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Posted 10 July 2020 at 7:58 am

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Youth football season is off for now; NOFA eyes playing games next spring instead

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 10 July 2020 at 7:57 am

Faced with a large number of Covid-19 Pandemic regulations that would have to be met in order to play the Niagara Orleans Football Association (NOFA) Board of Directors voted Thursday evening to delay the season with an eye to instead playing next spring.

In announcing their decision the NOFA Board stated “Niagara Orleans Football Association (NOFA) has been delayed due to COVID 19 pandemic to a date to be determined. The NOFA organization is tentatively looking to plan for our 2020 season of football and cheer to commence, if possible, in March 2021. As well, NOFA intends to commence the regularly scheduled 2021 season the last week of July 2021.”

“As much as we all love football it just wasn’t worth it. It’s the safety of the children and their families that must come first,” said Board member Geno Allport. “With all the regulations that would have to be met we just couldn’t do it. It isn’t worth it to try. It just wouldn’t be football. So delaying the season was the only way to go. Hopefully by spring things will be eased enough and we we’ll have guidance from the state so that we can have the season then.”

Practices for the NPFA season were scheduled to begin the last week of this month with games to have started in August

Roy-Hart/Barker/Lyndonville football team gets unique nickname

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 9 July 2020 at 9:55 am

Contributed Photos – The Silverbacks nickname logo for the new Roy-Hart/Barker/Lyndonville football team.

When the newly merged Roy-Hart/Barker/Lyndonville eight man football team takes to the field for the first time this coming season it will do so with a very unique and interesting nickname – The Silverbacks.

“We were looking for something that was unique and I think we found it,” said Lyndonville Athletic Director Jim Zeliff of the nickname Silverbacks which are large male gorillas.

“We wanted something that our team and our fans could get behind. We looked at a number of possible nicknames and we asked our players and this is the one they liked,” said Head Coach Joe Suhr.

“The Silverback gorilla is big, aggressive and smart,” added Suhr. “So the nickname ties into our uniform colors  of silver, black and white and it reflects the kind of team we’re looking to field.”

The Silverbacks are scheduled to open their inaugural season on September 11 at Oakfield-Alabama/Elba.

The home and away uniforms for the new Silverbacks squad

Soccer practice begins for Raptors

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 8 July 2020 at 9:55 am

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Practice sessions for area youth sports teams continued to get underway on Tuesday following the easing of some of the Covid-19 Pandemic restrictions. The Albion Raptors girls U17 Division soccer team got in their first practice at Carlton. Here some of the Raptor players work on a passing and ball control drill. Click here to view the Raptors  doing their drills.

Storm preps for GLOW softball season

Contributed Story Posted 8 July 2020 at 9:52 am

Contributed Photo – The Albion Storm Fastpitch Softball’s 12U team started practice Tuesday at Barre Park. They are getting ready for their season with the GLOW Academy league. The girls will play 12 games against Batavia, Attica, and Pavilion. League play starts August 3rd and runs through September 3rd. 

Shelridge begins 7th decade of links action

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 7 July 2020 at 8:58 am

Contributed Photos – Now beginning its seventh decade of links competition the Shelridge Country Club’s first nine holes were constructed in 1959. The course opened for competition in 1960. Here workers grade one of the fairways.

Slowed at the start by restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 Pandemic, the Shelridge County Club’s season is now well underway, a season which marks the start of the club’s seventh decade of links activity.

Planning for the course began in 1958 when a group of local golf enthusiasts formed the Medina Golf Association.

And the list of inaugural club officers, directors and committee chairman reads like a who’s who of local businessman and professionals at the time.

Robert Waters served as the  first club president. The other officers included John Zimmerman (head of the Development Committee), Joe Brundage and Van Hungerford.

The seven Directors included Bernard Hart, Robertson Vosler, John Garlock, R.L. Walters, Barbara Balcerzak, John Lapp Sr. and Paul Parsons.

Committees on membership, bylaws and development included Carl Tuohey, Knud Hansen, Walter Hilger, Henry Pollard, Rolland Birch, Harvey Robbins, John Lapp Jr., Robert Balcerzak, Dr. Fulton Rogers and Fred Benson Jr.

