HomeBasketballAmsterdam teachers, staff take on local first responders in charity basketball game

Amsterdam teachers, staff take on local first responders in charity basketball game


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Greater Amsterdam School District faculty, staff and administrators took on members of the Amsterdam Police Department, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, Amsterdam Fire Department and Hagaman Volunteer Fire Department, all to fundraise for the Special Olympics and the Amsterdam Educational Foundation.

“I took the idea from my brother [Chris] at Mohonasen, they played the fire and police for a number of years,” said Superintendent Richard Ruberti. “I reached out to Sheriff [Jeff] Smith, [Police] Chief [John] Thomas and [Amsterdam Fire] Chief [Tony] Agresta and just asked if they wanted to have a game — to play against our staff for a great cause, and they were on board immediately.

“It took about three weeks to come together. Forty-five people signed up for it and we got some really great sponsors to help out. It’s a great turnout and we’re really excited to have such a nice community event.”

The game itself wasn’t exactly close. The teachers and staff held down their home court with a 75-47 victory.

“Getting the opportunity to come out and interact with the community for a great cause is always a good day,” Agresta said. “I think that our memories were of us being able to jump higher and shoot better than we can now, but it definitely jogged some of those memories.”

The fundraiser for the Special Olympics ties into Amsterdam’s Unified Sports programs, which allows students with or without intellectual disabilities the ability to play on the same team and work toward a common goal.

“Those [Unified games] are some of my favorite events to go and watch, just the camaraderie between the athletes and the partners,” said Carla Pasquarelli, the school district’s athletic trainer. “When we’re putting on those events, nothing else matters except having fun and helping each other.”

Amsterdam offers three Unified sports teams, including bocce, basketball and bowling, as well as a Unified physical education class.

The Amsterdam Educational Foundation works to provide opportunities to students that go beyond the district’s annual budget. Some examples of the foundation’s work include access to state-of-the-art advancements in science and technology classes, access to college courses and high school and potential international exchange programs.

In addition to playing in the game, Pasquarelli spent the past few weeks promoting the game on social media by making digital player cards of Amsterdam staff.

“A ton,” Pasquarelli said on how much she was looking forward to the event. “It’s been a few years since we’ve done a game like this and it was great to see the community come together for such a fun event.”

For most of the game, Pasquarelli played point guard for the teachers and staff.

“You know what, I might be short, but I’m still pretty quick,” she said with a laugh. “I’m not so much of a shooter anymore, but I’ll take the assists.”

“It’s one of those things where kids in elementary school may not realize teachers leave the school, so if they see them out in public it’s a big deal,” Ruberti said. “Same thing with the first responders. To be able to see police officers and firefighters not dressed in their uniforms, but as people they can talk to, I think helps develop a great relationship.”

While there were still officers on duty patrolling the event, most were able to exchange their uniforms and badges for gym shorts and a basketball.

“That was easy, if you were on duty, you weren’t playing. The rest of us, we came and ‘tried’ to play,” said Sheriff Smith. “It’s something fun and shows the community that we can work together, and that’s really what it’s all about.

“We have a presence in the school and we work very closely with the school community, so raising money for their educational foundation and the Special Olympics is a win-win for us.”

“For the general public to see us interact without our gear on or being on duty,” Agresta added, “and even for our kids to be able to see us play, it’s been a long time since a lot of us have played and it was a lot of fun for everyone around.”

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