Changes coming as fall practice begins

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BENNINGTON — As the summer winds down and fall practice begins on Monday, schools in both Vermont and New York state will see some changes.

In Vermont, high school golf will move from its usual spot in the spring to a fall start, matching it up with its Empire State counterpart.

"We won't know how the numbers are until kids come out. The initial fear is there might not be as many kids playing," said MAU athletic director Tim Brown. "Kids that golf [in the spring] and play another fall sport would drop out, but you might get kids that play lacrosse or baseball to play golf, so I think it'll balance out."

Playing golf as a fall sport instead of as a spring sport helps in a handful of different ways. One is course availability — although Brown said that hasn't been a problem at Mount Anthony Country Club. Another is that bordering states, including New York and Massachusetts, play during the fall.

But one of the main reasons is the weather.

"There's a big push in the [Vermont Principals Association] to reduce varsity sports in the spring because of the weather, it's really difficult to get games in," Brown said. "A lot of times in the spring, the first time they get outside [to play] is the first match."

Brown said they'll play a handful of matches in the Berkshire League, but they will not be a part of the league, like MAU volleyball and swimming.

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Also, there will be a new fall sport at Hoosick Falls: cross-country. It joins football, boys and girls soccer, golf and field hockey on the list of interscholastic activities in the fall for the Panthers.

The coach will be John MacDonald, a special education teacher at Hoosick Falls.

According to Hoosick Falls athletic director Tom Husser, there are about a dozen athletes signed up, but that number could grow when practice begins on Monday.

Hoosick Falls will join the Wasaren League, along with Berlin, Saratoga Central Catholic, Stillwater, Greenwich, Hoosic Valley, Granville, Mechanicville and Tamarac.

"I think at first it will be athletes who are just running, not in another sport," said Husser, who also coaches the girls soccer team. "But we could have crossovers. If one of my players wanted to run cross-country, they can."

The program was funded in part by the family of student Damir Wade, a student who died in December. Wade was a ninth-grader at Hoosick Falls who wanted to participate in a cross-country running program. As part of his memorial, the family donated some of the money to start the program in his memory.

This isn't the first time Hoosick Falls has had a track program. According to Vern Weeden's "unofficial" statistics, Hoosick Falls had track as a varsity sport through most of the 1970s before it dissolved. The program was revived in the late 1980s before dissolving again after the 1992 season.


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