In 1959 the course was named the Shelridge Country Club, one of the names suggested by members, because the course runs through both the towns of Shelby and Ridgeway.

Although it was planned from the start as an 18 hole course only the first nine holes were developed at the start.

During construction, the first nine holes were tested for yardage and hazard placement. Here Stafford Club Pro George Myers tests out the yardage becoming the first player to “play” the new course.

The construction of those first nine holes took place in 1959. During that work tests were done on yardage for the proposed holes and hazard placement. In conducting those yardage tests Stafford Club Pro George Myers had the distinction of playing the first “round” at the site.

The course was officially opened on Sunday June 12, 1960 and Carl Tuohey and Joe Brundage were the first to tee off. However, John Lapp Sr. had the honor of playing the first round on the newly completed course during a Grounds Committee inspection the Friday before. In all some 150 rounds of golf were played that first week.

The inaugural event was a Husband-Wife Scotch Foursome Tournament which saw a tie between Helen and Walter Levanduski and Mr. and Mrs. Richard Broom.

Highlighting that first season was the crowning of Walter Levanduski as the men’s club champion and Mrs. Edward  Slack as the women’s club champion.  Interestingly, Levanduski’s win was a memorable 56 hole marathon victory over Edward Slack which went 20 holes over the then regulation 36 holes.

The organizers dream of having Shelridge become an 18 hole course became a reality in 1985 when the back nine holes were constructed. That work was done by skilled landscaper and course developer Horace Smith.

Another major project was the conversion of the large old barn on the property into a club house and pro shop replacing the small building created the first year by members at the east end of the course near the then Apple Grove Inn.

It has been six decades of steady growth and development for the course which Waters, on the occasion of the course’s 50th anniversary, well stated that “It’s the story of volunteerism at its best, a real community effort. We were playing golf out of town and we really wanted a local course so we decided let’s give it a shot. We just kept putting one foot in front of the other.”

Youth baseball teams begin practice

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 6 July 2020 at 7:52 pm

Photos by Cheryl Wertman – Some three months after practices normally begin, youth baseball, softball and soccer teams were allowed to begin play as of today with the easing of some of the Covid-19 Pandemic restrictions. Ready and anxious to finally get some diamond action in players from Albion’s Sandstone 7-9 and 10-12 age group teams here practice this evening at Sandstone Park. Sandstone is one of five Albion teams, which along with a Medina squad, are looking to play an Orleans County Short Season League schedule beginning at the end of this month.

Some 30 players from Albion, Medina, Lyndonville and Kendall were on hand at the Barre Town Park this evening for the first practice session for players interested in participating in a new Orleans County 13-16 age group baseball program.

Local baseball players compete in NYS Games

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 6 July 2020 at 9:29 am

A quartet of local baseball players are competing in the fifth annual Prep Baseball Report (PBR) New York State Games this week at Cortland.

That foursome includes Medina pitchers Zach Fike and Xander Payne and outfielder Joe Cecchini along with Roy-Hart outfielder Gavyn Boyle. All four will be juniors in high school this fall.

This marks the second year in a row that Fike and Boyle have competed in the NYS Games which is a college showcase event that attracts players from all across the state.

In addition to competing in games, the event also includes defensive workouts and batting practice and all players will have their online profile created and their performance on the field videotaped and hosted on the PBR website  for college coaches to review.

The event, which runs today through Wednesday, is also a qualifier for “Team NY” which will compete in the 2020 Futures Game later in the summer in Georgia.

Kendall ruled the County League in ’96

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 5 July 2020 at 9:14 am

Contributed Photo – Capping off an outstanding 17-1 season, Kendall defeated the Medina Village Sports team 7-2 in the championship game of the 1996 County Baseball League playoffs. The Kendall roster included, in front, Jeff Alberghini, Charlie D’Agostino and Jacob Canale. In the middle row are Trevor Downes, Brian Cole, Eric Westphal, Mark Hansen and Tyler McGonigal. In the back row are Coach Phil D’Agostino, Jim Pruner, Bryan Lape, Mike Miles, Curtiss Rice and Kurt D’Angelo.

