards, high expectations. They are looking to excel. I have the same goals.”
Scalise said he’s anxious to make a difference as BH-BL’s fifth athletic director, but knows from his days at Mohonasen that there is a process.
“The first thing I’ll do is meet with the coaches and physical education teachers and try to get a better understanding of the district. Then, I will evaluate and develop a plan for the future,” said the former Suburban Council president and co-president of the Mohonasen Administrators Association. “There are a lot of great things going on at Burnt Hills, athletically and academically, and we want to move forward and improve. It’s about providing a positive experience for the students.”
McGuire was in a similar situation as Scalise when, as a 38-year-old, he departed as Hoosick Falls’ AD to take the Burnt Hills post, which he held for 18 years.
“I think, basically, you have to look at what you have and take a little time before you do anything to improve what you have,” McGuire said. “Joe has the energy to keep it going forward. It’s not going to be the same ‘ol’, same ‘ol.’ ”
At Mohonasen three years ago, Scalise was instrumental in securing a $1.8 million Carol White Physical Education Program grant from the federal government. More recently, he helped facilitate the athletic portion of Mohonasen’s capital project that includes more than $3 million toward field and in-school renovations. That project will include a turf football field.
McGuire also helped secure a three-year PEP grant ($1.7 million) for BH-BL, and will oversee its last year of operation before retiring in September 2015. He is, at the same time, serving as facilities coordinator for the district’s “Building our 2nd Century” renovation project, which features a new athletic complex where the football field currently exists.
The Burnt Hills football, girls’ volleyball and baseball teams have all won state championships in recent years, and the high school four times has garnered New York State Sportswriters Association Kerr Cup titles for its outstanding overall success in state-level competitions.
“Burnt Hills has a great tradition of athletic and academic success,” said Scalise, a graduate of Kenmore West High School and SUNY-Brockport. “I’m looking forward to being part of that tradition.”
Scalise will work with 14 physical education instructors in the district, and 60 coaches who fill 94 positions in the 30 sports offered by Burnt Hills.
“When I hired people, I did not want to micromanage at all. I let the people run their programs, and if they had concerns, I wanted them to let me know,” said McGuire. “I think Joe will have the same philosophy.
“The first year, he’ll learn what people like and don’t like and have to adjust. If he needs help, I’ll be there.”
“An important aspect is to support the coaches. Supply them with the tools to be successful,” said Scalise.
Scalise coached soccer, lacrosse and track in the Phelps-Clifton School District, where he taught high school and middle school physical education before his move to Mohonasen. He is currently an assistant coach in the Schenectady youth hockey and Burnt Hills youth lacrosse programs, and a member of the Section II football and cheerleading committees.
Scalise was a driving force behind the Mohonasen Athletic Hall of Fame, which inducted its first class in 2009.