Schoharie County High School Sports Cope With Irene Devastation
While other schools are going through their normal routine in athletics, it's a different story for Middleburgh and Schoharie.
Tropical Storm Irene left its mark on that region in a big way - enough to delay the start of school this year.
Schoharie is expected to officially open its doors on Monday, Sept. 12 and Middleburgh, one week later (Sept. 19).
If that wasn't enough, Tropical Storm Lee came through to add her own one-two punch.
At Schoharie, the school campus and athletic fields are in good shape. The issue is that many of the student-athletes lost their homes and belongings.
"This is an issue that we will be dealing with for a very long time. The first day that the teams got back to practicing was Friday (Sept. 4) and we had about 20 per cent attendance. On Tuesday (Sept. 5), that percentage was about 85 per cent so things are getting better. Not sure how this will play out as it has never happened before, but our community will persevere and fight to get back, it is what they call 'Indian Pride,'" said Schoharie athletic director Jamie Rockhill.
Rockhill reports that 12 fall sports teams, from varsity to modified, are taking a hit. Girls and boys soccer, girls volleyball, girls tennis, girls and boys cross country and golf.
"I actually had to work out of my home office today because of the rain we suffered yesterday and last night. Many roads in Schoharie County are closed and the SCS Superintendent wanted to limit today's travel. The school is being used for fire and rescue operations and serving meals three times a day," said Rockhill.
The Schoharie girls volleyball is scheduled to compete in the Scotia-Glenville Tournament on Saturday and Rockhill hopes that comes true.
"It's a nice tournament and maybe we can play there. When you look at Main St. in Schoharie, it gives you a feeling of Katrina-ish. A wide range of people come to our school. They're are a strong community and are working hard to rebuild already. I dare not say that I know how it feels." said Rockhill.
Flood waters covered the Middleburgh High School gymnasium floor and warped it. In the last week, it has been stripped to the bare concrete.
"We are using the elementary school gymnasium for volleyball practices and home games until we have a new floor (if that happens before the season is over)," said Middleburgh athletic director Jon Derochie. "Our fields were totally submerged and have been left soggy and covered with inches of silt that was drying and hardening (before it rained Thursday). Our track was covered as well."
Soccer practices have continued at the elementary school and home games will be played at the Valley Soccer Complex on Route 145.
"The track has been cleared and the mud/silt/dirt removed. There doesn't appear to be any further damage and I am hoping by spring it will be ready for track season. Our golf team has postponed matches since Irene hit and matches have been rescheduled. It is our intention to start modified sports practices on Monday, September 12," said Derochie.
Many of the athletes and their families have been impacted by Irene.
"We wanted to try to give them some semblence of normalcy by having practices and keeping scheduled games while they worked through this tragedy. We are fortunate that we have facilities at our disposal to allow us to do just that. I have been impressed with and am proud of my coaches and athletes and their hard work and determination despite all that has befallen us because of Irene," said Derochie.
At this point, the Middleburgh is shooting for the week of September 19 to open. There is ongoing moving of equipment and supplies, cleaning and and sanitizing, and removal and replacing by literally hundreds of volunteers - administration, faculty, staff, students, comunity members, National Guard, and incredibly big-hearted "strangers" from the outlying areas.
"My family and I are incredibly fortunate. We live outside of the village of Schoharie out of the flood plain. We have a soggy yard and had some branches to pick up. That was the extent of things; unlike so many of our neighbors in the village who lost everything," said Derochie.
As Rockhill summed up, "We're knocked down pretty good, but we're tough. We're a small school with maybe 80-100 kids. A very large geographic school district with a lot of townships. I hope we can continue our athletic events on Monday."
Article by Mike Collar