SCHENECTADY — The arson fire that destroyed the athletic field house at Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons School in October has impacted much more than the Holy Trinity football team that calls it their home.
The school’s baseball, soccer and track and field teams all lost equipment in the blaze, and the track and field team will have to alter its practice plans while the facility located behind ND-BG on Albany Street is being rebuilt.
“A corner of the track has been fenced off,” Holy Trinity football coach John Barber said. “They can’t practice there.”
The Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons administration was informed recently by its contractor that the corner of the track closest to the field house falls within the safety zone necessary for demolition and reconstruction.
“Where it’s going to hurt us is the 400 and up, and the hurdles, which we liked to do on that side,” Golden Knights track and field coach Jonathan Broderick said. “We’ll have to work everything on the other side of the track. We’ll work around it.”
The track and field team lost or had damage done to jumping pit supplies, hurdles and starting blocks in the fire. Among other things lost or damaged was equipment used to maintain the school’s playing fields and surrounding grounds.
“A while back, I was told if I had anything in there to get it out,” Broderick said. “Our hurdles were melted. You could still smell it.”
The cinder track surrounds the football field and is used for physical education classes and ND-BG practices because it is not of meet regulation size. The Golden Knights, who compete in the Western Athletic Conference with such schools as Fort Plain, Canajoharie, Schoharie and Duanesburg, travel for all of their meets.
The track and jumping pit located behind the bleachers will be refurbished after the field house is rebuilt.
“We’re not building a new track,” Broderick said. “We’re repairing it.”
The nearby field house has yet to be torn down.
“Because of some things with the Diocese and the insurance contracts, it got delayed,” Barber said. “The original starting date was in January, and it was supposed to be done by early June. Then it was supposed to start March 6. Now it’s any day. It could be this week or next week. That’s pushed the completion to around the end of June into early July.”
“We’re all new to this process,” ND-BG athletc director Pat Moran said. “There are a lot of hoops to jump through; permits and this and that.”
Moran said new athletic equipment is in various stages of being ordered, on the way or already in house and ready for use.
“We’re slowly getting there,” Moran said.
The fire was started in the early morning hours on Friday, Oct. 21, a day before Holy Trinity was slated to make its first-ever appearance in the Section II playoffs. Donations poured in from individuals, businesses, high schools and colleges which enabled Holy Trinity — a mix of players from ND-BG and Catholic Central in Troy — to compete.
“Tamarac was there before school started and gave us $600, and the donations kept coming,” Barber said. “I was sure we were going to figure it out. You saw what happed a few hours later.”
Moran recalled sitting in the ND-BG garage in awe as the donations continued to come forth.
“The best part of the day for me was sitting there and this car pulls up,” Moran said. “A women takes a 20-dollar bill out of her pocket, hands it to us, and gets back in her car. She’s pulling away and then she stops again. A litle kid gets out and gives us another five dollars.”
Holy Trinity wore borrowed University at Albany road uniforms and borrowed helmets and shoulder pads from Connecticut athletic gear company Stadium System in a
42-12 Class C quarterfinal loss at Hoosic Valley.
“We’re about to kick off and some guy I’m guessing is from Hoosic Valley gives me an envelope with money in it,” Barber said.
In its crossover game the following week, Holy Trinity donned the UAlbany uniforms again and wore helmets and shoulder pads given to them by sports equipment manufacturer Riddell in a 12-6 overtime loss at Watervliet.
“The insurance is close to what we need to build the field house, but we lost $70,000 in equipment that was not insured,” Barber said. “Donation-wise, we raised a pretty good amount and they [Riddell] gave us helmets and shoulder pads. We still need 20 helmets and 20 shoulder pads. We’re still short. We’re still fighting and struggling to get what we need.”
Several Holy Trinity players lost personal items that had been stored in plywood lockers that were built by Barber and assistant coaches Will Headen and his son, Colton.
“One kid lost a gold medal he got for his Confirmation,” Moran said.
Barber said Holy Trinity has pressed on with its offseason weight training. Much of its weight training equipment located in the field house was destroyed.
“A gym at the Halfmoon SportsPlex [P.I.T. Strength] gave us a reduced rate and we’ve got a small weight room in the school,” Barber said. “We’re getting it done, although it’s a little more difficult.”
Moran said all proceeds from Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons’ annual Golf Classic on Monday, June 26, at The Edison Club in Rexford will go toward the teams that lost equipment in the fire. Contact Barber at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 744-6259 for Holy Trinity donations.