Don Arceneaux used to send signals to his daughter Abby when she was on the pitching mound for Mechanicville High School’s softball team.
“I was an assistant coach then,” Don Arceneaux said. “I called the game and she pitched. It was a lot of fun for me. We had a connection.”
The father and daughter duo have another connection now that they’ve been tabbed for induction into the new Mechanicville High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
“My mom [Ginny] works at the school, and she was the first to know,” Abby Arceneaux said. “When she told me my first thought was, ‘Wow, that’s really awesome. First class and I’m in it.’ My second thought was why isn’t dad in? I thought maybe because he was still coaching. That’s when my mom said, “That’s the second part, he made it, too,’ and I was so elated.
“He’s my best friend, mentor and hero. He’s amazing.”
The inaugural hall of fame class will have three other coaches, seven additional former athletes and a powerhouse basketball team joining the multi-time state softball champions at a mid-October sports celebration.
“It’s awesome,” Don Arceneaux said. “It feels great. You and your kid going in together, it doesn’t get any better.”
No Section II softball program has been better than Mechanicville in terms of state-level success, with the Red Raiders reaching the semifinals 10 times from 2000 through 2014 and claiming six New York championships. The Arceneaux family, which includes Abby’s younger sister Anna, played a significant role in each one of those titles.
“I’m assuming down the road all of those [state championship] teams will get in [the hall of fame],” Don Arceneaux, the Red Raiders head coach since 2003, said. “When a girl wins three state titles in a row like Abby did, that kind of separates her.
“She was a player, not just a pitcher. She could have played any position, and she batted over .500 as a senior.”
That was in 2002 when she hit .516 with 30 RBIs and went 19-4 in the circle, and was the winning pitcher for the third straight year in the state Class C championship game.
Arceneaux hurled a one-hitter in the regional final that year and a no-hitter in the state semifinals.
“Looking back, no one in Mechanicville had won a state championship except for a soccer team [girls, 1988],” Abby Arceneaux said. “My dad thought we could get there, and to do it and do it over and over again, it was just unbelievable.”
Abby Arceneaux was named the state Class C Player of the Year as a senior after sharing the honor as a junior, and went on to enjoy an All-American career at Union College, where she helped her teams reach four NCAA tournaments with her pitching and hitting.
“It’s nice,” Don Arceneaux said. “There’s a lot of good history in Mechanicville. Abby is a big part of it. She’s had a lot of accolades.”
Abby Arceneaux was inducted into the New York State Softball Hall of Fame earlier this summer. Her dad introduced her.
“I always thought it was the coolest thing going up to Amsterdam to watch my father pitch [in a fast-pitch league],” Abby Arceneaux said. “He was feisty and competitive and those games were super intense. I wanted to do what they were doing. Who knows? I might not have gotten into softball if he wasn’t pitching way back then.”
Since taking over as Mechanicville’s head coach for Sean Hunter, Don Arceneaux has had his share of honors, too, like the first of three state Coach of the Year awards in 2005 after his Red Raiders captured the New York Class C crown and set a school record for wins by going 30-1.
“When Sean let it go, some people thought it was over,” the 56-year-old Arceneaux said. “What happened after that was kind of fun. I took over the travel team and the kids got on board. We had two years where we had to regroup and then we rock and rolled.”
Mechanicville lost in the state Class B final in 2006, but was back on top in 2008 and 2009 with New York flags at the Class C and Class B levels, respectively.
“It’s incredible what he’s done at Mechanicville,” Abby Arceneaux said. “He has such a small pool of girls.”
Anna Arceneaux was the winning pitcher in those state title runs during her freshman and sophomore years in 2008-09 and earned state POY awards.
“Coaches have asked me, ‘What do you do different than other people?’ ” Don Arceneaux, who is nearing 300 victories, said. “I take a lot of younger kids. Some coaches won’t do that, but my thinking is if they’re good enough to play, I take them. They get better and better, and as juniors and seniors, look out.”
Abby Arceneaux was in eighth grade when she started her varsity softball career.
“The older girls I played with took me under their wing,” she said. “We did that when we got older. They still do that. It’s part of the tradition there.”
Each of Don Arceneaux’s seven Section II title-winning teams followed with a regional championship and state final four berth, the Red Raiders’ last of those coming in 2014. None of his teams have ever finished with a losing record.
“I’ve never had a kid I didn’t like,” the veteran coach said. “The kids and the parents have been amazing.”
The elder Arceneaux serves as a volunteer assistant coach at The College of Saint Rose where Abby has been the head coach since August of 2013. She had previous collegiate coaching stints at Union, Siena and Cornell.
The Mechanicville Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held Oct. 15 at the Mechanicville-Stillwater Elks Lodge.
Hall of Fame Class
Team: Boys basketball 1951-53 (“Whiz Kids”) coached by Bill Kalbaugh.
Athletes: Nick Perrotta (1944 graduate), Raymond Waldron (1950), Rev. Dan Nolan (1954), Chris Tironi (1983), Joe Cocozzo (1988), Jenny Sparano (1990), Kevin Ferrone (2000), Abby Arceneaux (2002).
Coaches: Don Arceneaux, Mike Martone, Dick Stipano, Ted Weigle.
Contributors: Chris Sgambati, Antony (Taw) Anatriello.
MAILEY NETS SCHOLARSHIP
Scotia-Glenville graduate Gracie Mailey has been awarded with an Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association Jack Bauman Scholarship which is based on athletic success, academic accomplishment and community service.
Aside from her four varsity seasons with the Scotia-Glenville soccer team, Mailey competed for the Albany Alleycats and served as a referee. She was honored for her classroom work on numerous occasions including an Academic Achievement Award, and for her performances on the the violin, which included induction into the Tri-M Music Honor Society.
“My opportunities in life increased tremendously when I was adopted from China at nine months old,” Mailey wrote in an essay which was part of her scholarship application. “My parents wanted me to try different activities to find out what I was most interested in pursuing. I took dance, gymnastics, violin and piano lessons. I played softball, basketball, lacrosse and soccer. I love all sports but once I started playing soccer, I never stopped.”
Mailey was selected the Tartans most valuable player following her senior soccer season, and was named a first-team Foothills Council and Section II Class A all-star. She had 46 goals and 30 assists in four-year varsity soccer career.
She helped Scotia-Glenville win a Section II soccer championship as a junior and a Section II lacrosse title as a 12th-grader, her only year playing the sport. She scored a goal in both finals.