Women’s softball season delayed again

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 4 July 2020 at 8:40 am

The local women’s softball season usually gets underway in mid May but this year like all other sports activities it had been been put on hold due to restrictions imposed because of the Covid-19 Pandemic.

The recent easing of those restrictions opened the door to get the season going and Medina Women’s Softball League officials had slated July 6 as the date for the opening evening doubleheaders.

The league is looking to play a six week long regular season. Teams would play doubleheaders each week and there would be no playoffs this season.

The league is looking to have as many as 13 teams this season. Traditionally the league has split up its teams into two divisions for regular season competition.

However, the start of the season has once again been put on hold this time as the league awaits clearance from the national softball governing body the United States Slo-Pitch Softball Association (USSSA).

“We aren’t starting softball yet,” said League President Kathy Riggs-Allen. “USSSA hasn’t given clearance for us to start so we are postponed until further notice!”

Busy league action and a hole-in-one at Hickory Ridge

Contributed Story Posted 3 July 2020 at 4:09 pm

Contributed Photo – Heather Tschetter

It was another good week for golf at Hickory Ridge as three leagues reported in and another hole in one was registered.

The Tuesday Night Ladies league once again has Deb Wood leading the gross with a 43 on the back nine.  Patty Pfister and Judy Schuth were close behind with a 46.  Diane Abel and Pfister both shot 36 to share low net with Schuth who carded a 37 net.  Wood and Able both had birdies.

The Men’s Thursday Night League reports in for the first time this season.  Bennett and Budde lead the standings with 72 points.  Dresser and Flansburg are in second with 56 followed by Foos and Stedman and the team of Drury and Nagy each tied with 56.  The Millers are in fifth with 54 points.   Ken Hinkson shot low gross with a 38 and he shared low net with Dan Hartman with 29.  Hinkson also recorded two birdies.

Although scores were not reported the standings for the Friday Night Mixed Couples League have been posted.  Jim and Marcia Zambito lead with 129 points.  Dave and Melissa cotter are in second with 130 points and Mike and Joan Ayotte are in third with 136 points.  Five other teams are within two points of the leader board.

Finally, another ace for a Hickory Ridge golfer.  On June 19, Heather Tschetter recorded a hole in one on number 3 using an 8 iron for the 130 yard hole.  Witnessing were Deb Wood and Ed and Karen Berlew.

Decision day near for youth football season

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 3 July 2020 at 8:07 am

The decision on whether or not there will be a youth football program locally this season will be decided at a meeting of the Niagara Orleans Football Association (NOFA) Board of Commissioners on July 9.

Practice sessions for the NOFA season traditionally begin the last week of July but like other sports activities the league has been put on hold due to restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 Pandemic.

NOFA’s Executive Board met recently and discussed several possible options for the season and the Board of Commissioners is slated to decide on one of them at the July 9 meeting.

The options include postponing the start of practices until late August when the high school teams begin practice and then have an abbreviated season of about six games.

The options also include canceling the season.

In addition, there is an option to cancel this season and instead play it next spring from March to May.

Also involved in the board’s consideration are the many guidelines that must now be followed both involving player safety and for the hosting of a game.

“That’s where we are at right now,” said Executive Board member Geno Allport. “A best case scenario would be that we would start practice later and have a condensed season. The worst case would be we would cancel the season. And there are a lot of guidelines that would have to be followed. We will just have to see what the commissioners want to do. The main thing is as much as we love football the safety of everyone involved must come first.”

Crusaders cancel motorcycle racing season in Medina

Photo by Tom Rivers: This photo from June 16, 2018 shows young riders during a training class at the Crusaders Motorcycle Club. The Crusaders hold clinics for riders, ages 4 to 8, at the race track on Culvert Road. The class provides riders with basic riding/racing skills. They are taught what all the different colored flags represent, how to watch for the green race light and to practice their starting skills.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 July 2020 at 11:32 am

Dirt track on Culvert Road has hosted races since 1957

MEDINA – The Crusaders Motorcycle Club announced today the dirt track on Culvert Road won’t be hosting any races this year.

