QUEENSBURY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The community around Queensbury Union Free School District is vast, and runs deep – in few places as much as in its sports teams. In the last year, 75 years of Queensbury school athletics history have been dusted off for new celebration – one team, and often one person, at a time.
On Saturday night, a group of those alumni were honored at Queensbury’s first-ever induction ceremony for its new Athletics Hall of Fame. At the Courtyard by Mariott in Lake George, 41 individuals and two entire teams were honored. The group spanned athletes and coaches, covering three decades of school history, ranging from the 1980s all the way back to the ’60s. Some were there across all three, and more.
“I showed up every day, and I worked hard, and I was very intense, and I loved the kids, I loved the school, I loved everything about it,” said John “Jack” LaBombard, an inductee who taught physical education at Queensbury from 1966 to 1997. “Teaching and education in general is a giving profession. A little bit of you gives every day when you go to school. And coaching is a giving profession.”
LaBombard was noted for guiding Queensbury’s Varsity wrestling program across 31 years. Many like LaBombard were tied to specific sports – like alum Robert Glendening, who became a Major League Baseball eight-round draft pick and played for the Chicago Cubs after leaving home.
Others, like longtime physical education teacher John Dennett, were praised for a footprint that touched every sport and every team. Dennett was hailed for reshaping the district’s athletics department as a whole between 1968 and 1982.
“He has taught us that success is not about the destination, but the journey, and that true victory is not just about winning on the field, but about winning in life,” said Dennett’s daughter, Jennifer Dennett Johnston, who stood alongside him on Saturday. “As a father, he has instilled in all of us the values of commitment, respect, and integrity. He has been our pillar of strength, our source of wisdom, and our greatest fan. He has shown us that greatness is not just about what you accomplish, but the impact you have on others, the lives you touch, and the legacy you leave behind.”
The full list of Saturday’s inductees included:
- 1977 Varsity Girls Cross Country (team of distinction)
- Beverly Carpenter ’57 (coach)
- Charles “Chuck” Connolly (coach)
- Jeffrey Cook ’74 (athlete honored posthumously)
- Dr. Amy Phelps Davis ’81 (athlete)
- John Dennett (athletic director/coach)
- Robert “Bob” Glendening ’80 (athlete)
- Quentin Howe ’85 (athlete honored posthumously)
- Dr. John “Jack” Irion (contributor honored posthumously)
- John Irion ’77 (coach)
- John “Jack” LaBombard (coach)
- Joseph Lehet ’71 (coach)
- John “Jay” Marra ’70 (coach)
- Terry Martin (coach)
- Christine Bergeron Merrill ’79 (athlete)
- Lloyd Mott (athletic director/coach honored posthumously)
- Laura VanDenburg Paniccia ’78 (athlete)
- Mark Sheehan ’79 (athlete)
- Craig Short ’77 (athlete honored posthumously)
- Timothy Smith ’63 (athlete)
- William “Bill” Smith, Jr. (coach)
- Elsie Stec (contributor)
- Andrew Varney ’80 (athlete)
- Heidi Mann Vittengl ’82 (athlete)
Queensbury has had the Hall of Fame in the works for some time. In January, a call for applicants was put out by current health, PE, and athletics director Richard Keys. An estimated 300 student-athletes alone take part in between 12 and 15 sports per year at the district.
Saturday’s honorees are the first, and more are set to have their turn in the spotlight. Another 19 inductees from between 1987 and 2000 will be honored in 2024. They include:
- 1997 Varsity Girls Cross Country (team of distinction)
- William “Bill” Anderson, Jr. ’89 (contributor/athlete to be honored posthumously)
- Julie Clark ’89 (athlete)
- Gary Crossman ’92 (athlete)
- Kevin Crossman ’94 (athlete)
- Heather Fiore DiBiase ’93 (athlete)
- Jeffrey Dybas ’87 (athlete)
- Joshua Etu ’99 (athlete)
- Matthew Goetz ’87 (athlete)
- Brendan Harris ’98 (athlete)
- Caitlin Hickin ’00 (athlete)
- Dr. Christine Nicholson ’89 (athlete)
- Scott Paltrowitz ’00 (athlete)
- Suzanne LaMere Seifert ’88 (athlete)
- Daniel Stine ’98 (athlete)
- Eric Stoddard ’00 (athlete)
- Kevin Sullivan (coach)
- Adam Terry ’00 (athlete)
- Robert “Bob” Underwood (coach)
At Saturday’s ceremony, Queensbury Superintendent Kyle Gannon invoked the name of Dr. Jack Irion, a previous superintendent posthumously inducted after leading the district for 21 years, ending in 1994. Gannon was coaching football for some of Irion’s run. After Queensbury lost a game to Scotia one night, Irion told Gannon, “Good game, coach.” It’s praise that the then-future next superintendent wouldn’t soon forget.
“That one statement of encouragement makes me think of all the individuals being honored here tonight. ‘Good game.’ Such a sm+all but poignant way to cap off years of work, hours of practice, daily sacrifices, everything that makes these athletes, coaches and contributors extraordinary,” Gannon said.