Stillwater School Gymnasium Dedicated To Longtime Coach Lilac
The Stillwater community and Section II boys basketball came together recently to honor Mike Lilac. The new high school gymnasium was dedicated to Lilac, who coached at Stillwater for 35 years. A special ceremony was held between the junior varsity and varsity boys basketball games against Corinth.
Lilac started his coaching career at St. Mary’s of Glens Falls. He coached varsity baseball and junior varsity basketball for two years before going to Stillwater at the start of the 1965-66 season, and it was a love affair. He was also the school’s athletic director.
Lilac led the Warriors to a state championship, two state semi-final appearances, three state regional appearances, and a number of sectional and league championships.
Lilac, who serves as the Section II Boys Basketball Chairman, belongs to the Capital District Basketball and New York State Basketball Hall of Fame.
A reception for alumni, friends and family immediately followed the varsity game in the Stillwater Middle School Cafeteria.
“It was a great day. A great feeling to have everybody there. It was just a great weekend. My whole family was there. It was a lot of coaches, players and friends. Obviously, I was surprised and happy. It was almost a little overwhelming,” said Lilac.
Lilac felt the school district did a tremendous job with the new gymnasium which seats about 1,200 spectators.
“Everything they (school district) did was first class. The ceremony was nice. The gym was pretty well-packed for the ceremony,” he said.
Bill Wetherbee, retired school superintendent of South Glens Falls, is Lilac’s secretary for the Section II Basketball Committee and Coordinator of the scoring table at the state tournament. He wears many hats for the Section II Basketball Committee and has a close relationship with Lilac.
“Mike’s leadership and approach are such that he motivates those who work with him to contribute as much as he does. He is selfless and truly committed to the betterment of Section II boys basketball and opportunities for young men to become better people through experiences with basketball,” said Wetherbee. “Unlike some who achieve success like he has and reach positions like he holds, he manifests no ego whatsoever. Instead, he credits those who work with him and fosters a sense of cooperation and collegiality. These qualities speak to his uncommon success as a coach and make his career records unsurprising.”
Bill Higgins, who coached at Fonda-Fultonville and later became the Section II Boys Basketball Chairman, made the trip from Florida to attend the ceremony.
“The dedication of the new Stillwater gym to Mike is a well-deserved honor. He is a legend in Stillwater and throughout Section II. He has always put kids first as is evident when he was one of the founders of the Capital Region Scholar/Athlete program. I have the utmost respect for Mike and I am proud to call him my friend,” he said.
Lilac was very competitive on the court and at times let an official know if he disagreed with a call. Bill Varno of Schenectady officiated actively for 40 years and still does work with the national association.
“Mike is a great guy. His record as a coach speaks for itself, but does not tell the whole story on what he has done for his players. He is a great competitor and expects the same from his players, officials and everyone involved in the game. The dedication of the new court at Stillwater is well-deserved. Mike is an intent coach, always fair and a good friend. I am involved with Mike on the New York State Basketball Commitee as I’m in charge of the officials for the State tournament and the Federation tournament,” said Varno.
Glens Falls’ Doug Kenyon, Executive Director of Section II and Director of the NYS Basketball Tournament, has experienced a long friendship with Lilac.
Kenyon has played a big part in Section II Basketball and the state tournament at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
“Mike and I go back a ways. Mike is an icon in Section II. He has dedicated a great part of his life to the Stillwater Community and, especially, their basketball program with excellence. He further has dedicated a great deal of time and efforts to Section II Basketball. His example has ‘set the standard’ for what all of our communities strive to achieve, not only in basketball and dedication to his community, but to Section II as a whole,” said Kenyon.
Article by Mike Collar