The season usually goes from June through August with races on some Sundays. Club leaders were hoping they could host some races before the summer was over, but they made the announcement today there won’t be any competitions at the track.

The club has been in frequent contact with the local Health Department and leaders of the Finger Lakes Region about hosting races. The Crusaders draw several hundred people for their races.

“Our number one priority has always been safety and the cost and liability is too great for us to take the chance and race with the number of racers and spectators that we get at the track,” Brandi DiMatteo, one of the club leaders, posted on the Crusaders Facebook page this morning. “We have decided that all parking spots and seasons passes will just roll over for next year, if for whatever reason you would like your money back – please reach out to us.”

The Crusaders have hosted motorcycle races since 1957.

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Local NCCC athletes earn academic honors

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 2 July 2020 at 9:51 am

Contributed Photos – Local NCCC student/athletes who have earned All-Conference academic honors include Paige Emborsky, Caitlynn Snook and Ethan Lindke.

The honorees also include Maddy Glena, Alisha Scroger and Ashley Hill.

Six former Niagara-Orleans League student/athletes are among 37 Niagara County Community College student/athletes who have been named to the 2019-20 Western New York Athletic Conference Academic All-Conference award list.

The local honorees include Albion High graduate Caitlynn Snook, Medina grad Alisha Scroger, Roy-Hart grads Ethan Lindke, Ashley Hill and Maddy Glena and Newfane grad Paige Emborsky.

Snook and Emborsky were both members of the NCCC women’s basketball team while Scroger, Glena and Hill were on the softball squad and Lindke on the men’s soccer team.

All honorees earned at least a 3.30 grade point average and a minimum of 24 credit hours during the 2019-20 academic year while participating in one season of a sport.

Recalling pony races at Shelby Downs

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 1 July 2020 at 10:19 am

Contributed Photos – During the late 1960’s harness racing fans enjoyed the excitement of pony races on Sunday afternoons in the summer at Shelby Downs which was later renamed Medina Downs.

Western New York has two major harness racing tracks – Batavia Downs and Buffalo Raceway – but in the late 1960’s Orleans County had its own harness track in Shelby Downs which held pony races.

Located on Route 63 just south of Shelby Center, Shelby Downs was the brainchild of Sylvester Falk who at the time worked as the superintendent of the nearby Forrestel Farms.

Sylvester Falk founded the track.

Falk leased 10 acres of land on the west side of Route 63 from Richard Cook and with the help of his wife Maria and a friend, Raymond Hill, began preparing a quarter-mile oval dirt track in April 1966. Aged 61 at the time he had been interested in pony racing since he took part in the sport as a youth in Little Valley, New York.

Sanctioned by the United States Pony Trotter Association, Shelby Downs operated from 1966 to 1969 on Sunday afternoons.

Opening Day was on July 4th 1966 and over 200 spectators were on hand to watch the card of four races for ponies which were less than 50 inches high.

The honor of winning the very first race went to Walter Crutts of Gasport who drove his pony “Mickey” home to victory in a time of 2:35 for two laps around the oval.

Opening day at Shelby Downs on July 4, 1966.

“Peanuts”, driven by Wilbert Fuller of Shelby Center was second and “Star Dust”, driven by Charles Quackenbush, also of Shelby Center, was third in the historic opening event whose field also included “Spark Plug”, driven by Glenn Fuller of Shelby Center, “Pixie Girl” driven by Art Wilkins of Albion and “George M”, driven by Frank Behl of Shelby.

Falk himself earned a spot in the winners circle late in the season with a pony named “Black Magic”.

Interestingly, the leading driver at the track that summer was a lady – Vera Gibbons.

The track operated for three more seasons and was renamed “Medina Downs” in 1969 when Mr. and Mrs. Horace Riches of Shelby took over as managers when Falk moved from the area.

Today nothing remains of the track as the land on which the ponies raced around the quarter-mile dirt oval, has returned to being farm fields.